Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
Oni Press series Hellbreak met a bit of a delay earlier this year, with coloring duties migrating from Eisner-winner Jordie Bellaire to Eisner-winner Dave Stewart, and Terrible Lizard, also written by Cullen Bunn, took the book’s place on the schedule. But the book — written by Oni veteran Bunn and illustrated by The Secret History of D.B. Cooper‘s Brian Churilla, is on track for a March 2015 debut.
“It follows a group called the Kerberos Project, which is working closely with the Catholic Church,” Bunn told CBR of Hellbreak in March of this year. “We find out that when someone is possessed, their soul is actually displaced so a demon or devil takes up residence in the person’s body and kicks their soul into Hell. There are an infinite numbers of Hells out there, each one different, each one ghastly and horrible in its own way.”
ROBOT 6 has the first look at a variant cover for issue #1 illustrated by Cliff Chiang, who recently wrapped an acclaimed three-year stint on Wonder Woman. Retailers can “unlock” the Chiang variant by ordering 100 copies of Hellbreak #1. The issue will have a total of three variants, each with a $3.99 cover price; but the standard cover by Churilla will be sold for the introductory price of $1. Chiang’s variant and Churilla’s standard cover both follow in full below.
UPDATE 11/25/2014 3:25 PM PT: A Comic-Con International representative has provided CBR News with the following statement:
There is no excuse for offensive or threatening behavior. The fact that it comes from a purported member of our committee is clearly upsetting. Even though we cannot control what an individual says, we can address issues that have a direct effect on our organization or persons affiliated with our organization. We would also like to mention this individual no longer holds a volunteer position with our association. We encourage any individual who feels threatened by these comments or others to seek assistance from law enforcement.
The reaction to the announcement Monday night that a grand jury chose decided not to indict Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown sent thousands to social media to voice their feelings on the decision. Within the comics industry, much of the discussion on Twitter has involved a self-identified Comic-Con International volunteer known as “Bill in San diego,” who has posted a series of inflammatory and disturbing tweets.
In the past couple of weeks, “Bottle of Wine,” a one-page comic by Russ Heath rightfully captivated the imagination of many industry observers, where the legendary artist addresses the appropriation of his work by pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. Lichtenstein got rich and famous, the strip relates, and Heath received no monetary compensation. A silver lining, Heath describes, is that the work of The Hero Initiative — a nonprofit focused on aiding comics creators in need — has provided him with financial support decades later, including assistance after a knee-replacement surgery.
A tweet on Nov. 1 from cartoonist Dylan Horrocks helped bring widespread attention to the comic — 1,325 retweets and 1,000 favorites as of Wednesday afternoon — and renewed critiques of Lichtenstein’s body of work, frequently derivative of existing comic book art with no credit to the original illustrator. Outlets from Boing Boing to ComicsAlliance all picked up on Heath’s strip, bringing greater awareness to both the Hero Initiative’s work and Lichtenstein’s problematic oeuvre.
Hero Initiative President Jim McLauchlin reached ROBOT 6 to clear the air on a couple of elements of the “Bottle of Wine” coverage. First, the comic strip (colored and lettered by Darwyn Cooke) was initially published in May 2012, in IDW’s Hero Comics 2012. (In fact, ROBOT 6 ran the comic that month.) Also, the Lichtenstein work cited in the comic, 1963’s “Whaam!,” was actually based on a panel by Irv Novick in 1962’s All-American Men of War #89, published by DC Comics — Lichtenstein lifted from Heath in 1962’s “Blam,” with a panel also from All-American Men of War #89. Same issue, different artists.
James Callahan, artist of the acclaimed Oni Press series The Auteur, has illustrated an exceptionally detailed poster for the cheerfully titled film Why Don’t You Play In Hell?, and ROBOT 6 has the first look.
Why Don’t You Play in Hell? debuted in 2013 in Japan, written and directed by the prolific Sion Sono. The movie gets a U.S. release on Friday, courtesy of Drafthouse Films. Here’s the official plot synopsis:
I don’t know if that’s a byproduct of the anonymity there, but when you’re sorta scrolling through looking at Twitter reactions to the show, they exist at the edge of each spectrum. They’re incredibly negative towards some characters. They’re overwhelmingly positive towards others … I don’t think Twitter’s important.
Think of social media like NSYNC. I think that Facebook is Timberlake, OK? And I think that all of the other forums are the other members of the group.
