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    TFAW Presents: An Exclusive Interview With Darby Pop CEO Jeff Kline

    If the name Darby Pop doesn’t sound familiar to you, don’t feel bad — for years, the company partnered with IDW and then Magnetic Press to get its books to market. However, thanks to the success of comics like Indestructible and Side-Kicked, Darby Pop is ready to fly solo. In an unprecedented move, Darby Pop is breaking away from IDW and selling its books directly.

    Jeff Kline

    To celebrate this momentous occasion, we interviewed Jeff Kline, the esteemed CEO of Darby Pop. Even if his name isn’t familiar, you’re likely familiar with Kline’s work, which includes Transformers: Prime, Jackie Chan Adventures, Extreme Ghostbusters, and much more!

    Read on for an in-depth look at the origins of Darby Pop, the trials and tribulations of the comic industry, and a glimpse into the life of Jeff Kline.

    TFAW.com: For our readers who may not know about you and your company, tell us a bit about yourself and Darby Pop.

    Transformers Prime

    Jeff Kline: I’ve been a writer/showrunner in TV for more than two decades. Although I’ve worked extensively in both live-action and animation over the years, my cartoon series – i.e. Transformers: Prime, Jackie Chan Adventures, Men in Black: The Animated Series, etc. – tend to stay on-air much longer than my live-action ones. Much to my Mother’s dismay (‘cuz, apparently, bragging rights at the salon are limited when a son’s output airs in the daytime vs. nighttime). Anyway…

    When my daughter, Darby – yes, that’s where the name of the company comes from – turned five, my Wife and I opted to leave Los Angeles and move to New England. For the better part of the next six years, I commuted between the coasts every 7-10 days to develop/produce the last three Transformers series, G.I. Joe Renegades and some other bits and pieces for Hasbro. But when my Wife finally grew tired of idling in front of airports, I moved “home” fulltime.

    Simultaneously, and as a lifelong comics fan, I had been considering self-publishing a book (which eventually became Indestructible), and made the mistake of telling others re: my plans. Immediately, I learned that a whole bunch of my writer and artist friends in L.A. also dreamed of making comics. Which may strike some as strange, since many people use comics as a stepping-stone to movies/TV. But, the truth is, it can be very hard to “break into” the comics industry even if you have substantial credits in other art forms. Long story short, I decided to revise my plans, and create an entry point for friends, old and new, who are as passionate about sequential storytelling as I am. And Darby Pop Publishing, Inc. was born.

    We partnered with IDW Publishing for distribution, becoming their first creator-owned imprint (I believe). Announced our intentions at SDCC ’13. Dropped our first floppy (Indestructible #1) in December ‘13. And have released some 70+ separate issues/trades in the ensuing three and a half years.

    “Both IDW and Magnetic proved invaluable insofar as both expertise and credibility were concerned.”

    Indestructable

    TFAW.com: Speaking of IDW, why did you choose now to separate from them?

    JK: Actually, we spent about two years with IDW, and then moved our distribution over to Magnetic Press. We were always wholly independent when it came to editorial, but with my experience with the business side of the comic book industry being limited to purchasing floppies from spinner racks, I really didn’t want to fly solo at the start. Both IDW and Magnetic proved invaluable insofar as both expertise and credibility were concerned. But, when Magnetic became part of Lion Forge, I realized that Darby Pop now had a team in place that had been together for a few years – Renae Geerlings, Managing Editor; Kristine Chester, Director of Marketing; Michael Berreth, VP of Promotions, etc. – and deserved the opportunity to go it alone. (Well… with the help of Diamond, of course).

    TFAW.com: A new start is going to bring a lot of new fans who want to check out your books. If someone wanted to check out Darby Pop, where would you recommend they start?

    JK: Start with our website: www.darbypop.com. There you’ll find information re: all our titles to-date and those “coming soon.” There are also “talent” bios, random musings, our webstore, a brief manifesto, submissions policy, etc. etc.

    After that, read Issue #1 of whichever book sounds the most interesting to you. If you hate it, you’re probably not going to like most of the other stuff we publish… ‘cuz while we cover a lot of ground when it comes to genre and art style, there is a unifying aesthetic – built largely around the triumvirate of high-concept, surprising, and fun.

    If you like what you read, then please dig deeper. Visit our Facebook (facebook.com/DarbyPopPublishing), Twitter (@DarbyPopComics), and Instagram (@DarbyPop). Then ask your local retailer to order you one or many of our books. And come see us at any of the 20 or so Cons we set-up at each year (ECCC, C2E2, NYCC, to name a few). Honestly, we like the whole face-to-face thing best, but we understand that not everyone wants my teenage daughter screaming at ‘em: “Hey, YOU in the Deadpool t-shirt… what’re you reading???”

    “I truly believe every one of our books is well-crafted, well-produced, and well worth your time/money.”

    TFAW.com: Who knows, that just may work! You’ve mentioned this a few times before that the comics industry is definitely a challenging one. What’s the single most challenging thing about the comics industry you’ve discovered?

