Tag Archives: tom scioli

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Rob Liefeld and Larry Hama Team for a Snake Eyes: Deadgame #5 Cover

On July 7, 2021, Rob Liefeld will close out his run on the best-selling G.I. JOE title, Snake Eyes: Deadgame, from Hasbro and IDW! The fifth issue finale features an All-Star list of comic book legends providing inks and finishes to Rob’s penciled art. Not satisfied with just putting together an All-Star team, Rob decided to round out the cast by adding legendary artist and creator Kevin EastmanRyan OttleyEric Canete, and Karl Kerschl.

Not content with this unparalleled assemblage of All-Star talents, Liefeld wanted to take the event one step further. The Deadpool creator enlisted the Living Legend of G.I. JOE: A Real American HeroLarry Hama. Rob will ink over Larry Hama’s pencils for a special once-in-a-lifetime collectible cover event.

These artists join the already named list of All-Stars including Neal AdamsJerry OrdwayWhilce PortacioKarl KeselArt ThibertPhilip TanDan PanosianDan FragaEd PiskorMarat MychaelsJim RuggTom ScioliCory HamscherPaul ScottKarl Alstaetter, and Chance Wolf.

Underrated: Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics by Tom Scioli

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics by Tom Scioli.


Biographies aren’t always the first thing you think  of when you think of graphic novels, and vice versa. But the thing is a graphic novel is a fantastic way to tell a person’s life story, or a portion there of, that isn’t often used as much as it could be. Graphic novel biographies are a wonderfully unique way of telling a story that you really can’t capture the same way with a prose book. By utilizing the graphic novel format, the creative team have the opportunity to bring the story to life with picture, or temper  the harshness of what the biography’s subject went through so that the reader can take more of the story in (seriously, imagine the first entry with realistic artwork). Or the artwork can tell give you a subtlety that’s missing in other mediums as you’re more readily able to spend time pouring over the images in front of you. Yeah, I think it’s safe to say that I think graphic novels are an underrated method of telling a biographical story.

Biographies told in the graphic novel format have been around for awhile, and I’ve found are often my preferred way to read story about a person’s life. Maus for example would be a much harder book to read in prose, and part of Spiegleman’s genius is in how he still conveys the horror of his father’s story with the art that’s never cute or adorable, but wouldn’t look out of place next to Andy Capp in your Sunday supplement (this isn’t a knock against the book – it remains one of my favourite graphic novels because of exactly this; the balance of the art to the horror is perfect and frequently left me questioning how I would be reacting if the art was realistic or had the story been told in prose with vivid descriptions).

But when it comes to reading a graphic novel, even a near 200 page one, to learn about the rich history of a subject, then there is an obvious trade off with the amount of information you can fit into a graphic novel verses a text book – sometimes that matters, and others it doesn’t.

I’ve read a few biographies of Kirby over the years (Mark Evanier’s Kirby: King Of Comics is probably my favourite), but this is the first biography of Kirby I’ve read in the graphic form. Other than some minor details, Scioli doesn’t tell me anything that I wasn’t already at least partly aware of, though that’s not because he doesn’t have a well researched book (he really does), but rather because this isn’t the first Kirby biography I have ever read – Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics, published by Ten Speed Press, is a thoroughly engaging read, and Scioli’s dedication to the presentation of the book shines through early with a scene of young Kirby reading comics for one of the first times.

This is told from Kirby’s perspective, which does lead to him being portrayed in a very flattering light, but given the author’s well documented reverence for Kirby, I’m genuinely impressed that Scioli is somewhat restrained at the same time; he never crosses into a full worship of the comics legend (which is very easy to do given how much respect Kirby is due and how much he often gets outside of the comics community).

Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics is a really good book; it’s often overlooked in a lot of the circles I run in because it’s both a graphic novel and a biography – the combination of which never seems to excite people as much as a fictional graphic novel (or comic). It’s a shame, because this book is an ideal start to learning about Jack Kirby, and will propel you into reading the comics he so loved to create.


In the meantime, Underrated will return to highlight more comic book related stuff  that either gets ignored despite it’s high quality, or maybe isn’t quite as bad as we tend to think it is.

