Horror Vigil

Asylum of Horror #2Now I can’t say I’m a huge fan of horror comics, but I do like a good horror film every now and then. I’m somewhat familiar with Frank Forte’s Asylum Press however, and their horror output. Below is a press release about the second issue of their horror anthology, plus the synopsis of the ish, and some pics from the issue itself. Be warned however, the issue is for mature readers and you can preview more pages here. Asylum of Horrors #2 is a 64 pager that launches in September.

 

TIM VIGIL JOINS ASYLUM OF HORRORS

Asylum of Horrors #2 features new Tim Vigil work

 

 

Asylum Press announces that Asylum of Horrors #2 will contain a new story from iconic horror artist/writer Tim Vigil.  Vigil brings his highly stylized voice to a post apocalyptic wasteland in “Survival Extinction Z”.  Asylum of Horrors #2 (DIAMOND: JUL090699) can be previewed at here. Vigil’s story will be a 3 part series that will be continued in subsequent issues of Asylum of Horrors. The second issue of Asylum of Horrors will also include stories from Frank Forte, Szymon Kudranski, Billy George, Darren Sellars, Patrick Shanahan, Nenad Gucunja,and Marcin Ponomarew.

 

Tim Vigil burst into the comic book scene with co creator David Quinn in the early nineties with the creation of the horror comic “Faust”.  Detailed artwork and Vigil’s over the top story line captured comics fans interest and held it tight for the better part of a decade. Vigil has gone on to work with Avatar Press, Glenn Danzig and many others.   “Nominated for awards, works published all over the world, Tim is a god,” explained Asylum Press Publisher Frank Forte.  “You say the word Faust to any comic horror fan and they smile.”


Synopsis: The inmates at the ASYLUM continue with a new breed of horror.  This anthology features “Jacked In” by Frank Forte where a programmer gets double crossed by a greedy girlfriend and he gets his sweet revenge.  Part 1 of Tim Vigil’s new “Survival Extinction Z” a post apocalyptic horror tale.  Part 2 of “Ruined Earth”, Billy George’s tale of giant worms and armageddon. In “Ecce Homo” by Darren Sellars and Patrick Shanahan, a race of creatures, almost machine-like in their brutal efficiency break free from the confines of a two-dimensional world and begin a relentless assault, wiping any and all resistance from its path. In “ Transformation” by Marcin Ponomarew,  a desperate man takes an injection. In ”The Connection” a mad doctor tries to find the source of another voice inside his head, by Forte. Another tale of The Doctor and Boris and the horrid inmates.  A great collection of disturbing tales for the discerning horror fan. Cover by Aly Fell.

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Selling Webcomic Merchandise

God Is Cute!How does it work exactly, and what’s the best way to go about it? Using James (American Elf) Kochalka’s God Is Cute! t-shirt (and He is) as the example, Joey Manley from the Comic Space blog is conducting  a month long experiment on how to produce revenue from merchandise.

It’s a pretty insightful read and worth your time if you’re currently a web comic-er or would like to be, with its comparisons between Google AdSense, Facebook and Project Wonderful. Go here for the first post, and follow the rest here.

Superman/Batman In September

Up next from DC’s awesome animated movies is Green Lantern: First Flight, which comes out next month. Then only a few weeks after that we get the previously announced Superman/Batman: Public Enemies DVD, based on Jeph Loeb’s and Ed McGuiness’ first 6 issues of the ongoing series. There’s also an interesting behind-the-scenes feature about the film here.

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Logo


SUPERMAN/BATMAN: PUBLIC ENEMIES FROM WARNER HOME VIDEO ON SEPT. 29, 2009

The World’s Greatest Super Heroes become America’s most wanted criminals – and are hunted by friends and foes alike – in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, the sixth entry in the popular DVD series of DC Universe Animated Original PG-13 Movies. A co-production of Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation, the full-length animated film will be distributed by Warner Home Video on September 29, 2009.Superman/Batman: Public Enemies will be available as a Special Edition 2-disc version on DVD and Blu-Ray Hi-Def for US$24.98 (SRP) and US$29.99 (SRP), respectively, as well as single disc DVD for US$19.98 (SRP) and On Demand. Order due date for all versions is August 25, 2009.

Public Enemies SupermanSuperman/Batman: Public Enemies is based on the popular Jeph Loeb/Ed McGuinness comic series/graphic novel. Animation legend Bruce Timm (Superman Doomsday, Green Lantern) is executive producer. Michael Goguen (Justice League: The New Frontier) is supervising producer. Sam Liu (The Batman) is directing a script written by Stan Berkowitz (Justice League: The New Frontier).

