I first became aware of colorist Steve Downer due to his work on MonkeyBrain Comics’ Edison Rex. But as I quickly learned, he serves as colorist on a variety of projects, as well as artist on Dracula the Unconquered. Given the variety of Downer’s projects, I thought it would be insightful to discuss his craft with him.
Tim O’Shea: How long have you been a colorist?
Steve Downer: I’ve been working full-time as a colorist since 2009, though I started coloring as a side job much earlier, in 2007, while I worked as a T-shirt graphic designer.
Publishing | ICv2 notes the near absence of DC Comics and Marvel on the August BookScan chart, which tracks sales in bookstores. There were no Marvel titles in the Top 20, and the four DC titles — Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, Batman: The Killing Joke and V for Vendetta — were all evergreens, not new releases. Particularly noticeable by their absence were any volumes of Wolverine or Kick-Ass, properties with movies released in July and August, respectively. What’s hot? Attack on Titan, apparently, with two volumes charting and Volume 1, which was released more than a year ago, getting stronger every month — which means new readers are finding the series now. Curiously, the series is not selling well in comics shops, perhaps because retailers simply aren’t ordering it. Eight of the top 20 volumes were manga, including the top seller, the 62nd volume of Naruto. Chart mainstay The Walking Dead placed four books, including the nine-year-old first volume. [ICv2]
Comic-Con International continued to reveal the programming schedule for San Diego as they rolled out the panels and events scheduled for Saturday, July 20.
The third day brings panels from Skybound, BOOM!, Archaia, Top Shelf, Fantagraphics, Drawn + Quarterly, Top Cow, Archie, Action Lab Entertainment, IDW and Rebellion, Dark Horse, Image Comics, Valiant and Lion Forge Comics, the makers of those Saved by the Bell and Knight Rider comics that are coming soon. DC has panels dedicated to Green Lantern, Superman’s 75th anniversary, Sandman and Batman: Year Zero, while Marvel has panels on Infinity, their video games, animation slate and their movies, which include Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (no doubt they’ll have a little more than that). In what is likely his first trip to Comic-Con, Congressman John Lewis will be on hand to talk about his book from Top Shelf, March.
You’ll also find spotlight panels on Russ Heath, Sam Kieth, Val Mayerik, Vera Brosgol, John Romita Jr., Jon Bogdanove, Jim Lee, George Perez, Gerry Conway, Frank Brunner, Roy Thomas and Paul Dini, as well as a tribute to Joe Kubert. The day wraps up with the annual CCI Masquerade.
Check out some of the comics-related highlights below, and visit the Comic-Con website for the full schedule:
At some point I heard Joe Grahn and Carl Yonder’s Pirate Eye described as “pirate noir,” and for me, the words suggested a mash-up of Pirates of the Caribbean and The Maltese Falcon. I figured it must take place in a fantasy world where fedoras and jazz lived side by side with cutlasses and lace. That would be fun concept, appropriate to the silly title, but I’m grateful to have been wrong about it.
Despite the pun, Pirate Eye is a comic that deserves to be taken seriously. It’s set in the real world during the historical age of piracy, and there’s nothing goofy about it. The main character Smitty is a former buccaneer who now uses his talents for good – or at least, legal – purposes. As he explains it, there’s not a lot of difference between seeking out treasure to take it from someone, and finding it on that person’s behalf. The big distinction is that Smitty gets paid for the latter instead of risking the gallows. Using that premise, Grahn and Yonder will be able to tell all sorts of noir-ish detective stories in the seedy streets of a Caribbean town.
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.
Here’s the thing: I really can’t decide if I want to spend part of my $15 this week on Before Watchmen: Minutemen #1 (DC, $3.99). On the one hand, it’s a new Darwyn Cooke comic, and on almost every other occasion, I’d be all over that. But on the other … It’s Before Watchmen. And I don’t even mean that in the “I have moral qualms about DC’s ‘ownership’ and use of the characters” sense — although I do — but in the “I didn’t actually LIKE Watchmen that much, so why should I be interested in a prequel?” sense. Let’s table that one, then, and wait and see what happens in the store. Instead, I’ll grab Earth 2 #2 (DC, $2.99), the new Simon Spurrier book Extermination #1 (BOOM!, $1) and the weirdly-coming-out-a-month-before-the-movie Amazing Spider-Man Movie Adaptation #1 (Marvel, $2.99), if only because it’s been years since I’ve read a comic book adaptation of a movie and I want to support Marvel’s odd apparently-spoiling-itself plan.
If I had $30, I’d put Spidey back on the shelf and grab the final DMZ collection (Vol. 12: The Five Nations of New York, DC $14.99). I’ve been following the collections of Brian Wood’s series for awhile, and have been patiently awaiting this one since the series wrapped in single issues awhile back. Don’t spoil it for me, please.
Splurge-wise, I’d likely pick up the GI Joe, Vol. 2: Cobra Command, Part 1 TP (IDW, $17.99). The movie may have been put back, but I don’t care; IDW’s Joe comics are my brand of military machismo, and I dropped off the single issues in favor of collections as soon as this crossover started. Time to get caught back up and try not to think about poor Channing Tatum.
Mention the word “Crisis” to a comics fan and the next thing that springs to mind is time-traveling, continuity-bending, cape-wearing antics on an epic scale. But what if it’s all sent in an economy-size flat?
In Action Lab‘s Space-Time Condominium, writer/artist Dave Dwonch pairs Crisis On Infinite Earths with Three’s Company as one man tries to live with four alternate reality versions of himself. With a mysterious figure known only as the Gatekeeper pulling the strings like some sort of Anti-Monitor version of Mr. Roper, this guy — Griffin Griffins — has to deal with four more Griffin Griffins. (Four Griffinses?)
The upstart company Action Lab is releasing this as a limited edition book, with all 500 copies hand-numbered and signed by Dwonch. It’s the latest in the publisher’s “Signature Series” showcasing up-and-coming talent with their first major work on comic shelves.