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1. SDCC: Boom! Hints new Grant Morrison Book

by Zachary Clemente

With SDCC being only a day away – Boom! Studios teased us with their 15th convention announcement on twitter:

 

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We have no inkling what the project will be as of yet, but undoubtedly we’ll hear more about it during the con. Stay tuned!

 

4 Comments on SDCC: Boom! Hints new Grant Morrison Book, last added: 7/23/2014
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2. SDCC: Ron Marz tackles a Skylanders Ongoing at IDW

by Alexander Jones

Skylanders00-cvr-5fa17The acclaimed writer Ron Marz is tackling the popular video game franchise known as Skylanders in comic book form. The comic was announced this morning from IDW on their site under the San Diego Comic-Con exclusive content. The first installment into the series known as the Skylanders #0 will be available at the show. Marz was also involved in the Skylanders SWAP Force comic from IDW. Joining him on the new series are artists David Baldeon and Mike Bowden. The new title starts in October, and is going to be an ongoing monthly series. The author stated that in the first Issue of the series, every single character from the franchise will be present. He also teased multiple protagonists in the book.

More as the story develops.

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3. SDCC: Dynamite Nabs Will Eisner’s The Spirit

Spirit_Archives_Vol_1_1.jpgby Brandon Schatz

One day before the madness of this year’s San Diego Comic Con officially begins, Dynamite has announced their future intentions for Will Eisner’s The Spirit.

Most recently, the character has been a tangental part of the DC Comics line, starting with a ongoing originally helmed by Darwyn Cooke in 2006, before moving the character over to their ill-fated First Wave line alongside pulp heroes such as Doc Savage. He also briefly appeared in a Rocketeer crossover at IDW through an agreement with DC, who still held the rights for publication at the time.

This addition to Dynamite’s line makes perfect sense, as they seem to be building quite a library of pulp heroes. The company’s predication for those heroes to interact in various mini-series should make for some interesting content down the line. As it stands, we are still waiting on news as to who will be the creative team on any new book, as well as what form such a series would take.

More on this as it develops.

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4. SDCC 2014: Image Announces Giant-Size Kung Fu Bible Stories

If you’re checking out the list of Image SDCC 2014 exclusives, your eye probably fell across an item that wasn’t quite like the others. Available exclusively (for now) at this year’s convention is a strange and wonderful treasury sized anthology called Giant-Size Kung Fu Bible Stories. The title sells itself, but if you’re looking for a little more information, Image is happy to provide:
PRESS RELEASE:
Giant-Size Kung Fu Bible Stories
GIANT-SIZE KUNG FU BIBLE STORIES
KICKS DOWN SDCC’S DOOR
An exclusive collector’s edition you won’t want to miss
Edited by Erik Larsen (SAVAGE DRAGON) and Bruce Timm (Batman Adventures: Mad Love)—and just in time to take San Diego Comic-Con by storm—comes GIANT-SIZE KUNG FU BIBLE STORIES, a deluxe limited edition collection featuring the original stories of the world’s greatest cartoonists.This treasury edition format includes seven eye-popping, mind-melting stories from Erik Larsen, Bruce Timm, Adam Warren (Empowered), Tom Scioli (GØDLAND), Ryan Ottley (INVINCIBLE), Andy Kuhn (FIREBREATHER), and Arthur Adams (Uncanny X-Men). A collection years-in-the making, readers won’t want to miss out on this amazing special collector’s issue, an Image Treasury Edition.”Bruce Timm and I love Treasury Editions! Our goal was to create the greatest Treasury Edition in the history of mankind! To do that—we rounded up an all-star cast of killer cartoonists all committed to doing all-new characters and material worthy of the format!” said co-editor Erik Larsen. “The end result was something awesome to behold!”

Co-editor Bruce Timm gushed enthusiastically after having received his copies in the mail, “Got my box of big-ass funnybooks—y’know, it’s really great—good variety of stories and art styles—and it FEELS good—well worth the money.”

A limited number of GIANT-SIZE KUNG FU BIBLE STORIES will be available exclusively at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. It can be purchased at the Image Comics booth (#2729) for $20 each. Snap them up before they’re gone!

0 Comments on SDCC 2014: Image Announces Giant-Size Kung Fu Bible Stories as of 7/22/2014 9:53:00 AM
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5. Call for Submissions: cahoodaloodaling: The Animal Becomes Us

The Animal Becomes Us

Email submission deadline: September 30, 2014

Issue #14 of cahoodaloodaling—The Animal Becomes Us—is open for submissions. We’re leaving this wide open to interpretation. Consider this your open invitation to send anything from light verse about your animal companion to speculative were-animal stories. 


Submissions due 9/30/14. Guest editor TBA. Issue live 10/31/14. See more information on submitting and read past issues here.

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6. COMICS! COMICS! COMICS!

Prior to a few months ago I'd basically never read any comic before - ever. I've always enjoyed accompanying Adam to comic shops and browsing the different titles and artwork, but I'd never embraced the medium myself. I found comics difficult to read and follow - I often read the text boxes/bubbles out of order and was overwhelmed by the amount of visual information.

I'm not sure exactly what flipped the switch (I suspect my growing appetite for sci-fi stories) but this spring I decided to bite the comic bullet. I began with an adaptation of Ender's Game, Ender in Exile, because I really like the world building in Ender's Game, but was not a fan of the writing (I find Orson Scott Card often tells more than shows, undermining the emotional impact). Because comics are great for action and simplified character/dialogue, I figured by reading the comic version I could cut to the quick of the story without getting distracted by the writing. And thus began a new-found love affair with COMICS!

I'm happy to report that I am now a full-fledged comic enthusiast. I'm also downright inspired! I don't picture myself ever illustrating comics, but I admit that the writing part intrigues me. I've got a few ideas of my own floating around now, and maybe one day I'll be able to pin them down. For now, I'll stick to reading, thinking and collecting... It's all circling back to my trilogy idea. Some of what I've read below deals with similar themes and concepts. It's good to know what's already out there so I can keep crafting my story to be all the more my own. 

Below are the series I've read so far (not counting one-off single issues). I was pretty picky initially, opting only for comics in my genres of choice (sci-fi or fantasy) with impeccable artwork. My tastes are already broadening, expanding and evolving. I'm finding I like series that I didn't think I would and enjoying artwork that originally turned me off. I'm growing.

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0 Comments on COMICS! COMICS! COMICS! as of 7/18/2014 1:03:00 AM
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7. The Retailer’s View // The Death of Archie and Selling Comics

by Brandon Schatz

On Monday, the pop culture bereft owner of my shop phoned had asked if I had ordered enough of the “death of Archie thing” that was happening. As with all comics, the news of this event had been announced well in advance. As always, calls came pouring in over the telephone lines. People wanted the comic where Archie dies. I had to explain to them that it wouldn’t be happening until July. At this point, reactions would vary from uncomfortable silence to outright indignation. One such phone customer accused me of hoarding copies to sell for a premium at a later date. I had to bite my tongue before I told them they didn’t understand the first thing about books like this.

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When books like Life With Archie #36 hit the stands, the store gets a mountain of phone calls and visitors looking to get their mitts on copies of the books in question. A sizeable chunk of these people are just popping into the medium for a visit, having heard the news on the radio or television or from a friend. Most just want to have a copy to say they have it. Some even want to read the damn thing. Inevitably, the fever dies down (usually by the weekend, with a few stragglers looking for copies weeks, months and years later) and the effects are negligible. There’s very little that will turn someone who had no interest in reading comics into a full fledged Wednesday warrior overnight. Regardless, events like this always give me hope, and usually net a small handful of new customers who didn’t know we existed, and liked the service enough to return. Almost 100% of these return customers are people who took the time to actually read the book they came into purchase, instead of stashing it away in a box that they’ll bring back to us several years down the road for All The Money. Some books make this transition easier than others, offering a smooth read with interesting bits of storytelling that dig the hooks in. I remember the Death of Captain America netting quite a few return customers, as did the Death of Johnny Storm. I doubt the Death of Archie will have the same effect – and it all comes down to the company’s lack of experience when dealing with these big events.

When you open Life With Archie #36, you’re greeted with two full pages that explain the series to date in near excruciating detail. The opening gives new readers an overview of what the book was up until this point: an exploration of two possible futures where Archie married Betty and Veronica. This, along with the information that Kevin Keller is running for Senate on a platform of gun control and gay rights is all you need to know to enjoy what follows. Instead, the recap spends time talking about all the various differences and similarities between the two realities. It even spends a paragraph detailing the time that an Evil and Good Dilton almost destroy the Archie multiverse using science. None of this information is needed, and serves only to confuse the inexperienced reader who thinks they might want to dip their toe into the medium.

LifeWithArchie_36_RamonPerez.jpg

After selling comics at the shop for nearly eight years, I’ve come to realize that the best way to sell a comic is to give people as little information as possible. Have you ever sat through an hour long lecture as to why the Silver Age Legion is the best Legion? I sure have. You know what it didn’t do? Make me want to read Legion comics. In fact, it made me want to avoid them. Passion needs to be discovered, not explained – and Archie Comics failed in that this week. They did a poor job selling a book that was going to sell itself, something that could have been easily avoided with a stronger editorial hand.

The issue itself is quite good. Instead of giving new readers the same story in both realities, Paul Kupperberg and Pat & Tim Kennedy play things fast and loose with some pronouns and character placement, allowing the story to function viably in both realities, utilizing a form of brevity for the concept. It’s not high art by any means, but it’s a nice, suitable story that brings a character’s journey to a poignant end. The only failing seems to be how eager the company is to explain things that don’t need to be explained, giving the reader a jumble of information that would have been better served as a story they explored later, than explained in a blurb. That said, Archie is Archie, and will endure forever, so it’s not like people are going to be bucked off the train to Riverdale. The event continues to paint comics as a medium that is indesipherable to get into – after all, if you can’t understand what’s going on in an Archie title, what hope would you have for anything else on the stands.

