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26. Interview: Colorist of BONE Steve Hamaker on Making His Own Webcomic PLOX

Scholastic’s editions of Jeff Smith’s BONE were what originally put Steve Hamaker on the map, and he’s only improved since his introduction to the comics scene. After coloring over a dozen BONE graphic novels, Hamaker went on to color Jeff Smith’s follow-up RASLStrangers in Paradise-related projects for Terry Moore and Scott Kurtz’s webcomic Table Titans. Recently he’s been producing his own webcomic named PLOX that shows off his illustrative chops as well as his honed coloring skills. I spoke to Steve about his background, workload and growth as a creator and storyteller.

 

Photo

Let’s start with the origin story. What brought you into comics?

I was working for a small toy design company that worked on license action figures.  We did toys for lots of properties, like Street Fighter, Sonic the Hedgehog, Speed Racer, and BONE.  I was the designer on BONE, so that’s where I met Jeff Smith.  He hired me away from that job, basically the day I was being downsized, so it worked out perfectly.

Was coloring comics always the goal?

Actually no.  I’ve always wanted to make my own comics.  The toy design thing was a stepping stone, but I really did enjoy that as a creative career.  Jeff inspired me and then taught me how to not only make comics, but how to self publish and promote them.

Line art by Jeff Smith.

You only work with a select few artists. Jeff Smith, Scott Kurtz, Terry Moore… How do you decide who to collaborate with?

Well, Jeff happened to be my boss, so that was an easy choice [laughs]. Coloring BONE was a huge undertaking for us both. It taught me every technique I use, and made me fall in love with the whole process. Terry Moore is a good friend of Jeff’s, so that was also very natural to work with him. I have been a fan of Scott Kurtz’s since he started PVP, so I stalked him early on, and once the coloring of BONE got more and more attention he took notice. We became friends along the way too, so that adds another layer to it. Coloring BONE was really the flood gates opening for people taking notice of me. I have a lot more choices to be selective, and that makes a difference in how I approach the work.

With those artists and with PLOX you’re aiming a little outside the typical Wednesday Warrior demographic. Do you have any desire to color a “mainstream” comic?

I would be interested, sure. It would have to be meaningful subject matter to me, so hopefully the right book will come along. Technically, I have done some work for DC with Jeff’s Shazam story, and Marvel was very nice when I colored a Thor story for Terry Moore. Ironically, the bigger publishers pay better, usually give cover credit, and even pay royalties in some cases. That’s not why I would do it, though. It’s just good to see them treating colorists in an increasing positive way.

An example of a reward for Patreon subscribers.

You mentioned marketing earlier. What kind of efforts do you make to market PLOX?

Right now it’s mostly social media, cross promotion with other online comics folks and general word-of-mouth. Terry Moore is running PLOX ads for me while I color his new SiP Kids mini series. Scott is obviously a great help with his PVP audience. He runs banners for my comic and I get to attend shows with him like GenCon and PAX.  The audience building has been one of the most incredible experiences in making this comic. Seeing the reader numbers increase, but more importantly knowing that so many of them are genuinely invested in the comic.

I’d say your Patreon campaign is another form of marketing.

Yes! I haven’t given Patreon quite the love and attention it deserves, but it’s a great tool for reaching your audience. It’s tough because I have to spend so much time coloring or creating PLOX that I can’t devote the time to making the Patreon really engaging. It’s a Catch-22 of sorts. I hope to change that in the future.

It must also be hard to use something ongoing like Patreon that it is to promote something one-off like Kickstarter.

Yes. I haven’t done a Kickstarter yet for PLOX, but I plan to. I want to make sure the Kickstarter for the collected book is really well organized and rewarding for the donors, and especially that they won’t have to wait two years to get their stuff! I will most likely tackle that when I am really close to being done with the first PLOX story.

When will that be?

Hopefully later this year. I keep writing new scenes that push the ending back.

Early Page 4

Now a question I’m sure you’ve been asked many times: what does “PLOX
mean?

I chose PLOX for the title from the idea of how our language has been affected and truncated on the internet.  The word ‘please’ change to ‘pls’, then to ‘plz’, then gamers would type so fast that it became ‘plx’. Then people started speaking over the internet with Teamspeak and Ventrilo, and they would phonetically say “plox”.

It also looked cool as a logo.

How is “please” central to the story?

The word isn’t important really. It was the idea of how the internet can affect things like language, and in the case of my story, relationships.

Hallucinations

Since the story is centered around a World of Warcraft-like game it would be easy to include a lot of fantasy visuals, but there aren’t many in PLOX. Was that intentional?

Starting out, I definitely envisioned that I would do in game cut-aways, like we do in Table Titans. After writing the first 3 or 4 chapters, I realized that the game isn’t the central ‘thing’ about the story, and it didn’t seem appropriate anymore.

The dream sequences were key for showing the in game avatars, however. That was a big breakthrough for me in writing this.

It’s really important to me that people can read PLOX and not have to know everything about Warcraft. The story is semi-autobiographical, so I felt like I had to include the game because it was tied up with my emotional state and daily life during that time.

It’s a story about three people. That’s hopefully compelling enough [laughs].  I’m half-kidding. I love that it has the gamer slant to it, and it affords a lot of opportunity for comedy, but I don’t want it to be a barrier of entry for my readers.

Chad would be a dick to his Bingo group down at the church. The game could be anything.

What do you like about the square page layout?

It looks good on the computer [laughs]. Honestly, I wanted the comic to take up more space.  I could have gone rectangular sideways, I realize.

The format was kind of mystical for me actually.

It kind of cracked my brain for writing and layout… in a good way! I was struggling with writing a comic page in the conventional format, and the square page just liked me more. I can see pages and scenes before I draw them much more easily.

Early Page 2

So you find the four or less panels a page more freeing than restricting?

Exactly.

I think a lot of people who come from more of a writing background would feel the opposite.

I wouldn’t doubt that. I’m not complaining, but It’s a very daunting task to write, draw and color a long form comic. It was a crucial thing for me to overcome in order to move ahead.

Oh, totally. I was just kind of musing on the differences. I feel like in the creative process artists (whether they be illustrators, writers, etc.) do best when they limit the number of things they take chances with. Like how you should only have one or two variables in a science experiment.

I think it’s different for everyone, to some extent, but I agree that limits can (not do) make better art.  You can agonize over every aspect of the writing or drawing, but in the end, you need to stop and share it with the world. That’s why God created editors and deadlines.

Homosexuality

Where are you kind of taking risks with PLOX?

I don’t have as many fears as I did when I started.  The risks were numerous. Can I write, draw, and color the whole story by myself, will people like my art… or my writing for that matter!

The character of Kim being gay was also scary for me.  I’m not gay, so I had this huge weight over my head that was telling me to abandon it.

The more I wrote and thought about each character the less scared I was. It sounds cheesy, I know, but they really started to tell me what they needed.

I think of a setting or a story from my own life, and the characters just kind of embed themselves into it like they were always there.

I know I’m not a really great writer, but I try to be honest with the story in every way.

I disagree with that last part, but well said! Last question: what’s inspiring you? Whether it be comics, stories, life, whatever.

Well, thank you. I’m proud of the writing, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t have an inflated ego that I am doing something new or groundbreaking.

The last few years since I got married and my son was born, my real life has been the most influential. I have art and music that I enjoy, but my friends and family are the ones that really push me forward.

Cover

You can check learn more about Steve at his website, follow him on Twitter, support his Patreon campaign and read PLOX at plox-comic.com.

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27. The All-New All-Different Avengers Begin to Take Shape

Instead of announcing another Secret Wars title, Marvel today opted to tease a bit more about their FCBD All-New All-Different Avengers issue. The cover follows the usual Marvel tease, which shows seven figures lunging towards a almost-unseen opponent. Five of the figures are blacked out in a way familiar to Marvel teasers, but two figures – Ms. Marvel and the female Thor are shown. “Who will be Earth’s Mightiest Heroes when the dust settles from Secret Wars? Find out here!” The issue has already been advertised to feature a back-up feature of Uncanny Inhumans by Charles Soule and Brandon Peterson.

Let’s start with the obvious shadowed figures. In the top center of the image is Sam Wilson (still Cap) and underneath him is a spidey silhouette but with this being “All-Different”, it’s most likely Miles Morales (If so, good for you Marvel!). Over on the left of the image we see an image shaped like a flying Japanese Motorcycle rider is probably Pepper Pots in her Rescue armor, or a female incarnation of Iron Man we’ll meet during Secret Wars. On the bottom right, the gauntlets and helmet point to Sam Alexander bringing Nova into these Avengers. Above him is probably the hardest figure to place. On first glance it looks like Dr. Doom flying with his cape comedically dropped over his head, but a few theories like Hyperion and Dr. Strange have made the rounds on the internet. In sticking with the concept of things we haven’t seen yet, I’d venture to say this could be some new incarnation of the Vision that’s going to be similar to what we’ll see in the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron movie.

All-New All-Different Avengers will be a FCBD offering in shops May 2, 2015.

All-New_All-Different_Avengers_Assemble_1

 

Let’s hear your theories on who these new Avengers are? Does it seem wise to already show the new Marvel U before Secret Wars even begins? Will Marvel announce the end of this new universe before they even destroy the old one?

9 Comments on The All-New All-Different Avengers Begin to Take Shape, last added: 3/26/2015
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28. Interview: Doctor Who: Revolutions of Terror

Titan---Doctor_Who_The_Tenth_Doctor_Vol_01_BookWhen David Tennant’s Doctor departed the hit BBC series in 2009, fans on both sides of the pond were stricken at seeing him go. Apparently, even the BBC was concerned the show didn’t have much of a future without it’s 10th Doctor and Russell T. Davies, the creative mind that resurrected the series in 2005. Luckily, Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor came on the scene with a new creative team and won scores of new fans for the long-running series. For those who still miss the 10th Doctor’s particular brand of swashbuckling, writer Nick Abadzis has penned the popular comic book adaptions that give fans a bit more of Tennant’s iconic turn. We talked with Abadzis about being a British expat in New York, and the first Mexican-American companion Gabby Gonzalez: also the TARDIS’ first artist.

Edie Nugent: How did you decide where in the 10th Doctor’s timeline to begin the story?

Nick Abadzis: That was part of the brief [from Titan], but it made sense to me. No-one really knows how long the Doctor has lived, and there’s always potential for setting stories between TV episodes or seasons or any kind of gap, but that end of the tenth Doctor’s life is largely undocumented, so there’s even more room than usual.

Nugent: What made you choose the Sunset Park neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY as the setting for Revolutions of Terror?

Abadzis: Because the books were initially aimed at the US market (albeit all Who fans) it was suggested it could be an American companion. I’m British, but I live in New York, so automatically I wanted to set some stories here. I live in Brooklyn, next door to Sunset Park as a matter of fact, and I happened to be cycling around there while I was thinking about all this. It’s a very Mexican and Chinese area and it struck me that it would be a lot of fun to have the TARDIS materialize in the park there, with that fantastic view of the bay and Manhattan. The idea for Gabby Gonzalez as a companion and Cindy Wu as her best friend came shortly after – it all sort of grew from there.

Nugent: How long have you lived in New York? You’re name-checking10D_03_PREVIEW actual anchors from NY1: the beloved new york city local cable news channel, and setting an alien invasion on the subway (finally!)–along with the wonderfully representative location art it feels very New York City.

