Posts Tagged ‘Joe Kubert’

First Hand History From Those That Passed

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

With the recent release of  Volume 3 of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection www.comicsinterview.com it is hard not to acknowledge the number of great comic creators, fans and industry observers who graced the pages that are no longer with us.  It is a sad truth that, thirty-plus years since the first issue of COMICS INTERVIEW was originally published, many of the great subjects of those interviews have passed away, taking with them their unique perspective of the comics industry and their direct involvement in it.

For this reason and for the inevitable fact  the list of deceased will grow, COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection becomes an extremely valuable facet of the history of comic books because it captures the insights of those that are gone and preserves them for generations of comic enthusiasts to come.

COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection amasses comics history directly from the mouths of those that lived it.  Many of the interviewees were there from the beginning. Some, like writer Gaylord Dubois born in 1899, were alive before the first comic book was printed!  COMICS INTERVIEW relays their perspective first hand like no other history book of this industry can or ever will.

The first three volumes of this collection reveal the words of over thirty industry insiders and observers that will never be heard again. The list is inspiring and saddening because these people were all, at some point, the heartbeat of the industry and left a legacy that continues to grow and inspire the medium today and well into the future.

Jack Abel – 1927-1996 – Artist

Alfred Bester – 1913-1987 – Writer

Dave Cockrum – 1943-2006 – Artist

Joe Colquhoun – 1924-1987 – Writer

Robert Culp – 1930-2010 – Fan on Screen

Arnold Drake – 1921-1997 – Writer

Gaylord Dubois – 1899-1993 – Writer

Jules Engle – 1909-2003 – Artist

Gardner Fox – 1911-1986 – Writer

Frank Frazetta – 1928-2010 – Artist

Steve Gerber – 1947-2008 – Writer

Dick Giordano – 1932-2010 – Artist

Dick Goldwater – 1936-2007 – Archie Publisher

Archie Goodwin – 1937-1998 – Writer/Editor

Jerry Grandenetti – 1926-2010 – Artist

Jack “Jaxon” Jackson – 1941-2006 – Writer/Artist

Carol Kalish – 1955-1991 – Marvel Sales Director

Bob Kane – 1915-1998 – Artist

Jack Kirby – 1917-1994 – Artist

Roy Krenkel – 1918-1983 – Artist

Joe Kubert – 1926-2012 – Artist

Jerry Robinson – 1922-2011 – Artist

Fred Rogers – 1928-2003 – Fan on Screen

Phil LaSorda – 1960-2008 – Comico Publisher

Carl Macek – 1951-2010 – ROBOTECH Producer

T. M. Maple – 1956-1994 – Fan Incognito

Joe Rosen – 1920-2009 – Letterer

George Roussos – 1915-2000- Artist

Adrienne Roy – 1953-2010 – Colorist

Don Thompson – 1935-1994 – CBG Editor

Kim Thompson – 1956-2013 – Fantagraphics Publisher

William Woolfolk – 1917-2003 – Writer

Those that have passed are now memorialized in a photo album on facebook that can be seen here and will be updated when needed and as each new volume is released so be sure to “like” the COMICS INTERVIEW page.

It is no mistake that the promotional graphic we chose this Holiday Season was of the Three Wise Men bearing the first three volumes of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection. To us the books contain the wisdom of many, regarding the comics industry, and represent the foundation that the entire medium of comic art is built on.

If you love comics and value the rich history of the medium  then be sure to add David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection and other great CO2 Comics graphic albums to your bookshelf today.

Gerry Giovinco



David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection TWO THOUSAND Pages and Counting!

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

First Three Volumes of Eleven Volume Set
on Sale NOW!

CO2 Comics has embarked on a massive endeavor to compile the entire 150 issue run of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW magazine that is regarded as the greatest collection of interviews in the history of comics.

To date, 42 issues, comprised of over 2,000 pages, have been meticulously scanned, cleaned, formatted and printed in the handsome, first three volumes of the planned eleven volume set. Volume four is currently in production.

Each printed volume packed with nearly 700 black and white pages of art, photos and interviews is available in either paperback or hard cover versions of two special editions:

The Premier Edition features, on its full color cover,  a customized version of the original COMICS INTERVIEW logo which utilized stylized characters from famous comic book titles. This logo appeared only on the first 24 issues of the magazine and is loved by many for it’s homage to comic book icons.

The Standard Edition alternatively features a similarly customized version of the traditional Comics Interview logo that graced the cover of the remaining 126 issues and may be the one that is endeared to the hearts of many fans, especially those that enjoyed its Pac Man font.

The four distinct versions of the printed package give fans of the magazine an opportunity to complete their collection of the set in a consistent manner that suits their personal tastes and will ultimately be an extraordinary addition to their library.

The importance of this collection to comic fans and historians can not be overstated.

Originally published from 1983 to 1995, COMICS INTERVIEW gave voice to the comics industry at a pivotal time in its history. The magazine was able to provide insightful interviews with writers, artists and editors that were active in the earliest days of the industry as well as the young creators whose careers since continue to shape the industry today.

Page by page, volume by volume, David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection is an accurate, candid, and authoritative  perspective of the history of comics that comes directly from the mouths of the people that lived it.

Amazingly relevant to current issues that affect the industry, every volume is a necessary source of vital information for anyone who wants a complete understanding of the comics industry as a whole.

