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This will not be a post about how Saga is awesome. I’ve written 30 of those already. No thrilling over Lying Cat here, no desperation for the next issue, none of my hopes to see The Will return to action or for [SPOILER] to [SPOILER] and [SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER].
Nor will I lose my cool over the fact that, right now, my bookshelf contains two excellent and weird and hilarious China Mieville (China Mieville!)-penned trades of Dial H, complete with blink-and-you’ll-miss-‘em anti-MPAA digs. Or that Neil Gaiman, in the – yikes — almost two decades since I picked up my first Sandman trade, has evolved from Sensational Comic Book Writer Neil Gaiman to MechaGaiman, Devourer of Worlds, Savior of Publishing and Champion of Art. Or that Genevieve Valentine is writing Catwoman!
I won’t flip out about The Wicked + The Divine or Chew or either Marvel, Ms. or Captain.
While many fans may be looking forward this weekend to Free Comic Book Day or The Amazing Spider-Man 2, some of those with more scholarly leanings may be busy getting ready for the Buffy to Batgirl conference being held Friday and Saturday at Rutgers University-Camden.
Organized by reference librarians Julie Still and Zara Wilkinson of the Paul Robeson Library, Buffy to Batgirl: Women and Gender in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Comics is an academic conference focusing on female representation across those genres (and mediums). I imagine a few eyes glazed over with the term “academic conference,” but the panels and papers sound fascinating.
Most of the time, high fantasy is set in a world based in historical Europe. There are some wonderful backdrops there — beautiful castles, scenic farmlands and thick forests; there’s also a big challenge to the setting, however: To retain the authenticity of its historical roots, most of the characters are typically depicted as Caucasian. You can perhaps create diversity by using standard Tolkien races (dwarves, elves, orcs and such), but usually the common, everyday people often look like the same kinds encountered in Arthurian legend or a Robin Hood story.
One of the most remarkable things about Ashley Cope’s Unsounded is how she twists the formula of the typical fantasy setting. Most of the characters, for example, seem to be of African descent. How do the people of Cresce look like when dressed in Renaissance-fair garb? Pretty darned cool, it turns out. Their hairstyles are a little modern, but that’s been a problem with a lot of high fantasy.
Their fifth issue will feature lampoons of Dungeons & Dragons, Game of Thrones and Lord of The Rings, with contributions from Tony Millionaire, Zach Weiner and Scott Gairdner, among others.
Check out the cover after the jump.
I’ve been meaning to check out Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin’s all-ages comic Princeless ever since reading an online review of it last month, and now it looks like my procrastination has paid off–Princeless: Save Yourself, the collection of the first volume, will include a new story featuring a Princeless/Skullkickers crossover by Skullkickers writer Jim Zubkavich and drawn by Goodwin.
You can see Goodwin’s sketches of the characters, from her Deviant Art site, above. The collection arrives in April.
McCaffrey’s first novel, Restoree, was published in 1967, and was followed by the first Dragonriders of Pern novel, Dragonflight, in 1968. Nearly 100 of her books were published in her lifetime, and she was the first woman to win a Hugo Award and a Nebula Award. Eclipse Comics published an adaptation of Dragonflight in 1991, and a film adaptation by Watchmen and X-Men screenwriter David Hayter was announced earlier this year.
“She was an incredible world-builder,” comics creator Derek Kirk Kim wrote on his blog. “I also remember being blown away when she used ‘fuck’ repeatedly in a fantasy novel. It was the first time I’d seen that when I was a kid, and taught me the importance of keeping true to a character no matter what the genre or its conventions.”
Author Neil Gaiman remembers meeting her both through her books and, later, in person. “I met her as a person in the late 80s, when I was a young writer, at a convention, where she was the Guest of Honour,” he wrote on his blog. “It was a small convention, and she decided that I needed to be taken under her wing and given advice I would need in later life, which she proceeded to do. It was all good advice: how to survive American signing tours was the bit that stuck the most (she wanted me to move to Ireland, and I came close). I liked her as a writer, and by the end of that convention I adored her as a person.”
