Tagged: Frank Quitely

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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Forbidden Planet NYC Sponsoring This Week’s Geek Girl Brunch

IMG_2285Lotsa free comics, a special coupon, and some random neat-o surprises (for example, one attendee’s going home with a 1:100 Grant Morrison variant to Multiversity #1, someone’s got a copy of Frank Quitely’s DC art book coming to them… etc.). The event’s booked solid with a waiting list, but be sure to get in touch with them if you’d like to be involved in their future gigs.

Check out this Batgirl piece Cameron Stewart drummed up to celebrate the party!

Cameron Stewart Batgirl Geek Girl BrunchUPDATE 1/23/15: We’re also providing a Batman Cookie Jar for the GGB crew to giveaway via raffle!

Entertainment Earth Batman Cookie Jar

 

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U.D.’s Review-Dees, Episode 2

FLEX MENTALLO: Man of Muscle Mystery, Grant Morrison (W), Frank Quitely (A), DC

Like the best puzzles, Flex Mentallo can be viewed at many angles. Let’s start on the surface and dive deep.

Flex Mentallo is the bizarre debut of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, the creative team who will go on to create the sensational, yet haunting, We3, All Star Superman, Earth 2 and many other fine titles. It features a leopard bikini-briefs wearing muscleman, who is essentially Charles Atlas, made mystic as he attempts to find his super-hero buddies in order to stop the end of the world.

Layered on top of this adventure is the suicide hotline confessions of a rock star and comic book writer processing his need for comics, rooted in his unhappy childhood, and increasingly questioning the place for such happy-go-lucky faire in today’s reality.

This comic book creator IS the creator of Flex, our erstwhile protagonist, and in his pill-induced death-throes he begs for the superheroes of his youth to save him from his present.

Is Flex’s quest to save the world really about rescuing his creator from himself? Does the entire story take place in the dying mind of a scared twenty-something?

Yes, and no. You’d need a PHD to fully grasp everything going on here.

See, the graphic novel Flex Mentallo is also Grant Morrison’s post-Watchmen dissertation on the state of the comic book industry, as well as a treatise on the origins of ideas and the nature of multiple realities.

Within the context of Flex Mentallo, the graphic novel is a self-contained reality trying to bleed into our universe in order to save itself from destruction. The fictional characters within plead that they are alive, that they want to live, and they intend to bring about a regenesis for themselves by introducing their world into your head as fiction to awaken when you, the reader, become shaman enough to give them physical life in your own reality. Continue reading

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It’s Like Some Wonderful Dream

A few books that were, cosmically speaking, never supposed to see print will be released in the next couple of weeks, giving everybody a chance to get lucky with some amazing reads. While we’re at it, NOW would be a good time to buy a lottery ticket, apply for a job you aren’t, strictly, qualified for and confess your love to a distant crush.

If these comics are finally being released then GOD must have decided to cut all of us a break. Time to push our luck!

SHARKNIFE VOL 1 & Vol 2, Corey “Rey” Lewis, Oni Press

The 2005 first edition of Oni Press’s head turning manga, Sharknife, has an ad in the back promising that Sharknife Vol. 2 would be out in the fall of that year.

It is finally being released this week, as well as a reprint of the first volume. What is this book, why was it so delayed and why should you care?

Corey Lewis is an annoyingly cute cartoonist with a fantastic, frantic style amped up to 11 on energy drinks and pixie sticks. His work is so hip it has to wear a MuuMuu to be comfortable. He’s done some work here and there, most noticeably in UDON’s Street Fighter and Rival Schools titles. He had a fun graphic novel out many moons ago called Peng, about (and remember I did warn you about the hipsterness) a winner-take-all kung-fu ninja Kick-ball tournament.

He lives in Seattle and freely admits that he dropped the ball.

Sharknife was an impressive debut book for the then 22 year old Lewis. Followers of Scott Pilgrim would find the tone and material familiar…Lewis and Pilgrim’s creator Bryan Lee O’Malley were good buddies and positively influenced each other’s work. Lewis stated that, after his debut, he let down his productivity because he thought he had his foot in the door…only to realize that the job was about sustaining momentum, NOT breaking in.

The book focuses on a busboy at a funky Chinese food restaurant constantly under attack from video game monsters. The protagonist can transform into Sharknife, the spikey elbowed brawler who beats these beasties back to win the love of the Owner’s daughter.

It is LESS romantic than Scott Pilgrim, with FAR less angst. It does come off as more fun and genuine. If you like romance, video games, fighting, noodles, monsters slick cartooning than Sharknife is a must read. Continue reading

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Comics Gud. Gud Comics, Take Comics Home.

