Tag Archives: Image Comics

Review: ‘Witch Doctor, Vol. 1: Under the Knife’

Penny Must Be Fed!

I am still doing a bit of catching up since Emerald City Comicon. It was a privilege to get to interview some of the folks connected with Skybound Entertainment, one of the imprints at Image Comics. While I was browsing through the tables at Artist Alley, I got to chat with Lukas Ketner and he has the distinction of being attached, with writer Brandon Seifert, to Witch Doctor, the first Skybound Original published by Skybound, beginning in June 2011. Lukas was fun to talk to and encouraged me to give Witch Doctor a try if I hadn’t already. Too often, it takes me a while to warm up to horror titles. But, if the title is good, I am liable to become one of its biggest fans. So is the case with the quirky, unpredictable, and totally entertaining Witch Doctor.

Dr. Morrow and Absinthe O’Riley, curator of the Museum of Supernatural History.

What both Seifert and Ketner have set out to do is marry the best of gothic horror with a contemporary CSI vibe. Vampires, for example, are always an interesting topic for discussion. Plenty of theories out there on what makes these strange critters tick. For Brandon Seifert, a former medical student turned comic book writer, he has his own choice contributions…and they can get pretty bloody disgusting. But that’s part of the fun, right?

This is one dazzling work of comics.

Back to Lukas Ketner, the awesome illustrator on this series, he has gone above and beyond in giving us quite a look and feel to our proceedings. I think one of his crowing achievements is the good doctor’s patient/helper, one hauntingly beautiful yet thoroughly hideous Penelope “Penny” Dreadful. She was once a cute young art student with nothing more dire to consider than the state of contemporary art. Then one day, Penelope is infected by a most diabolical parasite that burrows its way into her. It seems that she just barely still exists, if at all. But Penny struck a bargain with our main character, Dr. Vincent, “the Witch Doctor” Morrow. Given Penny’s tremendous ability to slice and dice monsters, she helps the doctor on his special assignments while he keeps her/it fed and attempts to cure her. Penny Dreadful brings to mind Christina Ricci, as channeled by Mark Ryden, while still retaining its own peculiar vibe.

As for the good doctor, you can think of Dr. Vincent Morrow as something of a horror version of Doctor Who. This is a very dapper and clever fellow. And, just like the Doctor Who on the telly, you always have that odd sensation that anything can happen. This comic book series is stylish, clever, and often hilarious horror! One of the biggest mistakes a horror writer and/or fan can make is to just follow the blood. Fixating on the blood alone is, well, just bloody. Ultimately, that is a dead end. Thankfully, Seifert and Ketner create horror with a true heart pumping all along the way. This is one dazzling work of comics.

WITCH DOCTOR by Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner

Skybound Entertainment is an American entertainment company founded by Robert Kirkman and David Alpert in 2010. It produces content for comic books, film, television, and other media. For more details on Witch Doctor, if you have not already, proceed to the first volume collection, “Witch Doctor, Vol. 1: Under the Knife,” and use caution or sheer abandon–whatever works for you.

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Filed under Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Image Comics, Robert Kirkman, Skybound Entertainment

ECCC 2017 Interview: Daniel Warren Johnson and EXTREMITY

Daniel Warren Johnson at Emerald City Comicon 2017

Daniel Warren Johnson at Emerald City Comicon 2017

Daniel Warren Johnson is a freelance illustrator based in Chicago. Johnson’s webcomic, SPACE-MULLET, launched in 2012, got people’s attention. It is a quirky sci-fi tale following the adventures of such characters as Jonah, a stranded Space Marine from United Earth, and Alphius, a huge Zozobian who uses too much toilet paper. As Johnson told me, the whole experience of maintaining a webcomic turned out to be the perfect way to demonstrate to publishers how he navigates through a story. This process would lead him to the helm of his own comic book series, EXTREMITY, published by Skybound Entertainment, an imprint of Image Comics.

Daniel Warren Johnson's SPACE-MULLET

Daniel Warren Johnson’s SPACE-MULLET

The world of EXTREMITY, as Johnson states, is “visually stunning in keeping with the characters.” This is a barbaric and futuristic landscape. Think Mad Max. It is a world of extremes. Johnson’s writing process focuses on the characters first and builds out from there. At the forefront, is Thea, from the Roto Clan, who has been horribly wronged by the Paznina. What makes this story different from a typical revenge tale, Johnson told me, is that it is not just one person dealing with what happens next but an entire village.

ECCC variant for EXTREMITY #1

ECCC variant for EXTREMITY #1

Story is everything. Johnson’s method is to write out a script first, let that settle in, and then pursue the artwork. He says he could storyboard the whole thing out but it’s getting that script down that proves to be the most efficient.

Johnson has a very disarming personality. He has an immediate and direct way about him. As I sat in with him for a bit at Emerald City Comicon, he worked on some art while always engaging with visitors. “I invite folks to ask me anything,” he says. One thing that Johnson has become known for are his portraits where he renders his subject as a zombie. So, if you should meet up with Johnson, maybe you should ask him to draw you as a zombie.

Daniel Warren Johnson

Daniel Warren Johnson

Take a closer look at Johnson’s artwork and you’ll find that extra attention to detail. Johnson thanks an extensive art training background starting out when he was a kid and getting private lessons from a kind but determined Italian woman named, Rosetta. “I watch out for the details. If I’m going to draw a car, for instance, it is definitely going to look like a car.” But, for what finally got him where he is today, that he has to thank his wife for.

What Johnson foresees for himself, and hopes for the future of comics in general, is a focus on story, going deeper, beyond a “crafting of cool.” “You know, stories can come to and end too. The standard model is to keep characters going on forever. It can be refreshing to break that model, tell one character’s story from start to finish, and move on.”

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Filed under Comics, Daniel Warren Johnson, ECCC, Emerald City Comicon, Image Comics, Sci-Fi, science fiction, Seattle, Skybound Entertainment, Webcomics

ECCC Review: EXTREMITY #1

EXTREMITY #1

EXTREMITY #1

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

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.

If you are heading out to Emerald City Comicon, be sure to seek out Image Comics and Skybound Entertainment.

EXTREMITY #1 is published by Skybound Entertainment, an imprint of Image Comics. It will release on March 1st. For more details, visit Image Comics and Skybound.

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IMAGE COMICS FOUNDERS REUNITE AT EMERALD CITY COMICON 2017 TO CELEBRATE 25TH ANNIVERSARY (March 3, 2017)

Emerald-City-Comicon-Seattle

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.

Press release follows:

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Review: THE BELFRY, published by Image Comics

THE BELFRY by Gabriel Hardman

THE BELFRY by Gabriel Hardman

Gabriel Hardman is an artist with a very fluid and powerful drawing style. And that carries over to his writing as well. His latest one-shot comic for Image Comics is a perfect case in point, entitled, THE BELFRY, a trippy surreal vampire jaunt. You could say this is how truly engaged cartoonists dream, or have nightmares: a sequence of seemingly random events that creep up on you to unveil some unnerving results. For Hardman, it all began with a sketch of a vampire woman with silky wings sprawled inside a dank cavern. That haunting drawing led to this strange and lyrical story.

Hardman runs with dream logic and gives us quite a number of compelling visuals: an airliner crash-landing in a remote jungle, devilish winged figures, a spike jammed into an eyeball socket! Yes, it can get gruesome but this is stylish horror. For those of you into quirky comics, you are likely already fans of Gabriel Hardman (KINSKI, Star Wars Legacy) as well as his work teamed up with Corinna Sara Bechko (INVISIBLE REPUBLIC, HEATHENTOWN). This is an artist loaded with wit, vision, and endless energy. Hardman loves to draw as his expressive ink does attest!

The initial sketch that set things in motion.

The initial sketch that set things in motion.

“Fwip! Fwip! Fwip!” go the incredibly long batwings. There’s a deliciously uncompromising vibe to this comic. Right after the airliner crashing, because of those demonic wings getting in the way, co-pilot Bill is awakened by flight attendant Janet. All the passengers have been accounted for. But what about Captain Anders? Well, er, he’s alive except…there’s a stake through his eye. Then there’s a beautifully surreal transition…Bill is running through the wild jungle and falls, as into a rabbit hole, except it’s a huge cave full of humanoid bats. Bill lands with a tremendous thud. He’s been stripped bare. All the other passengers are naked as well. And from there the screws are turned tighter and a splendid nightmare spreads out in full bloom.

THE BELFRY will prove to be a great new addition to your comics reading so make a note of it as this one is a month away. And, if you haven’t been following Hardman, seek him out. A good place to start is the ongoing series, INVISIBLE REPUBLIC, to which I provide a review right here.

THE BELFRY one-shot issue is available as of February 22, 2017. For more details, visit Image Comics right here.

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Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Corinna Sara Bechko, Gabriel Hardman, Horror, Image Comics, Vampires

Review: BEOWULF, a graphic novel by Santiago García and David Rubín

BEOWULF, a graphic novel by Santiago García and David Rubín

BEOWULF, a graphic novel by Santiago García and David Rubín

If you are looking for a graphic novel that gives a quirky edge to the epic poem, Beowulf, then check out the all-new English translation of the graphic novel version. Originally published in Spain by Astiberri, this new edition is by Image Comics. Written by Santiago García and illustrated by David Rubín, this is a fresh and bloody take on the oldest surviving long poem in Old English (circa 1000 AD).

There’s that scene in Woody Allen’s 1977 masterpiece, “Annie Hall,” with Alvy talking to Annie about her English lit courses. He advises her to take anything but Beowulf. That was the common view on the prospect of reading the Viking epic in its original Old English. But attitudes evolve. An interest in Tolkien and such helps. Robert Zemeckis directed a pretty decent Beowulf movie in 2007. The fact is that Beowulf has influenced countless great works of fiction in numerous mediums. What is distinctive about this new graphic novel is how much it revels in the gritty and gruesome.

Beowulf makes his case.

Beowulf makes his case.

Our hero is the brave warrior, Beowulf. He’s on a quest to kill the monster known as Grendel, right? In that task, he succeeds. All seems well until he has to confront the wrath of Grendel’s mother–and beyond! If you’ve read this in high school or college, you know it’s pretty rough going for Beowulf. Santiago García’s script and David Rubín’s artwork mean to up the ante.

Grendel!

Grendel!

Consider the fight between Beowulf and Grendel. There’s definitely a contemporary sense of provocation here as Grendel is depicted as having a devilish zeal to inflict pain. In fact, he sexually assaults Beowulf. It is one of the most unusual scenes I’ve read in comics this year. Done with a certain level of restraint, you could possibly miss it if you were quickly scanning through pages.

Use of floating panels.

Use of floating panels.

This is an intelligent and imaginative adaptation. While not without a generous dose of blood and gore, the creators here aimed to tap into the power of the original work. The pacing of the narrative and the robust art make this a highly accessible read. There are interesting touches running throughout like the floating panels within panels offering various points of view and/or an inside look into a character. This has a thoroughly contemporary sensibility and decidedly provocative. Recommended for mature readers.

BEOWULF is a 200-page hardcover, in full color. Direct market release date is 12/21. Book market release date is 12/27. For more details and how to purchase, visit Image Comics right here.

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Filed under Beowulf, Comics, Comics Reviews, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Image Comics, J.R.R. Tolkien

Review: SEVEN TO ETERNITY #1

seventoeternity-image-comics-jpg

Image Comics reports that, in order to keep up with overwhelming customer demand, it is sending SEVEN TO ETERNITY #1, written by Rick Remender, drawn by Jerome Opeña, and colored by Matt Hollingsworth, back for a second printing on the same day as the issue’s release. And that makes total sense. This is the just the sort of quirky, weird, action-packed comic that will excite many readers. This is the tale of Adam Osidis, one reluctant hero confronting, The Mud King, one scary evil ruler. Both characters are up for a fight–or perhaps a discreet understanding of some sort.

Welcome to the kingdom of Zhal, ruled by The Mud King, officially known as The God of Whispers. How this works is left sort of mysterious. Part of it has to do with The Mud King having cast a spell on all of the kingdom’s inhabitants. Much weighs upon whether or not someone will take up The Mud King’s offer, whatever that may be. Under no circumstances would Adam’s father bend his knee and accept any offer from The Mud King. That did not work out so well for Zebadiah Osidis. There is a whole village in exile hiding in the mountains because of Zebadiah Osidis’s defiance. So, maybe Adam can figure something out.

