Writers Block: David M. Booher

Hello Revuers! Welcome to a new segment called Writers Block. In this segment or, block dare we say, we will be interviewing comic book writers that are making an impact on the industry. Today we have the great pleasure of welcoming David M Booher as our inaugural guest. David has writer such great comics as Powerless and Alien Bounty Hunter. Both of which as published by the fantastic Vault Comics. David was gracious enough to take time out of his busy schedule to talk with us about everything from his process to weather or not he likes Star Trek more than Star Wars. Without any further delay let’s dive right in.

  • Hello David! Thank you for agreeing to this interview.

My pleasure! Thanks for letting me ramble on!

  • Tell us a bit about your background?

By day, I’m a mild-mannered lawyer…by night, I write comic books and fight crime (well, just the first one). I grew up in a small town in Ohio and ended up in Los Angeles by way of Miami. In between I learned I loved writing and comics. I also met and married my husband, who has found a way to put up with me for 16 years. He’s the real hero.

  • How long have you been writing?

I started writing in college but didn’t really get serious until about ten years ago. I realized lawyering wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, so I started creating worlds much more exotic and exciting than mine. It took me a long time to even begin to wonder if others might think those worlds were just as awesome as I did.

  • When did you become interested in writing comic books?

I actually didn’t know I wanted to write comics until I started writing them. I wasn’t even really that into them as a kid. I know, I know. I’m still trying to catch up and make amends for that. But once I discovered that unique blend of art and words, I couldn’t look back. And when I hooked up with the guys at Vault Comics—my publisher—they showed me what the comics medium could really do. It’s exhilarating to look at the blank page and imagine the thousand different forms it can take.

  • What’s the first comic book you remember buying as a kid?

Like I said, I’m late-comer to comics, so I didn’t read many as a kid. But I read the hell out of Mad Magazine. They’d come straight to my house in a brown paper cover over the newsstand cover. I’d spread out on the floor in my bedroom and read that thing from cover to cover. Then read it again. Then flip through to make sure I didn’t miss any of the margin cartoons. And I’d never crease the back cover fold-in (if you don’t know what that is, Google it because it’s awesome!).

  • What from your life influences your writing the most?

Probably growing up in a small town. It was the 80’s, and I know life wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns in rural America back then, especially for gay kids like me. But I was eight years old and I didn’t know any of that yet. To me, my hometown was magic. Riding my bike to outrun the streetlamps. Hiding from the summer heat in a cool, dark corner of the library. Listening to the sounds of the Cleveland Indians games my dad watched on TV as I fell asleep. And exploring our urban legends: Gravity Hill, where a car actually rolls uphill in neutral (not really); a church with an upside down cross over its door (almost certainly an accident); and the creepy deformed Melonheads that prowled the surrounding woods (hmm…maybe?). Thirty years later and I still remember every detail. I was also an inappropriately young Stephen King fan, so I was always on the look out for the clown that was definitely living in our sewers.

  • What’s your process like for writing?

I’ll sit down for 6-8 hour stretches and just grind away. It takes time to get into the groove, and once I’m there, I hate to get out of it. Even my husband keeps his distance during those marathons (love you, honey!).

  • How do you develop your stories?

I have the worst—WORST—habit of starting a new story based on its title alone. I wish I could enter a story through a cool character or a unique setting. Nope. I’ll hear a great title word or phrase and my mind will race with story possibilities. It’s a double-edged sword—a good title can inspire a great story, but if the title is taken, there’s a good chance I’ll abandon the idea and move on. That said, I haven’t yet turned away an awesome character if she came knocking, even if she didn’t bring a title with her.

  • How has being a gay creator impacted your comics?

For better or worse, for me being a gay creator is about being different…having people perceive you differently…perceiving yourself differently…and sometimes choosing how you present yourself to the world. I force my characters to grapple with those same insecurities and secrets all the time. My comic Powerless is a great example—a world filled with people who are literally all super-powered and a handful who are not. How the powerless choose to present themselves and how other people perceive them become life-or-death propositions.

  • Do you have a secret skill?

Does crippling self-doubt count as a skill?

  • You have a series out from Vault comics called Alien Bounty Hunter #1, tell me a little more about that.

ABH was created by Stephen Levinson and FJ Desanto, and when they approached my co-writer Adrian Wassel and me to write it, we jumped at the chance. It’s a fun twist on the familiar sci-fi and adventure stories we all love—everything from vintage pulps to Star Wars and Indiana Jones. It follows bounty hunter Ben Madsen (from Arcadia, California, believe it or not) as he chases down a vicious fugitive, only to discover his newest mark isn’t at all as advertised. Madsen finds himself forced to navigate an alien prison hidden under the Alaskan tundra, where at every turn nothing is as it seems. Part Men in Black, part Blade Runner, and all fun. I should mention artist Nick Robles has been face-meltingly spectacular on the series. And maybe the coolest part is that the series is being produced by Mark Wahlberg.

  • On Alien Bounty Hunter #1 you work with a co-writer, what’s that like?

Adrian Wassel is the editor-in-chief for Vault Comics, my publisher, so we spent lots of time on Powerless together, my other series from Vault. We hit it off from day one, so when he asked me to jump on board to ABH, I didn’t hesitate. Working together, he and I have created something I’m not sure either one of us could have created alone.

  • How did you come up with the premise of Alien Bounty Hunter?

As I mentioned, Stephen Levinson and FJ Desanto created the story and concept. When they brought me and Adrian on board, they gave us a huge amount of freedom to help develop the world and the characters. Then our artist Nick really took all of our ideas and ran with them. It’s become a love letter to the adventure and sci-fi stories that have so heavily influenced the entire team.

  • The main character, Ben Madsen, seems like a bad ass with a heart of gold. What was the inspiration behind his character?

Our inspiration came from lots of different places, but right out of the gate we wanted to create more than just an action hero. We didn’t want readers to root for him because we told them to; we wanted readers to root for him because they like him and want him to succeed. That meant giving him depth beyond being a motorcycle-riding badass bounty hunter. That said, he’s also a motorcycle-riding badass bounty hunter.

  • From the introduction we get in Alien Bounty Hunter #1 it looks like Ben is a somewhat complex character. You do such a good job of developing him and giving us part of his background in just the first issue, it really makes us want to root for him.

Hooray! Exactly how we wanted you to feel.

  • Your other series, also published on Vault comics, is called Powerless, can you give us an elevator pitch for what that story is about?

Powerless is a gritty sci-fi take on superpowers, set in a world where all 7 billion people have some superhuman ability. But when a contagious virus starts to take those powers away, the government institutes a brutal quarantine to stop the spread while the infected begin to fight back, violently if necessary. A big shout out to the entire team that made Powerless spectacular: Nathan Gooden (art), Mike Spicer (colors), Deron Bennett (letters), and Tim Daniel (design). And a huge thank you to Oliver Ridge and Blood Moon Creative, who are producing Powerless alongside Vault and have supported the series from the start.

  • Powerless kind of flips the script from what we would think of when it comes to super powers, when did you first think of the idea?

I’ve been developing the story for Powerless for years. I love the idea that having a superpower could make you an outcast, but really, if you’re the only person who can shoot laser beams from your eyeballs, how much of an outcast can you really be? Now imagine if everyone else could shoot laser beams from their eyeballs, but you couldn’t? You’re still the outcast, but you’re also less powerful than everyone around you. That’s the question that fascinated me. So yeah, Powerless is about outcasts, but it’s also about how and where you find power when you seem powerless next to everyone else.

  • The powers of the main characters are interesting and so unique. For example, Billy Bannister has the ability to travel back in time 37 seconds. Was there a special reason behind 37 seconds?

Yes, there is. But you’ll have to stick around to find out. 😉

  • Do you have a favorite comic con?

I love going to Geek Christmas at San Diego Comic Con every July. I’m also really looking forward to going to Baltimore Comic Con in September. I’ve never been, and I hear it’s awesome.

Next I”l ask you some either or questions. Ready? Go?

  • Star Trek or Star Wars?

Star Wars although I do love me some ST:TNG

  • Coffee or Tea?

Coffee. ALL the coffee.

  • Superheroes or Noir

Can I say noir superhero?

  • Coney Dogs or Burrito

Burrito.

  • Movies or Books

Don’t…make…me…choose…

  • Floppies or digital copies

Floppies. Nothing like that new comics smell.

  • Trades or single issues

For series I love, both!

  • If you could work on anything, what would be a dream series for you to work on?

Firefly. Anything related to Firefly. I’d also love to write an X-book. Something subtle and quiet that brings a new dimension to a character we think we already know. I have some ideas…

  • If you weren’t a comic book artist what would be your career?

Writing comics is already my second career, but I had to choose a third one…hmm…probably musical theater. When I wasn’t poking around urban legends as a child, I was singing and dancing.

  • What would be your dream collaboration?

I’ve already gotten to collaborate with so many unbelievable talents. But if I have to choose, writer: Tom King. Artist: Too many to list!

  • Do you have anything coming out soon that we should keep an eye out for?

This fall I have a Twilight Zone-esque short story in an anthology called The Strip from Red Stylo Media. Powerless will start its second arc in 2018. And I’m developing a couple of very cool series with some great creators I’ve met along the way that will hopefully see the light in 2018. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, readers can check out Powerless and Alien Bounty Hunter at www.vaultcomics.com and at comic shops everywhere.

You can find David on Twitter

 

 

 

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Coloring Between the Lines: Matthew Wilson

Hello Revuers! Sorry for the absences a of late, but we are officially back. What better way to return than with an interview with one of the top colorists in the game today: Matthew Wilson! We appreciate Matthew for his time and are grateful to him for answering our questions. We hope you enjoy this interview as much as we do!

 

Hello Matt, Thanks for agreeing to this interview!

 

  • How long have you been a colorist?

I started coloring for Lee Loughridge’s coloring studio, Zylonol Studios in 2003. I first colored books under my own name, and colored less for Zylonol between 2007-2009.

 

  • Was it what you wanted to be when you were a kid?

No, not really. I liked to draw, paint, and sculpt as a kid and wanted to do any of those things when I grew up. I read comics as a kid, but never thought of coloring as a career I might have one day. I took a class on digital coloring for comics in college, and enjoyed it. I only began coloring comics as a job because Zylonol was located in the same town as my college and I applied to work there after I graduated. It was one of the only places locally that I thought I might like to work. One thing led to another and now it’s 13 years later and I’ve colored a lot of comic books.

 

  • What’s the first comic book series you really got into?

Hm. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles collections they put out in the early 90’s. The colored collections, not the original black and white comics. I wasn’t aware of them until I saw the collections in a bookstore. Then, around the same time was the death of Superman, and then the creation of Image comics by a bunch of creators that I already liked from reading their previous work. Another early influence was Marvel and DC trading cards, because there was a card shop near my house that I could ride my bike to after school, and buy cards. Also, Batman The Animated Series was something else I was really in to as a kid.

 

  • Do you prefer superhero comics or other genres?

If I had to pick, I guess I’d pick other genres, but I like reading both superhero books and non-superhero books.

 

  • Who is your favorite superhero?

Hm, that’s a tough one. Probably Batman if I’m picking just one. Or maybe Spider-Man.

 

  • Who is your favorite non superhero character?

Hellboy, maybe? Or maybe John Constantine. Again, that’s tough.

 

  • What’s your favorite series that’s not a superhero series?

Hellboy or Hellblazer in terms of all-time favorite. More recently I’ve really enjoyed East of West, Lazarus, The Autumnlands, and Southern Bastards.

 

  • What is your process like for coloring?

Black and white pages come from the publisher, I give them to my flatter. He puts in flat colors so it’s easier for me to select areas to color. I then read the script and look over the pages to get an idea of how I want to color the issue. I tend to work on an entire scene at one time, if I can. I’ll set the palette for the scene. Then, I’ll color the backgrounds in all the pages, then go back and color all the characters in the pages.. Lastly I’ll do any of the glows or coloring of the lines for things like powers or explosions. I tend to spend about 1 to 2 hours on a page on average.

 

  • How do you choose a color palette?

I usually look for a story reason first. For example, is there an emotion I can help bring out in the color that will help better tell the story? Or do I need to indicate a particular time of day or a specific kind of lighting? I want to make sure the colors are servicing the story. Then I look at what the artist has given me to work with. Have they set up an interesting light source? Is there a clear indication of the time of day, or something in the environment that might suggest a certain color? Then I’ll also take other scenes in to consideration when picking the palette for the scene I’m working on. Like, what came before? What’s happening in the next scene? I like to have an obvious change in palette when the story changes scenes. So, for example, if we’re inside a laboratory in one scene, then we exit the lab to find it’s in the middle of a desert I want to make sure the lab and the desert don’t use similar palettes. And my choice for the lab palette will be very different if the story shows the next scene to be in the middle of the arctic or something, rather than a desert. So I like to know the context around each scene before deciding on a palette.

 

  • What’s your favorite project you’ve ever worked on?

That’s a tough question to answer because I work on so many that I’m probably forgetting an older one that I really enjoyed. And also, as I try to get better at coloring all the time, I tend to like my current projects more because I feel like I’m doing better work now than I did in the past. For example, I worked with Cliff Chiang on Wonder Woman for 3 years, and after that we moved to working on Paper Girls for the last 2 years. I like our work on Paper Girls much more than what I did on Wonder Woman, but that’s because it’s more current, and I believe I’ve gotten better at coloring. But yeah, some of my favorite projects recently are certainly Wonder Woman and Swamp Thing at DC. Daredevil and Black Widow, both with Chris Samnee at Marvel. The last few years of Thor with Russell Dauterman at Marvel. And many of my collaborations with Jamie McKelvie, including Phonogram, The Wicked + The Divine, and Young Avengers.

 

  • Do you have anything coming out soon that we should keep an eye out for?

There’s a series coming out at Image called Black Cloud that I think will be interesting. It’s written by Jason Latour and Ivan Brandon, with art by Greg Hinkle and colors by me. The premise of the story is allowing for some wildly varying visuals, and really pushing me in different directions depending on the scene.

 

  • Who are some of your favorite colorists in the industry today?

Probably my all time favorite is Dave Stewart. His work is what inspired me to keep getting better when I was first starting out. Currently, I’m always amazed when I see something colored by Bettie Breitweiser, Jordie Bellaire, Tamra Bonvillain, Nathan Fairbairn, Jordan Boyd, Nolan Woodard, Frank Martin, Dave McCaig, Nick Filardi, Kelly Fitzpatrick…. And probably just as many names that I’m forgetting. Honestly, there’s SO many good colorists doing interesting work now. Not to mention artists that are fantastic at coloring themselves like Jen Bartel and Kris Anka and Ryan Browne.

 

  • Is there anyone you draw inspiration from?

Just about everyone I mentioned in the last answer, for sure. In terms of art history, or more historical influences, I’ve always been partial to impressionist painters. My earliest influence on how powerful of a tool that color palettes could be was the Rouen Cathedral series of paintings by Claude Monet. Another artist I like to cite in these kinds of answers is Japanese artist Hiroshi Yoshida. He was a 20th century painter and printmaker. His prints were amazing.

 

  • I’ve personally really enjoyed your work on The Wicked and the Divine, especially how your color art is an intricate part of the story telling. How did you build the aesthetic for that book?

A lot of discussion with the rest of the creative team, building on work we had done together as a team on previous works, and trial and error with different ideas for depicting the god’s abilities and performances. We set out knowing we wanted it to look like something “more” than a typical depiction of superhero powers. So pushing things further than I might go on a superhero book was important. We passed a lot of inspiration images back and forth from things like fashion photography and music videos. The fact that the gods are pop stars meant we took a lot of influence from pop culture. Overall, I’m still using the same framework of how I approach coloring a book, but for this book the pieces I bolt on to that framework just happen to be a bit more neon and glow-y.

 

  • In issue 8 of the wicked and the divine your color work is used as a visual aide for the reader, how did you come up with that idea?

That was one of the hardest issues of coloring I’ve ever done. Not because the technical aspects of coloring took me any longer than other books. But the conceptual part was very time consuming. I came up with new palettes on every page, and sometimes in every panel of the page. Trying to figure out how to convey the experience Laura was going through while being influenced by Dio’s powers was a big challenge. One of the biggest ways we could help the reader “feel” what Laura was feeling was how the pages are colored. Things like the tempo of the party and her experience were noted in the script, and I had to try and make sure the colors matched that tempo. Higher contrast, more saturated when the tempo sped up. And then less saturated and intense when the tempo slowed down. This was another instance of using contrasting palettes to really sell each scene. The pages before and after the party are intentionally less saturated and a bit duller in terms of color. That way, when the party scene starts and I use a bunch of saturated colors, they seem even more saturated and brighter because the previous scenes were so dull.

 

 

  • You have worked with the team of Gillen and McKelvie and with Waid and Samnee on a couple of series’ now, what’s it like to have that level of understanding built with the other members of a creative team?

Long term collaborations are great, because we’re able to really understand each other. Kieron can write to Jamie or my strengths and know we’ll pull off the idea he’s trying to convey. For my part, it means the artist and I can work out exactly how to set up the files to get the best result. Like, any time Jamie draws a god’s crazy power it’s usually on a separate layer so I can easily experiment with it in color. The same goes for Russell’s art on Thor. Each issue we learn something, and as you do dozens of issues together all that accumulated knowledge builds up and makes the process easier and gives us great opportunities to experiment. Working with the same artists for so long also lets us grow and evolve as artists, because we can try different things based on what we liked or didn’t like in our past work. How Jamie or Russell or Samnee are drawing the current issues of our projects has evolved from how they drew earlier issues. And I’ve subtly changed how I color them too. From issue to issue it may be hard to spot, but over time we’re always changing our approach in little ways.

 

  • You have a very distinctive visual style, how did you cultivate that aesthetic?

I have no idea, honestly! I did not set out to cultivate this style. And I’m not even sure I could telly what my “style” is. I kind of feel like I don’t have one, but I hear people say they recognize my colors, so I must have something people identify. But, like most artists, the style is probably a result of the influences I consume and how those influences get pieced together in to the art that I make.

 

  • Burritos or coneys?

I probably like burritos more but I definitely eat more hotdogs.

 

  • Where’s your favorite place to pick up a burrito or a coney when you’re at cons?

JJ’s Red Hots in Charlotte, North Carolina is my favorite hotdog place.

 

  • What’s your favorite convention?

Heroes Con in Charlotte, North Carolina.

 

  • What would be your dream collaboration?

I don’t really have one, I don’t think. I get to work on so many different projects every year, with so many different collaborators that I’m kept busy and fulfilled, which doesn’t leave me much time to dream about future collaborations.

 

  • If you weren’t a comic book artist what would be your career?

A park ranger!

 

  • What’s the biggest difference between working for the big two and on your indie titles?

Some small technical things on certain books, but creatively I’m given a lot of freedom regardless of if the book is work for hire for the big 2 or a creator owned book.

 

  • Who are some of your favorite artists to work with?

All of my regular collaborators like Jamie McKelvie, Cliff Chiang, Chris Samnee, Russell Dauterman, and Kris Anka. I did a bunch of Secret Avengers issues with Michael Walsh and they were a ton of fun to do. Greg Hinkle, who I’m coloring on the upcoming Black Cloud is an amazing artist that’s incredibly fun to color.

 

  • Who are some of your favorite writers to work with?

Again, my regulars are great: Kieron Gillen, Jason Aaron, Brian K Vaughan, Mark Waid. Coloring Star-Lord is the first time I’ve worked with Chip Zdarsky, and he’s been really enjoyable to work with. I only worked with Matt Fraction once, on a Mandarin annual, but he put a lot of thought in to the color when writing that story and that was an enjoyable assignment.

 

  • Who’s your favorite character to color?

Hard to say, as I’m more in to storytelling with palettes than I am in to coloring a specific character. Thor has been fun because it’s been pretty much a straight up fantasy book with some sci-fi visuals. So that’s allowed me to do some really fun and wildly varied palettes. I can say for sure that I often hate coloring red costumes, and I usually don’t like coloring shiny metal. So, I guess it’s good I don’t work on Iron Man!

 

  • What would be a dream series for you to work on?

Black Widow, and I already did it! I enjoy spy stories, so that was a lot of fun to help create the look of one in the latest run of Black Widow. I’ve never worked on a Batman book, and would like to do that one day. But I’d probably want to do some kind of stand alone Elseworlds type story where it’s Batman in the 1920’s or something. And another answer I could give would be anything Hellboy. But I’d never want to try and fill Dave Stewart’s shoes.

 

  • As the comic book industry moves more digital do you feel like there’s been a shift in the industry to recognize the importance of Color Artist?

Yes, but not really because of the trends toward digital. I think the art of coloring is becoming more appreciated as it matures. Digital coloring isn’t that old, it’s only been around a few decades at this point. And the tools we’re using to color have really only become widely accessible even more recently than that. So you’ve got the tools getting better together with the colorists, and artist that color themselves, getting better at using those tools and the result is coloring is getting better and better. A lot of the traditional inking techniques were developed to convey information that older coloring methods could not. Hatching for shading and showing volume in a shape, things like that. Now, there isn’t anything that color can’t convey, and artists have responded to that by sometimes making less marks in black and white and leaving it up to the color to convey those elements of the art. So the role of the colorist has grown more important as their ability to bring substantive additions to the page and the story has grown.

 

Thank you for your time Matt, I’ve enjoyed talking to you. Looking forward to your great work in the future.

 

 

Deja.Revue Review Interview!

Hello Revuers! Today we have a very special episode of Deja.Revue Review. An interview with the ever wonderful Bob Frantz of Monty the Dinosaur fame. In this episode we discuss Comics, Star Trek, Life and of course Monty the Dinosaur. Give it a listen and be sure to tell us what you think!

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/deja.revue-review/id1146317175?mt=2

Recommended Reading: Richard McGuire’s Here

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Richard McGuire’s Here imagines, in the pages of a comic, the same thing that I often have: what happened here, in this spot – our house, our town, the grocery store, the lake, the highway – one hundred years ago, one thousand years ago, one hundred thousand years ago? What did it look like? Who, or what, stood in the same spot as I do now, in the year 2016, on the brink of the year 2017? What did it look like before Europeans set foot on these shores? What did it look like before any humans lived here at all? Who lived here? Fell in love here? Died here?

Looking out from my own window, I often imagine what people have stood in the same spot as I do, looking up into the sky, or down onto the yard which stretches out to a small lake. And it is not only at home that I think this, but at work, or when I travel as well.

I do not believe this to be a terribly common type of thinking – or at least, it does not border on obsession for most people – but regardless, McGuire’s beautiful book, as all one’s favorite books do, feels as if it were written directly for me, personally.

The book takes place viewed from one angle. Often, this view shows us a living room. Sometimes it is painted different colors. A year – 1957, for instance – is set in the top left corner. But then other windows open in the living room. Some of these boxes show us other times, with other people – or maybe the same people, only aged – in the living room. Other boxes show us a forest. Or a view of another house, up to the right, in the distance. Some show Native Americans trading with European colonizers. Some show dinosaurs. Or dancing. Or melting ice cream. Or family disputes.

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McGuire orchestrates these scenes in a way that sometimes seems random, only to have the various random instances begin to line up, to harmonize, in a kind of symphony of time. He has taken brief moments from the years and years of time that have passed here, in this spot, and given them meaning through their mosaic juxtaposition with other, disconnected moments. Divorced from the context of their time, these moments gain force and sublimity when placed alongside other, disconnected images because they establish a kind of fraternity between all these people, and all these slices of time, which are separated by degrees on the linear spectrum of space-time. Looping back and forth between past, present, and future, McGuire demonstrates the connectedness of everything not through some corny anecdote about all these people being related, or all of them remembering everything that has happened in this spot (they surely don’t, as they are attached, like all of, primarily to their own existence) but through the simplicity of shared, finite space which stands in contrast to the infinite march of time.

