Action Lab Comics
Jeremy Whitley’s Princeless is the story readers they want: a kid-friendly tale of a strong girl who defies authority and has swashbuckling adventures. Centering on Adrienne, a princess who breaks out of her tower, befriends the dragon who is supposed to be guarding her, and heads off to rescue her sister princesses, it’s funny and well written, and it was nominated for two Eisner Awards, best publication for kids (8-12) and best single issue (for Issue 3, which sends up superheroine costumes). Yet its small-press origins and limited distribution meant that it took a while to reach its audience.
Now publisher Action Lab comics is reissuing Princeless, first in single-issue format (starting with Issue 1), and then with a new Vol. 1. After that, the publisher will focus on new content. I spoke with Whitley, who also handles publicity for Action Labs, about why he wrote Princeless and why he is reissuing the series. (Jeremy’s essay on women and comics is also well worth a read.)
Coming up this weekend at Emerald City Comicon, writer Paul Allor (Table G-01) will have advance copies of the first issue of Strange Nation, his new Action Lab Comics miniseries with artist Juan Romera. The book’s premise is straightforward: Norma Park is a journalist who finds herself out of work after claiming to uncover a story involving Sasquatch, aliens and mad scientists. Her insistence at delving deeper into this story is when the real fun begins. In addition to offering an advance copy of the first issue this weekend, Allor will also make it available for Fabletown and Beyond (March 22-24, 2013, in Rochester, Minnesota). The full miniseries will hit stands in late 2013 in comic stores and through digital distribution outlets. In anticipation of ECCC, Allor joined me for a brief interview, and provided ROBOT 6 with a five-page previews.
Tim O’Shea: How long has Strange Nation been in development, and what prompted you to tap Juan Romera as the artist?
Paul Allor: I probably started working on the pitch for Strange Nation a little more than a year ago. Juan was the first person I had in mind for the art, having worked with him previously on “Reach the Sun.” one of the stories in my Clockwork comics anthology (which Robot 6 interviewed Allor about in 2011). Juan is awesome at both the wacky, out-there aspects of the book, and also at nailing the small emotional moments. I thought this book would be a great place to showcase both sides of that.
Free Comic Book Day is May 5, and most of the lineup was announced earlier this year. So I was intrigued when Action Lab Comics revealed this week that it’s releasing a digital FCBD comic. While it’s not unusual for artists to jump on the FCBD bandwagon by releasing digital comics on that day, this is the first time I have seen a publisher do it (readers: I know you will feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), and the first time I have seen a digital comic with the FCBD logo on the front. So I went straight to the source and asked Action Lab President Shawn Pryor just what was up with this. Here’s what he had to say.
Robot 6: Why did you decide to go with a digital format rather than print?
Shawn Pryor: Well, we’ve been in the direct market for a year or so, and by the time we noticed that Free Comic Book Day was approaching we completely missed the deadline to submit a book to Diamond for the event. It was then that we decided to do our own thing and make a massive 200-page Free Comic Book Day digital comic (Action Lab Confidential). In doing this, we can get this book into the hands of new readers or readers who have been wanting to check out the diverse line of books that we have to offer and/or coming out to brick-and-mortar stores soon.
Have you ever played video games so much that you think you’re in one? In May, a new comic series from Action Lab called Double Jumpers follow a group of friends who get stuck inside their characters in a video game, and see those characters take over their human bodies.
Coming from writer Dave Dwonch and artist Bill Blankenship, Double Jumpers promises a mature readers-only take on this video game switcheroo. The people at the center of it are a group of programmers marooned in their video game identities while on a trip to a huge convention in Las Vegas. As much fun and intrigue the hijinks inside their video game might be, it’s only doubled when you think about video game personas coming to life inside a convention.
Action Lab also plans to release the comic simultaneously in print and digitally on Graphicly, Kindle, Kobo, Nook, the Apple Bookstore, Google books as well as other outlets.
Here’s a six-page preview of this four-issue limited series set to debut in May.