French publisher Dargaud caused plenty of buzz when it announced last month a two-volume Batman graphic novel by legendary European comics creator Enrico Marini (Le Scorpion, Eagles of Rome, Gipsy). By itself, that is exciting news. But there was no news about a simultaneously published English version. Perhaps that was a secret that can only now be revealed. DC has just announced that it will be publishing this work, entitled, “Batman: The Dark Prince Charming.” Now, that’s some Batman news!
With this work, Enrico Marini will make his American comics and mainstream superhero debut. If you’ve seen his work for “Le Scorpion,” for instance, you can expect some cool swagger. And Batman will need all his confidence for this new story as he confronts his arch-nemesis The Joker. According to the DC press release, what distinguishes this story from other Batman tales is that this time, “it’s personal!” When has it not been personal when it comes to these two characters? Whatever the case, this time, Batman is…European! And let’s not lose sight of another character in this tale: Catwoman! I will have more to say about Catwoman in an upcoming post.
Here is the official description of the story according to DC:
What secret connection do both Batman and The Joker share with a strange and mysterious young girl? After she’s kidnapped by The Joker, Batman must plunge deep into the underworld of Gotham City and race against time to find out where she’s being held. The stakes are high, and for Batman, it’s personal!
MARINI’s GOTHAM CITY!
Pretty cool news however you spin it! Book one of Batman: The Dark Prince Charming will be in stores on November 1, 2017. Look for book two coming in spring 2018!
“Wonder Woman” is simply the movie to see rounding out its third weekend with U.S. sales at $275 million and $570 million worldwide. You may have noticed there are a lot of showings, including 3D and 4DX versions, and they sell out quickly. All of this is for very good reason. This Wonder Woman movie is very sharp and Gal Gadot in the main role commands the screen at all times, even more so, I dare say, than a Ben Affleck or a Henry Cavill. That had to be part of the thinking behind this first ever Wonder Woman major motion picture. The stumbling block all these decades was supposed to have something to do with whether or not a Wonder Woman movie could ever deliver the box office of a Superman or Batman movie. The answer is YES!
Yes, Wonder Woman can Kick Ass!
“Wonder Woman,” directed by Patty Jenkins, is certainly one of those exceptional movie events. It comes out of that urgent need to get it right. The most brilliant step in getting it right was to set the story during World War I. When was the last time you saw a major motion picture set during WWI? Any young person walking in to see this movie would shrug. There have been a select few, including 2004’s “A Very Long Engagement,” starring Audrey Tautou. The original Wonder Woman comic book was inextricably linked to World War II since it came out during that era. But to rework that same terrain would have been dreadfully tiresome for many a fan. Setting things back to an entirely different epoch opens up different and more compelling options, bringing it all back to basics in a very intriguing way. What could be better than to have a young and idealistic goddess confront “the war to end all wars”? I can imagine that being the pitch to the story by Zack Snyder (Man of Steel) that was fleshed out in the screenplay by Allan Heinberg (Grey’s Anatomy).
HOLLYWOOD, CA – MAY 25: Actors Gal Gadot (L) and Lynda Carter attend the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Wonder Woman” at the Pantages Theatre on May 25, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
The beauty of “Wonder Woman” is how purposeful it is. Yes, we are dealing with the inevitable origin story. But that becomes a big plus as this is used to full advantage. The opening scenes set in Themyscira, the idyllic world that Wonder Woman comes from, have a refreshing vibe to them. There is a certain amount of dutiful explaining going on but, right from the start, we see quick and steady progress from our main character. We see Diana, the little girl, get the early training she demands. In no time, she has grown into a young woman more powerful than even she could imagine. And, all the while, this phase of Diana’s life, comes across not as merely backstory but as essential. Most importantly, there is a sense of urgency and suspense. In a different era, not too long ago (not exactly over with), this depiction of a female paradise could have easily fallen prey to titillation. More harmful than any supervillain, that would have been the worst sucker punch Wonder Woman could have endured.
Yes, a Wonder Woman can be VERY SUCCESSFUL and POPULAR!
So, let me jump to my big point. I went to see this movie with my 21-year-old daughter. She was not really all that aware of the Wonder Woman TV show, starring Lynda Carter. I tried to explain that it was part of its era, the ’70s, and less enlightened. It was too easy to make Wonder Woman a sex symbol for that show. And my daughter quickly picked up on that and said she appreciated how this new Wonder Woman was not sexualized in that way. I also mentioned that I have read more than one account, over the years, of women claiming to have been inspired as little girls by the spinning Lynda Carter did on the show to magically transform into a superhero. Girls would spin and spin and spin. Again, my daughter picked up on that. She said she was more interested in Gal Gadot’s impressive Taekwondo kicks. I am sure that Lynda Carter would understand.
“Wonder Woman” offers a whole new way for girls to be inspired. They no longer have to just spin and spin and spin. What a remarkable job this movie does in playing catch-up. Had a movie just like this come out in Lynda Carter’s heyday, it would have been hailed as nothing short of revolutionary. Superman and Batman movies have dominated the pop culture landscape for decades having left a Wonder Woman movie at a considerable disadvantage. How this movie overcomes that, with a genuinely inspiring main character, clearly demonstrates that there is a demand of strong and powerful female characters. In fact, the revolution continues and this movie manages to depict Wonder Woman as leading the way.
“Wonder Woman” is distributed by Warner Bros. Visit the official Wonder Woman movie site right here.
I still remember the sting and utter humiliation during an improv class when I was asked to tell a joke and I froze. I thought I knew what to expect from acting and improv but I wasn’t ready that night to tell a simple joke! Now, I have discovered a fine book that I wish I had with me all long: THE OFFICIAL DC SUPER HERO JOKE BOOK! This book will save your comedic bacon no matter what your age and is published by Downtown Bookworks.
Page from THE OFFICIAL DC SUPER HERO JOKE BOOK
There are more than 600 puns, knock-knocks, one-liners, riddles, gags, and tongue twisters! Use it at parties. Use it on dates, depending on the date, of course. And definitely use it to bring a smile to anyone’s face. How about a way to get a rambunctious kid’s attention? Everyone loves a good joke. This book is chock full of them in an eye-popping colorful presentation.
Page from THE OFFICIAL DC SUPER HERO JOKE BOOK
As you can see from the samples, these are smart and funny jokes. A little here about the authors: Noah Smith is a comedy writer who has worked for Saturday Night Live; Sarah Parvis is a children’s book author; and Michael Robin is an author and librarian.
THE OFFICIAL DC SUPER HERO JOKE BOOK is a full color 176-page trade paperback for ages 6 and up, published by Downtown Bookworks. You can also find it at Amazon right here.
“How to Draw Sci-Fi Utopias and Dystopias” by Prentis Rollins
I want to share with you a book that really speaks to me as an artist and storyteller. I’d been meaning to write a review of it for quite some time and then it struck me last night as to what to say here. This is one of those books with the goal of art instruction that really gets it! And it is considerably helped along by its niche focus! Are you into science fiction? Would you like to draw work that perfectly fits into that genre? Well, then, here’s the book for you: “How to Draw Sci-Fi Utopias and Dystopias” by Prentis Rollins, published by Monacelli Press.
This is the ultimate guide for illustrators at all levels on how to fine tune their sci-fi imagery. You get the very best advice from Prentis Rollins, a DC Comics veteran (Rebirth, Supergirl, and Batman: The Ultimate Evil). Given the opportunity, I would love to pick his brain. But, let me tell you, this book is the next best thing as Rollins takes a very accessible and conversational tone throughout his instruction filled to the brim with examples. There are 32 step-by-step case studies in all created and imagined especially for this book.
Whether you are attempting to create a compelling utopia or dystopia, it all comes back to basics. Here is a book that goes through the building blocks all the way to sophisticated techniques to really rock your world. Rollins is certainly not alone in stressing a need to master the fundamentals before veering off to pursue your own thing. In fact, he implores you to not rely too heavily upon emulating the work of others. However, he also emphasizes the very real need to be inspired by others.
For Rollins, he has two main influences: American artist Syd Mead (Blade Runner, Star Trek: The Motion Picture); and the Swiss surrealist painter H.R. Giger (Alien). As Rollins is quick to point out, these two artists could not be further apart from each other. Mead is logical, clean, and rational. Giger is morbid and nightmarish. You could place one in the utopian camp and the other in the dystopian camp. And that falls well into the theme that Rollins pursues: a close look at science fiction imagery, both utopian and dystopian.
A utopian scene
Consider these examples, among the many you’ll find in this book. One shows you a scene more in the vein of Syd Mead.
A dystopian scene
While the other shows you a scene more in the vein of H.R. Giger. And, yet, both resonate a certain way of doing things that is all Prentis Rollins. And that, my friend, is the whole point of the book. I hope you’ll get a chance to pick up a copy for yourself or for someone you know who would get a kick out of such an impressive art instruction book.
“How to Draw Sci-Fi Utopias and Dystopias” is a 208-page trade paperback in full color. For more details and how to purchase, visit Monacelli Press right here.
Max Landis broke onto the scene with his indie cult hit movie from 2012, “Chronicle,” a subversive take on superhero tropes. That ultimately got the attention of DC Comics. Or maybe it was the parody short film Landis did that same year, “The Death and Return of Superman.” Landis has a take-no-prisoners approach in his critique on how DC Comics has managed Superman over the years. That led DC Comics to invite Landis to try his hand at writing a bit on ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN in 2014. And now, Landis presents his own limited series, SUPERMAN: AMERICAN ALIEN, which just completed its 7-issue limited run on May 18th. Let’s take a look at the last issue.
Granted, Superman is a very special case. As the most venerable comic book icon of all time, he is susceptible to being treated like a rare triple-mint (still in the box) action figure. You can easily end up with stories that are NOT stories but just confirmations on how awesome Superman is. That will placate a die-hard fan but it’s not worthy of a character with unlimited potential, right? You can place the Superman character is any number of situations, modulate the tone, get a little crazy too. In the end, without forcing it, focusing on a good story is how Superman stays fresh and interesting. That said, I really enjoyed reading the last issue to this limited series and I tip my hat to Max Landis and to the always dapper and cool artwork by Jock.
What I like here is the looseness and irreverence. The series is seven stories in various times in Clark Kent’s life. For this last story, Landis and Jock work as a tag team to bring you a classic final showdown between hero and villain. In this case, Superman battles Lobo from the planet, Czarnia. Lobo from Czarnia? It sounds snarky badass as well as whimsical, something a child might say while playing with a battered action figure. That alone tells you that Landis is playing with a fictional character, not a prized trophy, and trying to shake things up. And that’s really what we want to read more of with our Superman stories. Here’s to reading more Superman stories that challenge the status quo in the future!
SUPERMAN: AMERICAN ALIEN is well worth picking up when it is available as a trade paperback or, if you prefer, read the singles! For more details, visit DC Comics right here.
There is no Lois Lane without Superman. Okay. But is there no Superman without Lois Lane? That makes sense too but it’s more complicated than that, as Tim Hanley points out in his new book, “Investigating Lois Lane: The Turbulent History of the Daily Planet’s Ace Reporter.” Lois Lane. Who is she? What Hanley concludes is that the general public has got a good handle on this: Lois Lane is a smart, capable, and determined journalist. But it took DC Comics a very long time to come around and understand this.
