“Joe Keatinge has established himself as the latest new writer I want to undermine and destroy. It’s just top class stuff.”
- Mark Millar (Kick-Ass, Civil War, Wanted, Ultimates)

"I think Joe is definitely one to watch."
- Robert Kirkman (Walking Dead, Invincible)

ULISES FARINAS COVERS GLORY

Ulises Farinas is the absolutely brilliant hyper-detailed artist responsible for:

Pretty intense, huh? He’s one of comics best, most exciting new talents and I’m happy to say he’s providing the cover to May’s GLORY #26.

However, it’s a little early to unveil the cover, so here’s a small sneak peek of the beauty to come. I’ve seen the whole thing and trust me, the wait will be worth it!

Yeah, I guess spoilers: there’s a whole lot of dead monsters.

STAY TUNED!

SO WE WANT TO READ STRANGE TALES III: A NEON MONSTER GUIDE TO WHO WE SHOULD SEE NEXT AND WHY

Farinas' Marvel Fantasy

As I mentioned in Monday’s guide to other works by Strange Tales’ many cartoonists, my favorite thing about Marvel’s indie-focused anthology isn’t just radically different takes on characters over a hundred years old, but exposing these creators to a larger audience than ever before

While Strange Tales’ curators have been doing a great job, there are a number of people I haven’t seen published or approached who I think would knock a short or two out of the park. I’ve been lucky enough to edit and oversee over two thousand pages of mostly new creators through PopGun and would like to see them all take the next big step. Strange Tales seems to be the perfect home for them to do so.

On that note this list is not in any particular order nor does it begin to cover the amazing amount of new creators who would do an excellent job reinterpreting any of Marvel’s thousands of characters. I’m limiting it to twelve since I covered the twelve cartoonists in Strange Tales II #1 and these happen to be the first to come to mind.

 

Galactus by Stokoe

James Stokoe

I usually think it’s lame to say someone is “The Next _________,” as it usually short changes their own accomplishments, but I truly believe James Stokoe will be his generation’s equivalent of Jack Kirby.

Their work is completely different. Their approaches are not remotely the same. However, in terms of sheer output, drive and madcap creativity I’ve not seen someone so similar to the King, well, pretty much ever.

Right now James is mostly known for his Image Comics’ series, Orc Stain, but it’s the tip of the iceberg in terms of what he’s done thus far. Even when you include his first major published work, the sci-fi-cooking series at Oni Press, Won-Ton Soup, you barely begin to cover what he’s already accomplished. The truth is a lot of it isn’t in print now, if it ever was in the first place.

The guy is a machine. I’ve been lucky enough to see the piles of original art he has at home and the rapid fire of ideas and concepts are truly mind blowing. He has at least a couple graphic novels which have never seen print, including the full color War Won-Ton. He’s not concerned with getting those past works out there, even though barely anyone has ever seen them. James’ eye is toward what he’s creating tomorrow.

It’s like how Speed Racer’s described in the highly under rated movie, Stokoe seems to be interested in only one thing. All he talks about, all he seems capable of thinking about, is making comics. I don’t think you could pay a cartoonist a bigger compliment.

Then there’s the comics about OTHER people’s characters he draws for fun. He’s drawn a Godzilla story which blows the last 30 years of giant reptile comics out of the water just because, he cranked out an Aliens story in days when he felt like it and he even took on a Silver Surer: Parable inspired story with a Galactus drawn over six feet of Bristol paper. Most people have never seen these and it’s a damn shame. It would be nice if Strange Tales changed it.

Peter's Muscle

Michael DeForge

Michael DeForge has probably received more mentions in my columns recently than any other cartoonist, but there’s a good reason for it. Since reading his Koyama Press published comics, Lose, I’ve been completely enamored with just about everything he draws.

I’ve recently discussed why at length, but I feel it’s somewhat worth repeating. The guy doesn’t work like anyone out there or anyone before him. Does he have influences? Sure, everybody does, but he doesn’t let them bog down his work. Every single story I read of his is fresh and different.

What excites me most is he’s still relatively young. What he’s doing now is his ‘rough period’ and yet it blows away work by veteran folks.

