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For weeks and weeks, we kept getting teases about Jared Leto‘s hair, his voice, and any other scrap of information that the internet could pull together about what his Joker looks like in David Ayer‘s upcoming Suicide Squad.
The wait is over folks, as Ayer has tweeted out the first official Joker photo in honor of the Joker’s 75th anniversary:
Not sure how I feel about the grille, and some of the tattoos (though they line up pretty well with the rumors that this Joker would look a bit like Jim Lee‘s from All Star Batman and Robin), but there’s something really unsettling about Leto’s appearance here…dare I say, it captures the kind of manic energy I was hoping we’d see in our next on-screen Joker. I’m rather creeped out looking at him, and that may be just the desired effect that Ayer and his team are going for.
Also, while I know that’s a riff on the whole “tear on the face” prison tattoo bit he has going on there…is that maybe a “J” for Jason Todd? Possibly a stretch, but we did apparently see a Robin costume in that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer.
I’m sure this totally won’t dominate the weekend at all.
Always three there are…for many months rumors have been swirling about Frank Miller penning, at least, a third volume in his Dark Knight series, and it’s now been confirmed via the above tweet. It’s the 30th anniversary of the original Dark Knight in 1986 so how better the celebrate than with a NEW DARK KNIGHT!
While Miller’s health has been in question in recent years, we’re told he remains sharp as a tack and eager to take on this project. Given the controversy over his recent Holy Terror, the title—referencing The Master Race—could presage even more controversy.
Brian Azzarello will be the co-writer on the projects, which will come out twice monthly, run for eight issues and start in late fall 2015. The art team has yet to be announced.
“Batman remains my favorite comic book hero and a sequel to Dark Knight is going to be daunting,” said Miller, “but we’ll do our best.”
“We are thrilled to have Frank back home at DC writing Batman,” according to Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, Co-Publishers for DC Entertainment. “The story he and Brian have crafted is an astounding and triumphant conclusion to this seminal body of work which influenced and shaped generations of readers and creators alike.”
According to Azzarello, “It’s been an amazing experience collaborating with Frank these past six months. I think we have an epic story that these characters truly deserve.”
UDPATE: This was announced on a panel at C2E2 by Azzarello, according to CBR:
“For the past six months, I’ve been working with Frank Miller to bring the next chapter in the ‘Dark Knight’ to light,” he said. It’s been humbling. I’ve learned a lot, and I call him sensei. It’s a really, really big project.”
Miller confirmed the news himself via Twitter (his first tweet in three and a half years), releasing promotional art from the story and stating, “I hope that by now my silence is deafening.” In the official press release, DC Comics billed the story as “the epic conclusion of the celebrated ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ saga.”
On the questionably damp morning of the last day of ECCC ’15, I caught up with Image creator Nate Simpson in a small breakfast place called The Crumpet Shop in Downtown Seattle’s world famous Pike Place market to talk about the second issue of Nonplayer, close enough to taste. The conversation spans his interest in narrative art, AI, and a discussion on creating comics in an rapidly gestating environment. Simpson is known for his work on Nonplayer, the first issue of which was release April, 2011. He lives in Seattle with his wife and young child and while he’s not working on game art, he wakes up at 3AM daily to turn out comics pages.
Nonplayer #2 is out from Image Comics on June 3rd.
[You’re joining us after a brief introduction.]
Comics Beat: Well, how about you? How did you get into comics?
Nate Simpson: Well, it was the X-Men; the late Chris Claremont era – Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, and all that. Actually, right when I started getting out of comics was when all those guys were jumping ship to Image. Then I went off the college in ’93 and I didn’t really have much of an exposure to independent comics until art school six or seven years later.
CB: So you went to college then attended art school years later?
NS: Yeah, I went to college and totally got out of touch with comics completely. I went to the University of Chicago for Paleontology; there were not people reading comics, it was just not happening. After three years studying I realized I didn’t want to be a paleontologist – I just liked drawing dinosaurs. So I switched over to the Art Institute of Chicago…and that was just after Chris Ware had left. There was an indie comics culture there and I got into stuff like John Porcellino’s King Kat – that sort of stuff. From there I slowly worked my way back into comics through the indie angle, but I never really took it seriously as a career path until many, many years later. I fell into game art pretty much right out of art school and if you’re looking at it from a purely utilitarian standpoint – for an artist – there’s really no better game in town. It pays way better and it’s way more forgiving from a scheduling standpoint.
CB: There may be less pitching involved?
NS: Yeah, not at my level. So yeah, game art was going to be life until I came across this book of storyboards for Miyazaki movies – have you seen his original storyboards for Nausicaä?
CB: Oh, yeah.
NS: Dude, that shit melted my brain. It just the one guy working by himself with such a comprehensive vision and the final product was so similar to what his original vision was like.
CB: Did you see the documentary about him – The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness? It was filmed during the production of The Wind Rises and showed a lot of his storyboarding process. He uses a stopwatch while boarding to set the time of shots from the outset, so as each scene was set – he knew how long it would be. What’s really crazy is that the studio launches into production when he’s only half-way done with the script.
NS: That’s how assured he is – there’s no way to go back!
CB: That’s a really interesting place to come from, in my mind. When you mentioned that it was the Claremont X-Men and Liefeld posse were your earlier comic interested – I was going to say I don’t necessarily see those influences in your current work.
NS: Well, the one thing we overlooked is that is that I also had a major Moebius fetish. I think stylistically that’s more of where I’m coming from.
Panel from Nonplayer #1
CB: That makes sense. I remember when I first saw the promo art featuring Elloden I thought that it looked very [Geof] Darrow – who’s a contemporary of Moebius.
NS: Oh yeah. I bought all three of the Hard Boiled issue when they came out, and they released like every year and a half – and I was so angry at him!
NS: It’s so ironic. I was saying “what kind of asshole takes a year and a half?”
CB: These names remind me of an interview with Paul Pope I did right when the first volume of Battling Boy had come out where I asked him what he was reading. He said he was staying in his “fortress of influence” which was essentially Moebius, Toth, and Miyazaki.
It really excites me that as Western comics really finds its footing with its Eastern – mainly manga – influences, Miyazaki is beyond that. People were looking to him long ago, even though he hasn’t made a new comic in some time.
Getting back to it – would you say the Miyazaki influence is one of production or also stylistic?
NS: I would definitely say both, but it’s so hard to parse what part of each person you’re taking because it’s a very organic process. However, I was inspired in the wrong way by those storyboards because what I wanted to do was exactly that: make storyboards for a movie.
So the first thing I did was quit my job, which required a huge amount of patience from my wife who didn’t have a job at the time. We were just living off of savings as I was saying “I’m gonna express myself!”
It was a weird six or seven months of writing this screenplay and doing some storyboards for this big, grand, epic sci-fi space opera called “Gordon and the Star-Eater” and it was…horrible. It was the worst.
CB: Sounds like something I’d read.
NS: So after those six or seven months, I stepped back from the screenplay, read it again and went “this is complete shit.” I had wasted more than half a year, we’re out of money, and I had to figure out how to salvage this – make it worth leaving my job. I got super despondent about it and wrote about it on my blog; about how I was feeling lost. Although only three friends really read my blog, one of whom was a co-worker named Ray – who’s gone on to do concept art on Skyrim – told me to just draw a comic.
At the time I naively thought it was the simpler thing to do, rather than a screenplay and storyboard for a movie.
CB: And in many ways, it is. You don’t need cameras or intensely expensive equipment and software or a crew or anything like that.
NB: Exactly. It was very self-contained. I didn’t have to pitch it to anybody; I just had to do it and either it’s good or it’s not – it is what it is. I don’t know if you have something like this, but the “Star-Eater” project is something I’d been thinking about for around 15 years prior. I knew all the scenes, I knew everything that had to happen. It was so set in stone that there was no way for anything to mutate or grow; it was not a creative enterprise at all.
CB: That sounds like a dangerous thing to enter into.
NS: It really is. There was nothing there with that project; it was dead…it was taxidermied.
So that moment when Ray told me to do a comic I got, for the first time in many years, a blank slate to ask myself what I should do – and the story for Nonplayer came on the same day, all at once. “Here’s the stuff I’m interested in now and here’s the stuff I would have been writing about it wasn’t creatively constipated because of this other project.”
Writing out the script for Nonplayer happened really fast; the first two issues were written out in two weeks…and then it’s taken fucking five years to draw them.
CB: Something I’m curious about is your editing process. Given that much time between original script and final product, how many iterations or changes or evolutions have they gone through?
NS: Oh you have no idea; so many revisions. I save every iteration of the book. Some of the individual pages have up to 40 or 50 different versions from the very roughest thumbnail all the way [to final touches]. I’ve even made animated gifs of the process and it’s really cool to see stuff shift around, but the dialogue in changing with the art is changing and in some cases, entire scenes are added or removed – it’s a pretty fluid process.
That’s the great freedom and the great pitfall of working digitally is that you can continue to edit all the way through the process and what’s what I do: just keep polishing and polishing. If I were working in analog media, I would have erased through the page nine times, but there’s not common sense stopping point and that’s a long road that can really eat up your time.
Process of Page from Nonplayer #1
CB: Would you say that the fact that you’re working digitally is enabling in that sense?
NS: Oh, absolutely. Here’s the thing though: without these tools […] I’ve been an adult for about 15 years before starting on Nonplayer and the thing that changed in my life that was enabling for Nonplayer to happen was the invention of the Cintiq.
I had tried to draw comics in pen and ink before and I found it so confining and difficult because I’d have second thoughts or would want to change something – it would drive me crazy. It was upsetting that I didn’t have the freedom to continuously modify. If I had been born 50 years earlier, I never would have attempted a comic, I would’ve lived and died having done some other thing.
CB: Proto game art?
NS: Yeah, maybe. I don’t know – I would’ve dug ditches or something. Maybe I would’ve been a paleontologist or a painter or something.
It’s sort of interesting, my training is in painting and drawing; there was a lot of oil painting. Once nice thing about that is that you keep working it – they even encourage you. I mean, some of those teachers work on one painting for 10-15 years; there’s not a time limit on a painting, you can build the paint out a foot deep if you want to. But that’s never really worked for comics, unless you’re doing painterly comics.
Comics as a pop medium is not an additive one; you need to have the idea and you need to get it out as cleanly and as quickly as you can; but these digital tools […] you have a clean end product but you work in a more painterly way, ironically. I sometimes redraw a line up to 50 times to get it just the way I want it!
CB: It’s so much easier to do that when you’re able to. It’s fascinating to think that we’ve hit a point technologically where it’s potentially as easy to edit the pages as it is to edit the script.
NS: That’s absolutely true. But here’s the other interesting thing: I think we’re in a weird time-gap where people who were trained to use analog materials, like me, have gotten access to these weird digital tools – so there’s a combination of ability and tools. But I notice that younger artists seem much more comfortable working quickly and iteratively – they just use the tools better than I do and they’re much faster than I am.
CB: While a bit reductive and not wholly true, something I do notice is a lot of artist I would consider your contemporaries only use digital for certain stages, like just for color and flatting or inking and up. But if you look at the “Tumblr generation” of artists, you see a swathe of amazing color sketches that were digital from the ground up and that’s all they work in. Sometimes you’ll see some of their analog work, but they’ve figured out how to fine tune the digital tools to fit their style that it becomes very cohesive.
NS: The end product is such a result of the tools, there’s no way to do what they do in any other way, whereas what I’m doing is kind of replicating what comics look like back when Moebius was doing them in the ‘70s. A better artist could do what I’m doing now digitally in an analog form. What I’m doing is “hacking my way” toward a finished product that has that level of polish, but I’m doing it sort of the hard way.
CB: Isn’t that the human condition?
NS: Yeah maybe – we’re all trying to rebuild what we saw when we were 13.
