O Say Can You See: The Greatest Patriotic Super Heroes of All-Time
Large diesel-powered airships dueling in the sky. That basic concept caught my attention last week when I discovered the Kickstarter for Skies of Fire, a new comic created and written by Vincenzo (Vince) Ferriero and Ray Chou with art by Pablo Peppino.
To understand the full scale of the project’s plans, particularly given that the Kickstarter has already well exceeded its goal, I conducted a quick email interview with Ferriero and Chou.
There have been other steampunk Avengers, but with the Hulk in suspenders and a bowler? I’d read a comic just about him.
Anyway, Brian Kesinger is awesome and you should check out his blog and DeviantArt page. He also does steampunk other things, like Transformers, G.I. Joe, and Star Wars. But if steampunk’s not your thing, his Hip Hop Boba Fett and Pooh vs. Voldemort are cool, too. I posted bunch of my favorites below.
Not too long ago, Denis Medri received some attention for drawing rockabilly versions of Batman characters and an epic fantasy take on the Avengers. Most recently though, he’s completed a series of designs for steampunk Spider-Man, his rogue’s gallery, and a couple of allies to help Spidey out. You can see many of them below, but I highly recommend also checking out Medri’s DeviantArt site to see his current project in progress: Western Justice League.
The mythic world of Steve Horton and Michael Dialynas’s Amala’s Blade is divided into two warring groups: Modifiers, who use technology to improve their bodies and eliminate defects, and Purifiers, who eschew such modification. Amala, a young girl, is chosen to become the new leader of their country and to bring the two tribes together, but when strangers arrive at her house to bring the news, she flees into the night and joins a band of assassins instead.
Amala’s Blade will run as a three-part series in Dark Horse Presents, starting with issue #9 (on sale in February). The series kicks off with a battle of wits and weapons between Amala and a pirate captain. I was intrigued by the premise, so I asked Horton and Dialynas to explain where they got the idea for Amala and where they are hoping to take it; Dialynas also shared some of the concept art.
Robot 6: Let’s start with the elevator pitch: What is Amala’s Blade about, and how is it different from all other adventure/steampunk comics?
Steve: Amala’s Blade is about a girl picked at age 8 as a spiritual leader, raised by the state to stop civil war between two halves of the same country. She runs away instead, is kidnapped, and ignites 20 years of war. Recruited into a sword orphan cult instead, she’s trained as an assassin, and now she’s the sole surviving member. Making her way as a killer for the unscrupulous Vizier, her past is catching up with her in a hurry. To be honest, there aren’t a whole lot of adventure/steampunk books out there, and there’s certainly nothing at all like Amala. I wanted to do it because it was different, fun, and had exactly the right artist in Michael Dialynas.
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Oh, the delicious irony of it: Sydney Padua, creator of the delightful quasi-historical webcomic Lovelace & Babbage, has launched an iPad app, thus bringing the parents of the computer to its most recent incarnation. The app is free and includes one complete story, with another available for $2.99.
Like a long-form Kate Beaton comic, Lovelace & Babbage casts Charles Babbage (inventor of the first programmable computer) and Ada Lovelace (the first programmer) as steampunk heroes fighting a variety of evildoers under the aegis of Queen Victoria herself. Padua sets up her stories in an alternate universe but brings in plenty of real historical figures, and both the comic and the app are graced with plenty of footnotes. Padua has a talent for picking out the odd but interesting bits of history, so while the footnotes are scholarly, they are not dry.
Here’s some more good news for Lovelace & Babbage fans: Padua recently announced she is taking time off her day job to focus on her comics, an effort that has already borne fruit in the form of Vampire Poets, a prologue in rhyme accompanied by a few actual contemporary poems about her heroes.
Ben Towle has posted some sketches on his blog of a work that is not so much in progress as on hold: A graphic novel adaptation of Cherie Priest’s steampunk zombie novel Boneshaker. Towle has an interesting perspective:
As I looked to working up some drawings for this, I made a deliberate effort to avoid for the most part visual references that dealt with steampunk and instead sought out historical imagery from the American Civil War. My approach to this was just to forget about “steampunk” entirely and to approach the project as an alternate history of the Civil War.
