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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Smash Page Q&A: Alex de Campi

The prolific creator pulls no punches as she discusses her brand-new Panel Syndicate comic, ‘Bad Karma,’ and a whole lot more.

Alex de Campi made a splash writing the 2005 miniseries Smoke and ever since then, she’s been a creator who’s been hard to pin down. Some of that is simply because she’s so prolific. De Campi is a writer who’s worked on My Little Pony and Judge Dredd, Josie and the Pussycats in Space and two Archie vs Predator series. She’s created series like Grindhouse, Kat & Mouse and Agent Boo, comics like Mayday and Bad Girls, Bankshot and Semiautomagic. She created the digital comic Valentine and wrote, edited and lettered the Image Comics anthology Twisted Romance

One theme that has run through much of her work is responsibility. De Campi does not write moralistic stories, but many of them revolve around people taking responsibility for who they are for what they’ve done, only to be forced to understand that doing the right thing is often harder than they ever considered. Omar famously said in The Wire, “a man’s gotta have a code,” and so many of de Campi’s characters live similarly. Or finally make a stand and choose to live by a code, only to find that decision often becomes their undoing. Ethan and Sully in Bad Karma did not return from war better and stronger and more successful, but when they learn that someone is on death row for an assassination they carried out, they decide to do something about it. Their road trip and what follows are dark, funny, incisive and some of the best work de Campi has ever written.

Bad Karma from de Campi, Ryan Howe and Dee Cunniffe launches on Panel Syndicate today, with a new chapter coming out next month.

I joked with de Campi that she’s always working on a dozen different projects, and this year is an especially busy one for her. She’s editing and working on the comics anthology True War Stories, she’s collaborating with Erica Henderson on Dracula, Mother f**ker! and she’s writing Madi, a collaboration with filmmaker Duncan Jones that she can’t talk much about, all of which come out this fall. Meanwhile she’s serializing a graphic novel on Patreon, and her debut novel The Scottish Boy comes out the beginning of June from Unbound.

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‘Walking Dead: The Alien’ gets the hardcover treatment

Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s digital one-shot will arrive in print for the second time in July.

Skybound will release a hardcover edition of Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s “The Alien,” a story set in the world of The Walking Dead, in July.

The story was released on the Panel Syndicate website about four years ago now, where it is still available for whatever price you’d like to pay. It was part of a deal Vaughan and Martin made with Walking Dead writer Robert Kirkman and Image Comics, which in exchange received the print rights to their digital comic The Private Eye. It was printed and made available to retailers as a part of Local Comic Shop Day last year as a single issue.

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What Are You Reading? ‘Friday,’ Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel and more

See what the Smash Pages crew has checked off their “to read” list lately.

If you’re looking for something to read while sheltering in place, you’ve come to the right blog, as the Smash Pages crew has a whole mess of comics to talk about this week. So without further ado …

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Panel Syndicate announces ‘Friday’ by Brubaker + Martin + Vicente

The first installment of the digital series is available now.

Criminal writer Ed Brubaker is teaming up with Barrier artists Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente for a new Panel Syndicate title called Friday. It’s about a former girl detective/occult expert who returns home from college for the holidays and gets wrapped up in a new mystery.

“One of the first things I said to Marcos was that this book feels like Lovecraft’s New England is colliding with Edward Gorey’s,” said Brubaker. “And I like to describe Friday as post-YA, which is a genre that doesn’t really exist. It’s an idea I’ve been circling for a long time, that lets me tap into my own nostalgia for my youth and the YA books I loved back in the 70s and 80s – stuff like The Great Brain, or John Belliars books, or Harriet the Spy, or Encyclopedia Brown. I want to take that concept of the teen detective and those supernatural mysteries aimed at kids, but then let the protagonists grow up, so they have all the same problems we all do… and they encounter a much more dangerous world.”

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David Lopez’s ‘BlackHand & IronHead’ coming to print

The Panel Syndicate title arrives as a hardcover from Image Comics this fall.

BlackHand & IronHead, David Lopez’s 2017 digital comic published through Panel Syndicate, will make the jump to print later this year.

Image Comics announced via press release their intent to publish a hardcover collection of the comic in September.

“After many years working only as an artist in the big two, I’ve finally found the courage and I’ve written and drawn my own story, and I’m printing it in Image! Where the world’s best authors publish their works, this is a change of scale, suddenly my public is the whole world, can you believe it?!” said López. “BlackHand & IronHead is sincere, raw, unfiltered and personal, no obligations or compromises, exactly the story I imagined, that’s something I love as a reader and I hope people will love it from my book.”

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Faerber + Montenat team for ‘pilot’ issue of ‘Glacier City’ from Panel Syndicate

New series stars a cop with no back-up in a secluded Alaska town.

Jay Faerber (Copperhead, Noble Causes) and Michael Montenat (Dead Squad, The Fallen) have teamed up to produce a “pilot” issue of a new comic from Panel Syndicate — and if it’s well-received, they plan to do more.

Glacier City, which is available now on the Panel Syndicate website, tells the story of Police Chief Wes Cutter, the only law enforcement in a secluded Alaskan town “where everyone has a secret and his closest backup is hours away.”

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‘Barrier’ jumps to print on Free Comic Book Day 2018

Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente’s pay-what-you-want digital comic lands at Image as a five-issue, weekly miniseries coming next May.

Diamond Comics Distributors has announced the 12 Gold Sponsor comic book titles for 2018’s Free Comic Book Day, which includes titles from DC, Marvel Comics, Dark Horse Comics, IDW and more. While many publishers use the opportunity to kick off events or new series, Image is doing something interesting this year — their FCBD title is Barrier #1, bringing to print Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente’s pay-what-you-want digital comic.

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Ken Niimura’s ‘Umami’ debuts from Panel Syndicate

Download the first issue now at a price of your choosing.

Ken Niimura of Henshin and I Kill Giants fame is the latest creator to join the Panel Syndicate crew, the digital comics imprint started by Marcos Martin and Brian K. Vaughan.

Umami, a black-and-white comic written and drawn by Niimura, debuts today on the site. It’s the story of a chef, a cook, giant birds and a quest for salt. The first issue is available via Panel Syndicate’s “name your price” model, like every other book they offer.

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