I rarely get a chance to interview two collaborators for a project, but welcome to my latest fortunate rarity. Writer Mark Sable is back at Image Comics, collaborating with Grounded co-creator and Amazing Spider-Man artist Paul Azaceta. The two creators were kind enough to contact me for a joint email interview. As noted when this project was first announced: “In Graveyard of Empires, when a young lieutenant arrives at Combat Outpost Alamo, a remote outpost in Afghanistan, he learns a new kind of insurgent math. It’s said that in war, when you kill one insurgent, you create ten more by angering his family and friends. In this story, when you kill one, he comes back from the dead to infect ten of your fellow Marines . . . Graveyard of Empires #1 (APR110400), a 32-page full color horror/survival comic that will appeal to fans of The Hurt Locker and THE WALKING DEAD, will be available for sale in a comic shop near you on June 15, 2011.” Sable and Azaceta also provided Robot 6 with a six-page preview from the first installment of the three-issue miniseries. Frequent readers of Talking Comics with Tim may notice that as of late, I have given the interview subjects a chance to ask Robot 6 readers a question. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Sable took this opportunity to invite folks to ask him questions in the comments section. He has committed to answering any and all questions, as his schedule permits, so by all means ask him all that you want.
Tim O’Shea: You two clearly went with an eye-catching, iconic first issue cover. Care to discuss how you arrived at that cover?
Paul Azaceta: Thanks. I knew right off the bat that I didn’t want a complicated cover. I wanted something that stood out and going with something simple and graphic was the way to go. I can’t say where exactly I got the idea for the skull with the poppy flower but when it hit me I knew I had it. I drew a quick little sketch for Mark and he suggested adding the helmet. Actually, the harder part was carrying that idea on with the other covers. But that was my inspiration, simple graphic covers.
Retailing | Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg reports that Borders Group may file for bankruptcy protection as early as next week. Additionally the struggling book chain, the second-largest in the United States, will likely close at least 150 of its 500 remaining namesake stores. Company stock plunged in the wake of the news. A Borders spokeswoman declined comment, but referred to a Jan. 27 statement from President Mike Edwards in which he raised “the possibility of an in-court restructuring.” [Bloomberg]
Legal | Rich Johnston and retailer news and analysis site ICv2 look at potential trademark issues surrounding Marvel’s “Who Are the Mystery Men?” They note that cartoonist Bob Burden owns the trademark to the one-word “Mysterymen,” while Dark Horse and Universal Pictures control the two-word “Mystery Men” — both relating to the characters created by Burden and the 1999 movie adaptation. Dynamite Entertainment also has laid claim to “Super-Mysterymen” for its Project Superpowers series. “I have not heard from Universal yet, but I’m sure Universal will proceed in an orderly and propitious manner,” Burden said. [Bleeding Cool, ICv2.com]
Could the popular zombie series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard be moving from comics page to television screen to game console? Signs point to … maybe.
Video-game website 1Up reports it received an invitation from Telltale Games to a Feb. 17 event at which the developer will announce five new multi-platform projects, including “one based on a just-launched property from the TV and comic book world whose popularity is changing life as some know it.”
It’s a fine bit of hyperbole that, nevertheless, hints at The Walking Dead, whose TV adaptation broke ratings records for AMC and received critical acclaim (including a Golden Globe nomination). The only other “just-launched property” that comes to mind is Cartoon Network’s Young Justice. However, that fledgling series has yet to achieve the heights — or the hype — of life-changing popularity.
As 1Up’s Frank Cifaldi notes, while there’s no evidence to push this beyond a tantalizing theory, the property “fits Telltale’s style of games rather well.” The San Rafael, Calif.-based company has developed episodic games based on CSI, Wallace & Gromit and Jeff Smith’s Bone. It’s now working on series for the Jurassic Park and Back to the Future franchises.
“Fun fact! NINE of the TOP TEN graphic novels in 2010 were creator-owned books! Walking Dead, Kick-Ass and Scott Pilgrim among them.”
–Savage Dragon cartoonist Erik Larsen, speaking the truth. Of course, the flip side of this is that NINE of the TOP TEN graphic novels in 2010 had major Hollywood properties to thank for much of their notoriety, Walking Dead, Kick-Ass, and Scott Pilgrim among them. (The tenth was a Superman book that got over with mass audiences largely on the strength of a fortuitous press comparison to Twilight.) I don’t mean to short-change the success of Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard, Mark Millar, John Romita Jr., and Bryan Lee O’Malley, but proponents of creator ownership and creators’ rights probably ought not break out the MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner just yet.
[Johnny Ryan:] You and artist Tony Moore are longtime friends and collaborators. You created The Walking Dead comic together. What prompted Tony to leave the series? Any drama, I hope?
[Robert Kirkman:] Well, there’s always drama when people as close as Tony and I work together. So, you know, sure. My favourite response to this question is that Tony got pregnant and had to leave the book, because that leaves things interesting and mysterious which is the best way to leave them.
The real answer is much more boring. We were very adamant about scheduling early on, and Tony—fantastic artist though he is—is much more the type that works best on a variety of projects, rather than a single, constant deadline, so we decided it would be best if we went our separate ways for the time being.
[Johnny Ryan:] I’ve collaborated a few times with other artists. It always starts off cool, but then I quickly become irritated and want to get the fuck away from the other guy as quickly as possible and then talk major shit about him on the internet. Which collaborations made you do this, too?
[Tony Moore:] Well, Kirkman and I have clearly gone our separate ways. We had our disagreements about how things were supposed to operate, and since then, our different perspectives have given rise to what each believes to be the key issues leading to our split. Over the years, he’s publicly espoused some views on the artistic process that are so fundamentally dissonant from my own that they will likely remain a wedge between us for a long, long time. I don’t talk shit on anybody, but I’m not going to hide or sugar-coat my feelings on the matter.
–The Walking Dead co-creators Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore mince few words in explaining why Moore left the hit zombie comic-turned-TV-show to Vice magazine interviewer (and Prison Pit cartoonist!) Johnny Ryan (himself no stranger to TWD). Read both interviews — after all, it’s Johnny Ryan interviewing Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore.
Broadway | The planned Jan. 11 opening for the $65-million musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark likely will be pushed back again, Kim Masters reports. Yet despite technical problems, actor injuries and repeated delays, preview performances are selling at an impressive 98.2 percent capacity. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Legal | Roland Kelts provides commentary on the passage by the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly of controversial legislation to further restrict sexual content in manga and anime: “Now we have Version 2 of the non-existent youth bill, with its opaque language promising to monitor depictions of fictional characters government officials decide are too young to be engaging in the fictional activities government officials decide are too harmful to real youth that government officials decide are too youthful to view or read about them. Meanwhile, it remains legal in Japan to possess child pornography, live-action or illustrated, rendering most attempts at enforcement toothless.” Meanwhile, Japan Real Time, the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal report on the new ordinance and the surrounding controversy. [TCJ.com]
Venom, Marvel’s salivating alien symbiote, will lay claim to a new ongoing series, and a new host, in March, the publisher announced this morning.
The title, which reunites Fear Agent and Punisher collaborators Rick Remender and Tony Moore, finds the symbiote bonding to a familiar figure — Marvel won’t say who — and working as an operative for the U.S. government.
Remender describes the book as merging “the same brand of ferocious hardcore violence fans of Venom would expect with the international high-adventure of The Bourne Identity, globe trotting from bleak Eastern European war zones to exotic Marvel Universe locations like the Savage Land. It’s James Bond-style worldwide adventuring with high-stakes espionage, intrigue, fast action and an opening mission that holds the stability of the world in the balance.” In short, the “international adventures of 00Venom.”
The new Venom will be introduced in February’s Amazing Spider-Man #654.1 — that’s one of the self-contained stories in the new “Marvel: Point One” initiative — before leaping into his new series the following month.
Since debuting in 1988, Venom has become one of the more popular members of Spider-Man’s rogues gallery and, indeed, the Marvel Universe, starring in more than 20 miniseries and one-shots. However, this new title will be only the second ongoing series for Venom, after the 2003 comic launched as part of Marvel’s short-lived Tsunami imprint.
See some of Moore’s concept art for Venom after the break:
Robot 666 | Take aim at The Walking Dead with Jordan Crane, Lisa Hanawalt, Johnny Ryan, and Jon Vermilyea
Whoa. These are pretty much the last official promotional items I ever expected to see, but man am I ever glad I’m seeing them: Alternative-comics creators Jordan Crane, Lisa Hanawalt, Johnny Ryan, and Jon Vermilyea have each created a Walking Dead print. Made to look like shooting-range practice targets, the prints tie in with Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard (and Tony Moore)’s series, the television adaptation of which will make its debut on AMC this Halloween. Each print is signed by the artist and by Kirkman himself, emblazoned with the “Grant County, Georgia Law Enforcement and Public Safety” logo, limited to a run of 100, and priced to sell at $40. Best of all, each artist worked in his or her own inimitable style: Crane’s features linework so impeccable it actually becomes somewhat menacing itself, Ryan’s is spectacularly gross and upsetting, Vermilyea’s is a riot of squiggly detail, and Hanawalt’s has a cat’s head instead of a human’s.
The prints were curated by L.A.’s Secret Headquarters. Click here to see them all and buy them, but remember: If you end up using them for target practice, headshots only!
(Hat tip: David Paggi)
The Walking Dead, the acclaimed horror series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard, will move from comics to television to prose.
Deadline reports that Thomas Dunne Books, a division of St. Martin’s Press, will publish a trilogy of original novels set in The Walking Dead “universe,” beginning in 2011. Kirkman will conceptualize and outline the books, which will then be developed by horror novelist Jay Bonansinga (Perfect Victim, Shattered).
The novels will mark the second time the world of The Walking Dead has appeared in prose: Kirkman contributed a short story, “Together, Alone,” to the zombie-fiction anthology The Living Dead 2, published last month.
AMC’s adaptation of The Walking Dead debuts on Oct. 31. Issue 78 of the Image Comics series, which Deadline says has sold about 3 million copies worldwide, is due in stores next week.
On my last stint as guest blogger here at Robot 6, I brought up the time-honored tradition of themed sketchbooks. The mention of that brought suggestions out of the woodwork of creative goldmines inside the pages of sketchbooks collected by fans and even pros at conventions. This week I thought I’d highlight a few of those.
First up is writer B. Clay Moore’s Timely sketchbook.
Here’s what Moore has to say about his book:
The T-shirt site Threadless has unveiled four new shirts by comic artists Jill Thompson, Cliff Chiang, Tony Moore and Art Baltazar just in time for San Diego. The shirts can be purchased separately for $20 each or as a collector’s set for $70. You can read more about how the artists became involved here.
In addition, the site has announced a new design challenge, where they ask artists to design a shirt based on a particular theme. This time around the theme is comics, and the shirt will be worn by a character in an upcoming issue of John Layman and Rob Guillory’s Chew.
This afternoon AMC debuted a motion-comic adaptation of The Walking Dead — or at least the first half of the first issue. Don’t get too excited, though, because it looks like this is simply a teaser for the live-action series, which debuts in October, rather than a full-blown push into motion comics. But I could be wrong.
Whatever it is, the eight-minute video features Juice Films animation of art by Tony Moore, and the voice of Phil LaMarr (Futurama, Justice League Unlimited). So, y’know, good stuff all around.
Comic-Con attendees will get a double dose of The Walking Dead with Thursday’s Robert Kirkman panel (4 p.m. in Room 4 p.m.) and Friday’s AMC panel (11:30 a.m. in Room 6BCF).
Threadless announced today during C2E2 that they’re teaming up with comic creators Art Baltazar, Cliff Chiang, Tony Moore and Jill Thompson to create a series of four shirts, each of which tell part of a story written by Thompson. The tees will be revealed at a party during Comic Con International in San Diego in July.