In the film, United States President Lex Luthor uses the oncoming trajectory of a Kryptonite asteroid to frame Superman and declare a $1 billion bounty on the heads of the Man of Steel and his “partner in crime,” Batman. Heroes and villains alike launch a relentless pursuit of Superman and Batman, who must unite – and recruit help – to stave off the action-packed onslaught, stop the asteroid, and uncover Luthor’s devious plot to take command of far more than North America.

Public Enemies BatmanThe movie reunites the lead voices of Superman, Batman and Lex Luthor from the landmark Superman: The Animated Series and Batman: The Animated Series. Tim Daly (Private Practice), Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League) and Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption) reprise their roles as Superman, Batman and Lex Luthor, respectively.

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies – 2 Disc Special Edition version will have more than three hours of incredible bonus features, including:

Featurettes:
The Blackest Night: Inside the DC Comics Event: Behind-the-scenes of BLACKEST NIGHT, the epic DC Super Hero event in which the dead shall rise.

A Test of Minds: Superman and Batman featurette with Jeph Loeb, giving viewers a fresh and revitalized look at the team-up of Superman and Batman working together despite their often competitive and challenging relationship.

“Dinner with DC: With Special Guest Kevin Conroy”: Reprising his role from Batman: The Animated Series, Kevin Conroy joins the crew for dinner to discuss their creative approach and what the Superman/Batman team-up means. The evening will be hosted by Voice Director Andrea Romano, Producer Bruce Timm and DC’s Gregory Noveck.

Extended Sneak Peak at Next DCU Film.

Digital Copy Download.

Widescreen (1.78:1)

Two Episodes of Justice League Unlimited hand-picked by animation legend Bruce Timm.

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Blu-Ray versions will have more than three-and-a-half hours of bonus materials, including all the great extras from the 2-disc Special Edition as well as two additional episodes of Justice League Unlimited and two episodes from Justice League, both personally selected by fan-favorite Bruce Timm.

Michael Jackson Tribute Comic

Darren G. Davis at Bluewater Productions knows when he’s on a good thing. His weekly blog (though it hasn’t been lately) is always painfully honest about the workings of the comics industry and the frustrations he feels as an indie publisher. Branching out to make comics based on Oprah Winfrey, Princess Diana, Barack Obama, and even his dog Bo has garnered him some mainstream attention though, and he keeps churning them out, as this quick release reveals.

TRIBUTE: MICHAEL JACKSON, KING OF POP COMIC BOOK OFFERS LASTING REMEMBRANCE FOR FANS FROM BLUEWATER

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To millions he was the King of Pop; one of the world’s most cherished entertainers and a celebrated international icon. With his untimely passing, Michael Jackson left an extraordinary and tragic legacy. Bluewater Productions is paying tribute in October to his memory and legacy with a special collectors edition biography comic.

The newest addition to the publisher’s critically acclaimed biography library will trace Jackson’s rise as a musical prodigy with the “Jackson 5” through last Thursdays sad end. The book will feature highlights from his storied career and cover his enigmatic private life.

“Michael Jackson’s music served as the soundtrack to countless lives…including mine,” said Bluewater president Darren G. Davis, “His influence on our culture has been profound.”

“TRIBUTE: Michael Jackson, King of Pop,” features a wraparound cover and foreword by “The Official Michael Jackson Fan Club’s” Giuseppe Mazzola. Mazzola was also Jackson’s personal friend.  The issue is being written by Wey-Yuih Loh, (Political Power: Colin Powell” and “Political Power: Joe Biden) and illustrated by Giovanni Timpano (Vincent Price Presents). Noted cover artist Vinnie Tartamella will also provide an alternate wraparound cover.

“This is a celebration of his life and what he meant to a legion of fans,” Davis said. “Although the book won’t shy away from some of his personal troubles, we try to tell a balanced story that shows Jackson as a musical genius, an unparalleled superstar and as a complex person.”  

Michael Jackson Comic ADavis noted that he initially waffled at producing a tribute comic, but after receiving dozens of emails and phone calls he knew it was the proper way to show respect and give fans a lasting remembrance.

In recent months, Bluewater has become one of the leading producers of biography comics. Launched earlier this year, Bluewater’s “Female Force” has featured influential women such as Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Princess Diana, Sarah Palin and Oprah Winfrey. A follow-up series, “Political Power” launching in July is set to turn the spotlight on politicians like Colin Powell, Barack Obama, and Al Gore.

Bluewater’s biography titles have drawn considerable media attention, including features on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and “Live with Regis and Kelly.” It has also been featured in such periodicals as People Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, USA Today and thousands of blogs and other media outlets.

To find a comic book store near you, go to the comic shop locator, www.comicshoplocator.com. “Female Force” books are also available on Amazon.com, where they have been ranked among the site’s top 300 books.

Abstract Comics: The Anthology Review

Abstract Comics CoverAbstract Comics: The Anthology is an impressive collection of old and new work with unique pages covering exactly what the title says. Fantagraphics’ bold book covers the years from 1967 to the present, with a selection of abstract comics from over 40 artists.

Now I think I’m a pretty open comics reader. Having primarily grown up on superheroes however, it’s only been the last 5 years that I’ve expanded my reading habits to include indie titles. It was Craig Thompson’s masterwork, Blankets that woke me up to the world beyond spandex and ever since then I’ve pretty much bought an indie title every week.

Abstract comics is a foreign concept to me though. I’m surprised that I’ve never thought of the genre before. It makes complete sense and after pouring through this hardcover from Fantagraphics I have a greater understanding and appreciation for the form. This intriguing 208 page tome includes some of the best work from pioneers in the field, as well as new work created for the anthology by artists including James Kochalka.

The introduction of the book is the only piece with words strung together that actually form an obviously coherent thought. Andrei Molotiu is the editor of Abstract Comics, and quite an authority on the subject. His work as an artist is reflected here and his introductory summary of what abstract comics actually are, as opposed to the use of the word in other art forms, is insightful. Even this obligatory introduction is treated with a loose abstract veneer, with plain text comprising the bottom half of each page, while above it sits the same words through the lens of simple shapes, which reminded me of the Kryptonese language. Yes, even with abstract comics, I can’t help but see things through my fanboy glasses. (There’s also a look at the history of abstract comics here). Molotiu defines the term thusly;

abstract comics can be defined as sequential art consisting exclusively of abstract imagery, and indeed most of the pieces in this volume fit that definition squarely. But the definition should be expanded somewhat, to include those comics that contain some representational elements, as long as those elements do not cohere into a narrative or even into a unified narrative space.

Whew. It’s the kind of talk that gets art students all sweaty. His 8 page introduction is littered with great work as he shows us the history of abstract comics, with examples of a bunch of artists unfamiliar to me to those who I didn’t expect to see, such as Wassily Kandinsky, Willem de Kooning, Winsor McCay and Steve Ditko.

Abstract Comics Intro DetailThings kick off with a great piece from 1967 by R. Crumb, as originally seen in Zap #1. As you’d expect, it’s only 3 pages, but packs a lot of zest, with rounded figures, cheeky expressions and wild imagery. For the next 200 plus pages I was bombarded (in a good way) with every form and technique imaginable. I never knew what each turn of the page would bring. Black and white, pencil sketches,  colour paintings and more – it’s all accounted for. Most of the works are only 3 or 4 pages long, with little or no text and some semblance of structured panels. I found myself treating the book like a portable art gallery as I let the images wash over me and tried to grasp their meaning. With close looks, there are stories of sorts to be told here, but as Molotiu mentions in the intro, abstract comics don’t have a narrative. I couldn’t help myself though and on some occasions examined the shapes in an attempt to form one. However, like all art the point is the enjoyment of the work first and foremost, rather than a desperation to cram it through out structured reasoning.

getsiv-6Molotiu’s work, The Cave was definitely a “wow” moment for me with its bold colours and gem like qualities, as was Andres Pearson’s work, with its swirling organic structures. Through some pages I could see how the panels, or the shapes within those panels, related to each other, which gave clarity to Molotiu’s introductory definition as to why this is different from abstract work done in other fields, such as cinema. James Kochalka’s (American Elf) work is exuberant and playful, as is Mike Getsiv’s. Blaise Larmee’s I Would Like To Live There is simple yet elegant while Life, Interwoven by Alexey Sokolin is 6 pages of increasing fury.

It’s hard to describe the experience of reading this anthology, but it must have been that much harder to choose the artists whose work would be shown here, especially considering this is the first book of its kind and it covers 4 decades. Book designer Jacob Covey must also be mentioned as there’s an undeniable sense of purpose that holds these pages together, from the cover to artists’ credits to last few pages. It’s subtle which allows the abstract comics to own the spotlight.

The book concludes with handy artist biographies for those that would like to discover more about them, and there’s also a useful accompanying blog which features work from the anthology and elsewhere.

I’ll admit that it was sheer curiosity that made me read this, and after enjoying its diverse offerings it brought me back to my art school days when I was exposed to a wide array of artists. It’s obviously a difficult book to review as well, especially as there’s no Good Guy A punches Bad Guy B action, but it was a treat for my often superhero consuming eyes. This is a book for readers who like fine art or those who would like to expand their sequential art experiences. A hearty slap on the back for Fantagraphics for choosing to create this marvelous example of a widely unknown artistic expression.

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Abstract Comics Preview 2

Abstract Comics Preview 3

White Is The New Black

IGN has launched a mini-site dedicated to DC’s Green Lantern event, Blackest Night. The main villain of Geoff John’s epic is Black Hand, who is actually a white guy called William Hand.

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That got me thinking, after watching a recent DVD purchase. I grew up watching Super Friends, and then Super Powers, so nostalgia led me to Amazon. On the Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show DVD there’s a neato feature on the ethnicity of the new characters they introduced. That would be Samurai, El Dorado, Apache Chief and Black Vulcan. They were all original characters created for the cartoon series and were unfortunately quite stereotypical.

There’s a lot of African, or African-American comic characters who have the word Black in their name. Black Panther, Black Lightning, Black Manta and many more. On the flip side of the coin, there’s also many characters who have colours in their names that aren’t related to their race. Green (Lantern, Arrow), Blue (Beetle) and Crimson (Dynamo) are just a few examples. However, there’s not many Black-named characters who aren’t black. I can only think of three – Black Hand and Marvel’s Black Bolt, and Black Tom Cassidy. Come to think of it comics’ first well known character, Yellow Kid was Caucasian, so perhaps there’s some historical reasoning. I’m not trying to make a statement, but as evidenced by this DC Comics survey from 1970 asking if readers would be interested in stories about “black people,”  comics really are a reflection of their times, for better or worse. Oh, and thanks to Brain Cronin (who I interviewed here) for pointing the survey out in his latest Comic Book Legends Revealed column. Actually I can’t remember the last time a Black-named character was created. Those that do exist were created in more un-PC days. It’s just an interesting thought.

Irredeemable #4 Review

Irredeemable #4There’s a real weight behind this title thanks to the power of the name behind it. I grew up on many Mark Waid written comics. He was one of the creators that cemented my love for sequential art, and primarily superheroes. I can picture Waid typing away at the keyboard with an evil cackle, twirling his moustache and then perhaps tying a damsel to the closest railway tracks while he creates this series. Irredeemable is the product of Bizarro Waid.

With a handy catch up page here, newcomers can understand what’s gone before. However, the summary can’t contain the emotional wallop that Waid and artist Peter Krause have created in the previous issues. If you are new to this title, grab the TPB in August, which is even more tempting as it’s only $9.99.

Basically however, The Plutonian is earth’s greatest superhero, or rather, he was. Now he’s joined the dark side and is fed up with humanity, which is entirely understandable really. We all get that way at times, while suffering fools in our daily lives. However, we don’t have superpowers and the best of us will often show our contempt with a stern word or a rolling of the eyes. Imagine if we had superpowers and then hrew a tantrum. Then things would get real ugly, real quick.

The Plutonian’s former team-mates of super group, The Paradigm are desperately trying to find clues from their ex-friend’s past, in order to discover his weakness. It’s a race against time and they are only making small steps towards an uncertain victory. In this issue, The Plutonian continues his world-wide rampage and in a great scene at the United Nations, shows the world that it is unwise to unite against him, or to lie to him. Singapore suffers tragically at his hands while other countries can only hope to appease his wrath by offering him sovereignty over their people.

Waid’s timing and Krause’s emotional renditions work well together, to reveal the human face of devastation, and the sheer desperation of The Paradigm who show what true heroism really is. However, I feel an urge to know more about The Plutonian’s turning. So far only hints have been given, and there are no real further clues in this fourth issue. We can’t be expected to feel any kind of sympathy for The Plutonian, but a greater level of understanding is due. Rooting for The Paradigm is mandatory, but The Plutonian, while scary due to a lack of humanity also lacks any motivation for evil so far. He’s the bad guy because of what he does, but we still have no concrete idea as to why. The Paradigm apparently know very little about The Plutonian, and perhaps will come to question their trust over the years of a man, or super man, they knew little about.

In this issue is also an 8 page preview of Poe, which launches in July. Written by J. Barton Mitchell, with gloomy art by Dean Kotz it shows famous scribe Edgar Allan Poe as a widower in a mental health facility, facing nightmares about a dead girl, while his brother tries his best to help him. It’s a pretty good intro to the series and looks gothic enough in its approach.