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26. SDCC ’15 Interview: Alex Segura and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa Tell us all About Riverdale TV Series, Dark Circle Comics, and the Future of Archie

By Harper W. Harris

Archie fans certainly had a good time at SDCC this year: not only did the publisher talk about a new series in the Archie Horror line and tease us with the future of the Dark Circle line and the New Riverdale series of titles, but announced that the Riverdale TV series has been picked up by the CW. I had the chance to speak with Alex Segura, SVP of publicity and marketing and editor of the Dark Circle line, as well as Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, CCO and writer of Afterlife with Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina to talk about the slew of exciting news that came from Archie Comics over the course of the weekend.
Harper W. Harris: I wanted to talk with Alex first a bit about Dark Circle Comics. First of all, in general, how do you plan to tell new and exciting superhero stories under the Dark Circle imprint–how do you want them to stand out among all the other superhero books?

Alex Segura: I think the key for us is just to be different and good. I really strongly believe that quality rises to the top. You can put as much dressing on something as you want, but if the story or art isn’t good it doesn’t matter. I talked about this on the Dark Circle panel, but finding voices that maybe are familiar to the tropes of comics, but aren’t beholden to them. They can bring in a different perspective–people like Chuck Wendig, Adam Christopher, and Duane Swierczynski. They know comics but they know other media like TV, novels, and movies. So they come at it from a different perspective. We’re building Dark Circle more as a network. Each book is its own little show, and maybe down the line they’ll interact with each other, but fans don’t have that same kind of company pressure where you have checklists of 20 books you have to get to understand one event. We don’t do events, we do stories.

HH: What can you tell us about the pretty newly announced series, The Web?   

The Web Promo, art by Szymon Kudranski

The Web Promo, art by Szymon Kudranski

AS: The Web is Jane Raymond, she’s a 14 year old Korean American girl who is super into cosplay, and she’s a teenager. She’s one of these characters that once I read that first script, she feels like a teenager. She’s dealt with tragedy, her mother’s just passed away, and she’s stumbling upon being a superhero, which is insane. It really shows you what happens when a teenager gains enhanced abilities and has to face real problems like street gangs, violence, and teenage life. I mean, I can’t imagine being a teenager now–I remember how stressful it was being a teenager maybe 20 years ago. It’s really Dave White, who is the writer, who’s done a great job of trying to be true to the character and also a nod to the history but not weighing it down with continuity.

HH: The other thing that’s really cool about the Dark Circle line is how incredibly diverse it is. You’ve got action spy thriller to more wacky adventure to super dark crime, and horror–what do you think are the advantages of having such a diverse line while still being within the superhero genre overall?

AS: First of all, thank you for saying that. That’s really a testament to this gentleman [points to Aguirre-Sacasa] with the Archie Horror stuff. That really kicked the door down with Afterlife and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. All I have is my taste and my gut, and talking to Jon [Goldwater] and Roberto and Mike [Pellerito], and Jesse Goldwater. If it’s good, does it take up a new space in the line, and we really want to present fans with a variety and a seal of quality. To me, if you see the Dark Circle logo, it’s a company logo: it tells you that this is good. Whereas I think in other places, it just means you have a lot, or it means something else. I want people not to necessarily feel compelled to buy it because they’re completing a collection, but feel compelled to buy it because they want to read it.

HH: So shifting gears here a bit, I definitely have to talk about the Riverdale TV series that was announced as coming to CW yesterday. Roberto, what can you tell us about the tone or look of the show? I know earlier you’ve talked about it having a surreal tone–has that changed now that it’s on the CW?

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: I think when we ended up pitching it, the very high concept pitch was that it was a teen version of Twin Peaks. And by that, it was sort of like how in Twin Peaks the whole story is kicked off by the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer. So imagine you’re telling that story, but instead of following the grown-ups of Twin Peaks, you’re following all of Laura Palmer’s classmates. That kind of story is kind of used to uncover all the secrets–that makes it sound like a really, really dark show, and though there are undercurrents of that and weirdness, it’s still Archie, there’s still a love triangle. Josie and the Pussycats are in it, there’s a lot of music in it. So it’s kind of a mix of light and dark, serious and funnier stuff–kind of like life. Coming of age is on some level is kind of a loss of innocence, so that’s a big theme. It’s kind of a hodge-podge of all that stuff.

Riverdale TV Series, art by Veronica Fish

Riverdale TV Series, art by Veronica Fish

HH: What other kind of TV shows and movies did you take inspiration from when writing the pilot?

RA: We talked a lot about it feeling like a John Hughes movie. Also movies like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Spectacular Now, The Way Way Back; those are movies that are all touchstones in terms of tone. The core will always be the love triangle and the characters, so as long as their essences remain. We’ve also talked about Dawson’s Creek as being an inspiration, which Greg Berlanti, who’s the producer on this, worked on. We talked about Everwood, which is about a family in a small town. So all those different kind of influences just kind of all have been absorbed and trickled down into the show.

HH: I believe it was on the Reddit AMA that you mentioned that you hoped to do a Halloween special every year that is a little bit like Afterlife with Archie–is that still something you’re trying to do?

RA: Yes, absolutely! That’d be great. Every Halloween there’d be a Halloween episode. Kind of like on Roseanne how they did a Halloween episode every year, or Treehouse of Horror.

Afterlife with Archie #10

Afterlife with Archie #10

HH: So let’s talk about Afterlife with Archie a bit. Did you guys always plan on expanding that book to encompass more than just zombies? What other kind of monsters or horror ideas do you see coming up in the future for the book?

RA: You know, I think originally we did think it was just going to be a zombie book, but then as it went on it very quickly started encroaching on other horror genres, and now the sky’s the limit. The one thing we probably won’t do in Afterlife, because we have Sabrina, is witches. Even though Sabrina and her aunts have small parts in Afterlife, that’s the one thing we probably won’t dive into. Otherwise everything else is kind of on the table horror-wise. There’s still a lot characters in the Archie library that we haven’t yet met in Afterlife that we will be meeting.

HH: The storytelling in that book is really phenomenal. What’s the process like scripting and working with Francesco Francavilla?

RA: We talk about every issue in advance and kind of check in to make sure that this is an area that Francesco’s interested in drawing. Then I do full scripts–and they are full scripts. I usually give probably more art direction than Francesco wants, although obviously he’s a genius and if he changes around the layout of a page, then I’ll adjust based on that. It’s pretty traditional in terms of having a full script and Francesco doing his thing, and if something changes, it’s always better.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #5

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #5

HH: Let’s talk about Chilling Adventures of Sabrina for a minute. How did you decide to make that a separate world from Afterlife, and what kind of research went into making that new world that takes place much farther in the past?

RA: You know, I’m not sure exactly what led into that. I know we wanted to do a book that wasn’t super tied to Afterlife, because it felt like if we were doing that story, let’s just put it in Afterlife. And I had wanted to do a period book for a while. So many of the movies and books that are an inspiration for Sabrina like Rosemary’s Baby or The Exorcist or The Omen, they all are all obviously retro now. It felt like this would be a slower burn and be a bit more psychological, so I thought maybe if set it in the ‘60s, maybe people won’t think it’s in the same universe of Afterlife. It’s a little weird that there’s a Sabrina in Afterlife and a different Sabrina who’s in Chilling Adventures.

HH: We’re used to that, we’re in comics, right?

RA: Exactly. Robert Hack, who draws, colors, and inks the book, he loves all the retro stuff. He has a huge library of visual references, much more so than I. I’ll say stuff like, they go to the movies and there are movie posters for movies that would be playing then, and he always fills in that stuff himself. He’s got a really good sense of that.

HH: There was another book announced in the Archie Horror line at the panel yesterday, right?

RA: Who is Vampironica, yes.

HH: What can you tell us about that?

RA: Not much. I can tell you that maybe two years ago maybe Dan Parent did two issues of Betty and Veronica that introduced this concept of Betty the vampire slayer and Vampironica. I was talking to Francesco, and he’s like, “I love vampires, I love pretty girls, I love Veronica.” We just started talking about it, and he got an idea about it. That’s all I can say about it. More news to come!

Who is Vampironica? (art by Francesco Francavilla)

Who is Vampironica? (art by Francesco Francavilla)

HH: So one of the grand traditions of Archie Comics are the wacky crossovers you’ve done in the past–Archie Meets Punisher, Archie Meets Kiss, Archie vs. Predator, and the recently announced Archie vs. Sharknado. Being that you two guys are running these two separate lines of horror and crime or more mature themes, are there any plans to cross those two universes, or cross books within those universes?

AS: You know, we haven’t had the formal discussion, but like Jon Goldwater always says, everything’s on the table if it’s a good idea. We’re getting Dark Circle off the ground, Archie Horror is rolling…so maybe someday.

RA: A lot of people have pitched a lot of crazy crossover ideas, but no one yet has pitched a Dark Circle/Archie Horror crossover.

AS: And we’re doing our first horror book at Dark Circle with The Hangman, so there’s definitely room to play there.

RA: And, not to tease anything, but don’t we have a big crossover…

Archie Meets the Ramones, art by Gisele Lagace

Archie Meets the Ramones, art by Gisele Lagace

AS: Yeah, we’re announcing a big crossover tonight–we’re announcing Archie Meets Ramones. I’ll be cowriting that with Matt Rosenberg, with art by Giselle [Lagace], who’s done stuff like Occupy Riverdale and her own cool comics. She’s a huge Ramones fan.

HH: So is that kind of a follow up to Archie Meets KISS?

AS: You know, Jesse Goldwater said, you’re kind of captaining the Archie music sub-universe, so there will be little nods that the fans that have read both will get. But it’ll be a fun standalone Rock’n’Roll High School kind of thing.

HH: Awesome! Last thing: what do you guys love about working for Archie? There’s so much to love–it’s a comic publisher that’s grown massively in the last couple of years.

RA: I love that risk-taking and being creative is rewarded. I don’t just wear this [points to his Jughead sweater] at Comic Con, I wear this everyday. I love people’s passion for the characters. That’s my favorite thing: when I say, oh, I do this for Archie, their eyes immediately light up because they have so many associations with these characters. To be at a place where I can work with them and take risks with them is just great.

AS: For me, I’ve worked on a bunch of major brands, and Archie is right up there with the likes of them, because everyone knows Archie. You know, you tell someone you work at Archie and their eyes light up because everyone has an Archie story. And my first comic was an Betty and Veronica Double Digest with a great Dan DeCarlo cover of them dancing. I remember the first time I read a Cheryl Blossom story. I love the characters, I think Jon is a great boss in terms of taking risks, being creative, and not being afraid. We’ll always try the new thing if it makes sense, and we’ll just keep rolling, I think it’s great.

3 Comments on SDCC ’15 Interview: Alex Segura and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa Tell us all About Riverdale TV Series, Dark Circle Comics, and the Future of Archie, last added: 7/19/2015
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27. SDCC ’15 Interview: Marguerite Bennett talks DC Comics’ “Bombshells”

DC Comics Bombshells writer Marguerite Bennett

DC Comics Bombshells writer Marguerite Bennett

By Nick Eskey

DC Collectible’s popular Bombshells figures have recently been green lighted for its own comic, written by Margurite Bennett with art by Margurite Sauvage and set in an alternate reality of WWII where Super Heroes exist. Bennett talks about her experience with the book at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con 2015.

How did you get into comics?

Batman the Animated series actually, and I was on a panel today sitting next to “Paul Dini” and my heart was going like crazy the entire time. I came off as a huge flake I’m sure… But Batman the Animated series, I was five years old and saw it in this after school program. And it’s actually sort of funny. With that iconic opening sequence, I wildly misinterpreted what Batman was about. From the gangsters, and the zeppelins, and this wonder rich noir feel, I um… thought Batman was a bad guy. You saw these villains and these gangsters, and what really caught my attention was how dark it is. So often in children’s television, especially things that are presented to girls, are these hyper-saturated, very, very bright, abundantly pink things. So Batman stuck out because how different it was.

So in that opening sequence you see these “bad things, bad things, bad things,” and then you see Batman who is clearly king of the bad things in Gotham. And I assumed he was a bad guy. When I watched the episode, he was fighting these people. So I thought he was this bad guy who felt guilty of being a bad guy and then decided to then turn [them] all in and clean up the city that he was responsible for making this evil and dark. I operated off of that for like a year before I was six. I didn’t know what the murder of the Wayne’s had to do with this… So I really misinterpreted this. But because of this, and creating my own wrong canons from the very beginning, it really started it as something creative. Something I could enjoy watching, but also putting my own mark on even from a very young age.

Newest Bombshell addition: Cheetah

Newest Bombshell addition: Cheetah

How did you get involved with the “Bombshells” project?

Oh gosh. Our wonderful editor, “Jim Chadwick,” approached me last September (that’s how long I had to keep secrets about this). He knew I was a huge fan of the series. I’m very vocal on Twitter about how much I loved it and I collected all manner of things form it, and because of the attention that those August variant covers got, DC was like “There seems to be a lot of enthusiasm for this. What about… we’ve essentially got this whole world waiting to have these stories told, maybe there’s something to this?” And there was that Katniss like, Hunger Games moment where I said “I volunteer!” And as soon as he offered, I was all over it. We’ve hit the ground running, and going ever since.

They’re introducing this as a digital download comic right?

Yes. The digital version, which is in these ten page increments, will be every Saturday of the month. These ten page chapters will feature a different heroine for our first arc. And then for our second arc, their paths start to cross. That starts July 27th I believe. The first print comic is going to be August 12th on Wednesday.

What kind of research did you have to do for a story taken place in WWII?

It’s almost always been a preoccupation of mine even at a young age, and I come from a military family. So it was something that you grew up knowing and learning a lot about. And it’s not precisely World War II. We’re doing an alternate history. But it was something where I was able to incorporate these story telling elements.

Newest Bombshell addition: Killer Frost

Newest Bombshell addition: Killer Frost

Scaling back for a minute, when people try and look at an event that massive, a lot of the times we get caught up in things that are almost too big to tell a story about. Or like when you visit a new country or culture, you’ll go to like the “Great Wall,” or you’ll go to the “Eiffel Tower.” But the thing that you remember coming away from it aren’t these giant vistas. They’re small interactions. They’re small stories. Like the “Eiffel Tower’s” one thing, but the thing that I took away from Paris was that “Spongebob Squarepants” is called “Bob L’eponge.” That sticks with you for some reason, and so it was the smaller stories, the more intimate human stories, that always stayed with me with learning about war as a child. Something that’s so far removed from my generation and my birth, they were always the stories that were too big to hold here in my head. But it was the small stories that were the ones that could stay.

Small stories are what influence the world of Bombshells more than outside events. We’re not trying to tell the battle of the bulge, but we’re trying to tell the stories of human courage and human compassion.

Which one of the Bombshells is your favorite to write for?

Batwoman. Batwoman is my favorite DC hero, period. I think that every DC hero in particular is so iconic. Each one can be boiled down to a single virtue or element. Batman is about justice, or obsession depending on your read. Or Batgirl is about recovery. And I feel like Batwoman is about service.

Where it’s the element of military service, or giving yourself to a larger cause. I think she’s inherently a very selfish person, so it’s something that she struggles with. She had a tendency to really hurt the people that she loves, but she still wants to do this, she still wants to be this thing that can provide for other people, and care for other people. It was so interesting because she comes from a place where she’s flawed. She fails so often, in trying to do this, and trying to be this. And it felt like this really perfect moment of crisis that’s going to define the coming century. Her failings and her strengths are going to be the heart of that story.

What was the most challenging part of writing for Bombshells?

You know, we have so many wonderful heroines. So I do worry about being able to give each of them their do. There are so many people I want to incorporate. The first heroines you’re going to see are the ones that already have their own statues, but there are a lot of ones that I want to hurry and get to. But we do need to do that first and establish them first. Coming from the DC Collectibles needed to be our priority. And so I’m hoping the public will bear with me, because they’ll be times when you’ll see character, and you might not see or hear from them again for a few months… I’m just impatient, and I want all my toys at once, and I want to share them with everyone all at once.

Look out for DC Comics Bombshells releasing on digital starting July 27th, and the physical book releasing August 12th.

1 Comments on SDCC ’15 Interview: Marguerite Bennett talks DC Comics’ “Bombshells”, last added: 7/18/2015
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28. SDCC ’15 Interview: Brenden Fletcher Gets in Depth about Miyazaki, Music, and Continuity in his Books

Black Canary #2 (on sale 7/15)

Black Canary #2 (on sale 7/15)

By Harper W. Harris

The Fletcher-Verse: this is what superfans like to call the little corner of the DC Universe that’s penned (or co-penned) by Brenden Fletcher, including Batgirl, Gotham Academy, and the new Black Canary series. I got a chance to sit down with Brenden to discuss his inspirations, approach, and general disregard for continuity in Gotham Academy and Black Canary.

 

Gotham Academy #8 (on sale now)

Gotham Academy #8 (on sale now)

Harper W. Harris: I’ve heard that Miyazaki is a big influence on what you’re doing with Gotham Academy. What parts or aspects of those movies did you want to bring into Gotham Academy and the tone?

Brenden Fletcher: I wouldn’t say that my love of Miyazaki is something that I’m trying to put on the page of Gotham Academy, or of any of my books. But discovering Miyazaki at a young age and his Studio Ghibli films really transformed my view of what it meant to tell a story, and how to approach character and drama. I think that’s what I’m trying to bring to all of this, I’m just trying to be mindful of his approach. These books are completely different from anything he’s done. So I’m hoping that when people are examining what we’re doing with that in mind, they’re not trying to look for specific elements or anything. I will say this however: I believe that what we have in common more than anything is the fact that we seem to be drawn to tell stories about female protagonists. If you look at most of Miyazaki films…[A saxophone plays in the distance] I’m sorry, that’s “Careless Whisper” on the saxophone being played at San Diego Comic Con. You don’t expect Wham on a Friday morning.

HH: No, it’s a little early for that!

BF: But yeah, I think I haven’t really figured out why it is I’m drawn to telling stories with female protagonists, but this has always been the case. Since I started writing, every story that I’ve felt connected to has had a female protagonist. I don’t do it on purpose, it’s just what interests me.

HH: So switching over to Black Canary for a second, that obviously draws from a very different creative pool than Gotham Academy, one that you have some personal experience with. How does your experience as a rock musician inform the way you write that book and formed that character?

BF: Yeah I’ve been playing music all my life. I’m primarily a singer; I went to school for music, studied voice and classical singing. I ended up doing musical theater for years, and on the side I was always playing in bands. At one point in my life I decided I didn’t like the formal aspect so much, so I wanted to get out of classical. I wasn’t really into the musical theater scene; I liked the jobs, but it wasn’t really me. So I spent more time writing music and playing music, and working on being a better instrumentalist and that turned into some touring and getting involved in the business of music. This was never something that I could make a living out of, I didn’t become a world famous musician, but I experienced enough of the life to inform this new world I’m building for Dinah Lance in the new Black Canary book.

HH: With Gotham Academy you’re co-writing with Becky Cloonan. With co-writing, I’m always curious about the process–what is the process like writing with Becky?

BF: It’s interesting: I think we could talk about it in terms of how Becky and I work, but this is a full team effort and Karl [Kerschl] is in on the story building at every phase of the project. We start usually by going out for a coffee–I’ve got some ideas, Becky’s got some ideas, Karl’s got some ideas. We turn that into a look at where the story should be going, and at that point Becky and I create a breakdown of the issue, what the twenty pages will roughly look like. We give that to Karl, he tells us we’re wrong and we have to back and retool it until he’s happy with it. From there we give it to the editors who sometimes tell us we’re wrong. Eventually we get to scripting, and that’s another stage where Karl will fix things or tell us things are wrong–or sometimes he just doesn’t, and I’m not even kidding you, he’ll just change things on the page, just draw where he thinks it should go, and 100% of the time he’s right. Karl is an extremely gifted storyteller, great writer, an Eisner award winning writer/artist. What we have is this incredible merging of visions–actually I think we share a vision, but we merge our talents and abilities and our individual ideas to become this wonderful thing that’s Gotham Academy.

Gotham Academy #9 (on sale 8/12)

Gotham Academy #9 (on sale 8/12)

HH: It sounds like Gotham Academy is a really collaborative effort, that’s great. So when you’re writing a script for different artists, so for example writing for Annie Wu on Black Canary, how is your scripting style different?

BF: Totally different. The only reason I’m writing full scripts for Gotham Academy is because I’m collaborating with Becky and because the office requires it–they like to see a full script. With Karl, we can pretty much get on the phone and say, yeah, page twenty looks like this, and he’ll deliver it and it’ll be perfect. Annie and I had a talk early on about how she likes to approach things, and she had been working with Matt Fraction on Hawkeye for a while and wanted a script that was closer to what Matt was doing. So this is the first time that I’ve written closer to what is known as the Marvel Style. Annie wants a looser breakdown of what the pages looks like with some script beats in there. She can push and pull those things as she wants, she adds beats, moves beats, but ultimately the core of the story I’m trying to get across, the core of the movement of the characters is all there on the page.

HH: When you first started out with Black Canary, were you able to pick and choose what aspects of her past you wanted to use? Given that it’s not your average superhero story, have you found it challenging to tell the story you want to tell within the confines of continuity?

BF: I have a relatively clean approach to continuity, which is just that I ignore everything that I don’t like. I will never contradict it to the best of my ability, but if something feels off to me I’ll try my best to avoid it. I am playing into a lot of the New 52 continuity for Dinah Lance, but using it for very specific reasons which you’ll see over this first arc. I’m trying to bring it all together and make it make sense in a way that makes Dinah feel like the iconic version of the character that we know and love.

HH: She’s a welcome member to the ever-growing Fletcher-verse!

 

Black Canary #1 and Gotham Academy #8 are on shelves now, with new issues coming in the next few weeks!

0 Comments on SDCC ’15 Interview: Brenden Fletcher Gets in Depth about Miyazaki, Music, and Continuity in his Books as of 7/17/2015 2:22:00 PM
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29. SDCC ’15 Interview: Mariko Tamaki talks about “This One Summer”

Mariko Tamaki

Mariko Tamaki

By Nick Eskey

Mariko Tamaki is a Canadian born artist of mixed Japanese and Jewish descent. In school she studied literature and writing, later on publishing the book “Cover Me,” as well as graphic novels “Skim” and “Emiko Superstar.”  Her recent work is another graphic novel entitled “This One Summer.” Jillian Tamaki, Mariko’s cousin, did the illustrations for both this novel and for “Skim.”

“This One Summer” gives a glimpse into the life of two young girls as they spend one summer at a cottage by the beach. We get to see them learn and experience new things, as well as see the contrast between lives of adults and kids. During this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, I got to sit down and talk about this book with writer Mariko Tamaki. Unfortunately, Jillian could not attend.

The First Second booth at San Diego Comic-Con 2015

The First Second booth at San Diego Comic-Con 2015

How long have you been doing comics?

The first comic I did was with Jillian. It was a mini-comic called “Skim.” I believe it was the early summer of 2008 I did the first mini-comic for a literary magazine in Canada called “Kiss Machine.” So… this woman, Emily Pulari, commissioned these mini-comics from women who never really had a lot of experience with comics. So we did a mini-comic through that. It’s kind of like a “test case.” Kind of like a low pressure to try something out. So we did the mini-comic of “Skim,” and that got purchased by “Groundwood Books.” And that was our first graphic novel together. That was my first work in comics.

ThisOneSummer2Did you ever think you’d get into comics?

I had no aspirations to work in comics. But I always really liked working on collaborations. I’ve actually done a lot of theatre, and I’ve done a lot of performance art, which for me was like a more accessible version of theatre. So I’ve done a lot of actors work, and a lot of work in sort of feminist collectives and stuff. I was really into the idea of working with another artist than I was in comics per say. But I would say now that I’ve done comics, I think that they’re just an incredible medium for telling stories. The way that stories get told in my experience in comics is that it opens opportunities to tell [them] in so many different angles.

What were some of your ideas for writing this story?

I grew up in Northern Ontario, Canada. And every summer, you went to the cottage. So it was this like solid, integral part of my childhood… When it comes to comics, especially with this one, I thought of the atmosphere. I felt the background would be a good setting for a story. And I’m also kind of obsessed with transitional moments. So for me, the idea of being these young girls, and having this chunk of their lives, and analyzing that part, and all the sort of changes that would happen, even if [those changes] were all going to be during this one summer of their lives… it was something I wanted to show.

Would you say this mirrors any of your life?

Well I use to go to the cottage, but I didn’t have any of those challenges. I used some things as a beginning point, and created something fictional from that. Obviously I was a young girl at the cottage, and I had the fat young friend there too, but the characters are not really that connected to my life. The experiences that they have are not my experiences, aside from the fact that I also did go to Saint Joseph in Huron, which is the park that they go to in the book. Actually, Jillian and I as part of our research (that’s what we call it, “research”), went to Saint Joseph in Huron, went to the cottage, and spent a week in Nova Scotia which is I think one of the best places to write a book.

I think the dialogue is very down to Earth, and very easy to relate to. Is there anything that was hard for you to talk about?

