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Cliff Chiang draws Joss Whedon for GQ magazine

NOTE: The images have been removed at the request of GQ.

Wonder Woman artist Cliff Chiang and GQ designer Benjamin Bours have revealed Chiang’s illustration of director, screenwriter and comics scribe Joss Whedon for a feature in the May issue of the magazine titled “The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth.”

“It’s always a treat to do some editorial illustration,” Chiang writes, “and when it’s a portrait of somebody as beloved in the comics scene as Joss Whedon, I couldn’t ask for a better subject.”

See a much larger version of his illustration below, and visit Bours’ website to see more pages from the Whedon profile.

The Middle Ground #97 | How Buffy got her groove back

There were, let’s face it, numerous warning signs about Buffy: The Vampire Slayer Season Nine, not least of all the way that Season Eight had turned out. But adding a second ongoing book to the line? Joss Whedon only writing the first issue instead of the first arc, because of his commitments to Marvel’s The Avengers? There was, it seemed, little possibility that the series could regain the support or excitement it had at the launch of Season Eight. And then, to quote Jarvis Cocker, something changed. Continue Reading »

Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope documentary trailer debuts has premiered the first trailer for Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope, the film by Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) examining the cultural phenomenon that is Comic-Con International by following the lives of five attendees.

As you can see from the cosplay-heavy trailer below, the documentary also boasts plenty of familiar faces, including Kevin Smith, Seth Rogen, Eli Roth and Stan Lee (who, along with Joss Whedon, is one of the executive producers.

Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope opens April 6.

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Buffy makes controversial decision in latest issue

From Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #6

When Editor Scott Allie told Comic Book Resources that Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 would take Buffy’s story “back to human issues … some of the biggest issues anyone can face,” fans knew he was alluding to her mysterious pregnancy. But with Issue 6, in stores today, the Slayer deals with her new situation head on, answering a question readers have been debating since last issue’s big revelation.

Spoiler warning: The following addresses a major plot point from Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #6.

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Dark Horse adds Buffy, other Whedon titles to their digital store

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #40

Dark Horse Comics announced that they are adding their popular comics based on the television works of Joss Whedon to their digital store, starting today with a good chunk of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight and the first two issues of Season Nine.

Additional issues from Season Eight and Nine will be added over the next few weeks. Issues of Angel & Faith, which spun out of the events of Season Nine, will arrive next week. The Dollhouse one-shot and five-issue series will be added Nov. 23.

“This marks another important turning point in Dark Horse’s digital initiative,” said Mike Richardson, Dark Horse president and founder. “Joss Whedon’s incredible characters have become some of our most popular, and now fans from all over the world can see them like they never have been seen before!”

No doubt. Considering the fan base Buffy, Angel and, well, anything Joss Whedon does have, it makes sense that Dark Horse would want to make their “in canon” comics available via their digital store, and the natural question is “What took so long?” Given the titles are licensed from Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products, it wouldn’t be surprising if they had some legal/licensing issues to work through. Fans commenting on the news at the Whedon-focused blog Whedonesque are now asking if Dark Horse will move to a same-day-as-print schedule, which seems like a natural move.

After the jump you can find the release schedule for upcoming Whedonverse titles on Dark Horse’s digital app.

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What are you reading? with Andrew Foley

Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading. Our guest this week is Andrew Foley, the author of the new vampire graphic novel from IDW, Done to Death.

To find out what Andrew and the rest of the Robot 6 crew are reading this week, click below …

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SDCC ’11 | A round-up of Wednesday’s news


Comic-Con International in San Diego hasn’t officially started yet—tonight was Preview Night—but the news has been rolling in. So let’s take a look at today’s announcements

• Dark Horse announced three new projects earlier this evening. They will publish a comics adaptation of The Strain, the sci-fi/vampire trilogy by filmmaker Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. The comic will be written by David Lapham with art by Mike Huddleston.

• They also announced a series written by Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello with art by Scott Hepburn. Orchid is about a 16-year-old prostitute in a dystopian future “becoming the Spartacus of whores.” Each issue will come with a music track by Morello.

• And finally on the Dark Horse front, they will publish comics set in the young vampire world of P.C. Cast’s House of Night novel series. It will be co-written by Kent Dallan with art by Joëlle Jones. You can see a trailer promoting all three new books on YouTube.

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SDCC ’11 | Morgan Spurlock chronicles Comic-Con

Archaia's Stephen Christy stars in this two-page spread from Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope

Morgan Spurlock has written a book and made a movie about San Diego Comic-Con. Spurlock got full access to Comic-Con to film Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope and sent photographers Aba Tulle and Peter McCabe out to document the celebrities and the fans forthe lushly illustrated companion volume from DK Publishing. The book will be available, appropriately enough, on Preview Night, at the Sideshow Collectibles booth.

The way the whole thing came together is classic San Diego, and illustrates why people bother to make the trek, despite the hassles involved. It all started when Spurlock went to the 2009 Comic-Con to film a Simpsons special and ended up meeting Stan Lee.

Spurlock said, “I went to kiss his ring and tell him that when I was a kid, he changed my life and made me realize that I could tell all the different kinds of weird adventure stories that were in my head.”

“Stan Lee says to me that we should make a documentary together and it should be about Comic-Con,” Spurlock said. At the same party, Spurlock said he ran into his agent, Robert Michelli from CAA. “I told him I want to make a movie about Comic-Con and he tells me I should meet another client of his—Joss Whedon!”

You get a bunch of creative types into the same room and that’s what you end up with. The film was made at the 2010 Comic-Con and features creators like Moto Hagio and Frank Miller as well as movie stars and assorted other celebs. Spurlock said that announcements about screenings will be coming very soon.

SDCC ’11 | Dark Horse brings Joss Whedon, many more to Comic-Con

Dark Horse sent over their plans for the show, including their panel and signing schedules. Note that they have several ticketed signings, so if you want to get autographs from Gerard Way or Bruce Campbell, you’ll need to put some work in (and maybe have a little luck, too!)

Also, as you’ll see above, they’ve put together a handy “top ten” of Dark Horse-related things to do, buy and win at the show. And if you’re just wondering what sorts of free stuff they’ll have, I’ve included their “swag” list at the bottom.

Check out their schedule and swag list after the jump.

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Comics A.M. | Dynamite CEO on industry; why doesn’t cartooning pay?

Green Hornet

Publishing | Dynamite Entertainment CEO Nick Barrucci talks frankly about the state of the marketplace, digital comics, and his company’s plans. He also acknowledges some missteps: “Green Hornet was a license we paid a lot of attention to last year, probably too much attention. Going back to what we were talking about earlier, putting out too much product, we put out too much Green Hornet product. Part of it is that we wanted to get trade paperback collections out in time for the movie, and we did that, we succeeded. We built up our market share and we generated more revenue for us and the retailers. I’m going off on a tangent here, so I apologize, but we took that money and reinvested into projects like Vampirella, like Warlord of Mars, like the upcoming Kirby: Genesis. But we overdid it, and that we realize, which is why you don’t see us doing four Vampirella titles and four Warlord of Mars titles.” []

Creators | For its annual Comics Issue, the Village Voice takes a fascinating, lengthy and very depressing look at the often-grim financial reality faced by cartoonists — an environment to which, it turns out, the Village Voice contributed. “I’m not sure how much you’ll be allowed to write about this,” says Dan Perkins (Tom Tomorrow), “but of course the Village Voice Media chain is one of the major culprits in this  —their decision to ‘suspend’ cartoons [in 15 papers in 2009] dealt a serious blow to the struggling subgenre of alt-weekly cartoons.” It’s noted parenthetically that Tom Tomorrow will return to the paper “within a few months,” and that “many of the artists in this issue aren’t getting paid, but have contributed work for the exposure.” [Village Voice]

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Dark Horse to collect their Angel stories into an Omnibus in July

Angel Omnibus

With Joss Whedon’s Angel returning to Dark Horse Comics later this year, the publisher plans to collect previous Angel comics into an Omnibus in July.

Dark Horse previously published Angel, first as a monthly then as a miniseries, from 2000 to 2002. The Angel Omnibus will include Angel #1–#14 and #17, Angel: Long Night’s Journey #1–#4, Dark Horse Presents #153–#155: “Hunting Ground,” Dark Horse Extra #25–#28: “Angel,” and Angel: Point of Order. Issues #15-16 of the ongoing Angel series were a crossover with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and were previously collected in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Past Lives.

IDW Publishing acquired the rights to the property in 2005, and since has released numerous miniseries and an ongoing series. Dark Horse will publish new Angel comics again later this year, when the “ninth season” of Buffy the Vampire Slayer kicks off.

Check out the solicitation text after the jump.

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Whedon discusses the end of Buffy Season 8, drops hints about Season 9

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #40

With the release today of Buffy the Vampire Slayer #40, the conclusion of the sprawling Season 8 storyline, creator Joss Whedon says he’s already looking forward to a more “down to earth” Season 9.

“I got very excited when I had a comic book with the idea that I could do absolutely anything,” he tells Etertainment Weekly‘s Shelf Life blog. “We hit a lot of beautiful notes and I’ve got a lot of great writers working [on the comics], and I’m very proud of it. But at the same time, it’s like, yeah, ‘You can do anything’ is not really the Buffy mission statement. The Buffy mission statement is, ‘What does this feel like?’ So I wanted to bounce it back a little bit to the real world.”

Be warned: The interview contains spoilers for Season 8, so if you’ve been picking up the collected editions, you’ll probably want to avoid that link.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer will relaunch late this year, coinciding with the return of Angel to Dark Horse. The publisher has said that the new season will be “a little tighter, a little more concise” than Season 8, which took nearly four years to complete.

