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You’re a geek. Maybe you think so. Maybe you don’t. You know stuff, sure. You’re on the cutting edge of pop culture so often that your feet have calluses. You read the sites. You know the news. But still you hunger. A thirst for tactile absorption makes your stomach rumble and your lips parched. Standing before racks of magazines, you now have a choice. Something to read on the train, or to pass to your mates, or to leave on your coffee table for curious visitors. Whatever it is, your inner geek cries out. Time to feed it. So, what’s the point? Why give the world another magazine eschewing cool with a glossy veneer, you may ask? Are we so bold to think that we can offer anything different from what other mags already offer? Yes. Yes we are.

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So how do we do that? Arcana is about art, so it will be art. With unique layouts, pupil punching design and perception expanding subjects Arcana will stand out. From its cover to its conclusion, it will set itself apart and that’s due to the focus of our attention. As the cinema screens have finally accepted, comic books are full of diversity. They’re not just about spandex wearers punching each other, though there’s plenty of that too. We believe that there is a comic out there for everyone. Less predictable than Hollywood, with long lasting epics that make Heroes or Lost quiver, and artistic renditions that deserve a gallery. Comics are awesome. We like to think of ourselves, perhaps somewhat proudly, as ambassadors of sequential art. The town crier for surprising mass entertainment. On this quarterly journey we’ll look at what makes comics such a unique medium while taking the time to lovingly gaze at the people, the processes and of course, the pretty pictures. Whether you’re a dedicated fanboy or girl, or a curious onlooker, we hope to have something to show you every issue. Thank you for giving us a chance, and we hope you follow us as we search for more storytelling treasures and give them the spotlight they deserve. There’s a world of gifted creators, artists, writers and designers that we can’t wait to show you.

EDITOR IN CHIEF KRIS BATHER

CREATIVE DIRECTOR DAVE LAPSLEY

CEO/PUBLISHER SEAN O’REILLY

VP OF OPERATIONS MARK POULTON

All words by Kris Bather unless otherwise stated. All layouts & graphic design by Dave Lapsley. Arcana Volume One, Issue One. January 2010. Please direct all enquiries to kris@arcanaquarterly.com Characters and artwork shown in Arcana are trademark and © of their respective owners. Entire contents © 2010 Arcana. Arcana is produced quarterly. Printed in Canada.


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Arcana is a new quarterly magazine focused on sequential art and the people behind it. Following are a few rando


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om preview pages from our 96 page first issue, which goes on sale on January 27 at your local comic book store.


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arvel had a multitude of reasons to celebrate last year. Not only did some of their marquee characters reach big numbers, the whole company itself turned 70 years old. In honour of their pensioner status we present four of 2009’s best Marvel covers, in all their text-free glory.


What was your involvement with Imaginary Friends Studios and do you still keep up to date with what they’re doing? I founded Imaginary Friends Studios and built it from the ground up for 3+ years, but my partners and I decided to part ways. I still have lots of friends in the studio, after all I personally recruited most of the staff in the hopes of giving them a platform to shine, so I still keep track of them as artists that have a bright future if they manage their careers well. In fact, I’m now working on various new Storm Lion and Radical projects with many of the artists who left Imaginary Friends Studios after my departure. After reading Freedom Formula it seems that you wear your love of sci-fi on your sleeve. Were there any sci-fi films or stories that made a big impression on you

growing up? I absolutely love sci-fi. I think it’s the highest form of escape for young boys. The original Battlestar Galactica was THE sci-fi epic for me. I first watched it in the local movie theatre that screened it in Sensurround. The theatre seats would rumble when the Vipers launched and I was totally hooked. I built paper Vipers, Cylon raiders and drew BSG fan comics. What exactly do Storm Lion, and Velvet Engine offer? Storm Lion is our Singapore based publishing imprint under Radi-

Cannes must have been a highlight for you. Do you have any memories that stand out? Meeting Jean-Claude Van Damme and Adrian Paul was pretty cool. However the real highlight was kind of a spiritual experience when a little bird flew into my room and landed on my hand. It stayed there for a good 3 minutes before it pooped and flew off. I took it as a spiritual sign that things are going well. cal. The idea is to have a line that was more Asian influenced in its creative ideas and hopefully appeal to both American/International and Asian markets at the same time. Freedom Formula was a great example of how a story that drew from Chinese historical mythology and plays with Asian versus Western perspectives on themes such as freedom and duty, creates a fascinating story that can resonate with today’s internationally aware readers. Velvet Engine is just my dumping ground for projects that I think are too personal to justify getting other people involved in (until I can figure a way for them to work!)

ing, mass market books and other types of publishing beyond comics and graphic novels. Really it’s just an excuse to hang out and plot with my best friend, partner and mentor, Radical president/founder, Barry Levine who has been such a huge part of giving me my big break. Will you be writing any more comics in the future?

