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

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

    Jeff Kline

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

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

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

    Transformers Prime

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

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

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

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

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

    Indestructable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Indestructable

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

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

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

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

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

    Side-Kicked Vol 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Adventures of Martin and Lewis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    The Book Was Better: 30 Days of Night

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

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

    30 Days of Night

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

    30 Days of Night Doesn’t Feature Your Normal Vampires

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

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

    The Changes Between Movie and Comic Are Minimal

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

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

    30 Days of Night

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

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

    Ben Templesmith Gives The Comic The Edge

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

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

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

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    Space Ghost: Lantern to Lantern

    It’s review time for NCBD. This week we’re looking at an interdimensional team-up, IDW’s Deviation of Orphan Black and finding out where the Inhumans go from here. As always there are only a couple of books to come out this week. Make sure to check out our other blog articles to see our thoughts on other books. Be sure to comment or share our post on Facebook or Twitter if you like our articles!

    SPOILER ALERT — We try to keep from posting spoilers, but one may sneak through to our reviews now and again. Read with caution, true believers.

    Green Lantern Space Ghost Crossover comic at TFAW.com

    Green Lantern and Space Ghost
    By: James Tynion IV, Christopher Sebela, Howard Chaykin, Ariel Olivetti

    Green Lantern and Space Ghost is a concept that flows together so well that it’s surprising a crossover hasn’t been attempted before this comic. Both heroes are space cops, both wield weapons of great power, and both are continually motivated to do the right thing. In Green Lantern / Space Ghost #1 from DC, both heroes meet for the first time in a story that is out of this world.

    Written by James Tynion IV and Christopher Sebela, the story follows the familiar tropes of any superhero team-up: The heroes meet, fight, resolve their differences, and team up to stop a larger enemy. While classic GL and Space Ghost villains like Zorak and Larfleeze make brief appearances, the plot and action revolves around completely new characters and villains created just for this story. The artwork by Ariel Olivetti is outstanding, bringing the action on the page to life in stunning detail.

    While the main story is an all-ages affair, the back-up story featuring Ruff N’ Reddy skews slightly more adult in its tone, so parents buying the book for their children will want to keep that in mind.

    If you’ve grown up with both Green Lantern and Space Ghost, this team-up is a dream come true and one that longtime fans will appreciate. If you’re new to these characters, Green Lantern / Space Ghost #1 serves as a great introduction to them. No matter which group you fall into, this story is a blast to read. [Josh P. at TFAW.com]

    If you like this book, you’ll love the current Green Lantern comics!

    Orphan Black Deviations #1
    By: Heli Kennedy, Wayne Nichols, Cat Staggs

    “Hey! You got Orphan Black in my Butterfly Effect.” Or is it the other way around? Orphan Black: Deviations #1 asks the question: What would happen if Sarah had saved Beth, instead of watching her die?

    Set in the very same moment the show kicks off, Deviations will be a familiar tale for show watchers, but with distinct differences. On the show, Sarah witnesses the death of a woman who looks just like her, which sends her down a path of self-discovery; the comic sends her down the path of having saved her life instead. Writer Heli Kennedy takes on the difficult task of re-writing a story the fans are familiar with while making it fresh and unpredictable. As it turns out, Beth being alive changes quite a bit in this award-winning series, keeping favorite moments intact but with small tweaks and quirks. Artist Wayne Nichols does a phenomenal job of keeping the clones distinct without the benefit of actress Tatiana Maslany’s mannerisms and vocal shifts. Drawing directly from the color palette and costume design of the show, the art will instantly transport you back to season 1, with some new tricks.

    This series is set at a much faster pace than the show, which will please the familiar but may alienate those new to the series. What’s old is new again, and nobody is safe in this alternate timeline tale. Maybe even a few new clones will show up… [Adam B. at TFAW.com]

    Orphan Black: Deviations #1 is on store shelves now.

    Inhumans Prime #1
    By: Al Ewing, Ryan Sook, Jonboy Meyers

    If we’re being honest, I’ve never been a fan of the Inhumans. I know of them, I even like some of them, but as a group who was attempting to displace the X-Men? No thank you. Despite all of Marvel’s efforts to get me to read them, I simply refused. Now with Marvel attempting to make the Inhumans their own unique group once again and not a replacement for mutants, I figured there was no better time to give the group a try than with Inhumans Prime #1.

    Wow, I wish I checked out the Inhumans a lot sooner.

    Inhumans Prime #1 does an excellent job of introducing the reader to a wide array of Inhumans and their powers. The book focuses on familiar Inhumans, such as Black Bolt and Ms. Marvel, and new ones such as The Reader. While new readers may find themselves a bit lost in the events that transpire in this book (I had to look up a few things during my read), writer Al Ewing does an excellent job positioning the Inhumans up for a new status quo. I loved every page of it.

    With a big reveal at the end, the book is the perfect set-up to Marvel’s newest slate of Inhumans titles, including Royals and Black Bolt. I know I’ll definitely be adding all Inhumans titles to my pull list ASAP, as well as checking out past stories like the Karnak TPB. If you’re an Inhumans fan, this is a must-read book, and if you’re like me and have been on the fence about the Inhumans for awhile, I strongly encourage you to check this book out. [Josh P. at TFAW.com]

    After reading it, make sure to preorder a copy of Royals and Black Bolt to continue the story!

    What did you think of these books? What should we review next week? Let us know below!

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    Batman and TMNT Join Forces

    New Comic Book Day Nov 9 2016

    It’s Wednesday, and that means there are new comic book releases to talk about! Check out our other New Comic Book Day blog articles to see our thoughts on previous new releases. Be sure to comment or share our post on Facebook or Twitter if you like our articles!

    SPOILER ALERT — We try to keep from posting spoilers, but one may sneak through to our reviews now and again. Read with caution, true believers.

