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.
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.
“The Nameless City,” the new graphic novel by Faith Erin Hicks, published by First Second Books, is a fun and spirited adventure that is pretty breathtaking. Meet Kaidu, part of the Dao dynasty, and Rat, a “skral,” someone deemed less than human. The two of them could not be farther apart in the scheme of things. And yet they both end up crossing paths in the ancient Nameless City. If they listened to their elders, they would stay as far away from each other as possible. But sometimes you just have to break the rules.
Faith Erin Hicks is one of the most organized and precise cartoonists that I have come across, and determined too. That’s what I gather from doing some research and from just looking at her output, from her first attempts with her very first webcomic begun while still in high school, “Demonology 101,” (1999-2004) to right about when she fell on my radar with one of her more recent graphic novels, “The Adventures of Superhero Girl,” published by Dark Horse Comics in 2013, all the way to her current work. Looking at the artwork to this latest book, I marvel at how Hicks brings her characters to life. Her action scenes are totally believable. It feels like the characters literally jump from page to page.
Just take a look for yourself at the two page samples above. It has been said that a cartoonist may toil away for many hours only to have a reader spend mere seconds actually looking at the work. I don’t believe that really holds true when the art is of a certain caliber. When the art is a true visual treat, it can pull the reader in, make those scanning eyeballs slow down just a bit, cause the reader to go deeper. Much of what is going on in “The Nameless City” is a slowing down of time. The characters are caught in a cycle, one that has corrupted their logic and compromised their souls. Who wants to live in a nameless city, one forced to a fate of endless conquerers? The adults are living in a perpetual stupor. But the children yearn for more.
Hicks has been building up to this ambitious work. She has already created numerous graphic novels in her still young career. A story of this scope is remarkable for a cartoonist at any stage in their career. Hicks has honed her skills and picked up many lessons from her careful reading of manga. She includes among her favorite manga, “Monster,” by Osamu Kurosawa; and “Fullmetal Alchemist,” by Hiromu Arakawa. Well, her dedicated study has paid off. This is quite a sophisticated, accessible, and entertaining work.
“The Nameless City,” is a 240-page trade paperback available as of April 5th. For more details, visit MacMillan Publishers right here.
If you are in Seattle this Sunday, be sure to stop by and visit her at Emerald City Comicon at Booth I-04.
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.
Steve Lieber and Robert Salkowitz at ECCC 7 April 2016
There’s one moment I love, among many, in this panel discussion with master cartoonist Steve Lieber providing nuggets of wisdom. When asked to expand upon the mechanics of writing for comics, Mr. Lieber offers up the books, “Panel One: Comic Book Scripts by Top Writers” and “Panel Two: More Comic Book Scripts By Top Writers.” With that suggestion alone, explanations on technique, a window into a career, and just a whole world of comics is opened up. The first book will show you the nuts and bolts of Steve Lieber’s breakout work, “White Out,” drawn by Lieber and written by a then relatively unknown Greg Rucka.
Steve Lieber is an ideal example of a life working as a comics creator. When asked in first grade what he wanted to do when he grew up, Lieber said he wanted to either be a cowboy or a “comic book maker.” His favorite comic book as a kid, in fact his first, was Namor the Sub-Mariner, drawn by Marie Severin. In this panel discussion, Lieber goes on to share getting to meet his idol, Marie Severin, at a comics convention. He walked up to her and explained how her work had inspired him to become a cartoonist. In mock horror, Severin pleaded, “Oh, I’m so sorry!”
Robert Salkowitz proved to be a wonderful interviewer for this conversation. Mr. Salkowitz is the author of “Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture.” If you are interested in a behind the scenes look and expert analysis of pop culture today, this is a most highly recommended book. It was a hand-picked panel by Salkowitz that stirred some curiosity at this panel. It displays a romantic liaison with a man in a mask. What is the story behind this? Ah, it’s the origin story for the Mirage! Huh? Well, you’ll have to read “The Superior Foes of Spider-Man.”
The Mirage origin story in “The Superior Foes of Spider-Man”
So, anyway, a life as a cartoonist is not for the weak of heart. As a cartoonist myself, I can attest to that. To undertake such an endeavor for the long haul, requires more than stamina. You build your own belief system. Lieber took his calling seriously and, early on, embarked upon a professional career by studying at The Kubert School. Back then, circa 1990, it was Joe Kubert at the helm. Lieber got to learn firsthand how to draw comics by a legend known for drawing in the comics genres, Westerns, Cavemen, and War Stories, and the character, Hawkman. When Lieber graduated in 1990, he said rather jokingly, that he got picked up by Marvel Comics to draw Westerns, Cavemen, War Stories, and Hawkman.
By 1998, Lieber said, he had hit his stride with his own distinctive style which is demonstrated in “White Out,” the graphic novel drawn by Lieber and written by Greg Rucka. It originally came out as a four-issue story published by Oni Press.
By 2009, Lieber continued to evolve with “Underground,” a graphic novel with Jeff Parker, published by Image Comics. I recall reviewing that over at Newsarama and saying, in part:
Jeff Parker (Agents of Atlas) can be relied upon to create fully realized characters and entertaining stories. Teamed up with none other than artist Steve Lieber (Whiteout), Parker takes you down a terrain that is decidedly offbeat for an action adventure in “Underground.” The action takes place primarily inside a multi-chambered cavern full of spooky dips and turns, stalagmites jutting out here and there. It’s all the result of a surprising chain of events that finds two young lovers fleeing for their lives from a group of desperate men.
Clearly, Lieber enjoys a thrilling story where characters are tested to their limits as in confronting forces of nature. And, sometimes, nothing is as formidable as a villain. Libber’s favorite form of villain involves those of a particularly nasty narcissistic stripe. This segues to more recent work. It was in 2013 that Lieber embarked upon, with writer Nick Spencer, on the 17-issue run of “The Superior Foes of Spider-Man,” with Marvel Comics. It proved not only to be excellent work but also pretty hilarious to boot.
THE FIX by Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber
Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber have taken their chemistry in working together to another level with “The Fix” which just debuted as an ongoing series at Image Comics. This is the story of Mack and Roy, a couple of corrupt L.A. cops. It is also about scheming mobsters, and corrupt politicians who run Los Angeles, “real human garbage,” as Lieber puts it. For instance, Mack and Roy figured robbing a retirement community would be a good idea. But their luck, if you can call it that, won’t hold out forever, not if a drug sniffing dog named Pretzels has anything to do with it. And for more details, be sure to visit Image Comics right here.
If you are heading out to Emerald City Comicon, be sure to stop by Booth 1214. There you will find Steve Lieber and many of his studio mates at Periscope Studio. You can also check out another interesting conversation moderated by Rob Salkowitz. That one will cover the origins of comics and is set for Sunday, at 2:30 pm.
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.