Hosted by Kris Bather and Mladen Luketin from Western Australia, ES is a weekly podcast filled with news, reviews and pop culture shenanigans. Kris (loyal superhero fan) and Mladen (manga, anime and indie defender) chat about their varying, and occasional overlapping, interests in the wonderful world of sequential art.

All Ages

ExSeq Ep.78-Creative Departures

39 mins. This show is dedicated to comics creators who offer us projects that surprise us, projects that show a different side to their creativity. From manga to all-ages to, um, Frank Miller we discuss a few unexpected career turns. Also, Superman pyjamas and Grant Morrison’s exercise video.

LISTEN TO IT BELOW

DOWNLOAD IT HERE

GET IT ON ITUNES HERE

You can email us at kris (at)extrasequential(dot)com and befriend us on the NEW ES Facebook page.

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Comics Christmas Cards

Every year there’s some great Christmas cards from comics publishers. Here’s an assortment of 2011’s.

From Sonny Liew, creator of Malinky Robot.

UK publisher Com.x (45, Seeds, Blue Spear)

Archaia (Mouse Guard, Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand – my fave OGN of 2011!)

Here’s a treat from nerdcore band Kirby Krackle. You can grab their new single, focused on a certain crimson nosed reindeer right here.

and here’s a fitting pic that I put on the Extra Sequential Facebook page (become our friend if you aren’t already!) from artist Mike del Mundo. I think it sums up mine and Mladen’s comics leanings quite well.

Finally, here’s Broken Frontier, a wonderful site that I write for and at that very site is where you can find more cards from other publishers and creators.

Merry CHRISTmas!


ExSeq Ep.59-DuckTales

55 mins. Don’t cry fowl, but we discuss the whacky and funny Fantagraphics collection of Carl Barks’ much loved 1940s Donald Duck stories, and compare them to BOOM! Studios’ current DuckTales…tales. Also, Ninja Turtles, Mythbusters and capitalism.

LISTEN TO IT BELOW, DOWNLOAD IT HERE OR ON iTUNES 

You can email us at kris (at)extrasequential(dot)com and befriend us on the NEW ES Facebook page.

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ExSeq Ep. 36-Rombies and Peanuts

54 mins. Some DC reviews and a discussion about Rombies #1 and the new Peanuts OGN. Also Joss Whedon’s apparent foot fetish, Snoopy’s cousins and Mladen plays Kris’ former sidekick. It’ll make sense once you listen to the ep.

LISTEN TO IT BELOW, DOWNLOAD IT HERE OR ON ITUNES

1:50 NEWS

Green Lantern’s toes (yes, you read that correctly).

Batman Live World Arena Tour has a press day with costumes and video. And confetti.

Michael Shannon cast as General Zod.

Tokyopop closes.

14: 44 WHAT WE’VE BEEN READING

Brightest Day #23. Swamp Thing returns to the DC Universe and a few characters get turned into elementals.

Fear Itself #7. The Red Skull’s daughter Sin picks up a Norse hammer and brings madness upon the earth!

Batman: Arkham City game.

Tron Legacy: Reconfigured soundtrack.

28:05 The return of Panel Plays (because we demanded it!)

30: 40 FEATURE REVIEWS

Happiness Is A Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown. A Peanuts OGN from BOOM! Studios. We both liked it and found it rather funny, with a consistent visual style. Peanuts purists and newbies will enjoy its charms.

Rombies #1, an awesome new series from Tom Taylor, Skye Ogden and Gestalt Publishing. Zombies in Old Testament times. A father’s love brings death. This promising start to the new series is a great looking and highly entertaining comic.

GL Full Costume      Batman Live      Brightest Day #23
fear-itself-1-cover      Tron-Legacy-Reconfigured      HAPPINESS_IS_A_WARM_BLANKET_CHARLIE_BROWN_CVR1
Rombies #1

Episode Twenty One-Christmas Comics

35 mins. No news, and no what we’ve been reading. It’s our most streamlined, aerodynamic episode yet, and it’s all about Christmas themed comics. Also, singing cats, Angelina Jolie’s tattoos, Under Siege and a dodgy Christopher Walken impersonation.

LISTEN TO IT BELOW, DOWNLOAD IT HERE, ON ITUNES OR MIXCLOUD.

Fables #56 in which Santa Claus is a natural fit, and he explains just how he visits kids the world over all in one night!

1980’s DC Super Star Holiday Special. Large format, 5 stories.

Vertigo’s 3 issue Winter’s Edge mini-series. Now re-printed!

JLA #60 which shows Plastic Man recounting a tale in which Santa Claus joins the Justice League.

The classic Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special. Poor, poor Santa. And yes, there was a two issue Lobo/The Mask cross-over a decade ago.

The Tick Big Yule Log Special from 1997. Spoooon!

Batman Returns. Yes, it’s a festive superhero film, with lots of snow, nose biting and awkward speeches.

Dear Dracula. It’s a kids’ book showing young Sam writing to his hero Dracula instead of Santa. From Silverline Books.

Fables #56 Cover DC Super Star Holiday Special
Winter's Edge JLA# 60
Lobo Christmas Paramilitary Special The Tick Big Yule Log Special
Dear Dracula p4

 


Episode Fifteen-Talking With Gods

77 mins. A whole bunch of stuff as usual including a first look at next year’s Tintin movie, our thoughts on the documentary focused on Scottish writer Grant Morrison involving his magic and drug use, some new all ages comics such as Toy Story and Atomic Robo, the weird and brutal 676 Apparitions, the power of stories in The Unwritten and more.

Listen to it below, download it here , on iTunes or Mixcloud.

