SW 2017 Early Summer Big Comics GN and TP Reading List!

This summer has much in store for all comics reading adventurers out there. Set sail for your local comic stores and book retailers and take a look!

But often, the good treasure is easily missed. So here through Stranger Worlds, we have compiled a list through personal experiences, peer reviews, grapevine whispering, and good old-fashioned speculation to bring you some recommended reads. Many are in softcover trade paperback format,  collecting issues of popular monthly series. Others are in the graphic novel format, usually in hardcover. Many here are not part of some longstanding franchise or continuing from some long-running series. Such are fresh and easy for anyone for jumping in.

So take a look at the 20 selected below, and note any of interest. Each selection is either already out, or will be due out soon (range from early June to middle July). Ask for them at your favorite bookseller!

BLACK PANTHER: WORLD OF WAKANDA
Volume 1

Writer: Various
Artist: Various
Publisher: Marvel
Release Date: June 22, 2017
Retail Price: $17.99

Wakanda! Home of the Black Panther, a proud and vibrant nation whose legends and mysteries run deep. Now, delve deep into Wakanda’s lore with a love story where tenderness is matched by brutality! You know them as the Midnight Angels, but for now, they are just Ayo and Aneka – young women recruited to become Dora Milaje, an elite task force trained to protect the crown of Wakanda at all costs. But with their king shamed and their queen killed, Ayo and Aneka must take justice into their own hands! They’ve been officers. Rebels. Lovers. But can they be leaders? Plus: the return of former White Tiger, Kasper Cole! As Wakanda burns, Cole can only watch helplessly from halfway around the world. Will he find a new beginning – or meet a painful end? Collecting BLACK PANTHER: WORLD OF WAKANDA #1-6.

ROCKSTARS
Volume 1: NATIVITY IN BLACKLIGHT

Writer: Joe Harris
Artist: Megan Hutchison
Publisher: Image
Release Date: June 14, 2017
Retail Price: $9.99

When a pattern of unsolved “groupie” murders from the 1970s resumes in present-day Los Angeles, nobody makes the connection except Jackie Mayer, a rock nerd with a strange connection to music’s urban legends and a mysterious ability to “see” what most people miss. Together with a muckraking music writer and his loyal cat,  Jackie uncovers an underground conspiracy involving a legendary band, demonic possession, and sacrifices to the dark gods of rock. Fan-favorite JOE HARRIS (GREAT PACIFIC, The X-Files) and the mega-talented MEGAN HUTCHISON deliver a crash course in rock ‘n’ roll’s untold mysteries, secret histories, and seedy underbellies. Collects ROCKSTARS #1-5

LOOSE ENDS
A Southern Crime Romance

Writer: Jason Latour
Artist: Chris Brunner
Publisher: Image
Release Date: July 5th, 2017
Retail Price: $16.99

No one seemed to notice Sonny Gibson as he stepped back into “The Hideaway,” a dusty little honky-tonk nestled off the Carolina highway. But before the night was over, Sonny would be on the run from the law, from criminals, and even from himself. LOOSE ENDS is a gritty, slow-cooked, Southern crime romance that follows a winding trail down Tobacco Road, through the war-torn streets of Baghdad, and into the bright lights and bloody gutters of South Florida. From JASON LATOUR, co-creator of Eisner-winning SOUTHERN BASTARDS and the writer of Spider-Gwen, CHRIS BRUNNER (SOUTHERN BASTARDS, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight), and RICO RENZI (Spider-Gwen, Squirrel Girl). Collects LOOSE ENDS #1-4.

PLUM CRAZY TALES OF TIGER STRIPED CAT
Deadly Season

Writer,  Artist: Hoshino Natsumi
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
Release Date: July 5, 2017
Retail Price: $11.99

A must-have for cat lovers everywhere, for fans of Chi’s Sweet Home. Plum Crazy! Tales of a Tiger-Striped Cat is an adorable new manga series that features the hilarious adventures a clever cat named Plum. Plum, as her family calls her, is a tiger-striped cat that lives with Miss Nakari, a single mother to her teenaged son, Taku. Plum can understand what people say to her, and she can even tell what’s in their minds. She also has many friends among the neighborhood cats. All is well in her everyday life until the day a mischievous kitten named Snowball joins Plum’s happy household. Will the naughty little newcomer turn Plum’s world completely topsy-turvy? Or will Snowball make her life even sweeter?

ARMIES 

Writer: Jean-Pierre Dionnet, Picaret
Artist: Jean-Claude Gal
Publisher: Humanoids
Release Date: July 5, 2017
Retail Price: $19.99

A collection of stories featuring an unstoppable army and an indomitable hero, all set amid the backdrop of barbaric and medieval lands. Jean-Pierre Dionnet shortly gained the favor of the public and has since grown immensely. This is the occasion for all lovers of the heroic fantasy genre to return to its roots.

APPLESEED: ALPHA
Deadly Season

Writer: Masamune Shirow, Iou Kuroda
Artist: Iou Kuroda
Publisher: Kodansha
Release Date: July 5, 2017
Retail Price: $24.99

A prequel to the cyberpunk franchise Appleseed by Shirow Masamune, creator of The Ghost in the Shell. In the 22nd century, New York City is a war-torn place ruled by warlords and a giant robot mayor with three eyes and a three-piece suit. While there, Deunan and her cyborg lover Briareos stumble across two citizens of a legendary utopia. It’s up to them to guard what could be humanity’s best chance to rebuild. 

GLISTER, TP

Writer,  Artist: Andi Watson
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: July 5, 2017
Retail Price: $14.99

Strange things happen around Glister Butterworth. A young girl living on her family’s English estate, Glister has unusual adventures every day, like the arrival of a teapot haunted by a demanding ghost, a crop of new relatives blooming on the family tree, a stubborn house that walks off its land in a huff, and a trip to Faerieland to find her missing mother.
o All four Glister stories collected into a value-priced edition!

ALACK SINNER AGE OF INNOCENCE

Writer: Carlos Sampayo
Artist: Jose Munoz
Publisher: Euro Comics
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Retail Price: $29.99

Alack Sinner: The Age of Innocence is the first of two volumes that present, for the first time in English, the complete Alack Sinner comics by the Argentine-born team of artist José Muñoz and writer Carlos Sampayo. Sinner is a hard-boiled private detective whose adventures are played out to a jazz soundtrack in a noir New York from 1975 through the 2000s. The Age of Innocence collects eleven stories, including “Talkin’ with Joe,” “The Webster Case,” “The Fillmore Case,” “Viet Blues,” “Life Ain’t a Comic Strip, Baby,” “Twinkle, Twinkle,” and “Dark City.” Alack Sinner is an international bestseller and between them, Muñoz and Sampayo are winners of Europe’s top comics awards.

ALICE & ZOUROKU
Volume 1

Writer,  Artist: Tetsuya Imai
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Retail Price: $12.99

A group of young girls possesses a mysterious power known as “Alice’s Dream,” which gives them the ability to turn their thoughts into reality. Detained and experimented upon, these youths are locked away in secret until one of them manages to escape. Her name is Sana – a girl with the power to ignore the very laws of physics. When this willful powerhouse crosses paths with a stubborn old man named Zouroku, his carefully ordered life will never be the same again!

