I’ll admit, I’m one of those people who seldom notices lettering unless it’s bad, so when I was offered an interview with Deron Bennett, the letterer of Archaia’s Cyborg 009, I jumped at the chance to expand my horizons a bit. Bennett, who was nominated for an Eisner Award last year, has lettered both manga and Western comics, and he worked on both the original translation of the Cyborg 009 manga and Archaia’s Western-style retelling, so he has a unique perspective on this particular work. I also stole the opportunity to ask him some more general questions about being a letterer and what he looks for in other people’s work.
Brigid Alverson: I saw on your blog that you worked on Tokyopop’s translation of the original manga version of Cyborg 009 as well as a later Ishimori Productions edition. What sort of work did you do for them?
Deron Bennett: So here’s the breakdown on that: I was a production artist for Tokyopop when they first brought Cyborg 009 to the U.S. A friend and co-worker of mine, James Lee, actually did the lettering for the manga. I was involved in post-lettering duties at the time, handling things like corrections and pre-press. That role came in handy, years later, when Itochu Corporation decided to revitalize the property through an agreement with Ishimori Productions. They wanted to digitally distribute the Cyborg 009 manga that Tokyopop had produced, but it needed some updating. I was contracted to add translations to the sound effects and fix some existing errors. That, in turn, got me lettering duties on two other Ishinomori classics, Skullman and Kikaider, which were also being prepped for digital distribution. You can currently find the versions of all three titles that I worked on on the comiXology app.
BOOM! Studios and its imprints KaBOOM! and Archaia Entertainment have announced their exclusive comics and prints for New York Comic Con, held Oct. 10-13 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. All of the convention exclusives will be available for sale at the BOOM! booth (#1344), where a number of creators also will be signing.
Archaia has provided Robot 6 with an exclusive look at David Petersen’s cover for the second volume of the anthology Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard. The book will be solicited in the new Previews catalog (out Friday), but this is the first time anyone who wasn’t at the Mouse Guard panel at Comic-Con will get to see the cover.
The first volume of Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard was nominated for an Eisner Award, and this volume is just as strong, with short stories set in the Mouse Guard universe by an impressive array of creators, including Stan Sakai, Bill Willingham, Rick Geary and Christian Slade, all told around the fireplace at the June Alley Inn. It’s due out in November.
Click below for a larger look at the cover.
With the announcement at Comic-Con International of Mouse Guard: The Weasel War of 1149, Archaia gave the panel attendees an exclusive print that creator David Petersen now reveals was “technically” the first artwork he produced for the acclaimed fantasy series.
“The Weasel War of 1149 is the earliest story I had ever thought of for Mouse Guard,” he explains on his blog. “In fact, at that time, the title of the project was 1149 and the Mouse Guard was simply the name of the group of heroic mice in the story. The three characters I wanted to focus on were Kenzie (leader, blue cloak, name means wise), Saxon (aggressive, red cloak, name means sword), and Rand (defensive, yellow cloak, name means shield) in the heat of an unevenly matched war against the weasels of Darkheather. [...] A lot of what I wrote down back in 1996 for that story is now junk. But the idea of it, some character interactions, and the way it resolves, are still alive and well in the mental draft I have going for the next Mouse Guard book. Plus after having three other Mouse Guard books of mine published since then, I have to incorporate what Mouse Guard has become into this forthcoming volume.”
Although the prequel is forthcoming, Petersen says he doesn’t have a start date or a completion date yet. “I have a few side projects I want to take some time to work on and publish before I dive into another Mouse Guard hardcover,” he writes. “I’ll update on all of that through Twitter and this blog, when I’m ready to share more info. And do not worry about my return to Mouse Guard, this is simply a short vacation. … Mouse Guard will be the project I work on for the rest of my life.”
Late last night the imprint announced it will publish Hacktivist, a hardcover original graphic novel exploring “the modern world of hacking and activism.” The book began as an idea by actress Alyssa Milano after she learned about that world through her philanthropic endeavors and her friendship with Twitter creator Jack Dorsey.
“I’m very involved with in global activism and philanthropy,” Milano said in a statement. “I like the idea of everyday people doing good. I picture [Dorsey] leaving the office at night and going home, where he locks himself in his room and starts hacking to change the world.”
In this fictional story, the two founders of an upstart social-media service are discovered by the U.S. government to be one of the foremost “black-hat hacker teams” in the world, setting them on a path to question what’s right and decide what’s best for themselves and the world.
