Mail Call is a roundup of the announcements we received from publishers in our mailboxes recently. Hit the links for more information.
Fantagraphics is holding a 40% off clearance sale on their website right now, which ends this Saturday. There’s a lot of good stuff to choose from, including volumes of the Mome anthology, Dungeon Quest, some Michael Kupperman books, Roger Langridge’s Fred the Clown and more.
Hear from writers, artists, editors and fans about the impact ‘New Warriors’ has had on them.
Special thanks to Doug Smith, who contributed additional reporting to this post.
Thirty years ago, comic shops were selling the first issue of a brand new comic book series starring a brand new Marvel Comics superhero team. The New Warriors starred a lineup of mostly forgotten and obscure characters by a creative team who had never launched an ongoing series before. Conventional wisdom at the time said the new series would fail. And yet, improbably, New Warriors not only survived, it thrived. At its peak, it was among the top 25 best-selling comics in North America and the United Kingdom.What was it about this underdog series that defied the odds?
Was it the characters? The book starred supporting characters like Namorita from Sub-Mariner and Marvel Boy from The Thing, and stars of previously cancelled comics like Nova and Speedball. Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief at the time, Tom DeFalco, assembled the team. He also included the abandoned co-star of the animated Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends TV show, Firestar, and a new character co-created with Thor artist Ron Frenz, Night Thrasher.
Was it the creators? Writer Fabian Nicieza inherited these characters and immediately embraced them as his own. The first two years of the book was tightly plotted out and featured sharp dialogue, humor, betrayal, adventure and surprise revelations. Artist Mark Bagley, initially inked by Al Williamson and later by Larry Mahlstedt, injected character-driven storytelling with fun action in every issue. After two years, Bagley was moved to Amazing Spider-Man and replaced with Darick Robertson, who brought his own dynamic and expressive storytelling visuals. Even 30 years later, the series is fondly remembered by fans and comic book professionals, even inspiring some of them to become professionals.
We reached out to a number of comic book writers, artists, retailers and others to hear in their own words what made the New Warriors so special to them. We also reached out to Fabian Nicieza and Mark Bagley, as well as the first editor on the series, Danny Fingeroth, and writer Evan Skolnick, who succeeded Nicieza as writer, to get their own thoughts on their time working on this secret classic.
Plus: TCAF canceled, BookExpo postponed and more coronavirus news.
As the threat of the coronavirus continues to spread, and federal, state and local governments take action to try and stop it, “shelter in place” and social distancing orders inevitably harm small businesses, like comics retailers. Many retailers around the country have either closed up for a time or have moved to a mail order/”curbside pickup” system. In his weekly newsletter today, writer Cullen Bunn shared some tips for supprtoing your favorite shop during this time:
…SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP as much as you’re able.
Running a comic book store can be difficult, even in the best of times. Right now, shops are taking a hit. The absolute last thing I want to see—as a reader, a fan, and a creator—is for comic book stores to disappear. It is vital that we all work together to support comic book stores as much as possible and help them get through the coming weeks. When comic book stores suffer, so does the comic book industry. A lot of stores are offering new services during this time of isolation and social-distancing. Some things you can do to help…
Inquiring about curbside pickup.
Inquiring about mail order or delivery options.
Purchasing any books that are in your pull box.
Purchasing gift cards/gift certificates for upcoming birthdays, events, and holidays.
Following your local comic shop on social media for updates on: curtailed hours of operation, events, special accommodations, and cleaning policy.
Tagging your local comic shop on social media & posting photos of the comics you’ve purchased to read during self-quarantine and social distancing.
Image Comics, who issued a letter asking other publishers to help comics retailers during this crisis, also had Alex Cox, Skottie Young and Nate Piekos create a short comic on how fans can support their local shop:
Skottie Young and Humberto Ramos tell the story of the next generation of Marvel magicians.
Several Marvel releases this week featured a preview of the upcoming title Strange Academy, which features Doctor Strange, Doctor Voodoo and other magical characters teaching the next generation of magic users in the Marvel universe.
If you missed them, or you just want to know more, Marvel has released a new trailer that reveals more about the comic’s back story, as writer Skottie Young and editor Nick Lowe discuss the premise and who you can expect to see in it.
“It’s gonna be big and fun and magical and weird and exciting and all the things you want out of a Marvel comic,” Young said.
The creator of ‘I Hate Fairyland’ turns his pen to Carrie, Freddy, Leatherface and more this October.
In addition to being the spookiest month, October is also Inktober, an art challenge where artists from all over the world create a different ink drawing every day of the month. While the official Inktober site provides a list of “prompts” to help inspire artists, many of them choose their own themes.
With many comic artists are participating this year — you can find a lot of them on Twitter or Tumblr using the #inktober hashtag, and we’ve been posting a bunch on our own Tumblr — we thought we’d spotlight a few of the “can’t miss” ones we’ve seen so far.
Skottie Young is an award-winning creator whose work includes I Hate Fairyland, Rocket Raccoon, Marvel’s Oz adaptations and Little Marvels. For Inktober, he’s been drawing horror icons in his unique style, including Freddy Krueger, Leatherface, Carrie and the not-so-scary Casper the Friendly Ghost. You can find some of them below, and see more on his Tumblr.
‘Black Hammer: Age of Doom’ by Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston picks up after the cliffhanger from ‘Black Hammer’ #13.
Golden Gail, Abraham Slam, Barbalien and the rest of the displaced comic characters from Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston’s excellent Black Hammer comics series will return next year in a new series, Black Hammer: Age of Doom.
“One thing Black Hammer has always done is comment on the history of superhero comics and we live in a world where superhero universes seem to be rebooted, relaunched, and rebirthed every year,” Lemire said in a press release. “It felt like we needed to play around with that idea, but put a Black Hammer spin on it. So, starting in April, Dean, Dave Stewart, Todd Klein, and I will continue the story and the mystery of Black Hammer farm in Black Hammer: Age of Doom! It’s a new series, but everything you love will stay intact and we’ll deliver the next chapter in the story of Golden Gail, Abraham Slam, Barbalien and the rest of the gang.”
The previous series ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, which Ormston said they plan to pick up on in Age of Doom.
“Black Hammer ends with a major, game-changing revelation,” Ormston said. “Readers are super keen to find out how our heroes are stuck on the farm and more answers, twists, and turns are coming in Black Hammer: Age of Doom.”
Named for artist Mike Mike Wieringo, the awards were presented over the weekend at the Baltimore Comic-Con.
The winners for the first-ever Ringo Awards were announced this weekend at the Baltimore Comic-Con. The awards are named for artist Mike Wieringo, who passed away in 2007.
The Ringos showed Skottie Young’s I Hate Fairyland some love, as the creator took home awards for Best Cartoonist and Best Humor Comic. March: Book Three by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell continued to rack up accolades as it took home the awards for Best Non-fiction Comic Work and Best Original Graphic Novel. And Tom King, writer of Best Series winner The Vision, won for Best Writer. Other winners included Fiona Staples, Sean Murphy, Todd Klein, Laura Martin, Bloom County and Dean Haspiel’s The Red Hook.
The nomination process was open to anyone, while comic professionals voted on the final winners. Check out the full list of nominees below, with the winners in bold.
Spurred on by an invitation (and offer of free room and board) from festival director Tom Spurgeon, my friend Joe McCulloch I attended the Cartoon Crossroads Columbus festival, held in Columbus, Ohio, last weekend.
If you want a full blow-by-blow account of our trip, check out the latest episode of Comic Books Are Burning in Hell (shameless plug). What follows however, is a (somewhat) brief photo diary of my adventures. It was a good time.