CARTHAGO ADVENTURES

Writer: Christophe Bec, Alcante, Giles Daoust
Artist: Jaouen Fafner, Brice Cossu, Alexis Sentenac, Drazen Kovacevic
Publisher: Humanoids
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Retail Price: $34.95

The original adventures of London Donovan and his shadowy boss, “The Centenarian of the Carpathians,” in this action-packed spin-off from the best-selling Carthago. These five individual, but interlinked, stories see Donovan and billionaire Feiersinger combating all manner of malicious myths and monsters from the Californian Bigfoot and deadly African dinosaurs, to Arctic Sea creatures and giant Canadian wolves. Whether driven by a taste for adventure, a passion for scientific curiosity, or simply by pure obsession, join our unrelenting heroes as they chase and encounter creatures that are as mythical as they are deadly.

Flash Gordon
King’s Cross

Writer: Jeff Parker, Jesse Hamm
Artist: Jesse Hamm, Grace Allison
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Retail Price: $19.99

Ming the Merciless wants to claim Earth as the crown jewel of his empire! His latest scheme? Teleporting a continent from his homeworld of Mongo into the Pacific Ocean, thereby unleashing its monstrous beasts into our seas and causing catastrophic tidal waves to devastate our naval defenses! It’s up to Flash Gordon, the fearless daredevil who has unraveled the tyrant’s previous schemes at every turn, to once again rally his friends in defense of the Earth. Join intrepid reporter Dale Arden, eccentric scientist Dr. Zarkov, Mandrake the Magician, two iterations of The Phantom, Jungle Jim, and the timelost hero Prince Valiant in the wildest adventure on this or any world!

FOG OVER TOLBIAC BRIDGE

Writer, Artist: Jacques Tardi
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Retail Price: $19.99

Fog Over Tolbiac Bridge is the first of four major graphic novels adapted by Tardi from the legendary French crime writer Léo Malet’s original “Nestor Burma” novels. Tardi’s stylish use of mechanical gray tones provides the book with a lovely period feel which, combined with Tardi’s usual obsessive visual research, gives it a uniquely personal, authentic quality. Tardi’s adaptation is a cracking good detective yarn and a milestone in comics history.

MAKING SCENTS

Writer: Arthur Yorinks
Artist: Braden LamShelli Paroline
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Retail Price: $15.99

Mickey isn’t like his brothers and sisters. They’re stronger, faster, and they’re definitely better when it comes to smelling. You see, Mickey’s parents are dog nuts, and his “brothers and sisters” are their prize bloodhounds. Mickey eventually learns how to sniff out a trail as good as his siblings, and his parents have never been prouder. Life can’t get much better, but it’s about to get much worse. When a tragic accident leaves Mickey an orphan, he must leave his dog family behind to live with an aunt and uncle he’s never met before. Even worse, they hate dogs and kids.

MOTRO
Volume 1

Writer: Ulises Farinas, Erick Freitas
Artist: Ulises Farinas
Publisher: Oni Press
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Retail Price: $9.99

A reclusive young boy with superhuman strength tries to live up to the expectations of his dead father in a fantastic world of mechs and monsters. What will it take to fulfill his destiny? From illustrator and intricate world-builder Ulises Fariñas (IDW’s Judge Dredd), comes the first chronicle of the life and legend of a fantasy hero for the ages.

NIGHTS DOMINiON
Volume 1

Writer, Artist: Ted Naifeh
Publisher: Oni Press
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Retail Price: $9.99

A thief, an assassin, a mage and a cleric walk into a tavern in the ancient city of Umber. Awaiting them is a mysterious bard with a dangerous scheme: to break into the dungeon of a powerful death cult in search of treasure. For these five desperate criminals, it’s the last chance for hope in a city of corruption and despair.  But what they find instead is an undead army preparing to conquer the world. Now, they must fight to protect the city that pushed their backs to the wall or watch it burn. The acclaimed fantasy epic from New York Times Best-Selling author Ted Naifeh (Courtney Crumrin, Princess Ugg) begins here!

MOTOR CRUSH
Volume 1

Writers: Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr
Artists: Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr
Publisher: Image
Release Date: June 14, 2017
Retail Price: 9.99

The team behind the critically acclaimed revamp of Batgirl returns with an exciting sci-fi action-adventure series! By day, Domino Swift competes for fame & fortune in a worldwide motorcycle racing league. By night, she cracks heads of rival gangs in brutal bike wars to gain possession of a rare, valuable contraband: an engine-boosting “machine narcotic” known as Crush. Collects MOTOR CRUSH #1-5

CURSE WORDS
Volume 1

Writer: Charles Soule Artist: Ryan Browne
Publisher: Image
Release Date: June 19, 2017
Retail Price: 9.99

A wizard has appeared in present-day New York! His name is Wizord, and he’s here to save us all from dark magical forces bent on our destruction.
He’s the best wizard of all time! Or…he’s not, and he’s lying to everyone, and secretly is the dark magical force, but wants to hang out in our world for a while because it’s so much nicer than the hellhole he comes from. Secrets, and spells, and talking koalas-CURSE WORDS is a gonzo dark fantasy from CHARLES SOULE (Daredevil, Letter 44, Star Wars) and RYAN BROWNE (GOD HATES ASTRONAUTS). Collects CURSE WORDS #1-5

THE BACKSTAGERS
Volume 1

 Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Rian Sygh
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Release Date: July 19, 2017
Retail Price: $14.99

James Tynion IV (Detective Comics, The Woods) teams up with artist Rian Sygh (Munchkin, Stolen Forest) for an incredibly earnest story that explores what it means to find a place to fit in when you’re kinda an outcast. When Jory transfers to an all-boys private high school, he’s taken in by the lowly stage crew known as the Backstagers. Hunter, Aziz, Sasha, and Beckett become his new best friends and introduce him to an entire magical world that lives beyond the curtain that the rest of the school doesn’t know about, filled with strange creatures, changing hallways, and a decades-old legend of a backstage crew that went missing and was never found. Collects the first four issues.

CAVE CARSON HAS A CYBERNETIC EYE
Volume 1

Writer: Gerard Way, Jonathan Rivera, Tom Scioli
Artist: Tom Scioli, Michael Avon Oeming
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Retail Price: $19.99

Cave Carson has done it all: survived countless adventures below the Earth’s surface, met the love of his life, and gotten a cybernetic eye…somehow. Now, newly widowed, Cave tries to piece his life back together when a knock on the door of his secret underground lab pulls him back into a past that he and Eileen thought they had left buried deep within the Earth.In these tales from issues #1-6, Cave must determine if his recent hallucinations are the work of his mind or his mysterious cybernetic eye. (Spoiler: It’s the eye).

That’s all for now. We plan on listing more up for the later half of summer. In the meantime, if anything here catches your interest and you enjoyed…we would love to hear from you. Or, if we missed out on something just coming out, also let us know!

Hardcover Comics, Graphic Novel Holiday Gift Guide 2016

photo-dec-17-7-12-09-am

Tis the holiday season, to give something new for the sequential art lover you know…

Below, are my hardcover comic book volume and graphic novel suggestions. Why such things for gifts? Because, the hardcover format gives a lasting quality, and adds a bit of deserving specialness to it. The sequential art form within can hold deeper, longer lasting appreciation to those holding a hardbound shell, when prominent on their home bookshelf or coffee table.

