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Posts Tagged ‘BOOM! Studios

As a little kid, most of my favorite movies were either super-saccharine 90’s Disney flicks or the grisliest horror the 1980’s had to offer. Therefore, it is with great honor that I was able to secure a preview for BOOM! Studios’ Hellraiser #1, written by one of the masters of horror (and the series’ creator), Clive Barker.

While preparing for this review, I took the liberty of re-watching Hellraiser, Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, and that totally insane video where Pinhead plays poker with Lemmy Kilmister. Then I tried watching Hellraiser: Bloodline. After being bored out of my skull after only a few minutes, I realized that without the guidance of Barker, this franchise seriously disinterested me.

Thank God he’s back in charge of the Cenobites. Barker’s twist on the happenings of the amoral servants of Hell remains as creepy and as imaginative as ever. Pinhead still goes on being extremely articulate and frighteningly intelligent, all the while manipulating those into helping him achieve his goals. Everything about the character will seem familiar to fans of the original film, which is welcome when compared to some of the downright goofy things he said in the later films (“Welcome to the worst nightmare of all… REALITY!”). The issue still explores the line between pain and pleasure prevalent in the films, with the first issue featuring both the most violent and sensual panels I’ve seen in a comic produced by BOOM! Both of these mental states are skillfully drawn by Leonardo Manco (Hellblazer, Hellstorm, every other comic that ever had the word “hell” in the title), which ultimately leads to one emotional and frightening comic.

My only real complaint (which might be my own fault) is that I’m a little confused as to where in continuity the story actually takes place. Pinhead appears to be flanked by the Female and the Chatterer, both of whom were killed in Hellbound: Hellraiser II and never seen again, yet a reference is made to Kirsty Cotton’s marriage in Hellraiser VI: Hellseeker. Perhaps somebody who has seen more of the later sequels can clear this up. Either way, enjoy the (totally for mature audiences) preview to Clive Barker’s Hellraiser #1.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

BOOM! Studios has given me permission to present to you a downloadable PDF for “At the Tolling of a Bell,” an original, self-contained eight-page Hellraiser story by Clive Barker and Leonardo Manco not slated for public release until the trade paperback collection in, like, forever from now! Basically, we’re giving you some free comic book goodness from an industry legend! Enjoy!

Click here for PDF of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser Prelude!

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If you were born in the mid-8os like me, you have fond memories of watching the Disney Afternoon line-up of cartoons. Nothing beat coming home from first grade, plunking down in front of the TV, and binging on Darkwing Duck, DuckTales, TaleSpin, and Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers all in a row. BOOM! Studios has already released their surprisingly popular Darkwing Duck book so the next logical step would be to tap into another property that we’re all nostalgic for.

With Darkwing Duck writer Ian Brill taking on scripting duties, BOOM! is taking a crack at the Chip ‘n Dale franchise by not only giving the beloved series its own title but immediately making it an ongoing. Add Marvel Super Hero Squad artist Leonel Castellani, and this book seems like it’d be perfect fare for the kids, not to mention the grown ups who still ong for the feel-good nineties.

Thing is, this book seems to be geared more for people who grew up watching the show rather than those unfamiliar with the characters. While the team tries to recover something called the super-key and fight a bunch of crazed animals who are all surrounded by a weird red aura (none of which is explained at all yet), the book gives us little peeks into the pasts of Gadget, Monterey Jack, and even Zipper which help explain why the characters are the way they are. As a former fan of the show, Brill does an amazing job of keeping the characters just as they were. Chip is still the same unlikeable douchebag he was on the cartoon, Dale is still cracking jokes left and right, and Zipper still wants to be the most heroic housefly that’s ever lived (two week life span be damned).

If you’ve enjoyed Brill’s work on Darkwing Duck or were a fan of the old series, chances are that you’ll get a kick out of this book, out Thursday.

Now I guess we just gotta hold out for BOOM’s inevitable TaleSpin comic (half-joke?).

It always kind of bums me out when two great things come out at once and only one of them gets a lick of attention. After twenty minutes in my local shop, it seemed like everybody was singing the praises of Kick-Ass 2 and nobody was talking about (or picking up, for that matter) BOOM! Studios’ Soldier Zero #1. And, for reals, those folks are missing out.

Soldier Zero is the story of Stewart Trautmann, a former Army captain who was paralyzed after his convoy ran over an IED in Afghanistan. Attempting to go about his post-war life with his brother and prospective lady-friend, Stewart finds himself in another freak accident when a dying alien crashes into him. He gets Abin Sur’d (yup, that’s a verb now) and develops superpowers (including the ability to stand) and an admittedly bitchin’ looking suit. But the question remains, what was the alien doing near Earth in the first place?

Soldier Zero was created by Stan Lee and is the first in a series of three books from BOOM! Studios produced under his guidance (the other two being The Traveler and Starborn).Soldier Zero follows Lee’s tried and true old formula for a superhero origin: take an underdog and make him realize his full potential. Paul Cornell (Captain Britain and MI-13, Action Comics) is the man in charge of making a book out of this character and he does so eloquently, quickly fleshing out our hero’s civilian life while simultaneously showing the alien’s dramatic final space battle. Plus, Javier Pina’s (Suicide Squad, Manhunter) art is visually spectacular as well (particularly the space action shots).

For what is more or less a quick origin story, this book is a damn fine read. If you have a love of all things Green Lantern Corps or Guardians of the Galaxy related, I have a feeling that this book will be right up your alley.

OH SNAP, PREVIEW PAGES.

Vampires are everywhere right now (really, X-Men? Really?) and when I saw that a book with a title like Dracula: The Company of Monsters was coming out on BOOM!, my first thought was, “Oh, shit, not you guys, too!” But then I saw a glimmer of hope shining through my funk of apathy for the genre: Kurt Busiek.

Dracula: The Company of Monsters, written by Busiek (Avengers, Astro City) and Daryl Gregory (Pandemonium) and illustrated by Scott Godlewski (Codebreakers), tells the story of Evan Barrington-Cabot, a research and development guy at a corporation that’s fallen on hard times. His boss (and uncle), Conrad, has a three-point plan to save the company:

  1. Resurrect Dracula
  2. ????
  3. Profit

Pffft. Yeah, no way that can go awry.

It’s refreshing to have a vampire book that’s actually doing something (gasp!) original. It’ll be interesting to see why anybody would ever actually want to resurrect Dracula rather than, you know, do something sane. What’s he gonna do, sic him on his competition? Wait. Oh, shit. Now that I said that, that’s awesome. I hope that’s where this book is going.

Anywho, here’s the first 12 pages of the first issue! That’s, like, half the book for free!

Over the past couple months, some people have been going batshit crazy over the fact that Kevin Keller (who is – wait for it – GAY) transferred to Riverdale High to spend eternity in high school with Archie and the gang. Granted, this is a big step for a property that allowed Spire Christian Comics to make a bunch of super-conservative comics starring the Riverdale gang back in the seventies, but there are plenty of other important (and often borderline offensive) gay moments in comics that the refreshingly normal Kevin Keller doesn’t even hold a candle to.

(10) Mikaal “Starman” Tomas joins the Justice League – Since its debut, the Justice League has been one of the least gay-friendly teams around. Considering how many members have come and gone from the team’s rosters in its 50 years of existence, it’s amazing that there hasn’t been a single gay member on the League until now. Following his Cry for Justice series, James Robinson took the opportunity to insert Starman into the team in May 2010’s Justice League of America #46. Considering how familiar the Justice League brand is, even to casual readers, I’d say this is a big leap forward in acceptance of LGBT characters in mainstream comics.

(9) Superman and the pink kryptonite – Well, this happened. You know how different colors of kryptonite have different effects on Superman? Well, in April 2003’s Supergirl Vol 4 #79, a Superman from an alternate timeline is exposed to pink kryptonite that causes him to, um, really, really like Jimmy Olson’s bowtie. I don’t know what’s better; an oblivious Lois in the back wondering what’s gotten in to the Man of Steel or Jimmy Olson in the foreground looking both slightly weirded out and very, very confused. Either way, it’s kind of awesome that DC (and not some parody/middle-aged woman’s slash fiction) had the guts to make a character as quintessential to comics as Superman gay, even if it was for all of one panel.

