Comics Lowdown: Russ Heath, Yim Yee-King pass away

Plus: Jerusalem cartoonist fired over drawing of Prime Minister Benjamin Nettanyahu, comics at Walmart, Thi Bui and more!

Passings: Eisner Hall of Fame artist Russ Heath passed away last week after battling cancer, his grandson, Lee Kosa, reported on Twitter. “His mastery of the craft of illustration encouraged me to pursue the arts and it is a joy to see my son now filling his own sketchbooks. Thank you for passing along the joys of drawing and storytelling,” Kosa wrote.

In the late 1940s, Heath began his career at Timely Comics, which eventually became Marvel Comics. While there, he drew many of their Western titles like Two-Gun Kid and Kid Colt. Later his work expanded to include their superhero titles, as well as war comics for EC Comics and DC Comics, where he co-created The Haunted Tank and worked on Sea Devils, G.I. Combat and Our Army at War, among other titles. He also worked on the “Little Annie Fanny” strip that appeared in Playboy, even moving into the Playboy Mansion in Chicago for a time while working on it. Later he’d move into animation, where he worked on G.I. Joe, Godzilla and “Pryde of the X-Men.” Heath was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2009 and received the National Cartoonists Society’s Milton Caniff Award in 2014. He was 91 when he died.

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The original Defenders return at Marvel

One-shots starring the Silver Surfer, Hulk, Doctor Strange and Namor due out this December.

Marvel’s original non-team is taking back their name and returning in a series of one-shots by several different creators, as The Defenders — Hulk, Dr. Strange, Namor and Silver Surfer — reunite this December.

The Defenders first banded together back in Marvel Feature #1 in 1971. They moved to their own title in 1972, which lasted 152 issues and featured several other reoccurring members like Nighthawk, Valkyrie, Hellcat and Gargoyle. They’ve since returned in various incarnations. The most recent Defenders series took its inspiration from the Netflix TV series of the same name and included Luke Cage, Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist.

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What is best in life: Aaron, Asrar, Ribic, Wilson are Marvel’s ‘Conan’ team

The new series starring the legendary barbarian will debut in January.

After reclaiming the Conan license earlier this year, Marvel has announced the creative team for their new Conan the Barbarian series — writer Jason Aaron, interior artist Mahmud Asrar, cover artist Esad Ribic and colorist Matt Wilson.

Aaron shared his excitement about his new gig on Twitter:

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‘Pass Me By’ is a beautifully illustrated queer Canadian tragedy on Kickstarter

The risograph-printed series follows an Alberta man dealing with dementia and revisiting his past life with a glam rock band

Although there are only two days left to this Kickstarter project, this gorgeous new comic series is one worth checking out! Newcomer Kyle Simmers dove head first into comic self-publishing. The writer and illustrator, known for their larger than life murals across the city of Calgary, is teaming up with visual artist Ryan Danny Owen, to put out this little gem in Kickstarter called Pass Me By.  The series is an inverted coming of age story about understanding queer identity and what happens to the stories you never tell.

The first book, Pass Me By: Gone Fishin’ is currently available for pledges by backers. The video to promote the Kickstarter is incredibly well constructed. In this eye-catching campaign video, Simmers selectively animated certain panels to bring the story alive.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Geof Darrow

The creator of ‘Shaolin Cowboy’ talks about how he works, Moebius, Keanu Reeves and more.

Geof Darrow is one of those creators who straddles the worlds of Hollywood and comics. He’s a well known storyboard artist and designer, who remains perhaps best known for his work on The Matrix films. In comics he’s collaborated with Moebius and Frank Miller and for years now has been writing and drawing his own series, Shaolin Cowboy.

Last year Dark Horse collected the miniseries, Shaolin Cowboy: Who’ll Stop the Reign and the company just published Shaolin Cowboy: Start Trek, which collects the first seven issues of the series in one collection, which has been out of print for many years. I had the chance to speak with Darrow late last year and we spoke about how he works, Kung Fu, vegetarianism, Keanu Reeves, and Darrow’s mentor and collaborator, the late great Jean Girard.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Ariel Bordeaux

The creator of ‘Deep Girl’ and ‘No Love Lost’ discusses her latest autobiographical comics, which she has been posting daily to Facebook.

Ariel Bordeaux began making in comics in the 1990s, and quickly established herself as a powerful voice with her own artistic style. Her minicomic Deep Girl, which was collected 2013, is one of the standout zines from that era, autobiographical, funny, feminist, with a memorable energy in the writing and art. She went on to make the comic No Love Lost. She contributed to Bizarro Comics, Measles, Stuck in the Middle and other anthologies. She and her husband Rick Altergott made the five-issue comic series Raisin Pie, which was published by Fantagraphics. In more recent years she’s been making fine art and working on a graphic novel.

Earlier this year, Bordeaux started posting daily comics on her Facebook page. They were simple, mostly four-panel comics that Bordeaux drew in pencil and then photographed, but they were also thoughtful, funny, surprising, and beautifully done in the way that only a masterful artist is able to work simply and quickly. We’re friends because we know a number of people in common and after reading through a number of her comics, I reached out to see if she might be willing to talk about the project, making comics and related topics.

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Add Christian Ward’s abstract science fiction designs to your wardrobe

The ‘Thor’ and ‘Black Bolt’ artist launches his own Threadless shop, featuring three designs.

Many comic artists have launched their own T-shirt sites through websites like Threadless. Christian Ward, artist on Thor, Black Bolt and the upcoming Invisible Kingdom, joins them with three new designs on his dedicated shop.

The London-based artist and illustrator’s work combines influences from fine art and pop culture into colorful, surreal patterns. Books like ODY-C and The Ultimates brought his science fiction designs to the page, and the three shirts he’s debuted carry that same atheistic to your torso. Check’em out today.

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‘Ironheart’ soars into her own title this November

Dr. Eve L. Ewing and Kevin Libranda team up on a new solo series starring Riri Williams’ alter ego.

Ironheart, the young black female superhero who temporarily replaced Tony Stark in the pages of Invincible Iron Man, will headline her title starting in November.

Marvel has recruited Dr. Eve L. Ewing, a Chicago-based author, poet, sociologist of education and artist, to write the series, with Kevin Libranda (Champions) on art. Amy Reeder will provide covers.

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‘Monstress’ takes home another Hugo; Takeda named best artist

In the “Graphic Story” category, Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda’s fantasy series beats out ‘Saga,’ ‘Black Bolt’ and more to win the award.

Monstress, the fantasy series written by Marjorie Liu, drawn by Sana Takeda and published by Image Comics, has again won the Hugo Award in the “Graphic Story” category for its second volume, Monstress, Volume 2: The Blood. In addition, Takeda also won in the “Best Professional Artist” category.

Presented annually since 1955, The Hugo Awards recognize the best science fiction in books, comics, movies, TV and more. The Hugo Awards are voted on annually by members of the World Science Fiction Convention. The Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story has been awarded annually since 2009, with previous winners including Saga, Ms. Marvel, Girl Genius and The Sandman: Overture. Other nominees in the category this year included Saga, Paper Girls, My Favorite Thing is Monsters, Bitch Planet and Black Bolt.

The 2018 Hugo Awards were presented this evening at a ceremony at the 76th World Science Fiction Convention in San Jose, California.

Monstress has been racking up awards left and right over the last year, winning an NCS Divisional Award, a British Fantasy Award and several Eisner Awards, among others. Congratulations to Liu, Takeda and the whole Monstress team.