Junior Mad Scientist – Lab Notes

THAT ONE SPOOKY NIGHT – an interview/review with Grace Weber

September 10th, 2012 by Weber

Welcome back, everyone! It’s been too long — and I’ve missed you all too much for words.

But enough about me and you. Let’s talk about books.

David Huyck was just one of the creators I got to talk with this summer at the first-ever Chicago Alterative Comics Expo (CAKE). (It doesn’t spell out, I know. Just go with it.) One project he was excited about was his upcoming children’s book, THAT ONE SPOOKY NIGHT. There were no galleys of it available, but he was able to score me an advance copy. NICE!

After I read it, young Kidzilla, (A.K.A., “Grace”) got her eyeprints all over the pages. When she was done, I put her on the record and asked her what she thought:

Brad: You ready? Because I’m really recording now.

Grace: Yeah.

Brad: You want to say anything first?

Grace: No.

Brad: You want to get right into it?

Grace: Yeah.

Brad: OK. We’re talking about THAT ONE SPOOKY NIGHT, a new Halloween book for young readers written by Dan Bar-el and Illustrated by David Huyck. Grace, did you like the book?

Grace: Yeah.

Brad: Did you ‘like’ it, did you ‘like-like’ it, or did you ‘love’ it?

Grace: I ‘like-liked’ it.

Brad: What made it better than just a ‘like’ book?

Grace: How it’s written . . . and the pictures.

Brad:  So the story and the art. The first time we were recording this — and that didn’t work — you said that of the three stories, you liked one better than the others and you didn’t like one as much as the rest. Which one didn’t you like?

Grace: The first one.

Brad: The story about the little girl who mixes-up her costume broom with a witch’s real, flying broom. Why didn’t you like it?

Grace: I just didn’t like it.

Brad: Was it not an exciting story?

Grace: Yeah.

Brad: Would you say it was the weakest story of the three?

Grace: Yes.

Brad: Which one did you like the most?

Grace: The last one.

Brad: The one about the four human girls who meet the four vampire girls. Why?

Grace:  Because one of the human girls and one of the vampire girls got to be friends. And they didn’t like blood.

Brad: Would you give this book to your friends to read? And why?

Grace: Yes. Because it’s funny and scary at the same time.

Brad: Is there anything you would tell them about it? Anything about the story or the art?

Grace: No. I would let them be surprised.

Brad: What did you think about the art?

Grace: I think it was excellent.

Brad: What about the writing?

Grace: The writing was pretty good.

Brad: So you think the art is really the strong point in this book.

Grace: Yeah. Can we be done now?

Brad: Ah . . . sure.

And there you have it.

Since there were no comments for THAT ONE SPOOKY NIGHT up on Amazon, I was prompted to post my thoughts in my first Amazon review. Short but sweet. Check it out here — then order yourself a copy!


Posted in Book Reviews, Comics | Comments Off on THAT ONE SPOOKY NIGHT – an interview/review with Grace Weber

Book Review: Dear Creature by Jonathan Case

October 17th, 2011 by Weber

Somewhere between a Universal monster movie and The Merchant of Venice lies Jonathan Case’s debut graphic novel, Dear Creature. Would this rightly be considered a mash-up? There is no such mention in the enclosed marketing materials, so best not beleaguer the book with negative baggage. Especially since it doesn’t deserve it.

Indeed. Dear Creature is a rich romantic comedy –– fast, layered, funny, and tight –– proper adjectives to describe the writing, pacing, panel composition and line work. High praise for someone’s debut solo effort.

Case seems to have pulled from everywhere: some Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, a little Frankenstein, a handful of Romeo and Juliet, bushels of Dave Stevens, a weird slice from the Taming of the Shrew, some Harlequin Romance, even a bit of Calvin and Hobbes. And it works. The familiar hints of this and that neither overwhelm nor diminish Case’s fresh story of two gene–crossed lovers.

