Archive for ‘Blog’


The Reviews Are In…

Frequent commenter, Rodney Blackwell aka “Rodbuddah,” just posted a review of WORLD OF HURT on his website, Planetgriffin.blogspot.com.

My first review. 

I HAVE ARRIVED!

Make sure y’all check out Planet Griffin, and not just for the great review of  “The Internet’s #1 Blaxploitation Webcomic.” 

So what’s Planet Griffin like, you ask?  Is it any good? 

“Is it any good?”  Is an elephant heavy?  Is pig pork?  Of course it’s good! 

Rodbuddah really holds it down for the old school and genre movies and comics over there.  His site was the first place I saw the teaser poster from Stallone’s new movie, The Expendables (which every action fan should be highly, highly anticipating), but I most enjoyed Rodbuddah’s post on “The Next 100.”    It’s a really nice wake up call for the comic book industry and a solid manifesto for aspiring cartoonists out there.  It also nicely encapsulates why WORLD OF HURT is here in the first place.

I’ll see you all tomorrow with the next installment of The Thrill-Seekers.

- JEP

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History of the “WORLD” : Part I

I’m a real process junkie.  I love to see how artists work and will take any chance I can get to peer up under the hood to see how different artists get their creative engines to run.  So I thought I’d do an occasional post to share some my own process with you.  This one is a little more on the writer side than the pencil artist side, which is ironic, since I actually prefer the latter.

When I first started working on WORLD OF HURT, its original working title was “My Hands Are My Weapons.”   Actually, the ONLY thing I had was the title, I just had to find a story to go with it. 

I played with a few ideas before something started to coalesce around the basic Blaxploitation concept.   My initial idea for a strip in that vein could be summed up with the elevator pitch, “John Shaft and Bandit from Smokey And The Bandit, driving around and kicking ass.”  The basic outline of the character “Pastor” and his buddy “McCroy” emerged from that brainstorm.  Strangely enough, I couldn’t come up with any decent plots to work around that concept.  Fortunately, in a bit of serendipity, the Muse of Face-Kicking and Vehicular Carnage visited a couple of other guys at the same time, and they actually knew how to listen to her (Come to think of it, she may live at Chris’ house).  I worked with them for a while, and believe me, they’ll do a much better job with it than I ever could.  Also, I didn’t necessarily want to use the “Black Guy and White Guy Buddy Team” Paradigm.  At the time, Image Comics was publishing ‘76, a miniseries set in 1976 (natch) that featured two separate, unrelated stories, “Jackie Karma” and “Cool.”  Both stories featured a BGAWGBT, so that made it an easier choice to leave McCroy by the side of the road. 

My Hands Are My Weapons went through a few more permutations before I settled on what I thought would work: a pastiche of Blaxploitation and kung fu movies.  As the title implies, Pastor was going to be a master street fighter, well versed in the down-and-dirty and more esoteric forms of martial arts, so he would never use a gun.  Then, I ran into a few problems:

1)  I wanted to keep the strip more realistic than fantasy-oriented, so I didn’t want to strain the audiences’ suspension of disbelief by having Pastor beat impossible odds with kung fu alone.  This realization sunk in while I was watching Three The Hard Way, a later entry into the Blaxploitation genre, featuring Fred Williamson, Jim Brown and Jim Kelly.  Each actor is given a solo action set piece, which are all well done, but when the three tough guys get together at the end to storm the enemy compound, Kelly looks a little silly sneaking around dispatching his gun-wielding opponents with throwing stars and spinning back kicks while Williamson and Brown are hosing everyone down with automatic weapons fire.  At one point, an exasperated Brown pretty much thrusts a gun into Kelly’s hands and tells him to stop being so stupid.  I’m not saying Pastor always comes strapped.  Most of the time he still won’t use a gun.  Which leads me to my second problem.

2)  Once I settled on the idea of Pastor collecting favors as payment, he evolved into a strategic thinker, not just a fighter.  Of course Pastor knows how to handle himself in a scrap, but he tries to stay a step ahead of everyone, friends and enemies alike.  If that’s the case, are his hands really his primary weapon?

