SPIDER-MANDATE: The Lowe-down on "Secret Wars," Tie-Ins and Stacey Lee
Macedonian illustrator Marko Manev has designed minimalist superhero-themed posters before (check out his Watchmen and Marvel projects on Behance), but his latest series, Superhero Noir, is quite a step up from that work. These are powerful, cinematic, renditions of classic comic book heroes. No wonder these images are showing up all over the internet right now — they’re breathtakingly good, reminding you of how dramatic (or downright majestic) these characters can be when used right. No wonder that when the Bottleneck Gallery announced they were selling prints of a couple of these designs yesterday, they sold out in minutes.
The iconic blood-splattered smiley face cover for Watchmen #1 is among a handful of original artwork from the seminal 1986 miniseries by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons up for sale next month as part of a Heritage Auctions signature auction in New York City.
Described by the auction house as “historic” and a “DC masterwork,” the 10-inch by 15-inch image is joined by Gibbons’ covers for Watchmen #2 and #3, John Higgins’ color guide for the cover of Issue 1, a page from Issue 7, and a page and color guide from Issue 8.
The pieces are part of the $1.4 million Shamus Modern Masterworks, accumulated in the 1980s and ’90s by retailer Martin Shamus, father of Wizard magazine founder Gareb Shamus. Consigned last year to Heritage, the collection already has produced one remarkable sale: Todd McFarlane’s original cover art for The Amazing Spider-Man #328 fetched $657,250 in July, shattering the record for a single piece of American comics art set in 2011 by a splash page from The Dark Knight Returns #3 ($448,125).
Online bidding for the Watchmen art begins Feb. 2. The auction will be held Feb. 21-22 at the Ukrainian Institute of America at The Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion in New York City.
I haven’t seen an official announcement of this yet, but several bloggers have picked up that the info for DC’s Before Watchmen trades is up on Amazon. I first saw this at Chris Marshall’s DGTL Comics. All four books are scheduled for July 2013 release, one each week (so, right around Comic-Con). Here’s what they are listing:
Before Watchmen, Vol. 1, by Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner, collects Before Watchmen: Minutemen (1-6) and Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre (1-4).
Before Watchmen, Vol. 2, by Brian Azzarello, J.G. Jones and Lee Bermejo, collects Before Watchmen: Comedian (1-6) and Before Watchmen: Rorschach (1-4)
Before Watchmen, Vol. 3, by J. Michael Straczynski, Adam Hughes and Joe Kubert, collects Before Watchmen: Nite Owl (1-4) and Before Watchmen: Manhattan (1-4)
Before Watchmen, Vol. 4, by Len Wein, Jae Lee and John Higgins, collects Before Watchmen: Ozymandias (1-6).
All four books are more than 250 pages, and Amazon lists the price at $29.99 each. Marshall notes there is also a Deluxe Edition of the original Watchmen that’s due out in June.
In September, DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio told MTV Geek that there would be collected editions of Before Watchmen that “will sit side by side with the Watchmen books.” He also hinted that sales of the trades would determine whether there would be more Before Watchmen comics in the future.
Publishing | The final print edition of the 75-year-old children’s comic The Dandy arrives Tuesday, featuring a cameo by none other than Paul McCartney. When it was announced the publication would move online, McCartney wrote the editors explaining it was his lifelong dream to appear in the comic; tomorrow he’ll be seen along with Desperate Dan. [Daily Mail, Daily Mail]
Passings | Jeff Millar, the co-creator, with Bill Hinds, of the comic strip Tank McNamara, has died at the age of 70. [Houston Chronicle]
“It’s a more serious version of Superman. It’s not like a heart attack. We took the mythology seriously. We take him as a character seriously. I believe the movie would appeal to anyone. I think that you’re going to see a Superman you’ve never seen before. We approached it as though no other films had been made. He’s the king-daddy. Honestly that’s why I wanted to do it. I’m interested in Superman because he’s the father of all superheroes. He’s this amazing ambassador for all superheroes. What was it about him that cracked the code that made pop culture embrace this other mythology? What we‘ve made as a film not only examines that but is also an amazing adventure story. It’s been an honor to work on. As a comic book fan, Superman is like the Rosetta Stone of all superheroes. I wanted to be sure the movie treated it respectfully.”