In the end, what got him was the zombies, or rather, the daunting task of coming up with a visual take on zombies that hasn’t been done a million times before. He hasn’t given up, though, just put the project on hiatus for now… and he’s looking at some other books as well. In the meantime, enjoy the art—he has a few more pieces posted at his blog.
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes, and first issues so that I don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “Jeff Lemire’s Frankenstein is still awesome!” every month. And I’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.
Also, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell me what I missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
The Grave Doug Freshley – A lot of publishers are doing Weird Western comics lately and that’s just fine with me.
Spera, Volume 1 – I like the sound of this fairy tale in which a couple of princesses combine efforts to save their kingdoms. It’s not that I’m anti-prince, but that’s a cool, new way to do that story.
Captain Swing and the Electrical Pirates of Cindery Island – Warren Ellis doing Steampunk sounds thrilling, but really all they had to say was “pirates.” I bet this is still really good though, even if you’re pickier than I am.
Roger Langridge’s Snarked #1 – After a well-loved zero-issue, Langridge’s version of Wonderland gets its real, official start.
Writer Greg Rucka and artist Rick Burchett launched their swashbuckling steampunk webcomic today, Lady Sabre & the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether. As announced back in April, Rucka said the comic is “steampunk, pirates, western thing,” noting it would feature airships, floating islands, gunslingers and sword fights.
“Swords are cool. People fighting with swords are cool. Airships are cool. Cowboys are cool. Pirates are cool. Clockwork men are cool. Smart, savvy, witty women are very cool. Laconic gunslingers? Totally cool. Steampunk? Frosty,” the strip’s “About” page reads. “That’s what Lady Sabre & the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether is, that’s what it’s about. The adventures of the Lady Seneca Sabre and those she meets along the way as she travels the Sphere. Who she fights, who she foils, who she befriends. It’s about adventure and romance and excitement and, to paraphrase the great Zaphod Beeblebrox, ‘really wild things.'”
They plan to update the comic every Monday and Thursday, and they’re also selling a limited edition print (above) featuring the title character. Go check it out, or at least add it to your RSS feed for updates.
Writer Jim McCann and artist Janet K. Lee‘s Return of the Dapper Men (Archaia) will have its pre-release West Coast debut at Meltdown Comics (in Los Angeles) this Wednesday–with McCann at the store to help celebrate the event, as well as sign advance copies of the graphic novel. As detailed in the recent CBR preview of the book: “Welcome to Anoreve, a world in between time, where children have played so long it’s almost become work, machines have worked so long they have begun to play and all the clocks have stopped at the same time. This is how this land has remained, until 314 dapper-looking gentlemen rain down from the sky and set off in different directions to start the world again. Now Ayden, the only boy to still ask questions; Zoe, the robot girl all other machines hold dear; and the Dapper Man known only as “41” must discover what happened that made time stop, understand what their true places are in this world, and learn what “tomorrow” really means. The sun is setting for the first time in memory, and once that happens, everything changes.” There’s been a great deal of interest and discussion in Lee’s art, so I was motivated to email interview her so I could better grasp her artistic style for the book, which will officially be released on November 17. I can honestly say this marks the first time I’ve gotten to discuss the craft of decoupage in an interview.
Tim O’Shea: There seems to be an immense amount of trust between you and Jim McCann. On one level, McCann had an incredible level of trust in your artistic talent, despite the fact this is your first graphic novel. And you had to trust McCann to deliver a script that you could bring to life visually. Would you agree there’s a deep level of trust to your collaboration with McCann?
