Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
Three factors interest me after reading the first issue of Southern Cross, the Image Comics mystery–set on a futuristic tanker spaceship–by writer Becky Cloonan, artist Andy Belanger and color artist Lee Loughridge. Something about the way the cast is introduced as the series lead Alex Braith boards the tanker flight to Titan (a refinery moon) plays out in a manner that is reminiscent of a 1970s murder mystery movie set on a train. Secondly, the cinematic scale of some of Belanger’s establishing shots, particularly of the tanker itself. But most of all, I find myself taken by the troubled and somewhat internally conflicted character of Braith herself.
Although Southern Cross, the sci-fi horror series from Becky Cloonan, Andy Belanger and Lee Loughridge, doesn’t debut from Image Comics until March, its production blog has already proved itself a must-read. Or a must-view, in any case.
The series follows Alex Braith as she boards the oil tanker Southern Cross en route to Saturn’s moon Titan to collect her sister’s remains, retrace her steps and uncover answers about her death.
On the blog, the creators have posted everything from character designs to logo treatments for the comic’s galactic oil company to — best of all for anyone who ever spent hours poring over schematics of Titans Tower or the U.S.S. Enterprise — a top-down blueprint of the Southern Cross itself.
After the January Image Expo, Image Comics received some flak because most of the creators on stage were white men. On Wednesday, Publisher Eric Stephenson’s keynote address to the Image Expo held in conjunction with Comic-Con International included the following comments: “If we want to build a more diverse industry, though, if we want to develop a more diverse talent pool, then it is of utmost importance that we produce comics that appeal to as wide an audience as possible …”
That was said within the context of the historic gender disparity in comics, especially when looking at mainstream comics and the direct market. There’s more evidence than ever that the gender disparity in readership is no longer true; women are just as likely to read comics as men. If that’s true, then one would hope that just as many would be likely to attempt to make comics. That doesn’t seem to have come to pass in this corner of the industry, but Image announced a trio of upcoming releases that will hopefully start to shift the momentum in the right direction. If nothing else, these are among the most promising books to be announced at Image Expo, and they build on the gratifying surge in creator-owned comics.
IDW Publishing has announced the return of Kill Shakespeare in June with The Mask of Night, a four-issue pirate adventure from series creators Anthony Del Col, Conor McCreery and Andy Belanger.
Debuting in April 2010, Kill Shakespeare is an epic adventure in which Hamlet, Juliet, Othello, Falstaff, Romeo and Puck search for William Shakespeare, a reclusive wizard believed to have the ability to help them in their fight against evil forces led by Richard III, Lady Macbeth and Iago.
The initial 12-issue miniseries inspired a 2013 sequel, The Tide of Blood, and a Kickstarter-funded board game, which is scheduled to arrive in May.
In The Mask of Night, Hamlet, Juliet, Othello and Shakespeare become pawns in a game of survival between the masked pirate Captain Cesario, his first mate Viola and Titus Adronicus’ warship the Lavinia.
“Not only does it include characters from our previous books but [it] incorporates one of Shakespeare’s most famous heroines, Viola, who we have refashioned into one of the coolest female pirates ever,” Del Col said in a statement. “I think fans — both new and old — are going to find this homage to classic pirate tales a real treat.”As the cast of characters ties in to the board game, IDW Games is offering all four issues of The Mask of Knight to anyone who backs the Kickstarter campaign at the game level.
When she isn’t drawing comics like Batman or The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, Becky Cloonan is self-publishing her own awesome minicomics like The Mire and Wolves. Her latest, Demeter, is now available for pre-order on WereHouse.ca, a site that also features work by Karl Kerschl and Andy Belanger.
Cloonan said she decided to move from her previous storefront at Big Cartel to the new site because of the response she’s received to her self-published comics.
IDW Publishing announced at New York Comic Con that Kill Shakespeare co-creators Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery and artist Andy Belanger will return in February with a five-issue miniseries called The Tide of Blood.
Debuting in 2010, the original 12-issue adventure pits the Bard’s greatest heroes — Hamlet, Juliet and Puck, among them — against his most menacing villains (a list that includes Richard III, Lady Macbeth and Iago) in a quest to find a reclusive wizard named William Shakespeare.
The Tide of Blood will follow Hamlet, Juliet, Othello and Romeo as they confront the rogue wizard Prospero, who’s determined to destroy all of creation. As if that weren’t enough, “Hamlet must embark on a perilous journey to a remote island whose inhabitants have gone mad and want the Dane’s blood – if a love triangle and Cupid’s poisoned bow doesn’t kill Hamlet first.”
“It is a dream come true for us to be back at the New York Comic Con, where we first pitched Kill Shakespeare to IDW almost four years ago,” Del Col said in a statement. “We are incredibly happy that our fans and readers have been asking for more and have put together a new story that takes our characters in an exciting new direction.”
Kill Shakespeare was nominated for the 2011 Harvey Award for Best New Comic Series and the 2012 Joe Shuster Award for Comic Writing. The first series has been collected in two volumes, A Sea of Troubles and The Blast of War.
Crime may be around the corner, but justice is right behind it.
Former Marvel and DC Comics editor Kwanza Johnson is teaming with Kill Shakespeare artist Andy Belanger on a no-nonsense single-panel webcomic series whose concept is boiled down in its title: Insta★Cop. Alumni of DC’s Zuda webcomics imprint, Johnson and Belanger seem to be keeping that spirit alive in this strip.
“[Lead character] John Cop is a man on a mission. A mission to eat donuts, drink coffee and dispense justice to punks who would defy the law,” they explain on their Facebook page. ” The story updates every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Wear shades while you read, it might burn your eyes.”
This is the first time Johnson has written a published comic that I’m aware of, but he’s built goodwill with his work at DC and Marvel. Belanger has been doling out his own comic justice with Kill Shakespeare and the greatly missed Bottle of Awesome webcomic.
Here’s the first week’s worth of material, which gives you an idea what to expect moving forward:
J. Torres explains his newest project:
A number of my Canadian comic book pals and I grew up reading Alpha Flight, Captain Canuck, or Wolverine comics and we’ve always thought that there should be more Canadian superheroes out there. Over the years, we’d periodically get together and inevitably talk about the Canadian superheroes we’ve created (sometimes dating back to childhood) and always wanting to do “something” with them.
Well, we’re finally about to do something — something pretty big, and pretty cool. Kinda like Canada itself, eh?
That something is True Patriot, an anthology of short stories featuring homegrown Canadian superheroes, and Torres has announced a stellar roster that includes Scott Chantler (Two Generals), Ramon Perez (A Tale of Sand), Andy Belanger (Kill Shakespeare), Faith Erin Hicks (Friends With Boys, The Adventures of Superhero Girl) and the team of Jack Briglio and Ron Salas. The anthology will be 100 pages, full color (or “colour,” as they say north of the border), and available in both hardcover and digital formats. Watch for the campaign to go live on IndieGoGo on Oct. 1, but in the meantime, check out Torres’ blog for some cool character designs.
Every year Time Out New York bestows its Food & Drink Awards, with the magazine’s critics and readers selecting the best wining and dining the city has to offer. For the 2012 installment, however, the editors tried something a little different, enlisting Kill Shakespeare artist Andy Belanger to transform the winning chefs and barkeeps into Silver Age-style superheroes (with nods to Marvel’s Captain America, Iron Fist, Power Man and Silver Surfer, among others).
Check out some of Belanger’s Time Out New York illustrations below, and visit the magazine’s website for more. The Food & Drink Awards issue is on stands now.
Boston Comic Con isn’t one of your better-known cons, like SDCC or NYCC—heck, I live just north of Boston and I never heard of it until last year—but if you’re in the area, this year’s show looks like a pretty good bet, with guests like Darwyn Cooke, Frank Quitely, and Joe Kubert.
Right off the bat, BCC is better than 90 percent of comic cons because it is not in some sterile, isolated convention center. You know how you have to walk a mile from the Javits to get a reasonably priced sandwich? No problem here; the Hynes Convention Center is conveniently attached to a mall, and it’s located in the heart of the Back Bay, which is chock full of great little restaurants, funky boutiques, and bars with atmosphere. I used to live in the neighborhood, and it’s still one of my favorite places to go. When you’re at the Hynes, you know you’re in Boston.
Another nice thing about a small con is that conflicting panel times won’t drive you crazy; the panel schedule (warning: PDF) has only one strand, so if you want to see Stan Sakai, Darwyn Cooke, and Terry Moore speak, you don’t have to be in three places at once. Just stay in your seat.
And there will be interesting things to see and to buy! Sam Costello will be debuting the latest volume of his Split Lip horror comic, complete with a back cover blurb from me! Anthony del Col and Andy Belanger, two of the creators of Kill Shakespeare, will be there with an “exclusive digital promotion” as well as the news that they just got some financing to develop a film script based on the property. The Artists Alley lineup includes Thom Zahler (Love and Capes), Tak Toyoshima (Secret Asian Man) and a panoply of Boston-area talent. I just hope the show doesn’t get too successful, or they’ll move it to Boston’s own sterile, out-of-the-way convention center and it will lose much of its charm.