Friday, May 27, 2005

Pop Artifact! Bugs Bunny alarm clock

92 and still going strong: "Lone Ranger" artist Tom Gill

The Albuquerque Tribune has a nice feature this week on Gill, who drew the Masked Man's comic book adventures for 20 years for Dell/Gold Key.

Now a consultant with New York City's School of Visual Arts and a teacher at Westchester and Dutchess community colleges in New York, Gill talks a bit about his early days. A New York native, he admits that the Western settings in his comic book work came solely from his imagination. And he reveals where he learned to draw such great horses:

"I bought a $1 book called `How to Draw Horses: It's Fun and It's Easy,' " he says. "I studied it."

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

First Finger award winners announced

Lifted from Mark Evanier's blog, here's the press release on the winners of this first-time award for excellence in comic book writing. The awards are named after Bill Finger, comics scribe and co-creator of Batman.

Jerry Siegel and Arnold Drake have been chosen as the first recipients of the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing. They were chosen by a blue-ribbon committee chaired by Jerry Robinson. The committee decided to give two awards, to honor both a deceased and a living writer who exemplify the award's criteria.

Jerry Siegel was, of course, the co-creator (with Joe Shuster) of Superman and Superboy and wrote the Superman comic books and comic strip from the character's first appearance in 1938 up through the late 1940s. He also co-created The Spectre (with Bernard Baily) for DC. After leaving DC (in a well-publicized dispute) in 1948, he continued to write comic books for a variety of companies and served as the comics art director at Ziff-Davis in the 1950s. He returned to DC in 1958, where he wrote uncredited Superman and other scripts through 1964. He died in 1996.

"There is a poetic sense of rightness that Jerry Siegel, co-creator of Superman, and Bill Finger, the unsung hero and writer of Batman, be symbolically united after three quarters of a century after their iconic characters' debuts," says Robinson. "Although both men led tragic lives, by launching the superhero genre and the Golden Age of comics, they left legacies that have enriched our culture."

Arnold Drake's comics writing career spanned the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. His credits include Doom Patrol (creator), Deadman (creator), Batman, Superman, Plastic Man, X-Men, Captain Marvel, Star Trek, Twilight Zone, Mighty Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Bullwinkle and Rocky, Stanley and His Monster (creator), Little Lulu, Space Ranger, House of Mystery, and Dark Shadows. His It Rhymes with Lust, with art by Matt Baker and Ray Osrin, published by St. John Publishing in 1950, was one of the very first graphic novels.

"Like Finger and Siegel, Drake is a consummate professional writer," says Robinson. "As the author of hundreds of stories from the Silver Age to the present, his credits demonstrate an amazing versatility, ranging from the superhero and adventure such as Doom Patrol to the wry humor of Little Lulu."

The other members of the Finger Awards jury were comics writer and historian Mark Evanier, cartoonist/screenwriter/playwright Jules Feiffer, comics writer/editor Denny O'Neil, and comics writer/editor/historian Roy Thomas.

The awards will be presented during the Eisner Awards ceremony at this summer's Comic-Con International: San Diego. Joanne Siegel will be present to accept the award for her late husband. Arnold Drake will be on hand to receive his award.

The Finger Award falls under the auspices of Comic-Con International and is administered by Jackie Estrada. The 2005 awards are being underwritten by DC Comics; sponsorship will be open to other companies in future years.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Return of Madness

Many Americans only remember the "Our House" video, but Madness was a brilliant band. They started off as part of the ska revival band and soon ended up as a wonderfully melodic pop group that incorporated funny/sad lyrics commenting on contemporary British society ala The Kinks. One of the better British groups ever. And it looks like they're back.

Billboard reports:

Esteemed U.K. ska act Madness has signed with V2, which is eyeing a July 19 North American release for an as-yet-untitled new album from the original lineup of the group. Although details are scant at deadline, the set is tipped to consist of ska, punk and reggae covers the band performed last summer when it toured as the Dangermen.

"Batman Begins" soundtrack details

It's out June 15:

a unique collaboration between two of the screen's most honored and respected composers, Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, working together for the first time.

...The soundtrack contains 12 tracks composed by Zimmer and Howard and is 60 minutes in length.

"Collaborating on this project has been a lot of fun. Since 'Batman Begins' is a character driven story, we wanted to give Batman credibility through the music. We've created a score that tried to stay true to the duality of the character, capturing the motion, energy, darkness and rage of Batman," said Zimmer and Howard.

Wilson talks "Smile"

USA Today has an interview with Brian Wilson about his excellent "Smile" album and the DVD documentary on same, which is out tomorrow.

"Smile represents my most advanced and best work," Wilson says as he settles into the sofa of his family room. "If I hadn't finished it, I'd probably be in the dumps. Knowing what I created made me happy, but I wouldn't be so happy if it had bombed. I needed that love. When I die, I hope people remember Smile as a great piece of music."