SPIDER-MANDATE: The Lowe-down on "Secret Wars," Tie-Ins and Stacey Lee
Gene Luen Yang, creator of American Born Chinese and The Eternal Smile and writer of Level Up, announced on his blog Tuesday that he is undertaking a new project: He will be writing the upcoming Avatar: The Last Airbender graphic novel, The Promise. Yang is working closely with Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, the creators of the original cartoon series, on the book, and the artwork is being handled by the Japanese duo Gurihiru, who illustrated some of the earlier Airbender comics and have done work for Marvel as well.
As Yang points out in his blog, this is not quite his first Avatar comic: When the movie came out last year, he drew a webcomic protesting the casting of Caucasians in roles that were clearly derived from Asian traditions. This book is based on the television series, not the movie, though, and Yang says he hasn’t seen the movie and doesn’t want to see it: “the only A:TLA universe I want inside my head as I’m writing these comics is the animated one. The real one.”
Oh, and don’t get too excited about an Avatar-Monkey King crossover—that’s just a bit of fan art that Gene drew to celebrate the occasion.
Although beans were spilled when this year’s Free Comic Book Day comics were announced, Dark Horse officially announced yesterday that it is collaborating with Nickelodeon to publish a series of comics and graphic novels based on the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. The series will launch with a 240-page graphic novel collecting the Avatar stories that ran in Nickelodeon Magazine as well as 70 pages of new material. The stories are set in the Airbender universe but outside the continuity of the series, and some of the creators also worked on the cartoon.
Dark Horse will follow up, starting in 2012, with a line of digest-sized graphic novels about the Airbender characters that will pick up where the animated series left off. It’s a logical program for Dark Horse, which has several lines based on popular movies and television series, and produced the Avatar: The Last Airbender art book, but it’s also interesting that the Avatar franchise seems to have moved away from Del Rey, which published a prequel to and a novelization of the movie last year.
The new series kicks off on Free Comic BOOK Day with a free comic featuring two stories, the unpublished “Relics” and the already-seen “Dirty Is Only Skin Deep…” The Airbender comic will be packaged as a flipbook with a Star Wars: The Clone Wars comic, giving readers plenty of licensed goodness in a single hit.
Welcome to the first of hopefully many editions of “Food or Comics?”, the spiritual successor to our “Can’t Wait for Wednesday” feature. As we did in CWFW, we plan to share what new and notable comic books we’re excited to see in shops every Wednesday, but with one twist — a price limit.
Every week we’ll tell you what comics we’d buy if we had $15 to spend, if we had $30 and if we had some “mad money” (like a gift card) to blow on what we’re calling a “Splurge” item. Admittedly, this was a tough exercise, much tougher than I thought it would be, and a reminder as to why I buy my books from a place that offers a discount.
To see what Kevin Melrose and I would spend our hard-earned money on, keep reading …
If I had $15, I’d buy …
Abe Sapien: The Abyssal Plain #1 ($3.50)
I admit that I’m picking this up as much for Dave Johnson’s cover as I am for the story, which recounts one of Abe Sapien’s first B.P.R.D. assignments: searching for an ancient relic in a sunken Soviet U-boat. It’s by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi and Peter Snejbjerg, so it’s well worth the $3.50. (Dark Horse)
This has little to do with comics, beyond those issues of Nickelodeon Magazine, but I’m such a fan of the Avatar: The Last Airbender animated series that I couldn’t resist posting the first official teaser for M. Night Shyamalan’s live-action adaptation.
The movie has at least three things going against it: the difficulty inherent in making the leap from animation to live action; the casting, at least initially, of white actors in the four central roles; and Shyamalan’s spotty track record.
But I admit that this 1 minute and 41-second teaser looks, well, if not promising then … not awful. I never thought I’d say that.
Comics creator Derek Kirk Kim comments on the casting choices for the The Last Airbender movie. While the setting of the cartoon the movie is based on is “wholly and inarguably built around Asian (and Inuit) culture,” white actors have been cast in the roles of the four main characters:
Before I go any further, it behooves me to spill some information on “Avatar, the Last Airbender” for those people who have no idea what it is. 1) It’s the greatest, most ambitious animated action adventure TV series ever hatched in the U.S. A cartoon series for kids in which one epic story actually spans 3 entire seasons. A kid’s show in which the characters actually grow and change and evolve! A cartoon which actually respects a kid’s intelligence and vast imagination. Imagine that! 2) It’s wholly and inarguably built around Asian (and Inuit) culture. Everything from to the costume designs, to the written language, to the landscapes, to martial arts, to philosophy, to spirituality, to eating utensils!—it’s all an evocative, but thinly veiled, re-imagining of ancient Asia. (In one episode, a region is shown where everyone is garbed in Korean hanboks—traditional Korean clothing—the design of which wasn’t even altered at all.) It would take a willful disregard of the show’s intentions and origins to think this wouldn’t extend to the race of the characters as well. You certainly don’t see any blonde people running around in “Avatar.” (I’m not saying that would have necessarily been a bad thing, I’m just stating the facts of the show and the world in which it is set.)