The iFanboy Letter Column – 10/10/2008!

Friday means many things to many people. For some, Friday means it’s the last work day before a well deserved weekend. For others, Friday is the day you wake up way, way too early and have to put on a suit.

At iFanboy, Friday means it’s letter column time.

You write. We answer. Very simple.

As always, if you want to have your e-mail read on the any of our shows or answered here, keep them coming – contact@ifanboy.com

 


I think at least one of you is still reading The Boys, and I don’t have a NON awkward way to ask this question… Has every story arc in The Boys, so far, had some kind of rape subplot? Am I just imagining it, or has rape been brought up in some way at least once per storyline? I know a new story arc just started with issue 23 and I’m already suspicious that the mystery with G-Men will have something to do with rape. It’s just getting a little redundant…

Yep, that’s a really weird e-mail that I’m sending to a bunch of strangers.

Janna

That would be me still reading The Boys. It’s funny (well, not funny really), but I don’t think I’ve noticed that, but now that you say it, I can see that. If you’ve been watching our show, you probably know that I didn’t really connect with Millar’s Wanted because of that very reason. Yet with The Boys, I think it’s played slightly different. For one thing, the perpetrators, in this case the superheroes, are clearly the bad guys, so their behavior is accepted to be reprehensible, and Garth Ennis isn’t one to go easy on that. If you read Preacher, you know that eventually, the evil people in that story got their very harsh retribution. So I suppose that while Ennis has spent all this time coming up with a litany of offenses for which they’ll have to atone, he might have used the sexual assault card a bit much. There’s also quite a bit of sexual depravity in the book in general, which all gets compounded together, and if you’re sensitive to that sort of thing (which is totally acceptable, of course), the title is sort of relentless. Then again, if you’re reading this book, you know what you’ve signed up for.

I’m thinking that, at some point, the bad guys will be made to pay, and I suppose that’s what we’re waiting for. At the end of the day, Ennis’ characters are very often rooted in an old fashioned morality. Right is right, and wrong is wrong, and the white hat takes down the black hat. But, if you’re getting sick of the wait, and getting bored of more of the same, I don’t think we’re going to see that retribution any time soon. I’m guessing the ending, whenever it comes, will be pretty satisfying, and we’ll see the Homelander get fucked up good and proper.

Josh Flanagan

 


If the Batman in Batman: The Animated Series is your favorite version of Batman in any media. What’s your favorite version of Joker, Catwoman, Riddler, or any Batman rogue for that matter?

Steve from Seattle, WA (Truestranger)

The great thing about all of these characters is that they seem to work so well in any medium and since they have been translated so often, we’ve got a lot to work with.  Here are my favorite portrayals of the Top Six Batman Villains:

The Joker Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight is, for my money, the best realization of The Joker in any medium. It is so good that, not long after seeing The Dark Knight, I caught an episode of Batman: The Animated Series on TV and it featured The Joker as voiced by Mark Hamill (a version that I had adored) and I felt a bit embarrassed seeing it. It seemed so… goofy by comparison. Granted, I got over it and eventually I was able to enjoy that version of The Joker again on its merits, but I will be shocked and amazed if anything ever comes close to touching Ledger’s version of The Joker, and that includes the comics. Look, The Joker in the comics is great, he’s the best villain ever. But Heath Ledger’s version of The Joker made me laugh and scared the bejezus out of me. Ledger captured the random madness, the casual cruelty and he made it real.

The Penguin If you’re looking for the best version of The Penguin, look no further than your local comic book store. The Penguin has been a tough nut to crack. In comparison to other villains, this rolly-polly umbrella-obsessed miscreant has always seemed less than threatening. Eventually in the comic books they realized that it was sort of silly to see him trading blows with Batman and decided they that he worked best as a behind-the-scenes crime boss and they were absolutely correct. He’s great in that role. Although I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Burgess Meredith’s portray of The Penguin on Batman ’66.

