Axel-In-Charge: Unmasking the "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Dark Horse Presents went through a reboot last year, and as a special treat for ROBOT 6’s anniversary, editor Jim Gibbons shared sneak peeks at couple upcoming stories that’ll appear in the award-winning anthology (as well as one other fun surprise). Check them out below.
Carla Speed McNeil is about to make Finder fans happy, as she’s at work on a new story arc (tentatively called “Torch”) that will be serialized this year in Dark Horse Presents. To give you an idea of what’s in store, McNeil provided ROBOT 6 with some exclusive pages, freshly colored by Jenn Manley Lee, and a revelation that the new story:
Dark Horse will celebrate the 200th issue of Dark Horse Presents in February with an 80-page installment that includes the first U.S. publication of “Masks,” a short story by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn and veteran artist Dave Gibbons.
The story, about a mother turned masked vigilante, originally appeared in April as part of The Guardian’s celebration of the opening of the “Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the U.K.” exhibition at the British Museum. “Masks” marks Flynn’s comics debut.
[Editor’s note: Every Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss “The best in comics from the last seven days” — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
Dark Horse Comics Associate Editor Jim Gibbons is a seasoned social media user. Typically when Jim posts something on his Tumblr, it is something that already was on my radar or something that (thanks to Jim’s post) I put on my radar. A few weeks back, I was considering content that might work best for the Robot 6 Tumblr, when I stumbled upon the idea of somehow tapping into Gibbons’ nose for content. Continue Reading »
It shouldn’t be a surprise that, on the heels of September’s successful release of The Best of Milligan & McCarthy, there might be new work from Brendan McCarthy published by Dark Horse: On Wednesday, the four-part story The Deleted begins in Dark Horse Presents #32, dealing with the possibility of uploading the consciousness into a virtual world.
It’s rare that I interview a creator who can provide answers that open with the phrase, “Myself and Brett Ewins, Bryan Talbot and Alan Moore were the first people to start off the new era of comics in the U.K.,” so while I had the chance, we discussed more than his new story, thanks to McCarthy’s willingness to give his time (and samples of his myriad works, past and present).
Writer Justin Aclin has looked forward to today, as his Dark Horse miniseries S.H.O.O.T First comes to a conclusion with the release of the fourth issue. Four happens to be the magic number on more than one level, as Aclin notes that the storyline has been in development for four and a half years.
However, the end of the miniseries doesn’t mark the end of Aclin and artist Nicolás Daniel Selma‘s adventures with the S.H.O.O.T. First team. In fact, Aclin provided ROBOT 6 with a peek at art from the upcoming arc Dark Horse Presents, which in March with Issue 24.
As Aclin described it, “This page is the first time we’re showing art from the upcoming Dark Horse Presents story. Part 1 takes place 10 years in the past, where an earlier version of the team confronts a giant snake Outside Actor in the Everglades. You can see a younger Lord Byron taking aim here.”
Later this month Dark Horse will debut Furious, a new comic by Bryan J. L. Glass and Victor Santos that’s “where celebrity, fame, and superheroes meet,” according to the publisher’s website.
“Staring into a fractured mirror of her life, the world’s first superhero, Furious, seeks to atone for her past sins by doling out rage-fueled justice!” the description states. “But the spotlight of our celebrity-obsessed media threatens to undo her noblest efforts and expose her true identity before she can achieve redemption.”
But that first issue won’t be her first appearance: She actually debuted in December in Dark Horse Presents #31. Courtesy of Dark Horse, we’re proud to present that eight-page story. Check it out below, then watch for Tim O’Shea’s interview with the creators later today.
Long before we worked together, I respected Kevin Melrose’s instincts on picking creators to watch. So when he advised the Robot 6 audience to read Victor Santos‘ webcomic Polar, I was intrigued. That interest only grew when Jim Gibbons (one of the best editors working in comics) told me Dark Horse was collecting Polar’s first season in Polar: Came from the Cold (which ROBOT 6 previewed in late September); I knew I wanted to interview the Bilbao, Spain-based artist.
In addition to discussing the 160-page Polar hardcover, set for release on Dec. 11, we also touched upon the upcoming Furious, a Dark Horse miniseries with his Mice Templar collaborator Bryan J.L. Glass, set to launch on Jan. 29. (For additional Furious information, please read Albert Ching’s September interview with Glass.)