As reported in What Are You Reading?, I am a huge, huge, huge fan of writer George R.R. Martin’s bold, bloody, brilliant epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. And I pretty much can’t wait for HBO’s adaptation of the series, Game of Thrones, which stars Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage, Mark Addy, and Lena Headey and hits televisions on April 17. Finally, of course, I like comics and cartooning. So here’s a two-great-tastes-that-taste-great-together situation if ever there was one: deviantARTist Gianluca Maconi’s A Song of Ice and Fire gallery, featuring drawings of many of the major characters. That’s the black-clad bastard son Jon Snow and his direwolf Ghost above; click the link for Maconi’s vivaciously drawn takes on the rest of the Stark family, the Lannister siblings, King Robert Baratheon, Danaerys Targaryen and more. (And if you’re curious about the books but aren’t convinced they’re worth your while, allow me to make the case.) Winter can’t come soon enough.
If you’re one of those people who know that there is such a thing as a tesseract, then you’re in for a treat: Above is cartoonist Hope Larson’s take on Meg Murry, one of the young heroes of Madeleine L’Engle’s beloved science-fiction classic A Wrinkle in Time. Larson’s adaptation of the book for Farrar, Strauss and Giroux is slated to debut in Fall 2012, clocking in at a whopping 392 pages. Visit Larson’s blog for more on the book and this piece, from the bruise on Meg’s face to the reason you won’t be seeing her in this outfit in the book itself.
CO2 Comics is a webcomics site that presents a mix of classic and new comics. Heaven and the Dead City, their newest addition, looks like a classic but is actually new work by emerging artist Raine Szramski. It’s a fantasy tale drawn in a nice, chunky, old-fashioned style; they only have two pages up so far, but you can see more of Szramski’s fantasy art here.
A roundup of remembrances, tributes and obituaries for legendary fantasy artist Frank Frazetta, who passed away Monday at age 82:
Timothy Bradstreet: “It’s very difficult to articulate how much Frazetta influenced me. That influence does not seem readily apparent in my work after all. Sure, I tried my hand at drawing just like Frazetta just like everyone else did. A lot of great artists have tried and have fallen short. Frazetta’s influence with me goes deeper — our hearts are connected, style and process are simply a means to an end. I read Frazetta’s own words speaking to what goes through his mind when he creates, and that confirms for me that we share a common connection. He may have painted with fire, but the coals are stoked somewhere much more deep down in the soul.”
Guillermo del Toro: “He gave the world a new pantheon of heroes. He took the mantle from J. Allen St. John and Joseph Clement Coll and added blood, sweat and sexual power to their legacy. … He somehow created a second narrative layer for every book he ever illustrated.”
Tom Richmond: “Frazetta’s fantasy illustrations were so charged with mood, savagery and movement they literally seethed and smoldered from the cover of these books. As beautifully rendered as the other cover illustrations of Boris Vallejo were, there was always something elemental and primal that put Frazetta’s work on a level all its own.”
Renowned fantasy and comic-book artist Frank Frazetta passed away today as the result of a stroke. He was 82.
Heidi MacDonald has confirmation from his agent Robert Pistella that Frazetta died in a hospital near his home in Boca Grande, Florida.
Born on February 9, 1928, in Brooklyn, Frazetta began illustrating comic books at age 16, later working on titles like Barnyard Comics, Thrilling Comics and Happy Comics for Standard Publishing Co. By the early 1950s, he was drawing the Shining Knight stories for DC’s Adventure Comics, New Heroic Comics for Eastern Color and Durango Kid for Magazine Enterprises. In 1953, he started working as an assistant for Al Capp on Li’l Abner.
Frazetta left Capp in 1961 and started illustrating for men’s magazines, eventually teaming with Harvey Kurtzman on the bawdy “Little Annie Fanny” strip that appeared in Playboy. It was during this period that Frazetta began painting movie posters, and covers for paperback editions of action-adventure and Warren magazines like Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella. Frazetta’s work from the mid-1960s to the early ’70s became the primary influence for science fiction and fantasy art for decades.
Frazetta’s work and legacy were at the center of a bitter family feud that seemed to erupt in July 2009 after the death of his wife Eleanor “Ellie” Frazetta, who had long run her husband’s business. The dispute played out in public, with criminal charges, a lawsuit and angry allegations. Luckily, though, the family seemed to resolve its differences just last month.
Frazetta is survived by four children: Alfonso Frank Frazetta (Frank Jr.), William Frazetta, Holly Frazetta and Heidi Grabin.
Welcome once again to Shelf Porn, our weekly look at one fan’s shelves. Would you like to show off your shelves? Drop me an email and let’s see what we can do.
Today’s edition of Shelf Porn comes from book reviewer Joshua Hill. While he has a small-but-growing comic shelf, he more than makes up for it with his collection of science fiction books. So let’s turn it over to Josh …
Great news for fantasy fans: Mercury cartoonist Hope Larson has announced on her Twitter account that she will be adapting Madeleine L’Engle’s classic SFF novel A Wrinkle in Time as a graphic novel.
It’s been a while since I read the book — “a while” meaning “not since elementary school” — but I recall the story of a group of children’s interstellar search for their missing scientist father via the use of folds in the spacetime-continuum called “tesseracts” as being dazzlingly smart, imaginative, and at times dark. I believe the planet Camazotz was the first dystopia I ever encountered in literature. (I always suspected IT was the inspiration for the landmark Orb song “A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld,” too.) The book racked up awards upon its 1962 release and launched L’Engle’s four-book “Time Quartet.”
For her part, Larson seems aware of the heady legacy she’s tinkering with. “According to my editor, Margaret Ferguson, L’Engle never wanted her books to be illustrated,” she tweeted. “I’m doing my best not to screw it up.”
HBO has ordered the pilot plus nine episodes of Game of Thrones, the highly anticipated television series based on George R.R. Martin’s bestselling A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy novels.
Production begins in June in Belfast, with the series set to debut on the cable network in spring 2011.
From the moment the rights to the novels were sold to HBO in January 2007, many doubted whether a sprawling fantasy could ever make it to television. As recently as Monday, Martin himself expressed doubts as to whether the network would greenlight the show.
“From the start of this, I’ve told myself, ‘Don’t get too emotionally invested in this, or you will be devastated if it doesn’t go’,” Martin wrote on his blog. “Wise words, those. I’m a smart guy. But easier said than done. I’ve failed. I am totally emotionally invested, and if HBO does indeed decide to pass, for whatever reason, I will be gutted.”
Debuting in 1996, A Song of Ice and Fire is set in mythical, medieval Westeros, a continent torn between a dynastic civil war, a threat of invasion from the north and the impending return of the rightful heir to the throne. Four of the planned seven books have been released. The Hedge Knight and The Sworn Sword, two of three novellas set in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, were adapted as comics by Dabel Brothers Productions.
The HBO series takes its name from the first novel, A Game of Thrones. The cast includes Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey.
Publishing | Italian movie producer Domenico Procacci has purchased Bologna-based graphic novel publisher Coconino Press, adding it to his Fandango filmmaking and book-publishing company. In addition to its own titles, Coconino publishes the Italian editions of works by such artists as Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, and Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi. [Variety]
Publishing | Young-adult novelist Melissa de la Cruz has signed new contracts with Hyperion, the Disney Book Group imprint that publishes her bestselling Blue Bloods series. The deal calls for three companion books to the teen-vampire drama, including Blue Bloods: The Graphic Novel. [Variety]
Publishing | IDW Publishing will adapt Peter Beagle’s bestselling 1968 fantasy novel The Last Unicorn as a six-issue miniseries. The comic, by writer Peter B. Gillis, artist Renae De Liz and colorist Ray Dillon, will debut in April. [ICv2.com]
Publishing | Simon Jones offers commentary about declining manga sales in Japan: “Some blame was again placed at the industry’s increasing focus on niche genres (just as comics is a spandex ghetto, manga is facing a crisis of the moe slum), but I think this is being overstated as a cause, when it’s really a symptom that is self-feeding. Manga sales have gone down … it could be lower birth rates, or competition from other media, or internet piracy (come on guys, we don’t need to couch this in flowery language), or any combination of those. But it all comes down to fewer companies being able to produce mainstream products, because a growing segment of mainstream audiences are no longer willing to pay for them despite increasing demand.” [Icarus Publishing]