Tag: Dynamite Entertainment

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  • Character Bio: Green Hornet of Dynamite’s Masks

    Green Hornet ComicsGreen Hornet. The Shadow. Zorro. The Spider. Kato. They — and other classic pulp heroes — are joining forces this November in Dynamite Entertainment’s Masks, a new ongoing series from Chris Roberson and Alex Ross.

    Need to get caught up on who’s who? As part of our special “Behind the Masks” promotion, we’re offering character bios on these iconic heroes, starting with the Green Hornet!

    The original Green Hornet, who is starring in Masks, is a — ahem — masked crime fighter created by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker for an American radio program in the 1930s, who has gone on to star in film serials in the 1940s, a network television program in the 1960s, and multiple comic book series from the 1940s to the 1990s.

    Britt Reid is a newspaper publisher by day who goes out by night in his masked “Green Hornet” identity to fight crime as a vigilante, accompanied by his trusted associate Kato, driving a car equipped with advanced technology called “Black Beauty.” The Green Hornet is often portrayed as possessing fair to above average hand-to-hand combat skills and is often armed with a gun that sprays knock-out gas (a sonic blast weapon called the “Hornet’s Sting” was added to his arsenal for the TV series).

    One intriguing aspect of the character that tends to be given limited exposure is his blood relationship to The Lone Ranger, another character created by Striker. The Lone Ranger’s nephew was Dan Reid. In the Green Hornet radio shows, the Hornet’s father was likewise named Dan Reid, making the hero the Ranger’s grand-nephew!

    From the radio series: With his faithful valet Kato, Britt Reid, daring young publisher, matches wits with the Underworld, risking his life so that criminal and racketeers within the law may feel its weight by the sting of the Green Hornet!

    Masks #1 will feature fully painted interiors by Alex Ross — his first since 2003! Make sure to pre-order Masks #1 today and save 35%. To read more adventures of the original Green Hornet, check out Green Hornet Year One. Or, read all about Britt Reid Jr., and his (female) Kato, Mulan, in Dynamite’s ongoing Green Hornet series!

    VISIT OUR SPECIAL MASKS PAGE

    BROWSE ALL GREEN HORNET COMICS & GRAPHIC NOVELS

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  • Jim Zub and Erik Mona Take Us Inside Dynamite’s Pathfinder Comics

    Pathfinder ComicsMillions of players can’t be wrong: Pathfinder, the award-winning, best-selling fantasy RPG, is one of the most popular games in the world. Released in 2009 by Paizo Publishing, Pathfinder has gained a legion of fans who are passionate about its exciting adventure paths, dynamic characters, and multiple expansions.

    Speaking of “expansions,” the next step toward total world domination takes place this week, with the debut of Pathfinder comics from Dynamite Entertainment! We had the chance to interview writer Jim Zub and Paizo Publisher Erik Mona about this exciting new series and what it holds for fans.

    Make sure to check out our five-page preview of Pathfinder #1, out this Wednesday. Plus, make sure to “Like” TFAW on Facebook and take part in our contest, beginning at 9 a.m. PST August 15, to win an amazing prize package including a copy of the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path Anniversary Edition hardcover, signed by the entire Paizo staff, a copy of their newest release, the Pathfinder RPG: Ultimate Equipment hardcover, and two copies of Pathfinder #1 signed by the series’ creative team! Plus, three runners’ up will receive signed issues of Pathfinder #1. Make sure to visit us on Facebook August 15 to enter our contest.

    TFAW: How did you become involved with the Pathfinder comics?

    Jeff Zub: I’ve known Erik Mona, Publisher at Paizo, for years and did some work with him and the Paizo gang back when they were publishing the Dungeons & Dragons magazines. As their company grew and they started Pathfinder around five years ago we stayed in contact, would see each other at conventions and would talk about comics, gaming, and entertainment.

    Pathfinder #1 Page 1Last year at Gen Con in Indianapolis, Erik mentioned to me that a Pathfinder comic was a possibility and I told him to keep me in mind for writing. Good to his word, when Dynamite Entertainment licensed Pathfinder for comics, he put my name forward as a possible writer for the series. I put together a pitch package and it impressed both Paizo and Dynamite enough that they put me on board.

    TFAW: I read in a previous interview that you started playing Dungeons & Dragons when you were 8; did you also play Pathfinder when it debuted?

    JZ: I did play Pathfinder when it launched and, although I’m too busy to maintain a regular campaign right now, I do try to find time to play. Tabletop role-playing games are a wonderful source of creativity and I always enjoy collaborating with friends over a gaming session.

    TFAW: Can you talk about the process behind and challenges of taking an RPG and turning it into an ongoing comic book series?

    JZ: When you’re adapting between any two mediums I think it’s really important to understand what makes each one tick. You want to maintain the strengths of each medium in the adaptation process. Fantasy role-playing games focus on creating an in-depth and compelling setting players can use as the canvas for their story and character ideas. At first glance it might be tempting to show tons of world-setting material right off the bat, but the actual focus of game sessions is on interesting character stories, so that’s what we’re building from for the comic. We get to use the comic medium to its full advantage, telling a visual character-centric story, while slowly widening the view of Golarion with each adventure.

    TFAW: How involved was Paizo Publishing?

    Pathfinder #1 Page 2JZ: Paizo’s been heavily involved, but not in a bad way. They’re obviously the Pathfinder experts and it’s been wonderful bouncing ideas off of the staff there. They’ve been really good about allowing me to build the characters and overall plot for the comic, while making great suggestions about setting, rules elements that can be incorporated seamlessly, and tiny details fans of Pathfinder will be thrilled to see.

    TFAW: Can you introduce us to your debut storyline? What characters are featured?

    JZ: The goblin clans of Varisia, Pathfinder fan-favorite antagonists, are being controlled by a strange evil force that’s motivating and organizing them. The adventurers are drawn in thinking they’re dealing with a regular goblin raiding band, but quickly realize something much larger is at stake. The mystic forces being called upon by the cult at the heart of this dark plan are creating something much more dangerous, a horrifying creature that will threaten the whole region if it’s not stopped.

    Valeros is a mercenary fighter who has disobeyed orders so many times he’s not quite sure how to be loyal to anything or anyone. His courage and temper make him a formidable and dangerous warrior.

    Seoni is a mysterious sorcerer whose tattooed body and mystical dreams make those who first meet her wary of her power. Strangers may call her a barbarian based on appearance, but her keen strategic mind gives her a distinctive edge in battle.

    Merisiel is an elven rogue whose glib banter and flashing smile lead people to assume that she’s unintelligent and shallow. Her fears and long-lived life drive her in ways few will ever understand.

    Pathfinder #1 Page 3Ezren is a middle-aged man who came to wizardry quite late in life. The march of time mixed with his desire for knowledge keeps him pushing himself to new limits.

    Harsk is a quiet and contemplative dwarven ranger with deeply-sown seeds of vengeance and anger buried under the surface.

    Kyra is a battle-hardened cleric of Sarenrae who will stop at nothing to destroy evil, constantly testing her faith and will against those around her.

    TFAW: Your creator-owned book, Skullkickers, also a fantasy book, contains quite a bit of sly humor that pokes fun at the genre. Is there any of that in Pathfinder?

    JZ: Pathfinder is far more character-focused, with a larger cast and more involved plot. There is some humor in Pathfinder, but it’s more character personality-driven rather than the overarching sarcastic and over-the-top tone of Skullkickers. I think even the most serious and dramatic stories need a bit of levity to help create highs and lows in the story.

    TFAW: What is it about fantasy that attracts you, as a writer?

    JZ: Good question! There’s something primal and wonderful about myth and fantasy stories. The genre seems very open to massive scale creation and expansion, wielding larger-than-life forces and creating situations that reflect on our common ideas about heroism, sacrifice and belief. The lack of modern conveniences infuses these stories with a greater sense of survival and self reliance, which I also find really intriguing as a writer.

    TFAW: Are you tempted to write for the games themselves?

    JZ: Hmmm . . . I’m not sure if my story building would lend itself to game adventures. I love gaming and have created adventures for friends over the years, but it would be tough coming up with an “official” game scenario that has to be able encompass just about any group plugged into it. The Paizo crew is really good at what they do, so I’d definitely need their guidance. If they asked me I’d definitely have to consider it.

    Pathfinder #1 Page 4TFAW: What’s next on your wishlist: what type of comics do you want to tackle next?

    JZ: I have a horror mini-series I’m slowly developing, as well as a supernatural thriller with a neat story hook I’m excited about exploring. I also have concepts for a dystopian super-soldier story and a fantasy graphic novel for kids. It’s hard to know which one will gain traction based on artist availability and publisher interest, so I try to keep each one slowly moving forward until one of them really heats up. My fingers are crossed that they all happen at some point down the road.

    TFAW: Erik, what is it about Pathfinder that’s made it so incredibly popular, in your opinion?

    Erik Mona: The Pathfinder RPG lets you create any kind of fantasy adventurer you can imagine, with robust rules for different character races and classes, and tons of special abilities that let you pull off in tabletop combat the sort of spells and combat moves that you imagine in your head. That’s a hugely compelling experience for gamers, and as Pathfinder games go on and on, players have lots of chances to develop their characters in any way they want. The game is very flexible and very fun, with diverse elements like tactical combat and even a touch of improvisational play-acting, so there’s a little something to keep everyone interested.

    TFAW: Why was now the right time to launch a Pathfinder comic?

    EM: We launched the Pathfinder brand about five years ago, and in that time it’s managed to overtake the previous industry flagship game to become the best-selling tabletop RPG on the market. More gamers are aware of Pathfinder now than at any time in the past, and even those who have never played it have certainly heard of it. Since many gamers are also comics fans, now seemed like the right time to launch a Pathfinder comic to show everyone what all the fuss is about.

    TFAW: Can you describe your vision for the comic?

    Pathfinder #1 Page 5EM: Ever since the beginning, we’ve included a party of “iconic adventurers” in the illustrations of all of our Pathfinder products. Folks like Valeros the fighter and Seoni the sorcerer have been around since the first day of Pathfinder, but I’ve always been holding back on telling their back stories and establishing their personalities, as I felt from day one that a comic book would be the best medium for that type of story.

    In our game books, the iconic characters are stand-ins for the adventurers that the players will create to tell their own stories, so it’s not really appropriate to put too much detail into these guys there. But fans have been wanting to know more about them since they first came on the scene, and I’m thrilled that the comic finally gives us the opportunity to do it right.

    TFAW: What made Dynamite the right publisher?

    EM: Dynamite has a great track record with licensed properties, and their books always look absolutely great. Over the years I’ve gotten to know the core Dynamite team from conventions both of our companies attend, and I’m impressed by their knowledge and love of comics, their ability to create great-looking books based on existing properties, and their commitment to quality art and story. We spoke in general terms about working together for about a year before both companies decided (pretty much at the same time) that the time was right to move forward with a cooperative project.

    A better question than what made Dynamite the right publisher, though, is what makes Dynamite the right publisher. In the months since we signed on with them, they’ve gone above and beyond to assemble a fantastic creative team for the book, and the cool variant and incentive covers they’ve put together continue to blow us away. Working with their editors and production people has been a joy, and everyone at Dynamite has been great about incorporating our feedback and thoughts (and game content, of course!) into each issue. I knew Dynamite would be a great partner before we gave them the license, and now I am absolutely sure of it.

    Pathfinder #2TFAW: How involved were you in the creation of the comic, and selecting the creative team?

    EM: I have been pretty heavily involved in the decision-making regarding just about every creative element of the book. I have a long history with Jim Zub, as he was one of our most important contacts on the art side of Dragon and Dungeon magazines, which we used to publish. Jim coordinated all of the artists at Udon Studios and often did art for us himself, so I knew he had a lot of knowledge and passion for tabletop gaming that would serve him well on this project. Plus, his comic Skullkickers perfectly captures the zanier side of the sorts of things that happen in a Pathfinder game, so I knew he could handle the somewhat more serious subject matter we’d be covering in the comic in a way that still rang true for gamers.

    I decided which of our six iconic characters would star in the series, where the series would be set (in the town of Sandpoint in the frontier nation of Varisia, home base to many Pathfinder adventures), and what sort of game content will be included in each issue. I also decide what images to put on the flip-side of the poster map included in each issue, and once Jim was in place I helped him and series editor Rich Young decide on Andrew Huerta as our penciller. I also lead the team here at Paizo that reads, comments on, and approves all of Jim’s scripts, and I sign off on every page of art as it is finished. I’d say I’ve been relatively “hands on” with the project so far.

    Pathfinder #3TFAW: What specific aspects of Pathfinder did you want to feature in the comic?

    EM: I want to show how our iconic characters met, what their personalities are like, and how they relate to one another, things that are almost impossible to show in our RPG books, where they stand in as proxies for the player characters of the readers. I want to use the comics medium to show off the broad vistas and weird creatures that inhabit the Pathfinder world, and I want to produce an accessible story that reveals the excitement and awesomeness of the Pathfinder world to folks who haven’t yet given the game a try.

    TFAW: What’s the next big thing coming up from Paizo?

    EM: Next week we head to Gen Con, the biggest convention in the game business, where we’ll be formally debuting the comic with both Jim Zub and Andrew Huerta on hand to meet with Pathfinder fans, draw character sketches, and autograph comics. At the show we’ll also launch lots of brand-new products like Ultimate Equipment, a 400-page hardcover magic item catalog, a 65-figure set of Pathfinder Battles pre-painted miniatures designed to support our Rise of the Runelords campaign, and the first installment of our new Shattered Star Adventure Path. It’s going to be great!

    We want to thank Jim Zub and Erik Mona for taking the time to answer all of our questions. You still have time to pre-order Pathfinder #1-3 and save 20%. Plus, remember to enter our Pathfinder contest on our Facebook page August 15 starting at 9 a.m. PST to win sweet swag from Paizo and Dynamite!

    SEE ALL PATHFINDER COMICS AND MORE

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    Are you a Pathfinder fan? Are you looking forward to the comics? Post your comments below!

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  • Dynamite Previews: Panthra #3, Thun’da #1, and More

    Dynamite Entertainment has kept the sneak peeks coming with a look at these titles! We have comic book previews of four new comics: Garth Ennis Jennifer Blood TPB Vol. 02 #5, Jim Butchers Dresden Files Fool Moon #7, Pantha #3, Red Sonja Atlantis Rises #3, Thun’da #3 , Vampirella #3 , Vampirella Annual #2 , Vampirella #20 , and Warriors Of Mars #4 . Do you want to see the first four or five pages? Just click one of the covers.

    Garth Ennis Jennifer Blood TPB Vol. 02
    Garth Ennis Jennifer Blood TPB Vol. 02
    Jim Butchers Dresden Files Fool Moon #7
    Jim Butchers Dresden Files Fool Moon #7
    Pantha #3
    Pantha #3
    Red Sonja Atlantis Rises #1
    Red Sonja Atlantis Rises #1
    Thunda #1
    Thunda #1
    Vampirella #20
    Vampirella #20
    Vampirella Annual #2
    Vampirella Annual #2
    Warriors Of Mars #4
    Warriors Of Mars #4

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  • Get in the Game: New Game of Thrones Merchandise

    Game of ThronesGeorge R. R. Martin’s epic Game of Thrones has never been more popular, with millions of fans breathlessly awaiting the premiere of Season 2 of the HBO show on April 1. This dark medieval fantasy has ignited demand for collectibles–make sure to let your visitors know about the comics, merchandise, games, and more at TFAW.

    Dynamite Entertainment’s Game of Thrones comic-book series has been extremely popular, and Game of Thrones HC Vol. 01, collecting the first six issues, is out March 14. We’ve got a behind-the-scenes interview with preview art here!

    But that’s only the tip of the iceberg: Dark Horse Deluxe is releasing a full line of amazing Game of Thrones merchandise, including mugs, journals, playing cards, magnets, and more this spring, emblazoned with images from the popular TV series.

    Don’t forget about the Game of Thrones board and card games, too!

    > BROWSE ALL GAME OF THRONES COMICS AND MORE

    Are you looking forward to Season 2 of Game of Thrones on HBO? Post your comments below!

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  • Comic Book Reviews: Batman, Army of Darkness, More

    Watch Video Reviews of This Week’s Comics!

    Sit down and enjoy this week’s comic book reviews! We take a look at Batman #6, Army of Darkness #1, Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi #1, and the Astonishing X-Men Whedon Cassaday Ultimate Collection Vol. 1 TPB.

    Check out the video, below. SPOILER ALERT! We try not to go into too much detail in our reviews, but a few mild spoilers might slip through the cracks!

    Batman Comics

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  • Red Sonja Creators Eric Trautmann and Walter Geovani Tell All!

    Red Sonja Comics and Graphic NovelsDynamite Month has been an amazing event chock-full of great interviews, exciting previews, and excellent contests–hope you enjoyed reading them as much as we enjoyed putting it all together! We’re closing out the month with an inside look at the She-Devil With a Sword, Red Sonja! We talked with writer Eric Trautmann and artist Walter Geovani about strong women, period weaponry, and what’s next for Sonja. Plus, we’ve got a five-page preview of Red Sonja #58, with art by Noah Salonga–Walter will return with issue #62.

    [UPDATE]: We have some exclusive character designs from Walter Geovani, below–make sure to check them out!

    TFAW.com: Eric, what drew you to Red Sonja, as a writer?

    Eric Trautmann: I have a weakness for tough, determined, skilled female protagonists. A touch of larceny and mischief never hurts, either.

    TFAW.com: Red Sonja is often characterized as the “female Conan”–do you think that’s accurate? How do you see her?

    EST: I can certainly see that comparison being made but I think, despite those similarities (and sure, there are many), I view them as quite distinct. Conan’s initial motivation to leave his homeland was restlessness: he’s an action junkie. Sonja’s own origins are considerably darker and nastier, and to an extent, I think she’s definitely more motivated by anger, and perhaps a touch of survivor’s guilt. Over the course of the Red Sonja issues I’ve written, I have tried to bring a sense of consequence to her actions–that it isn’t just lighthearted, swashbuckling adventure, and when the sword is drawn, there’s definitely a price to be paid.

    TFAW.com: There’s been a lot of controversy recently about the depiction of “sexy” women in comics. In your book, Red Sonja is attractive, but she’s also a warrior and a strong, assertive woman. How difficult is it to avoid the trap of writing her as just eye candy?

    Red Sonja #58 Page 1EST: Not terribly. It doesn’t really matter if the character is male, female, or unspecified alien other; if you’re writing the character as honestly as possible, then the character should (if I do my job properly) read as a real person, not just exposed flesh.

    TFAW.com: You’re also the writer behind Vampirella, another classic femme fatale. How does she compare to Red Sonja?

    EST: There are definitely some similarities, sure. I’ve taken Vampirella down a darker path than she’s been down in a long while, and she, like Sonja, is coping with issues of guilt and loss, in addition to the more overt, external threats of monsters, ancient gods, and so on. I think they do read rather differently, as the two women cope with this “baggage” much differently.

    Where Vampirella is prone to brooding, and hurls herself into dangerous situations specifically to occupy herself and not dwell on her demons, Sonja is much more able to access her emotions. Vampirella will go find a horrible monster to fight; Sonja will dance on tables, drink a tavern’s worth of ale, sing bawdy songs.

    TFAW.com: The comic-book character of Red Sonja is loosely based on Robert E. Howard’s Red Sonya of Rogatino, but there isn’t a lot of “canon” to draw on, as there is with Conan. Where do you find inspiration for your stories?

    EST: I must confess that the first arc, “War Season” (which ran from issues #51-54, with an epilogue in #55) is a love letter to a Conan the Barbarian arc written by James Owsley, which I read when I was in high school. It was a terrific run (with art by Val Semeiks and Geoff Isherwood), huge in scope, with armies clashing and Conan as a mercenary general.

    Red Sonja #58 Page 2After that, inspiration comes mostly from Sonja herself. I’m not one of those writers who says the character “tells me the story, and I just write it down,” but I find her so fascinating and compelling that I’m eager to see what new, crazed situation I can put her in to see how she prevails.

    TFAW.com: Were you a fan of the original Marvel Red Sonja comics?

    EST: I was. And Conan the Barbarian, and King Kull, and Savage Sword of Conan, and . . .

    TFAW.com: What’s next for Red Sonja?

    EST: Once the current arc wraps up with issue #59–where Sonja has a pivotal role in the politics of the nation, Koth–there’s a done-in-one “anniversary” #60th issue. We’ll see Sonja have an encounter with a sort of opposite number, as she moves away from Argos, Shem and Koth (where I’ve kept her for most of my run) and into the ancient, mysterious kingdom of Stygia.

    Issue #60 features the return of artist Patrick Berkenkotter, who did a magnificent job following Walter Geovani, with the self-contained issue #55, and as a guest artist on issue #59. It’s just lovely, muscular work that reminds me of Ernie Chan’s line, which is a perfect fit.

    We’ll be in Stygia for several issues, starting with issue #61. Walter returns to the art chores, and he continues to wow me with his excellent action and character work. The new arc finds Sonja and a new group of allies being pulled into an ancient grudge match between religious and political factions in Stygia, and all tying back into the aftermath of “War Season.”

    Red Sonja #58 Page 3TFAW.com: There’s been many rumors about a Red Sonja movie by Robert Rodriguez. What advice would you have for him?

    EST: I’m not sure I’d presume to give him advice, but as a fan, I’d like to see a Sonja movie played seriously, and focusing on the things I admire in the character: strength, determination, cunning. She’s a thief and a bit of an opportunist, so a medieval caper film would be a treat.

    TFAW.com: What other projects do you have coming up?

    EST: You’ve mentioned Vampirella, of course. And in November, my first issue of Dynamite’s Flash Gordon hits store shelves. The serial, entitled “Zeitgeist,” is set in the 1930s, and has benefited tremendously from story and art direction from Alex Ross, and will be illustrated by the incredibly talented Daniel Indro. Very different from the blood, thunder, and death I typically end up writing.

    TFAW.com: Walter, were you always a fan of the sword and sorcery genre?

    Walter Geovani: I’ll be honest, I never liked this genre. And it caused me some problems in the beginning, because I had to learn and adapt to that medieval world.

    I never liked it until I started working on it. You know when you don’t like something just because you don’t know it? That was it. The more I worked on Red Sonja, the more I found how cool it was to be drawing all that stuff.

    Red Sonja Walter GeovaniCavvalus Walter GeovaniDimitri Walter Geovani

    TFAW.com: Who were your influences, growing up?

    WG: I could write a lot of names here, but there’s one name that’s the most powerful influence in my work: Marc Silvestri. And my inspiration to do medieval stuff: Frank Frazetta (of course), and Barry Windsor Smith.

    Red Sonja #58 Page 4TFAW.com: I’ve noticed your Red Sonja is a bit more covered up than she has been, traditionally. Was that your idea, or Dynamite’s?

