Alexis E. Fajardo talks of ‘Kid Beowulf’ stories

Like many of his own boyhood comic book heroes – Superman and Batman, for example – Alexis E. Fajardo leads two very different lives.

During the day, as a mild-mannered employee at the Charles Schulz Studio in Santa Rosa, he oversees the production of the ever-popular Peanuts comic books. At night, ensconced in his own cave-like work space, he hunkers down and follows his own creative spirit, turning out graphic novels about the Anglo-Saxon epic hero Beowulf, who battles hideous monsters, including his own twin brother.

“These days, I don’t have much time for a social life,” he says, shrugging. “But when inspiration arrives, you’ve got to follow along. It helps that I live across the street from the Schulz Studio so I don’t have to travel far to go from one identity to another.”

Two books in the saga – “Kid Beowulf and the Blood-Bound Oath,” and “Kid Beowulf and the Song of Roland” – have already been published by Bowler Hat Comics in Portland, Ore., and they’ve found a cult following among college students and post-grads too. Now, late at night, Fajardo is at work on the third in his bloody, gutsy series: “Kid Beowulf vs. El Cid.”

Ten more books are up his imaginative sleeve; they’ll take his hero around the world and into the ancient legends of Russia, Persia, India and Japan. Brave, battle-weary Beowulf has never found himself in so many different cultures, and so timely too. Indeed, he’s a sword-wielding hero for today’s text-messaging kids and laptop adults eager for adventure.

‘Kids of all ages’

Bo Johnson, Fajardo’s publisher at Bowler Hat, says that the books “appeal to kids of all ages” and that many dads explain that they wish the Beowulf series had been around when they were young.

“I don’t mean to leave out girls,” Johnson adds. “They identify with the female characters – Gertrude and Yrs in the first book and Bradamont, Belisande and Brammimond in the second. The books are not just boy-centric, which is a feat in itself, given the fact that the old myths are so male.”

A long journey

Fajardo’s own epic journey began in 1976 in New Hampshire, where he was born and raised on comics and cartoons: “Looney Tunes” on Saturday-morning TV, and during the week Pogo, and Calvin and Hobbes in the daily newspaper that was delivered to the front door. In his advance-placement English class in high school, he read “Beowulf,” and it’s fair to say that he hasn’t been the same person since.

“I think I was the only student who actually enjoyed reading ‘Beowulf’ as a poem in the translation by Burton Raffel,” he says. ” ‘Beowulf’ lit my brain on fire.”

As a classics major at Earlham College in Indiana, he read “The Odyssey” and “The Iliad” and was inspired by Homer’s warriors and wanderers.

“Right from the start, I could see how visual those two epics were, and how striking the language was,” he says.

When teachers asked him to translate ancient Greek into modern English, there was no holding him back. Had he been born in another era, he’d probably have gone on to write a doctoral thesis about Homer and then to teach the classics at a college.

“I loved all that Greek stuff,” he says. “I couldn’t get enough of it.”

But the comics hit him so hard there was just no way to resist their call. While he was an undergraduate at Earlham, he created his own weekly strip, Plato’s Republic, that was inspired by Doonesbury and that ran in the college paper, the Word. The four-panel strip featured a platypus named Plato, of course, along with friends both human and animal, and it became an instant classic on campus.

Fajardo didn’t know it at the time, but he had already found his talent for taking something old and turning it into something new. While he has always been enamored of the classics, he has never allowed himself to become a prisoner of them; he can even laugh at the ancient Greeks, including Plato, and at the ancient Anglo-Saxons, along with iconic Beowulf and his evil foe, Grendel.

Daily comic strip


Copyright Comics: The swindling of Siegel and Shuster

I like that they can recognize that downloading copies of an artist’s work is far from a victimless crime while also recognizing that copyright itself has become a tool for corporations to use at the expense of authors, artists, and the general public. A very well rounded assessment of the situation.


Geek Gifts 2010: Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics

When I was watching the Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics DVD, I felt a sense of intense happiness — just thinking about the documentary makes me all misty eyed. What really surprised me is that I expected a propaganda film about how great DC Comics is, but this movie is definitely not propaganda.

