Thursday, September 9, 2021

The Process of Making Comics

Helen's first appearance, featured in exhibit.
The Bradbury Art Museum at Arkansas State University will open a new exhibition on September 15, 2021: "Legends: An Exploration of Contemporary Storytelling from Frame to Experience." My artwork will be featured among that of other cartoonists.

This exhibit uniquely concentrates on the process of creating art, not just the final piece. To demonstrate the process, each piece of my original art will be exhibited along with notes, sketches, scripts, and thumbnails I created in preparing the final piece.

The pieces on exhibit will include several Age of Bronze pages, including the first appearance of Helen; a Star Wars cover; and an Iron Man double-page spread.

Other artists included are Sarah Anderson, Gustav Carlson, JooYoung Choi, Michelle Czajkowski, Neil Emmanuel, Sean Fitzgibbon, Peter Kuper, Chad Maupin, Mythic Times, Josh Neufeld, Trina Robbins, and Kevin Snipes.

The exhibit runs through December 8, 2021. For more info, here's a link to the museum's press release.


Copyright © Eric Shanower 2021. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Shades of Kirby!

The Robonic Stooges are at it again. At what? Why, parodying another well-known super-hero comic book. I had a good time drawing the Robonic Stooges invading the Fantastic Four's world. And best of all, the colorist aped the original colors well.

The Robonic Stooges #2 went on sale last week with my cover based on Jack Kirby's cover for Fantastic Four #1.

For extra, added stooginess, look closely to find Shemp.

Get the issue at your local comics shop or order from the publisher, American Mythology, at this link.


Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Infinity Stooges

The Three Stooges starred in a Saturday morning television show in the 1980s. They played what passed for sort-of mechanical super-heroes on The Robonic Stooges. 

I never watched it . . .

. . . until recently when I was asked to draw some covers for the current Robonic Stooges comic book series from American Mythology. So I looked up The Robonic Stooges on Youtube and found a few clips for drawing reference.

In the 1990s, Marvel Comics published a comic book series called The Infinity Gauntlet. I guess it was popular. I never read it, despite my enjoyment of Jim Starlin's Warlock comics from the 1970s.

My cover for The Robonic Stooges #1 parodies a cover from The Infinity Gauntlet drawn by George Perez. I like drawing parodies, so this was fun.

I have no idea how many—or if any—fans of both The Robonic Stooges and The Infinity Gauntlet possibly exist who might think this cover is the bees knees.

But I like it.

If you like it, too, you can order it at this link.

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower. All rights reserved.


Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Half Price Giant Garden

What a great deal! The Giant Garden of Oz, a full-length prose Oz book I wrote and illustrated, is on sale for HALF PRICE from Dover Publications, the publisher. Here's the link: https://store.doverpublications.com/0486798356.html

This is the second edition with new cover art, a few new illustrations, and revised text.

In The Giant Garden of Oz, Dorothy Gale travels across the Land of Oz, through the air, and under the earth in a quest to save Aunt Em and Uncle Henry's farm from destruction
by giant vegetables.

One great new character is Imogene, a talking cow who gives the most unusual types of milk. Ever wonder how to get a full-grown cow into the basket of a hot air balloon? The Giant Garden of Oz has the answer to that!

I don't know how long this deal will last, so if you're interested in reading this up-to-date and thrilling Oz adventure, don't hesitate to click the link.

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Rose City Comic Con Appearance Cancelled

I've just cancelled my appearance at Rose City Comic Con 2021 in Portland, Oregon, September 10-12, 2021, due to my concerns about Covid, especially the delta variant.

I'm vaxxed, of course. But evidence shows that a vax doesn't prevent contraction of Covid. It just lessens the severity.

Rose City's website explains that masks will be mandatory and that the convention will follow all CDC recommendations. That's great--as far as it goes.

Comic book conventions generally consist of thousands of people in one large room, all breathing the same air. And even if all people at Rose City Comic Con 2021 were to assiduously keep their masks in place, how could I sell any comics or graphic novels to them if they stay six feet away? Do they toss their cash or credit cards to me? Do I toss their merchandise to them? I suppose I could try to back up at least six feet whenever anyone were to approach my table. But many conventions don't have that much room behind a table.

It all just seems like a terrible idea to me, just begging to be a Spreader Event. I like meeting fans of my work in public settings, but I think this is way too early to hold conventions such as this one. I won't be participating.


Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

More Betrayal in Color

John Dallaire is still coloring Age of Bronze: Betrayal Part One. Here's another sample page of finished color, the scene where Philoktetes's foot is pierced by one of his arrows.

Looks great, doesn't it?

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower.

Color copyright © 2021 John Dallaire.

All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Oz Interview with Skottie Young and Me

Colin Ayres of Oz Con International interviewed Skottie Young and me about our work on the best-selling Oz graphic novel series published by Marvel.

This interview debuted at the 57th Oz Con International, which happened virtually a few weeks ago.

Now it's posted on The Oz Connection, the convention's Youtube channel,
for all to watch and listen. Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OyuHdoJ2Nc

Skottie and I discuss how the project started, how we approached it creatively, and our views of the project now that it's behind us.

It was great to spend an hour with Skottie again. The whole Oz series is still in print and available from your favorite comics store or bookseller.

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

First Personal Appearance in the Age of Covid

Rose City Comic Con will take place September 10-12, 2021, at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon. Last year, the 2020 convention was cancelled due to Covid-19. I rolled over my appearance to this year.

At this point, nearing the end of July 2021, I have trepidation about attending. The Delta variant is surging in North America. I'm vaxxed, of course. But a vax doesn't prevent contraction of the disease, just lessens the probability and, if contracted, the severity. So I'm not anxious to get into an enclosed area with thousands of people breathing all around me.

Current convention policy is to require masks. But unless that requirement will be enforced by members of the security staff, I expect that'll be kind of a joke. Besides, masks don't prevent the spread of Covid, they minimize it. If Rose City Comic Con turns into a Spreader Event, I don't want to be there.

So I'm just letting everyone out there know my concerns. I'm planning on attending. But if the spread of Covid in North America doesn't undergo a sharp reduction within a reasonable period prior to Rose City Comic Con, I'll likely cancel my appearance there.

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Return to Oz

 OzCon takes place this coming weekend and I'll be on the program.

The 57th OzCon International goes virtual over the internet again this year, due to the Age of Covid. And that means it's FREE to attend on Zoom.

But you have to sign up to get the Zoom link. Here's where to sign up: http://www.ozconinternational.com.

First, Skottie Young and I discuss our work on Marvel Comics's popular Oz graphic novel series from 2008-2013. 7 pm, Friday, July 16.

Second, I'll be on a panel about the Oz books of Ruth Plumly Thompson, the successor to Oz creator L. Frank Baum. Thompson's work is a different flavor than Baum's. I expect some controversy on this panel. 1:30 pm, Saturday, July 17.

Third, The Tik-Tok Man of Oz was L. Frank Baum's 1913 stage show, the show he expected to be his crowning theatrical achievement. Why wasn't it? Come listen to my presentation and watch a few clips from the 2014 revival I produced. 8 pm, Saturday, July 17.

Lots of other stuff happening, too. Here's a link to the complete schedule: http://www.ozconinternational.com/schedule.html. See you there!

All times are Pacific Daylight Time.


Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Talkin' Comics

The Comic Cube presents a video interview with me. Duy Tano asks me about my projects and career. While we discuss Age of Bronze and touch on Oz, I mention a few things people rarely ask me about.

Here's the Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7S3fCSw6umw

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower. All rights reserved.

Monday, May 31, 2021

The Disney-Oz Connection

For its 2015 convention, OzCon International, the longest-running annual Oz event, celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Walt Disney Company's 1985 feature film Return to Oz. I presented the theme-related program "The Disney-Oz Connection." I discussed all the Oz and Oz-related projects the Disney company has worked on during its history, whether an individual project came to fruition or not.

Five years passed. The world found itself in the grip of an epidemic. OzCon 2020 was held virtually because of Covid. The convention chairman, Colin Ayres, asked whether I'd record my Disney-Oz presentation as a feature for the virtual convention. Sure, I said. I revised and updated the presentation for 2020. You can watch it for free on OzCon's YouTube channel, the OzConnection. "The Disney-Oz Connection" is here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cib_gArPPoM

I don't know how it occurred, but the presentation has a mistake. The second slide goes by too fast. In the online version, the narration for the second slide consists of only one sentence. The missing narration isn't vital to the presentation, but it sets the stage for Walt Disney's interest in Oz. Here's the full text I wrote and recorded for that slide:

Any discussion of Oz and Disney starts with Walt Disney himself. Walter Elias Disney was born in Chicago, Illinois, on December 5, 1901. Whether he was familiar with the Oz books when he was a child is unknown, but I think the chances are that he was. As a young child he listened while his mother read him fairy tales. As he grew older he became a voracious reader. He devoured the works of Mark Twain and Charles Dickens, and as a teenager he loved the adventure stories of Jimmie Dale, alias the Gray Seal.
OzCon for 2021 will be virtual again. I'll be presenting a program or two, if you're interested. Here's the link to more info on the OzCon website:

http://www.ozconinternational.com/

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower. All rights reserved.

