Friday, November 27, 2015

THE PUMA BLUES by Murphy & Zulli


THE PUMA BLUES was a comic book created by Stephen Murphy and Michael Zulli, originally published from 1986 to 1989, leaving off unfinished after 23 issues of what it appears was going to be at least 36 to tell the whole story. Mere weeks ago, THE PUMA BLUES - THE COMPLETE SAGA IN ONE VOLUME was published by Dover, collecting not only 485 pages of the main story from the original series (plus some extras), but also a new 40 page ending by Murphy and Zulli, something I'd long ago given up hope of ever seeing (for me personally the wait wasn't quite as long as it was for some, since I read the book through back issue purchases starting sometime in 1990, I think just after Zulli's THE SANDMAN #13 was published, quickly getting all of the issues, so it was still a 25 year wait for me).

The book is ostensibly a science fiction story, with the main narrative starting in the far off future world of the year 2000, where the star of the show, young Gavia Immer (scientific name for the common loon) is stationed by the army in the quarantined Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts, where among other things a species of flying manta rays have evolved, to great governmental curiosity. From this starting point we get all sorts of reflections on the environment, the nature of reality and human consciousness, conspiracy theories, alien visitations, the impending apocalypse and more. This is told in some very experimental ways, including one issue which is mostly following a puma around the reservoir, with only pictures and sound effects, others which are mostly presentations of experimental documentaries made by Gavia's father and another issue where most of the text is an existential poem. So, y'know, not an easy book to read or describe, but an absolutely beautiful one to look at and experience.

I don't want to say too much about the ending just yet, until more people have had a chance to read it, but I will say that it's mostly satisfying. Not completely, but a 40 page story to complete what would probably have been 260 or more pages was never going to be, and Murphy and Zulli are obviously in a completely different place now. There are a lot of elements in the new pages which couldn't have been in the original plans, references to real-world events of the last quarter century, and I'd be fascinated to know how much of the overall arc of the finale was in the original plans. It definitely gives you something to think about, whether you've been waiting decades for it or the whole 525 page work is new to you.

In addition to that 525 main story, the collection also includes "Act of Faith", a short 4-page story by Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette and Michael Zulli first published in #20, one page from a Murphy/Zulli/Bissette interlude story "Pause" from the same issue, a mini-comic "#24 1/2" by Murphy and Zulli, an introduction and pin-up by original publisher Dave Sim and an afterword by Bissette which gets into a lot of the comic book industry politics which overshadowed the last year of the book.

Anyway, worth picking up, and an absolute bargain at only US$30 SRP for a hardcover brick of a book. It's on the list of stuff I'll write more about if I ever get around to posting here more.

And hopefully if the book does well, the publisher (Dover) can be persuaded to do a PUMA BLUES COMPANION volume, with a complete cover gallery of Zulli's gorgeous full-colour covers, the complete "Pause" story and other miscellaneous stuff (I assume at least some work was done on #24 back in 1989, which would be interesting to see if it's available).

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Murphy Anderson, R.I.P.


Comic book artist Murphy Anderson passed away at age 86. I'm mostly familiar with his work as an inker, and was a big fan of his work on various artists, in particular Curt Swan. He also did full art on a few things, and those are also very enjoyable.

A few words on the images I picked. The first one was published in BLUE BEETLE #2 [1986], but was drawn over 40 years earlier, even before Anderson was working professionally in comics, as he explains in that issue. The other three images are from three issues of SECRET ORIGINS (#8 - Doll Man, #19 - Uncle Sam and #21 - Black Condor) from 1986/7, three stories he was specifically chosen for as a tribute to artist Lou Fine, who drew the characters in the golden age (and as Anderson himself explains in the text box on that Doll Man page). Those were some gorgeous and entertaining stories, especially the Uncle Sam one, easily among the highlights of that run of SECRET ORIGINS.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Good Miracle Monday


A quick reminder to remember to set a place at the table for Superman tonight, the classic Miracle Monday tradition, as seen in this story from SUPERMAN #400 [1984] by Elliot S! Maggin and Klaus Janson.

Next year in Metropolis!

And if for some reason you've never read them, pick up Maggin's two Superman novels, LAST SON OF KRYPTON and MIRACLE MONDAY, or better yet, pester someone at DC to reprint them.

(Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Herb Trimpe, R.I.P.


Herb Trimpe, long-time comic book artist, primarily working at Marvel from the 1960s to the 1990s and best known for his long run drawing THE INCREDIBLE HULK (including several major issues, including the first appearance of Wolverine), passed away at age 75. I especially enjoyed his work on GODZILLA in the 1970s.

Here are a few images from lesser known stories that Trimpe wrote as well as drew. The self portrait is from STREETWISE [2000]. The "Lotsa Yox" page (inked by Wallace Wood) and the splash page from "Token" are from Flo Steinberg's BIG APPLE COMIX [1975] and the "Skywarriors" page is from SAVAGE TALES #1 [1985] (the "Skywarriors" feature ran in the first four issues of that magazine).


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Comic Creator Screen Credits


If for some reason you're like me, and find the following clip to be possibly the best 8 seconds of any super-hero movie ever made:


Then you'd probably be interested in the page I just started on Tumblr:

(note I started it mostly to have a place to play around with on Tumblr for another page I want to put up, so expect the design of it to change frequently and drastically over the next few weeks)

I'm going to try to put up as many examples as I can of the screen credits that comic creators get for screen adaptations of their characters and stories. Mostly screen captures, but the occasional video clip like above where appropriate. I'll also include the unfortunate cases of films and shows that lack any credit to the creators:

I'll put up all that I have access to over the next month (my local library has most things released within the last decade, and Netflix should come in handy), and then put up a list of those I don't have for anyone interested to submit after that.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Groo vs. Image


When Groo was being published by Image back in 1994-1995, one regular treat was how Sergio Aragon├ęs incorporated Groo into the Image "i" logo on the top left corner of each issue, following the classic Marvel style character illustration in the corner box which had been used for the Epic series. For all but one of them Aragon├ęs found a way to use the design of the logo for an extra little gag. Here are all the logos, and you can check here to see them in the context of the full covers.

Weblog by BobH [bobh1970 at gmail dot com]