INTERVIEW: "Fantastic Four" EP On Character-Driven Approach, Sequel Plans
Comic Books, Film
Happy Sunday and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our guest today is Kevin Church, writer of The Rack, Signs and Meanings, the new Monkeybrain series Wander: Olive Hopkins And The Ninth Kingdom and many other comics.
To see what Kevin and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
You wouldn’t think it, but comics are a relatively new art form. Sure, people have used drawings to tell stories as far back as the caveman era, but comics as a realized art form are just over a 100 years old. Creators have frequently been flying by the seat of their pants to understand (and work successfully in) comics, with many of them learning for themselves as comics-specific classes are still relatively rare. As a guide to help artists avoid common mistakes, writer/artist/editor Larry Hama assembled what would become a key part of any creator’s toolkit: Wally Wood’s 22 Panels That Always Work.
After the original has been photocopied, faxed and passed around for more than three decades, artist Michael Avon Oeming has created an homage/update to that seminal reference using characters from his and Brian Michael Bendis’ Powers comic. Take a look:
Theme parks | Disney CEO Bob Iger said the company has begun preliminary design work that will pave the way for Marvel superheroes to one day appear alongside familiar characters in Disney theme parks. Iger told shareholders attending the annual meeting Tuesday that the company has been working on some concepts, but hasn’t announced anything yet. Disney is currently developing attractions based on James Cameron’s Avatar film for its Animal Kingdom park in Orlando, Florida, which are expected to be ready in 2015. [Los Angeles Times]
Comic strips | Alan Gardner counts 57 newspapers that aren’t carrying this week’s Doonesbury comics, which address a Texas law requiring women requesting an abortion to submit to a transvaginal ultrasound. But according to Universal UClick, no papers have dropped Garry Trudeau’s strip. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Publishing | John Jackson Miller discusses the Rule of Eight, which holds that independent publishers start to falter once they put out more than eight titles per month, and goes into the nuances of the theory with its originator of the idea, Marc Patten. [The Comichron]
Comics | Bryan Young talks to Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater about the attempted boycott of Life With Archie #16, which featured the marriage of Kevin Keller, as well as the changes that have taken place within the company to make that marriage possible. “When I got to Archie my first mandate was to talk to the staff and creators and say ‘Change things up. Try new things. Be bold. Be daring. Be creative.’ If there was an idea I felt was out of line or too crazy, I’d nix it. But for the most part, people like Dan Parent came to me with excellent ideas and suggestions. Kevin Keller is a perfect example of that. I don’t think you would have seen the previous regime publish Kevin.” [The Huffington Post]
Awards | Cartoonist Alison Bechdel has won the 24th annual Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement, presented by the Publishing Triangle, the association of lesbians and gay men in publishing. [GalleyCat]
Comics | As part of an Associated Press article about comics addressing real-world issues, it’s revealed that the glamorous Cheryl Blossom, an Archie Comics character who has appeared throughout the years, often as a fourth player in the traditional Archie/Betty/Veronica love triangle, will battle breast cancer in a new storyline. According to Editor-in-Chief Victor Gorelick, Cheryl feels fortunate she can afford treatment, which “opens the door that there are a lot of people who cannot afford this kind of treatment and we have to see where that’s kind of going to lead.” [The Associated Press]
Conventions | Paul Gravett files his report on the Angoulême International Comics Festival. [Paul Gravett]
Passings | Classic comics artist Sheldon Moldoff, who co-created Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Bat-Mite and Ace the Bat Hound, passed away Wednesday. He was 91. Moldoff broke into comics at the age of 17 with a sports filler that appeared on the inside back cover of Action Comics #1. He went on to become a prolific cover artist, drawing the first cover image of the Golden Age Flash for Flash Comics #1 and the Golden Age Green Lantern for All-American Comics #16. He also worked on comics featuring Hawkman, Kid Eternityand Black Pirate. He also was one of the pioneers of horror comics in the late 1940s and worked as a “ghost artist” for Bob Kane on Batman from 1953 to 1967. After being let go by DC Comics in 1967, he went on to work in animation. [News from ME]
Conventions | Badges for Comic-Con International sold out Saturday morning within an hour and a half, a record for the annual pop-culture extravaganza. Last year it took about seven hours for badges to disappear. [U-T San Diego]
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 try something new first with the Xeric-winning Fantastic Life GN (Big If, $9.95) by Kevin Mutch. I’ll always give Xeric winners a second look, and this looks built for me: slackers, punk rock, zombies. Next up I’d get the ongoing adventures of Butcher Baker – the Image one – with Butcher Baker Righteous Maker #8 ($2.99). I’ll admit that the series went off a little bit around #5, but I’m still holding on for hopes it’ll right itself or I’ll figure out what I’d been missing. Lastly, I’d get Secret Avengers #21.1 (Marvel, $2.99). Seriously, is Rick Remender becoming the writer of all-things secret in the Marvel U? I’m not complaining though, as he’s bringing his Uncanny X-Force mojo and, from what it looks like, a lot of new cast members.
If I had $30, I’d get my usual pull of The Walking Dead #93 (Image, $2.99) and a Hickman two-fer, Fantastic Four #602 (Marvel, $2.99) and FF #14 (Marvel, $2.99). If you would have told me two years ago I’d be seeing two Fantastic Four titles (and two I’d be reading, no less) I would have been gobsmacked. Hickman does it again. And that’s it.
