Storm Arcana

Heroic Tarot & Arcana Academy

Month: May 2008

Storm Sunday: Art Baltazar


Here’s a super fun sketch of punk rock Storm by Art Baltazar of Tiny Titans fame! Thanks ever so much to David Brothers of 4th Letter and Pop Culture Shock for thinking of me when he was at the New York Comic Con! It was a great surprise to receive this piece in my comics hold box when I got back from the Faerie Gathering! Art’s work has such an effervescent pop fun feel to it! You can check out more of the sketches that Art drew for David here and here.

Newsarama talks to Art here!

 

Check out the Tiny Titans comic from DC Comics for more cuteness–monthly!

Storm Sunday: Frank Cho

Frank Cho is known for his creator owned comic Liberty Meadows and for his penchant for drawing rather voluptuous women. Seriously, the man loves his curvy girls and isn’t ashamed of it! Good for him, I say. Here’s his take on our Weather Goddess:
Cho loves to draw some nude women, but it totally makes sense for Storm to run around naked. I mean, we have Jean Grey to thank that she started wearing clothes at all! Any of you remember when Storm first joined the All-New, All-Different team of X-Men and she went skinny dipping in Professor X’s pool? If you don’t, pick up Volume One of the Essential Uncanny X-Men (re-issued last week and on sale at fine comic book shops everywhere). Anyway, Storm’s streaking earned her a psychic mind blast from Charles and he made her go visit Jean Grey to go buy clothes. I rather liked Storm when she was innocent and modesty was irrelevant.

Here’s my favorite Black Panther cover by Cho:

I like how Africa is framed around Storm and how it and she are situated in T’Challa’s heart. Powerful, symbolic, clear and concise an image.
Frank Cho drew the cover for Storm and Black Panther’s wedding.

Newsarama’s Lisa Fortner wrote an interesting piece in which she analyzes the composition. I think some of her observations are worth thinking about. Is Storm just a supporting character to T’Challa now? Does this diminish her status as a strong X-Woman? Or does her strength of character plus his create a super couple worth rooting for? No matter your perspective, one thing’s for sure, the marriage is here to stay. Unless Storm’s a skrull.

Somebody better have written some slash about Iron Man and Captain America based on this pic and send it to me. That’s some stand off. Who blinks first?

Have you seen Cho’s idea of a hot Scarlet Witch cover? Wow. Yeah. It’s no surprise that Marvel went with this one instead. I’m all for nudity, but can we get some beefcake, too? Have to say his Ares designs were pretty off the hook. I’ve searched for a good image on the web, but this is the best I can find:

That’s Ares in civilian garb with Ms. Marvel in between him and Iron Man. Cho has done a lot work on Ms. Marvel as well. For a guy who loves drawing cabooses as much as he does, you’d think he’d realize that thongs are NOT comfortable and get a girl some coverage.

Cho recently drew some Avengers issues (Ultron becomes a naked girl, natch) and there was a LOT of derriere. My only gripe is that he gave Janet Van Dyne (the Wasp) a big ole caboose and she’s been established as being rather pixie-ish in build.

See what I mean? Jan’s not so slender anymore.

Woo! That’s a lot of T&A for this Storm Sunday. See you next week, dear reader!

Wolverine & The X-Men Trailer

So Comic Book Resources has had the trailer for the upcoming Wolverine & The X-Men cartoon up for a while and while I love it (I mean, really, really love it), I’m a bit irked at the lack of Storm promo scenes. I had to watch it frame by frame to see Angel carrying her to actually get a glimpse of her costume. At least she’s featured prominently in the team photo images, but I would’ve like to see Ororo whip up some lightning just once.

There’s so many characters! I love Kitty Pryde’s look and it looked like Cannonball was standing next to her in a quick shot that pans across the team, but it might’ve been Iceman (but Bobby’s not a blond, folks!) Nice to see Nightcrawler too! And Scarlet Witch and Polaris! Woo Hoo! Looks like Emma Frost is featured prominently. That could be pretty cool, especially if we get to see the beginnings of her and Cyclop’s romance. I bet Jean Grey fans are disappointed though. This will be the first X-Men cartoon without her. She’s shown briefly in the very beginning when something strikes her and Xavier down. Then Xavier is okay and Jean’s nowhere to be seen. *sigh*
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Storm Sunday: Barry Windsor-Smith

