Daisy Owl creator returns to webcomics with ‘Peep’

Ben Driscoll‘s new webcomic, Peep, is about a rabbit who plays guitar in outer space:

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You can start reading Peep here. Driscoll’s previous strip, Daisy Owl, ended in 2010, but is still in our hearts.

Horrocks offers new print, original art on his website

Get a print of the cover to ‘Incomplete Works,’ his next collection due out in April.

Following quickly on the heels of the January release of Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen, Hicksville creator Dylan Horrocks’ next work will be Incomplete Works. In conjunction, Horrocks is offering a print of the cover for $70 over on his website. Here’s the volume’s cover:

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It’s due out in April from Alternative Press. In addition, Horrocks is offering original art from both Magic Pen and his classic graphic novel Hicksville on his website.

New graphic novel answers the question, ‘What if only Black people had superpowers?’

Kwanza Osajyefo, Tim Smith 3, Jamal Igle, Sarah Litt and Khary Randolph launch a Kickstarter to bring ‘Black’ to life.

Kwanza Osajyefo, Tim Smith 3, Jamal Igle, Sarah Litt and Khary Randolph have teamed up to create a new graphic novel called Black: “In a world that already fears and hates them – what if only Black people had superpowers?” They’re looking to raise a little under $30,000 via Kickstarter to bring it to life.

Here’s a description of the story:

After miraculously surviving being gunned down by police, a young man learns that he is part of the biggest lie in history. Now he must decide whether it’s safer to keep it a secret or if the truth will set him free.

“With Black, we’re looking to tell a great story, but we’re also purposefully challenging the pop culture status quo, which is dominated by a White male aesthetic,” Osajyefo said in a press release. “Black tackles the very real and palpable issue of race, which is at the forefront in America and around the world. We are trying to confront the issue of race head-on by creating a world in which only Black people are superheroes — and the Black superhero trope isn’t subtly cast under a label of mutant, inhuman, or meta-whatever. It is also both thrilling and liberating to create the superheroes we’ve always wanted to see — and, frankly, be — outside of the entrenched publishing system.”

If funded through the Kickstarter campaign, Black will be available digitally to backers as DRM-free PDFs in monthly installments, starting in mid-2016. The limited edition print run of the six-chapter Black graphic novel is due out late in 2016. The campaign runs through Feb. 29. For more information, check out the Kickstarter page, their web site or this Washington Post article.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Wade von Grawbadger

Over the years Wade von Grawbadger has made a name for himself by bringing out the best of whoever’s work he happens to be inking. The Eisner, Harvey and Inkwell award-winning artist/inker’s most recent work includes Batman/Superman with Robson Rocha and Astro City with Gary Chaloner. Always of note, though, is his work with Stuart Immonen. The duo have worked together on New Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man, All-New Captain America and Star Wars, just to name a few titles, and as von Grawbadger describes below, their tight collaboration has helped the inker become more versatile. The duo will work together again on the upcoming Empress, written by Mark Millar.

A year ago you were reintroduced to the awesomeness that is Matthew Clark. What makes his art so great?

There is a life and character to his art that is infectious to me. Many can draw a cool face, but Matthew’s have the depth of thought behind them. Subtle information about the personality is evoked that many can’t quite accomplish … and it’s cool! He also has a great graphic sense; his use of blacks really crank up the drama.

What do you most enjoy about inking the recent issue of Astro City?

Inking over Gary Chaloner was great fun, mostly because it was a challenge for me. He’s out of my usual wheelhouse, forcing me to stretch and use inking muscles I don’t often use. His characters have so much life to them. It was simply a lot of fun.

How gratifying is it to be inking Star Wars prior to the film’s release?

How do you quantify something like that? To be in the conversation when one of the more heralded films in a long time is about to hit the scene is an honor, to say the least. There are so many people getting attention for their work on Star Wars-related books right now, I can only say that I am extremely proud to be among them!

A few days ago you ran some of your work from 2009. How has your work evolved over the years?

Thanks in no small part to Stuart Immonen, I have become more versatile. He changes his approach often to fit how he sees a particular project. So if you look at Ultimate Spider-Man, Next Wave and Star Wars, you will see a strikingly different take on each. This forces me to keep up! We have long email conversations about ideas for the the take on a given project, and then it’s an evolution. I may think I know what he means but don’t, and make adjustments based on his suggestions, or I may do something slightly different that he feels fit the situation and he adjusts. Other changes have come as tools or inks change or are discontinued. It’s a never-ending battle to keep current!

Anything we should discuss that I neglected to ask?

I recently did part of issue 28 of Batman/Superman over Robson Rocha that’s due out in January that was a blast. Intense detail and fun figure work. I love that sort of style and don’t get to do it that often. Check it out!

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Quoted: Todd Klein on breaking into comics via air conditioner user manuals

The award-winning letterer celebrates his birthday by discussing how he got his first job at DC Comics.

In grade school, a vocational test decided I should become a forest ranger. I thought that sounded okay, I loved the outdoors. In grade school I did well in math and science, but less well in high school with more competition. I didn’t head in the Art direction until senior year when I finally realized art class was my favorite, and had been all four years. I went to art school for two years, then ran out of money and had to get a mundane job to support myself. I worked at several paperwork jobs, and at one was able to use some of my art training to design air conditioner user manuals.

–Letterer Todd Klein, who turned 65 last week, explains on his blog how he broke into comics when DC Comics offered him a two-week stint filling in for a vacationing production artist. He says Vince Colletta “must have seen something in those air conditioner manual paste-ups.” Also, happy belated birthday to Todd Klein!

Quoted: J.H. Williams III on Mantlo and Golden’s ‘brilliance’ on ‘Micronauts’

The Sandman and Batwoman artist says if he had never discovered Micronauts, “I seriously doubt I’d be working in comics at all.”

I’ve cited in many interviews and general conversations just how this series impacted my childhood, I grew up a bit with those comics, and read them for as long as they were published. But ultimately what hooked my loyalty was the very beginning of their adventures, created by masters Bill Mantlo and Michael Golden. They were so very smart. If I had never come across their work on Micronauts I seriously doubt I’d be working in comics at all. Their brilliance on the title forever changed my direction, much to the dismay of many of the adults in my young life. However, along the way, I proved I was right. That deep down, from that very long ago discovery of the work on the series, I knew then that I was meant to do what I do now. And so when IDW announced they had garnered publishing rights for a new Micronauts series, and Rom as well (another very influential series), I had to reach out to them to see how I could be involved, even if only a little. To make an inner child’s dream come true.

–Artist J.H. Williams III, paying tribute to the creators of Marvel’s long-running Micronauts series from the late 1970s/early 1980s. Williams will do “a run of covers” for the new Micronauts series by Cullen Bunn and David Baldeón that kicks off in April from IDW Publishing.

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Z2 announces four new projects for 2016

Publisher announces new projects by Jarrett Williams, Miss Lasko-Gross and Kevin Colden, Sam Sattin and Chris Koehler, and Gabe Soria and Paul Reinwand.

Z2 Comics, the publisher of Ian McGinty’s Welcome to Showside, Chris Hunt’s Carver and Miss Lasko-Gross‘s Henni, among others, has announced four new titles for 2016 with some impressive creative line-ups.

Probably the name I was most excited to see on the list is Jarrett Williams, who wrote and drew two volumes of the fun wrestling graphic novel Super Pro K.O.! (a third one is due out in April). His new book is about high school students who team up to fight “sinister, intergalactic vagabonds” in what will surely be a fun, action-packed book. Also of note are the wonderful Lasko-Gross and her husband, Kevin Colden (Fishtown, The Crow, I Rule the Night), who will collaborate for the first time on a story about intergalactic smugglers. Author Sam Sattin (The Silent End) teams with illustrator Chris Koehler (Wired, The Atlantic) for a story about dogs and cats living together, while Gabe Soria (Life Sucks, Batman ’66) and Paul Reinwand (28 Warlords) create a “rock’n’roll noir story” that’ll feature a soundtrack by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and the Arcs, with tracks inspired by the comics.

Artwork, release dates and additional details provided by the publisher can be found below.

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Hyper Force Neo by Jarrett Williams
April 2016

Hyper Force Neo, from Super Pro K.O.! creator Jarrett Williams takes readers along on the adventures of Dean Masters, a 9th grader tasked with leading a group of tech-savvy teens called Hyper Force Neo. Their Mission? Save New Sigma City and their high school from the sinister, intergalactic vagabonds known as the Dark Edge. With the use of their Hype Suits, Neo Keys, high-tech weaponry and over-sized Neo Mechs, Dean and his friends just may get the job done. The first issue of Hyper Force Neo will be a super-sized 48 pages.

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The Sweetness by Miss Lasko-Gross and Kevin Colden
May 2016

Set in the future, the first collaboration from the husband and wife creative team of Miss Lasko-Gross (Henni) and Kevin Colden (Fishtown) follows two bad-ass female intergalactic smugglers of a mysterious controlled substance who cater to the unique tastes of alien drug addicts.

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Legend by Sam Sattin, Chris Koehler
June 2016

What if a biological terror agent wiped out most of humanity, and our domesticated animals were left in charge? How would our dogs and cats set about ruling and rebuilding the world? Legend is the story of animals uniting to fight mutant creatures and attempting to restore the world their masters destroyed.

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Murder Ballads by Gabe Soria, Paul Reinwand
2016

A meditation on music, obsession and how far someone will go to see their vision become real, Murder Ballads follows the fall and reinvention of Nate Theodore, the dead-broke and deadbeat owner of a failing record label who is on a cross-country drive in the dead of winter, fleeing the wreckage of his business and trying to save his crumbling marriage. Nate is given an unexpected chance to reverse his fortunes when, during a stop in a desolate rust belt town, he “discovers” Donny and Marvell Fontweathers, two African-American brothers who play a raucous brand of doom-laden country blues. Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and the Arcs is creating a Murder Ballads soundtrack, which will be released by Nonesuch Records.

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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Comic industry pays tribute to David Bowie

News of David Bowie’s passing brought an outpouring of tributes from many who were creatively influenced and admire the pop future legend, including those in the comic industry. Bowie’s eccentric life attracted a diversity of comic industry pros who celebrated his life in their own way.

Continue reading “Comic industry pays tribute to David Bowie”