Friday, October 31, 2008

Scott Neely's SCOOBY-DOO Comic Stories Reviewed By Ray C. Tate!

I thought I'd post some nice reviews I'd had seen on the Internet from comic reader Ray C. Tate. Ray has given me some nice praise for my Scooby work over the years now for work that I've done for DC Comics and so I thought I'd post some that I found on It's rare to get public feedback for a lot of the work I've done so when someone does a review I can get a better idea of how I can fix or improve on another job if there was something I screwed up. I usually only hear from art directors, editors, etc. and not the average Joe...So here are some of the things Ray has said about my stuff. Thanks, Ray!

Below each answer in italics with an asterisk are my comments about the stories I drew.

"Night Marchers" isn't much of a mystery. The culprit will seem obvious as will the rationale behind the haunting crime, but Michael Kraiser gets points for breaking from the formula in the conclusion and conjecturing a novel mask for the gang to pull away. Scott Neely relishes the change in setting as well as the change in dress for the gang. Daphne fans will definitely want this issue.

*A fun story to do and I did get to draw the characters out of their normal clothes and dress them appropriately for being in Hawaii. The one small extra I added was the idol around Shaggy's neck is the same idol that Greg Brady wore in the mutli-part Hawaiian episode of The Brady Bunch! I found a screen grab of it and I drew it into my story, though it was so small in the panels that no one noticed. Darn!

This issue of Scooby-Doo also features a delightful short drawn by Scooby-Doo artist Scott Neely. Neely make use of Shag's and Scoob's shared habit of stealing each other's food in an inventive and tasty gag.

*A good and fun little two-pager. I can draw some great 32-decker killer sandwiches!

Three Scooby Snacks offer an appetizing and filling meal for the Scooby-Doo fan. The first story breaks formula somewhat by pre-empting the inevitable "And I would have gotten away with it if not for you meddling kids and your dumb dog!" The writer has the villain make an escape, as it appears Scooby has been cloned. Believe it or not, even with the clone, the writer maintains the fairplay mystery tradition of Scooby-Doo. His clever solution also creates a situation that allows the fake ghost d'jour to use the formula against Mystery Inc. Scott Neely turns in a palatable action-packed episode with a full range of motion more in synch with What's New, Scooby-Doo? rather than the classic limited animation of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?

*Had problems with the script. It was a longer story and was shrunk down to a smaller page count so there are flaws that weren't fixed. I built a backstory to the mad scientist that the scars on his face were caused by Mystery Inc. at some point in the past. It was a cool idea in case we were going to use him again, but we never did as editor Mike Siglain had moved on to other DC titles at the time. Also we were into the "What's New" look at that time so I kept it on model and as exciting as I could to that modern series.

Former Batman writer Scott Peterson finds a very clever way to make Scoob's and the gang's encounter with a UFO plausible. He takes an inventive swipe at Britney Spears' name while punching out another fairplay mystery. In addition he includes and unusual guest star and features in the story a rare occurrence, Daphne driving the Mystery Machine. Scott Neely offers very streamlined looks for Mystery Inc. that of course still fit with their traditional image. He saves the complexity for the insides of the UFO and expands the scope of the story with a backdrop filled with uniquely illustrated extras.

*I liked the story. A few panels that I wanted to redo, but the alien ship interiors I liked a lot and I went all out on them.

Vito DelSante's "The 13th Floor" gives the gang a bit of history as Freddie visits his detective mentor Adan Stone, currently embroiled in an unusual case of poltergeists. The setting is unusual, but DelSante doesn't provide enough motives for the caster of phantoms. The clues are practically non-existent, and you really can't call this a fairplay mystery or much of a detective story. Where he atones for these deficits is in the kitchen scene, which allows Scooby and Shaggy to provide some genuinely humorous bits, inspired by the show. Scott Neely does some spectacular work in these pages. There's a cute moment when Adam Stone goes down to Scoob's level to pet him and explain the problem. I've always enjoyed the fact that everybody accepts Scooby as a talking dog and nothing out of the ordinary. Neely provides slapstick moments courtesy of Shaggy and Scooby, and a charming Daphne Blake.

*Another story I liked. The action and some of the panel layouts I really loved in the end since these scripts are so darn wordy sometimes an extra word balloon can kill a panel layout. Daphne came out looking really nice in some shots.

In the first wintery Scooby-Snack, Mystery Inc. heads for the slopes to cheer their friend toward Olympic greatness. What they find is a yeti with a yen to sabotage their friend’s desires. Robbie Busch really goes all out for this one. The fairplay mystery works beautifully. He gives the reader numerous suspects. He also amusingly adds an adult subtext that’s definitely European, and therefore fitting to the cast. Busch’s jokes hit the funny bone, and his characterization goes above and beyond the original models. Frankly, this first story is enough to warrant purchase. As a bonus, the second story by Scott Peterson intrigues with a locked room mystery that also plays fair with the reader. Bonus points for Daphne being the one to solve the mystery. Finally, John Rozum provides an informative Japanese oddity for the remaining pages. Dan Davis illustrates Rozum's object lesson and despite the scant length still manages to put plenty of character into Scooby, Shaggy and Velma. The art by Scott Neely and Tim Levins in the main short stories bring the Gang to life, make good comical use of Scooby and Shaggy and offer detailed backdrops for the sleuths to explore.

*One of my favorite stories I drew and it was the last one I drew under Mike Siglain's editorship. I was a little dismayed that it featured yet another snow monster and I had drawn like eight snow monsters in my nine years of drawing Scooby so trying to design a new version of one was hard.

"Aaaar!" Writer Robbie Busch, artist Scott Neely and Heroic Age turn toward a storm cast by Long Gone Slivers in "Kickin' Pirate Booty." The characters have a little more salt to them than usual, and aye, but Daphne bedecked in a purple glittering gown is a fetching addition to any crew. The Gang pieces together the clues and finds their formula for mystery set adrift in favor of a clever twist. "Aaaar!" Finally broaden your mind with John Rozum's two-page treatise on the Kraken. A horrid beastie that one, and rendered accurately by Neely.

* I drew this for Mike Siglain, but it was published under Jeanine Schaefer's turn as editor on Scooby. The one geek moment is that in one panel as Velma holds a picture of Freddy and his friend from when they were kids, I drew Freddy as he looked on "A Pup Named Scooby-Doo!" I hoped Scooby fans would have noticed but no one did or at least never told me they did. Oh well... The second story which was a two-pager with the Kraken was drawn in two-days and was pumped out. I love the layout of the second page with the Kraken destroying the pirate ship. Very cool!

It's the back to school special of Scooby-Doo! Behind an inventive cover, two stories, which could have been repetitive, distinguish themselves with a perfect example of how to vary themes. The lesson learned in How to Draw the M.I. Gang doesn't go as planned, and everything adds up to a yummy Scooby-Snack. Friday Night Frights by Robbie Busch keeps the Gang in good cheer with superb-character based jokes, and an attention to the Gang's camaraderie. The mystery's solution is a no-brainer, and it's still fun to watch Mystery Inc. piece together the puzzle pieces. Scott Neely makes the most of a good monster design, and he buddies Busch's gags with fitting poses some of which he must imagine without the benefit of a model. For instance, the bit where the Gang split up benefits from Daphne's big grin. Not seen on the show but extrapolated for the comic book beautifully. Sholly Fisch has some fun with How to Draw the M.I. Gang. Scooby and Shaggy act as teachers for these art lessons, and all four of their illustrative teachings go horribly awry. Neely tweaks the nose of Wizard magazine. His lessons are just as informative as their recent Learn to Draw books.

*One of my favorite books simply because I got to be in a Hanna-Barbera style cartoon! I remember when editor Jeanine Schaefer gave me the script and told me that when Shaggy and Scooby pull the mask off of the ghost that it was me underneath, so that was quite a thrill! I remember talking to Mike Siglain about it and he wasn't sure or not if they could print my actual name as a character for legal reasons or something. Like they'd have to have Scooby call me "Rott Reely!" Thankfully, they didn't do that and I got my little moment of glory. I still have the four original pages of art that I kept for myself. The first story for the issue was typical Scooby fare, which is ok. I wish I could have tweaked the monster a bit more but I can live with it. Doing a comic story is different than drawing one for an animated movie. You have to pump out a villain and supporting characters as you go since the deadlines are usually pushed too tight. There are moments that I like though in it.

SCOOBY-DOO 124 (Chill Out, Scooby-Doo! DVD Movie Adaptation)
Neely's and Davis' art (Davis inked the first 10 pages) is impressive, even more so when you consider that Scooby-Doo is an all ages title and always considered less important than the titles meant for a so-called sophisticated audience. Neely throughout the panels never veers from the model of Hanna-Barbera, and he generates through natural poses and a few costume changes personality in Mystery Inc. His Scooby and Shaggy provide the wild takes, and his illustration of Cunningham's cryptozoologist perfectly suits the dialogue and imagines how Hanna-Barbera might have brought the character to the pages. A background rich in detail and a genuinely fierce looking “creature” added to the diverse cast make Neely’s art particularly special. I would love to see the illustrations enlarged in an oversized volume. This issue of Scooby-Doo has some gems, but the weight of the captions and the preposterous motive of the monster make the foray into the snow a tough slog.

*My favorite comic I did thus far. It was a whole 20-page story and I threw myself and everything I had into it. I wish I had done the cover too but it was done early for sales. It also came really close to being Scott Neely's version of "Chill Out, Scooby-Doo!" since I got the reference and model sheets just in a nick of time. Thanks to my friends at WB Animation for helping me get it overnight so I would still be on schedule. I was fried toward the end of drawing it since I was also doing other work at the time and I got Dan Davis to ink the first ten pages for me. I inked the last ten since they were my favorite pages and featured more action. It was WAY TOO WORDY though. We did cut a lot out of the script but it was still overdone. But what can you do when you have to adapt an hour and half movie into a 20-page comic?

No mistake. One Bullet. The art in the second story by Scott Neely and Dan Davis in addition to a particularly interesting supporting character are the only good things I can list for this issue of Scooby-Doo.

*My cover art for this issue makes it worth it to buy it! The cover was so good that it was also used as a cover on the free holiday issue of "Comic Shop News"! Scooby has NEVER been on there before so it was great to get more exposure for it!

The first tale by Keith Champagne moves along swimmingly and while the careful reader can deduce the nature of this particular monster, the otherwise perfect story is hamstrung by an additional explanation that's completely unnecessary and contradictory to what's seen in the panels. Those panels by Scott Neely are perfectly laid out and filled with cute extras. El-Chupa differs strongly from the reports given alleged eyewitnesses of the legendary goat-sucker. In Scooby-Doo, he looks like an Aztec werewolf, but given the mystery, the appearance of El-Chupa is immaterial.

*It was to be goat-like but I can see where it came off like a werewolf. It was another of my favorite stories I drew and the opening splash page is awesome! I'm very happy with the end result! A great story with not as much dialogue, though there were a couple of panels that the word balloon placement killed some of the detail in the art...

I'm calling foul on John Rozum and Scott Neely for the Calchona, the subject of their latest bestiary. This monster looks like an escapee from an original series Star Trek episode -- think horned white ape suit, and his behavior emulates Yogi Bear. Nope. Not buying this beast as a bona fide legend, perhaps the delusion of one drunk storyteller that Rozum overheard in a bar one night.

*OK, so they all aren't gold. It does kinda look like a Mugattu from Star Trek! Ha! What was I thinking as I jammed this one out? I drew it fast and the story was lame (it was a filler story done in an emergency) and I remember asking the editor to take the dialogue out so the monster didn't speak. I lost that battle and he does come off like a Yogi Bear character. Oh well...we'll get them next time!

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