McGuire illustrates the book to reflect this. The living room is solid, blocks of color and definite lines. But the people who move through it are often fuzzy, not quite defined. And the further into the past we go, the more the people, and the space itself, begin to blur. The space itself (sans living room) becomes a lawn with a scribbled house in the distance. Then, further back, a forest, which becomes murkier and murkier as we are transported further into the past, until it becomes primordial ooze, ill-defined space, but still our space, the space we see when we look into the living room. In the future, the house is gone. Overtaken by the ocean. Then dried out, but unlivable. Then slowly but surely, life emerges again.

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A late foray into the future: where a group of tourists enter the frame, led by a guide who begins to explain some customs of the 21st century – the carrying of wallets and keys, etc. – and then uses a device which gives the onlookers a view of the past, a view not dissimilar from the one McGuire has given us in the pages of his comic. This breaks, somewhat, the spell of the book – as if McGuire is trying to explain the magic of these windows into the past and future. For a moment, the imaginative and metaphysical experience of watching the pages of time flip, seemingly at random, is understood as merely a function of some future device, meant to intrigue bored tourists. But then that window collapses, and the chorus of voices, the painting of rooms, the noise of television and radios, the waves of future seas all come crashing in again overwhelming the tourists (of which we are now one) with the weight of time and the countless lives lived in these brief windows into the past and future.

McGuire’s book is a kind of miracle in that I cannot imagine it taking any other form. He uses the medium of comics to do something only comics can do – utilizing the boxy frames so often associated with comics to stunning effect. It is an elegy and a celebration of time and space and the moments we find together in the madness of the here and now, and the moments that led up to this one, and the infinite moments that will follow our forgetting.

 

New Comic Book Day Top 5: Oct. 26th

Hello Revuers! It’s Tuesday which means it’ time for another edition of New Comic Book Day Top 5. Where I pick my top 5 most anticipated books that are coming out this week. This Wednesday looks to be especially exciting with many new series’ starting from major and indie publishers alike. As always feel free to tell me what you think of the list in the comment section below, and please tell us what’s on your pull list. We love to hear from our readers, plus I love finding out about new series’ that people are enjoying. Without further delay, let’s jump right in.

 

5: The Skeptics #1

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The Skeptics is a new series from the fantastic Black Mask Studios features the talents of Tini Howard (Writer) and Devaki Neogi (Artist). The story is summed up as follows: “A stylish, political adventure about a pair of hip, clever teens who fool the world into believing they have superpowers. It is the 1960s. The Russians have the A-bomb, the H-bomb, and now the most terrifying weapon of all: a pair of psychically superpowered young people.” The story then focuses on the heads of the USA military looking to find equivalent super powered beings from America to be on Par with Russia. The preview art for this series looks amazing and the premise promises to be a wild ride.

 

4: Batgirl #4

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Batgirl #4 is a continuation from issue three. Batgirl realizes that she has fallen into the trap set by The Teacher. She realizes that in order to save Kai she will first have to come face to face with this new mysterious villain. Writer Hope Larson has delivered an interesting and compelling plot so far this series. I think the title overall benefit from being on the slower once a month schedule. This allows the artist Rafael Albuquerque and Color Artist Dave McCaig time to really build a beautiful and rich world around Hope Lasron’s world. Batgirl is still one of the best titles from the overall spectacular DC Rebirth initiative.

 

3: The Prowler #1

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Confession from me. I have been a big Spider-Man fan since I was 7. In fact Spider-Man was/is my favorite superhero. The Prowler was also one of my favorite Rouges in his gallery (Mysterio is my favorite [maybe I just really love purple and green color schemes for villains!?]). So when I heard they were planning a Prowler solo series I was pumped. I had already been excited about him getting more of a role in the new (NOW!?) ASM series. Writer Sean Ryan and Artist Jamal Campbell have a lot on their plate but the preview art makes it look like they have delivered. I can’t wait until I can read this one.

 

2: Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #1

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This new Dr. Strange series arrives two weeks before the release of the Marvel Studios film. Coincidnece? I think not. Do I care? NO! Robbie Thompson is set to write the series which means it’s going to be fantastic. I love the way he tackled Silk and Spidey, so I can’t wait for him to take on Dr. Strange. The art will be by the amazing Javier Rodriguez, who has recently been on the Spider-Woman series. If there’s one character that I think working on a Spider-Man series before hand would benefit you it would be Sr. Strange. There’s a lot of room for humor and sarcasm just like in Spidey titles. I am also intrigued by the team up aspect of it. The idea of Dr. Strange in a mentoring role is hilarious to me.

