“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)

Updated the art in my Tranquility Base desk. Still includes my Moebius Festival of Animation 1987 poster, an entire set of Moebius trading cards and a print of the Best Joost Swarte Cover Ever, but now I’ve also got original pieces by Roman Muradov, Ian MacEwan, an original Olympic Prizes or Cash ad and a sweet ROM: SPACEKNIGHT print by the ever so lovely Zack Soto.

Updated the art in my Tranquility Base desk. Still includes my Moebius Festival of Animation 1987 poster, an entire set of Moebius trading cards and a print of the Best Joost Swarte Cover Ever, but now I’ve also got original pieces by Roman Muradov, Ian MacEwan, an original Olympic Prizes or Cash ad and a sweet ROM: SPACEKNIGHT print by the ever so lovely Zack Soto.

THE TURTLES THAT NEVER WERE

My buddy Zack Soto recently posted jpegs, thoughts and notes over our aborted attempt to pitch a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles project to IDW Publishing.

I thought I’d chime in.

First, a little background.

Zack’s a guy I’ve gotten to know pretty well over the last year I’ve been in Portland. He’s also an immense cartooning talent and has an amazing mind for all things comics. The combinations of all these things has resulted in a lot of talks, debates and even arguments about comics. I’m a lucky guy to call him my friend.

The idea of us working together has come up quite a bit. We’ve talked over various ideas and projects, but when the prospect of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came up, well, yeah, we were stoked.

Like my desire to work with Zack, I’ve been interested in working with the folks at IDW Publishing as a number of friends are employed there. From a business perspective, I’ve always been really into their recent pushes, especially stuff like their Artist’s Editions. It was mentioned to me outright somewhat recently that they were equally interested in working with me, so I should start pitching.

Then it was announced they get the TMNT license.

As Zack in his post, the two of us share a huge passion for all things Turtles. We’re of the age.

So, anyway, Zack + IDW + TMNT = Something I Really Wanted To Work On.

But then it hit a snag.

After Zack had worked on some brilliant character designs, I had hashed how my outline for the series/pitch and written a script which Zack was about to draw, it was not only announced they already had plans to do a series in a similar vein as we wanted, but it was being done by Kevin Eastman.

Kevin Eastman, co-creator of Ninja Turtles.

It’s hard to compete with that.

Anyway.

With the creator of Turtles on the job, Zack and I agreed it would be a damn shame for the project to totally die, so we agreed to get our efforts out there. He posted the visuals. I’m posting my pitch ideas and script.

Here goes.

I should explain our take was to do more or less an “Ultimate” version of the original Eastman & Laird Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle run and take their original plotlines, give them a more modern approach and create connections they never had before to give it a more cohesive whole. I also wanted to take them in different directions than the original comics ever went. Furthermore, I wanted to make it the TMNT comic you remember - a kinda weird, but super bad ass deep take on ninja turtles fighting ninjas that weren’t turtles. Plus Triceratons. Kinda like how Warren Ellis did GI JOE: RESOLUTE. It was how you remember GI JOE being, even if the reality is a little, well, not so bad ass.

I thought Zack was the perfect guy to do it. He has a background in indie comics, having won both an Ignatz and a Stumptown Comic Arts Award for his efforts, yet has a passion for comics in general and these characters in specific to pull it off. 

We also wanted to bring our indie buds in for back up stories. So in addition to our main stories, you would have guys like Brandon Graham, Benjamin Marra, etc. doing shorts that would expand the overall story.

Speaking of which, here’s how I saw the overall story break down:

STORYLINE ONE: “Fifteen Year Plan” Issues #1-5

This storyline would have introduced three aspects:

1) The Turtles and Splinter, of course. The “Fifteen Year Plan” relates to how Splinter witnessed his master, Hamato Yoshi, be murdered at the hands of Oroku Saki and his “Fifteen Year Plan” to train the turtles to get revenge against him. We see all this in the first issue, “The Death of Hamato Yoshi.”

2) Shredder. Oroku Saki was a crime lord in Japan, with Hamato Yoshi as his right hand man, who wanted out. Saki murdered Yoshi’s wife and after a fight, Yoshi himself. He’s now expanding his crime family to America, which is the impetus for Splinter to end the turtle’s training.

3) TCRI. In our version, TCRI is kind of like Apple or Virgin in that they’re a huge multi-national corporation with hands in just about every type of media. They’ve revolutionized the way we live - they sell computers, tablets, mobile phones, cars, etc. Everything they do is top of the line, pushing things to a new frontier. They also have a military division, so as if Steve Jobs owned Haliburton. Their goal is to create military technologies not reliant on human soldiers, so they have two main sub-divisons: genetic and robotic. Baxter Stockman and his assistant, April O’Neil, head that division.

Fifteen Year Plan is basically the slow burn to all these ideas and they don’t even directly fight Shredder until the next storyline, but they do have their first unsuccessful confrontation with the foot. At the same time, TCRI is going to shut down Stockman’s research as he’s gone way over budget. It appears he’s unleashed the mousers (probably called something else, they idea is that they only dismantle non-human elements, tanks, weapons, buildings, etc.) in an effort to prove the proof of concept, but of course, it goes haywire. Turtles are able to shut it down and they start their friendship with O’Neil, who it turns out actually unleashed the mousers, but nobody knows. Stockman takes the fall and since Splinter appears to be dead (but his body is missing) because of something she did, O’Neil feels responsible for the turtles and takes them in.

STORYLINE TWO: “Ronin” Issues #6-10

This is primarily an arc focusing on the Turtles and the Foot, as the guys are thrown in a situation they’ve never been in. They’ve always had Splinter to rely on. They’ve always been bound to the sewers. They’re now living in an odd place with this woman they don’t really know. With their master seemingly dead, they need to finally accomplish what they were trained to do and what his only wish in life ever was: dismantle the Foot and assassinate Saki/Shredder.

So, cut to the chase, they go after Shredder and dismantling the foot and the latter goes relatively well, but once they confront Shredder they get their asses handed to them. He knows how they fight. Almost too well. They’re nearly killed and mortally wounded, but are able to escape.

At the end, we would have found out two things as readers that no one else would have known:

1) TCRI has Splinter and they’re exploiting him for research purposes. Furthermore, that their CEO/Founder is an alien - the same kind as the last run, a robot with a Krang-like dude in his stomach.

2) Shredder is actually Hamato Yoshi, Splinter’s long-thought dead master.

As we find out in issue #10, “The Return of Hamato Yoshi,” Yoshi went after Saki, killed him and took over his identity. The Shredder persona allowed him to do this in plain site, as he was always in disguise and his face never seen. That’s why he knew how the turtles fought. Furthermore, it’s a huge blow to what Splinter has made his life’s goal all this time. I think it also ups the stakes this run a lot. Yes, it’s based off of the original run, but it can go in very different directions.

STORYLINE THREE: “City At War” #11-15

This arc brings together the TCRI and Foot clan aspects. Yoshi wants their resources and their inside man reveals they have Splinter. 

While they are experimenting on Splinter, he gets to know one of their other captives, a Triceraton who is planning an escape, which he and Splinter eventually make in issue #14, as the Foot and Turtles descend on TCRI and create the titular “City At War”, a call back to an earlier arc.

It concludes with three major things:

1) New York ends up pretty fucked up after the “war” between TCRI and the Foot. It’s pretty well devastated.

2) Splinter and Shredder finally confront eachother, fight and Shredder nearly kills him, then tells Splinter to “yield.” He does, as Splinter has figured out what the reader knows (that Shredder is Yoshi) and goes with Shredder, willingly leaving the Ninja Turtles behind as…

3) …we find out the Triceraton wasn’t trying to escape. TCRI has a signal to his people. The aliens who run TCRI have had an intergalactic war going for centuries. The TCRI aleisn came to Earth and revolutionized our technology with theirs so we would be ready when the Triceratons finally came, but Earth was so remote they had time. They’re still not ready, but it doesn’t matter. The Triceratons are coming.

STORYLINE FOUR: “Earthbound” #16-20

The Foot and Shredder sit this one out. The New York operation is more or less bust, so Shredder and Splinter head back to Japan. TCRI was pretty messed up after City At War, so it’s solely up to the Turtles to fight off the Triceraton invasion.

I didn’t detail the plot of this one all that much, as it was around this time we found out Eastman was doing the relaunch. That said, I know it ends with TCRI being dismantled, Michelangelo publicly outed, Leonardo teleported to the middle of Eastern Europe, Donatello leaving with surviving TCRI aliens and Raphael becoming a recluse in sewer after being freed as a prisoner of war.

So, there you go.

That’s the story we would have told. I have loose ideas for where it might have gone after, but it’s a moot point now.

That said, I did write a five page sample script for Zack to write, so I’ll conclude with putting that here. Zack has a layout on his website, so follow along there.

My idea with this script was two A) show Zack’s skill range as an artist and how it relates to their property. Show him drawing different types of pages. and B) how I would handle the turtles, the personalities, etc. all in five pages.

Looking at it now there’s some things I would have done differently with the script portion, but given the status of the pitch, I’m letting it go out there the way it is.

So, here you go. I hope you dug all this. 

PAGE ONE

PANEL 1

Very tight close up on SPLINTER - we should only see his eyes and his hands folded in front of him.

SPLINTER

THIS IS EVERYTHING I TRAINED FOR. THE CULMINATION OF WHO YOU ARE.

PANEL 2

Very tight close up on LEONARDO, he’s running, but I think we should only see part of his torso and his hands, holding his katana.

SPLINTER CAPTION

LEADERS.

PANEL 3

Very tight close up on DONATELLO - again, also running, but we should only see part of his torso and his hands, holding his bo.

SPLINTER CAPTION

WARRIORS.

PANEL 4

Very tight close up on MICHELANGELO - again, also running, but we should only see part of his torso and his hands, holding his nunchucks.

SPLINTER CAPTION

BROTHERS.

PANEL 5

Very tight close up on RAPHAEL - again, also running, but we should only see part of his torso and his hands, holding his sais.

SPLINTER CAPTION

NINJA.

PAGE TWO

SPLASH PAGE, I picture it set about two seconds after the cover of the original TMNT #1 - with the four turtles leaping off a roof.

GIGANTIC LOGO AT TOP

EASTMAN & LAIRD’S

TEENAGE MUTANT

NINJA TURTLES

SPLINTER CAPTION

MY FIGHT IS NOW YOURS, MY SONS.

BOTTOM LEFT TEXT

WRITTEN BY JOE KEATINGE

BOTTOM RIGHT TEXT

ILLUSTRATED BY ZACK SOTO

SMALLER BOTTOM LEFT TEXT

COLORED BY TBD

SMALLER BOTTOM RIGHT TEXT

LETTERED BY TBD


PAGE THREE

PANEL 1

They’re leaping into a mess of Foot Soldiers, with each panel focusing on a different turtle. We start off with, RAPHAEL, who is jump kicking a foot soldier in the face.

RAPHAEL

REALLY?! THESE ARE THE GUYS SPLINTER WARNED US ABOUT?!

PANEL 2

MICHELANGELO has an arm wrapped around one Foot Soldier’s neck as he hits another with his nunchucks.

MICHELANGELO

NO KIDDING.

WE’VE BEEN TAKING GUYS LIKE THIS DOWN FOR YEARS!

PANEL 3

DONATELLO is plunges his bo into the stomach of a Foot Soldier coming from behind.

DONATELLO

COME ON - LESS TALKING, MORE FIGHTING!

PANEL 4

LEONARDO is standing on top of a fallen Foot Soldier, his katanas tinged with blood.

LEONARDO

DONATELLO’S RIGHT! WE CAN TAKE THEM OUT, BUT STAY FOCUSED!


PAGE FOUR

PANEL 1

Giant panel, consisting of most of the page. Shredder has appeared behind Leonardo, stabbing him through the shoulder with the blades on his right hand.

SHREDDER

NO.

SHREDDER

NO, YOU CAN’T.

PANEL 2

Much smaller panel, from over Shredder’s shoulder. Leon has fallen to his knees in front of him and we’re focused on Donatello, Raph and Michaelango, who are standing ready to fight. The remaining Foot have backed off of them.

SHREDDER

YOUR FIGHT IS OVER.


PAGE FIVE

PANEL 1

I think whatever layout we have for page one should be emulated here.

First we start off with Shredder kicking Leo in the back, sending him into Donatello.

SHREDDER

I DON’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE.

PANEL 2 

Michelangelo leaps at Shredder.

SHREDDER

BUT I CAN TELL WHO TRAINED YOU.

PANEL 3

He backhands Michelangelo, cutting his face up and sending him flying back. Raphael is plunging himself at Shredder.

SHREDDER

I MURDERED HIM.

PANEL 4

Shredder has grabbed Raphael by the neck, has an arm pulled back to punch him in the face.

SHREDDER

I KILLED HAMATO YOSHI.

PANEL 5

All black panel, no text.

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.