Regardless, this book is going to sell. It was sold before it hit the stands, and will be a novelty for a long time to come. It’s just a shame it couldn’t sell the industry at the same time.

[Brandon Schatz has been working behind the comic book counter for eight years. He's spent the past four as the manager of Wizard's Comics and Collectibles in Edmonton, Alberta. In his spare time, he writes about the comics he likes over at Comics! The Blog and works on building his comic book recommendation engine over at Variant Edition. You can find him on twitter @soupytoasterson. The opinions expressed are those of Schatz and do not necessarily reflect those of The Beat]

7 Comments on The Retailer’s View // The Death of Archie and Selling Comics, last added: 7/18/2014
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8. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Brian Bolland

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Brian Bolland is a legend in comics, and would be just for his covers alone, but he’s also responsible for drawing classics like Batman: The Killing Joke, and Judge Dredd. He started his art career in his native United Kingdom illustrating his own fanzines while at art school, and then he moved on to contributing to underground publications like Friendz, Oz, and International Times. After he finished his course at The Central School of Art & Design in London in 1973 Bolland joined the talent agency Bardon Press Features, and was assigned various small comics jobs including a bi-weekly Nigerian comic called Powerman about an African superhero. Steady work continued from there, and he would eventually get to work on future comics hits 2000 AD, and Judge Dredd in the late 70′s.

He was recruited by Green Lantern artist Joe Staton who discovered him at a comics convention while visiting England, and thus the British Invasion of comics officially began! He started off doing covers for DC Comics, and then moved onto bigger projects like the 12 issue maxi-series Camelot 3000 with writer Len Wein. Later on he would be put more to use as a cover artist exclusively, rather than an interior artist, because his cover work is so detailed, and striking that I can only imagine how many thousands of comics he sold just based off his cover illustrations alone! Legendary covers for Grant Morrison’s Animal Man, The Invisibles, Wonder Woman, and The Flash solidified Brian Bolland as a legend in the industry. Throughout his carreer Bolland would also work on personal projects like the more sketchy styled Mr. Mamoulian, and the provocative The Actress and the Bishop.

In 2006 the book The Art of Brian Bolland was published, and it provides a very comprehensive overview of Bolland’s career including just about all of his classic covers, and examples of his photography work that he took while traveling the world over the years.

Brian Bolland has won numerous comics industry awards including over 5 Eisners, an Inkpot Award, and Favourite Artist in the British section of the Eagle Awards.

You can follow Brian Bolland on his blog here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com - Andy Yates

0 Comments on Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Brian Bolland as of 7/16/2014 5:23:00 PM
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9. Suffragette Lady: An Interview with Kate Charlesworth

On International Workers’ Day, the 1st of May, Jonathan Cape published Sally Heathcote, Suffragette, the second graphic novel written by Mary Talbot

, a semi-fictionalised history of the Women’s Suffrage movement in Britain, and a really well researched and gripping piece of work, in my opinion, and should be read by everyone, everywhere, as it is still hugely relevant to the times we’re in right now. On her previous book, Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, the artwork was all done by her husband, Bryan Talbot, but he was committed elsewhere this time ’round, so they needed an artist who they could work with, and who would understand what they were trying to do. They chose Kate Charlseworth, a Scottish cartoonist who had cut her teeth in the heady days of the British gay rights struggle, back in the 1970s and 1980s. So, when I got the chance to interview her – having previously interviewed both the Talbots [Bryan here, but Mary not online, I'm afraid] – I jumped at it.

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Pádraig Ó Méalóid: how did you become involved with the Sally Heathcote project?

Kate Charlesworth: In 2011, Bryan told me that Mary was working on the script of her second graphic novel – with a Suffragette theme – and would I be interested in drawing the pages, as he was committed to his Grandeville series, and just didn’t have the time.

And yes, I was interested!

PÓM: have you know the Talbots for a while, then? Or is it just that the comics world is a small one?

KC: Well, I’ve known Bryan for years, though our paths didn’t cross very often. And I’d never met Mary until I began working on her script. I suppose the comics world was a much smaller world back then. But Bryan knew my work.

PÓM: Any idea why Bryan asked you to do this, specifically?

KC: Hmm. given that he wasn’t available – Grandville – I think both he and Mary felt that it would be appropriate that a script written by a woman about the Suffragettes might be also illustrated by a woman. Although he was familiar with my work he found a drawing of mine – Virginia Woolf at Home, a sort of Bloomsbury pastiche; very detailed, very realistic, black and white line (not my usual style at the time) – which convinced him I could achieve the effect they were after.
VIRGINIA WOOLF@MONKS HOUSE

PÓM: What other work had you done, before this, which we might have seen?

KC: I was one of the contributors to Nelson, from Blank Slate Books, edited by Rob Davis and Woodrow Phoenix, and some years ago I was involved with Carol Bennett’s Knockabout imprints – Fanny and Dykes’s Delight – plus a couple of Knockabout editions, um, 7 Ages of Women and Women Out of Line. There’s a theme emerging here.

But most of my working life has been spent drawing cartoons, strips and illustrations in the mainstream press. I had a strip in New Scientist which ran for years, up til 2001, Life, the Universe and (Almost) Everything. I put the Almost in, in case Douglas Adams objected, which, amazingly, he did – or at least, his agent did. But you can’t copyright a title, and I carried on for a few more years. I had strips in the gay press from very early on – when there was a hard copy gay press – Gay News, The Pink Paper – very political times they were too. And I had a strip in The Guardian for a couple of years – Millennium Basin – pretension and nonsense in Islington, really.

There’s lots of stuff on the website.

PÓM: is there no longer a hard copy gay press in the UK, then?

KC: Not much. A couple of mainstream glossies (though they don’t ignore politics and important issues) and, I suppose, some small press and indie zines. And I’m guessing a bit there.

A combination of the internet and changing social attitudes pretty much removed the need for the papers and magazines which informed the community, acted as a lifeline for isolated LGBT folk (posted in plain envelopes) and, massively important, personal ads and contacts.

In its heyday, Gay News, a fortnightly paper, carried a 24-page literary supplement!

The golden age of the gay press…

PÓM: I’m guessing there wasn’t much money to be made working for small press at the time, or am I making a massive – and incorrect – assumption about that?

KC: Has there ever been? I was lucky enough to earn a living in the mainstream – newspapers, magazines, publishing (so different today – digital, less illustration commissioned for fewer hard copy publications, commissioning rates dropping like stones) so I didn’t really do that much small press stuff, if by small press you mean comics. The gay press was more about community, identity and politics. I sometimes worked for small mainstream publishing houses, and their rates could be perfectly decent. But mostly, not a great deal of dosh around.

PÓM: I know you’ve done at least one other book-length comics work, The Cartoon History of Time. Was this an out-growth of the strip in New Scientist?

KC: Yes, it was. And the New Scientist strip in turn rose from the ashes of a weekly black and white strip in The Independent, basically about Quantum Physics – I can’t right now remember it’s exact name… But it was pretty heavy going, no chickens. The science editor had done astrophysics at uni, so that’s what the strip was about. The Cartoon History of Time has recently been republished by Dover Books!

PÓM: I’m also very impressed to note you are in AARGH! I have a couple of copies of that somewhere, including one that I occasionally attempt to get the contributors to sign.

KC: Why thank you. I think that came after Strip Aids, which was put together by Don Melia, a gay cartoonist who was incensed by the attitude of the Evening Standard‘s cartoonist (Jak, I think) to the AIDS crisis (Don alas himself had AIDS, from which he subsequently died). He contacted comic artists – Hunt Emerson, Mark Buckingham, Dave Gibbons, for instance, and cartoonists – Steve Bell, Frank Dickens, Kipper Williams – 80-odd artists reflecting a positive attitude to HIV/AIDS. Several of us were working in the gay press at the time (1987) and we were invited to contribute too. I mention this in particular because that was my first contact with comics. I met Tony and Carol Bennett from Knockabout; Woodrow Phoenix too. Don and his partner Lionel Gracy-Whitman also published the fabulous Heartbreak Hotel series.

PÓM: Did you actually have a background in science, or did you just become the default science cartoonist, the way Bryan Talbot was the default Adam Ant cartoonist, at one point?

KC: Not in the slightest. In fact, a couple of folk who knew me at school didn’t believe it was me, I was so rubbish at maths, chemistry and physics. Though earlier I’d been pretty good at something called ‘science’ – had the maths taken out, y’see.

I suppose the strip worked because I was interested in a lot of stuff – it was so flexible – I had everything in it from quantum physics to cutlery. It was a good excuse to draw things I liked. Animals, birds, ponds… Drawing instruments… Women in science… daft jokes…

PÓM: At what point did you get involved with Sally Heathcote? I know Mary Talbot did the writing, but had Bryan done some sort of breakdowns on the art before you got to it, or were you involved before that?

KC: Mary also broke down the script into pages and panels, and Bryan prepared the layouts, designed the panels and did the lettering. The only thing I did before that was to send some character sketches. Once we’d agreed that I’d do it, I did a couple of sample pages and we took it from there.

Sally script sample
Mary Talbot’s script for Page 74 of Sally Heathcote, Suffragette

I’d get a batch of around 8 pages in Photoshop layers – page grid, lettering layer and layout – he drew direct to screen with a tablet.

BRYAN'S PAGE 74
Bryan Talbot’s layouts for Page 74 of Sally Heathcote, Suffragette

PÓM: Do you draw electronically, or the old-fashioned way?