The first three volumes alone present interviews with about 230 individuals that all made a mark on the history of comics. Without slighting the contributions of any, here is just a short list of some of the influential subjects:

Terry Austin, Howard Chaykin, Gerry Conway, Jack Davis, Dick Giordano, Joe Kubert, Stan Lee, Wendy & Richard Pini, Jim Shooter, Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman, Karen Berger, John Byrne, Colleen Doran, Steve Gerber, Dave Gibbons, Bill Willingham, Scott McCloud, Stephen Bissette, Bob Burden, Frank Frazetta, Bob Kane, Jack Kirby, Jerry Robinson, Frank Miller, Walt & Louise Simonson, and many, many more!

An accurate list of the interviews contained in each volume can be found in the book previews on the CO2 Comics Storefront on LULU and AMAZON where you can easily purchase your copy of each volume today! Buy one or buy all three and you will be anxious to complete the whole set as each new volume is released.

David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection is a massive and beautiful centerpiece intended for any comics library. Accumulated one volume at a time or in convenient bundles, it continues the tradition of anticipation and fulfillment that is experienced by every comic collector. If you love comics, now is the time to begin your own collection of the greatest interviews in the history of comics. Order your copies today!

Gerry Giovinco



SUPERHEROES™: The Never Ending Bullshit – Truth, Justice and Corporate Greed Part 2

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

JUSTICE: in Part 1 of this series I took at look at how the  PBS documentary, Superheroes: The Never Ending Battle obscured Truth by omission, enforcing  the public perception that the only superheroes that exist in our global culture are the ones attributed to Marvel and DC. There is no Justice to the pantheon of creators, publishers and characters that have made significant contributions to the impact that the genre superheroes has made as a whole on our society

If only this was the sole lack of justice attributed to this documentary. The comic book industry has a long history of injustice when it comes to the treatment of creators. To its credit, Superheroes: The Never Ending Battle, does make an attempt to identify the major sin of exploitation of impoverished, immigrant, young men during the Great Depression. But rather than identify it as a significant moral failure  it was portrayed almost as a badge of honor.

Legendary late creators like Joe Simon, Jerry Robinson, Carmine Infantino, and Joe Kubert emphatically embraced the practice of sweat shop ethics and corporate ownership of all works defining it as as business as usual.

95-year-old Irwin Hasen barked into the camera that “The companies owned everything!” , “You got nothing but a page rate!”, and “we worked our asses off!” “That’s the way it was!”

This all aired almost as an eyewitness testimony to to the challenges of the Kirby Family who were seeking copyright revision of works co-created by their late father Jack Kirby for Marvel during the 1960’s. It seems no coincidence that just a week after the series was first broadcast the courts denied their final attempt to appeal holding to the premise that his creations were work for hire and were owned exclusively by Marvel.

Joe Shuster, Neal Adams, Jerry Siegel and Jerry Robinson celebrate their victory over DC Comics in 1975

The series focused only on the the battle of Superman creators Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster stimulated by the impending success of the first Superman movie in 1978.  They failed to mention that Seigel and Shuster had challenged DC continually since they returned from their service in  WWII and it was not until Neal Adams and Jerry Robinson led a campaign to publicly shame DC and Warner Bros. that the men saw any long term agreement that would prevent them from dying impoverished and guaranteed that they would receive credits as the creators of the character.

Jenette Kahn, former President of DC Comics,  proclaimed the Seigel and Shuster victory as a triumphant day in the history of comics as if a great blight  had been lifted from the industry when in fact it was just the tip of a huge iceberg that the audience is expected to be kept unaware of.

It is ironic that the parade of commentators  waxing nostalgic on the screen represented a number of creators and historians who have been very vocal in the area of creators rights. I can only assume that their words were taken out of context or left on the cutting room floor to create the impression  that all is hunky-dory  in Superheroland and potentially discredit their objecting positions.

Gerard Jones who wrote the scathing book Men of Tomorrow about the career spanning injustices toward Seigel and Shuster and the historic ties of comics and organized crime.

Arlen Schumer who just did a symposium at the Kirby Museum and who has been a long time vocal supporter if the Kirby contention.

Mark Evanier, a Kirby collaborator who was instrumental in supporting Jack Kirby’s  independent work and Jack’s battles with Marvel since the 1970’s

Joe Simon who settled with Marvel over rights to Captain America in 1968,

Neal Adams one of the first creators to stand up for creators rights who famously demanded the return of original art and attempted to for one of the first creator unions in comics. His Continuity comics line also stands as one of the early great independent comic book publishers if the 1980’s.

Jerry Robinson an outspoken creators rights activist who led the charge with Neal Adams to aid Seigel and Shuster,

Stan Lee who won a 10 million dollar settlement in 1992 over characters he co-created with Kirby but who has always been a self proclaimed “company man” and Marvels biggest mascot and cheerleader.

Gerry Conway who recently reached out to fans to help him receive royalties owed by DC Comics.

Marv Wolfman who has struggled with Marvel over compensation for the creation of Blade which has become one of Marvel’s early successful film franchises.

A shout out to Jerry Ordway for his suggestion to kill Superman which led to the Death of Superman event that rocked the industry in the 1990’s mocked his recent plea to get any kind of work in the current market.

The use of video of Jack Kirby, as heartwarming as it was, also belied the battles that Jack had with the industry, especially Marvel.

But the most  galling segment was video of Alan Moore quoting from The Watchmen intended to create the impression that Moore who has been adamantly unhappy with the treatment of his work and how DC has exploited his contract  and who is now watching Marvel do the same with his work on Marvel Man is somehow happy about the current conditions of the industry.

Any one who has paid any attention to the comics industry knows that Alan Moore is so disgusted with DC and now Marvel that he refuses to allow them to use his name on their products. Though it is impossible to ignore the influence his works have had on the industry it is also a mockery to show him almost gleefully quoting from his script without detailing his conflicts with the industry which are as legendary as his comics.

