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Exclusive: Ted Naifeh’s Courtney Crumrin ongoing starts in April

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.

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Oni Press to publish color hardcovers of Ted Naifeh’s Courtney Crumrin series

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.

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Archaia to publish new Labyrinth graphic novel

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.

Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Alpha Flight

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Michael May

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.

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Comics A.M. | C2E2 attendance rises; Borders closing 28 more stores

C2E2

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]

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Watch a live performance of Courtney Crumrin

COURTNEY CRUMRIN live w/ Ted Naifeh & This Can’t End Well from theisotope on Vimeo.

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.”

Comics invade San Francisco’s Noise Pop this weekend

Noise Pop

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?

  • The Eisner-Award nominated duo of Matt Silady (The Homeless Channel) and Justin Hall (Glamazonia), both of whom teach at the California College of the Arts, will host a workshop on Saturday on comics creation.
  • Courtney Crumrin & The Night Things creator Ted Naifeh will host Courtney Crumin Live, “presented in traditional olde tyme radio play fashion,” on Sunday.
  • 30 Days of Night, Choker and Fell co-creator Ben Templesmith and DJ Samsupa will present a “cutting edge live-art demo,” which will be available to watch via webcast.
  • All this week they’ll have “sequential reporters” reporting form the show, including both Silady and Hall, as well as Jamaica Dyer, Greg Hinkle and many more.
  • Vinyl Dreams: a gallery of comic art on record sleeves. Sleeves to draw on are available at Isotope through Feb. 25.

You can find more details on the comic events at the Isotope website, and more on Noise Pop at its official website. Let’s just hope it doesn’t snow.

Sneak preview: Ted Naifeh’s Courtney Tales 2

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.

Ted Naifeh joins Batman Beyond?

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.

Please put Ted Naifeh on a Batman (or Robin) comic already, DC

Ted Naifeh's Detective Comics cover design

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.

See Naifeh’s full Detective Comics cover after the break, and visit his website to see his gallery of work, including Courtney Crumrin, Polly and the Pirates, Death Junior and, yes, Batman.

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Ted Naifeh’s sketches: Fun with Batman

Ted Naifeh's Batman and Robin

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.

Themed convention sketchbooks

The Royal Tenenbaums, by Matt Wagner

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:

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WonderCon | Photos from day one

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.

Joe Kelley and a really big fan

Joe Kelly and a really big fan

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A sneak peek at Ted Naifeh’s art for ‘The Coven’ co-feature

Art by Ted Naifeh

Art by Ted Naifeh

The DC Universe blog provides a first look at Ted Naifeh’s art from “The Coven,” the new co-feature that will undoubtedly lead me to buy Teen Titans for the first time in a few years.

I’ve been a fan of virtually everything Naifeh’s done — Gloomcookie, How Loathesome, Courtney Crumrin, Polly and the Pirates, Death Jr., The Good Neighbors — so I’m undeniably biased. Add to that a fondness for mystical characters in general, and Traci Thirteen and Zachary Zatara in particular, and I really have little choice but to pick up May’s Teen Titans #83.

At The Source, Editor Rachel Gluckstern chats briefly with Naifeh and writer Rex Ogle, who provide even more reason for giving the back-up series a try.

“… I love Traci 13 and Black Alice,” Ogle says. “Each is so intensely unique and powerful, and hello, witches! Both ladies and Zach Zatara have all this potential for great stories, but they’ve taken a backseat because I think it’s hard to write about magic. You want to say, ‘Aww, man, look, she’s a witch, so she can do anything,’ but what I want to do is teach these kids about what it means to play with the fabric of the universe. When it comes to magic, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

Ted Naifeh summoning the Coven in Teen Titans

Teen Titans #83

Teen Titans #83

Somehow I missed the announcement in DC Comics’ solicitations for May that Ted Naifeh, creator of Courtney Crumrin and Polly and the Pirates, is drawing the new co-feature that debuts in Teen Titans #83.

The news may provide a bit of context for the Batman sample pages and character sketches Naifeh recently posted on his website. (A multi-part backup story seems like the perfect way to test the waters.)

The co-feature, which I think replaces the Ravager story — sorry, I haven’t read the title for quite a while — stars the Coven: Black Alice, a goth teen who can temporarily borrow the mystical powers of others; Traci Thirteen, the daughter of paranormal investigator Doctor Thirteen who can tap into the magic of cities; and Zachary Zatara, the cousin of Zatanna who can manipulate magic by speaking backward. Rex Ogle is writing the story.

On his blog, Naifeh told fans this doesn’t mean he’s forsaking independent comics.

“For those of you worried that I’m going to be swallowed up by the DC machine,” he wrote, “rest assured that I will remain predominately an indy artist, devoted to my personal projects. But a guy has to pay the bills somehow. And frankly, I’m not above taking a few mainstream fans with me to the dark side.”


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