Kickstarter Comic ‘Space Captain: Captain of Space’ is on Kickstarter and is a Comic

Michael Park and Chris Baldie’s sensationally-titled ‘Space Captain: Captain of Space’ has launched today on Kickstarter, where the book has already hit the modest funding goal of £300. You’ll never guess what the comic is about.

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That’s right! SPACE CAPTAINS! Awesome. The issue – which you can pick up in physical or digital copies – sees Space Captain stranded on a distant planet, with no easy way of getting home. So he decides “hey, I should go home” and sets about achieving that goal. It’s a simple as that, really, and that’s pretty much all I really needed to hear, myself. I’ll be pledging towards this one once I finish writing up this quick thing.

The book will be distributed by DoGooder Comics – the ones who also put out Dungeon Fun and Reel Love – so this has got a pretty strong backing already. The Kickstarter is just to raise funding to take the already-written and drawn story to print. Simple! You can find it here.

Oni Press are the Next Humble Bundle, Humbly Bundling John Allison, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Cullen Bunn and More

If you’re like me, then you’ve got the entire back catalogue of Valiant’s relaunch squirreled away on your harddrive, where you’ll probably never find time to ever read it. Good news, then, as Oni Press will be the next company to bundle up their best books into a pay-what-you-want format. 

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The opening level of this Humble Bundle – where you pay what you want – will gift you books like The Sixth Gun, Letter 44 and The Auteur, whilst hitting a $15 bid nets you the first two coloured volumes of Scott Pilgrim, the first volume of Stumptown, and more. Pay over the standard bit – which is roughly $9 right now – and Courtney Crumrin, The Bunker and Down Set Fight also head into your computer.

Not a bad deal, although perhaps not quite as insane as the previous Valiant deal. You’ve got most of their best known books on there, with Scott Pilgrim being one of the more obvious deals. For those who already have the b/w versions and don’t want to bother with physical copies of the coloured versions; this seems a smart way to get hold of those ones.

Bad Machinery is probably worth this alone, but you’ve also got a whole load of Cullen Bunn stories up there too. Oni say that more books will be added to the deal shortly – I’d imagine you’ll be seeing at least a hint of The Wasteland before too long, as it’s one of their all-time biggest comics. One final note I’d make is that the opening level gets you a REALLY wide range of books, and by that I mean ‘you get some all ages books and you also get THE AUTEUR”. So, y’know, don’t let your kids read that one.

You can find the Oni Press Humble Bundle here.

Mike Mignola and Ben Stenbeck Bring ‘Frankenstein Underground’ to Life, Like in that Kenneth Branagh Film

What a headline. Such poise, grace, and unearthly power it contains.

Much like the new announcement from Mike Mignola and Ben Stenbeck, then, who’ll be the creative team for ‘Frankenstein Underground’ over at Dark Horse.  Dave Stewart is also onboard as colourist. A five issue miniseries, the story seems to be completely literal in two ways – the monster will be living underground, and also he may possibly be organising a league of monsters. Let me go read the rest of the press release and get back to you in a sec.

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Okay so actually this is set within the ‘Mignolaverse’, where the character has appeared a couple of times before. It appears that the book will follow him as he taps into a few of the unthreaded story loops which were laid out years and years ago, and will be a way for Mignola to tie up certain things into a bow. It also means he can have a big hulking supernatural lead character in a book, which is nice when your big hulking supernatural lead character just got killed off recently.

Here’s the press release thingy:

“It’s intimidating as hell to take on an icon like the Frankenstein monster,” said Mignola. “I’m trying to do something that’s true to the origin Mary Shelley created for the creature but also captures a bit of the feel that Boris Karloff brought to the role in the classic Universal films. At the same time I’m throwing the monster into an entirely new environment, so I think the result will be something new. It’s an odd one, but ultimately will add an important new wrinkle to the Hellboy/B.P.R.D. world.”

Mignola is no stranger to Frankenstein’s monster. He’s long been fascinated by Shelley’s novel and the iconic Universal Studios films that it spawned. In 1991, he drew scenes from classic Universal Studios horror films for Topps trading cards and recently drew a Bride of Frankenstein Mondo print.