Intentionally ignored was an entire movement to establish creators rights in comics and decades of work by independent publishers to produce superheroes and alternative comics that are owned by their creators. According to Superheroes: The Never Ending Battle only one small band of insurgent creators ever found industry practices so unpleasant that they splintered off to form Image.

Many, Many, creators ventured away from Marvel and DC to pioneer independent works long before the boys at Image even began working in comics. To even begin a list would be a monumental task.

Justice was ignored in this documentary that focused only on a band aide applied to an open sore while a cancer looms beneath the surface. Creators continue to get a raw deal in the comics industry just as they did 75 years ago. They create heroes that represent Truth Justice and the American Way but they are victims of obscured Truth, denied Justice and Corporate Greed. Actions all masked  to conceal their true identity in this series, like the colorful superheroes they intend to glorify.

Next up is Corporate Greed. Is it really the American Way?

Gerry Giovinco



Superheroes™: The Never Ending Bullshit

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

“Superheroes: The Never Ending Battle” is a three part documentary that recently has been airing on PBS. If you hurry you can also watch it streaming on the PBS website right here.

On the surface this series seems to be a beautifully produced and thoughtful presentation about the history of superheroes and comic books in America and their influence throughout the world.

Most comic fans that grew up reading comics or enjoying superheroes in any era will wax nostalgic as they see the devotion that is poured into the process of documenting how the creators of superhero adventures were influenced by the world around them.

The highlight of the series for me were video interjections by legendary comic creators, many of whom have already passed away. Watching Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, Joe Kubert, Jerry Robinson, and Carmine Infantino speak about comics couldn’t help but choke me up.

The series also did a wonderful job of representing women in the industry with video commentary by Ramona Fradon, Jennette Kahn, Trina Robbins, Louise Simonson, and Christina Strain.

I would love to say that this was a benchmark documentary about the history of comics but I can’t because what I witnessed was more like propaganda mechanism for Marvel and DC. This series in all of its splendor effectively trivialized any accomplishments in the battle for creators rights. It completely ignored the influence of the Direct Market. It  erased the impact of decades of Independent comics with the notable exception of Image. No mentions off the tremendous impact that European or Japanese comics had.

I realize that it is unrealistic to expect every last detail of a 75 year history into a three hour documentary. I also recognize now, more clearly than ever, why the word superhero and the derivatives of it should not be allowed to be used as a trademark jointly by Marvel and DC exclusively.

What this series did effectively accomplish was to blur the distinction between the history of Supeheroes™ and the history of Comic Books as a whole by defining the impression for the general public that Superheroes™ = Comic Books and that Comic Books = Marvel and DC with the tip of a hat to Image, apparently the only independent to successfully publish another unique superhero.

NEWS FLASH! There are many independent publishers that have made comic books that featured superheroes! Superheroes also exist in other media and in other countries. All characters represented in the superhero genre are NOT owned by only Marvel and DC as much as they would like you to think that. This was not represented at all in this documentary and I believe it is unfair to dismiss the accomplishments and struggles of so many who also had great superhero stories to tell.

“Superheroes: The Never Ending Battle” is typical of the type of bullshit that big corporations do to gloss over the undesired truth.  “Smear lipstick on that pig and everyone will be happy and buy into what we have to sell.” ” Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”

Truth be told, there could have been a three part series just on the battles that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster fought over their rights to Superman or the battles that Jack Kirby had with Marvel for compensation and to have his art returned.

There could be a three part series on the rise of the Direct Market and how the barrage of  quality Independent publishing in the 1980’s had  Marvel and DC on the ropes.

There could be a three part series on how the internet and digital delivery has changed how comics are created published and viewed.

They would all represent true and vital information for anyone interested in an accurate history of the never ending battle of creating superheroes and comics in a market dominated by corporate interests intent on squelching any potential competition to their mythic intellectual property that they gained from the exploitation of the imaginations of mostly young, impoverished children of immigrants searching for and expressing their own American Dream.

If you have watched the series and got that great warm and fuzzy superhero nostalgic rush, I want you to know that I had it too.  I also have a tremendously deep appreciation for the medium of comics and a tremendous respect for the genre of superheroes and though it is wonderful to see the genre presented in such a positive light I think it would be great if audiences understood and valued the true history of superheroes and not the mythology of the mythology influenced only by two enormous corporations.

Next week I will begin a series of my own on this blog that will take a closer look at how “Superheroes: The Never Ending Battle” diluted the real history of superheroes.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



Free Comic Book in My Mailbox!

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

I am always amazed at the quantity and quality of the junk mail that arrives in the form of catalogs via the United States Postal Service nearly each and every day. Printed in full color on glossy stock, perfectly bound and usually fairly thick containing, sometimes, hundreds of pages of content. I have one that just came from Dover Saddlery (yes, we have horses) that contains 352 pages!

Why couldn’t some of these be comic books or contain comics in them? You can bet that I would spend more time hunting through them if I knew I would find a comic feature that I could grow attached to.

The Superhero Catalogue with SNYDERMAN , art by Joe Kubert

Back in the late seventies there was The Superhero Catalogue published by Superhero Enterprises featuring the character Snyderman drawn by the legendary Joe Kubert.  The whole catalog was laid out like a comic book and sold every available superhero merchandise imagineable.  I went nuts every time I got one in the mail!

Read the Jordan Marsh catalog by Gerry Giovinco and Mitch O'Connell

Back in the eighties Comico produced a fashion catalog for Jordan Marsh that was packaged in the form of a comic book. The catalog, illustrated by Mitch O’Connell and scripted by me, actually won awards from Advertising Age Magazine as a direct mail promotion.

The Disney Catalog for a brief time inserted previews of the W.I.T.C.H. comic that was packaged similar to popular manga. You know I looked for that when it came for my kids. I always wondered why more catalogs didn’t do the same, especially now with the popularity of comic heroes in all forms of media.

To my surprise a catalog doing its best to mimic the idioms that define comic books recently showed up in my mailbox, sent by the most unlikely source, UMBC, an Honor University in Maryland.

Click here to view the UMBC Catalog

My son, who is a senior in high school with great academic standings has attracted the attention of the admission boards of many colleges who now flood our mailbox daily with richly produced catalogues, most of which feature beautiful pictures of sprawling campuses, active student lifestyles and, of course, esteemed learning environments which is to say that they all look the same.

UMBC, regarded by CBS 60 Minutes as one of the most innovative schools in the country, proved their ability to step outside the box by sending my son an admissions catalog cleverly disguised as a comic book. It was trimmed to comic book size with thirty two pages, chock full of panels and text boxes, and, though there was not a single word bubble with a pointy little tail, a very stylish Anime font was used throughout. The covers featured students striking heroic poses, one even wearing a mask, posturing to the prevalent  theme of Change the World.”

My immediate reaction as a comic art enthusiast was of pure amazement that an institution of higher education would embrace comic books to attract students. I remember a time when even kindergarden teachers scorned comics as fodder for the ignorant and uneducated. Hell, Mitt Romney probably believes that comic books are all that 47% of Americans are capable or willing to read. Why not? Obama reads them!

Neil Gaiman Addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012 from The University of the Arts (Phl) on Vimeo.

But times are changing. Comics do get much more respect these days, especially since the advent of the graphic novel. Even University of the Arts, a school that scorned comics when Bill Cucinotta and I attended back when it was the Philadelphia College of Art, has a new attitude towards comics They must!  They had Neil Gaimen, celebrated comic author of Sandman and Coraline, deliver the Keynote Address at their 2012 graduation ceremony! He  was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts along with another comic creator, Philadelphia Inquirer editorial cartoonist Tony Auth.

UMBC Marketing Director, Erika Ferrin, explained that this edition of the admissions catalog which they refer to as a viewbook, was part of an ongoing Heroes campaign that has been very successful for the university.

Inspired by the popularity of Harry Potter, Twilight and superhero films with the teen market, Ferrin chose to focus on the heroic attributes of those characters when marketing to graduating high school students. She realized that students that came to UMBC had unique intellectual and creative abilities that, when honed at the university, allowed them to realize their potential of heroically impacting the world.

Erica worked with in-house designers Erin Ouslander and Jim Lord to develop the visuals for the campaign of which the viewbook evolved from. The end result is a beautifully packaged presentation printed on very heavy stock, intelligently designed and very respectful of the comics medium which they took great pains to research while developing the graphics which were all rendered from the ground up without using a comic or manga template program. The catalog has enjoyed a distribution of upwards to 50,000 copies most of which were delivered by mail.

This type of innovation is what makes UMBC a leader in education. It’s the type of innovation that the comics industry needs to employ to expand the marketplace. I know I’d like to see more comic books in my mailbox. How about you?

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco

Remembering Joe Kubert

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Joe Kubert 1926-2012, photo copyright The Kubert School

The news that Joe Kubert had passed away caught me at just after I finished last week’s blog. I was tempted to dive in and rush a last minute tribute in an effort to be timely but I have too much respect for the man and all that he did for comics. I chose to digest the incredible loss to his family, his school and the entire the comics community so that I could write a memorial deserved of a man of his stature.

Whenever I think of Joe Kubert the first thing that comes to my mind is a cover image of Tarzan, knife in hand, battling a savagely maned lion that struck fear in my heart as a young comic reader. The ferocity of the glare in the lion’s eyes, the sinewy muscles of Tarzan, and the dynamic gesture of every appendage on the page (right down to Tarzan’s toes!) captivated my attention in a way that few comics did or could. Joe was capable of creating something primal on a page with lines so kinetic that the images leapt from the page into the deepest, darkest part of the imagination.

Click image to see more Kubert School Advertisements

The name Joe Kubert captured my imagination again with a simple ad  for The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art that ran in the back of every comic book in the late seventies. Though I couldn’t convince my parents to let me go to a school that promoted itself in a comic book, the idea of studying art for the purpose of  creating comics became my goal. A few years later, as a publisher at Comico, I was offering small scholarships to students at Joe’s school in Dover, NJ hoping to encourage the incredible young talent that was being cultivated there to want to work for Comico. The gesture paid off when we had the opportunity to work with Joe’s sons, Adam and Andy on our JONNY QUEST series.

Joe Kubert visited our modest offices at Comico once when we were first developing our relationship. Our Studio, as we called it, was half a duplex in the middle of blue-collared Norristown, PA. It was a humble creative space littered with art supplies, drawing boards, decrepit furniture and dated, orange shag wall-to-wall carpet. Joe loved it! There was a gleam in his eye as he looked around that space and at us young guys, full of enthusiasm about making comics. He told us stories of how he was reminded him of his early days, holed up in a small room with a bunch of other young writers and artists cramming out entire issues over night in a frantic effort to meet a deadline.

Joe was an infectiously dynamic person with a passion for comics that he was always excited to share and teach. He was the ultimate father figure that commanded respect and returned it when you earned it. That day he visited Comico, without intending to and unknowingly, he ordained us as professional comic creators with his glowing approval.

Similarly, Joe’s impact on the comic industry can never be measured. He has influenced and educated so many comic professionals that it would be impossible to imagine what the industry would have been like without him, his family, or his school.

Bill Cucinotta, the extended CO2 Comics family of creators, and I extend our very heartfelt condolences to the entire Kubert family and to everyone that loved and respected Joe Kubert, one of the very great men to have ever professed to making comics.

Gerry Giovinco

We at CO2 Comics have a long relationship with a former Kubert School student, Chris Kalnick, who worked as an inker on ROBOTECH when we published it as Comico. His comics NON the Transcendental Extraterrestrial and Depth Charge are regular features on the CO2 Comics site. At our request he has offered his own remarks regarding Joe Kubert:

Baker Mansion-Kubert School circa 1977.

It’s funny how sometimes you don’t realize how much someone has impacted your life until you hear of their passing.  This was definitely the case with me regarding Joe Kubert.

35 years ago, fresh on the heels of its groundbreaking first year class, I was one of the second year students who attended The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art.  The school was small compared to today’s incarnation.  There were something like 25-30 students returning from the first year, and Joe only accepted around 50 of us for its incoming second year class.  The students ran the spectrum from the intensely-focused-and disciplined-artist/storyteller to the recent goofy-high-school-graduate-not-really-knowing-what-the-hell-they-wanted. A lot of us fell in between.

I don’t need to expound on how amazing the school was, its atmosphere, its creative energy, etc… suffice to say, there was nothing like it at the time. Plenty has been written about the school over the years. Even if it wasn’t your intention, you were bound to learn some amount of craft there… not only from Joe and the teachers, but from the other students as well.  Everyone ate, drank, and breathed comic art.  The place swam in it. Those who were there know what I’m talking about.  Their life experience and their art is a little richer for it.

There are many more XQBs than I who have had longer, deeper, more extended relationships with Joe, and they have their stories to tell and their feelings to share.  My relationship with him was somewhat brief, but what I can tell you about Joe is that he was no-nonsense. He shot from the hip.  You knew if he liked something or felt it worked… and you knew if he didn’t.  He commanded respect, personal and professional.  My personal talks with him were few, but they definitely left an impression.  As I’m sure his conversations did with the majority of his students.  My last conversation with Joe is forever etched in my mind, for it was sad in nature. It was about my leaving the school, and Joe expressed his disappointment.  For a cartoonist… not an easy moment to shake.

Joe opened his unique school and by doing so, opened the doors for a tremendous amount of artists who may not have otherwise had the opportunity, support, and camaraderie to develop their craft.  If it wasn’t for Joe, I wouldn’t have developed my craft or the sense of identity that I have today.  I wouldn’t have made the professional friends I have now.  And my youngest daughter wouldn’t have grown up in my studio to become an accomplished young artist herself.  Joe passed away the day after my daughter left home to attend Ringling College of Art and Design as an illustration major.  The coincidence of it is not lost on me… and his legacy seems so much more poignant, his influence so much more obvious.

You are respected, Joe.  I know for a fact that you will be missed.  Thank you.

Chris Kalnick

BUGHOUSE Graphic Album NOW AVAILABLE

Viva La Comics Revolution!

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Damn it!

It breaks my heart every time I read about a comic artist finding it difficult to make ends meet, especially when they are extremely talented and were at one time among the elite creators in the field.

Welcome to the Arts!

I guess this means that comics have finally arrived as an art form. There was a time when a job in comics was just a bottom feeder stepping stone to a more lucrative career in advertising or other creative fields. Now artists are begging for a career in comics. Who would have guessed?

It was not long ago when Dick Giordano feared that the talent pool in comics was about to be extinct prompting him to create an apprentice program at DC in the late 1970’s. Around the same time Joe Kubert’s school became a fertile environment, producing numerous great talents. Other teachers like Will Eisner and Burne Hogarth also brandished brilliant torches, shining a bright light on education of the medium.

Comics now have joined the respected ranks of music, dance, literature, painting and sculpture where legions of practitioners strive for success yet only a rare few ever achieve stardom and tremendous financial reward.

Joe Kubert, Will Eisner, Burne Hogarth

Does this mean that if you are not one of the supremely talented or lucky you should just pack up the pencils paper and ink and give up? Hell no!

Artists in general have a strange sense of entitlement. Growing up, most are made well aware of their talents by doting family and friends that hail their giftedness. Stars in their own small circles, many are not prepared to face the challenge of competition in the larger arena of the real world. They expect the commendations and glories that they always knew and become disenchanted when it requires significantly greater effort to achieve success.

Success in any medium requires hard work well beyond talent and this is especially true in comics because of limited opportunity. Other than publishing yourself, there are so few publishers willing to pay reasonable fees for the work. There are also fewer projects by major publishing houses which will become an epidemic as the digital market grows.

The Big Two’s bean counters will surely realize that the seventy years of content that they already posses will be enough to saturate the digital market. Their money would be better spent digitalizing the classic material than spending it on new work that might require royalties and other forms of compensation not to mention costly editorial and production expenses.

So what’s a comic artist to do? What else? Get creative! Pave your own road to success by marketing, networking, publishing, teaching and creating comics, just like every other person that calls themselves a professional artist of the medium of their choice.

Superstars in every creative field are rare but plenty of creative folks support themselves and their families while  doing what they love by digging hard into the trenches and working it. Just ask any wedding singer, music teacher, production artist, variety entertainer. How many musicians are there in a garage band performing locally that have dreams of being a big star? Plenty.

The environment for creating comics and profiting from them has never been more full of opportunity thanks to the Direct Market, digital printing,  the internet, and digital distribution. Any one can make comics and have them distributed around the world in no time. Not everyone will get rich making comics but, like every art field, the cream will rise to the top and others will find levels of success to meet their personal efforts and some will simply give up their dream.

How To Be A Supervillain by Rachael Yu

One thing is for sure, like the lottery, you can’t win if you don’t play. Last week a graphic novel written by a fourteen year old girl, Rachel Yu, was number one on Amazon’s Kindle Fire, outselling any graphic novel by Marvel or DC! The playing field is as even as it is ever going to be regarding distribution and the comic creators have the upper hand when it comes to being able to create and control exciting, fresh, new concepts.

Check Out Occupy Comics

2012 has already been tagged as the year of the artist-entrepreneur. It most definitely is! If you have been following the Occupy movement you may be in anticipation of a revolution. If you are a comic creator you are in the middle of one! Now is the time for comic creators to unite and take control of the digital market and ultimately the Direct Market, simply by producing the best new comics available. Let the big guys bury themselves with reboots of tired old characters.

CO2 Comics is just one collective community of comic artists with an eye on the prize. We have a track record thirty years in the making, of jumping into the ring with the heavyweights and backing them into the ropes with speed and agility. We are lacing up the gloves again as proud supporters of creators right’s and the talents of the little guy. If you want to be in our corner, contact us, show us what you got and get prepared to deliver an uppercut. The big guys are going down!

It may not seem right making comparisons of art and war but this is a matter of survival. Comic creators have an opportunity to set an example. We have a chance to prove that as a community we can make a difference. We can pull ourselves out from under the thumb of corporate giants that have dictated this industry for decades and establish new standards for the creation of comics that will make them better for everyone.

Oh, and if you don’t think this is war you better educate yourself about SOPA and realize that there is a covert attack on our creative rights happening right now. Implementation of SOPA may as well be the implementation of martial law on the internet and we are in danger of losing all the benefits and freedoms of the systems of distribution that we are counting on for a bright future for comics. We must do what we can, now, to stop SOPA.

Carpe Diem!

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

Gerry Giovinco


The Future of Comics is 3-D

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Remember the commercial where one person eating a chocolate bar collides with another eating peanut butter presumably inspiring Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? The ad capitalized on a well known fact that some of the best ideas are the results of accidents.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could anticipate these unlikely turn of events and forecast an outcome accurately in advance? Scientists attempt this all the time and perform experiments to prove their hypothesis.

Well, I’m no scientist but I think I know a few things about comics and I have been witnessing some developments in technology, distribution and comic art production that lead me to believe that 3-D is the key to a bountiful future for the comics industry.

(Laughter?)

I know this is  a daring statement considering that 3-D has never been anything other than an eye-blurring, headache-inducing fad requiring optical accessories that defy all fashion sensibilities but the stars of fate are lining up like the reflection of lights in disco infinity mirror!

Ever since the incredible commercial success of AVATAR, Hollywood has been cramming 3-D films down the throats of audiences in theaters everywhere. Any film that can be remotely adapted to 3-D is going under the stereoscopic knife. Still, most audiences prefer the traditional 2-D  versions so what is the rush?

There is a 3-D technological boom on the horizon.

3-D has been steadily infiltrating our homes as more and more HD televisions are equipped with 3-D capability.  Though these televisions still require the use of eyeglasses with polarized lenses or more the sophisticated shutter glasses, the 3-D effects, especially on large screens, are astounding.

Hand held mobile devices, however, are poised to overtake the market using a new technology called APB or Autostereoscopic Parallax Barrier. They are capable of displaying crystal clear 3-D on their small screens without the need for any special glasses. These gaming units, cell phones and, soon, tablets are also being equipped with 3-D cameras making them capable of capturing, sending and sharing photos and video of unique 3-D content.

Content is the magic word!

For these new 3-D devices to succeed there needs to be content. Lots of it. Hollywood is scrambling but it can’t make it fast enough. Video games, tapping into the already present 3-D CGI will be broad providers of  material. Web developers will employ more and more 3-D imagery as the viewing devices become more readily available. Manufacturers are betting the house that users will become the biggest provider of 3-D content simply by sharing their images and video. Anaglyphic 3-D content that requires the use of the old red and blue lensed glasses is already proliferating on YouTube, paving the road for the more easily viewed autostereoscopic material.

I believe that no media can produce more dynamic 3-D content at an economical cost than comics. Comic art is a natural for 3-D with its traditional dependancy on line art and frequent use of dramatic forced perspective.  The effects in 3-D comics are enhanced and the layers of depth are more clearly defined than traditional stereoscopic photography and even 3-D CGI. Comics also give the reader a greater opportunity to appreciate 3-D in each static image of a story while in a 3-D video the effects stream by quickly, offering little chance to digest the depth of the graphics.

Motion comics offer the best of both worlds. In fact it was my having watched DC’s commercial for the New 52 and noting its achievement  of creating the illusion of depth with its graphics and motion of layers of art, combined with an ad for a newly released 3-D cell phone that includes a 3-D camera that  pushed the chocolate into the peanut butter for me. I had already seen the trailer for Green Lantern displayed on a 3-D capable  Nintendo 3DS and was quite impressed by the technology and the clarity of the image. The idea that any user could easily generate this type of 3-D photos and videos with their cell phone camera gave me hope that comic artists could do the same with simple ingenuity and the help of a program that could generate stereoscopic images from line art.

Click and Visit M2

I came across a 3-D motion comic made by the guys at M2 on Bleeding Cool that is a must see if you have an old pair of red and blue anaglyphic glasses on you. It will give you a chance to see the potential of motion comics in 3-D.

M2 : 3D Sizzle Reel 2011 from M2 on Vimeo.

If you are enjoying the motion comics please be sure to check out Bernie Mireault’s Jam motion comic right here at CO2 Comics. I’m sure you can easily imagine how great that would look in 3-D.

Check out Bernie Mireault's The JAM Motion Comic

I have always been intrigued by 3-D possibly because even though we live in a three dimensional reality it is so hard to capture. As an artist the biggest challenge is being forced to capture that third dimension on a two dimensional canvas.

My first experience with simulated 3-D was with a Viewmaster.  We all had them as kids, staring through those binocular-like viewers at a disc with a series of transparent slides. They were a toy adapted from basic stereoscopes that had been around since 1838.

Mighty_Mouse_3D

I was also a big fan of 3-D baseball cards that used lenticular graphics to create the illusion of depth. I at one time even owned a Nashika N8000 35mm 3-D camera that took photos that were processed and printed with this same lenticular process as the baseball cards.

3-D Comics have been around for a long time. The first 3-D comic featured Mighty Mouse and was published by St. John Comics in 1953. The 3-D effect was created by none other than the legendary Joe Kubert along with Norman Maurer and his brother Lenny. The 3-D comic fad in the 50’s was short lived but 3-D comics enjoyed a comeback in the 80’s under the guiding hand of Ray Zone.

We published a  ROBOTECH 3-D comic in 1987 while at Comico aond used Ray Zone’s expertise to produce it. Of course it contained pencils by CO2 Comics contributer Mike Leeke. Here are a couple of scans that you should be able to enjoy with a pair of 3-D specs.

With all of these new viewing devices and autostereoscopic technology 3-D may be here to stay permanently and comics may benefit. Digital comics will have an opportunity to separate themselves from print entirely offering an eyeglass-free experience that cannot be had in book format. Will the added dimension create added value? More importantly will it create an interest in comics that attracts a broader audience? I’m betting that if it helps to sell more 3-D devices then the answer is yes. Only time will tell if my hypothesis is correct but right now I’m in the mood for a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco


Paradigm Shift in Comics

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Deadlines, AAARGH!!!

Sometimes the stress of meeting a deadline can really get to you yet without the deadline some work will just never get done. The deadline is a necessary evil, especially in comics with monthly circulation schedules.

There's No Escape From A DEADLINE

Joe Williams and Tina Garceau do a nice job describing the perils in There’s No Escape From DEADLINE which can be read right here at CO2 Comics.

Back in the earlier days of comics one artist may have to hack out several comics in a month. Sometimes pools of artists would gather in a hotel room and jam to get an entire story done overnight. Guys like Joe Kubert can tell you stories like these all day long.

Joe Kubert, Photo Credit: Jim Salicrup for COMICS INTERVIEW

The worst part was that the pay was not so great considering all the work and talent that was necessary. This is why comics had long been considered the ghetto of the creative world.

Fans of CO2 Comics that have bought our first book David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection Volume 1 get a great inside look at what the industry looked like prior to the early 1980’s through interviews with many artists that had been there from the beginning of the comic book industry.

COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection

At times pivotal moments will pop up that retrospectively changed the course of comics and continue to effect the industry today.

One of those moments is described by Joe Rosen who had been a letterer in the industry since 1940 and during the eighties was still a go-to guy in the Marvel Bullpen.

Joe Rosen

He explains how his perspective was that creators generally used comics as a stepping stone to hone their skills, make a couple of bucks then move into a more rewarding career in advertising.

Joe credits Marvel with creating an environment with enough successful product, reasonable pay and benefits associated with contracts that creators could finally want to make a career out of making comics.

When you consider the great talents of the Silver Age, however, you still see a significant turnover with only a handful of guys and gals that are staples.

During the eighties, when the Direct Market begins to dominate distribution of comics, another shift occurs.

Dick Giordano, in his interview, describes an industry that was in danger of running out of talent as the older creators were getting set to retire and so few were being prepared to rise up the ranks.

Dick Giordano

Joe Kubert who tells about his comic arts school in COMICS INTERVIEW, along with some classes by Burne Hogarth at the School of Visual Arts in New York were about the only places that even taught comics at the time.

Dick, while he was running the show at DC, instituted a workshop for young talent that he hoped would help fill the impending void.

The educational efforts of these gentlemen and others that followed, the implementation of the Creators Bill of Rights and the success of the Direct Market and the diversity of product inspired by Independent publishers created a fertile environment that began to make comics an attractive career choice.

Today the numbers of talented people that describe themselves as comic professionals is astounding compared to the expectations of Dick Giordano in 1983.

Though the Comics Industry can still be a difficult place to forge a career full of financial gain it provides an opportunity for success that was unheard of just thirty years ago.

Comics have gained a respect in the artistic community and can no longer be described as a creative ghetto.

Most importantly creators now make comics because they want to, not because it is a humbling stepping stone to a greater career.

I enjoy finding these paradigm shifts as I read through COMICS INTERVIEW. The eighties was such a period of transformation for the industry as a whole and COMICS INTERVIEW was able to look at the whole era from inside out while giving us a clear view of the past through the eyes of the creators that had been there since the forties.

One thing that will never go away, however, is the dreaded DEADLINE and I think I just barely met this one. (Sorry, Bill)

Making Comics Because I Want to!

Gerry Giovinco


The Comic Company:
The Studio

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Gerry Giovinco and Bill Cucinotta

 

Superman has the Fortress of Solitude. Batman has the Bat Cave. Hugh Hefner has Playboy Mansion. (That lucky bastard…)

The great heroes always had a secret lair, a home base, a castle of sorts. These mythic headquarters become a trademarked extension of the person themselves and ad to the legacy of grandeur attributed to their deeds and accomplishments.

 

Gerry's space at the Studio

 

I always had a fascination for a “clubhouse” mentality. I remember being about four years old and having secret meetings with my younger brother, Tom, in a dark closet illuminated only by our dim nightlight which we had drug in before we closed the door. This was our secret place, and though I’m sure my parents knew where we were, it gave us toddlers a sense of independence and awareness of self that we didn’t have when we were supervised by adults.

Two years later, Batmania would grip the world. All my brother and I could dream of was our very own Bat Cave buried beneath our house. We would spend hours scheming secret entrances to our gloriously imagined hangout.

As the years passed, there was always some kind of toy cabin, clubhouse, or tree house that anchored my activities with my three brothers and friends.

 

Room with a view

 

This continued into college where I would hole up with Bill Cucinotta and the other so-called Ducks in our commandeered DUCKWORK office on the thirteenth floor of the Philadelphia College of Art.

Given my own propensity for a hangout it is no surprise to me that the defining catalyst for Comico becoming tangible was the availability of office space at 1547 Dekalb Street in Norristown, PA.

Phil LaSorda’s older brother Dennis had just purchased a duplex in which he planned to operate his physical therapy practice. He offered Phil, Vince Argondezzi and me the opportunity to operate Comico from the space in the adjacent half of the building that he had no immediate plans for.

The iron was hot.

Comico, which until this point was as much a dream for Phil, Vince and me as that Bat Cave under my house, was about to become real. This was the moment of truth. It was time to “shit or get off the pot.”

Vince chose to leave the porcelain vacant and, though he would contribute his comic Mr. Justice to Primer #1, his partnership with Phil and me had ended.

 

Fred the Duck. Gerry Giovinco, Bill Cucinotta and Phil LaSorda

 

Phil and I had grown used to the idea of a third person in the partnership. It especially came in handy breaking stalemates on important decisions. We turned to Bill Cucinotta who had been my right hand man while publishing DUCKWORK at PCA.

Bill knew the Direct Market of the comics industry very well because of his experience working retail at Fat Jack’s Comic Crypt in Philadelphia. As a partner, his knowledge gave us an edge that we did not have before.

 

Partners

 

Comico’s partnership was once more a triumvirate and we had our own headquarters dubbed simply “Comico Studios”. We generally would refer to it just as The Studio never intending to confuse or compare it to The Studio in Manhattan where Bernie Wrightson, Jeff Jones, Michael Kaluta, and Barry Windsor-Smith hung their hats.

 

Recently I have heard stories from various Comico fans that had found their way to Norristown and decided to look up the Comico headquarters which, in their mind, was a shining tower of architectural wonder. They were surprised to find that it was simply an old three-story, stone-fronted, duplex building that was once a family home with a wooden porch located on the corner of a busy street in a tired industrial town whose glory days had long passed.

Our main activities took place in what would have been the living room and dining room of the original house, complete with very dated orange, shag, wall-to-wall carpet that covered beautiful hardwood floors. Eventually the bedrooms would become offices as our staff expanded.

At the time all of the guys that hung out at the studio were college age and we had a very fraternal sensibility that had carried over from our DUCKWORK experience.

We tended to play as hard as we worked and seemed to never leave the building, often crashing on the couch or cots that we had brought in for the many all-nighters that were pulled to meet deadlines or to just hang out. The pizza shop on the opposite corner made it easy for us to always have food and drink.

Our families forgot who we were.

Posters and art covered the walls. There was a riddled dart board that was used to shake out those punchy moments in the wee morning hours. It was not unusual to find the mantel of the fire place lined with empty beer bottles.

 

Bill Cucinotta and Bill Anderson, Trashed and too close for comfort

 

This would all change eventually as Comico became more of a business and less of an adventure but those early days harbor all of the most romantic memories of young guys setting out to conquer the world of comics as they knew it with little more than hope, a dream and some talent.

 

Reggie Byers and a new shipment

 

We would get visitors. Many with portfolios or scripts in hand. Some just curious. The visitors that thrilled me the most though were heros that provided inspiration so great that I get misty thinking about their visits even today.

Murphy Anderson whose Visual Concepts Inc. was our flat color separator and would visit often.

Joe Kubert, whose school we offered a small scholarship to, and whose sons eventually worked on our books, stopped in to say hi.

Dick Giordano along with Pat Bastienne would stop by for holiday parties.

All of them are comic book legends.

They would marvel at our humble space and it would take them back to stories of the good old days when they, themselves were kids in the industry holed up in hotel rooms knocking out an issue by committee overnight.

The twinkle in each of their eyes as they reminisced is something I’ll never forget.

When I write these articles, I get that twinkle and I remember why I love making comics.

It is more than the art of it. More than the love of the medium. More than the camaraderie of other comic artists.

It is being part of it all.

Being part of the history of all the folks that made the comics that put a smile on the face of a reader young or old.

 

Gerry Giovinco, Reggie Byers, Phil LaSorda, Bill Cucinotta. Neil Vokes (in back), Matt Wagner, Rich Rankin

 

Being part of a unique tradition of a wonderful medium and passing it forward to the next generation.

 

Snowmageddon trashed the front porch

The clubhouse is a lot different today. It exists in a technological wonder called the internet. It is not bricks and mortar like the old duplex in Norrisown. It is digital and the visitors stop in from all over the world.

Our new headquarters has a name. It is CO2 Comics.

It has an address: www.co2comics.com

Stop and visit.

Visit often.

Making comics because I want to.

Gerry Giovinco


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