Paul Pope has done some awesome comics. Some of my favorite comics of all time actually. From his beginnings of Sin Titulo to the magic of THB, his mainstream work with an issue of the long lamented Spider-Man’s Tangled Web to his amazing Batman: Year 100 I was riding along. I was fortunate along that ride to have met him and spent time with not just as a fan but as an acquaintance and colleague so while we joke about it all the time, we go way back. It was things like his issue of SOLO and the 2007 PulpHope collection that cemented as a lifelong fan.
In 2012 though I saw a side of him I never realized existed. His work has always been dark, maybe even depressing and definitely adult. That year though he actually contributed a charming tale to the Adventure Time comic from BOOM! Kids which showed me he had heartwarming sensibilities that were still decisively Paul Pope.
Now with the upcoming BATTLING BOY (October 9th, 2013 with a a premiere release days later at New York Comic Con) he has shown me what charming, all ages work from Paul Pope can truly be with original characters, fisticuffs, fantasy, magic, and even sexiness in an accessible way while keeping that trademark style of heavy black inks, intricately detailed designs and just over the top weirdness.
BATTLING BOY seems to be telling two stories in one, but truly it is just one large story about that coming of age which can occur at various ages and for a variety of reasons.
Before we even meet the eponymous character at around what would be around the 10th page of issue 2 if this was released as a comic instead of a GN we meet a ton of characters, but most importantly a girl who soon has to grow up faster than she ever planned to in the most tragic of circumstances. One who feels she is both more than ready and who will never be ready for the challenges about to come her way. The city/world that BATTLING BOY exists in is fraught with danger, monsters, creatures, and even cosmic gods. Aurora West and her travails and tribulations are as important here as the ones we soon meet with the young Battling Boy. This lead character is from a lineage of warriors who force their young men to start adulthood early and possibly too early, but this is their way and it always has been. I almost feel like despite the very appropriate material for ages 10 & up that Paul is putting a little commentary in here. He could just of been influenced by some of the the greatest science fiction and fantasy novels of all time, but those themselves were social commentary.
What is so wonderful about BATTLING BOY is that as Paul intercedes this two young lives together with believability and a proper pacing, he also gives us insight into the everything surrounding them. We get an understanding of the government, the situations that the soldiers must deal with in a city under constant monster bombardment and we even peek into the minds and social lives of the evil ugly baddies at their secret shared watering hole.
On top of all that is the battle scenes. These are some of the best battle scenes ever. It helps that Battling Boy has a cool power associated with character shirts. It’s some really more hinted at in this first volume but knowing Paul it’ll really come to a head in the second. Luckily, based on my last conversation with Paul (at a watering hole actually) he’s deep into that second volume with even longer, better, crazier battles and I’m sure more of that great character and story.
BATTLING BOY is a hit out of the ballpark, grab it on October 9th at your local comic or book store (softcover $15.99/hardcover $24.99_ or if you’ll be at New York Comic Con grab it from First Second and since you’re in town head out to Society of Illustrators on October 11th for a special Paul Pope/Battling Boy event. Check out their site for more information and if you head to the Battling Boy book site you can also order the book there and see a preview from Issuu.
At Book Expo America 2013 I had the privilege and pleasure to sit with Entertainment producer and the writer of the upcoming (November 19th 2013), THE FIFTH BEATLE, Vivek Tiwary. Since then I have expectantly watched the news and excitement for the forthcoming Dark Horse book with baited breath. I have also unfortunately sat and then lost my notes from my short but insightful talk.
Here as best I can are portions of that talk to show how much this is truly Vivek’s labor of love and a book all fans of comics, The Beatles, music, life, biography or more would appreciate.
It was always designed and conceived as a graphic novel and Dark Horse was one of the earliest and therefore first to sign it on concept, with it being in production now between research and art for around three years. Vivek traveled to England and visited Liverpool, as well as the estate of Brian Epstein to truly understand the man as best one could.
Brian Epstein lived in a time when being who he was and equally being successful were quite an accomplishment. To be homosexual in a time when it was actually a crime, forcing him not just to be in the closet, but with no choice but to be, but to also be a Jew, as well a very liberal individual in political views was just not done. Epstein did do it though, while also being a very successful music manager. Not just for The Beatles but for Gerry and The Pacemakers, as well other notable acts. Of course none of them as big as The Beatles, but not many acts were bigger than The Beatles till stupid things like American Idol & Glee came along and that’s just not a fair comparison.
This book won’t be about The Beatles though, despite them being an integral part of Brian’s short life, it will truly be about Brian and pieced together in an exciting way featuring beautiful painted artwork from Andrew Robinson. As a comics artist I best know Andrew for his Image series Dusty Star but he’s also a great painter and he’s combing his sequential skills with his illustration to create some amazing pages.
One of the more interesting aspects of Brian’s life that I believe Vivek is going to focus on are his difficulty at being able to actually have a lover, not because of it being taboo, but being an actual crime to open. He’ll also touch upon some of the rumors and made critical, but basic decisions based on discussions he had with friends and family. A lot of the information he used also exists on the bibliography on the main site for the book, but he states that many of those books are not enjoyable reads and/or are out of print and hard to find. This comic book will also allow a whole new unexplored demographic a chance to appreciate Brian Epstein and his amazing story.
As you saw on this website prior to both the Asbury Comic Con and MoCCaFest I wrote preview articles, but I have yet to go back and actually do follow ups and I it’s high time I do that as best as I can.
On the train to Asbury I got lucky enough to end up sitting next to two guys who would actually be tabling with their comic FIRST LAW OF MAD SCIENCE. Co-writer Mike Isenberg gain me issue 1 gratis and like a good drug dealer who knows his product is quality I ended up buying issues 2 & 3 later on at the show and am on board for anymore they release.
When I arrived in Asbury I had no clue where to go so I followed a bunch of folks who were heading in the direction of the con. I knew they were headed to the con because I was following a bunch of cartoonists I knew from conventions. Once I had my bearings I decided to walk around Asbury itself and discover the place.
I saw a bunch of restaurants I wanted to try out if I ever come back. I also found the graffiti and a few stores, although most were closed. There’s also a pinball museum/arcade and a few abandoned spots. Asbury is just an amazing spot. It also has The Stone Pony, which I had totally forgotten.
After I had looked around for a reasonable time I headed over to the show. The Asbury Convention center is a nice sized place. I could see wrestling events, basketball games, concerts, etc, doing really well there. I never made it across the street to the bar where the panels were because the convention was way larger than I expected. It wasn’t just the main floor with vendors, indie folks and the legends together, but in what would be considered the hallways to reach the other levels, tables lined the walls of various indie artists and creators. There was a lot to experience in it all and it was quite exciting actually. I actually ended up buying way more books than I planned on and I got a lot of nice sketches and saw people I totally didn’t expect to.
Puck & Wendigo from behind by Mike Dawson, inspired by his Ink Panthers broadcast
Eventually I felt con exhaustion hit me and I wanted to explore Asbury a bit more as well and since I was going to get a ride back into Manhattan, I had to grab the 2 hour trip back on the train.
Next year they’re planning on making Asbury 2 days. I hope they see about it maybe being during the summer months as well maybe. I could totally see myself coming in on a Friday afternoon and leaving Sunday with a fully full Asbury experience. Hopefully shared with a special someone.
As March roles around in 2013 it’s a time of lots and lots of action and adventure on all my favorite pop-culture fronts.
I don’t get to enjoy all of them, being conflicts, financial issues, whatever, but they’re there for the taking.
For the video game lover you have PAXEast which is quickly followed by the Game Developer’s Conference/Independent Games Festival and there’s also E3 (yet that is an industry only event).
For the wrestling fan, the weekend of April 5-7 is big for anyone willing to travel to NYC/NJ for some super craziness. It’s not just Wrestlemania weekend. That show brings with it a sold out Ring of Honor PPV and TV taping the next day, the Hall of Fame at Madison Square Garden, after parties to the Hall of Fame such as Shenanigans and MVP at Caroline’s and then there’s Wrestlecon at Meadowlands Colliseum where Chikara, Shimmer, Dragongate, Evolve, etc. are all together along with tons of legends and even Hulk Hogan to throw the best alternative to WWE ever. Although crazy rich people find a way to do everything!
I didn’t make it to PAX or GDC, I will not be at any of the wrestling stuff. I’ll be focusing on another major love of mine, comics. A lot of comics shows are going on as well.
This Saturday is the Asbury Comic Con, equally is Wondercon. The weekend after is both FLUKE and MoCCAFest. I’ll be at Asbury and volunteering at MoCCA so the bulk of this article will be focusing on those, BUT before we get to them, some quick things.
The big deal at PAX and GDC for me were DoubleFine’s first official reveal of BROKEN AGE, the game that has been in development as DFA/REDS from their big Kickstarter project which I am a major backer. I’ll probably write a ton about it eventually, but for now? Here’s the official trailer revealed to the “world” at GDC Awards and uploaded to Youtube directly after.
If I could go to Wrestlecon I’d be all over that Chikara part of it. I really want to see who Mike Quackenbush brings as his mystery partner against Shard & Jigsaw. The ROH show when SCUM should basically decimate a bunch of ROH guys should be fun too, but I can’t go… I made commitments and I’m excited for them.
If you make it out to FLUKE make a point of checking out whatever Kyle Starks has going on at his table, I’m sure whatever it is will be freaking awesome.
So coming this Saturday is the Asbury ComicCon. I have missed it when it started as just a small gathering at a bowling alley. That always sounded quite awesome, but I just never made it out there. Now it’s moved to the convention center, but is still trying to keep the just a comics con feel in a place like the boardwalk of Asbury. There’s a couple of highlights at the show and some of them share an appearance at next weekend’s MoCCaFest as well.
At Asbury there’s the official book release party/debut of the collected DEADHORSE.
As well the only east coast appearance of Box Brown for now that I know of, as he’ll be at SPOKE next weekend. Oh wait, Toronto is the East Coast.
Bryan G. Brown and Dre Grigoropol will be debuting their comic Blueberry Boy of Asbury Park, approriately relaying some experiences from last years Asbury ComicCon!
Asbury also has some amazing panels. In particular Brian O’Halloran (best known to most as Dante Hicks from the Clerks films will be sitting with Mike and Ming of Comic Book Men. Also, John Holmstrom will have a discussion with Asbury Comiccon co-promoter Cliff Galbraith. Both these panels make the entire show worth it. Yet the fact that Danny Fingeroth also has sit down sessions with Al Jaffe and Bob Camp in talk with Craig Yoe just add to it as well. Throw in a ton of creators who actually will not be appearing at any other convention anytime soon and you have what is an awesome pre-Easter (if you do Easter) event.
Head over to the Asbury Comic Con website (the link is in the words or click on that banner to your right) and get your tickets now and enjoy your Saturday, March 30, 2013, in New Jersey… of all places).
As said prior the weekend of April 6-7th, 2013 I’ll be at MoCCaFest 2013. I attempted to find out all the major debuts and such by hunting through Twitter and Google Blog search and didn’t find tons of info, but what I did shall be below. MoCCa is amazing show. This will be my 11th year attending including the one year I almost didn’t go, but went anyways. Crazy to even think that. Here’s some highlights I could find.
Peter Kuper will debuting and signing a limited edition version of his new book.
Matt Miner who recently had the successful Kickstarter campaign for his comic LIBERATOR will be around with exclusives.
The future of comics is a precarious place, as print is still alive and well and should be for awhile, the digital format is making great leaps and bounds. From the advent of Comixology and its build in sales, not to mention Marvel’s success with their digital subscription, the winds of change have been blowing.
Kurt Christenson and Reilly Brown really began the rally in my eyes of what might be possible with the digital format through their comic POWER PLAY. Although Motion comics aren’t a new thing altogether. Even before Marvel started doing their motion comics, companies like Bryon Preiss Multimedia were playing with the idea of combining sound and motion in comics and during its existence Crossgen also worked on it, but the new tablet/mobile format, as well as advances in technology has pushed things to another level altogether.
Two new companies are at the forefront of the movement, MADEFIRE and NARR8 and currently both are offering their applications, as well as their associated books for free. I attempted in speaking to PR people for both companies to get a better understanding of how they got their investment capital and what type of profit return exists in terms of the future of the business, but to no avail. Saying that I did learn a lot of other things about each company and will explain why both are worth your time and quality of life to experience.
Madefire is the brainchild of marketing genius Ben Wolstenholme, founder of Moving Brands, long established comics artist Liam Sharp and Mobile Technology/Cloud Computing Guru Eugene Walden. It features some of the most well known and talented comics creators of both recent and legendary status with features that run from superhero to noir. Some of the folks involved are Dave Gibbons, Robbie Morrison, Jimmy Broxton (or James Hodgkins as rumors state), Sheperd Hendrix, Dougie Braithwaite, Angus McKie, Mike Carey and an assortment of other folks that any comic book fan truly worth their salt should at least marginally know of. The application currently features six series, my personal fave being what is also considered their lead feature, a book based in noir, horror, and war action in a wonderful pastiche of concepts from the one non comics guy on the brand, co-founder Ben Wolstenholme (although assisted by Liam). I’m also very intrigued by the Gary Erskine illustrated sci-fi story written by former video-game producer turned comics writer W. Haden Blackman tackling his first original IP. I am hoping in the future some of Blackman’s understanding of interactive entertainment may be used in Madefire’s future. The infrastructure of Madefire as a whole is actually truly fascinating. Moving Brands unsurprisingly helped a lot with the development of the product and its marketing and there’s an awesome web page dedicated to it in their portfolio.
On the other end of the spectrum NARR8 is a complete start-up full of unknown artist studios based in Russia. The website states that the founder is Alexandr Vashchenko, with the main investor being IMI.VC and naming Igor Matshyneko, the lead at IMI.VC as the CEO of NARR8. Alexandr is also the lead at one of the main arms of IMI.VC, mobile gaming company GameInsight. This suggests to me that they are all one company under the head of very creative, intelligent men and woman with headquarters in Moscow and San Francisco. At New York Comic Con I was more than fortunate to sit with the head of public relations on Narr8’s part, Alisa Faber and get a bit of a more hands on look at NARR8 and I have to admit, as much as Madefire is awesome because of it’s immense lineup of quality ,well known creators, NARR8 ups the ante in terms of interactive application and a new way of reading comics, novels and even magazines. In terms of the magazines they have a popular science magazine titled PARADIGM and a historical one called CHRONOGRAPHICS. In this issue of Paradigm, which was the first episode of season 1 (this is how they are marking issues, as episodes of a season) it showed off the optics how different animals view the world. Through an excellent combination of animation, interaction, well-written text and fantastic photography I could see how birds, butterflies, bulls, and insects among more see with an added bonus at thend of showing how each spieces would see the same exact scene. It was both fun and informative, which can equally be said of the history magazine. In the second episode of that series, the topic is a very vast look titled “Cortez and the Conquest of Mexico” which takes both a very serious look at the history, while evoking some fun with it through very clever animations. The work is broken down into date segments and almost has the feel of when reading through those historical txts in Assassin’s Creed games where you choose to emerge yourself in the world and accidentally get educated, here you choose to get educated, but also have fun while doing so. Below here’s some soundless video that shows off Paradigm and Chronographics “in action”, just to give you a small taste of the awesome available. The same work and energy went into the comics I speak of the next paragraph.
The comics I got to see were Final Feat, based in mythology and JAM, which is a mangaesque story based in Video Games and also features some awesome 8-Bit music. One of the cooler features is that when you stay on a panel long enough you’ll get to see some animation and in some cases clicking on the page will show off another interactive element. This was even more clear in the two prose features I got to scope in FEAR HUNTERS and MULTIVERSE. Multiverse actually really holds onto a tried and true concept on some of my favorite sci-fi novels, the random footnote, but displaying it through much more interesting and intriguing means, such as pop-ups or video animations within the screen itself. I am highly impressed that all this work is being developed from script, to art, to technology, music and animation as well as the proprietary engine within the Narr8 page which runs the HTML 5 data or in certain cases Unity.
Narr8 will hopefully be launching sometime soon, with over 11 titles which you should definitely check all of them out. Unfortunately at launch it will only be on iPad, but Android tablets will come next, followed by mobile and according to what I see, on the website itself as well. This last one excites me personally most, as reading comics while sitting at my desk is ideal.
A couple weeks back I was happy to attend a Launch Party for the collected edition ofTEEN BOAT by Dave Roman and John Green. I’ve been reading and enjoying their work separately and together since way with their book Quicken Forbidden and following through with their work in the FLIGHT anthologies, various mini comics, Agnes Quill, and much more. The party featured books, a boat, food, musical performances and fun. I filmed some of it and made a video.
The following video has gotten some praise and heads up from individuals involved in it and now I share it officially on my website.
I’m betting some might be curious of the musical loop I invented for this. Well, I personally titled it “The OK GO Show Around The World Raises the Banner!” Hopefully no one ever feels that I should get punished since I’m not making any money off this thing.
At this year’s (2012) MoCCA Fest on top of the books I got and the footage I shot (coming very soon) I also came up with a fun sketchbook concept of an Exquisite Corpse. I knew a concept like this meant I’d probably end up with way less sketches than I’ve usually gotten in the past, by handing out up to three different sketchbooks during a convention and picking them up at different points. I spent some time putting together the final works into a sort of readable collage which you can see below. As Lars says at the end, Enjoy!
Car chases, attempted murder, mansions on the hill, underground prisons, psychopaths, agents, directors, actors, cops, criminals, lawyers, big whigs, buxom babes, nudity, sex, drugs, death, destruction… sounds like a regular day in Hollywood doesn’t it? At least the Hollywood of the movies, but for Charlie Hardie it’s the most atypical day in usually decidedly chosen humdrum life.
Excitement was the norm for him, till one day and for the last few years he’s done everything in his power to have the most basic, boring life possible. Life doesn’t ever go the way one plans, especially when the man running your life is writer Duane Swiercynski.
This isn’t how the Charlie Hardie trilogy of FUN & GAMES (June 2011), HELL & GONE(October 2011) and POINT & SHOOT (scheduled for 2013) begins, but that’s the crux of the matter. I became a real fan of Duane’s through his work on CABLE Vol.2 , in which Nate Summers and an unnamed child travel through a crazy future. I had been marginally introduced to him prior through his book The Blonde, but it was with Fun & Games that his brand of high octane, high adventure, crazy twists and wilder turns really grabbed me and have turned me into an always and future fan.
As with some of the best of crime noir fiction, the Charlie Hardie series is very visual. As you go through each passage, there is no way to not envision how this book would be translated on to the big screen with any of the current aging action stars of the 80s who are still kicking ass and taking names at the helm. Personally I see Val Kilmer or Russell Crowe when I close my eyes and/or pour through the pages, but I’m not a movie executive or a financier or even someone with the money to buy the rights to take the energy on a script adaptation, no, here I’m just a fan who thinks you should be as well.
Swiercynski takes the choice of an almost fourth person approach here, jumping from the perspective of various characters, including the peripheral. This style is kept up through both books and while jarring at first, it allows a really inventive way of revealing bits and pieces of a much larger whole. As much as this is Charlie’s adventure, there is so much more going on and each clue, hint, tid bit and revelation into this huge architecture Duane has built just expands in such ways that you can pretty much completely understand why he’s taking his time with the third book. Originally this trilogy was going to come hard and fast, June and October of 2011 and then March of 2012. After finishing Hell & Gone and then reading the first openings of Point & Shoot at the end of it, I was salivating at the bit for the final chapter, wondering how after how large, crazy and thrilling the second book was, it could be topped. That’s the idea with a trilogy right? To keep building and building. Not that there’s many trilogy to compare to. In its own way Charlie Hardie’s story and Duane’s concept to do it as three self-contained but completely interconnected books is truly quite original. The only real trilogies I can even think of in literature that may have begun as being conceptually the same is the work of Robertson Davis, all other trilogies have such different histories and origins.
One of the most fascinating things from this fourth person style of different perspectives is you gain an appreciation and interest for everyone involved, even the people who die or the people who just seem like they’re pure evil. It is one of the most amazing aspects of the writing that would definitely get lost in transition from page to screen.
I must say I enjoyed HELL & GONE much more than FUN & GAMES. There’s just so much intrigue, character development and the type of nail biting I personally love. FUN & GAMES for most the most part is escaping the horror, not stopping for one moment to explore, while HELL & GONE is the locked chamber, with no where to run, so you better figure out how to just survive till you can escape. I can only guess that the final book is the insanity where you try to decide to go into the lion’s den.
FUN & GAMES and HELL & GONE were published by Mulholland Books and are availabile at all fine book retailers and in all e-book formats.
I’d made a decision with DC’s New 52 to take advantage of thinking of it as a jumping off point. A perfect opportunity to start ordering less comics and focus my financial energies elsewhere.
This was not a boycott or a hatred of the re-launch. It seemed like a fine idea to me. Weird and strangely done, but I was ok with it. I was even feeling regretful when they announced books like ANIMAL MAN and the new Western title. Some of these books look great.
I really thought though that before the relaunches all the current books would have satisfying tie-ups where one could walk away from the book feeling like “It goes on, but this is a stop point.”. I expected no actual cliff-hangers.
Then I get Green Lantern #67, the conclusion to War of the Green Lanterns. Half the issue is a set up for Green Lantern #1. Maybe it’ll be tied up tightly in Aftermath of the War, but I betting that that book will instead be filler for the month Green Lantern isn’t published. This pisses me off.
I am just going to have to reconcile myself to not care.
I am slowly trying to drop some Marvel books as well.
Even if money was no object I’d be doing this. I need to taper off the books, as the stories are becoming to hit or miss.
I’d rather focus all my energies on more “independent books” that have been consistent or newer properties that have great creators behind them and not a lot of messy continuity.
Here are four books that fit that category now currently for me.
Sergio Aragonés’ Funnies: Published by BONGO as Sergio has been doing some great Simpson’s stuff for them, it is great to see Sergio let loose. He is a funny funny man and funnier than ever here.
Roger Landridge’s Snarked: Everything Landridge touches is gold, Fred the Clown, Thor, The Muppets and now he’s tackling Lewis Carroll. The #0 reprints Hunting of the Snark and Walrus and the Carpenter and I cannot wait to see how he expands the Wonderland Universe. I trust he will do even better than Tommy Kovak and Sonny Liew, even though that was an amazing book.
The Boys: Garth Ennis and Darrick Robertson continue to kick ass on this book. Russ Braun as the current artist as Darrick tackles Butcher’s origin is amazing and John McCrea has done some of the best work of his life here as well.
The Unwritten: While I’m not reading DC Comics anymore, I’ll be sticking with Vertigo. Scalped ends at issue #60… so that leaves me Unwritten by Mike Carey and Peter Gross. It’s truly one of the most compelling books I get monthly.