Axel-In-Charge: Bringing "Dead No More" to FCBD, the Original "Civil War's" Legacy
After years of working on anthologies and as a concept artist, Nicholas Kole is looking to make a name for himself … with jelly.
The Rhode Island artist recently launched Jellybots, a webcomic about a boy named Sam who’s enrolled by his family in a prestigious school called the Frontier Academy. Not much else is known about the series, given that it’s just six pages into its run, but the concept material and pin-up art show Sam interacting with supernatural, whimsical and fluid jellyfish.
Svetlana Chmakova has sent demons to school, been on the run with witches and wizards, and braved the world of comics as a fan-turned-professional. If you asked her, she might argue the last one was the toughest of all.
The Russian-Canadian cartoonist made a name for herself as part of a wave of artists working on TOKYOPOP’s OEL Manga line. 2005’s Dramacon and the two follow-up volumes showed Chmakova delving into the world of comics and manga with a story inspired by attending comic conventions and interacting with cosplayers. Chmakova went on to be one of the star players hired for Hachette’s graphic novel imprint Yen Press, first creating her own series Nightschool and then adapting hit novelist James Patterson’s Witch & Wizard series. Chmakova’s work has been prodigious, with 10 graphic novels released in just over nine years, and now here in 2014 she’s beginning a new chapter with a new creator-owned series with Yen, webcomics and a line of video podcasts on drawing. ROBOT 6 caught up with Chmakova to find out about what’s on her plate, as well as what’s on her mind and in her future.
Kazu Kibuishi has found success in comics by charting his own path, one that took him from creating the Eisner-winning Copper to editing the acclaimed Flight anthologies to finding a home for his Amulet graphic novels at mainstream publisher Scholastic.
His work led him to be selected to create covers for the 15th anniversary re-release if J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter books. Kibuishi approached this prized assignment with reverence and deep knowledge for what Rowling and original illustrator Mary GrandPré did before, but infused the artwork with his own style to make the new editions stand out. And he took what he learned from that project back to his own books.
The beautiful and fantastical Flight anthologies put together by Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet) and his friends may be no more, but their spirit lives on in Explorer. The first volume, Flight: Explorer, was Kibuishi’s stab at assembling an anthology for kids using many of the same artists who’d worked on Flight. He followed that up by dropping the Flight label and putting together Explorer: The Mystery Boxes, but if a third volume was ever announced, I missed it.
That third volume is coming soon, though. Amazon is taking pre-orders for Explorer: The Lost Islands, a hardcover to be released Oct. 8. Again edited by Kibuishi, this volume features stories around the theme of “hidden places.” Contributors include Kibuishi, Jason Caffoe (Flight), Raina Telgemeier (Drama, Smile), Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy), Jake Parker (Missile Mouse), Michel Gagné (The Saga of Rex), Katie and Steven Shanahan (Flight, Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales), and new artist Chrystin Garland.
Creators | Writer Peter David shares a “Fan/Pro Bill of Rights” related to proper behavior at conventions, starting with a “Prime Directive”: “Fans and Pros have the right to be treated by each other with the same courtesy that they themselves would expect to be treated. Fans and Pros who act like jerks abrogate the right to complain when they themselves are treated like jerks.” [Peter David]
Crime | A Denver judge sentenced Aaron Castro to 45 years in prison after Castro pleaded guilty to drug and extortion charges. Prosecutors say he ran a major methamphetamine distribution ring and laundered the profits by buying and selling valuable comics in the collector’s market. [KMGH Denver]
Digital | Robot 6 contributor Graeme McMillan catches an error in Marvel’s press release from last week: Marvel was not the first comics publisher to release an entire line of comics simultaneously in print and digital—Archie Comics was. [Blog@Newsarama]
CBR’s Alex Dueben interviewed Flight editor Kazu Kibuishi about the release of the eighth and final volume in the much-acclaimed anthology series this week, and Kibuishi talked a bit about why he and his editor decided to bring it to an end:
While “Flight” continues to be very successful for an anthology, it doesn’t sell enough copies to be considered a hit in the mainstream book publishing world, and our sales numbers were not rising. My goal with the project was to reach new readers and bring them into comics, but I was seeing that we weren’t doing a good enough job of it. I think much of the blame can be placed on the size and price of the books. It’s just a bit much to ask someone who has never read the other “Flight” books to spend $27 on a paperback. So I realized that the time spent on the series could be better spent helping the artists begin working on their own books. We’ll revisit the project again, but it will probably show up in a different form.
As comics shift more and more into a graphic novel model, Kibuishi’s words are worth thinking about. Book publishers and comics publishers have different ways of doing things, and apparently the Flight books, as great as they are, didn’t fit neatly into either category. On the other hand, they launched a lot of artists who did go on to make successful graphic novels.
