Ming the Merciless. Dale Arden. Hans Zarkov. Prince Barin.The Hawkmen, and course– Flash Gordon. You may remember him
from his recent re-imagining on the Sci-Fi Channel TV series, the awesome 1980 film (for which Queen created the catchy theme song) or the not-so awesome ‘80s cartoon, Defenders of the Earth. Or if you’re old enough, you may even have fond memories of his 1934 debut from creator Alex Raymond as a newspaper strip. Either way, Flash Gordon has outlasted many of his contemporaries, such as Buck Rogers, and now with a respectful, but modern take from Ardden Entertainment, looks set to boldly blast into the future once more. Ardden is the product of two men with diverse creative experience. Writer Richard Emms created AP Comics in 2002, then left to become the Editor in Chief for another comic publisher, Markosia before opening two Limited Edition Comix stores in the UK and creating Ardden. His business partner (and writer of Ardden’s Flash series, with stylish art provided by Paul Green) Brendan Deneen made the transition from the respected William Morris Agency to film producing, with Dimension, Miramax and the Weinstein Company, with a number of impressive credits to his name (Sin City, Feast, Rambo.) Now Emms shares his thoughts on the journey thus far, just in time for Flash’s 75th anniversary.
You both come from the worlds of film and publishing in various capacities. What made you decide to form your own publishing company, rather than to continue your successful careers working for others? RICHARD: I’ve known Brendan since he was at Miramax, and over the past five years, up until the point of setting up Ardden, we’ve worked on a few projects together; namely Brendan’s hit mini series Scatterbrain and a project for the Weinstein Co. called Fanboys.* For me it was the fact that Brendan and I could control our own destiny. Sure it’s harder work than working for someone else but I’m a strong believer in what you put into something you get back out in the end and Flash has done exactly that and opened many a door for the future of Ardden. My day job is retail and Ardden fits in nicely to what I do week to week, month to month... Plus it’s great to give my customers and loyal patrons an insight into the world of comic publishing - which I have decided to take further. A secondary school in my home town has asked me to do workshops so that I can teach people the creative process of comics. Which I can’t wait to start. What was the catalyst to go after Flash Gordon as your first licence and what was the process in acquiring it? RICHARD: The day I left my old job as EiC for Markosia I started to get itchy feet. Already I was missing comic book publishing so, being the type of guy who never says never, I sat down and went through the list of things that I loved as a kid... One of them was Flash Gordon. I remembered the 80’s film vividly - and decided that Flash would be my main target to try and sign. The nice thing about the web is that with a bit of research you can find anything. A day later, an email or two and I had already contacted the UK’s arm/agent of King Features and that’s how it all started.
How did the two of you end up working together and was the name choice of Ardden a natural one after choosing to go after Flash Gordon? RICHARD: Once again it was a natural progression. Working with Brendan was a brilliant creative process and we work so well as a team. When the proposals for Flash were going back and forth I asked Brendan if he’d like to write the series. To me, Brendan is the best up and coming writer I’ve ever worked with. I knew he would do an amazing job on Flash and if Brendan had not have committed to do it, Flash might be still in the world of limbo, maybe to never see the light of day. The name Ardden comes from richARD and DENeen - it’s also a tip of the hat to Dale...the worlds first ever sci-fi heroine. Flash has had many interpretations over the last 80 years and most modern audiences would be familiar with the character from the 1980 film or the 2007 TV series. What did these two approaches do right, and wrong? RICHARD: I think that you still cannot beat the 1930’s original black and white serials. What has come after has been good, but not great. The 1980 movie was really fun and still is a good movie by today’s standards. The 70’s cartoon had its elements of being fantastical but predictable and the new TV show just isn’t Raymond’s Flash Gordon. As a sci-fi show it’s fine but I wanted to see Ming in a luxurious palace surrounded by scantily clad women servants. We also had the short lived 90’s TV show - but I’ve never seen that, so I can’t really comment. How did you decide upon what absolutely had to stay when re-examining Flash’s world, and what had to be updated? RICHARD: For this I trusted Brendan to deliver something that was in-keeping to Alex Raymond’s multi-faceted worlds of Mongo as well as bringing it right up to date. His premise is second to none - and if Alex Raymond was alive today he would be proud of Brendan’s scripts. Paul’s art, too. Can you explain what happened with the printing errors on your first issue and how much of a setback that became? RICHARD: We enlisted a printer in China to print our books for us. The samples they sent before we sent Flash off to print were great, and the quotes were great, but when I finally received the printed copies of the first book at my office - I was shocked. The colours were out, the covers too dark and the whole thing looked like a mess. We prepaid for these books up front (thank God by credit card) and on emailing the production team at the printers they admitted that there had been a problem with the colours. By the time I had received my copies, the remaining 13,000 had landed in the USA. Straight away I told them they should not have sent them if there was a fault... and the rest, shall we say, our lawyer is looking after.
What else is Ardden working on, apart from Flash? RICHARD: We’re in the process of signing another big license - just as important as Flash Gordon - and Brendan and I have been putting together a roster of creatorowned projects with writers such as Jim Krueger. We are very excited with what’s happened so far with our plans and we’ll continue as long as the retailers continue to give us feedback and support. But for the team at Ardden it’s one step at a time. Was it nerve-racking, or exciting working with the legendary J.M DeMatteis** as your Editor In Chief? Or was it both? RICHARD: Nothing nervy working with JM. He’s a gentleman and the most amazing guy you could ever want at the helm of the company. His insight and ability to add so much more into a comic series is second to none. The Mercy Wars Trade Paper Back collecting the first six issues of Ardden’s Flash Gordon series is available in April. The 75th Anniversary Special is available now and features work from an impressive host of Flash fans, including Joe Casey, Denny O’Neill, Len Wein and Shawn McManus. www.arrden-entertainment.com *Fanboys is the long awaited comedy (coming soon to DVD) that follows a few friends in 1998 who steal an advance copy of Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. **DeMatteis is a diverse writer, primarily known for his gritty approach to Marvel’s Spider-Man, and injecting humour into DC’s Justice League, both in the 1980s and 90s. Flash Gordon © 2009 King Features Syndicate, Inc.
Also available, from BifBangPow! are 7 inch action figures of Flash Gordon, Prince Barin, Dale Arden and Klytus. All are inspired by the 1980 film and are based on designs by superstar comic painter Alex Ross (DCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kingdom Come). The complete Series 2 will be available in 2009.
Download. Print. Cut. Fold It’s that simple. Without the need for glue or tape, these crafty designs of pop culture faves and cult characters take on a new shape. Visit www.cubeecraft.com for a bevy of wondrous designs and start building your own paper army. And most characters even have interchangeable parts! Extra Sequential gets the lowdown from Chris Beaumont, the man behind the cubes. What exactly is papercraft and why does it have such a cult following? Chris: Papercraft is the art of creating 3D models from paper. I think it’s popular because it’s easily accessible, inexpensive and fun for both the creator and the builder. How do you decide which characters to transform? Chris: I am just a fan of a lot of stuff. What should those that download your designs know? w? Chris: If you use a hobby knife and not scissors you can cut them out a lot faster. It’s not a race though so be e careful careful. l.
IMAGE CREDITS: Barack Obama, Darth Vader, Spider-Man and Dr. Manhattan by Chris Beaumont. Hellboy ellboy by Glen Brogan. Lion-O
Garnica. DISCLAIMER: The material presented here is my original creation, any characters not created by myself are in no way offic by their owners, they are either trademarks or registered trademarks of their owners in the United ed States and/or other cou Cubeecraft papercraft template is released by Christopher Beaumont under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercia 3.0 Unported License. Use of the template by a third party for profit or the sale of Cubeecraft papercraft percraft models is strictly f without express permission from Christopher Beaumont. If you alter, transform, or build upon this is work, you may distribut work only under the same or similar license to this one. You may not use this work for commercial al purposes.