Monday, May 17, 2021

All the Stooges Minus One

I drew the cover for the forthcoming Three Stooges Thru the Ages #1. It features Stooges stalwarts Moe and Larry, plus Curly, Shemp, and Curly Joe. But no Joe Besser.

I was told not to draw Joe Besser on this cover. I guess Three Stooges fans don't like Joe Besser.

The issue with my cover is currently on sale
from publisher American Mythology. Or order from your favorite comics shop.

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower. All rights reserved.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Mail Voting

On July 4, 1876, one hundred years after the United States of America declared its independence from Great Britain, more than half the population could still not vote in a federal election. White male landowners had the vote from the beginning of the country. In 1870 the Constitution granted black men the right to vote. But all women were still denied voting rights.

At the great centennial celebration of the USA in Philadelphia, the National Woman Suffrage Association was denied the right to speak. So Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Sara Andrews Spencer, Lillie Devereux Blake, and Phoebe W. Couzins stormed the podium during the proceedings to present the Declaration of the Rights of Women of the United States. The women were shooed from the stage. Another fifty-five years passed before women in the USA could vote in federal elections.

Syracuse Cultural Workers issued a postcard commemorating the July 1876 issuance of the women's rights declaration. I drew the artwork for it and Laura Martin colored it. I originally drew it for a short comics biography of Matilda Joslyn Gage, perhaps the most fascinating figure in the women's rights movement of her time. I highly recommend her book Woman, Church, and State first published in the 1890s. I suspect it will never go out of style.

If you're interested in ordering the postcard with my drawing of Matilda and her compatriots, it's available here: https://www.syracuseculturalworkers.com/products/postcard-protesting-inequality-at-us-centennial-1876

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower. All rights reserved.

Monday, May 3, 2021

The Royalest Book of Oz

The Royal Book of Oz was the first entry in the Oz book series written by Ruth Plumly Thompson, the writer who took over the Oz books after L. Frank Baum, creator of Oz, died. In an attempt to get readers to accept a new Oz author, the publisher slapped Baum's name on the book as author, despite Thompson's complete and original authorship of the text of The Royal Book of Oz.

Ruth Plumly Thompson went on to add eighteen more books to the official Oz series (as well as two unofficial Oz books, a slew of poems, a short story, and a play). Her authorship of The Royal Book of Oz has been public knowledge since the 1950s, and Thompson herself never tried to conceal the fact that she wrote the book, but some ignorant publishers continue to issue editions of The Royal Book of Oz that credit L. Frank Baum as author.

Clover Press is not one of those publishers and issued a new edition of The Royal Book of Oz about a year ago. One of Clover's reasons for the new edition was to proudly credit Ruth Plumly Thompson as author. But this new edition features much more than that.

Sara Richard newly illustrated the story in color. The new illustrations feature bold new designs of favorite Oz characters. The text has been slightly updated to eliminate several racially denigrating details. And I provided a brand new Afterword to illuminate the history of how Ruth Plumly Thompson was chosen to continue the Oz books and about the writing of The Royal Book of Oz.

You can order The Royal Book of Oz direct from Clover Press here: https://cloverpress.us/products/the-royal-book-of-oz

Ted Adams, publisher of Clover Press, has been an Oz fan since he was young. I know from talking with him that he'd be happy to publish more of Thompson's Oz books for a new generation--as long as this one sells well enough to make such a publishing program feasible. I'd like to see that happen, too.

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Betrayal in Color

John Dallaire, the Age of Bronze colorist, has been working hard coloring my black-and-white artwork for Age of Bronze: Betrayal Part One. The battle scenes, the crowd scenes, the embroidery on the Trojan costumes--it's all got to be colored. John follows the first two Age of Bronze volumes with the same quality work on the next volume.

I've approved a decent number of pages so far. And the book's getting to a state in which I'm approving pages at a faster pace. It's still not ready to be put on a publication schedule yet, but we'll get there eventually. And I'll let you know here when that time comes.

Until then, however, here's a sneak peek at a finished page of Betrayal Part One in color:


 Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower. All rights reserved.

Color copyright © 2021 John Dallaire. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Brinkley Broadcasts Anew

The play The Resistible Rise of J. R. Brinkley by Edward Einhorn debuted in New York City in October 2018 to rave reviews. Now you can listen to an audio performance of the play by podcast. Untitled Theater Company #61 presents it free for your listening pleasure on a variety of platforms. Choose your preference here: http://www.untitledtheater.com/previous-productions/resistible-rise-jr-brinkley.html

Why do I feature this podcast here on my blog? Because I was the scenic artist for the original live production. Clearly the podcast doesn't feature my art, but I think The Resistible Rise of J. R. Brinkley is a super play anyway and I'm glad to have been a part of it, so I recommend it to all of you reading this.

It tells the true story of a 1920s con man who touted the eating of goat testicles as a cure for impotence. That's right, read that previous sentence again if you have to. And people believed him! 

I've previously illustrated a couple of playwright and director Edward Einhorn's books (Paradox in Oz and The Living House of Oz) and a few of his short stories in the past. Edward and I have a project coming up in the future, too. We collaborated on a new Age of Bronze-related project that I'll announce here when it's ready for release. Hint: it's a new version of an old version of a sacrifice.

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Quadruple Your Oz Pleasure

Volume Two
Volume Three
Volumes Two and Three of Marvel Comics's Oz: The Complete Collection bring you loads of Ozzy fun and adventure.

Volume Two contains the full comics adaptations of Ozma of Oz and Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. 

Volume Three contains the full comics adaptations of The Road to Oz and The Emerald City of Oz.

I adapted the scripts from L. Frank Baum's classic children's book series. Skottie Young drew all the artwork. Jean-Francois Beaulieu colored it all. And Jeff Eckleberry lettered it all. These four stories were previously published as comic book series and as single volume graphic novels. Oz: The Complete Collection brings you two stories per volume.

Volume One of Oz: The Complete Collection is also still available. I posted about it earlier here.

While Ozma of Oz is perhaps my favorite of L. Frank Baum's Oz books, I want to say that I loved Skottie's and my adaptation of Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, the fourth Oz book. While it was the first of our adaptations to not become a best-seller, I felt Skottie brought a renewed energy to the art and to the bizarre and menacing characters that infest the story. Baum wrote an unsettling, surreal journey featuring vegetable people who walk on air and live in a city of glass, a land of invisible killer bears, and silent wooden gargoyles with detachable wings. The creepy weirdness just doesn't stop till Dorothy and friends reach the Emerald City, where all the old familiar Oz weirdos conduct a ridiculous murder trial. Does that sound too odd, even for Oz? Well, you can see it all in glorious full color in Volume Two of Oz: The Complete Collection.

Skottie Young cuts loose with the character design in The Road to Oz, particularly at Ozma's spectacular birthday party. I love Skottie's version of Polychrome, the Rainbow's Daughter. We stopped with the sixth book, The Emerald City of Oz. If any spot was a logical place to stop adapting the Oz books (if one isn't going to adapt all forty), that one's it. But I still wish we'd been able to continue beyond six books. 

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Remembering the Mushroom Planet

At eight years old I read for the first time Eleanor Cameron's 1954 science fiction children's book The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet. The book drew me in as only the best books can. I wanted to be one of the characters and go on that wonderful space flight. And while I read the book, that's who I was and what I was doing.

Afterward, I read the sequels, though none of them manages to capture the power or produce the intense longing of the first book. In fact, though I tried as a child, I couldn't get all the way through the final book in the series, Time and Mr. Bass. That had to wait until I was an adult.

Through a mutual friend, I met Eleanor Cameron for the first time in 1985 at an Oz convention. Though she wasn't particularly an Oz fan, our mutual friend was, and she lived in the next town from the convention facility.

I went to her house only once, after both she and her son
David, the model for the hero of the Mushroom Planet series, died. Our mutual friend as David's executor took me and my partner there to a meeting with Eleanor's executor and to help clean out some of her final belongings still remaining in the house.

