Dark Horse announces two from Ethan Young

A ‘Tails’ omnibus and a second Bridget Lee volume are due from the creator next year.

Dark Horse Comics has announced two new projects from Ethan Young, creator of Nanjing: The Burning City and The Battles of Bridget Lee: Invasion of Farfall.

First up is an omnibus collection of his Tails webcomic, titled Life Between Panels: The Complete Tails Omnibus.

Continue reading “Dark Horse announces two from Ethan Young”

Smash Pages End of Year Survey, Part 1

Comic folks answer the question, “What do you consider to be the top five important events of 2015?”

For this year’s inaugural version of the Smash Pages End of Year Survey I had people answer the question: “What do you consider to be the top five important events of 2015?” I encouraged people to not necessarily answer the question in that manner if it didn’t strike their fancy. I cannot thank everyone enough for the participation during a busy time of year.

Jimmie Robinson

Image creator

Star Wars:

Screenshot 2016-01-01 at 3.50.18 PMA global phenomenon on all levels, even the comic spin-offs have done well in comic & book stores. This film/event has bridged generations together.

Noelle Stevenson:
My pick for comic industry person of the year.  Stevenson is in the right time and place and with the right talent to spur a new era of comic readers.  We love superheroes, but Stevenson has jumped into the arena of a cross audience with Nimona and Lumberjanes.  We need more creators like her, and Kelly Sue, for the next generation of readers.

Comics Journalism:
This might be something not noticed on a lot of people’s radar, but in this information era we should take note that comics journalism has grown and changed a lot in 2015. Sites, blogs, videos, periscopes, live streams and more have brought people together with news & information ranging from blockbuster films to the latest Internet rage, changes in publishing and even in the news sites themselves.

Comic conventions:
I include this because to be honest this has been a great year for comic conventions on all levels.  Sure we’ve had a few hiccups with the growing pains.  Sexual conduct, professional ethics, and such. BUT, the good news is that none of those incidents brought about a knock-on effect on attendance or the attendees.  Tackling such problems and moving on is the sign of a healthy industry.  We should all celebrate not just another good year, but a solid year.

The rise of comic awareness:
This spins off my inclusion of comic conventions for 2015, but *awareness* takes it a step further.  I’m an old fart and I remember the days of the comic industry as something done in backrooms, secret clubs and comic stores.  At that time I advocated that fans and readers bring our hobby into the light and share it with friends and family. It used to be a hidden secret among many of us, but  now, thanks to the popularity of several blockbuster superhero films, we’ve seen a surge of awareness and acceptance in pop culture.  TV, film, books, magazines, conventions, advertising, college classes, online sales and other ancillary spin-off merchandise.  It’s a great time for comics right now.  A lot of kids today don’t realize how good they’ve got it.

Paige Braddock

EVP / Creative Director
Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates

Giant Days  by John Allison (Author), Whitney Cogar (Author), Lissa Treiman (Illustrator)

Lumberjanes by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, and Noelle Stevenson

Doomboy by Tony Sandoval (an import that was originally published in 2014, but I didn’t discover it in the states until this past year)

 dddrAnd a VERY funny illustrated children’s graphic novel titled “Apocalypse Bow Wow” by James Proimos III, illustrated by James Proimos Jr.

I also really liked “This One Summer” by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki (but I think that may also have come out in 2014, sometimes I’m behind in my reading!)

“Fun Home” on Broadway. Based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel

Stuart Moore

Editor/writer

Screenshot 2016-01-01 at 10.14.58 PMPAPER GIRLS by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang. The perfect melding of these two amazing talents—a seamless tale of adolescent trouble, time travel, and just plain fluid storytelling. The comic of the year (creator-owned division).

THE VISION by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta. An eerie tale of a family of robots living in suburbia, with a deeply existential undercurrent. Reminiscent of an early Alan Moore super hero book, which is high praise around here. Best company-owned book of the year.

