Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Kirby Tale!

A hearty Wahoolazuma! to Bob Heer
for sending along these links
to the piece I mentioned on Jack Kirby Day.

I wrote this piece shorty after he died
and had the privilege of attending his funeral.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Larry Marder @ Chicago Comics on October 1

Oct. 1st
6-8 pm
3244 N. Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60657 USA
We'll be celebrating my my first Beanworld appearance
in Chicago for at least a dozen years.
We'll have books and art and sneak previews of
Remember Here When You Are There!
and all sorts of other leguminous surprises!
More as I know more.
This is gonna be fun.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Happy Jack Kirby's Birthday!

As has been reported extensively all over the blogosphere--today would have been Jack Kirby's 92nd birthday. He's been gone for like 15 years now, so the number of working cartoonists that ever had the good fortune to meet Jack gets smaller as more and more cartoonists arrive on the scene and, alas, more and more leave it.

Although I met Jack a handful of times and was able to ask him about my crackpot theories regarding his work--see "How Jack Kirby Introduced Me To The Hopi Indians Without Meaning To" (or something like that) printed in a Tales of the Beanworld lettercol and in the text pages of Phantom Force #2.
(If some has a scan of PH #2 can you send it along? I'd like to update that essay and print it here. )

Enough of that...needless to say Jack Kirby was a huge influence on me.
I always have some Kirby around to study.

The stuff show above was scanned out of the Image Comics Silver Star hardcover, one of Erik Larsen's labors of love. Silver Star was hardly one of Jack's most famous efforts. It definitely has a few moments where all of Kirby's powers are on display and all his creative energy is bound to a sheet of paper.
I'm pretty sure I didn't read Silver Star when it was originally published in the '80s. A lot of Kirby's later work I definitely glossed over when it was first published. I now find those stories to be quite interesting.
Kirby was always aiming at younger readers and I, like many others, didn't appreciate that.
I wanted Jack's stories to grow up right along with me like so much of Marvel and DC Comics seemed to be doing at the time.

The panels above speak to me in a way I am not capable of articulating very well.
I love the organic designs.
The flatness.
The primal ooziness.
The flailing tentacles.
It's a short hop from some of these elements into a buch of my characters and the so-called Beanworld aesthetic.
These Kirby panels are some peculiar stuff and it seems appropriate to sit back and admire these drawings when I'm taking a momentary breather while pulling long hours.
Long live The King!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The incomparable JJA!

Not every comic book creator is as blessed as I am with attentive, thoughtful fans.

Beanworld gives you a lot to think about and there are many fans that spend a lot of quality time doing just that.




And finally coming up with their personal theories of how and why the Beanworld process ticks. One of those intrepid folks is named Joseph J. Anthony but here at the Beanworld Press we simply know him as JJA.

Every bit of correspondence or conversation I’ve ever had with JJA pretty much starts out the same, with me blurting out: “JJA, you never cease to amaze me. Your observations are always right on the money! "

Charles Brownstein and I have marveled many times how JJA can take a sliver of a teaser from one year and match it up with a seemingly unrelated drawing from another year and pretty much nail something this is going to happen in a Beanworld story.
He’s a regular leguminous Sherlock Holmes!

Last year at SPX he arrived, along with the lovely Laura Nass, wearing these cool iconic homemade Mr. Spook t-shirts seen above.
I was thoroughly blown away.
And then he started asking me questions.
Good questions.
Really good questions.
Questions so good that a few stopped me in my mental tracks.
It’s a very good thing when something like that happens!

Anyway, I got an email from JJA not so long ago with some terrific attachments.
“Beanworld fan art...the first two are from my website at and you may not have seen them. The last two are on my Beanworld fan site and you probably have seen them. If you think that any of them are worthy to be added to the Leguminous Legions, please do so. %?)”

You better believe I think they are worthy.
There are four of them and they are now taking up residence in the "Leguminous Fan Art Gallery" starting here!

A hale and hearty Wahoolazuma! to JJA!

Monday, August 24, 2009


Cory and I had the pleasure of attending the opening festivities for MAD ABOUT SERGIO up at the Ojai Valley Museum.

