Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
In what other medium can a someone get an original work of art made just for them by a creator whose career they’ve followed? Not movies, television, music or fine art, unless you’re a millionaire. But in comics, many of today’s artists are for hire to fans looking to own a piece of their work — and even commission something especially for them. Comics are crazy that way, but that’s a good thing.
It’s nothing new, of course. The idea itself goes back into the roots of fine art, but with the advent of conventions and now the internet it’s available to virtually everyone — with some creators even reaching out to fans to make it happen.
Following events like last year’s ImageCon and MorrisonCon, Fabletown and Beyond is the most recent comic convention devoted to serving a specific segment of readers: in this case, fans of what Fables creator Bill Willingham describes as “Mythic Fiction.” Fabletown and Beyond takes place this weekend in Willingham’s community of Rochester, Minnesota, and celebrates comics that include and update “fairytales, folklore, myth, legend, talking animals, and characters from literature.”
The festivities begin at 3 p.m. Friday and run practically non-stop until 6 p.m. Sunday. Programming is scheduled to go late into the evening on Friday and Saturday with the convention’s bar (an even more important element of this convention than most) staying open until 2 a.m.
The convention will take place in two locations, connected by skyways to allow attendees protection from the Minnesota weather. The dealers’ area, Artist
Alley Boulevard, and programming rooms will be located in in the Mayo Civic Center, with the opening ceremony and other special events held in the Kahler Grand Hotel. The hotel is also the location of the Elizabethan bar (re-named the Kill Shakespeare Bar for the weekend) that will be taken over for the exclusive use of the convention.
Man, oh, man, is Brian Stelfreeze great.
Sometimes comic fans might forget that, as he isn’t the type to do regular interior work. But when he does, nine times out of 10 it’s a home run — like this pin-up of X-Statix heroine U-Go Girl. This piece, posted on ComicArtFans by its new owner Louie La Palombara III, is a good example of the kind of work artists like Stelfreeze are doing for the original art market that most fans never even see.
DC Comics has updated its New Frontiersman promotional website with a first, albeit small, look at interior artwork from Before Watchmen, the sprawling prequel to the seminal 1986 miniseries by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. The portfolio, featuring art by the likes of Lee Bermejo, Amanda Conner, Darwyn Cooke, Adam Hughes, J.G. Jones and Jae Lee, was shown Thursday at the Diamond Retailer Summit and Saturday at the “DC All Access: Before Watchmen” panel at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo.
We don’t cover a lot of store signings, but this seems like kind of a big deal for a couple of reasons. Bill Willingham and Adam Hughes are kicking off the hotly anticipated Fairest series with a launch party/signing at The Source Comics and Games in Falcon Heights, Minnesota (a suburb of Saint Paul) on Wednesday, March 7.
Coming at a time when many readers are looking for comics that feature great female characters, Fairest focuses on the fairy tale women of Bill Willingham’s Fables. Willingham is writing the book; Hughes provides the covers.
Adam Hughes has revealed his cover for the third issue of Fairest, Vertigo’s upcoming Fables spinoff series that will spotlight such female characters as Thumbelina, Rapunzel, Snow White and Rose Red. While the six-issue initial arc, by Fables creator Bill Willingham and artists Phil Jimenez and Andy Lanning, centers on Briar Rose, Hughes puts Lumi, the Snow Queen (previously seen in the background of his cover for Fairest #1) front and center.
Check out the full image below. Fairest debuts from Vertigo in March; the third issue arrives in May.
“My history with Watchmen goes way back. In 1986 I was working at Thunder Road Comics in Burlington, New Jersey, and I sold every issue of Watchmen as they came out. It was a pretty amazing time: The Dark Knight Returns was also shipping, so superhero comics were enjoying a banner year. The mullets, parachute pants, and New Coke made up for it, though. YIKES.
Several years back, I was one of the first artists to contribute designs to Zack Snyder’s film adaption of Watchmen. I mean, I only worked on the film for, like, eight minutes, but I cast a long shadow! Did you like Silk Spectre in latex? That was ALL ME. That’s right — I’m preening!
So, you see, I have some strange sort of orbital relationship to Watchmen. I feel pretty honored to be working it. I’m looking forward to drawing all these characters. Yes, Doctor Manhattan is an unusual choice to assign me to, but I’m assured that DC has a plan! Maybe they believe that, since I’m well-associated with drawing female anatomy, I’m qualified to handle blue penises. Wait … that doesn’t sound right …”
– Dr. Manhattan artist Adam Hughes, kind of addressing one of the first questions that arose when he was confirmed as one of the creators involved with DC Comics’ Before Watchmen prequels
As DC Comics’ Before Watchmen announcement rolls out from multiple news and entertainment outlets, so too do our first looks at covers for all seven prequels to the groundbreaking 1986 miniseries.
Okay, almost seven, as USA Today has only offered a detail of one of Lee Bermejo’s covers for Rorschach (at right), his four-issue miniseries with Luthor and Joker collaborator Brian Azzarello. To make up for it, though, there’s a cover by original Watchmen colorist John Higgins for a Crimson Corsair story by he and original Watchmen editor Len Wein.
We also have a Dr. Manhattan cover by Adam Hughes (courtesy of CBR), Minutemen by Darwyn Cooke (Hero Complex), Nite Owl by Andy Kubert and Joe Kubert (Heat Vision), Ozymandias by Jae Lee (Underwire), and Silk Spectre by Amanda Conner (Entertainment Weekly). UPDATE: Now, thanks to The New York Times, we also have one of J.G. Jones’ Comedian covers.
Check out the covers below. We’ll update if more, and in some cases larger, images become available.
UPDATE: DC Comics has released hi-res versions of each of the covers, which we’ve added below.
This weekend, I made my way up to Charlotte, N.C., to catch up with my pals Johanna Draper Carlson and KC Carlson, who also drove down to attend the 35th Anniversary of the Charlotte MiniCon. I enjoyed attending the Minicon (seeing folks like the always photogenic and hilarious Dustin Harbin [yeah, I had to photograph him…again], as well as Jason Latour, Matt Wilson, Bridgit Scheide and Rich Barrett). Yet as I was in the middle of having fun, I realized I wanted to enjoy it as a consumer, not cover it as a journalist. So if you are looking for coverage of the Minicon, I highly recommend Johanna’s coverage over at Comics Worth Reading.
Late last night Adam Hughes unveiled his cover for October’s Batgirl #2, featuring a rather youthful Barbara Gordon, writing on Twitter: “My cover to @GailSimone ‘s BATGIRL#2, coming in October! Read this comic cos Batgirl’s way cuter than Batman!”
But why does Barbara look like she stepped out of the pages of Year One? That’s what Batgirl fans would like to know!
“She looks like she’s MAYBE 15, holy crap,” be-themoon wrote in the comments of DC Women Kicking Ass. “What was that about a more seasoned, nuanced character, DC? Part of me is tired of even bothering to care about what idiocy DC is getting up to next right now.”
Foxforsale offered: “Very young! Maybe its a flashback? They’ll probably be doing lots of those to establish her history with new readers … and to be nostalgic … they fucking love nostalgia.”
For longtime comic readers like myself, there’s nothing quite like when a team book introduces a new character to the mix. This Wednesday, artist Nicola Scott gets to bring Solstice, a character she designed, into the Teen Titans mix with the release of Teen Titans 93. In addition to discussing Solstice, Scott notes the shift in tone/sense of fun that series writer J.T. Krul has brought to the series; how she considers herself a character-driven artist; as well as the lessons learned from collaborating with the likes of writer Gail Simone/dealing in subtext (among other topics). At the end of the interview, she invites fans to suggest characters we’d like to see her draw in the future–be sure to chime in with your ideas in the comments section.
Tim O’Shea: Over at the Source, you expressed part of what appealed to working with J.T. Krul on Teen Titans. ” Character, tone, direction. He has blown me away.” What is it about Krul’s approach to character and tone that appealed to you?
Nicola Scott: Over the last couple of years the tone of the book seemed to have become quite dark, and seemed to be missing youthful energy and a sense of fun. The characters weren’t quite connecting in the way DC hoped for them to. Straight off the bat JT had them feel exactly like their regular selves. The comradery had returned too and that’s such an important ingredient with the Teen Titans. The script for the first issue was fun, a great recap of the characters and who they are to each other. There were some gags and some drama and it felt like young people with huge responsibility. Another ingredient that I think was important, was bringing it back to the core members. A couple of new additions is fine but when most of the cast is unrecognizable to outside readers, it’s hard to grow the audience.
Although I’ve never been to the Emerald City Comicon itself, I dig the artwork they get for the Monsters & Dames art book. Case in point: the above illustration by Guy Davis.
This year’s book once again benefits Seattle Children’s Hospital, and includes contributions from Geof Darrow, Cully Hamner, Humberto Ramos, Frank Cho, Yanick Paquette, Skottie Young, Aaron Lopresti, Cliff Chiang, Mike McKone and many more. After the jump you’ll find their official PR, along with a few more images.
Publishing | Dark Horse is expected to announce today at New York Comic Con that it will price its digital comics at $1.49 per issue, 50 cents below the industry average. [ICv2.com]
Publishing | Although Marvel’s pricing announcement received the most attention, it certainly wasn’t the only news to come out of ICv2’s Conference on Comics and Digital, held Thursday at New York Comic Con. ICv2 Publisher Milton Griepp delivered a white paper indicating that sales were down 12 percent overall, with graphic novels down 20 percent and comics up just 1 percent; manga saw a 20-percent drop. Sales of digital comics, meanwhile, have increased to $6 million to $8 million in the U.S., more than 10 times ICv2’s estimate for 2009. [ICv2.com, The Beat, Comics Alliance]
The weekend means nothing for the automatons at Robot 6 — my week of spotlighting themed sketchbooks continues with a look at the enigmatic enigma of the Doctor. Who? The Doctor. Star of television, some movies, and comics — on both sides of the ocean — these interpretations of Doctor Who show some lurking fans in notable comic creators, and also a wish list of who we’d like to see do a Doctor Who strip some day.
Comics journalist Zack Smith took on the challenge of collecting sketches of the (in)famous Doctor. And he’s just getting started! Here’s what Zack had to say about it:
There are lots of themed sketchbooks out there, and I’d recently seen ones that dealt with the likes of G.I. Joe and Star Wars. I’d noticed how many comic creators were fans of the Doctor, and how a number had posted fan art on their websites. I thought it would be fun to take advantage of this and get a book that covered the ENTIRE history of the series, dating back to 1963.
In total, I got a dozen pieces to start off the book. The biggest surprise I got, though, was finding out some great comic creators WEREN’T Who fans — including Paul Pope, Amanda Conner and Jonathan Hickman! If you read their work, you’d swear it was influenced by them!
I have a number of goals for future pieces. Mike Allred wasn’t doing sketches, but I’d love for him to do the Second Doctor, or maybe the early models of the Cybermen, which were essentially sock-masks with radio parts glued on. It might be fun to get Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba from Vertigo’s Daytripper and The Umbrella Academy to do Captain Jack’s late paramour Ianto Jones. And Kate Beaton would be perfect for the Seventh Doctor!
The long-term goal is to fill all 100 pages or so of this sketchbook, with no repeats. But with 11 Doctors, six incarnations of the Master (including Eric Roberts), and various Daleks, Cybermen, Companions, spinoffs and miscellaneous aliens, I think it’s possible!
You can see his growing collection in a Facebook album he set up. Here are a few favorites:
Like clockwork, Comic-Con organizers have released the schedule for the third day of the convention, Saturday, July 24.
Below you’ll find highlights of the comics-related programming, ranging from movie panels for Warner Bros.’ Green Lantern and Marvel’s Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger to Joe Quesada’s traditional “Cup O’ Joe” and “Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour vs. The Fans.”
The full programming schedule for Saturday can be found here.
10 to 11 a.m. Spotlight on Carla Speed McNeil — Comic-Con special guest Carla Speed McNeil is best known for her creator-owned title Finder. A few years back, Carla took new stories of Finder to the Internet, and the result was an Eisner Award for best webcomic of 2008 and a new series of reprints from Dark Horse. Carla talks about her work and what’s next in this Spotlight panel. Room 3
10 to 11 a.m. The Black Panel 2010 — This year’s Black Panel will be one for the ages. The focus will be on empowerment, education, real-world networking, and finally but never last, fun. The panelists include entertainment attorney Darrel Miller, novelist Nnedi Okorafor, artist Denys Cowan and writer/producer/director Reggie Hudlin, with moderator Michael Davis. Once they answer life’s burning questions, they’ll chill with a salute and Q&A from the audience with actor/writer/director Bill Duke. As always, surprise guests who will rock your world. Room 5AB
10 to 11 a.m. Marvel Comics Writers Unite! — The third in Comic-Con’s series of “Year of the Writer/Comics Writers Unite!” panels focuses on Marvel Comics and includes Comic-Con special guests Brian Michael Bendis (Avengers, New Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man), Matt Fraction (Invincible Iron Man, Thor) and Chris Claremont (X-Men Forever, X-Women) in a discussion with writer Mark Waid (Amazing Spider-Man, Irredeemable). Room 6DE