In a dark corner of the multiverse exists a place known as RED EARTH, a derranged long forgotten planet once known as Earth. There, the lone survivors of this now dead world play dangerous depraved death games in a mobile stadium, a diabolical wonder of a long forgotten era now referred to as "Bye Bye World". The strange name comes from an event in which millions of people purposely entered a stadium to die and therefore in a way; say "bye bye to the world". During this event DINA appeared asa young slave thrown into the "mouth of the beast" to be slaughteredby monstrous gladiators that fought in the arena for years. Dina plays the innocent damsel in distress but she soon discovered thatshe's some sort of immortal being able to regenerate from any type of wound.
For years she wondered through Red Earth's desolatelandscape, pretending to bedifferent people and dying over and over again.Dina is later discovered by BoBo,a guard in Bye Bye World at the time. Both elaborated a plan to take down the evil Master Lords of Red Earthand liberate all slaves on this desolated planet. During this period Dina masqueraded herself as "The Ripper" to hide her abilities from The Lords while taking them down one by one. This takes them a long time until they finally reach LordKranus's home, theLeader of all Lords. There she's confronted by a mystery that'd been tormenting her since the day she and BoBo discovered her abilities. She had no memories previous to meeting BoBo so she constantly wondered:"Am I the only one?", "Are there others like me?", "What are they?", "What was their purpose?"
There were many theories on how she'd been a tech slave in a previous era, a super soldier weapon in a long forgotten war, and how BoBo met Dr. Albandor on Lord Kranus' lair, Dr. Albandor wasa strange man who seemed veryinterested in Dina since they meet at Kranus' Castle in the forgotten lands. During this time, Dina discovered an old data storage nod which (once activated) makes Dina go on a rampage; becoming extremely aggressive and brutal. It's the good old Doctor who manages to disconnect the device from Dina and return her to her normal self,this encouraged the notion that Dina is a biological weapon created in a more resent era and so; Dina accepts this notion for a few months. But it's the Doctor who relates the tale of the legendary QUEEN, a woman who ruled Earth millions of centuries before Dina's time, explaining to them how the Earth fell and the Queen left the planet; taking with her the best humanity had to offer. The Queen then began building her empire in the stars, leaving behind the decadence and the uninvolved to rot and die in this desolate wasteland of a planet; and how her return would bring a new golden age to humanity. He focuses on Dina, encouraging her to evolve; but at the same time trying to control and manipulate her emotions and decisions. Later, hey discovered that he's the one who programmed the data nod to prorogued in Dina those strong emotions and test exactly how powerful she truly was. Afterwards, Dina and BoBo became lost all trust in the Doctor and his real intentions.
It wasn't long after those events that one of Lord Kranus "parties" where Dina was the main event, a strange female creature appears. Dr. Albandor is surprisingly agitated by this development and calls the creature a "DHARMAX". After he described it as an old "Huovian"*. During this situation the creature approached Dina who's ready to battle the creature, even though this creature has already decimated all of Lord Kranus's entiretroops by now in a brutal yet quick and efficient fashion. But to everybody'ssurprise, the creature takes but one look at Dinaand leaves her alone focusing then on Dr. Albandor who barely managed to escape from the creature. After loosing it's prey, Dharmax is confrontedby Dina but leaves the scene in a flash of energy leaving Dina, BoBo and the good doctor wondering; why did thatcreature was there to begin with? This accelerated theDr.'s agenda forcing his hand to reveal Dina's true origin. He then confesses to Dina that he's "in some way" her father, creating her from a long lostforgotten sample of the royal blood; a sample of thequeen herself!!!
*Imperial warrior, a very dangerous creature who's only mission is to policy Huovian Khayss* and/or citizens of the empire from interfering in the affairs of less advanced civilizations in lower less advanced realms of the multiverse.
After this reveal, Dina began to explore and found out that her predecessor is a mysterious woman only referred to as "Dakueen", a military rank given by the leader of the Aztrals, followers of the ideology known as Boom Aztral in the first century of the new age of rebirth; right after The Age of Chaos in the last century of the Old Age*.
