Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
Jan. 2 marked Robot 6’s third anniversary at Comic Book Resources, and once again we took over the CBR home page to help celebrate in style. Here’s a rundown of everything we posted, just in case you missed it:
[Note: this post was assembled by both Tim O’Shea and JK Parkin]
This is our final post for our big birthday bash, and what a post it is. No matter how much stuff we line up, people we interview, etc., there are still tons of folks we like to hear from and include in our giant New Year’s/anniversary/birthday activities. So, as we have in past years, we have asked various comics folks what they are excited about for 2012 in comics–something they aren’t working on and something they are.
There’s a lot of great stuff here–hints at new projects and even some downright announcements. Our thanks to everyone this year who responded!
I’m most anticipating the 30th Anniversary of HEROES CON (June 22-24, Charlotte, NC) . For any convention 30 years is an amazing run, but the fact that Shelton Drum and his extended family have put this show together every year with nothing but blood, sweat and tears is flat out super heroic.
On the personal front, the challenging and exhilarating ride that’s been Loose Ends will come to a close with issue 4. It’ll be bittersweet to send our child off to into the real world but I can’t wait for you guys to see the work Brunner & Renzi are doing.
I’m also super excited to dip my own toes into the Mignola-verse with the BPRD: The Pickens County Horror [March 28, 2012] and to read the end of Jason Aaron & RM Guera’s Scalped, which is my favorite series in years.
This sounds politic, but it’s genuine: what excites me about comics in 2012 is what’s exciting every year, the work of the talent. Seeing what the best are up to and how the up-n-comers have grown as artists and writers. In the new year, I’m also excited about illustrating several books and covers that feature my favorite Avengers.
Returning creators like Jo Chen, Dave Johnson, Paolo Rivera and J.H. Williams III are joined on the list by such “newcomers” as Francesco Francavilla, Viktor Kalvachev, Tradd Moore and Steve Morris.
As with previous installments, I’ve attempted to explain the appeal of each entry; some covers get just a sentence, while others receive entire paragraphs. That doesn’t reflect the quality of the image, but merely what I have to say about it.
With that out of the way, I present, in alphabetical order, the 50 best covers of 2011:
As we start to wind down our big birthday bash, I’m always reminded by our year-end “favorite comics” post of just how much variety there is out there in the big world ‘o comics, from Uncanny X-Force and Batwoman to Habibi and Love & Rockets, from small press to Big Questions, from Wonder Woman to Mister Wonderful, from Daybreak to American Vampire.
So here are the favorite comic lists from the folks who I have the honor of working with every day on the blog. I like to read these just to see what I missed this year, and maybe come away with a list of stuff to go back and check out. I hope you come away with a similar feeling.
1. Planet of the Apes
Written by Daryl Gregory; Drawn by Carlos Magno (BOOM!)
How often does a licensed comic exceed the standards of its source material? We can’t say “never” anymore. Carlos Magno’s lush, detailed art draws the reader into a Planet of the Apes more fantastic than anything we’ve seen on screen. Once there, Daryl Gregory’s story balances adventure and social commentary better than any of the film versions too.
2. Anya’s Ghost
Written and Drawn by Vera Brosgol (First Second)
Anya’s relationship with her ghost is as dysfunctional as the rest of her life and Vera Brosgol’s graphic novel is darker than similar stories in the high school, supernatural-buddy genre. Not that the entire novel is dark. Characters change and grow in positive ways, but any positivity at the end is felt more keenly because of what they had to go through to get there.
As noted in my interview earlier today with Eric Stephenson, Image Comics has several new titles hitting in early 2012 by some big-name creators–folks like Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples, Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips and Jonathan Hickman. Also arriving in early 2012 is a new book by two rising stars, writer Joe Keatinge and artist Andre Szymanowicz. Keatinge, who used to work for Image in a marketing role but left to pursue a writing career, and Szymanowicz, who has worked on Elephantman and Popgun, have teamed up to create Hell Yeah, the first issue of which comes out in March.
Keatinge spoke to our own Tim O’Shea about the concept not long ago: “The universe of Hell Yeah has been percolating in my head for a while. One of the first thing I thought of was superheroes being treated and named more like bands than typical super-teams. The first team name I thought was ‘The All-New All-Differents’, the second was ‘Hell Yeah For Justice.’ It struck me then that the name was the perfect embodiment of the book, especially since Hell Yeah For Justice is the group the series’ main character, Ben Day, will be hanging out with. So it was more organic, less market strategy. However, I will admit it makes for a pretty rad logo.”
Courtesy of Keatinge, we’re pleased to present an exclusive preview of Hell Yeah #1. You can see a different preview of it in Chew #23. Check it out after the jump.
