Finn Wields a Lightsaber in New "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Footage
[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
Ever since its return under the Vertigo banner, Astro City (from Kurt Busiek, Brent Eric Anderson, and company) has been pretty great on a consistent basis. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always been a highlight of my pull list; but the current run has really been something special. Last month’s issue #15 — concluding the story of a sweet little old robotics genius and the supervillain who sought to ruin her — was particularly heartwarming. (What’s that? Something in my eye? No, I’m just tired….)
Then, however, I read this week’s issue #16. Readers looking for familiar pastiches will be rewarded immediately, since the broad strokes of the story are deliberately reminiscent of Silver Age Superboy and Lex Luthor. (The energy-headed hero Starbright also looks a bit like Firestorm, but that’s more incidental.) It’s a tale of awkward friendship, super-powered rivalry, and an act of simple kindness which literally transforms a life. As Busiek reveals on the letters page, the middle part of the story comes from his unpublished eight-page script for an installment of the backup feature “Superman: The In-Between Years.” In hindsight it’s easy to see how that script would have worked as a look into the developing dynamics between the Collegian of Steel and his former friend — but as usual, Astro City has taken those elements in undreamt-of directions.
Legal | Attorney Evan Stassberg finds two significant problems with Comic-Con International’s trademark-infringement claim against Salt Lake Comic Con over the use of the term “Comic Con”: There are a lot of shows called “comic con,” so it could be argued it’s a descriptive term that’s not specific to the San Diego event, and precisely because there are so many events that use that term, it could be argued that Comic-Con International organizers haven’t been policing their trademark. Strassberg adds, “The Salt Lake organizers’ steadfast defiance and ongoing gravitas has turned a simple trademark dispute into a national news story with mountains of free publicity for the Salt Lake event. If this was intentional, it is an astonishing display of marketing genius. If this was mere happenstance, it is the comic book convention equivalent of the accidental invention of Post-It notes.” [Deseret News]
Blues musician Johnny Winter passed away Wednesday in a hotel in Zurich, Switzerland, according to a post on his Facebook page. He was 70. Although details are scant, Variety reports that the Texas-born singer and guitarist had been touring in Europe, and had performed Saturday in Austria.
While Winter’s passing is noteworthy due to his contributions to music, he also has a connection to comics: He and his brother Edgar Winter famously sued DC Comics in 1996, claiming they were defamed, and their rights to privacy and publicity violated, by Jonah Hex: Riders of the Worm and Such, a miniseries by Joe Lansdale, Timothy Truman and Sam Glanzman.
The Winter brothers, who were born with albinism, objected to the “villainous half-worm, half-human” characters the Autumn brothers, who share not only the musicians’ first names but also their distinctive physical traits — long white hair and an absence of skin pigment. They argued their reputations were damaged because the characters were depicted as “vile, depraved, stupid, cowardly, subhuman individuals who engage in wanton acts of violence, murder, and bestiality for pleasure and who should be killed.”
Although the publisher didn’t specify release date — its tweet said only “Coming Soon!” — the previous installment, Episode 4, was available a week after its teaser image debuted (so look for it on July 15). Set 30 years before the events of Fables #1, the game allows players to control Bigby Wolf as he investigates the gruesome murder of a Fable, which leads to an even bigger mystery.
A second season of The Wolf Among Us in the works. The Fables comic series will come to a close early next year with its 150th issue.
Dark Horse will publish omnibus editions of The New York Four and The New York Five, by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly, and Demo, by Wood and Becky Cloonan. Editor Sierra Hahn told Publishers Weekly the acquisitions are part of the company’s ongoing commitment to the young-adult market.
Published in 2008 by DC Comics’ short-lived Minx imprint aimed at teen girls, The New York Four centers on four young women who move to New York City to attend New York University. A sequel miniseries, The New York Five, debuted in 2010 from DC’s Vertigo imprint.
Demo, released from November to 2003 to November 2004 by AiT/Planet Lar, was the breakout book for Wood and and Cloonan, who had previously collaborated on Channel Zero: Jennie One. The 12-issue series, which tells self-contained stories about young people with supernatural powers (well, mostly), was most recently collected in 2008 by Vertigo, which later published Wood and Cloonan’s sequel.
