Three Things | Roachmill, George Pratt, Kevin Conroy

Here are three things in comics to support, to see and to watch today.

1. To support: Roachmill returns from It’s Alive!

The 1980s saw a huge explosion in the number of comics coming from independent comics publishers. It was mainly driven by a couple of factors, one being the creation and growth of the direct market, and also by what’s known as the black-and-white comics boom (and subsequent bust) that was sparked by the creation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and fueled by a speculator’s market of low print run, and often low quality, B&W comics. But there were certainly some gems amongst the garbage.

One of the companies in the mix back then was Blackthorne Publishing, a company born when Pacific Comics closed down, who would go on to be quite successful for a number of years publishing 3-D comics, comic strip reprints, licensed comics and original stuff. One of those originals was Roachmill, by Rich Hedden and Tom McWeeney, which was definitely a gem.

Roachmill was a crazy science fiction/action/satire story, set on a future Earth where aliens were commonplace — and many caused trouble. Earth enacted the Extermination Act, which allowed anyone carrying a gun to use it in alien-related situations, and also brought about the creation of exterminators — professionals you could hire to do your killing for you. Roachmill was one such exterminator, a man with extra roach-like arms who ran Roachmill Pest Control in a New York overrun with crime, aliens, corrupt politicians and more. You can see how the story might still have some relevancy today. Blackthorne published the first six issues, and then the comic moved over to another fledgling publisher, Dark Horse, who you may have heard of.

And now It’s Alive is crowdfunding the return of Roachmill. They plan to publish the first six Blackthorne issues both individually and as a collection. From the campaign page:

We know there are a LOT of ROACHMILL fans out there, and we are thrilled to get this material back on the shelf, both for long time fans and new readers to enjoy. But, we need YOUR help to restore every page of this 80’s classic to the level of quality it  deserves, as well as compensating the hard working artists for their efforts on our amazing variant covers.

Visit Kickstarter for more info or to pledge.

2. To see: George Pratt’s color guide for his cover to Batman #431

This one is for the process lovers in the house. On Instagram, painter and illustrator George Pratt — known for his work on books starring Enemy Ace, Wolverine and Batman, as well as countless covers and Magic: The Gathering cards — shared his color guide for the cover to Batman #431, giving some idea about how colorists and editors ensure the colors they are using match the final comic.

These were watercolors over a xerox copy of the final cover art with text, etc. we were given a printed chart of specific colors that we were allowed to use for covers. So you colored the art as you wanted it to look, then using the chart you had to as closely as possible choose colors that best represented your guide. You then labeled each color with the corresponding code for that mixture. Bob was especially adept at how to get the best representation and the best way to clearly mark the guide.

3. To watch: Kevin Conroy’s thank you video

Most people know that Kevin Conroy is the voice actor behind Batman from Batman: The Animated Series and other shows, but this week he also became a comic book creator, as DC published an autobiographical story from him (drawn by J. Bone in his distinct style) in their DC Pride 2022 anthology. It was about his life prior to becoming the voice of Batman and the abuse he suffered as a gay man in Hollywood, and how he channeled those experiences into bringing the character to life.

The story is moving and touched a lot of fans, and Conroy expresses his thanks for their support — as well the support of DC and the rest of the creative team. Watch it below, and pick up DC Pride to see the story for yourself:

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