Tuesday, May 31, 2011

HUGE news: DC to relaunch 50 titles!

Promo art (maybe part of a cover?) for JLA #1, one of the first titles to be relaunched.

Geez, is this the spring of big announcements or what? The latest headline to rock comics is word that DC (the "Big Two" publisher that handles Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, and a ton of other superheroes) is going to launch 50 revamped titles in September. That means 50 new #1 issues - perfect for readers who've wanted to try reading superhero comics but felt uneasy diving in to a long-running series.

Since the relaunch was just announced today, details are few and far between, but one interesting tidbit is that these refreshed titles will be launched "day and date" on digital devices - that means the new, say, Justice League #1 will be available to read on your iPad the same day it's available in comics shops. The major publishers have typically shied away from day-and-date releases, so DC deciding to try it now is a good sign that they're taking this relaunch seriously.

As DC artist and co-publisher Jim Lee says in this USA Today article:
"We're allowing people who have never bought a comic book in their lives to download them on portable media devices and take a look," Lee says. "Having the ability to give people access to these comics with one button click means we're going to get a lot of new readers."

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Twi-hards, rest easy: The second graphic novel is on its way!

Even if you don't like Twilight, you have to admit that combined-cover image is pretty cool.

Yen Press is the champ of book-to-comic adaptations, especially with Young Adult novels. (It probably doesn't hurt that they're a part of Hachette, one of the biggest publishers in the US!) Hot on the heels of their previous adaptation news comes an announcement sure to thrill teen vampire enthusiasts - the continuation of their hit Twilight graphic novel adaptation!

Volume 1, released last year, sold 66,000 copies in its first week alone - impressive numbers in any medium, but downright awe-inspiring for comics! - and covered the first half of Stephenie Meyer's first book. Volume 2 is slated to hit store shelves (and e-books) in October 2011, just in time to get readers revved up for the Breaking Dawn movie. (Not that Twilight fans need any help getting excited!)

The first volume got some criticism from within the comics community for an, er, unorthodox approach to panel layouts and word balloons. A quick expedition on Google reveals that most Twilight fans, however, didn't mind the unusual lettering, and even the harshest critics had to admit that artist Young Kim does an amazing job illustrating the story. Some fans even think her take on Edward Cullen is a better fit than Robert Pattinson!

So whether you've been awaiting volume 2 for months or never even heard there was a comics adaption, you vampire enthusiasts be on the lookout for that book come October!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I Recommend: Azumanga Daioh

Find the 4-in-1 omnibus edition of this series at: [Amazon] [Borders] [Barnes & Noble]

4-koma manga - roughly meaning "four-panel," somewhat similar to American-style comic strips - are very popular in Japan. Some have been brought to the United States, the most popular (and one of the best) being Azumanga Daioh.

Created by the same genius of adorability that brought us Yotsuba&!, Azumanga Daioh follows a class of high school girls going through the daily adventures high school girls go through. Studying for tests, competing in gym class, and gossiping about teachers are rendered with a style of domestic surreality not too far removed from TV sitcoms like The Office and Modern Family.

The cast is full of characters to identify with (or at least laugh fondly at,) from the ditzy Osaka to the kid genius Chiyo to the intimidating-but-actually-shy Sakaki. And Kiyohiko Azuma's art is drawn in a clean and precise style, ensuring that the quietly clever puns and slapstick take center stage.

Azumanga Daioh is especially good for people new to reading Japanese comics - the basic 4-koma format (and the handful of chapters drawn in full-page style) are a great warm-up for right-to-left reading.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Castle fans, meet your new must-read graphic novel!

The cover for the Derrick Storm graphic novel, with artwork by Carlo Pagulayan.

The television detective series Castle is no stranger to tie-ins, thanks to real editions of Richard Castle's Nikki Heat novels. Soon there'll be another medium roped into the series: comics!

Due in September, the graphic novel - tongue-twisterly titled Castle: Richard Castle’s Deadly Storm - is an adaptation of one of the in-show Derrick Storm novels. (A real-world comics adaptation of a fictional novel from a TV show? My mind, she is blown.)

As a Castle fan myself, I'm mildly bummed that the graphic novel won't be about Castle and Beckett themselves. Their banter would be golden on a comics page! But with star writers Brian Michael Bendis and Kelly Sue DeConnick set for the script, and the artwork in the capable hands of Lan Medina, it's sure to be a worthwhile read anyway.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Read this: The Comic Shops of Philadelphia: A Walking Tour

A view from inside Brave New Worlds, one of the stores explored on the tour.

This article is a month old, but the content's still fresh: Brian Heater of The Daily Cross Hatch went around Philadelphia and scoped out a half-dozen comics shops. It's a nice look at how varied comics specialty shops can be, from general pop-culture hideaways to treasure troves of graphic novel goodness. (And if you live in the Philly area, it's a great guide to which shops to check out on your comics-reading adventures!)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Gallery Time: Madeleine Rosca

 A circus-themed piece from Madeleine Rosca's gallery.

Madeleine Rosca is an Australian cartoonist best known for her kid-friendly OEL manga series Hollow Fields (Published in the U.S. by Seven Seas Entertainment,) which was recognized by Japan's International Manga Awards. Outside of her comics, she's done freelance illustration for a variety of clients, including Australian rock musician Sarah McLeod. Her artwork - as can be seen in her official gallery - is colorful, fun, and detailed, with a dash of steampunk stylings.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Free Comic Book Day this Saturday!

Keep an eye out for this sign on Saturday!

That's right, ladies (and the occasional HWC-reading gentleman) - this Saturday, May 7th, Free Comic Book Day will be sweeping comics shops across North America. FCBD pretty much explains itself, but since this may be the first time some readers have heard of it, I'll lay down the basics:

1. No, not every comic is going to be free.
 . . . so don't expect to snag a shiny new copy of Amazing Spider-Man #1. Instead, publishers have put together special publications - some new stories, some reprints, some previews of upcoming titles - for shops to give out on FCBD.

2. But yes, all of those comics are totally free.
Some shops put limits on just how many of the free issues you can pick up, but all but the stingiest of stores will let you walk away with a good-sized stack of reading material.

3. It's not just DC and Marvel doing this.
Not interested in superheroes? No problem! Just about every publisher in the industry is pitching in. The buffet of free comics options includes comedy, fantasy, horror, crime, and even a couple of non-fiction titles! (And if you do want to read some superhero stuff, never fear! A healthy selection of capes-and-tights goodness is available as well.)

Gobs more information on this event can be found at the official Free Comic Book Day website.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

(More) comic books in a Barnes & Noble near you!

The bookselling world may have taken a hit with the . . . whatever is happening-ing of Borders, but the other big bookstore chain, Barnes & Noble, seems to be chugging along okay. And, according to this news, they're taking the comics industry a-chuggin' along too!

Barnes & Noble has been selling graphic novels, comics collections, and volumes of manga for years now, and single-chapter comic books have shown up in the magazine section from time to time. But from the sound of this, B&N plans to seriously ramp up the number of comic book titles they stock along with other periodicals.

There's no official list of which series will be stocked just yet, but their offerings are likely to include top titles from major superhero publishers DC and Marvel, as well as semi-indie imprints and publishers like Image and Vertigo. Movie-inspiring series are also bound to show up - Thor, Green Lantern, and Captain America, anyone?

For those of you who have been hoping to dip your toes in single-chapter comic books but live woefully far from a good comics shop, this deal will should bring some popular titles a little closer to your neighborhood!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I recommend: Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites

Find this graphic novel at: [Amazon] [Borders] [Barnes & Noble]

Beasts of Burden is your typical paranormal mystery story: A ragtag bunch of characters use magic to track down and put a stop to the terrifying troubles haunting their small town, most of which go unnoticed by the average citizen.

Oh, yeah - and the main characters are all dogs, plus a cat or two.

With this, Beasts of Burden goes from "great mystery comic" to "great mystery comic with a clever premise." Anyone who's ever wondered what pets get up to when their owners aren't looking will get a kick out of the canine culture dreamed up by writer Evan Dorkin (though, given the sometimes copious amounts of _____-on-dog violence, I hesitate to call it "a perfect read for animal lovers.")

The whole project is held together by Jill Thompson's gorgeous painted artwork. Each panel has a carefully chosen color scheme, and she is a master of giving each character recognizable expressions without ever losing their animal qualities.

Curious readers can check out this preview, featuring three Beasts of Burden short stories as they originally appeared in publisher Dark Horse's anthologies.

A note to parents and teachers: While kids love talking-animal stories, Beasts of Burden is not appropriate for young children. Adults and older teens can probably put up with the violence (on-page and off) and occasionally very unhappy endings, but younger readers are better off with tamer mystery-solving pups like Scooby-Doo.