Tim O’Shea: You are very clear at your website in terms of the influences that inform Polar: Came from the Cold. “The story uses a minimalistic and direct style inspired by movies like Le Samurai (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967), Tokyo Drifter (Seijun Suzuki, 1965) or Point Blank (John Boorman, 1967) and novels like The Killer Inside Me (Jim Thompson, 1952) or The Eiger Sanction (Trevanian, 1979). Polar is also a tribute to artists like Jim Steranko, Jose Muñoz, Alberto Breccia, Alex Toth and Frank Miller.” I would love to discuss each and every element of those sentences, but I will just focus on two elements. How did you first find out about films like Le Samurai? When did you read your first Steranko story, and what was it?
Victor Santos: The first Steranko book I read was the Outland adaptation. I was studying fine arts, and I hadn’t really had a great deal of exposure to U.S. comics. I’d read a lot of superheroes books in my childhood, but the manga explosion of the ’80 and ’90s caught me just in my teenage years. Actually, it was during my university years when I discovered the great U.S. artists like Eisner, Ditko, Crumb, Toth, Caniff and dozens more (thanks to friends I met there, never the professors). I discovered an old Spanish edition of Outland in a street market. Wow, that stuff blew me away! The big panels contrasting the little panels, as well as that “heavy black lighting” … This edition was a big, European album size, so the double-page spreads are gigantic. I began to research. These were very intense years for me; I was absorbing all the American history of comics at the same time.
As dangerous as it’s proved in the past, I’m refining another theory. Comics fans are divided into two schools: those who like expressionist comic artists, and those who like realist art. Were your tastes decided by what comics you were exposed to first? Or did you start off liking one school, and develop into a love of the other?
I can see a pattern emerging through my comics-reading history where I start off as a kid loving the Kirby reprints I’m first exposed to, grew up loving Mick McMahon’s work in 2000AD and came back to comics as an adult under the spell of Mike Mignola. In my time, I’ve admired the work of realists like Neal Adams, Brian Bolland and Bryan Hitch, but it’s the work of those three expressionists that I always return to.
So imagine the pleasure I got seeing McMahon sharing his process for a cover for Dark Horse Presents #32. The January solicitations had passed me by, but that issue really is one for the old -chool 2000AD fans — the collaboration between Mignola and McMahon is joined by a new strip by Brendan McCarthy, “The Deleted.” Now that I think about it, a collaboration between McMahon and Mignola has a fairly inevitable feeling about it. No two comic artists have ever sought to refine their styles so much, constantly paring their work down in a pursuit of minimalism.
Saga, Adventure Time, Jaime Hernandez and Parker: The Score were among the winners of the 2013 Harvey Awards, which were presented tonight in conjunction with the Baltimore Comic-Con. Saga was the night’s big winner with six awards, as Fiona Staples took home awards for best artist and best colorist, and Brian K. Vaughan took home the award for best writer.
Also taking home an award tonight was this very blog, as Robot 6 won for best biographic, historical or journalistic presentation. Our fearless leader Kevin Melrose will likely have a few words to say about that in the days ahead, but for now I’ll just say congratulations to the rest of the Robot 6 team — it’s an honor to work with you guys.
Named in honor of the late Harvey Kurtzman, the cartoonist and founding editor of MAD magazine, the awards are selected entirely by creators. The full list of nominees can be found below, with the winners in bold and italics. Congratulations to all the winners:
Writer Anina Bennett and artist Paul Guinan join the Monkeybrain Comics line with today’s digital re-release of first episode of their creator-owned Heartbreakers, which originally appeared in Dark Horse Presents #35 in 1989.
The sci-fi adventure has gathered has gathered a growing following over the years, and as it turns out Monkeybrain Co-Publisher Chris Roberson is one of those longtime fans.
Bennett and Guinan spoke with ROBOT 6 about the history and influence of Heartbreakers, its digital debut, and why they partnered with Monkeybrain. To learn how real-world events helped to change the direction of Heartbreakers makes me even more interested to see how Bennett and Guinan plan to observe the comic’s 25th anniversary next year.
If you’re attending Comic-Con International in San Diego, be sure to visit Bennett and Guinan in Artists Alley at Booth CC-01.
As if Comic-Con International attendees didn’t have enough on their dance cards, here’s one more thing: Geof Darrow is debuting his “first-ever” published sketchbook in San Diego. Titled DMFAO, this limited-edition book is a mix of covers, commissions and rarely seen artwork Darrow has produced recently for U.S., European and Japanese publications. DMFAO will be available at Darrow’s booth (#5000), but he has no plans to sell it online or by mail-order.
Darrow got his start in comics with another art collection (a portfolio of prints) with Moebius in 1984 called La Cité Feu. Darrow met Moebius while the French artist was working on 1982’s Tron, and ended up being introduced to Frank Miller at Moebius’ home, which led to several collaborations over the years.
The artist is in the middle of a return to comics with new Shaolin Cowboy stories at Dark Horse, and he’s creating covers for Marvel’s Deadpool. Here’s a full look at DMFAO‘s cover, along with some recent work Darrow has put online:
Manga | Yen Press announced a number of new manga licenses over the weekend at SakuraCon, including the manga series based on the Square Enix game Kingdom Hearts. The company will re-release some of the manga originally published by Tokyopop and publish some of the newer series as well. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Christopher Irving interviews, and Seth Kusher photographs, The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman: “I am certain that I will never be able to top it, and I’m coming to grips with that. It’s somewhat disconcerting that something I created when I was 23 will be something I’m remembered for when I die, when I’m 35 (or whenever it is). …I’ll be 34 in a little bit, so I wasn’t being too optimistic for myself.” [Graphic NYC]
The ugly truth is that I can’t afford Dark Horse Presents. Not without making cuts to my pull list that I just don’t want to make. Fortunately, publisher seems to understand this, and is making it easy for me with its zero-issue program, collecting stories from DHP into one-shots that may or may not lead into ongoing series. I’m able to keep up with some of my favorite creators and characters this way in a format I enjoy, while also discovering some new stuff like Steve Horton and Michael Dialynas’ steampunk/fantasy comic Amala’s Blade.
A couple of things attracted me to the one-shot right away: its sword-wielding heroine, and Dialynas’ art. The look of the comic combines the expressive designs of someone like Faith Erin Hicks with the European-influenced grittiness of maybe Simon Roy. There are also cyborg pirates and a monkey in a derby, but I never know how much I can trust those things. Besides the derby-wearing primate that ripped me off in St. Augustine that one time, it’s easy for writers to throw gimmicky concepts into a story just to elevate the Awesomeness Quotient. It’s a whole other thing to be able to integrate those concepts into the world in a believable way and make them work for the story. Horton’s script does that not just with the crazier story elements, but with the genre itself.
More often than not, steampunk is a setting, not a genre. Most “steampunk” stories I read are that way only because someone decided to throw in some goggles, gears and maybe an airship or two. In Amala’s Blade, Horton and Dialynas explore the very idea of steampunk, and in the process call into question its relevance. It’s tough to tell after one issue, but I think this doubting is intentional.
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 buy the leading contender for best ongoing series this year, Saga #10 (Image, $2.99). I loved the last issue focusing on the Will, but I’m excited at the prospect this one teases of Izabel returning – although in a red-tinged, seemingly evil demeanor. After that I’d get another creator-owned gem with Francesco Francavilla’s The Black Beetle #2 (Dark Horse, $3.99). I love the latitude Dark Horse is giving Francavilla in the design packaging here – that cover is something special — and luckily, the insides have the promise of being even better given what happened last issue. Third and last in my $15 haul this week would be Dark Horse Presents #21 (Dark Horse, $7.99). Criminally underrated and consciously mind-blowing, this issue promises three new serials debuting plus a collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Paul Chadwick about alien saucers. Why isn’t this a top-selling book?
If I had $30, I’d make it a Dark Horse trifecta with Conan the Barbarian #13 (Dark Horse, $3.50). How does Brian Wood do it, finding such great artists that no one else knows about like Mirko Colak? This time, Conan tries to conquer the desert. Then I’d do a Marvel trifecta: Avengers #6 (Marvel, $3.99), Nova #1 (Marvel, $3.99) and Thor: God of Thunder #5 (Marvel, $3.99). Avengers has seemingly the origin of my formerly most favorite D-list hero in the Marvel Universe, Captain Universe – until she upgraded to the A-list as an Avenger. Then Nova has a spirited, seemingly kid-friendly romp by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness. Then Thor … Thor. This thoroughly dark and mythic story has made Jason Aaron’s beard even more ominous than before.
If I could splurge, I’d get Alter-Ego #115 (TwoMorrows, $8.95). Normally a magazine about comics, in this issue they collect some lost gems – namely the stereoscopic comics (3-D!) – of the 1950s. 3-D glasses included, this issue contains work by Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, Joe Kubert, Curt Swan (!!), George Tuska and more. Truly a highlight of the week.