Telltale Games has debuted the first images from the penultimate episode of The Wolf Among Us, its critically acclaimed adventure game based on Bill Willingham’s Vertigo series Fables.
Set 30 years before the events of Fables #1, the game allows players to control Bigby Wolf as he investigates the gruesome murder of a Fable, which leads to an even bigger mystery. In Episode 4, titled “In Sheep’s Clothing,” a beaten and bloody Bigby “is confronted by the realization that a society built on secrets is ripe for exploitation. And that the disenfranchised of Fabletown may see his prey not as the cause of their problems, but as their solution.”
No release date has been announced. The episode will be available on its own for $4.99 via the Xbox Games Store and PlayStation Network, or as part of the $14.99 season pass.
All it took was a television adaptation for iZombie fans to get a statue of protagonist Gwen Dylan, designed by series artist Michael Allred. Revealed this morning by TV Guide, the DC Collectibles sculpture by Phil Ramirez is about 9.25 inches tall; it goes on sale in November for $99.95.
The statue doesn’t much resemble actress Rose McIver, who plays the lead in The CW’s upcoming supernatural procedural, but some might argue that the show doesn’t much resemble the Vertigo series by Allred and Chris Roberson.
DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint has been releasing one-shot anthologies on a fairly regular basis, using them to dust off old titles like Strange Adventures, The Witching Hour and Mystery in Space, which gives contributors a general theme, and likely helps the publisher maintain trademarks.
Despite once being as common as mutant superheroes are today, anthologies of any kind haven’t been readily embraced in the modern marketplace, and one imagines the ever-increasing costs of comics doesn’t help. These Vertigo titles, featuring short, generally forgettable, riff-like stories from a multitude of creators — which the law of averages suggests will include some stories a reader won’t like — will run you $7.99, just two bucks shy of an ad-free, spine-having trade paperback collection of Image Comics’ Pretty Deadly … or Vertigo’s own FPB: Federal Physics Bureau.
This year the imprint is trying something slightly different: It’s still publishing $8 anthologies, with a variety of creative teams riffing on a theme, but rather than raiding long-faded DC titles (sorry if you were waiting for a revival of More Fun Comics or Adventures of Bob Hope),Vertigo is going with a sort of printing theme. Four anthologies, published on a quarterly basis, each using one of the four basic colors of traditional printing: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK. If nothing else, this will make repackaging and reselling these stories in a trade format a little easier, as the theme will be consistent between a series of anthologies.
The cyan issue debuted this week; it’s a very strikingly designed comic. The cover by designer Jared K. Fletcher is simple and understated, and it pops off the comics rack and begs for special attention. Even the two-page table of contents, in which each story is given a paint swathe-like panel of cyan/different shades of blue, is lovely (I feel tempted to make a joke about combining the thrill of reading a table of contents with the thrill of picking out a paint color, but I can’t; I genuinely dug those pages on an aesthetic level).
So the idea is rather inspired, as is the design — but how are the stories? Par for the course, I suppose. Some good, some bad, some mediocre; some clever uses of the theme, some that seem to ignore it all together. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Following the debut today of Vertigo Quarterly: CMYK, a four-issue anthology series from the DC Comics imprint, writer Joe Keatinge was quick to speak out about his collaboration in the first issue with artist Ken Garing, which he says was substantially rewritten by editorial without any consultation with him.
“The issue is advertised as featuring a collaboration between Ken Garing and me, with me on story and Ken on art, but there’s an issue with this and I felt the need to make it clear,” Keatinge wrote on his blog. “The story as published does not entirely reflect what we conceived and I originally wrote. I’m going to make this as quick possible as there’s a lot going on in the world that actually matters, but I felt like, after the warm reception to Shutter and Planetoid, some people reading this might buy comics with our names on them and thought it was unfair to them to not say something.”
