Smash Pages Q&A: Sanford Greene

The artist and co-creator of ‘Bitter Root’ talks about the series’ origins and how current events are shaping its direction.

Sanford Greene has been drawing comics for years, working on projects that ranged from Wonder Girl and Rotten Apple to Runaways and Galactic. But until a few years ago, he was probably best known for his run on Power Man and Iron Fist with David Walker, and though the series didn’t last long, it showed off Greene’s kinetic figurework, his skill at capturing a sense of place, not bound by the constraints of realism, instead attempting to convey a sense of the world as it feels, in the best tradition of superhero comics.

Greene is currently the artist and co-creator of the acclaimed series Bitter Root, which is his finest work to date. This is the saga of the Sangerye family, who hunt monsters in 1920s Harlem — though as we discussed in our conversation, the story is ultimately about far more, about hate and monstrous behavior and American history. Greene’s artwork manages to capture the era but also depicts its own world in ways that have had me re-reading every page. Issue #9 of the series comes out this week from Image Comics, and I spoke with Greene about the series, his career and how recent events have changed both our understanding of history and the book.

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Orlando + Tinto investigate the death of compassion in ‘Commanders in Crisis’

The new series debuts from Image Comics in October.

Following his well-received runs on comics like Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman and Midnighter, Steve Orlando will next take his superhero sensibilities to Image Comics for a creator-owned series, Commanders in Crisis, with artist Davide Tinto (IDW’s Marvel Action: Spider-Man).

Commanders in Crisis is all the energy and creativity I’ve served for the past five years, now completely unchained!” said Orlando. “No rules, no restraints, the type of strange and passionate ideas that brought me into the medium in the first place. Comics should be bold, comics should be big, and comics should be badass. This is my first freelance launch since 2015, and we’re taking a nuclear shot across the bow. No vanilla vengeance here! This is a fight for comics as they need to be.”

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Mail Call | Defend-ing the Hero Initiative, new ‘Bad Karma’ and more

Plus: News from DC, Image, Humble Bundle and more.

Mail Call is a roundup of the announcements we’ve received from publishers in our mailboxes recently. Hit the links for more information.

DC Comics has announced a change in the variant covers for the upcoming The Dreaming: Waking Hours #1. The cover shown below, by Yanick Paquette and Nathan Fairbairn, will replace one from Bill Sienkiewicz that they first showed us in May.

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Remender recruits a different team of artists for each issue of ‘Scumbag’

The new Image title about a ‘profane’ super-spy ‘with a fifth-grade education’ starts in October.

Rick Remender‘s next project is all about a Scumbag — Ernie Ray Clementine, a “profane, illiterate, drug addicted, biker, with a fifth-grade education.” He’s also a super-spy.

Scumbag kicks off in October from Image Comics, and the first issue will feature artwork by Lewis LaRosa and Moreno Dinisio. After that, the art team will change every issue.

“It is very hard to get an artist to commit to one book for a long run,” Remender told ComicBook.com. “It’s a lot of investment, harder still is getting a really great artist to sign on for a long run. So, I had the idea to lure in a bunch of my favorite artists to each do a single issue. The great experiment is underway and going really well. This new ongoing series will feature a murderers’ row of all-star artistic talent rotating each issue.”

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Zdarsky + Perez team for ‘Stillwater’ from Skybound

The horror series will explore a town where ‘nobody dies.’

Chip Zdarsky (Howard the Duck, Sex Criminals, Daredevil) and Ramon Perez (Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand, Jane) are teaming up for a new horror series called Stillwater for Skybound/Image Comics.

“I’m thrilled people are finally going to see Stillwater! This idea’s been percolating in my for years now, and it’s been fun working with Ramon to build this tiny, strange world! I’ve always wanted to write a horror comic so I can show the world that I’m not JUST creepy, I can also write creepy!” said Zdarsky. “I love getting to explore immortality on a small stage, the idea that you can live forever but just within such a constrained space. It’s been a treat getting to write characters struggling with that terrifying deal.”

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Image announces ‘The Department of Truth’ by Tynion IV + Simmonds

New ongoing series will follow a conspiracy theorist and the organization dedicated to covering them up.

James Tynion IV seems to be competing for the title of comic’s busiest writer (if he hasn’t claimed it already). This week Image Comics announced a new title by the writer of Wynd and Batman, among many others, titled The Department of Truth.

Tynion will team with artist Martin Simmonds, whose work you may know from Friendo, Dying is Easy and Punk’s Not Dead. They’re joined by letterer Aditya Bidikar and designer Dylan Todd.

“It is the story of a young man named Cole Turner recruited into a shadowy organization within the United States government that makes sure that conspiracy theories stay conspiracy theories, a job that will push him to his own limits as he grapples with the nature of truth, history, the human condition and the American dream,” Tynion wrote in his email newsletter. “It is a conspiracy thriller, told with a horror edge.”

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Return to the world of ‘The Walking Dead’ in ‘Negan Lives’ one-shot

Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard will reveal what happened to Negan in a new comic exclusive to comic shops.

Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard are returning to the world of The Walking Dead for a one-shot featuring everybody’s favorite bad guy, Negan.

Negan Lives #1 will only be available in comic shops this July, as Kirkman and Adlard wanted to do something for comics retailers to help them as they attempt to recover from the COVID-19 shutdown. It will not be available digitally.

“I’ve been inspired by Steve Geppi and Diamond’s efforts to shine a light on how essential the Direct Market is to our beloved industry with their #backthecomeback campaign,” said Kirkman. “While Charlie Adlard and I had laid the series to rest, this felt like something special we could do for the store owners who made our series a success to begin with. To that end, I’m happy to report that 100% of the revenue generated from this book will go to the stores selling it. The retailer community does backbreaking work to get comics into the hands of our loving fans, we should all be doing more in these trying times to show them how appreciated they are.”

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Mail Call | James Stokoe is doing a Clownhunter story for a ‘Joker Wars’ one-shot

Plus: News from Image, Aftershock and the CBLDF.

Mail Call is a roundup of the announcements we’ve received from publishers in our mailboxes recently. Hit the links for more information.

Batman: The Joker War Zone #1 is a collection of short stories that tie into the upcoming “Joker Wars” storyline in Batman. The 48-page one-shot will include stories by James Tynion IV, John Ridley, Guillem March, James Stokoe, Joshua Williamson, David Lafuente and more.

The artwork above is from Stokoe’s contribution, a story featuring the new character Clownhunter. In the press release, DC says this is “the brutal full debut of the mysterious new anti-hero known as Clownhunter.”

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Quarantine Comix to be collected in September

‘Ice Cream Man Presents: Quarantine Comix’ #1 will collect stories by W. Maxwell Prince, Martin Morazzo, Chris O’Halloran and more.

If you’ve been waiting for all the fun Quarantine Comix released by the Ice Cream Man team to come to print, have I got some good news for you, with sprinkles on top — Image Comics will release Ice Cream Man Presents: Quarantine Comix in September.

Originally started to help raise money for retailers who had to close down their shops during the corornavirus pandemic and shelter-in-place orders, Quarantine Comix was the brainchild of the team behind Image’s crazy horror anthology, Ice Cream Man. W. Maxwell Prince, Martin Morazzo, Chris O’Halloran and Good Old Neon created six minicomics that they released and sold online, with half of their profits going to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, or BINC. Those were followed by a “guest series” that wraps up this week with a new comic by Christopher Cantwell and Eoin Marron.

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