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Kickstart My Art | Palmiotti, Gray & Fernandez infect with Retrovirus

The fundraising website Kickstarter is fast becoming a vital conduit for creators (and some publishers) to secure funding to publish comics. And comics vet Jimmy Palmiotti has taken to this new paradigm with aplomb, using it last year to fund his Image graphic novel Queen Crab with artist Artiz Eiguren. And now the Marvel Knights co-founder is returning with an even more ambitious project: a graphic novel titled Retrovirus with longtime co-writer Justin Gray and artist Norberto Fernandez.

In my mind, Retrovirus is Encino Man meets Jurassic Park – dredge out the humor and fill it in with drama, intrigue and horror. The book follows a young viralogist named Zoe who takes a job at a research facility in Antarctica. Her new employers have found a neanderthal, perfectly frozen in ice and waiting for research to begin. Zoe’s brought in for her specialty in extinct virus, and her subject turns out to be a treasure trove but also a trap door into a dangerous future where a long extinct virus breaks fee into an  unsuspecting modern population.

The Retrovirus team set a goal of $11,600 to fund the production of 58-page graphic novella, and with 25 days to go they’ve already accumulated over 80 percent of that goal. The lowest donation earns you a PDF copy of the book, with the premium pledge, $400, earning a character named after you. Nearly 200 people have backed the project at this point, including a number of comic professionals like Andy Lanning, Paul Mounts, Andy Smith and Alex de Campi.


C2E2 | DC Comics to add more digital-first content

Ame-Comi Girls, by Amanda Conner

Following the release of the digital Smallville: Season 11 series today, USA Today reports that DC Comics has added two more titles to its upcoming slate of digital-first releases.

Joining Smallville, Justice League Beyond, Batman Beyond, Superman Beyond and Batman: Arkham Unhinged will be Ame-Comi Girls, based on the DC Collectibles line of Japanese manga-style statues, and an out-of-continuity Batman series.

Brian Truitt nails the lede here, saying “DC Comics aims to make every day a new comics day.” Ame-Comi Girls, written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, will come out on Mondays, while Batman–which will feature tales of the Dark Knight by Ben Templesmith, Steve Niles, B. Clay Moore, Nicola Scott, Joshua Hale Fialkov, Damon Lindelof and Jeff Lemire, among others–will come out on Thursdays. So the weekly line-up of digital-first series from DC looks like this:

Monday: Ame-Comi Girls
Tuesday: Batman: Arkham Unhinged
Wednesday: The Beyond comics
Thursday: Batman
Friday: Smallville: Season 11

“Our goal has always been from the very beginning to have something for everyone. The opportunities that digital opens up, it really allows us to go for as wide an audience as possible,” Hank Kanalz, DC’s senior vice president for digital, told USA Today. “The Lindelof thing will really appeal to tons of fans who don’t read regular comics, obviously. Hopefully when they come, they’ll see what an amazing medium this is and stay.”

Update: Via press release, DC has announced more details on the Ame-Comi Girls series. “AME-COMI GIRLS, launching in May, is based on the best-selling product line from DC Collectibles that brings the distinct Japanese influence of anime and manga to DC Comics’ female heroines and their foes. In the new series, the heroines must unite to stop an invasion by the female Braniac, who is aided by a group of ‘bad girl’ super villains. Initially, there will be five individual character arcs with multiple chapters, leading up to united, Ame-Comi girl series. All stories are written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray with Wonder Woman art by Amanda Conner and Tony Akins, Batgirl art by Sanford Greene, Duela Dent art by Ted Naifeh, Power Girl art by Mike Bowden and Supergirl art by Santi Casas.”

They also announced the creative pairings for the Batman digital comics: “BATMAN digital, launching in June, will take place outside of DC Comics – The New 52 continuity and feature a series of stand-alone stories by various creators that chronicle different cases handled by The Dark Knight. Confirmed creative teams include Damon Lindelof and Jeff Lemire; Jonathan Larsen and JG Jones; Tom Taylor and Nicola Scott; Ales Kot and Ryan Sook; B. Clay Moore and Ben Templesmith; Steve Niles and Trevor Hairsine; Joe Harris and Jason Masters; TJ Fixman and Christopher Mitten; Jeff Parker and Gabriel Hardman; Joshua Hale Fialkov and Phil Hester; David Tischman and Chris Sprouse; and many more!”

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Comics A.M. | Sheldon Moldoff dies; record sellout for Comic-Con

Batman #92

Passings | Classic comics artist Sheldon Moldoff, who co-created Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Bat-Mite and Ace the Bat Hound, passed away Wednesday. He was 91. Moldoff broke into comics at the age of 17 with a sports filler that appeared on the inside back cover of Action Comics #1. He went on to become a prolific cover artist, drawing the first cover image of the Golden Age Flash for Flash Comics #1 and the Golden Age Green Lantern for All-American Comics #16. He also worked on comics featuring Hawkman, Kid Eternityand Black Pirate. He also was one of the pioneers of horror comics in the late 1940s and worked as a “ghost artist” for Bob Kane on Batman from 1953 to 1967. After being let go by DC Comics in 1967, he went on to work in animation. [News from ME]

Conventions | Badges for Comic-Con International sold out Saturday morning within an hour and a half, a record for the annual pop-culture extravaganza. Last year it took about seven hours for badges to disappear. [U-T San Diego]

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What Are You Reading? with Andy Khouri

Wet Moon

Hello and welcome to a special holiday edition of What Are You Reading? Actually it’s just a normal edition of What Are You Reading?, because changing the font color to red and green, and adding twinkling lights around the border just made it harder to read.

Our special guest this week is Andy Khouri, associate editor over at ComicsAlliance, where he drops comic news and commentary on a daily basis.

To see what Andy and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Jamal Igle

The Ray 1

Sometimes when you interview a creator, you get the distinct impression that person would rather be promoting a new film or a new novel, anything but a comic book. Other times you are fortunate enough to talk to a creator like artist Jamal Igle who relishes his craft, loves comic books and is almost as much a booster of his fellow creators as the typical comic book fan. This Wednesday (December 14) marks the release of The Ray 1, the first installment of the four-issue DC miniseries by Igle with the writing team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. My thanks to Igle for the email interview. Once you’ve enjoyed this interview, be sure to check out CBR’s late November interview with Palmiotti and Gray, as well as the preview that CBR offered of issue 1.

Tim O’Shea: When the initial 52 DC Books were announced there was a great deal of displeasure voiced about the fact you were not on the list of creators. Two-fold question: How gratifying was it to see your fans support you so vocally on this front. Secondly, without going into details, were you offered a New 52 assignment and passed on it (please feel free to skip the first part and only answer the first part, if you prefer not to delve into it)

Jamal Igle: It was very flattering and humbling at the same time. It was a little difficult for me to respond to all of the inquiries, because I didn’t know, frankly, how to respond.  I was still working on Superman at the time, so I hadn’t been assigned anything. It was a really weird, with all of the assignments being announced, not being able to say anything. The offer for The Ray came just as I was finishing up Superman # 713, prepping #714 and getting ready for San Diego.

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Comics A.M. | Tom Ziuko health update; women and comics

Tom Ziuko

Creators | The Hero Initiative offers an update from colorist Tom Ziuko, who was hospitalized earlier this year for acute kidney failure and other health conditions, and then returned to the hospital for emergency surgery about a month ago. “I can’t impress upon you enough how frightening it is to actually come up against a life-threatening medical situation (not to mention two times in less than a year), and not have the financial means to survive if you’re suddenly not able to earn a living. Like so many other freelancers out there, I live paycheck to paycheck, unable to afford health insurance. Without an organization like the Hero Initiative to lend me support in this time of dire need, I truly don’t know where I would be today,” Ziuko said. [The Hero Initiative]

Publishing | CNN asks the question “Are women and comics risky business?” as Christian Sager talks to former DC editor Janelle Asselin, blogger Jill Pantozzi, Womanthology organizer Renae De Liz and others about the number of women who work in comics, the portrayal of female characters and why comic companies don’t actively market books to women. “Think about it from the publisher’s point of view,” Asselin said. “Say you sell 90 percent of your comics to men between 18 and 35, and 10 percent of your comics to women in the same age group. Are you going to a) try to grow that 90 percent of your audience because you feel you already have the hook they want and you just need to get word out about it, or b) are you going to try to figure out what women want in their comics and do that to grow your line?” [CNN]

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Food or Comics? | Rub-A-Dub-Dub, Batman in a tub

Batman #2

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Michael May

If I had $15, I’d mostly grab the second issues of some DC stuff I enjoyed last month: Batman ($2.99), Birds of Prey ($2.99), and especially Wonder Woman ($2.99). No Justice League for me though. Unlike Action Comics, I didn’t enjoy the first issue enough that I can rationalize paying $4 for it. Instead, I’ll grab Avengers 1959 #2 ($2.99) and Red 5′s Bonnie Lass #2 ($2.95), both of which had strong first issues.

If I had $30, I’d have to put back Bonnie Lass and wait for the collection in order to afford Jonathan Case’s atomic-sea-monster-love-story Dear Creature ($15.99).

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DC to release The Ray miniseries, by Palmiotti, Gray and Igle

The Ray #1

Writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray will team with artist Jamal Igle for The Ray, a four-issue miniseries debuting from DC Comics in December.

The Washington Post reports that this time the “human ray of light” isn’t Stan Silver, the version created by Palmiotti, Gray and Daniel Acuña and featured in Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters. Instead, he’s Lucien Gates, the fourth incarnation of The Ray since the character’s introduction in 1940 in Quality Comics’ Smash Comics #14.

The second Ray, Ray Terrill, was introduced in 1992 in a six-issue miniseries by Jack C. Harris and Joe Quesada before going on to star in a monthly series by Christopher Priest and Howard Porter. That title ran from 1994 to 1996, ending with Issue 28.

The Ray marks the second DC relaunch title for the prolific duo of Palmiotti and Gray, who last month concluded a 70-issue run on Jonah Hex: They take on the bounty hunter again in All-Star Western, which premieres Sept. 28. Igle most recently drew Supergirl for DC.

Trailer offers sneak peek at DC’s All-Star Western #1

Writer Justin Gray got in on the New 52 trailer action over the weekend with the premiere of a teaser for All-Star Western #1, which teams Jonah Hex collaborators Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti with The Spirit artist Moritat:

Even when Gotham City was just a one-horse town, crime was rampant – and things only get worse when bounty hunter Jonah Hex comes to town. Can Amadeus Arkham, a pioneer in criminal psychology, enlist Hex’s special brand of justice to help the Gotham Police Department track down a vicious serial killer? Find out in this new series from Hex writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, with lush artwork by Moritat (The Spirit)!

The 40-page All-Star Western #1 arrives in stores Sept. 28.

Food or Comics? | Vengeance, Flight, crossovers and more

Vengeance #1

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. We’re coming a little late today due to a power outage in my neck of the woods — due to a blackout, not because I spent the money for the electric bill on Flashpoint or Fear Itself tie-ins.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, my first pick off the shelf would be Vengeance #1 (Marvel, $3.99); I love Joe Casey, and especially when he’s given a long leash and room to play in a big universe. Seeing Nick Dragotta drawing this is an added bonus. Next up would be comics’ dueling summer blockbusters, Flashpoint #3 (DC, $3.99) and Fear Itself #4 (Marvel, $3.99). After that, I’d get the excellent Flashpoint: Batman, Knight of Vengeance #2 (DC, $2.99); when Azzarello is on the ball he’s great to read, and this seems to be that.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Jimmy Palmiotti

Trailblazer

Anytime I get to talk to Jimmy Palmiotti, we never lack for projects to discuss. I can’t prove it, but I am willing to bet Palmiotti came up with at least two new story ideas while in the midst of this email interview. This Wednesday, July 6, marks the release of Trailblazer, a 48-page full-color western science fiction comic book ($5.99 [Image]) that he co-wrote with Justin Gray and art by Jim Daly. As detailed in this recent CBR release coverage, Trailblazer is “about a hired killer who turns in evidence against an employer for the murder of the woman who raised him. The government must then shield their star informant by enacting Operation Trailblazer, a witness protection program that uses not only location but time travel as well in order to keep their charges safe. As the assassin adjusts to his new life in the old west, he soon finds that no matter when or where he is the future is dead set in coming back to haunt him.” If you buy the book via Comixology, the original script is included as a bonus.

