Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Speculation instantly turned to the prospect of Bart returning to the Ominous Press Universe, after an agonising 16 years away from it. Whilst I DO know what Bart has got planned for the immediate future, I'm not about to let that Genie out of the bottle before Bart does. But I am very excited about it.
Bart informed myself and a select few other close friends and family that something big was in the offing about a month ago. My initial impression was that Bart and his wife Michelle were going to try and set about marketing Bart better as a brand, rather than just some ex-comic artist. Which would certainly be welcome and perhaps long overdue. I have watched for years as Bart has taken on jobs that probably weren't worthy of his skill, though he has made the best of each project he has gotten. But I've long thought that Bart was in dire need of somebody akin to an agent. Somebody that can acquire for him the more plum and suitable jobs.
Look at it this way- How many times have you thought that Bart should be drawing such-and-such's title, be it Conan, Wolverine, Hulk, Batman, etc. but have had to watch him draw Spider-Woman, The Scream or even Ramayan instead?
Bart Sears should, after nearly a quarter of a century in the comics industry, command far more respect and be given much better projects, than he has for the last 10-15 years of his career.
Now, you may say that I am biased towards Bart and maybe I give him more credit than he is due? Sure, Bart has made some mistakes, there's no denying that. But Bart is also responsible for some of the most well-known comics of the last 25 years. Invasion! was a big hit, Justice League Europe was acclaimed everywhere, Eclipso was ground-breaking, his run on X-O and Turok was very popular, Violator was a massive success, not to mention Bart's tutorials in Wizard being many people's favourite sections of those early Wizards. And Bart was a Top 10 artist for years. And if you look the artists he shared that distinction with, be they Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, Joe Quesada, J. Scott Campbell, Marc Silvestri and all of the rest, the vast majority of them were and still are hugely successful, well beyond anything Bart has known.
There are possibly a few reasons for Bart's career not being what it should be. I think that the most likely reason is Bart's chameleon-like artistic style. Whilst it is amazing to see the incredible variety of styles Bart has produced over the years, I think it has been to the detriment of his career. Look at the big artists of the last 50 years- Neal Adams, Jim Lee, Michael Turner, etc. Many of them have barely altered the way they draw a page. There are a few modern artists who have shown a diversity of style, namely Leinil Yu and Steve McNiven, but a lot of that can be put down to the fruition of their style. Leinil Yu began as something of a Whilce Portacio clone, then he added elements of Mike Mignola and (seeminly every new artist's go to influence) Travis Charest. It was probably only with New Avengers and onwards that you could say he had a natural and distinct style of his own.
But Bart has had his own style since a comparitively much earlier time in his career. I would put the latter half of Justice League Europe as the style defining moment for Bart. Only a a dozen or so issues into his career. Since then he has altered and manipulated that style on an aesthetic level, whilst retaining the core structure. Look at Warlord, which is by far the most loose Bart's work has ever been. But you can still see the underlying structure that is clearly Bart's own.
I think that whilst Bart has exhibited a never before seen skill at stylistic adaptation, it has detracted and drawn attention away from both his wonderful storytelling ability, as well as his core style that can be very popular and career-sustaining.
My point is, would the comic career of Bart Sears be any different if he followed Jim Lee's footsteps and retained his style consistently and constantly? And what the heck does that have to do with Bart's impending big announcement? Admitedly, not a whole lot.
But I think that Bart is at a point now that he knows what works and what doesn't, and whilst he may enjoy keeping things fresh, comics are a business like any other, and to survive in it, one simply must make themselves a marketable commodity.
So I think the future is looking brighter for Bart than it has for many years. We may indeed be entering a new golden era for the career of Bart Sears, be it in comics, gaming or whatever.
And, obviously, as soon as Bart makes his big announcement, I'll be forwarding it on here, with some extra, fan-based, thoguths, thrown in for good measure.
These are exciting times to be a Searsian, folks!
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
I'll do this chronologically by comic, so first up is the 'It Begins' flyer. The main image of Mael and Auoro appears in a few places, there was even a black & white print produced of it. The mocked-up Wizard cover at the bottom is entirely fictional, as no OP characters ever made it to a Wizard cover, though the closest they got was the inside cover.
Next up is the promo flyer for 'Mael's Rage.' I believe this image was created solely for advertising purposes, as it does not appear anywhere else but in adverts. This piece was inked by Andy Smith, but I'm not sure who coloured it.
Then we have an interesting one indeed, here we have both 'Mael's Rage' and 'Death of Pheros' advertised on the same flyer. The same image for the 'Mael's Rage' flyer is used here, and the Pheros image is both the same as the fictional Wizard cover from the 'It Begins' flyer, as well as the below 'Death of Pheros' flyer too.
And here's the 'Death of Pheros' flyer in all of it's glory. This is another piece that was both pencilled and inked by Bart, with colours by Brad Perkins. I think this is a very interesting piece of artwork, and a great example of Bart's storytelling ability. There are several clues as to who Pheros' killer is, and it leaves the question of what is happening to Mael and Auoro? The tagline that reads 'You've never seen a hero die... UNTIL NOW,' is true to it's word. Although the comic never made it into the public domain, I've read the script and seen the artwork produced for it (which is mostly in rough layouts), and can say that it would have been one of the outright coolest comics ever, in my opinion. The fight scenes are epic and the plot is tight and emotive. It is one of my greatest regrets that this comic never came to fruition.
Next up is the 'Omen' flyer. This, again, is a comic that never came out, but once more, I've read the script and it is pretty spectacular, as the Ominous Press Universe really opens out and the possibilities seem endless. I've always loved how the comic-specific fonts were used on this flyer, even the word 'HERO,' which is taken from Pheros' logo, minus the P and the S. I also love the image of Mael, perhaps because I managed to buy it off Bart many years ago. As far as I know, this is the only place this image of Mael is used.
Lastly, we have the generic OP promo flyer, which utilizes the OP Poster 2 artwork. I've always referred to this piece as Poster 2, whereas Poster 1 is the one with Mael at one end, Dramaurg at the other. I'm not sure which piece was produced first, or the release order, but I'm pretty sure I've got it right!
Saturday, June 26, 2010
There are several reasons for this though. First and foremost, I've been on holiday for the better part of the last month, visiting my family in Australia, including a new addition to the Penn family- my youngest brother's daughter Isabella.
Secondly, well, I haven't had anything by Bart Sears through the mailbox in a very long time! I've certainly been looking, but the small stack of items I still require are either tough to find or going for more than I'm willing to pay.
But saying all that, a strange thing happened to me a few days before we went on holiday. My wife and I were up in Dublin to see a band, and I took some time out to visit some of the comic shops that Dublin has to offer. There are several stores to choose from, namely a Forbidden Planet, Sub City and one veritable diamond in the rough, called... yeah, I can't actually remember what it's called...
But it's one of those stores that when you walk in, you just know you're going to come away with something good. The place was crammed full of literally dozens and dozens of stacked long boxes full of back issues of all shapes and sizes. I tell you, it was bliss!
So I browsed around for a little while, with my trusty and steadily shrinking Bart Sears Want List in hand. A few things jumped out at me along the way, including a couple of boxes of comics that were going for something like 15 for €5. There were some nice trade paperbacks at pretty decent prices too.
But then I came across the motherload! Boxes and boxes of UK Marvel comics, and wouldn't you know it, these babies were in there-
I've mentioned these items in a previous post, but after some pretty extensive searching, I'd pretty much given up finding them. So I was rather chuffed to finally get my hands on them, I can tell you. It feels as though many years have passed since I have actually walked into a comic shop and found some old Bart Sears item I haven't been able to locate elsewhere, even on the internet.
So anyway, to break it down, here's what each issue contains pertaining to Bart.
Astonishing Spider-Man #94 Published 1/1/2003.
Cover reprinted from Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #4. (Credits list Mark Pennington hilariously as 'Ian Pennington')
Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #4 reprinted inside.
Astonishing Spider-Man #95 Published 29/1/2003.
Cover by John Byrne.
Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #5 (minus the cover) reprinted inside.
Astonishing Spider-Man #97 Published 26/3/2003.
Cover reprinted from Spider-Woman #1.
Spider-Woman #1 & 2 reprinted inside.
The Mighty World of Marvel #47 Published 4/10/2006.
Cover reprinted from Blade: Strange Tales #3.
In other news, Bart is working hard for Heatwave Interactive still, and there should hopefully be some wonderfully large announcements coming soon, of which I'll naturally pass along here. I can say that Bart has been producing some tremendous work for the company lately, he's even been branching out to digital painting, with startlingly good results.
Also, for those that missed it, Bart's two 'Wolverine: Weapon X 100 Project' covers presumably feature in the Trade of the same name, which came out on December 2nd last year. I've yet to get my hands on a copy just yet, but when I do I'll confirm whether both covers did indeed make it in. Bart has confirmed that both covers ARE indeed in the book. Thanks Bart.
Be sure to check in here soon, as Bart and his wife Michelle are planning some big things in the hopefully near future and I'll be adding my services wherever required, and informing you all about it here. So stay tuned, Searsians!