Tuesday, January 11, 2022

2021 “Primal Force” fanfic commission art by Brad Green

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Spinning out from “Lords of the Ultra-Realm” and continuing along similar lines as “Justice League Extreme #1”, I got so jazzed about playing with DC's obscure and unfamiliar sword & sorcery characters that I ask to expand to a diptych. Since I was more or less doing a comics adaptation of the Warlord toy line with the first one, this was a lot less formed of an idea. I hadn't realized when I made the ask that the artist wasn't even advertising commissions at the time, and I here I was asking for two without having a clear idea of exactly who I'd even want.

Thankfully, Brad Green put up with my nonsense (again) and delivered another dynamic piece (again again.) The main reason I wanted to do this was because I was so impressed with Beowulf's 1970s design, and I knew Anj would love to see the Dragon Slayer again. I was such a pain about art direction on the first commission that I tried to keep quiet this time, but I was pleased that Green recognized the same aesthetic appeal and fore-fronted the dude.

I kind of robbed Claw the Unconquered and skewed the premise, but I just really prefer John Chan's design over Valcan Scaramax's Conan repaint. I also was reliant on prexisting logos for the project, and Primal Force was a great fit. The Asian representation was a bonus, but more so, Green threw so much into Claw (especially his sick namesake extremity) that I'd argue this is the best drawing of the character ever. The original Starfire checked a lot of the same boxes, including stretching the gag, but I think including her just enriched it with the Moorcock vibe her co-creator David Michelinie strove for in connecting her to Star Hunters and Claw.

Stalker #1 was one of the first comics I ever owned, so this was my greatest sentimental favorite. Between the two pieces, I also got to revisit a bunch of characters I'd been tantalized with by the 1983 DC Sampler, so Arion helped to round out the lot. Aside from an insane artistic rookie season that included a young Bernie Wrightson, I never had much in for Nightmaster, but his premise and swordcraft sure fit this scene. The only real oddball is Anima, but her dual nature and dark fantasy ties kept drawing me to use her. She weirdly fits here, and with the Marvel Family, another player in my premise. She's even kind of a Johnny Thunder revamp, and you may have noticed that I have a spot for New Bloods.

I continue to admire Brad Greens ability to not only balance out bunches of diverse (and conversely somewhat repetitive) characters, but to find ways to give each their own spotlight while doing things that are visually interesting. Five of these people have swords, but they're all swinging in different directions, striking unique poses, telling you a bit about themselves as individuals. I like to change things up and work with different artists, but when Ive got the opportunity to get a piece from someone this good, it's hard to pass that up!

Brad Green & Company

Monday, December 27, 2021

2021 “Lords of the Ultra-Realm” fanfic commission art by Brad Green

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Continuing along similar lines as “Justice League Extreme #1”, I asked digital artist Brad Green to produce another mock cover to promote a fanfic figment of mine. This time I wanted to Enter the Lost World of The Warlord, the cheap knock-off Masters of the Universe figures produced exclusively for K-Mart by Remco Toys that I loved as a kid. Several characters from Mike Grell's Skartaris were assigned to me for Who’s Editing #14: No Man Escapes the Editors, so I went whole hog and involved the entire line (even The Warrior Beasts.)

I've got to be honest, from personal experience, I usually hire African-American artists to draw Black characters because other artists seem to struggle with that subject. Thankfully, Green does not have that problem, as he accurately and attractively rendered Bloodwynd and now Machiste. The warrior-king is featured prominently here, with lush rendering in the muscles that recalls the Philippine artists responsible for most of these Frazetta-type titles the the '70s & '80s. He ended up being a pivotal figure in my story, the leader of the group, so I'm glad that was reflected here.

Next we have a lovely Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, who was not in the toy line. However, she was slated to star in one of her own in the mid-80s, until She-Ra, Princess of Power stole her thunder. So besides adding some gender representation, her inclusion is also a nod to what could have been. A shredded Travis Morgan, namesake of the line, is my favorite of the figures present.

I was tempted to use the short-lived Mohawk Arak Red-Hand from when I was introduced to him in the DC Sampler. Green favored the more classic visage of the Son of Thunder from the toy line, plus I ended up using his lookalike descendant Arak Wind-Walker in the story, so it was all to the good. We get a huge Hercules Unbound, and where some would have wanted the ornate late-series redesign by Walt Simonson, I favored the earlier José Luis Garcia-Lopez/Wally Wood look. Finally, one of my all-time favorite toys was named for Mikola Rostov, but the had little in common. I was sorely tempted to send Green toy reference, but that wouldn't have been a remotely accurate take on the comic character, and I felt like that would be too much of a liberty with the premise.

I needed logos for my project, and it made sense to recycle DC IP. I always thought Lords of the Ultra-Realm looked metal and had boss house ads. As research, I finally read the mini-series, and even did write-ups for Comic Vine. It wasn't great, but the premise was very promising, so I borrowed liberally from it for this project. Seeing Green's presentation art shape up really got me jazzed, and as usual, he did an excellent job with the illustration. It was so nice, in fact, that I asked him twice. That's a story for next week, though...

Brad Green

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

DC Special Podcast: DK Encyclopedia Diaries 10

Volume X
The Drunken Guide To The Characters Of The DC Universe

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A
Aztek 10

H
Harvest 9

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Legion Lost (New 52) 9

R
The Ravagers 16

S
Superboy (Conner "Kon-El" Kent) 12

T
Teen Titans 7
Teen Titans (New 52) 22


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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

DC Special Podcast: DK Encyclopedia Diaries 9

Volume VIII
The Drunken Guide To The Characters Of The DC Universe

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A
Asmodel 26

L
Legion of Super-Heroes 1


S
Superboy 0


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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

DC Special Podcast: DK Encyclopedia Diaries 8

Volume VIII
The Drunken Guide To The Characters Of The DC Universe

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A
Arkham Asylum / Mr. Zsasz 1
The Atom (Golden Age) 9
The Atom (Silver Age) 3
The Atom (Modern Age) 26
Atomica 27
The Combine 11
Haywire (Steven Majorski)15
White Lotus 18


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Monday, August 23, 2021

2021 “Justice League Extreme #1” fanfic commission art by Brad Green

About a year ago, our friend Siskoid started a new podcast called Who's Editing, a thought experiment "in which Siskoid and his guest... open an issue of Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe and imagine a line of books based solely (and obligatorily) on the heroes found within." I've been said guest on one occasion (with more to come;) coloring within the lines there and early on. However, after a few editions, I found the novelty of participating in the premise on a regular basis wearing off, as I wanted to play more with the continuity of the given characters, rather than focusing on the elevator pitch aspect. So my own personal comments-only side game, essential scrawling unwanted graffiti on the bathroom walls of Siskoid's forum, became less Who's Who and more DC Challenge. Basically, I slowly developed an overarching narrative for a theoretical ongoing line of books under my editorial stewardship, communicated through fake solicitation copy from a Previews-style order catalog, incorporating typically several variations on the concepts offered in each sequential issue of Who's Who. Unlike Who's Editing, it involves all the entry concepts, not just the heroes, and I put an emphasis on New 52/Rebirth continuity from the past decade, because that's my biggest DC Comics blind spot. It's way more interesting to research stuff that's unfamiliar, and to find ways of incorporating counterintuitive/unpopular elements.

The Justice League edition, "Volume XII," was of particular interest to me. Part of the core premise for "my" universe was that the JLA had been killed in a Boom Tube incident during a major conflict between Apokolips and New Genesis. Since the demise of the League was the tipping point for all the circumstances in my meta-narrative, the arrival of a new League twelve volumes in would presumably be a big deal. In one of the few moments of planning well in advance, I knew that I wanted to deny a typical changing of the guard member rotation. The roster has been reshuffled so many times for real that doing it on something with no rules lacked ambition. I felt like you had to do something dynamic with the premise, as well. I didn't even want to have a book with the title of "Justice League." While I semi-backslid on both of those plans, with The Satellite League being a revival of the Bronze Age interpretation of the JLA, and feeling the need to expand on the '90s Extreme Justice title to include the word "League," but I'm still happy with the twists I have in mind.

In the case of "Justice League Extreme," I hit on the notion that if I was going to replace the JLA, why not literally staff the team with infamous replacements of the classic League from "The Dark Age of Comics?" To my knowledge, it had never been done before, despite most of these temporary stand-ins being active around the same time in the early-to-mid nineties. That was actually the foreseeable problem, because many of these characters were tied to specific storylines and periods, often bearing temporary looks, rarely drawn by the same artists or together. I could copy and paste preexisting images into a Chromium Colorforms group shot, but in the hyperstylized EXTREME '90s they would obviously be visually at odds, unnaturally posed, and require tons of reference/paint work. Thanks to the pandemic, I haven't gotten many art commissions over the past two years, and thanks to my paranoia, I'd rather not have any shipped to my home by mail. I'd considered fully digital art in the past, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity to explore that avenue on a project where the lack of physical art would be beneficial. No way could I get a quality seven-figure drawing from one artist over a convention weekend for a reasonable price. In digital, with a reasonable time frame, at an agreeable per-negotiated rate, would be vastly preferable.

