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Interview: Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan on Conan

Conan #1

Dark Horse starts a new Conan series next month with Conan #1, by Channel Zero and Demo collaborators Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan. Based on Robert E. Howard’s “Queen of the Black Coast,” the comic will weave new adventures into Conan’s two-year journey with the notorious female pirate Bêlit, a period barely touched on in the original short story. Comic Book Resources has a preview of the first issue.

I spoke with Wood and Cloonan about their plans for the series, using the classic Howard tale as their framework, and the dynamic between the young Conan and Bêlit.

ROBOT 6: How did each of you first encounter Conan — in the novels, the movie, or the older comics?

Wood: I’m sure it was the Arnold movie that was my first exposure, but not in a really meaningful way. I was 10 when it came out, so I wouldn’t have seen it, but we all played it at recess anyway. Later on, as I started to become more aware of comics, I became aware of Conan as he was drawn by masters like BWS and Frazetta.  Funnily enough, the novels came last.

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The Middle Ground #82 | What to look for in February

Consider this my calling my own bluff. Awhile back, I opined that no-one online really spent enough time talking about independent books that were being solicited, meaning that when they were finally released three months later, your store might have missed out because you didn’t even know to pre-order. With the March Previews coming out a week tomorrow, I figured there was no better time for me to tell you what you should be pestering your retailer for from the February edition. Here’s my pick of the top five books you should be looking to pre-order. Continue Reading »

Comics A.M. | Wizard tries to ‘reach out’; Image Expo adds creators

Wizard

Conventions | Wizard’s executive chairman Mike Mathews tells Heidi MacDonald that after the resignation of former CEO Gareb Shamus, the company wants to be “a Switzerland of entertainment” and mend fences with members of the industry: “Gareb is one of these types of personalities who has taken strong positions over the years with various people in the industry and brands. And that kind of hurt us because of where we are trying to go — we’re trying to be a Switzerland of entertainment and we want to try to try to reach out to brands.” MacDonald notes the company is offering a $100 credit toward Wizard conventions to former Wizard subscribers whose subscriptions abruptly ended when the magazine was shut down. A new CEO is expected to be named early next month. [The Beat]

Conventions | Image Comics announced several more guests for the Image Expo, scheduled for Feb. 24-26 in Oakland, California. The lineup now includes Blair Butler, John Layman, Rob Guillory, Nick Spencer, Joshua Fialkov, Joe Keatinge, Jim McCann and Jim Zubkavich, among many others. [press release]

Organizations | The Associação da Luta Contra o Cancer is running an awareness campaign in Mozambique featuring images drawn by artist Maisa Chaves of Wonder Woman, Catwoman, She-Hulk and Storm checking their breasts for lumps. [Daily Mail]

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Previews: What looks good for February

Judge Bao and the Jade Phoenix

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes and first issues so that I don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “ Wonder Woman is still awesome!” every month. And I’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.

Also, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell me what I missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.

Archaia

Judge Bao and the Jade Phoenix - A detective story set in ancient China. Plus: cool name.

Avatar

Dicks #1 – Garth Ennis and John McCrea’s humor makes my top hat explode and my monocle fly off my face, but I remember this being pretty popular back in the day and I imagine that it’s new presentation in color and leading into a new storyline could make it popular again.

Bongo

Ralph Wiggum Comics #1 – This, on the other hand, is exactly my kind of funny. Kind of like 30 Days of Night, I’m astonished no one’s thought of it before. Too bad it’s just a one-shot, but hearing that Sergio Aragones is one of the contributors makes me want to poke myself with my Viking helmet to see if I’m dreaming.

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NYCC | A round-up of Friday news

New York Comic Con picked up steam in its second day with announcements from Vertigo, Dark Horse, Marvel, IDW Publishing and Image, and the possibility of Sesame Street comics. Here are some of the highlights:

• Following in the footsteps of DC Comics: The New 52, most of Vertigo’s titles will be available digitally the same day as print.

• Geoff Johns announced that work is about to get under way on a Robot Chicken DC Comics special that will skewer the company’s superheroes in the same way that the show tackled Star Wars. The episode, written by Johns and MAD‘s Kevin Shinick, is set to air next summer.

• Confirming last-minute speculation, Ed Brubaker announced that he and frequent collaborator Sean Phillips (Sleeper, Criminal, Incognito) will release their next project through Image Comics. Called Fatale, the series blends noir elements with the supernatural world. “I’ve been wanting for a while to do something with a more supernatural element to it,” Brubaker told Comic Book Resources. “So Fatale mixes what we do and all the ways we’ve poked fun at the noir genre. If Incognito was us doing ‘What if Doc Savage, Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler had all existed in the same universe?’ then this is a weird combo of James M. Cain and Lovecraft. It’s got a real horror element to it — the first time I’ve really tried to do anything with horror — but it’s also got this really epic story to it.”

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NYCC | Dark Horse confirms Wood and Cloonan on Conan

Dark Horse has made it official, announcing at New York Comic Con that Demo collaborators Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan are reteaming for an adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian short story “Queen of the Black Coast.”

Often considered among the best Conan stories, the 1934 tale finds the Cimmerian taking to the high seas, where he joins up with the pirate queen Bêlit for an adventure marked with romance, terror, murder and madness.

Dark Horse teased the reunion of Wood and Cloonan two weeks ago with a vague convention schedule listing and a graphic that read simply “Brian & Becky & Dark & Horse.” The duo partnered on Channel Zero: Jennie One in 2003, which they followed with their breakout work Demo and the 2010 sequel Demo: Volume 2. They also collaborated last year on two issues of Wood’s Vertigo Viking series Northlanders.

Their run on Conan the Barbarian, described by the publisher as “a perfect jumping-on point for new readers,” begins Feb. 8.

In addition, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund announced this morning that limited-edition prints of the above image, signed by Wood and Cloonan, are being sold for $50 this weekend at the CBLDF booth (#1158) to benefit the organization.

Update: Comic Book Resources talks with Wood about Conan the Barbarian and his other Dark Horse project The Massive.

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