Valiant Tease Rai Series for 2014

Valiant continued their history of sneaking announcements into their actual comics, today, for readers to find before anybody else does – with a teaser in the back of Unity #1 suggesting that the company may soon be publishing a Rai series.

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Valiant Launch Digital-First Comic ‘8-Bit Adventure’

Valiant have moved into guided-view digital-first comics this week, with the launch of Valiant 8-Bit Adventure. A series continuing on from the previous 8-bit covers/tie-in video game the company ran earlier this year, the first issue ties in to their new series Unity.

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Interview: Tod Emko Talks A Piggy’s Tale and the Real Life Super Piggy

I’ve spoken before about A Piggy’s Tale, a very loveable animal adventure comic that is currently in the last week of its Kickstarter campaign, written by Tod Emko and illustrated by Ethan Young. I loved it so much that I wanted to chat to Emko himself, a known conservationist featured on the popular TV show Whale Wars, and remind people to go and check out the comic.

A Piggy's Tale [Read more…]

Take the Devastator’s anonymous convention economy survey

With the circuit for both cons—traditional comic-cons—and CAFs—more indie styled comic arts festivals like TCAF and CAB—proliferating and becoming an increasingly important part of the comics economy, indie humor magazine The Devastator has taken it upon itself to attempt to create an infographic on how big a part of the economy these shows really are. And they’ve created a completely anonymous survey just for that purpose—they especially need East Coast participants:

We’re doing something to help the indie comix community navigate the convention circuit with basic economic knowledge. We keep hearing from the PR departments of conventions about how their show warranted the fire marshall, etc., but what does that mean for exhibitors? 

You know how everyone’s recaps on a show are very… vague? And how everyone’s expectations and standards for success are… different? We’re trying to make an infographic that will open up the small press and indie creator community. We need a sampling of at least 50 creators in order to make our first infographic. 

We want to answer these questions for everyone:
1. On average, what kind of gross sales did comic show exhibitors make at shows in 2013? 
2. Which shows are the best value? (Table Cost vs. Average Gross Sales)
3. Which shows did people make more at this year? Which ones did they make less at?

Again, it’s all anonymous and the results sound very valuable, so consider giving this a whirl.


Review: Injustice: Gods Among Us is a real page turner

INJUST_v1-Cv_ubt1odpo0t_Injustice: Gods Among Us is something of an anomaly in the world of super hero comics. It’s a breakout hit for original digital work, lording over the sales rankings on several sites and platforms. If you look at the October sales estimates, you’ll find it sitting just below 25K and outselling titles like Green Arrow, Supergirl and World’s Finest. All this from a comic based on a video game that, at first glance, looks like someone riffing on Kingdom Come.

Well, I’m here to tell you… yeah, they kinda are riffing on Kingdom Come (and Alan Moore’s old “Twilight of the Superheroes” proposal that has influenced so many things behind the scenes), but Injustice finds it’s own legs relatively quickly and it’s pretty good. How good? Good enough that I stayed up an hour later than I intended to finish reading it. It’s a real page turner.

The opening pages are the set-up from the video game and probably the weakest of the book. The general premise is that the Joker is responsible for Lois Lane’s death, Superman then goes a little bonkers and decides to impose order on the world with Batman leading the resistance. That’s all done well enough, but the set-up is not exactly bringing something new and novel into the world. Once the set-up is in place, that’s where the treasure is mined.

Author Tom Taylor spent some time thinking about format before embarking on this writing journey. He’s structuring for three things: a weekly chapter (call it 10 pages), the monthly print collection and the overall novel. Each chapter will move the story forward and the monthly issues, which is how the HC is divided, are discrete units telling a longer story.

These weekly chapters allow Taylor to explore characters and shows, inch by inch, how a bad situation slowly and steadily spirals out of control. A grieving Superman trying to do the right thing. Wonder Woman trying to make him a better man (from more of a military order perspective). Aquaman looking after his Kingdom. Batman trying to diffuse a situation he can scarcely believe is happening and finding himself an uneasy government ally.

Perhaps the best character bits in the first volume belong to Green Arrow and Harley Quinn, who strike up an odd relationship as Ollie first apprehends her and then tries to keep her from getting killed and Harley… well, she’s being Harley and the flirty-but-nuts persona is done particularly well.

Whereas there’s still a trend towards decompressed storytelling, Injustice is a counter-point to that approach. A rapid paced chapters as short stories approach taking advantage of the format and schedule to lay a firm story infrastructure and tag off serving the character development needs of a large cast.

Art-wise, I found the book to be functional but a little towards the “house-style” end of the spectrum. Then again, this is a weekly comic with 8 artists listed (Jheremy Raapack and Mike S. Miller being in the largest font) and 4 colorists listed. Keeping a consistent look with that many creators involved is not an easy task. The storytelling is there and the art styles are close enough not to cause distraction when creators tag off.

All in all, this is a very entertaining and well done book. Not at all a case of “let’s crank something out for the video game,” but an actual story, thought out and deliberately told. Well worth your time to check out.

INTERVIEW: Justin Aclin and Nicolás Selma S.H.O.O.T. First

Although published by Dark Horse, S.H.O.O.T. First isn’t a biography of Greedo from Star Wars. In fact, this miniseries from Justin Aclin and Nicolás Selma is an action-adventure, in which a team of atheists track down and shoot up a succession of horrific monsters from around the globe. Why are the team all atheist, you ask? Well, because the monsters they fight are powered by religious faith, and have taken on the form of angels, jinns and golems to milk that for all it’s worth.

A pretty interesting take on the traditional humans vs monsters story, and I spoke to both Aclin and Selma about the series, where it came from, and where they’re planning to take it.

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On The Scene: The Highs and Lows of CAB Programming

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Marking one of the last comics festivals of the year, Comic Arts Brooklyn dashed through Brooklyn, beginning with an array of exhibitions and animation screenings, and culminating in the day long celebration of today’s current indie comics as well as those of generations past. Mirroring the now defunct BCGF, this years CAB remained on trend with the bustling crowds of attendees at both Mt. Carmel Church and The Knitting Factory, further attesting to the undeniable growing robustness of these comic events. This year’s programming was limited to three presentations, and although each were insightfully well curated in trying to capture the same spirit of BCGF, they lacked the gusto and articulated assay of graphic narrative that was so captivating in last year’s panels. CAB seemed more representative of American comics and creators alike, whereas 2012’s BCGF was a noticeable blend of New York-based figures and international artists, both young and old. This isn’t to say that this was a weak point for CAB, yet after I let the initial feel-good post-con high subside, I couldn’t help but feel like the show didn’t hold up in terms of the erudite impact that similar indie festivals like TCAF and SPX have nurtured in the past year. Granted, as much as I try to liken CAB to its predecessor, what I keep reminding myself is that the show is an entirely new manifestation, harkening more to the curatorial mindset of its organizer, Gabe Fowler, and his incredible shop Desert Island—and thusly CAB characterizes a festival richly rooted in the New York (perhaps more specifically Brooklyn) comics community.

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Miyazaki working on a samurai manga, post retirement

2012 11 06 VIZ Media Releases Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Deluxe Manga Box Set Hardcover Volume IRevered animator Hayao Miayazaki announced his retirement from moviemaking a few months ago; his final (we think) film The Wind Rises has just opened in Japan and will come to America in February. So what’s a sensei to do with his free time? According to one colleague he’s going to draw samurai manga. Studio Ghibli’s Toshio Suzuki told a TV show that “I think he will serialize a manga. From the beginning, he likes drawing about his favorite things. That’s his stress relief.”

“That’s what he is drawing now. He’ll get angry if I talk too much,” Suzuki added.

Miyazaki is hardly a stranger to manga, having drawn Nausicaa of the Valley Wind previously. The whole series was presented in a nice box set by Viz last year

If this is true, and we ever get to see it, it would be pretty damned cool, needless to say.

Gabrielle Bell’s motion comics


And speaking of Gabrielle Bell…didn’t see that one coming, did you? Tony Groutsis has been animating some of Gabrielle Bell’s travel comics with the results you see below.

To do tonight: Brooklyn Comes to Morningside Heights

It’s been a busy, busy few weeks of comics events in the NYC area, and here’s one more: the final event for the year in Columbia’s graphic novel program.

Marvel Netflix gets two writers: Goddard on Daredevil and Rosenberg on Jessica Jones

marvelnetflix.jpgWell, that did not take long! Even as excitement and speculation mount over the astonishing deal for four original Netflix series based on Marvel characters, we already have two show runners in place. Long-time Joss Whedon/JJ Abrams associate Drew Goddard will write Daredevil and Twilight/Dexter/Red Widow alum Melissa Rosenberg will write Jessica Jones.
Goddard directed Cabin in the Woods, wrote the World War Z adaptation and had a hand in Alias and Lost. He is a veteran, as they say. And he knows Daredevil:

Goddard is a self-professed “Daredevil” buff whose interest in the character is well known. “You’re talking to a guy who had quotes from Daredevil painted on his wall while growing up,” Goddard told Collider earlier this year. “Even when I was 18, I still had the blood red door with the, ‘I have shown him that a man without hope is a man without fear.’ That was what I loved and so it’s the sort of thing that if we can find the right project, I would love to do it.

Rosenberg’s connection to Jones goes back a ways—she was the original writer on the aborted ABC version of the show from three years ago. According to Deadline, the concept will undergo some fine tuning but Jones will still be a private eye.

Writers for Luke Cage and Iron Fist can’t be far behind. Toot toot!

Spotlight Cartoonist: Connie Sun “Happily Single Week”

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It’s official: WonderCon is back in Anaheim for 2014

After two successful years in Anaheim, WonderCon is staying there for the third year in a row, as revealed on the show’s official page. The 2014 show will be held April 18, 19, and 20, which is Easter. The show drew over 56,000 attendees last time, and seems to be growing.

It isn’t quite clear why WonderCon isn’t returning to the Bay Area, it’s home of 26 years, but officials at the Moscone Center have thus far shown no signs of wanting the show back, which makes them, as far as we can tell, big poopy pants, because comic-cons are big business everywhere else.

Exhibitor applications are available now; badge information, guess, hotels and the rest will be coming soonish.

With hotels, badges and booths much easier to get to than the Big Show in San Diego, and yet a still stellar entertainment line-up, and of course, fabulous comics guests, WonderCon is becoming an increasingly popular relaxing alternative to Comic-Con madness. We keep hearing rumors of a revamped show for northern California but nothing solid. We’ll let you know when we hear.

Hang out with Stan Lee this afternoon

Do you want to hang out with Stan Lee?

Online that is.

Apparently at 3:30 PST this afternoon Stan will be “hanging out” at 1337LoungeLive, a “livestreaming geek, comic, and gaming hangout site.” How this will be accomplished is shown in the informational video below.

Is Stan Lee the only 92-year-old man that people still want to hang out with? At least online there is no danger of smelling the Stan Lee cologne.