Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Declan Shalvey’s friendship with Stephen Mooney stretches back nearly a decade, to before either Irish creator was well known in the United States. So when the Moon Knight artist pitched ROBOT 6 the idea of interviewing Half Past Danger creator Mooney about the hardcover collection, arriving Jan. 29 from IDW Publishing, we didn’t hesitate to say yes, thinking the conversation would offer terrific insight into their relationship, their careers, the Irish comics scene and, of course, Mooney’s Nazis vs. dinosaurs adventure.
As it turns out, we were right.
Franco Urru, the Italian artist best known to American readers for his work on Spike: Asylum, Spike: Shadow Puppets and Angel: After the Fall, has passed away, reports IDW Publishing Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall.
“Between flights now, I just got terrible news that Angel artist and wonderful person Franco Urru passed away,” Ryall wrote this morning on Twitter. “Rest peacefully, dear friend.”
Urru, who began working in comics in Italy as an assistant, inking, penciling backgrounds and conducting research for established artists, broke into the U.S. industry in 2006 with Spike: Asylum. “I landed into that wonderful script after a friend showed my pages to Chris Ryall,” he told The Comic Book Guide to Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 2009. “At the time Brian Lynch had written his first story for IDW and I started to work immediately on the covers of the entire mini. After finishing the first cover I realized that I was exactly where I wanted to be.”
In Italy, Urru worked in a variety of genres, ranging from fantasy to superheroes to erotic comics. His death follows the passings this week of alternative comix pioneer Spain Rodriguez and 30 Days of Night and Willow Creek artist Josh Medors.
Anyone who has had the displeasure of editing or reading poorly executed copycat literature is likely entertained by the core premise of writer Andrew Foley & artist Fiona Staples’ Done to Death trade collection: an editor who sets out to kill the writers of bad literature. This trade collection, which was released by IDW on September 21, had quite a six-year journey to get on the shelves, as Foley explained to me in this email interview. My thanks to Foley for his time. Once you’ve read this interview, be sure to read the late September interview that Foley did with CBR’s Shaun Manning.
Tim O’Shea: How long have you been developing Done to Death and how did it come to be at IDW?
Andrew Foley: It’s taken a little over six years to finally get this collection on the shelves. The original five issues took a little more than a year from to get from the initial pitch to publication. After parting ways with Markosia Fiona and I spent quite a while looking for the right publisher for the collection. In the early portion of my career, I had publishers I was working with: abruptly go out of business; unilaterally break contracts they’d agreed to; elect not to publish several graphic novels (at least one fully illustrated) I wrote for them while being constantly reassured they would see the light of day; stiff dozens of creators when the publisher decided the moment for their wildly ambitious anthology series had passed; and just generally try to advance themselves on the backs of passionate (if naïve) creators.
There are some great indy publishers out there. Red 5 springs to mind. But there are also a distressingly high number of predatory companies around whose sole purpose is to acquire or control as much intellectual property for as little as possible in the hopes that one will become 30 Days of Night or Cowboys & Aliens and get optioned for millions of dollars. It’s a bit like playing the lottery, only each ticket represents hundreds of hours of labour on the creators’ parts.
With Joss Whedon’s Angel returning to Dark Horse Comics later this year, the publisher plans to collect previous Angel comics into an Omnibus in July.
Dark Horse previously published Angel, first as a monthly then as a miniseries, from 2000 to 2002. The Angel Omnibus will include Angel #1–#14 and #17, Angel: Long Night’s Journey #1–#4, Dark Horse Presents #153–#155: “Hunting Ground,” Dark Horse Extra #25–#28: “Angel,” and Angel: Point of Order. Issues #15-16 of the ongoing Angel series were a crossover with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and were previously collected in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Past Lives.
IDW Publishing acquired the rights to the property in 2005, and since has released numerous miniseries and an ongoing series. Dark Horse will publish new Angel comics again later this year, when the “ninth season” of Buffy the Vampire Slayer kicks off.
Check out the solicitation text after the jump.
With the release today of Buffy the Vampire Slayer #40, the conclusion of the sprawling Season 8 storyline, creator Joss Whedon says he’s already looking forward to a more “down to earth” Season 9.
“I got very excited when I had a comic book with the idea that I could do absolutely anything,” he tells Etertainment Weekly‘s Shelf Life blog. “We hit a lot of beautiful notes and I’ve got a lot of great writers working [on the comics], and I’m very proud of it. But at the same time, it’s like, yeah, ‘You can do anything’ is not really the Buffy mission statement. The Buffy mission statement is, ‘What does this feel like?’ So I wanted to bounce it back a little bit to the real world.”
Be warned: The interview contains spoilers for Season 8, so if you’ve been picking up the collected editions, you’ll probably want to avoid that link.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer will relaunch late this year, coinciding with the return of Angel to Dark Horse. The publisher has said that the new season will be “a little tighter, a little more concise” than Season 8, which took nearly four years to complete.
Related: Dark Horse has a list of retailers who are marking Buffy Summers’ birthday — it’s today! — with special events.
Last week it was revealed — prematurely, it turns out — that after nearly five years at IDW, the Angel comics will move in late 2011 to Dark Horse, home of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Dark Horse previously published Angel, first as a monthly then as a miniseries, from 2000 to 2002.
The surprise announcement naturally left fans of the IDW series, and the upcoming Spike spin-off, confused, leading IDW Chief Creative Officer Chris Ryall to dedicate a thread on the company’s message board to answering their questions. This week Ryall collected that thread’s highlights for an “official Angel is leaving IDW Q&A” that clarifies some of the issues surrounding the move — including, most notably, the driving force behind the decision. Namely, Buffy creator Joss Whedon.
“… Ultimately, these are all Joss Whedon’s characters,” Ryall wrote, “and if he decides that they’re best-served being under another roof, then that’s what will happen.” Later, when asked whether IDW was outbid for the Angel license, Ryall added: “I would not have stopped doing Angel comics if it were up to me; money had nothing to do with it. These are Joss’ characters and as I mentioned above, Joss wanted them all under one roof. And it so happens that that roof is located in Oregon, not San Diego.”
Dark Horse published Buffy comics from 1998 to 2004 before launching the highly successful Season 8 in 2007. A canonical continuation of the cult-hit television series, Season 8 is supervised by Whedon, who also wrote the opening and closing arcs. The series will conclude in January with Issue 40 before relaunching as Season 9 — alongside the return of Angel — in late 2011.
Following yesterday’s announcement, Dark Horse and IDW Publishing now have confirmed that Angel will return to Dark Horse beginning late next year. IDW has held the comics rights to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television spin-off since 2005.
Under the direction of Buffy and Angel creator Joss Whedon, all parties are working together for as seamless a transition as possible,” IDW said in a statement posted today on the company’s website. “The companies have been coordinating storylines in both Dark Horse’s Buffy and IDW’s Angel, creating a greater sense of cohesion and cooperation to ensure that this transition is true to both ongoing storylines and to the faithful fans of both series.”
News of the move broke yesterday in Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Riley one-shot, “without coordination with IDW,” the company notes.
In the IDW statement, Dark Horse senior managing editor Scott Allie apologized for the way the news was released: “Behind the scenes, we’d been working closely with IDW to ensure that the hand-off went smoothly. It was never our intent to catch Angel or IDW readers unaware.”
IDW’s final six-issue arc begins in November with Angel #39.
Dark Horse published Angel from 2000 to 2002, first as an ongoing series and then, briefly, as a miniseries. The company also published Buffy comics from 1998 to 2004 before launching the highly successful Season 8 in 2007. Season 9 begins late next year.
“I’ve always regretted letting Angel go in the first place,” senior managing editor Scott Allie said in a separate press release. “So we’re really excited about getting him back, as well as all his supporting cast. It’s necessary for how Joss wants to handle season nine, details of which will start spilling out in the months to come. Right now, we’ve got to wrap up season eight, and IDW still has a good long run of books before season nine starts.”
An announcement in Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Riley one-shot has fans wondering, and worrying, about the future of IDW Publishing’s Angel series.
In a column at the end of the issue, in stores today, Dark Horse Senior Managing Editor Scott Allie teased “the return of the Angel series to Dark Horse in late 2011, in tandem with our Buffy Season 9 relaunch.” (You can read the full column after the break.)
Angel, based on the Buffy television spin-off created by Joss Whedon, was published by Dark Horse from 2000 to 2002, first as an ongoing series and then, briefly, as a miniseries. However, IDW acquired the rights to the property in 2005, and since has released numerous miniseries and an ongoing series. Angel #36 was released this week; a Spike series debuts in October. Dark Horse published Buffy comics from 1998 to 2004 before launching the highly successful Season 8 in 2007.
Word of Allie’s brief announcement quickly spread online, both on the Whedonesque fan community and on the IDW message board. Reaction has been decidedly mixed, with fans looking for clarification on the future of Angel, and how the move might affect the rest of the “Buffyverse.”
Chris Ryall, IDW’s publisher and editor-in-chief, posted on his company’s forum earlier today, telling concerned Angel readers that, “We’ll be addressing this soon, so please bear with us. Thanks, for your patience and your support.”
A conflict emerged in January when it was revealed that Twilight, the villain lurking behind the scenes for much of Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, was actually Angel. Although Allie assured fans that the surprise twist wouldn’t conflict with the continuity of the IDW series, and would be “made to work,” new Angel writer Bill Willingham was quick to point out that he was never informed of the plot development.
But as recently as Friday, Allie tweeted about brainstorming with Ryall, Spike writer Brian Lynch and IDW editor Mariah Huehner, suggesting that the two companies had overcome any coordination glitches.
I’m pretty sure that the first licensed comic I actually bought would’ve been a Star Wars comic. I don’t really remember ever buying any of them, but I remember always having them around (For some reason, I specifically remember them always being around when I was sick, although I do remember eagerly running home from the newsagent with the first issue of Return Of The Jedi, hoping to find out what happened in the new movie before it came out, and being somewhere between excited and upset to realize that the movie adaptation only filled the first third of the issue, with a random SW story and The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones filling up the rest). The first one I remember actively collecting was the Marvel UK version of Transformers, although I didn’t think of that as a licensed comic; my head didn’t work that way, yet, so it was just a comic that was connected to those toys that I thought were awesome in some mysterious way.
So why is there some kind of stigma against licensed comics these days?