Administrative Edit: This is the last post at this exact url. You can find the new blog at www.erossura.tumblr.com. This blog will remain up so we don't lose all the archived posts here.
I've been lacking in posts lately, sorry about that. I'm in the process of trying to consolidate my online presence and that may involve moving this blog to a new location (with the same URL!). That said, adding things here has seemed like a bad idea, given that I don't know if this particular blog will continue to exist post-consolidation. You'll know when I do. Either way, the way you found this blog will be more or less the way you find it again once I get everything sorted. Just know that there will probably be some visual changes.
That said, I also wanted to talk about some exciting things coming up. I'm currently getting things rolling on a very exciting collaboration that I don't want to disclose fully yet. It's gonna be pretty dang cool though. I'm also putting together an anthology of 5x3, which means wrapping up the story left hanging and tying up everything with a nice neat bow. Along those same lines, I've written a new set of stories about some new characters that I will be very excited to reveal to you in the next couple of months.
Stay tuned! And pardon our dust as we do some virtual renovations.
Sorry about the lack of updates on 5 x 3 for the last two weeks. I've been at home, on vacation between my last two semesters at the University of Michigan. As you may have noticed though, I've been keeping busy. Check out the new galleries under the comics tab to see what I've been up to. Hint: I've been lettering a lot.
5 x 3 will resume once I'm back in Ann Arbor. In the mean time, keep checking the galleries as they continue to grow.
Can we just start off with this? Today was a fantastic Wednesday. There was some seriously awesome stuff out today. I ended up going quite a bit outside of my normal pulls and I'm so glad I did. For the curious: SEX CRIMINALS #8 (Fraction, Zdarsky), WYTCHES #1 (Snyder, Jock, Hollingsworth) CAPTAIN MARVEL #8 (DeConnick, Takara, Loughridge), AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #8 (Slott, Gage, Camuncoli, Smith, Fabela) ROCKET RACCOON #4 (Young, Beaulieu), BATGIRL #35 (Stewart, Fletcher, Tarr, Wicks), HAWKEYE VS DEADPOOL #1 (Duggan, Lolli, Peter), and the subject for today's review the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's LIBERTY Annual 2014 (Too many to list). Before I get down to the meat and potatoes:
Now for those sweet, sweet potatoes and meat. Today on twitter I learned about a book by Image presented by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. I'm a big supporter of CBLDF and I happened to hear that Kate Leth, one of my creator-crushes, had a piece in it. As my experimentations with "Lethbianism" increase, it seemed like a natural addition to my shopping cart.
The LIBERTY 2014 Annual is comprised of 14 all-ages short stories, each written and drawn by a different creative team. The stories revolved around the themes of freedom of speech and censorship. The additional pleasant surprise for me were the pair of stories, Damsel in Recess and Pinks and Blues, which spoke very directly about the issue of the gender binary (and how it should be smashed along with the rest of the patriarchy*). It was so great to see this topic discussed in my favorite medium and especially in a book designed to be accessible for all ages.
*The opinion of this author.
The wide variety of art and storytelling styles present in this issue is genuinely inspiring. I found myself feeling very much like the protagonist of Chris Eliopoulus's Black and White, dying to sit down with some paper and a pencil and get to work on my own comics. The back cover, a LUMBERJANES Pin-Up by Kate Leth, was the icing on the cake. (Lumberjanes? Kate Leth? literally nothing about this could be bad).
It's quite possible that this book gets lost in the shuffle of other books of supreme quality that came out this week, but I can't recommend it highly enough. Do yourself a favor and go buy a copy. Or 12.
Today was a great day for new #1's over at Marvel. We have the introduction of a new Thor, the Guardians 3000 team, Men of Wrath, and the subject of today's review: A new series fronted by Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier. James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes, created in 1941 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, has seen a number of different identities over the years. First he was Captain America's plucky boy sidekick, whose death was a source of great angst for a number of years. Then the character was revived as the villainous, Soviet mind-controlled Winter Soldier in Ed Brubaker's seminal run on Captain America. After Steve Rogers' seeming death as a result of the Civil War, the Winter Soldier disappeared as Bucky took up the Captain America mantle. When Steve returned, Bucky sank back into the role of the shadowy Winter Soldier in a solo series written primarily by Brubaker. Fans hoping for more solo Winter Soldier would later be frustrated by The Winter Soldier: Bitter March, which would have been better titled Ran Shen: Bitter Disappointment. Finally, with a new series launched this month by writer Ales Kot and artist Marco Rudy, Marvel seems ready to capitalize on the light shone on the character by his appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier drops us in on what our super spy friend has been up to since the events of Original Sin. Bucky has taken on the role of "man on the wall" from Nick Fury Sr., protecting the Earth from intergalactic and interdimensional threats before any of Earth's usual heroes knows there's a problem. Essentially, the Winter Soldier is doing what he's always done but in a place we've never seen him.
