Saturday, June 16, 2012

Pheaturing Robert Pope


Hello, kids, welcome to a Saturday entry of the Phile, how are you? I cannot believe it's not raining right now here in Central Florida. It has been raining like crazy just about every day.  Well, kids, you can relax, Lindsay Lohan is okay after she totaled her rented Porsche. People who witnessed the accident were stunned. They couldn't believe Lindsay Lohan still has a driver's license. Authorities said today they've ordered a psychiatric evaluation. Not for Lindsay... for the idiot who rented her a Porsche.  Commerce Secretary John Bryson has been cited for felony hit and run after he crashed into a car. Then he drove away and hit another car. He said he had a seizure... to which Lindsay Lohan said, "Why didn't I think of that? I had a seizure."  A new government survey shows that teenagers are now smoking more marijuana than they are smoking cigarettes. Experts say heavy pot smoking by young people impairs thinking, distorts perception, and can be a gateway to the White House.  Congrats to The L.A. Kings, they are the Stanley Cup champions. First time in their 45-year history. And it's ironic... the Devils lost in the City of Angels.  Pundits are saying that President Obama is starting to lose support among his own party. To give you an idea of how bad it's gotten, today Jimmy Carter compared him to Jimmy Carter.  A new book claims President Obama smoked a lot of marijuana while in college. And in a related story to boost his street cred, Mitt Romney admitted he was once hooked on phonics.  Guantanamo Bay is now undergoing millions of dollars worth of renovations, including a new soccer field, cable TV, and better housing. Which is kind of ironic. The only people who say they're better off today than they were four years ago are the inmates at Guantanamo Bay.  TV icon Betty White visited President Obama in the Oval Office this past week. The last time Betty visited the White House, it was still under construction.  China is now preparing to send their first woman into outer space. Which at first seems like a feminist breakthrough until you realize she doesn't want to go.  According to The New York Times, Mexican drug cartels launder millions and million of dollars through horse races. I hate to see something like betting on horses become corrupt and seedy? What's next, boxing?  Republican Senator John McCain and Democrat Harry Reid have called for the federal government to step in and help regulate the sport of boxing. Is that a good idea... something so corrupt and unethical attempting to regulate something so corrupt and unethical?  In New Orleans, the daily newspaper has eliminated 84 newsroom jobs. But the publisher said those positions could be reinstated if this whole Internet thing turns out to be a fad.  As I mentioned last week, it was recently announced that in the next James Bond movie, Skyfall, Bond will not be drinking his trademark martinis... instead he’ll be sipping Heinekens. That's not the only product placement in the new film. Check out this screen shot from Skyfall.

Two days ago was Flag Day, a day I didn't know existed. Anyway, nothing says being proud of your flag than this pin.

Tomorrow is of course Father's Day and here on the Phile I am here to help. If you're looking for something to get your dad then how about this? Is your dad always setting his beer down and then forgetting where he left it? If so, this is the gadget for him! This handy beer pager device keeps beer or soda cold and comes with a remote control and built-in alarm, just in case it is misplaced! Available in three funky styles.

And now for some sad news..

Henry Hill
June 11, 1943 - June 12, 2012

Frank Cady Sep 8, 1915 - June 10, 2012
Off to the REAL Green Acres.

Alright, over the last year or so I had some cool politicians on the Phile from both parties, but for some reason more from the Democratic side. Today's entry is no different. He's new to the Phile, so please give a warm welcome to the Phile, the Communications Director for Obama's re-election campaign, the man with the cool name... David Axelrod, in a new pheature called...

Me: Hello, David, welcome to the Phile. How are things going at the campaign, sir?

David: Jason, good to be here. This is a make-or-break moment for middle-class Americans.
Me: What do you mean, sir?

David: In this election, we face a choice between two fundamentally different visions of how to grow the economy.

Me: How do you mean?

David: The path Mitt Romney and his Republican allies want to take us down is exactly the one that led us to the 2008 crisis. We have to reject those policies and embrace the President's vision of growing the economy, not from the top down, but from the middle class out.

Me: Alright, so, what is the President saying? Better Education, right?

David: We need to invest in good teachers and help more students go to college and get job training...  not pack kids into classrooms and slash scholarships.

Me: What about the Energy Crisis?

David: We need to invest in promising new sources of energy to create a market for innovation and good jobs of the future... not go back to relying on foreign oil.

Me: What else?

David: We need to invest in our best scientists, researchers, and entrepreneurs so they innovate here... not cede new ideas to countries like China and India.

Me: How about creating jobs?

David: We need roads, bridges, ports, and broadband technology that attract businesses that will create jobs here... not more pet projects and bridges to nowhere.

Me: Fair, simple tax reform?

David: We need to reward businesses that create jobs here instead of rewarding outsourcing, and must ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share again... not sacrifice investments critical to the middle class. 

Me: David, this economic crisis didn't start in 2008, did it?

David: No, for more than a decade before, we knew things weren't working the way they should. We saw costs for everything from health care to education rising faster than wages. Good-paying, middle-class jobs were becoming harder to find, as more and more companies moved production overseas. The other side's solution was the same then as it is now,,, massive tax cuts benefiting mainly the wealthy, rolling back regulations on risky behavior for Wall Street and banks, and slashes to services that the middle class depends on, like Medicare, education, and job training.

Me: Was it Clinton's fault?

David: Well, a decade ago, Bill Clinton left a record surplus.

Me: Then it was the last administration...

David: They put two wars, two huge tax cuts, and the Medicare prescription program on a credit card, and handed President Obama a trillion dollar deficit and a raging economic crisis. Incredibly, Romney and his allies want to go back to those same, disastrous policies: budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy and free rein for Wall Street to write its own rules.

Me: Didn't we try Romney's failed formula?

David: For most of the last decade.

Me: Did it benefit anybody?

David: It benefitted a few, but exploded the deficit, crashed our economy, and devastated the middle class. It didn't grow our economy, create good jobs, or pay down our debt... it did the opposite.

Me: And it won't work this time either, will it?

David: Independent economists confirm that Romney's plan wouldn't cut the deficit, or even create a single job now... in fact, it could slow growth and push us back into recession. The President laid out a very different vision, one where everyone, no matter who you are, where you're from, or how big your bank account is, pitches in together to rebuild the foundations of our country and economy. Instead of another $250,000 tax cut for millionaires, Obama believes we should pay down our debt and invest in the things we know we need to grow the economy and strengthen the middle class. That means restoring and upgrading our crumbling infrastructure, investing in education, paying down our debt responsibly, and yes, asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more. This approach requires tough choices and shared sacrifice... exactly how we built the American economy in the first place. As supporters, it's on us to get this message out there.

Me: Thanks for coming on the Phile and explaining all this, David.

David: Jason, share it with your friends, family... heck, share it with everyone you know. Thanks to you and the Phile.

Me: David Axelrod, everybody. David, please come back soon.

Alright, today's guest is a comic book artist, so I thought it'll be cool to invite a good friend who loves comics, has a Facebook page called Comics Make You Stronger, and works at Coliseum of Comics in Orlando back to the Phile to give another review. So, please welcome back to the Phile, my good friend Jim Mello in a pheature called...