Lois Lane and Superman, circa 1970
In a book that is brimming with facts, Tim Hanley provides a highly accessible read on an iconic character that has been put through the wringer. Hanley’s 2014 book, “Wonder Woman Unbound” was highly insightful and entertaining. With this new book focusing on Lois Lane, I think he’s really hit the nail on the head. Here is a female character who has been a part of DC Comics right from the start and holds a unique position as the key partner to Superman, the most celebrated superhero of all time. As a significant female character in pop culture, we have in Lois Lane an informative gauge of how women have been depicted and treated in media and society in close to a century in America.
Superman and Lois Lane, circa 1938
Lois Lane began as a “sob sister” on The Daily Planet in 1938. As a woman, she was initially relegated to answering letters from women readers seeking advice on love and relationships. But Lois was persistent and it wasn’t long before she was holding her own with other newspapermen. She had to not only be tough, she had to be exceedingly single-minded. No fiancé for her. Along comes Superman and he sort of spoils things for Lois since she now finds herself more often the damsel in distress than the self-controlled ace reporter. This is a holding pattern that Lois will not break free from for the next thirty years. And, when she does, Lois is subjected to some pretty cringe-worthy attempts to revamp her character as a new feminist seeking justice for women, minorities, and any and all causes.
Superman and Lois Lane in “I Am Curious (Black)!”
The jumping the shark moment for Lois comes when she decides to go undercover as an African-American woman in 1971. This is a story I was not aware of by any means. Hanley, I’m sure, does not expect readers to be familiar with this. Instead, I’m sure, he relishes in revealing these gold nuggets that have been lost to time. We come to see just how ill-conceived this story was and just how desperate DC Comics was to catch up with Marvel Comics that seemed to effortlessly keep up with the times. This particular story was entitled, “I Am Curious (Black)!” It is referring to a popular subversive Swedish film, “I Am Curious (Yellow).” That is provocative but decidedly tone deaf too as that film’s greatest notoriety was as pornography. Hanley goes on to say that the whole idea of having Lois Lane in blackface is bizarre and repugnant. I can see where this story might have worked had it attached itself to “Black Like Me,” the 1961 true account of journalist John Howard Griffin, a white man going undercover as a black man.
Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder in “Superman: The Movie”
Hanley’s strength is in enthusiastically retelling each Lois Lane story as it rolls out. In Hanley’s hands, even the most popular stuff feels fresh and alive. With clarity and nuance, he brings to life the behind-the-scenes aspects to “Superman: The Movie” and how Margot Kidder would go on to provide the definitive template for Lois Lane. We come to see that, when it comes to Lois Lane, every step in the right direction is highly significant since they happen sporadically. What does the future hold for Lois Lane? Well, from what I found in this book, Margot Kidder remains a viable model to follow. Lois Lane can be as brash, and relevant, as writers can make her. Perhaps she’d be a bit like Tina Fey in “Whisky Tango Foxtrot,” which is an imperfect example at best, but the point is that we have barely scratched the surface on the character of Lois Lane after nearly a century. It’s time to pick up the pace. As Hanley’s book makes clear, Lois Lane remains a character full of potential who continues to resonate with potential fans.
“Investigating Lois Lane: The Turbulent History of the Daily Planet’s Ace Reporter” is a 288-page trade paperback, published by Chicago Review Press. For more details, visit Chicago Review Press right here.
There was a time when comic books and graphic novels seemed like old-fashioned forms of fiction and entertainment. However, thanks in large part to a modern film industry that’s become obsessed with adapting these comics and novels, a whole new generation has become attached to them. Really, it’s been a gradual but fascinating development in popular fiction.
It begins with the films themselves. Since Iron Man debuted in 2008, the movie industry has been utterly dominated by superhero cinema. The Marvel Cinematic Universe now consists of over 10 films and will only grow larger in the years to come. This article reveals that the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War (due out in 2018) will include a whopping 67 characters from Marvel Comics. And it’s not just Marvel bringing comics to life on the big screen. DC Comics adaptations provide regular competition, and there have even been other prominent examples not related to the two publishing giants. For instance, popular 2010 superhero comedy Kick-Ass was based on a comic published by Icon (which to be fair is a Marvel affiliate), and movies like Sin City and 300 were based on Frank Miller works published by Dark Horse Comics. All of these films have helped to spark a renewed interest in source material among modern fans.