Blending the old with the new seems to be the driving force behind this book, both artistically and thematically. There is a lot of classic Winter Soldier Barnes in the writing. Ever since retrieving his memories Bucky has had a desperate need to make up for his past, using the skills he developed as an enemy to America. However, there is a lightness to the character that we don't often get to see, a little more relaxed humor than long time readers might be used to. In this outing Bucky is once again paired up with a female super-spy, though BuckyNat fans will be disappointed that the Red Room romance is not being revived. Daisy Johnson, ex-SHIELD director, has become Barnes new partner-in-crime. The pairing makes sense. Both characters are highly skilled spies with close ties to Nick Fury Sr., exiled for activities related to assassination. They should work well together, though a potential area of concern lies in Kot's avoidance of male/female team up tropes. There's no indication yet that romance is in the air, but it's something this reviewer hopes he desperately avoids (and not just because I desperately ship BuckyNat). Guys and girls should be able to have a working relationship without the romance being an implied necessity. Romantic entanglement is a dramatic device that seems played out.
There's a lot to love artistically in this book as well. One of the things that will stand out to readers of Brubaker/Guice/Epting Winter Soldier is the return of the gray, rounded captions for Bucky, a nice editorial/lettering decision to provide additional continuity. At the same time, the art overall reflects a dramatic shift from the gritty noir feel of Steve Epting and Butch Guice's time with the character. Marco Rudy replaces the clean lines and dark shadows of earlier Winter Soldier features with a much loose, impressionistic style that blends a rich, deep color palette with a design-heavy panel layout and distribution. The art is beautiful. Each page is a delight to look at, and the flow of each page encourages the reader to linger there. Unfortunately, some of that lingering is the result of having to figure out what's going on in the scene. The flow of speech balloons and panel designs sometimes contort the scene in confusing ways. Further, we never see a really clear, full-body shot of any of the major players. This does result in some confusion when moving between scenes. For example, when Namor shows up midway through the issue, I wasn't aware who Bucky was talking to until he actually said "Namor" out loud. That said, the page design and art generally are both beautiful and encouraging as the medium continues to evolve and take risks.
If I come across as harsh or overly critical, it is only because I want the book to succeed. Bold artistic choices and writing idiomatic for the characters should be allowed to shine through, without unclear design and tired tropes to distract from them.
I apologize if you came to the blog last night expecting reviews. I made the decision yesterday to go get my comics despite the torrential downpour and it appears that I've gotten myself sick. I simply don't have the energy to do a good thorough review for you. If you're still interested in what I picked up yesterday, here's the list: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #6 (Slott, Ramos, Olazaba, Delgado), CAPTAIN MARVEL #7 (DeConnick, Takara, Loughridge), DEADPOOL #34 (Duggan, Posehn, Koblish, Staples), HAWKEYE #20 (Fraction, Wu, Hollingsworth), INHUMAN #5 (Soule, Stegman, Garcia), MS. MARVEL #8 (Wilson, Alphona, Herring), EDGE OF THE SPIDER-VERSE #1, (Hine, Sapolsky, Isanove), and THE UNITED STATES OF MURDER INC. #5 (Bendis, Oeming).
I also picked up Vault of Midnight's "Tactical Book Quest Club of Midnight" Book of the Month: THE DROPS OF GOD vol. 1 (Tadashi Agi, Shu Okimoto).
Hope you all have a much healthier Thursday than I am currently looking at.
Work is finally complete on my first book “5 x 3: All the Wit You Can Fit on the Back of a Note Card.” I’m really quite proud of how it turned out. It collects all of the first two seasons (minus one particular one that didn’t work as well in digital), as well as a handful of extras to fill out the pages.
If you’re interested in buying a copy (at a nice, inexpensive, $1.25), send me a message through the contact form on this website and we can work out how to get you a copy. Unfortunately it's unlikely to be in a store near you, but I’d be happy to get one to you!
In addition to the print book, I’d like to announce the premier of Season 3 next Monday! I’ve shifted to drawing 5 x 3 completely digitally, so no more eraser lines, no smudging, and much more consistency. All things you’ll see in your favorite 5 x 3 comics from the previous seasons if you buy the book (buy the book!). See you next Monday!
So I’m finally making 5 x 3 into a full length book. And by full length I mean comics full length. It will include everything that I’ve done so far, plus the 5 x 3 presents special that I did for a class, and a few extras to fill out some subject areas.
I would like to say that’s why you haven’t seen anything from me in awhile, but that’s only a partial excuse and not wholly true. In any case, I aim to be back now and putting out more stuff again.
I got a tablet a few weeks ago (I know, totally unnecessary given my artistic non-talent) but I wanted something that looked cleaner and prettier than my terrible pencils/pens. However, as I’m learning more about my tablet and the software I’m using the panels are getting better and better. You might think, “well why is that a problem?” Because it’s going to make the parts I’ve already done look really awful by comparison. Also I’m not drawing it in a linear fashion, so the crap will be interspersed with the not-as-crap.
So now the challenge becomes, do I go back and redraw the panels I’ve already done? I probably will because I can’t stand the inconsistency.
Anyway, I’m hoping to be able to distribute ACTUAL PHYSICAL BOOKS when this is all done, so if you’re at all interested, let me know.
E. Ross Ura is a writer, letterer, artist, composer, and blogger active in the Metro Detroit Area.