The Beat’s Annual Survey 2015 edition Part Three: with added sneak peaks at Sfar and Blutch!

Yep it’s part three of our annual look at the year coming and going. My trip to Angouleme in 2014 enabled me to add more international participants to the survey, so look for some perspective  the global comics business and even a wee Joann Sfar preview in the answers below. Part One and Part Two of the survey can be found here.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 2.38.17 PMDean Haspiel, cartoonist

2015 Projects: The Fox, Billy Dogma

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? Print Is Dead? Long Live Too Much Information.

I remember back when comic books spoke for themselves and recommended each other. Nowadays? Nowadays we know WAY too much about our process and each other and less about the comix. TMI fosters empty hype and unnecessary scandal that kills the magic of creativity. Sure there will always be industry problems that need to be addressed and changed but it seems like the majority of the people I talk to know more ABOUT comix than actually buy and indulge them. We might as well be debating the pros and cons of astronaut diapers. And, how many more armchair philosophers are going to sprout like moss and negatively attack any given comix topic? When did our hard work get boiled down to a sensational headline scribbled by Tom, Dick and Jane? Sure, it’s nice that our friends and family basically replaced the Roger Ebert’s of the world but I miss Roger Ebert. I count on my progenitors of cool to keep it considered and qualified. Otherwise, we’re only advertising to each other and hardly anyone is buying.

I’m as guilty as the next clown of teasing my action while sharing others in some kind of desperate survival instinct to sincerely spark a kernel of honest interest via social networking. I hate that I have to trend well in order to be let into the party when I’m just trying to show up to my own party. It makes my projects seem less a priority and it’s becoming a futile exercise competing with his lunchtime pix, her subway ride rant, and the pop culture gossip that seems to trump anything significant. At the end of the day, I’m producing less artistic content just so I can appear to stay relevant to a mass attention-deficit disorder populace that can’t focus for more than 30-seconds.ThankYou

It’s becoming evident that movies and TV have picked up where mainstream superhero comics left off. Eventually, franchise publishers are going to wholly abandon print for digital. Fine. I get it. So, let’s rally the troops and take advantage of the handful of brick and mortar stores that are still standing tall and line the shelves with comix that mean something more than just perpetuating revamped dinosaurs. Do yourself a favor the next time you pick up your next haul of comfort comix, try something new and independent and think about what it took to get that into your hands. I make comix because I have to. Not because they’re cool.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? Franchise comic book characters will be wholly redefined by their movie and television counterparts and the comic book (proper) will be redefined by creator-owned comics.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? Adding jelly to my peanut butter sandwich.


Jen Vaughn, gal friday of comics

2015 Project: Cartozia Tales in my free time (ha!)

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez (Love and Rockets) winning Eisners FINALLY!

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? Women taking over ascending the ranks comics company (and the trickle-down) and maybe seeing if DC’s line of comics changes at all due to moving coasts.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? Bitch Planet/Lumberjanes crossover. We can make that happen just by saying it, right?

tumblr_n5ubhdWI8n1qj4wh3o1_1280Jude Killory, cartoonist

2015 Projects: BEK -9th Art Ink.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? The Kirby family settling with Marvel/Disney.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? Probably some horrible sexual harassment controversy, but it will more than likely be the complete overtaking of Hollywood by all the superhero content that is coming out.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? Not guilty but I like that the Billy Ireland Museum and Tom Spurgeon are working together.



ryan_sandsRyan Sands, publisher Youth in Decline

2015 Projects: Thickness collection for TCAF 2015, and another year of Frontier issues featuring Jillian Tamaki, Anna Deflorian, Becca Tobin, and Michael DeForge

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? Cartoonists moving to LA for animation

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? For indie comics: the year of the subscriber and patron model’s full embrace.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? Taking the summer off from endless comics shows.


croppedwide061613Stuart Moore, writer, editor
2015 Projects: EGOs: Comic book series from Image Comics, with artist Gus Storms. Resumes in February 2015 with issue #5, which begins a new storyline: CRUNCHED.

EGOs_v1_05_cov.00001smallTHE ZODIAC LEGACY: A new series of illustrated middle-reader novels from Disney Publishing Worldwide. Created & cowritten by Stan Lee, heavily illustrated by Andie Tong.zodiac1cover

CONVERGENCE: SUPERBOY AND THE LEGION OF SUPERHEROES. Two issues from DC, April/May 2015, featuring my favorite comics team.
What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? I’d have to say the sheer number of comics-derived TV series, mostly from DC, that made it onto the air.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? My guess: There won’t be one big story, but a continued push into the public consciousness by comics creators and characters. The other day I linked to a story about the casting of Krysten Ritter as Bendis’s P.I. character Jessica Jones, and the thumbnail that popped up was a photo of John Constantine! That’s two characters I myself have worked on, and neither one is a super hero. This a phenomenal time for comics.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? New issues of DELL LOGIC LOVER’S LOGIC PROBLEMS. A man’s got to keep his mind sharp.


angouleme editor  SCARCE Magazine, Ernie Colon Unimited and the Chest of Chests blog,

2015 Projects: an annual american version of SCARCE composed only of in-depth interviews, an exhibit on Ernie Colon in France.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? The purchase of the Gold Key super-heroes characters from Dynamite. It seemed that, after Dark Horse, they failed too (all of the series will end with issue 12? For something coming out from Dynamite (usually more focused on covers than interior story and art), the product wasn’t bad. Who’s next?

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? In my cristal ball, I see more and more good stuff coming from Archie Comics. I’m really eager to see what they will do with their new Dark Circle superhero line.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? Jem and the Holograms drawn by Ross campbell from IDW.


Shannon Wheeler

2015 Projects: Apocypha Now: a sequel to the bible

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? DC Comics moving to LA. It’s the end of an era.

Amazon buying ComiXology. It shows a serious shift of taking digital comics seriously.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? DC Comics actually moving to LA.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? IDW doing Garbage Pail Kids. I love the card series. Nice to see a relaunch. I’m super stoked to be a part of it.

Lora-Fountain-211x300Lora Fountain, Managing Director, AGENCE LITTERAIRE LORA FOUNTAIN & ASSOCIATES, Paris

2015 Projects:  JHERONIMUS, a graphic novel about Bosch by Dutch artist Marcel Ruijters which is being prepared to come out for 500th anniversary of Bosch’s death in 2016. And, JERUSALEM, a massive novel (not graphic, but print) by Alan Moore to be published in the UK by Knockabout and for which I am currently selling world rights

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? For me, it was THIS ONE SUMMER by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki. Not only has this lovely coming of age story been sold in many different translations, but it has also been picking up prizes right left and centre, including the very prestigious Governor General’s prize for illustration in Canada, and is on a bunch of “best books of 2014” lists. (Yes, I worked on selling translation rights, but that was my only involvement.)

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? THE SCULPTOR by Scott McCloud, which will be published in February by First Second and by a bunch of international publishers throughout the year.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? 
Simply being able to sit here reading and not feel at all guilty because I’m still working! (It is made even better if there’s a box of chocolate and a glass of nice wine on the side, of course.)


AF-headshotAndrew Farago,, writer, curator

2015 Projects: Author of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History (2014), working on a couple of animation books and comic books that will be announced soon.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? Shaenon Garrity and I had a baby, which for us was the biggest story and also explains why I have no idea what else happened this year.  It seems like every major publisher had at least one really huge book, though, so good for them.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? Star Wars looks like the one to beat for 2015, with the million-selling comic book from Marvel and the first movie with the original cast in thirty-something years.  I’m hoping that will serve as a nice reminder to the general public that people are still making comic books, and that comic shops, other publishers, and cartoonists in general will benefit from that.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? Seeing a movie in a theater, or maybe sleeping in until 9am.  Maybe going to a bar.


John Patrick Green

2015 Projects: Teen Boat 2: The Race for Boatlantis (with writer Dave Roman, comes out Fall 2015 from Clarion Books) and Hippopotamister, my first young readers graphic novel as both writer and artist, coming out Spring 2016 from First Second Books.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? I’m sure there were probably more exciting stories, but the Milo Manara Spider-Woman variant cover certainly seemed to take over the comics blogosphere for quite some time.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? Most likely another controversial image or storyline. But Avengers 2 will probably be a big deal, and Star Wars will likely have a big impact on the pop-culture scene, even if that’s still a full year off.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? I’d be lying if I didn’t say Star Wars. But Avengers: Age of Ultron comes out well before it, so I’ll go with that.


Thomas Ragon, editor Dargaud

2015 Projects:STRIP_CHAT-RABBIN-06[1]

  • “The Rabbi’s Cat” by Joann Sfar, the first new book in the series since 2006, which just goes to show that Joann realized how much he loves his characters.
  • GGOULDp10-11
  • “Glenn Gould, une vie à contretemps” by Sandrine Revel. It narrates the life of a true genius, and toys with ways of representing ‘music’ through comics storytelling.
  • BlutchSketchbook
  • Blutch’s next book.
  • EtéDiabolik12-13
  • The next Thierry Smolderen & Alexandre Clérisse book, l’Eté Diabolik
  • Two projects with US artists.

RAGON_THOMAS-2006What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? • First of all, French authors uniting and going public about the economical and social issues they encounter. It’s a mess, and there’s a lot of confusion on all sides (and it’s not only a artist/publisher thing). It’s about time certain issues were finally addressed.

  • The various studies showing that comic book stores here are not doing so badly. In fact, most of them are even in good shape.
  • Globalization (or, to avoid such a connoted word: increased international exchange) of comics going from strength to strength. We’re now selling books to Japan and lots of other new countries. More and more American artists and publishers seem to be taking an interest what we Europeans are doing.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? Bill Watterson coming back to comics ?

The fact that there is no real market for digital comics in France?

An English-speaking writer having a hit on the French market with a local publisher ? Let’s talk, we’re cool…

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? A guilty pleasure…staying naive and carefree. Sadly this is already a lost cause, so let’s say spending more time in Italy. That’s my true guilty pleasure.


Todd Klein

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? I can only report on the biggest news to me, which is the success of the oversized “artist edition” hardcovers reprinting comics art at original size, spearheaded by Scott Dunbier at IDW, and now being imitated by many other publishers. It didn’t start this year, but it seems to have grown tremendously and been welcomed by more general comics fans in the past 12 months.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? I have no idea, but it will be interesting to see what changes result from the final DC Comics staff moving out of New York, and all their comics being produced from Los Angeles.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? I’m still kind of enjoying “Comic Book Men,” Kevin Smith’s TV series, though it gets farther from reality every year.


Matthew PetzPETZ - WOTW-FB_PROFILE-2015
2015 Projects: Newest season of  War of the Woods. It starts off with a 20 page spread of one continuous battle. It’s insane.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? I think it continues to be the resurgence and creative domination of creator owned comics. From Action Lab to Z2, the most interesting and inspiring stuff is happening within that space.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? It’s hard to tell, I hope the mobile and digital comics world continues to expand and improve itself. I hope it’s not “Another universe shattering reboot that changes everything forever!!!”

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? I don’t know if it’s a guilty pleasure—but I literally dream about the new Star Wars movie. I need to see it now.


Ward Sutton, cartoonist
2015 Projects: As always, freelance – please follow on Tumblr, Twitter or Facebook!

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? I think the biggest story was about gender conflicts within the comics realm – from controversies surrounding creators as well as depictions of women in comics (i.e. Milo Manara Spiderwoman).

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? I think there will be a fatigue with regard to the unending stream of overblown superhero movies.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? The JJ Abrams Star Wars movie.


IFChristian Beranek, writer
2015 Projects: Continually writing my webcomic Validation featuring art by Kelci Crawford and co-writing comics with Tony DiGerolamo over at The Webcomic Factory 
Also have some graphic novel and series proposals in development and selective work for hire assignments.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? Conventions are now a massive business all over the country and not everyone is adjusting/adapting to the changes in demographics very well. Comic creators are sadly no longer the main draw at these events and we’re all going to have to figure out how to deal with it and succeed in this brave new world.ValidationCover

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? Comics that truly cater to women and LGBT readers.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? Furious 7. I celebrate the entire Fast & Furious franchise.


Simon Fraser, cartoonistsimon_fraser
2015 Projects: Dr Who for Titan

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? TV shows based on comics are now a thing. I imagine that we’re going to get more and more of this.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? The Flash TV show.

Interview: Stuart Moore and Gus Storms Reclaim EGOs

After a lengthy hiatus, the creative team behind Image Comics’ EGOs is back in action and ready to serve up more interplanetary crime drama with their upcoming fifth issue. Writer Stuart Moore and artist Gus Storms were kind enough to take some time to chat with the Beat about their series, in addition to humoring some ill-fated Beyoncé puns.


Comics Beat: So let’s start with the basics. Give us the gist of what’s going on in EGOs for new readers.

Stuart Moore: EGOs is basically about a superhero team in the far future, but what’s it’s really about is a marriage between two of the founding members. They’ve been together a long time, and they’ve had a lot of ups and downs, and it’s kind of a show business marriage because they’re both stars in a way. Deuce, the leader, is a former pretty boy who now uses a thing called an “imager” to make his face look younger than it is whenever he’s on camera. Pixel was very young when she joined the team, and she’s become her own brand and has sponsors and products and stuff like that. So they both basically have their own lives. In the course of the first storyline which is collected in the first trade, Quintessence, Deuce decides to re-form the team. Mostly because of a huge threat to galactic peace, but also because he wants to be relevant again and he kind of feels Pixel slipping away from him, and thinks this could be a way to bring them together again.

CB: And what will be going on in the forthcoming issues?

SM: So having set all that up, in this arc we’re setting up a big galactic conspiracy – a sort of invisible threat to the entire galactic economy. And in the course of investigating that, what happens is we meet a lot of new characters, and it becomes a bit of a mystery. Some combination of these characters are behind this gigantic plot, and it’s up to the two EGOs teams on two different planets to unravel and solve this mystery. So what we’re doing with the two main characters, Deuce and Pixel, they were together in the first story, but now they are completely apart. Deuce is involved in the core of the conspiracy on Earth, while Pixel is leading a stealth team on the remote, lawless planet of Tortuga with a subset of the team. So they’re off in two different places. It’s kind of weird because their relationship is still the heart of the story, it runs through every page of the book, but we’re really seeing them do their jobs here, and we’re seeing them do it separately. So it’s this weird mix of superhero and science fiction and in this story, crime drama.

CB: There’s quite a time gap between the release of the last issue and the date for the upcoming fifth issue. What caused the extended break?

SM: Well, I needed time to rethink the thing. Gus isn’t quite a monthly comics artist, he needs more than a month to do a book. And it ended up being a little longer than we planned because the two of us are doing a two part story for DC as part of their Convergence storyline. So that wound up delaying our return a little bit. But it should work out nicely since Convergence will come out during the middle of this EGOs run, so hopefully people will notice the two things together.

CB: Is there anything different about how you’re approaching the making of the book this time around?

SM: The biggest difference for me is that it’s a much longer, more extended storyline. I had to plot it out in great detail. The first part is sort of a teaser, issue six is almost a little self-contained story within the story, and then it’s full-barrel to the end with a lot of twists and turns for the next three issues.

Gus Storms: I had fun with the art – it’s totally more terrestrial. It’s more location based and there’s nothing I love more than drawing location, as in the people in it and world-building. So I didn’t approach it differently, I just think that art-wise it’s more in my bailiwick and my natural inclinations.

SM: I actually had Gus in mind for Tortuga, which is a former prison planet that’s now sort of a lawless trading world. A lot of the long-time inhabitants are missing limbs and have artificial limbs and I thought that was just right for Gus. “Shankers” are a mass produced sort of artificial limb, and they’re a very important element to the story, as in who has them and what they’re used for.

CB: So does a lot of research go into the writing for this, science and space-wise?

SM: Well, I try and make it a little more plausible than a lot of comics! I have sort of a background in science fiction, and my father was a nuclear physicist, so I don’t come from that side of the family at all. I don’t understand any of that stuff, but I like bashing my head against it every once in awhile. So I try to keep current, but at the same time I’ve written stuff much more hardcore sci-fi than this. This is at core a superhero story with a science background, and when you get down to people’s powers… there is only so plausible it gets. In terms of the story-telling approach, I want to work as drama first, and then make it as plausible as possible, rather than the other way around.

GS: And this one is more cyber-punk than space opera. The first one is really sort of a more space opera, and this one is dystopia noir.

SM: That’s interesting, I hadn’t thought about it as cyber-punk, but it probably seems that way because of the noir influence. There’s a pretty hard edge to issue six when you meet some of the suriviors of the Crunch War. One of the new characters, the Commander, fought it in. What that war did to these people, and these planets, is a crucial part in where the story is going. I’m very fond of an old subset of noir that focuses on damaged WWII veterans and the crimes they committed, and it was something people were writing a lot about in the 1950’s and that influenced this story as well, but in a more futuristic context.


CB: So in to your first collected trade, you had an essay on why you took on the mantle of writer/editor and how Gus is also sort of an artist/editor. Are you sticking to those titles this time around?

SM: So what I said, for those who haven’t read it, is that I very purposefully gave myself the title of writer/editor on this book, which I got some criticism for, and I expected. But I did it for a couple of reasons. One was there are projects I do where I need an outside editor, I could absolutely not do without one, and then there’s EGOs where I pretty much know where I’m going. Gus backstops me, he’s absolutely invaluable in story matters, and so does Marie Javins who has been our co-publisher and co-editor all along. But I don’t really need a traditional editor on this book. I’ve been a comics editor myself, I’ve edited a lot of books, so I pretty much know what I’m doing. More than that, it was almost a little tribute to the fact that in the 1970’s and 80’s when I start really reading comics, a lot of people had that title, and a lot of the best comics published were under that title. Howard the Duck, Firestorm, Conan, even things like Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four were done that way for awhile. It fell out of favor partly because most of the major companies don’t work that way anymore, but it’s kind of my way of showing that this can still be a valid way to work on the right project.

GS: We don’t have a lot of continuity stuff to manage, which is a big part of the Big Two editorship. I think [Moore] needs an enforcer, you need someone to hassle the artist more.

CB: So let’s talk about the art. It’s been great seeing it develop across issues and tighten up to where it’s at now. It seems like you draw a lot of inspiration from French comics and the like, so did you have anything in mind when you started creating these designs?

GS: The process of the artist is just trying to shore up your deficiencies. So I’m just trying to occlude my poor drawing as much as possible. As far as inspiration… definitely a lot of the European guys. I like static shots. Not a huge fan of the forced perspective, sort of fish-eye lens type comics bombast you see in American mainstream. Lifetime Moebius devotee, and Darrow and Quitely. I always have trouble with people – with drawing handsome and attractive people. I find them way less interesting than the weird, grotesque side characters. Part of the evolution of EGOs art wise is that EGOs started as my first all-digital thing, working on the Cintiq, and there’s a big learning curve there. The most recent book has a lot of zipitone, and you can just sort of throw it on willy-nilly, so that’s sort of a different look. I like in particular the bar scenes. I would just draw weird back-water bars all day if I could.

SM: When I plotted out the first storyline, Gus wasn’t onboard yet, but I had him much more in mind on this arc.

GS: I found a lot of difficulties in the first one, there was just so much “people floating in space.” I had a hard time making that interesting. And some people can do it so well, like aerial fights. I had to figure out how to do it.

CB: Tell me a little about what it’s like to design such unique characters. Masse, for example, seems like he would have been very difficult to take from concept to execution.

GS: Yeah, that was maybe the most design discussion we had. I had originally wanted to make him more ambulatory – give him sort of malformed arms or something. But I think Stuart guided us in the right direction with that. He was a lot of fun. The other one I really enjoyed was Quark, which is the pink, constantly-shifting, energy dude. And the most high concept design guys come a little later in the story, and they’re an interesting… firm-type thing.

SM: Oh yeah, the Quantum Trust. This story is a little more grounded, as we said, and most of the characters are human or humanoid. But there are some pretty strange looking people coming.

CB: Is there anything you hate drawing that you found yourself having to improve on this series? Maybe something that you’re now good at drawing?

GS: I meannnn, I don’t think I got GOOD at drawing any of the stuff. This is my first job pretty much save for one little comic project I did out of school. And in school, when I was drawing, everyone was just really ugly and monstrous, so I guess I just had to draw allegedly attractive people. You know, Deuce and Pixel are supposed to be good-looking – they’re celebrities. I did have to focus on trying to make people look comely.

SM: I’ll add one other thing – these are not easy scripts. One of the games with EGOs for me was to pack as much into each story as I could without seeming crowded. That was one of the things I really wanted to do. Partly because I think if you’re going to do an original indie comic where people aren’t buying it for Batman, you need to really give people their money’s worth. If people are going to pay three dollars for an issue of this comic, I want them to walk away thinking they really got an experience. And that means there’s a lot of scene-changes, there’s a lot of characters, there’s a lot going on. These scripts are not easy to draw, and Gus has done a beautiful job at every stage.

GS: The best part is design, and it’s just been an option to constantly design little pieces, like Shara’s home world that you see just for a second. That kind of thing is all over the comic, which is a real treat.


CB: Anything else you’d like readers to know about what’s to come?

SM: Well, there are a lot of twists and turns. Not all the characters will necessarily survive… Basically what I had wanted to do with this story is do a large-scale epic where the villain is hidden. The villain is not out in plain sight, you don’t know who it is. And kind of bring some of the ways a good police procedural story work into this and see what happens. Hopefully that’ll work, hopefully people will like it…

I’ll just say one more thing. When it came time to decide whether or not to continue this book, and how long to continue it for, I plotted out the story and I sat down and wrote issue five. I know I’m too close to really know, but I think it’s the best script I’ve ever written for comic books. And then issue six is good, but I think issue seven is even better. So if people have read my stuff this is the one I would recommend, because out of all the comics I’ve written, I’m as happy with this one as anything I’ve ever done.

GS: I second that. I love it. It’s been a lot of fun to work on. It’s a great story, it’s exactly the type of thing that I like to read.

EGOs #5 is due out February 4th from Image Comics. Item Code: DEC140641

Pick of the Week: EGOs by Moore and Storms

Among tomorrow’s comics, our special pick is EGOs by Stuart Moore and Gus Storms. Why? story sounds cool, about a guy trying to save the universe, by getting the old gang together. Unfortunately the old gang includes his ex-wife, and that means battles of all kinds.

The villain—Masse, the Living Galaxy—has the cosmic feeling we all like to so much. Any new book by Stuart Moore is worth checking out, but I’m also excited to see artist Gus Storms getting his own book at Image. Storms is a local boy from SVA, and the minute I saw his samples at Portfolio Day a few years ago, I was sure he’d get his name out there in a big way some day. Obviously I wasn’t the only one, as they told Robot 6:

Moore: Gus took a class at the School of Visual Arts taught by my business partner, Marie Javins. In addition to being a comics editor and acclaimed travel writer, Marie is handling some of our production and co-editing the book with me. She showed me Gus’ work and I immediately loved it. His storytelling is flawless, and his art has a slightly European feel that sets it apart from most American comics. I’d written the first EGOs script and was looking for an artist co-conspirator, and Gus’s sci-fi-flavored work was absolutely perfect.

Storms: As Stuart mentioned, he tapped me right out of school, so the decision was simpler on my end. That said, Stuart’s mix of char-driven scifi and considerable comics pedigree made joining up an easy choice.

So a strong concept AND local boy makes good. Here’s a peek at why everyone is high on Gus Storms and EGOs. It’s on sale tomorrow.





Dark Horse Digital Announce Stuart Moore/Bruce Zick OGN ‘Mandala’

Dark Horse have announced ahead of NYCC (tomorrow, folks!) an original graphic novel from Stuart Moore and Bruce Zick, called Mandala. The first part of the story is available now on Dark Horse Digital – Dark Horse aren’t on ComiXology – and is priced at $2.99.

[Read more…]

On the Scene: Pros Wrestle with Tony Stark’s Appeal in ‘Iron Man at 50′ Event

The fact that both the Iron Man character and the Avengers team has reached their 50th anniversary since creation hasn’t received a lot of attention in the press, and this could be because the immense success of the IRON MAN and AVENGERS films means that the powers that be don’t particularly want the public to be reminded of the age of these characters. As Danny Fingeroth said, introducing the Comic Book Round Table event celebrating this milestone, Iron Man and the Avengers have created a “tremendous legacy” but are also now “really old”.  But the trick is, of course, to celebrate the hero and the team not only for their longevity but also for their dynamic ongoing appeal. In many ways, both Iron Man and the Avengers are bigger than they have ever been.

IMG_5537The reflection on this legacy was hosted by former Marvel editor and author Danny Fingeroth (who has also written IRON MAN and AVENGERS comics), and he was joined by distinguished guests Denny O’Neil (IRON MAN writer, BATMAN writer and editor), Marie Javins (former Marvel editor and colorist as well as author of the recently released IRON MAN: EXTREMIS prose novel based on the Warren Ellis/Adi Granov miniseries), Stuart Moore (former IRON MAN writer and co-writer with Javins of the recently released ART OF IRON MAN 3), and Keith DeCandido (editor of Iron Man prose novels). Author of INVINCIBLE IRON MAN for its run of 60 issues, Matt Fraction, also took part in the discussion via video link from his home in Oregon at the Soho Gallery for Digital Art on May 1st.

[Read more…]

Matt Fraction Says Iron Man 3 is as Big as The Avengers!


Matt Fraction skyped in to celebrate Iron Man’s 50th anniversary at a Comic Book Round Table event held at John Ordover’s Soho Gallery for Digital Art in New York on Wednesday night, and provided some heartfelt insights into the way in which the armored playboy has drastically changed Fraction’s own life. Along the way, he gave his thoughts on the past Iron Man films and gushed about the preview of Iron Man 3 which he had just seen the previous evening. Fraction and Salvador Larocca’s INVINCIBLE IRON MAN comics title, which had some close affinities to the characterization and ethos of the Iron Man films, also displays some of Fraction’s most personal feelings about the character, he said. He had “empathy” and “fascination” with the character for many reasons, not least of which was his own battle with addiction and alcoholism and living “in recovery”, he said frankly. Fraction explained that writing Tony Stark felt like “my own history”. Another motive was at work, as well, in luring him to writing the Iron Man title. “I love getting characters people hate, finding a reason to love them, and making people love them”, he declared, and considers his “mission accomplished”.


[Read more…]

INTERVIEW: Marie Javins on Super-Geekdom and Compassion in IRON MAN: EXTREMIS

Reading Marie Javins new IRON MAN: EXTREMIS prose novel, released April 16th, on my iPad, gave me an eerie moment of realizing how much had changed in the technological surface of our lives since Warren Ellis and Adi Granov released their Iron Man comic arc EXTREMIS in 2005 and 2006. Facebook was around then, but none of my close friends were using it yet, I purchased an extremely expensive iPod that weighed a ton, and it would be years before I read a comic in digital format. But EXTREMIS, as seems necessary for any really strong Iron Man story, was way ahead of its time. Then along came the first IRON MAN film in 2008, drawing in part upon EXTREMIS influences, though there are rumors that the EXTREMIS technology will play a much bigger role in IRON MAN 3. The version of Iron Man presented by the films has become the most well known version of the character, and that means that harmonizing earlier storylines with the mega personality that Tony Stark has now become (as befitting his fictional stature) is a desirable thing, and one that can make the breadth of comics history for the character more accessible for those who are relative newcomers.


Marie Javins an inspirational figure in the comics world and well beyond, first as an editor and colorist at Marvel for over 13 years, then fearless world traveler sharing her poignant experiences through blogging and authoring books. Add to that her editing work overseeing the groundbreaking series THE 99, featuring Islamic culture and religion in the super hero genre. And yet, there’s still more: Javins has also taught coloring at the New York School of Visual Arts and you’ll often hear first hand from her students in the New York comics community what an impact she’s had on their work. How many countries has she lived in? I’m not sure my attempt at counting has been accurate, but you get the big picture. Javins’ life has been extraordinary so far both on and off the page, and so when she was asked to reimagine Tony Stark’s relationship to EXTREMIS technology and terrorist storylines as a prose novel, she brought an abnormal level of well-suited experience to bear on her project. For those familiar with Ellis’ EXTREMIS storyline, you’ll know that its rife with diverse global locations, implications about mineral mining and weapons trade in impoverished countries, and has to show the reader a Tony Stark at his worst and at his best.

Without giving away spoilers, since the novel has only been released for a little over a week, I can say that Javins is a masterful writer when it comes to convincing the reader of the sensory details of travel, of locations and their character, and even more adept at portraying characters in a psychologically realistic way. She does this without overloading the text, a virtue that truly experienced comics folks seem to have an instinct for when it comes to prose, and her dialogue is superb. In keeping with the harmonics she was tasked with developing between the original graphic novel and the film, the dialogue is as sharp, appealing, and funny as the films are known for, and are windows into character personality as well. Javins sticks to that very key element of “rationalization” when it comes to Stark’s personality, always circling around those gray areas that enable him to act while staving off a potential landslide of guilt over his past acts. She gets inside the “tabloid” Tony to remind us, as good Iron Man stories must, of his humanity and how essentially miserable he can be, and essentially determined as he has to be.


You’ll believe in Javin’s portrayal of secondary and even relatively minor characters as much as you are convinced by Stark, and it seems like one of the reasons Javins accomplishes that so well is because of the sensory detail and human experience of her own travels and the compassion she’s felt for the cultures she’s experienced along the way. I highly recommend you check out IRON MAN: EXTREMIS for yourself, but hearing directly from Javins when interviewed about her project is bound to convince you more than I can:

Hannah Means-Shannon: What features of Tony Stark’s personality did you stick to as a guideline for your novel? What do you think are the most essential features of the character?

Marie Javins: Warren Ellis original IRON MAN: EXTREMIS six issues came out a few years before Marvel Studios captured the public imagination with the Iron Man we’re now all familiar with. The film version adapted material from EXTREMIS but also added original material and influences from pre-Extremis comic book runs.

My job was to write the Tony Stark the public now knows while still staying true to the original EXTREMIS series. We placed it in the time after the first IRON MAN movie, which altered two major points—one was Tony Stark’s public proclamation of his identity as Iron Man. The other was his romantic interest in Pepper Potts, which caused a wrinkle in the book’s tension between Tony and Maya Hansen. Fortunately, in my timeline, Tony and Pepper were not a thing yet. In Warren’s original story, she wasn’t in the issues at all—he’d put in a salty older secretary who turned out to be a lot of fun to write when I expanded on her original lines.

Tony Stark’s guilt over having manufactured weapons is key to the EXTREMIS story line and was adapted to the screen, as is his inherent genius, innovation, and snarky sense of humor. But his single-minded need to atone drives the modern Tony Stark.


HM-S: Did you feel like you had to become a rocket scientist to discuss all of the technology in the story? Was this science boot-camp for you, or has this always been an interest of yours?

MJ: Hurricane Sandy hit us while I was writing this and ironically, I had to resort to longhand and propane for a chapter. But normally, I love tech and take apart old iPhones for fun and am always trying to convince people to let me do something risky to their expensive computer equipment (they usually refuse). That said, I’m in no way capable of writing genius-level dialogue between the world’s most innovative thinkers, and I want to avoid my tech references seeming outdated next year. I recently read a slightly older book where blogs had been treated as the future of information. Well, no one could have predicted Facebook or Twitter when that book was written, or how quickly personal blogs were rendered irrelevant once online interaction became so democratic. So I avoided having Tony Stark use tech that we currently consider innovative, like 3-D printers or apps. And I tried not to be too specific about what Stark was looking for in his inventions. He’s always got to be a step ahead of us everyday consumers. He’s considering inventing things we don’t even dream of.

Warren Ellis has always been versed in high-tech culture—at least he included plenty of Easter eggs about futurists and speculative tech in his original dialogue. I was still stumbling onto realizations about his original characters a month after I turned in the final draft.

HM-S: Why did you want to write a story about Iron Man? What kind of impact do you think the ideas behind Iron Man can have on society today?

MJ: It’s funny how disinterested I was in the older version of Iron Man—he just seemed like a rich jerk to me until Warren rebooted him and Robert Downey Jr. brought him to life, turning Stark’s flaws into humor and conflicted vulnerability.

Or maybe I just didn’t get it. Maybe I was too busy with my own editorial stable and coloring responsibilities to keep a close eye on Iron Man. Or maybe I couldn’t relate to a wealthy playboy superhero, but I can definitely get behind a kind of super-geek, a tech genius who loves inventing stylish gadgets and who is so self-absorbed you never know if he’s going to save the world or insult everyone in the room. The current incarnation of Iron Man in a way reflects our obsession with stylish tech and frequent upgrades. And there’s a timeliness to his search for sustainable, clean energy.


HM-S: What was the most personal aspect of the story for you? Were there any themes you really wanted to include?

The EXTREMIS characters were complex and not simplistic. I tried to stick to that. Throughout the book, people believe they did what had to be done in spite of knowing they weren’t always on the right track. Rationalization is a constant. Tony Stark and the documentary producer interviewing him both rationalize. Dr. Aldrich Killian and Maya Hansen rationalize their actions. The bad guys rationalize. Everyone in the story thinks they are doing what has to be done. Well, everyone except Sal, the old tech-hippy who happily calls everyone out. Mallen, the bad guy, isn’t always inhuman and he switches back and forth between showing glints of humanity and being purely evil. It was important to not lose that complexity.

I tweaked Mallen and the personalities of his accomplices with characteristics of people I knew when I was a kid, and tried to add in minor atmospheric details from growing up in Virginia outside of Washington DC, where the final showdown occurs, and from the short time I lived in Austin, Texas, where Maya’s office is located.

HM-S: You’ve edited and colored a vast array of comics, and even written some. What about novels? Is this a new medium for you?

MJ: I’ve written four other books, but this is my first novel. Two are guidebooks, one is a children’s 3-D atlas and world tour, and the other is a personal travel narrative of my first trip overland from tip-to-tip of Africa.

I’ve contributed to several other books, magazines, sites, and maintained some mid-sized personal adventure blogs. My favorite stories to tell are autobiographical, about exploring other countries, continents, or the bits in between. I seem to get into a lot of scrapes in shared taxis or on broken buses in the middle of nowhere. Once, I was chased by a hippo. I was lucky to make it out of that one. This was a new medium for me, but the structure of creative non-fiction isn’t so different from a novel.

HM-S: How do you think writing a prose story about a superhero differs from writing about a superhero in comics? Are there any specific challenges that depend on the prose medium?

MJ: When I edited CIVIL WAR, the first Marvel prose novel in this series, writer Stuart Moore described the point-of-view problem to me. I thought I understood, but only when I was in deep with EXTREMIS did I know exactly what he had been talking about. In a comic, you can show character’s reactions and infer a great deal from an expression or physical stance. In a book, you have the POV of one character at a time—you can’t really tell what’s going on with other characters except as the character whose thoughts you’re privy to might interpret their actions. Also, action is easier as a visual panel. A writer might have to spend several paragraphs describing what an artist can convey in a single panel.


HM-S: You’re known as a world traveler, often going well off the beaten path. Did travel inform your view of Iron Man mythology at all? Does Stark’s character have any global implications for you?

MJ: I want to avoid spoilers, but yes, my expeditions and life abroad definitely gave me flavor to add to Iron Man’s story, and not just because I’m sensitive to cultural stereotypes in villains.

People who follow my adventures online won’t be surprised to see robot camel jockeys in the prologue set in United Arab Emirates. My visit to the camel races was a highlight of the time I spent making comics in Kuwait in 2006.

And a 2011 conversation I’d had over a Fanta in a bar in Mila Mila, Republic of Congo, gave me an entire subplot. A local man had told me: “I know English because we learn it in school. We learn many things in school. Many Africans are fluent in English and French and are highly intellectual. But the problem is still that there are no jobs. You guys think we are stupid because we don’t have jobs, but we are educated too. The problem is there are just no jobs.”

That stuck with me, as did the hunger of two teenage boys I’d met the previous night in a Gabon/Congo border village. They’d politely and appreciably scarfed down some peanut butter I’d offered them (with bread and a titanium spork), and that played into a minor bit in the story too. I was traveling in parts of the world that give us all our tech minerals, but people are impoverished and desperate there. And all of this fit in with the guilt Warren had used as Stark’s driving force in EXTREMIS. “If there really were a Tony Stark”, I thought, “a man with a company that sources raw materials, a wealthy and brilliant man devoted to tech as a way to help regions impacted by past wars, what would he do?”

HM-S: What do you think about print versus digital format for comics? Do you think people will be reading holographic comics of IRON MAN in the future?

MJ: It’s like the old argument about “Do you like cats or dogs?” You can like both! The more people reading sequential stories in any format is good for all of us, and the ease of digital access brings in new readers. I understand the apprehension and uncertainty we are facing, but I’ve thought we were dead as an industry before and have been wrong. Comics seem to be relatively healthy with so many new outlets and individuals creating their own products. Of course, it’s hard to make a living right now, but that’s not comics-specific. All creative fields seem to be in a worrying state of transition.


HM-S: Are there any other projects you have coming up or that you’re currently working on that you can tell us a little bit about?

MJ: After seven years, I’m finally winding down my involvement with the Kuwait series THE 99, as well as putting to bed a science fiction graphic novel called BINARY I packaged with my colleague Stuart Moore—both of these are available now or soon on ComiXology. Stuart and I also just finished writing the copy for ART OF IRON MAN 3 and soon we’re starting the next ART OF book for the upcoming THOR movie. I also have a weekly column on the UK’s WANDERLUST magazine website.

I’m still teaching coloring at New York’s School of Visual Arts and running Botfriend, the graphic novel packaging partnership Stuart and I own. But after being editor in chief of THE 99 for so many years, it’s amazing to me that I might have time to work on my own projects again. I’ve been planning my second travel narrative CURSE OF THE HIPPO since my last one, STALKING THE WILD DIK-DIK, came out. HIPPO is about my adventures living in Uganda and Namibia, then moving to Kuwait and Cairo to make comic books. And I went around the world by public transport for the second time in 2011, so that’s a third book right there. That should keep me busy for quite a while.

HMS: Javins redefines the idea of being busy, and always has, from her days working both a day and night job at Marvel editing and coloring, to placing herself at the heart of new experiences through travel, but it’s a lucky thing she was willing to take on the adaptation of IRON MAN: EXTREMIS to craft a new story, essentially, and one that adds substantially to Iron Man mythology. But it’s an addition that is very likely to remind you of why you cared about Iron Man stories in the first place, and why society is still responding to their relevance. And just to make things even more appropriate, you can read EXTREMIS to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Iron Man as a character and go see that little film you’ve probably never heard of coming out in a few days: IRON MAN 3. Thanks so much, Marie, for talking with the Beat about your remarkable novel, and thanks for taking an interest in Mr. Stark despite the vagaries of his personality. We also can’t wait to read CURSE OF THE HIPPO, more or less assuming, and hoping, there will be some “chasing” involved.

Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress.