Sean Murphy Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources
In what other medium can a someone get an original work of art made just for them by a creator whose career they’ve followed? Not movies, television, music or fine art, unless you’re a millionaire. But in comics, many of today’s artists are for hire to fans looking to own a piece of their work — and even commission something especially for them. Comics are crazy that way, but that’s a good thing.
It’s nothing new, of course. The idea itself goes back into the roots of fine art, but with the advent of conventions and now the internet it’s available to virtually everyone — with some creators even reaching out to fans to make it happen.
I had taken a break from comics during the whole “Death of Superman”/”Reign of the Supermen” era, yet I’m a little excited by this mysterious cover unveiled today by Sean Murphy (The Wake, Punk Rock Jesus). Even those readers who weren’t around for the early-’90s storyline will undoubtedly recognize the Man of Steel/John Henry Irons/Steel, the Man of Tomorrow/Cyborg Superman, the Last Son of Krypton/Eradicator and the Metropolis Kid/Superboy, who arrived in Metropolis claiming to be Superman.
Murphy says he doesn’t know what the cover is for, but it’s a pretty safe bet that it’s part of DC Comics’ “Superman: Doomed” crossover, depicting the first major conflict in the New 52 between the Man of Steel and Doomsday, who was responsible for “The Death of Superman” 22 years ago.
Update: As a helpful commenter below points out, PreviewsWorld states Murphy’s cover is the 75th anniversary variant for Superman Unchained #6, due out on March 19.
While DC Comics sacrificed some bragging rights in 2011 when it rebooted its superhero line, even the never-before-renumbered Action Comics and Detective Comics, one consequence of relaunching TEC was that it was only a matter of time — 26 months, to be exact — before the company got around to publishing a new Detective Comics #27. And that the second Detective Comics #27 would see release during the 75th year of Batman’s career, well, all the better.
The first Detective Comics #27, published in 1939, was, of course, the first appearance of Batman. The anthology’s cover was surrendered to an arresting image of a spooky man in tights, wearing a bat-mask and sporting huge bat-like wings, scooping up a gangster in a headlock while swinging in front of the yellow field above a city skyline. “Starting this issue,” the cover trumpted, “The Amazing and Unique Adventures of The Batman.” Inside, Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s pulp- and film-inspired detective hero cracked the “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate,” and the amazing and unique adventures begun therein have yet to cease.
DC has honored that milestone in various ways over the years, with notable celebrations including Michael Uslan and Peter Snejbjerg’s 2003 Elseworlds one-shot Batman: Detective No. 27, and 1991′s Detective Comics #627, in which the Alan Grant/Norm Breyfogle and Marv Wolfman/Jim Aparo creative teams did their own takes on “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate,” and both the original story and a 30th-anniversary version by Mike Friedrich and Bob Brown were reprinted.
This week brings Detective Comics (Vol. 2) #27, and another opportunity to celebrate that original issue, and Batman’s 75th anniversary, which DC does in a 90-page, prestige-format special issue — essentially a trade paperback with some ads in it — featuring contributions from the writers of all four of the main Batman books of the moment and about as strong a list of contributing artists as a reader could hope for.
Before Scott Snyder began writing Batman and became the hottest writer at DC Comic and an overall direct market darling, garnering high sales and high praise for his work on the title, he was penning the Vertigo series American Vampire. Sharply written and clever in its conception and execution, it infused a longtime staple of fantasy literature with some fresh ideas, and was also both good and well-received (that Stephen King was writing back-ups in it for a while probably didn’t hurt any, either).
Not long ago, Snyder returned to Vertigo for another series scarily reinventing a legendary creature with The Wake, drawn by fellow Sean Murphy (Joe The Barbarian, Punk Rock Jesus, some Hellblazer), with whom Snyder previously collaborated on American Vampire miniseries (2011′s Survival of the Fittest). This time the jump from ordinary to scary is a lot further, as Snyder’s not reinventing vampires, but mermaids of all things.
Well, mer-people, I guess, as they all look rather androgynous, like sci-fi creatures from the black lagoon from the waist up, rather than pretty naked ladies, and, of course, fish from the waist down. Mer-creatures, then. Or maybe mer-monsters.
DC Comics hasn’t had a particularly good run of things lately. To be frank, the publisher has done blown it a number of times over the past few years. But don’t worry, DC fans — I’m sure it’ll soon be Marvel’s turn, as the two rivals seem to trade off every five years or so.
I’ve been calling out DC for the past couple of weeks, but that doesn’t mean everything it does strikes me as wrong. It’s important to declare shenanigans, but it’s also important to recognize when a publisher does something that’s good for comics.