    Batman Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1
    By: Matthew K. Manning, Jon Sommariva

    Combining my favorite iteration of Batman with the most fun version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures gives us the ’90s Batman Animated Series combined with the current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series. What we get is a great sense of nostalgia, combined with the upbeat sensibilities the Turtles are known for. So basically, a good time.

    Matthew K. Manning weaves a plot that sets our two worlds of heroes onto the same case in a way that respects Batman’s detective skills and the turtle’s penchant for always getting themselves into trouble. Jon Sommariva’s art does a great job of combining the very distinctive art styles from both worlds into one that makes it feel like they belong together. Where IDW and DC had these two comic book versions of the characters recently crossover, having the light-hearted and more commercially known versions of these two classic franchises join forces is a great breath of fresh air for the kid at heart. [Mikey N. at TFAW.com]

    PICK UP THE COMIC INSPIRED BY YOUR TOY BATTLES
    VISIT OUR SPECIAL BATMAN PAGE
    VISIT OUR SPECIAL TMNT PAGE

    Flash #10
    By: Joshua Williamson, Felipe Watanabe, Oclair Albert, Chris Sotomayor, Steve Wands, Carmine Di Giandomencio

    Heroics are hard. Having fantastic powers is great, but it doesn’t make one a hero. Barry Allen has been training Wally West how to use his powers, but The Flash #7 shows us that there’s more to heroics than simply running fast.

    Over the decades, The Flash has learned valuable lessons on how to save the people of Central City; he’s now using those years of experience and imparting wisdom upon Kid Flash. It’s as if Joshua Williamson is distilling decades worth of comics into digestible pieces for a new generation of comics fans.

    Williamson introduces two new Rogues, and this story promises to take us to places we’ve never gone before. I am excited to keep reading. [Josh C. at TFAW.com]

    PICK UP THIS ISSUE OF THE FLASH & DISCOVER OTHER GREAT FLASH BOOKS

    Archer & Armstrong #9
    By: Rafer Roberts, Mike Norton, Brian Level

    A&A #9 serves as a jump on point for new readers. “Andromeda Estranged” kicks off a new arc that sets our heroes in a history lesson. You see, Earth and humans, they’re a strange anomaly within the universe. The “creators,” as we learn, didn’t mean for us to be created. They tried to steer us in the right direction but greed and power (as it always seems to) corrupted us.

    Valiant is known for creating good jumping-on points for new readers and this issue is no exception. Rafer Roberts has been doing an excellent job with this series. Issue #9 is no exception. Penciler Mike Norton and Colorist Allen Passalaqua within the first few pages have a visually striking style that works with the context, (thanks to Ryan Lee) a James Stokoe grit if you will. Once we’re back in our world, however, they go to a more familiar style that Archer & Armstrong fans are used to. [Martin M. at TFAW.com]

    GRAB THIS BUDDY COP COMEDY FROM VALIANT ENTERTAINMENT!

    WWE Then Now Forever #1
    By: Dennis Hopeless, Dan Mora, Ross Thibodeaux, Rob Guillory, Rob Shamberger, Derek Fridolfs, Daniel Bayliss

    As a fan of professional wrestling growing up, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this issue from BOOM! Studios new WWE series. WWE: Then. Now. Forever #1. This is a reader’s first introduction to the new comic world that weaves in and out of actual stories from the WWE. This compilation issue collects a story by Dennis Hopeless about Seth Rollins’ rise and fall with his team, The Shield. Along with short stories featuring The New Day, Sasha Banks, and Tugboat. This issue also collects the San Diego Comic Con exclusive one-page stories featuring Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, John Cena, The New Day, Sasha Banks, The Undertaker, and Dusty Rhodes.

    Headed up by a huge list of creators, this book takes the fandom seriously in some stories, has a whole lot of fun in others, and finds itself incredibly inspirational. The heroes, the heels, the over the top performances, and the drama that fans of professional wrestling have come to love and crave are all found here. If you’ve ever been a fan of any era of the WWE, WWE: Then. Now. Forever is a book for you. [Mikey N. at TFAW.com]

    DON’T TAP OUT GRAB WWE: THEN. NOW. FOREVER TODAY!

    Captain America Steve Rogers #7
    By: Nick Spencer, Jesus Saiz, Joe Caramagna, Stephanie Hans

    Steve Rogers’ reality has been secretly rewritten by a sentient Cosmic Cube known as Kobik. He is now an agent of HYDRA.

    That’s all the background you need to jump aboard Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz’s Steve Rogers Captain America. Cap is no longer the bastion of freedom and morality; he’s been corrupted, and this allows Spencer to explore some important themes that his predecessors never have. Steve Rogers Captain America #7 is the start to a new arc, so now’s a good time to join along.

    Saiz’s art is expressive and emotional, particularly when it comes to depicting the book’s tyrants–the Red Skull and the bullies of 1935 that were a part of the machine that gave rise to his HYDRA regime.

    I can’t help but have optimism about the future of this comic and really, really look forward to getting our Steve Rogers back in the saddle again. [Josh C. at TFAW.com]

    VISIT OUR CAPTAIN AMERICA PAGE

    What did you think of these books? What should we review next week? Let us know below!

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    Kate Leth’s New Series Casts a Spell on New Comic Book Day

    NCBD OCT 19th

    Has it really been a week since our last New Comic Book Day comic book review? Man, time flies. Here are a few of this week’s new releases that stood out from the crowd. Check out our other blog articles so see our thoughts on other books. Be sure to comment or share our post on Facebook or Twitter if you like our articles!

    SPOILER ALERT — We try to keep from posting spoilers, but one may sneak through to our reviews now and again. Read with caution, true believers.

