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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Interview with Comicbook.com, October-- 2014


A recent Interview at one of the Wizard Shows, featured here. Thanks to Jerry Milani for setting it up. --R. 

Link to Original Post:  http://comicbook.com/2014/10/29/interview-with-author-and-editor-renee-witterstaetter/

Interview with Author And Editor Renee Witterstaetter



Renee Witterstaetter is the author of Excess: The Art of Michael Golden,  the critically acclaimed Nick Cardy: The Artist at War, Dying for Action: The Life and Films of Jackie Chan, Kerry and the Scary Things, Nick Cardy: Wit-Lash, and many more. More recent projects include James O’Barr: Uncoffined and Michael Golden: Dangerous Curves.

Witterstaetter began the comic phase of her career working on titles such as Superman, Silver Surfer, Conan the Barbarian and Conan Saga, and then went on to spearhead the reintroduction of She-Hulk at Marvel. She then moved on to Topps Comics, where she was the editor on X-Files, Jurassic Park, Xena and Hercules, and was the co-creator—with artist Michael Golden-- of the Spartan X.
In addition, Witterstaetter has worked as the colorist on hundreds of comics from the Avengers to Spider-man to Captain America, and many, many more. She then went on to work on music videos for Madonna, Seal, Ben Harper and Usher, as well as the feature movies Crime Story, Rush Hour Two, Red Dragon, and among others.

A member of the Society of Illustrators in Manhattan, in addition to on-going film work, she is the President of Little Eva Ink Publishing and Little Eva Ink Toys. Witterstaetter is also currently working in artist management via Eva Ink Artist Group, and is the co-producer of the DVD series highlighting creatives in many fields.

While appearing at Wizard World, Witterstaetter took the time to answer a few questions.

 

Describe your introductory experience to the world of comics.

I like to joke that it started when I discovered some old Jerry Lewis and Spider-man comics and "Mad Magazines" in my brother's bedroom when I was 7 or so.
But in reality, it was one of these situations where one door opens and you decide if you will walk through it or not. That one decision can, and often does, decide the course of your whole life.
I became interested in Journalism while I was in Junior High School, when my brother Robbie took me to one of his High School Journalism parties, trying to recruit I suppose. I was already the editor of my Jr. High newspaper, and was already producing slide show documentaries-- most often relating to history.

The one I was most proud of in Jr. High was on World War II, documenting the whole conflict on slides, timed and accompanied by a cassette tape recording. The nice German lady who helped me with the voiceover recording had actually been a concentration camp survivor. I won an award for that.

But basically, what I'm trying to say is that I was interested in storytelling-- all forms of storytelling-- from an early age. And art is storytelling.

I was the kid that would sneak out of bed every night to watch the Midnight Movie (we only had three channels), while my parents were asleep. So that was my film education, and I saw everything. I think that my Dad thought it was funny. I'd often stay awake until the channel went off the air after the movie, by showing a huge picture of the American Flag and playing "The Star Spangled Banner." Dad was a postman--back when that was a wonderful job--and would wake up early at 4 am to go to work, turn off the TV and put me to bed.

So, starting off that way, being a shy kid-- you tend to spend alot of time in your head using your imagination. Drawing as a kid, reading all the books in the library subject by subject, eventually finding an outlet for creativity in the Jr. High newspaper, continuing with editing my High School newspaper, then my college newspaper and art magazine... I think my path was laid to be involved in storytelling in one manner or another.

What influences have shaped your work as a writer, editor or colorist?

All the experiences in my life really. I spent many years as a colorist, but now I am mostly a writer and editor. But when I was doing alot of color art, my color influences were people like Maxfield Parrish. I love his work and how he creates a sense of place with his color palette. Writers that I love are people like Mark Twain and Charles Dickens. Modern writers-- I enjoy the humor of Carl Hiassen. I run all over the place with my reading tastes. I don't stick with one genre. But I believe I find my most inspiration just in my life and people around me.

I was lucky enough to have some very wonderful people helping me learn along the way--they shaped me-- Craig Anderson, my first boss at Marvel, followed by Spider-man editor, Jim Salicrup and Vice Editor in Chief, Mark Gruenwald. Marvel during that time period was a very creative place and a great home. They were my influences. They taught me about being an editor-- what all these people taught me--being an editor requires you to think creativity if you are going to be good at it. Think on your feet. And I believe it's imperative to have a good artistic eye yourself. At any given time, I'd have 6-9 books a month or more to get out. Considering that you have 5-7 creatives on each of those titles, that's alot of working with various personalities and addressing various needs to keep things running smoothly.

Working in movies--which I did after my years as a comic book editor-- seemed to be the same thing to me, and not much different than being a comic book editor. Organization, organization, organization.

How did you “break in” to the industry?