Abadzis: Thank you. I’ve lived here for just over five years now, but I go back a long way with this city. I first came here in the early eighties when I was a kid – my oldest friend is from Westchester County and eventually he moved into an apartment on the Upper West Side around 72nd St. and I visited him a lot as a teenager. So NYC has always been a big part of my personal mythology. See also my strip Hugo Tate from Deadline magazine.
The NY subway is overdue for an alien invasion, no? The London Underground had the second Doctor rooting out an infestation of Yeti down there. Cybermen on the F train – now, there’s a thought…
Nugent: So did the idea to set the story in Sunset Park come first, and lead to the development of Gabby Gonzalez as a companion? Or was it the other way around?
Abadzis: I think they occurred concurrently. Gabby assumed a character very, very rapidly in my mind… I was bouncing ideas at Andrew James, the Titan Comics Doctor Who editor, and Robbie Morrison, one of my co-writers, and once I had the idea for Gabby I really went for it; I really wanted to write this character, her family and friends. It all sort of cohered. When that happens, as a writer, as a storyteller, you listen to those instincts and you go for it.
Nugent: It’s so wonderful to see some real diversity in companions for the Doctor. What about Gabby stuck out to you most as first, that defined who she is? The kind of energy & dynamic she brings to the TARDIS?
Abadzis: There’s probably a lot of me in her – first generation, immigrant parents, their children are of the country they’re born into rather than the old one, but at the same time, to a certain extent, she’s bound by the constraints and expectations of family. She’s very open-minded, she wants to get out there and really live, experience things, so she chafes a bit at what’s expected of her. These are not uncommon traits; I’m sure they’re recognizable to many readers…
She’s also creative, she lives by her instincts as well as her intelligence (which is both emotional and intellectual) but, other than Turlough, a companion of the fifth Doctor’s, I’m not sure there’s been an artist per se onboard the TARDIS before. This seemed like a good way of availing ourselves of the language of comics and at the same time giving Gabby a distinctive voice, a way of recording all she sees and experiences.
Also of course, I must just say, once the initial character sketches started coming in from Elena… that just sealed it. Gabby was there. Elena had loads of little visual ideas about how to bring about these characteristics of Gabby’s, embed them in her visually and it was beautiful to see Gabby come alive. You should’ve seen all the work she put into trying out all these different hairstyles for her.
10D_04preview2Nugent: Well, unless you count the brief Van Gogh trip to see his future art gallery, I can’t think of any TARDIS artists either. What you say about Elena’s art sealing the deal makes sense: Gabby feels like a very real person to me. The comment about her last name–Gonzalez—being used to taunt her on the playground by referring to the discontinued Loony Tunes character hit me right in the heart.
Abadzis: Doctor Who is about diversity in a way – if you dig, there’s been a lot of stories about intolerance in Doctor Who. The Daleks are essentially fascism personified.
Nugent: Oh yes, the Kaled’s from Genesis of the Daleks even wear the Hugo-Boss stye Nazi uniforms before they are turned by Davros to the Daleks we know and fear. I agree that Doctor Who often explores intolerance, but rarely have we seen it through the eyes of racially diverse companions.
Abadzis: True enough. Given that we had the opportunity to pick a companion from New York City, one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world, she could’ve come from almost any background…
For a while I played with the idea of naming her “Gabriella Gomez.” I kept Gonzalez because I was aware of the discourse over the animated character. Also, Gabby is named (sort of) after a friend of mine, a real-life mexican-American cartoonist and teacher, Gabrielle Gamboa. I always loved the way her name sounded, kinda reminded me of the LL thing in the Superman books – Los Lane, Lana Lang, if you see what I mean. Although I will probably refrain from naming other characters in a similar way.
Names of characters are important. I spend a lot of time getting that right.
Nugent: I really appreciated the inclusion of the song “Cielito Lindo” as a source of power. Looking at the lyrics it seems tailor-made for a Doctor Who alien invasion! 
Abadzis: Like I say though, when I was cycling through Sunset Park, I saw potential Gabriellas everywhere – I imagined the TARDIS landing there, and if the Doctor came out, who would he meet? One of the locals. When a character feels like she created herself (I’m romanticizing it), you have to go with it.
Nugent: How did you decide where Gabby would travel to on her inaugural TARDIS trip?
Abadzis: She wants to be an artist (she already is, she just doesn’t know it) and she asked the Doctor to teach her… so he decides to take her to an art gallery. Not just any art gallery mind, because the Doctor is a show-off… he wants to take her somewhere impossibly glamorous too, so that’s why he picks Ouloumos. he has a history with the place (of course).
Nugent: It was great to see the 10th Doctor falling through those MC Escher staircases after name-checking that the artist they visit as having become and adept at Logopolis. Did Classic Who of that era influence how you decided to tell this story?
Abadzis: All that stuff, those classic episodes, are in my head, so yes. Can’t quite recall where the idea of a block-transfer sculptor came from precisely, but I just thought it’d be fun to have someone who was trained on Logopolis be able to use similar abilities in a creative way. It gets out of hand, inevitably.
Zhe (the artist) has known the Doctor at least since his fourth incarnation, as you can tell by the portrait of him and Romana II on her wall.
Nugent: Does that place the start of the Doctor’s friendship with Zhe during that era?
Abadzis: From that you can infer that the Doctor has known Zhe a long time – s/he certainly seems to be very long-lived and from this adventure and that painting, we know that at least two incarnations have known her – probably more. I’m sure she really dug the sixth Doctor’s coat and I can certainly imagine her sharing a cocktail or two with the eighth Doctor.
But as to when precisely it takes place…? “All of time and space, my dear, all of time and space…”
Nugent: You penned a story about the 10th Doctor and Rose for Doctor Who Magazine almost 10 years ago. What was it like returning to the same character at this point in his “song” (or maybe “Coda” would be more appropriate)?
Abadzis: Yes, that was strange… that was the tenth Doctor’s debut adventure in comics, and at the point that it was written, no-one knew what he was goig to be like, how David Tennant would play him! I’d seen Tennant in things before, so I recall us basing his manner, his cadences a little bit on previous performances and also, fundamentally, it’s the Doctor, it’s the same man, so there are certain basics to his charcater that are common to all incarnations of the character.
It was really lovely to be asked to write him again… Of course, by this point, I knew everything about him, how he’d lived and regenerated, so I had a much better angle on how to approach it. In my mind, he’s still very much a living breathing character, his time has not ended, that song is still going strong. I think that’s the ebst way to approach it, because it makes the threats he comes across very real and all the more terrifying.
Time can be rewritten, don’t forget…
Nugent: The idea that a harsh critic can aid in transforming a creative spirit into a lethal monster is an interesting framework for a Who adversary, as is the fact that creatives can often be their own worst enemy; how did you decide on that idea?

Abadzis: It developed naturally out of the narrative. Originally, this was going to be a story about artists becoming subsumed into a wider, greater entertainment machine, about creatives servicing a voracious alien entity, but it was just too huge for two issues and, quite correctly, the BBC and Andrew, my editor, made me slim it down to something less epic. The element common to both versions was the block-transfer sculptor Zhe, who sounded like an interesting character, so I worked more on her. I had these very visual ideas about Giacometti-style sculptures coming to life and Elena drawing these and to a certain extent, when you get an idea like that, it suggests a story. And I was right, she did a great job there, with that whole sequence of the Doctor and Gabby’s journey up to Zhe’s mansion.

And Zhe is the ultimate artist in many ways – oversensitive, but full of empathy, creative but holding herself to high standards so that when she doesn’t meet them, she feels she’s failed. She’s kind of a reflection of the Doctor in some ways, which is probably why their friends – that, and he’s a real Renaissance man too, of course.
Nugent: How are you both feeling about the recent news that your comic story line will merge with that of the eleveth and twelfth Doctors this fall in a limited series to be written by Hugo-nominated Doctor Who television writer (and longtime who fanboy) Paul Cornell?
Abadzis: I can’t answer for Elena, but I’m fine with that! I’ve read (and watched) Paul’s work for many, many years and he really is among the greats of Doctor Who writers in my opinion. He wrote Human Nature (which, if you haven’t read the original novel featuring the seventh Doctor, go buy it now)! Multi-Doctor stories are part of the tradition of Doctor Who and I get the idea they’re tough to write, but you are in extremely good hands with Paul Cornell. He’ll write a blinder.
Nugent: Are there any tantalizing story clues or tidbits you can share with our Comics Beat readers from the upcoming issues of the 10th Doctor?
Abadzis:Let’s see… we have a new “big bad” on the way, a being who isn’t deliberately out to get the Doctor but simply by virtue of his very powerful presence upsets a lot of things, keeps them out of balance. He’s not even a villain exactly, he’s a almost a victim of circumstances himself who is weary with the universe and this huge weight of responsibility he has upon his shoulders. When he encounters the Doctor, he sees a solution to his problems and wants the Doctor to help him. But it’s not the kind of help the Doctor is inclined to give…
Doctor Who: Revolutions of Terror is available in comic shops on March 25, in bookstores March 31. For more information on Gabrielle Gamboa, the inspiration for companion Gabby Gonzalez, check out Gamboa’s website: http://www.gabriellegamboa.com/

 

 

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29. Get ready to binge Batman: The Brave and the Bold in one week (or less)

batmancover

It’s come to our attention that Batman: The Brave and the Bold will be leaving Netflix streaming on March 30.

Outrageous!

If you’re a Netflix-binge pro, you might be able to finish off the 3 seasons of this underrated show in the week left (and really, it’s more like 2.5 seasons, with season 3 being only a partial order). But if you’re not able to move that fast, we’ve pulled together a list of the best episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold so that you can catch the highlights before this one drops out of your queue.

Season 1

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Episode 3, Evil Under the Sea: It doesn’t get better on this show than Aquaman, and his debut episode is the perfect place to start. Aquaman episodes are consistently hilarious, and this one is no different – Batman foils a plot from Black Manta to conquer Atlantis, while Aquaman remains oblivious.

Episode 8, Fall of the Blue Beetle: This episode focuses on Blue Beetles, both the present incarnation of Jaime Reyes and his predecessor, Ted Kord, the second Blue Beetle. It’s interesting to see Batman struggle to accept Jaime as a replacement for Ted.

Episode 9, Journey to the Center of the Bat: When Batman is stricken with disease by Chemo, the Atom and Aquaman shrink and fight the disease within Batman’s body. Aquaman befriends and rides a lymphocyte he names “platelet” – need we say more?

Episode 12, Deep Cover for Batman: Batman takes the place of Owlman on a parallel Earth, turning to a parallel world version of his usual villains and finding them as allies.

Episode 13, Deep Cover for Owlman: While Batman is off pretending to be Owlman on a parallel Earth, it turns out that Owlman has been posing as Batman and has gone on a crime spree. The flip side to the previous episode, Batman returns to find himself considered a villain and hunted by his usual allies.

Episode 15, Trials of the Demon: Batman time travels to 19th century London to help Jason Blood, who’s been framed for crimes committed by Jim Craddock. The twist to this one is that the two “World’s Greatest Detectives” join forces when Sherlock Holmes and Watson assist in the investigation. As long as you can handle Etrigan rhyming, this one’s a winner.

Episode 17, Menace of the Conqueror Caveman: Booster Gold episodes are usually great for much of the same reason Aquaman ones are: Batman plays the straight man to a humorous, egotistical sidekick.

Episode 19, Legends of the Dark Mite: Bat-Mite is the Q to Batman’s Picard, and his fifth dimensional powers allow him to express his fandom in painful ways. Bat-Mite is a recurring character on the series and plays a heavy role in the finale, so this character’s intro is worth watching.

Episode 25, Mayhem of the Music Meister: Featuring Neil Patrick Harris as the Music Meister, this is a musical episode and easily one of the best of the series.

 Season 2

batmanseason2

Episode 2, Long Arm of the Law: Plastic Man tries to keep his home life stable by taking Baby Plas to the museum,  only to be attacked by Kite Man. Batman tries to assist, but this episode sees Plastic Man’s past deeds catch up with him and threaten his family and wife, Ramona.

Episode 4, Aquaman’s Outrageous Adventure: Aquaman serves as the POV character here, and the episode centers on Aquaman’s boredom with his family vacation and secret attempts to escape and help battle evil during breaks. Again, Aquaman = the best.

Episode 9, The Super-Batman of Planet X: Batman travels through a wormhole and ends up in a distant planet called Zur-En-Arrh, where he goes to “Gothtropolis” and meets the Batman of this world. This is a sort of Superman-Batman mash-up, because Batman has super powers on this planet. The best part of this episode is that it stars Kevin Conroy as the voice of the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh. Double Batman! (there’s also the always great Clancy Brown and Dana Delany).

Episode 10, The Power of Shazam: With a title in homage to the 1990s Captain Marvel Comic, The Power of Shazam pits Captain Marvel against Black Adam and Doctor Sivana, along with Sivana’s wonderfully hilarious children.

Episode 11, Chill of the Night: This episode makes most best-of lists for this series, and has a guest star list featuring Adam West, Julie Newmar, Kevin Conroy, and Mark Hamill to boot.  When The Phantom Stranger and the Spectre make a bet on whether Bruce Wayne will kill the person who murdered his parents, Batman is guided through his painful past and comes to learn about his parents’ assassin, Joe Chill.

Episode 15, Requiem for a Scarlet Speedster: Featuring multiple incarnations of The Flash working in tandem with Batman to investigate Barry Allen’s death, this episode also guest stars John Wesley Shipp (star of the 1990s live-action The Flash) as Professor Zoom.

Episode 17, Menace of the Madniks: Recalling plot threads introduced in Season 1, this episode focuses on Booster Gold, who travels to the past to spend time with his now-deceased friend, Ted Kord (Blue Beetle). Both Batman and Booster Gold considered Ted a close friend, so their rivalry and possessiveness over his friendship was touching (and entertaining). It’s also a nice reminder that shows like this don’t have to shy away from confronting death.

Episode 18, Emperor Joker: This episode is kind of like The Edge of Tomorrow in that we get to see Batman die dozens of different ways at the hands of The Joker, who gains the powers of Bat-Mite.

Episode 19, The Criss Cross Conspiracy: One of the few problems with Batman: The Brave and the Bold is that it is primarily consumed with male characters. This episode isn’t exactly much different or particularly kind to women, unfortunately, but it’s still an amusing one – Batwoman and Batman switch bodies, and we get to see Diedrich Bader pull off some of his most comical voice acting.

Episode 21, Cry Freedom Fighters: In which Plastic Man finally gets his big heroic spotlight. Basically every Plastic Man related plot point in the series culminates here, and he gets to join his fellow Quality Comics stable-mates The Freedom Fighters, including a particularly “taken so straight it’s hilarious” version of Uncle Sam.

Episode 22, The Knights of Tomorrow: More or less, this is the Grant Morrison tribute episode, taking place in the future and giving viewers the set-up of his classic Batman and Robin run, with Dick as Batman and Damian Wayne (this time, the son of Bruce and Selina Kyle) as Robin, with even a little wink and nod to Damian’s future and one of the easter eggs of Batman #700.

