Tagged: Bernie Wrightson

Creative Conversation With Adam Gorham

Adam Gorham is a rising star in comics. Don’t believe me? What else would you call someone who’s being shot straight to the stars by drawing one of Marvel’s highest profile characters with a movie coming out? Plus, the fact it’s a cosmic character with space crime overtones. Adam Gorham’s a model of work ethic and determination, not to mention humility. He gives us a rough outline of his journey thus far, what we can expect from the upcoming Rocket #1 out on May 10th and offers sage advice to artists drawing their own path in the industry.

MK: Adam, thank you so much for having a Creative Conversation with me today. One of the questions I always like to start with is, do you remember the first comic you owned or the first one that made an impression on you?

AG: the pleasure is mine! I’m excited to talk about Rocket with my pal Matt Klein!

MK: Nice rhyme.

AG: Totally unintentional. I amaze myself (laughs). The first comic I owned and really cherished, and has left an impact on me to this day, is Batman: The Cult, the graphic novel. My father got it for me, probably without even looking inside of it. This was when comics were at their height in the 90’s and the local newspaper and cigar shop sold comics. Bernie Wrightson’s work was my first major influence.

MK: I freaking love that book. I mean, Jim Starlin and Bernie Wrightson, it’s a gem. In talking with people in shops that’s an often undiscovered gem. You mentioned Bernie Wrightson as your first major influence, who were some others at different points in your journey to today?

AG: Well, I loved comics as a kid, but rarely read them. I liked them for the art and would draw what I saw. All the mythos and lore I got loosely from 90’s cartoons like [Batman: TAS], Spider-Man, X-Men, etc. so without knowing many names at the time, I was certainly informed by the heavyweights of the 90’s. However, I fell out of comics around ten or so, about the time when kids let go of their “kids stuff”. I didn’t get back into loving comic artwork until eleventh grade, and that was after discovering Alex Ross, particularly Kingdom Come.

MK: So good!

AG: It was a revelation for me. Ross’ work was the first time for me that comic art felt like classic works of art that could be hung somewhere.  When I started getting back into it, I was in love with what Bryan Hitch was doing on The Ultimates. In fact, I really liked Ultimate Marvel at the time. Leinil Yu was another favorite.

MK: There was a ton of top talent working on Marvel’s Ultimate Universe at that point. Do you have a favorite Ultimate Universe run or story?

AG: Well I really liked the Ultimate X-Men stuff for a while. The first arc was epic. I enjoyed most of Return to Weapon X. Ultimates 2 probably stands apart though as the height of those titles.it took FOREVER for it to come out, but in the end it was pretty satisfying

MK: Great art can be worth the wait. How did you come to the decision that working in comics was what you wanted to do?

AG: I drew all my life. That’s not saying much. Most kids love to draw. However, I was always applauded for how well I drew for my age, so I grew up with drawing as “my thing.” And for a long time that was enough. I didn’t have a direct application or career in mind for it, but I excelled at drawing superheroes, so comics seemed an obvious choice. The only thing is, I was a terrible student with no ambition. Drawing comics as a career was an easy thing to talk about, but pursuing it was murky and not always tangible. I did go to art school and flamed out because, as I say, terrible student. Ultimately, after a few years of working one dirty job or another, my partner dragged me to my first comic convention and really opened up my eyes to this world I’d previously only known through Wizard magazines and comic shops. I was working in a grocery warehouse. Things with my significant other were getting serious. We wanted to start a new chapter in our lives and it became clear I needed a new goal in life. Or a goal in life. So when I left the warehouse job, I went for broke and looked for a job illustrating. I found one off Craigslist (laughs).

MK: What was the job?

AG: My first ever gig drawing comics was a 128-page graphic novel, written by a Canadian film director who wanted to adapt his indie vampire movie into a comic. Before that I had drawn a few scant pages for my own ideas. And once I started there was no looking back.

MK: That sounds a bit like you jumped into the deep end with a 128 page project right off the bat!

AG: Totally. It was the first opportunity I found and I seized it. I didn’t know how or where else to find work. In the past I had sent submissions to publishers, back when most publishers still took open submissions. I have a polite and informative rejection letter from Marvel, actually.

MK: That’s freaking awesome though! You talked about going to a convention kind of blew open your mind about comics and the industry. As an artist, how do you like conventions now being on the other side of the table? because I remember that’s how we met and i bugged you for a sketch that i recently proudly showed off to io9.

AG: Going as a fan and going as part of your job are two very different experiences. Pros and cons to each side. When I went as fan all I could think about was getting comics signed and saying, “Hi” to people I admired. I put myself through crazy lines and jumped through hoops to meet creators like Alex Ross, Brian Bolland and so on. It was fun but exhausting. You really invested a part of yourself. As soon as I started tabling, that was out the window. It’s not like I made a conscious decision to regard conventions differently. It’s just that creating a book and taking it to market changes your priorities.

MK: it’s part of your business. you’re a brand now with obligations.

AG: Precisely.

MK: Do you have any memorable requests from fans at conventions? Or any favorite sketches you’ve done?

AG: I’ve never had a bizarre request. Everything I’ve been asked to draw has been pretty fun, although I think I’ve only recently started drawing well at conventions. The past couple years I’ve improved, whereas drawing at a table was an uncomfortable experience. I got the hang of it though. So anything beyond a year or two ago I look back on and cringe. Your Man-Bat is a favorite of mine. I did a Frank Miller Dark Knight at NYCC that was very nice.

Man-Bat sketch by Adam Gorham

MK: if you could go back some years, what advice would you give yourself about being a comic book artist?

AG: With hindsight there’s so much I would impart. My problems starting out was, I thought I knew just how much work was involved with making comics. I would go back and tell myself “Nope. Work harder.” One thing I tell others is not to feel beholden to any one thing they’ve drawn. Draftsmanship is so very important. teaching yourself to draw things over and over, refining, and not being precious about something because you spend an hour on it. Your ideas and skill will always improve with every pass if you put in the effort, so it’s crazy to me to draw something once and thinking, “Well, I can see this is off, this other thing is wonky, but I just spent two hours drawing it, so good enough.” I’ve redrawn entire pages because a better idea struck me while I was driving home or at the store or on a walk.

MK: How many hours a day do you draw?

AG: I draw every day. Working constantly. Some days I work eight hours and others twelve or sixteen. Depends on where I’m at. I have two kids that, once they’re home, I can’t do anything else until they’re in bed. So I don’t always draw as much as I want to in a work day. But I try to make up with time later

MK: That’s incredibly intimidating and inspiring at the same time (laughs). Let’s pivot real quick to your ridiculously exciting new series coming up. So, congratulations on being the artist on the upcoming Rocket #1 with Al Ewing. It seems like a pretty awesome moment to be working on this character with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 coming out so close to the release of the series. When you got the gig, how was the book described to you?

AG: It was a thrilling experience for me because of the sheer amount of suspense involved.

I was wrapping up The Violent at Image.

MK: Lovely book if i might add.

AG: I was worried what I’d move on to. Like, I had some options, and I had some ideas of what step to take next. I was gutted, to be honest, because i wanted The Violent to carry on. Ed [Brisson] had this great idea for the next chapter and I was ready for it. So, I was sweating it a little. Then later one afternoon while I was at the supermarket Ii got an email from Marvel asking if I was interested in working for them. That alone was very exciting, but it could’ve meant anything from a cover to a tie-in or whatever

MK: Sure.

AG: But naturally I said yes. they told me they’d have some information in a couple days. For two days my mind went WILD with possibilities

MK: Was Rocket Raccoon on that list of possibilities?

AG: Ha! No. I figured since I had just done a street level crime comic, something like Punisher or whatever would be the obvious route. I met with a good friend of mine, Michael Walsh, who was doing Rocket and Groot at the time. We were giddy over what it could be, no matter how small. When Marvel offered me a new #1 ongoing, I was intoxicated. Like, it wasn’t even that it was Rocket. At the time, we were calling it something else. The change of name was also in the cards. But the fact I’d be coming on with such a great opportunity was unreal. Anyway, when we finally got talking about what the book would be, my place as an artist began to make sense.

MK: How so? And this is an interesting pattern here, your first comic is a 128 page book, your first gig at Marvel is an ongoing for one of the most publicly recognized characters! You’re really seizing these opportunities that not everybody gets. It’s inspiring.

AG: I forget who exactly gave me the lowdown, but they said the vision for this book would be Rocket in his element pulling heists in space. In conversation we compared it to Parker graphic novels. Al [Ewing] had this idea to use prose, reinforcing the theme of a hard-boiled thriller. So right away we talked about how pages would be structured to accommodate Al’s prose. and how Rocket’s default outfit in this series would be a suit, open collar, no tie. Parker, even Daniel Ocean make good comparisons, but our Rocket has a broken heart that reminds me more of George Clooney’s Jack Foley from “Out of Sight.”

MK: You just named one of my top 10 favorite films of all time!

