Friday, February 27, 2015

Rasputin #5 *SPOILERS*

My love for Rasputin grows with every issue but I'm afraid this story arc has ended.  It ended with uncertainty for the man who claims he knew how he was to die and when. 

Yes well, no one's perfect. Image promises us that it won't be the last we see of Rasputin. They give us an awesome teaser at the end. The image of Rasputin reclining with a martini glass in a rather modern looking age. We won't be seeing that story arc until the summer. Till then we can reflect on this beautiful book which by the way, is released as a trade paper in April.

If you've been reading this blog at all, you know what a big fan I am of Riley Rossmo's work. I consider Rasputin the pinnacle up to now. Although I reserve my extreme fondness for Seven Sons where Rossmo employed only black ink, I am really impressed with the softness within this book. It's almost as if the colors have transformed the paper into satin. So much passion and yet this soft, delicate color pallet.  I look forward to more. Until then, you've got the trade to look forward too. Also, sorry about the Bon Jovi, it's stuck in my head now too. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Spider Gwen #1

The highly anticipated debut of Spider Gwen's very own title has finally arrived! People everywhere were climbing over each other in frenzied panic to get their copy with their coveted variant cover. Okay... no one was really doing that..But people were really excited!!!

Last month I conducted an interview with Jason Latour on the series. I poked my nose into Marvel's announcement of Secret Wars and got to ask him lots of nosy questions about the series. Now it's finally here and I got to read it straight away!

First let me point out what I love about the book besides Gwen's awesome outfit which is pretty much all the rage in the cosplay world right now. I love that Gwen was in a band and got kicked out by her egotistical leader Mary Jane. This happened to me in my early twenties. I started a band with another girl and after we gained some slight popularity, basically I had to go. I was kicked out. Then the band literally disappeared. Hope that happens to Mary Jane. Did I ever tell you how much I disliked her as a child? She was my least favorite character in Spiderman and I actually preferred the blond, rich Gwen Stacy to her. Perhaps that's why I am also so in love with House of M. You know, besides the fact that it is awesome, Peter actually marries Gwen in the alternate reality made by the Scarlet Witch. To this day, I think it is one of TWO crossover collections I own in trade format from the Marvel universe.

In this universe Mary Jane is just as egotistical and self centered as I had always imagined her to be. She's just less subtle about it but it's not really MJ's fault. I mean, she's been written into Spiderman by men since conception and mostly served as a plot device to constantly make things more complex for Peter Parker. I liked her better before she ever dated him. This all being said, I'm liking Spider Gwen. We get to hear her inner monologue which is much less self deprecating than Parker's conscious and she gets some witty come-backs and one liners in there when she runs into The Vulture. The Vulture by the way looks badass. All the artwork is really quite stunning. Robbie Rodriguez is the seriously owning this and I'm hoping they don't trade him out in five issues like so many other awesome Marvel titles that went south *cough Savage Wolverine cough*.

At any rate, I can't wait for more. :D Go get yours now! I command it with my floppy green fist!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Royal Jelly: Feb 25

There is a ridiculous amount of good stuff out this week. It's going to hurt my bank account. Actually, my wallet is crying softly in a corner as I make my list.....

That got a little dark. Oh well, here's the list:

Bodies 8
Nightbreed 10
Bad Seed 5
Curb Stomp 1
Dark Gods 4
Low 6
Spider Gwen
Spiderman & the X-men 3
They're Not like Us 3
Thor Annual
Wicked + Divine 8
Arkham Manor 5
Rasputin 5

Kick-Ass 3 TP

Love:The Tiger
Walking Dead Vol 11  (for those collecting this edition)

So obviously I'm very excited about two hard covers. One is Magnetic Press' Love:The Tiger. You can read my interview with the amazing illustrator responsible for this masterpiece Frederico Bertolucci right HERE.

The second hard cover is Metabarons from Humanoids. Another classic by Alejandro Jodorowsky which spins from the amazing series The Incal and the massive Jodoverse. Review of this to come shortly.

From DC we have the fifth issue in the Arkham Manor series illustrated by my current fave Batman artist, Shawn Crystal!

From Marvel we all finally get to see Spider Gwen up-close and personal! Read my interview with writer Jason Latour right HERE!

Very excited for the debut of Curb Stomp from Boom Studios! Check out my interview with the creators RIGHT HERE!

Any thoughts? What are you most interested in this week?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Exclusive Interview with Cullen Bunn on Hellbreak

I had a bit of a mini holiday on the weekend. I took Monday off to enjoy myself lazying around the house. It was a rather successful lazy event. I only did some light reading that watched the end of Tudors, something I had been meaning to do for quite a few years. So, I thought I would kick off the week with an interview. Cullen Bunn is no stranger to comics and his career has taken him from Marvel's Deadpool to all the places where the most unique comics live like Oni Press and Boom Studios! Recently we were creeped out with The Empty Man and  made to laugh by Return of the Living Deadpool! On March 11th Oni Press will debut Bunn's new series Hellbreak. I had to talk to him about this exciting new book. Lucky you, you get to read it! 

TFQ: Hellbreak has been described as one part Aliens, one part Dante's Inferno and one part Inception. How did you come up with this story!?

That’s not a bad description of the story. I think it might skew a little more Dante’s Inferno and the Dirty Dozen, but I could see a bit of Inception (and a lot of Aliens) in there. I came up with this story a while ago, actually. I guess it grew from my desire to tell a rip-roaring action story with heavy supernatural overtones. I didn’t want the lead characters to be magical or superhuman in nature. Quite the opposite. I wanted them to be regular people (or at least regular hard cases) who were facing lethal supernatural threats. The idea changed a little bit over time, but the core element has remained the same—a crack team of soldiers venture into Hell to rescue lost souls.

TFQ: What brought you together with Brian Churilla on this release?

Cullen: I’ve been in contact with Brian for a long while, and I’ve always wanted to work with him. He did the 5-issue series THE SIXTH GUN: SOINS OF THE GUN a little while back. Oni suggested him for this title, and I was thrilled to be working with him.

TFQ: Your recent series The Empty Man has just ended. A lot of the stories you write are very dark and hint at a world behind our own. Can you tell us a little bit about why you gravitate to the darker tones?

Cullen: I’m not sure why I tend to stray into dark territory. I guess I’m just messed up somehow. I’ve been drawn to horror and dark fantasy since I was a kid. I think the darker, meaner, more twisted stories have a better chance of taking the reader off guard and surprising them. I also think fear and horror is a great background before which to play with the entire emotional spectrum.

TFQ: What inspires your stories? Do you find inspiration in other comics?

Cullen: I definitely read a lot of comics, but I find inspiration in novels, short stories, and movies. I pull a lot of ideas from old folktales and stories my dad used to tell me. Historical events are inspiring as are current events. I grew up in the country, and I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from the deep woods, crumbling tobacco barns, and hollows I used to explore as a kid. If you look to a book like Harrow County, which I have coming up from Dark Horse, you’ll see those elements right there on the page.

TFQ: Are there any artists you are just dying to work with the future?

There are many artists I’d love to work with. Chris Samnee, Jason Latour, Chris Mitten, Alan Davis—the list goes on and one.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Bitch Planet #3

I had set out with every intention going into this series, to not write about every issue. I thought I would write about this one however. After reading it, the story is showing us more of it's extreme patriarchal society. Where justice isn't justice and women's lives hang in the balance as men weigh their needs and wants against them.

In the first issue, the structure of the planet didn't seem so obvious to myself. Although immediately a woman loses her life to prison because her husband sought another woman (or so it was implied without all surrounding circumstances revealed). At any rate, without more information I found that the book wasn't particularly involved with feminist issues. At least beyond that. However now that we've made it this far much more is revealed and I'm seeing what DeConnick is doing with this story.

In issue three, Penny Rolle becomes the focus. We get a little back story on how she ended up in the big house as well as some insight into how she views herself and others. For Penny, she doesn't see her obesity as a big problem but rather she sees the people around her as unfit and unwell. A planet obsessed with looking their best, her robust figure is discouraged by the patriarchy who prefers slender women and as a result pushes diet fads on the female populace. It's this that Penny can't tolerate and it ultimately leads to her incarceration.

I myself spend an awful lot of time trying to be fit. I go to the gym, A LOT. I try my best to choose my meals carefully and avoid processed food. It's actually not something I have in common with.. well anyone. I go it in my head that I'd rather be in good shape than eat chips or deep-fried-anything. And sugar? Don't get me started. Yet, if I bother to turn on the tv I'm bombarded with images of women who are slimmer than myself and pushing all kinds of bizarre diet concoctions into my view...yet another great reason why I haven't had cable in years. Yikes! So DeConnick is just blowing up the proportions of the shit us ladies are expected to swallow on a daily basis.

My thoughts are on what other subjects she's going to touch on. Body image is a good important one but I get the feeling she's going to address gender here somewhere. I'm actually shocked there isn't a trans character in this story so far. So that will probably happen at some point. What else will this story address? Thoughts?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lazarus #15 *spoilers from previous issues*

Lazarus is one of my current favorites. It's exciting, emotionally driven and full of crazy-world-order-awesomeness. Up to this point in the story the Carlyle family Lazarus known as Forever has believed herself the daughter of the family patriarch. Most of the world leaders have Lazarus in their families and right at the end of  issue 14, Forever was set to fight one of them who she had befriended. She fights for the Hock families patriarch to be slated as guilty. The crime? Killing a member of the Carlyle family and stealing the scientific secrets of longevity. The key to eternal life.

This issue is going to throw some surprises at you and one hell of combat scene making this one of the quickest Lazarus issues I've ever read...there's very little to actually read but lots of panels to appreciate. Of course there's also a big cliff hanger, thanks Rucka.

The whole eternal life  thing is pretty damn awesome but I have to admit that I'm a really big fan of this new world order. Only in the story...not that I want it to actually happen. The world is divided, and so is the countryside, into territories owned by families. The populace is again divided into family members, citizens and surfs. The surfs have it pretty bad. Generally living in poverty and full of hatred for the family that commands their land. The first two story-arcs of the series focused more on these surfs and how Forever must deal with them despite any emotions she may have to the contrary. Sometimes she must punish them for insubordination, stealing, or conspiracy. Forever as a character is extremely complex and real.

Lately, whenever I am asked to recommend a comic to an adult, I end up recommending this one. Mostly because I think that people who don't normally read comics would be just as into it as a die-hard graphic novel fan. This is also one of the few books I think would transfer appropriately to film. I would watch this if they turned it into a movie, or series for that matter. Series might be more appropriate ;)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Royal Jelly: Feb 18, 2015

BPRD Hell on Earth 128
The Kitchen #4
Multiversity Mastermen
Autumnlands Tooth and Claw #4
Bitch Planet #3
Lazarus #15
MPH #5
Rumble #3
Manifest Destiny #13
Silk #1
She-Hulk #12
Silver Surfer #9
Wolverines #7

Manara: The Library Vol 6
Barbarella and The Wrath of the Minute-Eater

Lot's of things of note this week! I'd like to remind you that Mark Millar's MPH is finally wrapping up with issue #5!  As well as many great Image series continue! More awesome monster filled Rumble and Manifest Destiny! 

Humanoids releases another Barbarella epic! The Wrath of the Minute-Eater was first collected in 1964. This new English translation has been adapted by Kelly Sue DeConnick, another lady who kick ass. The perfect accompaniment to grabbing your copy of Bitch Planet #3 this week.

A big one on my list this week is Dan Slott & Mike Allred's Silver Surfer. Issue 9 hits the stands tomorrow and I can't wait to see the aftermath of Dawn's abandoning the surfer! You know, due to the fact that she found out who he use to work for  ;) Plus that same employer is supposed to be making an appearance.

From Marvel we also have Silk #1 which I haven't completely resigned myself to read but I though I'd add it to the pull list for those Spider-verse enthusiasts! I'm really more interested in Spider-Gwen.

DC is throwing another installment of Multiversity at us. This one is called Mastermen. I was indifferent to the Guide Book but we'll see what this one has in store. Most of the internet seems to be head over heels in love with Multiversity while I seem to maintain a quiet admiration.

That's about all I'm gonna say today! Stay tuned for special reviews this week!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Exclusive Interview with Justin Jordan

Justin Jordan has to be one of the busiest writers I know. At any given time, comic book shelves are littered with his many current series. From Dead Body Road to the Green Lantern: New Guardians, Justin has written for the big two as well as managed many of his own stories that have been published through Image Comics to Avatar Press. Currently, I'm a big fan of Spread and Dark Gods. Both of which are action packed and horror inspired. That's my kind of story. I've been following both series since they debuted and been bothering Justin for about just as long to ask a few questions about his process. Here's what he has to say!

TFQ: Can you tell me a little bit about how Dark Gods was conceived?

Justin: Oddly enough, it was a combination of things. Part of it was William Christensen had the idea of doing a horror comic called Dark Gods. Not any kind of a story, just that he thought it would be a cool title and he liked what I did with the God Is Dead short story I did.

I had been noodling with, for years, the idea of a organization dedicated to killing gods. The basic premise being that gods existed and were now weak, and this group finished them off. Which should sound very familiar to Dark Gods readers, because it became Dark Gods.

And I’m always interested in the way myths and stories define us and the world we live in, so that got spun into it.

TFQ: How did you come to work with German?

Justin: German was the artist on the aforementioned God Is Dead story, so when we came up this idea he seemed like the right guy to do the book. He’s got a style that’s perfectly suited to horror.

TFQ: Both Spread and Dark Gods are dark stories that would be horrific in film. Yet in comics, these horrific scenes are beautiful. When writing your scripts, how do you translate these terrifying scenes into art?

Justin: I think all of the credit there has to go to the artists. I do try to think of things that I haven’t seen before to try and include in the scripts. In the case of horror stuff, I’m also trying to capture a different kind of horror in each scene.

TFQ: You've written Superhero comics and focused on stories with your own characters. Do you have a preference and which do you find more challenging? How does your process differ for each?

Justin: Ah, that’s a good question. I prefer working on my own stuff, largely because I can do what I want to do without regard to editorial concerns or a massive universe of continuity.

Now, that’s not actually a knock on superhero comics – it’s just that when you’re working in a shared universe that has existed before you started writing and will exist after, there’s just stuff you can and shouldn’t do. So it’s a different animal than doing superhero stuff at Marvel or DC.

TFQ: One question I love to ask people is: what's on your bucket list? What comics are just dying to write that you haven't had the opportunity to write?

Justin: Batman. Which Scott Snyder is doing a hell of a job with right now, so he’d be a hard act to follow even if I could follow him. But, you know, Batman has always been one of favorite character so I’d love to take a crack at him someday.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Leaning Girl

I thought I would talk about something a little bit different today. Last week I received this amazing book from Alaxis Press owner Stephen D. Smith. I had my eye on the book for quite some time including all the books in The Obscure Cities (Les Cities Obscures) series. (Just a side note, for those of you who may not know, Alaxis Press is an imprint of Atomic Vision Entertainment, Inc.)

Released in March 2014 for the first time in English, acclaimed graphic album series The Obscure Cities: The Leaning Girl. This book features the most prominent character of The Obscure Cities series, Mary Von Rathen and her bizarre affliction on being, well at a slight incline. No matter what experiments they try, what cruelty her headmistresses inflict, Mary is stuck leaning slightly and incapable of standing up straight.

I rarely include video in my posts but I decided it was a good addition this time, the music added is pretty fitting I think.

The Leaning Girl follows Mary on an existential journey to find love and belonging. Her travels take her to the stars and further! The artwork is timeless yet with the opening scenes, taking place on the mysterious Star Express roller coaster, I kept being reminded of Fritz Lang's Metropolis, which of course I'm extremely fond of.

Les Cities Obscures was originally published in the early 80's by François Schuiten and writer Benoît Peeters. Since it's originally publication it has been translated from it's original language French into ten other languages winning the Gaiman Award as no 1 foreign comic book series published in Japan in 2013. This first English edition of the book itself is beautiful, measuring 9.25" x 11.625" and .75" thick. The paper, I'm told was specially picked out by both the publisher and creators specifications. It's a thick art paper your not likely to see in your average graphic novel.

I really loved this story and the publisher has promised to see to it that all Les Cities Obscures makes it to English publication. The Theory of the Grain of Sand is next in line for press.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Exclusive Interview with Jimmie Robinson on The Empty

Image has published a new series that feels vastly different from anything that is currently being pushed out from the title. The Empty is a science fiction epic centered around a uniquely evolved character Tanoor, who lives through desolation. Her village if found struggling to live as the last clan of humans when they meet a stranger with a power which carries with it, the hope of survival. I was really lucky to get an advanced read of the first two issues and ask a few questions about this curious story. Writer and illustrator Jimmie Robinson has cultivated a world unlike that you have seen before. New species and new languages are waiting to be discovered in The Empty. I got to ask Jimmie some questions about his book. Check it out:

TFQ: Can you give me some background on the conception of this series?

Jimmie Robinson:
The Empty started out way back in the 1990s when I did a story called “Lila’s Garden”. The concept was basically the same, but set up on a classic sword & sorcery platform. Lila was the magic gardener from her village with an enchanted watering can that could help anything grow. Lila would grow things depending on the situation, and the things she produced had magical elements -- such as, giving someone health, make someone tell the truth, finding clues to a mystery and all that jazz. But in 2013 I decided to dust off the story and give it a new spin. I didn't want to pull a simple medieval fantasy story. Rat Queens, Skull Kickers and others were already doing that. So I spun it another direction. That’s how it came about in this version.

As for the actual original conception, back in the 1990s I drew a quirky ball point pen sketch of a girl holding a flower and a watering can. At the time I also wanted to do something different than the typical super hero action stuff. Lila’s Garden was published as an 8-page story in the anthology called Mythography, which was published by Michael Cohen, the creator of Strange Attractors.

TFQ: How did you begin to develop the world these species live in and what inspired their appearance?

Jimmie: Well, with a series called “The Empty” it wasn't easy. I was tempted to make all the landscapes a straight line on the horizon. Originally I was thinking of this on a high-concept level, like a far flung European style comic with a minimalist slant and all that. However, while that sounds a nice break from the norm it also looks horrible on paper. So I settled for a world that was barren enough to look uninhabitable, but not completely devoid of life. You see a few bugs, you see a few withering plants, some skeletal trees, stuff like that.

My next step was to define the type of creatures that could survive in such an environment. Often I’d see a fantasy or sci-fi monster movie and the beast is 100% carnivorous. However, their planet looks barren of the type of prey that would support such alien creatures. It boggles the mind. So I stepped somewhere in the middle. I went with plant eaters and some carnivorous animals, but not so much that it’s like a wild safari. In fact, the horizon is still somewhat flat and rocky. No large herds of roaming beasts.

In the beginning of the story we are introduced to completely different characters from different worlds. One comes a literal paradise, her name is Lila. The other comes from The Empty, a barren wasteland, her name is Tanoor. When these two get together all sorts of problems come up. Those problems lead us to an adventure across the land to unique species and environments.

TFQ: What inspired you to write a story with this unique attention to evolution?

Jimmie: Often a story takes a small view of history. Most adventures develop over a short period of time. Mostly within the span of a single lifetime. Maybe two lifetimes. Maybe there’s a generational aspect of handing the torch from one hero to another. Stuff like that. However, I wanted a story that took an evolutionary twist. Not just concerning the characters, but society and the environment, as well. I’m talking like the development of the Grand Canyon, the rise and fall of civilizations, the death of languages and cultures, and the isolation of certain communities. I didn't want to push a certain didactic agenda, I just wanted to broaden the scope of my story and give it a long range twist.

Today we live with several factors that evolved from history. How we talk. The language we use. Latin. Foreign language. Customs. Wars. Borders. Politics. However, unlike other times in history the things we do today might have very dramatic and scientific ramifications on the future. The Empty skirts around that issue in a number of ways — but at the same time I just want to tell a classic buddy adventure travel story.

