Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Waiting for Wednesday, Volume 2, Issue 19

Annnd…I’m back in the dark.

This past weekend, Exfanding HQ had to weather another storm. Nuthin’ fancy about this one, either. Just incredibly high winds coupled with, uh, higher winds made our heavily wooded secret location vulnerable to…um, wind attacks, apparently.

And if Moby Dick taught us anything, it’s that man will always win in a battle against nature.

The short story goes something like this--wind blew, tree fell on power line, small fire, electricity surged through (live, still on the property) wires, electric meter exploded, larger but still not too scary fire, fire department said hello, electric company took over 12 hours to say hello, electrician said, “Um, a day or two” before the town issues permit to approve work, still in dark.


I don’t mind the electricity being out, really. It’s like one big excuse to lie down and read. Or to lie down and sleep. But they’re saying rain in the forecast, and that means, if the lights don’t come back on for a few days (as we’ve been told), there’s the very real (and likely!) possibility that a flooded basement will be in my future.


And once (read: if) the power does come back on this week, I’m fairly certain that I won’t have Internet access at home for even longer, since something strange happens to my wireless router every time the power goes out.

I like to call it an added bonus.

So today will be a mostly text heavy Waiting for, unless I manage to scrounge up some images while I’m at work. Otherwise, this here’s a Very iPhone Edition of WfW. But, hey, it is Wednesday after all, and at least there will be comics in the near future.

But before we get to all that, I wanted to talk a bit more about the passing of Frank Frazetta, an artist who defined, redefined, and catapulted a genre and influenced more creators than anyone else in the field.
There have been plenty of high profile, important people saying incredible things about the life, the art, and the legacy of Frazetta. People like Neal Adams and Guillermo del Toro have talked about the importance of Frazetta’s contributions. I’ve learned that his fans are legion, and that Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, and Sly Stallone are among the numerous celebrities to have a Frazetta original in their collections.
So what can I possibly say here, on this little blog read by about 100 people (on a good day) that hasn’t already been said?
Honestly, I don’t think there’s too much, really.

I became aware of Frank Frazetta’s work just a few years ago. Well, actually, that’s not right. It’s more accurate to say that I became aware that I was aware of Frazetta’s work. In English, what I mean is this.

I’d seen the artwork countless times before--on book covers, on album covers, on TV. I knew the paintings, but I didn’t know the painter.
That changed when I was lucky enough to catch a documentary called Painting with Fire on the Independent Film Channel several years back. Some of the art was familiar--the Conan paintings I remember from book covers, the Death Dealer series I’d seen, probably, in comic shops/baseball card stores as a kid.

But what really struck me was the story of the man behind the paintings. He was familiar to me.

An Italian American from New York--Brooklyn, to be exact, an athlete, an artist, a family man. His story sounded like my grandfather’s story. He worked hard his entire life. He was a baseball player--so good, in fact, that he could have signed with the New York Giants. He had talents beyond those of any of us.

My grandfather lived in the Bronx. He was a woodworker. He carved tables and chairs and picture frames. His sense of design was beautiful. His woodwork was meticulous. He created art on a daily basis, and his finished products live on to this day.

He was also a family man, who worked, as my father has said many times, “like an animal” to provide for his family. He was an athlete, too. Ran in the World’s Fair and medaled.

I never met my grandfather. He died a couple of years before I was born. But as I was watching this documentary about an artist, Frank Frazetta, I couldn’t help but think of my grandfather.
Similar stories. Similar backgrounds.

Knowing more about Frazetta after watching the documentary, I decided I wanted to learn as much about his art as I could. So I did some research, bought and read a handful of books, and I was opened up to his world, his artistic vision.

Talk about an enlightening experience.

Since I’m not an artist, I can’t speak about the style, the draftsmanship, or even the artistic influence of the work itself. But I am an expert in knowing what I like, and man, I was immediately impacted by Frazetta’s art, just as so many have been and will continue to be.