*It's said that this is what she read about, it's never been said exactly what information records provided by Dr. Albandor contained beyond the fact that the leader was referred to as "Dakueen" and some images depicting her. After her travel to the beginning of time through the Null Point Corridor,setting the timeline and the bloodline straight once again**. All she read was reset again, and a whole new universe was born... or was it? Dina's copy of TheBook of Aztral (sacred records of the times of Boom Aztral) was billions of years old, now the future of humanity is uncertain as we just witnessed the birth of the age of BOOM BOOM AZTRAL.
**As seen on the last episode of BBW: "BLOODLINES".
Boom Boom Aztral is created, copyright and owned by Rigz "Scorp" Jimenez.
To answer this question I need to talk about how I came to know about indie comics in the first place. I've always been a superhero fan, be it on TV, movies, toys... you name it; indie comics weren't on my radar. Even when I first started collecting comic books, I initially bought Wolvernie, Batman and a few other random DC and Marvel books. Fast forward to the early nineties, a little indie comic is published and it promises to change the industry forever; that little comic was Spawn! Spawn #1 was my introduction to indie comics... and I've never looked back since! I followed Todd McFarlane's Spawn for one hundred consecutive issues and I loved every single one. But, while Spawn was my first; it most certainly wasn't my last indie book. There were many, many, many, many others and funny enough; they were mostly from Image Comics!
In between issues of Spawn I found other amazing independent titles such as Sam Keith's The Maxx, Dale Keown's Pitt, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Rob Liefield's Youngblood, Jim Lee's Wildcats and many others. Then came two of Marc Silvestri's creations: Witchblade and The Darkness! After that, the second wave of Image came to be... Cliffhanger! Three of the hottest and most talented comics creators in the history if the medium put their talents and efforts together to form an imprint that created a buzz not yet seen since the birth of Image Comics back in 92'.
These three young superstars wanted to take advantage of their immense popularity to create their own respective universe filled with their very own creations, with which they could do whatever they wanted and have nobody to tell them what to do; they had the unlimited freedom the original Image Comics founders left Marvel for in the first place. And these kids came out the gate guns blazin with three properties that to this day have lasted the test of time, at least in my eyes and the eyes of the legions of fans who follow their work; these titles were: Humberto Ramos' Crimson, J. Scott Campbell's Danger Girl and Joe Madureira's Battle Chasers!
These three titles were a "must buy" for me throughout the entire run. To this day, there are very few books or series that I've enjoyed quite as much as I enjoy these three series. You can tell that these creators put their hearts and souls into their books... and it shows! After these came many more, titles like the late Michael Turner's Fathom, the late Mike Wieringo's Tellos, Eric Larsen's Sabage Dragon and many others. Besides Image Comics, there are a bunch of other indie comics I've read and/or collected throughout the years that it's be impossible for me to mention them all BUT... here are just a few of them: David Alvarez' Changuy, Reynaldo Leon's Dedo, Martin Gautier's Sato, Rangy Garcia's Saving Point, David Petterson's Mouse Guard, Todd McFarlane's Haunt, Alvaro Cortez' The Mighty Warlord, Corey Davis' Shadowclub Karma, Greg Capullo's The Creech and the list goes on and on and on...
Now to the original question: Why do I read indie comics? I read indie comics for various reasons, for example... indie comics are focused on the story rather than gauging the reader's pockets for every dime they got, very different than the gimmick based way of putting books out by the "big 2". Another reason is that 9 times out of 10, if a creator is working on something they know and love; they'll put out their best work possible because it's more than a paycheck for them. And last but not least, when you buy an indie comic trusting the vision of the creator(s) who've put their hearts and souls into this project, people who've put everything they had in order to bring you a story that's worth your hard earn money and most importantly; your time! That's a big difference from the "big 2" putting out 100 books a month, with mix and match creators who sometimes don't even want to work on the books; granted there are always exceptions to the rule but I'm speaking in general.
Comics today are nothing more than useless reboots, variant covers, gimmicks and pointless events that means nothing. All these thing so is cluttered the market with garbage that you can eventually find the the 50 cent bins. Granted, publishers do these things because fanboys keep buying the books but thankfully; i see more readers moving to indie comics everyday and it give me hope. In the words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr "I have a dream" that indie books become the backbone of this industry I love so much, 'I have a dream' of a world in which the "big 2" are no longer the "big 2" and indie books thrive, "I have a dream" that fans finally wake up and say to themselves we deserve better than these gimmicks the "big 2" have force fed us all these years; "I have a dream" that this day comes soon. This is why I read indie comics.
If Jack Kirby was alive and in his prime today, would his books sell and/or would he be relevant in the comic book world? Before we go in depth on my thoughts on this matter, I feel is extremely important to give everyone a brief history on who was Jack Kirby and why he's consider by everyone in the comic book field as the "king" of comics.
Jack Kirby (August 28, 1917 – February 6, 1994), born Jacob Kurtzberg, was an American comic book artist, writer and editor regarded by historians and fans as one of the major innovators and most influential creators in the comic book medium. Growing up poor in New York City, Kurtzberg entered the nascent comics industry in the 1930s. He drew various comics features under different pen names, including Jack Curtiss, ultimately settling on Jack Kirby. In 1940, he and writer-editor Joe Simon created the highly successful superhero character Captain America for Timely Comics, predecessor of Marvel Comics. During the 1940s, Kirby, generally teamed with Simon, created numerous characters for that company and for National Comics, the company that later became DC Comics.
After serving in World War II, Kirby returned to comics and worked in a variety of genres. He produced work for a number of publishers, including DC, Harvey Comics,Hillman Periodicals and Crestwood Publications, where he and Simon created the genre of romance comics. He and Simon also launched their own short-lived comic company, Mainline Publications. Kirby ultimately found himself at Timely's 1950s iteration, Atlas Comics, soon to become Marvel. There, in the 1960s, he and writer-editor Stan Lee co-created many of Marvel's major characters, including the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the Hulk. Despite the high sales and critical acclaim of the Lee-Kirby titles, however, Kirby felt treated unfairly, and left the company in 1970 for rival DC. There Kirby created his Fourth World saga, which spanned several comics titles. While these series proved commercially unsuccessful and were canceled, the Fourth World's New Gods have continued as a significant part of the DC Universe. Kirby returned to Marvel briefly in the mid-to-late 1970s, then ventured into television animation and independent comics. In his later years, Kirby, who has been called "the William Blake of comics", began receiving great recognition in the mainstream press for his career accomplishments, and in 1987 he was one of the three inaugural inductees of the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame. The Jack Kirby Awards and Jack Kirby Hall of Fame were named in his honor.
Recently, there have been conversations in a forum I frequent on a daily basis about the impact Jack Kirby would have, if any, if he was alive and in his prime in today's comics. Some comic book fans think that his books wouldn't sell and basically he wouldn't be relevant in any real way; to which I say thee nay! :) Now, if you look at Kirby's art for the first time it would be kind of jarring and off quilter, but to say that the books wouldn't sell or that the art in comics has gotten better... than Kirby's art, again... I SAY THEE NAY!!!
Let's look at the facts, Jack Kirby was, and still is to this day, the most creative person in the comic book world, and quite possibly any media. Look at the hundreds, if not thousands of characters, concepts and stories that he came up with, the amount of work he produced, the quality or his work, any way you look at it; he's known as the king for a reason. Another important fact that we cannot overlook is the amount of creators who've been directly influenced by Kirby. You can literally see and feel Kirby's influence in some of these creators' art style and they're some of the most respected professionals in the comics field today; to think that they're relevant, on top of their game and moving the comics world forward and think that Kirby wouldn't be relevant in today's comics is plain stupid.
Let's look at some of the creators who've been so heavily influenced by Jack Kirby shall we?
-Bruce Walter Timm (born on February 8, 1961) is an American character designer, animator and producer. He is also a writer and artist working in comics, and is known for his contributions building the modern DC Comics animated franchise, the DC animated universe. Timm is known primarily for his work in animation, his first ambition was to become a comic-book artist. Although this dream did not materialize, leading him to a life in animation, nevertheless produced several one-shots and miniseries, mostly for DC Comics. In the 1980s, he made some mini-comics for Masters Of The Universe.In 1994, Timm and writer Paul Dini won the Eisner Award for Best Single Story for Batman Adventures: Mad Love. Timm won the same prize the next year as well, for Batman Adventures Holiday Special with Dini, Ronnie del Carmen and others. Later, Timm was involved with Batman Adventures and has also worked on Avengers and Vampirella. He is also a popular cover and pin-up artist.