    Star Trek Boldly Go comics at TFAW.com

    Star Trek Boldly Go #1
    By: Mike Johnson, Tony Shasteen, George Caltsoudas

    Set months after the events of Star Trek: Beyond, Boldly Go finds the crew of the Enterprise split up as their ship is rebuilt. Kirk has taken over interim Captain duties on the Endeavor along with McCoy and Checkov. Sulu is now first mate on the Concord. Scottie is teaching at Starfleet Academy, and Spock and Uhura are on sabbatical on New Vulcan. That is until a new, yet familiar, threat forces the gang back together much earlier than expected.

    Mike Johnson captures the tone of the new Star Trek series perfectly, while at the same time introducing a classic Trek nemesis to an unfamiliar crew. In many ways he’s combining three eras of the series into one, and expertly so. Tony Shasteen captures the likenesses of the actors from the movies, as well as the clean and crisp aesthetic. If you’re a fan of the recent films, or of Star Trek in general, this is a must read. [Mikey N. at TFAW.com]

    VISIT OUR STAR TREK COLLECTION

    Spell on Wheels comics at TFAW.com

    Spell on Wheels #1
    By: Kate Leth, Megan Levens, Marissa Louise, Ming Doyle

    Dark Horse’s newest magic comic comes just in time. Not a horror based comic, but with Witches what better time is there other than October?

    Spell on Wheels is the story of three best friends working and living together. One day their house gets broken into and they must go on a road trip to reclaim their belongings. They’re witches, and you can bet that the stolen items are a little more than just a few trinkets…they REALLY need to get their stuff back.

    Kate Leth brings us a fun group of gals for what looks to be a fun adventure. The characters all have their own abilities and traits beyond their magic. I felt like anyone could relate to that feeling of despair and loss after being robbed. While obviously has more to do with the magic they wield, you can relate to their situation. Megan Levens and Marissa Louise do a stand up job within this first issue. I love the character designs. The emotions come through very well with each character. [Martin M at TFAW.com]

    JOIN THE MAGICAL SPELL ON WHEELS SERIES

    A-Force comics at TFAW.com

    A-Force #10
    By: Kelly Thompson, Paulo Siqueira

    The A-Force Civil War II tie-in found the team in Colorado on the hunt for bug creatures that were once the cities inhabitants. The problem is, they must find a way to stop this plight from spreading before her teammates turn int these very same creatures.

    This was a fun final issue for A-Force. On top of that it was a good Civil War II tie in. I’m not caught up on Civil War II issues, but I didn’t need to play any catch-up to jump into this issue — it felt very solid as a stand alone story. Kelly Thompson has been doing a bang-up job with A-Force ever since she started at issue #2. Paulo Siquerira, Joe Bennett, and Rachelle Rosenberg do a fantastic job bringing this team to life. One panel in particular made me go “wow!” (It’s spoiler-y so I wont say, but feel free to guess!) You really can’t go wrong with a team made up of Captain Marvel, She-Hulk, and Dazzler. [Martin M. at TFAW.com]

    SEE ALL A-FORCE COMICS & GRAPHIC NOVELS

    Nightwing comics at TFAW.com

    Nightwing #7
    By: Tim Seeley, Javi Fernandez

    Set right after the events of the epic Night of the Monster Men crossover, Nightwing is checking in again with the Parliament of Owls in Australia. Only to find them all dead, somehow linked to the Cult of Kobra. Nightwing tracks down his recent ally, Raptor and discovers that Raptor has been in Nightwing’s life much longer than he thought.

    Tim Seeley has been doing an amazing job of rebuilding Nightwing into the fan-favorite version of Dick Grayson people have been missing. He allows the story to breath on its own, but still fold seamlessly into the events happening with the entire Bat-Family. Javier Fernandez on pencils provides a lot of grit to the story. Nightwing is in a darker place than normal, and I love it. Nightwing #7 is another amazing addition to this great series, with plenty more to come. [Mikey N. at TFAW.com]

    SEE WHY NIGHTWING IS COOLER THAN BATMAN

    What did you think of these books? What should we review next week? Let us know below!

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    Review: ROM #1

    Review Rom #1

    ROM #1 (cover)ROM the Space Knight first appeared in print in December 1979 as a crossover between Marvel Comics and Parker Brothers in an attempt to build interest in a spaceman toy that Parker Brothers had designed. It’s not as strange as that sounds. Transformers, Care Bears, Sectaurs (I had them all, by the way), GI Joe, Masters Of The Universe, Pound Puppies, and My Little Pony all have similar origin stories. The toy flopped, but Marvel was able to draw the backstory into a 75 issue run that lasted until February 1986. The franchise sat largely dormant for three decades until Free Comic Book Day 2016, when IDW publishing gave us ROM #0 and announced a reboot of the series.

    The first comic book I ever owned was ROM #66. I remember the day I bought it, after riding my sister’s new red ten-speed bicycle to the grocery store to get bread and milk for my grandmother. I don’t remember why I was riding my sister’s bike. I do remember smashing that bike into the back of a parked mail truck on the way home because I was reading ROM #66 while riding hands-free. I sat on the curb and finished the book while the mailman yelled and cursed at me. I don’t know what that guy’s problem was. After I finished the story, I headed home with a loaf of smashed bread, a leaking gallon of 2% milk, a potentially broken nose, and what was left of my sister’s bike. True story, although if my sister ever reads this and asks me about it, I’m sticking to the story I told that day. Something about ninjas, if I recall correctly.

    ROM’s story began when an alien race of shape shifting space sorcerers known as Dire Wraiths invaded the peaceful utopian society of planet Galador. In a desperate attempt to fight the Dire Wraiths off, the Galadorian ruler called on the citizens of Galador to volunteer for the Spaceknight program, sacrificing their own humanity to become cyborg warriors. The Spaceknights’ humanity was stored on Galador until such time as the Wraith war would end and they could reclaim it. ROM was the first to volunteer and undergo the transformation.

    When the Solstar Order drove the Dire Wraiths from Galador, ROM chased them back to their home planet to finish them off. The Wraiths used their best weapons, deception and black magic, to escape ROM’s wrath and scatter throughout the galaxy. ROM felt responsible for allowing the Dire Wraiths to spread throughout the galaxy and decided not to reclaim his humanity until the entire species had been found and banished to Limbo.

    ROM #1 picks up right where FCBD ROM #0 left off. In case you missed that one, IDW has kindly reprinted that 11 page story here for your convenience. In his quest to rid the galaxy of the Dire Wraiths, ROM follows the Wraiths’ trail of destruction to a heavily infiltrated planet Earth. Cooper’s Mill, the first town ROM finds on Earth only has one real human living in it, a soldier suffering from PTSD named Darby. All the other inhabitants are Wraiths disguised to appear human. Oddly, even with this level of Wraith infestation, ROM finds no Wraith hives and no signs of planetary subjugation. Further analysis is needed.

    There is an obvious throwback look and feel to the new series, but some tweaks have been made to update ROM’s look and technology. This may seem a little nit-picky, but classic ROM never had fingers. Not sure why they changed that detail, but it was the first thing that I noticed. The new armor also has a lot more detail and lines in it than the classic version. There was something about the old design that was very classic and clean. I know they’re trying to put their own stamp on the franchise, but it’s going to take some getting used to. On the whole, Christos Gage, Chris Ryall, and David Messina have done a slick job bringing this nostalgic title into the 21st century.

    ROM #1, IDW Publishing, released July 27, 2016, written by Christos Gage and Chris Ryall, art and color by David Messina and Michelle Pasta, letters by Shawn Lee, $4.49

    Review by Brendan Allen

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    NCBD: Old Man Logan, New Super Man, Kong of Skull Island & Star Trek

    For New Comic Book Day this week – we look at an Old Man, a New Super Man, a Giant Gorilla, and celebrate Star Trek’s 50 years. As always these are only a few of this week’s new releases that stood out from the crowd. Be sure to comment or share our post on Facebook or Twitter if you like our articles!

    SPOILER ALERT — We try to keep from posting spoilers, but one may sneak through to our reviews now and again. Read with caution, true believers.

    Old Man Logan comics at TFAW.com

    Old Man Logan #8
    By: Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino
    In the last issue of Old Man Logan, we saw Logan defending the people of Killhorn Falls from a crazed group of killers called the Reavers lead by Lady Deathstrike. He will stop at nothing to keep this group from killing the woman who became his wife from his lost timeline. With his back against the wall, Logan succeeds in pushing the threat away from the population and leaves to keep them safe.

    In this much-anticipated issue, we find Logan not too far in the future from the events of the last story arc, living once again with his team and family, the X-Men, with one exception – Jean Grey is alive and wants nothing more than to help out her lifelong friend. We also get to see, through Logan’s memories, the events that lead to the night the heroes fell. We now know what happened at the Xavier School for the Gifted – when the villains used Logan as their killing machine to take down the X-Men (see Old Man Logan by Millar and McNiven) – but we never got to see the fall of New York, or what led to the descent of Hank Pym. By the end of this issue, all will be revealed. And in the conclusion of this amazing book, we get to see a perfect reunion that will hit home with any Wolverine fan – or any comic fan in general.

    I can’t say enough to about how much I’ve loved this book. Jeff Lemire has taken the mantle of this story and used the new and old universes to make this a truly fantastic book, with the beautiful art of Andrea Sorrentino making the characters and action jump right off the page. I cannot wait for what happens next issue of Old Man Logan! [Steve M. at Milwaukie TFAW]

    New Super Man #1
    By: Gene Luen Yang, Viktor Bogdanovic

    Shanghai, China. Kong Kenan is a bully that justifies his behavior by picking on Lixin, whose father runs an airline. The very same airline who he holds responsible for the death of his mother. Kenan’s father is a mechanic that is part of a “Writers’ Group” which are conspiracy theorists attempting to prove the existence of the Ministry of Self-Reliance.

    These pieces converge when the villain Blue Condor swoops in to abduct Lixin. Kenan instinctively throws a can of soda (which he stole from Lixin) at Blue Condor. This is caught on video and gains the attention of the Ministry of Self-Reliance. Who approaches him to grant him the powers of Superman.

    All that power given to one without the moral compass of our Kryptonian is going to steer us on an interesting course, indeed. Gene Luen Yang’s story and Viktor Bogdanovic’s art are both flashy enough to catch our attention, and keep us watching, as this story evolves. It’s going to be an interesting series seeing this New Super Man go from bully to hero. [Casey D. at TFAW.com]

    Kong of Skull Island #1
    By: James Asmus, Carlos Magno, Felipe Massafera

    First things first, the art of this comic book is gorgeous! I was memorized by Carlos Magno’s clear and very detailed illustrations. This issue opens up to a time before Kongs became extinct. The people believed the gods protected us through the Kongs.

    As the natives travel to expand the islands they rule, they take their protectors with them. When the natives discover Skull Island, they get more than they bargained for. This island has bad written all over it and as the people try to steer clear of it, the ship is attacked by monsters! As the ship starts to sink, one Kong struggles to get back on the sinking ship. As the people are drowning… the only thought you can conjure up is “Save the Kong!!!”. Kong of Skull Island is going to be one heck of a ride! [Darcey M. at Universal Citywalk TFAW]

    Star Trek #59
    By: Mike Johnson, Tony Shasteen

    As we near the 50th anniversary of Star Trek we see the crew of the Starship Enterprise enter a place in space that seems to be a bridge to alternate realities. The crew, for a time, switches minds with their movie and original series counterparts. This comes with some comedic surprises for them.

    Switching back and forth between old and new crew members was cool. Mike Johnson did a good job slightly altering how each Kirk or Spock said the same line, highlighting the differences between the two universes. Since he came aboard, Tony Shasteen has done a fantastic job drawing the series. Each character is easily recognizable, even for casual viewers of the series.

    It will be fun to see how both crews deal with such an anomaly in Star Trek #60![Martin M. at TFAW.com]

    What did you think of these books? What should we review next week? Let us know below!

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    December Product Review Contest Winners Announced

    My Little Pony review at TFAW.comHundreds of great product reviews come in every month, and it’s our duty to pour through them and pick three winners as part of our monthly Product Review Contest. Below, you’ll see who won from December’s Product Reviews. We’ll be sending $25 gift certificates to the people who posted them.

    Michael from Tucson, AZ is the first of this month’s winners. Here’s what he had to say about My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #1 Box Set:

    There comes every once in a generation a publication that changes our very definition of the cultural world for the better. This is one of them. After reading this I got a promotion at work, Won the Jeopardy Championship, and now I’m a hit with the ladies! I could barely lift before, now I can bench 300lbs! Also, when carrying this home, I was caught in the crossfire of a gang shootout, and it deflect 3 bullets saving my life!

    Batman review at TFAW.comCasey from Redlands, CA wrote several reviews last month. His review of Batman #14 caught our eye.

    I am loving these Batman comics. These have gotten me into comics. Before the ‘Death in the Family’
    story arc started, I really didn’t read many comics. This has pushed me into them
    in such an awesome way! The Joker is insane and I love the dynamic between him and
    Batman.

    Colder review at TFAW.comLast but not least, there’s Felicia from Plainsboro, NJ, who’s review for Colder #1 really spoke to us.

    The cover was the first thing that caught my eye. I thought this looks awesome wonder
    what it’s about? After reading I’m so glad I picked this comic. It’s more than what I expected. With such suspense and mystery along with a strange crazy supernatural creature; I had to look out for the next issue. I had to put #2 on reserve in order to make sure I was able to purchase. I CAN NOT WAIT FOR #3!

    Thanks so much to everyone who wrote reviews last month. You’re helping people decide what to get (or what to avoid) next.

    So submit your reviews and help your fellow collectors, and us, sort out the “HOT” from the “NOT”! Who knows, you may be one of next month’s winners.

    HOW TO SUBMIT A PRODUCT REVIEW:
    It’s simple! Just visit any product page and look for this:

    Click on it and our product review form will appear in a popup. Just fill out the pertinent information and submit your review, and you’re done! We’ll take a look at your review and get it up on the product page soon thereafter!

    There’s also a really easy way for you to call up everything you’ve ever ordered from us and review it. Simply log in to your account and go into the Order History Section. Next to each item, you’ll see a “Review it!” link.

    Questions? Comments? Let us know below!

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    IDW Begins Ongoing True Blood Series in May

    True Blood ongoing monthly series begins in May. Order issue #1 at TFAW.com today! We love us some True Blood at TFAW! That’s why we’re completely stoked to see that IDW is turning their comics miniseries into a monthly True Blood series in May.

    With creative collaboration from True Blood creator/writer/producer Alan Ball, this series features writers Ann Nocenti (Daredevil, Green Arrow) and Michael McMillian, with art by Michael Gaydos (Alias).

    This is going to be a hit, so we urge you to reserve your copy by placing a pre-order for the first issue so you don’t miss out on the first printing!

    RESERVE YOUR COPY OF TRUE BLOOD #1 TODAY

    SUBSCRIBE TO TRUE BLOOD

    Have you been reading the True Blood miniseries? How have you liked them so far? Are you excited for this new ongoing series? Let us know below.

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    IDW’s Jeff Webber Discusses the Future of Digital Comics

    IDW's iPad AppIDW Digital Comics Month marches on! IDW Publishing, founded in 1999, is currently the fifth-largest comic book publisher in the nation.

    Today, this publisher is home to some of the most exciting licensed comics in the world, including Angel, Doctor Who, G.I. Joe, Star Trek, and Transformers, as well as acclaimed creator-driven titles like Fallen Angel and Locke & Key.

    We spoke with Jeff Webber, Director of ePublishing at IDW on the state of comics in the digital age:

    TFAW.com: How many titles/issues do you currently have available? What do you project to have at the same time next year?

    Jeff Webber: We have over 650 books in distribution across multiple partners and platforms. Today we distribute to Apple iOS, Sony PSP, Nokia, Blackberry, and Kindle, with more platforms coming in 2011.

    TFAW.com: How did you choose which comics would go digital first? What was the thought process behind your launch?

    Transformers on the iPadJW: Star Trek and Transformers were our first major digital lines, tied to the 2009 movies. Our major digital push is around our bigger licenses. We’ve always wanted to expose our comics line to as broad an audience as possible, so it’s natural to use digital to reach fans of the brands who are non-typical comics readers and grow the market.

    TFAW.com: What are the biggest challenges in publishing digital comics?

    JW: Technology is always a moving target. We have to make sure that the time and effort involved result in a format that has a reasonable life span. Also, marketing is a challenge. It’s often difficult for people to discover digital comics amidst the wide range of apps and books available.

    TFAW.com: How have digital comics been selling for you, compared to traditional comics?

    JW: Digital sales are still just a drop in the bucket of our monthly sales. Digital is still a very young medium.

    TFAW.com: Have you considered a digital-only option for comics that have lower sales? Do you think this is an opportunity to extend the lives of series that might otherwise be canceled due to financial realities?

    JW: We do have plans for original digital-only comics. These will be digital projects from the ground up because they will take advantage of digital formats and distribution, therefore really unrelated to print sales. We have some interesting ideas that you will see in 2011 that will not only be strong digital stories, but will drive print sales due to exposing a huge audience to the brands and comics in general.

