CrossGen Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Route 666 revivals ‘shelved’ by Marvel

More than three months after Marvel said it was merely delaying the debuts of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Route 666, Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort revealed this morning that the planned revivals of the CrossGen titles “have been shelved for the time being.”

Announced in August at FanExpo Canada, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Route 666 were set to join recent revivals of Ruse, Sigil and Mystic in December and February, respectively, under Marvel’s fledgling CrossGen imprint. Buoyed by nostalgia for the defunct publisher, Ruse and Sigil had solid enough debuts, selling an estimated 28,500 copies each in February 2011. But by their conclusions in June, sales of Ruse had plummeted to about 10,500 copies, and Sigil to 8,900. Mystic‘s August premiere was considerably weaker, moving around 18,800 copies. By October’s Issue 3, that figure had tumbled to about 6,000, suggesting nostalgia only goes so far.

Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated Peter Nguyen, Route 666 was to re-imagine the CrossGen horror series, transplanting protagonist Cassie Starkweather to the 1950s, where she was a deputy to U.S. Marshal Evan Cisco. Likewise, writer Peter Milligan and artist Roman Rosanas put a new spin on the Mike Perkins-Tony Bedard espionage comic Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, with a young agent ordered by MI6 to assume the role of super-spy Charles Kiss.

(via Blog@Newsarama)

Food or Comics? | Ditko Ditali

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Shade #4

Chris Arrant

If I had $15 I would be in comics heaven, starting with Shade #4 (DC, $2.99). I’ve loved what Cully Hamner and James Robinson have done so far, but seeing Darwyn Cooke drawing this issue knocks it up to a whole new level. It’s like seeing David Bowie sit in on an up-and-coming band’s gig one night. Next up would be the reunion of Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen in Secret Avengers #21 (Marvel, $3.99). I was halfway hoping they would break from the serious tone of the title and revisit the inanity of Nextwave, but the preview dashes that hope; still, excellent work of two guys at the top of their game. Next up would be Invincible #87 (Image, $2.99), promising an all-new level of beatdown for Mark Grayson. Lastly, I’d get Jason Aaron’s fresh take on Marvel’s mutants with Wolverine and the X-Men #4 (Marvel, $3.99). Part return to basics and part brand-new day, seeing Logan having to be the respectable one and not the plucky wildcard is fun, and the cast Aaron’s assembled is great.

If I had $30, I’d continue reading Aaron with Wolverine #300 (Marvel, $4.99). Jokes about the constant renumbering/reshuffling/rejiggering of Aaron’s run aside, it’s been a swell ride and looks to be heading up to a finale of sorts. Next up would be Batwoman #5 (DC, $2.99). Williams’ art continues to impress, and while the story doesn’t match up to his levels with Rucka on Detective Comics, he and Blackman are striving for something I haven’t been able to fully understand yet. Lastly, I’d pick up Northlanders #47 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99). Artist Declan Shalvey is an inspired get for this series, really showing off what he can do outside Marvel’s Thunderbolts.

If I could splurge, I’d dive into Eric Powell’s adaptation of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (IDW, $19.99). Putting Powell together with Twain isn’t an obvious team-up, but given Powell’s depth of work I’m interested to see how it turns out.

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Industry vet Bart Sears releases first sketchbook

An interesting thing popped up in my morning stroll through RSS feeds of interesting sites: artist Bart Sears is doing his first sketchbook. Titled Odds-n-Ends, the book promises 52 pages “crammed with sketches, drawings, designs” including many unpublished works. It’s an interesting piece from an interesting, and largely overlooked, comic artist.

Sears is a unique figure in comics. He’s worked in most every corner of the comics industry, from Justice League Europe to Todd McFarlane’s Violator, and was even the art director at CrossGen for a time. Many fans probably remember him for his instructive art column “Brutes & Babes,” in Wizard magazine. In the past few years, Sears has worked largely outside of comics, as an in-house concept artist for video game developer Heatwave Interactive. The few comics he has done recently were published by Dark Horse: a miniseries titled The Helm and a two-issue Conan series with fellow CrossGen alum Ron Marz.

