Archive for Lubbock’s Comics Connections

Lubbock’s Comics Connections: Star Comics

Not all of the Hub City’s comics ties are linked directly to comics creators — without supportive comics retailers, there probably wouldn’t be any sort of comics scene in Lubbock at all.

Way back in 1977, a guy named Don Mitchell started a used bookstore on 34th Street called Star Bookstore. He had a friend named Joe Gulick who had visited Mile High Comics in Denver, and Joe and his brother Mike discovered that Mile High got new comics much earlier than grocery stores, dime stores, and other places that sold comic books in Lubbock. Realizing that they’d be able to get comics a week or two earlier if Lubbock had a comics shop, they suggested to Don that Star should sell some comic books.


Soon after, in October 1977, Don sold the store to Mike, and the name of the store was changed to Star Books and Comics. Mike sold the store to a long-time customer, Sid Devours, in 1981. Books and RPG sales were phased out around 1992 to make the store all-comics, all the time. Sid died in August 1999 — his nephew Robert Mora took over the business and still runs it today. The name of the store was changed one more time to just plain Star Comics back in 2004.


The store is still located at 2014 34th Street, and they’ll be one of the vendors at the Lubbock Comic Book Expo on May 2 at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center, so you should be sure to stop by and say howdy.

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Lubbock’s Comics Connections: Rob Weiner

We got a lot of local comics creators who are gonna be at the Lubbock Comic Book Expo on May 2, so I’m gonna start running these Comics Connections bits a bit more often. One of the more important comics folks we’ve got around here doesn’t draw or write comics, but he’s still had a huge impact on the comics world here in Lubbock: Rob Weiner.

Rob was a reference librarian at the Mahon Library here in Lubbock for 12 years. He took a position at the Texas Tech Library as Humanities Librarian a year or two back. He also serves as the Liaison for the College of Visual and Performing Arts and Librarian for Film, Art, Sequential Art, Music, Dance, and Theatre.

In case you haven’t noticed, the Mahon Library and the Lubbock Public Library System has one of the best graphic novel collections in the country, and Rob is the guy who made it all possible. He started building the collection 10 years ago and grew it from a few books to over 4,000. He has published numerous articles and given talks and seminars about building graphic novels collections for libraries.


Rob wrote an article in the 2008 issue of Texas Library Journal about the history of and how to catalog Graphic Novels. He is the author of “Marvel Graphic Novels: An Annotated Guide 1965-2005” and “Captain America and the Struggle of the Superhero,” both published by McFarland Press. He also wrote a chapter in “The Gospel According to Superheroes” that focuses on Captain America. Weiner has also written and spoken on the Grateful Dead, Music and Film topics.

Heck, Rob is really blowing up pretty big right now. Texas Tech is spotlighting his new Captain America book, and SciFiPulse has an excellent interview with him (as well as a cartoon of Rob as Cap that is far too funny).


And don’t forget, Rob will be at the Lubbock Comic Book Expo on Saturday, May 2! He’ll be giving a presentation on “The Reality of Spider-Man” at 11 a.m.! Don’t miss out!

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Lubbock’s Comics Connections: Will Terrell

It’s past time for another entry in our semi-regular series on current and former Lubbockites who’ve worked in comics, cartooning, and animation. We’ve already taken a look at Dirk West, Alex Ross, and Jim Smith — and since we’re getting closer and closer to the Lubbock Comic Book Expo on May 2, let’s take a look at someone who’s currently living in Lubbock: Will Terrell.

Terrell is a comic book artist/writer and a teacher living in Lubbock.  He was the founder of the Lubbock Sketch Club and has worked as a professional comic book artist for several years.  His professional credits include colorist on Disney’s “Gargoyles” comic book series from Slave Labor graphics and “The Goblin Chronicles” from Ape Entertainment and Archon Comics.

Will got his start in comic books publishing mini-comics through his small-press company “Lucid Comics” from 1997-2003 and now works primarily as a freelance illustrator and creator. And don’t forget you can check out his website for more of his artwork.

And he’s got a new comic he’s hoping to debut for this year’s Expo! “SuperZeroes” is, as Will describes it, a “romantic-superpowers-adventure-comedy about growing up strange in an average world.” It’s about four high school pals from West Texas who discover that they have strange powers, and how that complicates their lives.