1:22 NEWS

The sale of the hugely popular San Diego Comic-Con tickets go live on Nov 22 for July 2011, writer JMS is off monthly comics to focus on the sequel to Superman: Earth One, the new DC Comics digital store, Spider-Man’s death, just released pics from the Tintin film, the success of the Walking Dead TV series, Batman Live World Arena Tour, a classic Fran Drescher and Robin Williams film and I also mistakenly credit Haley Joel Osment from The Sixth Sense instead of Freddie Highmore as the voice of Astro Boy. Phew, that’s a lot of news!

25:0 WHAT WE’VE BEEN READING/WATCHING

The Nikita film, (in which I make one more film error and get Tcheky Karyo and Jurgen Prochnow and U-571 and Das Boot mixed up!), Russian flying car film Black Lightning, the new Predators, the latest season of Dexter.

And for comics we yak about the wild Mesmo Delivery from Rafael Grampa, the new Atomic Robo series, 676 Apparitions of Killoffer, Toy Story: Tales from the Toy Chest #2 from BOOM! Studios, Vertigo’s series The Unwritten, Image’s Halcyon #1.

And yes, I mix up the title of another film!

56:30 FEATURE REVIEW

The new doco Talking With Gods on writer Grant Morrison of JLA, We3, The Invisibles and more fame.

1:10:45 WEBSITE OF THE WEEK

Our Valued Customers – real things said by geeks and crazies in a comic book shop.

Mesmo Delivery 676
Toy Story Tales from Toy Chest 2 The Unwrittenvol1
Halcyon 1 Grant Morrison Talking With Gods

Episode Fourteen-Superman Earth One

74 mins. We’re joined again by Gianni from retailer Quality Comics, and the 3 of us yak on about a bunch of films and comics as well as evil transvestites, Lois Lane with a Tommy Gun and more.

An in depth discussion of the new look at the origin of the Man of Steel in the Superman Earth One graphic novel, horror series Abattoir, the weird dreamscape of X’ed Out, new British comics magazine Clint and the much delayed comic about a beloved Serenity character.

LISTEN TO IT BELOW, DOWNLOAD IT HERE OR ON ITUNES OR MIXCLOUD

1:00 NEWS

The new Thunder Cats cartoon, upcoming films including Mission Impossible 4, and the 3D Spider-Man and Tron: Legacy, Legendary Pictures launches Legendary Comics and the return of webcomic The Perry Bible Fellowship.

12:00 WHAT WE’VE BEEN READING/WATCHING

Classic Van Damme, classic Arnie and classic Belushi, horror prequel Paranormal Activity 2 and the film everyone’s talking about, The Social Network.

As for comics, we review Abattoir #1 from Radical Publishing, Kick Ass 2 #1, the Viking era of Northlanders Volume 4, British comics magazine Clint, X’ed Out from Charles Burns, the whimsicalReturn of the Dapper Men, the great Fleischer Superman cartoons from the 1940s and the long awaited Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale.

51:30 TRADE/SWAP

We all moan about the updated Man of Steel as seen in graphic novel Superman: Earth One from DC Comics.

70: 00 WEBSITE OF THE WEEK

The very cool movie/music remixes of Perth’s own Pogo.

Abattoir #1 Cover Northlanders Volume 4
Clint Magazine #1 X'ed Out
Return of the Dapper Men Cover Max Fleischer Superman cartoon
Superman Earth One

 

 

 

 


Jim McCann and Janet Lee Interview

This interview, conducted with the writer and artist of the unique OGN, Return of the Dapper Men (now available from publisher Archaia) was scheduled for the print version of Extra Sequential. This is the last interview from the recent final days of ES, but you can see the rest of our almost-to-print articles right here. Now, read on to discover more about this gorgeous looking book.

A group of men in sartorial elegance floating to the floor like feathers. It’s an unusual impetus for a new fantastic tale, but inspired by said image, writer Jim McCann couldn’t help himself, as he and artist Janet Lee reveal about their new original graphic novel for Archaia, Return of the Dapper Men. The book exists in a world called Anorev, a world where adults do not exist, and books are used for standing upon, not reading, or as Archaia describe it, “a tale of a world in between time, where children have played so long it’s almost become work, machines have worked so long they have begun to play, and all the clocks have stopped at the same time.”

“I’ve known Jim for about 15 years, I think,” Lee reveals. “He’s one of my closest friends. We met socially when he was still living in Nashville, worked at the same company for a while, lived less than a mile from each other. At one point, we had a mad scheme to go on Trading Spaces together. Eventually Jim sold his house in Nashville and moved to New York, but we’ve always kept in touch. He visits me when he’s in town to see his family, and I visit him when I’m in NYC.” The pair admit that it was three images in particular that set off the creative chain of events that would be the creation of these very well-dressed gents and the world in which they live. “A couple of years ago, Jim was visiting for the holidays; while in Nashville, he came to see one of my gallery shows,” Lee elaborates. “He saw three particular pieces: a six-foot-tall, Magritte-inspired image of men in bowler hats and striped suits raining over the rooftops of Paris; a tiny image of a steampunk boy with goggles; and a small illustration of a robot girl. About a month later, he sent me an email with what turned out to be the opening lines to Return of the Dapper Men and a note asking if I wanted to do an OGN. Of course, I said yes!” McCann aggress with Lee’s assessment of the project’s genesis in that it, “was born from three pieces she had created for different gallery shows but in my strange mind formed this story that I had to write. And every time she’d send me a sketch or I’d come across a doodle, more story would spring to mind. It’s truly a collaborative process, inspiring each other.” The writer also admits that in a broader sense, he finds inspiration in many corners of the world. “I love fairy tales and the fantastical. Anything that transports you away from the cabs and crowds and bills or changing cat litter, the things we all do or deal with as part of daily life. I want to remind myself (and others) of that overwhelming sense of wonder you feel when you see something new and exciting for the first time. In approaching Return of the Dapper Men, I looked back at my own youth and the worlds I would create with action figures or on paper or acted out in my backyard with an imaginary legion of characters. I thought about the feelings I had when I first saw Empire Strikes Back. The first time I read Shel Silverstein aloud. Acting like a Wild Thing or building a pillow and blanket fort. And the 50th time I saw Empire Strikes Back. All of that is what I wanted to bring to this, but also the perspective of the adults that are now my peers and the man-child I sort of have become by not letting go of dreams and instead making them destiny and reality.”