AG: IT’S SO GOOD! Fun story about that movie. When I was a kid I was grounded. I forget why, but I know I earned it. My parents left to get groceries one saturday afternoon. While they were out my friends called asking if I’d go to the movies with them. Somehow I thought I could sneak out, see a two hour movie, and bus it home before they ever got home. The only thing playing at the theatre was “Out of Sight” which I had seen ads for but wasn’t the type of movie I was rushing to see at the time. Man, oh man, it was the coolest thing I ever saw at that point.

MK: Uh, yeah! Seriously, anybody reading this who hasn’t seen “Out of Sight” needs to immediately go watch it!

AG: And I felt like such a smooth operator for sneaking out to see this slick flick. I was like, twelve or thirteen at the time. I can’t recall. But I walked out of the theatre like, “Look at me now, world!”

MK: Did you get busted?

AG: Oh, of course! My parents were out of the house for maybe an hour, discovered I took off, and had three hours to sit and plan my punishment. I walked into verbal cannon fire.

MK: That’s epic. Okay, we’re in the home stretch here. If someone’s been living in a bubble for the last few years and has no idea who Rocket is, how would you describe your new series to them?

AG: First off, congratulations on leaving your bubble. Let me introduce you to Rocket: he’s a scruffy outlaw, a lost soul, a space raccoonoid looking for his place in the galaxy when he’s not saving it with the Guardians. That place usually ends up being a dangerous one, where he’s risking it for, surprisingly, a chance at love lost. If that doesn’t work out, then cold revenge.

MK: Who is on your Mount Rushmore of comics?

AG: I forget how many heads are on Rushmore, but let’s say four, and my Rushmore of Comics is comprised of: Frank Quitely, Alex Ross, Bernie Wrightson, and Moebius.

MK: That’s an eclectic looking Mount Rushmore!

AG: Rushmore is really weird, when you think about it.

MK:  Last but not least: If you meet someone that’s never read a comic before, what 5 reads would you tell them to pick up?

AG: For Golden Age adventure, I recommend Prince Valiant. For super heroics I recommend All-Star Superman. For horror I’d suggest Afterlife With Archie. For great crime, if you’ve already read The Violent, be sure to check out Ed Brisson’s Murder Book. For sci-fi, Black Science is pretty neat.

MK: Adam, thank you so much for giving me this time. I really appreciate you, man. I can’t wait to read Rocket #1.

Make sure you pre-order Rocket #1 at Forbidden Planet now and pick it up on Wednesday, May 10th when it arrives in store.

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IDW FTW

My hat is off to IDW, as they are truly showing the other companies what it means to publish comics in the new millennium. They publish the most mainstream of mainstream titles, but find the coin to get the nicest, small interest art books on the shelves to boot. They have all the prestige of a small boutique press, but are shameless in their high profile licenses.

If I went back in time twenty years and told you (if you were alive, and demographically speaking that is a safe bet) that ONE COMPANY would have the licensing rights to ALL of the following titles, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Crow, Godzilla, G.I. Joe, and Magic the Gathering, you would swear I was lying…and those are just the titles they’re shipping this week!

And True Blood, which I omitted as nobody from twenty years ago knew what the heck that was.

NOW keep in mind that IDW is also publishing Frankenstein Alive, Alive! #2, the sequel to Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein (arguably one of the best rendered fantasy art stories of our time) as well as putting out beautiful, Artist edition reprints of Bernie Wrightson’s Muck Monster AND Sergio Aragone’s Groo and you can begin to see the bigger picture.

IDW is performing miracles, churning out quality comics to appeal to both the lowest of the mainstream ignoramuses and the snootiest of the high-minded comic book purists.

Get on board the IDW love fest and drink the IDW Kool-Aid! Continue reading

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A Whale of a Con

San Diego Comic Con is THIS WEEK! While all of the top talents booze, schmooze and chanteuse their way through the biggest pop culture festival in America, the publishing industry that started it all will still be turning out great titles.

Join us this week, here in the hallowed halls of The Forbidden Planet, for the amazing, incredible weekly comic book extravaganza known as “New Comics Wednesday,” a.k.a. “Business As Usual Con, 2012,” which is now in it’s 28th week running!

TOWERING TITLES

Titles premiering the week of SDCC can be astonishing! In 2002, Mike Mignola’s Amazing Screw On Head hit the stands on opening week, and in 2006 it was Alan Moore stealing the show’s thunder with a little slip case bound, three volume set of Lost Girls.

This week?

Image wants the world to know they’re launching a spin off to the once obscure, now high-profile bizarro crime comic CHEW this week with Chew Secret Agent Poyo #1. Will this be the big, big book of the Con? I dunno’, IDW is launching their own #1 with Battle Beasts #1 and I cannot WAIT to read that sucker and find out how they squeaked a narrative into THAT tiny 80’s toyline.

Dark Horse is keeping in the spirit of BAUC 2012 with the latest issue of Buffy Season 9, as well as the latest issue of their continuously impressive neo-horror comic Creepy (#9).

Creepy has been a sleeper title, a blink and you miss it treat where some of comics best established creators in horror and beyond let their scraggly hair down to have a little fun. Monthly horror stories from all sides of the tracks, with contributing talents such as Bernie Wrightson, Kelly Jones, Steve Niles, Peter Bagge, and more!

Dark Horse is adding another monthly horror book on to your pull list this week with the premier of Eerie #1. Will lightning strike twice? I sure hope so!

THE BIG TWO

Rumors are already spoiling Marvel’s thunder, as many of the big announcements The House of Ideas plans to reveal are already common knowledge online. Rumors such as a wide spread relaunch of several big name titles, such as X-Men and Avengers, with new creators, costumes, and rosters. While not launching at the same time, most of these new books will start over with new #1 numbers on their cover.

Now where did they get that idea, I wonder? Continue reading

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Fret-Con

Wolverine #310 hits the stands this week, and with it comes some shocking revelations. Remember when Wolverine cut off Sabertooth’s head in 2007’s Wolverine #55? Well guess what…MAYBE HE DIDN’T!

Hurts, doesn’t it?! Some super villains are just too cool and iconic to leave in the depths of hell to rot. Wolverine #310 plans on telling us HOW Sabertooth survived his amputation/fatal beheading, but for many fans the answer will still smack of betrayal.

Let’s talk ret-cons.

Action Comics #11 also arrives this week, but it promises to be the origin story of the new 52’s version of Superman, the ret-conned version of the Man of Steel. DC also has Before Watchmen Ozymandias #1 with Jae Lee on art duties and Len Wein writing. This is one of the teams I was looking forward to on this project…but now I’m scared! “What might they ret-con?!”

KEEP IT SAFE

Comics are a long game. Sure, we might be miffed at Wolverine #310 for changing things so Sabertooth can return, but are we still mad at the ret-cons we like? Is anybody upset that Magneto lived after being blown up on Asteroid M, or the time when he was revealed to be alive from being cloned? Are we cheesed off that they ret-conned Bruce Wayne to have a friend who became Hush? I for one am happy that Generation X-star Chamber is back to his hollow faced self after all the crazy malarkey with Apocalypse and M Day. Continue reading

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Assemblage Avenglllllllle!

VENGERS MOVIE! THIS WEEKEND! AAAAAGH! AND FREE COMIC BOOK DAY! SCREAM and RUN AROUND, waving your ARMS around LIKE a crazy WOMBAT with a sugar HIGH! AAAAGH! AAAAAAAAAGGGGHHHH!

As covered COPIOUSLY here at Unkiedev’s Amazing Stuff, comic book movies are awesome, but comic books are awesome with a side order of unicorn rainbow disco fries!  Not only are comic books CHEAPER than the movies, you get to re-read them as many times as you like for the price of admission.

Let’s get this firecracker lit!

BEST AVENGERS COMICS TO KEEP THE PARTY ROLLING!

5. Avengers The Kree-Skrull War HC

I’m not just recommending this because it’s on sale this week, I’m recommending it because this endures as some of the Avenger’s finest moments. Two alien races decide that Earth shall be the battleground for their cosmic mutual destruction, and Captain America, Iron-Man, Thor and a slew of others have to set these up-jump E.T.s straight! WHAM!

4. Essential Avengers


See where it all started…or forever be a poindexter know-nothing dweeboid! Great fun at a great value, a sure fire fun time for readers of all ages.

3. Avengers Disassembled


The dark tale of the darkest moment of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Decades in the making, Avengers Disassembled is a tight story about the terrors in our own back yard. Watch the machine fly apart when the Avenger’s find out the risks inherent in placing the good of the Universe before the needs of their own family.

2. Young Avengers


An uplifting counterpoint to Disassembled, Young Avengers gets everything about super hero comics right! Tons of bright fun with enough modern angst to make it a thoroughly modern read.

Continue reading

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New Year’s Read Solutions

Welcome to the Weekly Planet, Forbidden Planet’s in-shop (and online) newsletter! The Planet is always jam-packed with fun recommendations and product highlights, and this week WOULD be no exception t’were it not New Years Week.