So, these picks below are hand-picked favorites by us, having read and enjoyed each one. Each pick is likely available through local comic and retail bookstores. Ordering online is good too, but part of the fun for the holidays is also visiting local shops while humming Christmas tunes. So, print or write these out, and don’t forget the wrapping paper!

SUPERMAN: AMERICAN ALIEN

superman-_-american-alien

  • Writer / Artist: Max Landis / Various Artists
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: October, 2016
  • Pages: 224 Price: 24.99 ISBN: 978-1401262563

“Screenwriter and Eisner Award nominee Max Landis (Chronicle, American Ultra, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN) presents the seven-issue miniseries that chronicles Clark Kent’s development into the archetypal hero he will eventually become. With the tone of each issue ranging from heartwarming and simple, to frighteningly gritty and violent, to sexy, sun-kissed and funny, SUPERMAN: AMERICAN ALIEN is unlike anything you’ve seen before. This new hardcover includes special bonus features.”

Get this for: Superman fans of any age, short story readers, those who like a little art variety, fun-loving campy readers, fans of the Flash TV show (also Smallville.)

ALEX + ADA: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION DELUXE EDITON HC

alex-ada

  • Writer / Artist: Jonathan Luna, Sarah Vaughan / Jonathan Luna
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: November, 2016
  • Pages: 376 Price: 49.99 ISBN: 978-1632158697
  • Age Range: 16 and Up

“Working closely with Moebius Production in France, Dark Horse puts the work of a master storyteller back in print—with some material in English for the first time! Stel and Atan are intFrom JONATHAN LUNA (THE SWORD, GIRLS, Spider-Woman: Origin) and SARAH VAUGHN (Sparkshooter, Ruined) comes ALEX + ADA, a sci-fi drama set in the near future. The last thing in the world Alex wanted was an X5, the latest in realistic androids, but after Ada is dropped into his life, he discovers she is more than just a robot and takes a huge risk to unlock Ada so she can think for herself and explore life as a sentient android. Can they survive the consequences? This oversized hardcover collects issues #1-15”

Get this for: Science fiction drama fans, android lovers, Black Mirror fans, futurists

MOEBIUS LIBRARY: THE WORLD OF EDENA

edena

  • Writer / Artist: Moebius
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: October, 2016
  • Pages: 360 Price: 49.95 ISBN: 978-1-50670-216-2
  • Age Range: 16 and Up

“Working closely with Moebius Production in France, Dark Horse puts the work of a master storyteller back in print—with some material in English for the first time! Stel and Atan are interstellar repairmen trying to find a lost space station and its crew. What they discover about the universe and themselves on the mythical paradise planet Edena, though, changes their lives forever. Moebius’s long-out-of-print World of Edena story arc gets a deluxe hardcover treatment, with its five main chapters—Upon a Star, Gardens of Edena, The Goddess, Stel, and Sra—collected here!”

Get this for: Fans of Moebius art, fans of classic Heavy Metal magazine and similar art of the late 1970s, early 1980s style, imagination lovers, science fiction fans

RIC AND MORTY BOOK 1

ric-and-morty-1

  • Writer / Artist: Zac Gorman / various artists
  • Publisher: Oni Press
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: December, 2016
  • Pages: 296 Price: 49.99 ISBN: 978-1620103609
  • Age Range: Older Teen and up

“The hit comic book series based on Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland’s hilarious [adult swim] animated show RICK & MORTY is now available in its first deluxe hardcover collection! Join the excitement as depraved genius Rick Sanchez embarks on insane adventures with his awkward grandson Morty across the universe and across time. Caught in the crossfire are his teenage granddaughter Summer, his veterinary surgeon daughter Beth, and his hapless son-in-law Jerry. This collection features the first ten issues of the comic book series, including ““The Wubba Lubba Dub Dub of Wall Street,” “Mort-Balls!,” “Ball Fondlers Special,” and more, along with hilarious mini-comics showcasing the whole family. This special hardcover edition also includes an exclusive sound clip of Rick and Morty and all the cover art from the first ten issues of the comic book series!”

Get this for: Ric and Morty fans, of course. Also, those who like to laugh and not take a lot of things too seriously.

BRIEF HISTORIES OF EVERYDAY OBJECTS

brief-histories

  • Writer / Artist: Andy Warner
  • Publisher: Picador (Imprint of Macmillan)
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: October, 2016
  • Pages: 224 Price: 20.00 ISBN: 9781250078650

“Brief Histories of Everyday Objects is a graphic tour through the unusual creation of some of the mundane items that surround us in our daily lives. Chapters are peppered with ballpoint pen riots, cowboy wars, and really bad Victorian practical jokes. Structured around the different locations in our home and daily life—the kitchen, the bathroom, the office, and the grocery store—award-nominated illustrator Andy Warner traces the often surprising and sometimes complex histories behind the items we often take for granted. Readers learn how Velcro was created after a Swiss engineer took his dog for a walk; how a naval engineer invented the Slinky; a German housewife, the coffee filter; and a radical feminist and anti-capitalist, the game Monopoly. This is both a book of histories and a book about histories. It explores how lies become legends, trade routes spring up, and empires rise and fall—all from the perspective of your toothbrush or toilet.”

Get this for: History and obscure trivia lovers. Those who engage in silly small talk. Those who need a new coffee table book. Anyone who likes to laugh and learn.

KLAUS

klaus

  • Writer / Artist: Andy Warner, Dan Mora
  • Publisher: BOOM! Studios
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: November, 2016
  • Pages: 208 Price: 34.99 ISBN: 9781608869039

“Who is Santa Claus? Meet the man before he became a myth.He’s a myth. He’s a legend. He’s loved worldwide by children and adults alike . . . but does anyone truly know the origins of Santa Claus? Set in a dark fantastic past of myth and magic, Klaus tells the origin story of Santa Claus. It’s the tale of one man and his wolf against a totalitarian state and the ancient evil that sustains it. Award-winning author Grant Morrison (All-Star Superman, The Multiversity) and artist Dan Mora (Hexed) revamp, reinvent, and re-imagine a classic superhero for the 21st century, drawing on Santa’s roots in Viking lore and Siberian shamanism, and taking in the creepier side of Christmas with characters like the sinister Krampus. Klaus finally answers the burning question: what does Santa Claus do on the other 364 days a year?.”

Get this for: Grant Morrison fans, Santa Claus, Krampus fans, dark humor lovers, those who enjoy a mix of clever writing but not take it too seriously.

TURN LOOSE OUR DEATH RAYS AND KILL THEM ALL!: THE COMPLETE WORKS OF FLETCHER HANKS

fletcher2

  • Writer / Artist: Fletcher Hanks
  • Publisher: Fantagrahics
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: December, 2016
  • Pages: 376 Price: 49.95 ISBN: 978-1606999677

“Fletcher Hanks was the first great comic book auteur: he wrote, penciled, inked, and lettered all of his own stories. He completed approximately 50 stories between 1939-1941, all unified by a unique artistic vision. Whether it’s the superhero Stardust doling out ice cold slabs of poetic justice, or the jungle protectress Fantomah tearing evildoers from limb to ragged limb, contemporary readers are stunned by the pop surrealism and outright violent mayhem of Hanks’ work. Originally featured in two paperback volumes, this deluxe hardcover collects―for the first time―all of Hanks’ previously published material, plus several gems newly discovered for this volume, making this the very first complete collection of the works of Fletcher Hanks. Full-color illustrations throughout.”

