Art dealer Sal Abbinanti has revealed Alex Ross’ cover for Origins, the Zombies map included as part of the upcoming Apocalypse downloadable content package for Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops II.
From the sound of it, Origins is pretty much what you’d imagine, with players fighting to survive wave after wave of the undead. Only in this case, it’s set during World War I, with giant mecha and the like — which you can see looming in Ross’ art, below.
Ah, Comic-Con International: when comics publishers are tripping over themselves to announce new projects, and movie producers throw star-power at the fans to drum up word-of-mouth support for their latest efforts. Of course, there will be all kinds of lower-profile launches that can tend to get bulldozed off the front pages by the big ticket news items.
Ashley Wood’s 3A Publishing releasing Kent Williams: Ophthalm there is probably a case in point. It’s an art book by a painter whose last major comic project was published in 2005. I’ve loved Williams’ work since he was collaborating with Jon J. Muth in the 1980s, but the work he was producing then doesn’t hold a candle to the canvases he now exhibits. It’s amazing work, as viewable at his website. Wood is quite the advocate for Williams, publishing several portfolios of his work in IDW’s Swallow, then a pocket book of his paintings in their Sparrow series, and recently a collection of drawings through his own Goya imprint. The book’s press release is, however, rather purple. This is the art world we’re dealing with now, people, not comics! And the book’s title? That’s Greek for “the eye.”
Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson, Alex Ross and Alex Sinclair returned to Astro City this week, with a brand-new first issue published by DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint. The creative team introduces us to several new characters, including the fourth wall-breaking Broken Man and the anime-inspired American Chibi. Old favorites are also still in residence, including Samaritan and Bill Pullam, one of the ordinary citizens we met earlier in Astro City’s history.
It’s a first issue that feels comfortably familiar but also refreshingly different, as we kick off what looks like a big event within the Astro City world. I definitely found it well worth my $3.99, but if you don’t believe me, here are a few more reviews that might convince you:
DC Comics is calling June “Superman Month,” but next week is Snyder Week. The first issue of Scott Snyder and Jim Lee’s Superman Unchained arrives next Wednesday, and the premiere of director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel premieres in most places two days later.
Therefore, because there will be a lot of Superman talk coming down the pike, I thought I’d get mine out of the way early.
* * *
One thing that comics blogging has taught me is a healthy respect for the roles (including the rights) of creators. Creators’ rights aren’t unique to comics, of course, but you really can’t talk about the history of superhero comics, or the development of corporately handled superheroes, without at least acknowledging the people who first introduced the concepts. In this respect Superman is a special case, because he seems to have developed past his creators’ original idea (or, certainly, past the original parameters) into something Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster might never have imagined — and people seem pretty cool with that, in a way that perhaps doesn’t apply to similarly long-lived characters.
The odds of a Justice League movie ever making it to theaters are probably about even at the moment and, if rumors are to be believed, largely dependent on the box-office performance of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. Thankfully, however, we won’t have to wait until 2015 or beyond to see Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Green Lantern together in live-action form.
Director/producer Andrew List has released a low-budget fan trailer for Kingdom Come, based on the acclaimed 1996 miniseries by Alex Ross and Mark Waid. (How low-budget? The project’s indiegogo campaign generated $5,617.) Sure, some of the acting and green-screen work — to say nothing of Superman’s Southern accent — are a bit suspect, but there are a few moments that look as if they were taken right out of the comic. Considering the budget, it’s kind of impressive.
Graphic novels | April was a slow month for new graphic novel releases, so the BookScan Top 20 had plenty of room for some backlist titles. The Walking Dead dominated, of course, but the 10th volume of Sailor Moon was there for a second month and actually moved up a notch. And the first volume of Saga came in at No. 12, perhaps because people were curious as to what all the fuss is about. [ICv2]
Editorial cartoons | Nick Anderson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for the Houston Chronicle, has responded to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s criticism of Jack Ohman’s cartoon with a cartoon of his own. [Comic Riffs]
Conventions | Jeff Smith, Brian Wood, Sean Murphy and Raina Telgemeier are the headline guests at the Maine Comics Arts Festival in Portland on May 19. [Foster's Daily Democrat]
Retailing | The direct market is looking good, with first-quarter sales up 29 percent over last year, according to figures released at the Diamond Retailer Summit. Heidi MacDonald reports, “There was no single element which seemed to be behind to surge, although sales of The Walking Dead comics and graphic novels were frequently mentioned. The general interest in “nerd culture” seems to be driving much of the merchandise and publishing growth, with more offerings in the housewares category a standout: Diamond is now offering their own line of such things as bottle openers and ice cube trays, such as a Walking Dead themed ice cube tray in the shape of body parts.” [Publishers Weekly]
Conventions | CBR and Robot 6 are covering C2E2 in depth, but for a quick overview, check out Christopher Borrelli’s recap and photo gallery. [Chicago Tribune]
Less than a month after DC Comics announced that Astro City will return in June as part of “DC proper,” the company has revealed the acclaimed superhero series by Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson and Alex Ross will actually be released under the Vertigo banner.
While that will make little difference to fans of the long-running comic, the move helps to bolster the mature-readers imprint, which only recently lost the Hugo Award-nominated Saucer Country and its longtime flagship Hellblazer (relaunched as Constantine in the DC Universe). Astro City will certainly stand out as a rare example of a superhero title on the Vertigo stable.
Debuting in 1995 at Image Comics before ultimately moving to Wildstorm, Astro City centers on the denizens of a mecca for super-powered beings. The title has been on hiatus since DC shuttered the Wildstorm imprint in 2010. The new series continues from the previous arc, a Silver Agent two-parter that served as an epilogue to Astro City: The Dark Age.
It doesn’t look like there were as many comic-related announcements on Saturday at WonderCon as there were on Friday, but the second day of the con certainly brought some gems.
• IDW and DC announced that Mark Waid (Daredevil, Insufferable) and Paul Smith (Uncanny X-Men, Leave it to Chance) are teaming up for The Rocketeer/Spirit: Pulp Friction. “Not many writers have been lucky enough to write The Rocketeer or The Spirit,” Waid said in a press release, “so I feel like I’ve won the lottery. This is one of the most exciting-and scariest-assignments I’ve ever undertaken. Luckily, I’ve got Paul Smith to make me look good!” The first issue of the miniseries arrives in July.
Retailing | Diamond Comic Distributors has announced it will return to Chicago April 24-26 for its annual Diamond Retailer Summit, held in conjunction with the April 26-28 Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo . The three-day event includes presentations from sponsoring publishers, focus groups, and retailer workshops and roundtables. [Diamond Summits]
Awards | Johanna Draper Carlson has resigned as a judge for the 2012 Glyph Comics Awards following a disagreement over which works are eligible for the annual honors. Carlson believed judges should be able to nominate comics (as is the case with the Eisners), but the organizers limited the pool to comics that were submitted to them, which resulted in a smaller group of nominees. [Comics Worth Reading]
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. We’ve each picked the five comics we’re most anticipating in order to create a list of the best new stuff coming out two months from now.
As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
Comic Book Creator #1 (TwoMorrows, $8.95): I still fondly remember the now-defunct Comic Book Artist magazine from years ago, and now the creator of that magazine, Jon Cooke returns with a new 80-page offering to take its place. With a first issue filled with Jack Kirby, Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross, this is a must-read for me.
Mark Waid’s The Green Hornet #1 (Dynamite, $3.99): Waid has been having a career renaissance, in terms of recognition at least, and that led to getting his name on the title of this new revamp of Dynamite’s Green Hornet line (art is by Daniel Indero). I dig the creator, I dig the character, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens when the two collide.
The Secret History of Marvel Comics HC (Fantagraphics, $35.00): I’ve been looking forward to this one since I first heard about it. Blake Bell looks at the non-comics material being published by the company that would one day become Marvel Comics, including pulp and girlie mag work by Jack Kirby, Bill Everett and Dan DeCarlo. It’s like the perfect companion for Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics: The Untold Story!
Star Wars: Legacy — Prisoner of the Floating World #1 (Dark Horse, $2.99): As if the Brian Wood series wasn’t enough to get me back into Star Wars comics, now we get a new series from the Planet of the Apes team of Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman? If these are the final days of Dark Horse’s Star Wars license as many are rumoring, then they’re definitely going out with a bang.
Wake Up, Percy Gloom HC (Fantagraphics, $24.99): I fell madly in love with Cathy Malkasian’s beautiful Percy Gloom graphic novel a few years back, which was as beautiful as it was unexpected, so there is little to no way that I am not eagerly anticipating this follow-up. For those who like gorgeously-illustrated, melancholy and touching books: This is for you.
Nerdist has debuted a first look at lettered pages from Dark Horse’s Star Wars, the new series from Brian Wood and Carlos d’Anda set during the three-year gap between Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
Announced at Comic-Con International, the title picks up where fans left Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo after the destruction of the Death Star. “Luke is hurting from the death of his family and Ben, Leia is in mourning for her family and her entire planet, while trying to shoulder the burden of managing the Rebellion alongside Mon Mothma,” Wood told Comic Book Resources in July. “Han is still kind of a jerk. Luke only has the barest sense of what the Force is, and will attempt to learn what he can on his own.”
Star Wars, which features covers by Alex Ross, debuts in January. See part of the preview (including a strutting Darth Vader) below, and visit Nerdist for more.
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.
If I had $15, I’d get Remake 3xtra, the latest comic in Lamar Abrams’ occasional superhero/manga satire. I’d also get Batman Inc. #5 to get another glimpse into the Gotham City of the future, where Damian has taken on his father’s superhero role.
If I had $30, I’d check out Dante’s Inferno, Kevin Jackson and Hunt Emerson’s adaptation of the classic poem. The British Emerson has been around since the days of the underground, but he hasn’t gotten much attention, at least on these shores, which seems odd given what a funny and facile cartoonist he is. He tends to fire on all cylinders when riffing on classic literature, too, so I imagine this will be a pretty great book.
Splurge: I don’t own the hardcover edition, so the new paperback collection of the Complete Calvin and Hobbes seems like a no-brainer to me. On the other hand, Humanoids is releasing the Technopriests Supreme Collection, an omnibus, epic sci-fi story that is yet another spin off of Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius’ Incal. This particular series features art by Zoran Janjetov.
Comics | DC Comics’ Senior Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne and Vice President of Marketing John Cunningham discuss October sales, the date change for Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and variant covers. Although the company is releasing 52 variants for Justice League of America #1, DC plans to cut back on variants in its other lines. “We’re going to pull back and drop variants from a handful of titles in the next solicitation cycle to pull back that number ourselves, where it didn’t seem the variant was making a substantial difference in the buy-in for the book or the perception of books,” Wayne said. “We’ll be looking at the remaining titles that have variants the following month.” [ICv2]
Comics | Speaking of variant covers, Tim Beyers of The Motley Fool discusses the dos and don’ts of buying variant covers as an investment. [Daily Finance]
Sal Abbinanti has provided Robot 6 with the first look at Alex Ross’ new poster image for “Heroes & Villains: The Comic Book Art of Alex Ross,” the upcoming exhibition at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. See the full painting below.
Opening Nov. 10, the exhibit features more than 130 paintings, drawings, photographs and sculptures from the personal collection of Ross, who’s often characterized as “the Norman Rockwell of the comics world.” According to the museum, the pieces range from a crayon drawing of Spider-Man that the artist drew at age 4 to paintings for Marvels, Kingdom Come, Green Hornet and Flash Gordon (you can view some of the pieces on the exhibition’s website). Ross himself will appear at the opening celebration for the first museum exhibition of his work.