Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
I made no bones when I first wrote about the Joëlle Jones/Jamie S. Rich Lady Killer five-issue miniseries would be a must read, given the fact that award-winning veteran colorist Laura Allred would be gracing Jones’ art. While going into the first issue with elevated hopes, amazingly enough the Jones/Allred artistic team exceeded all of my heightened expectations.
It’s deja vu all over again for the Diamond Gem Awards: Voted on by comics retailers, the winners this year look a lot like the 2013 lineup, with Image Comics and BOOM! Studios once again taking honors as top publishers in their divisions. Marvel was named top dollar publisher, DC Comics as top backlist publisher and Viz Media as top manga publisher — just like in 2012 and 2013.
The first issue of the widely acclaimed Ms. Marvel was honored as comic book of the year in the under $3 division, and Thor #1 was the choice among pricier comics. The Amazing Spider-Man #1 brought in the most dollars, however. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was named the best all-ages comic of the year, Batman: Earth One took the honors as best original graphic novel, and Box Brown’s Andre the Giant was the best indie comic.
In terms of who got what, DC Comics won seven awards, Marvel won six and Dark Horse won three, including best anthology for Dark Horse Presents, another three-peat.
Here’s the full list of winners:
Dark Horse will explore the history and mythology of Azeroth, the setting of Blizzard Entertainment’s blockbuster video game franchise, in World of Warcraft: Chronicle.
Debuting in November, the multi-volume series is described as a “definitive tome of Warcraft history” that “reveals untold stories about the birth of the cosmos, the rise of ancient empires, and the forces that shaped the world of Azeroth and its people.
Best known for his award-winning “slice-of-life fantasy” webcomic Tails, Ethan Young turns from the semi-autobiographical to historical fiction for his next project. Nanjing: The Burning City, a graphic novel due out later this year from Dark Horse, tells the story of two Chinese soldiers during the night before the Nanjing Massacre.
This will be big for Young; not only will the year see the release of a graphic novel he’s been planning since college, but he and his wife are also expecting their first child. We spoke about the project, fatherhood and more.
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.
Best known to U.S. audiences for his work on Blue Beetle and his collaboration with Scott Snyder on American Vampire, artist Rafael Albuquerque is exchanging the world of superheroes and the supernatural for the Meld, an inhospitable dimension littered with, in his words, “temporal garbage.”
It’s the setting of Ei8ht, the creator-owned miniseries Albuquerque co-wrote with Mike Johnson (Supergirl), debuting Feb. 18 from Dark Horse. Based on the artist’s Brazilian webcomic Tune 8, the five-issue series centers on a chrononaut named Joshua who takes on a suicide mission to save his dying wife, only to find himself trapped in the Meld with little memory.
Albuquerque spoke with ROBOT 6 about the evolution of Ei8ht, his love for science fiction, and his creative goals for the series. He also shared an exclusive preview of the first issue.
Long before Frank Frazetta became internationally renowned for his genre-defining — and redefining — paintings of Conan, Tarzan and John Carter of Mars and other characters, he created the Snow Man. A scrappy ax-swinging, pipe-smoking statue brought to life, the Snow Man was introduced in 1944 in the first and only issue of Tally-Ho Comics, marking Frazetta’s comic book debut. He was 16 years old.
“All I did was one story, I was the kid who created the character,” Frazetta later recalled. “I did the pencils, and [Baily Publishing artist John] Giunta did the inking. I was only a kid, I didn’t even know how it was done.” However, Frazetta quickly learned, becoming first a comic book artist, drawing Western, fantasy, mystery and funny-animal stories, and then a painter whose influence on sci-fi and fantasy is still felt.
Richard Corben is known for both his classic horror comics and, in recent years, a spate of adaptations of classic tales of terror. His next project, Rat God from Dark Horse, blends the two, as it draws inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft to tell an all-new story of backwoods horror.
The story folds together Corben’s interest in Native American culture, commentary on the racism in Lovecraft’s work, and his own dense, shocking style of drawing. In the comic, an arrogant New England scholar sets out to uncover the background of a young student from a rural area, only to discover horror beyond imagining.
We’re happy to share an exclusive preview of Rat God #1, which arrives Feb. 4.
Andrew MacLean is one of many artists I’ve enjoyed following over the past few years, from his self-published work on the two volumes of Head Lopper to his collaborations with writers like Jim Gibbons, Nolan T Jones and Jamie Gambell. This year he’ll be hitting comics in a big way with the release of ApocalyptiGirl, a graphic novel about a girl, a cat and an apocalypse.
Due out May 20 from Dark Horse (and listed in the current Previews), ApocalyptiGirl is both written and drawn by MacLean. I spoke with him about the book, as well as his plans for more Head Lopper.
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:
After revisiting Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell’s 2002 collaboration last year with a new edition of Murder Mysteries, Dark Horse plans to return to the material — and so much more — with a gallery edition designed to fully showcase the illustrator’s work.
Set for release in October, P. Craig Russell’s Murder Mysteries and Other Stories: Gallery Edition will feature high-quality scans of his original art, printed at art-board size.
The hours are ticking down not just on 2014, but also on Dark Horse’s Star Wars license. However, before the publisher says goodbye to a galaxy far, far away, it’s having one epic final sale, dubbed the “Star Wars Farewell Megabundle.”
How epic? How about digital versions of every Star Wars comic published by Dark Horse over the past two decades, for $300? That amounts to about 50 percent off the entire digital library. That’s everything from 1991’s Star Wars: Dark Empire to 2014’s The Star Wars, and everything in between – Legacy, The Clone Wars, The Old Republic. All of them.
Dark Horse has revealed the previously announced Art of He-Man and Masters of the Universe will also be released in a limited edition of just 4,000 copies.
Produced in partnership with Mattel, it’s the first official art book devoted to the enduring multimedia franchise. Packaged in a die-cut, two-piece Castle Grayskull slipcase, with a foil-embossed cover and portfolio print, the nearly 400-page limited edition includes rarely seen concept sketches and prototypes from the Mattel archives, restored art from Earl Norem, and interviews with the likes of Dolph Lundgren, Paul Dini and Erika Scheimer. In addition, there’s commentary written by Tim and Steve Seeley.
Manga | The top-selling manga in Japan this year was One Piece, with nearly 11.9 million volumes sold; Attack on Titan came in a close second, with 11.7 million. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Jim Zubkavich updates his post from last year about the long-term sales and profitability of his series Skullkickers. There are some interesting angles to this, including the cost of his deluxe collected editions, the boost he got from his “reboot,” and the importance of digital sales in the long term: “Since there’s no print run or storage limit with digital they continue to build profitability over the long haul (particularly with the early issues as new readers sample the series during comiXology sales). Many issues that lost money in their initial print release have been able to make back their losses thanks to digital.” [Zub Tales]
POP, writer Curt Pires‘ collaboration with artist Jason Copland and colorist Pete Toms, wraps up this week with the release of Issue 4 from Dark Horse. One thing I consistently enjoy about Pires’ storytelling is how it works on two levels: You have a plot replete with action that always keeps the reader engaged, along with with a layer of subtext that invites deeper consideration.
In an interview with ROBOT 6, Pires allowed me to poke around both layers. Suicidal ideation, drug use and poetic terrorism are just a few of the concepts considered in POP, and in this interview.