Monday, December 17, 2012

Larry Blake Collaborations

Larry Blake and Hawaii's own Gerry Lee have re-teamed to continue their collaboration on Gerry's comic book, The New Sons of Thunder, after two years apart. This results in two current projects: 1) Gerry is putting out a trade paperback collecting the first three issues written by Gerry and drawn by Larry, with a full-color cover by Larry. 2) Gerry and Larry are also working on a fourth issue which promises to be just as much fun as the others.

The Sons of Thunder are Tempest and Maelstrom, two would-be adventurers from Gokuraku island, "a place halfway between heaven and earth" where "anything can happen, and any place and any time is a simple boat ride away." These two sword-wielding princes, who can call down thunder and lightning, are on "a mission from God" as "heralds of the Messiah," a task they pursue with more enthusiasm than knowledge.

Gerry composes his fun and funny stories with their very appealing extended cast as roughly drawn manga-style pages, which Larry then translates into finished art in his own cartoony style, sometimes using Gerry's layouts, sometimes not. Like Larry's work with James Rubino, this blend achieves a quality beyond any Larry and Gerry could achieve alone. There's never been a comic quite like The New Sons of Thunder. It's an all-ages fun-blast that isn't tied to any one time or place!

Larry loves collaborating with other cartoonists, as these past couple of entries show. He claims he learns something new from every team-up. Just recently, he completed a year-long project doing inks and finishes on a dozen stories of a character called Silverwolf, written by Kevin Yong and roughed out by artist Eric Jansen. Kevin and Eric have created a unique superhero who is fun and appealing to all ages. The stories tie together in an overall science-fiction-tinged way while covering a wide-surface look and feel of everything from science fiction, superheroics, fantasy, and horror. The Silverwolf stories are slated for release in a trade-paperback collection. Most have been previewed in rough form in the Alpha-Omega APAzine, issued by the Christian Comic Arts Society. Click here for their website.

Larry Blake is a busy artist, and he has another collaboration in the works for Five Star Comics #2. It is the second story in the saga of Larry's new superheroine, Missile. This time out, the story is ten pages and is scripted by Terence Hanley. Penciled and lettered by Larry, the newest Missile story will be inked by Larry's longtime collaborator, that living legend of small press, Tim Corrigan!

Art copyright 2012 Larry Blake
Text copyright 2012 Five Star Comics

Monday, December 10, 2012

Larry Blake Teams Up on Followers of the All

Archives of the Alien-Volume 1: Followers of the All is now available from small-press veteran James Rubino. It features the origin of the Christian superhero Mr. Faith, who appeared in many small-press digests of the 1980s. This science fiction adventure is set in a  dystopian future and drawn in James' wild-and-wonderful style that seems like a crazed blend of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. On top of that potent eye-candy are the moody inks and legible lettering of Five Star Comics' own Larry Blake. Larry and James are longtime artistic collaborators and have done over 400 pages together--most of which remain unpublished!

James Rubino is a musician/writer/artist who has now added "publisher" to his list of accomplishments. Aside from Followers of the All, he has released the Tales of the Seventh Galaxy series and several other cool titles. His work is visually powerful and thought-provoking. James is one of a kind despite his obvious influences. Add Larry Blake's also one-of-a-kind underground-comix-influenced bold inking style to the mix and it becomes a very strong visual that neither artist could achieve on his own. Check out:

for cool Rubino/Blake comics.

Copyright 2012 Five Star Comics

Monday, December 3, 2012

Comics Buyer's Guide Reviews Five Star #1 & #2

Whitney Grace, a reviewer for Comics Buyer's Guide, has written about her impressions of Five Star Comics #1 and #2 in the magazine's November issue. Ms. Grace voices an opinion that seems common among comic book readers of today. "Original stories inspired by or updating the Golden Age adventures are welcome," she writes,  "especially their freedom from modern super-hero soap operas." In creating Five Star Comics, we wanted to avoid the cynicism, irony, extreme violence, nihilism, moral relativism, and moral depravity of modern day comics. If super soaps are part of that picture, we're glad we have avoided that, too. In any case, Ms. Grace concludes her review with this: "Five Star Comics has something going for it that many other independent comics lack." She doesn't say what that might be, but we hope it's good.

Original text copyright 2013 Five Star Comics

Monday, November 26, 2012

Tim Corrigan Retiring

Veteran small-press cartoonist and Five Star creator Tim Corrigan has announced his retirement from drawing comic books. People throughout the world of small press have received the news with surprise, dismay, and sadness. Tim is a great cartoonist and can always be counted on to issue funny and well-drawn comics. We will miss him a lot. Tim's reasons for retiring are personal and professional and while we can understand, we wish it could be different. We wish Tim all good fortune and success.

