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By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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, ASHES: A FIREFIGHTER’S TALE
, Harvey Pekar
, Joey Esposito
, joseph remnant
, Karl Slominski
, Koren Shadmi
, Mario Candelaria
, PAWN SHOP
, Sean Von Gorman
, the abaddon
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Z2 Comics just made news last week with a new line of periodicals, and here’s their fall graphic novel line, courtesy of Publishers Weekly. The slate includes a collection of Koren Shadmi’s awesome webcomic THE ABADDON, as well as a new edition of Cleveland by Harvey Pekar and Joseph Remnent, and print editions of two Kickstarted projects: ASHES: A FIREFIGHTER’S TALE by Mario Candelaria and Karl Slominski; and PAWN SHOP by Joey Esposito and Sean Von Gorman.
“With the addition of three new books to Z2 Comics, the return of Harvey Pekar’s CLEVELAND to print and the recently announced launch of the Z2 Comics periodical line, this year promises to be our most ambitious yet. And it’s just the beginning,’ said publisher Josh Frankel.
The Eisner-nominated Cleveland was previously distributed by Top Shelf, but has sold out of its 10,000 copy initial print run, Frankel told PW.
We’ve admired The Abaddon (above) here at the Beat many times before; it’s gorgeous and getting it in a nice print edition is a real treat.
Here’s the full Z2 line-up:
ASHES: A FIREFIGHTER’S TALE written by Mario Candelaria with art by Karl Slominski.
(September 22, 2015; $19.99; 120 pages; black and white)
Matt always had an easygoing life. Girls liked him, his friends were more like family, and being a firefighter came naturally. Then the accident happened. Now, after the loss of his leg, Matt struggles to cope with his new handicap as he attempts to rebuild his shattered family and once budding career. A riveting tale about perseverance, hard work, and overcoming the odds, ASHES is a gripping tale told in stunning black and white.
PAWN SHOP written by Joey Esposito with art by Sean Von Gorman
(September 22, 2015; $19.99; 120 pages; full color)
A widower. A nurse. A punk. A Long Island Railroad employee. New York City is an ecosystem where everybody is connected, if only by the streets they walk on. This original graphic novel is the story of four people, in a city of eight million, whose lives unknowingly intersect through a Manhattan pawn shop.
Written by Joey Esposito (Footprints) and illustrated with a gorgeous mixture of watercolor and digital elements by Sean Von Gorman (Toe Tag Riot), PAWN SHOP explores the big things that separate us and the little moments that inexplicably unite us.
THE ABADDON written and illustrated by Koren Shadmi
(November 10, 2015; $24.99; 240 pages; full color)
Loosely based on Jean-Paul Sartre’s play No Exit, THE ABADDON is the story of a young man who finds himself trapped in a bizarre apartment with a group of ill-matched roommates. He discovers that his new home doesn’t adhere to any rational laws of nature and comes to realize that everyone living in the apartment is missing crucial parts of their memories and identities.
CLEVELAND by Harvey Pekar and Joseph Remnant
(November DATE TK; Price TK; 128; black and white)
A lifelong resident of Cleveland, Ohio, Harvey Pekar (1939-2010) pioneered autobiographical comics, mining the mundane for magic since 1976 in his critically acclaimed series American Splendor. Legendary comic book writer Harvey Pekar’s collaboration with artist Joseph Remnant, titled CLEVELAND, was originally published by Top Shelf Shelf Comics and Zip Comics in 2012 and includes an introduction by Alan Moore. The book presents key moments and characters from the city’s history, intertwined with Harvey’s own ups and downs, as relayed to us by Our Man and meticulously researched and rendered by artist Joseph Remnant. At once a history of Cleveland and a portrait of Harvey, it’s a tribute to the ordinary greatness of both.
Disclosure: Just to be upfront, Z2 and The Beat have partnered on several events in the past, and they are an occasional client of my consulting company.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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, Doug Braithwaite
, Joshua Dysart
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By: Alexander Jones
Imperium is coming. After getting briefed from Joshua Dysart on mission orders, check out these brand new pages from the fantastical Doug Braithwaite in a press release sent straight from the Valiant Entertainment headquarters in New York City. Imperium is Valiant’s spiritual successor to Harbinger, a title that carried the company into greatness, and also introduced Toyo Harada, one of the most interesting villains in the Valiant world. Toyo is a decrepid old man, with intense psiot powers, enabling him to hide his appearance and true nature. Until, the events of Harbinger changed his path forever. Now, everyone knows the deranged actions of Harada. To combat his loss of power, the dictator is now seeking an army to help him operate in the shadows, enter Imperium, Harada’s band of merry misfits. These aliens, robots, and psiots may not bring holiday cheer.
Imperium #1 ships February 4th, and features covers from Doug Braithwaite, Raul Allen, and Trevor Hairsine with Tom Muller.
In our very own interview with Joshua Dysart, the author had this to say of what’s left of Toyo Harada’s empire before Imperium:
The current situation with the Harbinger foundation that was sort of the secret organization buried within Harada Conglomerates, is that Harada’s conglomerate has dissolved. However, Harada still has thousands of secret accounts located all over the world. These things are actively being tracked down all over the planet. It’s difficult for him to track all of them down, but they exist. The Harbinger Foundation itself is now whatever technologies he has found and pilfered. It’s now predominantly found within the U.S.S. Bush – Harada has stolen one of the largest nuclear aircraft carriers in the United States, and they are also taking the Somalia itself. But that’s all that’s left of Harada’s empire. It’s like if he were a musician, at one time he was in the biggest stadium band in history, but now he’s back to playing garages.
Dynamite and Arcane Wonders have come to a licensing agreement for the Mage Wars tabletop fantasy game.
Interestingly, Dynamite will be launching with a prose novel. This isn’t as odd as it might sound. Dynamite’s had some success with Chuck Dixon and Doug Murray writing SEAL Team Six novels for them. Particularly with the eBook market. Will McDermott’s Nature of the Beast will drop in January 2015 to start off the series. McDermott has written novels based on Magic: The Gathering and Warhammer 30K properties, so he’s no stranger to the adaption field. And if you’ve been to a bookstore, you know there’s usually a section for game adaption novels. It’s a thing.
After the novel comes out, Dynamite intends to ” expand the line into comic books, graphic novels, additional prose novels, prints, lithographs, and an art book.”
Official PR follows:
DYNAMITE AND ARCANE WONDERS ANNOUNCE MAGE WARS LICENSING DEAL
FOR COMICS, PROSE, AND ADDITIONAL CATEGORIES BASED ON BESTSELLING FANTASY GAME,
LAUNCHING WITH MAGE WARS: NATURE OF THE BEAST PROSE NOVEL IN JANUARY
October 10, 2014, Mt. Laurel, NJ: Dynamite Entertainment is proud to announce a new licensing agreement with Arcane Wonders for multiple product categories based onMage Wars, the bestselling and critically acclaimed tabletop fantasy game. Dynamite will debut their first Mage Wars project in January 2015, an original prose novel subtitledNature of the Beast. Written by Will McDermott, Mage Wars: Nature of the Beast is the first official prose story set within the expansive world of the game. Following the January print and digital launch, Dynamite plans to expand the line into comic books, graphic novels, additional prose novels, prints, lithographs, and an art book.
Mage Wars is the customizable strategy game of dueling mages. Players take on the role of powerful mages, stepping into an arena to battle for supremacy. A unique genre-breaking concept, Mage Wars combines the best elements of customizable card games and tactical miniature games. Players can choose from multiple mages like the Wizard, Warlock, Beastmaster, Priestess, or many others, each with their own unique strategies and style of play. The game is fast-paced and exciting, with challenging decisions every turn. Since its debut in 2012, the game achieved critical success and has accrued dozens of industry accolades. Tom Vasel of Dice Tower, a leading podcaster and reviewer in the gaming community, ranked Mage Wars as the Second Best Game of All Time in his “Top 100 Games of All Time” list.
“We are truly honored and excited to be working with Dynamite. To partner up with such a professional team to bring Mage Wars and the world of Etheria to our fans is a dream come true,” cheers Bryan Pope, President of Arcane Wonders. “We have worked so hard to develop each of these characters and this universe and look forward to this partnership to share our vision with our fans.”
“Since its launch, the Mage Wars game has been celebrated by critics and fans alike, a true sensation in the gaming world,” says Nick Barrucci, the CEO and Publisher of Dynamite Entertainment. “It’s a great privilege and honor to sign with Arcane Wonders, a true innovator in game design. They’ve created a fantastic universe to explore, and we’re proud to work hand-in-hand with their staff in building upon that expansive landscape with new creative content.”
The first novel, Mage Wars: Nature of the Beast, takes place in the world of Etheria, and follows an unlikely cast of characters refreshingly removed from the trappings of traditional fantasy adventure. “Nature of the Beast is not your average Hero’s Journey tale” says author Will McDermott. “This is the story about the other guys — the loners and the outcasts, the guards and the stewards, the folks who normally stay behind when the adventure starts — the forgotten characters. It is a journey not toward the light, but into the darkness, both literal and figurative, where these characters must face their foibles and fears, their painful pasts and their lonely lives. It is a story about how true heroes are born, not through trial by fire, but by forging friendships that help them discover their own inner strength.”
