SPIDER-MANDATE: The Lowe-down on "Secret Wars," Tie-Ins and Stacey Lee
[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow is a charming children’s story with clearly defined heroes and villains, plus music-making Muppet monsters from outer space, all lovingly adapted into comics form by Roger Langridge. It has a classic feel that will please adults but is fresh enough for children to enjoy, and Langridge does a particularly nice job of rendering music into visual form, something that is often a challenge for creators.
The book is adapted from a script that Jim Henson and collaborator Jerry Juhl wrote for a children’s television special, and the story is pretty straightforward. The protagonist, Timmy, lives with his Aunt Clytemnestra, who has an other-worldly feel to her, and his older sister Ann, who is more of a hippie type (the story is set in 1968). Ann and Timmy like to go out to an isolated area of their property to practice playing guitar, but they get chased off by their mean neighbor Mister Sump, who wants the land for himself.
Timmy is out practicing one day when the monsters arrive and accompany him with strange musical sounds of their own. Soon Timmy is friends with the monsters, but you know in a story like this that the bad guy is going to cause trouble, and that’s exactly what happens. Turkey Hollow has more turkeys than people, and suddenly the turkeys are all gone and the monsters are found sleeping in a heap with bones scattered all around. The sheriff reluctantly rounds the monsters up and puts them in jail, but Timmy is pretty sure they are being framed, and he sets off to prove it.
I spoke with the former Muppet Show cartoonist about his current projects — a return to BOOM! Studios with The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow and his creator-owned Abigail and the Snowman – what he likes about SPX, and what awesome comics he found at show. He came up with a doozie!
Brigid Alverson: Why are you here at SPX?
Roger Langridge: SPX is the first American convention I ever came to, in 2000.
What book were you debuting there?
I wasn’t! I was in the country with my wife, and we were visiting New York together, and we thought we would work in a trip to SPX while we were here. We came just to see it and to check it out and see what it was like. I was at that point working on Fred the Clown as a webcomic, and I showed it around to a few people, and it really fired me up to do self-publishing. The next year I was planning to debut Fred the Clown at SPX 2001, and of course that’s the one that was canceled because of 9/11. But that got me self-publishing, which is pretty much why I have a career today, I think.
Archaia is launching a new Fraggle Rock miniseries, based on the 1980s Jim Henson television show of the same name. This is Archaia’s third Fraggle Rock title, following a two-volume anthology of short stories in 2010 and a collection of issues from Marvel’s Star Comics imprint in 2011.
Debuting Oct. 8, Fraggle Rock: Journey to the Everspring is a four-issue limited series with a single story arc, written by Kate Leth, who has worked on BOOM! Studios’ Adventure Time and Bravest Warriors comics, and Jake Myler, who was involved in the earlier Fraggle Rock comics.
In this series, the Fraggles’ water supply mysteriously runs dry, and a group sets out on a quest to find the Everspring, their water source, which no Fraggle has ever seen before. If previous comics are any guide, there will be strong personalities and plenty of silliness along the way.
This is just the latest in a long line of Henson-themed comics from Archaia, which has also published anthologies based on The Storyteller, graphic novels and novelizations of the movie The Dark Crystal, and an adaptation of Henson’s unproduced screenplay A Tale of Sand.
BOOM! Studios and its imprints KaBOOM!, BOOM! Box and Archaia are returning to Comic-Con International with a packed roster of creators — from David Petersen and Noelle Stevenson to Eric Powell and James Tynion IV — signing at the publisher’s booth (#2229).
Of course, there’s also a long list of convention-exclusive variants, for the Cartoon Network titles, Lumberjanes, The Woods and more, and limited-edition hardcovers. Plus, don’t forget those Lumberjanes Scout Badges.
A few years ago, Archaia published an anthology of traditional tales based loosely on the Jim Henson television series The Storyteller. In the book, as on the screen, each of the stories was introduced by a genial storyteller (played on TV by John Hurt), who was always portrayed sitting by the fire with his dog.
Now, Nerdist brings news that Archaia is putting a slightly different spin on the concept with The Storyteller: Witches, a four-issue miniseries of folk tales about witches. As in the earlier collection, it will consist of stand-alone folk tales, each told by a different set of creators, but this time they will be published as single-issue comics. The fourth issue, Vaslissa the Beautiful, is based on an unproduced screenplay from the television series, adapted by Jeff Stokeley, the artist for Six-Gun Gorilla and The Reason for Dragons. But the one that caught my eye was the second, which will be published in landscape format (the others are portrait). And yes, the Storyteller will introduce each tale.
Roger Langridge, who earned acclaim for his run on BOOM! Studios’ The Muppets, will return to the world of Jim Henson in October with Jim Henson’s The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow.
Published by Archaia, the graphic novel is an adaptation of a 1960s screenplay for an unproduced Thanksgiving television special by Henson and Jerry Juhl, later head writer of The Muppet Show and Fraggle Rock and co-writer of five of the first six Muppet feature films. According to USA Today, the script had been in the Henson archives for decades, along with Tale of Sand, which was adapted in 2012 as a graphic novel by Ramon Perez.
For those who didn’t get a chance to pick up Archaia’s Free Comic Book Day offering, Mouse Guard creator David Petersen has posted his contribution to the hardcover special, “Black Axe: The Tale of the Axe Trio.”
“This is the 5th year I’ve done a FCBD story and the 4th in a row of this type,” he writes on his blog. After my first offering, I started the tradition of opening each story with a younger version of a Mouse Guard character being told a morality tale which shows the audience a bit of insight into how that character became who they are as an adult mouse. This year’s story is being told to Rand, and it deals with some mythic lore about the history of the Black Axe: The Tale of the Axe Trio.”
Check out some of the story below, and visit Petersen’s blog for the entire tale.
Mark Smylie is important to comics for a couple of reasons: Not only does he make Artesia, an epic series of lushly drawn and intricately detailed military fantasy comics, but he also created the company Archaia in order to publish the series. He contributed a story to the Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard anthology and has provided illustrations for collectible card and role-playing games, including the Artesia RPG he designed himself.
Last week, Smylie added to his accomplishments with the release of The Barrow, a prose novel set in the world of Artesia and published by Pyr.
The folks at BOOM! Studios are celebrating Valentine’s Day on Twitter with a flurry of cards based on their comics, including Lumberjanes, Two Guns and The Midas Flesh, as well as Archaia properties like Royden Lepp’s Rust. So if you forgot to get your Valentines (or got snowed in), check out the hashtag #youmakemyheartgoBOOM on Twitter and download some comics lovin’ Valentine’s cards.
Graphic novels | Five volumes of The Walking Dead made the November BookScan list of the Top 20 graphic novels sold in bookstores. As ICv2 points out, the fact that the first volume is still charting (at No. 13) bodes well for the series, as it means new readers are continuing to come in. The latest volume of Naruto took the No. 2 slot, and there were nine volumes of manga overall, including three volumes of Attack on Titan and the newest volume of Yotsuba&! There were five DC Comic titles on the list, as well as the latest volume of Dark Horse’s Avatar: The Last Airbender. Completely missing from the Top 20? Anything from Marvel. [ICv2]
Publishing | After three years at DC Entertainment, John Rood will step down on Jan. 1 as executive vice president of sales, marketing and business development. The position is being eliminated, with marketing and publicity to fall under the auspices of Amit Desai, senior vice president of franchise management. Sales, custom publishing and business development will again be overseen by Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee. [The Beat]
Gift Guides | Here’s a spin on the traditional gift guide: Ten things not to buy a comics fan. [Crave Online]
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.