Crowdfunded Comics that deserve more attention: Drawing Blood

Normally this blog is reserved for obscure, small time artists and creators looking to fund a project that would have a very difficult time getting attention from a major publisher.  That’s the spirit in which sites like Kickstarter were created and it’s a spirit that we appreciate and aspire to.

However, today is the day where we attempt to sell out in a blatant attempt to gain more views and popularity.

Today we’re looking at a project called Drawing Blood.  It’s a biographical graphic novel detailing the rise and fall of a humble comic book creator named Shane Bookman.  The project is headed by Kevin Eastman, David Avallone, and Ben Bishop.

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As of the time of writing the project has already reached over $40,000 of it’s $75,000 goal and ends in 24 days.

Kickstarter link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2073065927/kevin-eastmans-drawing-blood-vol-1-a-graphic-novel/description

Why I like it

I like it because it’s a biography about indie comic book legend Shane Bookman and his journey from the highest highs of success to the lowest lows of fame and fortune.

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What, you’re telling me that you’ve never heard of Shane Bookman?  The creator of the 1992 hit comic “Radically Rearranged Ronin Ragdolls”?

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You know, the comic that started off as a darkly humorous parody of the grim and gritty comic books of the time and was spun off into a merchandise and tv empire that remains a pop culture phenomenon to this day?  In fact, it was so successful that there are rumors there will be a big budget action movie produced by some super Hollywood director named Daniel Flay, who really likes explosions and movie series with a seemingly infinite number of sequels.

Ok, so you probably know that Shane Bookman doesn’t exist.  In fact, those of you in the know probably recognized what this project actually is when you saw who was creating it.

For those of you who don’t know, Kevin Eastman is one of the co creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,

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You know, the comic that started off as a darkly humorous parody of the grim and gritty comic books of the time and was spun off into a merchandise and tv empire that remains a pop culture phenomenon to this day and has been turned into another Michael Bay reboot that will probably churn out sequels until the day we die.

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Drawing Blood was created to be a fictitious, semi autobiographical, darkly comedic look at the creation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the rise and fall of a great artist.  It looks like it’s going to be grim, dark, violent, and promises to go behind the scenes of the creation of one of the most famous and popular comics of recent memory.

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I love this sort of stuff.  Call me weird but there are few things more satisfying than watching a success story pan out with all the trials, tribulations, thrills, chills, and potential for violence.

Why you should donate

Because being a comic book creator is hard, and while a select few creators do get to enjoy the fruits of their labor and create characters and stories that are enjoyed by millions of people,

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there are hundreds, if not thousands more men and women who put their heart and soul into their work and got screwed out of their righteously deserved credit.

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Ok sure, Alan Moore isn’t the best example but when it comes to talking about creators getting nothing for their work (although while he has made a lot of money you could make a strong case for him getting shafted by watching Hollywood butcher some of his greatest work like V for Vendetta and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) but the comic book world is a special case when it comes to the discussion of creator’s rights and credit.

In the very beginning comic book artists and writers didn’t own anything they created.  Their work belonged to the companies that employed them and the only money many o them would see from their creations would be the page rate they received on a work for hire basis.

This is why legends such as Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster,

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who created the iconic Superman had to sue Warner Brothers in the 1970’s for the credit and recognition they justly deserved, and why Shuster died in debt.

The struggle of the creator for the rights and recognition to their work is a long and often tragic tale and it’s problems are still being worked out and argued over today.

Some creators, such as the founders of of Image Comics,

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have made it possible for creators to have greater control over their work and how it’s used, but it’s still a sensitive and complex issue that’s still being talked about.

I bring all this up because I think that a project like Drawing Blood is important to this discussion.  Audiences see the end result of the hard work and sacrifice that goes into creating stories and characters, but not a lot of people pay attention to the stuff that really goes on behind the scenes.

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Sometimes the creation of a story is just as import as the actual story itself, and if a project like Drawing Blood can draw more attention to the world behind the story than it is a story worth reading.

Kickstarter link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2073065927/kevin-eastmans-drawing-blood-vol-1-a-graphic-novel/description

Golden Age Showcase: Labor Day special

Happy Labor Day everyone!

For our non American readers Labor Day is an American holiday where we celebrate the social and economic achievements of the American worker by taking the first Monday of September off to celebrate the end of summer and eat even more than we should.

