Thirty-six questions. Six answers. One random number generator. Welcome to Robot Roulette, where creators roll the virtual dice and answer our questions about their lives, careers, interests and more.
Joining us today is Van Jensen, writer of the Pinocchio Vampire Slayer series and Green Lantern Corps.
Now let’s get to it …
Did we know there’s another Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer story in the works? ‘Cause I just stumbled across this image on the PVS website with the announcement that it’s something creators Dusty Higgins and Van Jensen are working on.
In a throwaway line from Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer, Volume 3, a character mentions a vampire-infested zoo and quips, “Remember the vampire gorilla?” Higgins and Jensen not only remember it, they “have always planned on eventually telling it.” It’ll be a short story featuring all the vampire-slaying puppets from the graphic novels; the creators just have to work out the details of how it’ll be released.
Update: Jensen provides some additional PVS-related info in our comments section: “Also, for those who missed the announcement at Comic-Con, Top Shelf Productions will be publishing an omnibus edition of PVS in 2014. We’re thrilled to partner with the Top Shelf folks and to have the entire story in one place. Digital editions will be coming as well. Release dates not set as of yet, but we’ll announce all of that soon.”
It was only three months ago that writer Joshua Hale Fialkov abruptly resigned from DC Comics’ Green Lantern Corps and Red Lanterns before his runs could even begin due to, as Comic Book Resources and Bleeding Cool reported, an editorial edict to kill off John Stewart. The news was met initially by a “no comment” from the publisher, followed by an assurance from incoming Green Lantern Corps co-plotter Robert Venditti that he and writer Van Jensen “have never even contemplated killing John Stewart.” A DC representative added, “Seeing a lot of unverified reports on this. To clarify: John Stewart is not going anywhere.”
So why bring this up now? Because this week’s Green Lantern Corps #21, the first issue of Jensen and Venditti’s tenure, features a pretty obvious wink and nod to the March controversy.
At least a couple of times over the course of the weekend, Bill Willingham talked about his goal for the Fabletown and Beyond convention he hosted in Rochester, Minnesota. He may not have actually used the term “bucket list,” but that’s essentially what the show seems to have been for him: an opportunity to throw the kind of comics convention he wanted to attend and to see if other creators and fans would enjoy it just as much. From the standing ovation he received at Sunday’s closing ceremony, it appears he was right.
Chris Roberson pointed out to me that Fabletown and Beyond was a lot like fantasy and sci-fi literary conventions. It had that feel from the opening ceremony (an idea Willingham freely admits to stealing from fantasy/sci-fi shows) to the final farewell. It was completely focused on comics and storytelling, and it was a uniquely intimate experience. The show was only designed to accommodate a maximum of 500 attendees, and it got 505. That meant I kept seeing the same faces over and over again all weekend — creators and fans alike — so that by the third day, even people I never talked to were familiar. Instead of a hectic event where people rushed from place to place trying to see and do everything they wanted to, it was a relaxed environment that felt more like just hanging out with friends. Really smart, interesting friends.
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Following events like last year’s ImageCon and MorrisonCon, Fabletown and Beyond is the most recent comic convention devoted to serving a specific segment of readers: in this case, fans of what Fables creator Bill Willingham describes as “Mythic Fiction.” Fabletown and Beyond takes place this weekend in Willingham’s community of Rochester, Minnesota, and celebrates comics that include and update “fairytales, folklore, myth, legend, talking animals, and characters from literature.”
The festivities begin at 3 p.m. Friday and run practically non-stop until 6 p.m. Sunday. Programming is scheduled to go late into the evening on Friday and Saturday with the convention’s bar (an even more important element of this convention than most) staying open until 2 a.m.
The convention will take place in two locations, connected by skyways to allow attendees protection from the Minnesota weather. The dealers’ area, Artist
Alley Boulevard, and programming rooms will be located in in the Mayo Civic Center, with the opening ceremony and other special events held in the Kahler Grand Hotel. The hotel is also the location of the Elizabethan bar (re-named the Kill Shakespeare Bar for the weekend) that will be taken over for the exclusive use of the convention.
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 make up for lost time and get the first collection of Mind the Gap (Image, $9.99). Rodin Esquejo is an absolute gem in my opinion, and Jim McCann looks to have crafted a story with some definite suspenseful power. After that I’d get James Stokoe’s Godzilla: Half Century War #3 (IDW, $3.99). This has become one of my favorite serials to come out, which for a work-for-hire book is tough. Instead of doing a story in service of the concept, it uses the concept to create a great story – and Stokoe really loves Godzilla and puts a face to those humans who oppose him. Finally, I’d get the free Cyber Force #1 (Image/Top Cow, $0) because, well, it’s free. I have an unabashed love for the original Cyber Force, and previous reboots haven’t really gelled the way I wanted to. I’m excited to see what Matt Hawkins brings to this, and I’m glad Silvestri is involved even if only on covers and designs.
If I had $30, I’d first stop for Glory #29 (Image, $3.99). I tend to read this series in built-up bursts, and I’m overdue to catch up. I like the monstrous rage Ross Campbell brings to this, and seeing Joe Keatinge capitalize on the artist he has to create a broader story is thrilling. After that I’d get a Marvel three-pack in Hawkeye #3 (Marvel, $2.99), Daredevil #19 (Marvel, $2.99) and AvX Consequences #2 (Marvel, $3.99). I’d buy David Aja illustrating a phone book – seeing him getting a great story is icing on the cake.
If I could splurge, I’d lash onto Charles Burns’ The Hive (Pantheon, $21.95). I’m reluctantly late to the game when it comes to Charles Burns, but X’ed Out clued me into his awesome cartooning power. After devouring his previous work, I’m excited to read The Hive as it first comes out. I don’t quite know what to expect, but after finally coming around to Burn’s skill I’m up for pretty much anything. Continue Reading »
Next month will see the release of the final installment in Van Jensen‘s and Dusty Higgins‘ Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer series of books, Of Wood and Blood, Part Two. To mark this milestone as well as find out what creative projects he intends to pursue in the future, I cajoled longtime friend of the blog Jensen to do an interview. I was pleased to learn that while Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer is coming to a close, Joe Pimienta is illustrating Jensen’s upcoming graphic novel, The Leg. More immediately, Jensen will be busy this upcoming weekend in Atlanta–as he will be at Dragon*Con, so be sure to visit him if you are there.
Tim O’Shea: You’re ending Pinocchio on a high note, while the project seems to still be doing well. Why step away — and how hard was it to do?
Van Jensen: When Dusty and I were working on the first volume, I came up with this notion of how to explain where Pinocchio came from (the original story has him as a sentient piece of wood that is carved into a puppet, not a puppet that’s magically brought to life) and tie that into the origin of the vampires. We realized it would make a perfect contained storyline; the question was always whether the book would sell enough for us to explore the whole story.
[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.
Back in 2009 writer Van Jensen and artist Dusty Higgins introduced three simple yet brilliant words into the comic book vocabulary–Pinocchio Vampire Slayer. Over the course of the previous two volumes, the little wooden boy and his friends won our hearts–and staked a few along the way–as each lie brought a new weapon to use against Pinocchio’s enemies.
The print version of the final volume, Of Wood and Blood, isn’t due until this summer, but SLG Publishing will release it as a series of digital comics on comiXology and their own website (we managed to get an advance copy, which you can read right now). The first issue is free, while subsequent issues will cost 99 cents.
I caught up with Jensen and Higgins to talk about the third volume, what the series has meant to them and what they plan to do after it’s finished.
JK Parkin: What was going through your heads as you put the finishing touches on this volume? Was it bittersweet, relief, accomplishment … or some combination of all three? Did the fact that this is your last hurrah with these characters make it more difficult to finish?
Van Jensen: It was kind of an emotional conclusion for me, I’ll admit. I didn’t want to say goodbye to any of the characters, even the drunkards in the bar in Rome. Beyond that, this third book is in some ways a long meditation on death (don’t worry, there’s still plenty of humor!), so I think I’d been in a pretty dark mindset for the months that I was writing it. But, as usual, I was mostly excited to see Dusty take my script and bring it to life.
Dusty Higgins: What keeps popping back into my head as I finish these last pages (and I’ve still got a lot to go) is a sense of wonder that three years into this project I’m still working on it. When I first approached Van the with the idea, I wouldn’t have guessed I’d be working on a third volume. I’d actually intended to get that first book out and move on to something else, but things happen and the story took on a life of its own. It’s always a bit sad to look at a page and think, that might be the last time I draw that character and there are redshirt vampires I’ve felt that way about, but it’s also a relief knowing soon our foray into Pinocchio’s world will be complete in a way that Van and I are both satisfied with. We didn’t make concessions on the story, we told it the way we wanted to and we’re not dragging it out for the sake of dragging it out. Knowing you have that creative freedom and being able to finish a story the way you feel it should finish… that’s what makes me want to keep doing this.
Writer Van Jensen and artist Dusty Higgins announced in December that the third and final volume of their Pinocchio Vampire Slayer saga, Of Wood and Blood, will begin serialization this month. While the previous volumes were released as graphic novels, volume three will begin life as a digital comic available on comiXology and SLG Publishing’s website before it becomes a real boy, er, book next summer.
SLG plans to post the first and second issues on their site later this week. The first issue will be available for free, and each subsequent issue will be 99 cents. If you don’t want to wait to read the first issue, though, we’ve got you covered — you can read it right here, right now!
Check out Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer: Of Wood and Blood #1 below, and be sure to read the interview I did with Jensen and Higgins.
A couple of weeks ago, I got to thinking about the holidays and comics. More exactly, I started wondering what some creators might say if i asked them for their favorite comics-related memory. As I got into contact with some creators, they did not have a favorite story per se, but those recollections were definitely memorable. Bottom line, these storytellers not surprisingly had some great stories to share. My holiday memory is an odd one, as a kid in the 1970s reading the Doonesbury comic strip where Rev. Scott Sloan had opening remarks before the Christmas pageant, where he noted that the part of the Baby Jesus would be played by a 40-watt light bulb. A lifelong Doonesbury fan, there are few strips that have made me laugh longer than that one. Told you it was an odd one. Now on to the storytellers with far better tales. My thanks to everyone that responded. Once you’ve read them all, please be sure to chime in with your most memorable comics-related holiday recollection in the comments section.
Every Christmas, comics would show up in my stocking. They’d be rolled up, which I’m sure breaks the heart of every collector out there, but it didn’t bother me much. Comics were for reading. For some reason, my mother thought I liked Thor. I wasn’t a Thor guy, except when he was hanging out in the Avengers. I was, and still am, a Captain America super-fan. How could my Mom not know this? But every year I’d get a couple more Thor comics.
Fast-forward 35 years. I’m the official stocking-stuffer in the household. My wife is the queen of holiday organization, but the stocking assignment has always been mine, primarily because it’s the kind of job you can give to a procrastinator. I can run out on Christmas Eve and grab everything I need: gum, iTunes gift cards, candy bars, extra batteries… and comics. See, my son is 15, and he IS a Thor guy, so I usually try to round up something Asgardian for him, as well as a something with Atomic Robo or Axe Cop. I don’t understand the clothing my daughter is asking for (an “infinity scarf” sounds like something Dr. Who would wear), but by gum, I do know my son’s taste in comics.
The third and final volume of Van Jensen and Dusty Higgins’ Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer trilogy will debut next month as a serialized digital comic, available through the SLG Publishing website and comiXology.
Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer: Of Wood and Blood picks up where the cliffhanger ending of the second volume left off, with Pinocchio and his friends shipwrecked and Carlotta in the clutches of the vampires. The first issue will be available for free, and each subsequent issue will be 99 cents. Jensen said they decided to serialize the book digitally to support SLG publisher Dan Vado’s digital first initiative, in which SLG comics debut electronically. A print edition of Of Wood and Blood is planned for summer 2012.
You can check out the cover for the second issue, which also comes out in January, after the jump.
Four calling birds, three french hens, two turtle doves … welcome to day three of our holiday gift-giving guide, where we ask comic pros:
1. What comic-related gift or gifts would you recommend giving this year, and why?
2. What gift (comic or otherwise) is at the top of your personal wish list, and why?
A great big thank you to everyone who helped us out this year, including the ones who’ll be showcased tomorrow. Be sure to come back then for our big wrap-up!
1. The Simpsons/Futurama Crossover Crisis. Leela helps Maggie deal with school bullies. Homer and Bender go drinking. England invades the USA. Come on, you need this.
Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery. The most ludicrous and wonderful supporting character from Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol got his own miniseries, and it’s just now being reprinted for the first time. I loved this miniseries when it first came out, and I’m gearing up to love it all over again.
Starstruck. The great Lee/Kaluta sci-fi epic, now between two robust hard covers. I should declare an interest: I wrote the intro. But I did that because it’s awesome beyond the feasible limits of possible awesomeness.
2. A Very Peculiar Practice, season 2. Wow. Just how much of my life right now is ’80s nostalgia? I think I need to get some professional help. Probably from Duran Duran.
Mike Carey has written numerous comics (and a few novels) over his career, including Lucifer, My Faith In Frankie, Ultimate Fantastic Four and Hellblazer. He currently writes X-Men: Legacy and The Unwritten.
Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer writer Van Jensen sends word that Dusty Higgins’ cover to the second volume of their undead-slaying trilogy is being turned into a limited edition state, which is available for pre-order on the SLG Publishing website. Check out the swell animated gif, which gives you a 360-degree look at it in all its glory.
This just over six-inch figure will be cast in high density polystone and will be nearly made to order in terms of its production run. It was designed by Figurebang Toys. Available exclusively from SLG, they will stop taking orders for this piece on Oct. 31. The statue will cost $189 for pre-orders, and those who place orders won’t be charged until the statue ships.
Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer writer Van Jensen dropped us a note about his next project, which attendees at HeroesCon last weekend had the chance to check out in the form of a five-page preview. Jensen and Val the Red Beard creator Robin Holstein are working on Snow White: Through a Glass Darkly, a new six-issue series due from SLG Publishing next year.
According to Jensen, the tagline for the book is, “We all think we know the story of Snow White, the poor girl who suffered under her evil stepmother. But what if the stepmother wasn’t evil after all? What if the mirror was evil?”
Look for it next spring, and in the meantime, be sure to check out Holstein’s webcomic, Val the Red Beard, which is about pirates in flying ships fighting monsters that live inside village-destroying storms. He’s posted seven strips so far, it looks like, so you’ll be getting in on the fun early.