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Results 26 - 50 of 1,974
26. Anka, Butters and Fazekas test Boundaries with Captain Marvel

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Kelly Sue DeConnick announced she was leaving Captain Marvel only a few days ago, but Marvel is tapping talent new to comics for the upcoming series, Marvel’s Agent Carter showrunners Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas. Artist extraordinaire Kris Anka is providing pencils for the series. This new creative team brings a few more women to mainstream comics — an important new step in diversity for Marvel that will hopefully see the rest of the industry follow suit. Recently, DeConnick brought Captain Marvel into space attempting to serve as a warrior between the outside forces of Earth and the Marvel Universe. Fast Company broke the news and explained that S.W.O.R.D. is no longer in business, giving Captain Marvel an important role in the new Marvel Universe in solving threats to Earth before they touch down to the atmosphere.

The rest of the creative team also explained the new changes in Captain Marvel’s design: “She’s military,” says Fazekas. “She’s not going to have this huge mane of hair. It needs to be practical.” With Captain Marvel’s hairstyle becoming so eclectic over the past year or so within so many different titles — streamlining the concept with a shorter cut is a stroke of brilliance. Anka’s new designs seem to be reflecting the choice.

Finally, Tara Butters chimed in with a quote that should further acclimate fans to the new direction of the title: “We love the fact that she wanted to be a test pilot, someone who tests boundaries,” says Butters. “I feel that’s brought into her superhero character, where she’s pushing herself. Sometimes she takes risks that she shouldn’t take.” Captain Marvel #1 launches this Fall taking place in the eight months after Secret Wars in the All-New, All-Different Marvel Universe.

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1 Comments on Anka, Butters and Fazekas test Boundaries with Captain Marvel, last added: 6/25/2015
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27. Interview: Jeff Lemire on the Past, Present, and Future of his Comics Career

Jeff Lemire is one of the most prolific comics creators currently working in the industry.  Following his breakout graphic novel Essex County, Lemire has explored themes of childhood and innocence lost through contemplative and grounded graphic novels like Underwater Welder and through genre series like Sweet Tooth and the breakout hit Descender, which was recently optioned for a film adaptation.

I recently sat down with Jeff Lemire to discuss his storied career.  We explored his early career, the difference in perspective that fatherhood has provided him as a writer, and the horrors he learned were perpetrated by the Canadian government against the First Nation aboriginal community as he prepared to pen Roughneck.  The word “X-Men” was also mentioned.


Alex Lu: How’s Descender going?

Jeff Lemire: It’s going great.  Dustin’s finished issue five and he’s working on number six.  I’ve written eleven scripts, and the reception has been as we possibly could have hoped, both critically and in sales numbers.

Lu: Eleven scripts?  You’re pretty far ahead.  Is that how you typically work?

Lemire:  Yeah, I work really far ahead on everything.  I’m juggling so many projects right now that the only way I can handle it is to be so far ahead on everything that I can take a couple months off one thing to work on something else.  Right now is my time off from Descender so I can let it sit and come back to the scripts once Dustin draws them.

Lu: Because you work so far ahead, do you often find yourself revising older scripts based upon where the later ones take you?

Lemire:  Oh, absolutely.  That’s a real benefit that you don’t often get working in monthly serialized comics.  When you’re doing the monthly schedule, most people are getting the scripts in right on time and flying by the seat of their pants.  It’s nice, especially on creator owned stuff, when you have the opportunity to let the story take you wherever it wants to go and if you go in a direction you hadn’t anticipated, you can go back and rework earlier things to make everything line up.  It’s a unique adventure.

Lu: In the third issue of the story, you introduce the concept of a robotic afterlife.  Is this something that was in the story from the onset or was it something you came up with later?

Lemire:  It wasn’t in the initial pitches, but it emerged early on in conversations with Dustin.  I don’t want to give away too much about where the story is going, but the sequence you’re talking about came out of an idea Dustin had after reading the initial pitch.

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Lu: What was the initial pitch like and how far have you deviated from it?

Lemire:  It’s pretty close to the initial pitch.  The story should run for 23 to 40 issues, and I think we’ve added one major character who’s now pretty integral to the whole thing, but other than that…I spent a long time on the pitch before showing it to Dustin so I had the building blocks in place.  It was a matter of fleshing the characters out and letting some of them breathe and develop.  Sometimes, seeing Dustin’s art will give me ideas for new directions or I’ll fall in love with a background character and I’ll start writing a bigger role for them because I like the look of them and want to tell a story about them.

Lu: I think one of the breakout stars of the first arc is the Driller bot.  I didn’t think he’d make it past his introductory issue, but he’s still around!

Lemire:  Driller was always one of the main characters.  He, Tim, and Bandit were always going to be a threesome, right from my initial pitch.  I was surprised to hear that people didn’t think he was going to he was going to stick around, but he’s here to stay.  I always like my big dumb guy and he gives a good balance to the rest of the group.  Physically, the difference between him and Bandit is a great juxtaposition.

Lu: The relationship between Tim and Driller seems similar to the one between Rocket Raccoon and Groot.

Lemire:  Yeah, I guess!  Driller has some secrets that Groot probably doesn’t have, though.  There’s a bit more to Driller than what people are getting right now.  We’ll leave it at that.

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Lu: What’s been the most exciting part about working on the series so far?

Lemire:  Oh, it’s definitely been seeing Dustin’s art.  It’s the first creator owned book I’ve done that I haven’t drawn myself and it’s a real thrill to invest so much into something and then share it with someone.  Then you’re surprised by how that someone brings themselves to it as well.  Seeing these ideas that I came up with being realized and built upon by Dustin is a real thrill.

Lu: Were you thinking of Dustin when you came up with the pitch for Descender?

Lemire:  He was the first artist I asked.  I don’t remember if I had him in mind when I was writing the initial pitch, and I don’t think I did.  However, now I can’t imagine the series without him because his watercolor style has become so indicative of what people think of when they think of Descender. 

Lu: Dustin’s art is a great yet unexpected choice because of the way his natural watercolors stand in contrast with the cold and mechanical feel of this futuristic world.

Lemire:  I think the art style he’s using embodies the whole core of the book.  It’s a science fiction book about machines and things that are technical, but it’s executed in a very organic way.  That mixture of the human and the machine embodies Tim and really, the heart of the book.  It ends up being perfect in that way.

I think Tim is the most human character in the book, which is ironic given that he’s a robot.  I think robots are the ultimate symbol of human arrogance.  It’s us playing god, creating something in our own image.  We’re seeing this world that’s outgrown us.  These machines grew beyond us and we couldn’t handle it so we destroyed our own creations.  I think that says something about us.

Lu: What were you influenced by as you developed Descender?

Lemire:  It’s always a tough question to answer because I never remember exactly what I was into when I develop a concept.  It’s a weird alchemy how any idea comes together.  I can’t think of a lot of real sci-fi I was into at the time.  One thing that influenced me a little bit was Jack Kirby’s Machine Man.  I was really into reading all the 70s cosmic stuff he was doing at Marvel.  I don’t think you see a lot of it in Descender, but I think it’s there somewhere.  You know, I don’t know, I feel like I’m avoiding the question but I really don’t remember what I was into it.  Sometimes these things happen real fast and these things just spill out.

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Lu: How long have you been working on Descender?

Lemire:  I think I started working on the pitch last February or March.  I knew my DC exclusive would be done in June at that point so I was starting to develop things I could work on with Image or elsewhere.  That was around the point Dustin got involved, but I had been working on concepts six to seven months before that as well.

Lu: Did you find it challenging to work with Dustin given that his style is so different from your own?

Lemire:  Not at all.  I think if you want someone to draw just like you, then there’s no point in collaborating at all.  You try to find artists whose work you like and respect and you work with them because you want them to be themselves.  It’s very easy for me to be completely hands off when I’m not drawing something and give my artist, in this case Dustin, the room to let him be himself.  I respond to his work emotionally and aesthetically so I wouldn’t want him to be anything other than Dustin.  I think it’s a very easy collaboration.  There’s a lot of mutual respect and trust.

Lu: A lot of your creator owned work has been published in the form of a graphic novel.  What made you decide to produce Descender as a monthly?

Lemire:  The biggest creator owned book I ever did was Sweet Tooth, and I did that for four years so doing another was nothing new for me.  I think I’ve really grown accustomed to a monthly format and I even kind of prefer it.  In a film, you have two hours to tell a story and develop a character, whereas in television you can spend multiple seasons and many hours developing characters and plotlines.  Comparing graphic novels to monthlies is similar because in monthlies you have more time to develop everything and execute stories.  You’re not trying to boil everything down into an easily digestible three act structure like you are in a graphic novel.

I prefer that longer format monthlies provide; the ability to take an issue and focus on one character per month.  You don’t have to be so focused on the amount of space you have to play with or the space you’re wasting in order to tell a story.  I just finished a graphic novel, but I think I want the next thing I draw to be a monthly.  I ultimately prefer things that way.

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Lu: With monthlies, do you ever worry that you might wander so much that you lose sight of what you originally wanted to say with the work?

Lemire:  No, because what I start with is usually very simple.  One or two sentences.  A simple core idea.  It’s never anything too complicated or too complex.  You’re not starting with a byzantine plot you’re trying to hold onto.  It’s easy to remember a core idea, so it’s never been something I’ve been worried about.  Plus, the more you get into a book and develop the characters, the more you feel like you know them and the easier it is to find your way through a work.

Lu: How long does it take you to find that kind of rhythm with your characters?

Lemire:  It varies from project to project.  Generally, with stuff like Descender, it develops pretty quickly.   Once you write the first issue, if you’ve done it well, you get a pretty good sense of who these characters are.  Especially when you’re the creator of these characters, you already know these characters better than anyone else so it’s not hard to find that rhythm as long as you stay true to and build off of your original idea.

Lu: Your story in the Vertigo CMYK Anthology, “Sweet Tooth: Black,” really struck me because it caused me to develop an empathetic relationship with a group of characters in a very short period of time.

Lemire:  Thanks.  I actually think it was a mistake to do that story.  I was happy with how it came out but I had already told the Sweet Tooth story and I was really happy with the ending.  After I made the Black story, I wondered why I went back to something I was happy with.  I’m glad it affected other people.

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However, doing more short stories is something I would love to find time to do.  These days, though, I seem to jump from one project to the other and don’t have as much time to experiment as I used to.  With this story, I think I just missed the character a little bit and thought an eight page zero issue would be a good way to scratch that itch without committing to something bigger, but in hindsight, I probably wouldn’t have done it.  I don’t think I’ll ever go back to any of my stuff again.  When something’s done, I usually move pretty quickly.

Lu: Something like Essex County seems like it still has room for development.

Lemire:  Yeah, but I would never go back to it, either.  I’ve had people ask me, and I feel like I’m a completely different person than I was when I wrote that book.  Each book marks the place you were in when you did it, and it’s really hard to go back and be the same person you were.  You mentioned holding onto that core idea and not losing it, but when you finish something it goes away and you get another core idea.

It’s really hard to go back and find that original idea, especially when that idea inspired your first book.  I was in a very different place compared to where I am now, so it’d be very difficult to do more Essex County that would fit with what I was doing before.  Plus, Essex County is almost ten years old and people are still enjoying it and it still sells very well so it still has a life and I don’t want to mess with that.  I want to do new things.

Lu: Would you want to go back and explore the more realistic space you explored with Essex County, though?

Lemire:  Absolutely.  That’s the Simon and Schuster graphic novel I just finished.  It’s not another chapter of Essex County, but it’s a return to the grounded family drama work I was doing from a different perspective.  I love doing genre books like Trillium and Descender and I think I always will, but it’s also important for me to balance that work with stuff like Essex County to make sure I don’t stray too far away from reality.

Lu: And this new book is called Roughneck, right?  What did you discover the difference in your headspace to be between this book and Essex County?

Lemire:  Yeah…I’m a totally different person.  When I was writing Essex County, I had never published anything and nobody knew who I was so there was no expectations on the work.  I was still finding myself as a creator and on a personal level, I wasn’t a parent yet.  I am now, and that dramatically changes your life and everything about your perspective on life.  I’ve had a certain amount of success now so I get to do comics every day and make a living off it whereas I was struggling to write Essex County while working day jobs.

Lu: Even though you weren’t a father while you were writing Essex County, there are recurring storylines in that book and your other works about what it means to be a kid and to grow older and lose your sense of innocence.  What is it about childhood that you find so fascinating?

Lemire:  I have no idea!  It’s one of those themes that I keep coming back to and keep exploring.  To sit back and analyze why I do that is not really how my mind works.  I do the analysis through my comics, so I don’t know what it is about childhood, innocence lost, and fatherhood that makes me keep coming back to them, and sometimes you don’t even want to analyze, think about, or articulate those things because you don’t want that well your ideas seem to come from to go away.

On a basic creative level, I have always enjoyed writing from a child’s perspective.  It comes very naturally and I seem to have a knack for it.  I think I’m interested to look back in a few years and  compare the stuff I wrote before I was a father to the stuff I wrote after and see if the early works were about being a child while the later ones are about being a parent.

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Lu: How has having a son influenced your depiction of kids?

Lemire:  I think I have a much better sense of innocence and the sense of wonder through which they see the world.  I think that’s why Sweet Tooth is the way that it is.  It’s about this completely innocent kid slowly discovering the world around him, and I think Descender is much the same.

Lu: Do you think it would be accurate to say that before you had your son, your stories about childhood were influenced by your childhood?

Lemire:  Yeah, I think that’s accurate.  I think Essex County was about me fictionalizing and dramatizing my childhood.  It’s where I grew up. On the other hand, Sweet Tooth and Descender are much more about my fears for my son and me wanting to protect him and his perspective about the world.

Lu: Now, tell us a little more about Roughneck.

Lemire:  It’s a 275 page graphic novel written and drawn for Simon and Schuster for a Spring 2016 release date.  The story focuses on a guy named Derek who is an ex-NHL tough guy whose career ended in disgrace after a violent incident.  Since then, he’s returned to the remote First Nation community where he grew up in northern Canada.  He’s been stuck in this small town and a bad place, drinking too much and fighting too much; not really moving on or finding a new path for his life after hockey left him behind.  Then, his sister, who ran away from town when she was 15, comes back into his life.  Her return triggers the creation of a new path for both of them.  It’s a story of brothers and sisters, healing, and them reconnecting with the land and their Cree heritage.  They find a healing in the old ways of their people.

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Lu: Did you do a lot of research for this project?

Lemire:  Yeah.  I never feel like I’ve done enough because I’m not aboriginal and don’t have any native blood.  So, as a white guy writing about aboriginal people you always feel like a bit of a pretender, but I did as much research as I possibly could.  I spent a lot of time in one of the First Nations here in Ontario, just meeting people and talking, trying to understand the community more and being inspired by it.

