Karen Berger is leaving DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint, it was announced yesterday. Berger, who created and headed the Vertigo division from the beginning, is staying on until March 2013. We can leave it to the industry insiders to question what this means for the future of Vertigo and DC, and we will add our voices to wishing Berger the best in all future ventures once April 2013 rolls around. While we can’t pretend to know exactly how much influence Berger had on each individual work that published under the Vertigo imprint, it’s probably an understatement to say not only has she been one of the most influential people in comics over the past 25 years, but the sensibilities of the Vertigo line during its burgeoning in the 1990s has cast a long shadow of influence that can be seen across all media — not just comics — today.
Welcome to Comic Rack! My pick of the top five comic news stories in no particular order.
Well this year’s Comic-Con International is over, and everyone who went to it is still recovering from it, physically and monetarily, because there’s no way to go to that thing without spending at least $500 on merch alone, not counting travel and hotel expenses.
While Comic-Con is fun, and it’s fascinating to see all the new trailers and previews for all the upcoming Hollywood projects, each year the actual COMIC part of Comic-Con is de-emphasized, downplayed, or simply just out shined by all the myriad movie/TV/video game presence there is. So collecting important or interesting actual COMIC based news, from Comic-Con, was ironically difficult, because nearly every big event there was based around anything but comics. That being said, here are some of the better news stories since CCI 2012, and in the recent days since it ended.
New Sandman Prequel Announced!
Alright. I have an embarrassing confession to make, that could potentially ruin some of my credibility with a large group of you out there, but here goes: I’ve never read Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. It’s one of those books that’s been constantly recommended to me, and I’ve always been meaning to read it, but one thing or another has always come along and kept me from actually picking it up and giving it a go. Don’t take this as me slamming it, far from it. I’m a big fan of everything I’ve actually read by Gaiman, I’ve just yet to read his opus. And it’d seem that now is just as good a time as ever, since Vertigo and Gaiman himself have announced a prequel mini-series, covering Morpheus’ story before the original series.
The Official Press Release from Vertigo is as follows:
“Twenty-five years after one of the most celebrated graphic novels of all-time hit shelves, award-winning and critically acclaimed author and screenwriter, Neil Gaiman, announces his return to THE SANDMAN. Gaiman made the surprise announcement, via video, at DC Entertainment’s Vertigo panel at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. Karen Berger, Executive Editor of Vertigo, then revealed that Gaiman is paired with artist, JH Williams III (BATWOMAN) for the series, who appeared on stage to an already stunned and elated crowd. THE SANDMAN mini-series will be published by Vertigo in 2013.”
You can read the full Press Release over at [CBR], along with this neat video from Gaiman himself.
I’m guessing it’s about time I read that book.
Image Announces A Slew Of New Original Creator Based Titles.
In the past couple of years, Image has really defined itself as an exciting, fun, daring and innovative publisher willing to go out on a limb and take risks with original material, and this year is no exception. Last year Robert Kirkman made an infamous video rallying comics artists and writers to sully forth and make more creator owned titles, to tell their own stories, and to express to everyone that comics aren’t all just capes and masks. After becoming a main image partner himself, Kirkman has definitely had an influence on Image, as they’re certainly following through with the idea of bringing more original, creator based stories to the shelves. During the Image Experience Panel at CCI, they announced 11 new series, all from the collective talent pool of Whilce Portacio, Eric Stephenson, Brandon Graham, Joe Casey, Piotr Kowalski, David Messina, Darick Robertson, Gary Whitta, Kelly Sue Deconnick, Emma Rios, Chris Roberson, Paul Mayberry, James Robinson, J.Bone, Greg Rucka, Michael Lark, Jay Faerber, Joe Harris, and even Howard Chaykin and Matt Fraction.
With that long a list of incredibly talented names, I’m sure you’re dying to know what they’re working on, and the books announced are as follows, via [CBR]:
The first project Stephenson announced was Whilce Portacio’s “Non-Humans,” followed by Stephenson’s “Nowhere Men.” Brandon Graham will do “Multiple Warheads” in October, as well. Joe Casey then came to the stage to discuss the series behind the teaser “Image Comics Wants You to Buy Sex.”
