Avengers: Endless Wartime (Marvel Entertainment): Marvel’s new line of original graphic novels — note the “Marvel OGN” logo on the spine — is off to a pretty strong start with this continuity-light Warren Ellis-written, Mike McKone-drawn story of an Avengers squad facing a new form of semi-sentient weapon evolved from a generation-old attempt to marry Nazi science with Norse magic.
That’s a good conflict for an Avengers comic, as the team includes a Nazi-fighting hero and a Norse god, and, better still, both Captain America and Thor were tied to the this new weapon’s origin.
Ellis does his usual fine job of mixing current science, speculative next-level science, elements of our zeitgeist and corporate superheroes with something that feels appropriate, cool and like the writer has something to say. Additionally, he has a pretty decent handle on the characters, and does a relatively good job of singling out particular voices (this is the first time in a long time that I’ve read an Avengers comic where everyone didn’t talk like Brian Michael Bendis).
Cap, Thor, Iron Man, Wolverine, Captain Marvel, Black Widow and Hawkeye, who reflects Matt Fraction’s version, are a bit of a rag-tag group, but they seem to be assembled primarily for their military backgrounds. “Do you know, I just realized I’m the only non-soldier in the room,” Tony Stark says at one point, and Captain Marvel sneers back, “That’s right, Tony. You’re just an ex-arms manufacturer in a metal death suit.”
This week finer comic shops will have Rian Hughes’ Soho Dives, Soho Divas available for purchase. The previews don’t really do justice to the book, which collects Hughes’ portraits of London burlesque artists. Read on …
Events | Heidi MacDonald beats everyone else to the punch and files the definitive report on the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, which featured a flurry of graphic novel debuts and appearances by artists as diverse as Taiyo Matsumoto (Tekkonkinkreet) and Andrew Hussie (Homestuck). [Publishers Weekly]
Publishing | BOOM! Studios will publish a line of Robocop comics beginning in August. Dynamite Entertainment had the license previously, but company President Nick Barrucci said the rights reverted to the licensor, who granted them to BOOM! [ICv2]
Publishing | Brian Truitt takes a look at Valiant’s lineup for the second summer of its new life, and he talks to the creators about the relaunch and their plans for the future. [USA Today]
You may have already heard about Orbital Comics’ Image Duplicator art show in London (probably via this piece at The Beat): This story is right in my wheelhouse, but I was resisting writing about it until there was a large enough stockpile of art from it to present here. The show is a reaction both to the recent Roy Lichtenstein exhibition at the city’s already-iconic Tate Modern gallery, and to the BBC’s coverage of the event (which I wrote about at the time elsewhere).
Dave Gibbons is a long-standing critic of Lichtenstein (you can find footage online of him complaining about what he calls Lichtenstein’s “dishonesty” from as far back as 1993). Gibbons appeared on the BBC’s documentary to put the case for the accusations of plagiarism that may always dog Lichtenstein’s reputation. The segment featuring Gibbons debating with presenter Alastair Sooke was filmed in front of the famous “Whaam!” canvas. Sooke was all too dismissive of Irv Novick, somewhat deriding his work in order to flatter Lichtenstein. It seems odd Sooke chose to criticize Novick’s compositional decisions and praise Lichtenstein’s, when every element of Roy’s piece was lifted from Irv’s. Anyway, these new perceived slights seem to have been enough to stir Rian Hughes, Jason Atomic, and the Orbital Gallery regulars into action.
Comics are more than just drawing pretty pictures and great muscled physiques. They’re about telling a story, through sequences of images but also through the image itself. And British artist Rian Hughes has spent years figuring out how to tell a story, in sequential art as well as in standalone images, package designs and even fonts.
After bursting onto the comics scene as an artist in Escape and 2000AD, Hughes expanded his skills to become a designer and illustrator for comics in England, Europe and the United States. He went on to design a number of logos and mastheads for DC Comics, Marvel and Valiant, and his work on Wildcats 3.0 and Invincible Iron Man proved to be high-water marks for comic book covers. Image and Knockabout Books recently began reprinting some of Hughes’ early comics work, and this summer will see the release of an artbook chronicling his portraits taken from London’s underworld burlesque scene.
For this week’s “Conversing on Comics,” I spoke with Hughes about his forthcoming art book and other upcoming projects, and received a look at his past work, including a never-before-seen set of designs he created for Invincible Iron Man.
Comics | Scottish publisher DC Thomson has asked Dundee City Council to rename a street in the city’s west end to honor the Bash Street Kids, stars of the long-running comic strip in The Beano. An unnamed street adjacent to 142/144 West Marketgait would be called Bash Street as part of the celebration of the magazine’s 75th anniversary. [LocalGov]
Retailing | North Hollywood will get a new comics shop on Nov. 10, when Blastoff Comics opens its doors. Owner Jud Meyers seems to think it is an essential part of a hip neighborhood: “They want restaurants, they want bars, they want supermarkets, they want gyms. What didn’t they have? They don’t have a comic book store, every neighborhood has got to have a comic book store.” The opening will feature an assortment of comics guests, including Mark Waid, Greg Hurwitz, and Jim Kreuger, whose The High Cost of Happily Ever After will premiere at the event. [Patch.com]
If you didn’t have the massive ticket price for MorrisonCon last weekend, perhaps this is more your speed: the fifth annual Dundee Comics Day at the University of Dundee, Scotland. Much of the day’s event sounds like a redux of the program for Morrison’s high-end Sin City shindig, sans the pop magick angle:
The Dundee Comics day once again welcomes a stellar line-up of top industry talent, this time to celebrate the comics of award-winning Scottish writer Grant Morrison (MBE). Grant will be discussing his approach to writing comics, his thoughts about superheroes, as expressed in his recent book Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero, and his experience of working with some of the best comics artists in the industry.
This exploration of the comics of Grant Morrison is timely given his recent award of an MBE, but also because the University of Dundee is currently leading the way in the emerging field of Comics Studies with modules on comics at Undergraduate and postgraduate level, including the UK’s first MLitt in Comics Studies in the School of Humanities, launched in September 2011. DJCAD has also launched very successful modules on creating comics. The University of Dundee is therefore delighted to have this opportunity to celebrate the huge success of one of Scotland’s most influential and successful authors. The Comics Day talks are designed to appeal to everyone with an interest in comics, and will be accompanied by an exhibition of comic art work.
A raft of Morrison’s past collaborators will be joining him in Dundee, including Cameron Stewart (Seaguy, The Guardian), Frazer Irving (Klarion The Witch Boy, Batman), Frank Quitely (Flex Mentallo, New X-Men, WE3, All Star Superman, Batman & Robin, Multiversity), Rian Hughes (Dare) and Jill Thompson (The Invisibles). Two days prior, the college’s cinema is hosting a showing of Talking to Gods, the seldom-screened documentary on Morrison’s life and career.
Art Barrage favorite Rob Davis has debuted the cover for his adaptation of Don Quixote Part Two. Davis’ work on the first book of Cervantes’ masterpiece was that rare treat, an adaptation that crossed from one media to another and still seemed fresh rather than redundant. This is because Davis is a creator of rare intellect and taste, with his blog being the place to see the amount of thought he puts into every project he embarks upon.
When I mention here that the U.K. is going through a Golden Age for graphic novel publishing, Davis has proven to be a key figure in its renaissance. Two of the publishers now regularly producing a steady stream of great books have worked with him, with Self Made Hero releasing these Don Quixote volumes (there’s a collected edition hitting the American market in the not-too-distant future); the ground-breaking anthology he co-edited with Woodrow Phoenix for Blank Slate Books, Nelson, would surely have won a multitude of awards this year if it had been published by one of the big U.S. indies (no, really; if you haven’t read it, click the link, look at that list of contributors, and ask yourself if it isn’t worth a punt, you won’t regret it).
More below, including another Don Quixote cover by Davis, and work by Jonathan Edwards, Rian Hughes, Etherington Brothers and more.
As British designer/comic book artist Rian Hughes once wrote, “When musicians remake an old hit, it’s called a cover version. When a painter copies an illustrator, it’s called fine art.” Hughes’ article features numerous impassioned quotes from Dave Gibbons on the ethics of fine artists appropriating imagery from comic artists. Brian Bolland recently pursued the Icelandic artist Erro for a particularly blatant act and to a certain extent, won the argument. But comic books remains catnip to the fine art world, the dirty little habit it can’t kick. Plenty of art below the break.
Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our guest today is Caleb Goellner, pug lover and senior editor of ComicsAlliance.
To see what Caleb and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
The crossing over of street art and comics is nothing new, with street artists trying all sorts of narrative tricks and co-opting comic book characters, and comic book artists like Jim Mahfood and Damion Scott proving that the influence runs in both directions. The street artists Jim Rockwell, Vision and Probs of the End Of The Line crew have recently completed two murals, one in tribute to Jean “Moebius” Giraud, and another publicizing the East London Comics And Arts Festival. They’ve done a decent job of copping the styles of Giraud and McBess (designer of the original ELCAF 2012 poster), and it’s fun to see Major Grubert on a London street corner.
Valiant Entertainment does nothing by half measures, so it’s no surprise that when they were thinking about a new look for their relaunch of four classic Valiant series from the 1990s, they went with a top designer: Rian Hughes, whose credits include not only design work for corporate clients such as Virgin Airways and Penguin Books but also comics design and illustration; he drew a number of series for 2000AD and designed the UK edition of Love and Rockets, among other projects.
We talked to Hughes about his redesign of the Valiant logo and cover elements for this year’s new series. Hughes also talks about some of the other covers he has designed, including Iron Man and Howard Chaykin’s Challengers of the Unknown. And font freaks (you know who you are!), check the end of the interview for a special challenge!
Robot 6: What is your association with Valiant Comics—did you read them in the 1990s? If so, when did you start reading–what “era” seems the most important to you?
Rian Hughes: I confess I didn’t pick up many comics at all in the ’90s, as I was going through a period where comics simply weren’t one of my main interests. I’d become a bit burned out working on 2000AD for several years, and was pursuing work in mainstream illustration, advertising and graphic design, so the ’90s are a bit of a blank for me. I’d follow the work of fellow Brits who happened to be friends and acquaintances—Morrison, Milligan, Moore and co—but outside of that, a lot passed me by. Which is no reflection on Valiant, of course!
Valiant Entertainment continues the march toward its relaunch of four classic Valiant comics later this summer with the release today of its new logo and trade dress, designed by graphic designer (and former 2000AD artist) Rian Hughes.
At their panel last week at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, Valiant staffers and writer Robert Venditti discussed how they’re going to update X-O Manowar, Harbinger, Bloodshot and Archer & Armstrong — all of which originally ran in the 1990s — for modern audiences. The logo redesign is of a piece with that, keeping the traditional Valiant look (and the compass that was part of the original logo) and giving it a more modern look.
“The Valiant characters have a strong fanbase and heritage, and so the new logos are fresh and modern as befits a forward-looking publisher while still paying tribute to the originals, just as has been done with the characters themselves,” Hughes said in the press release.
Valiant also released the cover and variant covers of the first release, X-O Manowar, with the new trade dress:
Publishing | DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio talks about the gay and lesbian characters appearing in the company’s books come September, including Batwoman and WildStorm imports Apollo, Midnighter and Voodoo: “When we looked at trying to incorporate some of the characters that inhabited the WildStorm universe Apollo and Midnighter are two characters that have always popped out. Not because of what they represent, but they’re just strong characters in their own right and [they] were able to represent a story, a style of character that wasn’t represented in the DC Universe. There’s more of an aggressive nature with those characters that will interact interestingly with other characters and allows us to tell more and better stories.” [The Advocate]
Publishing | Todd Allen, Tom Foss and Graeme McMillan react to the list of changes to the “younger, brasher and more brooding” Superman who will inhabit the DC Universe following the September relaunch. [Indignant Online, Fortress of Soliloquy, Blog@Newsarama]
If you’re not familiar with, and a fan of, the design work of Rian Hughes, it’s probably because you’re not paying attention. Perhaps best known for his collaborations with artist Dustin Nguyen on the imaginative covers to Wildcats Version 3.0, Hughes’ recent comics projects include the logos for Archaia and the new Batman and Robin series, and the cover design for Captain America: Reborn.
Now add to that list the new trade dress for The Invincible Iron Man, beginning with November’s Issue 20. Writer Matt Fraction over the weekend unveiled the complete covers for the “Stark: Disassembled” storyline, by Salvador Larroca, Frank D’Armata and Hughes, and they’re (unsurprisingly) stunning. Sleek and modern, just like an Iron Man cover should be.