EXCL. PREVIEW: "Avatar: Smoke & Shadow" TPB Threatens the Fire Nation
Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out.
This week is all about the new releases, including Batman, Hawkeye, Beasts of Burden and more. So let’s get to it …
The dogs and cat of Burden Hill return to duty next year in a new miniseries by creators Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson. Unofficially announced during a panel at last week’s New York Comic Con, Dorkin gave a few details on it on his blog.
“Although we didn’t make a formal announcement, during the Dark Horse Comics horror panel we mentioned that Jill Thompson and I are working on a second Beasts of Burden mini-series,” Dorkin said on his blog. “It’ll be four issues, two of which I’ve written (one of which I co-wrote with Sarah). When we’re finally done with it all the second series will cap a second hardcover collection, along with the Hellboy crossover and the Neighborhood Watch stories from Dark Horse Presents. As far as a schedule for the new series, I guess ‘sometime in 2013′ is about all I can cough up. Anyway, at least it’s underway, finally, and I’m glad we can start talking about it. Although I guess that’s all there is to say right now.”
The Eisner-winning comic from Dark Horse stars a group of dogs and cats that investigates supernatural events in their town. Beasts of Burden began as a recurring feature in the Dark Horse Book of… anthologies before graduating into its own miniseries. All of those stories can be found in Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites collection. More recently they appeared in Dark Horse Presents, with those stories being collected into the one-shot Neighborhood Watch.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d start things off with Hawkeye #1 (Marvel, $2.99). David Aja’s built up a great track record from his run on Iron Fist to his various one-off issues in and around the Marvel Universe, so seeing him re-team withIron Fist co-writer Matt Fraction is something special. Without creators like these I’d probably balk at a Hawkeye series, but they make this a must-buy. After that I’d get another first issue, Image’s Harvest #1 (Image, $3.50). AJ Lieberman’s quietly written a number of great stories, and this one seems pretty inventive. I might’ve waited for the trade on this, but newcomer Colin Lorimer’s art on it makes me think he’s going to be a big deal and I need to know about it. For the bronze in my $15 pile, it’s Avengers Vs. X-Men #9 (Marvel, $3.99). This week, Jason Aaron and Andy Kubert take point, re-teaming from their great but under-appreciated Astonishing Wolverine and Spider-Man series from a while back. Lastly, I’d get Daredevil #16 (Marvel, $2.99) because Waid is bringing his A-game, and the recent addition of Chris Samnee only makes it even more impressive. The previews for this issue shows guest appearances by Ant-Man, Doctor Strange and Iron Man, so it’ll be interesting to see how Waid factors them into Matt’s world.
If I had $30, I’d get Thief of Thieves #7 (Image, $2.99), which is becoming one of my favorite Image books and Nick Spencer’s finest at the moment. Having Shawn Martinbrough draw it only helps. After that, I’d get Earth 2 #4 (DC, $2.99). James Robinson is really living up to the “New 52” moniker by giving us one of the most imaginative and different takes on the DCU, and Nicola Scott is drawing up a storm here. After that, I’d tie things up with RASL #15 ($4.99). Jeff, you get my money sight unseen.
If I could splurge, I’d take a chance and order Absalom: Ghosts of London (2000 AD, $17.99) because it looks pretty great. British cops governing over an ages-old pact between the English government and hell? Hell yeah.
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics.
Wait a minute … “monthly”?
It’s true that we haven’t taken a What Looks Good tour in a few months, but the feature is back with an all-new approach that we hope will be more varied and useful than the old format. Instead of Michael and Graeme just commenting on everything that catches our attention in the catalog, we’ve invited Chrises Mautner and Arrant to join us in each picking the five new comics we’re most looking forward to. What we’ll end up with is a Top 20 (or so; there may be some overlap) of the best new comics coming out each month.
As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
1) Love and Rockets New Stories #5 by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics) — How do you possibly top the triumphant storytelling feat that was “The Love Bunglers”? I dunno, but Jaime Hernandez is certainly going to give it the old college try, this time shifting the focus onto the vivacious “Frogmouth” character. Gilbert, meanwhile, brings back some of his classic Palomar characters, so yeah, this is pretty much a “must own” for me.
2) Skippy Vol. 1: Complete Dailies 1925-1927 by Percy Crosby (IDW) — Percy Crosby’s Skippy might well be the great forgotten comic strip of the 20th century. Extremely popular in its day, and a huge influence on such luminaries as Charles Schulz, the strip has largely been forgotten and the name conjures up little more than images of peanut butter. IDW’s effort to reacquaint folks with this strip might change that — the few snippets I’ve read suggest this is real lost gem.
3) The Voyeurs by Gabrielle Bell (Uncivilized Books) — Tom Kaczynski’s small-press publishing company drops its first major, “big book” release with this memoir from the always-excellent Gabrielle Bell. Collecting work from her series Lucky (and, I think, some of her recent minis), the book chronicles a turbulent five year period as she travels around the world. Should be great.
4) Godzilla: The Half Century War by James Stokoe (IDW) — I usually stay as far away from licensed books as possible, but there is one simple reason I’m including this comic in my top five: James Stokoe. Stokoe’s Orc Stain has quickly become one of my favorite serialized comics, and his obsession with detailing every inch of the page combined with his ability to incorporate significant manga storytelling tropes in his work convince me he can do a solid job chronicling the adventures of the big green lizard that spits radioactive fire.
5) Barbara by Osamu Tezuka (Digital Manga) — Speaking of manga, here’s one of the more noteworthy Kickstarter projects of recent years: Digital Manga’s attempt to bring the master’s saga of a famous author and the homeless, beautiful woman he takes in and assumes to be his literal muse. This is well regarded in many Tezuka fan circles as one of the cartoonist’s better adult stories, and I’m glad to see Digital willing to take a chance on bringing more Tezuka to the West. I’ll definitely be buying this. I should also note that Vertical will also be offering some Tezuka this month, namely a new edition of Adolph (originally published by Viz in the ’90s), here titled Message to Adolph but well worth checking out regardless of the title.
If for some reason you’ve not already read Beasts of Burden, the Eisner-winning Dark Horse series by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson about a group of dogs and cats that investigates supernatural events, maybe this will pique your interest: Paris publisher Delcourt has released a nice trailer for the French edition of Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites, in which the Wise Dog Society must contend with demonic cannibal frogs, tortured spirits, a secret rat society and a resurrection in the Burden Hill cemetery.
“I’m usually not a big fan of the animated comic book trailer thing, but I have to admit I was kind of knocked out to see this, and not just because it’s something I worked on,” Dorkin writes. “It looks pretty swell, someone really spent time on this and Jill’s art looks great, of course. It’s like an animatic for an animated film, with music and titles, it’s very professional and it honestly freaked me out when I first saw it because I figured it was going to be a french person thumbing through a printed copy of the book. Which it isn’t.”
Yesterday’s announcement of a potential Beasts of Burden movie put a gleam into the eye of more than a few comic fans, but if that wasn’t enough, we have more good news: Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson are already working on more Beasts of Burden comics.
Prompted by the movie announcement, Dorkin took to his blog to give new details about new Beasts of Burden stories in his work. After last year’s crossover with Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, Dorkin & Thompson are reuniting for three standalone stories in upcoming issues of Dark Horse Presents, and they’re currently working out a schedule to do another limited series. Huzzah!
Dorkin & Thompson are no stranger to Hollywood-types taking notice of their work; Dorkin’s worked extensively for Cartoon Network, and Thompson’s Scary Godmother series was made into a string of animated films several years back.
Dark Horse has posted several updates on their blog about upcoming content for the relaunched Dark Horse Presents anthology. As you can see on the cover above, the third issue will include a 13-page preview of Red Tide, “Jim Steranko’s crime-noir masterpiece.”
Issues #4, #6 and #8, meanwhile, will include Beasts of Burden stories by writer Evan Dorkin and artist Jill Thompson. “These new stories take place shortly after the events of the Hellboy crossover from last year, are self-contained, and can be easily followed by folks who haven’t read the previous comics,” Dorkin said. “I hope our regular readers will enjoy these stories—Jill’s painted artwork is as amazing as always, and there are character and background details dropped throughout the episodes that add to the overall story line we’ve been building.”
And finally, issue #4 will also include a new Criminal Macabre story by writer Steve Niles, artist Chris Mitten and colorist Michelle Madsen. “I can’t give away too much, but there are some major shocks coming for Cal fans,” Niles said. “Everything about Cal and his life is about to be whipped into a Hellish frenzy that would have the Devil himself on his heels. Plus it’s gonna be funny and I can’t say enough about Chris and Michelle’s work together. It’s perfect.”
Burden Hill’s resident protectors will be back in 2011, according to this teaser sent out yesterday from Dark Horse Comics. Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson’s original miniseries received a lot of well-deserved praise, so it’ll be good to see the pack back together again.
Editor’s note: As a part of Robot 666 Week, we welcome guest contributor Van Jensen, writer of Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer and its upcoming sequel.
by Van Jensen
I was on a panel with Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson to discuss horror comics earlier this year, and I admitted that I didn’t really like horror as a genre. I can’t even see a trailer for Saw MCXVII (or whatever number they’re up to) without feeling repulsed. But Steve and Bernie talked me down from the ledge. The problem isn’t so much with the horror genre, it’s with the trend of comics and movies that use gore as a substitute for real fright. So here’s my list of favorite horror comics and films, and they’re all projects that rely heavily on atmosphere and thrills (the real hallmarks of horror) rather than buckets of blood.
1. House, by Josh Simmons.
Simmons’ debut graphic novel is a relatively simple story, with three teenagers exploring a giant old house in the woods. Things go wrong, which is predictable, but in an unpredictable way. Simmons uses no words through the entire story, but his real accomplishment is utilizing the design of the pages to deliver an increasingly claustrophobic, disorienting and terrifying story.
If it’s Tuesday, it must be time for Food or Comics?, where every week some of the Robot 6 crew talk about what comics we’d buy if we were subject to certain spending limits — $15 and $30. We also talk about what we’d buy if we had extra money to spend on what we call our “Splurge” item. Check out Diamond’s release list to see what arrives in comic shops this week,then play along in our comments section.
If I had $15:
I’d start with the Beasts of Burden/Hellboy one-shot ($3.50). I’m not sure how this mash-up of my favorite monster hunters is going to work – the tones are so completely different – but I’m dying to find out. After that, I’d add Billy the Kid’s Old Time Oddities and the Ghastly Fiend of London #2 ($3.99). In real life, I’m waiting for the collection, but I loved the first Old Time Oddities mini-series so much that I’m certain to enjoy this one too. I’d follow that up with a couple of series I’m curious about featuring favorite heroes of mine: Wonder Woman #604 ($2.99) and Zatanna #6 ($2.99). Total: $13.47.
The Monday before Halloween, as well as the Monday before the release of the Beasts of Burden/Hellboy one-shot (Set for release this Wednesday from Dark Horse), was the ideal time for an interview with writer/artist Jill Thompson. October has been busy for Dark Horse and Thompson, given that earlier in the month the publisher released the new hardcover Scary Godmother collection of the four “Eisner Award-winning, fully painted children’s books … (Scary Godmother, Revenge of Jimmy, The Mystery Date, and The Boo Flu)”. The prospect of new Scary Godmother was a great topic to cover with Thompson, as well as learning her thoughts on how she creates certain tales and how organic the creative process is for her. Thanks to Dark Horse’s Jim Gibbons for arranging this interview, and I offer a great deal of gratitude to Thompson for this discussion.
