The New York Comic Con officially kicked off this afternoon, with fans eager to get inside and publishers eager to begin releasing news into the wild. So let’s see if we can’t herd some of those announcements together. Here’s a round-up from today:
• DC Comics Co-Publisher and artist extraordinaire Jim Lee will team with Batman scribe Scott Snyder on a new Superman title next year, just in time for the Man of Steel’s return to the silver screen. “This will play along with the other Superman books in the sense that it’s in continuity, but we really wanted to carve out our own territory,” Snyder told CBR. “This really is sort of the biggest, most epic Superman story we could do together while having our feet planted firmly in continuity and making sure that everyone had enough room.”
DC also unveiled a Kia Optima that features a Batman design by Jim Lee.
• Marvel announced three more Season One graphic novels: Iron Man, written by Howard Chaykin with art by Gerard Parel; Thor by writer Matthew Sturges and artist Pepe Larraz; and Wolverine, written by the team of Ben Blacker and Ben Acker, with art by Salva Espin. Also, Cullen Bunn returns to Deadpool with Deadpool Killustrated, a miniseries that pits the Merc with a Mouth against Moby Dick, Sherlock Holmes, Beowulf, Don Quixote and more. Spoiler alert: he’s gonna kill them.
Legendary Comics announced today at New York Comic Con that it will publish a graphic-novel prequel to Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming giant-monster epic Pacific Rim as well as sci-fi miniseries written by Grant Morrison.
Produced by corporate sibling Legendary Pictures, Pacific Rim centers on monstrous creatures known as Kaiju that rise from the sea to consume Earth’s resources, and the massive piloted robots called Jaegers that are constructed to save humanity from destruction.
The graphic novel, which will be released before the film’s July 12 debut, is written by Pacific Rim screenwriter Travis Beacham and delves into the early days of the Kaiju attacks and how mankind reacts to the realization that these aren’t isolated incidents but rather a full-fledged invasion.
Del Toro tells Hero Complex that the book won’t simply have his name slapped on the cover. “I try to get involved as much as possible,” he said. “The first decision that is needed from me is to hire the right artist, the right colorist, the right writer for the books. That’s the part that I think is most important. It’s like directing in the comics. … In Pacific Rim, I expect to approve the layout, the pencils, the inking, the coloring, the cover, the script … everything.”
Morrison describes his project, Annihilator, to Heat Vision as “my big L.A. story. It’s a devil’s deal story, it’s a science fiction story, it’s a horror story.”
The six-issue miniseries follows Ray Spass, a screenwriter grappling with a brain tumor, lack of inspiration, and a deadline for a sci-fi movie script about an antihero named Max Nomax who’s in a haunted prison on the edge of a black hole after loosing a battle with an artificial lifeform. But Spass’ life changes when the real Nomax appears, and it’s revealed the tumor contains information key to preventing worldwide destruction.
Aiming to cut the fat from the bloated pop-culture extravaganzas, a new creator-branded model for comic conventions is drawing fans to a more curated and unique experience.
For decades, comic conventions have been building up (or “diversifying,” if you prefer) to include television shows, movies, video games, board games, toys, novels, scantily clad models, and new-media companies that used speech balloons in their marketing campaign that one time. Basically they’ve become magnets for any project with an air of geekery, regardless of the lack of any sequential art or cartooning. A number of cons can feel more like a pop-up strip mall in their efforts to be everything for as many people as possible. And con-goers feel it. You really haven’t had the full convention experience if you don’t hear someone grumble how the con used to be about the comics, man. It’s a chorus that seems to attract more voices each year.
Perhaps in response to the growing Grumble Choir, a number of event organizers have been testing more focused conventions branded under a single creator or identity. These conventions bring in vendors, guests and exhibitors that more directly reflect the name on the banners, resulting in a more authentic and cohesive experience. While it’s splicing a niche market to a niche within a niche, it’s also creating a more irresistible ticket item for people within that sub-niche. And those fans coming to see the name they recognize are probably super-fans eager to experience, sample and buy more at a deeper level than the more scattershot crowd under the general geek umbrella.
If you didn’t have the massive ticket price for MorrisonCon last weekend, perhaps this is more your speed: the fifth annual Dundee Comics Day at the University of Dundee, Scotland. Much of the day’s event sounds like a redux of the program for Morrison’s high-end Sin City shindig, sans the pop magick angle:
The Dundee Comics day once again welcomes a stellar line-up of top industry talent, this time to celebrate the comics of award-winning Scottish writer Grant Morrison (MBE). Grant will be discussing his approach to writing comics, his thoughts about superheroes, as expressed in his recent book Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero, and his experience of working with some of the best comics artists in the industry.
This exploration of the comics of Grant Morrison is timely given his recent award of an MBE, but also because the University of Dundee is currently leading the way in the emerging field of Comics Studies with modules on comics at Undergraduate and postgraduate level, including the UK’s first MLitt in Comics Studies in the School of Humanities, launched in September 2011. DJCAD has also launched very successful modules on creating comics. The University of Dundee is therefore delighted to have this opportunity to celebrate the huge success of one of Scotland’s most influential and successful authors. The Comics Day talks are designed to appeal to everyone with an interest in comics, and will be accompanied by an exhibition of comic art work.
A raft of Morrison’s past collaborators will be joining him in Dundee, including Cameron Stewart (Seaguy, The Guardian), Frazer Irving (Klarion The Witch Boy, Batman), Frank Quitely (Flex Mentallo, New X-Men, WE3, All Star Superman, Batman & Robin, Multiversity), Rian Hughes (Dare) and Jill Thompson (The Invisibles). Two days prior, the college’s cinema is hosting a showing of Talking to Gods, the seldom-screened documentary on Morrison’s life and career.
If you couldn’t make it to MorrisonCon over the weekend and are looking to experience aspects of the event beyond Comic Book Resources’ panel reports, British musician Akira the Don offers his take on the first day, which included lounging in “Suite Le Morrison to drink fine boozes, pore over immensely incredible art pages from Grant and Frank’s upcoming Multiversity comic and chatter excitedly about Jilted John and bath salt zombies and the new age of Horus whilst being filmed for a documentary.”
Even better, he has a slew of photos, some featuring Morrison (glowing and not), Gerard Way and retailer/convention organizer James Sime. You can see a couple of those images below, along with video of Morrison’s spoken-word performance with Way and James Dewees of My Chemical Romance.
Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson released a new creator-owned series this week, mashing up crime comics and, um, silly animal comics? No, that doesn’t seem quite right. In any event, Happy! #1 landed on store shelves this week, and how happy did it make reviewers? Here are a few from around the web:
Chris Arrant, iFanboy: “Everyone involved in this book has kept the details of what the story is about relatively under wraps, pitching the world the idea of a disgraced cop being haunted by an imaginary blue horse after finding himself in the cross-hairs of the cops and the criminals he now works for. While the actual story hits those beats, Morrison and Robertson (along with Clark’s excellent coloring) really build up a textured world of criminals, crooked cops in the dirty snow-as-slush lined streets of an unnamed urban city. The creative team really fleshes out a seedy world pulled from the pages of pulp novels to a tee, before it gets crazy.”
Jason Serafino, Complex: As Morrison usually does, he uses Happy to employ the grittiness and overt violence that have become clichéd in comics as a way to satirize the industry. Until its eponymous character debuts, the issue moves along like so many comics we have seen recently with its morose tone and gore, but that flying blue horse introduces a Looney Tunes quality to the issue that’s almost poking fun at the current state of dread and violence in comics. It’s almost as if Morrison is daring creators to liven up and add a little blue horse of their own into their books.”
Retailing | The Manchester, Connecticut, comics store Buried Under Comics will reopen with a new name, A Hero’s Journey, and a new owner, April Kenney. A friend of previous owner Brian Kozicki, who died unexpectedly last month, Kenney arranged to purchase the store from Kozicki’s family. [Patch.com]
Retailing | Toronto retailer Silver Snail has moved from its longtime location on Queen Street to Yonge Street. [CityNews]
Publishing | Brian Smith, the DC Comics associate editor publicly ridiculed by Rob Liefeld last month, has announced his departure from the company, apparently under amicable circumstances. Nonetheless, Liefeld took a parting shot on Twitter. [Blog@Newsarama]
Manga | Hiroaki Samura will bring his long-running samurai revenge epic Blade of the Immortal to a close in the February issue of Kodansha’s Monthly Afternoon magazine (on stands Dec. 25) after 19 years. The series is published in the United States by Dark Horse; the 25th volume was released in North America in August. [Anime News Network]
Political cartoons | NPR talks to several editorial cartoonists about the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo‘s decision to run cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammed. The general sense seems to be that while the magazine had the right to do so, it wasn’t a good idea given the turmoil already caused by the YouTube trailer for Innocence of Muslims. Politico cartoonist Matt Wuerker said, “Over the last few years, people have gotten the idea that cartoons are radioactive because they have the power to inspire riots. That doesn’t help cartooning in a certain sense.” And Daryl Cagle observes that the long-term effect is to make editors more timid. [NPR]
Legal | The Bombay High Court had sharp words for the Mumbai Police regarding the arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on a sedition charge. “How can you (police) arrest people on frivolous grounds? You arrest a cartoonist and breach his liberty of freedom of speech and expression,” said justices DY Chandrachud and Amjad Sayyed during a hearing in the case. The court will issue guidelines for the application of the sedition law, said the justices, who called the arrest of Trivedi “arbitrary.” “We have one Aseem Trivedi who was courageous enough to raise his voice and stand against this, but what about several others whose voices are shut by police.” [The Economic Times]
Creators | Grant Morrison talks about the guy who (literally) ate a copy of Supergods, why he is moving away from superheroes, and his upcoming Pax Americana, which is based on the same Charlton characters as Watchmen: “It’s so not like Watchmen. In the places where it is like Watchmen people will laugh because it’s really quite … it’s really faithful and respectful but at the same time satiric. I don’t think people will be upset by it, in the way that they’ve been upset by Before Watchmen which even though it’s good does ultimately seem redundant … This one is its own thing but it deliberately quotes the kind of narrative techniques used in Watchmen and does something new with them.” [New Statesman]
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guests are the creative team behind the upcoming self-distributed indie comic LP, Curt Pires and Ramon Villalobos. You can read more about the comic in the interview Tim O’Shea did with Curt earlier this week.
And to see what they’ve been reading lately, click below.
Conventions | Coming up this weekend: Stan Lee’s Comikaze in Los Angeles, featuring special guests Todd McFarlane, Neal Adams and Marv Wolfman. Attendance is expected to reach 60,000, which is a pretty big number for such a convention that’s only in its second year. [Hero Complex]
Conventions | James Sime, owner of Isotope Comics and one of the organizers of MorrisonCon, talks about, well, Isotope Comics and MorrisonCon, and what it was like translating the world of writer Grant Morrison into a comics event: “The *promise* of MorrisonCon is this crazy, life-altering weekend where you’re plugged directly into this swirling world of brilliant ideas, offbeat interests, mad obsessions, and personalities who fire Grant’s creativity. We had to make that promise real, to translate as many improbable concepts and even random off the cuff Morrison riffs as possible into the tangible world. To render all that into nightclubs and hotel rooms and meeting space chairs and places for awesome humans to meet and mingle. We all agreed, it just wasn’t worth doing unless we could live up to that promise, to truly make something worthy of the name MorrisonCon… and go far beyond it.” [Three If By Space]
While I don’t think there have been any official announcements about it, word is trickling out that Grant Morrison’s “putting the sex back into Wonder Woman” project is going to be Wonder Woman: Earth One. Bleeding Cool poses it as a question, but on the most recent 3 Chicks Review Comics podcast, Greg Rucka confirms it. He also says the gig was originally going to be his.
