Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
For a time, comic book subscriptions were a big part of any comic fans’ repertoire. Back when comics were available primarily on newsstands and the rare comic specialty shop, subscriptions provided by publishers promised a surefire way for fans to get every issue of their favorite comics in a timely manner, and, in most cases, at a discount. But in recent years, direct subscriptions from publishers have taken a back seat, with only Marvel and DC offering them, and only for a portion of their comics line. But now Top Cow is bringing it to their pasture in an inventive subscription plan for their entire line.
Announced on its own website TopCow.com, the California-based publisher is offering a subscription to its three core ongoing series — Witchblade, The Darkness and Artifacts – along with a surprise comic with a variant cover each month. This service is available for $15/month ($10 a month plus postage) for either 6- or 12-month increments, and would be shipped USPS First Class each month in one bundle to ensure no damage to the books.
When asked about the availability to add in mini-series and special one shots like Pilot Season to the package, Top Cow’s Filip Sablik said it’s in the works.
“We haven’t worked out the details,” the publisher explained,” but if the customer wants to order other items in a month and have them ship with their subscription, assuming they fit in the envelope, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
It’s an interesting prospect, and who knows — maybe we could see other publishers pick up on the idea.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Image Comics, the company formed by a group of artists who left the security of work-for-hire comics to create and own their own comics. It’s been 20 years of ups and downs, but one thing that has remained consistent is a focus on creator-owned work.
With 2011 in the history books and their big anniversary kicking off with the first Image Expo, a new ad campaign and high-profile series by big-name creators like Brian K. Vaughan, Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer and many more, I thought it was a good time to chat with Publisher Eric Stephenson about the state of the company, the year that was, their upcoming plans and anything else he was willing to talk about. My thanks to Eric for taking the time to answer my questions.
JK Parkin: Thanks for agreeing to do this interview, Eric. Incidentally, another feature we’re running as a part of our anniversary bash is one where we asked various comic industry folks about what they’re looking forward to in 2012. I got one back yesterday where the answer was basically “everything from Image Comics.” I find that interesting, because there’s a lot of diversity in Image’s line and although I think you guys probably publish something for every kind of taste, I wouldn’t think that every title would appeal to every comic reader. And yet I also find myself checking out at least the first issue of everything you guys have done lately. So from your perspective, what’s the unifying factor (or factors) right now among your titles, if there is one?
Stephenson: I think the main thing is that we’re moving forward and creating new things. We’re not content to just recycle the same old ideas month in and month out and then market it all as brand new. If this was another publisher, we’d be debuting our latest spin-off of The Walking Dead in March, but instead, we’re launching a new series by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, a new series by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra, a new series by Joe Keatinge and Andre Szymanowicz, and so on. For 20 years, Image has put its faith in creative people, and it’s the power of their imagination that links all our titles together, now more than ever.
‘Tis the season for decking those halls, trimming those trees, lighting the menorah and, of course, figuring out what to buy for your friends and family. To help give you some ideas, we reached out to a few comic creators, asking them:
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?
We’ve gotten back a bunch of suggestions, which we’ll run between now and the end of the week. So let the merriment commence …
1. Exclusive 2011 Janet Lee Holiday Ornaments
Every year, Janet does about 12 ornaments, three sets of four. This year, she has done Hipster Animals, Scary Toys and Art Nouveau Angels. They are signed and dated, and at the end of the season, that’s it! She stops making them. I’ve been collecting them since 2007, and now our tree is almost completely filled with Janet’s art. You can buy them exclusively through her Etsy shop.
Oh, and if you’re REALLY nice, she MAY have a very limited Dapper Men ornament or two. Just ask!
2. This year, for myself, I’m going with a mix of Blu-Rays (portable Blu-Ray player, please, Santa!) and books. But the thing I’m REALLY excited for is the hardcover edition of the Complete Ripley novels, by Patricia Highsmith. Most people only know of Ms. Highsmith through The Talented Mr. Ripley (and classic film lovers through Strangers On a Train). There were actually five Tom Ripley novels, and the collection looks amazing. Why these books? My spouse recently Tweeted a quote from John Lithgow that struck me as a writer: “Duality, duplicity, truth and deception, good becoming bad and vice-versa are crucial elements of great storytelling.” Highsmith was and remains an unsung hero of mastering that, so I hope I learn something in the process!
Happy Holidays from the Dapper Lariosa-McCann household!
Jim McCann is the writer of Return of the Dapper Men and its upcoming sequel, Marvel Zombies Christmas Carol, Hawkeye:Blindspot and the upcoming Mind The Gap.
USA Today reports that Hack/Slash‘s Tim Seeley will begin writing Top Cow’s Witchblade series with issue #151, due Oct. 26. Seeley replaces Ron Marz on the title, who, along with artist Stjepan Sejic, wrap up their run with issue #150.
The report says that Top Cow’s Artifacts crossover series, which ends in October, will bring “lots of changes to the Top Cow universe in its wake.” As a result, Witchblade wielder Sara Pezzini will move to Chicago. “It’s going to give me a chance to give her a new rogues gallery in a new location. My interest in it is more to add to the mythology than to dig up what’s been done already,” Seeley said. Fans will be happy to hear that the price will be dropped to $2.99.
Joining Seeley on the title are artists Diego Bernard and Fred Benes. The stories will be “dark fantasy with a hint of crime noir,” according to the paper, and Seeley also said he plans to continue his work on Hack/Slash.