This is definitely one of those big deal titles right up there with the likes of Jonathan Hickman’s celebrated Image Comics series, EAST OF WEST. This new breakout hit reunites the creative team behind Uncanny X-Force. You have all the depth and texture of a story you can really sink your teeth into. There is so much referred to and implied here to keep a series roaring for years. That said, we have a steady and compelling narrative unfolding. We’re in good hands with Adam, our reluctant yet cunning young hero.

SEVEN TO ETERNITY #1 is available as of September 21st. For more details, visit Image Comics right here.

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Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, fantasy, Image Comics, Jonathan Hickman, Sci-Fi, science fiction

Advance Review: GLITTERBOMB #1

Glitterbomb Image Comics

Let’s say that you do go out to L.A. to chase that dream of fame and fortune. Alright, you’re walking down Hollywood Boulevard. You get a text. But it’s not your agent. You don’t even really have an agent but you know someone who does. Or you thought you knew this person. Where did the time go? At this rate, you only have enough money to last you through…the week? Ah, it can happen. Variations of this happen every day. Meet Farrah Durante. She’s struggling at cattle calls for whatever part she can get. And she actually used to be somebody. Yeah, she was Cee-Lin on that really popular sci-fi show, “Space Farers,” or it used to be popular. That was so many years ago. Close in on Farrah. She’s attractive and seems pretty agile but she’s at the mercy of youth-obsessed Hollywood. However, Farrah has stumbled upon some sort of secret weapon in “Glitterbomb,” the new comic book series from Image Comics with a Hollywood horror tale to tell.

Image Comics Jim Zub

You see, Farrah has a way to exact revenge. She is not looking to make trouble. But something has tapped her to be a vessel that can unleash horrific fury. You wouldn’t think it remotely possible to look at Farrah. And, Jesus, what exactly would horrific fury entail? Look, it’s been brewing for a very long time. Hollywood’s fame culture has already unleashed its own horrific fury, so to speak. We question our looks, our own worthiness, compared to the latest celebrity darlings. We all do it in our own way. And, if you don’t, there are others who will do it for us and unfairly judge us. Poor Farrah finds herself caught in the middle of some cosmic reordering of balance. That much I can tell you. That’s fair enough. I’m not here to spoil anything. What I am here to say is that Farrah Durante is a great character and exemplifies the tragic state of our culture when a talented woman reaches a certain age and becomes something less than worthy: unemployable, unmarketable, unwanted.

Jim Zub Glitterbomb

There are a couple of classic films that readily come to mind now: “Sunset Boulevard” and “All About Eve.” Both films came out in 1950 and each stars a woman who has committed the worst act in Hollywood: she has gotten older! Gloria Swanson was 51. Bette Davis was 42. Each character was at a dangerous point in their lives with threats coming at them from all sides. Who would love them? Who would hire them? Both films are dark with Billy Wilder’s “Sunset” decidedly noir. Neither is horror, per se, but we come close as, in both cases, these two older women are so up against it. “Eve” is far more restrained although the threat from the young Eve Harrington on the older Margo Channing reaches the level of a blood sport. For horror movie theatrics, you can’t find much better than Gloria Swanson as the aging and desperate Norma Desmond. This is all to say that both of these movies were playing with a common theme, one of the oldest in the book: the young will devour the old…and women are placed at greater disadvantage.

Glitterbomb Image Comics 2016

Clearly, “Glitterbomb” is playing for keeps! This is an ambitious work. It’s also a scary one! Jim Zub (WAYWARD, Thunderbotls) has created a script that realistically brings us into the hard luck world of Farrah Durante endlessly scrambling for an acting gig. And he melds that with some of the most inventive supernatural content that I’ve seen in a long while. Add to that the very nimble artwork by Djibril Morissette-Phan that captures the pathos and rage of Farrah quite convincingly. We see her as someone potentially so full of life but who must continue to sidestep all sorts of life’s sucker punches along with whatever that is that spawned from hell–or is it just Hollywood?!

K. Michael Russell provides some great atmospheric colors. And Marshall Dillon rounds out the creative team with well balanced, well-placed, lettering. I especially appreciate his creative flourishes in evoking the urgency of text messages.

At the end of this comic, there’s an eye-opening essay on the abusive culture of Hollywood by Holly Raychelle Hughes. As she experienced it, Hollywood made her feel less than human, more like something expendable. It is a perfect companion piece to this remarkable work.

GLITTERBOMB provides a clever horror vibe as well as great biting social commentary. The first issue is available as of September 7th. For more details, visit Image Comics right here.

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Filed under Ageism, Comics, Hollywood, Horror, Image Comics, Sexism

Review: SNOTGIRL #1

Your Fashionista, Snotgirl!

Your Fashionista, Snotgirl!

“Oh boy! It’s really been a while, hasn’t it? But it’s like they say: life is what happens between blog posts. Right??” That is “Snotgirl,” the new comic created by Bryan Lee O’Malley and Leslie Hung. Meet Lottie Person, your fashionista, your Holly Golightly with a blog. Not in a long while have I enjoyed such a pleasing mix of sexy and cute as with this new comic.

Holly Golightly with a blog

Holly Golightly with a blog

A comic like this almost writes itself. Thankfully, we have a thoughtful script by O’Malley and engaging artwork by Hung. When has snot ever been a recurring motif in a story about twentysomethings? Maybe it a comic strictly for kids, like Dennis the Menace or Peppermint Patty covered in snot. But not someone so poised and elegant as our Lottie! The poor thing suffers form allergies. So, she is never too far from a tissue. And those allergy pills don’t seem to be reliable.

I blog, therefore I am.

I blog, therefore I am.

If you are reading this blog post, chances are you write a blog of your own! We’re all doing it. Feels good, right? Or does it? You could say it depends on why you’re doing it. This is at the hear of this story. What makes Lottie tick? What if all her social media was suddenly withheld from her? Would she exist? And then there’s a surprise twist at the end of this first issue that lets you know for sure that all is not what it seems. Great first issue!

SNOTGIRL #1 is available as of July 20th. For more details, visit Image Comics right here.

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Filed under Bryan Lee O'Malley, Comics, Comics Reviews, Image Comics

Review: MIDNIGHT OF THE SOUL #1 by Howard Chaykin

Howard Chaykin

It’s always good to read a comic by Howard Chaykin. I can tell that Mr. Chaykin is having a grand time writing and drawing his latest comic, “Midnight of the Soul.” It wasn’t very long ago that I was marveling over another of his works, “Satellite Sam,” also published by Image Comics. As long as there are good comics being made, I’ll be writing about them. And this one inspires my own creating of comics. I admire many things here. Chaykin has a naturalness about him. He has an enthusiasm to share with you as much as possible.

Howard Chaykin wants nothing less than to drench you in the era his story is set in, wants you to appreciate that people ate, slept, shit, fucked, yelled, cried, murdered in this time he’s taking you to. And maybe they did things a little differently back then from the way things are done today by a new generation. A little more blunt and raw, not so pretty. But, one thing is for sure, they lived!

The time for this story is 1950, five years after World War II. The boys, now men, must find their way. For many, the war had never left them. It certainly messed up one Joel Breakstone, former GI and liberator of Auschwitz. Joel thought he might find the answers as a writer. But, too much booze and little discipline have soured his pipe dreams. Maybe he was never cut out to be a writer. Patricia, his girlfriend, tries to get him to wake up. All around him, everything is falling apart, including his relationship with Patricia, including Patricia herself!

Chaykin Midnight Image Comics

Few cartoonists embrace the old school tradition as well as Chaykin: both writing and drawing his work consistently over decades in his distinctive style. To do that, and do it so well, that makes you a legend. But what makes you someone to remember is real passion. Chaykin has such a crisp style, its stark beauty creates a certain distance between the reader and his characters. It is sort of like he doesn’t want you to get too close to these people he creates. Mostly, these are not very nice people to begin with. There’s a very intriguing dark world that Chaykin wants to share with you. These people are broken and are apt to do ugly, even unspeakable, things. Disconnection. Dissonance. Ah, the stuff of noir!

Image Comics Midnight Chaykin

Creating the right mood is so important. Chaykin is such a masterful draftsman that he can easily use the same drawing, even the same set of panels, again in the same issue. If the artwork is strong and interesting enough, and it lends itself to a satisfying reverberation, then why the hell not? Anyway, it is done to great effect here. This whole first issue to a must-read. For fans, you’ll find Chaykin just as gritty and tough as ever. For new readers, you’re in for a wild ride.

“Midnight Of The Soul #1” is available as of June 8th. For more details, visit Image Comics right here.

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Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Crime Fiction, Howard Chaykin, Image Comics, Noir