-Erik J. Larsen (born December 8, 1962) is an American comic book writer, artist and publisher. He is known for his work on Savage Dragon, as one of the founders of Image Comics, and for his work on Spider-Man for Marvel Comics. In 1992, seeking greater control and profit over the work they created, Larsen and six other illustrators left Marvel to form Image Comics, where Larsen launched a series featuring a reworked version of Savage Dragon. This time, the Dragon was a massively muscled green amnesiac, who joined the Chicago police department after being discovered in a burning field. Initially debuting in a three-issue miniseries, the series met with enough success to justify a monthly series, launched in 1993. To this day, Larsen continues to write and illustrate the series entirely by himself, and has maintained a reasonably consistent monthly schedule (save for occasional lapses) in comparison with the other original Image Comics titles.
-Darwyn Cooke is a comic book writer, artist, cartoonist and animator, known for his work on the comic books Catwoman, DC: The New Frontier, The Spirit and Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter.
With just these three names alone it should be understood that Kirby is, and always will be the most important creator in comics, but the list doesn't end there, there are hundreds of creators who specifically point to Jack Kirby for their inspiration and view him as a teacher of the medium, and to say that a book drawn by Kirby wouldn't sell in this day and age is not only ridiculous, but also incredibly disrespectful. Another ridiculous statement is that art has gotten better with the years, to which I say not really. The art in comics specifically has gotten flashier and more colorful, but not necessarily better.
Well, it's been a crazy few days for me; and here's why...
A few days ago I wrote a blog in which I warned fellow artists about the real danger of selling unlicensed material at conventions and/or their websites, specifically prints wit characters from the "Big 2". Little did I know that the blog would go take off, and in a matter of a few hours; it went viral! (If you want to read the blog go to: http://www.theartofmanuelcarmona.com/blog/artists-stop-selling-unlicensed-prints) The reactions were mostly positive but of course, there had to be some detractors that refuse to accept the facts; either because they're engaging in the aforementioned illegal activities OR... they "flip" these illegal prints online.
Regardless, the most important thing was to spread the word out to artists that: A. Were unaware of the situation. B. Were on the fence about the situation. C. Were not clear on what exactly is "fair use" of copyrighted material. D. Had been fed a lie by people who didn't know what they were talking about. E. Needed a bit of encouragement to pursue their own creations.
One of the most positive things that came out from that blog (besides the amount of traffic to my website :D ), was that I was able to engage in conversations with many artists that I didn't knew prior to the blog, I discovered some of their creations and now my circle has grown exponentially! That trully makes me happy. So, I decided I'm going to do weekly blogs to spotlight a different indie comic (webcomic/comic book/graphic novel/strip) every week. So, why not start today? The first one we'll talk about is called STRAW MAN created by David Branstetter. He's published ten (10) issues so far (available at http://www.indyplanet.us/product/67207/ and here: http://www.indyplanet.us/product/99556/), with issue 9 and 10 available directly at: www.strawmancomics.com)
He also has a complete storyline on www.strawmancomics.com featuring the character. You can find him on Twitter at: @strawmancomics and his Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/strawmancomics. You can also check David's Deviant Art page at: http://strawmancomics.deviantart.com. I hope you all go check out his strip and show support to a very talented artist who's putting out quality work on a consistent basis. When you do go visit his page, let him know that you heard about Straw Man on this website; that way he'll know we're all in this together... like it should be!
It's easy to talk the talk and say "we need to produce our own creations and help each other promote them" and never actually doit, but it's harder to walk the walk and actually help each other out in any way we can; I choose the latter. I hope everyone reading this blog does the same and spread the word on that indie book you love or that indie creator you admire and think he could use your help in promoting his work. I think this might be the start of an indie revolution.
Today I'm going to talk about something I've been saying for a while but has come to the forefront in a big way in the last few years, and that is; artists selling unlicensed prints at conventions of properties they down't own. As an artist myself, I'm all for artists making money doing what they love to do; but when my colleagues decide to use properties that don't belong to them and make money off of it... I have a problem with that. Now I know this is a tricky situation because artists have a hard time catching the attention of fans at conventions, mostly because these fans are mostly looking for established properties and/or visit the cons to Cosplay; but that's no excuse to steal. Yes you read that right, if you sell prints of characters that don't belong to you regardless of haw many you sell; you're stealing. Btw, I'm not here to judge anyone; I'm just stating the facts
Now there's a distinction to be made between unlicensed prints and commissioned sketches. The major difference between the two is that a commissioned sketch is a one of a kind work of art while a print is something that can be mass produced, that creates a conflict between the artist and the actual owners of whichever property is being used. When you buy a sketch from an artist, more than the character itself; you're paying for the artist's work. That's a BIG difference! Of course there are artists who've worked on these properties and sell prints at cons like Humberto Ramos, J. Scott Campbell, Sara Pichelli and others; but they actually have permission from the publishers to do so.
Spider-Man & Black Cat Art by J. Scott Campbell
Rogue Art by Sara Pichelli
Michonne Art by Humberto Ramos
So, what exactly can we do to make money at conventions? Well, there's a few ways for artists to make money at conventions but it all starts with networking. Here's a quick list of things you can do to do better money wise at conventions: 1. You MUST LEARN how to use Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and every other outlet on the web for your advantage! Create a fan base (as hard as it is!) and go from there. 2. Create a circle of friends/colleagues that can go to conventions with you, that way you can split the costs of convention tables, hotel fares, taxis, etc. Think about it, the less money you spend on such things, the more money you put in your pocket. 3. Create your own characters!!! I can't stress enough how important it is for you to create new properties. It's not only important for you, but for the industry as a whole; more properties mean more diversity and choices for fans to select which ones they'll follow. Also, if you create your own characters, you can then make money off them in any way, shape or form you desire; without having to worry about any copyright lawsuits in the future. 4. Surround yourself with people that hustle as hard, or even harder than you; that way you'll keep each other motivated and strive to reach the goal. 5. Another way to make money at conventions is to make original sketches of popular characters. Like I said before, I don't see a problem with artists selling sketches because the focus is mostly on each individual artists' style rather than the character itself.
The Shadow by Steve Lieber
Superman by Carlos Pacheco -------------->
So, armed with this newfound knowledge go and be an artist, create your own properties, surround yourself with winners and hard working people, cut off people who lack vision, who lack motivation and who try to bring you down and last but not least; attend conventions and sell your work! Good luck.
A veces veo cosas que me hacen recordar porque decidí alejarme de ciertos círculos artísticos. Me hubiese gustado formar parte de una comunidad artística en la cual hubiese inclusion real de artistas locales y no solo el mismo grupo de siempre. Quisiera formar parte de una comunidad donde no excluyeran a unos artistas, que en ocasiones tienen mucho mas talento que los artistas que si invitan; porque tienen una manera de pensar distinta a la de el grupo "in" de dicha comunidad. Quisiera que hubiese una plataforma que realmente invitara a TODOS los artistas locales en Puerto Rico y no solo a un grupo especifico y sus allegados. Quisiera muchas cosas pero el mundo en que vivimos no es perfecto y mucho menos justo.
Tal vez hubiese aceptado una invitación pero luego recapacito y me doy cuenta que todo pasa porque tiene que pasar y la realidad del asunto es que, me inviten o no; no voy a ser mejor ni peor artista por el hecho de ser invitado a su actividad. La realidad es que no lo necesito, pero cuando creo que ya hemos evolucionado y hemos dejado esas bobadas me tropiezo con los mismos individuos haciendo las mismas bobadas, creando eventos en donde solo entra su gente no se para que, a lo mejor para sentirse grande o darse la importancia que a lo mejor no le dieron sus padres; no sabría decirles.
Lo ironico del caso es que tengo fe de que la comunidad de los comics en Puerto Rico eche hacia adelante, pero veo que personas a las que se le ha dado cierto tipo de autoridad que no merecen; han tomado control de la comunidad de manera sutil pero igualmente venenosa. Con solo mirar a simple vista los temas de sus últimos proyectos pueden ver que su agenda no es la de adelantar el arte de los comics en Puerto Rico, sino validar su estilo de vida y darse valor propio atravez de la aceptación y los falsos aplausos de quienes están dentro de su burbuja; personas que por buscar exposición venderían su alma al diablo si fuera necesario. Por eso yo no encajo en su comunidad, yo no necesito su aceptación por el simple hecho de que ustedes no son la autoridad en el ambiente artístico al que llamamos pasquines o comics; es tiempo de reventar su burbuja... PLOP!