Comics | With the success of The Avengers film, Kendall Whitehouse discusses the narrative techniques comics have “explored and exploited,” including “multi-issue story arcs, crossovers, team-ups, reboots and multiple title tie-ins,” noting they not only help sell more comics but also have blazed the trail for complex stories: “The story has now become a world unto its own that allows the reader to explore whichever dimensions are of the greatest interest. Follow the events from the perspective of Iron Man or Thor. Or just peruse the core series and ignore the supplementary story elements. The series presents a nearly unbounded narrative universe for the reader to experience. It is easy to interpret this with a cynical eye as nothing more than a series of cheap marketing tactics designed to pump sales. And yet, when well executed, something larger emerges.” [Knowledge@Wharton Today]
Retailing | Saturday’s Free Comic Book Day also served as the grand opening for Aw Yeah Comics, a store in Skokie, Illinois, owned (as the name suggests) by Tiny Titans creators Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani and retail veteran Marc Hammond. [Skokie Review, Time Out Chicago]
If you are a fan of all-ages comics, odds are pretty good you enjoyed a fair share of comics involving Ty Templeton. So it did not surprise me when Marvel launched a new Ultimate Spider-Man comic (based on the new Disney XD series that premiered recently) and tapped Templeton and Dan Slott to co-write and draw a story for the first issue (which came out last week). Templeton will also be teaming with Slott on Avenging Spider-Man 8 (set for release on June 20). That just scratches the surface of what Templeton is working on–or as he put it in this email interview: “There’s always something else going on.” I’m hard-pressed to pick which of his new upcoming projects I am most enthused about, but the prospect of seeing him work as a live talkshow/webcast host nears the top of the list. Also, I am overjoyed to know that Templeton (a great creator with a wealth of knowledge and experience) is passing along that love of storytelling by teaching folks. Over the years, I have always relished interviewing Templeton and cannot believe this marks the first time we have done an interview for Robot 6.
Tim O’Shea: Did you contact Marvel, or did they contact you for this new Ultimate Spider-Man series?
Ty Templeton: They contacted me, but I’ve done a few things for the Spider-Man office here and there, so they were already in touch with me. I did a small chapter for an issue of Amazing about eight months ago, and a couple of one-page Spider-Man stories for Age of Heroes, and things like that.
Joining Smallville, Justice League Beyond, Batman Beyond, Superman Beyond and Batman: Arkham Unhinged will be Ame-Comi Girls, based on the DC Collectibles line of Japanese manga-style statues, and an out-of-continuity Batman series.
Brian Truitt nails the lede here, saying “DC Comics aims to make every day a new comics day.” Ame-Comi Girls, written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, will come out on Mondays, while Batman–which will feature tales of the Dark Knight by Ben Templesmith, Steve Niles, B. Clay Moore, Nicola Scott, Joshua Hale Fialkov, Damon Lindelof and Jeff Lemire, among others–will come out on Thursdays. So the weekly line-up of digital-first series from DC looks like this:
Monday: Ame-Comi Girls
Tuesday: Batman: Arkham Unhinged
Wednesday: The Beyond comics
Friday: Smallville: Season 11
“Our goal has always been from the very beginning to have something for everyone. The opportunities that digital opens up, it really allows us to go for as wide an audience as possible,” Hank Kanalz, DC’s senior vice president for digital, told USA Today. “The Lindelof thing will really appeal to tons of fans who don’t read regular comics, obviously. Hopefully when they come, they’ll see what an amazing medium this is and stay.”
Update: Via press release, DC has announced more details on the Ame-Comi Girls series. “AME-COMI GIRLS, launching in May, is based on the best-selling product line from DC Collectibles that brings the distinct Japanese influence of anime and manga to DC Comics’ female heroines and their foes. In the new series, the heroines must unite to stop an invasion by the female Braniac, who is aided by a group of ‘bad girl’ super villains. Initially, there will be five individual character arcs with multiple chapters, leading up to united, Ame-Comi girl series. All stories are written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray with Wonder Woman art by Amanda Conner and Tony Akins, Batgirl art by Sanford Greene, Duela Dent art by Ted Naifeh, Power Girl art by Mike Bowden and Supergirl art by Santi Casas.”
They also announced the creative pairings for the Batman digital comics: “BATMAN digital, launching in June, will take place outside of DC Comics – The New 52 continuity and feature a series of stand-alone stories by various creators that chronicle different cases handled by The Dark Knight. Confirmed creative teams include Damon Lindelof and Jeff Lemire; Jonathan Larsen and JG Jones; Tom Taylor and Nicola Scott; Ales Kot and Ryan Sook; B. Clay Moore and Ben Templesmith; Steve Niles and Trevor Hairsine; Joe Harris and Jason Masters; TJ Fixman and Christopher Mitten; Jeff Parker and Gabriel Hardman; Joshua Hale Fialkov and Phil Hester; David Tischman and Chris Sprouse; and many more!”
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.
It’s a week of familiar faces for me this time around. If I had $15, it’d go on Action Comics #8 (DC, $3.99), which completes Grant Morrison’s first story arc on the title — even though we’ve already had the second one; thanks, fill-ins! — as well as Supreme #63 (Image, $2.99), with Erik Larsen illustrating the final Alan Moore script for Rob Liefeld’s Superman knock-off (I’d love to see a well-done collection of all of these issues one day, now that the Moore run is completed). Also on tap, the final issue of OMAC (#8, DC, $2.99) and the long-awaited return of Busiek, Ross and Herbert’s Kirby: Genesis (#6, Dynamite, $3.99), because a man needs as much well-done Jack Kirby-inspired comics as possible, goshdarnit.
If I had $30, I’d add Hulk #50 (Marvel, $3.99) to once again celebrate what Jeff Parker had managed to do with a book and concept that, by all rights, should’ve disappeared a long time ago. (In all honesty, I much prefer the Red Hulk to the classic version these days, and it’s all Parker’s doing, along with his various artistic compatriots on the title.) Everyone who isn’t reading it: This is a jumping-on point issue! Try it and see if you don’t love it, too. And, despite the unevenness of earlier issues, Matt Fraction’s Casanova: Avarita #3 (Marvel, $4.99) is also a must-read; I really didn’t like the first issue, but loved the second. We’ll see where the book goes next.
Should I be splurging, then this week the splurge is on Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery Deluxe HC (DC/Vertigo, $22.99). One of my favorite comics of all time, I’m likely going to end up getting this over-sized, recolored reprint just because I genuinely can’t resist the optimistic, hopeful tone of the book and its love of superheroes.
More than a year ago Tony Harris used Kickstarter to try and fund a project called Roundeye. The first Kickstarter project was unsuccessful, but a second one was successful.
that doesn’t mean Roundeye died on the crowd-funding vine.
Image Comics announced today at the Emerald City Comicon that it will not only publish Roundeye, but that Harris is at their booth at the show all weekend signing autographs and selling prints for both Roundeye (above) and his other Image project, Chin Music with writer Steve Niles.
Writer and champion of creator-owned comics Steve Niles is using Twitter and other social media to find an artist to partner with on his next big project. He describes it as an historical drama about the Romans, druids and one of the greatest women warriors in history, so he’s looking for a professional-level artist who can draw historically accurate armor and action. Those interested can send submissions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alhough he’s being understandably close with the details, the setting and mention of an historical woman warrior suggest that the story could be about Boudicca, the Celtic warrior queen who led an uprising against the Romans around AD 60. IDW announced a Queen Boudicca comic by Niles and the artist known as Milx back in 2003, but it was never published. I’m just speculating, but perhaps this is a new attempt to bring that to life? If so — actually, even if it’s not — it sounds awesome.
As announced at WonderCon, Steve Niles and Matt Pizzolo have teamed up with Epitaph Records to distribute creator-owned comics. That enterprise now has a name, Black Mask Studios, and its first project–Occupy Comics, the activism-inspired charity anthology and successful Kickstarter project that Pizzolo headed up.
“Initially I was hoping we could partner with a publisher or retailer to work with us on distribution, but we weren’t happy with any of the deals we were offered,” said Pizzolo on the project’s Kickstarter site. “So instead I decided to invent a solution we’d be happy with, and it wound up seeming like a pretty cool way to support comics creators in general. It’s called Black Mask Studios and you can read more about it over at Wired.”
Occupy Comics is planned for release in late 2012, and will include contributions from Alan Moore, David Lloyd, Mike Allred, Shannon Wheeler, Eric Drooker, Ryan Ottley, Darick Robertson, J.M. DeMatteis, Joseph Michael Linsner, Douglas Rushkoff, Ben Templesmith, Amanda Palmer and many more. Ales Kot and Tyler Crook are teaming on a story called “Citizen Journalist” (above); check out more artwork from the anthology over at Wired.com.
Well, she listens to his soundtrack while crazily racing towards deadlines, for one thing.
At The Huffington Post, Dave Scheidt asked several comics creators what music they listen to while making comics. In addition to Staples, he talked to Becky Cloonan, Tony Akins, Steve Niles, Michael Kupperman, and Rick Remender. Who likes Charlie Parker and Brian Eno? Who prefers Meat Puppets and Corrosion of Conformity? Who’s into Kveldssanger and The Mercian Sphere? Only one way to find out.
Artist Stephen Downey (Torchwood) has declared March 1 “Creator-Owned Day,” and to celebrate, Steve Niles is offering free downloads of a story from his and Kelley Jones’ Cal McDonald: Detective Tales, Volume 1. The hope is that if you like it, you’ll buy the whole thing. That sounds like a very good idea to me.
The first Image Expo kicked off Friday in Oakland, California, with a keynote speech from Publisher Eric Stephenson that emphasized creator relationships as the company’s foundation, and laid out more than a half-dozen titles that will be announced this weekend for release later this year:
• Happy!, by Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson, a mysterious title the writer says is “in a genre I’ve never really tackled before — but with a bizarre twist, of course.” It’s the first of several potential Image projects from Morrison. [iFanboy]
• Confirmation of a third volume of Phonogram, by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson, called The Immaterial Girl. Gillen says the six-issue miniseries, which will likely debut in November, is “primarily about the war between coven queen witch Emily Aster and the half of her personality she sold to whatever lies on the other side of the screen. It’s about identity, eighties music videos and further explorations of Phonogram’s core ‘Music = Magic’ thesis. There is horror. There are jokes. There are emotions. There may even be a fight sequence. It also takes A-ha’s ‘Take On Me’ with far too much seriousness – which, for us, is the correct amount of seriousness.” [Kieron Gillen's Workblog]
• Chin Music, by Steve Niles and Tony Harris, described by the artist as “a 1930′s Noir, Gangster, horror story.” [Tony Harris]
The internet has been abuzz ever since the news broke that Marvel is demanding $17,000 from Ghost Rider creator Gary Friedrich in return for not countersuing him, after he lost his suit against them. And now someone is doing something about it: Comics writer Steve Niles has set up a donation fund to help Gary, and donations are pouring in. Niles told CBR that most were in the $20 range, so it will take a lot to make a difference, but Marvel’s action seems to have rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Jamie Gambell has pledged the proceeds from his February book sales to the fund, and other donors include Steve Lieber, David Gallaher, and Neil Gaiman, who gave the fund drive a huge boost by retweeting it to his large following.
The whole thing came together quickly over Twitter; after getting an e-mail from Friedrich, Niles appealed to friends to help him set up a PayPal page, then reached out to a number of prominent creators (not all of whom have answered the call). The goal is rather modest: “Looks like 6k will keep a roof over his head, so let’s shoot for 7,” Niles tweeted about an hour ago. The donations have been pouring in, but he will need a lot more to reach that goal, he told CBR.
Meanwhile, it’s a bit like the last scene in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” with creators hollering good wishes as they toss money into the till. “I just helped Gary. We might all need help some time. Good Karma, people!” tweeted Jill Thompson. “I am totally in,” said Gail Simone.
Legal | Antarctic Press has agreed to stop selling Diary of a Zombie Kid and Diary of a Zombie Kid: Rotten Rules under the terms of a temporary restraining order issued Wednesday by a federal court. Wimpy Kid Inc. is suing Antarctic for trademark infringement, among other things, claiming that its Diary of a Wimpy Kid parodies are too close to the real thing. Antarctic CEO Joe Dunn signed the temporary restraining order, signifying that Antarctic agreed to it; the two companies are negotiating a settlement, according to court papers. One interesting tidbit: Diary of a Zombie Kid sold all of 850 copies in comics shops in August, while the first printing on the latest Wimpy Kid book was 6 million. [ICv2]
Comics | Bayou Arcana is a new anthology of Southern Gothic horror comics with a gender twist: All the comics are written by men and illustrated by women. There are some pretty broad generalizations in this article — “There is a certain sensitivity that you find in women’s art that just does not appear in a lot of guys’ work,” says the project editor, James Pearson — but the project itself sounds interesting. [The Guardian]
Anyone who has had the displeasure of editing or reading poorly executed copycat literature is likely entertained by the core premise of writer Andrew Foley & artist Fiona Staples’ Done to Death trade collection: an editor who sets out to kill the writers of bad literature. This trade collection, which was released by IDW on September 21, had quite a six-year journey to get on the shelves, as Foley explained to me in this email interview. My thanks to Foley for his time. Once you’ve read this interview, be sure to read the late September interview that Foley did with CBR’s Shaun Manning.
Tim O’Shea: How long have you been developing Done to Death and how did it come to be at IDW?
Andrew Foley: It’s taken a little over six years to finally get this collection on the shelves. The original five issues took a little more than a year from to get from the initial pitch to publication. After parting ways with Markosia Fiona and I spent quite a while looking for the right publisher for the collection. In the early portion of my career, I had publishers I was working with: abruptly go out of business; unilaterally break contracts they’d agreed to; elect not to publish several graphic novels (at least one fully illustrated) I wrote for them while being constantly reassured they would see the light of day; stiff dozens of creators when the publisher decided the moment for their wildly ambitious anthology series had passed; and just generally try to advance themselves on the backs of passionate (if naïve) creators.
There are some great indy publishers out there. Red 5 springs to mind. But there are also a distressingly high number of predatory companies around whose sole purpose is to acquire or control as much intellectual property for as little as possible in the hopes that one will become 30 Days of Night or Cowboys & Aliens and get optioned for millions of dollars. It’s a bit like playing the lottery, only each ticket represents hundreds of hours of labour on the creators’ parts.
This weekend Legendary Comics announced that Steve Niles and Mike Kaluta are working on a new graphic novel for the publisher, an adaptation of John Milton’s 17th-century poem Paradise Lost. The poem tells the Biblical story of Satan tempting Adam and Eve, and how the couple is eventually cast out of the Garden of Eden.
Now, over on the publisher’s website, they’ve revealed the first piece of artwork for the new book. No word on when it will appear. “It’ll be a while,” Kaluta said at the panel. “It’ll take more than seven days.
After years of horror, mischief and mayhem, the long running series-of-miniseries 30 Days Of Night is pulling out the stops and becoming a full-fledged ongoing series. IDW has announced co-creator Steve Niles is returning to write the series and is joined by epic illustrator Sam Kieth, as they take the original story of Alaskan vampires into the bright lights and big city of Los Angeles.
According to the press releases, the ongoing begins when a cryptic letter carrying a postmark from Barrow, Alaska lands in the mailbox of a curious woman who begins delving into the vampire mystery.
“I’ve been wanting to get back into the 30 Days of Night universe and shake things up for awhile now,” said Niles in a press release. “I’ve just been waiting for the right moment and the right artist. I have the right artist in Sam Kieth, and the time is now.”
Best known for his work on The Maxx and various projects for Marvel and DC, Sam Kieth is no stranger to the 30 Days of Night universe; the artist illustrated the recent 30 Days of Night: Night, Again miniseries and has been doing a flurry of work both in the indies and at the Big Two.
Although he’s the writer and co-creator of the series, Niles has been in and out of the 30 Days of Night world, which is co-owned by him, IDW and artist Ben Templesmith. There’s no word on Templesmith’s involvement in the series as of yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he popped up with a variant cover down the road.