“I, at one point, was supposed to write Wonder Woman: Earth One,” he says. “ J.H. [Williams] was going to draw it.” Unfortunately, “I was told I was not going to do it. Dan DiDio called me and told me he was giving it to someone else. And I said if you take that away from me I can no longer work for you because I have taken many a job for you, sir, on the promise of doing this and now you’re taking it away and I can no longer accept your promises any more. He had his reasons for doing it; this is not me throwing stones. This is just the way things shook out.”
If you’re a comics fan, you may want to go to Las Vegas the last weekend of this month. That’s where, on Sept. 29 and 30, there will be two competing comic conventions — Las Vegas Comic Expo and MorrisonCon — taking place just blocks away from each other. Comic-Con International has seen secondary events like Tr!ckster spring up to take advantage of the annual pilgrimage of fans, but these two Las Vegas conventions were planned without knowing the other would be there.
On MorrisonCon’s website, the organizers address this comic culture double-booking by saying the secretive nature of both events made it so they didn’t know their dates conflicted until both had signed venue contracts and announced dates.
DC Comics celebrates the first year of the New 52 relaunch by declaring September “Zero Month,” where each #0 issue of their titles takes us back in time before the events we’ve seen over the last 12 months. This week saw the release of several zero issues, including Action Comics by Grant Morrison and Ben Oliver. These zero issues, no doubt, are the “perfect jumping on” point for new or lapsed readers who may have fallen off certain titles since the relaunch, at least in theory. Does that theory hold up for Action Comics #0? Here are a few opinions from around the web:
James Hunt, Comic Book Resources: “In many ways, this is good stunt for someone with Morrison’s sensibilities. The writer’s earliest issues were by far the best of the series, presenting a radically different and interesting take on Superman with very clear ideas about his situation. Recent issues have seen that gradually give way to something a bit more conventional (if you can call the super-armor conventional) but Morrison has taken the ‘zero issue’ approach quite literally with a story that fits almost perfectly before last year’s Action Comics #1.”
Jesse Schedeen, IGN: The best compliment I can give this issue is that it feels more consistent and cohesive than the majority of Morrison’s previous issues have been. The plot is relatively simple by Morrison standards, so rather than cutting between scenes and points in time intermittently, Morrison is able to follow the journey from point A to B in a more methodical manner. Issue #0 opens where one of the recent backup stories left off, with Clark ordering his first batch of Superman T-shirts. From there, we see him settle into his role at the Daily Star, interact with Jimmy Olsen, and put his growing abilities to the test for the first time as Metropolis’ new defender.”
Because it’s the first week of the New 52 Year Two, the time has come to review where I stand at the end of Year One. It also happens to be the week I’m away on a bidness trip, unable to react to whatever dern-fool thing DC did on Wednesday.
That would probably take a back seat anyway, because I’m a little curious myself to look back at these books. In terms of reading habits, it’s been a rather funky year. Some weeks I wouldn’t have time to read everything I bought, and sometimes that meant books just dropped off my radar. I caught up with a few of these, but a few I just didn’t miss — which, of course, is never a good thing.
You’ll remember that last year I bought all 52 first issues, and talked about each as September proceeded. Of those which remain, I am reading 27: Action Comics, All-Star Western, Animal Man, Aquaman, Batgirl, Batman, Batman & Robin, Batwing, Batwoman, Blue Beetle, Catwoman, DC Universe Presents, Demon Knights, Detective Comics, Firestorm, Flash, Frankenstein, Green Lantern, GL Corps, I, Vampire, Justice League, Justice League Dark, Stormwatch, Supergirl, Superman, Swamp Thing and Wonder Woman.
Additionally, I was reading six titles that have since been canceled: Blackhawks, JLI, Men of War, OMAC, Resurrection Man and Static Shock. For a while I also read Grifter, Red Lanterns, and Superboy. Filling in some of those holes are second-wave titles Batman Incorporated, Earth 2, Worlds’ Finest and Dial H.
To keep your eyes as glaze-free as possible, this will be a two-part survey. Today we’ll look at the Superman and Batman families, the “historical” titles, the main-line Justice League books, and a few others.