Cover to Cover: From Russia With Love

Posted: March 29th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | No Comments »

I’ve always been a fan of tattoo-style art, but I have to admit the artwork for this edition of From Russia With Love tweaks a very specific kind of nostalgia for me — it totally reminds me of the kind of stuff I would see my cholo buddies sketching on their notebooks in high school.

This isn’t to disparage Chris Garver, the tattoo artist who drew the images for this cover as part of the Penguin Ink Series celebrating the publisher’s 75th anniversary. I don’t think I would necessarily want this punched into my skin for the rest of my life, but it’s also a pretty striking design that gives ol’ James Bond a sharper, more modern edge. Until Daniel Craig took over in the film role, the character was getting a little stuffy and dated; I can’t help thinking Penguin was taking a shot at what the movies were doing, bringing James Bond into the grittier and less genteel world we live in (on the surface, at least).

This edition went to press just a couple of years ago, and I’m happy to see it as a possible trend of “alternative” artists being tapped for more mainstream design. (I hope it’s a trend — Penguin also printed The Portable Dorothy Parker with a great cover by Seth, and I know I’ve seen others, though I can’t remember what the hell they were.) And while most of the people who provided work for the series are tattoo artists, I was glad to see someone snuck in poster and comic artist Tara McPherson in there, too.

But like I said, I could look at good tattoo work all day long. And now that I think about it, that back cover would make a nice one … hmmm …


From Russia With Love
Cover art: Chris Garver
2010 edition (Penguin Books)

It’s Kalimánday! Make way for … Makón!

Posted: March 26th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | 1 Comment »

When we last saw our friend Kalimán in the comic pages, he and his newly acquired orphan/ward Solín were traveling through Egypt, beating up Bedouins, getting shot at and choking cobras at their leisure. (That’s not a euphemism — this ain’t an early Batman comic.) Since then … well, a lot has happened so let’s sum it up.

Kalimán, taking some time out from dispensing justice in the Egyptian desert, has visited his friend and archaeologist Professor Farrel. Farrel is on the verge of making a major discovery concerning the Tombs of Ramés, and has been getting unwelcome attention because of it. Joined by his daughter Jane and his protege Zarur (who is originally from the area), the professor asks Kalimán for help, which is a good thing since Jane is promptly kidnapped.

Jane isn’t even the first victim; Nila, who is the daughter of Alí Faruf — King of the Sons of the Desert — has already been kidnapped by the sinister Eric Von Kraufen, who is hiding out in a pyramid chock full of ghouls, zombies and assorted Things-That-Are-Not-Good-For-You. There may have been a pit full of crocodiles. Nila is also the (so far secret) promised bride of Zarur going back to an arrangement made when the two were still children. The hot-headed Zarur loves Nila, and is determined to save her from Von Kraufen.

When he’s not busy polishing his +3 Monocle of Evil, Von Kraufen is the one harassing Professor Farrel, believing the archaeologist can get him into the Tomb of Ramés. The tomb will give Von Kraufen access to treasure and power and even more treasure and power, and then he can really start messing things up! Mwa-hahaha!!!

Eventually, Kalimán and his group rescue Jane, then make their way into the pyramid lair where they start running into one horrific creature after another. None, however, make an entrance quite like … Makón!

Caption: Suddenly …
Prof. Farrel: It’s Jane, my daughter …!
Kalimán: Let’s go that way!


Jane! What’s the matter?


Jane: Oh, Kalimán …! Ah! A spectre!


From Kalimán: El Hombre Increíble #5
“Los Profanadores de Tumbas”

Spider-Man vs the Blue Plate Special

Posted: March 21st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | 2 Comments »

Yes, I know my camera phone sucks.


When I was a kid, I had four favorite superheroes — Superman, the Hulk, Flash and, naturally, Spider-Man. I can’t remember when exactly I was introduced to Peter Parker and his stringy, springy alter-ego, but I know he was everywhere, and I absorbed it all. From the iconic cartoon (and its mind-blowing theme song) and his silent appearances on The Electric Company, to the infamous live-action show and his animated adventures with some Amazing Friends, Spider-Man was a web-slinging constant in my life.

A lot of people make a point of pegging Spider-Man as one of the first comic book characters with a “real life,” and rightfully so. Part of the reason Peter was relatable to so many readers was his being a picked-upon nerd, having a touch-and-go love life, and very often wondering how he was going to make rent that month. Minus the proportionate strength of a spider, we’ve all been there.

But that’s never been the most appealing aspect of Spider-Man to me. As a shy kid who had trouble talking to people, I most admired how funny Spider-Man could be once he put on the mask, how much fun he was having beating up the bad guys and cracking wise. Sure, tragedy was a big part of what made the title legendary, but for my money Peter’s ability to overcome that tragedy with optimism and humor is what made him human. That humanity made Spidey the best kind of hero.

And if was still I kid, I would have gone Rhino on someone to get that Spider-Man balloon.

Found in the entryway of The Frisco Shop (Austin, TX)

Calling in sick

Posted: March 8th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | No Comments »

Well, it’s not the flu, but I did catch a cold that knocked me right on my ass and this blog right off schedule. The Ick That Walks Like a Man seems to be on its way out, though, so posts should be back starting Monday.

That’s assuming I don’t end up with ebola or spattergroit or — God help us all — disco fever.