The surprise about reading all of the comics Top Cow sent over as a result of my admission of blind prejudice wasn’t that they weren’t as bad as I’d lazily expected — I was actually expecting that, to be honest — but that I ended with realizing that I was going to have to go out and catch up on the collections of one series in particular… and it was the one I’d been expecting to like the least.
Last week, I was chatting with comics writer Jim McCann, trying to pick his brain for interview ideas (my view of comics can sometimes be myopic, so I try expand the view where I can in a variety of ways). He mentioned to me that Joe Henderson, one of the writers/story editors on the USA Network series, White Collar, is a huge comic book fan. Normally, of course, I interview creators regarding upcoming projects here at Talking Comics with Tim. But with White Collar airing its midseason finale tomorrow night (September 7; 9 PM [for the East Coast]/8 PM [Central]), I thought I’d try something different and interview Henderson, partially about his comic book fan credentials, as well as what it’s like to work on White Collar. My thanks to McCann for helping arrange this, and Henderson, for his willingness to be interviewed, as he’s clearly a fan of comics (plus it was a blast to discuss White Collar with him).
Tim O’Shea: This interview originated with a suggestion from Jim McCann, who described you as a “huge comic book fan” (a characterization backed up by this GeekWeek article from January and your 2009 Witchblade story). Just to give folks an idea of your comic book affinity, can you single out some of your favorite creators and or characters?
Joe Henderson: First, a big thank you to Jim McCann, who is writing the awesome Hawkeye and Mockingbird that everyone should be reading.
The first name I have to mention is Mike Costa, who is doing an amazing job with GI Joe Cobra (IDW) and is a very good friend of mine. If you haven’t read Cobra, do yourself a favor a pick it up. Jason Aaron [O’Shea aside: Aaron’s new column for CBR, Where the Hell Am I?, starts this Wednesday] and Jonathan Hickman are writing the most compelling comics I’ve read in a long time. Aaron’s grasp of Wolverine is fantastic—as far as I’m concerned he’s writing the definitive take on Logan. Hickman’s firing on all cylinders on FF and SHIELD is just crazy idea porn at its finest. Joe Kelly was wonderful on Amazing Spider-man—really, the whole writing team has been great since BND. Having said that, really excited to see Dan Slott take over and give it a more unified voice. Bendis‘ Ultimate Spider-man is the most consistently entertaining read out there. Can’t wait for [Matt] Fraction‘s Thor and [Ed] Brubaker‘s Super Soldier has been wonderful. At DC, [Geoff] Johns and [Peter] Tomasi have blown me away with what they’ve done with the Green Lantern universe and I thought Blackest Night was one of the most successful crossovers in a long time. I also loved all of Johns and Gary Frank‘s Superman stuff. [Paul] Cornell‘s work on Action Comics so far has been awesome—love what he’s doing with Lex Luthor. Fables [Bill Willingham] is always a great read…I’m forgetting tons of books I’m sure.
Saturday at Comic-Con International in San Diego, once upon a time, was “big movie day” at the con … back before every day became big movie day at the con. Still, today somewhat lived up to its reputation for being eventful, as the Avengers assembled on stage, Green Lantern movie footage was shown and one poor fan was stabbed in the eye while attending programming in Hall H, where several of the big movie panels took place. The victim was taken to UCSD Medical Center, while his attacker was taken away by police after attendees detained him.
In happier news, here’s what was announced on the comics front:
• Marvel Editor-in-Chief and Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada confirmed that Marvel is “gonna be doing some CrossGen stuff.” CrossGen, which published numerous titles like Sojourn, Way of the Rat, Abadazad and Meridian starting 1998, went bankrupt in 2004. Disney bought their assets that same year.
Their titles covered many different genres, from fantasy to horror to detective stories. “I think with the CrossGen stuff you’re going to see us attempt a little more genre publishing, which I think is much-needed in our imprint,” Quesada said. No word yet on what properties they plan to bring back.
• Kurt Busiek announced that American Gothic, the urban fantasy comic announced at last year’s WildStorm panel, will now be called Witchlands. The series will be drawn by Connor Willumson. Busiek is also working on an Arrowsmith novel titled Arrowsmith: Far from the Fields We Know, which will include illustrations by Carlos Pacheco.
C2E2, the new Chicago convention brought to you by the makers of the New York Comic Con, will hold its inaugural convention this weekend at the Lakeside Center at McCormick Place. If you’re exhibiting at the show, debuting a new comic or just have some exciting plans for attendees you’d like to share, drop me an email and I’ll run it in one of the many round-ups we’ll be doing between now and Friday.
Also, I probably wouldn’t get anything good for Boss’s Day this year if I don’t mention that Robot 6’s own Brigid Alverson will be on a panel Friday night, titled “Old Media, New Media, Comics Media.” It’s moderated by Heidi MacDonald of the Beat and features several other comics media/blogging folks. So go say hi to Brigid at 7:45 p.m.
Michael May will also be at the show, and both he and Brigid should have some reports to file from it over the weekend. So be sure to check back for those if you aren’t in Chicago yourself. And if you are attending the show, here’s some stuff to check out …
Artist Ryan Ottley will have some cool stickers at the show to promote the upcoming Sea Bear & Grizzly Shark: They Got Mixed Up! one-shot he’s doing with Jason Howard. Choose your side: