Peter Milligan

LA Comics News Roundup: publishers kickstart 2011

All the news that’s fit to shove through internet tubes. Here’s the world of comic books and graphic novels in LA and beyond over the last week or so, with some commentary:

= Boom! Studios Editor-in-Chief Matt Gagnon gets the prestigious Comics Reporter Holiday Interview treatment, talking about the culture and climate of the LA-based publisher and his journey to his current position. Read it

= Silver Lake store Secret Headquarters was named Bookstore of the Week by the LA Times book blog Jacket Copy. More acclaim for a shop that in 2008 was named one of the World’s 10 Best Bookstores by The Guardian. The LA Times article also gives mention to local LA artists Martin Cendreda (Catch Me If You Can) and Sammy Harkham (Crickets). Meanwhile, I have somehow still not checked out this store. Read it

= The ever-expanding Comic International: San Diego could add a balloon parade through downtown San Diego to kick off the festivities. City Council District 4 President Tony Young, a self-proclaimed comic book collector and fan, floated the idea in his New Years address and expanded on the idea in an interview. Read it

= Comics industry numbers from Diamond Comic Distributors, the primary method comics publishers get their comics and graphic novels to comic book stores and other outlets, has released their reports on 2010 and as expected print comics took a hit. “Annual sales of comic books, graphic novels, and magazines to the comic book specialty market declined slightly in 2010, down 3.5% from 2009.” Comics industry number-cruncher John Jackson Miller estimates that the industry generated $415 million last year. The comic shop market hit a peak of $437 million in 2008. However, he counters this gloom with data showing the fourth quarter of 2010 ending 2% up from fourth quarter 2009 due to graphic novel sales. This supports some cautious optimism from some as early signs of a turnaround. Read it: part 1, part 2, part 3 (more…)

New to Comics? New Comics for You! 7/1/09

(Little late this week, with all of the excitement.)

Never read a graphic novel before? Haven’t read a comic book in years?

Here’s some brand new stuff coming out this week that I think is worth a look-see for someone with little to no history with comics. That means you should be able to pick any of these up cold without having read anything else. So take a look and see if something doesn’t grab your fancy. If so, follow the publisher links or Amazon.com links to buy yourself a copy. Or, head to your local friendly comic book shop.

Disclaimer: While it may seem like it, I do not live in the future. For the most part, I have not read these yet, so I can’t vouch for their quality. But, from what I’ve heard and seen, odds are good they just might appeal to you.

Finding Nemo: Reef Rescue #1 – $2.99
By Marie Croall & Erica Leigh Currey
32 pages (?); published by Boom! Studios

The biggest selling DVD of all time comes to comics! Nemo, Dory and Marlin have become local heroes, and are recruited to embark on an all-new adventure. Their reef is mysteriously dying and no one knows why! Facing dangerous waters and incredible odds, Nemo travels the great blue sea to save the one thing that matters most of all–home.

Yay, comics for kids! They really DO exist… sometimes… sporadically.

Boom! Studios (yes, the exclamation point is really supposed to be there) has begun putting out comics based on the Pixar movies and the Muppets. The Muppets one in particular has been getting great reviews. They’ll soon be putting out comics starring the classic Disney characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.

Solomon Kane Volume 1: The Castle of the Devil – $15.95
By Scott Allie & Mario Guevara
128 pages; published by Dark Horse Books; available at Amazon.com

Robert E. Howard’s vengeance-obsessed puritan begins his supernatural adventures in the haunted Black Forest of Germany in this adaptation of Howard’s “The Castle of the Devil.” When Solomon Kane stumbles upon the body of a boy hanged from a rickety gallows, he goes after the man responsible — a baron feared by the peasants from miles around. Something far worse than the devilish baron or the terrible, intelligent wolf that prowls the woods lies hidden in the ruined monastery beneath the baron’s castle, where a devil-worshiping priest died in chains centuries ago.

* This team’s debut Kane story is available for free at myspace.com/darkhorsepresents.

* “Solomon Kane is one of the toughest Robert E. Howard heroes to adapt to the comics page, but Scott Allie and Mario Guevara have done a stunning job. Unsettling, moody and eerily beautiful, their Kane is absolutely worthy of his creator.” -Kurt Busiek

* Collects the Solomon Kane five-issue miniseries.

Those wacky puritans. Always gunning people down in vengeance. OK, not really wacky, but pretty cool art, and classic pulp-style adventure comics. In case you don’t know, Robert E. Howard is the guy that created and wrote Conan the Barbarian, to give you an idea of what to expect. For an even better idea of what to expect, click on that MySpace link.