It is a major retrospective that encompasses Sergio's nearly fifty year career.
The LA TIMES ran a piece that explains it all far better than I can.

I've been a fan of Sergio's since I was in junior high school and his pantomime "Marginal Thinking" drawings started appearing regularly in MAD.

I was a big fan of Groo when it had a home at Pacific and as it passed though Eclipse for an eye blink before it landed at Marvel Comics.

I think I met Sergio for the first time at a Chicago-Comic Con in the summer of '85. I remember going up to him to introduce myself and present him with a copy of Beanworld #1 which may have been the only book I had out at the time. I was flabbergasted to find out that not only did he know who I was but he was pretty fluent in Beanworld-speak. It was one of those golden meeting-a-hero moments one dreams of.

Many years later, after Groo's run at Marvel had come to an end, I helped Sergio and Mark Evanier find a safe haven for the book at Image Comics when I was at the helm of Image Central. Groo was at Image for about a year and Mark always listed me in the credits as "Executive Producer."

It was a good time. The guys found a better home for Groo at Dark Horse and we parted ways. Although I was quite sad to see the book go, Sergio's entrance and exit at Image were very important events . He came in with all of Groo's rights free and clear and he left with all of Groo's rights free and clear. They had full ownership of all their film and inventory. (Ownership of film was a big deal in those days and not all publishers were very nice about it.)

It was a big deal for me because I could rightfully say that Sergio Aragones' Groo successfully passed through Image Comics with its skin intact. No one had attempted to take (or muddy up) any of their rights.

A few years ago, while I was in the toy biz, Sergio had a great idea to produce sports toys. You know, Sergio looks at baseball, boxing, soccer, tennis, you name it. Little 3 inchers that would have come with pantomime comics. I believe they would have had worldwide appeal. But it was pitched during a time where the company I was with was narrowing its focus and it never got off the ground. I wish it had.

One last thing...Sergio has been a tireless supporter of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund over the years. His efforts are greatly appreciated by the CBLDF Board members past, present, and I'm gonna bet of the future!
What a guy!

Anyway...for a bit of a slide show of the pics I took at the opening over the weekend...go here.
If you get anywhere near Ojai while the show is up and running--don't miss it!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Those Mysterious TFAW Cards!

It began as so many things do today--with an email.
It was titled “Upcoming Fundraiser Between CBLDF and Your Help Appreciated.”

As I recall I received two of emails almost simultaneously—one from Brendan Wright at Dark Horse and one from Andrew McIntire at Things From Another World.

The pitch was simple:
Dear Comic Industry Professionals, and The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund would like to invite you to participate in a unique fundraising event for the CBLDF.

For your participation, all we need is few minutes of your time and some original artwork by your creators, which will be auctioned at SDCC '09, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund to support their ongoing mission of preserving First Amendment rights for members of the comics community. and the CBLDF will be printing promotional Autograph Cards to be distributed at SDCC….This Autograph Card will feature a work of art by the creator….Ideally, we would ask that you donate the original artwork provided for each creator's Autograph Card, signed by the creator, to the CBLDF's auction.

So I wrote back and said “You bet I’m in.”
(Even before I became a Board member, I’ve always been good to pitch in some time and energy for the Fund. )

Not so long after I got further instructions that said:


“Hmmmmm.What shall I do?Something that is stand alone but that can be enhanced on-the-spot.

I thought about it and then forgot about it.
Then the reminder came that the piece was due soon.
Really soon.

And out of the blue I got the idea for the empty detail of the Legendary Edge and a slice of the Thin Lake as seen above.

My idea being, well, I’ll just draw beans jumping and falling.
“Yeah, cool, that might work!”

Sent the file to Andrew at TFAW and Brendan at Dark Horse.
Also sent one to Charles Brownstein , who is the Executive Director of CBLDF.
He wrote back an email:
“Totally unsalable. But I absolutely LOVE the signature card you did for the TFAW auction. I think I'm bidding on that. It's really brilliant retinally and conceptually.”

I knew of course, he was right about its saleability.
Typical obtuse Marderism.

In the end, I spiced up the drawing by adding Mr. Spook jumping.
Unfortunately, I forgot to scan it before I donated it.
(Someone out there purchased it in the auction, so whoever you might be, can you send along a scan so I can add it to the gallery?)
What gallery, you ask?
Ooops, I’m getting ahead of myself.
When I arrived at Comic-Con, at some point, TFAW dropped off a big ol’ box of signing cards. I decided to hang onto them until my signing that was going to be at the Dark Horse booth on, um, Saturday , I think.

So when my signing time arrived; I pulled out a stack of the cards and kinda looked at them.
I definitely remember drawing one and writing “First One.”
But I don’t recall what it was.

At first I was having a harder time with the cards than I had anticipated.
The card stock has a feel and texture that was rather unfamiliar and for some reason,
I couldn’t loosen up either my hand or my brain.
I also couldn’t decide what sort of tools to use to draw and sign with.

The signing ended and I went back to Artist’s Alley and kept a pile of the cards handy to doodle on.
Eventually I loosened up and got to jamming.
I drew on a lot of cards and gave most of them away.

But when I got home, I had a bunch of them in the box.

Those drawings, put in order, are a snapshot of how I approached the cards and became familiar with the materials and the composition itself.
Feel free to chime in.
And don’t worry.
I still have a lot of these cards.

At some point, some way, everyone who wants one will have the opportunity to get one.
Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mr. Spook and his Trusty...Pencil?

Mr. Marder,

Here is Mr. Spook made out of clay. He had a trusty fork at one point, but someone picked him up not knowing that the fork wasn't attached, and it fell to the floor and broke. So now he holds a pencil for me instead!

I just wanted to say how happy I am to see Beanworld back in print. I teach elementary school and have always wanted to put my Beanworld books in my classroom but I wasn't willing to risk my old and precious copies. This year, Beanworld will be on the shelf and I can't wait to see my students discover it!


Kristina Parmenter
Kristina...a hearty Hoo-Hoo-HA & a Hoka-Hoka-HEY from Beanworld to you!
Thank you so much for sending this along.
I'm going to add this pic to the growing ranks of fan art in the Leguminous Fan Art Gallery.
Isn't it great that all of our old Beanworld copies can now become beloved antiquities and that we have new hardcover tools to with which to sink roots into new hearts and minds with leguminous awe and wonder?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Treasures from Treasure!

Cory and I love getting emails like this!


Beanish Comic


Venture and Treasure

Mr. Marder,
I'm Treasure. I'm 5. I love your book! That's one of my favorite books. I like to pretend to be beans. My favorite beans are Professor Garbonzo and Beanish.
In part 2 I think the baby beans look cute. I wish I was in Beanworld so I can look at the baby beans. My favorite characters in part 2 are the baby beans. And I also love all the other beans too.
I have some questions. I want to know what the bean with the circle eyes name is? I really want to know what is under Der Stinkle? Those are my questions.
I drew some pictures for you. I drew the Boom'r Band. I drew Proffy and I drew a story of Beanish. I hope you like them I worked very very hard to make them.

From Treasure
(As dictated to her father)

This was followed by:

Mr. Marder,
When I was in High school I I stumbled upon BeanWorld and absolutlely loved it. I read the first 6-7 issued before I moved to Thailand to teach. After 9 years in Thailand I returned to the states with my family. Last month I attended Comic Con and while wandering through Artist Alley I saw you and remembered how much I enjoyed your work. I had been looking for comic books that I could share with my 3 and 5 year old kids and after seeing that you had 2 hard bound collections I felt these would be perfect. I also got about a dozen other child friendly books as well. It seems that my daughter, Treasure (age 5), has simply fallen in love with Beanworld. She insists that we read a new chapter everynight before bed. We've recently finished the first book and and are a quarter of the way throught the next. She also continuously looks ahead and I believe the question she asked about the bean with the circle eyes is in reference to Heyoka (we haven't made it to that part of the story yet). She's continuously acting out parts of the story and her new favorite subjects to draw are Beanworld characters. She wanted me to send you some of her pictures, so I've scanned them and attached them to this email. Thank you for your wonderful story. You've helped me develope a stronger bond with my daughter.
Best regards,
Shayne Olson

I wrote back asking if I could post Treasure's amazing drawings>

Mr. Marder,
I would love to have you post my pictures. That makes me happy because I want to show people how much I love Beanworld. I will draw more drawings of Beanworld and send them to you when I'm done.
(as dictated to her father)

Mr. Marder,
Treasure was very happy to receive a reply from you and even happier that you liked her drawings. I think it would be great to post her drawings as well as her picture. She's now on a quest to teach her little brother Venture to draw beans. The progress is slow but she seems determined and he's used to being her Guinea Pig. Thanks again for your reply you made my girl's day.
Best regards,
Shayne Olson

Thanks Treasure and Shayne.

As my editor, Diana Schutz, commented when I passed your email along to her:

"Too bad we don't have a lettercol. Guess these days that's what yer blog's for..."

It is.

Charles Brownstein of CBLDF said:
"You really should run an irregular reader mail feature on the blog and/or new website"

That we shall.

Send your fan art to me at and I'll showcase it here and then we'll find a permanent place for it.

JUST ADDED: A gallery called LEGUMINOUS FAN ART where Beanworld fan efforts of all varieties will now be showcased!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What exactly WAS this Total Eclipse stuff?

If page 57 of “A Gift Comes!” (seen above) left you scratching your head for a few moments before moving onto the next story elements, well, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.

It’s a recap of a series of events that took place outside of the pages of Tales of the Beanworld in a mini-series called Total Eclipse that kicked off as a cliffhanger ending in Tales of the Beanworld #10.
Beanish appeared in issues #3-5 of the series. I wrote extensively about it in the third volume of the old trade paperback series and you can read a reformatting of the original essay here. You can increase the size of the pages by hitting the little “All Sizes” magnifying glass above. Then you can make it quite large by clicking on "Large" or "Original Size."
In the essay, I make reference to my original intent regarding Tim Truman's Scout making a literal possible pop up cameo. It kinda made sense because the beans had made a previous cameo in Scout #17.
The drawing at the left is from my sketch book at the time. It's dated 2/7/88. That's a long time ago.
As you will read about, this particular idea fell by the wayside.
A point of interest: the line “Don’t come any closer!” was culled from from The Treasure of Sierra Madre and was part of a sound montage frequently played on Steve and Garry, my favorite radio show at the time. (Everyone of a certain age and time in Chicago will know what I’m talking about!)
It was a place holder for actual dialogue to come later.
A hearty "Wahoolazuima!" to Karen for her keen observations. She even made me think about a few things I hadn't considered before.
Hopefully all of these things will add a little sunlight to a very opaque sequence!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Happy 70th Birthday Marvel Comics!

Today is being celebrated as Marvel Comics' 70th anniversary in the publishing business.
Here is the tip of my hat to the comic that started it all--Marvel Comics #1.
If you are interested...the cover recreation was achieved by 1275 slashes of the Photoshop line tool in four weights: 2 pt, 3 pt,10 pt and 20 pt. Colors were sampled from a jpg of the original cover.
It took about an hour.
Happy Birthday House of Ideas!

Friday, August 7, 2009

"? and !" on paper in MDHP v3.

Back from Arizona. Yesterday I drove a UHAUL full of all sorts of old possessions that had been lingering in Phoenix through the beautiful desert home to California.

Spent most of the drive mentally diagnosing the nascent plotline to BEANWORLD 4.
I can't wait to dive in full time.
It's gonna be a good one!

This morning I found that I'd recieved a package from Dark Horse Comics and inside were my artist's comps for MDHP v3.

At first I wasn't quite sure what it even was.
<-----this is the cover of the book.
I thought it was some sort of manga book.

Then Cory looked inside and said "Hey, Beanworld is in here!"

Well, sure enough it is!

Somewhat cleverly camouflaged within its covers is a print version of the Beanworld story "! and ?"

You'd never know the Beanworld story was inside based on the solicitations or the cover copy but it IS in there!

The story itself is actually part one of a two parter.
One of these days, in the proper format, I'll get around to telling the rest of the tale.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Important Announcements!

I finally decided to jump onto Twitter.

You can find me right here!

I'm not sure how clearly I've stated this up 'til now.
I won't be at SPX this year because it conflicts with my 40th high school reunion.
However...I WILL be going east and attending Baltimore Comic-Con October 10 &11.
More details as I know them!