Unfortunately, being a jackass, I lollygagged for at least half a year between realizing what I wanted to do and actively pursuing it. Via an online service, I browsed through dozens of available artists, but the clear favorite for this project was Brad Green. Not to be cutting, but the only people still drawing in a "90's style" were either period superstars with outrageous quotes or, y'know, objectively bad at art. I wanted a modern (also good) artist who could evoke the excitement of the nineties and render all those (literally) edgy looks, but without turning it into a pastiche. I also wanted someone with the aesthetic of American super-hero work, who could juggle seven figures in kinetic poses that could look like a legitimate offering from a major publisher in 2021. Brad Green was my only choice that checked every single box, and the only artist I contacted, so I'm really glad that he was game.

Among the four Supermen that arrived after "Doomsday," Steel had been a part of the Morrison/Porter JLA alongside the electric blue Superman, while The Eradicator was in the Outsiders. Cyborg Superman was revealed almost immediately to be evil, so the only team he ever joined was the Sinestro Corps. "The Metropolis Kid" grew into the Post-Crisis Superboy for over 100 solo issues and serving on numerous teen teams. Eradicator felt the most appropriate for the theme here, but I'd forgotten about the plan when I abused and disposed of him earlier on. It worked out though, because no one character could encompass "Reign of the Superman," so I now had an excuse to do a mash-up of most of them, with a New 52 spin to boot. "Do Eradicator but make him Cyborg" is a pretty lousy bit of art direction, but Green killed it with the mingled elements and the cool exagerated arm (then topped himself with the glowing energy effect.)

Green Lantern was the easiest choice for this piece. I could have reached from some obscurity out of the quarterly anthology, or brought back Warrior, but in truth Kyle Rayner was the most successful '90s replacement. He revitalized the franchise and was its champion for over a decade, until DC seemingly sabotaged him in pursuit of restoring Hal Jordan after thoroughly assassinating his character. While the subject of some fan debate, I personally love Rayner's original Darryl Banks design, but I understand that many hate it and find it hard to draw. Brad Green had no such issues, at least from my view of his results. Sadly, I'd forgotten about having written a first draft of the "Extreme Justice" copy with Kyle as the Omega Lantern, to acknowledge the modern White Lantern trajectory of the character. The design still sings, but more so with the green, and I was a jerk for asking Green to change the colors after he'd already done the flats. He still made it work though, and even added a neat energy effect.

Dark Flash was the toughest choice for this piece. Wally West was the earliest replacement out of the gate, in the '80s, and was a conservative standard-bearer. Nothing much "extreme" about that. Wally had been replaced by Bart Allen, but that was a blip, and then again by Barry Allen, the guy he had himself replaced. All wore the same essential costume. I toyed with using minor future Flash John Fox, but his suit is hideous, and he was as much of an uninspiring reach as my other candidates. I finally landed on the short-lived grimdark alternate future Walter West, who at least looked good, though his stint had negligible impact in comparison to these near-contemporaries. Smartly, Brad Green focused a lot of attention on the Scarlet Speedster, from his foreground positioning in a "flashy" running pose to his determined expression and probably the heaviest concentration of rad crosshatching of any hero. Would could have been a (forgive me) also-ran is instead a highlight of the piece.

Brad Green could have stopped work at several points in this process and I would have been perfectly content with the result. There was a finished "pencils" stage with a lot of rough energy squiggles and loose cape outlines that already exceeded my best hopes going in. The figures were already extremely well balanced, detailed and numerous without feeling crowded or static. Green wasn't satisfied though, redrawning Artemis from scratch, one draft leaving her hair and costume details in blue-line sketch form. That one was then "inked" into a final draft with a digital background, and I was done. No further work needed. I'm happy. Another time, all the colors were flats and Kyle Rayner was still a Green Lantern. I still feel bad asking him to change that so late in the game, but he made it work regardless. We ran out of time and I tweeted and linked to a version that still had some flats as the version married to the "blurb" posting. Again, I was done, and said so, but the artist wasn't. He added more tones, muted the debris to emphasize the figures, added energy effects... he just kept at it until he had a piece that DC should be so lucky as to publish themselves. I hope he runs off some prints to sell at shows. I'd buy one even if I hadn't had a hand in its creation. These results are absolutely glorious, I'm bowled over by how excellently this turned out, and it was an absolute steal to boot. I'm so giddy with this piece that I want to do more in digital for this project. For variety, I'll probably try out some different artists and approaches, but I'll actively seek out more opportunities to work with Green again. I doubt I'll ever come up with anything else this demanding, but I don't need to in order to appreciate the pleasures of his style and careful craftsmanship. I can't recommend him highly enough for your own prospective commissions!

“Justice League Extreme #1” by Brad Green

Friday, August 20, 2021

DC Films Special Podcast: Suicide Squad: Task Force X-Tra

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Meanwhile... Mr. Fixit, Fry-Hole, Illegal Machine, & Diabolu Frank (Waller released Pekita) go on a side mission of stuff that didn't fit in the movie podcast for time and content. In a sequel to our Batman: Assault on Arkham, Suicide Squad (2016) and The Suicide Squad (2021) episodes, we talk about Fryhole & Fixit's exposure to the team in comics, the DC Universe Animated Original Movies Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay (2018) & Batman: Soul of the Dragon (2021), the soundtrack of the new film, the ill-fated lesser cinematic Squad members, Marvel's X-Statix, the absence of Dave Bautista and Brendan Fraser(?!?), critical reception versus box office, and the future of the DCEU (again?!?)

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Sunday, August 15, 2021

DC Films Special Podcast: Warner Bros.’ The Suicide Squad (2021)

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Meanwhile... Illegal Machine, Fry-Hole, Mr. Fixit, Pekita Trotamundos, & Diabolu Frank have been blackmailed by The Wall into a second tour with Task Force X! We cover the new DCEU movie with a bomb planted in its neck by James Gunn starring Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, & more!

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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

DC Special Podcast: DK Encyclopedia Diaries 7

Volume V
The Drunken Guide To The Characters Of The DC Universe

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Baron Bedlam 2
Bizarro 8
Black Alice 10
Black Canary 11
Black Condor 23
Blackhawk (Bart Hawk) 29


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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

DC Special Podcast: DK Encyclopedia Diaries 6

Volume V
The Drunken Guide To The Characters Of The DC Universe

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B
Batman 14
Batwoman 12
Big Barda & the New Gods19
Baytor 19

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The Flash (Jay Garrick) 1

J
The Joker 21

R
Rag Doll 4


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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

DC Special Podcast: Warner Bros.’ Zack Snyder's Justice League's DC's Murderverse (2021)

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Meanwhile... Illegal Machine, Mr. Fixit, & Diabolu Frank talk about the four hours of appeasement to a toxic fandom and/or AT&T's opportunistic grift trading false hopes of #RestoreTheSnyderVerse to bump soft HBO Max subscriber numbers in a pandemic. Cards on the table, we all liked both versions of Justice League, but that won't stop the shade or temper the sizzling hot takes. Equal opportunity offense is our stock-in-trade, and business is good. Both sides can eat a big fat di--rector's (un)cut. #Justice4SilasStone

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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

DC Special Podcast: DK Encyclopedia Diaries 5

Volume V
The Drunken Guide To The Characters Of The DC Universe

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A
Aquaman 11
Arion 19
Atlan 24

B
Bad Samaritan / The New Age of DC Heroes / The Unexpected 3
Baron Blitzkrieg 16
Baron Winters 23
Blackbriar Thorn 24

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Fourth World 1


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Friday, January 1, 2021

DC Special Podcast: Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

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Meanwhile... Illegal Machine & Mr. Fixit, the guys from The Marvel Super Heroes Podcast, talk to & around Diabolu Frank of the Diana Prince: Wonder Woman podcast as they yack about the latest prequel to the DC Extended Universe for over three hours. At least as overextended as the actual movie, then. It was recorded across five hours on New Year's Eve, so you can hear fireworks popping throughout. Poetic or annoying?

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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

DC Special Podcast: HBO Max

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Meanwhile... Diabolu Frank & Mr. Fixit (with tiny snippets of Mac) discuss the DC Universe app transitioning into HBO Max over a span of months and increasing coronavirus impact. Includes final pre-release talk of Zack Snyder's Justice League cut, Wonder Woman 1984 and The Suicide Squad.

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Thursday, November 5, 2020

DC Special Podcast: DK Encyclopedia Diaries 4

 

Volume IV
The Drunken Guide To The Characters Of The DC Universe

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Azrael 4
Azrael (Jean-Paul Valley) 15

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Babe 21
Bat Lash 26

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Legion of Super-Heroes 7

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New Teen Titans / "Titans Hunt" 2


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