Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Night before Navidad

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Twas the Night ‘fore Navidad in the Cemetery,
Not one stray cadaver, save the Aztec Zombie.
His stocking was hung from his tombstone with care,
In hopes that San Nicholas would soon be there.

El Muerto lay peacefully atop his own grave,
No evil to fight, no one to save.
Visions of Maria danced in his head,
Wishing once more, that he were not dead.

The night continued to grow long and cold,
As he lay there, on a bed of marigold.
His most cherished dream would not give a rest,
As he longed for his heart, back in his chest.

Then, a few minutes ‘fore midnight,
To his most welcome delight,
A noise atop the mausoleum!
By golly, he could see him!

A great jolly man, brash and bright red,
Joyous enough to wake all the dead!
And with him, hard to believe, oh Dear,
I kid you not, yes, eight zombie reindeer!

A crimson and white suit made by the elves,
Black boots from Tijuana, straight off the shelves!
A big red sombrero atop his grand head,
Flying about on a magical sled!

“Now Mictlo, now Pepe, now Xotchi and Flaco!
On Cucuy, on Quetzal, on Calaca y Santo!
Away now we go, we’ve done our gift giving,
We’ve looked after the Dead, now to the Living!”

Off into the night, Santa Clause flew,
More presents to deliver, for me and for you.
Diego ran to the tree, decked out with light,
He hurdled the gravestones with all his dead might!

Nearing the tree, searching for his gift,
He thinks out loud, “Was Santa too swift?”
His heart all aquiver, he knelt on his knee,
(If he had a heart, I know! Just enjoy the story!)

Unwrapping his gift, El Muerto did see,
That his present was indeed truly lovely!
Not a heart for his body, or Maria, his treasure,
But something that gave him such wonderful pleasure!

There in the box, all awash in bright light,
Was a large sugar skull, decorated just right!
A cross and some flowers, all blue, red and yellow,
And written on top, his name, “Juan Diego”

He stood, cradling the calavera in his arm,
Sensing no loneliness, fearing no harm.
“It’s good to be remembered, on this festive evening.
Feliz Navidad to all! The Dead and the Living!”

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Interview at Relevant

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A couple weeks back I was contacted by Will Thompson for an interview for the online version of Relevant Magazine. I thought this would be an interesting audience to speak to as they are a faith-based magazine that covers various aspects of pop culture as well as lifestyle and other topics. I always say that El Muerto is a complete reflection of who I am, so check out why a Mexican-American, Catholic, comic book geek/Speed Racer fan/micro movie mogul does what he does!

Here's the link to the Relevant interview

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Gigantic Treasury Comics!

Back in the Glory Days (the 70s), DC and Marvel used to publish large, over-sized comics called "Treasury Editions". They measured at a whopping 13" x 15", and sometimes could be up to 100 pages, in full color!! Most often these were reprints of earlier books, although DC often included more original features in there books. Stuff like 'How to draw Superman' and other DVD-style extras.

Some of my favorites to this day include these beauties:
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Included in this gem were the Golden Age origins of the Joker and Lex Luthor (an accident caused Lex to lose all his hair, so naturally he blamed Superboy!). I was mesmerized to learn the origin of the Joker. The 1989 BATMAN movie used the same basic premise (falling into a vat of chemicals) as did Alan Moore's THE KILLING JOKE. This Golden Age story remains one of my favorite comics off all time.

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I remember seeing this in McCoy's Market. Mom would be in line paying for groceries and I would wander to the Liquor Dept (?) where they kept all the periodicals. I had to have this one! Reprinting, in tabloid size, the original Steve Ditko-drawn first appearance of the Sinister Six! Stuff like this convined me as a kid that Ditko is the one true Ultimate Spider-Man artist!

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Galactus once again invades Earth, with the intent to devour us all! This time he's accompanied by his strangely biblical herald, Gabriel! Art by Big John Buscema and Joltin' Joe Sinnot.

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Reprinting classic fist fights between the superheroes (of course, they would usually work things out by the end of the issue. The pulse-pounding battle between Captain America and Daredevil takes place inside the ring at Madison Square Garden! And the Silver Surfer vs. Spider-Man tale was the first and only time Stan Lee got to write his two signature characters in the same story.

And then there was this...
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The Greatest Super-Hero Team-up of All Time! And conversely, the Battle of the Century!! This milestone story was the first time Marvel and DC had collaborated on a joint venture, teaming up their most popular characters in one epic tale. This unquestionably blew me away as a kid. And to this day I'd say probably remains my favorite comic book story, (up there with Amazing Fantasy #15, of course). This book was written by my second favorite Spider-Man writer, Gerry Conway, and illustrated by one of my Top 3 Spider-Man artists, Ross Andru. One of the many reasons I love this book is the cover. I've always had a real affection for comic book covers with white backgrounds, and in this case what better way to bring out the color in these two icons than white? I loved seeing Peter Parker and his girlfriend Mary Jane interacting with Clark Kent and Lois Lane. What really worked for this book was the over-sized pages allowed the stunning draftmanship of Ross Andru to really shine. Andru always was the absolute best artist in comics for breathtaking architectural renderings and panoramic city shots. This stands as his greatest achievement, in my opnion. And what better compliment for an artist than to handle the historic first DC/Marvel crossover?

As big as the super-heroes were to me as a kid, printing there stories in these tabloid-size comics only helped create more excitement. My hope is to one day create a Muerto story worthy of this format. A new story, with a reprint of a lesser-seen story, and maybe a cool 'How to Draw El Muerto' feature. Hold me to this, folks!

All these pics were taken from another site, Treasury Created by illustrator Rob Kelly, it's a wonderful tribute to all the treasury/tabloid sized publications from comic's past. Check out Rob's site and treasure these gems! Thanks to Rob for the kind permission to use his pics.