    JK: I think, for us, the most challenging aspect of the comic book industry is “selling” to two different markets simultaneously. On the one hand, we need to convince comic book retailers to take a chance on us… to stock us even though they might well be dealing with limited resources and even more limited shelf space. On the other hand, we’re desperately trying to reach out directly to readers; if they don’t go their local store and ask for one of Darby Pop’s titles (or order same on Amazon or through ComiXology, etc.), it’s nearly impossible for us to compete with the established players and their well-known franchises.

    Bottom line: we’re a small company with limited resources. I truly believe every one of our books is well-crafted, well-produced, and well worth your time/money. But, chances are pretty good that even some of the folks reading this interview have never heard of Darby Pop Publishing or any of our titles, so…

    Indestructable

    TFAW.com: Hopefully we’re able to help spread the word to our customers, as we definitely think your comics are worth reading! You mentioned earlier that you’ve worked on numerous Hasbro properties, including being executive producer on the Emmy Award-winning Transformers: Prime. How has your experience in that industry helped you in the comic industry?

    JK: Storytelling in television and storytelling in comics is often strikingly similar. In both, you’re planning for long-term and short-term story arcs simultaneously… the characters are the bedrock… and the visuals need to work in conjunction with the whole. And being a showrunner in animated TV definitely gave me a leg up for my work as an editor in comics: reworking scripts, collaborating with artists, making choices re: color palette and graphic design, even plotting marketing initiatives.

    TFAW.com: What advice can you give to other independent publishers who are trying to make it in the comic industry?

    JK: The comics industry is incredibly challenging. As I mentioned, there are some very big, very established players hogging the ball. And having a great idea, or even great execution, isn’t enough; you have to find a way/ways to get your work into the hands of those who can and will appreciate it. In my experience – and in comparing notes with other creators/publishers/professionals – you have to be prepared to put in A LOT of unpaid hours, and pay a lot of bills with your own credit card. Honestly, if comics isn’t something you’re very passionate about, there are probably better, “safer” ways to scratch a creative itch.

    ““Breaking Into Comics” is a very important initiative to me…”

    Side-Kicked Vol 1

    TFAW.com: One thing you and your company have committed themselves to is helping others break into the industry, such as frequently running contests with the objective of getting undiscovered writers and artists noticed. Has there been any major successes, i.e. someone who won and went on to work in the industry in a larger capacity?

    JK: We’ve run three of our “Breaking Into Comics” contests thusfar; the labors of our most recent winners will be featured in the expanded, reprint edition of the Side-Kicked TPB (Vol. 1.5) we’re dropping in July. (The first print run of the Side-Kicked TPB has completely sold out).

    “Breaking Into Comics” is a very important initiative to me because I was fortunate enough to have a couple of insanely supportive mentors when I was beginning my TV career, and I firmly believe in paying same forward. While the barrier to entry in comics is low, the barrier to distribution is high. So, if Darby Pop can help some deserving but (relatively) unknown talent get a bit of national or international exposure…

    As far as a “success” story: Jeff Marsick won our first “Breaking Into Comics” contest with his script for the Indestructible: Stingray one-shot we published. And we liked working with Jeff so much, we published the trade paperback of his next effort, Dead Man’s Party. And we currently have him working on something else for us right this minute.

    TFAW.com: Let’s say the field is open for you to work with anyone. Who is the one writer and artist you’d love to work with at Darby Pop?

    JK: There is no one writer and/or artist I’m dying to work with. We strive to partner with anyone who’s passionate… who believes in the value of collaboration… and who won’t drive Renae Geerlings absolutely insane when it comes to hitting a delivery schedule.

    “…if Simon Pegg and Nick Frost would consider reuniting for Indestructible… my Mother might finally be satisfied.”

    TFAW.com: Let’s dig a bit into Jeff Kline. Outside of Darby Pop comics, what are you currently reading?

    JK: When I’m not reading comics, I’m pretty obsessed with biographies. (No, I’m not sure why). Right now, I’m listening to the David Letterman bio in my car while I read Michael Nesmith’s (of the Monkees) autobiography late at night.

    The Adventures of Martin and Lewis

    TFAW.com: If there is one cancelled comic series that you could bring back (from any publisher) what would it be and why?

    JK: Dean Martin is my idol; has been (I’ve been told) since I was a little kid wandering around our micro-townhouse in a bathrobe singing “Everybody Loves Somebody.” So, if DC was willing to trust Darby Pop with the license to “The Adventures of Martin and Lewis…” (Are you listening, DC?)

    TFAW.com: Comic book movies are huge at the moment. Which Darby Pop title would translate best to a film and who is your dream cast?

    JK: I truly believe that any/all of our titles would – and should be – translated to movies and/or TV. But, from a wholly selfish perspective, if Simon Pegg and Nick Frost would consider reuniting for Indestructible… my Mother might finally be satisfied.
    (And since the Deluxe reprint edition of the sold-out Indestructible: Not So Much… Vol. 1 Trade Paperback also drops in July it would be pretty painless for ‘em both to get up to speed…)

    TFAW.com: Pegg, Frost, and Indestructible sounds like a recipe for success! We’re excited for the future of Darby Pop and we know you’ve got a lot of great things on the horizon. Any good teasers that will get our readers excited?

    JK: In August we’re dropping a sci-fi/horror TP titled Things You Shouldn’t Remember. In brief: random people across the U.S. suddenly recall random things – song lyrics, events, minute details – that seem to have been erased from both collective memory and recorded history. Unfortunately, those same people start turning up dead.

    In September, we release Bastard’s Waltz, a gritty thriller about an aging supervillain and the young Secret Service Agent assigned to protect him. As with all of our titles, Bastard’s Waltz both honors and reimagines some classic comic book tropes. And, from an art perspective, it looks like nothing else we’ve published to-date.

    Bottom line: Darby Pop Publishing is a labor of love, not just for me but for nearly everyone who’s chosen to work with us. We aren’t the biggest. We probably aren’t the best. But, I do promise that we care deeply about every, single thing we put our name on. Mostly ‘cuz I can’t be slapping my daughter’s moniker on just ANYTHING. I mean, I’m not a Kardashian.

    TFAW.com: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Jeff!

    Do you want to check out Darby Pop’s comics? Check out our selection and let us know what you think!

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    Swordquest: A Promise Delayed

    A Promise Delayed - Swordquest

    In the 1980s, video game giant Atari announced a new series: Swordquest. Tod Frye, the designer of 1979’s Adventure, would act as the designer for this new franchise. In each of the four Swordquest games, players would help twins Tarra and Torr defeat the evil Tyrannous and reclaim powerful artifacts. However, Swordquest had a unique twist: players would also compete in the real world for treasures based on the in-game artifacts. These treasures were the “Talisman of Penultimate Truth,” the “Chalice of Light,” the “Crown of Life,” the “Philosopher’s Stone,” and the ultimate prize, “The Sword of Ultimate Sorcery.” The trophies were solid gold and encrusted with diamonds and gems, and reports claim that the items had a combined value of $150,000. Individually, the estimated value of each item was $25,000.

    Swordquest: An Adventure On Two Fronts

    In 1982, Atari was the subsidiary of Warner Communication, which also owned DC Comics and Franklin Mint. DC created the comics to accompany each of the four video games while Franklin Mint created the treasure.

    Each game featured a number of clues hidden deep within them. After finding these hidden clues in the game, the players would go to corresponding pages in the accompanying comic book to find words hidden in the images. Then, they would create phrases based upon these words. After finding the correct answers, players would mail the multi-medium puzzles directly to Atari. Atari invited each winner to their headquarters to compete in a one-day tournament, with the winner receiving a glittering prize. The popularity of the contest caused Atari to quickly change the plans of at least one contest. Fireworld sold 500,000 copies and resulted in so many winners, Atari had to devise an additional essay writing portion to whittle down contestants for the final tournament.

    Atari Swordquest Prize Ad

    Advertisements went out with pictures of the five bejeweled items. The games saw release in sequential order: Earthworld, Fireworld, Waterworld, and Airworld, with each game having its own contest. However, before the completion of Airworld, Atari found themselves sold. As a result, the competition was also canceled.

    The Winners (That We Know Of)

    Steven Bell won the talisman in 1983 at a tournament in California. In 1984, Michael Rideout won the chalice after the unexpectedly large response to the Fireworld release. Atari historian, Curt Vendel, reports that the Waterworld crown went to a secret winner after the game saw a limited release. The sword was the grand prize in a final tournament between the four winners of the four previous tournaments; however, as there was no final tournament, the sword was never handed out. Bell and Rideout, and perhaps the mysterious winner of Waterworld, received $15,000 payouts as a consolation for no longer being in the running for the final contest.

    The Jack Tramiel Mystery


    Trammel bought Atari in 1984 during a slump in the gaming industry. Tramiel, a Polish immigrant, and survivor of Auschwitz, began as a typewriter repairman before founding Commodore International, which created the Commodore 64. In 1984, Tramiel was forced out of his own company and bought Atari. After purchasing the company, Tramiel shifted the focus of Atari from bottom line spending to marketing. He wanted the company to compete, but the move was not popular and Tramiel was not beloved by Atari fans. He also, some employees have said, hung The Sword of Ultimate Sorcery in his office, a prize he had not earned. Tramiel passed away in 2012 and rumors of his possession of the sword resurfaced; however, no one has laid eyes on the sword since the last Swordquest tournament in the ‘80s.

    What Happened to the Sword and Stone?

    What truly happened to the philosopher’s stone and the sword? No one seems to know. Fans still cling to the long-standing theory that Jack Tramiel claimed the sword for himself upon acquiring Atari.

    Vendel has stated that this rumor is unfounded. The historian claims that Franklin Mint melted down the sword and crown after the cancellation of the competition in ’84.

    Micheal Rideout gave interviews claiming that he saw the philosopher’s stone and the sword when he went to compete at the Atari headquarters in California, which counters some claims that the final prizes were never made. Rideout also states that Stephen Bell melted down the talisman for cash at some point after the 1983 contest.

    Dynamite Comics Presents a New Spin On This Classic Mystery

    Fans continue to hold out hope that the philosopher’s stone and sword are out there, waiting to find an owner.

    This fan theory led to the creation of the new Swordquest comic by Dynamite Comics. The new series is not a fantasy quest starring the robe-draped twins, but is instead a robbery adventure lead by aging geeks. Three friends who strove to win the sword in the ‘80s reunite in the aches, pains, and disappointments of adulthood with one goal: to find and steal the sword. It is a reclaiming of the lost promise Atari made three decades ago. The sword is out there, the characters believe, and they are coming for it. Will they find it? You’ll have to read the comic to find out.

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    I Just Saw and Loved Wonder Woman — Now What?


    Wonder Woman is a success on so many levels.

    Not only is it the first film to have a female superhero in the starring role, it’s now gone on to break the box office record for a film directed by a woman. The film also single-handedly restored viewers’ faith in the DC Cinematic Universe.

    More than that, it’s given women both young and old someone to look up to. Wonder Woman is now the cultural icon she was always meant to be. She’s more than just a hero: She is female empowerment personified and a role model.

    If you’ve left the theater wanting more action, adventure, and excitement from female superheroes, you’re not alone! However, we know that navigating the world of comics is tricky business.

    That’s why at TFAW we’ve come up with 10 wondrous comics and graphic novels that both star female superheroes and act as great jumping-on points for new readers.



    Did you find a new favorite book or want to recommend something we missed? Hit us up on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below!

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    Wonder Woman: A Movement Disguised As A Movie

    Please Note: This article features light spoilers for the Wonder Woman 2017 Feature Film. While we feel that these light spoilers won’t impact your initial viewing of the movie in any way, if you are adverse to spoilers you might want to see the movie first before reading this article.

    Wonder Woman.

    Light spoilers ahead.

    “[Wonder Woman] was like the best unorganized mutual party…”

    I had to think about this but I wanted to talk about the experience we had at the theater last night. I think I’m finally able to put into words the feelings that were running rampant in my mind as I watched the movie and afterwards as I talked with Shawna, my wife. One of the best things about last night, other than the fact that I got to see one of the best super hero movies out there with my wife, was that the crowd watching the movie was amazing.

    Prior to the film starting there was a very strong sense of occasion. There was excitement in the air. People were up & walking about, not content with just sitting to wait for the movie to start. They were talking with neighboring movie-goers, laughing, getting drinks & food, wide-eyed and ready but all of them were in good spirits. It was like the best unorganized mutual party you could fathom.


    The crowd cheered and clapped and hooted and hollered. Especially when Diana made very strong metaphorical references to the cowardice of men in positions of power in the New World. We were all silent when the mood was somber. We all laughed together and with the characters on the screen when the time was right.

    What I can surmise is this; we ALL became involved in a movement that was titled Wonder Woman.

    “…this is a boost we all need to do the right thing.”

    I could feel that in that theater. We could all feel it. Every one of us. It was tangible and it was real. I felt it strongest as the movie unfolded before me and for the first 40 minutes of the movie, I could not stop wiping my eyes. Not because the movie was sad but because of the very real truths Diana and this film brought to us. Not just what her character was saying on screen but what this movie being in theaters worldwide means to people every where.

    If there was a negative thought in my mind last night it was simply to wonder why this film had not been released a decade ago. But then I think, maybe the timing is right. Maybe this is a boost we all need to do the right thing. To be better than the sum of our parts. To carry the weight that others are unable or too weak to carry.


    When Diana tells Steve Trevor and his men “But it’s what I’m going to do.” as she launches herself into the bloody battlefield to bring peace and safety to the poor and downtrodden, I don’t know if there was a dry eye in the theater. Because this is what we need. This is what we should be doing. Standing up for those who are weaker, smaller, lost, confused and war torn.

    Wonder Woman told us to stand.

    And the theater stood.

    As we all should.

    Thank you Gal Gadot. Thank you Patty Jenkins. Thank you Allan Heinberg.

    Thank you for bringing the heart of what a super hero is to the people of the world.

    The views and opinions expressed on this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily represent those of TFAW.com or its affiliates.

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    Babyteeth #2: Raising a Baby Can Be Hell

    Babyteeth #2 picks up right where the first issue ended. To recap, in Babyteeth #1 we met Sadie Ritter, a pregnant sixteen year-old living in SLC. Confused and scared, she hides her pregnancy from everyone except her older sister, Heather. When Sadie goes into labor, her contractions register on the Richter scale….literally. With each contraction comes a massive earthquake.

    “The world trembled as the boy approached, and when he arrived, it cowered like a beaten dog.”

    When her baby is finally delivered, Sadie names him Clark (after Superman). Others will call him by different names. Among them are The King of Ash, Void-Lord, The Antichrist, and The Final Son. Sadie serves as our guide, telling the story in past tense as we’re seeing it unfold in real time (Babyteeth #1 is set to drop on Clark’s actual birthday).

    Babyteeth #2 Review

    In Babyteeth #2, we get to see Sadie’s little family rally around her, even though she refuses to give up Clark’s daddy. Being a single teen mother is tough enough, and out of nowhere, Clark won’t latch, won’t take a bottle, and won’t sleep. Add in that whole Antichrist thing, breaking open barriers between earthly and demonic planes, unleashing eternal suffering on all mankind, and the assassins already hunting baby Clark down to kill him, and Sadie has her hands full.