Two-Face This was easily the toughest decision. How do you choose the best version of Two-Face when your choices are Aaron Eckhart’s recent portrayal in The Dark Knight and the fantastically multi-layered version found in Batman: The Animated Series? I decided to go with the comic book version of Two-Face. As good as those other two versions are, they are just show-casing the comic book version of Two-Face properly so why not just go to the source? In the comic books, Two-Face’s complex relationship with Batman and the two warring sides of his personality — the constant struggle between good and evil — have made him into one of the DC Universe’s best villains, and that’s saying a lot.

The RiddlerPoor Edward Nigma. No one is quite sure what to do with this guy. Never as scary or as threatening as a Joker or a Two-Face, The Riddler is the A-List Batman villain most often seen as a B-Lister. Even in the comics, they have thrown up their hands and have moved him off into a reformed-villain quasi-hero role. If that change doesn’t sit well with you and you want the best version of The Riddler as bad guy then direct your attention to Frank Gorshin’s absolutely genius portrayal of a lithe, cackling Riddler on Batman ’66. When I think about that show it’s usually The Riddler that comes to mind. This version of Riddler was always hopping around and laughing like a madman, but underneath that mirth, Gorshin’s portrayal hinted at insanity and cruelty more so than any other villain on the show. It’s possible that this version of The Riddler is the best because, the way Gorshin played him, he was more like The Joker than The Joker was.

Catwoman — I feel comfortable in still calling Catwoman a villain even though she had her own book for years and she was briefly a member of Batman and The Outsiders and has helped out the Justice League. She’s still a jewel thief and that makes her a villain. The comic book version of Selina Kyle is still the best, most complex and the most interesting version. Like Two-Face this was a hard decision because the version of Catwoman that appears in Batman: The Animated Series is also really strong, but at the end of the day, the comics still shows Catwoman at her morally ambiguous, driving-Batman-crazy best.

Mr. Freeze It’s as simple as this: Mr. Freeze in Batman: The Animated Series will break your heart. He will break it right in half. The translation of Mr. Freeze from comics-to-cartoon is one of the best adaptations of a character ever. Everything from his newly simplified look to that sad, droning voice provided by Michael Ansara, it was all perfect. This Mr. Freeze is the gold standard for a man driven to villainy by grief and desperation that has spiraled out of control. It’s just a perfect portrayal. And it makes Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s buffoonish portrayal of Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin downright insulting.

Conor Kilpatrick

 


I love comics art and would like to start collecting sketches and original art but I don’t really know where to start. I would rather get sketches from the artist themselves instead of buying from a place like eBay. Is the best place conventions or commissions through the artists website? Do I have to provide a sketch book? Any hints or tips would be welcome. 

Tim C. (satchTC) from

I think one of the most amazing trends of the past decade in comics has been the original art/sketch business as its evolved. When I started going to conventions in the early 2000s, sketches were pretty much free. If you were patient enough to wait in line for the artist, you could get a sketch. Especially at the publisher booths. I was able to get amazing sketches by the likes of Sam Kieth, Phil Jimenez, Art Adams and many others this way. But as the convention business has grown, we’ve seen artists getting a table in Artist’s Alley or actual booths themselves and realizing that they could supplement their income by charging for sketches. While this sucks for the casual fan (who can still wait in line at the publisher’s booth or at a signing), for those really into the art, it’s great because a paid commission or sketch is usually a lot better than a quick, free sketch.

So what should you do? Definitely go to an art supply store and purchase a sketch book. Just as anyone who works there and they’ll help you find something like this. Obviously your best bet for getting a sketch is at a convention where you know the artists will be there. Do your research in advance and identify who you want to get a sketch from, and then make sure to get to the con on the day it opens, preferably as soon as the con floor opens. Then make a bee-line right to your first choice of artist. If he’s not there, wait, or move on to your second choice. Essentially you want to get there early and leave your sketch book with the artist and arrange the sketch in advance. It might help to have two sketchbooks, one to leave with an artist and one to have on you just in case you happen to be standing right where Jim Lee starts signing, so you’re not empty handed, which has happened to many people I know. Be prepared to pay about $100 for a quality sketch, and it will be well worth the money. If you can’t track down an artist at a convention or can’t attend a convention, you can always contact them via their website and see if you can arrange a commission, but keep in mind that you’ll have to mail your sketchbook and the money and then wait for them to finish it, and there’s no guarantee they’ll do the commission either. So really a convention is your best bet.