He explained that he was approached to contribute a story to Vertigo Quarterly, and he looped in Garing, with whom he’s working on an upcoming series. Vertigo editor Mark Doyle was “very accommodating,” Keatinge said, but upon receiving a mock-up of the completed story the writer discovered it had been changed significantly — without consultation or an opportunity for him to address the issues Vertigo sought to address.
Legal | Mohammad Hassan Khalid was sentenced last week in Philadelphia to five years in prison for his part in a failed 2009 plan to kill Lars Vilks, the Swedish cartoonist who drew the head of the Prophet Mohammed on the body of a dog. Khalid, now 20, was a teenager and an honors student when he became involved with Colleen LaRose, aka “Jihad Jane,” who in January was sentenced to 10 years in prison for her part in the plot. Prosecutors pointed to the fact that Khalid also translated violent jihad videos into English, which may have helped recruit new terrorists, but they also asked for leniency because he cooperated with them after his arrest. The defense claimed he was simply a vulnerable, awkward teenager who has since been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Khalid, who had been offered a full scholarship to Johns Hopkins University but was arrested before graduating from high school, will get credit for the three years he has already served in prison. [Reuters]
Fandom | Rachel Edidin attends a gathering of the Carol Corps, the group of mostly female Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel fans that has built a community around a shared interest. “It is not a formal organization,” says Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick. “There are no rules. People write and ask me all the time, ‘How do I join the Carol Corps?’ You join Carol Corps by saying you are Carol Corps. There is no test. You don’t have to buy anything. You don’t need to sign up anywhere. If you decide you are a part of this community, bam, you are. The other part of that is that if you decide you are a part of this community, you will be embraced and welcome.” [Wired]
Piracy | The Japanese government will consider several measures to fight online piracy of anime and manga in the next few months, while publishers are taking a if-you-can’t-beat-‘em-join-‘em approach by launching two free digital manga services, ComicWalker and Manga Box, to lure readers away from bootleg scanlation sites. [The Japan News]
Telltale Games has debuted the launch trailer for the third episode of its adventure series The Wolf Among Us, based on Bill Willingham’s Vertigo comic Fables.
Set 30 years before the events of Fables #1, the game allows players to control Bigby Wolf as he investigates the gruesome murder of a Fable, which leads to an even bigger mystery. In Episode 3, titled “A Crooked Mile,” Bigby “is just steps behind the prime suspect of a horrific murder, but he’s not the only one; other forces in Fabletown will stop at nothing to protect their interests.”
Be warned, though: The trailer contains spoilers for the first two episodes.
Academia | The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont, is adding a masters of fine arts degree in applied cartooning that will allow students to focus on using the comics medium for journalism, medicine, business and other fields. [Valley News, press release]
Creators | With the arrival of the second issue of The Sandman: Overture, Neil Gaiman talks about the joy of writing the first series and returning for this one, why he chooses to pen a story as a comic rather than a novel, and how his process differs as well: “When I’m outlining a comic, I write down the numbers 1 to 24, and I jot down what’s happening on each page, because I have to think of things in terms of pages, and double-page spreads. In a novel, if I want to move a scene, I just cut and paste. In a novel, it’s a completely different conversation.” [CNN]
Passings | Award-winning science fiction and fantasy author Lucius Shepard, whose work included Life During Wartime and The Jaguar Hunter, passed away March 18. He was 66. Shepard ventured into comics writing on a few occasions, with the series Vermillion, part of DC Comics’ short-lived Helix imprint, and with contributions to Vertigo anthologies Gangland and Flinch. [Tor.com, BoingBoing]
Creators | American Vampire artist Rafael Albuquerque talks about the upcoming “Second Cycle” of the Vertigo series, which returns after a hiatus of more than a year. [Hero Complex]
Tor.com has revealed Yuko Shimizu‘s beautifully disturbing cover for Monstrous Affection: An Anthology of Beastly Tales, edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant. It’s due in September from Candlewick Press.
Shimizu is an award-winning illustrator best known in comics circles for her covers for The Unwritten and The Sandman: The Dream Hunters. The art here is reminiscent of her work on the former, particularly when it comes to the flowers and the ghostly figure. The ghastly baboon-creature wouldn’t be out of place in the Vertigo series, either …