Dark Horse Comics
Awards | Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times, written by Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton and illustrated by Greg Chapman, won the Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in a graphic novel, presented over the weekend by the Horror Writers Association. Winners with a comic-book connection in other categories include Caitlin R. Kiernan (novel, The Drowning Girl), Jonathan Maberry (young-adult novel, Flesh & Bone), and Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard (screenplay, The Cabin in the Woods). [Horror Writers Association]
Graphic novels | Heidi MacDonald looks at Dark Horse’s plans to expand its Originals line of creator-owned graphic novels this year; upcoming releases include print editions of Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover’s Bandette and Cameron Stewart’s Sin Titulo, as well as a new graphic novel, Bad Houses, by Sara Ryan and Carla Speed McNeil. [Publishers Weekly]
The long-awaited first issue of Gerard Way, Shaun Simon and Becky Cloonan’s The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys finally made its way into comic shops this week, kicking off a miniseries that continues the story that was set up in My Chemical Romance’s 2010 album Danger Days. The project was first announced in 2009, and comes out well after the album it’s based off of and even after My Chemical Romance’s breakup.
The miniseries picks up some time after the events depicted in those cool My Chemical Romance music videos that featured Grant Morrison, with the story focusing on the young girl rescued by the Killjoys from Better Living Industries, or BL/Ind.”When you read this book you’re going to assume that this big clean corporation are the bad guys, and all these punky-looking freedom fighters are the good guys, and I think that the story really explores that as well — who in fact is good at all,” Way told CBR. “You basically have two extremes, and in the middle of these two extremes — one being about control and one being about total chaos — you have this girl. Both sides basically want this girl for their own reasons.”
So, was it worth the wait? Here are a few opinions from around the web:
Creators | Stan Lee, characterized by CNN as “the Godfather of comic book heroes,” is modest about his own achievements in a new interview: “If my publisher hadn’t said ‘let’s do superhero stories’ I’d probably still be doing A Kid Called Outlaw, The Two Gun Kid or Millie the Model or whatever I was doing at the time.” He reflects on the increased female audience for comics and discusses some new projects, including a new superhero, The Annihilator, created specifically for a Chinese audience. [CNN]
Comics| Chris Huntington reflects on the importance of Miles Morales for children of color, like his son: “… To see Spider-Man pulling his mask over a tiny brown chin – to see a boy with short curly hair sticking to the ceiling of his bedroom— well, something happened. Dagim has been Spider-Man for two Halloweens in a row. He takes a bath with his Spider-Man and a toy killer whale. He has Spider-Man toothpaste and a Spider-Man toothbrush. If Spider-Man offered medical coverage, I think he would want that, too. My son somehow understands that there is a Peter Parker Spider-Man, who is vaguely grown-up and my age, and a younger Spider-Man, closer to his age. That’s just how Dagim likes it. He even understands that Peter Parker — like Superman, like Batman – wasn’t raised by his birth parents. The best superheroes were all adopted like him.” [The New York Times]
BookExpo America takes place the Javits Center, just like New York Comic Con, but it’s a completely different kind of show. It’s a trade show, not a consumer show, so the folks in the aisles aren’t fans looking for a fix, they are potential customers to be wooed. And what you see there is a pretty reliable guide to what everyone will be talking about in a couple of months.
So if you happened into the little graphic novel enclave at the right time, you might see Gene Luen Yang sitting there, pen in hand, ready to autograph a free Avatar graphic novel for you, or maybe Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights pioneer, sitting next to Andrew Aydin, with ashcans of their graphic novel about Lewis’ life, March, and while you might have to wait a few minutes for your turn, you wouldn’t have to stand on the sort of long lines they might draw at San Diego. The pace is more leisurely than a comic convention — the creators chat as they sign your comics — and the blasting noise of video game and movie displays is blissfully absent.
It’s true there aren’t a lot of comics publishers at BEA, although there are a fair number of book publishers who include comics in their lines. Abrams didn’t send their ComicArts people, but if you consider Diary of a Wimpy Kid to be a comic (I’m always happy to claim that one for our side), then they were well represented, and many attendees had Wimpy Kid stickers on their badges.