Episode 23, Darkseid Descending: Set-up gloriously in the previous episode’s prelude, the oncoming threat of the hordes of Apokolips compels Batman, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter to reform the Justice League…and it ends up taking a shape that’s rather familiar to fans of the Giffen/DeMatteis iteration of the team. Wonderfully epic, this could have been/maybe should have been the finale to the second season.

Episode 25, The Malicious Mr. Mind: The best possible follow-up to a Captain Marvel/Shazam episode is one that includes the entire Marvel family, Mr. Mind, and the Monster Society of Evil. While many writers have struggled to make the fairly cheesy Marvel family “relevant” for today’s audiences, The Brave and The Bold creative team embraced everything that’s weird and wonderful about the old Beck/Binder comics and this episode is their ultimate tribute.

Season 3

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Episode 1, The Battle of the Superheroes: For better or worse, it’s hard not to notice the Superman shaped-hole that filled the entirety of series’ first two seasons (barring one brief flashback cameo), but with the third season’s premiere, viewers were treated to the best possible love letter to Superman’s Silver Age past. You get a giant Turtle Boy style Jimmy Olsen, Mr. Mxyzptlk, and some rather hilarious examples of “Superdickery”. Season 3 was, on the whole, not as successful as the brilliant second set of episodes before it, but this episode was a stone cold classic.

Episode 7, Sword of the Atom: Remember “Journey to the Center of the Bat” back in season 1? This is basically part 2 of that fantastic episode and once again sees Aquaman team up with (the new) Atom and shrink to microscopic size to save Batman.

Episode 9, Bold Beginnings: When Aquaman, Plastic Man, and Green Arrow get together, it’s a can’t lose combo. And sure to form, this story that details how each first met Batman not only superbly entertains, but also provides just a tiny bit of character backstory for Batman’s core three supporting cast.

Episode 13, Mitefall: Best. Finale. Ever.

Have fun!

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6 Comments on Get ready to binge Batman: The Brave and the Bold in one week (or less), last added: 3/24/2015
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30. MoCCA Announced programming with McCloud, Kominsky-Crumb and more

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MoCCA Fest has just announced its programming. With the festival of indie itself is set  for April 11-12th at a new venue, the Center 520, programming will be held a short walk away at the High Line Hotel at 180 Tenth Avenue and 20th Street.  Curated by Bill Kartalopoulos, the schedule includes several tie-ins to the current Alt-Weekly Comic shows up at the SOI, as well as three ticketed events, with Scott McCloud Aline Kominsky-Crumb and Raina Telgemeier. Tickets are free with MoCCA admission but you need to sign up at the SOI website now to reserve a space.

While the line-up of panelists is impressive, including the three above superstars and also Rebecca Mock, Annie Goetzinger,  Kim Deitch, Julia Wertz and many more; Kartalopoulos has lined up an equally erudite slate of panel moderators, drawn from NYC’s greater cultural world: MoMA curator Laura Hoptman; avant-garde poet and Ubuweb founder Kenneth Goldsmith; curator and Saul Steinberg Foundation managing director Patterson Sims; Hyperallergic senior editor Jillian Steinhauer; New York Times art director Alexandra Zsigmond, and more.

All in all, state of the comics art and as usual the problem is finding time to buy all the new comics while still attending all the great programming.

Here’s the complete line-up:

SATURDAY PROGRAMMING

12:30 pm / The Matthews Room of the High Line Hotel
Scott McCloud Q+A *

Scott McCloud is widely acclaimed as North American comics’ most influential theorist. His 1993 analysis-in-comics-form Understanding Comics is a staple of university classrooms, and has found application in other forms including interactive and interface design. Reinventing Comics addressed the form and economy of digital comics and issues of diversity within the comics field, and Making Comics offered a guidebook to constructing effective narrative work. He was the Guest Editor for The Best American Comics 2014. His most recent work is The Sculptor, a fictional graphic novel. Moderated by Bill Kartalopoulos.

* Reservations required.  RSVP by signing up for a ticket through the Society’s website.

12:30 pm / The Rusack Room of the High Line Hotel
Work in Progress

This is the ultimate sneak preview: Four artists will discuss graphic novels they are currently working on, showing pages yet-to-be-published from books yet-to-be-announced, and revealing material that lays bare their working methods. This session will offer a rare glimpse of work fresh from the drawing table, and will bring us directly into the processes of artists Kim Deitch, Sarah Glidden, Dash Shaw, and Julia Wertz, all of whom are currently working on new and surprising books. Moderated by Richard Gehr, author of I Only Read It for the Cartoons.

2:00 pm / The Matthews Room of the High Line Hotel
Aline Kominsky-Crumb Q+A *

Aline Kominsky-Crumb is one of the most significant artists to emerge from the underground comix movement of the 1960s and ’70s. Kominsky-Crumb fled an upbringing in Long Island, finishing a BFA at the University of Arizona and proceeding to San Francisco. She discovered underground comix and began drawing pioneering expressionistic, autobiographical work. After publishing with the Wimmen’s Comix collective, Kominksy-Crumb and Diane Noomin co-founded Twisted Sisters, which later became a pair of influential anthology books. She was the editor of Weirdo and has frequently collaborated with her husband, Robert Crumb. She will discuss her work in this special session with MoMA curator Laura Hoptman.

* Reservations required.  RSVP by signing up for a ticket through the Society’s website.

2:00 pm / The Rusack Room of the High Line Hotel
Building an Image

In this unique and insightful panel, a group of striking image-makers will peel back the layers behind the process of creating memorable images. Sam Bosma, Kali Ciesemier, andRebecca Mock will discuss the artistic labor behind their work, revealing both the technique and the thought process behind their images. Nathan Fox, a striking image-maker himself and the chair of SVA’s MFA in Visual Narrative program, will lead the discussion and also share his own working process.

3:30 pm / The Matthews Room of the High Line Hotel
Raina Telgemeier Q+A 
*
Raina Telgemeier has distinguished herself as the leading American artist producing graphic novels for younger readers. Her autobiographical graphic novel Smile has spent more than two years on the New York Times Graphic Books bestseller list, and her follow-up, Drama, has won the Stonewall Book Award among other distinctions. Most recently she has published a sequel to Smile titled Sisters, and Scholastic will soon republish in full color her earlier series ofBaby-Sitters Club comics adaptations. Telgemeier will discuss her work with School Library Journal reviews editor Luann Toth.

* Reservations required.  RSVP by signing up for a ticket through the Society’s website.

3:30 pm / The Rusack Room of the High Line Hotel
Plagiarism as Practice

The boundaries between inspiration and infringement are increasingly vague and increasingly contested in the post-internet era, even as we approach the centennial of Duchamp’s seminal masterpiece of appropriation, Fountain. Avant-garde poet and ubuweb founder Kenneth Goldsmith teaches Uncreative Writing at the University of Pennsylvania. He will discuss plagiarism as practice with comics artists Ilan Manouach, whose Katz re-presented Maus with all of the heads redrawn and sparked a legal action in France; Blaise Larmee, who has tested the limits of appropriation and impersonation online; and R. Sikoryak, whose Masterpiece Comics appropriate canonical literature and classic comics.

SUNDAY PROGRAMMING

12:30 pm / The Matthews Room of the High Line Hotel
Alt-Weekly Comics

Beginning with the Village Voice in the 1950s and peaking with a wave of publications in the 1980s and 1990s, alternative weekly newspapers spoke with an independent voice to local communities, and comics were a distinct part of those papers’ visual identities. Coinciding with the Alt-Weekly Comics exhibit currently on view at the Society of Illustrators, this panel will consider the phenomenon of alt-weekly comics with art director and editor Bob Newman (The Seattle Sun, The Rocket and The Village Voice) and cartoonists Ben Katchor, Michael Kupperman, and Mark Newgarden. Moderated by Bill Kartalopoulos.

12:30 pm / The Rusack Room of the High Line Hotel
Biography: The Lives of Artists

Memoir, non-fiction and biography have emerged as significant categories in comics. Comics about artists represent a special challenge: the cartoonist must represent the work of an artist through his or her own visual approach, revealing points of disjunction and harmony.Hyperallergic Senior Editor Jillian Steinhauer will discuss these issues with French comics legend Annie Goetzinger, whose Girl in Dior chronicles the first season of the storied fashion house; James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook, whose 7 Miles a Second was both a biography of and a collaboration with David Wojnarowicz; and Dutch cartoonist Barbara Stok, whose Vincent makes Van Gogh approachable through a style completely unlike his own.

2:00 pm / The Matthews Room of the High Line Hotel
We Hire Cartoonists

Cartoonists have often pursued split-careers as illustrators or other kinds of graphic artists in order to build stable careers. Increasingly, art directors and editors are hiring cartoonists to bring the entire capacity for visual narrative to editorial projects, especially online where new technologies offer another set of emerging techniques and formats. A panel of editors and art directors including Tablet’s Wayne Hoffman, Autostraddle’s Ali Osworth, and New York Times Art Director Alexandra Zsigmond have all frequently worked with cartoonists in a variety of ways, online and in print. They will talk about what they do, the innovations they’ve pursued, and what they look for in the work they commission.

2:00 pm / The Rusack Room of the High Line Hotel
Saul Steinberg 101

Saul Steinberg (1914-1999) occupies a unique place in cultural history. A popular modernist, his work as a cartoonist, illustrator and fine artist appeared on magazine covers and gallery walls. His work frequently referred to the iconography and conventions of cartooning and continues to fascinate with its inventive expression of sophisticated concepts through abstracted imagery and pure line. Cartoonist Austin English, multidisciplinary artist Richard McGuire, New Yorker art editor Françoise Mouly, and Morgan Library curator Joel Smith will discuss the lesson they’ve learned from Steinberg’s work with The Saul Steinberg Foundation’s Managing Director Patterson Sims.

3:30 pm / The Matthews Room of the High Line Hotel
R. Sikoryak and Neil Numberman Present: CAROUSEL for KIDS!

Acclaimed cartoonist R. Sikoryak brings a special KIDS’ edition of CAROUSEL, his long-running series of live comics readings and other projected pictures, to the MoCCA stage, co-hosted by Neil Numberman (Do NOT Build a Frankenstein!). Featuring Jon Chad (Leo Geo),Sam Henderson (Nickelodeon Magazine’s Scene But Not Heard), Kevin McCloskey (We Dig Worms!), Mark Newgarden & Megan Montague Cash (Bow Wow’s Nightmare Neighbor,Joey Fly: Private Eye), Nadja Spiegelman & Sergio García Sánchez (Lost in NYC), Raina Telgemeier (Sisters), and more! Stories, gags, audience participation, and more, for kids of all ages.

3:30 pm / The Rusack Room of the High Line Hotel
Comics and Disability

The rise of disability studies has prompted a non-hierarchical reconsideration of disability. In parallel, the emergence of “outsider art” has enlarged aesthetic possibilities within art, but not without introducing new category problems. This panel will trace emerging points of engagement between these issues and comics. Ilan Manouach will discuss Shapereader, his innovative 57-plate graphic novel for the blind. Anne-Françoise Rouche is the director of La “S” Grand Atelier in Vielsalm, Belgium, an arts center for persons with mental disabilities that organizes collaborations with contemporary artists. Frémok artist DoubleBob, who has participated in these projects, will join the discussion. Moderated by Bill Kartalopoulos.

 

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31. Oni announces Lion of Rora and Blood Feud

Two more of Oni’s clever March Madness PR event with two more new books announced:

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Lion of Rora is a graphic novel by Christos Gage (Netflix’s Daredevil, Avengers Academy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine), Ruth Fletcher Gage (Netflix’s Daredevil, Law and Order: SVU), and Jackie Lewis comes out on August 5th. It’s based on the true story of 17th century Italian Joshua Javanel who leads a persecuted Christian sect known as the Waldensians against the oppression of a tyrannical duke.

“The Waldensians are Ruth’s ancestors, so the story of Joshua Janavel is a personal and important one to us,” said Christos Gage in a statement. “But it’s also a universal tale of the struggle for freedom, family and a safe place to call home. Jackie Lewis has done an incredible job capturing both the epic scope of the battles and the small moments that convey Janavel’s struggle between the simple man of peace he wanted to be and the brilliant general he became. We couldn’t ask for a better presentation than what Oni has given Lion of Rora. ”

We’re guessing you had not been familiar with the story of the Waldensians before, but after reading this, you’ll know all about their story.

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• Oni’s main man Cullen Bunn is back with collaborators Drew Moss (Terrible Lizard), and Nick Filardi (Helheim, Brides of Helheim) with October’s Blood Feud a “Southern tale of vampires, necromancers, horrific spiders and family feuds that survive beyond the grave.” So add this one to the shelf of “southern gothic comics” along with Southern Bastards.

“Subtitled ‘A Vampire Yarn… With Spiders,’ Blood Feud is a book that means a lot to me on a lot of different levels,” says Bunn. “It’s a story that’s been with me for years, and the characters are, in one way or another, people who were important in my life, especially while I was growing up in rural North Carolina and Missouri. Spider Creek, the town in which this horrific little tale takes place, may be fictional, but it’s also very real. It draws bits and pieces from towns like Newton Grove and Dudley and Koshkonong and Thayer to form a place that might very well be the location for an invasion of blood-sucking demonic beasties. Blood Feud is also my chance to re-team with Drew Moss and Nick Filardi. This is a story of humor and horror in the vein of movies like Fright Night and Phantasm and Evil Dead 2, and I couldn’t think of two co-conspirators to bring this story to life!”

So there you go more good stuff coming from Oni and we haven’t filled out the brackets yet.

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32. Kids Comics Con set for April 25th in the Bronx

Capt KCC Says KCC 2015 Coming

Long before comics for younger readers were fashionable, there was Kids Comic Con, the brainchild of writer Alex Simmons. The ninth edition of the event will be held this year on April 25th at the Bronx Community College from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be comics guests, workshops, face painting and everything else needed for a fun family day.

All the info on the fest is presented below the fold.

The annual event continues KCC’s mission to encourage positivity through imagination and creativity, with special kid-targeted programming including drawing workshops, special presentations, cosplayers, panels and autograph signings by a variety of comics industry and children’s entertainment professionals.

“KCC’s primary goal is to promote reading, creativity, and exploration in kids’ lives,” KCC organizer Alex Simmons said. “We believe it’s so important that young people embrace a continuous flow of positive ideas, skills, and outlets for their thinking as well as self-esteem.”

 Guests already confirmed for the April 25th event include:

 

  • Alex Simmons (comics writer-playwright-educator, Archie, Scooby Doo, Tarzan)
  • Alitha Martinez (artist, Marvel, DC, Archie, etc.)
  • Louis Henry Mitchell (Sesame Street Workshop artist & art director)
  • Diana Leto (artist on Tarzan, My Little Pony, artist/co-creator of Halloween Legion)
  • Emilio Velez Jr. (artist/creator of The Dodgeball Teens)
  • Ray Felix (comics artist-creator/Bronx Heroes)
  • Gregory Garay (Visual Verbosity)
  • Joey Endres and Jesus Marquez (artists and co-creators, Space Scamps)
  • Jim Salicrup (Papercutz)
  • John-Marc Grob/JMG Studio (multimedia studio – FriendFish children’s books, comics, animation)
  • Matt Herring (comics author, and host of Secret Identity podcast )
  • Mark Mariano (Happyloo, Flabbergast creator-artist)
  • Paul Castiglia (comic writer and editor, Archie, DC, Dark Horse)
  • Pronto Comics (comics publishers)
  • Scary Monsters Nice Sprites
  • Tim Fielder (creator/animator of Matty’s Rocket)
  • Mike Lopez (educator, kids’ comics advocate)

 

Alex Simmons

Kics Comic Con founder Alex Simmons

An exciting new addition to this year’s programming will be role-playing card game tournaments featuring Yu-Gi-Oh! and Magic, the Gathering. The Yu-Gi-Oh! tournaments will be open to both Junior ($7 entry fee) and Expert ($12 entry fee) levels. Yu-Gi-Oh! contestants will receive one free booster pack with entry. The Magic tournament will be a Star City Games open trial. Both tournaments are sponsored by The Lair, the Bronx’s premiere comics and gaming store, “Where Collectors Dwell!” The tournaments are open to all ages and prizes will be given for both. Visit www.facebook.com/thelair1808 for more information.

More guests, panels, workshops and special presentations in the works for KCC 9 will be announced soon, including some one-of-a-kind, interactive experiences not to be missed!

Preceding the flagship event, on April 11 and 12 the KCC Road Show crew will travel to the Meadowlands, New Jersey to take part in the “Kids Love Comics Pavilion” at the first-ever East Coast Comic Con.

“The ‘Kids Love Comics Pavilion’ offers a wonderful opportunity for KCC to bring its ‘comics and kids: perfect together!’ message to the masses. The organizers of East Coast Comic Con are very supportive of kids’ comics and we appreciate the opportunity to exhibit there,” said Simmons.

KCC-affiliated guests for the East Coast Comic Con’s “Kids Love Comics Pavilion” include the afore-mentioned Simmons, Fielder, Castiglia, Leto, Mariano, Endres and Grob, along with:

  • Leslie Carrara-Rudolph (puppeteer and voice of Sesame Street’s Abby Cadabby)
  • Noel MacNeal (Writer, Director, Puppeteer, voice of Bear in the Big Blue House)

In addition to having artists at the table doing sketches and demonstrating drawing tricks, KCC will be offering special programming during the East Coast Comic Con including:

“Sci-Tech Heroes”: In this amazing hands-on workshop Alex Simmons demonstrates how to explore and create superheroes and villains using the boundless regions of science and the imaginative realm of comics. Kids will discuss the powers and abilities of popular comic book characters, and then create their own.

“Try Your ‘Hand’ at Puppets”: Emmy nominated puppeteer Noel MacNeal will conduct a “puppeteering workshop” based on his best-selling book, 10-Minute Puppets. Learn the pro puppeteers’ “secrets of lip-sync and manipulation, make a simple puppet, and operate professionally made puppets!

 

“Jump Start Your Imagination!”: Leslie Carrara-Rudolph and her wonderful puppet friend Lolly Lardpop are committed to spreading joy and the power of creativity though this wonderful and wacky interactive workshop. Join them as Leslie shows kids how to have fun through puppetry, imagination, and the creative arts!

 

“Pixel Portraits”: A Digital Storytelling Workshop by the creator of Matty’s Rocket, Tim Fielder, showcasing his storyboarding process of panel-to-panel techniques for comics, animation and film.

 

Autograph signing schedules for both the East Coast Comic Con and KCC 9 will be announced at a future date, as will post-KCC 9 events in the works for the Road Show team.

 

“Since 2007 our annual Kids Comic Con event has introduced thousands of kids and families to the power of imagination and creativity,” added Simmons. “Our Road Shows have traveled from everywhere from Chicago to Miami, from Jamaica to Africa, and we continue to bring interactive programming to Ronald McDonald House NYC and partner with them, and others, in its fight for children against cancer.”

 

This year’s KCC events follow a very successful 2014 that found the KCC team not only organizing KCC 8 but also revving up the “KCC Roadshow” for special events including The South Carolina Book Festival, Chicago’s C2E2 and Awesome Con in Washington, DC. The team also participated in two special happenings for Ronald McDonald House (RMH), including a Sesame Street-themed NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) reunion party of children born prematurely, and the first ever “Superhero For a Day” event for the patients and families staying at RMH.

 

Simmons added, “This year, we’re launching a program called ‘KCC International Comic Club.’ Our inaugural effort will unites student and teachers in the United States, Senegal, and Ireland in a collaborative, comics-creating project. A formal announcement detailing this project as well as other upcoming KCC events will be made soon.”

 

The 2015 KIDS COMIC CON is set for April 25 at Bronx Community College, 181st Street and University Avenue, Bronx, NY from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For additional information and up-to-the-minute programming updates, please visit www.facebook.com/KidsComiCon.

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33. Small Press Alert: Immolation from Clemente, Ortiz and Soutar

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The Beat’s own Zachary Clemente has just announced a new comic called Immolation and it looks very cool.

ANNOUNCEMENT: The first installment in a series of vignettes from a universe at the cusp of a perilous trial that will test all its inhabitants. IMMOLATION asks: “What is the price of power?” and is part of the upcoming 1001 Knights Anthology.
Story: Zachary Clemente
Art: Ricardo López Ortiz
Letters & Title: Arielle Soutar


Clemente will have copies to give out and tarde at ECCC and MoCCA, supplies willing, so hit him up!

I had never heard of the 1001 Knights project, but it is another cool sounding book, with stories promising “kickass ladies, feminist characters, and people-positive knights.” Lots more nice art on the tumblr.

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34. San Francisco Comics Fest set for May 3-10

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The can-do spirit of Bay Area comics folks has come together for the San Francisco Comics Fest, which just launched a website and announced plans for a full week of comics-related activities kicking off on Sunday May 3 and 10444719_343570819168030_4387245873141238517_ngoing all week with what will most likely be a CAF-type event May 9-10. The brainstorming started with some Facebook chat, went on with a town hall meeting and it’s all birthed what looks to be an impressive event, with the steering committee led by Matt Silady of the California College of Arts.   Given all the logistical and economic hurdles unique to the Bay Area, this is an ambitious plan.

The event is something of a fill in for APE and WonderCon, both of which have moved on to other cities. Given San Francisco’s storied comics heritage—and the institutional support of the Cartoon Art Museum—having a local event seems quite appropriate.

Of course, the insanely packed CAF schedule being what it is, the event is launching the same week as TCAF—however there’s plenty of talent to go around, especially with the local cartooning community.

 

“San Francisco has the unique opportunity to imagine a new comics-centric festival from the ground up,” said SFCF Steering Committee Organizer Matt Silady, Chair of MFA in Comics Program at California College of the Arts. “From tech to tradition, leveraging the city’s strengths will be at the heart of this event as we continue to make San Francisco a destination for comics professionals and enthusiasts alike.”San Francisco Comics Fest is a celebration of comics culture – past, present and future – with festival events highlighting four core aspects of the vibrant community:

  • Rich history of artistic rebellion and comics innovation
  • Unique intersection of cultural influences shared among creators
  • Commitment to comics education
  • Responsibility to shape the future of comics through technology in a positive, equitable way

Scheduled events include workshops, signings, and talks at the Cartoon Art Museum, SF Public Library, and comics retailers on both sides of the Bay. The San Francisco Comics Fest continues to encourage and accept applications for official SFCF events from its local community through the end of the month. All event participants will be promoted through official SFCF channels and promotional materials.

Event applications and volunteer applications are open, and you can follow along with the fest on Twitter.

 

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35. Walking The Game Beat: Arkham Knight, Mortal Kombat, Halo, Game of Thrones

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Batman: Arkham Knight is already one of 2015’s most anticipated games. It looks like fever has climbed a few degrees. A listing on Amazon suggests the Harley Quinn DLC bonus may contain more than previously thought. “For the first time in the Arkham series take on the role of Joker’s psychotic side-kick Harley Quinn and wreak havoc inside the Blüdhaven Police Department,” the description read. “With this exclusive Story Pack experience events in the lead-up to Arkham Knight as you infiltrate Blüdhaven to rescue your partner in crime: Poison Ivy. Delve deep into Harley’s demented nature and utilize her devastating baseball bat to smash, crash and bash your way to a friend very much in need.” Gamestop already has the Red Hood story DLC as a pre-order exclusive and this Harley Quinn DLC looks to be available at other retailers. PlayStation owners will receive a console exclusive Scarecrow Nightmare DLC that was announced in December at PlayStation Experience in Las Vegas.

In addition to all that, today a new 8min gameplay video was released. While it doesn’t show much about the game we don’t already know, it does give clues to the Scarecrow’s plan and shows off how truly next-gen this title looks in action.

In the category of not-so-good Batman: Arkham Knight news, a statement was released officially pushing back the game’s release date from 6/2/15-6/23/15. While it’s only a three week delay, seeing new footage makes it feel like another three years. The move was most likely made to capitalize on a potential bump coming out of the industry trade show E3 in Los Angeles in early June. Which makes sense from a promotional stand point. Why have only one week in the spotlight before the show when you could be the first blockbuster game coming out of the biggest video game sales pitch in the world?

Batman: Arkham Knight and its DLC are in stores June 23 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Currently DC Comics digital is releasing a lead-in digital comic. Available every Friday, Batman: Arkham Knight the comic is written by Peter Tomasi and picks up right after the events of Joker’s demise in Arkham City.

 

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Also coming from WB Interactive is Netherrealm’s Mortal Kombat X. This week the studio confirmed one of film’s most infamous game hunters, the Predator, would be a playable character in the game as part of the Kombat Pack DLC which includes additional fighters and alternate costumes. As long as we’re putting in Predator content a Danny Glover would be sweet. Regardless, the alien hunter is available as part of either the $99 special edition version of the game or the DLC can be purchased as a separate bundle for $30. It will be available when the game launches on April 14. Jason Voorhees was also previously teased and confirmed along with the returning Liu Kang.

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Currently DC Comics is also publishing a lead-in digital comic book series titled: Mortal Kombat X. If the characters who appear in the book are any indication of who we’ll see when the game is released today could have been an announcement for the Outworld tyrant, Havik.

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Telltale Games, the studio behind the game adaptations of Fables and The Walking Dead, have another franchise some of you might know. Their Game of Thrones episodic experience is set to release its third chapter titled The Sword in the Darkness. It’s available for download this Tuesday March 24 for PC owners, and PlayStation owners in the US. On March 25, Xbox owners everywhere and PS owners in the rest of the world will be able to access the next chapter in the Forresters’ story. Finally, March 26 will see iOS and Android devices get the game. Individually each episode cost $4.99 or season pass options are available on some platforms.

Check out the full trailer below to catch you up on events so far.

Currently the developer is also in the middle of their Tales From the Borderlands adaptation while getting set to release a new episodic story series based on the popular Minecraft. Telltale Games also teased follow ups to Walking Dead including a pre season 3 game much like The Walking Dead: 400 Days came before The Walking Dead: Season 2.

What are your thoughts on the latest Arkham Knight news? Have you played Telltale’s GOT? 

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36. Can you smell what Junji Ito has cooking? A deluxe version of horror classic Gyo

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A seaside town is haunted by a terrible, terrible stench—and soon much more in Junji Ito’s classic horror manga GYO. Originally published in Japan in 2001 (and in English in 2003), Viz is bringing it back in a deluxe 400-page edition in April, with a new cover design and full-color endpapers.

Ito is one of the masters of unsettling horror in comics—see UZUMAKI or TOMIE— and in GYO the bad smell is just the beginning of an invasion of legged sea creatures and unimaginable horrors.

“GYO is a truly unsettling work of horror, and this new Deluxe Edition presents the definitive version of the story in a handsome format,” says Masumi Washington, Senior Editorial Director in a statement. “Ito’s art will transform your mind, and like the sea life and human characters in GYO, you will never be the same again.”

GYO was also adapted into animated film (see a spoiler segment below) and Viz is bringing out his Ito’s new collection FRAGMENTS OF HORROR this summer.

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37. Oni to publish print version of Towle’s Oyster War

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We’ve covered Oyster War here quite a bit, Ben Towle’s historical fantasy webcomic about 19th century Chesapeake bay oystermen engaged in a territory war with some magical assistance— it’s part Scalped, part Sailor Twain. Towle alluded to a print publisher a while and ago and Oni just made it official: the print, color version is coming in September for SPX! Towle is a three time Eisner nominee for books like his Amelia Earhart bio, and this is a fun, frolic of a book.

In the coastal town of Blood’s Haven, the economy runs on oysters. Oyster farming is one of the most lucrative professions, but also the most dangerous. Not just from the unforgiving ocean and its watery depths—there are also oyster pirates to worry about! Commander Davidson Bulloch and his motley crew are tasked with capturing these ne’er-do-wells—but they don’t know that Treacher Fink, the pirates’ leader, possesses a magical artifact that can call forth a legendary spirit with the power to control the sea and everything in it!

“I started work on Oyster War five years ago with a very specific vision,” says creator Ben Towle. “I’d done several historical fiction books previously and now I wanted to jump squarely into the realm of the fantastic. Oyster War is a nautical adventure story set in a not-quite-real late 19th century US that’s full of pirates, brawlers, sea serpents, and shape-shifters. It’s far and away my favorite work to-date. I couldn’t be happier with the way Oni’s bringing the Oyster War print collection to life. Presentation was always in the back of my mind as I worked on the story. From the get-go I conceived of Oyster War as a big, hardcover, European album-sized book with high-end production values—and that’s exactly what’s going to wind up in readers’ hands!”


Oni’s March Madness thus far is awesome!

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38. Secret Wars Hails Hydra

Marvel announced via Comicbook.com yet another new title debuting in July during Secret Wars. Ian, the adopted son of Captain America, will be starring in Secret Wars: Hail Hydra. The book written by Rick Remender and drawn by Roland Boschi will see the character transplanted from the 616 to Battleworld in a “fish out of water” scenario. He’ll face the dangers of a world run by Hydra.

Remender was coy when asked if current Captain America Sam Wilson would be making an appearance in the book, but did say fans would see characters from All-New Captain America alongside Hydra-fied versions of Marvel favorites. All this in a patch of Battleworld where Hydra has usurped the American ideal.

Remender also teased a little bit about what he’s doing post Secret Wars, “I’m working on the big post-Secret Wars project right now, and it allows me to give readers a very clear and true starting point with a beloved franchise. It enables me to pick and choose what I think are the most integral and exciting aspects of that property. Coming out of the other end of Secret Wars, I’ll have the opportunity to do things in a much cleaner fashion.”

No word on how long Hail Hydra will run.

As readers, are you excited for this latest Secret Wars tie-in or will you be skipping it?

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39. The Russo Brothers have reportedly closed their deal to direct Avengers: Infinity War

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We haven’t even gotten to Marvel’s latest big event picture, but Marvel is already getting their house in order for the next one.

While we knew for certain that Joss Whedon was bowing out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe after Avengers: Age of Ultron, we only had rumors to go on regarding his successor(s). Now, according to Devin over at Badass Digest, Captain America: The Winter Soldier directors Joe and Anthony Russo have closed a deal that will see them go behind the camera for both parts of Avengers: Infinity War, as had been rumored for some time.

The report also states that Marvel is looking to enlist Captain America screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (the duo that was also behind Agent Carter) to script both parts of the Avengers three-quel.

It looks pretty likely that Captain America: Civil War, which has been bantied about the studio as “Avengers 2.5″ will be the key lead-in to Infinity War and the one can’t miss film of Marvel’s Phase 3.

Avengers: Infinity War Parts 1 and 2 will be shot back to back in 2016 and 2017, with an anticipated May 2018 and 2019 release respectively.

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40. Entertainment Round-Up: Jennifer Lawrence is calling it quits with the X-Men, Gal Gadot speaks out,and a Spider-Man audition rumor

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It’s the start of another week, here’s your collection of headlines that are making some waves today:

– There was never any doubt that Jennifer Lawrence‘s future with the X-Men franchise was on borrowed time; she’s one of the world’s biggest movie stars in a part that thus far has been pretty thankless. The same could probably be said for Michael Fassbender and some of her other cast-mates, many of whom also see their contracts with Fox end after X-Men: Apocalypse. But it’s Lawrence who has made it clear that this third outing will be her last when speaking with MTV News.

Given that the attention of the franchise is shifting away from the core four of X-Men: First Class (Mystique, Charles Xavier, Magneto, and Beast) and onto the recently cast Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm and Nightcrawler, Apocalypse looks to be a fairly graceful close out for the previous era.

Gal Gadot, upon being cast as Wonder Woman in the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, received a ton of unfair (and in some cases, disgusting) criticism from some segments of the online community related to her body type and physical attributes. In a recent interview translated by RobotUnderdog, Gadot addressed some of this discussion:

They said that I was too skinny and my boobs were too small. [Laughs] I’m really lucky nothing in my life was instantaneous. When I was younger I would take criticism really hard. But now it mostly amused me. The true Amazons had one boob so it won’t bother them in their archery. So it’s not going to be like real Amazons. We always try to make everyone happy but we can’t.

She also went on to describe her excitement in playing the first big screen portrayal of Diana:

Playing Wonder Women is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I can’t describe to you how much I wanted to play this character without even knowing I wanted to play her. I met a lot of people from the industry in LA for meetings. They always asked me ‘what’s your dream role?’, and I never could define it. I always answered that I wanted to play a women that is strong and will be a source for women empowerment. I don’t want to play a damsel in distress that needs to be saved. I don’t like it when women in the movies are shown as the victims. I always thought that if I could send out a massage I want to show the strong side of a woman and how she can handle tough situations. Yes, I get to play the strongest most empowering woman ever – Wonder Woman. I’m so grateful and I thank god every day. I want to devour it and enjoy every bite. She has unbelievable endurance. She is exceptionally strong. she can jump really high and practically fly. She know tons of martial arts styles. She is a strong and serious Woman.

– Toss this last one into the rumor pile for now, but Badass Digest is reporting that Marvel secretly auditioned 16 year old Weeds‘ actor Mateus Ward for the role of Peter Parker. If true, it means Marvel is indeed going very young for the role and are clearly trying to recast Peter Parker rather than aiming for Miles Morales as some might have hoped. With shooting for Captain America: Civil War only about a week away, if Spider-Man is going to make some kind of appearance be it a cameo or something more substantial, they’ll need to get this role squared away fairly quickly.

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41. UN announces “Gender Equality: Picture It!” comics competition for Europe

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Diversity is taking over the world! The UN Women, a department aimed at gender quality around the world, the European Commission, the Belgian Development Cooperation, and UNRIC (United Nations Regional Information Centre) is organizing a Comic and Cartoon Competition on Gender Equality. The competition is only open to European cartoonists between the ages of 18-28 (sorry US) but the winners gets a 1000EUR prize! Deadline is 20 April.

Somehow, I think they may just get a lot of entries.

Show us what comes to your mind when you reflect on women’s rights and empowerment and on the relationship between women and men. Get familiar with the Beijing Conference and its outcome document, the Beijing Declaration and its Platform for Action. Seek inspiration for your drawings in the 12 Critical Areas of Concern of the Beijing Platform!

The Competition is open to comic and cartoon artists and art students, from 18 to 28 years old, who are residents of an EU member state.

Please note that your comic or cartoon must be without words.

Prizes:

One First Prize: 1000 EUR
One Second Prize: 500 EUR
Three Third Prizes: 200 EUR each
The five finalists will be invited to Brussels to the Competition awards ceremony in summer 2015. The costs for travel and stay will be borne by the Organising Entities. In addition, the finalists’ and semi-finalists’ drawings will be published in a booklet and may be considered for exhibition as well as for further publication.


Finalists will be selected by a jury composed of professional comic artists, gender equality experts and communication experts:

Pierre Kroll, Belgian Comic Artist, Member of Cartooning for Peace
Marlène Pohle, Comic Artist, Vice-President of Federation of Cartoonists Organisations
Salla Saastamoinen, Director for Equality, European Commission
Alexander de Croo, Minister of Development Cooperation of Belgium
Sylvie Braibant, Editor-in-Chief TV5MONDE
Nanette Braun, Chief of Communications and Advocacy, UN Women
The submission deadline is 20 April 2015.
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42. Doctor Who: After Life Vol. 1 interview

Titan---Doctor_Who_The_Eleventh_Doctor_Vol_01_Book Christopher Eccleston’s portrayal of the Ninth Doctor relaunched the Doctor Who television series in 2005, and many a fanperson has swooned over David Tennant as the show’s  dashing Tenth Doctor. But it was Matt Smith’s portrayal of the Eleventh Doctor that crested the wave of Who-mania that has swept the globe in the last few years. Fans who were left pining for Smith’s incarnation of the time-traveling “madman with a box” will have reason to celebrate the release of Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor Vol. 1 After Life which collects issues 1-5 of the series. I spoke with co-writers Al Ewing and Rob Williams in advance of the March 25 release date (in bookstores and on Amazon.com March 31) about their past collaborations, the Doctor’s newest companion, and even got a few hints at what fans can expect in the forthcoming issues of the Titan Comics series.

Edie Nugent: Did the fact that both of you worked together on 2000 AD help you in co-writing this series? If so, how?

Al Ewing: It probably did – systems evolved during the writing of Judge Dredd: Trifecta, our 2000 AD crossover, that helped with the writing of Who. For example, I’m pretty sure we had at least one Skype conversation during that time, although more often we met in the pub. And Trifecta involved some very intricate plotting, some of which happened on the fly, so it was good practice.

Rob Williams: It helped too that we knew each other and were friends. It’s not as if you’re co-writing with a stranger because who knows how that might go. But yes, as Al said, we’d co-written once together with Si Spurrier on Trifecta, so we knew how to do it, and felt confident we could make such a situation work.

Nugent: The writing on the After Life series is very consistent. How did you work together to find the “voice” of the Doctor and establish continuity of that voice through the series?

Williams: I think his voice is very well established by the series and by Matt Smith’s delivery. It’s easy to hear when writing dialogue for the book. If you feel you’re veering off track you just stick an episode of the show on for 10 minutes. Smith did the verbal patter very well.

Nugent: The audience knows Smith-era patter the moment they read it, but to have such an ear for writing new dialogue without it seeming forced: this just comes naturally to you? 

Ewing: Well, writing any kind of unforced dialogue takes a lot of practice. But essentially, as long as the delivery seems correct, you can get away with a lot – Matt Smith can deliver a lot of different kinds of line and have them all seem part of the same character, so as long as the reader is hearing that voice in their head, it’ll cover a multitude of sins. I’m sure Rob and I both have writing tics that shine through once you’re looking for them. “…” for a pause is one of mine.

Williams: Without wanting to sound arrogant, I think Al and I are both pretty good with dialogue. The dialogue’s really not the hard part. Writing the Doctor he can babble on and you read it back and it’s all good stuff. But comics is a visual medium. So I find I have to cut a lot of my Doctor dialogue or the page would be overcrowded with speech balloons. The hard part with The Doctor is more the plotting, I find.

AliceObiNugent: Let’s talk about Alice Obifune. How did you dream her up? She’s got the smarts of Martha and the attitude of Donna (as well as many Classic Who companions like Zoe and Sarah Jane); questioning the Doctor and his motives. You mention in the series that the Doctor finds her wisdom and maturity a comfort, contrasted with his usually younger and greener companions. 

Williams: I think it was a case of trying to do something a bit different. The TV show usually has The Doctor with young girls as assistants. Smith looks so young, we thought it would be a fun dynamic to pair him with someone who seems to be physically older then him. Someone a bit more sure of herself having been through a life.

Ewing:  I forget where she came from at first – it’s a long time ago – but I remember being very keen that she give as good as she get with regard to the Doctor. I’m pretty sure her age relative to other new series companions came up early on as well in connection with that – the idea that the actor playing Alice, if she existed as a TV series character, would be older than Matt Smith and have some natural authority there. Or maybe it was the other way around. I know her Dad dying in the Falklands set her age in stone to an extent, although I don’t know if we’ve gotten around to mentioning that at all.