GET IN TROUBLE by Kelly Link. A collection of stunning, character-oriented short stories, each and every one of which carries an emotional punch. Several of them have comics connections; “Secret Identity” takes place at a hotel hosting conventions for dentists and super heroes; while “Two Houses” concerns a pair of spaceships called House of Secrets and House of Mystery.

MAD MEN THE FINAL SEASON, created by Matthew Weiner. The last episodes were absolutely on fire; this series stands as a writer’s model for multilayered dialogue, unexpected twists, and the delicate balance between symbolic meaning and character logic. Comics connection (and MINOR SPOILER): Lou Avery’s fuck-you to the advertising business when his monkey-themed strip “Scout’s Honor” becomes a Japanese animated series.

YOU’RE THE WORST, created by Stephen Falk. The best sitcom that no one’s watching, focusing on the frequently dysfunctional relationship between a British writer and an unstable L.A. publicist. Bonus points for Falk’s hilariously honest interviews, and for not being afraid to take things to a pretty dark place in Season Two. Hilariously weak comics connection: Chris Geere plays Jimmy like John Constantine if, instead of being driven to fight demons, JC decided to just write a book and buy a house he couldn’t afford.

Honorable Mentions:

JESSICA JONES

DOCTOR WHO – season finale and Christmas special

SHOW ME A HERO (which is not what it sounds like)

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

TRANSPARENT

Carmine Di Giandomenico

freelance artist

DK III  

Miller-Azzarello- Kubert

Screenshot 2016-01-03 at 5.43.50 AMHuck

Millar- Albuquerque

Catwoman

Valentine- Messina

Star Wars

Rucka – Checchetto

Tokyo Ghost

Remender- Murphy

Ethan Young

Young Illustration

1.) nnnnnnnHow incredibly entertaining the Marvel Netflix series have been. Although Daredevil is intensely drab in parts, it is 90% how I imagined a live-action Daredevil would play out. And Jessica Jones has given us a great mix of dark humor, crime intrigue, and action

2.) Steve Skroce’s return to comics storytelling with We Stand On Guard. Man, I’d buy almost anything that dude draws. Kinda sad that Burlyman never released the collection of his storyboards for the Matrix sequels. Woulda loved to have owned that.

3.) Kate Beaton’s Step Aside, Pops made me laugh out loud more than a few times. I’d be really interested to see what she’d do with a superhero sandbox (and more than just a Strange Tales short), but that’s just me projecting what I want to see.

4.) NYCC reaching over 160K attendees was both incredible and frighteningly claustrophobic. I had to take several stress shits over that weekend.

5.) On a personal note, having finally released a book through Dark Horse, I’ve discovered that people feel more forthcoming with blunt critiques of your work, as opposed to the practiced constraint when reviewing small press creators.

Tim Seeley

http://timseeleyart.blogspot.com/

Okay, I have to admit that once again this year, I didn’t really read many comics, and even fewer that I really enjoyed. That’s not to say that their weren’t a whole hell of a lot of great comics out this year…there definitely were. But it turns out that when you spend so much time writing comics, you can’t really read ‘eHey, I gott

MAD Max Fury ROAD– A great sci-fi action movie that was also just a damn great film. It’s impressive just how wide the appeal of this movie became, considering the relative “cult status” of the previous films. And, it’s got friggin’ AWARDS BUZZ. Sure, it’s not a comic book, but I think anytime a “genre” product gets this kind of acclaim, it’s good for the comic industry.

Screenshot 2016-01-03 at 6.14.44 AMBLACK MASK STUDIOS– The rise of this small publisher was heartening to me for a couple of reasons. One, it’s run by two old buddies of mine, Matt Pizzolo and Steve Niles. Two, they make quality content with a very distinct voice and vision. And three, a healthy alternative comics publisher does wonders for the industry. Though “We Can Never Go Home” seemed to get most of the hype, I actually totally preferred the excellent and provocative “Young Terrorists” and the weird retro futurism of “Space Riders.”

THE DIVERSITY CONVERSATION– Sure, much of what actually got published was lip service, and a fare percentage of those shouting loudly on the internets didn’t seem to put their money where their mouth was…BUT, many who were unaware of the problem were made aware, and some outreach was made to expand the creative voices and audience for comics. Comics (especially superhero comics from the Big 2) should do a better job of reflecting the world outside our doors, and hopefully the conversations of 2015 are the beginnings of a better industry in 2016.

DCYou– Yeah, everyone will tell you the launch of DC’s “new audience friendly” line wasn’t met with big sales, but fuck everyone. There were some great comic books in that launch (Prez, Omega Men, Black Canary, etc) and in five years we’ll look back and remember it fondly for being ahead of its time.

DIGITAL DIDN’T KILL THE PRINT STAR– Some people buy their comics in print. Some buy them digitally. And apparently a whole hell of a lot of people do both. Sure, digital comic sales leveled off somewhat in 2015, but they’re still goddamn good, and they haven’t come at the expense of print comic sales. The comics industry is primed to accept new and varied means of distribution, and that can only be a good thing in a world that’s rushing right up that Curve of Accelerating

Smash Pages Q&A: Jim Gibbons and Ryan Yount on Stela

You need to understand one thing about a guy as talented as Jim Gibbons. There are some people that are born to be leaders — born to be damn good editors. I firmly believe Jim came out of the womb that way. There are few comics editors that I put on par with Tom Brevoort. Jim is on that par. He has never steered me wrong when it came time to praise a note. To learn he is one of the leaders of the new Stela venture does not surprise me and it makes me want to think that this thing will succeed out of the gates. To say I was eager to talk to him about this goes without saying and I can’t wait to see what is store for Stela in 2016. Please enjoy the interview as much as I did.

Tim O’Shea: What first attracted you to get onboard with Stela, Ryan and Jim?

Jim Gibbons: First, Tim, thanks so much for giving us the opportunity to chat about Stela!

In answer to your question, it’s not every day that you have the opportunity to help build a new comics publisher from the ground up! That was a huge selling point for me. I love editing comics, but at a certain point I think I realized that every company in comics has a pretty established way of doing things and a pretty established type of content they provide. The chance to blaze a whole new trail is pretty exhilarating!

Stela_comment - EditedBut, even more so than that, the format of Stela—by delivering premiere and exclusive comics content built for mobile devices directly to your phone—really impressed me. It seems like the eternal question of comics is “How do we grow the market?” And even while the market is currently the most healthy it’s been in a long time, there are still—for example—millions of people who are enjoying comic book movies, but aren’t necessarily finding their way to comics.

We really believe that by making the entry into comics as easy as, literally, beaming new comics by creators like Victor Santos, Jen Bartel, Irene Koh, Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, Fabian Rangel Jr., Jason Copland, Haden Blackman, Stuart Moore, Sandra Lanz, and Ethan Young (to name a few) directly into your pocket has huge potentially to grow comics readership. That alone was a huge part of the attraction of working at Stela. And then, talking with Ryan, our CPO Sam Lu, and CEO Jason Juan, three guys who are just so passionate about comics, art, and storytelling and about getting into this industry in the best way with big goals… You can’t ask for a better team to sign on to than that!

Ryan Yount: I got a message, out of the blue, from Sam Lu (Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer). Sam and I had worked together for years at Ubisoftwe used to talk about the “Future of Comics”. Over boba tea in Oakland he started describing what they wanted to do, and I was sold pretty much immediately.

As Jim already said, it’s a rare thing that you get the chance to spin up a new comics publisher from the ground up. Being able to lead the Editorial voice for Stela, and set up an environment around treating creators fairly (and paying them fairly!) was huge. And I’m a true believer in the big concept – bringing great comics to mobile gives us a real shot at expanding the readership of comics.

How did you pick the name?

Jim Gibbons: I wasn’t here for that, so I’ll leave that one to Ryan. But, as a big classics nerd, a name derived from Latin in reference to informational tablets from the ancient world was right up my alley!

Ryan Yount: You know that scene in Silicon Valley, where the group is brainstorming names and then picking them apart one by one? Yeah, like that. [Laughs] Everyone brought in their own contributions, and a couple of us came up with Stela independently. A tall stone marker inscribed with words and pictures… the term just seemed to resonate with everyone here.

What criteria allows you to be involved?

Jim Gibbons: If you’re a currently working comics creator or a prospective talent with a story to tell, then you’re meeting our criteria to do comics with Stela

But to elaborate a bit more, for the past six months or so, we’ve been reaching out to different writers, artists, colorists, and letterers and partnering with them on—primarily—new creator-owned comics. We have over 30 projects currently in the works and we’re reaching out to even more creators now to line up more material. 

As we’ll be delivering comics to current comics readers and brand new readers via an entirely new delivery method, one of the most exciting things about lining up creators has been our freedom to go out and find work from extremely talented creators who don’t necessarily have a long history in comics. We don’t have to worry about how creators have sold previously in the direct market, we can simply find great content from up-and-comers on Tumblr, as an example, and add that to the line up readers will have access to via our subscription model. It’s all about lining up new, fresh content that’ll stand alongside a handful of other creator visions for an amazing, interesting, entertaining, and diverse reading experience! 

Ryan Yount: So far, we’ve been reaching out to creators we want to work with and commissioning new work from them. Technically, we’re not an open-submission publisher. Not yet, anyway. So creators have to know someone who is working with us. This isn’t meant to be an exclusionary club thing—both Jim and I are have been actively pursuing talent we want to work with (not just folks we’ve worked with before). Open Submissions take a lot of extra time; time that we need to spend on getting all of our current projects ready for the app.

Logistically what have been some of the early challenges?

Jim Gibbons: The biggest one, aside from obviously building the app that will deliver all this kick-ass content, has been that each conversation with a creator has to start from square one. We’ve been, until recently, under the radar, so we can’t go “We’re [Insert Established Publisher here]. Let’s talk about doing a comic together!” We’ve had to front-load people with a lot of information on us as a publisher and as a delivery method of content, not to mention getting people up to speed on our format.

That said, it’s been very fun to see so many people say they’ve been wondering about when someone was going to do westernized comics in a mobile native format or that they’re already doing vertically scrolling comics on Tumblr and they’re excited that a publisher is jumping into that arena!

Ryan Yount: The vertical format is something that was a challenge at first, not having many examples to show to creators. But every week it gets easier, as we get more amazing work turned in from our creators.

Early on was it easy or hard to get people onboard?

Jim Gibbons: To a degree, yes. But I’d say that mostly came down to scheduling more than anything. Spend any amount of time on Tumblr or Kickstarter or Twitter and there’s no shortage of extremely talented people with amazing-sounding comics pitches, but very few of them are sitting around going, “I literally have nothing at all to do right now, let’s roll on this tomorrow.”

Other than that, we’re paying very competitive page rates in advance for material the creators own, plus we’re sharing profits with them, as well. Creators also retain their entertainment and print rights. So, it’s a damn good deal, and loads of creators have been very excited to cook up rad new material for our format, as well!

Ryan Yount: Getting the first few creators onboard is always tough when you’re an unknown publisher. After the first few, it gets easier and easier. Creators have to deal with so many jerks trying to take advantage of them that they can be resistant to cold calls. But connections and persistence are key, and, as Jim said, paying our creators page rates helps, as does our fantastic rights arrangement. 

Anything we should discuss that I neglected to ask about?

Jim Gibbons: Oh, I’m sure there are! But for now, I’ll just say “Stay tuned!” All the information that’s come out about Stela in the past week has in many ways been the tip of the iceberg. You’ll be seeing our full creator list and more info on specific series as we move closer and closer to our early 2016 launch date. If you’ve liked what you’ve seen so far, great! But you ain’t seen nothing yet! 

Ryan Yount: What Jim said. *High five!*