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In case you missed it, Sony Pictures has been forced to cancel the theatrical release of The Interview after hackers have released a catastrophic trove of private emails and scripts, and threatened to bomb theaters showing the film—and theater owners began saying they wouldn’t carry it. The film follows a pair of bumbling journalists sent to North Korea to assassinate Kim Jong Un, and apparently, Supreme Leader did not like this plot line.
The repercussions of this Hollywood disaster will be felt for years to come, but one piece of collateral damage was a planned adaptation of Pyongyang, Guy DeLisle’s graphic novel about his two months spent in the North Korean capital working on an animation project. New Regency has pulled the plug on the project which was to have starred Steve Carrell and be directed by Gore Verbinski from a Steve Conrad script. However the log line for the movie bears little resemblance to the book that I read:
Based on the graphic novel by Guy Delisle, “Pyongyang” is a paranoid thriller about a Westerner’s experiences working in North Korea for a year.
Delisle spent two months living in North Korea’s capital, where according to Wikipedia, he struggled with the difficulties of outsourcing and the bureaucracy of the totalitarian closed state. He was authorized to bring Aphex Twin CDs, Gitanes cigarettes, Hennessy cognac and a copy of George Owell’s novel “1984,” but left the country with no expectations to ever return.
I wouldn’t call the book a paranoid thriller, but rather a wry observation on life, as with DeLisle’s other all excellent books, Shenzen
, Burma Chronicle
s and Jerusalem
. Guy is the real deal.
Well, for now you can still just go buy his books and not worry about getting your emails hacked, so show the terrorists haven’t won by getting a copy of Pyongyang!
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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By: Alexander Jones
After revealing the first wave of Free Comic Book Day titles, it was only a matter of time before the rest of them started to pop up. This next batch is very exciting, and full of fun offerings from all your favorite publishers with the big guns like Marvel and DC, along with Valiant, Comix Tribe, IDW, Image, Oni and the mysterious new Legendary Comics imprint that kicked off with Grant Morrison’s Annihilator. DC still has their titles blocked out with the letters ‘TOP SECRET’ sitting on the front page, it’s likely whatever these comics are will be revealed closer towards Convergence. Of course, Marvel is launching Avengers material close to their upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron film. Included in this silver collection of titles is a lot of material from other media, meant to turn you non-comics reading friends completely addicted to this medium. See if Attack on Titan, Avatar, or Sonic can hook your non-reading friends. Free Comic Book Day is on the first Saturday of May. CBR broke the news this morning with covers, and quick description information. All these titles are considered silver comics, with the gold titles being the first wave of books.
- 2000 AD Special–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- And Then Emily Was Gone–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Avengers #1–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Bodie Troll & Friends–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Captain Canuck–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- CBLDF Defend Comics–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Comics Festival–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Dark Horse All Ages Avatar PVZ Bandette–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- DC Comics Silver Book–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- GFT Wonderland Special Edition One Shot (MR)–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Graphix Spotlight Cleopatra In Space–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Gronk and Friends–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Hatter M Love of Wonder–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Hip Hop Family Tree 3-in-1 Featuring Cosplayers (MR)–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Ice Bayou Blackout–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Jojos Bizarre Adventure and Yu Gi Oh–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Jurassic Strike Force 5 One Shot–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Kodansha Comics Sampler–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Lady Justice–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Legendary Comics Sampler–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- March Grand Prix–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Mercury Heat Debut (MR)–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Motorcycle Samurai–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Overstreet Comic Book Marketplace–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Phantom Special–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Rabbids–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Sonic the Hedgehog Mega Man Worlds Unite Prelude–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Stan Lee Chakra The Invincible–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Steampunk Goldilocks–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Street Fighter Super Combo Special–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Stuff of Legend Call to Arms–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Supermutant Magic Academy Step Aside Pops Combo–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Tales of Honor–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Terrible Lizard #1–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- The Tick–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- TMNT Prelude to Vengeance–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Valiant 25TH Anniversary Special–FCBD 2015 EDITION
- Worlds of Aspen–FCBD 2015 EDITION
Long Beach Comic Con 2014: Did Cosplay drive up Attendance and Sales?
by Pamela Auditore
Ticket sales for the Long Beach Comic Con held the weekend of September 27 – 28th, 2014 saw a 25% increase, over last year held November 23 – 24, 2013 event, according to LBCC Executive Director, Martha Donato. Putting attendance somewhere between 31,250 – 37,500. Anecdotal information from exhibitors seems to corroborate this increase in sales of comic books, toys and other merchandise.
“In terms of foot traffic, sales were very good,” according to Jeremy Price, Floor Manager for Comic Madness in Chino, CA. “New books did best.”
As you might expect, among the comic books best sellers, guests were on hand to sign them. At LBCC this year were Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner (Harley Quinn); Mike Mignola (Hellboy); Mike Allred (Madman, Silver Surfer, IZombie); and Richard Starkings (Elephantmen).
“There’s been steady growth each year,” says Brad Sloan of FVF Comics in Woodland Hills. “While I did four figures last year, I did five this year.”
To what does he attribute the increase?
“Cosplay.” Adding, “the popularity of the cross over of Comics from page to Film/TV media helps drives people’s interest in Comics and to Cosplay.”
In the right costume, anyone can be a Hero and an instant media star. Making fellow attendees whip out their phones for pictures to post to the world via: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr.
While some Comic vendors interviewed on the LBCC Exhibit floor did grumble about Cosplayers blocking the view of their tables when striking poses for photos, others said the presence of Cosplayers drove people to their booths who might otherwise overlook them. In fact, the one vendor selling clothes, pictured bellow, incorporates Cosplay into her booth.
But, hey, don’t Cosplayers distract from selling comics? Particularly, Vintage Classic Comics, Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age? Like the one’s Brad Sloan sold at his booth?
“Cosplayers bring more people to the show and they buy related comics. The Super Hero, low grade to the mid-grades Keys were were grabbed up.” (“Keys” are generally a first issue of a comic. But can also be first introduction of an famous character into a given publishing company’s Universe i.e., first appearance of Wolverine in Hulk #181.) Marvel Keys sell. Thanks to the movies!”
After a lengthy hiatus, the creative team behind Image Comics’ EGOs is back in action and ready to serve up more interplanetary crime drama with their upcoming fifth issue. Writer Stuart Moore and artist Gus Storms were kind enough to take some time to chat with the Beat about their series, in addition to humoring some ill-fated Beyoncé puns.
Comics Beat: So let’s start with the basics. Give us the gist of what’s going on in EGOs for new readers.
Stuart Moore: EGOs is basically about a superhero team in the far future, but what’s it’s really about is a marriage between two of the founding members. They’ve been together a long time, and they’ve had a lot of ups and downs, and it’s kind of a show business marriage because they’re both stars in a way. Deuce, the leader, is a former pretty boy who now uses a thing called an “imager” to make his face look younger than it is whenever he’s on camera. Pixel was very young when she joined the team, and she’s become her own brand and has sponsors and products and stuff like that. So they both basically have their own lives. In the course of the first storyline which is collected in the first trade, Quintessence, Deuce decides to re-form the team. Mostly because of a huge threat to galactic peace, but also because he wants to be relevant again and he kind of feels Pixel slipping away from him, and thinks this could be a way to bring them together again.
CB: And what will be going on in the forthcoming issues?
SM: So having set all that up, in this arc we’re setting up a big galactic conspiracy – a sort of invisible threat to the entire galactic economy. And in the course of investigating that, what happens is we meet a lot of new characters, and it becomes a bit of a mystery. Some combination of these characters are behind this gigantic plot, and it’s up to the two EGOs teams on two different planets to unravel and solve this mystery. So what we’re doing with the two main characters, Deuce and Pixel, they were together in the first story, but now they are completely apart. Deuce is involved in the core of the conspiracy on Earth, while Pixel is leading a stealth team on the remote, lawless planet of Tortuga with a subset of the team. So they’re off in two different places. It’s kind of weird because their relationship is still the heart of the story, it runs through every page of the book, but we’re really seeing them do their jobs here, and we’re seeing them do it separately. So it’s this weird mix of superhero and science fiction and in this story, crime drama.
CB: There’s quite a time gap between the release of the last issue and the date for the upcoming fifth issue. What caused the extended break?
SM: Well, I needed time to rethink the thing. Gus isn’t quite a monthly comics artist, he needs more than a month to do a book. And it ended up being a little longer than we planned because the two of us are doing a two part story for DC as part of their Convergence storyline. So that wound up delaying our return a little bit. But it should work out nicely since Convergence will come out during the middle of this EGOs run, so hopefully people will notice the two things together.
CB: Is there anything different about how you’re approaching the making of the book this time around?
SM: The biggest difference for me is that it’s a much longer, more extended storyline. I had to plot it out in great detail. The first part is sort of a teaser, issue six is almost a little self-contained story within the story, and then it’s full-barrel to the end with a lot of twists and turns for the next three issues.
Gus Storms: I had fun with the art – it’s totally more terrestrial. It’s more location based and there’s nothing I love more than drawing location, as in the people in it and world-building. So I didn’t approach it differently, I just think that art-wise it’s more in my bailiwick and my natural inclinations.
SM: I actually had Gus in mind for Tortuga, which is a former prison planet that’s now sort of a lawless trading world. A lot of the long-time inhabitants are missing limbs and have artificial limbs and I thought that was just right for Gus. “Shankers” are a mass produced sort of artificial limb, and they’re a very important element to the story, as in who has them and what they’re used for.
CB: So does a lot of research go into the writing for this, science and space-wise?
SM: Well, I try and make it a little more plausible than a lot of comics! I have sort of a background in science fiction, and my father was a nuclear physicist, so I don’t come from that side of the family at all. I don’t understand any of that stuff, but I like bashing my head against it every once in awhile. So I try to keep current, but at the same time I’ve written stuff much more hardcore sci-fi than this. This is at core a superhero story with a science background, and when you get down to people’s powers… there is only so plausible it gets. In terms of the story-telling approach, I want to work as drama first, and then make it as plausible as possible, rather than the other way around.
GS: And this one is more cyber-punk than space opera. The first one is really sort of a more space opera, and this one is dystopia noir.
SM: That’s interesting, I hadn’t thought about it as cyber-punk, but it probably seems that way because of the noir influence. There’s a pretty hard edge to issue six when you meet some of the suriviors of the Crunch War. One of the new characters, the Commander, fought it in. What that war did to these people, and these planets, is a crucial part in where the story is going. I’m very fond of an old subset of noir that focuses on damaged WWII veterans and the crimes they committed, and it was something people were writing a lot about in the 1950’s and that influenced this story as well, but in a more futuristic context.
CB: So in to your first collected trade, you had an essay on why you took on the mantle of writer/editor and how Gus is also sort of an artist/editor. Are you sticking to those titles this time around?
SM: So what I said, for those who haven’t read it, is that I very purposefully gave myself the title of writer/editor on this book, which I got some criticism for, and I expected. But I did it for a couple of reasons. One was there are projects I do where I need an outside editor, I could absolutely not do without one, and then there’s EGOs where I pretty much know where I’m going. Gus backstops me, he’s absolutely invaluable in story matters, and so does Marie Javins who has been our co-publisher and co-editor all along. But I don’t really need a traditional editor on this book. I’ve been a comics editor myself, I’ve edited a lot of books, so I pretty much know what I’m doing. More than that, it was almost a little tribute to the fact that in the 1970’s and 80’s when I start really reading comics, a lot of people had that title, and a lot of the best comics published were under that title. Howard the Duck, Firestorm, Conan, even things like Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four were done that way for awhile. It fell out of favor partly because most of the major companies don’t work that way anymore, but it’s kind of my way of showing that this can still be a valid way to work on the right project.
GS: We don’t have a lot of continuity stuff to manage, which is a big part of the Big Two editorship. I think [Moore] needs an enforcer, you need someone to hassle the artist more.
CB: So let’s talk about the art. It’s been great seeing it develop across issues and tighten up to where it’s at now. It seems like you draw a lot of inspiration from French comics and the like, so did you have anything in mind when you started creating these designs?
GS: The process of the artist is just trying to shore up your deficiencies. So I’m just trying to occlude my poor drawing as much as possible. As far as inspiration… definitely a lot of the European guys. I like static shots. Not a huge fan of the forced perspective, sort of fish-eye lens type comics bombast you see in American mainstream. Lifetime Moebius devotee, and Darrow and Quitely. I always have trouble with people – with drawing handsome and attractive people. I find them way less interesting than the weird, grotesque side characters. Part of the evolution of EGOs art wise is that EGOs started as my first all-digital thing, working on the Cintiq, and there’s a big learning curve there. The most recent book has a lot of zipitone, and you can just sort of throw it on willy-nilly, so that’s sort of a different look. I like in particular the bar scenes. I would just draw weird back-water bars all day if I could.
SM: When I plotted out the first storyline, Gus wasn’t onboard yet, but I had him much more in mind on this arc.
GS: I found a lot of difficulties in the first one, there was just so much “people floating in space.” I had a hard time making that interesting. And some people can do it so well, like aerial fights. I had to figure out how to do it.
CB: Tell me a little about what it’s like to design such unique characters. Masse, for example, seems like he would have been very difficult to take from concept to execution.
GS: Yeah, that was maybe the most design discussion we had. I had originally wanted to make him more ambulatory – give him sort of malformed arms or something. But I think Stuart guided us in the right direction with that. He was a lot of fun. The other one I really enjoyed was Quark, which is the pink, constantly-shifting, energy dude. And the most high concept design guys come a little later in the story, and they’re an interesting… firm-type thing.
SM: Oh yeah, the Quantum Trust. This story is a little more grounded, as we said, and most of the characters are human or humanoid. But there are some pretty strange looking people coming.
CB: Is there anything you hate drawing that you found yourself having to improve on this series? Maybe something that you’re now good at drawing?
GS: I meannnn, I don’t think I got GOOD at drawing any of the stuff. This is my first job pretty much save for one little comic project I did out of school. And in school, when I was drawing, everyone was just really ugly and monstrous, so I guess I just had to draw allegedly attractive people. You know, Deuce and Pixel are supposed to be good-looking – they’re celebrities. I did have to focus on trying to make people look comely.
SM: I’ll add one other thing – these are not easy scripts. One of the games with EGOs for me was to pack as much into each story as I could without seeming crowded. That was one of the things I really wanted to do. Partly because I think if you’re going to do an original indie comic where people aren’t buying it for Batman, you need to really give people their money’s worth. If people are going to pay three dollars for an issue of this comic, I want them to walk away thinking they really got an experience. And that means there’s a lot of scene-changes, there’s a lot of characters, there’s a lot going on. These scripts are not easy to draw, and Gus has done a beautiful job at every stage.
GS: The best part is design, and it’s just been an option to constantly design little pieces, like Shara’s home world that you see just for a second. That kind of thing is all over the comic, which is a real treat.
CB: Anything else you’d like readers to know about what’s to come?
SM: Well, there are a lot of twists and turns. Not all the characters will necessarily survive… Basically what I had wanted to do with this story is do a large-scale epic where the villain is hidden. The villain is not out in plain sight, you don’t know who it is. And kind of bring some of the ways a good police procedural story work into this and see what happens. Hopefully that’ll work, hopefully people will like it…
I’ll just say one more thing. When it came time to decide whether or not to continue this book, and how long to continue it for, I plotted out the story and I sat down and wrote issue five. I know I’m too close to really know, but I think it’s the best script I’ve ever written for comic books. And then issue six is good, but I think issue seven is even better. So if people have read my stuff this is the one I would recommend, because out of all the comics I’ve written, I’m as happy with this one as anything I’ve ever done.
GS: I second that. I love it. It’s been a lot of fun to work on. It’s a great story, it’s exactly the type of thing that I like to read.
EGOs #5 is due out February 4th from Image Comics. Item Code: DEC140641
I suspect that I’m not alone in thinking any day that brings new work from Dr Bryan Talbot is a very good day indeed. The fourth of his Grandville books, featuring the adventures of Detective Inspector LeBrock (who is, as the name might suggest to the scholarly, a badger) in an anthropomorphic steampunk Paris, is at least as good as the three previous volumes, if not considerably better. Wherever LeBrock goes, mayhem and a high body-count ensues, and this book is no different. We also have a messianic unicorn, evil criminals, and a Lucky Luke look-a-like, called Lucas Chance. Briefly, if you’re not reading Grandville, you’re missing some of the best fun there is to be had between two covers. I’d interviewed Bryan pretty comprehensively before (here & here), so I got in touch to ask him just a few more questions about Grandville, and his future plans for the character.
Pádraig Ó Méalóid: I had been meaning to ask you, before I started reading this one, if there were going to be any further Grandville books after this, but by the end of it you’ve several trailing story threads that I imagine might take a few more books to sort out. What can you tell me?
Bryan Talbot: Although the books are stand-alone stories and can be read individually, you will have noticed that each takes place a month after he previous one, and there has been a story arc gradually building that comes to fruition in volume five. I scripted it over two years ago now, though have been polishing it since. It’s much longer that the other stories, about 160 pages, and will probably be the final one. If I write any more stories set in the world of Grandville, they’ll be drawn in a different style. The fifth, although still containing some of the humour of the other books, is definitely the darkest story and features one of the vilest villains in the history of crime fiction. Characters from earlier volumes have cameo roles and we finally meet the execrable Chief Inspector Stoatson, mentioned in all the books since the second one but never seen. We also discover, for the first time, [Detective Inspector] LeBrock‘s backstory and are introduced to his mentor, the great detective who trained him up. I’m currently drawing Mary*’s 3rd graphic novel, but will start work on the 5th Grandville when I finish that, in summer.
[*That’s Dr Mary M Talbot, Bryan Talbot’s wife, with whom he collaborated on Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, and co-collaborated with on Sally Heathcote: Suffragette, along with Kate Charlesworth, both of which are recommended.]
PÓM: I notice that the human characters – the ‘doughfaces’ in the story – seem to be getting restless, and coming more to the fore, in the 3rd and 4th volumes. Will we be seeing more of them in the last volume, too?
BT: They’ll be reverting to background characters, as in the 1st book. It’s in Grandville Noël where they come centre stage and, by the end, there is some kind of resolution.
PÓM: As I was rereading my way through the Grandville books, I was wondering how many different animals you had included in them. Have you any idea what sort of number you’ve done?
A Stuffed Badger in Dublin’s Natural History Museum
: No idea, but quite a lot! As well as common animals, there are several many people won’t have heard of, such as an aye aye, an echidna and a star-nosed mole. As well as a computer file containing hundreds of animal photographs that I’ve accumulated on line, I’ve visited the natural history museums of Milan, Helsinki and Dublin, all of which have large collections of stuffed animals that I’ve snapped from different angles. It’s always hard to find pics online of exactly the right angle you need. I also have a collection of plastic animal models to draw from.
PÓM: How do the Grandville books do on the European market, particularly in France, where they’re up against work which they’re sometimes drawn from?
BT: I’m very disappointed with the French Publisher of Grandville, Bragelonne. They are primarily a publisher of horror, SF and fantasy prose and I don’t think they really pushed the books. They don’t even have a booth at Angouleme. The books went into profit (I know as I regularly receive royalty payments from them) but obviously they didn’t make as big a profit as they’d like, as they only published the first two volumes. This, despite Grandville Mon Amour winning the prize given by French railway industry, the Prix SNCF, for best graphic novel, voted for by the rail-traveling public and all the many French reviews of both books, which were universally positive. In Spain and Germany, though, they seem to be quite popular, Noël coming out both places next year. I think a Finnish edition of the first book is forthcoming too. It’s also been published in Serbia, Greece, the Czech Republic and Italy.
PÓM: You mention a third book by your wife, Dr Mary Talbot. Can you tell me anything about this, or is it still under wraps?
BT: As it’s only going to be published in 2016, we’re keeping quiet about it at the moment. Primarily because we think someone else might pinch the idea, research the subject, and produce a graphic novel of their own before then! Suffice to say that it’s another historical story about a strong female protagonist, one that most UK readers will never have heard of.
PÓM: There’s a very brief mention of a cataclysmic event that helped shaped how things are in the Grandville world, in the fourth book. This seems to me to throw you into the same general Wold-Newton Universe concept that Philip José Farmer initiated, and which also informs Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books. That, plus the fact that the aircraft that we’re constantly seeing in the air over Paris look very like the ones we see in your Luther Arkwright stories, makes we wonder if there’s a larger ‘Bryan Talbot Universe’ setting behind all your work. Or is this just something I’m over-thinking?
BT: I never actually got around to reading the Farmer books but, yes, the cataclysmic event is basically a reference to Firefrost. In the Arkwright story, where it’s made clear that its arrival on earth sent ripples affecting reality through all the alternative time streams. I did have the intention on doing a story based on it sometime but, as I said earlier, the 5th is now probably going to be the last of the series. The iron flying machines are common to Arkwight and Grandville, though in the former, there is only one type, a military vessel, and only made by one of the countries involved. In Grandville, they are public and private skyships of various designs. Vaguely inspired by Jules Verne and Albert Robida, I use them because every other steampunk story uses airships.
PÓM: Do you have any idea when we can expect to see that fifth and final Grandville volume?
BT: I’m hoping 2017.
PÓM: That’s a long wait! You already mentioned the book with Mary, but is there anything else we need to know about, to fill up the lonely days while we wait – more Luther Arkwright, maybe?
BT: ‘Fraid not. Not many people realise what a long slog it is, producing a graphic novel. These books take a long time, especially in the sort of style I use for Grandville, which takes up to 4 days per page. The fifth volume is going to be 160 pages. That’s nearly two years’ work, more if I’m away a lot. Plus, big publishers like Cape ideally want the finished books up to a year before they publish them, so they sit around for months before being released. One reason for this is so that they meet the scheduled publication dates. Another is so their reps can show the books around to retailers several months in advance to create interest. So it may be an even longer wait than that! I do actually have a folder full of notes for a possible Arkwright story, and have done for several years, but it’s simply not gelled. Perhaps after I finish Grandville.
There is a tower defense game I love to play on the iPad called Kingdom Rush. Not too long ago they released a new version called Kingdom Rush Frontiers which is the most imaginative and adorable version of the game yet. Like all fantasy games, it’s completely tangled up in the vision of JRR Tolkien, with elves, dwarves, rangers and even in this version an ent. Each stage has many extras like little dragons, gnomes, fairies, magic mushrooms and even a game of Simon. It’s adorable and a great way to pass the time.
I found the first Hobbit movie two years ago to be similar to a tub of Cosy Shack rice pudding in that I never got sick of each and every bite, and I just liked watching people named Thorin and Elrond run around. Since then, while I have yet to tire of Cosy Shack, I have tired of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies because they are nothing but a map in Kingdom Rsh blown up to IMAX size and length and noise. Maybe it’s just me being 11 years older than when the Return of the King came out, or Peter Jackson being 11 years older, but The Battle of Five Armies seemed to take as much from Jackson’s fanfic King Kong remake as it did the slim book it was based on. And that is not good.
I’m just going to lay down some thoughts here in no particular order. And yeah MASSIVE MASSIVE MASSIVE
“Where is my Cozy Shack Rice Pudding for elevenses?”
• The opening sequence with Smaug setting fire to Laketown and Bard shooting him down was easily the best sequence in the movie. It also steeled me for disappointment because Bard’s little speech before he uses his last arrow is one of my most favorite parts of the book:
“Arrow! Black arrow! I have saved you to the last. You have never failed me and always I have recovered you. I had you from my father and he from of old. If ever you came from the forges of the true king under the Mountain, go now and speed well!”
Perhaps saying this would have slowed down an intense action sequence, but I really missed it.
• I’ll admit, this movie did stump me as a Tolkien scholar. When, just before the big battle kicks off about 45 minutes from the end, the orcs employ giant sandworms called were worms that recall nothing so much as the lampreys that took up about three hours of the 8 hour King Kong…I thought “THIS GOES TOO FAR!!!!” But lo and behold, while I knew about stone giants, Queen Beruthiel and the Variags of Khand, I happened to miss the one sentence in the VERY FIRST chapter of the Hobbit that mentioned were-worms:
“Tell me what you want done, and I will try it, if I have to walk from here to the East of East and fight the wild Were-worms in the Last Desert.”
That’s what Bilbo says. It’s clearly a reference to a more primitive fairy tale version of Middle Earth that Tolkien explored in The Hobbit. So you get a pass there, Peter Jackson….but JUST BARELY.
• Similarly, Thranduil, king of the Sylan elves of Mirkwood rides an Elk into battle. This struck me as…well it looked awesome. And it seemed sort of Tolkienish. But then Radagast has a bunny sled, Dain rides a boar and in the middle of the BoFA, suddenly out of nowhere some ridable mountain goats appear to enable Thorin, Kili, Fili and Balin to go hopping up a mountain. I understand that the mountain goat steeds were introduced in a longer cut of theemovie—Warner Bros insisted Jackson deliver a brisk 2:20 cut of the film and a LOT of stuff was left out. I think if I’m sitting in a movie theater for two hours and 20 minutes of cgi action I’ll take another 10 minutes to explain where dwarves got mountain goats to ride but then…I don’t run a studio. Anyway, one cute animal steed I could take, but three whole movies of them???
• AND YET THEY COULDN’T SHOW BEORN FOR MORE THAN 10 SECONDS???? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE.
• All that said, Lee Pace as Thranduil astride an elk…OMG. Thranduil was the best thing in the last two movies. He has the only truly funny moment in the whole Battle of Five Armies—I won’t spoil it for you because it is so so precious—and despite being effete and aloof is a total badass in battle.
• Am I the only one who thinks that Thranduil and the only female on screen maybe hooked up after Legolas is sent off to find Strider? Thranduil is a lonely elf who has lost love and now so is Tauriel. The age difference doesn’t matter because ELVES ARE IMMORTAL. If I were Tauriel I would totally go for it.
• Ever since I heard about these films and how the Hobbit was going to be three movies, I was all set up for the scene where the White Council kicks Sauron out of Dol Guldur. Maybe I just built it up in my mind too much because in the movie it seemed like an after thought. Yes we got to see Battle Action Galadriel and Battle Action Saruman and Battle Action Elrond, but…this should have been the ultimate Boss battle and it was…eh.
• ALSO…9 figures of CGI and you couldn’t make it look like Cate Blanchett was not carrying a dummy?
• Battle of Five Armies carries over one of Jackson’s WORST habits from King Kong: The Subplot Character Who Goes Nowhere. In King Kong it was Tintin, I mean Billy Elliott, I mean Jimmy, who has many long conversation with the ship’s captain about responsibility and duty and something, and you think it’s going somewhere and….it was a lot of wasted time. In BoFA that character is Alfrid, the two-faced assistant to the Master of Lake Town. At first Alfrid is just a slimy Wormtongue like character. But when he attaches himself to Bard after the death of Smaug, we see Bard begin to trust him a little, despite Alfrid being completely inept at everything he tries. At the end of the battle, Alfrid absconds in drag with all the gold he can stuff into his bra. REALLY. Was he merely there for comic relief the whole time? Or did he have an actual story arc? Also, he had really weird shoulders, and at first I just thought he idolized Linda Evans in Dynasty and favored shoulder pads. Then I realized that he was supposed to be a hunchback—yes it’s the deformed, slimy weasel thief trope. I think Alfrid was just around to throw in some comedy and keep the dwarves in battle mode, but it was positively Jar Jar esque.
• The actual main action of the film, such as it is, involves Thorin’s falling prey to the gold lust of the dragon, and how it ultimately destroys him and nearly Dale and Erebor and the free peoples as well. I thought Richard Armitage did a fine job of showing the evolution of the character, even if turning evil only meant wearing a black fur coat for a while (he liked Joan Collins in Dynasty?) Once he throws off the coat, he turns back to his regular self. As you do.
• Bilbo’s story arc is mostly from the book, with his giving the Arkenstone to Thranduil and Bard so they can make Thorin keep his part of the bargain and avoid war. When I was a kid and read The Hobbit this whole part of the book annoyed me greatly. WHY WAS EVERYONE BEING SUCH A DICK??? They killed the dragon, can’t they just have a party and be friends? As an adult, this was more satisfying and realistic
• If you had told me that there would someday be a movie version of Mt. Gundabad, I would have been so excited. But then it is thrown in just so Legolas and Tauriel can go off and…spend some quality spying time together. WHY. The actual amount of the book that this movie adapts is only three or four chapters so they had to throw in all kinds of extra action.
• If you read the book, you knew that Thorin, Kili and Fili, the three most loveable dwarves, are all doomed to die. In the book, they just die in the general battle. Because this is a movie and plotlines must be ended they first have to go to Ravenhill where Azog is flying kites and tooting horns. Legolas and Tauriel must get there because they have to warn Thorin that another army of orcs is coming! Seeing as how HE WAS ALREADY SURROUNDED BY AN ARMY OF ORCS. Ravenhill does appear in the books, but a short trip to my bookshelf to retrieve my childhood copy of The Hobbit reveals that IT IS NOT ACTUALLY ON THE MAP IN THE BOOK AS IT IS IN THE MOVIE MAP. Not that it all has to be like the book, but in the LoTR trilogy when they threw in extra stuff my heart soared with joy at seeing things I had only imagined being acted out on a giant screen. In general in the Hobbit the additions are all to make a giant, bloated movie that will make a lot of money. (I did like the call back to the Battle of Azanulbizar in part one.) Ravenhill is one of the worst examples of that. “Say how can we get all the main characters separated from the fray?” “What about that Ravenhill thing?” “Great idea!” Once on this remote locale, Legolas, Tauriel, Azog, Bolg, Thorin, Kili, Bilbo and anyone else who had a story arc run around and have tumultuous fights. This also leads to the ONE truly creepy and memorable shot in the whole film when Thorin and Azog are having it out. I won’t spoil it!
• I did not hate all the Hobbit movies as the above may indicate. The problem is that with the Lord of the Rings films I had years to think it was going to suck and then they turned out to be better than I had ever dared dream. With The Hobbit I had year to think it was going to be great and…it wasn’t.
• That said, when they announce the inevitable three pack of extended editions, I will pre-order it lickety split.
By David Nieves
Last month Marvel announced former WWE Superstar, and upcoming UFC fighter, CM Punk would contribute a ten page story to February’s Thor Annual. Today on Vertigo’s blog, the publisher announced a new book for debut this Spring that will also feature a story written by Punk. Strange Sports Stories #1 is set for March release and will see the former wrestler join a list of talented creators such as Paul Pope, Gilbert Hernandez, Lauren Beukes, Ben McCool, Ivan Brandon, Monica Gallagher, Lee Loughridge, Nick Dragotta, Christopher Mitten, Darick Robertson, Mark Finn, John Lucas, Gabe Soria, Ronald Wimberly, Michael DiMotta, Tim Fish, Rael Lyra, and Brian Azzarello.
Strange Sports Stories shares a name with a six-issue DC Comics series that ran from 1973 to 1974. In 2015, Vertigo will release four chapters of the new series. No word yet on plot details or what issue Punk’s story will be featured in. However the series general theme seems to be, “strange, sexy, scary and extraordinary sports stories.” If any athlete in the last decade has experience with that it’s CM Punk. Only the first piece of art from the book was shown for solicitation today.
With his upcoming multi-fight UFC deal happening in 2015, CM Punk’s writing gigs could prove to be a great way for the comic book industry to get new eyes on the medium. Strange Sports Stories #1 is set to hit stores on March 18, 2015.
By Matthew Jent
If you are a human and alive, you know someone who loved Guardians of the Galaxy this year. Odds are high you have a Guardians fan somewhere on your holiday shopping list, too. Whether they’re long-time comics fans or they’re new to space opera, here’s some gift ideas for cosmic Marvel fans of any level.
Guardians of the Galaxy 3D Blu-Ray + Blu-Ray + Digital copy. The film, just as you saw it in theaters. There’s two discs, but not a lot of bells and whistles — concept art, commentary by director James Gunn, deleted scenes, a blooper reel, and all the other stuff you might look up on YouTube one day but never actually watch on your blu-ray. But still — Chris Pratt!
Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1. A real compact disc of the fake mix tape from the movie Guardians of the Galaxy. All of the songs you might have listened to secretly/ironically before they were featured in the year’s biggest hit movie. If the person you are shopping for can find an operational cd player, they will love this mix. If they live in the actual present, it exists as a digital download.
Guardians of the Galaxy: The Complete Collection, vol. 1 by Abnett, Lanning, & friends, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Avengers by Bendis, McNiven & Pichelli. Oh, hey! Comics! There isn’t really a collection that the movie is based on, but these are the most recognizable to a Guardians fan who knows the team from the movie. The Abnett/Lanning Complete Collection collects issues 1-12 of the 2008 relaunch that introduced the new team to the Marvel Universe, bringing Star-Lord, Rocket Racoon, and Drax to the fold. The Bendis-penned Cosmic Avengers collection was released this summer and collects the Marvel Now! relaunch and also features Iron Man as a member of the team. There’s a relatively large amount of GotG collections out there, but these are two versions that look closest to the team on the movie screen.
Infinity Gauntlet Omnibus. Not a Guardians title, but this is the cosmic Marvel event by which all others are compared. Thanos, infinity gems, Avengers, Drax, Silver Sufer, Jim Starlin, George Perez — this one’s got it all, true believer. The omnibus is the motherlode collection, collecting the complete Infinity Gauntlet 1-6, the prequel series Thanos Quest, a good dozen Silver Surfer tie-in issues, and an assortment of other crossover titles. You can also find more economical collections of the Infinity Gauntlet series itself, as well the not-quite-a-sequel collection, Infinity Gauntlet: The Aftermath.
http://marveltoynews.com/ has a LOT more Marvel toy gift ideas.
Funco POP! Groot or Rocket Racoon. Star-Lord and Gamora and Drax are nice and all, but obviously it’s Groot and Rocket that you’d want to put on your desk at work. There’s an obviously preferable dancing Groot bobblehead available for pre-order, but if you need something under the tree for Christmas morning, all you have to do is decide between tree or raccoon.
Lego Milano Spaceship Rescue. The only thing I like more than building Ikea furniture is building Lego spaceships. Maybe I like the sound and feel of plastic pieces snapping together? Maybe I just like to follow directions? Either way, the blue & gold spaceship design is neat, and there are 5 minifigures in the box, including Gamora. You’ll have to look to other sets for your Lego Groot/Rocket fix, but if you gift only one Lego Guardians set this year — this is the one.
A Doctorate in Galactic Guardians.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Tomorrow’s Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy by Jim Valentino, Vol. 1. Your mileage will vary, but these are the Guardians I remember. Tomorrow’s Avengers includes the team’s earliest 1960s & 70s appearances, back when the Badoon had taken over the Earth. Valentino, Vol. 1 collects issues 1-7 of the 1990s series by Jim Valentino, chronicling the team’s search for Captain America’s lost shield. It has a time travel, a lady with fire-hair, and a peek into the Marvel Universe of a thousand years from now. I can’t really separate the contents of these books from the nostalgia-filter I see them through, but the Valentino series was from the last wave of Marvel books before the great migration to Image. Yondu aside, there’s not much to link them to the movie — but if you’re buying for someone who likes cosmic superhero adventure stories, you can’t go wrong.
Star-Lord: Guardian of the Galaxy and Rocket Racoon and Groot: The Complete Collection. The title of the movie is Guardians of the Galaxy, but the characters onscreen are a consortium of 1970s/80s characters created and fleshed out by folks like Steve Englehart, Bill Mantlo, and Jim Starlin. These volumes collect some of the wonderfully weird space adventures that inspired the characters in the movie. Star-Lord is introduced in a Claremont/Byrne adventure from the 1970s, and Rocket Racoon and Groot collects everything from a Jack Kirby Groot story to Bill Mantlo’s 1980s Rocket Racoon mini to some modern era Annihilators titles.
Warlock: The Complete Collection. This is the business. Thanos is Jim Starlin’s most recognizable cosmic creations, but it’s Adam Warlock — created by Lee & Kirby in the pages of the Fantastic Four – who brings out Starlin’s best work. I can’t say it has the Guardians sense of humor, but this complete collection of 1970s Warlock stories has cosmic grandeur, moral complexity, and a real sense of the weird.
And One More Thing…
Know someone who loved that post-credits tag? Take them from the end of reality t’ the middle of nowhere. Happy Holidays!
A few years ago, a simple request for a t-shirt design to artist Mike Norton grew into an Eisner Award-winning, multi-volume webcomic. Norton publishes a new page of his Battlepug
saga every week, and hardcovers collecting the series are released yearly. To celebrate the release of the third Dark Horse-published volume
, I spoke with Norton about his dog-starring epic.
Did you have a specific plan when you started posting pages for Battlepug?
Yeah, I figured if I was gonna start doing it I should know where I was going. Not having written a whole lot before, that was one thing that I did know, that you should have a beginning, middle and end for your story. I didn’t write it down but I had it in my head so it’s just kind of meandered from point A to point B but I know how it ends and all that stuff.
Did you know it was going to be published by Dark Horse at the time?
No. I didn’t know any of that. I just put it out there because I’d just done the 24-hour Comics Challenge [Note: also about pugs] and I really liked the experience of it. I have a lot of writer friends who make comics for a living and I didn’t want to go through the whole come-up-with-a-story pitch process thing; I just wanted to get it done. I was just super-excited and wanted to do something so I put it online and I think it was less than a month before people started asking me about it. I didn’t have any publishers in mind when I put it out there.
How do you write Battlepug?
It’s Marvel style, sort of. I don’t really write it. I’ve gone back and forth with writing out the plot on paper… an outline! That shows you how much experience I have I struggle with the word outline [laughs]. I have major milestone points written out and every week is kind of a page and a scene, but I also wanted it to be a full beginning-middle-end strip because it only comes out every week. So I started writing those as I was drawing them. It felt more like I was drawing a comic book because with a comic book I know where one left off and the other started so I would write them as I went along knowing where I was going. So I know where it’s going while I write it, so I kind of draw-write it.
I was going to mention they all seem to hold up as pages on their own.
Yeah. A lot of the webcomics out there tell stories in one page. And there are the old time serials where you kind of have to assume the person reading it is never going to read it again, so you wanna sorta give them something to end off.
Does it take longer to write that kind of page than a typical page?
Yeah. I mean, you have to think about that stuff while you’re drawing it. If you’re writing a comic book you already know what’s gonna happen on the next page and you know that person is gonna flip the page after that and you can leave things unsaid. You don’t have that pressure. But I’ve only written a couple things myself for comic books and those I prefer to type out so I know what’s happening from page to page.
This is kind of a technical question, but what are the dimensions of the Battlepug pages?
I couldn’t even tell you off the top of my head! I kind of tried to get the ratio that you would see with the browser open so that you’d be able to see the whole thing. I looked at a couple other comics that were using it and it’s pretty much the same dimensions as I think maybe Cameron Stewart’s Sin Titulo.
I think I read that Scott Allie told you it was the longest comic he’d ever publisher at DH?
Yeah, like physically longest?
They may have made bigger by now. They hadn’t done a horizontal size like that. When I started drawing it I was thinking of something like a French album and luckily they went with that.
It looks great on the bookshelf. You’ve been very adaptable with your drawing style over the years. Would you say Battlepug is your ideal drawing style?
That’s a good question. I don’t know. I think I’d get bored if I just drew… it’s hard to answer that. I mean, Battlepug is the most natural for me. If I were sitting at a restaurant drawing on a piece of paper I would probably draw [in that style]. But I enjoy drawing the way I do with my straight comic work where it’s more representational and more comic book-y. But I do like cartooning. Cartooning is very natural and easy to me and I don’t think of it as work. That might be why I am hesitant to even think that I write Battlepug. It’s kind of just a thing that I do just because it’s very natural. But yeah, I would say that it’s more me than it’s what naturally spills out but I have a lot of fun doing the other things.
Battlepug is on its fourth volume as a webcomic. Do you know how many volumes the series will be in total?
Five, I think, but I’m trying to make everything work out in my head. Now that we’re close to the end of Volume 4, I have to wrap up all the loose ends in 52 pages of story. I’ve never had that kind of problem before and I said I know where everything is heading, but now I have to make everything make sense [laughs]. I mean there have been a couple of times from the past four years that i’ve allowed myself to meander and wander around the story. Now i have to buckle down and start actually paying attention.
Last question: what do you like so much about pugs?
What do I like so much about pugs? [laughs] I like the what do you call it… not the dichotomy… they don’t make sense. They descended from animals that probably hunted and stuff and now they’re just these ridiculous animals that can’t live without us. I just kind of like the absurdity of that. I think that they are ridiculous and lovable and I just like animals in general. That’s kind of why i wanted to do the comic. So I could just draw whatever stupid animal comes into my head. But dogs are a big favorite and I have two of my own pugs and I think they’re just ridiculous animals. They just make me laugh is all.
[Laughs] Well, your love for them definitely shows.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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By: Alexander Jones
Imperium is coming. After getting briefed from Joshua Dysart on mission orders, check out these brand new pages from the fantastical Doug Braithwaite in a press release sent straight from the Valiant Entertainment headquarters in New York City. Imperium is Valiant’s spiritual successor to Harbinger, a title that carried the company into greatness, and also introduced Toyo Harada, one of the most interesting villains in the Valiant world. Toyo is a decrepid old man, with intense psiot powers, enabling him to hide his appearance and true nature. Until, the events of Harbinger changed his path forever. Now, everyone knows the deranged actions of Harada. To combat his loss of power, the dictator is now seeking an army to help him operate in the shadows, enter Imperium, Harada’s band of merry misfits. These aliens, robots, and psiots may not bring holiday cheer.
Imperium #1 ships February 4th, and features covers from Doug Braithwaite, Raul Allen, and Trevor Hairsine with Tom Muller.
In our very own interview with Joshua Dysart, the author had this to say of what’s left of Toyo Harada’s empire before Imperium:
The current situation with the Harbinger foundation that was sort of the secret organization buried within Harada Conglomerates, is that Harada’s conglomerate has dissolved. However, Harada still has thousands of secret accounts located all over the world. These things are actively being tracked down all over the planet. It’s difficult for him to track all of them down, but they exist. The Harbinger Foundation itself is now whatever technologies he has found and pilfered. It’s now predominantly found within the U.S.S. Bush – Harada has stolen one of the largest nuclear aircraft carriers in the United States, and they are also taking the Somalia itself. But that’s all that’s left of Harada’s empire. It’s like if he were a musician, at one time he was in the biggest stadium band in history, but now he’s back to playing garages.
Some rambling thoughts on various aspects of making comics and making money.
I alluded earlier to the sudden announcement that Nonplayer #2 by Nate Simpson was finished and would be presumably be coming out later this year. Simpson has written a much longer piece complete with a FAQ confirming that the issue will be in the May solicitations from Image; he’s contacted Image about reprinting issue #1 but no response yet, and Warners—which had optioned the comic—has let their rights lapse, so it’s there for the taking. And then he gets to why it took 3 1/2 years to draw the comic. It’s a long answer but I’ll lift a graph:
When Nonplayer #1 was released, a few things happened. As I have detailed here in the past, there was quite a bit of distracting hoopla (at least by my standards). Between promoting the book, fulfilling poster and comic orders, Googling myself, hanging out with all my new comics friends, talking to Hollywood big shot types, and trying to answer every comment on DeviantArt in a meaningful way (man, that was cray), the amount of time left in a day turned out to be quite small. So regret #1 is not having made more hay while the sun was out, because I had a finite window of full-time access to the comic, and a lot of that time was spent on things other than drawing.
Then came other things—the declining health of his mother was a particularly severe impediment, followed by a shoulder injury, a soul sucking job, a baby, and the other things that life throws at you in a three year period. In my earlier report I joked that he was “staying up every night until 4 am drawing one precious line a night” but it turns out I was pretty close:
Progress was excruciatingly slow for me. An hour or two every morning, just adding a few more lines, a little bit of color, and then off to work. With time at such a premium, my blogging stopped almost completely. Every once in a while, folks would poke at me or wonder where Nonplayer had gone, and there wasn’t really anything I could show or tell them. I was half-done with the book and was literally getting a face drawn one day, a hand the next day, a telephone the day after that. It was like crossing a desert on all fours with no oasis in sight.
Simpson’s guilt and discomfort over not being able to work on his passion project led to him crossing the street when he walked by his comic shop and other distressed behavior. Luckily, the issue is finished now—twitter tells is it looks good, no surprise given his obvious talent.
I don’t mean to make Simpson feel any worse than he did, or to rain on his issue #2 parade, but perhaps there is no shame in admitting that, perhaps, maybe, possibly, a monthly comic is not for you. Or even a bi-monthly comic. Some artists are slow. Most procrastinate (myself included, though I am hardly an “artist”) and a deadline or a bill is often the surest encouragement to work. But some people just don’t have the ability to generate regular work—and that’s okay. They can be amazing talents and nice people. Discipline is another ability entirely. After all, Rafael Grampa is the total bomb, and I interviewed him in 2009 about Furry Water…and it still hasn’t come out.
And you know, just being the bomb doesn’t pay the bills. Although this is the true golden age of comics, TV and Cadbury Highlights, just being awesome is not enough. This link has been going around about how there are way too many comics being published in France and cartoonists are giving up and doing whatever people do in France to make a living. I was told about the French comics glut when I was there earlier in the year for Angouleme, and there was fretting and lip biting about it, but the subtleties of the situation weren’t able to penetrate my amazement at being in a place with so may glorious comics.
Zainab Akhtar has a longer think piece here spinning out of a recent Lizz Hickey comic (since removed but the internet is an elephant) that was expressing frustration over “give me money” campaigns people have for shoes, plane tickets and other stuff. Obviously this is a sore spot for many people, but crowdfunding for creative endeavors is well established by now. Akhtar shares a fundamental mistrust of asking for money but also pooh poohs the idea that art is a sacred calling and people don’t need to be practical:
At the same time,online funding has been freeing for many artists, allowing them to give up the jobs they had and make art full-time, untethered; I’d guess the majority of artists are making a little bit extra from donations that eases their living costs somewhat, or pays for printing and so forth. To return to Hickey, artists are making art in the first instance- there is no petulant, throwing toys out of the pram exercises -‘I’m going to stop making things if you don’t support me financially!’ but that is a reality that many artists are faced with- at some point making art in the spare time you find around jobs and commitments is simply no longer financially sustainable. How many artists has comics in particular lost to that road? If crowd-funding and donations is a way to temporarily supplant that, then why not? There shouldn’t be any shame in that choice. Wanting to be supported and paid for what you do is perfectly valid, and it’s kind of sad that we still have to justify that. Money isn’t required to make art, or even for validation, but as a tool for food and shelter and time and living, it works just fine.
Obviously, I’m no stranger to crowdfunding. A year ago I had a (incredibly generous) donation campaign that helped pay off a lot of debts involving this website, and I launched a Patreon over the summer. The result has been more than I expected, and has absolutely helped keep this site going. At the same time, it’s more than the money raised by a lot of cartoonists who have more talent in their little finger than I have in my whole limbic system. I find that distressing.
And yet, as a mentioned when I launched my Patreon, I consider it analogous to subscribing to a magazine. If you would pay $4 for a magazine about comics every month, then maybe you can pay $1 a month for a barely passable, typo-riddled website about comics. Crowdfunding is the latest iteration of crowdsourcing in a world where we get everything for free that we used to pay for, entertainment wise. You can spend an hour un tumblr and be showered with more majestic art and comics than you would get in a MONTH before the internet. That access, unfortunately, also devalues the worth of all that majestic creativity, yadda yadda. Responsible people with consciences know, deep down, that it isn’t free, and that if you truly love a work of art, throwing a dollar into a hat is a small way to show your appreciation. And despite what we’d all like to think, that is kinda the way things work now.
All that access is also devaluing work that should be paid for. I’ve been seeing some grumbling on FB about artists being asked to work for nothing on spec or for development, and I’ve heard several recent examples of one of the most alarming business models of all: work for hire for a backend only. Even when there are page rates, unless it’s Marvel or DC, they aren’t what anyone in a metropolitan area could live on, or anyone with anything but an extremely spartan living style in a remote forest cabin. It was suggested that artists don’t dare speak out because they fear not getting work from publishers paying the low rates. As one artist told me “It’s SOP for established publishers who realize artists will keep taking worse and worse deals.” It’s also part of the general decline of artists at the Big Two—a decline which is useful for keeping art rates at “salary cap” levels. But, it’s also undeniable that there is a glut of excellent comics artists and and surpluses drive down prices.
I don’t think that publishers that pay low rates are socking away giant Scrooge McDuck like piles of money—in fact, I know they aren’t. Sales are up but it’s still a low margin business for most sectors.
Image Comics is obviously the biggest beneficiary of the current system—and when I say Image Comics I mean the creators at Image and the readers of Image. Image is a seine net for every other business model; it’s a perfect mix of salt-mine hardened veterans and first flush of inspiration newcomers. And readers seem to like it. But, in order to buy in, you still need to save up enough money for that three or four months of waiting for cash to flow in. And that takes a day job, or some big two work or a working spouse. Or a tiny cabin and a patch of kale to live on.
And with Image we circle around once more to Nate Simpson. Obviously, Image isn’t a good model for him. Neither is crowdfunding, whether Kickstarter or Patreon. there is really no model that supports a Nate Simpson, because his work habits are not geared to a self-starting model. Luckily he is a very talented artist (and a nice guy) and he has other work options. His passion project will remain that—and something that others can enjoy when it comes out. For many creators, comics will never be a full time job—but as an industry we need to make sure that there’s still a business model that makes it possible for those who CAN work full time to be able to get a job that pays a living wage,
Text By: Alexander Jones – Image By: Jeff Stahler
All hell broke loose today as DC Comics quickly tried to sweep a host of cancellations under the rug. The upcoming Convergence event taking place in April and May seems to be pulling some big change in the house of Batman and Superman. The news came from CBR, who announced the solicitations for March 2015. However, it’s hard not to miss some of these books, especially when realizing that some of the titles have been with the publisher since the launch of the New 52 in 2011, including Swamp Thing, Batwoman, Green Lantern: New Guardians and Red Lanterns. It also seems likely that Batman Eternal was planned to end at #52 this week, seeing as how that is now the magic number for DC Comics.
Here are the titles on the chopping block:
- Aquaman and the Others #11
- Green Lantern: New Guardians #40
- Infinity Man and the Forever People #9
- Injustice: Gods Among Us – Year Three #12
- Star-Spangled War Stories Featuring G.I. Zombie #8
Some of these books are downright shocking when considering new these launches are, ongoings like Trinity of Sin, Star-Spangled War Stories Featuring G.I. Zombie, Klarion and Arkam Manner barely got a chance to launch before being outright cancelled. Perhaps DC has something else in store?
Rumors have been flying around the internet, hinting at a possible relaunch for the company in June. With so much of their superhero line in limbo, this now seems like it is a must for DC.
By: Alexander Jones
“Venditti’s cooked up a good one”
In 2015, Valiant Entertainment is gearing up to send Aric of Dacia, the greatest, most butt-kicking 15th century Visigothic that was ever placed out of time in a brand new storyline entitled Dead Hand. The creative team features the usually spectacular talent of Robert Venditti and Diego Bernard, and kicks off after Enter: Armorines concludes. The story begins in March’s X-O Manowar #34 in 2015.
Author Robert Venditti himself chimed in via a press release from Valiant on what he has been brewing for the series:
“DEAD HAND is going to take the mythology surrounding the X-O Manowar armor, and the entire Valiant Universe, in a direction not seen before,” said Venditti “As formidable as the adversaries in the series have been to date, none of them measure up to this single-minded, doomsday threat. X-O Manowar has made a habit of taking what readers expect and turning it on its head. We’ve challenged ourselves to do that again.”
After exploring space for a little, the Visigoth seems to have gone too far into the unknown. He accidentally stumbles across a squad of bloodthirsty robots known as the Dead Hand, whose creators have been proclaimed long dead (pun intended). Aric has activated these robots in the storyline who have been created to combat an unknown enemy.
Valiant’s Editor-in-Chief Warren Simons had the following to say about Aric’s predicament:
“Last summer, X-O Manowar went up against the Armor Hunters for a full-metal throwdown between Earth and alien life. Well, we won the battle, but that doesn’t mean we’ve won the war,” said Simons. “Somewhere out there, something colder, grimmer, and more calculating is about to come online. And it won’t concede that war, even in death. An extinct world has saved a nasty treat for the Valiant U – something insanely effective that could only exist in the wake of their failure – a dead hand. Venditti’s cooked up a good one, folks.”
The first issue hits finer comic book shops in March with covers from both Lewis Larosa, and Jorge Molina. Take a look at the solicitation copy from Valiant:
X-O MANOWAR #34 (NEW ARC! “DEAD HAND” – PART 1)
Written by ROBERT VENDITTI
Art by DIEGO BERNARD
Cover A (Overlay Wrap) by LEWIS LAROSA
Cover B (Wraparound) by JORGE MOLINA
Variant Cover by DAS PASTORAS
Dead Hand Design Variant by JORGE MOLINA
Artist Variant by BUTCH GUICE
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On sale MARCH 4 (FOC – 2/9/15)
by John Jackson Miller
[Reprinted with permission from Comichron.com]
November was no October when it came to comics sales, but it didn’t need to be to improve upon last year’s performance. Based on Comichron’s analysis of data released by Diamond Comic Distributors, comics shops in North America ordered nearly $46 million in printed product during the month, 8% more than last November — and the gains were made by both comic books and graphic novels. Click to see the sales estimates for comics ordered in November 2014.
The graphic novel category improved more during the month, up 14.4% thanks in part to the category leader, Walking Dead Vol. 22: A New Beginning, which debuted with first-month orders of nearly 23,000 copies. Sales of the Top 300 graphic novels for the whole year to date are still lagging 1% behind the same grouping last year — but since Diamond reports that all graphic novels sold are up 6%, that means the growth has all been in the “long tail,” the books outside the Top 300. (And there are a lot of them!)
Amazing Spider-Man #9, one of two issues of the title released in the month, led the comics category with sales of more than 135,000 copies. The Top 300 comics for the month outsold the same grouping for last November by nearly 100,000 copies, so that extra Spidey issue could be considered the margin of difference.
Walking Dead returned to its previous sales level, following last month’s Loot Crate-enhanced sales; this would seem to strengthen the case that the October Loot Crate purchase ofWalking Dead #132 was likely around 256,000 copies. That’s more than Loot Crate appears to have bought of Guardians of the Galaxy #1 earlier in the summer, so it’s likely there’s quite a bit of variance in its orders from set to set. Given how the “crates” can be purchased a la carte as well as by subscription, that would make sense.
The aggregate changes:
TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
November 2014: 6.73 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: +2%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +9%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +5%
Versus 15 years ago this month: unchanged
YEAR TO DATE: 75.9 million copies, -3% vs. 2013, +11% vs. 2009, +12% vs. 2004, +6% vs. 1999
ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
November 2014 versus one year ago this month: +5.84%
YEAR TO DATE: -0.11%
TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
November 2014: $25.12 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +2%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +16%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +35%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +44%
YEAR TO DATE: $287.5 million, +1% vs. 2013, +22% vs. 2009, +48% vs. 2004, +55% vs. 1999
ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
November 2014 versus one year ago this month: +5.47%
YEAR TO DATE: +3.80%
TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
November 2014: $8.8 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +19
Versus 5 years ago this month: -9%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: +45%
Versus 15 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +39%
YEAR TO DATE: $82.31 million, -1% vs. 2013
ALL TRADE PAPERBACK SALES
November 2014 versus one year ago this month: +14.44%
YEAR TO DATE: +6.16%
TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
November 2014: $33.92 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +6%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +11%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: +24%
Versus 15 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +59%
YEAR TO DATE: $369.8 million, +1% vs. 2013
ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK SALES
November 2014 versus one year ago this month: +8.36%
YEAR TO DATE: +4.52%
OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
November 2014: approximately $45.77 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +8%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +31%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +59%
YEAR TO DATE: $496.96 million, +5% vs. 2013
New comic books released: 499
New graphic novels released: 301
New magazines released: 32
All new releases: 832
The average comic book in the Top 300 cost $3.71; the average comic book retailers ordered cost $3.73. The median and most common price for comics offered was $3.99. Click to see comics prices across time.
As mentioned Friday, Comichron projects the comic shop market will complete the year with orders totaling around $542 million, up a little less than 5% over 2013. You can contribute to that total by visiting your local comic shop; find one here.
John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 20 years, including a decade editing the industry’s retail trade magazine; he is the author of several guides to comics, as well as more than a hundred comic books for various franchises. He is the author of several novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Star Wars: A New Dawn, and the upcoming Star Trek: The Next Generation – Takedown. Visit his fiction site at http://www.farawaypress.com. And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter andFacebook.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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Big Two Comics
, Top Comics
, Top News
, Babs Tarr
, Brenden Fletcher
, Cameron Stewart
, Add a tag
This is obviously prefaced with a heaping helping of “what the hell does a straight white male know about these issues?”. The simple truth: I don’t know anything. I likely never will – or at least not in a way that can be internalized. At best, I can gather other people’s feelings and memories and keep them in my brain for reference, paging through as I react and respond, because… well, I might not know anything about this, but I think that reaction and response is important instead of choking the fire of discussion dead through inaction.
So. Batgirl #37.
The new creative team on Batgirl arrived with a certain amount of pomp and circumstance. Briefly bringing my experience as a retailer into the fray, the fervour was created almost entirely by the creative team themselves, and not the company publishing the book. A book lives on finding an audience and marketing to that audience, and while DC did eventually run a house ad steeped in current social media trends, it was the creative team that was actually out on social media sites stirring the fan base and building a culture. At the time, I remember thinking that this was something important – not only in the way the creatives were interacting with the fans, but in the way that the reaction seemed to transform into a small movement of sorts, one that would boost sales of a series through actual interest in tone and content. This week, it seems as though the shine is off that apple with the release of the team’s third issue, Batgirl #37.
In the issue, Barbara Gordon is confronted with another Batgirl, one that is using social media and various forms of “art” to essentially take her branding identity away from her. Over the course of the book, you discover that the person under this fake Batgirl’s mask is in fact Dagger Type, an artist who is identified by characters in the story as male. Babs is taken aback by this and is left defeated as the issue’s villain continues with their nefarious plan to steal her public identity.
As the book crescendos, Dagger Type is portrayed as erratic, firing a gun into a crowd of essentially innocent bystanders. Babs eventually defeats the villain, and discovers that they’ve been doing this at the behest of a mysterious benefactor. The cops take Dagger away, and the book draws to a close. This reading of Batgirl #37 has dredged up accusations of transphobia. As with all art, this is a valid interpretation of fictitious events – a reaction to substance informed by opinion, experience and information. That’s a shame because… well, this book was meant to be something else. As stated before, it was something different than the norm, and marketed to a different and potentially new audience, and this misfire will probably do some damage. The only consolation, I would think, is that despite this valid interpretation of the comic, it isn’t something done with malicious intent, more than it was the unfortunate side-effect of the story’s plot.
Revisiting the plot again, using the same reference material, the plot is also about the nature of art, identity, and belonging. The book opens with the fake Batgirl going on a crime spree. Babs shows up and stops the crime, but not the fake Batgirl, who is said to have been up to these types of heists and behaviours for quite some time, chronicling these events on social media platforms. Babs is upset that she’s being defamed, which is compounded when she goes to a Dagger Type art show that features nothing but pictures of this so-called Batgirl, complete with a rendition of the heroine in a wheelchair, splashed with shadow and a bright red overlay. The presentation effects the characters present in different ways. It strikes Babs as demeaning and regressive. She makes a move to find Dagger Type, and soon discovers that the artist has been the fake Batgirl all along. The plot involves using art and social media to co-opt the Batgirl brand, and add it to the Dagger Type cache. When the reveal happens, everyone in the audience acts dismissive. Dagger waxes poetic about how they should relish in this moment, where they “begin to comprehend that the artist is really the subject. And the subject, his brand!” This elicits the greatest reaction from the crowd, who rejects this notion with lines like “why does everything cool turn out to be an ad?”
The intention – or at least my interpretation of the events as described – is a comment on art and commercialism, as seen through the lens of the modern superhero genre. It’s an ugly balance that comic companies (and retailers… hi!) have been trying to work with for years, taking art and using it for commercial gains. It’s an exploration of the kind of rejection that occurs when false notes are struck, and the commercial ends up bleeding into the art. It’s also about the pretension of craving attention, and the effect popularity can have on art and the artist. There’s a lot to dig into there, but at the core of it all, deep down in the nugget, I truly believe this book is about art, and the reactions to it. It’s typified by the scene where Babs and her friends are walking through the Batgirl gallery, and they all have different reactions to the presentation based off of experience. Babs’ very personal experience with the identity being explored in these photos elicits a very personal and valid response. I can only imagine that’s what many people felt as they read through this issue and experienced a similarly flawed take on identity. The issue essentially agrees with the idea of interpretation being in the eye of the beholder, and never once says that people who enjoyed the art installation in the pages of the book are wrong. It does cast judgement on intent. Dagger Type’s intent was self serving to a cartoonish degree, climaxing in rage when people didn’t understand his genius. I don’t think the creative team is doing that here. I think they wanted to turn in a story that commented on what they did, letting the art speak for itself. It may have said something things they didn’t intend, but they aren’t mad at anyone for it – as the issue implies, any reaction to art is valid.
Now, not long after I wrote this article (but a long while before it’s been posted), Cameron Stewart, Brendan Fletcher and Babs Tarr issued an apology.
I wish Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, Babs Tarr and Maris Wicks all the best as they continue to explore this character and produce art for us to consume. I hope that it continues to challenge us, and causes discussion. I hope that discussion comes from an honest place, and is not confronted with reductive reasoning. I also hope that, like all great artists, they will continue to grow and learn from previous experiences and new information, as even the best intentions can be flawed. The best artists take those noted flaws and learn to grow, instead of digging their heels in. These people are some of the best. Oh, and one more thing:
Photographer/comics writer Seth Kushner has been very ill and battling for his life after he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia in the spring. A failed bone marrow transplant a few months ago left him with very few options but….well, just go read this. That’s all I have to say. And keep thinking good thoughts.
Also, also, he has a GoFundMe which I’m sure is still taking donations.
Kushner’s portraits of cartoonists are ubiquitous—you wouldn’t believe how many headshots of cartoon types you see on the web every day are Kushner’s work. They were part of the Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics book of profiles that came out a few years ago. Kushner is also a comics creator, with his book SCHMUCK.
Kushner and Dean Haspiel recently put up a photo comic called “Heyday'” which you should check out too. But mostly keep thinking good thoughts.
Soon 2014 will be a memory and 2015 will be an itinerary from Travelocity. And WonderCon Anaheim—to be held April 3-5 in Anahaim has announced its first five guests, Neil Adams, Becky Cloonan, Aaron Kuder, Kevin Maguire and Dustin Nguyen. I’m sure many more will be announced, as this has grown to be the SoCal full service co for people who don’t want to go to San Diego.
PS: If I’m not mistaken the photo of Neal Adams above is by Seth Kushner. As I was saying…
BTW for those planning travels, WonderCon is the same weekend as the MoCCA Festival here in New York. Emerald City Comic Con is the week before. Megacon is the week after. Big Wow is the week after, and C2E2 is the final week in April. I got a few of these dates from this list , but only some. Comics Reporter also has a useful but partial event listing.
§ A white, straight man named Grant Morrison said something that wasn’t stupid. I think.
Q: I love that the first issue of “The Multiversity” is full of people of color, from black superheroes and politicians to aboriginal gods and gay geeks. Why did you do this, and does it have anything to do with the super-white superheroes who have made the jump from comics to film and TV?
A: To be honest, it happened quite naturally and wasn’t something I did consciously. A couple of characters were ones I’d created for “Final Crisis” and others were new, but all of them were introduced to play specific roles in the story and it wasn’t until I’d finished writing the first issue that I realized my team of superpowerful, multiversal justice champions didn’t include a single straight white man.
I live in a world defined by a diversity of skin color, sexual orientation and opinion. I think it’s important to reflect the influence of that world in my “art.” An accident of birth has made me what I am — a middle-aged and obviously decaying white dude from the west of Scotland — so I’d never presume to elect myself a spokesperson for any minority or group. I’m not trying to make political points here but I do feel it’s important to reflect a world in the comic books that more closely approximates the world in which I find myself living. And basically, I identify with everyone who ever felt like an outsider.
§ Steve Ditko is alive and still making comics…and Kickstarting them. Long time Ditko collaborator Robin Snyder is the enabler here. hey have two 22 page books in the works, #22 and Tales of the Mysterious Traveler. The latter is making his first appearance in 30 years.
§ Speaking of long waits, the second issue of Nate Simpson’s Nonplayer has been finished! It’s been three and a half years since the first issue appeared from Image Comics. Back in 2011, Nonplayer was a beautifully illustrated comic that fit in squarely with the neo-Mobius movement that was taking place. Now Image is awash with gorgeous books, and it doesn’t stand out quite as much. Simpson spent the last three years on his day job in video games recovering from a bike accident and staying up every night until 4 am drawing one precious line a night.
§ The Comics Reporter offers many picks for books that people enjoyed in 2014.
§ Johanna Draper Carlson only blogs once a week now, but she plays catch up looking at some misdirections in comics marketing:
The problem is that so many readers are looking at exactly the same ordering material as the retailers are. Retailers like it when their customers preorder, since that reduces their uncertainty. But to have them do that, they give them the Previews catalog (or an equivalent). There isn’t a retailer-only information channel, so retailers are often left unaware of why a publisher thinks a particular comic will be a big seller if that turns on a plot event (like a death) that the publisher doesn’t want to reveal early. The publisher can’t tell their actual customer because there’s no way to keep the information from going wide to the public. That’s been an issue so long as the direct market has been around. But that’s not what I want to talk about here. (Long digression, huh?) What I want to point out is three examples of material where the publisher can and should have given retailers information that would definitely affect their ordering patterns, but chose not to.
§ Rob Kirby rounds up the rop 10 mini comics of 2014 but throws in many other picks.
§ And going back to the past, Retailer Joe Field passed along this video from 1988 of an interview with the late Marvel editor Mark Gruenwald from WonderCon of that year.
§ SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS. In a recent Marvel comic it was revealed that the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are no longer related to a character from another studio. Brett White points out that all this synergy is beginning to break down the things we love most about Marvel.
by Zachary Clemente
Original painting by Stephen Gladue.
Kickstarter has been the way for me to find new comic projects and boy am I glad to have come across this project. Moonshot from Alternative History Comics and edited by Hope Nicholson, is a 200 page collection of short stories from Indigenous creators across North America showcasing the rich heritage and identity of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis storytelling. Comics fan have been advocating for unique voices and creators in comics; now is a great time to show your support and back this project!
Here are some of the fantastic creators in Moonshot:
Claude St-Aubin (R.E.B.E.L.S., Green Lantern, Captain Canuck), Jeffery Veregge (G.I. Joe, Judge Dredd), Stephen Gladue (MOONSHOT cover artist), Haiwei Hou (Two Brothers),Nicholas Burns (Arctic Comics, Curse of Chucky, Super Shamou), Scott B. Henderson (Man to Man, Tales from Big Spirit), Jon Proudstar (Tribal Force), George Freeman (Captain Canuck, Aquaman, Batman), Mark Shainblum (Northguard, Corum: The Bull and The Spear),Elizabeth LaPensee (Survivance, The Nature of Snakes, Fala), Buffy Sainte-Marie (Fire & Fleet & Candlelight, Coincidence & Likely Stories), Richard Van Camp (Path of the Warrior, Kiss Me Deadly), Ryan Huna Smith (Tribal Force), David Robertson (The Evolution of Alice, Stone), Steve Sanderson (Darkness Calls, Journey of the Healer), Michael Yahgulanaas (RED), Michael Sheyahshe (Native Americans in Comic Books, Dark Owl), David Cutler (The Northern Guard), and more!
From the Kickstarter page:
Moonshot will be printed as a 200 page, full colour, high quality volume showcasing a wide variety of stories and artistic styles, highlighting the complex identity of indigenous culture from across North America. Most of the original stories created exclusively for this volume are between 5-10 pages, including pinup art and prose passages.
The traditional stories presented in Moonshot are with the permission from the elders in their respective communities, making this a truly genuine, never-before-seen publication!
“Water Spirit” by Haiwei Hou.
Complete with exciting rewards, including beautiful stamps (mail from Canada only) from artist Jeffrey Veregge, prints, and a special hardcover edition, Moonshot is definitely a project to back, even if only to add to the growing part of your bookshelf for Kickstarted comics.
Take a look at MOONSHOT and find out more about Alternative History Comics.
Marvel continued to dominate the top 10 and both units and dollars according to November sales figures released today by Diamond. Sales for the four-Wednesday week were down from five week October, but comics are up for the year overall, with periodical sales statistically flat down .11%. Dolalrs are up, but so are cover prices.
Image continued to have double digit sales and units, and the perennials Waking Dead and Saga were joined by the first collection of Gillen & McKelvie’s The Wicked and the Divine.
Spider-Men from across the multiverse are brought together to defeat the psychic vampire Morlun who hunts them in Marvel Comics’ Amazing Spider-Man #9, the first chapter of Dan Slott and Olivier Coipel’s “Spider-Verse” storyline and November 2014’s best-selling comic book according to information provided by Diamond Comic Distributors, the world’s largest distributor of comics, graphic novels, and pop culture merchandise.
With eight titles in the top ten, Marvel Comics was November’s top publisher, leading in both the dollar share (34.88%) and unit share (37.82%) categories. DC Entertainment had two titles in the top ten, led by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman #36 at #3, and was second in both market share categories with a dollar share of 27.47% and a unit share of 31.64%. Image Comics had a strong November as well, topping ten percent in both dollar share (10.62%) and unit share (11.06%). IDW Publishing was fourth with a 5.65% dollar share, and Dark Horse Comics was fifth with a 4.85% dollar share. Overall, November’s comic book and graphic novel sales were up by 5.47% over 2013 and year-to-date sales are up 4.52% but down by 18.40% from October due to four shipping weeks compared to October’s five.
TOP COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS
|DARK HORSE COMICS
|EAGLEMOSS PUBLICATIONS LTD
|OTHER NON-TOP 10
NEW TITLES SHIPPED
||GRAPHIC NOVELS SHIPPED
|DARK HORSE COMICS
|OTHER NON-TOP 10
COMPARATIVE SALES STATISTICS
|NOVEMBER 2014 VS. OCTOBER 2014
|NOVEMBER 2014 VS. NOVEMBER 2013
|YEAR-TO-DATE 2014 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2013
TOP 10 COMIC BOOKS
||AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #9
||ALL-NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA #1
||AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #10
||SUPERIOR IRON MAN #1
||AVENGERS AND X-MEN: AXIS #4
||AVENGERS AND X-MEN: AXIS #5
||JUSTICE LEAGUE #36
TOP 10 GRAPHIC NOVELS & TRADE PAPERBACKS
||THE WALKING DEAD VOL. 22: A NEW BEGINNING TP (MR)
||TEEN TITANS: EARTH ONE VOLUME 1 HC
||SAGA DELUXE EDITION VOLUME 1 HC
||THE WICKED & THE DIVINE VOL. 1: THE FAUST ACT TP (MR)
||SAGA VOLUME 1 TP (MR)
||SERENITY: LEAVES ON WIND HC
||AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER VOL. 9: RIFT PART 3 TP
||BATMAN ETERNAL VOLUME 1 TP (N52)
||THE WAKE HC (MR)
||DEADPOOL VOLUME 6: ORIGINAL SIN TP
TOP 10 BOOKS
||MINECRAFT: OFFICIAL MOJANG ESSENTIAL HANDBOOK HC
||MINECRAFT: OFFICIAL MOJANG REDSTONE HANDBOOK HC
||DOCTOR WHO: THE OFFICIAL ANNUAL 2015
||LEGEND OF ZELDA: HYRULE HISTORIA HC
||DRAWING BEAUTIFUL WOMEN: THE FRANK CHO|
METHOD SC (MR)
||THE ART OF DRAGON AGE: INQUISITION HC
||THE OVERSTREET GUIDE TO GRADING COMICS SC
||THE ART OF ROBERT E. MCGINNIS HC
||POPULAR SKULLTURE: SKULL MOTIFS HC
||THE WORLD ACCORDING TO THE JOKER HC
TOP 10 TOYS
||BATMAN ANIMATED: THE NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES BATMAN FIGURE
||DC COMICS: GOTHAM CITY GARAGE: CATWOMAN STATUE
||BATMAN ANIMATED: BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES CATWOMAN FIG
||DC COMICS: STARFIRE BISHOUJO STATUE
||VOLTRON 30TH-ANNIVERSARY LION GIFT SET
||THE WALKING DEAD: RICK GRIMES RESIN STATUE
||BATMAN 75TH-ANNIVERSARY ACTION FIGURE 4-PACK SET 1
||THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS: CALL TO ARMS STATUE “YEAR OF THE HORSE EDITION”
||BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM: POISON IVY STATUE
||MARVEL COMICS: AVENGERS NOW: THOR ARTFX+ STATUE
TOP 10 GAMES
||DC HEROCLIX: THE FLASH BOOSTER BRICK
||MONOPOLY: THE WALKING DEAD SURVIVAL EDITION
||DC HEROCLIX: THE FLASH FOIL BOOSTERS
||ADVENTURE TIME CARD WARS PACK 2: BMO VS. LADY RAINICORN
||FIREFLY: YAHTZEE COLLECTORS EDITION
||DC HEROCLIX: THE FLASH: ROGUES FAST FORCES 6-PACK
||MAGIC THE GATHERING TCG: KHANS OF TARKIR BOOSTER PACKS
||GAME OF THRONES PLAYING CARDS
||MARVEL DICE MASTERS: UNCANNY X-MEN
||D&D ICONS OF THE REALMS: TIAMAT PREMIUM FIGURE
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, Adam McGovern
, Ales Kot
, Alexander Rothman
, alison sampson
, andre the giant
, Andrea Tsurumi
, Box Brown
, Comic Arts Brooklyn
, Dark Horse
, Dean Haspiel
, Dominic Regan
, Emma Rios
, fear my dear
, Galen Showman
, greg rucka
, Harvey Kurtzman
, Hwei Lin
, Image Comics
, james romberger
, Jill Thompson
, Jungle Book
, Kevin Nowlan
, Kitchen Sink
, Leeds Comic Art Festival
, Michael Lark
, Neil Gaiman
, p craig russell
, Paolo Leandri
, R. Crumb
, Richard Starkings
, Santi Arcas
, Scott Hampton
, the graveyard book
, Thought Bubble
, Tim Sale
, Add a tag
While we were enjoying Comic Arts Brooklyn this year, my partner Marguerite Van Cook and I took a break from the excitement of promoting our new Fantagraphics Book The Late Child and Other Animals to go across the street to a little coffee bar and have a snack. The young counterperson noted the influx of odd personages hauling portfolios and piles of comics and asked, “is that a convention?”
I replied, “Well, a convention is more like one of those huge things with wrestlers, porn stars and superhero comics, all mixed together with a lot of cosplayers. This is more of a gathering of especially individualistic birds in the alt/lit comics scene. I guess you could call it a ‘murder’ of cartoonists.”
She laughed and asked about the origin of that phrase, which usually describes a flock of crows. But not to further elaborate that conversation, what follows is a review sampling of comics, many of them with poetical aspects, that I got at CAB and other recent releases. Note that I don’t actually try to kill my subjects, but rather to remark on their positive aspects, wherever possible.
Jungle Book by Harvey Kurtzman (Kitchen Sink/Dark Horse, $24.99)
A rare solo effort by the auteuristic creator of E.C.’s two excellent war comics titles Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat, working in the satiric mode he initiated for Mad. Now, I do very much like Kurtzman’s solo work; see Fantagraphics’ recent collection of most of his solo E.C. stories, Corpse on the Imjin (which also contains a smattering of his odd, briefer collaborations, like those with Alex Toth and Joe Kubert). His own drawings have a powerful thrust and direct emotionality that can be lost or greatly altered when filtered through the sensibilities of the artists charged to re-illustrate his layouts. In Jungle Book, which was originally released by Ballantine Books in 1959 as a dingy, downscale paperback, Kurtzman’s targets include a jazz/noir mashup, a TV western and most impressively, in “The Organization Man in the Grey Flannel Executive Suite”, a cutting sendup of the fierce sexism that polluted the offices of his former employer, ex-Marvel Comics owner Martin Goodman. This brilliant strip is nonetheless disparaged as “weak” by famed misogynist and Kurtzman discovery R. Crumb, in the afterthought conversation between the underground artist and Peter Poplaski that cabooses this otherwise beautifully-produced hardcover reprint volume.
Andre the Giant: Life and Legend by Box Brown (First Second, $7.99)
Brown’s biography of wrestling star Andre Roussimoff joins a small group of comics masterpieces that deal with this most theatrical of sports, from Jaime Hernandez’s Whoa Nellie from 2000 to a series of tongue-in-cheek horror collaborations by Mike Mignola and Richard Corben in more recent years, including their 2011 graphic novella House of the Living Dead. Brown’s is a remarkably consistent effort with effective graphic sequences such as the one pictured above and I also admire his restrained handling of the heavily staged fight scenes, as well as his unusual architectural establishing shots. Brown’s stark, spare and precise cartooning create a unique mood, as they contextualize Andre’s success with a tragic acknowledgement of the unrelenting sense of otherness and diminished opportunities for social interaction that he experiences due to his exceedingly unusual scale; as well as his size’s harsh repercussions on his health.
Fear My Dear: A Billy Dogma Experience by Dean Haspiel (Z2 Comics, $19.95)
The pair of poetic graphic stories in Fear, My Dear reflect Dino’s unfettered physicality and passionate persona. Since winning an Emmy award for his TV collaboration with Jonathan Ames, Bored to Death and The Alcoholic, their graphic novel from Vertigo, Haspiel has if anything become bolder and more exuberant. For this nicely produced hardcover from Josh Frankel’s new Z squared imprint, the artist uses a four-panels-per-page grid format and a monochromatic color scheme (red in the first piece, yellow and orange in the second, both with an elegant use of white for emphasis) to further define the relationship between his creator-owned characters Billy Dogma and Jane Legit. Their romance haunts post-apocalyptic urban rubble and breaks through to a star-crossed dreamscape, only to end up where they knew they must: together.
How to Pool and Other Comics by Andrea Tsurumi (self-published, not priced)
Marguerite and I used to bask our way through the East Village dog days at the Pit Street Pool, and more recently as guests of the Miami Book Fair, we whiled away every spare moment by the steamy roof pool at our hotel. So, I can totally relate to the lead piece in Tsurumi’s new minicomic, wherein the artist collects a variety of witty graphic vignettes about group soakings in fluoridated waters, among other delicately drawn ironies and anthropomorphisms.
Inkbrick #1 by Rothman, Sullivan, Kearney, Tunis, et al (Inkbrick, not priced)
This pocket-sized anthology of comics that incorporate, or are adapted from, poetry is made up of remarkable short stories done in a variety of mediums that range from full color to black & white. Immediate standouts for me are Paul K. Tunis’s watery montages for “Avenge Me, Eavesdropper,” Gary Sullivan’s oblique ink rendering of horrific Asian mythologies, “Black Magic”; Simone Kearney’s whimsically etched “Mobilization”; and editor Alexander Rothman’s “Keeping Time” (pictured above), a piece apparently finished in colored pencils that inventively expresses non-visual sensory impressions such as sound, smell and touch.
The Graveyard Book, Volumes 1 and 2 by Neil Gaiman, P. Craig Russell et al (Harper Collins, $19.99 each)
Although The Graveyard Book continues Neil Gaiman’s anti-collaborative self-hype at the expense of his artist partners, I do appreciate P. Craig Russell’s adaptations of Gaiman’s stories into comics form. Russell’s elegant cartooning and storytelling are paced far better than if Gaiman had scripted; it worked beautifully for Murder Mysteries, Coraline and The Dream Hunters. Now, for Gaiman’s morbidly charming tale of a live boy shielded from a cabal of serial killers by the shades of the deceased occupants of a cemetery and raised by them to young adulthood, Russell acts artistically in a way similar to Kurtzman’s E.C. methodology: he adapts the text and does layouts; the finishing artists serve as illustrators. This makes for a surprisingly smooth and consistent read. I particularly admire the polished renderings of Kevin Nowlan (seen above), Scott Hampton, Jill Thompson and the Russell-miming Galen Showman; and although a somewhat discordant note is sounded by the grotesqueries of Tony Harris, the whole is unified by colorist Lovern Kindzierski and illuminator Rick Parker, who hand-lettered the text, for me a visual treat in these days of page-deadening digital fonts.
Lazarus #1-9 by Greg Rucka, Michael Lark and Santi Arcas (Image Comics, $2.99 each)
I drew one of Greg Rucka’s first comics stories (“Guts” in DC/Vertigo’s Flinch #8, 2000), but it seems to me that the writer doesn’t take as much advantage as he might of the properties that are unique to comics—almost everything he does might work just as well if not better as TV shows. In his 2012 collaboration with Matthew Southworth, Stumptown, it is Southworth’s expressive drawing that provides most of the interest and its most effective use of the medium is that the artist rendered Vol 2, #4 with a Toth-esque sideways, widescreen layout. For Lazarus, a story of a female assassin in a dystopian, nearly medieval America run by a select group of powerful families that is absorbing enough and has had some striking moments, but still often has a feeling of deja vu about it, a lot of the heavy lifting is provided by artist Michael Lark’s cinematic near-photorealism, accomplished in collaboration with Santi Arcas’ hi-tech color graphics.
Thought Bubble #4 by Kot & Sampson, Lim & Rios, Starkings & Sale et al (Image Comics, $3.99)
This color tabloid is a showcase for the participants in the UK’s Leeds Comic Art Festival. My favorite piece is a sort of gentle advisory poem that in its course expresses a goal that many sensitive artists hold dear: that of “making things that help other people feel less alone.” It is the work of the writer of Image’s fascinating rotating-artist series Zero, Ales Kot, expressively drawn with upended, widescreen and oblique imagery by Alison Sampson, who just won a British Comic Award for emerging talent; and nicely colored by Jason Wordie. Also notable: a beautiful page by Hwei Lin and Emma Rios; and an Elephantmen strip written by Richard Starkings and elegantly rendered in ink washes by Tim Sale.
Nightworld #s 1-4 by Adam McGovern, Paolo Leandri & Dominic Regan (Image Comics $3.99 each)
A tale of questing, embattled superhero-ish spirits, Nightworld manages to not only convey an approximation of the look of a Jack Kirby comic book, but it also comes closer than anything else I have seen to capturing something of the spirit of that master’s fierce and restless creativity. Artist Leandri hits a spot somewhere between majoring in Kirby, minoring in Steranko and echoing the early work of Barry Smith, back in the day when he was emulating Jack. Leandri’s spreads can look remarkably as if they were actually drawn by Kirby and his character designs and action passages likewise (see example above), without ever feeling as appropriated, or as forced, as those by some other artists who attempt to adhere as closely to the same model. These comics are colored by Regan with an oddly chosen palette that, again, is reminiscent of Kirby’s psychedelic experiments with Dr. Martin’s dyes. Moreover and significantly, writer McGovern’s poetic voice uniquely grasps a sort of post-traumatized and humane melancholy of narrative, the most tragic scenes of which are appropriately followed and leavened in a Shakespearean mode by bursts of frenetic humor, that can be seen in Kirby’s best writing.
Good news! Sam Alden has collected his pixel-comics in a print edition called Lydian! 60 pages of full color goodness!
Bad news: It was only available at Comic Arts LA. Bah humbug. But you can order Haunter from Study Group! It all turned out okay after all.
As a reminder that not everything in comics is doom and gloom—and that we as a country can still laugh, smile and drool, DC has released a list of its March Movie Variant covers, and they include this Justice League cover by Emanuela Lupacchino inspired by Magic Mike, the greatest film of the 21st century.
On that note, it is definitely time to call it a weekend. And the complete list, courtesy of Newsarama — more smiles to come we hope.
- Action Comics #40inspired by Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, with cover art by Joe Quinones
- Aquaman #40 inspired byFree Willy, with cover art by Richard Horie
- Batgirl #40 inspired byPurple Rain, with cover art by Cliff Chiang
- Batman #40 inspired byThe Mask, with cover art by Dave Johnson
- Batman & Robin #40inspired by Harry Potter, with cover art by Tommy Lee Edwards
- Batman/Superman #20inspired by The Fugitive, with cover art by Tony Harris
- Catwoman #40 inspired by Bullitt, with cover art by Dave Johnson
- Detective Comics #40inspired by The Matrix, with cover art by Brian Stelfreeze
- Flash #40 inspired byNorth By Northwest, with cover art by Bill Sienkiewicz
- Harley Quinn #16inspired by Jailhouse Rock, with cover art by Dave Johnson
- Grayson #8 inspired byEnter The Dragon, with cover art by Bill Sienkiewicz
- Green Lantern #40inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey, with cover art by Tony Harris
- Green Lantern Corps #40 inspired by Forbidden Planet, with cover cover art by Tony Harris
- Justice League #40inspired by Magic Mike, with cover art by Emanuela Lupacchino
- Justice League Dark #40inspired by Beetlejuice, with cover art by Joe Quinones
- Justice League United #10 inspired by Mars Attacks, with cover art by Marco D’Alphonso
- Teen Titans #8 inspired by The Lost Boys, with cover art by Alex Garner
- Sinestro #11 inspired byWestworld, with cover art by Dave Johnson
- Supergirl #40 inspired byWizard of Oz, with cover art by Marco D’Alphonso
- Superman #40 inspired bySuper Fly, with cover art by Dave Johnson
- Superman/Wonder Woman #17 inspired cover by Gone With The Wind, with art by Gene Ha
- Wonder Woman #40inspired by 300, with cover art by Bill Sienkiewicz
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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By: Alexander Jones
“He’s definitely the largest robber baron in the history of the human species,”
said author Joshua Dysart of Toyo Harada, the main character in his newest ongoing series Imperium.
Valiant Entertainment could have just published another volume of their fan-favorite Harbinger title which Dysart also wrote and called it a day; but instead the company is striving for something different with their upcoming Imperium title. Toyo Harada, one of the most heinous villains of the Valiant Universe is the star of the upcoming series. Dysart shared some new information on the new project, spilling the secrets on the new Vine soldier joining the team, giving more insight into Toyo Harada’s motivations, and checking on the brand new status quo of Peter Stanchek. Witness how Dysart and artist Doug Braithwaite are taking advantage of Harbinger creators Jim Shooter and David Lapham’s groundwork to spin something wholly original:
Comics Beat: Let’s start with the obvious: why Imperium? After Harbinger was such a rousing creative success, why take this insane risk?
Joshua Dysart: It’s for exactly that reason. I’m not super interested in going right back into the same thing. I feel like we pulled something off with Harbinger completely by accident. The last thing you wanna do is go in and keep meddling with it. Obviously we will eventually get back to that story. It’s just more interesting to do something new and different. The whole point of being a creative person is to not constantly repeat yourself.
CB: Is there a trend coming now with Valiant’s renewed interest in melding brand new characters and additions to the lore that were not present during the initial run of the company?
JD: Absolutely, I think that it’s in their best interest, and I think that’s what I am trying to do in Imperium, which is a book about almost all new characters. That’s a big part of what Valiant is looking to do next.
CB: While Imperium begins, are Peter’s stories going to be pushed to the side?
JD: Yeah, I think what’s happening with the Renegades and what’s happening with Toyo are on two divergent paths for the time being. I mean basically what’s happened here is Peter and his crew won, but in winning they sort of destroyed themselves. In Harada’s losing it sort of entrenched him and reinforced his ideals to himself so we have a situation where the winners have really lost and the loser has ultimately won, which I think says something interesting about the nature of conflict. That’s what I think where we are at. The Renegades are not even capable of fighting Harada, and is that even interesting to that even more. One of them lost their life and the rest of them gave all their efforts to this conflict for so long, and to what end? They just reinforced him and entrenched him. I don’t even know if that’s something they are interested in anymore.
CB: How large is the scope of Imperium? Will Imperium affect the greater Valiant publishing line?
JD: It’s being designed to interact with the larger Valiant Universe in a way that Harbinger wasn’t. You know Harbinger was a sort of insular thing that was about these young people, and I sorta moaned and groaned every time the larger Valiant Universe came crashing into my little bubble. This is a much bigger conflict. This is ultimately a conflict for the world so we would have to imagine the whole Valiant U will come up against Harada and his plans. The whole thing is built to embrace that absolutely.
CB: Now that you are opening up the Valiant Universe more with your upcoming project, is there any correlation between penciller Doug Braithwaite’s art and what you are trying to do to sort of open this book up wider?
JD: I think thematically yeah, absolutely. You know I really love Doug’s work. I love that he can handle density and that he can handle these big moments but then I started talking about the series, but then I wanted him to do work that was really human and very concerned with the minutia of the moment, so Doug automatically became the perfect person for this book. He can go big, but instead he’s going small. He can have an epic moment, based around human drama that will lead to a better comic. I think he’s an incredible asset to the book.
CB: With an interest in HBO shows where we’re exploring a lot of anti-heroes, how do you walk that line between following some people who are sort of making some questionable decisions, but still making it so we can identify with them in the book?
JD: That’s hard to talk about, because it’s the kind of thing you do when you’re writing. It’s just really important to make sure they feel complicated and human. Once a person feels as complicated as you can make them as a character, then that person can actually become really interesting. Apart from that there’s no real secret trick or anything you just try to humanize them as much as possible.
CB: After reading Robert Venditti’s work with X-O Manowar, I saw that the Vine was painted as these dehumanized killers that entrapped Aric’s group of Visigoth. Whereas during the Planet Death Arc, we see a different side of the Vine. With the new Vine character integrated into the Imperium team are you going to explore that side that Robert opened up in Planet Death?
JD: Yeah absolutely, I think the complexity of the Vine is going to be revealed eventually, maybe not in the first arc, but eventually. Lord Vine 99 is less of a product of conscious free-will vine, and more of a clone that the Vine has created. He doesn’t represent exactly the Vine mindset. I don’t think we can share a story about Toyo trying to take over the planet and not have the Vine be intimately involved in this. The fact is that the Vine took over the planet and won a long time ago. Now we are going to share Harada’s history with the Vine that goes back to the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. It’s all going to be woven in pretty tightly into the narrative.
CB: What will the antagonists look like in the title? I heard something about robots, aliens, and poets?
JD: Harada has his basic psiot that survived the collapse of his first post civilization in first crew. He basically has a fully functional robot which is a version of his med-bots that he kind of amped up. The A.I. was a total accident, and now he has an A.I. shackle. He is incapable of entering any network. He is extremely limited in how his intelligence can grow and what he can affect. This is Harada’s basic check to not having a singularity happen overnight. It’s only a matter of time before artificial intelligence is affected all across the internet. He’s a really interesting tragic character for me. He’s capable of so much, yet he can’t intellectually grow but he knows that. We also have mad scientists!
CB: While the Harbinger Foundation was in control of an incredible amount of corruption, Harada surely cannot employ telekinesis on the entire planet. With limited power, does Toyo Harada have any chance of clearing his name?
JD: The current situation with Harbinger foundation that was sort of the secret organization buried within Harada Conglomerates, but Harada’s conglomerate has dissolved. However, Harada still has thousands of secret accounts located all over the world. These things are actively being tracked down all over the planet. That exists, so there is money and revenue. It’s difficult for him to track all of them down, but they exist. The Harbinger Foundation itself is now whatever technologies he has found and pilfered. And it’s now predominantly found within the U.S.S. Bush – Harada has stolen one of the largest nuclear aircraft carriers in the United States, and they are also taking the Somalia itself. But that’s all that’s left of Harada’s empire. He has money, but it’s tricky for him to use the money without being seen and he has a lot of his old tech, but he doesn’t have it all. For instance, he can’t activate psiots right now. It’s like if he were a musician, at one time he was in the biggest stadium band in history, but now he’s back to playing garages.
CB: Is Harada interested in clearing his name?
JD: He has done everything he is accused of doing; he’s definitely the largest robber baron in the history of the human species.
I don’t think that Harada believes that he has done anything wrong. I think he believes that the narrow shortsightedness of the species and their inability to see all that he gave them in return for the few things that he had to only reinforces him to see what others can’t see. It would have been easier if he keeps his global institution in place it would be easier for him to operate things within the shadows. Instead of having every government and every corporation pitted against him. He has no desire to clear his name.
CB: Was Unity Toyo’s failed attempt at building a team like the one featured in this comic?
JD: What’s really interesting about Unity is that their initial inception was to keep Aric [X-O Manowar] from taking over Romania. Harada has done exactly the thing that Aric did, in that he put together this team to fight him which is a real vine of hubris and hypocrisy.
CB: What has Peter learned from the first volume of Harbinger to now?
JD: For a while, we’re not gonna know what’s going on with them. The last time we saw Peter he was contemplating that the only true heroism is doing nothing at all. I don’t know that they were ever ready to play at the level they played Harada at all. They are just kids, they are kids with a lot of power and they took on a really big task, and I don’t think they knew what it entailed. I think they are pretty heartbroken and beaten down from the battle.
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Archie dropped a bombshell today. The new creative team on Archie will be Mark Waid and Fiona Staples. Yes, the Daredevil writer and the Saga artist. That Mark Waid and that Fiona Staples.
No, we didn’t see that coming either.
In an interview with the New York Times, the creative switch is described as being intended to update Archie and the gang and keep them relevant. Waid specifically mentions restoring the “contemporary attitudes of teenagers.”
It would be remiss not to mention this revitalization happens while Greg Berlanti has the Archie “Riverdale” TV series in development for Fox, although it isn’t clear how much the Waid/Staples version will be influenced by that or vice versa.
After Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa was signed up as Archie’s Chief Creative Officer, it was expected there would be a few more changes, so this might not be the only announcement dropping in the near future. The Times does have the book formally relaunching as a new #1. It wasn’t specified if the other titles in the line will switch over to the Waid/Staples depictions or exactly when this new #1 is dropping, but expect that all to come out soon.