Sequart has premiered a clip from its upcoming documentary The Image Revolution in which Image Comics founders Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane recount the fateful meeting they and Jim Lee had 22 years ago this month with then-Marvel Comics Publisher Terry Stewart. It’s an oft-repeated tale — it’s part of Image’s origin story, after all — that benefits from Liefeld’s animated storytelling and impressions.
Funded in part through Kickstarter, the documentary from director Patrick Meaney, Sequart and Respect! Films traces the 20-year history of Image, “from its founders’ work at Marvel, through Image’s early days, the ups and downs of the ’90s, and the publisher’s new generation of properties like The Walking Dead.”
You can preorder The Image Revolution for $4.99 digital download at Sequart.
Sean Howe, author of Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, looks back to 1987 for a rare ad promoting what was supposed to be the first appearance of Youngblood, by a 19-year-old Rob Liefeld and Hank Kanalz. However, as Megaton Comics Publisher Carlson related on his blog, Megaton Special #1 Starring Youngblood received only about 1,200 orders — “the independent comic market was glutted back then,” he writes — and the issue was never printed.
Sad story, sure, but I hear Liefeld did pretty well for himself, and a slightly different version of Youngblood finally saw the light of day about five years later, as the first title published by Image Comics. Kanalz turned out OK, too, serving as the longtime general manager of WildStorm and, now, senior vice president of Vertigo and integrated publishing for DC Comics.
In a related posted, Howe also has a 1991 ad for Liefeld’s The Executioners — ““rebel mutants from the future come to destroy their past”” — accompanied by an excerpt from Marvel Comics: The Untold Story detailing how the House of Ideas threatened to sue … for pretty obvious reasons.
“Image United is the best worst idea that ever existed. … We overdid it. Image United should be respected for the experiment that it is, but loathed for the failure that it’s been so far.”
– Rob Liefeld, during a weekend panel at Amazing Las Vegas Comic-Con, discussing Image United, the long-delayed six-issue crossover by the Image Comics founders and Robert Kirkman that hasn’t released an issue since August 2010′s No. 3. At the convention, Liefeld said issue 4 and 5, originally solicited for April and May 2010, will be released in 2014. “We should’ve done the whole thing first, but we got kind of excited,” he said. “And I apologize.”
Manga | Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump has announced that One Piece will go on hiatus for the magazine’s next two issues because creator Eiichiro Oda has been hospitalized for a peritonsillar abscess, a complication of tonsillitis. The popular series is expected to return June 10. One Piece, which has been serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump since 1997, has sold more than 280 million volumes in Japan alone. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly share their thoughts (and sometimes disagree) on their own world, the comics world in general, and digital media. [National Post]
Borrowing a page from Top Cow’s 2012 resurrection of Cyber Force, Rob Liefeld has turned to Kickstarter to help relaunch his 1990s Image Comics series Brigade. His goal is to raise $17,500 in order to offer the first issue for free; in less than 24 hours, he’s already generated $6,775 in pledges.
Debuting in 1992, Brigade was a spinoff of the bestselling Youngblood, featuring a rogue mercenary team led by Battlestone. Following the initial miniseries, it continued as an ongoing for 24 issues, ending in 1995. The property was last resurrected in 2010 as “a complete re-imagining of the original smash series” by the original team of Liefeld and Marat Mychaels, but only one issue was released.
Some people wear their influences on their sleeve, while others absorb it into their own style and, from time to time, shout it from the rooftops.
Jim Rugg is doing the latter in a stunning pin-up he created for the recent Extreme Comics fanzine Rub The Blood. Extreme is the brainchild of Rob Liefeld, whose divisive style earned him legions of fans, including it seems Rugg.
Rugg’s choices for which characters to display from Liefeld’s ouvre runs the gamut from his Marvel co-creation Cable to his creator-owned work like Youngblood‘s Chapel (done in a style reminiscent of Jae Lee’s take on the character) and solo stars Prophet, Bloodstrike: Assassin and Bloodwulf.
Digital comics | So, your $3.99 comic comes bundled with a download code for a free digital copy, but you’re strictly a paper person. What to do? Todd Allen has a fascinating article about the secondary market in unused download codes, not just the fact that they are being sold fairly openly but also what that market tells us about the true value of comics: “Outside of eBay it’s relatively easy to use Google to find somewhere to swap or purchase Ultraviolet codes. The Home Theater Forum’s classified ad section has codes sprinkled in, with a low $2-$3 looking like a common price. Codes are also easy to find on Reddit, including a dedicated subreddit, though codes on Reddit are swapped or given away, not sold.” [The Next Web]
Conventions| Small Press Expo announced its first round of guests for the Sept.14-15 convention: Seth, Gary Panter, Lisa Hanawalt, Gene Yang and Frank Santoro. [SPX]
Rob Liefeld made waves in 2011 when he resurrected his Extreme Studios properties by handing over the characters to the likes of Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell. And now he’s looking to give somebody else a shot.
To that end, he has launched an Extreme Talent Contest in which young writers are given a chance to have their short story published in an issue of Youngblood and Bloodstrike, drawn by none other than Liefeld himself.
He explains that he’s looking for pitches for a five- to six-page short story featuring Extreme Studios characters. Three winners will be selected, one every few weeks beginning March 6; those writers chosen will have to complete a work-for-hire agreement to move on to the next stage. More details, including a link to a submission agreement, can be found on Liefeld’s blog.
“I have the absolute highest regard for creators and for the ownership of original properties, and this agreement should in no way be misconstrued as license for us to appropriate your creations,” he writes. “This agreement protects Rob Liefeld from any liabilities involving coincidental similarities to works-‐in-‐progress or other submissions. Any submissions received without a signed agreement will be discarded without review.”
According to recent convention scuttlebutt, DC Comics is apparently canceling its latest Hawkman series, the New 52-launched Savage Hawkman, perhaps as early as May’s Issue 20.
That is not the least bit surprising, really, given the publisher’s historical difficulty in keeping readers interested in Hawkman, and given the way in which the title and the character were served by the line-wide reboot and the accompanying creative-team chaos. It’s too bad, though, given how easily DC could have simply published the sort of Hawkman title the 21st-century super-comic audience would support, rather than The Savage Hawkman.
The series launched in September 2011 along with the other 51 new series comprising DC’s New 52 initiative, featuring a rebooted continuity for the then 71-year-old hero and a redesigned costume featuring more armor and pointed edges (most notably a set of Wolverine-like claws frequently waved in the direction of the reader on the covers). The creative team consisted of artist-turned-writer/artist Tony S. Daniel, who was just handling the writing, and Philip Tan, who was providing the art.
If you’ve been wondering how Rob Liefeld has been occupying his time since walking off three DC Comics series, scorching the earth around him as he left, the answer, at least in part, is Bloodstrike #34. However, he also found three days to transform a portion of his memoir into a 100-page screenplay about the formation of Image Comics. Of course.
The outspoken creator provided DreamMovieCast with excerpts from the project, tentatively titled Icons, which unlike Manti Te’o's dead girlfriend, is not a hoax. Or, rather iCons, as Liefeld clarified on Twitter. “Small ‘i’ dubble meaning,” he wrote.
I have to admit, I was surprised to learn that Rob Liefeld’s relaunched Extreme Studios line had received attention on the online news magazine Slate, and reading the article itself, I realized why: It presumes Liefeld has done something he actually hasn’t. Writing about the transformation of Prophet, Glory and Bloodstrike at the hands of Brandon Graham, Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell et al., David Weigel says that Liefeld “open-sourced” the characters, noting that “every copyright holder should be this generous, and this clever.”
Of course, this isn’t what happened; Liefeld still owns the characters, and Graham, Keatinge, Campbell and everyone else is working for him in much the same way other creators have worked for Todd McFarlane on Spawn, Marc Silvestri on his various Top Cow characters, or even Marvel and DC for decades now. It’s not really “open source” comics at all, because there’s still an “official” centralized canon version of the characters, and the material isn’t available for free for all to use as they wish. But reading the misconception made me wonder: What if Liefeld had open-sourced the characters?
Creators | For Slate’s “Doers” feature — “People who accomplish great things, and how they do it” — David Wiegel spotlights Rob Liefeld’s decision to revive his Extreme Studios line by handing over the properties to creators like Brandon Graham, Joe Keatinge and Tim Seeley. Acknowledging his critics prefer these new versions of Glory, Prophet and Bloodstrike to his originals, Liefeld tells the website, ““The internet snark has zero effect on me. I was there 20 years ago, I’m out there on the convention circuit, I experience the real and tangible enthusiasm for me and my work. You can’t rewrite the history books, you can’t eliminate the impact of my work and my characters. [...] Rob Liefeld is to today as Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan are to my kids.” [Slate.com]
Passings | Paul Gravett pays tribute to the late British writer and critic Les Coleman. [Paul Gravett]
Publishing | Heidi MacDonald reports that shareholders of Platinum Studios held a conference call Wednesday, with President Chris Beall sending a letter to founder Scott Rosenberg suspending him indefinitely as the company’s chief executive officer. Rich Johnston posted the press release announcing the call, and some of the topics on the agenda were fairly jaw-dropping. [The Beat]
Publishing | Andrews McMeel Publishing and Universal UClick (which are different divisions of the same company) are collaborating on a new line of digital comics, Udig, which collects themed newspaper strips into short e-books (the one I checked had 55 comics) for $2.99 each. [Good E-Reader]
Creators | Michael Cavna talks to cartoonist Richard Thompson in-depth about his Parkinson’s disease, its effect on his cartooning, and the brain surgery he had this year to combat it, and shows the cartoon Thompson drew during the surgery. The story includes an update on how Thompson has been doing since the surgery and interviews with other cartoonists, including a rare comment from Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson, about Thompson’s work and his struggle against the illness. [Comic Riffs]
Publishing | The French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, whose offices were firebombed in 2011 after it published cartoons mocking Mohammed, has released a comic-book biography of the Muslim prophet. Editor Stephane Charbonnier, who has lived under police protection since the magazine first published the cartoons, says the biography is a properly researched educational work edited by Muslims: “I don’t think higher Muslim minds could find anything inappropriate.” [AFP]
Yesterday Image Comics released two new books by Brandon Graham.
One was Prophet #30, the latest issue of the critically acclaimed sci-fi/fantasy series based on a resuscitated and reimagined Rob Liefeld-created property. Graham writes Prophet, and only very occasionally draws parts of it, while the lion’s share of the illustration duties has fallen to a rotating cast of talented artists, including Simon Roy, Farel Dalrymple and Giannis Milonogiannis. Despite that it’s not all his in the way most of his other comics work has been, it has brought a lot of attention to the talented young creator, and kept his name and work in the reading audience’s mind in a way more occasionally published graphic novels just can’t do.
The other book was Multiple Warheads: Alphabet to Infinity #1, which is both written and drawn by Graham, and isn’t based on a Rob Liefeld-created property. This one is all Graham’s and, in that respect, is probably a better example of what the next work from the guy who did King City is – it’s Graham’s latest comics work, and his truest follow up to King City.
But the characters, their world and their story have been around for quite a while now, traveling on an orbit that takes them from inside Graham’s mind and imagination out into the public eye, and back again; while the lines on these pages might be newer, aspects of Multiple Warheads pre-dates Graham’s Prophet work and at least large chunks of his King City.