Review: Jack Kirby – The Epic Life of the King of Comics

Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics

Coming off his work on Fantastic Four Grand Design as judging by his art style and themes in comics like Super Powers, Godland, and American Barbarian, cartoonist Tom Scioli is an excellent choice to write, draw, color, and letter a graphic biography of Jack Kirby, who co-created Captain America, Hulk, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, New Gods, and characters too numerous to mention. In Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics, Scioli tells the story of Kirby’s life using a first-person narrative device drawing on a backlog of interviews and magazine articles about him while occasionally shifting the narrator to his beloved wife, Roz Kirby, and his collaborator/rival/general pain in the ass, Stan Lee to show their sides of Kirby’s life.

The main takeaway I got from Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics was that his life and vivid imagination were almost always linked, and Scioli shows this by drawing Kirby wide-eyed, almost like Astro Boy compared to his more realistic portrayals of the characters around him. There ends up being a big, emotional payoff to this technique, and it’s interesting to see Scioli’s art style shift with the time that Kirby was living in from the classic adventure and humor strips that took him away from gloomy New York to the power and pain of his war days where he escaped death so many times. This is followed up by the chameleon days of the 1950s where Kirby and Joe Simon tried to keep up with the latest trends in the industry like crime and Westerns and even invented a new one: romance, the 1960s where Kirby turned monsters into superheroes and created pop culture icons, the 1970s where he was freed from dialogue balloon fillers-in and could create a new mythology that was both epic and personal.

Finally, the story concludes in Kirby’s twilight years where he finally got things like health insurance and paid days off to take a trip to Israel with Roz and spend more time with his family while working in animation, getting royalties for his New Gods characters, and getting his greatest paycheck yet when the Image Comics founders inked some of his old, unpublished art to create Phantom Force. After Kirby’s death, Scioli does away with his usual six panel grid and uses smaller screens with photorealistic drawings of everything from Frank Miller eulogizing him to photorealistic style panels of stills from movies from 2000’s X-Men to the upcoming Eternals and New Gods, which draw almost solely from his vision.

But for every great idea or creation, there’s a reversal with Jack Kirby spending as much time in heated arguments in offices and occasionally court rooms as at the drawing board creating stories and worlds. However, Tom Scioli spends plenty of time showing Jack Kirby in the act of penciling or plotting comics drawing on everything from a documentary about Easter Island to the personality differences between conniving Stan Lee and affable Larry Lieber (Who was huge fan of Kirby’s Captain America as a kid) to develop the first bad guys in Journey into Mystery (And later, Thor.) as well as the relationship between Thor, Loki, and Odin. From early pages where Kirby is sprawled out with the full color Sunday comics section on his building’s fire escape, Scioli portrays him as sponge for stories and pop culture of all kinds, especially mythology and speculative fiction.

Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics

Instead of being a nerd and hoarding comics or toys in his room, Kirby combined these rich stories with his experiences as a member of a youth gang in New York or as a soldier in World War II to create stories that are both relatable and full of wonder even if a few like Stuntman and True Divorce Stories didn’t get made or got less hype than Captain America or Fantastic Four. Every movie, conversation, or story told to him became fodder for Kirby’s own work, and those around him realize this before him. For example, in the 1970s, DC Comics wanted him to do a horror story in the vein of Swamp Thing, which wasn’t his favorite genre, so after a pep talk from his assistants Mark Evanier and Steve Sherman, he created Etrigan the Demon by riffing off a scene in Prince Valiant where the protagonist disguises himself as one. Scioli’s grid darts from inspiration or conversation to penciled page and then success. (Or sometimes failure) However, that success is undercut by the exploitation that is a running theme throughout the comic, and it’s almost cathartic when the Ruby-Spears animators treat Kirby reverently as he works on the Thundarr the Barbarian cartoon.

Tom Scioli’s most visually compelling sequences in Jack Kirby are the portrayal of his war days where he acted as a scout going through enemy territory and using his talents that he previously lent to Captain America or Boy Commandos to maps of Nazi positions. There’s the uncertainty of the early days of training in Georgia and hiding out in buildings in France before being immediately drawn into combat during the heady post D-Day battles. Scioli’s bright or neutral palette goes dark or red as he realizes that his unit is basically on a suicide mission, and this tension continues to Kirby’s days as a scout with lots of lots of scarlet when he kills Nazis with a knife taken from an SS officer. It’s not dynamic and powerful like Jack Kirby’s superhero action stories; it’s just war. Kirby was just fighting to stay alive for another day and get home to see his wife, Roz. The most searing scene of all is when Kirby helps liberate a concentration camp, and Scioli draws a survivor like a living skeleton.

Kirby’s resistance towards fascism from basically telling the German American Bund that he would beat their asses if they showed up at Timely’s (Later Marvel) offices before World War II to his actions during the war and finally through some of his comics like Nick Fury and The Losers, which were based on his military service and the Fourth World saga, which was about freedom and resisting tyranny on a larger more epic level that would influence later creators like George Lucas. (Jack and Roz Kirby watching Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back together in theaters is one of the comic’s most smile inducing moments.) These Star Wars sequences are one of many ways that Tom Scioli looks at the bigger picture of the comics industry, pop culture, and current events to add background color and context to Jack Kirby’s life and work. For example, a depiction of JFK’s assassination immediately bleeds into Mr. Fantastic lying as if dead on the ground as part of Kirby’s big Hulk vs Thing epic in Fantastic Four. He immediately turned his emotions about this tragic event into great art.

Look Inside The Epic Life of the King of Comics and See the Early ...

In a more of an inside baseball way (And honestly, the comics industry of the Golden and Silver Ages is begging to be turned into a Mad Men-esque prestige TV show.), Tom Scioli traces the relationships between Jack Kirby and various comics industry figures over the years. Obviously, Stan Lee takes up most of the space, but there are also some smaller moments like Kirby having a friendly relationship with Bob Kane as yet another freelancer for the Eisner/Iger studio to seeing him as arrogant and obnoxious or the tension between him and his various inkers like Vince Colletta (Who showed his DC pages to Marvel staffers), Mike Royer (Who drew Big Barda like Cher and got chewed out), and Joe Sinnott (Who shows up for one panel with Kirby and a Thing cosplayer). Tom Scioli is interested in both the art and commerce side of making comics, and it shines through the loving touches he gives to both Kirby at his drawing table and Kirby in a shouting match with Stan Lee about credits on their books. His prose is zippy, and Jack Kirby’s dry as a bone humor comes out in his dialogue.

Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics is a carefully crafted, appreciative feast of a biographical comic. Tom Scioli cites his sources in the back but focuses more on trying to get in the mind of Jack Kirby and think about how he would react to everything from his parents’ deaths to another guy trying to date Roz or even Stan Lee trying to slyly steal his Mister Miracle concept art to use in Fantastic Four. With Kirby’s expressive eyes as a kind of spirit guide, the book is a heartbreaking, yet empowering experience, and by the end of the book, I thought that not only would this website not exist without Jack Kirby, that I probably wouldn’t either. And now I’m off to actually finish his Fourth World saga!

Story: Tom Scioli Art: Tom Scioli
Story: 9.0 Art: 10.0 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy


Purchase: AmazonKindle

Review: Fantastic Four: Grand Design #2

The history of Marvel’s first family wraps up taking us from Galactus to… the past!?

Story: Tom Scioli
Art: Tom Scioli

Get your copy in comic shops now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
TFAW

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Preview: Fantastic Four: Grand Design #2 (of 2)

Fantastic Four: Grand Design #2 (of 2)

(W) Tom Scioli (A/CA) Tom Scioli
Rated T
In Shops: Nov 27, 2019
SRP: $5.99

AN ALL-NEW STORY TAKING YOU ON A TOUR OF THE FF’S HISTORY!

It’s here! The world’s greatest prestige miniseries concludes in titanic fashion! Writer/artist/colorist/letterer TOM SCIOLI distills the magic of Stan and Jack’s legendary FF run into forty pages of nonstop fun! Featuring Galactus and the Silver Surfer!

Fantastic Four: Grand Design #2 (of 2)

Review: Fantastic Four Grand Design #1 is Sometimes Overwhelming, Sometimes Fun

Fantastic Four Grand Design #1

Tom Scioli is a cartoonist whose works owes almost everything to legendary creator, Jack Kirby, and he gets to pay homage to one of his and Stan Lee’s finest creations in Fantastic Four Grand Design #1. The Fantastic Four don’t even show up as a team (Time travel be damned) until page 14 of the book. Scioli spends the first portion of this extended length comic trying to create a grand cosmic narrative for the Marvel Universe featuring the Krees, Skrulls, Deviants, Eternals, Inhumans, and cities of Attilan, Lemuria, and Atlantis with a side of secret societies and Uatu the Watcher as a POV character in a similar manner to Ed Piskor’s X-Men Grand Design. This prelude is just a foretaste of the overwhelming as a narrative, yet satisfying on a style and individual panel level that this comic is.

Scioli definitely has some storytelling chops and cleverness up his sleeve. He doesn’t start with Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm stealing a rocket to “beat the Reds into space”, but by paralleling the Fantastic Four with the four Celestials that helped accelerate evolution on Earth with a nifty pink, green, yellow, and red color palette. Uatu the Watcher saving Taa (Later Galactus) from the destruction of his planet as his body dissolves and changes form is clearly inspired by the Thing changing from human to monster and is a beautiful meditation on divine intervention. In the early going, the comic also has a nice structure with one page, almost Sunday comic strips introducing major cast members like the Fantastic Four as well as supporting cast members like the Inhumans, Namor, Dr. Doom, and even Black Panther.

However, after these character introductions, the FF’s origin, and some strong storytelling showing how Fantastic Four went from a monster to a superhero comic (It’s all about the branding.), Fantastic Four Grand Design #1 becomes an episodic, 20+ panels on a page mess. Tom Scioli has the cram 46 issues of comics into 21 pages, and he includes each and every villain battle and plot development before ending the first issue on the great, logical cliffhanger of right before the Galactus Trilogy. (The little appearances of Silver Surfer are majestic so far, and I can’t wait to see Scioli’s take on Kirby krackle and the way he moves through the cosmos.)

Tom Scioli does nail the dysfunctional family dynamic, and his Invisible Girl and Namor have some searing chemistry, but the lack of transitions once he hits the “Fantastic Four go on adventures” part is overwhelming. For example, Daredevil shows up in the middle of a battle, and he is neither introduced or commented on as he just disappears once the brawl is over. Scioli pummels readers with plot summaries from the past, but with a fun art style and better one-liners than Stan Lee. His Thing is sassy as hell when he’s not being used as a plot device. In general, Scioli’s characterization is up and down as he joins the long list of creators to fail at making the Inhumans likable with the exception of Crystal’s West Side Story type relationship with Johnny Storm plus Lockjaw being his adorable self.

Tom Scioli shows his clear reverence for Marvel’s Silver Age comics, especially the work of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, in Fantastic Four Grand Design #1 with his powerful figure work, far out colors, and soap opera on speed plotting. He uses the beginning of the comic to try to place the Fantastic Four in an, er, grander cosmic narrative, but it all falls apart by the end. With its 20+ panel pages coupled with high attention to detail on each panel, Fantastic Four Grand Design is more hyper-caffeinated history level than an enjoyable comic, and honestly, would have worked better as a page a day webcomic in the vein of Scioli’s previous creator-owned work than a traditional floppy.

Story: Tom Scioli Art: Tom Scioli
Story: 6.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Fantastic Four: Grand Design #1

The Fantastic Four get the “Grand Design” treatment taking us through Marvel history before Marvel’s first family formed to just before Galactus.

Story: Tom Scioli
Art: Tom Scioli

Get your copy in comic shops and book stores now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
Kindle/comiXology
TFAW

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Preview: Fantastic Four: Grand Design #1 (of 2)

Fantastic Four: Grand Design #1 (of 2)

(W) Tom Scioli (A/CA) Tom Scioli
Rated T
In Shops: Oct 30, 2019
SRP: $5.99

Because you demanded it! The bestselling GRAND DESIGN franchise continues with Marvel’s First Family! Brought to you by critically-acclaimed cartoonist TOM SCIOLI (GODLAND, TRANSFORMERS VS. GI JOE) in the sole-authorship tradition made famous by ED PISKOR’S X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN trilogy! Join the Watcher and witness how it all began… Plus appearances by your faves: Doctor Doom! Black Panther! Namor! Galactus! Mole Man! The Inhumans!

Fantastic Four: Grand Design #1 (of 2)

Preview: Go-Bots Vol. 1 TPB

Go-Bots Vol 1 TPB

Tom Scioli (w,a & c)

A new spin on classic action-figure nostalgia bursts off the page in this inventive nod to the titans of golden age comics. They say they’re here to help us, but are they here to replace us? A modern sci-fi epic updating the story of the classic 1980s toy line, from the mind that brought you Transformers vs. G.I. Joe and American Barbarian.

TPB • FC • 128 pages • ISBN: 978-1-68405-474-9

Go-Bots Vol 1 TPB
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