Now Presented in Amazing Technicolor

Now presented in amazing technicolor.

Now presented in amazing technicolor. (Art by Aaron Alex King)

As promised, I’ve added colour to my Robin redesign, which I feel makes it read a lot clearer as Robin.

I hoped to accompany this with another all-new, all-different art post, and the night’s not over yet, but I might not get it to a point that I feel like sharing until tomorrow. I am working on a piece for something I’m doing with my friend Steve Snow (whose own comics blog you can check out over at Madder Read), so stay tuned!

We Now Interrupt Our Regular Broadcast

It was my original intent to post the Tea & Comics column on Wednesday, this being the day of the week on which new comics are released. However, I will reluctantly concede the need to push this back by one day; henceforth, Tea & Comics will be posted on Thursday.

The Tea & Comics column is based upon a weekly routine of myself and my girlfriend from the early days of our relationship, when we both lived in Toronto. At that time, I was attending school, studying illustration for comics and graphic novels; I was pretty much living and breathing comics everyday of the week. My girlfriend, Dani, did not read many comics prior to dating me, but to her immense credit, took an interest in my interests, and accompanied me to the local comic book shop each Wednesday to get new comics. This comic book shop was Paradise Comics, on Yonge just north of Lawrence, and either by good fortune or by someone’s ingenuity, this was two doors up from DAVIDsTEA. Thus, we would go to Paradise and pick up the week’s comics, and then go to DAVIDsTEA, get a cup of tea and sit and read our haul, and, of course, talk about the different comics we read. This routine was easily the highlight of my week, and provides an important piece of the foundation of our nearly-four-year relationship.

Circumstances today are a little different; both Dani and I are working pretty well full-time hours. In order to create the Tea & Comics column, I need to first buy the comics; then, I must read the comics, and she must read the comics; then, we need to talk about the comics. Then, I must adapt and transcribe our conversation into a coherent blog post. This entire process, I realized today, takes a really long time, and I doubt I can expect to have this posted the same day the comics come out. Hence, the new posting date for the column.

Sorry for the hiccup; I’ll have a fantastic post for you tomorrow – we’ll be reading and talking about Batman #43, Catwoman #43, Gotham Academy #9, Starve #3, and Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #1. Can’t wait to share it with all of you!

Robin, Redesigned

Robin I

I decided to play Project: Rooftop for my first art post, and treat my favourite Boy Wonder to a redesign. The first Robin, Dick Grayson, was a circus acrobat, and I wanted to reflect that in his costume, rather than the Robin Hood-inspired pixie boots and short shorts of the original design by Bob Kane (or, let’s be honest, whomever was ghosting for him at the time). I dressed him in sleek, aerodynamic athletic wear, which would allow him plenty of movement, and heeding the sound advice of The Incredibles‘ Edna Mode, abandoned the cape. I wanted to  keep in mind, too, the practicalities of crime fighting, putting him in combat boots, and outfitting him with a utility belt and a grappling gun.

Not wanting him to be too plain, I opted to allude to his future Nightwing identity in the shape on his shirt, and rather than displaying his signature “R” logo on his chest, moved it to his arm. If I weren’t trying to beat my self-imposed deadline and post this by the end of the night, I would’ve added colour (it will of course be his classic green-and-red colour scheme) – maybe I’ll include a coloured version as a bonus in next Monday’s post.

“What is the why?”

A fastball special, as any avid X-Men reader will know, is a combat maneuver usually performed by Colossus and Wolverine, in which the large, metal Russian strongman throws the short, indestructible Canadian berserker at their opponent. It looks something like this:

Art by Alan Davis, courtesy of marvel.wikia.com

Art by Alan Davis, courtesy of marvel.wikia.com

A gutterball, of course, is my signature bowling move, in which the ball goes in the gutter and fails to strike any of the pins. The title, “Gutterball Special,” is not simply self-deprecation, however: in comics, the gutters refer to the space between the panels. This being a blog about comics, that is exactly the space I intend to occupy.

Thus: welcome to Gutterball Special. I am your host, Aaron Alex King.

I am not a comics industry professional; instead, I’m more what you might describe as an educated comics enthusiast. I mean “educated” quite literally; I attended Toronto’s Max the Mutt Animation College to learn the craft and mechanics of making comics, and have studied under comics pros such as Ty Templeton and Andy Belanger. I don’t just love comics, I know comics, and I know them well. Not the minutiae of continuity, or specifics of volume and issue (though I can hold my own in those debates just fine, thank you), but I understand the mechanics of storytelling in the medium, and what makes comics work, or maybe not work.

Of course, the views expressed herein are my own, and are opinions, and should be taken as such. I have biases, like anyone. If none of the following statements offend you, I think we’ll get along just fine:

  • “Calvin & Hobbes” is undisputedly the greatest work of comics storytelling.
  • Superman is the greatest superhero. Yes, Batman’s great, too, but Superman is just the perfect embodiment of what a superhero can represent, and Batman can never be that.
  • Man of Steel was an abysmal film that completely mishandled and misunderstood the character.
  • Batgirl: Year One is better than Batman: Year One.
  • Alan Moore and Frank Miller both have a lot of praiseworthy books, but there are lots of comics creators much better than either of them.
  • Any comic drawn by Evan “Doc” Shaner is a comic you ought to own, and if you don’t know who Evan “Doc” Shaner is, then Google him immediately. Never mind, that will take too long, here’s a link.
  • While I will always love superheroes, the best comics being made right now are not superhero comics.

Still here? Then let’s get started:

Gutterball Special will update four times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. These updates will take the form of four weekly features, which are as follows:

  • Monday will feature my own original art and drawings – most of these will be comic related, and might be pin-ups, process sketches, character (re)designs, or whatever I might be working on that week. To be entirely honest, a small part of why I’m doing this is just to keep myself drawing and having something to be accountable to. Thank you for indulging that.
  • Wednesday, as you might be aware, is the day of the week when new comics are released. What kind of comics blog would this be if I didn’t take a look at the week’s new releases? This column will be called Tea & Comics, in which my girlfriend and I read my week’s pull list over a cup of tea, and tell you all about it.
  • Saturday, I’m switching from tea to something a little stronger. In Beer With Batman, I will work my way through much of the modern Batman canon, pairing each book with a craft beer, offering a (hopefully) entertaining and insightful examination of both the Batman book and the beer.
  • Sunday’s post will be more of an editorial piece; I might take the opportunity to write about current events in comics culture, or talk about any graphic novels or webcomics that I think are worth talking about, or go on about anything comics-related that I have something to say about it.

I hope that sounds like something you’d like to read every week.

This being the Internet, I would never try to stifle any discussion, questions, and expressions of incredulity inspired by my writing, but it’s worth noting that commenting directly on the blog is disabled. This is not because I don’t want to hear everything you have to say about everything I have to say, it’s simply a matter of housekeeping – I am but one man, with a day job, and very little time to police comments for spam. As such, I suggest finding me on Twitter if you’d like to debate the finer points about why I’m wrong about most things – in 140 characters or less! It’s @gutterballsblog, folks. Come and say hello.

Thanks for joining me in the gutter.