"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
Since making his comics debut in 2003 with IDW’s CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, the artist has gone on to draw more than 2,000 pages and covers for the publisher on titles ranging from Angel to Land of the Dead to Clive Barker’s The Great and Secret Show. However, Rodriguez is best known for his lengthy collaboration with author Joe Hill on the bestselling horror series Locke & Key.
“I’m deeply honored to start this new journey with my long term friends and partners from IDW Publishing. I’m excited, thrilled and thankful,” he said in a statement. “This is not only a major step in my professional career — over time, Ted Adams, Chris Ryall and everyone from the IDW team have become close friends of mine, making me feel part of a family. It’s both amazing and challenging to start this new stage in our creative collaborations, sharing a common vision: passion for art and comics, deep love for storytelling, high standards in personal and professional relationships. I hope to be able to give my very best in projects to come, and the few things we’ve already discussed hinted a path of amazing possibilities! It’s somehow overwhelming, it can’t get better than this.”
Rodriguez’s next IDW project is Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland, a collaboration with Eric Shanower announced last year at Comic-Con International. The eight-issue miniseries is scheduled to debut in August; an eight-page ashcan was distributed over the weekend at WonderCon.
In case you didn’t notice, Comic-Con International happened last weekend. As always, it was an epic affair with tons of announcements, stunts and surprises. Amid cannons firing, actors dressing up as themselves, and big movie plans, there were also a good number of genuine surprises from comics.
Usually I end up picking a winner of Comic-Con, but after Dynamite Entertainment flooded the air waves with announcements the days before the event, no one else seemed to stand out as the clear winner. It’s not that everyone slacked off, however: They brought a good variety of interesting and exciting projects, and a number of standout announcements made my ears perk up. So instead of declaring a winner, I’m going to run down my Top 6 Comic-Con surprises in comics.
Before I start, though, two publishers deserve a little recognition for serious contenders for the Comic-Con crown. Top Shelf Productions classed up the joint by bringing in Congressman John Lewis for the debut of his graphic novel, March: Book One with artist Nate Powell and co-writer Andrew Aydin. I have little doubt this trilogy will end up being a historic release with profound benefits for schools, libraries and organizations looking for a powerful teaching tool and first=person account of the Civil Rights Movement and non-violent resistance. Plus, come on, photos of Lewis meeting Neil deGrasse Tyson and Lou Ferrigno? Everybody else, just pack it up. Maybe not as much of a milestone, but IDW Publishing also deserves a nod for the pure quantity and variety of good-looking books announced.
OK, on with my list:
Age of Bronze creator Eric Shanower and Locke & Key artist Gabriel Rodriguez will produce a series for IDW Publishing based on Winsor McCay’s pioneering early 20th-century comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland.
Debuting in 1905, and unquestionably decades ahead of its time, the surreal Sunday strip initially followed the nightly dreams of a little boy named Nemo as he attempted to reach the realm of King Morpheus, who wanted him as a playmate for his daughter. Each installment ended with Nemo abruptly waking just as he was about to experience a mishap in dreamland. The strip, later retitled In the Land of Wonderful Dreams when it changed newspapers, ran until 1914 before being revived from 1924 to 1947. (ROBOT 6 contributor Chris Mautner provided an overview of McCay’s work in a March installment of “Comics College.”)
Titled Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland, the IDW series will launch next spring, with Nemo setting out on a new voyage. “However,” the publisher’s press release states, “everything else is different, even Nemo himself—in search of a new playmate for the princess of Slumberland, King Morpheus enlists the Candy Kid to help bring the latest playmate, our titular Nemo, into the dream realm. There, Nemo embarks on a visceral journey full of adventure and danger.”
“There are people like Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, Hayao Miyazaki and Winsor McCay that can grasp what dreams are made of, transform them, and share that with all of us,” Rodríguez said in a statement. “I think we’re lucky that McCay not only left us his wonderful stories, but also created a whole universe filled with windows opened for every one of us, inviting us to explore it, too. And Eric and I are taking the challenge, not trying to redo what he previously did, but trying to invite kids and adults from today to enjoy and have fun in of the Land of Wonderful Dreams.”