Kids take center stage on the last day of Comic-Con International, as proven by the rich slate of panels dedicated to kids’ comics, all-ages comics and animation on Sunday, July 21.
DC Comics, Archaia, Archie, IDW and Oni Press all host kid-friendly panels, while DC Entertainment shows off episodes of Beware the Batman and Teen Titans Go. You’ll also find spotlight panels for Neil Gaiman, Ted Naifeh, Faith Erin Hicks, Mike Norton, Jerry Ordway, Dan Jurgens and Adam Hughes, and a tribute panel to Jack Kirby.
Check out some of the comics-related highlights below, and visit the Comic-Con website for the full schedule:
Comic-Con International continued to reveal the programming schedule for San Diego as they rolled out the panels and events scheduled for Saturday, July 20.
The third day brings panels from Skybound, BOOM!, Archaia, Top Shelf, Fantagraphics, Drawn + Quarterly, Top Cow, Archie, Action Lab Entertainment, IDW and Rebellion, Dark Horse, Image Comics, Valiant and Lion Forge Comics, the makers of those Saved by the Bell and Knight Rider comics that are coming soon. DC has panels dedicated to Green Lantern, Superman’s 75th anniversary, Sandman and Batman: Year Zero, while Marvel has panels on Infinity, their video games, animation slate and their movies, which include Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (no doubt they’ll have a little more than that). In what is likely his first trip to Comic-Con, Congressman John Lewis will be on hand to talk about his book from Top Shelf, March.
You’ll also find spotlight panels on Russ Heath, Sam Kieth, Val Mayerik, Vera Brosgol, John Romita Jr., Jon Bogdanove, Jim Lee, George Perez, Gerry Conway, Frank Brunner, Roy Thomas and Paul Dini, as well as a tribute to Joe Kubert. The day wraps up with the annual CCI Masquerade.
Check out some of the comics-related highlights below, and visit the Comic-Con website for the full schedule:
Welcome to “Report Card,” our new week-in-review feature. If “Cheat Sheet” is your guide to the week ahead, “Report Card” is a look back at the top news stories of the previous week, as well as a look at the Robot 6 team’s favorite comics that we read.
So read on to find out what we thought of Hawkeye #11, the second issues of Green Team and The Wake, SpongeBob Comics Annual #1: Super-Giant Swimtacular and much more.
I love when Mouse Guard creator David Petersen writes process posts, particularly when they involve the construction of models to help him draw mouse-sized rooms (or entire towns), and sewer tunnels ideal for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. His latest, for the cover of Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard Vol. 2 #3, doesn’t feature any little papercraft houses, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
From reference material and initial sketches to inks and the finished illustration, the artist walks us through the creation of the cover, which features a trio of musicians “that could play so well, they’d call back the dead.” However, the execution proved a little complicated.
“The inks were a bit tricky because of the ghost effects,” he writes, “and at several times while inking I worried this cover wouldn’t work the way I was proceeding with it, but I just pushed through figuring I’d make sense of it all in color.” And it did, as you can see from the finished cover above.
Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard Vol. 2 #3 arrives Aug. 28.
BookExpo America takes place the Javits Center, just like New York Comic Con, but it’s a completely different kind of show. It’s a trade show, not a consumer show, so the folks in the aisles aren’t fans looking for a fix, they are potential customers to be wooed. And what you see there is a pretty reliable guide to what everyone will be talking about in a couple of months.
So if you happened into the little graphic novel enclave at the right time, you might see Gene Luen Yang sitting there, pen in hand, ready to autograph a free Avatar graphic novel for you, or maybe Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights pioneer, sitting next to Andrew Aydin, with ashcans of their graphic novel about Lewis’ life, March, and while you might have to wait a few minutes for your turn, you wouldn’t have to stand on the sort of long lines they might draw at San Diego. The pace is more leisurely than a comic convention — the creators chat as they sign your comics — and the blasting noise of video game and movie displays is blissfully absent.
It’s true there aren’t a lot of comics publishers at BEA, although there are a fair number of book publishers who include comics in their lines. Abrams didn’t send their ComicArts people, but if you consider Diary of a Wimpy Kid to be a comic (I’m always happy to claim that one for our side), then they were well represented, and many attendees had Wimpy Kid stickers on their badges.