Tim O’Shea: How satisfying is it to have all of the fully-painted Scary Godmother stories repackaged into one book? You considered teaming with different publishers to collect the stories, but what factors motivated you to go with Dark Horse?
Jill Thompson: Well, the original books, published by Sirius Entertainment had been out of print for a long while and I was very anxious to find a way to get them back out to the reading public. Since there are two animated specials in seasonal rotation on the Cartoon Network I knew there were a great many new fans I could introduce or reintroduce to the original material. I’m so happy that the book is back in print and available at comic shops and bookstores and online.
Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites
Written by Evan Dorkin; Illustrated by Jill Thompson
Dark Horse; $19.99
I know we’ve been talking a lot about comics for kids lately, so I’m going to give that a rest for a bit (except to point you to Nate Cosboom and Skottie Young’s latest thoughts on the subject). Fun and awesome comics don’t always have to be kid-appropriate. Beasts of Burden is an excellent example of that. Monster-hunting dogs and cats sounds particularly good for children, but not when the monsters are this scary. Your kids may be different from mine and more power to them if they are, but my eight-year-old would have nightmares if this was his bedtime reading. Doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy the hell out of it though.
As you may know, Beasts of Burden began as a recurring feature in the Dark Horse Book of… anthologies. There were four volumes – Book of Hauntings, Book of Witchcraft, Book of the Dead, and Book of Monsters – and one of the highlights of each was always Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson’s story about five dogs and a stray cat who get pulled deeper and deeper into the supernatural.
The Animal Rites collection includes those four stories as well as the four-issue Beasts of Burden mini-series. In the spirit of anthology tales, each of the eight stories stands by itself. There are no cliffhangers; no To Be Continueds. But there’s a larger story taking shape as the pets learn more and more about the paranormal and begin to figure out that the recent weirdness in their quiet, little, wooded community is being orchestrated by a single intelligence. What that intelligence is remains to be discovered by the end of Animal Rites, which is fine by me. There’s a slow build moving towards that revelation and I don’t want Dorkin and Thompson to rush it. Besides, I want more of these stories and it’s comforting to know that there are plans for that.
Continue Reading »
Welcome once again to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is Justin Aclin, editor of ToyFare magazine and writer of Hero House and S.H.O.O.T. First, which you can read on MySpace Dark Horse Presents. To see what Justin and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below …
When an interview goes well, it has very little to do with me. The value of the interview, not surprisingly, is rooted in the answers. Evan Dorkin is proof of this. At one point in this email interview, the man justifiably ridicules my use of the term “sequential art narrative” in a question–and being Evan Dorkin, it’s damn funny when he does it. The interview covers a great deal of ground, given the diversity and richness of his career to date. First up, though, is Dark Horse’s Beasts of Burden, his upcoming collaboration with Jill Thompson, which is featured on the cover of this month’s PREVIEWS. (Beasts of Burden #1’s item code is JUL09 0015 [and goes on sale September 16]). Aweek or so ago my associate Mr. Melrose linked to the original Beasts of Burden short story, Stray, that Dark Horse posted to its site (and that Dorkin also mentions at the start of this interview). My thanks to Dorkin for what I hope you agree is a great interview.
Tim O’Shea: You are working on Beasts of Burden, for Dark Horse, what can you tell folks about the project?
Evan Dorkin: Beasts of Burden is a four-issue series debuting this September from Dark Horse, I’m writing it and Jill Thompson is illustrating it, and it’s about a group of neighborhood dogs and a stray cat that band together to fight the supernatural. It takes place in a town called Burden Hill, which has become increasingly plagued by monsters and the paranormal. The human inhabitants are largely oblivious to what’s happening, so it’s up to these “ordinary” animals to defend the area from these occult incursions. It’s a horror comic with adventure and fantasy elements, and hopefully a sense of humor. Each issue is a self-contained story, with some narrative undercurrents running through them.