On the Facebook side, connecting with the fans in that way I think holds a lot more value, holds a lot more sway and it’s just been fun. I’m the same person as I was before I got this job, but this job has given me the platform to have fun and do interesting things on Facebook.
I personally haven’t encountered anything negative on Twitter. People I know have. And I think Twitter does a horrendous job of protecting those folks. When they have a better policy, maybe I’ll go back.”
— Arrow star Stephen Amell, who has more than 2.7 million Likes on Facebook, discussing his social media presence and preferences during a set visit
Marvel mainstay and Powers co-creator Brian Michael Bendis has shut down his long-running message board, effective immediately. Previous posts are no longer accessible and all incoming links to the board direct to a note from the Eisner-winning writer, where he states his reason for the closure and invites fans to interact with him via his Twitter and Tumblr accounts.
“This looks to be one of the most exciting years I will ever have with the debut of the Powers TV show and so many other big surprises coming in the next few months,” Bendis wrote. “It is important, now more than ever, that I focus as much of my attention on my work and family.”
The Bendis Board took many forms at multiple different homes across the Internet over the years, dating back to the writer’s pre-Marvel days. In addition to his own board, Bendis hosted forums for other creators (collectively known as the “Jinxworld Forums”), which are also now redirecting to the closure message.
Savage Dragon is rapidly approaching its 200th issue, and creator Erik Larsen has hit another milestone: He’s written a Savage Dragon screenplay, which he made public earlier today on Facebook and Twitter.
Larsen announced it by simply stating, “As of 2:06 this morning a Savage Dragon screenplay exists. Wish me luck,” but went into more detail on Facebook comments and Twitter replies.
“As far as actors go — I’d rather get a guy with decent acting chops than try to find somebody built like Dragon,” the writer/artist stated on Facebook. “Savage Dragon NEEDS to be constructed. No human being has fists the size of loafs of bread. He can’t just be a normal muscle man and normal muscle men don’t have the comedic timing and acting chops needed to pull off the part.” That said, he also wrote that he doesn’t necessarily think the film needs to go full-tilt CGI: “I would think Dragon could be mostly real — with CG arms and chest.”
As evidenced by the past few weeks on social media, a good chunk of the $430.7 million worth of people who have seen Guardians of the Galaxy thus far were absolutely captivated by the image of a potted baby Groot dancing to “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5. It was inevitable that official merchandise would soon arrive based on this adorable phenomenon — and now it has.
Ryan Penagos, Marvel’s executive editorial director of digital media, announced Friday via his Twitter account that Funko will release a “Dancing Groot” vinyl bobblehead — he called it the “first” official Dancing Groot toy, implying more may (likely) be on the way — as part of the company’s popular POP! line. This one may not be able to emulate all of Groot’s sweet moves, but it’ll have head-bobbing covered.
Further details — like when these actually will be available — haven’t yet been released, but Funko said to expect an announcement early next week, and that the Dancing Groots will be available in retail stores, not as an online exclusive. The POP! toys — which have encompassed a wide range of licenses from Marvel, DC Comics, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Big Bang Theory and more — are prevalent at both mass-market retailers and feature stores, so it may soon be difficult to escape Dancing Groots.
The Dancing Groot sequence has proven so popular online that Marvel beat pirates to the punch and released the clip on YouTube — where it’s gotten nearly 900,000 views as of press time.
DC Entertainment and Warner Bros.’ year-long celebration of Batman’s 75th anniversary will continue in a big way later this month at Comic-Con International in San Diego, with several of the creators most associated with the character set to appear on the “Batman 75: Legends of the Dark Knight” panel on Thursday, July 24.
Notably, The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One‘s Frank Miller — in a relatively rare appearance at a comics-centric panel — will join fellow Bat-luminaries Grant Morrison, Jim Lee, Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, current Batman team Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, and DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns.
On Saturday, DC will commemorate the Caped Crusader’s storied history in other media, with Batman: The Animated Series vet Paul Dini, longtime Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy, Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet co-writer Ralph Garman and more.
The two panels are something of a bisected version of the treatment DC gave Superman last summer, with a Superman 75th Anniversary panel including folks from both the worlds of comics (Morrison, Dan Jurgen) and movies/television (Henry Cavill, Tim Daly).
Between movies, comic books and TV, Man of Steel screenwriter David S. Goyer has written quite a few superheroes in his career. On the latest episode of the Scriptnotes podcast, he made his feelings for two of them clear — Marvel’s She-Hulk and DC Comics’ Martian Manhunter — and upset quite a few fans in the process.
In an episode recorded last week in front of an audience at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills, Scriptnotes hosts John August and Craig Mazin asked their guests — Goyer, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” screenwriters Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely and “Legend of Conan” writer Andrea Berloff — to play a game where they randomly drew a name of a superhero, and disclosed how they would handle a contemporary film adaptation of that character.
Around 33 minutes into the podcast (full episode here), the conversation moved to She-Hulk, with Markus stating that the character has “the worst, most demeaning character name possible,” due to being presented as only a female adjunct to Hulk. That led to co-host Mazin calling the character “Slut-Hulk,” and Goyer describing her as “pretty chunky” and similar in stature to former WWF performer Chyna. Goyer then elaborated on his thoughts of the character, including describing her as a “giant green porn star.” Here’s the full quote:
Top Cow’s Think Tank special out next week is subtitled “Fun with PTSD,” and series co-creator Matt Hawkins makes it clear in the back matter of the issue that despite what that phrasing might suggest, he’s not making fun of post-traumatic stress disorder. After thoroughly researching the topic for the issue — which sees main character Dr. David Loren helping a SEAL team member with PTSD — he decided to donate 25 cents for each copy sold to the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit dedicated to providing a variety of services to wounded military veterans — including victims of PTSD.
“With Think Tank I’ve done a lot of tongue-in-cheek stuff combined with serious subject matter and this was initially intended to be just another subject I wanted to tackle.” the writer and Top Cow president/COO told ROBOT 6. “Getting into it and seeing 250-pound buff military guys in tears is really hard to watch. The best explanation I can give is that people with PTSD feel kind of lost. They really don’t know what to do and are confused by their mind seemingly turning on them. For many, cognitive behavioral therapy and time will heal the scars on their souls but some will live out their days like that unless science can figure out a way to repair it. With the advances in brain research I think we’ll be making great strides in the very near future.”
Following a round of X-Men-centric Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s commercials that attracted widespread criticism, the latest stop on the Days of Future Past promo train is AXE, the male-targeted grooming brand that for for years marketed its body spray with the overt promise that the user would become cartoonishly irresistible to the opposite sex. Like Carl’s Jr., AXE in the past has been accused of sexist marketing — including a 2012 spot centered on disembodied female breasts — but this commercial plays it pretty straight, with the film’s Havok (Lucas Till) outshining two less impressive mutants in a competition administered by an unnamed character unlikely to be found in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.
It’s all to promote the “AXE Limited Edition X-Men pack,” which can be found in “Phoenix, Dark Temptation, Apollo and Anarchy” varieties, and comes bundled with an “exclusive” Days of Future Past poster.
It’s not the first time AXE and comics have collided: In 2012, the company launched a digital comic, written by Scott Lobdell, to promote the “Anarchy” fragrance line.
Dark Horse Comics is the highest-profile publisher whose digital releases are not available on comiXology, opting instead to use their own platform, Dark Horse Digital. Following Thursday’s news that Amazon has reached an agreement to purchase comiXology for an undisclosed amount, ROBOT 6 reached out to Dark Horse president and founder Mike Richardson for his thoughts on the matter:
“Companies outside our industry have been paying increasing attention to comics in recent years. New technology has offered a variety of new opportunities in both content creation and content delivery. It is not surprising that Amazon and Comixology would come together considering this environment. The comics industry, despite periods of lull, has always been an evolving and changing business, and this move is consistent with that history.”
Already off to a 5-2 start, the San Francisco Giants received an extra boost at their home opener Tuesday afternoon: SF’s own Batkid threw out the first pitch.
— KTVU (@KTVU) April 8, 2014
“For me, above anything else, the quality of my work is imperative. The level of sacrifice required to do this job can only be justified by being proud of its final result. Yet, all my effort as the artist would be insignificant without the care and talent of my most pivotal collaborator; the colorist. By resisting to align its royalties and recognition policy on Marvel, it has become excessively difficult to secure the best colorists for DC projects. In this digital day and age, where often the entire comic visual is a two person operation, it seem aberrant that one of the two won’t receive the royalties or exposure respect they fully deserve. It’s about time we revisit that royalty pie split. And if we find the courage to slaps some annoying last minute advertisement banner on the cover, certainly adding the colorist name there shouldn’t be that challenging.”
– Yanick Paquette, former Swamp Thing artist currently working on Wonder Woman: Earth One, sharing on Facebook part of his response to DC Comics’ recent talent survey.