Author Will McDermott has worked in the gaming industry since 1997, when he became Senior Editor of Duelist Magazine at Wizards of the Coast. While at Wizards, he helped publish thirty-seven magazines, and wrote five strategy guides for trading-card games. After leaving Wizards of the Coast, he became a freelance writer. Over the next five years, he published two Magic: The Gathering novels, three Necromunda novels (set in the Warhammer 30K universe), and numerous short stories. In 2006, McDermott joined the writing staff at ArenaNet and began working on Guild Wars. He wrote character dialogue for Guild Wars: Nightfall, Guild Wars: Eye of the North, and Guild Wars 2. He also shepherded the first two Guild Wars novels (Ghosts of Ascalon by Matt Forbeck and Jeff Grubb, and Edge of Destiny by J. Robert King) from conception to publication. Since departing ArenaNet in 2010, McDermott worked with Nintendo in game development and returned to freelance writing.
The development of the Mage Wars: Nature of the Beast novel follows upon Dynamite’s success in prose publishing with such titles as Seal Team Six (which has sold over 140,000 copies across its nine volumes) and Prince Dracula. Upon its release in January 2015, the prose novel will be available in print at fine bookstores and hobby specialty shops everywhere, and digitally for consumer purchase through Amazon, Kindle, iTunes, Kobo, and Google Play.
In January, Dynamite will be launching The Twilight Zone: Shadow and Substance, a new ongoing series based on Rod Serling’s classic TV anthology.
Mark Rahner, who’s done some Twilight Zone short stories for Dynamite, as well as some Dejah Thoris and Vampirella material, will handle the writing. Edu Menna, who’s drawn Army of Darkness, will handle the art.
Official PR follows:
DYNAMITE RETURNS TO THE TWILIGHT ZONE WITH NEW ONGOING SERIES,
WRITTEN BY MARK RAHNER AND ILLUSTRATED BY EDU MENNA
October 10, 2014, Mt. Laurel, NJ: Dynamite Entertainment is proud to announce the January 2015 launch of The Twilight Zone: Shadow and Substance, an all-new ongoing series based on the groundbreaking science fiction television program. Written by Mark Rahner (Vampirella) and illustrated by Edu Menna (Army of Darkness), the new series will feature a cover by Eisner Award-winning artist Francesco Francavilla.
The Twilight Zone: Shadow and Substance stands as writer Mark Rahner’s third contribution to the Twilight Zone franchise, following his work on The Twilight Zone 2014 Annual and a one-shot special entitled The Twilight Zone: Lost Tales. “After writing six stories for two big Twilight Zone specials, I’m so thrilled to write more,” says Rahner. “I’m a lifelong denizen of The Twilight Zone – just ask my teachers, employers, bartenders – and an acolyte in the cult. If I belong any place, it’s there. Perhaps on the steps of a library, with a pair of shattered specs.”
The first story arc of Shadow and Substance begins with the story of a successful but deeply troubled writer as he returns to his hometown for a book signing, only to find that he’s stepped back in time to encounter his abused and maladjusted younger self.
The latest installment of The Twilight Zone affectionately takes its subtitle, Shadow and Substance, from the opening monologue to the classic CBS program’s fourth and fifth season, a spoken verse instantly recognizable to longtime fans and pop culture enthusiasts: “You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.”
“We’re proud to continue the fine tradition of The Twilight Zone at Dynamite Entertainment, delivering space-bending, mind-blowing, spine-tingling science fiction, horror, and mystery on a monthly basis,” says Nick Barrucci, the CEO and Publisher of Dynamite Entertainment. “There’s a freedom inherent in Twilight Zone, a promise that its storytellers can open up any floating door in space and step through to realities never before explored. I welcome Mark Rahner and Edu Menna to take full advantage of that freedom, and to the fans — get ready for all-new thrills!”
The Twilight Zone took millions of television viewers on a weekly journey to another dimension, starting in 1959. The enduring success ofThe Twilight Zone spawned three revival series, a feature film, novels, comics, and other related merchandise. Dynamite Entertainment achived great success with The Twilight Zone in 2014 under the helm of J. Michael Straczynski, creator of television’s Babylon 5 and prolific comic book writer (including The Amazing Spider-Man and Superman: Earth One).
The Twilight Zone: Shadow and Substance #1 will be solicited in Diamond Comic Distributors’ November Previews catalog, the premiere source of merchandise for the comic book specialty market, and slated for release in January 2015. Comic book fans are encouraged to reserve copies of The Twilight Zone with their local comic book retailers.The Twilight Zone: Shadow and Substance #1 will also be available for individual customer purchase through digital platforms courtesy of Comixology, Dynamite Digital, iVerse, and Dark Horse Digital.
Dynamite’s been pretty happy with the Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure mini-series that Bill Willingham has been writing for them. Happy enough to be spinning it off into three new titles.
Legenderry is a steampunk re-imagining of the Dynamite universe with alternate versions of Dynamite’s licensed characters in a shared universe. Red Sonja, Flash Gordon, Six Million Dollar Man, Captain Victory and so forth.
Dynamite will have three new titles in that universe:
- Legenderry: Vampirella written by David Avallone
- Legenderry: Green Hornet written by Daryl Gregory (side note: if you liked the original series of Plant of the Apes films, I can’t recommend his Planet of the Apes comics highly enough. A hidden gem.)
- Legenderry: Red Sonja – Dynamite is keeping this one close to the vest
Official PR follows:
DYNAMITE EXPANDS BILL WILLINGHAM’S POPULAR LEGENDERRY SERIES
WITH VAMPIRELLA, GREEN HORNET, AND RED SONJA SPIN-OFF TITLES
October 10, 2014, Mt. Laurel, NJ: Dynamite Entertainment is proud to announce the 2015 expansion of their steampunk-themed Legenderry alternate universe to include three new spin-off series: Red Sonja, Vampirella, and Green Hornet. Building upon the characters reimagined by Bill Willingham, the creator of Fables, in the 2014 miniseriesLegenderry: A Steampunk Adventure, the new Legenderry stories will feature the writing talents of confirmed writers David Avallone and Daryl Gregory, and continue themes and plotlines devised by Willingham.
Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure debuted on December 31st, 2013, introducing comic book fans to a parallel universe where familiar Dynamite-published characters were reinvented with Victorian aesthetics and steam-powered technology. Legenderry featured a diverse cast including Steve Austin of The Six Million Dollar Man, the classic pulp duo of Green Hornet and Kato, legendary masked adventurer Zorro, horror hostess Vampirella, the beloved superheroes Silver Star and Captain Victory (created by Jack Kirby), Flash Gordon and The Phantom from King Features Syndicate, and the swords-and-sorcery icon Red Sonja.
For fans of Willingham, Dynamite and the original series creator give assurances in a joint statement that “the world of Legenderry is created by Bill Willingham, who promises to continue to visit it from time to time.” Regarding the new spin-off titles, the participation by Willingham extends to the selection of the writers, as both newcomer David Avallone and Daryl Gregory (Planet of the Apes, Dracula: The Company of Monsters) have been hand-picked by Willingham.
In Legenderry: Vampirella, written by Avallone, the raven-haired Madam Pendragon – as the popular heroine is known publicly in the alternate universe – will see a departure from her role as owner and operator of The Scarlet Club, and instead must fight her way through The Big City, falling in love, dying, and being reborn in the process.
Legenderry: Green Hornet, written by Gregory, will entertain readers with a concept that’s equal parts Gangs of New York and The Warriors. In the aftermath of Willingham’s original story, The Big City has a power vacuum… giving a new selection of colorful, gimmick-laden lawbreakers a chance to claim the city as their own. Enter the Green Hornet and Kato, whose fabricated reputations as criminals give them ground-level access to the chaos.
Details on the upcoming Legenderry: Red Sonja are currently considered confidential. However, since the She-Devil with a Sword was the core of the previous storyline (both in her amnesiac identity as the sophisticated Magna Spadarossa, and as her swashbuckling true Red Sonja self), her series will be an integral part of the greater Legenderryuniverse.
Dynamite Entertainment’s Legenderry spin-off titles will be solicited in an upcoming issue of Diamond Comic Distributors’ Previews catalog, the premiere source of merchandise for the comic book specialty market. After solicitation, comic book fans are encouraged to reserve copies with their local comic book retailers. Legenderry, both the existing series and the upcoming Red Sonja, Vampirella, and Green Hornet expansions, will also be available for individual customer purchase through digital platforms courtesy of Comixology, Dynamite Digital, iVerse, and Dark Horse Digital.