CB: That’s creation and memory. I’m fascinated by the idea of what it means to take something from here [motions to temple] and put it somewhere so other people can see it and how do your tools and the “you” of that time affect, muddle, or change the product. With digital, the opportunity is there to be as clear as possible is there, but it’s the tool could enable some distance or change from the original concept.
Reminds me of Nick Drogotta who, up until issue 15 of East of West was working exclusively digital, but people kept asking for original pages so he switched to penciling on paper to accommodate.
NS: Yeah, and there are guys who do the opposite too, right? There are guys who pencil digitally, then ink on printed out pages. I guess you could do it either way.
Do you know who William Stout is?
CB: No, I do not.
NS: He’s an artist who was predominate in the ’70s – I think he did a bunch of Conan stuff and also a bunch of dinosaur drawings that I got super obsessed with. But seeing his work in person, which I have a couple times, he’s the example the resonated the most for me. There’s something about seeing it on the page; the way that the inks and watercolor […] it was like looking at a jewel. I’d seen them in reproduction and thought they were beautiful but seeing them in real life I understood. It has to be made that way because the important thing is not the reproduction – the important thing is this real object.
And certainly the ethos behind Nonplayer from the very beginning was the only thing that’s important is the book at the end – everything is aimed in that direction and there’s no “object”. There’s a part of me that really wants to make the object; there’s a part of me that’d love to have the freedom to take a step away from the way I’m doing things with Nonplayer and try a different approach. Maybe on another book or whatever, because those are skills that I have.
That’s another thing that doesn’t get talked about very much; it’s that people see the way that Nonplayer gets made and they think it’s the way I draw – “this is the only way he draws”. They think I’m a slow, meticulous artist who works digitally and nothing else because they’ve never seen anything else that I’ve done. I think there’s a little bit of selection bias or something happening there where the only reason they’ve heard of me is because that was only book I made that caught peoples’ attention. For instance, as a game artist, I have to work very quickly, very iteratively, and very roughly sometimes.
Panel from Nonplayer #2
CB: It’s a very small sample to base an opinion off of.
NS: Because that first comic was made at the level of polish it had, all of the others will be have equal to or better than the first one. The second one, by at least some measures, is better. So in a way, I’m locked into that and it’s a pretty rough thing to be locked into. I love working on it, but as an economic proposition, it doesn’t make any sense at all. It doesn’t come close to paying for itself which is why I work on it from the hours of 3AM to 6AM every morning; I have to have a job and a life outside of it.
Sometimes I ask myself if the first comic I had made had been rough, gestural, and quick, it theoretically could have been more financially sustainable, maybe. But would it have gotten anyone’s attention? I might not have, that might not be what people were picking up.
CB: It’s that weird strongly-held belief that artists can only do one style where whatever their working on the time is likely influencing how they draw it. I personally would hazard that most artists at DC and Marvel have the potential for artistic fluidity, but they are working towards specific, recognizable style. Take a look at one of my favorite cartoonists, Boulet – he is able to do so many different kinds of work.
NS: Oh yeah, Moebius was a master of that too, he was all over the place.
CB: Definitely, but his work is always recognizable – I feel he kind of transcended shifts in style.
NS: He was so prolific that if he made something people thought was shitty, the next day he’d make 10 other things.
CB: His speed definitely helped.
NS: This touches on the hot-button topic with issue two coming out; I think there’s a certain amount of…wariness. There’s a certain kind of person who feels like I’ve cheated them in some way and here’s a part of me – a voice inside – that agrees with them. There’s always that little voice inside of me that’s always frustrated with how long this is taking. “Who do I think I am? Who else gets to come out with a #2 four years later and have the temerity to ask people to pay attention to it?” I should be skulking in the darkness, meekly handing it out and scuttle away. But because I’ve put so much time into it, because I’ve been thinking about this for so long, I have no choice but to promote it as hard as I can.
But there are a lot of people who are telling me that everyone else does 12 of these a year and I do 1/48th of one.
CB: I would maybe say that’s a product of, realistically many things but, the oppressive nature of the direct market and the hilarious difference in “creation time” vs “read time”.
NS: We have such a “box office mojo” obsessed culture that we’re having trouble separating the question of comics as an economic engine and a question of comics as a creative pursuit. Making a comic this slowly is a completely losing proposition economically, both for me personally as a creator […] I guess Image makes a little money off of it but it’s barely worth their time. It really doesn’t do much for the retailers – it really doesn’t do much for anybody from a monetary standpoint.
But I’m still doing it in my spare time. It’s getting done. There are gonna be seven of them, two down, 5 to go. I would love to go faster and I would like to find a way to work on this full time and there are some discussion going on about that, but I doubt it’ll ever be financially self-sustaining. It’s just not how it’s gonna go. Does that make it less valid from an artistic standpoint? Assuming this all gets done, assuming I don’t get hit by an asteroid or something, it’ll get done eventually. And when it’s done, it’ll be collected in trade – that big, polished, finished thing – will people factor in the time it took to make it when they make a decision about whether or not they want to buy it? Or, more importantly, when they’re deciding whether or not it’s a good book?
I’m deep in the shit right now, so it’s hard for me to even think that far ahead. I have to remind myself of this every morning at 3AM. “This is worth it because it’s gonna be good in the end.”
CB: That raises an interesting question about the worth of artistic agency. How much is your project “worth” to somebody? I think you’re maybe missing the direction comics can go – for a long time they were driven by the big two, but as other publishers get more of that market share and pushing to have good comics available for every reader possible, you start seeing other shifts.
For instance, Brandon Graham works on a lot of stuff so his solo projects like Multiple Warheads are produced pretty slowly and he shrugs off people giving him flak for it. Of course, he seems to be in a situation where that works for him; having enough going on for it to be okay.
Pinup for Nonplayer #1 by Brandon Graham.
NS: He’s very self-contained, very charismatic, and doesn’t need anybody’s love.
CB: He doesn’t need anyone’s validation, he don’t need no man.
NS: Yeah, exactly. It just occurred to me […] I sometimes feel sorry for myself – as do others – over how I just can’t get all the time I need to be able to work on this all the time, and that would be great if that happened. But, in a weird way, the fact that this comic is not my sole source of income gives me much less freedom on the time axis, but a huge amount of freedom on the quality axis that full-time comics artists don’t have because if next month’s rent depends on you getting this book out the door, that’s going to be controlling your artistic decisions. So in a weird way, I have maximum freedom. Especially with the advances in medicine, I don’t have to worry about dying of old age then, you know, I can just keep this going! So it’s both a blessing and a curse.
CB: Something I’m interested in with Nonplayer, from a storytelling perspective is this idea of the hyper-real where you have a possible near future version of our world but within it is still the need for fantasy. I’m curious about this idea of meta-escapism; do you think this kind of story could have been as easily discussed if not for online gaming?
NS: Yeah – it definitely wouldn’t be the same story if there weren’t MMOs. One thing you’ll see in issue two is some of the new characters are the developers that are building that virtual world. So the choice of doing an online game came at least partly from having worked in games; the personalities involved in that whole thing but I think if we somehow managed to skip online gaming and went straight to the metaverse or some sort of cyberpunk version of what the online world is supposed to look like – I think the story would not be the same. The core conceit of the story is that there are two worlds that are, from an atmospheric perspective, very different from one another, but equal.
Jarvath and near-future Los Angeles, in the structure of Nonplayer are completely equal – neither one is more real than the other. That’s just the core conceit of the story.
[Interviewer note: Nate and I discussed some concepts that crop up in parts of Nonplayer that aren’t out yet and have been omitted from the transcription.]
CB: It sounds like from this and for previous interviews that you have a huge interest in AI and it sounds like that makes its way into Nonplayer.
NS: Oh yeah, there’s this book called Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom that I recommend to everyone. It’s a little dry at the beginning, but then you get into the 100 pages and, well, my brain has exploded so many times reading this book. Broadly speaking, there are two “kinds” of AI that he thinks we may end up developing. One is essentially a human-equivalent AI that is probably developed as a result of us trying to model the way a real human brain works and then evolve it from there.
CB: That makes sense – it’s the only real sentient option we have to currently base off of as we know it.
NS: Right, there is one living template that we can attempt to replicate and yeah, that work is ongoing. We are scanning human brains and attempting to recreate them in a digital matrix: that will happen. However, there are all these other – to my mind more interesting but scarier – things happening where there are forms of essentially alien intelligence that may or may not be evolving and even improving themselves over time and their resemblance to our consciousness is as distant as ours is from an ant. So there’s the potential for these immense intelligences that have nothing in common with us that could be unfathomably dangerous to the existence of humankind. That’s what they [Bostrom] talk about when they talk about the “singularity” – that sort of intelligence having an efflorescence.
Nonplayer has both. In the second issue, I introduce another AI character which is working for this regulatory bureau which is one of the latter category – it’s an alien intelligence that is unbounded in its power, but it’s kept in a cage; a god in a cage whose entire function it to monitor the internet and catch other AIs that are loose. I also have the first kind running so I get to play around with both kinds and I don’t have to pick sides; I can just explore all of it.
To answer your question: AI is of interest to me, yes.
Cover for Nonplayer #2
CB: I think this links back nicely to how you earlier said that you were “constipated” while trying to create. This looks like a great example of allowing your work to be dated to a specific set of interests and influences you are having during the process of the work; not to make work in a vacuum.
NS: Yeah, absolutely. Also, when people write AIs now, especially for movies, it’s always a monster. It’s always basically a mean human with some extra power. I feel like an honest depiction of a malevolent AI would be so much more deeply horrifying because it’s less like a human and more like a spider or something. I don’t even think it’d be capable of malevolence, specifically because I don’t think it’s going to care about us.
CB: Right, does our potentially limited palette of emotional or social queues even apply to an intelligence that is extremely not human in nature?
NS: I don’t even know if you get to use the work “nature” and that’s where it gets really interesting. We’ll find out if we’re even compatible in 20 to 30 years and I hope it works out for us.
I hope the AI likes Nonplayer. They very well may be the only things to read the final issue.
[Interviewer’s Note: I spend more time than is worth transcribing telling Nate about Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn’s Alex + Ada – another fantastic Image title involving AI sentience.]
NS: You know, one thing I like about Eric [Stephenson] is that he really has the patience to let a book unfold, even if some books don’t perform that well in issue format, but once they’re collected they can be great.
CB: Yeah, having that be an option in a system that demands certain things upon stories based on a very tight schedule is nice.
NS: Woe betide the person who has a story that doesn’t fit neatly into the structures that are currently in place.
CB: And inside this structure, it looks like Nonplayer occupies this unique role of the Pariah almost, in certain circles of comics readership.
NS: It’s a target, for sure.
CB: Do you think with the changing climate of comics creation, would this sort of reaction happen again?
NS: I think people are looking at it and consciously or unconsciously, they’re recognizing that it’s economically stupid. Maybe we’re part of a culture that places a lot of emphasis on that, right? Why do we care so much about how much a movie makes on its opening weekend? How is that relevant to anything? I see how it’s relevant to the people who made it, but I don’t see how it should affect what I feel about the movie, but people like to crow over the dead bodies about a failed movie.
I feel there’s a similar impulse with Nonplayer where there’s a little bit of schadenfreude where people just like to see a ship go down. Yeah, I think some people decided that I was lazy; there’s definitely a narrative of laziness there, but I’ve never stopped working on it or maybe I don’t know what the definition of lazy is.
CB: It’s interesting how those narratives around creators get formed. I feel like it was different when it was only letters sections, conventions, and signings, but now everyone has a blog, mailing list, or twitter account to work with.
