As it makes its way to Emerald City Comicon in Seattle (March 2-5, 2017), Dark Horse Comics announces new plans for their latest Hatsune Miku manga license. The first of two Hatsune Miku: Future Delivery volumes is scheduled for a October 4, 2017 release with writer Satoshi Oshio and artist Hugin Miyama, the team behind the Overlord manga adaptation, telling the story first featured in their 2014 hit.
EXTREMITY #1, written and drawn by Daniel Warren Johnson (SPACE MULLET and GHOST FLEET), with colors by Mike Spicer, lettering by Rus Wooton, is a comic that quickly builds and never lets up. If you like heroic tales, this one delivers and then some. It has a high quirk factor that will bring to mind such visionary art as that of Studio Ghibli; and it has a fierce intensity that will bring to mind such bloody action as that found in Mad Max. It all adds up to just the right mix for another successful all-new Skybound Original.
A good revenge story involves a great injustice that needs to be confronted. In this case, the Roto Clan has been tragically wronged by the Paznina. The setting alone dazzles the eye: floating worlds, bizarre flying contraptions, behemoth machines, and monsters. Our main character, Thea, is very compelling. On her young shoulders rests most, if not all, of this powerful story. And, keep in mind, before all hell broke loose, she would have liked nothing more than to be tucked away in a calm and quiet spot drawing in her sketchbook.
Panel excerpt from EXTREMITY #1
With this first issue, we see that artist/writer Daniel Warren Johnson is already delivering on his plan to lay out what happens when a family goes on a vengeful rampage. Will things ever be the same again? Once blood spills, what does it do to the victors who aspired to right a wrong? This is a comic that does not hesitate to provide action but also has the ability to pull back to see a bigger picture.
Emerald City Comicon 2017, here in Seattle, is fast approaching. It is a four-day event starting Thursday, March 2nd, and running through Sunday, March 5th. It is certainly a big deal for us locals as well as the Pacific Northwest and all points beyond. Image Comics will make a significant showing this year with a rare gathering of its founders to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Image Comics. This special panel is scheduled for Friday, March 3rd. Be sure to come to ECCC to see Image Comics founders Todd McFarlane, Jim Valentino, Erik Larsen, Rob Liefeld, Marc Silvestri and Whilce Portacio.
Alex de Campi, author of Smoke/Ashes, Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight, Lady Zorro, Valentine, and more.
“Living is hard. Creating is harder. I am here for you on the weeks you write zero words and the weeks you only write 500 and the weeks it all flows out of you like salt water and you’ve written 10,000. I see you when you look back over it and wonder if any of it is any damn good at all. Keep it. It’s good. Keep going. You can edit when you are done.”
You are so right, Alex! The above words are from a writer who knows the struggle front and back. I am with you, Alex. As a writer and artist, I get kicked twice. Do I have good work out there for people to see? Of course! Look here! Do I stop and ponder what happens next? Sure. But I’ve been at this long enough where I am not seeking approval. I am not asking permission to create. And, best of all, I am never stopping. Criticism, I have come to see time and time again, is all too often faulty. You take what you need from reviews. You take what you need from rejections. And you take what you need when you do get that beloved approval. Alright, with all that said, I share with you one of the most insightful panels on the whole business of comics. It came on the last day, on the last hour, of Emerald City Comicon: Running Your Career Like a Business, moderated by Marissa Louise.
The Business of Comics. Yes, it’s not all fun and games, as the actual creators of pop culture content can tell you. Consider this: legendary artists on iconic characters like Batman and Superman can be found at conventions doing sketches for forty dollars just so they can keep up with their medical bills. It’s not a pretty picture but that is what can happen to some in the comics industry. Rest assured, comics is an industry even at the indie level. It’s just a matter of how savvy you strive to be.
The general rule of thumb is that you want to mix and match what you do. Sure, everyone wants to be part of one of the superhero properties they grew up with as a kid. Who doesn’t want to work on a Spider-Man book? Just keep in mind that it will be more of an honor than a financial boon. However, the name recognition helps to bring readers over to your own original project. A cycle begins. Your creator-owned work will catch the eyes of the big publishers leading to another big title project. Rinse and repeat.
C. Spike Trotman and David Walker
Down the road, you gain in stature, your work is in demand, and you get paid what you deserve. As the panelists were quick to point out, there will be many bumps in the road. Even when you make it, you will still fall, and you need to prepare to make it again. David Walker shared his story about writing for the popular Marvel Comics revival of “Power Man and Iron Fist.” “It’s like the monkey’s paw. Be careful what you wish for. I signed over a thousand books for fans this weekend. But I did not actually sell any books.”
One of the biggest questions posed by aspiring creatives is, “How does it all start?” Alex de Campi offered up the quote by Peter Schjeldahl: “You move to a city. You hang out in bars. You form a gang, turn it into a scene, and turn that into a movement.” But, just as essential, de Campi was quick to emphasize: “You need to be careful about contracts. Get a good attorney!”
C. Spike Trotman of Iron Circus Comics, the most successful cartoonist on Kickstarter with a number of quality projects funded, is the first to say that the indie route is great but it will be a slow process. Leila del Duca, a member of the creative collective, Helioscope, would recommend working as a group if possible but she seemed just as open to working alone. In many ways, there is no one road map to success. And, as artist Alison Sampson will tell you, at some point, you need to do what your heart tells you to do. At age 46, Sampson returned to her love of comics and she has no regrets.
Ultimately, remain fierce. Things will fall into place in due time.
The Shadow Knows! “I see a Batman in your future.”
Pulp fiction, at its peak in the ’20s and ’30s, is an often misunderstood phenomena. However, the pulps are very much still with us: accessible, iconic, and familiar, just like they were always meant to be. They have certainly evolved from the thrilling days of yesteryear. What began with the pulps made its way into other media: comics, radio, movies, and television. Pulp provided the source. Some pulp writers crossed over to other media. Other writers were influenced by the pulps. And some writers simply took characters and stories directly from the pulps and transferred them to other media. Think of it this way: Doc Savage is Superman; The Shadow is Batman. Plus a whole lot more going on. In a fascinating panel discussion at Emerald City Comicon, Rob Salkowitz moderated a conversation between comics scholar Greg Hatcher, artist Dan Schkade (The Spirit), and writer Chris Roberson (The Shadow, iZombie).
The Pulp Roots of Today’s Comics and Entertainment
Rob Salkowitz asked each panelist to name their favorite pulp character and the answers help give you a window into the appeal. For Chris Roberson, his favorite is Doc Savage. He said that growing up in the ’70s was a perfect time for a kid to read the pulps since there was a boom in avenues for distribution but limited content. So, Chris got to enjoy all the reprints of Tarzan, Conan, and Doc Savage he could ever want to read. This, of course, left a tremendous impression upon the budding young writer.
Moderator Rob Salkowitz, Greg Hatcher, and Dan Schkade
It was great to see Dan Schkade, with his witty enthusiasm, be quick to say that the best character in pulps is The Shadow. But his personal favorite character is The Avenger, “the dead middle between Doc Savage and The Shadow, both similar and less than the sum of their parts. He’s just so creepy with his dead face that he molds to look like other people. And his weapons, a switchblade and a Mauser, which he’s given first names to.”
And Greg Hatcher, coming from a historian’s point of view, recalled as a boy seeing his first comic books based on the pulps and immediately hitting the library to do research! His favorite pulp character is The Spider. “As Will Murray used to say, it was the good kids who read The Shadow; and it was the bad kids who read The Spider. There was this incredible hell-for-leather deranged momentum behind a Spider story. For the main character, Richard Wentworth, each Spider mission was personal!”
“Legends of New Pulp Fiction,” from editor Ron Fortier and Airship 27
The subject of pulp fiction is definitely not one to take lightly. Once you make one assumption, there is always something else to consider. For instance, while pulp fiction was designed to have broad appeal that did not mean that all stories were the same or of a low quality. In fact, there are numerous examples of great writing in the pulps. Great writers first began in the pulps: Ray Bradbury, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond, Chandler, and James M. Cain, to name a few. At one point, Schkade made a brilliant observation regarding how pulp is presented today. “Many people have the misconception that pulp is inextricably linked to the past, that everything has to have a retro look to it. But, when you think about it, the stories during the pulp era were set in the present.”
Pulp is with us more than you may know. Consider any number of fantastic, hard-hitting, action-packed stories that you read or view today, and they will owe something to pulp fiction. The grandest examples: Indiana Jones, Avatar, and Star Wars. The interest in pulps is tremendous and it is not an exaggeration to say that it has never let up since its earliest days. In fact, that is the deepest well of them all for fan fiction. Since the ’60s, there has been a growing New Pulp movement with fans creating their own versions of their favorite pulp stories. One recent anthology that will be of interest to you is “Legends of New Pulp Fiction,” which you can find on Amazon right here. It is a dazzling collection that includes a story by Greg Hatcher. This is a special benefit anthology. Proceeds from the book go to benefit New Pulp writer/editor/publisher Tommy Hancock suffering from congestive heart-failure. You can learn more about this right here.
Faith Erin Hicks is one determined and dedicated cartoonist. She has created a remarkable output of work which includes the graphic novel, “Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong,” with Prudence Shen, which began as a webcomic later to be published by First Second as a graphic novel. And “The Adventures of Superhero Girl,” also a webcomic turned into a graphic novel, published by Dark Horse Comics.
A lot of Faith’s work began as webcomics. In fact, that is how it all began. She just drew, and drew, and drew, and posted her work. In this interview, I chat with Faith about her work in webcomics and we also focus in on her current title, “The Nameless City,” just published by First Second Books.
There is more to this story so be on the lookout for “The Stone Heart.” I hope you enjoy this conversation which took place today at Emerald City Comicon.
Roy and Mac are your next favorite offbeat characters. They aren’t on Netflix or HBO yet. But that’s perfectly fine as the deadpan humor works quite well in its original form as comics. Welcome to “The Fix,” a new ongoing series published by Image Comics. These guys aren’t even smart enough to be true wise guys. The closer they get to those in power in the crime world, the more out of their league they show themselves to be. But, hey, you do what you gotta do.
Crime just doesn’t pay like it used to.
If you’re so inept at being a criminal, but you know it’s your calling, what do you do? You keep setting the bar lower until you reach your comfort zone. That may require setting the bar on the floor. That’s what Roy and Mac do when they decide to rob a retirement community. It had come to their attention that a certain elder hoodlum had a nice stash of old-fashioned cash just waiting to be stolen from his room. But first Roy and Mac must get over the shock of witnessing subpar playing of bingo. And just where is the supervisor, on some extended break?
Yes, this is quirky crime fiction, the sort you find in an Elmore Leonard novel. But you also find it in comics like “Criminal,” by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips; as well as “100 Bullets,” by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso. For “The Fix,” writer Nick Spencer and artist Steve Lieber team up again since their days working on another title with quirky humor, “The Superior Foes of Spider-Man.” Notice all the nuanced touches like when Roy and Mac must confront Donovan, a bloodthirsty killer demanding the money they owe him. They repeatedly encounter a needle-scratching-record blank face response from him when they dare to bring up the subject of murder.
What are these two guys up to anyway? Well, they don’t really know. It’s more a go-with-the-flow plan they follow. They’re in law enforcement because, of course, that’s just a means to an end. Mostly, they avoid work and get away with whatever they possibly can. However, those unfocused carefree days are numbered. Enter a dog named Pretzels.
“The Fix” is available as of April 6th. For more details visit Image Comics right here.
Our friends over at Dynamite Entertainment have a fun announcement to make at Emerald City Comicon. On the first day of ECCC, it was announced that comic book writer Van Jensen (The Green Lantern Corps, The Flash) will write a new wrinkle in the Six Million Dollar Man franchise with his all-new series, “The Six Million Dollar Man: Fall of Man,” with the first issue set for release July 13th.
Joshua Boulet, one of the many hometown heroes you will find at HOMETOWN HEROES
I have always admired local artist Joshua Boulet. Check out this little feature I did on him a while back. I love his spirit and his style. So glad he is part of this awesome Seattle event, HOMETOWN HEROES, which celebrates the independent spirit in comics and other aspects of local Seattle culture. What’s wrong with that? Nothing at all! Party on! This is a FREE all ages event where pictures, music, lights, and words collide.
There is going to be a lot of heavy traffic in comics next week with Emerald City Comicon. So, add to the festivities by heading out to HOMETOWN HEROES.
Featuring art and stories by//
80% Studios’ Dimi Macheras and Casey Silver
Jason T. Miles
Morgan J.K. Brown
with MORE to be revealed as we get closer to the event!
HOMETOWN HEROES is presented by Nemesis Enforcer and 80% Studios and is a unique opportunity to mix and mingle and learn about the vibrant Seattle underground comix scene. Maybe you’ll make a new friend. Maybe you’ll buy some cool art. The night is yours to enjoy and make the most of. As an added bonus, 80% Studios will be releasing the 5th issue of Seattle’s premiere local comic book anthology, Nemesis Enforcer.
For more details, visit our friends at HOMETOWN HEROES right here.
From ECCC’s TALES FROM THE CON by Brad Guigar and Scoot McMahon
Where do great ideas come from? They come from all over! There is no one community, no one magical place. But great talent does gather at different times and different places. Consider Emerald City Comicon. So, some fans can get out of control as demonstrated in the above cartoon by Brad Guigar and Scoot McMahon. But, the fact is, we’re all in this together. Everyone has their own particular interest and passion. And there is plenty is find at ECCC.
ECCC 2016 Postcard
Indeed, there you will find an enormous gathering of creative and entertaining folk in comics and related pop culture. If you are in Seattle, the place to be is ECCC from Thursday, April 7th, through Sunday, April 10th. For more details, visit our friends at ECCC right here.
Elden Henson (DAREDEVIL)
You will definitely find a wide spectrum of talent. In comics, you will find an impressive array of folks: Chris Burnham (BATMAN INCORPORATED), Faith Erin Hicks (THE NAMELESS CITY), Matthew Southworth (STUMPTOWN), Colleen Frakes (PRISON ISLAND). The list goes on.
And, in other entertainment: Nathan Fillion (FIREFLY), Gigi Edgley (FARSCAPE), Elden Henson (DAREDEVIL), Norman Reedus (THE WALKING DEAD). And, again, the list goes on. I look forward to providng you with full coverage. As both an enthusiast, a reviewer, and a creator, I will guarantee you a full perspective on the many fun things going on at ECCC. So, see you there or see you here again soon. Yes, the place to be is ECCC.