So What? Press becomes an imprint of It’s Alive!

The former IDW imprint will help distribute ‘Tales of the Night Watchman.’

A former IDW imprint now has an imprint of its own. Drew Ford’s It’s Alive!, which publishes reprints of out-of-print graphic novels, translations of foreign material, classic comics and other projects, will now distribute Tales of the Night Watchman from So What? Press.

This effectively gets the critically acclaimed indie comic into comic shops via Diamond, which is good news for comic fans and creators Dave Kelly and Lara Antal. The partnership kicks off with a new two-issue miniseries called “The Final Kill,” which will be followed by a crossover with Dean Haspiel’s The Red Hook.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Otava Heikkilä

The Finnish cartoonist discusses the latest chapter of ‘Letters for Lucardo’ from Iron Circus.

Otava Heikkila had been drawing comics for a while, but he made an impression when Letters for Lucardo was published by Iron Circus Comics in 2017. The book is about the relationship between a vampire and a mortal, which is a familiar and recurring story, but Heikkila managed to play with the genre in interesting ways — in this volume by making the vampire young and the mortal old, and by featuring explicit gay sex.

Letters for Lucardo: Fortunate Beasts is the second volume in Heikkila’s series and he answered a few questions from Finland about the book and the series, and how to approach drawing the sex scenes.

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2019 Eisner Award nominees announced

Image receives the most nominations of any publisher, and sweeps the Best New Series category.

The nominees for the 2019 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards have been announced by Comic-Con International. Image Comics received the most nominations with 19, while DC Comics received 17 nominations (not including the “shared” categories, like colorists who work for multiple companies).

On the creator end, Tom King received the most nominations with six, followed by Alex de Campi and Jeff Lemire with four. Also, if you’re of the betting persuasion, here’s a tip: put your money on an Image series walking away with the Best New Series Eisner.

The announcement follows the list of nominees for the Will Eisner Hall of Fame, which was released in January. The awards will be announced in July at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Check out the complete list of nominees below.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Kori Michele

The creator and editor discusses ‘Filed Away,’ ‘A Lucid Date’ and more.

Kori Michele has been making short comics and minicomics for years in addition to co-editing the acclaimed The Other Side: An Anthology of Queer Paranormal Romance with Melanie Gillman. They’ve made projects including Talk It Out and Public Displays, which appeared on Filthy Figments, Prince of Cats, Portals, Dovetail and others. A few years ago after making an enviable body of work they went back to school and are currently working on an MFA at the Center for Cartoon Studies.

Last year Michele produced their best work to date with comics like Filed Away and A Lucid Date, and they were kind enough to take time out of their busy schedule to answer a few questions about personal comics, erotic comics, and how their time at CCS has affected their work.

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Ward + Kivelä bewitch bullets in ‘Tommy Gun Wizards’

Christian Ward writes a new comic featuring Al Capone and magic.

Eisner-award winning artist Christian Ward will take a rare turn as writer in Tommy Gun Wizards, a new miniseries coming from Dark Horse Comics this summer.

Ward, who co-created ODY-C and has worked on Marvel titles like Thor and Black Bolt, is joined by artist Sami Kivelä, who worked with Saladin Ahmed on Abbott and on Zenescope’s Realm War, among other comics. Ward will provide covers as well as colors on the interior art. He’ll also draw back-up stories for each issue.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Lin Visel and Joseph Bergin III

The creators of ‘How Do You Smoke a Weed?: A Comics Guide to a Responsible High’ discuss their approach to helping people learn to smoke.

Lin Visel and Joseph Bergin III, also known as Owlin, are the comics creators behind Mr. Invisible, SuperTwomp, Restless Princess and Welter Hitch, among others. Along with Lauren Keller, they are behind the new comic How Do You Smoke a Weed?: A Comics Guide to a Responsible High, which is out now from Iron Circus Comics.

The book tells the story of Sprout, who wants to smoke but has no idea where to begin, and meets a series of people who explain marijuana and various ways to ingest it. The book has a lot of information even for those how already smoke, and conveys it using entertaining characters. Visel and Bergin were kind enough to answer a few questions by email about the book.

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Grateful Dead get an origin story thanks to Z2 Comics

Noah Van Sciver and Chris Miskiewicz will take you back to the beginning of the Dead’s long, strange trip.

Z2 Comics has teamed up with the Grateful Dead for Grateful Dead Origins, a graphic novel detailing the band’s early days. And they’ve recruited Chris Miskiewicz and Noah Van Sciver to tell the story.

“We’ve seen many archival releases that offer magnificent audio representations of the Grateful Dead’s history, and several filmed interpretations of the Dead’s story. To these, we’re thrilled to add to the Dead’s narrative canon this beautiful portrayal of the Dead’s origin story in the form of this wonderful new comic,” said Grateful Dead audiovisual archivist and legacy manager David Lemieux. “Chris and Noah have captured the Dead’s sensibility in their words and images that bring to life on the page the earliest days of the Grateful Dead, from the band’s founding in 1965 through to Woodstock. We couldn’t be happier to be partnering with such talented artists who have delved so deeply into the Dead’s history and origin.”

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Comics Lowdown: RIP Monkey Punch, Kazuo Koike

Plus: Bill Mantlo in need, halfway through ‘Saga,’ awards and more.

The manga community has lost two legends in April, as both Lupin III creator Monkey Punch and Lone Wolf & Cub co-creator Kazuo Koike have passed away. Both men died from pneumonia six days apart, and were once considered rivals when their respective manga ran in Weekly Manga Action magazine. They also worked together on the Secretary Bird manga mini-series that ran in the magazine in 1970.

Monkey Punch, whose real name was Kazuhito Kato, was 81 when he passed away. His most famous creation, Lupin III, started as a manga and was later adapted into six animated television series, eight animated feature films, two live-action feature films, two musicals and several video games. He passed away April 11.

In addition to Lone Wolf & Cub, Koike is also known for such titles as Lady Snowblood, Crying Freeman, Samurai Executioner and many other popular series. His work influenced many American creators, including Frank Miller, who drew covers for First Comics’ publication of the series. Koike also worked on a few western series, including a Hulk manga and an issue of X-Men Unlimited. He passed away April 17 at the age of 82.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Omaha Perez

The creator of ‘The Drude’ discusses the second volume of the series, what’s next for ‘Super Terre.r,’ working with Tony Talbert and more.

Omaha Perez has been making comics on and off for years in between working other jobs. He wrote and illustrated the comics Bodhisattva and Holmes, and was a contributor to the anthology Periphery, which he also edited. In more recent years he’s been writing comics like Super Terre.r and The Drude.

He wrote the new graphic novel The Drude 2: Lost Angeles, which is just out from First Comics. Drawn by Tony Talbot, with whom Perez has collaborated before, the book starts roughly where The Drude ended. In that book the titular character begins to see the alien creatures living among us, and in Lost Angeles, the story goes in a different direction. We spoke recently about his new book, writing and that cover.

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