You are in luck, my friend, as there are so many AMAZING comic books out this week that you could probably buy one at random and still get somethin’ snazzy! Still, my job as a Forbidden Planet columnist is to provide you with some professional perspective to guide the dart of your paycheck towards that big red bulls-eye of a great read.  Please consider the following:

Too Much Coffee Man Omnibus, Shannon Wheeler (W/A), Dark Horse

Back in my day “Hipster” was called “Grunge” and there were several great comics out detailing the finer points of Grunge anthropology. Peter Bagge’s brilliant “Buddy” and “Hate” comics spring to mind, as does Shannon Wheeler’s Too Much Coffee Man.

Too Much Coffee Man is the café culture’s zeitgeist, an armchair super hero who worries about the universe’s gestalt while sipping mocha with his friends Too Much Expresso Man and Too Much German White Chocolate With Almonds Girl. Yes, really.

They don’t fight much crime, but they do ponder their place in the vast quandary that is human existence…and it’s really flippin’ funny! The TMCM Omnibus from Dark Horse collects a snot load of this good stuff for a cheap-oh price! Pick this book up and drop it on your lavatory cistern for easy retro-cool credibility.

Secret Society of Super Villains HC, Various (W/A), DC

When you’re done feeling all erudite and superior after that last book, bring it back to basics with this collection of Super-villains punching brightly colored dufi in their collected bread baskets!

Secret Society of Super Villains HC is a gorgeous, full color reprint edition of silver age comics featuring silly DC villains trying their darndest to get the upper hand on their good-guy foils. It will be weird, it will be stupid, it will be silly…but it sure won’t be boring!

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Continue reading

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An Evening with Frank Quitely

Coming this Tuesday, April 5th…  comic artist superstar Frank Quitely (We3, Batman and Robin) in conversation with Jose Villarrubia (Conan, Batman Year 100) a few blocks away from Forbidden Planet!

Frank Quitely Conversation Event CBLDF Forbidden Planet NYC Wonder-Con

Forbidden Planet’s hawking advance tickets in-store.  They’re also available from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, who have prints and signed postcards to commemorate the event.

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Flex Mentallo to Return in Hardcover

It’s official! DC Vertigo is finally set to to reprint FLEX MENTALLO, one of the greatest comic miniseries ever, in deluxe hardcover format later this year.

Long held back due to legal wrangling with Charles Atlas Ltd. DC has boldly announced Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s masterpiece will finally get the ISBN treatment after nearly a decade and a half of anticipation.

Much discussed in the recent Morrison documentary Talking with Gods (which is back in stock, by the way), Flex Mentallo is one of the writer’s most personal (albeit trippy and bizarre) works, and showcases some of the best storytelling Quitely’s ever produced.  It truly is one of the most astounding/outstanding collaborative efforts you’ll find in contemporary comics.

This is especially fantastic news for me as I’m wary of lending out my copies of the four-issue series any longer.  In fact, in light of the news I’m now putting a moratorium on such sharing; one of these days they were bound to not make their way back to me and there are few comics I cherish as much.

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It’s Wednesday! You know what that means.

New comics.

This week we have Steve Rogers coming back from the dead, in “Captain America Reborn”. Though it shouldn’t matter whether he comes back from the dead, it is sure to be a beautifully crafted story drawn by Bryan Hitch (“The Ultimates”) and Harvey nominated writer Ed Brubaker.   Marvel Comics released a prelude webcomic yesterday to wet your appetite until you can make it to the store.

We’re huge Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely supporters around here so the fact that “Batman and Robin” #2 comes out so quickly after the first issue leaves this writer extremely happy.  What I really enjoyed about this book was the rougher pencils on Quitely’s part and the straight up cheerful almost 60s Batman tone to it, and then cut to crazy creepy David Lynch sensibilities with Professor Pyg.

Marvel seems to be cashing in on the Deadpool craze, post “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” with yet another Deadpool mini-series “Merc with a Mouth“. The great news is, all of them seem to be a ton of fun.  This mini-series with gorgeous horror themed covers by Arthur Suydam, is written by Victor Gischler and involves Deadpool being set on a mission to save the universe by getting rid of Zombie Deadpool’s decapitated head, while running around the Savage Land.

More really great comics coming out today is the second part of the X-Men/Dark Avengers crossover. As well as what appears to be the really beautiful “Justice League: Cry for Justice” written by James Robinson with art by newcomer, Mauro Cascioli.

Of course, if these aren’t the picks you’re looking forward to swing by the store in Union Square or visit ForbiddenPlanetUSA.com.