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Zeb Wells, like film-maker Kevin Smith is a funny geek done good. Winning Wizard magazine’s Direct to Video competition for the second time, his amusing acceptance speech got Marvel’s attention. His short films were hilarious send-ups of popular characters such as Hulk and Supergirl. He continued his funny business writing everyone’s favourite wall crawler in Spider-Man’s Tangled Web. From there it was on to various series penning the tales of the Heroes for Hire and New Warriors.
Most recently one of the writers of Amazing Spider-Man, post Peter Parker’s controversial divorce, Wells penned the headline grabbing issue #583 in which Spider-Man meets Barack Obama. Now Wells is stepping into darker territory with the release of Dark Reign: Elektra, a 5 issue mini-series focused on the deadly beauty. The sai wielding assassin is one of Frank Miller’s best creations and has had a hectic life including becoming Daredevil’s flame and a prisoner of the invading aliens known as Skrulls. During this time she was secretly replaced by a Skrull impostor, eventually leading to Marvel’s recent Secret Invasion mini-series. Now, the ninja is back, and she ain’t happy. However, Wells still is… Do you still have an itch to make more short films? Zeb: I do, but I got ambitious on the last one and am still paying it off four years later, so it might have to wait until we’re both pulling in that sweet BatherCon* money. Is Spider-Man the most relatable superhero in comics? Zeb: He is to me, probably. That is until my new character “Zeb Wells” debuts in Elektra: Dark Reign #3. A possible love connection for the alluring Ms. Natchios? She could do a lot worse! Were you surprised at all by the reaction of your Spidey/Obama team-up? Zeb: I actually thought it would be huge when Stephen Wacker** offered it to me, so no, not really. I do realize that a monkey could have written it and it would probably have gotten the same reaction though, so I do feel incredibly lucky I was offered a hand hold on Obama’s coat tails. 15
What benefits does writing for Marvel have that surprised you the most? Zeb: Well, my girlfriend’s dad thinks it’s pretty cool, so it really greased the wheels there. That’s probably been the biggest plus. Spider-Man and Elektra seem like two opposing characters on the surface. Do they have any similarities? Zeb: I can honestly say that Spider-Man and Elektra have NOTHING in common. Even their genitals are exact opposites. How familiar were you with the lives (and deaths) of Elektra before landing this gig? Zeb: I was/am a HUGE fan of Frank Miller’s Elektra work. Elektra: Assassin stands right next to Watchmen and Dark Knight in my book. Are there any particular scenes series that you can’t wait for fans
in the to see?
Zeb: Clay Mann, the artist, really nailed Elektra’s escape from her captors in issue #1. I’ve looked at the last three pages of the book 10 times today. I think fans will eat it up. *BatherCon is a fictional (for now) convention concocted by Wells at this thankful writer’s expense. However, if such a Con would take place, Wells promises to be the headliner with his world class trapeze act, complete with three Andalusian sloths and one very perplexed ‘volunteer.’ Right Zeb? **Steve Wacker is the Spider-Man editor. 17
e wore to 2001 h 6 8 9 1 m few o spaper fr king up a 8, w ic e p n r e e b ft A t in 199 oston Glo nmental issues. g his firs for the B o in r h ir e he t s v r li n o b e p u d e ks, p sar ee books ts an o r A r o . h o t b e p t it s n x r , e e io w t n h his on-fic trohow to medicin focus to n blic relations. Wit orkers, and elec e knows s such as is a h e r d a e t d e if w Larry Ty u r 416 p r sh ve modern an rail ca erican Legend is a all way, Tye f ts and co ic o e a r h r h e t e y g m h n t n A a fa m m an he s alo s of es of an A ernays, t ities, Afric us award ll pitcher n prestigio ed on Edward L. B s Jewish commun l: The Life and Tim merican baseba erica ntr atche ican A atest Am pics a S e fr o r t d A g d t le e s a it h e o which ce t t t r n a b o graphy project, e ed one of the gre is skills t ted such an: A Bio h m s r d e n p u le S r e represen herapy. His latest ide title of that Ty ion, and et ige, cons working se. After l inspirat e u h fu o t r ld. H convulsiv phy on Satchel Pa e h it w m o o W p an. is a dern wor Rand m a o n r r m e m g io o t p t io fr a u s b e S o e r e p n pag in Ju rhero – d in lasting c today’s released publishe inal supe huster’s street in y ig S ll e r e a o h t n Jo e fi n h d t o time. It is d n , n comic a d nd , and chil ression, a superheroes and ll time, a t why Jerry Siegel n p a a e f o D m t o o a r w e e r h nd en eG pop reating will pres he man, a s after th ectively c become enduring ﬀ e , the book hat he means to t o Cleveland teen it h t tw e on to tw n instan have gon show jus he imagination of eel was a . t o S c f o d n n a a t eM k Kent that is. Born from s #1 in 1938, th usly, Clar just why io g v b in ic t O a . m y o ig a t C Action is inves hem tod And Tye e know t . s w e s d a a s c k e o bo the d ons over culture ic
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s covered. H Larry: I spe av nt 20 years as a reporte insatiable n r, which eith osiness, pe er suggests rhaps both. into a story an inquisitiv I love asking . It is espec e questions, ially satisfy then piecin ing, and fun g , t w h e n the topic What made is as irresis you want to tackle Supe rman as a su Larry: It wa bject? s partly a lo ve for the s my bio of S tory and the atchel Paig character. It e, to unders last 100 ye also was a tand why A ars no hero fasc merica emb has lasted races the h long and ge e roes nerated nea I imagine th rly the pass e research m io no ust’ve been an eye-open a fun process er for you? . Have you fo llowed com ics r Larry: It is n ot just an e ye-opener b answer to y ut an excus our first que e to get bac stion is NO k to the com , unfortunate ics of ly. As you’ve co llected stori es from fans so far, have Larry: There you seen a th are several eme that co themes tha nnects scientific sa t have eme mpling of fa rg e n d so far from s. First, all profound in share not a terest in wh what I adm knee-jerk a o he is, the it i personal w ttraction to values he re ay. All are d Superm presents, a rawn in by The less cle nd how he Superman’s ar society is touches moral certa about value Way, the nic in ty at a time s like truth er it is to se of mora and justice e that Supe Finally, I lov and concep rman is as e to hear ho ts s like th ure as ever, w families c to resonate or so fans h an and are as much wit ave be bonding aro h parents a more and re und this su nd grandpa ad more of perhero, rents as yo the dozens u ng kids. Mo of fan storie re to com s that are p iling up.
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Available now from AdHouse Books, And There You Are is an Original Graphic Novel from Ronnie del Carmen. The 64 page book stars Nina, who has appeared previously in del Carmen’s Paper Weight series, and follows her in an alluring combination of art and journals. The dreamlike narrative and well crafted pages may very well appeal to fans of Craig Thompson’s Blankets and Carnet de Voyage. Del Carmen has had a diverse career in animation and illustration, working on series such as Batman: The Animated Series and more recently on Pixar’s WALL-E and their next feature, Up. www.ronnidelcarmen.com
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There’s an impressive roster of artists behind the series. Did they all know each other previously?
Jason: James Raiz and Rob Armstrong worked together on Transformers Armada back when the Dreamwave crew was still together. They’re probably more responsible for the whole Dreamwave/TF look than anybody, actually. It was the first time working together for everyone else, but as you can see, they’ve meshed together well. Gerardo Sandoval is one of the best pencillers I’ve
ever seen, Danimation, Sayda and Simon Bork are amazing colorists, and Kurt is a “writer’s writer” in every sense of the word. We just tried to pull the most talented creators we could find together, and we’ve been blessed in getting some truly great ones to work on Dawn of the Dread Force. How is the series setting itself apart from Transformers? Jason: I’m starting to cringe a little every time someone asks me that, no offense, because even though this project has taken 7 years to
come to fruition, when people see giant robots, they always think Transformers. The main reason James and Rob were hired for the job was because they were the cream of the crop as far as drawing giant robots, so they were must-haves, but story-wise, the books are quite different. DOTDF has a lot more human and science fiction elements involved. It’s darker and scarier than TF, almost like The Dark Knight movie in a way, horrific. Other than that, we also tried to improve on the giant robot genre, take it to the next level, and I think we’ve succeeded in that, so hopefully readers will be able to appreciate a different kind of robot book. *The Pitt, created by Dale Keown was a hulking monster originally published by Image Comics in the early 90s.
www.dreadforce.com Dread Force TM and © 2009 Jaran Studios. All rights reserved.