Sears’s art style is like a dynamic mind-meld of the sinewy style of Barry Windsor-Smith crossed with the muscled men and women of Boris Vallejo. His work goes to the root of power-fantasy, making him hyper-specialized so that only certain kinds of books would fit his work. I wouldn’t be surprised if Marvel, DC or another publisher someday finds that right book that shows off Sears’ work to its fullest. This sketchbook offers a unique glimpse at what the artist himself  might want to draw, and might give some ideas for readers and comics staffers as to where Sears could fit.

Marvel’s Route 666, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang delayed but not canceled

Route 666 #1 cover sketches, by Peter Nguyen

In the wake of a wave of cancellations from the House of Ideas, there emerges some good news for fans of CrossGen: While Marvel’s revivals of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Route 666 won’t debut in December and February, as originally announced, the publisher assures the titles aren’t canceled but merely delayed.

A Marvel spokesman tells Robot 6 the planned four-issue miniseries are simply being moved around on the publisher’s 2012 calendar.

Announced in August at FanExpo Canada, Route 666 and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang are set to join recent revivals of Ruse, Sigil and Mystic under Marvel’s fledgling CrossGen imprint. Buoyed by nostalgia for the defunct publisher, Ruse and Sigil had solid enough debuts — for miniseries, in any case — selling an estimated 28,500 copies each in February. But by their conclusion in June, sales of Ruse had plummeted to about 10,500 copies, and Sigil to 8,900. Mystic‘s August premiere was considerably weaker, moving around 18,800; by October’s Issue 3, that figure had fallen to less than 6,500.

Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated Peter Nguyen, Route 666 re-imagines the CrossGen horror series, transplanting protagonist Cassie Starkweather to the 1950s, where she’s a deputy to U.S. Marshal Evan Cisco. Likewise, writer Peter Milligan and artist Roman Rosanas put a new spin on the Mike Perkins-Tony Bedard espionage comic Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, with a young agent ordered by MI6 to assume the role of super-spy Charles Kiss.

Comics A.M. | Asterix co-creator retires; publisher Sergio Bonelli dies

Asterix

Creators | Eighty-four-year-old artist Albert Uderzo, who created Asterix the Gaul in 1959 with writer René Goscinny, has announced he’s retiring, saying he’s “a bit tired” after 52 years of drawing. The news came as publisher Hachette celebrated the sale of 350 million Asterix books worldwide. Uderzo, who took over writing after the death of Goscinny in 1977, said he has found an as-yet-unnamed successor to continue his legacy, beginning with a new book planned for release in late 2012. [Reuters, BBC News]

Passings | Italian comics writer and publisher Sergio Bonelli, whose company Sergio Bonelli Editore (formerly CEPIM) releases such titles as Dylan Dog and Nathan Never, passed away Monday in Milan. He was 79. [UPI]

Legal | A witness testified Monday in Michael George’s murder trial that she heard the defendant and his first wife Barbara George have a particularly heated argument in their Clinton Township, Michigan, comic store on July 13, 1990, only hours before Barbara was shot and killed. [Detroit Free Press]

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Talking Comics with Tim | Dale Eaglesham

Dale Eaglesham's Variant Cover: Alpha Flight 2

Today marks the release of the second issue of Marvel’s new Alpha Flight eight-issue miniseries. Given how committed and enthused the creative team of writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente (on evidence in the two writers’ May 2011 CBR interview) along with artist Dale Eaglesham are about the project, I hope it becomes a regular series, quite honestly. To mark the release of the latest issue, Eaglesham agreed to an email interview. I never tire of conducting discussions of this type, where I can find out the approach an artist takes in certain scenes or with particular characters. If you’re as much a fan of this latest incarnation of Alpha Flight as I clearly am, do Eaglesham the favor of following his marching orders (detailed in the last part of this interview) so that the book can hopefully become an ongoing. In addition to discussing Alpha Flight, I was pleased to learn more about the local charity that Eaglesham supports: Refuge RR, a local animal refuge.

