Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
It seems to me a Kickstarter for an Elaine Lee/Michael Kaluta project should be a no-brainer. And considering that in the first 24 hours of the Harry Palmer: Starstruck Kickstarter, close to half of the $44,000 goal was raised, I was not alone in thinking that way. At present, the Kickstarter, which started on April 2 (and ends May 2), has reached more than $35,000.
Kaluta agreed to an interview about the 176-page sci-fi noir graphic novell, which has been years in the making, and it proved fun to chat with the legendary artist on how he intends to marry 80 new pages with 60-some pages of existing material.
Tim O’Shea: This Kickstarter came within hundreds of dollars of making half of its goal within that first 24 hours. What was your reaction to see the project make such progress, so quickly?
Michael Kaluta: I was definitely gratified, and tried to be sanguine (I read books … sanguine … heh!), but, of course, the specter of getting almost to the goal and then having the Kickstarter stall looms large in my dreams… as it must for everyone hoping to go forward with their dream-project thanks to the Kickstarter approach. I’ll soldier on, clearing the drawing board for not only the new Harry Palmer pages, but for the Kickstarter reward drawings I’ll be doing when and if everything comes up roses.
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 only had $15, I’d walk out a happy camper despite only having one book, because that book is 20th Century Boys, Vol. 22 (Viz, $12.99). While your typical American comics fan may have no idea who Naoki Urasawa is, he is in my mind undoubtedly the best cartoonist working today. Twenty-two books in and he hasn’t let up, delivering comics’ example of long-run storytelling perfection a la Sopranos. Friend is one of the most terrifying villains I’ve seen in comics in some time, and the mad assemblage of childhood pals out to stop him are some of my most treasured fictional friends.
If I had $30, I’d come back to comic stores on an American tip, starting off with Godzilla: Half Century War #2 (IDW Publishing, $3.99) by James Stokoe. I missed this when the first issue came out, but since then I’ve found it and relished its pure cartooning chaos. The first issue was an ideal debut, and I’m interested to see Stokoe take Lt. Murakami to Vietman in the ’60s for the ongoing war on Godzilla. After that I’d get the satisfying chunk, Dark Horse Presents #16 (Dark Horse, $7.99). I’ve been repeating the same praises every month, so let me try to spin it differently. This new issue, I have little idea what’s in it besides the return of Crime Doesn’t Pay; there’s a new series by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray in it I have heard nothing about, but DHP has re-built its track record of excellence and I’m fine spending $7.99 sight unseen. My final pick would be Daredevil #18 (Marvel, 2.99). Chris Samnee is quite different than the original artists on the book, but is excelling with Mark Waid in a new way — and that’s good. Instead of aping what had gone before, Samnee assuredly gives us his own style that would make any true fan of art in comics smile.
Oh ,wait, I found some money. I know, I’ll buy Memorial, Vol. 1 (IDW, $24.99). I missed this in singles, and this hardcover looks like the perfect chance to me to make up for past mistakes. These covers by Michael WM Kaluta really get my heart beating, and I’ve been wanting to read more of Chris Roberson on his own. The preview on IDW’s website gives me the impression it’s got down-to-earth personality amidst a fantasy world, and reminds me of classic supernatural fiction like A Wrinkle in Time or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Wednesday marks the release of the second issue of writer Chris Roberson and artist Rich Ellis’ IDW miniseries Memorial, which centers on Em, a women recovering from amnesia only to have a magical shop with unique transportation abilities enter her life. The story also features a talking cat, an element that captured my interest (and as I learned, the cat talks like a comics associate of Roberson’s [your guess who it is as good as mine]). Last week I caught up with the Roberson and Ellis via email to explore their collaborative process. In addition to delving into the six-issue miniseries, I briefly learned about the advantage that Ellis finds in being part of Portland’s Periscope Studio. Once you’ve read the interview, avail yourself of IDW’s preview of Issue 1 and Roberson’s November interview with CBR’s Josie Campbell.
Tim O’Shea: In a recent CBR interview, Chris described this project as using “mythological tropes that are somewhat familiar but twisted.” Who had more fun twisting the tropes, Rich (from a visual perspective) or Chris (from a writing perspective)?
Chris Roberson: Rich may claim that he had more fun, but he’s clearly wrong, as I am having a BLAST.
Rich Ellis: If Chris is having more fun, then I am the person who benefits most from his enjoyment. The fun for me has been in the challenge of getting my head into the complex characters and wonderfully intricate world of Memorial.
This weekend Legendary Comics announced that Steve Niles and Mike Kaluta are working on a new graphic novel for the publisher, an adaptation of John Milton’s 17th-century poem Paradise Lost. The poem tells the Biblical story of Satan tempting Adam and Eve, and how the couple is eventually cast out of the Garden of Eden.
Now, over on the publisher’s website, they’ve revealed the first piece of artwork for the new book. No word on when it will appear. “It’ll be a while,” Kaluta said at the panel. “It’ll take more than seven days.
Saturday at the New York Comic Con brought news for the Avengers, Superman, Legendary Comics and … Disney’s Prep & Landing? Here’s a round-up of announcements from the show today.
• With a big, blockbuster Avengers movie scheduled for next May, Marvel announced a new ongoing series, Avengers Assemble, by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mark Bagley. The book will launch next March and will feature most of the Avengers featured in the movie — Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye and the Hulk. The first arc will feature the villainous group the Zodiac.
• Marvel also announced that writer Rick Remender and artist Gabriel Hardman will take over Secret Avengers with issue #21.1, adding new members and pitting them against a new Masters of Evil.
