Texas natives have a reputation of maintaining strong work ethics, and this holds true with the talented comic book artists and writers residing in all corners of the state. Here’s a brief look at two Texas artists who are definitely worth looking out for in the future:
Among the Hills:
Texas Hill Country artist Scott Zirkel has been “making stuff up since 1977” and his sense of stylized humor flows through his work, including his original comic book “He-Guy and the Guys of the Universe” as well as his writing talents to Viper Comics’ graphic novel “A Bit Haywire” and Arcana Comics’ “Wonderdog, Inc.” Zirkel has also contributed to graphic novel compilations by both Viper Comics and Penny Farthing Press.
He has contributed sketch cards to such sets as “Empire Strikes Back 3D,” and “Indiana Jones Masterpieces,” “Zombies vs. Cheerleaders” and “Hack/Slash,” just to name a few.
Zirkel’s work and wit reflect the artists who have influenced him through the years.
“I’ve always been drawn to the more animated styles,” he said. “The artists that have inspired me the most are Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Bruce Timm, Bil Amend, Gary Larson, and Mike Kunkel.”
He finds himself comfortable working in both the world of pop culture and fantasy, and with commissioned portraits for “real” people. He has different reasons why he enjoys working with each.
“I like the fictional characters because I can show my own versions of those characters, but I enjoy the ‘real’ people because I enjoy the challenge of trying to capture the likeness of the person,” he said. “I don’t know that I’d say I have a favorite, it just depends on what mood I’m in when I put the pencil to the paper.”
Zirkel maintains a diverse workload ranging from commercial graphic arts work with The Alara Group of Kerrville to his comics and illustrations. He said he tries to keep his graphic arts as professional and straightforward as possible, separate from his work in comics. As such the audience between the two is fairly diverse. His comics audience in itself makes up a diverse group, particularly as he offers something all ages can appreciate.
“For the comics, I generally produce all-ages materials. I don’t have any books that would be considered PG-13 or R,” Zirkel said. “I do have some art books that are more risqué, but I don’t have those in stores, just at conventions and online.”
He said his book “A Bit Haywire,” (featuring art by Courtney Huddleston) seems to receive the greatest feedback from readers of all ages.
“Kids and adults alike have enjoyed it and it’s been really fun to hear from them over the years,” he said.
See more of Zirkel’s art and writing at scottzirkel.com.
Along the River: Andy Perez
El Paso artist Andy Perez has taken his West Texas hometown’s cultural uniqueness and infused it into his prints, comics and other works with impressive results.
Perez is best known as co-creator and illustrator for the indie comics “Lonely in Black” and “The Afterlife Chronicles of a Zombie,” but he has contributed digital color work and art, sequential art, sidewalk chalk art creations and pin-ups for titles for several projects. His art has even been featured in the San Diego Comic Con Souvenir Book, and he has created sketch cards for “Hack and Slash,” “Lady Death,” and “Painkiller Jane.”
Perez said having picked up a pencil as a kid and “never putting it down to this day,” his list of influential artists is long and still growing.
“My early work was driven by rad comic artists such as Jim Lee and J. Scott Campbell because comics were my first introduction to art,” he said. “Fast forwarding to more recent years, the art beats of Jim Mahfood, the awesomely gritty art of Ben Templesmith, the cheesecake eye candy from Adam Hughes, the beautifully colorful art of Tara McPherson and the storytelling imagery from a James Jean piece all lend something to my work as an artist.”
He said two works in particular have really struck a positive chord with people of all backgrounds: the dreamlike black-and white portrait, “BOOM!” and the Day of the Dead-inspired “Dia de la Page.” He said both pieces have not only been a big success with the comic con goers, but have made the successful crossover into other venues as art showpieces, not an easy feat for any work of art, he admits.
“With ‘BOOM!’ people have noted that they have enjoyed getting lost in the calmness and flow the piece offers along with the colorful idea of having music follow you as balloons,” Perez said. “‘Dia de la Page’ has been a great conversation piece for those that are unfamiliar with the culturally rich Dia de Los Muertos or the pin up queen Betty Page.”
As one of a growing number of El Paso artists working to make his mark outside the region, he hopes his work will help comic readers and collectors, and art lovers in general, see how diverse and trendsetting the Sun City’s artists can be.
“I think the misconception is that it’s all southwest art with landscape paintings, which it really isn’t,” Perez said. “It’s been very exciting for me to see my hometown energetically jam art and creatively raise the bar artistically in so many mediums.”
See more of Perez’s work at artedeandyperez.com.
Lisa Kay Tate
Staff writer and resident ihogeekmom
I haven’t done one of these in a bit.
I’d like to share what seems to me to be a very tortured artist who perfectly captures the inertia of catapulting oneself through harsh memories mixed with vague nothings that we see from our peripheral vision. He goes by the name NegativeFeedback on DeviantArt and you can see all of his work by clicking here.
AT&T U-Verse messed up our internet and cable for the past few weeks so to repay us they 1) fixed the problem and 2) Gave us free premium channels for three months. This means I have HBO now, which gives me access to HBO Go, which gives me access to Game of Thrones Season 3, which gives me access to sleepless nights, which gives me access to strange dreams of Tyrion telling me the purpose of life. Or.. some of those.
I watched episode 1, “Valar Doeharis” last night and while it certainly wasn’t the most exciting episode it did give me some time to reacquaint myself with the characters and it moved the story forward. Tyrion’s plea before his father was easily the most compelling acting of the episode and it’s good to see Peter Dinklage continue to kill it any time he is on camera.
The best visual pieces of the episode came from Daenarys. From an assassination attempt by a creepy ass kid to an army of 8,000 heartless bad asses to dragons, dragons, dragons, dragons, omg dragons, dragons…. I forgot my point.
Episode 2, “Dark Wings, Dark Words“, introduced several new factions including The Brotherhood without Banners and some weird people torturing Theon Greyjoy.
Jaime Lannister provided the action with an ill attempted sword fight against Brienne and Bran is a warg. Cool.
The subtle bit where Margaery Tyrell takes the information that Sansa tells them about Joffrey being a monster and uses it to her advantage was excellent and also very creepy. She’s so clever it’s a bit disturbing.
So far this season is playing its cards rather close to the vest, but I already know that crazy shit goes down in episode 9. Hopefully the episodes until then continue to up the drama and the action while giving the characters some clearer intentions.
It’s been about two years (count em, two years folks) since DC Comics decided to reboot their universe, causing a wave of changes to their superhero families and their status quo. The Batfamily was hit rather strongly with change. Perhaps (not surprisingly) the female members were changed the most and or dispatched of; Barbara Gordon is cured from her lower body paralysis and is Batgirl again, both Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain were wiped away from canon along with Charlie, otherwise known as the heroine Misfit as well as Helena Bertinelli who whilst she was a real person, is now dead and was (most likely) never Huntress. Tim Drake’s personal history was rebuilt from the ground up with rather disastrous results. Dick Grayson has returned back to the Nightwing mantle after a stint as a second Batman. Damian kept his mantle as Robin, that is until this past February when Grant Morrison, his creator, seemingly killed the (chronologically in former main canon) young 5th Robin in the pages of Batman Incorporated.
A lot of fans, well…they’re not liking this entire situation and the route DC has taken their favorites characters in the Batfamily. Even nearly two years later. And the whole “If you don’t like it, why don’t you do it yourself?” reaction from those who don’t mind the new changes and status quo in response to said naysayers? Well, people who are unsatisfied are doing just that and taking some of the closing lines from Stephanie Brown’s Batgirl run; ” It’s only the end if you want it to be” to heart. Whether out of frustration or just pure love for the characters fans are teaming up with their friends and other artists and are taking writing and presenting these characters into their own hands. And it’s not just fanart. Full fancomics and fan series.