3)  Although I know, understand, and have a great affection for Blaxploitation movies, I only had a passing knowledge of kung fu flicks.  The kung fu fanbase can be as rabid as any subset of genre fans, so I didn’t want to fake it, for fear of RZA riding down with Method Man and the ghost of Ol’ Dirty Bastard to empty 36 Chambers into my skull.

My problem was that I thought I had a pretty nifty title and I was determined to shoehorn in a story to fit it.  Here’s a tip to all you creative types out there – Don’t do that.  It only creates massive headaches.

By the way, if you know anyone looking to buy the domain name myhandsaremyweapons.com, drop me a line.  I know someone who can give you a good deal on it.

- JEP


The Unsung Bad Mother****** Awards!

Welcome to the first, in what will become a recurring segment of WORLDOFHURTONLINE.COM, The Unsung Badmother******* Awards!

The Unsung Badmotherf****** Award recognizes Outstanding Achievements In The Field of Badassery Deserving Wider Recognition.  The Unsung Badmother****** is the guy who made a splash and kicked some ass, but remains largely forgotten by the masses.

The UBMF Award is named after the oft-quoted moment in the “Theme from Shaft” when Isaac Hayes is abruptly interrupted by his backup singers before he can fully extol the badass virtues of his man, Shaft.  If people remember nothing else about the movie “Shaft,” or Blaxploitation in general, they remember that line, and it immortalized Hayes and made John Shaft a cinematic icon.

Now, without further ado, I am proud to announce that the first recipient of the coveted Unsung BadMother****** Award is none other than…Avery Brooks as Hawk!  Take a bow, Mr. Brooks.

 

Avery Brooks as Hawk

 

Um…actually, you don’t have to do anything you don’t wanna do.  We still cool?

 

Avery Brooks2

Cool.

Anyway, for those who may not know, Hawk debuted as a literary character in 1976 in “Promised Land,” one of the series of detective novels in the “Spenser” series written by Robert B. Parker.  Spenser, a tough, but smart, Boston private investigator, described Hawk thusly in his first appearance:

Shepard appeared from the door past the stairs. With him was a tall black man with a bald head and high cheekbones.  He had on a powder blue leisure suit and a pink silk shirt with a big collar.  The shirt was unbuttoned to the waist and the chest and stomach that showed were as hard and unadorned as ebony.  He took a pair of wraparound sunglasses from the breast pocket of the jacket and as he put them on, he stared at me over their rims until very slowly the lenses covered his eyes and he stared at me through them.

I looked back.  ”Hawk,” I said.

“Spenser.”

That ensemble sounds atrocious, even by 1976 standards, but only “the toughest muscleman Boston’s big boys could hire” could pull off a pink and powder-blue outfit and STILL seem dangerous.  As the above pull quote from the back cover of the novel indicates, Hawk worked as a freelance enforcer for the mob, but he had a history with Spenser, and would often come over to the side of the angels to assist the private detective.

In 1985, the television network, ABC, brought the “Spenser” novels from the page to the small screen with the series, Spenser: For Hire, with Robert Urich as Spenser and Avery Brooks as Hawk, with a markedly improved sense of fashion.   In Brooks’ depiction of Hawk, he maintained the clean-shaven dome, but he paired it with a goatee, which gave him a sense of devilish menace.  Hawk rocked the Big, Bald, Black Man With A Goatee look long before it became fashionable.  I started shaving my head in ‘91 and I still remember getting strange looks when I walked into Frisch’s Big Boy Restaurant in Fairborn, Ohio.  Now the BBBMWAG look is the default style for every Black tough guy in fiction, particularly comic books.  Heck, even Luke Cage ditched his signature Afro for a BBBMWAG. 

Avery Brooks completely inhabited the role of Hawk.  The man has presence.  He controlled the screen, and politely, but forcefully, walked off with every scene he was in.  If you YouTube Spenser: For Hire, you’ll find a series of clips dedicated to the best moments from the show.  Every single one of them has Hawk.  Every.single.one.

spenser-and-hawk

Brooks' Hawk and Robert Urich as Spenser

Hawk was a man of few words, and Brooks’ delivery of those lines with his precise diction wrapped in a thundering baritone, sold the intensity and conviction behind everything Hawk had to say.  The only thing that boomed louder than Hawk’s voice was the long-barreled .357 Colt Python that Hawk carried with him everywhere he went.  Hawk also was a master of “The Batman Grin.”  

 

The Last Thing You'll See

The Last Thing You'll Ever See

“The Batman Grin” is that brief flash of a smile displayed by an otherwise stoic character that lets his opponent know he is absolutely and irrevocably fucked.  Hawk was a predator, and his smile was rarely a sign of mirth.  He was baring his teeth.  

In 1989, ABC spun Hawk into his own series entitled A Man Called Hawk.  It fit the “One Man With A Mysterious Past and Even More Mysterious Connections, Out For Justice,” theme that I loved so well in my youth.  Some of my favorite shows from the 1980s, like The Equalizer, Airwolf and Street Hawk (No relation, but YEAH, I SAID STREET HAWK!) carried this theme, and I obviously revisited it with WORLD OF HURT.  

 

 

A Man Called Hawk relocated the character from Boston to Washington, D.C..  With the move, Hawk’s fashion sense became a little less “wiseguy legbreaker” and more urban as he transitioned from sharkskin three-piece suits and skinny ties to patterned kufi hats and leather pants.  Although Hawk still worked as a bodyguard from time to time, he mostly left the mob contracts behind to focus on helping the little guy.  Hawk also developed a slightly philosophical edge as evidenced by circuituous, metaphysical conversations with his new confidante “Old Man” played by Shaft and Shaft’s Big Score alum, Moses Gunn. 

The series began as a midseason replacement and only lasted 13 episodes, partly because ABC scheduled A Man Called Hawk on Thursdays opposite the unstoppable juggernaut that was The Cosby Show.  Nobody, not even Hawk, could withstand The Coz.  Hawk’s brief time on the TV landscape is kind of sad, because how many dramatic series featuring a Black male lead can you name in the history of television?  I’ll give you a minute…

OK, I got the Kojak reboot with Ving Rhames and Day Break with Taye Diggs.  Anything else?

However, TV One has snagged the rights to re-air A Man Called Hawk, and on a good day you can catch a Hawk mini-marathon , so make sure to set your DVRs. 

Fortunately, Avery Brooks returned to television in 1993 as Commander – later Captain - Benjamin Sisko in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  Deep Space Nine featured an insane, only-in-science-fiction concept about a planet full of White folks who viewed a Black man as a savior, sent to restore hope and to deliver them from darkness and fear.  They believed his destiny was to return their people to greatness after years spent under the rule of an oppressive, secretive regime.

 

 

Barack Obama Inauguration

 

Sorry, wrong picture.

But, yeah, he’s a Bad Mother******, too.

 

- JEP


No “Justice,” No Peace

You know I like to keep things positive here at WORLDOFHURTONLINE.COM.  Sure, the strip is in the middle of a murder mystery, but I try not to be too negative or overly critical in my blog posts.  WORLDOFHURTONLINE.COM is supposed to be a celebration of a genre, a style, and a moment in time.

But sometimes bullshit has to be called by its name.  Thankfully, Valerie D’Orazio at Occasional Superheroine sums up my thoughts about the matter quite nicely.

As a writer and producer for the animated series, Justice League, which featured some of the best Justice League stories in any form, Mr. McDuffie obviously demonstrated his familiarity with the property.  One would presume that Mr. McDuffie was tasked to bring that same skill, care, and craft to the comic book itself when he was assigned to write Justice League of America by DC Comics.  Mr. McDuffie ran fast and hard with that mandate, but seemed creatively hobbled time and time again by capricious editorial fiat.  Now they act surprised that he said his foot hurt.

- JEP


“This Is Me At My Most Merciful…”

David Carradine, star of "Kill Bill: Vol. 1 & II" and the television series "Kung Fu"

Kill Bill star, David Carradine was found dead today in a Bangkok hotel room , apparently by his own hand.  Very sad. 

The Juice* has more on the story.

R.I.P. David Carradine.

- JEP


Barack-sploitation

In last week’s “Unsung Mother****** Awards!” blog post, I ended with an image of President Barack Obama, and I wanted to make a brief statement regarding the use of President Obama’s image.  Like every African-American…

Clarence Thomas

Like MOST African-Americans, I’m extremely proud that that this nation elected its first Black president, and with some minor criticisms, I’m extremely pleased with the job he’s done to date.  I think the majority of Americans, regardless of their race, faith, or gender share that pride because it was such a historic moment.  This moment belongs to every American, so naturally there would be some some greedy bastards enterprising souls who want to capitalize on President Obama’s popularity by using his image to sell their products.  Comic book publishers are no exception, especially after it became known that Mr. Obama is a bit of a comic book fan.  

A page from"The Obama Story: The Boy With The Biggest Dream."

 

 

This:

 

President Barack Obama meets Ash from Sam Raimi's "Army of Darkness."

"Army of Darkness?" Didn't Obama beat these guys last November?

 

And this:

 

 

Barack The Barbarian?"  Come ON!

"Barack The Barbarian?" Come on!

 

And especially this!  Most ESPECIALLY this:

 

Obama and Rob Liefeld?  Aw, HELL No!  If you were a comic book reader in the '90s, you recognize Liefeld as the embodiment of evil.

Obama drawn by Rob Liefeld? Aw, HELL No! If you survived comic books in the '90s, you're probably breaking out in hives right now.

 

…Has GOT to stop!  ENOUGH!

 

- JEP

 

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Oh great, now they’re dragging Bo the Dog into this mess.  Leave the dog out of it, man!

Bo, too? At long last, sir, have you no decency?

Bo, too? At long last, sir, have you no decency?


OFF-TOPIC MONDAYS: The USS Enterprise Or The Millennium Falcon?

Welcome to a new, semi-recurring feature on WORLDOFHURTONLINE.COM: Off-Topic Mondays.  Occasionally,  I have ideas, questions, or notions that I can’t even tangentially relate to Blaxploitation, and since it would be irresponsible to litter the Intenet landscape with another blog, I came up with Off-Topic Mondays, with all apologies to Gangstarr Girl’s Blaxploitation Friday.  The first entry in the series does kind of deal with the 1970s and genre fiction, but unless you want to have Billy Dee Williams in the captain’s seat, it has absolutely NOTHING to do with Blaxploitation.  Now give me one second to proudly unfurl my geek flag and here we go:

VS.

You’ve got three days to get across the galaxy.  Which would you rather travel in to reach your destination, the flagship of the Federation, the USS Enterprise (pick whichever model you want), or the Corellian freighter, the Millennium Falcon?

Personally, I’d buy a seat on the Millennium Falcon.  I figure it would smell like a curious blend of patchouli, motor oil, curry and wet fur, and I’d guess that your sleeping compartment would be separated from the others by a measly set of beaded curtains, but the trip would be pretty cool.   You probably wouldn’t even make it to your planned destination, but all the fun would be in the journey itself.  Han would tell awesome stories; I’m sure he’d know the best places to stop, eat, and drink along the way (I mean delicious, authentic, ethnic/alien food served at crappy hole-in-the-wall joints); and more than likely, he’d even let you fly the ship for a while.

With the Enterprise, you’d be guaranteed to reach your final port of call, and the crew would be polite and efficient, but the experience would be a little antiseptic.  I’m sure later models of the Enterprise could even replicate a tasty Applebee’s entree for you, if you so desired.  However, even if something interesting happened along the way, you wouldn’t know it, because some well-groomed crew member would hustle you off to your cabin at the first sign of danger, spout some techno-babble by way of explanation, and lock the door behind him on the way out.  Yawn!

Now let the nerd wankery begin!

- JEP


Exit The Dragon

Frequent commenter and WORLDOFHURTONLINE.COM regular, Ramon, pointed out last week that venerable Hong Kong actor, Shih Kien, died last week at the age of 96.  Kien had a long career in film, but I, and most other film buffs in the Western hemisphere, knew him best as the evil Han from the legendary 1973 Bruce Lee film, Enter The Dragon

 Although in a previous post, I stated only a passing familiarity with kung fu movies, Enter The Dragon is the exception.  I know the film quite well, because my older brother Philip,  my cousin Clarence, and I used to make it ritual to watch my uncle’s bootleg, taped-off-HBO-copy of the movie whenever we got together over a holiday break.  Jim Kelly’s comment to Han, once he discovers the evil mastermind’s villainous intentions, “Man, you come straight out of a comic book,” is the inspiration for the name of the ”comic book blog” link tag on this site.

 RIP Shih Kien.

- JEP


Friends and Alliances

Comics Alliance

I was pleased to discover that WORLD OF HURT received a mention at Comics Alliance  today.  Thanks for the shout-out!

Make sure to stop by and give them a visit. 

- JEP


The Unsung Badmother****** Award: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez

Welcome to the latest installment of a recurring feature on WORLDOFHURTONLINE.COM: The Unsung Badmother******* Awards!

The Unsung Badmotherf****** Award recognizes Outstanding Achievements In The Field of Badassery Deserving Wider Recognition.  The Unsung Badmother****** is the guy who made a splash and kicked some ass, but remains largely forgotten by the masses.

The UBMF Award is named after the oft-quoted moment in the “Theme from Shaft” when Isaac Hayes is abruptly interrupted by his backup singers before he can fully extol the badass virtues of his man, Shaft.  If people remember nothing else about the movie “Shaft,” or Blaxploitation in general, they remember that line, and it immortalized Hayes and made John Shaft a cinematic icon.

This month, Brian Cronin of Comic Book Resources.com is running a feature entitled, “Month of Art Stars: Artist’s Choice, ” which celebrates artists who deserve special attention or wider recognition.  The series has a nice hook, wherein instead of offering his own selections, Mr. Cronin has solicited professional comic book artists to choose the artists.

Early entries in the series included lesser-known, but still tremendously gifted artists, but Dave Gibbons, the renowned artist of such works as Watchmen, Give Me Liberty and his own original graphic novel, The Originals, suggested a veteran artist.  The artist in question also happens to be one of my primary artistic inspirations: the one and only Jose Luis Garcia Lopez.    Of course, I felt compelled to weigh in on the comments section-several times-but then I realized, “Hey, I’ve got my own blog, why don’t I link to the article?“  Then I thought, “Hey, why don’t I do my own entry on Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez on said blog?”

But enough of my internal monologues, let’s get down to business!

With a special tip of the hat to Mr. Brian Cronin, WORLDOFHURTONLINE.COM is proud to announce the latest recipient of The Unsung Badmother****** Award…Mr. Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.

jose-luis-garcia-lopez

Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez started his comics career in Argentina, but since his arrival in the United States, nearly all of his professional work has been with DC Comics.  In the early 1980s,  Garcia-Lopez was tapped by DC Comics to create their Style Guide, which established the definitive versions of their intellectual property.  The Style Guide was used by licensors and other DC artists to create a unified brand identity for the DC Universe’s vast array of comic book stars.  I seem to even recall hearing an anecdote that some artists would seek out work with DC just so they could get their hands on the Style Guide.

As I stated in the comments section of Brian Cronin’s post, even if you’re not familiar with Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez’s name, you’ve already seen his work on everything from milk ads, collector’s glasses, bed linens, stationery, backpacks, toy packaging, t-shirts, or any other merchandise or advertisement featuring characters owned by DC Comics.  If you perform a Google image search on ”batman” and “t-shirt” or “wonder woman” and “t-shirt,” looking for apparel that actually features images of these characters, the first ones you come upon will more than likely include illustrations drawn by Mr. Garcia-Lopez.

Besides being the hidden hand behind the DC marketing machine, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez was, and remains, a gifted sequential artist.  By his own admission, he was a slow artist, so his output of comic book work is relatively low, despite his decades-long career.  His body of work is peppered with short runs on established series.  However, each page he drew is a remarkable demonstration of Garcia-Lopez’s storytelling mastery, boasting clean, open lines; innovative, but clear layouts; and a dynamic, but natural, approach to the human form.  Quite simply, the man can draw anything and draw it freakishly well.  Note all the different types of people in the crowd scene below and how the body language, clothing, builds, and faces are unique to each one.

Deadman.streets

Here, Garcia-Lopez creates a sophisticated and sexy Lois Lane and a casual, relaxed Superman who looks perfectly at home in tights among diners in evening wear:

Superman.Romance

Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez’s longest run on a series was the fan-favorite Atari Force, and he also worked his magic on the Eisner Award-nominated, three issue, sci-fi miniseries Twilight, which was written by comic legend, Howard Chaykin.  However, my favorite work of his was the 1988 four-issue mini-series Cinder & Ashe. I have literally read the covers off two sets of this series, and am quickly working my way through a third.

Cinder & Ashe, written by frequent Garcia-Lopez collaborator Gerry Conway,  is about two New Orleans-based freelance security specialists who take an assignment to rescue the kidnapped daughter of an Iowa farmer.  Jacob Ashe is a Vietnam veteran and ex-soldier of fortune, while Cinder DuBois, his female partner is a half-Asian, half-Black,  former street thief that Ashe saved from certain death during the Fall of Saigon.  Cinder & Ashe’s case involves a conspiracy that ultimately brings the duo into the orbit of a mysterious figure with dangerous connections to their own tragic pasts.  The story flashes back between their earlier lives and the then-present day of the late 1980s.  The theme of the series is about the destructive power of secrets, how they overwhelm us, haunt us, and how we must ultimately confront and overcome them. 

Garcia-Lopez draws the hell out of every inch of that book.  He takes you from the bayous of Louisiana, to the fields of Iowa, to a climactic battle at the recently commissioned Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC.  Every detail feels authentic without being over-rendered or overly  photo-referenced and every panel bleeds emotion or thunders with visceral, cinematic action.  This series would be right at home on the stands today next to any of DC Comics’ Vertigo line, and I can’t think of any good reason good reason why they haven’t reissued it in a trade paperback edition.  Apparently, Planeta-DeAgostini, a Spanish publisher, has secured the rights for a Spanish-language hardcover collection, but I don’t think they have the rights to sell the trade directly into the United States.  (Believe me, I’ve tried.)

To date, despite his long, storied career with DC Comics, the comic book company has yet to publish a collection of his work, however independent book publisher, TwoMorrows Publishing , has stepped up to the plate by devoting an edition of their “Modern Masters” series to Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.  It provides a wonderful retrospective of his career and never-before published illustrations, sketches, character designs, and concept illustrations by the artist.  If you’re a comic book fan, you owe it to yourself to buy a copy.

Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez most recently completed a three-issue run on Batman: Confidential #26-28, which was inked by Kevin Nowlan.  The pair will team up again on a Metal Men feature for the upcoming DC Comics series, Wednesday Comics.

Finally, I’d like to leave you with an image of an original, second-hand Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez convention sketch I picked up off eBay for a great price.  It’s my long-held desire to buy an original comic book page by the man, but until that time comes, this will have to do.

Convention sketch

- JEP

(NOTE: There’s a great selection of Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez’s work at http://master-post.livejournal.com/.  Some of the images above were pulled from that site, so I wanted to give credit where credit is due. )


Comic Rank