Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
As a nice reminder of today’s final-order cutoff deadline for Southern Bastards #5, Image Comics has released Andrew Robinson’s painted variant cover depicting Coach Boss.
Created by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour, the “Southern-fried crime comic” follows one-time local hero Earl Tubb as he returns home to Craw County, Alabama, to take take of family business. In Issue 5, which arrives Oct. 29, the creators dig into the history of Craw County and the fearsome Euless Boss.
In addition, the NCS presented awards in 15 other categories during the ceremony in San Diego. Isabella Bannerman’s Six Chix was named best newspaper strip and Speed Bump by Dave Coverly won for best newspaper panels. Sergio Aragones Funnies, published by Bongo, won for best comic book, while The Fifth Beatle by Vivek J. Tiwary, Andrew C. Robinson and Kyle Baker won for best graphic novel. Jeff Smith’s Tuki won for long-form webcomic, while Ryan Pageow’s Buni took home the award for short-form webcomic.
You can find a list of the other award winners below.
My labor-of-love graphic novel The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story was recently nominated for an Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work, and after coming back down to Earth (I learned what it meant to jump for joy — I was airborne!) I realized that I was equally honored by the nomination itself as I was by being a part of the category. Comics have certainly entertained me over the years — but more than that they have educated and inspired me. Many people have asked why I chose the graphic novel medium to tell the Brian Epstein story, and the heart of my answer is my steadfast belief that comics is simply one of the most powerful mediums for telling reality-based stories. Comics can capture the factual history of a tale alongside its poetic essence in a way prose biographies couldn’t dream of.
Many folks of Indian origin like myself can claim to have started reading comics when we were children. Indeed, many of us first learned our great Indian epics such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata through easy-to-digest (and fun), cheap comic book adaptations. These ashcan-like books may have seemed like merely disposable entertainment, but the epics they’re based on are touchstones of the Indian identity. Those comics surreptitiously taught us about who we are, where we come from, and the power of both story and history. It’s perhaps no surprise that my Indian parents loved comics, and some of my earliest memories include browsing the comics racks at Forbidden Planet with them (then going home to listen to their Beatles’ records). And even when my childhood longboxes were full of the funnies, I somehow sensed that comics were more than just “comic” books.
This weekend marked the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in America and their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
The intersection of the Beatles and comics began a year earlier, though, when Paul McCartney told the music magazine NME that he would like to appear in The Dandy, a popular weekly children’s comic (almost 50 years later, he got his wish, as he appeared in the final issue).
In their heyday, the Beatles made frequent cameos in comics, and were often the subject of comics themselves; over the past few years, however, comics creators have taken a retrospective look at not just the musicians but the times they lived in and the personalities around them. Here, then, is a look at four comics, all very different, but each with its own appeal to those of us who remember when the Beatles were hot—and those who want to relive it in the pages of comics.
I’m a massive Beatles nerd. I can still remember the funny looks on the faces of the locals, some amazed, some horrified, as I gave a breathless real-time breakdown of all the references and visual puns in the “Free As A Bird” video as it played on the TV in the corner of a bar back in 1995. I’ve read countless books on the band over the years, good and bad, and have been looking forward to The Fifth Beatle by Vivek J. Tiwary, Andrew Robinson and Kyle Baker with a certain relish.
It’s hard to get any freshness into such a well-worn tale, but that seems to be Robinson’s job in the creative team: Every page previewed so far shows him marrying a caricaturist’s knack for capturing likenesses to Sienkiewicz-like expressionism and multimedia experimentation for this project.
Now Dark Horse has debuted the trailer for The Fifth Beatle (below) that will be playing at the publisher’s booth throughout Comic-Con International in San Diego (Tiwary and Robinson will be signing there Friday at 3 p.m.). The video features plenty of tantalizing fleeting glimpses of Robinson’s art, but there’s no sign of any of Kyle Baker’s section though. He’s provided the art for a sequence based on the style of the old King Features Syndicate cartoons, but a thorough shakedown of my usual sources has failed to produce any examples yet. I’m sure time will tell soon enough on that score.
The graphic novel will be released Nov. 19.
Legal | Egyptian artist Magdy el Shafee, creator of the graphic novel Metro, was arrested by security forces in Cairo and is being held in Tora Prison. The arrests weren’t directly related to his graphic novel, which was banned by the regime of Hosni Mubarak; el Shafee went to Abdel Moneim Riyad Square to try to stop a showdown between protesters and the Muslim Brotherhood, and ended up being arrested in a sweep that rounded up 38 people. [Words Without Borders]
Legal | The local paper profiles Susan Alston, who has been active in the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund since the 1990s and even ran it for a while from the garage of her Northampton, Massachusetts, home. [Masslive.com]
A famous British band once sang about how it “Just Can’t Get Enough,” which is how I feel about the work of Andrew Robinson. But luckily for me, there’s about to be a whole lot more of him this year.
Robinson has been releasing pages on his DeviantArt page from his long-awaited graphic novel The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story. Announced in October by Dark Horse, it’s a biography of the famed manager who acted as shepherd/friend/taskmaster for the revelatory music group the Beatles. The graphic novel is written by comics newcomer Vivek J. Tiwary, a Broadway veteran with 25 Tony Awards for his work on The Addams Family, Green Day’s American Idiot and The Producers.
The Fifth Beatle has been a three-year labor of love for Robinson, creating the 120-plus pages entirely by hand using pencils, pens, markers, acrylics, watercolors, gouache and more. The project has drawn him away from the public eye save for some cover work, but that time away looks to be paying off.
I remember that a year or two ago, Chris Weston playing a little game with his Twitter followers: casting an imaginary Carry On X-Men film. If memory serves, I may even have contributed to it myself; I think I might have been the first to suggest Bernard Bresslaw as Colossus. And that was the end of that, we thought — until he updated his blog with this image.
Surely he’s not been working on this all that time? Weston is something of a movie poster nut, regularly uploading fine examples from his collection, and I’m also enough of an illustration nerd to realize he’s copping the style used by the great Renato Fratini on several U.K. Carry On movie posters.
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 buy Boys #70 (only two issues until the big finale) and Classic Popeye #2, IDW Publishing’s ongoing series of reprints devoted to Bud Sagendorf comics from the 1940s, as the first issue was much more fun than I expected it to be.
If I had $30, I’d put those comics back, but would be stuck between a couple of books. The first would be Aya: Life in Yop City, which collects the three previous Aya books by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie in one volume. These are great, funny comics, full of life and observation regarding a culture — in this case African culture — most Westerners know nothing about.
There’s also A Chinese Life, a massive doorstop of a memoir by Chinese artist Li Kunwu (with help from writer Philippe Otie) chronicling his life and times. Kunwu lives through some of modern China’s most tumultuous periods, including the Cultural Revolution, and hopefully his book will, like Aya, humanize a time and culture that for many is just a few lines in their history book.
Finally, there’s Message to Adolph, Vol. 1, one of Tezuka’s final works, set during World War II, about three people named Adolph, one a Jew, the other a German boy living in Japan, and the third the fuhrer himself. Originally published by Viz about two decades ago, Vertical has taken it upon themselves to put out a newly translated version which is great news for those that missed this great manga the first time around.
Is there a greater splurge purchase this week that Dal Tokyo, the collected version of Gary Panter’s off-kilter comic strip? I plugged this book last week, but it deserves another one. I’ve been waiting for this book for awhile.
For the scholarly comics type, the splurge of the week might be Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss, a look at the creator of Barnaby and Harold and the Purple Crayon and his wife, a children’s author with whom he frequently collaborated.
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics.
Wait a minute … “monthly”?
It’s true that we haven’t taken a What Looks Good tour in a few months, but the feature is back with an all-new approach that we hope will be more varied and useful than the old format. Instead of Michael and Graeme just commenting on everything that catches our attention in the catalog, we’ve invited Chrises Mautner and Arrant to join us in each picking the five new comics we’re most looking forward to. What we’ll end up with is a Top 20 (or so; there may be some overlap) of the best new comics coming out each month.
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.
1) Love and Rockets New Stories #5 by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics) — How do you possibly top the triumphant storytelling feat that was “The Love Bunglers”? I dunno, but Jaime Hernandez is certainly going to give it the old college try, this time shifting the focus onto the vivacious “Frogmouth” character. Gilbert, meanwhile, brings back some of his classic Palomar characters, so yeah, this is pretty much a “must own” for me.
2) Skippy Vol. 1: Complete Dailies 1925-1927 by Percy Crosby (IDW) — Percy Crosby’s Skippy might well be the great forgotten comic strip of the 20th century. Extremely popular in its day, and a huge influence on such luminaries as Charles Schulz, the strip has largely been forgotten and the name conjures up little more than images of peanut butter. IDW’s effort to reacquaint folks with this strip might change that — the few snippets I’ve read suggest this is real lost gem.
3) The Voyeurs by Gabrielle Bell (Uncivilized Books) — Tom Kaczynski’s small-press publishing company drops its first major, “big book” release with this memoir from the always-excellent Gabrielle Bell. Collecting work from her series Lucky (and, I think, some of her recent minis), the book chronicles a turbulent five year period as she travels around the world. Should be great.
4) Godzilla: The Half Century War by James Stokoe (IDW) — I usually stay as far away from licensed books as possible, but there is one simple reason I’m including this comic in my top five: James Stokoe. Stokoe’s Orc Stain has quickly become one of my favorite serialized comics, and his obsession with detailing every inch of the page combined with his ability to incorporate significant manga storytelling tropes in his work convince me he can do a solid job chronicling the adventures of the big green lizard that spits radioactive fire.
5) Barbara by Osamu Tezuka (Digital Manga) — Speaking of manga, here’s one of the more noteworthy Kickstarter projects of recent years: Digital Manga’s attempt to bring the master’s saga of a famous author and the homeless, beautiful woman he takes in and assumes to be his literal muse. This is well regarded in many Tezuka fan circles as one of the cartoonist’s better adult stories, and I’m glad to see Digital willing to take a chance on bringing more Tezuka to the West. I’ll definitely be buying this. I should also note that Vertical will also be offering some Tezuka this month, namely a new edition of Adolph (originally published by Viz in the ’90s), here titled Message to Adolph but well worth checking out regardless of the title.
If you missed out on Free Comic Book Day or didn’t get a chance to grab a copy of every release, we can help you out with at least one of this year’s offerings. Courtesy of our friends at 12-Gauge Comics, we’re pleased to present their entire FCBD comic right here.
Their flipbook contained two stories, the first being Anti, by Walking Dead and Aliens producer Gale Anne Hurd, Gotham City Sirens writer Peter Calloway and artist Daniel Hillyard. Here’s a description:
Legendary producer Gale Anne Hurd (AMC’s THE WALKING DEAD, TERMINATOR, ALIENS) teams with 12-Gauge Comics to present the tale of Zachary, a faithless man forced to confront the reality that he’s the savior of the world. Chased by demons that have infiltrated earth disguised as humans, while grudgingly protected by demon-hunter Jordan, the journey for knowledge, survival and more begins here! Written by Peter Calloway (GOTHAM CITY SIRENS, BATMAN: JOKER’S ASYLUM) with a cover by industry legend Brian Stelfreeze (BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT), this special intro to ANTI #1 will not disappoint!
The first issue of Anti arrives in July and will cost a buck.
The second story is a continuation of 12-Gauge’s The Ride, this time by Nathan Edmondson of Grifter and Who Is Jake Ellis? fame, along with artist Paul Azaceta, who has worked on Amazing Spider-Man and Graveyard of Empires, among other titles. Here’s a description:
As an added bonus, the time is now for the highly anticipated return of THE RIDE in this special co-feature story! Writer Nathan Edmondson (Grifter, Who Is Jake Ellis?) and artist Paul Azaceta (The Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil) put the pedal to the metal when the acclaimed crime-anthology roars back into comic stores– leading directly into an all-new The Ride series!
Check out both stories after the jump.
Over the past few years numerous artists have banded together to form blogs with creative challenges, allowing them quick creative exercises as a break from their day-to-day work. And a recent challenge by the artists over at the What Not blog has really kicked it up a notch and shown tribute to their fellow comics creators.
The challenge? Draw your favorite comic book artist.
Among the entries so far have been some amazing ones, from Francesco Francavilla’s Moebius, Mark Chiarello’s Alex Toth, Dave Johnson’s Brian Azzarello, Jock’s Dom Reardon, Cameron Stewart’s Naoki Urasawa and Andrew Robinson’s stunning Walt Simonson portrait seen at right.
“So many artists to choose from,” says Robinson in his blog post,” but there’s one comic book artist I’ve loved since I was a kid and I have never outgrown his work. In 1983 Walt Simonson defined graphic novels for me with Star Slammers. It’s a Marvel Graphic Novel, #6. If you haven’t seen it you must check it out. It’s incredible. Walt has such an energy to his drawings and such a great sense of design. I’ve been learning from him for years. So here’s to you Walt Simonson. Thanks.”
Click over to the blog to see each artist’s thoughts about their portraits and the people they depict, and stay tuned for possibly more artists entering their drawings.
For those not familiar with it, The Ride is an anthology series conceived by 12-Gauge president Keven Gardner that features various stories of murder and mayhem, with the unifying theme of a 1968 Camaro that appears in each story. Creators who worked on The Ride in the past include Chuck Dixon, Cully Hamner, Doug Wagner, Ron Marz, Jason Pearson, Brian Stelfreeze and many more. And now you can add Nathan Edmondson and Paul Azaceta to the list, as they prep the engine for a new The Ride series, a preview of which will appear alongside the Gale Anne Hurd-conceived Anti on FCBD.
Courtesy of 12-Gauge, here’s an exclusive look at the cover for The Ride by artist Andrew Robinson, and you can find a page from the book after the jump. Free Comic Book Day is May 5.
Last week Chris Arrant covered former Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Professor Bob Pendarvis’ Kickstarter effort to fund A Girl Called Ana Teaches Kittens How To Draw. In today’s email interview, Pendarvis discusses his aim with the book, as well as Sugar Ninjas, the all-female sequential art anthology series aimed at drawing a spotlight on female creators. My thanks to Pendarvis for his time, and Tom Feister for putting me in contact with Pendarvis. His Kickstarter site gives more background on Pendarvis, including that he “created and taught the first comic book illustration classes at the Savannah College of Art & Design, going on to co-found their comics-based BFA and MFA degree programs (along with writer Mark Kneece and artist Bo Hampton).” If you are interested in helping Pendarvis with his Kickstarter effort, please act now–as there are less than 20 days left to meet the $15,000 goal.
Tim O’Shea: How soon after leaving SCAD did you realize you wanted to develop Sugar Ninjas?
Bob Pendarvis: Sugar Ninjas was originally a project I came up with to showcase the amazing variety of female artists in my classes. In the summer of 2009, as my official association with SCAD was coming to an end (on mutually acceptable terms), I decided to expand the concept of the Sugar Ninjas to include not only SCAD students, but also female artists and storytellers from around the world. All material in the book is copyrighted exclusively to the creators and the books are printed at lulu.com, each one priced at printing costs only—I don’t make a penny from any copy sold (although I encourage the ninjas to add sketches and charge a few dollars more). Volumes 1 and 2 are available right now, and a revised edition of Volume 1 will be back in early 2012.
After its debut way back in the halcyon days of 1997, Andrew Robinson’s Dusty Star has been missing in action. It’s lone two issues impressed those that read it and even garnered praise from Warren Ellis, but it’s been 14 years … but now it’s coming back.
Over on his blog, Robinson has been showing off new pages from Dusty Star and announced the wide-brimmed heroine will pop up in an upcoming issue of IDW’s SAGA Illustrated. Robinson stated earlier that he’s working on a 40+ page story that’ll be published as a standalone graphic novel when finished.
Check out some additional artwork after the jump.