Joe the Barbarian
Often when comic creators are asked about their dream job, most expect them to respond with a specific character they want to tackle, some fondly remembered superhero on which they hope to leave their mark. Of course, not all comic creators think that way.
Writer and artist Sean Murphy has made a name for himself working on almost everything but superheroes. Instead, he’s made readers take notice with the likes of Punk Rock Jesus and Joe the Barbarian. When he’s done work-for-hire, he’s mostly stayed clear of the usual suspects, with stints on former Vertigo stalwart Hellblazer and a spinoff book for Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque’s American Vampire. His actual superhero output is few and far between, but well worth looking out for — from his Batman/Scarecrow: Year One miniseries to the delayed-but-finally released Teen Titans one-shot.
Following Joe the Barbarian and American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest, artist Sean Murphy is priming himself for his biggest work yet: writing and drawing his own series. Although he’s done it in the past with the graphic novel Off Road, the upcoming limited series Punk Rock Jesus from Vertigo is by far more ambitious in terms of plot and potential. DC/Vertigo has yet to “officially announce” the book, but Murphy has already penciled the first issue and is working up some standalone art to accompany the project… and he needs your help.
Murphy’s created this dynamic piece of art and he’s looking for fan input on whether to sell the print in color or black-and-white. What do you think?
Murphy talked with CBR about Punk Rock Jesus way back in 2009, and according to his DeviantArt postings has turned down a number of high-profile projects at Marvel and DC to finally get the chance to pursue more of his own material like this.
Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.
Strap yourself in, kids, because this is going to be a big one, as we run through the lengthy and considerable career of one of mainstream comics’ biggest stars, Grant Morrison.
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.
It’s a slow week, this week; if I had $15, I’d use it to catch up on some recent enjoyments like Action Comics #3 (DC, $3.99) and OMAC #3 (DC, $2.99), two of my favorite titles from the New 52 relaunch–OMAC in particular has been a really weird and wonderful joy–as well as the final issue of Marvel’s great and sadly underrated Mystic revival (#4, $2.99). I’d also see if the parody-tastic Shame Itself #1 (Marvel, $3.99) lives up to its potential, because “Wyatt Cenac + Colleen Coover” sounds pretty promising to these ears.
Artist Sean Murphy has been tearing up the fringes of mainstream comics. Although he’s yet to make a big splash in the super-hero genre, he’s found his own path with a string of projects at Dark Horse, Oni and IDW. For the past few years he’s called Vertigo home, and his first major series for the DC imprint, Grant Morrison’s Joe the Barbarian, just finished.
But for people who have followed him over the course of his career, or just followed his active DeviantArt account, you can easily tell he’s got a lot on his mind and an itch to get it out. Right now Murphy’s prepping to begin a spinoff miniseries for Vertigo’s American Vampire as well as writing and drawing his long-gestating series Punk Rock Jesus (which he talked about with Comic Book Resources in December). But besides that, he’s been prone to just draw whatever’s on the top of his head — like the amazing pin-up to your right. Murphy’s got a lot more, from a stellar Carl Sagan pin-up (who ever thought you’d see those three words together?), as well as an exclusive early look at Punk Rock Jesus, which isn’t due out until 2012.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday 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 what we call our “Splurge” item.
This week’s a big week for me, so with only $15 I’d have to leave a lot of things back and make some hard choices. My five under $15 would start with Joe The Barbarian #8 (DC/Vertigo, $3.99) by Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy. I’m a big fan of both guys, but I have to admit the story went over my head the same way The Filth did in serialization. Be that as it may, I’ve kept buying the issues just to amaze myself with Murphy’s art. Now that the complete series is out, I’ll re-read it all in one sitting and hope for the best. Second would be the fourth issue of Incognito: Bad Influences (Marvel/Icon, $3.50) because, well, Brubaker and Phillips can do no wrong. After that I’d get Secret Warriors #25 (Marvel, $3.99) because Hickman’s writing here plays up to all the things I like — espionage, secrets, and overly-complicated story arcs. Over on the DC side I would pick up Brightest Day #21 (DC, $2.99). This series has ebbed and flowed for me, depending on which story arcs are brought to the fore in each issue… but I’m excited to see what happens and that’s what it should be about, right? My last pick is a cheat — I only have some change left, but thankfully the Fear Itself Sketchbook (Marvel) coming out is a free promotional item. I’ll take Stuart Immonen sketches any day!
Is Grant Morrison overworked?
That’s the question going through my mind with the recent news that Batman: The Return of Bruce #5 was confirmed as being postponed for two months. Originally scheduled for Aug. 5, the DC Comics website now has it coming out on Oct. 6. Blogger David Uzumeri brought this to my attention with a Twitter poster on Friday, and the realization of the delay dovetailed in with two other pieces of stray information from weeks ago.
The first was the news of a sudden artistic change-up to Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #4 from Cameron Stewart to Georges Jeanty; originally solicited for July 21, the book only came out one week late, but the artwork looks a tad rushed. Stewart wrote on his blog that “conditions were such that I felt that my work would be drastically compromised and subpar should I stay on board, and so I felt that it was best that I walked away.” It has proven to be amicable, with pages already filtering out online of a future collaboration with Stewart, Morrison and DC on the 16th issue of Batman & Robin.
