Northlanders Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources

Brian Wood teases new title in the footsteps of ‘Northlanders’

Brian-Wood-X

In 2007 Brian Wood led a proverbial raiding party of Vikings into the comics landscape with the Vertigo series Northlanders, which was canceled in 2012 after 50 issues. But now Wood is plotting a return to the history books and the battlefields, only not at the DC Comics imprint.

In a blog post titled “On Vikings — or lack thereof,” Wood explains he always planned to revisit Northlanders given the intense research and unpublished stories. But when it came time to working it up, something happened.

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Lee and Boultwood’s Viking comic landed too late for the raid

shieldmaidenImage-banner

Like with the pulp space pitch the other day, Tony Lee has shared several other failed pitches on his Twitter feed (#ForgottenPitch). I’ll leave most of them for you to discover yourself (there are lots of wonderful ideas on show), but Shieldmaiden caught my eye for a couple of reasons: First, it would have been drawn by Dan Boultwood, creator of the current series It Came! that I’m enjoying so very much. And second, Vikings.

Sadly, it was the Vikings that killed the comic before it began. Lee pitched the idea in 2011, the year that Vertigo canceled Brian Wood’s Northlanders. Ivan Brandon’s Image series Viking had ended prematurely the year before after only one story arc. So, when Lee was told that no one wanted new Viking comics, publishers had some evidence to back that up.

Still, Lee and Boultwood had a different take from the realistic comics by Wood and Brandon. Shieldmaiden would have included a mythological element as a young woman led her clan in battle against the gods during Ragnarok. That, plus Boultwood’s art, makes me wish it could have found a home.

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Six by 6 | Stopping for books on a snowy evening

I live north of Boston, and as I write, my front door is snowed shut (don’t worry, the neighbor kid is shoveling it out) and my car is immobilized behind a large berm of snow. The nameless blizzard of ’13 didn’t wreak any major damage in my area, but I’m going to be staying in for a while.

This doesn’t bother me; I grew up in Northern Indiana, where you could count on being completely snowed in at least once a winter, and we sort of liked it. It clears a space in your life; when you can’t go out and most of the activity in the outside world has stopped, it’s a great time to light a fire, pour the drink of your choice (for me it’s hot tea) and hunker down with a good book. Here are six graphic novels that evoke that winter feeling, all of which are equally enjoyable whether you are reading them by a snowy window or on the beach.

Chikyu Misaki | This three-volume manga, published many years ago by the now-defunct CMX, is a charming all-ages story about two children who find a shape-shifting lake monster in their country town. It’s structured like a caper movie, but one of the things I really enjoy about it is Yūji Iwahara’s wonderful art, which perfectly evokes the feeling of a country house on a snowy day. You’ll have to pick it up used or from the library, though, as it’s long out of print.

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Conversing on Comics with Brian Wood

This has been a year of change in comics — for creators, for individual titles, for companies and for the industry at large. For Brian Wood, it was professionally one of his most volatile years since he quit his day job as a designer to work in comics full-time. It saw Wood end his twin creator-owned titles at Vertigo (DMZ and Northlanders), end his exclusive contract with DC Comics, and begin a new era mixing creator-owned with an unprecedented (for him) number of work-for-hire books

As we stand on the edge of this year and peer into the next, Wood is looking to build on 2012 projects like Conan the Barbarian, The Massive and Ultimate Comics X-Men with a new creator-owned series, Mara, debuting next week from Image Comics, and then on Jan. 9 launching his highest-profile project to date: Star Wars, a highly anticipated Dark Horse monthly set between the events of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back and featuring familiar characters like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo. Brian Wood Month redux? Perhaps.

Comic Book Resources has interviewed Wood about each of his upcoming projects, so in this conversation I’m able to focus on the big picture, addressing his career and the context of his projects. Wood and I discuss changes at DC that led to his departure, what could have been had he stayed, and his plans both inside and outside of comics.

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Brian Wood reveals ‘near misses’ from his time at DC Comics

Brian Wood is nothing if not full of ideas. And in the middle of some housekeeping, he found pitches and proposals he wrote during his tenure at DC Comics. Although Wood’s time at at the publisher was best known for his creator-owned titles like DMZ and Northlanders, he did do some great work-for-hire like DV8: Gods & Monsters, and as it turns out, was in talks at various points tackle characters ranging from Superman to Catwoman to Green Arrow. Wood, who was interviewed this morning at Comic Book Resources about his Dark Horse work, wrote little write-ups on each of these nine projects, including this morsel:

8. Gotham: Neighborhood Rebellion aka Catwoman Year 100 – When Bob Schreck was at DC, he asked me to pitch a few things, and I did, and none of them got past the first draft pitch stage.  This was one of them, a far flung future crime story featuring a young girl named Nomi Blume (I’ve since used that name in Ultimate X-Men for the Mach Two character… cuz nothing goes to waste).  The other pitches I can’t locate.

The veteran of creator-owned titles also had some more of those projects in the works, including a downright invigorating project with Jamie McKelvie that sadly never happened. He also had a 15th-century period that may find a second life outside of DC.

9 QC (short for Quattrocento) – a Vertigo miniseries about inventors and secret societies and musical prodigies in 15th century Italy, with the same darker tone that Northlanders has.  This is still in my “active” file, and I hope to get it out there someday.

Publishers, get out your checkbook and give this man a call, please.

 

The legacy of Karen Berger and Vertigo

The news of Karen Berger leaving Vertigo spread quickly. It wasn’t so much that it was a surprise, but that it finally happened. DC Comics Entertainment has been going through significant changes over the past couple of years, including grabbing characters long associated with Vertigo and returning them to the DC Universe, and rumored changes to creator contracts. Despite the unfortunate end, Berger leaves behind an amazing legacy no matter what becomes of the nearly 20-year-old imprint.

I have a very clear memory of high school in the 1990s where kids much cooler than me were reading The Sandman. These were kids who otherwise didn’t read comics, and certainly not the superhero stuff from Marvel and DC. This was not an isolated incident. Vertigo in the ’90s brought a new audience to comics, a maturing audience with interests in horror, fantasy, suspense and mythology. These readers didn’t have access to, and probably weren’t ready for, the underground or alternative comix scene. As superhero comics turned into garish collector items, Vertigo provided the alternative: stories.

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Conversing on Comics with Vasilis Lolos

When writers and artists aim to break into the industry, the big question they have to ask themselves is if they’re ready for comics. But once cartoonist Vasilis Lolos broke into comics, he found out that sometimes comics wasn’t ready for him.

Lolos had already created a substantial amount of comics in his native Greece before he made his American debut in 2005′s Flight Vol. 2. But once he moved to New York, he quickly built up steam with a series of minicomics like Nebuli and Hats before garnering attention in 2006 as the artist of Image’s Pirates of Coney Island. While that series experienced some delays and ultimately went on hiatus after its sixth issue, Lolos continued pushing his way into comics and partnered with a group of like-minded cartoonists for two award-winning anthologies, 5 and Pixu. That work drew the interest of Marvel and DC Comics, which hired him for one-off stories like a back-up in a Spider-Man title and an issue of Brian Wood’s Northlanders. But after the latter’s release in 2009, nothing.

Next week’s Conan the Barbarian #8 marks the Lolos’ first published comic in more than three years. With this glimmer of new work and talk on his website of more to come, I contacted Lolos to find out where he’s been all this time. What I discovered was the story of his struggles with comics and life, which he’s working through and working into his art.

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Brian Wood promises Northlanders wasn’t the end of his Viking saga

It’s been more than five months since Vertigo canceled Northlanders after 50 issues, but writer Brian Wood signaled over the weekend that he hasn’t told his last Viking tale.

“The final volume of the collected Northlanders will be published in December,” he wrote on his blog. “The last monthly comic came out earlier this year. I meant to write some sort of wrap up essay, but it felt like a requiem and honestly I’m not really ready to say goodbye like that. I’ve been missing the book more than I thought.”

He continued, “So I’ve always said that, sure, eventually I’ll write more viking comics.  I have plenty of material, and after I let some time pass I’ll get to it. I think once Conan is over — I have about 15 scripts left to write — I’ll start writing this new venture.  It may follow the same format as Northlanders or it may not.  [...] I know what the story is. I wrote it already as a tv pilot treatment and for awhile I thought it might be a novel and there’s a couple chapters written. I think it probably needs to be a comic. With all these projects I’m taking on, there’s still something missing. This isn’t a eulogy. More like a promise.”

Debuting in December 2007, Northlanders utilized self-contained arcs to tell tales set at different times and locations, and with different characters, during the same historical era — the late 8th century to the 11th century. Wood worked with a range of artists on the book, including Becky Cloonan, Leandro Fernandez, Davide Gianfelice, Ryan Kelly, Vasilis Lolos, Dean Ormston, Fiona Staples and Danijel Zezelj. Massimo Carnevale illustrated all of the covers.

Food or Comics? | Pete and mirliton

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

The Amazing Spider-Man: Hooky

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d first snap up a book I’ve been trying to track down for years: Amazing Spider-Man: Hooky (Marvel, $4.99). This 1986 lost classic features Bernie Wrightson drawing a webhead story featuring monsters and alternate worlds – looks like a real gem. Now to convince Marvel to republish John Paul Leon’s Logan: Path of the Warlord… Next up would be Secret Service #1 (Marvel/Icon, $2.99). I’ll buy pretty much anything Dave Gibbons puts out these days, and seeing him with Mark Millar is bound to be a unique experience. Next up is Saga #2 (Image, $2.99); Brian K. Vaughn is really setting up a world – like a sci-fi sitcom here, with loads of direction to go in. Lastly I’d get Conan the Barbarian #3 (Dark Horse, $3.50). Can I admit I might like this more than Northlanders? Brian Wood’s definitely expanding how people think of him with this story, and Becky Cloonan is making a lot of editors look foolish for not putting her on these kinds of books sooner.

If I had $30, I’d start out with Secret #1 (Image, $3.50). Manhattan Projects seems more up my alley than this story, but Jonathan Hickman’s built up some credit in me to try anything new he puts out even if I’m not too interested. Next up would be Northlanders #50 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99), which I’m sad to see go. I think this will be one of those series that achieves more popularity after it’s over, and it’s a shame DC can’t find a way to continue it. After that it would be Glory #25 (Image, $2.99). I was a bit shaky on the story after Joe Keatinge’s first issue, but everything after has really put the pieces into place and Ross Campbell seems to be finding his footing to really land the superheroics of this story. Last up would be Secret Avengers #25 (Marvel, $3.99); Rick Remender’s clearly put his own spin to this series, so much I’m surprised Marvel didn’t use this as a chance to renumber the series… but I’m glad they didn’t.

If I could splurge, I’d throw money at my comic retailer for Pete and Miriam (Boom!, $14.99). Big fan of Rich Tommaso, and he seems to be honing his craft like a knife, creating more pointed and poignant stories here. And Miriam, she’s a real gem.

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Food or Comics? | Saga or saganaki

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Saga #1

Graeme McMillan

If I had $15 this week, I’d rush to the store as quickly as possible to ensure that I’d be able to get a copy of Saga #1 (Image Comics, $2.99) before it completely sells out. It’s been far, far too long since Brian K. Vaughan has been doing comics, and Fiona Staples is one of those artists who just continually gets better even after starting pretty damn impressively in the first place. It’s not the only must-read launch this week, either; I’m also very excited about Saucer Country #1 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99), Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly’s mash-up of The West Wing, The X-Files and – judging by this first issue, which I’ve had a sneak peek at – The Invisibles, which pretty much ensures I’ll be on board for awhile. There’s also Marvel’s Avengers Assemble #1 ($3.99), which I’m… curious about more than excited for, in large part because I’ve already seen Bendis’ take on the team for the last few years, so this feels more like “More of That Thing You’ve Already Read!” than “First Issue of A New Series!” but… well, it might be better than I’m expecting, who knows?

If I had $30, I’d think about putting Avengers back on the shelf before picking up Journey Into Mystery: Fear Itself Fallout Premiere HC (Marvel, $19.99), the second collection of Kieron Gillen’s remarkably great Thor spin-off. I’ve only recently caught up with the first collection, and loved it, so I’m looking forward to more of the same with this one.

There’s really only one choice to splurge on this week for me: The Womanthology: Heroic hardcover (IDW, $50.00). Not only do I have friends with work in the book, but I was pretty much signed up for this one as soon as I heard about it online. I love well-done anthologies, and I’m ready for this to be one of the best I’ve read in a long time.

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Food or Comics? | Conan the barberryan

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Thief of Thieves #1

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d start with Thief of Thieves #1 (Image/Skybound, $2.99). The gang at Skybound gave me an advance PDF of this issue, and I like it so much I want to hold the physical thing in my hands. Shawn Martinbrough really nails this first issue, and Nick Spencer really puts his Marvel work to shame with this story. Next up I’d get my favorite DC Book – Batwoman #6 (DC, $2.99) – and favorite Marvel book – Wolverine and The X-Men #5 ($3.99). I’d finish it all up with Northlanders #48 ($2.99). I’m not the biggest fan of Danijel Zezelj’s work, but I can’t let up now to see my long-running commitment to Northlanders falter at this point.

