INTERVIEW: Gail Simone Guides 'Blockbuster Update' of Red Sonja, Vampirella and Dejah Thoris
To celebrate Marvel’s 75th anniversary, this fall Taschen will publish 75 Years of Marvel: From the Golden Age to the Silver Screen, a mammoth inside look at the company written by its former editor-in-chief Roy Thomas.
Edited by Josh Baker, who worked with Paul Levitz on 75 Years of DC Comics, the 720-page hardcover spotlights not only Marvel’s most famous characters, but also many of the writers and artists who gave them life — focusing largely on the creators from the 1960s’ “Marvel Age of Comics,” like Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Don Heck, Jim Steranko, Marie Severin, John Romita, John Buscema and Gene Colan.
Pop culture | Eighty years ago today, Donald Duck was introduced as a supporting character in the animated short “The Wise Little Hen,” part of Walt Disney Productions’ Silly Symphonies series. His comic strip debut came a few months later, in an adaptation of the short by Ted Osborne and Al Taliaferro that ran in Sunday newspapers between Sept. 16 and Dec. 16. To mark the milestone, the National Turk publishes “a love letter to the duck,” while The Telegraph offers 10 surprising facts about the character. [National Turk, The Telegraph]
Political cartoons | The South African cartoonist Zapiro, himself no stranger to controversy, said the Eyewitness News cartoon depicting the South African legislature and the people who voted for them as clowns (and calling the voters “poephols,” or idiots) was a mistake. “I think the EWN cartoonists made a big error in the way they depicted the voters, what they called them and the shadow in the bottom corner, which could be misconstrued as meaning black voters,” he said. “They should have – and the editors of EWN should have – picked it up. But, they have apologised and anything that goes beyond that now is just bandwagoning by politicians.” Meanwhile, a fake Zapiro cartoon made the rounds on social media over the weekend. It’s based on a real 2002 cartoon that showed doctors finding the brain of then-president George W. Bush while giving him a colonoscopy; the fake cartoon substitutes South African President Jacob Zuma, who went into the hospital over the weekend. [Times Live]
Crime | Police in St. Charles, Missouri, have arrested 24-year-old Adam Radigan and charged him in the Monday-morning robbery of a comic store employee. The robbery occurred in the parking lot as the employee walked out of the Fantasy Shop with a bank bag that contained $26 in coins. The suspect allegedly indicated he had a gun and demanded the bag; after the employee handed it over, fled on foot. Nearby schools were briefly locked down after the incident. [The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, KDSK]
Comics | “Seattle and the Northwest have carved a lasting niche in the comics world by applying the same traits to cartoons that we apply to music — lo-fi, provocative and introspective. Our comics are often funny as in peculiar, not necessarily funny as in laugh-out-loud, our heroes bumbling rather than swashbuckling”: Tyrone Beason looks at Seattle’s thriving alt-comics scene, and talks with Peter Bagge, Ellen Forney, Tom Van Deusen and the organizers of the Short Run Comix and Arts Festival. [The Seattle Times]
Passings | Award-winning science fiction and fantasy author Lucius Shepard, whose work included Life During Wartime and The Jaguar Hunter, passed away March 18. He was 66. Shepard ventured into comics writing on a few occasions, with the series Vermillion, part of DC Comics’ short-lived Helix imprint, and with contributions to Vertigo anthologies Gangland and Flinch. [Tor.com, BoingBoing]
Creators | American Vampire artist Rafael Albuquerque talks about the upcoming “Second Cycle” of the Vertigo series, which returns after a hiatus of more than a year. [Hero Complex]
Long believed lost, the original page from 1974’s The Incredible Hulk #180 featuring the first appearance of Wolverine will be auctioned in May to benefit The Hero Initiative.
The Associated Press reports that Heritage Auctions was contacted by the owner, who said he has had the page since 1983, when it was given to him by artist Herb Trimpe. The auction house describes it as “one of the most significant pieces of original comic art to ever appear on the market.”
Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc., the company founded by the creator of Tarzan and still run by his family, has begun publishing webcomics based on six of the author’s most famous creations. Roy Thomas and Tom Grindberg (who have been producing the Tarzan comic strips since 2012) continue creating new stories featuring the ape man, while Chuck Dixon and Tom Lyle explore the Earth’s Core world of Pellucidar. Writer Martin Powell is joined by four different artists on the remaining series: Carson of Venus (with Thomas Floyd and Diana Leto), The Eternal Savage (with Steven E. Gordon), The Cave Girl (with Diana Leto), and The War Chief (with Nik Poliwko).
The ERB Inc. website has samples of each series for free, and readers can then subscribe to all six for $1.99 a month. Each series updates weekly, so that’s about 24 pages for just $2; a great deal.
I had some questions about the initiative, so I contacted Powell, who was extremely helpful. For one thing, these webcomics don’t affect Dark Horse, which still holds the license for printed Tarzan comics. He also explained why there’s no series for John Carter: “I originally auditioned for John Carter of Mars, but Disney/Marvel still has a hold on it. Still, ERB Inc. was apparently impressed enough that they offered me Carson of Venus and allowed me to assemble my own art team, which I’ve done for my other four ERB comic strips as well. So, you could say in a sense that I am Carson … we both aimed at Mars and ended up on Venus!”
Graphic novels | Two volumes of The Walking Dead Compendium topped BookScan’s list of the Top 20 graphic novels sold in bookstores in March, and Vol. 60 of Naruto was No. 3, but ICv2 thinks the new Avatar: The Next Airbender graphic novel premiering at No. 4 is headline-worthy. [ICv2]
Awards | With his duties complete, Charles Hatfield describes what it was like to be an Eisner judge. [See Hatfield]
Creators | Gilbert Hernandez talks about his childhood and that influences, from Dennis the Menace to Steve Ditko, that shaped his latest graphic novel, Marble Season. [The Chicago Tribune]
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew talks about the death of … oh, wait, we already did that. In fact, nobody brought up [REDACTED] in their write-up this week. But they did talk about a bunch of other comics.
Our guest this week is cartoonist and teacher Ben Towle, creator of Oyster War, Midnight Sun, Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean and much more. Check out his website for all kinds of fun art and pin-ups (Alien Legion!).
To see what Ben and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. We’ve each picked the five comics we’re most anticipating in order to create a list of the best new stuff coming out two months from now.
As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
Avengers #1 (Marvel): Has Marvel NOW! already gotten enough attention? Maybe so, but that’s partly the reason I’m highlighting this specific book. In the rising tide that’s pushed all of the Marvel NOW relaun!ches, for me — as a fan and journalist — the marketing has dulled the unique appeal of every book. Flipping through Previews and giving this a deeper critical eye, it made me realize – this is Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opeña doing Avengers, the de facto flagship book of Marvel since 2004. Opeña really turned a corner with Uncanny X-Force, and I’m interested to see how Hickman brings his meticulous plotting to a biweekly book with a cast larger than Circus of the Stars. And what’s interesting is that he’s done a version of this when he relaunched the “Ultimate” version of the Avengers in Ultimate Comics: Ultimates. I’m not saying this will be that re-heated over, but it’ll be interesting to see how he takes roughly the same characters and bobs instead of weaves.
Hiroaki Samura’s Emerald and Other Stories (Dark Horse): Samura’s Blade of the Immortal was a major manga when it debuted, but when you have one artist doing a long, drawn-out story it tends to dull in the eyes of fans on the outside looking in. But his short-story collection Ohikkoshi was fun, modern and completely different – a great bite-size snack from the eight-course meal/buffet that is Blade of the Immortal. This collection looks to be like that, centered around Samura’s western teen drama Emerald. I’ve heard of another set of stories called Bradherley’s Coach about a family whose business is to ferry orphans to their new home, which I hope is in here as well.
Mara #1 (Image): I’ve been loving Brian Wood’s work since he jumped to AiT-PlanetLar too many years ago, and seeing him branch out with another new series makes me wish for Brian Wood Month all over again. Besides swami Brian, it’s the artist he’s doing this with that really deserves some attention; Ming Doyle has killed it in her work featured on Project: Rooftop (shameless plug), and when she moved to doing shorts for Marvel in things like Fantastic Four she showed she could really play with the big boys. Seeing Wood and Doyle doing a sports-themed action series set in the future, this is a unique-looking story that’ll be at the top of my stack when it comes out on Dec. 26.
Hip Flask: Ourborous (Image): In comics today there’s a rare group of artists that are like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Ents; an older race who were once masters of the world but now subsist on making rare, but eventful appearances. Alan Moore is this way; so is Art Adams. To that list I’d like to add Ladrönn. This has my money, even if I didn’t know how great a story this is.
Orcs, Vol. 1: Forged For War (First Second): Speaking of Tolkien, am I the only one that felt compassion for the Orcs in Lord of the Rings? Well, this reprinted graphic novel by writer Stan Nicholls and artist Joe Flood brings the orc race to the forefront. Orc Stain was great, and this could be too!
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. Michael, Graeme, and Chris Arrant have each picked the five new comics we’re most anticipating in order to create a Top 15 of the best new comics coming out two months from now.
As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
The Golden Age of DC Comics: 1935-1956 HC (Taschen, $59.95): If you were as jealous of everyone who could afford the mammoth 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Myth-Making from a couple of years ago as I was, here’s some great news; Taschen is reissuing the material in a series of different (cheaper) volumes, reworked and expanded with new art and commentary by Paul Levitz. The next in the series, covering the Silver Age, is the one I’ll really covet, but you know that this will be awesome.
Julio’s Day HC (Fantagraphics Books, $19.99): Continuing my education in all things Love and Rockets, this never-collected Gilbert Hernandez strip from the second series of L&R is one of those things that goes on my “Want” list almost as soon as I discovered it existed.
Multiple Warheads: Alphabet to Infinity #1 (of 4) (Image Comics, $3.99): I’ve been waiting for more Multiple Warheads since Oni Press put out the first issue a few years back. Now that I know it’s 48 pages for just $3.99 and in color, it seems worth the wait. Brandon Graham is an amazing talent.
Sailor Twain HC (First Second, $24.99): I dropped off Mark Siegel’s amazing webcomic online fairly early, promising myself that I’d get the inevitable collected edition when it was all done and read it in one sitting. I’m glad it’s finally here.
The Zaucer of Zilk #1 (of 2) (IDW Publishing, $3.99): Without doubt, my favorite superhero comic in years – I read it in its 2000AD incarnation – I am overjoyed to see this get a US release like this. Hopefully, everyone will read it and realize just how great Brendan McCarthy and Al Ewing are, leading to all manner of zequels (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
My parents were born in 1942, four years too early to be baby boomers. It also means they were just the wrong age to be exposed heavily to either the Golden or the Silver age of superhero comics. By the time they would have started to read, the Golden Age was half over; and when the Silver Age started in 1956, they were too old to be interested. I confirmed this with my dad, who has vague recollections of the original superheroes, but whose comic collection included more Archies and Little Lulus. (Had I known how much 21st-century hipster cred this would have given me, I’d have pressed him harder about those ….)
Still, these days they can’t get away from the Spandex set. When Conan O’Brien asserted (rightfully) that the Hulk had been in the Fantastic Four, Dad emailed me for confirmation. This itself was a big step up for Dad, who at one point several years ago thought Batman was in the FF. (In fact, I don’t think my folks have seen either of the Christopher Nolan movies, although they did watch a revival of the 1940s serial at the local art-house theater. Dad especially didn’t have any interest in the Schumacher movies, because the characters just “looked like toys.”) Last year, after the Green Lantern movie had been playing for a while, Dad thought he remembered seeing it — but actually, he and Mom had enjoyed Seth Rogen’s Green Hornet. Their nerd knowledge (what there is of it) is more likely to include Star Trek and Sherlock Holmes, although lately they’re into Downton Abbey.
Regardless, when I think about the impact of outing Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern, I tend to gauge it in terms of my dad. He may not be the best representative of the generation that grew up with the Justice Society, but among people I know he was in the best position to become a fan, and for whatever reason it just didn’t stick. Therefore, when I mentioned the revelation of Alan’s sexuality to Dad over the weekend, it really didn’t register one way or another.
Archie Meets Kiss (Archie Comics) Archie has proven especially adept at coming up with attention-grabbing — as in mainstream media attention-grabbing — storylines of late, and of all the “stunt” stories they’ve pulled off in the last few years, this one is by far the weirdest.
The closest thing I can think to which to compare it would be 1994’s Archie Meets The Punisher, although if that project worked by gleefully combining two funnybook polar opposites and letting that unlikely tension sell the book, having the eternal teenagers of Riverdale meet a rock band from the 1970s in the year 2012 is … well, it’s not so much the team-up you thought you’d never see, as it is the team-up no one could have imagined (except, I guess, for Gene Simmons, who apparently called up Archie Co-CEO Jon Goldwater and asked him to do the story).
Archie PR guy-turned-Archie writer Alex Segura and regular Archie artist Dan Parent (inked by Rich Koslowski) tell the tale: One night at a treehouse meeting of the Riverdale Monster Society, Sabrina (the Teenage Witch) is attempting to cast a protection spell over the city, but Veronica and Reggie accidentally mess it up, casting a projection spell that summons a quartet of monsters to town and, hot on their heels, Kiss.
The monsters—specific, teenage stereotype versions of the Universal monsters — set about sucking all of the fun out of Riverdale, threatening to make it an eternal land of lameness and tedium (Don’t worry, Segura makes the joke you yourself were just thinking of), and turning its residents into mindless zombies.
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.
If I had $15, a new Peter Bagge comic is always cause for celebration, so my first grab would be for Reset #1, Bagge’s new limited series having to do with virtual reality and the opportunity it affords a washed-up comedian to fix his past mistakes. And then there’s Linda Medley, who’s been laying low for awhile, but is back this week with a new issue of her ongoing, low-key fantasy series, Castle Waiting. These will probably be the first comics I read once I get home from the comic store this week.
If I had $30, I’ve already gone on about The Shark King, R. Kikuo Johnson’s warm and charming all-ages story based on a Hawaiian folk tale of a shark god and his half-human, mischievous progeny. It’s a lovely little book that I thoroughly recommend checking out even if you don’t have any kids in your home.
There’s also a number of notable manga out this week so I’d likely pick up one of the following: Either the latest volume of 20th Century Boys, the latest volume of Gantz or volume 2 of Katsuya Terada’s The Monkey King. There’s been a bit of a wait (seven years) for that last one, which is a gonzo, sex-and-violence rendition of the classic Journey to the West myth.
It’s not so much a splurge as a must-buy for me — Krazy and Ignatz 1922-24: At Last My Drim of Love Has Come True is the final volume in Fantagraphics’ collection of Sunday Krazy strips and full of the same George Herriman magic as the previous volumes. There’s a tinge of sadness here as I believe the late Bill Blackbeard, who helped bring this project into fruition, has an essay here, as well as a remembrance by Kim Thompson.
DC’s superhero comics of the ‘70s and ‘80s will always fascinate me — not just because I grew up on them, but because they represented the first steps past the Silver Age. While the latest members of Marvel’s Bullpen sought to maintain the momentum Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and Steve Ditko brought to their creations, DC’s writers, artists, and editors took their iconic charges in new directions. We all know what Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams did for Batman, Green Lantern, and Green Arrow. We can see some of what Kirby wanted to do for Superman, and we know what writers like O’Neil, Elliott S! Maggin, Cary Bates, Martin Pasko, and Marv Wolfman ended up doing. Of course, the period brought two revamps (and a revival) for Teen Titans, the first making them into an un-costumed youth group, and the second involving Wolfman and George Pérez….
… and at this point the post threatens to turn into another Tom Goes Down The Old-Comics Rabbit Hole extravaganza. Haven’t we had enough of these indulgences?
Well … yes and no. I bring it up (again) on account of the Retro-Active books, and specifically Retro-Active ‘70s-style Superman. I talked about the book’s merits in our last What Are You Reading? roundup, so today let’s look at the nuts and bolts of Superman in the Bronze Age.