McNamara, Hinkle slither over to Image for new edition of ‘The Rattler’

Creators Jason McNamara and Greg Hinkle discuss the new edition of their crowdfunded graphic novel, coming from Image Comics in May.

Late last year Jason McNamara (The Martian Confederacy, First Moon, Continuity) and Greg Hinkle (Airboy) announced their crowdfunded horror graphic novel The Rattler had found a new home at Image Comics.

Inspired by true events from McNamara’s own life, the graphic novel will hit stores in March with a new cover and one new page. I spoke with McNamara and Hinkle about the new edition, how the Kickstarter campaign went and the potential for a sequel.

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Smash Pages: For those who don’t already know, can you share what The Rattler is about?

Jason McNamara: Ten years ago Stephen Thorn watched helplessly as Catherine, the love of his life, was kidnapped, never to be seen again. In the years since, Stephen has reinvented himself as a passionate and bitter victims rights advocate. But when Stephen receives a message that may or may not be from Catherine, he embarks on a grisly journey to be reunited with his lost love.

In a nutshell, it’s John Carpenter meets Americas Most Wanted.

Smash Pages: It’s been almost two years now since you launched the Kickstarter campaign for The Rattler. We spoke about it during the campaign, but let’s talk a little bit about what happened next. The campaign was obviously successful; how did fulfillment go? What did you learn along the way?

Greg: Jason had the campaign planned out backwards and forwards, with redundancies and contingencies. It was really something to see. By the time we finished the campaign, there was very little left for us to do aside from writing a check and uploading files to the respective printers. Jason already had the packaging and postage calculated by the time the books actually arrived.

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Jason knows exactly, but I think we got the book to our backers a couple of months ahead of schedule. It was really satisfying to connect with our backers on this book. Connecting directly to the people willing to give our story a chance was amazing.

Jason: What I hadn’t anticipated was how emotional running a Kickstarter would be. We were asking people to assign a perceived value to our work. To see it play out in real time with all the analytical tools inspired a lot of ups and downs. The middle part of the campaign, where nothing happens, was especially depressing.

I understand why campaigns offer more stretch goals, sometimes more than they can deliver, to keep excitement going. But I refused to introduce any goals that could delay fulfillment. Our campaign was very cut and dry, which is what I thought a comic book Kickstarter needed to be at that time.

Smash Pages: Would you do a Kickstarter again, if you had the right project?

Greg: I won’t rule anything out, but I’d probably only do something like this again with Jason. I like the idea of having an entire project ready before funding it, in order to get it in the hands of backers as soon as possible. But completing an entire story before even launching a campaign has the potential to stress out a relationship. If Jason and I hadn’t already known each other I don’t imagine it would’ve turned out the way it did.

Jason: I would do another one because I really valued the interactions I had with backers. I also love project managing and solving production problems, I geek out on that stuff. But to do another Kickstarter, the way I want to do it, to create the experience I want backers to have, would take at least a year of planning and pre-production before we launched. And it would all have to be self financed on the gamble that it would be worth it in the end. That’s a lot of external pressure to put on a writer/artist partnership.

Smash Pages: How did the deal with Image come about?

Jason: Within two months of the Kickstarting concluding we were completely sold out of copies and demand was increasing. So, it was clear we needed someone else to pick up the book and introduce it to a larger audience. Image was our first choice for obvious reasons; we created the book completely on our own, just the two of us and we were adamant about retaining 100 percent ownership.

After completing The Rattler Greg immediately jumped onto Airboy with the great James Robinson. Not a bad career trajectory right? Anyway, Greg enjoyed his relationship with image enough to put The Rattler in front of them and a deal was struck. We asked Joel Enos to join us as an editor and he’s been critical in preparing the new edition for print.

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Smash Pages: What will be different about the Image release compared to the Kickstarter edition?

Greg: There’s a new cover, and I got to go back and draw a deleted page that didn’t make the original cut, which was a blast. It’d been more than a few months since I’d finished The Rattler, so it was cool getting to revisit some familiar faces with more practice under my belt.

Jason: I made some small dialogue tweaks, nothing major.

