REVIEW: "Avengers: Age of Ultron" is a Lot of Fun, a Little Flawed, and Whedon All the Way
Comic Books, Film
Comics | Writing for The Advocate, Jase Peeples takes note of the diversity of DC Comics’ extended Batman family — from Batwoman to Batwing to Barbara Gordon’s roommate Alysia Yeoh — and talks with writers Gail Simone, Grant Morrison, Marc Andreyko, Tom Taylor and Chip Kidd. “I would like to think that people can pick up books like Batman Incorporated or The Multiversity and see their own lives reflected,” Morrison says. “But I’d always caveat that with the need for us to see more diverse writers and artists, because that’s when I think the walls will really come down. As a straight [white guy from Scotland] I can only do so much, and I find even sometimes when you do this, you do get accused of tokenism or pandering. I don’t mind it. I can put up with that, but I’d rather see a genuine spread of writers and artists creating this material.” [Advocate.com]
Conventions | Image Comics content manager David Brothers explains why this year’s Comic-Con International was a great convention, pointing out that there’s a lot more to the event than movies and television, and there’s a lot more to comics than the Big Two: “Marvel and DC are comics, just like the other publishers, and they make some great ones when they let the creators do their own thing. But at this point? You can’t treat them like the entirety of the comics industry, or even two companies that can dictate the future of comics. They run the movies, and that’s cool, but running comics? It’s just not true any more. Image in particular outsells Marvel in the book market as far as trade paperbacks go, and that holds true in the comics market lately, too. That’s no coincidence. People enjoy Marvel and DC, but they want more than Marvel and DC.” [io9.com]
Batman is celebrating his 75th birthday this year, which may come as a surprise. I mean, look at that smooth, handsome face, or what little of it is visible beneath his cowl. Look at those ripped muscles, or the way he runs across rooftops and beats up criminals — why, Batman doesn’t look a day over 35!
Now just as it did recently for Superman, DC Comics is releasing a pair of hefty, 400-page hardcover collections that serve as a sort of survey for how the character has been portrayed and functioned in the publisher’s comics line during since his first appearance. Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years and The Joker: A Celebration of 75 Years aren’t exactly the comics equivalents of greatest-hits albums, but they are nice starting points for newcomers and/or casual fans, offering quick, compelling overviews of the title characters through the decades.
The Batman volume, featuring Jim Lee’s rendition of the character from the 2003 storyline “Hush” on the dust jacket, must have been particularly challenging to assemble, given the thousands and thousands of pages of Batman comics, featuring dozens of different takes by scores of creators.
Retailing | Shares of Barnes & Noble rose 5.5 percent Wednesday, to $21.69, following the announcement that the bookseller plans to split into two companies, one for its retail stores and the other for Nook Media. Barron’s suggests those plans could buoy stock prices for a while, as long as the company doesn’t change its mind (again) about the split. The magazine also notes the possibility that an outsider buyer could make a bid for the retail stores before the split takes place, leaving Barnes & Noble with the Nook, which will be combined with the company’s successful college-bookstore operations. [Barron’s]
Manga | Inspired by a line of T-shirts featuring the work of the manga artist Jiraiya, Guy Trebay talks to Anne Ishii and Chip Kidd about the popularity of hard-core gay manga, such as the work of Gengoroh Tagame, in the United States. [The New York Times]
Penn State’s University Libraries have acquired the archives of graphic designer and author Chip Kidd. A Pennsylvania native, he graduated from the school’s graphic design program in 1986.
Renowned for creating the jackets for such books as Michael Chricton’s Jurassic Park and The Lost World, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, David Sedaris’ Naked and Gerard Jones’ Men of Tomorrow, Kidd also designed the covers for Frank Miller and Lynn Varley’s Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Vertical Inc.’s Osamu Tezuka line, and Dave Gibbons’ Watching the Watchmen. Kidd also wrote Batman: Collected, Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz, Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross, Bat-Manga: The Secret History of Batman in Japan and the 2012 graphic novel Batman: Death by Design.
Next fall, Fantagraphics will publish Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It, featuring stories by an array of well known Japanese manga creators, many of whom have never been published in English before.
Massive was originally slated to be published by PictureBox, but the company closed its doors at the end of 2013 and Fantagraphics acquired the book as part of its queer comics line. Translators Anne Ishii and Graham Kolbeins and designer Chip Kidd will remain on the book at its new home; the three also worked on The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame, a collection of gay manga that PictureBox published last year to great acclaim.
The creators whose work is represented in the book are Gengoroh Tagame, Jiraiya, Seizoh Ebisubashi, Kazuhide Ichikawa, Gai Mizuki, Takeshi Matsu, Fumi Miyabi, and Kumada Poohsuke.
We talked to Ishii and Kolbeins about their work and the gay manga genre in Japan and the United States.
I attended a small, perpetually broke Catholic high school that couldn’t afford to employ a guidance counselor. If we could have afforded one, it’s highly unlikely it would’ve been Neil Gaiman, as nice as that might have been.
At the time I was nearing graduation and about to go off to college to earn an expensive degree in pursuit of my lifelong — all 18 years of it — ambition to be a writer, Gaiman was just the writer of The Sandman (and a few other pretty great comics), and was, in fact, nearing the final story arc of that seminal series. At that point in my life, I certainly would’ve liked advice from the writer of one of my favorite comic series.
In the years since, Gaiman’s bona fides have only increased. In addition to writing comics, he’s written novels for adults and kids, he’ s written picture books, he’s written screenplays, he’s seen his works adapted into television and film, and he’s enjoyed the rarefied position of being a writer whose works are not only popular, but acclaimed, as well as being almost universally beloved in the field of comics, an industry with more than its fair share of crooks and cranks, of drawn daggers and venom.
Who better to offer advice to a young person about to embark — or at least attempt to embark — on a life in the arts, particularly a young person who would like to be a successful, professional writer of quality fiction? Someone who might want to grow up to be someone like, say, Neil Gaiman?
There’s a nice, if too-short, video interview with graphic designer, author and comics writer Chip Kidd conducted last month at AGI Open London and which he discusses book-jacket design — he’s behind those for Jurassic Park, The Secret History and Black Hole, among countless others — and, yes, his lifelong obsession with Batman (first documented in 1996’s Batman Collected).
Of course, Kidd isn’t merely a fan of the Dark Knight: He teamed with artist Dave Taylor on the 2012 graphic novel Batman: Death by Design.
“I’ve written a Batman graphic novel. That’s a completely different thing,” Kidd says in the video. “That’s the most fun, because you’re adding to the legacy of the character, and it’s challenging because after 75 years, it’s like, what do you do that hasn’t been done, or that you feel you haven’t seen.”
He might have a common name, but he’s got an uncommon talent. British artist Dave Taylor is working on his childhood hero Judge Dredd for 2000AD, and on his blog he recently revealed a great unpublished cover he had in mind for Batman: Death by Design, the 2012 graphic novel he collaborated on with Chip Kidd called Batman: Death by Design. The piece, which Taylor calls a “feel sample,” designed to convey how the book might look.
The final cover featured a more marketing-friendly headshot of Batman, but this unpublished gem deserves to be seen.
DC Comics will resurrect its well-regarded anthology Batman: Black and White beginning in September with six double-sized issues.
Originally published in 1996 as a four-issue miniseries, the anthology was the brainchild DC’s Vice President of Art Direction & Design Mark Chiarello, then a Batman Group editor, who sought out such top creators as Bruce Timm, Joe Kubert, Bill Sienkiewicz, Neil Gaiman, Ted McKeever and Katsuhiro Otomo to offer their own interpretations of the Dark Knight — in black and white.
The concept was revived in 2000 as a series of backup features in Batman: Gotham Knights, featuring contributions by the likes of Alex Ross, Paul Dini, Warren Ellis, Jim Lee, Chris Claremont, Paul Pope, Steve Rude, Harlan Ellison, Paul Grist, Darwyn Cooke, Jill Thompson and Mike Mignola. That title ended in 2006, but several Batman: Black and White have since been adapted as motion comics by Warner Premiere and DC Entertainment, and inspired numerous statues released by DC Direct.
According to the solicitation text provided to MTV Geek, September’s Batman: Black and White #1 will feature stories by Chip Kidd and Michael Cho, Neal Adams, Joe Quinones and Maris Wicks, John Arcudi and Sean Murphy, and Howard Mackie and Chris Samnee. Priced at $4.99, the 48-page first issue is scheduled to arrive Sept. 4.
A renowned designer and art director, Kidd is widely known for creating the jackets for such books as Michael Chricton’s Jurassic Park and The Lost World, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, David Sedaris’ Naked and Gerard Jones’ Men of Tomorrow. However, he’s also worked extensively in the comics arena, designing the covers for Frank Miller and Lynn Varley’s Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Vertical Inc.’s Osamu Tezuka line, and Dave Gibbons’ Watching the Watchmen (for which he also designed the interiors), as well as the logos and trade dress for All-Star Superman and All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder. Most recently, Kidd created a variant cover for Before Watchmen: Rorschach #3.
Before Watchmen: Minutemen/Silk Spectre and Before Watchmen: Ozymandias/Crimson Corsair arrive in comic stores June 26 and July 2 everywhere else; Before Watchmen: Nite Owl/Dr. Manhattan and Before Watchmen: Comedian/Rorschach go on sale July 10 in comic stores and July 16 everywhere else.
Publishing | Todd Allen analyzes the sales of DC Comics’ New 52 titles from their September 2011 launch to the past month. Sales of any series tend to drop off from one issue to the next — Allen compares it to radioactive decay — and when the numbers drop below 18,000 for a couple of titles, DC tends to cancel them in batches and start up new titles to replace them. That plus crossovers and strong sales of some flagship titles has kept the line fairly stable until recently, but as Allen notes, the replacement titles tend to crash and burn pretty quickly, and overall sales have dipped a bit. [Publishers Weekly]
History | David Brothers has a great column for Black History Month, featuring Krazy Kat, All-Negro Comics and other titles by black creators. [Comics Alliance]
Events | Richard Pachter surveys the graphic novel scene at Miami Book Fair International, which this year will include appearances by Chris Ware, Derf Backderf, Marjorie Liu, Dan Parent and Chip Kidd, among others. [The Miami Herald]
Events | A group of Canadian creators and publishers are in Tokyo right now for the International Comics Festa, where they are selling an anthology that includes work by Darwyn Cooke, Bryan Lee O’Malley, and Seth. Manga blogger Deb Aoki is there too, and she has all the details. [About.com]
Last Wednesday saw the release of Batman: Death by Design, a new graphic novel by Chip Kidd, writer and publication designer for the project, and artist Dave Taylor. Kidd has a rich background in designing book jackets and graphic novel projects, including Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross, Schulz and Peanuts, Jurassic Park, the Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again collection and many more. He also is a novelist and a musician, and even helped write an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Taylor, meanwhile, has been drawing comics for a few decades now, having worked on Force Works, World’s Finest, The Shadow of the Bat, Tongue*Lash and Judge Dredd, among many others
Here’s a description of the plot, as written by CBR’s Jeffrey Renaud in an introduction to an interview with Kidd:
Set in the 1930s, Death by Design explores Gotham as it undergoes one of the most expansive construction booms in the city’s history. Inspired by two real world events — the demolition of the original Pennsylvania Station in 1963 and the fatal construction crane collapses in midtown Manhattan of 2008 — Kidd asks what if, despite the years separating the incidents, they were somehow connected? And what if they happened in Gotham City, during a glorious golden age when a caped crusader protected its streets?
So what did folks think about it? Here are a few opinions from around the ‘net:
Stefan Fergus, Civilian Reader: “Before picking this up, I had only seen one preview page, and I was really intrigued by the style and story – it looked gloomy and atmospheric, which are two things I’ve always associated with Batman. As it turns out, my initial impressions were right on the money, and I’m really glad I bought this – this is a great detective/investigative story, rendered in some truly wonderful artwork. Very impressive.”
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 out with Wolverine and the X-Men #11 (Marvel, $3.99). I was worried this series’ intersection with Avengers Vs. X-Men might put this book in a tailspin, but from the preview it looks copacetic. Aaron has real amazing grips on these characters despite being less than a dozen issues in, and Nick Bradshaw has quickly come from being a surprising follow-up to Chris Bachalo to arguably being more in line with the book than Bachalo himself. Next up for me would be Walking Dead #98 (Image, $2.99), the low march toward #100. After that I’d get FF #18 (Marvel, $2.99) for something arguably better than its parent book Fantastic Four. I hope this title lives on past Hickman’s run on the book, because it’s succeeded in being more than the stereotypical kids team book. After that, I’d snap up Supercrooks #3 (Marvel/Icon, $3.99). Leinil Yu is on a real high here, doing art that goes up against his great High Roads and Silent Dragon era work. Mark Millar’s story is really optimum Millar-style work, but Yu’s storytelling and rendering here are the best in some time.
If I had $30, I’d buy one additional thing: Empowered, Vol. 7 (Dark Horse, $16.99). Adam Warren has really blossomed since his days doing Dirty Pair, and Empowered is a great second act showing the seedy side of superheroes. Adding to that, Adam Warren keeps up a great online presence over on DeviantArt and releases all sorts of magnificent process sketches to go along with the book.
If I could splurge, I’d spend my grocery money this week on Batman: Death By Design (DC, $24.99). Like some sort of Mister X meets Dark Knight crossover, this book is an interesting work especially in contrast with the day-to-day of DC with New 52. I still think of Chip Kidd more as a designer than a writer despite reading his first novel, but I hope this breaks that in my mind and allows me to see him for both his creative avenues.