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.
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.
Every 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!
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
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.”
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.
We caught up with Cullen and picked his brain about Regression, the upcoming reboot of The Damned, and past life regression.
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!
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.
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?
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?
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!
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.
You’ve probably been hearing a lot about Donny Cates recently, and with good reason. The author of Buzzkill and Ghost Fleet is killing it with his new series God Country. With two new ongoing series just around the corner, Redneck (April 19) and Babyteeth (June), Cates is in high demand. We caught up with him and picked his brain about Redneck and life in Texas.
TFAW: Do you remember the first comic book you read? How did you end up with it?
Donny Cates: I do! Kind of…My Dad taught me to read using comics when I was a kid. My brother was a big baseball card kid, so I’d always go with him to the mall. The baseball card shop had a bunch of shelves of comics and I was just OBSESSED with them. So, my dad made a deal with me. If I learned to read them, he would buy them for me. So I did!
I learned how to read using an issue of Green Lantern. And for the life of me I can’t remember which issue it was. I like to think I’d know it if I saw it. But who knows?
TFAW: What series got you hooked on comics?
Cates: That’s a tough question because I was hooked from the jump. I started reading young and I’ve never really taken any time off. I will say that when I discovered the Vertigo stuff as a kid I was just blown away. Books like Preacher and Sandman and [Alan] Moore’s Swamp Thing and Hellblazer just exploded my mind and my sense of what comics could be.
There isn’t just one moment where you are in and someone gives you the decoder ring…
TFAW: What comic writers inspire you?
Cates: Mark Waid is the writer who first jumps to mind. He’s had such an incredible career and he wrote Kingdom Come when he was MY age. Just thinking about gives me hives. And he’s only gotten better. Jason Aaron is another one. I look at the work he’s putting out and I’m just floored with every issue. I truly think we are all lucky to be alive while that man is putting books out.
TFAW: How did you get your big break in comics? At what point did it hit you that you had broken in?
Cates: Well, the truth of the matter is that there isn’t just one moment where you are in and someone gives you the decoder ring and now everything is super easy, you know? You actually break in numerous times. I’ve been doing this, in some capacity or another for ten years or so…and I’m JUST NOW feeling like I’m “in.”
TFAW: What is Redneck about?
Cates:Redneck follows The Bowmans, a family of vampires living in East Texas just trying to get by and live in peace. They run a cattle farm and live off the blood of the cows they slaughter for the BBQ shop their familiars run in town. It’s a safe life, but it’s just surviving. Not really “living”. They are very much an isolationist family. They don’t bother the townsfolk and the town doesn’t bother them. Until well, something goes terribly wrong. And our peaceful group of vampires suddenly find themselves on the verge of war.
Stephen King has Maine. I have Texas.
TFAW: We’ve all seen creepy vampires, sexy vampires, and high school teen vampires in books and movies. So far, I think this is the only story about hillbilly vampires. What inspired you to take vampire mythos in this new direction?
Cates: Well, it started out with me looking at the word “redneck” and wondering if anyone had ever done a vampire book with that name…because come on, right? It started as simply as that. But when I started digging into the story I wanted to tell, it kind of came alive. I found myself writing about my own family, my own history. And then the history of Texas and the idea of bad blood and the sins of the past kind of a thing.
It’s such great fodder for stories when you have an immortal family of vampires that have hundreds of years of history in place before the story even begins. It’s all my favorite things wrapped up in a neat little package. Westerns, Vampires, Texas, Horror, family drama! I love it.
TFAW: Texas is also the setting of God Country. Is Texas a hotbed of paranormal activity?
Cates: It certainly is in my books! Even if you look back at Buzzkill and Ghost Fleet, both of those books are set in or around Texas to a certain degree. I don’t know what it is about the state that inspires me so much. I mean, obviously I’m from Texas and I still live here, but there’s just something weird and haunted about it that I can’t help feel inspired by. Stephen King has Maine. I have Texas.
I always say that Lisandro draws ugly things really pretty.
TFAW: What can we look forward to in the upcoming Redneck issues?
Cates: Lots and lots of blood. And horses. And fire. And guns. And beer.
TFAW: How did you end up partnering with Lisandro Estherren on Redneck?
Cates: I pitched Redneck to Skybound without an artist attached. So once it was greenlit, Jon Moisan (series editor) and I just poured over portfolios and traded back and forth the people we liked. It was really fun, actually. I think Lisandro jumped out at Jon and I both for his ability to draw raw emotion and really evocative moods and settings. I always say that Lisandro draws ugly things really pretty. And that kind of blend of hideous and beautiful, mean and emotional. It was just perfect for the book.
Cates:Babyteeth! My other ongoing this year. That one comes out in June. And I have a few other big announcements later this year that I can’t tell anyone about. But suffice to say you aren’t rid of me just yet.
TFAW: Can I get an elevator pitch for Babyteeth?
Cates: Sure! Sadie Ritter is sixteen and pregnant with the antichrist. Once the baby is born, all hell comes with it. It’s very sweet.
Becky Cloonan is an award-winning comics writer and artist. Born in 1980 in Pisa, Italy, Cloonan is best-known as the first female artists to draw the main Batman title for DC Comics.
After attending New York’s School of Visual Arts, she was part of the Meathaus collective. She subsequently collaborated with Brian Wood on Channel Zero: Jennie One in 2003.
Cloonan’s manga-influenced style has served her well. Her first solo graphic novel, East Coast Rising: Volume 1, was released by Tokyopop in 2006. That title marked Cloonan’s third Eisner Award nomination in 2007 (Best New Series).
Her work on the 2004 twelve-issue comics series Demo was also nominated for two Eisner Awards in 2005 (Best Limited Series and Best Single Issue or One-Shot)
In addition, in 2015, she was voted #3 of the top 50 female comics artists of all-time. She was also one of only two creators to make the list as both writer and artist. And she was voted #14 among all-time top writers.
Sidekicks are an integral part of comic books, serving alongside superheroes as they save the day time and time again. These characters have become icons in their own right. But they often lack the recognition that their hero counterparts get. So, it’s time to give these characters the credit they deserve.
Bob is a fan favorite character. He appears in the Marvel Universe as Deadpool’s sometimes sidekick. Deadpool’s feelings toward Bob vacillate depending on the specific series. Bob’s contribution to Deadpool’s well-being (well, whatever passes for well-being for Deadpool) can’t be ignored. Bob defected from HYDRA when Deadpool broke into the organization’s headquarters in order to save Agent X. Bob supplied the Merc with valuable insight into HYDRA’s inner workings. Since then, HYDRA Bob has been present for many of the antihero’s greatest antics–getting a nod in the 2016 movie.
Dum Dum Dugan
A member of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Howling Commandos, Dum Dum Dugan is best known as Nick Fury’s sidekick. And he has a great deal of page time in his own right. But he got his start helping Fury out after he saved the S.H.I.E.L.D. leader from Nazi’s in World War 2. Fury relies so much on Dugan he had his personality uploaded into an android (a “life model decoy”) to keep him going after the original Dugan was killed in a mission in the 50’s.
Some might argue that Bucky doesn’t really count as a sidekick because he’s now a hero in his own right. But we disagree. Bucky got his start as a member ofCaptain America’s team. He even joined Rogers on his first mission against Red Skull. During World War 2, Bucky was a constant companion of the good Captain. Like many other Marvel sidekicks, Bucky was soon molded into a hero in his own right. He first took a long detour as the villain version of the Winter Soldier. Then eventually took over the Captain America mantel. Currently a hero, the Winter Soldier would never have become the crime fighter he is had it not been for Roger’s tutelage.
We could make a strong argument that all of the X-Men are Charles Xavier’s sidekicks, but we’ll save that for another time. Instead, let’s highlight one of the best hero sidekick relationships in the long history of the X-Men franchise–Wolverine and Jubilee. Jubilee was first inducted into the X-Men after saving Wolverine from Reavers. After that, she joins the man on several missions, illustrating first hand how useful she is by saving Wolverine time and time again. Their relationship immediately takes on a father/daughter dynamic. Jubilee is constantly prodding at the older X-Men member and Wolverine doing everything he can to protect her.
Jim Rhodes has evolved from his sidekick beginning, becoming a superhero in his own right. For decades, Rhodes (Rhodey to Tony Stark) has piloted a version of the Iron Man suit known as War Machine. A former military commander and pilot, he met Tony Stark when his plane was shot down over enemy territory. After they successfully teamed up to escape, Rhodes and Stark forged a lasting friendship that developed into partnership. Stark trusted Rhodes to back him up in any crises. Rhodes even took over the Iron Man mantle when Stark was unable to safely fill the roll, However, the suit hadn’t been properly calibrated to Rhodes’s brain.
At the end of 2012, Berger stepped down as Executive Editor & Senior Vice President of DC Entertainment’s Vertigo imprint. In February 2017, she announced her return to the comic world. She is teaming up with Dark Horse Comics to create a new imprint, Berger Books. The new imprint will feature creator-owned work hand-picked and edited by Berger herself.
In addition, she has won many prestigious awards including the the Inkpot Award in 1990, three Eisner Awards (1992,1994 and 1995), and the Comics Buyer’s Guide Award for Favorite Editor every year from 1997 through 2005.
Comics aren’t just for kids, is a refrain you’ll often hear from fans and it’s true. Marvel took things to a new level though with their mature content imprint MAX. Created in 2001, Marvel MAX focuses on darker heroes from the Marvel universe or creating new more morally complex characters. MAX’s R-rated comic content gives adult readers a more grown up reading experience.
Here are some of MAX’s best titles:
He’s a half-vampire, half-human vampire hunter. And he uses an arsenal of extreme weaponry to slay the undead. The MAX line gave creators the opportunity to tell the scary and violent stories Blade fans had been waiting years for.
Deadpoolhas long been a fan of four letter words and extreme violence. So, his MAX book allows him to really cut loose and be the best mercenary he could. This version retains the humor that made the character so popular. But it also frees the creative team of the limitations of a mainstream book. The result is one of Deadpool’s craziest adventures.
Wolverine’s berserker rage is on full display in this series. He’s been freed of the X-Men continuity and content restrictions. Now Wolverine is turned loose in a more gritty and noirish story. The violent and brooding world of Wolverine fit perfectly with the darker, more grown up tone of the MAX books.
If any character was made for a MAX book, it’s Frank Castle. And he’s finally able to deliver the bloody retribution he had been talking about for decades. Writer Garth Ennis was able to dig deeper into the psyche of The Punisher than ever before. Yet the book still delivers some of the finest action sequences in the character’s history.
If we can thank the MAX line for anything it’s the creation of Jessica Jones. She’s now a mainstay of the Marvel universe. Jessica was introduced in the Alias gritty detective series. Writer Brian Michael Bendis gives is a beautifully flawed and compelling protagonist. But he also shines a light on the more human side of superheroes.
Marguerite Bennett is a comic writer that has demonstrated the ability to touch on many themes, tones and styles. Born in Virginia, she is a self-described Nerdy Southern Belle. In DC Comics Bombshells, she re-imagines prominent female characters in the context of ‘40s WWII culture. Her work Insexts subverts historical expectations and Victorian literature for an twist. She is currently a writer for DC Comics, Marvel, Aftershock, BOOM! Studios, Rosy Press, and more. In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comic Book for Angela: Queen of Hel. This year she’s nominated for her work on DC’s Bombshells.