What, you say I didn’t spend my full $30? It’s a light week for me, so I’d spending the remaining on bags and boards or, *gasp*, food as it says in the title. Tijuana Flats, Taco Tuesday, be there.
Coming back if I could splurge, and I’d put down my tacos and pick up the ADD HC (Vertigo, $24.99) by Douglas Rushkoff, Goran Sudzuka and Jose Marzan Jr. From the outside it looks like The Hunger Games meets Ender’s Game, and Rushkoff looks to be just the one to make that mash-up more than, well, a mash-up.
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.”
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.
On the same day that Fantagraphics announced The Complete Zap Comix, the publisher revealed it will bring yet another treasure trove of groundbreaking comics back to the stands. At its panel at Comic-Con International and in an interview with The Comics Reporter’s Tom Spurgeon, Fantagraphics announced it had acquired the rights to publish the EC Comics library from the representatives of its late publisher, William M. Gaines.
Known for pushing comics’ boundaries of formal innovation and craft as well as raw content before anti-comics hysteria and the creation of the Comics Code helped stifle the publisher in the mid-’50s, EC has generally been reprinted in formats that center on its (in)famous horror, crime, science fiction, and war anthology series, such as Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, The Haunt of Fear, Crime SuspenStories, Weird Science, Weird Fantasy, Two-Fisted Tales, and Frontline Combat. What sets the Fantagraphics reprint project apart is that individual creators’ work will be culled from the series in which it appeared and presented in a series of black-and-white solo spotlight volumes. The first four books announced will collect war stories written by Harvey Kurtzman (Corpse on the Imjin and Other Stories, featuring art by Kurtzman, Gene Colan, Russ Heath, and Joe Kubert), suspense stories by Wally Wood (Came the Dawn and Other Stories), horror stories by written by Al Feldstein and illustrated by Jack Davis, and science fiction stories by Al Williamson.
Click on over to The Comics Reporter for more details, including an interview with editor and co-publisher Gary Groth.
Comic-Con International in San Diego hasn’t officially started yet—tonight was Preview Night—but the news has been rolling in. So let’s take a look at today’s announcements
• Dark Horse announced three new projects earlier this evening. They will publish a comics adaptation of The Strain, the sci-fi/vampire trilogy by filmmaker Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. The comic will be written by David Lapham with art by Mike Huddleston.
• They also announced a series written by Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello with art by Scott Hepburn. Orchid is about a 16-year-old prostitute in a dystopian future “becoming the Spartacus of whores.” Each issue will come with a music track by Morello.
• And finally on the Dark Horse front, they will publish comics set in the young vampire world of P.C. Cast’s House of Night novel series. It will be co-written by Kent Dallan with art by Joëlle Jones. You can see a trailer promoting all three new books on YouTube.
If you were one of those folks who not heard of artist Nick Dragotta before this year, it’s quite feasible you learned about the storyteller after his work on Fantastic Four 588 (the silent mourning for Johnny Storm issue). If Dragotta’s next project is half as successful as I expect it to be, even more folks will know and like his art. That project? He and writer Joe Casey’s six-issue Marvel miniseries, Vengeance [set to be released July 6]. As described by Marvel: “When MAGNETO of the X-Men tries to rescue a young Mutant on the run, he accidently kicks off a series of events that will shake the very Marvel Universe to it’s core! Who are the new TEEN BRIGADE?! Who are the Brotherhood and what do they want with the YOUNG MASTERS OF EVIL?! And how is the RED SKULL pulling the strings from beyond the grave?” My thanks to Dragotta for the interview (and for the above preview art from the first issue). Once you’ve read this interview, be sure to also read Timothy Callahan’s When Words Collide column/Joe Casey interview.
Hello and welcome to another week of What Are You Reading?, where we talk about what comics and other stuff we’ve been reading lately. This week our special guest is Robin McConnell of Inkstuds fame, who will be guest blogging with us as well. Robin has a new book out that collects 30 of his interviews with folks like Jeff Lemire, Joe Sacco, Kate Beaton, Jaime Hernandez and many more; you can find more details on it over on his website.
To see what Robin and teh rest of the Robot 6 crew are reading, click below.
I don’t know if it’s because everyone is on vacation or they are killing time before SDCC or what, but there has been a spate of interesting articles about the theory and practice of comics popping up on the internet lately. Here’s a sample:
Bryant Paul Johnson, the creator of Teaching Baby Paranoia, breaks comics down into their basic components (words, pictures, time) and illustrates how the pieces work together—and how they sometimes don’t.
Related: Filmmaker Anne Lukeman brought Wally Wood’s 22 Frames That Always Work to life—literally. This reminds ComixTalk’s Xaviar Xerxes of a counterpoint, 16 Panels That I Don’t Think Work All That Well.
This one has been kicking around for a little while, but in case you haven’t seen it, Ed Piskor discusses how time elapses in a single panel.
Finally, longtime webcomics reader Lauren Davis heads for the comics store and learns some surprising things from looking at print comics.
If news about Superior isn’t enough to pique your curiosity about this week’s issue of Wizard, then maybe this will — the magazine, guest-edited by Mark Millar, includes an article by the Hero Initiative’s Jim McLauchlin on the late, great Wally Wood.
“I found the piece very difficult to write,” McLauchlin says. “The subject matter is not always very pleasant. But I hope that in the end, you as a reader will get a circumspect view of Wood, and see the amazing warmth and his genius that accompanied his tragic, but very human, flaws.”
Wizard gave him permission to post the article on the Hero Initiative website; you can find it here.