SINA GRACE & MICHAEL STOCK & HOPE LARSON REIMAGINE PANDORA MYTH AS ALL-AGES FANTASY SERIES ‘PENNY DORA & THE WISHING BOX’
By Chris Sims
When I was reading Burn the Orphanage, the one thought that kept running through my head was “Hey, this violent tribute to games like Streets of Rage is great and all, but what I’d really like to see is an all-ages fantasy story about a young girl and a magic box that grants wishes drawn by the same person!”
Okay, no, that’s actually a lie — but the only reason I didn’t think that is because I didn’t know how bad I wanted it until I saw that exact thing. Written by Michael Stock and drawn by Burn the Orphanage artist Sina Grace, Penny Dora and the Wishing Box is a modern re-telling of the Pandora myth inspired by a story written by Stock’s eight year-old daughter, Nico.
“The first issue is basically an expansion of her original story,” Stock said in an Image press release. “Since then the story has grown through talks we had in the car on the way to school in the mornings via a playful papa/daughter back and forth game of ‘what if.’ The cat in the book, Iggy, is based on our cat (also named Iggy, and also a great lover of ham).”
Featuring cover art and lettering by Eisner-winning cartoonist Hope Larson (A Wrinkle in Time, Who is AC?), Penny Dora and the Wishing Box launches in November with a special 28-page first issue.
REDISCOVERING THE BEST VERSION OF MARK MILLER IN ‘STARLIGHT’ WITH GORAN PARLOV
By John Parker
When Mark Millar and Goran Parlov‘s Starlight was announced, I had mixed feelings. Goran Parlov may be one of the five best comics artists living today, and it sounded like a good idea: a retired hero in the mold of John Carter returns to the planet he once saved, decades after his prime, to be a hero once again.
But often it seems that no matter how good an idea is, Mark Millar can’t help but screw it up. His love of sensationalism and his need to be controversial have sapped the power out of many of his strongest ideas, and I wasn’t that surprised when our own Kevin Church ripped the first issue to shreds. I read it anyway, because Goran Parlov exists, and life is much better for it.
I was a little surprised to find out that I totally disagreed with Church’s review. And I was shocked that the Mark Millar that I like actually decided to turn up.
GET READY TO WANDER THROUGH A MYSTICAL (AND DANGEROUS) TOKYO WITH ‘WAYWARD’ #1 [PREVIEW]
By Chris Sims
Here at ComicsAlliance, we’re already pretty excited about Jim Zub and Steve Cummings’ Wayward. The story of a girl who moves from Ireland to Japan after her parents divorce, only to find herself in a world that’s not only culturally different, but also full of supernatural monsters that want to murder her right there on the streets of Tokyo hits that perfect combination of adolescent metaphors and comic book action that I’ll always love as a reader.
If, however, you still need convincing before the book’s Final Order Cutoff date on Monday, then have a look below for a five-page preview that provides a gorgeous showcase of Cummings’ art as Rory arrives in Tokyo. And maybe, if you’re good, I might throw something else in for good measure.
‘MAD MEN’ WITH CAPES: KYLE HIGGINS & ALEC SIEGEL TALK ‘C.O.W.L.’ AT COMIC-CON 2014
By Chris Sims
COWL is an Image Comics series which stylishly depicts an alternate history Chicago of the pre-”swinging” 1960s, when the (in)famously political city experienced all manner of socioeconomic upheaval — including the dissolution of the Chicago Organized Workers League. Also known as COWL, it’s a union for costumed superheroes, and its days are numbered.
Besides the very cool and original artwork of Rod Reis, we like COWL because it avoids some traps into which most non-Marvel and non-DC cape comics fall. Crucially, despite its “real-world” premise and period setting, COWL is not a Watchmen cover version, offering a decidedly less dour tone and honest-to-god superhero adventure blended deftly with its dramatic take on city politics. Sometimes it’s even really funny. The book also bucks the origin fetish of the superhero genre by introducing us to its intriguing cast not at the start of their sagas, but at what might be the end.
DESPAIR AT ITS FINEST: DAVID LAPHAM’S ‘MURDER ME DEAD’ [REVIEW]
By John Parker
When discussing the oeuvre of David Lapham, the comic that comes up again and again is obviously Stray Bullets. As great as Stray Bullets is, though, it tends to overshadow the rest of Lapham’s body of work rather unfairly in some cases.Despite the several very good comics that Lapham has produced besides his most famous title – including the incomplete Young Liars,the raucous Juice Squeezers, and of course WWF Battlemania – none can match the near-mythic level of quality and reputation of Stray Bullets, and tend to just get left out of the conversation.
The new trade paperback collection of Murder Me Dead, available now from Image Comics, could help change that trend. A dark, stirring, and emotionally manipulative noir about self-destruction, lies, and guilt, it may be the best “other” Lapham comic in his catalog.
I’ve written at great length about my love for David Lapham’s Stray Bullets, and the unbridled glee its rebirth at Image Comics has brought into my life. I even went so far as to proclaim it the best crime comic of all time, because my opinion carries so much goddamn weight. Since then, the new series, Stray Bullets: Killers has proven me absolutely correct, and initiated new readers to the mania and mayhem exclusive to its pages alone.
INTERVIEW: AMY REEDER TALKS ROCKET GIRL, KICKSTARTER AND REDEEMING ‘80S FASHION
By Juliet Kahn
Amy Reeder made a name for herself in the comics scene with Fools Gold from Tokyopop, but became a favorite of comics art lovers for her excellent occasionally breathtaking work on Vertigo’s Madame Xanadu, which saw the versatile stylist to depict a complex and beautiful heroine across vast expanses of time and in all the aesthetic luxury that affords. Her profile rose further with a major level up on Batwoman, synthesizing her manga storytelling influence with tightly rendered yet loose and dynamic action. Whether you quiet scenes with exquisite facial expressions and palpable mood, or diverse body types in the throes of big splash-page comic book action, Reeder’s got you covered.
Following those distinctly dramatic and darker works, Reeder teamed up with writer Brandon Montclare to create and later successfully Kickstart Halloween Eve, the story of a Halloween grinch who has to face down a costume store full of rubber masks and empty suits that start coming to life. The pair followed that up with Rocket Girl, another book funded by Kickstarter and ultimately released by Image.
Possibly the most Reeder book ever, Rocket Girl is about a teenage girl who’s a cop in the future sent back to the middle of the 1980s to investigate Time Crimes, and in so doing discovers secrets that reveal her utopian home-time isn’t so great after all. The premise allows Reeder to indulge herself fully, and in the best sense possible. Full of action, fashion and drama, Rocket Girl is a pleasure to read — partly because it’s obvious that its artist has so much fun drawing it.
We sat down with Amy Reeder at Comic-Con International in San Diego to talk about Rocket Girl, Kickstarter, and the evolution of her unmistakable style.
ERIC STEPHENSON’S KEYNOTE SPEECH FROM IMAGE EXPO 2014: DIVERSITY, ORIGINALITY, GRAVE-ROBBING
Image Comics held another one-day Image Expo in San Diego this week just ahead of San Diego Comic-Con, to shine a spotlight on a slate of upcoming titles, including new work from Rick Remender, Ray Fawkes, Marian Churchland, Jeff Lemire, and Becky Cloonan.
It was also a chance for Image publisher Eric Stephenson to talk about Image’s position in the comics market. In his keynote speech he called out his competitors for their reliance on “grave robbing the past,” hailed the importance of diversity, and derided the term “creator-driven”.
Above, you can also watch the nine-minute video that played before Stephenson’s speech, in which Stephenson and a host of Image creators acclaim the way Image allows creators to do what they want without micro-management or editorial oversight. As pointed out by Patrick Reed in his write-up of the live presentation earlier this week, the video fails to effectively reflect Stephenson’s belief in diversity amongst creators, featuring only one person who’s not a white male. But it should be noted that immediately following the screening of this video, Stephenson did introduce a number of women and persons of color to the stage to announce their new Image comics.
IMAGE EXPO: 12 AUSPICIOUS ANNOUNCEMENTS AND THE STATE OF THE AMERICAN COMICS UNION
In the final few hours before San Diego Comic-Con opened its doors to the public for Preview Night on Wednesday, Image Comics Expo took place in an upstairs ballroom at the nearby San Diego Bayfront Hilton, where the publisher welcomed a group of press, creators, and fans to watch as the company announced, discussed and otherwise promote a great variety of upcoming Image titles.
Britpop boomed over the speakers as the attendees filed into the room, which was set up in a manner familiar those who’ve watched Apple keynote presentations, but is still somewhat untraditional for comic book conventions. A few minutes after 2pm, Image publisher Eric Stephenson bounded onstage and launched into one of his now-customary keynote addresses, bemoaning what he described as the American comics industry’s penchant for recycling as opposed to innovating, and promised that the afternoon would expose readers to fresh ideas and bold new concepts. He name checked Marvel luminaries Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and Stan Lee’s reinvention of comics in the early 1960s as an ideal to be strived for; talked of his own passions and ambitions for Image as a company; showed off some sales graphs that demonstrated Image’s growth over the last few years; and spoke powerfully about the need for diversity in content in order to appeal to the widest possible audience.
“Comics have been viewed as a boys club, but that’s changing,” Stephenson said, referencing the growing conversation in our community about the need for more representation of women and persons of color both on the page and behind the scenes.
Perhaps unintentionally, Stephenson’s earnest remarks about comics diversity became conspicuous when he screened a short film outlining Image’s history, the policies and ideals that the company hopes to embody, and showcased clips of creators speaking about the freedom they enjoy working at the famously hands-off publisher. With the notable exception of writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, the film was essentially a succession of talented men talking about their love for comics. However, the optics would become a lot better very shortly, when Image’s new announcements (topics and people not discussed in the filmed presentation) came with numerous new projects created by women and persons of color.
But before those specific announcements, Stephenson discussed his belief that “creator-owned” — where writers and artists own the copyright and other rights to their own comic books — should be the industry standard, and spoke unfavorably of the rise of the term “creator-driven,” which has been used by some publishers to describe the idiosyncratic nature of their nevertheless company-owned publications. Stephenson described “creator-driven” as the bare minimum treatment acceptable in publishing. He spoke openly about how such comments often don’t make him friends with Image competitors, and positioned himself as a figure that welcomes controversy so long as that controversy leads to “better comics.”
The Image publisher then proceeded to put his money where his mouth was, segueing into the main event: new comics that Image hopes will rise to the standard of Stephenson’s bold rhetoric.
UNIVERSAL’S CABLE ARM PICKS UP REMENDER & DWYER’S ‘NIGHT MARY’, BARBIERE & MOONEYHAM’S ‘FIVE GHOSTS’ AND ORIGINAL SERIES BY WARREN ELLIS
Universal Cable Productions, the cable and digital arm of NBCUniversal, announced three new projects rooted in the comic book realm, including what will be Planetary and Transmetropolitan writer Warren Ellis’ first original series developed especially for television. Additionally, UCP optioned Night Mary, a 2005 IDW drama by Rick Remender and Kieron Dwyer about a young woman trained to enter the dreams of serial killers; and Five Ghosts, the recent critical hit from Image Comics/Black Mask Studios and creators Frank Barbiere and Chris Mooneyham, who tell the story of Fabian Gray, a 1930s adventurer possessed by the spirits of five literary ghosts — Merlin, Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes, Miyamoto Musashi, and Dracula. Five Ghosts began as a miniseries but its success resulted in an upgrade to ongoing, and now, it seems, an “upgrade” (because comics are the best, obviously) to television.
There’s no information about the Ellis project, but he’s working on it with producer Gale Ann Hurd, best known for numerous films with James Cameron as well as The Walking Dead.
FROM UNDER MOUNTAINS: MARIAN CHURCHLAND, CLAIRE GIBSON AND SLOAN LEONG SUBVERT CLICHÉS WITH A NEW FANTASY ADVENTURE
By Juliet Kahn
There will be magic in From Under Mountains, an ongoing fantasy series coming from Image in 2015 and announced at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Set in the world of Akhara, the story introduces us to a lord’s daughter, a disgraced knight, and a runaway thief whose unlikely partnership will change the course of a world locked in a bitter conflict between rival clans. There will be goblins and witches and knights as well, lost in the churning of a world in turmoil. Great houses will square off for power. Thieves will dash into the shadows. Naïve youths will learn that the world is vaster and more terrible than they ever imagined. In these warm, well-worn ways, it will embrace the best that fantasy, as a genre has to offer: sweeping scope grounded in the lives of heroes, villains, and everything in between.
Creators Marian Churchland, Claire Gibson, and Sloane Leong have worked on everything from Elephantmen to magical girl comics about anthropomorphic wolves, and they are bringing their varied experience to bear upon From Under Mountains and the fantasy genre in ways both familiar and innovative. ComicsAlliance talked with them to discuss breaking new ground with thoughtfulness, experience, and memories of Ursula Le Guin.