Thursday, June 16, 2016

Happy Astro City Day with Brent Anderson

Like I promised here is the post for Brent Anderson´s 61st birthday. Yes, it would have been preferable if I could have done it on his actual birthday and not one day later but I already did three posts Yesterday and I still have to do one more for Neal Adams. Anyway, happy birthday Brent !

Now I could have done one of those posts where I try to cover the entire career of an artist and there is surely enough material there since Brent Anderson has worked for various comic companies including Marvel where he did the brilliant GOD LOVES MAN KILLS graphic novel. But that would have delayed the post further. So I decided to kill two birds with one stone and post some of Brent Anderson´s art for ASTRO CITY, the series he´s currently working on and which ne´s most associated with. It´s one of the best series out there and one of the few that will stay on my pull list for as long as Kurt Busiek and the rest of the creative team will stay on it. 

One of the things Brent does so well in Astro City is give you a city. With all the views, the streets, the old buildings, the apartments, the parks you really get the impression that this is not a comic book but rather a real city with its own history which you could visit any time you want.

Or at least as often as it comes out since the book is not quite monthly. Not that I care. I would prefer to have ASTRO CITY come out every two month as long as they can keep up the quality. Not that the fill in artists they have brought on board to lighten Brent Anderson´s workload are not the elite of comic book illustrators. What I want to say is like with George Perez´ books I´m willing to wait as long as it takes since I usually wait a few months to read them anyway. That way I can read a whole story arc in one sitting. And there are such memorable stories like Confessions.

Leave it to Kurt Busiek to create a superhero based on the christian mythology and make him compelling and terrifying at the same time.

Coming back to the history of Astro City, when the series first hit stands the idea of just creating a city instead of a whole superhero universe was not that common. Frank Miller had done it in SIN CITY but it was one of the few exceptions. What Kurt showed was that every city can be a little microcosmos with layers upon layers of characters and events going back decades and one of the brilliant things is discovering heroes and villains that are hinted at until they can get their own moment in the spotlight.

Which doesn´t mean that ASTRO CITY is all about the past. There are enough stories about the now with its cast of familiar yet somehow different heroes and while we already know the big fights and the mega crossovers from decades of reading super hero comics here one of the main focuses is seeing the heroes doing mundane and everyday things.

Not that ASTRO CITY skimps on ye old heroes vs villain brawls when it needs to. You can find your share of that here and Brent always delivers.

Although the focus is seeing the super hero community from the inside and what better way is there to do that than with someone who is new to this world and slowly becomes part of it ? Who has to slowly make his way up the food chain from a sidekick and not to one of the popular heroes.

And speaking of popular heroes I never would have thought that a bufoon like Crackerjack would ever become a favorite of mine but this mash up of Hawkeye and Hercules really showed more depth than you could guess from his first story where he became responsible for an alien invasion.

And that´s part of the fun of ASTRO CITY : guessing for which heroes the analogues stand for. With some heroes like The Furst Family it doesn´t take a genius to figure out that groups like Marvel´s First Family, the Fantastic Four and to a certain degree the Challengers of the Unknown were the inspiration here. We learned a bit more about them in the story where the youngest team member Astra decides to have a little adventure of her own. Which in her case meant trying a life without super powers.

With other characters I have no idea. The Broken Man for example seems to draw on all kind of influences from sorcerer supreme, Doctor Strange, to his appearance which reminds me of Kid Eternity although there are traces of The Question and even Tarzino in there. But you don´t have to know everything. Another big part of the pleasure of reading ASTRO CITY is how it lays on your expectations and turning it on its head when you least expect it by doing things like breaking the fourth wall. Which by the way was done at least a dozen times before Deadpool was even invented.

And no matter what the writer throws at Brent Anderson he pulls it off wonderfully. No matter if it´s the high tech look of certain flying vehicles

or just a big pile up of dozens of different characters duking it out

or an emotive head shot of a character Brent " brings " you to Astro City.

From a junkyard filled with defunct robots, automatons and battle armors

to open fields and wide landscapes Brent lays the canvas and welcomes you to Astro City. If you are a regular visitor welcome back and if you haven´t been there - what are you waiting for ? ASTRO CITY is one of the best comic series out there and I promise it will be one hell of a ride.

Well, I hope this served to showcase Brent Anderson´s stunning art ( can you believe he did this with a tablet ? ) but also to wet your appetite to read ASTRO CITY as I used up most of my good material for the post.

You always learn something new when writing these posts. For instance I didn´t know that Daniel Brühl was original born 38 years ago in Barcelona, Spain under the name of Daniel César Martín Brühl González Domingo. In Germany he became known for his roles in Goodbye Lenin and Krabat, he has been in the spanish film Salvador and american audiences know him from his roles on Inglorious Basterds and Driven ( which I still haven´t seen ) but mostly for paying Baron Zemo in Captain America : Civil War.

The thing I find strange is that he concentrated so much on the german movie industry when there are far better movies made in Spain. Heck, he even wrote a book in spanish so the language should be no problem.

Our second birthday is Carole Ann Ford, the 76 year old is best known for being one of the first companions of the first Doctor William Hartnell.

Who designed her wardrobe deserves to be flogged for hiding her curves.

Today is also the birthday of Stan Laurel, one half of the greatest comedy duos of all times that has been in many movies, tv shows and comics.

Since I couldn´t find The Devil´s Brother here´s my second favorite Stan and Ollie movie where we learn that Stan is actually of noble descent but he had an accident in which he bumped his head and lost his memory.

Well, what do you know ? There actually is a video about Astro City in the post about Astro City. See how this works ? Anyway, here is Danni Danger talking about the first paperback which is the perfect jumping on point.

Since I have the luxury of adding a random video I´m going with one that I have been looking for years. When the original American Gladiators aired I became a big fan of the show mostly because of Diamond. I don´t recall her real name but she alone was worth the price of admission.

There are not a lot of videos on YouTube about the original show - most are from the UK spin off and later versions - but here is one where you get to see sexy Diamond strut her stuff in Breakthrough & Conquer.

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