“Superhero comics have always sort of brushed against the concept of sexuality,” Casey said. “It’s time we just embraced it.” The ongoing is simply called “Sex,” which is “not a joke title,” but is “probably not what you’re expecting.” The series is illustrated by Piotr Kowalski.
Another Casey series, “Bounce,” will be drawn by David Messina. The image shown obscures the main character, but Casey promised “the costume is great.” Noting that some fans “wondered what illicit substances I was taking” when he was writing “Godland,” Casey said, “you’ll have no idea what I’m on with this.”
Darick Robertson then joined the panel to discuss “Oliver” with writer Gary Whitta. Robertson he’s been developing this since 2004, but it took a while to find a publisher that “would let us do it the way we want to.”
Kelly Sue Deconnick ascended the dais to discuss “Pretty Deadly,” her book with Emma Rios. “It’s our attempt to revive the spirit of Sergio Leone,” she said. “It is a Western assassin competing for a prize she does not necessarily want.” She said the book is about “the beauty and what we embrace about it, and the destruction,” before adding, “How pretentious does that sound?”
Chris Roberson will write “Rain,” with art by Paul Mayberry. He said he built the fantasy world for it over years with the intention of doing it as a novel series. “Then I realized I was really lazy,” he joked, “and this is something that could take the rest of my life.” So instead “I retooled it as a comic so an artist could do the heavy lifting.
James Robinson came next, promoting “Saviors” with J. Bone. He said J. Bone was frustrated that he’s viewed as a humor artist, so Robinson gave him a horror story to draw. “It’s this young stoner … uncovers an alien invasion and has to find people who believe him.” Complicating matters, “the aliens themselves have many guises.” The initial miniseries will be five issues, though the series may continue beyond that.
Howard Chaykin and Matt Fraction joined the panel, who are collaborating on “Satellite Sam.” “It’s the story of a children’s TV host who is found dead in a somewhat compromising position,” Fraction. “One of the thing that’s found is a box of photographs of every woman Satellite Sam has ‘spent time with,’ and out of that box are clues to who he was and ultimately who killed him.”
“The idea of conflating the Hopalong Cassidy stuff … with the hardboiled crime stuff really appealed to me,” Chaykin said…
…Stephenson then recapped the announcement that J. Michael Straczynski would be resurrecting the Joe’s Comics imprint with four new titles.
Greg Rucka also joined, and he does have a project to announce: “Lazarus,” with artist Michael Lark, for Spring 2013. “The log line is ‘Godfather’ meets ‘Children of Men,’ and that should be confusing,” Rucka said. “It’s hard sci-fi in a near-distant future, our main character gets hurt a lot and keeps coming at you.”
Finally, Stephenson announced Jay Faerber’s “Point of Impact,” coming in October, and “Great Pacific” by Joe Harris.
Holy crap that’s a lot to take in! Out of all those books, the most I’m excited for has gotta be Pretty Deadly, By Kelly Sue Deconnick. Western’s are amazing, and any attempt to get the spirit of Sergio Leone into a book is great, and the idea of a female protagonist in a Leone inspired world is a great one. I’m also always looking forward to anything by Matt Fraction and Greg Rucka, because they’re both brilliant, and Lazarus sounds like the kind of thing that’d be right up my alley. Image is knocking it out of the park for me, and I know I’ll be putting quite a few of these on my pull list soon.
Grant Morrison & Darick Robertson Talk About Their New Collaboration: Happy!
I am a huge fan of Grant Morrison’s work. His projects have ranged the whole gamut of styles and expression, from the incredibly dense (Invisibles, The Filth), to the most mainstream, (All Star Superman), but one thing about Grant Morrison is that his work is consistently creative, innovative, thoughtful and always entertaining. While sure, some of his work can be a bit… weird, he’s able to tap into a voice that has nearly infinite range, and brings a definitive quality to all of his stories. The book has been pitched by Morrison himself as Sin City meets It’s A Wonderful Life, which sounds exactly like the kind of weird/awesome thing Morrison would do. Grant Morrison also is teaming up with Darick Robertson, whose work on Transmetropolitan and The Boys was truly amazing, so the book will also look great as well. The actual plot and main character however, are discussed in this interview with both Morrison and Robertson, over at [Newsarama].
Newsarama: From what’s been released about Happy! It seems like a straight up crime noir comic… until you bring in the blue feather and a miniature horse named Happy. How would you describe the tone and feeling of Happy!?
Darick Robertson: As Grant described it to me, it’s Sin City meets It’s A Wonderful Life. It’s a funny comic overall, at least from the first issue. I love it, as I’m drawing stuff that’s really in my ‘wheel-house’ as they say…
Nrama: So just who is Nick Sax, the lead of Happy!?
Grant Morrison: Nick Sax is a fallen man – an ex-cop and former golden boy who now makes a living as a freelance hitman. How he got from there to here is revealed in the third issue. Sax is cynical to the point of nihilism, constantly drunk, permanently wasted, and suffers from raging eczema. Although it was only several months after I’d named him to sound like a Mickey Spillane hero that I realized how ridiculously ‘Christmassy’ the name ‘Nick Sax’ is!
Robertson: He’s cynical and calculating. As one line from the scripts describe him in Nick’s own dialogue “I’M A KILLER. I KILL PEOPLE FOR MONEY TO BUY BOOZE, SEX AND ECZEMA MEDICATION -” but you sense there’s something good about him despite all of this and he’s been a lot of fun to draw and create.
Morrison: I’d say Sax is just about the worst sort of human being you could meet…except that there are several characters in this story who make even Nick look like a choirboy. When your hero is a repellent human wreck, the villains have to be absolute monsters.
Sax a great character to write – and hopefully to read about – but you wouldn’t want to be around him.
Nrama: From the sounds of it, Sax is someone who has few friends – especially as a disgraced cop. Does Nick have anyone in the world on his side?
Morrison: Nick has no-one on his side. Nobody likes him, not even his ex-partner. His only ally is a cartoon animal no-one else can see.
Nrama: I take it that cartoon animal is the titular character, Happy The Horse. How does Happy fit into this seemingly crime noir story? And is that feather in the cover Happy’s?
Morrison: The iconic blue feather belongs to Happy, yes. The driving engine of this story is the idea of dropping what is essentially a charming cartoon character into the filthiest corners of the human experience and watching the fallout. I wanted to explore the contrast between the ultimate hateful cynic and the ultimate incorrigible optimist and to place upon this tiny blue horse the entire burden of a culture that’s afraid to be hopeful. Happy desperately needs Nick’s help for reasons revealed in the first issue but Nick only cares about saving his own skin – and it’s that tension that drives our story toward its conclusion.
I’ve yet to read a bad Grant Morrison comic, and I truly don’t think I ever will. Any announcement of a new project by him is something I’ll be looking forward to, and Happy! is no exception.
Eisner Award Winners Announced!
The Eisner’s is probably the only awards ceremony I can think of, that consistently rewards the people who actually deserve recognition in their form of media. No Mad Men Emmy style sweeps happen at The Eisners, it’s always a positive ceremony where talent and effort is recognized and rewarded, and the best comics of the year get their due. That being said, having attended The Eisners in the past, it’s goddamned boring. I’m talking I’d-Rather-Watch-Paint-Dry boring. I remember sitting there watching Brian Posehn, a hilarious stand up comedian, read a group of nominee’s names aloud, in fake Klingon, and found myself looking at my watch multiple times. I know that sounds funny, but that was literally the most entertaining thing that happened during the ceremony. So to spare you all from the snoozefest that is The Eisner’s ceremony, and to give you the information that is actually pertinent and important, here is a list of the winners this year, courtesy of [CBR].
Best Short Story
“The Seventh,” by Darwyn Cooke, in Richard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition (IDW)
Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)
Daredevil #7, by Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera, and Joe Rivera (Marvel)
Best Continuing Series
Daredevil, by Mark Waid, Marcos Martin, Paolo Rivera, and Joe Rivera (Marvel)
Best Limited Series
Criminal: The Last of the Innocent, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Marvel Icon)
Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7)
Dragon Puncher Island, by James Kochalka (Top Shelf)
Best Publication for Kids (ages 8-12)
Snarked, by Roger Langridge (kaBOOM!)
Best Publication for Young Adults (ages 12-17)
Anya’s Ghost, by Vera Brosgol (First Second)
Dark Horse Presents, edited by Mike Richardson (Dark Horse)
Best Humor Publication
Milk & Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad, by Evan Dorkin (Dark Horse)
Best Digital Comic
Battlepug, by Mike Norton
Best Reality-Based Work
Green River Killer: A True Detective Story, by Jeff Jensen and Jonathan Case (Dark Horse)
Best Graphic Album – New
Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand, adapted by Ramón K. Pérez (Archaia)
Best Graphic Album – Reprint
Richard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition, by Darwyn Cooke (IDW)
Best Archival Collection/Project – Comic Strips
Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse vols. 1-2, by Floyd Gottfredson, edited by David Gerstein and Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)
Best Archival Collection/Project – Comic Books
Walt Simonson’s The Mighty Thor Artist’s Edition (IDW)
Best U.S. Edition of International Material
The Manara Library, vol. 1: Indian Summer and Other Stories, by Milo Manara with Hugo Pratt (Dark Horse)
Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Asia
Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)
Mark Waid, Irredeemable, Incorruptible (BOOM!); Daredevil (Marvel)
Craig Thompson, Habibi (Pantheon)
Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
Ramón K. Pérez, Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand (Archaia)
Best Cover Artist
Francesco Francavilla, Black Panther (Marvel); Lone Ranger, Lone Ranger/Zorro, Dark Shadows, Warlord of Mars (Dynamite); Archie Meets Kiss (Archie)
Laura Allred, iZombie (Vertigo/DC); Madman All-New Giant-Size Super-Ginchy Special (Image)
Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo (Dark Horse)
Best Comics-Related Journalism
The Comics Reporter, produced by Tom Spurgeon
Best Educational/Academic Work (tie)
Cartooning: Philosophy & Practice, by Ivan Brunetti (Yale University Press)
Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby, by Charles Hatfield (University Press of Mississippi)
Best Comics-Related Book
MetaMaus, by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon)
Best Publication Design
Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand, designed by Eric Skillman (Archaia)
Hall of Fame
Judges’ Choices: Rudolf Dirks, Harry Lucey
Bill Blackbeard, Richard Corben, Katsuhiro Otomo, Gilbert Shelton
Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award
Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award
Bill Finger Excellence in Comic Book Writing Award
Frank Doyle, Steve Skeates
Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award
Akira Comics, Madrid, Spain – Jesus Marugan Escobar and
The Dragon, Guelph, ON, Canada – Jennifer Haines
A notable winner this year I totally agree with is Mark Waid for Best Writer, because Irredeemable actually ended in a satisfying, awesome way, and I would have never predicted that. (Even if it was the same ending as All Star Superman #10, but that’s such a brilliant ending, I’ll love it again.) I also have heard lots of good things about his run on Daredevil, but I don’t really read Marvel (long story), so can’t vouch for it myself. I also just picked up the first collection of Battlepug by Mike Norton, and along with being really goofy and cute, any story that is being told by a beautiful naked woman I’ll pretty much love.
My Little Pony Gets A Comic. World Weeps.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any intrinsic hate towards My Little Pony. It’s a perfectly fine show to watch if you’re an 8-year-old girl, or a particularly equine loving little boy under the age of 10. If you’re a kid, you get a pass, because My Little Pony is made for you. Cartoon ponies talking about friendship is perfectly acceptable for an adolescent to watch, empathize with and learn from. However, as the lot of you may know, The Internet has gone and officially lost its shit for a show about cartoon ponies, and now we have this “Brony” phenomenon, where teenage to adult males actively watch the show, talk about it, blog about it, make horrific fan art about it, and generally perv out when walking through the pink aisle at Toys’R Us, searching for pony memorabilia. Even stranger is this bizarre defense of this circle of fandom by the aforementioned “Bronys”, who seem to perceive their fandom as something that is being persecuted and shunned like some oppressed minority in a totalitarian state. I’ve even been called “bigoted” towards Bronys in the past, which I’ve thought about and manned up and admitted was true. Yes, I guess I am bigoted towards weird, presumably social maladjusted man-children who obsessively fixate on a cartoon show about ponies. Then again, I tear up when Superman dies at the end of All-Star Superman, so who am I to judge? All I’m saying, is I DON’T GET IT. But, many Brony friends of mine will be pleased to see IDW is releasing a MLP comic soon, as they’ve informed us from their Official Press Release, which you can read here courtesy of [CBR]:
At Comic-Con International, IDW Publishing and Hasbro, Inc. teamed up to announce the addition of yet another hugely successful brand to their portfolio. Based on the Hasbro characters from the popular My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic animated series, created by Hasbro Studios and currently airing on The HUB TV Network in the US, IDW’s MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC comics will offer all-new stories featuring the beloved ponies: TWILIGHT SPARKLE, PINKIE PIE, RARITY, FLUTTERSHY, RAINBOW DASH, and APPLEJACK.
“My Little Pony is a highly successful brand and we’re incredibly excited to have the opportunity to extend the franchise through this collaboration with Hasbro,” said IDW CEO and Publisher, Ted Adams. “We look forward to providing new stories for the fans and launching their favorite ponies into comic book form.”
Fans of the animated series will be excited to hear that the comics will stay true to its moral foundation, while providing themes and subject matter that older audiences can also appreciate. MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC will bring new adventures to the ponies as they help residents of Ponyville while learning memorable lessons about the meaning of friendship.
Coming in November 2012, the series will be written by Katie Cook (Gronk), who has previously worked on DC and Marvel Comics. Taking on the artistic duties is Andy Price (DC Legacy, Batman Archives), with special covers throughout the series by artists including Jill Thompson (Sandman, Beasts of Burden), Stephanie Buscema (Womanthology), and many more.
Jesus wept. Save us Superman.
Scoot will have some Marvel news to follow on the weekend!
You may well know the artwork of Dave McKean without even realizing it. He has been leaned on heavily by Neil Gaiman in helping create the fantastical world of Sandman. You know those crazy Sandman covers that are part diorama, part painting and all cool? That’s Dave McKean. When you open a Sandman and the characters border on the edge of chaos as they vary between a mass on lines and a multicolored kaleidoscope of mayhem? That’s Dave McKean. He’s the man who made the maniacal Joker of Arkham Asylum, created the whimsical world of The Big Fat Duck Cookbook and again worked with Gaiman to bring Mirror Mask to the big screen. I guess it should come as no surprise that he has a talent for storytelling as well.
Enter Cages, a series that is by no means new but, if it flew under your radar as it had mine, is completely worth the time and effort. The series was originally published by Tundra and Kitchen Sink Press in the early 90’s, had a hardcover edition printed in 1998 and was re-released in a softcover collection by Dark Horse Books in 2010. Cages is a bleak and dark world inside which the characters struggle with inspiration, motivation and their collective grasp on reality. The pages are mostly bereft of color except for a couple of narrative dream-like segments and instead rely on harsh black lines and a grey/blue tinge to color their world. Cages‘ world is populated by a group of characters living in an apartment building each participating in their own struggle, each dealing with their own personal cage as it were. The main protagonist is an artist who is struggling for inspiration to create his next great piece of art.
As the novel progresses he encounters the other oddball members of his building and their lives intertwine as we discover each persons story. Above him is the Jazz musician/poet who crafts musical stones and blows away the local bar regulars with his unearthly performances. Below him is a renowned author who is hiding from the public because of the scandalously blasphemous nature of his last novel. Across from him is an alluring woman whom he sketches as she lounges on her patio and eventually becomes the subject of his artistic ruminations. Elsewhere in the building is an elderly woman who has delusional conversations with her parrot as she waits for her husband to return from his five-year absence. Threading them all together as a silent observer and sometimes participant is a black cat who seems to have an almost human intelligence.