The aim of Ariel Press’ new series, Harker is to create a compelling detective TV series on paper. The English duo of writer Roger Gibson and artist Vince Danks have certainly achieved that. Stripping away all the CSI-like pretension and replacing it with a couple of likely lads in the form of Detectives Harker and Critchley, the new series is engrossing. Plus, black humour, detailed visuals and the odd bit of mad violence helps. Harker and Critchley have very distinct voices. Are they based on yourself, or people around you? Roger: Yes, Harker and Critchley are myself and Vince, for the most part - seems a little unfair inflicting us both on the comic reading public, so I can only apologise. Friends would definitely recognise Harker as a slightly more monstrous version of me, and would recognise Critchley as a slightly more shallow version of Vince, which is kind of accentuated by them looking like us too, I suppose. Harker is actually about ten years older than me with more hair, and Critchley about ten years younger than Vince and with less hair, so they’re not carbon copies - but if Vince and I were detectives, I don’t think we’d be a great deal different to Harker and Critchley. I’m a little bit more approachable than Harker, and Vince is definitely nowhere near as vain as Critchley, but we both have our moments. Most of their more peculiar personality traits come from me, which is a little worrying: Harker is the side of me that’s impatient, a little shy, grumpy, shabby and scruffy, slightly odd, easily distracted by shiny things, outrageously egotistical, intensely passionate... so he has most of my bad traits, with a couple of good ones thrown in for good measure, as we didn’t want him to be too much of a monster. Critchley, on the other hand, is the side of me that’s outgoing, flirtatious, vain, shallow, geeky, a dreamer - with that little bit of Vince in him as well here and there, in his mannerisms, his friendliness and his general ease around people. Which makes the series rather autobiographical, I suppose certainly in the relationship between the two detectives - which is something I hadn’t really thought about before. I’ll treat it as therapy or something... How would you best describe what the series is all about? Roger: Harker is fundamentally a mainstream telly detective show done as a comic. Our aim, the thing we’ve been trying to achieve for years (and not quite hitting the mark until now), is to produce the kind of comic that would work as a drama on telly on a Saturday evening - not a fantasy series like Doctor Who or Merlin, but a straight forward, no nonsense Saturday night detective series, as a comic. Not because we want Harker on the telly (though of course it would be nice), but just because we think comics should cater to the mass market in the same way as TV does. We want to capture that audience, we want our comic to be read by everyone, not just comic fans. We’re as mainstream as you can get. We’re ultra-mainstream. If you could inject Harker directly into your bloodstream, you could give up telly for life, it’s all going to be in there. Think of the time you’d save. Harker is also a joyful celebration of the detective genre - as the series progresses, you’re going to see us playing around with all of the archetypes and icons of such stories. Even just in issue one you’ve got the buddy cops, the classic car, the grim autopsy scenes, the banter - and we’ll be pushing further with all that iconography as we go along, playing with it, sometimes breaking it spitefully, biting the hand that feeds us. Oh! I’ve just thought of a good way to put it: Harker is what would be the result if the TV shows Morse, Columbo and Waking The Dead all had greedy monkey sex together, with Starsky and Hutch as the stepdads and Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie as the grandparents. There we go. It seems like Harker has touches of cop shows, thrillers and possibly the supernatural. Was it hard to work those influences into a coherent narrative?
Roger: Not really, as Vince and I are both huge fans of all those things. Vince has DVD box sets of every TV detective show ever. His passion and greed for them knows no bounds. He even has the diabolical Murder She Wrote, I’m sure, so he’s got it especially bad. I once had a sordid, sleazy little summer affair with Diagnosis Murder, but I regret it now, and still feel a little dirty. Harker isn’t a supernatural series in the slightest, by the way, though I know it looks like it could be. It’s a detective series, first and foremost, very much rooted in the real world. We even use real locations. We’re working on issue five of the first six issue story at the moment, and I now know the Russell Square area so well that we’re including a map of the locations with a little Harker car to cut out and drive around it in the first collected edition. We could do local tours, make a fortune: “Roll up! Roll up! Come and see where the fat guy was disembowelled!” How did you end up working with Vince? Roger: He got me drunk at the 2008 Bristol Comic Convention and suggested it. I’m honestly not kidding. Also, I share a house with him (though not in the biblical sense, you understand), so if I’d have refused, he’d have put my rent up. We’ve been best friends for twenty years, and we’ve worked together loosely before, particularly in the Raven comics anthology we tried and failed with a few years back, but this is the first time we’ve properly collaborated on the same strip. But briefly: in the last issue of Raven, four or five years ago, I produced a solo comic strip featuring Inspector Griffin (as he was at the time) and his assistant Critchley. Vince and I were getting mildly tipsy at the Bristol Con, after spending all day flogging the finale of Vinnie’s Sapphire series, in which he’d publicly retired from producing comics in a grand, Alan Moore-style flourish. I asked him in the bar that evening if he was really
serious, and he replied that the only thing he’d consider doing would be a detective series - and specifically the Griffin series. I said he was welcome to use the character, since I’d abandoned it, but he said he’d never work alone again, and then bought me another pint. Obviously, I agreed to collaborate on the spot. Cheers! *hic!* Griffin changed to Harker later on, and the current series has virtually nothing in common with the strip that I originally did, but that’s where it started. Were you inspired by the British Invasion* into theAmerican comics market as a young writer? Roger: Not really - mostly I was just envious. They were getting into all the good parties, and I was far more hip than they were, with much better hair. At that time I was reasonably active in fandom - pretty much every comic fan friend I had knew someone else who was a comics professional, and meeting Vince put me even closer to that crowd, but never actually in it, though I definitely craved it. Obviously I eagerly devoured anything by Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Bryan Talbot, Neil Gaiman etc, but equally I was reading P. Craig Russell, Don McGregor, Steve Gerber, Jack Kirby, so I just liked good comics, y’know? To be honest, I think the lifestyle of some of those in the British Invasion back in the 80’s would have killed me. I only mainline caffeine.
What have you learnt from your previous experience with writing comics that you’re now applying to Harker? Roger: Always write what you know, first and foremost. If you don’t know it, research it, immerse yourself in it. Read all the time, and write all the time. Only work with artists capable of drawing an issue a month, or nothing will ever happen, and you’ll die alone and penniless. Do as little work as possible, to allow time for fannying about. Be hungry for it. Smile a lot, don’t scowl.
Is it a vastly different beast to write novels rather than comics? Roger: The process is similar, but without the artist collaborating, you’re out there on your own with your pants around your ankles. Vince is brilliant in Harker at solving visual problems, at making scenes work with ease, at throwing in fresh ideas, whereas writing novels requires you to sort those problems out yourself, to deal with prose as well as dialogue. Both are lots of fun, and I learnt a lot about Harker and Critchley as characters from writing the Harker novel last year, but there were times when I really could have used Vince to help me bridge a scene or two, to throw in his ideas.
There are also, of course, an awful lot more words to type when writing a novel. I suppose I must enjoy the process as I’ve written three now, and it’s always a huge creative rush. Comics demand a different mind-set, one that’s more visual, with different problems to solve, mostly in pacing and structure. I cut a lot of dialogue when writing for comics, paring it down to what works, whereas in novels I tend to take the reverse approach. Less is more, except when it’s not.
What do you say to those crazy people who see photo referencing as somehow cheating? Vince: Nobody has ever accused me of cheating in that way, but I suppose if they did I’d ask them if they’d ever tried to draw a full comic on a monthly basis. I know there are artists who can produce realistic looking work very quickly but I’m not one of them. If I want the art to look good, and I want the characters to look real, I need my photos! I also find that the process of photographing models can throw up new ideas that I hadn’t though of when doing the storyboards. Creating a comic isn’t about fine art, it’s about story telling - the end justifies the means. Knowing Roger as long as you have, how does that make the creative process easier? Vince: He already knows that I’ll punch him if I don’t get my own way. What’s the ultimate goal for Harker as a series? Vince: Just making enough money to be able to continue doing it would be nice. My needs are not great (although that world cruise and the apartment in Santorini have been a niggling aspiration) but the time involved in producing Harker means that I don’t get a chance to do much else from a work point of view so at the moment I’m very poor (donations greatly accepted). Do you enjoy getting inspired by the sights around you when creating the artwork? Vince: I would if I was in Santorini but there isn’t a great deal inspirational going on in downtown Clifton. Rog and I are hoping to move into (or at least nearer) town in the not too distant future and York can be inspiring, which is partly why I set Sapphire there. *The British Invasion was a time in the late 1980s when many UK comics writers made it big in the US, writing popular characters, and becoming popular themselves. Writers such as Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis and more were part of the influx.
Archie Comics gave Tom DeFalco his start in the comics biz, back in the early 1970s. While there he launched the popular Digest series, which is still around. Landing at Marvel he developed a fondness for Spider-Man, not only writing Peter Parker’s adventures (including introducing his black costume) and moving on to editorial duties, but eventually becoming Editor In Chief. He held that post for 8 years, while still writing titles such as Thor and the spin-off starring fellow hammer wielder, Thunderstrike. Returning to scribe Spider-Man in the mid-90s, DeFalco then created his most beloved character in the form of SpiderGirl. Debuting in What If? Volume 2 #105, May Parker, otherwise known as Mayday, was shown to be the daughter of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Parker in an alternate version of the regular Marvel Universe. Proving to be a popular heroine, Spider-Girl staved off a few proposed cancellations and ended her first series with #100. Mayday soon returned though, in another series, entitled The Amazing Spider-Girl which lasted until the recent #30. This makes Spider-Girl Marvel’s longest running series with a female protagonist. If that wasn’t impressive enough, DeFalco also helped form the G.I. Joe and Transformers franchises in the early 80s, and has penned several novels as well as the Ultimate Guides for various Marvel heroes, and edited the interview/behind the scenes Comics Creators On…books from Titan. It’s Spider-Girl that most fans will associate DeFalco’s great work with though. Mayday’s fans are a vocal bunch, a fact which DeFalco is all too aware, as a regular poster on fan-site www.comicboards.com/spider-girl. He, along with frequent collaborator, artist Ron Frenz seem to have crafted a title, and character, that seems to have legs though, and Mayday’s stories aren’t done yet. How would you like Spider-Girl as a series, to be remembered? TOM: I would love SPIDER-GIRL to be remembered as a beautifully drawn, fun and exciting series that’s full of action and angst in the merry Marvel manner. Mayday’s not completely off the radar though, right? TOM: Absolutely not. She will continue to appear as a monthly feature in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN FAMILY and as THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-GIRL on MARVEL DIGITAL CONTENT. The little character that could lives on! How important have Ron Frenz and Pat Olliffe been throughout the series? TOM: Duh! They’re the guys with the real talent. Both Pat and Ron are great artists who really understand the craft that’s involved in telling a story visually. They infuse their characters with real life, personality and individual manners. Pat and Ron also contribute all the good story ideas. I’m very happy to ride on their coat tails.
Tom DeFalco 43
What about Thunderstrike? Any chance of seeing him again? TOM: Anything’s possible! Ron Frenz and I love the character and we’ve recently begun talking about him, again. Being there at the beginning with two of Hasbro’s biggest franchises, in G.I. Joe and Transformers, did you have any inkling of how they’d be received?
TOM: No, not really. When we first began working on G.I. Joe, a lot of people--including many who worked at Marvel--hated the series because they thought it would glorify war. They soon learned it was more of an adventure series than a war comic--and Larry Hama deserves ALL the credit for making it such a huge success. We hoped that Transformers would do okay, but we were amazed by the way people responded to it. Bob Budiansky’s the guy who made that happen. Does it make you proud that new generations are now familiar with G.I. Joe and Transformers, or don’t you really follow the current incarnations?
TOM: I haven’t been following the comics, but I did enjoy the first Transformers movie. I intend to see the second and the G.I. Joe film. How do the Dorling Kindersley guides and Titan interview books stretch you as a writer in ways comics don’t?
TOM: Dorling Kindersley produces coffee table books for the mass market, which requires a whole different approach to the material. While I know comic fans buy these books, I really aim them at people who are only vaguely aware of characters like Spider-Man, the Hulk and the others. As for the COMIC CREATOR books I did for Titan, they gave me a chance to learn more about my craft, the characters and the people I worked with. If I could learn new things with each book, I figured the fans would profit, too. You’ve been associated with some strong, and lasting female characters over the years, such as Betty and Veronica, Spider-Girl and even Dazzler. Has that always been a conscious choice on your part?
TOM: You forgot Silver Sable! I can’t really say it’s been a conscious choice. I just happen to love and respect women and am naturally drawn to them. Such a pity the feeling is rarely reciprocated. With Archie and more recently with Marvel the digest format has been pretty good for your series. Do you see the future of comics eventually moving away from monthlies and into different formats?
TOM: I believe the comic book medium--like all media--is in a constant state of evolution. No one knows what the future will bring so I always try to be open to anything that comes my way. I’m very excited to be working with MARVEL DIGITAL because I think that’s a very viable path that comics will be taking in the future. www.marvel.com All characters TM & © Marvel Comics, Inc. All rights reserved.
Disney and Muppets go BOOM! The relatively new publisher has made a name for itself as the new Dark Horse, merging successful adaptations of popular properties including Farscape and Warhammer, with engaging series covering every genre imaginable. Now they can add Cars, The Incredibles, Toy Story and The Muppet Show to an impressive roster. Paul Morrissey from BOOM! Studios gives us the lowdown. What do The Incredibles, Muppets and Cars bring to BOOM! that none of your other series do? An all-ages audience! That’s the easy answer, of course. But they also allow us to play with amazing worlds and characters that everyone loves and adores. These are huge franchises with a built-in audience. BOOM! is very honored to tell all-new stories featuring the likes of Mr. Incredible, Kermit and Lightning McQueen. I’m confident that fans will really like what we’ve done! Having Mark Waid write The Incredibles is a pleasant surprise. Is he on the series for a few issues? I can’t imagine a better writer for The Incredibles than Mark Waid! He combines 46
action, comedy and the family dynamics of The Incredibles masterfully. Mark’s first story arc will be four-issues long. After that, Mark’s going to mastermind two more story arcs, each being four issues in length. If my math is correct, that’s 12 issues total! With Warhammer and now Disney and Jim Henson you have some diverse properties. Was that always part of BOOM!’s game plan? Obviously, with the Disney books, we’re branching out and making a line of comics just for kids, but I think BOOM!’s plan has always been to work with properties that we’re genuinely excited about! And, you know, there might even be some crossover. I can certainly imagine that many Warhammer fans would also pick up our Incredibles and Muppet Show comics. I wish I could tell you about some of the upcoming properties we have lined up, but it’s top-secret right now! In any case, I can assure you that BOOM! is going to continue to surprise! www.boom-studios.com w w w. m a r k w a i d . c o m 47
Lexpress, the studio of writer/artist Alexis E. Fajardo has the distinction of being a publisher, “where comics and the classics converge.” That should tell you all you need to know about this unique company and the man behind it. Fajardo is obviously a man with a firm grasp of, and appreciation for, ancient tales of wonder. His on-line strip Plato’s Republic ran from 1999-2003 and was a curious mix of talking animals and philosophy. Since then he’s been primarily working on his Kid Beowulf series of original graphic novels centered on reimagined versions of characters from the legendary poem, as well as his ‘day job’ at the Charles M. Schulz Studio for Peanuts licensing. Kid Beowulf and the Blood-Bound Oath is available now, with Kid Beowulf and the Song of Roland making its debut at July’s San Diego Comic-Con. If all you know about Beowulf is a CGI Angelina Jolie, read on… Can you give us a brief history of Kid Beowulf and Lexpress? Alexis: The very first sketch I did of Kid Beowulf was back in 2001 it was done as a lark, a back-up story a friend of mine wanted to contribute to a zine he was doing. During that time I was pretty dedicated to getting my online comic strip “Plato’s Republic” syndicated, so Kid Beowulf was really just an exercise in the comic book format. My tastes invariably go to history and mythology so I decided to do a funny, action/adventure strip in the vein of Asterix (which I read when I was growing up). At the time I was rereading BEOWULF and it occurred to me that Beowulf was one of those rare characters who appears fully formed and heroic right from the start. Something about seeing what he was like as a kid seemed instantly funny to me. I really didn’t think Kid Beowulf would grow beyond the zine format. But the more I started to play with the story and hammer out the narrative, the bigger it got; before I knew it I had built up a 12 book narrative! I started pitching the idea to any publisher who would listen, but didn’t get very far (all-ages graphic novels were not the rage they are these days...), so I decided to publish it myself and that’s when I formed my studio label “Lexpress.” I learned a lot about the industry and what it takes to put together a book and really enjoyed doing it, but self-publishing is a very, very, tough business and I quickly realized that if I wanted to do the full Kid Beowulf story arc I was going to need a publisher. Lexpress remains my studio name and the banner all my separate projects live under.