The documentary covers the ups and downs of DC Comics; it starts with DC’s origins as a publisher of pulp magazines and goes through the Golden Age of Comics to the present day. You get to hear fascinating stories and interviews with DC Comics writers and artists. (DVD image credit: Amazon.)


  • Number of DVD discs: One
  • Run time: 90 minutes
  • Narrator: Actor Ryan Reynolds
  • Price: $24.98 list ($18.99 on
  • Where to buy:

What I like

  • It’s about comics.
  • It’s about television.
  • It’s about movies.
  • It includes interviews with DC Comics writers and artists.
  • A geek doesn’t need to be a fan of Superman or Batman to enjoy this video, because it also covers the Watchmen, Sandman, and Green Lantern.

What I don’t like

  • I can’t watch it again for the first time.

Geek bottom line

This documentary is an instant geek classic. I think that even a diehard DC Comics fan will be surprised by what they learn while watching this movie. For example, I never realized how much Neil Gaiman resembles Sandman. It’s also interesting to see how much DC has influenced today’s culture overall — just try saying the words “super man” or “dark knight” without picturing Superman or Batman — it’s impossible.

Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics is one gift that will bring a smile to the face of any geek. Below is a two-minute trailer of the film.

Geek gift rating (out of 5)

  • Fun factor: *****
  • Geek factor: *****
  • Value: *****
  • Overall: *****

Want more reviews of tech gadgets and gizmos? Download the PDF of TechRepublic’s Geek Gift Guide 2010.

Get IT tips, news, and reviews delivered directly to your inbox by subscribing to TechRepublic’s free newsletters.

Edmond Woychowsky is a Network Administrator in the Healthcare industry. He is also interested in many geeky things, including science fiction, gaming, and technology. Read his full bio and profile.


November 30, 2010: Superman Comics Shipping This Week

Diamond Comics has released the list of comic books and other items shipping this week. Here are the Superman related items in that list…

Shipping This Week: December 1, 2010.

The following products are expected to ship to comic book specialty stores this week. Note that this list is tentative and subject to change. Please check with your retailer for availability.

Click on the magnifying glass icon () next to a comic’s title to view a sneak peek at the pages within.



  • From:

    Batman Superman dominate in 4 8 Million Heritage Comics Comic Art Auction – News

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    */–> – Dec 02,2010 – DALLAS, TX – Call it the investment of a lifetime, literally: A 7.0 CGC graded copy of Detective #27, the first appearance of “The Batman,” bought off the newsstand for a dime by Sacramento-native Robert Irwin when he was 13 years old, and subsequently put away and forgotten until the early 1990s, made its hobby debut and sold for $492,938 on Nov. 18 to lead Heritage Auctions’ $4.8 Million Vintage Comics Comic Art Auction, becoming the third-highest grossing comic ever sold by the company.

    “It’s absolutely amazing that Mr. Irwin, now in his 80s, would have had the foresight, and the luck, to have stashed this comic away right after he bought it more than 70 years ago,” said Ed Jaster, Senior Vice President at Heritage Auctions. “Added to that miraculous survival is the superb condition it was preserved in over these decades.”

    “I’m only sorry I didn’t buy two of them,” joked Irwin on the auction floor after the sale of the comic.

    A record price was also set for a restored comic book when the famous “court copy” of Action Comics #1, the first Superman comic and arguably one of, if not the most important piece of pop culture of the last 100 years, sold for $143,400.

    “This isn’t only the most ever paid for a restored copy of Action #1,” said Jaster, “it’s the most ever paid for any restored comic book, period. “It bested the previous mark, also set by Heritage, by more than $25,000.”

    The Kerby Confer Collection of original Disney Art continued to post spectacular results for the Maryland radio executive, with the second part of his collection realizing a solid $711,909, as collectors snapped up his rare and highly-sought after original Carl Barks Scrooge McDuck paintings, with his glowing, frenetic 1974 painting A Binful of Fun leading the way at $143,400.

    “The top collectors continue to put a premium on original Barks art,” said Barry Sandoval, Director of Operations of the Comics Division at Heritage, “and on the superb examples that Confer has had in his collection for decades. A Binful of Fun was one of four Barks paintings in this particular auction that sold for more than $100,000.”