This gets a HYPE ALERT rating since I’m in it, but Marisa Stotter’s documentary She Makes Comics will finally be available on December 9th—either as a DVD from Sequart or via digital download. The film was directed by Stotter and produced by Patrick Meaney and Jordan Rennert of Respect! Films, with exec producers Julian Darius and Mike Phillips (both of Sequart) and Columbia University comics librarian Karen Green. The film was screened a few weeks back and everyone who saw it greatly enjoyed it. I enjoyed being interviewed for it, and it’s a story well worth telling, if I do say so myself. Previous documentaries of comics interviews often included a few women, but this puts the spotlight on key figures in the history of comics including Karen Berger, Wendy Pini and Kelly Sue DeConnick.
The film was funded on Kickstarter. Previous Sequart films include Grant Morrison: Talking with Gods, Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts, and The Image Revolution (I’m in a couple of those too MORE HYPE.)
She Makes Comics tells the little-known story of women in comics, highlighting the contributions they have made to the medium since the turn of the 20th century. It features interviews with such prominent figures as historian Trina Robbins,Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, underground comics artist Joyce Farmer, former DC Comics publisher Jenette Kahn, Wendi Pini, Colleen Doran, Karen Berger, and dozens of others.
She Makes Comics is now available to order on DVD and as a digital download at SheMakesComics.com. The digital version ships on 9 December. DVD orders shipping domestically and placed by 16 December will arrive in time for the holidays.
Dynamite is going European in October with the In Search of Lost Dragons art book. It sounds like an art book with a journal/scrapbook motif and a bit of background story surrounding the art.
July 14, 2014, Mt. Laurel, NJ: Dynamite Entertainment is proud to announce the October release of In Search of Lost Dragons, a gorgeous illustrated storybook that captures glimpses of the majestic flying reptiles hiding throughout our world. For the first time ever, the sensational French art book by celebrated storytellers Elian Black’Mor, Carine-M, and Jézéquel is adapted to English in a luscious, full-color, and oversized hardcover, presenting over 200 pages of dragon illustrations and Victorian-style sketches with a captivating accompanying narrative.
Originally published in France as Sur La Piste Des Dragons Oublies, this fantastic adventure follows an intrepid illustrator and reporter’s journeys from Europe through the Middle East and finally to Saigon in search of the dark caverns and mountaintop perches where the elusive winged serpents dwell. With the gift of seeing the invisible, our explorer friend records each encounter in a journal of gorgeous, fully painted artwork, capturing every majestic and fearsome visual detail of the scaly behemoths, and accompanies his findings with snippets of local lore as evidence that these hidden beasts continue to shape the world in ways we may never expect.
With its insightful journal entries, newspaper clippings, and incredible paintings and sketches, In Search of Lost Dragons is an experience that fully immerses the reader in a realm of magic and mythology, hidden in the far-off reaches of our own world. Art enthusiasts will especially marvel at the hardcover’s numerous fold-out pages, displaying larger dragon illustrations that measure approximately 24 inches in length.
“Reading In Search of Lost Dragons is a joyously overwhelming experience,” says Keith Davidsen, Marketing Manager of Dynamite. “Flipping through its pages, you can almost feel the same wonder and amazement as its narrator upon his discovery of a long-lost, beautiful beast. It’s full of warmth and wit, and its paintings are breathtaking. We are proud to bring this masterpiece across the Atlantic for English language audiences to enjoy, and feel very strongly that Lost Dragons would be a perfect holiday gift item for each of the fantasy fans in our lives.”
In Search of Lost Dragons will be solicited in Diamond Comic Distributors’ August Previews catalog, the premiere source of merchandise for the comic book specialty market, and slated for release in October. Fantasy fans are encouraged to reserve copies of In Search of Lost Dragons with their local comic book retailers, or by placing preorders through online booksellers.
Evil Ernie, last seen in Dynamite’s Chaos! mini-series, will be returning in his own series. Ernie was one of the mainstays of the ’90s Chaos comics line and a pretty hot property back before the independent publishers started to consolidate in the late 90s.
The team on Evil Ernie will be Tim Seeley (Chaos!, Revival, Hack/Slash, Batman Eternal) co-writing with his brother Steve Seeley (Hoax Hunters). Art will be handled by Rafael Lanhellas (Warlord of Mars).
PR and art follows:
July 15, 2014, Mt. Laurel, NJ: Dynamite Entertainment is proud to announce the upcoming launch of Evil Ernie, a comic book series showcasing the most iconic horror fiend in the industry and the cornerstone of the popular Chaos! Comics shared universe. Co-written by Chaos! architect Tim Seeley (Hack/Slash) alongside his brother and fellow writer Steve Seeley, Evil Ernie will feature interior artwork by talented artist Rafael Lanhellas. The first issue will debut in October 2014, and features a wide selection of cover options by Tim Seeley, Jae Lee, Carlos Rafael, Ardian Syaf, Kyle Hotz, Ken Haeser, and Andrew Mangum.
“Steve and I first discovered Evil Ernie when the first issue (of the classic 1990s series) came out. We were both teenagers, and our dad was a big horror movie fan, so we were plenty familiar with mayhem and massacre,” says Tim Seeley. “But something about seeing this punk teenager trying to take out the entire world really appealed to us. So, when a new Evil Ernie series was available, Steve and I figured it’d be a great time to debut out first brother-on-brother comic book collaboration, as we return Ernie to his anti-hero/slasher movie roots. This is going to be tongue-in-cheek, apocalyptic slasher movie comic book goodness, loaded with everything that two guys spent their teenage years neck deep in: heavy metal, horror, and comics.”
“Tim knows horror like few other writers in comics today. The Seeley brothers demonstrate their knowledge of and passion for Evil Ernie on each page of the scripts, and I can’t wait for fans to read this suspense and horror-filled adventure,” says Dynamite CEO/Publisher Nick Barrucci.
In Evil Ernie #1, the teenage psychopath Ernest Fairchild is dead, resigned to Hell where he belongs. But when reality is threatened by an evil even the Devil can’t handle, he calls on the only weapon that can prevent total megadeath: Evil Ernie himself. Meanwhile, the genocidal Mistress Hel has found new love… or perhaps the term “loves” would be more appropriate. A tale that follows in the wake of the Chaos! mini-series event yet welcomes new readers with an easy jumping-on point, Evil Ernie proves that the deadliest mass murderer of all time may be the world’s only hope.
Dynamite will celebrate the new Evil Ernie #1 with a variety of cover options. Co-writer Tim Seeley performs double-duty by supplying the Main cover. Variant cover editions feature the talent of Carlos Rafael (Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris), Ardian Syaf (Batgirl), Kyle Hotz (The Hood), and Ken Haeser (The Living Corpse). To celebrate the classic Chaos! Comics art style, an “Old School” variant is supplied by Andrew Mangum. Finally, superstar illustrator Jae Lee (Batman/Superman, The Dark Tower) provides a special incentive cover to encourage strong pre-orders from comic shop retailers.
Evil Ernie #1 will be solicited in Diamond Comic Distributors’ August Previews catalog, the premiere source of merchandise for the comic book specialty market, and slated for release in October. Comic book fans are encouraged to reserve copies of Evil Ernie with their local comic book retailers. As with sister titles Chastity and Purgatori, Evil Ernie will also be available for individual customer purchase through digital platforms courtesy of Comixology, iVerse, and Dark Horse Digital.
You probably already heard, but Quentin Tarantino is co-plotting a Django (Unchained)/Zorro cross-over with Matt Wagner. If you’ve seen his movies, you’ll find plenty of comics references in him, so it should be no surprise to you Tarantino is into the medium. He’ll be on Dynamite’s panel at the San Diego Comicon on (Sunday) July 27th at 2:15.
He’s also bringing along Reggie Hudlin, who was co-producer on Django. Hudlin used to be best known for writing and directing the original House Party movie, before he got in touch with his inner geek. In Beat circles, he’s now better known for producing the Boondocks cartoon and writing comics. Black Panther and Spider-Man over at Marvel and then the Django comics adaption at Vertigo.
Full PR follows:
July 15, 2014, Mt. Laurel, NJ: Dynamite Entertainment is proud to announce that pioneering filmmaker Quentin Tarantino and award-winning writer Matt Wagner will be joining the Dynamite 10th Anniversary Panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2014. The two master storytellers will discuss bringing two Western icons together in Django / Zorro, the official comic book sequel to the blockbuster film Django Unchained, slated for release in November 2014 from Dynamite Entertainment and DC Entertainment.
On stage, Tarantino and Wagner will join Reginald Hudlin, the co-editor of the Django / Zorro crossover and a producer of the Django Unchained film; Nick Barrucci, CEO and Publisher of Dynamite Entertainment; and Joseph Rybandt, the Senior Editor of Dynamite.
The Dynamite 10th Anniversary Panel will take place on Sunday, July 27th, from 2:15pm to 3:15pm, in Room 6BCF. The panel will be moderated by Alan Kistler, and is open admission to all ticketed convention attendees.
Dynamite Entertainment released a joint announcement with Zorro Production, Inc. and DC Entertainment on June 18th, announcing the Django / Zorrocomic book series scheduled for release later this year. Tarantino (perhaps best known for his films Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill) and Wagner (of the acclaimed Grendel and Zorro comic books) share plot duties on the new series, with Wagner providing final dialogue and Esteve Polls (The Lone Ranger) illustrating the work.
Regarding the Django / Zorro crossover, Tarantino says, “I’m very, very excited about both this story and the opportunity to work with Matt. It was reading his Zorro stories that convinced me what a good idea it was to join these two icons together. The story idea we came up with is thrilling, and I think it will be an exciting new chapter for both characters.”
“We’re extremely grateful that San Diego Comic-Con was able to give us such a great time slot for our panel to help cap off the show, and excited that Quentin and Matt will help headline the panel. We cannot wait to interact with our fans, talk about our upcoming projects, and answer questions,” says Dynamite CEO/Publisher Nick Barrucci.
San Diego Comic-Con International is a multigenre entertainment and comic convention held annually at San Diego Convention Center, this year between July 24th and July 27th. It is the largest convention of any industry in the Western Hemisphere, with over 130,000 attendees and massive media attention.
Dynamite is celebrating it’s 10th anniverasy with a special issue of Army of Darkness, Army of Darkness #1992.1 (after the year the film was released). This is appropriate, given that the Army of Darkness license was what started Dynamite down the path of becoming a publisher.
Solicited for November, this is a bit of a “let’s get the band back together” double-sized event. Past creators returning to the franchise include Steve Niles, Elliott Serrano, Cullen Bunn, James Kuhoric, and Mike Raicht.
“It’s great to be able to spend some time with Ash again after seeing him running around with Steve Niles for the past year. I missed the big dope,” says Elliott Serrano. “And by big dope I mean Ash.”
DYNAMITE HAILS TO THE KING WITH ARMY OF DARKNESS #1992.1,
THE DOUBLE-SIZED CELEBRATION OF THE ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE IN MEDIEVAL TERROR
July 21, 2014, Mt. Laurel, NJ: Dynamite Entertainment is inviting fans everywhere to join the celebration with a very special Army of Darkness tale, dedicated by its issue number to honor the year of the original cult film’s release. Army of Darkness #1992.1 will be a commemorative square-bound edition, featuring short stories of demon-hunting hero Ash Williams written by the series’ greatest terror talents of issues past, including Steve Niles, Elliott Serrano, Cullen Bunn, James Kuhoric, and Mike Raicht.
Army of Darkness #1992.1 celebrates the history of Dynamite’s publishing by inviting many of its most notable writers to contribute short vignettes. Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) is the most recent contributor to the saga, with tales of medieval terror in Ash and the Army of Darkness and Army of Darkness: Ash Gets Hitched. Elliott Seranno contributed such story arcs as “Hail to the Queen, Baby” and “The King is Dead.” James Kuhoric (Six Million Dollar Man: Season 6) wrote some of the earliest Dynamite adventures, including “Shop ‘Til You Drop Dead” and “Army of Darkness Vs. Reanimator.” Mike Raicht (Dark Shadows) contributed the storylines “Hellbillies and Deadnecks” and “Home Sweet Hell.”
Meanwhile, Cullen Bunn is a celebrated comic book author (Deadpool, Magneto, Sixth Gun) tackling Army of Darkness for the first time, and setting up its hero for the next adventure. As Senior Editor Joseph Rybandt says, “Army of Darkness will always have a special place in our collective hearts, as ten years ago, it was our very first title. We’ve thrown everything at Ash in the interim, but we’re throwing him into space next. And it all starts here.”
“I’m proud to be a part of this incredible celebration, but truth be told, they couldn’t have done it without me.” States Asley J. Williams, star of the movie and comics. “When they suggested the #1992.1, I said, that sounds great! I told them that this was the highest numbered comic of all time. They stated that another company had done a #1 Million, and shotgun in hand I explained to them how that was a stunt and this is the real deal, so all I can say is, buy it, you’ll love it.”
“What better way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Dynamite than with an incredible over-sized Army of Darkness story,” said Nick Barrucci, CEO and Publisher of Dynamite Entertainment. “This special is in time for our 10th anniversary and serves as a holiday present to our fans! Comics and movie fans alike will not want to miss this issue.”
Army of Darkness is a 1992 fantasy/comedy film with strong horror elements starring Bruce Campbell (Burn Notice) and Embeth Davidtz, the third installment in a trilogy featuring reluctant hero Ash Williams. Directed by Sam Raimi (Spider-Man), the film saw its tough-as-nails, wise-cracking protagonist transported from the modern era to the Dark Ages in his continuing war against demonic evil. Army of Darkness generated a dedicated fan following for its premise and lead actor.
Cullen Bunn is really spreading himself around these days. The Sixth Gun at Oni. Magneto and Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe at Marvel. Sinestro at DC. You can add Masks II at Dynamite.
Masks, which came out in 2012, was essentially a team-up mini-series for Dynamite’s pulp heroes line. The Shadow, The Spider, Green Hornet, Green Lama, Black Bat, Black Terror, Miss Fury and Zorro (after a fashion) up against an fascist takeover of New York, based loosely on the old “Empire State” trilogy from the original Spider pulps. Masks sold well (the first issue had interior art from Alex Ross – something we don’t seem much of these days). Seeing as how Dynamite has since acquired the rights to Doc Savage and The Spirit, it would not surprise me at all if those characters appeared in the sequel.
ACCLAIMED WRITER CULLEN BUNN WRITES MASKS II
AN EPIC COMIC BOOK EVENT UNITING ICONIC PULP HEROES
July 21, 2014, Mt. Laurel, NJ: Dynamite Entertainment is proud to announce that comic book writer Cullen Bunn (Deadpool, Magneto) will tackle their wide cast of company-owned and licensed pulp heroes in Masks II. Following upon the success of the bestselling 2012 Masks miniseries, Masks II will unite iconic crime-fighters of singular purpose (if not diverse ideologies and techniques) in an epic miniseries event designed to appeal to both longtime fans and fresh newcomers. Dynamite plans to launch Masks II in late 2014.
“I couldn’t be more excited to be working on Masks II,” says Bunn. “I’ve always loved these great classic characters that I will have the privilege of working with, and I’m striving to keep the tone of the pulps that have always been a big inspiration for me. I’ll admit, this project is a little intimidating, because I’ve put together a very ambitious team-up story that readers will have to see to believe!”
The original Masks series launched in 2012 with industry fanfare, with its #1 issue ranking among the bestselling independent comic books of the year and selling over 70,000 copies. Drawn to the premise by the work of superstar painter Alex Ross, writer Chris Roberson, and artist Dennis Calero, readers thrilled to an adventure that united classic characters like The Shadow, The Spider, The Green Hornet, and Kato against a cadre of corrupt politicians and their fascist police state. Masks II promises to follow the themes established within that first series, but in a way that’s perfect for new readers.
Bunn recently released his debut work with Dynamite Entertainment, a standalone tale presented in The Shadow #0 that teamed the supernatural vigilante with legendary escape artist Harry Houdini. Masks II marks his first foray into the long-form comic story for Dynamite.
Cullen Bunn is a freelance writer perhaps best known for Marvel Comics’ popular Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe and Magneto series, as well as the Oni Press series The Damned and The Sixth Gun. He is also a short story writer and novelist; his major publications outside of the comic book sphere include Crooked Hills and Creeping Stones & Other Stories. He has been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award (2012), the Eisner Award (2012), and the Ghastly Awards (2011), and is the winner of Broken Frontier’s “Best Writer Independent” Award (2011).
“Since Day One we’ve strived to deliver high-octane action on Masks,” said Nick Barrucci, CEO and Publisher of Dynamite Entertainment. “The fresh style that Cullen brings to comics is exactly what makes him the perfect choice to fit the bill. He’s our absolute top choice for a project of this caliber!”
Dynamite will be starting a new Lone Ranger series in November. Justin Gray will be writing it, which is interesting for a couple reasons. First off, it’s unusual to see Gray’s name without his usual co-writer/co-conspirator, Jimmy Palmiotti. Secondly, Gray (along with Palmiotti) is the longest tenured writer of the western genre in recent memory. His association with Jonah Hex goes back to 2006, so that’s 8 years. Although if you wanted to make the argument that All-Star Western wasn’t a western, so much as a comic with a western lead, I probably wouldn’t quibble. Either way, Jonah Hex and All-Star Western were two of DCs most consistently well-reviewed series of the last decade.
Joining Gray on art will be Rey Villegas, who’s been doing Lady Zorro for Dynamite.
JUSTIN GRAY, WRITER OF JONAH HEX,
RIDES INTO DYNAMITE WITH THRILLING NEW CHAPTER
IN THE LONE RANGER‘S HISTORY
July 22, 2014, Mt. Laurel, NJ: Dynamite Entertainment is proud to announce the signing of Justin Gray, who will be continuing Dynamite’s long standing success with America’s quintessential Western hero, as he takes the reins on a brand new series of The Lone Ranger. Launching with a new #1 in November 2014, The Lone Ranger will feature the exciting interior artwork of Rey Villegas (Lady Zorro), as well as covers by John Cassaday (Uncanny Avengers, Astonishing X-Men) and Marc Laming (All-New Invaders, Kings Watch).