Related: Dark Horse has a list of retailers who are marking Buffy Summers’ birthday — it’s today! — with special events.

Exclusive Preview | Buffy the Vampire Slayer #40

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #40

Although the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series went out with a bang in 2003, Ms. Summers and the Scooby gang had a very busy 2010. Not only did we get the big reveal of who the villain Twilight really was — a character whose comic series will return to Dark Horse next year — but we’ve also made it to the end of “season eight” with a huge story with huge consequences. And we found out that the crew will be back sometime next year for season nine.

But before that one begins, you gotta have an ending. On Jan. 19, Buffy the Vampire Slayer #40 drives a stake through the ambitious season eight, where “betrayal comes in the shape of the closest, most unexpected individual of all.” Jan. 19 is the birthday of Buffy Summers, and Dark Horse has six events planned around the country to celebrate it.

And right here for our birthday, we’re very pleased to present an exclusive preview of Buffy the Vampire Slayer #40, courtesy of the kind folks at Dark Horse Comics. Check out the preview, solicitation info and details on the Buffy birthdays after the jump.

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Did Buffy’s Riley deserve a one-shot? Jane Espenson responds

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Riley

The big announcement in last month’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Riley one-shot about the return of the Angel license to Dark Horse appears to have overshadowed another controversy — namely, whether the character Riley Finn actually deserved his own issue.

For those unfamiliar with Buffy continuity, Riley was introduced in Season 4 as a teaching assistant at UC Sunnydale who led a double life as a drug-enhanced agent of the Initiative, the secret government organization dedicated to the capture of demons. To the displeasure of some fans, the wholesome Riley — some might say “vanilla” or “downright boring” — became Buffy’s boyfriend and, briefly, a member of the Scooby Gang. (Personal note: Professor Walsh aside, Riley may have been the worst part of the excruciating Initiative arc that dominated the season. Well, him, and Buffy’s maddening post-Angel self-esteem issues.)

The character left in Season 5, returning for just one more episode before re-emerging in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, the canonical comic-book continuation of the television series, where he was revealed as a double agent being used by Buffy to infiltrate Twilight’s organization. And then came the one-shot, which triggered enough grumbling that writer Jane Espenson — a fan-favorite writer of Buffy, Battlestar Galactica and Warehouse 13 — has taken to the Dark Horse website to defend Riley, and the one-shot.

“I hear that some of you are wondering why Riley Finn deserves a one-shot comic-book issue instead of Dawn or Xander or the deep, dark shadow under Spike’s left cheekbone,” Espenson writes. “The answer is simple: Riley wanted it more. He worked harder. He earned it.”

With tongue in cheek, she goes on to explain that not every character can withstand the rigors of a comic book one-shot — “There are no stunt doubles here” — or demonstrate the awareness required for the “highly technical” work. But Riley Finn, that wholesome boy from Huxley, Iowa, has mastered the art.

“This isn’t to say that the others aren’t excellent comic-book characters as well,” Espenson continues. “They obviously are. Xander has been turning in magnificent work despite the challenge of the eye patch, which has never, not once, migrated from one eye to the other between panels. […] And I think Warren’s work deserves special praise, as he is quite obviously the best skinless performer in comics today.”

The final story arc of Season 8, written by creator Joss Whedon himself, begins with Issue #36, in stores today.

‘These are Joss’ characters and … Joss wanted them all under one roof’

Angel #38

This post on IDW Publishing’s website serves as a perfect companion to yesterday’s article at Comic Book Resources sifting through the details of the return of the Angel license to Dark Horse.

Last week it was revealed — prematurely, it turns out — that after nearly five years at IDW, the Angel comics will move in late 2011 to Dark Horse, home of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Dark Horse previously published Angel, first as a monthly then as a miniseries, from 2000 to 2002.

The surprise announcement naturally left fans of the IDW series, and the upcoming Spike spin-off, confused, leading IDW Chief Creative Officer Chris Ryall to dedicate a thread on the company’s message board to answering their questions. This week Ryall collected that thread’s highlights for an “official Angel is leaving IDW Q&A” that clarifies some of the issues surrounding the move — including, most notably, the driving force behind the decision. Namely, Buffy creator Joss Whedon.

“… Ultimately, these are all Joss Whedon’s characters,” Ryall wrote, “and if he decides that they’re best-served being under another roof, then that’s what will happen.” Later, when asked whether IDW was outbid for the Angel license, Ryall added: “I would not have stopped doing Angel comics if it were up to me; money had nothing to do with it. These are Joss’ characters and as I mentioned above, Joss wanted them all under one roof. And it so happens that that roof is located in Oregon, not San Diego.”

Dark Horse published Buffy comics from 1998 to 2004 before launching the highly successful Season 8 in 2007. A canonical continuation of the cult-hit television series, Season 8 is supervised by Whedon, who also wrote the opening and closing arcs. The series will conclude in January with Issue 40 before relaunching as Season 9 — alongside the return of Angel — in late 2011.

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