Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
Every Wednesday evening for the past few months, I’d visit my local comic shop, scan the little piles of Secret Wars tie-ins stacked on the counter and flip through many of the more appealing-looking ones before ultimately setting them down, knowing I’ll get to them eventually, when they’re collected. Due to the price of almost all of Marvel’s comics, I’ve given up on reading them as they’re released, and instead wait to read them in trade.
Now I have read a handful of Secret Wars comics that I found at my friend’s apartment — the first issues of A-Force, The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, Secret Wars Journal, X-Men ’92 – so I understand the general premise of the tie-ins, if not what’s going on in the main book. The downside of reading trades instead of single issues is that you’re always one event series behind everyone else. (How about that Axis, huh?)
I mention my own buying habits here only because this week I encountered a Secret Wars tie-in that looked so good, and looked even better the more I flipped through it, that I simply couldn’t resist buying it, despite its fairly substantial $4.99 price: Secret Wars: Secret Love #1, a one-shot anthology featuring five romantic stories set in various corners of the “patchwork world” of Secret Wars. And the fact that I did break down and buy it is kind of a review in and of itself.
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It’s another week, which means a new batch of Marvel series launched as part of the publisher’s “All-New Marvel NOW!” initiative showed up at my local comics shop: Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore’s All-New Ghost Rider, Ales Kott and Garry Brown’s Iron Patriot, and Dan Slott and Mike Allred’s Silver Surfer.
I read two out of the three, as those were the most visually interesting, and seemed to be part of the initiative’s guiding principals: matching striking talents with lower-tier characters for idiosyncratic takes that veer away from the “typical” Marvel comic. Also, those were the two that featured characters who haven’t had a shot at their own book for a longer while. (Sorry, Iron Patriot, it’s not you, it’s me. I’m sure there are plenty of other critics willing to review you).
Legal | The creator of the Islamic superhero comic The 99 says he hasn’t been officially notified of a reported ban of the animated adaptation of his comic in Saudi Arabia. “Nobody ever contacted me, nobody ever asked me any questions,” Naif Al Mutawa says. There have been numerous Twitter campaigns against me for a while now and so for me it’s not new. Maybe it is true this time, but I find it very difficult to believe that a group as influential and high profile as them [Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta] wouldn’t recognize the good that The 99 has done for Muslims around the world.” He adds that the comic has been available in Saudi Arabia for seven years, while the cartoon has been airing for two and a half years, making the timing of a ban “a bit weird.” [Gulf Business]
To help promote its All-New Ghost Rider, which introduces a new Spirit of Vengeance with a new vehicle, Marvel is turning to some folks who know a little bit stylish rides: the editors of Lowrider Magazine.
As part of a new partnership, new Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider (and a scantily clad friend) will grace the cover of the magazine’s special April issue, “Marvelous Mayhem,” with an illustration by series writer Felipe Smith. Inside, readers will find an interview with Smith and Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, as well as artwork by Tradd Moore from All-New Ghost Rider #1.
While much of the comics industry is caught in that bubble between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso is busy tweeting sneak peeks at art from a handful of titles, including the debut issue of Moon Knight by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey.
Among the other offerings are pages from All-New Ghost Rider #2 by Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore, Winter Soldier: The Bitter March #1 by Rick Remender and Roland Boschi, and All-New Invaders #2 by James Robinson and Steve Pugh. Check them out below.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d spend the first $3.99 on the first issue of 47 Ronin, a retelling of a Japanese legend written by Mike Richardson and illustrated by Stan Sakai. I saw a preview of this and it looks phenomenal. Next up is my favorite soap opera, Life With Archie #24 ($3.99), in which Moose contemplates running for the Senate and The Archies reunite. This comic is consistently well written and the stories really drag me in. I’ll slap down another $3.99 for Popeye #7, because I’m a Roger Langridge fan. And because I love a bargain, I’ll finish up with Freelancers #1, a new series from BOOM! Studios that looks kinda fun — and hey, there’s a variant cover by Felipe Smith, one of my favorite manga artists.
If I had $30, I’d revert to my childhood and pick up the Doctor Who Annual ($12.99) from Penguin. When I was a kid, the British comics annuals were the high point of the holidays, and I’m pretty sure I have a vintage Doctor Who one tucked away somewhere. It’s probably aimed at kids but that just means I can share it with my nephew and nieces.
The splurge item to get this week is the new box set of Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. This is Miyazaki’s longest manga by far, and the story continues after the movie ends. It’s going to be the same large format as Viz’s earlier box set, but the seven volumes are being bound as two this time. It’s $60, but I noticed Amazon is offering a steep discount, so I’ll add another splurge: Nickolai Dante: Sympathy for the Devil ($29.99), a story that ran in 2000AD. I saw artist Simon Fraser describe it at NYCC this way: “Nikolai Dante is a swashbuckling hero from the far, far future, the year 2666, where he is alternately working for and against the czar, and for his own family and against his family, and in the meantime trying to get as drunk and screw as many women as he possibly can.” Sold!
Felipe Smith is unique in the manga world: He is an American manga artist working — and being published — in Japan. His three-volume series Peepo Choo was serialized in Kodansha’s Morning Two magazine and then was licensed by Vertical for English-language release. Smith was born in Akron, Ohio, raised in Argentina, attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and was living in Los Angeles when he drew his first graphic novel MBQ for Tokyopop, so he is truly a man of the world. He is between projects at the moment, but he implied that he has several pitches with different editors, and I’m quite sure we have not heard the last of him.
Smith was one of the invited guests at MangaNEXT, where I interviewed him in company with another journalist, although “interview” is an overstatement — it was more like taking dictation, with the occasional question thrown in as a prompt. So I’ll dispense with the questions, which were little more than starting points, and just let Felipe do the talking.
Japanese manga has been coming to American shores for decades, and as the children who read those grew up, they wanted to see where it all began. A number of American artists have made their way to Japan following the path of manga, from Paul Pope to recent successes like Takeshi Miyazawa and Felipe Smith. And while many Japanese manga fans have a very specific idea of who can do manga and who can’t, a Japanese museum is bringing that question to the forefront.
In the upcoming exhibit “Manga Style – North America,” the Kyoto International Manga Museum will display the works of three American manga-ka for a month beginning Jan. 5. Miyazawa and Smith will be joined by TOKYOPOP alum Svetlana Chmakova to show off their work — the first time North American art has ever been displayed at the museum.
Smith and Miyezawa are both full-time residents of Japan now, and will be part of a panel held at the museum with manga editor Eijiro Shimada to talk about manga and manga-style works on Jan. 14.
Creators | Dan Parent discusses an upcoming Archie storyline that will bring Valerie Brown from Josie and the Pussycats to Riverdale, causing sparks to once again fly: “The fans can expect the next step in what I think is the most romantic story in Archie history. The chemistry between Archie and Valerie was hot the first time they got together, and now you’ve really got to see it simmer, all the way from the rekindling of their romance to getting much more serious than we’ve seen before.” [USA Today]
Editorial cartoons | Cartoonist Jeff Stahler has resigned from The Columbus Dispatch following accusations that he lifted ideas from other cartoons, including one that ran in The New Yorker. [Poynter]
The manga publisher Vertical, Inc., is bringing Felipe Smith, the creator of Peepo Choo, to SDCC and Otakon this year. Smith, an American, started out drawing global manga (MBQ) for Tokyopop. He moved to Japan after
winning the top prize the Morning International Manga Competition, being offered the opportunity to draw a manga for Kodansha’s manga magazine Morning 2.* The result is Peepo Choo, the three-volume story of a foreigner’s adventures in Japan, and Vertical is closing the circle by publishing Peepo Choo in English—the first volume is due out this week. The press release (full text below the cut) notes in passing that Smith is developing a new manga for Kodansha, so the relationship must be working out.
As if that weren’t incentive enough to visit Vertical’s booth, they will also be announcing their new licenses at SDCC, although they don’t have a panel. I chat with Vertical’s marketing director Ed Chavez fairly often—I have known him since he was blogging at MangaCast—and I’m quite sure that whatever he has to announce, it will be remarkable. And for those who prefer the cute, they will have some adorable Chi’s Sweet Home swag, tying in with their new all-ages book about a lost cat adopted by a family in a pet-free apartment complex.