EXCLUSIVE: "Gargoyles" Co-Creator & "Archer" Artist Launch Marvel's "Starbrand & Nightmask"
With April sales numbers released from Diamond Comic Distributors, a subtle pattern has revealed itself: Dark Horse has reclaimed its position as fourth-largest publisher from IDW Publishing for three months straight. It’s a streak of growth in market and dollar share that hasn’t happened for Dark Horse since fall 2011.
It’s great news for an industry mainstay that seemed to be getting eclipsed by the younger IDW at its own game of mixing licensed properties with creator-owned titles. Whether it’s temporary or not, digging into the sales charts, it’s clear there’s more stability in Dark Horse’s catalog than there might first seem.
Obviously Star Wars is the property many know the company for, and when it was announced the license would move at the end of this year to Marvel, some worried how Dark Horse would carry on. However, most publishers realize that no license is forever, so Dark Horse has built a diverse library that seems to be lifting it up now. Despite such diversifying, Star Wars is still the big seller at comic shops, but it’s only the beginning. The back-to-back launch of The Star Wars, a comics adaptation of an early draft of George Lucas’ screenplay, and a back-to-basics Star Wars by Brian Wood provided two accessible titles; if you’d ever seen the original Star Wars trilogy, you’re all set. The last issue of The Star Wars comes out later this month, with a collection in both hardcover and softcover to follow in July.
Legal | Signe Wilkinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, has been named in a defamation lawsuit filed against the newspapers by Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery and his wife Lise Rapaport. The judge and his wife accuse the two papers of running a smear campaign against them, and the suit specifically mentions a Wilkinson cartoon satirizing their marital and work relationship (it’s complicated). Blogger Alan Gardner adds that he hasn’t been able to find a case in which a cartoonist was successfully sued for defamation, although in this case the newspapers’ reporting is part of the issue as well. [Philadelphia, The Daily Cartoonist]
“It is dreadful. But, this is what happens: You get better with time. I actually have been looking at it the last couple of days because I’m writing something where I have to reference things that happen in that first issue. The voice isn’t there. John [Byrne] and I had a completely different take on what the writing should be like on it. We didn’t have different ideas from each other, but together we’d agreed on this approach to the writing of it. It worked fine, but I realized after doing it that it wasn’t the book I had in mind.
It’s pretty primitive, and yet it does present all my ideas. It’s not like at some point I said, ‘Oh, we’ve gotta ignore everything that’s gone before!’ It’s one of the things I’m proudest of looking at 20 years worth of this stuff. I didn’t write myself into any corners, I didn’t have to hit any reset buttons, I’m still referencing things that are in these first couple issues of Hellboy. To some extent, I got it right right out of the bat story-wise. It’s the way it’s drawn and colored, all that stuff has gotten radically refined.
— Mike Mignola, reflecting on Hellboy: Seed of Destruction #1, released in March 1994. The 20th anniversary of that first issue will be celebrated Saturday worldwide with Hellboy Day. You can see the list of participating retailers at the link.
I knew that Saturday is Hellboy Day, with events held around the globe to mark the 20th anniversary of the release of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy: Seed of Destruction #1 — but nobody told me there would be chocolate!
Pop Candy has the details about the limited-edition series of Hellboy chocolates, designed by renowned chocolatier Richard Ruskell, and featuring wrapper art by Mignola and names like Abe Sapien Sea Salt Bar, “Taste the Justice” Lobster Johnson Bar and Hellboy Inferno.
They’ll be available Saturday during the Hellboy Day event at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles, and afterward at Sweet! Hollywood.
“I know there’s a certain appeal for creators to work on the classic characters like Batman, Superman and Spider-Man, but I’ve said this before: I asked creators who have worked on those books who the people were doing the books ten years ago, and they don’t know! But I can say, ‘Who worked on Sin City?’ and they’ll go ‘Frank Miller.’ Who worked on Hellboy? Mike Mignola. Who worked on The Goon? Eric Powell. They know it instantly. So to me, the lure of creating your own character and owning it — owning your own universe and being associated with that — in the long run for talented writers and artists makes me question why someone would toil away on a company owned character for years and years of their lives.”
– Dark Horse founder Mike Richardson, discussing his company’s commitment to publishing creator-owned work
We featured The Mortal Vintner and its Mike Mignola-designed wine labels last year, and now the Dayton, Washington-based winery are releasing the “Skeleton Head” wine en primeur via its webstore for 10 days only. But you do get a 20-percent discount during that period. I notice buying the magnum gets you a little more Mignola art in the border.
This was a tough year for Boston Comic Con: It was originally scheduled for the weekend after the Boston Marathon, and although organizers worked tirelessly not to cancel the event, the venue was within the lockdown zone following the bombings, and the load-in day coincided with the massive manhunt forsuspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. In the end, they had no choice but to shut down the convention. As most of the talent was already in town, local retailers sponsored a number of mini-cons.
Despite the cheerful we-can-get-through-this attitude of that weekend, things were looking pretty bleak. And then Boston Comic Con came roaring back, in a new venue and with a new attitude. This year, it felt less like a local event and more like a big-city con, with a smattering of publisher booths and an array of top-tier talent. The convention has grown quickly, from 1,000 attendees at the first con in 2007 to 15,000 last year. This year, with a bigger venue and more guests, I’m guessing the final number will be even higher.
It’s tough to imagine a better way to celebrate two horror movies by writer and director Guillermo del Toro than with art by Mike Mignola, Guy Davis and Dave Stewart.
As part of its collaboration with The Criterion Collection, Mondo has commissioned stunning new artwork for the filmmaker’s 1993 feature debut Cronos from Mignola and Stewart, and for 2001’s The Devil’s Backbone, from Davis. Del Toro of course has a history with the two illustrators: He worked with Mignola on Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army, while Davis provided monster designs for Pacific Rim.
Limited-edition, hand-numbered screen prints of each piece will go on sale Wednesday for $45 each. As usual, you must follow Mondo’s Twitter account to learn the times of the sale. You can see details of the prints on the Mondo blog.
Jason Latour, artist on the Mignola-verse titles Sledgehammer 44 and B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Pickens County Horror, has posted the image below to his blog, and it’s a doozy. His work on those two Hellboy spinoffs has been under-praised, pitched perfectly between the contributions made to Dark Horse’s flagship line by the likes of Guy Davis and Duncan Fegredo. This composition was produced as badge designs and
program cover an exclusive print for this year’s HeroesCon, which as Latour points out, has been an ambition of his for most of his life. That’s another one scratched off the bucket list.
Close-ups of several of these panels can be seen at Latour’s Instagram feed, in various stages of completion. He’s on something of a hot streak as an artist and a writer these last couple of years. I don’t buy that many Marvel comics these days, but his presence on Winter Soldier sold it to me. I’ll miss it, but here’s hoping he makes his way back to Dark Horse for more digging around in Mignola’s sandbox.
Ever heard of digital publisher Dog Boy Productions? Neither had I until I saw these earlier: Mike Mignola’s cover designs for a new edition of Carlo Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio, and Scott Mignola’s Pinocchio’s Forgotten Land.
Digging about, it seems that Dog Boy was set up by Scott Mignola as “a small boutique publisher of new, rare, and out-of-print material in digital form.” Sounds promising, and having one of the greatest illustrators of a generation in the family can’t hurt, either. The pencils for the cover of the Collodi book can also be seen below.
To see what James and the Robot 6 crew are reading, click below …
As unlikely as it may seem, the Guardians of the Galaxy are poised to be the next Marvel team to get a tent-pole movie, following The Avengers (me, I was hoping for a Champions movie, as all but Hercules have been previously introduced in movies*).
The publisher has turned to Avengers-rehabilitation expert Brian Michael Bendis to write a new Guardians of the Galaxy series, and after teasing them in the first arc of Avengers Assemble, the comic featuring the cast from the Avengers movie, the writer is all set to launch a new Guardians monthly, penciled by Civil War artist Steve McNiven.
The title kicked off Wednesday with its first issue, Guardians of the Galaxy #0.1 (market research apparently revealed that comics buyers are more attracted to decimal points than either the number 1 or even 0), and it isn’t a bad read at all.
It’s the origin of Peter “Star-Lord” Quill, and while the story is essentially one character telling another his history, Bendis, McNiven & Co. depict it as a regular comic, rather than a long, dull conversation, as Bendis is often in the habit of doing. The last two pages reveal the cast.
And who, exactly, is this cast, and where did they come from? Based on the sales of the previous volume of Guardians of the Galaxy vs. sales of your average Bendis or McNiven comic, I imagine a lot of folks will be reading the new series without knowing much of that. And, as always, I think it’s worth keeping in mind who created these characters and how long ago (none of them are any newer than 1976, if you’re wondering).
So let’s take a look at your new Guardians of the Galaxy, shall we?
Awards | The National Cartoonists Society initiated a webcomics award last year, and this year the organization is splitting it in two, one for short-form works and one for long-form. The challenge with including webcomics, says NCS President Tom Richardson, is that to be eligible, creators must make the majority of their money from cartooning. “That isn’t an easy thing to quantify anymore. With online comics, we need to take into account site traffic, professionalism in consistent and regular publication, online community activity and other factors that are the hallmark of professional online work,” he says. “In some cases, it’s pretty obvious the creator is making a career out of cartooning. In some, it’s not so obvious.” [Comic Riffs]
Cast your mind back to when you first heard Mike Mignola was giving up art duties on Hellboy to allow the title to come out with more frequency. Remember that feeling. Now remember how surprisingly conflicted you felt when you heard he was coming back to drawing the comic, after his substitute Duncan Fegredo had illustrated it so ably for five years, during what proved to be among the greatest sequence of stories in the character’s history.
Now, of course, we have the best of both worlds: Mignola is guiding his signature creation through the lands of his origin in Hellboy in Hell, and Duncan Fegredo is working on an original graphic novel, The Midnight Circus, featuring a young Hellboy when he was a pancake-guzzling lad living on an Air Force base in New Mexico, in the care of Professor Trevor Bruttenholm. The book is due “in the later half of 2013″ after some delays (Fegredo reports “the book would have been completed ages back but I had the opportunity to storyboard an unnamed movie”).
He sent to ROBOT 6 some “cryptic edits” of the boisterous lil’ hellion in action. It looks typically great: Here’s an early glimpse at what will probably prove to be many people’s book of 2013.
Abe Sapien had a rough 2012, having spent much of the year in a coma. But 2013 doesn’t look to be any easier for the B.P.R.D. agent — as it’s set to be both dark and terrible.
“He’d spent some time out of action as a field agent, and then got back involved in time to see Liz Sherman ignite the center of the world, releasing monsters and all sorts of other problems across the surface of the earth,” Dark Horse Editor-in-Chief Scott Allie said about Abe’s activities pre-coma. “He and the rest of the B.P.R.D. crew launched into action, fighting monsters all over, and eventually Abe was taken out by a young psychic girl during a mission in Texas. Since Abe’s been in the coma, in a life-support cocoon, his body has been changing …”
His story will continue with Abe Sapien: The Dark and Terrible, a new series written by Mike Mignola and Allie and illustrated by Sebastian Fiumara (Loki, Mystery in Space). Debuting April 3, the comic is the first issue of a “maxi-series” that will follow Abe as he travels across America, on the run from the B.P.R.D., as monsters continue to wreak havoc on the country — and as his own body continues to change in frightening ways.
I spoke with co-writer Allie about this new chapter in Abe’s story, and what it’s like to collaborate with Mignola.