A huge part of making Dapper Men a reality was finding a publisher that would understand the unique book and trust the vision of the duo behind it. Janet recalls that during a trip to New York for a trade show, she and McCann, “spent about a week hashing out the story line and character concepts. We also came up with a short list of publishers we thought would be a good fit for the book. Archaia was at the top of that list. Later that year at San Diego Comic-Con, Jim pitchedReturn of the Dapper Men to Mark Smylie [Archaia’s Chief Creative Officer] and Stephen Christy [Archaia’s Editor-In-Chief], and the rest is history!”

Speaking of history, creating the background for Anorev and its uniquely enchanting world was one of the first challenges for the tale. “I remember our early discussions as being the time where we really fleshed out the world of Anorev,” Lee recalls. “What did it look like where the robots lived, where the children lived? What did the children and robots look like; what did they wear? I spent a week in New York making character sketches and bouncing ideas off Jim. Initially, my thought was that the city would look a lot like my neighborhood in Nashville, which is filled with Victorian and Craftsman-style homes, lots of trees. We ended up with a cross between Paris and East Nashville with a fairy-land of gears beneath the streets for the children to play in.”

McCann mentions that the scope of Dapper Men can not necessarily be contained in one book. “It’s also large in scale in that this is actually the first in a trilogy of books. Wait until you see what’s planned for the future.” He describes the tale as, “both incredibly large and universal in scope, and at the same time a very personal and microscopic story. At its center, there are three main characters and their actions determine their fates, and also the fate of the world even though two of them don’t know it. It deals with larger themes of clockwork universe and some theology if you dig deep enough, but then if you just read it as a story with no analysis, it’s a tale about kids not wanting to go to bed (for the first time in as long as any of them can remember) for fear of change. But without sleep, you can’t dream, and without growing up, there is no such thing as destiny. It’s about discovering that, and learning that first step of growing up and embracing what you are meant to become.” Within this steampunk/fantasy/sci-fi realm exists Ayden, the sole boy to possess curiosity, a cherished robot girl named Zoe and a Dapper Man referred to as 41. These three must discover why time has frozen and come to grips with who they truly are in their world. The aforementioned 41 is just one of the many Dapper Men who fall upon Anorev. McCann refers to Lee as his “amazing co-creator and artist” and reveals that she “finds it large in scope when I tell her that there are 314 Dapper-Looking men raining down from the sky. She loves me for that, don’t believe otherwise.”

As an artist Lee’s hands on collage approach couldn’t be more different from the slick renderings most comics readers are accustomed to, but its visual approach is key to cementing the inherent dream-like nature of the book. “When Jim talked to Mark and Stephen at SDCC, he showed them images of some gallery pieces,” Lee reveals. “For the past several years, I’ve been working in a sort of “original collage” technique where I draw images on vellum, cut them out and then layer them onto wood or canvas or paper with other components (like art papers, or pages from old books). It’s a type of decoupage—very ’70s. Archaia was always completely clear that they wanted me to illustrate the pages my way using my style, so that’s the way I’ve approached it. Now that being said, I did discover pretty quickly that paper wasn’t heavy enough to support the number of layers I was using and that I wanted to build each page as a single board rather than making individual images which we’ve brought together during Photoshop layout.”

Going from the art gallery to the comic book shelves is a transition for the artist, but hopefully one that others will also continue to make as the line between art forms, whether sequential or otherwise, continues to blur. Lee reveals, “After Roy Lichtenstein, I’m not sure anyone can possibly claim that the art world at large is unfamiliar with comics. I suspect that the percentage of gallery artists who read comics is probably pretty similar to that of the general population, a little higher number amongst the forms that respond to contemporary culture, a little fewer amongst the more traditional forms. That last part’s a guess, but comics are so pervasive now, anyone relating to pop culture must be aware. Lee continues, “In some cases, it’s probably true [that gallery artists don’t recognize or value sequential art] but heck, the oil painters look down at people working in acrylics. Old-school painters wouldn’t even draw their own figures, but would call in “draftsmen” to take care of that chore. My first teacher wouldn’t let me sketch out a piece on canvas with a pencil, but insisted we only use a brush and paint. In any type of artistic venture, people seem to want to classify something as “better or worse.” The trick is in realizing that all true artistic merit comes from how effectively the artist communicates with his/her audience.”

Considering this is Lee’s first foray from the gallery to the comic shop, the artist admits that she’s, “never been a “normal” gallery artist, and I’ve always been a huge comics geek, so in a sense it’s been surprisingly easy. I’ve been experimenting for a while with things like sequential portraits where I incorporate images and stories of the person’s life into their portrait. I’ve also played a bit with things like “sequential shows” where the individual pieces tell a story as you walk through the gallery. I find art to be a narrative medium, but it’s all well and good to produce a limited series of related images, and another thing entirely to phrase them on page after page in a way that’s interesting and supports the narrative. In that sense, the learning curve has been incredibly steep. I read just about every sequential book I can get my hands on to get ideas and, hopefully, become better.” The key to any good comic is a good collaboration, as Lee freely admits. “Fortunately, Jim has a great way of letting me know (kindly) when something sucks, and letting me bounce ideas off him. That’s one of my favorite things, so far, about sequential art: it’s wonderfully collaborative. The team works together to build something that’s better than the sum of its parts.”

McCann is not new to the process of working with other creative types however. Originally working as a script writer on the popular ABC drama One Life To Live, he moved to New York in 2004 and soon stared working for Marvel in their PR department before gradually writing their characters in stories such as Dazzler and New Avengers: The Reunion, featuring archer Hawkeye and the recently resurrected Mockingbird, two former Avengers team-mates and their life and death love life.

