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Once in a while, when I go into the comics shop to snag my weekly pile, there will be something on the shelf that catches totally unaware. On Oct. 2, I was delighted to discover the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s Liberty Annual 2013 (published by Image Comics). Given that all the proceeds from the book (previewed here at CBR) benefit the CBLDF, I wanted to interview Dark Horse Editor-in-Chief Scott Allie, who directed the project. While I had his attention, I couldn’t pass up the chance to discuss some of the Dark Horse line as well.
Tim O’Shea: While seemingly an obvious question, I still think it worth asking: Why is it so important to you to volunteer your time for a project like the CBLDF Liberty Annual?
Scott Allie: Free speech is a near and dear cause, for me and for Dark Horse, and it’s still an uphill battle for comics. There are preconceptions about this art form that invite attacks, and we need to work to defend against that. I want creators and publishers to be free to put out what they want to put out, and for retailers to sell it without fear of prosecution, for readers to travel with their books without fear of incarceration. The CBLDF isn’t just about raising money in court cases. They’re about educating the population about the art form we love, and I want to be a part of that.
We’re living in a “Lil’ Golden Age,” as publishers have discovered the genius of comics creators Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani.
After showing off their trademark style on the DC heroes in comics like Tiny Titans and Superman Family Adventures, the duo has been tapped to create fun new versions of Hellboy and Battlestar Galactica. The collaborators also have their own line of original characters, following a successful Kickstarter project.
The kid-friendly designs they’ve applied to comics also work pretty well as plush toys, something Dark Horse is jumping all over it introduces plush versions of Itty Bitty Hellboy and Abe Sapien.
No word yet on when you’ll be able to cuddle with Mike Mignola’s signature creations, but Tomopop can show you what they’ll look like.
Abe Sapien had a rough 2012, having spent much of the year in a coma. But 2013 doesn’t look to be any easier for the B.P.R.D. agent — as it’s set to be both dark and terrible.
“He’d spent some time out of action as a field agent, and then got back involved in time to see Liz Sherman ignite the center of the world, releasing monsters and all sorts of other problems across the surface of the earth,” Dark Horse Editor-in-Chief Scott Allie said about Abe’s activities pre-coma. “He and the rest of the B.P.R.D. crew launched into action, fighting monsters all over, and eventually Abe was taken out by a young psychic girl during a mission in Texas. Since Abe’s been in the coma, in a life-support cocoon, his body has been changing …”
His story will continue with Abe Sapien: The Dark and Terrible, a new series written by Mike Mignola and Allie and illustrated by Sebastian Fiumara (Loki, Mystery in Space). Debuting April 3, the comic is the first issue of a “maxi-series” that will follow Abe as he travels across America, on the run from the B.P.R.D., as monsters continue to wreak havoc on the country — and as his own body continues to change in frightening ways.
I spoke with co-writer Allie about this new chapter in Abe’s story, and what it’s like to collaborate with Mignola.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.
It is, thankfully, the last week of September which means that, if I had $15, I only have one more week of new launches from DC to pick out potential favorites, Sophie’s Choice-style. This week: Aquaman #1, Flash #1, Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Men #1, Justice League Dark #1 and Superman #1 make the cut (All DC, all $2.99 each).
If I had the chance to add some more money to take that total to $30, I’d go for some Marvel books: Brian Michael Bendis gets well-represented with Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #2 ($3.99); New Avengers #16.1 ($2.99), his “new readers jump on” issue with art by Neal Adams; and Brilliant #1 ($3.99), his new creator-owned book with Mark Bagley. Here’s hoping I’m in a suitably Bendis-y mood when I read all of these ones.
Splurgewise, it has to be Habibi (Pantheon, $35), Craig Thompson’s new graphic novel. I know a few people who’ve had a chance to read it already, and everyone has made it sound like a large leap ahead from Blankets, and something almost worth the many-year wait it’s been since his breakthrough last book. I’m really looking forward to this one.
One of the fringe benefits to going to a convention is seeing some of the best artists in comics bust out some quick sketches of fan-favorite characters and some of their own. Robot 6 friend Mark Kardwell passed along some pictures of Hellboy artist Duncan Fegredo’s work at last weekend’s KAPOW! convention — and boy, do they live up to the convention’s name.
Rush over to Kardwell’s website to see a photo of Fegredo hard at work on some sketches, and a peek at the portfolio he brings with him to cons.
It’s the end of an era. B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth: Gods #3 hits stores today, the final issue of the long-running Hellboy spinoff’s latest miniseries — and with it, the tenure of Guy Davis as the series’ regular artist draws to a close. Davis will be returning for the occasional project in Mike Mignola’s unique horror-adventure universe, and everyone involved gives his replacement, near-overnight success story Tyler Crook, their vote of confidence; given Mignola and company’s track record in selecting artists, from Davis to Duncan Fegredo to Richard Corben, I’m inclined to take them at their word. Even so, as I wrote at length the other day, Davis’ work on B.P.R.D with Mignola, lead writer John Arcudi, and colorist Dave Stewart (not to mention letterer Clem Robins and editor Scott Allie) has been one of the past decade’s absolute high-water marks for superhero (or supernatural action, if you prefer) comics. From sadness to spectacle, horror to humor, stunning creature designs to quiet character moments, there was pretty much nothing the guy couldn’t do.
In honor of Davis, Arcudi, Mignola, and Stewart’s remarkable achievement, I’ve selected a suite of my favorite moments from the Guy Davis era of B.P.R.D.. And in honor of the Ogdru Jahad, the Seven-Who-Are-One dark gods whose rise the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense is battling (perhaps in vain) to stop, I’ve expanded the list past our usual “Six by 6″ format to include seven stunning scenes. My hope is that they showcase the range, subtlety, sophistication, and power of one of the best artists working in genre comics — arguably in all of comics — today, and highlight just how well he and his collaborators worked together. Just be warned: SPOILERS AHEAD.