INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
Passings | Inker Rick Ketcham has passed away. Details are sparse, but Ketcham’s Facebook quickly filled with tributes from friends and colleagues who hailed his kindness, his professionalism, and his willingness to mentor others. Ketcham worked on a number of titles for DC Comics, Marvel, Dark Horse, Image Comics and other publishers, including The Amazing Spider-Man, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, G.I. Joe, New X-Men, Runaways and Venom. [Tsunami Studios Facebook]
A year after confirming the first comic series based on The Witcher, Dark Horse and CD Projekt RED announced at New York Comic Con that the video game’s legendary monster hunter Geralt is back for a sequel.
Writer Paul Tobin and artist Joe Querio will return for The Witcher: Fox Children, in will which Geralt boards “a ship of fools, renegades and criminals, where some passengers are more dangerous than others, but one is hiding a hideous secret!”
Dark Horse has debuted the trailer for Prometheus: Fire and Stone, the first chapter in a crossover that spans Fox’s Aliens, Predator and Alien Vs. Predator franchises.
It’s only fitting the event starts with a tie-in to filmmaker Ridley Scott’s 2012 Alien prequel. In the four-issue Prometheus, written by Paul Tobin and illustrated by Juan Ferreyra, a new team of explorers is sent to LV-223 “to uncover the dark mystery that holds not only the fate of the original mission, but possibly their own damnation.”
This year, The Oatmeal dominates the Eisner Best Digital comic category as “the one that most people have heard of.” That’s pretty much in direct contrast to last year, which was populated by five relatively obscure titles. It’s a testament, I think, to the far-reaching diversity of webcomics, where few ever become pop culture superstars but many have devoted fanbase. You had indie-style comics like Ant Comic and It Will All Hurt, the haunting short story Our Bloodstained Roof and the classic Thimble Theater-inspired art of Oyster War.
The eventual winner, though, was the one that most closely resembled a traditional comic. Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover’s Bandette (Monkeybrain Comics) was the first Eisner winner that had to be downloaded from comiXology — a true “digital comic” as opposed to a “webcomic.” I imagine that the familiar panel layout was the one least likely to send traditionalists into paroxysms. Heck, the tone of the story itself feels very much like a throwback to both Silver Age comic stories and European all-ages fare like The Adventures of Tintin. But so what? It’s old school, and in a way that made it refreshingly novel.
Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out.
This week is pretty packed, as we have news, reviews, a con recap and a whole year’s worth of announcements from one publisher. So buckle your seat belts and hold on tight as we aim our DeLorean at the last seven days …
Creators | Frannie Jackson talks with a handful of prominent creator couples — Mike Allred and Laura Allred, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction, Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin — about sexism within the comics industry. “I’m occasionally invited to participate in panel discussions about ‘women in comics,’” Coover says. “I’m usually emotionally torn by those invitations, because, yeah, I want women in comics to thrive and be seen as thriving, but I’d much rather be part of a discussion about ‘awesome creators in comics’ that’s stacked with awesome women and men.” [Paste]
Retailing | Andrew Wyrich visits several comics shops in the North Jersey area and finds they rely on a friendly atmosphere and incentive programs to keep customers coming back. “People who buy comics tend to have a $40 weekly budget,” said Len Katz, co-owner of The Joker’s Child in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. “We hear of people who love comics, but eventually just hit a wall with expenses. The key for us is to get customers coming back. The reality is we are not a necessary item; we aren’t milk, bread or cheese.” [The Record]
Angry Birds, Rovio Entertainment’s blockbuster mobile game turned multimedia sensation, will continue its global conquest of pop culture in June, when IDW Publishing launches a comics adaptation by such creators as Jeff Parker and Paul Tobin.
“We’re very happy to be in business with Rovio on Angry Birds comics,” IDW Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall said in a statement. “Rovio has taken what was once a captivating game and built it into an interesting world filled with interesting and, uh, feathered characters who will make a perfect addition to our growing line of fun, all-ages comics.”
Our annual “Looking Forward, Looking Back” feature continues, as we ask various comics folks what they liked in 2013, what they’re looking forward to in 2014 and what projects they have planned for the coming year. In, this final round, we hear from Vito Delsante, Jacq Cohen, Mark Sable, Dean Haspiel, Joshua Williamson, Jordie Bellaire, Paul Allor, Adam P. Knave, Tim Gibson, Bryan Q. Miller, Nathan Edmondson, Ann Nocenti, Jason Latour, Paul Tobin, Ming Doyle, Jeff Parker, Francesco Francavilla and Gabriel Hardman.
And if you missed them, be sure to check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6 where we heard from Jimmy Palmiotti, Tim Seeley, Chris Roberson, Kurt Busiek, Faith Erin Hicks, Tyler Kirkham, G. Willow Wilson and many more.
Auctions | Comics industry legend Maggie Thompson plans to put up for auction 524 comics from her personal collection. Thompson, who with her late husband Don was a longtime editor of the Comics Buyer’s Guide, estimates that she has 10,000 comics, all stored in a special vault-like addition to her home, which she built using the money from a previous sale, of Amazing Fantasy #15 (the first appearance of Spider-Man) and the first 100 issues of The Amazing Spider-Man. Bidding on the first batch of comics, which includes The Avengers #1, Journey into Mystery #83 (first appearance of Thor), The Incredible Hulk #1, and original cover art from Conan #4, begins today. [The Associated Press]
Comics | ICv2 releases the results of its White Paper (previously reported at Comic Book Resources), which tracks comics and graphic novel sales in all channels. Briefly, the report shows that sales of comics and graphic novels are up, manga is up dramatically, and digital comics sales continue to increase — although growth is slowing a bit, which is to be expected as the base increases. [ICv2]
Once in a while, when I go into the comics shop to snag my weekly pile, there will be something on the shelf that catches totally unaware. On Oct. 2, I was delighted to discover the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s Liberty Annual 2013 (published by Image Comics). Given that all the proceeds from the book (previewed here at CBR) benefit the CBLDF, I wanted to interview Dark Horse Editor-in-Chief Scott Allie, who directed the project. While I had his attention, I couldn’t pass up the chance to discuss some of the Dark Horse line as well.
Tim O’Shea: While seemingly an obvious question, I still think it worth asking: Why is it so important to you to volunteer your time for a project like the CBLDF Liberty Annual?
Scott Allie: Free speech is a near and dear cause, for me and for Dark Horse, and it’s still an uphill battle for comics. There are preconceptions about this art form that invite attacks, and we need to work to defend against that. I want creators and publishers to be free to put out what they want to put out, and for retailers to sell it without fear of prosecution, for readers to travel with their books without fear of incarceration. The CBLDF isn’t just about raising money in court cases. They’re about educating the population about the art form we love, and I want to be a part of that.
As promised last week with the debut of a not-so-mysterious teaser video, Dark Horse confirmed this morning at New York Comic Con that it will partner with game developer CD Projekt RED for a comic series based on The Witcher, with Paul Tobin on board as writer.
Based on the bestselling fantasy novels and short stories by Andrzej Sapkowski, the hack-and-slash role-playing game follows Geralt, one of the few remaining “witchers,” traveling monster hunters for hire.
Publishing | The Archie gang has canceled a (fictional) trip to Russia because of that country’s draconian anti-gay laws. One law would allow the arrest of foreigners suspected of being gay or “pro-gay,” while another defines any pro-gay statement as pornography and therefore makes it a criminal act to make such statements in front of anyone under the age of 18. Archie cartoonist Dan Parent, who created Riverdale’s first openly gay character, Kevin Keller, is taking a stand in his own way: “Russia should be boycotted, so much so that actually in an upcoming special four-issue story arc I’m writing the Archie gang are going to take a world tour to four countries. Russia was to be one of them. But they’re not going there now. They just can’t and they won’t. They love and support Kevin.” [Back2Stonewall]
On the heels of winning the Eisner Award for best digital comic, Bandette creators Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover have released a fifth free installment of Bandette: Urchin Stories, this time teaming Tobin with cartoonist Erika Moen (DAR!, Bucko).
If, for some reason, you’re not yet familiar with Bandette, the Monkeybrain Comics series follows the adventures of a costumed thief who gleefully leads a group of urchins through the streets of Paris, serving on the side of justice, except when an old-fashioned heist proves too fun to resist. A print collection will be published in November by Dark Horse.
Launched in October 2012 to supplement the main series, Urchin Stories, as the title suggests, focuses on the supporting cast, with each short tale drawn by a different art. The latest installment turns the spotlight on the newest, and youngest, urchin, Belda. The previous stories can be found on the Monkeybrain website.
Awards | Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times, written by Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton and illustrated by Greg Chapman, won the Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in a graphic novel, presented over the weekend by the Horror Writers Association. Winners with a comic-book connection in other categories include Caitlin R. Kiernan (novel, The Drowning Girl), Jonathan Maberry (young-adult novel, Flesh & Bone), and Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard (screenplay, The Cabin in the Woods). [Horror Writers Association]
Graphic novels | Heidi MacDonald looks at Dark Horse’s plans to expand its Originals line of creator-owned graphic novels this year; upcoming releases include print editions of Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover’s Bandette and Cameron Stewart’s Sin Titulo, as well as a new graphic novel, Bad Houses, by Sara Ryan and Carla Speed McNeil. [Publishers Weekly]
To celebrate the four Eisner Award nominations for Paul Tobin and Colleen Cover’s Bandette — Best New Series, Best Digital Comic, Best Penciler/Inker and Best Coloring — Monkeybrain Comics is offering the first issue for free on comiXology through the entire voting period.
The series, which debuted in July, follows a costumed thief who gleefully leads a group of urchins through the streets of Paris, serving on the side of justice, except when an old-fashioned heist proves too fun to resist. Bandette is every bit as entertaining as it sounds.