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Innovative Comic-Book Artist – John Paul Leon Passes Away At 49

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It is with great sadness that we pass on the news that the great John Paul Leon has passed away at the age of 49. The talented artist died on Sunday, May 2, surrounded by his loved ones after a 14 year battle against cancer.

John Paul Leon was a highly respected artist that gave fans iconic characterisations of Static, Batman, Earth X, Robocop and many more, working with companies such as DC, Marvel, and Dark Horse. 

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John Paul began his comic-book career at the age of 16 with a fantastically detailed series of black and white illustrations for TSR’s Dungeons And Dragons comics. He majored in art at the New York School Of Visual Arts where he studied under industry giants including Will Eisner and Walt Simonson, his first professional work was for Dark Horse for whom he drew the Robocop mini-series – Prime Suspect. It was, though, with the DC Comics’ imprint – Milestone, that brought he brought his incalculable illustrative talent to the fore after he was commissioned as the inaugural artist on their flagship title – Static, in 1993, this series was also used as his coursework for his Bachelor Of Fine Arts degree, of which he graduated from SVA in 1994, he would continue to illustrate Static until issue #9.

After his superlative run on Static, John Paul became a much sought after artist in the comic-book field, his hyper detailed artwork was lauded by fans and industry peers alike, and he would go on to work for DC Comics on multiple Batman series (of which his phenomenal talent was highly suited) and Superman comics and The Challengers Of The Unknown. His talent was also courted by Marvel for whom he drew – The Further Adventures Of Cyclops And Phoenix, Earth X, and the X-Men. 

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John Paul was initially diagnosed with stage two cancer in 2007, and underwent chemotherapy and surgery, until he was diagnosed cancer free in 2012. Unfortunately the cancer returned in in 2018, and he resumed chemotherapy in 2019. Throughout this, John Paul returned to work on a character he loved – Batman, alongside Tom King for the Batman/Catwoman Special, a one shot that explores the romantic entanglement of these much beloved characters, which will be available for purchase in July.

Our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this tragic time. 

Precinct1313 Recommends: Black Canary – Ignite

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Black Canary: Ignite is yet another excellent entry into DC Comic’s burgeoning Graphic Novels For Kids line, an accessible and fun series of original stories that beset readers’ imaginations with tales of classic Superheroes, and villains, in their teen years. Our last dalliance with this superlative series of character chronicles was with the marvellous mistress of magic herself – Zatanna. This effervescent episode will see us rendezvous with the bodacious and boundless – Black Canary!

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The DC Zoom line of graphic novels are a delight in every way, spotlighting beloved heroes (and sometimes villains) in scintillating scenarios of superheroic discovery. Quite often revolving around the stresses and strains of school, friends, family and an innate inner reflection of what it really means to be gradually elevate towards becoming a bona-fide Superhero! This recent epic excursion into Black Canary’s convoluted and colourful journey hits all those notes perfectly, and is a coming of age drama that is a compulsory chronicle to all fans of this fantastic character.

This tenacious tale follows thirteen year old Dinah Lance as she navigates her way through the rigours of youth.You see, Dinah wants to follow in the footsteps of her father and join the Gotham City Police Academy as a potential candidate, and with her school’s annual career week impending, she intends to do just that, to the chagrin of her parents, who just want her to land a safer vocation, away from the conflict and detritus that her father faces on a daily basis as a detective in Gotham City.

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Though, Dinah isn’t like all the other students, she has a gift, a meta human power that is yet to be discovered. Whilst chilling with her best buddies, hurling tunes as the lead singer of a raucous rock band and deflating school bullies, Dinah begins to notice rather odd occurrences happening around her, and, to her consternation, her prudish school Principal Vogel also has discerned these strange events, and is determined to out Dinah’s Meta-human gift to the world.

When a mysterious and shadowy super-villain also habitually turns up to complicate poor Dinah’s home and school life by threatening family and friends, Dinah sets out to turn the tables on these negative naysayers and discovers that not only does she have a super power that enables her to fight back against these blights to her happiness, but that her mum is also hiding a secret identity, as the famed costumed crime-fighter, also known as the original Black Canary! With these wild revelations laid bare, Dinah determines to embrace her glorious gift and follow in the influential footsteps of her parents and fight back against the bullies and villains who egregiously endanger her loved ones.

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Black Canary: Ignite is another absolutely wonderful coming of age drama from DC Comics, following in the fantastic footsteps of previous Zoom titles – Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass, Teen Titans: Raven and Teen Titans: Beast Boy. At it’s heart the story is a poignant parable of mother/daughter bonding, but also the gradual acceptance of superhuman prowess and one’s heritage and birthright. Expertly crafted by magnificent manuscript manipulator – Meg Cabot, and impeccably illustrated by Cara McGee, Ignite is a touching and momentously moving tale that is highly recommended to kids of all ages.