– Man of Steel director Zack Snyder, discussing his upcoming reboot of Warner Bros.’ Superman franchise, as well as his 2009 adaptation of Watchmen
Every week, hard as it may be to believe, I try honestly to offer something I think might interest the larger group of DC Domics superhero readers. However, this week I am invoking a personal privilege. For one thing, with Halloween on a Wednesday (when I usually end up writing these essays), the holiday will more than likely take priority.
The main reason, though, is that today is my birthday, and as you might have guessed from the headline, this year is my 43rd birthday. Therefore, this week I have pulled together an especially memorable DC story and/or issue from each of those years, 1969 through 2012. (Note: They may not always line up with the actual year, but just for simplicity’s sake, all dates are cover dates.) These aren’t necessarily the best or most noteworthy stories of their particular years, but they’ve stuck with me. Besides, while I’ve read a lot of comics from a lot of sources, for whatever reason DC has been the constant. Maybe when I’m 50 I’ll have something more comprehensive.
* * *
Legal | The Bombay High Court had sharp words for the Mumbai Police regarding the arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on a sedition charge. “How can you (police) arrest people on frivolous grounds? You arrest a cartoonist and breach his liberty of freedom of speech and expression,” said justices DY Chandrachud and Amjad Sayyed during a hearing in the case. The court will issue guidelines for the application of the sedition law, said the justices, who called the arrest of Trivedi “arbitrary.” “We have one Aseem Trivedi who was courageous enough to raise his voice and stand against this, but what about several others whose voices are shut by police.” [The Economic Times]
Creators | Grant Morrison talks about the guy who (literally) ate a copy of Supergods, why he is moving away from superheroes, and his upcoming Pax Americana, which is based on the same Charlton characters as Watchmen: “It’s so not like Watchmen. In the places where it is like Watchmen people will laugh because it’s really quite … it’s really faithful and respectful but at the same time satiric. I don’t think people will be upset by it, in the way that they’ve been upset by Before Watchmen which even though it’s good does ultimately seem redundant … This one is its own thing but it deliberately quotes the kind of narrative techniques used in Watchmen and does something new with them.” [New Statesman]
Legal | The prosecution has laid out its case in the trial of former 2000AD artist Brett Ewins, who was charged with “grievous bodily harm with intent” following a January incident in which he allegedly stabbed a police officer responding to complaints about a man shouting throughout the night. Ewins, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia years ago and is on medication for it, suffered cardiac arrest during the confrontation and was hospitalized for three weeks. He reportedly has no memory of the incident. The defense will contend that the blow to the head rendered him unconscious (like a sleepwalker) so he was not aware of what he was doing. [The Evening Standard]
Once and a while a comic drops in my inbox that carries some distinct element that snags my interest. LP, by writer Curt Pires and artist Ramon Villalobos, focuses on the life of a musician named F and the LP he possesses, which has unique qualities — far more unique than your average round piece of vinyl. The comic, which Pires is self-distributing, debuts Sept. 26 (it received a pre-release endorsement from guest Ed Brisson in this week’s What Are You Reading?”). In anticipation of its release, Pires took some time to answer my questions regarding his new collaboration with Villalobos — as well as to give me a chance to discuss music a smidge (something I always love to do).
Tim O’Shea: LP centers on a vinyl record (aka LP) — could this story have ever worked for you if it had centered around a CD or an MP3 player?
Curt Pires: I definitely think this story only works on vinyl. There’s something romantic about vinyl — something tactile. Something that you don’t really get with CDs or MP3s. I think a lot of my thoughts as towards this are sort of folded into the story. Sometimes intentionally — other times maybe not so much.
Did you have the story already written when you teamed with Ramon Villalobos, or did you construct the story with his art style in mind?
I had the full script written by the time Ramon had hoped on board to draw the book. I was definitely looking for someone with a bit more of European clean line style to draw this book. I’m a huge fan of this style of art. So Ramon’s sort of Darrow/Grampa/Quitely-influenced style was perfect for this book.
“What really bugs me is the letter ‘I’ in it because in comic books you only use the capital letter ‘I’, which is the one with the crossbars on it, for the first person pronoun. You never use it as a capitalisation of a word or within a word but I believe in Comic Sans that is the only letter ‘I’ that is available. So the whole thing always looks wrong to me. I think it’s a blight, an absolute blight on modern culture.”
– Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons, whose lettering for the landmark 1986 miniseries helped to inspire
the widely reviled font Comic Sans, on the typographical terror he unwittingly helped to unleash on the world.
You may have heard that America will hold another presidential election in November. You might also remember four years ago, when we last held one of these big events that ran through all 50 titles, er, states, and everyone and their brother featured Barack Obama on the cover of their comic or within its pages.
We haven’t seen quite the frenzy from the comic industry this election season, but Todd McFarlane is jumping in feet first. As noted in the Image Comics solicitations that came out earlier this week, Spawn #225 will feature two different endings based on the results of the election. Here’s the text:
Despite the considerable critical backlash, DC Comics’ Before Watchmen line of titles has become one of this summer’s top sellers, and the publisher announced at Comic-Con International that it’s revisiting the classic Sandman in a prequel written by Neil Gaiman. With that in mind, I’ve come up with six other wells the company could return to for new projects. I’m not saying they should or shouldn’t, but given recent events this might be where fans, and DC, could look next.
DC Comics this morning unveiled variant covers for Before Watchmen by Jim Steranko, Steve Rude, Paul Pope, Tim Bradstreet, Jim Lee, Cliff Chiang and David Finch.
The sprawling, and hotly debated, prequel to the seminal 1986 miniseries by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Before Watchmen debuted last month with the first issues of Minutemen, Comedian, Silk Spectre and Nite Owl, all of which landed on Diamond Comic Distributors’ Top 10 for June. According to sales estimates, all four titles broke the 100,000-copy mark. Before Watchmen: Minutemen #2 arrived in stores Wednesday.
Check out all seven variant covers below.
Creators | Following the appearance of the Infinity Gauntlet in Thor and the cameo by Thanos in The Avengers, Marvel appears poised to expand the cosmic elements of its cinematic universe with The Guardians of the Galaxy. While some fans eagerly await a movie announcement next week at Comic-Con International, Thanos creator Jim Starlin (who had to buy his own tickets to Thor and The Avengers) may be laying the groundwork for a legal challenge: Heidi MacDonald points out that Starlin has posted an early drawing of the Mad Titan on his Facebook page, writing, “This is probably one of the first concept drawings of Thanos I ever did, long before I started working at Marvel. Jack Kirby’s Metron is clearly the more dominant influence in this character’s look. Not Darkseid. Both D and T started off much smaller than they eventually became. This was one of the drawings I had in my portfolio when I was hired by Marvel. It was later inked by Rich Buckler.” [The Beat]
Comics | Tim Marchman, author of that much-discussed Wall Street Journal article, is at it again, this time interviewing Watchmen editor Len Wein about his work on Before Watchmen, and including the interventions of DC Comics Publicity Manager Pamela Mullin as part of the story. Between the embargo on the comic and Mullin doing her job, it sounds like the most interesting parts of the interview never made it into the final product. [The Daily Beast]
When most fans think of Dave Gibbons, his seminal work with Alan Moore on Watchmen is likely the first thing that comes to mind. However, the acclaimed artist and writer prefers to look toward the future, even brushing aside a question about Before Watchmen, the sprawling DC Comics miniseries that’s been the topic of so many recent conversations, with a terse, “I have no comment on that.”
During Kapow! Comic Convention, Robot 6 spoke briefly with the legendary creator about his views on digital comics, DC’s New 52 and the state of the industry.
Robot 6: You’re seen as a huge influence, but who excites you in the field these days?
Dave Gibbons: Asking an open ended-question like that is very dangerous, ‘cause invariably I’ll think of people who I greatly admire when you’re not here. I can say in general what I find interesting at the moment are the creator-owned books. I’m really pleased with all the things like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, where people can get finance to do their own comics. The Internet allows people to very quickly build up a large audience. It allows publishing without huge overheads, which is very positive. I love the fact that in today’s comic world, classic work is readily available in brand-new formats, such as the IDW Artist’s Edition series.