While I was in college at East Texas State University, some of my friends from Texarkana told me they were going to a convention in Dallas, Texas called the Dallas Fantasy Faire--- one of the premier shows of the time--and asked me if I wanted to go. So we loaded up the truck and drove to Big D. I had an amazing time talking to writers, artists and other creative types, and met friends at that show that have remained my friends until the present.

In fact, my first job out of college ended up being as the "Girl Friday" for the Dallas Fantasy Faire working with the owner, the late Larry Lankford. I think my official title was "Assistant Convention Coordinator" or something like that. But it entailed everything from making phone calls to acting as a guest liaison, to taking and developing photographs, writing press release and articles. Laying out the program books. You name it. Whatever needed to be done.

From that experience I met many people in the comic book industry and landed a job as an assistant editor at DC Comics on the Superman books with editor Mike Carlin. Carlin taught me a great deal about comics storytelling and putting together a comic book, and I'll always be grateful to him for that.



From there, I moved over to Marvel Comics for five years, starting out as the assistant editor for Craig Anderson on the Silver Surfer books. I was the editor on "Conan Saga" then too, and assistant editor for "Savage Sword of Conan." Soon, I became a full editor, and had my own line of books, including "She-Hulk," "What The?" "The Impossible Man Summer Special," "The Marvel Holiday Special," and numerous others.

When my friend ,and one of my mentors, Jim Salicrup, became the head at Topps Comics. I joined him there for 5 years, editing such books as "Xena," "Hercules," "Jurassic Park," "Jason Vs. Leatherface," and I can't remember how many other books. It was a fun time.

After this run of comic jobs, I worked exclusively in film for five years, on such movies as "Rush Hour II," "Red Dragon," "To Ease the Lose," and dozens of music videos for talents like Madonna, Seal, Usher, and of course too many commercials to count.

The funny thing about all my various jobs, be it working at a small newspaper, doing PR for a convention, editing comics or working in film, the attention to detail, and the eye for storytelling and graphics--the skill set required was the same. My skill set served me well at each of these jobs, I think. It's about adaptability, I suppose.

I've been an agent, in addition to everything else, since 2003, when an artist friend of mine asked me to start repping him because of my knowledge of comics (I was working exclusively in film production in LA at the time, so comics sort of "pulled me back in.") And again, I'm using all those same skills I used as a comics editor or a crew member.

Are there any current trends that have changed your outlook of making art?

I don't tend to follow trends with my writing. I like to write things that I myself would be interested in reading. That's how my book "Nick Cardy: The Artist at War," came about.  I was visiting Nick in Florida and he brought out all these sketches that he'd done during World War II. Now, it you don't know who Nick Cardy is, he set the standard for cover design at DC Comics for decades. This was art of his, that nobody had ever seen! And of such historical significance. I immeditalty decided that we needed to write a book. Nick said "Renee, do you think anyone would want to read it? I said, "Nick, if I want to read it, others will to."  It sold extremely well, and the UK edition has just been released from Titan Books. Nick passed away last year, so I'm so happy you got to see this before he died.

How does an idea for a piece begin? What are the steps to your creative process?

In my writing process, the ideas are easy to come by. I stumble on them-- just like the idea for the Cardy book. The trick is recognizes that what you tripped over could be something. Then, it's finding the time to do them all. I have 4 books I want to work on right now. The first thing you have to do, is write down your ideas. You think you'll remember them, but I'm here to tell you, you don't always do that. Ideas slip through your fingers like water.  So, write them down.  Then the research phase begins, and that requires alot of note taking. I still use index cards to write down all the details and organize the thoughts and facts into chapters and groups after compiling everything. Then, your prose is the glue.

 

What projects are you currently working on?

My newest books are "Michael Golden: Dangerous Curves" and "Mark Texeira: Tempest." Two art books that have just hit store shelves this  month. Michael Golden is a renowned illustrator and storyteller and his work is just amazing. This is a look at some of his key pieces over the last few years.  I am also working on a deluxe package of the aforementioned book "Nick Cardy: The Artist at War," to commemorate our friend Mr. Cardy.

Are there any mistakes that you frequently see other creatives making? If so, what are those mistakes and how do you think they can be avoided?

Oh sure. All the time. But I'm making mistakes too, so it's better for me to focus on my own work and improve what I'm doing. Hopefully we all become smarter as time goes on.

What are your favorite characters you like to depict, and why?

I have an idea for a detective series that I'm itching to write. I can't tell too much about it, but it's a combination of things and people I love from history, and putting a fantasy aspect to it all. If I have to spend alot of time with the characters I'm making into flesh and blood, they might as well be characters I like.  Of course you have to throw in a few you don't like so much as well, to stir the pot.

What kind of stories are you looking to tell through your work?

Oh Gosh! That's hard to say. I've worked on so many things I love. I feel I've been very lucky to live a life where I can work on projects, be creative and say one day, "Ya know, I'd like to write this book," or "I'd like to produce this toy," and then I find a way to make it so.
Every project I'm currently working on is my favorite project and is a story I want to tell.

I'd have to say for me though that some of my favorite books have been about people I care about-- "Dying for Action: The Life and Films of Jackie Chan," and our comic book series "Spartan X," inspired by Hong Kong movies, for one.

I have also loved learning about the subjects of my art books-- Michael Golden,  Nick Cardy, James O'Barr....finding out what makes them do what they do, and how they do it. That is my journalistic background coming into play.

In my film work, I have enjoyed being a part of every movie I've worked on, and contributing to those stories becoming solid. It is this bizarre reality where you live, eat, sleep to make a movie for six months, and the people you are working with become your surrogate families for that unique time. When the movie wraps, you almost feel like you are going through some time of mourning or withdrawal. The first morning you don't have to get up at 4 am and go to work for 20 hours, you don't know what to do with yourself!

I was lucky enough to work with some fantastic crews, with directors like Brett Ratner, and AD's like Jamie Freitag-- a few bad ones too. When those productions end, you can't WAIT to get away. :-) You are almost ready to chew your arm off to do so! But lucky most production jobs are not that way.
Of all my movie experiences tough, I think I loved working with Jackie on "Rush Hour II" and Anthony Hopkins on "Red Dragon." You remember the ones who are class acts, and I knew Jackie long before I worked with him on that movie.

So, what stories am I wanting to tell? New ones are always popping up and can come from any or all of these experiences and often do.




Are there any characters or stories you're dying to do?

"Kerry and the Scary Things," is a children's book that I developed with my friend and talented artist Keith Wilson, many years ago. Probably over 2 decades ago. It had a long and winding road to being published-- i.e. picked up by two companies that then went out of business. And Keith and I got a little frustrated to see many of the ideas we had for the book, starting to be mirrored in other pop culture projects and movies. So, we felt we really needed to get out our book and introduce it to the world. So we did.

Kerry, our hero, is a little boy who loves monsters. So, he puts together a monster fighting backpack in case he ever meets any, with all the things he'll need in order to fight them. In the course of the book, you'll see if he actually does meet any monsters, how he deals with them if he does, and what he has in his bag of tricks. It's really a story about kids using their imaginations.

I think we've lost a lot of that--kids have toys or video games that play "for them," and it's important to not forget to foster creativity.

There are several sequels planned. The next, which also was written many years ago is "Kerry and the Dreadful Dragon."

My intent is to pursue animation with these properties as well.

What future projects are you currently working on?

I'm waiting for the next door to open. And it will. More comics, more books, more movie work, more writing. More fun.

I have a few other books I can't announce yet, but I think they will be fantastic to bring to life. And a few more documentary projects a well.

In the world of comic books, what liberties and restrictions do you observer?

I often have folks asked me if it's been a disadvantage--or been restrictive-- being a women in comics. Well, I never had a problem with it, and I actually never even think about being at a disadvantage or being restricted. I like being a woman. And, I have always tried to go out and make my own opportunities. Granted, however, it's true there were not that many women in the comic book industry when I first started. I can probably count with one hand the women that I knew that were working in the industry. But remember, you didn't really have very many women even going to conventions at that time either.

As far as working in the industry, me personally, I was given so many opportunities: to be an editor, to learn and to work with some amazing people. If I did have a bad story or two, I probably wouldn't tell it. No need.

All my bosses in comics were men. (Conversely, working in film, most of my bosses were woman.) In comics, Mike Carlin taught me a great deal about putting together comic books when I started at DC comics as a green assistant editor on the "Superman" books. And from there my friend and mentor Jim Salicrup at Marvel comics was a great teacher, he was the "Spider-man" editor and later my boss at Topps; my immediate boss, Craig Anderson on the "Silver Surfer" books at Marvel was amazing; and another one of the best bosses I ever had was Mark Gruenwald at Marvel, who really took everybody--all the assistants--under his wing and taught us all his passion for putting together comic books. By that time there were a lot more women in the industry.  I never felt like I was ever being discriminated against, and I was also given plenty of opportunities to do female oriented books. I was the editor on She-Hulk for a long time. Xena later, etc.

Now the field has changed so much! SO many women in the industry now as compared to years ago.
As far as liberties? Well we have an amazing life. I love my work. It makes me happy and I look forward to doing whatever I'm doing every day. I travel with creative people. I make books and stories and events happen. I feel blessed. There's nothing, for me, like working in a creative industry. That's a gift.

And with the internet and digtial publishing, the field is wide open. There are so many avenues now for folks to get their stories out there. It's wonderful.

Any advice you'd like to offer for up-and-coming creators?

Sure: Breathe. Dance more. Laugh often. And take notes.

Friday, September 19, 2014

"Dark Dreams"--James O'Barr Reception and Art Show at UMES Starts Oct. 6!


Princess Anne, MD-- A new art show, "Dark Dreams: The Art of James O'Barr" will be opening with a reception on October 6, at the Mosely Gallery on the campus of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. 

