Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
After the January Image Expo, Image Comics received some flak because most of the creators on stage were white men. On Wednesday, Publisher Eric Stephenson’s keynote address to the Image Expo held in conjunction with Comic-Con International included the following comments: “If we want to build a more diverse industry, though, if we want to develop a more diverse talent pool, then it is of utmost importance that we produce comics that appeal to as wide an audience as possible …”
That was said within the context of the historic gender disparity in comics, especially when looking at mainstream comics and the direct market. There’s more evidence than ever that the gender disparity in readership is no longer true; women are just as likely to read comics as men. If that’s true, then one would hope that just as many would be likely to attempt to make comics. That doesn’t seem to have come to pass in this corner of the industry, but Image announced a trio of upcoming releases that will hopefully start to shift the momentum in the right direction. If nothing else, these are among the most promising books to be announced at Image Expo, and they build on the gratifying surge in creator-owned comics.
In three short years, Image Comics has turned Image Expo into the first big comics event of the year. Interest in the publisher’s announcements has reached the point where I wish there were live-streaming video of the presentation. Maybe next year. For now, we have to settle with live coverage, which was still pretty fun. Image Expo didn’t disappoint: It seemed as if every title announced caught my interest. There are a few that stand out, however, so here are my Top 5 picks of the announcements that went above and beyond.
1. Image signs Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips to a five-year exclusive contract
The acclaimed collaborators have a perpetual green light at Image to do whatever they want for the next five years. That’s a big vote of confidence, and a real commitment to support Brubaker and Phillips. It must be quite a relief for them to not have to worry about crafting the perfect pitch and convincing someone to believe in their story. They just get to create. It’s an exciting arrangement, and one I hope will serve as a pilot program for others equally worthy.
The Once Upon a Time Machine anthology (featuring futuristic versions of classic fairy tales and legends) made our picks for what we’re most looking forward to in August, so it’s exciting to see some preview art start to appear. That’s Farel Dalrymple’s wraparound cover above. Below is a sample of Marian Churchland and Brandon Graham’s version of “The Little Mermaid” (courtesy of Graham). The anthology also has a Facebook page where other contributors are sharing snippets of their work.
UPDATE: Once Upon a Time Machine editor Andrew Carl sent us the final art for the anthology’s cover and we’ve updated the image. As Andrew explains, “It’s really only the painted details/colors that are different (and improved), but if nothing else it would certainly make Farel happier to see the complete piece that he’s proud of online.” We’re happy to oblige. The high res image is stunning and lets you see Dalrymple’s painting in close-up detail. Incidentally, this is the first time the final cover has been shared in public.
Organizations | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has named Alex Cox as its deputy director, responsible for oversight of the organization’s home office and fundraising program. Cox, who came to the CBLDF in 2010, previously served as development manager. [CBLDF]
Publishing | Marvel Talent Coordinator Bon Alimagno is leaving the publisher for a position at San Francisco-based software company The Apollo Group. Previously editor of Harris Comics, Alimagno handled freelance scheduling at Marvel, working with David Bogart, the publisher’s senior vice president of business affairs and talent management. [The Beat]
Graphic novels | The Texas Library Association posts its 2012 Maverick Graphic Novel Reading List of recommendations for tweens and teens. [Texas Library Association]
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, I’d start with Alpha Flight #1 ($3.99). I had mostly positive feelings about the prequel issue with the only negatives being a mixture of “that doesn’t look like Sasquatch” and some anxiety born from being used to disappointment from Alpha Flight books. Neither of which has anything to do with the people creating the next eight issues, so I’m looking forward to this in a way that I haven’t since John Byrne left the book. Next I’d grab Flashpoint: Grodd of War #1 ($2.99), because an all-out Gorilla Grodd comic sounds awesome. And then I’d give Godzilla: Gangsters and Goliaths #1 ($3.99) a shot to see how well IDW can manage two Godzilla comics at a time. They certainly managed the first one well. Finally, I’d pick up Mickey Mouse #309 ($3.99) because it’s a globe-trotting adventure with a ton of guest-stars, including my favorite: The Phantom Blot.
What do you get when you give a creative person too much free time? Sometimes it’s playing too many video games, while other times you might get an off-the-wall idea. Sometimes you might get both.
As an exercise, cartoonist Marian Churchland (Elephantmen, Beast, Madame Xanadu) is serializing her thoughts (and art!) on designing a video game — a video game with one goal in mind, to “please and amuse Marian.” Inspired by her recent time spent playing Final Fantasy XIV, this dream video game project is going under the title of The Crossing.
Here’s how Marian describes it:
The Crossing is an interim world, where the great heroes of earth arrive when they die, and through which they may pass in order to attempt to reach the land of the Gods. This will make more sense at length, and in a later post I’ll scribble the map over with more detailed locations, but for now I’ll keep it simple.
You might think of it as a world of gates. All the most bloodied heroes and warlords from human mythology arrive through those gates, and eventually they make their way (or not) to the farthest and most perilous gate, the crossing point to godhood.
Although only a week into the project, Churchland has posted maps, the game’s races and even items to find. Although no actual video game is expected to materialize, the idea of a cartoonist thinking in this way — world-building a story — is very interesting and evocative. Visit her blog for more details.