The art here is not subsidiary to the text. This is real comics, the Alchemical Blend I keep talking about that is the hallmark of fine sequential art storytelling. It’s doubtful that a collaborating artist or a brush-for-hire could have managed so successful a package. The crisp black and whites beautifully reflect the tale’s two emotional states: morbid despair and incandescent joy, Case’s clean pen tracing between the two, creating the space in which his characters breathe.

Read in a single sitting, Dear Creature had my full buy-in for every page –– except one. When the hero, Grue, escapes the clutches of a giant squid by tickling her, ah    . . .  “fancy,” shall we call it? . . .  I was completely yanked out of the story.

Not that the moment was too broad or even unnecessary. It might have worked if it wasn’t so jarringly out of place. There was no precedent for it. Plenty of slapstick in the panels leading up to it, but no hint of bawdiness. And while I’m all for the bawdy, it shouldn’t come in the middle of a harrowing sequence. That, and the fact that Grue quickly, ah “surfaces,” shall we call it ? . . . leaving the lady squid with her tentacle trapped in the hull of a submarine? Well, that’s just bad form.

What Case comes up with next is anybody’s guess. With any luck, he’ll be able to stick with long-form graphic novels instead of being seduced by the superhero monthlies. They lack soul; Case doesn’t need to lose his to those.

Either way, I’ll be waiting.

Hit Case’s Web site here.

Dear Creature page over at the MacMillan/Tor site

MacMillan’s Comics and Graphic Novel page — GOLD!

Posted in Book Reviews, Comics | Comments Off on Book Review: Dear Creature by Jonathan Case

Now on Facebook

November 7th, 2010 by Weber


No, not me. This guy.

A couple of months ago, I posted the various versions of the Tinwerks 2009 holiday card. Little did I know Joe and Dave had installed Tinny as their FaceBook icon.

Better check it quick, though. They ordered a complete redesign — the final for which I delivered at the end of October. sThere are some fun plans for Tinny and his new look. Friend Tinwerks on Facebook and you’ll probably find out about the launch before I do.

After Tinny 2.0 goes live, I’ll be free to do some show-n-tell with the prototypes.

Posted in Art, Comics, Work For Hire | Comments Off on Now on Facebook

deg3d.biz 3D modeling — GET THIS GUY A JOB

May 13th, 2010 by Weber


(click here for full image)

Somebody help me out here. This guy, deg, AKA, “Douglas Graves”, has been doing 3D modeling for, I don’t know, a couple of weeks, maybe. He somehow got my email address and keeps sending me these updates of his work. It’s pretty and all, but it’s not like I can help him out. “Damn it, Jim, I’m a writer not a production designer!” Right?

So, check out his site then pass the goods around to decision makers and other industry hot shots who can pay Douglas. The idea is to keep him so busy he has no time to flood my mailbox with this stuff.


Posted in Art, Comics, Movies, Work For Hire | 1 Comment »

What is a Superhero? — take the survey

April 22nd, 2010 by Weber


Dr. Robin Rosenberg needs your help. She teaches and speaks about the psychological phenomena revealed by superheroes and has taught at MIT on “Superheroes and the Life Lessons They Teach Us.”

As part of her research she’s got an online survey asking people’s opinions about What is a Superhero?.

It’s got twelve questions and, if you don’t over-think them like I did, should take about seven minutes to finish.

Click on over and help her out. Do it.


Posted in Comics, Weridness | Comments Off on What is a Superhero? — take the survey

C2E2 Programming Update

April 14th, 2010 by Weber


This just in:

For those of you who thought I was making this up, here’s the official description for the Comics Studies Conference presentation at C2E2. There’s been another time change, so note it and the room number — then double check it when you get to the Con.

Saturday, April 17
4:00pm – 5:30pm, ROOM E266
SESSION #8: Crossing Cultures—Eric P. Nash (New York Times Magazine) examines the origins of Japanese manga in kamishibai or paper theater, including the Golden Bat, who was created in 1930 and may be the world’s first costumed superhero, predating Superman and Batman by nearly a decade. Charles Coletta (Bowling Green State University) examines how the war comics icon Sgt. Rock has been presented and reinterpreted as we moved further in time away from World War II. Bradley Weber (juniormadscientist.com) discusses the successes, failures, pitfalls — and potential — of translating William Shakespeare’s plays to the paneled page, from Classics Illustrated to the latest manga.

And so you can get more of your weekend planned, below is the complete list of other CSC programs. Don’t forget about the other worth-your-while, non-CSC sessions going on as well. Click here for that list.

As far as I know, I’m still doing two panels on Sunday:

Sunday, April 18 12:30pm — 1:30 PM ROOM E267
Graphic Novel Events For Your School Or Library: The Benefits And How-To’s Of Creating Clubs, Presentations, And Workshops

Sunday, April 18 3:00pm — 4:00pm ROOM E267
Getting Your Graphic Novel Collection Started: How To Select, Shelve, And Promote Great Lists For Kids, Tweens, Teens, And Adult Collections

These times and locations are fresh from the C2E2 site, so they should be good for the weekend. But it’s worth verifying on site.

Just sayin’.

Here’s the complete run of eleven CSC programs, as promised. Lots of fun stuff! See you all there!


Comics Studies Conference-Chicago 2010
First Annual Comics Studies Conference-Chicago
Held in conjunction with the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo (C2E2)
McCormick Place, Chicago, Illinois, April 16-18, 2010

Friday April 16

6:00-7:00, ROOM E267
COMICS STUDIES CONFERENCE SESSION #1: Teaching: Comics and The Comics Industry—Todd Allen (Columbia College Chicago) uses standard Internet business research techniques to explore the economics of webcomics and the business of comics on the Web. David Allan Duncan (Savannah College of Art and Design) investigates how the comics studio course trains future cartoonists despite industry uncertainty about the future of comics.

7:00-8:00, ROOM E267
Empowerment—Josh Elder, (Reading With Pictures) investigates the use of comics for describing, understanding, and influencing students’ literacy skills through usage of comic books in classroom and library settings, investigations of the cognitive activities that underlie processing of comics, and development of educational interventions that rely on comics to foster interest and learning. Christopher Deis (DePaul University) focuses on the dynamics of using the graphic novel as a means of exploring politics, particularly focusing on national trauma with 9-11 and Marvel’s Civil War and the politics of race in Maus, Captain America’s the Truth, and Scalped.

8:00-9:00, ROOM E267
COMICS STUDIES CONFERENCE SESSION #3: Supervillains—Brian Miller (How I Became a Supervillain) explores in detail the definition of what it means to be a supervillain, across four levels of discussion—literary history, psychology, methaphysics, and ethics. Roman Colombo (Rosemont College) explores the role of the Joker as defined by the characteristics of the medieval morality play character Vice through representations of the character in both film and sequential art.

Saturday, April 17
11:00am – 12:30pm, ROOM E266
COMICS STUDIES CONFERENCE SESSION #4: Comics and Visual Language—Benjamin Frisch (Savannah College of Art and Design) analyzes how comics can be organized along the space-time spectrum—some comics are more spatial, and some comics are more temporal, depending on their utilization of space and time with regards to panel placement, pacing, and other criteria. Anthony Fisher (Savannah ¬¬¬¬¬¬¬College of Art and Design) elucidates the Theory Visual Relativity in Sequential Art provides that a mathematical rationale in measuring comics can aid in effective perception in sequential art. Côme Martin (Université Paris IV – Sorbonne) shows how comics without any sort of sounds or music are still impregnated with a musical rhythm and can be read like a musical partition.