(8) BOOM! Studios’ 3rd Anniversary Party – In 2008, Californians were up in arms over Proposition 8, which would prevent same-sex couples from getting married.  Meanwhile, BOOM! Studios was getting ready to celebrate its third year of operation by throwing a big party at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. After booking the bar, BOOM! discovered that Doug Manchester, owner of the Manchester Grand Hyatt, had recently donated $125,000 to ProtectMarriage.com, masterminds behind Prop 8. So what does BOOM! do? Probably one of the greatest “fuck you” moves of all time, turning their own 3rd Anniversary party into a gay pride party.

(7) Rawhide Kid miniseries – This is one of those things that falls into the “one step forward, two steps back” category. In 2003, Marvel comics revived its 1950’s cowboy hero Jonathan Clay, the Rawhide Kid, gave him his own title,  and decided to retcon him as a homosexual. This marked the first time that a mainstream comic company had actually given a gay character their own book (albeit a limited series), which is rad. Only problem is, Marvel decided to put The Rawhide Kid: Slap Leather on its MAX imprint (which is pretty much just full of comics meant to offend everybody) and make him the most stereotypical gay character ever. And, um, guess what? As of last Wednesday, they began releasing volume two. Yay?

(6) Buffy and Satsu – The Buffyverse has always been kind to gay characters ever since Willow came out in season four of the television show. Still, it was  a bit of a surprise when during Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight #11-12, fellow-slayer Satsu admits to being in love with Buffy and, following a fight with Twilight, the two of them comfort each other. Granted, it was just a two-time thing, but it was executed respectfully and cemented a bond between the two characters.

(5) Apollo and Midnighter from The Authority – When Warren Ellis created the Authority, Wildstorm’s Justice League parallel, he decided to make Apollo and Midnighter (their Superman and Batman, respectively) a non-overtly gay couple. Following his run, Mark Millar took over and decided that the perfect way to close the first volume of The Authority would be with a wedding between the two heroes, celebrated by the masses rather than frowned upon. Now, if only Midnighter would have worn something a little less ridiculous to it.

(4) Renee Montoya and Kate Kane headlining Detective Comics – In August 2009, Greg Rucka  (who we’ve applauded time and time again for his work with female characters) got his hands on Detective Comics. With Bruce Wayne lost in time and Dick barely getting the cowl, somebody had to get top billing. Enter Kate Kane as Batwoman and Renee Montoya as the Question in issue #854 as stars of the main and co-features respectively. Now that the “Elegy” storyline is complete and Rucka has left DC, JH Williams III will be co-authoring an ongoing Batwoman book with W. Haden Blackman (X-Wing: Rogue Leader), the first time a gay character has had their own ongoing book.

(3) Valerie Page in V for Vendetta – In Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta, Britain is taken over by Norsefire, a fascist group, who criminalizes homosexuality (along with being Jewish, Pakistani, black, or Muslim). Popular lesbian actress Valerie Page is incarcerated and writes out an autobiographical letter to whomever finds it detailing her persecution. Just before she is scheduled to die, she slips her letter into the cell next to hers with the hope that they will escape. This letter ends up in Cell V, acting as the impetus which causes its occupant to destroy the internment camp and become the vigilante V. Later, this same letter is given to V’s protégée, Evey, which causes her to become his successor.

(2) Hulkling and Wiccan’s GLAAD award – For a company that fucked it up so bad with The Rawhide Kid, Marvel attempted to make up for it with the teenage romance between Hulkling and Wiccan (first hinted at in Young Avengers #7). Allan Heinberg, the writer for Young Avengers, is openly gay himself and decided that making the pair of heroes a couple would give gay comic readers something they could identify with. In 2006, both Heinberg and Marvel received a GLAAD award in recognition of this decision.

(1) Northstar coming out – In March 1992’s Alpha Flight #106, while the team fights Mr. Hyde, Northstar happens upon and and takes in Joanne, a baby dying of AIDS. Turns out that fellow Canadian superhero Major Mapleleaf’s own son was a homosexual and died of AIDS, causing him to freak out and attempt to kill Joanne. To stop Mapleleaf, Northstar confesses that he too is gay. Northstar’s coming out issue received all sorts of media attention, what with comic books still being considered children’s fare (the Comics Code Authority banning gay characters outright) and it being a whole five years before that episode of Ellen. Truly, this was the most groundbreaking moment for gays in comics.

I’ve always been a bit curious about foreign comics. Aside from a few old Astérix comics I’ve flipped through, I’m pretty much in the dark about any comics from the non-English speaking world. Meanwhile, over in France, Delcourt Productions has been reprinting translated versions of a bunch of American and Japanese comics including Invincible, The Goon, and BECK. Well, it looks like BOOM! is out to return the favor, starting with a 2007 comic originally printed by Delcourt, 7 Psychopaths.

7 Psychopaths written by Fabien Vehlmann (Spirou, Green Manor) and brilliantly illustrated by Sean Phillips (Criminal, Marvel Zombies) tells the tale of seven people with varying mental disabilities on a mission to hopefully end World War II by parachuting into Germany and assassinating Hitler. Yeah, something tells me that’s the kind of thing that’s easier said than done.

If this sounds like something you’d be into, check out the first seven pages below.

Oh, by the way, BOOM. If you want to keep releasing English translations of foreign comic books, I certainly won’t complain (especially if some Gil Jourdan comics start popping up).

Heyo everybody! Jonny here. It’s no secret that here at High Five! we love us some BOOM! Studios. Recently I was given the opportunity to interview artist/writer Peter Krause whose work includes pencils for Irredeemable, The Power of Shazam!, and sundry 90s Star Trek comics. Published below is my Q&A session with Mr. Krause, conducted via emails and interwebs:

————-begin————

High Five! Comics: Thanks again for the interview. We always have fun interacting with industry people and getting human faces/personalities for the books we enjoy reading every month. When did you start reading comics?

Peter Krause: Somewhere around 9-10 years old.  We had a drugstore around the corner from where I grew up in south Minneapolis, and comics were stocked on a spinner rack there.  That’s what I spent my allowance money on–comics.  I always bought Superman or World’s Finest.  My brother bought Legion of Superheroes and Teen Titans.  Later, I discovered Marvel comics.  Spider-Man and Daredevil became my new favorites.

HF!C: Some people grow up knowing exactly what they want to do, and most of us stumble in to a job that works for us. Where on this spectrum did comic illustration fall for you? Was it something you dreamed of doing as a kid, or something you fell into?

PK: Oh yeah, I dreamed of it.  In grade school, I became good friends with two other guys who also drew all the time.  We’d hang out at each others’ houses after school, draw and trade comics.  But drawing comics for a living remained a dream.  My parents always encouraged my drawing, but somehow I didn’t ever think I’d make a living with my art.  I  graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in studio arts and also a degree in journalism.  My first freelance job after school was a writing gig. It wasn’t until Lisa and I got married that I reconnected with my love of drawing comics.  After several years of working with smaller companies–including a self-publishing stint–I got my first freelance assignment with DC.

HF!C: You’ve been in the business long enough to have been influenced by some of the Silver and Bronze Age artists. What can you tell us about your influences (inside, and outside of comics), and what artists have been most important to you?

PK: The most obvious influence is Curt Swan.  I was a Superman fan–first and foremost.  Curt drew the Superman I grew up with.  When I was showing samples at conventions, Curt Swan’s name was brought up in comparison.  Not that I was as good as Curt, mind you.  But the influence was there.  Curt was a Minnesota guy, like me, so maybe there was something in the water! Other favorites from my childhood were Jack Kirby, John Romita Sr., Gene Colan, Gil Kane, Nick Cardy, Carmine Infantino, John Buscema.  And of course, Steranko.  Steranko just completely blew our minds!  We’d never seen anything like his stuff before!

HF!C: Do you have an artistic philosophy?