And there’s a bit of good news in the article: Flight 8 is the last volume of the numbered series, but Kibuishi is also working with editor Sheila Keenan on one more volume of the all-ages Flight Explorer anthology, and he will be applying the lessons learned to this new book.
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. We’re coming a little late today due to a power outage in my neck of the woods — due to a blackout, not because I spent the money for the electric bill on Flashpoint or Fear Itself tie-ins.
If I had $15, my first pick off the shelf would be Vengeance #1 (Marvel, $3.99); I love Joe Casey, and especially when he’s given a long leash and room to play in a big universe. Seeing Nick Dragotta drawing this is an added bonus. Next up would be comics’ dueling summer blockbusters, Flashpoint #3 (DC, $3.99) and Fear Itself #4 (Marvel, $3.99). After that, I’d get the excellent Flashpoint: Batman, Knight of Vengeance #2 (DC, $2.99); when Azzarello is on the ball he’s great to read, and this seems to be that.
Since a Xeric Foundation grant back in 2002 first allowed him to self-publish, comics creator Sonny Liew has created a series of stories starring Atari and Oliver, two street urchins who steal bicycles, watch giant robot movies and get into trouble in a futuristic city filled with robots. The stories have appeared in various comics and anthologies over the years, and this August Image Comics will collect them into one volume titled Malinky Robot.
Liew, whose body of work includes the Vertigo series My Faith in Frankie and Minx book Re-Gifters with writer Mike Carey, Marvel’s Sense and Sensibility adaptation with writer Nancy Butler, and SLG’s Wonderland with writer Tommy Kovac, shared some details on the new collection with me via the magic of email. Based in Singapore, Liew is also working on a few new projects, as he shares below.
JK: What stories are included in the new collection and where did they originally appear?
Sonny: The collection begins with “Stinky Fish Blues,” which was first conceived in David Mazzucchelli’s Graphic Storytelling class at the Rhode Island School of Design. Xeroxed copies of the story ended up in a couple of comic stores in the Boston area, before a Xeric grant allowed to me to try my hand at self-publishing. Later on a colored version appeared in Liquid City vol 1. “Bicycle” was originally released as a one-shot from SLG Comics, and the other stories, “Dead Soul’s Day Out,” “New Year’s Day” and “Karakuri” appeared in various editions of the Flight anthologies edited by Kazu Kibuishi.
Villard has posted a preview of Flight, Vol. 7, the penultimate edition of the six-year-old anthology series. (Or is it now the final one?) The book, which features contributions by such artists as Michel Gagné, Kostas Kiriakakis, Dave Roman and Paul Harmon, arrives in stores in mid-July.
“I think it’s a very strong volume,” writes Editor Kazu Kibuishi, “with some of the most beautiful artwork we’ve ever had in the pages of Flight.
Kibuishi announced in February that the eighth volume would be the anthology’s last. He will continue to produce Flight Explorer, renamed simply Explorer, the children’s spin-off that debuted in 2008.
The critically acclaimed Flight anthology will end in “the next couple of years” with Volume 8, Editor Kazu Kibuishi announced. He will, however, continue to produce Flight Explorer — now called simply Explorer — the children’s spin-off that launched in 2008.
“We had a pretty good run [with Flight],” Kibuishi writes on his blog, “but it is now time for us to focus on producing full graphic novels. When I started the project, many of us on the book were kids coming out of college with little experience as professional working artists. Years later, the majority of the artists on the project have gone on to create graphic novels of their own, or are now working at major animation, film, and game studios. The original book was created to serve a need. That need was to get our core group published, to have our work be seen, and to get enough practice under our belts to be able to do books of our own. After 7 years, I feel the original needs were met, and the artists are more than ready to go the distance on their own.”
Flight debuted in 2004 at Image Comics before moving with its third volume in 2006 to Villard, an imprint of Random House. The sixth volume was published in July 2009; a seventh is in production. Contributors have included Kibuishi, Graham Annable, Becky Cloonan, Michel Gagné, Hope Larson, Sonny Liew, Dylan Meconis, Erika Moen, Fábio Moon, Ryan North, Dave Roman, Jeff Smith, Kean Soo, Doug TenNapel and dozens of others.
Although the first volume of Explorer sold through its 20,000-copy first printing, Kibuishi revealed in November the series had been “orphaned” by Villard. However, as he told Comic Book Resources earlier this week, he’s now working out a deal with Abrams to publish the anthology.
“Its purpose, to introduce kids to comics and reading through bite-sized stories, remains unfulfilled,” Kibuishi writes on his blog, “and a book like this is truly essential, especially now that there are so few places kids can find new comics. With the demise of Disney Adventures and now Nickelodeon Magazine, parents and kids are going to have a difficult time finding premium comics content that is entirely age-appropriate. We hope we can fill that need.”