I think it’s hard to overestimate the value of The Sandman, the 75-issue Neil Gaiman-written series that began its life as a revival of the late-’70s Joe Simon/Jack Kirby character, and ended up as 1,600-plus page epic that was one of the all-time best gateway comics — not to mention a powerful factor in the mainstreaming of adult comics content and a then still-emerging graphic novel market.
So Gaiman returning to Dream of the Endless (and the first Dream, rather than Daniel), for the first time since 2003′s The Sandman: Endless Nights? That should be a pretty big deal, right?
For The Sandman: Overture, which debuted this week, Gaiman is paired with Promethea artist J.H. Williams III (better known these days for his run on Batwoman), colorist Dave Stewart and letterer Todd Klein, who lettered all the previous Sandman comics.
As exciting as the project is, it also feels rather dangerous for writer, reader, character and publisher. You know what they say about going home again, after all, or catching lightning in a bottle.
Graphic novels | France 24 examines the Thursday release of Asterix and the Picts — the first album by new creative team Jean Yves-Ferri and Didier Conrad — from a political perspective, noting that the story, in which Asterix and Obelix journey from ancient Gaul to Iron Age Scotland, has already become part of the current debate about Scottish independence. [France 24]
Creators | Chinese cartoonist Wang Liming, who spent a night in police custody last week on charges of “suspicion of causing a disturbance,” spoke to the press this week. Liming, who has more than 300,000 followers on his microblog account, first ran into trouble two years ago for one of his cartoons, but police told him that China has freedom of speech and he could continue drawing. Nonetheless, another of his cartoons, depicting Winnie the Pooh (a frequent cartoon stand-in for Chinese President Xi Jinping) kicking a football was deleted and suppressed by censors. “For them, drawing leaders in cartoon form is a big taboo,” the cartoonist said. “I think the controls on the Internet are too harsh. They have no sense of humor. They can’t accept any ridicule.” [Reuters]
If you’ve been keeping up with the events in the DC Universe, then you know things are looking particularly grim for the good guys.
At the conclusion of “Trinity War,” the Justice Leagues faced an invasion from the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 — “The birthplace of all evil,” as one character called it — evil counterparts of the Justice League. In the first issue of Forever Evil, these villains claimed to have killed all of the Justice Leaguers, they freed all the supervillains from all the super-prisons and organized them into an army called The Secret Society, they did some awful things to Nightwing and then even moved the moon to permanently block out the sun.
To mark the occasion of evil temporarily winning (again), DC declared September Villains Month, and is interrupting the ongoing adventures of its heroes with special “.1″ issues starring various villains. Each of these was to bear a fancy plastic 3D cover that jacked the price up a buck and ultimately created shortages, an artificial collectors/speculators market and irritated a whole bunch of retailers, many of whom were already pretty irritated by having to figure out how to order something like, say, Justice League #23.3: Dial E, which fused one of the publisher’s best selling comics with one of its worst.
We — and by that I mean you and I, for the course of this post — aren’t going to concern ourselves with that aspect of the books, however. Instead, let’s look under those covers, whether they’re the fancy plastic 3D ones or the regular, cheaper “standard edition” ones and concern ourselves with the quality of the comics concealed behind the covers.
Warner Bros. Television and TV Guide have teamed for the fourth consecutive year to produce a Comic-Con International special edition of the magazine, this time with a set of four flip covers that include Andy Kubert’s renditions of Superman and Batman.
The 88-page issue, which also boasts covers featuring The CW series Arrow, The Vampire Diaries and its new spinoff The Originals, and Supernatural, includes an overview of the 75-year history of the Man of Steel, an exclusive Arrow comic from DC Comics and the show’s executive producer Marc Guggenheim, a sneak peek at the DC Universe Original Animated Movie Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, and a look at Warner Bros. Animation series MAD, The Looney Tunes Show, Teen Titans Go! and Beware the Batman.
The special edition, which goes on sale July 17, will be available for free during Comic-Con at the Warner Bros. booth (#4545). You can see all of the covers below.
Shout! Factory has debuted the trailer for Marvel Knights Animation’s Wolverine: Origin, the motion-comic adaptation of the 2001-2002 limited series that, as the title suggests, revealed the early years of the ubiquitous Marvel mutant. It was written by Paul Jenkins from a story by Jenkins, Joe Quesada and Bill Jemas, and illustrated by Andy Kubert and Richard Isanove.
Wolverine: Origin is the ninth title produced by Shout! Factory since 2009, joining the likes of Inhumans, Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D., Iron Man: Extremis, Black Panther and, most recently, Astonishing X-Men: Unstoppable. It will be available on DVD beginning July 9 for $14.97.
The timing of the release couldn’t be better, considering that director James Mangold’s The Wolverine premieres July 26.
Digital comics | Watchmen co-creator David Gibbons discusses the comics he’s making for the Madefire digital app: “The term that we bandied around was that reading comics on the Madefire platform is a bit like reading comics on “intelligent” paper in that it’s got all the virtues of regular paper but it can do a whole lot of other things that a printed version can’t. There are wonderful things it can do with movement of the tablet, with animated transitions, and with ambient and event sound. We’ve also talked about creating the new grammar of graphic storytelling.” [ICv2]
Creators | A sold-out appearance by Stan Lee scheduled for Sept. 27 at Ohio’s Toledo-Lucas County Public Library has been canceled because of what the legendary writer’s agent reportedly described as “a very serious circumstance.” The library had sold 2,300 tickets for the “Authors! Authors!” series event, which had already been moved from April 18 because of a scheduling conflict. Lee, who turns 90 in December, cut short some public appearances in May, with a spokesman citing promotional fatigue and the death of Lee’s longtime business associate Arthur Lieberman. [Toledo Blade]
How better to remember the late, great Joe Kubert than with this 1965 photo from the Morris County, New Jersey, Daily Record showing him at the drawing board with son Andy (age 3 1/2)? “The Green Beret” mentioned in the caption is Tales of the Green Beret, the comic strip the elder Kubert drew from 1965 to 1968 (it spun out of the novel of the same by Robin Moore).
The DC Comics blog featured the photo about two years ago, when Joe and Andy Kubert were collaborating on the first two issues of DC Universe: Legacies. Andy wrote at the time: “I came across this old newspaper photo in my files that I had totally forgotten about which my mom had given me about 15-20 years ago. It was taken in my dad`s studio in the house I grew up in … his studio was above the attached garage overlooking the woods in the backyard. I still remember the smell of the paper and ink in there. He would let me set up a little area to draw and read comics as he drew. I loved the war, mystery and Superman and Batman comics. He would also show me a few drawing tricks (and still does!). From the looks of the photo, I don’t know how he put up with me in there!”
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 start things off with Hawkeye #1 (Marvel, $2.99). David Aja’s built up a great track record from his run on Iron Fist to his various one-off issues in and around the Marvel Universe, so seeing him re-team withIron Fist co-writer Matt Fraction is something special. Without creators like these I’d probably balk at a Hawkeye series, but they make this a must-buy. After that I’d get another first issue, Image’s Harvest #1 (Image, $3.50). AJ Lieberman’s quietly written a number of great stories, and this one seems pretty inventive. I might’ve waited for the trade on this, but newcomer Colin Lorimer’s art on it makes me think he’s going to be a big deal and I need to know about it. For the bronze in my $15 pile, it’s Avengers Vs. X-Men #9 (Marvel, $3.99). This week, Jason Aaron and Andy Kubert take point, re-teaming from their great but under-appreciated Astonishing Wolverine and Spider-Man series from a while back. Lastly, I’d get Daredevil #16 (Marvel, $2.99) because Waid is bringing his A-game, and the recent addition of Chris Samnee only makes it even more impressive. The previews for this issue shows guest appearances by Ant-Man, Doctor Strange and Iron Man, so it’ll be interesting to see how Waid factors them into Matt’s world.
If I had $30, I’d get Thief of Thieves #7 (Image, $2.99), which is becoming one of my favorite Image books and Nick Spencer’s finest at the moment. Having Shawn Martinbrough draw it only helps. After that, I’d get Earth 2 #4 (DC, $2.99). James Robinson is really living up to the “New 52” moniker by giving us one of the most imaginative and different takes on the DCU, and Nicola Scott is drawing up a storm here. After that, I’d tie things up with RASL #15 ($4.99). Jeff, you get my money sight unseen.
If I could splurge, I’d take a chance and order Absalom: Ghosts of London (2000 AD, $17.99) because it looks pretty great. British cops governing over an ages-old pact between the English government and hell? Hell yeah.
Video games | Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai has revealed a video game will be released later this year for smartphones, tablets and personal computers based on his long-running historical action-fantasy comic. Called Usagi Yojimbo: Way of the Ronin, it’s not the first video game to feature the samurai rabbit: Samurai Warrior: The Battles of Usagi Yojimbo debuted in 1987 for Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC. Expect more details next month at Comic-Con International in San Diego. [Facebook]
Conventions | Organizers of the Denver Comic Con anticipate that this weekend’s show was their second-largest ever. Batgirl writer Gail Simone praised the show, noting it sold out Friday and Saturday: “Sheesh, both Friday and Saturday completely sold out, the place was packed. There are tons of interesting guests, lots of great panels, and a real emphasis on diversity. The attendees have huge percentages of females, there’s more cosplayers here than any con this size I have been to, and very welcome indeed, there are lots and lots of kids.” [Denver Post]
While fans and retailers at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo were given a first glimpse at interior art for DC Comics’ sprawling Watchmen prequels, BuzzFeed now provides the best look yet at pages and character designs from Before Watchmen in the form of photos of a binder at the DC offices. Among the images are interiors from Rorschach, by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo, Silk Spectre, by Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner, Ozymandius, by Len Wein and Jae Lee, and Curse of the Crimson Corsair, by Wein and John Higgins. There are also character designs by Bermejo, Conner, Cooke, Higgins, Andy and Joe Kubert, and Lee.
Before Watchmen debuts in June.
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.
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 be all over Fatale #1, as I’ll grab anything Brubaker and Phillips do together. I’d go out on a limb and say that’s one of the best and consistently stellar collaborations in comics going on right now. I’d probably get the latest issue of The Boys as well, because that’s what I do.
If I had $30: Well, I haven’t read the first volume yet, but everyone says that the transgender manga series Wandering Son is stellar so I’d at least give it a look through, and perhaps nab volume one as my splurge for the week.
Wired’s GeekDad and Underwire blogs have an exclusive first look at Action Comics #5 which, as teased in the issue’s solicitation text, takes us back to doomed Krypton for some “keys facts about Superman’s past” — not the least of which is the apparent fate of Krypto. If you don’t want to know that last detail, you probably shouldn’t click the second link.
Action Comics #5, which features a main story by Grant Morrison, Andy Kubert and Jesse Delperdang, and a backup story by Sholly Fisch and ChrisCross, arrives Jan. 4.
Note: The artwork originally accompanying this post has been removed following a cease-and-desist letter from DC Entertainment’s legal affairs department.
Any doubts regarding the accuracy of reports about DC Comics’ long-rumored plans for Watchmen prequels may have eroded over the weekend with the emergence of character art by J.G. Jones and Joe Kubert and Andy Kubert.
Bleeding Cool characterizes the illustrations of Nite Owl and The Comedian as cover art for the projects, purportedly being assembled under the code name “Panic Room,” but considering the characters’ names are written on the pages, it seems more likely they’re concept designs.
The four prequels to the seminal 1986 miniseries by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons are said to also involve Darwyn Cooke, J. Michael Straczynski, John Higgins and even Gibbons himself. Cooke, however, seemed to dismiss reports he was working on one of the miniseries, telling CBR News recently, “Ah, get out, man. That’s like three years old.”
Bleeding Cool contends it’s been “informed quite conclusively from a reliable source” at the publisher that the artist is among the A-list talent involved in the secretive project, which reportedly will use key characters from the seminal 1986 miniseries by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
Other previously mentioned creators include Darwyn Cooke, J. Michael Straczynski, J.G. Jones, John Higgins and even Gibbons himself.
Murmurs of DC’s desire for a Watchmen follow-up gained steam in 2010 after the departure of President Paul Levitz, believed to be the last in-house obstacle to using the Moore-Gibbons characters. The writer seemed to confirm as much last year when he revealed the publisher finally had offered to return the rights to the property — copyright and royalty issues form the roots of his legendary feud with DC — in exchange for a concession: that Moore “agree to some dopey prequels and sequels.” He refused.
Then-newly minted Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee said at the time that DC “would only revisit these iconic characters if the creative vision of any proposed new stories matched the quality set by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons nearly 25 years ago, and our first discussion on any of this would naturally be with the creators themselves.”
As recently as August, Gibbons addressed perennial rumors of a sequel and the possibility of the characters being transplanted into the DC Universe, telling Comic Book Resources, “It’s not something that I’d personally like to see happen. [...] What I would say is, intrinsic to the whole idea of Watchmen is that they existed in a world that was the way it was because of their existence. And I think to transplant them into another world actually removes a huge part of what is the essence of Watchmen.”