The second is from the blog of Sean Murphy, artist of the Morrison-penned Joe the Barbarian. According to his post, he’s waiting on the script for the final two issues of the series. Joe the Barbarian #7 was originally scheduled for release on July 21, while DC’s website now has a release of Sept. 15.
Checking with the solicitations for the past three months, Morrison is working on four series: Batman, Batman & Robin, Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne and Joe The Barbarian. He’s also been announced to work on two miniseries, Batman: The Return and Multiversity, a new series titled Batman Inc., as well as a prose book titled Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero.
Delays are to be expected on comics at some point, but these news tidbits add up to a possible trend. What do you think?
Grab your sword and check your blood sugar: Writer Grant Morrison has informed Robot 6 exclusively that a feature film version of Joe the Barbarian is now in development with Thunder Road Pictures, producers of this year’s Clash of the Titans remake. “Thunder Road just called me today and said we can officially announce it, so I’m quite happy about that,” Morrison says, though he himself won’t be writing the screenplay.
Launched in January, Joe the Barbarian is an eight-issue DC/Vertigo miniseries written by Morrison and illustrated by Sean Murphy. In its pages, a diabetic teenager named Joe is drawn into a fantasy world populated in part by his toys and his pet rat, where he discovers he is the long-prophesied “Dying Boy” who must save the world from the sinister King Death — while in the real world, home alone and delirious from diabetic shock, he struggles to stay alive. A hardcover collection of the acclaimed series is slated for a February 2011 release.
This is the third Morrison movie project announced in as many days: Morrison is writing the independent film Sinatoro for director Adam Egypt Mortimer, while Warner Bros. is planning an animated adaptation of Morrison and Frank Quitely’s Eisner Award-winning series All-Star Superman, written by Justice League Unlimited‘s Dwayne McDuffie.
Welcome once again to What Are You Reading?, where you’ll hopefully find something to add to your summer reading list. Our guest this week is Chris Arrant, who you may know from his comic book journalism work for Newsarama, Comic Book Resources and various print magazines for Marvel Comics, or from his comic book writing, which includes Female Force: Princess Diana, Tori Amos’ Comic Book Tattoo and 24Seven Vol. 2.
To see what Chris and the rest of the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click the link below …
Welcome once again to What Are You Reading? Our guest this week is Van Jensen, writer of Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer and Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer and the Great Puppet Theater. To see what Van and the rest of the Robot 6 crew are reading, click below.
For several months, there’s been a great amount of interest in Sean Murphy‘s work on Joe the Barbarian (the artist’s latest project/eight-issue miniseries with writer Grant Morrison, the first issue of which goes on sale this Wednesday, January 20). I was looking forward to meeting Murphy at the late October 2009 SCAD event (covered here). After talking about his craft with him (and seeing his work first hand), I am genuinely enthused to see the release of the first issue. I truly relish Murphy’s candor, as evidenced in this interview, and appreciate him giving me the opportunity to discuss Joe the Barbarian (as well as other topics).
Tim O’Shea: How did you come to be involved with Joe the Barbarian?
Sean Murphy: I’ve had a rough ride with DC for many years it seems. After Batman/Scarecrow: Year One I couldn’t get work there. My editor apparently pushed hard for me but the people in charge didn’t like my stuff and blacklisted me from the DCU. I’ve got a Teen Titans story that was never published because of how I reinvented Cyborg (shame on me for bringing him out of the 90s).
Then one day Karen Berger calls from Vertigo. She wanted me to work on this book they were doing with Neil Young called Greendale. Needing cash, I of course agreed. But there were a lot of delays for about a year. At one point I passed on Spider Man 1602 because I thought Greendale was almost ready. In the end Neil opted to go with another artist, so I started talking to Marvel about working there. When they offered me Dr. Strange, Karen countered with a Morrison book called Warcop. Soon they were both talking exclusives.
It was a rush. I remember thinking that I must have given the lord of comics a hand job in a past life or something.
Back on October 23-25, the Sequential Art Department at the Atlanta campus of Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD Atlanta) hosted a comics art forum with Sean Murphy (2003 SCAD Savannah graduate and artist on the upcoming Grant Morrison-written Joe the Barbarian for Vertigo) and Matthew Bernier (School of Visual Arts in Manhattan graduate and currently at work on a book for First Second). Since I’m a Georgia-based member of the Robot 6 crew, Chris Schweizer, a SCAD Atlanta professor and creator of Crogan’s Vengeance, invited me to the forum.
According to Shawn Crystal, SCAD Professor (as well as one of the artists on last month’s Deadpool 900 [Marvel]), SCAD’s Comics Art Forum tradition started in Savannah years ago. Crystal selects the guests that are invited to the forum. “Every year, when I pick guests, I look to pick progressive/passionate artists. Artists who are doing new and exciting things, helping to move the medium forward,” he said. “Our Atlanta Faculty throw names around until we settle on the best choice for that year.”
Schweizer echoed Crystal’s thinking. “When we arrange these events, we try hard to pick guests whose work (and approaches to their work) varies from ours, because it opens our eyes to new ideas, and it does the same for our students,” he said.