Retailing | The rental chain Tsutaya and the bookstore chain Yurindo have returned Kuroko’s Basketball books and DVDs to their shelves after “X-Day,” Nov. 4, passed without incident. Someone has sent hundreds of threatening letters to convention sites, bookstores, the media and Sophia University (the alma mater of Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki), over the past year, and the most recent batch of letters said that “X-Day will be on the final day of the [Sophia University] school festival.” Meanwhile, police are checking security cameras near all the mailboxes in the districts from which the letters were mailed, looking for suspicious people. [Anime News Network]
Comics | Brian Steinberg looks at Archie Comics’ most radical move yet: the relatively adult Afterlife with Archie, which literally turned America’s most iconic teenagers into zombies. Steinberg talks to Archie CEO Jon Goldwater, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, artist Francesco Francavilla and others about the significance of this comic, which sold almost 65,000 copies to the direct market. [Variety]
Afterlife with Archie started out for me with a couple of potential negatives: I’m not a fan of horror comics, and I firmly believe the zombie subgenre has played itself out. But if there’s one factor that could make me enjoy a zombie comic, it’s the art of Francesco Francavilla.
The ongoing series, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, marks a significant departure for Archie Comics, in large part because it’s the publisher’s first direct market-only release. One has to wonder how much this will benefit the publisher, whose audience is found primarily outside of specialty stores, and whether its potential success will lead to more direct market-only titles.
But enough about the business aspects of Life with Archie; let’s focus on what makes its debut issue such a must-read. As much as the Archie line has redefined itself in recent years (the marriage storyline/titles, the introduction of gay character Kevin Keller, etc.), the use of an artist like Francavilla represents another leap. I count him among my favorite current artists for much the same reason I rave about Gabriel Hardman; When reading a story by either creator, the experience is like having a film playing in my head.
“I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, although I certainly know what that is. And what I love about that concept is as much as it’s a zombie story, it’s also Pride and Prejudice. It’s the exact same thing with Afterlife: As much as this is a hardcore horror zombie book, it’s still an Archie book. Who is Archie going to take to the Halloween dance? Betty or Veronica? Why does the zombie apocalypse start? Because Sabrina the Teenaged Witch messed up a spell, which she is constantly doing in the comic book. Who but Reggie would be the guy who runs over Hot Dog? If anybody has a dark secret like ‘I killed Hot Dog!’ it’s going to be Reggie Mantle.”
– writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, talking with Vulture about Afterlife With Archie, which debuts today. Deadline also has the exclusive New York Comic Con trailer for the series, which is illustrated by Francesco Francavilla
Creators | Jeff Smith, who was named last week to the board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, talks briefly about the importance of the organization, and the 2010 challenge to his all-ages graphic novel Bone in a Minnesota school. [Comic Riffs]
Comics | Archie Co-CEO Jon Goldwater, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Francesco Francavilla have a few things to say about the new zombie series Afterlife With Archie. “We are taking a series of characters known to be lighthearted and young adult-oriented and doing a horror comic with them, so the mood, atmosphere, and setting are very important to make this a believable horror and not a comedy horror,” says Francavilla, who’s also the creator of The Black Beetle. “Fortunately, I am really good at making things dark and ominous.” [The Associated Press]
The glorious finale of Breaking Bad on Sunday also means an end to the beautiful posters Francesco Francavilla creates following the broadcast of each of the episodes (we’ve featured them a couple of times on ROBOT 6, most recently just last week). With his final entry, the artist includes a clever callback to his poster for the pilot, providing beautiful visual bookends.
While Francavilla may have completed his Breaking Bad series, he’s begun creating posters for each of the episodes of Fox’s new supernatural mystery Sleepy Hollow. OK, that show isn’t in the same league as Vince Gilligan’s grand creation, but Francavilla’s posters for it are something to see.
Mondo, the Alamo Drafthouse’s collectible art boutique, is celebrating EC Comics and Tales From the Crypt for Halloween with a gallery show featuring work by more than 30 artists honoring the television anthology and the horror titles on which it was based.
“I care about EC Comics very much. Even though I wasn’t around when it was originally published, the HBO Tales From the Crypt was an amazing intro into a demented world of darkly comedic horror stories and vivid artwork,” Mondo CEO Justin Ishmael said in a press release. “EC Comics’ editor Bill Gaines is one of my heroes and it’s so incredibly exciting to combine his creations with 30-something artists that are also fans of that era.”
The show, which will run from Oct. 25 through Nov. 23 at the Mondo Gallery in Austin, Texas, will original art and screen prints by the likes of Warwick Johnson Cadwell, Francesco Francavilla, Jeff Lemire, Chris Mooneyham, Ed Piskor, Jim Rugg and Eric Skillman. You can see more names on the postcard below.
A quick survey of social media sites reveals comics creators to be as obsessed with this last tranche of episodes of Breaking Bad as everyone else is. Numerous artists have been posting drawings of Walter White of late (such as Ben Templesmith, Matt Timson, Dan Berry and PJ Holden), but Francesco Francavilla has been going especially above and beyond, creating individual poster designs for each new episode shortly after it airs. He’s been posting them to his Tumblr, which seems to have superseded his previous blog, where you can see the similar project he set himself, to create posters for all of season seven of Doctor Who.
The new zombie Archie serie, Afterlife With Archie will debut Oct. 9, the day before NYCC kicks off, and the Archie folks are inviting everyone to celebrate by dressing up as a zombified version of their favorite character. Cosplay as zombie Jughead, Sabrina, even Katy Keene, and stop by the Archie Comics booth (#1936) during the convention for a copy of the comic with a special, cosplayer-exclusive cover by Robert Hack. You can also enter for a chance to win one of three grand prizes: a year’s worth of Archie comics.
Announced earlier this year, Afterlife With Archie will be penned by former Glee writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Francavilla.
While American Vampire is currently on hiatus, creators Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque have killed time until its return by releasing various specials. Earlier this summer we saw The Long Road to Hell, and this past Wednesday brought the American Vampire Anthology, featuring vampire tales by Becky Cloonan, Francesco Francavilla, Gail Simone, Greg Rucka, Jason Aaron, Gabriel Ba, Fabio Moon, Jeff Lemire, John Paul Leon, Declan Shalvey and many more.
Anthologies can be hit or miss from story to story, but how did this one do? Here are a few reviews from around the web:
Dark Horse has been making a concerted effort over the past year to develop its superhero line, with titles like Ghost, X and The Victories. On Wednesday, the lineup expands further with the launch of the Captain Midnight ongoing series, written by Joshua Williamson and illustrated by Fernando Dagnino.
I can’t help but be excited by the potential appeal for this new series, which throws the World War II scientist-hero into the present day — particularly after Williamson praised James Robinson’s Starman: ”It’s one of the few books that — it made me cry.” My cautious optimism for the series was cemented in the midst of my interview with the writer, when he said of the Dark Horse superhero approach: “There is a subtle way to handle the superhero universe, and that’s what Dark Horse is doing.”
Once you’ve read the interview, be sure to enjoy the preview the publisher offered for Captain Midnight #1, on sale Wednesday.
Tim O’Shea: You leap right into the action with Issue 0, in which Captain Midnight lands in the present day, after just having been in the midst of World War II. What does it say about the character that he wasn’t thrown by being flung into the future?
Joshua Williamson: We knew that we wanted to separate Captain Midnight from other time-lost characters and set up two aspects: 1) He was disappointed by the future; 2) He was not surprised by time travel. Midnight was a genius first and a superhero second.
Midnight is a very interesting character in that he is no-nonsense and has such a black-and-white outlook on the world — very matter-of-fact. We wanted to get that across to our readers quickly in the zero issue and found that was the best way to do it.
It’s rare that you see an artist do a continuous long run on a monthly comic series these days. Mark Bagley, Charlie Adlard and John Romita Jr. are among the relative few, and even their tenures are sometimes broken up by extra-sized issues or a biweekly shipping schedule. But joining those ranks of the most prodigious artists in comics is a fairly new face: Francesco Francavilla.
The Italian artist has been steadily working up through the ranks in the comic industry since his debut in 2006, but 2012 was his breakthrough year, as he won an Eisner Award for his covers, saw his creator-owned series Black Beetle start at Dark Horse and drew two arcs of Captain America and a fill-in issue of DC’s Swamp Thing. But in October, things are getting crazy, with Francavilla working simultaneously as the artist on three series — Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Archie’s Afterlife with Archie at Archie, and his own Black Beetle: Necrologue at Dark Horse.
This has already been a blockbuster year for Francavilla, with seven complete issues already released — Black Beetle #1-4, Batwoman #21, Hawkeye #10 and #12 — plus an astonishing 46 covers for various publishers. Forty-six!
In an interview earlier this year with ROBOT 6, he commented on his amazing flurry of work by dubbing it “Creative ADD,” and even admitting he sometimes forgets what he does due to the sheer volume.
“The other day I was flipping through Previews and I saw a cover I forgot I did!” The artist told Tim O’Shea. “Then I went to check if I forgot to invoice it too!”
James Brown ain’t got nothing on Francesco Francavilla.
The Hollywood Reporter has debuted the trailer for Afterlife With Archie, the upcoming Archie Comics series by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla. It will be screened Saturday at Comic-Con International during the “Archie Comics: The Hottest Publisher in the Industry” panel.
Launching Oct. 9, the comic begins with Jughead’s dog Hot Dog being run over by a car, leading him to convince Sabrina the Teenage Witch to resurrect the pooch. What comes back from the dead bites Jughead, infecting him with a virus — and on the night of the Riverdale Halloween dance, the zombie apocalypse begins.
“Tonally, I think we’re going for horror laced with an undercurrent of black comedy,” Aguirre-Sacasa told Comic Book Resources when the project was announced. “Like the first and second Evil Dead movies, or the original American Werewolf in London. The comedy will hopefully heighten the horror, and vice-versa.”
Legal | The Malaysian cartoonist Zunar has appealed a court decision upholding his 2010 arrest and detention, claiming police acted in bad faith when they arrested him under the Sedition Act because of his book Cartoon-O-Phobia, which had not yet been released at the time of his arrest. No charges were ever filed, as the police could not identify any actual seditious content in the books. A court ruled in July 2012 that Zunar’s arrest was lawful but ordered the police to return the books they had confiscated and pay him damages. An appellate court will hear the case next week. [The Comics Reporter]
Publishing | Heidi MacDonald takes a look at Marvel’s new graphic novel line, which will launch in October with Warren Ellis and Mike McKone’s Avengers: Endless Wartime. [Publishers Weekly]
I’ve found an addition to my imaginary shelf of Awesome Retro Comics Projects That Never Were, right next to a Nick Fury and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series set in the swingin’ ’60s of the Marvel Universe (they’re cataloged by decade): Batman 1972, by Francesco Francavilla.
Better known for his more pulpish work, Francavilla proves himself equally suited for capturing the feel of an early-’70s crime movie, with his take on a Dark Knight a smokes and wears a turtleneck and leather jacket, a James Gordon sporting a handlebar mustache and a Catwoman rocking a ‘fro.
“Yes, you are witnessing the first case of BATPLOITATION,” Francavilla writes. “Hope ya dig it.”
You can see The Riddler, as well as other takes on Batman and Catwoman, on his blog. I’m hoping we get a look at teenage Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon soon.
To see what James and the Robot 6 crew are reading, click below …