INTERVIEW: Gail Simone Guides 'Blockbuster Update' of Red Sonja, Vampirella and Dejah Thoris
Every week, hard as it may be to believe, I try honestly to offer something I think might interest the larger group of DC Domics superhero readers. However, this week I am invoking a personal privilege. For one thing, with Halloween on a Wednesday (when I usually end up writing these essays), the holiday will more than likely take priority.
The main reason, though, is that today is my birthday, and as you might have guessed from the headline, this year is my 43rd birthday. Therefore, this week I have pulled together an especially memorable DC story and/or issue from each of those years, 1969 through 2012. (Note: They may not always line up with the actual year, but just for simplicity’s sake, all dates are cover dates.) These aren’t necessarily the best or most noteworthy stories of their particular years, but they’ve stuck with me. Besides, while I’ve read a lot of comics from a lot of sources, for whatever reason DC has been the constant. Maybe when I’m 50 I’ll have something more comprehensive.
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Graphic novels | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has written to the Enfield, Connecticut, school district to ask that Matthew Loux’s SideScrollers be reinstated to its summer reading list and to point out that the district did not follow its own procedures when it removed the book last month after the mother of a ninth-grader complained about the graphic novel’s profanity and sexual references. [CBLDF]
Digital comics | Digital distributor iVerse has unveiled a new deal to sell foreign-language translations of Marvel and Archie comics worldwide. iVerse will have exclusive global rights to Marvel’s foreign-language comics, both floppies and trades, while for Archie they will create apps in different languages for different countries, starting with Japan, China, and India. iVerse CEO Michael Murphy says that 50 percent to 65 percent of the company’s digital sales are to international customers (including Canada). Nonetheless, the comics will be “platform-independent”: iVerse will provide translation (through a combination of machine translation and human editors) and distribution, so the comics will be available through their Comics + app but also through other channels, such as Amazon or iBooks. [Publishers Weekly]
DC Comics this morning unveiled variant covers for Before Watchmen by Jim Steranko, Steve Rude, Paul Pope, Tim Bradstreet, Jim Lee, Cliff Chiang and David Finch.
The sprawling, and hotly debated, prequel to the seminal 1986 miniseries by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Before Watchmen debuted last month with the first issues of Minutemen, Comedian, Silk Spectre and Nite Owl, all of which landed on Diamond Comic Distributors’ Top 10 for June. According to sales estimates, all four titles broke the 100,000-copy mark. Before Watchmen: Minutemen #2 arrived in stores Wednesday.
Check out all seven variant covers below.
Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly rundown of what comics and other stuff we’ve been checking out recently. Today our special guest is cartoonist Austin English, creator of the graphic novel Christina and Charles and publisher of Domino Books.
To see what Austin and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
I’ve always been fascinated with projects that could have been but got nixed before they finished (and sometimes before they even got started). The latest in that pantheon of would-be projects is a series of Captain America posters by Cliff Chiang. Although he’s been working under a DC exclusive for years that prevents him from working on Marvel Comics, he recently blogged about a project where he’d draw Captain America in a series of propaganda posters on behalf of an un-named marketing firm lobbying to do work for the movie.
Although it never got past the pitch stage, my art-lovin’ mind salivates at that idea. Here’s the roughs Cliff did for the project:
And get this — Chiang planned on bringing in Jock and Dave Johnson to do some covers too. Shame it never got greenlit. Maybe Captain America 2?
Good grief, it’s the eleventh month of the New-52! The forty-six books left from the original class are just about ready to wrap up their first year, and in some cases their second collection. Where does the time go? (And when can we stop calling it the “New” 52?)
In fact, both Batman #11 and Animal Man #11 promise “stunning conclusions” to their inaugural arcs. Of course, the Owls storyline looks more like a traditional multi-title crossover (even if most of it takes place in the main Batman book), whereas Animal Man’s storyline only involves an Annual and a little bit of Swamp Thing. Usually I am frustrated with the very idea of looking ahead three-plus months, because it’s the serialized-comics equivalent of being forced to check your watch halfway through a movie. Here, though, knowing that these two series are headed for big finishes in July helps adjust my expectations about where they are now.
Similarly, we’ve seen three months’ worth of solicitations (and more than that in hype) on the two Earth-2 titles, but for me that’s built up anticipation. Despite the concept’s radical reworking, I’m eager to see how it all comes together.
Now to more specific comments….
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NOTE: The images have been removed at the request of GQ.
Wonder Woman artist Cliff Chiang and GQ designer Benjamin Bours have revealed Chiang’s illustration of director, screenwriter and comics scribe Joss Whedon for a feature in the May issue of the magazine titled “The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth.”
“It’s always a treat to do some editorial illustration,” Chiang writes, “and when it’s a portrait of somebody as beloved in the comics scene as Joss Whedon, I couldn’t ask for a better subject.”
See a much larger version of his illustration below, and visit Bours’ website to see more pages from the Whedon profile.
It would be easy, and probably utterly predictable, for me to launch into an all-out rant about the origins of the New-52 Wonder Woman. In fact, because I found Kelly Thompson’s arguments fairly persuasive, that may still happen. However, I am more inclined to agree with Ragnell that the latest round of Amazonian revelations doesn’t quite square with what we’ve already been told, not just in Wonder Woman but in Justice League too. Therefore, there’s a chance that Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang are trying (with the best of intentions, naturally) to be provocative, ginning up interest in the book before the real story comes out.
Make no mistake, I understand completely Kelly’s argument that this version of Wonder Woman undercuts DC’s most venerable feminist institution. Even if the account in WW #7 is squarely contradicted, the insinuation is still pretty harmful. Either way, this is not the “old” Wonder Woman. Accordingly, this may simply be a new Wonder Woman, as different in origin as Hal Jordan was from Alan Scott; and her history may be the brutally-simple solution to the decades-old issue of “what to do with Wonder Woman.”
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2011 was a great year for writer Sam Humphries; he and artist Steven Saunders self-published and self-distributed a successful one-shot called Our Love Is Real, which sold out several times and eventually was picked up by Image Comics. From there, he teamed up with artist Dalton Rose for a six-issue, self-published and self-distributed series called Sacrifice. The first issue came out last month and told the story of Hector, a time traveler/Joy Division fan who finds himself in the middle of the Aztec empire. The comic includes not only references to Aztec culture, but also pop music and the culinary delights of Rancho Peñasquitos.
Humphries has guest-blogged with us several times in the past, so when it was time to send out invitations to the big Robot 6 birthday bash, I put him at the top of the list. He brought gifts, too, in the form of a rundown of the various references included in the first issue of Sacrifice, a look at the Jade Edition cover variant of issue #2 by Wonder Woman artist Cliff Chiang and critical information on the healing powers of tacos. You can pre-order a physical copy of the second issue through TFAW.com, or you can find it at several comic shops. The first issue can be downloaded now via Graphicly or comiXology.
Now let’s hear from Sam …
DC Comics completed their list of 52 collections for the new 52 relaunch titles by announcing that a Wonder Woman hardcover, collecting issues #1-6 of the series by writer Brian Azzarello and artists Cliff Chiang and Tony Akins, will come out next May. The 144-page book will retail for $22.99.
DC announced via their January solicitations that Akins, who has previously drawn Jack of Fables, Elementals and, with Azzarello, a comic called Red Dragon from the now defunct Comico, would fill in for artist Cliff Chiang on issue #5 and #6. According to Chiang on Twitter, he’ll be back on the book with issue #7.
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.
What’s that, you say? Paul Grist’s new Mudman series starts this week (#1, Image Comics, $3.50)? Well, that’s how I’m starting my $15 haul this week. While I’m at it, let’s add Avengers Origins: Luke Cage #1 (Marvel, $3.99) and Kirby Genesis: Captain Victory #1 (Dynamite, $3.99), before finishing up with the third issue of Wonder Woman (DC, $2.99) for a superheroic week that goes from the earth to the gods, with some blaxploitation and aliens thrown in the middle for flavor.
DC would dominate the other half of my budget if I had $30. I’d be grabbing the third issues of Green Lantern Corps, Justice League and Supergirl ($2.99 each, except Justice League for $3.99), but I’m surprising myself as much as anyone else by grabbing The Bionic Man #4 (Dynamite, $3.99) for my final pick – I read the first three issues in a bunch this weekend and really enjoyed the book to date much more than I’d been expecting.
Comics | John Jackson Miller slices and dices the October numbers for the direct market, noting that overall dollar orders for comic books, trade paperbacks, and magazines topped $40 million for the first time since September 2009. Orders rose 6.9 percent over September, the first month of DC’s relaunch. “While that may sound counter-intuitive, it isn’t when you consider that all those first issues continued to have reorders selling through October,” Miller writes. “Retailers with an eye on the aftermarket may also have some sense that second issues are historically under-ordered — something which goes at least back to the experience of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #2 in the 1980s, which wound up being much more valuable than its first issue.” [The Comichron]
Passings | Tom Spurgeon reports that author Les Daniels has passed away. Daniels wrote horror fiction and nonfiction books on the comic industry, which include Comix: A History of the Comic Book in America, Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World’s Greatest Comics and DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World’s Favorite Comic Book Heroes. [The Comics Reporter]
I was going to open with some snotty Wow, the holidays went by super-quickly! comment, but then I read the first issue of Justice League in seven weeks. Sometimes DC gets ahead of itself; sometimes it’s a little behind. Happens to the best of us — sometimes you do two solicitation roundups in three weeks….
Anyway, with the January solicitations, the New-52 books each turn five issues old. Series wrapping up their first arcs this month include Blackhawks, Batwoman, Animal Man, and the Deadman feature in DC Universe Presents. (Not to worry about the latter, because there is a lot of Deadman in these solicits.) I’m not sure why five issues is such a wonky number for story arcs — there are five-issue miniseries all the time and they collect just fine. Still, I expected most of the New-52 books to take six issues for their introductory stories, and most of them may yet do that. Only a few books look to finish their first arcs after December’s issue #4s (Hawkman and Frankenstein, probably OMAC, maybe Batgirl), and those plus this month’s are barely an eighth of the relaunched line. It makes next month’s solicits more intriguing, I suppose.
Regardless, we live in the now (as it were…) so — onward to January!
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It’s perhaps a little fitting that Wonder Woman’s first post-relaunch visit to Themyscira, a magical, hidden island that can teleport to any location or time, should have echoes of Lost. In the preview of this week’s Wonder Woman #2, from the Maxim magazine website of all places, we get our first exposure to the (re-) rebranded Paradise Island, complete with unnerving, and downright threatening, whispers, and Others Amazons emerging from the shadows of the jungle.
Also worth noting: Queen Hippolyta is blonde again, for the firs time since, when, the 1987 relaunch? Wonder Woman #2, by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang, goes on sale Wednesday.
DC Comics has begun parceling out its January solicitations ahead of the full release this afternoon, revealing Tony Akins as the first fill-in artist for Wonder Woman. As noted last week, Cliff Chiang will still provide the cover for Issue 5, which finds Diana back home in London dealing with “two of the most powerful deities of the pantheon.”
Chiang and Wonder Woman writer Brian Azzarello had one of the most acclaimed debuts in DC’s New 52.
Beyond that, the creative teams in the Justice League, Superman and Batman groups, the only solicitations released so far, appear stable in the fifth month of DC’s relaunch. The covers range from dazzling — Wonder Woman by Chiang, Batwoman by J.H. Williams III and Batgirl by Adam Hughes are particularly noteworthy — to confounding. Starfire appears to be bleeding from her hair on Red Hood and the Outlaws (damned cheap Tamaranian dye jobs), while the covers of Detective Comics and Superman employ some oddly executed split images.
And then there’s the enormous demonic creature gnawing on Nightwing …
Check out some of the highlights, and lowlights, below, and visit Comic Book Resources at 2 p.m. PT to see DC’s full solicitations for January.