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Long Gap

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

To those who’ve been following my blog, I’ve become obsessed with Facebook and am not posting here as much. If you like, please look me up as “Nathan Massengill” on Facebook and Friend me there. Mention in comment you saw me here, please. I will try to pick up the posting schedule here as well. Also, commenting is almost irrelevant here as I get so many robotic spams (I currently have over 40,000 spam comments awaiting approval) that it isn’t worth posting a comment, sadly! :(

New Inker for the JSA

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

Well, I am more than a bit late in announcing this here. Newsarama already has me on the schedule: NEWSARAMA JSA NEWS LINK

But at all events, the good news is this: I am the new series inker on the JSA. Two things are extra special about this assignment: One, Dale Eaglesham is doing some of the most beautiful pencils I’ve ever had the chance to work on…And, Two, Alex Ross is involved in the crafting of the story, which is a follow-up of sorts to his brilliant Kingdom Come graphic novel. Kingdom Come is almost universally acknowledged as one of the finest pieces of fiction in the superhero genre and Alex is an old friend of mine. I’m impossibly lucky to be part of this team.

And for those who are wondering, I am getting to know Dale Eaglesham and he is more than a consummate professional at the top of his game…He’s a really nice and thoughtful person. I think you’ll be amazed at the work he is doing…I know I have been. The best thing about being an inker is getting to be so familiar with masterful artwork, to get to appreciate a penciler’s work in a unique way. I hope all the fans of the JSA and Kingdom Come get to read this series!

ACE Con 2008

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

Nathan Massengill, Michael Golden, Sanford Greene @ ACE Con 2008ACE Con here in Atlanta found me at dinner with two great pencilers (actually there were more than that to be sure, but such is the limit of the photograph!). Next to me in the middle is the famous Michael Golden, and beside him is the unmistakable Sanford Greene. [Little did Michael and I know that we are soon hereafter to be struck down by the vicious Atlanta-con flu! This is where I have been lurking the past week…in my sickbed!] Michael Golden strikes me as a very direct person who is very much about honesty and forthrightness. We had a terrific conversation that ranged from the dangerous territory of politics into the - I daresay more interesting area for both of us - of the future of sequential storytelling and the mediums that will be employed to tell those stories. If you ever get a chance to meet Michael, don’t miss it!

Sanford Greene was also at that dinner, though thankfully he escaped the dessert of the Evil Flu! For those who don’t know, Sanford is one of the “regular” pencilers that I work with. We’ve just finished up a DC Comics’ Wonder Girl mini-series and hopefully will be starting more trouble up soon. Sanford has a mad talent and is really hilarious when you get him riled up. Sitting with these two men, it is very clear you are sitting next to two generations of comics history in the making, which is one of the great thrills of working in this business.

Another highlight: Talking with Bob Schreck. I’ve only worked for Bob once, on the “City of Crime” Batman graphic novel (and a couple other scattered issues of Detective Comics), but that was enough for us to become friends. He is indisputably one of the greatest modern comics editors and his comics war stories are so funny they make me cry like a baby. Through him, I was also able to meet another of the indisputably great editors, his ex-wife Diana Shutz. I wish I had taken pictures! What an idiot I am.

Another great moment was finally getting to talk to Joe Linsner (brilliant painter of the comic series “Cry for Dawn”). I tried to track down when I had first met Joe…we are nearly the same age and both broke into comics very young…back in the NYC hotel conventions of the very late eighties or very early nineties. Though we have probably been in the same room dozens of times over the intervening years, it was very rare we would get a chance to speak. Finally talking to him at the ACE con was a revelation; it was really like meeting an old friend I’d never been introduced to. What a kind person! I really admire his career path and very much enjoyed the chance to tell him so. If you haven’t had the chance, trust me, you’ll love his work even more after you get to meet him.

Following the theme of this blog entry, let me just state for the record that the greatest thing about working in comics is being a part of a massive, diverse, sprawling, quirky, brilliant, intentional family of Creators. The sense of “family” in comics is very real and very valued.