NS: That’s actually the one thing that saved my bacon; if my book came out in a vacuum – if it just hit the stands one day and no one had any idea who I was, I think it would have vanished immediately. There’s the narrative of the book, but there’s also the narrative of the creation of the book and if I’m being honest I think that most of the people who are supporting Nonplayer are, on some level, supporting the enterprise as much as they’re supporting the book itself. They understand how painful it was to make it and I find, in a lot of cases, that there are people with similar ambitions or projects who empathize with the difficulty of the project.
So, for everyone person who casually shits on the book in a comment thread on Newsarama, there are a lot of people out there who either read my blog or whatever that understand what it is that I’m trying to do and are much more forgiving.
Panel from Nonplayer #1
CB: Do you think we’re approaching an era more based around creative compassion?
NS: I hope we are! There is the existence of all these crowd-funding stuff so a lot of people keep coming to me to put Nonplayer on Kickstarter or Patreon since it’s not sustainable in the comics market. They ask me why I shouldn’t try to find a way for people to give me their money directly.
Well I have a little experience with Kickstarer through games; if there’s a target on me now, you cannot imagine the size of the target that would be on if I were running a Kickstarter. “Now look at this guy! This lazy ass is coming out, hat in hand, asking for your money directly.”
CB: Do you think that’s a good reason not to do one?
NS: I think it’s actually a bad reason not to do it, but I am definitely conscious of having a target on my back and to ignore that requires maybe more self-confidence than I personally have. Also I don’t know what it would be that I would offer through a Kickstarter – I already sell posters and whatnot. I’m not even sure that having a successful Kickstarter campaign would allow me to work on the book full-time anyway.
Either way, as weird a book as Nonplayer is, there’s no other place and no other time that it could have become a real comic. Eric…really rolled the dice on it.
CB: I’m curious how that happened, how did Nonplayer find its way to Image?
NS: Joe Keatinge. I was posting these pages to my blog that three people read and one day I sent a fan letter to Brandon Graham. I’ve always been a fan of his and sent him a link to some of the images on my blog to show what I was working on. He posted a couple of his images and the day after that Warren Ellis, who apparently read’s Graham’s blog, posted a couple images from it and all of a sudden I had three readers to 3,000 in a week. The internet really make this thing happen. I don’t really remember the whole mechanism, but then I began interacting more frequently with that group of Image creators including Brandon and Justin “Moritat” Norman. Joe was a part of that circle, he was working at Image and he was a big fan of the book and pitched it to Eric on multiple occasions and finally Eric said “well sure, let’s put it out.”
I’m certain he couldn’t have anticipated how long it would take me to get out the second issue, but he knew it wasn’t gonna be monthly. I’m sure he would prefer the book to come out a lot faster than it has because we have to climb a completely new promotional mountain for every one of these issues because there’s no momentum at all. But he stands by the book and he likes the book, I don’t know many other publishers who would be okay with that release cadence.
Even if Nonplayer is never successful financially, I think it’s successful because I’m proud of it. It could sell two copies and I’d still be proud of it.
CB: Yeah, Image is in a really unique gestating place where it’s trying out all kinds of new stuff and who knows where they’ll be in five years.
NS: I don’t know how true these things are because I didn’t hear them directly from the horse’s mouth, but some of the people who have been associated with some of the more recent big successes at Image like Saga or Shutter […] I’ve been hearing that they were “somewhat inspired” to do the projects that they decided to do because of Nonplayer. Obviously their books are coming out monthly so they’ve got something I don’t, but if it’s true, that’s very gratifying. Maybe it served that purpose; to shake something loose or open up a possibility just a little bit in a new direction.
I’ve talked to two or three pretty prominent female artists who weren’t active in 2011 or 2012 who are now a really big deal, and Nonplayer was very high on their list of things that got them excited about what comics could be.
CB: I find that a really great thing and sort of brings me to my last question that we didn’t touch on by accident. Many years from now, when you get your comps of the nice, assuming hardcover of the collected Nonplayer, do you have plans of what’s next?
Spread from Nonplayer #1
NS: What’s a good intersection to commit seppuku?
I have another project that I’m writing that I expect someone else to draw and I’m very excited about it. That’s another strategy I’m exploring to make it so I can work on comics full-time. If I’m a writer on a book, that takes up two days a week and I can spend four days a week on Nonplayer, which will speed that up immensely. The question, of course, is there any universe where writing a book and drawing another slow book brings in an amount of money similar to what you make in games? The answer’s probably no, but we’ll see.
CB: That’ll be an interesting test of faith to see if people who feel burned on Nonplayer will be willing to pick up a book you’re on.
NS: Yeah, I’d have to have multiple issues in the can before we even pull the trigger and it would have to be a bunch of proven artists, probably multiple artists similar to the way Brandon did Prophet. Many people predict retailer gloom and doom saying no retailer will ever trust me again and all that, but my personal experience has been the opposite. Retailers have really liked Nonplayer, it’s an easy hand sell and they just want more of it, so that’s a good problem to have.
CB: As readership changes, so do the shops, it seems.
NS: Yeah! I love where comic shops are headed. They’re not these back-alley, heavy metal places anymore. They’re getting a lot friendlier, especially to female readers. I may be benefiting on some level from the shift in demographics, my comic is a little more accessible than what was being made when it first came out – now everything’s so much broader. Frankly, Image has been the biggest beneficiary, just look at their market share, it’s crazy.
CB: Thank you very much for your time, Nate.
NS: Thank you.
Nonplayer #2 (APR150542) will be available on JUNE 3RD and can be pre-ordered now.
Quick, which publishers are the pioneers of digital comics? You might think IDW or Marvel, but the UK’s Rebellion, publisher of 2000 AD, has been selling digital editions of its book since all the way back in 2005 with great success—it’s the fastest and cheapest way to get Judge Dredd if you don’t live in the UK after all. Now they are making their downloads DRM free. All comics purchased—past and present—via any method—web, Android, iOS—will now be available in DRM-free PDF and CBZ files.
Users will have a Rebellion ID that will allow comics bought through one platform to be available on others.
Apps for the Amazon Kindle and Windows mobile apps are on their way—and all purchases will be transferable via those apps as well.
Along with Judge Dredd, and current issues of 2000 AD, the weekly anthology of dystopic adventure, and the monthly Judge Dredd Megazine, classic issues of Judge Dredd, Strontium Dog, Halo Jones, Sláine, Ace Trucking, and many more can also bepurchased.
The 2000 AD iOS app for iPad and iPhone was launched in 2012 and is consistently one of the top-grossing iPad newstand apps in the UK. You can download the free 2000 AD app for iOS here, and the brand new 2000 AD app for Android here.
Man of Steel is endlessly fascinating to me. While I appreciated the central thesis: “How would Earth react to finding out there’s life on other planets?”, some of the choices made have been the source of discussion for years now. The one that I found always stuck out most was the desaturated color palette that director Zack Snyder used to reflect the more dour themes of the movie.
While it makes sense in concept, a more realistic Superman should probably be reflected tonally in the visuals, it ended up lessening some of the splendor of the film for me personally. Man of Steel had some of the best visual effects and action cinematography (the two areas in which Snyder really excels) of any superhero film, but the overwhelming sense of grey made everything look rather sludgey.
Now, thanks to the folks at VideoLab, we get a chance to see a somewhat brighter take on the material. Their team turns the color up a bit and show us what Man of Steel would look like if it were just a bit more red and blue. Check it out and gaze at what might have been:
For what it’s worth, we’re all still debating the film to this day, so clearly somebody did something right. That’s more than we can say for some of the lesser Marvel offerings or the latest Spider-Man picture.
C2E2’s on once again, and just like your favorite superhero who is–yet isn’t–quite the same, it’s being held again in the same place, but different. (Oh, how I await the day when it takes up the entire complex! 2.6 MILLION sq.ft. of exhibit space! 60 acres! 45 football fields! Can you imagine the programming going on all over the building? The theater? The ballrooms?)
Here’s the scorecard for each year:
2010 Lakeside Hall D 300,000 sq.ft.
2011 West Building Hall F 470,000 sq.ft.
2012 North Building Hall B1 369,000 sq.ft.
2013 West Building Hall F 470,000 sq.ft.
2014 South Building Hall A1/2 430,000 sq.ft.
So here’s the layout, with some insider tips from your intrepid exploring reporter!
Food? Here is the McCormick dining guide!
Level One (the ground floor)
When you enter from the square, you’ll see the concierge desk and the dancing water fountains. Immediately to the south is the ballroom, host to various fannish activities. (It’s divided in half: one half is for gaming and other geekery, the other side is for families. Brilliant planning… it’s part of the show, but removed just enough to create a safe space.) Aside from the coat check near the gateway to BarCon at the Hyatt Hotel, the only other item of interest on this floor are the hotel shuttles.
Comics Beat C2E2 Inside Tip: Walk down that long hallway southward. You’ll see the massive escalators which lead to the show floor (but not working this weekend). There are vending machines squirreled away behind and beneath these escalators. Since McCormick doesn’t always refill the machines in the buildings on a timely basis, you might have better luck here on Sunday. (But check Lakeside…it’s not being used this weekend. Level One.)
If you forgot a power chord or other necessity, the Hyatt has a vending machine in the hallway leading to the check-in desk. The Hyatt is also where you can catch a taxi, although you might want to “New York” everyone and wander south on MLK Drive a few blocks to catch a taxi before it pulls into the line.
Just north of the bus stop, there’s a bike sharing rack here, know locally as “Divvy“. $7 for 24-access, 30 minutes per ride, overtime if you take longer. If you cycle, and want a scenic route, head north on Calumet, there’s a path that will lead you under the railroad and then south to 18th, which takes you under Lake Shore Drive. From there, you’re in the Museum Campus, and then Grant Park.
Level 2.5 (the mall)
There’s a food court tucked away on the west side. I’ve never eaten there, so no idea. 16,000 sq.ft. No Yelp page. Here’s the official description:
This eclectic food court offers several options to choose from: Little Italy, Pacific Rim, American Grill, Fiesta Brava, Express to Go Sandwiches, Salads and Snacks as well as a fabulous Soup Bar.
There’s also the First Aid station, and a FedEx Office supply store (helpful if you need to rent a computer, or purchase a poster tube). This level also connects to the food court in the North Building, where McDonald’s and other eateries are located. Starbucks is located on Level 2.5. And on North Level Three, right across from the show floor entrance. And at the “Daily Grind” in the Hyatt Hotel. McDonald’s also serves coffee. Doubtful that this location has been renovated into a McCafé…
Comics Beat C2E2 Inside Tip: The restrooms (at least the male ones) next to McDonalds in the North Building are quite large, if utilitarian. Right next to these bathrooms are vending machines with two microwaves. There’s a vending machine alcove near the retail stores as well.
Level 3 (the show)
C2E2 is only using the front three-quarters (Hall A1 and half of A2), so there are no shortcuts you can use. (There is a hallway behind A2, which leads down to bathrooms, and runs the width of the South Hall from . But you’ll probably be arrested for trespassing.)
Registration is right across the Grand Concourse, in the North Hall. They’re just using the front section for check-in. Starbucks is here.
Comics Beat C2E2 Inside Tip: There is an escalator on the east side which runs from the show floor to the Fourth Floor meeting rooms. This may be blocked by the attendee lines.
Under the food court (that section in the middle) should be restrooms and vending machines. Unknown if that will be open during the show.
Also, this level connects to the Grand Concourse, so you could wander over to Lakeside. Forage for vending machines on the second floor of Lakeside (site of the very first C2E2).
Level 4 (the panels)
This is where the event hall is located all…the…way…at…the…(are we there yet)…end…of…the…hallway. The panel rooms are located here as well. It’s a nice sunny hallway, so rest when needed. There usually are water stations strategically placed along the way.
