The Black Beetle
Frequent readers of ROBOT 6 know I’m a big supporter of Francesco Francavilla, and particularly his Black Beetle character. Wednesday marks the release of The Black Beetle: No Way Out #3, the penultimate issue in the first of a series of miniseries for Dark Horse. As much as I was eager to learn about the pulp-fueled noir comic, I was equally keen to chat with Francavilla about his approach toward layout and storytelling in general.
As part of the interview, Francavilla shared some preview pages for the latest issue.
Tim O’Shea: Comparing the early adventures of the Black Beetle, as shown in Night Shift versus No Way Out issues 1 and 2, how liberating did it feel to be increasingly ambitious with your layouts on the pages?
Francesco Francavilla: Very liberating. One of the tricky parts of doing Night Shift was to have three small installments (chapters) of eight pages. I wanted each single chapter to be meaty enough to be entertaining on its own, but I also wanted each chapter to end with a cliffhanger. Going from that to a full 22 pages a month with No Way Out, I have much more room now to have fun with different layouts and give extra room for some big reveal sequences.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at all the comics and other stuff we’ve been reading lately. Our special guests today are Brendan Tobin and Pedro Delgado, who run the March MODOK Madness site. And with this being March, the madness is in full swing, so head over there to check out a lot of fun art featuring everyone’s favorite big-headed villain.
To see what Brendan, Pedro and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew talks about the death of … oh, wait, we already did that. In fact, nobody brought up [REDACTED] in their write-up this week. But they did talk about a bunch of other comics.
Our guest this week is cartoonist and teacher Ben Towle, creator of Oyster War, Midnight Sun, Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean and much more. Check out his website for all kinds of fun art and pin-ups (Alien Legion!).
To see what Ben and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
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 buy the leading contender for best ongoing series this year, Saga #10 (Image, $2.99). I loved the last issue focusing on the Will, but I’m excited at the prospect this one teases of Izabel returning – although in a red-tinged, seemingly evil demeanor. After that I’d get another creator-owned gem with Francesco Francavilla’s The Black Beetle #2 (Dark Horse, $3.99). I love the latitude Dark Horse is giving Francavilla in the design packaging here – that cover is something special — and luckily, the insides have the promise of being even better given what happened last issue. Third and last in my $15 haul this week would be Dark Horse Presents #21 (Dark Horse, $7.99). Criminally underrated and consciously mind-blowing, this issue promises three new serials debuting plus a collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Paul Chadwick about alien saucers. Why isn’t this a top-selling book?
If I had $30, I’d make it a Dark Horse trifecta with Conan the Barbarian #13 (Dark Horse, $3.50). How does Brian Wood do it, finding such great artists that no one else knows about like Mirko Colak? This time, Conan tries to conquer the desert. Then I’d do a Marvel trifecta: Avengers #6 (Marvel, $3.99), Nova #1 (Marvel, $3.99) and Thor: God of Thunder #5 (Marvel, $3.99). Avengers has seemingly the origin of my formerly most favorite D-list hero in the Marvel Universe, Captain Universe – until she upgraded to the A-list as an Avenger. Then Nova has a spirited, seemingly kid-friendly romp by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness. Then Thor … Thor. This thoroughly dark and mythic story has made Jason Aaron’s beard even more ominous than before.
If I could splurge, I’d get Alter-Ego #115 (TwoMorrows, $8.95). Normally a magazine about comics, in this issue they collect some lost gems – namely the stereoscopic comics (3-D!) – of the 1950s. 3-D glasses included, this issue contains work by Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, Joe Kubert, Curt Swan (!!), George Tuska and more. Truly a highlight of the week.
Welcome to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew shares their picks for who we think should play a young Han Solo. Of course, we unanimously chose Nathan Fillion, so instead we’ll talk about what comics we’ve been reading. Joining us today is special guest Tim Lattie, the creator of Night Stars. Tim is currently running a Kickstarter to raise funds to publish it, so head over there and check it out.
To see what Tim and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew shares their picks for the Royal Rumble … I mean, talks about what comics we’ve read recently. Today our special guest is Landry Walker, writer of Danger Club, Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Little Gloomy, Tron and more.
To smell what Landry and the Robot 6 crew are cookin’, click below.