So here are six things DC is doing right:
1. Digital comics: Legends of the Dark Knight and Adventures of Superman are digital-first anthology series that feature some excellent creators (from Jeff Parker and Chris Samnee to J.M. DeMatteis and Jeff Lemire) producing completely accessible and entertaining stories that stand on their own; no college course on the New 52 or Crisis on Infinite Earths required. Yes, these stories are out of continuity — so for a percentage of readers, they don’t count. That’s a mistake, because there’s nothing wrong with a straight-up superhero tale that exists on its own terms. These two anthologies are the gems of DC’s digital-first line-up, but Batman ’66 and Batman: Li’l Gotham also offer fantastical takes on the iconic Caped Crusader that are bright and fun. For those exhausted by the angsty versions of serious stories, you owe it to yourself to check these out.
It’s hard to believe that after the 2005 miniseries Batman/Scarecrow: Year One, Sean Murphy hit a rough patch where he couldn’t land work at DC Comics. Since then, he’s cut his own path through the publisher beginning in 2008 with two issues of Hellblazer and then continuing with Joe the Barbarian, Hellblazer: City of Demons, American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest, his creator-owned Punk Rock Jesus, Batman Beyond and now his collaboration with Scott Snyder, The Wake.
On Wednesday, Murphy returns again to the Dark Knight with a story (written by John Arcudi) in the debut issue of the revived Batman: Black and White, which was preceded last week by the release of his Batman: Black and White statue, the 50th in the DC Collectibles line. That’s quite the turnaround.
Although he’s not attending Comic-Con International this year, Sean Murphy is keeping busy. The Brooklyn-based cartoonist, who’s illustrating the Vertigo series The Wake, has opened his doors to do a limited number of commissions. It’s rare for Murphy to accept private commissions, but he’s hoping to help fund the purchase of a house. Whatever the reason, these are a chance for fans to see Murphy draw something he seldom does in comics — superheroes.
While Murphy has work like Batman/Scarecrow: Year One and Teen Titans: Cold Case to his credit, he’s best known for non-superhero projects like Joe the Barbarian, American Vampire and Punk Rock Jesus. These commissions — four have been released so far — show Murphy doing Marvel and DC’s top heroes, from Batman to Wolverine to the Punisher. Oh, and also … Tom Waits.
If you’re shopping for a gift for that special evil family member or friend, I have the deal for you: The latest and greatest self-help book for supervillains goes on sale today in the form of The Supervillain Field Manual: How to Conquer (Super) Friends and Incinerate People by King Oblivion, who had a little help from ghost writer Matt D. Wilson and illustrator Adam Wallenta.
Because I didn’t trust King enough to give him my my email address, I contacted Wilson to see if he was forced to do the book against his will or simply embarked on the marginally evil project of his own free will. Fortunately, Wilson seemed to have enjoyed himself and was more than willing to share insight on the guidebook to becoming an effective supervillain. He wasn’t all about enabling evil, by the way; toward the end of the interview he shares tips on comics he’s currently enjoying.
Tim O’Shea: Let’s go back to your first self-help supervillain book (2012′s The Supervillain Handbook). How did you come to decide there might be a market for evil-comedy instruction books?
Matt D. Wilson: You’re probably giving me a little too much credit there in terms of business sense. It’s not so much that I thought there was a market; I just kind of felt compelled and figured it’d be a fun thing to do. I actually wrote that first book back in 2009 or so, and it took three-plus years to get it published anywhere.
DC Comics will resurrect its well-regarded anthology Batman: Black and White beginning in September with six double-sized issues.
Originally published in 1996 as a four-issue miniseries, the anthology was the brainchild DC’s Vice President of Art Direction & Design Mark Chiarello, then a Batman Group editor, who sought out such top creators as Bruce Timm, Joe Kubert, Bill Sienkiewicz, Neil Gaiman, Ted McKeever and Katsuhiro Otomo to offer their own interpretations of the Dark Knight — in black and white.
The concept was revived in 2000 as a series of backup features in Batman: Gotham Knights, featuring contributions by the likes of Alex Ross, Paul Dini, Warren Ellis, Jim Lee, Chris Claremont, Paul Pope, Steve Rude, Harlan Ellison, Paul Grist, Darwyn Cooke, Jill Thompson and Mike Mignola. That title ended in 2006, but several Batman: Black and White have since been adapted as motion comics by Warner Premiere and DC Entertainment, and inspired numerous statues released by DC Direct.
According to the solicitation text provided to MTV Geek, September’s Batman: Black and White #1 will feature stories by Chip Kidd and Michael Cho, Neal Adams, Joe Quinones and Maris Wicks, John Arcudi and Sean Murphy, and Howard Mackie and Chris Samnee. Priced at $4.99, the 48-page first issue is scheduled to arrive Sept. 4.
Hello everyone, Happy Memorial Day weekend to America, and welcome one and all to What Are You Reading? This week we are joined by special guests Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder, the creative team behind Halloween Eve and the upcoming Rocket Girl. I spoke to them earlier this month about Rocket Girl, which surpassed its Kickstarter goal but you still have some time to get in on the action and rewards.
To see what Brandon, Amy and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Much in the way Marc Maron’s WTF podcast provides a more personal, and sometimes profound, look at comedians as they’re interviewed by a fellow comedian, comic artist and Savannah College of Art and Design professor Shawn Crystal has turned the spotlight on comic-book creators.
Earlier this year Crystal launched the podcast InkPulp Audio (available on iTunes here), and it’s already generating buzz among his fellow creators. The artist who introduced me to it said, tongue in cheek, that he’s “hoping Crystal will soon be the Oprah of comics.” While that remains to be seen (keep checking under your chairs for that new car), the podcast finds him talking shop with such artists as Sean Murphy, Eric Canete, Ryan Stegman and Rick Remender.
The idea for the podcast came to Crystal as he found himself at a crossroads.
Often when comic creators are asked about their dream job, most expect them to respond with a specific character they want to tackle, some fondly remembered superhero on which they hope to leave their mark. Of course, not all comic creators think that way.
Writer and artist Sean Murphy has made a name for himself working on almost everything but superheroes. Instead, he’s made readers take notice with the likes of Punk Rock Jesus and Joe the Barbarian. When he’s done work-for-hire, he’s mostly stayed clear of the usual suspects, with stints on former Vertigo stalwart Hellblazer and a spinoff book for Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque’s American Vampire. His actual superhero output is few and far between, but well worth looking out for — from his Batman/Scarecrow: Year One miniseries to the delayed-but-finally released Teen Titans one-shot.
Graphic novels | April was a slow month for new graphic novel releases, so the BookScan Top 20 had plenty of room for some backlist titles. The Walking Dead dominated, of course, but the 10th volume of Sailor Moon was there for a second month and actually moved up a notch. And the first volume of Saga came in at No. 12, perhaps because people were curious as to what all the fuss is about. [ICv2]
Editorial cartoons | Nick Anderson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for the Houston Chronicle, has responded to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s criticism of Jack Ohman’s cartoon with a cartoon of his own. [Comic Riffs]
Conventions | Jeff Smith, Brian Wood, Sean Murphy and Raina Telgemeier are the headline guests at the Maine Comics Arts Festival in Portland on May 19. [Foster's Daily Democrat]
DC Comics’ digital-first series Batman Beyond and Justice League Beyond will get new creative teams this summer, which will also see the official debut of the Batgirl of the future.
IGN.com reports Nightwing writer Kyle Higgins and Venom artist Thony Silas will take the reins of Batman Beyond, with Sean Murphy and Jordie Bellaire providing covers, while Avengers Academy writer Christos Gage and Superboy artist Iban Coello will take over Justice League Beyond. JT Krul and Howard Porter will remain on Superman Beyond.
However, before Higgins and Silas make their debut, writer Scott Peterson and artist Annie Wu will introduce the future Batgirl, who’s said to have a good working relationship with Commissioner Barbara Gordon, in her own story arc in July.
So this is what happens when you praise Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern run …
Let’s be clear: I do not generally have violent mood swings. My sense of well-being does not depend on the fortunes of DC Comics. I don’t pretend to have any special insight into the publisher’s inner workings, and I’m sure the reverse is equally true. However, after saying many nice things about Green Lantern a couple of weeks ago, and then eviscerating the humorless “WTF Certified” last week, it was pretty surprising to see the May solicitations address both topics.
NEXT, RAFALCA JOINS THE LEGION OF SUPER-PETS
The Green Team may have been a group of entitled, self-satisfied jerks with an abnormal need for validation, but if anyone can make them lovable — or, alternatively, entertainingly clueless — it’s Art Baltazar and Franco. I don’t see this book as DC scraping the bottom of the character barrel. Rather, I take it as a good-faith attempt to update a (perhaps misguided) concept for the sensibilities of our time. Not quite “at least they’re trying,” but … at least it’s not another big-name spinoff, you know? (Although a new Steel series is always welcome.) Regardless, the over/under for this book has to be somewhere around 6 issues.