In between drawing here and there, I've still been managing to whittle down my Sisyphean pile of reading material. (I'm currently reading a good biography of Joe Kubert and have over 18 books/graphic novels to wade through, though thankfully some of them are artbooks so will take less time to digest).
One of the best books I've read recently is Supergods by Grant Morrison. I've mentioned it previously but it's a cultural history of the superhero, intertwined with a semi-autobiography of Morrison. It's one of the most infectious, illuminating and fascinating reads I've had in a long time so would urge anyone to have a read, even if they're not fans of Morrison's work.
Modern comics, I've been enjoying JH Williams' stuff on Batwoman and James Robinson's return to Opal City in the pages of The Shade. I picked up the Must Have collection of Ultimate New Spider-Man #1-3, mainly as the preview art looked gorgeous and indeed it is, Sara Pichelli jettisoning the cartoony/manga inspired style she used in Runaways for a more natural one, excellently served by some of the best computer colouring seen in comics by Justin Ponsnor.
Again, my gripe with Bendis is his pacing: great dialogue but he sacrifices the plot in favour of it. Three issues in (much like the original Ult Spidey), Miles still hasn't donned his costume. I don't mind that but in three issues, essentially he gets but, manifests powers, moves to a coveted school with his best friend and learns his uncle is a bit dodgy. It's like a McDonald's burger, OK when you're taking a bit but once you're done, you wonder where the real heft was.
Incidentally, I hate the Ultimate Spider-man costume as it looks like you could only comfortably draw it using layers or fiddling with the select tool on photoshop. The whole think looks awkward so I took a shot at revising the costume, this pic being the second after the first (which just eliminated the webbing and played with the emblem really) pretty much sucked.
I've been continuing to sample vintage and Euro comics, turning up some obscure stuff by accident. Blazing Combat is a collection of the 4-issue series from the 60s, featuring short EC-influenced war stories set anywhere from ancient Greece, the Revolutionary War, the World Wars and Vietnam. With art by Wally Wood, John Severin and Alex Toth among others, this was a great collection with terrific art: Russ Heath's sole strip featured perhps some of the finest comic art I've ever seen.
I've never read too much 200AD but the art attracted me to their new collection of Cradlegrave. Great storytelling and art help make the council-estate set tale of a neighbour with something wrong feel totally real, bringing to mind TV shows like The Fades or Misfits: this could easily make a decent telemovie.I stumbled across an edition of Sam Pezzo, PI, an Italian detective comic that I'd never heard of but fell in love with the art: must find more stuff by artist Vittorio Giardino. Legend of the Scarlet Blades is a sumptuous collection of a fully painted European series set in feudal Japan but with touches of fantasy, another pleasant discovery.
My real find is Milo Manara. I've always wanted to try his work but was put off by the sexual nature of a lot of it. I read X-Women, which was pretty but not a great read but then I found Pandora's Eyes and the first edition of Dark Horse's Manara Library. I was blown away by the latter: each line looks effortlessly graceful and the storytelling is beautiful: despite the nasty events, the opening pages are totally silent and really draw you in. Looking at this makes you realise again just how crude most comic art is in comparison to those true artists working in the field. I can't wait for the second (of 9) volumes and may even be tempted by Dark Horse's 3-volume collection of Manara's erotica. Nevertheless, I'd highly recommend the Manara Library...