Prisoner-o-rama

Friday, February 1st, 2008

For those rabid fans of the Prisoner (so like myself), the BBC has archived some very happenin’ versions of Ron Grainer’s original theme. Arguably, this is the central part of the greatest TV intro of all time. As for the archived “unused version,” Thank the Great Rover it stayed that way! The early version with the lutes is pretty haunting! For Prisoner fans only:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/classic/prisoner/music.shtml

Kid Nation Controversy

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

Alex Pulls the Freight in Kid Nation


Alex (red shirt) Pulls His Weight

Kid Nation (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kid_Nation) started out in a flurry of controversy which really has not abated. For those not familiar, Kid Nation was a CBS reality show where the children are left “without adults” in a ghost town. The goal was to create their own “nation” made up entirely of kids. There were injuries. One of the kids was splattered with grease while cooking. I remember reading an article about kids drinking bleach mislabeled as water. But none of the injuries were serious, and though complaints were filed, none were acted on. Certainly, comparable to an ordinary 40 days at camp, the injuries seem relatively typical and minor. The exit interviews of the kids seem to indicate that the most difficult experience they faced was being filmed constantly. In the end, the only danger to the show was a season of rather low ratings.

But was it a good show? Well, the answer is that it was a mixture of extremely good and extremely odd.

The extremely good: The kids were uniformly fantastic. You simply can’t get better improvised comedic dialogue anywhere. Unlike the amoral and deceptive (though equally fascinating) competitive model of Survivor, the kids have a credulity and sincerity that is very compelling to watch. In particular, some of the very youngest kids, Mallory and Alex, were real heroes and obviously great kids. Taylor was always fun and I often found myself cheering her on as she stood up to the natural authoritarians in town. As a leader, her “Deal With It” motto was one of the worst political slogans in history, but also totally hilarious. She wasn’t perfect, but she was very real and I know many “adults” who behave exactly like her (in their supposed full maturity). On a deeper level, the show functioned extremely well as an examination of leadership and motivation. It was definitely the most thought-provoking reality show I’ve ever seen.

The Extremely Odd: Simple: The adult manipulation! The best moments in the show were unscripted, unmanipulated (relatively), and brought forth from the imagination of the kids. First problem: Somehow, the producers thought it would be a good idea to force a representative democracy on these stranded kids. Was this to supposedly prepare them for our supremely dysfunctional adult version of this same system? From the beginning, four kids were on council. Occasionally, they were given an opportunity to be voted out and replaced, but that was it. No opportunity to vote out or reorganize the structure of the council was ever given. Kids were also divided into four camps (did the producers have a fetish for the number four?). It seemed this was intended mimic the Survivor camps and avoid individual competition among the kids. Unlike Survivor, there were no directly democratic votes at all, except for the “representative democracy” of the town council. No one was voted out, obviously (that would be traumatic for the kids and the viewers, too!), but instead of leaving out the mercenary game show aspect of Survivor altogether, the producers shoehorned in the forced drama of “gold star” awards in every show. These $20000 gold star awards shifted the whole tenor of the show away from the societal, functioning community (ala “Lord of the Flies”) aspect to the How Can I Behave in Such a Way as To Earn The Gold Star aspect. This manipulative structure served the kids poorly and the viewers worse. Instead of setting up a type of badge system, where all the kids would have chances to shine and achieve victories, 50% of each show was devoted to an ersatz tearjerker popularity contest. When my favorite town member, 9 year old Alex, won his award, I think he put it the best…”I don’t really need $20000.” Later, he said, “But I’ll definitely keep it, gold prices are on the rise.” The kids were just as motivated to win the challenges for various practical rewards around town. Competing for the $20000 stars made the kids think not about making a community, but just the opposite: How to make themselves look good at the expense of others. This was a terrible decision by the producers that reduced 50% of each episode to a tedious forced drama. This half of the show made viewers long for first half. Even worse was the super-manipulative “Religion” episode, which was truly painful to behold. I won’t say much about it expect that it was a sickening directive to make the kids try to form a religion-based town meeting. This placed the kids in the disturbing position of having to defend what is, essentially, the faith (or lack thereof) they are being brought up in by their parents. Kids are below the age of accountability for a reason. The wince factor on this particular episode was very high. Even worse, it was an early episode. If any episode explains why the ratings tanked, this was it. Alex, of course, was the voice of sanity in this episode, too. If only Alex could run him in our presidential election!

Basically, the idea is a great one. By reducing the game show aspects of this program and increasing a looser format with more chances for the kids to achieve on their individual strengths (and have their well-deserved moment in the sun), Kid Nation could be a strong reality program. Overproduction works on a show like Survivor, but the finest moments for the children involve their sense of invention and intuitive common sense. Smothering that smothers the show. Of course, changing the overproduced aspects of the show would, in typical network thinking, destroy the show, so that won’t be happening. But there were still many superb episodes of Kid Nation and congratulations to all the brave kids who stepped up and participated.

Interview with Me on the Subject of “Good Girl Art” for CPA-APA by Dewey Cassell

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

My friend Dewey Cassell has kindly granted me permission to reprint here his interview with me for the prestigious and very long-running CPA-APA ‘zine. Dewey made some wonderful art choices to accompany the story, as well, which are absent here. Thanks for the kind interview, Dewey! Without further ado, the article:

Interview with a Vampire (Artist)

Even accepting a fairly broad definition of the terms “modern” and “good girl”, Nathan Andrew Massengill may not be the first name that comes to mind when you think about modern good girl artists. Nonetheless, as you will find in this interview, conducted with Nathan via email in July 2007, the talented inker has broad experience in the genre, past and present (and pun intended.) I had the pleasure of making Nathan’s acquaintance in the mid-1990s, when he was working on Harris Comics’ Vampirella and living in rural North Carolina. I have enjoyed seeing him over the years, mostly at conventions, and following the progress of his career in comics. Today, he lives in Atlanta and is inking a new Wonder Girl mini-series for DC Comics. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning…

Dewey Cassell: When and where were you born?

Nathan A. Massengill: Hickory, North Carolina; a Pisces born right after the 60’s, which is why I have never been cool.

Cassell: When did you start drawing?

NAM: I was always drawing. I have comic book pages, with panels and superhero characters that I was working on in Kindergarten.

Cassell: Did you receive formal art training?

NAM: I went for two years to the Joe Kubert School of Art, which was, and remains, a fantastic school. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the field of comic art.

Cassell: Who is your favorite modern good girl artist?

NAM: Well, I think Dave Stevens would come to mind as one of the greatest good girl artists, but certainly no artist has had more influence on my own career with “good” girls than Adam Hughes. This would involve classifying Howard Chaykin and Mark Beachum as “bad girl” artists, but they are also favorites of mine.

NAM: (Cont’d) Of course, there are “definitive” artists for each character, an artist who sums up the mental image of a character in a person’s mind. For instance, I think José Gonzalez when I think of Vampirella.

Cassell: What “good girls” have you drawn over the years and which was your favorite?

NAM: I was lucky, because the first major work I did for DC was on Wonder Woman, who is the ultimate Good Girl, rather, Good Woman, and my favorite superhero character. I had inked the character Jaguar for Impact Comics before that. I’ve worked on Storm, Phoenix, Batgirl, Supergirl, the Legionnaire girls, Fire (in Checkmate), Spoiler (as a brief female Robin in Detective), Siryn in Deadpool, Catwoman, Black Cat, Kitty Pride, Vampirella, and more I am sure. Now, I am doing the new Wonder Girl mini-series, so I am back, in a way, on the Wonder Woman franchise.

Cassell: How did you get involved with Harris Comics’ Vampirella?

NAM: I got involved when Ed McGuinness requested me to ink him on the launch of the Vampirella Strikes! series. It was a fantastic time (just the end of the big-selling mid-nineties days for comics) and the opportunity to work with Meloney Crawford-Chadwick, a truly great editor.

Cassell: How did you feel about inking such an iconic character?

NAM: Both Ed and I were very happy to be working on Vampirella, who is such a well-known character. I think we were looking forward to doing some very moody, gothic stories, but it turned out the stories were more sci-fi and traditionally superhero-ish than gothic. But still fun! (Nods to writer Tom Sneigowski.)

Cassell: Did you enjoy working with Ed McGuinness?

NAM: I worked with Ed for a number of years after that, on Wolverine, Deadpool, Cable, the Hulk, and even the Fighting American. It was one of the very best experiences of my career and I still love inking Ed when I have the opportunity. He’s simply brilliant.

Cassell: What was your favorite part of Vampirella? (So to speak)

NAM: Yes, that is a loaded question. There are two great things about Vampirella. First, her artistic heritage, from the nearly unparalleled stable of artists employed in the Warren days. Second, her unapologetic sexiness and outrageous costume. Making a great story for such an outré heroine is really the great challenge; I’d really enjoy writing a story for her one day.

Cassell: Why do you think Vampirella continues to be popular with fans?

NAM: Vampirella’s secret is her sensuality, with the under-the-surface niceness and odd vulnerability that keep her human (so to speak, as you say). I think she needs a certain racy edge, but at the character’s heart, she’s always a little lost and lonely. This combination of tough and tender are what makes the very best heroes.

Cassell: Did you read Warren Publishing’s Vampirella?

NAM: I have read them, and they are amazingly good. I was lucky enough to have access to a large collection of the original magazines, and that’s definitely the way to read them. It’s where I fell in love with – and eternal awe of – José Gonzalez’ work.

Cassell: How did you get involved with DC Comics’ Wonder Girl?

NAM: Penciler Sanford Greene and I started working together at DC on Batman Strikes!, then an issue of JLU, and then several issues of the animated Legionnaires book. Based on the success of those books, DC pulled Sanford in to redesign Wonder Girl and work on a six-issue mini. I, of course, am thrilled to be working with Sanford and on another series in the Wonder Woman franchise.

Cassell: What is the storyline of the Wonder Girl miniseries?

NAM: I know it related to the “Amazon Attacks” storyline running through the DCU right now, and that we are giving a new shape to the Cassie Sandsmark character, but I don’t have many other details. I know Robin plays a major part and there’s a Hercules character in it.

Cassell: What are the differences in inking Vampirella and Wonder Girl?

NAM: I always thought of Vampirella as more illustrative, but all the pencilers I’ve worked with on these characters have been very graphic, and I think we’ve been bringing that more modern edge to the characters. I really ink the penciler more than the character in these cases.

Cassell: Are there any unique challenges in inking good girl art?

NAM: Well, hair is usually a big one, as you want all the characters to have elaborate, lush hair. I think you want them to be physically imposing without being too buff; I know the editors usually want you to walk an impossible line there. I think only Adam Hughes has ever gotten Wonder Woman perfectly balanced between awe-inspiring stature and lush femininity. Mark Beachum can usually hit this goal as well, although his girls are always quite mischievous, to say the least, and might not make the “good” definition. I know any good girl artist has a certain struggle with the balance between heroic and sexy.

Cassell: Who has been your favorite artist to ink (so far)?

NAM: Mike Wieringo was one of my very favorites, as I was fortunate enough to work with him on the launch of his creator-owned Tellos series, but, honestly, I’ve been extremely lucky to work with some of the best artists in comics. My new pencilers, Steve Scott and Sanford Greene, are stellar talents and will make a huge mark in comics.

Cassell: Is there a good girl character that you have always wanted to work on (but haven’t yet)?

NAM: I’d really like to work on Sue Storm, as she is one of the best female superheroines. I’d love to work more on Wonder Woman and I had a great time working on an issue of editor Michael Wright’s fantastic run of the Cassandra Cain Batgirl, a very underestimated series. I’m also a big fan of editor Joan Hilty’s female Manhunter. And, of course, it would be great to do Vampirella again.

I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of Nathan’s art – good girl and otherwise - in the years to come. In the meantime, check out the new Wonder Girl mini-series, which will hit comic shops in September.

Article © Dewey Cassell 2007.

Claudia Black, Need I Say More? (Dragon*Con 2007 p2)

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

Fade Into Black, Claudia Black

Claudia Black Signing at Dragon*Con 2007

Looking at Claudia, even from a distance in the signing lines at the Dragon*Con, you could tell why she was such a great actress. Waiting for people to come up to her in the line, she would frown slightly, and you’d find your mood plummeting. Then someone would text her something, and she’d grab her phone with that irrepressible energy she has, and her face would light up…and your world would suddenly seem like a choir of angels popped up on your shoulder. Her expressive ability is so natural and infectious…I’ve only seen it in a handful of actresses like Audrey Hepburn…and I never actually got to meet her. The funny thing you’d never know about Claudia in this picture…she’s like 8 months *very* pregnant! I was really worried about her attending the Dragon*Con in that state…She’s certainly a brave one! Anyway, the picture is crappy, but she still looks great in it, as she did in person. As a huge fan of Farscape (the show I consider the best sci-fi series yet done), and a massive admirer of everything Claudia does, it was a highlight of the show to meet her. End geek moment #2 here…

My Lexa-cellent Adventure (Dragon*Con 2007 p1)

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

Me and the magnificent Lexa Doig

Me and the Luminous Lexa Doig

I was never the world’s biggest fan of Andromeda, I’ll be entirely honest. It had some good seasons, and some good episodes, however. The best thing about the show was the utter likability of the cast. The best actual story concept in the show was the character of ‘Romi, short for Andromeda. Lexa Doig played Spock to Sorbo’s Kirk on the show, except, instead of a super-rational Vulcan, she’s a super-rational android. She’s kind of like a ship’s masthead come to life, a living personification of the warship Andromeda, brought to life Galatea-like by the ship’s engineer. Lexa was wonderful because she did not *look* like an android warship, but was instead a rather waifish and delicate-looking young woman. You get the sense, watching Lexa onscreen, that she is really beautiful. You meet her in person, and your opinion may change. She’s super-beautiful. The camera, surprisingly, doesn’t capture anything like her perfect skin and intense warmth. She is extremely accessible and charming, the picture of an ideal convention guest. I didn’t really get to talk to her…The design of the Stargate signing booths was horrible for any kind of interaction, designed for maximizing profit and not for interaction at all. I did see her briefly at the Pro Hospitality Suite, but she didn’t stay long and I didn’t have a chance to say “hi” there. Anyway, I insert the rather poor picture of her here (my apologies Lexa!) and encourage anyone who gets a chance to meet her not to pass it up! Now this geek moment is ended…

Self Portrait

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

Clipart Self-Portrait, Dialogue Mine


This is me. The image is clipart, the text mine…If you ever wanted to understand me (and I can’t imagine why you’d want to, but this is a blog!), here it all is in black and white. ;)

The Jenkins Klingonstmas Bash

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Weird but “Overly-Intelligent” *snort!*

Slytherins of Atlanta

(click on Pic for Credits)

I was fortunate enough to attend the bashorama (non-religion, only Klingon affliliation, holiday bash) at the Paul Jenkins mega-household. In attendance were the usual suspects of the Atlanta art crew, and due to a marked lack of attendance of spouses and GFs, the boys were up to even more mischief than usual. Many of the hijinx must remain unenumerated to protect the guilty. Some highlights of the party:

- Brian Stelfreeze’ racially-insensitive naming of me as “RGB white”…Astoundingly, this marks my first insulting nickname from Brian in a remarkably long association (at least, that I am aware of…), and I am inordinately proud of it. For those who don’t know, “RGB” is a printing term, and being RGB White would make me the whitest man alive…

- The Klingon-style holiday water annointing of Cully (almost RGB white) Hamner by the unimaginably charming Melinda and the slightly less-bold Sharon Scott, of Ms. America fame (former Miss Mississippi). His rage was legendary, and brought much honor to the esteemed clan of Hamner! Well, perhaps his rage was more Gremlin than Klingon, but we are not of a judgmental temperament.

- The selfsame Melinda proclaimed all us comics artist “Weird and Overly-Intelligent” (personally, I would just have stopped at weird), and Paul ruefully shook his head as all his “normal” guests left and the artists just wouldn’t leave. Why they invite us back, I have no clue.

- Their Corgi (also called “Hello, I will be the tripping dog tonight”) is absolutely the cutest ever. Of course, how can one fail to love a Corgi?

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