Like with the pulp space pitch the other day, Tony Lee has shared several other failed pitches on his Twitter feed (#ForgottenPitch). I’ll leave most of them for you to discover yourself (there are lots of wonderful ideas on show), but Shieldmaiden caught my eye for a couple of reasons: First, it would have been drawn by Dan Boultwood, creator of the current series It Came! that I’m enjoying so very much. And second, Vikings.
Sadly, it was the Vikings that killed the comic before it began. Lee pitched the idea in 2011, the year that Vertigo canceled Brian Wood’s Northlanders. Ivan Brandon’s Image series Viking had ended prematurely the year before after only one story arc. So, when Lee was told that no one wanted new Viking comics, publishers had some evidence to back that up.
Still, Lee and Boultwood had a different take from the realistic comics by Wood and Brandon. Shieldmaiden would have included a mythological element as a young woman led her clan in battle against the gods during Ragnarok. That, plus Boultwood’s art, makes me wish it could have found a home.
With the new year arrives the first trailer for Deathface, the homage to 1980s action heroes by Ivan Brandon, Chuck BB and Ryan Browne. The project is part of the first wave of releases from Offset Comics, which Brandon (Viking, NYC Mech) has described as a “giant, amorphous experiment” that approaches storytelling from a “100 percent creative declination.”
Also on the Offset slate is Destroyer, by Brandon and Eric Canete, and Doublecross, by Daniel Krall.
It’s become an annual tradition here during our birthday bash: No matter how much stuff we line up, people we interview, etc., there are still tons of folks we like to hear from and include in our giant New Year’s/anniversary/birthday activities. So, as we’ve done in past years, we asked a cross-section of comics folks what they liked in 2012 and what they’re excited about for 2013. We received so many this year that we’ve broken it down into two posts; watch for another one Tuesday.
But for now, check out all the great stuff people shared with us, including hints at new projects and even some outright announcements. Our thanks to everyone this year who responded. Also, thanks to Tim O’Shea, Michael May and Chris Arrant, who helped collect responses.
JIMMIE ROBINSON (Bomb Queen, Five Weapons)
What was your favorite comic of 2012?
Image’s Saga, Fatale, Hawkeye‘s reinvention is fresh and exciting, Peter Panzerfaust, Enormous by Tim Daniel. It’s hard to pin down just one because there is SO much good work coming out nowadays — from many publishers across the board.
After quietly announcing Offset Comics in July, Viking and NYC Mech writer Ivan Brandon further introduced the project at New York Comic Con, describing it to The Associated Press as a “giant, amorphous experiment” that approaches storytelling from a “100 percent creative declination.” That doesn’t exactly clear up the mystery, does it?
“I’m calling Offset a lab,” he tells Comics Alliance. “And what that means to me, anyway, is that it’s a series of experiments intended to try completely new routes in terms of story and in terms of who’s entertained by it. Comics has been for all of my life and most of its life defined by some very specific logistical parameters: pages are 6.875 inches by 10.437 inches based on bulk paper costs. Margins and trims are determined by the potential for printer error. Comics are expressed in eight-page increments, and so on. Offset is among other things an attempt to discard logistical motivation and be 100% creatively motivated. Not worrying what markets will support a thing or what demographic it speaks to or how economical anything is. The first experiment people will see from us is, obviously, a form of comics.”
The first three Offset projects are Brandon and Eric Canete’s Destroyer, exploring what happens after the end of the world, Daniel Krall’s Doublecross, about a man who held the shadows at bay until the shadows made him a better offer, and Brandon, Chuck BB and Ryan Browne’s Deathface, an homage to 1980s action heroes.
On Wednesday, Kickstart Comics (not to be confused with Kickstarter) will release Duplicate, the new graphic novel from writer Mark Sable and artist Andy MacDonald. The publisher describes the project as follows: “A seemingly ordinary family man sees his doppelganger and realizes he’s a clone. But not just any clone. A duplicate of the world’s deadliest secret agent. A decoy designed to spend time with The Agent’s family and otherwise provide cover while the spy is off saving the world.”
In addition to answering my questions about Duplicate, Sable was kind enough to share a slew of exclusive unlettered preview pages, which you will find at the end of the interview.
Tim O’Shea: Given that your publisher Kickstart is not one of the Big Two, I was pleasantly surprised to see they have priced your 88-page original graphic novel, Duplicate, at $8.99. Are you hoping the price point will give indie-comics fans more incentive to give the story a try?
Mark Sable: I hope most readers will check out the book for my story or Andy MacDonald’s art, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hope that the price point would be an extra reason to take a chance on the Duplicate. It’s Kickstart’s first foray into a full-size OGNs after doing digest-sized books like Rift Raiders (my previous OGN for them with Julian Totino Tedesco). I think in an economy like this, with 20 page single issues costing $3.99 or more each, having a complete story arc for $8.99 is our chance to compete with value as well as quality.
Nearly lost amid the hubbub of Comic-Con International was the stealth launch of Offset Comics, a mysterious project by Ivan Brandon, writer of such titles as Men of War, Viking and NYC Mech, and editor of 24Seven.
