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26. SDCC ’14: Why Saga Continues To Be The Best

by Zachary Clemente

There’s something special about Image’s book Saga. You know it, I know it, the people who voted for the Eisner awards know it – heck, my mom knows it! On Saturday of SDCC ’14, Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson sat down with co-creators Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples to discuss their out-of-control success of a book, winner of four Eisner awards the day previous.

It was clear that Stephenson, who also edits Saga, had a set of specific questions that he knew would be interesting topics to discuss – keeping the panel at a good pace and setting an example for the sort of questions would illicit responses beyond a yes, no, or “I can’t talk about that”. He started off asking about how the book’s production has changed in the past 18 months or so, after they wrapped their first 6 issues.

Vaughan picked this up, saying that he’s learned that his job as writer has been to get out of Staples’ way as the artist. Interesting, this is exactly the approach writer Matt Fraction has with artist David Aja, to much success. Jokingly, they said that the amount of work Staples now does is much higher while Vaughan “has just gotten lazier – that’s the evolution!” In truth, however, as they’ve becoming more comfortable and confident working with each other, Vaughan has been able to really step back to showcase Staples’ ability to visualize the narrative in such a marvelous fashion.

Stephenson got them to discuss their approach to the covers of the book and the work their design and lettering collaborator, Fonographiks (aka Steven Finch). Both Staples and Vaughan are huge fans of the aesthetic of Kubrick’s 2001 and therefore found appeal with a clean style born out of a modern and minimalist approach – a character or two on top of a single color as a constant motif. For the title logo itself, they found it extremely important for it to be subdued, wanting to steer clear of the loud logos many readers are used to seeing. Instead, they wanted the logo to have an inviting and warm sensibility, welcoming readers to pick up the issues. Vaughan went on to discuss the importance of having the comics say “Chapter” instead of “Issue” on the cover and how having full control over every aspect of the book’s design was so liberating as situations like “when an ad for a goddamn Snickers bar comes in and ruins your dramatic scene” just aren’t a reality at Image.

Though a question on many a-reader’s tongue, Stephenson asked Vaughan on his stance of killing off characters in way that has gotten his work compared to the likes of George R.R. Martin or Joss Whedon.

Do I feel bad about murdering people? – Brian K. Vaughan

Vaughan first picked up the question reminding us that characters in fiction not ever dying is a recent phenomenon, as large corporations are built on top of legacies of beloved characters and the enduring support they get from fans allows them to continue – those characters just can’t die. He then goes into how Saga is kind of a way for him address anxiousness of life, fictional or otherwise, stating that “we read this stuff to prepare us for the worst.”

We’re all going to die terribly, so read our comic book! – Brian K. Vaughan

Staples and Vaughan were keen to remind the audience that Saga is fully and truly all about Hazel and though she is just a child now, she will grow and while her parents, arguably the current protagonists, are very important now – they may not be later. With that, they revealed the cover art for the first hardcover, collecting what Vaughan and Staples consider to be the first chapter of the series – issues 1-18 or trade volumes 1-3.

sagaHC

The cover, with a very prominent close-up of Hazel breastfeeding from Alana is a clear response to the backlash the book received when the first cover was revealed – showing the young couple with child to Alana’s breast. They had this to say on the subject:

Just doubling-down on our breastfeeding stance, aren’t we? – Fiona Staples

Some stores won’t even rack the first volume because the breast-feeding is controversial, but…fuck them. – Brian K. Vaughan

The panel was then opened up to Q&A from the audience. Most questions pertained to the plot, the possibilities of merchandise such as shirts, toys, plush dolls, and the alike – most of which were given expected answers of uncertainty. There will not be another run of the Lying Cat shirts, but they are not opposed to high-quality merchandise.

Additionally, when asked about their feelings of the possibility of an adaptation into another medium such as film or television Brian explained, not for the first time, that though he has worked in both other industries, he finds comics to be the vastly superior medium – though would not be opposed if they received an offer they just couldn’t say no to. Staples eagerly suggested, when queried, that the best game adaptation would be a Dungeons & Dragons styled tabletop roleplaying game to much applause.

One attendee brought up a point that’s been stewing in at least my head, which is the apparent and thorough multiculturalism represented in Saga. Vaughan honestly answered that it’s something he has to be keenly cognizant of as, when first writing the book, it took him a while to realize that “white” didn’t have to be the default. Apparently, when designing Alana, he told Staples that she shouldn’t be a red-head as “there are a glut of red-heads right now.” When she responded with “you know, she doesn’t have to be white,” he let out a defeated and embarrassed “oh…right.”

Another attendee brought up the page in issue 14, where lying cat devastated a whole readership in one day.

2013saga

While they approached this page like any other, Vaughan used this to discuss how, as a child, he found the iconic Slave Leia costume featured in Star Wars not sexy, but subjugated. His distaste for it is apparent with his wish to attempt to portray more realistic situations when war affects civilian life. I personally find this a fantastic stance on the subject and deeply appreciate that he’s coming from this sort of perspective.

Why do the robot people have dicks and stuff? – The next Attendee

The person asking this question did preface it with the fact that it was less touching. It did, however launch the duo into a discussion of soft sci-fi and how Saga is a romantic drama, wrapped in the trappings of a space epic.

Lastly, it was revealed that one of the main reasons that much of the technology in this book isn’t necessary metal spaceships and laser guns is because Staples doesn’t really enjoy drawing any of that – so Vaughan had to compensate, all for the better.

Overall, this was a Saga fan’s dream come true. Vaughan and Staples were receptive, amiable and inviting. They clearly have a spectacular rapport that’s equal parts professional and loving – they’ve put everything and more they have into this book and it clearly shows. As a fan, I’m loving it and as someone deeply invested in seeing comics grow and evolve, I’m in for the long haul. Thanks to Eric Stephenson for moderating with a charming ease, keeping the flow casual and friendly.

3 Comments on SDCC ’14: Why Saga Continues To Be The Best, last added: 7/28/2014
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27. The Beat Podcasts! – SDCC ’14 Day 4: Geof Darrow and Kinokuniya

logo-pod-more-to-come-1400.pngLive from San Diego Comic Con, it’s More To Come! Publishers Weekly’s podcast of comics news, interviews and discussion with Calvin Reid, Kate Fitzsimons and The Beat’s own Heidi MacDonald.

In part four of More To Come’s San Diego Comic-Con special podcast, Calvin Reid interviews comic artist and writer Geof Darrow about creating Shaolin Cowboy and The Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot. Then, he speaks with Terence Irvins, graphic novel buyer at Japan-based bookstore chain Kinokuniya about their upcoming big push into the American comics market

Listen to this episode in streaming here, download it direct here and catch up with our previous podcasts on the Publishers Weekly website, or subscribe to More To Come on iTunes

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28. SDCC ’14 Art of Videogames Panel

Dark Horse leads the way in transporting videogames into the comic world.

Dark Horse leads the way in transporting videogames into the comic world.

By: Nick Eskey

Art has gone hand in hand with videogames almost since the beginning. Oh yes, the earliest games were either text-based adventures, or pixilated jumbles; Not really “artistic.” But the boxes they were packaged in were usually masterpieces of fantasies. It wasn’t that developers didn’t feel games were worthy of art as part of their game play, but the technology wasn’t there. Now, with high density pixel displays and fast processors, we find ourselves capable of things never thought possible with gaming. We’ve seen some of the best games ever released in the last few years. Typically they involve large, detailed worlds and characters that people can’t help but explore.

Various artists and designers that were part of huge titles like Tomb Raider, Halo, Mass Effect, Witcher, Plants Vs. Zombies, and The Last of Us were present at San Diego Comic Con to discuss the art of the games. “We are seeing fans want to explore more of the world, more of the characters that they were introduced to.” This has led to a good number of games getting their own comic book adaption. Not necessarily retelling the game itself, but “following storylines or characters that no one had thought of before.” Both The Last of Us and Tomb Raider have comics that are set to come out sometime within the year, both being published by Dark Horse. With Tomb Raider, we are promised to follow Lara Croft after the videogame finding out more of what she is.

The Witcher will also be seeing a comic, again by Dark Horse, entitled “House of Glass.” “The series will be a standalone story. It will add to the Witcher universe, and will introduce new characters and show monsters from the Witcher 3 game.” Other games like Halo and Mass Effect will be seeing comics too. Halo: The Next 72 Hours will take place after the 4th game, following the events that happen with Master chief. For Mass Effect, it will follow the main antagonist from the last DLC from Mass Effect 3. “It’s going to be a last adventure to go on with the characters of the original Mass Effect.”

Aside from comics, there’s other mediums like art books that show the full breadth of artistry that goes into game development. “Most often we only see three quarters of the artwork that goes into a game being used. There’s also the evolution of characters… That’s why art books are so great. They give a sneak peek into what didn’t make it in… what changed.”

With comics though, publishers and artists are very concerned with not letting the fans down. Because of this, even though they are different mediums, publishers try to make sure that the artists from the games are the ones that will also be the writers for the comics. This allows the stories and characters to be as connected as possible. “Sometimes it doesn’t work [though], especially when telling a side story. It then becomes a sand box experience. Here it becomes important to work with and trust a creative team.”

Videogames have become a platform for new forms of art, and they have taken a while to get to this point. Now that fans are eager to immerse themselves more in the worlds they introduce, their presence in comics and graphic novels will grow more and more, fleshing out worlds that perhaps even their writers didn’t know would come to be.

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29. The Beat Podcasts! – SDCC ’14 Day 2: Don Rosa, Eleanor Davis, Lucy Knisley & Archie Comics

logo-pod-more-to-come-1400.pngLive from San Diego Comic Con, it’s More To Come! Publishers Weekly’s podcast of comics news, interviews and discussion with Calvin Reid, Kate Fitzsimons and The Beat’s own Heidi MacDonald.

In part two of More To Come’s San Diego Comic-Con special, Calvin Reid talks to Don Rosa about Scrooge McDuck, European fans and Carl Barks; Eleanor Davis on her new book How to Be Happy; and Lucy Knisley about her new book An Age of License. Meanwhile, Heidi MacDonald interviews Archie Comics President Mike Pellerito and sr. v-p Alex Segura about Life With Archie, dead Archie and zombie Archie. All this and more from Publishers Weekly’s More To Come!

Listen to this episode in streaming here, download it direct here and catch up with our previous podcasts on the PublishersWeekly website, or subscribe to More To Come on iTunes

 

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30. SDCC 14: Aspen Comics Another “Aloha”

By David Nieves
Aspen Comics beat their own drum through the walls of Hall 9 today at SDCC. Panelsts included EIC Vince Hernandez, Beth Sotelo, Siya Oum, Jordan Gunderson, Giuseppe Cafaro, T.G Roberts, J.T Krul, Josh Reed, and Scott Lobdell. Festivities were led as usual by Frank Mastromro and Peter Steigerwald, kicking off with the traditional thunderous “aloha”.

While the company didn’t have a ton of new announcements, the panel went through much of their current offerings. *Damsels in Excess* was up first, written by Vince the book has exclusive SDCC covers that will be available through their online store in limited quantities. The Siya cover is the gorgeous and we’ll post the file in a bit.

That led into Siya talking about her book *Lola xoxo*. Her upcoming plans include a spinoff volume called “Wasteland Madam”. Afterwards an official volume 2 will be released but not solid dates were given for either book.

Peter Steigerwald’s long awaited Zoo hunters was once again teased. In Peter fashion once again “it’ll be out soon”.

Last years hit *Jirni* came back with a new volume. Writer J.T Krul promises more danger and excitement with a Conan like story in the upcoming final acts of the chapter. The collected edition for volume 1 will be available soon.

*Seven to Die* is the new Aspen novel by T.G Roberts. Her pitch for the story was a tale about a huge universe but focusing on the adventure of a girl exploring her new found mystic items.

Fathom has a Halloween comic called *Fathom: Adventures of Ernie*. A coloring book for kids, Aspen is attempting to reach out beyond their young adult audience. Like the family they are he group chimed in saying, “Vince is still trying to solve the puzzles inside.”

Soulfire and Fathom will have big plans soon to be announced for next year. But they are putting out Marvel style source books for both the properties. The books are to get readers of their newer properties who don’t pick up the flagship line an enticing blueprint of their properties.

Another one of the more popular 10 -for-10 books, *Legend of the Shadow Clan* will get a brand new volume. No new updates were given on the EA Iris movie.

Dellec volume 2 will come to retail this year. Once again Vince and Frank will be working together on the book. Shrugged also has plans to return but neither has a solid launch date.

A big announcement about the entire Aspen library will be made next month but today a deal was finalized with the digital publisher Madefire. More details need to be discussed but it looks like the entire Aspen library will get a fancy digital tratment. A Fathom mobile game is in the works. Aspen just signed a deal with a development firm to flesh out some new video games based on Aspen’s properties.

The lively audience Q&A closed their panel. Among some of the topics discussed were the company’s view of female characters. All of the panelist seemed to agree that it’s what they’re mostly known for to most people and sometimes that hurts sales among male readers. In Peter’s view male or female a good story is a good story.
One thing that we brought up was with the return of NBC’s *Heroes* would we see new digital transmedia material from the publisher or possibly bring back some of the old material. It’s a possibility but they would have to have talks with the network first.

NOTE: come back later as we’ll post all the stuff shown today later this afternoon as soon as we get it.

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31. SDCC ’14: Spider-Verse panel Recap

by Alexander Jones

This early in the morning, it’s tough to get comics fans to wake up for anything. Luckily here at San Diego Comic-Con, there was a room full of eager Spidey fans frothing at the mouth to hear more news about the upcoming Spider-Verse event over at Marvel. The event combines every single Spider-Man character (owned by Marvel) into one jam packed story. This saw multiple heroes down at the show decked out in some awesome costumes. There was an Black Cat cosplayer in the room, a Miles Morales Spider-Man, and the original Peter Parker outfit as well.Spider-Man - Spider-Verse variant cover by Skottie Young

The panelists included Dan Slott, writer of the event; Senior Editor Nick Lowe; Daredevil author Mark Waid; Superior Foes of Spider-Man author Nick Spencer; artist Humberto Ramos; and Amazing Spider-Man colorist Edgar Delgado. Nick Lowe solicited much excitement from the crowd who happy to oblige amongst some of the others. He teased that he was going to show some of the fans a video later on in the panel. Mark Waid was attempting to tease that artist Humberto Ramos was only late because he wanted to make a big entrance. This solicited even more applause from an energetic crowd.

We then got another tease at the Spider-Verse tease variant covers by Gabrielle Dell’Otto.

Another comic was shown off at the upcoming The Superior Spider-Man #32 by Slott and author Christos Gage, along with Giuseppe Camuncoli and Adam Kubert teased the Edge of Spider-Verse. Humberto Ramos then showed up to a crowd who didn’t give him any applause at first. The audience then gave him some news after the initial whimper. Lowe explained that they were not going to show us any of the art from Spider-Verse yet.

Slott elaborated on the return of Superior Spidey. He states that Spidey got caught in a time vacuum and ended up stranded in 2099, where the new comic book picks up. The audience was shown some variant Skottie Young covers that are absolutely gorgeous. The focus then naturally shifted over to Spider-Man 2099. Lowe asked the audience if they bought the title from Will Sliney and original creator of the hero; Peter David. The audience once again broke off into massive applause. The editor explained some of the premises behind the issue. Rick Leonardi was mentioned as returning to the book with Issues #4 and #5 coming in October.

Mark Waid then teased Daredevil during Original Sin, which focuses the spotlight on Matt Murdock’s mother. She had abandoned him as a child, and Matt sees her again when she has been on tough times and found her way to prison. She is on her way to Wakanda. The group teased pages from upcoming Daredevil #7. Lowe shared that the group has a terrifying story coming up entitled “Who Are The Purple Children.” Waid states that the happy-go-lucky Daredevil is now starting to lose his cool with this title.

IMG_0844Slott elaborated about the Original Sin storyline crossing into Spider-Man, which features the Spider that bit Peter has also bitten Cindy Moon. She is also known as the Spider-Bride by Ezekiel. Ezekiel served as Spidey’s mentor for a short  time. Ezekiel has been keeping Moon enslaved for a certain amount of time, and her breaking out of imprisonment is going to be a major inciting incident towards Spider-Verse.

Lowe then brought some more attention to The Superior Foes of Spider-Man. Author Nick Spencer was talking about how this comic is focusing on some of the C and D-list villains in the Marvel Universe. He teased that that the comic book series may be crawling down to a halt soon. Issue #14 shifts the character focus more towards Overdrive. Spencer noted that at times he only needs to write down a paragraph and then have artist Steve Lieber work out what the page in full is going to look like.

Edge of Spider-Verse #2 by Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez was met with much fanfare, as it features the return of Gwen Stacy as an alternate Universe Spider-Man. Edge of Spider-Verse #3 is written by Gerard Way and Jake Wyatt was also met with much acclaim. Lowe stated that he has been trying to find a way to write for Marvel for some time. The musician turned comic artist has a massive following.

spider_man_unlimited_screenshot_trailer_1

In The Amazing Spider-Man Issue #7, Dan Slott teased a brand new spider-Man that he created for Spider-Verse. The Spider-UK, who has supposedly been on the Captain Britain Corps. The next issue bring in the MC2 Spider-Girl known as Mayday Parker. Slott teased that she may be in for a “rough” time.

Spider-Verse Team-Up was then announced which is a new comic shipping in November. Each issue is being written by a different author. Christos Gage, Roger Stern, Tom DeFalco, Dave Williams, and others will be penning the story.

The crowd was even more excited about the brand new Scarlet Spiders tale. The comic is a mini-series written by Mike Costa and drawn by Paco Diaz. The book features Ultimate Jessica Drew, Ben Reilly Spider-Man, and the Scarlet Spider. The cover teased was a variant issue drawn by long-time Ultimate Spider-Man artist Mark Bagley.

The trailer for a multi-media project was teased. Developed by Gameloft, the panel was teasing a video game entitled Spider-Man Unlimited. There are 23 playable Spider-Men in the brand new phone game. Lowe noted that each Spider-Man has different abilities, and there are going to be other villains in the title. The game is set-up like a Temple Run style format.

Whew! That is a lot of Spidey info. Spider-Verse kicks off in Amazing Spider-Man #9 in November.

 

1 Comments on SDCC ’14: Spider-Verse panel Recap, last added: 7/27/2014
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32. SDCC ’14: Avengers & X-Men: AXIS Panel Recap

by Alexander Jones

Marvel’s Avengers & X-Men: AXIS panel is officially getting underway here at San Diego Comic-Con International. Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso is hovering near the stage about to get ready. In the background there is a line of people getting ready for the show. Name placards for the panel are all lined up as follows; Senior Editor Nick Lowe, AXIS writer Rick Remender, and Executive Editor Mike Marts.

Senior Editor Nick Lowe is moderating the effort. Jordan D. White, the Editor of Deadpool made an appearance at the show as well. As soon as that was done the group jumped right into some of the new announcements from the show.Avengers_Rage_of_Ultron_Interior

All-New Captain America is given an official name and features the art of Stuart Immonen.

Remender stated that the new comic is going to have a completely different tone for this new series. He stated that having Steve and Sam working together is going to add some new dynamics to the title. A new Alex Ross cover for the book was also shown here at the show. Remender states that writing more lighthearted characters in the book adds a sense of fun to the storyline. Ian Rogers is also revealed as the new Nomad in the comic book series. It was also stated that Hydra is being built up again in a way that apparently we have not seen before. Marvel vaguely stated that they are doing something completely new with Marvel’s premiere terrorist organization.

Remender talks about how Immonen takes the story to a nearly perfect level. He was wondering “what drugs were being put in Stuart Immonen’s water supply,” as the panel were shocked that the artist was able to give such detailed work and deliver it to the publisher on time. Captain America #25 is also going to have a bit of Stuart Immonen artwork towards the back half of the title featuring the brand new incarnation of Hydra. Unfortunately this also means that Stuart Immonen is departing fan-favorite title All-New X-Men

The Avengers: Rage Of Ultron Original Graphic Novel was then announced. Rick Remender is once again writing the storyline along with artist Jerome Opena and Dean White. The new story is an in-continuity original graphic novel that has an April 2015 release date. Alonso stated in a joking manner that Jerome “is so much better than Stuart Immonen.” This event takes place in a post-AXIS environment, which “leads to some very exciting things that are coming down the line.  The under-appreciated hero known as Starfox is heading back to the surface in the brand new graphic novel. The Red Skull is also going to tie into the big Avengers & X-Men: AXIS storyline with the March to AXIS titles including Uncanny Avengers #24 and Captain America #24 which sees the final fate of Jet Black and observe what has been happening with the Red Skull.

IMG_0812-1

The panel then revealed Avengers & X-Men: AXIS Issue #1, whose first is entitled The Red Supremacy. The title contains artwork from Adam Kubert. The group shared that the Vision is being toyed with once again. He is said to play a part towards a major moment in the upcoming AXIS and Graphic Novel storylines. We are also shown the debut of the brand new Jim Cheung cover for Avengers & X-Men: AXIS #2 pencilled by Kubert again. The third issue was revealed as well, which is being drawn by Leinil Yu.

The focus then shifted over towards the AXIS: Carnage mini-series from Rick Spears and the AXIS: Hobgoblin mini-series by Kevin Shinick and Javier Rodriguez. Where the group explained that there are exciting things to come from both series. AXIS: Revolutions features writing from Dennis Hopeless and Simon Spurrier with art from Ken Lashley.

There were even more small issues that were announced including Uncanny Avengers Issue #25 and Deadpool #36. Remender and artist Daniel Acuna are covering the final issue which is born out of the conflict with Scarlet Witch and the Red Skull.

Magneto #11, Loki: Agent of Asgard #7, All-New X-Factor #15 were all also announced to tie into the event.

When the floor turned over for Question and Answers from fans, a young man named Rory dressed up like Captain America asked a question about the Fantastic Four. Alonso stated that an upcoming event storyline is going to be more focused on the team. Another fan asked about certain X-Men characters joining the Avengers, and was wondering why there is less cross pollination happening with X-Men becoming Avengers

IMG_0813-1Lowe elaborated that the X-Men is categorized in that group based on their genetics. White noted the amount of cross-over and talked about books like Danger, Longshot, Mimics, and some of the other comics’ characters that have been featured on both teams. It was announced that Brevoort was really the one that had the idea of the Onslaught motif powered by Professor Charles Xavier. Remender said at first he sort of rejected the idea, but then started to re-think it towards the past few minutes, and it all came into a notebook for him.

Remender interjected that he is trying to mix both of these separate continuities to blend together shaking up the status quo for each hero. Another fan was curious about why there is a lack of X-Men material at the show, while there are many Avengers and X-Men panels that are featured here at the show. Nicke Lowed Jokingly stated to the group, “Put the hack Brian Michael Bendis on the book.” The panel explained that fans had nothing to worry about as AXIS is going to feature a heavy amount of X-Men material. On the topic of unworthy Thor, Remender stated that he had spent hours on the phone with Aaron talking about how they can tie the storyline into AXIS.

A comic book reader asked point blank whether Cyclops was going to be killed in Avengers vs. X-Men. The panelists explained that the idea might have been “floating around in the room, but never entertained for too long. “It was also announced that Jason Aaron was the one who had actually had the idea of the female Thor.

 

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33. Illustration Samples: Karate

hl-karate 4 up samp

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34. 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!

 

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35. 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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36. 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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37. 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!

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38. 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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39. 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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OTHER







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40. 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.

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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]

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41. 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

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42. 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.

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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!

]

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43. 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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44. 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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45. 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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46. 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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47. 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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48. 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

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49. 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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50. 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.

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