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Comic Cover Of The Week: Wonder Woman #771

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Welcome fellow fans of fantastic fiction to another cool and captivating cornucopia of comic cover collectables! This week’s impressive image heralds from Wonder Woman #771, and is radiantly rendered by irrepressibly impressive illustrator – Joshua Middleton.

Wonder Woman’s ongoing odyssey through the Sphere of the Gods persists, as she embarks on a quest with the devious Ratatosk, to search for answers. Something appears to be changing the Norse afterlife, and it’s up to the Themysciran Titan to set things right. And in doing so, she must face warriors and beasts of mythological proportions, beginning with Nidhogg! Can our Amazon ambassador survive this surly serpent? Meanwhile in a seemingly simpler time in our heraldic hero’s life, a young Diana continues her journey to uncover the secret behind the scriptures that pertain to hold the hidden history of Themyscira. But is she actually ready to behold the truth, or will it ultimately change her perception of paradise forever?

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As our heroic herald continues her perilous passage through the Norse afterlife of Valhalla, she finally encounters the cantankerous god of thunder himself – Thor, who unsurprisingly turns out to be a bit of an arse – a sententious, arrogant and misogynistic drunkard, of whom Diana takes great pleasure in verbally ripping to shreds. Not only does she impressively invalidate the God of Thunder, she also memorably mingles with Odin, climbs the sacred tree of Ygdrassil, and strikes up a bargain with the World Serpent – Naghini.

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The backup tale to this illustrious issue continues with another captivating chapter of young Diana, by collective creators, Jordie Bellaire and Paulina Ganucheau, with the most noteworthy part of the tale (for this Wondy fan at least) being the return of Golden Age super-pet – Jumpa the Kanga! (of whom we wrote about recently – right here!) A fun little tale with absolutely gorgeous and energetic artwork by the talented Ganucheau.

Wonder Woman #771 Is Available From Your Local Comic-Book Emporium Right Now!

Women In Comics Presents: Ramona Fradon

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The Comic-Book medium has always been seen as a mostly male dominated industry in both characters and creators, this is most likely due to a large percentage of the readership being of the male persuasion, though other more obvious reasons definitely prevail. The Superhero genre, as we know it today, arguably began with Lee Falk’s classic domino masked, amaranthine clad hero – The Phantom, who was followed a mere few years later by DC’s Superman and Batman, it wasn’t until esteemed Professor of psychology – the great William Moulton Marston entered this burgeoning market in 1941 with his iconic creation – Wonder Woman, that the tide began to (very slowly) turn towards a rather more inclusive market.

Of course, attitudes back during the Golden Age of comics were not at all what you would ever call diverse and inclusive, it was very much a male dominated industry and, yes indeed, world. It was Marston that initially fought back against this ideology with his casting of a strong but sensitive character in Diana of Themyscira, a positive female role model that could not only match her male counterparts, but even surpass them. Though Marston is accredited as the sole creator of Wonder Woman (though it should be noted that Harry G. Peter also had an underrated impact on the characters development) it was the women in his life both personal and those of whom he admired, that really had the biggest influence on Wonder Woman’s growth and eventual evolution, most notably – Elizabeth Holloway, Olive Byrne, and suffragist icon – Margaret Sanger.

If you’ve been a follower of Precinct1313 for awhile now you’ll have come to the realisation that not only am I a huge fan of Wonder Woman, but also many other female characters, and creators in not just comic-books but also film and video-games. I love strong female representations in my media, more so than male (sorry Batsy!) I think a lot of this is due to my being almost solely raised by mum from a very young age after my father passed away when I was around nine years old. I also have two sisters (and a brother, it’s ok, I didn’t forget you bro!) who were very independent and forthright, my mother instilled me throughout my formative years with a strong sense of virtue and morality. My mother is and always has been a feminist, she grew up in the 50’s and 60’s when discrimination against women was still very much rife, but actively fought against what was seen as the norm, and I will always be eternally grateful for the values she entrusted me with as I grew.

Now, with that lengthy preamble out of the way, let’s get to what you’re all here for – fantastic female comic-book creators, beginning with…

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Comic-Book artist supreme – Ramona Fradon first began her paradigmatic foray into the male dominated comic market in the early fifties, and she actually continues to draw and create characters even now, at the amazing age of 94! She landed her first paying assignment with DC Comics, illustrating – Shining Knight, and after that auspicious start, became regular penciller on Adventure Comics and Brave and the Bold, also for DC.

Ramona was born in October of 1942 in Chicago, yet spent most of early life in New York, where she moved with her family at age five. Her father was a commercial letterer and logo designer of which her brother also careered in, as well as her uncle. Her mother unfortunately passed away in 1952, when Ramona was a mere ten years of age, and it was her father that encouraged her to follow her dream and enrol in art school at the Parsons School Of Design located in Greenwich Village. After graduating from Parsons, Ramona met and married her husband, the cartoonist – Dana Fradon, who wholly supported and encouraged her career in cartooning. She pitched samples of her work to family friend, comic-book letterer – George Ward, which is what resulted in her first commission for DC Comics on the aforementioned – Shining Knight.