“I’m proud to be working with one of the longest standing and best known Western characters in all of literature, because to me The Lone Rangerrepresents a moral code, unquestionable justice and a sense of adventure that embodies the classic American western,” says Justin Gray.
No stranger to Western thrills, Justin Gray is a frequent contributor to Jonah Hex and All-Star Western, tales of an Old West gunslinger set within the larger DC Comics continuity. Gray has contributed to dozens of name-recognizable titles from Marvel Comics and DC Comics, including Batwing, Ame-Comi Girls, Punisher, Power Girl, Countdown, and many more.
Since his radio debut in 1933, the masked Lone Ranger has endured as an icon of American culture. Dynamite first launched The Lone Ranger as a comic series in 2006, written by Brett Matthews and illustrated by Sergio Cariello. Its #0 prelude issue was a part of that year’s nationwide Free Comic Book Day celebration, and the series would go on to score an Eisner Nomination for best new series in 2007. A second volume of The Lone Rangerfollowed, as did such miniseries called The Lone Ranger and Tonto and The Lone Ranger: Snake of Iron.
“We are incredibly excited to have Justin on board for this title,” said Nick Barrucci, CEO and Publisher of Dynamite Entertainment. “We’ve had a great run with The Lone Ranger as one of our most consistent critically acclaimed comics, and needed someone who we could trust to fill these ‘big boots,’ continuing one of the best Western heroes ever. With a track record like his, we’re in for a Western comic that we won’t soon forget!”
The Lone Ranger #1 will be solicited in Diamond Comic Distributors’ September Previews catalog, the premiere source of merchandise for the comic book specialty market, and slated for release in November. Comic book fans are encouraged to reserve copies of The Lone Ranger #1with their local comic book retailers. The Lone Ranger will also be available for individual customer purchase through digital platforms courtesy of Comixology, iVerse, and Dark Horse Digital.
As you may recall, Dynamite and Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. came to an understanding a little while back and we’re continuing to see the fruits of the agreement. The John Carter franchise has been practically a sub-line for Dynamite with Warlord of Mars, Deja of Mars, Lords of Mars and Warriors of Mars. Now they finally get to have a title called John Carter: Warlord of Mars, which will be the flagship title for that family of comics.
Ron Marz will be writing. (Marz of Mars? I see what you did there, Dynamite.) Art will be by Abhishek Malsuni.
Official PR and some more art follow:
DYNAMITE SIGNS RON MARZ TO NEW ONGOING JOHN CARTER: WARLORD OF MARS ONGOING SERIES
BURROUGHS’ ICONIC HERO RETURNS TO COMICS WITH NEW #1 LAUNCH IN NOVEMBER
July 21, 2014, Mt. Laurel, NJ: Dynamite Entertainment is proud to announce a brand new chapter in the history of Edgar Rice Burroughs creation, John Carter: Warlord of Mars, to be written by the masterful pen of comics legend Ron Marz. Illustrated by newcomer Abhishek Malsuni, John Carter: Warlord of Mars is the newly-minted cornerstone of the publisher’s Warlord of Mars line, launched in the wake of their May 2014 announcement of the comprehensive licensing agreement between Dynamite and Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.
John Carter: Warlord of Mars welcomes science fiction and fantasy fans to the exotic landscape of Barsoom, where displaced earthling John Carter has to save his adopted world, not to mention his beloved Dejah Thoris, from an enemy like no other he has ever faced. John Carter must truly become a Warlord of Mars against an adversary who is every bit his equal on the savage red planet.
Marz’s enthusiasm for John Carter has been building for many years. He says, “This is literally a job I’ve been wanting to do since I was twelve years old. I was just the right age when I discovered John Carter, Dejah Thoris, Tars Tarkas, and the wonder of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars. It fired my imagination like almost nothing else. So to finally get a chance to write these characters, to visit that world, is a dream come true for me.”
Ron Marz is an industry veteran with decades of experience as a writer and editor under his belt. He is best known for his work on Green Lantern andSilver Surfer, and as one of the original creative masterminds behind CrossGen Comics. His more recent work includes Witchblade, Cyberforce, andVoodoo. He currently lives in upstate New York with four horses, three children, two dogs and one wife.
“We are incredibly excited about Ron coming on board for this project,” said Nick Barrucci, CEO and Publisher of Dynamite Entertainment. “When we originally launched the Warlord of Mars series in 2010, Ron and I ran into each other at a comic convention, and Ron grabbed me by the shoulders and said something to the effect of, ‘How can you launch a John Carter series and not call me to write it?’ It wasn’t a question. It was a statement! As we looked at the potential creators for this series, we instinctively remembered Ron’s passion for the mythos. He is simply the perfect fit. Add in the fantastic art by Abhishek Malsuni and Neeraj Menon, this series will take John Carter to new heights.”
John Carter debuted in 1912 as the lead character in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ first novel, serialized as Under The Moons Of Mars in the pulp magazine,The All-Story, and later published as a complete novel retitled A Princess of Mars. The character excited the imagination of readers and quickly imprinted onto the public psyche. As many literary and popular culture scholars attest, John Carter served as the template for a litany of adventure heroes to follow, from Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and Superman to the Jedi Knights of Star Wars fame and Avatar.
Dynamite’s John Carter: Warlord of Mars comes on the heels of the reacquisition of comic book rights by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. that had been held by Walt Disney Pictures and its Marvel Entertainment subsidiary, as well as a recent legal settlement with Dynamite that cleared the way for Dynamite to introduce key characters and plot elements from the John Carter backstory that were, until now, absent from recent comic book interpretations.
John Carter: Warlord of Mars #1 will be solicited in Diamond Comic Distributors’ September Previews catalog, the premiere source of merchandise for the comic book specialty market, and slated for release in November. Comic book fans are encouraged to reserve copies of John Carter: Warlord of Mars #1 with their local comic book retailers. John Carter: Warlord of Mars will also be available for individual customer purchase through digital platforms courtesy of Comixology, iVerse, and Dark Horse Digital.
Grant Morrison’s got some structure in mind for his upcoming Multiversity series and now we have a map to prove. As you might expect, the map has a serious New Age feel to it. Heaven and Hell show up in the ring around the multiverse along with Heaven and Hell in the “Sphere of the Gods.” The “Monitor Sphere” surrounds the Sphere of the Gods. Is that as in The Monitor and the Anti-Monitor (who’s recently turned up again)? An excellent question. The Rock of Eternity sits below the “House of Heroes” in the center.
Entertainment Weekly has the announcement.
Frequent collaborators on mysteriously short-lived Image projects, Jim Zub and Edwin Huang have been announced as the creative team for a new issue #1 from Image in June, Dark Skullkickers Dark #1. And that’s not a typo – the extra Dark is there for a reason.
And that reason is because the comic is dark.
This is, of course, the most recent ‘relaunching’ from the Skullkickers team, who have spent the last few months designating each new issue of Skullkickers as a different #1 relaunch. Each time they relaunch, they add a different adjective in front, like ‘Mighty’ or ‘Savage’, poking fun (but also emphasising) the bizarre importance that the comics market puts on relaunches and short-term storytelling.
Next month will probably see Trinity of Sin: Skullkickers announced. In a fun press release (and you know there’s nothing I find more entertaining than a press release, guys!), Zub quotes Image’s PR and Marketing Director Jennifer De Guzman thus:
It’s a pale reflection of the industry’s need to spin rebooted series through endless hype, turning the crazed hamster wheel of entertainment promotion until it’s fallen apart. Good-bye, integrity.
This whole thing – which has generated consistently higher sales for the series – is a pointed criticism aimed at all the comic book websites which value a quick spike in internet traffic over covering important or worthwhile news stories. Here’s the variant cover for the issue!
Where was I? Ah yes, comic sites which are obsessed with printing press releases and quoting verbatim rather than writing something new or useful for readers. Here’s a quote from Zub about the subject:
Fun comic books are a thing of days past. In order to grab a modern audience I’ve dipped into the darkness of my own heart and spilled my blood upon the pages of this sequential masterpiece. Oh yeah, there’s beer in it too.
(The first issue of Dark Skullkickers Dark will be out in June.)
Morning in Britain means more British comics talk! The Beat slowly forces its way into multiculturalism, and isn’t it wonderful? Hopefully eventually we’ll bring in a reporter from Fiji, and really nail this 24/7 news cycle thingy.
2000AD have been on a marketing offensive recently, as you’ll probably have noticed. Following the digital release of Greg Staples’ Judge Death teaser yesterday, the magazine has also been quick to push forward with two more digital teasers. The first announces that issue 1824 will be advertised as a ‘jump on point’ for new readers, with the entire issue made up of new stories and strips, which won’t lock readers out of continuity.
The second of their images takes a friendly shot at Marvel’s recent announcement that they’ll be trying out a weekly digital series in June, featuring Wolverine. The teaser reminds readers that perhaps this isn’t the most radical of moves…
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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Mike Molcher is the PR Co-ordinator for Rebellion, meaning he is the man directly responsible for promoting their comics, 2000AD and Judge Dredd Megazine. If you’ve noticed over the last few months that more people are talking about 2000AD, be it the recent ‘Trifecta’ storyline, or the ‘gay Judge Dredd’ teaser which got picked up everywhere – that’s Mike Molcher’s work. He’s also an interviewer and writer himself, who has interviewed many of the key figures who have worked at 2000AD over the years, including Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Dave Gibbons and Carlos Ezquerra.
But how do you go about promoting a company like 2000AD, which releases a new anthology EVERY WEEK? I spoke to Mike about his work with the company, to see how exactly he goes about promoting the series. And what is comic book marketing, anyway? How does it work? Is this interview secretly all part of his marketing plan?
By reading this, have we become trapped in Mike Molcher’s sinister plans for 2000AD to take over the world? Oh dear…
Steve: I’ll start with a self-sabotaging question: since 2005 you’ve been involved with interviewing some of the most influential 2000 AD creators – from Alan Moore to Carlos Ezquerra. What makes for a good interview?
Mike: Oof, tough start! I can’t say mine are particular exemplars of good practice so I can only speak about the interviews I enjoy reading – they tend to be the ones that actually stray away from what’s on the comic book page to what’s going on in the mind of the creator, what motivates them, what inspires them, what grinds their gears. By uncovering these things the interviewer can begin to form a picture of the roots of that person’s creativity. Talent and ability never exist in isolation, they have always come from somewhere (usually thanks to a lot of hard work) and it’s the people of comics that I find most fascinating. I like to think my interviews try and achieve that (he said, nervously).
Steve: Before you took on your current role, you worked as a features writer for 2000 AD. How did you first come to get involved with the company in this respect?
Mike: I think it was Matt Badham who first mentioned to me that 2000 AD was looking for creator interviews and features. At the time I was a local newspaper reporter in the north of England but had started up my own self-published magazine, The End is Nigh, which took a Fortean Times-style look at end-of-the-world theories. I’d interviewed Alan Moore about the apocalyptic aspects of his work and his ideas on the approaching human singularity, so I did a retrospective on him for the Judge Dredd Megazine. That opened the door to interviews and I’ve been doing them ever since. Fortunately it meant that when I applied for the job they already knew me and knew that I was a big 2000 AD fan.
Steve: Obviously, your goal as a features writer is to promote and flesh out the company you’re writing for at the time. Do you think there’s a natural step between journalism and PR? How do you alternate between the two?
Mike: I don’t know what it’s like in the States, but you’ll find many of the big names in PR in Britain started out as journalists in some respect. Personally, I’d say that firsthand experience of what goes on inside the head of a journalist and what makes a good story is invaluable when you’re trying to reach out to reporters and reviewers. I continue to write creator interviews in my spare time for the Judge Dredd Megazine and Comic Heroes, so personally I think one compliments the other, because it keeps me abreast of what’s going on in the industry and how we can use that to our advantage at work.
Steve: Only a short while ago you moved to become Rebellion’s PR Co-ordinator. What sort of work does this involve on a day-to-day basis?
Mike: Answering a LOT of emails, mostly. 2000 AD represents just part of my work so I spend a lot of time writing press releases for new titles and announcements, keeping the social media side of things flowing, running blog tours for our three novel imprints, keeping track of the development of the various games Rebellion are working on, plus trying to work out new opportunities to promote our products. Fortunately we’ve recently taken on a marketing coordinator, Robbie Cooke, whose focus is more on the games side of things so he’s been a massive help with that.
Steve: Rebellion don’t just publish 2000 AD/Judge Dredd, but also handle novels and computer games. How do you structure your time between the three?
Mike: With a rather heavily annotated diary, a lot of scheduling, and an increasingly wrinkled brow. Working across three different industries can be pretty mad at times and making sure I give equal time to every new title and product can be damn hard work. Ultimately I have to judge whether something needs a slight PR nudge to sell or a heavy marketing shove out the door…
Steve: The Dredd movie came out last year, giving you a unique opportunity for promotion on a wider field. How did the movie affect the way you promoted the comics?
Mike: I very quickly learned that ANY mention of movies gets people really excited – our most shared image on Facebook was one I did publicizing the fact that DREDD was number one in the DVD and Blu-Ray charts over here and even the slightest mention of the movie would get a huge response. We’re constantly asked whether there are movies coming for our other characters, so it seems the magic of film hasn’t exactly diminished in the digital age!
We obviously went heavy on the promotion of Judge Dredd to tie in to the movie and that’s really paid off – the collected ‘Case Files’ have been flying off the shelves on both sides of the Atlantic – but I have tried to make sure that when someone discovers 2000 AD for the first time they quickly see that it’s not all about Dredd, as loveable as he is. We have a huge and constantly growing back catalogue of some of the greatest characters in comics, from Halo Jones to Nemesis the Warlock and more recent things like Shakara, Low Life and Brass Sun.
Steve: Were there any promotional campaigns you were surprised to see get less attention than others? Do you find, when promoting a comic to a film audience, there was a difference in reaction than when you promote more directly to comic fans?
Mike: Nikolai Dante ended last year after 14 years. And when I say ended, writer Robbie Morrison and artist Simon Fraser brought the Russian rogue’s story to a close. In effect, we killed off one of our most popular characters. And he ain’t coming back. For a comic book to do something as bold as that, I thought, deserved more attention – alas, no-one really picked up on the announcement. It may be that he never had the right profile outside of 2000 AD, but by the time I came on board it was a bit late to change the situation.
I don’t think there’s a big difference in the way you talk to the two audiences other than reminding yourself that the film audience won’t be as conversant in the language and culture of comics as someone who’s been reading them for years. The biggest question we got was “I loved the movie, where do I start reading?”. We were very fortunate that someone can see DREDD then walk into their local comic book and walk out with a comic featuring the same character they saw on screen; Karl Urban and Alex Garland nailed the character of Judge Dredd so perfectly that it was like he’d leapt off the page. So marketing to fans of the film was a case of giving them a good starting point (The Complete Case Files #4, if you’re interested, then #5 and then pick up a copy of ‘Origins’ and ‘America’) and then letting them discover it for themselves.
Steve: You’ve spearheaded several successful campaigns for 2000 AD over the last year – the ‘gay Judge Dredd’ promo picked up a lot of attention, in particular. How do you decide which comics might be suitable for a push, and which stories are going to pick up the most attention?
Mike: I talk to 2000 AD’s editor Matt Smith about what we have coming up and he’s very good at highlighting things that are noteworthy. For example, we recently had BPRD’s James Harren do his first Judge Dredd story and we’ve got a couple of big artist announcements coming in the next few months which are quite exciting. I always do a baseline social media push for each edition of 2000 AD – teasing new stories or returning series, promoting striking covers – but quite often there’s something specific to push like new or returning talent.
The ‘gay Dredd’ campaign was a particular highlight. Not every fan was pleased with my tactics there, but the wall by my desk covered in national and international media clippings and the 30% hike in sales for that particular issue (with high retention and new subscriber rates) makes me feel somewhat justified. It was the same for the return of the Dark Judges as part of the Judge Dredd: Day of Chaos storyline – we ran a great teaser campaign with CBR and the sales graphs all blipped upwards and stayed there.
Alongside the digital explosion our print edition is benefiting from the higher profile – over the past six months, the 2000 AD iPad app has not only grown our number of subscribers overall but has also bolstered the number of print subscribers. We’ve got clear data showing that promotion has played a major part in that, so I’ve been very pleased with our work over the past year.
Steve: Similarly, the Trifecta story from Al Ewing, Si Spurrier and Rob Williams got a lot of critical acclaim. Can you plan for that sort of buzz ahead of a story being released? Ahead of the issue being released, do you try to arrange for more people to get hold of review copies? How do you manage a story which you think is going to be critically acclaimed, by fans and by reviewers?
Mike: We decided very early on with Trifecta that we wouldn’t spoil the surprise, but that once it was out in the open it was all hands to the pumps – Al, Si, and Rob played along brilliantly and once it was out there we really pushed hard on the reaction from readers and from those reviewers who picked up on what was happening. The issues of Trifecta have been some of our biggest digital sellers as people hear the hype then go back and pick up the relevant issues.
Building word of mouth isn’t much use when it’s for a single weekly issue because by the time people have heard about it it’s already time for the next issue, but when you have an exciting ongoing storyline then you can really help spread the word. We do weekly press previews to bloggers and journalists; getting those all-important reviews means getting copies in the right people’s hands, something that I think we’re much better at doing now than we ever have been.
Steve: Are there any techniques which always help drive attention to a comic? Valiant’s successful relaunch, for example, seemed to have a lot to do with the way they publicised themselves ahead of the first comic release.
Mike: On a very basic level you can’t go wrong with new artwork, the return of popular characters, and intriguing teasers. Nothing’s better for getting social media buzz going than a juicy piece of art or a surprise announcement that your favourite character is coming back. The biggest attention-grabbers are when you change the game a little bit or find a niche no-one knew was there.
Steve: What do you think about the current state of American comics, in terms of marketing? Marvel and DC seem to have become a lot more ‘stunt’ orientated over the last few months. Every other day sees about fifty teaser images get released.
Mike: In an insanely competitive marketplace, it’s small wonder that the big two have to shout louder and louder about their books. I like what DC is doing with its ‘DC family’ blog and the campaigns on titles such as Journey into Mystery, Young Avengers and Spider-Man that Marvel has been running have been spot on (and I was blown away by the skill of their digital announcements at SXSW recently), while Image has completely reinvented itself over the last two years into something a lot closer to the feel and ethos of 2000 AD than I think any of us realise!
I often get asked why we promote 2000 AD the way that we do and why we don’t just let “word of mouth” do our work for us. 2000 AD has been on a hell of a run for the past decade and the word of mouth was very positive, yet we weren’t significantly building our readership. Two years of strong marketing and new distribution and we’re adding readers. It’s not rocket science.
Steve: 2000AD must be an interesting magazine to work on, because it’s a weekly anthology series. How do you focus your PR for each issue? Do you focus on creators, or characters – or the magazine as a whole, single product?
Mike: All of the above! And yes, it’s a constantly fascinating, evolving comic to work on. We have a brilliant stable of artists and writers who’ve really knocked it out of the park over the last 18 months, plus a tiny editorial team who are just as enthusiastic and passionate about 2000 AD as any reader. It can be challenging at times because many non-readers have an idea of it that’s 20 years out of date; all those great strips and creators are fantastic and amazing, but the past ten years of 2000 AD have been universally praised amongst fans as a second golden age and that’s pretty bloody exciting.
Steve: We’ve seen 2000AD building up a reputation overseas (which in this case means America) over the last year or so. How do you approach publicising the magazine abroad? Again, do you find you have to tailor the material you offer overseas readers?
Mike: It’s been a particular aim of mine to make us as much of a part of the comics mainstream in America as any other publisher and I believe we’re starting to get some traction there. I’d like to offer more previews of material to news sites, though it can be a struggle to make people understand that carrying 2000 AD news can bring in readers. We have a great relationship with sites like CBR and Comics Alliance, and some real advocates of our comics in people like Doug Wolk, Karl Keily, and Tucker Stone. We bring out one or two collections specifically for North America every month so it’s a case of publicising them as normal while bearing in mind that American and Canadian audiences may not be as au fait with the language and culture of British comics.
Steve: Do you think digital has evened the playing field a little, now everybody has access to comics from home?
Mike: Completely. For reasons unfortunately beyond our control many comic book readers in North America can’t get hold of 2000 AD as easily as we would like, so being able to beam each ‘Prog’ directly into their hands is a massive bonus. We have a reputation as a British comics powerhouse, so we just have to make sure people are intrigued enough to give 2000 AD a go.
Steve: What would you say is the key to working PR in the comics industry, in the current climate?
Mike: Good material to work with, constant attention to social media and a thick skin (I admit mine could be somewhat thicker).
Steve: What would you like to see more of from comic companies in 2013, in terms of PR, co-ordination, and marketing?
Mike: A bit more innovation, but then that’s easy for me to say and very hard to suggest ways in which you could do it. While marketing is important, it should never drive creative choices but I would like to see marketing that pointedly pushes out into other demographics and stresses aspects of comics beyond the obvious – the industry has a lot of work to do to convince people it’s not all spandex and T&A for teenage and not-so-teenage boys. But it must always be about working with the creative teams, who are the ones delivering the material in the first place.
Many thanks to Mike for his time. Big interview! Repay him by following him on Twitter. If you’d rather see a Tharg-approved twitter feed, however, then you can follow 2000AD too. And if that still isn’t enough Tharg endorsement, head over to 2000AD online.
By: Heidi MacDonald
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Hold onto your monocles, because it’s time for DC comics to make their first attempt at getting you to drop them in shock. The initial round of April ‘shock’ gatefold covers have been released via various locations – CBR, MTV Geek, DC’s Source blog, and so on – and I’ve collected them here. So far we have, I believe, seven officially released covers from DC, as part of their (formerly WTF) April promotion, from comics including Dial H, Batman, Stormwatch and Swamp Thing.
Each one of these is meant to make you spit out your Pimms in surprise – so, how well do they succeed?
Personally? Well.. I wasn’t shocked (my monocle remains trusty and proud), but I was pleasantly surprised by some of the stories suggested here. Mr Miracle’s return in Earth 2 is probably the best of the reveals so far, but that new Batwing also looks pretty familiar…
Valiant have released a teaser today, which teases (as teasers are wont to do) something coming up in July..
Well, I’m not a betting man, apart from the lottery which I bet on and lose every week – but could this be a new series from Valiant? Hmmmm…
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As predicted, Valiant’s teaser from earlier in the week was for a relaunch of their massively popular duo Quantum and Woody, who will be returning in July flanked by James Asmus, Tom Fowler, and Jordie Bellaire. And a goat.
The first issue of the series, which was originally launched all the way back in 1997 when I was still in primary school, will be out on July 10th, with a variety of variant covers from the likes of Fowler, Marcos Martin, Ryan Sook and Andrew Robinson. The Tom Fowler cover will have an interactive ‘talking cover’, with a goat that growls at you. Here’s Martin’s cover:
Talking about the series, Asmus says:
In all of comics, there’s no other book that mixed style and substance quite like Quantum and Woody. I was willing to literally kill someone for the chance to write the relaunch for the new Valiant Universe. I might have. Those first days after I got the call are a blur. But Quantum and Woody isn’t (just) a superhero book – it’s action-comedy, it’s family drama, it’s a boys-meet-goat tale that tugs at the heartstrings.
Valiant also released some preview pages from the first issue, c’est la vie:
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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Marvel have announced that they’ll be publishing two new titles soon, both tying-in to their Superior Spider-Man series, and both of them focusing on villains. Which means the Spider-Man franchise at Marvel will now be made up of six titles, all of which feature a villain-of-sorts in the main role. We have Scarlet Spider and Venom currently on the go, and now July will see The Superior Foes of Spider-Man and Superior Carnage both released into the world (presumably picked up by a cup/coaster combination, and subsequently thrown out a window).
The creative teams are pretty good! The Superior-Spider Foes will focus on the five-strong member of the current Sinister Six, who are made up of Speed Demon, Shocker, Beetle, Overdrive and Boomerang. This is being billed as an ongoing series, and will be written by Nick Spencer, drawn by Steve Lieber. Boomerang appears to be the central character here, although I’m not sure what the ongoing premise of the book will be. It seems like it’ll be a look at life as a for-hire supervillain, and all that entails. Double-crosses, failed heists, an inevitable upcoming appearance from Spider-Man…
Superior Carnage follows the previous two successful Carnage miniseries Marvel have put out recently. Zeb Wells won’t be writing this one, but another member of his writing room at Robot Chicken will be - Kevin Shinick. And whilst Clayton Crain will only be on covers this time round, that does make space for Steven Segovia to come in as artist for the five-issue mini. The mini will focus on another attempt to take over and control the ‘Carnage’ symbiote, but this time it’ll be a villain trying to cause trouble, in the form of The Wizard.
Both books are out in July.
First off, Baltimore Comic-Con is THIS WEEKEND. This is one of the most beloved events on the comics circuit and guests include:
Joe Hill, Neal Adams, Josh Adams, Ed McGuinness, David Finch, Ivan Reis, Brian Bolland, Stan Sakai, Cliff Chiang, Amanda Conner, JG Jones, Ryan Ottley, Jim Starlin, Mark Buckingham, George Perez, Frank Cho, Mike Mignola, Terry Moore, Chris Samnee, David Petersen, Keith Giffen, Adam Hughes, Barry Kitson, Paul Levitz, Thom Zahler, Mark Waid, Walter Simonson, Dean Haspiel, Steve Conley and many more!!!
What a great list! JUST GO! You will have an awesome time. I mysefl am making a triumphant return after a year off and will be there starting tomorrow morning. If you see me please come up and say hi!
AND NOW MY HYPE ALERT. As you may know, I am working as a consultant for Honest Tea representing their brand new graphic novel "Mission in a Bottle: The Honest Guide to Doing Business Differently–and Succeeding" in the comics world. As part of that on Sunday morning at 11 am I’ll be interviewing Honest Tea co-founder Seth Goldman about the book and more:
Baltimore Comic-Con is welcoming Honest Tea co-founder Seth Goldman for his only comics event appearance of the year as he talks about his new book, Mission in a Bottle: The Honest Guide to Doing Business Differently-and Succeeding.
Goldman will appear Sunday morning at 11 am in Room 305 to talk about the making of the book, the uses of nonfiction comics, and secrets of entrepreneurship in a panel moderated by The Beat and Publishers Weekly’s Heidi MacDonald.
You may have seen Goldman mentioned earlier this week in the Washington Post, talking about a new green business start-up. He’s a fascinating person, and I’m really looking forward to talking to him about graphic novels, small business start-ups, green businesses and more important stuff. Anyway end of hype, but here’s a page from the book, illustrated by the very talented Sungyoon Choi:
Well, we are getting down to a) the bare bones of emerging facts and b) the huge, blossoming never ending until they find the black box* range of speculation over what the hell actually happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. And here is Brad Meltzer, occasional comics writer and host of History Channel’s Decoded to speculate on bizarre non Tintin related theories about the disappearance of a jumbo jet off the radar’s of the world.
I am definitely holding out for inspiration from Tintin on this.
* If the flight did go on for seven hours after losing contact with Malaysian air traffic control, AND even if the black box is actually found, we might still never know what happened: the black box only records the last two hours of flight information.
Dynamite hit Book Expo with a pocketful of announcements today. Projects based on prose books with a mix of deal extensions and new deals. Projects that also might have resonance with the bookstore demographic for Book Expo.
The first announcement, coming clear out of left field, is Dynamite’s acquisition of the rights to the Shaft literary cannon. Yes, Shaft as in Richard Roundtree and Isaac Hayes. Ernest Tidyman originally wrote seven Shaft novels, co-wrote the first Shaft film and wrote the second Shaft film, Shaft’s Big Score (which was actually the third Shaft novel). Tidyman also did a little screenwriting, picking up the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for The French Connection and Clint Eastwood’s High Plains Drifter.
What all did they get?
These novels have long been out of print, and Dynamite intends to bring these back and make them available again. In addition, the new prose stories and Original Graphic Novels will be the first new Shaft stories, outside of the movie, since Tidyman’s passing. Further editorial plans for new comics and prose will be announced at a later date.
Dynamite has been doing a bit of prose with Chuck Dixon over on the eBook side of things and having some success. This is them branching out a little further in the prose area. The OGNs will figure prominently, no doubt, but the traditional book market aspect is a bit of a curve ball. Definitely appropriate to the venue, though.
Next up is an expansion of their relationship with Dean Kootz, a staple of the New York Times Bestseller list specializing in dark fantasy and horror. Dynamite’s adding licenses for Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein, Dean Koontz’s Christopher Snow and Dean Koontz’s Nevermore. Koontz will provide new stories for those properties.
Perhaps a bigger deal, though, a bit of elaboration is required:
Dynamite also announced it is further building its longstanding relationship with the literary icon, and is in discussion with Dean Koontz regarding publishing work based on 3 brand new original Koontz properties.
Under the deal currently being discussed, the 3 original properties are being created exclusively for Dynamite, straight from the mind of Dean himself. Each property will have at least 3 graphic novels published, to create a full program around the new work.
That brings the total of Koontz projects to 6, which practically makes it a sub-imprint.
Next up is Brandon Sanderson. Sanderson may be best known for finishing up Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, but has a number of his own series out, including Mistborn, Reavers, Stormlight Archive and Alcatraz.
A brilliant, new fantasy world, White Sand is split into two halves: on one side are the Daysiders, and on the other the Darksiders. Daysiders have a unique ability to control and manipulate sand, bending it to their will to attack, or protect, as they wish. Darksiders have their own unique abilities and culture, and must wear thick dark lenses while on the Dayside. Generally speaking, Daysiders and Darksiders do not get along…and White Sand follows the adventures of one particular Daysider, a boy named Kenton.
The White Sand Graphic Novels are based on Brandon Sanderson’s manuscript, and the graphic novels are the first published work to explore these worlds. As with Brandon’s other fantasy novels, White Sand takes place in his larger universe called the Cosmere, where consistent rules and themes are followed. The White Sand Graphic Novels will be as integrated into the Cosmere as any of Brandon’s other novels with many “Easter Eggs” for Brandon’s large fan base.
White Sand will be a 3 GN series.
Next up is Patricia Briggs, who is extending her Mercy Thompson deal.
This all new story is called “Hopcross Jilly”. In Hopcross Jilly, Mercy Thompson, shapeshifting coyote and member of the Tri-Cities werewolf pack, stumbles upon the buried bones of numerous dead children, and is soon hip deep in the mystery of a legendary fae–a mystery that could be the death of her!
Hopcross Jilly is an original story written by Patricia Briggs. Writer Rik Hoskins is on board to script the comics, and Tom Garcia is delivering the stunning artwork to this new series. The first issue of the 6-issue series is shipping monthly from Dynamite beginning in October, and will be available both digitally and in print. The graphic novel collection will be published in 2015.
Finally, we have Jim Butcher extending his Dresden Files deal:
Currently in the works is “War Cry” another original story taking place four months after the events depicted in Dead Beat, the 7th novel in the Dresden Files series. The first issue of War Cry ships next month, and the graphic novel will be published later this year.
Two more original Dresden Files graphic novels will be coming in 2015 and 2016. The details around the creative teams and stories in each graphic novel will be announced at a later date.
Granted, Book Expo is geared towards the bookstore market, where monthlies comics aren’t the norm, but Dynamite just released 5 graphic novel-centric announcements with literary origins and the return of an out-of-print cult novel series. Given the current situation between Amazon and Hachette, which everyone in comics should be paying attention to, I can’t help but notice (Shaft prose novels aside) these announcements are all deals that Amazon didn’t get. These projects are all roughly in the wheelhouse Amazon’s Jet City Comics imprint is trying to create for itself.
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Dynamite’s been doing Sherlock Holmes stories on a fairly regular basis for some time now. And really, given the recent court decision on Holmes being firmly in the public domain, there’s every reason to. The next entry in the Dynamite extension of the Holmes library will find the master detective crossing paths with the magician Harry Houdini. A fairly natural pairing, since Houdini had a lengthy engagement in London in 1900.
The creative team on this will be Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery, but known in comics circles for their work on Kill Shakespeare over at IDW.Press release and art follow:
Dynamite Entertainment is proud to announce that Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery will bring their skill for literary reimagining to a new comic book miniseries event, Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini. Best known for their acclaimed series Kill Shakespeare, Del Col and McCreery have joined with skillful artist Carlos Furuzono to bring two larger-than-life icons into conflict: the famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes and real-life stage magician and stunt performer Harry Houdini. The battle between sleuth and showman launches with its first issue in October, featuring cover variants by John Cassaday, Aaron Campbell, and Colton Worley.
“Sherlock Holmes and Harry Houdini are two of the most fascinating characters of the last hundred-plus years. Placing them together in the same world produces so many moments of mystery, intrigue, illusion, and reveal,” says Del Col, who then quips, “And that’s only during our research, in which Conor and I escaped near-death experiences while donning deerstalker caps.”
In Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini #1, famed detective Sherlock Holmes and brash showman Harry Houdini must combine forces to defeat a mysterious mystic dedicated to destroying Houdini’s career and killing anyone who gets in his way. But despite their singular purpose, the two titans have too much professional pride between them… and it’s only a matter of time until the deadliest sin has them facing off.
Del Col and McCreery took the comic book industry by storm with their creator-owned Kill Shakespeare series, launched in 2010. In addition to their comics work, they each have found a string of success in diverse entertainment venues. Del Col has worked in the music, film, and television industries, produced two independent feature films, and most recently assisted with the management of international pop star Nelly Furtado and her world tour. McCreery has served in both creative and business positions for film and television companies, contributed over 1,000 stories and articles for media outlets, and also provided expert analysis for Canada’s Business News Network.
Conor McCreery says, “Working with Dynamite is a blast. Their editorial team has proven repeatedly that they know how to make legacy characters like Sherlock Holmes come alive. We couldn’t wait to get the chance to work with and learn from some of the best minds in comicdom.”
“I cannot say enough about both the characters and the creative on this series. Sherlock Holmes is one of the most iconic fictional characters in the world, and an inspiration for other comic heroes. Harry Houdini oozed charisma and was a brilliant man as well, as demonstrated by his penchant for debunking spiritualists. The team-up of these amazing characters is perfect. We’ve wanted to have this meeting of two great minds for years, but didn’t want to place the project on the schedule until we had the right creative team, and Anthony and Conor are that team. They are intimidatingly smart… and you would have to be to write Holmes and Houdini. Anthony and Conor have proven how well they can handle historical literary characters, and now will add an iconic real-world character, Harry Houdini, to their resume,” says Dynamite CEO/Publisher Nick Barrucci.
Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini #1 will be solicited in Diamond Comic Distributors’ August Previews catalog, the premiere source of merchandise for the comic book specialty market, and slated for release in October. Comic book fans are encouraged to reserve copies of Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini with their local comic book retailers. The entire Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini series will also be available for individual customer purchase through digital platforms courtesy of Comixology, iVerse, and Dark Horse Digital.