Comics Lowdown | Manga gets Naomi Osaka right

Plus: How comics ease quarantine, who buys variant covers and more.

Manga drawing Naomi Osaka

Tennis champ Naomi Osaka is the star of a new story in the Japanese shoujo manga magazine Nakayoshi (which first published Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura, among others), and the creators are taking pains to get her skin tone right. Osaka’s mother is Japanese and her father is Haitian-American, describes herself as “tan,” but an instant-noodle brand that depicted her with light skin caused an uproar last year. This time, the Nakayoshi designers consulted Osaka’s sister Mari Osaka, who is a tennis player and illustrator, for help in getting the skin tones right. The story features Naomi using her tennis skills to battle extraterrestrials in outer space, supported by Mari and her parents. Osaka has drawn some criticism in Japan, where she was born, for her outspokenness on racial matters, but the magazine focuses on her skill and dedication rather than her political statements.

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Mail Call | ‘X-O Manowar’ returns, ‘Death Metal’ one-shots and more

A round-up of news from DC, Marvel, Image Comics, Valiant and more.

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

The Dark Nights: Death Metal event grew again this week, as DC announced two new anthology one-shots for November prior to releasing their full November solicitations.

The first one is focused on Lobo and is titled Dark Nights: Death Metal Infinite Hours Exxxtreme! #1. It will feature “Uncle Lobo” telling “familiar yet freaky stories of the DC Universe, exactly as he remembers them: with blood and guts and exxxtreme gratuitous violence.” The creators involved include Frank Tieri, Becky Cloonan, Dale Eaglesham and more, with a cover by Kyle Hotz.

If that one isn’t ridiculous-sounding enough, the second one, Dark Nights: Death Metal The Multiverse Who Laughs “offers the curious—and the brave—a glimpse into the nightmare realities that the Batman Who Laughs has created in tales by creators who know what it means to have a truly twisted sense of misfit humor.” As you can tell by the cover, one of those worlds features evil super pets. It includes stories by Amanda Conner, Patton Oswalt, Jimmy Palmiotti, Scott Snyder, Brandon Thomas, James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson, Chad Hardin and more.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Jimmy Palmiotti and Dave Johnson

The two-award-winning creators discuss their latest project together, the second issue of ‘Pop Kill’ from Paperfilms.

Dave Johnson is the award-winning cover artist of 100 Bullets, Punisher, Deadpool, Hellboy and the B.P.R.D., Lobster Johnson, Abe Sapien, The Butcher of Paris and many other comics. Jimmy Palmiotti began his career as an inker, but quickly became a writer and editor, co-creating comics like Ash, 21 Down and The Monolith. In recent years, Palmiotti has continued to work with his wife, the great Amanda Conner, on a variety of projects, but much of his work has been writing and co-writing creator-owned graphic novels including Killing Time in America, Retrovirus and Random Acts of Violence, which was adapted into a film just released on video-on-demand, in addition to continuing the story of his characters Painkiller Jane and The Monolith.

Many of those projects, like Pop Kill, which is currently being kickstarted, are collaborations with artist Juan Santacruz. This time they’re joined by co-writer Dave Johnson on a series that’s violent, sexy, very absurd, and they were kind enough to take a few minutes out to talk about the second issue of the series, and continuing the absurd tale of violence, sex, and corporate espionage.

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Palmiotti, Conner working on a Black Label Harley Quinn miniseries

Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner put a mature readers spin on Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey.

Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, the husband and wife team who chronicled the adventures of Harley Quinn for several years, will reunite on the character for a new four-issue ‘Black Label’ miniseries titled Harley Quinn and The Birds of Prey.

As the title would suggest, it will feature Quinn teaming up with Black Canary, Huntress, Cassandra Cain and Renee Montoya after the Joker puts a bounty on her head. And since it falls under their Black Label imprint, expect it to be aimed at more mature audiences than their last work on the character.

“Jimmy and I are so looking forward to this project,” said Conner. “I’m excited to be co-writing it, but it’s been some time since I’ve been able to draw interiors, so I’m doubly excited. Harley is a blast to write and draw; throw the Birds of Prey into the mix and it’s even more fun. And since this will be a mature readers title, we’ll do our best to get away with as many shenanigans as possible!”

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DC’s Walmart-exclusive stories headed to comic shops

DC Comics announced at WonderCon that stories by Brian Michael Bendis, Tom King and others will be released in the direct market.

DC Comics answered a question at WonderCon that’s been in the minds of readers and retailers — will the stories they’ve released exclusively to Walmart ever be collected and available in comic shops?

The answer is yes, as DC announced at their publisher’s panel today that stories like Brian Michael Bendis and Nick Derington’s Batman: Universe will be collected and released in the direct market.

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Donny Cates + friends bring back ‘Marvel Knights’ for its 20th anniversary

Daredevil, Black Panther, Punisher and more will be featured in ‘MK20’ #1 this fall.

It was 20 years ago that two creators at a small publishing house called Event Comics got the green light to take over several Marvel titles. Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti helped usher Marvel out of the dark ages of the 1990s and into the future, bringing in creators like Kevin Smith, Brian Michael Bendis, Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon, Christopher Priest and many others to tackle Daredevil, Black Panther, Punisher, Inhumans and several other Marvel characters.

Overall it is was very successful, especially from a storytelling perspective; Quesada eventually took over as Marvel editor-in-chief, and the tone of the stories set the course for much of Marvel’s success over the past two decades. The Marvel Knights imprint eventually evolved into something else, featuring high-profile miniseries, and went dormant about five years ago.

Until now.

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Walmart to offer exclusive ‘giant’ anthologies from DC — with new content

New material by Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Dan Jurgens, Tim Seeley, Tom King, Brian Michael Bendis and Andy Kubert joins past stories in new monthly line.

DC Comics and Walmart have teamed up to offer an exclusive line of 100-page “giant” anthologies at the big-box retailer. The anthologies will feature a mix of previously published and new materiel, including new material by Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Patrick “Patch” Zircher, Brian Michael Bendis, Dan Jurgens, Tim Seeley, Rick Leonardi, Steve Buccellato, Andy Kubert, Scott Eaton and Tom King.

“We are extraordinarily excited about working with Walmart to expand the reach of our books,” said DC Publisher Dan DiDio in a statement. “These new monthly books combine new and accessible stories with reprints of classic comic series. It’s a great way for new readers to get into comics and follow the characters they’ve grown to love in TV and film.”

Each of the four titles – Superman Giant, Justice League Of America Giant, Batman Giant and Teen Titans Giant – will arrive in stores by July 1. Beginning in August, the Superman and Justice League titles will arrive in week one of each month, with Batman and Teen Titans arriving approximately two weeks later. They’ll cost $4.99.

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Comics Lowdown: ‘One Punch Man’ tops GN chart

Plus: Another view of Marvel’s Northrop Grumman Comic, Palmiotti and Conner say goodbye to Harley Quinn, and was New York Comic Con too big?

Top Graphic Novels: Viz takes half the slots in the September BookScan top 20 chart, which measures sales of graphic novels in the book channel: Vol. 12 of One Punch Man was the top seller, followed by the all-in-one edition of Death Note (a 12-volume omnibus—yes, it’s a brick). Perennial best-sellers Fun Home, March, and Watchmen all make the chart, as does Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight: Master Race, vol. 3 of Tom King’s Batman: Rebirth, and Avatar’s limited edition of Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows’s Providence: Act 3. Interestingly, there is not a single Image title on the list.

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Palmiotti, Cooke’s ‘The Adventures of Dutch Courage’ arrives in Chicago beer stores

Palmiotti and Cooke’s story appears across six labels of “an incredibly complex Session Ale brewed with Juniper Berries and Lemon Peel.”

Jimmy Palmiotti and Darwyn Cooke have brewed up a new six-panel story that draws inspiration from the old Charles Atlas ads that appeared in comics starting in the 1940s. But you won’t find it at your local comic shop today — you’ll only find it in Chicago-area liquor stores.

As a part of Chicago-based Arcade Brewery’s “6 Pack Stories” line of beer, Palmiotti and Cooke’s comic appears on labels of The Adventures of Dutch Courage, “an incredibly complex Session Ale brewed with Juniper Berries and Lemon Peel,” according to the brewery’s website. Each panel of the story appears on one of the six-pack’s bottles, so you’ll want to drink them in the right order. Volume one of Arcade’s 6 Pack Stories” featured a comic by Jason Aaron and Tony Moore, and was released in 2014.

According to a post on their Facebook page, the beer will be available at three locations today, followed by distribution around Chicago by the end of the week.

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