In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.
Click on the link to take you to all of our Denver Comic Con 2014 “Respect My Craft” articles
Name: Colleen Doran
NotableWork: Distant Soil, Gone to Amerikay, Orbits, Sandman
“So, there came the self publishing movement and the Image revolution. Creators like me decided we’d had enough of being published badly, and went our own way. Image did crazy, scary business; the sales were out the roof. It was comics artist as rock star time. Good and bad for comics, because while the self publishing movement started off with a handful of people like me, everyone who could use a photocopy machine was rushing to the trough; not because they had a burning desire to make comics, but because they were hoping to get rich.” – Colleen Doran
Colleen Doran has had an impressive career and has been writing and making art since she could hold onto a pencil. Doran was always fascinated by animation and loved to draw. Her first realization that she could be a comic book writer came when she was ten and got really sick. An old family friend gave her a box of comic books and she devoured them. She couldn’t get enough. It was soon after this the idea of A Distant Soil came about. She has always been a big fan of superheroes. At age 15, she was commissioned by Steven Miller and Sharon Lee (writers) who wanted her to do their cover art. Steve Hickman then asked her to work on the Miss Fury revival for his fanzine Graphic Showcase. This is what got Doran her start and she hasn’t stopped since. She has left a lasting and continued presence on the comic book industry.
On top of her extensive creative work, Doran is known for her openness about the publishing/comic book industry. She writes a lot on the topic in her blog. This website was also developed in an effort to restore Distant Soil and turn them into digital copies. Her original printer went bankrupt and the negatives (4′ x 4′ flats, not film strips) of her work were thrown out, which amassed to about 1000 pages. The process is slow – more complicated than many people realize – and eats up a lot of personal income. With the restoration effort, she can reprint Distant Soil, as well as keep a digital archive of her work. Stuff like this happens in the industry and it’s really sad that a lot of work once it goes out of print is completely lost. (Point one for the digital age). If you’re interested in her efforts, I highly recommend helping her fund the effort.
Doran’s work on Distant Soil has encapsulated three decades of work. It is about a young woman who’s born on a distant world to parents of a religious dynasty. The comic explores: politics, gender, sexual identity love. (It’s just awesome in other words) Many readers and those in the industry feel this graphic novel series is some of the greatest contributions to the industry and to literature. She creates an intense expansive world and her writing has a profound depth to it. It was among the first graphic novels to be created solely by a female artist/writer which she came up with in started in high school. What a badass! What an awesome accomplishment, I probably won’t finish my work until my death bed. Goes to show you how consistent writing and drawing can help get work finished. Looking at her credits on her website it’s mind blowing, and I recommend taking a look. She has had her hands on a lot of work that you may not be aware of.
Some of her latest work includes Gone to Amerikay, which came out in 2012 under Vertigo. It’s about Irish emigrants who come to New York. It spans about a century and follows several individuals whose tale intertwine and weave in out of the characters’ lives. According to scifiplus.net interview she did a lot of extensive research for the graphic novel. “Well, I care about all my books, but this is a historical work, and I don’t skimp. Research is essential to this sort of work. Not only is the story absolutely wonderful, and I owed it my very best, but it is also an important work, and I owe it to everyone involved, including the reader to provide as authentic an experience as possible. We’ve all seen comics where people simply don’t bother to do basic research” (scifiplus.net). She spent a lot of time entrenched in books for research and since a lot of her references were in black and white she had to spend more time on getting the costumes rights and the colors just so. On a cool note: Doran finished Gone to Amerikay off the coast of Tasmania while she started her work off the coast of Morocco.
On a personal note, Doran has had to deal with a stalker over the last several years. It has been something that she has been honest and vocal about. She appeared on the show Someone’s Watching to talk about her experience. It is really important to talk about these sorts of crimes as it impacts a person’s safety, family, and creative output. Doran has stayed away from and lot of conventions because of this in order to remain safe. Cons have a responsibility and a duty to make sure people feel protected and safe while attending conventions. In many ways, her choosing to come to Denver Comic Con is a huge deal. We in Denver are extremely lucky to have the opportunity to possibly meet her and see her on panels. (So no one fuck it up!)
According to various interviews, Colleen Doran has a busy year for 2014. A lot of work has been pushed off for this year. So, you can expect a lot of creative work to come out from her in the near future.
None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to their respective properties. Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con as we spotlight the Incredible Lou Ferrigno.
The mythical A+: Classic comic book material. Belongs next to your copy of The Notebookand The Joy of Cooking.
A: Would definitely recommend to all comic book readers. Even more so to fans of the genre or characters
B: Enjoyable read. Fans of the genre or characters will especially like.
C: Non-essential read. Can be enjoyable for fans of the genre or characters, but likely for only one or two events in the books.
D: Unenjoyable book. Read at your own risk. Might find satisfaction if major flaws are overlooked.
F: Please don’t buy this book. Donate your money to a local comic book writer’s workshop instead to inspire future generations to write something better than this trash.
Pick of the Week:
Injustice: Gods Among Us (DC Comics)#12 – A
All of those who have been reading the series digitally, ahead of times, now you can pat yourself on the back and say “I told you so.” Gods Among Us has been much more than a video-game adaptation, and this issue is the best one yet. Superman has completely lost his marbles, and Batman seems to be the only one who has the gall to deal with it. We’ve reached the end of “season one,” but it’s only the beginning of the end for this world under the iron rule of Superman. The Batman-Superman bromance comes to in end in a BAD way. I can’t recommend this series enough! – S
Revelations #1 – B
Image ushers in the New Year with the brand new mystery-thrillers series, Revelations. The series opens in Vatican City, Rome one stormy night. A potential successor to the Pope is dead – impaled on iron fence spokes after taking a long fall from a cathedral window, dropping a mysterious object on the way down. Enter Charlie Northern, a long-time atheist, fan of hardcore sucker for conspiracy theories and London detective. Charlie is asked by an old friend and member of the Catholic Church to investigate the mysterious death of the would-be Pope. By the end of the issue it’s obvious that the circumstances surrounding the death are sure to keep Charlie busy for a while. For any fans of the Da Vinci Code or National Treasure stories – this series is for you. While I’m not a crazy fan for the religious themed plots, I’m never bored by murder mysteries. Paul Jenkins (writer) peppers in just the right amount of intrigue and teasers to keep this series on my radar. That and Charlie’s hilarious inner monologues. The real seller for Revelations though – the art work. Humberto Ramos (art), Leonardo Olea (colors) and Edgar Delgado (colors) present jaw dropping panels. The detail and contrast is worked in very nicely in environments that are inherently dark and dreary. I’m looking forward to experiencing Charlie’s unraveling of the mystery and soaking in more gorgeous panels in future issues. – T
Superman Unchained #5 – B+
Superman Unchainedhas had the honor of having the best creative team in comic books, with writing by Scott Synder (Batman, American Vampire) and art by Jim Lee and Scott Williams (Batman: Hush, New 52 Justice League). This series has suffered from being under-developed, but that stops in issue five. This issue has finally picked up steam, and there is phenomenal dialogue between Wraith and Superman before things get real. This isn’t your father’s Superman. No longer the Blue Boy Scout, Superman has no blind allegiance to the U.S. government. Wonder what it would be like if Superman fought somebody just as strong was. Oh, and a huge nod to Jim Lee playing with watercolor on flashback scenes, as they are simplistically beautiful, as well as the first appearance of Jim Lee’s Batman in over a year. Every comic book fan should hop on board with Superman Unchained. – S
Batman: The Dark Knight #26 – C
The entire issue had no dialogue, but it still says a lot. Chronicling the story of a family torn by tragedy, a girl is taken from the safety of what little family she has left and forced into child labor. The ring leader is none other than the heartless Penguin. Batman catches wind of the scene and investigates, only to be trapped by Cobblepot and Co. The story tells itself with subtle imagery and great inflection. I’m not sure who the Voiceless are, but I’m intrigued enough to find out – something I haven’t been able to say for another Batman title since the New 52 launch. – S