To see what Josh and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
I covered The Black Beetle #0 here a few weeks ago, rounding up thoughts on the collection of stories from the Dark Horse Presents anthology. Now Francesco Francavilla’s pulp character has graduated into his own miniseries, the first issue of which arrived last Wednesday. The zero issue received positive reviews, so how does the first issue stack up? Here are a few thoughts from around the web:
Doug Zawisza, Comic Book Resources: “Equal parts Batman, Blue Beetle (by name, if nothing else) and Indiana Jones, the Black Beetle is an action hero whose escapades don’t leave the reader wanting for adventure, excitement or intrigue. At first glance, it appears as though Francavilla might be riding a wave of resurgent pulp popularity, but this first issue propels the property beyond simple mimicry of pulp adventures or following a predefined set of instructions for crafting a good story. While some readers may find Francavilla’s use of narrative caption boxes excessive, there is no denying their effectiveness in adding depth to the character as his action sequences progress.”
Censorship | At least one comic, alas unnamed, was among the thousands of books removed this week from a Turkish government restricted list. Most of the bans were widely ignored anyway, but Metin Celal Zeynioglu, the head of Turkey’s publishers’ union, pointed out one important effect of lifting them: “Many of the students arrested in demonstrations are kept in prison because they’re carrying banned books. From now on, we won’t be able to use that as an excuse.” [The Australian]
Publishing | Tom Spurgeon’s latest holiday interview is with Shannon Watters, the editor of BOOM! Studios’ children’s comics line, which includes Adventure Time, Bravest Warriors and Peanuts. [The Comics Reporter]
Francesco Francavilla has been showing us his pulp character the Black Beetle for awhile on his blog, and earlier this year the Beetle made the jump from the screen to print with a three-part tale in the Dark Horse Presents anthology. That story was re-released this past week as its own comic, Black Beetle #0, the precursor to a four-issue miniseries.
Not bad for a character that Francavilla re-discovered while “diggin through my things” back in 2009. Francavilla started creating stories about the Beetle after an informal poll on his blog asked his readers which character he should do more with–Black Beetle or a “sci-fi pulp noir” character named Max Malone. Maybe one day Malone will find his way into Dark Horse Presents.
In any event, if you like pulp heroes or Francavilla’s awesome artwork, this might be the book for you … and here are a few reviews from around the web if you still need help making up your mind:
Ryan K. Lindsay, Comic Book Resources: “The story is straight forward, as such a self-professed ‘mystery novelette’ should be for a zero issue. A special Nazi command has descended upon Colt City to steal an ancient artifact. The Black Beetle works to protect the item and the lady who currently curates it. The tale whizzes by with action set pieces for the Beetle to do his thing and then slower moments to expound character and plot. It is interesting watching Francavilla, as both writer and artist, structure pages. He isn’t afraid to drop plenty of six-panel, over-ten-caption pages while people stand still if it affords him a few breakout moments elsewhere to splash his art out for show. There are four splash pages and two dynamic, scattered double page spreads, where Francailla allows the mood and science of this story to cut loose. He obviously knows how to pace his story and gives himself room to make very pretty art.”
Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our guest today is writer and artist Jimmy Palmiotti, who you know from All-Star Western, Monolith, Phantom Lady, Unknown Soldier, Creator-Owned Heroes, Queen Crab and countless more.
To see what Jimmy and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
To see what Jessica and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Last week Dark Horse announced that work-horse comics artist Francesco Francavilla was joining the all-star line-up of creators contributing to the revived Dark Horse Presents anthology with a story he’s writing and drawing. Based around a pulp-noir character Francavilla created called the Black Beetle, and definitely looks exciting–and also positions Francavilla as perhaps the next big artist to segue into a writer/artist.
In recent years, artists turned writer/artists have been in vogue, especially at DC with artists like J.H. Williams 3, Francis Manapul and David Finch. Marvel has gotten in the act as well with Oz artist Skottie Young branching out to write the X-Men mini Magneto: Not A Hero. Seeing Francavilla being able to do that on a big stage is heartening, for his talent but also his work ethic.
In 2010 and 2011, Francavilla balanced drawing issues of Detective Comics, Black Panther: Man Without Fear and currently doing Captain America & Bucky while also being a frequent cover artist for Dynamite’s licensed titles. I’m excited to see Francavilla get this chance, and for us readers to get this chance to see more of him — just don’t be surprised if Marvel or DC snaps him up into an exclusive any day now.