INTERVIEW: Gail Simone Guides 'Blockbuster Update' of Red Sonja, Vampirella and Dejah Thoris
The biggest comics news Thursday out of Comic-Con International was undoubtedly that, after years of debate, comiXology has introduced DRM-free backups of titles purchased from its storefront, with Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, MonkeyBrain Comics, Thrillbent, Top Shelf Productions and Zenescope Entertainment signing on to the program.
An email went out last night notifying customers that books they’ve purchased can be downloaded and stored as PDF or CBZ files, and pointing them to an FAQ on the subject.
“This has been an oft-requested feature,” comiXology CEO David Steinberger said during the company’s Comic-Con panel. “It’s a real backup file — it’s a fairly plain PDF or CBZ. They are high resolution, not a lot of bells and whistles, and my feeling is that people will continue to use the cloud-based reader to do their reading.”
The other big announcement was that Marvel will publish Avengers: Age of Ultron, an in-continuity graphic novel by the Uncanny X-Force team of Rick Remender, Jerome Opeña and Dean White scheduled to arrive in April 2015, ahead of the premiere of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
To think there are people in the present-day comic book industry that fail to respect colorists is hard to believe. Yet, as we noted late last month, colorist Jordie Bellaire wrote about her work being minimalized when an unnamed convention refused to name colorists as guests. The post resulted in an impromptu #ColoristAppreciationDay on Twitter as well as a larger conversation about the important value of colorists.
In the wake of that discussion, I chatted with Bellaire about the post, as well as her work as a whole. The timing turned out well, as despite her busy schedule, she was able to do an interview. It seems as if every week there’s a new comic released that features her as colorist. This week it’s Captain Marvel #10, while next it’s the debut of The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror miniseries written by Roger Langridge with Bellaire coloring artist J. Bone. Bellaire saves the best for last in our Q&A, revealing that she hopes to get back to illustrating — and that she has dabbled in writing.
Tim O’Shea: In all of the reactions from your initial Tumblr post in praise of colorists, what pleased or surprised you the most?
Jordie Bellaire: The response itself was extremely surprising! I didn’t expect anything to really come of my angry little blog post. I try to keep my “internet persona” pretty humorous and silly. I don’t really get “for realsies” worked up over anything online (unless it’s something Star Wars-related). When I posted this at 7 a.m. on hardly any sleep (I was in a tough deadline week, of course), I expected maybe three people to see it and those would have been just friends. Somehow, though, the letter spread fast. I was just thrilled. Given, keeping up with the response during the day totally killed my productivity, I was too busy watching the internet explode in the name of colorists.
Wednesday saw the end of Marvel’s well-received Uncanny X-Force, by Rick Remender, Phil Noto and Frank Martin Jr., as Remender moves on to Captain America and Uncanny Avengers, and two new comics with “X” and “Force” in their titles launch as a part of Marvel NOW! Still, this is a book that will be worth missing once it is gone, as noted by the reviews for this final issue, so let’s raise a glass to the last three years of stories by Remender and company:
Maxwell Majernik, Comicosity: “I am sad to see the series go. It was hands down the consistently best X-comic and one of my most looked forward to books each month. Remender really got these characters. We won’t see another Deadpool like this for a while. Psylocke, even though she will be headlining the new Uncanny X-Force comic, is going to be tough to write after how perfectly Remender wrote her and her powers. Even Evan, who has had a lot of time to shine in Wolverine and the X-Men, comes off as a great character in this series.”
Greg McElhatton, Comic Book Resources: “The best part of the book is not the surprise happy ending, though, as surprising as that may sound. (And it is a nice ending for that character.) It’s actually a small conversation between Genesis and Deadpool. It’s a good way to wrap up Genesis’s “is he going to be Apocalypse?” story, and it’s handled in a way that justifies Deadpool’s presence throughout all 35 issues of this series in one fell swoop. It’s hard to serve up being both touching and crass in just a few panels, but I like that Remender manages to do just that. I’d expect nothing less, honestly.”
The Marvel NOW! roll out continued this week with three titles–Matt Fraction and Mark Bagley’s Fantastic Four, All-New X-Men by Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen, and the subject of today’s Chain Reactions, Thor: God of Thunder by Jason Aaron, Esad Ribic, Dean White and Joe Sabino.
“It’s darker and grittier and in some ways it’s maybe the closest I’ve gotten to something like Scalped, which is the only real crime book that I’ve ever done,” Aaron told Comic Book Resources about the first issue. “Thor of course has things like gods, flying horses, and crazy new worlds in deep space. I like that we can do a crime story with those trappings. There will also be some horror and, of course, fantasy elements as well, and I think at the end of the day this is a story that stays true to what the character of Thor has always been.”
What was the reaction to their take on Thor? Here are a few reactions from around the ‘net …
Martin Gray, Too Dangerous for a Girl: “You can’t fault writer Jason Aaron for lack of ambition, when his debut on this Marvel Now! relaunch spans the ages and spaceways, and Thor himself shows several sides – warrior, big brother … even detective. There’s plenty of interest in his triptych of tales, as dark drama is leavened with humour. The changes in Thor’s narration as he moves from ebullient youth to god in his prime to elder deity are subtle, yet distinct. And the mood of foreboding is strong.”
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. We’ve each picked the five comics we’re most anticipating in order to create a list of the best new stuff coming out two months from now.
As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
Avengers #1 (Marvel): Has Marvel NOW! already gotten enough attention? Maybe so, but that’s partly the reason I’m highlighting this specific book. In the rising tide that’s pushed all of the Marvel NOW relaun!ches, for me — as a fan and journalist — the marketing has dulled the unique appeal of every book. Flipping through Previews and giving this a deeper critical eye, it made me realize – this is Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opeña doing Avengers, the de facto flagship book of Marvel since 2004. Opeña really turned a corner with Uncanny X-Force, and I’m interested to see how Hickman brings his meticulous plotting to a biweekly book with a cast larger than Circus of the Stars. And what’s interesting is that he’s done a version of this when he relaunched the “Ultimate” version of the Avengers in Ultimate Comics: Ultimates. I’m not saying this will be that re-heated over, but it’ll be interesting to see how he takes roughly the same characters and bobs instead of weaves.
Hiroaki Samura’s Emerald and Other Stories (Dark Horse): Samura’s Blade of the Immortal was a major manga when it debuted, but when you have one artist doing a long, drawn-out story it tends to dull in the eyes of fans on the outside looking in. But his short-story collection Ohikkoshi was fun, modern and completely different – a great bite-size snack from the eight-course meal/buffet that is Blade of the Immortal. This collection looks to be like that, centered around Samura’s western teen drama Emerald. I’ve heard of another set of stories called Bradherley’s Coach about a family whose business is to ferry orphans to their new home, which I hope is in here as well.
Mara #1 (Image): I’ve been loving Brian Wood’s work since he jumped to AiT-PlanetLar too many years ago, and seeing him branch out with another new series makes me wish for Brian Wood Month all over again. Besides swami Brian, it’s the artist he’s doing this with that really deserves some attention; Ming Doyle has killed it in her work featured on Project: Rooftop (shameless plug), and when she moved to doing shorts for Marvel in things like Fantastic Four she showed she could really play with the big boys. Seeing Wood and Doyle doing a sports-themed action series set in the future, this is a unique-looking story that’ll be at the top of my stack when it comes out on Dec. 26.
Hip Flask: Ourborous (Image): In comics today there’s a rare group of artists that are like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Ents; an older race who were once masters of the world but now subsist on making rare, but eventful appearances. Alan Moore is this way; so is Art Adams. To that list I’d like to add Ladrönn. This has my money, even if I didn’t know how great a story this is.
Orcs, Vol. 1: Forged For War (First Second): Speaking of Tolkien, am I the only one that felt compassion for the Orcs in Lord of the Rings? Well, this reprinted graphic novel by writer Stan Nicholls and artist Joe Flood brings the orc race to the forefront. Orc Stain was great, and this could be too!
Alimagno was at Marvel from 2009 to 2011, and during that time he helped to establish a system of colorists pinch hitting on deadline crunches. But perhaps more significantly, he helped foster a house style based not on a specific penciler’s style but on a color palette he nicknamed “the perfect sunset” palette.
“From my time at Marvel, the editors valued colorists with warmer palettes rooted in playing off reds and oranges and lighter yellows and blues. Led by Richard Isanove, Laura Martin and Justin Ponsor, this style set the tone for the entire line and gave Marvel’s comics a much more inviting look and feel than most of the DC Comics line.”
This kind of consistent color tone could also help other books stand out when they broke the pattern. As he explains, Dean White’s work on Uncanny X-Force, which went against this palette by using whites, helped turn a lot of heads to Jerome Opeña’s art. The next time you’re at the comic shop, take a look at Marvel’s new releases and see if you can identify what palette is being used.