I should know, I’m one of those fans doing just that.
I myself write (when not writing for you readers among other secret writerly things ) an ongoing AU fancomic series Batgirl Incorporated with artist Yu Lyn Chen. It stands as a stand-alone universe centered around the female members of the Batfamily presented through an actiony Saturday morning cartoon and retro-anime lens with a sci-fi bent that is intended to be more fun and somewhat more adolescent appropriate and kid-friendly as opposed to the new Batman line (barring the digital Li’l Gotham) which is rather dark and grim, in particular the quite somber Batgirl title.
My own comic launched officially last December and we are currently wrapping up the last leg of Chapter I, posting about a page or two a week. Our site also features a concept art open submission requests to help foster aspiring artists skills and to help build their portfolios. We also feature guest comic strips, including my own collaboration with Mexican comic artist Vicente Rico, whose work everyone should keep an eye on. Our collaboration,” It’s only the end IF you want it to be” are our one-shots starring Stephanie Brown Batgirl set in the pre-reboot world. Our second strip in the series, specifically for summer is currently being done.
Enough of my own stuff, as there are even more impressive work out there and the thing I wanted to feature the most is JunioR a second Bat-themed comic that centers around a still living Damian Wayne, his friends and family (especially him and animals) that is an absolute must read and my top recommendation for everyone this week even if you are not a fancomic fan you should check this one out; it’s good stuff. Sensitive, well balanced and artful these are little comics worth sharing and easy to catch up on.
A comic all about Damian? Really too good to be true. Another plus? Oh god the comic is gorgeous. With art rivaling if not better than what DC has on their own titles, this little comic is a treat to look at each month, which they have impressively delivered a full short comic each month since their launch in March, reaching a lot of attention on tumblr. Speaking of which, the next issue features Stephanie Brown!
The comic takes place in a pre-reboot DC canon. Stephanie Brown is still Batgirl. Nightwing is still in blue. But the stories are softer. More kid friendly. Short monthly touching, funny little stories that are really easy to catch up on. From the words of the creators Vivien Gallasch, Pamela Lovas, Wave & Megan Butler ;
[JunioR is] dedicated to the character of Damian Wayne and his numerous family members, friends, and pets. It’s quite a simple concept. Every month we will publish a short comic with focus on Damian and one other character. The current release schedule is the first Saturday of every month.
We do this because we feel like there are many more stories about Damian to tell, and because there should be a place for lighter and gentler stories. We want to tell these stories and want to share them with the fans.
I am noticing a trend; people who are wanting to do their own series and comics seem to want softer or at the least more fun or balanced stories featuring their favorite superheroes. They want things perhaps younger people can read (god forbid a kid can read about the same character that’s on their shoes or bedsheets). This plays into what I’ve been saying about children’s media the past few weeks as well; comics in particular are unsyncronized with their own merchandise and demographics. Don’t you think that’s a bit crazy? Should we be paying more attention to that?
I know of a third Batfamily series also in development, this one featuring their take on a team featuring Jason Todd and Cassandra Cain as Blackbat and I can’t wait to see that develop and launch.
Do you read JunioR or Batgirl Inc? I personally would love to know what you think of people taking the Batfamily into their own hands both as a reporter, and as a writer of one of said series.
Staff Writer/The Doctor
If you haven’t stumbled upon the corner of the internet that houses the Pokemon Fusion Generator, I’m so glad to be the first to tell you that if you ever wondered what would really happen if Mr. Mime and an Arbok got it on, there is finally a scientifically produced answer:
Horrifying? Adorable? Yes. Yes.
The fusion generator lets you combine any of the 1st generation pokemon, so you can’t see what the abomination of a nosepass/wailord child would look like yet. The best bit is that the artists of cyberspace rallied to the call of adapting these strange misfortunate and pixely creatures in to even more disturbing images.
Warning: anything involving a Cloyster is horrifying.