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After praise for her fantastic run on Shining Knight, DC then approached Ramona to continue working for them on a regular basis beginning with Adventure Comics, where she pencilled the back up story of Aquaman, which included her updating the character for the Silver Age, and also co-creating, alongside writer – Robert Bernstein, Aquaman’s trusty sidekick – Aqualad in 1960. She returned to DC to co-create (along with writer Bob Haney) another of their sixties classic creations – Metamorpho for the Brave and the Bold imprint. Ramona admitted to an almost perfect creative synergy with writer Haney, whom both referred to Metamorpho as their literary baby – “It was one of those wonderful collaborations that doesn’t happen very often” Ramona would later say.

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From 1965 through to 1972, Ramona briefly left comic-books to raise her young daughter, but returned once again to DC in late ’72 where she would take up the artistic reins on – Plastic Man, Super Friends and Freedom Fighters. She very briefly worked for Marvel, but admitted that structural differences between the two comic-book giants made it so she preferred working for DC, and soon departed Marvel after pencilling one issue of Fantastic Four and an unpublished issue of The Cat. After returning to DC she worked in conjunction with the legendary Joe Orlando, with whom she drew mystery comics. In 1980 she returned to college to study psychology and ancient religion, during this time she took over artistic responsibility on – Brenda Starr: Reporter, after its long term artist – Dale Messick retired.

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Ramona continued to draw Brenda Starr for an astonishing fifteen years until her own retirement in 1995. Though, even in retirement she would still accept the occasional pencilling assignment, most notably for Spongebob Comics, plus graphic novels – The Dinosaur That Got Tired Of Being Extinct, and – The Adventures Of Unemployed Man, amongst others. She will be returning to the company that she worked so many years for – DC Comics this year with an absolutely glorious cover for their 80th anniversary of Wonder Woman. Ramona Fradon is the pioneer for female artists in the comic-book format, and was recognised as such by being inducted into the prestigious – Will Eisner Comic-Book Hall Of Fame – in 2006, justly so!

Comic Cover Of The Week: The Other History Of The DC Universe #3 – Katana

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Comic Cover Of The Week proudly presents another sublime entry into DC’s – The Other History Of The DC Universe, the limited run mini-series that shines its diversity spotlight on Superheroes from marginalised and disenfranchised minorities. Written by sensational scribe John Ridley, the screenwriter and novelist behind the superlative period drama – 12 Years A Slave – with this insightful issue focusing on Tatsu Yamashiro, aka – Katana.

It’s 1983, Japan, and Tatsu finds her life ripped asunder, her home, children and husband are all gone, taken forcibly, and all she is left with is a burning pain and the accursed sword that stole her loved ones. This sets Tatsu on a lengthy and emotional journey of healing, self discovery and ultimately rebirth. This is the tale of Tatsu Yamashiro, the woman behind the mask of Katana, the hero who, alongside other Outsiders of similar disposition, rally together to fight oppression and xenophobia.

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As with the previous two issues in this sensational series, this newest entry follows Tatsu throughout her long and varied history in the DC Universe, with both the art style and costumes reflecting the time periods involved exquisitely. The format for this series varies greatly to the average comic book, with its visual prose approach to story telling, compact narration spread across beautiful splash pages by astounding artists Giuseppe Camuncoli and Andrea Cucchi. This Ridley penned opus is a must buy for comic book fans, a fascinating insight into the lives of heroes who have dealt with issues of marginalisation and racism and yet even through this continue to empower themselves and others to fight for liberation, emancipation and equality.

The Other History Of The DC Universe Is Available At Your Local Comic-Book Emporium Right Now!

The Week In Geek… With Precinct1313

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Welcome fellow agents of Precinct1313 to another enticing episode of – The Week In Geek – where we love to share our favourite Comic-Book, Video-Game, and Cult Movie news for your perusal and pleasure. And so, once more unto the geek, dear agents, once more…

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DC Celebrate 80 Years Of Wonder…

Merciful Minerva! can you believe it’s been almost eight decades since the Themysciran Titan was first ushered into existence! That’s right fellow fans of fantastic female fiction, the wondrous one will shortly be celebrating her astounding amazonian anniversary, and DC Comics are inviting you along to partake in this astonishing achievement by releasing a cavalcade of cool comic-book collectables.

First and foremost, a 100 page super spectacular will be released on October 21, which marks the date of Wondy’s first ever appearance in All Star Comics #8. This terrific tribute tome will feature all new stories and artwork by some of Diana’s most accomplished artists and sensational scribes, with a cover by the Eisner award winning artist Yanick Paquette.

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Plus if you’re still craving even more of the Amazon Princess’ astonishing adventures (and let’s be honest, who isn’t) then you’re going to want to head on down to your local comic-book emporium in June to pick up the new six issue anthology series – Wonder Woman: Black And Gold. This limited series forms a major part of Diana’s eightieth celebration, and will include titanic tales of not just our favourite fictional female but also her friends, allies and enemies including Cheetah, Amethyst, and, of course, the ever entertaining Etta Candy.

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Wonder Woman: Black and Gold #1 will have various writers and artists lending their formidable talents to the legend of Themyscira’s favourite daughter including the likes of Amy Reeder, Ryan Sook Becky Cloonan, Ming Doyle and many, many more. There will also be a veritable virtuoso of variant cover to delect and delight in from Joshua Middleton, Yanick Paquette, and the amazing Ramona Fradon!

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Green Arrow Also Celebrates 80 Years Of Bombastic Bowmanship…

Hot on the heels of Diana’s celebrated creation comes the Emerald Archer himself, Green Arrow! Ostentatious Oliver Queen made his dynamic debut in – More Fun Comics #73, in November 1941, created by Mort Weisinger and George Papp. To commemorate the battling bowman’s octogenarian outings, DC will release a 100 page emerald extravaganza to pay tribute to continuing legacy of GA, his allies, and arch-enemies. Similar to Wonder Woman’s own anniversary anthology, Green Arrow’s very own 100 page super spectacular will bring together some of the marvellous mainstays of Oliver’s past and present. Artists and writers include – the marvellous Mike Grell, Tom Taylor, Jeff Lemire, Nicola Scott, Laura Braga, Mariko Tamaki and many more. 

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The main cover itself will be by Detective Comics’ artist – Dan Mora, plus there will be an entire quiver of valiant variants depicting the vaunted vigilante throughout his formidable reign as the worlds greatest bowman – from a 1940’s style illustration by Michael Cho, a 50’s one by Daniel Warren Johnson, with the 1960’s version by the amazing Neal Adams, 70’s by Derrick Chew, 80’s from Gary Frank, 90’s variation by Howard Peter, 2000’s by Jen Bartel, rounding off with a 2010 cover by Simone Di Meo… phew! The Green Arrow Anthology celebrations begin on June 29.

Why Not Join Us Again Next Time, For More Week In Geek!

DC Comics Announce Pride Anthology And Unveil Stunning Pride Variant Covers

DC Comics To Release An 80 Page Pride Anthology And Themed Variant Covers In June.

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DC Comics that bodacious bastion of superlative Superheroics have announced an 80 page anthology comic celebrating it’s LGBTQIA characters will be released during World Pride Month on June 8th 2021. DC have a burgeoning cast of characters that identify as LGBT, with the most recent being that of Alan Scott – the golden age Green Lantern, who  confided to his daughter and son that he was gay during an emotional segment in DC’s Infinite Frontier #0.

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DC have a long standing in the LGBT community with their first ever gay character – Extrano, the magical based superhero who was created by Joe Staton and Steve Englehart, and made his first appearance in the 1987 series Millenium and The New Guardians. Of course, leading the charge for inclusionary heroes in the DC Universe is the bombastic Batwoman, Kate Kane is probably one of the most recognised LGBT superheroes on the planet, with the recent CW TV series helping to cement her fame and popularity in the Pride community.

With Pride month only a few weeks away DC have released images of their 80 page Pride spectacular, which will feature classic characters such as – Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Batwoman, Extrano, Alan Scott, Midnighter and Apollo and The Question. Also of interest is that the trans hero – Nia Nal aka Dreamer, who first made an appearance in the CW’s Supergirl series, will make her inaugural entry into comic-book history in the highly anticipated anthology special.

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And if that isn’t cool enough, then DC have also announced 9 tie in variant covers for that very same month with fantastic artists – Yoshi Yoshitani, Jen Bartel, Kris Anka, Travis G. Moore David Talaski, Stephen Byrne, Kevin Wada, and Paulina Ganucheau bringing their astounding artistic skills to the table for these inclusive issues. Oh, and a brand new DC rainbow logo to complete this captivating celebration.

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DC Pride #01, And All Nine Variants Will Be Available At Your Local Comic-Book Emporium From The 8th June. Will You Be Adding Any Of These To Your Pull List? Why Not Comment Below…

Ace, Krypto, And Streaky Too!

Superheroes are awesome aren’t they… leaping tall buildings in a single bound, scowling atop shadowy gargoyles, extracting the truth with their golden lariats, ka-powing criminals, crushing crime and fighting hatred and oppression, yes indeedy, Superheroes are awesome! That said, for many, without their extensive network of sidekicks and allies would they really be as effective? Batman has Robin and his extended Bat-Family, Superman has Supergirl and Superboy, Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl, Green Arrow and Speedy, et al. Though it could be said (probably only by me) that the real power behind their thrones comes from the less heralded, yet equally as important… Super-Pets!

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Now then, if you’re not a comic-book fanatic, you may feel I’m barking mad, or that this post could end up being a cat-astrophe (sorry, I had to!) and yet, Batman, Superman, Supergirl and yes even Wonder Woman have an extensive history with their fearless furry friends that dates back decades, plus, believe it or not, said pets also don colourful costumes (y’know, just in case SuperVillain pets recognise them!), exhibit powers and, yep, fight crime! So why not join us as we peruse (and pet) our all time favourite super powered animals, from Krazy Kangaroos, through Soaring Cats and even a Bat-Cow!

