Sunday, March 1, 2009

Where in the World Is...

Far too many great comic book writers and artists have gone M.I.A. over the past several years. As a public service to the industry we love, we at the CKT have decided to bring to bear our tens of readers to locate these talented men and women in a segment we shall call...

Where in the World Is...

...Will Pfeifer?
It wasn't too long ago that Will Pfeifer was being hailed as the future of the comics industry, and rightfully so. His H-E-R-O series, a clever and edgy updating of the Silver Age "Dial 'H' for Hero" concept, in addition to being one of Rickey's favorite books, put Pfeifer on the map as a guy who could breath life into old properties and create something exciting and new. He demonstrated that again not long after, pioneering the all-too-short "Sub Diego" era in a brief run on Aquaman. Personally, I dug Will's fun work on Catwoman. However, following Amazons Attack, the 2007 event that was supposed to put Pfeifer on the map but failed to deliver (something most agree is at least in some part the fault of factors beyond Will's control), he seems to have quietly faded out of the public eye (Catwoman, Pfeifer's last regular gig, got cancelled last summer). A guy as talented as Will Pfeifer should certainly get more than one strike and in the eyes of those of us here at the CKT could still be a major player.

...Christopher Priest?
Under his birth name of Jim Owsley, the dude who would become Christopher Priest started in comics the year I was born, 1982, and within three years he was the first African-American editor on a major comic, heading up the Spider-Man books. Over the next decade-plus, he racked up a plethora of impressive achievements, including getting to write icons like Superman, Spider-Man, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and more, co-creating The Ray as well as Quantum & Woody, helping to found Milestone Media and dozens of stints on a wide array of other characters for just about every major company. However, after changing his name, Priest unquestionably took his game to a whole new level helping to re-launch Black Panther for Marvel Knights in 1998 and then spent the next five years carving out a definitive 60-issue run many consider one of the overlooked modern classics (myself included). After that wound down, he had quickies on The Crew and Captain America & The Falcon, but has been pretty much inactive for the past four years or so. Somewhere along the way, I think Priest got wrongly pigeonholed as only being able to write black characters, but he can do that and a whole lot more.

...Darryl Banks?
When Green Lantern was overhauled in 1994 with Kyle Rayner as the newbie GL, Darryl Banks was responsible for giving the rookie his distinctive and memorable look. For the next 92 issues off and on, Banks continued to help chronicle Kyle's adventures, creating a new visual world for him to inhabit, complete with colorful friends and foes. Banks was one of the best when it came to imaginitive applications of the power ring and dreaming up exotic environments on Earth and beyond. It's no stretch at all to say that the guys who have been drawing Green Lantern since the franchise's big Rebirth have taken major visual cues from the playbook Banks created, yet we haven't seen much of him lately, which is too bad.

...Renato Arlem?
In 2006, Marvel rocked their cosmos with Annihilation, featuring a quartet of limited series, one of which starred the Silver Surfer with art provided by Renato Arlem. I was particularly taken aback by Arlem's work on that series as the Surfer is a classic character with a distinctive look who has been immortalized by some of the biggest names in the business, but this dude had a style more like Alex Maleev or Steve Epting than Jack Kirby or John Buscema; drawing noir in a cosmic setting, my eye was most definitely caught. Arlem had a cup of coffee on X-Factor, which fit him like a glove, and then latched onto Hawkgirl during its dying days, where he drew some dope giant robots. That's the last I remember of the guy, but he's always the wildcard I'll throw out when me and my buddies are playing the "who should draw what" game as I really dig his stuff.

...Angel Unzueta?
When Geoff Johns kicked off his now legendary Flash run with Wonderland, which was finally collected just recently, the artist was one Angel Unzueta. He had a dynamic and energetic style that gave Johns' story the kick it needed to hit the ground running. A few issues later though, Unzueta was gone, Scott Kolins was onboard, and the rest is history. I've got no complaints when it comes to the awesome work Kolins and his successors did on Flash, but I've always wondered why Unzueta got the hook and we never saw more of him, because he definitely had some great potential and it would have been interesting to watch him grow as an artist.

If you have seen or heard about any of this missing pros, please file a report with the Cool Kids Table immediately!

Thanks to T.J. Dietsch for suggesting Christopher Priest and Darryl Banks.


David Uzumeri said...

If you check his blog at (warning: main page is NWS), it seems that Priest is pretty disillusioned with the entire industry right now and doesn't really want much to do with it.

As for Angel Unzueta, he was actually doing backup pencils for Patrick Gleason on the Sinestro Corps War issues of Green Lantern Corps, and also did the art for that Countdown Ray Palmer Wildstorm special. I think the latest LITG said he was going to be digitally painting Pacheco's pencils for Ultimate Comics Avengers, and that Secret Warriors #1 variant cover sure looked like that was how it was done.

Totally agreed on Pfeifer; he had a oneshot issue of Supergirl a while ago but that was it. Maybe he just got discouraged after Amazons Attack fared so badly? I remember reading an interview where he said he never gave up his day job, so...

Unknown said...

Pfeifer did an AWESOME job on Aquaman. some seriously underrated stuff. i've been preaching about it since it was on the stands.

here's a guy i'm wondering about:

Gabriel Gecko - beautiful work on the first War Machine solo from the 90s. never saw anything from him again!

(i was going to say Len Kaminski, long time Iron Man writer. but i just found him on Facebook!)

Ben Morse said...

Thanks for the info, guys. Sorry to hear about Priest.

The CKT will get to the bottom of the Will Pfeifer mystery!

Ian said...

Pfeifer's got a blog, but it doesn't seem to include anything about new projects.

There is a collection of his early, small press work available, though.

Mike Perkins said...

I met Will Pfeifer in Chicago last year - drinking at the bar after the con, of course!

We had a brief chat and I mentioned that I liked his writing. It seemed that he didn't have anything lined up after Catwoman wrapped up - even though he'd been trying.

It'd be a crying shame if we didn't see more of his work on the stands.


Andy Bennett said...

I see Darryl Banks frequently; he lives in Columbus, where we have a pretty close-knit group of comics creators. Darryl is still doing the odd comics jobs (most recently some Phantom work at Moonstone Books, but his primary workload is coming from commercial art.

Ben Morse said...

Perkins, we must lure Pfeifer to our side! How does he feel about writing Deathlok for a talented British artist? ;-)

Sean said...

....Renato Arlem also did the artwork on the 2nd UNCLE SAM & THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS miniseries, which concluded last year. So he's been a bit more active than just that Annihilation mini.

Ben Morse said...

I actually remembered Arlem did that Freedom Fighters mini like right after I finished writing this. I didn't read it--how did his stuff look?

Anonymous said...

Darryl can be found on comicartfans and is doing fantastic commissions for collectors. He also keeps busy with design work for Hasbro and The Bradford Exchange. He tends to be at Mid Ohio con, as well as the Pittsburgh con and any other times we can convince him to leave the house...

Ben Morse said...

Thanks to everybody with the Darryl Banks updates. Glad he is doing so well!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sean McKeever said...

Hey, Ben! Angel is drawing TITANS 12 & 13, written by me.

Ben Morse said...

You hear that folks? Buy Titans #12-13!

Thank you, comic book professional Sean McKeever! Glad you stopped by :-)

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