Tim O’Shea: Your art clearly meshes well when in collaboration with writers like Van Lente and Pak, it seems like they give you opportunity to stretch the boundaries of what you can do as an artist. For example, in the shocking reveal of issue 1, I was struck by the flock of birds flying behind Heather. Was that something specifically requested in the script or was that totally your idea?

Dale Eaglesham: That was actually my idea. It was just a casual symbol I put in there, referring to lost freedom, for Mac, but also for the whole country. It foreshadows what’s coming for Alpha Flight and Canada, and creates a sense of foreboding. You know when all the birds fly away, there’s danger nearby… I love when I get a big shot like that, it allows me to add layers to the art.

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Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Alpha Flight

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Michael May

If I had $15, I’d start with Alpha Flight #1 ($3.99). I had mostly positive feelings about the prequel issue with the only negatives being a mixture of “that doesn’t look like Sasquatch” and some anxiety born from being used to disappointment from Alpha Flight books. Neither of which has anything to do with the people creating the next eight issues, so I’m looking forward to this in a way that I haven’t since John Byrne left the book. Next I’d grab Flashpoint: Grodd of War #1 ($2.99), because an all-out Gorilla Grodd comic sounds awesome. And then I’d give Godzilla: Gangsters and Goliaths #1 ($3.99) a shot to see how well IDW can manage two Godzilla comics at a time. They certainly managed the first one well. Finally, I’d pick up Mickey Mouse #309 ($3.99) because it’s a globe-trotting adventure with a ton of guest-stars, including my favorite: The Phantom Blot.

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Marvel officially announces CrossGen imprint, first titles

Ruse #1

After months of teases, Marvel has officially announced a new imprint, CrossGen, as well as the first two titles and their creative teams.

Ruse #1 by Mark Waid and Mirco Pierfederici, with a cover by Butch Guice and Mike Perkins, debuts in March. Waid and Guice worked on Ruse back when it was published by the original CrossGen circa 2001. Joining Ruse is Sigil, written by Mike Carey and drawn by Leonard Kirk. Both are four-issue miniseries.

“SIGIL is epic fantasy on a colossal scale, ultimately spanning the whole of human history,” Carey told Marvel.com. “It tells the story of a young girl who has inherited a unique talent and destiny from her dead mother and has also been enlisted without her knowledge or understanding in a war that spans all of space and time. The amazing Leonard Kirk is our [artist], so when I throw around all these adjectives about huge scope and epic scale, you know I’m not kidding.”

“Simon [may be] the world’s greatest detective, but he’s overlooking a mystery that’s right under his nose: the secret that Emma is keeping would floor him,” Waid told the site. “Together, they solve impossible crimes in a series that’s a little Fantastic Four, a little Sherlock Holmes, and a lot of mystery. This may be the most fun I’ve ever had writing.”

Founded in 1998 by Florida entrepreneur Mark Alessi, CrossGen featured a line of titles in a variety of genres with a shared universe, or “Sigilverse,” with characters broadly linked by the Sigils they received. The first wave of comics launched in 2000 with Sigil, the fantasies Meridian, Mystic and Scion, and the “untold tales” anthology CrossGen Chronicles. Later additions included the Victorian detective series Ruse, the contemporary horror Route 666, the pirate adventure El Cazador, the fantasy Sojourn and the wuxia comedy Way of the Rat. CrossGen filed for bankruptcy in 2004. Later that same year, Disney bought the company’s assets for $1 million. Marvel began teasing the return of CrossGen last summer at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

SDCC ’10 | A roundup of Saturday’s news

Comic-Con International

Comic-Con International

Saturday at Comic-Con International in San Diego, once upon a time, was “big movie day” at the con … back before every day became big movie day at the con. Still, today somewhat lived up to its reputation for being eventful, as the Avengers assembled on stage, Green Lantern movie footage was shown and one poor fan was stabbed in the eye while attending programming in Hall H, where several of the big movie panels took place. The victim was taken to UCSD Medical Center, while his attacker was taken away by police after attendees detained him.