Comics Beat C2E2 Inside Tip: The Fifth floor above this is accessible from the Fourth. The rooms should be locked, but the restrooms and public spaces should be accessible. A great way to view the crowds below, and escape the hustle and hubbub. Also a great space for cosplayers to hang out.
There are also two small panel rooms on the fourth floor, accessible from the North Building: S400b and S400c. That walkway and hallway is a bit tight, but there are restrooms located over there, and it’s accessible via elevator from the South Building. That walkway is also a good place for an overlook.
The West Building is also accessible, but distant. There is an auto parts trade show taking place over there, so the 400-seat food court area and 200-seat fine-dining restaurant should be open. Also, the coat check on the first floor!
Lots of accessible wall outlets! I recommend the fifth floor of the South Hall.
If you can locate access in and out from Lakeside, I highly recommend taking some time to enjoy the lakeshore. (Test the doors to make sure they open from the outside before shutting them.) If you have a lot of time in the morning, it’s a nice walk south through the museum complex to the convention center. The big question, of course, is getting into the convention center from the lake shore… there isn’t a pedestrian overpass if Lakeside is locked. Perhaps you can find an employee to pop open one of the doors…
Got any suggestions? Tricks? Let us know!
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Kagan McLeod
Color Assist: Becka Kinzie
Editing: Thomas K
Production: Drew Gill
Kaptara is a wild card for Image Comics right now. Chip Zdarsky is a proven creator in the field of comics, but I’m not sure that anyone in the audience of the 2015 San Francisco Image Expo convention quite knew what the author was going to say. A book that he was writing to be set in space with an up-and-coming artist would have certainly ranked pretty low among anything the audience had in mind. Yet here we are at the first issue of Kaptara from Image.
What happens when a newspaper illustrator and a Sex Criminal go to space together?
The philosophy between two space travelers being a meathead a video game obsessed scientist is the perfect way to introduce readers to the fun of Kaptara. The irony nestled within this pages seems perfectly at home with Zdarsky and company, as with the other characters first introduced in the issue. The mission gets hectic pretty fast, and the language is laid down with thick discretion introducing readers about space. The protagonist Keith seems as if he sort of serves as the mouthpiece for the rest of the cast and the creators telling the story. His warm disposition and sarcastic attitude perfectly encapsulate the audience that will likely be engrossed in this story. Which is why it’s great that Keith is also the person that has the biggest problems with this tale via his interactions with other teammates. While he seems ready to see to the challenge, the unlikely hero is still flawed.
One of the best parts about this issue is how it almost immediately addresses some of the quiet moments between these people stuck on a space expedition. After all is said done, most of these quiet moments are present in the best instances of all your favorite sci-fi shows like Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek, it’s just a matter of making these characters interesting enough to land the quieter moments.
Still Kaptara is a genre tale. It’s not something incredibly concrete and immediately simple to the reader. In other words, it’s not just a bland run of the mill sci-fi military drama either. Speaking to that a little further, Kaptara almost immediately starts with fantastic pacing. By giving us a peek at the end of the story, stakes are being added to the quiet moments that happen later on. We’re already invested in these characters — making what happens at the end of this issue actually elicit some sort of genuine emotional response from the reader.
Speaking of craziness in artwork, that’s the catalyst that sturts to push this issue into crazytown. This comic embraces the weirdness of comics in general headfirst, descending full on into madness. This issue is a whopping 30+ pages, which is excellent for comics readers really looking to stretch their dollars as far as it can go for floppies. The comic also manages to shift up their supporting cast in ways that will affect subsequent installments. In fact, the Zdarsky humor starts to fade out towards bleak and dangerous subtext. Thankfully, the comic swerves back into the wonderful absurd brand of comedy that makes stories by this author great.
McLeod’s kinetic action-heavy cartoonist style with a bevvy of curved lines suit this title incredibly well. The artists’ work is described well as being ‘kinetic.’ The lines seamlessly flow off the page, and the monsters and characters are never staying still. In creator-owned titles, we’ve seen countless instances of not being able to tell characters apart because they are drawn too similarly. Thankfully, McLeod’s previous experience in the art world has allowed him to avoid the pesky instances denying clarity amongst a story. Wow…is all that should be said about the coloring in this story. McLeod and coloring assistant Becka Kinzie are going to amaze readers with the amount of sheer detail nestled into the coloring here. There is a lot of information being tossed at the reader very quickly in this first comic, but the first splash page really shows off something commendable in the not only the drawing by McLeod, but with the coloring as well.
For any comic book fan that has had enough of spandex clad gentlemen spending time in New York, I would like to propose something with a little space grit smeared all over it: Kaptara. This a book taking a familiar element of space travel that smothers in some dirty weirdness in the form of floating eyeballs, kings, princess, dance parties, skulls, lizards, space travel, and dreams. If you have a sickness Image Comics, Kagan McLeod, and Chip Zdarsky can you write you a prescription for a new drug called Kaptara.
Telltale Games, the developer behind The Walking Dead game, have announced a new partnership with Marvel to develop a console and PC game in 2017.
The Marvel end of the announcement commented on the quality of Telltale’s work, “It takes a long time to find the right partner. We have one special game we’re excited about.” Their previous games include Tales From the Borderlands, Walking Dead, and Vertigo comic based game The Wolf Among Us.
Recently, Telltale announced an investment by Lionsgate towards developing a new transmedia experience that would utilize both video games and television.
Telltale’s blog only had the image and this statement:
Announced this evening in San Francisco, we’re excited to reveal an all-new partnership with the incredible team at Marvel Entertainment. We’ll be teaming up on the development of an upcoming Telltale game series project set to premiere in 2017!
We’ll update with more information as it comes in…
Some anniversaries are painful to remember, and so is today’s: the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. A while ago we told you about a graphic novel about this event, OPERATION NEMESIS: A Story of Genocide & Revenge. The book is out now and in memoriam of those who lost their lives, here’s two illustrations from the book, one by Dan Panosian above and one by Harry Bogosian, below, a student of Paul Pope.
Bogosian’s father, director/monologuist Eric, has also written a book about the Genocide, also out now.
Harry Bogosian released a statement about his piece:
“Both sides of my father’s [actor, playwright, novelist, Eric Bogosian) family are Armenian. My grandfather’s side came over before the Genocide occurred, because even before, tensions and violence against Armenians was escalating. My grandmother’s side fled to America during the Genocide, and sadly my great grandfather who went back to get more family members was killed by the Turks…. For them, it was best to leave that painful history in the past. As I got older, my father educated me on what happened and showed me our history –in fact, the piece I drew for this graphic novel is modeled after a poster that hung for years on his office wall– but still for me it was all something ancient, with no contemporary ties….”
Harry Bogosian, cartoonist / illustrator NY, NY
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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Of course there are some great graphic novels in Conundrum Press’s fall line, but the book I’m choosing to headline is “You Are a Kitten!’ — a shoose your own path book that will redefine how we perceive reality and yarn balls. But all these books look great. In particular, Fitzgerald had a great debut with Photobooth, a non-fiction graphic novel about the history of the photobooth. Turning her storytelling to her own tale sounds very promising. And Ant Sang’s comic took New Zealand by storm.
Long Red Hair
6.25 x 8.5 inches
duotone, 88 pages
trade paperback, $17
Long Red Hair is Meags Fitzgerald’s follow up to her acclaimed Photobooth: A Biography. In this graphic memoir, Fitzgerald paints a childhood full of sleepovers, playing dress-up, amateur fortune-telling and renting scary movies. Yet, Fitzgerald suspects that she is unlike her friends. The book navigates a child’s struggle with averageness, a preteen’s budding bisexuality and a young woman’s return after rejection. Fitzgerald takes us from her first kiss to a life sworn to singlehood, while weaving in allusions to witches in history and popular culture. Long Red Hair alluringly delves into the mystique of red hair and the beguiling nature of alternative romantic relationships.
The Dharma Punks
6 x 8.25inches, b/w
trade paperback, $25
Introduction by Dylan Horrocks
Set over one long night in Auckland, New Zealand in 1994, a group of anarchist punks have hatched a plan to sabotage the opening of a multi-national fast-food restaurant by blowing it sky-high come opening day. Chopstick has been given the unenviable task of setting the bomb before the opening, but the night takes the first of many unexpected turns when he is separated from his accomplice. Chance encounters and events from his past conspire against him, forcing Chopstick to deal with more than just the mission at hand. Still reeling after the death of a close friend, and struggling to reconcile his spiritual path with his political actions, Chopstick’s journey is a meditation on life, love, friendship and the ghost of Kurt Cobain.
As the story unfolds, it becomes clear there is more at stake than was first realised, and the outcome of the night’s events will change all of their lives in ways they could never have imagined. Reminiscent of Love and Rockets or Paul Pope’s drawing style Sang’s compositions are insightful and sometimes breathtaking. But what lodges in the memory is the deep, heartfelt humanity that fills every page.
The Dharma Punks was originally published as a series of alternative comics which, at the height of its popularity, was outselling Spider-man and X-Men on New Zealand comic racks. Here it is collected for the first time for an international
You Are a Kitten!
Book 3 in the Pick-A-Plot Series
Graphic Novel / Fiction
4.25×7 inches, 240 pages
80 b/w illustrations, tp, $18
Inspired by the gamebook fad of the 80s You Are a Kitten! is the alarmingly charming prequel to the cult hit You Are a Cat! and its sequel, You Are a Cat in the Zombie Apocalypse! Lavishly illustrated from the first-person feline floor purrspective, this thrilling and thoughtful finale brings the saga of Holden Catfield to a stunning and unforgettable conclusion.
You are a couple months out of your mother’s belly. You’re brand new! You don’t even have a name yet. Well you do — but it’s not very nice. The couple that own you fight all the time. So much so that to hurt the other person, one of them stuffs you in a plastic bag and flings you into the canal! As the bag begins to fill with water colder than you’ve ever experienced, a wild panic grips you!
If you decide to claw your way out, scrabble furiously to page 16. If you decide to just stay still and do nothing, curl into a fetal ball on page 8. Or you can simply cry out for your mommy on page 6. The choice is yours! But don’t take too long to decide. The water is already up over your paws, and the only warm thing you have to cling to is the memory of your mother’s tongue licking the back of your head.
The Adventures of Drippy the Newsboy Vol 2: The Red Drip of Courage
7.5×10 inches, 64 pages
b/w, trade paperback, $12
The long anticipated second installment of Julian Lawrence’s trilogy (based on Stephen Crane’s work) is here! The Red Drip of Courage finds our hero, Drippy the Newsboy, preparing to go to war with the enemy. After several false rumours (and, presumably, editorial retractions) in the Gazette, the boys are finally on the march. But their enthusiasm for action is soon extinguished by the harsh reality of conflict with the Forbidden Zone’s Army of Fire. Will the Drippytown troop make it home in one piece? And if they do, will they be intact?
Ramshackle: A Yellowknife Story
6.5×8.75 inches, 144 pages
full colour, trade paperback, $20
Over the past decade, the North, or at least the idea of it, has slowly made its way back to our consciousness, a notion that the North is synonymous with a lawless, rugged freedom. But at first glance Yellowknife, NWT is actually a somewhat disappointing modern capital city. There are tall buildings, yoga pants, a Walmart and a lot of government jobs. None the less, if you dig a little deeper, you do find that alternative off-grid reality. Barely five minutes from the downtown core, wedged between million dollar houses, you find little shacks where people exist without running water and use honey buckets for toilets.
When Alison McCreesh moved from Quebec to Yellowknife she quickly fell in love with the quirky ways in which it seemed possible to live up North. Part travelogue, part comic book, part love story and part guide to the North and its quirky inhabitants Ramshackle spans her first summer north of 60.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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Ben Aaronovitch, writer of the pivotal 1988 Doctor Who episode Remembrance of the Daleks which saw the pepper pot villains levitate up a flight of stairs for the first time, will release a 5-issue comic series based on his best-selling novel series Rivers of London (known as Midnight Riot to US readers). From the Titan release:
Titan will be releasing a 5-part comic series penned by Aaronovitch (Remembrance of the Daleks) and Doctor Who showrunner Andrew Cartmel with art from Lee Sullivan (Doctor Who Comics).
The novels follow the adventures of Peter Grant, a young officer in the London Metropolitan Police who is recruited into a special branch of the Met that deals with magic and the supernatural.
The brand-new Rivers of London comic adventure entitled ‘Body Work’, will be set between Book 4, Broken Homes and Book 5, Foxglove Summer, in continuity with the novel universe.
Peter Grant has come a long way since first entering the special branch of London’s Metropolitan Police. With his hard-earned powers and a flair for the supernatural, it’s his job to investigate those shadowy crimes that involve urban vampires, weird folk in the Underground and, in this case, why cars are suddenly taking on lives of their own and killing innocent people!
The Rivers of London novels have sold over 1 million copies worldwide to date, and with the recent news that a TV show has been optioned, the new comic is set to be a huge smash hit!
“I’ve been a massive fan of the series for a long time and it’s always a dream to bring something you revere to life as a comic, especially when you’re working with such an incredible team of creators!” says Steve White, Titan Comics Senior Editor.
Rivers of London: Body Work #1 hits comic stores on July 15 and will also be available to read on your digital device.
Art by Ryan Stegman (Hmm… Is Sam Wilson a Red Wings fan?) (It also reminds me of this.)
The Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, also known as C2E2, is set to begin Friday! If you’ll be attending, here are some helpful hints on how to make your way to the South Building of McCormick Place!
First, here’s the official link to Reed Pop’s info! That includes car, taxi, train, and plane! (I assume those using less traditional methods such as flight rings or rocket boots should approach low from the east over Lake Michigan–to avoid triggering area radar–and enter the convention center from the Lakeside Center.)
McCormick Place’s official directions page is here. And you can pre-purchase parking online! Scroll down for all the transportation alternatives.
If you’re using Google maps (or other map software), McCormick Place is located near the juncture of the Stevenson Expressway (I-55) and Lake Shore Drive (Highway 41). If looking at a Superman’s-eye-view of the city, follow the lake shore south until you hit the Shedd Aquarium and Northerly Island Park, which juts into the Lake. Soldier Field is the other landmark there… it’s the building that looks like a UFO crashed on top of a stadium. (Science geeks: your landmark is the Field Museum. No relation to the football Field.) McCormick Place is south of the park, at approximately 23rd Street. Or follow Interstate 55 east until you hit the Lake. McCormick is directly north.
Here are a few tips on traveling to and from the C2E2 convention at McCormick Place.
1) The train (Metra). This is Chicago’s commuter train line. The line you want to take is the Metra Electric line to McCormick Place. If leaving from Millennium Park, the cost is $3.25. HOWEVER, this is a commuter train, and runs less frequently on the weekends. Also, on the weekends, McCormick Place is a FLAGGED stop; the train only stops if there are people on the platform, or if you notify the conductor ahead of time. On the weekend, trains leave about every ninety minutes. Metra does offer a weekend pass. The platform is a bit spooky (the center is built over the platform), but walk northwards to the stairs, which will lead you directly to the Convention center. When you enter the Center, turn left, and walk to the South Building. Nice, but not convenient. Info here. Metra also runs trains from other regions.
2) The subway/El.
D’OH! Chicago built a station near their convention center before New York! (Actually, they rebuilt a station… no tunnel boring necessary, or funicular elevators).
Then hike eastward along Cermak, or catch the #21 bus to the convention center. $2.25 one way (bills and coins), and the
Chicago Ventra Card will save you time and money (as well as grant free transfers). Here’s how you can pay.
3) The bus. The #3 and #21 buses stop in front of the McCormick West Building on MLK Drive.
- The #3 runs north along Michigan all the way to downtown.
- The #21 begins at McCormick, and runs along Cermak, connecting with the Red, Green, and Pink lines. (Although, the Pink line connection isn’t that convenient.)
- The #1 and #4 buses also runs along Michigan, but only on Michigan Avenue. It does not go to the convention center. You’ll have to walk two blocks along 23rd Street, then through the West Building, or transfer to the #3 or #21.
If you’re coming from downtown, catch the #3 and do some sightseeing. As always, ask the bus driver if the bus is headed to McCormick. Cross the street and look for the giant C2E2 sign.
4) The shuttle. C2E2 is sponsoring shuttle buses (but I can’t find this year’s info online). Information is available at the convention, as well as the Concierge desk in the South Hall. If shuttles use the exclusive busway, travel times will be faster than regular surface traffic. Hotel shuttles are located on Level One of the South Hall, near the ballroom, behind the concierge desk.
5) The taxi. Outside the South Hall, near the Hyatt, is a taxi stand. I asked my hotel concierge about the cost, and she said it would be about $17 (from the Loop to McCormick). If you can’t get to the train, bus, or shuttle, then this, of course, is your last resort. If you have a lot to carry, this will probably be the most convenient mode of transportation.
Here’s the word from C2E2:
More than 5,800 city taxis are at your service in Chicago. Facility direction signs and personnel at the Concierge Desk will direct attendees to gates that are designated for your event. To calculate your taxi fare, check out TaxiFareFinder.com. Tell the cab driver you are traveling to McCormick Place – South Building, and you’d like to be dropped off at Gate 4 (off of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive). [If the driver doesn’t know that location, ask to be let out near the Hyatt hotel. Walk through the hotel.]
6) The car. McCormick Place has a map of the area, as well as information about parking (see above). Lots of space, but the flat fee is $19 a day, each time you enter the garage. There is also surface parking to the north of the convention center, used by Soldier Field. Access to the parking, pedestrian access to the convention center, and cost is not known. Google Maps offers street views for most of the area, and you can plot your path .
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7) The miscellaneous. If traveling from above, DO NOT LAND at Meigs Field/Northerly Island. It is no longer an airport, and once you land, you will be treated as a celebrity by the local constabulary, complete with round-the-clock news coverage, front page coverage on all local newspapers, and private accommodations with an around-the-clock security detail. If necessary, your privacy will be protected by flying you to a remote government-run spa in the Caribbean. Best to land in Gary, Indiana. No one will care/notice.
Otherworlders often mistake Soldier Field as an interdimensional Trans-Port terminal. The terminal is actually located at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, but reservations are required, as the broadcast grid is sometimes used for concerts. Higher dimensional beings can use the Cloud Gate located nearby. While primitive, it does offer enough perpendicular transgentials to accommodate the eleven classical dimensions of this reality. From those, the Infinites can be easily excessed. Time travellers should, of course, consult the Master Clock to avoid paradoxes.
Chicago is based on a grid. The center of all directions is State and Madison, located within the elevated loop downtown. East-West streets are numbered from State; North-South streets are numbered from Madison. Numbered streets follow the grid numbering, and all subway/el train stations post the coordinates on the station signage. McCormick is approximately 2200 South, 400 East.
With a new Spider-Man film headed to theaters on July 28, 2017, Sony is in full swing trying to find its new Peter Parker and according to The Wrap, while the studio is going to be sending out test offers over the next few weeks, there are five major contenders that paint a picture of the type of performer they’re looking for.
Those five include:
Asa Butterfield – Probably the best known of the group, and was the lead in Martin Scorsese‘s Hugo as well as Ender’s Game
Nat Wolff – Recently seen in The Fault in Our Stars, but I rather liked him in last year’s Palo Alto
Tom Holland – One of the stars of 2012’s tearjerker The Impossible
Timothee Chalamett – Seen both on Homeland and as Matthew McConaughey’s son in Interstellar
Liam James – Star of The Way Way Back
Wolff is the oldest of the group at 20, so it’s clear that Sony (and Marvel) are seeking actors that can grow into the role and sign a multi-picture deal. The Wrap also reports that Drew Goddard remains the top candidate to direct the new feature, who was of course attached to helm The Sinister Six before Sony scrapped those plans after the big Marvel deal was struck.
I’d expect to hear big news pretty soon.
I was at HeroesCon a few years back and ran into Jill Thompson. “Whatcha working on, Jill?” I asked. She said it was secret, but showed me a page of art with an island on it. So I guess that Jill Thompson’s Wonder Woman project has been a badly kept “Secret” for a while. However on FB yesterday she cleared up what the project is and even gave it a name:
hMy upcoming Wonder Woman Graphic Novel is a stand alone story written and illustrated by me. My letterer is Jason Arthur. It is set in my own personal continuity. Not Earth 1. Not any established DC place. Grant Morrison is not involved. He has his own thing. This one is All made up by me. All written by me and all painted by me. The title of the story is called The Very Selfish Princess and I hope you love it as much as I do! Check with DC for the release date!
It is safe to say this project has been in the works for a long time, but one thing is certain, it will be gorgeous when its done! It also fits in well with the whole “super heroes for girls” initiative DC announced yesterday. More Wonder Woman!
I’ve been raving about all the great comics art that was up at the Society of Illustrators during April for the MoCCA fest, but they’re not stopping with Alt.Comix, Little Nemo and Craig Yoe. The new exhibit is a show of Hugo Pratt art. The creator of Corto Maltese is one of the all time great comics illustrators and this sounds like a must see. The show runs until June 13th, so get on down!
There have been many adventure-comics creators, but not many whose personal lives could serve as inspiration for their comics’ hero. Hugo Pratt was born in Italy and raised in Ethiopia where, at age 15, he was interned, with his mother, in a British prison camp. After World War II he returned to Italy, then set out for Argentina, spending the next decade drawing comics and traveling around South America. A brief sojourn in London preceded a return to Argentina, a return to Italy, then a move to France, before his final move, to Switzerland in 1984, where he lived until his death in 1995.
During his peripatetic lifetime, he was threatened with execution as a spy, organized entertainment for Allied troops, and drew adventure or war comics in Italy, Argentina, England, and France. Clearly influenced by Milton Caniff, Pratt nevertheless developed a distinctive style that used the cinematic “camera” to great effect, as well as a simplicity of line that conveyed a great deal with extraordinary economy.
Pratt’s most famous creation, the wandering Maltese sailor Corto Maltese, was born in Italy in the pages of the Sergeant Kirk comics magazine, but achieved international fame in France, serialized in the children’s weekly Pif Gadget. Pratt was able to use his own broad literary and historical knowledge to add depth and sophistication to these stories, bringing an adult audience to the comics, which were eventually translated into twelve languages. In addition to the Corto Maltese tales, issued first in black-and-white, then reissued in color, Pratt worked on travel sketches, autobiographical memories, and the occasional commission, as seen in this exhibition.
“Hugo Pratt: Artist as Adventurer” is curated by Patrizia Zanotti and Karen Green, and is supported in part by IDW Publishing.
You know what I was thinking the other day? I wish there were more movies about superheroes. It would be nice to go to the theater and see a well-done superhero movie with decent special effects that took the characters seriously, wouldn’t it?
Well, Sony heard my plea! And they’re going to make an animated Spider-Man movie that will come out on July 20, 2018. This news was announced at Cinema-Con, the theater owners trade show now going on. (Sony has been making a lot of announcements of late and I understand that may be partly because of the leaked memos up on Wikileaks which have revealed the planning for all this stuff.) Whatever the reason, three years out is still a pretty good time frame esp. for animation.
Luckily, we may see Spidey before that, I hear. Word on the street is that Spider-Man may appear in a Marvel movie! Wow. *I HEARD* he’ll first appear in Captain America: Civil War, which comes out in May 6, 2016. He may also pop up in Avengers: Infinity War. This will be a young teen-aged Spidey who is not Miles Morales. And then he gets his OWN live action movie from Sony on July 28, 2017. That’s a lot of Spidey. Torsten has a lot of work to do to update his chart.
This Spidey cartoon will be directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who directed The Lego Movie. If it worked for a Lego Batman it will for work Spider-Man.
Spidey has been the subject of many cartoons in the past from his 1967 series on to the current Ultimate Spider-man. According to Wikipedia here’s the “official” list:
Spider-Man – 1967 animated series
The Electric Company – Spidey Super Stories
Spider-Man – 1981 animated series
Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends – 1981 animated series
Spider-Man – 1994 animated series
Spider-Man Unlimited – 1999 animated series
Spider-Man: The New Animated Series – 2003 animated series
The Spectacular Spider-Man – 2008 animated series
Ultimate Spider-Man – 2012 animated series
The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Maximum Overload
Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers
It is safe to say there is precedent for an animated Spider-Man. But never in a movie! Exciting! Get the popcorn popping.
Here’s the press release:
On July 20, 2018, Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, the directors of The Lego Movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and 21 and 22 Jump Street, are taking Spider-Man back to his graphic roots with the first-of-its-kind animated Spider-Man feature, it was announced today at CinemaCon by Tom Rothman, chairman of the Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group. The film will exist independently of the projects in the live-action Spider-Man universe, all of which are continuing.
Lord & Miller are masterminding the project, writing the treatment and producing the film.
As previously announced, Spider-Man will next appear in a live-action Marvel film from Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (MCU). Sony Pictures will thereafter release the next installment of its $4 billion Spider-Man franchise, on July 28, 2017, a live-action film being produced by Kevin Feige at Marvel and Amy Pascal, who oversaw the franchise launch for the studio 13 years ago. The animated film from Lord & Miller, dated July 20, 2018, has Avi Arad, Matt Tolmach, and Pascal also serving as producers.
Spider-Man, embraced all over the world, is the most successful franchise in the history of Sony Pictures, with the five films having taken in more than $4 billion worldwide.
Movie #2 in a series is often bigger than #1—Aliens, Catching Fire, Despicable Me 2, Spider-Man 2, Terminator 2 etc etc etc. Avengers was the #3 domestic movie of all times. Will Avengers: Age of Ultron beat it?
What do you think?
While common sense suggests fans of the Vision, Scarlet Wtch and Quicksilver will give A:AOU that teensy boost needed to put it over the top according to the Motley Fool’s Tim Beyers, analyst Jaime Brugueras of Networked Insights has looked at the tweets and thinks that A:AOU will open at about $240 million, besting Avengers $207 milion.
Brugueras says Networked Insights classifies the social web. Every tweet and post is measured according to 15,000 identifiers, including emotions such as excitement, disgust, horror, and so on. The more emotion detected in the post, the more likely it indicates intent.
Twitter provides the most intelligence. “When we work with studios, we have data on 3 million blogs, YouTube, Disqus, WordPress,” Brugeras says. “We account for conversation on all those platforms as well as Wikipedia page views. Each of them adds value. But Twitter is the kingpin and offers the most value.”
Networked Insights studied 400 films dating to 2012 and found that, on average, a positive tweet lifts opening weekend box-office receipts by $560.
And not to keep banging that drum, but its also suggested that the Black Widow-centric trailer recently released has made this a hit with a broad-based audience: the opening weekend crowd is expected to be about 42% female and 58% male. Well within all of the data we’ve been crunching here
for some time.
However, A:AOU’s reign at the top may be short-lived. There’s this little thing called Star Wars: The Force Awakens coming later this year, and people seem to have been tweeting themselves senseless about it. Either way, the Mouse is smiling.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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Avengers: Age of Ultron launches the Summer movie season on May 1st, but before that the Marvel synergy machine rolls out across every facet from publishing to video games.
The Avengers will face the full force of Ultron and his Pymtech robots in the match three puzzle game Marvel Puzzle Quest. Players will have to rally their heroes in a marathon battle against one of humanity’s greatest digital threats. In addition to the story event; the Scarlet Witch will be making her in-game debut. Wanda, will be the first mission reward when the content launches April 24. Also in the works for player rewards will be Hulkbuster Iron Man.
Marvel recently did an interview with D3Publisher Producer Joe Fletcher where he dropped even more hints on what’s coming up soon for Marvel Puzzle Quest. The game is free to download on iOS and Android devices.
Later on this month Marvel’s free to play, MMO Marvel Heroes 2015 will get Ultron content of its own. The game will see the addition of the MCU’s version of The Vision. He comes complete with a unique skill set that revolves around his solar jewel, but that’s not all. Vision will also be able to control tech based enemies, effectively turning them into his own private army.
The new content will also see the rest of the Avengers get MCU based costumes. You can play Marvel Heroes online here. The game’s website also debuted the latest TV spot which begins airing today.
Publisher Aspen Comics, in partnership with Sony Entertainment, launched a series of custom PlayStation themes based on three of their popular series: Fathom, Soulfire, and Executive Assistant: Iris. Both the Fathom and Soulfire theme sets feature art exclusively by Aspen Comics founder Michael Turner with colors by Peter Steigerwald. The Executive Assistant: Iris theme set contains the work of pencilers Joe Benitez, Micah Gunnell, and Eduardo Francisco, with colors also by Steigerwald.
Each theme package features three unique skins to customize your PlayStation background. These themes are available for purchase at the PlayStation Store. Note, themes are currently only for PS3 systems.
Comics publishers take note, this is an awesome way to promote books and events.
Last weekend saw the gameplay debut of EA’s Star Wars Battlefront. Not to be outdone, Konami, the company behind the Metal Gear franchise, released a Star Wars shooter of their own. Konami and LucasArts’ free-to-play, card-based game Star Wars: Force Collection now includes a mini-game homage to the company’s classic run-and-gun shooter, Contra.
This side scroller puts Chewie and his trademark bowcaster on the forest moon of Endor and an Imperial base in a battle against Stormtroopers. Star Wars: Force Collection is available for free on Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store. Check out the video below to see the game in action.
Are you ready for your soda cans, fast food, and urinal cakes to be dominated by all things Avengers? What other games should mashup with Star Wars?
The 2015 Eisner Award nominations are out, and let the debate begin. It was the Year of the Woman but also the year of the returning hero, as such new hits as Ms. Marvel, Bandette and Saga les this year’s Eisner award nominations; but some old warhese and variations on the same also got multiple recognition including Astro City, Sandman: Overture and IDW’s Little Nemo in Slumberland. (Locust Moon’s oversized volume also got two noms.) DC/Vertigo led 14 solo nominations and 4 shared. Marvel had 12 solo, 6 shared and Fantagraphics 15.
In perhaps a little bit of a surprise, the year’s most honored books–Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant, This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki and Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann and KerasCöeet—garnered one nomination each.
In non-news, Todd Klein was nominated for Best Letterer and Alex Ross for Best Cover Artist.
This year’s judging panel—comics retailer Carr DeAngelo (Earth-2 Comics, Los Angeles, CA), librarian/educator Richard Graham (University of Nebraska–Lincoln), Eisner Award–winning author Sean Howe (Marvel Comics: The Untold Story), educator/author Susan Kirtley (Portland State University), Comic-Con International committee member Ron McFee, and writer/editor Maggie Thompson (Comic-Con’s Toucan blog, Diamond’s Scoop newsletter)—deleted one category this year, Best Adaptation from Another Medium.
Voting will be held online and the awards presented Friday, July 10 at Comic-Con International.
Best Short Story
“Beginning’s End,” by Rina Ayuyang, muthamagazine.com
“Corpse on the Imjin!” by Peter Kuper, in Masterful Marks: Cartoonists Who Changed the World (Simon & Schuster)
“Rule Number One,” by Lee Bermejo, in Batman Black and White #3 (DC)
“The Sound of One Hand Clapping,” by Max Landis & Jock, in Adventures of Superman #14 (DC)
“When the Darkness Presses,” by Emily Carroll, http://emcarroll.com/comics/darkness/
Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)
Astro City #16: “Wish I May” by Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson (Vertigo/DC)
Beasts of Burden: Hunters and Gatherers, by Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson (Dark Horse)
Madman in Your Face 3D Special, by Mike Allred (Image)
Marvel 75th Anniversary Celebration #1 (Marvel)
The Multiversity: Pax Americana #1, by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely (DC)
Best Continuing Series
Astro City, by Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson (Vertigo)
Bandette, by Paul Tobin & Colleen Coover (Monkeybrain)
Hawkeye, by Matt Fraction & David Aja (Marvel)
Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples (Image)
Southern Bastards, by Jason Aaron & Jason Latour (Image)
The Walking Dead, by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, & Stefano Gaudiano (Image/Skybound)
Best Limited Series
Daredevil: Road Warrior, by Mark Waid & Peter Krause (Marvel Infinite Comics)
Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland, by Eric Shanower & Garbriel Rodriguez (IDW)
The Multiversity, by Grant Morrison et al. (DC)
The Private Eye, by Brian K. Vaughan & Marcos Martin (Panel Syndicate)
The Sandman: Overture, by Neil Gaiman & J. H. Williams III (Vertigo/DC)
Best New Series
The Fade Out, by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips (Image)
Lumberjanes, by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson, & Brooke A. Allen (BOOM! Box)
Ms. Marvel, by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona (Marvel)
Rocket Raccoon, by Skottie Young (Marvel)
The Wicked + The Divine, by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie (Image)
Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7)
BirdCatDog, by Lee Nordling & Meritxell Bosch (Lerner/Graphic Universe)
A Cat Named Tim And Other Stories, by John Martz (Koyama Press)
Hello Kitty, Hello 40: A Celebration in 40 Stories, edited by Traci N. Todd & Elizabeth Kawasaki (VIZ)
Mermin, Book 3: Deep Dives, by Joey Weiser (Oni)
The Zoo Box, by Ariel Cohn & Aron Nels Steinke (First Second)
Best Publication for Kids (ages 8-12)
Batman Li’l Gotham, vol. 2, by Derek Fridolfs & Dustin Nguyen (DC)
El Deafo, by Cece Bell (Amulet/Abrams)
I Was the Cat, by Paul Tobin & Benjamin Dewey (Oni)
Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland, by Eric Shanower & Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse, by Art Baltazar & Franco (DC)
Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17)
Doomboy, by Tony Sandoval (Magnetic Press)
The Dumbest Idea Ever, by Jimmy Gownley (Graphix/Scholastic)
Lumberjanes, by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson, & Brooke A. Allen (BOOM! Box)
Meteor Men, by Jeff Parker & Sandy Jarrell (Oni)
The Shadow Hero, by Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Liew (First Second)
The Wrenchies, by Farel Dalrymple (First Second)
Best Humor Publication
The Complete Cul de Sac, by Richard Thompson (Andrews McMeel)
Dog Butts and Love. And Stuff Like That. And Cats. by Jim Benton (NBM)
Groo vs. Conan, by Sergio Aragonés, Mark Evanier, & Tom Yeates (Dark Horse)
Rocket Raccoon, by Skottie Young (Marvel)
Superior Foes of Spider-Man, by Nick Spencer & Steve Lieber (Marvel)
Best Digital/Web Comic
Bandette, by Paul Tobin & Colleen Coover, Monkeybrain/comiXology.com
Failing Sky by Dax Tran-Caffee, http://failingsky.com
The Last Mechanical Monster, by Brian Fies, http://lastmechanicalmonster.blogspot.com
Nimona, by Noelle Stephenson, http://gingerhaze.com/nimona/comic
The Private Eye by Brian Vaughan & Marcos Martin http://panelsyndicate.com/
In the Dark: A Horror Anthology, edited by Rachel Deering (Tiny Behemoth Press/IDW)
Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream, edited by Josh O’Neill, Andrew Carl, & Chris Stevens (Locust Moon)
Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It, edited by Ann Ishii, Chip Kidd, & Graham Kolbeins (Fantagraphics)
Masterful Marks: Cartoonists Who Changed the World, edited by Monte Beauchamp (Simon & Schuster)
To End All Wars: The Graphic Anthology of The First World War, edited by Jonathan Clode & John Stuart Clark (Soaring Penguin)
Best Reality-Based Work
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast (Bloomsbury)
Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories, by MariNaomi (2d Cloud/Uncivilized Books)
El Deafo, by Cece Bell (Amulet/Abrams)
Hip Hop Family Tree, vol. 2, by Ed Piskor (Fantagraphics)
Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood, by Nathan Hale (Abrams)
To End All Wars: The Graphic Anthology of The First World War, edited by Jonathan Clode & John Stuart Clark (Soaring Penguin)
Best Graphic Album—New
The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, by Stephen Collins (Picador)
Here, by Richard McGuire (Pantheon)
Kill My Mother, by Jules Feiffer (Liveright)
The Motherless Oven, by Rob Davis (SelfMadeHero)
Seconds, by Bryan Lee O’Malley (Ballantine Books)
This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki (First Second)
Best Graphic Album—Reprint
Dave Dorman’s Wasted Lands Omnibus (Magnetic Press)
How to Be Happy, by Eleanor Davis (Fantagraphics)
Jim, by Jim Woodring (Fantagraphics)
Sock Monkey Treasury, by Tony Millionaire (Fantagraphics)
Through the Woods, by Emily Carroll (McElderry Books)
Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips (at least 20 years old)
Winsor McCay’s Complete Little Nemo, edited by Alexander Braun (TASCHEN)
Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan: The Sunday Comics, 1933–1935, by Hal Foster, edited by Brendan Wright (Dark Horse)
Moomin: The Deluxe Anniversary Edition, by Tove Jansson, edited by Tom Devlin (Drawn & Quarterly)
Pogo, vol. 3: Evidence to the Contrary, by Walt Kelly, edited by Carolyn Kelly & Eric Reynolds (Fantagraphics)
Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse, vols. 5-6, by Floyd Gottfredson, edited by David Gerstein & Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)
Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books (at least 20 Years Old)
The Complete ZAP Comix Box Set, edited by Gary Groth, with Mike Catron (Fantagraphics)
Steranko Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Artist’s Edition, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)
Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: Trail of the Unicorn, by Carl Barks, edited by Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)
Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: The Son of the Son, by Don Rosa, edited by David Gerstein (Fantagraphics)
Walt Kelly’s Pogo: The Complete Dell Comics, vols. 1–2, edited by Daniel Herman (Hermes)
Witzend, by Wallace Wood et al., edited by Gary Groth, with Mike Catron (Fantagraphics)
Best U.S. Edition of International Material
Beautiful Darkness, by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët (Drawn & Quarterly)
Blacksad: Amarillo, by Juan Díaz Canales & Juanjo Guarnido (Dark Horse)
Corto Maltese: Under the Sign of Capricorn, by Hugo Pratt (IDW/Euro Comics)
Jaybird, by Lauri & Jaakko Ahonen (Dark Horse/SAF)
The Leaning Girl, by Benoît Peeters & François Schuiten (Alaxis Press)
Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia
All You Need Is Kill, by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Ryosuke Takeuchi, Takeshi Obata & yoshitoshi ABe (VIZ)
In Clothes Called Fat, by Moyoco Anno (Vertical)
Master Keaton, vol 1, by Naoki Urasawa, Hokusei Katsushika, & Takashi Nagasaki (VIZ)
One-Punch Man, by One & Yusuke Murata (VIZ)
Showa 1939–1955 and Showa 1944–1953: A History of Japan, by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)
Wolf Children: Ame & Yuki, by Mamoru Hosoda & Yu (Yen Press)
Jason Aaron, Original Sin, Thor, Men of Wrath (Marvel); Southern Bastards (Image)
Kelly Sue DeConnick, Captain Marvel (Marvel); Pretty Deadly (Image)
Grant Morrison, The Multiversity (DC); Annihilator (Legendary Comics)
Brian K. Vaughan, Saga (Image); Private Eye (Panel Syndicate)
Willow Wilson, Ms. Marvel (Marvel)
Gene Luen Yang, Avatar: The Last Airbender (Dark Horse); The Shadow Hero (First Second)
Sergio Aragonés, Sergio Aragonés Funnies (Bongo); Groo vs. Conan (Dark Horse)
Charles Burns, Sugar Skull (Pantheon)
Stephen Collins, The Giant Beard That Was Evil (Picador)
Richard McGuire, Here (Pantheon)
Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo: Senso, Usagi Yojimbo Color Special: The Artist (Dark Horse)
Raina Telgemeier, Sisters (Graphix/Scholastic)
Adrian Alphona, Ms. Marvel (Marvel)
Mike Allred, Silver Surfer (Marvel); Madman in Your Face 3D Special (Image)
Frank Quitely, Multiversity (DC)
François Schuiten, The Leaning Girl (Alaxis Press)
Fiona Staples, Saga (Image)
Babs Tarr, Batgirl (DC)
Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)
Lauri & Jaakko Ahonen, Jaybird (Dark Horse)
Colleen Coover, Bandette (Monkeybrain)
Mike Del Mundo, Elektra (Marvel)
Juanjo Guarnido, Blacksad: Amarillo (Dark Horse)
J.H. Williams III, The Sandman: Overture (Vertigo/DC)
Best Cover Artist
Darwyn Cooke, DC Comics Darwyn Cooke Month Variant Covers (DC)
Mike Del Mundo, Elektra, X-Men: Legacy, A+X, Dexter, Dexter Down Under (Marvel)
Francesco Francavilla, Afterlife with Archie (Archie); Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight (Dark Horse); The Twilight Zone, Django/Zorro (Dynamite); X-Files (IDW)
Jamie McKelvie/Matthew Wilson, The Wicked + The Divine (Image); Ms. Marvel (Marvel)
Phil Noto, Black Widow (Marvel)
Alex Ross, Astro City (Vertigo/DC); Batman 66: The Lost Episode, Batman 66 Meets Green Hornet (DC/Dynamite)
Laura Allred, Silver Surfer (Marvel); Madman in Your Face 3D Special (Image)
Nelson Daniel, Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland, Judge Dredd, Wild Blue Yonder (IDW)
Lovern Kindzierski, The Graveyard Book, vols. 1-2 (Harper)
Matthew Petz, The Leg (Top Shelf)
Dave Stewart, Hellboy in Hell, BPRD, Abe Sapien, Baltimore, Lobster Johnson, Witchfinder, Shaolin Cowboy, Aliens: Fire and Stone, DHP (Dark Horse)
Matthew Wilson, Adventures of Superman (DC); The Wicked + The Divine (Image), Daredevil, Thor (Marvel)
Joe Caramagna, Ms. Marvel, Daredevil (Marvel)
Todd Klein, Fables, The Sandman: Overture, The Unwritten (Vertigo/DC); Nemo: The Roses of Berlin (Top Shelf)
Max, Vapor (Fantagraphics)
Jack Morelli, Afterlife with Archie, Archie, Betty and Veronica, etc. (Archie)
Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo: Senso, Usagi Yojimbo Color Special: The Artist (Dark Horse)
Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism
Alter Ego, edited by Roy Thomas (TwoMorrows)
Comic Book Creator, edited by Jon B. Cooke (TwoMorrows)
Comic Book Resources, edited by Jonah Weiland, www.comicbookresources.com
Comics Alliance, edited by Andy Khouri, Caleb Goellner, Andrew Wheeler, & Joe Hughes, www.comicsalliance.com
tcj.com, edited by Dan Nadel & Timothy Hodler (Fantagraphics)
Best Comics-Related Book
Comics Through Time: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas (4 vols.), edited by M. Keith Booker (ABC-CLIO)
Creeping Death from Neptune: The Life and Comics of Basil Wolverton, by Greg Sadowski (Fantagraphics)
Genius Animated: The Cartoon Art of Alex Toth, vol. 3, by Dean Mullaney & Bruce Canwell (IDW/LOAC)
What Fools These Mortals Be: The Story of Puck, by Michael Alexander Kahn & Richard Samuel West (IDW/LOAC)
75 Years of Marvel Comics: From the Golden Age to the Silver Screen, by Roy Thomas & Josh Baker (TASCHEN)
Best Scholarly/Academic Work
American Comics, Literary Theory, and Religion: The Superhero Afterlife, by A. David Lewis (Palgrave Macmillan)
Considering Watchmen: Poetics, Property, Politics, by Andrew Hoberek (Rutgers University Press)
Funnybooks: The Improbable Glories of the Best American Comic Books, by Michael Barrier (University of California Press)
Graphic Details: Jewish Women’s Confessional Comics in Essays and Interviews, edited by Sarah Lightman (McFarland)
The Origins of Comics: From William Hogarth to Winsor McCay, by Thierry Smolderen, tr. by Bart Beaty & Nick Nguyen (University Press of Mississippi)
Wide Awake in Slumberland: Fantasy, Mass Culture, and Modernism in the Art of Winsor McCay, by Katherine Roeder (University Press of Mississippi)
Best Publication Design
Batman: Kelley Jones Gallery Edition, designed by Josh Beatman/Brainchild Studios (Graphitti/DC)
The Complete ZAP Comix Box Set, designed by Tony Ong (Fantagraphics)
Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream, designed by Jim Rugg (Locust Moon)
Street View, designed by Pascal Rabate (NBM/Comics Lit)
Winsor McCay’s Complete Little Nemo, designed by Anna Tina Kessler (TASCHEN)
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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Famed designer Anna Sui recently did an amazing Sailor Moon collab and now she’s released a line of manga-infused accessories inspired by Ryoko Ikeda (The rose of Versailles), Osamu Tezuka (Princess Knight, Yunico), Rumiko Takahashi (Urusei Yatsura), Ai Yazawa (Paradise Kiss), Akiko Higashimura (Princess Jellyfish), and Mineo Maya (Patalliro!)
While you empty out your drool buckets I must report the devastating news that this line will only be available in Japan. Console yourself by knowing you probably couldn’t afford it any way. (One of the Sailor Moon purses goes for nearly $800 on ebay. Sob sob.)
Just in case you happen to be going to Japan next month:
Pricing has yet to be announced for the items but the first place where they’ll become available is the Shinjuku branch of department store Isetan in Tokyo, where the Anna Sui manga shop will be open from May 6-10, followed by Laforet Harajuku, also in Tokyo, from May 15-28. The Anna Sui manga tour then moves to Tokyo’s Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi (May 20-26), Nagoya Parco (May 20-31), and Osaka Lucua 1100 (May 20-June 2).
What is Dynamite’s announcement for today? A Red Sonja one shot reuniting talents from her run since her 1973 debut, including Roy Thomas, Gail Simone, Luke Lieberman, and Eric Trautmann, along with writer Cullen Bunn and artists Dave Acosta and Rich Buckler. Because when it’s a character’s 42nd birthday, it’s time to celebrate with classic brokeback.
Here’s a startling fact: Although most often associated with the Conan the Barbarian oeuvre, Red Sonja, as “The She-Devil with a Sword” was actually created by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith in an issue of Conan. The character was based on a short story by Conan creator Robert E. Howard called “The Shadow of the Vulture” that featured a character called red Sonya of Rogatine. It was Thomas who figured out how to add her to the Conan mythos.
“It’s been very gratifying to me to witness the popularity of Red Sonja over the past four decades,” Thomas recalled. “It was a lucky day when I read a fan-article about Robert E. Howard that mentioned a story in which one of his historical heroes fought alongside a “Russian hell-cat” or whatever precisely the phrase was (her name wasn’t mentioned in the article), so that I obtained a copy of the long out-of-print story from the estate’s literary agent, Glenn Lord, and read it: ‘The Shadow of the Vulture.’ Red Sonya of Rogatine clearly had possibilities as a sometime companion/opponent for Conan in Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian comic, so I changed her name to the (to me) slightly more exotic Red Sonja, thereby making her a somewhat new character and adapted ‘Shadow’ as an issue of Conan. From that time on, she had a life of her own. Barry Windsor-Smith was inspired to do great things with her in the two Conan issues we did together in which she co-starred. Esteban Maroto, over in Spain, couldn’t resist giving her a different look, which came to be called ‘the iron bikini’ after I decided that should be what she wore from then on. John Buscema and Howard Chaykin did a handful of nice stories with her. Frank Thorne came aboard to virtually make her his own. And that was just in the 1970s! I suspect Red Sonja will be around for a long, long time!”
The Red Sonja #1973 one shot goes on sale in July.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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It’s time to hop in the “Way Way Back Machine”, all the way to 2007 when Mad Max mastermind George Miller had lined up his cast for Warner Bros’ first attempt at a big screen interpretation of the Justice League. Entitled Justice League: Mortal, Miller’s film would have seen new versions of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, The Flash, and Green Lantern team up to take on Max Lord. The important part of the tale: in the role of Green Lantern was Hip Hop Artist Common, who at the time only had one film and a few television appearances to his credit.
Justice League: Mortal died on the vine after entering pre-production, being tabled due to shooting location tax issues and poor buzz surrounding the script. Once The Dark Knight happened, it was all basically forgotten anyway.
Common went on to become an Oscar winning songwriter and appear in a number of films since, as well as having a starring role in the AMC drama Hell on Wheels. But, as Henry Cavill learned when he was cast as Superman after losing out on the role the first time to Brandon Routh, if a studio is hot on you, there’s always a chance they’ll find another spot.
Thusly, THR is reporting that Common has been cast in Suicide Squad in an undisclosed role. Production has already begun on the picture in Toronto, and the cast had their initial table read of the script already, so it’s possible that his role is not a particularly large one (for this film anyway) or the script is being rewritten to accommodate him. Who really knows? Bronze Tiger has been the popular guess among the superhero movie beat, but that seems like too easy a guess.
Perhaps John Stewart is making a pre-Justice League appearance? Wouldn’t that be funny?
Suicide Squad opens on August 5, 2016. Common is repped by CAA and Myman Greenspan.
Updated with art, above.
Little girls like superheroes! At least that’s what WB’s hopes with a while new universe created just for girls aged 6-12. As announced in a news blast the new line will come with heavy hitting partners, including Mattel, which will launch its first ever action figures for girls, Random House and Lego. Dolls for girls! Inconceivable!
While the news is a stunner for the long boy-focused DC Entertainment line, with the swift evolution of comics to a co-ed undertaking, it’s only good business. Plus, if you hang around Disney long enough you’ll notice two things: #1 girl-based licensing programs like Disney Princesses make billions of dollars. #2 people like superheroes.
Put em both together and you MIGHT have a winner.
The last time DC went after girls proper was the ill-fated Minx line, which launched in 2006 with a line of short graphic novels aimed at girls. Creative teams that were mostly male and distribution confusion made this generally a non-starter, but it was definitely ahead of its time. In years past pundit after pundit has wondered why there is no Wonder Woman program for young girls, as the aspirational nature of the character makes it a no brainer, and merch sells well to moms already. Well, the wondering is over.
In addition the announcement makes it clear that the “bildungsroman” genre will be well represented here—and so the giant pile of rejected “young Diana” pitches over the years from Tintin Pantoja, Ben Caldwell and many more are now ahead of their time.
One thing’s for certain: West Coast DC is going to be a VERY VERY DIFFERENT PLACE than East Coast DC.
WARNER BROS. AND DC ENTERTAINMENT
Beginning in Fall 2015, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Mattel join forces to launch DC Super Hero Girls, an exciting new universe of Super Heroic storytelling that helps build character and confidence, and empowers girls to discover their true potential. Featuring DC Comics’ most powerful and diverse line-up of female characters as relatable teens, DC Super Hero Girls will play out across multiple entertainment content platforms and product categories to create an immersive world.
Developed for girls aged 6-12, DC Super Hero Girls centers on the female Super Heroes and Super-Villains of the DC Comics universe during their formative years—prior to discovering their full super power potential. Featuring a completely new artistic style and aesthetic, DC Comics’ icons such as Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Bumble Bee, Poison Ivy, Katana and many more make their unprecedented teenaged introduction. Each character has her own storyline that explores what teen life is like as a Super Hero, including discovering her unique abilities, nurturing her remarkable powers and mastering the fundamentals of being a hero.
“DC Entertainment is home to the most iconic and well-known Super Heroes including Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Batgirl,” said Diane Nelson, President of DC Entertainment. “DC Super Hero Girls represents the embodiment of our long-term strategy to harness the power of our diverse female characters. I am so pleased that we are able to offer relatable and strong role models in a unique way, just for girls.”
The initial launch of DC Super Hero Girls in Fall 2015 will include an immersive digital experience, original digital content and digital publishing—providing opportunities for girls to interact with characters, learn about the storylines, and engage in customizable play. TV specials, made-for-videos, toys, apparel, books and other product categories will begin to rollout in 2016.
“Developing a Super Hero franchise exclusively for girls that includes all of the key components of a comprehensive entertainment experience—from content to consumer products—is something we are excited to be doing in conjunction with our great partners,” said Brad Globe, President of Warner Bros. Consumer Products. “It’s really an honor to be part of this cultural moment and to be delivering a concept so rooted in a relatable and empowered theme that the characters of DC Comics are uniquely able to present.”
As master toy licensee, Mattel is collaborating with DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Bros. Consumer Products on DC Super Hero Girls’ narrative creation, interactive digital activations and ultimately a toy line launching in 2016. Mattel category-leading firsts include a line of characters for the action figure category, an area of the industry that has been primarily developed with boys in mind, and fashion dolls featuring strong, athletic bodies that stand on their own in heroic poses.
“Partnering with the best and being the best partner is of paramount importance,” said Richard Dickson, President, Chief Operating Officer, Mattel. “Together with Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment, the DC Super Hero Girls franchise will further expand our already powerful girls portfolio. We know Super Hero is a culturally relevant theme and the DC Super Hero Girls franchise will engage and inspire girls, providing cues to explore heroic acts through play and into real life.”
The Random House Books for Young Readers imprint of Random House Children’s Books has been appointed the master publishing partner for the franchise and will be creating a portfolio of books that will bring the DC Super Hero Girls world to life, beginning in Spring 2016. Random House’s publishing program will be complemented by a series of original graphic novels from DC Entertainment. The LEGO Group will also be key to building the DC Super Hero Girls franchise, leveraging their experience and success engaging girls in creative construction play to bolster this universe through an array of LEGO® building sets designed to inspire girls’ imaginations. Additionally, consumer products partners around the world will be engaged in creating a merchandise line dedicated to DC Super Hero Girls across all key categories.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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After yesterday’s Valiant and Daredevil news items and today’s Eisner nominations, you’d think we could shut the door down on news for a while. But, surprise surprise, there’s still a few other items of note, here’s the rundown:
– Joss Whedon, while on the press circuit for next week’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, held court with Buzzfeed, and in a pretty revealing interview about his time at Marvel that is well worth reading, he happened to elaborate on his feelings regarding Edgar Wright‘s departure from Ant-Man:
I thought the script was not only the best script that Marvel had ever had, but the most Marvel script I’d read. I had no interest in Ant-Man. [Then] I read the script, and was like, Of course! This is so good! It reminded me of the books when I read them. Irreverent and funny and could make what was small large, and vice versa. I don’t know where things went wrong. But I was very sad. Because I thought, This is a no-brainer. This is Marvel getting it exactly right. Whatever dissonance that came, whatever it was, I don’t understand why it was bigger than a marriage that seemed so right. But I’m not going to say it was definitely all Marvel, or Edgar’s gone mad! I felt like they would complement each other by the ways that they were different. And, uh, somethin’ happened.
One you hear Whedon make a statement like that, it’s hard not to wonder what could have been (not that many weren’t already). I’ve long held that parting ways with Edgar Wright was one of the biggest missteps Marvel has made thus far and the loss of his idiosyncratic take on Scott Lang would be felt pretty heavily come this July. But, movies have to be seen before you can judge them, and we’ll find out soon enough.
On that note, Avengers: Age of Ultron is currently sitting at 84% on Rotten Tomatoes with 49 reviews in. If that score holds, it’ll put the film just below Iron Man (93%), The Avengers (92%), Guardians of the Galaxy (91%), and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (89%) in the Marvel canon, if you care about that kind of thing.
– One more Ultron related note, those of you who are aspiring to be professionals in the field of journalism may not want to follow the example set by Krishnan Guru-Murthy from Britain’s Channel 4 news, whose junket press questions caused Robert Downey Jr. to walk out of the interview:
Seriously, save the hard hitting stuff for when it’s warranted and expected, not in promotional interviews for a superhero film.
– The third Star Trek film in the rebooted franchise now has a rumored title: Star Trek Beyond. The rumor comes via TrekMovie who discovered Paramount’s recent MPAA registration of the title. To be honest, I don’t love it, but it’s also a good sight better than Star Trek Into Darkness, which was an awful pun. At the very least, perhaps this ensures that exploration will be the key factor for the new Star Trek entry.
– With True Detective Season 2 just a couple of months away, HBO has released some ominous looking motion posters via the show’s official twitter feed:
– And finally, in a fun little piece, here’s what this Summer’s big blockbuster releases would look like in 90’s VHS form. Oh, do I ever miss Blockbuster, until I think about the late fees and scrambling to get the latest video tapes.
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Story: Jeff King
Art: Stephen Segovia
Colors: Aspen MLT
Inks: Jason Paz
Letters: Travis Lanham
Publisher: DC Comics
We’re about a quarter of the way through DC Comics event, Convergence. So far we’ve seen a lot of xenophobic worlds bent on destroying one another at the behest of Brianiac’s global caretaker Telos in all the satellite books. Seeing, literally, the exact same threatening words from Telos in multiple books is making that premise wear a bit thin. The event’s spine series has a little more going on than those titles, but we’re at a point where Convergence needs to punch it to fifth gear. So why is it starting to feel like it’s stuck in second?
After saving the mysterious Deimos in the last issue, the survivors of Earth-2 will follow him to the bowels of the planet in order to discover the key to stopping Telos evil multiversal Tijuana cockfight. Meanwhile, Dick Grayson and Thomas Wayne who, without spoiling events, are in for the fight of their lives against a small army of Bruce Wayne’s most formidable nemeses. It’s this part of the story that carries the tension and climax of this chapter to an ending that, while predictable, is so far the series biggest moment.
Sure there are a few problems with the pacing and dialogue in the issue. In fact, it feels like Convergence #3 is unintentionally a two-act book with it not introducing anything new. There’s a heavy sense of over explaining things in the front half of the book while the second half moves too quick to the dramatic finish. I can forgive most of these problems because Stephen Segovia’s art is lavish action. The fight scenes and scale of Convergence have been on point art wise for the series, but the plot needs to keep up or it runs the risk of becoming ineffectual.
Convergence began with surprising promise from its zero issue. It played on the powerful force of nostalgia to get readers in touch with parts of the DC universe they’ve sorely missed. While powerful, nostalgia alone can’t carry an event. Issue three moves the narrative along more than any chapter thus far, but for being this far in, with this many orbiting tie-in books; the stakes need to have more weight by better defining the threat of Telos. If it’s not an Earth 2: Society post Convergence prequel, it needs to start showing it by actually having the different Earths start doing something.