At least a couple of times over the course of the weekend, Bill Willingham talked about his goal for the Fabletown and Beyond convention he hosted in Rochester, Minnesota. He may not have actually used the term “bucket list,” but that’s essentially what the show seems to have been for him: an opportunity to throw the kind of comics convention he wanted to attend and to see if other creators and fans would enjoy it just as much. From the standing ovation he received at Sunday’s closing ceremony, it appears he was right.
Chris Roberson pointed out to me that Fabletown and Beyond was a lot like fantasy and sci-fi literary conventions. It had that feel from the opening ceremony (an idea Willingham freely admits to stealing from fantasy/sci-fi shows) to the final farewell. It was completely focused on comics and storytelling, and it was a uniquely intimate experience. The show was only designed to accommodate a maximum of 500 attendees, and it got 505. That meant I kept seeing the same faces over and over again all weekend — creators and fans alike — so that by the third day, even people I never talked to were familiar. Instead of a hectic event where people rushed from place to place trying to see and do everything they wanted to, it was a relaxed environment that felt more like just hanging out with friends. Really smart, interesting friends.
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Letterer and designer Todd Klein has been making his way through the alphabet for the last few years in a series of art prints that he sells on his site. Each print finds him teaming with a different writer or artist, including Steve Rude, Shawn McManus and Dave Gibbons, just to name a few.
His 10th print, which can be found below, is sponsored by the letter “J.” It finds Klein and artist Gene Ha taking a joyride into Greek mythology and the story of the Pegasus.
“Famed artist Gene Ha has illustrated a key moment from the story of Bellerophon, a hero of Greek myth, who has captured the winged horse Pegasus and returned to his lady love, Princess Philona of Lycia to give her the ride of her life,” Klein said in a press release. It’s based on a short story written by Klein, inspired by the retelling of the Pegasus myth by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our special guest this week is Beth Scorzato, managing editor of the excellent comics news and commentary site Spandexless.
To see what Beth and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
DC Comics kicked off their New 52 reboot last August with Justice League #1, putting two superstar creators–who also happen to be members of the company’s management team–on their flagship team title.
Writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee told a six-issue story about how this new version of the League came together to fight Darkseid and an invasion from Apokolips a few years back. That story ended a month ago, and this month brings a new chapter and a guest artist to the comic, as Johns teams with Gene Ha for a story that gives longtime Wonder Woman supporting character Steve Trevor a role with the League. Also of note in this issue is the beginning of a back-up tale featuring the New 52 debut of Shazam!
So what do folks think about the League’s jump to the present day? And what about the Billy Batson back-up? Here’s a round-up of what a few people thought …
“The Villain’s Journey, Prologue”:
Greg McElhatton, Comic Book Resources: “With Justice League #7, Geoff Johns and guest artist Gene Ha jump the series forward to the present day and I’m sure most readers will be saying, ‘It’s about time.’ Reading this comic, I can understand why and it makes me wish we’d started at this point all along. Thanks to a lack of ‘this is how they all met,’ we end up with a much zippier pace. A threat raises its head, the Justice League shows up and quickly defeats it. Each plot point is hit quickly and effectively and then the story moves forward. Johns also shows us how the different members are getting along with one another and longtime Wonder Woman supporting character Steve Trevor is given a larger role as well. As the new addition to the line-up, Cyborg’s position within the League is well-defined, in some ways taking the spot that Oracle had in Grant Morrison’s JLA. It makes more sense to have him on the team now, and it’s nice to see him working out without either dominating or fading into the background of the comic.”
Since the March solicitations kick off the back half of the New 52′s first year, it’s probably worth noting that the whole line remains unchanged: no “midseason replacements” like Justice Society, but no cancellations either. If I hear relieved sighs from OMAC and Men of War, certainly Dan DiDio and Jim Lee have to be pleased generally that they’ve gotten this far with the 52 intact.
Well, pleased or stubborn, I suppose. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.
Ahem. Away we go…!
One of my pet peeves about the New-52 is the sense that it lacks a meaningful “history.” For at least the last few decades, a reader might not have known exactly what had happened or when, but s/he could tell that these characters hadn’t just fallen off the turnip truck. I say this because the solicits for Justice League #7 and Flash #7 both allude to their books’ untold backstories. With Justice League, we’ll learn about membership turnover and other details of the five years between the League’s debut and today. (To be sure, some of that has already been alluded to in the League’s previous present-day appearances, like JL Dark #1.)
DC Comics has released Gene Ha’s variant cover for Action Comics #3, previously only revealed at New York Comic Con, featuring Jor-El, Laura and a radically redesigned Krypto in what’s been characterized as the Superdog’s one and only New 52 appearance.
Entertainment Weekly has a preview of the issue, which takes us back to Krypton — Kandor, specifically — just before the planet’s destruction. Check out the full cover below. Action Comics #3, by Grant Morrison and Rags Morales, arrives Nov. 2.
FanExpo Canada wraps up today in Toronto, and both Marvel and DC were there this weekend announcing various projects:
- DC Comics will relaunch the Justice Society by writer James Robinson and artist Nicola Scott. The new adventures of the JSA will be set not on the “New 52″ Earth, but on Earth-2, as they were before Crisis on Infinite Earths combined DC’s multiple Earths into one big sandbox back in the 1980s. “Everyone’s saying, ‘How can there be superheroes before the five years?’ We’re actually bringing back Earth-2,” Robinson said.
- Marvel announced Brian Wood will write for the publisher once again, in a teaser that seems to point a finger at a Wolverine project.
- Marvel’s Alpha Flight has been upgraded from a limited series to an ongoing.”We’ve got Taskmaster showing up, we’ve got Wolverine and other characters journeying north to find out what’s going on with Alpha Flight,” said co-writer Fred Van Lente. “We learn that Alpha flight’s actually a member of a super, super team called The Commonwealth of Heroes. I’m very excited about writing those characters — I love them a lot and it’s going to be a good time.” The Commonwealth of Heroes? I am intrigued. CBR has more details in an interview with Van Lente and Greg Pak, where they mention that Captain Britain and MI-13 will play a role in the Commonwealth Heroes.
- In addition to Jill Thompson, other artists working on the upcoming Shade miniseries written by James Robinson include Gene Ha and Darwyn Cooke.
- Marvel will publish a five-issue miniseries called Destroyers, by writer Fred Van Lente and artist Kyle Hotz. The book will feature The Thing, the Beast, A-Bomb, She-Hulk, Karkas the Deviant and Devil Dinosaur. “A lot of this series is about how monsters feel about being monsters and how comfortable they are with it. Hank McCoy is probably the most comfortable in his furry blue skin. He’s got an analytical mind. In this story, a colleague from his past gets murdered. That sets him on a quest to solve a mystery and puts him on a collision course with the Destroyers,” Van Lente told CBR.
- Marvel also announced the return of two more CrossGen properties — Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in December by writer Peter Milligan and artist Roman Rosanas, and Route 666 in February by writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Peter Nguyen. Both are four-issue mini-series.
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 this week, the first thing I’d grab would be a complete nostalgia-buy: DC Retroactive: Justice League of America – The 70s #1 (DC, $4.99), because I am a complete and utter sucker for JLA stories, and grew up reading old back issues of the title I found at used bookstores. This would be worth it for the reprint at the back alone, never mind the new story by Cary Bates that looks like it’s playing around with the multiverse one more time. To accompany that, I’d also pick up the first two issues of Joe Harris and Brett Weldele’s Spontaneous (both $3.99), because – even though I missed the Free Comic Book Day release of the debut – I’m a fan of Harris’ Ghost Projekt and Weldele’s work on The Surrogates, and curious to see just where a book about spontaneous human combustion can actually go.
Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Today’s special guest is Shannon Wheeler, New Yorker cartoonist and creator of the Eisner Award-winning comic book Too Much Coffee Man, Oil & Water, the Eisner-nominated I Thought You Would Be Funnier and the upcoming Grandpa Won’t Wake Up.
To see what Shannon and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
Although I stopped watching the show on a regular basis a few seasons back, I try not to miss the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episode every year that for some reason is typically shown the Sunday after Halloween. I also try not to miss Bongo’s Treehouse of Horror comic special, which seems to go out of its way every year to recruit an interesting array of contributors. The last couple of years have featured everyone from cat and transforming robot cartoonist Jeffrey Brown to Lemmy of Motorhead.
This year is no different, as it features stories by Go-Go/Lady Robotika‘s Jane Wiedlin, Zander Cannon and Gene Ha of Top Ten fame and indie artist Jim Woodring. I’ll be sure to add this to my buy list when it comes out Sept. 28.
Conventions | Early estimates place attendance three-day attendance at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo at 34,000, up from 27,500 at last year’s inaugural event. “Last year was disappointing,” said Eric Thornton, manager of Chicago Comics. “But now you definitely see this starting to take hold.” [Chicago Tribune]
Retailing | Borders Group has announced it will close an additional 28 stores, bringing the total to 228. The bookseller, which filed for bankruptcy protection on Feb. 16, had used the possibility of as many as 75 closings as leverage to negotiate lease concessions. This latest wave will bring the chain’s remaining store total to about 400. [Media Decoder]
Publishers | Chicago-based publisher Archaia, which expects sales of $11 million this year, has raised capital from a group of investors with local connections. [Crain's Chicago Business, via ICv2.com]
“Where in the world is Gene Ha?”
That’s what comic fans like me have been wondering the past year. Sure he’s been popping up as a cover artist on some big DC titles and rounding out the last issues of The Authority: Lost Year, but in terms of real, sink-your-teeth into it comics work it’s been a drought. But thankfully, Gene Ha has popped up to explain what’s going on.
In a blog post on his website, Ha explains that the his major creator-owned project Back Roads with Bill Willingham at IDW (announced back in 2009) has fallen apart due to the writer stopping to turn in scripts — just after Ha turned in the complete first issue – pencils, inks and colors. With the full story of Back Roads estimated to be 132 pages and no new script pages in a year, Ha’s pretty much said the project is dead.
Getting back into the swing of things, Ha has worked on those previously mentioned covers for DC, and he also did a Mouse Guard story with writer Lowell Francis. He’s also working on shorts for House of Mystery and the IDW Rocketeer miniseries. The most enticing bit of news is something else.
“I’ll be doing a few issues of an iconic DC character this summer, DC should announce details soon,” Ha revealed. “And finally, after all that, I’ve been working on something with James Robinson.”
Look for more on Gene Has’ website, but before you go — tell us your favorite Gene Ha work and what iconic character you’d like to see him work on!