"The Massive #1" by Brian Wood with some sweet storytelling pencils and colors by the indomitable Dave Stewart.  Valediction is a word I don't often get to use on things I'm excited for.  Generally, I build things to a fever pitch in my mind, so when the final product sits before me, it's always a little less than I thought it would be. If you've followed Comics Make You Stronger, you've probably seen a few posts for "The Massive", Brian Woods latest creator owned outing. I''ve hyped it to you, to customers at my store, on my podcast, and mostly to myself. I set insurmountable odds in terms of quality for this book, and stacked them end over end.  Now, my reading is done, and the first issue sits beside me belabored from the scrutiny I put upon it.  And let me tell you... I need a cigarette and a drink because that was soooo good.  A mercenary named Callum Israel witnesses the awesome power of nature as a rogue wave destroys the oil rig his team is operating on. It takes it from under his feet like a receding wave at the beach takes the sand from under your feet. It's at this moment he realizes that somethings not right. The world is shifting.  Economies crash. Wars begin and end. The environment begins the work of setting itself right again, and the cost in human lives is high. Israel, now an environmental activist in a group called the Ninth Wave watches from his ship, The Kapital, as the world up-ends. The amount of world-building here is stunning. The amount of research coupled with the way its presented details a very rich world not far from our own. He belays all the character introductions, minus the very important ones, to allow the feeling of the book to overtake everything else.  Kristian Donaldson isn't a Jim Lee, and I mean this in a very good way. It's stunning in how rich its depictions of the world are, but at the same time can carry a story through plenty of panels with no narration. Dave Stewart is on colors, and I swear to you, this guy is pretty much the colorist on every good book out there.  But I want you to forget all that. Forget this review. Only remember that you have the sudden, and uncontrollable need to pick up this book. Forget everything I've mentioned to you about it. Forget the hype. Just fucking read it. Pull yourself away from the droll output that superhero books have been of late, and give this a shot.  Then remember all of this, and feel the warm embrace of valediction. Cigarettes and alcohol should be available for consumption after.

 Okay, today's guest is the 19th artist to be pheatured in the Peverett Phile Art Gallery, and is DC Comics go to guy when it comes to comics based on animated properties. He has been the penciler on "Scooby-Doo", "Looney Tunes" and their Cartoon Network books. Please welcome to the Phile... Robert Pope.

Me: Hello, Robert, welcome to the Phile. How are you? 

Robert: Fine!

Me: Where are you from, sir?

Robert: North Carolina, but I've lived all over the Eastern seaboard and as far west as Texas and as far north as Minneapolis.

Me: Okay, I interviewed many different artists here on the Phile. Some went to school to learn how to draw and to do art, some didn't. Did you?

Robert: I went to the Art Institute of Atlanta in the mid-eighties when it was a 2 year school primarily servicing ad agencies. I was mostly self-taught artistically, although my freshman and sophomore years in high school were very beneficial as I had a good art teacher who generally loathed cartooning and made me learn lots of basic stuff.

Me: How long have you been an artist?

Robert: Since I could sit up and hold a crayon, I guess.

Me: I used to like watching cartoons and trying to draw my favorite characters. Is that something you used to do?

Robert: Constantly. Lots of my picture books feature crude representations of the Road Runner as well as Snoopy, Ben Grimm, etc.

Me: You mostly work for DC, right? Did you do anything for Marvel as well?

Robert: Never worked for Marvel, though I HAVE drawn Wolverine for the cover of an issue of Toyfare.

Me: I am mostly a Marvel fan, but I love Batman. What comics did you grow up reading?

Robert: Too long a list to itemize. Loved Marvel, particularly the Fantastic Four (Kirby and Buscema runs particularly) and DC (Carmine Infantino's Flash, Joe Staton's Green Lantern, Ross Andru's Wonder Women. Also worshiped Carl Barks and all the Duck books, Richie Rich, Archie Comics, the usual fare.

Me: You have worked on comics of Scooby-Doo, Looney Tunes, Batman and many more. What books are you currently working on, Robert?

Robert: Scooby remains my constant companion, no matter what happens, I always end up back with him.

Me: How did you find yourself working on comic book versions of cartoons?

Robert: Was animating on "Space Ghost Coast to Coast" back in the late 90's when DC approached Clay Croker (art and animation director on the show and voice of Zorak and Moltar) about doing a "SGC2C" comic. Clay had me and Matt Jenkins (who were both assisting him at the time) jam on the pencils and we were off and running.

Me: What was the first one you worked on?

Robert: An issue of DC Cartoon Cartoons with Space Ghost playing with action figures on the cover.

Me: Is there a favorite book you like doing?