Sharaz-De: Tales from the Arabian Nights
By Sergio Toppi
In his foreword to Sharaz-De, Walt Simonson describes picking up Sergio Toppi comics in their original Italian during the ‘70s. Though Simonson doesn’t read Italian, he was attracted to the art, and it’s easy to see why. Every page invites the reader to stop and study. Toppi is a master at cross-hatching. He gives people, animals, and settings layers and layers of detail through thousands of short lines, all directing the eye to exactly the place he wants it to go. He pulls me in not just panel after panel, but figure after figure. Fortunately, Sharaz-De has large pages with lots of room, and as adept as Toppi is at filling those pages with ink, he’s equally skilled at using negative space to balance out compositions and give the eye a break.
I empathize with Simonson’s being so pulled into this stuff even though he didn’t understand the text. I’ve often been tempted to pick up European comics that I couldn’t read simply because they were beautiful. I’ve always resisted though, because I’m too interested in story to be able to enjoy comics purely for their visuals. That’s why I get excited when publishers like Archaia translate these books for English readers.
I read Toppi’s Sharaz-De back-to-back with another graphic novel, A Flight of Angels by Rebecca Guay and Friends. There’s a line in Guay’s book that was written by Holly Black: “Tricksters tell the truth in a way that makes it lies.” That stuck with me, because I think the opposite is true of great storytellers, who tell lies in a way that makes them truth. That’s an appropriate description of what’s going on in Sharaz-De. It’s not only what Toppi is doing, but his main character as well.
Last year, we got the news that Archaia is reworking the late Shotaro Ishinomori’s classic manga Cyborg 009 as a Western-style comic. This week, we get a first look at it as they post the first issue on comiXology. Cyborg 009: Chapter 000, priced at $2.99, is actually a package deal, with the first 17 pages of the new version (to be released as a graphic novel at Comic-Con International) and the first 61 pages of the manga. While the real intention is probably to whet readers’ appetites, the release also coincides handily with Ishinomori’s 75th birthday.
(For those who like to get back to roots, Shaenon Garrity has a loving explanation of the original, which is available on comiXology for $4.99 a volume).
Anyway, the coolest thing about this sampler is something you won’t see on the hard copy: the “truly digital” variant cover. It’s a cover that can only appear on the digital comic because the image builds up with a series of swipes. This type of reveal has been used before, in Mark Waid and Peter Krause’s Insufferable and Marvel’s Avengers vs. X-Men #1: Infinite (written by Waid and drawn by Stuart Immonen), but this is the first time I have seen it on a cover. And it will likely be unique, not just to digital but to comiXology, because it uses comiXology’s Guided View to achieve the effect.
You can check out an animated GIF of the cover below.
Continuing our look at upcoming graphic novels from Archaia, the publisher provided ROBOT 6 with a peek at pages from Saurav Mohapatra and Vivek Shinde’s Eastern noir comic Mumbai Confidential. The story follows a washed-out, drug-addicted, former member of a government hit squad as he investigates the hit-and-run that put him in a coma for a month. Turns out, it’s an investigation his former bosses don’t want anyone performing.
Mumbai Confidential has been available digitally since July, but will get its hardcover, print debut in March.
Animator Yehudi Mercado brings the zaniness of modern kids’ cartoons to his super-fun, all-ages graphic novel Pantalones, TX: Don’t Chicken Out. It sort of looks like a Cartoon Network version of Dukes of Hazzard, as a band of kids in rural Texas try to outwit, outrun and out-prank a taco truck-riding sheriff and his giant chicken.
The book is available now digitally and the hardcover, print edition arriving in March. Archaia has provided ROBOT 6 with a five-page preview, below:
Josh Tierney’s Spera is a unique take on the fantasy epic. Rather than telling a straight story about a couple of girls trying to rescue one of their kingdom’s from the evil family of the other, the series offers the quest as the framework that holds the book together, but in an anthology-like format. Each story is written by Tierney, but drawn by a different artist, and the tales vary in how much they relate to the main plot. Some push it along directly, while others are diverting side-adventures.
That’s a template employed by a lot of TV shows, and it also works for Spera. It’s a meandering adventure, but a lovely and diverting one. Tierney is working with some wonderful artists, and the upcoming second volume, which goes on sale Feb. 5, will feature work by Giannis Milonogiannis, Kyla Vanderklugt, Afu Chan, and Timothy Weaver.
Archaia has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive preview, below: