After Watchmen…What’s Next?

Whether you loved it (like me), or you left the cinema scratching your head, one thing’s certain – Watchmen intrigued people. I’ve leant my copy of the TPB to at least 3 people at work. It’s not bad as a ‘gateway book’ for people unfamiliar with sequential art. Sure, it’s complex, but it serves as a bold statement that comics aren’t simple. DC realise that Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ work will open a lot of eyes around the world, and are wisely taking advantage of that. Out now are a few more ‘gateway book’s that can ease new readers into the scary world of comics. Even if you’ve read these Trades, you might wanna grab some for friends that find comics hard to grasp. Go here to see the complete list of 20 titles available under the After Watchmen…What’s Next? banner. There’s something for every taste, from classics like Sandman and The Dark Knight Returns to newer works such as Y: The Last Man and Identity Crisis. Below are some of my faves.

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Free Marvel Toons

90s Storm

90s Wolverine and CyclopsI remember struggling to catch as much of the glorious 1990s X-Men cartoon each day before heading off to school. It was surprisingly faithful to the comics of the time, and often written by comics scribes. Many people came to be aware of Marvel’s merry mutants due to this show. Now you can see them all over again, as well as the new Wolverine and the X-Men animated series, which is my fave thing on TV, along with the fun Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Press release below.

Calling all Mutants! Every Tuesday, Marvel.com will stream episodes from the X-Men animated series that launched in 1992. Relive the adventure, excitement and that awesome theme song every week starting today, April 28!

Watch episode 1, “Night of the Sentinels” Part 1, for free right now, here.

Episode 1, “Night of the Sentinels,” Part 1: After being attacked by a group of robots known as the Sentinels, Jubilation Lee meets the X-Men, a group of super heroes aiming for peace between mutants and the rest of society.

Plus, check out these other shows, already streaming for free on Marvel.com:

Japanese Spiderman 

Wolverine and the X-Men 

Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes 

X-Men: Evolution 

Spider-Man, the animated series from 1967

90s Beast90s Rogue

FCBD Signings Galore

FCBD – that’s Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday, May 2. Basically you can grab selected freebies from participating comic shops around the globe. For more info, go here. There’s a lot happening, especially in America (they have all the fun) including signings at various comic shops with Captain Kirk (or at least that Shatner guy that played him), and a treasure trove of comics creators. It’s a great way to introduce friends or family members to the wonders of sequential art. A gaggle of press releases below.

fcbd_cymk_dateEvent: William Shatner signing at Golden Apple Comics  
       “FREE COMIC BOOK DAY”
What: Retail
Host: Bluewater Productions
Start Time: Saturday, May 2 at 1:00pm
End Time: Saturday, May 2 at 3:00pm
Where: Golden Apple Comics

Hero Initiative is proud to announce a unique fundraising partnership with Southern California comic stores on Saturday, May 2nd for Free Comic Book Day, and Los Angeles’ “Big Sunday” on May 3.   Three comic stores in Southern California will donate proceeds directly to Hero Initiative from signings and drawings by featured creators.  In addition, the local comic stores will host community events and distribute free comic books as part of the national celebration.  Local celebrations on Saturday, May 2nd include:

Collector’s Paradise, 7131 Winnetka Ave, Winnetka California

A signing will be held between 12pm and 3:00pm attended by:

  •          Mark Waid (Amazing Spider-Man)
  •          Marc Guggenheim (Amazing Spider-Man)
  •          Jim Mahfood (40-oz. Comics)
  •          Mike Kunkel (Billy Baston and the Power of Shazam!)
  •          Joe Benitez (Justice League of America)
  •          David Wohl (Witchblade)
  •          JT Krul (Fathom)

In addition, eBay auctions of original art donated to Hero will start May 2nd here.

And a professional photographer will take picture of you and your favorite artist or Comic Book Hero at Collector’s Paradise with all proceeds donated to Hero Initiative.

Finally, you can bring your Ralphs Rewards grocery store card to Collector’s Paradise to sign it up for Hero on Ralphs Community Contribution program OR sign up for a new card and get a FREE copy of Hero’s What If This Was the Fantastic Four?

Meltdown Comics, 7522 West Sunset, Los Angeles CA

Artist Tim Sale (Batman: The Long Halloween) will be in attendance on Hero’s behalf from noon-2 PM and will do sketches on the inside cover of books for $20, and Hero sketchcards for $10.

Four Color Fantasies, 7172 Archibald Ave, Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Original art auctions will benefit Hero Initiative, and there will be character appearances by Batman and Robin, Superman, and the Star Wars 501st legion. Drawing contests, face paining and free food and fun for the whole family will also be included. Some of the many featured artists to appear include:

  •          Todd Nauck (Amazing Spider-Man)
  •          Danny Miki (Amazing Spider-Man)
  •          Norm Rapmund (Infinite Crisis)
  •          Allen Martinez  (Iron Man)

And on Sunday, May 3, Los Angeles’ all-inclusive charity event known as Big Sunday will also benefit Hero Initiative with “Change for Change” at many of its most-attended sites. Volunteers for Change for Change will be asking people to donate their loose change to Hero. Check out www.bigsunday.org for locations and events

top-cow-fcbd-2009-final_page_01Top Cow Productions, Inc. proudly announced its plans today for this weekend’s Free Comic Book Day, Saturday, May 2nd which takes place in comic shops across North America. Free Comic Book Day is an annual event where participating direct market stores give out free comics to anyone that walks into their store.
    Top Cow is participating again in the event with their Free Comic Book Day offering, Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer First Look. The issue serves as an introduction to the publisher’s summer event of the same name, which brings together the two popular teams Cyberforce and Hunter-Killer. The series and Free Comic Book Day offering is written by Mark Waid (Amazing Spider-Man, Irredeemable) and drawn by Kenneth Rocafort (Astonishing Tales, Madame Mirage). Both teams were co-created by Top Cow founder Marc Silvestri and Hunter-Killer was co-created by writer Mark Waid. The teams have been absent from a regular series for several years and this marks their return to the forefront of the Top Cow Universe. 
    Writer Mark Waid will be appearing at Collector’s Paradise in Winnetka, CA and artist Kenneth Rocafort will be appearing at the Puerto Rico Comic Con in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Other Top Cow creators making appearances in Los Angeles include Michael Broussard, Rob Levin, Nelson Blake II, and Rick Loverd. Additionally, Top Cow mainstays Ron Marz and Phil Hester will be appearing in various parts of the United States to celebrate the annual event. 

    Complete details follow below:

Collector’s Paradise
7131 Winnetka Ave.
Winnetka, CA 91306
(818) 999-9455
Signing 12pm-3pm
Mark Waid (Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer)
Joe Benitez (The Darkness, Magdalena)
David Wohl (Witchblade, The Darkness)

Puerto Rico Comic Con & Pop Culture Expo
100 Convention Boulevard 
San Juan, PR 00907
http://www.thepopcultureexpo.com/
Signing 
Kenneth Rocafort (Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer, Madame Mirage)

For more Top Cow related signings, see below.

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Wonder Woman Sneak Peek

Wonder Woman #31, from DC Comics goes on sale this week. Diana battles Achilles, Zeus’ choice to replace her. The battle of the sexes is on. Written by Gail Simone (Secret Six), with art by Bernard Chang (not Aaron Lopresti despite what DC’s website says), this issue continues the Rise of the Olympian storyline.

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Mr. Stuffins #1 Review

Mr. Stuffins #1Think of this title as Reverse Chucky. Instead of a doll terrorizing children, and adults alike, we have a teddy bear helping them.

From Andrew Cosby and Johanna Stokes, who have written the excellent BOOM! series Eureka and Station, respectively, comes this impressively cuddly debut. It had me smirking and fondly recalling my own carefree days of playing with my He-Man figures and G.I Joes. Ah, good times. This is a boy’s own adventure – literally, but it does have a healthy dose of dark humour and adventure. Like BOOM!’s other series, such as The Incredibles, or The Muppet Show Comic Book, this is something parents could read with their kids, with both getting enjoyment from it.

It begins with a scientist running from the agency he works for. Upon creating Artificial Intelligence, he flees from his nefarious employers and runs to the closest toy shop, where he swaps his CD with that of an interactive teddy bear. At the same time, David, a bath salesman recently separated from his fed up wife, is taking his son Zach out for a bit of shopping. After waving masculine gifts infront of his face, Zach decides to go for Mr. Stuffins instead. The rest of the issue is focused on Zach as he discovers his teddy’s unique skill set and gets frustrated with his lack of singing and bed-time story telling abilities. After all, that’s what the box promised! It’s like a premise of a classic 1980s film that was never made.

I could hear Mr. Stuffin’s gruff, take charge voice every time he spoke. He ties up a lifeless pink bunny for interrogation, beats up school bullies and mocks Zach’s parents. Yet he’s a loveable rascal. While elements of Buzz Lightyear and the 1998 film Small Soldiers may be apparent to some, this is still a refreshing concept. Zack is old enough to know that a teddy bear with military skills is not normal, yet young enough to just accept him as a new, though reluctant, friend.

I can see why this was a sell-out when it first appeared, and now that it’s returned with new art by Axel Medellin, it will surely garner new fans. Medellin draws with great expression. His figure work is simple, yet fluid enough and from the moment Mr. Stuffins’ eyes alight and he sits up, fully aware, I was sold on the approach. It has some great pacing and truly witty lines, that I won’t do the disservice of spoiling here. Let’s just say that I haven’t been entertained with cuddly toys for many years, yet I now want a Mr. Stuffins for Christmas.

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Get Wired

Caped Crusader Part 2The tech-mag Wired appears to be ramping up its comic book cool factor lately. You can check out an interview with Neil Gaiman on his delayed conclusion to the Batman’s farewell, Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader? Now, the interviewer describes these final two Batman-centric issues of Detective Comics as “hilarious” for some odd reason, but then again Gaiman’s issues, which either discard or embrace continuity, depending on your point of view, are somewhat intriguing. They’re also slightly maddening as a send off to the legendary man in the cowl. The interview is worth a read though, as Gaiman discusses Alan Moore, the Watchmen and Sandman films, and more.

Also, you can read an interesting piece in the latest issue of Wired, by guest editor J.J. Abrams about his frustration over the internet hating his attempted 2002 Superman script (the one where Krypton doesn’t explode, Lex Luthor is a Kryptonian and Jimmy Olsen is gay). Um…yeah, there’s many reason why fandom didn’t embrace your script, Mr. Abrams.

Viking #1 Review

Viking #1This is a big comic in every way. It’s hard to imagine any other publisher than Image stamping this on the stands. I get the feeling that Viking, the self described, “9th century crime book” is going to be one of those series that people will be hungry for. Like Scalped, or Incognito, Viking is a series that seems to come from left of centre, yet is filled with a dominant sway that will topple the spandex adventures beside it. If you have any doubt about the entertainment value of a series by two virtually unknown creators that has no spandex inside it, such uncertainity will be pulverised to nothingness after turning the last page.

So, Viking is a big comic. Big in concept and big in production. What Image craftily kept to themselves was the size of this bad boy. It stands out from its funnybook brethren. Viking is slightly larger than the avergae monthly; not by much, but just enough to be noticeable. It’s a great surprise and I can foresee many readers like me, who ordered this book based on the preview art alone, having this thump down on the counter from their pull box, and being genuinely taken aback. Thank you Image – seeing this for the first time was a pleasant surprise. And more than that, thank you for the contents within the larger pages. It lives up to the time and effort that’s been put into it. Of course, better paper and a laregr size mean nothing if the story within is a waste. Thankfully, it’s not. Writer Ivan Brandon and artist Nic Klein have declared themselves to be true talents with this book.

vikingpreview4Now, granted this story isn’t going to be welcomed into the bosom of every fanboy. It’s old-timey dialogue and instantly detestable protagonists will throw some people off, but it is a simple narrative and engaging to boot. Two criminal brothers, Finn and Egil are thieves, killing and selling the goods of their victims. They’re tough guys, but with a love for their family. Between their last raid and their next, they face retribution of a swift and terrible kind, which lays the ground for the next issue well. Interspersed is a nice sequence involving a rich king and his lovely, carefree daughter. She desires adventure, and I’m sure when her path crosses with the brothers, that’s surely what she’ll find.

This issue has just sold out, but Image are rushing a second printing, for release on May 6. Issue 2 is out on June 13. Once you cast your peepers on the art, you’ll understand why. Nic Klein’s work deserves the larger format, and as Ivan Brandon mentions in his afterword, Klein solidified what Viking was and brought it to a new place. Klein’s artwork is rustic, and dirty and filled with blood and grime. Yet it all looks very beautiful. At times it resembles the large-dot style of the Golden Age and other times he turns his attention to a particular panel and paints it splendidly. It’s not a mish-mash of techniques, and it all blends well, thanks to his restrained layouts and colour choices.

Some may find the conversations hard to follow at times, and despite its fairly straight forward narrative, you will need to concentrate when reading it. It’s such a pleasure to actually hold in your hands though, and even if the story isn’t for you, the artistic approach must be admired.

Preview pics of #2 below.

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