Lu: What was it that made you want to tell this story?

Lemire:  A couple of things.  I got really inspired by this Canadian novelist, Joseph Boyden.  He’s done three novels now, and they’re all favorite books of mine.  He writes about a lot of the northern communities in Ontario and I just fell in love with that community through his stories and wanted to learn more about them.  That created a big gap in my understanding of Canada.

Canada is a very big and diverse country, but there wasn’t a large native community where I grew up.  I had no firsthand experiences with aboriginal people and their culture.  I realized how ignorant I and so many other Canadians to the first peoples of Canada, so the project became a way for me to learn more about that culture and hopefully help others connect to that culture as well.

Lu: In American schools, we’re taught quite a bit about the current and historical treatment of Native Americans.  How were and are the aboriginal people of Canada treated?

Lemire:  Horribly.  We basically committed cultural genocide and we don’t even learn about it in school.  You see a headline every once in a while, but we really have no understanding of what really happened to these people and how these communities found themselves where they are today, which is marginalized and isolating.  It’s a third nation living in a first nation, and when I started to learn about that it triggered my need to explore and learn about the positive aspects of First Nation culture.

We so often see the negative stories that focus on the hardships the people face and the end result of years of abuse that we’ve inflicted upon them.  You never see the beautiful and amazing parts of their beliefs and their culture.  They’re a vibrant and resilient people, and these are the things I wanted to communicate to other white Canadians through my work.

Lu: You never learned about the suffering inflicted on aboriginal people in school?

Lemire:  Not really, or at least not nearly as much as I should have been, that’s for sure.  Also, I’ll be fully honest, it’s hard for me to go back in my mind and remember what I was actually taught in school and how much I was paying attention.  Nonetheless, I’m not being hyperbolic when I say there was a cultural genocide.  The church and the government of Canada basically wiped out native culture and took their children, putting them in residential schools where they were forced not to speak their language.  They never saw their parents again, and in many cases they were sexually and psychologically abused by the people running these schools.  This went on for decades until the 80s and 90s, and most Canadians aren’t aware of exactly what we did to them.  I think it’s something we need to be educated about more because it’s a huge part of our culture and country.

As much as I love Canada…you know, to go back to the subject of my early work versus now, Essex County was my perspective on Canada as a naive 20-whatever year old who loved the classic old-age feel of hockey and nostalgic things that we positively associate with Canada.  Roughneck is the 39 year old me who’s now looking at Canada and realizing the country and history is a lot more complicated and shameful than I realized back then.  There’s a pretty stark contrast between my perspectives, and even though I use hockey as a central metaphor both, I use it for two very different reasons.

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Lu: It’s incredible to me that these shameful practices persisted into the 90s.

Lemire:  Yeah, I think the last schools closed in the 90s.  I can’t speak to the history of abuses and when those stopped, but it’s clearly not something that’s way back in our history that we can just forget about.  It’s still very recent and very much being dealt with by modern aboriginal communities.

Lu: Race issues are a huge topic in America nowadays.  Is it often discussed in Canada as well?

Lemire:  Yeah, you know what, as much as I’ve bashed Canada in the last bit of this interview, I think that’s one spot where we’re a lot further ahead than you guys.  It’s easy for me to say sitting in Canada, not being a part of your country, but I do think we’re a bit more progressive in terms of race relations.

I happen to live in Toronto, one of the most multicultural cities in North America, so maybe my perspective is a little different because so many different cultures and races live together here.  It’s so different from what a lot of the US is experiences.  In terms of First Nations and aboriginals, though, we’re shamefully ignoring another huge problem.

Lu: I consider myself blessed to have grown up in a community that was relatively racially diverse.  Was your childhood community the same way?

Lemire:  No, not at all.  I grew up in Essex County, which was a tiny farming community in southwestern Ontario, was 99.9999% white.  There was a lot of ignorance and there still is in these small towns about different cultures and races.  You can’t help but be surrounded by that, growing up there, but I was lucky because both of my parents were very progressive and open minded and accepting of other races when I was young.  That influenced how I grew up.  I moved to Toronto when I was fairly young, so I came of age in an extremely multicultural city.  That, combined with the basis my parents gave me led to me becoming a very liberal-minded person.

Lu:
Was there a transitional shock going from a very homogenous community to a very diverse one?

Lemire:  No, I don’t even remember thinking about it.  I think it was all part of the excitement of being in a big city and being surrounded by all these new people and all these people that wanted to create art.  Being young, it was all just newness and excitement, rather than anything I needed to adjust to.

It’s interesting that, even though you came of age in a metropolitan area, many of your stories take place in the countryside.  What is it about the province that keeps calling you back?

In the case of Essex County, it was a story about where I grew up and how I grew up.  Sweet Tooth was set in a rural post-apocalyptic setting because I was so sick of seeing post-apocalyptic cities in every movie.  That book was also a return to nature through human-animal hybrids and it just felt more appropriate to set things in more bucolic settings.  Roughneck is also about a very specific small town that’s very different from Essex County, being set in one of our First Nations.

lemire001Lu: When do you think we’ll start seeing pages from Roughneck?

Lemire:  I’m not sure.  It’s my first time working with a non-traditionally comic publisher.  Simon and Schuster, being a book publisher by trade, has a different way of operating and promoting the book.  I’m not really sure what their schedule is in term of releasing previews, but I do know they work a lot further ahead than comics publishers which is why the book won’t come out until next year.  So it’ll probably be a while.

Lu: What brought you to Simon and Schuster as opposed to Vertigo, Image, or Top Shelf?

Lemire:  I think it was just something I hadn’t tried yet.  I’ve worked with basically every kind of comics publisher from mainstream DC/Marvel to Top Shelf and the smallest indie publishers.  I wanted to see what would happen if I did a book that was aimed at the traditional book market and built on some of the groundwork I laid with Essex County.  I had a big breakout here in the Canadian literary market with Essex County and I feel like I never followed up on it.  Simon and Schuster has a strong Canadian branch, and given the specific subject nature of Roughneck, I knew I’d need a publisher that understood what I was writing about and could get the message out in an accurate and big way.

Lu: I’m really looking forward to seeing how the book turns out.  One final question: X-Men?

Lemire:  I can’t comment.  All I can say is that I am working on other stuff for Marvel, as Axel Alonso has mentioned before.  The identity of those books will probably start to be revealed at San Diego Comic Con, but I’ll also say that you shouldn’t believe everything you hear on internet rumor sites.


Descender #5 releases on July 8th.  Roughneck comes out in Spring 2016.

2 Comments on Interview: Jeff Lemire on the Past, Present, and Future of his Comics Career, last added: 6/23/2015
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28. HeroesCon Interview: Tula Lotay Talks Thought Bubble, Supreme: Blue Rose, and Future Projects

Tula Lotay colors prints at HeroesCon 2015

Tula Lotay colors prints at HeroesCon 2015

by Harper W. Harris

Certainly one of the busiest artists at HeroesCon 2015 was Tula Lotay, who has burst onto the mainstage of comic artists in the last year, working with Warren Ellis on Supreme: Blue Rose as well as the unique Vertigo title Bodies written by Si Spencer in which each issue shared four different artists. Her art recalls classic illustration, and is visually lush with gorgeous character work and fascinating design. We got a chance to speak with Lotay to hear about her interesting path to being a professional comic artist, her experiences working with Ellis, and a little about what’s coming up for her.

 

Harper W. Harris: I’m here with Tula Lotay, who is working hard to finish up coloring some beautiful prints on the last day of HeroesCon, have you had a good time at the con so far?

Tula Lotay: It’s been amazing! I love the show, it’s just wonderful. Everyone is so friendly and there’s such a nice atmosphere, I’ve just been so unbelievably busy. I haven’t had time to stop and eat for two days. It’s wonderful though, I’m having a great time. I love Charlotte, too, and Sheldon and Rico do such an amazing job. They must work so hard all weekend…I know what it’s like running a festival because I run one in the UK called Thought Bubble, and it’s just so wearing and these guys–this is like four times bigger than ours so I know they must work so hard. So thanks to them!

HH: That’s a perfect transition, I was going to ask you about Thought Bubble! Can you tell us a little bit about what Thought Bubble is about and what’s going on this year–it’s coming up in November, right?

TL: Yeah, we’re a comic art festival so it’s very similar to this. A lot of the comic conventions around do mainly media and film stuff…we don’t do any of that. We’re just like Heroes in that we focus just on artists and writers. The convention runs over two days, but the festival lasts over a week, and in the run up to the convention we have a series of free writer’s workshops, screenings, lots of special events. We try to make a lot of them free as well and educational in relation to comics. On the Friday before the show we always do a big book crossing as well where we give away thousands of graphic novels for free around the area. We try and have as many events as we can for children, too, to kind of inspire the next generation, get them to appreciate comics and have fun with it as well.

HH: You have a really interesting story about how you came into the industry as an artist, moving into that from running the festival.

TL: I’ve worked in comic shops all my life really, and so I got to know so many people in the industry and then after a while I thought it would be wonderful to start a very small event, just get people to come along for small signings and a few panels, like industry stuff to find out how people work, where people can learn, how to get into stuff. From there I got to know so many people in the industry. I had an Instagram account at the time, and I started posting bits of my work, because I’ve always drawn and illustrated. A lot of people that I knew in the industry started to see it and they were like, “Oh, you can draw?” and a lot of them started liking what I was posting. I started getting lots of job offers and people wanted to work with me. I kind of knew Warren as well, I met up with Eric Stephenson and he said, “Warren’s got a new project and I really want you to draw it.” Warren asked me to take a look at the script and see what I thought and it just kind of snowballed from there! It’s all down to a mix of working hard, just practicing with my art all the time, posting it online so people could see it, and then knowing people in the industry and just having them be really kind about what I do and kind of liking it.

HH: I definitely want to talk a bit about Supreme: Blue Rose that you worked on with Warren Ellis–what was the process like working with him, and was it challenging to visually illustrate such a complex story?

TL: It was amazing working with Warren. I get on with him so well and I really love his writing. On the first issue he was giving me lots of pointers and I was running all my pages by him, but as I got to know his writing and he got to know my art a bit more he kind of just sent me scripts and left me to it and I could do whatever I wanted. I really felt there was that trust there from him, that he would allow me to take panels in a different direction if I felt they needed to be or add panels or lose them. With that trust and the freedom that he gave me, it was just such an amazing story to work on because I could really put myself into it and I was servicing these wonderful pointed words that Warren had as well. I love working with him, and I think that’s why we’re choosing to work together again on a creator owned project because we like working together so much.

HH: You have a really unique art style with really beautiful character work and then a lot of times you’ve got these really interesting kind of design elements added on top of it. What are your influences for your art style, and where does that design part of it come from?

TL: When I studied fine art at University I was always really interested in a lot of design work, so I studied some graphic design as well. I’ve always been really into design work by people like Chip Kidd and stuff, Saul Bass–I absolutely love the kind of stuff he did, he was a massive influence. I guess that’s where the design stuff came from. In terms of my illustrative style, I really love the old Saturday Evening Post illustrations, illustrations from the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s. Robert McGinnis, Robert Maguire, Bernie Fuchs all those people are just incredible, like Mitchell Hooks, I’m a big fan of him. You get these scratchy styles, and rather than showing a wardrobe they might just have an angular line to suggest it and then the faces are really detailed. I tend to look at that stuff more than anything else really. But then I’ve always been a massive fan of comic art, so when I was growing up I was reading like Kent Williams, Jon J Muth from Meltdown, Dave McKean. I always tended to go with the more painterly stuff like Jon J Muth and John Bolton, Bill Sienkiewicz’s Elektra: Assassin, so I think a lot of that kind of stuff has influenced me as well. A lot of the European greats as well, like I love Bernet and obviously Mobius. I just really like really good art, so when its done well in any style really it tends to inspire me.

HH: So I love that I’m asking this as I’m watching you color a print–it seems like you color most of your own work, what do you find are the advantages or challenges of doing the whole process yourself like that?

TL: I think that’s the only way I want to work, really. I just came off working on Bodies, the DC/Vertigo title, and they had the same colorist Lee Loughridge throughout the entire story. His work’s absolutely incredible, but for me I find it quite–it’s not natural for me to just do bold line art and have someone else color it because I don’t just do finished line art. I tend to do my line art and then put the color on and work into it again, and put more color on and work into it again, and so on with textures. I feel like I only really feel satisfied with my art at the end when I’ve been about to go through the whole process rather than just doing one aspect of it. I think for the future that’s probably the way I need to work, really. It’s really nice having a great colorist color your work because you get to recognize things about yourself more and, like, Jordie Bellaire has just colored me on Zero, which is amazing seeing her stuff, she’s mind-blowing. So it is nice to have that, but I want to do it all myself really.

HH: So you’re a a bit of a one-man band! So what have you got coming up that you’re really excited about?

TL: Zero is going to be out soon and it’s the last issue so I hope people like that, it was really nice working with Ales Kot on it. I’ve just done an issue of Wicked and the Divine the tower issue which is #13 I think that will be out in August which was just amazing to work on. Kieron Gillen’s a brilliant writer, I loved working with him on that. In two weeks Warren and I are announcing a new project at Image Comics and I’m super, super excited about that. I can’t say anything about it because we’ll be announcing it at the Image Expo, but that’s coming up and I’m just so excited to get started on it, I can’t wait!

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29. FINALLY: Read Dark Horse on ComiXology and Check out this big sale!

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Comics fans have really taken to ComiXology over the past couple of years, but they have been extremely contentious with one comics publisher who has refused to take their wares over to the digital comics storefront: Dark Horse. Now the company has ceremoniously decided to take their acclaimed licenses and series over to the digital platform. The publisher broke the news in a press release sent this morning which CBR wrote up. UNFORTUNATELY, Dark Horse single issues are only accessible via their main application — Dark Horse Digital. This means that the Dark Horse trades and graphic novel collections will be available from ComiXology — a good solution for trade readers — but bad for the digital Wednesday warriors.

Dark Horse even went through the trouble of delivering a countdown clock with a Mike Mignola styled teaser image hinting at the announcement of Dark Horse comics available. Expect Buffy, Mass Effect, Fear Agent, Hellboy and more on the digital store as well as a beautiful assortment of sales of the various titles in the Dark Horse Debut celebration.

“We are very excited to announce that we have reached an agreement which brings the Dark Horse catalog found in the Kindle Store to the comiXology platform,” said ComiXology Publisher and President Mike Richardson in the press release. “For the first time, hundreds of Dark Horse graphic novels will be available to comiXology’s devoted readers. The technology is stellar and we are pleased that our books will be showcased flawlessly.”

So…that’s upwards of 800 comics, start reading now!