    TFAW.com: Do you have any plans to soft-launch any titles in digital and publish those titles that do well?

    JW: It’s not in our immediate plans at this time.

    TFAW.com: Who is buying your digital comics? Is it your usual audience, or do you think you’re reaching a more nontraditional demographic?

    IDW Comics on the PSPJW: We truly feel the bulk of our digital purchases are made by people that are not regularly going to comic shops on Wednesdays. Our best sellers are mostly tied to other media–movies, TV and games. Our EA Comics line does very well with the game tie-in. And our Konami Silent Hill line is extremely popular on PSP. An example is that one of the senior directors from Apple was at our booth during San Diego Comic-Con. She wasn’t a comics fan but went nuts when she saw True Blood. She downloaded the app right there and went home reading the print book on the plane! I’m positive she’s never stepped foot in a comic shop before, but ended up enjoying both the digital and print formats.

    The other major digital audience is outside of the US–over 40% of our digital sales are international.

    TFAW.com: Currently, customers are still buying standalone issues. Are you planning to offer digital “graphic novels”?

    IDW's Tribes Comic

    JW: We just started an iPad-only Digital Graphic Novel line. We are offering books from our catalog that include big brands such as the Star Trek Movie Adaptation; books that we’d like to promote more such as Tribes: The Dog Years; critically recognized books like Parker series; and some books that will be digital only, the first being After the Fire.
    IDW's Tribes Comic

    TFAW.com: Do you currently offer day and date comics? Will you offer more of those in the future?

    JW: Only on rare cases, usually if there is a dictate from the licensor. Most of our books are released digitally four weeks or more after print.

    TFAW.com: What sort of an impact have you seen on traditional sales?

    JW: We’ve really seen no impact–another reason we believe digital and print customers are not the same people. We believe most of our digital customers are not necessarily aware of what “day and date” really even means. Some of our best sellers are books that have been out for years in print and digital customers are just discovering them.

    TFAW.com: How did you choose to partner with iVerse? What are the advantages of working with a third party, instead of creating your own store?

    JW: We have built our own single issue and graphic novel apps and work with our technology partner iVerse for our storefront apps. IDW’s expertise is in creating great stories, and we prefer working with a partner because their expertise is in the technology.

    TFAW.com: Digital comics have broken a lot of the traditional barriers of the direct market–they’re easy to purchase and less expensive than the paper versions. Do you think this will help publishers develop a wider audience?

    JW: Yes, definitely.

    TFAW.com: What do you think of the piracy issue that comes along with digital distribution?

    JW: The good thing about apps and distribution through most of the major hand held and online outlets is that these come with control over file formats and are not easily pirated. We do not distribute PDFs to some of the more generic storefronts.

    TFAW.com: If one of your digital comics readers wanted to get the hard copy after they read the digital comic, how do you help them find out where to get a copy?

    JW: We include a comic shop locator in all our storefront apps, and link back to our online site also.

    TFAW.com: What do you think digital comics will mean for traditional retailers in the upcoming years?

    JW: We really feel that digital is about increasing exposure!

    TFAW.com: Do you have any retailer incentives or plans to include traditional retailers in your digital comics program?

    JW: We have some very interesting plans around this topic for 2011, but I can’t share them yet!

    We want to thank Jeff Webber for taking the time to answer all of our questions! You can check out all of our IDW comics and graphic novels here at TFAW.com. Make sure to keep coming back throughout January–we’ll be interviewing other influential publishers and distributors to let you know what they’re offering, and what the future might hold for us all. Next up: Ralph Tedesco of Zenescope talks about whether they’re considering digital-only comics on 1/21.

    READ MORE ABOUT DIGITAL COMICS MONTH

    Have you purchased digital comics? What’s your favorite IDW digital comic? Post your comments below!

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    Religion in Comics

    Religion has been a taboo in the comic book industry for decades. But with so much rich material stemming from so many religions, it was only a matter of time before pioneering artists paved the way for books we’re seeing today.

    For some, these books are an affront to their sensibilities. Seeing Jesus battle zombies (Jesus Hates Zombies Lincoln Hates Werewolves) or reading a story that chronicles Earth’s apocalypse at the hands of a man-made godlike superhero (Warren Ellis’ new Supergod series) might not agree with some people.

    For others, a mutant messiah makes sense in the wake of “House of M” (Cable) and the story of God sending angels to cleanse the world after losing faith in humanity (Legion, which is a precursor to the upcoming film) or a story about a post apocalyptic world where every last superhero suddenly disappears (Rapture) are not only intriguing, they’re downright impossible to pass up!


     

    It’s okay if these titles offend you. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. I for one, am very much intrigued by these upcoming offerings and have been enjoying Cable recently and have dug Rapture thus far.

    So are you excited about these titles or do you abhor them? Have another religion inspired title I didn’t talk about in the article? Feel free to voice your opinion or comment below!

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    Lora Innes Talks to TFAW.com About The Dreamer

    The signature at the bottom of writer-cartoonist Lora Innes’ email perfectly captures her comic, The Dreamer: “Adventure. Romance. War. 1776 Is Back.” In The Dreamer, Innes’ heroine, Beatrice, is a normal (if introverted and high-strung) American teenager. However, when she falls asleep, she’s transported into the early days of the Revolutionary War and finds herself in the arms of the handsome Alan Warren–while trying to avoid musket fire, of course.

    Are Beatrice’s dreams simply her imagination gone wild, or are they telling her something important? Does smooching Alan by night mean she shouldn’t pursue her crush, Ben, by day? And, most importantly, are her friends going to continue to put up with her wild tales, or are they going to get fed up with their favorite drama queen?

    I was fortunate enough to interview Innes about the past, present, and future of The Dreamer: read on for her insights and a couple of spoilers!