With a click of the “Buy Now” button, readers could download 50 first issues through the company’s online storefront. Worth $168.50, the titles ranged from from the first issues of 1994′s Hellboy: Seeds of Destruction and 2002′s B.P.R.D.: Hollow Earth to far more recent series, like The Massive, Mind MGMT and The Black Beetle: No Way Out.
“The success of our digital promotion illustrates the growing reach of digital comics, which we believe are an important element in the recent resurgence of physical comic book and graphic novel sales,” Dark Horse President Mike Richardson said in a statement.
Graphic novels | April was a slow month for new graphic novel releases, so the BookScan Top 20 had plenty of room for some backlist titles. The Walking Dead dominated, of course, but the 10th volume of Sailor Moon was there for a second month and actually moved up a notch. And the first volume of Saga came in at No. 12, perhaps because people were curious as to what all the fuss is about. [ICv2]
Editorial cartoons | Nick Anderson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for the Houston Chronicle, has responded to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s criticism of Jack Ohman’s cartoon with a cartoon of his own. [Comic Riffs]
Conventions | Jeff Smith, Brian Wood, Sean Murphy and Raina Telgemeier are the headline guests at the Maine Comics Arts Festival in Portland on May 19. [Foster's Daily Democrat]
I think IDW and Dark Horse are having some sort of competition at C2E2 this weekend to see who can overwhelm my email box with the most press releases, or at least that’s what it seemed like last night when a ton of press releases pop up around the same time from both companies. Here’s a rundown of what we’ve heard from both of them at the show thus far …
• Both companies announced they’ve picked up some new licenses. As I noted yesterday, Dark Horse will publish Wendy and Richard Pini’s Elfquest starting later this year, and they’ve also picked up the license for new Halo comics. IDW, meanwhile, has picked up the license to the Jay Ward characters, with plans for series Mr. Peabody & Sherman and Rocky & Bullwinkle next year. Also, two of IDW’s other licensed titles will meet up in Mars Attacks Judge Dredd by Al Ewing and John McCrea. The first issue arrives in September.
• Both companies are also reaching into comics’ past to bring back some titles we haven’t seen in awhile. IDW announced that they’ll release deluxe hardcovers of Christian Gossett’s The Red Star this fall. They’re also bringing back Zombie War by Kevin Eastman, Tom Skulan and Eric Talbot in October. The original series was published by FantaCo and Tundra back in 1993. Dark Horse is resurrecting Geof Darrow’s Shaolin Cowboy, which was originally published by Burlyman Entertainment.
Dark Horse Comics announced at C2E2 this weekend that they’ve reached an agreement with creators Richard and Wendy Pini to bring the long-running cult hit Elfquest back to the printed page. The first release arrives in the fall and will be the prologue to Elfquest: The Final Quest, which is currently being serialized on BoingBoing. Following that, Dark Horse will release The Final Quest alongside all-new editions of previously published material.
“Dark Horse is a company I’ve admired ever since it sprang on the scene in the 1980s. Somehow, as large as they’ve grown, they’ve retained an independent spirit that Richard and I totally identify with. The quality of their offerings is legendary and I’m extremely happy that Elfquest is part of their lineup,” Wendy Pini said in a press release.
Legal | Singapore cartoonist Leslie Chew was arrested last week on charges of sedition, held over the weekend, and released on S$10,000 bail. His cellphone and computer were also confiscated. The charges stem from two cartoons on Chew’s Demon-cratic Singapore Facebook page. [Yahoo! News Singapore]
Crowdfunding | Chris Sims tells the truly bizarre tale of a crowdfunding scam: Someone copied Ken Lowery and Robert Wilson IV’s Kickstarter campaign for Like a Virus, including the video, and made it into an IndieGoGo campaign, presumably planning to pocket the money and run. [Comics Alliance]
Publishing | In advance of Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio and Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada discuss who’s reading their comics, and the creative challenges of writing about characters who have been around for generations. Asked if he was the custodian of contemporary myths, DiDio answered, “You know, I feel like a renter, to be honest. I’m in charge at this moment, and the goal is to keep these myths healthy enough so that, eventually, you can pass them down to the next person who rents them.” [Chicago Tribune]
Conventions | Christopher Butcher, the organizer of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, talks about how the show has grown and what to expect this year, including an interesting slate of international creators, from David B. to Taiyo Matsumoto. [The Comics Reporter]
To mark the second anniversary of Dark Horse Digital, the publisher is making 50 first issues available for free with a single click of the “Buy Now” button. Sure, it’s not nearly the magnitude of last month’s 700-issue offer from Marvel and comiXology, but remember what happened with that.
The digital giveaway gets you $168.50 worth of comics, ranging from the first issues of 1994′s Hellboy: Seeds of Destruction and 2002′s B.P.R.D.: Hollow Earth to far more recent series, like The Massive, Mind MGMT and The Black Beetle: No Way Out.
Although no date is given for the end of the offer, Dark Horse cautions “this is a very limited time offer.” The publisher also announced this morning that it will offer comics from Dynamite Entertainment through its digital storefront.
Legal | Egyptian artist Magdy el Shafee, creator of the graphic novel Metro, was arrested by security forces in Cairo and is being held in Tora Prison. The arrests weren’t directly related to his graphic novel, which was banned by the regime of Hosni Mubarak; el Shafee went to Abdel Moneim Riyad Square to try to stop a showdown between protesters and the Muslim Brotherhood, and ended up being arrested in a sweep that rounded up 38 people. [Words Without Borders]
Legal | The local paper profiles Susan Alston, who has been active in the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund since the 1990s and even ran it for a while from the garage of her Northampton, Massachusetts, home. [Masslive.com]
Brendan McCarthy has taken to Facebook to plug the upcoming Dark Horse collection The Best of Milligan and McCarthy. He’s been using it to spread rather fetching memetic images from the classic strips in the book: so far, “Freakwave,” “Paradax” and “Skin” have gone up, presumably with similar designs for “Sooner or Later” and “Rogan Gosh” to follow.
I have to admit, I have a horse running in this race, because Brendan and Pete asked me to write an essay for the book, and it proved damned hard getting the reasons of why and how much I love this material down to less than a thousand words. Anyway, I feel jealous of anyone getting to experience this (inspirational, influential) material for the first time. It’s been downright criminal that its been out of print for so long. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll fall in love, you’ll walk funny for a week.
Awards | Online voting is open through April 30 for the sixth annual Inkwell Awards, which recognize excellence in comic-book inking. The winners will be announced during a ceremony at HeroesCon, held June 7-9 in Charlotte, North Carolina. [Inkwell Awards]
Comics | On the website of the conservative Media Research Center, Kristine Marsh and Matt Philbin accuse DC Comics and Marvel of having a “homosexual agenda”: “Like the rest of American pop culture, comic books have increasingly included pro-gay propaganda pieces aimed at the children and young adults who read them.” [Media Research Center]
Frequent readers of ROBOT 6 know I’m a big supporter of Francesco Francavilla, and particularly his Black Beetle character. Wednesday marks the release of The Black Beetle: No Way Out #3, the penultimate issue in the first of a series of miniseries for Dark Horse. As much as I was eager to learn about the pulp-fueled noir comic, I was equally keen to chat with Francavilla about his approach toward layout and storytelling in general.
As part of the interview, Francavilla shared some preview pages for the latest issue.
Tim O’Shea: Comparing the early adventures of the Black Beetle, as shown in Night Shift versus No Way Out issues 1 and 2, how liberating did it feel to be increasingly ambitious with your layouts on the pages?
Francesco Francavilla: Very liberating. One of the tricky parts of doing Night Shift was to have three small installments (chapters) of eight pages. I wanted each single chapter to be meaty enough to be entertaining on its own, but I also wanted each chapter to end with a cliffhanger. Going from that to a full 22 pages a month with No Way Out, I have much more room now to have fun with different layouts and give extra room for some big reveal sequences.