INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
Conventions | More than 50,000 fans are expected this weekend at Montreal Comiccon, where comics guests include Adam Kubert, Andy Belanger, Becky Cloonan, Bob Layton, Chris Claremont, Dale Eaglesham, Dan Parent, David Finch, Karl Kerschl, Mike Grell and Rags Morales. Last year’s event drew 32,000, but organizers believe the inclusion of celebrity guests will attract significantly more attendees. [Montreal Gazette]
Creators | Artist, writer, and former carnival fire-eater Jim Steranko talks about his career in comics ahead of Nashville Comic Expo, where he will appear this weekend. He talks about learning to read — from comics — when he was a year and a half old, his many adventures outside of comics, and why he chose Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. when Stan Lee asked him which Marvel comic he would like to work on: “I could have nailed Spider-Man or Thor or the Fantastic Four, but that meant following Kirby. I might be crazy, but I wasn’t stupid. I pointed to Strange Tales and said I’d tackle the S.H.I.E.L.D. series, which was a Marvel embarrassment — the word ‘wretched’ comes to mind. I didn’t mention it to Stan, but I figured that on this strip, there was nowhere to go but up!” [Nashville Scene]
Marvel announced this morning that it will celebrate the release next month of Guardians of the Galaxy #1 with a series of six limited-edition trading cards available only at those retailers hosting launch parties for the new title by Brian Michael Bendis and Steve McNiven.
However, one of the cards will be even more limited than the others. To learn which one — Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, Groot and Iron Man — the publisher is pointing fans to their participating local store.
“We’ve found a way to bring the cosmic elements of the Marvel Universe to the center of the playing field,” Bendis teased last month. “Here’s a wide-open, brand new #1 that starts these characters on the most reader-friendly place you could ever hope to have them without taking away anything that made them special in the first place.” The writer and Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso talked more about the series in CBR’s latest “Axel in Charge.”
Guardians of the Galaxy #1 goes on sale March 27.
The Martians are returning to Earth in IDW Publishing’s new Mars Attacks series, based on the 1950s trading cards and the 1996 Tim Burton movie, and the publisher has put together a solid creative team for the project: Eisner-winning writer John Layman (co-creator of Chew) and Hitman artist John McCrea.
The Topps trading card company this year is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Mars Attacks; it started as a set of trading cards that were directly inspired by comics and illustrated by Golden Age artists Wally Wood and Bob Powell. Pulp artist Norman Saunders painted the cards, and you can see the complete set at his website (now maintained by his son). They feature flying saucers destroying the Golden Gate Bridge, entire cities being incinerated, a pilot set aflame in his cockpit, space-suited aliens menacing screaming women, giant insects, even a dog being zapped before the eyes of a little boy. The cards were marketed to children, and apparently they did quite well, but once the grownups saw them the fun was over, and Topps was compelled to revise some of the cards and then stop production entirely.
Most people are probably more familiar with the Tim Burton film based on the cards. IDW’s comics will feature new stories based in the Mars Attacks universe, but it sounds like the tone may stay close to the original. In the press release, Topps executive Ira Friedman said, “[John McCrea’s] experience drawing over-the-top violence on comics like Hitman, Judge Dredd and The Boys, coupled with John Layman’s penchant for twisted, offbeat humor makes them the perfect team to relaunch Mars Attacks.”
It sounds a little shady, but The Art Hustle is actually a trading card series featuring original works of art (backed by a photo of the artist), because why should baseball players get all the trading-card glory? You can mix and match and collect the whole series, and there’s also a set of menko (which are apparently like POGs, only rectangular). And the latest contributor to the set is Camilla d’Errico, whose works include Make 5 Wishes (the Avril Lavigne graphic novel), Sky Pirates of Neo Terra, Burn, and a new art book from Dark Horse, Femina and Fauna. Al Jaffee is also represented in this pack, but other than that there don’t seem to be a lot of comics artists on the roster.
In a move that most likely is causing comics collectors almost physical pain, the trading-card company Upper Deck is cutting out panels from old, rare Marvel comics to make trading cards for their Marvel Beginnings series.
The cards are made from actual panels of vintage comics such as Amazing Spider-Man #2. The Marvel Ultimate Collection Panel Focus insert cards, as they are called, will be the rarest cards in the set, at one per case. The series also includes sketch and autograph cards by a raft of creators, including Stan Lee, Mark Waid, Kurt Busiek, and Brian Michael Bendis; these will occur with a frequency of one per box.
The question is whether it would be worth some entrepreneur’s while to buy up all the cards, pull out the panel focus cards, and piece together their own Frankenstein-like copy of Amazing Spider-Man #2. Probably not, but it’s fun to think about.
UPDATE: ICv2 has the list of comics used.
Cryptozoic Entertainment is working with The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund to create a set of 70 trading cards that chronicle the history of comic book censorship. The cards will be released in July, no doubt just in time for Comic-Con International in San Diego.
In addition to the base set, special sketch and autograph cards will also be available. Already signed on to participate are Geoff Johns, Neil Gaiman, Darwyn Cooke, Gail Simone, Mark Waid, Brian Azzarello, Paul Levitz, Denny O’Neil, Frank Quitely, Phil Hester and many more. You can see some of the sketch cards that have already been created on the CBLDF site.
“The generous response from the creative community has been overwhelming,” said CBLDF Board President Larry Marder. “The most impressive gesture has been how many creators are briefly lending CBLDF their Intellectual Property for this project only. Creators letting us borrow their characters for these artists to sketch include Jeff Smith, Marc Silvestri, Erik Larsen, John Layman, Jim Valentino, Matt Wagner, Rob Liefeld, Stan Sakai, Eric Powell, Mike Richardson, and many others.”
You can find the complete press release after the jump.
Translator and Tokyo-dweller Matt Alt ran across some cool unlicensed Batman trading cards recently in a toy shop, and when he turned them over, the images on the back were even cooler.
Man, they made trading cards out of everything in the ’90s, didn’t they? Case in point: Written by Dennis Bernstein and Laura Slydell and illustrated by Elektra: Assassin genius Bill Sienkiewicz, the Friendly Dictators Trading Cards set from 1990 represented a rogues’ gallery of tyrants who were on good terms with the good ol’ U.S. of A. Okay, so Hitler’s a bit of a stretch. But from Papa Doc Duvalier in Haiti to Augusto Pinochet in Chile to Ngo Dinh Diem in South Vietnam, there’s no shortage of creeps, goons, and outright monsters with whom America traded the occasional Christmas card and/or oodles of military and monetary aid, and Sienkiewicz brings them all to ghoulish life. I particularly appreciate the “CANCELLED” stamp applied to the autocrats who eventually fell out of our favor. Poor Manuel Noriega, he never saw it coming.
(Via John Barber)
Free-form radio is an awesome but endagered art form, but this week it’s getting a shot in the arm from one of the media’s few other real Wild Wests: comics. Creators Matt Fraction, Evan Dorkin, Michael Kupperman, Danny Hellman and Brian Musikoff are pitching in to raise money for New Jersey-based WFMU via an exclusive donor prize pack available through The Best Show on WFMU.
There’s really no way to adequately explain The Best Show, which airs at 8 p.m. Tuesdays on listener-supported WFMU and online. Its host, Monk and Tom Goes to the Mayor writer Tom Scharpling, describes it as “three hours of mirth, music and mayhem.” It’s part traditional call-in show, albeit with a legendarily cranky host and weird group of regular callers. It’s part showcase for indie rock and alternative comedy, with luminaries like Patton Oswalt, John Hodgman, Ted Leo, Tim and Eric, Paul F. Tompkins and Aimee Mann making regular appearances. But at its core it’s comedy in and of itself, courtesy of Scharpling’s partner, Superchunk and Mountain Goats drummer Jon Wurster, and the bizarre characters he concocts as callers to the show. Ranging from the hoagie-eating, Eagles-worshipping Philadelphia native Philly Boy Roy to a vicious send-up of Gene Simmons to an ultraviolent senior citizen called the Gorch who claims to be the inspiration for Happy Days‘ Fonzie, The Best Show‘s rogues gallery and their long, largely improvised not-quite-prank calls need to be heard to be believed. It’s sort of like a three-hour inside joke, but once you’re on the inside, it’s so funny you never wanna get back out.
Fraction (who’s a regular guest on the show), Dorkin, Kupperman, et al are all a part of “The Best Show on WFMU 2010 Chump Steamroller Fun Pack,” a prize package available to donors who pledge $75 or more during tonight’s show. The Fun Pack includes a DVD starring Fraction, Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianakis, Tim and Eric, John Hodgman, Todd Barry, Yo La Tengo, Aimee Mann, Ted Leo and more. It also includes a set of Best Show Trading Cards designed by Chris Moses and Joe Allen, featuring art by Kupperman, Dorkin, Hellman, Musikoff and more. After tonight’s show is over, they’re gone forever, so be sure to pledge at 800-989-9368 or online at wfmu.org. In the words of The Best Show, “Good guys win — bad guys lose!”
AdHouse publisher Chris Pitzer has put up a Flickr set of his Alternative Artist Trading Card Series. What exactly is that you ask? I’ll let Pitzer explain:
Back in the mid-90’s, before AdHouse, I was a grade-A fanboy. As such, I thought up a project where I would send my favorite artists a blank trading card for them to illustrate. I created the back, which had a brief bio, sample art, and more than likely typos. There were three volumes of these cards. And by “volumes” what I would do is make a mini-book of each series that I would then send out to each participant of that volume.
It’s an impressive who’s who of the then-burgeoning alt-comics scene, including folks like Joe Matt, Xaime Hernandez, Jim Woodring, Evan Dorkin, Jeff Smith and many, many more. The art’s rather spiffy too. Chris Ware’s in particular is rather eloquent. (via Tom)