The art show will feature 30 originals by O'Barr, the creator of "The Crow," as well as the writer on the hit series "Skinning the Wolves," "Curare," and "Pestilence." 

The show runs from Oct. 6-30th, with an opening reception from 4-6, on Oct. 6th. A film screening of "The Crow" will follow at 8 pm in the SSC Theater, followed by a Q & A with O'Barr. Prints will be available for signing at both events.

The closing reception will take place October 30th from 4-6 with a Halloween costume Party. (Note that Mr. O'Barr will only be in attendance on Oct. 6th.)

The Mosely Gallery is located at UMES; 11931 Art Shell Plaza; Princess Anne, MD 21853. www.moselygallery.com

For more information on James O'Barr contact: evaink@aol.com


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Artist Konstantin Komardin to make US Appearances in Sept/Oct






New York--This just in. Artist and animator Konstantin Komardin will be making several appearances in the United States in September and October, where he'll be accepting commission requests, as well as screening several of his animated shorts.



Konstantin Komardin is an award-winning Russian sequential artist, graphic artist and animator currently living in Moscow. This marks his second only appearance schedule in the United States, providing a rare opportunity to see some amazing originals never before offered. Konstantin was born in Ekaterinburg, where he fell in love with sequential art as a child, and went on to attend the Academy of Book Design. And has worked with numerous publishing houses on book covers and interior illustrations, while also working with anthology magazines in the role of graphic artist.

Some of his published work includes the BD magazines “Veles,” “Hacker,” “Max Cooler,” “Moulin Rouge,” “Timof” which published his story “Siberian Dreams,” and the renowned comics “Agent Z,” “Sit-o-city,” “Gate of Alice,” and “Mechanics of Senses.” Other works include the Russian/Polish project “City Stories.” Konstantin was awarded the Grand Prize for “The Site of Polis” at the Moscow Comics Festival in 2003.

A talented illustrator for print, Konstantin is also an award-winning animator as mentioned. His works include the concept designs on “Elka,” “Man with the Wind in his Head” which appeared in the Suzdal Film Festival in 2008, “Tram,” “Spindel” which was honored at the Moscow Short Film Festival in 2010, and “The Man in Penze Nez,” which screened at both the Suzdal Film Festival and the Moscow International Film Festival in 2010.






Several shorts by Konstantin will he aired at the convention, including “How I Lost 21 Grams,” and “The Man With the Wind in His Head,” so check your programming for time and place. Konstantin will be in artist alley sketching throughout the show. 


His schedule of shows for this trip includes:

Wizard World Richmond-- Sept 12-14
Wizard World Nashville-- Sept 26-28
Wizard World Austin-- Oct. 2-4
University of Maryland Eastern Shore- Oct. 7
Store Appearance  in Maryland TBD, Oct. 8
New York Comic Con-- Oct. 9-12





For more information on Konstantin and his work be sure to visit him at his table in artist alley. For information on ordering sketches before any show, contact Renee at evaink@aol.com

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"Poe and The Crow: An Evening with James O'Barr" -- Richmond, Sept. 11th





Richmond, VA-- Separated by 100 years of time and place, you might not at first see any connection between James O'Barr and Edgar Allan Poe...but it's there.  Even if you distill it down to just the fact that one created "The Raven," the other created "The Crow." Both iconic works using these avian symbols as metaphors for something far more deeper, darker and richer than one realizes until the stories take flight, transcending the mediums of their own times with creations that indeed took on a life of their own.

For one night in Richmond, Virginia,  these two creators-- will converge-- Poe in spirit, and Mr. O'Barr in the flesh-- with "Poe and The Crow: An Evening with James O'Barr," beginning at 6:30 in the evening with a signing and Q and A, and ending with a screening of "The Crow" starring Brandon Lee-- An appropriate look back, with a new Crow movie currently in pre-produciton.

O'Barr's visit to the Poe Museum coincides nicely with the facilities current exhibition, "The Living Poe," which deals with Poe in popular culture. In recent months, they have had a series of speakers on the topic of Poe's continuing influence on today's arts and culture, and his influence on the modern horror genre. In October, they'll host Vincent Price's daughter Victoria Price, who will share her experiences with her father and his love of Poe. And while O'Barr and Mr. Poe are vastly different in their approaches and influences, this evening continues an homage from other creators, be they writers, actors or artists, who strive in the creative process and respect the works of Edgar Allan Poe.

In addition to creating one of the best selling graphic novels of all time, James O'Barr is also the writer of several current hit series, including "Curare," "Skinning the Wolves" and "Pestilence." While also serving as a consultant on the upcoming Crow movie.  His recent artbook "James O'Barr Uncoffined" has already sold out, and a new book is in the works. During the evening at the museum, James will be signing prints, available at the venue, and talking before the screening of "The Crow."

While there, attendees are also encouraged to look over the Poe Museums vast collection of rare artifacts and manuscripts relating to Poe, all housed in a historic building with direct connections to the writer. 

For more information on Mr. O'Barr, contact evaink@aol.com
For more information on the Poe Museum, this event and others go to: poemuseum.org.

(A fan homage, interfacing the image from "The Crow" movie poster, with the likeness of Mr. Poe.)


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"Michael Golden: Dangerous Curves" to Debut at Wizard Chicago!



Chicago-- Fresh off the presses, the new hardcover, deluxe format, full color sketchbook by Michael Golden will debut at the upcoming Wizard World Chicago show, Aug. 21-24, at his table in the Featured Artist section of this year's show.


"Michel Golden: Dangerous Curves" is a lush book, at 48 pages, full of powerful pieces by this renowned artist and storyteller.

But why call it "Dangerous Curves?" 

Because the name is multi-layered. Golden is known for his strong female characters with their piercing eyes (and yes, curves). And indeed, Michael always says that the first thing he draws for any female character IS the eyes--the window to the soul. And each of Golden's women express their own strength and individuality on every page, drawn in an authentic and complimentary style.

But "Dangerous Curves" also features other characters--those that lurk around the corner as well as those that seek adventure--providing a good sampling of familiar characters, human and otherwise, providing the drama and/or confronting it.

Being the master storyteller that Michael is, known for his work on "G.I. Joe," "Spawn," "Bucky O'Hare," "The 'Nam" and much more, of course each piece in this book tells a story of it's own on each page, with a solid and substantial art style that roots them firmly in your imagination. 

In addition to the new book making it's debut at the show, with the artist in attendance to sign it, all VIP packages for the show will include a free Michael Golden poster in a  limited edition.  Ask for details on the Wizard World convention website!

"Michael Golden: Dangerous Curves" is limited to 1,000 copies. So, if you haven't ordered yours from Diamond Distribution, you can still order one while supplies last from evaink@aol.com

For more information on the artist or for ordering, contact evaink@aol.com




Saturday, March 29, 2014

James O'Barr VIP Prints Now Available at Wizard World Shows in 2014!

James O'Barr, creator of The Crow, and writer on "Curare" and "Skinning the Wolves" will be making a select number of Wizardd World conventions this year to commemorate the 20th Anniversary release of "The Crow" movie.

Starting off with Wizard World Louisville this March 28-30 and Wizard St. Louis April 4-6!

Get your VIP print while supplies last, along with lithographs, silkscreens, books and sketches.

Contact his booking agent at: evaink@aol.com




Thursday, March 13, 2014

Highlight Reel: Easter Island and What Jack Kirby Knew!


Me and my Moai.

I'm not saying Jack Kirby was hiding something... but...maybe more just giving us hints, you know, bread crumbs...

...like we wouldn't really get it if he just came out and said, "You wouldn't believe what I just saw on Easter Island." You know... kinda like Jimmy Stewart in "Harvey" talking about that big rabbit? Bring out the straight jacket and all of that bother. Smart to avoid that, Jack was.

But I've never been able to break this feeling that Jack was trying to tell us something!

I mean after all, for some reason in 1959, he penciled two classic comics, focusing on the same theme, from TWO different companies. So it couldn't have been Stan Lee, the writer of one, trying to give us clues to some great cosmic mystery? It must have been Jack!

I am of course referring to: "House of Mystery," #85, April 1959 DC Comics; And "Tales to Astonish" #5, September 1959, Marvel Comics. In both of these books, the giant heads (which do have bodies attached, by the way), come to life with various agendas. Not any that mean good for mankind.

They are called Moai.


Moai on the move in various comics!

Two stories in one year! The pattern was forming! Jack had Rapa Nui (Easter Island) on the brain for SOME reason.

Granted, giant stone monsters coming to life is not something one sees every day. One doesn't generally look out ones window and see a stone behemoth lopping about out by the bird feeder along with the squirrels and the blue jays.

But you can't rule out possibilities.

So, when the opportunity presented itself--all nice and gift wrapped with a bow on top--to go to Chile last year, it seemed that a stop over on Easter Island was most definitely in order.

Taking my job as an investigative journalist seriously--because that is what I studied in college-- I felt it my sworn duty to follow all leads, right?

Jack drew with too much conviction, too much detail.  Stan wrote with too much being unsaid, too much innuendo... for there not to be something behind the book!

As soon as I landed on this pinhead point of treeless land in the Pacific Ocean known as Rapa Nui-- I'm serious, when you are landing, you see ocean from end to end on the runway-- I knew I was on a grand adventure. I was whisked up by a local guide who immediately took me off to see my first Moai. No time to lose!

He was rather non-committal. (My first Moai,  not the guide.) The strong silent type. Back towards the ocean,  gazing straight through me as if I wasn't even there. Rather rude I thought. Not to mention there was no offer of cookies or even tea, or polite conversation, as one is accustomed to when visiting. (Of course I didn't bring anything either, so poor showing on my part as well. One should never show up empty handed.) And if I'd been portrayed as harboring evil in every comic written about me, I might be a little gun shy too, so I forgave him.

But the lack of modesty was another matter. Well! He didn't even dress for dinner--that's not how the Moai roll (No pun intended...well maybe a little)-- but more on that later.

Beginning my investigation straight away, the niceties being non-existent, there was no evidence  of my Moai having gone on a walkabout anytime recently. i.e. no scuff marks on the bottom, as I assume he would have if he'd been thrusting himself along the stone paths of the rocky island, no evidence of the moss growing at his base having been displaced, no unpacked suitcases etc. etc.

The first thing you'll notice, although you'll try not to, averting your eyes here and there, is that unlike the Scots, there is  no need to wonder what's under the kilt. The Moai, you see, are quite nude. Why bother with clothes! The weather is wonderful! Their typical stance is to stand, hands on hips, pointing down to their private parts, which of course, are always depicted as up for bat. While the Moai, are non-chalant, starring straight ahead through orb-less sockets.

Here's looking at you kid.

Not sure why the emphasis on manliness?  Surely some fertility thing, or macho comparison. But the eyes....

 Indeed, the theory is that the eyes of the Moai were made of shells, which the priest of the village only put in during religious ceremonies. (You'll see a few with painted on eyes, but these are not the original orbs. For tourists only.)  The eyes represented the departed leader, residing in the likeness of the statue, coming back to life to look over the village when needed. When not in use, the shell eyes were stored away for future, evangelical work. Villagers from local tribes during times of conflict, would of course always try to steal the eyes of Moai that belonged to rival tribes. Because we all know the eyes have "it."

And in this case, the "it" was that embodiment of the soul of the departed leader. Pretty important when you are into power and such.

While they were at it, they'd also take the time to  topple the rival Moai as well, always taking it a step to far. Oh, and then sometimes they also practiced cannibalism, which was not because of famine as some like to speculate, but more because it represented devouring the soul of your enemy.  You know... the usual stuff.

Or else!

During my investigation though, I did indeed discover some other odd tidbits to mull:

1.) There is in fact ONE female Moai. Instead of hands on hips pointing down at a flag pole, she does in fact have female attributes. That leads one to speculate that in fact there was at least one revered female leader on Easter Island at one point in time. I'd love to know HER story.

2.)  There is one Moai that actually had TWO sets of hands on his hips.  This one is particularly interesting to me, as, unlike other Moai, it's not placed along the coast, but is placed inland, looking out to sea, and lining up perfectly with the Winter Solstice. I'm concocting my own theory for a scholarly paper that it has something to do with the phases of the moon or planting or some such. Either that, or it could represent twins. Or hey... maybe the person actually DID have 4 arms.... anyway, my paper will set the scientific world on it's ears.   (I'll make it more interesting than that of course.) Either that, or it's some alien messing with us again. Which of course they love to do. (I often think the aliens of yesteryear had nothing better to do, but come down here, and laugh about what cryptic clues they were going to leave for future incarnations of us, the lower life form.  Laughing in their alien way-- whatever that is-- saying, if they speak-- "Yeah, let's make big carvings in the floor of this valley, that can really only be seen from above. That'll perplex 'em." Or, "Let's give this statue two sets of hands. They'll spend years thinking about that one! Har." Aliens it seems had alot of time on their hands. )

3.) Easter Island, has nothing to do with Easter. Imagine my surprise. Why name it something that is so deceiving, eh, island  namers? Although, I did find a rather large round rock that looked like an Easter egg, and seized upon it as proof that there is a cover up of some kind. Again. I'm not saying it's aliens, but...

Dang right it's Easter Island!

4.) There are wild horses everywhere on Easter Island. Just roaming about. I bet you didn't know that. The locals seem to love to have horses, but at some point they just let them all go, and now there is an overpopulation tromping about. To add to the trouble, there is one yellow flower, which the horses sometimes eat, which is terribly poisonous to them. Once eaten, like the apple in Eden, there is no going back. They stumble around like drunkards for a few days and sadly die. As a result, you see horse carcases quiet often in various stages of bloating or decay. One wonders why they just don't cut all the yellow flowers, or corral the horses, but that hasn't dawned on anyone yet.

5.) As mentioned the Moai are all facing in. Not facing out to sea. The theory is that since they represented dead leaders that they were overlooking whatever village they belonged to. There is only one set of Moai seemingly facing out to sea. Nobody of course knows why. That's the rub about this place: Nobody left a manual.

Rush Hour

6.) Not all Moai have top hats. And these are carved from a different quarry on the island than Moai themselves. I think it was a fashion statement. You know, Roger died, and his tribe thought he'd look fetching with a red top hat on his noggin. So then everyone else was jealous, and their dead friends had to have top hats too.  Maybe they even poisoned a few leaders early, just so they could get in on the top hat craze sooner. Fashion is like that you know. It's why we end up with padded sleeves and parachute pants.  (Another theory is that the top hat's aren't hats at all, but top Knots! There may have been a time when the leaders used red clay to cake their hair and tie it on top of their head. Could be. Heaven knows they didn't spend that time making clothes.)


