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Film, Comic Books
“I see a kid superhero like Battling Boy or Aurora West to be symbols of the potential of youth to do something new and different, to invent a new solution to old problems. […] Too often, I think the superheroes we see in films and comics are too perfect, too established, too impervious to real fault or challenge. I like the idea of writing a story focusing on kid superheroes who mess up and must learn from their mistakes.”
On the heels of the debut this week of Battling Boy, Paul Pope’s much-anticipated (and already widely praised) all-ages graphic novel, First Second Books has announced a prequel, The Rise of Aurora West.
Battling Boy centers on on the son of a war god who’s sent by his father to rid the Monstropolis of monsters after Haggard West, the previous protector of the continent-sized city, is assassinated (another prequel, the one-shot The Death of Haggard West, was released in July).
Co-written by Pope and J.T. Petty and drawn by David Rubin, Wired.com reports The Rise of Aurora West uncovers the backstory of its title character, Battling Boy’s ally and the daughter of Haggard West. The prequel will arrive in July 2014, ahead of Pope’s sequel to Battling Boy.
Paul Pope’s Battling Boy debuts this week, which is a big deal for all sorts of reasons. I like how publisher First Second has been trailing the last week of build-up through its Twitter feed, releasing postcard-like graphics pairing panels from the book with advance praise for the release. As if we weren’t already salivating at the prospect of Pope properly commencing his first major project since 2006’s Batman Year 100.
Miami Book Fair International has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive first look at Paul Pope’s Generation Genius Days poster created for the 30th annual event. That of course is the artist’s own Battling Boy reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring while surrounded by monsters (the graphic novel debuts Oct. 8 from First Second).
Held Nov. 17-24 at Miami Dade MDC’s Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami, this year’s fair will commemorate 500 years since Ponce de Leon landed in Florida by celebrating Spain’s culture literature. Famed Spanish comic artist Francesc Capdevila, better known as Max, created the event’s official poster.
The nation’s largest literary gathering, Miami Book Fair International includes as part of its programming Generation Genius Days (Nov. 21-24), which features learning and literacy activities for children and teens.
Publishing | Calvin Reid talks to publisher Josh Frankel, who is relaunching his Zip Comics (the publisher of Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland) as Z2 Comics. The first books under the new name will be reprints of a sort: Paul Pope’s Escapo, which he originally self-published in black and white, and Dean Haspiel’s Fear My Dear, which first appeared as a webcomic at Act-I-Vate. Escapo will be colored and Fear My Dear will be re-colored. The company will publish strictly graphic novels, no periodicals, and they will be distributed by Diamond Comic Distributors. [Publishers Weekly]
Passings | Toledo, Ohio, cartoonist Pete Hoffmann, whose comic strip Jeff Cobb was syndicated nationwide, died last week at the age of 94. Hoffman was also a ghost artist for Steve Roper and illustrated the panel cartoon Why We Say, which explained the meaning behind common sayings. He “got ambitious” and decided to strike out with his own strip, and the result was Jeff Cobb, a serial about an investigative reporter, which ran from 1954 to 1975. In this 2004 interview, he talks about his work and shows off his first published drawing, which appeared in the Toledo Times when he was four years old. [Toledo Blade]
Boutique home video distributor Criterion commissioned Samuel Hiti (Los Tiempos Finales, Death-Day) and a list of other great comics artists to create artwork for the individual films in the company’s box set for the long-running Zatoichi series starring Shintaro Katsu as a blind, but incredibly quick and accurate swordsman. Hiti designed the cover for Zatoichi the Fugitive, the fourth in the series.
Twenty-five Zatoichi films were produced between 1962 and 1973, making it the longest-running action series in Japanese history. There was also a four-season TV series in the late ’70s. The Criterion box set collects those first 25 feature films in one package for the first time, but doesn’t include 1989’s Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman, written and directed by Shintaro Katsu himself.
Comics strips | Matt Saracini looks at the impact on Australian cartoonists of a cost-cutting decision by media giant News Corp. Australia to replace individual comics pages in their largest newspapers with one national page. In the process, some more expensive locally produced strips were jettisoned in favor for cheaper syndicated ones from overseas, like Garfield and The Phantom. News Corp. owns more than a hundred daily, weekly, biweekly and triweekly newspapers. [SBS.com]
Creators | Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat, now living in Kuwait after troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attacked him and broke both his hands, talks about his decision to portray al-Assad explicitly in his cartoons, rather than sticking to more generic themes like freedom and human rights: “It was a big decision to start to draw Bashar and, yes, I was scared of what might happen, particularly when I was attacked. But I had a responsibility to do what I did. If I am not prepared to take risks I have no right to call myself an artist. If there is no mission or message to my work I might as well be a painter and decorator.” [The Guardian]
“Batman did pretty well, so I sat down with the head of DC Comics. I really wanted to do Kamandi [The Last Boy on Earth], this Jack Kirby character. I had this great pitch … and he said, ‘You think this is gonna be for kids? Stop, stop. We don’t publish comics for kids. We publish comics for 45-year-olds. If you want to do comics for kids, you can do Scooby-Doo. And I thought, ‘I guess we just broke up.'”
— Paul Pope, relating his attempt to pitch an all-ages (or perhaps young-adult) title to DC Comics, during his Comic-Con International conversation with Gene Luen Yang.
Pope has previously mentioned his idea for Kamandi, a collaboration with writer Brian Azzarello that he described as “a violent adventure story for young readers with a boy lead character.” He’s even revealed a few pieces of art from the pitch. However, as the artist noted in 2010, “if DC would’ve given me & Brian Azzarello a Kamandi series, I’d never have created Battling Boy.”
I’m not sure how this slipped beneath the radar, but BoingBoing has debuted the trailer for Paul Pope’s long-awaited graphic novel Battling Boy, and it’s kind of great. There’s also a preview, part of which we’ve seen previously.
Arriving Oct. 8 from First Second, Battling Boy centers on on the son of a war god — he’s been characterized as a “haughty yet naïve superboy” — who’s sent by his father to rid the Monstropolis of monsters after Haggard West, the previous protector of the continent-sized city, is assassinated. There’s also West’s daughter Aurora, a wannabe hero with a taste for vengeance. (Haggard West starred last month in his own one-shot, which of course ended poorly for the hero. “Haggard is dead for good at the end of this one-shot,” Pope told Comic Book Resources, “but his tragic ending sets a much larger wheel in motion, which sucks in the realms of gods and monsters, battling it out in the realm of humans.”)
A second volume of Battling Boy is targeted for release next year.
At Comic-Con International in San Diego, IDW Publishing announced that Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo will return in a new series titled Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland, by Eric Shanower and Gabriel Rodriguez. As it turns out, there’s more to Little Nemo than just one new book.
Comics store turned small-press publisher Locust Moon is putting together an anthology of Little Nemo stories called Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream. Scheduled for release in 2014, the book has an eye-opening A-list lineup, including Peter Bagge, John Cassaday, Neal Adams, Bill Sienkiewicz, Becky Cloonan, Scott Morse, David Petersen, Mark Buckingham, Paul Pope and J.G. Jones. This book is a follow-up from the company’s anthology Once Upon a Time Machine, released last year by Dark Horse.
Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream will be published by Locust Moon as both a newspaper and a hardcover book, at the full size of the original Little Nemo pages — 16 inches by 21 inches. Described by Locust moon as a “love song for Winsor McCay, Little Nemo and the limitless possibilities of comics,” this is definitely one to watch. Here are several sample pages:
Dark Horse’s Catalyst Comix, a title I’ve been looking forward to since it was announced in October at New York Comic Con, at last debuts today. Joe Casey is a writer who starts every project with a manifesto, and this one is no different: Relaunching a relatively unmourned line of comics in his own image, he’s seeking to create a superhero book that’s an antidote to “the overly conservative nature of Marvel and DC.” I can appreciate that ambition, but what really sold me is the sheer depth of the pool of artistic talent assembled to bring Casey’s scripts to life: Dan McDaid, Ulises Farinas and Paul Maybury drawing the three strips that make up each issue. Rafael Grampa, Paul Pope and Brendan McCarthy are rotating as cover artists.
I spoke to Dan McDaid on the eve of the book’s launch to discuss working within this all-star team of creators, and he shared his process on creating a typically powerful, apocalyptic-looking sequence of his strip, starring Frank Wells, the hero formerly known as Titan, from Will to Power.
BookExpo America takes place the Javits Center, just like New York Comic Con, but it’s a completely different kind of show. It’s a trade show, not a consumer show, so the folks in the aisles aren’t fans looking for a fix, they are potential customers to be wooed. And what you see there is a pretty reliable guide to what everyone will be talking about in a couple of months.
So if you happened into the little graphic novel enclave at the right time, you might see Gene Luen Yang sitting there, pen in hand, ready to autograph a free Avatar graphic novel for you, or maybe Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights pioneer, sitting next to Andrew Aydin, with ashcans of their graphic novel about Lewis’ life, March, and while you might have to wait a few minutes for your turn, you wouldn’t have to stand on the sort of long lines they might draw at San Diego. The pace is more leisurely than a comic convention — the creators chat as they sign your comics — and the blasting noise of video game and movie displays is blissfully absent.
It’s true there aren’t a lot of comics publishers at BEA, although there are a fair number of book publishers who include comics in their lines. Abrams didn’t send their ComicArts people, but if you consider Diary of a Wimpy Kid to be a comic (I’m always happy to claim that one for our side), then they were well represented, and many attendees had Wimpy Kid stickers on their badges.
So, you’ve been waiting for Paul Pope’s Battling Boy in varying states of eagerness and frustration since first hearing about the project in 2006. Perhaps now you’ve seen actual physical proof that this near-mythical beast exists in the wild, and as such have allowed any despondency to be replaced again by sweet anticipation. Thinking, hey, looks like I’ll finally get my hands on this, you go ahead and pre-order it from your regular book pusher.
Well, in the immortal words of Warren Zevon, reconsider that pre-order: It turns out Pope has a special relationship going on with his local bookstore in Brooklyn, Word, and if you order it from them before Oct. 4, you can get an autographed and personalized copy instead, with the books then shipping on the official release date of Oct. 8.
Tempting, isn’t it? Just make it “To Mark, better late than never!”
(via Destroy Comics)
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival celebrates its 10th birthday this weekend with a truly stellar lineup of guests and an amazing array of events. The list of creators who will be there is impressive in both its quality and its breadth: Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, David B., Taiyo Matsumoto, Rutu Modan, Frederik Peeters, Paul Pope, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Hope Larson, Faith Erin Hicks, Derf Backderf, Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman, a roll call that goes from living legends to plucky creators making their own comics zines by hand.
Graphic novels | April was a slow month for new graphic novel releases, so the BookScan Top 20 had plenty of room for some backlist titles. The Walking Dead dominated, of course, but the 10th volume of Sailor Moon was there for a second month and actually moved up a notch. And the first volume of Saga came in at No. 12, perhaps because people were curious as to what all the fuss is about. [ICv2]
Editorial cartoons | Nick Anderson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for the Houston Chronicle, has responded to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s criticism of Jack Ohman’s cartoon with a cartoon of his own. [Comic Riffs]
Conventions | Jeff Smith, Brian Wood, Sean Murphy and Raina Telgemeier are the headline guests at the Maine Comics Arts Festival in Portland on May 19. [Foster’s Daily Democrat]