Williams: It’s mentioned somewhere. I forget where.

Ewing:  We know he died when she was small, and I think there’s a newspaper headline in one of the scenes about the end of the war, but I don’t know if we’ve connected the dots yet. It’ll be a nice tidbit for anyone reading this!

Nugent: There’s another thing that makes Alice so mature, aside from having more years under her belt than the average TV companion: she’s recently orphaned when the first issue opens. Very adult theme, that. Was there any push-back on opening the story line with such an emotionally dark moment: going through the motions and feeling empty following the loss of her mother? 

Ewing: Not at all – I’m pretty sure everyone was up for that from the beginning. Originally, I think we were set to go much darker in terms of the overall plot – this is at the very early stages – but that ended up, rightly I think, being decided against. I think the balance between light and dark stuff we’ve got now is just about perfect.

Williams: Titan and the BBC were very supportive. I liked that opening very much. The subdued grey wasn’t what people were expecting. It’s a theme that continues through the entire series. The first ‘season’ of the comic is really Alice’s journey through her loss. Coming to terms with it, learning to move forward and live again. It’s the emotional spine of the book.

Nugent: So you worked together to co-write the series, even though issue 1 seems to be the only issue that’s co written (Al took issues 2,4 and 5 with Bob penning issue 3). Was it like television writing? Did you both form a ‘writers room’ of sorts at the pub or over Skype, blocking out the story arc and then individually write drafts? 

Williams: We wrote half of #1 each. Al took #2, I did #3. Then Al did a two-parter with #4 & #5, I did #6. The entire 15 issue series is half Al, half me. #14 & #15 we’re writing half of each issue, so they’ll be co-written. The rest of the stories, there’s often little bits from one of us even if the other person is credited as scripting. My #10, for instance, Al made a suggestion there which helped nail down the theme. Lots of that going on. It’s a writer’s room dynamic throughout.

Ewing:  That’s pretty much exactly how it went! For issue 1, we took eleven pages each and then did a lot of rewriting so they fit – after that, it’s been a matter of discussing where the plot’s going and where we want it to go on Skype, and then working out what’ll happen in each individual issue. (Or two-parter, if we’re writing both parts.) Mostly it happens on Skype – once or twice we’ve met up for a pint, but Skype’s probably more productive given the lack of booze.

11D#3preview4Nugent: I loved how you wove in these legendary musical figures: Robert Johnson, and the Bowie-like John Jones. It’s nice because so many of the historical figures we meet in Doctor Who stories are Queens or classic authors. What made you decide to highlight musicians and those two in particular?

Ewing:  Both of those are Rob’s doing, really – Jones was the companion Rob brought to the table, although I’ve had a lot of fun with him myself and rediscovered an interest in Bowie’s music.

Williams: That was just an idea born out off Bowie’s similarity to The Doctor in terms of regenerations. There’s always been a sense about Bowie of ‘where did this guy come from?’ Now, I’m sure certain substances were involved in that otherworldness. But what if, instead, he travelled with The Doctor? And that’s how he ended up with all these crazy outfits and looks etc. That seemed a fun idea. There’s a line in #3 which I think is true. If you had a time machine the first best use would be going to see all those classic gigs you’ve only ever read about.

Nugent: Al, Your issue 2 story centers on the idea of corporations ruining the ecology of a place, in this case Rokhandi and it’s natural beauty. The themes of industrial development and brainwashing could easily be transposed to the ecological worries of today. Were you intending to write the story as warning or wake-up call to the youth who will read it?

Ewing:  I’m not sure I’d go as far as to call it a warning or a wake-up call – that sounds like I’ve got a bit more clout in the readers minds than I probably have – but Doctor Who stories should have some thematic links or resonances with what people are worried about in the real world. There was a lot of that during the McCoy era, as I recall – Doctor Who as a critique of Thatcherism. So yes, there’s more than a little in #2 that could be about corporate cronyism in politics or the selling-off of natural resources, but that’s all par for the course with Who.

Nugent: How are you both feeling about the recent news that your comic story line will merge with that of the tenth and twelfth Doctors this fall in a limited series to be written by Hugo-nominated Doctor Who television writer (and longtime Who fanboy) Paul Cornell?

Ewing:  I’m looking forward to it! It should be a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to see what Paul does with our characters. I can’t think of anyone better to attempt a crossover of that nature, and I’ll be avidly reading every issue.

Williams: Paul’s a fine writer and a friend, so I’m sure he’ll do a stellar job and treat the Eleventh Doctor and Alice very well. I’ll look forward to reading it. And then we have ‘Season Two’ of the Eleventh to get up and running. We’ve already got a few fun, surprising things planned.

Nugent: Are there any more teasers you can give Comics Beat readers? Will we find out the identity of the mysterious Time lord that appeared to Eleven? Any other tasty tidbits? 

Williams: You might find out the identity of the mysterious Time Lord in me and Al’s #14-#15 two-parter.

Ewing:  Tasty tidbits…things are going to get very colourful in issue #11, and fans of a certain movie will be pleased with us.

Doctor Who: After Life Vol. 1 is available in stores on March 25.

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43. New publisher Rosy Press announces new romance anthology, Fresh Romance on Kickstarter

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Who doesn’t want a little more romance in their lives? If Janelle Asselin’s plan works out, we’ll all have Fresh Romance, a digital anthology title from her new imprint, Rosy Press, to add a little comics romance. Asselin is kickstarting the anthology and it’s off to a good start but keep those dollars going.

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Fresh Romance will be available digitally via ComiXology or as a DRM-free PDF, CBR, or ePub file, with future digital collections in the works. Kickstarter rewards include subscriptions and a variety of tasty art rewards.

The contents of the first issue are in the can, and the book will come out in May if the Kickstarter is met. Here’s the line-up:

• A twist on the iconic high school love story by Kate Leth (KATE OR DIE), Arielle Jovellanos (FIVE), and colorist Amanda Scurti, in which a queer couple keep their relationship under wraps by pretending to compete for the same, equally secretive guy.
• A Regency-era romance by Sarah Vaughn (ALEX + ADA) and Sarah Winifred Searle (SMUT PEDDLER) about a couple headed to the altar despite a mutual lack of enthusiasm for their marriage. (Spoiler: period costumes and culture are consummately researched.)
• An otherworldly tale by novelist Sarah Kuh, who has a three-book prose book deal with DAW Books and who is penning her first comic with Sally Jane Thompson (RED JACK) and colorist Savanna Ganucheau, in which a cynical, supernatural barista is trapped in this world… until she helps enough lonely souls find love.
• The first cover from Kevin Wada, a former fashion illustrator, who uses his hallmark watercolors to depict Leth and Jovellanos’ high school heroines.



The romance comic was one of the sturdiest comics genres since Simon and Kirby more or less got it rolling, and while romance fiction remains one of the biggest sellers out there, various romance comics revivals have had variable success. However the time would seem to be more right than ever for such a thing, and Asselin is using manga as an inspiration, as she told WaPo: :

“I actually stopped reading all American comics for a couple of years, because I was finding more of what I wanted in manga. I was finding comics that had been created by women and that had romantic storylines,” she said. “There’s something really appealing … [to] comics that have that sort of soap-opera vibe, but sometimes they’re sort of straight sweet romances. It is something you don’t see very often, especially in mainstream comics. You’ll see it in indie-comics but you don’t see it from Marvel and DC, because they focus on the superhero genre. That’s their moneymaking genre.
“There’s definitely a hole in the American comics industry … ,” Asselin said. “We’re not trying to do Americanized manga. We’re doing American romance comics. And I think that’s something that people haven’t really done since the ’50s and ’60s.”


The first cover, above is by Wada, and below are concept art by Sarah Winifred Searle (Whose name suggests she was born to draw regency romance comics) and a rough of the second issue by Yannick Pacquette.

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44. Preview: The Multiversity: Ultra Comics brings a haunted comic into our world

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Via Paste Magazine, who also scored a great interview with Grant Morrison about the eighth chapter of his critically acclaimed The Multiversity, here is a five page preview of this week’s reunion between Morrison and his Superman Beyond collaborators Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy: The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1

Given that Superman Beyond is one of my favorite Morrison comics ever, it’s no surprise that I’m looking forward to just what this dreaded comic, that’s appeared in the majority of The Multiversity‘s previous chapters as a corrupting object, will offer.

If my eyes turn red and I start attacking all of my loved ones, you’ll know who to blame.

As an additional note, when speaking with Paste at the above link, Morrison made mention of the team’s biggest influence for the new issue:

One more thing is that Ultra Comics was inspired by the 1970s head comics. I don’t know if you’ve ever read Jim Starlin’s Warlock or Captain Marvel. I grew up on that. Back in the day, people like Starlin would come back from Vietnam and did these fantastic allegorical kind of Pilgrim’s Progress-style superhero comics. So I think Ultra Comics was my and Doug Mahnke’s attempt to almost create one of those cosmic comics of the ‘70s. Everything is allegorical. Everything is a metaphor. Everything is some psychological state. I will mention that, because those guys were a big inspiration for this particular issue.

 

THE MULTIVERSITY: ULTRA COMICS #1

Written by GRANT MORRISON
Art by DOUG MAHNKE and CHRISTIAN ALAMY
Cover by DOUG MAHNKE
1:10 B&W Variant cover by DOUG MAHNKE
1:25 Variant cover by DUNCAN ROULEAU
1:50 Variant cover by YANICK PAQUETTE
1:100 Variant cover by GRANT MORRISON
On sale MARCH 25 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
The penultimate chapter of the greatest adventure in DC’s history is here!
The acclaimed FINAL CRISIS team of Grant Morrison and Doug Mahnke reunite for a story so big it could only take place in the real world – that’s right, Earth-33 is back!
With the Multiverse under attack, a team of scientists create one final savior to take on the otherworldly threat…and its name is Ultra Comics! Literally held in your hands, one being will attempt to halt the annihilation of creation – and you, the reader, will have a front-row seat as you become an integral part of the resistance!
It’s another exciting, experimental story told by two of today’s top creators! You won’t want to miss this exciting issue which acts as chapter eight of THE MULTIVERSITY storyline.










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45. Legos! Space Telescopes! Sulu! Rutgers University Hosts “Geek Week” on Campus!

GeekWeekEp4Banner1Rutgers University, the state university of New Jersey, is hosting their fourth annual Geek Week on campus!

Yes.  GEEK.  Not “Greek”, but maybe Klingon…

As their website explains:

Geek Week is an annual week of events celebrating all things “geeky” at Rutgers University. From tabletop and video gaming, to music, cosplay, academic panels based on gender and ethnic diversity, and more, Rutgers Geek Week has been nationally recognized by organizations such as ACPA and San Diego Comic-Con, and featured guests such as Chris Hardwick, Nick Offerman, and Tory and Kari of Mythbusters. By focusing on the students and their passions, Geek Week seeks to make meaningful differences in students lives by providing opportunities for them to find community, be accepted, and gain exposure to non-familiar topics and experiences in geek culture.

There are lots of events scheduled!

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Sunday – March 22

Knight Slash 10

It’s the tenth one! Going five years strong, Knight Slash is a semesterly tournament organized by the Underground Gaming Society featuring games such as Persona 4 Arena, Super Smash Bros Melee, Project M, and many others. If you feel like you’re the best of the best, here’s your opportunity to show it!

Location & Time: Livingston Student Center, 12:00pm

Monday – March 23

Rutgers University Art Library, Speakers, Snacks, and Legos for Geek Week.

Krista White, Digital Humanities Librarian at Rutgers University- Newark and Zara Wilkinson, Reference and Instruction Librarian at Rutgers University- Camden will be speaking at the Rutgers University Art Library. Please stop by the Art Library any time during open hours to create a model at the Art Library Lego Playing Station.

Digital Humanities Librarian Krista White will discuss her involvement with the small press, indie tabletop RPG gaming scene. Krista is the co-founder of Galileo Games, Inc., publisher of “Bulldogs!: Scifi that Kicks Ass,” “How We Came to Live Here,” “Mortal Coil” and “Shelter in Place.” Krista invented KristaCon, a LongCon format for playing robust, tabletop role playing games at conventions. She’ll be in the Art Library to talk about the indie RPG scene and answer questions about gaming and publishing.

Zara Wilkinson, Reference and Instruction Librarian at Rutgers University-Camden, will discuss the depiction of female characters in comics and comics adapted to other media.  In 2015, Zara was the co-organizer of Buffy to Batgirl, an academic conference devoted to women in science fiction, fantasy, and comics. Buffy to Batgirl was attended by over 150 scholars and students. Zara also organizes events at Camden Comic Con, Camden’s first comics convention, which is held annually on the Rutgers-Camden campus in Camden, NJ.

Location: Rutgers University Art Library
Time: 1:30PM

Geek Week Trivia Night : One Quiz to Rule Them All!

Come out and enjoy an awesome night of geeky trivia! We’ll have questions covering the wide breadth of geekdom, everything from Star Wars to Game of Thrones, tabletop gaming to Internet culture. Bring your friends and compete as a team (up to four members) or come to meet some fellow geeks! The top three teams will win some fun prizes! 

1st Place: Reserved Front Row Seats for George Takei’s lecture on Wednesday, Rutgers Cinema Movie passes, and Geek Week Prize packs for each team member!