KC: Actual drawing, 100% ‘traditionally’. But in Photoshop, I often clean them up, colour them up, add effects… fun but painstaking.

Page74Copy
Kate Charlesworth’s finished art for Page 74 of Sally Heathcote, Suffragette

PÓM: How much research did you have to do at your end? I presume Mary Talbot already had her own research done – and this is very much right slap-bang in her given field, anyway – but I presume there was research for contemporary clothes, backgrounds, and the like?

KC: Yes, Mary – and Bryan too – supplied most of the specific reference material – architecture, particular photographs and set-pieces – transport – various bits of background – and all the posters. They form an important element of the book. Some as visuals, giving the flavour of the period, others as important parts of the narrative.

I had reference sources of my own, too – apart from the internet I’ve accumulated a pretty good reference collection, which I used to augment the reference I’d been provided with – sometimes I found a clearer image, which was helpful; there’s an awful lot of detail in there.

Costume was really up to me, and I tried to use outfits from source photographs wherever I could – very few of the characters in the book are invented – though Sally herself is, of course.

Although Bryan was very clear about the look and feel of the backgrounds, he always encouraged me to add extra touches. We were all rather obsessed with accuracy, and constantly checked images and ideas.

PÓM: Now that I’ve finally had a chance to read the book: Sally Heathcote is, I’m guessing, a fictional character who’s there as our Point-of-View character, with pretty much everything going on around her, and most of the people, being genuinely historical?

KC: Yes, Mary created Sally as a character who could take us through the story without being tied to any particular aspect of it, as would have happened if she’d focused on, say, Christabel Pankhurst or Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence. So in this narrative Sally, a young girl from the poorhouse, taken on by Mrs Pankhurst as a maid-of-all-work, observes the movement from the early days, becomes an activist, witnesses the movement split, and the beginning of war. She also represents a working class voice in what is perceived as a predominantly middle class movement.

PÓM: Just a brief technical question: Who did the colours and the final lettering?

KC: Bryan did the lettering.

Sometimes he specified colour and tone on the layouts – firelight, night scenes, for instance – early on he came up with the idea that Sally should be a redhead – she stands out wherever she is on the page.

Originally the plan had been only to use the green and purple of the WSPUs as spot colour, but early on in the process we (more or less collectively) decided to expand the palette – purple for Mrs P, brown hair for Em Pethick-Lawrence; red for blood, flame etc. I coloured the artwork up first in watercolour and finished it off in photoshop.

Ta-da…

PÓM: I have to say, I loved the book. I have a young lady friend who works in publishing in London, and who is active in union activities, and I want to get her a copy. How has the reaction been to it, so far?

KC: Great!

4-5 star reviews so far – really good reception. Bryan and Mary doing [BBC Radio 4's] Woman’s Hour tomorrow morning, which is brilliant. They only wanted two, which suited me. Should shift a few more copies!

PÓM: One thing I noticed in the book was that there are several instances of threats of sexual violence against the suffragettes. Was there a lot of this at the time, do you know? Considering that there has been a lot of talk recently about rape threats to women online, do you think this is all just part of an ongoing use of threats of sexual violence against women, by men, and that, in a way, there’s nothing new under the sun?

KC: Threats of sexual violence against the suffragettes – there must have been. Any references in Mary’s story – well, same old, same old. Exactly your comment ‘there’s nothing new under the sun‘. Online threats are just easier to make. Some men (and some women too, alas) will always be threatened by women trying to achieve any sort of equality.

Perhaps overt threats of sexual violence were more taboo in Edwardian Britain – what seemed completely acceptable was the depiction of extreme violence towards Suffragettes, and what we’d today describe as torture – often taking the form of comic postcards. Women having their tongues cut off; jokey force-feeding. But hey, they were jokes! So that was all right, then. Very often on these cards, it’s suggested the woman ‘can’t get a man’ she’s invariably an ugly ‘old maid’; she neglects her children, she’s a sexless old freak.

PÓM: Am I right in thinking that this was finished and ready to go a good few months back, but Jonathan Cape wanted to hold it until Mayday, for fuller impact?

KC: Sally was finished in early June, last year. We’d been expecting a Christmas/New Year publication, so were surprised by the turn of events.

I don’t know if May 1st was deliberately chosen for the connotations of that date or not, but I heard that the Spring publication was brought forward from October 2014!

PÓM: Did you enjoy doing all this? It’s quite a different end of the business from what you usually do, isn’t it?

KC: Yes, I enjoyed working on Sally very much indeed. I’ve always pretty much made all the decisions, at all stages, myself. Once I realised that I didn’t have to make any of the basic decisions about layout, placing characters, emotion – even light and shade (and it didn’t take long) – I relaxed into it and concentrated on realising Mary and Bryan’s vision of Sally, with a sort of overwash of my style and contributions. I was conscious of becoming very proprietorial towards someone else’s character, and it was rather a wrench when I finally finished the book (even though I’d been practically counting down the days).

PÓM: Are there any plans afoot for the three of you – or just you and Mary Talbot – to do any further work together?

KC: Well, Mary has already written and I’ve illustrated the concluding chapter of a collaborative graphic novel (IDP 2043 – ‘Internally Displaced Person’ – a dystopian, post-diluvial action tale set in the Scottish borders) commissioned by the Edinburgh Book Festival*, to be launched at this year’s Festival. Pat Mills, Hannah Berry, Irvine Welsh amongst others are also involved.

I have my own graphic narrative which I’m starting work on soon, so I’ll be pretty busy for some time – but if Mary ever wanted to make a sequel to Sally – never say never!

PÓM: Can you tell me more about this graphic narrative you’re going to be doing?

KC: It’s a combination of personal memoir and the arc of LGBT history/life (specially the L) in Britain from 1950 to the present day. Lost worlds of the 50s, 60s, 70s… Role models, heroes/heroines. A Girl’s Guide to Sensible Footwear. It’s going to take quite a while.

PÓM: Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview, Kate, whilst you were running around the country signing books!

KC: Many thanks – and hope to see you in Dublin!**

[*The Edinburgh International Book Festival is on from the 9th to the 25th of August 2014, and Kate Charlesworth will be appearing there, along with Bryan and Mary Talbot, on the 23rd at 12 30, as well as at a launch that evening for IDP 2043, along with the other contributors.

**Sadly, Kate and I never did get to meet in Dublin, as she was flying in for a visit within hours of my flying out to Paris for a few days. C'est la vie!

]

1 Comments on Suffragette Lady: An Interview with Kate Charlesworth, last added: 7/14/2014
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10. london YA lit con 2014

Hatted up, suited and booted: just another day heading into the office...



Ha ha! It's so much fun when other people dress up, not just me. Yesterday I went to YA Lit Con (that's Young Adult Literature Convention, or #YALC), held as part of the London Film and Comic Con at Earl's Court in London. On the pavement outside, this lady in her fine threads won my heart... until she shot an arrow straight through it. Aiee!



Seriously, where else do you get this many unaccompanied kids and teenagers together in one place - many with MASSIVE WEAPONS - and have such a well-behaved, literate group of people? These people LOVE stories, and they often don't just want to read them, but become actual characters in these new myths and legends. I love this so much. Here's Martin Chilton's coverage of YALC in The Telegraph:



When I got to the Green Room, I went a little crazy with taking selfies with lots of people there. Steve Cole was super-chuffed to get his photo taken with one of the Doctor Who characters, Paul McGann. (Steve had written BBC books starring Paul's Doctor from '97-'99.) To be honest, I had a bit of a crush on him in the film Withnail and I; there's even two pages in Morris the Mankiest Monster based on screen shots I took of that film.




Hey look, Mark Gatiss! Editor of Oliver and the Seawigs and Cakes in Space Clare Whitston REALLY wanted a photo with him. Wahey! I think he does a great job playing Sherlock Holmes's brother Mycroft in the BBC's Sherlock. Ooh, and writer Catherine Johnson got in for a shot!



Oo, and Clare quite fancied a shot with Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Anthony Head. And writer Bryony Pearce!



Then I got SOUNDLY TOLD OFF by one of the red-t-shirted YALC staff, saying that the Green Room is a place of refuge from fans and I was NOT to be taking any more photos. Which was actually pretty gutsy, as she was quite young, and it's not easy to tell people off like that. Respect.

But I did snap a few more very quiet Green Room photos of friendly faces, including YA Lit Con founder and Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman, fellow comics panelist Emma Vieceli, writer Catherine Johnson and writer Charlie Higson.



Malorie's been such a great laureate; this YA Lit Con was her idea, to get books and their authors right in there where so many kids gather for comics, film and dressing up. Then Katherine Woodfine and Booktrust set the gears in motion and put in a LOT of hard work to make it happen. You can read more about it in this piece Malorie wrote for The Guardian:



YALC really was two worlds colliding for me: usually I have my book world friends and my comics friend, and rarely do the two meet. If you look at book festival line-ups, you'd think UK children's book authors are quite evenly divided male-female, but if you go to children's book social events, I usually see a lot more women. Whereas, until recently, I'd go to comics gatherings and sometimes be the only woman in the room. This is all changing and it's great to see the different crowds mixing and merging. The place it really started for me was with the DFC weekly magazine, which is now The Phoenix Comic, and it brought out of the comics woodwork people who can write for children (and many who because solid friends).