There will be a lot more West Texas and Lubbock artists at the Expo, and a ton of them, like Will, are going to have tables to sell some comics and draw some sketches. You should make plans to stop over at the Lubbock Civic Center on Saturday, May 2, to say hi.

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Lubbock Comics Connections: Jim Smith

Time for another entry in our semi-regular series on current and former Lubbockites who’ve worked in comics, cartooning, and animation. We’ve already taken a look at Dirk West and Alex Ross — time to look at someone from the field of animated cartoons: Jim Smith.

Not a name you’re probably real familiar with, right? Born James Carl Jobb in Lubbock in 1954, Jim Smith is an animator and musician. After working for years on a variety of different cartoons, he worked on Ralph Bakshi’s acclaimed “Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures” with his long-time working partner John Kricfalusi — better known to cartoon fans as John K.

Smith later briefly worked on “Tiny Toon Adventures,” and then along with Kricfalusi, Bob Camp, and Lynne Naylor, he founded an animation studio called Spümcø. He also co-created “Ren & Stimpy” and “The Ripping Friends.” Spumco’s brand of subversive, gross-out humor strongly influenced lots of different cartoons, including “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy,” “Cow and Chicken,” “Drawn Together,” and many, many more.

As I’ve already mentioned, Smith is also a musician. In the “Ren and Stimpy” theme at the beginning of the show, Smith is the guy playing the hot licks on the guitar.

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Lubbock’s Comics Connections: Alex Ross

Time to get back on board this semi-regular series I’m working on about Lubbockites who have worked in comics, cartooning, and animation. Today, we’re going with a guy who we talk about a lot here, because he’s one of the most prominent artists in the comics biz: Alex Ross.

Alex Ross was born in 1970 in Portland, Oregon, but he was raised in Lubbock, where he was drawing pictures from out of TV commercials while he was still just a toddler. While he received art tips from his mother, a commercial artist, he picked up his beliefs on morality from his father, a minister who ran a children’s shelter, among other charitable works.

Ross’s artistic inspirations included comic artists like Berni Wrightson and George Perez, as well as “Saturday Evening Post” illustrator Norman Rockwell, whose photorealistic painting and attention to detail appealed to Ross’ artistic sensibilites.

He attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago, where he began toying with the idea of painting comics. After graduating, Ross worked at an advertising agency and did a little work in comics on the side. His work caught the eye of writer Kurt Busiek, who suggested a collaboration.

The result was 1993’s “Marvels”, which looked at the Golden and Silver Ages of Marvel Comics through the eyes of a photojournalist named Phil Sheldon. Ross’ artwork helped make the miniseries wildly popular — he knew how to draw the human body realistically, with fat and wrinkles and non-cartoonish muscles and facial expressions; he knew light and shadow, and how different light sources would affect the appearance of something you saw; he knew how to draw clothing that wasn’t just painted-on spandex, clothing that actually wrinkled like real clothing. His characters — superheroes and normal folks alike — looked like real people. They looked like they’d stepped out of a photograph or out of a movie. His artwork helped make “Marvels” a powerful piece of storytelling, and readers bought every copy of “Marvels” they could get their hands on. It was a massive, star-making accomplishment.

Ross followed up “Marvels” with the equally-impressive “Kingdom Come” at DC, set 20 years into the future of the DC Universe. The story is told mainly through the eyes of Norman McCay, an elderly minister who is chosen by the Spectre to observe the coming disasters. McCay was also the spitting image of Ross’ father, making “Kingdom Come” a more much personal book than “Marvels” had been. And again, “Kingdom Come” was a triumph for Ross — copies of the series quickly vanished from comics stores as readers clamored both for Ross’ artwork and for visions of what the future held for DC’s characters.

Ross began working on smaller-scale projects, though he still had time to work on comics like “Uncle Sam,” “Earth X,” “Justice,” and the 60th anniversary portfolios of Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel, and Wonder Woman. Ross took care of character designs for Kurt Busiek’s “Astro City” and covers for a huge number of comics. He also painted a series of covers for “TV Guide” and created promotional artwork for the 2002 Academy Awards. He painted album covers for a couple of CDs by heavy metal band Anthrax. And he produced a number of illustrations which were used during the opening credits of the “Spider-Man 2” movie. He’s become one of the best-known and most popular artists in the comics industry.

