Cates, Shaw deliver magic swords to Texas in ‘God Country’

The creative team behind ‘Buzzkill’ create a new series from Image Comics.

The creative team behind Buzzkill and The Paybacks will re-team for God Country, due out from Image Comics in January.

Described as “Southern Bastards meets American Gods,” God Country, by Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw, tells the story of an old man with dementia in Texas whose small town is destroyed by a tornado — which also happens to deliver a mystical sword that restores his mind and body. Then he fights monsters!

“This is a story Geoff and I have been wanting to tell for such a long time, and to be able to do it with Image is beyond a dream come true,” said Cates in the press release. “God Country is full of heart, action, giant swords, Kirby Gods, Texans, magic tornados, and family drama…so it’s really just everything I love piled into one great, epic yarn. This January everyone is welcome to come on in, grab a beer, have a seat and get ready… we have a hell of a story to tell you.”

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Dustin Weaver celebrates early Image with sketch series

Check out the artists’ renditions of Spawn, Youngblood, The Maxx, Savage Dragon and more.

While we’re waiting for Dustin Weaver’s new Image book, Paklis, to hit next year, the artist has shared some pretty stunning sketches celebrating the early years of the publisher, starting with the original seven Image books and then the “Darker Image” titles that soon followed.

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Black-and-white Lying Cat statue coming for Local Comic Shop Day

From the pages of ‘Saga’ — if it wasn’t colored — leaps the popular, living lie detector.

Skybound will release a limited edition, black-and-white version of its Lying Cat statue for this year’s Local Comic Shop Day.

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Barbiere and Santos aim for the heart with “Violent Love”

The creators of “Five Ghosts” and “Polar” team up for the tale of two notorious bank robbers who fall in love.

I named an island in my D&D campaign after Frank J. Barbiere. I was creating it around the time that his Five Ghosts series, with artist Chris Mooneyham, hit the high seas for a storyline, and since the island had pirates on it, “Barbiere” made a fun name and actually fit really well. Now I’m thinking I need to add a town on it called “Santos” run by two thieves who fell for each other.

Why, you ask? (Or even if you didn’t, because you aren’t one of the three other people in the universe who cares about my D&D adventures …) Because Frank J. Barbiere and Victor Santos (Polar) are teaming up for a brand-new comic, Violent Love. The main characters, Daisy Jane and Rock Bradley, are two of the most notorious bank robbers in the American Southwest — and then they fell in love.

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Lemire announces release dates for two projects

‘A.D.: After Death’ with Scott Snyder starts later this year, while ‘Roughnecks’ arrives in 2017.

Sweet Tooth and Trillium creator Jeff Lemire has revealed updated releases dates for projects he’s working on — A.D.: After Death with writer Scott Snyder from Image Comics and Roughneck, which he’s both writing and drawing himself, from Simon and Schuster’s new Gallery 13 imprint.

Announced back in January of 2015, A.D.: After Death tells the story of what happens when mankind cures death. A.D.: After Death will be serialized as three, oversized prestige format books written by Snyder and fully painted by Lemire. The first volume is due in November.

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Roughneck, meanwhile, is about a former hockey tough guy living in small-town Canada, like his Essex County trilogy. It’s now due in April 2017 from Gallery 13, a new graphic novel imprint which will launch next year. In addition to Lemire’s book, the imprint will also re-release Stephen King and Bernie Wrightson’s Creepshow and will publish Alone, a French graphic novel by Christophe Chaboute, according to ICv2.

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Hickman heads to space in ‘Frontier’

Hickman will write and draw a new Image Comics series, due in November, described as “like ‘Star Trek,’ but super depressing.”

Polygon has the scoop on a new title coming from Jonathan Hickman, his first to write and draw, I believe, since 2008’s “Pax Romana.” Andy Kuhn will assist with layouts.

Described as “like ‘Star Trek,’ but super depressing,” the comic will detail how Earth joined a peaceful galactic community — then got kicked out for being too violent. Eventually that galactic government finds itself at war, and agrees to let Earth back in if they’ll serve as cannon fodder during the war. So Earth sends their prisoners, who had been kept on the moon, to battle.

“I just wanted the story to reflect kind of how I feel about society right now,” Hickman told Polygon. “Like, why would we assume expansion is going to work out? I mean, I have hope, but that’s it, any expectation I had as a kid when I first started reading this stuff — that the future, or exploration, or colonization is guaranteed — is nonexistent … I have hope, but the idea that some species would take a long, hard look at humanity and think, ‘Yeah, those guys look awesome, got to have them in our utopian society, immediately’ seems like wishful thinking.”

While it has been some time since Hickman provided interior artwork for a series, it’s actually how he got his start, with the Image Comics miniseries “The Nightly News” in 2007, which he both wrote and drew. Even when he doesn’t draw a book, you can see his graphic design skills at work on covers and backmatter in “Manhattan Projects” and “Secret Warriors,” among many other titles.

“Frontier” kicks off in November.

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Soule & Browne are off to see the Wizord in ‘Curse Words’

Koalas, magical assassins, hogtaurs and more, coming from Image Comics in January.

Get ready to meet Wizord, an “evil wizard in good-wizard disguise,” as Charles Soule and Ryan Browne team for “Curse Words,” winner of this week’s Best New Title for a Comic award.

Announced in the special Comic-Con edition of Entertainment Weekly, Soule (“Daredevil,” “Letter 44,” “Strongman”) and Browne (“God Hates Astronauts”) will pit Wizord and his koala against magical assassins, hogtaurs (like centaurs, but hogs) and other craziness.

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“Dumbledore’s solid. Real powerful wizard. Did some good. Gandalf too. Cool dudes, no doubt. But are they really wizards for TODAY?” Soule asked on Twitter. “That’s the question (Ryan Browne) and I asked ourselves when we started to develop our new book. Who’s the wizard we need?”

“It’s about time that two guys with silent Es at the end of their names got together and told an epic story about a Wizord and a koala,” Browne added.

Published by Image Comics, “Curse Words” is due out in January.

Image to publish Jeff Lemire’s ‘Royal City’

New comic written and drawn by Lemire comes out next March.

As noted on his blog, Jeff Lemire will write AND draw his first comic since 2013’s Trillium. Royal City, a new ongoing published by Image Comics, follows “a fading literary star who reluctantly returns to the once-thriving factory town where he grew up,” and has to deal with overbearing family, the vanishing town and the “ghosts” of his younger brother, who drowned decades prior.

“I have a two-season plan, about 20 issues of the comic, that will tell one decisive story about the Pike family,” Lemire told Entertainment Weekly. “But the idea of returning to this family of characters at different points in my life is really exciting to me. I think it could be something that I return to — an umbrella where I could tell other stories.”

The first issue is due out next March.

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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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