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Reading the Internet so you don’t have to, Part 3

Plenty of comic art blogs getting interesting updates recently. The Art of Simon Bisley fansite has a gallery of covers and concept work from Lost Angeles, recently announced by IDW Publishing as migrating there from Heavy Metal. This series will feature Kevin Eastman’s long-overdue return to drawing longform comics.

• Eric Canete has been posting loads of recently commissioned sketches on his blog since Friday, and a lot of them have been a tad NSFW, so let’s insert a break here.

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What Are You Reading? with Aubrey Sitterson and Charles Soule

The Massive #1

Happy Father’s Day and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where each week we talk about what comics and other stuff have been on our reading piles. Today’s guests are two of the contributors to Skullkickers #18, which features several “Tavern Tales” short stories by different creative teams. Joining us today are Charles Soule of 27, Strange Attractors and Strongman fame, and Aubrey Sitterson, winner of the Skullkickers Tavern Tales Contest. He’s also the writer of Gear Monkey for Double Feature Comics and community manager for WWE Games.

To see what Charles, Aubrey and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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Chain Reactions | Batman, Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes!

Batman, Inc.: Leviathan Strikes!

This past Wednesday saw the return of something I didn’t expect to see quite so soon or even ever again–the pre-reboot DC Universe. DC Comics released Batman, Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes! #1 by writer Grant Morrison, artists Cameron Stewart and Chris Burnham, and colorist Nathan Fairbairn, which collects what would have been issues #9 and #10 of the well-regarded series.

“See the last hurrah of Stephanie Brown as Batgirl, in a sinister school for suicide spy girls! Find out what caused the Batman and Robin team to split! And witness the unmasking of Leviathan in a shocking final page twist that sets up 2012’s Batman: Leviathan, the epic concluding act of a Batman story six years in the making!” Morrison said on DC’s The Source blog. While you can never say never when it comes to comics, this could be the final glimpse into the DCU of old.

So what are folks saying about the big finale? Here’s a sampling of opinions on the comic:

Chad Nevett, Comic Book Resources: “Ostensibly Batman, Incorporated issues #9 and #10, Batman, Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes! #1 ends the first ‘season’ of the title and sets the stage for next year’s return and conclusion to Grant Morrison’s tenure on the Batbooks. The wait for this comic may have been long, but with Cameron Stewart and Chris Burnham providing the art, it was well worth it. Morrison delivers both an entertaining ‘done in one’ style adventure spotlighting Stephanie Brown and an ambitious issue that pushes the story about as far as it can go before it breaks. It ends with the big reveal of who is behind Leviathan, the criminal organization that Batman has created Batman, Incorporated to fight. It’s the sort of issue that arrives just in time to remind critics that, maybe, they left Batman, Incorporated off their top ten of 2011 lists and that, obviously, was a mistake.”

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Comics A.M. | Man discovers $12,000 Spider-Man comic in attic

Amazing Fantasy #15

Comics | While going through a box in his attic, a Grange Park, Illinois, man discovered a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, the first appearance of Spider-Man, that he had bought as a kid. While other copies of the comic have fetched as much as $1.2 million, Chimera’s Comics is selling it for $12,000 due to its condition. [LaGrange Patch]

Comics | Brian Truitt profiles Marvel’s Fantastic Four, talking to Mark Waid, Tom Brevoort and Tom DeFalco about the long-running comic. [USA Today]

Publishing | Janna Morishima, formerly of Scholastic and Diamond Comic Distributors, has joined Papercutz as its first marketing director. [Papercutz]

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B.P.R.D. goes to hell in 2012 with five new miniseries

'It's all going to hell in 2012'

Following the teaser they sent out last week, Dark Horse Comics has announced five new B.P.R.D. titles that’ll be released next year and will “shake the organization to its very core.”

Here’s the line-up:

  • First up, in February comes B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Long Death, written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, with art by James Harren (Abe Sapien: The Devil Does Not Jest, Heralds). A team is sent to the deadly woods from New World to investigate a new series of disappearances, but they discover more than just the monster responsible, as loyalties are questioned and tensions mount!
  • March will see the release of B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Pickens County Horror, written by Mike Mignola and Scott Allie, with art by Jason Latour (Wolverine, Scalped) and an all-new cover by Becky Cloonan. This chilling two-issue series brings a B.P.R.D. crew into the grips of a backwoods vampire clan hiding out in a Gothic southern home.
  • Next, in May comes B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth­: The Transformation of J. H. O’Donnell, pairing Mike Mignola with Scott Allie again for the discovery of what drove the Bureau’s expert on ancient foes to near madness after a mission with Hellboy 24 years earlier. This supernatural thrill ride features art by B.P.R.D. newcomer Max Fiumara (Amazing Spider-Man) and a cover by Becky Cloonan.
  • That same month features the return of the regular B.P.R.D. team of Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, and Tyler Crook, with B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Devil’s Engine. The Zinco Corporation again rears its ugly head after a devastating earthquake, pitting Devon and Fenix in an uneasy alliance against bat-faced monsters and the evil empire’s other mad-science experiments! Additionally, this new series will feature covers by former Hellboy artist Duncan Fegredo.
  • Finally, Cameron Stewart returns to the B.P.R.D. universe in June with B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth­: Exorcism. In this story we learn more about Ashley Strode’s evolution as an agent after she meets up with a familiar face for a series of exorcisms in a rural Indiana town. Mike Mignola and Cameron Stewart team up to share writing duties, with pencils by Cameron and covers by Viktor Kalvachev.

“Let’s break some stuff that can’t be fixed. Let’s turn some corners where there’s no going back,” said Mike Mignola in a press release. “In both Hellboy and B.P.R.D., we’re saying, ‘Well, once we do this—once we round this corner—that’s it!’ It’s not like, ‘Oh, Batman, different costume.’ We’re doing stuff where there’s no way to fix it. That is the new reality in our world. You’re REALLY going to see that in 2012.”

Cameron Stewart recommits to Sin Titulo

Cameron Stewart has been on a roll as of late, becoming one of the key artists in Grant Morrison’s Batman stories as well as a go-to guy for licensed titles like IDW’s Suicide Girls and the upcoming Assassin’s Creed graphic novel. Between all that, however, Stewart has found some free time to recommit to his Eisner-winning webcomic Sin Titulo.

With one reviewer describing Sin Titulo as “out-Lynching David Lynch,” the enterprising series is a study in pacing and mood that is good in daily installments or saved up for marathon reading sessions every couple months (that’s me, at least). Stewart has already posted two new pages this week, with a plan to do three or four each week until the end of the series. Stewart has plans to release Sin Titulo as a print book in 2012, so even if you’re not the type to read comics online then you’ve got reasons to look out for Cameron Stewart.

Cameron Stewart’s pin-up for upcoming Mnemovore collection

Mnemovore

Artist Cameron Stewart shares a pin-up he created for a deluxe edition of Mnemovore, the Vertigo comic by Ray Fawkes, Hans Rodionoff and Mike Huddleston. Head over to Stewart’s blog to see the image in its various stages of creation. Stewart says the hardcover will be released by IDW Publishing in August.

The six-issue miniseries Mnemovore was originally published by Vertigo in 2005. The story revolves around a snowboarder who loses part of her memory after an accident and ends up battling a monster called the Mnemovore that eats memories. Rodionoff screened a sample reel for a proposed feature film adaptation of it at the 2007 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival.

Comics A.M. | Spiegelman talks Grand Prix, Stephenson talks industry

Art Spiegelman

Creators | Michael Cavna talks with cartoonist Art Spiegelman about being only the third American to receive the Grand Prix from the Angoulême International Comics Festival. As recipient of the honor, the 62-year-old artist will help plan next year’s festival. “I don’t know whether you should say ‘congratulations’ or ‘condolences,’ ” he says. [The Washington Post]

Legal | A Michigan judge on Monday ordered the DNA of former retailer Michael George to be compared with a hair found on the body of his wife when she was shot to death in 1990 in their comic book store. George, 50, was found guilty in March 2008 of first-degree murder, but that conviction was set aside because of prosecutorial misconduct and the possibility of new evidence. [The Detroit News]

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Comics A.M. | Another One Piece sales record, another cartoonist layoff

One Piece, Vol. 6

Publishing | The 60th volume of Eiichiro Oda’s popular pirate manga One Piece sold more than 2 million copies in its first four days of release. It’s the first book to move more than 2 million copies in its first week of sales since the Japanese market survey company Oricon began reporting its charts in 2008. As we reported last week, this volume’s 3.4 million-copy first printing set a record, and propelled the series past the 200 million-copy mark. [Anime News Network]

Editorial cartoons | Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Matt Davies has been laid off by the Gannett-owned Journal News in White Plains, N.Y. [Comic Riffs]

Publishing | Abrams has made three comics-related promotions: Susan Van Metre to senior vice president and publisher, overseeing all comic arts books as well as Abrams Books for Young Readers and Amulet Books; Charles Kochman to editorial director of Abrams ComicArts; and Chad W. Beckerman to creative director, overseeing design for all comic arts books as well as Abrams Books for Young Readers and Amulet Books. [Abrams]

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Themed convention sketchbooks

The Royal Tenenbaums, by Matt Wagner

One of the more unique aspects of comics conventions in the United States is the general amount of creativity bursting at the seems. One of the biggest signs of this is the generosity that most artists have for doing rough sketches to attendees.

Generally artists will do these for free, or for a small fee, but if you can get your hands on one it’s well worth the effort. I’ve been collecting sketches for several years at cons, and I thought myself the norm until I first glimpsed the themed sketchbook of Oni Press Editor-in-Chief James Lucas Jones.

In 2002, Jones began having artists and friends in the industry contribute to an ongoing sketchbook centered on the characters from the 2001 Wes Anderson film The Royal Tenenbaums. It’s been years since I’ve seen it, and it’s probably filled to the brim and Jones moved on to other themes. But it always sticks in my mind as one of the first themed con sketchbooks and one of the best. Here’s a sample:

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From the bin: Webcomickers’ take on DC’s finest

Last night, cartoonists Cameron Stewart and Ramon Perez posted interesting information and images about some failed pitches for DC Comics. According to both Stewart and Perez, DC had approach them and “a handful of other webcomics creators” to dream up some concepts for webcomics featuring DC superhero characters for possible inclusion on DC’s Zuda website. Here’s what they came up with:

Zatanna pitch by Cameron Stewart

Cameron said that “After a lot of thought I settled on Zatanna, in a kind of Buffy/Twilight-style story aimed at teen girls.”

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Quote of the day | Cameron Stewart is cartoony as f@!#

New Batman & Robin art from Cameron Stewart

New Batman & Robin art from Cameron Stewart

“If anyone thought my last Batman & Robin run was ‘too cartoony’ (they did) they are going to puke blood when they see this.”

–Once and future Batman & Robin artist Cameron Stewart issues fair warning about the part-Frank Quitely, part-Bruce Timm, part-Mort Drucker style he’ll be using for his upcoming return to the title with issue #16. (That’s a sample “that isn’t too cartoony (or spoilery)” featuring Doctor Hurt above.) Have those mops at the ready, haters!

Quote of the day | Cameron Stewart on Marvel vs. DC

Catwoman by Cameron Stewart

Catwoman by Cameron Stewart

“Sometimes (all times) I wish Marvel and DC weren’t so goddamned catty with each other.”

Cameron Stewart, artist of Batman & Robin, Seaguy and many other great comic books, on the ongoing war of words between the comic industry’s two giants.

Cameron Stewart talks about leaving Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne

Cowboy Batman sketch by Cameron Stewart

Cowboy Batman sketch by Cameron Stewart

Yesterday, DC announced that frequent Grant Morrison collaborator Cameron Stewart has been replaced by Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight artist Georges Jeanty on the Western-themed fourth issue of Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne. Post-solicitation creative-team changes are a dime a dozen at DC, but this is certainly one of the more high-profile examples of that kind of switcheroo I can think of. Amid all the say-it-ain’t-sos, Stewart took to his blog to offer a fairly circumspect summary of the situation:

Unfortunately, several weeks back I was forced to make the difficult decision to leave the book. It was a decision that I struggled with, but sadly conditions were such that I felt that my work would be drastically compromised and subpar should I stay on board, and so I felt that it was best that I walked away. I’d like to extend big thanks to my editors for trying to do whatever they could to make it possible for me to stay, but in the end it just wasn’t happening.

Stewart added that the only thing he’d drawn for the issue was the cover and a sketch or two, so the final product will be all Jeanty. He also promised a big announcement at the San Diego Comic-Con regarding a popular property he and Karl Kerschl will be working on. So while fans of his Bat-work (like me!!!) are no doubt disappointed, there are at least a few more Cam jams coming down the pike.

Straight for the tat | Cameron Stewart’s convention-sketch Batman tattoo

Batman tattoo based on the art of Cameron Stewart

Batman tattoo based on the art of Cameron Stewart

“Did the most terrifying commission of my life today at C2E2,” tweeted Batman & Robin artist Cameron Stewart on Saturday. What made it so scary? The guy who commissioned the piece — a drawing of Batman, to be specific — told Stewart he planned on immediately getting it tattooed on his body. No pressure!

Fortunately, the words “Cameron Stewart” are pretty much a seal of quality when it comes to drawings of Batman, and as Stewart revealed today, the tattoo came out bitchin’. You can click here to see the original art, too. “A busy convention is not my ideal environment to draw something that will go on someone’s body forever,” Stewart noted, but he really shouldn’t worry so much.


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