His artwork is simply spectacularly beautiful, no matter whether you’re a comic fan or not. A lot of people — myself included — think he should be included on the West Texas Walk of Fame. Will he make it there? Only time will tell, though there are probably a few politicians out there who could grease the wheels…

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Lubbock’s Comics Connections: Dirk West

I’d like to start a semi-regular series now about people from Lubbock who work or worked in comics, cartooning, and animation. There are actually a lot more than you’d expect, but let’s start off with someone who just about everyone in Lubbock knows about: Dirk West.

Dirk West was born in Littlefield, in 1930, but his family moved to Lubbock before he’d had his first birthday. He eventually attended Texas Tech, where he drew cartoons for the University Daily. After graduating, he appeared for three years as Uncle Dirk on a local children’s television show, but gave it up when his new advertising agency grew large enough to need all of his attention.

In the early 1960s, West began contributing sports cartoons to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. He drew two cartoons a week during football season, with each cartoon appearing in the sports section of the newspaper.

West’s cartoons were — and to a large degree, still are — wildly popular in Lubbock. He created Raider Red to represent Tech’s Red Raiders. Nearly all the other characters were mascots from other SWC teams. His cartoons were West Texas institutions for decades and were even appreciated by rival schools, even if just because they helped get their players psyched-up to try to beat the Red Raiders.

West entered politics in the 1970s, serving several years on Lubbock’s Parks and Recreation Board and city council and being elected mayor in 1978. By most accounts, he was a good mayor, but he disliked politics so much that he refused to run for a second term. After getting out of the government biz, he returned full-time to cartooning and his advertising agency, which he continued clear up to his death of a sudden heart attack in 1996.

So far, he’s the only cartoonist on the West Texas Walk of Fame.

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Does Alex Ross belong on Lubbock’s Walk of Fame?


I’d been trying to decide for quite a while whether I really wanted to jump out on this particular limb, but I finally decided, what the heck, ya only live once. So I dropped an e-mail to the folks in charge of the West Texas Walk of Fame and suggested they add Alex Ross to their nomination list.

At this point, I guess I should explain a couple things both to local Lubbockites who read this blog and to non-Lubbockites.

For non-Lubbockites, the West Texas Walk of Fame started out in the ’70s as a tribute to Lubbock’s rock-and-roll roots, with Buddy Holly as the first inductee, followed by Waylon Jennings, Mac Davis, and a bunch of other musicians. Over the years, some actors and artists have been added to the list, but Lubbock has produced a lot of musicians over the years, so the vast majority of the inductees have been from the field of music.

Okay, for Lubbockites, especially Lubbockites who aren’t so familiar with comics, Alex Ross is a comic book illustrator and painter. He was born in Oregon, but he grew up here in Lubbock. He’s one of the most sought-after illustrators in comics, because his painting style is amazingly photorealistic, with a strong sense of everything that makes comics into modern mythology. He’s done comics for Marvel, like “Marvels” and “Earth X.” He’s done comics for DC, including “Kingdom Come” and “Justice.” He’s done covers for “Justice Society of America,” “Astro City,” “Project Superpowers,” “Batman,” “Superman,” and many others. He’s even done artwork for album covers, for movies, even for the 2002 Oscars.

Here are a few examples of his artwork.




Nice, am I right?

I’m not going to argue that Ross is a perfect artist — he has some trouble drawing action, a lot of his work looks like it was meticulously posed, and he’s way, way, way too devoted to the Silver Age of comics in the 1950s to ’60s. But I just love looking at his artwork — his characters look like real people, with realistic muscles, fat, wrinkles. His clothing looks like actual clothing, not painted-on spandex. He’s absolutely fantastic when it comes to the use of light.

Obviously, Alex Ross is no Buddy Holly. I doubt he or any other comic artist will ever achieve Buddy’s level of global fame. But he’s done really, really well for himself. He’s probably got the most recognizable artistic style in comics, he’s probably the most famous comic creator to the mainstream public outside of Stan Lee or Jack Kirby, thousands and thousands of comic fans have his books in their bookshelves, and every comics publisher looks forward to getting to publish his artwork, because they know that his work sells.

Alex Ross learned how to draw here in Lubbock. He discovered comics here in Lubbock. I think he’d be a great addition to the West Texas Walk of Fame.

What do you think?

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A Moment for Scholarly Pursuits


Ya know what’s cool about working at a newspaper? You get all these press releases in the mail, and every once in a while, one of them ends up being useful for your comic book blog! For instance, there’s this one that came late last week from the folks at Texas Tech University…

To all those would-be comic book historians whose mothers tossed out their research materials while cleaning out the attic: here’s the resource for you.