    WG: It was Dynamite’s idea. Or Eric’s idea. Or both. The fact is, that idea came at the right time in my career. I decided to focus on storytelling and set aside my pinup style and sexy poses. So, covering her up, it helps me to call the readers’ attention to that and make them stop thinking that I was only an “artist of sexy girls.” I’m glad it worked.

    TFAW.com: How difficult is it to depict a “barbarian age” while keeping modern readers in mind?

    WG: I think that if the story is good, it doesn’t matter the genre, or the age. But I know a lot of people who don’t give a chance to this kind of book (or movie, or cartoon) just because they think it’s impossible that a good story can come from it. It’s the “you don’t like something just because you don’t know it” thing, I think.

    So what I try to keep in mind is to work hard to make a great book, so when a new reader gives it a chance, maybe he’ll change his mind and end up enjoying it. And I work hard to not disappoint the fans who do like these kind of stories.

    Rogatino Walter GeovaniValkos Walter GeovaniWurkest Walter Geovani

    TFAW.com: What kind of research did you have to do to draw all of those fight scenes? Do you draw period weapons, or do you design your own?

    WG: I draw period weapons, I design my own–I do a mix. That’s the good thing about this genre, you can use your imagination and play with stuff, and nobody can say it’s wrong. It just needs to be cool. My action scenes are inspired movies, cartoons, and comic books I like.

    Red Sonja #58 Page 5TFAW.com: Do you have a favorite character or type of scene to draw?

    WG: There are three characters I loved to draw: Rogatino, Valkos (Red Sonja: War Season), and Sofia (Vampirella). I like to draw scenes with emotion. I like to draw the characters laughing, or angry, or crying. If I do it it right, if I capture the emotion of the story, that makes me happy.

    TFAW.com: What comics are you reading right now?

    WG: I’m reading Scalped, American Vampire, Joe the Barbarian, and New Avengers. Unfortunately, Dynamite’s books are not published here in Brazil, because they [Dynamite] have a lot of good stuff.

    TFAW.com: If you could choose another comic to draw, what would you pick and why?

    WG: Vampirella. Because I love the character. She’s sexy, she’s badass, and the book is dark. I’d like to draw Flash Gordon. One of the few male characters I’d really like to draw. Masquerade would be great to draw, too.

    TFAW.com: What else do you have coming up?

    WG: I’m back to Red Sonja monthly. She has new allies and we’ll be in Stygia. Eric is writing a great story that I’m having a lot of fun drawing. It’s getting darker and more mysterious each issue. Stay tuned!

    Our thanks to Eric and Walter for a fantastic interview. Make sure to check out our selection of Red Sonja comics and graphic novels and save 10-35%.

    ORDER RED SONJA COMICS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS AND SAVE 10-20%

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  • Todd Herman Shares Exclusive Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf Sketches

    Patricia Briggs Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf ComicsWe’re coming to the end of Dynamite Month, but we still have some excellent interviews up our sleeves. Today we’ve got an in-depth interview with Todd Herman, the artist for Dynamite’s upcoming revamp of the Patricia Briggs’ Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf comics!

    He talked with us about the difficulties of learning wolf anatomy, what advice he’d offer to aspiring artists, and what he used as inspiration for the book. Plus, take an exclusive peek at his Cry Wolf character designs, including his original “Anna,” which he changed dramatically after reading the book!

    TFAW.com: How did you become involved with Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf?

    Todd Herman: I became involved with Cry Wolf because of editor Rich Young. I had been doing pencils for Rich on Warriors: Jailbreak at Dabel Brothers, which I got involved with because Rich and I go way back from his days at Dark Horse. When Dabel acquired the rights to Warriors, Rich had heard me vocalize my interest in doing Warriors material enough times that he approached me (and my collaborators Erik Henriksen and Herb Apon) to make a pitch. Fast forward a few years later when Dynamite Entertainment acquired Dabel’s properties, including Jailbreak, and Rich (who was now editing for Dynamite) said he thought I’d be appropriate for a new book they were doing called Cry Wolf and asked if I would be interested in sending them a few tryout pages. I did, and the author of Cry Wolf [Patricia Briggs] chose me out of the handful of artists they were considering for the book!

    TFAW.com: Have you read the books at all?

    TH: I had not read the books before embarking on the material. I had heard of Patricia Briggs and the character Mercy Thompson, but Cry Wolf and Anna and Charles were new to me. Since I started the book I’ve read Cry Wolf and Hunting Ground, they’re great!

    Todd Herman's Original "Anna Latham" Character Design
    Todd Herman's Original "Anna Latham" Character Design

    TFAW.com: What was the most challenging part of designing the different characters?

     

    TH: Ha! Well . . . designing the characters was a lot of fun, I think the only real incongruity was that the tryout pages I did were based on the covers of the novels, other than that I was going on very little knowledge of the characters. However, once I got the job, read the script, and read the first novel, I realized that Anna was a much more subtle character than the one portrayed on the cover of the books, I love those covers, but she looks like a larger-than-life superhero on them, and that wasn’t really going to work for the very human aspect of the story we were trying to tell inside the book.

    Also, I had to pay special attention to the height and size of the characters. Patty is pretty specific that Charles and Sam are very tall in the books, while Asil, Anna, and Bran are considerably shorter. Dressing them all in Western wear that said more Montana then Texas was a fun challenge! Oh, and also I had to sync up some of my character designs with that of artist Amelia Woo, who is drawing the Mercy Thompson comics. Certain characters cross over, and I had to make sure I was on the same page as she was.

    TFAW.com: Was it difficult to draw all of the wolves? How did you prepare for that?

    TH: Drawing animals is definitely not my forte–it took me a long time just to learn human anatomy–and previously, when I’d had to draw dogs or horses or birds in a comic or animation, it was usually just for a panel, if that, so it was easy to Google an image that I could crib from. But with this book, the wolf counterparts of the characters are a major part of the book, so I had to really break down wolf/dog anatomy, not to mention learn how in the world to draw fur, and make sure it didn’t look like I was just copying a photograph.

    Todd Herman's Revised "Anna Latham" Character Design
    Todd Herman's Revised "Anna Latham" Character Design

    In particular, it made me really admire all over again guys like Arthur Adams who can draw any animal on the planet just as expertly as his best drawings of Batman, She Hulk, or Wolverine. In fact I remember one of the very first conventions I went to when I was trying to break in, I’d shown Arthur a pin-up of the Challengers of the Unknown that I’d drawn, where one of them was riding an elephant. I was really, really proud of that drawing, and the first thing out of his mouth was, “You really don’t know anything about drawing elephants, do you?” Ha! He was right!

     

    TFAW.com: How do you differentiate between all of the wolves, to make them recognizable?

    TH: Mostly it’s through size and color. Most of the wolves are a variation on the same basic structure but have specific markings or eye color, according to Patty’s books. I made up a list of the wolves for my editor to give to the colorist early on, being specific, for instance, that this one has a silver tail, or black paws, or that when they’re using their magic their eyes are blue, or yellow. And then I’ll usually send a diagram of a page for my editor to forward to the colorist, labeling who each wolf on each page is so the colorist can keep track!

    TFAW.com: Did you draw inspiration from any other artists for this?

    TH: Well, I initially looked real carefully at Mike Mignola’s Wolves of St. August, mostly just to see how he drew his werewolves. But Mike’s so iconic and stylized that it’s good to study him and then step away–if I tried to draw like him I’d just make a fool out of myself. After that my inspiration was Alex Toth’s romance stories from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, which I’m fanatical for. This book, despite having werewolves, is primarily a romance, and nobody but nobody did romance like Toth.

    In particular, I looked at the way he drew facial expressions and body language, the way he could draw a look of longing for another on a person’s face, the subtlety when their hands would touch, and of course, the way he drew a kiss. Best kisses in comics, hands down. I love how the man would place his hands on a woman’s face as he kissed them, almost holding her head counterclockwise and upside down. Really, deeply moving stuff. Toth could upstage Klimpt when it came to drawing an embrace, in my opinion.

    Todd Herman's "Charles Cornick" Character Design
    Todd Herman's "Charles Cornick" Character Design

    Oddly enough, my other inspiration was Jim Steranko, who I’m in the process of rediscovering. When Marvel reprinted his graphically innovative Nick Fury books in the ’80s I snapped ’em up, and included among the reprints was a rarely seen gem, a romance story he did with Stan Lee called My Heart Broke in Hollywood, which I’ve always loved. When I got assigned Cry Wolf, I remembered that story, which I hadn’t seen in years, and I dug it out and fell in love all over again. In particular, the flat line approach of the drawing, the graphic design-inspired stylization of the women, and the very dreamy quality of the page layouts . . . Steranko, baby!!! Do yourselves a favor and look him up if you’ve never seen his work, his influence is more pervasive than ever in modern comics. Plus Stan’s dialogue on My Heart Broke in Hollywood is so corny and hilarious even for him, it’s gotta be read to be believed!

     

    TFAW.com: Why do you think people love werewolves so much right now?

    TH: Do people love werewolves right now? I’d assumed the enduring fad was and always will be vampires! Good question, I think that werewolves are a classic. Like Dracula, Godzilla, and Frankenstein, they’re probably the most easily recognized and most enduring of monsters, and can be interpreted any number of ways, and I’m sure that the romantic interpretation of them is always going to be popular, plus if you’re going to have the power to turn into any animal, well . . . a dog is probably too much of a pet, horses are generally too big and limited in an emotional setting, and fish, lizards, and birds have less emotional range.

    I don’t know, wolves are sexy and slightly dangerous, they have an edge! My own view on the enduring human fascination with werewolves is that it boils down to a evolutionary fear of predatory animals, despite being at the top of the food chain, coupled with our own human fear deep down psychologically that we’re animals, too. That’s a concept that in my opinion many humans have trouble coming to grips with, especially considering how we’ve treated animals historically as well as in our everyday lives.

    Todd Herman's "Asil" Character Design
    Todd Herman's "Asil" Character Design

    TFAW.com: You’ve done several horror comics in the past, including The Fog and Cut, but this is more like a horror-romance comic. What changes to your style did that require, if any?

     

    TH: Considering that the bulk of my work so far has been horror, Westerns, fantasy/adventure, or something along those lines, this book wasn’t too much of a stretch, coupled with my aforementioned love of romance comics!

    TFAW.com: What were your favorite comics, growing up?

    TH: All of them. Seriously. Charles Schultz, newspaper comics, Spider-Man, anything by Gil Kane, Curt Swan’s Superman. Anything by Bill Mantlo, his and Michael Golden’s Micronauts were pretty huge. I know everyone likes to cite EC and Warren, but when I was a kid I loved going to the barber shop because they had copies of The Witching Hour, House of Mystery, The Unexpected, Secrets of Sinister House, etc. I have enduring fond memories of discovering Frank Miller’s Daredevil, and Matt Murdoch’s heroism despite his ever-disastrous love life.

    TFAW.com: You’ve been involved with comics and animation for years now. Do you have any advice for fledgling artists?

    TH: Oof. That’s an interview in and of itself. If you show your work to a professional, try to keep your mouth shut and really listen, and take criticism well, which can really be hard, but it’s an essential part of the territory. You don’t have to agree with every bit of advice they give you, but if they’re working and you’re not, then they know something you don’t, therefore you have something to learn from them. Try to develop a simplified, pared-down style for your layouts, so that you can really get the storytelling down and firing on all cylinders before you dig in with the fun dessert part of the drawing. There’s nothing more frustrating than working really hard on a finished drawing that you’re patting yourself on the back for, but then realizing the structure of the storytelling is unsound.

    Todd Herman's "Sam" Character Design
    Todd Herman's "Sam" Character Design

    If you work in mainstream comics, your editor will make you fix it, no matter how pretty your rendering is in any given panel. Beyond that, I’d say learn to draw the figure, you’ll never regret it. Try to be versatile in your style approach: different stories require varied ways of thinking. One aspect of comics that’s super cool and not to be taken for granted is that if there’s a cartoonist out there who inspires you, there’s a good chance they’re accessible, and you’ll get at least a minute or two to meet them at a signing or convention. Use that time to pick their brain, find out how they did what they did and got to be where they are, and read any and all interviews that are available. Experience life, get out of your safety zone both as a person and an artist, learn to at least appreciate the work that is diametrically opposed to yours, and it will only enrich what you are already trying to do. There’s a great Alan Moore quote I once read, “Don’t be cool. Like everything.”

     

    TFAW.com: If you could do a creator-owned book, what would it be?

    TH: Oh gosh! I’d like to do at least one original supernatural horror graphic novel in my lifetime, and one comedy graphic novel as well. My two favorite genres are comedy and horror, and I love that, to a certain extent, you can gauge their success very simply: Is it scary? Did the audience scream? Was it funny? Did the audience laugh? I’d also like to do an anthology of horror short stories, that sounds like a lot of fun. When I was growing up it seemed like superheroes were the only option for paying comics work, now it seems like the field’s more accepting to diversity, which is a dream come true! I remember thinking as a kid, wouldn’t it be cool to just draw horror comics for a living, which seemed about as realistic as flying to the moon with a jet pack that runs on Jell-O! Nowadays the field has changed, and that doesn’t seem so unrealistic. I don’t know, we’ll see!

    TFAW.com: What other projects are you working on?

    Todd Herman's "Bran" Character Design
    Todd Herman's "Bran" Character Design

    TH: Right now, I pretty much only have time for Cry Wolf, and I’ll be doing that book up until the spring, far as I know. I finished Warriors: Jailbreak not long ago, and hopefully that’ll be out soon, that book’s been a dream come true. Beyond that, I’d be up for more Cry Wolf if the opportunity arises. I have no idea what Dynamite’s plans are for further material, but that seems like a natural next step I’d be open to. Looks like I might be squeezing in some commercial stop-action animation work some time after the holidays, but we’ll see. Beyond that, depending on my schedule, I’ve been batting around ideas with one of my oldest partners in crime for an original horror graphic novel, or an adaptation of a very old classic horror story that is now in the public domain, but I don’t want to say any more than that for fear of jinxing it! Stay tuned!

     

    We want to thank Todd Herman for taking a break from drawing to answer all of our questions. Make sure to pre-order Patricia Briggs’ Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf comics here and save 20%!

    READ OUR INTERVIEW WITH CRY WOLF WRITER DAVID LAWRENCE

    PRE-ORDER PATRICIA BRIGGS’ ALPHA & OMEGA: CRY WOLF AND SAVE 20%

    VISIT OUR DYNAMITE MONTH PAGE

    Are Herman’s character designs for Cry Wolf on the nose? Post your comments below!

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  • Patricia Briggs’ Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf Returns With David Lawrence

    Patricia Briggs Alpha & Omega Cry Wolf ComicsWe first spoke with writer David Lawrence about Patricia Briggs’ Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf back in 2009. An adaptation of Briggs’ popular werewolf series, the comic book was scheduled to be released by Dabel Brothers, the publisher that had also released adaptations of Briggs’ Mercy Thompson books. Plans hit a snag when Dabel Brothers ceased production, but the project was picked up by Dynamite Entertainment, which released issue #1 back in 2010.

    Since then, fans have been eagerly awaiting the next installment of the adventures of werewolves (and mates) Anna and Charles, and their patience is about to pay off! The revamped series returns with issue #2 (titled, fittingly enough, “Second Chances”) next month, featuring longtime Patricia Briggs collaborator David Lawrence and a brand-new artist, Todd Herman. We interviewed Lawrence as part of Dynamite Month, and he explained why the series went on hiatus, whether new readers will be able to jump right in, and why it’s now better than ever. Plus, we have a five-page preview of Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf #2 to enjoy!

    TFAW.com: It’s been quite awhile since the first issue of Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf was released.

    David Lawrence: It sure has. Long enough to have a baby, I think. And sometimes it seemed like giving birth might have been simpler. But I think it was worth the wait.

    TFAW.com: Will new readers be able to jump right in?

    DL: God, I hope so. I’ve certainly done my best to structure the story that way. It’s a fine line, giving the reader the essential information while not bogging things down with a long recap. I’ve tried to be creative about it. I’d say if you haven’t seen the first issue, don’t be afraid, come on in. And if you have seen the first issue, the extra time and work has resulted in a much better, more entertaining comic.

    Alpha & Omega Cry Wolf #2 Page 1TFAW.com: a specific reason for the long delay?

    DL: Nobody likes to admit this about their work, but that first issue was not very good. More than anybody else I have to take responsibility for that. I can give you a lot of reasons. It was published by Dynamite, but the book was produced in the dying days of Dabel Brothers Publishing, and there was a lot going on. I was spending a lot of time trying to get business matters straightened out, for myself and other creators. I think, unfortunately, the book reflected that.

    I’m grateful that instead of simply killing the project, or continuing down the wrong road, the nice folks at Dynamite chose a different path. They took a lot of time and spent a lot of money to get it right.

    The scripts are 100% better because I got to focus on this instead of the business problems at DBP. The art is really wonderful and really unique. Todd Herman has this kind of Mike Ploog-Mike Mignola type of vibe that is perfect for this book. He wasn’t the safe choice, but he was the right choice, in my opinion. I feel bad for the original artist and I’m not saying the problems with the book were his fault. But this is comics, and part of starting over is inevitably giving the book a different look.

    We’ve even done a new issue #1, by the way, but for a variety of complicated, contractual types of reasons, it will only appear in the graphic novel, not as a single issue.

    Whew! You still awake after that answer?

    TFAW.com: How much input does Patricia Briggs have with these adaptations?

    DL: I hope it doesn’t sound flip if I say “As much as she wants,” but that really is the answer. First, these are Patty’s stories and Patty’s characters. I’m adapting them pretty faithfully and what Patty says goes. She reads everything. She looks at all the artwork. Patty and I have worked together for about three years now. Cry Wolf is our third trip to the park together. She understands very well the difference between telling a story in words and telling it with pictures, and I appreciate and am touched that she has a great deal of trust in me both as a writer and as a person who has the best interests of her characters at heart.

    Alpha & Omega Cry Wolf #2 Page 2If Patty is very busy and everything is good she might not say a word, or she might just send thanks to me or the artist. But if she sees something that needs to be fixed, it gets fixed.

    TFAW.com: One of your previous adaptations, Mercy Thompson: Moon Called has been collected in graphic novel form. What was the most memorable part of working on that project?

    DL: From a selfish point of view, it might have been the moment Patty told me she liked my ending to the story better than hers. Coming from a writer of her ability that’s quite a compliment.

    But in reality I’d say it was working with Amelia and watching her grow as an artist and a storyteller. I always felt that our first Mercy series, Homecoming, wasn’t really a fair reflection of her ability. She jumped on board halfway through with no time to prepare, and the artist switch left her facing just impossible deadlines. I’m glad she got a fair chance to show what she can do.

    And what she can do is just gorgeous. I can give her descriptions like “the wolf looks confused” and she just nails it. What the hell does a confused wolf look like? I have no idea when I write that down. But time and again Amelia figures it out.

    TFAW.com: What resonates with you about her books?

    DL: I’m really a character guy more than a detailed plotter. For me, the story flows from the characters, not vice-versa. So it’s really her characterizations that most appeal to me. I have a reaction to her characters. Some of them I like very much. Mercy, of course. Zee, the metal-working gremlin, is another favorite. But even her villains are real enough to me that I understand them. Usually I pity them more than I hate them.

    Alpha & Omega Cry Wolf #2 Page 3TFAW.com: So many of the characters in Mercy Thompson’s world aren’t quite what they seem: they have hidden sides and personas. Even Mercy herself is a bit of a dichotomy! How do you keep track of these complex characters?

    DL: Part of the answer is that I keep it simple. I don’t look too far ahead. People are surprised when I tell them I read the novels one at a time. At this point Moon Called is the only novel in the Mercy series I’ve read. Cry Wolf is the only novel in the Alpha & Omega series I’ve read, and the opening novella, of course. Characters grow and change over time. If I’ve got the Mercy and Adam of book four in my head it’s tough to go back and write the Mercy of book one.

    But the bigger part of the answer is that Patty creates well-rounded, compelling characters who are easy to keep straight in my head. Even the walk on parts are distinctive enough that you remember them.

    TFAW.com: Patricia’s Alpha & Omega books have a lot more romance than her Mercy Thompson books, which you’ve also adapted for comics. How does that affect your creative process?

    DL: I don’t think my work is affected so much by the presence of a love story at the core as it is by the fact that this is a story with two co-equal lead characters. In Moon Called and the Mercy books, Mercy Thompson is the star. Here I have to give roughly equal weight to two characters and two points of view. That can be tricky. But on the other hand, it’s easier sometimes when you have two characters who can talk to each other instead of one operating alone.

    But even beyond that, I think this is more of an ensemble book than the Mercy series. I’m not saying it’s the Justice Society of Werewolves, but there are several other characters who play very large, key roles in the story.

    TFAW.com: Can you introduce Cry Wolf‘s Anna and Charles?

    Alpha & Omega Cry Wolf #2 Page 4DL: Anna and Charles are really polar opposites. Charles was born a werewolf, which makes him a one-of-a-kind creature in Patty’s world. Werewolves are made, not born. It took a great deal of love and magic to make it happen. Everything about being a wolf comes very naturally to him and he is very good at it all. He’s powerful and dominating, but maybe because of his uniqueness he’s always stood just a bit apart from everybody else.

    Anna was changed to a werewolf against her will, a major no-no among the wolves of Patty’s world. It’s a crime comparable to rape to change someone without their permission. And that was only the beginning of the abuse she faced in a renegade wolf pack. She was rescued by Charles and is just beginning to learn about herself. As a wolf and as a woman.

    TFAW.com: How well do they function as a couple, and how does their relationship affect the flow of the story?

    DL: Not very well at all, at least at first. They’ve kind of been thrown together. Charles is a loner. Anna is scarred and scared. It will take them some time to grow accustomed to each other. Even to the idea of each other. But this being good drama, in the end their fate, and the fates of others, will depend on their ability to do so.

    TFAW.com: What are the differences between an Alpha and an Omega wolf?

    DL: An Alpha is territorial, aggressive if threatened, used to being in command. An Omega is not really the opposite of an Alpha. That would be a submissive. An Omega more, and it seems like I keep coming back to this, stands apart. She doesn’t take orders. She doesn’t give orders. She has strong protective instincts without an appetite for aggression.

    TFAW.com: What makes an Omega wolf so valuable?

    Alpha & Omega Cry Wolf #2 Page 5DL: Omegas are very rare. A werewolf could live centuries without encountering one. They are natural peacemakers. They have a sort of mystical ability to smooth discord. This could be a very valuable gift in the violent world of a wolfpack. Despite being functionally immortal, by human standards, most werewolves don’t live very long because they have the nasty habit of fighting and killing each other. Someone like Anna could bring that to an end.

    TFAW.com: Why do you think no one recognized Anna’s status before Charles?

    DL: Actually, her status was recognized. She was transformed precisely because the Alpha of her first pack had use for her special abilities. But he also found it useful to keep Anna in the dark.

    TFAW.com: Anna is different than a lot of take-charge heroines; she’d been victimized for years by her pack before being rescued by Charles. How do you prepare to write a character like that?

    DL: Anna is no pushover. Just because she’s not spoiling for a fight doesn’t mean she won’t stand up for herself. Or others. She’s been through a lot, but there is a spine of iron in that girl. It’s just going to take her a while to discover it.

    TFAW.com: What are the major differences between writing for Mercy and Anna?

    DL: The biggest difference goes back to something I already mentioned. Mercy is a solo act. For all of the strong supporting cast she is the single star of the show. With Anna and Charles we’ve got two characters sharing the spotlight. Their interaction takes center stage more than either of them as a lone character does.

    TFAW.com: In Cry Wolf, a rogue werewolf is slaughtering humans. Do human know about werewolves in this world? If so, how do they typically relate to each other?

    Patricia Briggs Alpha & Omega Cry Wolf ComicsDL: Humans don’t know about werewolves. Yet. One of the underpinnings of Cry Wolf and Moon Called is that the Alpha of the whole North American continent realizes they can’t keep the secret much longer. He knows he has to go public but it’s a matter of when and how.

    TFAW.com: First vampires had a pop-culture resurgence, thanks to books like Twilight, and now it seems like werewolves are more popular than ever. What do you think people find so appealing about werewolves?

    DL: Seems like in troubled times humans often turn to monsters. Consider that the whole classic Universal cycle of Frankenstein, Wolfman, and Dracula began in some of the darkest days of the Great Depression.

    It’s almost a cliche to say that we are drawn to the monsters not because they are different, but because of what they reveal about ourselves. Werewolves are really sort of a Jekyll and Hyde story on steroids. We all have that stuff that we try to keep bottled up, and we fear that it might explode sometimes. We fear the loss of control. Maybe these stories help us to understand and embrace it.

    Or maybe I just talk too much. Never dismiss that possibility.

    TFAW.com: Are you and Patricia planning to bring the other books in her Alpha & Omega series to comics?

    DL: I have a hard time imagining not working with Patty. She’s a great writer and a better person. I can’t imagine her characters not having a bright future in comic books and I hope to be a part of that for a long time.

    We want to thank David for taking the time to answer all of our questions. You can pre-order Patricia Briggs’ Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf comics here at TFAW.com and save 20%! Plus, stay tuned to our exclusive interview with Cry Wolf artist Todd Herman this Friday, in which he shares some behind-the-scenes details, including his original character designs!

    PRE-ORDER PATRICIA BRIGGS’ ALPHA & OMEGA: CRY WOLF AND SAVE 20%

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    Are you a Patricia Briggs fan? Are you excited to see Cry Wolf in comic-book form? Post your comments below!

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  • Stuart Manning and Aaron Campbell Bring Dark Shadows Back to Life

    Dark Shadows ComicsTake a look at recent popular vampire epics, like Twilight, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Vampire Diaries, and ponder their essential elements. Conflicted vampires? Check. Steamy human-vampire romance? Check. Ancestors who conveniently look just like their modern-day counterparts? Check. (Well, maybe just The Vampire Diaries.) You might never have watched the seminal 1960s vampire soap opera, Dark Shadows, but if you love any of today’s vampire tales, you’re already a fan and just don’t know it yet.

    Dark Shadows started out as a fairly conventional gothic soap opera, but it caught fire with the introduction of mysterious vampire Barnabas Collins. Debuting as a scary, menacing monster, Collins fell in love and was slowly redeemed, eventually becoming a heroic figure. With its wide cast of characters, jumps through time, and high drama, Dark Shadows directly influenced every vampire tale that came after. However, after 1,200-plus episodes, the show was cancelled by ABC, because it appealed to a younger audience that wasn’t as valuable to advertisers in the ’60s and ’70s (my, how times have changed!).

    However, fandom simply didn’t allow Dark Shadows to die out. Much like with cult hits like Star Trek, fans have been busy putting together conventions, festivals, and websites devoted to their favorite show, keeping interest alive and recruiting new fans. Now it’s paying off: not only is there an upcoming movie starring Johnny Depp, but Dynamite Entertainment is launching an original Dark Shadows comic book series, helmed by Dark Shadows New Page editor and writer Stuart Manning and Green Hornet Year One artist Aaron Campbell. Not only did we get to interview them for Dynamite Month, below, but they threw in an exclusive five-page preview of Dark Shadows #1! Plus, enter our Dark Shadows Contest for your chance to win one of 10 sets of Dark Shadows #1, including the standard, variant, and rare incentive covers!

    TFAW.com: Stuart, as editor of the Dark Shadows News Page, you’re uniquely qualified to be writing the new Dark Shadows comics. How did you originally become interested in the show?

    Dark Shadows #1 Page 1Stuart Manning: I first discovered Dark Shadows as a teenager in the 1990s, initially through magazine articles and the old tie-in paperbacks. At that point, it had never been broadcast here in England, but the concept seemed endlessly fascinating to me, to the point where I felt like I was a fan without ever having seen the show. I always liked spooky things and this just seemed like my ideal television series . . . with the small complication of not being able to actually see it!

    In 1995, when Sci-Fi Channel launched a European version, Dark Shadows was one of their launch shows, and for this viewer, it was like a dream come true–all those characters, who I’d read so much about, on screen and alive and real. I was hooked pretty much immediately.

    TFAW.com: When did you start the Dark Shadows News Page, and what does editing it involve?

    SM: My association with Dark Shadows fandom goes back over 15 years, starting with editing a fanzine, the Dark Shadows Journal, produced with scissors and glue, photocopied and hand-stapled. That eventually evolved into a website, at www.collinwood.net and lately, the Dark Shadows News Page, a blog that I’ve written over the last few years.

    The focus is news from the Dark Shadows world, but really it’s just a general platform for me to celebrate all things Dark Shadows. That can encompass anything from reviews to interviews, to commentary to rare photographs . . . Anything related to the show that I think other fans will enjoy. Pay a visit at darkshadowsnews.blogspot.com

    TFAW.com: What would you say to comics readers who have never watched Dark Shadows? Why should they pick up the comics?

    SM: If you like classic horror and mystery stories, then this series is tremendous fun. It’s good old-fashioned intrigue, with thrills and spills, a big spooky old house, a tortured vampire, a dangerous witch, ghosts and more besides. Dark Shadows, at its heart, is a very potent distillation of that whole gothic genre, mixed up with some ’60s retro charm.

    Dark Shadows #1 Page 2TFAW.com: Vampires are more popular than ever these days, with Twilight, Buffy, and The Vampire Diaries. Where does Dark Shadows fit in?

    SM: Dark Shadows is really the primary text where those shows are concerned. It was the first successful vampire series on television, and Barnabas Collins was the first enduring vampire character created for the small screen. He was also the first real exploration of the reluctant vampire concept, which all those shows have drawn upon.

    Even after all these years, I think Dark Shadows stands as one of the most high-concept shows ever made. They really did do everything in those five years–vampires, werewolves, witches, time travel, parallel universes . . . you name it. Kevin Williamson, the creator of The Vampire Diaries, has cited the influence of Dark Shadows many times, so there’s a very definite lineage between those shows.

    TFAW.com: The show aired for a relatively short time, but it has lived on through its fans for years–much like other genre shows like Star Trek. What do you think appeals to fans the most?

    SM: That’s difficult to say, really. Dark Shadows fans are incredibly staunch, and perhaps that’s down to its original soap opera format. That first generation of fans really did live with those characters day-to-day, for years in some cases. So even though the shows themselves were sometimes primitive, those characters truly did become real people in real situations. The storylines were often outlandish, but somehow those characters had an integrity and depth that anchored the whole thing.

    At its best, it was a brilliant fusion of personalities and performance with great vivid plotlines. I never had the chance to experience the show as a child, but I dearly would have loved to have done so. Discovering it in my teens in the 1990s, Dark Shadows fired my imagination like nothing else . . . to an impressionable eight-year-old, it must have simply been mind blowing.

    Dark Shadows #1 Page 3TFAW.com: Is your series based on the original show or the upcoming movie with Johnny Depp?

    SM: It’s based on the original series, set a short while after the original episodes ended. So it’s summer 1971, and in a remote fishing village on the Maine coast, dark forces are once again stirring in the house of Collinwood . . .

    TFAW.com: Will readers who have never watched the show be able to catch on right away?

    SM: Yes, absolutely. The first issue is very much a jumping-on point. We meet all the characters and discover what’s going on in their lives as the story unfolds.

    With a show like Dark Shadows, plus over 1,200 episodes worth of backstory to contend with, when starting out, it’s pretty essential to make things inclusive. We have a rich history and characters, and though there are little details that will have special resonance for long-term fans, hopefully first-time readers can pick up the threads and enjoy it as something new, without feeling left behind.

    TFAW.com: There are so many characters from so many different time periods in the original Dark Shadows. Which characters will you focus on at the start?

    SM: We’re trying to focus on the characters who will feature in the movie, as that makes obvious commercial sense. So that’s the classic line-up of the Collins family, plus Barnabas Collins, our vampire, and his confidante and would-be love interest Dr. Julia Hoffman. I think it’s great that the new film is focusing on that strange, functionally dysfunctional family with all their secrets and shared history. So we’ll be concentrating on these characters to begin with, hopefully expanding to include additional faces as things progress.

    I didn’t want to feature everyone from the offset–it’s nice to have room to let things grow, and introduce readers gradually to our community of personalities. Already, even though it’s early days, I can think of plenty of ways to include the broader cast as things progress.

    Dark Shadows #1 Page 4TFAW.com: Which characters are your personal favorites?

    SM: Barnabas Collins, our vampire, obviously. People have often referred to Barnabas as a reluctant vampire, but I actually think of him more as a neurotic vampire. Whether it’s dealing with the latest supernatural onslaught or looking for love, very little in Barnabas’ life doesn’t end in angst and self doubt.

    It’s great having a lead character who isn’t necessarily a nice guy, and his never-ending will-they-won’t-they relationship with Dr. Julia Hoffman is great fun to write. That’s a very curious, co-dependent dynamic, blurring the lines between doctor, patient, friend and more besides. Of our wider cast, I’m also very fond of Carolyn Stoddard, our younger female lead. She’s an interesting personality . . . when we join her she’s somewhere between a little girl lost and wild child. Growing up with her odd family with all their baggage, she’s emerged headstrong and a little spoiled, but still tries to be normal and grounded in spite of everything.

    TFAW.com: Do you have a special episode?

    SM: It’s a bit of an obvious one, but I’m very fond of Barnabas’ first proper appearance . . . episode 212, since you asked. Even 40 years on, I find it has a really intriguing atmosphere all of its own. Barnabas arrives at Collinwood, and with the combination of writing and Jonathan Frid’s performance, it genuinely does feel as if he’s stepped in from another world. I watch that today and I can totally see why that character made such an immediate impact.

    TFAW.com: There was an attempted reboot of Dark Shadows back in the 1990s that was short-lived–why do you think it didn’t catch on?

    SM: The NBC remake of Dark Shadows was dealt a real blow by debuting on the cusp of the Gulf War conflict. Between widespread news pre-emptions and other factors, it was a very chaotic environment in which to launch any show, let alone a serial with a dense ongoing plot and a large cast of characters. In different circumstances, it might have really caught on.

    That said, even in its short lifespan, the revival series developed its own identity and produced some strong episodes. The finale instalment is genuinely thrilling in places. Had it survived into a second season, I think it really would have spread its wings.

    Dark Shadows #1 Page 5TFAW.com: How did you come to work with Dynamite Entertainment?

