Friday, January 29, 2016

SCUTTLEBUTT 2016 #3: pop culture news as of Friday, January 29

 compiled from various press releases and web sites . . . . .

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IDW’S RARITY REPORT


IDW Publishing continues to pioneer over-sized collector’s editions of original artwork, prints and special items of interest.  Their latest offerings include a signed, limited-edition hardcover of NOS4A2, the recent novel by author Joe Hill with 26 new chapter illustrations by C. P. Wilson III, as well as a full-color dust jacket and an illustrated map of Christmasland, a debased cloth cover as well as the inclusion of the prequel comic, WRAITH, written by Hill and illustrated by Wilson.

 

Also available for order now is the latest entry in IDW’s Marvel Artist Select Series, an exclusive line of limited-edition books (999 copies only) featuring iconic issues from Marvel’s most legendary artists.  Presented in an oversized 9” x 13” format, each book features issues hand-picked by the artists, beginning with Sal Buscemi’s favorite work on THE INCREDIBLE HULK.  This volume is available in two versions, one signed and one featuring an original pen and ink illustration by Sal Buscema.

THE ONLY LIVING BOY ON TOUR and PAPERCUTZ NEWS

The popular web-comic THE ONLY LIVING BOY begins print editions in March from Papercutz Publishing. Erik Farrell is a 12-year-old who runs away from home only to wake up on a stran007312a7 240f 448b 88e2 34a6c061b99ege, patchwork planet  The escape, he must team up with an insect princess and a mermaid warrior.  The creators, Steve Ellis and David Gallaher, are touring to promote the series. In addition to signings, they will also offer workshops to teach kids how to create their own comic books.  Here is the schedule so far:  March 5 at Aw Yeah Comics in Harrison, NY; March 6 at Comic Book Jones in Staten Island NY; March 9 at Elk in Brooklyn, NY; March 18-20 at C2E2 convention in Chicago; April 2 at Brainstorm Comics in Frederick, MD; and April 3 at Victory Comics in Falls Church, VA.  

     Available next week in both a 56-page soft cover paperback and hardcover edition is SANJAY AND CRAIG VOL 2:  NEW KID ON THE BLOCK containing six new stories.  The boy and his best snake pal are chilling the only way they know how.   SANJAY AND CRAIG, now in its third television season, has an all ages appeal.  Kids love the fresh humor and adults can appreciate the similar style to Bob’s Burgers, a popular prime time animated series.   Guest stars have included Snoop Dogg, Anthony Bourdain, and the 90’s hosts of Nickelodeon Guts.

    THE SMURFS continue to be popular.  From bookstores to mobile apps, everyone is Surfing up in timer their new feature film to be released next March.  The new mobile game, Smurfs Epic Run, was featured in a USA Today article.  Sony announced plans for an indoor theme park in Minnesota, set to open at the end of next year. Fellow Peyo creation BENNY BREAKIRON featured in last year’s SMURFS & FRIENDS VOL. 1 was recently honored with a mural in his native Belgium.  Benoit Brisefer, as the super boy is known in French, was created by Peyo in 1960.  Papercutz has published four volumes of his adventures and is now collecting Benny in the SMURFS & FRIENDS anthology series.   The international visibility for the Peyo properties continues at Papercutz with a growing line of graphic novels.  SMURFS VOL 20: DOCTOR SMURF will be in comic stores this March. 

RAMON GIL PREVIEWS A NEW SCI-FI WEB COMIC

     The prolific independent creator Ramon Gil has posted a new science-fiction themed web comic, THE HARD CODE, on his website.  You can preview it and then subscribe if you like it at  

http://www.ramongil.com   

The Hard Code was a dream come true for me as I got to work with one of my favorite artists - - Trevor Von Eden.  This is the story of two cops, one human, one android, and how they must prevent a coming war between man and machine while trying to figure out their true feelings for each other.”  

FOR MATURE READERS ONLY.  Colors by Macarena Cortes. 

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     PROGRESS ON AMERICAN GODS CABLE  TV SHOW 

     As reported by Paste Magazine at . . . . .

 http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/01/neil-gaimans-american-gods-adaptation-has-found-     it.html?utm_source=PMNL&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=160128

Starz cable network and Fremantle Media have cast the lead in their adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s epic fantasy novel American Gods.  Ricky Whittle, currently part of the cast on CW Network’s The 100, will play the story’s main protagonist, Shadow Moon.  

In the novel Shadow Moon, an ex-con and bodyguard to the con artist Mr. Wednesday, finds himself in the middle of a war between old gods from mythology and new gods from modern technology.  The series has an impressive production team, with Brian Fuller (Hannibal) and Michael Green (Heroes) serving as writers and David Slade (Hannibal) directing the pilot and several episodes. 


 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

SCUTTLEBUTT 2016: #2: The news as of January 27, 2016

compiled from various press releases, and web site bulletins . . . . . . . 

LOOK INSIDE FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2016 COMICS

Fre173785 832591 3e Comic Book Day 2016 takes place 100 days from now at your local comic shop.  There is an advance look at 50 of the possible free choices you can get on May 7th.  Go to this Free Comic Book Day site to see cover scans of the issues . . . . . . . . .

http://www.freecomicbookday.com/Home/1/1/27/981

DC COMICS ANNOUNCE FREE COMIC BOOK DAY TITLES

In anticipation of the August 5 screen debut of SUICIDE SQUAD the movie, writer Adam Glass and artist Marco Rudy introduce the villains that take on the dirtiest jobs in the DC universe.  The special edition of SUICIDE SQUAD #1 for Free Comic Book Day includes the first chapter of the graphic novel SUICIDE SQUAD VOL 1: KICKED IN THE TEETH.

The other FCBD title from DC is a sneak peek of the upcoming original grap173785 832592 4hic novel DC SUPER HERO GIRLS: FINAL CRISIS, courtesy of Shea Fontana and Yancey Labat.  

MARVEL COMICS ANNOUNCES FREE COMIC BOOK DAY TITLES

With FCBD CIVIL WAR II #1fans can get their very first taste of the ensuing war this May.  Before hero stands against hero, Brian Michael Bendis and Jim Cheung bring you a snapshot of the conflict that will split the Marvel Universe in two.  In the second story, writer Mark Waid and artist Alan Davis introduce a mysterious new character with the All-New Wasp.  

Steve Rogers, the original Captain America, returns to comics this May, with a special unveiling in FCBD CAPTAIN AMERICA #1, featuring the reinvigorated Steve Rogers as Captain America.  Writer Nick Spencer and artist Jesus Saiz present one of Steve’s first adventures since his dramatic return in the pages of AVENGERS: STANDOFF.  The second feature is a special prelude to DEAD NO MORE, with a first look at the storyline coming later this year.  If you had a chance to bring back someone who died, would you?  And how will “classified” deal when ones they thought long dead once again walk the earth?

                                         

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Keeping the FAITH earns her own book

FAITH #1 of 4  (Valiant Entertainment, March 2016)  “Faith Begins, Part 1”  Jody Houser, writer.  Francis Portela, artist.  Marguerite Sauvage, fantasy sequence art.  Joe Quinones, re-cap art.  Andrew Dalhousie, color art.  Dave Sharpe, letterer.  

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     Of all the current Valiant Universe characters, Faith Herbert a.k.a. Zephyr is one of the most beloved.  It’s time for her to have her own book, and with any luck this four-issue limited series is just the beginning.

     What makes her so likable is her ultra positive mental attitude and her approach to everyday life, loving and savoring every minute.  She’s not another cut-out from the cookie cutter mold of heroine, physically and mentally endowed and brimming with confidence. She’s a full figure woman, a true heavyweight who’s not ashamed of her physical appearance.  She’s still relatively new to the game, still learning and often uncomfortable with her abilities.  Orphaned at an early age, she was raised by her grandmother and found comfort in a steady diet of comics, science fiction and fantasy.  She’s a bonafide geek and wears that badge proudly, often dropping references to her favorites works and characters.

    She’s one of the original Valiant Universe characters, created in the 1980’s by Jim Shooter.  She stood apart from the rest of the crowd then, and she still does today.  During Valiant’s rebirth in the 21st century, writer Joshua Dysart added more layers to her character, bringing additional depth and emotions.  She possesses telekinetic abilities that give her the power of flight, as well as being able to mentally move objects or people.  Her latent ‘psiot’ abilities were discovered early by the Harbinger Foundation and she mentored there until she realized the subversive nature of it’s founder, escaped, and became a member of The Renegades. When that group of high powered psiots broke up, she briefly joined Unity until realizing that she didn’t meet the requirements nor did she want to be part of their methodology.  She also had a falling-out with Torque, her Renegade love interest. 

     FAITH the series finds her latest adventures being handled by a new creative team.  It will be interesting to see how writer Jody Houser and artist Francis Portela handle the character. (Please don’t break her.)  They wisely utilize first-person narration in the captions to bring us up to date on Faith’s new circumstances.  It also allows her personality and beliefs to come to the surface.

     FAITH finds Ms. Herbert striking out on her own, moving to a new city (Van Nuys, California) and setting up a new life. It’s no surprise to see her taking inspiration from one of her favorite characters and respectfully adopting (not pure imitation) some familiar tropes:  working for a news organization (an entertainment blog site), and adopting a secret identity (Summer Smith) complete with wig and glasses. The supporting cast at the offices of Zipline are intriguing and could provide further engagement once we learn more about them in future issues. 

    Like anyone raised in isolation who finds solace in a dream world, Faith still mentally has moments of escape to her fantasies, allowing for more of her character to be revealed. Wisely, these fantasy moments are illustrated by a different artist (Marguerite Sauvage) whose whimsical style is perfectly suited for these interludes. Portela’s art style on the rest of the book is very fluid and appealing, especially in the action sequences and scenes of flight.

      Issue #1 begins with action, and foreshadows the conflict awaiting Faith / Zephyr.  In a brief, unexplained chase scene, two shaven-head, uniformed captives flee through a wooded area from menacing pursuers. Zephyr will quickly transition from apprehending small-time criminals to become immersed in the search for these two missing teens.   Things develop quickly; and this one ends in a cliff-hanger.   

FAITH #1  is our choice to pick up and try from the new releases for Wednesday, January 27.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

GHASTLY AWARDS announce new trophy, judge

from the official press release . . . . . . . . . . . .GA Logo

The Ghastly Awards are Proud to Introduce You to the New Ghastly Award Trophy

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Thanks to our amazing sponsors and a very successful fund raising campaign this year, the Ghastly Awards were able to have an official trophy created. Showcasing the master craftsmanship of Artist Gus Clark, these trophies are something to behold. The Ghastly Awards are proud to be able to offer these to this year's Winners.

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The Ghastly Awards are Proud to Announce Celebrity Judge John Everson

Starting in 2016 the Ghastly Award Judges will be joined by a Celebrity Horror Judge to help in determining the Ghastly Award Winners. The Celebrity Judge will have a Horror background in media other than Comics. We are happy to announce our first Celebrity Judge, John Everson.D1709634 8670 4c11 8af6 67786647be49
John Everson is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of eight novels of horror and the macabre, including his latest, the Fountain of Youth thriller THE FAMILY TREE, as well as the Bram Stoker Award-nominated tour de force NIGHTWHERE, the Bram Stoker Award-winner COVENANT, its sequel SACRIFICE and the standalone novels THE 13TH, SIREN, THE PUMPKIN MAN, VIOLET EYES.   Learn more about John on his site, www.johneverson.com

The 2016 Ghastly Award Nominees will be announced February 1, 2016 at www.GhastlyAwards.com

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Judges:
Decapitated Dan, Mike Howlett
, Denise Dutton, Daniel Viney and James Ferguson.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

SCUTTLEBUTT 2016 #1 - - for January 24

EDITOR’S NOTE:  The SCUTTLEBUTT column returns with our first installment for 2016.  This is meant to be a quick summary of recent events in the comics world (and other pop culture genres from time to time) pulled from various press releases, websites and blogs.  According to Wikipedia “Scuttlebutt” in slang usage means rumor or gossip, deriving from the nautical term for the cask used to serve water.  The term corresponds to the colloquial concept of a water cooler in an office setting, which at times becomes the focus of congregation and canal discussion.  Water for immediate consumption on a s sailing ship was conventionally store in a scuttled butt: a butt (cask) which had been scuttled by making a hole in it so the water could be withdrawn.  Since sailors exchanged gossip when they gathered at the scuttlebutt for a drink of water, scuttlebutt became Navy slang for gossip or rumors.  Thanks, Wikipedia for that detailed explanation!  We plan to focus on what we perceive as pure news versus gossip or rumors, but from time to time . . . . . .

PREVIEWS CATALOG ARRIVES IN COMIC STORES THIS WEEK.  

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Don’t forget to pick up a copy of the new PREVIEWS catalog from your comic store this Wednesday, January 27.  Each month, PREVIEWS showcases what products are being released in April 2016.  It’s a great way to make sure you don’t miss anything. Comic shops rely on their regular customers to pre-order books.  This helps the comic shop make sure they don’t run out of items that their customers want, and helps them avoid over-ordering books.  Support your local comic shop and use this valuable resource on a monthly basis.

     In addition to upcoming April comics and graphic novels, each issue features new magazines, toys and merchandise (cards, gaming, clothing, videos and more) that can also be ordered directly through your local comics store.  It’s an indispensable tool that we at BC Refugees use on a regular basis.  It’s the foundation for our Pre-Order Picks columns that began this month, where we focus on a new title that can be pre-ordered through the current PREVIEWS catalog.  It will be dedicated to titles that probably won’t find their way to many comic shop shelves, but will really depend on pre-orders from interested readers.   

HIGHLIGHTS OF BOOKS BEING RELEASED WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 27 2016.

Here are the books we recommend you check out this week:  HELLBOY WINTER SPECIAL from Dark Horse Comics;  FAITH #1 of 4 from Valiant Entertainment;  INVADER ZIM TP VOL 1 from Oni Press;  BATMAN AND ROBIN ETERNAL #17 from DC Comics;  and STRAYER #1 from AfterShock Comics.

ALIENS ARRIVE FROM A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY 
While you are waiting for the latest STAR WARS book to be released, you can read some Star Wars - inspired web comics for free courtesy of independent creator Ramon Gil.  An ancient Inuit poem may reveal the secrets of the Pacific Northwest and how beings from another universe may have ended up on Earth. 
Read the whole story at www.ramongil.com  and subscribe for more.
 
ARCHER & ARMSTRONG RETURN IN MARCH                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ARCHER & ARMSTRONG return to comics in a new ongoing series from Valiant Entertainment beginning March 16th.  We loved the former series scripted by 23bd7bb3 0f5a 4253 8c72 1cd9347f66b5Fred Van Lente and were sorry to see it go.  The new series looks to retain the humor that made it so special.  New creative team will be writer Rafer Roberts (Plastic Farm) and artist David Lafuente (Ultimate Spider-Man).  In the first issue, Archer has to plumb the depths of Armstrong’s bottomless satchel to free his partner from an ages-old enemy . . but only if he can fight his way through a mind-bending maze of history’s greatest lost treasures first.  Armstrong is an immortal adventurer who has spent the last 7,000 years drinking and carousing through history.  Archer is a teenage martial arts master and expert marksman who was raised to kill the devil (in the personage of Armstrong).  Now they are great friends and partners.  Bacchus is the demon imprisioned in Armstrong’s satchel for centuries, and now commands a legion of monsters bent on escaping into the world of man.  Armstrong actually went  into the satchel in search of a long-lost bottle of whiskey and became imprisoned. 

NINJAK DEBUTS NEW STORY ARC IN APRIL
Following the Shadowman story arc, Ninjak begins a new story and jumping-on point in April with NINJAK #14.  Rook, a ruthless assassin with a mysterious connection to Colin King's (Ninjak)own classified training re-emergesto engineer a mind-shattering gauntlet of revenge “The Siege of King’s Castle.”  Writer Matt Kindt and artist Diego Bernard open a new chapter by destroying the life Colin King one knew one brick at a time. Stripped of the wealth, technology and resources that enabled his career as an international intelligence operative, Ninjak will be forced to reply on his firsts and cunning alone . . . even as Roku’s mission of revenge and retribution unearths stunning new revelations about his origin and true purpose. 

ANOTHER SUGGESTION FOR PRE-ORDER FROM THE CURRENT PREVIEWS CATLOG:  DELETE
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This MIMG 5547arch, Devil’s Due/1 First is bringing a new series to local comic shops in DELETE by writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray with art by John Timms.  DELETE takes place in the near future where science can implant or remove human memories, and the government uses this technology to their advantage.
   
   The series follows an unusual pair — Kalina, a mute girl and Spencer, a handyman — after Kalina witnesses a multiple murder  The two are on the run from the police and an army of killers.  Who conducted the murders?  Why?  What will happen to Kalina and Spencer once they are captured?
   
   DELETE #1 is scheduled to release on March 2, 2016 featuring cover art by Amanda Conner.

  









 

 








Saturday, January 23, 2016

SPECTRUM available during Free Comic Book Day 2016

Alan Tudyk Covers the Whole ‘Spectrum’ of Free Comic Book Day Details in a New Video

From The Official Press Release . . . . . . .          

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(BALTIMORE, MD) – (January 22, 2016)-  With slightly more than 100 days left until Free Comic Book Day 2016, it’s time for comic fans to start planning how they will be spending the first Saturday in May. Thankfully, actor Alan Tudyk has provided a video with information to get people excited about this 15th annual nationwide event!

Tudyk, perhaps best known for his role as Hoban 'Wash' Washburne in the cult sci-fi Western series Firefly, has teamed up with co-star Nathan Fillion to present the first Spectrum comic from their highly successful webseries, Con Man!  Tudyk will pen with comic with novelist/producer PJ Haarsma (The Softwire Series) and artist Sarah Stone (Transformers). 

Fans can learn more about the title, as well as general information about Free Comic Book Day, in a new video and interview starring Tudyk on the Free Comic Book Day website and Facebook page: http://bit.ly/SpectrumTudyk2016 

You can get your own copy of Con Man’s Spectrum FCBD 2016 Edition and 49 other titles for free (absolutely free, for real!) at select comic shops nationwide only on May 7th.

For more FCBD news and updates, visit www.freecomicbookday.com and become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/freecomicbook and follow on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/freecomicbook or Instagram at freecomicbookday. 

 

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ABOUT FREE COMIC BOOK DAY—Celebrating its 15th year, Free Comic Book Day is the comic book specialty market’s annual event where participating comic book shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely free to anyone who comes into their comic shops. The event is held the first Saturday in May and is the perfect opportunity to introduce friends and family to the many worlds of wonder available at local comic book shops. From super-heroes to slice-of-life to action/adventure and beyond, Free Comic Book Day has a comic book for everyone!

January Pre-Order Picks: GHOST WOLF beastly protector of legend

EDITOR’S NOTE:  We continue a new monthly feature where we recommend some upcoming titles from the current PREVIEWS catalog.  These are not going to be Marvel or DC titles, as every self-respecting comic book store will have every single issue available on their shelves.  This has more to do with current comic shop economics.  Since retailers cannot return unsold books, titles from lesser known publishers are not as well-represented.  Sometimes stores can’t afford to take a chance on a new book, so they order few or no copies.  By highlighting some titles worthy of attention, we hope to take a step to correct that mis-representation.  The rest is up to you, the reader.  If you are interested in a book you learned about on our site, then you need to pre-order it through your local comic shop.  That’s the best way to make sure you will get a copy. GHOST WOLF: BORN IN SNOW AND BLOOD TP (STK698045)  is offered through Amigo Comics and can be found on Page 282 of the current January 2016 issue of PREVIEWS.  A review copy of the trade paperback was provided to us courtesy of Amigo Comics. 

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    The message is reinforced throughout the stories, enhancing it with a legendary, mythical feel:  ‘This is the story told one thousand times.”  The trade paperback reprints the GHOST WOLF four issue mini-series from 2014 offered through Amigo Comics in Spain.  It’s a welcome blend of new mythology, horror themes, and barbaric action.  

GHOST WOLF: BORN IN SNOW AND BLOOD TP  (Amigo Comics,  March 2016 release date)  Writer El Torres.  Artists Angel Hernandez, Luis Czerniawski, Siku, Loren Lorente.  Colors: Sandra Molina, Esther Sanz. Cover Artist: Angel Hernandez.  Soft cover 7 x 10 trade paperback.  116 pages.  Full color.  $14.99

 Pick this one up for the amazing art.  Return for the story.  It rewards on both levels.  If you enjoy CONAN THE BARBARIAN and horror tales featuring werewolf-like creatures, this will appeal to you. While each artist employed has a distinct style, they mesh and blend together very well and it’s hard to tell where one artist ends and the other begins unless you are seriously studying the panels. (Which we did on repeated readings.) Each impresses in their own way.  I was reminded of the works of Barry Windsor Smith, P. Craig Russell, Cary Nord and Ernie Colan while reading the trade paperback.  

    Writer El Torre begins with the re-telling of a legend (purely his own fabrication, we assume) to set the tone for the remainder of the book, and reinforces it throughout the story.  His ability to lend a mythic quality and feel to what transpires here rivals the abilities of Roy Thomas and Walt Simonson to do the same. 

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     Chapter One, “The Story Told One Thousand Times” reveals that prior to the beginning of recorded time, men were like gods and humans and beasts spoke the same language. Man and wolf fought each other ferociously for days, until the wolf weakened. Instead of killing him, man shared meals with wolf and tended to his wounds.  When the Hungry Ones arrived, zombie-like demons that thirst for the blood of the newborn earth, man and wolf forged a bond and fought together against their common foe.  Wolf eventually died of his new wounds, and man vowed to wear the wolf’s skin and seal the pact. 

     After one thousand years of passing the tale from generation to generation, man suddenly forgot about the Ghost Wolf legend and the mission: “to fight, to protect, to survive, to avenge.”  This provided an opportunity for the Banath a cannibalistic tribe, to strike at the ancestors of the first men.  The Shaman was forced to call on his grandson, to make a sacrifice that would bring back the Ghost Wolf to protect his people.  

     The transition from artist Czerniawski to Siku occurs as the ancient story ends and the later tale begins.  The two styles compliment well and help to make the transition.  I suspect there is a change in the colorist at this point as well, as the second part of Chapter One is illustrated in much more vivid colors and more hues. If you like barbarian art as done by John Buscemi, Walt Simonson and  Barry Windsor Smith, you will love the first part of this story.  When Siku takes over,  the art style reminds me in different places of Barry Windsor Smith again, plus Mike Mignola and the early Daredevil period of Frank Miller  (all good company, but neither of these artists are imitators.  This is just what their art reminds us of.)  

     Chapter One ends with the emergence of a massive brutal leader for the Banath, a god-like man wearing animal furs and an elk’s horns by the name of Kerunnos.

     In Chapter Two, “Kerunnos”, the Banath enslave the first tribe and the gigantic stealer of souls grows weary of their futile resistance until he learns of the legend of the Ghost Wolf.  He then challenges their avatar to battle, and of course the legend returns to wreak havoc amongst the Banath, including a huge number of decapitations. 

     The art transition here from Siku, who details a short section in the front part of the book, to new artist Lorente is smoother than the previous chapter but breathtaking as well.  Lorente excels at scenes of battle of which there are plenty in this chapter. 

     In the second half of the book, both chapters (“Mara” and “We Are Stories”) deal with events that occur several generations after the coming of the Banath.  It’s a time of relative peace, and people no longer need the services of the Ghost Wolf and most have forgotten the legend.  Only a few continue to pass the memory on through stories taught to their children.    This makes it possible for the remaining Hungry Ones, defeated and banished by the first man-wolf alliance in Chapter One, to be revived again by the deceiving Crow-Witch.  

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    It takes another alliance of mankind and wolf, this time with a combat-skilled warrior woman by name of Mara, to revive the Ghost Wolf to once again fight, protect, survive and avenge.

   The final two chapters are illustrated by Angel Hernandez, perhaps saving the best for last (although all the illustrators are dynamic, so there’s no need to chose).   There is even more Mignola influence to be seen in the work of Hernandez.  He also excels at barbaric battle scenes and there are some very effective splash panels and two-page spreads.  

    We were trying to avoid giving too much of the story away here, but wanted to indicate how much depth there is to this work, far more than is typically seen in stories of this type. We needed to spoil a little bit in order to get the idea across.  GHOST WOLF is definitely worth your investment.   Recommended. 

 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

FAITH goes to second printing to meet demand

From the official press release . . . . .

Valiant is proud to announce that FAITH #1 (of 4) – the FIRST ISSUE of the long-awaited solo series debut for the breakout star of HARBINGER – has sold out at the distributor level in advance of its January 27th street date and will immediately return to store shelves with the FAITH #1 (of 4) SECOND PRINTING.



To meet surging demand for Faith’s solo series debut on the heels of mainstream recognition by a diverse array of media outlets including The A.V. Club, Bustle, Cosmopolitan, The Guardian, MTV, People, Seventeen, The Washington Post, Vox, and many more, Valiant is providing participating retailers with a complimentary overship of the FAITH #1 (of 4) SECOND PRINTING that will arrive in stores alongside the issue’s first, sold-out edition just in time for the title’s January 27th on-sale date.

“Even before the first issue has hit stores, FAITH #1 has managed to over-perform on nearly every level,” said Valiant Publisher Fred Pierce. “From story to accessibility on down, this is a perfect, new-reader-friendly first issue that wonderfully illustrates why Valiant’s brand of storytelling continues to accrue praise from all corners of the industry. To that end, we want to ensure that retailers nationwide are ready to accommodate readers looking for Valiant’s latest hit #1 title on January 27th, and this unique second printing overship is designed to do just that.”

Retailers will receive their bonus copies of the FAITH #1 (of 4) SECOND PRINTING in 50% proportion to their orders of the FAITH #1 (of 4) – Cover A by Jelena Kevic-Djurdjevic. Further copies of the FAITH #1 (of 4) SECOND PRINTING have also been made available through Diamond code: DEC158001.

Written by rising star Jody Houser (Orphan Black) with artwork by explosive artists Francis Portela (Green Lantern) and Marguerite Sauvage (DC Comics Bombshells), FAITH #1 (of 4) is the first-ever solo series for Faith “Zephyr” Herbert – the high-flying heart and soul of Valiant’s acclaimed HARBINGER series. Since her first appearance in 1992, Faith has stood the test of time as one of the most unique characters anywhere in comics – a starry-eyed superhero cut from the same comic-loving cloth as her fans around the world. Now, on January 27th, Faith is charging to the forefront of the Valiant Universe for blockbuster-scale adventure packed with spectacular superhero action, alien intrigue, and global stakes!

Orphaned at a young age, Faith Herbert – a psionically gifted “psiot” discovered by the Harbinger Foundation – has always aspired to greatness. But now this once-ordinary teenager is taking control of her destiny and becoming the hard-hitting hero she’s always known she can be – complete with a mild-mannered secret identity, unsuspecting colleagues, and a day job as a reporter that routinely throws her into harm’s way! Well, at least she thought it would… When she’s not typing up listicles about cat videos, Faith makes a secret transformation to patrol the night as the City of Angels’ own leading superhero – the sky-soaring Zephyr!

But flying solo is going to be tougher than she ever thought when Zephyr uncovers a deep-rooted alien conspiracy. Two-bit burglars and car thieves are one thing, but when the world needs a hero to stave off a full-blown extraterrestrial invasion, will Faith find herself in over her head…or ready for her biggest challenge yet?



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Location:Blackstone Ct,Zionsville,United States

IDW expands media presence with new hire

From the official press release . . . . .

IDW Publishing Hires Steven Scott As PR Manager
Fully Integrated Media Company Expands to Meet Growing Presence in Marketplace


San Diego, CA (January 20, 2016) – IDW Publishing has named Steven Scott as their new PR Manager, who will be responsible for overseeing the company’s public outreach and social media strategies. Scott joins the ranks of IDW after his most recent stint as PR Manager for the San Francisco-based tech startup, Humble Bundle. During that time, Scott led several successful publicity campaigns for a wide variety of digital content bundles for video games, e-books, and digital comics including IDW’s Transformers and My Little Pony series.




In addition to working closely with some of the most universally recognized brands and licenses in pop culture, Scott has taken point on promotions for such renowned creators as Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Stan Lee, Kevin J. Anderson, and Star Trek’s George Takei.

Scott previously served as Director of Publicity and Marketing for Archie Comics from 2012 until 2014. Prior to that, Scott trained at Marvel Comics as an editorial intern and was accepted into Brian Michael Bendis’ graphic novel writing course at Portland State University.

“2015 was a HUGE year for IDW, with our continued expansion into Games and Entertainment, the opening of the San Diego Comic Art Gallery, not to mention our always aggressive and diverse publishing slate,” said IDW’s VP of Marketing Dirk Wood. “We’re thrilled to have Steven Scott on the team. His experience is critical at this juncture, because 2016 will be even bigger.”

“Joining the team at IDW has been a dream of mine since before I got my start in comics,” added newly minted PR Manager Steven Scott. “Coming to work in a place each day that’s teeming with creativity is exactly why I wanted to get into this business to begin with and IDW has that in spades. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be apart of this publisher that I’ve admired for so long.”

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Location:Blackstone Dr,Zionsville,United States

AfterShock Comics now available in digital format

EDITOR’S NOTE:  New publisher AfterShock Comics has debuted some impressive titles so far, with more to come.  You can expect to see some reviews here, once we get caught up and get our act together.  In the meantime . . . . . . .

from the official press release . . . . . .

AfterShock Comics Digitally Debuts Inaugural Slate from
Industry’s Top Creators on ComiXology and Amazon’
s Kindle Store

January 20, 2016 (New York, NY) – AfterShock Comics, comiXology and Amazon today announce a distribution agreement making AfterShock Comics’ growing slate of edgy, new titles from top creators including Garth Ennis, Paul Jenkins, Brian Azzarello, Marguerite Bennett, David Hine, Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Jordan for sale on the comiXology platform as well as Amazon’s Kindle Store. Today’s debut sees the addition of comics such as Replica, InSeXtsSuperZeroDreaming Eagles and American Monster, available on both comiXology and the Kindle Store.

“Since our official launch less than a year ago, AfterShock has experienced incredible traction and acclaim through our inaugural titles from some of the industry’s most celebrated creators,” said Mike Marts, AfterShock’s Editor-in-Chief. “We’re extremely proud of our growing content library and excited to offer AfterShock’s current and future titles to a much wider audience through this partnership with comiXology and Kindle.”  

“We believe that AfterShock Comics is doing great things with their expanding line-up of original titles from top comics creators, so we’re thrilled to share these hot new series with our avid comiXology and Kindle comics fans,” said comiXology’s co-founder and CEO, David Steinberger. “From suburban suspense and WWII aerial adventures to sci-fi detective stories, Victorian erotic horror and more, AfterShock Comics has an incredibly diverse line-up of comics that we’re sure has something for everyone to enjoy!” 

Today’s digital debut of AfterShock Comics on comiXology and the Kindle Store sees all the following titles available, with the addition of Strayer #1 on January 27th: 

The Kindle Store gives readers access to millions of books on the most popular devices and platforms, including Fire tablets, Kindle e-readers, iOS, Android and more. 

With over 75,000 comics, graphic novels and manga from more than 75 publishers, comiXology offers the widest selection of digital comics in the world. ComiXology’s immense catalog and cinematic Guided View reading experience make it the best digital platform for comic fans worldwide. 

About AfterShock Comics
Launched in April 2015, AfterShock Comics is a comic book company that combines the creative edge of an independent comic book publisher with the strengths and experience of a traditional powerhouse.  In addition to Editor-in-Chief Mike Marts, formerly executive editor at both Marvel and D.C., AfterShock’s executive team includes: Publisher Joe Pruett; CEO Jon Kramer, an entertainment entrepreneur with extensive worldwide production and distribution experience; President Lee Kramer, a film/TV production and development executive who has worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood; and Senior VP of Investor Relations Jawad Qureshi, an experienced Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor. 

About comiXology 
ComiXology, an Amazon.com, Inc. subsidiary (NASDAQ:AMZN), has revolutionized the comic book and graphic novel industry by delivering a cloud-based digital comics platform that makes discovering, buying and reading comics more fun than ever before. ComiXology's Guided View reading technology transforms the comic book medium into an immersive and cinematic experience, helping comiXology become a top ten grossing iPad app in 2011 and 2012 and the top grossing non-game iPad app in 2012 and 2013. Offering the broadest library of comic book content from over 75 publishers - and independent creators as well - comiXology will not stop until everyone on the face of the planet has become a comic book fan. ComiXology is based in New York City, with operations in Seattle, Los Angeles and Paris. For more information visit www.comixology.com. 

About Amazon
Amazon.com opened on the World Wide Web in July 1995. The company is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, and Alexa are some of the products and services pioneered by Amazon. For more information, visit www.amazon.com/about.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Quarterback Russell Wilson gets comic book biography

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Just in time for the NFL playoffs, here comes a biography of a popular quarterback.  Storm Comics now, and Bluewater before, have done a credible job over the last decade of publishing biographies of celebrities, political figures, and musicians.  I can remember a time ( although I have to go all the way back to middle school) when one of the most utilized sections of the library by young people was biographies of former presidents, sports figures, etc.  Considering the short attention span of some of today’s readers, we applaud the efforts of this publisher to provide similar content in an illustrated book.  Hopefully it encourages reading in the longer format as well. 

from the Official Press Release . . . . . .

FAMERussellWilson

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS QUARTERBACK RUSSELL WILSON GETS COMIC BOOK TREATMENT

As the Seattle Seahawks finish their football season, the teams leader, quaterback Russell Wilson is the focus of STORM Comics’s comic book treatment.  FAME: RUSSELL WILSON  is released this week.  

Written by Michael Frizell and art by Angelito Amaro Bernuy and Chris Canibano, FAME: RUSSELL WILSON will be available in print and on various digital platforms.

Wilson’s meteoric career from college sensation at the University of Wisconsin to star quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, is both inspirational and engaging. Named rookie of the year in 2012, Wilson led the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl Victory, forever cementing his reputation as an exemplary athlete well-worth his four-year, $87.6 million contract. FAME: RUSSELL WILSON explores his life – his ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies – as he rose to fame.

STORM is a multifaceted multimedia production company with the mission of delivering dynamic storytelling in a variety of forms by developing graphic and literary fiction and nonfiction, audio, film, and more.

Publisher Darren G. Davis, known for innovative biographical comics and the creator of the fictional THE 10TH MUSE and INSANE JANE comic books, strives to produce graphic fiction that appeals to all readers. “Comic books are an exciting mix of words and pictures,” Davis explained. “Once, I was a reluctant reader, but my attraction to the form was undeniable. I hope that other reluctant readers find the joy I do in reading comic books and graphic novels.” Practicing what he preaches, Davis ensures his publications reach libraries and schools.

Writer Michael Frizell, an educator at Missouri State University in Springfield, also discovered the power of comic books at an early age. “When I was in fourth grade, my father moved us from East Brunswick, New Jersey, a bustling city, to Cherryvale, Kansas, a small town surrounded by wheat and corn. I was miserable.” However, a trip to a grocery store changed everything. “My father knew I was bored, so he brought home a giant comic book – called a treasury – published to coincide with the release of Star Wars. I was hooked because I knew how Luke felt,” Frizell said. “I’ve been an avid reader ever since.”

The decision to include an athlete like Wilson was an easy one for both Davis and Frizell. “STORM Comics’s mission is to tell compelling stories,” said Davis. “Wilson’s story is certainly compelling.” Frizell agreed. “I’m not a football fan, I’ll admit it,” Frizell continued. “Prior to researching Russell Wilson, the only football biography I ever read was on Joe Namath, but there was something that grabbed me about Wilson’s story. I found him to be fascinating. I’m certain you will, too.”

STORM Comics has focused  their biographies on previous athletes in the past such as Alex Rodriguez, Jackie Robinson, David Beckham and more. 

STORM Comics series of biographical comic books have been featured on ESPN, CNN, Sports Illustrated, The Today Show, Fox News, and in Time Magazine, USA Today, The New York Times, as well as thousands of other places – places where comics aren’t normally advertised – while carving a unique place for the company in popular culture.


Unspecified

Print copies of the titles start at $3.99 and can be ordered at Comic Flea Market via their website, www.comicfleamarket.com.

STORM Comics vast catalog of titles can also be downloaded on Scribd, EPIC!, Madefire, BiLo,ComiXology, DriveThru Comics, Google Play, My Digital Comics, Overdrive, Iverse, iTunes, Kindle, Biblioboard, ComicBin, Nook, Kobo and wherever eBooks are sold.

About STORM Entertainment

STORM (formally Bluewater Productions). is one of the top independent production studios of comic books, young adult books and graphic novels. Its extensive catalog of titles includes the bestsellers 10th Muse and The Legend of Isis. STORM publishes comic books in partnership with entertainment icon William Shatner (TekWar Chronicles), legendary filmmaker Ray Harryhausen (Wrath of the Titans, Sinbad: Rogue of Mars, Jason and the Argonauts, and more) and celebrated actor Vincent Price (Vincent Price Presents). STORM also publishes a highly successful line of biographical comics under the titles Female Force and Political Power. STORM aims to unite cutting-edge art and engaging stories produced by its stable of the publishing industry’s top artists and writers.


Monday, January 18, 2016

Profiles: An Interview With SCOTT FOGG

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Scott Fogg is a newcomer to comics.  ACTION LAB, DOG OF WONDER from Action Lab Entertainment, his first published work co-written with veteran Vito Delsante, will be released to comic shops in March 2016. In the  following interview there are some notes that offer further explanation/reference to some of the comments. These can be seen in bold italics.  If you already understand the references, please ignore the notes.  They are being offered as a public service since not all readers share the same background /familiarity with all types of works. 

    ABOUT SCOTT FOGGScott Fogg:  “I’m from Chattanooga, Tennessee.  By day I’m the manager of a Kid to Kid (a children’s resale store) and by night I write like it’s going out of style.  My wife Kelly and I just celebrated our ten year anniversary, and we are proud parents to a three year-old blond blur named Amelia.  We live in an ark with three cats (Desmond, Scarlett and Penelope) and two dogs (Gwen and Tumnus). Life is good and gets better every day."

BC REFUGEES:  What was your entry point into the comics business?  Is there anywhere else besides ACTION LAB, DOG OF WONDER where we can find your work?

SCOTT FOGG:  I grew up making stories in my backyard, which I’m sure we all did.  (How did he know?)  But something about creating characters, putting them in predicaments, and figuring out how they overcome those predicaments really clicked with me.  So as I got older, me and my friends stopped playing Pretend.  I started writing short stories.  I’d give them to my friends to see if they liked them, to make them laugh, or see if I could make them ask “what happens next?"

     I started young and it never left me.  And growing up as a fan of books, TV, movies, and comic books - - as my imagination would stumble onto a story I’d begin asking myself “what’s the best way to tell this story?  Is this a book?  Is this a movie?  What is this?”  Whatever the answer was, I would begin writing.

     That’s how I’ve gone to be a comic book writer.  I began having ideas that really were best suited for comic books and graphic novels - - though, as I write this I’m also working on a play and something that I think will be a book - - we’ll see.   

Photo original

     ACTION LAB, DOG OF WONDER is actually my first comic book.  My first big “comic book idea” was Phileas Reid.  I thought it was a book idea and I was struggling with writing it when Vito Delsante (creator of STRAY and my co-writer on DOG OF WONDER) suggested I make it a comic book.  It was a medium change that made the story work.  That was at HeroesCon 2013.  I’ve been writing comic books since.  After a successful Kickstarter fundraising campaign, PHILEAS REID KNOWS WE ARE NOT ALONE will be coming out later this year as a graphic novel.  DOG OF WONDER is also my first time writing an ongoing series. 

BCR:  What made you interested in the ACTION LAB, DOG OF WONDER project?  Please tell us how this got started.

SF:  I was on my way home from work when Vito called me.  “I want to write a comic book with you,” he said.  Anytime anyone approaches me about working together, my response is always “okay, let’s do it.”  I never want to turn down an opportunity, even if the project at first sounds like something I’m not suited for.  It doesn’t always work out.  Sometimes I’ll start collaborating with someone, and after going around in circles we’ll realize it’s not working or not quite coming together.  We’ll admit temporary defeat and go our separate ways.  But I never turn down a chance to work out my imagination.

     “Are you familiar with the Action Lab logo?” Vito asked me.  I wasn’t.  I quickly Googled it.  “It’s a dog with a jetpack and goggles,  he explained as I looked at it.  “I want to tell his story."

     “Okay, “ I said, my mind already whirring at the possibilities a jetpack-propelled dog could bring.  “Let me get back with you."

     If you know Vito at all and you follow him on Facebook, you’ll know his unbridled love for dogs.  He’ll fill your feed with dogs that need adopting, funny dog videos, and justifiably angry rants towards sports teams that allow dog abusers to remain on their team.  I think that’s what sparked the initial idea - - that and my love of Baroness Emmuska Orczy.  (Author of The Scarlet Pimpernel, a 1905 adventure and historical novel set after the French Revolution.  Sir Percy Blakeney, a swordsman and escape artist, was the original ‘ hero with a secret identity’ that paved the way for Zorro, Batman and so many others.  Information courtesy of Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia.)  Because about a day later I e-mailed him back:  “What if Action Lab is a canine Scarlet Pimpernel?"

Action Lab Comics Logo

     I get to write on one of my favorite heroes.  Vito gets to save dogs,  and together with our incredible league of artists maybe we can make a difference.  That’s what drew me in.  That’s what pushes me to conquer nights of writer’s block.

BC:  Was that convention meeting your only acquaintance with Vito? In other words, what prompted him to invite you to write this with him, considering that you are a relative newcomer to comics?

SF:  I was first introduced to Vito by our mutual friend Dean Trippe. Dean had convinced me that I “just had to go” to HeroesCon 2013.  Dean, Vito and I shared a hotel room.  Vito and I just clicked.  We bummed around the convention, talking stories and superheroes and pitching each other ideas . . . . and the rest, as they say, is history.  Actually to this day, HeroesCon 2013 is the only time we’ve been in the same room at the same time.  Modern technology and the Internet is a wonderful, wonderful thing!

BC:  What are the plans for ACTION LAB, DOG OF WONDER?

SF:  The original plan was to do a three issue mini-series.  But everyone’s so excited about the book and loving it so much already that we’ve been given the green light to write and do a full 12 issues.  What happens beyond that I’m sure will be up to sales and things out of our control.  But you have at  least 12 issues of ACTION LAB, DOG OF WONDER  to look forward to!

BC:  What writers are you influenced by?  Who are your favorite writers and artists? After reading several issues of ACTION LAB, DOG OF WONDER will readers be able to sense any of those influences?

SF:  There are many, many writers that have inspired and influenced me.  If I ever get stuck, sometimes something that helps me is wondering “how would (insert better writer here) get out of this?”  So it’s hard for me to say which ones have influenced me the most.  There are, however, a handful of writers that if I see their name attached to a project, I will be sure to be there opening day for said project.  They are (in alphabetical order) Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, Brian Michael Bendis, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Matt Fraction, Jonathan Hickman, Steven Moffat, Grant Morrison, Aaron Sorkin, Rob Thomas, Brian K. Vaughan, Mark Waid and Joss Whedon.  I’ve learned so many things from each of them and in different ways.  I aspire to reach their levels of greatness.  While certain specifics may not stand out to readers, I’m sure there will be moments of familiarity.  

     I’ll be curious to see if people are able to pick out the issues and/or the pages I wrote.  Vito’s and my process is so collaborative that it can be difficult to pick out where I end and he begins and vice versa.  So if you can pick out my specific contributions, I’ll be impressed.  If you can pick out the people who inspire and influence me, I’ll be amazed.

BC:  Now that you have told me who your influences are, I could easily answer that question. But, to be fair, after two readings nothing obvious came to mind.  I also couldn’t pick out sections written solely by you or solely by Vito.  It reads very seamless, like a good collaboration should.  

SF:  Yeah, it’s an interesting thing - - having writers you look up to and try to learn from - - and then turn around and write something that really bears no resemblance to anything any of them write.  If there was one literary hero of mine that I could point to that, maybe, direct influences could be seen it’s someone I haven’t mentioned yet:  C. S. Lewis.  The noble animals that fill The Chronicles of Narnia have been an inspiration for me my entire life and I would love it if some day someone was listing their favorite fictional animals and somehow Reepicheep (chief mouse of Narnia)  and Percy (Sir Percy Blakeney, the Scarlet Pimpernel) were on that list.  That would make my day in a way I can barely describe.  So, when writing this, I didn’t really channel any of them.  It was more about applying sessions I learned from them, how they told their stories and how they constructed their characters. 

BC:  How much of this came from you and how much came from Vito?  After he presented you with the idea, did you completely develop the character or did he have some more influence?

SF:    I provided the story structure and a handful of characters (Percy, Marguerite, Armand and Clancy).  Vito’s the one that fleshed it out and breathed life into it.  He assembled the Action Lab League, gave them the shedquarters and made sure that every dog had a specific duty.  The rest was a back-and-forth process of asking each other questions that built the characters and the world they exist in.

     To give a more specific example, I would say that I created Clancy.  He’s in charge of Canaan City’s Animal Control Center.  He’s our Chauvelin (the adversary in The Scarlet Pimpernel). He’s here to mScarletpimpernel22ake Percy’s life difficult and round up all the dogs and put them in prison.  But as I began writing him, I realized that he wasn’t really  a bad guy.  He was just doing his job.  So I switched gears with him a little bit and made him more like Javert from Les Miserables - - but to make sure I still always liked him I imagined Marc Evan Jackson (comedian/actor and voice of Sparks Nevada for The Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast) playing him. Clancy may have more than a passing resemblance to the actor as well.  That made him a good guy stuck with a bad job.  He’s a character with some layers that I look forward to writing in the future.

     While I was wrestling with Clancy, Vito was creating this fantastically colorful supporting cast.  That was always one of the most wonderful parts of The Scarlet Pimpernel books and movies. Percy couldn’t do it alone.  He always had the League of The Pimpernel.  We knew we wanted to do the same thing and - - to be honest - - creating a supporting cast of ten dogs that would need to stand out and stand apart from each other intimidated me.  But man, Vito!  He sends me this document that introduced me to each and every one of them.  “This is this dog.  H’e tis breed of dog and this is his speciality.”  It was such a comprehensive and thought-out list that bringing them to life and finding ways to use them was not only easy, it was incredibly fun and it filled in the parts of the story we were missing.  If we weren’t sure what to do, we would turn to the dogs and ask “what should we do guys?”  And one of the dogs would have the answer.  It was kind of magical.

BC:  There are some interesting comments throughout the book, from Clancy as well as the dogs about trust, dog owner responsibility, etc. . . Is that coming from you or from Vito?  I am guessing Vito, after hearing from you about his love for dogs.

SF:  Both Vito and I have our crosses to bear  Vito wrote the first page and gave Lucky his tragic backstory.  I wrote the scene outside the town council between Clancy and the negligent dog owner  I’m glad you don’t think they stick out  Because that message of responsibility and co-habitation is one of the driving forces behind this book.  It’s inspiring a lot of the stories we’re coming up with for the future.  That being said, when Vito showed me the first page of the book,  he had to convince me we could pull that off in a kid’s book.  (Illegal dog-fighting)  It’s so horrific.  But Ted and Rosy  (artists on the book) nailed it and delivered the kind of pathos we’re used to seeing in a Disney or Pixar movie.

BC:  The art by Higgins and Brandt has a friendly cartoon feel to it, like Scooby Doo or other Hanna-Barbara series.  Who came up with that?  Did you have to provide much input as to character look and feel for the artists, or did they come up with character concepts?

SF:  Working with Ted and Rosy was maybe my favorite part of this whole process.  They are such an incredible art team.  I think what we told them was “we’re writing a long-lost Don Bluth film,” and they just got it.  (Don Bluth is a well-known animator and film director best known for All Dogs Go To Heaven and others,) We would provide references for them, but they didn’t need any coaxing or cajoling.  I don’t even remember ever having to give them notes on their character designs or the art they turned in.  They would occasionally need me to clarify my confusing stage direction, but the style is all their own and it compliments our story so well.  I couldn’t be happier with it. 

BC:  Are there any other influential sources that haven’t been mentioned yet?  

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SF:  My approach to writing ACTION LAB, DOG OF WONDER has been “the Scarlet Pimpernel if Chuck Jones directed it.”  (Chuck Jones is an animator, screenwriter, and director known for the Looney Tunes cartoons)  I apply a lot of cartoon logic to the characters and the story because A) it’s for the kids, and B), it makes me laugh.  The first page I wrote was the hot dog vendor gag in Issue #1.  When I was outlining the book, I suddenly had this idea and it just made me laugh.  I’m constantly looking for places to squeeze in little jokes, little moments of levity that lighten the mood and let the reader know that while sometimes addressing awful issues, we’re ultimately here to have fun.  So, in no particular order, the things that I think influence our book the most are:  The Scarlet Pimpernel, Ocean’s 11, Looney Tunes, and Mission Impossible.  Those, I would say, lay the groundwork for the entire series.  Individual story arcs will add other influences into the mix.  Vito’s got one that he’s adding a dash of The Godfather and I have one that stirs Doctor Who into the mix.

BC:  How long have you been reading comics?  Do you remember who introduced you to the art form, and what was the book?

SF:  I don’t remember a time before comic books.  So I think it’s safe to say that I’ve been reading comics for as long as I can remember.  I know my parents gave me my first comic books.  One was Battlefield Action #87 and the other was Superman #27 - - that was all in Spanish.  We were about to move to Spain and - - I guess — they thought it was a good introduction.  I never learned Spanish but I poured over that issue like it was an ancient, holy book filled with hieroglyphics for me to decipher.  Those were my first comic books, but what I count as my real introduction to this world where anything is possible is the first Superman movie.  My parents taped it for me and I wore that VHS tape out watching it, rewinding it, watching it again.  That was, I want to say, 1985 and I’ve been hooked ever since.  

BC:  Thanks for sharing so much with us, Scott!  Best wishes for a successful book!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Pre-Order Pick: ACTION LAB, DOG OF WONDER

EDITOR’S NOTE:  We begin a new monthly feature here where we recommend some upcoming titles from the current PREVIEWS catalog.  These are not going to be Marvel or DC titles, as every self-respecting comic book store will have every single issue available on their shelves.  This has more to do with current comic shop economics.  Since retailers cannot return unsold books, titles from lesser known publishers are not as well-represented.  Sometimes stores can’t afford to take a chance on a new book, so they order few or no copies.  By highlighting some titles worthy of attention, we hope to take a step to correct that mis-representation.  The rest is up to you, the reader.  If you are interested in a book you learned about on our site, then you need to pre-order it through your local comic shop.  That’s the best way to make sure you will get a copy. ACTION LAB, DOG OF WONDER is offered through Action Lab Entertainment and can be found on Page 268-269 of the current January 2016 issue of PREVIEWS.  A review copy of Issues #1-3 was provided to us courtesy of Action Lab Entertainment. 

 

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         ACTION LAB, DOG OF WONDER fills a gap in the current crop of comics designed for younger readers.  Man’s best friend - - the lovable dog, puppy, or mutt - -  is not featured enough in comics for kids.  

     A quick look through the current PREVIEWS catalog reveals an admirable assortment of kids comics featuring animals, but not enough dogs.  DC offers SCOOBY-DOO but that is the sole dog book.  Marvel offers ROCKET RACCOON and HOWARD THE DUCK, but these are hardly books for young readers.  IDW has the best assortment of funny animal books, but no dogs:  DONALD DUCK, MICKEY MOUSE, UNCLE SCROOGE, MY LITTLE PONY, ANGRY BIRDS and PIRATE PENGUINS VS. NINJA CHICKEN (through Top Shelf).  There’s more penguins at Titan Books with PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR plus KUNG FU PANDA; and Archie offers SONIC THE HEDGEHOG.  Even cats fare a little better than dogs, with AW YEAH ACTION CAT at Dark Horse and HERO CATS OF STELLAR CITY from Action Lab Comics.

     Young readers need stories of heroic dogs as well.  Throughout comic book history, there are some great examples of the noble beast that can be used as a template for a new start:  Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Krypto, even Rex: Zombie Killer  (Big Dog Comics). 

     ACTION LAB, DOG OF WONDER also answers a question that regular readers of Action Lab Comics have often wondered about:  who is that dog with a jet-pack featured as the official mascot on the company logo?

ACTION LAB, DOG OF WONDER #1  (Action Lab Entertainment, March 2016 cover date)  “Who Let The Dogs Out?: Part One”  Written by Scott Fogg and Vito Delsante.  Art by Rosy Higgins and Ted Brandt.  Letters by Full Court Press.  www.actionlabcomics.com

 For a book designed for young readers, ACTION LAB, DOG OF WONDER has a lot going for it.  It’s been quite awhile since we’ve been this impressed with a children’s title.

 Even though the book carries  a rating of E  (under Action Lab’s rating system, E is for everybody) it is more challenging and has something to appeal to readers of all ages.  Compared to other books for younger age readers, it tackles some deeper subject matter that is not usually found in these types of comics.  While it contains more than the regular amount of likable and engaging characters and eye appealing art, what impresses most is the way some serious issues related to the treatment of animals is presented.  This is done in such a way as to make it palatable to younger, sensitive minds without watering down or glossing over the issue.  ACTION LAB, DOG OF WONDER can very easily serve as a book to give to children and follow-up with a parent-to-sibling discussion.  It’s a book that parents and grandparents should read aloud to the very young, as they begin their introduction to the wonder of books and literature. 

     It’s remarkable to see a debut issue attempt to stretch the boundaries of acceptable subject matter rather than go for the safety of telling a tried and true story about a dog having silly adventures.  It also takes some considerable skill to do so without coming off as preachy or worse-case-scenario offending or disturbing a young reader and/or their parents.  We cannot imagine anyone being bothered by what occurs here.  That’s what makes this such a compelling new title that deserves a large audience across readers of all ages.  The message comes across but in a pleasant, objective and diplomatic manner. Kudos to the writing team of veteran Vito Delsante and newcomer Scott Fogg.  

   Only two pages into Issue #1, and we get right to the heart of this book.  Despite his name Lucky is ironically a rather unfortunate dog, bruised and battered and wearing an eye patch.  He was victimized by illegal dogfighting prior to his landing in an animal shelter.  Because of his less appealing appearance the amount of time for adoption has passed and he’s scheduled to be put down.  This disturbing subject matter is presented with careful consideration, and spares the gruesome details.  The brutality and cruelty of dogfighting is implied through figures in shadows or simply alluded to. The animals do not display anger, fear or howls of pain.  Rather it is through the sadness in their appearance that the message comes across.  The art team has a remarkable way of getting the point across throughout this book while still maintaining that reader-friendly appeal that is a requirement of children’s comics. 

   One of the best lACTIONLAB DOG 1 VAR B CVR SOLICITines of dialogue in Issue #1 occurs during this sequence, as a fellow kennel mate of Lucky tells him:  “You are not defined by your scars."

     Enter Percy, the Action Labrador as he frees Lucky from confinement using a clever disguise and deception, in a manner that reminds us of the Inspector Gadget cartoon series.  Indeed, inside Action Lab’s backpack is an apparatus that allows him to walk erect like a human and even transforms into other useful items such as a pontoon boat with above-water propeller.  Do not be deceived by the subject matter.  This remains, first and foremost, a funny book.  

   There’s a very amusing scene during a chase where Percy runs down a street past a hot dog vendor and does a double-take.  After the nervous street vendor explains that he’s not cooking “dogs”, Percy silently responds by paw pointing that is straight out of the Robert DeNiro school of “I’m watching you” (from the movie Meet The Parents).  There are several literary references peppered throughout this series, and adult readers will have fun trying to spot the influences.  

     Percy later meets a cute French poodle named Marguerite and is persuaded to help with another problem. Her brother, confined to a pound and accused of biting the young daughter of his owners, is scheduled for termination.(Another touchy subject being explored in a kids comic.)   Percy, a.k.a. Action Lab, explains that he’s named after one of King Arthur’s Knights and needs to refer the matter to the other members of his group.  Percy is a very talented and intelligent dog.  In addition to his escape skills, he can write and leaves humorous notes (with some backwards spelling, so maybe he didn’t pay full attention in school) after helping other dogs achieve freedom.   Another supporting cast member is Clancy Jackson, head of the Canaan City Animal Care & Control, and owner of Marguerite.  He’s a conscientious shelter manager who takes his job seriously, but hates having to put dogs down.  Clancy also makes a side reference to Stellar City, home of  Action Lab’s HERO CATS. 

     There are some interesting comments throughout the book, from Clancy as well as the dogs, about trust, dog owner responsibility and belief and support for the right causes.  We appreciate that they are not preachy and compliment the story rather that slow down what’s happening.  The art by Higgins and Brandt has a friendly cartoon feel to it like Scooby Doo or other Hanna-Barbara series. 

     There’s a lot to appreciate in Issue #1.  We were provided a look at the next two issues, which conclude the first story arc, introduce more characters, and add more funny interludes. While Issue #1 served as a good introduction, this book really hits its stride in  the next two issues and provides a better glimpse at what’s to come later. 

     We learn that Percy lives with the Baker family at Fenris (the mythological wolf?) Estates along with many other adopted dogs  The Bakers understand dog language; and Percy obviously understands human speak. We learn that Percy is but one member (but perhaps the most powerful) of the Action Lab League, who secretly meet in the “Shed”quarters (an outdoor storage shed on the Baker property).  The members of the Action Lab League are all cute and distinctive with specific abilities and skills:  Sniffles, Kasey, Skeeter, Lucky (from Issue #1, now a member), Detour, and Stash.  

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  Issues #2 and #3 do a nice job of blending the funny with the thought-provoking.  During the decision to help Marguerite rescue her brother Armand, one of the Action Lab League states: “We think that just because we’re different or better . . . that we can judge someone based on who they were, not who they are.”  During the break-out attempt at the St. Roch dog confinement center, Marguerite signals the others by using her tail for morse code but mixes the sign for “hours” with “horses.”   In a moment of plotting against desperate odds, Percy tells the others “haven’t I always said ‘Never tell me the odds’?  The expressions of his fellow conspirator dogs in the wordless panel that follows is hilarious.  Then they respond, “Nope”, “I never heard you say that”, and finally “Wasn’t that Han Solo?"

     There’s also a cool variant cover for Issue #1 drawn by the iconic Neal Adams and available through pre-order

     We recommend pre-ordering Issue #1 through Issue #3 to get the full benefit of the ACTION LAB, DOG OF WONDER experience.  

     NEXT:  INTERVIEW WITH CO-WRITER SCOTT FOGG