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Nick Gazin's Comic Book Love-In #67

Greetings my nonconventional conventioneers. This is my weekly comics column for VICE where I showcase things of interest within the confines of comics, illustration, fine art, and anything involving paper goods.
August 8, 2012, 2:51pm

Greetings my nonconventional conventioneers,

This is my weekly comics column for VICE, where I showcase things of interest within the confines of comics, illustration, fine art, and anything involving paper goods. Feel free to send things to be reviewed in this column to VICE's Brooklyn office with my name, Nick Gazin, spelled out big on the envelope.

Here are some things that I think are beautiful.

Here's a drawing by Vanessa Davis that makes me very happy.

Here's a photo of a young Forry Ackerman at a very early science fiction convention. If you don't know who he was then shame on you.  Forry claimed to be the first person to dress up at a sci-fi con and he probably was. In the picture above he's supposed to be dressed as a person of the future. But Forry was not just the father of cos-play, he was also the editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland and one of the most important luminaries of science fiction and horror. Matt Caron wrote a great piece about him that you can read on VICE.com.

Here's a strong illustration by Derek M. Ballard.

Here are some illustrations by Howard Pyle from 1897. Ron Rege Jr. posted these.

Here are two amazing old pieces of Batman merchandise.

Here's an amazing Will Eisner print. If you live in New York and have ever rode the subway late at night by yourself, you should feel an immediate and deep connection to this image. Waiting for the subway by yourself late at night is, for many New Yorkers, a meditative experience and one of the few times you're not being totally overstimulated. It's still overstimulating by most people's standards, but for New York it's less than usual. Anyway I thought this was beautiful and it makes me sad that Will Eisner didn't get to live forever and keep commenting on the human condition.

Tiger Moody made a comic about how much I suck that's in the new issue of Human Being Lawnmower.

I made a rebuttal where I drew him. We're just funning around.

It's so easy to know if you're really in love if you are Superman because Superman has a love detector.

Regular readers of this column will know that I admire pulp artist, Norm Saunders very much. Norm is most famous for painting the Mars Attacks trading cards. I wrote about him a few months back. Look.

Abrams went and released a book collecting all the Mars Attacks cards with the fronts and backs of the cards as well as a story about the creation of the cards by the guy who commissioned their creation and commentary on each card. There's even reprints of the newer cardsthat were made in 1994 and an afterward by Zina Saunders.

I was really excited when I heard about the Mars Attacks book and i think it's great. It's got everything I wanted from a book and doesn't lose focus and start talking too much about the movie. Sadly Norm Saunders has passed on but I was able to interview Zina Saunders, his daughter who also is an illustrator.

How involved were you with the production of this book? Are you happy with the results?
I love the book! I think it perfectly captures the disturbingly delicious horror of Mars Attacks. My contributions: I wrote the afterword for the book and I'm currently working on a book trailer for it. Also, several of the Mars Attacks paintings I did for the 1994 series are included in the book (one of my favorites is the one of JFK being held hostage by a Martian).

Do you remember the Mars Attacks cards from your childhood? Did they bother you as a kid?
I certainly do remember my father painting Mars Attacks and they didn’t bother me a bit. In fact, I contributed to the series myself. When Dad would take a break from his drawing board, I would sneak up and paint extra long and glamorous eyelashes on his damsels in distress. Years later I asked my father if he knew I was “perfecting” his paintings, back then when I was 9. He said of course he did, he would just go in and paint out my crazy eyelashes. But I swear I still spy some of my handiwork in the cards.

You and your brother are both artists. My sister and I also followed in the footsteps of our mother into careers as people who draw. What do you think it is that makes kids of artists also go into the arts?
Growing up I wanted to be just like my dad. He was the picture of nonconformist, devil-may-care self-assurance. And what kid doesn't want to be a nonconformist? But on top of that, he loved painting pictures and so do I. I count myself very lucky to be able to make a living at it, especially since most of my work is pretty outrageous political commentary that would get me thrown in jail if I lived in another country.

Do you have kids and if so have you shown them the Mars Attacks art?
I have step children, but I keep my sketchy past under wraps.

Is there any plan to release a book of your dad's Batman trading card series? What are your feelings about those? I like them a lot because they don't feel like any other version of Batman that I've ever seen. There's something very mundane and believable about a lot of them which makes the torture scenes all the more visceral.
I love the Batman series, too! They have a fantastic 60s vibe to them, very Hulabaloo and Shindig—if you're not acquainted with them, those are old TV shows that featured rock 'n roll acts in the 60s. I remember him hunched over his drawing board with his green eyeshade on, peering through his clunky magnifying glass as he concocted scenes of mayhem and massacre.

What did you think of the Mars Attacks movie? What do you think your dad would have thought about it? Although I would say that it's clearly not a great movie it did capture the look and attitude of the Martians perfectly to me. I liked that they acted like the impish kids that the cards were intended for. 
Hmmmm…well, I thought the movie was pretty amusing, but I never thought of Mars Attacks as funny or goofy. And while I agree with you about the impishness of Burton's Martians, they were missing the deadly serious malevolence of the originals. The Mars Attacks cards were so wonderfully grisly and chock full of massacre and mutilation -- and Martian mayhem like that is no laughing matter! So I say "thumbs down!" on the movie. As for what Dad would have thought…seeing as how Dad and I saw eye-to-eye on all things gruesome and grand, I'd say he would agree with me 100%! What are you personally working on these days? 
Every week I create animated political cartoons that run on various news websites (they can all be seen on my Youtube channel: and I'm also continuing my series of presidential campaign cartoons that appear in publications and on my website. In Mars Attacks news, I created a Mars Attacks poster, limited to 250 signed and numbered prints, that will be available Aug. 15th exclusively on shoptopps.com And, just between us, I'm hard at work doing the animated book trailer for the amazing Mars Attacks book!

Here's this week's Moebius image of the week. This one was made towards the end of his life.

I'll see you all next week.

Previously - #66

@nicholasgazin