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The origin of the Super-Pet dates way back to the 1940’s, specifically the 1942 release of Sensation Comics #6, which introduced us to Wonder Woman’s very own faithful furry friend. Now, you’d think with Diana’s extensive history and standing in Greek Mythology, that Pegasus would be the perfect equine entity to accompany her on her ongoing odyssey, failing that how about the mighty Minotaur, maybe three headed demonic dog Cerberus, or Zeus’ nurturing goat – Amalthea? Ha, well you’d be wrong oh fellow fans of fantastic fluffy fearless friends, for it was none other than… Jumpa, the Kangaroo!!  (Uh, well, of course it was!)

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I mean, you really have to wonder why Wondy’s incredibly talented creator, William Moulton Marston went with a Kangaroo over the suggestions I threw out there, but, that said, have you ever seen a Kangaroo up close before? those things are terrifying! One of these mammoth marsupials chasing you down with Wonder Woman on it’s back no less, would be the epitome of the good cop/bad cop trope!!

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Now, I know that this might put me in the dog house with the other Super-Pets, but Ace the Bat-hound has always been my personal favourite of this formidable furry force, I mean look at him, he wears a mask, and sometimes a cape and utility belt style collar (how on earth does he get the bat gadgets out of there without fingers? questions like this keep me up at night!) and his master is The Batman! so case closed.

Ace’s doggy debut was in the 1955 issue of Batman #92, and this canine crime-fighting conundrum has been a stalwart admission to the Bat mythos ever since. Originally a German Shepherd, Ace has been through many different Bat-breeds since his initial inception including an English Mastiff and Great Dane, though you’d think, with Batman being heralded as The World’s Greatest Detective that a Bloodhound would make the perfect canine companion for the Caped Crusader… Suffering Sappho, maybe DC should hire me to write their comics! (only joking, uuh, unless DC want to, then I’m not!) But, if you thought caped and cowled crime-fighting canines was the quintessence of strange, you ain’t seen nothing yet…

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Yep, it’s a cow! though not just any old cow of course, but a bodacious and bombastic Bat-bovine!

The legen-dairy ( the puns, they’re gonna get worse!) Bat-Cow made her first astonishing appearance in Batman Inc (vol 2) #1, whilst another version of the headstrong heifer appeared for a short while in Tiny Titans, after stealing Batman’s cape and cowl to fight crime and form the the League Of Just Us Cows, this variant was eventually put out to pasture after DC Comics rebooted her with a brand new origin story. During a raid on a slaughterhouse (which was a front for Talia Al Ghul’s Leviathan) Batman and Robin saved their bovine buddy and adopted her into their burgeoning Bat-Family, this also led to Robin embracing a vegetarian lifestyle. Of course, the idea of a crime-fighting cow is udderly ridiculous, but it has also made for some rather amoo-sing tales, still, as to not milk this segment any longer we shall be moo-ving on to…

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The canine crime-fighting capers continue with the Man of Steel’s very own good boy – Krypto the Superdog! Krypto has been lending a paw to Supes since his cuspid creation in Adventure Comics #210 in March 1955. 

Superman’s best friend also hails from Kal-El’s home planet of Krypton and as such shares a very similar power set to that of his master including flight, super strength and super-breath (gross, I mean dogs and super-breath should never, ever go together!) this four legged wonder’s power set marks him out as the ulti-mutt crime-fighting canine in the Legion of Superpets, which finds him constantly harassed by the pup-arazzi! (ok, ok, that one was fairly bad, just please don’t hound me over it!)

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Just when you are feline that the you’ve had enough of the bad animal puns along comes Supergirl’s favourite furry friend, the paw-some Streaky the Supercat! I’m not kitten around you know, Kara’s fur-midable feline made his debut in Action Comics #261 in February 1960.

Unlike his doggy buddy Krypto, Streaky hailed from Earth and gained his claw-some gifts after exposure to X-Kryptonite, which enabled him with purr-fect powers such as – flight, super-speed and enhanced visual abilities. Though DC contains a plethora of cats in its canon, including Power Girl’s Stinky the cat, and of course Catwoman’s clowder, Streaky though will go down in hiss-tory as a personal favourite of mine, as he has such a meow-tain of purr-sonality!

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All Hail The Legion Of Super-Pets Fur-ever!

Precinct1313’s Top Ten Favourite Comic-Book Covers Of All Time: No.01 – Wonder Woman #72 – Brian Bolland

Welcome once again, fellow fans of fantastic fiction, as our classic comic cover crusade reaches its culminating crescendo! In our previous post we introduced you to the astounding artistic antics of Amanda Conner and her stunning and sassy Starfire cover, this iconic instalment we present the superior skills of the bodacious Brian Bolland and his tantalising tribute to the Themysciran Titan with Wonder Woman #72.

