EXCLUSIVE: Warren Ellis Brings "Genius Storytelling" to Dynamite's "James Bond 007"
Moleskine has arrived in Gotham City with a collection of limited-edition Batman notebooks, debuting today.
Produced in collaboration with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, the series features four notebooks with cover art by John Cassaday, Mike Mignola and Jim Lee. A fifth with art by Frank Miller from The Dark Knight Returns on its cover and flyleaves will be available in a numbered run of 5,000 exclusively from Moleskine’s website and stores. All of the notebooks come with limited-edition Batman stickers.
“It was like trying to stop a force of nature. He was a sponge. The last time he came, he’d gotten a six-page assignment, and I went over what he’d done wrong, how he could make it better. He said, ‘You’re saying I have to draw it over again.’ I said, ‘Well, yeah.’ He said, ‘OK, but the problem is, I turned it in, and they accepted it.’ I said, ‘In that case, don’t draw it over again; I think you just started your career.’”
— Neal Adams, discussing a young Frank Miller, who repeatedly stopped by his New York City studio for critiques. It’s from Sean Howe’s Wired profile of Miller, probably the best of a handful published ahead of the premiere of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.
It’s certainly the most unflinching, touching upon the effect of 9/11 on the artist and his work — “I think many people didn’t get over it, that it will continue to affect their lives forever,” Lynn Varley, his longtime colorist and former wife, says. “And I think Frank is one of those people.” — the failure of The Spirit, the response to Holy Terror, the disappearance of All Star Batman & Robin, his tirade against the Occupy movement, and speculation about his health.
“The Dark Knight series is all from Batman’s point of view. But if you look at Dark Knight 2, you’ll see a Superman who’s much calmer than the one in the first Dark Knight. Batman and Superman are dead opposites. I love Superman. Do I love Batman more? They’re not people. They’re only lines on paper.”
Crime | The comics community of Kirkcaldy, Scotland, just north of Edinburgh, has rallied around a local comics shop after thieves broke in two weeks ago and stole cash, a computer, a two-and-a-half-foot-tall Darth Vader figure and a copy of New Mutants #98 (the first appearance of Deadpool), with a total value of more than £500 (about $835 U.S.). It could have been worse: The thieves left some comics boxed up, ready to go, but apparently they were interrupted. But you won’t believe what happened next: Kingdom Comics owner Andrew Magee says customers donated their own comics and DVDs to help rebuild his stock, and a number of local artists have donated art to be auctioned off to help the store. [The Courier]
Creators | Bryan Lee O’Malley discusses his new graphic novel Seconds, and how it reflects where he is in his life. [BoingBoing]
DC Entertainment and Warner Bros.’ year-long celebration of Batman’s 75th anniversary will continue in a big way later this month at Comic-Con International in San Diego, with several of the creators most associated with the character set to appear on the “Batman 75: Legends of the Dark Knight” panel on Thursday, July 24.
Notably, The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One‘s Frank Miller — in a relatively rare appearance at a comics-centric panel — will join fellow Bat-luminaries Grant Morrison, Jim Lee, Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, current Batman team Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, and DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns.
On Saturday, DC will commemorate the Caped Crusader’s storied history in other media, with Batman: The Animated Series vet Paul Dini, longtime Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy, Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet co-writer Ralph Garman and more.
The two panels are something of a bisected version of the treatment DC gave Superman last summer, with a Superman 75th Anniversary panel including folks from both the worlds of comics (Morrison, Dan Jurgen) and movies/television (Henry Cavill, Tim Daly).
Creators | Stan Lee arrived at Sydney Airport for the Supanova Pop Culture Expo and was immediately presented with a “Captain Australia” shield, colored gold and green rather than red and blue. The Supanova Pop Culture Expo kicked off today, and continues through Sunday. [The Daily Telegraph]
Comics | Hussain Al-Shiblawi says he doesn’t usually mind the pamphlets he regularly receives from the local Bible Baptist Church in Roanoke, Virginia; even though he’s Muslim, he finds them inspirational. But he takes strong exception to the latest one, a Jack Chick tract titled Unforgiven, which claims that all Muslims are going to hell. The pastor, who declined to go on camera, says his church doesn’t create the pamphlets, it just distributes them, but he’s willing to meet with Al-Shiblawi to discuss the comic. [WDBJ News]
Considering that the July solicitations also previewed September’s Futures End tie-ins, and the final issue of Forever Evil arrives this week after being scheduled originally for March, the August listings feel like just one more ingredient in a jumbled publishing stew. When it’s all done, maybe we’ll see that it’s all worked together. Now, though, we might have to wait until the October solicits for a clearer picture of where DC’s superhero line is going.
In the wake of the New 52’s various revisions, the Grant Morrison-written The Multiversity miniseries seems like an artifact — if not a relic — from the pre-relaunch days. Like the Morrison-written Batman Incorporated, it was originally conceived in that environment, when legacy characters abounded and beloved Silver Age elements were reemerging. Of course, with Earth 2, Worlds’ Finest, Forever Evil and Futures End, parallel worlds have hardly been absent from the New 52; so perhaps The Multiversity is meant to expand that storytelling device even further. I get the feeling that many things are about to change (again) for DC’s shared superhero line, and if some Morrison-infused characters are going to be part of that, I hope they stick around for a while.
Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to something great fans are doing to an awesome comic that came out. So let’s get to it…
Even if Frank Miller and Jim Lee never finish All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder — and, let’s face it, they’re never going to — they can take satisfaction in introducing a grateful world to “I’m the goddamn Batman,” a phrase that launched a thousand memes and ended at least as many comic-book arguments. (“How could Batman survive a fall from that height?” “He’s the goddamn Batman, that’s how.”)
And now it’s been immortalized on an Arizona license plate as “GDBTMN,” registered by Phoenix resident, and Batman fan, Art Landis (seen below). “I decided to finally personalize my plates, as celebration of Batman’s 75th,” he tweeted over the weekend. “I honestly didn’t think the MVD would let it happen.”
Now Landis just has to come up with something for next year, the 10th anniversary of the release of All Star Batman & Robin #1.
Frank Cho hates Superman. Don’t take my word for it; just ask him. But after years of friendly queries by an art-collector friend, Cho bit the bullet and took on a rare commission of Superman — but only if he could do it his way.
“One day the impossible happened, I was bored and I had some free time and Hawaiian Dave gave me a big wad of cash. On top of that, he told me that I can draw whatever I desire as long as Batman and Superman is in it …,” Cho explains on his blog. “Since I hated Superman so much, the only logical conclusion was to do the scene in the Frank Miller’s masterpiece The Dark Knight Returns, where the old Batman comes out of retirement and beat the shit out of Superman. And off I went.”
Not that I’d forgotten, but CSBG’s new 75 Greatest Batman Covers poll was just the latest reminder that this is Batman’s 75th anniversary year. According to Mike’s Amazing World of DC Comics, Detective Comics (Vol. 1) #27 hit newsstands on or about April 18, 1939, which means the celebrations don’t have to start right away.
Still, so far Batman’s 75th seems to be a rather low-key affair, at least as compared to Superman’s 75th last year. That anniversary included a special logo, a new movie, a few new ongoing series, a couple of celebratory collections (including one for Lois Lane, who shares the anniversary) and an animated tribute. Batman’s already gotten a giant-sized Detective (Vol. 2) #27, and the final Arkham Asylum video game is coming out. Additionally, before 2014 ends, we’ll probably see Ben Affleck in the new Batsuit, plus whatever Batman Eternal has in store. Beyond that, however, it seems like business as usual for the Dark Knight.
Fortunately, business has been pretty good for a while now, such that slapping an anniversary tag on the various Bat-offerings almost seems superfluous. By this point Batman practically is eternal — but what does that really mean?
“I know there’s a certain appeal for creators to work on the classic characters like Batman, Superman and Spider-Man, but I’ve said this before: I asked creators who have worked on those books who the people were doing the books ten years ago, and they don’t know! But I can say, ‘Who worked on Sin City?’ and they’ll go ‘Frank Miller.’ Who worked on Hellboy? Mike Mignola. Who worked on The Goon? Eric Powell. They know it instantly. So to me, the lure of creating your own character and owning it — owning your own universe and being associated with that — in the long run for talented writers and artists makes me question why someone would toil away on a company owned character for years and years of their lives.”
– Dark Horse founder Mike Richardson, discussing his company’s commitment to publishing creator-owned work
“I do admit that I am surprised that the series has such a high profile still but, make no mistake, I’m very happy to be a part of it. I can’t speak for Frank [Miller], but neither I nor anyone else in the DC office realized the impact of the books at that time. It would have been crazy to predict way back then. It’s not unheard of to have a particular project garner a lot of attention in the moment, but it is unusual for a project to cast such a long shadow, to hold up so many years later. Dark Knight Returns was a hurricane. It was a force of nature that swept everyone up in its path, and I learned a lot from that experience. I’d love to work with Frank at least once more, whether it’s for the 30th anniversary or something else, so this is my way of starting to put the offer out there. Let’s go, Frank — it would be great fun!”
While DC Comics sacrificed some bragging rights in 2011 when it rebooted its superhero line, even the never-before-renumbered Action Comics and Detective Comics, one consequence of relaunching TEC was that it was only a matter of time — 26 months, to be exact — before the company got around to publishing a new Detective Comics #27. And that the second Detective Comics #27 would see release during the 75th year of Batman’s career, well, all the better.
The first Detective Comics #27, published in 1939, was, of course, the first appearance of Batman. The anthology’s cover was surrendered to an arresting image of a spooky man in tights, wearing a bat-mask and sporting huge bat-like wings, scooping up a gangster in a headlock while swinging in front of the yellow field above a city skyline. “Starting this issue,” the cover trumpted, “The Amazing and Unique Adventures of The Batman.” Inside, Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s pulp- and film-inspired detective hero cracked the “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate,” and the amazing and unique adventures begun therein have yet to cease.
DC has honored that milestone in various ways over the years, with notable celebrations including Michael Uslan and Peter Snejbjerg’s 2003 Elseworlds one-shot Batman: Detective No. 27, and 1991’s Detective Comics #627, in which the Alan Grant/Norm Breyfogle and Marv Wolfman/Jim Aparo creative teams did their own takes on “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate,” and both the original story and a 30th-anniversary version by Mike Friedrich and Bob Brown were reprinted.
This week brings Detective Comics (Vol. 2) #27, and another opportunity to celebrate that original issue, and Batman’s 75th anniversary, which DC does in a 90-page, prestige-format special issue — essentially a trade paperback with some ads in it — featuring contributions from the writers of all four of the main Batman books of the moment and about as strong a list of contributing artists as a reader could hope for.
Ahead of the August premiere of Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s movie sequel Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Dark Horse has announced it will debut a massive omnibus hardcover collecting the artist’s entire landmark crime saga.
In addition, the publisher will bring Frank Miller: The Art of Sin City back into print in trade paperback format, and re-release the hardcover edition 1993’s A Dame to Kill For. All three are scheduled to arrive on June 25.
Frank Miller’s Big Damn Sin City brings together Miller and Lynn Varley’s seven hardboiled tales — The Hard Goodbye, A Dame to Kill For, The Big Fat Kill, The Yellow Bastard, Family Values, Booze, Broads & Bullets and Hell and Back — in one 1,344-page volume that Dark Horse contends is “suitable for home defense.”
The omnibus will be accompanied by the softcover edition of the long-out-of-print Frank Miller: The Art of Sin City, featuring an introduction by critic R.C. Harvey, and the 212-page A Dame to Kill For, in hardcover for the first time in years. See the covers and solicitation text for all three books below.
UPDATE (Jan. 3): Dark Horse has notified us that Frank Miller’s Big Damn Sin City will retail for $100. The price originally listed was incorrect.