In happier news, here’s what was announced on the comics front:

• Marvel Editor-in-Chief and Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada confirmed that Marvel is “gonna be doing some CrossGen stuff.” CrossGen, which published numerous titles like Sojourn, Way of the Rat, Abadazad and Meridian starting 1998, went bankrupt in 2004. Disney bought their assets that same year.

Their titles covered many different genres, from fantasy to horror to detective stories. “I think with the CrossGen stuff you’re going to see us attempt a little more genre publishing, which I think is much-needed in our imprint,” Quesada said. No word yet on what properties they plan to bring back.

• Kurt Busiek announced that American Gothic, the urban fantasy comic announced at last year’s WildStorm panel, will now be called Witchlands. The series will be drawn by Connor Willumson. Busiek is also working on an Arrowsmith novel titled Arrowsmith: Far from the Fields We Know, which will include illustrations by Carlos Pacheco.

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Six by 6 | Six CrossGen series we’d like to see return in 2011

Sojourn

Sojourn

Today’s Marvel announcement, regarding its intention to utilize CrossGen’s concepts at least partially in an attempt to do “a little more genre publishing” in 2011, was rather lean in terms of details. But don’t think that stopped Michael May and myself from compiling a Six by 6 list of CrossGen series we’d like to see return (in some form) and the folks we’d like to see creating them. As always with these lists, we’d love to read your input for what CrossGen properties and/or creators you’d like to see return in 2011.

1. Sojourn. Remember when everyone loved Greg Land? I do, because Sojourn was my favorite CrossGen series and apparently a lot of other people liked it too since it was one of the last to be canceled by the spiraling company. Arwen was a gorgeous, badass hero with a cool dog and a quest to collect five shards of a magic arrow that could kill the evil sorceror Mordath. It sounds like standard fantasy stuff, but Land’s detailed, realistic artwork (no one accused him of tracing back then) brought it to life. He wasn’t solely responsible for its success though. Ron Marz’s writing elevated the characters and situations from genre cliches to honest tragedy and human stories. I’d love it if Marvel could get him back on the book. Land too, if he can still produce the kind of work he did back in the day. (Michael May)

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SDCC ’10 | Marvel to resurrect CrossGen properties next year

CrossGen Comics

CrossGen Comics

During this afternoon’s “Cup O’ Joe” panel at Comic-Con International, Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada teased the audience with an image of CrossGen’s original “Sigil” logo and the date “2011.”

The obvious implication was, of course, that the CrossGen comics properties, purchased in 2004 by Marvel’s new parent Disney, will be making a return next year. The question is, however, in what form.

“We’re gonna be doing some CrossGen stuff,” Quesada confirmed to CBR TV. He said that although Marvel does have a plan for the properties, “we’re not really prepared to talk much about it right now.”

“But we have started to work on some concepts based on the old CrossGen concepts, trying to strengthen them up, and eventually bring them to Marvel,” he said.

“It just offers us a wider variety of stories to tell than just the normal Marvel Universe kind of stories,” Quesada added later. “I think with the CrossGen stuff you’re going to see us attempt a little more genre publishing, which I think is much-needed in our imprint.”

Founded in 1998 by Florida entrepreneur Mark Alessi, CrossGen featured a line of titles in a variety of genres with a shared universe, or “Sigilverse,” with characters broadly linked by the Sigils they received. The first wave of comics launched in 2000 with the space opera Sigil,  the fantasies Meridian, Mystic and Scion, and the “untold tales” anthology CrossGen Chronicles. Later additions included the Victorian detective series Ruse, the contemporary horror Route 666, the pirate adventure El Cazador, the fantasy Sojourn and the wuxia comedy Way of the Rat.

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Joshua Middleton bids farewell to mainstream comics (at least for now)

Supergirl #51

Supergirl #51

Artist Joshua Middleton, who most recently provided covers for DC’s Supergirl, has announced he’s finished with mainstream comics work, at least “for the foreseeable future.”

“I have plenty of other stuff to keep me busy, and I want to dedicate every minute of my free time to personal work only,” Middleton writes on his bog, “so the comic book covers had to go, bringing to an end, with a whimper, ten years of mainstream comic book work-for-hire.”

The news leaves open the possibility that Middleton could return to Sky Between Branches, his creator-owned “illustrated fairy tale” that saw just one issue from Com.x in 2002.

Middleton, who’s known in recent years primarily for his cover illustrations, began his comics career in 2000 on CrossGen’s Meridian. At Marvel, he drew the first four issues of NYX, as well as covers for New Mutants, before signing with DC Comics in 2004. There, he provided covers for American Virgin, Vixen: Return of the Lion and Supergirl, and drew the 2005-2006 miniseries Superman/Shazam: First Thunder and the 2007 one-shot Outsiders: Five of a Kind #4.

J.M. DeMatteis on the end of Abadazad, new novel series

Abadazad

Abadazad

It’s been five years since Disney bought up the assets of CrossGen, the defunct comics publisher behind such titles as Ruse, Sojourn and Abadazad. It was that last property, by J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Ploog, that Disney seemed the most interested in, and a series of children’s books published by Disney’s Hyperion soon followed. So whatever happened to Abadazad?

DeMatteis recently posted two different posts on his blog that answer that question; first, he details the book’s rise from an idea to being a big reason why Disney wanted the CrossGen properties, and in a second post he explain that that personnel changes at Hyperion and disappointing sales led to the end of the road for Abadazad. But the cancellation was the springboard for another idea:

That concept smacked me across the face, grabbed me by the throat and dragged me out of my bed and into my office, where I found myself typing furiously, outlining the tale of a twelve year old girl—Mehera Crosby—whose life is upended when her favorite book series is canceled; upended even more when she discovers that the characters she so loves are alive, trapped in a strange and deadly limbo—and it’s up to her to rescue them. I called the story Mundus Imaginalis and writing that outline totally dissolved my foul mood.

The title was shortened to Imaginalis, and the first one in the planned series is due next June; go check out both his posts for a lot more detail; it’s interesting reading. So will young Mehera end up saving Kate and Matt Jameson? I guess we’ll find out then.

What Are You Reading?

Pyongyang

Pyongyang

Welcome to another edition of a little something we like to call What Are You Reading. Our special guest this week is none other than comics critic and blogger Johanna Draper Carlson, best known for her long-running site, Comics Worth Reading.

To find out what Johanna and the rest of the Robot 6 crew are currently reading, well, you know what to do …

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Mark Waid on, well, everything

Ka-Zar #1

Ka-Zar #1

Ain’t It Cool News has a lengthy and engrossing interview with Mark Waid up. I only intended to skim it and come back to it later, but I ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting. It covers everything from his early memories of reading comics to his current role as BOOM! editor-in-chief, and hits on maybe every major title he’s worked on in between. Even his run on Ka-Zar, which I really enjoyed.

It’s also very candid; if you ever wanted to know Waid’s take on the “suburban” Fantastic Four/Bill Jemas debacle, working with Alex Ross on Kingdom Come or how things worked at CrossGen, it’s in there. As is his take on the biggest challenge of 52:

BM: 52 was a series that featured multiple writers on the same weekly title, of which you were one. Was that a difficult challenge?

MW: Oh, it was an unbelievable challenge. But there is not one ounce of PR or fabrication in the statement, “We loved it because all four writers respected one another immensely.” Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka and I viewed one another as peers, each able to bring something unique to the process. But under the coordination of editor Steve Wacker (and later, Michael Siglain), we had two or three big in-person summits, participated in big conference calls each week, and kept in constant contact with one another throughout.

The biggest challenge was actually, wisely, kept from us by Steve. EIC Dan Didio, who first championed the concept, hated what we were doing. H-A-T-E-D 52. Would storm up and down the halls telling everyone how much he hated it. And Steve, God bless him, kept us out of the loop on that particular drama. Siglain, having less seniority, was less able to do so, and there’s one issue of 52 near the end that was written almost totally by Dan and Keith Giffen because none of the writers could plot it to Dan’s satisfaction. Which was and is his prerogative as EIC, but man, there’s little more demoralizing than taking the ball down to the one-yard line and then being benched by the guy who kept referring to COUNTDOWN as “52 done right.”


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