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Writer Mark Andrew Smith has penchant for getting young heroes into trouble. He did it in 2005 with The Amazing Joy Buzzards, and again in 2009 with The New Brighton Archeological Society. In 2011, he expanded on that by casting a group of kids as villains-in-training for his Image series Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors. But after that title went on hiatus at the end of last year, readers didn’t know where, how or if that story would continue.
But after talking to Smith earlier this week, we can confirm there’s more … lots more.
Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors does for super villains what Harry Potter did for magicians—throws them together into an elite boarding school and lets the dynamics of the schoolyard take over, with a bit of intervention from the adults. The first six-issue arc, published by Image, was very well received, and writer Mark Andrew Smith announced yesterday that the next six-issue series, Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors: The Battle of the Superhero Archives, has been written and the first three issues are drawn. Artist Matthew Weldon, who illustrated Smith’s The New Brighton Archeological Society, is taking over the art chores from Armand Villavert for this arc.
Smith isn’t letting any grass grow under his feet: “I’m starting writing on series three and hope that the third series can be drawn while the second one is being created,” he writes. It’s worth noting that Gladstone actually was published on a monthly schedule; the fact that Smith works with a generous buffer may have a lot to do with that.
Mark Andrew Smith has posted the first issue of Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors on his Tumblr for free. Featuring art by Armand Villavert, Gladstone’s School is an all-ages comic that has in-jokes to entertain adult comics fans and plenty of superhero action to engage the kids, so it really does work for all ages. The first volume of the collected edition came out on Wednesday.
Tumblr is an awkward platform for previews—the last page of the comic appears at the top of the site, and you have to scroll down to get to the beginning—but in this case it’s worth it because Smith has annotated the pages, so it’s bit like getting the director’s commentary.
Hello and welcome once again to What Are You Reading?, where every week we talk about the comics, books and other stuff we’ve been reading lately.
Our special guest this week is musician and comic creator Nate Powell, who you might know from his most recent graphic novel, Any Empire, or the Ignatz and Eisner Award-winning Swallow Me Whole. When he’s not creating comics, he’s hanging out at the United Nations with the likes of R.L. Stine, Ann M. Martin and other teen-fiction writers in support of What You Wish For, a collection of young adult stories and poems. Proceeds from the book will be used to fund libraries in Darfuri refugee camps in Chad.
To see what Nate and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Tim Beedle, formerly a Tokyopop editor and now a freelancer, has two interesting posts on his blog about choosing the artist for the Muppet Robin Hood comic (which he wrote and fellow Tokyopop alum Paul Morrissey edited). The first set of drawings is an audition comic by Armand Villavert, Jr., who was the one who got the gig; the sample pages that Tim shows aren’t in the finished comic, though, they are a sequence Villavert wrote himself, and they include some pages colored in a very different style than the finished comics.
The other sequence is by Amy Mebberson, who went on to draw several of the other Muppet Show comics (and is now one of the artists on Strawberry Shortcake). In this case, Tim shows both Villavert’s and Mebberson’s versions, and it’s fascinating to see how differently the two artists handled the exact same script. Choices have consequences!
It’s rare that a new ongoing comic book series launches and successfully sells out the first issue, but that’s exactly what Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors (Image) accomplished last month. This Wednesday, June 15, Gladstone’s will release the second issue. In anticipation of the next issue, I caught up with the series writer/co-creator Mark Andrew Smith to discuss the educational institution “for the children of the world’s greatest super villains to learn the trade“. Once you’ve read the interview, be sure to visit fellow Robot 6’s (and very busy multi-site pundit) Brigid Alverson’s preview of issue 2 at School Library Journal’s Good Comics for Kids. My thanks to Smith for the interview.
Tim O’Shea: Everyone hopes to sell out the first issue of a project, but you all actually did. How great did that feel?
Mark Andrew Smith: I felt fortunate, and happy for both [artist] Armand [Villavert] and myself. . There are so many factors that have to come together for a book to sell out. Yes, we put an enormous amount of work into it. But without the support of Image, the retailers, media, and most importantly, everyone who bought the book, it never would have happened.