Note: Comics history buffs, vintage pulp lovers, classic Golden Age art fans.

THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL BEATS UP THE MARVEL UNIVERSE

squirrel-girl

  • Writer / Artist: Ryan North / Erica Henderson
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: October, 2016
  • Pages: 120 Price: 24.99 ISBN: 978-1302903039

“Proof that we’re living in the best of all possible worlds: THERE’S GONNA BE A SQUIRREL GIRL GRAPHIC NOVEL! It’s a stand-alone adventure that’s both great for new Squirrel Girl readers, and also for people who ALREADY know about how she can talk to squirrels and also punch really well! Behold: a story so HUGE it demanded a graphic novel! A story so NUTS that it incorporates BOTH senses of that word (insanity AND the weird hard fruit thingies) (they’re fruits, did you know that?) (I didn’t until I looked them up just now, so looks like we’re all learning science from this solicit text for a comic book!) Squirrel Girl has defeated Thanos, Galactus, and Doctor Doom. TWICE. But in this all-new graphic novel, she’ll encounter her most dangerous, most powerful, most unbeatable enemy yet: HERSELF. Specifically, an evil duplicate made possible through mad science (both computer and regular) as well as some Bad Decisions. In other words, SQUIRREL GIRL BEATS UP THE MARVEL UNIVERSE! YES. I CAN’T WAIT, AND I’M THE GUY WRITING IT..”

Get this for: Marvel fans, squirrel lovers, Deadpool fans, fun people.

ODY-C: CYCLE 1 HC

ODYC 1

  • Writer / Artist: Matt Fraction / Christian Ward
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: December, 2016
  • Pages: 400 Price: 49.99 ISBN: 978-1632159274

“ODY-C, modeled after Homer’s Odyssey, is a psychedelic, gender-broke science-fiction epic that tells the story of three legendary warrior-queens, Odyssia, Ene and Gamem, returning home after a centuries-long battle. Told in verse with a visual sensibility that redefines the very possibilities of the comics medium, this gloriously oversized hardcover also has exclusive bonus materials including essays by classicist Dani Colman, teaching aids, and a massive 10-page fold-out previously only available in the sold-out first issue.”

Note: Science fiction fans, epic story seekers, Greek epic tales connoisseurs, psychedelic art lovers, fans of the 5th Element.

That’s all for now. If you have any added suggestions or notes to add, please share in the comments below!

– Orion T

Hardcover Comics Volumes and Graphic Novels Holiday Gift Ideas..

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I got some gift suggestions for this holiday season, with something for everyone out there..

Below, are my hardcover comic book volume and graphic novel suggestions, (away from the superhero genre). Why such things for gifts? Because, the hardcover format gives a lasting quality for those who like their books on a shelf, and adds a bit of deserving specialness to it. The sequential art form within can hold deeper, longer lasting appreciation to those holding a hardbound shell. That’s how I see it, as I find myself bound to the hardcovers in my collection.

So, these picks below are hand-picked favorites by me (Orion!), having read and enjoyed each one. Each pick is likely available through local comic and retail book stores. Ordering online is good too, but part of the fun for the holidays is visiting local shops and checking out the holiday deco around. So, print or write these out, and don’t forget the wrapping paper!

Sweet Tooth – Deluxe Edition – Book One

Sweet_Tooth_Deluxe_Edition_Book_One

  • Writer/Artist: Jeff Lemire
  • Publisher: Vertigo (DC Comics imprint)
  • Hardcover Publication Date: Sept 8, 2015
  • Pages: 296 Price: 29.99 ISBN: 978-1401258719
  • Contains violent and mature content

“Kids like Gus have a price on their heads. Seven years ago, the Affliction raged like a forest fire, killing billions. The only children born since are part of a new breed of human-animal hybrids. Gus is one of these children, a boy with a sweet soul, a sweeter tooth-and the features of a deer. When vicious hunters descend on his isolated forest home, a mysterious and violent man called Jepperd rescues Gus. The hulking drifter promises to lead Gus to The Preserve, a fabled safe haven for hybrid children. As the two cross this dangerous new American frontier, will Jepperd corrupt the boy he’s nicknamed Sweet Tooth, or will Gus’s heart change Jepperd?  Written and illustrated by spectacular talent Jeff Lemire, SWEET TOOTH is a haunting tale of survival in post-apocalyptic America of friendships formed in tragedy, and the good and bad in humankind. Collects SWEET TOOTH #1-12, as well as never-before-seen sketches and an introduction by celebrated actor Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex, Frost/Nixon)..

Note: For anyone who loves a good hero’s journey through difficult times, with some fantastic twists and character development along the way. It’s got the right blend of humor, action, drama in post-apocalyptic storytelling.

Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland HC

Little Nemo

  • Writer: Eric Shanower
  • Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez
  • Publisher: IDW, HC Publication Date: July 23, 2015
  • Pages: 120, Price: 19.95, ISBN: 978-1631400599

“An all-new, all-ages series full of magic and whimsy from award-winning creators Eric Shanower (Adventures in Oz) and Gabriel Rodriguez (Locke & Key)! Spinning out of Winsor McKay’s brilliant early 20th Century strip, Return to Slumberland sees King Morpheus’ daughter, in the Royal Palace of Slumberland, selecting her next-playmate – Nemo! Only Nemo has no interest in being anyone’s playmate, dream or no dream! Winner of the 2015 Eisner Award for Best Limited Series.. “

Note: A magical blend of breathtaking art and storytelling; for anyone who enjoys a fresh fairy-telling with all the magic of the original Windsor McCay strips. This book is a true imaginative escape, for all ages.

The Kurdles

Kurdles

  • Writer/Artist: Archie Goodin
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics, HC Publication Date: May 1, 2015
  • Pages: 60 Price: 24.95, ISBN: 978-1606998328

“Sally is a teddy bear who gets separated from her owner while on a drive in the country. Desperate to find her way home, she stumbles upon Kurdleton, home to a most peculiar group of characters in the midst of a crisis: their forest house has grown hair, eyes, and a mouth! The creatures work with their new friend to keep Kurdleton from growing legs and running away! Goodin, an animation industry veteran, delivers a timeless classic in his debut graphic novel, introducing an unforgettable and charming cast of characters. Printed in an oversized format to showcase Goodin’s stunning, hand-painted artwork, The Kurdles will capture the imagination of all ages.

Note: A warm story for all ages, and a good starter for the those discovering comics for the first time (and not so much interested in the superhero stuff out there).

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Minicomic Collection HC

MOTU

  • Writer/Artist: various
  • Publisher: Dark Horse, HC Publication Date: October 21, 2015
  • Pages: 1,232 Price: 29.95, ISBN:978-1616558772

“The toy juggernaut Masters of the Universe and its subsequent action figure lines featured memorable pack-in minicomics that aided in playtime for children across the world. This oversized hardcover collection features sixty-eight US releases, including all minicomics from the eighties Masters of the Universe line, the eighties Princess of Power line, and the eighties and nineties He-Man line, plus an introduction to the minicomics in the current Masters of the Universe Classics toy line. Relive the illustrated adventures that fueled your imagination!

Note: Ridiculous fun on some many levels, as these reprinted comic stories originally came with the toys (with pushes to buy other relayed MOTU toys). Many comic artists and writers had their early start with these in the early 1980s – Robert Kirkman (Walking Dead), Bruce Timm (Batman), Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5), Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo), and many more. Plus, it’s packed with interviews and other surprises. Overall, a gem for 80s nostalgia lovers, fantasy art seekers, and MOTU fans.

Locke & Key – Master Edition – Volume 1

Locke And Key

  • Writer: Joe Hill
  • Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez
  • Publisher: IDW, HC Publication Date: June 4, 2015
  • Pages:  328, Price: 49.99, ISBN: 978-1631402241
  • Contains mature and violent content

“Acclaimed suspense novelist and New York Times best-selling author Joe Hill (Heart-Shaped Box) creates an all-new story of dark fantasy and wonder: Locke & Key. Written by Hill and featuring astounding artwork from Gabriel Rodriguez, Locke & Key tells of Keyhouse, an unlikely New England mansion, with fantastic doors that transform all who dare to walk through them… and home to a hate-filled and relentless creature that will not rest until it forces open the most terrible door of them all… Locke & Key creator Hill has received the Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction Collection, the British Fantasy Award for Best Collection and Best Short Story, and the Sydney J. Bounds Best Newcomer Award-2007, among his growing collection of critical accolades.”

“Named a “modern masterpiece” by The A.V. Club, the critically acclaimed series takes on new life in a reformatted hardcover collection. The Locke & Key Master Edition, Vol. 1 features the first two arcs, “Welcome to Lovecraft” and “Headgames,” with all-new cover art and design by co-creator Gabriel Rodriguez. “

Note: My favorite comic horror story epics of all times. This is my favorite edition of the series for its cool cover design and book-shelf friendly spine. A fantastic comic story that takes you about a third of the way in, and leave you wanting more. Highly recommended for anyone who loves classic Stephen king stories, character building, and plot twists.

Wayward -Deluxe Edition- Book One

Waywad vol 1

  • Writer: Jim Zub
  • Artist: Steve Cummings, Tamra Bonvillian, John Rauch
  • Publisher: Image Comics. HC Publication Date: October 14, 2015
  • Pages: 300, Price: 39.95 ISBN: 978-1632154736

“Rori Lane is trying to start a new life in Japan, but ancient creatures lurking in the shadows of Tokyo sense something hidden deep within her, threatening everything she holds dear. Can she unlock the secrets of her power before it’s too late? Image Comics’s new supernatural sensation gets the deluxe treatment in this oversized hardcover collection that includes every stunning cover illustration, design sketches, and extensive essay material on Japanese culture and mythology by noted monster scholar ZACK DAVISSON. Collects WAYWARD #1-10.

Note: Fantastic for those who love a little modern Japanese supernatural horror, combined with Japanese mythology. The art is beautiful, especially for those who appreciate modern digital coloring style. Story is great too, but enhanced further with the many extras within this edition.

Archie vs. Predator – HC editon

Archie Predator

  • Writer: Alex De Campi
  • Artist: Fernando Ruiz
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics, HC Publication Date: November 4, 2015
  • Pages: 128, Price: 19.95, ISBN: 978-1-616558055
  • Contains violent content

“When Archie and friends head south for Spring Break, party games and beach games are soon replaced by the Most Dangerous Game! As the unparalleled fierceness of Betty and Veronica lures the trophy-collecting Predator to Riverdale, will the kids even realize they’re in danger before it claims them all?! Collecting issues #1-#4 of the smash-hit series!”

Note: This one is pure fun with  all that one could love about the Riverdale case, combined with the over-the-top violent actions of the Predator. This is highly recommended for those with a sense of humor, and old-school slasher flicks.

Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck, The Last of the Clan McDuck – The Don Rosa Library Volume 4

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  • Writer/Artist: Don Rosa
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics, HC Publication Date: Dec  2015
  • Pages: 192,  Price: 29.99, ISBN: 978-1-606998663

“Uncle Scrooge, the world’s richest duck, knows exactly where he got every coin he ever earned. And in this fourth book of Duck epics by Don Rosa, that story begins to unfold at last! Relive Scrooge’s Scottish boyhood as “Last of the Clan McDuck,” then his teenage years as “Master of the Mississippi” on Uncle Pothole’s steamboat! Witness Scrooge’s first fights with the Beagle Boys and Flintheart Glomgold — and in a bonus “Chapter 0,” his earliest meeting with Magica De Spell! Presented with brilliant color and a treasure trove of Rosa’s cover art and behind-the-scenes factoids, these Duckburg epics are back in a definitive, comprehensive edition for posterity — at a bargain price worthy of Scrooge himself!”

Note: Why Volume 4? Because, this reprints the early half of the greatest Duck story of all, “The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.” Currently out of print as a standalone story, this story is now available through the Don Rosa Library (probably through volume 5, and maybe six). A sky-high recommendation for anyone who appreciates gripping art and storytelling, with solid character development on our iconic richest duck

Saga – Deluxe Edition – Book One

Saga

  • Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
  • Artist: Fiona Staples
  • Publisher: Image, HC Publication Date: November 24, 2015
  • Pages: 504,  Price: 49.99, ISBN: 978-1632150783
  • Contains mature content, graphic imagery depicting sex and violence.

“Collecting the first 18 issues of the smash-hit series, this massive edition features a striking new cover, as well as special extras, including never-before-seen sketches, script pages, and a roundtable discussion with the creators about how SAGA is really made. Altogether, this hardcover contains over 500 pages for less than fifty bucks! Written by Eisner Award-winning “Best Writer” BRIAN K. VAUGHAN (Y: The Last Man, The Private Eye) and drawn by Harvey Award-winning “Best Artist” Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40), SAGA is the story of Hazel, a child born to star-crossed parents from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war. Now, Hazel’s fugitive family must risk everything to find a peaceful future in a harsh universe that values destruction over creation. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in a sexy, subversive drama for adults that Entertainment Weekly called, “The kind of comic you get when truly talented superstar creators are given the freedom to produce their dream book. 

Note: My personal favorite ongoing comic series now ongoing. I can’t recommend this enough to those wanting everything in their sci-fi, fantasy stories…action, humor, philosophy, conflict big and small, challenging ideas, concepts and landscapes that open the imagination, character development, an involving cast..the list goes on. This deluxe edition will give new readers plenty to jump on, and sturdy enough to reread as I have multiple times.

That’s all for now. I may come back with a second helping of suggestions who also waiting till the last-minute. in the meantime, if you have any added suggestions or notes to add, please share in the comments below!

– Orion T

Banned and Challenged Comics Worth Reading

Banned Book Week

Banned Books Week is now, September 27 – October 3, 2015.

Since the days of metal moveable type, select books have been the subject of scrutiny, sorted for censorship and challenged by figures of authority. In our modern times, these books now include those in sequential arts format (comic books, graphic novels).

The reasons for censorship vary further with comic art, as visuals often enhance the type and message. These comics can exhibit a powerful force for change and subversion. Such works can enlarge the meaning and stir powerful emotions. They can also change one’s growth and development, and often inspire. But creativity and imagination have no limits, and can interfere with the intended moral directions of ruling establishments.

Banned Book Week is a resistance to censorship, and a continued fight to make sure creative writings that may offend or bother select groups, are not hidden for that purpose. Within great comic selections, there are excellent readings not to be missed.