I wouldn't label myself as a 'YA writer', but people of all ages have given me great feedback on my Vern and Lettuce comic, and I hate to think Oliver and the Seawigs wouldn't appeal to teens and adults. But as YA isn't specifically 'my thing' (What even is YA?), I chaired a panel, rather than spoke on it. Here's our Going Graphic event with Marcus Sedgwick, Emma Vieceli and Ian Edginton, where we discussed adapting comics from pre-existing text-only books. I think the event went well, despite it being very noisy in the big hall; we had a great turnout and several people live-tweeted it. At dinner that evening, Emma wanted to clarify that what she had said about writing and drawing; she meant that it's easier to get work if you can produce images, not just a script, but that that actual drawing part is WAY harder and more time-consuming than the writing. But I thought it was quite funny when she talked about how she'll sometimes have internal arguments between herself as the writer and as the artist; one side of her can get quite annoyed with the other. You can follow the three of them on Twitter: @marcussedgwick, @Emmavieceli, @IanEdginton. Ian's adapting Malorie Blackman's Noughts & Crosses, with artwork by the amazing John Aggs, and I'm with loads of people who are looking forward to that.



Emma and I did our signings next to each other and it was fun seeing some great costumes parade by. Emma has some MEGA fans for her Vampire Academy series, and she was able to provide a printed prologue for her ongoing BREAKS web comic.



One of the coolest things that happened all day was something I don't usually get to see at book festivals; three black boys, aged somewhere between 10 an 13, hung around for awhile watching me draw and sign in books. Two of them spent time looking through the books and bought themselves copies, and one of them asked me how I went about getting published. I was able to introduce him right there to my Oxford University Press editor, Clare Whitston, and he grilled Clare, quite professionally, about what he needed to do. He's written about aliens, and I suspect this kid could go places. Special kudos to their librarian, whom they said told them about the event, and may have even brought them and let them go off on their own to explore.

Sadly, I didn't get photos of them (and wouldn't have had adult permission to post them), but I DID get a great photo of writer Andy Robb's kid. His whole family came by for copies of Oliver and the Seawigs, and I tweeted this photo. Then Andy tweeted back:



Hooray! This is what YA Lit Con's all about, I really hope loads of kids went away inspired from having seen book creators are real-life people, and realised that they could also write/draw/film/animate their own stories. Ah, here's Andy and gang... with a reviewer who's name I can't remember(?), writer Sally Nicholls, and blogger/writer Laura Heath (aka Sister Spooky, in the hat).



I went to see Natasha Ngan on her panel about blogging, but I got there a bit late and couldn't get close enough to hear anything. I was quite curious to hear about Natasha's fashion blog, Girl in the Lens, from which she earns more of an income than from her books. She works with her partner, Callum McBeth to come up with high-quality photo shoots, and I think the lovely visuals, along with her specific taste, are a big part of the secret to their success. Natasha's publishers had sent along 100 early editions of her new book The Memory Keepers, and they were snatched up so quickly that I didn't even manage to get one.



I don't watch Game of Thrones, but it had a BIG presence at the wider London Film & Comic Con. And of course everyone wanted to sit in the throne, including Mitch Benn, (whom I met for the first time in the Green Room). We nipped over with Emma to the second hall to see the comics area, and Mitch had fun ogling the two Batmobiles. (Thrones photo lifted off Mitch's Twitter feed.)



Here's a trailer for Mitch's book Terra. It looks like it has some links to my upcoming Cakes in Space book with Philip Reeve (both about girls have wacky space adventures), so perhaps I'll see him again at a future space-related event or something.



Lovely book world people! I think they were amused at how normal I looked there in full costume. Photo by Karen Ball of (eek, help me with the name!), me, Sally Nicholls and Jo Cotterill (who's very active on the Girls Heart Books blog).



In fact, there were a LOT of girls there who heart books.



My favourite costumes are always the home-made, self-designed ones. Some of them were well suited to the hot, HOT hall, but... POOR CHEWIE! I really felt for whoever was in there; I think the heat kept the St John's Amubulance service fairly busy.



At the end, all the YALC writers, illustrators and publishers gathered for a party hosted by Booktrust. Here's Claire Shanahan passing out YALC-themed mini cupcakes, baked by Bluebell Kitchen. And a group photo, where Patrick Ness and the rest of us tall folk are hiding at the back.



YALC's still running today, and I'm sure lots of people will reflect on what a great weekend it's been. Huge congratulations to Malorie Blackman, Katherine Woodfine, the whole team at Booktrust, London Film & Comic Con for bringing in such an excellent partner convention, and to my fellow comics panelists. Thanks for making it a great day!

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11. SIX-GUN GORILLA REVIEW: All That And More

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Let’s start with that title, shall we?

Calling a story “Six-Gun Gorilla” is a bold and audacious decision, one that’s guaranteed to attract a specific kind of person and give many others pause. If you come to this book cold, you will very likely either somersault with glee or scratch your head and wonder, ‘huh?” And that’s fair.

But after you’re done scratching your head you should grab the book from the comic shop shelf and buy it, or snatch it from you friend’s desk and implore them to let you borrow it, or click on the button that takes a little bit of money out of your bank account and tells the mailman to bring you a copy.

No matter what you think it is, Simon Spurrier and Jeff Stokely’s Six-Gun Gorilla is more than that. It is a title that simultaneously obscures and illuminates, promising something very plainly while hiding something deeper, something emotional, something meaningful.

At this point, If you’re a culturally savvy purveyor of obscure fiction,  you might start to feel smug. You might be thinking of a certain fifteen-part serial published in a British adventure magazine in the 1930s. You might believe that such knowledge  gives you a leg up on what to expect, and better information on which to base your decision on whether to pick up or pass on this book.

You too, would be wrong. That’s not to say that such knowledge won’t be rewarded in reading Six-Gun Gorilla, it’s just belaboring the point: this book isn’t what you expect it to be. It’s so much better.

The story starts simply enough. Our hero is a librarian who lost everything: his job, his love, his home, his car.  With nothing else to lose, he signs up for a suicide mission to the Blister, a strange frontier where electricity and combustion doesn’t work and the high noon sun will burn you alive. Figuring out why he’s there, and what he’s supposed to do is part of the fun.

It’s a big reason why Ramón Pérez’s cover for the miniseries’ first issue (which doubles as the cover for the collected edition) is just as perfect as that title: it tells you exactly what’s inside the tin, but hints at something more.

Yes, there is a giant talking gorilla with huge freaking revolvers in this book. But what’s up with that there glowing blue face? And why do I need to ‘stand by?’ That’s not very Six-Gun. That’s not very Gorilla.

I can’t wait for you to find out. For you to be treated to Jeff Stokely’s art, which breathes hot, vibrant life into this neo-Western fable. For you to puzzle over this world as pieces are doled out to you in a manner that is spare but never frustrating. For you to be surprised at the depth of emotion hiding in plain sight.

Consider this line a spoiler warning if you’re already intrigued enough to give this book a chance. You don’t have to read anymore. This is for those that need the extra push.

Six-Gun Gorilla is a comic that knows you might think it silly. On the other hand, if it wore its true ambitions on its sleeve, you might think it pretentious. To come out and say that it is a story about stories might be intriguing, but it also does it a disservice, as does the word “meta.” The former denotes a certain self-importance, the latter a smug cleverness. The book is neither.

It’s about fiction and memory, relationships and honesty, pain and loss, beginnings and endings, media and meaning.

It’s also about a big-ass, gunslinging gorilla.

Give it a read.

When you’re done, let’s talk about all the stories we know, and why we know them. Let’s speak of the world’s we’ve been to that don’t exist, and why we keep them on our shelves. Let’s count all the lies we love because they make us feel, and why we need them.

0 Comments on SIX-GUN GORILLA REVIEW: All That And More as of 7/11/2014 6:25:00 PM
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12. Like Cleopatra, Joan of Arc or Aphrodite… another 90s music post (fairy tale edition!)

This round of Guess the _____ Via the 90s Song Title is brought to you by: You can see the answers here. _____________________ 1.  “Stop!” by Jane’s Addiction 2.  “I Wanna Dance All Night,” by DJ Play feat. Ladivia 3.  “Lollipop (Candyman),” by Aqua 4.  “You Owe It All To Me,” by Texas 5.  “Basket Case,” by Green Day 6.  “Turtle Power,” by Partners […]

2 Comments on Like Cleopatra, Joan of Arc or Aphrodite… another 90s music post (fairy tale edition!), last added: 7/12/2014
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13. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Leila del Duca

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I recently discovered Leila Del Duca’s work on the excellent new comic Shutter, published by Image Comics. It’s exciting to see a young artist find the perfect project for their specific set of skills, and watch them tap into their potential month in, and month out.

Leila has been drawing comics since she earned her Bachelors degree in illustration from the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in Denver, CO back in 2007. She’s had a prolific career so far, drawing a number of comics including Escape From Terra, The Pantheon Project and Deadskins. She also served as Art Director for the Denver-based anthology Cellar Door in 2011.

She currently lives in Missoula, Montana, and you can follow her on her blog here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com - Andy Yates

0 Comments on Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Leila del Duca as of 7/9/2014 2:47:00 PM
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14. By Its Cover (06.25.14 – 07.02.14)

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This is me still sort of figuring out where I want to go with this column. A side effect of so much comics output being monthly serials is that I often don’t have anything new to say in terms of design if a series has locked onto a solid trade dress. Maybe this is a column that should be bi-weekly? Or maybe I should put the focus more on weekly topics.


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X-O Manowar #26 by Clayton Crain

This illustration is pretty plain and static, but that almost kind of works when most of the other covers out there are trying so hard to out-action each other. What I really want to draw your attention to is the trade dress. Placing the publisher logo and issue number in a bar at the top allows the logo to be centered while still passing the Hibbs Test. It’s an elegant solution that’s almost video game-esque. Ironically, this cover wouldn’t work well in the land of video game box art, where guy-standing covers have become an epidemic.

Personally, I hope Valiant will apply this change to all their covers.

 

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X-O Manowar #26 by Trevor Hairsine

I love the way the logo here blends into the second image at the bottom, and having the central figure overlap the logo and both images does a great job of creating a sense of depth in a dynamic way. My main problem with the image is that coloring the silhouettes orange initially causes me to read them as cut-outs. I might’ve tried to use a color that contrasts against the orange at the bottom of the top image, like a cyan, or a green to match the background toward the top of the cover (which would contrast the red).

 

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Brass Sun #2 by INJ Culbard

The trade dress still rocks just as much as last time I looked at it. I would’ve maybe gone for a lower angle in the illustration to make the scene more dramatic, but it fits the space nicely.

 

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 Dead Body Road TP by Matteo Scalera

I’m glad they went for a composition that made the logo very easy to read for the collected edition. Low angles are very dramatic, and the giant logo looks larger than life in comparison to the figures.

 

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Black Widow #8 by Phil Noto

You can almost never go wrong with a Phil Noto illustration. The only thing I’d change is that I kind of wish the invisible dividing line was over to the right a little more, making that vertical black bar only about 1/3 the width of the page, which would also give more room for the scenic backdrop on the left side. Here’s a sloppy edit to give you an idea of what I mean.

 

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All-New X-Factor #10 by Kris Anka & Jared Fletcher

I love the energy of this cover. I particularly like how the positioning Polaris’ hand blast compliments the logo. It took me a moment to to recognize the objects behind them as police cars, but I don’t have any specific suggestions on what could’ve helped.

 

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 Libretto Vol. 1: Vampirism by mention3

This is a nicely creepy image. My only complaint is the weird way his head touches the top of the frame, as if he tried to jump and knocked his head on the image boundary.

 

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Green Arrow #33 by Andrea Sorrentino

Images of people inside silhouettes of shapes has been a popular theme lately, but this one is so nicely done. The arrangement of the bullets balances well with the gun, and the image inside is very clear and readable. Unfortunately, the final cover  ended up looking like this:

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The word “Broken” sums up the last minute substitution. Was the artist asked to toss out that excellent cover and do a new one after the book was already solicited?  The final cover looks rushed and is hard to read visually. It took me a moment to find the character inside the silhouette, and the placement of the dragon’s eye looks like the character’s shoulder has caught fire. A waste of a nice illustration.


Kate Willaert is a graphic designer for Shirts.com. You can find her her art on Tumblr and her thoughts @KateWillaert. Notice any spelling errors? Leave a comment below.

7 Comments on By Its Cover (06.25.14 – 07.02.14), last added: 7/10/2014
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15. A Journey into Graphic Novels

secondsI consider myself a big nerd and comics seem to go hand in hand with the social status. I never really got into comics (or graphic novels) and when I did attempt I never knew where to start. There are millions of reboots and story arcs for the thousands of different superheroes out there but which ones are good and where do I start? It was Scott Pilgrim that started my journey into graphic novels and with Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Seconds recent release, I thought now would be a perfect time to talk about the graphic novels I love.

As an easy way to distinguish between comics and graphic novels, I call single issues (30-40 pages) a comic and a graphic novel is the anthology that contains a full story arc (normally 4-5 single issues). What I find really interesting about a graphic novel is that it is simply a new way to tell a story. It is not always about the superhero, graphic novels can explore high concepts in a whole new way.Maus

Take the only graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize, Maus by Art Spiegelman. In this story we read about Vladek Spiegelman and his wife, it is biography of living and surviving Hitler’s Europe. The graphic novel not only addresses the holocaust and life in a war torn country it does it in a unique way. Exploring the reality and fears of surviving in a visual way, the Jews are depicted as mice and the Nazi’s hunting them as cats.

persepolisThere is also the autobiographic story of Marjane Satrapi  in Persepolis, a coming of age story of a girl living in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution. The whole concept of cultural change works really well in this graphical depiction. There is even an animated adaptation which is worth checking out (even if it is exactly the same). If you prefer a more quasi-autobiographical story maybe try Ghost World by Daniel Clowes or even something by Chris Ware like Jimmy Corrigan or Building Stories.

sex criminalsFinally, if you prefer your graphic novels to be about superheros or people coming to terms with their new found powers, I have some suggestions for you as well. Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction is the first story arc in this new Hawkeye series and explores a life of a superhero outside fighting crime and saving the world. Also by Matt Fraction, with the help of Chip Zdarsky is the weird and wonderfully dirty Sex Criminals. This is a story of a woman that discovers that time freezes after an orgasm and the shenanigans she can get up to with so much quiet time. This graphic novel will not be for everyone; if you want something very different that is full of dirty visual puns then I would recommend it.

I would love to recommend more comics but some of my suggestions are not yet released as a complete story arc yet. If you are interested in more graphic novel suggests let me know in the comments below. I hope this will give you some suggestions if you have never tried a graphic novel before. I’m also happy to take more recommendations in the comments below. Happy reading.

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16. Call for Submissions: Blue Skirt Productions and Blue Skirt Press

We have three calls for submissions right now. One is for our website: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, visual art, video and audio. The second is for our Microfiction magazine. Those are ongoing at this point.

And the final one is for an anthology on the theme of the loss of a parent. Deadline for the anthology: Sep. 30, 2014

For more information, please visit our official submissions page. Thank you!

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17. Times are a changing (along with the name)…

I am there honestly, right behind the tower of mini prints.

Hiding behind the tower of mini prints.

This has been on my mind for awhile and on the long road trip I had more time to think about it. The business has grown so much in the past couple of years and the direction I want to take it has altered slightly too. The upcoming year there will be some changes, expanding products offered, a book in the works (Shawn get back to writing!), plus some creative, weird stuff from Shawn (I said get back to writing!), along with first and foremost a change in the name of the business.

There are many reasons for the name change, some minor, but  the major one has been growth. I use to share a six foot table with my friend Koko Candles and now I can barely contain everything on an eight foot table, much less a six foot table (which is why I am exploring having booths at certain cons next year). This rapid rate of growth could not have happened without someone very special in my life, Shawn. He has been supportive of me through all of this; he has given me creative ideas, does a lot of grunt work for me, and as he says his official title is, Lifter of Heavy Things. He is very much my partner in this business and I am appreciative of his contributions to the growth of it.

Shawn thinks he is in the new Mad Max movie.

Shawn thinks he is in the new Mad Max movie.

So on a long trip through the desert night of Arizona, Shawn and I started kicking around different names… some good, some hilariously bad. During the banter we had going back and forth it got me thinking; I love the darker side of things and Shawn loves horror (he always disappears from the booth during horror cons to spend money), and we always seem to be on the road lately. The name crystallized in my mind and it just seemed so appropriate. Without further ado I present the new name of the business…

Gypsy Ghouls

This will not be an immediate transition, so Diana Levin Art will still exist. I will still be creating new art and jewelry to have at the shows as these will be the cornerstone of the business as it expands.

More dark things to come...

More dark things to come…

And finally lest I forget to thank the people who also have made this growth possible, the fans of my art. Thank you so much for your support and love, I could not do it without all of you.

Keep dreaming and creating…

–Diana

The post Times are a changing (along with the name)… appeared first on Diana Levin Art.

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18. ONE AND DONE: Up, Up, and Away?

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Keeping up with comics is ridiculously expensive if you want to keep up with a number of titles that come out every month. Not everyone can do that–I definitely can’t. So welcome to One and Done, a weekly column where I go to a comics shop and try to find one good book that’s worth the exorbitant price. It’s not easy.

I really didn’t want to spend four dollars on a comic book this time. June has been an expensive month for me, and I didn’t have a lot of leeway this week. Which is a shame, because Simon Spurrier and Jeff Stokely’s Six-Gun Gorilla finally came out in trade paperback, and as someone who loved Spurrier’s work on X-Men: Legacy I would love to be reading and writing about that right now. But I could only spend four dollars at the shop, not twenty.

Instead, I bought Superman #32. I almost didn’t. Money’s tight, and I know how the vast majority of cape comics work: a dash of plot, a load of action, and a cliffhanger for dessert. Not to mention the fact that publishers are absolutely trigger happy with “events” and “crossovers,” which is pretty coercive and stupid but also has worked for literally ten straight years so of course they’re not going to stop.

Anyway, I should tell you why I bought Superman #32, instead of, say, Trees #2 (which is worth getting, Trees #1 might still be free when you read this. If it isn’t, let me know. I will tweet you a very entertaining plot summary) or Flash Gordon #3 (which I hear is Very Fun Comics). Some of you probably know why, because if you pay even the slightest attention to mainstream comics online, it’s painfully obvious why Superman #32 is A Big Deal. But bear with me for a paragraph or two while I address The Casuals.

On the Hype Scale, Superman #32 lies somewhere between “New J.K. Rowling Book (Non-Harry Potter Division)” and “Apple Releases New iPhone.” This is because Superman–despite bearing the name of and being about the oldest, most famous superhero in the whole world–has not been a very good book for about three years straight. And this week’s issue #32 marks the introduction of an Acclaimed New Creative Team, which makes it the Perfect Jumping On Point. The hope, then, is that this book will stop sucking.

But that’s a very general explanation for the hype. There’s an equally specific one, and its name is John Romita Jr.

Superman #32 is Romita’s first DC Comics work, after a legendary 30-year career of working almost exclusively for Marvel. That’s like Derek Jeter leaving the Yankees to play some games for the Red Sox, to use a sports analogy. He’s joined by writer Geoff Johns, who had an acclaimed tenure telling Superman stories in Action Comics a while back, and has spent much of the last decade remaking the DC Universe in his own image.

He’s a smaller part of the hype, but only because LOOK AT THE TALENT WE POACHED is a much better headline than GUY WHO DID GREAT STUFF HERE ONCE RETURNS TO HOPEFULLY DO GREAT STUFF AGAIN.

They’re joined by Klaus Janson, an inker who a good enough artist in his own right to get people excited about him drawing a book by himself, and Laura Martin, an award-winning colorist. So, the reasons to buy this book are stacked up right there in the credits.

So is it any good? No. Not if you paid four dollars for it.

That qualification is important, and should be adjusted based on how you feel about the reason we’re all here: John Romita Jr.’s art.

I, for one, really enjoy JRJR. He has a distinctive, blocky style that often feels refreshingly blue collar. Sure, his faces tend to all look similar and he can get really weird with anatomy–Superman’s head completely disappears in the fourth figure of that cover illustration up top–but there’s a lot to love about how he portrays things like physique. His Superman–and Clark Kent–is built like a truck, but not bulging with muscles made of marble. This Kal-El is less Greek god, more caped linebacker. It really helps to convey a sense of might, not just strength.

But man, the story on this thing. Let’s start with this. Here is the solicit (that’s comic speak for ad, I suppose) for Superman #32:

““THE MEN OF TOMORROW” chapter 1! A NEW ERA for SUPERMAN begins as Geoff Johns takes the reigns – and he’s joined by the legendary super-talent of John Romita, Jr. in his first-ever work for DC Comics as they introduce Ulysses, the Man of Tomorrow, into the Man of Steel’s life. This strange visitor shares many of Kal-El’s experiences, including having been rocketed from a world with no future. Prepare yourself for a run full of new heroes, new villains and new mysteries! Plus, Perry White offers Clark a chance to return to The Daily Planet!”

There are two plot points mentioned in that solicit. They are the only two things that happen in the book. There is nothing I could spoil for you if I wanted to. There’s some stuff in there about Clark not having much of a personal life and Jimmy Olsen not knowing what to do with his fortune, but they literally don’t go anywhere, as they’re most likely B-story stuff to check in on throughout the run whenever we need a break from Superman punching giant robot gorillas.

Oh, and Superman also punches a giant robot gorilla, but there’s no reason for it other than giving JRJR something dope to draw. That’s something I take issue with. I mean, if you’ve got it, use it, but use it in a justified way. If you want to have a giant robot gorilla fight (and there’s nothing wrong with that, those are awesome), then make it amazing, make it happen for a reason, make the script earn the art it asks for. Don’t waste an artist’s talent or a reader’s time.

One of the things I don’t really understand about how comics are critiqued and received are the standards that we hold creator-owned books like Saga or Fatale or Mind Mgmt to, and the ones that we judge mainstream superhero comics by. Cape comics get a pass on a lot of things: bad dialogue, barely any plot, and a near-sociopathic insistence on buying multiple titles to get a “full story,” as if they still cost ten cents a pop.

You’re going to read a lot of reviews saying how great Superman #32 is. A lot of those reviews will likely be written by people who also adored books like The Wicked + The Divine #1, a book absolutely full of great ideas and hidden meanings and lots of potential energy. Superman #32 has none of these things. So why would we call it good?

Superman #32 is a bad comic book. But ‘The Men of Tomorrow,’ the larger story of which Superman #32 is the first part, could be absolutely fantastic whenever it’s done. Everyone working on it is top notch.

But there are ways to make a good comic book, to tell a good serialized story twenty-two pages at a time. The stands are full of good examples, and we read them every week.

This is not one of them.

As always, support your local comic shop if you can, patronize your local library if you have one, and say hi on Twitter if you like.

 

Be back in a week.

8 Comments on ONE AND DONE: Up, Up, and Away?, last added: 6/29/2014
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19. Brian Wood Comics Return To Print From Dark Horse

New York Fourby Brandon Schatz

Over at Publisher’s Weekly, they’ve announced that a couple of Brain Wood series will return to print from Dark Horse, as part of a focus on YA content from the company.

In November, a collection of the two New York Four/Five volumes the writer did with artist Ryan Kelly for DC’s  Minx line, an ill-fated imprint that missed its mark more than it hit. Marketed towards the YA market, many of the books attempted to tell stories involving that age group instead of aiming upwards towards the older set. Take a look at a book store, and you’ll see the kids section filled with books telling stories about kids or teens who are just a little bit older than the age being marketed towards. As always, the younger set wants to seem more grown up, and the perfect way to hit the demographic is to aim higher, and market lower.

Keeping in that vein, Dark Horse will also be bringing Demo back into print, a series Wood did with artist Becky Cloonan, first for AiT/PlanetLar, and then for Vertigo.

It’s been a big couple of weeks for Wood, along with the announcement of his involvement in Marvel’s Moon Knight title following Warren Ellis’ departure. These are the first big project announced from Wood since accusations of misogyny were levelled at him late last year, though Dark Horse hints that there is more to come from the writer in the coming months, as The Massive draws to a close, and new series begin.

As noted by my piece earlier this week, I have my own problems with Wood, though as blogger and former DC editor Valerie D’Orzaio notes, it’s important not to confuse feelings on Wood’s actions with a call to action, or a means to an end. I know I’ve enjoyed these books in particular, and would love to see them reach a wider audience.

6 Comments on Brian Wood Comics Return To Print From Dark Horse, last added: 6/14/2014
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20. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Sean Phillips

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Sean Phillips has been working in comics for over 3 decades, creating beautifully rendered art on such titles as The Invisibles, 2000 AD, Judge Dredd, and Hellblazer. He was part of the British Invasion of Comics in the late 80′s/early 90′s along with cohorts Grant Morrison, Peter Milligan, and Neil Gaiman. His ability to create striking cover illustrations, and draw fully formed characters in a classic, cinematic style has led to a long accomplished career as an artist. He is completing his latest collaboration with “partner in crime” writer Ed Brubaker on the supernatural thriller Fatale for Image Comics. August will see the premiere of their next series together, The Fade-Out, a noir tale set in 1940′s Hollywood. This also begins a 5 year deal with Image Comics for both Sean Phillips, and Ed Brubaker to produce comics exclusively for the publisher, which is a rare occurrence in the industry. This obviously shows the extreme confidence that both creator’s work, and craftsmanship inspires to land such a contract.

Sean Phillips has contributed cover and interior art for various Criterion Collection DVDs, including On the Waterfront, and 12 Angry Men.

He’s also been nominated for 3 Eisner Awards, and has won once with Ed Brubaker for best new series Criminal.

You can keep up with all of the latest Sean Phillips news, and art on his website.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com - Andy Yates

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21. Paula: Owls #1

Playing with owls and patterns...

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22. ONE AND DONE: Finding a Creative Team You Trust

Most of the time, trying to find a comic or two to buy in a given week is very hard. This week, it wasn’t at all. I’ve been looking forward to The Wicked + The Divine ever since it was announced. And now that it’s finally on shelves, I can tell you why.

One of the pleasures of getting into comics–and any medium, really–is identifying creators whose work most resonates with you. It’s the fun part, where you go to your library and scour its hopefully well-stocked comics section, checking everything you can out and requesting more from other branches.

You learn what you like and what you don’t. You gain an appreciation for how comics are different from any other medium. You delight in all the radically different kinds of stories that can be told by them. You remember the names of the people who told them.

If you’re lucky, you’ll find a creative team that you love, one that works together frequently and consistently tells stories that you enjoy. For me, one of those teams is that of writer Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie.

Gillen and McKelvie are often described–by themselves and by others–as a pair that makes comics like pop songs. Their stories, from Phonogram to Young Avengers to this weeks The Wicked + The Divine #1, are ones that are boldly, helplessly, passionately about exactly what they say they’re about. They’re stories that don’t care for subtlety as much as they do about feeling alive, if only for one dance.

They don’t give a damn about being remembered, but while they’re here, you’re not going to ignore them.

The Wicked + The Divine is both the purest form of that ethos they’ve built up over nearly a decade of collaboration, and it’s also weirdly restrained in a way that feels mature and measured. It’s a title that knows it won’t be ignored, and it’s settling in to tell an assured story in its own way.

A lot of that comes from the contributions of the rest of the creative team–the colors from Matthew Wilson are remarkable, and the work of designer Hannah Donovan has done a lot to give the whole venture a strong visual identity–the reading experience starts with the front cover and ends with the back one. It’s elegance makes most books on the stands look sloppy.

There’s been a lot of hype for this book, and all of it is deserved. If you go into a comics shop and only have cash for one book, your $3.50 will be well spent on The Wicked + The Divine.

However.

Sex Criminals #6 also came out today. Now, there’s not much I can say about Sex Criminals that hasn’t already been said (and if no one’s told you about it go buy the first trade or borrow it from a friend. It’s fantastic), but I want to take a moment to talk about why you should buy this particular book as it comes out and not wait for a trade.

It’s the letters page. The Sex Criminals letters page is one of my favorite things in comics right now, for lots of reasons. The obvious one is that it’s absolutely hilarious–mostly because it shows how truly essential Chip Zdarksy is to the book’s sense of humor–but the other is because that’s where the book walks the walk.

Sex Criminals is lauded not just for being a great story well told, but for being a thoughtful, mature, look at sex and sexuality, a safe place in an industry that is often a mess of problematic sexual politics. When it hit stands, the response was overwhelming. People wrote Fraction and Zdarsky in droves.

Readers were connecting with the story in a very real way, and wrote in to share and laugh and confirm the one great truth the story is anchored in: we’re all alone together.

Every issue of Sex Criminals comes with pages and pages of letters. They’re a joy to read, and they don’t get published in the trade paperbacks (they are included on the digital versions if you buy from Comixology, though). Sex Criminals is a comic that’s worth buying; anyone will tell you that.

But there’s this extra reason that makes making a monthly trip to the comics shop or download on Comixology worth the higher expense: it’s that wonderful reminder that there are people like you out there. People who love comics, and love seeing that they’re full of stories that are a little bit like their own.

As always, support your local comic shop if you can, patronize your local library if you have one, and say hi on Twitter if you like.

Be back in a week.

6 Comments on ONE AND DONE: Finding a Creative Team You Trust, last added: 6/23/2014
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23. Trick-or-Treat! Diamond Reveals Halloween ComicFest Titles!

Yes, Summer officially started last Friday.  You’re probably haven’t even done your grocery shopping for the Fourth of July cookout!  Or started packing for San Diego!

halloween comicfest 2014But for retailers and publishers, they think months in advance!  Comics shipping in October must be ordered in August.  Publishers usually try to think six months in advance!

So here are the titles for the next Halloween ComicFest, scheduled for October 25th, the Saturday before Halloween.

The big surprise?  Twelve full-size comics, and seven minis!  Last year there were eleven regular sized issues, with 11 minis.  In the first HCF, there were 4 regular-sized issues and 11 minis.

So what’s being offered?  Lots of stuff I wouldn’t give to kids…

HCF 2014 AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE #1

hcf archiePublisher: ARCHIE COMIC PUBLICATIONS
(W) Roberto Aguirre Sacasa (A/CA) Francesco Francavilla
Celebrate the most frightening day of the year with the most horrifying tale Archie has ever told! “Escape From Riverdale”: This is how the end of the world begins… Harvey Award-winning writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Carrie, Archie meets Glee) and Eisner-winning artist Francesco Francavilla (Batman, Black Beetle) take Archie and the gang where they’ve never been before – to the grave and back! A horrific accident sets off a series of grim events and Sabrina the Teenage Witch must try to repair the unspeakable evil her spell has unleashed. Gasp in horror as Riverdale faces an impending zombie Arch-pocalypse in this reprint of the award-winning, sold-out first issue! But be warned, kiddies, this one’s not for the faint of heart! For TEEN readers.
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140027
hcf batmanPublisher: DC COMICS
Just in time for Halloween, fans can get this FREE excerpt from the first chapter of the critically acclaimed graphic novel, Batman: Haunted Knight, which features dark tales of horror and intrigue featuring Batman facing off against his most demented and wicked foes. Taking place on the most evil of holidays, Halloween, the Dark Knight Detective confronts his deepest fears as he tries to stop the madness and horror created by Scarecrow, the Mad Hatter, the Penguin, Poison Ivy and the Joker.
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140031
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf avatarPublisher: AVATAR PRESS INC
(W) Max Brooks (A/CA) Raulo Caceres
Best-selling author Max Brooks (The Zombie Survival Guide, World War Z) takes the zombie genre to a whole new level with Extinction Parade, featuring the art of superstar Raulo Caceres (Crossed). As humans wage a losing fight against the hordes of the subdead, a frightening realization sets in with the secretive Vampire race: their “food” is dying off. This is the story of the Vampires’ decent into all-out war with the mindless hungry hordes of the zombie outbreak, with humanity caught in the middle. Extinction Parade introduces the “Vampires vs. Zombies” sub-genre with three species in mortal conflict. This is how a species dies…
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140029
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf grimmPublisher: ZENESCOPE ENTERTAINMENT INC
(W) Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco (A) Jean-Paul Deshong & Various (CA) Mike Debalfo
A special reprint of the first ever Grimm Halloween Special! A couple is granted one wish for their dreams to finally come true only to have that wish turn into a complete nightmare! Now Sela must try to stop Belinda’s act of evil before more lives are destroyed. From the original writers and creators of Grimm Fairy Tales, Joe Brusha and Ralph Tedesco, comes this re-telling of the classic story “The Monkey’s Paw”, retold with a terrifying Zenescope twist that readers have come to love!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140037
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf hero catsPublisher: ACTION LAB ENTERTAINMENT
(W) Kyle Puttkammer, Jeremy Whitley (A/CA) Marcus Williams
A Hero Cat’s life is exciting enough, but what happens when imaginations run wild after a scary movie marathon at the local drive-in?! Ace, Midnight, Cassie, Rocket, Rocco, and Belle will win your heart in this frightfully fun-filled tale! Plus, an exclusive preview of the highly anticipated new Princeless series!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140026
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf Marvel1Publisher: MARVEL COMICS
Action! Mystery! Adventure! Reprinting the tale that started it all and sparked 75 years of storytelling in the Mighty Marvel Manner! Celebrate Marvel’s 75th Anniversary with the very first appearance of two titanic Marvel mainstays – android hero the original Human Torch, and aquatic anti-hero Namor, the Sub-Mariner! Reprinting material from Marvel Comics #1 (1939)!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140034
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf aspenPublisher: ASPEN MLT INC
(W) Vince Hernandez (A/CA) Agnes Garbowska
A completely brand new and unexpected Fathom tale for fans of all ages! Join none other than Fathom’s Ernie the Seahorse as the playful ocean dweller finds himself wrapped up in a magical Aspen-universes-spanning adventure that will test his limits! For the first time ever, Aspen Comics’ is excited to offer fans and readers a unique comic and coloring book that includes a crafted full length story geared for children to color, plus added puzzles, mazes and other fun-filled activities for kids of all ages! It’s the perfect treat for the Halloween holiday!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140028
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf mlpPublisher: IDW PUBLISHING
(W) Jeremy Whitley (A) Tony Fleecs (CA) Amy Mebberson
The Cutie Mark Crusaders go to the one creature that might just be crazy enough to help them get their cutie marks… Discord! Is he up to the task? Find out in this madcap adventure, perfect for all ages!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140033
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf rachelPublisher: ABSTRACT STUDIOS
(W/A/CA) Terry Moore
Halloween marks the return of a modern classic, Rachel Rising #1! Rachel wakes up dead in a shallow grave and climbs out to hunt for her killer. Seeking the help of Aunt Johnny and BFF Jet, Rachel encounters a mysterious woman and the scariest little girl in comics! This special reprint is just for Halloween Comicfest 2014 and features a unique cover variation to mark the occasion!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140025
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf vizPublisher: VIZ MEDIA LLC
(W/A/CA) Naoki Serizawa
The highly virulent C-virus became a global disaster, but where did the outbreak start? In this prequel to the hit Resident Evil 6 game, the terrifying origins are revealed! At the prestigious and elite Marhawa High School in Singapore, a female student suffers a horrifying transformation. Called in to investigate, Professor Doug Wright and his nephew Ricky find themselves caught up in a deadly and growing tragedy. As things get rapidly out of hand, Chris Redfield and his team from the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance arrive on the scene, while behind it all a mysterious figure looms….
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
hcf scoobyPublisher: DC COMICS
Just in time for Halloween, fans of all ages can get this FREE special edition of the first issue of the fan-favorite, all-ages series that features teams-up with the Scooby-Doo gang and the greatest heroes of the DC Comics Universe! Rumors of a giant bat-creature bring Scooby and the gang on the run – but Batman and Robin are already on the trail of their old foe, the monstrous Man-Bat. Before long, the crooks behind a fake bat-creature will come face-to-face with the real thing… with the good guys caught in the middle!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140030
In Shops: 10/8/2014
hcf MSHSWPublisher: MARVEL COMICS
Experience the ground-breaking 1984 classic again – or for the very first time! Under the watchful eye of an all-powerful being, the Marvel Universe’s greatest heroes and vilest villains are transported away to a mysterious planet known only as “Battleworld.” The only way to escape? Destroy their enemies! Now, Spider-Man, Captain America, Thor, Wolverine and more must battle to the death against Ultron, Galactus, Kang, Doctor Doom and many more! Don’t miss the first issue in the genre-defining crossover that changed the Marvel Universe forever!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140035
In Shops: 10/8/2014
The mini-comics:
hcf angry birdsPublisher: DIAMOND PUBLICATIONS
(W) Nathan Crosby (A) Ivan Portier (CA) David Baldeon
When Professor Pig mistakenly electrifies all the pigs in the graveyard, he unwittingly creates Zigs… zombie pigs with only one need – Eggs! Can Red and the rest of the Angry Birds stop this ghoulish grab at their precious unborn flock? An all-new, all-ages Angry Birds Comics tale just in time for Halloween!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
Also available in a pack of 20 for you to purchase and hand out to your trick-or-treaters. Be the coolest house on the block-cause comics and the gift of reading lasts longer than candy!
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140046
In Shops: 10/1/2014
hcf b&vPublisher: DIAMOND PUBLICATIONS
(W) Dan Parent (A) Dan Parent, Rich Koslowski (CA) Jeff Schultz, Tito Pena
It’s a dark and stormy night – a fitting night for Betty and Veronica to stay inside and have a scary movie festival! But things go from “reel” to real when Archie, Jughead and Reggie try to crash the girls’ private party – and come face-to-face with an axe-wielding maniac! Is everything as it seems, or is it just a case of the boys’ imaginations running wild? Find out in “An Axe to Grind!”
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
Also available in a pack of 20 for you to purchase and hand out to your trick-or-treaters. Be the coolest house on the block-cause comics and the gift of reading lasts longer than candy!
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140040
In Shops: 10/1/2014
hcf boomPublisher: DIAMOND PUBLICATIONS
(W) Bryce Carlson & Various (A) Nichol Ashworth & Various
No tricks here, just treats as BOOM! Studios imprints KaBOOM! and Archaia offer up spooky tales from Adventure Time, Peanuts, and Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock in this mini-comic collection arriving in time for Halloween!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
Also available in a pack of 20 for you to purchase and hand out to your trick-or-treaters. Be the coolest house on the block-cause comics and the gift of reading lasts longer than candy!
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140042
In Shops: 10/1/2014
hcf lbxPublisher: DIAMOND PUBLICATIONS
Welcome to the world of Little Battlers eXperience! In the near future, a boy named Van Yamano owns Achilles, a miniaturized robot made of a new super-strong industrial cardboard. But Achilles is no ordinary LBX. Hidden inside him is secret data that Van must keep out of the hands of evil at all costs!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
Also available in a pack of 20 for you to purchase and hand out to your trick-or-treaters. Be the coolest house on the block-cause comics and the gift of reading lasts longer than candy!
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140050
In Shops: 10/1/2014
hcf merminPublisher: DIAMOND PUBLICATIONS
(W/A/CA) Joey Weiser
Mermin, the Mer-Man from Mer, returns! In this special Halloween-themed one-shot, Mermin and his human friends introduce Halloween customs to Mer. How will the undersea inhabitants embrace the dry land holiday? What kind of treats will they exchange in place of tricks? And, most importantly, what costumes will everyone wear?
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
Also available in a pack of 20 for you to purchase and hand out to your trick-or-treaters. Be the coolest house on the block-cause comics and the gift of reading lasts longer than candy!
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140048
In Shops: 10/1/2014
hcf pvzPublisher: DIAMOND PUBLICATIONS
(W) Paul Tobin (A/CA) Ron Chan
Crazy Dave-the babbling-yet-brilliant inventor and top-notch neighborhood defender-helps his niece, Patrice, and young adventurer Nate Timely fend off Zomboss’s latest global attack in Plants vs. Zombies: Timepocalypse! This new, standalone tale will tickle your funny bones and thrill . . . your brains! The hit video game continues its comic-book invasion!
Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
Also available in a pack of 20 for you to purchase and hand out to your trick-or-treaters. Be the coolest house on the block-cause comics and the gift of reading lasts longer than candy!
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140044
In Shops: 10/1/2014
hcf vampletsPublisher: DIAMOND PUBLICATIONS
(W) Gayle Middleton, Dave Dwonch (A) Amanda Coronado, Bill Blankenship (CA) Gayle Middleton, Bill Blankenship
Beware the Bitemares! Vampyres have always been obsessed with their pets, but now a new threat has arisen! Someone is releasing Bitemares all over Gloomvania, causing chaos in their wake. Who will be able to stop them, and what secret connection do they have to Cinder the Vampyre Kitten? The next chapter in the Vamplets saga starts HERE!Available for FREE* from most comic shops on Halloween ComicFest, October 25th.
Also available in a pack of 20 for you to purchase and hand out to your trick-or-treaters. Be the coolest house on the block-cause comics and the gift of reading lasts longer than candy!
(*Check with your local retailer on rules and availability.)
Item Code: JUL140038
In Shops: 10/1/2014
My opinions:
  1. I order the mini-packs ($4.99, about the same cost for candy) and have my siblings in the midwest hand them out to trick-or-treaters.  I know some librarians who do the same in their schools.  So we have seven titles.  Nothing by DC or Marvel, so no free advertising for them.  (Really, Marvel?  You couldn’t find a Marvel Age story from those digests you sold back in the mid-Aughts and reprint that?)  (Dame goes for DC.  I see the Scooby-Doo story above, but what about a story from the Showfcase reprints?  Those reduce nicely (as seen in the Blue Ribbon digests of the 70s and 80s).  Those Showcse volumes are great for young readers!  Comics Code approved (perfect for red states!) and a 25 stories in one volume for a cheap price!)  I guess I’ll order some of the “big boy” titles from my friendly neighborhood comics shop, but not as many, given the cost.  I guess those copies are for shops, like Free Comic book Day.
  2. Were I retailer, I wouldn’t order the mature titles at all.  Why risk a parent picking up “Aferlife With Archie” and reading it to their child at bedtime?  Add in the memory of a dearly-departed family pet, and you’ve got the makings of a media witch hunt. (For those who think this far-fetched, remember this?)
  3. Marvel, is the Secret Wars collection available for reorders?  Yeah, it’s cool that you’re making it available again, especially to new readers.  (It hooked me back in ’84, so maybe that’s not such a good idea…), but if retailers can’t meet demand from customers, then why bother?  As for Marvel Comics #1…?  I thought the Human Torch was verboten.  Or are there some horror stories in the first issue?  Will this be a 68-page reprint?  (Myself, I think Amazing Fantasy #15 would be better.  Some good Lee/Ditko horror stories in that issue!)
  4. Diamond, do you have digital review copies on your Bookshelf website?  Librarians and educators (and retailers) will want to review the material before ordering copies for distribution.  Publishers, why not do this as well?  Fans will still want to pick up the free comics at stores, so this won’t hurt store marketing.