“It shall take a long-term, keenly processed, whole-world paradigm shift in our consciousness to perceive, acknowledge, and accept that all that we see, hear, smell, touch and taste are but five tiny shells on one small dune on the cosmic beach-head of Everywhere Else.” – Barry Windsor-Smith

I was completely taken aback when I first encountered the artwork of Barry Windsor-Smith. It was so different from the comic book art I was accustomed to. First of all, there were tiny lines everywhere. I got lost in the spaces in between them, swept away by their subtle dynamism. Characters looked rough and slightly askew, but they also had a smooth polished look to their features. They reminded me more of life model drawings than four color supermen. Windsor-Smith drew a side of my heroes I’d never seen before. Here were characters both regal and graceful, but also inhabiting strength and solidity. Seeing his work opened me up to the idea that comics could be so much more than I thought they could be. Figures inhabited their environments completely, they weren’t static paper dolls fighting in front of Colorform playsets. Clothes looked like something one could actually wear as opposed to painted on skins. Even folds in fabric were rendered with every detail (You have got to see the wrinkles in the sheets around Storm in the splash page of Lifedeath in Uncanny X-Men #186 to really understand what I mean). And what a name! I was convinced Barry Windsor-Smith was royalty.
Chris Claremont (You do know who he is, right?) has stated that his favorite Storm stories are Lifedeath and Lifedeath II. It’s a testament to his script and the real life grit of Windsor-Smith’s art that the story has remained such a powerful and integral part of Storm’s narrative. Here the mutant worshiped as a Goddess becomes a regular woman. She’s allowed center stage to undergo a myriad of emotional stages. I’ll never forget the scene where Storm tries champagne for the first time. It’s simply amazing.

 

Claremont defied traditional comic book narrative and allowed Storm to change. Well, it is change as much as a character that is a part of a franchise can change (When did we start thinking of everything as a property or a franchise? Do you remember when we were just reading stories instead of thinking of how they might be played out in film, video games and fast food tie ins?). I mean, how many times has Storm overcome her claustrophobia just to have another writer rehash another “I will be free!” Storm moment? Over the years, Storm has been interpreted so many times that her recent portrayals have lost some of the realism depicted in Lifedeath and its sequel. I believe the modern Storm needs to reclaim some of her beautiful history while moving forward to a more integrated Storm. She’s the sum of so many parts: thief, orphan, goddess, mutant, leader, and more recently, wife, queen and thanks to her co-starring in Reggie Hudlin‘s Black Panther, she’s found her blood relatives again (something I wish hadn’t happened to be quite honest–but it’s there, so we have to work with it). I think her recent stint as a member of the Fantastic Four was awesome and so much fun to read thanks to Dwayne McDuffie‘s scripting, but I’d like to see Storm take on a larger leadership role worldwide.

 

If the Avengers weren’t a steaming mess of distrust and division, I’d like to see Ororo fighting alongside Captain America in that title. But Cap’s dead. And the Avengers haven’t even avenged that. *shakes head* At the moment, Marvel Adventures Avengers is the only place you can see Ororo co-leading (!) the team alongside a living and breathing Captain America. Please do yourself a favor and pick up a digest of the first few issues of that title. Yeah, it’s all ages, but Jeff Parker makes me laugh out loud every time I read a comic that he’s written. It’s good clean fun, folks and it’s great to read stories where you don’t have to worry about who’s a damn skrull.

 

Okay, back to Windsor-Smith and Storm. If you were to check out Comic Book Resources X-Books Message Boards, you would eventually come across a long running joke among its members about Storm being a tranny (or a man). It isn’t too much of a stretch to tie the origins of that the joke to Windsor-Smith’s portrayal of Storm. His Storm looks rugged. She looks ready for a scrap. Combine that with her Claremont “I can do anything” attitude and her punk rock leather attire and the infamous mohawk, you have a rather startling change from the John Byrne uber-babe look that she is most known for. I mean, Windsor-Smith does draw Ororo in her Dave Cockrum designed outfit as part of a flashback in Lifedeath, but it doesn’t really gel. His superhero costumes lose some sizzle in translation. It helps that Storm’s punk rock outfit is club wear. Also, his drawing of the mohawk is paper thin, like a fin on a fish. Later, Art Adams would fluff it out like a Spartan helmet, but first we had to learn to live with Storm being mostly bald for a while. It’s not my favorite rendition of the mohawk, but I think it works perfectly with how stark and moody Windsor-Smith drew Storm. It’s like he understood that even though she lost her powers, Ororo was still a force of nature.
Here’s Barry Windsor-Smith’s Storm in a great dynamic pose. You can almost feel the winds blowing around you thanks to the diagonal lines contrasting the cloud curves. Go read Lifedeath now.

