Friday, February 03, 2006

No time for love, Lady Croft

Today's Comic Art Friday takes note of yesterday's grand opening of the Hooters Casino Hotel in Las Vegas. The new House of Hooters is really just a revamping of the old San Remo Hotel, which sits just off the Las Vegas strip behind the Tropicana. Tight orange hot pants, spicy chicken wings, and... well... hooters will be on display in abundance.

Speaking of Hooters, let's take a quick peek at the action heroine that video games made famous: Lara Croft, Tomb Raider.

I never got into the Tomb Raider video game -- back when I was actively playing video games, the state of the art was Asteroids and Space Invaders, not buxom babes -- but I did enjoy the two Lara Croft: Tomb Raider movies starring Angelina Jolie, especially the second one, The Cradle of Life. The popularity of both video game and films led Lady Croft to a fairly successful run in comic books, most famously a series from Tow Cow Productions that in its later issues featured covers by Adam Hughes.

My small gallery of Lara Croft pinups is something of an anomaly in my collection, because, just as I never played the video game, I never read any of the comics either. One of the earliest pieces that I acquired when I started collecting comic pinup art was the Lara pencil sketch seen above. It was originally penciled by Dan Jurgens, and later beautifully inked by Joe Rubinstein. Jurgens, a popular artist who turned his hand to scripting, was the primary writer of the Tomb Raider comic series.

I bought this pinup for no better reason than I was captivated by Jurgens's interpretation of the character. In fact, I liked it so much that I ended up acquiring a few other Lara pieces to go along with it. For example, this powerful splash panel by the talented team of penciler Ariel Padilla and inker Ernest Jocson, in which Lara busts a few caps in some werewolves.

You can catch more of Padilla and Jocson's work in the current Maze Agency miniseries from IDW Publishing. Maze Agency, about the adventures of a female private detective and her crime reporter boyfriend, is one of the few "fair play" mystery series in the history of comic books. Each issue presents a self-contained mystery novella written by series creator Mike Barr and illustrated, in this present incarnation, by Padilla and Jocson. If you like mysteries -- even if you're not a comics fan -- Maze Agency is well worth sampling.

Then there's this stylish scenario penciled by Noah Salonga, whose art will be featured in an upcoming issue of Dynamite Entertainment's Red Sonja series. (A series, by the way, that I highly recommend to fans of the sword and sorcery genre. Although Dynamite frustrates me no end by making me choose from among multiple variant covers every issue. Grrrr.)

Frankly, if I were going on a tomb raid, I'd rather spend the day looking at the pistol-packing Lady Croft than, say, Indiana Jones. Your mileage may vary. But then, that's what makes Comic Art Friday.


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