6 Comments on FINALLY: Read Dark Horse on ComiXology and Check out this big sale!, last added: 6/25/2015
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30. SDCC ’15: IDW Publishing Announces a Bevy of Exclusives

Today, IDW sent out a press release announcing the San Diego Comic Con 2015 exclusives.  In an interesting move, attendees will actually be able to preorder some of these exclusives from the IDW website for pickup at the con, hopefully reducing the amount of time you spend in their line and thus giving you more time to spend in somebody else’s queue.  #linecon2015

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ARTIST’S EDITIONS

Jack Kirby Kamandi Artist’s Edition Convention Variant
Jack Kirby’s most beloved creation is now an extraordinary Artist’s Edition, collecting six complete issues ofKamandi! There is no better way to view the magic of King Kirby than in the one and only Artist’s Edition. Pick up the debut of the convention variant early while supplies last!
$100, Limited to 100 copies, 2 per person
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: http://bit.ly/1GxgYuC


Mike Zeck’s Classic Marvel Stories Artist’s Edition Convention Variant
Mike Zeck is one of the classic artists of the 1980s, at the forefront of many of the best books and in demand by fans and editors alike. This unique Artist’s Edition showcases some of Zeck’s finest works, including full issues and an array of his finest covers! This convention variant features Captain America and Wolverine squaring off!
$125, Limited to 125 copies, 2 per person
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: http://bit.ly/1Gb5fiN


Frank Miller’s Daredevil Artifact Edition Convention Variant
Frank Miller, multiple Eisner Award-winner, is one of the finest and most influential comics creators of his generation. From Sin City to Dark Knight Returns, to Daredevil: Born Again and Batman: Year One (both of which he wrote and collaborated on with David Mazzucchelli), his contribution to the art form is nearly peerless. But before these incredible works came his groundbreaking turn on Daredevil! This convention exclusive boasts a stunning variant cover by Miller featuring Daredevil and Black Widow.
$100, Limited to 175 copies, 2 per person
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: http://bit.ly/1BBI5WI


Eric Powell’s The Goon: China Town Artist’s Edition Convention Variant
Since debuting in 1999, The Goon has won constant critical praise as well as a large and rabid fan base for creator Eric Powell. This beautiful Artist’s Edition features Powell’s Goon original graphic novel, Chinatown and the Mystery of Mr. Wicker, the opus that earned the writer/artist two Eisner Awards! Variant cover only available at the IDW booth.
$100, Limited to 100 copies, 2 per person
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: http://bit.ly/1dVhHvz


Walter Simonson’s Manhunter & Other Stories Artist’s Edition, Remarqued
Manhunter by Archie Goodwin and Walter Simonson was one of the most acclaimed series of the 1970s, winning numerous awards along the way—not bad for a backup feature that only ran seven episodes! This Artist’s Edition presents the original run of Manhunter, as well as a classic Batman story, Dr. Fate, Metal Men, and Captain Fear tales. This very limited edition variant is signed & remarqued by Walter Simonson and is numbered as one of a limited edition of 50 copies.
$250, Limited to 50 copies, 2 per person
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: http://bit.ly/1BtlFXi


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DISNEY COMICS

Don Rosa’s The Life & Times of Scrooge McDuck Artist’s Edition Convention Variant
Debuting at San Diego Comic-Con, Don Rosa’s Eisner-award winning work on The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck gets the Artist’s Edition treatment with a special convention exclusive cover with Scrooge hitting pay dirt!
$125, Limited to 100 copies, 2 per person
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: http://bit.ly/1kGVMUL


Donald Duck #1 Convention Variant
Donald, Mickey, and Goofy head to a comic convention of their own on this special variant cover by Derek Charm.
$5, Limited to 500 copies, 3 per person

Mickey Mouse #1 Convention Variant
Donald, Mickey, and Goofy’s adventure at a comic convention continues on this special exclusive cover with art by Derek Charm.
$5, Limited to 500 copies, 3 per person

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IDW HIT TITLES

Ghostbusters: Get Real #1 Convention Variant
It’s the ultimate Ghostbusters team-up on this convention exclusive cover to the new series Ghostbusters: Get Real! With art by Dan Schoening, this is one exclusive you’ll want to catch early!
$5, Limited to 500 copies, 3 per person

Godzilla in Hell #1 Convention Variant
James Stokoe returns to Godzilla and drags him straight to Hell! This convention exclusive cover features Stokoe’s hyper-detailed work on a special wraparound cover!
$10, Limited to 200 copies, 3 per person

Jem & The Holograms #1 Convention Variant
SHOWTIME, SYNERGY! Meet Jerrica Benton—a girl with a secret. She and her sister Kimber team with two friends to become… JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS! An all-new cover featuring Pizzaz by Amy Mebbersongraces this convention exclusive!
$5, Limited to 200 copies, 3 per person
A Blank Sketch Cover also available!
$5, Limited to 300 copies, 3 per person



Onyx #1 Convention Variant
A star-born knight for a new generation takes flight here! Get your convention exclusive copy signed by creators Chris Ryall and Gabriel Rodriguez at the booth!
$5, Limited to 300 copies, 3 per person

Star Trek/ Green Lantern #1 Convention Variant
The biggest crossover in the galaxy debuts at Comic-Con! Don’t miss this exclusive convention variant byFreddie E. Williams III featuring the Green Lantern Corps and the Enterprise crew side-by-side!
$5, Limited to 500 copies, 3 per person

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TRANSFORMERS

Transformers #42 Convention Variant
The Combiner Wars are over, but the fallout has just begun! Don’t miss out on this convention exclusive bySara Pitre-Durocher featuring Arcee that connects to More Than Meets the Eye #42 and Windblade #4!
$5, Limited to 300 copies, 3 per person

Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye #42 Convention Variant
The quest for the Knights of Cybertron reaches a new epoch! Chromia and the Lost Light are featured on this convention exclusive edition by Sara Pitre-Durocher that connects to Transformers #42 and Windblade #4!
$5, Limited to 300 copies, 3per person

Transformers: Windblade #4 Convention Variant
Windblade heads into battle on this variant cover by Sara Pitre-Durocher that connects to Transformers #42 and More Than Meets the Eye #42!
$5, Limited to 300 copies, 3 per person

Transformers: Combiner Hunters #1 Convention Variant
Spinning out of the explosive Combiner Wars arc, the Combiner Hunters face off against their first great threat on this convention exclusive cover by Sara Pitre-Durocher!
$10, Limited to 300 copies, 3 per person

Get $5 off when you buy all four issues together! $20 total.

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TURTLES & PONIES

Casey & April #1 Convention Variant
Morning Glories artist Joe Eisma suits up Casey & April on this convention exclusive cover of the debut issue written by Comic-Con special guest Mariko Tamaki!
$5, Limited to 300 copies, 3 per person

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #44 SIGNED Convention Variant
Only available at SDCC, a set of first printings of the issue that had the whole world talking! This issue comes pre-signed by none other than Kevin Eastman!
$40 a set (Cover A & B), Limited to 50 copies, 3 per person
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: http://bit.ly/1I3SEmv


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My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #32 Convention Variant
“Night of the Living Apples,” Part 1! Bad apples have come alive and determined to take over all of Ponyville! Don’t miss the exclusive cover by Tony Fleecs done in the EC Cover tradition!
$5, Limited to 500 copies, 3 per person

My Little Pony: Fiendship is Magic TP Convention Variant
This collection of the entire mini-series boosts a special convention variant featuring a cover with the iconic villains of Equestria by Thom Zahler.
$25, Limited to 100 copies, 3 per person

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HARDCOVER COLLECTIONS

Little Nemo: Return To Slumberland HC Convention Variant
Get your convention exclusive copy of the three time Eisner-nominated, all-ages series featuring a special Black & White variant cover by series artist Gabriel Rodriguez!
$30, Limited to 200 copies, 3 per person
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: http://bit.ly/1BBIrwg


Locke & Key Vol. 1 Master Edition HC Convention Variant
The critically acclaimed series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez takes on new life in a reformatted hardcover collection which features the first two arcs, “Welcome to Lovecraft” and “Headgames,” with a special Black & White variant cover.
$50, Limited to 250 copies, 3 per person
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: http://bit.ly/1fmRC9V


Bacchus Omnibus HC Convention Variant
Only available at the Top Shelf booth #1721, Eddie Campbell’s Bacchus is a true epic, spanning a decade of work, over a thousand pages, and several millennia of alcohol consumption. This convention exclusive hardcover comes signed and numbered by Campbell!
$75, Limited to 250 Copies, 3 per person
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: http://bit.ly/1Ipf4KA


Complete Essex County Hardcover – SHOW DEBUT
Top Shelf is celebrating the award-winning masterpiece that made Jeff Lemire a household name with the convention debut of the Essex County hardcover. This elegant, foil-stamped slipcase edition features an exclusive letterpress bookplate signed & numbered by the author! Don’t miss the chance to get a deluxe version of this intimate study of an eccentric farming community and a tender meditation on family, memory, grief, secrets, reconciliation — and hockey.
$75, Limited to 500 Copies, 3 per person
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: http://bit.ly/1BBIF6S
Also available with a sketch!
$150, Limited to 50 copies, 2 per person
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: http://bit.ly/1Gb5zOB





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A CARD GAME
Making its show debut, the card game based off the acclaimed series CHEW from John Layman and Rob Guillory. Anyone who buys the CHEW card game at SDCC will get a free exclusive bonus pack containing two playable Chog Frappe cards and five variant green Chogs.

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31. HeroesCon Interview: Comic Blitz App Offers Netflix Experience for Comics

Comic Blitz Founder Jordan Plosky on the floor of HeroesCon 2015

Comic Blitz Founder Jordan Plosky on the floor of HeroesCon 2015

by Harper W. Harris

On Saturday, I got the chance to speak with Jordan Plosky, founder of Comic Blitz, a new comic app that operates much like Marvel Unlimited, only not just limited to Marvel. Although the company has only Valiant and Dynamite on board at this stage, they have plans to announce many more publishers’ comics being available via the app soon. Interested comics fans can go to ComicBlitz.com now to join the beta while it’s open. Here’s what Jordan had to say on the floor of HeroesCon.

HH: First I’ll let you take the lead and tell us what Comic Blitz is, how it got started, and what it’s all about.

JP: Sure. The easiest way to describe Comic Blitz is thinking about Netflix for digital comic books. So, as a customer you’d be paying one low monthly fee for access to all the comics we have on our platform. At launch, which is in the very near future, we’re going to have thousands of comics on board, you will literally have unlimited reading, there’s no way you could breeze through everything we have in one month. You’ll have unlimited reading for a very, very long time.

HH: So how does Comic Blitz plan to really differentiate themselves from other digital comics distributors?

JP: It’s great that digital has been the opposite of what everyone thought it was going to be, right? It was going to be the downfall of the industry, but it’s not, it’s been the greatest proponent for print since newsstands. Digital is the new newsstand. So what differentiates us from the other platforms out there today is the value proposition. So for $10 a month, for the price of one graphic novel you not only have access to an entire comic book shop, but you can read everything. You don’t have to choose with your wallet if you want to buy the latest Hawkeye book or read a Hawkeye book from the 70’s or something like that. When you’ve already paid your entrance fee, you have access to whatever we have. So the wallet doesn’t do the choosing; you just get to read and read and read as much as you’d like. You finish one issue? You can just tap a button that says read next issue and go straight from one to the next, you don’t have to go back to a menu, you don’t have to close open, open close, it’s just a seamless transition from issue to issue.

HH: So you guys are really trying to kind of implement binge reading into comics instead of having to de-bag and board or search through a box of single issues.

JP: Yeah, we think so. We’re not saying, “Don’t go out and buy the physical copies, don’t go out and collect.” We’re collectors, we do the same thing. But the convenience for just reading something, we find that digital is the most convenient way to do it. So you can have the issue ready and you don’t have to go dig it out of your longbox or something, risk bending or creasing it, you can read it digitally and know that your copy is tucked away safe in the box that you put it in and you never have to touch it again.

HH: That’s really cool–I hadn’t thought about it as being a supplement to your physical collection.

JP: This is like your new reader’s copy in a way. You get your collectable and then you have your copy you can read on your tablet.

HH: Tell us about what publishers and creators you’ve gotten involved so far and who’s on deck to be added to the app in the future.

JP: Right now as part of the beta test we have a selection of comics from Valiant Comics and Dynamite Comics. That’s kind of all we’re revealing at the moment is those two publishers, but it’s safe to say that we have much more content than the 18 titles we have in the beta test, from both of those, and as I’ve said, we’re going to have thousands of comics from several top ten publisher and several other reputable publishers. There’s going to be a lot of stuff that people might have seen in comic shops but maybe have already spent their weekly or monthly allowance on comics already before they can get to that other issue. You know, “Oh, I heard about that” or “that looks cool, but I already spent my $4 over here,” so people who are very aware of everything else that’s going on in comics that might have passed them by, this is a great way to catch up on all of that.

HH: I’ve heard myself say those exact words, missing something and then never really going back to read it, so I totally get that! So as far as Valiant and Dynamite go, will you guys have their entire back catalog as well as new issues, and how will that work?

JP: So there are different deals in place with every publisher that we have; some publishers we get their content one month after its released in print and other digital formats. Some publishers its three months, some wait until the trade comes out and we’re a month after that, so that way they get to sell their single issues and the trade and make the money their going to make, and then it comes on here and extends the life of that comic even more. Something that people might not realize if they’re not way deep into the comic industry is that there are no residuals, there are no syndication rights the way that movies and TV have. So if a movie comes out in a movie theater, does gangbusters there, then comes to Netflix and VOD, then its on cable and in syndication forever, they constantly make money on that. A lot of creators don’t see that kind of money, if they’re not making a comic every single month, if their trade doesn’t do well, they’re not making the kind of money that other forms of media are making. So something like this, if we are successful it means success for the entire industry because the publishers make the majority of the money that comes into this, and then if the publisher is making more money, they get to put more money into books, pay creators more, get more royalties to creators. It’s win-win for fans, publishers, and creators, for everybody.

HH: So you mentioned you guys are in beta right now. How can people get involved with the beta, and what does that give them access to at this point?

JP: If you go to ComicBlitz.com, there’s a link right there to sign up for the beta test and we’ll send you a link for the beta. It will be closed after a certain amount of people sign up, I’m not sure how many spaces will be left by the time your readers see this, so sign up as soon as possible if you’re interested in doing the beta test. What you’re going to find is sort of a bare bones product, in the tech world it’s called an MVP (minimal viable product) just to see like, these are people that are interested in this, they can give us some feedback as to what they might want to see in a digital comic reader before we start building things that nobody wants and we get their feedback on the the things that we’ve already implemented as well. So you get to read the comics for free, there’s no commitment to buy it after we go live, but obviously we’re hoping you’re going to like it enough to sign up for a subscription and keep reading digital comics with us.