What is it about epic poetry that you love? The language is very potent and it instantly conjures up very palpable images for me. The first time I read BEOWULF was in high-school and nothing I ever read prior to that ignited my mind with such incredible imagery. I still remember reading a passage that described the fire swamp Grendel’s mother lived in and the description just crystallized in my mind. I don’t know Old English and my ancient Greek is horrible, so I’m at the mercy of the skill of the translators, but even then the language of the original texts comes through in a way other types of prose does not. I also think there are similarities between epic poetry and comics. They are both the language of lines: epic poetry uses specific words and meter to conjure images that help create a unique world, much the same a way a good artist searches for that perfect pencil line or pen stroke that creates a believable universe on the page with the same efficiency and clarity. There are also similarities in the epithets used for characters in epic poetry and the symbology used in comics. For instance in the ILIAD, whenever Achilles appears he’s referred to as “the great runner Achilles” and Odysseus is known as “the great tactitian” or the “wily wanderer.” When an audience hears those phrases they know immediately who Homer is talking about, much the same way current audiences recognize superheroes by the Superman symbol or the Batman symbol, it becomes a visual shorthand to connect with readers and resonates with them in a more immediate way. It must be pretty intimidating at times to look atthese lengthy tales that have lasted through the ages! Doyou find yourself looking at your writing in the light of their ancient inspiration? I try not to think about the sheer weight of history and importance these stories have, otherwise it’d be pretty debilitating. My one reprieve is that I’m not trying to rewrite these epics or replace them, I just want to reintroduce them to a new audience. Hopefully I can tell an exciting enough story with these characters that people will get curious and want to read more and they’ll turn to the original source material. I like to think of my stories as prequels to the actual epics, so if readers want to find out what happens to a hero’s future fate they can read the epic poems.
Some of these stories are more obscure than others and I want to make them as accessible as possible, so I’ve decided to do a “prologue” for each book that is basically my own retelling of the epic poem the book is based on. That way readers can get in on
the ground floor and at least know what the basic beats of the original story are. The prologue I did for “Kid Beowulf and the Blood-Bound Oath” is the original BEOWULF poem. Currently I’m working on the prologue for “Kid Beowulf & The Song of Roland,” which will be my retelling of the Roland story. The prologue is probably the most challenging part to do because these stories are such classics and I’m basically condensing 3000 lines of poetry into eight pages. On top of that the style I draw the prologue in is more realistic than my standard “cartoony” style and that takes more time and effort. It’s a lot of fun when it finally comes together though.
What do you think these ancient characters offer that perhaps today’s superheroes can’t? In a word? Death. Epic heroes and Superheroes may perform similar deeds and may have similar narratives, but there is a clear and defined end point to the epic hero’s story. Perhaps more important is the epic hero’s own knowledge of his mortality and the choices he makes in the face of it: Achilles is given the choice to lead a long and happy life but die in obscurity, or he can live a short and tumultuous life as the greatest Greek hero, and have his name live on centuries later. Hektor knows that he will die at Achilles hands, but he is the last defender of Troy, so he must fight him anyway. Beowulf, old and gray, knows that he won’t survive the fight against the Dragon, but he’s the only one who has a chance of defeating it so he must try. Roland failed to signal for help when he should have and had to face the dire consequences because of it. And so on. As sweeping and fantastic as a superhero story might be, it always has to return to the status quo. Superman will always be back at the Daily Planet, Batman will always return to the batcave, and Spiderman will always be the lovable loser hero. There is never any real growth or realization granted to the characters, so the narrative just becomes cyclical and ultimately repetitive. The superhero stories that have come closest to the epic hero story are “Watchmen,” “Dark Knight Returns,” and “Kingdom Come.” The theme that ran through all of those books was mortality. The choices and the consequences those characters faced were as palpable as those an epic hero would face. If Marvel decides to keep Captain (Steve Rogers) America dead, then all the stories that led up to that point will have much more resonance in the light of his death and he’ll become an even greater hero because of it. What aspects of the various poems you’ve adapted did you feel had to be unchanged? Or was everything up for grabs? Well the premise for Kid Beowulf is that Beowulf and Grendel are 12-year-old twin brothers. That right there is a pretty big deviation from the original story. As different as that conceit is though, the end of the Kid Beowulf story is BEOWULF. The confrontation between Beowulf and Grendel will happen and it’s alluded to throughout the course of their adventures together. With each book they will get a little older and they will learn more about their destiny as adversaries. The real meat of the story is these two brothers dealing with the fact that one day they will have to fight each other to death.
For me, it’s all about creating a fun adventure story and pointing readers back to the original poems, that’s the launch point for my stories and place I go back to whenever I’m stuck. I’m lucky because I know how each of these stories ends, which makes writing the beginning that much easier. Why did you choose the graphic novel format rather than a series of individual issues? Doing the stories as graphic novels is the absolute best way to deliver the story and that’s where the demand is in today’s market. As a comics fan I did away with my floppies years ago and these days I just wait for the trade. As a creator I’d much rather spend a full year on a book and have the whole story available at one time than try to beat back deadlines on a monthly basis. Most important though is that the GN format is what best serves the story I’m telling. Has the reaction from readers been what you expected? Even though I’ve been working on Kid Beowulf in some form or another for the last 7 years, it’s still very much in its infancy. The first book with my new publisher “Kid Beowulf and the BloodBound Oath” was released in 2008. It’s gotten good reviews, most notably from The School Library Journal, but it’s still not that well known. It’s going to take some time for the series to build up steam, but I’m confident that it’ll find an audience. I think kids and adults are hungry for a good adventure story and that’s what Kid Beowulf is all about. How did your relationship with Bowler Hat Comics come about? I was attending the Stumptown Comics Fest in Portland, Oregon in 2006. At the time I was still self-publishing Kid Beowulf but I was looking for a publisher. Bo Johnson, the publisher of the Bowler Hat Comics was looking for a book to launch his new company with and he took a shine to Kid B. We started a dialogue and after a few months I signed a contract to produce the first Kid Beowulf trilogy with Bowler Hat. It’s been a very fruitful partnership and I look forward to it continuing.
What’s next for you? You plan to publish a few more books in the KB series, right?
There will be plenty of Kid Beowulf in the near and distant future. Currently I’m working on the second book in the series “Kid Beowulf & The Song of Roland” which will be out summer of 2009. After that I’ll have “Kid Beowulf vs. El Cid” in 2010. And the series will continue on after that taking Beowulf and Grendel into Italy, Greece, Mesopotamia, India, Japan, China and then back home again. The whole Kid Beowulf story takes place over the course of 12 books, so I’ll be at this awhile!
Extra Sequential Part 2: Evolution
sojourn it has been. And will continue to be.
When the idea of a comics mag first hit me like a turquoise wave entering my barren subconscious I was surprised I hadn’t thought of it before. “Us comic geeks love to read stuﬀ and drool at perty pictures, and Wizard has a stranglehold on the Then after all of that and despite the pull of the comics mag market. No more!” I said to myself. brain numbing call of making a pay cheque, I thought I was genius for having the concept of watching TV or just fulfilling other desires, be it creating a magazine that would cater to fanboys family, surfing (Dave) or gorging on more comics and non-nerds; a cross between Wizard and and pop culture (Kris) we did it all again for issue 2. Juxtapoz if you will. My grand ambitions soon meet a little thing called reality however, and she I believe too that this is the real acid test. To have is a harsh mistress. Working full-time as well as an idea is often eﬀortless. Inspiration by itself costs writing for 2 diﬀerent websites and a blog means I nothing, but to actually realize an idea is a tangible already spend the majority of my non-sleeping time achievement, and to do it again is to actually facing a computer. However, it’s not like I have a arrive somewhere meaningful. We are starting girlfriend or anything else to whittle away my time a journey and making something that begins with, so I thought I’d give it a shot. As I approached to live and breath and have it’s own presence! Dave at our ‘normal’ job about it, he was genuinely We have kept the ES ball rolling, moving forward intrigued. Not being a comic aficionado like myself, and increased its inertia towards the ultimate he was nonetheless slowly becoming one with the aim of producing a printed mag on a regular wonders of sequential art, thanks to my subliminal basis that is distributed across the globe in the messages. That, coupled with his creative desires Americas, Europe, Japan and even Australia! made it happen, and the odd couple was born. OK we made it. We have taken an idea, nurtured a construct and after doggedly hammering it out in numerous hours in the often solitary red eyed glow of a laptop, we brought issue 1 to glorious fruition.
I hope you’ll notice a subtle improvement in issue 2, with more pages, more elaborate quality layouts and even a new logo. We will also be refining the latitude of our content to dial into our demographic of teen to thirty something pop junkies and disclose some more behind the scenes insights and reveal non comic book stars (i.e. sportsman, actors, etc) who are sequential art junkies. So stay tuned for issue 3 to see some of these new initiatives take shape! Viva la revolucion! Dave Art Ed ES.
And on we rolled. Using InDesign for the first time and realizing the cost of printing our endeavour were not enough to deter us, and we immediately changed ES into the form you now see – a digital mag for a digital audience. So far, it’s been fun. We’ve had good feedback and it’s been satisfying to put the spotlight on indie books. They deserve it. As anyone who pursues a dream we understand that there really aren’t enough hours in the day. Well, actually, there are. It’s just that most of those hours involve doing work that’s nowhere near as satisfying. Not that we work in the coal mines or anything, but like any creative types, we dream of transforming our idle fantasies into a life sustaining pursuit. One day….
Kris Well said Dave. Truly you are a poet with a strange accent. As for myself, (Kris) I’ve enjoyed the ES E-I-C journey thus far. A long and winding road, with a few hills, dead ends and roadblocks along the way ES. Extra Sequential. Eager Sojourners. to be sure, but an exhilarating, creatively fulfilling
Green Lantern: Rebirth Review By Andy Liegl www.yourfriendandy.wordpress.com In 1970 DC charged comic book writer Denny O’Neil with revamping the super hero, Green Lantern. In 2004 the DC top brass appointed the same task to comics scribe Geoff Johns. The order was easier said than done: make Green Lantern interesting again. Not only was Johns assigned the task of reviving the shattered Green Lantern Corps., but he also was told to (literally) breathe new life into the man who destroyed the Corps: Hal Jordan, the greatest of the Green Lanterns. Enter Green Lantern: Rebirth. Rebirth is a six issue story that re-evaluates who Hal Jordan is as a man, and re-establishes the Green Lantern Corps. as a beacon of hope in the universe. As Johns states in the Rebirth Trade Paper Back, “It’s all tied into Green Lantern mythology, which is what we’re looking to restore. Everything needs to be tied back to Hal Jordan, who he was, is, and where he’s going.” Without a doubt Johns, along with artist Ethan Van Sciver, achieves these goals in Rebirth, presenting the Green Lantern mythos as a character driven sci-fi thriller. The story begins with Green Lantern Kyle Rayner (Hal Jordan’s replacement after his descent into madness as the evil being Parallax) flying a space ship out of the sun’s core. Rayner’s cargo is the coffin of Jordan, and after crash landing on Earth his ring emits a warning that would alarm even the strongest of the Green Lantern Corps: “Parallax is coming”... Meanwhile, Green Lantern John Stewart tries to convince former Lantern, Guy Gardner, that he misses being a part of the Corps. While the two attend a Red Sox/Yankees game (I won’t reveal who wins here), the previously devastated Coast City suddenly reappears out of nowhere. To make the situation even more bizarre, so does the spirit of Hal Jordan, a.k.a Green Lantern, a.k.a The Spectre, a.k.a Parallax... Geoff Johns (who, along with Van Sciver is currently reviving classic speedster Barry Allen in Flash: Rebirth) does a great job of adding depth and character to every major player in this tale, touching on how certain characters feel about the potential return of Hal Jordan; is he friend or foe? Johns presents John Stewart as an admirer of Jordan, while Batman serves as his antithesis. Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) makes an appearance in the defense of Jordan, keeping a close eye on his most precious memento; Hal’s power ring. Johns’ sole weak point in the writing is his tendency to use objects as a convention to incite will power into his characters. In Rebirth the object is the jacket of Hal’s father. Later on in the series, it will be Kyle’s attachment to a painting by his mother. While sentimental, it also comes off as a gimmick. Ethan Van Sciver’s pencils are fantastic. He thinks like a cinematographer as every panel looks like it was pulled from a movie. His clean lines make the people look realistic amongst scenic backgrounds and detailed
costumes. The fight scenes are loaded with action, and the battle between Green Lantern Kilowog and the sole surviving Guardian, Ganthet, is particularly awesome. Sciver’s statement about the uselessness of Aquaman doesn’t go unnoticed, and the only out of place shot is when Kyle Rayner attacks an enemy with a giant pencil. Not only does Kyle attack with the eraser side, but he strikes a thinking pose in the heat of battle... it’s awkward. Moose Baumann’s colors are vibrant, and play a major role in this story as color decides ones allegiance to good or evil. Moose’s work shines it’s brightest when Hal Jordan takes on one of his greatest foes; trails of light emit from the combatants giving the scene an appropriate science fiction feel. Inks by Prentis Rollins, Marlo Alquiza, Mick Gray, and Sciver are finely done. Special features in the trade include a forward by novelist/comics scribe Brad Meltzer, a variant cover gallery, Johns’ plot outline, and six pages of story previously published only in Wizard magazine. While Green Lantern: Rebirth is the perfect jumping on point for new comers to the Green Lantern mythos, it also serves as a worthy tale to long time Lantern fans. Rebirth addresses the past and resolves it, shifting the focus to the future of the Green Lantern Corps. So charge up your power ring and say the oath, because Green Lantern: Rebirth is only the beginning... w w w . d c c o m i c s . c o m
British artist Steve Pugh’s recent series, Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead is a thing of beauty. Not just the titular character herself, but the entire four issue mini-series. With
its second issue available now, the book, written by Pugh with concepts by Warren Ellis, is a sci-fi merging of punk, cop show and horror with a tough on bad guys, but easy on the eyes heroine, Alice Hotwire – Detective Exorcist and her adventures in a future London ravaged by “blue lights.” These electromagnetic ghosts are causing havoc, but that’s okay, because so is Alice. The book has been in development for years, but when you see the following pages, you’ll agree that it was worth the wait.
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century Review This third volume of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen opens at the bedside of a sweating man with feverish dreams involving a young lady swimming naked and cloaked cult members’ ambitions to create a Moonchild, whatever that may be. As the man, Tom Carnacki, the ghost finder wakes he speaks of his night-time adventures to his fellow team-mates, Orlando, A.J, Mina Murray and Allan Quartermain. Thus we are introduced to the latest batch of “gentlemen.” This has been an extraordinary series from the outset. Well, mostly. Writer Alan Moore (Watchmen, From Hell) and artist Kevin O’Neill unleashed their concept of famed adventurers from the annals of literature upon the world in 1999. Mina Harker, from Bram Stoker’s Dracula was tasked by British Intelligence to form a team and gathered Allan Quartermain, Dr. Jekyll, Captain Nemo and others along the way to saving London. The second volume was a great tie-in to H.G Wells’ War of the Worlds, which was followed by a stand-alone graphic novel entitled The Black Dossier. Dossier was not the high point that the first two series were, mainly due to its varied narrative and frequent use of Moore extras such as prose pieces, letters, maps and the like. The greatest asset throughout the series has been the constant relationship of Harker and Quartermain in the diﬀerent time periods. Dossier was light on that but did fill in some details about other incarnations of the League, reminding comic readers again that Moore is no slouch when it comes to research. Not nearly as accessible as the first two volumes, Century is the first to be published by Top Shelf, instead of DC Comics. This is the first in a trilogy of 80 page one-shots, with this introduction set in 1910. The next one will delve into the swinging 60s, with the finale set in the present day. That prospect intrigues me. However, this isn’t the Leagues’ greatest outing, though I am curious to see where it goes. O’Neill’s harsh lines are perfect to Moore’s creation, with it’s dark humour, nudity and brutal violence and he makes the most with the dirty world they inhabit. League has always been unashamedly gritty and multi-layered, like most of Moore’s work, but League has always been, not surprisingly, his most literary series. You either feel smarter for having read it, or dumber for not grasping the references to works of fiction scattered throughout each page. Students of literature will continue to have a field day with this series. The problem with Century is that there is simply too much going on. I know doubting Moore’s genius is like slapping Shakespeare, but whereas the first two volumes were just manic fun with a boy’s own adventure feel stamped all over it, this feels unnecessarily complex. The number of characters is greater than a Cecil B. DeMille film and the League gets diluted because of it. Saying that, I’ll attempt to break down the plot as best I can. Here goes… The woman from Tom’s dream, Jenny Diver walks past a popular reproduction of Captain Nemo’s impressive battle ship, Nautilus and discovers from Nemo’s old friend Ishmael that the Captain’s last wish was to give his recently changed beauty of a ship to his only child. The crew need a Captain, but the stubborn woman doesn’t want to be any such thing. She eventually changes her mind for some reason and goes on a mad rampage. Tom, along with Mina, new League member Orlando (known as he-she, behind his/her back), thief A.J Raffles and Quartermain (who is introduced as his own son to avoid suspicions of his newly gained immortality presumably) visit the Merlin Society. While the team wanders around a room full of occultists, A.J does some snooping around and the team discover Doomsday premonitions from magicians Simon Iﬀ and Oliver Haddo. Tom eventually barges into the cult’s HQ and sees the events of his dream played out before him -almost. Amongst all this, there’s plenty of singing from various
characters espousing exposition, claims that Orlando posed for the Mona Lisa, and wields the famed sword Excalibur, the return of a nasty serial killer and a meeting with Andrew Norton a figurative prisoner of London. All of these characters and more are from old novels, though don’t ask me which ones, and they do serve a purpose in moving the story. However I think Moore needed to restrain himself. The majority of the scenes, and singing, just appear indulgent. This could have been a tale with fewer pages and it would have been a lot less shambolic. References to actual events of the time, such as King George V’s coronation, as well as the events of the brilliant previous series help give this perspective, but it’s not enough. Fans of Watchmen will be familiar with typical Moore devices, particularly the panels that are filled with details that go over this uneducated fanboy’s head. After reading Century, I’m still a fan, but one of the earlier, and simpler tales. I don’t mean to say that I’m a fan of the much-diluted film version (which made Sean Connery retire from cinema) but Century has gone too far the other way. This is strictly for League lovers only. However, I am curious to see where the next two one-shots venture forth. League is far too grand an idea to let go just yet. www.topshelfcomix.com
Neozoic was one of the first series from new publisher Red 5, back in late 2007. Since then, the publisher has created further success with series like Atomic Robo and Abyss. Neozoic is where it began though, and the 8 issue mini-series is now collected in Trade Paperback form. Written by Red 5 co-founder Paul Ens with art by J. Korim, Neozoic presents a world strangely different from our own. Due to the dinosaur killing meteor hitting the moon instead of the earth, humans and dinosaurs now share the same planet. A fantastic premise that may conjure images of Planet of the Apes for some, Neozoic distances itself by crafting an intriguing world run by humans who have learnt to adapt and survive over the millennia, as they forge a basic world in which theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re surrounded by a variety of toothy beasts. Lilli Murko is the protagonist and leader of the Donti Squad of the Predator Defense League, a team trained to keep dinosaurs from developing a taste for human snacks. Set primarily inside and in the lands around Monanti City, the series follows Lilli and her squad as they investigate recent erratic behaviour of the ancient beasts, as well as the discovery of a girl called Milo, from an underground tribe known as the Talpid.
When Lilli drops off the lonely girl to her devout father and sister, the dinosaurs gather on Monanti City and start attacking, with the Talpid warriors led by Master Baas close behind, seeking to claim the city as their own by destroying the royal family. Lilli wants the girl safe, but is pretty much the only one, until she and wall maker Pax flee the city for the forest and find an ancient community filled with outcasts, and discover Milo’s telepathic abilities. As more facts about both races are uncovered, enemies become friends and friends become enemies, and battles ensue between men and monsters, and men and men. And women. Imagine if Peter Jackson had made a Mad Max sequel after Lord of the Rings, and then Steven Spielberg told him to replace the cars with dinosaurs. That’s Neozoic. The action scenes are laid out on the page with great gusto and the blood flows freely. With some great turns this tale allows everyone to become the enemy at some point. It’s not just the huge salivating beasts that are the main concern. Every character has to watch their back. This is a great series and one that easily entices you into its fantastic world. The characters are all distinctive enough, with real motivations, and there is no barbarian talk. Lilli is obviously the star of the show (and it’s great to see an Asian female protagonist) but her team-mates and family members aren’t cardboard cut outs. Even with the brief page time some of them receive, they are treated with great care by Ens. Korim’s costume designs are very creative and practical in this stripped back existence, and the artist makes every battle scene come alive with frantic energy. Jessie Lam’s nuanced colouring really helps sell the setting too. The whole creative team sell the setting well in fact, with its cratered moon and use of words like Triety instead of God, and dinosaur types with names like amido, nychee and tigras, instead of what we’d refer to as whatever-saurus. It’s a world just out of reach with its great alternate history platform. Fans of fully realised fantasy worlds and hard core action must sink their fangs in to the 216 page Neozoic TPB. It’s tasty and will leave you hungry for more. And since this is only Volume 1, you may just be in luck.
Marking the 30 anniversary of Joe Jusko’s illustrious career is Desperado Publishing’s new book, The Art of Joe Jusko. Known for his stunningly realistic paintings inhabiting every genre imaginable the artist opens up classic and brand new art including sketches, comics, book covers and more for the tome, that also includes tutorials. The impressive 328 page art extravaganza is available now. Also available from Desperado is the 312 page book, Archetype: The Art of Tim Bradstreet, who’s known for his impressive covers on The Punisher and Hellblazer. th
Jusko somehow managed to pick his faves from his impressive career and oﬀered up the reasons why. You may begin drooling now.
TOMB RAIDER My first and favorite Tomb Raider painting. I wanted an image that captured everything Lara and I think I succeeded here. It’s proven to be an iconic image that was nominated for a 2001 Chesley Award.
MEGAN “100 Bullets” I very seldom get a chance to do a straight B&W piece so this was a joy. I love Eduardo Risso’s work and wanted to match the look of his work in the book as closely as possible while still keeping it mine. Unfortunately, while I thought it might have gotten me more assignments of this nature that just didn’t happen.
IN THE CLUTCHES OF THE BLOOD RED QUEEN OF HEARTS Just a really powerful graphic image that glows off of the cover. I got to play with high intensity color and paint an homage to the classic Gonzales/Enric poster from the 70â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s. What more could a life long Vampi fan like me want?
THE INCREDIBLE HULK John Buscema was, and is my comic art god and the reason I got into comics in the first place. This was the first time I got to paint over his pencils (I had inked a story a couple of years earlier) and I relished the opportunity. This is the second version painted for the Marvel Theme Park. The original appeared on the cover of The Hulk Hulk!! magazine #26.
CUDDLE THE CORPSE This one of my homages to 1960â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s paperback art. I love that era of illustration and wish I could have working during that period. Artists such as Bob McGinnis, Bob Abbett and Robert McGuire painted literally hundreds and hundreds of covers (McGinnis painted over a thousand himself) that are only today finally getting the respect they deserve.
TARZAN AND THE G
My (to date) ultimate fine art wildlife paintin publishing company, w to come.
The Art of Joe Jusko is ÂŠ Jo
Tarzan painting. It’s a large private commission piece (26”x38”) that I approached as more of a ng than a fantasy or adventure piece. The commissioner liked the painting so much he started a www.theforestprimeval.com and released it as a high end giclee and lithograph, with more pieces
oe Jusko, 2009. All rights reserved. www.desperadopublishing.com
The world of comic books, like any world with a devoted fan base, can appear somewhat confusing to the outsider. The Terminal is a regular feature that will define the common terms used in comic circles. In other words, this is the geek speak you need to know. CCG – Comics Guaranty Company. A company that specialises in appraising the quality of individual issues. Grades range from 1 to 10 (being the best). The better the grade the more the issue is worth. Retcon – Retroactive continuity. Continuity is what is known as ‘canon’ in other media, ie, a widely accepted story or truth to a particular character or story. A controversial issue, as continuity can be changed according to the whim of a new editor or writer. This is known as a retcon, when
an event is now stated to not have occurred at all, or occurred differently than previously published. For example, Supermanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s origin has been retconned several times over the decades. At times, his powers developed during his adult life, but according to other stories he developed powers as a teenager, thus becoming Superboy first and then later, Superman. At times Clark Kent and Lex Luthor knew each other as children in Smallville and at other times they first met as adults in Metropolis. Comic Strip â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Usually self contained stories published exclusively in newspapers, and told in only a few panels, such as Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes. However strips like The Phantom, and Modesty Blaise tell a continual story.
DMZ Volume 6: Blood in the Game Review
overseas militarism has resulted in their inability to quell domestic anti-government insurgents. Although events leading up to the DMZ aren’t ever explained in detail, the U.S army fails to beat the By Mladen Luketin www.myspace.com/ “Free Armies” push eastward towards New York, resulting in a stalemate. The Free States can’t purgeaudit take a city so large, and the U.S army can’t defend The newest volume from what is perhaps currently it. After a haphazard and incomplete evacuation, Vertigo’s (and Brian Wood’s) most popular title, more than 400,000 non-combatant civilians are DMZ (De-Militarised Zone), doesn’t disappoint. stranded in the De-Militarised Manhattan zone between, and America as a whole disowns them, For those unfamiliar with DMZ, the series is and the partially devastated city. set in a near-future New York where America’s
Into this situation, enters Matty Roth, a young, untried war journalist, who becomes stuck in the city, and in between everyday survival, is attempting to report the reality and injustice of the situation to the outside. In his way stands his own one-sided news corporation, rogue New York insurgent groups, Trustwell Corporation and its self-serving ‘re-building’ agenda, the U.S. military, the Free States, the betrayed and untrusting Manhattan locals, and Matty’s own personal ignorance and cowardice. In this volume, Matty is covering a farcical election being organised by the U.S and the Free-states to determine a new government for the DMZ. Things take a turn as newcomer Parco Delgado dramatically throws himself into the race, claiming to represent the interests of the citizens of the DMZ. Matty attempts to find out the truth of this revolutionary character, and as momentum builds for the campaign and various parties attempt to put a stop to Delgado by any means necessary, Matty must decide whether he can remain an impartial journalist when faced with a man who, for the first time, seems to have the wants and needs of the DMZ’s citizens in mind. The volume’s climax comes with an expectedly terrifying and frustrating election night, the result of which will permanently change the face of the DMZ, as well as the future of the series. Riccardo Burchielli’s artwork, although always tight and grungy, appears to have relaxed and gone more low-key, lacking some of the punch and clarity of previous volumes. Don’t get me wrong though, the work is still of a high quality and very expressive, and stands out for its rough and instinctive texture, as well as its unique style. Vertigo has definitely lately been presenting a lot of work in a similar style, notably R.M. Guera (Scalped), Leonard Manco (Hellblazer) and Davide Gianfelice (Northlanders). To complement DMZ’s interior art, Brian Wood himself creates the covers for the series, in appealing and eye-catching street-art style. The team-up of writer and artist is perfect for this sort of series. The main strength of Wood’s writing is in its presentation of personal stories. The struggle on a larger scale is basically second-tier to the eﬀect on the cities’ inhabitants. Revealing and disturbing, it forces us to engage with the eﬀect that our real-life wars have on the frustrated people who are stranded in the middle. The characters in DMZ are all well-written, the dialogue punchy and intelligent, and the story is absolutely engaging and human. The series is definitely for adults, but more because of the complicated subject matter and story, and NOT due to anything like the so-called ‘adult’ violent shock tactics that other modern comics writers like Warren Ellis or Garth Ennis resort to. At times Wood slips into some overly simple criticisms, but let’s be honest here, a series like DMZ was never going to be pro-status-quo, and Wood fairly levels his critical eye at every single group and person in the series. Everybody is far from perfect, and that’s exactly the point. How can a society believe that a perfect government could ever come from imperfect individuals? But over and over again end, Wood’s DMZ proves that it’s worth trying, even in the face of corruption, capitalist manipulation, fear and ignorance. A seriously top notch series for those who want more from their comics, Volume 6 of DMZ is the perfect jumping in point for new readers and if you like what DMZ oﬀers, also take a look at “The Other Side” by Jason Aaron & Cameron Stewart (2007, Vertigo), “Shooting War” by Anthony Lappe & Dan Goldman (2008, Grand Central Publishing), or pretty much anything else by Brian Wood.
Publisher Cinebook aims to set itself apart from its spandex focused brethren by bringing popular comics from European nations to an English speaking audience. This year, they will add a total of eight new series to their growing catalogue of unique properties, which already includes titles such as Largo Winch, Lucky Luke and Thorgal. The first 48 page volume of Pandora’s Box is out now and is written by Alcante with art by Didier Pagot. As the U.S Presidential campaign heats up, it appears that Narcissus Shimmer will claim certain victory. Private eye Ron Grubb is tasked by Shimmer’s opposition to dig up dirt and bring the man down. However, the story is much more complex than that simple premise. With the birth of a secret child who could be the world’s first clone, the ethics of hunger for power and the ties between sin and Greek mythology and technology, Pandora’s Box is anything but standard stuﬀ. Pandora’s Box © Dupuis- Alcante & Pigot www.cinebook.com
Popgun Volume 3 Cover by Tara McPherson. Image courtesy of Image Comics. 472 page anthology. www.popguncomics.com