INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
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 …
Frequent readers of ROBOT 6 know I’m a big supporter of Francesco Francavilla, and particularly his Black Beetle character. Wednesday marks the release of The Black Beetle: No Way Out #3, the penultimate issue in the first of a series of miniseries for Dark Horse. As much as I was eager to learn about the pulp-fueled noir comic, I was equally keen to chat with Francavilla about his approach toward layout and storytelling in general.
As part of the interview, Francavilla shared some preview pages for the latest issue.
Tim O’Shea: Comparing the early adventures of the Black Beetle, as shown in Night Shift versus No Way Out issues 1 and 2, how liberating did it feel to be increasingly ambitious with your layouts on the pages?
Francesco Francavilla: Very liberating. One of the tricky parts of doing Night Shift was to have three small installments (chapters) of eight pages. I wanted each single chapter to be meaty enough to be entertaining on its own, but I also wanted each chapter to end with a cliffhanger. Going from that to a full 22 pages a month with No Way Out, I have much more room now to have fun with different layouts and give extra room for some big reveal sequences.
Halo 8 Entertainment has released a trailer for Ghostface Killah’s Twelve Reasons to Die, the upcoming comic series from the rapper and his fellow Wu-Tang Clan member RZA, who’s serving as producer.
Debuting May 29 from Black Mask Studios, following the release of the album by the same name, Twelve Reasons to Die blends horror and crime for “a brutal tale of gangsters, betrayal and one vengeful soul hunting the 12 most powerful crimelords in the world.”
What’s impressive, though, is the lineup of cover and interior artists: Tim Seeley (Revival, Hack/Slash), Paolo Rivera (Daredevil), Francesco Francavilla (Black Beetle, Detective Comics), Ramon Perez (Tale of Sand), Ben Templesmith (30 Days Of Night), Riley Rossmo (Bedlam), Garry Brown (The Massive), Jim Mahfood (Tank Girl), Kyle Strahm (Haunt), Toby Cypress (Blue Estate), Tyler Crook (B.P.R.D.), Joe Infurnari (Mush!), Breno Tamura (Pigs), Nate Powell (Swallow Me Whole), Gus Storms (Space Creep), Chris Mitten (30 Days of Night) and Ron Wimberly (Prince of Cats).
Twelve Reasons to Die was co-created by Ghostface Killer and Adrian Younge, and written by Matthew Rosenberg and Patrick Kindlon.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at all the comics and other stuff we’ve been reading lately. Our special guests today are Brendan Tobin and Pedro Delgado, who run the March MODOK Madness site. And with this being March, the madness is in full swing, so head over there to check out a lot of fun art featuring everyone’s favorite big-headed villain.
To see what Brendan, Pedro and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew talks about the death of … oh, wait, we already did that. In fact, nobody brought up [REDACTED] in their write-up this week. But they did talk about a bunch of other comics.
Our guest this week is cartoonist and teacher Ben Towle, creator of Oyster War, Midnight Sun, Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean and much more. Check out his website for all kinds of fun art and pin-ups (Alien Legion!).
To see what Ben and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click 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 buy the leading contender for best ongoing series this year, Saga #10 (Image, $2.99). I loved the last issue focusing on the Will, but I’m excited at the prospect this one teases of Izabel returning – although in a red-tinged, seemingly evil demeanor. After that I’d get another creator-owned gem with Francesco Francavilla’s The Black Beetle #2 (Dark Horse, $3.99). I love the latitude Dark Horse is giving Francavilla in the design packaging here – that cover is something special — and luckily, the insides have the promise of being even better given what happened last issue. Third and last in my $15 haul this week would be Dark Horse Presents #21 (Dark Horse, $7.99). Criminally underrated and consciously mind-blowing, this issue promises three new serials debuting plus a collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Paul Chadwick about alien saucers. Why isn’t this a top-selling book?
If I had $30, I’d make it a Dark Horse trifecta with Conan the Barbarian #13 (Dark Horse, $3.50). How does Brian Wood do it, finding such great artists that no one else knows about like Mirko Colak? This time, Conan tries to conquer the desert. Then I’d do a Marvel trifecta: Avengers #6 (Marvel, $3.99), Nova #1 (Marvel, $3.99) and Thor: God of Thunder #5 (Marvel, $3.99). Avengers has seemingly the origin of my formerly most favorite D-list hero in the Marvel Universe, Captain Universe – until she upgraded to the A-list as an Avenger. Then Nova has a spirited, seemingly kid-friendly romp by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness. Then Thor … Thor. This thoroughly dark and mythic story has made Jason Aaron’s beard even more ominous than before.
If I could splurge, I’d get Alter-Ego #115 (TwoMorrows, $8.95). Normally a magazine about comics, in this issue they collect some lost gems – namely the stereoscopic comics (3-D!) – of the 1950s. 3-D glasses included, this issue contains work by Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, Joe Kubert, Curt Swan (!!), George Tuska and more. Truly a highlight of the week.
We’re all fans of the Texan design maestros Mondo here at Robot 6 (as you can tell by clicking here), and they’re fans of comic art — discerning ones, as their choice in collaborators clearly shows. The latest comic artist to produce a print for them is Francesco Francavilla (Captain America and Bucky, The Black Beetle), whose Friday the 13th print will be released today at a random time and available from their shop. Best of luck getting one.
Welcome to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew shares their picks for who we think should play a young Han Solo. Of course, we unanimously chose Nathan Fillion, so instead we’ll talk about what comics we’ve been reading. Joining us today is special guest Tim Lattie, the creator of Night Stars. Tim is currently running a Kickstarter to raise funds to publish it, so head over there and check it out.
To see what Tim and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew shares their picks for the Royal Rumble … I mean, talks about what comics we’ve read recently. Today our special guest is Landry Walker, writer of Danger Club, Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Little Gloomy, Tron and more.
To smell what Landry and the Robot 6 crew are cookin’, click below.
To see what Josh and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.