Wednesday brought the sad news that Ray Bradbury passed away peacefully at age 91. The author of Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Something Wicked This Way Comes and (my favorite) The Halloween Tree, Bradbury introduced us to the Butterfly Effect, has his own asteroid and lent his name to a starship class on Star Trek.
“For many Americans, the news of Ray Bradbury’s death immediately brought to mind images from his work, imprinted in our minds, often from a young age,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. “His gift for storytelling reshaped our culture and expanded our world. But Ray also understood that our imaginations could be used as a tool for better understanding, a vehicle for change, and an expression of our most cherished values. There is no doubt that Ray will continue to inspire many more generations with his writing, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”
At The Beat, Torsten Adair recounts many of the honors Bradbury received over his lifetime. He influenced pop culture in all its forms, including comics and their creators.
“Some authors I read and loved as a boy disappointed me as I aged,” Neil Gaiman wrote in a piece for the Guardian. “Bradbury never did. His horror stories remained as chilling, his dark fantasies as darkly fantastic, his science fiction (he never cared about the science, only about the people, which was why the stories worked so well) as much of an exploration of the sense of wonder, as they had when I was a child.”
You can read more from Gaiman on Bradbury here, and a collection of thoughts from J.M. DeMatteis here. Many comic folks have taken to Twitter to remember the author, and I’ve rounded up some of their tweets below:
First Second has announced its releases for spring 2012, and as usual it’s an exciting, eclectic lineup. Here’s a quick rundown:
- Graeme talked about Arne Bellstorf’s Beatles comic, Baby’s in Black yesterday.
- Humayoun Ibrahim has adapted Jack Vance’s classic science fiction story The Moon Moth with “lots of masks, lots of aliens, and an interstellar mystery to round it out.”
- Marathon by Boaz Yakin and Joe Infurnari tells the story of the first marathon, when Eucles ran 153 miles from Sparta to Athens to help save Greece from the Persian Empire.
- Bloody Chester is a noir Western horror story by JT Petty and Hilary Florido.
- Victory finishes up Carla Jablonski and Leland Purvis’ excellent Resistance trilogy about the French Resistance in World War II.
- And finally, Jessica Abel and Matt Madden offer a “201-level” companion volume to Drawing Words and Writing Pictures called Mastering Comics.
Which are you looking forward to?
The Hugo Awards for excellence in science fiction were presented Saturday night in a ceremony in Reno, Nevada, during the sci-fi convention Renovation, and the winner in the Best Graphic Story category was Phil and Kaja Foglio’s Girl Genius, Volume 10: Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse. This is the third year that comics have been included in the Hugo categories, and it is also the third year in a row that Girl Genius has won the award, volumes 8 and 9 having taken the honors in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
The Foglios weren’t the only sequential artists to win an award, however; Shaun Tan, creator of The Arrival and The Lost Thing, won the award for Best Artist. Tan’s mantelpiece must be getting crowded; earlier this year he won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for excellence in children’s literature, and the film version of The Lost Thing, which he directed, won an Oscar.
As we noted a week ago, Sam Humphries and Steven Sanders self-published a science fiction comic called Our Love Is Real, which subsequently sold out in print in nine hours. A second print is on the way (that’s the cover you see to the right) and it’s still available digitally through their website or comiXology.
Humphries, a former Robot 6 guest contributor and my fellow panel member in San Diego next week, agreed to share a list of what he considers to be some of the great science fiction comics. Note that he chose not to use the words “best” or “favorite” to describe the list. “‘Favorite’ or ‘best’ implies more commitment than I’m ready to give,” he said.
So without further ado …
Six great science fiction comics, by Sam Humphries
1. AKIRA by Katsuhiro Otomo
A giant of science fiction, often imitated, never surpassed. At its heart is a tale of a bromance gone wrong, two best friends who carve their years of brotherhood and resentment across Tokyo, Japan, and the Moon. The anime adaptation is superlative, but the manga, sprawled across six thick volumes of meticulously drawn, hi-octane pages, is a true monumental achievement. I’ll be gunning for this No. 1 spot ’til I die. G.O.A.T.
As Tim mentioned in What Are You Reading? this weekend, Fraggle Rock/CBGB writer (not to mention friend and past contributor to this here blog) Sam Humphries has teamed up with SWORD and Five Fists of Science artist Steven Sanders for a new science fiction comic called Our Love is Real.