Eleanor's papers went to the Kerlan Collection, the University of Minnesota's children's literature branch. Those papers included a sixth Mushroom Planet manuscript. The mutual friend arranged for me to read a copy of this manuscript with the intention of determining whether I could shape it for publication. And if so, I would get the job of illustrating it, too.

I was excited, hopeful, and a little intimidated.

I plowed through the entire published series once again, then read the unpublished manuscript. Parts of it are delightful. But my overall reaction was disappointment. Even granting a twenty-five year gap since the previous Mushroom Planet book, I found some of Eleanor's choices confusing, even troubling. For instance, aspects of the manuscript indicate that the action takes place shortly following the final book in the series, which would be during the 1960s. But the manuscript also contains contemporary mid-1990s references, such as a mention of CNN. Eleanor left a list of notes addressing problems with the manuscript. She clearly recognized some of the manuscript's deficiencies, including the confused time period, but many of her notes don't even hint at possible solutions or suggestions for revisions.

In my opinion, the story needed re-thinking, re-shaping, a tremendous amount of foundational work before it might be brought into shape as a worthy addition to Cameron's Mushroom Planet series. I didn't feel competent to perform that work. In my opinion, someone far more in tune with Eleanor Cameron's creative thinking should be the one to do it, if, indeed, such work could ever be done by someone not Eleanor herself. So that was that.

A few years ago, I received an e-mail out of the blue from Paul V. Allen, then working on a biography of Eleanor Cameron. He'd run across a comment I'd written online. Mari Ness on her tor.com blog posted her delightful analyses of the Mushroom Planet books. There I'd mentioned some of my interactions with Eleanor and her work. For Paul I expanded on that info and put him in contact with the mutual friend who'd facilitated my meeting Eleanor in the first place.

Then I pretty much forgot about Paul's Cameron biography.

A few years later I got an e-mail from Paul announcing the book: Eleanor Cameron: Dimensions of Amazement. It's a well-put-together, readable biography. Eleanor Cameron gave children's literature far more than just the Mushroom Planet books, although Wonderful Flight still holds a special place, not just in my reading history, but in the memories of many readers.

The biography delves into Cameron's philosophy as a writer. She held definite ideas about writing for children. She practiced those ideas in her own projects and spoke out on them, too, famously criticizing Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a book that gave my childhood a similar sort of immersive experience as had Wonderful Flight.

 Paul V. Allen mentions me in the course of the biography. I find that slightly embarrassing. I feel like such a minuscule part of Cameron's life, the tiniest of endnotes at most. Still, I'm happy to be included as a part of the life of Eleanor Cameron. What I've enjoyed the most about the book, though, is learning more background about the Mushroom Planet series.

If you've ever enjoyed any of Eleanor Cameron's books--any of the Mushroom Planet series, the Julia Redfern series, or books such as A Spell is Cast and The Terrible Churnadryne--you would probably enjoy Eleanor Cameron: Dimensions of Amazement by Paul V. Allen. You can order it directly from the publisher, University of Mississippi Press, at this link:

https://www.upress.state.ms.us/Books/E/Eleanor-Cameron

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Casper's Epic Adventure in Space

The four issues of the new series Casper's Spooksville contain a continuing story. Casper the Friendly Ghost and his friends--Spooky the Tuff Little Ghost, Wendy the Good Little Witch, and Hot Stuff the Little Devil--journey to another solar system on a planet-hopping adventure.

Mike Wolfer wrote it and I drew it. American Mythology published it.

In all, I drew the exploits of Casper and his friends of the Enchanted Forest for three and a half years. That phase of my career ended when American Mythology chose not to renew the Casper license for Casper due to disappointing sales.

Drawing Mike Wolfer's scripts always gave me pleasure. He managed to re-capture the right tone of the old Harvey Comics Casper in the character's heyday without being slavishly imitative.

I tried my best to capture the look of those comics, attempting to channel the essences of cartoonists Warren Kremer and Howard Post. My attempts stumbled at times when I started, but I got closer the more Casper stories I drew.

When the Casper Spooksville series began as sort of a capper to American Mythology's Casper run--kind of our attempt to go out with a bang--Mike asked me if I had any ideas for stories. Back in Casper's original Harvey Comics series, the character regularly had adventures with aliens or ventured into outer space. For awhile one Harvey series was titled Casper Spaceship (later changing to Casper in Space).

I suggested to Mike that we continue that tradition by sending Casper and his friends on a space adventure. Mike asked me what I thought such a story might be like. I scribbled down a few ideas, formed them into something more coherent, and sent it to Mike. He used some of it as a framework for the grand space adventure that resulted.

One thing I realized while drawing a long, multi-part story featuring Casper, Spooky, Wendy, and Hot Stuff: to be careful when drawing all four as a group. I needed to make sure the two white characters weren't next to each other and make sure the two red characters weren't next to each other, in order to keep them all clearly separated when the story was printed in color.

In addition to the main storyline in each issue, I drew a short 5-page back-up story for each, also written by Mike Wolfer. These back-ups stand alone, though they're loosely connected.

The first back-up story features Hot Stuff the Little Devil and the mischievous Spook-cats, a couple of old single-appearance Harvey Comics characters that Mike resurrected.

The second issue features a back-up starring Wendy the Good Little Witch and the Witch Widow, another old single-appearance character Mike brought back. Instead of a broom, the Witch Widow rode a 1950s-style vacuum cleaner. I updated the vacuum cleaner's look for the new story.

The third issue features Hot Stuff again, this time exploring an ancient Egyptian tomb, and brings back another old character, this one from the 1970s, Cinders the girl devil.

The fourth and final issue features a contest between Hot Stuff and the Spook-cats. Every major character and some minor characters from Casper's supporting cast show up, including Nightmare the Galloping Ghost, the Ghostly Trio, Dumbella, Pearl, the Witch Sisters--even Gnorm Gnome. Just about the only character I didn't manage to fit in was Stumbo the Giant. You can see the original art for page one of this story below.

I'm proud of the Casper Spooksville series. Issues are still available to order here from American Mythology. And you can read it here digitally through Comixology. I hope readers enjoy it.

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Shakespeare in Troy

I entered a portion of Age of Bronze in the Third Graphic Shakespeare Competition, which honors comics adaptations of William Shakespeare's works. When I first heard about this competition, I didn't plan to enter it. I sent an e-mail about it to Nicole Galland, an author I'd met at the Key West Literary Seminar in January 2019. Nicki is a Shakespeare expert and once ran by me the idea of collaborating on Shakespeare comics adaptations. I didn't take her up on that, but thought she might be interested in this Shakespeare comics competition.

She didn't plan to enter, but asked whether I planned to. When I told her "no," she suggested I enter some of the Troilus and Cressida material that I'd adapted from Shakespeare into Age of Bronze.

At first I decided my use of Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida transformed the material too radically and incorporated material from too many non-Shakespeare sources to really be called a Shakespeare adaptation. But the rules for the competition didn't specify a rigid adherence to Shakespeare's words. According to the rules, any sort of comics adaptation seemed eligible. In fact, the rules went so far as to specify the eligibility of adaptations using none of Shakespeare's words.

The maximum length for entries was eight pages. I looked over my Age of Bronze scenes featuring Troilus and Cressida's separation and correlated them with scenes from Shakespeare's play. I was surprised to find that I hadn't strayed as far from Shakespeare as I thought I had. I selected some pages, cropped a few panels to fit within the proper length for the competition and sent them in.

After that, I didn't think about the competition for a while. For several reasons, I figured I didn't have much chance of winning. I suspected that calling my work an "adaptation" of Shakespeare stretched the point. Past winners of the competition seemed much more experimental in their cartooning that I usually am in Age of Bronze. And my entry wasn't in color, while past winners made beautiful use of color.

To my surprise I received an e-mail months later informing me that my entry had been chosen as one of the runners up in the "creators over 25" category. I was surprised, to say the least. I was also delighted.

Here are all the awardees:

Over 25 years old category:

Winner:

Edouard Lekston, "Harry and Jack": King Henry IV, Part 1 (Act 2, Scene 4)

Runners Up:

Eric Shanower, "Troilus and Cressida"

Kathryn Briggs, "Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 5"

The 15 to 25 years old category:

Winner:

Naz Baquiran, "Wicked Encounter"

Runners Up:

Annie Holley, "Two Blushing Pilgrims"

Boglarka Littner, "Nostalgia"

The judges were: Paul Gravett, Fionnuala Doran, Harumo Sanazaki, Hu Rong, Jang Hyun Nam, and Ronan Paterson.