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The bombastic Brian Bolland was one of a wave of UK comic creators that during the pinnacle of the popular British comic-book scene in the ’80s was snapped up by larger American comic publishers, such as DC Comics, for their alternate and even irreverent approach to the comic-book medium. Bolland along with other British greats, the likes of Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, had impacted the popular caped crusading format by adding a darker edge to characterisation, and a satirical approach to storytelling underlined with a scorn for politics and a strong anti-authoritarian vibe. 

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Brian Bolland is probably best known in the UK for his stellar work on Britain’s biggest selling anthology comic 2000AD, especially his authoritative take on Judge Dredd, for whom his work on said character, for me, will always be the definitive take visually. Inspired at a young age by artistic greats like Carmine Infantino and Gil Kane, Brian would go on to be one of the most widely sought after artists in the USA, with classics under his utility belt such as Batman: The Killing Joke and Camelot 3000 for DC Comics. It was, however, his run as comic cover artist for DC in the ’80s and ’90s that he is most fondly remembered, especially his phenomenal run on Wonder Woman, in fact, like the previous post on Starfire, Brian’s cover illustration for Wonder Woman #72 proved so popular with the fans that a limited edition statue was produced in celebration of his vicarious vision!

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Thanks For Sticking With Us Throughout This Capacious Comic Cover Cavalcade, Fellow Agents Of Precinct1313, Which Of Our Posted Ten Is Your Favourite, Why Not Sound Off In The Comments Below…

Precinct1313’s Top Ten Favourite Comic-Book Covers Of All Time: No.02 – Starfire #1 – Amanda Conner

Salutations my charming comic collecting cohorts, and welcome once more to our continuing countdown of cherished comic cover classics. In our previous post we presented to you the decidedly dazzling drawing dynamics of the delightful Darwyn Cooke and his tremendous take on Teen Titans #5. This impeccable instalment illuminates the absolutely astounding art of Amanda Conner and her sassy and sumptuous Starfire #1 cover.

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We have written in length about the astonishing artistic auteur that is Amanda Conner, and over the many, many years that I’ve been an avid comic collector I have encountered hundreds of fantastic artists that have regaled my geeky self with some utterly sublime scribblings, and though I am indebted to all these iconic illustrators for their glorious work, a number have really stood out as favourites – talented individuals such as the great George Perez, Neal Adams, Brian Bolland, Norm Breyfogle, Phil Jimenez and Nicola Scott, picking a fave amongst these would would always prove to be an insurmountable challenge. That was until I discovered the amazing art of Amanda Conner, from that point anybody enquiring as to whom my favourite artist was, would not be able to shut me up as I enthused and rhapsodised over her dreamy drawing delectations… quirky, zany, and instantly recognisable, for me personally Amanda will always be the greatest!sf-edited

 

Amanda’s creative career began in the late 1980’s working for companies such as Archie Comics, Marvel and Harris’ Comics on their Vampirella series (which is where I first discovered her phenomenal oeuvre) But it was her work on the sundry female DC characters that led me to fall in love with her adroit artistic endeavours, especially her work with Starfire, Harley Quinn and Power Girl, which all remain (and always will) my absolute favourite versions of those iconic characters. 

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I love the character of Starfire, have been a huge fan since her inaugural introduction by her colossal creators, George Perez and Marv Wolfman in DC Comics Presents #26 in 1980. Since then I have rallied to read every one of her exciting escapades, with my favourite take on the character being the 2015, 12 issue maxi-series by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, with this post’s feature cover being my most treasured. In fact, I love it so much, I have three copies of it (one framed, one in the collection and one to read… yeah I know – GEEK!) Not only that though, I also purchased the extremely limited (and rather expensive) DC Collectables statue based upon this iconic illustration, and even did my first ever YouTube unboxing video on said stunning sculpture, which you may partake in right below (yep, that’s my disembodied hands of unrivalled unboxing!!)

Why Not Join Us Again Next Time On Our Continuing Chronicle Of Cool And Crazy Comic Cover Collectables…

Precinct1313’s Top Ten Favourite Comic-Book Covers Of All Time: No.03 – Teen Titans #5 – Darwyn Cooke

Welcome back, my colossal compatriots of comic-book collecting, to our continuing countdown of cool comic cover classics. In our previous ineffaceable instalment we introduced you to the astounding artistic auteur, Alex Ross, and his perfectly painted panoramic photo-realistic take on The Justice Society Of America. This effervescent episode we shall once more unveil our trusty Bat-Signal and shine it’s scintillating spotlight on the dazzling and delightfully dynamic Darwyn Cooke, with his tantalising take on – The Teen Titans #5!

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Darwyn Cooke was a Canadian writer/artist whose first offering to the wonderful world of comics was in 1985 for DC Comics’ anthology series New Talent Showcase #19. In the early nineties Darwyn snagged his dream vocation as an animator for Warner Bros, and the lead storyboard artist for the Emmy award winning – Batman: The Animated Series, which is where he met the similarly styled artist and show co-creator, Bruce Timm. In 2000, he was hired by DC to write and illustrate Batman: Ego, a graphic novel that explored the traumatised mind of Bruce Wayne and his fragile psyche. It was a phenomenal hit, and Darwyn’s epic retro tinged art, a modern interpretation of classic 30’s and 40’s golden age comic-book stylings, became an instant hit with fans, which led to Darwyn being inundated with offers for work.

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In 2004, Darwyn started work as both writer and illustrator on the six issue mini-series – Justice League: The New Frontier, which was the perfect opportunity to showcase his retro reverie because the subject matter matched his unique art style. New Frontier was set in the 1950’s taking place in an alternate version of the cold war, taking inspiration from novels such as The Right Stuff  by Tom Wolfe, the civil rights movement and atomic bomb testing. This series was once again a huge hit for Darwyn and won him the exclusive Eisner award, and was later turned into an astonishing animated movie for which Darwyn co-scripted and provided art direction.

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Regrettably Darwyn passed away in May of 2016 after a secret battle with cancer, he was a mere 54 years young. Darwyn is one of my absolute favourite artists, his unique and lively retro style make his work stand-out from an overcrowded comic-book market, instantly recognisable and just plain fun to look at, his tremendous talent is sorely missed.

Why Not Join Us Again Next Time, Fellow Fans Of Fantastic Fiction, For Our Continuing Countdown Of Cool And Crazy Comic Cover Collectables!

Precinct1313’s Top Ten Favourite Comic-Book Covers Of All Time: No.04 – Justice Society Of America #26 – Alex Ross

Welcome once more, oh peerless Precinct purveyors of phenomenal paintings in print, to our continuous countdown of cool comic cover collectables. In our earlier exciting episode we introduced you to the stunning skills of the superlative Stanley Lau and his titanic take on Wonder Woman.  This efficacious episode we shall be shining our trusty Bat-signal on the astonishing artistic aesthetics of Alex Ross, and his perfectly pencilled panoramic take on – Justice Society Of America #26.

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Though this is technically three covers, each of these magnificent masterpieces interlock to regale the reader with Alex’s peerless painterly realism, bringing these otherworldly beings a sense of verisimilitude like no other artist before. 

Nelson Alex Ross was born in Portland, Oregon in January 1970, though he was raised throughout his formative years in Texas by his minister father and mother who was a successful commercial artist, from whom her received his initial inspiration and love of the arts. Alex has always attested that the biggest impacts for his unique comic art style were John Romita, George Perez and Neal Adams, whose techniques he attempted to imitate when he started drawing on a more serious level in his teens.

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Alongside these maestros of comic-book art, Alex also had an attachment and love for the realistic stylings of Norman Rockwell, with his work often cited as being a cross between both Perez and Rockwell, giving us an almost unmatched hyper realistic form of absolute extraordinary comic art. His first comic-book after graduating from the American Academy of Art in Chicago was for Now Comics’  Terminator: Burning Earth, a five issue mini-series released in 1990. In 1996, Alex teamed up with writer Mark Waid for the DC series – Kingdom Come, Alex’s work on this seminal series was a massive hit with fans and critics alike propelling him into an almost overnight sensation. Alex continues to work in the comic industry today, with his adroit artistic style in huge demand amongst the biggest publishers in the field including DC Comics, Image, Dynamite, and Marvel.

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Why Not Join Us Again, Oh Fellow Fans Of Fantastic Fiction, For Our Continuing Countdown Of Cool And Crazy Comic Cover Collectables!

Precinct1313’s Top Ten Favourite Comic-Book Covers Of All Time: No.05 – Wonder Woman #51 – Stanley Lau

Welcome once more, oh fellow fans of fantastic fiction, to the Precinct’s capacious and compelling continuous countdown of cool comic cover collectables. If you partook in our previous post, you’ll remember that we celebrated the titanic talents of the astounding Amy Reeder Hadley, and her radiant rendering of Madame Xanadu. This inspirational instalment we shall acquaint you with the sublime skills of Stanley Lau, one of the very finest artists currently working in the field of comic art, and his stellar take on the Themysciran Titan with – Wonder Woman #51.

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Astonishing artistic auteur Stanley (Artgerm) Lau is a Hong Kong born illustrator and designer and co-founder of Imaginary Friends Studio, an acclaimed art studio that has produced work for the likes of DC Comics, Capcom and Marvel. Stanley is best known by his sobriquet – Artgerm, with his art faultlessly blending both eastern and western art styles, giving his wonderful work a unique and easily recognised quality almost unmatched by his peers.

As a cover artist, Artgerm has been both lauded and loathed by yours truly… lauded because every single time I see a new cover by this maestro, I just have to buy it, because it’s gorgeous! and loathed because every single time I see a new cover by the sagacious scribbler, I just have to buy it, and it’s getting really bloody expensive! The Wonder Woman #51 cover is without a doubt my absolute fave cover by Artgerm, that said it was a close tie with three other covers (pictured below), all depicting the great Kara Zor-El (better known as Supergirl) he seems to capture the carefree, insouciant charm that Kara exudes better than any other artist I’ve ever encountered, and we are honoured to induct him into the Precinct’s top ten comic-cover hall of fame!

sg Why Not Join Us Again Next Time, Fellow Agents Of Precinct1313, For Our Continuing Celebratory Countdown Of Cool And Crazy Comic Cover Collectables!

Precinct1313’s Top Ten Favourite Comic-Book Covers Of All Time: No.06 – Madame Xanadu #6 – Amy Reeder Hadley

Welcome back, fellow fans of fantastic fiction, to the continuing countdown of our absolute favourite comic-book covers of all time. In our earlier ebullient episode we introduced you to dynamic Dave Gibbons’ perfectly phantastic pictorial of The Phantom! This impeccable instalment will highlight the astonishing Amy Reeder Hadley, most prominently her stellar work on Madame Xanadu, with this celestial cover for Disenchanted #6.

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Eisner award winning artist Amy Reeder was first discovered by the Tokyopop imprint for whom she wrote and illustrated the popular manga – Fools Gold. Amy went on to work for powerhouse publisher DC Comics, where she was commissioned to illustrate the Madame Xanadu series alongside superstar scribe Matt Wagner. She also was the penciller for DC on Batwoman, and the cover artist for Supergirl before making the transition to Image Comics where she co-created the character – Rocket Girl. 

Madame Xanadu was created by David Micheline, Val Mayerik and Michael Kaluta in 1978, making her inaugural appearance in Doorway To Nightmare #1. Xanadu became a well loved mainstay of the mystery series, with the monthly horror anthology eventually paving the way for DC’s adult supernatural imprint – Vertigo.

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Disenchanted was the initial ten issue story arc that ran through Xanadu’s monthly exciting escapades, originally released in 2008, written by legendary Grendel creator, Matt Wagner. The vivacious visuals employed by Amy throughout this superb series helped form a very real emotional attachment to the character of Nimue (Xanadu). Amy is an extremely versatile artist and this ultimately shines through in a story that encompasses many eras throughout human history, which meant Amy had to render everything from medieval castles through gritty and grimy London in the 1800’s and beyond, all of which she accomplished with ease thanks to her exquisitely consummate talent.

Why Not Join Us Again Next Time, Fellow Agents Of Precinct1313, For Our Continuing Celebratory Countdown Of Cool And Crazy Comic Cover Collectables!

 

Precinct1313’s Top Ten Favourite Comic-Book Covers Of All Time: No.07 – The Phantom #1 – Dave Gibbons

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“I swear to devote my life to the destruction of all forms of piracy, greed, cruelty and injustice, and my sons and their sons shall follow me!”

And with that astonishing axiom… The Phantom was born! Welcome back, fellow fans of fantastic fiction, to the continuing countdown of our absolute favourite comic-book covers of all time. In our last entertaining episode we shared the work of the Bat-tastic and inimitable Norm Breyfogle, and his resplendent representation of the Dark Knight on the cover of Batman #465. This time we’ll be exploring the infamous Skull Cave, deep in the heart of the jungles of Bangalla, as we celebrate Dave Gibbons’ ‘phantastic’ Phantom #1 cover which first released in May 1988.

dcs-phantom-mini-series-editedThe Phantom was created by Lee falk in 1936, which makes his dynamic debut an incredible eighty five years ago… cementing him as the world’s original Superhero, a full two years before Superman first soared across the skies! Falk was an American writer and artist who had previously created the character, Mandrake the Magician in 1934, before going on to create The Phantom a mere two years later.

Lee Falk was born in St Louis, Missouri in 1911 and spent much of his youth there, he was a gifted writer and pitched his idea for Mandrake to King Features Syndicate. Falk was a huge fan of stage magicians, and actually based the look of Mandrake on on himself. The Phantom sprang from Falk’s unfailing love of myths and legends, such as King Arthur, plus popular fictional creations including two of his favourites, Tarzan and Robin Hood. (P1313 fun facts: Bill Finger, co-creator of Batman was a huge Phantom fan and used ideas such as the Phantom’s Skull Cave and loyal retainer – Guran, as inspiration for the Batcave and faithful father figure, Alfred!)

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Kit Walker is The Phantom, 21st in a lineage of costumed crimefighters that first began in 1536 when the father of British sailor Christopher Walker was killed by the Singh Brotherhood. Swearing an oath on the skull of his father’s murderer he became the first Phantom, beginning a legacy that would pass on from father to son for generations. The outside world though believed it was the same man, an immortal, a Ghost Who Walks, fighting injustice, piracy and greed from his secret Skull Cave, in the jungles of Bangalla. Fighting alongside his pet wolf – Devil, and his trusty steed – Ghost, the Man Who Cannot Die, instils fear in the corrupt, and hope to the innocent, in his never ending pursuit of the evil that men do!

Why Not Join Us Again Next Time, Fellow Agents Of Precinct1313, For Our Continuing Celebratory Countdown Of Cool And Crazy Comic Cover Collectables!