Smash Pages Q&A: Mark Russell

The writer of ‘The Snagglepuss Chronicles,’ ‘The Flintstones’ and more discusses ‘Second Coming,’ his new series from AHOY Comics.

In the span of a few years, Mark Russell has written a series of comics that have rethought and re-envisioned a number of characters at DC Comics. From Snagglepuss to Prez to The Flinstones, Russell has rethought the characters and their worlds in new and novel ways, finding depths and concerns that are striking and thoughtful. Russell’s first books in comics were God is Disappointed in You and Apocrypha Now, with Shannon Wheeler, which were published by Top Shelf Comix. So religion has long been an interest of his.

His new book is Second Coming with artist Richard Pace. The first issue arrived last month from AHOY Comics, with the second issue scheduled to arrive tomorrow. The controversy around it has drowned out the actual book, which is a smart look at Sunstar, a Superman-like hero, and Jesus, the character from the Bible. It’s a shocking idea, but perhaps more startling is what Russell does with the idea, which is to explore the limits of superheroes, start a conversation around power, and consider what religion and change mean today.

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Meet Sunstar in this preview of ‘Second Coming’

Mark Russell and Richard Pace’s controversial comic debuts tomorrow.

Mark Russell and Richard Pace’s Second Coming took the long way to get into comic shops, but the first issue will arrive tomorrow in comic shops and digital platforms.

The satirical, controversial and excellent first issue features the first meeting between Jesus and Sunstar, the world’s greatest superhero, and AHOY Comics has provided a few preview pages to whet your appetite before diving in tomorrow.

Check them out below.

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‘Second Coming’ finally makes it to comic shops this week

The first issue of Mark Russell and Richard Pace’s story about Jesus and superheroes arrives Wednesday from AHOY Comics.

It’s been a long, winding road for Mark Russell and Richard Pace’s Second Coming, but this week it finally makes its way into the hands of readers.

The quick version:

  • Second Coming was originally announced more than a year ago as a part of the latest (and, it would turn out, last) wave of Vertigo books, in celebration of their 25th anniversary. The story features a superhero named Sunstar (formerly Sun-Man) becoming roommates with Jesus Christ.
  • News about the comic’s premise caught the eyes of the religious right, who petitioned DC Comics to cancel the book. They called the unreleased comic “inappropriate and blasphemous.” DC canceled it a few weeks before it was slated to hit comic shops.
  • AHOY Comics picked it up in March, with the first issue scheduled to arrive this Wednesday.

So what’s this all about? Let’s break it down …

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Comics Lowdown: New player in town: Graphite digital comic subscription service

Plus: Steve Morrow passes away, New York Times stops editorial cartoons, and more!

The New York Times reports on a new digital comics service, Graphite, that operates on a subscription basis, like ComiXology Unlimited. Graphite will offer a free version with ads, and their premium ad-free version is priced at $4.99 a month, a buck cheaper than ComiXology Unlimited, but their real selling point is automated recommendations:

On other platforms, recommendations are typically offered by editors, said Tom Akel, Graphite’s chief content officer. “Ours takes into account your user behavior, what you’ve watched before, what the pool of people around you liked and cross references that the same way a Netflix algorithm will,” he said.

The real test of a digital comics service, of course, is content. Graphite’s lineup will include BOOM! Studios, Tokyopop, Dynamite, IDW and the children’s publisher Papercutz, but not Marvel or DC (both of whom have their own subscription services). This is a choice that seems to make sense for the smaller publishers; as BOOM!’s Filip Sablik commented, “We’ve had free content available for multiple years, and it hasn’t cut into our Comixology business. In fact, it has continued to grow.

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Comics Lowdown: Stan Lee’s former manager’s legal troubles grow

Plus: Stolen comics, cease and desist letters, Ted Talks, Jesus and more.

Legal woes for Stan Lee’s former caretaker and manager, Keya Morgan, continue to grow. He has been arrested and appeared in court in Arizona to face the charge of being a fugitive of justice. And he is also being sued by Joan Celia Lee, Stan Lee’s daughter.

In May, Morgan was charged with felony counts of false imprisonment of an elder adult, theft, embezzlement, and forgery or fraud against an elder adult, according to the Los Angeles Superior Court. The LAPD has revealed some of the details on why they brought charges against him.

“Morgan removed Lee from his Hollywood Hills residence to a secured Beverly Hills condominium during the late night hours of June 8, 2018,” the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement. “Morgan was using this tactic to further deceive Lee into believing he was in danger and needed to be moved from his home to a more secured condominium where Morgan had more control over Lee.”

The LAPD will eventually extradite Morgan to L.A. to face the charges.

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‘Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles’ wins a GLAAD Media Award

The comic by Mark Russell and Mike Feehan was recognized in a ceremony this week in Los Angeles.

The DC Comics revival of several classic Hanna Barbera cartoons as comics has brought some interesting results — and now it’s brought them a GLAAD Media Award.

Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles took home the award last night in the Outstanding Comic Book category. The comic re-imagined the pink cougar as a gay playwright in the 1950s dealing with McCarthyism and the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

The comic was created by writer Mark Russell, penciller Mike Feehan, inker Mark Morales, colorist Paul Mounts and editors Marie Javins, Diego Lopez and Brian Cunningham.

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Bendis’ Wonder Comics line to feature ‘Young Justice,’ ‘Wonder Twins’ and more

David Walker, Sam Humphries, Joe Quinones, Patrick Gleason and more join Bendis for his curated imprint.

Shortly after Brian Michael Bendis signed an exclusive contract with DC Comics, the publisher announced that the writer of Action Comics and Superman would also oversee a curated/”pop-up” imprint that would “feature some of Bendis’ all-time favorite characters in very unique and unusual situations, combined with new characters created specifically for this new imprint.”

Today at the New York Comic Con, DC publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee hosted a “Meet the Publishers” panel where Bendis revealed more details about his imprint. The imprint, Wonder Comics, will feature four “teen-focused, in-continuity comic books scheduled to debut in early 2019.”

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DC Comics goes nuclear this Christmas

‘DC Nuclear Winter Special’ features 10 holiday stories set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

DC Comics will continue their holiday on-shot tradition, albeit with a somewhat radioactive theme this year — DC Nuclear Winter Special will arrive in comic shops and bomb shelters in November.

Like in previous years, the holiday special will feature various characters from the DC Universe, all in stories featuring a “nuclear winter” theme. The release says it’ll include stories starring Batman, Superman and Flash, while the cover also shows Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn and Kamandi (the latter of which makes perfect sense).

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Vertigo shares a bunch of art from their upcoming relaunch

Check out artwork from ‘Border Town,’ ‘Safe Sex,’ ‘Goddess’ and more.

Earlier this summer DC’s Vertigo imprint announced seven new titles as part of their 25th anniversary relaunch. At Comic-Con International in San Diego this week, they shared a whole bunch of art from several of those titles.

Let’s take a look:

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