As far as original art goes, I share you trepidation about shopping on eBay, but eBay has proved to be a pretty decent place for original comic art. There are also some retailers who have pretty strong online resources like Albert Moy and Splash Page Art, where you can find some awesome artists selling pages from their books. Original art will run you more money than sketches, ranging from $125 per page all the way up to $300-$500, depending on the artist. You can also expect to pay extra for splash pages, or pages with the characters in costume prominently displayed. I love original art and it really takes all my restraint not to spend all my money on it. So be careful, it can get addicting!

Ron Richards

 

Comments

  1. If it wasnt for the Animated Series then Mr. Freeze would still be considered a laughing stock. Has anyone seen this guy before the brilliant cartoon? It’s like making a Golden Age Flash villain (Like The Turtle) and making him 1,000x more ‘special’.

    Batman: Subzero is a really underrated film. Everybody loves Mask of the Phantasm or Return of the Joker, but that Mr. Freeze centric film is my favorite out of the bunch.

  2. Yeah, wasn’t Mr. Freeze just a retooling of Captain Cold for the 60s Batman show? I remember couple eps with him. One where Batman and Robin were tied to giant straws in giant milkshakes. And another I remember Freeze showing up at Wayne Manor and freezing the swimming pool.

    I have to say I agree with Conor’s picks except for Heath Ledger. Was he damn good? Yes. But I still don’t think you can beat the pathos of the mid 80s Joker. That is the best version of the character, in my eyes. He just killed people because it made him happy, not even for some weird Anarchistic tendency. And Gorshin’s Riddle was awesome. Made Riddler my favorite character. (The sad fact of the matter is that no one gets that Carey’s Riddler is based on Gorshin’s…).

     And TAS Batman is my favorite iteration of the character as well. Just like how I prefer the Reeve/Reeves Supermen to the comics. Oddly enough, there’s no marvel Property I like more than the comics. Maybe the X-Men TAS, but most of that is borrowed/reworked material form the source. Though "Beyond Good and Evil" is probably one of the best X-Men stories. 

  3. Got a great Constantine head-shot from Cameron Stewart at Fan Expo 2008 in Toronto.  $25 and well worth it.

  4. I agree with all of Conor’s picks, and am especially glad he didn’t overlook the 60s Batman for a couple of them. So many comic fans dismiss that show as being too goofy (not that isn’t goofy,) but it was an important stepping stone for the character, and damn quality entertainment. The performances, while campy, are still quite effective in their context.

    Heath Ledger is only a inch above Cesar Romero (okay, maybe I’m kidding on that one.)

  5. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    *The Batgirl sketch featured in Ron’s response is a commission piece by Tommy Castillo.  

  6. @Josh

    Thanks for taking the time to answer my weird-ass question. Just needed to double check that I wasn’t imagining something that wasn’t in the comic.

  7. I thought that the Legends of the Dark Knight arc "Snow" was a really nice Fr. Freeze origin story.  It’s basically an adaptation of the excellent Animated Series version of the character.  I also recall the art being really interesting.

  8. Batman the Animated Series is just so amazing. I don’t think I would love Gotham in general as much as I do if it wasn’t for that show.

    Now I need to watch it again.

  9. RE: ORIGINAL ART

    If you go to the large conventions like San Diego or New York, there are dealers with stacks of original art from all eras and lots of it, full pages, at under $50.  Yes, most collecting is about getting your favorite artist or character but consider leafing through art pages instead of diving in the 50 cent back issue bins.  You’ll find some great graphic storytelling for a song.   And if you want to be a comic artist of any sort, seeing the originals is a fantastic way to learn.

  10. You know, I have this thing I’m theoretically going to do in a few months, with some friends, where we each pick a comic that we’ve always thought we would never want to read, and read it, and blog about the experience.  For mine, I’ve been pretty much up in the air between ‘The Invisibles’ and ‘The Boys’.  This column makes ‘The Boys’ sound even less like something I want to read, and by that token makes me more likely to end up reading it.  

