INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
Borrowing a page from Top Cow’s 2012 resurrection of Cyber Force, Rob Liefeld has turned to Kickstarter to help relaunch his 1990s Image Comics series Brigade. His goal is to raise $17,500 in order to offer the first issue for free; in less than 24 hours, he’s already generated $6,775 in pledges.
Debuting in 1992, Brigade was a spinoff of the bestselling Youngblood, featuring a rogue mercenary team led by Battlestone. Following the initial miniseries, it continued as an ongoing for 24 issues, ending in 1995. The property was last resurrected in 2010 as “a complete re-imagining of the original smash series” by the original team of Liefeld and Marat Mychaels, but only one issue was released.
Rob Liefeld made waves in 2011 when he resurrected his Extreme Studios properties by handing over the characters to the likes of Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell. And now he’s looking to give somebody else a shot.
To that end, he has launched an Extreme Talent Contest in which young writers are given a chance to have their short story published in an issue of Youngblood and Bloodstrike, drawn by none other than Liefeld himself.
He explains that he’s looking for pitches for a five- to six-page short story featuring Extreme Studios characters. Three winners will be selected, one every few weeks beginning March 6; those writers chosen will have to complete a work-for-hire agreement to move on to the next stage. More details, including a link to a submission agreement, can be found on Liefeld’s blog.
“I have the absolute highest regard for creators and for the ownership of original properties, and this agreement should in no way be misconstrued as license for us to appropriate your creations,” he writes. “This agreement protects Rob Liefeld from any liabilities involving coincidental similarities to works-‐in-‐progress or other submissions. Any submissions received without a signed agreement will be discarded without review.”
I have to admit, I was surprised to learn that Rob Liefeld’s relaunched Extreme Studios line had received attention on the online news magazine Slate, and reading the article itself, I realized why: It presumes Liefeld has done something he actually hasn’t. Writing about the transformation of Prophet, Glory and Bloodstrike at the hands of Brandon Graham, Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell et al., David Weigel says that Liefeld “open-sourced” the characters, noting that “every copyright holder should be this generous, and this clever.”
Of course, this isn’t what happened; Liefeld still owns the characters, and Graham, Keatinge, Campbell and everyone else is working for him in much the same way other creators have worked for Todd McFarlane on Spawn, Marc Silvestri on his various Top Cow characters, or even Marvel and DC for decades now. It’s not really “open source” comics at all, because there’s still an “official” centralized canon version of the characters, and the material isn’t available for free for all to use as they wish. But reading the misconception made me wonder: What if Liefeld had open-sourced the characters?
Creators | For Slate’s “Doers” feature — “People who accomplish great things, and how they do it” — David Wiegel spotlights Rob Liefeld’s decision to revive his Extreme Studios line by handing over the properties to creators like Brandon Graham, Joe Keatinge and Tim Seeley. Acknowledging his critics prefer these new versions of Glory, Prophet and Bloodstrike to his originals, Liefeld tells the website, ““The internet snark has zero effect on me. I was there 20 years ago, I’m out there on the convention circuit, I experience the real and tangible enthusiasm for me and my work. You can’t rewrite the history books, you can’t eliminate the impact of my work and my characters. […] Rob Liefeld is to today as Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan are to my kids.” [Slate.com]
Passings | Paul Gravett pays tribute to the late British writer and critic Les Coleman. [Paul Gravett]
Erik Larsen will end his run on the relaunched Supreme in October with an oversized Issue 68, saying, “I have a million things of my own I want to do and I can’t do everything. Something had to give.”
The Image Comics founder picked up the reins of the series in April with Issue 63 as part of the resurrection of Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Studios, illustrating an unused script from Alan Moore’s late-1990s run and then writing the subsequent issues and providing layouts for artist Cory Hamscher.
Although Supreme #68 was solicited as a standard-sized issue Larsen explained on Twitter that it now will be an 80-page giant — “I can do more cool shit that way” — that includes solo stories for Squeak, Sister Supreme and Lion-Headed Supreme.
“The idea is to fully set the stage for whatever follows,” he wrote. “To say: this is the world — these are the players. Make no mistake, I had a ball on Supreme and [Liefeld] has been extremely supportive and hands off. He’s let me run wild with it.”
Asked who will replace him, Larsen replied, “I don’t know and if I did — I shouldn’t the be guy announcing it.”
Liefeld added, “Erik has my favorite run on Supreme to date. He informed me before Comic-Con that he was finishing his run. Can’t wait for the trade!”
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is Tim Seeley, whose work you may know from Hack/Slash, Bloodstrike, Witchblade, Colt Noble, the upcoming Ex Sanguine and Revival, and much more.
To see what Tim has been reading lately, click below.
When the announcement broke that Rob Liefeld and Image Comics were reviving the Extreme Studios titles, I was pretty excited, and not because I was a huge fan of the imprint back in the day. In fact, the only Extreme titles I can remember buying and reading were the first few issues of Youngblood. The whole Image Comics phenomenon hit around a time that my interest in superheroes was waning, as I started to shift more to things like Sandman. So as they left Marvel’s biggest superhero books, gradually I did, too, at least for a little while. And I didn’t replace them with these new books from the hot young company formed by seven rebels who decided to forge their own path. No, I was on to Neil Gaiman and Jeff Smith and Hellblazer and Sin City and other things.
I do remember the Image thing as being a huge phenomenon, though. I remember my friend Mike showing me the CNN segment he had recorded about the birth of Image Comics, about how all these guys who made X-Men, Spider-Man, etc. such hot titles had decided to do the unthinkable and form their own company. I remember seeing Liefeld on Dennis Miller, the Levi’s 501 ads, the long lines at the Dallas Fantasy Fair for a bunch of artists who weren’t even the original seven, but still commanded an enthusiastic crowd … I remember being at the comic book store flipping through a copy of some random title when two kids and their mom came in looking for the Bloodstrike “Rub the Blood” cover. They came in, bought their weekly allowance’s worth of Image books, and taped them all up in bags with the hopes, I guess, that they’d be worth something some day. “Aren’t you going to read them?” I asked. They just looked at me. “They don’t read their comics,” their mom said proudly. Ah, the 1990s.
If you’ve enjoyed Brandon Graham’s work so far on the revived Prophet for Extreme Studios but keep asking yourself when he might draw an issue in addition to writing it, wonder no more–Graham said that he will write and draw issue #26. He also shares the cover, above, along with some other fun but NSFW stuff on his blog.
Reviews for the Extreme Studios reboot title Glory have been hitting the internet for awhile–Caleb reviewed it here more than a month ago–and this week finally saw the book hit comic shops. Written by Joe Keatinge with art by Ross Campbell, Glory #23 has little to do with the previous 1990s Glory comic, and yet has everything to do with it, as Keatinge and Campbell’s approach wasn’t to toss everything out and start over, but to pick up with and add on the character’s previous origin and history … and then spin her off in a completely different direction.
On paper, this isn’t a comic that should work–although Keatinge has a lot of comics coming out this year, he’s still relatively new to the game, and Ross Campbell isn’t the first, or fifth, or even 100th artist I’d ever think of drawing a revival of a 1990s bad girl version of Wonder Woman. And yet the beauty is that it does work, as Keatinge and Campbell have created something really awesome here. But don’t take my word for it; check out what others have been saying about the return of Glory:
Edward Kaye, Newsarama: “Much of the issue is spent introducing readers to the character and recapping some of her past adventures. One thing that will be immediately noticeable to longtime Glory fans is that her origin tale has been tweaked a bit, so where in the original story she was born as the result of an alliance between the Amazonians and their demonic rivals, she is now the product of a union between two warring alien races. Other than that, her back-story matches that outlined in the original series, and even acknowledges the events that took place in Alan Moore’s very brief revival of the series.”
In a now-deleted interview on Newsarama, Brandon Graham made some unflattering remarks about current Catwoman writer Judd Winick, noting, “It’s okay. DC’s not calling me anyway.” Which is kind of a shame, because after seeing the direction Graham went with Prophet, it would be fun to see him get his hands on Kamandi, OMAC or the Fourth World characters at some point and go nuts.
In any event, Prophet #21 sees Graham and artist Simon Roy give the 1990s Rob Liefeld/Stephen Platt comic an Extreme makeover, and they absolutely go nuts and have a lot of fun reinventing the book. So what did folks think of it? Here’s a smattering of reviews from around the ‘net:
Mark “Bad Man” McCann, Bad Haven: “This book carries on the numbering (#21) and indeed the legacy of a character born of the 90′s Image artist’s boom era, but sensibility wise this is an entirely new creature, that is if anything grounded firmly in a sort of euro indie. While Graham cites John Buscema’s run on Conan as one of his prime influences for the tone of this futuristic tale, with a scope that’s truly broader than the first issue can fully encapsulate (but not by much) it also has a feel of the work of Jodorowsky and Moebius at their collaborative best.”
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Image Comics, the company formed by a group of artists who left the security of work-for-hire comics to create and own their own comics. It’s been 20 years of ups and downs, but one thing that has remained consistent is a focus on creator-owned work.
With 2011 in the history books and their big anniversary kicking off with the first Image Expo, a new ad campaign and high-profile series by big-name creators like Brian K. Vaughan, Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer and many more, I thought it was a good time to chat with Publisher Eric Stephenson about the state of the company, the year that was, their upcoming plans and anything else he was willing to talk about. My thanks to Eric for taking the time to answer my questions.
JK Parkin: Thanks for agreeing to do this interview, Eric. Incidentally, another feature we’re running as a part of our anniversary bash is one where we asked various comic industry folks about what they’re looking forward to in 2012. I got one back yesterday where the answer was basically “everything from Image Comics.” I find that interesting, because there’s a lot of diversity in Image’s line and although I think you guys probably publish something for every kind of taste, I wouldn’t think that every title would appeal to every comic reader. And yet I also find myself checking out at least the first issue of everything you guys have done lately. So from your perspective, what’s the unifying factor (or factors) right now among your titles, if there is one?
Stephenson: I think the main thing is that we’re moving forward and creating new things. We’re not content to just recycle the same old ideas month in and month out and then market it all as brand new. If this was another publisher, we’d be debuting our latest spin-off of The Walking Dead in March, but instead, we’re launching a new series by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, a new series by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra, a new series by Joe Keatinge and Andre Szymanowicz, and so on. For 20 years, Image has put its faith in creative people, and it’s the power of their imagination that links all our titles together, now more than ever.
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes and first issues so that I don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “ Mouse Guard is still awesome!” every month. And I’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.
Also, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell me what I missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
Explorer: The Mystery Boxes - With the Flight anthologies done, the all-ages version, Flight Explorer has morphed into this. I expect it to be as lovely as its predecessors and especially like the Mystery Box theme.
Jinx – J Torres and Rick Burchett’s graphic novel aimed at tween girls.
Kevin Keller, Volume 1 and Kevin Keller #1 – Archie collects the first appearances and mini-series of their major, gay character and also launches his ongoing series.
Flash Gordon: Vengeance of Ming – The third volume in Ardden’s Flash Gordon series.
One of the more interesting projects to pop up on Kickstarter lately is Rub the Blood, “an Art Comix tabloid that explores the lasting influence (for better or worse) of the Early 90’s Collector Boom comics of Rob Liefeld, Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, etc. on today’s most fringe underground cartoonists.”
Co-edited by Pat Aulisio and Ian Harker, the project fittingly draws its name from a 1990s cover gimmick and features contributions from a variety of art comix pros. In addition to Aulisio and Harker, contributors include Josh Bayer, William Cardini, Victor Cayro, PB Kain, Keenan Marshall Keller, Peter Lazarski, Benjamin Marra, Jim Rugg, Thomas Toye and Mickey Z. Rub the Blood will debut at the 2011 Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Fest.
Aulisio and Harker were kind enough to share a few thoughts and details about the project and its inspiration with me; my thanks for their time.
JK: Where did the idea originate to put this anthology together?
Ian: It’s been something we’ve kicked around in various shapes and forms for a few years now. The joke was that one day Rob Liefeld will be just as adored among the art comix crowd as Fletcher Hanks is now.
One of the big pieces of news that came out of the New York Comic-Con earlier this month was that the long-dormant Extreme line of titles are coming back to life at Image with a host of modern creators. Liefeld has brought back a number of his titles in the past few years on an individual basis, but this full-scale resuscitation is striking not just because they’re back, but because Liefeld and Image are bringing them back with modern creators whose styles are different from the kind of work most people would expect from the imprint. But there’s also something else out there — the back catalog of comics and scripts Liefeld has commissioned over the years, some of which have never been seen before.
A little history lesson: Extreme Studios was Liefeld’s imprint in the founding of Image Comics back in 1992, and the inaugural Image/Extreme title Youngblood #1 was a bestseller for the company. Liefeld went on to expand this Image imprint quickly with titles like Bloodstrike, Brigade and Supreme . Although the titles failed to stick to a monthly schedule, the sheer amount of new ideas coming out of Liefeld’s camp led Image to turn down some of them, so Liefeld began a separate side company called Maximum Press to harbor those. After Liefeld departed Image over a dispute with his co-founders, he merged his Image line (Extreme) with his non-Image company (Maximum) in what later became a completely independent entity, Awesome Entertainment.
Extreme, Maximum, Awesome. Get it? Good.
Image Comics has released a digital version of the Extreme Preview book that was available at the New York Comic Con last weekend, and thanks to the embed feature offered by Graphicly, you can read it right here. It can also be downloaded via ComiXology, Graphicly, iVerse and Diamond Digital.
The preview book offers a look at Brandon Graham and Simon Roy’s Prophet, Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell’s Glory; Alan Moore, Erik Larsen and Cory Hamscher’s Supreme; Tim Seeley and Francheco Gaston’s Bloodstrike; and John McLaughlin, Jon Malin and Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood. The first comic from the revived Extreme, Prophet #21, arrives Jan. 18.