Robert: "Batman The Brave and the Bold" was wonderful. Hate that didn't go on longer. Fit my style really well, I thought.

Me: The Batman series you worked on is not the regular Batman series, but the Batman from the animated cartoon. Do you ever want to work on the "real" Batman?

Robert: Would love to, probably considered too "cartoony" to get the gig, however.

Me: Your work is pretty amazing and dead on. How long does it take to perfect a character, Robert? 

Robert: Forever! I still pencil with model sheets in my lap for every story.

Me: Is there a character that you had a problem getting down good?

Robert: Still can't make Daphne look the way she ought. Try, try again.

Me: So, are they strict about how the characters look?

Robert: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Mostly yes.

Me: You do a lot of different styles as each book has a different style. Is there a style you love more? 

Robert: Iwao Takamoto's fusion of Marc Davis Disney theory and Alex Toth sensibility. Fits me like a glove.

Me: Also, is there a cartoon that is on TV that you haven't worked on that you would want to?

Robert: "Looney Tunes". Who wouldn't? Or "The Flintstones", if the reboot is OK.

Me: When you get a script, how detailed is it you have to do? I am guessing pretty strict, but not Alan Moore strict.

Robert: Pretty strict, but I have some wiggle room to fix stuff that doesn't work well visually.

Me: Do you do like do background stuff as well, or just characters?

Robert: I like stories with beaches and snowdrifts. Nobody likes to draw buildings and cars, I think.

Me: You must have a favorite character, am I right?

Robert: Marvel: Ben Grimm or Dr. Victor Von Doom. DC: The Flash. Dell: Scrooge McDuck Animation: Foghorn Leghorn (who I've drawn for DC's "Looney Tunes" comic book twice!)

Me: A lot of artists like to create their own characters, Robert. Do you ever put your own characters in the books?

Robert: Oh, yeah. Every time I have to create somebody from the ground up in a script.

Me: Hell, did you ever put yourself in a book?

Robert: I'm usually in the crowd running from the monster somewhere.

Me: I loved you did of Wolverine and Robin standing over Peter Griffin who is playing with Wolverine and Robin action figures. That's a mix of three different universes and styles. How did piece come about?

Robert: The editor at Toyfare wanted a mashup an asked for those 3 characters. It was a lot of fun.

Me: I have a 12 year old son who doesn't like to draw as much as me. But when he does it's really cool. So, do you have kids of your own, Robert? Are they into drawing as well? 

Robert: Two boys, young. They like to draw, but it's still stick figure stuff. Hard to tell if there's real talent at this point.

Me: I cannot imagine who your favorite artist would be, as you draw so many different styles. Do you have a favorite artist?

Robert: Charles Monroe Schulz.

Me: Apart from drawing comic books, you also worked in animation, am I right? What did you work on and what do you like best?

Robert: Commercial animation for well over 20 years now. Lots of Cartoon Network properties, but I also briefly worked on "Animaniacs" (and I mean very briefly) and worked on the Slappy Squirrel "open" as well as some stuff in the cartoons themselves. Too many jobs to pic a favorite, though.

Me: Robert, I like to ask artists I feature on the Phile if they were gonna design a logo for the Phile, what would it look like?

Robert: Probably like somebody desperately pretending to be Saul Bass but more like a 3rd rate John Buscema ripoff artist.

Me: Thanks so much for being on the Phile, Robert. Go ahead and mention your website and anything else you want. All the best, and love you work.

Robert: for the comics stuff for the animation stuff and if I listed all the things I love, I'd never get the Scooby story on my desk finished! Thanks again, hope I wasn't a snooze! Oh, and

Me: Thanks, Robert, and please come back sometime, and you weren't a snooze at all.


 Well, there you have it, another entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guests David Axelrod, Jim Mello and of course Robert Pope. The Phile will be back tomorrow on Father's Day with musician Chris Levy from Son of Levi, then on Monday it's Alumni Lee Negin and then next Sunday it's Summer on the Phile with  musician Bill Rozer from Witches In Bikinis. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

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