"Batman's" Gotham Was... Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
In three short years, Image Comics has turned Image Expo into the first big comics event of the year. Interest in the publisher’s announcements has reached the point where I wish there were live-streaming video of the presentation. Maybe next year. For now, we have to settle with live coverage, which was still pretty fun. Image Expo didn’t disappoint: It seemed as if every title announced caught my interest. There are a few that stand out, however, so here are my Top 5 picks of the announcements that went above and beyond.
1. Image signs Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips to a five-year exclusive contract
The acclaimed collaborators have a perpetual green light at Image to do whatever they want for the next five years. That’s a big vote of confidence, and a real commitment to support Brubaker and Phillips. It must be quite a relief for them to not have to worry about crafting the perfect pitch and convincing someone to believe in their story. They just get to create. It’s an exciting arrangement, and one I hope will serve as a pilot program for others equally worthy.
Our annual “Looking Forward, Looking Back” feature continues, as we ask various comics folks what they liked in 2013, what they’re looking forward to in 2014 and what projects they have planned for the coming year. In, this final round, we hear from Vito Delsante, Jacq Cohen, Mark Sable, Dean Haspiel, Joshua Williamson, Jordie Bellaire, Paul Allor, Adam P. Knave, Tim Gibson, Bryan Q. Miller, Nathan Edmondson, Ann Nocenti, Jason Latour, Paul Tobin, Ming Doyle, Jeff Parker, Francesco Francavilla and Gabriel Hardman.
And if you missed them, be sure to check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6 where we heard from Jimmy Palmiotti, Tim Seeley, Chris Roberson, Kurt Busiek, Faith Erin Hicks, Tyler Kirkham, G. Willow Wilson and many more.
When I set out to conduct an interview, particularly when it’s focused on one project, I usually expect the conversation to go in a certain direction. I concede that this Q&A with Zero writer Ales Kot surprised me in its ability to venture into a variety of topics, including genetic memory, synchronicity and the importance of honesty in branding.
Tim O’Shea: How early in the development of Zero did you realize you wanted to use a variety of artists?
Ales Kot: Pretty much right in the beginning, if I remember correctly. The choice was a storytelling decision and a way to work with many artists I am interested in at the same time. I believe a narrative doesn’t have to be conventional in the way it is depicted (i.e. one artist for the story) in order to achieve clear communication of itself. Clearly I am right but really how hard is that to figure out? People who read comics are smart and wonderful and hungry for new stories and new ways of telling them. We live in a world that carries easiness of sensory overload within itself and our encounters with said sensory overload can teach us how to modulate/expand our perceptions. We are mutants. My approach to Zero is that of acknowledging and embracing evolution as a gift. That is one of the reasons why a variety of artists is correct here. Another reason would be because I simply felt like it.
“The man is demented in more interesting ways than I think Batman ever was. [His] cape is actually a crescent moon and he goes out only at night and dresses in reflective white so you can see him coming. Now that’s nuts … I like that.”
A retailer who last week ripped a copy of Pretty Deadly #1 in half in front of customers, triggering heated online reaction as well as responses from Image Comics and writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, has apologized for his actions.
“A small group of long time customers who know me well asked me what I really thought of the book,” Steven LeClaire, owner Comics Ink in Culver City, California, explained in a post on the Bleeding Cool forum (it was deleted and made into a standalone article). “For dramatic effect, I ripped a copy of the book after giving my review. I personally found the book lacking a coherent storyline and the art too muddy to follow. That was my opinion. The book was still on the shelves for sale for all those who wanted it. I made a mistake of thinking I was having a private talk with a small group of friends. I apologize for my actions.”
The incident was first mentioned Thursday by CBR columnist Hannibal Tabu in “The Buy Pile,” where he wrote that he agreed with the retailer’s assessment of the issue — by DeConnick, Emma Rios, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles — although he didn’t mention LeClaire by name. Word of the comic’s destruction quickly spread online, with Zero writer Ales Kot questioning whether the act was prompted merely by “anger about the product, or also by misogyny,” and leading Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson to offer to take back the remaining copies of Pretty Deadly #1 from Comics Ink and have Diamond Comic Distributors cancel orders for subsequent issues.