“The amazing thing about Marvel,” he reveals, “is that they always knew I wanted to write, and when it came time for that to happen, they helped me make that happen. I’d written for the stage and TV, and am a massive comic book fan, so it came as no surprise that the writer in me would finally say, “OK, time to get to work on THIS part of my life.” McCann has not left Marvel behind completely though, as his writing chores on crime-fighting lovers Hawkeye and Mockingbird prove, as does his new relaunch of Alpha Flight, focused on Canada’s foremost superhero team. “I love the Marvel offices and miss being a part of it. Fortunately, I am local, so I can pop over any time,” McCann mentions. “That said, I still miss being on the super-duper inside track. However, that has freed me up to explore and really work out my writing more than I imagined.” McCann is also aware that sitting behind the keyboard means, “I have more time to write, which means I HAVE to write! This is my source of income and it’s also what I’ve said I’ve wanted to do for all my life, literally. So, time to DO it.”

McCann’s scripts dedicated to long-time lovers with a generous dose of superhero action in the monthly series Hawkeye and Mockingbird are a great delight to fans of adventure and the scribe reveals that, “it was originally pitched as the Mr. and Mrs. Smith of the Marvel U, but I recently discovered the incredible show Burn Notice, which I watch faithfully now. The characters of Hawkeye and Mockingbird have a very human aspect as well, and for that I look to Nick and Nora Charles (of The Thin Man), Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, and many other classic film pairings.”

With his TV past and current comic book scripting there’s not necessarily a lot of difference in the approach to scripting for the writer. “Not really in the form of storytelling; they are both serialized mediums, dealing with years of continuity and existing characters, and have vocal fan bases. With an original graphic novel like Return of the Dapper Men, it’s more like a pilot or a film, where you put something new out there and hope people buy.”

Speaking of which Dapper Men was inspired not only by his co-creator (“Janet’s art continues to inspire me.”) but also those darker tales and fables that all good parents read to their kids, despite their darkness that some may not embrace in today’s sensitive world. “I went back and re-read the texts of Grimms, Barrie, Carroll and they all had dark overtones that have been glossed over in today’s cartoon adaptation world or pop-up book incarnations. They had real lessons there, some were deeper and hidden, something left for you to discover when you re-read them as adults. As a child, you take away one level from the story—the face value. That’s what’s become the modern way of remembering these classics. But they were intended to educate the adult as well. I love that, and I hope that Dapper can achieve something remotely close to that.”

As for his own status as a dapper men McCann reveals, ”I am the least Dapper Man you’ll meet (on the outside, at least). I’m a t-shirt and jeans (or shorts) guy. All the time. I don’t know that I have a suit…I’ll have to check,: and as for his favourite garment in his wardrobe? “There is a t-shirt two sizes too big that I’ve had for 15 years now. It’s been washed so many times that it’s like a blanket. It’s nothing special, a drab green/brown shirt. But it is my “serious writing” shirt. I always make sure it’s washed and if I’m wearing it, then it means I am in the zone or have a deadline. I only wear it when writing (but not every time I write) and I can’t imagine ever getting rid of it.”

One man who knows a thing or two about sartorial elegance is a certain Tony Stark, and the man who plays him on the big screen. McCann met the stylish man himself at Comic Con and relates an awkward tale about the encounter, though he does admit that when it comes to conventions, “I see something new and funny at every one of them. Personally, my most embarrassing moment was when I almost pushed Robert Downey Jr. in a pool at a party in SDCC trying to get to Katee Sackhoff and Joss Whedon to introduce them to each other (they had not met yet). I jumped over a stanchion at the corner of the pool and there he was—RDJ! I stammered out, “So sorry, Mr. Downey Junior!” and kept running.”

The 4 part Widow Maker storyline begins in December and runs through both Black Widow #9-10, written by Duane Swierczynski and Hawkeye and Mockingbird #7-8, written by McCann.

The luscious Return of the Dapper Men hardcover is out now from Archaia, containing 120 pages of whimsy, fantasy and very well-dressed gentlemen, as well as introduction from fashion guru Tim Gunn and a diverse and dazzling gallery from some of the industry’s best artists.


New Transformers 2 and G.I. Joe Trailers

The new G.I. Joe trailer is now out, and the film hits cinemas on August 6. It uses some of the footage shown in the Superbowl teaser a while back, and the exo-suits concern me. It looks like a good actioner nonetheless. The Transformers sequel, Revenge of the Fallen also has a new trailer and it looks sweeet. It opens on June 24. More transforming robots, more explosions, more lingering shots of Megan Fox, more humour from Shia LaBeouf and more lens flare direction from Michael Bay. Yep, it’s gonna be a hit. 


Free Marvel Toons – Including 90s X-Men

90s Storm

90s Wolverine and CyclopsI remember struggling to catch as much of the glorious 1990s X-Men cartoon each day before heading off to school. It was surprisingly faithful to the comics of the time, and often written by comics scribes. Many people came to be aware of Marvel’s merry mutants due to this show. Now you can see them all over again, as well as the new Wolverine and the X-Men animated series, which is my fave thing on TV, along with the fun Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Press release below.

Calling all Mutants! Every Tuesday, Marvel.com will stream episodes from the X-Men animated series that launched in 1992. Relive the adventure, excitement and that awesome theme song every week starting today, April 28!

Watch episode 1, “Night of the Sentinels” Part 1, for free right now, here.

Episode 1, “Night of the Sentinels,” Part 1: After being attacked by a group of robots known as the Sentinels, Jubilation Lee meets the X-Men, a group of super heroes aiming for peace between mutants and the rest of society.

Plus, check out these other shows, already streaming for free on Marvel.com:

Japanese Spiderman 

Wolverine and the X-Men 

Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes 

X-Men: Evolution 

Spider-Man, the animated series from 1967

90s Rogue90s Beast


FCBD Signings Galore

FCBD – that’s Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday, May 2. Basically you can grab selected freebies from participating comic shops around the globe. For more info, go here. There’s a lot happening, especially in America (they have all the fun) including signings at various comic shops with Captain Kirk (or at least that Shatner guy that played him), and a treasure trove of comics creators. It’s a great way to introduce friends or family members to the wonders of sequential art. A gaggle of press releases below.

fcbd_cymk_date1Event: William Shatner signing at Golden Apple Comics  
       “FREE COMIC BOOK DAY”
What: Retail
Host: Bluewater Productions
Start Time: Saturday, May 2 at 1:00pm
End Time: Saturday, May 2 at 3:00pm
Where: Golden Apple Comics

Hero Initiative is proud to announce a unique fundraising partnership with Southern California comic stores on Saturday, May 2nd for Free Comic Book Day, and Los Angeles’ “Big Sunday” on May 3.   Three comic stores in Southern California will donate proceeds directly to Hero Initiative from signings and drawings by featured creators.  In addition, the local comic stores will host community events and distribute free comic books as part of the national celebration.  Local celebrations on Saturday, May 2nd include:

Collector’s Paradise, 7131 Winnetka Ave, Winnetka California

A signing will be held between 12pm and 3:00pm attended by:

  •          Mark Waid (Amazing Spider-Man)
  •          Marc Guggenheim (Amazing Spider-Man)
  •          Jim Mahfood (40-oz. Comics)
  •          Mike Kunkel (Billy Baston and the Power of Shazam!)
  •          Joe Benitez (Justice League of America)
  •          David Wohl (Witchblade)
  •          JT Krul (Fathom)

In addition, eBay auctions of original art donated to Hero will start May 2nd here.

And a professional photographer will take picture of you and your favorite artist or Comic Book Hero at Collector’s Paradise with all proceeds donated to Hero Initiative.

Finally, you can bring your Ralphs Rewards grocery store card to Collector’s Paradise to sign it up for Hero on Ralphs Community Contribution program OR sign up for a new card and get a FREE copy of Hero’s What If This Was the Fantastic Four?

Meltdown Comics, 7522 West Sunset, Los Angeles CA

Artist Tim Sale (Batman: The Long Halloween) will be in attendance on Hero’s behalf from noon-2 PM and will do sketches on the inside cover of books for $20, and Hero sketchcards for $10.

Four Color Fantasies, 7172 Archibald Ave, Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Original art auctions will benefit Hero Initiative, and there will be character appearances by Batman and Robin, Superman, and the Star Wars 501st legion. Drawing contests, face paining and free food and fun for the whole family will also be included. Some of the many featured artists to appear include:

  •          Todd Nauck (Amazing Spider-Man)
  •          Danny Miki (Amazing Spider-Man)
  •          Norm Rapmund (Infinite Crisis)
  •          Allen Martinez  (Iron Man)

And on Sunday, May 3, Los Angeles’ all-inclusive charity event known as Big Sunday will also benefit Hero Initiative with “Change for Change” at many of its most-attended sites. Volunteers for Change for Change will be asking people to donate their loose change to Hero. Check out www.bigsunday.org for locations and events

top-cow-fcbd-2009-final_page_01Top Cow Productions, Inc. proudly announced its plans today for this weekend’s Free Comic Book Day, Saturday, May 2nd which takes place in comic shops across North America. Free Comic Book Day is an annual event where participating direct market stores give out free comics to anyone that walks into their store.
    Top Cow is participating again in the event with their Free Comic Book Day offering, Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer First Look. The issue serves as an introduction to the publisher’s summer event of the same name, which brings together the two popular teams Cyberforce and Hunter-Killer. The series and Free Comic Book Day offering is written by Mark Waid (Amazing Spider-Man, Irredeemable) and drawn by Kenneth Rocafort (Astonishing Tales, Madame Mirage). Both teams were co-created by Top Cow founder Marc Silvestri and Hunter-Killer was co-created by writer Mark Waid. The teams have been absent from a regular series for several years and this marks their return to the forefront of the Top Cow Universe. 
    Writer Mark Waid will be appearing at Collector’s Paradise in Winnetka, CA and artist Kenneth Rocafort will be appearing at the Puerto Rico Comic Con in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Other Top Cow creators making appearances in Los Angeles include Michael Broussard, Rob Levin, Nelson Blake II, and Rick Loverd. Additionally, Top Cow mainstays Ron Marz and Phil Hester will be appearing in various parts of the United States to celebrate the annual event. 

    Complete details follow below:

Collector’s Paradise
7131 Winnetka Ave.
Winnetka, CA 91306
(818) 999-9455
Signing 12pm-3pm
Mark Waid (Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer)
Joe Benitez (The Darkness, Magdalena)
David Wohl (Witchblade, The Darkness)

Puerto Rico Comic Con & Pop Culture Expo
100 Convention Boulevard 
San Juan, PR 00907
http://www.thepopcultureexpo.com/
Signing 
Kenneth Rocafort (Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer, Madame Mirage)

For more Top Cow related signings, see below.

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Mr. Stuffins #1 Review

Mr. Stuffins #1Think of this title as Reverse Chucky. Instead of a doll terrorizing children, and adults alike, we have a teddy bear helping them.

From Andrew Cosby and Johanna Stokes, who have written the excellent BOOM! series Eureka and Station, respectively, comes this impressively cuddly debut. It had me smirking and fondly recalling my own carefree days of playing with my He-Man figures and G.I Joes. Ah, good times. This is a boy’s own adventure – literally, but it does have a healthy dose of dark humour and adventure. Like BOOM!’s other series, such as The Incredibles, or The Muppet Show Comic Book, this is something parents could read with their kids, with both getting enjoyment from it.

It begins with a scientist running from the agency he works for. Upon creating Artificial Intelligence, he flees from his nefarious employers and runs to the closest toy shop, where he swaps his CD with that of an interactive teddy bear. At the same time, David, a bath salesman recently separated from his fed up wife, is taking his son Zach out for a bit of shopping. After waving masculine gifts infront of his face, Zach decides to go for Mr. Stuffins instead. The rest of the issue is focused on Zach as he discovers his teddy’s unique skill set and gets frustrated with his lack of singing and bed-time story telling abilities. After all, that’s what the box promised! It’s like a premise of a classic 1980s film that was never made.

I could hear Mr. Stuffin’s gruff, take charge voice every time he spoke. He ties up a lifeless pink bunny for interrogation, beats up school bullies and mocks Zach’s parents. Yet he’s a loveable rascal. While elements of Buzz Lightyear and the 1998 film Small Soldiers may be apparent to some, this is still a refreshing concept. Zack is old enough to know that a teddy bear with military skills is not normal, yet young enough to just accept him as a new, though reluctant, friend.

I can see why this was a sell-out when it first appeared, and now that it’s returned with new art by Axel Medellin, it will surely garner new fans. Medellin draws with great expression. His figure work is simple, yet fluid enough and from the moment Mr. Stuffins’ eyes alight and he sits up, fully aware, I was sold on the approach. It has some great pacing and truly witty lines, that I won’t do the disservice of spoiling here. Let’s just say that I haven’t been entertained with cuddly toys for many years, yet I now want a Mr. Stuffins for Christmas.

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New Marvel Toys

Appropriately entitled Geek-lactus (after the biggest, baddest planet eater in the Marvel Universe, Galactus) is Marvel.com’s new monthly video feature. Its’ devoted to the latest news regarding Marvel toys and collectibles. The premiere video features looks at the new Hasbro figures, Kotobukiya busts and more.


Top Cow In July

Witchblade tpb7Top Cow’s solicitations for their July releases are now out. This is the complete list.

Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer #1 Mark Waid/Kenneth Rocafort/Mike Choi   
Berserker #2                Rick Loverd/Jeremy Haun/Dale Keown    
Fusion #3                Abnett/Lanning/Kirkham/Choi        
Dragon Prince #1-4 Reader Set    Marz/Moder                    
Impaler #5                William Harms/Matt Timson            
Witchblade #128            Ron Marz/Stjepan Sejic            
Witchblade #125 ECCC Var Cvr    Marz/Sejic/Silvestri                
Art of Top Cow HC            Silvestri/Top Cow’s Finest            
Witchblade Vol 7 TPB            Marz/Sejic                    
Witchblade/Darkness/Angelus: Blood on the Sands Sgn    Smith/Mitchell/Grindberg/Admira        

And here’s what I’d pick – actually all of them if I could. Berserker started strong, Witchblade continues to intrigue and Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer is by Waid and Rocafort, so what’s not to love there? Art books seem to be coming out of the woodwork lately, and we should be thankful for that. The Art of Top Cow should be dream to the eyes, and for newbies who like horror, you can’t go wrong with Impaler or if you prefer you entretainment less adult – go for the complete set of Dragon Prince. The conclusion to the 3 part x-over with Marvel, Fusion should also be a beauty. That’s enough to keep you busy.

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Wednesday Comics

wednesday-comicsJust in case you haven’t heard, DC’s new venture is entitled Wednesday Comics (as new comics come out every Wednesday in the U.S). The concept was launched from the brain of artist and Art Director Mark Chiarello. Every weekly issue is only 16 pages, but will be filled with superb art from some great storytellers, and it will be big art too. Bigger then the average comic size, it will be like a large tabloid, newspaper supplement. It’s a bold direction but it should pay off. There are some great artists in the industry that will take gleeful advantage of this. Below is  a preview of John Arcudi and Lee Bermejo’s Superman story and a Batman tale from the 100 Bullets team of Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso. Also included in the upcoming 12 part series will be a Metamorpho tale by Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred, Supergirl by Kimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner and Joe Kubert on Sgt. Rock. Creators such as Kurt Busiek, Dave Bullock, Walt Simonson, Ryan Sook, Dave Gibbons and Paul Pope are also involved. Look for the first oversized issue in July. Awesome news.

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Batman 2.0 Winners

Over at the always awesome Project Rooftop site (where artists submit their ideas for superhero re-designs) the winners of the latest Batman competition are up. Below are my faves (the first one being the Grand Prize Winner). You can check out the rest of the runners up and honourable mentions at Project Rooftop. 

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Marvel Helps You

Press release from Marvel below. It seems like a great idea for retailers to get in touch with on-line readers, and bring them to stores.

Hey Mighty Marvelites!  Trying to plan your Wednesday comic buying?  Looking for upcoming news about comic events and sales in the area?  Or perhaps you’ve moved and want to find a new comic shop?  Maybe you’ve seen the newest comic book blockbuster film and want to visit the nearest shop to read more about the characters that appeared?    Marvel Comics is here to help you AND your local comic retailer!

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Marvel is pleased to announce that retailers are now able to participate in the Marvel Retailer Resource Center- an invaluable tool to help retailers make use of  all of the information, artwork, and previews that is at their disposal. This innovative tool offers tremendous benefits to local retailers and fans. TheMarvel Retailer Resource Center enables retailers to create websites for their stores with up-to-the-minute news, artwork, catalog listings and changes, as well as maps and local happenings.  Ask your retailer if they have signed up for the Marvel Retailer Resource Center and tell them Marvel sent you!

Retailers, please note that you can list any and all non-Marvel products on the websites created through the Marvel Retailer Resource Center.


Flesicher Superman Toons

Fleischer Superman DVDThese Superman cartoons still stand up today, despite being produced in the 1940s. Sure, they might be light on story, but they look great. Now, Warner Bros. is releasing a collection of them all. Press release (and video clip) below.

Warner Bros. and DC comics opened the vault to release the very first animated DC Comics Superman cartoons. Commonly known as the Fleischer Superman Cartoons, the series of seventeen animated Technicolor short films will be released on DVD as a 2-disc  collection featuring 17 action-packed vintage theatrical cartoons.

The Max Fleischer Superman title also includes great bonus features including a revealing documentary which defines the tradition of the “Super Human” archetype of hero and why Superman resonates with fans on such a deep and personal level. Also included in the bonus features are interviews with surviving members, relatives and biographers of the animation and production team and contemporary animators such as Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series), Paul Dini and Dan Riba (Superman: The Animated Series) who detail the influence these cartoons have had on their own works.


Saturday Morning Watchmen

Ah, the Watchmen parodies just keep on coming, but this one is right up my alley. My Gen-X, 80s cartoon loving alley. Imagine if the studio who gave the world the cheesy Ninja Turtles toon back in the day got their hands on Alan Moore’s and Dave Gibbons’ seminal work of fiction. Funny, funny stuff, including an amusing theme song, a dancing Nite owl and Dr. Manhattan changing into a car. You can see the rest of creator Harry Partridge’s videos here.

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Marvel Mirth

 

Think of it as Marvel’s less crude version of Robot Chicken. Press release below.

Marvel’s brand-new video series “Marvel Super Heroes: What The–?!” premieres on Marvel.com today! See it now here.

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In today’s Giant-Size Premiere, find out what happens when Iceman loses his powers and decides to play his luck at being a late night talk-show host!

“Marvel Super Heroes: What The–?!” continues Marvel’s tradition of comic book satires as made popular in the Marvel comic book series “NOT BRAND ECHH” (from the 1960s) and “What The–?!” (from the 1990s). This time around, it’s not only a new millennium but a new medium, with Marvel exercising its might in the world of stop-motion animation. 

Tune in to Marvel Videos for more news and more Mighty Marvel exclusives!

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Issue 2 Out Now!

It’s finally arrived. Woohoo! Our second issue is 88 pages long (30 pages more than our first issue!) and features more interviews, features and reviews. Inside you’ll find stuff on the new Flash Gordon, the Brit detective series Harker, the all-ages Kid Beowulf, artist Joe Jusko, the scary Dread Force mechs, and a look at the gorgeous work of Steve Pugh in Hotwire, as well as a review of the brand new League of Extraodinary Gentlemen: Century. There’s so much more of course. Hope you enjoy it! Check it out right here.

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The Incredible Caped Muppets

BOOM! Studios recent acquisition of Disney’s/Pixar’s Toy Story, The Incredibles , Cars and Muppets franchises was a smart move. Sure, it would have cost them, but it’ll pay off. With their recent announcement of a deal that allows them to have these comics available in comics chops (obviously) and US newsstands, plus Trade Paperbacks eventually collecting the series available at bookstores, things are looking good for their new BOOM! Kids imprint. So good infact, that the debut issues of The Incredibles and The Muppet Show have all sold out the day before they were released, causing BOOM! to happily rush out second printings immediately.  This is good news for kids who love Pixar films, and their parents who remember Kermit, Miss Piggy and the gang. So, are the comics actually any good? You bet!

The Incredibles #1, first of a four parter entitled Family Matters has the superpowered family visiting the Metroville Zoo when their lovely outing is interrupted by a mechanical baddie riding a dinosaur/elephant hybrid. He calls himself Futurion and he quickly re-makes the zoo’s inhabitants into mash-ups of various animals, so a hippo merges with a T-Rex and Pterodactyls merge with gorillas. The family put on their costumes and the action begins. After they round up the strange beasts and capture their master, the Parrs go home and receive a dressing down from dad for their reckless behaviour and disregard of his orders. Despite their neighbours popping in, Bob Parr AKA Mr Incredible goes back to the zoo after receiving a clue from son Dash, and finds that Futurion has left one last surprise at the zoo. However, as he reveals to pal Frozone, Mr Incredible has a surprise of his own – that he may not be so incredible after all.

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With the voices of the Pixar film running in my mind as I read this, it goes to show how good that film was at creating rich characters and fun superheroey adventure. Writer, and EIC of BOOM!, Mark Waid captures the voices well and move things along at a brisk pace. Marcio Takara’s art is suitably fluid and full of expression, making certain this is a grand read for those who loved the film.

Another 4 issue series just released from BOOM! is also a fun look at costumed adventures. However, Caped is more mature than the Pixar adaptation. Written by Josh Lobis and Darin Moiselle, with art by Yair Herrera, Caped is made for older superhero fans. It’s a classy parody. Sure, we’ve seen a lot of those over the years, but fanboys don’t mind laughing at the objects of their obsessions. It begins with a dark Batman-inspired hero called Edge who arrives late to Gemini’s (think Two-Face) hostage maneuver aboard a train. The rescued hostage, Jimmy Lohman wants to be a top reporter, but instead gets a job as the 28th assistant for Grant Godfried, respected journalist, and you guessed it – alter ego of Edge, Capitol City’s nocturnal soldier. So why does a superhero need an assistant, you ask? In Edge’s words, because he can’t, “answer phones, wait for the cable guy and protect 8 million people all at the same time.” Good call. As the new pair start to track down the escaped Gemini, Jimmy is introduced to the world of big-time superheroics, witnessing the Edgemobile in action, dropping into the EdgeCave and glimpsing Edge’s suitably abled pals, The League. It’s here that Jimmy begins his training in the unique art of being a superhero aid by Marvin. This was a fun read. Fans who’ve been reading comics for a while may appreciate it more, but the characters are starting to be built well, and some humorous dynamics occur.

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Lastly, The Muppet Show Comic Book #1. Written and drawn by Kiwi Roger Langrdidge, this embarces the wholesome zaniness of The Muppets very well. Fans of the TV series from the 1970s and 80s, or the cavalcade of films over the years will appreciate this. Rather than telling one long story, it’s split up into bite-sized pieces, much like the original show itself. Set behind the scenes of the TV show, like the first series was, it’s filled with great moments, such as the two grumps in the balcony remarking about how the Muppets will corrupt the medium of comics, to exploding frogs (not as gruesome as it sounds) to a sketch set on another planet, to the always amusing Swedish chef. There’s also a Pigs in Space sketch, a song from Kermit, plus a lot more. This is so much like the Muppets I remember on the glowing box in my living room that I had flashbacks. And that’s a good thing.

Thanks to BOOM! there’s now plenty of excuses for kids to read, and for parents to read along with them. Dive in.

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Another New Marvel Toon

 

Hot on the heels of the upcoming Marvel Super Hero Squad cartoon, comes news of another new toon. However this one will be web-only at http://www.marvel.com. Check out the press release below.

Introducing “Marvel Super Heroes: What The–?!”-an all-new, all-original video series from Marvel.com.

Conceived in the tradition of comic book satires done in the mighty Marvel manner-including NOT BRAND ECHH and, of course, WHAT THE–?!-the first episode launches on Marvel.com (www.marvel.com) in early spring.

Wish the series was here already? Then check out the teaser trailer below right now  and watch what happens when a hapless A.I.M. agent messes with M.O.D.O.K.’s scene! ‘Nuff said!

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Mike S. Miller Interview

I became familiar with writer Mike S. Miller’s work a couple of years ago through his Deal with the Devil series, as well as The Imaginaries, which is simply a great concept. He’s done work for every major publisher (either as writer or artist) and is most famous for his work on the adaptation of novelist George R.R. Martin’s Hedge Knight series, with writer/artist Ben Avery. He’s a creator that is able to change genres with ease however, and has also written Zondervan’s excellent The Hand of the Morningstar as well as the fantasy, Lullaby. The Imaginaries launched from Image four years ago, before moving to Abacus, Miller’s own publishing company. The series is back, and now withBluewater Productions. 

imaginariesaFor those that came in late, are you able to tell us a little about the world of The Imaginaries?
The world the Imaginaries inhabit is called ‘the imagined nation’, and it’s where all the loved creations brought to life by the powerful minds and hearts of children around the globe end up when those same children ‘grow up’ and forget about them.  So it’s a harsh reality for those creations, but an incredible world they now inhabit apart from their creators.
Are any of your childhood imaginary friends written in to the series?
Not this story, like most comic book artist types, my imaginary friends were the kind I’d write stories about and create on paper.  Just like Superhero G is to Tanner.  But I have to admit, mine at that age were nowhere near as cool as Superhero G is.  Though I may have to toss some of mine into the background here or there.  🙂
You’ve managed to work with almost every comic publisher out there, so how did you end up choosing Bluewater over all the others?
Darren Davis (Bluewater’s President – Kris) has been a friend for a decade now, we were just chatting on the phone and the issue came up of what I was going to do with Imaginaries.  I was just too busy to self-publish as I had originally planned.  I just thought it would be a great fit, and Darren agreed, so the plan was set into motion.
411cii749nl_ss500_How many books have you worked with Ben Avery on?
Hmm… Let’s see.  Imaginaries, Lullaby, Hedge Knight, Sworn Sword, and the Oz/Wonderland Chronicles.  That have been published anyway.  We have a couple other projects we’ve developed together that haven’t quite gotten off the ground yet.
And how does that history help your creative partnership?
Ben and I work well together.  We respect each others ideas and sense of how things work, as well as a shared world view.  So it seems the more we work together, the better we get at it.  lol.
How did Nikos Koutsis come to arrive on the title and how will he be working with you and Ben?
Nikos sent in a sample package to Alias when I was over there, and I picked him up for Imaginaries right away.  I’d been searching for an artist for the title for… seems like years actually.  Nikos was perfect, and is just about the only guy I could see working on the title right now.  He’s lent his storytelling preferences to our writing, opening up larger scenes and panels for him to stretch his wings and make this an artistic showplace for himself.  It’s great working with him, I hope to do so for years to come!
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A lot of the books you’ve written could be considered all-ages. Is that your goal in creating comics?
Actually, only about half of them have been all-ages titles.  Imaginaries, Lullaby, and Hand of the Morningstar.  Sixgun Samurai, Devil’s Keeper, and the one that’s been optioned by Lionsgate, Deal with the Devil are all more mature in theme.  Not to say they’re rated ‘R’ or anything, but they aren’t really ‘all ages’ per se.  I’m a diverse creator, and actually trying to keep myself from ever being pigeonholed into one genre. 

imagainaries21Going from A to Z, can you let us know what’s happening with your work at Abacus Comics and Zondervan?
Haha… cute.  Well, with Abacus, I’m trying to find ways to leverage the existing inventory to continue a residual revenue stream.  That means exploring digital comics, as well as shopping the properties in Hollywood.  Like I mentioned, Deal with the Devil has been the first to sell, and I’m hoping more will follow suit.  I’m also developing new properties that I’ll be shopping directly to Hollywood, if any of those get picked up, I’ll develop the comics for them as well.  As for Zondervan, I’m out of the picture there.  In the split with Alias, I let my former partner take the Zondervan contract in total.  And I don’t believe Zondervan is starting any new projects anyhow.  I am currently working on a book for the iPhone with another company, but I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed to talk about that publicly.

After all the unforeseen moments that you’ve experienced during your career how do you still maintain a love for this medium?
I guess I’m a geek.  Happy to be, though.  
The Imaginaries #1 is out now, and next month’s issue features a 22 page bonus story based on the classic sci-fi film, Missile to the Moon.