TFQ: Why is it that you choose to portray the tribe's xenophobia through the elder of the clan?

Jimmie: As with most generations, it’s the youth that venture out and away from hard-pressed customs and fear of the unknown. We can see the needle move more nowadays in our interconnected world. Things are changing and often it’s the youth rising up against the old guard that is makes it happen. It’s a simple and well-used platform, and mostly just used as what Joseph Campbell would label as “the call to adventure”. A conflict is created, characters draw lines in the sand, and a new path is laid out. In this case, the elder who controls a small village in The Empty, fears losing control to a new stranger with strange powers and abilities.

In this case, the Elder isn't really a bad person. He’s just doing what he thinks is right for the people based on his experience. However, the warrior character (Tanoor) has traveled the land. She has seen a lot of the world and she has less fear of the unknown. She’s an adventurer. It’s natural for her to explore new paths.

TFQ: What can we expect from The Empty?

Major twists. And I’m not using the word lightly. If you think you got The Empty figured out you’d be wrong. I’m setting the groundwork for a huge story structure. We start with an immediate problem, but that leads to the core problem and even that branches into a world encompassing situation. This isn't a story where the characters merely beat the bad guys, this is a story where everyone discovers the puzzle pieces, then figure how it all fits together only then to realize the true problem right beneath their feet. I’d like to think of The Empty in the classic larger-than-life sic-fi stories we used to see in the 60's and 70's.

Granted, I admit I’m trying to pull this off in a mere 6 issue mini-series. However, though I will hit a natural end of this story arc, I am hoping to return to the series with the rest of the bigger picture and future developments and characters. I tend to work in a *series of mini-series*. So if something works for the reader I can come back to it year after year. I did that with Bomb Queen and Five Weapons, both from Image Comics. It’s a good production platform — especially since I am doing ALL the work this time around.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Royal Jelly: Feb 11th 2015

As you can tell, I'm being a tad lazy with this today. In all honesty, I've just been really busy. There are actually more hardcover novels that I want than floppies this week. I've already read a few of them however.

DARK HORSE COMICS,Usagi Yojimbo #1 (1 For $1 Edition)
IMAGE COMICS,Walking Dead #13
MARVEL COMICS,Wolverines #6

IMAGE COMICS,Starlight Volume 1 TP
DC COMICS,Hellblazer Volume 10 In The Line Of Fire TP

GINGKO PRESS,Banksy In New York HC
VANGUARD PRODUCTIONS,Wally Wood Torrid Romances HC

Mentionables: MARVEL COMICS,Darth Vader #1

My quick breakdown: In the floppies department, we got more Shutter! I'm still completely in love with this series. I think it's about time for a second interview with those cats. From Image Comics comes a new series called The Empty. I've had the opportunity to read the first two issues so stayed tuned for something special tomorrow morning.

With Marvel we are still wondering who this female Thor is! It's been confirmed in issue #4 that it is NOT Thor's Mother. Apparently we know her though...

For trades we have Starlight from Goran Parlov and Mark Millar collected! I loved this series to death. You will too. Of course, we have more collected classic Hellblazer coming out with volume 10! DC is trying to get readers hyped because last Friday they announced that there will be another Hellblazer title drawn by the amazing Riley Rossmo. I can't wait.

Magnetic Press releases Chinese sensation Daomu in English, for the first time in a hard cover collected edition. There are some very curious books included some Wally Wood which they gotta publish more of. It's a good week for graphic novels!


Story: Kennedy Xu 
Writer: Colin Johnson
Principal Artist:
 Ken Chou
Lettering:  Tom Orzechowski
Design:  Neurobellum Productions

Daomu roughly translates to mean "Grave Robbers". The comic book however, is based on the best selling novel series from China which chronicles the adventures of one man as he tries to reveal the secrets of his family's legacy. Sean must solve his fathers murder while helping his uncle uncover hidden treasures in treacherous tombs, which also happen to be crawling with the undead and various flesh eating vermin. Survival means that he may claim his birthright as leader of the Daomu.

This exciting thrill ride which I can only describe as Sanctum meets The Mummy, will take you to new depths from caverns to sunken ships. You were unlikely to find an adventure like this West of China, except for of course, now you can! For the first time ever, Magnetic Press is releasing a collected edition of this epic treasure hunt. Personally I'm a sucker for deluxe hard cover editions. This one is just every bit as beautiful as Magnetic Press' previous releases. It's glossy covering is both sturdy and durable which means something to me personally. When I purchase a book for my collection, I want it to live as long as I do. You really can't say that about just any hardcover book. As an added bonus, Magnetic Press books are printed in Canada which is pretty awesome and really rare for me. Many of the books I have are printed in the UK or the US.

The very best? You can get your copy of Daomu in stores tomorrow! I loved it and I know you will too.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Exclusive Interview with Gabriel Hardman & Corinna Bechko on "Invisible Republic"

Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko are back at it again with another science fiction hit. Invisible Republic lands in a comic shop near you on March 18th. Something to look forward to this spring from the team that brought you Deep Gravity. I've had the good fortune to read the first issue and I was taken. The story moves through time to uncover the truth behind a lost regime and Arthur McBride, a man of legendary status. I got to pose a few questions and get some answers about the story and it's development.

TFQ: First off, I was wondering how this story all came together! How long has this story been in development. I. E. How long have you been hiding this?

Gabriel Hardman: Invisible Republic is a series we’ve been planning since we finished Heathentown, our first OGN together in 2008 and before any of our freelance work. It’s an ambitious story and in a way it’s really good that we did the long form Planet of the Apes and Star Wars: Legacy series’ first. We had a lot of freedom on those books, which helped us hone our style and working methods.

Corinna Bechko: It really has been gestating for quite a while! I'm glad we waited though, since what we're presenting now is a more mature realization of the basic themes... And the storyline has acquired a lot more action and intrigue over the years too.

TFQ: With last year's release of Kinski as a trade through Image, this feels like a big departure, but you've done sci-fi before. What genre feels most at home to you, which do you enjoy more?

GH: It may sound strange, but I really don’t think about genre much when I’m drawing a book. The two biggest things for me are understanding the characters and making the world feel credible. All the books we’ve done have been pretty grounded, really. The thing I enjoy the most is getting across character through the visuals.

TFQ: The first issue had a serious tone. People are living through the aftermath of specific regime. We dunno yet what it was like or how well off the are now. Can you tell me a little about what readers can expect from this series?

We'll be exploring two different times in the history of this one out-of-the-way world. In the "past", when Arthur and Maia are young, the politics of the place exist in almost total isolation. The population is restless, ripe for a charismatic strongman to offer them a brighter future. Faster than light travel hasn't been discovered yet, so there are no outside influences since it takes generations to reach a system like Avalon's. In the "present", as Croger investigates the fall of Avalon's totalitarian regime, we'll find out how much has changed as the rest of the galaxy becomes accessible with the advent of a reliable FTL drive, and how much remains anchored by geography and the very personal politics of family dynamics.

TFQ: Was it difficult to decide where to take this story for publishing? Why have you chosen Image?

GH: Image was the natural fit for a book like this because Invisible Republic is a big story that also evolves as it goes. We need the flexibility and control that Image affords. This book just wouldn’t work in any other circumstance.

TFQ: I really love that we get to see this world in two different periods of time. Does this create challenges challenge while illustrating ?

GH: Absolutely. There are storytelling challenges to keeping the timelines straight. A big part of that is carried by our colorist Jordan Boyd who’s been doing amazing work on this book. We settled on a different color palette for each era and Jordan is nailing it.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Exclusive Interview with Stan Sakai on Usagi Yojimbo

To those of you who may not know, Usagi Yojimbo is a much loved character created by Stan Sakai. This iconic anthropomorphic rabbit was modeled after Miyamoto Musashi. It's prolific publication history starts with Usagi's first appearance in 1984 before appearing in his own series in 1987. Since then Usagi has battled many foes and even wound up dealing with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in both comic and animated form. In 2012 Stan took a break before revealing the latest Usagi story arc, Usagi Yojimbo: Senso which has just finished wrapping up. I was able to talk a bit to Stan about Senso and what Usagi's future looks like:

TFQ: Usagi's current story arc is at a close as of Jan 7th. Can you tell us a little bit about your inspiration for this arc?

Usagi Yojimbo: Senso is a 6-issue limited series which will be released as a mass market hardcover in May. It takes place 20 years in Usagi's current future and the inspiration was: What if the martians in HG Well's War of the Worlds had sent a few scout ships 200 years before their invasion of England, and they landed in feudal Japan in the middle to the final battle with Usagi's forces and the evil Lord Hikiji. Whereas I am noted for the historical and cultural research I do, this story is just pure fun. The reviews have been very good. You can see how characters aged and what they are doing now, how relationships have changed, and who lives and who dies. Throughout the series are two threads involving the unrequited romance between Usagi and Tomoe, and the relationship between Usagi and Jotaro who does not know he is Usagi's son.

TFQ: What is the future looking like for Usagi? Can you give us any hints as to what he will face in the future?

Stan: The first three issues of the regular Usagi series is already in the can, and it won't be printed for another 4 months. I am already behind on my schedule, though. The story arc is brings together two women from Usagi's life--Chizu the determined ninja and Kitsune the thief who sees life as a game. I had wanted to bring these two together for a long time since their personalities are so different and, of course, they clash with Usagi caught in the middle. This all revolves around an attempt for a merchant to corner the ginseng root market. I am half way through the next issue in which Usagi meets a one-armed swordsman. The issue numbering continues where we left off two years ago, so the first of the new issues will be #145. If you add up the number of issues from all my publishers, I have done well more than 200 issues, all advancing the Usagi storyline. However, it is still very reader friendly. All a new reader needs to know is: Usagi is a samurai rabbit in a 17th century Japan inhabited by funny animals.

TFQ: A lot of writers put little bits of themselves into the characters they create. What parts do identify with in Usagi?

Stan: I am a third generation Japanese American. I like to think (or delude myself) that I would share Usagi's feelings of honor and loyalty. That is probably the two major points of bushido, the code of the samurai.

TFQ: Any publications we can expect to grab this year with your name on it?

Stan: I will have a lot of collections out this year. The omnibus UY Saga vol 2 comes out in a few weeks. The Senso collection will be out in May. UY Book 29: Two Hundred Jizo is scheduled for early June, and Saga 3 will be out in the summer with vol 4 near the end of the year.

Keep your eyes peeled for more Usagi! It's not over yet!

Return of the Living Deadpool

Cullen Bun, no stranger to the Deadpool title has returned to bring back another round of Night of the Living Deadpool. In this story a gal named Liv wanders what's left of civilization, avoid zombies and something worse- The Deadpools. You see if a zombie were to chomp on the "hero" Deadpool, he would turn into a version of Deadpool. We are told that is much worse than regular zombies. Liv encounters a Deadpool who has no memory of what has happened and also doesn't seem to want to murder her for fun so the end up roaming together. The script is fraught with good annoying Deadpool commentary. I say annoying because Liv just looks like she regrets making friends.

I really love Nicole Virella's work here. It's really beautiful. She's done the entire piece in black and white, except for of course Deadpool who's red is lights up the panels much like something from Sin City. You really get that horror movie feel while reading it and that's the point.
Virella's use of close ups in this panel being among my favorite in the book. Look how spooky those other Deadpools look! Those are so seriously bad-ass.

This is a limited series so you best run out and snatch it up fast! Nicole Virella is a newcomer to Marvel but no stranger to comics and I expect we will see much more of her work in titles from the big two this year! My prediction! :D

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Feathers #2 *SPOILERS*

The world has expanded before us in this second issue of Feathers. I feel like Bianca eager to learn more about the place beyond the city walls known as the Maze. Currently everyone in the Maze is looking for Bianca by the insistent commands of her father and his men. However, she's met Poe and busy devising a scheme to save one of the Mice from a most unfortunate fate- being locked up in a cage guarded by an older boy with a stick.

I really like how all the children of the Mice gang are designated by a letter of the alphabet, with the head of the gang being designated by "z". Even more interesting is that the leader of the Mice is a girl! Which is awesome! We get to learn a bit about her and the circumstances around the mysterious disappearance of her older brother and many other Mice from the Maze. I'm just curious as to who is running this experiment. Bianca tells a little tale of a great golden leader (or god?) covered in feathers which raises much excitement in Poe. Yet, I don't think she is at the root of this kingdom and so far, I'm not certain who is in charge and how the economy works in this kingdom LOL. It's pretty much aristocracy behind the walls and surfs beyond. Yet it doesn't really appear that the city guards can even guarantee their own safety in the Maze.

As same as before this slightly gothic tale has some beautiful panels and I know you will thoroughly enjoy your way through this issue. I must say that I am also in love with the thick printed covers that Archaia/Boom has chosen for these books. It really does make the issues feel deluxe!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Namesless #1 *SPOILERS*

OMG PINK. This is the thing, I'm not big on the color pink unless it's in comics! I LOVE PINK PANELS! Nameless #1 opens in brilliant pink! I really like this artwork. Chris Burnham really kicks it into high gear! The opening scenes in the book being among the best. This is incredibly important for myself because I have stacks of books to review and if I can't get through a mere 35 pages then I might as well toss it and move on to something I might actually enjoy.

What do you get when you mix a little magic into the world of science fiction? Sprinkle a little dream travel? You get Grant Morrison doing his thing. I mean, we also coincidentally get a really odd version of Armageddon, you know without Ben Afflect playing with children's animal biscuits on Liv Tyler naked abdomen and that awful Areosmith song. Xibalba, place of fear. Do you remember all the Mayan BS about the end of the world? Well it does come into play here. You see what I'm getting at.

I feel like Morrison is on a bit or a tirade lately to prove something. He's always been a busy man but it almost feels like he's being pulled in way more
directions than usual. There are always the same themes running amok through his stories. I feel like I want to dive right into this but this is going to be a much larger article. Suffice it to say, Nameless #1 is paced appropriately to allow me to read on into the next issue. I didn't merely toss it aside. The artwork is the real showstopper in this story however and I'm loving the coloring.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Royal Jelly: Feb 4th 2015

Cluster #1
Feathers #2
Hellboy and BPRD #3
Lady Killer #2
Names #6
Namesless #1
Saga #25
Wytches #4
Annihilator #5
Return of the Living Deadpool #1
Wolverines #5


Mentionables: Hawkeye #21, Star Wars #2

WOAH look at this week!!! I'm going to be reading in bed forever! In all seriousness though we've got some hits in here. Image and Boom are rocking it! So here's some of the skinny on this week's picks:

There's a gorgeous art book hitting the stands today in form of a record! Oh it only looks like a record but it's actually a beautiful rock and roll inspired look book. Italian illustrator and designer Matteo De Longis shows off his skills that he himself coins as "dream design". These punk rock divas are gritty and sexy. Vox will remind of a little of Suicide Girls with the electric instrumental influence in each portrait. Check out more about Vox HERE.