12:45pm – 2:15pm, ROOM E266
David Olsen (Saint Louis University) uses Derrida to challenge much of the prevailing logic of comics criticism by revealing that Watchmen deconstructs nothing—paradoxes and aporias have marked costumed heroes from the outset. Bryan Peters (Jefferson College) analyzes how cancer comics–Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner’s Our Cancer Year, Marisa Marchetto’s Cancer Vixen, and Miriam Engleberg’s Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person work as alternative, subversive writing, shifting the paradigm from hero to antihero to overthrow regimes of oppression and ignorance. Scott Morrison (Family Physicians of O’Fallon) traces the depiction of drugs in mainstream superhero comic books, from the Golden Age to the Modern Era.

1:45-2:45pm, E267
COMICS STUDIES CONFERENCE SESSION #6: Teaching and Comics—Steven Landry (Apalachee High School) and Becky Hasty (Apalachee High School) show how to use wordless sequential art narratives as mentor texts to foster student engagment, with Sara Varon’s Robot Dreams as the guiding example. Steven Givan (Fayette County Public Schools) demonstrates how to capture reluctant-student reading interest by using comics with new teaching styles. Continuing education certificates for teachers will be available for this panel.

2:30pm – 3:45pm, ROOM E266
COMICS STUDIES CONFERENCE SESSION #7: Superhero Justice—Psychologists Robin Rosenberg (Psychology of Superheroes) and Mikhail Lyubansky (University of Illinois), and attorney Amy Martin explore the nature of evil and how different supervillains’ life experiences and personal characteristics indicate various pathways to criminal behavior. The panel will also explore the implications that these various paths have for our notions of justice—and therefore how we think about the actions of the superheroes who fight the villains.

4:00pm – 5:30pm, ROOM E266
COMICS STUDIES CONFERENCE SESSION #8: Crossing Cultures—Eric P. Nash (New York Times Magazine) examines the origins of Japanese manga in kamishibai or paper theater, including the Golden Bat, who was created in 1930 and may be the world’s first costumed superhero, predating Superman and Batman by nearly a decade. Charles Coletta (Bowling Green State University) examines how the war comics icon Sgt. Rock has been presented and reinterpreted as we moved further in time away from World War II. Bradley Weber (juniormadscientist.com) discusses the successes, failures, pitfalls — and potential — of translating William Shakespeare’s plays to the paneled page, from Classics Illustrated to the latest manga.

5:45-6:45 COMICS STUDIES CONFERENCE SESSION #9: Superheroes—Josh Kopin (Bard College) examines how the death of Captain America in Ed Brubaker’s run on the character serves as a lens for examining the American nation and the meaning of Cap’s triumphs and tragedies. Mervi Miettinen (University of Tampere) examines and analyzes the subversive qualities located within the politics of the superhero, who takes on the executive power of the law without the legislative power and without the legitimacy of authority behind his actions.

Sunday, April 18

11:00am – 12:00pm, ROOM E266
COMICS STUDIES CONFERENCE SESSION #10: Forging Iron Man: The Psychological Construction of Iron Man’s Origin Story—Psychologist Robin Rosenberg (Superhero Origins: What Makes Superheroes Tick and Why We Want to Know) examines Iron Man’s various origin stories and reveals what they tell us about Tony Stark and his decision to become Iron Man.

12:15pm – 1:45pm, ROOM E266
Steve Higgins (Lewis and Clark Community College) explores and analyzes the symbolic motifs that visually manifest the hardships each character endures in Jason Lutes’ Jar of Fools. Seth Alcorn (Catholic University of America) explores the way Alan Moore inverts the structure of decadance and aestheticsim in Watchmen, Promethea, and Lost Girls. Contributors to Gotham City 14 Miles Jim Beard, Mark Waid, Ed Catto, and Mike Johnson examine why the 1966 Batman TV series matters—to the character, to the fans, and to popular culture in general.

Posted in Comics | 1 Comment »

Shakespeare In Comics at C2E2

April 11th, 2010 by Weber

Hey, all.