“This version of the Frankenstein monster has the same thirst for knowledge readers will remember from Mary Shelley’s novel,” said Scott Allie, Dark Horse Comics’ editor in chief. “The monster takes the reader through some of the biggest mysteries of the Mignolaverse, shedding new light on important stuff we’ve only touched on before.”

Frankenstein Underground will be released in 2015.

Bendis/Quinones Tease The Best X-Men Team of All Time

There’s some kind of anthology or jam comic coming up into the X-Men world soon, with writer Brian Michael Bendis teasing several pages over the last few weeks – there was one of loads of characters kissing each other, a few days ago, which was amazing, creepy, and spotted with incest. But what’s more important is the following image, showing off probably the finest X-Men team of all time:

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Pixie, Marrow, Stacy X, Colossus, Forge, Spiral, Ink, Adam X, Shatterstar, Callisto and Sage all in one place! And drawn by Joe Quinones!?

What is going on here? Well, the first assumption is likely that Bendis has assembled some sort of ‘comedy’ team here, based on a quick look through the X-Books forum on CBR. There are a bunch of very popular characters mixed in with some silly characters, and several ‘fixed’ versions of broken characters like Callisto and Marrow. Also Shatterstar is dressed in full Liefeld attire, rather than the superior gentleman gladiator garb he prefers nowadays.

I imagine this is some sort of “look at the silly team!!” thing he’ll do before killing everyone off. BUT what it should be is THE TEAM FOR ALL NEW X-MEN.

Bendis’ books so far have been an experiment in how many different ways he can write ‘alternate’ versions of the X-Men characters rather than the X-Men themselves. He’s brought them in from the past, from the future, from alternate timelines, and currently in different dimensions. It’s been everything EXCEPT writing, y’know, the characters who were around beforehand. And now a jam issue, it seems, where every page is a joke of some kind and nothing is in continuity proper.

It’s been interesting to watch this develop over the last few years, but it must be a little frustrating for certain sections of X-Men fandom? I would assume. I’ve gone off on a tangent. What I want to say basically is that this team, if expected to be a ‘joke’ team for a throwaway giggle, remain definitively a better team than the ones currently in the main X-Men books.

Grump.

LookLookLook! Jamie Littler’s Famous Five Stories

Jamie Littler lined up a full set of his Famous Five comic shorts this morning, which seems like an utterly inspired connection of property and cartoonist. Littler is probably best known for his work in The Phoenix but has been spending most of his time recently on this series of new stories with the classic Enid Blyton characters.

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Eight full-colour books, published by Hodder Children’s Books, make up the collection. The original Enid Blyton text remains: but now with added Jamie Littler illustrations and story. This is exactly how I always pictured Timmy would look, too! You can read more about the books over at Littler’s site.

The Rise of the Artistic Spotlight

Looking over the shelves at my local store recently, I noticed that Warren Ellis has a lot of comics currently coming out. More than he’s had in quite the while, actually – with Supreme: Blue Rose, Trees, and the just-finished Moon Knight all sitting there right now. He’s also just done a promo comic for Bacardi, too, with Mike Allred. It’s interesting because here was a writer who had moved off from comics for a little while, stating he was a little bored with the current status quo, and because he wasn’t seeing more from the industry.

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His first return came about as part of Secret Avengers, best I recall, in a run which saw him do a series of one-shot stories with people like Jamie McKelvie, David Aja and Stuart Immonen all stepping on for a little while. It was a bit of a statement of intent, whether intended or not, and this seems to have moved forward onto much of his later work. He’s reached a point now where, having stamped his voice and influence onto modern comics, his presence has now faded to the background as each of his new projects emphasises the artist over the writer.

Moon Knight is probably the most recognisable example of this, as both artist Declan Shalvey and colourist Jordie Bellaire received more of the immediate attention from the internet – or at least from my curated social media/website use. Ellis was a draw for the series, but Shalvey and Bellaire quickly became the star attraction of the series, as they both took the opportunity to do press on the book, talk about their craft and approach, and highlighted how the artistic process works.

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Likewise with Supreme: Blue Rose, which is drawn by Tula Lotay. Once more, all discussion of the issue seems to highlight her work as artist over the story – having not read the issues so far (trade-waiting, sorry) – I have no idea what the overall narrative is, but I’ve certainly seen plenty of Lotay’s artwork.

Arguably Secret Avengers was the first time Ellis’ work was the secondary interest of a comic he was working on, although the rotating artists of Astonishing X-Men – Kaare Andrews and Phil Jimenez amongst them – could also be seen as a first step towards that point.

This seems to be a natural progression for certain writers once they hit a tipping point, as there are a few other writers who currently sit in the background and are emphasised by their artists. Mark Millar, for example, is now a writer whose work – following the conclusion of Nemesis, possibly his last real ‘impact’ storytelling, in terms of reception – now works on a series of titles which are focused on the artists. ‘Secret Service’ was dominated by in-story cameos and the fact that Dave Gibbons was drawing the story, Jupiter’s Legacy was looked at as a Frank Quitely comic foremost, whilst MPH is headlined by Duncan Fegredo’s artwork.

Again – just my impression on things.

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I think here we’re seeing something similar. Millar stamped a sense of authority, pun not intended, onto comics, and has since settled down into just making comics. He’s less concerned about his own impact as a writer, it feels, and instead uses his comics as ways to spotlight the artists he collaborates with. There’s also the fact that many of his comics now all follow the same theme, taking a famous superhero and reappropriating them into a ‘real world’ setting. MPH is The Flash, Starlight is Flash Gordon, and so on. So as the stories essentially repeat similar themes, the readers instead have to focus onto the artists instead. His books become less about him as an author, and more about the style, storytelling and tone brought by the artist.

One of the foremost examples in modern comics, though, is Brian Michael Bendis. And he’s actually gone full circle now, as he had his period of impact, followed by a period where the spotlight fell on his artists, and now led into a new period where once more he’s taking the limelight. An equal partner, arguably, in the success of comics like Alias and Daredevil, before leaping into his own with Ultimate Spider-Man (especially as that book eventually transitioned artists, and Bendis became the constant) and especially his Avengers run. He made the impact story with Avengers: Disassembled with David Finch, where he was the spotlighted creator on the title.

Having done that, he settled into a ten-year story which hit a prolonged middle section where his style – hammered in for readers to the extent where they became dazed and somewhat bored of it – was propped up by guest artists.

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As Mike Deodato Jr rose to attention on Thunderbolts, he jumped on for ‘Dark Avengers’ with Bendis. As Oliver Coipel’s work on Thor saw acclaim, so he came over to do ‘Siege’ with Bendis. Daniel Acuna saw attention after working on X-Men storylines, so eventually joined up with Bendis’ final few storylines. Artists like Walter Simonson came back to Marvel to do stories with Bendis, too.

He became a writer whose stories were secondary to the artists telling them. Even now, you see him spotting artists doing great work elsewhere, and inviting them on to work with him – when Kevin Maguire was unceremoniously treated by DC, it was Bendis who reached out to him and invited him to do Guardians of the Galaxy. However, we’re now seeing him take a bit of the control back as of late – perhaps because he has a more vibrant franchise to play with, you could unfairly suggest – and his X-Men and GOTG stories are certainly getting more acclaim as a result.

It’s an interesting pattern/progression to note, looking at some of these big-name creators.

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Whilst this is mainly something I’d associate with writers/artists at Marvel – DC don’t place as much emphasis on their artists at this time, as seen in the way they establish and maintain a ‘house style’ – arguably Neil Gaiman is reaching this point in his career too. For many people, he’s taking second billing on Sandman: Overture right now, with JH Williams III the best selling point that comic has. It seems a little that, once a writer reaches a certain point, there is a tendency to experiment and see how things change once they let the artist lead the way for them.

It’s just a pattern I idly noticed after seeing all those Ellis comics on the shelves, but it does seem to be a solid, actual pattern, rather than one I’ve just made up, I think? Will be interesting to look at some of the other mainstays of modern comics and see how things have changed for them, as well.

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