 

1: Bloodshot USA #1

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Bloodshot USA comes to us from Valiant Entertainment. It features the all star level talent of Jeff Lemire (writer), Doug Braithwaite (artist) and Brian Reber (Color Art). The story is set in New York where a criminal organization has released a biowarfare weapon that has turned the population of New York into blood thirsty zombie like creature, and it’s up to Bloodshot to ensure the contamination doesn’t spread. This title just sounds like plain fun, shoot em up comics to me with no shortage of action. The preview art looks incredible. Especially the color art work by Harvey nominated color artist supreme Brian Reber (wow, that was quite the run on sentence). I haven’t read too many Valiant series’ but this one looks like a real winner.

 

So there you have it! Did your most anticipated books make the cut? Tell us in the comments below. We would also love to see you list of most anticipated comics!

 

-Andrew Horton

 

 

 

 

Every Comic Book Movie (Ever): Hellboy II: The Golden Army

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Welcome to October here at Deja.Revue. If you have not noticed already, I tend to be a fan of the creepy, the weird, and the left-field in comics. So I though October would be a perfect time to indulge those predilections even more than I already have. Horror, as a genre in comics, has always been just off to the side. Less flashy than superheroes, and something of a mutant child of crime comics, the genre has a breadth and depth which is, in my opinion, almost unmatched. I do not hope to cover the whole diverse range of the genre in the coming month, but I do hope to give you a survey of some of my favorite works on page and screen. If you would like to read further, Paste has an excellent list of horror comics you should read. For further reading on the history of horror comics, check out Mike Howlett’s essay in the back of this excellent horror anthology that I will not have the time or space to write about this month. If all goes according to plan, I will have a column each Monday for you, culminating, fittingly, with Halloween at the end of the month. Don’t forget to turn off the lights.

The designation of Hellboy II: The Golden Army as “horror” is dubious, to be sure. I will not spend the bulk of this article defending its inclusion in my run of horror-related pieces (and anyways, I will more than make up for this genre fraud next week), but I will say that the guiding hand of director Guillermo del Toro, along with the soul of the source material, are enough to merit an exploration of this film in the present context.

I have yet to write about the first Hellboy film directed by del Toro, and while I think one could jump into Hellboy II without seeing the first (a virtue of most comic book films 1978-2011), I would recommend seeing Hellboy because it’s a gem. The setup is fairly simple: the titular character is a world-ending demon from hell who ends up being raised by a kindly British professor and expert in the occult. As an adult, he works for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.) along with other agents with “enhanced talents.” Hellboy likes cats, beer, cigars, and the music of Tom Waits. Ron Perlman plays Hellboy in one of the great character/actor matches in all of film history.

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The plot of the film is not particularly important. There are ancient artifacts, a troll market, an abandoned underground city, a forest god. What makes this film distinctive is the meticulous, handcrafted nature of everything put on camera. Del Toro is famous for this. I might say that Hellboy is a better film than its sequel, but Hellboy II is a better film to look at. Every frame is stuffed to the edges with real things, intricate things. Every item in the film is something you could pick up and flip through, or open, or play with. The tactile, physical nature of the film extends to the enormous cast of creatures that populate the various set pieces. If you look far into the background, what you will see are extras in heavy costume and makeup, filling up a world so that we can be engulfed in it.

This is an old idea of horror – going back to the silent era – that mise en scène sets the mood, and plays a larger part than plot in building atmosphere and suspense. The sets of Hellboy II are lavish, but they range from the playful to the sinister. These are not merely dark places, but whole worlds unto themselves.

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The playfulness of del Toro’s design spills over into the rest of the film. This movie is fun. And not in the way that a movie trying to be fun is fun, but in a genuinely, organically pleasurable way. The emotional beats are simple and build gently on the groundwork from the first film. They are effective because the actors never oversell them, and in fact, the film is more subdued than one might imagine. One of the film’s best moments involves Hellboy and Abe Sapien (a sort of mer-man who also works for the B.P.R.D.) lamenting their troubles in love over beers and singing along, gently, to Barry Manilow. It’s an unexpectedly warm and touching scene.

Couched in del Toro’s elaborate world, the characters’ dramas both big and small never feel silly playing out in such lovingly constructed environs. Hellboy and his girlfriend, Liz Sherman, a pyrokinetic, hash out their domestic problems in blazes of flame. Only later when they reach a shadowy chamber where one of del Toro’s more terrifying creatures (a dark angel with eyes dotting its wings) hands them their fate, do they put their arguments behind them and commit to each other for good. The small scale of the human drama could feel absurd in this fantasy world, but it doesn’t because del Toro and his actors treat the world with respect – they know how fragile it is, and things do threaten constantly to fall apart.