Here’s the description of the comic: “FIVE YEARS AFTER THE AIDS VACCINE…Plantsexuals riot in the streets for equal rights. Humans fall in love with dogs. And crystals are more than just jewelry. A chance encounter on the job changes a riot cop’s life forever as he finds himself caught in a bizarre love triangle that blurs romance, crime and lust beyond recognition.”
The self-published one-shot is due tomorrow from “a select group of retailers,” as well as via mail order and digitally. Check out the website tomorrow for more information.
Update: After the jump you’ll find the list of retailers carrying the book.
The cover, above, is by Paul Pope, and as previously reported, the first issue will include a chapter of Spaceman by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso, which will get its own series from Vertigo in the fall. Other contributors include Jeff Lemire, Ross Campbell, Kevin Colden, Peter Milligan, Paul Cornell, Denys Cowan and many others. You can find the complete table of contents after the jump.
It’s ’80s-indie black-and-white space-opera action as you like it! Presenting Twelve Gems, a graphic novel in the making by cartoonist Lane Milburn of Baltimore’s Closed Caption Comics collective. Milburn, a recipient of the Xeric Grant for his self-published action-horror collection Death Trap. calls it “a comedic sci-fi space epic starring three heroic characters enlisted to travel the galaxy in search of twelve magical gems.” Judging from the very impressive preview pages — filled with Heavy Metal hotness and crosshatched and black-spotted to within an inch of their lives — Milburn’s really going for the gusto here. Closed Caption Comics is best known for genre-influenced artcomics in the Fort Thunder/Paper Rodeo mode, but Twelve Gems seems to me to have more in common with the giddy throwback style of Benjamin Marra. I can’t wait to see more.
It’s the sequel to their 2008 graphic novel about a ragtag group of heroes on Mars in the year 3535. Here’s the description of the sequel: “Hearts will be broken, moons will be destroyed and hooch will flow in zero gravity in this sci-fi romantic action comedy set in the year 3535. When someone, or something, starts kidnapping the children of Mars, the planet’s most notorious outlaws band together to rescue them. Off world, out numbered and falling apart from within can the Martian Confederates discover the secret of Phobos before they destroy each other? And does what ‘happen in space, stay in space?’”
You can find it in Previews under order code 101040; the 150-page graphic novel costs $15. Check out a huge 25-page preview of it after the jump.
Seems like just last week that Christian Beranek and Tony DiGerolamo were talking to CBR’s Steve Sunu about The Webcomics Factory, the multi-comic site they launched back in April. Already they have a sports comic, a stripper comic, a schoolgirl manga, and a post-apocalyptic gag comic, and today they are launching The Horror of Colony 6, a sci-fi comic, which will update every Tuesday. The comic is written by Beranek and DiGerolamo and illustrated by Tommy Phillips, and the trailer looks like a good intro to the series.
If you’re one of those people who know that there is such a thing as a tesseract, then you’re in for a treat: Above is cartoonist Hope Larson’s take on Meg Murry, one of the young heroes of Madeleine L’Engle’s beloved science-fiction classic A Wrinkle in Time. Larson’s adaptation of the book for Farrar, Strauss and Giroux is slated to debut in Fall 2012, clocking in at a whopping 392 pages. Visit Larson’s blog for more on the book and this piece, from the bruise on Meg’s face to the reason you won’t be seeing her in this outfit in the book itself.
I have a confession to make. It’s nothing I’m proud of, but I’ve learned to live with it. I don’t like Sci-Fi.
Sure I love Star Wars and Star Trek and Guardians of the Galaxy and I especially love James Turner’s Warlord of Io, which is the inspiration for this post, but I can’t get through an Isaac Asimov anthology to save my life. Not even when all the stories are about robots. I like a lot of Warren Ellis’ creator-owned stuff, but the only one I truly love is Anna Mercury.
When I first discovered this, I was a bit disappointed in myself. I’d grown up thinking of myself as a Sci-Fi fan. I loved John Carter of Mars. Killraven was one of my favorite Marvel characters. I didn’t realize that there was anything wrong with me just because no amount of Jack Kirby could get me interested in 2001: A Space Odyssey. (I was nine; I expect I’d have a different reaction today, but that would be all Kirby’s doing and none of the concept’s.)
Of course, it’s the hardcore Sci-Fi fans who are telling me that I don’t like their genre. Star Wars isn’t real science fiction. It’s fantasy. There’s no actual science to it. It’s just Lord of the Rings with spaceships and blasters instead of dragons and magic wands. But you know what? I’m okay with that now. Let the hardcore Sci-Fi folks have their label. I’ve found another one I like better anyway.
What it is and what’s the difference after the break.
Webcomics collectives come and go, and some are more coherent than others, but the new sci-fi webcomics collective Spacedock 7 is pretty close to the ideal.
The interface is nice and clean. The seven comics in the group are all similar not only in subject matter but also in tone and style—not that they all look alike, but all have a fairly cartoony look. All are pretty good—I looked through them briefly and there’s no weakest link. Some are brand new, and others have been around for a while. Each comic updates once a week, so there’s always something to come back for (although Red’s Planet is already on hiatus, but hey—new baby, Reuben Awards, those are good excuses, and the creator has promised a definite return date). And these are the sort of comics that are easily accessible to new readers—you don’t have to know a complicated backstory or be able to decipher convoluted art to follow them. These comics are light reading at its best.
A simple home page leads not only to the seven comics (each of which is hosted on its own, separate site) but also to other features, without overwhelming the reader with clutter. This shouldn’t be remarkable, but understanding how to present information clearly and in some sort of hierarchy is often a challenge for web designers. Spacedock 7 gets it right, with separate, easy-to-find pages presenting short descriptions of each comic, author bios, and a list of everyone’s Twitter, Facebook, and Ustream info. And there’s a forum.
It’s worth a look for fans of light sci-fi, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea for anyone thinking about starting a group site to swing by for a look as well.
Renowned fantasy and comic-book artist Frank Frazetta passed away today as the result of a stroke. He was 82.
Heidi MacDonald has confirmation from his agent Robert Pistella that Frazetta died in a hospital near his home in Boca Grande, Florida.
Born on February 9, 1928, in Brooklyn, Frazetta began illustrating comic books at age 16, later working on titles like Barnyard Comics, Thrilling Comics and Happy Comics for Standard Publishing Co. By the early 1950s, he was drawing the Shining Knight stories for DC’s Adventure Comics, New Heroic Comics for Eastern Color and Durango Kid for Magazine Enterprises. In 1953, he started working as an assistant for Al Capp on Li’l Abner.
Frazetta left Capp in 1961 and started illustrating for men’s magazines, eventually teaming with Harvey Kurtzman on the bawdy “Little Annie Fanny” strip that appeared in Playboy. It was during this period that Frazetta began painting movie posters, and covers for paperback editions of action-adventure and Warren magazines like Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella. Frazetta’s work from the mid-1960s to the early ’70s became the primary influence for science fiction and fantasy art for decades.
Frazetta’s work and legacy were at the center of a bitter family feud that seemed to erupt in July 2009 after the death of his wife Eleanor “Ellie” Frazetta, who had long run her husband’s business. The dispute played out in public, with criminal charges, a lawsuit and angry allegations. Luckily, though, the family seemed to resolve its differences just last month.
Frazetta is survived by four children: Alfonso Frank Frazetta (Frank Jr.), William Frazetta, Holly Frazetta and Heidi Grabin.
Welcome once again to Shelf Porn, our weekly look at one fan’s shelves. Would you like to show off your shelves? Drop me an email and let’s see what we can do.
Today’s edition of Shelf Porn comes from book reviewer Joshua Hill. While he has a small-but-growing comic shelf, he more than makes up for it with his collection of science fiction books. So let’s turn it over to Josh …
When Vertical marketing director Ed Chavez first announced that they had licensed the sci-fi manga Twin Spica, the news was drowned out by better-known titles like the cute cat manga Chi’s Sweet Home and Felipe Smith’s in-your-face Peepo Choo. Also, frankly, the cover of this manga is the least attractive thing about it.
When I got my advance copy, though, I was sold. Twin Spica is an interesting story that interweaves a girl’s training to be an astronaut — classic shonen manga fodder, but approached more thoughtfully — with stories of her personal life and coming of age. Vertical has just posted a 30-page preview at their site, and the piece of the story they chose focuses on the main character, Asumi, coming to terms with her mother’s death. Asumi’s spirit really comes through in this story, but I actually liked the space training part even better. Anyway, go take a look, and watch out for the first volume next month. (I know the preview has an awful moire, but I don’t recall that being in the printed book.)