One of my pages. Click to enlarge.
The whole shebang was run by Yukari Yoshihara, who did an excellent job in my opinion.

The awards were announced in November 2020 at the 4th Conference of the Asian Shakespeare Association in Seoul, Korea. That was so far away from me that, even if Covid hadn't taken possession of the planet, I had no plans to attend. However, I sent in a short video accepting as a runner up. I thanked Yukari Yoshihara and the judges--as well as Nicki Galland for prompting me to enter in the first place.

The competition published a beautiful, full-color booklet featuring all the winners. You can read the whole book here: http://asianshakespeare.org/2020/11/02/graphic-shakespeare-competition-3/

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Savagery

Back in the late 1960s, cartoonist Gil Kane created the international spy thriller His Name is . . . Savage! A few years ago I was approached to do a cover for a new His Name is . . . Savage! series. The project didn't have a publisher at the time, but eventually, over a year ago, Paper Movies released it.

Although I was told that the project found a publisher, no one told me when it came out. And I've never actually seen it. I did the cover I was contracted for, and was pretty proud of it (below right). But now that I'm trying to catch up on posts detailing recent (and not-so-recent) projects, I thought I ought to mention this Savage project.

I found it for sale online, but it looks as if it was published only in the graphic novel format, not as a comics book series. You can see the published cover to the left. Unfortunately, the book doesn't include my cover. So I've included it here, on the right.

This recent iteration of Kane's His Name is . . . Savage! boasts a script by Steven Grant and art by Jesus Antonio Hernandez Portaveritas. I read the whole project as background for creating my cover, and I really liked it. I've long admired Steven Grant's comics stories. This one thrills as much as his work has ever done. So I'm disappointed the book doesn't even print my cover in a gallery of covers in the back of the book. I mean, they paid me for it AND the book has a blank page at the end.

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower. All rights reserved.



Monday, March 8, 2021

Classic Comedy Teams

Which classic movie comedy team do you like better? Laurel and Hardy? Or the Three Stooges?

Well, you don't have to choose in Laurel and Hardy Meet the Three Stooges #1 from American Mythology. I drew the cover for this mash-up of these screwballs.

That's not the only cover I've drawn for either of these comedy teams. How about Laurel and Hardy's Christmas Follies #1? And then there's The Three Stooges Thru the Ages #1.

Cover art has never been my strong point. I think I'm far better at panel-to-panel story-telling than I am at creating splashy single images. But I've had fun drawing these. On the whole I like the way they turned out, particularly the first two. The stylization the colorist introduced into the Christmas image was a pleasant surprise.

The Stooges covers don't end here. I've drawn several more since these issues were published. They've got a couple special twists to them. One twist is that they're all parodies of well-know super-hero comic book covers. I'll show them to you when they're published.

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower. All rights reserved.



 

Monday, March 1, 2021

Amateur Status

I haven't posted any news in a while. Stuff has been piling up to announce. Within the next several weeks or so, I plan to post about a backlog of projects and announce upcoming projects, too.

I drew a few jobs for Shelly Bond when she was an editor at DC under that publisher's Vertigo imprint. More recently Shelly became an editor at IDW. Hey, Amateur! is the result of her idea for a wide range of cartoonists, who happen to also be experts in a variety of disciplines, to pass on their specialized knowledge in a collection of single-page comics stories.

Shelly asked me to contribute. I wracked my brain to come up with something to communicate that seemed visual (it would be a comics story, after all) and that I could write about with some modicum of authority. Most of my life has been dedicated to writing and drawing. I don't think I'm particularly limited in my experiences outside of those creative efforts, but I wasn't sure I could speak with as an expert about much.

One panel from my story.
I threw a few ideas at Shelly. She picked "How to Perform an En Dehors Pirouette."

I'm no dance expert, but it's one of my hobbies. So that was it. My story for Hey, Amateur! explains in detail the pirouette "to the outside."

The book also explains how to accomplish approximately twelve dozen other tasks, such as decorating a cake, keeping a band together forever, making a proper cup of tea, and surviving in the woods with a knife and a rabbit. All these concepts are detailed and drawn by "your favorite" cartoonists, including Michael Allred, Gene Ha, Peter Bagge, Paul Pope, Simon Bisley--the list goes on.


Hey, Amateur!
is published by Black Crown and distributed by IDW and Penguin Random House.

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower. All rights reserved.