Comic-Con Trailers: The Best of the Best, Ranked
First Second Books has announced it will publish Varmints, an all-ages graphic novel by Dallas-based Andy Hirsch, whose credits include The Royal Historian of Oz and BOOM! Studios’ Garfield, Peanuts and Adventure Time.
ROBOT 6 also has a first look at the Western, which began in 2011 as a self-published digital comic, and a brief Q&A with Hirsch.
Debuting in December from the publisher’s KaBOOM! imprint, the all-ages comic centers on a 9-year-old girl with a wild imagination who moves to a small town, where she’s the new kid who struggles to make friends. However, that changes when Abigail meets Claude, a Yeti pursued by the Shadow Men” after he escaped a top-secret government facility.
An Eisner and Harvey award winner, Langridge is no stranger to BOOM!, where he’s worked on The Muppet Show, Popeye, his creator-owned Snark! and the upcoming Jim Henson’s The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow.
“I’m doing this book for BOOM! mainly because they asked me, really,” the cartoonist explained in the video released in July. “They asked me if I had some ideas, and they’ve been good to me in the past as far as all-ages material goes — they know how to sell all-ages material, which is what this is.”
Although we already knew Roger Langridge is returning to BOOM! Studios for Jim Henson’s The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow, now comes word that the publisher will also debut an original all-ages project from the Eisner-winning cartoonist in December.
“I’m doing this book for BOOM! mainly because they asked me, really,” the Snarked and Muppet Show cartoonist says in the video below. “They asked me if I had some ideas, and they’ve been good to me in the past as far as all-ages material goes — they know how to sell all-ages material, which is what this is.”
Conventions | The doors open today on the 25th annual Motor City Comic Con, held through Sunday in Novi, Michigan, northwest of Detroit. Comics guests include Art Baltazar, Elizabeth Breitweiser, Talent Caldwell, Chris Claremont, Matthew Clark, Gerry Conway, Katie Cook, J.M. DeMatteis, Clayton Henry, Mike McKone, Jame O’Barr, Ryan Ottley, Dave Petersen, Don Rosa, Bill Sienkiewicz, Charles Soule, Mark Waid and Skottie Young. The Detroit Free Press previews the event, and speaks with Claremont, while Metro Times provides a beginner’s guide. [Motor City Comic Con]
Digital comics | Kate Reynolds looks at the recent Image Humble Bundle promotion and compares it to sales of hard copies of the individual titles in comics shops. Her key insight is that this is Image’s first attempt to sell comics directly to the video game audience rather than established readers: “Many people who check the Humble website with some frequency may have been surprised to see comics books on a video game page, and for many, surprise turned to intrigue. While it’s impossible to tell whether the purchasers of the Image bundle were frequent comic buyers or not, it’s logical to assume that many were not. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if for some, the Image bundle was the first comic purchase of their lives.” [feminism/geekery]
The comic strip/webcomic documentary Stripped opens with an idyllic scene straight out of the Hallmark Channel. A little girl runs into the kitchen and sits on her father’s lap; he opens a newspaper, and together, they flip to the Sunday funnies, a well-remembered moment of childhood made possible by the magic of comic strips. It’s a scene that rings true, because many viewers have had similar experiences. Maybe you weren’t sitting on your father’s lap; maybe you just ripped through the paper, trying to separate the cartoons from the classifieds. Anything to get at those comic strips.
It’s a scene that may accidentally have put a chink into the “webcomics are the future of the newspaper comic strip” argument.
There are challenging characters, and then there is Hello Kitty. She’s a familiar face, but nobody really knows anything about her. She doesn’t appear to have a backstory. She doesn’t even have a mouth. And here she is, starring in her own graphic novel.
Jacob Chabot is one of several creators behind the Hello Kitty graphic novels published by Perfect Square, Viz Media’s kids’ imprint. He’s an old Viz hand at this point, having illustrated two of the publisher’s Voltron graphic novels, and his other work includes stints at Marvel (including the X-Babies comics), SpongeBob SquarePants comics, and his two-volume all-ages graphic novel The Mighty Skullboy Army, which is truly laugh-out-loud funny for adults as well kids.
Not only is Hello Kitty the tabula rasa of comics characters, the stories are wordless as well, which presents a whole different set of challenges. We asked Jacob to let us in on some of the details of writing the Hello Kitty story — and check out our preview of Hello Kitty: Delicious! after the interview.
Longtime collaborators Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani have been on a roll recently, partnering their Aw Yeah Comics store with Alter Ego Comics, tackling Itty Bitty Hellboy at Dark Horse, which will also collect their Aw Yeah Comics series, and bringing the “Li’l” treatment to several Dynamite Entertainment titles.
However, they’re not finished yet: Aureliani announced over the weekend on Twitter, “Big news out of DC comics and @dandidio1 says so: can you say: Tiny Titans?,” followed by, “Yes! It’s true! New Tiny Titans coming soon!” Although there’s been no official announcement, DC Comics Co-Published Dan DiDio re-tweeted the second message.
The Eisner Award-winning all-ages series, which ran for 50 issues from April 2008 to May 2012, depicts the lighthearted adventures of child versions of DC heroes (primarily the Teen Titans) at Sidekick City Elementary, where Deathstroke is principal and Darkseid is the lunch lady.
There’s no word yet on when, or in what format, fans should expect the return of Tiny Titans.
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.)
Have you ever received an unexpected gift that made you instantly happy? That’s how I felt in late April when Dark Horse announced Itty Bitty Hellboy, a five-issue all-ages miniseries by Art Baltazar and Franco (known for their Eisner Award-winning run on DC’s Tiny Titans and, more recently, Superman Family Adventures). Ahead of the comic’s debut on Wednesday, I spoke with Art and Franco about their fun-loving Aw Yeah-ification of the Mike Mignola/Hellboy universe.
Tim O’Shea: How hard was it to settle on the Itty Bitty Hellboy title?
Franco: That was pretty easy. Artie takes all the credit for that one. What title would best encapsulate what we wanted to do with the character than make him itty bitty!
Art Baltazar: Yes! We went through a few different adjectives before “Itty Bitty” won our hearts.
“Batman did pretty well, so I sat down with the head of DC Comics. I really wanted to do Kamandi [The Last Boy on Earth], this Jack Kirby character. I had this great pitch … and he said, ‘You think this is gonna be for kids? Stop, stop. We don’t publish comics for kids. We publish comics for 45-year-olds. If you want to do comics for kids, you can do Scooby-Doo. And I thought, ‘I guess we just broke up.'”
— Paul Pope, relating his attempt to pitch an all-ages (or perhaps young-adult) title to DC Comics, during his Comic-Con International conversation with Gene Luen Yang.
Pope has previously mentioned his idea for Kamandi, a collaboration with writer Brian Azzarello that he described as “a violent adventure story for young readers with a boy lead character.” He’s even revealed a few pieces of art from the pitch. However, as the artist noted in 2010, “if DC would’ve given me & Brian Azzarello a Kamandi series, I’d never have created Battling Boy.”
There’s a new hero in town, one straight out of the Golden Age … wait, what? Captain Ultimate by Joey Esposito, Benjamin Bailey, Boykoesh and Ed Ryzowski debuts on comiXology today as one of five new titles from Monkeybrain Comics. The all-ages superhero title centers on a young boy and his admiration for a Golden Age hero, Captain Ultimate, who disappeared some years before — but makes his triumphant return just in time to save a city from a giant monster.
I spoke with Esposito and Bailey about the new comic, which they’ll discuss tonight at the Monkeybrain panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego (8 p.m. in Room 28DE)
There’s Monster University, Monster High and soon, with a little help from Kickstarter, Monster Elementary.
Written by Nicholas Doan, the graphic novel is an all-ages comedy adventure about five monster children — there’s a vampire, a werewolf, a laboratory-constructed girl, a mummy and a lagoon creature — who are forced to attend public school after their private monsters-only institution is raided by the FBI.
The 90-page book will feature short stories illustrated by the likes of Josh Gowdy, Canaan Grall, Lee-Roy Lahey, Bobby Timony, Daniele Serra, Cal Moray and Patty Variboa. You can read the first six issues for free by downloading Emanata to your iOS or Android device.
Doan is seeking $19,000 to cover production and printing, payments to artists, pledge rewards, etc. The campaign ends Aug. 7.
What a maneuver!
WWE, and the wrestling industry in general, has a long and complicated history in the comics medium, with WWE itself having a string of comic books produced over the years at Valiant, Chaos, Titan and even on its own. But this new partnership sees the publicly traded wrestling company go down a more all-ages route with fans.
Robot 6 has reached out to Papercutz for more on this story, but has not received comment.
I imagine that Dustin Nguyen’s cute, chibi-style drawings of the Batman cast in Batman: Li’l Gotham will weed out the segment of comics readers who truly don’t care for that kind of art. For those who like the style, though – or those who, like me, don’t have strong feelings one way or the other about it – the first issue of Li’l Gotham kicks off what promises to be a great all-ages series.
There’s a scarcity of DC and Marvel comics that are appropriate for kids, so I’m all for whatever new thing those companies want to try. Nguyen’s character designs for Li’l Gotham are so adorable though that when I first saw them, I expected a super-sweet tone that I wasn’t sure I’d respond to. I want comics that kids can enjoy, but I don’t want them to be slight or to change the characters’ personalities beyond all recognition. If Li’l Gotham was just going to be Batman’s Precious Moments, I wouldn’t be able to stay interested. But that’s not at all what it is.
Despite his shortened body and enlarged head, Li’l Gotham’s Batman is my Batman: overly serious and unswervingly dedicated to fighting crime. But his rogues gallery isn’t as homicidal or destructive as the current, canonized versions of those villains, so Batman’s able to be a little more relaxed about how he takes them down. They’re still lawbreakers, just not especially deadly ones. For example, Nguyen and co-writer Derek Fridolfs are able to get them together at an Italian restaurant for Halloween without murdering each other.
The Kickstarter campaign for Franco Aureliani and Art Baltazar Aw Yeah Comics! received widespread and immediate attention, rocketing the series past its $15,000 goal on the very first day. However, a drive for another terrific-looking all-ages project by established creators kicked off last week without that level of publicity.
Gumshoes 4 Hire brings together Sean “Cheeks” Galloway, Kevin Hopps, Gurihiru and DJ Welch for a comic about a group of friends that investigates seemingly petty crimes only to discover the real cause of the troubles in the town of The Cliffs may be the fabled Curse of the Wendigoes.