    Okay, my mind is blown.  

  11. Conor’s right, it’s hard to say any other Joker is better then Ledger. Maybe I’m still high on The Dark Knight film (seen it 7 times) but not even the 2nd best Joker in my eyes (BTAS) is close to that acting gem.

    I like anarchist Joker in the film; I like the practical joker Joker from the animated series, and I also agree with Prax because the 80’s Joker in the comics was pretty damn good too. That whole ‘Joker Fish’ story is the best example of how great that Joker is. But all in all the best Joker we’ll ever see is in The Dark Knight. IF, and a big IF, they try to recast the role for the eventual 3rd film (if they want him in it) there is just no way it’ll be any better then what we got this summer.

  12. That second letter (and response) needs a little fixing. Doesn’t look like that’s how it was originally written. Grammar police!

  13. Totally agree with you, Conor, on the Riddler. Though I feel like there has been a really good story in the comics. I may be thinking of The Long Halloween, which turned out not to be him, right? Wait, I think I have to go back and read that to be sure.

    So, Batman Lego doesn’t get any of the best versions? Croc is pretty good in it, since he doesn’t really need to talk anyway.

  14. RE: Steve’s question about Batman: Rogues’ Incarnations. Totally agree. Heath Ledger’s performance was incredible. I myself prefer Mark Hamill’s incarnation of The Joker. I know that Ledger’s was a truer and closer version to The Joker; I just prefer a sense of madcap madness, where The Joker would pull out an oversized gun, pull the trigger, a BANG flag would fire and then he would shoot the pointed dart with the flag into a "red shirt" goon or bystander.

    In my mind Frank Gorshin IS the definitive The Riddler. He’s never been portrayed near as clearly as he was by Gorshin on the show. He was disappointing in the comics, BTAS and the recent The Batman. He’s gone from obsessive compulsive, to a gumshoe, to a video game and toy designer to a – – goth? Was that what he was supposed to be on The Batman? Marilyn Manson? It was kinda cool that he was the mastermind of "Hush" but not enough.

    I’d like to see a better version of The Scarecrow in the Nolan-Bale Batman films. The character turned into a pathetic joke in The Dark Knight. He needs to get back to his experimenting. People disappearing and turn up as subjects…But then I’d like to see Harvey again as Two-Face.

     

  15.  RE: sketches 

     if possible make your request fun for the artist. some artist said no until i told them that it was a themed sketch book and it was something they haven’t done it before.

  16. Thanks for answering my (poorly typed) question Connor. Yeah Heath Ledger’s Joker was awesome, but I still say Mark hamills is my fav, I kind of do a mental dismissal of the few episodes that made him a joke and just focas on the ones like "the man that killed Batman" where he had the perfect blend of humor and murdersome maddness, and his laugh was just great. Course Ledger’s had all that too so myabe they’re equal.

    Also I still consider Catwoman a villian cause A: As you said she still steals and B: My favorite costume of hers was when she was still a villian.

    Thanks again for anwsering my question.

  17. I hear Michael Golden does quick, easy commission pieces.

  18. ulitmatehoratio, bringing the funny! Good job, sir.

  19. Thinking about it, if I were gonna pay for a sketch, it’d be a Francine from Terry Moore and a Rachel Summers from Alan Davis. Those would be worth framing.

     

    I’m looking forward to watching TDK again to absorb more of Ledger’s Joker. He was too awesome.

  20. RE: Sketches

    If you’re wanting an artist to draw a character that isn’t exactly mainstream, then be sure to have some reference material for him/her.  Never assume the artist knows every single hero or villain out there.  

  21. The best Penguin within comics, in my opinion, is in the recent Joker’s Asylum miniseries. Two-Face is probably Arkham Asylum, despite that being brief. I have trouble just saying "the comics version is best" because that changes so often. I don’t really love Catwoman, so I don’t know if I can pin that one down. I agree with all of Conor’s choices there, though. 

  22. And there are nice cheap ones that amateurs do:

    http://www.comicspace.com/buyart.php