“Marvel Graphic Novels and Related Publications: An Annotated Guide,” written by Texas Tech University pop cultural guru Rob Weiner, is an exhaustive 385-page reference work on the universe of Spidey, Iron Man and The Fantastic Four.

Written to appeal to casual fans, committed collectors and scholars of sequential art – a lofty term for comic books – the guide provides detailed descriptions for all of Marvel’s mainstream comics. Bibliographic citations provide information on writers and artists, ISBN numbers and plot synopsis for each publication title.

Weiner, a Texas Tech author, librarian and instructor with expertise on topics ranging from the Grateful Dead to American presidents in film, noted that a growing number of universities are offering courses that examine the social and psychological impact of sequential art.

“Superman, Batman and Spiderman represent a 20th century type of folklore, much like their predecessors: Odysseus, Hercules and Perseus,” he said.

Weiner spent six years compiling the book – a task that required him to read all the works himself. The guide includes anecdotes and listings of scholarly publications on the subject.

Weiner serves as a subject librarian for the Texas Tech Library who specializes in art, sequential art, music and film. He is currently co-editing a book about transgressive exploitation and art cinema and plans the release of another book covering a Marvel staple: Captain America.

“Marvel Graphic Novels and Related Publications: An Annotated Guide,” published by McFarland, may be purchased through

By the way, Rob is one of the most dedicated promoters of comics in the Lubbock area — he worked for about a dozen years as a reference librarian at Lubbock’s Mahon Library and helped build the library’s comics/graphic novels collection from only a few books to over 4,000. That’s gotta be one of the largest municipally-held comics collections in the country, if not the world.

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Local Heroes

Picked up a couple comics featuring work by Lubbock-based creators. Let’s give ’em a once-over, oy?


The Goblin Chronicles #2

This one features coloring work by Lubbock Sketch Club poobah Will Terrell. Our story focuses on youthful fantasy heroes Gorim, Zara, Sprig, and Gween as they try to avoid the Dark Queen’s troops, fulfill a wizard’s quests, and free some slaves. But the more they succeed, the more the Dark Queen will try to capture them all.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Still good fun. You almost feel sorry for the Dark Queen’s soldiers — they really don’t stand a chance the whole time…


The Idea #1

This comic is illustrated by local artist Luis Estrada. It follows a young writer named Johnson Doyle who has paralyzing writer’s block. When he attempts to break the block through meditation, he discovers that he can take a mostly immaterial form and is able to change into anything that anyone else thinks of — specifically, when he overhears a father reading a bedtime story to his son, Johnson ends up becoming the dragon in the story. Can he escape from the angry crowd pursuing him, or is his path to enlightenment going to be cut short?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The story is plenty cool, and the artwork is really interesting and expressive. I think it even gets more expressive when Johnson takes his mostly-featureless “Idea” form, but as we’ve noted before, good cartooning becomes more universal as it becomes simpler and less complex. At any rate, it’s definitely worth picking up.

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New Geek-Friendly Bookstore in Town!


(Not their actual logo, but I couldn’t find a sample online, so I made my own.)

But yes, Lubbockites, there’s a new used bookstore in town called Awesome Books, at 3009A 34th Street here in Lubbock. They had their grand opening today, and I finally got a chance to stop in.

It’s a great place. It’s small — actually, it’s very small — but the selection seems pretty good. No one goes to used bookstores expecting to find everything under the sun anyway — you go because you can find books there that you won’t find anywhere else. And for its size, I think the selection they’ve got is pretty good — a little bit of everything, from kids’ books to Westerns to new age to horror.

But this is definitely a geek-friendly store. They’ve got a small selection of used and collectible comics, and a whole room in the back that they refer to as the Nerdery, devoted to science fiction, fantasy, comics, and roleplaying games.

My brother and I picked up some nice bargains. I snagged an old second-edition D&D Monster Manual for just a buck — the spine was shot to pieces, but man, I’ve wanted that since I was a kid. Plus, I got a Ray Bradbury short story collection that I’ve somehow missed in all my years of collecting Bradbury books, so good on me. Some of it’s amazingly inexpensive, and some of it’s a bit higher, but those are for rare books that you’d drop yer jaw thinking that anyone had them at all.

Go see ’em. They’re good folks, friendly folks, and they deserve your business.

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