Below are my suggestions and notes for popular banned and challenged (in certain areas and times) comics. I also included many “Case Study” links to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (cbldf.org). Keep in mind, some books do carry mature reader labels or age recommendations, which usually acts as a suggestion guide or warning.

Saga

Saga

  • Written/ Artist: Brain K Vaughan,  Fiona Staples
  • Publisher: Image Comics, 2012
  • Notes: Monthly series in single issue and collected in volumes.

“The series is heavily influenced by Star Wars, and based on ideas Vaughan conceived both as a child and as a parent. It depicts two lovers from long-warring extraterrestrial races, Alana and Marko, fleeing authorities from both sides of a galactic war as they struggle to care for their newborn daughter, Hazel, who occasionally narrates the series. “

Banned/Challenged by: Often challenged for removal, according to the American Library Association, for reasons of being “anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group ” Also, one monthly chapter of Saga was once removed by Apple for it’s mobile devices. Click here for the CBLDF Case Study.

A fantastic series for those who like a little bit of everything in their science fiction, with no limits to the imagination.

Barefoot Gen

Barefoot Gen

  • Written/Artist: Keiji Nakazawa
  • Publisher: Last Gasp 2004
  • Notes: Manga series, now collected in volumes. Originally published in Japan in Shonen Jump Magazine from 1973-1985.

“This harrowing story of Hiroshima was one of the original Japanese manga series. New and unabridged, this is an all-new translation of the author’s first-person experiences of Hiroshima and its aftermath, is a reminder of the suffering war brings to innocent people. Its emotions and experiences speak to children and adults everywhere. Volume one of this ten-part series details the events leading up to and immediately following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.”

Banned/Challenged by: Multiple educational institutions for being too graphic with violence and imagery, and also “anti-Japanese.” Click here for the CBLDF Case Study.

Otherwise critically acclaimed, and essential to those who appreciate manga as an art form in storytelling, and love historical fiction.

Bone

Bone

  • Written/Artist: Jeff Smith
  • Publisher: Originally Cartoon Books 1991 (self-published), now by Scholastic
  • Originally a series, now collected in volumes and a all-in-one omnibus

“The BONE adventures tell the story of a young bone boy, Fone Bone, and his two cousins, Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone, who are banned from their homeland of Boneville. When the cousins find themselves mysteriously trapped in a wonderful but often terrifying land filled with secrets and danger – and special new friendships – they are soon caught up in adventures beyond their wildest dreams.”

Banned/Challenged by: Multiple school libraries, often challenged for multiple reasons (political stuff, drinking) and being “unsuitable” for minors. Click here for the CBLDF Case Study.

Great fantastic series, but I think a repeat target because of the cartoony appearance of lead characters. Still, a great read for all ages wanting a bit more than the typical G-rated Disney formulaic stuff in their epic fantasy literature.

Maus

Maus

  • Written/Artist: Art Spiegelman
  • Publisher: Pantheon, 1991
  • Notes: Originally published in serialized parts in Raw Magazine, 1980-1991. Now obtainable through the direct market in a complete book.

“The Pulitzer Prize-winning “Maus” tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father’s story. “Maus” approaches the unspeakable through the diminutive. Its form, the cartoon (the Nazis are cats, the Jews mice), shocks us out of any lingering sense of familiarity and succeeds in ‘drawing us closer to the bleak heart of the Holocaust'”

Banned/Challenged by: Pasadena Public Library in Pasadena, California. Major book chains in Russia. Reason: anti-ethnic and unsuited for age group. Probably other areas for it’s Swastika imagery. Click here for the CBLDF Case Study.

An essential read for all those who love comics. The storytelling is emotionally gripping, and at times quite suspenseful. Also, the only comic story to win a Pulitzer Prize.

The Boys

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  • Written/Artist:  Garth Ennis / John McCrea
  • Publisher: Year: Dynamite, 2007
  • Notes: Monthly series, collected in volumes.

“This is going to hurt! In a world where costumed heroes soar through the sky and masked vigilantes prowl the night, someone’s got to make sure the “supes” don’t get out of line. And someone will! Billy Butcher, Wee Hughie, Mother’s Milk, The Frenchman, and The Female are The Boys: A CIA-backed team of very dangerous people, each one dedicated to the struggle against the most dangerous force on Earth – superpower! Some superheroes have to be watched. Some have to be controlled. And some of them – sometimes – need to be taken out of the picture. That’s when you call in The Boys!”

Banned/Challenged by: Qatar’s Ministry of Culture, banned and denied checkout to a reader there for being “offensive.” More info here.

Garth Ennis uses lot of dark humor in his writing, but with fantastic character development (other works including Preacher, Punisher, Hitman). The Boys is among his best creative work, though not as popular as his Preacher..but should be.

Perseopolis:

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  • Written/Artist: Marjane Sartrapi
  • Publisher: Pantheon 2003

“Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming–both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.”

Banned/Challenged by: Multiple schools for different reasons including “coarse language and scenes of torture.” Click here for the CBLDF Case Study.

Not only fantastic for its challenging content, but for the art style and storytelling. Though it was later adapted into an award winning animated film, this book is a better  as Marjane Sartrapi’s memoir.

Sidescrollers:

SideScrollers

  • Written/Artist: Matthew Loux
  • Publisher: Oni, 2006

“Brian, Brad and Matt are best described as lovable perpetual losers. They’re good guys who just lack direction and are all too happy to be enjoying that lazy time after high school. Their favorite thing to do in life is to play video games, eat junk food and kick around the suburban town they live in. All of this tranquil laziness is interrupted when Brian, Brad and Matt discover that the new girl Amber (of whom Matt is sweet on) is going to that night’s big local rock show with Richard, the bully football jock. Determined to steer her away from Richard, the boys are launched off of their lazy rears and forced into a grand adventure. Chased by an irate football team, a vengeful troop of Girl Scouts and a stalking evil cat that may actually be possessed by Satan, our heroes are thrust into a giant rock ‘n’ roll videogame adventure.”

Banned/Challenged by: Connecticut School District after a complaint of sexual references and profanity. Click here for the CBLDF Case Study.

Well received for its time, and often recommended on various shelves of comic stores and libraries. But, also relevant for the growing inclusion of geek culture to the current pop mainstream.

The Color of Earth

Color Of Earth

  • Written/Artist:  Kim Dong Hwa
  • Publisher: First Second 2009 (Macmillan)

“First love is never easy…Ehwa grows up helping her widowed mother run the local tavern, watching as their customers – both neighbors and strangers – look down on her mother for her single lifestyle. Their social status isolates Ehwa and her mother from the rest of the people in their quiet country village. But as she gets older and sees her mother fall in love again, Ehwa slowly begins to open up to the possibility of love in her life.”

Banned/Challenged by: Multiple institutions according to the American Library Association, as it’s on their “Top Ten most Challenged Books of 2011.” This for reasons on nudity and sexual content.  Click here for the CBLDF Case Study.

Not personally read, but I have seen this book often on suggested lists for reading.

Blankets

Blankets

  • Written/Artist:  Craig Thompson
  • Publisher: Top Shelf Productions, 2003

“…A rarity: a first-love story so well remembered and honest that it reminds you what falling in love feels like. …achingly beautiful.” – Time magazine Wrapped in the landscape of a blustery Wisconsin winter, Blankets explores the sibling rivalry of two brothers growing up in the isolated country, and the budding romance of two coming-of-age lovers. A tale of security and discovery, of playfulness and tragedy, of a fall from grace and the origins of faith.”