    Prices for original Frank Miller art continued to command top prices from collectors, continuing a rising trend over the last several years, as Miller’s original art for Wolverine #3, one of the most beloved issues of the famed X-Men spin-off, featuring a somber, dramatic and penitent Wolvie, brought $47,800.”

    One of the more interesting facets of the auction came in the prices realized for original art for daily comic strips, with the original artwork for Milton Caniff’s first Introducing Terry and the Pirates daily comic strip bringing $38,837 – one of the highest prices Heritage has ever realized for original daily comic strip art – while Charles Schulz’ original Oct. 27, 1961 Peanuts daily strip art, a classic Great Pumpkin entry, brought $32,265, an impressive price for an artist and title that routinely

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    Comics: ‘Superman vs. Muhammad Ali’ still the greatest

    Let’s address this right away: An oversized comic book titled “Superman vs. Muhammad Ali” sounds like the dumbest idea ever. Amazingly, it turned out to be a great idea 32 years ago, and has only improved with time.

    DC Comics published “Superman vs. Muhammad Ali” in 1978 as “All-New Collector’s Edition, Vol. 7, No. C-58” — part of a series of oversized books that measured roughly 10 inches by 13 inches, usually called “Treasuries.” The Ali Treasury was one of the few original ones ever printed by DC, as most were reprints.

    It was the right decision, given the eye-popping art by superstar artist (and co-writer) Neal Adams. Most Treasuries just expanded regular-sized comics, and often looked cheesy. But the format was perfect for Adams’ larger-than-life, photorealism style, which makes you feel like you can walk into the panel. You need no further evidence than the incredibly detailed cover, which boasts 172 real people, from then-President Jimmy Carter to then-“Tonight” show host Johnny Carson to then-DC Publisher Jenette Kahn. (Fortunately, there’s a key.)

    DC says the size made the book too difficult to reprint for years, although it seems more likely that celebrity images in the book held things up until recent changes in copyright law. What matters is that the book is finally back in print, at its original size in a “facsimile” hardback ($39.99) and a “deluxe” hardback at regular comic-book size (with some additional sketches and background, $19.99).

    Of course, the premise still sounds stupid. But it isn’t, honest. The story is about an alien race called the Scrubb that will wipe out Earth unless our champion faces their champion, the superstrong Hun’Ya. Both Superman and Ali volunteer, but since the fight will be under a red sun — where Superman has no superpowers — they fight a preliminary, no-powers boxing match for the right to represent Earth. Naturally, Ali proves the superior boxer, and must face Hun’Ya. Meanwhile, Superman takes on the Scrubb armada.

    OK, no points for guessing who wins. But so what if the story is predictable? The joy is in the art, and in Ali’s one-of-a-kind persona. Sure, some of that is the nostalgia factor for us cranky oldsters, but you dang kids who won’t get off my lawn will love it, too. There’s a reason that Muhammad Ali joins Superman on the Top 10 list of Most Recognized People on Earth, and he doesn’t even enjoy the Man of Steel’s advantage of being fictional (and therefore immortal). Ali was not only one of the biggest celebrities of his generation, not only the most dominating boxer, not only beloved worldwide for his civil-rights work, but also just a lot of fun. He really was “The Greatest,” and so is this book.


    — In the mid-1960s, virtually all comics publishers jumped on the superhero bandwagon, thinking it a fad. That includes Archie Comics, which for a couple of years ran occasional stories starring a superheroic Archie (Pureheart), Jughead (Captain Hero), Betty (Superteen), Reggie (Evilheart), Veronica (Miss Vanity) and Moose (Mighty Moose). A number of these have been collected by IDW in “Archie: Pureheart the Powerful” ($19.99).

    I read most of these stories when they came out the first time, and have remembered them fondly. To my amazement, they still hold up 45 years later. These stories are typically wacky Archie stories of the time, silly fun with subtle commentary on current events. (For example, during a time of rising recreational drug use, Archie learns how to be Pureheart by reading “Happy Hallucinations and How They Happen.”)

    Interestingly, these stories anticipate the “Batman” TV show by a couple years, being camp before camp was cool. And they’re still cool now.

    — The second volume of “Sweet Tooth” has arrived ($12.99), collecting issues 6-11 of the ongoing DC/Vertigo post-apocalyptic series. The story picks up steam here as hints about the lethal global pandemic are revealed, and Sweet Tooth — a human-animal hybrid — may prove to be the key. Also, there’s a lot of background and character development for Jessup, the former hockey player whose conscience died with his wife — but is showing signs of resurrection.

    This story drops hints and moves forward at just the right pace to keep the reader turning pages. I’m still no fan of writer/artist Jeff Lemire’s sketchy art style, but that’s just a matter of taste.

    (Contact Andrew A. Smith of The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal at capncomics(AT) or on his Web site,



    Superman Movies Production

    By the mid-1970s the buzz on Superman had less to do with the comic books than with plans for a motion picture that was being designed as a lavish, big-budget spectacle with top stars and state-of-the-art special effects. Alexander and Ilya Salkind, the father-and-son executive producers who had scored international success with their back-to-back hits The Three Musketeers (1973) and The Four Musketeers (1974), grandly announced that Superman would be one of the most expensive movies ever made. There was much speculation about who would play the Man of Steel (stars mentioned included Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, and Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner), but Superman editor Julie Schwartz was more concerned about the script. He recommended his friend Alfred Bester, a top science fiction writer as well as a comics veteran, but the Salkinds wanted a big name and signed Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather. The Salkinds told Puzo to take Clark Kent off TV and make him a newspaperman after a survey revealed that’s how most adults remembered him.

     Puzo completed his movie script, explaining that he had seen the material as a Greek tragedy. The producers hastily called on Robert Benton and David Newman, who’d written the Superman Broadway musical eleven years earlier. Newman’s wife Leslie was also brought in to punch up Lois Lane’s part. Director Richard Donner took a look at the result, decided it was a tad too frivolous, and brought in “creative consultant” Tom Mankiewicz for last-minute rewrites. Multiple screenwriters are hardly uncommon, but in this case they produced a fairly schizophrenic script, part epic science fiction, part rural nostalgia, part romantic comedy, and part pop parody. The amazing thing is that director Donner managed to hold it all together and evoked most moods effectively.

     Oscar-winning actor Gene Hackman portrayed Lex Luthor broadly, which tended to undercut the rest of the film’s demonstration that comic book material could be played straight. Marlon Brando, the other big name in the cast, was paid a then record-breaking salary of $3.7 million for what was basically a cameo. As Superman’s father, Jor-El, Brando brought dignity and conviction to the key opening segments on a crystalline Krypton designed by John Barry. Reportedly Brando’s participation also helped the producers to raise a budget estimated at $40 million.

     The real casting coup, however, proved to be Christopher Reeve as Superman. Richard Donner cast the young actor with considerable trepidation, and Reeve himself was somewhat reluctant to take the role. The son of a Yale professor, Reeve was a graduate of Cornell who studied at Juilliard; he had performed at the Old Vic in London, at the Comédie Française, and opposite Katharine Hepburn on Broadway. Worried that the role of Superman would not offer “a genuine acting opportunity,” Reeve reasoned “that there must be some difference stylistically between Clark and Superman. Otherwise you just have a pair of glasses standing in for a character, and I don’t think that’s enough for a modern audience.” The challenge for a performer was not only to balance the two characters, but also to project goodness without appearing hopelessly naïve, and in this Reeve was triumphant. He credited the script. “I found I was wrong about this material. I mean, my perceptions were wrong,” said Reeve. Especially in the interplay with Lois Lane (Margot Kidder), Reeve saw something “that I wouldn’t want to miss. I did see it as a chance to play a real character and to reinvent something for the time I was cast in. George Reeves was, I’m sure, the right Superman for the fifties, and Kirk Alyn was the right Superman for the forties, and I think I was the right Superman for the late seventies and eighties.”

     Released in 1978, Superman was a lavish spectacle that ranged from Krypton to the wheat fields of Kansas for nearly an hour before the costumed hero even appeared. By its very size the movie accommodated the fantastic figure of Superman and made him seem plausible. “It had a lot of texture,” said Christopher Reeve, who credited the Salkinds. “What they accomplished by thinking big, and coming in and spending money, was they set the stage for the film to be successful, because it would appeal to adults as well as kids. You could see it more than once and enjoy it. And it did get that repeat business.” In fact, Superman was a huge hit, which was just as well since during its production a number of scenes had already been shot for a sequel.

     Superman II (1980) featured three Kryptonian villains seen briefly at the start of the first film; they pursue Superman to Earth and challenge him to a battle of superpowers. The sensational fight scenes in which Metropolis was torn apart constituted the most important new footage created for the sequel; older footage consisted of scenes shot on the sets of the Daily Planet offices and Luthor’s hideout. Expensive actors like Gene Hackman did most of their filming during the initial production. “Those were pretty much in the bank,” said Reeve. “It was the economics of it.” Although the two films seem to be a whole, the direction of the sequel was credited to Richard Lester rather than Richard Donner. And according to Reeve, Lester directed the effects-laden action sequences that made Superman II the closest cinematic equivalent of a comic book to date. “It was fun for us to think of gags,” said Reeve. “The fact that there was humor in this — in both parts and particularly in part two — was what made it enjoyable for me.”

    Seinfeld and Superman

    [youtube _L1r3H5ZDkU&NR=1 nolink]

    [youtube ofLH2ZzLtvU nolink]

    [youtube VLuPTg8HcMY&NR=1 nolink]

    Superman co-creator’s family given rights

    Siegels now control character’s Krypton origins


    Warner Bros. and DC Comics have lost a little more control over the Man of Steel.

    In an ongoing Federal court battle over Superman, Judge Stephen Larson ruled Wednesday that the family of the superhero’s co-creator, Jerry Siegel, has “successfully recaptured” rights to additional works, including the first two weeks of the daily Superman newspaper comic-strips, as well as portions of early Action Comics and Superman comic-books.

    The ruling is based on the court’s finding that these were not “works-made-for-hire” under the Copyright Act.

    This means the Siegels — repped by Marc Toberoff of Toberoff & Associates — now control depictions of Superman’s origins from the planet Krypton, his parents Jor-El and Lora, Superman as the infant Kal-El, the launching of the infant Superman into space by his parents as Krypton explodes and his landing on Earth in a fiery crash.

    The first Superman story was published in 1938 in Action Comics No. 1. For $130, Jerry Siegel and co-creator Joel Shuster signed a release in favor of DC’s predecessor, Detective Comics, and a 1974 court decision ruled they signed away their copyrights forever.

    In 2008, the same court order ruled on summary judgment that the Siegels had successfully recaptured (as of 1999) Siegel’s copyright in Action Comics No. 1, giving them rights to the Superman character, including his costume, his alter-ego as reporter Clark Kent, the feisty reporter Lois Lane, their jobs at the Daily Planet newspaper working for a gruff editor, and the love triangle among Clark/Superman and Lois.

    While ownership of the Man of Steel is one point of all this legal activity, the real issue is money and how much Warner Bros. and DC owe the Siegels from profits they collected from Superman since 1999, when the heirs’ recapture of Siegel’s copyright became effective.

    DC owns other elements like Superman’s ability to fly, the term kryptonite, the Lex Luthor and Jimmy Olsen characters, Superman’s powers and expanded origins.

    In a statement, Warner Bros. and DC said, “Warner and DC Comics are pleased that the court has affirmed that the vast majority of key elements associated with the Superman character that were developed after Action Comics No. 1 are not part of the copyrights that the plaintiffs have recaptured and therefore remain solely owned by DC Comics.”

    The Shuster estate originally did not participate with the Siegels’ case because Shuster has no spouse or children. But his estate later won a ruling of a recapture identical to the Siegels, which will be effective in 2013. At that point, the Siegels and Shusters will own the entire copyright to Action Comics No. 1. That will give them the chance to set up Superman pics, TV shows and other projects at another studio.

    If they want to get a new “Superman” or even “Justice League” pic featuring the superhero, Warner Bros. and DC will be forced to go into production by 2011.

    Read the full article at: