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Top Shelf’s Staros gets stuck in Winter Storm Leon

Alone Forever (Top Shelf)--Granted Staros was not alone in trying to get home TuesdayAs a lifelong Georgia resident, I can verify the state is relatively sedate for most of the year. However, this week, Winter Storm Leon blew into town and threw a monkey wrench in the lives of metro Atlanta residents as well as its myriad outlying cities/suburbs, which include Marietta, location of the editorial office of Top Shelf Productions.

As Publisher Chris Staros wrote on his Facebook page, he found himself amid the Interstate-75 chaos of gridlocked people trying to get home on Tuesday afternoon. To a certain extent, he considers himself one of the lucky ones, as he was able to exit the interstate and make his way down non-pretreated back roads to Marietta’s Hilton Hotel. That’s where he hunkered down for the next two days.

“A 2-day survival party commenced at the bar, and a good time was had by all my new friends who weathered the storm with me,” he wrote. “My heart goes out to all the people who had to sleep in their cars over night, or abandon them, or who got in wrecks, as it was a cold cold night, and a disaster all around. In any event, home safe and sound … and if you ever want to know what it’s like to ride a glacier, you can ask me. As, now I know!”

ROBOT 6 contacted Staros to make sure it was OK to recount his experience for readers. While catching up with him, it also proved a good chance to find out what’s on the horizon for the ever-busy publisher.

Staros noted that Feb. 5 marks the release of Liz Prince’s Alone Forever, a 104-page softcover graphic novel about her single life. Top Shelf has posted an eight-page preview of the book.


IDW Publishing to launch ‘Angry Birds’ comics

angry birds comics

Angry Birds, Rovio Entertainment’s blockbuster mobile game turned multimedia sensation, will continue its global conquest of pop culture in June, when IDW Publishing launches a comics adaptation by such creators as Jeff Parker and Paul Tobin.

“We’re very happy to be in business with Rovio on Angry Birds comics,” IDW Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall said in a statement. “Rovio has taken what was once a captivating game and built it into an interesting world filled with interesting and, uh, feathered characters who will make a perfect addition to our growing line of fun, all-ages comics.”

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Action Lab unveils 2014 publishing lineup

action lab-tomboy

Action Lab Entertainment has announced a 2014 publishing slate that includes something darker from Princeless artist Mia Goodwin, rural horror from Jeremy Holt and Alex Diotto, and sci-fi action from James Patrick and Carlos Trigo.

The descriptions and cover art can be found below.

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Dark Horse editor finds bright spot in loss of ‘Star Wars’ license

star wars omnibusWhile it was certainly inevitable, Friday’s announcement that Dark Horse will lose the Star Wars license after more than two decades to Disney-owned Marvel nonetheless left many longtime readers dismayed, to say the least. To those fans, Dark Horse Vice President of Publishing Randy Stradley points out a silver lining: “[If] Dark Horse must lose the license, this is probably a good time for it.”

“From my perspective, the upcoming films will mean less freedom to do what we at Dark Horse have always done best: expanding the universe,” Stradley, who has served as senior editor of the Star Wars line since 2002, wrote Sunday on his Facebook page. “With a new film scheduled every year, and a new television series, it is likely that there will be a lot of comics pages devoted to adaptations and direct spin-off stories in support of the films and TV shows. That’s not where my interests lie, and it has never been Dark Horse’s strong suit. That would be too much like real work to me. Probably, the coming years will be a great time to be a Star Wars fan (especially a *new* Star Wars fan), and I hope you all enjoy the ride, but I think I’m going to be glad to not be in the mix.”

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Christmas is over, but the comics deals continue

mm25-official-complete-works-2Although the United States has never really embraced the Boxing Day tradition, Americans do like a good sale. So it’s lucky for comics fans the world over that a handful of publishers are offering some post-Christmas deals.

• Dark Horse Digital continues its “2013 #1s Sale” through Dec. 29, with the debut issues of such titles as The Black Beetle: No Way Out, B.P.R.D.: Vampire, Itty Bitty Hellboy and Star Wars available for download for 99 cents.

• DC Entertainment is offering digital versions of its 25 essential graphic novelsAll-Star Superman, Batman: Year One and the first volumes of The Sandman, American Vampire and Y: The Last Man, among them — for $5.99 each through Jan. 2.

• At comiXology, you can find the digital collection of the entire Locke & Key series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez for $44.99 (or half price on nearly all of the individual issues and volumes) through Dec. 29. Also: Marvel NOW! titles are available for 99 cents each through Jan. 2.

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Art Baltazar and Franco team for Dark Horse’s holiday card

dark horse christmas1

Dark Horse took a rather novel approach with its holiday card this year, turning to Art Baltazar and Franco of Tiny Titans and Itty Bitty Hellboy fame to create not just a card but an unfolding comic, with cameos ranging from Darth Vader and Battlepug to the Mask and Publisher Mike Richardson.

See the rest of the card/comic below.

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Brevoort: Traditional numbering is ‘comfort food and nostalgia at best’

daredevil1Although superhero comics fans typically react to series relaunches with howls of derision, there’s little arguing with the sales numbers: Somebody is buying all of those new No. 1 issues. Just ask Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice president of publishing.

Responding to a loaded question on his Formspring account — “Why is Marvel terrified, no dare I say PETRIFIED, of having a book reach more than 15 issues before getting reset to issue number 1?” –  Brevoort explains, “We’re not terrified, nay PETRIFIED, of any such thing. But neither are we living in the past.”

“The number is there to serve a function, but it has no intrinsic value in and of itself,” he continues. “It’s comfort food and nostalgia at best. On this, we follow what you and your fellow readers do more than what you say. We hear complaints about renumbering every time we do it, but every time we do it it results in higher sales, which is the whole ballgame — so if it were your time and your effort, what would you do?”

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Bill Jemas joins game company Take-Two to start comics imprint

bill-profileBill Jemas, best known for his eventful stint as Marvel’s president, has a new gig: launching “graphic fiction imprint” at video game publisher Take-Two Interactive Software.

While no further details about the imprint have been revealed, there are plenty of high-profile games on the roster of Take-Two, the parent company of both Rockstar Games (Grand Theft Auto, Max Payne) and 2K Games (BioShock, Borderlands). Ruwan Jayatilleke, Marvel’s former associate publisher, joined Take-Two earlier this year.

It wouldn’t be the first time Take-Two properties have gotten the comic book treatment: Marvel Custom Solutions published a Max Payne 3 comic in 2012, and IDW Publishing released Borderlands: Origins that same year.

Jemas was president of consumer products, publishing and new media for Marvel from 2000 to 2003, a time of notable change that saw the publisher drop the Comics Code Authority seal, launch its Ultimate and MAX imprints, introduce acclaimed runs like Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s New X-Men and receive national attention for books like the Rawhide Kid miniseries, which depicted the long-running Western hero as gay.

Something of a controversial figure at the time, Jemas also wrote the Marville series, part of the “U-Decide” competition. His era as Marvel president corresponded with the start of Joe Quesada’s long tenure of editor-in-chief, with their newsworthy moves documented in the 2002 Marvel publication Bill & Joe’s Marvelous Adventure.

Miller’s “Xerxes” won’t be done in time for “300″ movie sequel

"Xerxes" lithograph, by Frank Miller

“Xerxes” lithograph, by Frank Miller

Frank Miller has yet to finish work on Xerxes, his long-discussed follow-up to 300, meaning Dark Horse won’t be able to release the comic in time for the March-premiering 300: Rise of an Empire.

What’s more, ICv2.com reports no progress has been made on the planned five-issue (previously six-issue) miniseries since March 2011, when Dark Horse CEO Mike Richardson told the website Miller had completed the second issue.

With the 2007 release of director Zack Snyder’s 300, sales of the collected edition soared, propelling the 1998 book to the top of bestseller lists and leading Dark Horse to order two 50,000-copy printings to meet demand.

While Snyder’s film was a direct adaptation of the comic by Miller and Lynn Varley, even replicating its imagery, it’s unclear how close Rise of an Empire hews to the plot of Xerxes, which the writer had described as “a sweeping tale with gods of monsters” centering on the Battle of Artemisium (it’s a naval engagement that occurred at the same time as the Battle of Thermopylae).

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SelfMadeHero snags Black Francis’ ‘The Good Inn’

good innLondon indie publisher SelfMadeHero has acquired the U.K. and Commonwealth rights to The Good Inn, a book written by Pixies frontman Black Francis and the band’s biographer Josh Frank, and illustrated by cartoonist Steven Appleby.

Set for release in May, The Good Inn is described as “a fantastical piece of illustrated fiction based on a yet-to-be-written soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t yet exist, which Black Francis has approached with the same characteristic eccentricity and imagination he writes a song. The teenage hero known only as Soldier Boy escapes a devastating explosion at the French port of Toulon and sets out on a bizarre journey across France. Navigating past homicidal gypsies, combative soldiers and porn-peddling peasants, he takes refuge in a secluded inn, where he finds himself center stage in the making of the world’s first narrative pornographic film.”

In July, the Pixies released “Bagboy,” its first new material in nearly a decade, shortly after it was announced bassist Kim Deal had left the band. She was replaced by Kim Shattuck, who, it turns out, has already split with the group.

PictureBox to close doors on Dec. 31

infomaniacsPictureBox, the influential Brooklyn-based publisher of such titles as 1-800 MICE, Cold Heat and Powr Mastrs, announced it will no longer release new books after the end of the year. Its final title will be Matthew Thurber’s Infomaniacs.

“This was not an easy decision, but the company is no longer feasible for me as a thoroughgoing venture,” owner Dan Nadel wrote this morning on the company’s website. “Change is, as the cliché goes, a good thing, and I am proud of PictureBox the idea and the company, and grateful to the many artists I’ve worked with over the years. I’ve been publishing since 2000, and without such an astounding array of loyal and talented people PictureBox would be nothing. Some of my closest friends were made while working on PictureBox projects.”

Nadel offers more details in an interview with The Comics Reporter, where he explains the decision to shutter PictureBox was a personal one rather than a financial one; the company remained viable.

Current titles will remain available through the PictureBox website. Nadel is also holding a 50-percent-off sale through Jan. 2 on all books, prints, posters and more.

Storm warning: Wildstorm wanes in DC’s New 52 era

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When DC Comics relaunched its superhero titles in 2011 with the New 52, one of the effects was the integration of characters from the former Wildstorm imprint into the DC Universe. Those Wildstorm heroes had a good showing in Flashpoint and in the New 52′s debut titles, but by way of attrition, their presence soon dwindled.

After already seeing series like Voodoo, Grifter,Team 7 and the Wildstorm-esque Ravagers canceled, today we learned that Stormwatch will end in April with Issue 30. It gives a little bit of time for recently hired series writer Jim Starlin to wrap up, but its cancellation is another bad sign for fans of Wildstorm.

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Fantagraphics surpasses its $150,000 Kickstarter goal

young romance 2With 23 days left in a Kickstarter campaign to fund its spring/summer season of books, Fantagraphics has already surpassed its initial $150,000 goal.

“We literally are stunned by the support you have shown in less than four days,” Publisher Gary Groth wrote Monday in a Kickstarter update, “it’s incredible and we humbly thank you.”

As he explained last week to Comic Book Resources, the effort came in the wake of the illness and death earlier this year of co-founder Kim Thompson, which led 13 of the books he edited to be canceled or postponed. That amounted to the loss of about one-third of the spring/summer season, and a significant financial blow to the publisher. The Kickstarter is designed to help Fantagraphics finance the next season of books — 39 in all.

With that $150,000 goal now met, Fantagraphics is expanding the number of premiums. The campaign ends Dec. 5.

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Vertigo debuts ‘The Sandman: Overture’ television spot

sandman-overture-tv-spot

Vertigo has debuted the television commercial for The Sandman: Overture, the new miniseries by Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams III.  The DC Comics imprint is billing the comic as “the first new Sandman story in 17 years,” which seems to overlook the 2003 graphic novel The Sandman: Endless Nights.

There’s no word yet as to where the ad will air, but last year’s Before Watchmen campaign was in heavy rotation on IFC, BBC America and (the now-defunct) G4.

The Sandman: Overture #1 was released Oct. 30.

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Cover, details revealed for ‘Nemo: The Roses of Berlin’

Nemo: The Roses of Berlin

Nemo: The Roses of Berlin

Back in April Alan Moore told Padraig O. Mealoid that he was almost finished with the follow-up to Nemo: Heart of Ice. Titled Nemo: The Roses of Berlin, the graphic novel follows the further adventures of Janni Nemo, daughter of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen member Captain Nemo, as she takes over the family business (and submarine).

Thanks to Forbidden Planet, we now have some additional details on Roses of Berlin, including a cover, a release date and solicitation text:

“From The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen! Sixteen years ago, notorious science-brigand Janni Nemo journeyed into the frozen reaches of Antarctica to resolve her father’s weighty legacy in a storm of madness and loss, barely escaping with her Nautilus and her life. Now it is 1941, and with her daughter strategically married into the family of aerial warlord Jean Robur, Janni’s raiders have only limited contact with the military might of the clownish German-Tomanian dictator Adenoid Hynkel. But when the pirate queen learns that her loved ones are held hostage in the nightmarish Berlin, she has no choice save to intervene directly, traveling with her aging lover Broad Arrow Jack into the belly of the beastly metropolis. Within that alienated city await monsters, criminals, and legends, including the remaining vestiges of Germany’s notorious ‘Twilight Heroes’, a dark Teutonic counterpart to Mina Murray’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. And waiting at the far end of this gauntlet of alarming adversaries there is something much, much worse.”

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