7.) The Moai, top knot down, were carved in a quarry on another part of the island. Whatever the reason for the Moai, the practice appears to have ended abruptly. You'll find many Moai in various stages of construction, and hundreds of completed ones, half buried in the ground up to their shoulders and leaning in various directions along the quarry trail up the mountain, like a marching band toppled by one tuba player that lost his step. This to me was one of the most interesting mysteries on Easter Island. Why was the practice ended so abruptly? Did they stop honoring their leaders? Did the tribes disband? Did all the master craftsmen die? Did someone decree "We don't need no mo Moai. Let's make origami instead."

Abandoned Moai quarry.

8.) All those theories about the Easter Islanders cutting down all their trees to move the Moai, appears to  not be true. Evidence suggests that the statues "Walked from the guarry where they were formed to their resting place by the sea." (See I'm telling ya, Jack knew something.) The new theory is that a system of ropes and pulleys were fastened to the statues, and they were made to simulate walking, even over vast distances. There is no theory as of yet, on where these so called ropes came from. 

9.) I'm sad to say that while I was there, I did not observe any Moai moving. I tried. And although they are dang spooky at night, I didn't see one budge an inch. Although I'm not entirely sure one didn't blink.

10.) There is a large round stone, the make-up of which does not match any other stone on the island. They call it the "Belly Button of the World." Supposedly if you sit there in a circle with your hands splayed, you can feel the vibrations of the mystical earth. I tried it. I'm not sure what I felt, but my stomach did growl.

With friends I met on the trip. Nothing says "bonding" like putting your hands on a belly button.

It all just deepens the mystery, no?

I spent  several magical nights on Easter Island mulling over all that I'd learned, while sitting in a thatched roof restaurant, paying way too much for tuna steak and ceviche, watching the sunset linger on a vast horizon, and feeling --because, well, you are-- cut off from the rest of the world.

It gives one time to think. To speculate on this unique culture that is Rapa Nui, and wonder just what it is that we'll never know. Because unless it's found on a stone tablet, we just won't.  It's all guessing in the end.

A template for a myriad of dreams.

Or will we not? Jack knew! Yeah. He knew something. He just wasn't telling. Wanted us to figure it out for ourselves. Thought we wouldn't believe him...

Perhaps there is a clue in the plot of "Tales to Astonish" #5:  "A pilot crash lands on Easter Island where he observes the statues rise out of the ground and discuss invasion plans of their home planet and enslavement of Earthman (This always seems like a faulty plan, do they not know how much we eat?). He flees the pursuit of the statues and attempts to warn the proper authorities, but no one believes him. Eventually he begins to doubt his story as well, and unobserved, the statues who had been following him return to Easter Island safe in the knowledge that no one would believe such an outlandish tale."

Unless you put it in comic book form perhaps! Hum... 

I'm listening Jack, I'm listening.

--Renee
Tongue in Cheek, NYC
2014




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Easter Island/Rapa Nui has been portrayed in many comic books, including titles as diverse as: "Tomb of Darkness," Marvel, 1975; "The Incredible Hulk," #261, Marvel 1981; "Mr. Peabody and Sherman" #3, IDW, 2013, "Uncle Scrooge Adventures," #3, Gladstone, 1988; and most recently in "Deadpool" #20, Mavel 2014 (Although they have the statues facing the wrong direction.) In fact, it was Chad Grothkopf who has the distinction of being the first artist to draw the Moai in "The Easter Island Gods," in Action Comics #28, with appear two years after The Man of Steel.

I found this great list of all that is Easter Island in comics, compiled by Philip Sites below and on the link provided, where he relates his own Rapa Nui experiences.  


http://weekendroady.com/2014/01/15/easter-island-a-journey-through-comics/



Comprehensive list of EI in Comics:
By Philip Sites

Cover and story:


(These stories feature the famous Easter Island moai or a similar “stone man” likeness or reference on the cover as well as a relevant story in the issue. Some stories are reprints from prior issues)

Batman Adventures V.2 #4 (DC – September 2003)

Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #5 (DC – July 1982)

Chamber of Chills #11 (Marvel – July 1974) (same story as Tales of Suspense V.1 #28 (Marvel – April 1962)

DC Comics Presents V.1#46 (DC – June 1982)

House of Mystery V.1 #85 (DC – April 1959)

Joker: Last Laugh #3 (DC – December 2001)

Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures #12 (Dark Horse – September 1997)

Justice League of America V.1#15 (DC – November 1962)

Kona #13 (Dell – Jan/March 1965)

Spike #5A (Dark Horse – December 2012)