So they invited me to speak at C2E2 — the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Convention at McCormick Place, April 16 thru 18th. It seems the organizers liked my pitch for a “Shakespeare In Comics” presentation. So for the last three weeks, I’ve been reading like a maniac, scanning books into the computer, and generally trying to lash together something close to coherent. Besides that, I’ve been asked to speak at two other panels and have been put in touch with many new and interesting friends in the comics, graphic novel, and book business — many of whom will be introduced here over the next several weeks (which in BradSpeak tends to translate into “months,” but cut me some slack, huh?)

Another part of this is that I’ve been invited to do the “Shakespeare” show at the International Readers Association precon event at Northwestern University. That’s on Sunday, April 25th. Doors open at 9:00; presenters start around 10AM. More details on that fairly soon, too.

Also — been having some trouble uploading even the smallest images to this site and I don’t have time to look into it right now. So the other kids’ menu and other goodies have to hold for a while longer. Thanks for the patience.

Back to scanning!

Posted in Comics, Shakespeare In Comics | Comments Off on Shakespeare In Comics at C2E2

Avenge-O Fan Art

May 7th, 2008 by Weber

(Update — April 13, 2010: had to disable comments due to crazy amounts of spam. If you have comments, please email me though the ABOUT page or add them to another post and I’ll move them to the right place. Thanks. bjw)

apropos of my earlier post on Avenge-O The Crime-Fighting Robot,

Below is some art done by Fine Arts Guild brother Bruce Bachelder. The first piece is from a few years ago (no date) and was painted over a couple of evenings when we were doing weekly Art Nights at . . . another location. ‘Nuff said.

The two ink drawings are recent, done specifically for JMS Showcase. Webmaster Mike did the color on the second. He said it didn’t take him long to do. He’s either lying or is just that damned talented. Not sure which? Check out his art here and his web work here.

There are still a few copies left of JMS Showcase. FREE! SIGNED! I pay the postage!

They’re going fast, so don’t wait!




Posted in Art, Comics | Comments Off on Avenge-O Fan Art

Avenge-O the Crime-fighting Robot (comics)

May 1st, 2008 by Weber


Avenge-O Adventures (click to download)(1.9MB)

Click the above link to see the first couple of installments in the Avenge-O saga.

The first story, “Forging of a Hero,” was written and drawn (by me) in 1999. It was supposed to be part of Supermarket Action!, a compilation showcasing the work of each Fine Arts Guild member. The conceit was every story had to take place in, or do with, a supermarket or grocery store.

It was a great idea. Unfortunately, it suffered from the same fatal defects encountered on most group projects and was never published. I don’t know if any of the other FAGs finished their parts. Not that it matters now.

Anyway, Part Two, “.38 Caliber Discount”, was written by me, too. I did a version with art for the book. In 2005, I headed to San Diego’s Comic Con International in search of an artist to work on a larger (awesomely good) Avenge-O script. I met cartoonist and industry inker Jorge Pacheco. He did a great job on these three pages. We’d planned to work together more, but he got married and had a kid, so that fell through, too.

Avenge-O first saw print in the (ultra-limited edition) JMS SHOWCASE. I sold almost the full run these in San Diego last year.


Other stories in this issue include “My Dead Grandmother Keeps Getting Mail,” an installment of “Monkeys On An Elevator”, and Parts I-III of “TOPOR: THE THING THAT SLEPT!”

I think there are still a few copies around. Anyone interested in a FREE! SIGNED! book, drop me a line in the comments section. I’ll give ’em away until there ain’t no more.

Posted in Art, Comics, Stories | Comments Off on Avenge-O the Crime-fighting Robot (comics)

Based On A True Story — new comics by me

April 30th, 2008 by Weber


click here to download (approx 370k) then click on the image to make it readable.

New comics about everyday people and everyday happenings. This particular one happens to be about me. Stay tuned for more info on this exciting new feature on JMS!

Posted in Comics | Comments Off on Based On A True Story — new comics by me

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