Copyright 2012 Five Star Comics

Monday, November 19, 2012

Secret Origins

The Lost World of Cave Girl!
Part 2

This year marks the one hundredth anniversary of a banner year in the literature of fantasy and adventure. Nineteen twelve was particularly significant in the development of the little genre of lost worlds, a genre inhabited by Cave Girl and countless other fictional characters.

The lost world genre is no doubt named for Arthur Conan Doyle's novel, The Lost World, serialized in The Strand Magazine between April and November 1912 and published in hardback before the year was out. The Lost World set the pattern for all lost worlds to come: intrepid explorers (led in this case by Professor Challenger) mount an expedition to a hidden and almost inaccessible land where they find prehistoric creatures and strange races of men. We have all enjoyed books, movies, and TV shows that fit the pattern: King Kong (film, 1933), Robert Moore Williams' Jongor series (fiction, 1940-1951), The Valley of Gwangi (film, 1969) and Land of the Lost (television, 1974-1977) are just a few examples. Works as varied as Herland (1915), At the Mountains of Madness (1931), Lost Horizon (1933), The Island at the Top of the World (1974), Jurassic Park (1993), Lost (2004-2010), and Ka-Zar and the Savage Land (Marvel Comics) draw on the conventions of a genre pioneered in the original Lost World.

Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) may have been pioneer, but no writer exploited the lost worlds genre to a greater extent than Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950), nor in more ways. A restless jack-of-all-trades, Burroughs set off his writing career with a bang in 1912, first with John Carter of Mars, then with an even greater success, Tarzan of the Apes. The saga of John Carter began in February 1912 in the pages of The All-Story with a serial entitled "Under the Moons of Mars," later published in hardback as A Princess of Mars (1917). Although it's considered a work of planetary romance or science fantasy, the collected John Carter can be interpreted as another variation on the lost worlds genre, complete with strange creatures, varied races of men, and decaying civilizations. By Burroughs' time, of course, few options remained for locating lost worlds on Earth, a world that was mostly found. Whether he intended to or not, Burroughs expanded the possibilities of lost worlds by locating them in outer space. His Barsoom was a forerunner to the myriad lost worlds of science fiction.

Edgar Rice Burroughs completed his annus mirabilis with "Tarzan of the Apes," published in The All-Story in October 1912 and in a hardbound edition two years later. Eventually running to twenty-two volumes published in Burroughs' lifetime, the story of Tarzan brought together all the elements of the lost worlds genre: the modern man thrust into a primitive environment; conversely, the primitive man introduced into the modern world; preternaturally intelligent animals; races of men of every size, shape, color, description, and culture; lost cities; hidden valleys; forgotten civilizations; dinosaurs and other strange creatures; a hollow earth; and on and on. Tarzan remains one of the most recognizable characters the world over. The influence of Tarzan and his creator are incalculable, even today.

Three works--The Lost World, "Under the Moons of Mars," and "Tarzan of the Apes," all from 1912--brought together the pieces of the lost world genre. Everything that followed--including the comic book stories of Cave Girl--has been a variation on a theme composed a century ago by two authors, Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Rice Burroughs.

To be continued . . .

Published in 1912, The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle has been adapted to the movies many times, and why not? After all, it brings together people and dinosaurs in a way the real world has never seen fit to do. Here's a paperback tie-in to the 1960 version, directed by Irwin Allen.
Before Frazetta, there was J. Allen St. John, and before him, Frank Schoonover. Great American illustrators have been drawn to the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs and for good reason. Whatever he may have lacked in literary ability, Burroughs possessed a powerful and fertile imagination. 
Two covers with similar themes: From a distance, Tarzan looks upon a lost city. I don't know the artist for the first of these two covers, but Frank Frazetta, in his watercolor period, created the second. Frazetta will figure pretty prominently in the continued secret origin of Cave Girl.

Text copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Secret Origins

The Lost World of Cave Girl!
Part 1

Of the public domain characters to appear so far in Five Star Comics, one of the most popular has been Cave Girl. That's a pleasant surprise considering she was a last minute addition to our lineup. So how did this denizen of the Dawn Lands make the jump from the Golden Age to the Five Star Age? Thereby hangs a tale that begins decades before Cave Girl's comic book debut.

Long before comic books, before science fiction and pulp magazines, writers told stories of lost worlds. Until the Age of Exploration began, much of the world was terra incognita. Named in Roman times, Africa lay largely unexplored until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Americas were undiscovered by Europeans until the late 1400s and the North American frontier didn't close until 1890. Australia was unknown until 1606, while Antarctica wasn't discovered until 1820. For centuries, the map of the globe was mostly blank or based on spotty exploration or mere conjecture. As late as the nineteenth century, lost worlds--lands where strange creatures and unknown peoples might still live--were a possibility rather than just works of the imagination.

According to The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, tales of lost worlds began when the world was still geographically "open." Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (1726), though satirical, is an example of lost worlds from a time when it was still possible for the earth to contain strange and unknown places. "The lost-world story," as the encyclopedia explains, "belonged to a cartographically 'closed' world." By the late 1800s, few options remained for locating a lost world story on a plausibly "real" earth. Jules Verne solved the problem with a journey to the center of the earth in 1863. Stories of subterranean civilizations or of a hollow earth continued into the twentieth century, as late as Mike Grell's comic book fantasy The Warlord (1975) or Steven Utley and Howard Waldrop's story "Black as the Pit, from Pole to Pole" (1977). H. Rider Haggard (1856-1925) took a different path, locating his lost worlds in an African continent that was still largely unexplored at the publication of King Solomon's Mines (1885), Allan Quatermain (1887), and She (1886). Two writers from a generation later would pick up on the theme. Other men may have written lost world adventures before and after them, but no one is more closely identified with the genre (besides Haggard) than Edgar Rice Burroughs and Arthur Conan Doyle.

To be continued . . .

Before the map of the world was finally drawn, before terra incognita became an archaic term, the unknown earth was a place of unimagined possibilities, of strange beasts, fierce monsters, unknown races of men, and lost civilizations.
Here terra incognita is in Asia . . .
Here at the bottom of the world.
Writing in the late nineteenth century, H. Rider Haggard placed his tales of lost worlds in darkest Africa, a place as yet largely unexplored by Europeans. With its hidden valley, lost city, and isolated cultures, King Solomon's Mines, published in 1885, would set the pattern for the lost worlds genre of adventure and science fiction. 
Haggard's novel has been committed to film several times. Here's a paperback tie-in with the 1950 version starring Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr. This edition is one of Dell's renowned "map-backs." Without intending to, the book hearkens back to the age of exploration and its maps of new discoveries and terra incognita. If you have read the book and know the name of the "twin mountains," you might recognize an unintentional visual pun repeated on the front cover of the book.
King Solomon's Mines was wildly successful and demanded a sequel. The first was Allan Quatermain, from 1887. This scan is from the collection of Robert Weinberg.
Of all Haggard's books, only King Solomon's Mines exceeds the fame of She (1886) and then perhaps only for its chronological primacy. One of the bestselling books of all time, She has never gone out of print. 
Like King Solomon's Mines, She has been adapted to the movies many times. Here's the paperback tie-in for the 1965 version starring Ursula Andress. 
She-who-must-be-obeyed lives on in fiction by Haggard's successors. Here's a novel from 1978, written by the British author Peter Tremayne (Peter Berresford Ellis). 
She was the first of Haggard's books to be adapted to film. There have been at least eleven versions of the story. Here's a poster for the 1925 version starring Betty Blythe. 
Here's the 1935 version with Helen Gahagan as the title character. Just two years before, producer Merian C. Cooper had been responsible for one of the most famous of lost world movies. Entitled King Kong, it is still--nearly eighty years after its premiere--a powerful film.  
Finally, here's the poster for the 1965 She, featuring Hammer regulars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. I could go on all day showing images from H. Rider Haggard's imagination. I think a scrapbook compilation of images like these is long past due.

Text copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, September 17, 2012

Five Star Comics at the Mothman Festival!

The Mothman Festival--the biggest event of the year for the creators of Five Star Comics--has come and gone. Larry BlakeGary Gibeaut, and Terence Hanley had some of their best convention and festival days ever. The weather was perfect both days and the crowds seem to be getting bigger and bigger every year. Gary's new Mothman posters were very popular and Larry sold original art, a favorite among crowds wherever he goes. Terence offered his new coloring book, Monsters from the Mountains, and his new UFOlogist and cryptozoologist trading cards. Five Star Comics continues to sell steadily. By the time convention season rolls around again, we'll have a new issue available. Keep watching this space!

Copyright 2012 Five Star Comics

Monday, August 20, 2012

Five Star Creators at Yellow Springs

Every year, Yellow Springs, a small city in western Ohio, holds a book fair at Mills Lawn Elementary School. This year, Larry Blake and Terence Hanley went to the fair to sell their own books and used books from their collections. It was a return to his old stomping grounds for Larry. He had a good time catching up with old friends, and he even sold a few books. Terence sold some books, too, including a few copies of Five Star Comics to the local comic book store. The weather was great, more like a day in June than a day in August. The crowds weren't especially big. We can only hope that word of the fair gets around to book lovers in Dayton, Springfield, Cincinnati, and Columbus and that attendance is up next year.

Text copyright 2012 Five Star Comics

Monday, July 30, 2012

Five Star Creators at the River City Comic Con

This was the week for the second annual River City Comic Con, and Larry Blake and Terence Hanley were on hand to sell their books and original art. Jordan Lowe was there as well, and it's a good thing because he was the man in charge. Attendance was good and the convention hall was a big change over last year. Everyone remembers the sweltering heat at the fairgrounds in Marietta last year. Despite the weather, everyone stuck it out and had fun. This year's show took place across town in the ballroom of the Lafayette Hotel, right next to the Ohio River. There was a river boat out front at the start of the show. The boat was so big it looked like someone had laid a building sideways on the water--a reminder of days gone by and why Marietta is called the River City. There's plenty of foot traffic in Marietta on weekends. Some of those people must have found their way into the Lafayette Hotel and its room full of art, artists, and comic books because attendance was excellent (and so was the atmosphere). There was even a celebrity guest, Ian Petrella, who played Randy, the little brother, in The Christmas Story (1983). And guess what--he had a leg lamp with him!

Text copyright 2012 Five Star Comics

Monday, July 2, 2012

Robert Sodaro Reviews Five Star on The Comics Examiner

Writer and reviewer Robert Sodaro has reviewed Five Star Comics #1 on a website called The Examiner. Mr. Sodaro's title is "Comic Book Examiner," and you could fairly say that he has examined Five Star Comics in depth. Among his comments:
If you are looking for a modern-day comic that delivers a Golden Age feeling, then you’ll just need to get your hands on . . . 5 Star Comics. In a comicbook world populated by mainstream sameness and Indie Wannabes, 5 Star Comics is a delightful breath of fresh air. . . .
Each of the five stories evokes a feeling of classic comics that this reviewer hasn’t had in years. Everything from the style of art to the storytelling itself evokes such an amazing feel that you wonder why other creators cannot successfully emulate this style and return to simply creating good comics. . . .
All throughout the comic, the reader is treated to the pure delights of rapidly-told tales that hit the ground running and don’t waste a single panel or line of dialogue. Each story has something to say and does it in a fashion that makes the reading of it quite enjoyable indeed. So, if you are looking for a good read, then you’ll want to check out . . . 5 Star Comics, you’ll be glad you did (we certainly were).
That sounds like a comic book we would like to read! In any case, you can read Mr. Sodaro's review in its entirety by clicking here.

Original text copyright 2012 Five Star Comics

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Convention News Roundup

June was a good month for comic book conventions and Five Star creators Larry Blake and Terence Hanley. On Saturday, June 9, 2012, Larry and Terence drove to Huntington, West Virginia, for the Tri-State Comic Con. Held in a cavernous arena, the Tri-State Comic Con is the first comic convention to be held in Huntington in almost thirty years. The gang in charge of the convention did a good job advertising and promoting the show. The turnout was great and West Virginians showed once again that they know their monsters! Terence sold plenty of Mothman coloring books and the first issue of Five Star Comics, which features not one but two Mothmen on the cover. The Tri-State Comic Con is a go for next year. It will take place on April 6, 2013, once again at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington. See the website here.

Terence made a return to the Derby City Comic Con to end the month. This was his second time at the Louisville show. It's a family-friendly convention and there were plenty of kids on hand. Terence sold Five Star Comics, Lucky Girl comics, coloring books, posters, and original art. He also met a man who had a first-hand encounter with something strange and unexplainable, just like the people depicted in Terence's coloring books. The Derby City Comic Con will also return next year. The date is June 29, 2013, the place is the Kentucky International Convention Center, and the website is here.

Text copyright 2012 Five Star Comics

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Secret Origins

Flip Falcon in the Fourth Dimension!
Part 3

Science fiction arrived on the newspaper comics page in January 1929 with the debut of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century A.D., written by Philip Nowlan and drawn by Dick Calkins. Five years to the day after Buck Rogers awoke from his centuries-long nap, Flash Gordon, written and drawn by Alex Raymond, premiered on the Sunday comics page, halfway through what comic-strip historian Ron Goulart called "The Adventurous Decade." On the road between those two comic strip milestones, in August 1933, Brick Bradford made its debut. Guided by writer William Ritt and artist Clarence Gray (later by Paul Norris), Brick Bradford would last for more than half a century, thrilling and intriguing its readers with storylines that ran on for months or even years.

In 1935, Ritt and Gray introduced an ingenious plot device to their comic strip. Originally a the eponymous device in a Sunday strip topper, the marvelous machine known as The Time Top descended into the Brick Bradford comic strip, and the redheaded Kentuckian went whirling away into multiple dimensions of time and space. Flip Falcon's Fourth Dimension Machine sounds suspiciously like a swipe of the Time Top. That's only one bit of evidence that Flip was based on Brick. Here's the clincher: in his first three adventures, Flip Falcon was called Flick Falcon--Flick to rhyme with Brick, and suitably alliterative for the comics. Don Rico drew the first few Flick/Flip Falcon stories (the writer is unknown), but by issue number four of Fantastic Comics, Flick became Flip, and the character's origin was obscured. And why was the name changed? If you have ever hand lettered a comic book story, you'll know why.

Flip Falcon starred in twenty-one issues of Fantastic Comics, his adventures finally coming to an end in 1941. Brick Bradford, the character that inspired Flip's creation, carried on for nearly half a century, with the last Brick Bradford strip appearing in newspapers in May 1987. The Time Top survives, and you can see it for yourself by making the trip to downtown Vancouver, British Columbia. There you will find a bronze sculpture of the whirling wonder, created by Jerry Pethick. As for new adventures of Flip Falcon, do what your friends are doing and read Five Star Comics!

Brick Bradford by Ritt and Gray in a British comic book. That's The Time Top in the upper left corner and at the bottom center. Brick is on the center left with one of his girlfriends. The alien creature on the opposite side of the page looks a lot like Rapuzzi Johannis' "Little Green Man" from the late 1940s. "Adventures in time and space"--so says the subtitle. You could easily replace Brick Bradford's name with that of Flip Falcon, hero of the fourth dimension!
Text copyright 2012 Five Star Comics

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Secret Origins

Flip Falcon in the Fourth Dimension!
Part 2

The secret origin of Flip Falcon continues . . .

Comic book writer and store owner Jordan Lowe wrote the first script for the comic book that would eventually become Five Star Comics. Jordan enlisted Gary Gibeaut, creator of The Guard Dawgs, as artist, and after many months of labor, Gary drew his Flip Falcon story to a close. By then, Larry Blake, Tim Corrigan, Terence Hanley, and Matt Marshall were on board and the first issue of Five Star Comics was in the works. Our comic book made its debut at the Mothman Festival in 2011 and has since received great reviews.

So just who is this character Flip Falcon and where did he come from? As I said in Part 1, Flip Falcon was drawn by the artist Don Rico (1912-1985) for the first issue of Fantastic Comics, a title published by Fox Publications. Then in his late twenties, Rico had gotten his start as an artist by engraving woodblocks under the tutelage of Hendrik J. Glintenkamp. In 1939, Rico began working in comic books. His pencils and inks for the first Flip Falcon story must have been one of his earliest efforts in the new art form.

You wouldn't know it to look at the black-and-white version in Five Star Comics, but Flip Falcon was originally a redhead. Unlike Superman and hundreds of other superheroes, he didn't sport a fancy costume, just a white shirt, regular pants, and, as Gary Gibeaut says, "sensible shoes." The thing that set him apart was his fantastic Fourth Dimension Machine. Red hair . . . ordinary clothing . . . a super-science gadget . . . that sounds an awful lot like another character from the 1930s and '40s, a character who was very popular in his day but is seldom remembered now: William Ritt and Clarence Gray's Brick Bradford.

To be concluded . . .

Jordan Lowe's and Gary Gibeaut's "Flip Falcon in the Fourth Dimension" from Five Star Comics #1.

Flip Falcon script copyright 2012 Jordan Lowe.
Flip Falcon artwork copyright 2012 Gary Gibeaut
Text copyright 2012 Five Star Comics

Monday, June 18, 2012

Secret Origins

Flip Falcon in the Fourth Dimension!
Part 1

Flip Falcon, traveler across time and space, is back after seven decades in suspended animation. Created by writer and artist Don Rico (1912-1985), Flip Falcon appeared in twenty-one issues of Fantastic Comics, from the first issue in December 1939 until the twenty-first issue in August 1941. Using his Fourth Dimension Machine, Flip traveled at will across the space-time continuum, frequently doing battle with a creature known as Chongo and his devilish Demi-Things, inhabitants of another, nightmarish dimension. Now Flip Falcon lives again in the pages of Five Star Comics #1. In an adventure scripted by Jordan Lowe and drawn by Gary Gibeaut, Flip once again goes up against the Demi-Things, aided by his girlfriend, the always able Adele, and defeats them with the help of one of the most powerful forces ever known: American popular music!

Like all the other protagonists in Five Star Comics #1, Flip Falcon is a superhero in the public domain. So what does that mean? Well, after Superman made his debut in 1938, comic book companies popped up everywhere attempting to cash in on the superhero craze. Soon newsstands were loaded with ten-cent epics full of superhero adventures. Unfortunately, after World War II, superheroes went into decline and so did a lot of comic book companies. Fortunately for us, those companies and their successors never renewed their copyrights or trademarks and so hundreds of characters and titles fell into the public domain. Today, anyone, anywhere can use public domain characters without permission and without paying a dime in royalties. That's where Five Star Comics began.

To be continued . . . 

Text copyright 2012 Five Star Comics

Friday, June 8, 2012

Larry Blake and Terence Hanley at Tri-Con

Larry Blake and Terence Hanley will be at the Tri-State Comic Con tomorrow, Saturday, June 9, 2012. The convention is on from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, West Virginia, home state of the Mothman. Larry and Terence will have their books for sale, including Five Star Comics #1 and Five Star Comics #2. This is the first comic convention to be held in Huntington for years. It has been well publicized and well promoted, so there should be a big crowd. Come on down for some fun and a talk with the many creative people in the Tri-State area.

Copyright 2012 Five Star Comics

Self Publisher Magazine Reviews Five Star Comics #1

Self Publisher Magazine, a journal of small and independent press, has reviewed the first issue of Five Star Comics. Here's what the magazine's online reviewer had to say:
What a cool concept here. The creators of these comics have dipped into the foggy past, looking way back to the dawn of comics for characters that have gone into public domain, and they have latched onto the style and feel of those comics, and made new stories. Indeed, these strips are really something, and they deliver solid entertainment with depth and pathos, and bring relevance and freshness to boot. There isn't a clunker in here, every page and every panel has coolness dripping into every fiber of the paper. I read this cover to cover, devouring its insanely clever hooks and delightful nods at history, as it made me want to read more and more new stories of this nature. And as luck would have it, I already have #2 in the review pile for the next round through the box…so I know there is more. Meanwhile, go out of your way to get this. It is worth it. What a great book it is.
Wow! We're blushing! Seriously, though, it looks like we have succeeded in what we were setting out to do when we started Five Star Comics. If you would like to read more small press and independent press news, see the website of Self Publisher Magazine here.

Original text copyright 2012 Five Star Comics

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ratha Con in The Athens News

The Athens News, a locally owned tabloid newspaper, covered the first annual Ratha Con in its May 29, 2012, edition. The article is called "Athens' First Comic Convention: All Characters Welcome." The author is Megan Moseley. You can read her article online by clicking here.

Although small and just beginning, this year's convention was full of spirit. The facilities at the Athens Community Center are great, with plenty of room for vendors and visitors alike. We're looking forward to next year's Ratha Con.

Copyright 2012 Five Star Comics

Friday, June 1, 2012

Reviews of Five Star Comics #2

Tony Isabella Reviews Five Star Comics

Veteran comic book writer Tony Isabella has reviewed Five Star Comics #1 and #2 on his blog, entitled appropriately enough, "Tony Isabella's Bloggy Thing." Although his posting is called "I Flirted with Madness" (May 15, 2012), the title has nothing to do with his reading of our comic book. Instead, Mr. Isabella is mostly favorable in his review. His favorite story is "Yesterday and Today," Larry Blake's first entry in the Missile/Silver Streak saga from the inaugural issue of Five Star Comics. Despite a couple of quibbles, Mr. Isabella has this to say: "I think many of my bloggy thing readers would enjoy these two comic books." He also reviewed Lucky Girl #1 by Terence Hanley, calling it "charming."

Steve Keeter, The Classic Comics Man, has also reviewed Five Star Comics #2, and he did it before even reading it! You can see his video review, "Designed to Rot the Brain Fast," dated May 17, 2012, on YouTube. (His title doesn't have anything to do with Five Star Comics, either.) Click here for the link. So what does he have to say? Read on:
"Cool back cover"
"Great stuff like Cave Girl and The Bat-King"
"I love this guy's artwork" (Terence)
"Some crazy, funny, wacky . . . slapstick" (The Amalga-Mates)
"I'm so wild about the artwork"
"This guy is a great pencil artist" (Matt)
"This is one of the best comics around"
You don't have to take Steve's word for it. Find out for yourself why readers love Five Star Comics. Order your copy today.

Text copyright 2012 Five Star Comics

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Five Star Comments

Here at Five Star Comics we welcome your letters! And we will print selections from your letters on our letters page, "Five Star Comments." It used to be that comic books printed letters. Reading what others had to say about prior issues was part of the fun of reading comic books. Now the letters page is back in our very own Five Star Comics! So how do you reach us? Well, unless you hand deliver one of the scrawled missives over which you have labored for endless days, you can reach us in three ways:

One, you can write to us by Golden Age mail at:

Five Star Comics
c/o Larry Blake
69306 State Route 124
Reedsville, OH 45772

Two, you can write to us by email at:

Three, you can leave a comment on this very blog.

If we had the means, we would also accept messages by carrier pigeon, tom-tom, smoke signal, and Morse code. It's safer just to use one of the three methods described above. In any case, please write to us and tell us how we're doing, what you like, what you don't like, how we can improve--whatever you have to say, we'd like to hear from you. Write today!

Art copyright 2012 by Gary Gibeaut
Text copyright 2012 by Five Star Comics

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Black Bat Video on YouTube

Black Bat artist Matt Marshall has created a video for "Origin of The Black Bat," his first comic book story and the lead story for Five Star Comics #2. You can see the video, "5 STAR COMICS #2: ORIGIN OF THE BLACK BAT!" on YouTube, here.

Black Bat art and video copyright 2012 by Matt Marshall

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Five Star Comics #2 Now in Print

For those eagerly awaiting the second issue of Five Star Comics--it has arrived! Five Star Comics #2, with a cover and a lead story by Black Bat artist Matt Marshall, is now in print. The newest issue of our comic book made its debut at the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (S.P.A.C.E.) during the weekend of April 21-22, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio, and is now available to readers. Ordering information is below. In the meantime, have a look at a sampling from Five Star Comics #2.

In the lead story of Five Star Comics #2, Matt Marshall reveals the origin of The Black Bat--the NEW Black Bat, son of the original from the pulp magazines of the 1930s and '40s. Matt's artwork is like nothing you have seen before in the comics and unlike anything you're likely to see anytime soon. 
Missile, great granddaughter of the Golden Age superhero Silver Streak, returns to face an old foe in "The Trojan Cuckoo." Larry Blake created Missile for the first issue of Five Star Comics and handled the penciling on this story. Tim Corrigan provided the inks. 
Next up: Gary Gibeaut wrote, penciled, and inked a tribute to Will Eisner's original Lady Luck. The story is called "The Return of Lady Luck" and features a new incarnation of the 1940s Lady Luck drawn by Klaus Nordling. 
The whole gang collaborated on "The Case of the Nutcase," a story featuring The Amalga-Mates, the first all-original characters to appear in Five Star Comics. In real life, The Amalga-Mates are Hemsworth V. Hemsworth and Semyon Hemsworth, millionaire philanthropists. Donning the trappings of their alter egos, they become the world's first and only Siamese twin superheroes! Tim Corrigan penciled a script by Terence Hanley. The inking came from Many Hands.

Cave Girl returns to Five Star Comics in a ten-page story, "Cave Girl and the Bat King," written and drawn by Terence Hanley.
So how do you order this 48-page extravaganza? Just send a check or money order for $5.00 to:

Larry Blake
69306 State Route 124
Reedsville, OH 45772

And what do you get for your five dollars? Five stories by five artists and featuring five (or six) protagonists, plus two pages of letters, a preview of Miss Masque, and a full-color photo-collage of Cave Girl by Larry Blake on the back cover. Order yours today.

Text copyright by 2012 by Five Star Comics
Art copyright 2012 by Matt Marshall, Larry Blake, Tim Corrigan, Gary Gibeaut, and Terence Hanley

Monday, May 28, 2012

Reviews of Five Star Comics #1

Reviews are in for Five Star Comics #1 and here's what critics have to say:

Steve Shipley in Paper & Ink No. 2 (Nov. 2011):
Larry Blake, Terence Hanley, and Gary Gibeaut have put together an excellent comic book featuring some Golden Age heroes that are now in the public domain, and each story is outstanding in story and art. This has to be the best comic I've received this year so far. Five Star Comics features Five heroes in Five distinct strips that all have the Golden Age feel and an exceptional display of artistic talent. Moth Man, Silver Streak, Marvel Maid, Flip Falcon, and Cave Girl! Order this comic, you will not be disappointed!
Steve Keeter, The Classic Comics Man, on YouTube (Oct. 9, 2011):
On Five Star Comics: "outstanding Golden Age-ist comic"
On "Cave Girl": "I just love the artwork in this . . . brilliant work"
On "Moth Man Meets Mothman": "beautiful cartooning style . . . gorgeous . . . bold [inking]"

Comic book artist and writer Michael Neno (Nov. 2011):
In a world of dreary, dark, photographed/photoshopped anti-hero comic books, there are a few (but fortunately, growing) number of cartoonists creating fun, classically fashioned, cartoony comic books.
I can now add 5 Star Comics to the list! It’s a fun book created by cartoonists who are more in command of their craft with each project they work on. That bodes well for 5 Star Comics and its readers. I’ll be one of them.
Larry Johnson in Tales of Fantasy (2011):
Readers, Larry [Blake] has collaborated with some other creative types to come up with a very special comic book! It's called "5 Star Comics" and it is a real unique concept. Public domain heroes from the Golden Age of Comics are revived for this title, and the results are fun, and full of the same kind of enthusiasm and verve that the original material had.
Again, Larry Johnson in Tetragrammaton Fragments (the newsletter of the United Fanzine Organization or U.F.O., 2011):
So, how would it be if actual Golden Age comic book heroes were to appear in brand new adventures? Well, this book is a dream come true. Larry Blake has joined Terence Hanley, Jordan Lowe, and Gary Gibeaut to offer adventures of these real Golden Age comic book characters in the public domain, and the results are just delightful. There's a sense of wonder and naivety to those early efforts, to the first material produced specifically for the comics market around 1940, and if you enjoyed Fantagraphics' Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes book reprints from that era, you will get a kick out of the adventures of Moth Man, Silver Streak, Marvel Maid, Flip Falcon, and Cave Girl! . . . [T]his new collection is a great homage to that era.
You can order Five Star Comics #1 by sending a check or money order for $4.00 to:

