Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology comics adaptation returns with a new volume

Recent news release from Dark Horse Comics:

The comic book adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s best-selling book, Norse Mythology, will continue from Dark Horse, this coming month of June. Eisner-winning comics writer P. Craig Russell, with artists Matt Horak (The Punisher, The Covenant), Mark Buckingham (Hellblazer, Miracleman), Gabriel Walta (Barbalien: Red Planet, Sentient), Sandy Jarrell (Archie, Meteor Men), and colorist Lovern Kindzierski (The Worst Dudes, The Sandman) will team together for the upcoming six-issue follow-up series, Norse Mythology II.

Explore the origins of poetry—good and bad—in this tale of malicious dwarfs, suspicious giants, and the wise god Kvasir, whose eventual fate leads to the creation of a powerful mead that many will fight and die for.

Also available will be a variant cover for each issue by longtime comics artist, David Mack.

“It has been an absolute delight working with the slate of artists assembled for our adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology,” says Russell in a recent DH press release. “Sending the artists the layouts and then seeing their finished pages come rolling back in, each having brought their own unique artistic vision to the page, has been great fun.”

Norse Mythology II #1 (of six) will arrive in comic shops on June 16, 2021.

David Mack variant cover:

The Whispering Dark creators reimagines World War II with The Secret Land

Interesting news from Dark Horse Comics…

Coming soon, from writer Christofer Emgård and artist Tomás Aira, the creative team duo behind The Whispering Dark, return to Dark Horse comics with a new, upcoming cosmic horror mini-series and fictionalized reimagining of World War II in The Secret Land.

It is 1945, and Hitler is dead. Ben and Katherine are supposed to be together, happy. Instead, Ben fights the war in the Pacific with reckless heroism, believing his fiancée to be dead. However, Katherine lives, undercover aboard a German submarine.

As Ben tries to move on, the US Navy receives a message. The Nazis are plotting their return, powered by strange and foreboding technology in Antarctica. When Ben learns Katherine is there, he knows he must go too.

As war engulfs the edge of the world, Ben and Katherine confront the truth about the boundaries of love, and what lies beyond them.

“Ever since The Whispering Dark I’ve been looking to reprise my collaboration with Tomás, and The Secret Land finally provided the perfect opportunity. This mini-series began life as a pulpy horror tale (it does have both Nazis and tentacles in it…), but at its core it’s really a story about commitment, longing and loss. I feel Tomás has conveyed this beautifully through his evocative art and I hope the readers out there will feel the same.” said Christofer Emgård in a recent press release from Dark Horse Comics.

“Chris’ amazing script hooked me from day one and I was eager to flesh out these characters and continue building this terrifying world. Bringing the Otherlands to life has a strange fascination for me, and often I find myself fearful of the very monsters I’m painting, while adorning their abominable visage with teeth-covered appendices. There’s probably no better place to set up the darkest monsters than in WW2 but this time, humanity has upped the game, I’m rooting for them as I draw them! “ adds Tomás Aira.

The Secret Land #1 (of four) arrives June 9, 2021, at the comic stores everywhere. Emgård and Aira’s previous miniseries, The Whispering Dark is available now in collected trade paperback for $17.99.

COMPASS sets new comics adventure, history, and more for this summer

Image comics recently announced an all-new, five issue miniseries by acclaimed writer/creator Greg Rucka (The Old Guard), writers Robert Mackenzie and Dave Walker (Lazarus Sourcebook) with artist Justin Greenwood (Stumptown, The Fuse, The Last Siege) “to take readers on a breathless journey” in the forthcoming Compass, starting in June.

In Compass, readers meet Shahidah El-Amin, a main character who is many things: scholar, cartographer, astronomer, mathematician, scientist, explorer, adventurer, and—when need be—two-fisted fighter. Setting out from Baghdad’s legendary House of Wisdom during the Islamic Golden Age, Shahi’s quest brings her to 13th-century Britain…where the Welsh are whispered to possess the secret of eternal life. But Shahi’s not the only one after it…

“Compass was born out of our desire to tell a story of discovery without colonialism, of adventure without exploitation—something with the verve and energy of the pulps, but with a perspective that hadn’t been seen much in that genre,” said Mackenzie in a recent press release. “Getting there was its own process of discovery, and it’s been a joy to work with co-creators who have the talent to truly unearth Shahidah‘s quest. I’m so pleased to be able to share Compass with the world.”

“This story has been with Robert and I since our earliest days writing together. We wanted to step into a world that felt definably real—but still with the thrills of haunted ruins, ancient wonders, deadly rivals,” said Walker. “Justin found that world immediately and brought it to life, and Daniela, Simon and Greg have all added their inimitable touches to truly make it something special.”

Greenwood added: “Compass has just the kind of energy and fun that I’d been looking for in a new project. The sense of adventure is palpable in every issue and Shahi is one of the most engaging characters I’ve ever gotten to draw. Compass being a teen book is also a big bonus for me creatively, as my kids are finally getting old enough to read comics too. I’ve always enjoyed this type of pulpy action comic but being able to share it with my family is a new and gratifying experience. Very excited to share what this talented creative team has been cooking up.”

“I fell in love with Dave and Robert’s idea the moment they shared it with me. I love stories rooted in historical truth, in facts that have somehow been overlooked or—more frequently, I think—ignored in favor of another, more ‘traditional’ narrative,” said Rucka. “As much as Compass is an action-adventure with all of those wonderful pulp elements I adore, its engine is personal and intimate, ultimately about the friendship between two very impressive, very capable women from two very different backgrounds. As soon as I realized that, I knew Justin was the only artist who could deliver what Dave and Robert were after. I’m very proud to claim a very small part in making this book come to life.”

Compass #1)will be available at comic book shops and digitally across many digital platforms, on Wednesday, June 16th.

Here’s a four page preview in the meantime:

Thanks to Image Comics for the preview, visit imagecomics.com for more!.

The upcoming Little Nemo game, dreams Mega Ran to its soundtrack

The Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends new video game is currently on Kickstarter, based on the very groundbreaking early 1900s Little Nemo in Slumberland comic strips by American cartoonist Windsor McCay, has some new surprises for gaming fans, with an addition to its soundtrack.

But first, a little more about the game:

Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends follows the adventures of a 7-year-old boy in the world of his dreams. Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends finds Nemo and his friends fighting off the invasion of the Nightmare Fiends, who threaten the existence of Slumberland itself!

Featuring hand-drawn, keyframed artwork and animation, Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends combines the exquisite art and wild dreams of the original comic with reimagined characters and new adventures. The game is currently in early prototype form and is tentatively slated to release in 2022.

Pie for Breakfast Studios, an award-winning game studio blending play with the arts, and independent studio PxlPlz recently announced the soundtrack for Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends will be composed by Wayne Strange, a video game composer, vocalist, and orchestrator whose previous work includes score prep work on game soundtracks like Star Trek: The Video Game and God of War: Ascension, as well as arrangements for Materia Collective and Video Games Live.

The soundtrack will also include a guest track by the prolific hip-hop nerdcore artist Mega Ran, whose music blends education, hip-hop, and gaming. He has covered and remixed numerous classic game soundtracks, including Capcom’s Little Nemo the Dream Master (which is an awesome and very underrated classic of the NES 8-bit era).

Mega Ran’s recently released a memoir, Dream Master, that details his personal journey and is named after Little Nemo. Current plans for the soundtrack will see it exploring different genres of music, lending the game a lucid dream-like quality. Backers to the game’s Kickstarter can pre-order a copy of the soundtrack in both digital and CD formats.

Here is the Little Nemo track backed by the Little Nemo NES game music.

Further details of the game involve the control of Nemo and his 3 friends: the magic-wielding Princess of Slumberland, the mischievous clown Flip, and the agile royal guard Peony, an original character created for this game. Each character has different abilities that help them navigate the dangers in Slumberland. The game offers a system that lets players switch between characters quickly, allowing them to use different characters’ abilities in tandem for powerful combinations.

The music and animation look promising for Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends. Check out the Kickstarter and eventual release details at www.LittleNemoGame.com.

Lady Mechanika returns to comic stores and, and raise steampunk brows

Recently announced, the fan-favorite steampunk adventure series by comic artist and storyteller Joe Benitez, Lady Mechanika will return with in 2021 with a new publisher, Image Comics. The adventure begins anew with a special Free Comic Book Day 2021 edition of her first appearance for participating comic shops on Saturday, August 14. Then, a new Lady Mechanika story series launching this September, also from Image Comics.

Lady Mechanika follows the story of a young woman during the Victorian Era who is desperately in search of the secrets to her past—a past that left her with extraordinary, but unnatural, mechanical limbs. Lady Mechanika publishing run began in 2010, carried on with multiple mini series, all then self published by its creator Joe Benitez.

The entire backlist of Lady Mechanika will be made available from Image Comics too, beginning this August with the long anticipated reprints of the volume one trade paperback and hardcover editions. These reprints will join a total of seven trade paperbacks and five hardcover editions of the beloved series.

“I’m very excited that Lady Mechanika is moving to Image!” said Benitez in a recent press release from Image Comics. “We hope this move will provide an opportunity to share the series with a new, wider audience, and also give us more time to focus on our creative strengths while letting the experts at Image handle publishing and marketing. We have so many stories to tell, hopefully this will help us get more of them out faster. The next story arc we’re calling ‘The Monster of the Ministry of Hell-th’ will deal with a piece of Lady Mechanika’s haunted past. Check out a preview of the new book in our FCBD issue!”

Eric Stephenson, Publisher & Chief Creative Officer at Image Comics also added: “We’re pleased to welcome Joe back to Image. Joe got his start at Image, as part of Marc Silvestri’s Top Cow Productions, and he has grown into a phenomenal talent over the years. What he has built for himself with Lady Mechanika is truly impressive, and it’s exciting to be part of what comes next for this incredible series.”

The FCBD 2021 edition of Lady Mechanika will include the stand-alone short story “The Demon of Satan’s Alley,” which first introduced Lady Mechanika and her steampunk world (Lady Mechanika #0)—plus a preview of “The Monster of the Ministry of Hell-th,” the newest story by series creator Joe Benitez which will debut this year at Image Comics.

Contact your local FCBD participating comic shop to learn more about these exciting freebies and more and don’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in FCBD 2021 on Saturday, August 14!

Unreal’s MetaHuman Creator takes digital character-making to its next gen level

Epic Games recently announced MetaHuman Creator, a new software tool based off its Unreal Engine. This new tool can craft hyper realistic faces and next gen body movements and facial animations. For now, it’s in its development phase, and will be open for testing later through 2021.

It’s very detailed, and promises much for potential users…

Epic details much more from a recent news release:

MetaHuman Creator is a cloud-streamed app designed to take real-time digital human creation from weeks or months to less than an hour, without compromising on quality. It works by drawing from an ever-growing library of variants of human appearance and motion, and enabling you to create convincing new characters through intuitive workflows that let you sculpt and craft the result you want. As you make adjustments, MetaHuman Creator blends between actual examples in the library in a plausible, data-constrained way. You can choose a starting point by selecting a number of preset faces to contribute to your human from the diverse range in the database. 

You can select from around 30 hair styles that use Unreal Engine’s strand-based hair, or hair cards for lower-end platforms. There’s also a set of example clothing to choose from, as well as 18 differently proportioned body types. When you’re happy with your human, you can download the asset via Quixel Bridge, fully rigged and ready for animation and motion capture in Unreal Engine, and complete with LODs. You’ll also get the source data in the form of a Maya file, including meshes, skeleton, facial rig, animation controls, and materials.Once you have your asset, you can animate it using performance capture tools—you can use Unreal Engine’s Live Link Face iOS app, and we’re also currently working with vendors on providing support for ARKitDI4DDigital DomainDynamixyzFacewareJALISpeech Graphics, and Cubic Motion solutions—or keyframe it manually. Animations created for one MetaHuman will run on any other MetaHuman, enabling you to reuse work across projects.

So overall, very interesting with high potential for digital artists and developers of the Unreal Engine for games and animation projects. Anyone can delve in more with news updates (and possible beta-testing), and samples (see video below) to use with the latest Unreal update at unrealengine.com.

Made in Korea sci-fi comics series explores AI and identity, this Spring

This May of 2021, Image Comics plans to release a new science fiction story six-issue monthly series to comic store shelves, Made In Korea, by writer Jeremy Holt (Virtually Yours, Before Houdini) and artist George Schall (Planet of the Apes, Chasing Echoes).

Made In Korea follows Jesse, the world’s first true A.I. system, on an exciting exploration of what it means to be a family in an age when biological parenthood is no longer a reality.

“As an identical triplet and Korean adoptee, I wanted to explore my own self-exploration of identity through the lens of science-fiction,” said Holt in a recent press release. “I think anyone that is looking for a new take on an artificial intelligence story will thoroughly enjoy what George and I have crafted.”

Schall added: “In a genre that often feels old because of how fast our world evolves, Jeremy has managed to write a story that feels both very personal and relevant to this day. Doesn’t matter if you’re a sci-fi fan or not, there’s something everyone will be able to relate to in this comic.”

Made In Korea #1 is scheduled to hit shelves in time for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and will be available at comic book shops and popular digital apps on Wednesday, May 26.

In the meantime, here’s a five -page early preview (thanks to Image Comics, visit imagecomics.com):

The Old Guard returns to comic shelves with a new Tales anthology

The creative work of writer Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernández’s critically-acclaimed comic book (and adapted into a Netflix original series) work The Old Guard returns in 2021 with an an anthology arc in The Old Guard: Tales Through Time. This six-issue series from Image Comics is now set for this April.

This new anthology will feature an array of top industry talent with new stories from series co-creators Rucka and Fernández, joined by such contributors as: Vita Ayala, Brian Michael Bendis, Kelly Sue Deconnick, Matt Fraction, David F. Walker, Horacio Altuna, Rick Burchett, Valentine De Landro, Justin Greenwood, Kano, Nicola Scott, and more.

“I’m always a little stunned when people want to come and play with our toys, to be honest,” said Rucka, in an exclusive feature at Polygon. “It helps me with my own writing. It’s easy to get set onto a track with a character or an idea—having someone come in from outside for a visit, so to speak, allows a fresh perspective, and pushes me to rethink my own assumptions and conclusions about these characters.”

Andromache the Scythian—a warrior over six thousand years old, who has fought more battles than she cares to remember—has kept one constant companion through her long lifetime of combat…her labrys. Andy’s battle axe takes many forms, and many lives, in its centuries at her side, a story told by The Old Guard creators Greg Rucka & Leandro Fernández.

Meanwhile, Nicolo “Nicky” di Genova and Yusuf “Joe” al-Kaysani, lovers since they tried (and failed) to kill each other in the First Crusade, spend an evening at Berlin’s famed Eldorado nightclub in the twilight era of 1932, sharing drinks with drag queens and fistfighting Nazis in an all-new story by writer Andrew Wheeler (Another Castle: Grimoire) and Jacopo Camagni (Nomen Omen)!

Fernández told Polygon: “It’s amazing, and a beautiful exercise, to see how other minds conceive, understand and even suggest something over what we’ve done from scratch. This opens a new way to understand how these characters could be seen from other eyes. All of a sudden, they have a life, a voice of their own.”

The Old Guard: Tales Through Time #1 will feature 3 multiple covers with cover A (above) by Fernández, cover B (see below) by Jacopo Camagni, and cover C (see below) interconnecting “Battlefield” Variant by Leandro Fernández will be available at comic book shops and popular digital platforms on Wednesday, April 21.

[NEWS]The Old Guard comic series returns with a new Tales Through Time Anthology, coming this Spring

Special thanks to Image Comics for providing the awesome covers. Visit imagecomics.com!

My Little Pony, Transformers brings new Friendship in Disguise for 2021

Rekindle the Magic of the Pony and Autobot Friendship!

IDW recently announced another delightful, magical comic book mashup of Hasbro classic toy properties with My Little Pony / Transformers II, a four-part monthly miniseries appearing on comic book shelves this April

While using a modified Spacebridge to bring magic to Cybertron, the Decepticons end up unleashing a more powerful evil from Equestria than they ever could’ve imagined. Two worlds collide in the return of this hit crossover concept, with a first issue by writers James Asmus and Sam Maggs, and artists Jack Lawrence and Casey W. Coller!

“I can’t wait to jump back into this world of magical friendships that really is More than Meets the Eye,” says Maggs in a recent IDW press release. “It’s such a blast coming up with the most fun (and downright weird) pairings of ponies and ‘bots, and I think fans of both series are going to be surprised at what’s we’ve got for them this second time around!”

“The first crossover was about as much fun as I’ve had in my writing career,” says Asmus. “I am hugely delighted that we’re not only doing a follow up, but getting to flip the script. In the first series, we got to tell really charming and fun stories by tossing the Autobots and Decepticons into the colorful, magical world of Equestria. But now, dragging dark magic and friendly ponies into the sci-fi world of Cybertron lets us play with brand new tones, toys, and team-ups!”

Editor Megan Brown says, “We are so excited to work with some amazingly talented writers and artists to bring this marvelous mashup back to comic stores! Just like the previous volume, many creators are contributing stories that are going to bring our favorite ponies to Cybertron and beyond, including returning writers James Asmus, Sam Maggs, Ian Flynn, and returning artists Jack Lawrence, Casey W. Coller, Priscilla Tramontano, and Tony Fleecs — all joined by some new, exciting faces! The creators on this series are exceptional, able to bridge the gap between Autobot and pony to make a colorful, vibrant world. We’re thrilled for everyone (and everypony!) to see what we have in store!”

My Little Pony / Transformers II #1 will be available with multiple cover variants including Cover A by Tony Fleecs, Cover B by Bethany McGuire-Smith, and two Retailer Incentive editions featuring art by Jon Gray and Anna Malkova, respectively.

My Little Pony / Transformers II #1 will arrive this April in print at comic book stores, and digitally through popular apps this April, 2021.

YALSA reveals its best of graphic novels, comics vols for 2021

The Young Adult Library Association (YALSA) of the ALA (American Library Association) recently revealed its own list of “Great Graphic Novels for Teens,” for the 2021 year ahead.

This list was comprised by a committee of librarians from across the U.S. and one from the American Library in Paris. This selection of 126 titles narrowed down from 145 nominations. Each book is considered suitable for readers aged 12 to 18, and selected to “meet the criteria of both good quality literature and appealing reading for teens.” That list can be viewed on their website at www.ala.org/yalsa/2021-great-graphic-novels-teens.

Also for YALSA, a team of librarian bloggers handpicked a top Ten list of graphic novel reads for young adults. That list is as follows…

Almost American Girl by Robin Ha. Balzer and Bray (HarperCollins) – Ha discusses the challenges of moving to America from her childhood home in South Korea, providing an honest and thoughtful perspective on being an outsider, finding your community, and how it feels to return to a home you’ve left behind.

Blue Flag (volume 1-5) manga by Kaito (Viz Media) – An unexpected love quadrangle forms when Taichi agrees to help Futaba pursue her crush, Toma, while friend Mami looks on. But Toma has feelings for someone else, and as friendships and romantic relationships develop, nothing is as clear cut as it seems.

Fights: One Boy’s Triumph Over Violence by Joel Christian Gill (Oni Press) – Joel Christian Gill narrates what it was like for him to grow up in a single-parent household in the 1980s, from childhood to young adulthood—Black, broke, and surrounded by uncertainty.

Go With the Flow by Karen Schneemann, art by Lily Williams (First Second / Macmillan) – Fed up with the empty tampon and pad dispensers at Hazelton High School, sophomores Abby, Brit, Christine, and Sasha decide to start a “menstruation revolution.” Through blog posts, letter-writing campaigns, and online fundraisers, the girls work together to make change.

Guantánamo Voices: True Accounts from the World’s Most Infamous Prison by Sarah Mirk, art by Gerardo Alba, Kasia Babis, Alex Beguez, Tracy Chahwan, Nomi Kane, et al. Abrams (ComicsArts / Abrams Books) – 2 Narratives about the infamous Guantánamo prison are illuminated in this anthology by multimedia journalist Sarah Mirk and a team of talented artists.

The Low, Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado, art by DaNi. (Hill House Comics / DC Comics) – El and Vee black out and lose time in a movie theater. While trying to figure out what happened, the girls uncover horrifying secrets about their community that span generations.

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen. (Random House Graphic / Penguin Random House) – Tiến is a first-generation Vietnamese American who struggles with coming out of the closet to his parents. Will Tiến find a way to connect in the fairytales he shares with his mother?

Snapdragon by Kat Leyh. (First Second / Macmillan. 2020) – Snap knows witches aren’t real, but when her dog goes missing, she checks at the local witch’s house just in case. From there, an unlikely friendship begins, and Snap discovers that witches may be real after all.

Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang, art by Gurihiru. (DC Comics) – In 1946, Lan-Shin (Roberta) Lee and her family move from Chinatown to central Metropolis and attempt to fit in with their neighbors. But when the Klan begins harassing the Lees, Roberta must team up with new friends to help Superman take down the Klan in this smart, action-packed adventure.

Wonder Twins, Volume 1 and 2) by Mark Russell, art by Stephen Byrne (DC Comics) – In this humorous and satirical reboot, alien twins Zan and Jayna have to balance their lives as high schoolers in Metropolis while trying to figure out if their actions as heroes are actually helping to solve any of the world’s real issues.

..

Overall, both lists are great with a nice look back at the best of 2020. But, also important is that much on this list holds a variety of genres, a mix of non-fiction and fiction, and full of ethnic and cultural diversity in both the art and creators involved. This list can be useful at all comic stores as a well, while we wait for the libraries to reopen.