2nd Place: Rutgers Cinema Movie passes, and Geek Week Prize packs for each team member!

3rd Place: Geek Week Prize packs for each team member!

To pre-register and reserve your spot, click here!

Location: Livingston Student Center, Coffeehouse
Time: 8:00PM

Tuesday – March 24

NASA scientist Dr. H. Philip Stahl Lecture

Prominent NASA scientist Dr. H. Philip Stahl will be presenting about the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which will be the world’s largest telescope when launched. Dr. Stahl is the 2015 Immediate Past President of the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE) Student Chapter and an Optics Lead for the JWST. The lecture will take place on Tuesday, March 24th at 5 pm in the Fiber Optics Auditorium on Busch Campus. There will be a “meet and greet” with light refreshments at 4:30 pm, and a sandwich dinner at 6 pm. The event is co-hosted with Rutgers SPIE Student Chapter and Rutgers SciFest, and is part of the Rutgers Geek Week itinerary.

Location: Fiber Optics Auditorium, Busch Campus
Time: 4:30PM Meet & Greet, 5:00PM Lecture, 6:00PM Sandwich Dinner

Nerd Girl Panel

Join us at our annual Nerd Girl Panel where this year we are confronting misogyny in nerd culture with topics ranging from GamerGate to Cosplay is Not Consent. Come be a part of the conversation with panelists from across the nation bringing riveting stories related to their first-hand exposure to misogyny through their work as YouTube personalities, film director, and social justice and comics bloggers.

This year’s panel features panelists from the YouTube sensation Video Game High School, Rocket Jump Studios’ Lauren Haroutunian; Danni Danger of the The Valkyries and Weird Girls YouTube Channel; Mikki Kendall, founder of HoodFeminism.com; and Ivy Noelle Weir of The Valkyries and Women Write About ComicsClick here for more information on the panelists.

Location: Douglass Student Center, Trayes Hall
Time: 8:00PM

Wednesday – March 25
An Evening With George Takei [SOLD OUT]

2014 Sundance Film Festival - George Takei PortraitsOhhh Myyy! We are ecstatic to have the legendary George Takei as our keynote. With his work all over the spectrum from the sci-fi hits Star Trek and Heroes, his social media empire, LGBTQ activism, bestselling books, and a musical theater project on Japanese internment camps, he has a mega-ton to share!

Spend a captivating evening with the legendary George Takei. Hear how this award winning author, star of the sci-fi hits Star Trek and Heroes, an LGBTQ activist, and Japanese internment camp survivor uses his personal stories and social media empire to educate and inspire others. 

This event is free, but guests are encouraged to secure a ticket in advance by visiting rupa.rutgers.edu. Tickets will be available on Monday, March 2 at 2PM. This event is open to the public with a limited number of tickets available for non-Rutgers students. 

George Takei Event Ticket Policy:

Limit TWO (2) tickets per person.
There are a limited amount of guest tickets available for this event.
Guests DO NOT need to be accompanied by a Rutgers student.
Anyone under 18 MUST be accompanied by an adult.
Everyone should have some form of identification when checking in at the event.



Parking Information:
Visitors to the University may park in Lots 26, 30 (behind the College Avenue Gym) & College Avenue Deck without permits. Faculty, Staff, and Students must park only in lots they are authorized to park in.

This event is proudly co-sponsored by RUPA, Rutgers Geek Week, Student Life, SciFest, Center for Social Justice Education & LGBT Communities, and the Asian American Cultural Center.

This event is the keynote lecture for Rutgers Geek Week, GAYpril, and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. For a full listing of Geek Week events, visit geekweek.rutgers.edu.

Location: College Avenue Gym
Time: 8:00PM

Thursday – March 26 
Movie Night!

Join us for a free movie with all your nerdy friends. Title TBD.

Location: Rutgers Cinema, Livingston Campus
Time
: 8:00PM

Friday – March 27
Night of the Living Costume Dance Party, Part IV

As always,we try to pack as much geeky awesomeness as possible into one single night. Amazing musical guests, game swaps, gaming tournaments, a costume contest, geeky vendors, tons of food and so much more.

This year’s Night of the Living Costume Dance Party will feature live art performances from the nationally acclaimed Super Art Fight collective, as well as live music from Wizard Folk Rocker Lauren Fairweather, and nerdcore rap from Tribe One and Adam WarRockClick herefor more information on the performers!

We will also feature geeky vendors from Super Sox Shop, Sprites of PassageTwinny Shoppe, and Frosted Treats. Click here for more information on the vendors!

Harry Potter Alliance’s annual book drive, Accio books, will also be collecting books at the finale event to promote literacy all over the world. Last year alone, 53,000 books were donated, thousands of which were sent to an “Apparating Library” in Detroit’s Brightmoor Community Center. While we don’t yet know which community will be chosen as this year’s target site, Muggle Mayhem hopes to join in on the action, and we hope you’ll help us! You’ll even get a nifty pin in the process!

The Board Gaming Club will also be running their Board Game Appreciation Night with gamers of all experience levels. All are welcome, if you’ve never even played Monopoly or you’re the traitor snubbing, city building, dice rolling king of all things cardboard and plastic on a table!

It’s nerd nirvana! Don’t miss it.

Location: Busch Student Center, MPR
Time: 8:00PM

Saturday – March 28
RU SciFest

SciFest is an afternoon-long event celebrating the fun in science.  Our day starts with demonstrations by Mad Science in ARC 103, followed by an open series of interactive “sidewalk science” activities put on by a collaboration of Rutgers science clubs, held in the Life Sciences Building (with free food!).  Our finale in ARC 103 will feature the Chemistry Department’s own Bob Porcja in an explosive presentation.  At the end of SciFest, we will raffle off a variety of science-themed prizes!

Location & Times: Busch Campus

Allison Road Classroom Building (11:15AM-12:30PM)

Life Science Building Atrium (12:30PM-2:45PM, food served at 1:00PM)
Allison Road Classroom (2:45PM-5:00PM)

Rutgers eSports presents The Scarlet Classic

The Scarlet Classic is the first large-scale tournament held by Rutgers eSports. The tournament runs from the afternoon to the late evening and features 6 of the most prominent eSports in the Rutgers community and the world. These include: Super Smash Bros. Melee, Dota 2, League of Legends, Starcraft II, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Hearthstone. Attendees will participate and spectate at least one grand final set for each eSport. Anyone who is interested in participating or spectating at the event should visit esports.rutgers.io for more info.

Entry is open to everyone in the Rutgers eSports community. Prizes are the glory of winning the Scarlet Classic and possibly other prizes.

Location & Time: Livingston Student Center, 4:00pm


 UPDATE:

10994328_988761194487068_6777270603511126274_oRUPA is sponsoring a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

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46. March Madness, Geek Style: Our “Big Dance” Is Called “The Mamushka”!


March Madness begins, as the “First Four” play in Dayton to see who will advance into the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament.Now, it’s no secret that sports fans are geeks.  (Arcane knowledge, fannish clothing, cosplay, fan gatherings, undying loyalty even when stuff sucks, hatred of stuff that’s just a little bit different, fantasy battles, questionable hygiene,  dining etiquette…)

Of course, there is that subtle Venn diagram overlap of “wonks” and “sports statisticians” which comes to the fore during March Madness, as millions seek to find the perfect bracket to win the adulation of millions (or at least your office mates).

uc-santa-cruzUCIrvineAnteatersI admit… I follow the trivia… and I like the underdogs, or, this year, the anteaters.  (Sadly, the Banana Slugs of UC Santa Cruz are Division III.]

But what about other brackets?  Why should sports fans have all the fun?

For your enjoyment, we offer the following Geek brackets:

Star Wars

Two different brackets, one of which is official.

thisismadnessstarwars

Who will join Obi-Wan and Yoda as champion?  StarWars.com has the official bracket!

Meanwhile, there’s a Jedi tournament going on, with each side to meet in the final!    Jedi vs Sith!


The annual Geek Madness Championship, for gamers:

game board bracket


image bracketNothing But Comics hosts an Image-specific tourney:

TheNBC! staff has taken the top 64 Image books hitting the stands in March and broken them up into four divisions:“The Horror” – Marlon Brando Division, Whimsy Sci-Fi Division, Nihilist Sci-Fi Division and The Kitchen Sink Division.


usa comics bracket

While USA Today plays “Heroes and Villains“:

To settle that last question, we need your help. We’ve set up a 32-character bracket, as part of Bracket Madness month, and each day you can vote for your favorite character to advance to the next round. Votes will be tallied at midnight eastern time, and the winning character will advance to the next round.

…and Cosmic Comix & Toys in Cantonsville, Maryland, offers “Cosmic Madness 2015“!


muppet round_2_boardMuppet Madness gets some major corporate sponsorship from a casino:

[WHAT?!  Big Bird v. Snuffie?]


the-disney-nerds-podcast-movie-madness-2015-round-2

The Disney Nerds Podcast hosts: MOVIE MADNESS 2015

Movie Qualifications:  Only full length first run features released by Walt Disney Studios or Pixar qualify.  No Direct to DVD or releases by other Disney owned studios.  Ranking was determined by a Disney Nerds Podcast Team.  This is YOUR personal favorite list, we are not asking for the most popular, the most artistic, the most awards, this is about the movie that you are most fond off for what ever reason it may be.  What is YOUR favorite Disney animated feature!!


The WDW Radio Blog is sponsoring a tournament to select the best attraction at WDW’s Magic Kingdom!

wdw magic madness


Want to pit various fandoms against each other?   Epic Nerd hosts a multi-franchise-fandom bracket!

NerdBracketComplete

Top seeds: Batman, Super Mario, Lord of the Rings, Star]Trek.   [Hmmm…anyone want to fanfic that team-up?]

A nine-member selection committee of the biggest nerds and geeks I could gather (myself included) examined franchises from the genres of fantasy & adventure, science-fiction, video games, and comics.

After evaluating them using four criteria: modern popularity, commercial success, historic importance, and artistic value, each franchise was ranked and seeded.

…and in a similar vein, which property should be rebooted?  (Or exhumed, in some cases.)

Go to UnderScoopFire and vote!

next-big-reboot-tournament-bracket-teaser

In another tourney, the finals!  What is the Greatest Geek Moment in History?  FastCompany spends less than a week running the tourney!

Star Wars, The Internet, Ada Lovelace, DNA?


Okay…  You probably need a break to get some refreshments…

Need to get into the spirit?  Perhaps some Kentucky rye to go with the Wildcats?  It’s MASH MADNESS!

Do502-Mash-Madness-Bracket-2015-Round2

Or maybe some brewskis?

How about hues instead of brews?

Or maybe some rhythms to go with those hues?


The Victory Formation hosts the Final 68: The Worst Things in Sports.  Media, Fans, Athletes, and Etcetera are the regionals.


Tired of basketball?  Playing out a 2015 March Madness Bracket of All 30 MLB Teams


Insider Higher Ed takes the NCAA bracket, and determines winners based on brains, not brawn!

It’s time once again to fill out those March Madness brackets, and what better way to predict the winner of this year’s National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament than to compare how the teams succeed in the classroom?

Here’s how Inside Higher Ed‘s bracket works: to determine the winners, we first look to the Academic Progress Rate, the N.C.A.A.’s multiyear measure of a team’s classroom performance. When two teams tie, we turn to the N.C.A.A.’s Graduation Success Rate, which measures the proportion of athletes on track to graduate within six years. In the event of a G.S.R. tie, we then turn to the Federal Graduation Rate, a slightly different formula that the government uses to track graduation rates.

This tournament’s championship round was a nail-biter, going into double overtime, with the teams tying on both the A.P.R. and the G.S.R.


…and then there are the Big Brains at Critical Theory who ponder the great question of our age: Of philosophy’s many personalities, which is most likely to ruin a sporting event?

Is it Diogenes, who rushes the field, rambling “I’m looking for an honest man!” while violently shaking Bill Belichick? Can that compare to the $8 hot dog ruined by Jacques Lacan who reminds you “the phallus is in the bun,” or Karl Marx’s multiple aborted attempts to retake the means to produce “the wave” for proletariat revolution?

philosophy-bracket-2015-round-32


Comics Should Be Good returns for their seventh annual 2015 DC/Marvel Comic Character Tournament!  This time, it’s cinematic characters, and actors!

CBR CSBG 2015


Or maybe your prefer SUPER ANIMALS!

Super Animals round_of_32

 


South Park has their “Bro Down”.

SouthPark_BroDown_2015


What’s the MOST 90s band?  (Not the best, but the one which best represents the 90s in music.)

90smusicbracketfinal2


Girls in Capes has their Sisterhood tournament.  Final Four!

io9 has their tournament.

IO9 movies tv


For sports widows….  Leading men of romance novels:

Got a favorite program on National Public Radio?  KPCC offers a tournament!

ComicMix once again highlights webcomics!

TV Couples

Which TV should come back on the air?  Pushing Daisies, or Firefly?

Best TV Theme  [This is really disorganized.  “Scooby-Doo”?  Which one?!  Should have been better researched.]

