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Best of 7 | ‘Multiversity,’ ‘Project Superpowers’ and more

bestof7-april20

Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out. So let’s take a look at the last seven days in comics …

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WonderCon | Dark Horse to publish ‘Venture Bros.’ art book

ArtVentureHC-tease

In addition to all the comics they publish, Dark Horse has put out some pretty nice hardcover art books over the past few years, for properties like The Legend of Korra, Mass Effect, Dragon Age and The Legend of Zelda, to name a few. And coming this fall, you can add the popular Adult Swim series The Venture Bros. to the list.

According to the press release, the coffee table book will include original artwork, character designs, storyboards, painted backgrounds and props from the show, with commentary on the development of the series from co-creators Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer. Comedian Patton Oswalt will write the foreword.

The Venture Bros. debuted as a part of the Cartoon Network’s late-night Adult Swim block in 2003, and five seasons have run to date. Season six will reportedly start in the fall or early 2015.

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Dark Horse’s Mike Richardson on Amazon’s acquisition of comiXology

darkhorsedigitalDark Horse Comics is the highest-profile publisher whose digital releases are not available on comiXology, opting instead to use their own platform, Dark Horse Digital. Following Thursday’s news that Amazon has reached an agreement to purchase comiXology for an undisclosed amount, ROBOT 6 reached out to Dark Horse president and founder Mike Richardson for his thoughts on the matter:

“Companies outside our industry have been paying increasing attention to comics in recent years. New technology has offered a variety of new opportunities in both content creation and content delivery. It is not surprising that Amazon and Comixology would come together considering this environment. The comics industry, despite periods of lull, has always been an evolving and changing business, and this move is consistent with that history.”

Dark Horse bringing Buffyverse, Stan Sakai variants to WonderCon

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Dark Horse will bring three con-exclusive variant covers to WonderCon April 18-20, as well as two limited-edition hardcovers.

The first issues of both Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 and Angel & Faith Season 10 each get a variant, by Tomb Raider art director Brian Horton and Angel & Faith artist Steve Morris, respectively. They cost $5 each, and you’re limited to five copies of each.

Usagi Yojimbo artist Stan Sakai has drawn a variant cover for Dark Horse’s upcoming The Witcher comic, based on the video game of the same name. All proceeds from the sale of this limited-edition variant will benefit Stan and Sharon Sakai.

Finally, they will be selling limited hardcovers collecting the recent Itty Bitty Hellboy miniseries by Art Baltazar and Franco, and The Last of Us: American Dreams by Faith Erin Hicks and Neil Druckmann.

Check out the covers after the jump.

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Take a look at the pin-up gallery of the latest ‘Trekker’ collection

24687Mercy St. Clair, star of Ron Randall’s long-running Trekker series, has been busting heads and collecting bounties since the mid-1980s — so it’s no wonder she needs a vacation. But when things go terribly awry on the train to her resort destination, the guns come out.

Trekker: The Train to Avalon Bay collects stories from Dark Horse Presents #24–#29 featuring that fateful train ride, as well as a 22-page crossover with Karl Kesel’s Johnny Zombie that ran on the Thrillbent website. It also includes a large pin-up section, and courtesy of our friends at Dark Horse, we’re pleased to present some of those pin-ups today — by Dustin Weaver, Steve Lieber, Jesse Hamm, Ron Chan and Pete Woods.

Also, if you live in Portland, you can meet Trekker creator Ron Randall at Bridge City Comics from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight. They’ll have advanced copies of the book, which arrives next Wednesday everywhere else.

Check out the pin-ups below, and for more on Randall, Willamette Week recently did a very thorough profile on him.

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Building the Perfect Beast: Designing Dark Horse’s ‘Project Black Sky’ FCBD Cover

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Back in December 2013, Dark Horse revealed the covers for its May 3, 2014’s Free Comic Book Day offerings. One of those covers is for Project Black Sky featuring Captain Midnight and Brain Boy from cover and interior artist Michael Broussard.

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Comics A.M. | Cartoonist Signe Wilkinson named in defamation suit

From the Wilkinson cartoon in question

From the Wilkinson cartoon in question

Legal | Signe Wilkinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, has been named in a defamation lawsuit filed against the newspapers by Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery and his wife Lise Rapaport. The judge and his wife accuse the two papers of running a smear campaign against them, and the suit specifically mentions a Wilkinson cartoon satirizing their marital and work relationship (it’s complicated). Blogger Alan Gardner adds that he hasn’t been able to find a case in which a cartoonist was successfully sued for defamation, although in this case the newspapers’ reporting is part of the issue as well. [Philadelphia, The Daily Cartoonist]

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The 6 best things from Emerald City Comicon

Emerald City ComiconEmerald City Comicon may not come with the metric ton of announcements that Comic-Con International does, but in a way it’s all the better for it. Comics still feel as if they’re front and center just where I like them, and the announcements have more charm because they aren’t screaming to be heard over the din of film and television rollouts.

One year, I’ll get up to Seattle to experience the event firsthand, but in the meantime, I get to absorb all the news and photos like everyone else, as they’re posted online. ECCC even streamed all of its panels on flipon.tv. Anything that happened in Room 301 is free for anyone to watch. Everything else can be purchased with a full archive pass for $14.95. Or if, you don’t want to sit through hours of panel footage, there’s CBR’s coverage or, heck, try Google or something.

A number of announcements jumped out as particularly noteworthy, so let’s run through The 6 Best Things from ECCC. And from my count, Dark Horse won Emerald City. Your miles may vary though, so post your favorites in the comments.

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Comics A.M. | Protesters rally against cuts to SC colleges

fun home2Graphic novels | An estimated 200 students, faculty and community members gathered Saturday at the College of Charleston in South Carolina to protest proposed budget cuts to that school and the University of South Carolina Upstate in retaliation for selecting gay-themed books — including Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home — for their summer reading programs. The South Carolina House of Representatives approved a proposal early this month that would slash $52,000 cut from the College of Charleston and $17,142 for USC Upstate, which represent what each school spent on the programs. The budget is now before the state Senate. [The Post and Courier]

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ECCC | ElfQuest gets ‘Gallery Edition,’ ‘Original Quest’ collection

ElfquestV1-tease

At this weekend’s Emerald City Comicon, Dark Horse announced two collections featuring early ElfQuest material by Wendy and Richard Pini.

In August, fans can expect The Complete ElfQuest Volume 1: The Original Quest, a 720-page, black-and-white collection of “what is now known as The Original Quest.” It will include a gallery of concept art, pinups and covers, as well as commentary from the Pinis.

Then October brings ElfQuest: The Original Quest Gallery Edition. In what sounds like something akin to IDW’s Artists Edition series, it will collect Wendy Pini’s original artwork from the first five issues of “The Original Quest.” According to the press release, “Each page is carefully scanned from Wendy Pini’s original art to capture every stroke and detail. At 12 1/8″ by 17″, it’s as close to holding Pini’s original art as a fan can get.”

The Complete ElfQuest Volume 1: The Original Quest goes on sale Aug. 6. ElfQuest: The Original Quest Gallery Edition will arrive in comic shops Oct. 8 and bookstores Oct. 21.

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Comics A.M. | Stan Lee Media, Spider-Man & ‘litigation finance’

Spider-Man

Spider-Man

Legal | Those wondering how Stan Lee Media can possibly afford its long, and so far entirely unsuccessful, legal battle with Marvel and Disney may want to read this brief Wall Street Journal article about “litigation finance” — which it characterizes as the growing practice of investing in lawsuits. However, pointing to the fight over the rights to Spider-Man and other characters, writer Rob Copeland points out there are high risks: namely, that investors could never see financial return. As we’ve noted before, Stan Lee Media’s efforts are backed by a group of investors that includes the $21 billion hedge fund Elliott Management, which helps to explain why the lawsuits keep coming. [MoneyBeat]

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Quote of the Day | ‘You get better with time’

hellboy-seed of destruction1“It is dreadful. But, this is what happens: You get better with time. I actually have been looking at it the last couple of days because I’m writing something where I have to reference things that happen in that first issue. The voice isn’t there. John [Byrne] and I had a completely different take on what the writing should be like on it. We didn’t have different ideas from each other, but together we’d agreed on this approach to the writing of it. It worked fine, but I realized after doing it that it wasn’t the book I had in mind.

It’s pretty primitive, and yet it does present all my ideas. It’s not like at some point I said, ‘Oh, we’ve gotta ignore everything that’s gone before!’ It’s one of the things I’m proudest of looking at 20 years worth of this stuff. I didn’t write myself into any corners, I didn’t have to hit any reset buttons, I’m still referencing things that are in these first couple issues of Hellboy. To some extent, I got it right right out of the bat story-wise. It’s the way it’s drawn and colored, all that stuff has gotten radically refined.

Mike Mignola, reflecting on Hellboy: Seed of Destruction #1, released in March 1994. The 20th anniversary of that first issue will be celebrated Saturday worldwide with Hellboy Day. You can see the list of participating retailers at the link.

Comics A.M. | Author, ‘Vermillion’ writer Lucius Shepard dies

Lucius Shepard

Lucius Shepard

Passings | Award-winning science fiction and fantasy author Lucius Shepard, whose work included Life During Wartime and The Jaguar Hunter, passed away March 18. He was 66. Shepard ventured into comics writing on a few occasions, with the series Vermillion, part of DC Comics’ short-lived Helix imprint, and with contributions to Vertigo anthologies Gangland and Flinch. [Tor.com, BoingBoing]

Creators | American Vampire artist Rafael Albuquerque talks about the upcoming “Second Cycle” of the Vertigo series, which returns after a hiatus of more than a year. [Hero Complex]

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Comics A.M. | MegaCon expected to attract 70,000 this weekend

MegaCon

MegaCon

Conventions | Organizers anticipate as many as 70,000 people will attend MegaCon, held Friday through Sunday at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, up from about 60,000 last year; that could translate to $23 million impact on the local economy, according to the Orlando Business Journal. Guests include Amanda Conner, Darwyn Cooke, Chuck Dixon, Adam Kubert, Greg Land, Stan Lee, Jimmy Palmiotti, George Perez, Herb Trimpe, Mark Waid and Skottie Young. However, the names drawing the most attention may be The Walking Dead stars David Morrissey, Danai Gurira and Steve Yeun. “We are the first convention in the U.S. to have both David Morrissey and Danai Gurira at the same time,” Jason Smith, MegaCon’s director of operations, told Florida Today. “The show is definitely a fan favorite of our attendees.” [MegaCon]

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What better way to savor Hellboy Day than with chocolates?

hellboy-chocolates

Photos by Ryan Brookhart

I knew that Saturday is Hellboy Day, with events held around the globe to mark the 20th anniversary of the release of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy: Seed of Destruction #1 — but nobody told me there would be chocolate!

Pop Candy has the details about the limited-edition series of Hellboy chocolates, designed by renowned chocolatier Richard Ruskell, and featuring wrapper art by Mignola and names like Abe Sapien Sea Salt Bar, “Taste the Justice” Lobster Johnson Bar and Hellboy Inferno.

They’ll be available Saturday during the Hellboy Day event at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles, and afterward at Sweet! Hollywood.

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