What I’m Reading Right Now: The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book quite like Tom Spanbauer‘s The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon. Or perhaps everything I’ve read before has led me to this book. It’s hard to say. What I’m sure of is that I want to read it all over again. Which is strange since I tend to read a book and then hungrily devour the next book in my “to read” pile. It’s also kind of funny since I picked this book up twice, read the first page and then put it back down again.

Everyone I know who has seen the copy in my possession has raved about how great it is, but they never gave me any specifics as to why they loved it. My copy was a present from a very good friend who had the great fortune to stay at the author’s home. My friend brought me back a signed copy and lauded the book’s virtues. So, when I needed a book to take with me on the plane to a Radical Faerie Gathering I snatched it up, hoping that this time I would get past the first page. I hoped that I would find some spiritual resonance with the novel once I left the mundane world for faeriedom. I don’t always need a book to pluck my spirit strings, but it’s great when they do.

Well, thanks to the conversational antics of a delightfully silly fey named Hysterica, I didn’t get any reading done on the plane to the Gathering. And no, I didn’t have a chance to read while I was camping in the woods and manifesting Beltane intentions either (No surprise there). And no, I won’t be spilling the dirt on Rad Feys and what they are and what they do and what the heck is a gathering because, 1.) that would be a whole post in and of itself and 2.) some things are best left unexplained and 3.) I don’t speak for they Faes as we have no leaders and 4.) I don’t want to right now anyway.

On the plane ride back to San Francisco (Which I almost missed due to some very important doll shopping at an antique mall which seemed like a good idea at the time) I was seated between a married couple (We’ll call them Nancy and Greg, since that is their names). I asked them why I was seated in between them and Nancy told me that she enjoys the window seat and her husband liked the aisle seat. So, I got the middle. Nancy was very friendly and we chatted about all sorts of things. Her husband was quick to put his headphones on once he realized how very very queer our conversation was going to be. And, bless her heart, poor Nancy became so inundated with my chatter that she had to stare helplessly at the passing clouds until I realized that she probably needed some alone time.

I grabbed my book and started in on that oh so familiar first page. I read it and turned the page. I kept going. I didn’t stop until the effect of drinking three cans of water made me jump across Greg to go to the restroom (That’s what you get for sitting in the aisle seat, buddy). I was hooked on The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon.

I didn’t get to finish the book on that flight and I didn’t get to read it later that night after my friend Rio and I arrived in Oakland. Both of us came down with bad colds and I ended up sleeping a lot. I’m still suffering from some major sinus pressure so I hope this review will make some sense when I’m better. If not, I hope the tangential digressions are at least fun for you, dear reader.

Last night, I was so sick of being sick and really sick of sleeping and I picked the book up again. I read it all the way through with only minimal stops to the restroom. I was driven to finish the narrative so engaged I was with the characters, situations, settings and themes. Every chapter cracked my brain and heart and spirit open in ways I didn’t and couldn’t have expected. This book is real, folks. It’s the hero’s journey a la Joseph Campbell, it’s tragedy and comedy, it’s heartwarming and heartbreaking, and it’s its own thing.

I think the reason I wasn’t able to get into it before was due to the intense power of the narrator’s voice, the unfamiliar language that immediately washed over me, and the back and forth timeline of events. You have to pay attention when you step into this world. You cannot remain a passive reader. Spanbauer tells a great story but he’s doing more than that. He’s creating something completely new in regards to how we consider story, myth and that elusive beast we call history. Most importantly, he’s weaving a spell.

What’s this spell about? Well, I’m not going to spoil the plot. I’m certainly not going to reiterate the book jacket blurbs for you. You know how to look that stuff up on Amazon. I will tell you that the magic of this book revolves around how we tell ourselves stories, how we create our lives and and what it means to be your self, regardless of who you think you are and where you think you might be from. It’s about family. It’s about truth. It’s about forgiveness, trust, and love. It’s about healing and much, much more.

Do yourself a favor and check out Tom Spanbauer’s The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon. I guarantee you’ll learn a few new things about yourself, your loved ones and the world you live in.

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