Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
Although Saturday at Comic-Con International was dominated by movies and television — led by Warner Bros. Pictures, Marvel Studios and Legendary Pictures — there was still room for plenty of comics news. First and foremost, the announcement of Marvel’s Star Wars plans.
That line, telling canonical stories set between the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, launches in January with Star Wars, by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday, followed in February by Star Wars: Darth Vader, by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca with covers by Adi Granov, and in March by the miniseries Star Wars: Princess Leia, by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson.
“What’s great about this time period is that all the characters are kind of on the table,” Aaron told CBR News. “Of course this is still early on and these people have pretty much just met each and just come together. So they’re still finding their place within this group and sort of figuring out their relationships with each other. Then there’s the fact that when you look at the gap between Episode IV and Episode V there’s some pretty major beats that happen off screen. So this gives up the opportunity to grab those beats and lay them down as part of the same canon as the movies.”
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.
If I had $15, this ever-lovin’ comics fan would first pick out Dark Horse Presents #12 (Dark Horse, $7.99). First off: John Layman and Sam Kieth doing an Aliens story, can you believe that? That debut, coupled with the return of Mike Baron and Steve Rude’s Nexus, makes this another DHP worth buying. After that, I’d jump into Prophet #25 (Image, $2.99) to see Brandon Graham’s rollicking story with special guest artist Farel Dalrymple. The creators lined up on this Extreme Comics revival continue to impress me, and I’m excited to see new work by Dalrymple here. Third up would be Secret Avengers #27 (Marvel, $3.99), and I’m all hyped up to see how Rick Remender handles the touchy subject of Marvel’s original Captain Marvel. As for the artist, I’m still waiting for Renato Guedes to wow me the way he did before he jumped from DC to Marvel; the previews for this show some promise, so I’m excited to see the entire package.
If I had $30, I’d double back to get the return of Batman Incorporated #1 (DC, $2.99). Grant Morrison’s schedule, along with the New 52, seemed to harpoon this title last year, but I’m hoping this is some attempt to right that ship. Next up would be Fantastic Four #606 (Marvel, $2.99), seeing Jonathan Hickman come full circle as his run nears conclusion by going back to where the FF started: with four people in space suits. Ron Garney is an interesting choice to draw this one, and his take on the Thing is right up there with Stuart Immonen’s. Last up would be Irredeemable #37 (BOOM! Studios, $3.99). I admit I switched to trades a couple issues ago, but I’m jumping back in — spoilers be damned — to find out the end to this story. I’m a little bit morose that artist Peter Krause isn’t the one drawing the finale given all he put into this, but Diego Barretto is an able artist to draw what Waid has set out for this final issue. Oh, hey, I’ve got $5.06 left so I’ll live up to the the title of this Robot 6 feature and get some food: a hot dog from Voodoo Dogs in Tallahassee. Have you seen their new commercial?
If I could splurge, I’d finish eating my hot dog and pick up Comic Book History of Comics (IDW Publishing, $21.99). I’ve failed at life when I couldn’t track down all six of these issues on my own, but IDW offering it all up in one package saves me from that level of hell. Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey have put on a master class here in doing bio comics, especially bio comics about comics, and as a journalist, comics fan and would be comics writer myself this hits all the right spots for an engrossing read.
Jim Zubkavich got plenty of buzz for his comic Skullkickers when it was just in print, but now that he is running the early chapters on Keenspot as a free webcomic, it’s really a hot ticket: One month after the comic debuted on Keenspot, his traffic has reached over half a million page views from over 38,000 viewers.
As you will see below, Zubkavich is not afraid to talk real numbers, and we quizzed him on why he would take a hit comic and put it on the internet for free and how his other online comic, Makeshift Miracle, is working out. In part two of this interview, we’ll ask about his newest project, Shifty Look.
Robot 6: Skullkickers has gotten all sorts of critical acclaim, and I assume it has sold well in its print incarnation. Why did you decide to put it online? And why at Keenspot, as opposed to your own site?
Jim Zubkavich: No matter how well Skullkickers has done as indy creator-owned comic, the unfortunate reality of the print comic business and retail system in 2012 is that once the series is running, it’s incredibly hard to keep growing the audience on monthly issues. Some readers you started with convert to trades, others move on. The reading audience nowadays is less likely to jump in to a random issue and start from there unless you give them an easy way to catch up. Serializing our earlier issues online is the equivalent of lending thousands of new readers our earliest adventures as a way to get them on board the Skullkickers concept.
Keenspot has a massive loyal online audience that consistently reads webcomics. They have great outreach and experience in building that audience, along with a solid ad revenue system in place thanks to the tens of millions of pageviews their combined sites get each month.
Instead of starting from scratch and spending my time trying to find people, Keenspot allowed me to get the site running and in front of a huge group of potential readers who are primed for the type of content we’re doing. That way I can focus on making great comics. It’s not a turnkey solution and there is upkeep and interaction, but a lot of the infrastructure and outreach is taken care of. I wouldn’t have that kind of impact on my own site, not without a massive outlay of time and extra money.
Jim Zubkavich, the writer of Skullkickers and an editor at comics publisher UDON Entertainment, relaunched his webcomic Makeshift Miracle a few weeks ago with a revised story and new art. I interviewed Jim about the comic back then, but the artist, Shun Hong Chan, is from Hong Kong and doesn’t speak English.
Jim solved that problem by interviewing Hong himself with his boss, Erik Ko, who also speaks Chinese, acting as translator. He offered to share the interview with Robot 6 readers along with some exclusive teaser art—how could we say no? I was particularly intrigued by Hong’s description of how comics artists work in Hong Kong—it sounds like an assembly-line version of an Exquisite Corpse.
Jim: It’s been a thrill working with you on Makeshift and I’m excited to give readers a better idea of who you are and the passion you bring to your work. Can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers? Where were you born? When did you join the comic industry and what are some of your past creations?
Creators | Eighty-four-year-old artist Albert Uderzo, who created Asterix the Gaul in 1959 with writer René Goscinny, has announced he’s retiring, saying he’s “a bit tired” after 52 years of drawing. The news came as publisher Hachette celebrated the sale of 350 million Asterix books worldwide. Uderzo, who took over writing after the death of Goscinny in 1977, said he has found an as-yet-unnamed successor to continue his legacy, beginning with a new book planned for release in late 2012. [Reuters, BBC News]
Passings | Italian comics writer and publisher Sergio Bonelli, whose company Sergio Bonelli Editore (formerly CEPIM) releases such titles as Dylan Dog and Nathan Never, passed away Monday in Milan. He was 79. [UPI]
Legal | A witness testified Monday in Michael George’s murder trial that she heard the defendant and his first wife Barbara George have a particularly heated argument in their Clinton Township, Michigan, comic store on July 13, 1990, only hours before Barbara was shot and killed. [Detroit Free Press]
Jim Zubkavich, writer of Skullkickers, sent out a couple of teasers this week for Makeshift Miracle, a fantasy comic that was serialized online from 2001-2003.
“The Makeshift Miracle was a graphic novel serialized online from September 2001 through to March 2003. This month is the 10th anniversary of the first chapter and we’ve got big plans for celebrating that milestone,” Zubkavich posted on the book’s site. UDON published it in book form in 2006, and now a new webcomic will launch next week with art by by Shun Hong Chan.
Check out the second teaser after the jump.