    SM: I’d done a lot of work for Dark Shadows, both as a fan and on a professional basis, so when the possibility of doing comic books was mentioned, I was really interested to get involved. Here was an opportunity to create a new series using the classic cast exactly how they appeared on television and potentially take them into whole new realms. That was immensely exciting, from both a professional and fan perspective, and after writing some treatments we were up-and-running.

    TFAW.com: How far ahead have you plotted the Dark Shadows comics?

    SM: So far, we’ve plotted the initial story, which will play out over four issues, and have just started looking beyond that. I don’t want to jinx things by thinking too far ahead, but I’ve included some details on the sidelines in the opening chapters, which may well be explored in the future. We have such a great cast of characters–any one of them could be the lead for a story, and once they’re established, we can really take this series any place we want to.

    TFAW.com: What other projects are you working on right now?

    SM: My day job as a designer keeps me pretty busy, working on the art desk of the BBC’s Radio Times magazine. I also do various bits and pieces for the world of Doctor Who, along with other Dark Shadows stuff, so lots of stuff going on. It’s a very exciting time!

    TFAW.com: Aaron, there’s a fantastic moody, noir aesthetic to your work. Who were your influences?

    Aaron Campbell: My influences are all over the place. From comics there are artists such as John Paul Leon, Tommy Lee Edwards, Sean Phillips, Kirby, and Bernie Wrightson. From the mainstream of illustration I was always drawn to the classical illustrators from the first part the of the 20th century, people like N.C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle, Robert Fawcett, Leyendecker, Dore, etc. And then there are great painters like Velasquez, Manet, Rembrandt, Thomas Eakins, Waterhouse, Sargent, and Vermeer.

    TFAW.com: Can you take us through your process as an artist?

    Dark Shadows ComicsAC: I have a pretty complex process but I’ll try to keep it brief. I start with little rough thumbnails. These give the basic idea of what’s happening on a page. From here I shoot reference for all the characters first and use that to draw to a pretty tight, finalized, layout. Once my layouts are ready to go I just continue drawing over those to create my pencils. This way there’s no backtracking or redrawing. At this stage It’s somewhat of a mixed media process as I draw parts freehand and also work on the computer in Photoshop, typically on the backgrounds. The finished pencils is then a digital image that I print out in blue line on heaving stock paper and ink directly over for the finish. From my inks I use a #4 Kolinsky sable brush and India ink.

    TFAW.com: Had you been a fan of the original Dark Shadows show before you took on this project?

    AC: I’d never really seen the original series before now, but I was actually a big fan of the series from 1991, with Ben Cross as Barnabas. I was about 13 years old and I’d never seen anything like it. It only lasted one season but it stuck in my mind ever since. It was a long time before I found out that it was based on a series from the ’60s. Nonetheless, it’s really cool to be working on a property that I liked so much as a kid.

    TFAW.com: What specific elements are you bringing from the show to the comics, if any?

    AC: Everything. The characters, the sets, the continuity, are all directly taken from the original show. I think the last episode was 1245, so it’s almost like this is episode 1246.

    TFAW.com: Have you had to update anything major for a modern audience?

    AC: I think my way of drawing does the trick. I have everything there for the faithful fan, but my own particular sensibilities, hopefully, make it relevant for a new audience.

    TFAW.com: Are you modeling the characters after the original actors?

    AC: Right down to the dimples and warts! Every character is absolutely based directly on the original actors.

    TFAW.com: On the surface, Green Hornet Year One and Dark Shadows seem pretty different, but they both have roots in classic pulp serials. Have you found a lot of common ground while creating the art?

    Dark Shadows ComicsAC: There’s actually a lot in common. Both series are rooted more in reality, with plain-clothed heroes and villains. The places are real world and the mood is dark and gritty. In truth I haven’t had to rethink my style at all.

    TFAW.com: There is a lot of vampire stories out there today. Are you doing anything specific to set Dark Shadows apart, visually?

    AC: Well, I think the source material takes the brunt of that responsibility. Dark Shadows must have been one of the first to bring monsters into the mainstream, right into the home on afternoon TV. It has a flair that is already distinctly its own. It’s just a matter of me getting it right.

    TFAW.com: What are the advantages of working with Dynamite Entertainment?

    AC: The advantage is, I get to do this stuff full time for a living! Ha ha. Actually I’ve built up a great relationship with the guys at Dynamite by now, at least I hope so, and they seem to have a good deal of faith in my abilities, so I have quite a bit of freedom to create the images I envision. Can’t ask for much more than that.

    TFAW.com: What kind of comics did you read when you were growing up?

    AC: X-Men, Wolverine, Spawn, the usual superhero stuff. I had a few outliers like Preacher and Sandman, but for the most part I had a pretty narrow view of what makes a good comic. I stopped collecting, though, once I got to college (couldn’t afford it anymore). Now that I’m back in it I’ve found that my tastes have totally changed. I don’t really go for the mainstream superhero genre, and I’m drawn to a more realistic style of art much more.

    TFAW.com: If you could time travel, like in Dark Shadows, what advice would you give your younger self?

    AC: Even if I could, any advice I might be able to offer I wouldn’t have listened to.

    TFAW.com: What types of comics would you like to work on in the future? What’s next?

    AC: Even though I’m not a big fan of superhero stuff now, I would actually really like to try my hand at some. Other than that, I’ll just take it as it comes and see what happens.

    Our thanks to Stuart and Aaron for taking the time to answer all of our questions! You can pre-order the new Dark Shadows comics right here on our site. Plus, don’t forget to enter to win one of 10 sets of Dark Shadows #1. Each set includes the standard, variant, and rare incentive covers, so visit our Dark Shadows Contest Page now!

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  • Writer Sterling Gates Introduces Us to Kirby: Genesis Captain Victory

    Kirby: Genesis Captain VictoryIt’s Kirby: Genesis week here on the blog, with interviews with writer Kurt Busiek and artist Alex Ross, and today’s excellent interview with Sterling Gates, writer of Dynamite Entertainment’s upcoming Kirby: Genesis Captain Victory series. Based on the legendary Jack Kirby’s original creations, Captain Victory tells the story of a rebel captain determined to overthrow an evil overlord–who just happens to be his own grandfather!

    Gates is a natural choice for a large-scale superhero epic: he’s been soaking in comics since he was young, first at his father’s comic shop, then as a comic shop employee, and later as Geoff Johns’ personal assistant and protegee. After well-received stints on Kid Flash and Supergirl, Gates is now heading up two high-profile superhero gigs: not only is he writing Captain Victory, but he’s also the pen behind DC’s new Hawk & Dove series.

    We chatted Gates up as part of Dynamite Month and got the inside scoop on what it’s like to walk in Jack Kirby’s footsteps, the essential elements of a great superhero story, and what he’s tackling next! Plus, enjoy an exclusive five-page preview of Kirby: Genesis Captain Victory #1, out this November!

    TFAW.com: Can you introduce us to Kirby: Genesis Captain Victory?

    Sterling Gates: Kirby Genesis: Captain Victory is the first series spinning off of Dynamite’s hugely successful series Kirby: Genesis! Our series focuses on characters Jack Kirby actually wrote and drew in his own lifetime, a crew of Galactic Rangers that are lead by an enigmatic captain named Victory. Kirby’s book lasted for 13 issues in the early 1980s before he put it to bed, and we’re taking Victory’s story and reloading it for a modern audience while still retaining the characters and flavors of Kirby’s work.

    Kirby: Genesis Captain Victory #1 Page 1TFAW.com: Who is Captain Victory? Where does he come from, and what does he want?

    SG: Captain Victory is the grandson of the most malevolent and horrible character in the galaxy, a despot named Blackmass. Victory was raised to take over the family business, but–for reasons unknown–Victory opted to leave Blackmass and join the Galactic Rangers in an effort to train them to fight his grandfather.

    Imagine if the grandson of Hitler decided to join the US Army to train them to fight the Nazis. Victory knows all of Blackmass’ tricks and tactics, and he’s been quietly showing them to the Galactic Rangers for years. Victory thinks of himself as the frontline against his grandfather, and it’s up to him to destroy Blackmass once and for all. So, lots of big action and family politics in this book!

    TFAW.com: What’s it like bringing a Jack Kirby character to life?

    SG: It’s pretty damn exciting, to be honest. Dynamite has been great in that they’ve let me sort of take my own approach to these characters, so I’m really working on fleshing out all of the characters in the book in new and exciting ways. Kirby was really great at presenting his characters on a large-scale canvas, but he left a lot of details wide open. We’re hoping to fill in those details even as we present a new, modern canvas. To stretch that analogy! [laughs]

    TFAW.com: What do you think readers are going to be surprised by?

    Kirby: Genesis Captain Victory #1 Page 2SG: I think they’re going to be surprised by just how far Victory is willing to go to stop Blackmass and his forces. Victory’s a hero, yes, but since he knows what his grandfather is capable of and he’s not bound by a personal moral code, he will oftentimes cross lines most heroes wouldn’t. Which usually gets him in trouble with Galactic Command. Think of Mal Reynolds from Firefly. He does his best to be a good man, but he’s willing to kick guys into the engines if it suits the greater good of his crew. Victory is similar, but he’s dealing with things on a much bigger scale. He’s willing to kill if it will save a planet, and he’s willing to kill a planet if it will save the galaxy.

    TFAW.com: There are three Kirby: Genesis books in the works now–are they standalone series, or is it a crossover?

    SG: They’re meant to be standalone. Victory certainly is, though at some point we’ll be picking up some threads from Kirby: Genesis and running with them. I haven’t had a chance to talk to editorial or Jai Nitz or Robert Rodi yet, but I wouldn’t rule an eventual big crossover out. It seems like if we’re going to be moving forward in this universe, a crossover would help get people interested in all of the books. I think it’d be fun to do one. When I wrote Supergirl for DC Comics, I was part of a mega-crossover called New Krypton. It was always a lot of fun figuring out how all the books intertwined and making everything in all of our stories relevant to the big picture across two years.

    I’m not suggesting we do anything on that scale for the Kirby-verse, but I think it’d be fun to see what all of these different characters do when thrown back together after Kirby: Genesis is over!

    Kirby: Genesis Captain Victory #1 Page 3TFAW.com: You literally grew up with comics, since your dad owned a comic shop. How does this affect your perspective of the comic book industry?

    SG: Hm. I’m not entirely sure, actually. I’ve always been around comics or been a part of a comics “scene.” I honestly don’t know what it would be like for me to not be involved with comics in some way. We had the store when I was a kid, I was the weekend manager for a store called Speeding Bullet Books and Comics when I was in college, and my second job in Hollywood was as Geoff Johns’ personal assistant. So there’s always been a big connection to comics in my life one way or another. I think it helps a creator to have an idea what the retail side is like, and I think it helps a retailer to have some insight on what the creative side is like. The two sides support and feed one another in a (for the most part) perfect symbiosis.

    TFAW.com: What were your favorite comics growing up?

    SG: The Flash, Batman, Uncanny X-Men (or any book with Marvel character, Longshot), New Mutants/X-Force, Spider-Man, JLA, Starman, Pitt, Superman, New Teen Titans (which then became New Titans!), and D.P.7.

    TFAW.com: You’ve exclusively written superhero comics thus far–what are your must-have elements for a great superhero series?

    SG: Relatable characters readers can sympathize with that possess honest emotions. You can have all the superheroic, over-the-top action in the world, but the emotional core has to be true or else readers won’t care.

    Kirby: Genesis Captain Victory #1 Page 4TFAW.com: With Kirby: Genesis Captain Victory and Hawk & Dove, you’re involved in the birth (or rebirth) of TWO superhero universes. How are they different for you?

    SG: Well, the Kirby-verse was populated by Kirby, so it’s full of these crazy big ideas. Kirby was way, way ahead of his time, and we’re only just now catching up to him. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to look at the iPhone, which is essentially a Motherboxx. It just doesn’t have healing capabilities. Yet.

    A lot of the ideas Kirby put down on paper haven’t been fleshed out, either, so we’re just now getting to fill in his worlds and present them to readers who might not have heard of Captain Victory or Silver Star. That’s one of the many things I really liked about this project, we’re getting a peek into Kirby’s unused concepts and ideas and bringing them out for modern audiences. That’s what sold me on getting involved with this book.

    The DC Universe is still the same universe it’s been, more or less, but with some tweaks here and there. It’s still the same place Batman and Green Lantern have been living for all of these years, it’s just that some things are slightly different. The DC Universe has been around since before I was born, and it’ll be around long after I’m gone.

    TFAW.com: This is your debut title for Dynamite Entertainment–how has the experience been, thus far?

    SG: Fantastic! The guys at Dynamite–especially Nick Barrucci and Joe Rybandt–have been extremely supportive and helpful.

    Kirby: Genesis Captain Victory #1 Page 5Alex Ross and Kurt Busiek have both been directly involved with the Kirby stuff, and getting notes and emails back from them has been really, really exciting for me. I admire their work so much, and it’s really gratifying to be able to work closely with them.

    TFAW.com: What other projects are you excited about?

    SG: Well I’m knee-deep in Hawk & Dove at DC right now, working with one of my childhood heroes, Rob Liefeld. I’m doing a couple little side-projects here and there, too. I wrote a story for an anthology called “The Gathering,” which is on sale on the Grayhaven Comics website, and it was drawn by this phenomenal artist named Cassandra James. I also did a story in the comic anthology Unite and Take Over, which is a bunch of stories inspired by the music of The Smiths. That’s debuting at Tucson Comic-Con in November, I believe. And then I’ve got a couple other projects that I can’t talk about just yet, so please stay tuned. 🙂

    Our thanks to Sterling Gates for finding the time to answer all of our questions–while he was at NYCC, to boot! You can pre-order Kirby: Genesis Captain Victory comics right here at TFAW.com. Plus, remember that during October, you’ll save 35% on all of Dynamite’s October-catalog pre-order comics and graphic novels!

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  • Alex Ross Fills Us in on Kirby: Genesis and His Career at Dynamite Entertainment

    Alex Ross Comics and Graphic NovelsYou know an artist must be good when a publication retires an award in his honor–and that’s exactly what happened after fan-favorite Alex Ross dominated Comics Buyer’s Guide Favorite Painter award year after year.

    Ross burst onto the comics scene in 1994 with the now-classic miniseries Marvels, with writer extraordinaire Kurt Busiek. His realistic-yet-luminous paintings took comics to an exciting new level and delighted fans, who eagerly followed him to other landmark superhero epics like Kingdom Come, Astro City (again with Busiek), and Project Superpowers.

    For years, Ross has created distinctive covers and character designs for Dynamite Entertainment, bringing classic characters like Vampirella, Green Hornet, The Phantom, and the Bionic Man to life. Now he’s working with Busiek once again for the ultimate superhero team up, Kirby: Genesis, reviving dozens of Jack Kirby’s characters in a brand-new universe with co-artist Jackson Herbert. We interviewed Ross for Dynamite Month and picked his brain about how he started in comics, whether he’ll ever do interior work again, and what’s coming up next! Read the interview, and then check out TFAW on Facebook to enter a contest to win one of five Green Hornet variant comics signed by Ross!

    TFAW.com: First off, I wanted to say I’m a big fan of your work. I remember when Marvels came out, and it blew me away. It still has a special place in my heart.

    Alex Ross: Thank you.

    Kirby: Genesis #0 Alex Ross CoverTFAW.com: When did you realize you had a love for painting?

    AR: Mostly in art school. I had very little opportunity in high school art class before to learn much about various paint media, so the classes I took in illustration and oil painting helped me see how painting was my best facility as an artist.

    TFAW.com: Did you originally think you’d be able to use your talent to create comics?

    AR: That’s all I thought I would use my “talent” for. I had such respect for the art form and business that I didn’t expect it to be easy to get into, but it was my grandest desire.

    TFAW.com: Your work, in recent years, has focused on creating covers and designing characters. Do you miss doing full interiors?

    AR: Absolutely. There are a lot of things where I would like to be fully immersed in telling the stories I participate with, and hopefully will get back into more storytelling over time. As it is, with all the projects I participate with today, it’s a very full workload, thankfully.

    TFAW.com: How long does it take you to complete a cover?

    AR: Two to three days, depending upon the complexity of the composition and number of figures.

    Bionic Man #2 Alex Ross CoverTFAW.com: What elements do you think about when you create character designs, such as for Bionic Man?

    AR: I’m often looking to connect with first what my greatest inspiration is for the character and content, often with some embrace of the original design and look for a character, first and foremost. Contemporary elements are often influenced by knowing what has been tried in the superhero and sci-fi genres and trying to think of anything that might be somewhat unique to a given take on the characters.

    TFAW.com: With Kirby: Genesis, you’re doing layouts, art direction, and some of the artwork. What’s the experience been like thus far?

    AR: Very satisfying, because I’m working with such an extremely talented artist. I’m a detail freak, so when I hand off a layout to someone who then makes it sharper and more realistic, it gratifies me to see it handled in a way that I would have hoped to do on my own.

    TFAW.com: How does it feel to re-team with Kurt Busiek, who also wrote Marvels?

    AR: Kurt and I have had a steady working relationship for years with Astro City, but this is the most involved in plotting and direct interaction on interiors since Marvels. Kurt has a very strong vision that I can easily respect and concede to, because as I know with Kurt, he’s thinking through absolutely everything. Kurt’s also been very respectful of my instincts, so there’s always been very good give-and-take. I just know I can rely and rest on his efforts in many ways.

    Kirby: Genesis #1 Alex Ross CoverTFAW.com: What’s your process like with co-artist Jackson Herbert?

    AR: Generally, I’m selecting pages out of the script to lay out that introduce new characters and elements that I want to give him the best interpretation through my filter of what Kirby had done or imagined. Often I’m wanting to keep a strong hand in just how the book looks overall, but Jackson’s a spectacular artist who doesn’t really need anyone to lay out anything for him. He is just, fortunately, indulging this heavy hand of mine on this project.

    TFAW.com: Your art really lends itself to grand, cosmic beings, which makes you the ultimate pick to bring Jack Kirby’s characters to life. Were you excited at the prospect?

    AR: Well, we’ve been working on and planning this for some years now. It’s been an enormous liberty to know that we could use just about anything in the family’s library of characters and sketches of Jack’s, helping to take some rough ideas and flesh them out as representing some of the archetypal characters that Jack had created for other publishers. Working on Kirby: Genesis, there isn’t the feeling that we’re missing some grand element that he created and left behind elsewhere. I really feel like I’m getting to play with all the pieces that make up the legacy of Jack Kirby.

    TFAW.com: It would take most artists a lifetime to gather the huge amount of acclaim and respect that you’ve earned in a relatively short timeframe. What do you want to accomplish in the next decade?

    The Last Phantom #9 Alex Ross CoverAR: In some ways, just the survival of the medium is going to be enough of an accomplishment for any of us to be around for or participate in. My greatest hope is to do more in comics–create more stories, hopefully do original creator-owned graphic novels one day. This art form–not necessarily this business–is what I always aspired to be a part of.

    TFAW.com: You’re currently doing a lot of work for Dynamite. What are some of the high points of your career with them?

    AR: I’ve been thrilled to work with many characters that are part of the great legacy of superheroes that don’t belong to the big publishers. There’s obviously a great amount of these left behind in the Golden Age of comics that we revitalized in Project Superpowers, and the freedom to build that world with Dynamite was tremendous fun. Working with other properties, like the Six Million Dollar Man, The Phantom, Flash Gordon, and the upcoming The Shadow, keeps me very charged up creatively.

    TFAW.com: What other projects are you considering right now?

    AR: As I mentioned, The Shadow is in development with my doing some interior work, as well as a new and hopefully even bigger stab at the world of Project Superpowers that we have developed.

    We want to thank Alex Ross for taking the time to answer all of our questions–we’re huge fans! You can find a huge selection of Alex Ross comics and graphic novels here at TFAW.com–save 10-50%! Plus, remember to visit us on Facebook right now to enter our Alex Ross contest–you could win a Green Hornet variant cover signed by the master himself.

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  • Kurt Busiek Explains the Evolution of Dynamite’s Kirby: Genesis

    Kirby: Genesis ComicsJacob Kurtzberg, a.k.a. Jack Kirby, is arguably the grandfather of the modern superhero, filling the Silver Age with such rich characters as the Fantastic Four, Thor, the Hulk, Iron Man, the original X-Men, the Silver Surfer, Doctor Doom, Galactus, Magneto, the Inhumans, Black Panther, and many more. So many more, in fact, that years after his death, the Kirby Estate had dozens of characters and designs that were either little used or had never seen the light of day.

    Fortunately for us, Dynamite Entertainment came to an agreement with the Kirby Estate to unearth these characters and give birth to a brand-new superhero universe with Kirby: Genesis, a 10-issue series that will in turn spin off into three more titles: Captain Victory, Silver Star, and Dragonsbane.

    The question is: who on earth can you hand this legacy to with the assurance that they will not only treat Kirby’s creations with respect, but will be able to make something fresh and new out of them? Clearly, you need the talents of Eisner and Harvey Award-winning writer Kurt Busiek, who has more than proven his gift for storytelling with Marvels, with Alex Ross, Avengers Forever, Astro City, Trinity, Conan, and many other series. Fortunately, Dynamite got him, and we got to interview him as part of Dynamite Month. Read on for his thoughtful responses to our questions, and enjoy the five-page preview of Kirby: Genesis #4, out October 26!

    TFAW.com: What was the evolution of Kirby: Genesis, and how did you become involved?

    Kurt Busiek: As I understand it, it started with Nick Barrucci at Dynamite. He started talking to Lisa Kirby and the Kirby Estate, intending to make a deal to revive various of Kirby’s creator-owned characters–mostly the characters we’d seen before, like Captain Victory and Silver Star, but some others as well.

    Kirby: Genesis #4 Page 1Nick roped in Alex Ross, who wasn’t going to turn down the chance to work with Kirby concepts and designs, but they needed a writer to pull it all together, so Alex came to me. I was pretty busy, but the lure of Jack Kirby–and of working with Alex again on more than Astro City covers–was a strong one, and when Alex described a scene he wanted to paint–page 8 of #1, basically–all of a sudden, I could see the story, how it could all work.

    That image Alex described, of the characters we’ve come to call the Pioneer Two, descending over Earth, just triggered the idea in me, that this was a story about ordinary people caught up in huge events as their world changed around them, changing from the ordinary world we know to one full of wonder and surprise and magic and heroes and monsters and more. That’s what hooked me, pulled me in. And that’s when we knew we needed more than just the list of characters Nick was talking with the Estate about. For one thing, the Pioneer Two weren’t on the list–and for another, I’d seen a lot of what else was out there in terms of Kirby concepts, both in places like John Morrow’s Jack Kirby Collector magazine and when I worked on the “Kirbyverse” books at Topps. And for the ideas we were talking about to be made real, we were going to need a lot of stuff, a lot of characters, a huge sweep.

    So we went back to Nick and basically said, “If you can get us everyone, we’re in.” We wanted everything, any Kirby concept or design that hadn’t been sold to Marvel or DC or wasn’t otherwise tied up somewhere.

    The Kirby Estate liked the ideas we had, so Nick made the deal, and off we went!

    TFAW.com: What’s it like to be bringing Jack Kirby’s creations to life?

    KB: It’s an amazing thrill. Kirby’s work is hugely powerful, not just in the sense of dynamic artwork, but in nuance, as well–just looking at a sketch of his, it’s easy to get a sense of humanity from it, or personality, attitude, and so on. The drawings are rich in potential, in ideas. Working on Kirby-created stuff at Marvel and DC is fun, too, but on that stuff, someone else has already gotten to it, developed it their own way, and you’re working with what Kirby did and what everyone who came afterward did. Here, we get to work with pure Kirby, and that’s just a wonderful experience.

    Kirby: Genesis #4 Page 2Naturally, it’d be better if Kirby could have done it himself, but we don’t have that option, so we’re doing our best.

    TFAW.com: How far had Kirby gotten in creating these characters? Were they already complete, or did you flesh them out?

    KB: It varies wildly. There are characters like Captain Victory and Silver Star, who had their own series already, so there’s multiple issues’ worth of material that Kirby completed. Then there’s characters like Galaxy Green, who were on a two-page comics teaser. Or the Secret City characters, who are a set of designs and fairly detailed character profiles. But there are also the Norse heroes–Sigurd, Balduur, and the others–who were designs Kirby came up with for a proposed revamp of Thor that never went anywhere. There are no notes on them, just fully realized portfolio plates. Other characters were series pitches that didn’t come to fruition, so there are sketches and notes, still others are just sketches, or even art pieces Kirby did for his home that as far as we know he never planned to use in stories. We even have a set of costume designs he did for a college production of Julius Caesar.

    So it ranges from fully fleshed-out characters all the way down to sketches that don’t have a name, much less a character description. So we get to work with what’s there, seeing what the designs suggest to us, how they resonate, what feels like a good way to use them, to flesh them out. That’s another part of what makes this book so much fun–it’s the variety. We’re building from Kirby all the time, but how detailed and how much–there’s a lot of creativity involved in bringing this world to life while honoring the source as much as we can.

    TFAW.com: With Alex Ross on board, Kirby: Genesis reminds me of your classic collaboration, Marvels. What resonates with you about “the man on the street collides with superheroes” stories?

    Kirby: Genesis #4 Page 3KB: Part of it’s just me–when I started reading comics, I was fascinated with the universe as much as with the characters, and I wondered what it would be like for ordinary people in a world like that. That’s something that’s never left me, so it’s a perspective I like to use, certainly in projects like Marvels and Astro City, but I did it even before those.

    Part of it comes from that suggestion Alex made–I knew we had a lot of very different characters to work with, and we needed something to pull it all together, give the story a viewpoint and a structure so it wasn’t just a big pile of characters. And when he described that bit with the Pioneer Two, I suddenly realized we needed to approach this story that way, too–see it through the eyes of a normal guy whose world changes around him. That way, as crazy and as overwhelming as it is, the reader gets to sort it out along with him, and understand it as he does.

    And it’s fitting we do that here, because the one piece of storytelling advice Jack Kirby ever gave me, back when I was working on the Topps “Kirbyverse,” was that it didn’t matter how wild or far out or cosmic you got in a story, just as long as your characters reacted to it like human beings would. If you can make the characters feel like they’re having the same reaction that the audience would, then the readers will follow you anywhere. So we took that literally with Kirby: Genesis. We’d give you a guy with his feet on the ground, part of the ordinary mundane world–and he’d be our guide into everything that comes.

    TFAW.com: In Kirby: Genesis, it seems like the “ordinary world” is suddenly exploding with supernatural or otherworldly activity, both from above and underground–like it was waiting to happen. Are there some characters who knew this might be coming?

    KB: Not exactly. If anyone knows, it’s the Pioneer Two, but who they are and what they’ve started is a mystery for Kirby and the others to solve. It’s not even clear whether the Pioneer Two brought all this hidden stuff out into the light, or retroactively created it. Did Silver Star exist, before they came to Earth? Or did they somehow cause him to manifest, along with a complete history that’s now a part of our reality? If you’d gone into that museum a week before all of this started, would Bobbi have even found the Sorcerer’s Book?

    Kirby: Genesis #4 Page 4Was it all waiting to be discovered? Or was it just dreams and fantasies somehow made real? If the Pioneer Two know, they’re not saying–at least, not yet.

    TFAW.com: I love that our “everyman” character is named Kirby. His interactions with Bobbi and Bobbi’s father feel so immediate and real. Are we going to get the know the “super” characters more, too?

    KB: Actually, all three of them are named after Jack Kirby, in one way or another. Bobbi is named for “Bob Brown” and “Jack Cortez,” two pseudonyms Kirby used in the Golden Age, before he settled on “Jack Kirby.” And her father’s name, Jake, is from Kirby’s real name, Jacob. They’re the three main characters he didn’t create, but we wanted a piece of him in each of them.

    As for the “super” characters–at the beginning, Kirby, Bobbi, and Jake don’t know anything about them, so they’re just a welter of new experiences and new ideas, but we get to know them over time, as Kirby and the others come to understand what’s going on. I think by #4 they’re already coming into focus, and they’ll continue to over the course of the series.

    They’re what the world is becoming, and we’re going to get used to it and understand it over time.

    TFAW.com: There are so many characters, so many different types of environments, so many creatures colliding at once–how do you keep track of it all?

    KB: Well, I’ve got a list. And an outline. I know where the story’s going, I know the hidden connections, I know the patterns. So I’m nowhere near as lost as Kirby–I know where his path will lead him, and how everything’s going to fall into place. That makes it a lot easier.

    Kirby: Genesis #4 Page 5That said, there are a lot of characters–a dozen or so main players or groups, and hundreds of drawings and concepts we can draw on as needed–and only so many pages, so there are times I have to say, “Well, I’d hoped to get a bit more of that guy’s story in this issue, but I’ll have to put it off ’til next time,” just so it doesn’t get too crowded.

    That’s one of the reasons we started out thinking Kirby: Genesis would be eight issues long, and then expanded it to 10 issues. So much material!

    TFAW.com: Kirby: Genesis is chock-full of classic superhero moments, but it doesn’t feel dated, or like it’s trying too hard to be retro. What’s your secret?

    KB: I’m not trying to write it as a pastiche.

    The idea here is to build a world that’s modern and fresh and new and involving, using these great ideas, some of which haven’t seen the light of day before, so there’s no reason to treat them as dated. As such, we’re not trying to do this project in Kirby’s style, but to make the best use we can of his ideas and characters in our own way. That’s how he worked, after all. When he was working with concepts that someone else had conceived–whether it was Green Arrow or 2001: A Space Odyssey or The Losers or The Prisoner–he didn’t imitate the style of the people who’d been there before him. He built on the concepts, stayed true to them, but told the stories his way. So we figure the best way to honor his concepts isn’t to try to make it “Kirbyesque,” but simply to try to make it good. To be true to his ideas, but to tell stories our way.

    I could try to write like Jack, but I’m a better Kurt Busiek than I am a fake-Jack. Same for Alex–he’ll bring more power to Kirby’s designs by doing what he does best, rather than trying to do what Jack did best and no one else can duplicate.

    So the result is Kirby concepts and characters with a modern approach. At least, that’s our goal.

    Kirby: Genesis #3TFAW.com: Bobbi’s been possessed by an entity known as the Swan–is this permanent? Will she remain superpowered?

    KB: Good question. Kirby and Jake certainly want her back as Bobbi, but it may not be that easy. We’ll have to see.

    TFAW.com: Was it the plan from the start to have Jackson Herbert and Alex Ross collaborate on the art? Will this continue? It looks incredible thus far.

    KB: It’s working really well, isn’t it? When we started, we knew Alex would be involved in the interior artwork, so we’d need an artist whose style would combine well with Alex’s, but we didn’t know right off who it would be. We actually had four or five different guys do tryout pages, and Jackson’s got him the gig. He and Alex had worked together before, but not quite in this way. As for whether they’ll do more collaborating after Kirby: Genesis, I couldn’t say–but they’re our art team for this whole project, and I’m very glad of it.

    TFAW.com: How far ahead have you plotted?

    KB: It depends. On the one hand, we have a plot outline that takes us all the way through the series, so when you look at it that way, it’s the whole thing. But I’m scrambling to stay ahead of the artists as I write the scripts–at this point, I’m about a third of an issue ahead of Alex, and two-thirds of an issue ahead of Jackson, so viewed that way, the answer’s “Not far enough!” But I’m hoping to pull a little further ahead and get some breathing room. Fingers crossed!

    TFAW.com: Dynamite has several offshoots in the works, including Captain Victory and Silver Star. Will this be their ongoing superhero universe?

    Kirby: Genesis #2KB: It’s certainly the plan to have there be a continuing Kirby line of books at Dynamite. Kirby: Genesis is the launch event, and new books are being brought in alongside it–not too many at once, but I think they’re up to three: Captain Victory, Silver Star and Dragonsbane, which focuses on the Norse heroes. There’s a lot more. I’d love to see a Galaxy Green mini-series, or the Glory Knights in their own book, or Thunderfoot. And even characters you haven’t seen yet, like Dragon Boy.

    Kirby’s library of creations is rich enough to build something really fantastic, so we’ll have to see how it goes.

    TFAW.com: You’ve written for a lot of publishers, including DC, Marvel, and Dark Horse. How do you like working with Dynamite?

    KB: Working with any company is more about the people than the company. And at Dynamite, I get to work with good people–Alex as the main guy I collaborate with, and Joe Rybandt as our editor. It’s always nice to be able to talk to the guy at the top, and Dynamite’s a compact enough company that I’m dealing with Nick directly a lot. Plus, they’ve brought together a terrific team, with Jackson, our colorist Vinicius, and letterer Simon Bowland, who manages to fit my script into the art in some pretty tight spaces.

    It’s funny–Dynamite’s a small company, but the creative team spans three continents, thanks to our all being connected digitally.

    And I can’t complain about company support–Nick’s put a huge amount of energy and effort into promoting Kirby: Genesis, which is the kind of thing any creator wants from his publisher. Nick is a tireless promoter, and I think that’s one of the reasons Dynamite is growing as well as it has been.

    TFAW.com: Are there any superheroes, either classic or new, that you’d like to get your hands on?

    Kirby: Genesis #1KB: A few. But after doing JLA/Avengers and Trinity, I feel like I’ve experienced the Marvel and DC Universes on a grand scale, and then I’ve got a whole superhero universe in Astro City and another building in Kirby: Genesis. So I’ve been up to my ears in superheroes, and it’s almost a question of who I haven’t already written.

    It’d be fun to get a swing at the Fantastic Four someday, or the Legion of Superheroes, or someone off the beaten track like the Shadow or Magnus Robot Fighter or the THUNDER Agents. But at least for now, outside of Astro City and Kirby: Genesis, I’m trying to focus on non-superhero stuff as well, including The Witchlands, which is still in the works, and the long-awaited sequel to Arrowsmith.

    I’m sure there’ll come a time when I want more superheroes in my life, but I like variety, too. So I want to keep mixing it up.

    Our sincere thanks to Kurt Busiek for a truly heroic interview. You can browse all of the Kirby: Genesis comics right here on TFAW and save 10-35%. Plus, through 10/31, save 35% on all of Dynamite’s October-catalog comics and graphic novels!

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