Nearly a year ago we wrote about Vandroid, Tommy Lee Edwards’ live-action tribute to ’80s action films, shot over just five days near the artist’s home in North Carolina. Dubbed by Edwards as merely the first of many planned live-action projects, the short was to be accompanied by a soundtrack and a comic book — and now the latter has found a home.
Dark Horse has announced the Feb. 29 debut of Vandroid, a miniseries written by Edwards and Noah Smith, with art by Dan McDaid and colors by Jordie Bellaire. Edwards will provide the covers.
Here’s the solicitation for the first issue of the project, described by the publisher as “epic 80’s Sci-Fi action, the likes of which you’ve never seen”:
I first became aware of colorist Steve Downer due to his work on MonkeyBrain Comics’ Edison Rex. But as I quickly learned, he serves as colorist on a variety of projects, as well as artist on Dracula the Unconquered. Given the variety of Downer’s projects, I thought it would be insightful to discuss his craft with him.
Tim O’Shea: How long have you been a colorist?
Steve Downer: I’ve been working full-time as a colorist since 2009, though I started coloring as a side job much earlier, in 2007, while I worked as a T-shirt graphic designer.
Wonder Twins Zan and Jayna have made a few appearances since the cancellation of the Super Friends TV show and comic book in the early ’80s. Robert Washington III and Tom Morgan added them to Captain Atom’s Justice League in Extreme Justice, they showed up on Smallville, and most recently they popped in to audition as Beast Boy’s replacement on Teen Titans Go!.
If Bobby Timony (The Night Owls) had had his way, they would’ve also appeared in a short story he pitched to DC Comic. He doesn’t say exactly what it was for and why it didn’t get picked up, but he recently shared the story on his blog, with the first four pages colored by Jordie Bellaire. Check out part of “Wonder Twins” below, and visit Timony’s blog for the rest.
A great artist can make readers stand up at attention, while a fast artist can make editors’ lives a lot easier. Luckily for fans and publishers alike, Declan Shalvey is both.
Taking the artistic reins on Deadpool in August, Shalvey is in the middle of an epic upward-bound trajectory in comics, drawing books for Marvel and Dark Horse. His career began with a 28 Days Later comic for BOOM! Studios, but fans didn’t really take notice of his work until he began alternating arcs of Thunderbolts with Kev Walker.
Despite its frantic biweekly shipping schedule, Thunderbolts was an ideal showcase for Shalvey’s gritty, textured illustrations (with a bounce reminiscent of emotive newspaper cartoonists). After working on that title, and its successor Dark Avengers, for two years, the Irish artist was tapped to follow after Tony Moore on Venom. But stand back: Shalvey isn’t just a superhero artist. While tackling those comics for Marvel, he also illustrated graphic novel adaptations of Frankenstein and Sweeney Todd for European publishers, and arcs of Vertigo’s Northlanders and Dark Horse’s Conan the Barbarian.
DC Comics’ digital-first series Batman Beyond and Justice League Beyond will get new creative teams this summer, which will also see the official debut of the Batgirl of the future.
IGN.com reports Nightwing writer Kyle Higgins and Venom artist Thony Silas will take the reins of Batman Beyond, with Sean Murphy and Jordie Bellaire providing covers, while Avengers Academy writer Christos Gage and Superboy artist Iban Coello will take over Justice League Beyond. JT Krul and Howard Porter will remain on Superman Beyond.
However, before Higgins and Silas make their debut, writer Scott Peterson and artist Annie Wu will introduce the future Batgirl, who’s said to have a good working relationship with Commissioner Barbara Gordon, in her own story arc in July.
To think there are people in the present-day comic book industry that fail to respect colorists is hard to believe. Yet, as we noted late last month, colorist Jordie Bellaire wrote about her work being minimalized when an unnamed convention refused to name colorists as guests. The post resulted in an impromptu #ColoristAppreciationDay on Twitter as well as a larger conversation about the important value of colorists.
In the wake of that discussion, I chatted with Bellaire about the post, as well as her work as a whole. The timing turned out well, as despite her busy schedule, she was able to do an interview. It seems as if every week there’s a new comic released that features her as colorist. This week it’s Captain Marvel #10, while next it’s the debut of The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror miniseries written by Roger Langridge with Bellaire coloring artist J. Bone. Bellaire saves the best for last in our Q&A, revealing that she hopes to get back to illustrating — and that she has dabbled in writing.
Tim O’Shea: In all of the reactions from your initial Tumblr post in praise of colorists, what pleased or surprised you the most?
Jordie Bellaire: The response itself was extremely surprising! I didn’t expect anything to really come of my angry little blog post. I try to keep my “internet persona” pretty humorous and silly. I don’t really get “for realsies” worked up over anything online (unless it’s something Star Wars-related). When I posted this at 7 a.m. on hardly any sleep (I was in a tough deadline week, of course), I expected maybe three people to see it and those would have been just friends. Somehow, though, the letter spread fast. I was just thrilled. Given, keeping up with the response during the day totally killed my productivity, I was too busy watching the internet explode in the name of colorists.
Creators | Colorist Jordie Bellaire launches a protest against a convention that refuses to include colorists as guests. “Your one sentence, ‘this is not a colorists thing,’ was surely the most pigheaded and dismissive thing I’ve been told since I began professional coloring,” she writes, and then goes on to point out all the things colorists do to make comics great and make a forceful argument for including them (as many major cons already do). In a later post she explains why she won’t name the convention. [Jordie Colors Things]
Graphic novels | A study soon to be released by a University of Oklahoma researcher shows that students who read a textbook in graphic novel form retained more than those who read a straight prose textbook. [The Oklahoman]
Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading?, where today we welcome special guest Ron Marz. Marz has written everything from Green Lantern to Witchblade, and you can currently find him working on comics like Artifacts, Prophecy, Blackburn Burrow and The Ride: Southern Gothic. He also writes the column Shelf Life for Comic Book Resources and can be found on Twitter.
To see what Ron and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
The first Image Expo kicked off Friday in Oakland, California, with a keynote speech from Publisher Eric Stephenson that emphasized creator relationships as the company’s foundation, and laid out more than a half-dozen titles that will be announced this weekend for release later this year:
• Happy!, by Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson, a mysterious title the writer says is “in a genre I’ve never really tackled before — but with a bizarre twist, of course.” It’s the first of several potential Image projects from Morrison. [iFanboy]
• Confirmation of a third volume of Phonogram, by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson, called The Immaterial Girl. Gillen says the six-issue miniseries, which will likely debut in November, is “primarily about the war between coven queen witch Emily Aster and the half of her personality she sold to whatever lies on the other side of the screen. It’s about identity, eighties music videos and further explorations of Phonogram’s core ‘Music = Magic’ thesis. There is horror. There are jokes. There are emotions. There may even be a fight sequence. It also takes A-ha’s ‘Take On Me’ with far too much seriousness – which, for us, is the correct amount of seriousness.” [Kieron Gillen’s Workblog]
• Chin Music, by Steve Niles and Tony Harris, described by the artist as “a 1930’s Noir, Gangster, horror story.” [Tony Harris]
Comic artist Tom Fowler is right in the middle of a career renaissance, and he’s on his biggest project yet with the upcoming Hulk: Season One. His first major project since getting back in the public eye on Rick Remender’s Venom run, Fowler has spent the break before he begins drawing pages for the graphic novel to work up some concept sketches, inspiration and reference for the project. The image above is one he and colorist Jordie Bellaire worked up to get the creative team (and the readers) excited for what’s coming. Fowler makes it a point to say that it’s not a Marvel-approved image, but something the two artists are aiming toward for the series.