Before discussing this new Image release, we talked a bit about the impressive Jonah Hex 70-issue run (please note, for more scoop on Palmiotti and Gray’s plans for the new All-Star Western series be sure to read CBR’s Jeffrey Renaud’s recent interview with the creators)–not to jump the gun though, as issue 69 goes on sale this Wednesday (with art by Jeff Lemire). Also our discussion delves into the Palmiotti/Gray team reuniting with artist Joseph Michael Linsner on the Claws II (a sequel to Marvel’s Black Cat/Wolverine 2006 team-up) miniseries, which amazingly enough also goes on sale this Wednesday (check out the CBR preview of the first issue). Go into a comic book store this Wednesday, and bottom line, you will have your pick of Palmiotti product to buy. Palmiotti’s passion for comics and his equal commitment to meeting deadlines are two things I’ve always admired about him and that shine through in this interview. As you’ll read at the end of the interview, Palmiotti is curious to know what characters fans would like to see him work on, so please be sure to let him know in the comments section.

Tim O’Shea: You and Jonah Hex have a heck of a future together (with All-Star Western), no doubt. But I really want to talk about how amazing it was that you and Justin successfully told Jonah Hex for 70 issues. How proud are you of that accomplishment?

Jimmy Palmiotti: Very proud…and proud of the excellent work of so many amazing artists along the way. Justin and I would celebrate each and every year we were on Jonah , thinking at any minute it could be the last, but the great crew at D.C. comics always believed in us and believed in our choices and seventy issues is a huge milestone. They believed in us so much that with the new 52 books, they let us continue too do what we do best. In our minds, issue one of All Star Western is another chapter in the characters life and we haven’t missed a beat. The good news is that we are going to have a lot of fun with the other western characters in the D.C. universe.

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DC relaunch scorecard: DCnU or DC No?

Green Lantern #1, by Dave Johnson

Although it seems like DC’s big relaunch announcement came out an eternity ago, it actually took the publisher less than two weeks to roll out the 52 titles and their creative teams for the big relaunch/reboot/overhaul coming in September. Now that the cats are out of their respective bags, I thought I’d see where various creators and characters will land after the reboot.

So I went back through DC’s August solicitations to see who was writing or drawing what, and tried to map everyone to their post-relaunch project — if they had one. However, looking at DC’s August solicitations, there seem to be several fill-in issues, so where appropriate I tried to map the most recent ongoing creative teams to their new projects (for instance, I consider Gail Simone and Jesus Saiz the regular creative team for Birds of Prey, even if they aren’t doing the last two issues before September hits). Keep in mind that I just went through the ongoing series and skipped over all the miniseries … of which there are a lot, what with Flashpoint winding up in August.

It’s also worth noting that although several creators didn’t appear in the “big 52″ announcements, that doesn’t mean their tenure with DC is necessarily over — some, like Frazer Irving, have said they have future projects that haven’t been announced. So I tried to note where creators have talked publicly about their post-relaunch plans with DC (or lack thereof, as the case may be). The same could probably be said for some of DC’s characters as well. Or, as Gail Simone said on Twitter: “Again, September is NOT THE END. There’s still plans for characters that we haven’t seen yet.”

So let’s get to it ….

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Jeff Lemire to draw Jonah Hex #69

From Jeff Lemire's cover to "Jonah Hex" #69

DC Comics announced this morning that award-winning cartoonist Jeff Lemire (Essex County, Sweet Tooth) will draw July’s Jonah Hex #69, adding his name to an impressive roster of artists that has already included the likes of Darwyn Cooke, J.H. Williams III, Eduardo Risso, Fiona Staples and Jordi Bernet. Collaborators Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray are, of course, writing the issue.

Check out Lemire’s full cover after the break.

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Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Joe the Barbarian #8

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Chris Arrant

$15:

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!

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Fans petition DC to collect The Monolith

Social networking has done a lot to bring people together on the internet, and comics are no different. Over on Facebook, several determined comics fans have banded together to petition DC Comics to collect The Monolith, a superhero series written by Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti that ran for 12 issues over the course of 2004 and 2005. Primarily illustrated by co-creator Phil Winslade, The Monolith followed a superheroic golem of the Jewish tradition and the granddaughter of one of the people responsible for his creation in the 1930s.

Although DC has yet to comment on it, co-creator Jimmy Palmiotti made a comment early on to the group’s Facebook wall, saying, “This page is hyterical [sic]!!! MONOLITH DOES NEED A TRADE!!!” Co-creator Phil Winslade, as well as several other comics creator have also chimed in, such as Steve Pugh, John McCrea and Joe Jusko.

Since the series’ final issue in March 2005, the Monolith has guest-starred in two subsequent series also written by Gray & Palmiotti — Hawkman #33 and Crisis Aftermath: The Battle for Blüdhaven.


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