[Previously on The Grumpy Color’s 2011 roundup: Tom and Carla sat down to discuss DC and Marvel’s corporate movements, how much cat-burglars love underwear, and how DC events progressed throughout the year to tumble right on into the New 52. Join us, won’t you, as Tom has asked if, in light of the success of DC’s reboot, Marvel will follow that lead with “Season One” and the Point-One projects, or perhaps something more… drastic?]
Carla: Oh Tom, you are adorable.
You see, Marvel did this thing, you might have heard of it: the Ultimate universe? It’s our having our reboot cake and eating our rich continuity other cake too. Two-fisted cake, sir! We can renovate and innovate to our heart’s content, rework the Avengers into the Ultimates, recostume everyone on the X-Men into a slicker, movie finish and draw readers in with a fresh setting and start. Meanwhile, business as usual can continue in our regularly scheduled books, and everyone should be fat and happy on delicious comics cake.
Most people would settle for being a death-defying stock-market genius and leave it at that, but noooooo, not Annie Koyama. She had to go and form Koyama Press, creating a home for acclaimed cartoonists like Michael DeForge and Dustin Harbin, and racking up Joe Shuster Awards for Outstanding Comic Book Publisher and, via the comics duo Tin Can Forest, Outstanding Comic Book Cartoonist. Not one to rest on her laurels, Koyama has provided Robot 6 with an exclusive look at her very strong-seeming 2012 line-up. It features new books from Tin Can Forest, DeForge, and Harbin–including the children’s comic The Playground War, whose cover you’re getting a peek at above–as well as the Koyama Press debuts of Jesse Jacobs (Even the Giants) and Julia Wertz (The Fart Party).
The full press release and the covers for the new Jesse Jacobs and Tin Can Forest books are after the jump.
A whole new contingent of fans are getting to know Ross Campbell thanks to his work on the upcoming Glory, but whether you’re a new or old fan of Campbell’s work, there’s one project you probably haven’t seen: Mountain Girl. Originally only available directly from Campbell at conventions, Ross has agreed to share the second Mountain Girl minicomic here with us today for our anniversary.
Launched in 2006 as a self-published mini-comic, Campbell continued to produce new installments of Mountain Girl annually for two more years. A fourth installment was thumbnailed but never completed. The comic stars Naga, a savage warrior princess living in a post-holocaust world. The daughter of a tribute of mystic cannibal barbarians, Naga’s story in the Mountain Girl comics shows the brutally muscled and tattooed badass fighting Beaver Gods, Shark Goddesses and other enemies. Thematically it’s similar to Conan or Cavewoman, but Campbell’s cartooning pulls no punches in its depiction of violence and savagery.
Although Campbell hasn’t produced any new Mountain Girl comics in a couple years due to other projects, the artist recently self-published a book containing the three minicomics and the thumbnails for a fourth. Campbell says he has plans to do a “rebooted/revamped” Mountain Girl in the near future. This exclusive preview today is the first time any full-length Mountain Girl comic has ever been published online. Thanks, Ross!
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Image Comics, the company formed by a group of artists who left the security of work-for-hire comics to create and own their own comics. It’s been 20 years of ups and downs, but one thing that has remained consistent is a focus on creator-owned work.
With 2011 in the history books and their big anniversary kicking off with the first Image Expo, a new ad campaign and high-profile series by big-name creators like Brian K. Vaughan, Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer and many more, I thought it was a good time to chat with Publisher Eric Stephenson about the state of the company, the year that was, their upcoming plans and anything else he was willing to talk about. My thanks to Eric for taking the time to answer my questions.
JK Parkin: Thanks for agreeing to do this interview, Eric. Incidentally, another feature we’re running as a part of our anniversary bash is one where we asked various comic industry folks about what they’re looking forward to in 2012. I got one back yesterday where the answer was basically “everything from Image Comics.” I find that interesting, because there’s a lot of diversity in Image’s line and although I think you guys probably publish something for every kind of taste, I wouldn’t think that every title would appeal to every comic reader. And yet I also find myself checking out at least the first issue of everything you guys have done lately. So from your perspective, what’s the unifying factor (or factors) right now among your titles, if there is one?
Stephenson: I think the main thing is that we’re moving forward and creating new things. We’re not content to just recycle the same old ideas month in and month out and then market it all as brand new. If this was another publisher, we’d be debuting our latest spin-off of The Walking Dead in March, but instead, we’re launching a new series by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, a new series by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra, a new series by Joe Keatinge and Andre Szymanowicz, and so on. For 20 years, Image has put its faith in creative people, and it’s the power of their imagination that links all our titles together, now more than ever.
Matt and Felicia, sitting in a tree — or, actually, more like a giant hole instead of a tree, and I guess Spider-Man being electrocuted kind of kills the mood …
Courtesy of Marvel Comics, we’re pleased to present an exclusive preview from Daredevil #8 by writer Mark Waid and artist Kano, with a cover by regular series artist Paolo Rivera (who returns to drawing the interiors with issue #9). It’s the second part of a crossover with Amazing Spider-Man #677, which is also written by Mark Waid and features art by Emma Rios. The solicitation text refers to the Spider-Man/Black Cat/Daredevil as a love triangle, so I guess we’ll see if sparks fly figuratively between Daredevil and Black Cat as the sparks fly literally for Spider-Man.
This is the comic that topped CBR’s recent top 100 comics of 2011 list, and many of us here at the blog are big fans as well. It’s kind of cool to see a title like Daredevil, which has had very strong creative teams working on it for the past 10 years or so, reinvent itself with a completely different tone and still remain impressive.
Enjoy the preview, and look for both Amazing Spider-Man #677 and Daredevil #8 in shops later this month.
Courtesy of Fantagraphics, we’re pleased to present one more preview from the publishing house–Dutch comics artist and graphic designer Joost Swarte’s Is That All There Is?
The book collects virtually all of Swarte’s European alternative comics work from 1972 on, including stories published in Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly’s RAW Magazine in the 1980s. It also includes an introduction by Chris Ware. Some of the stories were done in watercolor, retro duotones and Zip-a-Tone screens, and Fantagraphics is putting a lot of care into matching the coloring.
Please note this preview contains some nudity, so it’s probably Not Safe For Work and isn’t for children. Check it out after the jump. It comes out in February.
“You can tell I’m still making sense of it myself.” So says Sammy Harkham of the eighth volume of his landmark anthology series, Kramers Ergot, at one point during our lengthy conversation about the book. And indeed, Harkham’s side conversation is characterized by strategic pauses, halves of sentences that trail off and are abandoned as Harkham retreats, rethinks, and rearticulates. Despite his ebullient cadence – Harkham’s as great a talker as he is a tweeter – it’s quite clear that the amount of thought he put into this comparatively slim and quiet volume of his once-overflowing and raucous art-comics anthology is nearly overpowering.
So is the collection itself. Despite featuring a much smaller roster than previous volumes in the series, and despite a much less “noisy” visual aesthetic than that which has characterized the series since its phone book-sized fourth volume caused a sensation upon its release at the MoCCA Festival in 2003, Kramers Ergot 8 has an intensity that’s tough to shake. Contributors like C.F. (aka Christopher Forgues) and Chris Cilla craft uncomfortable but undeniably erotic sex scenes, which sit next to grim science-fiction parables from Gary Panter and Kevin Huizenga and gruesome horror tragedies by Johnny Ryan and Harkham himself. Fine artists Robert Beatty and Takeshi Murata contribute pieces as visually vibrant as the stories of crime and desire from Gabrielle Bell and the team of Frank Santoro and Dash Shaw are bleak. A cheekily provocative introductory essay from musician Ian Svenonius and a massive selection of racy reprinted Oh, Wicked Wanda! comics from the pages of Penthouse prove perplexing – but it’s a good perplexing, because it forces the reader to consider just how fingernails-on-a-chalkboard effective the rest of the volume is at discomfiting them.
With the book on its way to stores from PictureBox Inc. in a couple of weeks, Harkham took an hour before picking his two older kids up at school to talk about this very personal project. We started off talking about our respective babies; fitting, then, that by the end of the interview a fascinating picture emerged of what Harkham wanted Kramers 8 to be that proved every pause along the way was a pregnant one.
Sean T. Collins: Kramers Ergot 8 debuted at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival in December, but your third baby debuted not long before that. That had to be a challenge.
Sammy Harkham: Knowing the baby’s coming, you work knowing that when that baby comes, things are gonna shut down. The book only got finished mid-September, and then the baby came. It was funny, because I drew my comic [for the anthology] when the book was done, basically. I thought, “I’ll do a simple issue of Kramers, I’ll do a story for it, and then I’ll get back to Crickets.” But editing, for me, is like working on my own book, as if it’s fully just me. I’m thinking about it day and night, and it’s hard for me to then think of a story within that if I don’t already have one that I’m working on. So at a certain point I decided I’m not going to be in the book. Then it was clear I needed to be in the book, because I wanted a very particular kind of story in it [laughs]. “I guess I’m gonna have to do it.” It was a flurry of activity August into September, then it was done, then the book was done, and then I was just…breathing, you know? But I felt like, “Oh man, I really should be working right now before the baby comes.” But since the baby came I’ve still been doing stuff. You know what it’s like: a lot of tricky hours, and getting used to weird working habits. You work for five minutes, but you try to make it a good five minutes. You try to break it up. And I try not to lose my temper. I get resentful of the people around me when they’re asking for my help and I’m in the middle of something. [Laughs] If I’m in the middle of writing or drawing something, I wanna finish the thought. So I’ve got to think of those Dalai Lama tweets I read earlier in the day. [Laughs] You’ve got to get into the headspace where you’re malleable in that way, you’re flexible.
But Kramers was late this year. Nadel wanted it in July, but I’ve never been able to deliver that book on time, never. This one was particularly hard because there were so few contributors, so I couldn’t lose anybody without it affecting the whole thing. Whereas in previous issues there are so many people that unless it’s a really big strip – it’s a shame to lose anything, you don’t want to lose anything, but you can. You can lose a one- or two-pager. But with this, if CF is running late, there’s nothing we can do. I told [PictureBox Publisher Dan] Nadel that up front: “I hope to get the book done on time, but if Panter’s not ready, if Christopher’s not ready, if any of these people aren’t ready, we can’t do anything.” [Laughs] We’re at the mercy of them, really.
Our friends at Fantagraphics have provided us with another party favor for today, our last before we take a few hours to sleep it off and start again tomorrow morning. We’re pleased to present an exclusive five-page preview of Glitz-2-Go, which collects nearly 40 years of comic stories by underground comix legend and editor of the women comics anthology Twisted Sisters, Diane Noomin.
Noomin’s career in underground comix began in 1972 and included appearances in Wimmen’s Comix, Young Lust, Short Order, Arcade, Real Girl, Lemme Outta Here, El Perfecto, True Glitz, Aftershock, Mind Riot, Titters and Weirdo. The book stars her best-known character, DiDi Glitz, a “frustrated middle-aged glamour-puss and anxiety-ridden suburban Sisyphus.” This is the first time all of her stories are in print in more than 30 years.
Check out the preview after the jump.
Adding the RSS feed for Michael DeForge’s blog to your Google Reader this year was a bit like wrapping your mouth around the business end of a firehose. Barely a day went by without DeForge posting some beautifully strange, strangely beautiful new illustration or comics page. And at the rate he was producing work, there was no telling where it would be from — his two minicomics series, the art-world satire/science fiction Open Country and the kids’-comics oddity Kid Mafia; his ongoing bug’s-life black-comedy webcomic Ant Comic; “College Girl by Night,” his gender-bending contribution to the erotic comics anthology he co-edits with Ryan Sands, Thickness; the third issue of his flagship solo anthology series, Lose, from Koyama Press; various previously published works now archived at Jordan Crane’s webcomics portal What Things Do; comic strips and illustrations for magazines like Vice, Maisonneuve, The Comics Journal and The Believer; contributions to anthologies including kus, Smoke Signal, Gang Bang Bong, Root Rot, Sundays, and probably more that I’m forgetting.
But even more astonishing than the sheer volume of his output was its quality. As I wrote in CBR’s Top 100 Comics of 2011 countdown, DeForge published his four best comics last year, and many more thrilling works besides. I focused on that killer quartet of Lose, Open Country, Ant Comic, and “College Girl by Night” for this interview with DeForge, looking back on amazing year and teasing what’s to come in 2012.
Sean T. Collins: Sexy stuff first. I have a few questions about “College Girl by Night,” the story you contributed toThickness. Since you co-created and co-edit the series with Ryan Sands, I’m wondering which came first, the idea for the story, or the idea for the anthology it eventually appeared in? Did wanting to make smut also make you want to create a publication to house it for yourself and others, or vice versa?
Michael DeForge: My idea for the story came way, way later. I think that’s why I wanted to be slotted in the second issue instead of the first – when we decided to do the anthology, I had no idea what I wanted to draw yet. “College Girl By Night” was actually my second story idea, too. My original comic was going to be a homoerotic riff on the movie Class, starring Rob Lowe and Andrew McCarthy. I did all these character designs and had all these plans on how I’d draw their outfits and the prep school the comic would take place in, but everything fell apart when I actually started to plot it out.
Marvel has provided Robot 6 with an exclusive first look at February’s Winter Soldier #1, by Ed Brubaker and Butch Guice. Officially announced in early November, the ongoing series stars Bucky Barnes and Black Widow as what Brubaker describes as “a bit like the Mr. & Mrs. Smith team,” with Nick Fury as a member of the supporting cast.
An espionage thriller, the comic launches out of the revelation that the Russians created other Winter Soldier-like sleeper agents, and will feature new villains linked to Bucky’s Cold War history.
Check out the preview pages and solicitation text below. Winter Soldier #1 goes on sale Feb. 1.