Writer Ed Brisson (Sons of Anarchy) and illustrator Damian Couceiro bring us Cluster #1, a new on-going series from Boom Studios! It claims to be off-world, hardcore action. Even more exciting about this, is that James Stokoe is responsible for the cover art! Check out my advanced review HERE. Also from Boom Studios imprint Archaia, we have the exciting second chapter of Feathers! I loved issue 1 and it was so exciting to see something new that could appeal to an audience of all ages. If you have no read Feathers, you best correct yourself today!

That busy nut Grant Morrison is still at it with Annihilator #5 but the story is almost to a close as this limited series ends with issue 6 next month! If you were super sad about that, don't worry, Morrison has teamed up with Chris Burnham (he's done so much Batman) to bring you a new monthly series from Image Comics entitled Nameless! Stay tuned for my advanced review.

Image brings us a lot more Saga, and Wytches while Darkhorse brings us the continuation of Lady Killer and Hellboy and The BPRD. Both of which I'm frankly, completely in love with.

From Marvel this month we have the long waited return of Hawkeye with issue 21 finally hitting the stands. A goodie to pick up is new limited series Return of the Living Deadpool. This one is written by Cullen Bunn who is no stranger to Deadpool comics. You should also read my interview with artist Nicole Virella HERE if you haven't already. You Star Wars fans also needn't be reminded but #2 of the original Star Wars story is out this week too!

All in all, I think we've got a lot of reading to do this week. Don't you?

Cluster #1

This futuristic story has the slight flavor of Bitch Planet without being influenced by the competition of Running Man. In this reality, prisoners serving a life sentence have a chance of seeing the light of freedom again by serving in the war efforts for 15 years on the front lines. But at what cost? Is survival even possible? Samara Simmons is about the find out. In this future, war takes place one different planets, defending colonies from the onslaught of aliens!

Cluster is written by Ed Brisson who comes from the successful Son of Anarchy run and Prophet, a personal favorite. Damian Couceiro contributes his talent to this story. You'll recognize him from many Planet of the Apes comics!

Although I dislike when there are many comics focused on the same subjects, Cluster is coming from a different angle than futuristic prison story Bitch Planet. There's a trend with comics when one subject is successful, other copies tend to follow but I don't feel as though this is a copycat story. Look who they got doing the cover? It's James Stokoe, another personal favorite and you can only imagine that Brisson and Stokoe met when they each had their hands busy in Prophet. Boom has been especially great lately. They are celebrating their first decade in publishing and really pumping out fantastic titles. Check this one. I think you'll be pleased!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Exclusive Interview with Jason Latour on Spider-Gwen #1

Anka Variant
The Spiderverse is expanding and why shouldn't it!? Everybody is jumping up and down for Spider-Gwen's on-going series slated to hit the stands February 25th. Issue number one hails a bitch script from Jason Latour with art from Robbi Rodriguez. Marvel is issuing three pretty fantastic variant covers for this launch  from Adam Hughes, Skottie Young, and Kris Anka. I of course had questions and got to talking to Jason Latour! Here's what we discussed:

TFQ: What it like to put your brushes and tools aside for this story and let another artist interpret your story into images?

Jason: It’s relaxing. No. I’m kidding. At this point I’ve written enough stuff for other people to know how to (mostly) turn off my tendency to be a micromanaging artist and let the other collaborators do their thing. Sometimes you get burned but most of the time It’s exciting to watch someone else take your ideas and breathe life into them. In this case I’ve known Robbi and Rico a very long time, and I’m really familiar with what they can do. So it helps to have that kind of trust in the art team.

TFQ: Spider-Gwen has MY PERFECT COSTUME. I mean, I think she stole the costume of my dreams. How did the team develop her outfit?

Jason: The bulk of the credit goes to Robbi for that design. Whe he started I gave him the prompt that I wanted her to be mysterious, to feel the same way that Ditko’s Spider-man felt in the 60s. Where you could see, from a certain perspective, why the “Menace” tag fit. But also it was important that her gender or her race not be the sole defining characteristic of the design. So we wanted her face covered for the the costume to work as a design. So from there Robbi took the reigns and passed it back to me a few times just for my input.
Page Preview

TFQ: Some people are critical of female superheroes with their own title series. What would you say to those people that would sway them to read Spider-Gwen?

I’d say it’s 2015. There’s room for every kind of superhero you can dream up. It won’t kill you you to set aside one of the dozens of male superheroes you read and maybe give something new a try. Catch up or get left behind.

TFQ: With the perceived threat of Secret Wars, which in my opinion has a lot of fans freaking out unduly, what's in Spider-Gwen's future?

Well I can’t address it directly right now, but hopefully soon. Just know that I plan on writing Gwen for a long time and no one at Marvel’s told me I should be thinking otherwise.

TFQ: Can you tell us what else you're working on right now?

Jason: I’m still the artist and co-creator of SOUTHERN BASTARDS at Image Comics. It’s old men hitting each other with sticks and eating BBQ. If you haven’t read it you should. I think you’ll like it.

Hughes Variant