Best Scripted Shows


…and my favorite bracket:

enter-the-tournament-of-brackets.jpg


 

2 Comments on March Madness, Geek Style: Our “Big Dance” Is Called “The Mamushka”!, last added: 3/23/2015
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47. Hoteloween is tomorrow!

yaaaaaaaah!.jpeg

Arrrgh, the most tension filled day of the year for Stately Beat Manor is tomorrow. San Diego Comic-Con hotel registration opens up at noon EDT, 9 am PDT. Gentlemen, start your browsers….and do not refresh. There are more rooms that ever this year, and the cancellations are refundable until April 15th so even if you get nothing tomorrow, DON’T PANIC. I have to hints tips or tricks to give for this since I’m competing with the rest of you. But you should definitely study the hotel list, since they’ve made it more complex by making separate listings for particular KINDS of rooms at various hotels, and getting a room depends entirely on how quickly you go through that list, so study up/

With the hotel lottery about to take place, the Unofficial San Diego Blog takes a look at 10 Years of San Diego Comic-Con Hotel Rates with a chart that is, tbh, a little hard to read, but the general idea is that hotel room prices have risen! Except for one hotel which started out as a $300+ luxury hotel but is now a $289 regular hotel. There is also a scan of the hotel list from 2006 which shows that really, a LOT fewer hotels were even ON the list then. As the person who has been covering the hotel hell for longer than anyone, I can attest to this. It’s part of the city’s ongoing proving it’s love for Con that has forced more hotels to sign up for the discounted rates instead of charging an arm and a leg.

And just in case you don’t get a room in the lottery, there are some area rooms available on hotel sites, mostly way more than $300 a night. But if money is no object and you can’t stand the stress….

ALSO, Tony Kim has a list of the best hotels for seeing celebrities, and it’s a pretty sound list. I figure everyone who wants to see a celebrity already knows this stuff, so there’s no harm in writing it out. But if you stand around the Hilton Bayfront lobby for any amount of time, you are pretty much guaranteed to see someone who is on TV.

Anyway, may the odds be in your favor.

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48. Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 3/23/15: Comics are so wonderful

And so they are; as I mentioned last week, I am so tired of writing about controversies in comics, I just want to concentrate on THE COMICS for a few days…but in order to do that we must wrap up some controversy news. But then IT’S ALL COMICS.

femaleartists23i-620x991.jpg

§ Wonderful comics! CBR is rolling out its Top 50 Female Comic Book Writers and Artists list as voted on by CBR readers. First, writers #21-25 and artists #21-25. Some surprises on the lists, but all good, and I look forward to the countdown. The next lists should be up by the time you read this. That’s Rumiko Takahashi above.

§ It is only a matter of time before another nerdlebrity dies at a comic con (I believe the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, was the first.) But that person won’t be Mini Me Verne Troyer, who collapsed after a seizure at the Heart of Texas Comic Con in Waco but is reported to be fine now.

Troughton was warned by his doctor not to exert himself, but he didn’t listen, and died of a heart attack while ordering breakfast. If you are told by your doctor not to exert yourself, do not go to a comic con because they are exhaisting.

§ All off Darling Sleeper’s cartoonist interviews listed on one page.

§ The late great comics editor and writer Archie Goodwin is being inducted in the Hall of Fame of his high school and here are some of the reasons he’s always known as the late great Archie Goodwin.

§ Alex Dueben directs us to two recent interviews:

Rhianna Pratchett on Tomb Raider, comics, video games and Doug TenNapel on Nnewts, VeggieTales, Armikrog.

SIMIAN-Book-Cover.jpg

§ The Comic Con India award nominees have been announced. Above it the cover to one of the nominees.

§ Here’s a cute story from PW about a teenaged cartoonist who has gotten a lot of attention for a self published work: Christine Mari Inzer and her book Halfway Home.

All this began in the summer of 2013, when fifteen-year-old Christine Mari Inzer traveled alone to Japan to rekindle her interest in her mother’s culture—her mother is Japanese and her father is American—illustrating her travels along the way. Leaving her parents and siblings for eight weeks, Inzer stayed with her mother’s parents in Kashiwa, a small city outside of Tokyo. She also traveled to attractions like the Zen temple Ryōan-ji in Kyoto and the Asakusa district in Tokyo. The resulting graphic memoir shares moments of vulnerability, appreciation for family, culture shock, and adaptation, creating a humorous and contemplative travelogue beyond her years.

§ I forgot to link here to this excellent report on the London Super Comics Convention by Steve Morris.

§ Some of these links are oooooold, but I liked this story about football player Israel Idonije and his comic book company. Why do more football players than any other kind of professional athletes start comics book companies? I don’t have a good answer for that.

§ I also meant to link to this interview with the showrunner of the Indiana Comic Con—the last show had crowding issues but it isn’t going to happen again.

Q: In 2014, the convention ran into some unexpected hiccups. Would you care to talk about that?

I think the biggest and most commonly referenced issue we faced was the overcrowding. It was our first year in Indianapolis, which was sort of untested waters for our company. We did not anticipate the amount of people that would show up, and when everyone filed into the hallway there wasn’t much we could do but try our best to keep them organized.

§ After a year, Evan Dorkin has finished the final issue of The Eltingville Club. There’s a lot in the whole post about being a creator in mid career, making a living, stalled projects (Beasts of Burden, sniff sniff) and more so go read the whole thing.

§ OKAY Controversy Wrap-Up section:

§ The Outhouse continues its up to the minute coverage with a full report on Valerie D’Orazio’s plans to quit twitter after some truly gross threats. What is wrong with you people?

§ Marvel’s EIC Axel Alonso discussed the Sims/D’Orazio thing and the Ron Wimberly thing in his weekly address:

Alonso: In his Nib cartoon, Ron posed a question, “Is this racist?”, casting a shadow over his editor and, by extension, Marvel. Here’s what happened: The issue in question was “Wolverine and the X-Men” #10, a jam book that featured 8 different artists — 14, if you include colorists — one of whom was Ron Wimberly. The editor simply asked Ron to match the skin-tone that had been established for the character — Melita Garner, a Latina — on previous pages. She would have done the same if Ron had made Melita’s skin too light. To suggest that the editor or Marvel was uncomfortable with the character having dark or darker skin flies in the face of who we are and our history. Just last night, Sana Amanat, Marvel’s Director of Content & Character development appeared on Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show” to speak about the growing diversity of our publishing efforts. We are the home to Storm, the Black Panther, Miles Morales [Ultimate Spider-Man], Sam Wilson [the All-New Captain America], Robbie Reyes [the All-New Ghost Rider] and Kamala Khan [Ms. Marvel], and our ethnically diverse staff of editors spans the color chart Ron cites in his Nib cartoon. I am Mexican-American, so that makes me #caa468.

§ ALSO, Joshua Rivera has my favorite wrap-up on the Betgirl cover.

§ Not comics: Google is not a charity, just FYI.

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49. Marvel Reveals A-Force Presents Vol. 1: An anthology with Marvel Heroines

A-Force_Presents_Vol.13

Marvel is attempting to do something a little different with already published work via A-Force Presents Vol. 1. The series is a trade paperback anthology collection that presents work published from Marvel  in a new format shipping bi-monthly. Included in the first collection that is already up for pre-order for Amazon shoppers is Ms. Marvel, Black Widow, She-Hulk, Thor, Captain Marvel, and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.

Also included on Amazon is the release date for volume 1 at September 29th of this year at $13.49. The next volume known as A-Force Presents Vol. 2 is coming shortly after on November 24th at $14.99.

Marvel seems be aiming for fans who have never seen this material on the bookstore market. Over their last few years of publishing, there has been a renewed focus on younger female heroines. As of yet, we are unsure of what is being published in the second collection.

a-force2

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50. The Retailer’s View: No Money, Mo’ Problems

There’s drywall dust chocking the air. The people around me are wearing masks and giving me side-eye. My eye wanders listlessly from the walls the exist in full to the walls that are nothing more than steal bones, to gnarled bits of flooring that have been torn from the ground. The place doesn’t look like much, but I really don’t care. In my mind, I can see what it will soon become, and the thought pulls at the corners of my mouth, forming a bewildered smile. In a few short weeks, it will be ready. In a few short weeks, it will be real. Soon.

I can’t wait.

Theme music!

The recap is probably needless at this point, but let’s do it anyway for those of you just joining us. At the end of last year, I tendered my resignation as the manager of a comic shop, and decided to start up my own. Since then, I’ve been tangled in a web of paperwork and bureaucracy as my partners and I pushed things forward little by little.

The amount of work it takes to start up a business is pretty staggering – or at least it has seemed that way to me. I knew it would be hard, but I had always assumed there would at least be a very linear sense to things, with one accomplishment leading you to the next, leading you to the next. That was quickly dispelled on day one when we decided to look at some properties. The logic behind this move was simple: you can’t plan a whole lot without knowing where you’re going, and what you might have to budget for. Unfortunately, a lot of the properties we were looking into wanted a sign that we were serious about opening a business before they’d talk turkey. Some even wanted a completed business plan before they’d budge even the slightest amount from their stance of “doing nothing”. Since this moment in time, I’ve learned that this isn’t really the norm – realtors actively want your business, and will usually work with you, according to your time and means. For whatever reason (I suspect something having to do with preconceptions about comic shops), this was not our initial experience. Regardless, I started to focus on getting the business plan together. I had already put together the broad strokes in my mind, but I needed to nail down the particulars. The most frustrating bit of that? A business plan requires you to know how much money you’re asking for, and where you will be located, and for that… well, we needed some realtors to give us the time of day.

Our empty bay, behind a car.

The fruit of this particular labour: our empty bay, behind a car, with the “coming soon” pieces of paper in the window.

As it turns out, that process is very much an accurate representation of starting a comic shop in general. From a pure business standpoint, banks want to make sure you have a business plan, a signed lease, and projections before they’ll even talk to you. One of the banks we spoke with then completely ignored the business plan and projections and ran numbers based off of personal finances – and not what the business currently owned. Another was shocked that we had a lease ready to enact despite asking for such in their funding instructions, and that they wanted an accurate lease quote in our projections.

Speaking of projections, do you know what else you need a confirmed location for? Proper insurance quotes. Insurance companies can’t give you a quote without knowing where you’ll be specifically, so they can determine your costs by measuring crime rates and building upkeep. You also can’t get a completely accurate quote for security or telephone and internet, and parking, and more. What I’ve learned from this is, this kind of preparation – the kind where you meticulously dig for accuracy – is not appreciated by banks. You can show up with a grab bag of inaccurate guesswork, and it will do you just as well as spending the time and effort to put the things they’ve been asking for together. All they really want is to be able to give a quick cursory glance at the numbers, and see that you don’t expect to make $100,000 in your first month(s) of business (which I was told is fairly common for some people’s projections) and that’s about it.

Now, most (if not all) of this is moot if you’re starting a business with a decent amount of money to your name. If you have money, banks, landlords and insurance people will gladly give you the thumbs up to make more money. After all, they know you’re good for it. Experience doesn’t seem to matter as much, so long as you have the bank to back up some inexperience. It’s a dumb Catch-22 where track record, experience and product meets indifference, and if I’m being truly honest? I didn’t realize how angry I was about all of this until I started writing this and the words started flowing out. I mean… from a business standpoint, I understand. It’s hard to bank on someone who doesn’t appear to have money, and you can’t readily toss money at someone who has little more than their word. I get that. But dammit, it still hurts when you put in the work, and spend years – years – amassing a collection, only to be told that you should have done nothing but dig a hole in your back yard and fill it with money, rather than build stock and gain experience.

One of our logos, by the incomparable Dylan Todd.

One of our logos, by the incomparable Dylan Todd.

Pity party aside, if you push hard enough, things will still work out. They have for me. Or at least they have so far. I always feel as though the plug is going to be pulled at any moment, that everyone is going to point at me and tell me what a fraud I am. But I felt that way when I didn’t co-own a business, so that’s not anything different. I’m sending in my first Diamond order today, which should be interesting. Before, I had the backing of a store and a customer base that had been around for almost 20 years. Now, I’m guessing wildly at numbers, going purely from my gut and sense of industry, and if I screw up big? Well… it could wreck things. There isn’t a large room for error, and its equal parts stressful and exciting.

As for the store’s physical location, things are going well. The renovations are proceeding quite rapidly, and we should be able to start moving things into the space in the beginning of April. Our landlord and our neighbours have been wonderful and supportive, and despite the fact that we’ve yet to open, I know of a small handful of customers who have stopped by the store to check things out and say “hello”. As the last bits of preparation give way to actual, tangible physical accomplishments, some of the stress and frustration is washing away. Soon, I’ll be back behind the counter, along with my wife and our third business partner, a new generation of store owners in a city that hasn’t had new blood in decades. The hope is to take all the old building blocks and make something new and vibrant, something vital and needed. Walking through the bones of what’s to come, I can’t help but feel a tingle of excitement. It’s happening. It’s going to happen. It’s starting right now… and with any luck, it won’t end anytime soon.

[Brandon Schatz has spent the past eight years working behind the comic book counter, and he will soon be opening Variant Edition in Edmonton, Alberta. In his spare time, he writes about the comics and culture. You can find him on twitter @soupytoasterson and at his website, Submetropolitan. The opinions expressed are those of Schatz and do not necessarily reflect those of The Beat.]

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