You should definitely locate a copy of his mini-comic, Peter’s Muscle. It’s a completely unauthorized take on everyone’s favorite friendly neighborhood webslinger and a glimpse of what could be if given the chance to officially take the reins of Marvel’s finest.

Wolverine by Bryce

Evan Bryce

Ever since meeting Evan Bryce at HeroesCon, I’ve been taken with the energy of his line work. It’s a cliché, but it applies to Evan, in that his illustrations seem like they’re moving. The way he plays with perspective and anatomy results in a visually kinetic experience. Over the years his artwork has grown leaps and bounds.

My only complaint is he doesn’t have a huge stack of comics work out there, but it’s my hope it changes. I was actually lucky enough to collaborate with him years ago on a short in Negative Burn and was really taken with how much he improved the story. However, his art has evolved so much since then. It makes me think the world would be a better place if we saw more comics from him now.

Luckily, he’s an extremely prolific illustrator with a regularly updated art blog. I have no doubt in my mind that once the right editor sees his work we’ll finally get the Bryce comics we’ve long needed.

Beast by Marian Churchland

Marian Churchland

Marian Churchland is the rare new cartoonist who immediately makes you realize you’re not working hard enough.

Beast, her first original graphic novel from Image Comics, was released last year and took just about anyone who saw it by surprise. Marian appeared out of nowhere, dropping a massive tome in our laps that looked like it was produced by someone decades into their career. I have the feeling we’ll be experiencing this with her a number of times over the years to come. Just when we’re all very confident in our abilities, Marian will produce a work that reminds us we have a long way to go. Her work on Elephantmen was quite impressive, but it wasn’t until she was let out on her own did she really blow everyone anyway.

The thing is she also achieves a rare feat in being equal parts strong as a writer and artist. A lot of cartoonists seem to lead toward one end of the spectrum or another, but it’s not the case with her. If she so desired, she could spend the rest of her career just writing some of the most acclaimed comics we’ve seen in decades as easily as she could become one of the most famed illustrators of her generation.

Given her strong combination of talents, not only do I think she has the ability to take any character Marvel could throw at her and make it brilliant, but I think that would apply to her just about anywhere.

Daredevil by Andre Szymanowicz

Andre Szymanowicz

Remember a few years ago when Rick Remender told everyone how huge Jerome Opeña would be one day? If you don’t, around the time when Jerome came on Fear Agent, Rick told just about anyone Jerome was destined to be a superstar. If you saw their collaboration on the recent Uncanny X-Force, you know he was right.

Sometimes you can look at someone’s work and know immediately that they have “it.” It’s hard to describe exactly what “it” is, but there are certain people whose artwork immediately shows they’re meant to do one thing in life: make comics.

What Rick saw in Jerome’s early work, I see in Andre Szymanowicz’s.

I first noticed Andre in the pages of the Eisner award-winning Tori Amos anthology, Comic Book Tattoo. Soon after, we were lucky enough to publish him in the pages of the also Eisner award-winning PopGun Vol. 3.

In that time I’ve gotten to know Andre and – full disclosure – work with him. By doing so I’ve gotten to see that not only does the guy have artistic chops, the guy has the drive and the passion to do great comics more so than just about any new comer I know.

I look at his work and I see not the next Frank Quietly, Art Adams or Dave Finch, but rather someone others will eventually compare newcomers to as the next Andre Szymanowicz. He’s not there yet, but the guy is definitely on his way to getting there.

To catch up with his work, I would recommend keeping an eye out for his upcoming self-published work, Sushi Nachos, due out in spring 2011. Around the same time he’ll also be making an appearance at San Francisco’s WonderCon to coincide with an art opening at local shop Mission: Comics and Art. Further work is underway, but you should definitely get in the ground floor for a guy I definitely think will end up being the Next Big Thing.

Ororo by Brandon Graham

Brandon Graham

Paul Pope prophesized and executed the idea of World Comics well over a decade ago, in which art styles, theories and practices from around the world would combine into something new and unique. The more manga got out there, the more Eurocomics were published stateside, creators would begin to fuse all these styles together in ways we just never saw, at least with any frequency, in decades passed. Furthermore, I would add the incalculable growth of information distribution online exposes people to so much more than they would have ever seen before. Diverse elements like graphic design, fashion and pop culture flood people from all over the world. What this dissemination results in definitely has me excited.