Just how stealthy was the announcement? It was buried in Brandon’s biography line at the end of an article he wrote for The Awl about comic-book movies, and not spotted until nearly two weeks later by The Beat and others. So far details are slim, with a placeholder website promising “Coming Soon,” and a Twitter account teasing “you’ll see.”
Curiously that Twitter account has been active for more than a month, offering glimpses of artwork, most recently — and most completely — a pair of character designs, one by Black Metal artist Chuck BB and the other by … I’m not quite sure (see them below).
It’s probably safe to presume Offset Comics is a new imprint, but whether it will be print or digital is another matter.
Creators | While acknowledging the agreement that names Bob Kane as the sole creator of Batman, The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna and Bill: The Boy Wonder author Marc Tyler Nobleman make the case for giving writer Bill Finger a screen credit on The Dark Knight Rises. [Comic Riffs]
Conventions | Although Comic-Con International is usually thought of as a stage for movie studios, major comics publishers and video-game developers, Mark Eades looks at the event as a showcase for small businesses, from artists to toymakers. [The Orange County Register]
Conventions | Robot 6 contributor Brigid Alverson reports on the kids’ comics scene at Comic-Con International, including news that Papercutz will produce a comic based on the viral web phenomenon “Annoying Orange.” [Publishers Weekly]
“Though Marvel has commented, the internet has decided it will not be satisfied until it sees the longform birth certificate.”
– Men of War writer Ivan Brandon, responding to online reaction to statements made by Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley and CCO Joe Quesada concerning the Gary Friedrich case and the sale of sketches at conventions
Sales charts | Responding to an iFanboy article that speculates on what titles Marvel might cancel next, Men of War and Viking writer Ivan Brandon makes the case against sales charts and the subsequent analysis of them each month: “There’s an ongoing debate, for a bunch of years now. There are numbers that circulate every month, inaccurate numbers, people track them, people use that flawed ‘data’ to comment on what they see as the progress or decline on the list. A lot of comics professionals are against this, for a lot of reasons. In my case, for my books, the books I personally share copyright on … my reason is, and no offense to anyone out there: My income is none of your business. Just as your income is none of mine.”
Tom Spurgeon offers a counterpoint: “Sales information seems to me an obvious positive, not because it reveals the bank accounts of creators, but because what sells and to what extent is basic information about a marketplace, and the shape and potency of a marketplace seems to me a primary item of interest for anyone covering that marketplace. It’s foundational to our understanding of how things work and why. Certainly this information is already manipulated to brazen effect by companies with something to put over on customers; I have to imagine this would become worse under a system of no information at all being released.” [Ivan Brandon, The Comics Reporter]
One of things I love most about creator-owned books are the range of subjects and genres that creators can explore. Within the creator-owned world you can find your superhero books as well as horror, sci-fi, slice-of-life, humor, westerns, historical drama and all the sub-genres in between.
I’m a huge fan of historical-based action and drama stories. I usually find them in books and films, but even those can be hard to come by. Especially when it comes to stories about Vikings, movies often fall short. They just seem to miss the point, oftentimes trying to make these plunderers a likable lot, when in truth they could be pretty nasty and that’s kinda what was great about them. Well, stories about them.
No, seriously! Those are Scalped and Ultimate Captain America writer Jason Aaron’s exact words to the legendary Watchmen and From Hell scribe (and fellow beard enthusiast) in Aaron’s latest “Where the Hell Am I” column for CBR: “Go fuck yourself, Alan Moore.” Apparently the writer took Moore’s spate of angry and dismissive comments about the comics industry — spurred most recently, in straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back fashion, by unpleasant dealings Moore had with former collaborator Dave Gibbons over DC’s potential publication of Watchmen sequels — very personally:
December will be a good month for writer Ivan Brandon–what with the December 22 softcover edition release of Viking: The Long Cold Fire (Image) and more immediately, this week, the release of Doc Savage 9, the DC Comics/First Wave universe series that he is co-writing with Brian Azzarello. Brandon and I discuss both works, as well as the potential advantages of the digital platform, his recent involvement with Weird War Tales and the particulars of collaborating with a writer such as Azzarello. While we were not able to delve too much into his plans for 2011, it definitely sounds like his intentions for the new year are quite ambitious.
Tim O’Shea: How intrigued are you by the prospect of increased exposure via different platforms, such as the iPad for your work–how much of a priority is it for you to make your creative-owned work available for the digital platform?
Ivan Brandon: Well, of course it’s important to me to add millions of new outlets where people might find my work. The idea that I can link a new book and some of the people who follow me on Twitter, say, who don’t read comics at all might be able to just click and start down that road… that’s to me an incredible new market that needs to be taken very seriously.
But creatively moreso I’m very interested to see what new voices the digital world might bring to storytelling. What’s the new equivalent of a Jack Kirby when there are no longer any print world parameters to adhere to? Comics have for a long time toed a weird invisible line that I think this removes. I’m excited to see what kind of stories come from anyone who notices.
MySpace Comic Books has a five-page preview of Viking #1, the upcoming ninth-century crime series by Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein. I’m a history buff and a fan of crime stories, so I’m really looking forward to this comic, which debuts in April from Image.