• At the Cup O’ Joe panel today, Marvel also announced a Disney/Marvel crossover — Prep & Landing: Mansion: Impossible. It features the elves from the Disney television special who prepare homes for the arrival of Santa Claus every Christmas eve — only this time they’re trying to break into Avengers Mansion to get it ready for Santa. Written by director Kevin Deters and drawn by story artist Joe Mateo, the story will run in the back of the Marvel Adventures books as well as Avengers #19 in November.
Comics | David Brothers argues that the problem with Miles Morales is that he is being defined as “the black Spider-Man” rather than simply “Spider-Man”: “Miles Morales is notable for being the first black Spider-Man, particularly in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, but it isn’t his blackness that makes him special. It’s the fact that he’s not Peter Parker. The fact that he’s half-black, half-Puerto Rican, (and how cool would it be if his dad was a dark skinned Puerto Rican and his mom was light skinned black?!), that it looks like he’s taking part in a lottery to get into a good school in the preview images, and that he’s thirteen years old is just sauce. It’s not the meal. It’s part of the meal, sure, but you do yourself and the character (or rather, the concept, what the character represents, or something, because we do not respect characters ’round these parts) a disservice by boiling him down to “black Spider-Man.” He’s so much more than that, judging by the press run Marvel just went on, that breaking him down to being the black Spider-Man is… it’s garbage, it’s lazy, it’s stupid.” [4thletter!]
Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Today’s special guest is Shannon Wheeler, New Yorker cartoonist and creator of the Eisner Award-winning comic book Too Much Coffee Man, Oil & Water, the Eisner-nominated I Thought You Would Be Funnier and the upcoming Grandpa Won’t Wake Up.
To see what Shannon and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
The Outlaw Prince, due out in April from Dark Horse, looks like a treat for fans of knights, swords, and the Middle Ages in general. It’s based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel The Outlaw of Torn, and features a prince who is kidnapped, taken away from his royal family, and trained in swordsmanship, becoming the most feared man in all of Britain. The graphic novel is written by Rob Hughes, who apparently expanded on Burroughs’ original, and illustrated in a very classic, almost 1930s style by Thomas Yeates (pencils, inks, colors), Michael Kaluta (pencils), and Lori Almeida (colors). Hughes has an Outlaw Prince website up that features a generous preview, and it’s well worth a look; the art is old school but vivid and lively.
Welcome once again to our weekly round of “What would you buy if your budget was limited?” — or, as we call it, Food or Comics? Every week we set certain hypothetical spending limits on ourselves and go through the agony of trying to determine what comes home and what stays on the shelves. So join Brigid Alverson, Chris Mautner, Kevin Melrose and me as we run down what comics we’d buy if we only had $15 and $30 to spend, as well as what we’d get if we had some “mad” money to splurge with.
This week we’re coming to you a day late, as comics won’t arrive in shops in the United States until tomorrow due to this past Monday’s big holiday. And check out Diamond’s full release list if you’d like to play along in our comments section.
If I had $15 …
Batman and Robin #14 ($2.99)
Glamourpuss #15 ($3)
Starstruck #13 ($3.99)
My three main purchases for the week. The one of note is the final issue of Elaine May and Michael Kaluta’s Starstruck. I have no idea if IDW plans on collecting the series or not, or if there are other Starstruck mini-series in the works (I’m guessing not; my Spidey-sense tells me that the series wasn’t a solid seller for the company), but if this is the end (at least for now), I’m grateful to IDW for taking a chance and introducing me to what can only be described as an utterly dense and utterly unique comics-reading experience.
When I got a look at IDW’s first remastered issue of Elaine Lee and Michael Kaluta’s Starstruck, I immediately wanted to talk to Lee about the story’s return. In doing the email interview, I wanted to get an idea of the creative processes involved (for the comic, as well as related theater and audio productions) and some of her thoughts regarding the remastering of the work. My thanks to Lee for her insight, as well as IDW Special Projects Editor Scott Dunbier and IDW’s AnnaMaria White for helping make this interview possible.
Tim O’Shea: Back in the 1980s when you and Kaluta originally developed this comic, it seems like you were among the first to attempt a multimedia concept–You were able to take a play and adapt it to a comic book. How challenging was it to pull off, given that you were taking comics into seemingly uncharted territory?
Elaine Lee: I guess we weren’t really thinking about taking comics into uncharted territory. We were just thinking about telling the story we wanted to tell and having a good time doing it!
We never tried to adapt the actual play. The action of the play takes place on two ships out in space, over maybe a day’s time. Not enough scope for a comic series. And any play has much more dialogue than even the wordiest comic, so it wouldn’t translate very well. But in the play, each character had a big monologue, wherein he or she described events that happened in his or her past. We first envisioned Starstruck as a series of vignettes that related these stories from the characters’ pasts. Later, we would add the material that linked all these events together.
If Michael and I were influenced by anyone working in comics, it would’ve been the European artists, like Moebius and Enki Bilal, whose work was appearing in Heavy Metal at the time. And in fact, Starstruck was published in Europe before it was published here in the States, serialized in magazines in France and Spain. They weren’t publishing much unusual material in the US at the time. But we always had an American sensibility and both the play and the comic were greatly influenced by old American science fiction movies and TV series, the stuff that came out between the forties and the sixties, from the old Buck Rogers serials and Rocky Jones Space Ranger, to Star Trek and Lost in Space, Queen of Outer Space and Barbarella. We lifted themes, archetypes and settings from classic sci-fi and tried to drop into them flawed characters with real human problems.