graphic novels

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Top Shelf Productions finds 'Nemo's' literary adventures

Posted By on Wed, Mar 27, 2013 at 10:04 AM

Among the literary mash-ups of the graphic novel Nemo: Heart of Ice, published by Marietta's Top Shelf Productions, one of the cleverest involves three former "boy inventors" turned adult mercenaries. At one point, "Swyfte," the most brash and ruthless of the threesome, brags about one of his weapons: "A day'll come when there ain't a law officer in the world who's not carrying my electric - "

Casual fans of pop culture will probably recognize a satirical version of Tom Swift, the technically ingenious star of multiple book series beginning in 1910. Heart of Ice author Alan Moore, in the latest installment of his League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series, packs references within references. The book takes place in 1925, but Swyfte's line anticipates the invention and population of the taser, a real-life anagram for "Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle." (It's true!)

Nemo: Heart of Ice offers a throwback to the high adventure of the initial League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series, written by Moore and illustrated by Kevin O'Neill. First appearing in 1999 and helping to usher in the steampunk and neo-Victorian storytelling trends, the comic book envisioned a Justice League-style super-team drawn from Victorian and Edwardian literature. Gentlemen's first two volumes launched such familiar figures as Mr. Hyde and Captain Nemo into thrilling escapades, while the subsequent books became less accessible, focusing more on mysticism and increasingly obscure characters.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Graphic novel by Rep. John Lewis slated for August

Posted By on Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 12:37 PM

Publisher's Weekly is reporting today that Rep. John Lewis will be on the road this summer to promote March, a three-volume "graphic autobiography" that he co-authored with staff member Andrew Aydin and cartoonist Nate Powell. His book tour includes some high-profile stops, including Book Expo America, the American Library Association convention, and an appearance at San Diego Comic-Con.

According to Top Shelf Productions, the Marietta-based publisher, the books chronicle congressman Lewis' work in the Civil Rights Movement, including the March on Washington in 1963 and the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965, and reflect on that progress from a contemporary perspective. "We try to tell the complete story of what happened," Lewis told PW, including the violence targeted at civil rights activists.

No word yet on what dates, if any, Lewis will be in Atlanta to promote the release of the book. The first volume will be released in August 2013, with the second and third volumes being published later.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

'The Dark Knight Returns' flashes back to classic graphic novel

Posted By on Tue, Sep 25, 2012 at 8:35 AM

IVE COME ALIVE AGAIN. Batman: The Dark Knight Rises - Part 1
The opening of the animated film Batman: The Dark Knight Returns — Part 1 begins both exactly the same as, and completely different from, the original graphic novel of the same name. In 1986 author/illustrator Frank Miller and inker Klaus Janson crafted a strikingly gritty, antiheroic take on the Caped Crusader. Like Gotham City’s own high-wattage bat signal, The Dark Knight Returns drew mainstream attention to the creative boom of comics in the 1980s while shining a path for the brooding big-screen Batmen of Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan.

The new direct-to-DVD film, the 15th in the DC Animated Universe series, goes on-sale today and hurls the audience into the same sequence as the book. We find a 55 year-old Bruce Wayne (voiced by Robocop’s Peter Weller), having hung up the cowl a decade earlier, recklessly competing in an Formula One-style automobile race. In the comic book, Miller and Janson confine the competition to a single page, rendered almost entirely in tight close-ups of Bruce behind the wheel. The reader requires at least one reading to follow the rapid editing and skewed perspective on the action, which suggests the comic book equivalent of a contemporary Bourne movie.

The film, directed by Jay Olivia, offers all the conventional race images that you’d expect, with long shots and bird’s eye views of the road that emphasize bland visual clarity at the expense of the book’s off-kilter emotional intimacy. Even more strikingly, the film dispenses with Miller’s hard-boiled interior monologues, eliminating many of book’s most memorable lines and the uncomfortable implications about Bruce’s sadistic psyche. When the race ends with a fiery crash, on paper Bruce thinks, “This would be a good death... but not good enough.” The script confines itself almost entirely to the book’s spoken dialogue.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

'Ultimate Spider-Man' collection introduces biracial hero

Posted By on Tue, Feb 28, 2012 at 3:58 PM

No, really, thats Miles Morales in the new black-and-red suit.
  • No, really, that's Miles Morales in the new black-and-red suit.
We’ll be seeing several new takes on Spider-Man in 2012, most prominently with the reboot film, The Amazing Spider-Man, opening July 3 and starring Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker. A few months earlier, on April 1, Disney offers its take on the web-slinger with a new animated series, “Ultimate Spider-Man,” based on the Marvel Comics title of the same name. For a genuinely intriguing reboot of a pop character, the new movie and show will have difficulty topping Brian Michael Bendis’ current storyline in the Ultimate Spider-Man comic books, which replaces Peter Parker with a new, biracial wall-crawler.

Even if you don’t follow comic book news, you may have heard last summer that a biracial teen named Miles Morales would be taking up the Spider-mantle following the death of Peter Parker. Marvel’s “Ultimates” titles offer a parallel, somewhat streamlined depiction of its major characters, so Peter is alive and well, barring the odd spider-villain attack or loss of his spider-senses, in Marvel’s other titles. Marvel has just released the intriguing, five-issue introduction of Morales in a hardback volume (Marvel, $24.99, 136 pp). Written by Bendis and drawn by Sara Pichelli, Ultimate Spider-Man shows how to take a familiar character and give it an exciting spin.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Marietta's Top Shelf plans two 'League' books for 2012

Posted By on Tue, Feb 7, 2012 at 9:32 AM

CALAMARI, ANYONE?: Captain Nemos submarine, The Nautilus, in League
  • CALAMARI, ANYONE?: Captain Nemo's submarine, 'The Nautilus,' in 'League'
Last week's announcement that DC Comics would publish prequels to Watchmen, against the wishes of original author Alan Moore, drew attention to Moore's work with famous fictional characters in Lost Girls and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Yesterday, Moore engaged in a two-and-a-half-hour webchat to raise funds for Cleveland's Harvey Pekar Library Statue, and as io9 reported, announced a new League project for this year:

In the 48-page one-shot comic Nemo: Heart of Ice, which takes place in Antarctica in the 1920s, Jules Verne will collide with H.P. Lovecraft. "It takes place in Antarctica and [the work of H.P. Lovecraft] is a major component. You figure it out," promised Moore. If all goes according to plan, Heart of Ice will be out by the end of 2012.

Chris Staros of Top Shelf Productions confirmed for me via email that Nemo: Heart of Ice would be published by the Marietta-based graphic novel company, in a co-production with Knockabout Comics. This will make two League-based Top Shelf books by Moore and artist Kevin O'Neill released by Top Shelf this year. Century: 2009, the final book in the century-spanning League trilogy, is due in June (and reportedly evokes the recently-created fictional worlds of "The West Wing" and Harry Potter, among others).

I'm particularly excited by Nemo: Heart of Ice, which Moore hints will resemble a mash-up of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and In the Mouth of Madness.
Given that Guillermo Del Toro won't be making his big-screen adaptation of Madness any time soon, Heart of Ice sounds like a great consolation prize.

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

DC Comics plans 'Before Watchmen' prequel comics

Posted By on Thu, Feb 2, 2012 at 9:14 AM

The graphic novel Watchmen has a reputation as the Citizen Kane of graphic novels, so DC Comics' decision to publish a series of prequels sounds as ill-advised as a film called Charles Foster Kane: The College Years. Nevertheless, this summer DC will release 7 titles involving such Watchmen characters as Rorschach and Dr. Manhattan, written and drawn by big name creators in the comics industry:

RORSCHACH (4 issues) — Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: Lee Bermejo
MINUTEMEN (6 issues) — Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
COMEDIAN (6 issues) — Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: J.G. Jones
DR. MANHATTAN (4 issues) — Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artist: Adam Hughes
NITE OWL (4 issues) — Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artists: Andy and Joe Kubert
OZYMANDIAS (6 issues) — Writer: Len Wein. Artist: Jae Lee
SILK SPECTRE (4 issues) — Writer: Darwyn Cooke. Artist: Amanda Conner

Original Watchmen writer Alan Moore has been quite vocal in his disenchantment with DC Comics, even having his name removed from big-screen adaptations of his work. Straczynski, who has an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for Clint Eastwood's Changeling and impeccable geek credentials as the creator of "Babylon 5," provided for the Hollywood Reporter a persuasive argument that in favor of other people making more stories about Moore's characters:

The perception that these characters shouldn’t be touched by anyone other than Alan is both absolutely understandable and deeply flawed. As good as these characters are — and they are very good indeed — one could make the argument, based on durability and recognition, that Superman is the greatest comics character ever created. But I don’t hear Alan or anyone else suggesting that no one other than Shuster and Siegel should have been allowed to write Superman. Certainly Alan himself did this when he was brought on to write Swamp Thing, a seminal comics character created by Len Wein.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Sunny 'Daredevil' collection lets gritty hero have fun

Posted By on Fri, Jan 27, 2012 at 3:42 PM

If I could pivot off something Marc Maron said, optimism has become the edgiest thing creators can do in pop entertainment. Comic books and graphic novels attracted older readers in the 1980s and 1990s with darker, more cynical characters and storylines. After a couple of decades of gritty, hardboiled superheroes and antiheroes, the comics that embrace a more positive approach, like Mark Waid's Daredevil, can stand out as risky.

Daredevil, a.k.a. attorney Matt Murdock, has always been one of Marvel Comics' most tormented heroes, partly because he's a blind man with heightened senses that help him fight evil. He's also a street-level crime-fighter with a closer relationship to poverty and other urban problems than the likes of Thor and the Fantastic Four, who take on more outlandish cosmic menaces. Frank Miller in the 1980s and Brian Michael Bendis in the 2000s conceived the character as very much like a film noir hero, and put Murdock through a wringer that was harsh even by Marvel's angsty standards. The past 10 years have seen Murdock's life ruined in every possible way, including his secret identity made public and a stint in prison with his arch-nemeses. Andy Diggle's miniseries Shadowland, saw Murdock cross numerous moral lines while possessed by a bloodthirsty demon called Snakeroot. When you've got a demon named "Snakeroot" in your book, any pretense at real-world credibility goes out the window.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

ATL comic book creators make a splash with 2012 projects

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2012 at 9:03 AM

THIS KIND OF SUCKS: DC Comics Stormwatch
Members of the Astonishing Atlanta Comic Book Scene demonstrate their versatility as a community with their diverse projects coming up for 2012. Publication dates can be tentative, especially for indie titles, but here are some coming comic book attractions. (If I miss anything important, let me know and I'll make the additions.)

Mark Bagley
: As he told me in our recent interview, the Marietta-based illustrator will be working on two books with writer Brian Michael Bendis: Marvel Comics' limited series Avengers Assemble (just in time for the big movie) and their off-beat, creator-owned take on super-powered individuals, Brilliant (Icon).

Shawn Crystal: The SCAD professor and artist has a three-issue arc with Marvel's Deadpool (aka "the merc with a mouth") beginning in late May.

Nathan Edmondson
: The Macon-based writer will be leaving DC Comics' Grifter as of issue 8, but is continuing his military adventure series The Activity and just announced the upcoming publication of Dancer, a 5-issue series involving a ballerinas and snipers debuting May 2.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Atlanta Comic Convention featuring actors from The Walking Dead

Posted By on Mon, Jan 16, 2012 at 2:44 PM

Actors that have played zombies will be avaliable for autographs.
  • AMC
  • Actors that have played zombies will be avaliable for autographs.

As fans eagerly await the second half of this season's The Walking Dead on AMC, which premiers on Feb. 12, zombie-obsessed fans can get their blood-thirsty fix sooner at the Atlanta Comic Convention.

Since 1994, the Atlanta Comic Convention has been connecting fans with artists, actors, and professionals in the comic industry. This year, the convention will feature 3 actors who all stared as zombies in multiple episodes and were featured in print ads for The Walking Dead.

Actors Rodney Hall, Ashleigh Jo Sizemore and Dan Riker, who thankfully don't crave human flesh in real life, will be at the convention for an autograph signing session. While the actors will be charging a fee for photos, convention visitors are welcome to bring any show memorabilia (posters, t-shirts, comics etc.) for the actors to autograph for free.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

2011 obituary: Peter Parker. Sort of

Posted By on Mon, Dec 26, 2011 at 5:37 PM

Uncle Ben and Peter Parker step into the light
Look, I know that Peter Parker, aka the Amazing Spider-Man, is not real. And I know that he continues to sling webs in more Marvel comic books than ever, particularly since he's a member of the Fantastic Four and the New Avengers. But the superpowered high school student came to a tragic, highly emotional end in the Ultimate Spider-Man in a storyline that packed a real wallop.

Ultimate Spider-Man, like the rest of the Ultimate line of Marvel comics, was launched about a decade ago to offer a more accessible, streamlined approach to the company's roster of superheroes. Writer Brian Michael Bendis and Marietta-based artist Mark Bagley turned Ultimate Spider-Man into the best-selling Spider-Man title of the decade, emphasizing Peter Parker's vulnerability as a high school teenager thrust into a dark, dangerous world of criminals, domestic spies and super-powered freaks.

Bagley drew 111 issues of Ultimate Spider-Man before moving onto different projects, but happily accepted Marvel's invitation to illustrate the Death of Spider-Man arc. "That was a nice compliment," he told me in a recent interview. "I loved doing it, because it was the culmination of what the poor kid’s been going through for years. A 16-year-old kid getting out there, being not always so smart with his secret identity — it had to happen. Brian wrote a great story."

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