If there’s one creator I feel is the heir apparent to the World Comics, it’s definitely Brandon Graham. When he talks comics, he refers to Vaughn Bode, Moebius and Katushiro Otomo all in the same breath. When he draws comics, he produces work like I’ve never seen before, drawing inspiration not just from comics, but graphitti and a wide range of music. To say it’s influences lean towards just one school of thought or another is impossible.

It’s not just the visuals.

In a recent interview, Brandon talked about how the shift of King City shifted at the halfway point, focusing on the experience of living in cities and it shows. The series begins by focusing on a Catmaster – think Green Lantern, but with a cat and no goofy costume – named Joe, it’s not too long until we see the rich world Brandon has built. Every door has something behind it; every panel is filled with micro-nuances, which make everything seem alive. In twelve issues, you experience a character’s life so thoroughly it’s like it was published for decades.

He’s been extremely prolific with his own characters and concepts, so I definitely want to see him continue on such a track. However, it would be interesting to see someone with such a mastery of world building with a global style to recreate characters so set in American culture with almost seventy-five years of publishing behind them.

Forgetless by Marley Zarcone

Marley Zarcone

Marley Zarcone saw her first published work in the pages of PopGun, but was quickly picked up by Morning Glories writer Nick Spencer to illustrate a portion of his rock ‘n roll fueled mini-series, Forgetless. Long/short, this got into the hands of Vertigo, which lead to a guest issue of Madame Xanadu, which led to yet another guest shot in November’s House of Mystery #31.

So, yeah, Marley’s on fire.

The attention is very well deserved.

I also see the World Comics trend prevalent in Marley’s work, to the point I have a hard time pinpointing what inspirations make up her style. To me, that’s one hell of a compliment. Her portfolio shows characters from Hellblazer, Blade of the Immortal and Batgirl, showing that there’s not just one source she’s drawing from.

Her growth is amazing. When you look at ‘Scummy’, her PopGun story, along with Madame Xanadu #24, it’s appears at least a decade of growth had to pass. The reality is it was no time at all.

Given her range, I could see her tackling just about any character from any property family they have. Whatever ends up happening, I know I’m excited.

Emi Lenox

Emi Lenox

My favorite story about Emi Lenox goes back to when she was an intern at Portland, OR’s Periscope Studio. She received the position after explaining while she wasn’t able to write or draw, she was interested in the business side of comics. This went on for a while until they caught her drawing and were very surprised by what they saw.

Not only could she draw, but she was good.

Damn good.

Luckily for us the encouragement led to her launching EmiTown, an autobio comic running for the past few years and recently picked up for publication by Image Comics.

It’s a great read. As I’ve stated in the past, I think slice of life and especially autobio comics are the hardest genre to pull off. Everyone can make a sandwich – how do you tell a story about doing so in a new, different way? I don’t think I could pull it off in the slightest, so I admire those that do. I especially admire Emi’s ability to tell the day to day in such an engaging manner when she’s virtually just starting out.

Her storytelling ability isn’t the only reason why I think she would be a prime candidate for Strange Tales. While her EmiTown style is fantastic, she often experiments with others, usually more details and dramatic. She has a strong grasp on not only the basics, but also the ability to subtly convey a lot of emotion. It’s a very tough skill and she knocks it out of the park. I see her going very far in the mainstream industry after she completes a few more indie projects In fact, if I had my way, she would be my first choice to re-launch Runaways with the right writer.

Wolverine by Ulises Farinas

Ulises Farinas

There are certain creators whose work I just can’t process.

This is much more of a compliment than it reads.

Seth Fisher was – still is – a prime example of what I’m talking about. I absolutely love just about everything he every put to paper like Happydale, Green Lantern: Willworld, Vertigo Pop! Tokyo, Batman: Snow and Fantastic Four/Iron Man: Big in Japan. People throw around the term “energy” when discussing artists, but this guy truly had it in droves. Reading anything he drew lit my mind on fire with the hundreds and hundreds of ideas and detail he methodically designed in every panel.

I could never understand his starting point. I could never make sense of how he was able to make so many random pieces fit together so perfectly well.

But he did. Dude became a hard act to follow.

However, if any artist has a chance of following said act, it’s Ulises Farinas.