Strange Adventures #16 (DC – January 1952)

Super Powers V. 2 #3 (DC – November 1985)

Tales of Suspense V.1 #28 (Marvel – April 1962)

Tales to Astonish V.1#5 (Marvel – September 1959)

Tales to Astonish V.1#16 (Marvel – February 1961)

The Incredible Hulk #261 (Marvel – July 1981)

The New Teen Titans Annual V.2#2 (DC – August 1986)

The Mighty Thor #318 (Marvel – April 1982)

Tomb of Darkness #16 (Marvel – September 1975) (same story as Tales of Suspense V.1 #28 (Marvel – April 1962)

Uncle Scrooge Adventures #3 (Gladstone – January 1988)

Weird War Tales #34 (DC – February 1975)

Where Creatures Roam V.1#3 (Marvel – November 1970) (same story/similar cover as Tales to Astonish V.1#16)

Where Monsters Dwell V.1#24 (Marvel – October 1973) (same story/cover as Tales to Astonish V.1#5)



Story only:

(Many of these issues contain full stories directly inspired by Easter Island, the moai/stone men and related imagery. All of these issues contain at least some visual reference to the island or moais)

Action Comics V.1#28 (DC – September 1940)

Action Comics V.1#180 (DC – May 1953)

Beware the Monsters are Here DC Special #11 (DC – April 1971) – same story as House of Mystery V.1 #85 (DC – April 1959)

Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #6 (DC – August 1982)

Dazzler V.1 #18 (Marvel – August 1982)

Deadpool V.3#20 (Marvel – February 2014)

Donald Duck Adventures V. 2#15 (Disney Comics – August 1991)

Donald Duck and Friends #317 (Gemstone – July 2004)

Donald Duck and Friends #326 (Gemstone – April 2005)

Doom Patrol Vol.2#25 (DC – August 1989)

Doomwar #1 (Marvel – April 2010)

Doomwar #4 (Marvel – July 2010)

Fathom #4 (Top Cow/Image – March 1999)

Fathom #5 (Top Cow/Image – April 1999)

Fathom #6 (Top Cow/Image– May 1999)

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #14 (DC – January 2013)

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #15 (DC – February 2013)

Gold Digger V.3 #8 (Antarctic Press – February 2000)

JLA #36 (DC – December 1999)

JLA #37 (DC – January 2000)

JLA #38 (DC – February 2000)



JLA #39 (DC – March 2000)

JLA #40 (DC – April 2000)

JLA #41 (DC – May 2000)

Joker: Last Laugh #4 (DC – December 2001)

Jon Woo 7 Brothers: Son of Heaven, Son of Hell #1 (Liquid Comics – October 2012)

Laugh #141 (Archie – December 1962)

Maximage #1 (Image – December 1995)

Mickey Rat Comix #2 (Kitchen Sink – January 1972)

Mr. Peabody and Sherman #2 (IDW – December 2013)

Mystery in Space #40 (DC – October 1957)

Mystery Tales #24 (Marvel – December 1954)

Seaguy #2 (Vertigo – August 2004)

Spike #5B (Dark Horse – December 2012) – Note: same story as Spike #5

Steve Ditko Omnibus V.1 #1 (DC – September 2011) – Note: contains reprints of older stories
Super Powers V.2 #1 (DC- September 1985)

Super Powers V. 2#2 (DC – October 1985)

Supergirl #9 (DC – December 1973)

Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane #53 (DC – November 1964)
Teen Titans: Year One V.1#2 (DC – April 2008)

Whiz Comics #13 (Fawcett – February 1941)

Wonder Woman #65 (DC – April 1954)

X-Force #124 (Marvel – March 2002)

X-Men #33 (Marvel – October 2012)

X-Men: Blank Generation #1 (Marvel – January 2013)

Cover only:

(These comics contain visual references to Easter Island or the moai on the cover only, containing no stories or references inside the issue).

Archie #242 (Archie Comics – March 1975)

Mickey Mouse and Friends #275 (Gemstone – March 2005)


The Ineffables:

(The main characters are the moai (or is a moai). A comic that has been independently produced over the last decade or so by Craig Bogart.)

The Ineffables #1

The Ineffables #2

The Ineffables #3

The Ineffables – Parallel Universe

The Ineffables – Patriot Act

The Ineffables – Political Science

The Ineffables – Prime Mover

The Secret History of the Ineffables

The Second Part of the Secret History of the Ineffables

The Ineffables – All of Creation



Other:

American Splendor #16 (Dark Horse – 1993) – The great Harvey Pekar penned a story called “Easter Island” for his American Splendor comic. Haven't seen the issue so can’t confirm if there is any Easter Island related-imagery or associations in the story itself.


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Wanna add to Philip's list above. E-mail me here on blog!


Maybe it all started as intrigue over the theories of Thor Heyerdahl, but whatever it was, Easter Island is "a head" of the game in comics history: 

--R.
:-)