If I had $30, I’d dig into Richard Corben’s Murky World one-shot (Dark Horse, $3.50). Corben’s one of those “will-buy-no-matter-what” artists for me that Tom Spurgeon recently focused on, and this looks right up my alley. Next up I’d get Secret Avengers #22 (Marvel, $3.99) because Remender’s idea of robot descendents intrigues me, and then Wolverine and The X-Men: Alpha and Omega (Marvel, $3.99). I didn’t know what to expect from the first issue, and after reading it I still don’t know where this series is heading – but I like it so far. Finally, I’d get Haunt #21 (Image, $2.99). The combination of Joe Casey & Nathan Fox is like a secret code to open my wallet.

If I could splurge, I’d take the graphic novel Jinchalo (D+Q, $17.95) by Matthew Forsythe. I loved his previous book Ojingogo, and this looks to continue in that hit parade.

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Comics A.M. | San Diego Convention Center plan advances

San Diego Convention Center

Conventions | San Diego City Council on Tuesday approved the basic funding plan for the proposed $500 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, home to Comic-Con International. At the center of the financing scheme is an assessment district that adds between between 1 cents and 3 cents per dollar to room taxes of 224 hotels with more than 30 rooms. Those hotels closest to the convention center would be assessed an extra 3 cents per dollar, and those farthest away could be charged an extra penny per dollar.

The expansion plan has a ticking clock, as Comic-Con has signed a deal to remain in San Diego through 2015, but larger venues in Las Vegas and Anaheim have been lobbying organizers to look elsewhere. [NBC San Diego]

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Food or Comics? | Vess, Wonder Woman, Mudman and more

Mudman

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Graeme McMillan

What’s that, you say? Paul Grist’s new Mudman series starts this week (#1, Image Comics, $3.50)? Well, that’s how I’m starting my $15 haul this week. While I’m at it, let’s add Avengers Origins: Luke Cage #1 (Marvel, $3.99) and Kirby Genesis: Captain Victory #1 (Dynamite, $3.99), before finishing up with the third issue of Wonder Woman (DC, $2.99) for a superheroic week that goes from the earth to the gods, with some blaxploitation and aliens thrown in the middle for flavor.

DC would dominate the other half of my budget if I had $30. I’d be grabbing the third issues of Green Lantern Corps, Justice League and Supergirl ($2.99 each, except Justice League for $3.99), but I’m surprising myself as much as anyone else by grabbing The Bionic Man #4 (Dynamite, $3.99) for my final pick – I read the first three issues in a bunch this weekend and really enjoyed the book to date much more than I’d been expecting.

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Food or Comics? | Batwoman, 20th Century Boys, Regenesis and more

Batwoman #2

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d first grab hold of my favorite of DC’s New 52, Batwoman #2 (DC, $2.99). J.H. Williams III has successfully kept up to the immense expectations he accumulated following his run with Greg Rucka, and the artwork seems to benefit even more by J.H.’s input into the story as co-writer. Next I’d dig down for two of my regular pulls, Northlanders #45 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99) and Uncanny X-Force #16 (Marvel, $3.99). For my final pick, I’d have to miss a bunch of other titles for the chance to get the CBLDF Liberty Annual 2011 #4 (Image, $4.99). I love the anthology format, and having that plus the good cause plus the a-list talent makes it a must get; seriously, can you imagine one comic book containing new work by Frank Quitely, Williams, Mark Waid, J. Michael Straczynski, Matt Wagner AND Craig Thompson? BELIEVE IT!

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Food or Comics? | Doctor Who, Batman Inc. and more

Doctor Who

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Graeme McMillan

Let’s give all credit to IDW for their sense of timing. I’m so psyched up in advance of this Saturday’s return of Doctor Who to my television screen that this Wednesday’s release of Doctor Who Annual 2011 (IDW, $7.99) seems like the ideal way to prepare myself. If I had $15, I’d happily spend more than half of it on that particular anthology. The rest would go towards closing out the current incarnation of the DCU, as I’d be grabbing both Action Comics #904 and Batman: Gates of Gotham #5 (Both DC, $2.99).

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