Absolutely! In addition to writing various new ideas that I have, I’m also enjoying the process of co-writing with various writers such as Andrew What does your role at Radical involve? Dabb (TV’s Supernatural), Tony Lee (IDW’s Doctor Who) and Brandon Jerwa (Dynamite’s Battlestar Galactica, Highlander). It’s been good My role at Radical is to oversee operations at a strategic level. That involves to experience firsthand how some other writers put their craft to work. ensuring the organizational structure and business strategies align especially as we expand into other areas of publishing including foreign licens-


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t first glance, it would seem that Robert Venditti epitomizes the “right time, right place” theory of success. However, there’s more to the creator of The Surrogates than that. Venditti has had a diverse array of jobs. As well as being a student of both Political Science and Creative Writing, he’s plied his trade at a law firm, a gas station, a Borders store and a mailroom. It was that last job that flung open the doors to success, and transformed his first published comic book in to a feature film starring Bruce Willis and Ving Rhames. The Surrogates reveals a future world frighteningly similar to ours, in which the majority of people are shut-ins, using thought controlled stand-ins for their daily lives. Those without surrogates are becoming a rarity and certain elements rise up, hell-bent on bringing society back to its former path. This upheaval becomes personified in the form of Detective Harvey Greer and a mysterious dreadlocked man gaining cult-like status, simply known as The Prophet. It’s a hard hitting exploration of our

reliance on technology, how we see ourselves, and just what it means to exist, and thanks to Brett Weldele’s unique, minimalist art and Venditti’s layered writing, it’s also an engrossing tale. “I’ve been writing stories as far back as I can remember,” Venditti recalls, “but I never seriously considered pursuing it as a career until my senior year in high school. Even then, however, I figured I’d have to support myself with a day job, which is why I thought about going to law school. But I clerked at a law firm before starting school, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that the legal profession wasn’t for me.” Something else that the scribe realized was the validity of comic books as mature entertainment, thanks to an eager customer during his Borders days. “A friend of mine who was a lifelong reader of comics got me to read the “Confession” arc in Astro City,

and I was struck by the medium’s ability to tell complex stories with well-defined characters—I discovered that comics weren’t at all the kids’ stuff that I’d taken them for.” Thanks to the critical and commercial success of his own endeavor perhaps Venditti can be an ambassador to other doubting readers. “Comics and graphic novels are much more a part of our national consciousness now than they were when I started reading them a decade ago,” he admits, “but if one of my books causes the scales to fall from some skeptic’s eyes, then I will take that as the highest form of compliment.” Before publishing the original The Surrogates mini-series by Venditti and artist Weldele in 2005, Top Shelf were primarily known as a publisher of mature, black and white original graphic novels, from daring creators such as Alan Moore, James Kochalka and Eddie Campbell.

When Venditti began working there packing boxes, he was not looking at Top Shelf as a prospective publisher necessarily, but as a step in the right direction. Venditti recalls, “Ending up in Top Shelf’s mailroom was the perfect bridge—it gave me the day job and the steady paycheck I needed to make a living, but at the same time I was involved in the comics industry and learning about the profession I wanted to be in.” Thankfully, after reading Venditti’s script Top Shelf co-founder Chris Staros decided that The Surrogates was the perfect fit to encompass his desire to branch out as a publisher. Then in 2007 Disney acquired the rights, hiring writing partners John Brancato and Michael Ferris to write the screenplay. The pair have worked on some impressive films, such as The Game and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, also with Surrogates director Jonathan Mostow. Rather than being overly protective of his sci-fi tale in the hands of the corporate Hollywood machine, however, Venditti admits, “It was actually a lot of fun. I knew going in that the team involved had an


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TOM TAYLOR:

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STAR WARS “For me, it’s all about creating something new, bringing something to life that didn’t exist before. My first goal as a writer is always to entertain. I’m always thinking about the audience when I write – looking for that big moment of excitement or shock or humor. As an actor and a director, there have been times when I have struggled to see any relevance or entertainment value in works I’ve been involved in – which is a nice way of saying I’ve been involved in some crap. At least if the work I’m doing now isn’t entertaining, I can only blame myself.” So says Tom Taylor, the talented playwright from Melbourne,


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e’ve come a long way since The New Kids on the Block had their own comic in the early 1990s. The last 3 years in particular has seen the increasing love affair between music and comics grow exponentially, thanks in no small part to the success of The Umbrella Academy. The brainchild of Gerard Way, the frontman of popular band My Chemical Romance, the series launched in 2007 with artist Gabriel Ba and publisher Dark Horse to immediate acclaim. Writer Grant Morrison famously declared it to be “an ultraviolet psychedlic sherbet bomb of wit and ideas,” and said that the seven unique children behind the series were, “the superheroes of the 21st century.” With two successful volumes collecting The Umbrella Academy’s adventures (Apocalypse Suite and Dallas) and a third on the way (Hotel Oblivion) other publishers are perhaps looking for the next big thing with cross-over appeal. The last year in particular has seen an outpouring of new series with well-known names behind them, as musicians declare their love of comics and welcome the new storytelling possibilities the medium offers.

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avid ack answers most of my questions amongst the clouds as he flies to New York, and that seems strangely apt. Mack is one of those rare breed of creators that flies easily between art forms, blurring the boundaries between the distinctions of narrative storytelling and the use of art therein. Comics have been his main form of expression, primarily in the pages of his unique Kabuki series (now collected in 7 TPBs and 7 languages). Kabuki began as a black and white series in 1994 and has since evolved into an enchanting color showcase for Mack’s love of collage, painting, and symbolism. Every page begs for a frame and a wall on which to be hung. The series centers on the titular Japanese heroine; a celebrity, killer and daughter of a corrupt general. Kabuki is surrounded by evil in her future world, a world which is knee-deep in capitalism and selfishness. Despite the presence of fellow female assassins and the occasional dance of death fight scenes, Kabuki is anything but a typical action series. Amongst the beautifully illustrated pages are meanderings on life, death, culture and nature as Kabuki’s philosophical thoughts and exploration of memory draw you in to her alluring world. Recently Mack has used Kabuki (now published through Marvel’s Icon imprint) as a voice with which to share his own ideas on …everything with his journal/sketchbook Reflections series, which for the most part foregoes story in favor of revealing the artistic process behind his comic work and also other projects such as his children’s book The Shy Creatures. Apart from Kabuki, the other costumed adventurer Mack is closely associated with is the blind lawyer from Hell’s Kitchen Matt Murdock, and his alter ego, Daredevil. After filmmaker Kevin Smith’s successful run on the series in 1998, Mack came on board with his writer/artist skills, bringing a dazzling new style to Marvel’s long running superhero series for a few issues before visiting the character again in 2004. Between those two periods he also introduced long-time friend Brian Michael Bendis to Marvel, a move which would prove fortuitous as the fan-fave writer is now one of Marvel’s chief architects. Apart from comics, Mack has also created album artwork and commissions for people such as Paul McCartney, Tori Amos and John Woo, and his work has hung in galleries and been studied at universities. The Cincinnati born artist is genuinely thankful for his career, and any glimpse in the letters pages of his comics shows his humility and desire to encourage budding artists. Far from being elusive and distant, Mack’s down to earth nature and generosity towards his fans shows that his art really is an extension of himself. The 320 page oversized Kabuki Reflections book collects Mack’s first six issues from the Reflections series and is available from Marvel on February 24. His long awaited return to Daredevil with former collaborator, writer Brian Michael Bendis is entitled Daredevil: End of Days and focuses on the end of Matt Murdock’s life. Look for it, and a Philip K. Dick adaptation called Electric Ant, in the near future.


DAVID MACK PHOTO COURTESY OF LINDA COSTA. MORE MACK MADNESS INSIDE.


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