Examining "Rebirth's" Treatment of Legacy & Promise of a Less "Grimdark" DC Universe
Ted Naifeh got his copy of the Courtney Crumrin hardcover, and it looks classy and gorgeous. Having a color, hardcover version of Courtney has always been a cool proposition, but the early peeks at the cover design didn’t do justice to the final product. Courtney Crumrin, Volume 1: The Night Things, Special Edition also features remastered art and a sewn-in bookmark. It’s 136-page, will retail for $19.99, and will hit stores in April.
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, I’d try something new first with the Xeric-winning Fantastic Life GN (Big If, $9.95) by Kevin Mutch. I’ll always give Xeric winners a second look, and this looks built for me: slackers, punk rock, zombies. Next up I’d get the ongoing adventures of Butcher Baker – the Image one – with Butcher Baker Righteous Maker #8 ($2.99). I’ll admit that the series went off a little bit around #5, but I’m still holding on for hopes it’ll right itself or I’ll figure out what I’d been missing. Lastly, I’d get Secret Avengers #21.1 (Marvel, $2.99). Seriously, is Rick Remender becoming the writer of all-things secret in the Marvel U? I’m not complaining though, as he’s bringing his Uncanny X-Force mojo and, from what it looks like, a lot of new cast members.
If I had $30, I’d get my usual pull of The Walking Dead #93 (Image, $2.99) and a Hickman two-fer, Fantastic Four #602 (Marvel, $2.99) and FF #14 (Marvel, $2.99). If you would have told me two years ago I’d be seeing two Fantastic Four titles (and two I’d be reading, no less) I would have been gobsmacked. Hickman does it again. And that’s it.
What, you say I didn’t spend my full $30? It’s a light week for me, so I’d spending the remaining on bags and boards or, *gasp*, food as it says in the title. Tijuana Flats, Taco Tuesday, be there.
Coming back if I could splurge, and I’d put down my tacos and pick up the ADD HC (Vertigo, $24.99) by Douglas Rushkoff, Goran Sudzuka and Jose Marzan Jr. From the outside it looks like The Hunger Games meets Ender’s Game, and Rushkoff looks to be just the one to make that mash-up more than, well, a mash-up.
Add another comic to the list of ongoing series starring awesome female characters. Starting in April, Oni Press will publish a full-color Courtney Crumrin monthly series by creator Ted Naifeh. The continuing adventures of Naifeh’s girl monster-hunter is in addition, by the way, to next month’s Polly and the Pirates, Volume 2, written by Naifeh with art by Robbi Rodriguez, so 2012 is already shaping up to be an excellent year for young heroines.
I got to talk to Naifeh a little about Courtney Crumrin and his plans for the series:
Michael May: Thanks for talking with me, Ted. Let’s start with you. What scared you as a kid?
Ted Naifeh: Just about everything. Around the time I was Courtney Crumrin’s age, I was going to summer camp, and they told us some of the lamest fireside ghost stories you could imagine. I think they deliberately stuck with silly, half-baked stories. Or maybe they were chosen because they were local. Seriously, one was a frontier nurse whose hand was crushed in a mine accident, and so they sewed on the hand of a dead miner who apparently turned out to be a mad strangler. That was about the caliber. But damn if they didn’t scare the bejeezus out of me. That nurse followed me home and kept me scared for a year. A few years later, the first half hour of the movie Basket Case freaked me out so bad I didn’t sleep all night. I never did see the rest.
Now I realize I was just a super anxious kid and the scary stories were what my anxieties found to latch onto. Growing out of that phase really felt like a triumph, like I had, in a way, traversed a monster-infested underworld and come out the other side. Years later, I found myself relating so deeply to the kid in Sixth Sense it was astonishing. Like him, I learned to make friends with the monsters.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Ted Naifeh’s Courtney Crumrin series, Oni Press will release color “special edition prestige hardcovers” of the series. Courtney Crumrin, Volume 1: The Night Things, Special Edition will hit store shelves in April 2012.
“Readers love Courtney Crumrin for how vividly Ted renders the magical world he has dreamed up,” said Oni Press editor Jill Beaton in a press release. “The original versions were wonderful, and Ted is one of those cartoonists who really understands how to use black ink on a white page. Despite the level of detail, he avoided over-rendering his drawings, meaning that the work is still open and has room to breathe. It also means there is space for color. Warren is highlighting what is already there, filling in an extra dimension that previously was left to the reader.”
Naifeh is remastering the material, working closely with colorist Warren Wucinich to create a spooky palette “that accentuates what everyone loved about the original black-and-white art while providing a completely different way of seeing Naifeh’s fully realized world,” the press release says.
In addition to the color treatment, Oni Press’ art director, Keith Wood, is pulling out all the stops to make the Courtney Crumrin, Volume 1: The Night Things, Special Edition special. “In talking with Ted about what we wanted to do with the hardcover,” Wood said, “he told me that it should look like a book you’d find on Uncle Aloysius’ bookshelf, something Courtney might stumble on when snooping around his office. It’s going to be a cool object as well as a good read.”
The book features a special silver ink, embossed cover and an old-fashioned ribbon bookmark placed in the sewn spine. The 136-page, 6” x 9”, graphic novel will retail for $19.99
“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished with Courtney Crumrin,” said Naifeh. “It’s been ten wonderful, creative years, and I’m happy to have done it at Oni Press. The fans have shown us tremendous support, and I hope they will enjoy the chance to relive these adventures with a brand-new hue.”
Check out some of the colored artwork after the jump.
Archaia has been doing a nice job of preserving Jim Henson’s legacy in comics form, with their well produced Fraggle Rock anthologies and the upcoming graphic novel A Tale of Sand, which is based on an unproduced screenplay by Henson and his co-writer Jerry Juhl. Now editor Tim Beedle has news of another Henson project that will hit the shelves in 2012: A new Labyrinth graphic novel, written by Ted Naifeh (of Courtney Crumrin fame) and Adrianne Ambrose (Fangs for Nothing, Confessions of a Virgin Sacrifice) and illustrated by Cory Godbey (who has contributed to the Fraggle Rock comics). Beedle was the editor of the Return to Labyrinth graphic novels that Tokyopop published a few years ago, as well as Archaia’s Fraggle Rock comics, so he has plenty of hands-on experience with Henson’s work.
Archaia’s 2012 Free Comic Book Day giveaway is already getting the most buzz of any Gold Sponsor books, as it’s a 48-page hardcover filled with new comics, but this should seal the deal: The book will include a Labyrinth story by Naifeh and Godbey.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday 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.
Even if I didn’t have any money at all, I’d stand on the street corner and beg until I collected three bucks to buy Alpha Flight #0.1 ($2.99). I’ve never not bought an issue of Alpha Flight and I’m not breaking that streak this week. Fortunately I have $15 and can afford to get not only that, but also Rocketeer Adventures #1 ($3.99), which I’m only slightly less excited about. And since I’ve still got some money I’d add Drums #1 ($2.99) – because it’s been a while since I’ve read a voodoo story and this looks like a good one – and Snake Eyes #1 ($3.99). I’m not a GI Joe fan, but ninjas are cool and expect that I’d be entertained by a comic about one who fights an evil spy organization.
Conventions | Early estimates place attendance three-day attendance at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo at 34,000, up from 27,500 at last year’s inaugural event. “Last year was disappointing,” said Eric Thornton, manager of Chicago Comics. “But now you definitely see this starting to take hold.” [Chicago Tribune]
Retailing | Borders Group has announced it will close an additional 28 stores, bringing the total to 228. The bookseller, which filed for bankruptcy protection on Feb. 16, had used the possibility of as many as 75 closings as leverage to negotiate lease concessions. This latest wave will bring the chain’s remaining store total to about 400. [Media Decoder]
Publishers | Chicago-based publisher Archaia, which expects sales of $11 million this year, has raised capital from a group of investors with local connections. [Crain’s Chicago Business, via ICv2.com]
Here’s another one that came out of San Francisco’s Noise Pop event last month — Courtney Crumrin creator Ted Naifeh and indie musicians This Can’t End Well did a live performance of Naifeh’s Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things.
“Performed before a truly packed house for San Francisco’s beloved indie music festival, Noise Pop, and truly a shining moment for the first-ever Noise Pop Culture Club,” said Isotope Comics owner James Sime on the store’s blog. “I think you will all really enjoy watching it and seeing what Ted and his merry band of fabulous musicians, actors and sound effectians brought to wow us with.”
Noise Pop, a music, culture and arts festival that’s kinda like Austin’s South by Southwest, kicked off in San Francisco this week, and this weekend many comic book folks will join in on the fun. And at the center of it all is Isotope Comics, as owner James Sime is serving as “Comics Curator” for the event.
So what have they got planned?
When he hasn’t been busy sketching Batman and collaborating with Holly Black on the Good Neighbors graphic novels, Ted Naifeh has been working on the second volume of Courtney Crumrin Tales, which shift the focus away from misfit magician Courtney to her Uncle Aloysius. It’s been a while; the first book came out in 2005 and is so far out of print that used copies start at over $20 on Amazon
The new volume is finally done and Ted has a seven-page preview of Crumrin Tales 2 up at his blog, showing stylish people doing evil things, which is always a lot of fun to look at.
Last week saw the release of the new ongoing Batman Beyond series by Adam Beechen & Ryan Benjamin, and today comes a well-sourced rumor that noted independent artist Ted Naifeh (Courtney Crumrin) might be joining the book. Over on his blog this morning, Naifeh posts seven sketches of characters from Batman Beyond and an open-ended, almost rhetorical question, asking if the title needed a fill-in artist.
Back in September, Robot 6’s own Kevin Melrose made the case for getting DC to put Naifeh on a Batbook — and this might be the first signs of DC listening. In 2010 Naifeh openly lobbied for a job at DC with a series of stellar sketches of DC characters, and in May he did a back-up in Teen Titans.
Anyway, enough speculation — Here’s one of the images; click on it to jump to Naifeh’s blog to see all seven.
We’ve spotlighted that Batman art of Ted Naifeh a couple of times already, but in the past couple of days the Courtney Crumrin creator has moved from character designs and sample pages to taking a stab at covers for Detective Comics and Batman: The Streets of Gotham. The results, needless to say, are lovely.
The final installment (I think) of Naifeh’s Teen Titans co-feature hits shelves today. After seeing his take on the Boy Wonder, I’d pay good money to see DC hire him next for a Robin series.
Every now and then, Ted Naifeh gets the urge to draw some Batman. He just posted five sketches on his blog, ranging from the beautifully detailed drawing above (the sphinx is based on the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco) to a jaunty manga-esque ink sketch of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson.
One of the more unique aspects of comics conventions in the United States is the general amount of creativity bursting at the seems. One of the biggest signs of this is the generosity that most artists have for doing rough sketches to attendees.
Generally artists will do these for free, or for a small fee, but if you can get your hands on one it’s well worth the effort. I’ve been collecting sketches for several years at cons, and I thought myself the norm until I first glimpsed the themed sketchbook of Oni Press Editor-in-Chief James Lucas Jones.
In 2002, Jones began having artists and friends in the industry contribute to an ongoing sketchbook centered on the characters from the 2001 Wes Anderson film The Royal Tenenbaums. It’s been years since I’ve seen it, and it’s probably filled to the brim and Jones moved on to other themes. But it always sticks in my mind as one of the first themed con sketchbooks and one of the best. Here’s a sample:
Wow, I’m tired .. had a blast today, but I’m wiped out. I wanted to write something up about the first day of WonderCon, but instead I’m just gonna show off some pictures and go to bed. It’s been a long day, and tomorrow will be longer.
Note that the first six pics here are courtesy of Carla Hoffman, so I’m not entirely sure what some of them are of; the rest are mine.