HH: This sounds really cool…I’ve gotten a chance to check out the beta here at HeroesCon and it looks very nice. Do you have an official launch date for the app at this point?

JP: Yes, we’re setting up at Boston Comic Con, so that’s July 31-Aug 2nd, we’re going to have a booth there and that will be our official launch, so about six weeks from now.

HH: I’ll be really excited to see what you have coming up next and to see how the app continues to grow!

JP: We’re excited to unveil it, excited to be able to let people know that we’ll have more than the 18 titles available in the beta. Hopefully people will be surprised and excited for what we have to offer them when we do launch. Thanks!

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32. Interview: Bryan Hill in Conversation with Former Batman Editor Joseph Illidge

By Bryan Hill

I met Joseph Illidge in 2002, before I wrote my first comic book. That year was a lot of me listening to his experience as a writer, filmmaker and comic book editor — and a few arguments about which Frank Miller work was the best, who would you rather have a pint with, Moore or Morrison, and the unbearable importance of Batman.

In 2015, I’m now writing several comics, as is Joseph, and diversity is one of the preeminent issues in the business of entertainment. Joseph, through his weekly column “The Mission” for CBR, stands defiant at the forefront of some difficult, but much needed conversations. Our back and forth tweeting around these issues seemed to urge us to do a formal interview. This is what happened.

Neither one of us held much back.


Bryan Hill: Origin stories matter so what’s yours? What drew you to storytelling? Was it an acute experience or a slow developing process? When were you certain you were going to dedicate your life to it? 

Joseph Illidge: I’ve always been an avid reader, and my mother encouraged it. Between taking me to buy comic books every Friday evening when I was in the second and third grade, to buying me an Encyclopedia Britannica set when I was in the fourth grade, she made sure my young brain was not starving for content.

I was also a nerd way before it was socially acceptable by the mainstream, so fiction, at times, was a more constant companion than peers, especially peers who were cooler than me.

Seeing as how I was more attracted to team books like Uncanny X-Men and Legion of Super-Heroes from the beginning, I think the idea of teamwork and family were themes that attracted me to comic books and stories in general. The idea that great things could be accomplished by enough good people with the same ultimate goal.

The day I started working for Milestone Media, the first Black-owned mainstream comic book company to have a publishing deal with an industry giant like DC Comics, was the day I knew I wanted to tell stories for the rest of my life.

Hill: Someone once told me “Don’t be a black intellectual because they kill those first.” You’re a black man and an intellectual. You survived where many haven’t. How? 

Illidge: In addition to having a great support structure of mentors and friends to enrich my life, I realized the importance of diplomacy and communication with precision. You can throw your opinion around like gasoline and light a match, in which case you’re going for a scorched earth effect, or you can wield your thoughts like a crossbow with a set of arrows. Know your message, aim with focus, pull back the arrow, then let it go. Hopefully, your ideas will connect with the audience.

I want to provoke conversations and debates, but in a fair way that maintains mutual respect between parties. I’ve criticized Marvel Comics in various ways, but I’ve known Axel Alonso, Marvel Comics’ Editor-in-chief, for almost twenty years, and he and I are still as cool as ever.

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My reputation throughout the industry is solid because people know my intentions are genuine, my message is authentic, and my efforts toward a better comic book industry and medium speak to my love for the artform of comic books and art, in general.

So because people know where I’m coming from, I think that transparency has helped me meet and become friends with like-minded people.

When we support each other in common goals, “killing” the intellectual, Black, female, or otherwise, becomes a harder proposition for the opposition, because that intellectual is not alone.

Hill: You work across disciplines. How has working in different disciplines affected your understanding of them and art in general? 

Illidge: Having a background in art from my college years at New York City’s School of Visual Arts helped make me a better editor, because I speak to illustrators in their language and vocabulary of terms.

Being an editor has helped make me a better writer, because the idea that the story is always the first and last thing, the most important thing, gives me a safe distance from my ego. I can be in love with every draft of every script I write, but understanding the editor is my ally and being prepared to jettison ideas helps me get to the better draft in a way that spares me a certain amount of agita.

My writing helps me understand the virtues of various different story forms, so when I write a comic book or graphic novel, I don’t have to strive to imitate cinema because I’m working to exploit the unique aspects of the graphic novel format for telling a story.

Hill: Before I met you, I didn’t know there were editors of color in mainstream comics, or at least that editors of color were working on “white” comics like BATMAN. I was encouraged when I met you. It showed me that we didn’t have to play negro league baseball. We could just play baseball. What’s more important, a person of color initiative like MILESTONE, or people of color getting to play in traditionally “white” sandboxes? 

Illidge: The ownership of intellectual properties and creation of companies by people of color is the more important of the two.

Granted, playing in a well-known mainstream sandbox like Marvel Comics or DC Entertainment helps give creators of color notoriety, good pay rates, and an audience, all of which can and should inform and fortify that creator’s individual, self-owned or co-owned, projects.

However, the future will require more creators of color getting together with businesspersons to create formidable companies. It’s the most direct way to become part of the architecture of innovation, product creation, and the potential rewards for profit and empowerment.

Getting to draw or write Superman is not the summit, it’s the illusion of the summit when someone is in a mental desert starving for a form of nourishment the gatekeepers told them was needed to live and thrive.

Intellectual properties owned by corporations should not be the salvation for a creator of color looking to make a long-lasting impact.

Hill: I have to ask this, and it’s gonna piss some people off. Cassandra Cain was more interesting than Barbara Gordon. Damion Scott’s work was amazing. Cassandra Cain makes much more sense as Batgirl than Barbara Gordon. Did DC just “villain” her and then bury her because she’s brown?

illidgeBatgirlIllidge: I can tell you that for myself and the other members of the Batman editorial group at the time, getting upper management to go for an Asian Batgirl was a struggle.

My guess is that while Cassandra Cain as Batgirl was making a certain amount of money, she was “tolerated”, but once that changed, they didn’t know what to do with her.

Kill off the Asian girl? That wouldn’t look good.

Making her a villain was the next best option.

Unfortunately, Cassandra Cain was a victim of the mentality that fans don’t want change, and that intellectual properties cannot withstand change.

It’s a shame, because when you look at how DC Entertainment has embraced racebending, and Marvel Comics has really pushed a non-White Ms. Marvel, Cassandra Cain as Batgirl was certainly ahead of the curve by almost fifteen years, and DC Entertainment could have owned that prescience.

At this point, “Batman” writer Scott Snyder has made it clear that major developments are in the works for Cassandra, and writer Gail Simone helped keep the character somewhat visible, but really it feels like a corporate backpedal to me, now.

That said, I look forward to seeing what they do with the great character creators Kelley Puckett and Damion Scott brought to life.

Hill: What was the best experience you had being an editor, and why was it so rewarding? 

Illidge: While working as a Batman editor for DC Comics, I received a call out of the blue from Dick Giordano. He called to compliment me on Birds of Prey #16, which had Barbara Gordon, The Oracle, face The Joker for the first time in a “Silence of the Lambs” type story by writer Chuck Dixon, illustrator Butch Guice, colorist Gloria Vasquez, and letterer Albert Deguzman. It’s still one of my favorite comics from my editorial career, and Dick was gentlemanly enough to call and tell me he considered it a great comic book.

The man, God rest his soul, was a great guy and is a legend in the business, so that’s about as good as it gets.

Hill: What was your worst experience as an editor (without naming names) and why does it have that distinction? 

Illidge: Fortunately, I’ve had very few bad experience in my editorial career thus far.

The worst experience would probably be my last day at Milestone. It was bittersweet, because I wrapped up my last book, but I said goodbye to the first company that gave me a chance, to the men that gave me an opportunity.

I lost faith, and honestly, there was a part of me that felt guilty for working at DC Comics afterwards, due to the complicated relationship between them and Milestone in those days.

The good things I did for creators and comics at DC Comics got me past that guilt, and the returns (plural) of Milestone through the years helped teach me to never lose faith in the power of positive action and impact.

Hill: What is something that creators don’t know about editors that they should? 

Illidge: Editors are subject to the trickle-down of corporate manure, and they take more bullets for creators than the public will ever know.

Hill: You explore the role of both race and racism in popular culture. When did you decide you were going to do that exploration and has your perspective changed along that journey? 

Illidge: When Jonah Weiland, the Executive Producer of Comic Book Resources, offered me the opportunity to write and manage “The Color Barrier,” my first series of columns for the site, I knew I had an opportunity and responsibility to explore both, without flinching.

My perspective has changed in the sense that I’m more aware of the progress of parallel struggles for diversity in comics, by women, LGBT persons, disabled persons, and so even though the comic book industry has miles to walk, still, to address diversity in a universal manner, I’m more hopeful every day. Setbacks and slights against people in the aforementioned groups do not affect the inertia of my hope in the slightest.

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Hill: Why do you think comic book companies are very willing to create and promote characters that suffer prejudice because of their diversity, but they seem to not want diverse creators to tell stories about those characters? Is it just fear and if so, of what? 

Illidge: Creating diverse characters is easy, especially when the industry assigns most of their creation to the mostly non-POC writers pool of their companies.

Promoting them is easy because the apparatus for such is already in place, and it makes the publishers look impressively progressive.

It’s apparently more difficult because of a lack of desire to expand beyond the paths of least resistance, expand beyond the more publicized writers. That takes effort, it takes work, and people can always use looming deadlines and heavy workloads as excuses to not investigate outside of familiar territory when it comes to discovering writers of color.

Also, I suspect the publishers are afraid of being seen as caving in to public outcry, because, really, what profitable organization wants to give people the impression that their unfavorable criticisms carry weight?

Additionally, when it comes to Black writers, the general assumption that agenda comes with skill. A Black writer, given an opportunity to write The Punisher won’t automatically turn it into a polemic on violence against young Black people in America.

Interesting that a Black writer has never been given the opportunity to write a monthly X-Men series, considering how the premise of that franchise dovetails with racism.

Hill: I feel the existence of a double-standard in comics, but I can’t define it as more than that. Do you feel that way and if so, what do you think is the nature of that double standard? 

Illidge: Black people are respected as consumers, but not as writers, in general, by the major publishers. Full stop.

Hill: What do you believe is the most underserved market in the world of popular culture, comics and beyond? 

Illidge: Disabled persons.

Hill: In your CBR column, THE MISSION, you often reach the conclusion that attention to diversity is transient, a strategic reaction to social pressure, but rarely does it persist beyond a news cycle. How can that change? 

Illidge: Two ways, at the least.

People from the groups not benefitting from equality can band together in unified efforts. Join up and create companies that create formidable product. Carve out new territories and command some market share. When success is achieved without the aid of popular companies, their attention turns to you. They seek you out.

That’s when the real discussion and negotiations can begin.

In addition, we cannot let up on the gatekeepers. Remain vigilant, give credit where it’s due, and honest examination always. Consistent, intelligent discourse combined with action can chip away at walls of corporate indifference.

When cereal companies make commercials targeted at interracial couples, when DC Comics announced two female-centric lines inside of two months…these things confirm an understanding of our financial power, and our capacity to spend our money on their competitors.

Hill: I know a bit about one of your current projects, a graphic novel about the Harlem Renaissance, but I don’t know much more than that. What is it and what should readers expect?   

Illidge: The graphic novel is called The Ren, a 200-plus page story about a romance between Black teenage artists, one from Georgia and the other from Harlem, during the Harlem Renaissance years. In the midst of a crime war, the couple try to make their way, while doing a little growing up at the same time.  The story was created by myself and co-writer Shawn Martinbrough, the artist on Image Comics’ “Thief of Thieves” series, along with illustrator Grey Williamson.  I consider it a love letter to creative artists of all ages everywhere, who struggle within a world getting more complicated day by day.

The Ren will be published by First Second Books, the house behind critically-acclaimed graphic novels such as This One Summer and American-Born Chinese.

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Hill: Many writers I know have rituals for working, music they choose, a place they like to work? What is your creation ritual? 

Illidge: Put on some comfortable clothes, eat some food, do something active for ten minutes, sit at the chair, choose a Pandora station, and hit the keyboard. Rinse, repeat.

Keep two Google windows open for research and fact-checking.

Stop when my thoughts take on the consistency of molasses.

Hill: Did you have mentors, and if so, can you name some of them and what you learned (and likely continue to learn) from them? 

Illidge: My mentors of past and present are Derek T. Dingle, Dwayne McDuffie, Michael Davis, and Denys Cowan, four of the five founders of Milestone Media, Inc.  Dennis O’Neil, former Batman Group Editor, co-creator of Ra’s Al Ghul, and critically-acclaimed writer of many a Batman story, Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter, The Question, and many other books by DC Comics.  Steven Barnes, novelist, martial artist, and lifestyle guru/advisor.  I have a new mentor, helping me with my global goals.

In general, what I learn from them is professionalism, patience, control of the message, and balance.

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Hill: Do you think that the business synergy between comics and film, while certainly lucrative for both spheres, has negatively affected the quality of comic books? It’s not a loaded question. I honestly am not sure most of the time and I’m curious about what you think. 

Illidge: I think the quality of comic books overall has never been better, and there are certainly more opportunities for comic book creators to receive well-deserved visibility and profit due to the synergy between comic books and Hollywood.

Unfortunately, the synergy has led to greater corporate oversight, which has stifled creativity in various instances. It’s no coincidence that more high-profile creators have more creator-owned projects in monthly publication than ever. That’s the result of ennui and the exhaustion of navigating around story for reasons connected with profit.

Hill: Many people reading this are creators looking to become professional with their work. I’m sure you have a multitude of perspectives to share, but if you don’t mind boiling it down into three things all creators should keep in mind during the transition into professional work, what would those three things be? 

Illidge: Find allies and advisors who will tell you the truth, in order for you to become better at your craft.

Aspire to create work as good as the works you admire, on schedule.

Develop a mental callouses, because criticism is inevitable and you will have to make many changes on the way to good work.

Hill: Miles or Peter? And why? 

Illidge: Peter.

He lost his uncle to a criminal, his first love to a villain, his first wife to a deal with The Devil, faces pain and suffering with humor and hope, and never, ever gives up.


Bryan Hill is a comic author and screenwriter. Currently he is writing POSTAL for Top Cow/Image. He lives and works in Los Angeles. 

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33. 5 Questions for YA Author Joshua Pantalleresco…


Welcome to Part Two of my crossover interview with young adult author Joshua Pantalleresco! If you didn’t get a chance to read Part One of Joshua’s interrogation, er I mean interview, you can find it HERE. I’m still smarting over his infamous ‘unicorn’ trick he did to me on Facebook, but for the sake of my reputation (if I still have any shred left), I’m willing to channel my inner Elsa, and just let it go.

One thing I’ve learned about Joshua (besides his warped sense of humor) is that he’s a pretty damn fine poet! His epic poem The Watcher, makes you see poetry in a whole new way, and hopefully will reach a younger audience. Joshua also writes comics, which is one of the things on my bucket list. Bravo, Joshua! So let’s get these 5 paybackquestions rolling…

Welcome, Joshua! What are you working on right now?

I am working on catching up on a bunch of things.  I just posted an interview with an author.  Some lady that likes time travel. 

Hmm…I wonder who that could be? What are you working on specifically?

I got a list of five things to do this week on the literary scale.  I have a bunch of columns to get ahead on.  I write a wrestling column for Wrestling Glory where I focus on the storytelling involved in the rivalries of wrestling.  I am doing a female rivalry that defined a generation and I'm trying to do two or three more columns before it starts posting again.

I am also transcribing two other interviews.  One of them is ready to go and will be up next week.  The other involves a certain publisher you and I are familiar with.  

I'm putting together a comic script for Twyla April, my collaborator on Paradigm.  She is finally ready for the third issue and I plan to oblige.

Finally, I'm acquiring video software to finally finish a trailer that's long overdue.  It will be awesome.  I think it will change how book trailers are done.

I’m sweating just reading what you’ve got in the pipeline! What influenced you?

I was 8 years old and my parents had just been separated.  My dad took me to Fanshawe park in London Ontario.  There was this hill at the bottom by the stream.  My dad just barreled up it like it was nothing.  I struggled.  My dad said to me, "Come on Josh you can do it!"  I denied it and tumbled down it.  I got up and asked for help.  "You can do it!" My dad said.  I didn't believe it but tried to climb the thing anyway.  I said I couldn't do it the whole time I was on it.  Yet, step by step I got closer to the top, and before I know it, I was there.  "I - I did it!" I said, in disbelief.

My dad is the biggest influence in my life.  He told me I could even when many others told me I couldn't.  And I've never forgotten that lesson with whatever I chose to undertake.  I can do it, and if it wasn't for him, I don't think I would be able to say that.

Your father sounds amazing! What are you most proud of accomplishing?

I am making my dream a reality.  I dreamed of being able to write stuff and making a living doing it.  Bit by bit it is happening.  Beyond that, I'm proud that on this journey I've learned so much.  I didn't just learn how to write, I've shot videos, made movies, have had the chance to work with great people all across life.  I've travelled, worked with my heroes, and have been on this incredible journey.  I may not have the zillions of dollars, but I've become someone I wanted to be.

Wow, Joshua, sounds like you’ve lived a full life and are still rearing to go! What is your favorite thing about the changing face of publishing?

Like you said in your interview, the barriers are down.  I can interact with people I never imagined I would meet.  I am interviewing someone from Germany because of twitter.  I got this super cool card from an artist named Asia Alfasi.  She sent it as a place holder for me sending her a book.  It's still one of the coolest things I've ever seen.  It's opened up the world and has forced me to be more than the shy artist type.

It’s a small world, after all! Cheers for stopping by and going head-to-head with me on my blog, Joshua!

If you love poetry, and want to be swept away into a world of imagery, please give Joshua’s book a read. You won’t be disappointed!

Buy Links:




Connect with Joshua:
@Jpantalleresco (twitter and wattpad)


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34. E3 2015: Wrap Up and the Possibilities of Comics in Video Games

Before we move on to the next big show here at Comics Beat, I wanted to talk a little about the E3 2015 that was and the shape of two industries post show.output_a7TNf0

E3 2015 is done. Now the hard part of waiting for everything we saw to be in our actual hands begins. No wait, Arkham Knight comes out Tuesday. I happen to agree with what popular gaming site Kotaku said about this year’s show. Sure in the moment, you can’t help but feel anything except excitement for the future. Then shortly after the show when I walked down Figueroa and saw the giant Batman banner. It suddenly dawned on me, I’m actually glad it’s over cause I get to play that next week. We knew Halo and Fallout would be coming this year, but every surprise we saw seemed to be for a much later date. In a world of bacon wrapped pizzas, you don’t know if you have that kind of time.

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On Monday, I gave the overall E3 victory to Xbox. Once Tuesday rolled around and we saw longer versions of what Sony showed during their press event; the victory was still the same but the margin by which Microsoft came out victorious was smaller. “We won’t charge you to play the games you already own”, backwards compatibly was the announcement of the show and such a consumer friendly move. It’s a jab directly at Sony that states Microsoft’s intent. It might not be the top feature you look for in a console, but it’s certainly one worth putting in bold on the box. While it remains to roll out, if Xbox can pull off free backwards compatibility it gains them back so much good will they lost early on. For all I love about PlayStation including the Vita and PS Plus, its entire ecosystem is like the newer Terminator movies they just don’t speak to each other very well and that leaves an opening for Xbox.

What happens post show, well Sony has a chance that Microsoft won’t. Because of the punches that PlayStation took this time around, they’ll have another huge PlayStation Experience event like they did in Las Vegas. It’ll be the opportunity for them to regroup and sell fans on Morpheus, perhaps also backtrack on the PS Now. The event’s crowd will undoubtedly be biased in favor of Sony, so much so that even if PlayStation literally admitted charging their customers to stream old games they already own was a mistake, it would still be met with thunderous applause that drowns out media criticism. It’ll also be the point where Sony can either cancel Morpheus or drop a focused presentation that ends with major price news. With multiple VR headsets scheduled to come out in 2016, Sony has to do something to ensure the early adopters will be on their side. Let’s face it, this unproven technology doesn’t leave financial room for gamers to have multiple headsets. Just like Highlander, “there can only be one”… well in our homes anyway.

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That’s the thought of the overall show. Now I want to talk about what we’re all about here… comics! Mostly how they relate to the gaming industry after E3. The volume and direction of how comic books traverse the world of gaming speaks to the state of both mediums. One thing that particularly stuck out to me was how many games are being licensed by comics publishers as opposed to video games licensing comics. Such a gap leaves opportunity for comics publishers to make better inroads with gaming audiences.

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Look at all the books, either recently in stores or coming soon, that are based on video games. Halo: Escalation, Tomb Raider, Plants Vs Zombies, Mirror’s Edge: Exordium, Skylanders, Metal Gear and Persona 4 are just some that come to mind. Most of those titles are the result of deals where Marvel or any comics publisher approach studios with hopes of producing a book or two based on the most popular games. And why wouldn’t they, gaming has the largest captive young audience of any medium. It would almost be foolish not to.

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There’s also a flip side to that coin. Lately, most video game publishers aren’t in a hurry to license comics. Major exceptions are becoming more rare these days. Batman: Arkham Asylum was the first true quality Batman comic game. It came at a critical time when WB needed to capitalize on comics. We got Watchmen a few years after getting the taste of Superman Returns out of our mouths, but WB was on it’s way to producing a bad Green Lantern movie. With some of their major properties coming to an end in film, WB needed comics to be consistently viable in other places. Their game’s division was a perfect catalyst for something big and they had the right studio in Rocksteady. The rest is Arkham history.

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Can you remember a big comic book based game that didn’t come from the in-house parent company? Probably the best, most recent example would be Telltale Games The Walking Dead. Telltale is a studio with a rich licensed game library like Sam & Max and Back to the Future to name a few, but they weren’t on the map of mainstream media. That attention didn’t come till they crafted one of the best Walking Dead stories ever with Lee and Clementine. At this year’s E3 they announced a new project based in the comic book world of Walking Dead which features fan favorite character Michonne. Telltale themselves are a great developer and made fantastic story driven games before Kirkman, but I don’t believe they’d be where they are today without Walking Dead.

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Games carry a similar curse to film. Just because a studio taps a property doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll ever get to play that game. Some time ago there was talk of Aspen Comics’ Fathom being a game but that never happened and even though 2K’s partnership with Top Cow gave us back-to-back games based on The Darkness; the second ended on a cliffhanger that left us wanting a third we’ll never see.

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When you look at things objectively, the video game industry certainly doesn’t need comics. It’s emerged as the dominant form of entertainment and rightfully so. Comics just can’t match that level of volume sales and distribution, but there is room to grow through gaming. It just needs the flow to change. Marvel and DC didn’t accomplish this on the level it intended to with film. Moviegoers who don’t read comics are older and less likely to go from the theater to the comic shop. The immersive nature of gaming is a better primer for this in its younger audience. Sure the Arkham and Injustice books do well because their known properties, but there’s a significant percentage of their buyers that never picked up a comic book until they saw those titles and were easily accessible through digital platform.

Yes, it’s easier said than done but comic creators need to focus less on getting that movie deal and more on who would make a kick-ass game out of my comic. You could argue that only the major books from the big two have a chance at crossing into games, but then how you you explain The Wolf Among Us based on Fables or The Darkness. Both of those games are stellar examples of what could be accomplished with properties that aren’t part of the mainstream.

I know that neither industry is as simple as I just made it seem, and sure there’s tons of legal meetings people must have behind close doors before something can even get off the ground. We just aren’t as in the dark as we think. One of the benefits of the social media age is having access to the people who make your favorite games. Part of why more comics aren’t games is because we don’t tweet out things such as “hey I loved this game, and this comic would be awesome in that style” enough. Most of Image Comics line up would be awesome in gaming. I love what Dark Horse Comics did with The Last of Us, but I think a Hellboy game based on the comics and made by Ninja Theory would be a winner.

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In order to achieve the growth in comics readership we’d all love to see; gamers have to be exposed to Superman (better than before), Saga, and even Archie. Bringing games over to comics isn’t a bad start, but the flows can’t be as lopsided as in recent years. Why is Batman: Arkham Knight the only, based on a comic book, blockbuster game coming out this year. The goal should be at least two or three a year. Comic industry, instead of saying hey let us make a comic based on Mortal Kombat, it’s time to say have you thought about making a game based on our Teen Titans book!

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If you’ve read through this then thanks and you definitely deserve a prize. So let’s giveaway a bunch of E3 stuff first person that follows @Comicsbeat on instagram and tags us in a shot of their favorite comic book game wins this and a few other pieces from E3 and it includes a shirt given away by the folks at Batman: Arkham Knight.

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If you aren’t on instagram, then follow and tweet the same thing at me.

 

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35. Miles Morales finds a New Home in Spider-Man and the 616 Universe

With Miles Morales’ home being disintegrated in the pages of Secret Wars #1, the hero needed a new title and world to call his own. Morales is continuing his career as Spider-Man within a title publishing post-Secret Wars known only as Spider-Man. In the unfamiliar environment of the 616 Marvel Universe (the main continuity for Marvel fans,) the new Spider-Man will continue his adventures. A few old Spidey friends are chronicling the adventures of the young hero including creators of the character Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli. The New York Daily News announced the story and featured brand new promotional art drawn by Pichelli.

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Bendis noted that the series was about “the real Spider-Man,” as CBR pointed out from NY Daily News, along with the cover seen above featuring the lettering of the title along with the aforementioned Pichelli image. “Our message has to be it’s not Spider-Man with an asterisk, it’s the real Spider-Man for kids of color, for adults of color and everybody else,” Bendis is making his mission statement for the title clear.

This leaves the fate of the original Spider-Man up in the air for now. Will Marvel simply have an extra Spider book in the line for Miles, or will Peter finally be allowed to hang up the costume for good? The new book is launching this Fall.

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36. HeroesCon: Deconnick to End Run on Captain Marvel; Milkfed Criminal Masterminds Talk New and Upcoming Issues

Matt Fraction, Kelly Sue Deconnick, Christian Ward, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Chip Zdarsky discuss upcoming comics

Matt Fraction, Kelly Sue Deconnick, Christian Ward, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Chip Zdarsky discuss upcoming comics

by Harper W. Harris

One of the most fun and unique experiences at HeroesCon today was the Milkfed Criminal Masterminds panel, which featured Matt Fraction, Kelly Sue Deconnick, and co. discussing all their various projects while keeping the audience consistently laughing. After speaking briefly on the Charleston shooting and holding a moment of silence, they began by explaining what exactly Milkfed Criminal Masterminds is, essentially a company to house all the comic projects that the dynamic couple work on.

Then came the updates on all the books:

Deconnick will be leaving Captain Marvel after Secret Wars, drawing sighs of disappointment from the many Carol Corps members in the audience. She realized after the movie was announced that she would have to “dig in for three more years or drop the mic,” but that Carol has taught her to “brave the next step.”

The next arc of Pretty Deadly will begin in October, in time for NYCC. It moves forward in time a bit and brings in the energy of WWI and the Harlem Hellfighters. Alice and Jenny will return in this arc.

Issue #15 of Satellite Sam will be out in a few weeks and will conclude the New York arc. New trade omnibus of all 15 issues will debut at Rose City Comic Con. In a year or two, Fraction and Chaykin will return for a second volume which will take place in LA and will focus on a cowboy show.

Robert Wilson IV came by as Deconnick discussed Bitch Planet. The book has fallen behind due to how difficult it was to write issue #4, but they discussed that they would rather have books “done right than right now.”

Casanova is getting back on schedule, and issue #3 will be 32 pages. This story will be far longer than 7 issues.

Christian Ward joined the group to talk about ODY-C, which is moving into a story that mirrors Moby Dick in many ways. Ward mentioned that when he gets the scripts, he “spends an hour on Wikipedia and some really weird Google searches.”

Bill Sienkiewicz took to the stage and after much expression of mutual admiration, Deconnick announced that the the two of them will be working on a book in the near future together. The working title of the book is Parisian White.

Sex Criminals #11 will be out soon. There will be lots of of extra pornographic variant covers in pink polybags by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Katie Cook, the Hernandez Bros. and more! Additionally, there will be 1000 blank covers with sketches by Fraction and Zdarsky, after hundreds had to be destroyed because they used licensed property stickers on them (“What were you thinking?!” –Kelly Sue Deconnick).

In addition to all the updates and behind-the-scenes info, the group gave out lots of swag to audience members that could answer trivia questions. Among the most interesting were the game show style “Who Said It: Ultron, Kanye, or Tallulah” and “Whose Penis am I Describing: Matt or Chip’s”. They are all also excited about working on upcoming TV shows, most of which they could not talk about at this point.

Kelly Sue and Matt (and let’s not forget Chip) know how to work a crowd, and their growing band of creators continues to be something to watch out for. All in all, it was a great way to close out Saturday at HeroesCon, one of the few cons to offer the open weirdness of this kind of panel but with some serious star power!

18 Comments on HeroesCon: Deconnick to End Run on Captain Marvel; Milkfed Criminal Masterminds Talk New and Upcoming Issues, last added: 6/21/2015
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37. E3 2015 Hands On: LEGO MARVEL’S AVENGERS, How Will New York Rebuild? Legos!

 

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When you think of Marvel games you think of… WB? I know it sounds strange but lately the best Marvel games have come from the corporation that owns their competition. Last time developer, TT Games did a game licensed from the “House of Ideas”, Lego Marvel Superheroes was an open free roaming good time full of laughs for everyone. This year they’re bringing block building magic to the MCU in Lego Marvel’s Avengers.

We played a small portion of the game on the E3 show floor, what follows is a bit of what you’ll get when the game releases this Fall. The slice of the game we started in put us right in the middle of the battle of New York from the first Avengers film. This part of the story had us switching between Captain America, Black Widow, and Hawkeye. As usual you’ll rescue civilians, smash things, and build new Lego creations out of the rubble. We battled countless Chitauri aliens using new team up attacks. Captain America is able to bounce Black Widow off his shield and while she’s in the air will obliterate the enemies using her dual guns. Puzzle solving also utilizes this feature as you’ll need to give agile characters a boost to reach high ledges and scaffolds.

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Hawkeye has much of the tactics, Batman used in Lego Batman 3. He’ll be able to shatter glass using a “sonar arrow” and melt gold bricks with a… let’s call it “heat arrow”. Once the Chitauri scout was taken down, our gamed transitioned to the bridge where we were met by Thor. His lightning attacks are more devastating this time around. Our session saw us get to the part where Bruce Banner rides in on a motorcycle and punches out the giant flying alien as he turns into the Hulk. This time around he takes a victory selfie. During this part players will need to work with Iron Man to target the monster’s weak spots. At the end of the demo we built a missile to launch at the invaders just as when Iron Man flew it into the portal at the end of the film.

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One thing we noticed while playing was the voice work in the cinematic seemed to be ripped from the movie. It didn’t feel like it was recorded for the game. No word on if this will be the final product or if voice will be added. Avengers has boasted to players about having iconic Marvel Cinematic Universe locations to visit. With some of those not being in strictly the Avengers movies, it’ll be interesting to see how TT Games handles voice work.

Fans can expect the same free roam world full of MCU easter eggs, Stan Lee saving cameos, and tons of characters from both Avengers films. WB, some Lego Infinity Stones might be nice.

Lego Marvel’s Avengers comes out this Fall for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation4, PlayStation3, PlayStation Vita, WiiTMU, Nintendo 3DSTM, Windows PC. 

Find more on the game’s Facebook.

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38. Thors #1 Thunderstrikes the Best Bits of Secret Wars (Review)

STK6739951Writer: Jason Aaron

Penciler: Chris Sprouse

Inker: Karl Story

Color Artist: Marte Gracia

Letters & Production: Joe Sabino

The Thors of every domain, together in one book! As cosmic cops! Whenever there’s trouble on Battleworld, the Thors answer the call. But a string of mysterious murders leaves some of them asking questions that may unravel all of reality!A hard-hitting Marvel Comics police drama. With hammers. Lots and lots of hammers.

By now it seems like the novelty of having Thors serve as cops of the Marvel Universe would have worn off, but exploring the idea in greater depth through the lens of Battleworld will still entice fans in Marvel’s Thors #1. Author Jason Aaron has always felt right at home with the Thor franchise at Marvel. Under his deft (Watcher) eye, the publisher has executed a lot of changes, including switching out the lead character. After revealing the identity of the female Thor, some may think that there’s no where else for Thor (the main title) to go — yet Aaron is clearly invested in the mythos, picking up stray plot threads that were seeded for years and tying them back into this story. While this tale is another book focused on fleshing out Battleworld further, the story’s contents show a focused narrative that’s full of intrigue and irreverent novelty.

This issue has a premise that isn’t impossible to understand or appreciate — basically team Thor tracks down a serial killer  running loose on Battleworld mercilessly killing people between various domains. It’s great to see one of my favorite domains: Weirdworld actually make a cameo in this issue. Yet, the Thors have yet to dive deeper into other parts of Battleworld. This tale skirts a really fine line in being silly and serious since the idea of having a force of Norse Gods functioning as policeman and woman is at least a little bit absurd. All of these different Thor characters fire off puns at each other that also moves dangerously close to the realm of self-parody (Frog Thor is in the issue after all,) yet a serial killer is still on the loose. The stakes are high in this initial installment — this is not a silly comedic farce of a bunch of Thor’s telling jokes to each other (see Valhalla Mad for that.)

One of the best parts of the new Secret Wars is how the different relationships with the individual characters are sometimes different — but also similar. Secret Wars obfuscates the story, but in most stories the narratives discrepancies usually add a wonderful sense of discovery to the different tales within the comic. The biggest contribution that Aaron really offers up to this comic is all the little moments about the Thors talking about their own duty. Later on, the book a really engaging piece of the Marvel Universe is lined back up with the superhero shared Universe in a fascinating manner. Every moment in this comic has some sort of rich discovery. We finally get a chance to meet the boss of all Thors and get a special look at a certain forensic scientist. There’s even a place for the unworthy. True Thor fans are not going to want to miss the last page of this issue when the world comes crashing down on Ultimate Thor.

Sprouse’ artwork is lovely. The penciller delivers a slight twist on the Marvel house style with a more cartoonish approach to pencilling than someone like a Dave Marquez or even Russell Dauterman. With this being a different incarnation for the life of Thor, it’s nice to see an artist who is different from the usual suspects really able to dazzle fans with extremely roster of characters present in this comic. The inking and colors are vibrant as well, taking advantage of the full potential present within the art of Sprouse. More importantly, this comic book has a really complicated tone, and this story is able to nail both the humor aspects along with the horrible serial murdering turning within every corner. In moments of humor, Sprouse renders just enough of a smile on Ultimate Thor’s face to show that he’s having fun — until the end of the issue.

With Thors not debuting until Secret Wars proper was nearly half over is definitely a bummer, it’s commendable that this series is truly able to captivate fans in the way that it does. So many surprises about Battleworld are left open in this project to discover — kudos to the editors and coordinators at Marvel who are tirelessly moving and shaking the event. Sprouse and Aaron have established one of the strongest narratives hammered into the umbrella of Secret Wars thus far — this issue is a can’t miss for people invested in the Thor mythos or even huge Secret Wars fans.

3 Comments on Thors #1 Thunderstrikes the Best Bits of Secret Wars (Review), last added: 6/22/2015
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39. The Friday Countdown: The Week’s Best Panels & Pages from Comics Released on 6/17/15

Every Friday, Alex counts down the top five panels & sequences in comics released this week.  

Spoilers follow, obviously.


5) Prez #1

Did you know that, if you live in the San Francisco Bay area, this is a real thing?

tacodrone

4) Harley Quinn and Power Girl #1

Chauvinist alien prude had it coming.

fc001 fc002

 

3) Ms. Marvel #16

This is more or less how I imagine a meeting between Abed and Dani Pudi’s character from Captain America; the Winter Soldier.

IMG_20150619_165601

2) God Hates Astronauts #9

Frankly, I have no idea what’s happening here.  I’m fine with that.

godhatesastro

1) Wayward #8

I am…*uncomfortable.*

fc003

 

 

Did I mention I was uncomfortable?


 

What are you favorite moments this week?  Comment below or tweet @waxenwings

 

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40. Rebel Rebel: Babs Tarr Shows off Livewire Re-Design for Batgirl

Bruce Timm's Original Design

Bruce Timm’s Original Design

Livewire, the ass-kicking electro-magnetic supervillain is coming to the DC You next month in Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr’s Batgirl #42.  The character, who was created by Bruce Timm for Superman: The Animated Series, has received the Tarr hip-to-streets redesign treatment.  She tweeted out a set of costume sketches earlier today.

batgirllivewire002

I’m pretty partial to the bottom center design, as I love me some Heathers-style shoulder pads, but I also love the asymmetry of the top center design as well.  Note the lightning bolts on her boots in all the designs, which range in conspicuousness from almost non-existent to beating you over the head with their symbolism.  She has an interesting Cinderella thing going on on the bottom right as well.



It looks like we’ll be getting the bottom left design.  Here’s the cover to issue 42:

batgirllivewire001

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41. First Second’s The Divine to Debut with Art Exhibition

These days, rarely do I look at an illustrator’s portfolio and outright gasp.  It’s not that I’m necessarily jaded– I recognize and appreciate all the great art that comics illustrators put out every week.  However, it takes a lot more than it used to to truly astound me.

Tomer Hanuka’s portfolio astounds me.

On July 17th, San Francisco’s White Walls Gallery will pay tribute to Tomer by presenting ‘The Art of The Divine,’ an exhibition centered around Hanuka’s new graphic novel collaboration with writer Boaz Lavie and his twin brother and fellow illustrator Asaf Hanuka.   The comic will be released by First Second on July 14th and will explore themes of religion and war using a low fantasy premise.  The story focuses on Mark, a military veteran who’s pulled back into the fray when his former comrade Jason comes knocking.  They end up in Quanlom, an obscure South-East Asian country that is being ripped apart by a civil war led by ten year old twins with magic powers and an army of soldiers dressed like gods.

Havoc

 

The exhibition will feature over 30 pieces, including layouts, pencils, concept art, and finalized pages.  Chris Jalufka of Evil Tender will curate the exhibit and hopes that it will elucidate the comic book production process to attendees.

Divine-Pencil1

 

Tomer Hanuka’s use of color is outstanding.  His use of understated pastels mixed with highly saturated colors for emphasis adds an incredibly effecting element to his impressively detailed linework.  His work on The Divine elevates our sense of reality without fully removing us from it, seamlessly mixing the quotidian with the fantastic to create a stark contrast between the world we know and the one that is just beyond our field of vision.

GhostWorriors

 

Show-Infor

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42. Prez #1 Review: Corn Dogs, Taco Drones and Seething Satire

prez1-covWriter:

Mark Russell

Artist:

Ben Caldwell

Inker:

Mark Morales

Colorist:

Jeremy Lawson

Letterer:

Travis Lanham

Meet Beth Ross, the first teenaged President of the United States. In a nation where corporations can run for office, the poor are used as human billboards, and tacos are delivered by drone, our only hope is this nineteen-year-old Twitter sensation. But the real question isn’t whether she’s ready for politics – it’s whether politics is ready for her. Don’t miss the start of this new, 12-issue miniseries!

After the surprise announcement of Prez as part of the New DC You(niverse,) fans had no idea what to expect. The concept even contained a new female lead who seemingly has little to do with Prez Rickard, the original character that first wore the (Prez) mantle (if there was/is a Prez mantle to be worn.) DC chose prose author Mark Russell mostly known for his own satirical views on religion with the book God is Disappointed in You to write the tale. In the new Prez mini-series, Russell is joined by artist Ben Caldwell — a cartoonist containing the alternative sensibilities that really makes the book stand against the current house style at DC.

The concept of the story is a really odd mix of a traditional narrative and wish fulfillment. Thankfully, Russell seems to be aware of exactly how silly this concept about a young girl winning the presidency actually is (especially in a big superhero shared universe.) He depicts the various politicians as individuals who are desperate and looking to quickly fill the hole at the very top of the White House with someone that has a limited number of scantily clad selfies floating around the internet. The series takes place in the future, and shows the degeneration of our culture due to advancements of technology in really striking ways. While we as a society seem to lack a certain amount of empathy as it is, this is the next generation who were plugged into Iphones before they were out of diapers. The world of Prez looks different from our own, but shows a natural and dangerous version of the future.

Ben Caldwell’s art perfectly suits the story at hand. The rounded edges in his linework humanize Beth and illustrate something morose bleak future of Prez #1, turning it into a place that readers should be at least slightly afraid of. Caldwell’s art will miss a detail in a certain panel on a facial expression and at times, his own sparse linework will actually add to the unique style being evoked directly to the page. No matter how serious a panel in Prez, there’s always something unique and interesting about it — whether it be a strange pattern on a curtain in the background, someone feminine equipped with a thin mustache, or little jokes littered within the holograms on the side of panels. This comic serves as a warning to jaded millennials everywhere but does so with style and grace via the deft eye of Caldwell, Mark Morales, and Jeremy Lawson.

So…this book has a pretty bleak outlook on the entirety of society. Instead of littering Beth Ross herself with flaws, Russell turns his eye towards the degeneration of society and points to some pretty striking truths. Can politics and the internet coexist in a peaceful matrimony? Prez doesn’t think so, and presents many reasons why these two things cancel out each other. When Justin Bieber and Obama are guests on the same Youtube show, this comic turns into a biting satire of the internet age. This is all connected to the first title starring Rickard, as the original 70’s title was also a seething take on the corrupt world of politics. Thankfully this incarnation has something different to say while still honoring the spirit of the original series.

Speaking of the original series, fans will be delighted to see the surprise reveal at the end of this issue harkening back to the already established canon of Prez. Unfortunately, this issue is so concerned with tying all the mythology back into the plot that the character of Beth Ross is not fleshed out very well, barely able to interact with the story. This issue is mostly texture, filling in the ultra-detailed world of the future and setting the landscape for those that are invested in the story. For new fans, I would really recommend picking up the first four issues on sale and diving into those before going ahead and starting this story so the last page reveal won’t be lost on you and the texture and tone of the world will be more familiar to you. If not, a quick google search will suffice. Caldwell and Russell may not introduce Beth Ross to her fullest extent as a character, but they have created a really interesting world showing us how staring at our screens has alienated us from the political realm.

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43. Kickstart First Law of Mad Science to Stave Off a Deadly Future

In 2008, Oliver Mertz and Mike Isenberg came up with the idea for First Law of Mad Science, an affecting and strangely portentous story about a man whose innovative retinal implants a la Google Glass end up having major ramifications on the future of the world and the safety of his family.  Seven years later, the co-writers, along with artist Daniel Lapham, have launched a kickstarter to fund the release of the series’ first collected trade.

FLOMS_TRADE_COVER_BY_RYAN_BROWN

A summary from their kickstarter:

Super-scientist George Baker’s newest invention, electronic retinal implants known as “Cyber-Eyes,” are nothing short of amazing.  So amazing, in fact, and so cheap and easy to get, that some 40% of the population has gotten them within their first year on the market. But they aren’t perfect. Far from it. When things start going inexplicably and bizarrely wrong with the original test subjects, George and his family will have to find out why, before the problem spreads and causes worldwide panic. Along the way, they’ll uncover ancient civilizations, corporate conspiracies, sinister cults, other-dimensional creatures, awesome robots, subterranean cities, and Things Man Was Not Meant To Know.

FLOMS_ISSUE_3_PAGE_14

In addition to several interesting backer rewards (including a bombastic night out at the karaoke bars with Isenberg), the Mad Science team has put together a special anthology featuring stories set in the FLOMS universe by industry veterans including Frank Barbiere and Amy Chu:

Science Club Mixtape is an anthology issue set in the cyberpunk meets Lovecraftian horror universe of First Law of Mad Science. Each stand-alone story will build upon that universe and shine a light into some pretty dark corners.