Smash Pages: Jason, you mentioned plans for a sequel in a recent message to your Kickstarter backers. Do you already have a story mapped out, and if so, can you tell us in broad terms what it might look like?

Jason: Working with Greg inspired me to keep writing and creating characters for this world (editor Joel Enos and I call it the Hinkle-Verse). The next book in the series is a period piece taking place in 1993 and follows Emma, a 15 year old prodigy with a unique medical condition who becomes the target of a serial killer. Like The Rattler it has a lot of twists and turns and deals with some pretty dark situations but it will be more of a detective story. It will connect with, and compliment, The Rattler but will also be its own thing. Similar to how Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul co-exist.

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Smash Pages: For one of the prize tiers for the Kickstarter, you offered fans the chance to have dinner at your house, Jason. How did that go?

Jason: It was kind of a strange actually. We confirmed a date, sent a reminder and cooked up a feast. But they never showed up.

I hope they’re okay.

The Rattler arrives in March from Image Comics. Check out the cover for the new edition below:

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Comics Experience launches digital comics line

Four new titles hit comiXology on Jan. 13.

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Comics Experience, the online school/community aimed at future comics creators that’s run by former Marvel and IDW editor Andy Schmidt, will begin publishing digital comics by its members and alumni later this month.

The comics will be sold through comiXology starting Jan. 13 and will include:

  • Past the Last Mountain by Paul Allor, Louie Joyce, and Gannon Beck, which “brings together an unlikely trio of fantasy creatures in a story of unity and survival.”
  • Karma Police by Chris Lewis, Tony Gregori, Jasen Smith, and Nic J. Shaw, “a bizarre generation-spanning mystery full of murder, intrigue, reincarnation and even luchador demons.” LUCHADOR DEMONS!
  • Wretched Things by Devon Wong, Ken Perry, and John Hunt, which features “a world where The Vermin reign supreme.”
  • Deluge by JD Oliva and Richard P. Clark, a crime drama set against the backdrop of a post-Katrina Gulf Coast.

“ComiXology offers us a unique way to get even more fantastic content to more fans around the world. And the more truly great creator-owned and controlled projects getting published, and that’s just good for everyone,” said Comics Experience founder and CEO Andy Schmidt in the press release. “The Comics Experience Digital Publishing program is the latest way for us to help bring new, talented creators to audiences around the world and put them in front of the industry’s largest publishers.”

This initiative follows the one announced last year where Comics Experience teamed with IDW Publishing to publish comics by members of their online community. That one brought titles like Tet and Gutter Magic to the publisher.

Check out covers from the new titles below.

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2016: Year of the (Black) Beetle?

Francesco Francavilla takes to Twitter to tease the return of ‘The Black Beetle,’ his well-regarded pulp comic from Dark Horse.

Our long, national nightmare may soon be over, as creator Francesco Francavilla teased on Twitter the return of The Black Beetle. Francavilla posted an image of the pulp hero with the hashtags #TheYearOfTheBeetle and #BlackBeetleReturns.

The Black Beetle originally appeared on Francavilla’s website back in 2009, then Dark Horse brought him to comic shops in 2013. Their first miniseries, Black Beetle: No Way Out, received many accolades (including an Eisner nomination for best miniseries) and appeared on several “best of the year” lists. But a second miniseries, “Necrologue,” was scheduled but never made it out of the gate. But it looks like that might be changing this year:

No word yet on when the excellent series will return, but we’ll keep our eyes peeled for it.

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Lemire’s ‘Roughneck’ skates into stores in 2017

Lemire returns to small-town Canada for a new graphic novel from Simon & Schuster.

The prolific Jeff Lemire, who has left his stamp on monthly comics from DC, Marvel, Image and Valiant in recent years, returns to his graphic novel roots in October with Roughneck.

Update: According to Lemire’s blog, Roughnecks will now arrive in April 2017.

Originally announced in 2013, the graphic novel is written and drawn by Lemire. Like his Essex County series, this one is also set in small town Canada. Here’s how Simon & Schuster described the project back in 2013:

“Derek is a former hockey tough guy whose quick rise to the NHL was cut short when a brutal on-ice incident left him banned from professional hockey for life. Now, four years later, Derek has returned to Black River, his hometown in Northern Ontario, not far from the Moose Cree First Nation, where his mother grew up. Derek’s slide into alcoholism and depression is interrupted when his long-lost sister, Annie, returns home trailing a violent ex-boyfriend. Together, the two escape to the woods, where they struggle to reconnect with the traditions of their Cree ancestors in order to escape their past and gain redemption.”

This is definitely something to add to the “Comics I’m looking forward to” list for 2016.

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Valiant teases 2016 slate: Bloodshot Island, new Archer & Armstrong, more

Get a glimpse of what the future holds for Ninjak, Divinity and more.

With 2015 winding down, Valiant Entertainment has released several teasers for upcoming storylines and returning titles from the publisher. Of note: Jeff Lemire, Mico Suayan and David Baron journey to “Bloodshot Island,” while Matt Kindt and Diego Bernard plan a siege for Ninjak. And oh yeah, Archer and Armstrong return! I’m really looking forward to seeing what Rafer Roberts does on the title.

Check out all the teasers below …

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‘The Rattler’ strikes again at Image Comics

Jason McNamara and Greg Hinkle’s crowdfunded graphic novel finds a new home.

Following a successful Kickstarter in 2014, Jason McNamara and Greg Hinkle’s The Rattler has slithered over to Image Comics for a “mass market” release.

Inspired by true events from McNamara’s own life, the horror graphic novel is about a guy whose fiancée vanished without a trace and, 10 years later, he starts hearing her voice.

“The story was inspired by true events that happened to me on a road trip years ago,” McNamara told me last year. “I’ve written an afterword to the graphic novel that gets more into it, but basically a female friend and I were on a road trip and had a breakdown in a rural area of California. A seemingly helpful motorist stopped and offered to tow our car. Instead, he took off with my friend and left me behind. Luckily, in the true events she was able to get away, and we were able to get help. But I always wondered: What if she didn’t get away? What if I had to live with that? That was the inspiration for The Rattler.”

The Image Comics release will have a new cover and one new page, and is due out in March. If successful, McNamara hinted to the project’s Kickstarter backers that a sequel could follow. Check out the cover for the new release below:

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Vaughan, Martin, Vicente debut new pay-what-you-want series ‘Barrier’

The first issue of the “unconventional drama about violence, language and illegal immigration” is available from the Panel Syndicate site now.

Following the teaser from last week, Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente have launched another pay-what-you-want digital series, the five-part Barrier.

In an email from their Panel Syndicate imprint, the creators described the comic as an “unconventional drama about violence, language and illegal immigration.” The first 53-page issue is available now for download from the Panel Syndicate site.

Barrier follows the award-winning The Private Eye, which the three creators launched in a similar manner back in 2013.

Check out some preview art from Barrier by Martin and Vicente below.

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Valiant partners with publishers in Spain, Italy and France

Comic fans in France and Italy will soon have access to Archer & Armstrong, Harbinger and the rest of Valiant’s comic line in their native tongue.

Comic fans in France and Italy will soon have access to Archer & Armstrong, Harbinger and the rest of Valiant’s comic line in their native tongue.

Today Valiant announced partnerships with Italy’s Star Comics and France’s Bliss Comics for print and digital translations. In addition, they’ve also announced a long-term extension to their partnership with Spain’s Aleta Ediciones. Along with the comics, they’re also planning creator appearances at various conventions in Europe.

More details are available in the press release below.

Press Release

Valiant Entertainment is proud to announce new foreign-language publishing partnerships with three of Europe’s preeminent publishers of comic books and graphic novels – Spain’s Aleta Ediciones, Italy’s Star Comics and France’s Bliss Comics – for print and digital translations of Valiant’s award-winning superhero library.

Valiant and Aleta, whose inaugural line of Spanish-language Valiant titles debuted earlier in 2015, will soon begin a long-term extension to their partnership with an expanded array of series encompassing many of Valiant’s most acclaimed titles.

Meanwhile, Valiant’s newly announced publishing partners in Italy and France will begin publication in both print and digital in early 2016 with new editions of best-selling series including X-O Manowar, Bloodshot, Harbinger, Archer & Armstrong, Divinity, Quantum and Woody and many more.

Additionally, each publisher will be introducing Valiant’s line of titles to fans in Spain, Italy and France with appearances and promotions at some of the largest conventions across Europe.

“Valiant has a large, vibrant, and ever-growing fan base throughout Europe. Each of these publishers has been specifically selected for the quality of their foreign-language editions and their extensive knowledge of their respective marketplaces,” said Russell A. Brown, Valiant’s President of Licensing, Promotions & Ad Sales. “In concert with our new publishing partners at Aleta, Star, and Bliss, we look forward to bringing Valiant’s beloved library of characters to fans in print and online in Spain, Italy, France and beyond.”

Aleta Ediciones has already begun to publish 10 of Valiant’s most notable titles, including Archer & Armstrong, Bloodshot, Eternal Warrior and Harbinger. Aleta is an award-winning publisher of comic books, graphic novels and trade paperbacks since 1996, based in Valencia, Spain. Renowned for its diverse catalog of licensed and independent titles, Aleta publishes some of the most successful and popular titles in the industry, including Invincible, Tex, Dylan Dog, Aliens, Predator, Terminator, Robocop and Xenozoic by creators like Alan Moore, Tiziano Sclavi, Frank Miller, Robert Kirkman, Mark Schultz, G. R. R. Martin, Michael Avon Oeming, Alfonso Font and Paul Grist.

Star Comics is one of the leading Italian publishers active in the comic field. Since its foundation, Star Comics’ mission has been to encourage the diffusion of comic books as a form of entertainment and as a cultural phenomenon by making comic books available to all readers in Italy. Star Comics was founded in Perugia by publisher Giovanni Bovini in 1987. Its first publications were translations of several Marvel Comics series including Spider-Man, X-Men and Fantastic Four. Since that time, Star Comics has gone onto produce foreign-language editions of titles by DC Comics, Image Comics, and Wildstorm, in addition to the first Italian language line of Japanese manga. In just over 25 years, Star Comics has published more than 500 titles including monthly series, limited series and standalone books.

Bliss Comics is a relative newcomer to French publishing. Bliss is dedicated to bringing Valiant’s fan-favorite series to France starting in 2016. With an incredible number of talented creators working on Valiant’s strong, diverse characters and epic stories, Bliss looks forward to introducing Valiant’s award-winning universe to new French readers as well as longtime comics fans.

Bliss Comics, Star Comics, and Aleta Ediciones are just the latest additions to Valiant’s growing roster of international publishing partners. They join OVNI Press Editorial in Argentina, HQM Editora in Brazil, Tencent in China, ShoPro in Japan, Kamite in Mexico, Viverra in Russia, and Büyülü Dükkan in Turkey in bringing Valiant’s award-winning library of superhero titles to an international audience.

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Download Chris Schweizer’s paper Nativity set

The Crogan Adventures creator is offering more than 30 figures with a backdrop you can download from his web store.

Crogan Adventures creator Chris Schweizer has created a paper Nativity set that he’s offering for free via his online store. [EDIT: Actually it’s a “pay what you want” model, as Gumroad does give you the option to send Schweizer some money when you download it).

The expansive set includes more than 30 3-D figures with a pretty awesome backdrop, which you can download and print out on card stock (the heavier the better, Schweizer advises). He’s also selling the original art from the set as well. Growing up my mom collected various Nativity sets, but I don’t remember her having any that went quite this far into Biblical canon — her sets never included the Little Drummer Boy, Salome or ‘lil John the Baptist, for instance, even if they did occasionally receive visits from my Star Wars figures and Hot Wheels.

Throughout December, Schweizer will do a write-up each day on one of the characters on his blog “At our house, we’ll be using the set like an advent calendar with my daughter, introducing one new figure each day,” he writes. “If you’d like to do the same, I welcome you to use these write-ups as your guide for which characters to introduce in which order, with the write-up to give context.”

You can check out images from the set below.

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