Hellboy II is a monster movie where the monsters are the bad guys and the good guys. Really, its not even that, because the good guys are fighting to subvert their own dark destinies, and the bad guys fight for what they believe to be a noble cause. But it still manages to be an excellent evocation of classic creature features, showing reverence to its references and giving care and attention to its own creations. We need more comic book films like this. We need more horror films like this. Hellboy II is not a perfect film, but it is a film undoubtedly assembled with love and passion by all involved. With all that care put on the screen, how could we not enjoy it?

New Comic Book Day top 5: Oct. 12th

Hello Revuers! Tomorrow marks a fantastic New Comic Book Day. It’s the best day of the week in my opinion. I’m looking forward to many titles but for this segment, as always, I have narrowed it down to my top 5. Two titles are from DC, two are from Image and one title is from Marvel. If you agree or don’t agree wit my picks let me know in the comment section below. I love hearing each week what our readers are picking up! Without further delay let’s jump right in.

 

5: Supergirl #2

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Supergirl #2 comes to us from the creative team of writer Steve Orlando and artist Brian Ching. This issues sees Supergirl clash with Cyborg Superman who was revealed at the end of issue 1 of Supergirl. Supergirl #2 was a vast improvement on the Rebirth special issue of Supergirl, and I look for issue 2 to continue this trend. The reveal of Cyborg Superman at the end of issue one was a surprise and sets up an interesting antagonist for Supergirl to face off against. The art by Brian Ching was superb, building a world that’s aesthetically pleasing and unique. The variant covers by Bengal have been some of my favorite variant cover work to date. I can’t wait to pick up issue 2 tomorrow.

 

4: Southern Cross #8

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Southern Cross #8 is written by Becky Cloonan with art from Andy Belanger. This series from Image comics has been consistently one of the best series’ they put out. I love the genre bending the story explores. Is this series Sci-Fi? Is it horror? A little of both? The driving mystery of the series keeps the reader coming back for more and more. This issue sees the continuation of the story arc ‘ROMULUS’ The second story arc of the series. I don’t want to go into too much detail and spoil the first arc for you so I’ll just say this. Spaceship. Paranormal activity. Government conspiracy. All of the covers are by the spectacular Becky Cloonan, who is just as talented of an artist as she is a writer. If you haven’t read this series yet, so yourself a favor and pick up the first trade (it’s only $9.99!). Read it, and then go buy the new issues.

 

3: Great Lakes Avengers

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I was a pretty big fan of the origianl volume of the Great Lakes Avengers, so when Marvel announced that a new series featuring the GLA would be part of their (newest) NOW! initiative I was excited. The series comes from writer Zac Gorman and artist Will Robinson. The story shows that the GLA have been reinstated as members of the Avengers and have been moved to a new headquarters in Detroit. Detroit is about 3 hours away from where I live so that’s kind of exciting for me (I know, I’m a huge nerd).  IT looks like all of the original members are back except maybe Squirrel Girl (who is seen in cut out form in the cover). I’m sure that this new series will follow in the humorous tradition of the previous volume.

 

2: All-Star Batman #3

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All-Star Batman is written by Batman scribe Scott Snyder, with art by John Romita Jr and features some of the best color work in any comic book series on the shelves today, from Dean White. At the close of the last issue we see that even those that Batman trusts the most have turned on him. It’s one thing when it’s Two Face and some bounty hunters you have to worry about, but what will Batman do now that even the police are after him? This road trip with one of his most deadly enemies has turned out to be quite the handful. I dare say that this series is one of the top series’ in the stellar Rebirth initiative by Dc Comics. I think it benefits a lot from being on the traditional once a month schedule as opposed to the twice monthly pace of most of DC’s big titles. This once a month schedule allows Snyder to take his time developing the story. The art by Romita JR. doesn’t feel rushed at all, but rather sweeping and grandiose. As I mentioned before the color work by Dean White is next level work. Truly an All-Star creative team for All-Star Batman.

 

1: Reborn

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The big guns are out for Reborn, a new series from Image comics written by Mark Millar with art by Greg Capullo. The general plot deals with the idea: Where do I go after I die? In this series you go to a place that’s not heaven or hell, but rather a place where you have to fight to survive. A place where you have to make a reckoning with everyone you ever wronged or treated nicely. The story sounds interesting and I trust Mark Millar will do a magnificent job. What really intrigues me is the art by Greg Capullo. This is the first comic book project for Capullo since his legendary run on the New 52 Batman with Scott Snyder. I am excited to see the world that he create for the readers. One of his strongest area is in character design (he designed the current Batman look), so I am curious what he will do having free reign over an environment. Not having any limitations should produce some incredible work from the comic book veteran. All in all this series has me intrigued.

 

So there you have it! Did your most anticipated books make the cut? Tell us in the comments below. We would also love to see your list of most anticipated comics!

 

-Andrew