The anthology features stories written and/or illustrated by Shawn Aldridge (GoGetters, Vic Boone), Frank Barbiere (Five Ghosts, Avengers World), Michael S. Bracco (Novo, the Creators), Jason Copland (Pop, Daredevil), Stan Chou (FUBAR, Oxymoron II Anthology), Amy Chu (Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman, Vertigo Quarterly), Anthony Del Col (Kill Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini)Savanna Ganucheau (Toe Tag Riot), Leland Goodman (Basement Dwellers), Mike Isenberg (First Law of Mad Science, FUBAR), Daniel Lapham (Warhammer 40K, First Law of Mad Science),Conor McCreery (Kill Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini), Jeff McComsey(FUBAR, Flutter), Oliver Mertz (First Law of Mad Science, FUBAR), Jamie Noguchi (Yellow Peril, The 47 Bronin), Pete Toms (POP, Sacrifice), and Sean Von Gorman (Toe Tag Riot, Pawn Shop). 

FLOMS_ISSUE_6_COVER_BY_TOBY_CYPRESS

The team is seeking $15,000 to fund the project, with the vast amount going towards printing costs.  The dedication they’ve shown towards this project is admirable, and I think the comics have been incredibly entertaining thus far.  Give it a look and see if you agree.

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44. 12th Doctor and Clara land at the San Diego convention center in a story only available at SDCC

With the San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) less than a month away, news is coming in fast and furious on con-exclusives. Titan is offering a cornucopia of SDCC only merchandise, with triptych covers featuring the 10th, 11th and 12th Doctors, an SDCC exclusive story line featuring the 12th Doctor and Clara battling a mirror-bound alien threat at the con itself, and two 10th Doctor vinyl figures including a 50th anniversary 10 wearing 11’s Fez! Titan will be at booth #5537. From Titan:

DOCTOR WHO: THE TWELFTH DOCTOR SDCC EXCLUSIVE

When the Twelfth Doctor and Clara turn up at San Diego Comic Con, a quick selfie outside the TARDIS reveals an alien threat among the con-goers and cosplayers! The green-skinned Lady of Neverness can only be viewed through mirrors, photos and quantum snapshots, and has turned up in the background of photos all over the convention! But if enough people view her at the same time, she’ll gain the power to breach into our dimension… to feed on the life-force of the whole planet! Can the Doctor and Clara defeat her and save the day?

Find out in this exclusive new short story, only available at San Diego Comic Con 2015! Plus, go behind the scenes of the comic with writers George Mann and Cavan Scott, and artist Rachael Stott – and get an early in-print glimpse of the Doctor Who 2015 Event – Four Doctors! All under two amazing covers from fan-favorite artist Alice X. Zhang!

When writer Cavan Scott talked to us about taking on the Ninth Doctor back in March, he mentioned he would be adding another Doctor to the long list of Time Lord incarnations he’s written for. This issue is what he was hinting at! Scott has previously written for Doctors: 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and now 12! The issue offers a choice of two gorgeous covers from Zhang, who really lovingly captures the Doctors and now a Companion in her oil-paint portraiture style:

COVER A -DOCTOR WHO THE TWELFTH DOCTOR SDCC EXCLUSIVE

COVER B -DOCTOR WHO THE TWELFTH DOCTOR SDCC EXCLUSIVE

Then there’s that nice series of interlocking covers featuring the three Doctors looking very British in front of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and the London Eye. The special covers are unique to SDCC, and contain the latest issues in the ongoing series of the Doctors.

Doctor Who: Tenth Doctor #14, which is the penultimate issue of the ongoing series, finds 10 and Gabby separated by an “ancient force from the centre of the galaxy” according to the release from Titan. Can Gabby hold her own alone? Check out our interview with series writer Nick Abadzis to get your 10th Doctor fix before the issue drops.

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #14 is part one of a two-part season finale, that teams Al Ewing and Rob Williams up on writing duties for what Titan calls “an unmissable mini-epic.” Will companion Alice “find peace — or be marooned far from Earth? Will Jones fulfill his cosmic rock god destiny — or die among the stars? And who will be left to join the Doctor as we head into Year Two?” Check out our interview with Ewing and Williams and see if the spoiler hints they gave us have come to pass yet…

And finally Doctor Who: Twelfth Doctor #11 finds the Doctor and Clara “Fresh from their adventures in Las Vegas” and apparently  the Doctor and “eager for a change of scenery, but their next destination aboard the TARDIS will prove a SHOCKING change of pace!

 Check out the the neat Triptych effect below of the SDCC exclusive covers below:

triptych_

But what would a menu of SDCC con-exclusives from Titan be without adorable vinyl figures? Fear not, you’ve got your pick of tiny Tennant’s:

Doctor Who TITANS 3_ 10th Doctor Fez

Doctor Who TITANS 4.5_ 10th Doctor

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45. Making Comics with Bitstrips

Near the end of the school year, I introduced my students to Bitstrips. "Introduced" means I showed them where to find all the tools, gave them the login code and got out of the way.

After spending a ton of time creating their avatars, they got down to the (funny) business of making comics. You can imagine that with an available background of a bathroom, there were plenty of cartoons that would appeal mostly to a 10 year-old sense of humor. What surprised me the most were the comics that captured a moment in our classroom



or a moment in their lives



or something completely random that shows they were playing with the tools and wound up making something that made some kind of sense!


Every year, I have students who read graphic novels and want to make their own in writing workshop. I've never had success supporting these students because of the limitations of students to draw their own stories, the limitations of the digital tools I had tried in the past, and the lack of an accessible mentor text for beginning graphic novelists.

I think this coming year might be the year of the student-created graphic novel. Instead of renewing the three subscriptions to magazines no students in my classroom have read for the past two years, I am going to pay for a subscription to Bitstrips (digital tool -- √).

And I'm going to share this book (mentor text -- √) with my writers as a graphic novel/comic strip mentor text:


by Chris Giarrusso
Image Comics, 2012

The book starts with a longer story, but the ones I really want to share with/study with my students are the 1-2 page "Comic Bits" and the two-panel "Mean Brother/Idiot Bother" strips. Every budding Kazu Kibuishi has to start somewhere, right?


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46. Interview: Brandon Graham on Humor, Fantasy, and Art in 21st Century Comics

island02

Brandon Graham is a maverick. He is most famous for his work on 2009’s King City, but has worked in comics since the 1990s, getting his start in sequential porn before moving into work for Dark Horse, Oni Press, and Image Comics.    Known for his clever wit, graffiti-inspired illustration style, and fascination with butts, Graham has carved a niche for himself in the industry that he uses as a platform to explore artistic styles and subjects rarely seen in mainstream American comics.  He is currently finishing a run on Rob Liefeld’s Prophet and is about to launch two new Image series.  8House is a fantasy series that features a different creative team in each issue telling short stories that combine to form a cohesive universe.  Island is an anthology series that is being curated by Brandon and is designed to reintroduce audiences to the dying art of the comics Zine.

The Beat recently sat down to talk to Brandon about his influences, his work, and what he hopes to accomplish in the years to come.


 

Alex Lu: King City was one of the first books I read when I was getting into comics.  My favorite thing about it was the inordinate number of puns in the story.  Do you keep a journal full of them?

Brandon Graham: Oh yeah, it’s obscene how many bad puns made it into that book.   I do keep a journal full of jokes and things that make it into the comic, but it’s not necessarily planned.  I used to work very hard at making sure I had enough jokes per page, but it wasn’t the most fun way to work so I toned it down.

I used to have a system for making jokes and making puns.  More recently, I was trying to find different ways to do humor.  I would study Rumiko Takahashi comics, see how she structures her humor, and then try to emulate that.  That influence played into the Multiple Warheads series.  In doing these non-pun based humor, sometimes the puns would just come in naturally, whereas in King City I’d make lists of possible jokes I could make.  I did that a lot, but I didn’t want to keep doing it in everything I did.

Lu: How’s it been working on Prophet, simply being the writer as opposed to playing the role of the artist as well?

Graham: It’s a very different experience.  The humor there is much more subtle, as it’s not meant to be a humorous book.  That makes it faster to write, and it’s been a really good learning process to collaborate with different people and collaborate on a monthly comic.

prophet

Lu: How did you script Prophet?

Graham: A lot of the stuff is just me thumbnailing it– just doing a rough version of the comic, handing them a copy, and letting them do their own versions of the pages.  The back of some of the volumes have those rough thumbnails in them.  Sometimes I’d even do them in full color.

Lu: Did you find your collaborators sticking to your roughs or deviating from them dramatically?

Graham: It depends on the artist.  When I work with my wife, Marian, she doesn’t like me to do layouts.  She just likes me to tell her what happens on the page.  However, a lot of the guys on Prophet preferred that I did the layouts so they could come in and not have to think about a page too much.  They’d just rework it if they had a better idea.

Lu: When Prophet wraps, do you plan on doing more work that’s strictly based in writing, or will you transition back to doing art as well?

Graham: I’m working on doing more illustration.  I’m currently doing a magazine, Island, which is an excuse for me to do a lot more short story work and a lot more drawing without a specific sense of place.  If I want to do a series of illustrations, now that I have Island I don’t have to worry about finding a home for it.  I’m going to be writing five or six issues for the 8House shared fantasy universe each year as well.

8house

Lu: I saw the cover work for 8House.  It’s beautiful.  How long has that series been in production?

Graham: Quite a while.  It’s changed dramatically, but it started as a way to do stuff with some of the Top Cow books.  I was going to be doing Pitt, and another team was going to be doing Witchblade.  That didn’t work out, but it turned into a new version of itself.

Lu: What’s the basic premise of 8House?

Graham: It basically takes a bunch of creative teams, have them set stories in the same world, and then have them riff off one another.  It’ll be interesting to see how teams are influenced by one another, similar to how Marvel and DC have these random books that weren’t originally meant to be part of a shared universe, but have been patched together to form one that people accept.

Prophet was very strict about how the universe worked but 8House  is more open.  Different stories can be told from different perspectives and they’ll almost feel like they’re in different worlds.  It’ll be more like how Fantastic Four and New Gods are in the same universe but feel very different from one another.

island04

Lu: Awesome.  And what’s the premise for Island?

Graham: It’s going to be a monthly title put out by Image, 150 pages per issue.  It’ll be distributed through comic stores.  It’s about an inch larger in width and height from a standard comic.  A lot of the production process involved me thinking about what I wanted to read in an anthology as well as why I didn’t often read anthologies.

A part of it was making sure it felt like a bundle of comics than an anthology.  None of the stories are shorter than 20 pages, and some are up to 50 or 60 pages.  You pay for this $8.00 book and you get 3 or 4 entire comics, so it’s slightly cheaper than just buying individual issues.

It’s also carefully curated, so if you like one or two artists in the issue you’ll like the other two as well.  There’s nothing in there I wouldn’t buy myself, and I’ve been very particular about not playing politics and picking people specifically for their names.   I go after quality work.

Lu: So how do you pick the group that ends up in each issue?

Graham: I’m always digging up artists whose work I am excited about, and there’s a huge amount of work that doesn’t get the exposure it deserves.  A lot of people stick to specific publishers or genres, and that’s true even in places like Image.  I come from a different background from a lot of their creators, so I wanted to bring in creators that I feel more in tune with.

I’m even putting some lesser known older work into Island.  There’s a 1986 six issue comic published by Eclipse called Zooniverse that I fell in love with when I was eleven.  That’s getting reprinted in Island.  There’s also a British small press comic by an artist named Lando called Island 3  that’s only been printed in small press zine format in England that we’ll be printing and bringing to a mass audience.

island05

Lu: It’s pretty unique to have a zine in the modern American comic book industry nowadays, isn’t it?

Graham: Well, you have stuff like Dark Horse Presents… but those stories often feel like they’re intended for different audiences.  I’m not trying to do this specifically, but I am trying out untested people.  There are new creators in Island, but there are also creators like Emma Ríos (Pretty Deadly) who are coming in and doing their own writing.

Most of the work is single creator– written, drawn, and colored by them.  If a writer is in Island, I’ll have them do prose or write an essay.  Kelly Sue DeConnick wrote an article in the first issue about a poet who deeply influences her.  It’s stuff you wouldn’t see in a normal comic book.

Lu: What’s your hope for Island?

Graham: Well, I hope people are just as excited for it as I am.  One of the great things about comics right now is that people that are being given the freedom to do whatever they want at publishers have the opportunity to shape how the industry grows, not only in their work but in the work of people they bring into the industry.  If you have a fanbase and people who trust your work, you can tell them to check out the work of someone you admire and help grow the community in that way.

Lu: What specifically has influenced you?

Graham: I used to be strongly influenced by graffiti, but I also did porn comics and it’s all bleeding into my system and becoming something that’s hopefully new.  I read a lot, and I’ve been trying to read more novels in order to remind myself that there’s a world outside of comics.

island06

Lu: What are you reading right now?

Graham: I’m reading a Charles Stross book called Saturn’s Children, which is about a sex robot that activates after humanity goes extinct.  There’s also Haruki Murakami’s Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World, which is my favorite book ever. I remember reading that and thinking that this is just a better version of everything I’m trying to do.

Lu: How do you feel about having a distinctive style that’s strongly influenced the development about several other artists?

Graham: It’s always really exciting to see that.  I wear my influences on my sleeve so much that I hope it’s a gateway to people tracking down the work of people I’m influenced by like Moebius or Adam Warren.  It’s also a little daunting when you see what you can see what you’ve done in something someone has devoted their life to, but ultimately it’s very exciting.

island07


8House: Arclight #1 releases on June 24th, 2015.  Island #1 hits stands on July 15th, 2015.

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47. Review: Seeing Ghosts and Robots in “Empty Zone” #1



Empty Zone #1By Nick Eskey

 

Writer: Jason Shawn Alexander

Artist: Jason Shawn Alexander

Color: Luis Nct

Letters: Sherard Jackson

Publisher: Image Comics

 

 

Have you heard about the story set in a neo-noir dystopian society somewhere in the not so distant future? Most of you are probably nodding your heads in an emphatic yes.

Adding to that list is Jason Shawn Alexander’s first issue of Empty Zone.

Though the setting isn’t original, the story and the artwork make this comic a fantastic read. Think if the movie Blade Runner, the movie Tank Girl, Vertigo’s Sandman comic, and the anime Ghost in the Shell had a torrid love affair. Empty Zone would be the reason all of them have to submit to a paternity test.

The protagonist’s name is Corrine, a young and sexy woman who moonlights as super soldier for hire. Her easy-on-the-eye looks hints nothing at her enhanced abilities (save for her giant robotic arm of course). Her constantly reoccurring nightmares make her a haunted woman. But in this future where technology is advanced and society is crumbling, bad dreams are not the only things haunting her.Corrine with...?

As the story goes, this first issue does well in introducing us to the characters, but still holding enough back that we are left wanting to learn more about their personalities and motives. The strange scenery and events leaves many questions to be answered, setting up what may be a good run for the series. As I mentioned, the atmosphere may not be original, but the writing makes up for that. The twist introduced at the endCorrine and Robot bounty hunter also sweetens the deal.

Writing aside, the artwork could carry this comic alone. Each panel looks like it should be framed on the wall. A lot of care went into the drawing, inking, and coloring (to which Jason Shawn Alexander wears the three hats of creator, writer, and artist). The facial drawings remind me a little of the rotoscoping used in A Scanner Darkly. Rotoscoping is essentially tracing over a film frame by frame. Everything from body articulation to facial expressions is highly detailed and close to real life. Objects and scenery are equally as well done. Overall, this thing deserves to be appreciated.

Empty Zone is a great addition to comics and collections. The artwork and writing is well done, with the pace taking readers for a fun joyride that doesn’t move too fast or slow. Fans of dark comics, as well as science fiction books and movies will surely enjoy this series. Image Comic’s Empty Zone hits local shelves June 17th.

1 Comments on Review: Seeing Ghosts and Robots in “Empty Zone” #1, last added: 6/17/2015
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48. The Loot Crate Effect Reaches “Cartoonish Levels” on Comics Sales

Note: The distribution numbers used below are estimates, not hard sales numbers.  They’re accurate to the trends, but take the exact unit measurements with a small grain of salt.


 

Recently, Comichron released Diamond distribution numbers for May 2015.  To little astonishment at the feat but some awe at the scale, Marvel’s Secret Wars #1 took the number one slot for the month with 527,678 copies distributed to stores by Diamond, besting the distribution of DC’s April event book, Convergence #1, by nearly 400,000 copies.  Interestingly, however, Boom’s Bravest Warriors: Tales from the Holo John #1 took the number two slot with 502,737 copies distributed, besting series based on established properties including Star Wars #5 (146,850), Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars #1 (131,839), and Secret Wars #2 (210,807).  In a world where even DC struggles to pull outstanding numbers on event books, which are traditionally considered to be defibrillators for comic sales, it’s surprising that a new title from one of the smaller major publishers pulled such a high distribution volume.  How did Boom pull it off?  Well, as Comichron writer John Jackson Miller notes in his analysis, “nearly 500,000 copies” were bought by Loot Crate, the largest nerd potpourri vendor on the internet.

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According to the statistical analysis presented in the article, it is clear that the Loot Crate Effect has begun to not only change, but completely distort the direct market.  Comic sales were up by $5,800,000 compared to May 2014, but $2,500,000 of that was thanks to the mass order Loot Crate placed on Holo John.  That’s nearly half of the distribution growth.  In a superficial analysis, you might think that this doesn’t really matter.  After all, sales are sales, right?  Regardless of who is buying or who ultimately ends up with the comic, greater sales mean healthier publishers.

However, while Loot Crate is definitely helping line publishers’ pockets, they aren’t nearly as helpful as you might expect.

Where we don’t see the distortion is in Diamond’s dollar shares, which only look at the dollars it was paid — and there, Boom is in fifth place. According to Diamond’s dollar rankings, it sold 2.4 copies of Bravest Warriors for every Secret Wars #2 it sold — and yet the distributor made more money on Secret Wars #2. Since Secret Wars #2 and Bravest Warriors cost the same — $4.99 — that would indicate that Loot Crate got a much better deal from Boom at wholesale on its copies than retailers got from Marvel.

What this means is that even though Boom’s market share is rising in terms of quantity, the company’s profit margins aren’t improving enough to match that growth.  Not only that, but there’s no quantifiable proof that readership improves after companies dump large quantities of a single issue into Loot Crate’s hands.  October 2014’s The Walking Dead #132 is one of the best performing single issues of the 21st century with 326,300 copies distributed, over 200,000 of which were purchased by Loot Crate.  Meanwhile, September 2014’s sales of issue 131 are reported to be 69,810 and November 2014’s sales of issue 133 stand at 68,093.  There was actually a net loss of readership following The Walking Dead‘s appearance in the Loot Crate.

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It’s harder to determine the effect that Loot Crate has on the readership of series that have their first issue included in the service.  Rocket Raccoon #1 sold 311,000 copies, over 200,000 of which were bought by Loot Crate.  Issue 2 sold 56,597 copies, which presents a steep drop in readership even if you ignore Loot Crate’s wholesale order on issue 1.  That’s not an atypical performance trend in comics, but it does serve as addition indication that Loot Crate isn’t really helping sales in the long term.

Like event books, it seems like Loot Crate has become another sales defibrillator– a way to improve sales in the short term that doesn’t necessarily help the industry grow in the long run.  On the plus side, selling mass orders to Loot Crate has a much lower production cost than the creation of a new event series, where you have to hire writers, artists, and saddle marketing with a lot of additional work.  With Loot Crate, you just pull the trigger and print more copies of the book you already paid to have made anyways.  Unfortunately, this new method doesn’t seem to pad profits nearly as much as event books do.

4 Comments on The Loot Crate Effect Reaches “Cartoonish Levels” on Comics Sales, last added: 6/18/2015
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49. Prez Visits the Stately Beat Manor Staff Comics Pull for 6/17/15

 

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With the new Prez series launching next week as part of the New DC You(niverse) members of The Beat were attempting to do everything they could to get an exclusive interview with Prez Rickard, the former DC teenage hero and star of the original Prez title. Reaching out to Rickard was difficult, after all, The Beat isn’t particularly savvy with politics outside of the written page. Fortunately, when the new Prez, Beth Ross was alerted of our campaign, she managed to get us in a room with the former Prez of the DC Universe. When we finally cornered him in the back of a crowded room, he alerted us of his various picks for the week, politics and comics go together like vanilla and tofu. Here’s Rickard’s picks for the week:


Prez Rickard’s Picks:

Prez #1

Writer: Mark Russell Artist: Ben Caldwell

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Meet Beth Ross, the first teenaged President of the United States. In a nation where corporations can run for office, the poor are used as human billboards, and tacos are delivered by drone, our only hope is this nineteen-year-old Twitter sensation. But the real question isn’t whether she’s ready for politics – it’s whether politics is ready for her. Don’t miss the start of this new, 12-issue miniseries!

Rickard’s all grown up now, and ready to let someone else take over the role of teenage president (Prez) which is actually why he informed us that he was perfectly cool with the new Prez Beth Ross taking over his position. He’s also eager to read the story-behind-the-story in Prez #1, the start of a twelve issue mini shipping from DC. With political humorist Mark Russell writing the story alongside Wednesday Comics alumni Ben Caldwell on art, Rickard is more than confident in the output of the non-traditional creative team of DC Comics members to deliver something creative on some title.

Thors #1

Writer: Jason Aaron Artist: Chris Sprouse

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The Thors of every domain, together in one book! As cosmic cops! Whenever there’s trouble on Battleworld, the Thors answer the call. But a string of mysterious murders leaves some of them asking questions that may unravel all of reality! A hard-hitting Marvel Comics police drama. With hammers. Lots and lots of hammers.

Thors #1 is set to be a fun title for a number of reasons, although Mr. Rickard really wishes it would have came out closer to the launch of Secret Wars #1. The art of Chris Sprouse is in rare demand these days — and getting him on a title instrumental to the Marvel Universe with one of the series top writers is going to be a small blessing. Rickard also seeks to dig deeper into whatever Battleworld-flavored mystery Aaron and company have cooked up for the upcoming first installment of Thors. Unfortunately, after briefing me on his picks for the week, Rickard was quickly summoned into a meeting with Ross. Still, we were glad to finally have a meeting with one of the most “normal” visitors to the Stately Beat Manor — someone so “normal” that we actually had to go visit them.


 

Matt’s Picks:

Southern Bastards #9

Writer: Jason Aaron Artist: Jason Latour

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NEW STORY ARC The Summer of the Bastards begins with a new arc, as the Runnin’ Rebs are gearing up for the big homecoming game against arch-rival Wetumptka County.

I recommended Weirdworld #1 by Jason Aaron sight unseen last week, so it only stands to reason that I’d spotlight the start of a new arc of a series that has a perfect 8-0 record. The trades for Volumes 1 AND 2 of Southern Bastards are just $9.99, so for less than $25 you can get caught up on a book that Aaron and Jason Latour always score with.


Kyle’s Pick:

Doctor Fate #1

Writer: Paul Levitz  Artist: Sonny Liew

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You thought global warming was bad? Anubis, the Egyptian Lord of Dead, is preparing the flood to wash the world away. Standing in his way? An overwhelmed Brooklyn med student who’s been handed the helmet of Fate, without an instruction manual.

For those who don’t know, I’m probably the world’s biggest Doctor Fate fan, or darn close to it. So, it is with ravenous excitement that I look forward to tearing into Paul Levitz and Sonny Liew’s reinvention of the character this week. Based on previews, it looks like DC is somewhat aiming for a Ms. Marvel-style take, and what I’ve seen so far has been some of the most inspired Levitz scripting I’ve read in some time. The biggest draw for me though, is Liew, who is easily one of the hottest rising talents in cartooning. I’m all in!


Alex Lu’s Picks:

Low #7 (New Arc!)

Writer: Rick Remender  Artist: Greg Tocchini

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The hit aquatic sci-fi series returns, to cast a pale light on the icy spires of the Second City, a frozen dystopia at the bottom of the ocean, where hoping for a better tomorrow is a crime punishable by death.

Low is a criminally underrated series.  Imagine the character work and constant peril of Game of Thrones meeting the thirst for familial vengeance present in Taken, then throw it all in an Atlantean blender.  Remender has crafted an intricate story about a family struggling to survive in the midst of a world going through its death throes.  In the first six issues, he threw the Caine family through the ringer in a way that emotionally affected me in a way that few comics have.  It’s great to see him reunited with Tocchini, who lends a beautifully natural and impressionistic touch to the proceedings.  His jagged linework emphasizes the chaos of the story, and Rafael Alberquerque’s colors are the glue that holds the story together.  Perhaps it’s delirious to be hopeful, but it’s damn hard to not be when you’re faced with a book as good as this one.

Alex and Ada #15 (Series Finale!)

Writer: Jonathan Luna  Artist: Sarah Vaughn

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Alex + Ada reaches its emboldened conclusion this week.  The story of a man whose relationship with an android has dire consequences for their lives and the world around them, Luna and Vaughn have created a genuinely affecting love story that has social implications for our real world.  In a world where our relationship with technology is evolving at an increasingly expedient pace, we have to ask ourselves if there are limits to the roles that it plays in our lives.  If so, what are those limits?


Matthew’s Pick:

Mad Max: Fury Road – Furiosa #1

Writers: Mark Sexton, Nico Lathouris, George Miller  Artist: Tristan Jones

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A prelude miniseries to the motion picture Mad Max: Fury Road tells the story of Furiosa and how she became Immortan Joe’s most trusted Imperator — and the unlikely hero to Joe’s enslaved wives

From the first trailers for Fury Road, it was clear Charlize Theron’s Furiosa was the true protagonist of the film. This Vertigo miniseries tells her pre-film story, and with writer/director George Miller credited as co-writer there’s bound to be some wonderful and strange post-apocalypticia involved.


Edie Nugent’s Pick:

Lumberjanes #15 

Writer: Noelle Stevenson & Shannon Watters  Artist: Brooke A. Allen

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All-ages favorite Lumberjanes follows the continuing adventures of a group of friends just trying to enjoy their summer at scout camp amidst a various and wide-ranging selection of supernatural threats.

Something about the imminent arrival of the summer season makes reading Lumberjanes all the more satisfying. Which is pretty ironic, because currently the ‘janes and their entire scout camp has been plunged into a Narnia-like eternal winter. As the series has gone on, it’s gotten more bizarre and even more satisfying. This new story line gives the campers fresh challenges as they’ve been separated from their watchful counselor Jen. And what of Jen and the mysterious and troubling relationship she’s forming with Abigail? Expressive art continues to bring to life this ongoing coming-of-age tale where supernatural mysteries lurk around every corner.


Heidi’s Picks

 

Fragments of Horror by Junji Ito (Viz)

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A new collection of delightfully macabre tales from a master of horror manga. An old wooden mansion that turns on its inhabitants. A dissection class with a most unusual subject. A funeral where the dead are definitely not laid to rest. Ranging from the terrifying to the comedic, from the erotic to the loathsome, these stories showcase Junji Ito’s long-awaited return to the world of horror.

I’m not a big horror fan, but when its as creepy and inventive as Ito’s work, I’m all in. A new collection from the creator of Gyo and Uzumaki.

The Complete Eightball 1-18 by Mr. Daniel Clowes (Fantagraphics)

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We can laugh at these grotesques if we can laugh at ourselves. I still feel the pain of Tina, the hideously disfigured girl in Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron, who just wants love, like everyone else. Where is Dan Pussey now? Just look around you. $119 simoleons is not cheap but it really is for this masterpiece that set the stage for decades worth of comics experimentation.

 

 

1 Comments on Prez Visits the Stately Beat Manor Staff Comics Pull for 6/17/15, last added: 6/17/2015
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50. Pay What You Want for Brian K. Vaughn’s Webcomic, The Private Eye Vol. 2

Today, digital publisher Panel Syndicate released the second and final volume of writer Brian K. Vaughn’s (SagaY: The Last Man) and artist Marcos Martin’s (The Amazing Spider-ManBatgirl: Year One) webcomic, The Private Eye.  Collecting issues 6-10 of the series, The Private Eye continues to follow the story of Patrick Immelman, a private investigator working in 2076 after every luddite’s worst fear is realized and The Cloud is compromised, leaving many identities exposed, the internet in shambles, and people incredibly guarded over their personal information.

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The series has been released on a pay-what-you-want basis from issue to issue, meaning that you could read the series for free or donate several billion dollars per issue if you felt like Vaughn and Martin deserved personal islands.  Panel Syndicate was founded by Martin in 2013 and when the first issue of The Private Eye was released in March of that year, the company received a great deal of critical acclaim for providing high pedigree content to the public on an egalitarian pricing scale.  At the time, pay-what-you-want was a relatively new idea in mainstream media, but since then studies have shown that PWYW can cause the average price paid for a product to drop or can even shame consumers out of purchasing a product altogether.

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Given The Private Eye‘s unique standing in the comics industry, it would be interesting to see what the sales data looks like for the series.  Vaughn and Martin are currently working on a new project for Panel Syndicate, so even if they aren’t making a profit off of this book, it’s great to see that they believe in the concept and community enough to continue to support their progressive ideals.  Perhaps they deserve those islands after all.

0 Comments on Pay What You Want for Brian K. Vaughn’s Webcomic, The Private Eye Vol. 2 as of 6/18/2015 1:03:00 AM
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