I first noticed Ulises, like a lot of people on this list, through PopGun, but since then the guy has blown up with talent. You would think those early stories was an artist on the top of his game, but every time he puts out another piece like this Marvel Fantasy epic or his recent, albeit unauthorized Batman Loses story I can only think we’ve barely seen the beginning of an artist who will one day get to the same level as Fisher.

Wolverine by Dan Hipp

Dan Hipp

Dan Hipp holds the unique title of being the first artist to draw a page I liked so much I knew I had to own the original. Since then this has only happened twice more, once with Mike Allred’s PopGun Vol. 1 cover and again with a page of Nextwave by Stuart Immonen. Not bad company to be in.

Said piece was from Amazing Joy Buzzards, which is also the first time his work caught my eye period, with writer Mark Andrew Smith. The series, about a group of rock and rollers who travel the world in search of adventure, remains a favorite of mind in no short part due to his art and book design.

I’ve been avidly following him since, from his work on the Tokyopop series, GYAKUSHU!, to his licensed work like Gen13 and even Ben10. I can’t get enough his art; the guy just draws me in. Like I mentioned about Ulises and Fisher, Dan has an as energy to his line which makes his stuff blow off the page. I mentioned Immonen and Ellis’ NextWave earlier and if there were anyone capable of taking over such a book, it would most certainly be Dan.

Furthermore, in the last several months he’s been very actively maintaining an art blog, with updates containing everything from Marvel’s finest to Akira to Sergio Leone westerns and just about anything cool pulp culture has to offer. Considering how well he takes on characters and ideas from so many diverse sources makes me have full confidence in his ability to take on whatever Strange Tales could throw at him.

Kitty Pryde by Zack Soto

Zack Soto

Zack Soto’s a guy I first noticed through his fine art, specifically with the Portland collective, Pony Club. Since then I’ve backtracked to discover his AdHouse one-shot, Secret Voice, and the work with his Ignatz award-winning anthology, Study Group 12. Comparing the comics with the fine art and illustration made me a fan, seeing where he crossed aspects of one with the other to formulate something new.

When considering people who could bring a unique, yet faithful spin to the Marvel superheroes Zack immediately came to mind. In fact, it’s this Cable piece which made me think so. It’s clearly his take on the early 90s version, complete with exaggerated anatomy way too many packs of, well, who knows.

Despite that, through his art style it becomes a take we haven’t seen before. This doesn’t look like Rob Liefeld, it doesn’t even look like Ladronn’s run. It’s wholly its own. After following his online presence and talking to him one-on-one I’ve learned he has a real love for the Marvel Universe. So to see someone with so much passion, yet such a wildly conflicting – in a good, heck, the best way – style seems to be exactly what Strange Tales was built for.

Moon Knight by Michel Fiffe

Michel Fiffe

Michel Fiffe knows comics.

I mean, he really knows comics.

In addition to being a great cartoonist – which we’ll get to in a second – Michel is a regular contributor to both the Comics Journal and the Comics Beat with his thorough columns and interviews on subjects ranging from indie classics like Mark Badger to more obscure genius like Thriller’s Trevor Von Eeden. Any time I see any piece written by him, I’m gripped. The guy oozes with so much passion for the medium it’s infectious. It’s this passion which led him to piece together an indie centric anthology of his own, Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies, which showcases contributors including the aforementioned Farinas, Dean Haspiel, Vito Delsante, Andrew Dimitt, Rachel Freire, Simon Fraser, George O’Connor, Tim Hamilton, Michael Cavallaro and a legion more.

As I mentioned, the guy also really knows how to push a pencil. He made huge strides with his Act-I-Vate series, Panorama, especially after being published in Image Comics’ Brawl, with Billy Dogma’s Haspiel. Since then his body of work has continued to expand with Panorama seeing the end of its run and other comics such as Zegas making a splash.

While a huge fan of both Panorama and Zegas, it’s the former in specific which makes me think he’s a must addition to the House of Idea’s indie anthology. His ability to blend the every day with the surreal appears flawless and makes one wonder why he hasn’t been drawing Dr. Strange since Strange Tales’ first run. Given his well documented affinity for Steve Ditko I also believe he would do a splendid job whether or not there as an anthology to begin with.

It’s a job the guy was born to do.