At the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo this year, I had the opportunity to meet Shawn and Matt Fillbach, who are best known for their eight-year run illustrating the Star Wars: The Clone Wars graphic novels for Dark Horse. They have since struck out on their own and have spent the past year writing and illustrating an impressive stack of books. The Fillbach Brothers aren’t twins, but as you’ll see from the interview, they act like it; they work together so closely they can’t really say who does what, and as Matt puts it, “We think with one brain.”
In Chicago, the brothers showed me the art for the graphic novel they had just finished, Macabro Demondio, which stars their character Jim Kowalski, paranormal trucker (first seen in their 2009 graphic novel Roadkill). Jim is the guy who cleans up after the big paranormal events; he follows the Department of Paranormal Experts and picks up the chupacabras, the artifacts, the space aliens, and brings them back to headquarters (there’s also a squad of gnomes that performs the site cleanup). “We were more interested in telling the story of the guy who isn’t the hero,” Shawn told me. “It’s very much inspired by stuff like Big Trouble in Little China.”
Since then, the Fillbachs have kept busy. They have six graphic novels either finished or in progress; all are slated to be published by First Comics, and they are giving Robot 6 readers an exclusive sneak peek.
Legal | Don MacPherson, who covers the courts for his daily newspaper, updates the case of Josue Rivera, aka comic artist Justiniano, who pleaded not guilty in May 2011 to charges of possessing more than 100 photographs and videos containing child pornography. Rivera was arrested in Connecticut following a July 2010 incident in which police say he mistakenly gave a funeral home director a thumb drive containing 33 files classified as child pornography instead of the one containing photos of a deceased relative. Police later seized Rivera’s computer and found 153 files of suspected child pornography. A judge has denied a motion to suppress the thumb drive, which Rivera’s attorney had argued was obtained by police through an illegal, warrantless search. However, the judge ruled the search valid, as the material on the drive was brought to the attention of the police by a third party, the funeral home. MacPherson’s summary of court documents provides more details on the case. [Eye on Comics]
…at least that’s how Larry Young’s son described it when he saw the above piece that The Boys artist Darick Robertson drew for Young. Click over to Young’s blog for more on how the piece came about and the cute story around how his son ended up with it in his room.
Digital | Archie Comics will begin selling its comics through its Facebook page, which connects readers with Graphicly. With almost 120,000 fans, the page does seem like fertile ground. “It’s really a major move toward connecting the potential reader to the product,” said Archie Co-CEO Jon Goldwater. “We make it easy and hopefully create a new, lasting part of our fan base.” [The Huffington Post]
Retailing | Matthew Price takes the temperature in the room at ComicsPRO and says that retailers want stability — they credit the consistent shipping schedule for the New 52 for part of that line’s success — and creativity. The overall mood seemed to be optimism, with Diamond Comic Distributors reporting that comics sales were up slightly in 2011. [NewsOK.com]
Yesterday we learned by way of the San Diego Comic-Con Thursday panel schedule that First Comics, a hallmark of 1980s independent comic book publishing, is returning. According to the write-up for the panel:
First Comics: The First of the Great Independents Is Back with a Fury!— Legendary ’80s independent publishing powerhouse First Comics is returning when the world needs it most, not unlike the promised return of King Arthur. And the assembled Round Table of extraordinary comics creators are here to tell you how they will once again be rocking your world with comics entertainment from the cutting edge. Panelists include Ken F. Levin (Wanted, The Boys, First Comics co-founder and director), Joe Staton and Nick Cuti (E-Man), Bill Willingham (Fables), Max Allan Collins (Road to Perdition), Brian Mullens (founder of DaQRi; QR director), Alex Wald (art director then and again), Susannah Carson (A Truth Universally Acknowledged; First Comics YA editor), and Daniel Merlin Goodbrey (The Tarquin Engine, The Last Sane Cowboy). Moderated by Larry Young (The Black Diamond; First Comics director of production). Room 23ABC
As noted in the description, several on the panel were involved with First Comics back in the 1980s; others, like Willingham and Collins, were involved in making prominent independent comics at the time (Collins created Ms. Tree, published by Eclipse and other companies, while Willingham created Elementals, published by Comico). And there are new faces, like Goodbrey and Young. Goodbrey stated on his blog that his webcomic Necessary Monsters would be involved. And Young, publisher of AiT/Planet Lar, will serve as director of production for the returning company.
I caught up with Young, who answered a few questions about First’s return.
Apparently so, according to the just-released Thursday panel schedule for Comic-Con International:
5:00-6:00 First Comics: The First of the Great Independents Is Back with a Fury!— Legendary ’80s independent publishing powerhouse First Comics is returning when the world needs it most, not unlike the promised return of King Arthur. And the assembled Round Table of extraordinary comics creators are here to tell you how they will once again be rocking your world with comics entertainment from the cutting edge. Panelists include Ken F. Levin (Wanted, The Boys, First Comics co-founder and director), Joe Staton and Nick Cuti (E-Man), Bill Willingham (Fables), Max Allan Collins (Road to Perdition), Brian Mullens (founder of DaQRi; QR director), Alex Wald (art director then and again), Susannah Carson (A Truth Universally Acknowledged; First Comics YA editor), and Daniel Merlin Goodbrey (The Tarquin Engine, The Last Sane Cowboy). Moderated by Larry Young (The Black Diamond; First Comics director of production). Room 23ABC
First Comics was an independent comics company that published titles like Dreadstar, E-Man, Jon Sable, Badger, Nexus, Grimjack , American Flagg! and other titles back in the 1980s. It’s an interesting mix of folks on the panel, including several names that were associated with First back in the 1980s.
Variety reports that Kickstart Comics, an imprint of Netter’s film and TV company Kickstart Entertainment, will be overseen by prolific writer/artist Jimmy Palmiotti and AiT/PlanetLar owner Larry Young. The Hollywood trade also said the company has already entered into distribution pact with several major retailers, including Walmart, to produce at least 24 new books over a year. The initial plan is to release four books a month for six months starting this fall.
“This is a way to introduce comic books to a broader audience,” Netter told the trade.
Read the full story over at Variety for more. As they say, this one is developing …
Update: I asked Young about the announcement, and he responded: “At AiT, we’ve worked with Jason at Kickstart for many years. Loved shooting the NOBODY pilot for ABC Family up in Vancouver with him, and we have very similar sensibilities when it comes to graphic novels, so I’m really looking forward to helping the Kickstart team bring a mainstream entertainment experience to comics.”
And from Palmiotti: “I have been working with Jason and Samantha for years since they sold Painkiller Jane to sci-fi and have been writing books for them as well like Back to Brooklyn, and Random Acts of Violence. They asked me to freelance edit some books for them and help them along the way and its been great ever since. I am still writing for them, as well, they are out selling my properties like The Pro and Ballerina and we have enjoyed a great working relationship together.”
Update 2: Here’s the company’s website, which features preview art for upcoming books like Bombhead by B. Clay Moore and Kevin Mellon; Mirror, Mirror by Joshua Williamson and Lee Moder; and Hero Complex by Adam Freeman, Marc Bernardin and Javi Fernandez.