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Back to School

by Jeff Ayers

“Bring us a pitcher of beer every seven minutes until somebody passes out.  And then bring one every ten minutes.”

This past Saturday I was struck by a sudden, sharp, and sobering realization, with lasting ramifications for the next nine months or so.  Y’see, my lady and I had brunch at Petite Abeille in sleepy Tribeca, checked out the Moscow Cats Theatre (featuring 35 cats, 5 clowns, death defying balancing acts and acrobatics, and yes, I’m comfortable admitting that, and yes, moms and dads should take your progeny and everybody you know to see this asap) and braved the amassed hordes of the Canal Street subway to head back uptown for a stroll before my closing shift at the FP.  All on what normally would be a calm, bucolic late summer afternoon in my beloved East Village.  Friendly confines and all that.

The neighborhood was steeped in a kind of pandemonium.

From Houston to 14th, from Ave. B to Broadway, the area surrounding our store was abuzz with so much activity and cacophony so as to only, perhaps, be rivalled by the beach scene in Apocalypse Now.

Now sometimes I can be pretty dense, so I didn’t notice til much later that I’d passed dozens of families carrying furniture, computers, mini-fridges and other such accoutrements on every block.  Didn’t notice the sudden influx of 18-24 year-olds in the neighborhood. Nor the copious amount of hello and farewell hugs. And why the hell we were selling so many posters?  Only later, at work, did it dawn on me…  Of course!  It’s Back to School!

Whether it be NYU, SVA, Pratt, Columbia, New School, Cooper Union, whatever… Welcome back, ladies and gents.  Welcome here, freshmen.  If this is your first visit to the store or FPNYC on the web, know that Forbidden Planet is one of the premiere sellers of comics, collectibles, and Science Fiction stores in the world and has been since 1981.  We ain’t going anywhere, your college student ID nabs you 10% OFF everything in the store [ed. note: we no longer offer this at FP], and we’re in the most happenin’ location in the city.  We also offer a snazzy subscription service for comics, wherein we’ll hold your books for you until you dig up the scratch to buy them.

And sell posters for your dorm.

And that goes for the rest of ya!

New Release Highlights:

Halo Uprising #1- The Eisner Award-winning team of writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist extraordinaire Alex Maleev (Daredevil- 2001-2006) pull a “Dude, we’re gettin’ the band back together!”  for a sequel story to video gaming’s biggest franchise of the early 21st Century, Halo.

Ultimate Spider-Man 100 Project TP– brought to you by The Hero Initiative, a deserving non-profit that bails out comic creators in need; creators who can’t pay medical bills, buy groceries, what have you.  This book collects the fruits of one of the organization’s most creative and successful fund-raising endeavors- a print run of 100 blank-covered Ultimate Spider-Man #100, wherein prominent creators of today would draw their take version of old webhead. Sold as one of a kind collectibles online and at New York Comic-Con and Wizard World Chicago- for up to $6700 apiece- this fabulous, limited artbook collects all 100 covers, featuring Mark Bagley, J. Scott Campbell, Frank Cho, Neil Gaiman, Adam and Andy Kubert, George Pérez, Joe Quesada, John Romita Sr. and Jr., Frank Quitely, JG Jones, and dozens more and features a forward by Stan Lee, who is by no means a creator in need.  Just sayin.

I’m a Lebowski You’re a Lebowski: Life The Big Lebowski and What Have You–  The ultimate fan’s guide to the Coen Brothers cult phenomenon “The Big Lebowski,” with a Foreword by the Dude himself, Jeff Bridges.  I’ve waited for this book for nearly a decade, convinced that no such thing would ever be released.  But thanks to the film’s insatiable fanbase, of which I am an unashamed and rabid member, goodies such as this book and and events like Lebowski Fest (the Star Trek Convention of the 21st Century) are possible. “If you will it, dude, it is no dream.”

Bunnies & Bees– by Mark Ryden.  Beautiful boxed portfolio from Ryden features thirteen 8″ x 10″ prints from the Bunnies & Bees gallery show.  Images include all the paintings, plus some details and drawings from the show. It is a limited numbered edition of 10,000, and includes a certificate of authenticity in addition.  Also in stock: Fushigi Circus, a survey of 55 of Ryden’s most impressive works from past to present.

And to all you wide-eyed freshmen? All you new New Yorkers? My sincerest welcome once again! I hope you enjoy your stay in our fantastic City! Just leave some polite room on the crowded streets for us “townies,” okay? And walk, bike, or use mass transit.

“Now that’s what I call Marine Biology!”
-Jeffy

jeff(AT)fpnyc.com

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