EXCLUSIVE: Brian Michael Bendis Interviews Chuck Palahniuk on "Fight Club 2"
Film, Comic Books
Publishing | Portland, Oregon, will be the home base for Heavy Metal’s new line of comics, which was announced in October, following the company’s sale to David Boxenbaum and Jeff Krelitz. “I think it’s being closer to the talent,” Krelitz said. “If you wanted to be a painter in the early 20th century, you went to Paris. The comics line launches in March with the second season of Michael Moreci and Steve Seely’s Hoax Hunters. The company plans to be publishing eight original series by the end of this year and another 12 next year, building up to 50 in five years. “We’re positioning to be a premier publisher,” Krelitz said. [The Oregonian]
Passings | Editorial cartoonist R.K. Laxman, who maintained a running commentary on Indian politics for almost 60 years, has died at age 93. The younger brother of novelist R. K. Narayan, Laxman got his start illustrating his brother’s work as well as doing drawings for local newspapers. He became an editorial cartoonist for the Times of India around 1947, about the time India became an independent country, and stayed there until 2010. Laxman’s most famous creation was the Common Man, a character that stood in for the average Indian. As the official obituary in the Times of India said, “His Common Man, created in 1957, was the symbol of India’s ordinary people, their trials and tribulations, their little joys and sorrows, and the mess they found themselves in thanks to the political class and bureaucracy. But despite the sobering reality of this, there was never any rancour in Laxman’s cartoons. His humour was always delightful, and no one could hold a candle to his brushstrokes.” [Times of India]
Legal | A 16-year-old in Nantes, France, was arrested last week for posting a cartoon on Facebook that mocks the Charlie Hebdo killings; the charge is “advocating terrorism.” The cartoon shows someone holding a copy of Charlie Hebdo and being struck by bullets. Electronic Intifada posts what is most likely the offending cartoon (it had been shared widely on social media), a takeoff on one of the more notorious Charlie Hebdo covers, accompanied by the text, “Charlie Hebdo is shit. It doesn’t stop bullets.” The original cover featured a cartoon of an Egyptian protestor holding the Koran, with text that read, “The Quran is shit, it doesn’t stop bullets.” [France 3]
Publishing | Sales were down in 2014 for Diamond Book Distributors, even though the industry overall had an up year. The reason: DBD lost a key client, Dark Horse, to Random House. Nonetheless, Vice President Kuo-Yu Liang sees good things in store for 2015, including strong sales of indie graphic novels, expanding international sales, and the much-anticipated March: Book Two, which was released this week. [Publishers Weekly]
Although Southern Cross, the sci-fi horror series from Becky Cloonan, Andy Belanger and Lee Loughridge, doesn’t debut from Image Comics until March, its production blog has already proved itself a must-read. Or a must-view, in any case.
The series follows Alex Braith as she boards the oil tanker Southern Cross en route to Saturn’s moon Titan to collect her sister’s remains, retrace her steps and uncover answers about her death.
On the blog, the creators have posted everything from character designs to logo treatments for the comic’s galactic oil company to — best of all for anyone who ever spent hours poring over schematics of Titans Tower or the U.S.S. Enterprise — a top-down blueprint of the Southern Cross itself.
The GLAAD Media Awards are traditionally a fairly mainstream affair, with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation recognizing outstanding portrayals of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities in works that reach a wide audience. Although in the past, the organization has honored the likes of Fun Home, Luba and Strangers in Paradise, the outstanding comic book category is typically heavy on superhero titles released by Marvel and DC Comics.
However, with the announcement this morning of the nominees for the 26th annual GLAAD Media Awards comes a couple of big surprises: Just one superhero series is singled out, and, for the first time since the comic book category debuted in 2003, there are no titles published by DC or its imprints.
Editorial cartoons | The leaders of Pakistan, Turkey and the Taliban on Thursday condemned the new Charlie Hebdo cover depicting the Prophet Muhammad. “If someone is printing a cartoon insulting the prophet, there is a provocation,” Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters. The lower house of the Pakistan parliament unanimously approved a resolution condemning the cartoons, and the Tailban emailed a statement saying, “We strongly condemn this repugnant and inhumane action,” which is “opening the door to provoking the sensitivities of nearly one and a half billion Muslims.” Also, several people were injured when police broke up an anti-Charlie Hebdo protest outside the French Consulate in Karachi. [Bloomberg]
What if I told you that you could get a sculpture of Saga‘s Lying Cat? No, not “Lying.”
Mike Bauerlein recently shared online the details of a 3D modeling commission he undertook of the fan-favorite character from Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ hit series. Using ZBrush and reference pulled from the comic, Bauerlein captured the details of Lying Cat while staying true to Staples’ art.
Skottie Young has revealed his variant cover for the landmark 250th issue of Spawn, set for release Jan. 28 from Image Comics.
The 64-page issue, written by Spawn creator Todd McFarlane and illustrated by Szymon Kudranski, marks the climax of the current story, clearing the way for the return of Al Simmons and the introduction of the new creative team of Paul Jenkins and Jonboy Meyers.
Ahead of the arrival of the landmark 250th issue, Todd McFarlane has unveiled “The Evolution of Spawn,” a graphic tracing the character’s numerous costumes, from the original design to the Greg Capullo-drawn Commando Spawn to Jonboy Meyers’ upcoming interpretation.
“And if you’re doing the math, that’s 24 YEARS. TWENTY-FOUR!!!!!!!!” McFarlane writes on Facebook. “It’s cool to look back and see how things have changed since 1992….it’s hard to believe we’re already coming up on our #250th issue.”
Image Expo returned on Thursday, and it wasn’t messing around. Each year, Image Comics seems to pack bigger announcements and bigger surprises into a single-day event. And the diversity of creators and genres gets that much better, too.
This year’s Image Expo — held again at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, following last July’s event at Comic-Con International in San Diego — included the now-standard keynote address by Publisher Eric Stephenson. He reviewed the past year’s successes and echoed plans to make Image the No. 1 publisher, but aside from throwing the gauntlet down at the feet of Marvel and DC, his address avoided some of the controversial statements and manifestos of years past. While I appreciate a good sabre-rattling, it allowed the focus to remain squarely on the creators and their comics.
With that in mind, here are my six favorite announcements from Image Expo 2015:
It’s deja vu all over again for the Diamond Gem Awards: Voted on by comics retailers, the winners this year look a lot like the 2013 lineup, with Image Comics and BOOM! Studios once again taking honors as top publishers in their divisions. Marvel was named top dollar publisher, DC Comics as top backlist publisher and Viz Media as top manga publisher — just like in 2012 and 2013.
The first issue of the widely acclaimed Ms. Marvel was honored as comic book of the year in the under $3 division, and Thor #1 was the choice among pricier comics. The Amazing Spider-Man #1 brought in the most dollars, however. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was named the best all-ages comic of the year, Batman: Earth One took the honors as best original graphic novel, and Box Brown’s Andre the Giant was the best indie comic.
In terms of who got what, DC Comics won seven awards, Marvel won six and Dark Horse won three, including best anthology for Dark Horse Presents, another three-peat.
Here’s the full list of winners:
Crime | Police have surrounded an industrial park in the town of Dammartin-en-Goele, France, 25 miles north of Paris, where the two suspects in Wednesday’s massacre at the offices of satire magazine Charlie Hebdo are believed to be hiding. Police say brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi have taken over a print shop and are holding a hostage, and have reportedly told negotiators they wish to die as martyrs. The Associated Press reports that a second, apparently linked siege at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris is believed to involve Amedy Coulibaly, suspected of killing a police officer on Thursday. Police say he’s holding at least six hostages. [The Guardian]
Danger Club, the teen-superhero miniseries from writer Landry Q. Walker, artist Eric Jones and colorist Rusty Drake, earned acclaim upon its debut in April 2012 for its blend of classic comic-book archetypes and decidedly darker sensibilities. It’s a violent mix of Teen Titans, Watchmen and Lord of the Flies, with young sidekicks — both heroes and villains — left to their own devices after their mentors head into space to face a cosmic threat, and then never return.
However, just as the Image Comics miniseries was kicking into high gear, it was derailed by real-world concerns when the fourth issue was delayed after one of Drake’s children was struck by a car. That contributed to a domino effect, with Issue 5 arriving in April 2013, after which Danger Club went on hiatus.
However, that changes late this month, when the eight-issue series returns for its final leg: Issue 6 goes on sale Jan. 28, followed by Issue 7 on Feb. 25 and Issue 8 on March 25.
Joshua Williamson and Andrei Bressan have a fun series going with Birthright. Debuting in October from Skybound, the fantasy is in the middle of its first arc, introducing Mikey, a boy from our world who crossed over to a fantasy world at age 10, only to return a year later as a 30-year-old warrior hero. After a rocky reunion with his family — his father Aaron, his mother Wendy and his “older” brother Brennan — Mikey escaped police custody and went out on the road, on a mission to take out five evil wizards who found their way into our reality.
However, not all is as it seems: Mikey is under the influence of the Nevermind, an evil presence at the core of problems in the other world, and his mission is anything but transparent.
ROBOT 6 spoke with Williamson about the direction of Birthright, balancing different aspects of the story, and the importance of choice and family as the series moves forward. Skybound also provided us with exclusive pages from Issue 4.
Image Comics has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive first look at C.O.W.L. #8, by Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel and Rod Reis, which sees the cast of the series — the Chicago Organized Workers League — mourning the loss of one of their own. The issue arrives Jan. 28, continuing the series’ second arc.
Image Comics has provided Robot 6 with an exclusive first look at Alex Grecian and Riley Rossmo’s Rasputin #4, continuing the origin story of Grigori Rasputin, one of the most fascinating figures in Russian history. And given the legends about Rasputin himself, it’s understandable why the pages have more than a slight supernatural angle.
“He was always so larger than life, everything about him was exaggerated,” Grecian told CBR in 2014. “It’s almost impossible at this point to separate the truth from the tall tales, which frees us up to tell any kind of story we want to. He fictionalized himself and his biographers and detractors fictionalized him after death, so I feel like you can sort of swirl everything around in a big pot and add your own spices and come up with just about anything.”