Damian: Son of Batman #3 – C
Andy Kubert has regained a bit of momentum in this third issue, but there’s still not enough going on here to really sell it home – and with one issue left, I really don’t know where this is going. Damian is struggling with being a non-lethal Batman, and one of our Bat-family members kicks the bucket. I love the outfit and the thought of Damian trying to bring Gotham back under Bats protection, but I’m kinda over it. Even the re-appearance of “The Joker” couldn’t pique my interest. I will finish out the mini-series because there is only one issue left, out of respect for Damian, but I’m not expecting much else to come from this series that should have been buried along with Damian Wayne. – S
Dead Boy Detectives #1 – C-
Based off Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, the two ghost detectives Edwin and Charles are back at it in their own series, Dead Boy Detectives. The debut issue has our duo following a young girl at a art show robbery. They narrowly save her from death and, as a result from her near-death experience, she is able to see them. It’s not a very engaging book thus far, and I’m struggling to see how much more in depth this mini-series can get when there have already been two adaptations of Dead Boy Detectives. Here’s to hopng that we’re not beating a dead horse or dragging Neil Gaiman’s name around for exposure. – S
Justice League Dark #26 – D
In this issue of Justice League Dark (Forever Evil tie-in), the Dark team (Pandora, Swamp Thing, Nightmare Nurse, Phantom Stranger, and Constantine) are confronted face to face, or rather consciousness to consciousness, with Blight. The dialogue within this issues is corny to say the least; the art however, was a semi-redeeming quality, especially within the first few opening panels. Most of the dialogue wasn’t intriguing or fascinating, and the story itself was moving at a fairly slow pace. With very little action happening within the story until the end, I wouldn’t recommend continuing this story over others. – E
Bad Blood #1 – D-
Bad Blood is the story (sort of) of cancer patient/college student/former footballer Trick. He sulks around and his best friend Kyle tries to cheer him up. Trick gets bit by a vampire who proclaims that Trick has poisoned blood. But then the vamp immediately bites and kills Kyle. Trick feels bad, tells the police what happened, and then tries to find the vampire on his own when that doesn’t work. In theory, this comic seems pretty cool. In reality, it didn’t take a bite out of me (trust me, that pun has more personality than this comic). The main character doesn’t evoke sympathy for his bad health. We don’t know what kind of cancer he has; at least a nod to maybe leukemia would have made the title ironic in the first issue. Also this vampire, he comes out of nowhere and claims to have been eating rodents underground for centuries and that he fears the living world? That just doesn’t make much sense. And after his killing spree, he is never to be seen again. The only redeeming factor about this issue was the nod to the modern age. Trick tries to find the vampire and wonders whether he should check Facebook or Craigslist. It seems that would be where one would start in today’s times. Otherwise, there was no connection to plot or characters in this first issue. The 2nd issue will really have to step up to keep me interested. – A
Twilight Zone #1 – C
Nee-nuu-nee-nuu-nee-nuu-nee-nuu…bong!! The Twilight Zone was brought to us via comics this week. Issue number one explores the life and times of Trevor Richmond, a successful and savvy businessman that’s grown bored with the routine he’s worked himself into. Looking for a change, Trevor seeks out one Mr. Wylde who heads an enterprise that specializes in giving people “new lives.” Lives that guarantee full and thorough dissociation from the previous – even in a person’s physical appearance. The plot thickens when we learn that Trevor is not just bored with his life; he’s in fact seeking an escape. With all the wealth he’s been earning for his company, he couldn’t help but skim some of the lucrative profit for just himself. Trevor and Wylde strike a deal that will sever all ties Trevor has to his current life and send him back out into the world scot-free and with no risk of repercussions of crimes previously committed. In good Twilight Zone fashion, there is a twist. We’re left with an intriguing cliffhanger on the very last panel that’s got me anxious for the next issue. Other than the allure of the Twilight legacy, there’s nothing outstanding with the issue itself. The artwork is fairly basic, characters are archetypical and the story is heading down a fairly predictable path. The comic book medium may not be the ideal place for a franchise like The Twilight Zone, as I flip back through #1. I’ll pick up the next issue, but if I’m not blown away by pages end I’ll likely opt to continue to get my Twilight Zone fix from the good ol’ black & white series that’s been blowing minds for over 50 years now. – T
Todd, the Ugliest Kid on Earth #8 –B
Ok, I’ll admit, this is the first issue of Todd, the Ugliest Kid on Earth that I have read. But I think it says a lot that because of this one issue, I want to go back and read the first seven issues. It is well drawn and colored and hilariously funny. The inside cover alone had me rolling, with explanations of who different characters were, including Mohagany Davis Jr., possibly the daughter of Sammy Davis Jr. The jokes are off-color and not appropriate at all, despite the main character being a little boy, who, because he is ugly, constantly wears a bag over his head. It reminded The story got a little confusing for me, especially because it was a Christmas issue, and I felt I was missing a lot of background, but overall I laughed throughout the entire read. – A
New Avengers #13 – C
Issue 13 of New Avengers Inhumanity arc continues the story of the Illuminati (Black Panther, Black Bolt, Mr. Fantastic, Tony Stake, and Doctor Strange) and the eventual collisions of universes – referred to as The Incursion. Personally, I enjoy how grim this story is. It’s clear that everyone is willing to sacrifice almost everything for one reason or another- the Illuminati to ensure their survival, and Doctor Strange to restore his power to the level it once was. This book brings a dark and somber element to the comic book world, which makes it very easy to get sucked into the story. I can see big things getting ready to happen in the Inhumanity arc, yet I struggle a little bit with how quickly they switch between universes and which group belongs to which Earth, at times it can be a bit overwhelming. I would recommend sticking with this story, though, especially because it is the beginning of a brand new arc where things are beginning to reach their climax. – E
The Superior Foes of Spider-Man #7 – C+
Women make the best super villains. That’s not a slight at the female gender. On the contrary – it’s a compliment. A successful super villain has to have drive, ambition and a ruthless passion to be the best at what they do. Janice of the evil Beatle-team exemplifies these traits in issue #7 of The Superior Foes of Spiderman. From the first panels, readers venture back in time to the humble beginnings of Janice and her “job.” She pulls a sweet rope-a-dope as a pre-teen at a “friend’s” birthday party all the while being encouraged by her mobster father, Tombstone. We skip ahead in time and continue to witness the makings of a superior villain in Janice as she graduates from college (head of her class) and quickly makes a name for herself at a reputable law firm – all a means to an end to becoming the super-villain leader of her own crime syndicate. The comic as a whole is light hearted and fun to read. Janice is a dynamic character and one that’s easy to root for; mostly due to the humorous nature of the issue. The downside to all this is the obscurity of the characters. Granted, I’m not a die-hard Spidey fan. Even so, I was left wanting more insight and background on the supporting cast. The banter was entertaining at least. This origin story issue is a good read, but I’m going to need some conflict in the next issue if Nick Spencer (writer) wants to keep this fan onboard. – T
GPA by Publisher:
DC Comics: 1 A, 1 B, 3 C’s and 1 D, averaging out to a 2.33
Marvel Comics: 2 C’s, averaging out to a 2.00
Independents: 2 B’s, 1 C and 1 D, averaging out to a 2.25
Funniest Panel of the Week:
Epic Panel of the Week:
Cover Art of the Week:
That about wraps it up for our reviews this week! Look for next week’s previews coming soon. Any comic books you didn’t see reviewed that you want reviewed? Any grades you didn’t agree on? Let us know in the comments!
All images taken from ComiXology app and the credit for them goes to the respective publishers; thanks to IDW Comics, image Comics, Dark Horse, Boom! Studios, Dynamite Entertainment, DC and Marvel for putting out great books.