PK: Always make your present assignment a bit better than the last.  And don’t be afraid to fail–failure leads to learning.

HF!C: When I read your 90s work I notice a stark (and pleasing) contrast from the exaggerated, often abrasive imagery that was so popular at that time. Did you feel any pressure then to mimic that style?

PK: Ultimately, I think you draw the way you have to draw.  Not that you can’t learn from others, but I was attracted more to the solid, Alex Raymond approach to storytelling.  I remember Frank Miller saying that chasing trends is a fool’s errand.  That can apply to your art as well.

HF!C: Were there any offers between “Power of Shazam” and “Irredeemable” that you turned down?

PK: I did turn down some things, but it wasn’t like comic editors were beating down my doors.  I’m not sure that “Power of Shazam!” was seen as a success at DC–Jerry Ordway has commented on that in his Modern Masters book.  I did get a few smaller assignments from DC–I’m sure that was Mike Carlin’s doing.  But I was getting some interest from local ad agencies and production houses to do storyboards and marker comps, so I turned my attention to that line of work.

HF!C: “Irredeemable” is a year old now. How has the critical and commercial success of the work impacted you or your career?

PK: I can easily say that the last 15-16 months have been the busiest of my drawing career.  I still do some storyboard work–the pay is just too good.  When you put a monthly book on top of that, it makes for many hours at the drawing table. The Eisner nominations–“Best New Series” and “Best Continuing Series”–were a bit of a shock.  What impact that has on my career is too early to say.  But Mark Waid has been very supportive, and my editor Matt Gagnon has worked around the rest of my drawing assignments.  And since I’m giving out kudos, Andrew Dalhouse’s colors have been great.

HF!C: “Irredeemable” has given you a unique opportunity to create characters from scratch. How much of yourself is in these characters?

PK: When we started working on “Irredeemable”, Mark gave me a rough outline of the characters we needed to design.  I actually followed up with some more written details on each of the characters as I saw them.  I’d hate to say that there are aspects of my personality in each of them–that’s what our imaginations are for.  But we have striven to make the characters human with real flaws–some of which have had fatal consequences.  And some of the characters I identify with more closely than others.

HF!C: Do you have a favorite character, and is it because you love or hate that character?

PK: Qubit and Kaidan are my favorites.  Qubit because he’s a bit obsessive and kind of a straight-line thinker–I’m a bit too much like that myself.  Qubit is the closest character we have to Reed Richards–but perhaps without the moral certitude Reed has.  Reed Richards has always been one of my favorite comics characters. Kaidan appeals to me because she likes being part of a team, and also is a bit unsure of her worth.  She’s at heart an optimist, and maybe a bit naive.  All those things make it easy to root for her.  And as you will see in one of the upcoming issues, she discovers another aspect of her powers.  I think Mark has big plans for her.

HF!C: In issue #9 of “Irredeemable” we saw a good deal of role reversal. Tony seemed fragile and human, whereas The Paradigm became much darker and almost sinister. Has your perception of the characters changed as this project moved forward, or have you and Mr. Waid maintained a consistent vision?

PK: I think the Paradigm/Plutonian conflict has not been inconsistent, but it has brought out hidden aspects of the heroes’ personalities.  I think the Paradigm is wrestling with the “ends and means” dilemma, and that’s pushing them to a place where they are a bit unsure.   But that’s a place where we can tell a lot of cool stories.

HF!C: Before we go, is there anything you’d like to plug, promote, or otherwise talk about?

PK: I’m on a bit of hiatus, as my next issue of “Irredeemable” will be #16.  The incredible Diego Barreto will be drawing issues #13-15. I’d just like to thank everyone for supporting the book.  If you haven’t read it, please give “Irredeemable” a try!

————-end————

Congrats to Peter Krause, Mark Waid, and the rest of the creative team/staff at BOOM! Studios for their much deserved Eisner nomination. Irredeemable #13 is in stores now (sadly lacking Krause’s art, yet pleasantly featuring fine pencils by Diego Barreto). Many thanks to Peter Krause for taking time out of his schedule to mingle with us internet nerds.

Happy readings!

-Jonny


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