Greek Street #1 – $1.00
By Peter Milligan & Davide Gianfelice
40 pages; published by DC Comics’ Vertigo

“Sex, death, ambition, revenge and a reminder that some stories are too true and too dangerous to ever die. GREEK STREET crackles with Promethean fire.” — Grant Morrison

You’re a boy from the hood. You’re brought up rough in a children’s home, trying to stay out of trouble but usually failing. Then at 18 you decide to track down your mother. Within hours of finding her, she’s lying naked and dead at your feet. So you run to Greek Street. And that’s when your troubles really begin…

Boasting a cast of sexy strippers, murderous gangsters, body-snatching mad women and a disturbed young girl who can see the future, GREEK STREET is Peter Milligan’s reimagining of those brutal and visceral tragedies that graced the Theater of Dionysus in Ancient Greece – bloody tales about incest, homicide, beautiful oracles, all-knowing choruses, kings, monsters and gods – played out on the mean streets of modern-day Red-Light London.

Milligan – best known for his super-smart Vertigo work like SHADE THE CHANGING MAN, HUMAN TARGET and now HELLBLAZER– joins forces with illustrator Davide Gianfelice (NORTHLANDERS) to create an epic ongoing series that’s both familiar yet completely new and always with the bloody, visceral edge that makes it a Vertigo book. Take a trip to GREEK STREET where the old stories are not through with us yet.

Come on, a brand new comic by two great creators for $1? That’s worth the risk. Easy. Remixing Ancient Greek plays? OK, you’ve got my attention. This PDF preview runs down the cast of characters and their Ancient Greece analogues.

Existence 2.0 #1 – $3.50
By Nick Spencer & Ronald Salas
32 pages; published by Image Comics

Self-absorbed physicist Sylvester Baladine finds his consciousness transferred into the body of the hitman who just killed him! Things don’t seem too bad until his daughter is kidnapped by the same people who “killed” him. Now, he’s forced to dig up his past and solve his own murder… inadvertently making himself a target once more.

I really enjoy the voice of the main character, despite him being rather unlikeable. 5-page preview.

This is one of those great weeks where there are actual comic books that I can recommend. Usually I have to stick to graphic novels for something accessible. Yay for that!

Far Arden – $19.95
By Kevin Cannon
400 pages; published by Top Shelf Productions; available at Amazon.com

Meet Army Shanks — crusty old sea dog and legendary brawler of the high Arctic seas! He’s got just one mission: to find the mythical island paradise known as Far Arden, which lies hidden (so they say) in the wintry oceans of the far North. But there’s more than just water standing between Shanks and his goal: he’ll have to contend with circus performers, adorable orphans, heinous villains, bitter ex-lovers, well-meaning undergraduates, and the full might of the Royal Canadian Arctic Navy! Not to mention he’s not so sure how to get to Far Arden in the first place…

In his first solo graphic novel, Kevin Cannon (THE STUFF OF LIFET-MINUS) proves himself a master spinner of yarns. FAR ARDEN is an epic journey through a world not quite our own, written and drawn with strokes bold and swift. As readers hurtle toward the stunning conclusion, Cannon assembles countless details, characters, and relentless plot twists into an astonishing whole far greater than the sum of its parts. Thrilling, eccentric, lusty, genuinely moving, and often hilarious (with sound effects that alone are worth the price of admission), FAR ARDEN may be the best adventure comic you’ll read all year.

Here’s a 7-page preview. This looks really funny!

Nelson Mandela: The Authorized Comic Book – $27.95
By the Nelson Mandela Foundation & Umlando Wezithombe
204 pages; published by W.W. Norton; available at Amazon.com

The fantastic, heroic life of Nelson Mandela, brought to life in this landmark graphic work.

Nelson Mandela’s memoir, Long Road to Freedom, electrified the world in 1994 with the story of a solitary man who, despite unbelievable hardships, brought down one of the most-despised regimes in the world. Fifteen years after the publication of that classic work comes this fully authorized graphic biography, which relays in picture form the life story of the world’s greatest moral and political hero—from his boyhood in a small South African village to his growing political activism with the ANC, his twenty-seven-year incarceration as prisoner 46664 on Robbens Island, his dramatic release, and his triumphant years as president of South Africa. With new interviews, firsthand accounts, and archival material that has only recently been uncovered, this visually dramatic biography promises to introduce Mandela’s gripping story to a whole new generation of readers.

“You know that you’ve become really famous the day that you discover that you have become a comic character.” —Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela will be 91 years old on July 18th. This might be the first authorized biography in comic book form of someone still living. If not, it’s certainly notable that this will contain information not present in previous non-comic biographies of Mandela. Here’s an interview by Publisher’s Weekly with Verne Harris of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Sure to be inspiring. And I love that quote.