It’s also become particularly helpful that a number of the most prominent superhero movies have been based on very specific comics or graphic novels. For example, while a given Spider-Man movie might pull elements from several different comics and origin stories, some projects have essentially adapted screenplays from individual editions. This list ranked Frank Miller’s 1986 novel The Dark Knight Rises as the single best graphic novel out there, and millions of fans have now come to know it nearly 30 years later through the film of the same name. Likewise, Marvel has seemingly made a clearer effort to connect its own movies to specific projects. The aforementioned Infinity War movie will be based on a six-issue series of comics published in the ’90s, and this spring’s Captain America: Civil War actually pulls its story from one of the more modern chapters of Marvel lore, published in 2006-07. As long as movies remain so deeply rooted in comics, they’ll continue to spark new interest for younger generations.
But it’s not solely the movies that are helping to spread the word about some of the great comics and graphic novels out there. The gaming industry has also played a major role, largely through famous console-based titles like those in the Arkham Asylum series (which took its inspiration from a Grant Morrison graphic novel). But other areas in gaming have embraced the popularity of comic book characters, and in doing so helped to reach out to alternative audiences. This site is best known for catering to fans of casual casino games through offering a range of bingo, roulette and poker options to suit the genre. However, it’s also expanded to include slot and arcade games that invoke images and character names from popular comics and graphic novels. Iron Man and Batman are directly used, an “Amazon Queen” game implies a Wonder Woman connection, and even the Spartan 300 are used as thematic material for a game.
And then of course there’s the outreach to young kids, which is done differently now than in decades past. When comics and graphic novels originally rose to relevance, it was at least in part because there just wasn’t as much visual entertainment available. There was no regular television or film content, let alone any fit for children. Now kids have all kinds of other ways to entertain themselves, which means comics and graphic novels have lost what once may have been their greatest advantage. Still, there are a number of ways in which these characters and stories have been made available and appealing to kids.
Perhaps the most noteworthy development is LEGO’s partnerships with Marvel and DC to create gaming content that brings characters and storylines to life in a cartoonish manner. But on a more straightforward note, we’ve also seen comics and graphic novels made available electronically through app developers who recognize their new audience. Kids as young as two or three these days are learning to use smartphones and tablets, and parents now have the ability to load those devices with age-appropriate comic book material over time. It’s essentially modernizing the concept of a comic book.
Through all these developments, we’ve seen comics and graphic novels make a pretty remarkable transition into modern entertainment. And their popularity is only growing greater.
Wonder Woman. How well do you know her? What I love about this new book from Insight Editions is how accessible this great American icon has been made. Writer Matthew K. Manning and illustrator Paul Bulman have explored everything you’ve ever wanted to know and some things you may have thought you knew.
Each and every aspect of Wonder Woman triggers a new story. This book is all about sticking to canon. Manning does this by having Wonder Woman speak for herself in journal entries. For instance, we get a firsthand recollection of her growing up in Themyscira. Just to set the record straight, Wonder Woman explains, that whole thing about her being formed from clay was just a ruse. Her mom was having an affair with another god. Being born from clay sounded like a good idea at the time.
Think of this as a guidebook in a picture book format. There is a level of sophistication here that will appeal to fans of any age. Manning maintains an engaging conversational tone while peppering his narrative with bona fide comics facts, as in describing how Wonder Woman joined the Justice League; as well as integrating Greek mythology as in comparing superhero secret identities with Zeus incognito walking amongst mortals.
The beauty of this book lies within its crisp and concise structure. Add to that Bulman’s dynamic artwork, and you have a truly informative, entertaining, and compelling book. I leave you with one last example. Any fan will appreciate the four-page spread featuring all the gods in Wonder Woman’s orbit from the New 52 DC Comics universe. Very impressive for fans and casual readers alike.
“The World According to Wonder Woman” is published by Insight Editions. This is a hardcover 64-page book in full color priced at $16.95. For more details, visit Insight Editions right here.
Finally, “Wonder Woman Earth One” by Grant Morrison. I nearly fell out of my chair when I found out it was released!
Yes, “Wonder Woman Earth One” has been out since April but I had completely lost track. It’s been years, and years. You know, since the first teasing out of news of Grant Morrison possibly writing a Wondy book. He had said he’d turn her into the woman she was always meant to be or some such hogwash. I mean, who cared about the faux psychoanalysis, really? But Grant Morrison is a solid guy with a fun and creative mind. He could write something interesting, perhaps too interesting! So, that’s why DC Comics settled upon giving him an Earth One story to do, something that allowed him to flex his muscles and ooze his juices as he pleased–and it would remain outside of proper Wonder Woman canon or whatnot.
Alright then, so what did we end up with?? All of you comics geeks already know, right? But I don’t care so much about superhero comics. Well, I sort of take that back. It needs to be interesting! Do you get that? I know a lot of you out there do get that. Okay, here is where I leave my placeholder. I will drop in an ellipsis, a bunch of dot, dot, dots, like this “…..” and that lets me know to come back to it in due time. You know why I’m telling you this? Because I just realized I won’t be coming back to this for yet another long, long while. How about April 12, 2016!!
The following is the latest teaser from DC Comics. Read it and you’ll find the familiar Wonder Woman origin story. So, I’m not sure why Grant Morrison would need to tell this retread of a tale. Is a story that so closely follows canon a story that requires a writer like Grant Morrison who is only supposed to be summoned to completely blow your mind? Well, just saying:
Following tradition of Superman, Batman, Teen Titans comes Wonder Woman Earth One in 2016. Earth One is a series of Graphic Novels set in a new universe separate from the current DC Universe.
From the masterful minds of Grant Morrison (FINAL CRISIS, THE MULTIVERSITY) and Yanick Paquette (SWAMP THING, BATMAN, INC.) comes the most provocative origin of Wonder Woman you’ve ever seen — a wholly unique retelling that still honors her origins.
For millennia, the Amazons of Paradise Island have created a thriving society away from the blight of man. One resident, however, is not satisfied with this secluded life — Diana, Princess of the Amazons, knows there is more in this world and wants to explore, only to be frustrated by her protective mother, Hippolyta. Diana finds her escape when Air Force pilot Steve Trevor, the first man she has ever seen, crashes onto their shores. With his life hanging in the balance, Diana ventures into the long forbidden world of men. The Amazons chase after her and bring her back to Paradise Island in chains to face trial for breaking their oldest law…staying separated from the world that wronged them.
Thought provoking yet reverent, thoroughly modern but still timeless, the power and courage of Paradise Island’s greatest champion — Wonder Woman — is introduced in this new addition to DC’s New York Times best selling Earth One original graphic novel series.
This is one colossal book. It’s 40 posters featuring art from the biggest names in the DC Universe. This is “DC Comics – The New 52: The Poster Collection,” published by Insight Editions. All in one place, you get an eye full of iconic cover art from the most popular DC Comics titles since the launch of the New 52 in 2011. The book of posters is 12″ x 16″, priced at $24.99, and proves an excellent collection of contemporary DC Comics artwork.
Wonder Woman Poster with issue from comic book for comparison.
If you love The New 52 comics, then this is a perfect companion piece. Here are some samples with the comic book alongside for comparison.
Action Comics Poster with issue from comic book for comparison.
And, if you are somehow new to The New 52, this unique book will make an excellent introduction.
New 52 Batgirl Posters
“DC Comics – The New 52: The Poster Collection” is available as of May 12, 2015. For more details, visit our friends at Insight Editions right here. You can also go here, here, and here.