    TFAW.com: Thanks for talking with us today, Lora! I know from checking out your webcomic that you’re a die-hard Revolutionary War junkie. When did this start, and why?

    Lora Innes: My interest in the American Revolution is a result of The Dreamer, actually, and not the cause of it. I grew up with a generic interest in history, mostly American history, and my favorite era was WWII. I read a lot about the Holocaust when I was younger, specifically memoirs of concentration camp survivors from lesser-known groups, like homosexuals and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    I had gone on family vacations to places like Boston (where we walked the Freedom Trail), Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, Salem, Massachusetts, and Plymouth Rock. So my parents had definitely exposed me to Colonial America and I carried a vague interest in the era with me into adulthood.

    TFAW.com: What is it about the Revolutionary War that captured your interest?

    LI: The dreamers! The men who led the colonies into a war against Britain are some of the bravest and craziest idealistic activists you’re likely to find in history. They’re up there with men like Martin Luther, who decided he would stand up against the monolith that was the Catholic Church. And he actually succeeded.

    I count Sam Adams, Joseph Warren, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, John Adams, George Washington and the rest of them as dangerous dreamers of that caliber who stood up against a perceived injustice and persuaded a nation of people that they were right. That they found a way to work together, when there had been so much discord and jealousy between colonies, is a feat itself, forget beating Britain. Also, the Revolution was fought is a very different way than other revolutions, specifically the French Revolution. For the most part, I admire the way they did it.

    TFAW.com: Why did you decide to create a webcomic?

    LI: I had always wanted to get into comics but I had actually never read a webcomic before I decided to make one. And initially I was opposed to the idea. But after I really got into the developmental phase of the story, I knew that it wasn’t what comic book publishers are typically looking for.

    That being said, I’d heard a lot of talk within the comic book industry about wanting to pull in more female readers. I personally think that the way to do that is to tell a story that women want to read. I was writing what I hoped was such a story. I figured if I could build an online following of readers, a publisher looking to expand into more female-friendly books might see mine, see it doing well, and think there was less risk involved and give it a try. That’s actually how it happened for me.

    TFAW.com: The Dreamer is kind of a teen drama crossed with a period adventure-romance–how did you come up with that combination?

    LI: I was very depressed at the time. My husband and I had quit our jobs in June of 2006 and moved to New Orleans to work on staff at a relief camp after Hurricane Katrina. We stayed there all summer, and returned to Ohio at the beginning of fall. I have always loved New Orleans, and the flood broke my heart. So after we quit our job, our home, and our lives to volunteer in the relief efforts, I was very invested in the work we were doing, and loved the people we were both serving and working along side.

    Moving back to Ohio was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but it made sense. Knowing it was the right thing to do didn’t help me emotionally, though, and I fell into a very dark depression that lasted about nine months. I had a very vivid dream one night, about three months after we came home, where I was making a difference in an imaginary dream world–the kind of make-the-world-a-better place difference that my work in New Orleans had been. I woke up in a good mood for the first time in as long as I could remember and I wanted to go back. That was it: what if you could go back? Unknown to me at the time, I wouldn’t return to New Orleans until May of 2008, but I would make sure my heroine could go back every night.

    TFAW.com: Tell us about your heroine, Beatrice.

    LI: She can be a brat, can’t she? She’s 17, and a bit spoiled though she doesn’t realize it. Her parents are wealthy and she thinks that because their work-a-holic lifestyle frustrates her that she has somehow risen above it. However she drives a new VW Beetle, has all the latest technological gadgets she could want, lives in a beautiful house, but takes it all for granted.

    She’s a product of the system she’s repulsed by, whether she realizes it or not. She’s a bit of a shy girl, only coming out of her shell as the lead in her high school’s drama productions, and is very prone to spending her time daydreaming. It probably developed as a way to entertain herself while her parents were too busy at work to pay much attention to her.

    She seems to resent her mother for this, but is still daddy’s little girl, as much as she misses him. He’s obviously been the one to spoil her, letting her have and do whatever she wants to make up for his absence. And the emotional connection to a father figure is filled in her life by her cousin John’s father, her uncle Hercules. Her interest in making a career from the stage comes from her admiration of him, as he’s a Broadway costume designer.

    TFAW.com: She seems to feel out of place in her world–her parents are absent, and her interests are wildly different than theirs. Is this part of why she is having these dreams?

    LI: It’s the reason she has her head in the clouds so much, absolutely. But there is something much deeper going on with her latest string of dreams.

    TFAW.com: Are all of your 18th-century characters based on real historical figures?

    LI: Everyone who we have met so far, except Alan Warren. Thomas Knowlton, Frederick Knowlton, General Howe, Betsy Loring, Nathan Hale, and even the three Ranger Captains (Brown, Grosvenor, and Keyes) were all living people during the Revolution.

    TFAW.com: Tell us about Alan Warren. Is the fact that he’s not based on a historical figure relevant to the story, beyond giving you some leeway with the plot?

    LI: Alan Warren is not a real person. Because I’ve tried very hard to respect the lives and personalities of the men I am writing about, I did not want to take such audacious liberties with a real person, so I decided to invent my male lead. But his character is radically dependent on the life and family of a Patriot named Dr. Joseph Warren. Dr. Warren was one of the most influential men in the decade leading up to the Revolution, but he died before the war was won and never played a role in the new national government, so most modern Americans have never heard his name.

    I wanted America to remember him, so I invented a fictitious cousin for him, Alan Warren, to tell my story through. Joseph’s mother raised him and his three brothers alone after their father died, so I figured having her also raise an orphaned nephew wouldn’t interfere with history too much. Five orphan boys instead of four? I could live with that change.

    TFAW.com: It’s clear that he’s ill–is it a cold, or something more serious?

    LI: More men died in the Continental Army from diseases than from battle wounds. At any point in the war, nearly half of the soldiers in Washington’s forces were incapacitated and unfit for duty. I wanted to show that in the story. “Camp Fever” plagued the young army, as did dysentery, the flu, phenomena, and consumption. I’ll tell you this much: he’s sick with one of them, and his symptoms started after he spent the night marching through the rain without a coat.

    TFAW.com: Does Beatrice have an 18th-century counterpart? Is she inhabiting the space of a historical figure?

    LI: I can’t answer that! That’s the question isn’t it? Is Bea herself really back in the Revolution, or is she taking the place of some other girl with her name and face who Alan Warren loved back in Boston?

    TFAW.com: Why did William Howe capture Beatrice?

    LI: I guess I can give you part of the answer. Spoiler! When the British evacuated Boston, in March of ‘76, she was arrested from her family home by the king’s men on charges of treason surrounding the events of April 19th, 1775.

    TFAW.com: We’ve now seen that parts of the 18th-century story are still going on while Beatrice isn’t dreaming, which hints that Beatrice isn’t just dreaming–she’s actually somehow traveling through time. Any comment?

    LI: It would appear that way, wouldn’t it? These characters seem to exist even when she isn’t around.

    TFAW.com: Could her actions in the past affect the outcome of the Revolutionary War, or is she more of a spectator? What’s her purpose?

    LI: I don’t know if she has a purpose. But she seems caught up in something way bigger than herself. She tried to save Alan from death in a battle, only to find out that she had jumped to the wrong conclusion, and put herself and her friend Nathan Hale in serious danger. For now at least, I think she’s afraid of changing history. Whether she is capable of that or not has yet to be determined.

    TFAW.com: On to romance! This is quite the love triangle–neither Alan or Ben knows of the existence of the other, or of Beatrice’s two lives. Where is this going?

    LI: It is going downhill, for Bea at least, that’s for sure. The poor girl took advice from her best friend to date both guys at once. Yvette seems like she’d have no moral objection to doing this herself, but Bea is struggling with the decision. She’s an “all in” kind of girl, and this balancing act confuses her.

    She has had feelings for Benjamin for years, and doesn’t want to miss the opportunity to date him, but really can’t get past the fact that she feels a deep connection to Alan Warren that she cannot explain. It feels more real to her than her feelings for Ben, but it makes no sense. Where we’re at in the story right now, she’s trying to do the thing that makes the most sense and give Ben a shot. We’ll see how that goes.

    TFAW.com: Last I read, Beatrice and Ben’s relationship had evolved, over the objections of his friend Shantel. Does Shantel want Ben for herself, or does she have other objections?

    LI: Shantel definitely wants Ben for herself. She just doesn’t like Bea because it is insulting to her to think that Ben would date a shy and awkward white girl before he’d date her. Shantel’s on the cheer team; Bea is beneath her. So this doesn’t make sense to her, and it makes her angry. Unfortunately for Shantel, some of Bea’s shyness is disappearing from all she’s been through in the Revolutionary War. Bea unleashes some verbal fury at the cheer queen that she probably wouldn’t have even a week ago.

    TFAW.com: You’ve included an interracial romance in the story without making a big deal that Beatrice is white and Ben is African-American. Is this a sign of the times, or will issues surface later?

    LI: I don’t really think it is a big deal anymore. I know a lot of people either dating or married in interracial relationships. I especially think with young people racial barriers are disappearing. My readers don’t seem to mind, or notice even, except for some African-American readers who have thanked me for making strong black leads in my story. I will say that even though the 21st-century characters seem accidental or arbitrary compared to the Revolutionary cast, none of them are, and my decision to make Ben who he is comes from the bigger story that all the characters will ultimately fit into.

    TFAW.com: Beatrice’s “dreaminess” is starting to cause friction with her cousin John and her friend Liz. Is this going to continue?

    LI: Absolutely. The friction is twofold. First, Bea’s escapism is something that her down-to-earth friend Liz cannot understand easily. It’s much easier for Bea to talk to Yvette about this than Liz, even though Liz and Bea have been best friends for as long as they can remember. Bea isn’t happy that she feels like she can’t share this with Liz.

    On the flip side, Liz and John have sort of started dating. And John definitely has never understood Beatrice, but it’s part of the charm of their relationship. So Bea is going to feel like she’s losing her best friend to her cousin, and her cousin (who is more like a brother) to her best friend. She’s losing her two closest friends at once. Try dating your best friend’s brother and you’ll see what I mean. Those relationships change, whether you want them to or not.

    TFAW.com: How long do you see this series continuing? Will Beatrice’s dreams of the Revolutionary War stop when (spoiler alert!) the Americans win?

    LI: Well . . . the Americans don’t win officially until the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Beatrice would be 24 by then. The poor girl would be through college! I hope for her sake things get figured out before then.

    TFAW.com: How did The Dreamer come to IDW? Are there more printed comics and graphic novels planned?

    LI: I hope to do another print series when I get enough issues finished to put out another collection. I’m not sure if IDW would want to put out more individual comics, or just another graphic novel. Personally, I love individual comic book issues, and have written the story to work that way, but they aren’t always profitable, especially in an economy like this. IDW picked up The Dreamer after Beau Smith recommended the title to Ted Adams, the company’s president. Ted checked it out and let me know he was interested, and the rest is history!

    TFAW.com: Can you give us a hint as to what’s ahead, storywise?

    LI: Well, issue #8–which I’m currently working on–is a collection of vignettes of each of the 18th century characters, showing how they are all dealing with the battle they just survived the day before. We finally get to learn more about who Alan is under the surface, a glimpse of General Howe as a man, not a villain, and a moralistic military dilemma that Colonel Knowlton and Frederick Knowlton see very differently. Also, two new characters appear in issue #9!

    Our thanks again to Lora Innes for her excellent answers to our questions. Be sure to check out The Dreamer and let us know what you think below!

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