The Hulk comes to The Northlake Library

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We’ve been covering the thrilling saga of the Nine Foot Tall Hulk Statue and the Northlake Library for months, and we’re happy to say it finally reached it’s destination and was unveiled for the local crowd.

Here’s several pictures of the happy event from the local paper. Mastermind librarian Tom Mukite, who started the whole crazy idea with an Indiegogo campaign, is the dude in the Hulk green shirt above. For those coming in late, Mukite started a crowdfunding campaign to buy a Hulk for the Northlake Library in Illinois —although it didn’t reach its goal, word of the plan did reach a Californian businessman who had a bonus Hulk statue sitting around. He donated it to the library, transportation was found…and a dream came true.

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According to a story about the event at Robot 6, before reaching the library, the Hulk was taken to Wizard World Chicago where he helped raise an additional $1,500 in donations to buy more graphic novels for the library.

The unveiling was the biggest event ever at the library.

Seriously, all that remains for this story is the film-to-Broadway version of the tale, The Full Monty or Billy Elliott style. Vivek Tiwary, are you listening?

Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 9/27/13: The Lost Artwork of Neal Adams

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§ As you may have heard by now, renowned comics artist Neal Adams left several very valuable sketch books in the back of a cab a few days back, and he would like them back.

Neal Adams, best known for drawing Batman and Green Arrow, forgot to take two portfolio books out of the trunk of a Crown Victoria taxi at about 7:40 p.m. Sept. 4. The books were in a beige tote bag bearing an image of Bucky O’Hare, a cartoon and comic-book rabbit. Adams’ daughter, Kristine Stone, said the sketches in the books are worth tens of thousands of dollars. Each book had about 30 pages. About 100 to 120 sketches were lost.


A reward is being offered for their return. I don’t want to say never put anything in the trunk of a cab, but after a cabbie nearly drove off with my suitcase and I had to bang on the trunk Travis Bickle style to get him to stop, it is always anxiety producing. Oh yeah, I also alway get a cab receipt since it has the cab number on it, which doesn’t really do much good but there it is.

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But, as Scott Edelman points out, it is not the first time Adams lost artwork while availing himself of public transport in New York City.Some 40 years ago, he fell asleep on the subway and lost a portfolio.

The Taxi Commission is trying to help Adams recover the sketchbooks, but if you have seen something, say something by calling 212.869.4170.

§ A nice tribute to the long departed publisher Caliber, which gave many of today’s top cartoonists a start:

The list of A-list creators whose comics debuts were made possibly by Caliber is mind-boggling: Brian Michael Bendis, Stuart Immonen, Michael Lark, James O’Barr, Brandon Peterson, Dean Haspiel, Georges Jeanty and Jason Lutes all made their comics debuts here. In addition, Caliber also was where many budding creators made their first recognizable work; it was at there that Mike Allred created Madman, and Guy Davis blossomed with Baker Street.

§ A nice report on “the Ben Katchor, Miriam Katin, Ulli Lust, Lisa Hanawalt panel from last weekend’s Brooklyn Book Festival.

§ This interview with Chuck Forsman is a good Chuck Forsman 101. Forsman has been doing good comics for a while, but I think The End Of The F***ing World will establish him on a higher, deserved tier

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§ This Vulture piece 100 Pop-Culture Things That Make You Millennial raises a banner on the battlements 1995-2008 nostalgia culture. One of the things included is the cartoon Doug. I keep waiting for Doug to get its second wind and Patti Mayonnaise bulky sweatshirts to break out any day now. Am I wrong?

§ Why do I feel my life is so drab and dull compared to that of the people who work for D&Q? Or Frank Santoro?

§ ANOTHER SPX LINK, this time from Rob Clough’s lengthy and insightful report. Why am I still linking to SPX 2013 reports? Well for one thing people keep writing them, but for another, it was a watershed show in some still not quite defined way. It was the start of some new thing. Like the San Deigo Comic-Con it maxed out its physical space and even the money:

I imagine some artists who got an SPX table hoping to cash in on last year’s sales were disappointed. I am pretty certain that the success of last year’s show led to “Tablegeddon”, and I’m guessing that this will work itself out next year for those cartoonists who lost a lot of money and didn’t find the social interactions worth their time as a form of compensation. While the committee will take a look at the feedback they receive from cartoonists, I’m guessing that the new room is here to stay.


§ Likewise, this link to Lilli Carré’s report on the Helsinki Comics Festival lingered in my bookmarks for a few weeks but this show seems so vital and charming. Indie comics span the world or at least the Atlantic.

§ As I’ve been noting, comic-con backlash is beginning to take root in a few places. This piece on the inaugural Hyderabad Comic-Con in India complains there was More merchandise than comics at comic fest:

Ananya Prasad, a hard core comic book lover who visited the event on the first day, rues, “This was like one big mela for t-shirts and coasters! I’ve been to the Comic Con in Bangalore and there is so much more importance given to comics — there are equal number of stalls for merchandise and comics.”


Dan Wickline issued a defense of the show. It also seems that it was a first time event and they didn’t know how it would turn out. Still, not enough comics at a comic-con is a heartwarming complaint the world over.

§ The director of the beyond-x-rated ‘Blue Is the Warmest Color’ movie says it should not be released because he wet too far filming the leads fooling around. Sure you get to film two beautiful French girls making love and NOW you say everyone can’t watch?

§ Speaking of sex, the Sex Criminals launch party headed by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky was as wild as expected, with Zdarsky daring furries to take him to the limit as he donned a Garfield outfit; Fraction made do with getting a single nipple pierced on stage. Ouch.

The festivities began with an interview conducted by monoymous sex advice columnist and burlesque performer Sasha. Fraction confessed that writing the comic had led him and Zdarsky to share a lot of intimate details about their personal histories. “There are things about me that only Chip and my wife know,” he said. Fraction also admitted, “I wonder if my folks Google me, because I’ve not told them about this [book].” Zdarsky acknowledged that this was less of a problem for him; “My parents are here, so they don’t need to Google me.”

Brubaker and Epting get a touch of Velvet in their new spy thriller

As part of the new wave of Image creator owned comics by big name talent, Velvet by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting reunites the Captain America team for what is Epting’s first creator owned outing. VELVET1_CVR
Velvet, which goes on sales on October 23rd, is a tale of espionage set in the Cold War. It’s an idea Brubaker had kicking around for years—he estimates that from the time he came up with it to when Epting was finally able to start ten years passed. Although it seems like a long time, Brubaker was able to take more time research, resulting in a stronger story, he said as a press conference this afternoon.

Velvet concerns a female agent who is sort of the Miss Monnypenny of her organization. After the James Bond figure at the shop is killed and she’s framed with his murder, a caper ensues. Brubaker says the tone is somewhere between James Bond and Graham Greene, with maybe a bit of Modesty Blasie thrown in. “It’s my attempt to do a more straight version oo the super spy comic book. I wanted to find a way to bring a more realistic Tinker Tailor  Soldier Spy element to the over the top spy action thriller.”

After a binge of watching spy movies and reading spy novels a few years ago, “I had the revelation that all the women characters in all those stories were lame and weak,” Brubaker continues.  “It’s the Moneypenny archetype in spy fiction, like Mike Hammer’s secretary who was in love with him and so on. But in this story it’s what if that person had a secret history and was the most interesting person in that world.”

Brubaker’s take was informed by his reading about the period—“The US and the UK denied using women as honeypots, but the Russians admitted they did it all the time”—and Greg Rucka’s insistence he watch the old TV show The Sandbaggers. “There’s one episode where the head of Mi6 has has to get a new secretary. The whole point of the episode was to show that the person has to be on eof the most qualified people at the organization. That person has to weed out the stuff her boss doesn’t need to know. So it would be interesting if you took that character and put her in a situation where she was framed for the murder of a James Bond type and had to go on the run. I’ve read lots of spy novels but not a lot where there is a female lead in the Cold War.”

Although Brubaker and Epting have a long association at Marvel, this is their first creator owned effort together. Getting together again has been a breese, as Brubaker has written the action scenes with Epting’s choreography in mind. Brubaker notes that it took a while for Epting to adapt to the Image system  and realize that “this wasn’t a huge mistake, but now he’s become even more of a workaholic.” As for Brubaker’s own career, he’s been getting more involved in screenwriting and even pitched as TV show that was much like Velvet—“they said you couldn’t do an action story with a 40-something woman as the lead”—but like many before him, he enjoys coming back to comics at night where “no one who doesn’t know anything is giving you notes.” Although he enjoys his Hollywood work, “I can’t imagine a world where I didn’t have comics coming out every month.”

In observing the growth of the creator owned market in the last year or so, Brubaker also quoted the late Kim Thompson who has once observed what comics need to be successful is more “John Grishams and John Clancys and genre stuff that isn’t superheroes. That world is starting to happen, stuff that is aimed at a mainstream readership.”

Getting back to Velvet, the story will be grounded in the real world, but still have larger than life episodes. “Some of it is about blowback and the consequences of your things. We never see what happens to the Bond girl after she gives up her country’s secrets and James Bond leaves to get on the Space Shuttle. What really happens at the island fortress?”

Here’s a preview of the first issue of Velvet:

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Marvel launches new AGENTS OF SHIELD merch line

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With Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD successfully debuting on ABC on Tuesday, Marvel is launching a line of t-shirts, posters and other tchatchkes to capitalize on its popularity. Everything but a comic book, in fact. This is a little odd, maybe, but the current Marvel management in recent years has downplayed the media tie-in comics for their own properties. The new stuff can be purchased at ABC.com Hot Topic and other tchatchke emporiums.

Following the initial ratings success of Marvel Television’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” airing on ABC, Marvel Entertainment, LLC has launched the first wave of official licensed merchandise inspired by the series co-created by Marvel’s The Avengers director Joss Whedon. To meet fan demand, Marvel has unveiled a range of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” consumer products including T-shirts, accessories, and posters which are immediately available for purchase at ABC.com, Marvel.com, Hot Topic and other specialty retailers.

“The breakout success of our new primetime ABC series further underscores the unmatched affinity that fans have for the Marvel brand,” said Paul Gitter, senior vice president, licensing, Marvel at Disney Consumer Products. “This new consumer products line will give fans a great jumping off point to enjoy the new series and to extend their passion for Agent Coulson and the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization.”

 

“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” opened a strong No. 1 in the time period with Adults 18-49 (4.6/14), defeating NBC’s Tuesday premiere of “The Voice” by 15% (4.0/12) and CBS’ season premiere of “NCIS” by 35% (3.4/10), to qualify as TV’s highest rated drama debut in nearly 4 years. It was also Tuesday’s No. 1 TV show in Adults 18-49 (tie) and across all key Men demographics (M18-34/M18-49/M25-54). 

 

The series stars Clark Gregg reprising his role as Agent Phil Coulson, Ming-Na Wen as Agent Melinda May, Brett Dalton as Agent Grant Ward, Chloe Bennet as Skye, Iain De Caestecker as Agent Leo Fitz and Elizabeth Henstridge as Agent Jemma Simmons. This dynamic, action-packed one-hour drama brings back Agent Phil Coulson to lead a team of highly skilled agents with one mission: to investigate the new, the strange and the unknown around the globe, protecting the ordinary from the extraordinary.

 

 

 

REVIEW: John Arcudi and A.C. Zamudio’s Real West

I hadn’t seen anything about this new series from Monkeybrain, but it appears to be an anthology of western cowboy stories featuring an assortment of different creators, each telling a short story at a time. With John Arcudi – whose name is probably most well known with the Mike Mignola series B.P.R.D. – writing the first issue, I decided to take a quick look at what was going down in the dust of the Wild West.

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Marvel Announce new She-Hulk Series by Charles Soule, Javier Pulido

Hold the phones everybody, there’s a new She-Hulk title just been announced. Brian Truitt, the only man I’d consider for the screen role of Awesome Andy, has the announcement at USA Today: Charles Soule and Javier Pulido will be the creative team for an ongoing series featuring Jennifer Walters.

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Three Hours of TV: Agents of SHIELD, Fangasm and The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rousey vs Team Tate

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I know you are all DYING to know what The Beat thought of the first episodes of Agents of Shield and Fangasm! Because of non-appointment TV I couldn’t watch them until Wednesday night, but then I did and I watched the new episode of THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER too, so…BONUS!

AGENTS OF SHIELD: This was a perfectly fine pilot for an action based SF TV show. It was not as good as the pilot of Burn Notice, though. As you all know, this was a “getting the gang all together” episode that showed Agent Coulson returning from the dead to recruit some field agents past and present to go around searching for super powered folks to bring them in from the cold, so to speak.

The first target was an out of work factory worker played by J. August Richards who has super strength. He’s video’d in a heroic act by a cute hacker who lives in a van, Skye (Chloe Bennet), who is soon accosted by Coulson and Co. to find “Hooded Man” and figure out what he’s up to.

Along the way we are introduced to the rest of the team which includes a tall, handsome white guy who is the top spy in the crew and will obviously figure in futre fight and love scenes; a cheeky Brit girl who likes to collect DNA swabs; a cheeky Brit fella who likes to invent gadgets; and a seen-it-all veteran (Ming Na Wen) who got too old for this shit but Coulson calls her back into duty. By the end of the episode, maybe the Shield group will have acquired a cheeky hacker girl! What do you think?

Everyone was very attractive and pert but not all that interesting this time out. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be back next week and for many weeks after because, I am, after all, a professional comics writer and a Marvel fan. I did have one big reservation on the whole premise and it may get me kicked out of nerd club but…Clark Gregg is not really a great frontman for a TV show. He’s a fine character actor but he isn’t as interesting to watch as, say, Michael Emerson on Person of Interest, or Mark Harmon or LL Cool J or any of those NCIS dudes. Or even, dare I say it, Bruce Campbell. Hopefully he’ll grow in the role.

Agents of Shield has been thrown into a brutal time slot, but I imagine ABC will give it a lot of rope. I’m not that worried about the lack of costumed superheroes because it is really hard to do them well o a TV budget, whereas doing a group of dogged crime solvers in suits is what TV does best.

BONUS:  This interview with the producers  reveals as much as Marvel’s scary NDAs wil allow.

BONUS BONUS: Jim Steranko, creator of the most beautiful Nick Fury comics ever, reviewed the episode for The Hollywood Reporter and didn’t much like it for some of the reasons I was tepid above, including lack of a charismatic star. He also bafflingly called the addition of a black character from LA “P.C.”. Whoops, there goes @iamsteranko worship.

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FANGASM: Brought to you by the makers of Jersey Shore, seven disparate nerdy individuals are thrown together into a nice house to…hang out and fumble with a gas grill. Yes it’s the geek reality show, at long long last. The cast includes three spunky nerd women, who are all cute and smart and nice, and four nerd guys who seem to fall more into stereotypes: there’s Paul who is a little chubby and lives at home; Sal, who was already on another Geek tv show (Geek Love) and is just kind of a dude from the NYC burbs who shows up at New York Comic Con to go to a GTA panel;  Mike, who likes to cosplay but also likes to hang around with cute girls; and Andrew who looks like everyone’s stereotype of a nerd with an overbite, glasses and a lanky frame. Andrew has all the best lines and comes off as quite smart and by the end of the episode he seems very likable. Actually, by the end of the episode, I thought the entire cast was really nice and smart and exactly the kind of people I end up hanging out with 13 weekends of the year.

I wanted to hate Fangasm, because I find the very idea of “nerds/geeks” being some kind of  “cultural group” like hoarders or housewives of Orange County  stupid and phony. As on all reality TV shows, all of the situations on the program are contrived and phony, but the cast members are so genuine and real that I couldn’t hate the show. When Molly talked about cosplay helping her with her self-esteem issues, it was totally real; when Andrew talked about how important Star Trek was to him, I got that. The emotions were credible even if the entire concept isn’t.

Of course, as an “insider” to “Geek world” I couldn’t help but find some of this very very UNauthentic. The set-up is that the seven have come to LA to intern for Stan Lee’s Comikaze, the LA based convention held November 1-3. While they try to make a big deal out of Comickaze, I doubt that any comic con has an office with seven cubicles for interns…but heck, it’s great PR for the con.

Much of the “drama” of Fangasm seems to revolve around the cast meeting Nerdlebrities, most of them associated with Comikaze, like George Takei in the opening episode, and later Elvira and Stan Lee and so on. (Other drama centered around someone dropping a set of keys—intense it is not. ) In the opening episode, Paul gets to have dinner with George Takei, which anyone would be excited by as he’s such a cool dude, but when Takei comes back to the cast house, Andrew, a lifelong trekker who used to watch the show with his GREAT-grandma, collapses into tears when he meets Mr. Sulu. I guess maybe I’m jaded, but nerdlebrities aren’t really that hard to meet. Yet I guess if one came to your crib you might be overwhelmed.

Anyway, I will be back for the next five episodes of this, just to watch my peeps Molly and Kristin, but also just be be a watchful watchdog over the whole nerd thing. While I’m rooting for the cast members, I’m not sure this will have the legs of Jersey Shore. The bronzed, buffed, decked out Staten Islanders of that show were really bigger than life warriors, who would stop at nothing to realize their dreams, as tawdry as those dreams might be. They were loud and had no qualms at acting  stupid to get attention. The cast of Fangasm may not have the relish for acting stupid that reality TV stardom requires.

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THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER: ROUSY VS  TATE: For the first time ever, female fighters and coaches are on The Ultimate Fighter! And they are sharing the house with male fighters! Everyone thought this would be one big hook-up, Jersey Shore style, but UFC head Dana White is too smart to take the focus off exciting fights for too long. However, what he didn’t foresee is that the two couches, women’s champ Rhonda Rousey and Miesha Tate, would genuinely dislike each other and Rousey and her team of scowling coaches with vague Eastern European accents, would decide to act out some Astoria-style fronting. “We won’t be disrespected,” Rousey repeatedly growls, looking simultaneously tough and (it must be said) adorable with her hair done in two ear-like buns on top of her head. Not that Rousey, a bronze medalist in Judo at the Beijing Olympics, isn’t a badass but…this level of posturing would seem lame from any coach. At least the brilliant Chael Sonnen made it funny last season. Rousey just comes off like an extra from Mean Girls and even Dana tells her to cool it. It’s not clear right away whether she listened, but when the guy who runs your sport says to cool it…you should cool it.

Anyway, what I’m here to tell you is that I love the women fighters on this show! They are all athletic and devoted to fighting, and can give and take a punch. They are not silly phony posers but legit fighters, and it’s very exciting to watch. It doesn’t hurt that they are, like the male fighters of the very first season of TUF, the elite who have been at it for years. (Women have been fighting in the UFC for less than a year.) Thus some of the eight fighters, like Shayna Baszler and Roxanne Modafferi, have been fighting for ten years and are pioneers that the other fighters look up to. So when they lose their shots at finally making some money at what they’ve been doing only for love, it’s kind of heartbreaking.

This episode showcases the fight between Modafferi—an English teacher who lives in Japan while competing for a decade in MMA—with Jessica Rakoczy, a former women’s boxing champ. It’s a classic wrestler vs striker matchup, but also a great contest of characters. Modafferi is a total oddball—her nerd references and admission that she was inspired to fight by Dragon Ball Z let you know that there may be a tankoubon or two back at her home—with glasses and an unconventional look. She does not look like a fighter out of the ring at all, and yet as one of the male fighters put it in an earlier episode, “Roxanne is a samurai.” At 30, this is her last chance to make it to the UFC. Rakoczy has a heartbreaking life story—a abusive step father who abused her mother and possibly killed her, and a young son at home to provide for. She’s the oldest fighter in the house at 36 and this is her last shot, too.

You really don’t want anyone to lose this fight, and at the end there are a lot of very genuine tears.

This season of the Ultimate Fighter is the lowest rated ever, not necessarily because of the women, but because it’s the first on Fox Sports 1, a brand new network most people don’t even know how to find on their cable box. It’s a real shame, because anyone who wants to see female action heroes should see these real life scrappers. I’ve been watching The Ultimate Fighter on and off since it debuted, and seeing women put into this primally male clubhouse environment and holding their own as personalities and athletes is really inspiring and fresh. It’s not clear how much resistance to women in the house there it, but the way the show is edited anyway, after one particular jerk had to leave due to injury, there’s a lot of camaraderie and mutual respect on the teams.Kinda like Shield and Fangasm.

While Rousey is the first big female star in the UFC, Tate comes off so much better here. She’s articulate, talks a great game and just seems way more balanced and level headed. Will that prevail in the ring? Hard to say.

If you haven’t watched TUF yet this year, it’s definitely worth finding Fox Sports 1 wherever it is on your cable box and checking it out.

Brian Michael Bendis Brings Trial and Judgment to the X-Men

Because if there’s anything the X-Men haven’t seen anything of, it’s trial and judgement. Yesterday saw two teasers emerge from Marvel, as we start to line up crosshairs on New York Comic-Con. With both featuring Brian Michael Bendis as the writer, and Stuart Immonen and Sara Pichelli as artists, this is going to be something to do with those X-Men folks.

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The Legends of Red Sonja Roundtable with Gail Simone, Devin Grayson and Nancy Collins

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by Laura Sneddon and Heidi MacDonald

Back in July, Dynamite announced they were expanding their already fairly awesome Gail Simone-driven Red Sonja revival with a prestige format anthology called Legends of Red Sonja.  Adding to the excitement, a stellar line-up of contributors including a bevy of fantasy authors and comics artists including Tamora Pierce, Nancy Collins, Meljean Brook, Marjorie M. Liu, Mercedes Lackey, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Leah Moore, Devin Grayson, Nicola Scott, Rhianna Pratchett and Blair Butler. On the art side it’s Carla Speed McNeil, Jim Calafiore and Phil Noto and more. The first issues launches in November and to explore a little more of the story behind the She-Devil with a Sword and all these top writers, we asked Simone, Devin Grayson and Nandy Collins to participate in a roundtable on the state of Sonja and fantasy comics. And to giev you even more here’s a preview of the first issue art.

 

THE BEAT: What was your first encounter with the character of Red Sonja and what did you think of her? 

SIMONE: When I was a kid, we lived in a remote farm in the boonies. So I would mostly find comics by accident, at garage sales and things. I had no idea they were old, they were new to me. I THINK the first I ever saw her was a Frank Thorne-drawn issue of her own book. I just thought she was cool as all hell immediately.

COLLINS: My first encounter with Red Sonja was her debut appearance in CONAN THE BARBARIAN #23, back in 1973. At the time I was excited to see a female character in comics who was able to hold her own and be treated as an equal partner in the adventure. That was still pretty rare back then. You had Red Sonja, Black Widow, Big Barda…and that was about it.

GRAYSON: I grew up with hippies, so there was a dearth of sci-fi and comic-y goodness in my early childhood. But I do remember the movie from ’85, and nursing a crush on Brigitte Nielsen.

THE BEAT: With Red Sonja being (loosely) based on a Robert E. Howard character and world, it’s interesting to look at the tension in his original work between the barbarian fantasy male-dominated societies, and his own proto-feminist viewpoints. Is that something you feel still exists in Red Sonja stories today?

COLLINS: Very much so. Although it depends on the individual writer, of course. Howard’s attitude toward women, at least in his fiction, boiled down to if a female character was brave, handy at fighting, and capable of holding her liquor, she was viewed as an equal and respected by the main character, whether it was a Conan, Kull, Solomon Kane or Bran Mak Morn story.

GRAYSON: Sure. It’s present in most female superhero stories, too, and, for that matter, in most of contemporary culture. We’re still in a (sometimes barbaric) male-dominated society (culturally and politically, if not demographically), and yet there’s a persistent yearning for accurate reflections of kickass and complex female role models. And it’s weird that we’re still in this place culturally, because I honestly think that most people, male and female, know in their heart of hearts how resilient women are and how much strength and endurance it takes to be one. So why do we still have such a hard time showing that when we’re creating art and, you know, laws?

For a character like Red Sonja, the kickass part is built in. One of the exciting aspects of participating in a project like this, with a writer like Gail, is getting to see the complex part get developed.

SIMONE: Sure, in some ways. It’s almost a battle between the writing and the art, sometimes…an issue might have a kickass story with Sonja as a motivating force of will and power, and then the cover will be her bent over with her ass out like two shiny canned hams separated by a strand of tinsel.  There’s a definite contradiction there.

I don’t mind the bikini, I don’t. There’s a sense to it, she likes freedom, she is never going to wear armor, she and Conan from that era share a similar lack of clothing. But there’s a world of difference in how it is visually portrayed, and how Sonja is shown…is she displayed like a sack of porny poses, or is she in charge and dangerous?  So much depends on the artist, and I’ve been very, very lucky in that regard with Walter Geovani and all the fabulous female cover artists we have had.

This is why it’s fun for me to bring these female artists and writers in…these women bring SO much kickass firepower of their own, and I think they bring out the best in Sonja, they are making people look at her differently. I love that.
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THE BEAT: What is the most fun part of writing the character? “Sword and sorcery” has a lot of clichés—are these limiting or fun to play with? 

GRAYSON: I haven’t gotten to play with Sword and Sorcery much in my comic book work and having this opportunity now has been a blast. There’s a magical quality, of course, to a lot of what superheroes can do, but it’s usually not raw magic, which in Robert E. Howard’s work is a wonderfully dark and dangerous force. There are clichés or tropes readily available in any genre you care to dabble in—I love being able to put my own spin on them, or finding unique ways to circumvent them.

Most of my exposure to Sword and Sorcery comes from my RP gaming. When Gail first contacted me about this project and I started to think about what kind of story I could tell, I realized I had literally over twenty years of D&D campaigns to draw from, in addition to my familiarity with Robert E. Howard’s world. In fact, I have this level 20 paladin I’ve been playing for fifteen years who—hey, where are you going…?

SIMONE: Nothing in comics right now has more cliches in it than the superhero genre, and yet lots of writers are still finding interesting things to say with capes. I think the Sword and Sorcery genre has been under-utilized in comparison. It’s fun to see what, say, someone like Brian Wood is doing with Conan. There’s a lot of room for fresh takes. And again, that’s what’s fun about bringing in not one or two, but ELEVEN new Sonja writers in this anthology.

COLLINS: I enjoyed simply portraying her as a roguish adventurer who just happens to be a woman. The story I wrote could just as easily have featured Conan. And as for sword & sorcery’s clichés—they’re no more plentiful than those in super hero comics. If you’re aware of the genre’s history and tropes, you can have fun with them without turning your story into a rote formula or one long inside joke.

THE BEAT: Fantasy as a whole is one of those genres that is generally assumed to be by men for men, yet there are thousands of women who are fans of everything fantasy, from Game of Thrones to Lord of the Rings to Supernatural. Legends of Red Sonja really demonstrates that women in fantasy are alive and well! With that in mind, do you think we’ll start to see less cheesecake and more diversity in characters? (Cheesecake is great, just not as an entire diet!)

SIMONE: I know there’re are people who think this, but…I mean, look at our line-up! We have freaking Tamora Pierce and Mercedes Lackey, and these women have their own whole SHELVES in bookstores. They are masters of fantasy with huge fanbases.

Fantasy is no more just-for-dudes than cape fiction is, it’s just a matter of making fantasy that doesn’t put a sign up saying, “NO GURLS ALLOWED.”

I think most people know I have a fairly high tolerance for cheesecake IF it’s balanced, if the sexiness isn’t purely for a stereotypical male gaze, if it’s done well, if there’s eye candy for other people as well, and if there’s some logic to it. I think having the characters be a little bit bawdy and lusty is great, it fits in the genre beautifully.

COLLINS: Female authors such as Leigh Brackett, C.L. Moore, Ursula K. LeGuin, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Tanith Lee have been creating fantasy literature for generations, so it is about time that female writers started making similar inroads re fantasy in comics. And I think having Red Sonja written by a woman will result in more depth to her character, as well as those of the supporting cast. That’s not to say that there won’t be cheesecake—that chain mail lingerie of hers is trademarked, after all—but maybe the servings will be a bit more realistic.

GRAYSON: I know I grew up a tomboy, but I honestly didn’t realize that fantasy was considered a male bastion. Sci-fi and Superhero, yes, those seemed clearly, sometimes aggressively, non-inclusive, but by the time I was aware of the fantasy genre, I would have sworn it was dominated by people like our very own Mercedes Lackey and Tamora Pierce. My female friends were as equally if not more into fantasy than my male friends.

As a bisexual (not to mention a T1 diabetic), I’m probably a little more into cheesecake than I should be, but yeah, I’m optimistic that we will see more diversity in fantasy characters going forward. Between the mainstream success of GoT and the kind of imaginative minds that fantasy seems to attract, there’s a great foundation for continued growth and development in the genre.

THE BEAT: As much as we want to fight the “women in comics” corner, it can get really tiring and frustrating being known as much for your gender as for your work. Do you feel that’s a danger in “all women” books, or do you think that given the number of all men books (they’re rarely called that mind) it’s worth bringing the sisterhood together to roar?

COLLINS: I think, in the past, that was definitely true, not just in comics but in the science fiction, fantasy, horror & mystery genres as well. But over the last few years there seems to have been a sea change re the consumers of genre fiction, and comics in particular. There are more self-identified female readers of comics now since the Second World War. As that demographic continues to grow, hopefully things like LEGENDS OF RED SONJA will no longer be viewed as a novelty.

GRAYSON: I have struggled with this issue throughout my entire career, and I know that I’ve grown and changed a lot, but I honestly feel like the nature of “all women” projects has started to change, too.  The kind of “all women” stuff I was being asked to do in the nineties was mostly publicity stunt tokenism conceived of and produced entirely by men. Like, do you remember all of those women in comics panels? I must have done one at every single con I attended, and the thing was, they made no sense. Highlighting the work women do in the industry can be great—and was very inspiring for some of the younger females in the audience, which was probably their most significant legacy—but assembling a motley group of writers and artists from multiple eras and genres…there was just nothing that bound us together except for our gender, which meant that that’s kind of all the conversation could be about, too. We couldn’t discuss our work in any meaningful way except to try to plug our own and each other’s projects.

But in the last few years—starting, I think, with Womanthology and then continuing in projects like the huge Gender in Comics MOOC taught by Christina Blanch and this project masterminded and executed by Gail—there seems to have been a very positive shift toward women becoming the driving creative forces behind these ventures, which has made them feel very different to participate in and which seems to be creating material more genuinely helpful to the tons of extremely talented females who work or aspire to work in this industry.

SIMONE: I have fought with this stuff a lot. I got sick of “Women In Comics” panels, but every con, I hear from young women who went to one somewhere and became inspired, or motivated, by some woman on the panel who had actually accomplished what they were hoping to do themselves.

If there’s still a need for them, I don’t mind doing them.

When we relaunched Red Sonja, my idea wasn’t to do some token bullshit with only females doing the covers and variants, it was, “This is a female character, and no one has ever done this, let’s pick our favorite female artists, the ones we adore, and let THEM interpret this iconic female character.”  It was designed as a celebration, and that is how it turned out.

You can’t look at the covers by Becky Cloonan, Amanda Conner, and Colleen Doran and call that tokenism, or ghetto-ization. It’s an event, it’s pure magic.

We wanted to see if we could do the same thing with female writers. And they turned in scripts every bit as great as we had hoped, I mean, one after another, just bang bang bang, great little Red Sonja tales. Nancy and Devin, in issue one, turned in two of my favorites in the series.

It feels a bit weird to me, it’s like, no one blinks if this had been done with all male writers. For forty years, almost without exception, the book has had male writers. But bring in some women and suddenly it’s tokenism? Forty years of dudes, somehow that’s not tokenism.

I think that’s kind of ridiculous.

THE BEAT:  Frank Thorne or Barry Windsor Smith

COLLINS: I have to dance with the guy who brought me to the party: Barry Windsor Smith.

SIMONE: Love them both, Frank Thorne is the man when it comes to Sonja!

GRAYSON: Veronica! No, wait, I mean…wow, that’s a hard one. I guess I’ll go with Frank Thorne, but it’s thisclose.

 

 

 

 

 

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Tonight! Have Sex Criminals #1 with Fraction and Zdarsky!

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Tonight the Beguiling, Toronto’s premiere comic shop, presents the release of SEX CRIMINALS #1 with creators Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky. This will not be a comic book signing, but a full on nightclub satyricon:

With host Sasha and special guests Ego Assassin.

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013.
@ Wicked Nightclub, 1032 Queen St. W., 2nd & 3rd floor
Doors @ 7PM. Presentations begin at 8PM.
$5 Cover, includes a copy of Sex Criminals #1
Strictly 19+. Private event.

You will not want to miss the event. Anything could happen. Zdarsky tells us the lest time he was at a sex club Scott Speedman stopped by to ogle Zdarsky in a hot tub.

SEX CRIMINALS is a crime caper comedy about two people who discover they have the same sex-based powers and use them to….well, you’ll find out by the end of the first issue. It definitely has some sexy times in it, but for once in an insightful way and not an exploitative way. And I can’t believe I wrote this whole blurb without making a pun.
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The Powerpuff Girls are back today! And here are all the retail variant covers

Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup are back! The proto riot-grrls of Saturday morning were created by Craig McCracken for the Cartoon Network back in 1998, and created an immediate sensation. While the show hasn’t been on the air in a while, IDW is bringing them back in a new comic written and drawn by Troy Little which goes on sale today.

I have a soft spot for the Powerpuffs because I edited their original comic book adventures for DC back in the day and came to appreciate McCracken’s formidable eye for both story and art. To celebrate their return, here’s a preview of the new issue AND a gallery of the retailer variant covers via editor Chris Ryall.

 

Fox announces GOTHAM TV drama to focus on young Jim Gordon and villains

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Just as Disney/Marvel was launching its first foray into primetime TV with the debut of AGENTS OF SHIELD, Warner Bros—already a seasoned vet of “the tube” with Smallville and Arrow—one upped them a bit by announcing the oft rumoredGOTHAM, a show focusing on James Gordon, pre Batman. The show will be run by Sam Heller, creator of The Mentalist and it will air on Fox, which has already ordered a series.

It explores the origin stories of Commissioner James Gordon and the villains who made Gotham City famous. In Gotham, Gordon is still a detective with the Gotham City Police Department and has yet to meet Batman, who will not be part of the series. The Gordon character was introduced in 1939 in the very first Batman comic. {snip}

While Superman spawned the long-running series Smallville, this is the first series featuring a character from the world of Batman in a very long time as WBTV had been exploring a Gotham City-set show for more than a year. It is the second high-profile WBTV/DC drama in the works for next season, along with Flash at the CW. In addition to Gotham, WME-repped Heller has the Mars drama Red at the CW. Gotham joins CBS’ sci-fi drama Extant as the two hottest drama projects this season, both sparking bidding wars and landing a series commitment and series order, respectively.


The show was reportedly the basis of a bidding war, and the fact it ended up on Fox as opposed to the CW is significant. As is the fact it went to series wihout the need for a pilot. Because, let’s face it, the idea of a young detective running around a dark city fighting outre villains is about the easiest idea a TV show has ever had to do.

And there is ample comics fodder for the show from the excellent Ed Brubaker/Greg Rucka/Michael Lark Gotham Central series which was rumored to be in TV development all the way back in 2003.

AGENTS OF SHIELD has strong ratings debut

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While we’ll have to catch up on both of last night’s nerd shows later tonight, in between watching THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER. a bunch of people did tune in to watch the debut of AGENTS OF SHIELD, despite it going up against the current ratings juggernauts of NCIS and THE VOICE. SHIELD drew 11.9 million viewers for a 4.6 rating (“NCIS” drew a “whopping” 19.5 million and THE VOICE 12.7 million.) The demos were promising however.

“SHIELD,” starring Clark Gregg as the agent character he played in the 2012 film “Marvel’s The Avengers,” tied with “The Voice” as Tuesday’s No. 1 series in the adults 18-49 demo (4.6 rating). Head-to-head, “SHIELD” beat “Voice” in the demo, 4.6/14 to 4.0/12. The 4.6 rating makes “SHIELD” the top drama premiere on any network since ABC’s “V” in November 2009 — and the best for any 8 p.m. drama since “Lost” in 2004. ABC was able to bring men to the network, with roughly 58% of the 18-49 audience for “SHIELD” coming from guys. Compare this to lat season’s averages for its returning dramas: “Grey’s Anatomy” (24%), “Scandal” (26%), “Revenge” (30%), “Once Upon a Time” (33%) and “Castle” (36%).


All in all, this seems to have been a strong start for the show, although WB sneakily stole its thunder a bit by announcing their OWN movie spin-off program—GOTHAM. But see the next post for that.

Tucker Stone Joins Nobrow as Sales and Marketing Director

Quietly revealed only a few hours ago, it appears that Tucker Stone – comic critic and blogger, most notably for The Comics Journal – has accepted a position with Nobrow Comics as their new US Sales and Marketing Director.

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Reviewed! Every Issue of Villains Month, Week Four

Week four wraps up the review copies, with another slightly-uninspiring collection of comics. The first two weeks definitely felt a little stronger, or perhaps that’s just a side-effect from me reading fifty-odd issues of murder and horror in a row. It’s a little desensitising!

There’s more set-up for the Arkham War crossover this week, as well as some new creators debuting DC work for the first time. There’s also a whole lot of murdering going on. Villains Month officially ends this week – but check back next week for reviews of all the straggling issues, as well as an little overview of how the month has gone as a whole.

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The Shortlist for The British Comic Awards 2013 Has Been Announced

The shortlist for the 2013 British Comic Awards ceremony has been announced, a list compiled by a number of critics, retailers and readers – among them ‘our own’ Zainab Akhtar. Focusing on British comics, obviously, the shortlist collects together a number of self-published and small-press comics. The winners will be announced at Thought Bubble in November, chosen by a judging panel made up of people like Sarah McIntyre, Lenny Henry, Josie Long and Graham Linehan. [Read more…]