Banned/Challenged by: The Marshall Public Library, Missouri (2006), challenged for “obscene illustrations.” Click here for the CBLDF Case Study.

A fantastic multi-dimensional read with powerful story developments do emotional themes. Also, a long read for a graphic novel at 562 pages..something to take time with, as the artwork is beautiful.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier 

Black Dossier

  • Written/Artist:  Alan Moore, Kevin O’Neill
  • Publisher: DC Comics, 2008
  • Note: Part of a series, as the full story calls for the reading of Volume 1 and 2 of the series, while this is placed before Volume 3 and the Nemo sub-series (printed by Top Shelf).

“The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen returns in this amazing new Absolute Edition! England in the mid 1950s is not the same as it was. The powers that be have instituted…some changes. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has been disbanded and disavowed, and the country is under the control of an iron-fisted regime. Now, after many years, the still youthful Mina Murray and a rejuvenated Allan Quatermain return and are in search of some answers. Answers that can only be found in a book buried deep in the vaults of their old headquarters, a book that holds the key to the hidden history of the League throughout the ages:”

Banned/Challenged by: Denied checkout to an 11-year old girl by two employees of the Jessamine County Public Library in Kentucky (who were fired shortly after), on grounds of “pornographic” content. Click here for the CBLDF Case Study.

The work of Alan Moore has been challenged multiple times from Watchmen to Neonomicon. But what sets this book apart is Alan Moore’s unique interpretation on classic characters and events. While there is nudity and sexual references, I feel it is especially important that any profound interpretation on classic literature be kept in the open to anyone, regardless of content. Plus, the series as a whole is fun.

That’s all for now. I hope you have added at least a few of these to your reading list. If you checked out any of these banned books and have thoughts to share, or have suggestions of your own..let us know in the comments.

-Orion T

SW Interviews Empowered comics writer/artist Adam Warren

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Comics writer/artist creative Adam Warren has entertained readers for over two decades with a signature style and wit.

Older school fans may know him from his work with Dirty Pair (Eclipse, Dark Horse publishers), and Gen-13. Since then, Warren produced his style through various comics, often with anime/manga influences combined with humorous tones, while poking fun on modern sexism in comics art. Currently through Dark Horse Publishing, Warren brings us the Empowered superheroine..

Warren’s Empowered series remains his most ambitious creative work to date, released in thick medium-sized trade paperback sized volumes. The pages within showcase the life of the self-conscious superheroine Empowered, whose powers come at the price of shrinking costume and repeat captivity. Empowered is full of action, humor, and fun.

I met with Adam Warren while he was sketching at the Udon Entertainment booth, during the 2015 San Diego Comic Con. We had a chat which led to a revealing look at his Empowered series, and more. The details of this conversation follows:

Hello Adam. First off, it’s awesome to meet you here at the Udon booth here at Comic Con, but now I am curious as to what you have going on with this company…

Warren: Off and on, I have done assorted Street Fighter based work for my friends at Udon. I actually wrote a little something for them in an upcoming project that I am not sure has been announced yet. But, it was a great deal of fun. I have always loved the Street Fighter universe, where I enjoy playing around. It’s always refreshing to do something for my friends at Udon.

So, who is your favorite Street Fighter character?

Warren: That would be Cammy!

Cammy Sketch

Aw yeah!

On to your current Empowered comic book series.. These books are a lot of fun and chock full of campy good times. Where does that energy and inspiration comes from?

Warren: That’s a tough one. It’s a weirdly kind of based on life experiences and things that kind of happened to people I know, with conversations I have had in real life. It’s not obvious, because I never would never do autobiographical stuff in a million years. But, a lot of it is things that I have seen happen, that sort of inspired me to think how friends of mine would react to this kind of thing.

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Emp is partially based on several different women I have known, who kind of dealt with insecurities but overcome them with sheer force of will. It’s a kind of a combo of real life stuff and things I see or read about that, which would be kind of fun to address. The good thing about Empowered is that I can do whatever I want with it. I am not locked into a limited page count or I can take tangents and fun story variants without worrying how it fits into an overarching stream of continuity. Its openness and flexibility that lends itself to whatever I think is appropriate in a story.

That kind answers my second question on Emp. On, if she was directly based on anyone you may know..

Warren: I wouldn’t say directly. When I was doing Magical Drama Queen Roxy, I interviews a couple of friends of mine and I would come up with their perceptions and break out with my own mold of thinking of what a younger female character would do, and Emp is sort of derived from a lot of that work and theories I had when working on Gen-13. In a way, she is sort of an unholy combination of Roxy and Caitlin from Gen-13; a sort of the good girl Caitlin girl crossed with the insecurities of Roxy. In an interesting sort of a way she is that combination of the two.

Your Gen-13 work was awesome back in the day. I loved the hell out of that.

Warren: Thank you very much.

So. you may have you have heard about the recent controversy on that Spider-Woman cover of Marvel Comics with artist Milo Manara. I would love to hear your thoughts on that..

Warren: Definitely. It is a very different audience for us back in the day. I don’t know really..It’s one of those things I should like with the flexibility of Empowered to deal with some of the issues of objectification in its various forms.

We can just leave it at that.

Warren: Yeah, I usually stay the hell out of controversies when they grow online. But, I think that with Empowered, I heard we have a substantial female readership that seems to relate to the characters. I like to hope that I do the best I can to make Emp not nothing but an object. I see her as a human being. I don’t feel it’s that difficult to stay away and not go over the line. But your lines may vary.

But, I do feel there is a bit of meta commentary on that subject with Empowered..

Warren: Yeah, I feel the meta commentary and a semi-deconstruction of varied weird super-heroine tropes that are out there..though we actually traffic in the tropes and say at the time that some people have issues with. But we had pretty good response and really pleased despite the off-putting elements that Empowered is pretty well received by a female readership. I’m happy about that and if I knew it was going to be a continuing series, there would have been aspects I would play down from the very beginning..

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It actually evolved from a bunch of damsels in distress commissions during a time when my career was effectively dead. So, I got bored with that and it got turned into a real comic on what I was thinking on what goes through the mind and what someone has to put up with this crap that super-heroines have to deal with. It’s kind of where the whole series comes from. As it would relate to how someone in that position would think. The entire series derives from that, and it sort of took on a life of its own. I feel it’s kind of humanizing the sort of C-list superheroine…I like to hope.

I think so. Now, I wondering what favorite female characters might have influenced your style on the female form. I have some guesses, and wondering if they match..

Warren: When I was a kid. I didn’t actually care for the comics but was a big Wonder Woman fan from the TV show more than anything else. But, DC Comics was rather boring in the 70s and Marvel was much more exciting.

Hmm…She Hulk?

Warren: Oh yeah..And back in the day, Shanna the She Devil, of which I am actually drawing right now (see pic below). I was reading some of that back in the day. But, there wasn’t a ton of super-heroines coming out in Marvel.

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Ah, I see. Though, I was thinking of Cutey Honey and anime women of that classic era of “Japanimation..”

Warren: I wasn’t thinking anime or manga, until I was a grown-up. I didn’t grow up with any of that stuff. My first exposure to the Dirty Pair wasn’t until I was 18 or so. Clearly the thing with the heroines in manga and anime were much more important and influential to me than American comics ever were, since that point.

Dirty Pair was your first work, right?

Warren: Oh yeah. I was so taken with the characters that I thought they would make a great American comic, and I went lively off trying to develop that.

I loved that work. So, with Empowered: Volume 9 coming out and to those dedicated fans out there, could you share a bit on what to expect in your latest installment?

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Warren: Yes! Volume 9 deals with the the fact due to that Emp is able to access a super alien arsenal. You don’t need to read volume 8 to follow it. But in that aftermath, she is now the literally the most dangerous human on the planet, because of her access to the super weapons. So, in volume 9, essentially all the major super villains in the Empowered universe are coming after her, and she is going to have to outfight and outwit and outthink and outstrategize pretty much all the major super-villains. So, it’s her alone against an endless sea of super-villains wanting to exploit her for access. It’s focusing on her more in than the last couple with Volumes 7 and 8 focused on Ninjette and Sister Spooky. Volume 9 is very much Emp-centric.

So, a silly question for my curiosity. Let’s say somewhere out there a studio with millions of Disney dollars decides to produce a live action Emp movie that could work. Who would you picture as perfect to play Emp? And have you ever thought about this?

Warren: I haven’t actually. I am trying to think..hmm, actually…that’s not entirely true. I think her name is Maika Monroe.. She was the star of It Follows, a recent indie horror flick. She would make a great Emp, actually.

Ah! With Emp or otherwise, are there any other future projects from you in the works?

Warren: After Empowered volume 9 comes out, I am working on a yet unannounced Empowered one shot entirely by me, and I am lining up some other Emp guest artists on some projects. And I am kind of nosing around some writing-only jobs, that I will hopefully pitch to Image. And, I got some stuff in the pipeline I can’t really talk about but with negotiating possible an interesting Empowered crossover..

Oh?

Warren: But, I can’t really talk about.

Hmm. Well, for my final question.. do you have a message to fans, longtime, and potential new fans of Empowered?

Warren: Thanks for every much for the support over the years, as my career has been extraordinarily rocky, but very pleasing too. We got to shows and run into people that were long time fans or new fans who support the work. I feel very honored, and really inspiring to me. I am very glad people appreciate the work..

And thank you, Adam Warren!

Empowered: Volume #9, is out now on the shelves of better retail bookstores and comic stores everywhere, from Dark Horse Publishing. Earlier volumes are also available through retail book outlets stores, and via online apps that carry current Dark Horse titles.

– Orion T

SW Interview with comics artist Colleen Coover – on Bandette, her world and inspirations.

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(Above: writer Paul Tobin with artist Colleen Coover)

The greatest thief in the world.

That’s Bandette from Bandette, a fan-favorite comic series originally published by Monkeybrain Studios in digital format, and later printed in collected hardcover book format by Dark Horse Publishing. Bandette is the creative work of writer Paul Tobin, and artist (also married to) Colleen Coover. Since her début in 2012, Bandette has stolen the hearts of many with rave reviews, and multiple Eisner Award nominations (winning for Best Digital Comic in 2013).

During the last San Diego Comic Con, I chatted with Colleen Coover. We talked much about Bandette, as she revealed some fantastic insight on our delightful artful dodger…

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From your own perspective..tell us about the character Bandette, her world and motivations.

Coover: Bandette is the greatest thief in the world. from writer Paul Tobin who is my husband, I am the artist. She lives in a France that never has been, never will be, a France of our creation. It’s our American ideal, basically.

I can’t say she robs from the rich and steals from the poor. She messes with the rich and powerful and evil, then sometimes through her own capriciousness, sometimes ends up helping other people. She is basically good at cards. She loves fun and adventure and that’s her whole thing.

As the artist working with Paul Tobin..would you share a little insight on bringing Bandette to life through these pages, especially with those fantastic colors and her look?

Coover: Well, we knew we wanted a teen girl. And, she is influenced by a character from actual French serial novels called Fantômette. I never read any Fantômette, but it’s a French sort of Nancy Drew super heroine in a series of illustrated novels. She wears a yellow tunic with a red cape and a little black beanie hat with a long tassle. So I was influenced by that, and Bandette’s look is similar. It’s red and yellow and there are other basic differences. But, I went with red because I am a big believer that red is the most eye-catching color in a comic book.

I agree (which initially drew me to the book).

Coover: Yeah, right?! Right after yellow. I use a lot of yellow. I use a lot of red. I use a little bit of green, a little bit of blue sometime in the background..not much. But, if there is a character who needs to catch the eye, that character is in red. There is a reason why all the iconic superheroes are primary colors. It’s because they’re the colors that really catch your eye. Secondary colors don’t reject your eye, but they sort of fade into the background..your purples, greens, oranges.

Yeah, I think that’s one of the cornerstones of Marvel’s success.

Coover: Right!

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Now that Bandette: Volume 2 is out. Could you share a little bit about changes in Bandette and her world, since Volume 1, from your perspective..

Coover: Things get a tiny bit darker in Volume 2. Stakes are a little bit higher. There is an evil character called Il Tredici that we introduce. He is a strangler. He will stranger the hell out of a guy. We wanted to up the stakes to maintain the fun, and have the story with a little bit more richness of emotion, so it’s not just this sprite running around this ParisSmarish or whatever..

There are stakes as we are continuing on that line in Volume 3, where things are a little bit dangerous. Part of adventure is just facing nature, and that’s what Bandette is all about. There are little more elements of danger, a little more serious, and emotions to Bandette because things could go wrong. But you know, she is still just having a really good time!

So after that and forward in future issues, will the setting for Bandette be always be in France?

Coover: I don’t think we will change it very much. It’s very much a false Europe. Europe is the home of Bandette because in her head, it’s a European comic. We are totally Americans and we don’t speak any foreign languages. We do this as people have traveled very little, but we have an appreciation for the European style of comics that we are trying to channel. We are not not trying to homage or imitate, but channel through our American skills.

Are there any European comics you personally enjoy or draw inspiration from?

Coover: I grew up reading Asterix, Tintin. There are others I have forgotten. There is a duo, …..Kerascoet?!* It’s French. They did a comic called Miss Don’t Touch Me. That really formed my style for a little while. Especially, when I was first creating the style of Bandette.”

Are there any other projects for Bandette that may extend beyond the comics?

Coover: Not to my knowledge (laughs).

I would love an action figure!

Coover: Yeah , me too!

Are there any other projects on your own or with Paul Tobin coming up?

I am solely working on Bandette as far as storytelling is concerned..otherwise the occasional alternative cover for the new Archie, with Mark Waid and Fiona Staples. I did a variant cover for Plants vs Zombies**, and there might be come more in the future. These are jobs I can take and get back to the comic.

Final message to fans of Bandette and potential fans of Bandette reading this?

Coover: Have fun!

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Bandette Volume 1: Presto and Volume 2: Stealers Keepers are both out right now on the shelves of better retail bookstores and comic stores everywhere, from Dark Horse Publishing. Current versions are hardcover bound, with many surprises extras including the “Urchin Stories” shorts set in Bandette’s world by various artists. For new single issues, check out Monkey Brain Studios for apps and downloads.

– Orion T

*Hubert (author) and Kerascoet (Illustrator). **also written by Paul Tobin