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In all seriousness though, Labor Day was created in honor of the American worker in 1882, during a time when American labor was going through something of a rough patch involving quite a few labor strikes and even more strike breakers.

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It was an important time in American history and I strongly encourage anyone who reads this to look into it further.

But we’re not here to talk about labor politics, we’re here to talk about Golden Age superheroes.  And what better day than Labor Day to talk about the big blue Boy Scout of comics, the one who made it all possible, and the one who everyone looks up to.

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Origin and career

Do you really need me to explain the origin story of Superman?

Okay, really quick for anyone who doesn’t know:  Superman is an alien, his planet blows up but not before his father sends him away on a rocket ship just before the planet explodes.

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After crash landing on Earth, the baby boy is taken in by a loving family in the middle of Kansas and adopts the persona of mild mannered Clark Kent.

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He becomes a newspaper reporter and dedicates his life and powers to uphold the idea of

Truth, Justice, and the American Way

See, one thing that might be a bit off putting to comic book readers who are used to  lot of moral ambiguity and complexity in their stories is just how sincere that phrase was in the early Superman comics.  The character of Superman was created by childhood friends Jerry Siegel and Joel Shuster.

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They were two first generation Jewish immigrants who fervently believed in the idea that America was the promised land of opportunity and was a chance for anyone to make a life for themselves regardless of race, religion, or creed.  Superman was created to be the embodiment of that ideal.

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However, while America was the land of opportunity for many, there were still quite a few problems that had to be sorted out.  Superman was created in a time when the food lines and horrific unemployment of the Great Depression was still fresh in everyone’s mind

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Europe and Asia were undergoing massive and terrifying social, political, and military changes.

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and there were many people who believed that the American dream should only be limited to those where worthy and racially pure enough to deserve it.

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As a result, Superman had to fight for his existence in his new adopted home and fight for it he did.  Thankfully, Superman was gifted with extraordinary abilities of strength, speed, and durability.

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These gifts allowed him to wage a one man crusade on behalf of the common people and against anyone who sought to undermine the welfare of the common man in order to preserve their own selfish interests.  And protect the common man he did, in the very first issue he brings a wife beater to jail

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Saves a woman from a death row execution

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And sends a terrified corrupt politician to jail by walking across a telephone wire leaping from incredible heights

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It should be noted that the Golden Age Superman was kind of an asshole.

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But his original purpose still stood.  Superman was the great hero for the times, a tireless social crusader who campaigned for the rights of the common man against anyone who would take advantage of someone less powerful than themselves.

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So what happened?

Time.  Time happened.

Let’s be perfectly clear here, Superman never died.  He’s one of only two superheroes (the other being Batman) who survived the superhero dead zone of the 1950’s due to his massive popularity, even becoming the first superhero to appear on television.

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Despite everything that was going on in post war America people still gravitated towards the idea of Superman because he was above all else, a good man.

With that said, while Superman remain unchanged that didn’t mean the times changed around him.  The 1960’s saw the rise of Marvel Comics and the Silver Age.

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Comics became more focused on two things.  First there was an emphasis on science fiction and the fantastic adventures many of these heroes could go through.

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And more importantly, the Stan Lee led Marvel Comics introduced the idea that superheroes didn’t just have to be gods among men, the could be normal flawed humans just like us.

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These new ideas were the complete opposite of Superman’s original purpose but the massive popularity of these ideas resulted in several changes to the character that took him away from the original vision.  Not only was Superman incredibly overpowered and boring, but distrust in the American government in recent decades even resulted in Superman renouncing his American citizenship.

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Bear in mind, the ideas that Superman stands for are still there.  He’s still an incredibly powerful individual who stands up for those who cannot defend themselves, it’s just a little bit different and usually on a much larger scale.

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In my own personal opinion there are still some fantastic Superman stories out there, and one of the best is Grant Morrison’s All Star Superman.

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I won’t go into details, you can read it on your own if your curious, but if you ask me the reason why this story is so great is because Grant Morrison gets Superman better than almost anyone in the past couple of decades.  Superman was created as an incredibly powerful being who stands against oppression, tyranny, and despair on behalf of the common people and at his core, he still stands for that.

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