    It’s the end of the world (as we know it) in Babyteeth #2

    Donny Cates (Redneck, God Country, Ghost Fleet) delivers another brilliant script full of dark humor, terrifying reveals, and tender moments. There’s even a sly nod to Ghost Fleet. Garry Brown (Black Road, John Carter: The End, The Massive) delivers characters that are distinctive and authentic, with a wide range of emotion. Brown’s settings are also on point. From the SLC to a secret board meeting in a bunker, every setting has an idiosyncratic look and feel.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Everything Donny Cates touches right now is red hot. Don’t miss out! The only way to ensure getting your hands on a first print copy of Babyteeth #1 or Babyteeth #2 is by pre-ordering. Save 20% up front with a pre-order, or pay eBay prices later.

    Babyteeth #2, Aftershock Comics, Released July 5, 2017, written by Donny Cates, art by Garry Brown, $3.99

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    The Book Was Better: 30 Days of Night

    In 2002, a three-issue comic book miniseries from IDW lit the horror comic genre on fire. The brilliantly simple premise behind this comic is right in the title: 30 Days of Night. Everyone knows vampires are nigh invulnerable and that their only major weakness is sunlight. However, what would happen if a clutch of vampires were freed from this limitation for an entire month?

    Welcome to Barrow, Alaska, population double digits. North of the Arctic Circle, the sun doesn’t set for thirty days and doesn’t rise again for thirty more. Led by a vampire named Marlow, a pack of vampires descends on Barrow with ruthless aggression. These aren’t the charming, sexy creatures found in some of the modern stories. Not even close. They’re feral monsters, taking immense pleasure in the suffering of their prey.

    30 Days of Night

    Standing between the vampire brood and the surviving residents of the town are Eben Olemaun and his wife Stella. Eben is the town sheriff and is investigating a wave of petty crimes around town prior to the invasion. Weird stuff, but nothing too serious. Dogs and cell phones turning up missing, that kind of thing. When everything hits the fan, these strange occurrences begin to make sense.

    30 Days of Night Doesn’t Feature Your Normal Vampires

    Writer Steve Niles (Criminal Macabre, Disciples, Aleister Arcane) didn’t allow the Olemauns any convenient “outs” when penning the graphic novel. The sun isn’t going to rise in a few hours, so there’s no time for the humans to regroup and plan. Garlic is a joke. Who even thought of that garlic thing? (Ancient Egyptians. I know.) Crosses are ineffective. Shotgun blasts to the face only make the vampires angrier and uglier. The only thing that seems to work is decapitation.

    Steve Niles actually worked on the movie script five years later when Columbia Pictures partnered with Dark Horse Entertainment to bring the story to the silver screen. This lent continuity between the graphic novel source material and the movie. The major plot points remained mostly untouched between the two mediums.

    The Changes Between Movie and Comic Are Minimal

    There are only a few major differences between the graphic novel and the film script. The movie script has omitted two minor subplots. The book had a conspiracy theorist mother/son duo in New Orleans trying to prove the existence of vampires to the world.

    The other omitted subplot had a second vampire leader descend on the town and question the wisdom of a feeding frenzy in a world where vampires had been relegated to folklore. Since no one really believes in vampires, bringing attention to their existence with this feeding frenzy could be suicidal in the long game.

    30 Days of Night

    An obvious difference is that the graphic novel doesn’t really have any other human roles besides Eben, Stella, and The Stranger. The series is so fast paced and brutal in its pacing, there really isn’t any room for extra characters. They aren’t needed to move the story. The movie, needing to fill two hours of screen time, added and developed a few more characters.

    In the 30 Days of Night comic, Eben and Stella are happily married. The movie begins with their relationship being strained almost to the point of divorce. By the end of the film, they come around and realize how much they still love one another. This was likely another pacing issue.

    Ben Templesmith Gives The Comic The Edge

    The most glaring difference between the page and the screen is the overall aesthetic. There is just no way the filmmakers would have been able to match the art by Ben Templesmith (Fell, Criminal Macabre, Silent Hill: Dying Inside). Using an almost trash polka palette (with the addition of deep, dark blues), Templesmith brought a unique blend of surreal images and photorealism that would be impossible to recreate in another medium.

    Clearly, some changes have to be made in order to make a comic book mini series into a feature length film. In this case, having the original writer on the team that penned the movie script meant that those changes were minimal and made sense in context with the source material. The endings of both stories are almost identical. The major plot points weave between both stories almost seamlessly.

    Based solely on the artwork by Ben Templesmith, I’m going to declare the 30 Days of Night comic was better. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the film; there just isn’t any comparison to the imagery in the pages of the graphic novel.

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    Redneck #3: Slap’s dead. Cattle’s dead. BBQ shop’s in ashes.

    In Redneck #1 and #2, we met the Bowman clan, a three-generation clutch of vampires living on the outskirts of a small East Texas town. There is an uneasy sort of truce between the Bowmans and the Landrys, a family in Sulphur Springs that is aware of the Bowmans’ true nature.

    After one of his boys is brutally murdered, JV tries his level best to avoid an all out war with the Landrys. JV locks Seamus and Greg in the basement and sends the brood’s two familiars, Phil and Evil, into town to try to negotiate with Father Landry. Chapter two ends with an armed standoff on the front porch of the Bowman ‘stead.


    Redneck 3 Review

    The only witness to what actually happened the night Slap was killed is Bartlett, and he was too drunk to remember anything. There’s a possibility that one of the clan’s two psychics can root around in his head and find the memories he’s suppressing; however, Perry’s too young, and Bartlett is terrified of Granpa.

    I asked Donny Cates to sum up chapter three for us, and this is what he had to say: “The Bowman boys are unhinged and unleashed, and only JV can stop them. In the meantime, Bartlett must face his darkest fears and have a conversation with the mysterious monster in the attic. Meet Granpa everyone…God help your soul.”

    Bartlett Confronts the One Sonuvabitch That Puts Fear in Other Vampires in Redneck #3

    Redneck continues to deliver a compelling, emotional story about loyalty, family, and coming to terms with the past. Lisandro Estherren’s rough pencils and Dee Cunnife’s muted palette bring Cates’ script to life in a gritty way that is purely East Texas.

    Redneck is one of those stories that you will look back on and wish you had gotten in on the ground floor. Snag copies of these first books while you can.

    THIS BRUTAL SOUTHERN GOTHIC TALE IS A MUST READ

    Find our review of Issues #1 and #2

    Redneck #3, Image Comics, Released June 28th 2017, Written by Donny Cates, Art by Lisandro Estherren, Color by Dee Cunniffe, $3.99

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    10 Free Comic Book Day Books You Need To Pick Up

    Free Comic Book DayEvery year, Free Comic Book Day grows by leaps and bounds. What started as just a few comic companies giving out a handful of comics has transformed into over 15 companies and 50+ comics! With many stores implementing strict limits on just how many books you can pick up, you need to make every choice count.

    Luckily, your friends at TFAW have come through with a list of the 10 comics you need to grab this Free Comic Book Day. Why 10? Because that just happens to be the number of comics we generously give at each of our retail locations.

    If you’re a Portland, Oregon or Los Angeles, Calfornia resident and want to join in on our Free Comic Book Day festivities, check us out on Facebook (Milwaukie , Portland, Beaverton, Universal Citywalk) for all the info you could want about our Free Comic Book Day event, including signing schedules. If you aren’t local, keep an eye on our website as we’re going to offer a sale you won’t want to miss starting on May 6th. Plus every order placed on May 6th will recive a Free Comic Book Day comic at random! (While supplies last)

    Want to visit your Local Comic Shop? Visit ComicShopLocator.com to find your nearest Comic Book Store!

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    Redneck #2: Death and Destruction Have Come To Sulphur Springs

    In Redneck #1, Donny Cates introduced us to the Bowmans, a clutch of vampires that survives on the outskirts of a small Texas town called Sulfur Springs and who own the local barbecue joint. So far, they’ve avoided scrutiny by drinking blood collected from the cattle they slaughter for the restaurant.

    Feedin’ People, Instead Of On People

    Redneck #2 cover
    Cates wastes no time dancing around introductions. By the sixth page, we’ve met most of the Bowman clan. There’s Bartlett, previously human, JV, the patriarch, Seamus, Slap, and Greg, the boys, Perry, the youngest, and Granpa.

    We meet the Landrys later, the only other family in Sulfur Springs who recognize the Bowmans for what they are. A generations-long feud has been simmering, each side waiting for the other to make a move.

    The three brothers head to town against JV’s orders to blow off steam at a local gentleman’s club. Bartlett follows to make sure they don’t get into too much trouble. By the time he catches up, all hell’s about to break loose. Bartlett finds the boys in an alley, about to face off with a group of Father Landry’s kin.

    In the very next scene, Bartlett’s passed out on the front porch of the Bowman homestead covered in blood. He has no recollection of the previous night’s events. Slap is swinging by his neck from a branch, engulfed in flame. The family’s livestock has been slaughtered and left in the sun to rot.

    The Sun’s Setting Soon

    Redneck #2 opens with the Bowmans caring for their dead and contemplating the next move. Traditionally, when a vampire is killed, their brood would ride on the town, “facts and reason be damned. For fear of not killing the right one, (they) would just kill everyone.”

    Shots have been fired. As the sun begins to set, JV has to figure out quickly what he and his family can do to survive. He is a pacifist, but now his wife and son have both been buried. A war is coming to his doorstep, whether he likes it or not.

    This second chapter is absolutely as brilliant as the first. Donny Cates is solidly establishing himself as a heavy hitter in horror comics. Lisandro Estherren’s art sells Cates’ gritty story beautifully. In an exclusive interview with TFAW last month, Cates told us “Lisandro draws ugly things really pretty. That kind of blend of hideous and beautiful, mean and emotional was just perfect for this book.”

    Redneck #1 sold out on its first day of release, so make sure you pick up the second printing that’s hitting comic shops on May 24th.

    Don’t miss out on the opportunity to grab the first printing of Redneck #2. Pre-order your copy today!

    Redneck #2, Skybound/Image Comics, releases May 24, 2017, rated 16+, written by Donny Cates, Art by Lisandro Estherren, color by Dee Cunniffe, $3.99

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    Creator Spotlight: Diana Schutz

    DianaSchulz

    Connect with Diana:

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    A Brief History of Diana Schutz

    Before retiring in 2015, Diana Schutz was a comics editor working with some of the biggest names in the business. For 25 years as an editor at Dark Horse Comics, Schutz helped guide some of the most influential comic creators including Frank Miller, Stan Sakai, Paul Chadwick, Dave Sim, Matt Wagner, Will Eisner and more.

    Her experience in the comics business started in 1978, when she dropped out of philosophy grad school and began working at the Comic Shop in Vancouver, British Columbia. She also  worked on newsletter called The Telegraph Wire and then with Comico before landing at Dark Horse.

    In March 2015, Schutz announced her retirement from Dark Horse. Her mission there was working with artists and writers to shepherd their vision into great comics.  She left to to continue and expand her role teaching about comics. In 2002, she began teaching a Comics Art & Literature course at Portland Community College.

     

    NOTABLE WORKS

    •  comics at TFAW.com
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    •  comics at TFAW.com
    •  comics at TFAW.com
    •  comics at TFAW.com

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    Cullen Bunn Looks Back to Move Forward

    Bram Stoker and Eisner Award-nominated writer Cullen Bunn (Harrow County, The Sixth Gun, The Empty Man, The Damned) returns with debut artist Danny Luckert (Haunted) and colorist/letterer Marie Enger (Pistolwhip, 2 Sisters) for a chilling new series in Regression.

    We caught up with Cullen and picked his brain about Regression, the upcoming reboot of The Damned, and past life regression.

    The Damned #1
    The Damned #1

    TFAW: Do you remember the first comic book you ever read? How did it end up in your hands?

    Cullen Bunn: I remember “reading” an early issue of X-Men when I was very young, just flipping through it, looking at the Kirby art, not really understanding the real awesomeness of what I was seeing. The first comic I remember sort of reading was Avengers 154, where Attuma stages an attack on the Avengers and beats the Hell out of them. The issue scared me because I thought the Avengers had died. Those books, like so many of my comics when I was a kid, were bought at yard sales. Back in those days, you could find stacks of comics on the cheap at 2 out of 5 yard sales it seemed.

    TFAW: What series got you hooked on comics?

    Bunn: The comic that made me love comics was purchased off a grocery store spinner rack. It was Micronauts 7. That book hooked me with the story, the characters, the art, and the world-building.

    TFAW: What comic writers and artists inspire you?

    Bunn: Oh, wow! That’s a pretty big list. Morrison and Moore (and their weird wizard rivalry). Ellis, Wrightson, Starlin, Mantlo, Claremont, and so many more.

    I wish I had taken to time to enjoy the ride instead of being so stressed out about breaking in.

    TFAW: How did you get your big break in comics? At what point did it hit you that you had broken in?

    Bunn: I was working at a comic book store years and years ago when I met aspiring artist and fellow comic shop employee Brian Hurtt. We started talking about working on a comic book together, but it took a long, long time for that to happen. A little over ten years ago, Brian and I pitched the idea for our horror/noir series The Damned to Oni Press and they snapped it up. The Damned, by the way, is returning. The trade paperback of the original series just hit the shelves and the first issue of the new ongoing series hits the shelves soon!

    Cullen Bunn
    Cullen Bunn

    Anyhow, that was my big break, I guess, because it helped me wedge my toe in the door. It still took several more years for me to get more work. I put out another book with Brian and Oni titled The Sixth Gun, and that started getting attention from other publishers.It really hit me that I had broken in on the day I was able to quit my day job and become a full-time writer. I had broken in before then, I just never really appreciated and accepted it until that moment. I wish I had taken to time to enjoy the ride instead of being so stressed out about breaking in.

    TFAW: What is Regression about?

    Bunn: In Regression, we meet Adrian, an average guy who is experiencing vivid, horrible waking nightmares. These visions are so intense that they are ruining his life. His friend Molly convinces him to try past life regression hypnotherapy to help him understand the source of these visions. During the session, Adrian catches a glimpse of something ghastly, but he can’t make heads or tails of it. And that’s when the trouble starts.

    Regression #1
    Regression #1

    The past life Adrian encounters follows him back, nesting in his mind and taking control every now and then, forcing him to do horrible things. Adrian’s life starts spinning out of control, this other presence destroying everything around him. And to make matters worse, he is now at the center of some sort of strange supernatural conspiracy. A shady group of characters are watching him, because they feel that the intruding past life has some apocalyptic secrets to share.

    Watching some of the things my dad did with hypnosis has made me a believer.

    TFAW: The first historical mention of past life regression was in second century BC. It’s not a new subject, but there are surprisingly few mentions of past life regression in modern horror. What inspired you to write about this subject?

    Bunn: Past life regression as a story element has been something I’ve been thinking about for years. My father was a hypnotist, and I watched him perform a number of past life regressions. I thought about those regressions quite a bit over the years. Somewhere along the way, the troubling thought dawned on me: what if one of those past lives were evil or possessed by evil. And what if the regression gave them a finger hold in someone’s life? What if they could hitch a ride to the present?

    Sign from Cullen Bunn's father's show in the 1970s
    Sign from Cullen Bunn’s father’s show in the 1970s

    TFAW: What was the weirdest thing you ever saw during one of your father’s PLR sessions?

    Bunn: I know there are a lot of skeptics out there when it comes to hypnosis and past life regression. I get it, because I think there is a lot of phony stuff out there in the world. However, watching some of the things my dad did with hypnosis has made me a believer.

    I saw so, so many strange things. With the past life regressions in particular, I witnessed people speaking in previously unknown languages or with perfect accents from faraway places. I saw people describing intricate details of day-to-day life in time periods long, long gone.

    Once, while he was doing a show at a park, he had a subject who just refused to wake up. All the other subjects awoke when my dad counted to three, but this one guy remained under hypnosis. He would respond to my father. He would do things my father asked him to do. But he just refused to wake up. It took two or three hours to get him to come out of the hypnotic state.

    The most chilling thing, though, the thing that really planted the earliest seeds of Regression was another guy he hypnotized. He was a responsive subject. But when my dad regressed him to a past life, he just sat there in this eerie silence. He simply would not respond in any way to my dad’s voice. My dad told the other people who were watching that this subject must have been a “new soul” but I wondered if maybe there was something unspeakable in his past life.

    I had a group of friends in high school who really wanted to convince my dad to hypnotize all of us…

    TFAW: Did you ever let your father hypnotize you?

    Bunn: No, no, no. Never!

    TFAW: Why not? What were your objections or fears?

    Bunn: I’m too much of a control freak. I had a group of friends in high school who really wanted to convince my dad to hypnotize all of us and then let someone run us through a Dungeons and Dragons adventure that we would see and experience as real. Terrible idea!

    I just remembered that as I was answering this question. Thank goodness we didn’t try that. It sounds like the basis of an 80’s cautionary TV movie.

    TFAW: How did you end up partnering with Danny Luckert on Regression?

    Regressio #1
    Regression #1

    Bunn: We’ve been working on this book since 2013. Around that time, I had reached out to other comic book writers, asking if they knew of any artists who might be interested in a collaboration. Writer David Precht pointed me in Danny’s direction. I loved his artwork and reached out to him. We discussed a few ideas, but Regression was the one he liked most. He whipped up some character designs and art, and I loved his take on this story. The rest is history!

    I still go to the comic shop every week…

    TFAW: What titles are on your pull list?

    Bunn: I have a standing order for at least the first few issues of all the new Image titles that come out. I usually end up buying them in trades and reading the whole series that way, but I like trying the first few issues in floppies. Southern Bastards is on my pull list still. I want the floppies for that. Doctor Strange, the X-Men titles, The Mighty Thor, Avengers, Uncanny Avengers, Spongebob (for my kid, I swear!) and a bunch of others I forget to mention. My favorite thing to do on Wednesdays (because I still go to the comic shop every week) is to ask the employees “What came out this week that’s awesome?” and they usually start piling books up for me.

    TFAW: What’s next?

    Bunn: As I mentioned, The Damned is coming out as an ongoing from Oni. I’m also working on a just-announced horror series from Boom! titled The Unsound. I have several other creator-owned books in the works, too, but they haven’t been announced yet. I’m also writing X-Men Blue  and Monsters Unleashed for Marvel, as well as some top-secret projects that will be announced soon!

    PRE-ORDER YOUR COPIES OF REGRESSION AND THE DAMNED

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    Creator Spotlight: Wendy Pini

    Wendy Pini
    Wendy Pini

    Connect with Wendy:

    Website | Facebook | Twitter


    A Brief History of Wendy Pini

    Wendy Pini, along with her husband Richard Pini, is the comic creative team known as WaRP. They are responsible for creating the wildly popular Elfquest series.

    Through the mid 70s, Wendy Pini become infamous for appearing at comic conventions as an actress/dancer in The Red Sonja and the Wizard Show. This led to her first professional comics work, writing an issue of Red Sonja for Marvel Comics.

    However, she’s also written and painted two critically-acclaimed graphic novels based on the hit TV series Beauty and the Beast. Additionally, she created text and illustrations for Law and Chaos, an art book inspired by the writings of Michael Moorcock.

    And in 1997 Wendy Pini designed the elfin mascot for the Enclosed Laminar Flames investigation (ELF). This was an experiment performed in space by members of the crew of Space Shuttle Columbia.

    Subsequently from 2007 to 2010, she focused on her darker side. The result was an adults-only graphic novel based on the classic Edgar Allan Poe horror story Masque of the Red Death. Her animated web comic of the same name has received millions of views. It is currently available as a limited edition, 400 page hardcover collectors volume.

    In 2012, along with Richard, Wendy donated her entire body of work to Columbia University NY Library’s archives. Her artwork and writings are permanently available to students and the public for study.

    In addition, Wendy also completed the book and lyrics for a musical adaptation of Masque of the Red Death. In November 2014, two songs from Masque were performed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

    NOTABLE WORKS

     

     

     

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