Janet Lee: Before there was a book, before Jim was ever at Marvel or I started showing art regularly, we were really good friends. That that friendship absolutely shaped our collaboration on RETURN OF THE DAPPER MEN. I can ask Jim any question, make suggestions freely, knowing that we’ll still be friends at the end of it. I would absolutely hope he feels the same way about me. Even when there’s a difference of opinion, I know Jim’s only intention is to make the book the best it can be, and I trust his vision.
Back in mid-May, Molly Crabapple and John Leavitt launched their latest project, Puppet Makers, at Zuda Comics. When Crabapple gave me the head-up about the project a few weeks back, I immediately recalled our enjoyable last interview (August 24, 2009), and decided to go for another round of questions. Here’s the official synopsis on the project: “Versailles 1685, France has industrialized centuries before her neighbors but focuses on creating exquisitely ornate robotic shells for the aristocracy called, DOLLIES. Towering, lavishly expensive, and run on electricity provided by damming the Seine. Only the court elite wears Dollies, but their upkeep is beginning to bankrupt France. During the king’s birthday party, his Dolly explodes but is found to be empty. Rumors fly, blaming THE SMASHERS, a ring of Luddite terrorists who may lurk within the palace. The church’s cardinal sends a neophyte priest, JEAN JAQUES, to uncover Smashers at court. Amidst the contrary, conniving and self-indulgent upper class, Jean is thwarted at every turn. As he begins to uncover the truth behind the king’s disappearance, he finds that decadence and deceit may be a greater threat to the throne of France and his own life than her missing monarch.”
Tim O’Shea: What is the core appeal of steampunk fiction for you as a creator?
Molly Crabapple: I started drawing steampunk pictures in college. A teacher assigned me to design a skateboard deck, and, rebellious thing that I was, I thought it would be hilarious to imagine kateboarding as the sport of trussed Victorian ladies. I drew a board titled “Lady Etheldrina’s Wheeled Conveyance”, which shows a bouffant haired aristocrat on a skateboard, which is then being hauled by her maid.
Retailing | Could Disney’s planned $4-billion purchase of Marvel signal the return comic books to the mass market? “I see the Marvel acquisition by Disney helping to expand the genre of comic books and remove it from the dusty basement of the world,” says direct-market retailer Creswell. “I do see Disney stepping in and offering retailers outside of the direct comic book market incentives for selling Marvel products,” Creswell said. [Reuters]
Publishing | Long-struggling e-book site Wowio reportedly has informed publishers that payments for the second quarter of 2008 will be made by Nov. 15. Wowio, which was purchased last year by Platinum Studios, was sold in July to a holding company formed by Platinum President and COO Brian Altounian. [Bleeding Cool]
Conventions | The inaugural Long Beach Comic Con kicks off today at the Long Beach Convention Center in California. Guests include Berkeley Breathed, Stan Lee, Tim Bradstreet, J. Scott Campbell, Amanda Conner, Geoff Johns, Dave Johnson, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Scott Lobdell, Dustin Nguyen, Darick Robertson and Mark Waid. The Long Beach Post and Gazettes Town-News have previews. [Long Beach Comic Con]
Events | 24-Hour Comics Day will be held Saturday at locations around the world. [24-Hour Comics Day]
Conventions | Heidi MacDonald posts her Small Press Expo round-up/wrap-up/photo parade. [The Beat]
Legal | New York City-based law firm Levi & Korsinsky on Friday filed a class-action lawsuit challenging Disney’s $4-billion purchase of Marvel Entertainment. Like the earlier lawsuit filed by Marvel shareholder Christine Vlatos, this one claims the proposed transaction undervalues Marvel’s stock. [press release]
Business | DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson continues her interview tour, assuring retailer-oriented website ICv2.com “we’re going to be looking for a real publisher” to succeed Paul Levitz as head of DC Comics: “This is not about replacing someone with a cyborg unit that will answer to me. We want a publishing expert.”
At MTV’s movie-focused Splash Page, Nelson highlights DC’s Vertigo imprint as “an area of great interest” that “could potentially offer amazing stories for our future television video game, digital and consumer products businesses.” [ICV2.com, Splash Page]