Sunday, April 13, 2014

Voting Opens for The Inkwell Awards

The following press release is courtesy of artist Bob Almond, director of the Inkwell Awards. Want to participate? Visit Bob can be reached at

(New Bedford, MA/USA—April 14, 2013) The Inkwell Awards, a non-profit organization devoted to educating and promoting the art of inking, invites the public to vote for the industry's best of the past year. The official public ballot will be available on the Inkwell Awards' homepage from April 15 through April 30. Voting is open to everyone, whether fans or professional peers. The winners will be announced at the live awards ceremony at Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC June 20-22 on Saturday the 21st at 12:30 pm. 
As with last year, the ballot will still list the nominees for the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame lifetime achievement award, which were chosen by the internal and separate Hall of Fame Nomination Committee (made up of the core committee, former committee members, ambassadors, contributors and existing Hall of Fame award recipients). To avoid a “popularity contest” where recent names have more influence than past masters, the two winners have been chosen by the HoF Nomination Committee rather than the public and will be announced at the ceremony. Current nominees are listed as a courtesy. Past Hall of Fame award recipients include Joe Sinnott, Terry Austin & Dick Giordano, Klaus Janson & Al Williamson, Wallace Wood & Kevin Nowlan, Mark McKenna & Scott Williams, and last year, Dick Ayers & Murphy Anderson. 
“We’re so excited for this event, where everyone’s hard work will pay off and the best of the best ink artists and their work will be recognized,” said Bob Almond, founder and director of The Inkwell Awards (AKA "The Inkwells"). "Inkers have their own fans and followers, and often go unsung or glossed over in traditional awards events. Ours caters specifically to ink artists and allows several to be recognized and appreciated in various categories.” 
Ballots and instructions can be viewed at The Inkwells' web site beginning on tax day, April 15. A direct link will additionally be posted on their Facebook group page, where people may also ask any questions. 
The Inkwell Awards is an official 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and promote the art form of comic-book inking, as well as annually recognize and award the best ink artists and their work. Now in its seventh year, the organization is overseen by a committee of industry professionals and assisted by various professional ambassadors and numerous contributors. They sponsor the Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship Fund for the Kubert School and host the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Gift that Keeps Giving from Artie Simek

Sensei Carlos Varon—my long-distance dobro from Legend Shotokan (thanks to our shared O’Sensei Richard Lenchus)—recently contacted me with a generous gift of comics and related books. When I asked him how he stumbled upon this little treasure trove, he told me they were once a gift from Artie Simek.

Sadly, you have to be a certain age, and a certain type of fan, to get goose flesh when the name Artie Simek is mentioned. But I certainly did.

Born on January 6, 1916, Arthur “Artie” Simek was what folks once called a calligrapher and what comics jargon calls a letterer. Starting with Timely (Marvel’s precursor) in the 1940’s, Artie didn’t receive his first confirmed credits until years later on both a 12-page Batman-Superman story in World’s Finest #91 as well as in Batman #112 (both in 1957). He went on to letter DC’s Showcase and House of Secrets, then shows up in 1959 on Marvel’s Kid Colt, Outlaw

Along with Sam Rosen, Artie was one of Marvel’s two principal letterers: The two hand lettered the word balloons and sound effects in nearly every seminal Marvel title, and likely designed many logos. If you ever hold a Fantastic Four #1 in your hands, those are Artie’s letters. His last lettering job was on Giant-Size Defenders #5 (July 1975). He died while working on the book.

Sensei Carlos Varon grew up in Elmhurst, Queens, NY. One Halloween, he and a few of his friends knocked on a door and shouted “trick or treat!”  “Imagine my surprise to get a comic book,” write Carlos. “How cool was that?” The other kids seemed a little disappointed in getting a book and not candy, but Carlos was thrilled—and Artie Simek saw that in his face. “He invited me into his home,” said Carlos, who was instantly amazed to see the many drawings and an active art board. “I can still recall the pile of comics and storyboards on display. He told me he worked on Marvel Comics as a letterer and I was not sure about that, but he took the time to explain and even offered me a few of his full-size storyboards. As a dumb, young kid, I said no thank you. Boy was I na├»ve!”

But over time, Simek gave young Carlos a number of books that he had worked on. “My collection really grew from that visit,” says Sensei Varon.

And now mine has, thanks to Carlos’ generous gift.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Artie, but my friend Gene Colan once described him as “a real Norman Rockwell character. Artie Simek could play the spoons. He'd have two spoons in his hand, and he would flip them around, they would bop up against each other, and before you knew it, there was a melody there. He was wonderful.”

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Harlan Ellison Gives Comic Book Babylon a Rave Review

I've been waiting 35 years for the letter I received last week from Harlan Ellison regarding my latest book. He writes (and I am ossified to read):
I found COMIC BOOK BABYLON an imperial hoot. Have now read it three times, and Susan has read it once. It takes me time to read it, because every name you drop, every anecdote you tell, sparks drift-rememberances of my own...and I pause...and I think...and I smile or frown. It is an Aladin's treasure cavern of piquant down-low and memory. It is--as you well know, you schmachler--one helluva book! And I am dead-chuft to be in it. As always, you are a mensch and a Solid Brother! All love from us here in the Trembling Terrain, to all of you there in the Apple Vicinity. Yer pal, Harlan
If you haven't ordered COMIC BOOK BABYLON yet, I urge you to do so. AardwolfPublishing continues to offer the hardcopy with a guarantee of delighted or your money back. It's also selling fairly well via Amazon for the Kindle, but I make pennies on that and, let's be honest: holding a book in your hands is nicer than holding a Kindle.