New Years isn’t a time for regrets, and that’s why New Years resolutions should be made in the interest of looking forward, not back! But, “Boo-hOO! I didn’t try hard enough last year!” I hear you *SOB* into your Adventure Time pillow. “I drank too much! I didn’t learn to speak Spanish like I promised myself I would. I wrapped plastic wrap around my face and wore a Tri-cornered hat, using a mop handle for a pegleg and ran around in the window displays at Bloomingdales screaming that I was the Ghost of Peter Stuyvesant!”

Here’s a New Years Resolution for you, Weepy: I, Unkiedev promise not to give two fig-newtons about yer dang cry-baby problems and antics in the new year.

INSTEAD I have a mutually beneficial plan to make resolutions that we’ll ALL profit from. Let’s resolve to read a new Graphic novel each month, ESPECIALLY books we haven’t read before.

Let’s get some serious GN out of the way.

Blankets, Craig Thompson (W/A), Top Shelf

The best coming of age graphic novel of all time. If you haven’t read it, you should. Thought provoking, sad, beautiful, haunting, and wonderfully drawn.

MAUS, Art Spiegelman, Pantheon

This is comics’ finest moment. Transcending the medium as no comic had before, Maus stands alone as a touching work of art. THINK about all of the films, poetry, and literature spun out of the tragedy of the Holocaust and MAUS is the stand out work on understanding living-survivors grief, loss, and trauma.

Many folks haven’t read this, and I understand why. It’s a doozy. We turn to comics as an escape from realism, and rarely for unique looks at historical tragedy. Spiegelman knows this. His anthropomorphic characters humanize while they make the material digestible. Continue reading

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At Long Last, an Edgy Batman

Sorry I wasn’t around last week…I took the week off in order to save up enough money to buy this week’s TOP TWO NOT TO BE MISSED HITS!

In 1988, a few years after they published The Dark Knight Returns and a year after Watchmen, DC released another grim and gritty comic steeped in the flavor of the times called Batman The Cult. Penned by Jim Starlin (who had garnered attention at Marvel through his work on Adam Warlock and Captain Marvel) and drawn by the legendary Bernie Wrightson, Batman The Cult also featured Bill Wray (creator of Hellboy Jr. and notorious Ren & Stimpy background artist) on colors.

Batman The Cult almost reads as an Elseworlds story, as it is based on a premise slightly unsavory to Batfans: What if a foe psychologically broke Bats? This theme of ultimate defeat reappears from time to time, most notable in Knightfall and Batman R.I.P., though The Cult tells it tough and stark.

Batman is kidnapped, starved, beaten, drugged and abused to the point where his brain gets woozy enough to break. This torture is administrated at the hands of a mystic in the guise of a slum preacher named Deacon BlackFire. Blackfire then uses Batman as a killing machine against his enemies…yes Batman kills. With Guns, TOO!

In this story Batman uses guns (loaded with both bullets and tranquilizers), drives a monster truck version of the Batmobile, and features Jason Todd in one of his best pre-death appearances. Does Batman save the day and overcome all obstacles? Not without scars, he doesn’t!

The Cult is…an interesting story. Batman is after all a man. Men do fail. Batmen must also Bat-Fail. The Cult is a well rounded look at Batman’s mental frailty, far subtler than Arkham Asylum and WAY subtler than Batman R.I.P.

Curious? Check it out. But not this week. THIS was all a preamble for this week’s recommendation: Continue reading

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Frank Frazetta: Legend

By Devin T. Quin

Barry Windsor Smith

As the internet pushes the frontiers of fantasy and concept art to greater heights it becomes increasingly more difficult to remember a world without conceptart.com, imaginefx magazine, Spectrum and deviantart.com. The fantasy artist, likewise, has evolved into smaller, faster and more stylized professionals than ever before. If one would follow the evolution comparison we could argue that contemporary fantasy artists are a bunch of chickens!

Not because they are cowardly, but because they are a hearty, versatile breed of artists flourishing successfully. They are plentiful, and they are productive. Where fantasy art used to be relegated to the seedy covers of men’s magazines, and helpful instructors in this style unheard of, today’s fantasy artists can access peer reviews on countless internet forums or even in classrooms across the collegiate USA!

Some of these artists will never find work, and will live out their lives as internet trolls and nay-sayers, creating worthless chicken scratches of derivative quality and clucking their discontent at popular artists and peers to anyone who’ll read their bitter posts. Continue reading

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