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Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga Vol. 1 (DC Comics): It was so long ago at this point that it might as well have been the 1950s, as fast as Internet time moves, but I seem to recall Chip Kidd and company’s 2008 book Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan getting some static for its treatment of Jiro Kuwata’s Batman manga. Kuwata’s contribution was by far the most fascinating aspect of the book — and took up the bulk of the page count — but many thought he didn’t get the credit he deserved (his name didn’t appear on the cover alongside Kidd’s and those of two others), while others felt weird about comics work being presented alongside photos of goofy Batman toys, as if it were just one more example of collectible kitsch.
Kuwata’s contributions certainly proved to be the most influential element of the book, however, inspiring an almost beat-for-beat adaptation in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon and inspiring writer Grant Morrison’s scripts for his critically-acclaimed Batman, Inc series. Now DC is giving Kuwata’s Bat-Manga its due, packaged in a distraction-free all-manga format.
They’ve been serializing the comics, created in 1966 and ’67 during the height of “Batmania,” digitally, and are following up with hard-copy collections, the first of which is this hefty, 360-page brick.
Unlike Kia Asamiya’s 2003 Batman: Child of Dreams, in which that eminent manga artist told a regular American Batman story in his style, Kuwata’s Batman feature is a highly-strange, almost heady parallel take on Batman. The most basic elements of the story are there — millionaire Bruce Wayne and his young ward become Batman and Robin to fight crime in Gotham City, using the Batmobile, batarangs and other gadgets — but everything around the Dynamic Duo seems somewhat alien.
Next week Dark Horse will debut a new Star Wars series set in the period between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, followed in February by the miniseries Star Wars: Dark Times – Fire Carrier and in March by the revival of Star Wars: Legacy. However, the publisher isn’t stopping there.
March also sees the release of Star Wars: The Clone Wars — Defenders of the Lost Temple, a digest-sized original graphic novel set during the fourth season of the popular animated series.
Written by Justin Aclin, illustrated by Ben Bates and colored by Michael Atiyeh (and sporting a cover by Mike Hawthorne), Defenders of the Lost Temple centers on a clone trooper who, while contemplating his own worth, begins to realize what sets him apart from his brethren may be a connection to the Force. If the lightsaber-wielding clone trooper on the cover isn’t enough of a tease, the solicitation text reinforces it with “A clone trooper with the power of the Force?!”
Dark Horse has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive preview, which you can see below. Star Wars: The Clone Wars — Defenders of the Lost Temple goes on sale March 13.
Conventions | The Angoulême International Comics Festival has announced the Official Selections for the 2012 festival, which will be held Jan. 26-29 in Angoulême, France. Eddie Campbell’s Alec, Craig Thompson’s Habibi and Daniel Clowes’ Mister Wonderful are among the almost 60 graphic novels on the list. [Angoulême]
Editorial cartoons | The Columbus Dispatch suspended political cartoonist Jeff Stahler after finding that his Monday cartoon was too similar to a New Yorker cartoon published in 2009. At The Daily Cartoonist, Alan Gardner posts several of Stahler’s cartoons alongside earlier pieces with similar punchlines. While one can debate whether Stahler lifted his ideas from the older cartoons, it’s obvious that he drew them in his own style, unlike David Simpson, who was recently accused of copying Jeff McNally’s cartoons. [Comic Riffs]
Crime | Several pieces of original artwork, among other items, were stolen from the car of AdHouse Publisher Chris Pitzer while he was in New York City last weekend for the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. Pitzer is offering a reward for any information leading to the recovery of the artwork. [AdHouse]
It was an awesome thing to behold. My friend Justin Aclin — editor of ToyFare magazine, head writer of Twisted ToyFare Theater, and author of the graphic novel Hero House — came up with a great idea for a comic, about a super-powered team of militant atheists who track down and kill supposedly supernatural entities for meddling in humanity’s affairs. This was on a Monday. On Tuesday he pitched it to Dark Horse. On Wednesday it was greenlit. From idea to approval in under 48 hours. Amazing, right?
By now you’ve seen the end result: S.H.O.O.T. First, an eight-page story from the final issue of MySpace Dark Horse Presents. But if you’re an aspiring comics writer, perhaps you wanna see exactly how Aclin managed to catch lightning in a bottle in the first place.
Fortunately, he’s got your hook-up: On his blog, Aclin has posted his successful proposal for the comic. It sets up the concept, introduces the characters, and walks you through the plot of the initial short story in seven paragraphs and one catchphrase — pretty much a how-to for clear, concise, compelling comics pitches. Read and learn.
Over at Comics Alliance, ToyFare editor, Twisted ToyFare Theater head writer and Hero House author Justin Aclin is talking up his upcoming story for MySpace Dark Horse Presents, “S.H.O.O.T. First.” It’s a paranormal/superhero book in the vein of B.P.R.D., but with a twist: The titular team’s acronym stands for the Secular Humanist Occult Obliteration Taskforce, and their mission is to wipe out any and all supernatural entities in the name of atheism. Says Aclin:
S.H.O.O.T. are basically militant atheists, tasked with hunting down supernatural creatures, especially those of religious significance, that they don’t even believe in….every time you read a comic about someone fighting the supernatural, they’re really doing it on the supernatural’s own terms. If you’re fighting a vampire, you bring stakes and holy water – that kind of thing. I don’t think there’s ever been a team like “S.H.O.O.T.” that basically thinks it’s all bunk, and just goes after any threat with science and bullets, and scientific bullets.