Real heroes know when to call for back-up. And popular webcomics artist Dean Trippe has done just that in a stunning cross-company pin-up featuring Batman and a young child meeting an ginormous assemblage of heroes from comics, television and movies. The illustration, titled “You’ll Be Safe Here,” is part of a larger project Trippe has been working on after his Oni Press graphic novel Power Lunch with J. Torres. (Full disclosure: I’m a friend of Trippe’s, and we work together on Project: Rooftop, but he didn’t solicit me to write about this.)
The pin-up is startling in the sheer number of familiar faces you see, but also in terms of the wardrobe each wears: The Fantastic Four are there, but in their white Future Foundation garb, alongside the 2099 variation of Spider-Man and the classic ’80s rendition of Transformers‘ Optimus Prime. Trippe thoughtfully documented the process in a short video presentation. And for those at a loss to name every character in the pin-up, Trippe he also provided a guide.
Chris Roberson has been thinking what comic writers are supposed to do in comics. While many creators follow the usual trajectory of creator-owned projects to Marvel or DC, the Portland, Oregon-based writer went from the Big Two and found his true calling, making his own comics and helping others to do the same.
A science fiction author, Roberson was ushered into comics as a colleague and co-writer of Fables creator Bill Willingham. However, Roberson quickly branched out, first with the Vertigo series iZombie, and then as the writer of Superman, putting him in the unenviable position of picking up the pieces after J. Michael Straczynski left midway through his much-heralded run. Although he turned in some great work in his short run on Superman/Batman, Roberson ultimately found DC not the kind of place he wanted to continue working.
With Captain America leading Marvel’s charge into comic stores and movie houses, it’s no surprise that other countries want their own patriotic hero to represent them. British comics writer Chris Bunting and the digital publisher Eco Comics is stepping forward with what it contends is England’s first proper patriotic hero: the Englishman.
What about Captain Britain, you say? Well, according to the press release, Captain Britain “cannot be classed as patriotic: there is, of course, no such country as ‘Britain.’” Britain, or “Great Britain,” refers to the name of the island England sits on, so semantically speaking Eco Comics says a true patriotic hero must have its proper county in his name. Under this definition, Captain Britain falls short … but so would Captain America. America’s a general name for two continents, right?
Semantics aside, the impeding debut of the Englishman sees Bunting and artist Valentin Ramon doing a hero the writer calls “ambitious, dark and controversial.” In addition to the titular star, other English-themed heroes such as Greenbelt and Dry Stone Wall are said to appear.
“I often feel quite envious of the patriotism that so many other countries display, but ‘England’ has almost become a forgotten, even a dirty, word. To paraphrase the historian David Starkey, we should celebrate, and not be ashamed of, England,” Bunting said in a statement. “To help address this, just as the U.S. has its Captain America, I realized that England needed its own patriotic super hero: enter Englishman.”
The release date for The Englishman #1 hasn’t been announced by Eco at presstime, but news of this patriotic hero has already been picked up by mainstream UK TV outlets like Channel 4′s 10 O’Clock Live and The Guardian.
Some people wear their influences on their sleeve, while others absorb it into their own style and, from time to time, shout it from the rooftops.
Jim Rugg is doing the latter in a stunning pin-up he created for the recent Extreme Comics fanzine Rub The Blood. Extreme is the brainchild of Rob Liefeld, whose divisive style earned him legions of fans, including it seems Rugg.
Rugg’s choices for which characters to display from Liefeld’s ouvre runs the gamut from his Marvel co-creation Cable to his creator-owned work like Youngblood‘s Chapel (done in a style reminiscent of Jae Lee’s take on the character) and solo stars Prophet, Bloodstrike: Assassin and Bloodwulf.
To the average comics reader, Joe Casey is the writer behind idiosyncratic creator-owned books like Gødland and Sex and the stellar re-imaginings of corporate-owned superheroes like Wildcats, Superman and the X-Men. But to the pre-teen set, he’s the co-creator of one of the hit kid-friendly animated series Ben 10 and a co-writer of Ultimate Spider-Man and the upcoming Marvel’s Avengers Assemble. With two radically different profiles, the question becomes this: Which is the real Joe Casey? I’d argue it’s both, and more.
Casey got his start in the shifting sands that was Marvel in the late 1990s in the years, filling in on a Wolverine miniseries before quickly stepping in to take over Cable. Much in the same way that character moves back and forth in the time stream, Casey has hopped among titles, genres and companies.
DC Comics has hired a slew of writers and artists in the wake of the New 52; someone has to do all those new books, right? But as you would expect, there are a lot of proposed pairings of creators and projects that were nixed before they saw print.
Earlier this week, Powers artist Michael Avon Oeming revealed artwork he had done for DC when he was in line to illustrate the recently launched Katana. Although DC ultimately went down a more realistic route with artist Alex Sanchez, these two pieces by Oeming are a bittersweet taste of what could’ve been.
Or, “Betty & Veronica & Brandon & Emily.”
Cartoonist Brandon Graham is well known for thinking about the mechanics of comics. Recently, he and fellow cartoonist Emily Carroll went about examining a throw-off five-page Betty & Veronica comic be redoing it in their own styles. The results? Marvelous.
Here’s the first page from each. If you’re enticed, click over to Graham’s blog post containing both full comics as well as the original Betty & Veronica comic they are based on.
We’ve seen all manner of creature and creation in the Star Wars universe, but this is something else.
Subversive woodblock print artist Sean Starwars is showing off a series of Star Wars woodblock prints at the Los Angeles art gallery Coagula Curatorial on May 4, which is both Free Comic Book Day and the unofficial Star Wars fan day “May the Fourth Be With You.” The artist, who legally changed his last name to “Starwars,” is a member of a group called the Outlaw Printmakers, and has taken his passion for George Lucas’ seminal creation and put it down on wood. He will be doing screen-printing live at the event. In addition to Starwars’ work, Coagula Curatorial will also be having Star Wars costume contests, games, screen-printing, puppets and even a comedy show.
Here’s more examples of Starwars’ woodblock prints:
“Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose the former and have seen no reason to change.” — Frank Lloyd Wright
It’s a telling quote, both for Wright and for Eric Stephenson, who used it on the masthead of the personal blog he wrote from 2010 to 2012. The word arrogance may have its negative connotations, but when practiced in a measured way it exudes confidence and pride in your work. Wright had it. Steve Jobs had it. And Stephenson, as a nearly 20-year veteran of comics publishing, and the public face of Image Comics, has it.
And in recent years, Stephenson has a lot to be prideful about. Image has been experiencing its best years since its initial debut with The Walking Dead, Chew and Saga. It hosted an well-received expo last year, and has successfully wooed some of Marvel and DC’s top talent for a return to creator-owned work. Stephenson, the company’s publisher, also has finally been able to return to his neglected passion for writing with Nowhere Men, a collaboration with artist Nate Bellegarde.
Although best known for his work behind the scenes — he’ll mark his fifth year as publisher of Image in July — Stephenson has written comics for Rob Liefeld’s Maximum Press, Marvel and DC, not to mention his creator-owned titles.
In February we spoke to Nowhere Men artist Nate Bellegarde, and now we turn to Stephenson to discuss the series, and his past work, but also to delve into his publishing duties — specifically, headhunting talent, finding a place for Image in digital comics, and separating the company from the crowd.
Last year an enterprising trio of comic creators had an idea for a comic series populated with sky pirates, dusty airships and floating cities. Sounds like a crazy idea, but they’re now going at full speed thanks to a little kickstart.
Coming this June from IDW Publishing, Wild Blue Yonder is created by the uber-talented artist Zach Howard and writers Mike Raicht and Austin Harrison. The story is best summed up by the press release: “When land and sea have become deadly and uninhabitable, the intrepid survivors of ecological disaster must take to the skies; to the Wild Blue Yonder.”
In the comic, the fractured remnants of human civilization fight over the last vestiges of precious resources — both in food and shelter, but also in fuel to keep their vessels aloft and away from the spoiled ground below. The largest and most enviable on Earth is an airship called the Dawn that runs on a combination of solar, hydrogen and magnetic energy — making it untethered from the needs of fuel that other platforms need to say afloat. With that, the Dawn is a prized commodity, not just for its owners and inhabitants, but for any of the more scurrilous lot left living on this planet — namely, pirates. But the one thing standing between humanity’s best hope of survival and certain doom is a female pilot named Cola, and her dog Critter.
Announced last year at Comic-Con International, Wild Blue Yonder used Kickstarter to raise more than $16,000 for the creators to devote their time exclusively to finishing their project in a timely manner. Unlike most creator-owned work, where creators only see money months or sometimes years after the book is published, Wild Blue Yonder utilized Kickstarter to mitigate that financially precarious scenario and devote the much-needed time to finish the five issues in a relatively short time.
IDW has provided an extensive preview of the first issue, which arrives June 12. If you’re interested in more, CBR interviewed Raicht in November.
In a ravaged world where the things you fear have been overtaken by fear itself, it’s a particularly bad time to be living. In the upcoming comic The Family, by Nick Percival, fear and other feelings have taken on physical form with literal Panic Attacks, Rage Storms and a Flood of Tears. And amid this nearly indescribable carnage, four stray survivors find comfort in each other and fall into roles as old as time: Father, Mother, Son and Daughter. They are the Family.
“The Family deals with a lot of themes I’ve always wanted to explore, particularly the extreme effects of different emotions and how they affect people,” Percival told ROBOT 6. “But I thought if I could set it in a world where every emotion and bad feeling actually exists as creature like entities, able to infect people and spread these feelings of rage, guilt, fear, panic, deceit, malice, etc., it would be a very interesting and very visual place to form a graphic novel series.”
The Family is the first interior comics work for Percival in almost three years, after his graphic novel Legends: The Enchanted. He’s primarily known for his startling realistic and gruesome twisted cover work for 2000AD, IDW’s Judge Dredd series and Clive Barker’s Hellraiser series, and the quality of his lushly illustrated painted work is a rare sight in comics these days.
But Percival is bringing this new series out simultaneously in France and the United States. U.S. readers will see it in a fall issue of Heavy Metal with a collection in 2014, while French readers can buy the graphic novel later this year from Nickel Editions.
Percival has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive look at the first eight pages of the series:
Have you ever met the Zoons? If not, you’re missing out.
Zoons is a term used for aliens in the long out-of-print Eclipse Comics series Zooniverse by Fil Barlow. The short-lived comic was published in the mid-’80s, and followed an eclectic group of aliens as they traipse to and fro in a space station known as the Hub. The title showcased Barlow’s impressive and exuberant cartooning skills but, for one reason or another, it wasn’t able to gain a foothold in the comics market. But now, more than 25 years later, it’s coming back.
Barlow is returning to Zooniverse after years working in animation on the likes of Alf, Extreme Ghostbusters, Igor and Tutenstein, re-publishing the long out-of-print original series and selling it on his website, as well as offering various minicomics and primordial versions of the series he created before it made its official debut at Eclipse. Barlow’s currently working on new Zooniverse material in both comic and animated form, so 2013 looks to be a great year to be a Zoon (or be a fan of one).
Comics are art, never forget that. And while epic storytelling has been the staple of serialized comics for decades, it’s the art that makes these comics … well, comics. And a long-time devotee of the more esoteric and outsider veins of comic art is now putting it under one roof with a new publishing house called Youth in Decline.
Described on its Twitter page as “a publisher of lovely and strange comics & zines,” Youth in Decline is a new boutique publisher headed by Ryan Sands of the blog Same Hat, a proponent of comics zine culture and underground manga. Sands worked behind the scenes in comics for years, editing and translating manga for Last Gasp as well publishing zines like Electric Ant, the anthology Thickness and Prison For Bitches with Michael DeForge. The first publication coming from Sands’ Youth in Decline is an ongoing anthology series titled Frontier, with each issue devoted to a single artist.
Unpredictability. For some people that’s a negative trait, but in comics it can be advantageous.
Justin Gray is unpredictable, in a good way. While some writers fall into the trap of working within one genre or one flavor of story, Gray has quietly created one of the most diverse bibliographies in comics with his frequent collaborator Jimmy Palmiotti. He’s done superheroes for DC Comics and Marvel, including a celebrated run on Power Girl. He’s written a variety of creator-owned work, from the early 21 Down and The Resistance at DC/Wildstorm to more biting, adult fare like Random Acts of Violence and the recently released Sex & Violence. He’s also become an in-demand writer of comic-centric video games, working on DC’s Injustice: Gods Among Us, Mortal Kombat vs. The DC Universe and others.
Oh, yeah, and he and Palmiotti helped to prevent Jonah Hex from becoming a footnote in comics history.
While other writers like Grant Morrison and Brian Michael Bendis might soak up most of the spotlight, Gray is quietly able to jump from one project, genre or medium to the next.
When you think of comics, do you imagine a certain style of artwork? Not specific to just one artist, but perhaps in a more general way of drawing lines and shapes, or composing a page. But what if the comic isn’t a drawing at all?
Seth Kushner‘s limited-edition Force Field Fotocomix Vol. 1 forces readers to re-imagine the boundaries of comics with the use of photography to tell his story in place of illustration. Although photo-based comics have a long history in Europe, in America they’re rare. But if anyone can make photo-comics work in America, it’s Kushner. In my interview with Kushner last year, he admitted he continually fights a resistance to seeing photography comics as comics.