If you want to order any of these comics to hand them out on Halloween, write down the Diamond order codes (JUL140xxx) and talk to the store manager as soon as possible!

Retailers, here is an old column to re-read: Halloween and the Holidays.  Also: The Return of Halloween Comics.

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24. By Its Cover (Week Of 06.18.14): Elektra Blindness

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While I try to point out aspects of good design some consider objective, art as a whole is pretty subjective. It’s unavoidable that the covers I pick each week reflect my personal tastes and biases.

Every now and then someone will point out a cover that makes me think “how did I overlook that?” For example, there were two covers last month for Elektra #2 that were both pretty good.

ELEKTRA2014002-DC11-881f9

The first, by Mike Del Mundo, conveys a sense of motion using streaks of blood, both elegant and violent. The other, by Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson, is wonderfully atmospheric and moody. Why did I overlook them?

I blame Elektra Blindness.

Elektra Blindness is a phenomenon where my strong disinterest in a series results in my looking right past it, possibly without realizing it. I guess you could say I’m in that camp of people who think the character should’ve remained retired, rather than wandering aimlessly as a character without a purpose (beyond renewing a trademark).

It doesn’t help that Miller’s costume design popularized the idea that the standard ninja uniform for menand women differ in that one consists of about half as much material. When I look at Elektra, all I see is Mortal Kombat‘s Kitana and Mileena (and how their costumes differ from fellow ninjas Sub-Zero and Scorpion). My first reaction to Samnee’s cover was ”those mountains are gorgeous,” immediately followed by “isn’t she FREEZING?” We might disagree on whether a one-piece with ribbons is fitting battle wear, but I think we can all agree it’s not practical winter wear.

Is there a character or series that you’ve experienced your own form of Elektra Blindness with?


DD2014004-DC11-87441-2

DAREDEVIL #4 by Chris Samnee & ELEKTRA #3 by Mike Del Mundo

Characters in shapes was sort of a theme this week. As much as I love Samnee’s illustration, the composition isn’t quite working for me because the two sets of eyes keep fighting for my attention. Mundo’s sai concept is something I could imagine seeing as a movie poster, though I wish the logo were just a little smaller. I don’t like how close it is to the edges.

 

FABL-Cv141-bf48b-2

 FABLES #141 by Nimit Malavia & THOMAS ALSOP #1 by Palle Schmidt

Flippable images were also a theme this week. Points to whoever is the first to do it with a functional ambigram logo. (I actually tried to create an amigram logo when I did that JLA EARTH 2 mock-up, but couldn’t get it to read clearly enough.)

 

AlexAndAda-07-1-51565

 ALEX + ADA #7 by Jonathan Luna

Such a nice, clean design. I like the way her face is mostly hidden under the mask, with just enough revealed to show that she’s covering up her frown with a smile.

 

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FATALE #23 by Sean Phillips

Personal Taste Alert: If your design looks like it could work as a cover for a ’70s concept album, you get an automatic win.

 

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ROCHE LIMIT #1 by Vic Malhotra

The science-minded among you will probably cringe at my saying this, but I had to look up what Roche Limit meant. The four diagrams are a very cool looking design element, but I think they could’ve done a slightly better job of getting across what’s happening. But I love the use of white space, and the way everything is laid out.

 

ST-CEF-01-pr-1-89d60

 STAR TREK: CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER #1 by Juan Ortiz

The composition in bottom half of this image is so great, it’s disappointing that the top half doesn’t fit the tone of the illustration at all. Even if the poor typeface choice was meant to go with the “old book” theme, I’ve seen plenty of paperbacks from the ’60s with better title treatments than that.

 

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escapo-cover-paul-pope-z2-comics

 ESCAPO by Paul Pope

Personal Taste Alert: I enjoy just about any comic cover that looks like it could be an album cover, even if I prefer the ’70s concept album look to ’90s alt rock.

TheManhattanProjects_21-2

 THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS #21 by Jonathan Hickman

The cover on the right is the sketch variant, though I think I prefer it to the regular cover. I just love the way the blue dog blends in with the blue ring, it feels like a more complete design. I didn’t even realize it was a sketch cover at first – I just thought it was a gutsy use of white space.

 

Wicked+Divine01_CoverB

 THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #1 by Jamie McKelvie

I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, so I don’t know if the lighting effects play into the story or not, but they look way cool. But instead of being two covers, I kind of wish the other cover appeared on back upside-down like a flip-book. Even better, what if the title was reversed on the back portrait to read “The Divine + The Wicked”?


Kate Willaert is a graphic designer for Shirts.com. You can find her her art on Tumblr and her thoughts @KateWillaert. Notice any spelling errors? Leave a comment below.

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25. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Tradd Moore

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Tradd Moore broke into the comics scene with the indy series The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, and it’s sequel The Legend of Luther Strode with writer Justin Jordan. His distinct, dynamic style, and liberal use of squash & stretch with his characters has quickly propelled Tradd Moore to the top of the mainstream comics world. He graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2010, and jumped right into illustrating comics after that.

Today, Tradd Moore has a bonafide hit on his hands with his work on the new, revamped Ghost Rider with writer/artist Felipe Smith for Marvel Comics. He also provides cover art for other Marvel books, like Secret Avengers, and Deadpool. When he can find the time, he continues to work on independent comics like the new Image series Zero.

You can see more artwork, and follow Tradd Moore on his blog.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com - Andy Yates

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