So, yeah. I was saddened by the news on Monday that a true visionary had died, and I thought I’d tell you why. If you’ve never had the experience of discovering Frazetta’s work, I really can’t communicate clearly enough how highly I’d recommend it.

Search online, go to the library. You’ll be glad you did.

With that, I’d like to segue from the Man himself to his protégés--today’s comic book creators. Today’s Wednesday, and electricity or no electricity, I’m heading to the store this afternoon.

Actually, come to think of it, it's utterly inappropriate that my electricity is out while I write about Frank Frazetta. "Electric" is a word I've heard as a descriptor of his art many times, and by looking at his body of work, it's easy to see why.

Anyway, on to today's comics. There’s just WAY too much stuff coming out today--including a major event book from both Marvel and DC--and typing this up on my phone is getting downright ridiculous, so here’s a quick sampling of what I’m most looking forward to.
First up, we have DC’s heavy hitter for the week, the first issue of Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, by Grant Morrison and artist Chris Sprouse. See, I told ya he’d be back.

Obviously, DC was never really going to bump off its original Batman, and today we get to see part one of Morrison’s sure to be thought-provoking look at the return of an icon.

Here’s the hyperbole-ridden solicitation information from DC:

The most anticipated series of 2010 is here! Superstar writer Grant Morrison tackles his most ambitious project to date with THE RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE, a special six-part series that chronicles the return of the original man behind Batman's cape and cowl!

Each issue spans a different era of time and features the dynamic artwork of one of today's artistic juggernauts, starting with Chris Sprouse (TOM STRONG) on the extra-sized issue #1 and Frazer Irving (SEVEN SOLDIERS: KLARION) on the 40-page issue #2!

Look for the trademark Morrison trippiness here, but also expect a story that cuts to the heart of the Dark Knight. Sure, Morrison's stories are epic in nature, spanning time and space, but he always has these smaller moments that prove he gets the characters.

It might be a page, or a panel, or even a single line of dialogue, but it's always there.

Moving on, from Marvel today, Brian Bendis' Siege, issue four ships, signaling the end of the old and the beginning of a new direction for Marvel. Or is that, out with the new, and in with the newer?
One of several high profile books shipping today from the House of Ideas, the finale to Marvel's Siege event promises some big shakeups, and so far the series has delivered on the surrounding hype.

Here's the blurb from the publisher for today's issue four:

THE MARVEL BLOCKBUSTER OF THE YEAR!! This double-sized finale brings the Dark Reign to a shattering conclusion and brings with it the bombastic new HEROIC AGE.

Every single page of this book is a shocker: Lives are changed. Heroes fall. Deaths. Revenge. Villain comeuppance.

And when the dust settles, who will be in charge of the Marvel Universe?? You will find out here and only here. This is the one they will be talking about.

I'll be on board with this, and I'll probably even double dip, and buy the series when it's collected.

Okay. I need to stop typing now. As you noticed, I'm sure, I was able to throw in some visuals for this week's post. I certainly didn't mean for it to go on this long, but, hey, sometimes that happens.

Thanks for listening, and before you go--what are you Waiting for?


Scott said...

Batman was pretty good, if teaser-iffic. Not much seemed to happen in it, actually; we just learned what happened to him and why he's still around, sort of... and then everything changed. I sort of hate it when they blow an entire issue on that.

Seige was the same thing; it wasn't AS action-packed as they promised, but it was pretty action-packed. The end of the fight seemed pretty deus ex machina, a bit too much for my tastes. And then it ended with a bit of a teaser.

On the other hand, the second issue of The Flash was great for me. With Barry Allen back, things are going back to the detective-like Flash roots I always enjoyed a lot. I'm looking forward to seeing more.

Scott said...

I actually liked the Seige Epilogue with the Sentry more than the last issue of Seige itself. I wish they'd put a little more time/effort into the Epilogue.

AJG said...

Hmmm...I'm looking forward to reading them both, but I've heard from several people that Bruce was better than Siege.

And, yeah, you couldn't be more right about Flash--what a great book. Johns is quickly becoming my favorite mainstream writer.