Larry Blake
69306 State Route 124
Reedsville, OH 45772

Five Star Comics #1--Full-color cover, 37 pages black-and-white interior, plus a preview of The Black Bat on the back cover.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Convention News Roundup

It has been a busy spring for Five Star Comics and the artists and writers behind this new title. Five Star creator Terence Hanley has driven all over the Ohio Valley, attending conventions in Lexington (March 24), Dayton (March 31-April 1), Columbus (April 21-22), Fort Wayne (May 12), and Athens, Ohio (May 26). Terence's Mothman, Aliens, and Flying Saucers Coloring Book and Monsters and Aliens of America Coloring Book continue to sell well to investigators of the paranormal and the extraterrestrial. Five Star Comics #1 is a hit with fans of Golden Age comic books. And Lucky Girl #1 has drawn the attention of discerning readers. Larry Blake, Tim Corrigan, and Gary Gibeaut have also been to conventions this spring and have sold their art, comic books, stickers, and other items.

The Lexington Comic and Toy Convention, a bustling show held at the Convention Center in Lexington, Kentucky, was a big success for its organizers. Over 4,000 people attended. In addition to selling his books, Terence drew convention sketches, sketch cards, and a commissioned drawing of a pulp cover featuring a previously unknown pulp author, Luke Dodd. Terence also met comic professional Bob McLeod and picked up Mr. McLeod's first children's book, the funny and beautifully illustrated Superhero ABC. The organizers of the show also published a convention comic book in which Terence's new character, Island Girl, made her debut--and in color. Island Girl is just one of a new line of superheroes and heroines Terence is developing for a future series.

Island Girl makes her debut in the Lexington Comic and Toy Convention comic.

Terence was back in Ohio the following weekend for the two-day Gem City Comic Con, held at the Student Union at Wright State University. Comic book dealers took up the big convention hall, while artists' alley was located in a smaller room across the entryway. It was an encouraging sign to see families and children at the show. Monsters and Aliens of America was the big seller, but Terence's sketch cards were popular, too. Wonder Woman was on hand to see herself depicted on a sketch card, and although the sketch card might be good, it can't compare to the real Wonder Woman. Terence also picked up a comic book page by Ohio artist Dan Davis.

The Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo--S.P.A.C.E.--was the big event in April. Five Star creators Larry Blake, Tim Corrigan, Gary Gibeaut, and Terence Hanley were on hand for the premiere of their second issue of Five Star Comics! Chock-full of art, Five Star Comics #2 is the work of five artists and writers, with five (or six) heroic protagonists starring in five stories. Attendees of the expo loved the comic and its predecessor, Five Star Comics #1. They also picked up original art by Larry Blake, Mothman stickers by Gary Gibeaut, and Tim Corrigan's Comics and Stories. Tim Corrigan's sons, Nate and Matt, were also on hand to sell their books. Unfortunately Matt Marshall, the cover artist and creator of the lead story, "Origin of The Black Bat," wasn't available for the public's first look at his first-ever comic book story. Comic book fan, reader, and writer Mike Tuz made the long trip from the East Coast to the Midwest to meet some of the creators he has known only by letter for so long. It looks like Mike could become a contributor to Five Star Comics in the not-very-distant future. Finally, one of the highlights of the show for Terence was his being interviewed by Ian and Kathleen, young creators of the brand new Glen Echo Review. If you haven't seen this fine publication yet, you should run out and get your copy today!

Five Star Comics #2 with cover art by Matt Marshall, new for S.P.A.C.E. 2012!

Terence returned to his home state of Indiana in May for the Summit City Comic Con, which took place in The Grand Wayne Center in Fort Wayne. This year's Summit City Comic Con was another family-friendly event (the best kind). There were lots of kids and lots of people in costume. The show's organizers continue to put on a good convention with plenty of room and good services for the artists and good attendance by the public. Terence drew a picture of the Froglodyte, a singular creature created by Sydney, and one to match her brother's Mist Dragon from last year.

Finally, this weekend, Larry Blake and Terence Hanley were at the inaugural Ratha Con, held at the Athens Community Center in Athens, Ohio. Once again, Larry's original art was very popular, especially his drawings of Ol' Shellhead. Attendance was not very high on a hot afternoon, but the room was cool and made all the cooler by the artists, dealers, exhibitors, attendees, and volunteers. Other Athens-area artists in attendance included Sandy Plunkett, Katherine Wirick, Ryan Spellman, and Steve Richter. Ratha Con was Steve's first comic book convention. Welcome to the club, Steve.

Next up: The Tri-State Comic Con--TriCon--scheduled for Saturday, June 9, 2012, at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena, Huntington, West Virginia. See you there!

Text copyright 2012 Five Star Comics
Art copyright 2012 by the respective creators of Five Star Comics