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Talking Comics with Tim | Van Jensen

Covers for Of Wood and Blood, Part One & Part Two

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.

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What are you excited about for 2012?

[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!

Jason Latour

Loose Ends 4

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.

Jason Latour is a writer/artist, most recently the writer of Loose Ends. He spoke with Tim O’Shea about the miniseries in July.

Patrick Zircher

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.

Patrick Zircher is an artist, who explored the 1920s/1930s era of the Marvel universe in 2011 with the five-issue miniseries, Mystery Men. He spoke with Tim O’Shea about the miniseries in May.

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Jensen and Higgins put a stake in Pinocchio Vampire Slayer

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.

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The complete Pinocchio Vampire Slayer: Of Wood and Blood #1

Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer

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.

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Unwrapping comics: Pros share their holiday memories

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.

Daryl Gregory

The Avengers #4 (Not the comic stuffed in 'Lil Daryl's stocking)

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.

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Third Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer coming digitally in January

Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer: Of Wood and Blood #1

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.

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The Robot 6 Holiday Gift-Giving Guide, Part 3

Flex Mentallo Man of Muscle Mystery Deluxe Edition

Flex Mentallo Man of Muscle Mystery Deluxe Edition

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!

Mike Carey

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.

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Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer channels Shakespeare for new statue

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.

Snow White: Through a Glass Darkly coming from SLG next year

Snow White: Through a Glass, Darkly

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.

HeroesCon Recap: Photo Essay

Rather than try to write a summary of my HeroesCon 2011 experience, I have opted this year to share as many photos as possible. My camera was out-of-commission yesterday so all photos were taken during the second day of the show (Saturday).

Jeff Parker and friends

Jeff Parker and friends

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Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Action Comics Annual #13

Welcome to another installment of “Food or Comics?” Every week we set certain hypothetical spending limits on ourselves and go through the agony of trying to determine what comics come home and which ones stay on the shelves. So join us as we run down what comics we’d buy if they only had $15 and $30 to spend, as well as what we’d get if we had some “mad money” to splurge with.

Check out Diamond’s release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Graeme McMillan

If I had $15, I’d spend the first $2.99 on the last King City, which definitely appears on this week’s list. Yay! Then I’d split the remaining $13 between two DC Comics: Paul Cornell’s Action Comics Annual #13 ($4.99), in which a young Lex Luthor meets Darkseid (Editor Wil Moss promised me on Twitter the other week that this will fulfill my sick, sick desire for more comics like Jack Kirby’s Super Powers toy tie-ins from the 1980s, so I’m entirely sold) and Vertigo Resurrected: Winter’s Edge #1 ($7.99), a collection of long out-of-print seasonal tales starring Vertigo favorites and forgotten ghost characters from Christmas Past. Be warned: I’m a sucker for Holiday comics, so expect to see me picking those a lot in the next few weeks. It’s the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, after all.

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Comics A.M. | Kirby/Marvel copyright fight continues, John D’Agostino dies

Jack Kirby

Legal | New York federal judge Colleen McMahon made several decisions last week in the case of Jack Kirby’s heirs attempting to terminate Marvel’s copyright of his works. The judge agreed with Marvel that it would be premature to make an accounting of how much money is at stake, but rejected a bid by Marvel to throw out the Kirby estate’s main counterclaim. She also ruled that the Kirby estate’s attempt to reclaim original art is barred by the statute of limitations, counterclaims of breach-of-contract and violation of the Lanham Act were tossed, and Disney will be part of the case, even though Marvel said it shouldn’t be.

“In sum, the judge has narrowed the case to its most crucial issue. Both sides disagree about Kirby’s working environment in the 1950s and 1960s when he, along with Stan Lee, conceived many of Marvel’s most popular characters. The judge will soon be tasked with looking at Kirby’s work history and some of the loose contracts and oral agreements that guided his efforts in those years,” wrote Eriq Gardner. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Creators | Artist, letterer and colorist John D’Agostino died Nov. 29. D’Agostino started his career as a colorist for Timely Comics and was head of their coloring department for several years. He also worked for Archie Comics, Charlton Comics and Marvel Comics, and lettered the first few issues of Amazing Spider-Man in the 1960s. Tom Spurgeon offers an obituary. [Mark Evanier]

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Talking Comics with Tim | Van Jensen

Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer and the Great Puppet Theater

It was bound to happen at some point and today’s the day:  I interview a talented creator who frequents the same comic shop I do. As Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer and the The Great Puppet Theater writer Van Jensen and I realized several months or so, he and I both shop at Book Nook (located in Decatur, Georgia). Jensen was kind enough to do an email interview regarding the December 2 release of the second volume in the Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer universe. As regular readers are well aware, we are big Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer fans here at Robot 6. Back in late October, we offered an exclusive sneak preview of the book, which we invite you to peruse after reading the interview.

Tim O’Shea: I think it’s safe to say that the latest volume of Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer is being released later than you would have hoped. I mainly ask, because unlike most delayed book situations where the delay results from creators missing deadlines, that’s not the case here. Care to explain some of what delayed the book?

Van Jensen: The very short answer is overseas printing. The costs for printing are such that it’s cheaper to have a book printed in Asia and then shipped via the Pacific. That distance lends itself to delays arising. Both of the Pinocchio books, for instance, were in cargo containers that got held up in customs.

I know it’s frustrating to fans, though. And it’s frustrating to Dusty and me. We’re both newspaper guys, and that job drills the importance of deadlines into your head. You get your work done, and it’s in print the next morning, every morning. I really pride myself on turning work in early. So with the book being late, I feel like it’s breaking a promise to the fans, and I feel awful about it.

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Robot 666 | Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer and The Great Puppet Theater preview

Courtesy of creators Van Jensen and Dusty Higgins, here’s an exclusive sneak preview of their upcoming graphic novel Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer and The Great Puppet Theater:

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Six by 6 by 6 | Van Jensen’s six favorite horror comics & movies

House by Josh Simmons

Editor’s note: As a part of Robot 666 Week, we welcome guest contributor Van Jensen, writer of Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer and its upcoming sequel.

by Van Jensen

I was on a panel with Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson to discuss horror comics earlier this year, and I admitted that I didn’t really like horror as a genre. I can’t even see a trailer for Saw MCXVII (or whatever number they’re up to) without feeling repulsed. But Steve and Bernie talked me down from the ledge. The problem isn’t so much with the horror genre, it’s with the trend of comics and movies that use gore as a substitute for real fright. So here’s my list of favorite horror comics and films, and they’re all projects that rely heavily on atmosphere and thrills (the real hallmarks of horror) rather than buckets of blood.

1. House, by Josh Simmons.

Simmons’ debut graphic novel is a relatively simple story, with three teenagers exploring a giant old house in the woods. Things go wrong, which is predictable, but in an unpredictable way. Simmons uses no words through the entire story, but his real accomplishment is utilizing the design of the pages to deliver an increasingly claustrophobic, disorienting and terrifying story.

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