Born and raised on newsprint comics, where even the smallest job was “hand done”– I am constantly amazed where inspired artists can take this medium in the digital age. And I’m not talking about sought-after pencilers like David Finch, J.H. Williams III or John Romita Jr… Or their equally adept inkers or colorists.
I’m talking about the letterers, who nowadays do 99% of their work on impersonal computers. Comics Silver Age is where these particular artists really started to excel (and finally began receiving the recognition they deserved).
Marvel’s Artie Simek was the first letterer I remember really appreciating. Then later, John Costanza— primarily for his massive amount of excellent DC Comics work. (Oh, how well Costanza’s lettering meshed with Jim Aparo’s beautiful artwork– particularly on a Batman comic!) After that, I couldn’t help but notice the style and innovation of the equally prolific Todd Klein. There were other greats, of course, and, especially in the earlier years– a lot of bad letterers too.
As a kid, knowing who lettered a book meant a lot to me– but I had no idea it had developed into a minor obsession as I grew older. How much great comic book lettering affected me was never more clear than when a colleague introduced me to John Costanza in the halls of DC Comics one day. I immediately launched into this 20 minute (I’m not kidding) praise-filled recollection about how much I loved and admired his lettering and how much it meant to me when I saw his name listed in a comic book’s credits. I later discovered this kid’s enthusiasm spooked John a little. (Thankfully, I was able to prove to him later I wasn’t quite as “bug nuts crazy” as I seemed that day.)
In other news, it’s a shit week this week. (Remember, there are FIVE Wednesdays this month). Not saying there aren’t a few books with great buzz but many I have already touted in previous columns (Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes, B.P.R.D, etc)… Otherwise, nothing really stands out– especially when I made the decision to overlook any potential POS* with Rob Liefeld’s name attached to it.
Batman Streets Of Gotham Vol 3 House Of Hush – Own the Hardcover
Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes
B.P.R.D. Volume 17 Hell On Earth Volume 3 Russia
Cable Classic Vol 3
Captain America By Ed Brubaker Vol 1 – Own the Hardcover
Captain Easy Vol 3 Soldier Of Fortune HC
Complete Peanuts Box Set 1983-1986
Complete Peanuts Vol 18 1985-1986 HC
Conan The Daughters Of Midora And Other Stories
Creativity Of Steve Ditko HC
Darkness Compendium Vol 2 Limited S&N HC
Definitive Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim Vol 2 HC
Elektra Assassin (New Print)
Empowered Deluxe Edition Volume 2 HC – Own the Trade Volumes
Essential Warlock Vol 1
Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse Vol 2
GI Joe Disavowed Vol 6
Green Lantern Green Arrow – The O’Neil/Adams classics…
Hawk And Dove Vol 1 First Strikes – The flip-side to the book listed above…
Hulk Season One HC
Infestation 2 Vol 3
Kill Audio – Recommended. Own the Hardcover
Little Prince Vol 1 Planet Of The Wind
Making Of HC
Mega Man Vol 2 Time Keeps On Slipping
Operation Broken Wings 1936
Red Diary Re(a)d Diary Flipbook HC – I’m probably most looking forward to this…
Star Wars The Clone Wars The Sith Hunters
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics Vol 1
Treasury 20th Century Murder Vol 5 Lovers Lane HC
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man By Brian Bendis Vol 1 – Own the Hardcover
Uncanny X-Force Vol 4 Dark Angel Saga Book 2 – Own the Hardcover
Air Gear Vol 25
Bamboo Blade Vol 14
Betrayal Knows My Name Vol 4
Bunny Drop Vol 6
Cage of Eden Vol 6
Fairy Tail Vol 12 (Kodansha Edition) – Own the Del Rey Edition
Inu Yasha Vol 12 (Viz BIG Edition)
Itsuwaribito Vol 6
Kekkaishi Vol 33 – Buying the Omnibus Editions
Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Vol 13
Nabari No Ou Vol 11
Omamori Himari Vol 8
Puella Magi Madoka Magica Vol 2
Soul Eater Vol 10
Voltron Force Vol 3 Twin Trouble
To be a current Ghost Rider fan is exactly the same as being a glutton for punishment. It seems that no matter how much fans love the character or what “name” creators Marvel slops onto the concept– you’ll spend your money for naught… Unless you think the cool fire effects colorists can conjure up via computers these days somehow trumps a forest of wooden characterization and flaccid storytelling.
Unfortunately, having just read Ghost Rider: The Complete Series by Rob Williams– I can report the Ghost Rider dry spell continues sorrowfully unabated.
I’m really not going to go into any grand detail here– other than to say lots of macho action, hellfire and a few testosterone-laced tag lines do not a Ghost Rider comic make. Sadly, it seems the Ghost Rider’s significance as a premiere member of Marvel’s Horror Squad becomes more diluted with each new iteration.
Today I’m looking squarely at Rob Williams new Ghost Rider– who also happens to be a very pretty woman (when she has skin) named Alejandra. Truth be told, her character is so sketchily constructed in this series (as if pausing for any true humanizing character development would be verboten in a Ghost Rider comic), I could really care less about her too.
No, I’m focusing on the fact that when Marvel “okayed” this new female Ghost Rider… Somebody, somewhere decided to give this fire-breathing vengeance seeker big, bountiful breasts… Even when she is in full flaming skeletal mode.
Trust what I type in the next sentence: I am the last person to ever complain about female breasts– in any medium.
But breasts on a Ghost Rider… A burning skeleton? It’s a cheap, stupid stunt that completely grounds this entire enterprise in the first fiery panel she appears in. Marvel, all you have to do is go back and actually read the original origin story to “get” what keeps attracting people to the Ghost Rider– no matter what crap you throw at us.
This character could be so much more than a flaming head in a leather biker outfit. The minute you understand that– and quit doing silly shit like drawing tits on a skeleton– maybe we’ll get somewhere.