During the initial draft, it was sort of a struggle to write the character of the mother because it’s hard to write somebody who’s not talking about what’s bothering them. And I think that’s so much of what Jillian brought to that character in terms of the details. Even the t-shirts that the mom wears have all these details that kind of build up that character. And we sort of went back and re-edited [her] a lot, because who wants to read about this upset mom who’s just having a bad day? I think that’s like the archetype of the “pissed-off-mom” from like ancient times on. And we wanted to see the layers of that experience. That was a really challenging thing to write, and it ended up being one of the more intriguing stuff. For whatever reason, the writing for Wendy and Rose was for me kind of easy. Their banter was just fun and easy, and it’s hard to write for someone that’s just not pleasant… it’s hard to lovingly write that.

ThisOneSummer1

The kids seemed to be able to live in the moment, where the older characters were concerned with other things. How was it to show that dynamic of the two?

My archetype for stuff like that has always been the “Roseanne” show. It’s about the kids, and it’s about the adults. And the problems of the kids are not entirely linked to the adults, but their completely meshed. It’s like you have these people in this microcosm and their like push-pull on each other, where they’re struggling with the same struggles. So for me, I think it’s that kind of step forward from “Skim” to this book. That challenge of really creating a story that’s not just about the kids in this little bubble; to see these layered connections between the kids in the town, these kids in their respective homes, and all other different relationships. To me some of the most interesting scenes are the ones were something of the adults reverberate to the kids; their parents get into a fight, and that trickles down from the parents and then to the kid. And I think that sort of chain reaction is a super interesting one… It’s great to see someone on an adventure, fighting for their family or what have you, but at the same time most of our reality as teenagers is connected to our parents.

It really is interesting seeing these kids’ “bubbles” being formed and shaped by their parents.

It’s like a book about trying to be an adult, just as much for the adults as it is for the kids. These parents are trying to be adults, they’re trying to do the right thing. These teenagers are trying to be adults. And it’s all these varying groups of people that have this notion of what it means to be a grownup, and that depressing challenge of it being out of your reach.

Have you found yourself open to other avenues because of your exposure to graphic novels?

I ended up doing this short film called “Happy Sixteenth Birthday Kevin,” which is a movie about a sixteen year old Goth boy, but the cast is like me and my 30 year old friends. So I did that, because comics showed me how much I love dialogue, and I try to incorporate that as much as I can in the work that I’m doing.

“This One Summer” is available now. You can buy it online, or at your local book store.

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30. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Brandon Graham

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It was a rare “event week” for me at the comics shop with the much anticipated release of the new comics anthology Island! Brandon Graham, the creator, editor, and cover artist for Island is our subject this week. Graham’s work is inspired by classic European and Japanese(manga)comics. He started off drawing comics for Antarctic Press & Radio Comix, some being pornographic(see Milk! #7, etc.).

Graham would go on to work with the infamous Meathaus collective and to creating his own independent titles: Multiple Warheads and King City. I was fortunate to meet the super-friendly Mr. Graham back in 2012 during his Multiple Warheads: Alphabet Tour and he was kind enough to contribute to my convention sketchbook!

Brandon Graham is part of a new age of Image Comics, which has overtaken the “Big 2″(Marvel/DC) in the original content department. Recently, Graham, along with artist Simon Roy, “re-imagined” Image Comics co-founder Rob Liefeld’s Prophet to much critical acclaim.

Island #1 is an over-sized comic magazine published by Image Comics and features work by Brandon Graham, Marian Churchland, Emma Rios, Kelly Sue DeConnick, and Ludroe. You can check out a preview here. The series will be released on a monthly basis.

You can see the latest news & art updates for Brandon Graham here.

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

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31. J.H. Williams III Shows off Sandman: Overture Finale Art

After an interminably long time (two years, to be precise), Neil Gaiman‘s and J.H. Williams III‘s Sandman: Overture is finally coming to an end.  Issue #6, currently scheduled for release on September 30th, will wrap up the prequel mini-series.  Over the past few days, Williams III has been tweeting out some panel artwork from the book:

overture overture2 overture3 overture4

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32. SDCC ’15 Interview: Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, and Chad Hardin talk Power Girl and Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn #17

Harley Quinn #17

By Harper W. Harris

Down in the bustle of the DC booth, I got a chance to talk with Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Chad Hardin, the team behind the ever popular Harley Quinn series, as well as newer books Harley Quinn and Power Girl and Starfire.

 

Harper W. Harris: When you wrote issue #12 of Harley Quinn, did you always plan on expanding that story into its own series or story?

Amanda Conner: Jimmy did.

Harley Quinn and Power Girl #2, out 7/22

Harley Quinn and Power Girl #2, out 7/22

Jimmy Palmiotti: Yeah, when we writing it, I said, it would be great if we could just make it a couple weeks later when they came out of the ring, and if this team up does okay, maybe they’ll let us tell that story. And it did do okay–it did better than okay! So when we pitched it to Dan [Didio], we said, well, we’d like to take what happened during those two weeks, how Power Girl got in a wedding dress, why these three eyed cats, and make it into six issues. He said, “If you can figure out all that, then go for it.” So we did. And we had Stephane Roux that wanted to draw it–we got lucky getting Stephane, so it all came together. It was sort of not a plan, but I left the door open in case something happened.

HH: What has it been like to return to Power Girl, a character that you had such a big impact on several years ago?

AC: We actually love Power Girl so much, and we miss working on that character, so we just said lets put Power Girl and Harley together, why not!

HH: They’re a good pairing so far! So speaking of Harley Quinn, the character has obviously gotten immensely popular in the last year or so. Has that level of fan involvement or popularity changed the way you view the character or the way you aim to tell her story?

AC: Not really–I mean we always loved the character. We wanted to make her the truest Harley that we knew how. I think it’s just resonated with a lot of people, because they feel like it’s very Harley-ish. I think that might be one of the reasons people love it so much, she feels like Harley. She’s wacky, she’s crazy, a little homicidal, but lovable.

JP: We like to say it’s because of Chad’s artwork too that’s sucking everybody into the book. I mean we got lucky–again a lot of things were just timing. The timing was right for the book, the tone that we thought may or may not work actually worked. It’s always a hit or miss when you’re going to change things up a little bit. We got lucky this time, I could tell you about the 40 other times we didn’t get lucky, but that would take up a whole other interview. We’re happy this worked out!

HH: Yeah, I think a big part of its success is the fresh, funny approach to a superhero story. What is your process in writing it as a comedy? Is there a lot of throwing out ideas, sketching them out, then seeing visually a way to make the situation funnier or add a new joke?

JP: We don’t really write it so much as a comedy as this is the story, and then we find the funny, absurd moments in it. All superhero comic books could easily be done like this with everything they do, everything from the capes to how ridiculous it is, if they can do all this, then why aren’t they doing that situations. So with Harley we actually try to lay out the story very grounded, like a regular comic format, this is what’s happening. As a matter of fact, as absurd as it is sometimes, she’s actually more based in the real world than some other characters because she goes through the motions: she’s on the street, she goes from this place to that place–there’s no jump to scenery, she has to get somewhere. We have whole scenes with car services and cabs–

Chad Hardin: Or she’s at work, or eating.

JP: She’s trying to do three jobs…it’s actually really grounded. But in that, it’s sort of like our own lives, right? There are these absurd moments that we see every day and we giggle and then we forget about. With Harley we have these absurd moments and we take it to a hyper sense of reality. And then we hand it over to Chad.

CH: Whenever they hand me the script, it’s like, how can I make this…more. You know, take the football across the goal line so to speak.

AC: And you always do!

JP: We like to think of it, whether it’s perceived that way or not, as a very grounded in reality story. We could be completely wrong and be just getting by on what we think, but that’s how we see it.

AC: You can have a very grounded story, but when Harley gets involved, everything just goes upside-down.

CH: She’s the touch of chaos that spins the universe into this chaotic motion, and that’s where the absurdity comes in.

From Harley Quinn #12, which led to the Harley Quinn and Power Girl mini-series

From Harley Quinn #12, which led to the Harley Quinn and Power Girl mini-series

JP: I also think it’s why people like the book. It’s one of the few books–we know the procedure of a superhero book is that it’s going to have the fight and then the cliffhanger–with Harley, you actually have no idea what’s going to happen on the next page. We throw random things–like all the sudden there are 800 birds on her–like we just go randomly in places and it should be that way, because that’s how her brain acts, so it shouldn’t be so linear in that way. It seems to work and we’re always happy when we get Chad’s pages back and we’re all laughing at things that we didn’t even write that are in the background. We’re like, that’s a really good working team when everybody’s putting their best into it. And with Alex Sinclair on colors, it’s one of the most fun books I’ve ever worked on.

HH: You guys definitely have an awesome team going, a great collaboration. Chad, how is the process different drawing for writers that are very talented artists in their own right?

CH: I don’t know how to explain this so much, but it is different in that it’s the most challenging book I’ve ever been on, but I don’t know why. It just is. But I think it’s because I don’t dare dial anything in.

AC: We know where he lives.

CH: Everything’s got to be perfect, perfect, perfect. We’re crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s. But I think the fans really respond to that.

JP: I harass him once in a while.

CH: If Jimmy doesn’t like something, I can tell immediately. He’ll give me like a one word note, like “cool” or “awesome”–if I don’t get that, I’m like, okay, something’s wrong.

JP: Like, “Staten Island has more trees.” He drew a scene, and he doesn’t know Staten Island, it has more trees.

AC: There is no island off the coast.

CH: Oops! I actually did go to New York, I walked around Coney Island and took a million pictures. But off the coast, I have no idea. Across the Brooklyn Bridge, I have no idea.

JP: We’re dealing with a real city, there are 4 million people in Brooklyn that might have something to say if we completely turn everything away.

HH: You can’t really fake that geography.

JP: Yeah. Even with the scatapult on the roof, Amanda kind of figures out where it is using Google Maps, where it would go over buildings.

CH: We have a map of the building, the floors. I know which way it faces, we’re pretty anal about it.

AC: Oh, we’re so anal about it–I downloaded all these apps so I can know what degrees it needs to be pointed at to hit any J Train that might be going over the Williamsburg Bridge–Oh no that’s the L Train, nevermind!

Starfire #3, out 8/12

Starfire #3, out 8/12

HH: I wanted to talk about Starfire–how did you get attracted to that character?

AC: They asked us to write it. [Laughs]

JP: They ask, how do you feel about Starfire, I’m not sure how I feel about Starfire. Amanda definitely has more history with her.

AC: I read all the Wolfman Perez Teen Titans, so I liked the character a lot. And I’ve seen her go through a lot different incarnations.

JP: They sent us the New 52 trades, and we read those, and I was like, okay, that’s that, but we also like the cartoon a lot. We laugh our asses off at the cartoon. There’s got to be a way we can make this work for us, in order for us to have interest in writing it. Dan said, alright, then pitch how you would want to do it and we’ll see if it works with what we’re thinking. We pitched the book you have. We said it’s a new town and she doesn’t want to be a superhero so much, like a new start. And they went for it. I think they had confidence with us doing Harley that maybe we could handle that. I don’t think we would’ve been offered it if we weren’t doing Harley. I don’t think it would’ve been a book they would have come to us with, so we hard to earn that book.

 

Harley Quinn #17, Starfire #2, and Harley Quinn and Power Girl #1 are all in stores now, with new issues coming soon!

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33. SDCC’15: Invite Goon creator Eric Powell to your 4th of July parties!

On the SDCC floor we caught up with creator of The Goon, Eric Powell, to talk about what could be the end for one of comic’s biggest cult icons as he wraps up The Goon: Once Upon a Hard Time. Read his thoughts about the challenges facing the modern creator owned era, an update from Hollywood, and some advice for throwing 4th of July parties.

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Comics Beat: First I had a friend of mine, I told him I’d be talking to you. He grabs me on the shoulder and says “You gotta ask Eric if he’s ever lit a car on fire!” is there a story to that?

Eric Powell: Yes [laughs] and the answer is yes. No for a long time I lived in a town called Lebanon Tennessee, which is about half an hour outside of Nashville. I had about seven acres, so we lived out in the middle of nowhere and I used to have pretty epic Fourth of July parties every year. It escalated from, you know, just having a bond fire to an entire like living room suite that we set on fire. [We] sat on the couches and took photos with the entire living room on fire. [Laughs] And one year, this was the topper. I’m not endorsing this… this is not a good idea; it’s actually a very dumb idea. We filled an old wrecked 1972 Nova with about $600 worth of fireworks and about three gallons of gas.

 CB: Wow!

EP: We had on a giant amp system… crap I’m drawing a blank. Oh, it was Jimmy Hendrix’s “National Anthem” blasting.

 CB: [laughs] That sounds like the right way to celebrate America.

EP: It was an epic 4th of July party. It was so good and so over the top that I was just like… I don’t think I should have parties any more because this one will never be topped.

 CB: Once you hit the top right.

EP: It was the pinnacle and once you hit the pinnacle, you know.

 Comics Beat: That brings me to my next question about hitting the pinnacle with Once Upon A Hard Time. We’re approaching the end of this run; are you still certain this is going to be the last story with “The Goon”?

Eric Powell: I don’t want to give too much away but if you want to consider everything I’ve done [with the character] as one story; this is definitely wrapping up what I started in the first issue of The Goon back in 1999. Now,  Dark Horse is putting out these Library editions. What’s great about it is we’ll be able to take this entire arc and have these nice hardcover collections that give you the entire story in one batch [including all the previous hard to find stuff]. But I’m not giving up on that universe that I’ve established. Like I said, I don’t want to give too much away but I will be doing some stuff that is directly connected to what I’ve established there. I’ve got a new project that hasn’t been announced yet, but will shortly, that deals with this universe.

The Goon - Once Upon a Hard Time 1

The Goon: Once Upon a Hard Time #2

 CB: That sounds awesome especially with so much to this universe readers might not pick up on. You’re not giving up the whole universe but will we still see The Goon?

EB: We’ll have to see. Read the last issue of Once Upon a Hard Time [laughs]

 CB: That’s just wrong man! [laughs]

Issue four’s had a bit of a delay; has that been because of you going back and having difficulty finding the right note to go out on?

EB: A little bit of that. There was definitely a lot of back and fourth on the script and I’m putting a little bit extra into the art. Also my schedule just got really crazy with Big Man Plans and some cover work; then it was convention season so it got a little behind. Really I just wanted this issue because it is wrapping everything up… I just wanted to do the best I can on it.

Big Man Plans #3  from Image Comics

Big Man Plans #3 from Image Comics

 Comics Beat: Very few have ever created something and even fewer with the longevity of The Goon, I completely understand. So, what’s your take on the wave of modern creator owned work?

Eric Powell: I’m really excited and happy to see so many people doing great creator owned books and to see it finally breaking out. Where you can have a book with no movie or TV tie-in selling 20 or 30 thousand copies and competing with stuff Marvel and DC is doing.

CB: It’s been a great thing for comics overall.

EP: It has, it’s helped the industry.

CB: More now than ever with stuff by independent creators there seems to be a flavor for everyone.

EP: Exactly, and I’ve caught a lot of flack talking about the need for it.

CB: [laughs] you’ve caught flack for a lot of different things.

EP: Yeah, but I’ve cost my self some work from it because I was so vocal, but I felt like I should stick to my guns and speak up. I grew up a Marvel kid. I read Marvel Comics, I love that stuff. I love the Hulk. Seeing that scene in Avengers where he picks up Loki and smashes him on the floor; I was giddy. But do I think that stuff should be given special treatment on the stands or the thing shops are solely ordering? We should be like television and we should be like film and we should have something out there everyone can like [for different audiences] to build a broader readership. Over the last five years or so it’s been exploding. We’ve got a huge female readership that’s opening up. It’s great. We need diversity, we need diversification, and the content to survive and grow.

 Comics Beat: True. With the recent partnership Dark Horse has announced. If that relationship were able to push The Goon into full feature (further than its been) would you come back and do another story to go along with it?

Eric Powell: Well we’re still working on our animated film. Tim Miller who’s the director of the Deadpool movie, his company Blur Studio, along with Jeff Fowler has been trying to get this thing off the ground. We’re still trying to get a studio behind it while finishing edits on the animatic we funded through Kickstarter. They’re putting together a package with Fincher again and going out and doing the hard sell. We’re still pushing it and trying to get this thing done.

CB: Well we hope to see it sooner than later considering you won’t tell me if I’ll ever get another Goon story. Thank you Eric Powell for talking with us; and every brutal, hilarious, and captivating moment since ’99. 

Once Upon a Hard Time #4

Once Upon a Hard Time #4

Ladies and gentlemen, Eric Powell has been on a hell of a run with The Goon and we can’t wait to see how he brings it to a close. It’s not too late to jump into the world of The Goon. Once Upon a Hard Time #4 comes out August. His other current project, Big Man Plans, published by Image Comics is also in stores now. Pick them all up and invite him to your 4th of July party at your own risk. 

 

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34. SDCC ’15 Interview: Tom King and Tim Seeley Chat About Grayson

Grayson #9 (on sale now)

Grayson #9 (on sale now)

By Harper W. Harris

Among the DC books that sparked a sort of revolution for the publisher in terms of new kinds of stories is Grayson, the espionage comic by Tom King, Tim Seeley, and Mikel Janin. In a nice and surprisingly quiet corner of the convention, I was able to sit down and have a chat with King and Seeley about the former Robin that they have brought to such exciting new heights.
Harper W. Harris: Grayson kind of paved the way for a lot of the genre books…

[Tim and Tom do a fist bump]

HH: Yeah! And it kind helped start a cool revolution for DC in terms of what kind of books they were putting out. What do you feel are the challenges or advantages of telling a more genre story within a superhero universe?

Tim Seeley: Inherently superheroes are always really flexible and always have been. You’re sort of making a hero that’s bigger than an idea, bigger than one person, and you can put it into so many different things. Obviously Batman is sort of more of a  detective story, Superman is more of a science fiction story, but they all are superhero stories. So I think our approach to this was, let’s do an espionage style genre story, but let’s firmly embrace its superhero roots. You kind of get that wonderful fusion that makes superheroes the most popular genre on earth at this point, they’re so flexible and available to embrace new things while still being stories that are aspirational and colorful and fun and crazy.

Tom King: The approach was never for us to just write in the spy genre, it was let’s write the best Dick Grayson story we can. Like, growing up I didn’t realize I was reading different genres.  I didn’t realize when I was reading [Walt] Simonson’s Thor that I was reading a huge fantasy epic. It still felt like a superhero story to me.

TS: Yeah, sure.

TK: Or like I didn’t read the noir detective stuff of [Batman] Year One, like I didn’t get that he was using all those tricks. I think we’re taking the spy genre and using that to tell the best superhero stories. We’re stealing some tropes to inject some energy. We’re superhero writers, we want to write frickin’ awesome superhero stories. Am I allowed to say that? I’m saying it.

HH: I think you’re entitled to that! One of the other cool things about the book getting started is that we know Grant Morrison always gives us tons of great characters and ideas with his books, and most of those never get used again. How did you decide to follow up on some of those threads from Batman, Inc.?

Grayson #10 (on sale 7/22)

Grayson #10 (on sale 7/22)

TK: My main approach to that was to throw away my part of the pitch and take Tim’s.

TS: [Laughs] That’s exactly how I’ve always thought of Grant’s stuff, he blows in with a bunch of crazy ideas and then just drops the mic and walks out, and a lot of people don’t pick up on that stuff because it’s too weird or so Grant Morrison. I feel like I’ve been reading his stuff for so long and recognize how great these ideas are, and it’s frustrating that nobody picks them up, so I was going to rectify that wrong. I’m going to use this amazing thing he left behind called Spyral, it has to be used because it’s so weird and so fun. When DC said make Dick a spy, I couldn’t think of anything for my first pitch, and Chris Burnham sat in my studio and he was drawing the Batman, Inc. stuff and he had left a Spyral symbol on the table and I was like, “That’s it! I’ll use Spyral.”

TK: I’ve never heard that story! That’s an exclusive story, I’ve been on every interview with him and I’ve never heard that before.

TS: Chris designed that symbol. It helps to be around comics dudes all the time so you can steal their ideas. It seemed so appropriate for the character, because Dick is such a black and white guy, there’s good and bad and he’s always going to do the right thing, but he’s going to work for somebody that’s completely gray. Therein lay the conflict of our issues.

HH: Seems like Kathy Kane showed up at the end of issue eight…do you have plans to further her story?

TK: In this series, nothing is what it seems. We keep saying this and we’re going to keep saying it: our goal is 100% to surprise you. We never want you to be relaxed and to be like, okay I know where this is going, I’m going to sit down and read another villain of the month–I don’t like those kinds of comics. I want the stakes to be high, I want you to be blown away by what you’re reading. So I can’t spoil what’s going to happen, but it’s not what you think is going to happen.

TS: Keep in mind that Spyral’s whole thing is spreading disinformation and mind control, and sometimes we may be playing the Spyral game on the readers. That’s how we keep ourselves entertained: by being the villains that we portray in the comic book.

TK: You need to put lipstick on then.

TS: It looks very nice. [Laughs]

HH: When you first started out, did you always plan to move Helena to where she is now? Was that a longform plan?

TS: I think one of our ideas was to always change it up, that their relationship is always changing: she’s his partner, she’s his boss, he’s her boss, they’re romantically involved, they’re not. What makes it fun is as a reader you’re constantly second guessing what the plan is, you know? That was definitely part of the deal.

TK: We’d introduced this character, The Tiger, Agent One, as sort of the best spy in the DCU. He’s this Afghani, the Tiger king of Kandahar, he’s such a frickin’ great character. As soon as I put him on the page I wanted him to be Dick’s partner, I loved the chemistry between them and I loved where they could go together and I wanted to elevate him. The idea of having them as partners and Helena above him is just too appealing. As soon as I said it, I was like, “Alright.”

TS: It changes up Dick’s relationships with the other characters too, because Helena was a very understanding but firm partner, Tiger’s just always telling him he’s an idiot. Their relationship changes, and it keeps allowing us to keep making a book about all kinds of different things.

HH: So there have been some hints here and there that Dick Grayson might be bisexual, is that something that you guys plan on expanding?

Grayson Bow Tie

“Am I Straight?”

TK: Who said that?

TS: No, I mean…

TK: He was talking about his bow tie.

TS: He was talking about his bow tie, for sure. I mean for us there’s some fun in the sexy aspect of the spy genre, but I think to us the character is a very flexible guy. I don’t know if its our job in this particular story to do anything that changes his sexuality, but I think it’s fun to play around with it because part of his job is to be the seducer. It also involves playing parts that are not necessarily who he is, and part of it is him sometimes discovering things about himself as he plays parts. It’s just another of our ways of keeping you guessing, that’s the fun, right? And he was talking about his tie! I don’t know what you guys are talking about.

HH: You guys have a unique collaboration in how you co-write, alternating scripts. What do you think makes your partnership and method a good one for this book?

TK: I come from this school of superhero comics where I sort of worship Frank Miller and Alan Moore, if you read my other stuff like Omega Men you’ll see that. I want to tell dark dirges and philosophical stories, and that is not who Dick Grayson is. There is a Dick Grayson story out there, that it’s always tempting to be like, he was raised by Batman and he hates it, and Batman sort of abused him and put him in this situation and he’s sad and thinks about it while he looks into his belly button. I would probably write that story–I wrote a whole novel for Simon & Schuster that was about that concept. Tim’s here to say, “Tom, no, this is fun and exciting and amazing, let’s do a supercool adventure comic!”

TS: I mean yeah, I’m the lighter of the two as far as our approach to superheroes goes. But what Tom brings is his interesting perspective in that he’s been in the field and he’s done that sort of thing and knows the emotional weight of it. And I think the way the book works is that you feel this sort of back and forth that is kind of like what Dick’s life is probably like, where it could be very complex and dark, and you get an issue like #3 that’s very much a Tom story with Agent Eight, but we can also do an issue like #4 that’s somewhat lighter and sort of about the youthful aspect of Dick Grayson. I think when Tom and I first started talking about this book, we would just have this long conversation about what it means to be Dick and what his place in the DCU is. In the end we batted around a lot of stuff and some of it was the same and some of it wasn’t, but when we got down to it we totally agreed on what he is. So what kind of book he’s in can change, but who he is I think we agree 100%. I think that’s why we get a book that people respond to; I wouldn’t have wrote the book the way it is without Tom, and Tom wouldn’t have wrote the book the way it is without me. And neither of us could’ve written it the way it is without Mikel Janin or Jeromy Cox. It’s all about that collaboration, and that’s why the book is what it is. It’s a lot of voices melding into one solid voice.

Grayson, Vol. 1: Agents of Spyral (on sale now)

Grayson, Vol. 1: Agents of Spyral (on sale now)

HH: What real or fictional spies are your inspirations for Dick Grayson?

TS: Go ahead, real life spy.

TK: My buddy Fred, my buddy Jane…

TS: All the sudden the sniper light is on your head…

TK: Can I give like the stupid avoiding answer? Dick Grayson of Spyral, that character, he doesn’t need another character to be laid over him. He’s got 75 years of history, he’s older than James Bond. James Bond was inspired by him!

TS: Suck it Ian Fleming!

TK: I’m not trying to write a book that’s James Bond in the DCU, I’m trying to write a book that is Dick Grayson in the DCU.

TS: I think that’s the answer, yeah. The job of the book is to play with the tropes that you’re familiar with in the spy genre, to play with the kind of story that you’re used to, but to do it differently and to add this character who is the heart of the story. Dick, being who he is, and his history–that’s really the core of the book. We know as people who have seen a lot of movies and read a lot of books and read a lot of comics what a spy story is and what those characters are, but to us it’s about playing against them or playing with the tropes. It’s about Dick Grayson, first. That was a good answer Tom, that wasn’t a cheesy answer that was a good answer!

TK: The trade just came out, it’s the hardcover, and we’re so proud of it. It’s the first volume and it has my Future’s End issue in it, which was the weird backwards one which I can’t believe how proud I am of that issue. Please check it out!

 

Grayson #9 is on shelves now, with #10 coming out on 7/22, and the hardcover first volume is also out as well!

1 Comments on SDCC ’15 Interview: Tom King and Tim Seeley Chat About Grayson, last added: 7/17/2015
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35. Review: Book of Death #1: Knocking on Death’s Door

BOD_001_COVER-C_CRAINWriter:

Robert Venditti

Pencils:

Doug Braithwaite

Robert Gill

Colors:

David Baron

Brian Reber

Letters:

Dave Lanphear

The blockbuster Valiant event of 2015 starts here as New York Times best-selling writer Robert Venditti (X-O MANOWAR) joins superstar-in-the-making Robert Gill (ARMOR HUNTERS: HARBINGER) and visionary artist Doug Braithwaite (ARMOR HUNTERS) to begin a thousand-year journey into the future of the Valiant Universe…and rain, fire, blood and war on the heroes of today.

*This review contains spoilers for The Valiant, but not Book of Death #1*

This week, Valiant decided to open the Book of Death, the publisher’s upcoming event series featuring various established characters in a shared Universe. To really get a grasp on the Book of Death is to understand Valiant’s last event mini-series known as The Valiant, where Bloodshot, a man-turned-robot attempted to save the being known as the Geomancer (Earth savior) from The Eternal Enemy. Just in case you were wondering, The Eternal Enemy is a really bad dude and The Eternal Warrior is the person tasked with protecting the Geomancer from harm. Unfortunately, the latest Geomancer, Kay McHenry fell to the clutches of The Eternal Enemy when the monster took the shape of Mr. Flay — one of McHenry’s greatest fears. Since then, Tama, the next Geomancer was introduced in the climax of The Valiant as the young heroine contained a special item: the Book of the Geomancer. The book can see into the future of the Valiant world, but only Tama can read it. The Eternal Warrior has gone rogue with Tama and the Book of the Geomancer — abandoning his friends on the Valiant superteam Unity. Drama ensues.

This first installment of the comic does an admirable job of trying to suck new readers into the mythology of Valiant, but it’s hard for new readers to absorb everything needed to read the story based off of one issue. The first issue of The Valiant did a much better job easing in those readers, giving fans a surface level understanding of each character going into the event series. In Book of Death, each character has a small black box perched next to their first appearance as well as a character bio on the opening cover of the comic — the tactic is great for the uninitiated briefing them on what’s next for the Valiant world. This issue starts out slow, but fans don’t get a great read on the individual characters populating the event within this issue. Character relationships and dynamics aren’t going to seem clear until diving deeper in the Universe.

As per our interview with Valiant creator Robert Venditti, there is a lot of really complicated character work happening behind-the-scenes of the story. Relationships are directly being paid off within the course of the this issue get even more layers of intrigue. Without the added color represented within the lineage of X-O Manowar and Unity, readers likely aren’t going to find the nuanced character trait offered within this upcoming series. Much of this comic contains information that has been already released other places. The solicitation holds much of the plot threads in this issue — it’s really hard to piece together exactly where this story is headed going forward. It’s also incredibly hard to judge the revelation on the last page of the issue without understanding the full scope of where this crossover is headed. It’s this uncertain path that leads fans to question what the Valiant Universe that could be like following this story. The issue almost reads like a chess match in some respects, where pieces are moving around the board are being strategically placed.

In the flash forward sequence from the Book of the Geomancer, the title really shined. Seeing Doug Braithwaite’s artwork in the sequence was spellbinding. Also, the assortment of characters teased was a really interesting mix that should excite newer fans of the franchise from newer titles like Ninjak. The horror twist bookends that segment with a really striking sequence where Robert Gill starts to excel in conveying an emotion. Author Robert Venditti seems to have a good handle on writing prose for Braithwaite with a more regal sensibility to his work in these moments. Gill is an interesting choice for the event series, the way that the illustrator depicts the story is visually striking and noticeably horrific. The very first splash page is wonderfully evoked in the black-and-white teasers from the preview pages. Also, the reveal sequence shrouded in shadows was another really strong moment for the art team. The two pencillers on the comic don’t detract from the title either, making the juxtaposition a moment that helps differentiate the story from the multiple writers. A very specific kind of art is needed to depict some of the horror elements of the comic.

When the end of a story makes me curious enough to purchase the next, the tale is doing something right. While this isn’t a first issue chock full of massive revelations, it does pose interesting mysteries and an ending sequence that merits attention from longtime Valiant readers. However, this isn’t a title recommended to hand to someone who has no idea about the extended Valiant cannon.

1 Comments on Review: Book of Death #1: Knocking on Death’s Door, last added: 7/17/2015
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36. SDCC ’15: It’s Darth Vader Vs. the Entire Rebellion in Vader Down

darth-vader-star-wars-1

Darth Vader is a “force of nature” in the Star Wars Universe, able to take on a horde of Rebel scum with no problem, that being said, would it be possible for him to do battle with the Rebel forces all by himself? Would Vader be able to do combat with the trio of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia all by himself? Marvel’s latest crossover, Vader Down is answering those questions, exploring what would happen to an impossible villain pit against an entire army of rebels. Jason Aaron and Kieron Gillen are reprising their writing roles on Darth Vader and Star Wars to tell the story, starting with Vader Down #1 joined by Mike Deodato and Salvador Larroca. Comics Beat recently caught up with the authors to ask questions about the upcoming crossover. Check out Marvel’s solicit text:

STAR WARS: VADER DOWN

A Six-Part Star Wars / Darth Vader Crossover

When: November 2015

Creators:  Jason Aaron & Kieron Gillen (W), Mike Deodato & Salvador Larroca (A)

Covers by Mark Brooks

Editor: Jordan D. White

What: A million voices cried out…and we’re giving them what they want! Since Marvel’s Star Wars line launched in January to much fanfare, the main series Star Wars and its sister series DarthVader have told both sides of the tale of the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire between the original STAR WARS and EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Now, the two series come together in the Mighty Marvel manner to tell one epic tale! When Darth Vader accidentally finds himself facing off against the Rebel Fleet on his own, the rebels will learn the true strength of the Dark Side of the Force! Once Vader crashes on a nearby planet, the Rebellion is willing to risk everything for this once-in-a-lifetime chance to take out one of their biggest enemies! Luke! Vader! Leia! Aphra! Han! Chewie! And all manner of Droid, good and evil! Star Wars’s Jason Aaron and the full Darth Vader creative team of Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca are joined by artist Mike Deodato as the casts of both books come together for the crossover that binds everything together!

Note: this crossover kicks off in an oversized VADER DOWN #1 and continues throughout issues of Star Wars and Darth Vader.

Vader DOWN:

“He was shot down” explained Gillen when asked about Darth Vader ended up in the fateful situation! Aaron moved on to mention that the series kicks off with “the biggest action scene we’ve done in any of our (Star Wars) series.” The author indicated that this moment where Vader is shot down is also the next big plot moment for the title.

Darth Vader, main character?

When asked how Darth Vader serves different roles in each of the books, Aaron mentioned how he sees Vader as “a force of nature.” The villain looms large over the Star Wars franchise, and eventually, he even served as a protagonist in Kieron Gillen’s Darth Vader comic “I don’t do captions for Vader — you never really know what Vader’s thinking.” This helps build the mystery and tone of the bleak descent into the mind of Vader in Gillen’s series.

How do Star Wars and Darth Vader lead-up to Vader Down:

“Well in the first act,” said Aaron, “there was that big moment where Vader is connecting Skywalker for the first time to the pirate’s plot to destroy the death star. With the fallout of that in his second arc, now he’s worked to restore order. Our books separated a little bit more in the second arc, now we’ve delved a little bit more into introducing our own new characters and now, bringing them all crashing together.”

Continuity kerfuffle and Star Wars love!

We also learned that the creative had no issue trying to navigate the piece of time in-between Star Wars movie titles and A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. The two creators quietly navigated behind-the-scenes continuity work and tell their own stories in the official Star Wars canon. Finally, Jason Aaron shared a quote regarding his personal relationship to the Star Wars franchise: “For me it’s just…I was the perfect age for Star Wars.”

Age isn’t just a number. Pick up Vader Down #1 in November, and then continue the crossover as it bleeds into Darth Vader and Star Wars shipping monthly from Marvel.

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37. Marvel Kills the Game as they Unveil Rap Crossover Covers

This October, Marvel will release a set of variants that pay tribute to famous rap albums.  While I’m not personally big on rap, I appreciate the amount of work and dedication put into making these covers look just right.  The concept is unique and ties comics into mainstream culture in a way we haven’t typically seen.

drstrange howard SamWilsonASAPRocky spidey Wolf XMenDeLaSoul 50centIronMan BIG Brice

7 Comments on Marvel Kills the Game as they Unveil Rap Crossover Covers, last added: 7/18/2015
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38. SDCC ’15: Valiant’s Master Tacticians and Horror Stories: a Conversation with Robert Venditti

BOD_001_COVER-D_DJURDJEVIC

With the immanent release of Valiant’s Book of Death crossover story this week and the announcement of the Wrath of the Eternal Warrior series set for November, author Robert Venditti is one of the busiest writers in comics (not to mention that he’s also cooking multiple titles in the DC Universe). The Eternal Warrior, one of Valiant’s strongest and most weathered characters in the publishing slate is set to star in the latter series. Venditti initially chose between X-O Manowar and The Eternal Warrior to get ready to launch the Valiant Universe way back in 2012’s Summer of Valiant, but now the author has the opportunity to go back and chronicle the ongoing adventures of The Eternal Warrior. The hero is a key piece of Valiant at the center of Unity, the publisher’s premiere superteam, he is also the protector of the Geomancer — another important player in the landscape of the Valiant world. The Beat sat down with Venditti to get briefed on our mission assignment with Wrath of the Eternal Warrior and to congratulate the author on the first completed issue of Book of Death.

How are you feeling now that the first installment of Book of Death is in the can?

The whole thing isn’t done, I’m still working on the last issue of it. The comic has been a lot of fun to work on. It’s definitely unlike any story I have ever done before, not just in terms of characters, but also the content. It has much more of a horror bend to it than anything I have done, which is part of the reason why I wanted take on the project. With everything that I take on, I try and do something different than what I have done before, so hopefully I am always growing and challenging myself. It’s just been a lot of fun because there are a lot of surprises coming up in the story. The nature of the event has allowed me to introduce a lot of concepts into the Valiant Universe and show a lot of characters from the previous Valiant Universe for the first time. You don’t get opportunities to do that kind of stuff too often.

Does it excite you to have the opportunity to reintroduce concepts from the last Valiant incarnation in Book of Death?

To me, the great fun of working in a shared Universe with Valiant or DC is the idea that you can sort of become part of the tapestry because there is a line of writers that will come before you and a line of writers that will come after you. You know the extent to which you could contribute to it — it’s kinda like bringing some toys to the party and leaving some of the toys in the toybox so somebody else can play with them later. No matter what happens, I will have always put those toys in the box, and in some senses you are leaving a legacy behind.

I heard you mention that you initially pitched an Eternal Warrior series to Valiant in 2012. Did you take any sort of plot threads or pieces that you had and weave them back into the new story you were telling?

I didn’t actually pitch Eternal Warrior, what you probably heard is that when Valiant reached out to me about pitching for their characters back in 2011, they sent me Bibles on all the main characters. The two that appealed to me were X-O Manowar and The Eternal Warrior. I could only pitch on one, but have always wanted to pitch on The Eternal Warrior. I never put anything down on paper, but he’s certainly someone that I have thought a lot about. He showed up briefly in X-O Manowar for a couple of issues and I wrote him a little bit in Armor Hunters. This is something that I have been talking to Valiant about for a really long time. A lot of that stuff is definitely making it into Wrath of the Eternal Warrior series.

Can you talk about what the series will be comprised of tonally?

Gilad the Eternal Warrior is immortal. This is going to be a different take on that concept. The series is about what he has to endure and what he has to sacrifice in order to be immortal. I think that we live in what can be a lot of times a really pessimistic world, but I don’t think Gilad would get out of the grave and fight for us if he didn’t believe that we were inherently good and worth fighting for. If he thought that the world was inherently evil, he would just stay dead and let us all fall to our own devices. What appeals to me about him is despite the millennia that he’s been alive, and despite the things that he’s seen, he still remains an eternal optimist in some ways — which I find fascinating.

It’s the romance of the character that you are drawn into in that sense?

That’s certainly one aspect of it. I also love the aspect that because of his age, he hasn’t read about history. He’s lived it…you know. That sets him apart from the rest of the Valiant Universe, just the way that he views the world is different from everybody else. One example of that that I always use is his axe. A lot of people would say he’s supposed to be a master tactician and he’s a great warrior, why would he carry around something primitive like an axe? That’s because to us an axe is just a blade and just a weapon. To him, seeing what the axe is capable of, it’s an extremely versatile tool. He can turn it over and use the heel as a hammer, he can heat the blade in a campfire and fry an egg on it, he can polish it and use it as a signal mirror, he can use it to chop down trees and make shelter. There’s all these uses and even the way he fights with it. He uses not just the blade, but the sharp edge, the curve of the blade and the heel. Whereas today, we think the gun is the more obvious choice because we know that the gun can shoot a bullet, but that’s all it’s gonna do for you — you’re not going to build a shelter with a gun!

WRATH_001_COVER_MARTIN

Would you say that with Wrath of the Eternal Warrior, you’re utilizing some of those more wild elements of the character and weaving them back into the hero’s mythos in a more practical way?  The axe, for example.

Yeah, I would say that there are things we would perceive from our modern view and certainly the rest of the Valiant Universe as something that would be primitive or wild, but for him they are actually extremely cultured. That’s the inversion that makes it so interesting, we might think that he’s primitive, but really that’s because we are too primitive to discover how cultured he actually is.

This might be a sort of heady question, but in a lot of ways, The Eternal Warrior is in the middle of the Valiant Universe whether it be Unity, that tie to X-O (Manowar) and the role in protecting the Geomancer. I was wondering how you balanced this really connected character of the Valiant Universe within your series that is also nestled in the scope of a shared Universe?

Yeah, I think that those are different books and that those are different roles. I don’t know…in a way it would just make sense in whom it would be. It’s his mission to be at the center of everything, and that’s why he gets down out of the grave and he keeps doing what he does, because he’s at the center of things. It would be a harder book to write convincingly to have him be someone who wasn’t in the middle of everything, because why else would he do what he does? It’s just part of his DNA.

We saw The Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel mini, and we saw the Greg Pak (The Eternal Warrior) series. Have you sort of studied those elements and took the lens of that and sort of applied it to your upcoming book?

I have certainly read all that stuff, as well as the original Valiant run on the character as well. Much like X-O, we are really building on those things, trying to do it in a way that’s really different for the reader so it doesn’t seem like it’s anything that they haven’t seen before. He’s still gonna stay true to who his roots are as a concept — it’s going be a completely different take on those things.

Can you tease some thematic elements of how Book of Death is going to segue into the series?

That’s a tough one, that gets a little spoilery. Book of Death definitely sets up a lot of what we are going to be doing in Wrath of the Eternal Warrior, but Book of Death is completely self contained. If you pick up Wrath of the Eternal Warrior you can see how the foundation was laid in Book of Death, but it’s not going be a requirement to read Wrath of the Eternal Warrior.

BOD_001_COVER-C_CRAIN

Raul Allen has been making a splash in the Valiant world. What is it like for you to have the opportunity to work with him on Wrath of the Eternal Warrior?

Is there a way for you to communicate my smile? (Robert Venditti smiles.) I am super excited about it, he is a really talented guy. My first interaction with his work was when he was doing the covers for X-O Manowar, you just immediately see how he’s such an outside the box thinker. Not in a way that’s complex or alienating, but in a way that’s wholly unique.

Aric and Gilad had a really interesting relationship stemming out of the fight between the two characters in the pages of X-O Manowar. I really thought that in Unity, we saw the relationship go full circle, I don’t know if you are writing the two heroes in Book of Death, or if you are covering how the relationship has changed overtime?

They have a long history with each other. Aric didn’t know Gilad was The Eternal Warrior. Gilad was his mentor in a lot of ways when he was a child. He taught him how to fight with a sword, and was sort of a male role model for him as a Visigoth. At the surface, I think what people will find similar with them is that they have a man out of time aspect. They are actually polar opposites. Aric was actually someone who freed himself from the captivity of the Vine, the alien race that took him, then he came back to Earth from the modern day. Gilad has lived every single day. Aric has no constant in ethics and culture, while Gilad has witnessed all of that. So that’s obviously a big strain on their relationship in the modern day. There’s also a deep bond between them– a mentor and student bond. They have known each other and can relate to each other in ways that nobody on else can. They can become very antagonistic with each other as well — which I think is true of a lot of really deep friendships or brotherly bonds or things like that. They are inextricably bound to each other.

Correct me if I am wrong, but these are all thematic elements that are going to be covered in Book of Death?

Yes, a lot of what I was just discussing is going to be in the second issue in Book of Death #2. They are also things covered in X-O Manowar and in Wrath of the Eternal Warrior as well.

Book of Death #1 is on sale this Wednesday and Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #1 is launching in November at your local comic book shop.

BOD_001_COVER-A_GILL

BOOK OF DEATH #1 (of 4)
Written by ROBERT VENDITTI
Art by ROBERT GILL & DOUG BRAITHWAITE
Cover A by ROBERT GILL (MAY151586)
Cover B by CARY NORD (MAY151587)
Cover C by CLAYTON CRAIN (MAY151588)
Cover D by JELENA KEVIC-DJURDJEVIC (MAY151589)
Character Design Variant by PAOLO RIVERA (MAY151591)
Valiant Icons Variant by PERE PEREZ (MAY151592)
Artist Variant by PAOLO RIVERA (MAY151593)
Blank Cover also available (MAY151590)

“A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once.”

The Valiant heroes. X-O Manowar. Bloodshot. Ninjak. The Harbinger Renegades. Unity. This is how they lived. This is how they died.

Now we know. The Book of the Geomancer has recorded it all. But only a young girl – the last in a line of the enigmatic mystics who protect the Earth known as Geomancers – has seen this future come to pass, from the coming cataclysm to the dawn of the 41st century. Alone with her sworn protector, the Eternal Warrior – a soldier battle-forged across five thousand years of combat – the duo must defy their allies to stop the Dark Age that now threatens to eclipse our world.

Together, they are the number one target of every hero and villain on Earth. Either the Eternal Warrior hands her over…or they take him down. But can even he single-handedly protect one child when the entire Valiant Universe wages war against him?

The blockbuster Valiant event of 2015 starts here as New York Times best-selling writer Robert Venditti (X-O MANOWAR) joins superstar-in-the-making Robert Gill (ARMOR HUNTERS: HARBINGER) and visionary artist Doug Braithwaite (ARMOR HUNTERS) to begin a thousand-year journey into the future of the Valiant Universe…and rain, fire, blood and war on the heroes of today.

$3.99 | 40 pages | T+ | On sale JULY 15

WRATH_001_COVER_LAFUENTE

WRATH OF THE ETERNAL WARRIOR #1
Written by ROBERT VENDITTI
Art by RAUL ALLEN
Wraparound Cover by DAVID LAFUENTE
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | ONGOING SERIES | ON SALE IN NOVEMBER!

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39. SDCC ’15: Drawing with Jim Lee – “Do You Know the Difference between Law and Justice?”

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Jim Lee

By Nick Eskey

One of the happy-highlights of San Diego Comic-Con is when DC Comics co-publisher, writer, and artist Jim Lee just sits down and draws. Well he doesn’t just draw. The talented artist also has the chops to be a regular comedian. Every year on Sunday, his “Drawing with Jim Lee” is a highlight of the convention.

The panel this year had a slight hiccup however. From what we were told, he had it on his schedule that it would start at 3pm to 4pm, not 1:30pm to 2:30pm. We wouldn’t have to wait till 3pm, but he wasn’t going to be there till 2:15pm. A number of people left, but a majority stayed the extra forty-five minutes.

When Mr. Lee did show, a wave of applause went through the room. He took to his chair, and looking out at the crowd said, “Thanks for staying. It’s a real testament to your guys’ love of a free sketch.” Everyone erupted with laughter.

He continued to thank the crowd as he pulled pencils, “Pigma” pens, inks, and brushes out onto the table. “Now, you see this? It’s a Pigma marker. It gives you a fine tip and you can go thicker. You can use it for defining, or shadowing… They always send me a bunch of these, so I use them. I’m still waiting on this year’s crate.” More laughter. “You’ll have to excuse me, it’s Sunday at Comic-Con, so I’m not all here. But really guys, I do enjoy this panel a lot. Compared to the other days, this one is just very intimate, and a fun atmosphere. So thank you.”

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He proceeded to trace the lines on a “Wonder Woman” sketch that he had started earlier. “I thought I would get some drawings done beforehand so I had more to pass out to you all. So I… I got ONE. Yay!”

As he put the finishing touches on, he addressed the convention staff. “Is there anyone in here that works for Comic-Con? Do you know the difference between ‘Law’ and ‘Justice?’ Well, Law is what should be done. Justice is what needs to be done. So I know there’s some sort of rule forbidding panelists from handing out food to attendees in the room. But I got all these ‘Twix’ bars I want to give out.” Low and behold, Twix bars were passed out to everyone in the room. “We did an ad campaign back in June that took up a whole page… So yeah. That’s Law and Justice.”

While he finished his Wonder Woman, he had the crowd ask him questions. One person asked if he still did personal drawings from his Marvel days. “I’ll occasionally draw Marvel things for friends who like Marvel… It’s fun to draw these characters every now and then.” He was then asked if he would draw one. “Fine, I’ll draw Wolverine… but he’s got to wear the Batman suit.”

Jim gave out the first sketch, and then began on the second. He began with a circle, and built upon it. “Trace basic shapes. They are like the blue print.” With the skeleton of the drawing done, he started the detailing. “Wolverine is like Batman. But smaller nose, bad breath, and… 2.8 billion dollars.” As he began the lining, he added “Batman is a lot like Wolverine, but less feral in nature… DC has less angry characters.”

It’s obvious how much Jim Lee enjoys his art, and sharing it with others. The amount of care he puts into his work looks effortless. It comes from years of practice. As he’s working on Wolverine’s nose, he smiled and said, “Add the nose and the teeth that make him look like he’s going to drop a deuce.” The room erupts again in laughter. “No, see? He’s kind of hunched over. He’s about to sit on the toilet.”

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“Add the nose and the teeth that make him look like he’s going to drop a deuce.”

Finished, he gave Wolverine away, and took the request of doing “Harley Quinn.” As he drew, an attendee asked, “With nine kids, what do you do to relax?” Jim Lee looked at him, and laughed a little. “I make nine kids… No really. What do I do to relax? I draw. When I draw, time goes by. I fall into my pocket dimension, which is full of shirtless, muscular men.”

As he finished the drawing and was going to give it out, another person asked, “Who’s your least favorite character to draw?” Without hesitation, he answered, “Spiderman. I do believe he’s one of the best creations of Jim Lee, but I don’t like drawing Spiderman. He has all that webbing…The webbing, it creates the form of the costume. And when it moves around and curves, it’s just hard to plot.”

For his last drawing, he asked who he should draw next. A flurry of responses came through. But the one he latched on to was “Aquaman.” “Look, this girl is putting her hands together and pleading! That’s the international sign of ‘I have to draw this.’”

While he drew the last sketch, the question of “What’s your favorite part of the costume to draw” came up.  And this was probably my favorite response of the night. Jim Lee answered, “Oh you’re not going to trick me with that.”

The Jim Lee Sunday panel is probably the favorite of many. The fun and playful atmosphere is one that can be greatly appreciated on a Comic-Con Sunday. Though it doesn’t really explain much of the techniques in his drawing, it does allow everyone to see one of comic’s greats make wonderful art. Let’s all hope it continues for a years to come.

1 Comments on SDCC ’15: Drawing with Jim Lee – “Do You Know the Difference between Law and Justice?”, last added: 7/17/2015
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40. Jesse Eisenberg Compares Being at SDCC to Genocide

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This weekend, actor Jesse Eisenberg, who plays Lex Luthor in next year’s Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, was seen at the premiere of The End of the Tour, a film about the release of David Foster Wallace’s 20th century existential tomb of a novel, Infinite Jest.  In an interview with the Associated Press, Eisenberg was asked about what he thought of his first comic con experience, to which he replied:

“It is like being screamed at by thousands of people. I don’t know what the experience is throughout history, probably some kind of genocide. I can’t think of anything that’s equivalent.”

“I can’t think of anything that’s equivalent,” he says, as he stands in line being screamed at by fans and paparazzi, berated eternally by the strobe of 200 watt light bulb flashes.  I understand that comic con is a stressful experience for all parties, especially the talent, but come on.  Eisenberg’s statement sounds like slight hyperbole for an A-List actor– not to mention the fact that it’s an offensive statement to make in the first place.

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41. SDCC ’15 Interview: Mark Waid Discusses Archie #1

Archie #1 (art by Fiona Staples)

Archie #1 (art by Fiona Staples)

By Harper W. Harris

Among his lauded superhero comics, Mark Waid is also writing the highly publicized Archie #1, which relaunches the flagship title of the publisher, featuring art by the 2015 best penciller Eisner winner Fiona Staples. I had a chance to speak with him in between signings and panels to get his take on everyone’s favorite comics love triangle.

Harper W. Harris: What is your history with Archie? Have you been a fan of the characters for a long time, and how did you get involved?

Mark Waid: I mean, like everybody, I read Archie comics growing up. But I worked on staff for a brief time as an editor in the early ‘90s, and at that point did a deep dive on the character for the first time, went through the library and read all that stuff, and that made me an aficionado for life. Just looking at the the beauty and the variety and the bounce of the artwork in the ‘40s and ‘50s, and watching the character dynamics, and realizing that these characters are much deeper than we give them credit for. There’s much more to them than we tend to see. So when they called me a few months ago and asked me if I wanted to jump in on this, my first instinct was, you know, I’m a 53 year old man, why are you asking me about 16 year old teenagers. But then I thought about it, and you know what, I’m willing to step up to the plate and take a swing at that because I love these characters and I’m very protective of them. Whenever I take on something like Daredevil or Superman or Archie or something, I’m very protective of characters who have existed since before I was born, because I think that there’s clearly something about them that makes them perennial, vital characters, that makes people still want to tell stories about them after all these years. And that fascinates me, like what is it about those characters? Drilling down and then trying to figure out what that nugget is that makes those characters something where, as opposed to like Betty Boop or Woody Woodpecker or Andy Panda, that are nostalgic, nobody’s telling stories about them. So that’s what fascinates me. So with the Archie characters, when they gave me that opportunity, I thought, okay, clearly my high school experience is different from your high school experience is different from my 15 year old stepdaughter’s experience, but there are certain things about being a teenager that, I swear to god, are universal. The idea that you don’t know who you are yet and you’re trying to figure out your identity. Or you remember what it’s like to be flustered and embarrassed in front of the opposite sex. That feeling that everything you do is the end of the world and every bad thing that happens feels like its going to last forever. Those are the things that are universal to every teenager that ever lived, so those are the things you concentrate on. You don’t concentrate on Snapchat and Instagram and Twitter and hashtags and stuff like that, you don’t cram that into the story; that’s window dressing. The stuff that makes it timeless is the emotions.

HH: One of the interesting things about this new Archie book is that you are tackling the “origin” of Archie. You usually think of an origin in comics as when somebody got their superpowers or stopped their first crime or whatever–how did you go figuring out where the starting point should be for the character?

MW: I really started thinking about the Betty/Veronica/Archie dynamic, because the things is, and this is going back to the original DNA of the strip: the whole idea of will Archie choose Betty or Veronica is actually a fairly recent construct, that’s more of an ‘80s or ’90s thing. While it served the comics well at the time and it’s certainly one of the questions that people still ask, you know, will he choose Betty or Veronica, it kind of makes the girls like property to be owned. It makes them feel like they’re competing–it’s weird too that they’re supposed to be best friends and yet they’re dating the same boy all the time. So I stepped back for a minute and I thought, let’s go back to the original DNA of the strip which is that Betty is the tomboy underdog who is attracted to Archie but can’t get his attention because of glamorous Veronica and Archie being a dumbass about that. That just made more sense to me. With that in mind, the other thing that sort of makes it feel like an origin is that I needed it to be a more diverse cast, I desperately needed it to be a more diverse cast. The five main Archie characters–Reggie, Jughead, Archie, Betty, and Veronica–are traditionally white characters, white Cis characters. I needed a little more variety. Luckily, Archie has a very deep bench in the last ten years of very diverse supporting characters in the Archie Universe. So the first instinct was, let’s leave Veronica off the table for a little while, let’s leave Reggie off the table for a little while, let’s make room for Raj and Kevin and some of the other characters who are not your typical whitebread Archie characters. So I think that also sort of helps it feel like an origin in that you’re still sort of introducing some of these characters.

HH: You talked in a panel earlier today that your approach to Betty is that she’s in a sort of awkward stage where she’s not one of the boys anymore. Do you plan on exploring a lot of the characters in that way and giving them a point of view as opposed to the book just being about Archie?

Archie #2 (on sale 8/19)

Archie #2 (on sale 8/19)

MW: Oh yeah. Here’s the thing: Archie is the hub of the wheel, he’s the guy that has to be, in a way, the most unremarkable character in the book, because everyone else is sort of “Archie but he’s a foodie,” or “Archie but she’s a tomboy” or “Archie but she’s glamorous.” Everybody is a variation on the typical American teenager, so he has to be at the center. But the problem with that, of course, is that the typical American teenager is not a terribly glamorous or interesting in and of itself, and I’m not sure what that means in the 21st century either. So what I’m doing is using Archie as the lens to look at all those other characters. Issue two deals more with Jughead and why he’s an iconoclast and why he wears a hat and why he is the way he is. Issue three deals a lot more with Veronica–she could just be a stuck up rich bitch, but first of all we hate her that way and secondly that’s not very interesting. Instead, we’re treating her more like it’s Kim Kardashian coming to your high school. She doesn’t think she’s a bad person, and most of the time she’s not a bad person. It’s still that she doesn’t really connect well with the little people. That’s the trick, really drilling down on them and making them interesting and making them all relatable. Nobody invents a time machine, nobody has such a wacky adventure that it could never really happen to a teenager. We push the envelope a little bit, but by and large I want to keep those characters pretty well grounded.

HH: One of the other interesting things about starting this new series is that in the past, Archie stories have had little to no continuity from issue to issue. Is your approach more to tell the stories as arcs, one long story, or in short one-off stories?

Mark Waid at SDCC '15

Mark Waid at SDCC ’15

MW: It’s sort of in the arc format, but every issue still stands on its own. Every issue has a beginning, middle, and end, and then the soap opera is what brings you back from issue to issue. In terms of continuity, look, if the other artists and writers doing the Archie stuff want to play off what I’m doing, that’s awesome. If Chip Zdarsky instead wants to do Jughead in space, that’s fine too, that’s going to be awesome. The Archie stuff really does adapt itself really well to whether it’s continuity or not continuity. All the stuff in the ‘60s–there’s this great book that just came out called 12 Cent Archie by Bart Beaty. It’s an examination of Archie comics in the 1960s, and how continuity didn’t mean anything and that was its strength. Like in one issue Betty can be a master chef, and in the very next issue Betty can burn everything down in the kitchen. It didn’t matter because it served the plot. Archie can be a football hero in one issue and in the next issue be a scrub, it didn’t matter because it’s funny and that’s the plot. So there’s a part of me that likes doing the arch stuff where there’s a continuity to it, but I have no problem at all if the other guys want to run off in a different direction. I mean, Chip Zdarsky and Adam Hughes, I just want to see them do their thing.

HH: Alright, I’ll let you go on an easy one: Team Betty or Team Veronica?

MW: Hmmm…Team Betty, but I’m beginning to soften on Veronica a bit as we get into that very shellacked head of hers.

 

Archie #1 is on shelves now, with the second issue due out on 8/19!

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42. SDCC ’15: New Eighth Doctor series and holiday special announced at Titan Doctor Who comics panel

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UK based Titan Comics brought plenty of Doctor Who comic news across the pond for their appearance at SDCC. In addition to assembling some of the artists and writers behind their SDCC 2015 exclusive story and upcoming four Doctor crossover, panel moderator and Executive Editor Andrew James announced a new mini-series and holiday special both coming this Fall.

The panel kicked off with Senior Editor Steve White leading the room in singing Happy Birthday to Ninth Doctor series artist George Mann before James took the podium to premiere a teaser trailer for the forthcoming four Doctor crossover as series writer Paul Cornell looked on. Fans got a taste of never before seen artwork from series artist Neil Edwards, including an image of Doctors Ten, Eleven and Twelve gathered around the TARDIS console with companions Gabby, Alice and Clara. A title card proclaimed the crossover would feature four companions, which begs the question of who the fourth might be.

The crossover hits stores August 12 to coincide with the second annual Doctor Who comics day the following Saturday, August 15. The celebration will feature appearances from Doctor Who comics creators “at over 2,000 stores and libraries world-wide,” according to James.

“This all comes about because Clara Oswald desperately tries to prevent what she refers to as ‘some kind of multi-Doctor event’ which she doesn’t want to happen,” said Cornell, describing the basic premise of the series. “Thankfully, she fails to do that completely.” As with any multi-Doctor tale, from early seventies television serial “The Three Doctors” on down through 2013’s “Day of the Doctor,” disagreements and power struggles between the iterations take center stage.

“Ten and Twelve really don’t see eye to eye. Twelve can’t explain how he’s even alive to the other two,” Cornell said, noting that the story takes place before Doctors Ten and Eleven meet up in “Day of the Doctor.” He acknowledged that how the pair don’t remember this earlier encounter is one of the main points his series will have to explain.

“Ten thinks Twelve must have done something diabolical to even exist, he calls him an ‘abomination.’ And Twelve says, ‘Abomination? Dalek word. Nice.'” Cornell’s take on the Twelfth Doctor includes further witticisms such as his referring to Doctors Ten and Eleven as “Manic Pixie Dream Doctors,” leaving the Eleventh Doctor in the unenviable position of trying to help the other two manage to get along. He promised that the story, which he said was “all about a photograph, the nature of which means the end of the universe,” would feature some compelling cliffhangers, lots of old monsters and some surprise cameos.

Cornell wrapped up by saying: “All the Doctor Who titles are coming to a halt to clear the way for this for five weeks, and then they’ll all be relaunched again with any survivors.”

One of those titles is the recently launched Ninth Doctor comic series. To the right of Cornell on the panel was Cavan Scott and Blair Shedd, respectively the writer and artist behind the series. Scott remarked that he couldn’t quite believe he was writing for a Doctor that had already reached the 10th anniversary of their appearance and then death.

“We wanted to do a big event to celebrate that,” Scott said, “and wanted to do things we hadn’t seen the Doctor do very often in that year.” He said that Nine is still dealing with the Time War, leaving him a “very, very raw, a man who’s remembering how to be the Doctor.” Scott felt the TARDIS team of Rose Tyler and Jack Harkness helped the Doctor with that, saying he loved the brilliant way that group interacted. He also noted the flirting between Jack and the Doctor and Rose, which he likened to a love triangle that was perpetually spinning.

In terms of story, Scott explained that annihilation of the Time Lords left a “vacuum of power” that two warring factions are vying to fill. This leads the Ninth Doctor, Scott said, “to come face to face with people who are saying, ‘We are the new champions of Time’ and he might not like that.”

Scott added another Doctor to the growing roster of Time Lords he’s written for when he paired with Mann on writing duties for the SDCC exclusive story “Selfie.” James explained that the origins of the Con-centric story, which he described as a “delight” to work on, lay truly with the writers as his brief for the tale only asked that they do a story set in San Diego with the Twelfth Doctor and Clara.

“We spent an evening on Skype arguing, basically,” said Mann, who elaborated that the loose brief from James gave them the freedom to go anywhere in the city, but that both writers agreed they wanted to do a story at the convention center which they saw as “the heart of comics.” This was why the story opens with the TARDIS landing in the middle of the convention’s main floor,  in a full-page shot that James explained took artist Rachael Stott weeks to complete as she kept adding detail and costumes for con goers that referenced a variety of fandoms.

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Scott said he and Mann asked themselves what summed up a convention these days and decided it was the many selfies taken by attendees. This led to the concept of an alien that could only be seen in selfies, and what endgame such a creature would have. “So if you look on your phones and see this,” Scott intoned in an ominous voice, gesturing to a slide showing a panel of the alien, “run.”

James segued into the announcement portion of the panel by saying that the Titan editors so loved Stott’s work on “Selfie” that she was the first artist invited to work on year two of the Twelfth Doctor series. Stott will support returning writer Robbie Morrison. “Selfie” writing team Scott and Mann will also return to a Twelfth Doctor story in a holiday special due out in early December. “Doctor Who is synonymous with Christmas back in the UK and around the world,” James said, “but we’re going to go slightly more international with the holiday.”

The other big announcement from the panel was the release of a new mini-series featuring the Eighth Doctor. James showed a slide of the series’ issue one cover by Alice X. Zhang, whose oil painting-style imagery depicts actor Paul McGann. McGann’s brief on-screen tenure as the Doctor only included one ill-fated TV movie, meant to test the waters for a possible BBC series collaboration with Fox. Though the film is much maligned, fans largely agree McGann himself shined in the role.

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Due out October 28, the new series will be written by Mann with art by Emma Vieceli. “It’s a different format to the mini-series you’ve seen before,” Mann said, explaining that this was a later version of the Eighth Doctor, as seen just prior to “Night of the Doctor.” That television short, which served as a prequel to “Day of the Doctor,” was well-received by fans and may have paved the way for Titan to feature him in comic form.

Mann himself stated the short had personally made him want a season’s worth of Eighth Doctor stories. As a result, he wrote each issue as it’s own “episode” and “separate adventure.” Issue one will deal with a “village under siege set in the modern day,” but the issues will also see the Doctor travel to distant worlds and introduce new villains. Mann also said that we’ll meet a new companion named “Josie” who will be central to the stories, calling her “the backbone of the series.”

The Eleventh Doctor year two sees the introduction of a new writer to pair with Robbie Williams, Si Spurrier, who sent a video greeting to play to the panel introducing himself. Artist Simon Fraser returns, joined by newcomer Warren Pleece. The Tenth Doctor year two brings back Nick Abadzis on writing, while returning artist Elena Casagrande will be joined by Eleonora Carlini.

Check out some of the upcoming covers from Tenth and Eleventh Doctor year two, upcoming Twelfth Doctor and new Eighth Doctor covers below!

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12D_13_Cover_A

11D_2.2_Cover_A 12D_14_Cover_A

Doctor_Who_8D_01_Cover_B_Photo_NEW

Doctor_Who_8D_01_Cover_C

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43. New Heroes: Reborn Trailer Features the Return of Original Series Stars

“Memories are funny things.  The good ones fill our lives with meaning— with context, with clarity…but other memories can deceive.  The ones that make you believe you know the truth— those are the dangerous ones.  When you look back at the decisions you’ve made in your life, the one thing you don’t wanna feel is regret.”

— Noah Bennet

In a cryptic opening statement that summarizes series creator Tim Kring’s entire relationship with the Heroes franchise, Jack Coleman aka Noah Bennet introduces the world of Heroes: Reborn.  This brave new world is different than the one we left at the end of Heroes‘ final season in 2010, but will feel incredibly familiar to those that stuck around until the end of the original series:

The fresh faces of the 13 episode mini-series are dwarfed in this new footage by the return of original series regulars including Sendhil Ramamurthy as Mohinder Suresh, Cristine Rose as Angela Petrelli, Masi Oka as Hiro Nakamura, Greg Grunberg as Matt Parkman, Jimmy Jean-Louis as The Haitian, and Noah Gray-Cabey as Micah Sanders.

It looks like the plot is going to echo some old X-Men storylines, with the government hunting down meta-humans.  The cheese-factor of the series looks like it will be back in full force, as the trailer features an awful lot of samurai and even an act-into-the-camera moment from an unnamed character whose ability seems to be controlling auroras…how that actually affects the world in any way has yet to be seen.

Heroes: Reborn debuts this fall.

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44. SDCC’15: Aspen Comics Practice Santeria for Comic-Con

SDCC 2015 hasn’t been a slouch in the announcements department especially if you’re a fan of comics.  Friday morning, Aspen Comics held their Comic-Con caucus in room 9 kicking off with a big traditional “Aloha” and leading to a couple of big teases for fans.

Frank Mastromauro, Vince Hernandez, Mark Roslan, and Peter Steigerwald were joined by Josh Reed, Beth Sotelo, BigDog Ink’s Tom Hutchison, David Wohl, Paolo Pantalena, Siya Oum, V. Ken Marion, Heather Quinley, Alex Koant, and Hannibal Tabu. So many people that actually couldn’t fit on the stage.

Frank opened with the upcoming Eternal Soulfire showing off the Century Edition cover which was an SDCC exclusive. With Eternal Soulfire debuting this week more covers for issues three and four were shown off including a large piece separated into four different covers. The Vettix sketch cover initiative cover was talked about and their lineup for auction includes Art Adams with more names to follow soon. Vettix helps armed forces men and women attend hard to score events like comic-con.

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The presentation transitioned into the recently launched Fathom Blue. One of the two Aspen team books set in the Fathom universe. Some scantily clad covers and regular covers for issue 2 through 5 were showing.

David Wohl talked about his new project called Santeria: City of Fear (working title). Wohl talked about wanting to do a paramedic story. It’s about a woman who saves someone’s live and in doing so is thrust into a world of Santeria. The pitch for the book sounds like an interesting take on what the cost of saving a life could be.

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Oniba Swords of the Demon by Paolo Pantalena is a series featuring a female samurai. Her feudal Japan timeline story will see the heroine battle intricately designed monsters. There’s a sketchbook available at the Aspen booth featuring some intense line art.

The Big Dog Ink rundown started with an update on Critter. Some con exclusive covers were shown which should be available on the publisher’s online store. After Critter will be Legend of Oz Wicked West in October. Wrapping up the BDI stuff is a tease for new Shahrazad stuff next year.

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Panel exclusive Critter #1

Panel exclusive Critter #1

Jirni Volume two debuts in August. Some new covers for the series were shown and Marion’s art really bumps up his game here.

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The all ages Psycho Bonkers showed off some covers including one by MLP artist Agnes Garabowska.

LOLA XoXo Wasteland Madam had some new cover art to show off by the impressive Siya Oum. She’ll return to writing the LOLA series with Vol 2 whileWasteland Madam continues to be written by Vince Hernandez.

Steigerwald talked about the delay with Zoohunters. His current DC Commitments were taking more time than they should have but he’ll be returning to the book very soon.

Upcoming trades by the publisher include Fathom Vol 2, Fathom Killian’s tale, Legend of the Shadow Clan, and Jirni Vol 1.

Following the recent movement of Aspen Novels is Aspen Novellas. The first one in the line will feature the world of Executive Assistant Iris. They’ll be shorter than the novels but an expansion into the comics’ worlds that takes prose form.

Dellec and Shrugged will have new Volumes at some point. The stories for each are in the works but current titles are the focus. Mastromauro explained the publisher can only handle a certain number of books a month.

The Scourge,  Scott Lobdell’s previous Aspen series is in talks to be a feature film and has a screenwriter.

A gorgeous Michael Turner gallery edition collecting the legendary artist’s Batman/Superman run through the lens of the original pages is currently available at the show and at Graphitti Designs. The oversized book is a must for fans of Turner and orginal art which also contains tons of cover work and designs for his various DC Comics contributions. Fans can flip through one at the Graphitti booth, but be prepared for the best impulse buy ever.

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The panel announced this year’s Halloween Fest book will be a Psycho Bonkers coloring and activity book for kids.

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The publisher also announced a catch up with day-and-date digital as well as the back catalog continuing to update with Comixology.

For years Aspen has always had their IP on the cusp of breaking into other mediums, while there has been movement on a few things; according to Mastromauro the thing closest to being a reality is Executive Assistant: Iris. In the group’s opinion it’s the property that would be cost effective for a studio to tackle. Even teasing that it could be a SDCC 2016 announcement.

With that the panel closed with another rousing “Aloha!”

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45. SDCC ’15: Exclusive Batman Vs. Superman Signing Footage

Today the DC Entertainment booth hosted a signing featuring the stars of Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.  DC All Access had exclusive footage from the event:

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46. SDCC ’15: Ant-Man Assembles with a Special Someone in New Clip…[Spoilers]

Released today, this Ant-Man clip shows Hank Pym meeting up with none other than…

The Falcon!  Ant-Man comes out July 17th.

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47. SDCC ’15: Marvel Announces the First Spider-Man/Deadpool Team Up Ever!

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like for a comic to be composed entirely of one-liners, wonder no more.  This Fall, writer Joe Kelly and artist Ed McGuinnes are teaming up to create the very first Spider-Man/Deadpool crossover EVER.  No further news has been announced at this time, so we can only speculate on whether the world will survive the weight of these heroes’ collective puns.

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48. Suicide Squad’s Sizzle Reel in Glorious 1080p!

With a huge frown on their collective entity’s face and a couple of stiletto-wearing foot stomps to boot, Warner Bros. has released an official copy of the Suicide Squad sizzle reel that leaked after being shown at a panel during SDCC.  The trailer comes with a statement:

“Warner Bros. Pictures and our anti-piracy team have worked tirelessly over the last 48 hours to contain the Suicide Squad footage that was pirated from Hall H on Saturday. We have been unable to achieve that goal. Today we will release the same footage that has been illegally circulating on the web, in the form it was created and high quality with which it was intended to be enjoyed. We regret this decision as it was our intention to keep the footage as a unique experience for the Comic Con crowd, but we cannot continue to allow the film to be represented by the poor quality of the pirated footage stolen from our presentation.”
– Sue Kroll, President Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures

Deadline and a few other outlets have speculated that the leak of Suicide Squad and Deadpool footage meant exclusively for SDCC attendees could mean the end of the media practice.  Deadline characterizes this type of footage as a “gift,” and it is.  However, the reality of the internet is that information can be disseminated far and wide at increasingly rapid speeds.  There’s no way to stop this sort of thing from happening in the future, and not showing any promotional material at all seems like an emotionally driven reaction that ultimately hurts all parties, movie studios like Warner Bros. included.

It doesn’t make sense for companies to fight the future.  There’s plenty of room for innovation left in the internet.  Corporations simply need to embrace that.

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49. Marvel’s What If? Infinity Has an Infinite Number of Great Creators

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Hey you, that’s right…you! Have you not heard all the Marvel announcements coming out of San Diego? Did you even hear that a female Blade comic was announced? Do you have time to take all of this crazy Marvel information and jam it into your poor unassuming brain? Marvel is continuing to roll out new comics with the reveal of a What if? Infinity limited series. Even if this seems insane, the mini starting in October features writing from the talented Josh Williamson and has an all-star cast of artists including Mike Norton, Riley Rossmo, Mike Henderson, Jason Copland and Goran Sudzuka.

Each issue of the comic reimagines the Marvel Universe after Infinity, the Marvel comics event that saw Thanos try to seize the Earth while author Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers villains The Builders were also putting up a fight for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. One issue takes a look at what the Earth what look like if the Builders had been successful. The comic features several standalone chapters written by Williamson and illustrated by one of the fantastic artists mentioned above. Every installment of the series is shipping in October and follows a different set of characters including Thanos, the Inhumans, Avengers and more. Let us know if you are feeling the Marvel overload or if you are excited for yet another chapter in the expanded cannon of fringe Marvel titles.

Also, here’s the solicitations for each of the five comics included with the Marvel.com tease from Williamson on each comic:

WHAT IF? INFINITY – THANOS #1

Written by JOSH WILLIAMSON

Art by MIKE HENDERSON

Cover by TOM WHALEN

Variant Cover by KRIS ANKA

On Sale October 2015!

It’s really a matter of survival. He joins the team during the attack and the Avengers feel like it’s their last resort to win.

WHAT IF? INFINITY – INHUMANS #1

Written by JOSH WILLIAMSON

Art by RILEY ROSSMO

Cover by CHRISTIAN WARD

On Sale October 2015!

In our story, Black Bolt has taken over after the Avengers lost the war during the Infinity event, so the world is in ruins. He’s trying to rebuild civilization, but it doesn’t feel like Earth anymore.

WHAT IF? INFINITY – AVENGERS #1

Written by JOSH WILLIAMSON

Art by MIKE NORTON

Cover by MATT FERGUSON

On Sale October 2015!

This story actually centers on some remaining X-Men members who were evacuated [from] Earth after the Avengers lost. Earth is gone.

WHAT IF? INFINITY – GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1

Written by JOSH WILLIAMSON

Art by JASON COPLAND

Cover by DAVE RAPOZA

On Sale October 2015!

Really, this issue could be called Guardians of the Galaxy vs. the Avengers. It’s one of my favorite scripts I’ve ever written.

WHAT IF? INFINITY – DARK REIGN #1

Written by JOSH WILLIAMSON

Art by GORAN SUDZUKA

Cover by JAMES FLAMES

On Sale October 2015!         

When Osborn was the head of HAMMER during Dark Reign, he had a lot of power and tools at his disposal. In this issue, he managed to get his hands on the Infinity Gauntlet—and won.

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50. SDCC ’15: Eisner-Award Winner Raina Telgemeier Announces Next Her GN, “Ghosts”

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Yesterday, Raina Telgemeier, author of the Eisner-winning autobiographical comic, Smiles, announced her next graphic novel.  The book, entitled Ghosts, will be released in fall 2016, and will be published through Scholastic’s Graphix imprint, which focuses on YA and kids comics.

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