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We’re Defining This New Wave Of Comics For Ourselves: A Conversation With Noelle Stevenson [Interview]

Noelle Stevenson
Noelle Stevenson

Noelle Stevenson is the future. Nimona, her celebrated and fantastical webcomic about a villain's shapeshifting sidekick, will be published as a graphic novel by HarperCollins in 2015; Lumberjanes, the Boom Studios series about a group of girl adventurers that she co-writes with Grace Ellis, has been promoted from miniseries to ongoing; Marvel has just announced that she's writing a story for the upcoming Thor Annual #1; and she's a writer on Disney’s Wander Over Yonder cartoon.

You're going to see a lot of Noelle Stevenson in the coming year. She's an outspoken, accomplished, and driven talent, and it's no surprise that everyone is suddenly taking notice. To better understand one of the industry’s most promising talents, ComicsAlliance sat down with Stevenson to talk about the indie scene, going legit, and the trials of a changing industry.

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Power And Anarchy: A Midseason Analysis Of ‘The Legend Of Korra’ Book Four

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The Legend of Korra has been about many things—generational divides, anarchy, teen romance—but mostly, it’s been about power. Where Korra saw divine talent, Amon saw an underclass maintained by the caprice of nature. Where Korra saw vengeful dark spirits, Unalaq saw a grave imbalance that had pained the world for thousands of years. Where Korra saw an inept, but inevitable monarchy, Zaheer saw a tyrant whose willful ignorance kept her people destitute. Where Korra was absent, Kuvira, in her own words, “stepped up.” Where Korra sees status quo, others see the cruelty of those in power—and the opportunity for change.

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Who Is Wonder Woman? The Diamonds And Dinged Plastic Of Azzarello & Chiang’s Amazon Princess

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Who is Wonder Woman?

Is she a being of love adrift in darkness, as portrayed by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang in their recently ended run? A dowdy wallflower, eternally at war with her own glamorous alter ego for Steve Trevor’s affection? George Pérez’s goddess of truth? Robert Kanigher’s wannabe wife? Greg Rucka’s diplomat? Gail Simone’s savior? Robert Valley's hot rod heroine? The Justice League’s secretary? Superman’s girlfriend? Batman’s girlfriend? Lynda Carter in satin tights? William Moulton Marston’s herald of benevolent matriarchy or the sexed-up uberbabe I met as a comics-curious child? Or, in the most macro sense—the one that most of the public operates on, when it comes to Wonder Woman—is she merely the century’s most generic t-shirt symbol of girl power?

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From ‘Love Showdown’ To Kevin Keller & Beyond: An Interview With Archie Comics’ Dan Parent

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Archie and the gang have been facing quite a bit of adversity lately. They've taken on the forces of the undead in Afterlife With Archie, covens in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and, perhaps most fearsomely of all, the creeping ennui of adulthood in Life With Archie.

In the center of this maelstrom is Dan Parent, longtime Archie writer and artist. It’s tempting to say that he is the placid, controversy-free sun around which the Archie system orbits, but that isn't exactly accurate — Kevin Keller, Archie’s first gay character, is his creation. In fact, Parent merges the opposing forces of change and status quo at work within the publisher into a harmonious whole. ComicsAlliance sat down with Parent at New York Comic Con to discuss the legacy he inherited, the present he’s shaped, and the future to come.

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Drawn To Other People: A Conversation With ‘This One Summer’ Artist Jillian Tamaki

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Jillian Tamaki’s work is a triumph of contradiction. It is lush, yet spare. Emotional, yet understated. Detailed, yet intriguingly simple. It is, at all times, astonishingly good. While reading This One Summer, which she created with her cousin, writer Mariko Tamaki, I found myself regularly putting the book down to better absorb the power of her pen. “Look at this!” I said, thrusting the book at nearby friends. “Look at that ocean! Look at those hands! Look at this part, where she does that flowy thing with the hair!” And my friends would look, and nod, and ask where I’d bought my copy so they could get one too.

As I strolled the aisles of the 2014 Small Press Expo, talk of Tamaki’s work was everywhere. Other creators I interviewed name-dropped This One Summer. Fans referenced Super Mutant Magic Academy, her soon-to-be-print-published webcomic, as a favorite. Aspiring artists called her an inspiration. She became, over the course of the weekend, an Ignatz Award winner. In the midst of this well-earned celebration, ComicsAlliance sat down with her to talk success, adolescence, and what’s coming next.

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Going All In For Riverdale With Archie Heads Jon Goldwater & Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa [Interview]

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Archie Comics is on the move. Afterlife with Archie, the horror take on the Riverdale gang, garners acclaim wherever it goes -- after an initial “wait, the comics they sell at Stop N’ Shop?” double take, of course. Its sister book, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, promises to take the teen witch to the heights of 1960s-style psychological horror. Lena Dunham, fresh off her book tour, will pen a series for Archie in 2015. The publisher's new imprint, Dark Circle, will revive classic superheroes. Even dear old Riverdale is getting a shakeup, from Archie’s recent death in the Life With Archie series to a recently announced TV show.

Though the gang’s teen shenanigans endure in every checkout line, their universe stretches far beyond the confines of Pep and Pals n’ Gals. As the publisher’s future grows ever more crowded with plans and announcements, ComicsAlliance sat down with CEO Jon Goldwater and chief creative officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa to discuss how they plan to honor their past while building a bold new future.

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Whatever I’m Working On Is The Best Thing I’ve Done: An Interview With ‘Death Note’ Artist Takeshi Obata

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Takeshi Obata is an icon. His work on the horror manga phenomenon Death Note, with writer Tsugumi Ohba, defined horror for a generation of comic fans. The manga Hikaru no Go, with Yumi Hotta, spurred the ancient board game Go to sudden contemporary popularity in 1998. Another Ohba collaboration, Bakuman -- a manga about the creation of manga -- has over 15 million copies in circulation. Obata also illustrated the manga adaptation of All You Need is Kill, a military science fiction light novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka that was recently adapted for the screen as Edge of Tomorrow.

And Obata's art is gorgeous. He handles Gothic triptychs and domestic scenes alike with incredible skill, bringing sociopaths, pop singers and teen artists to vibrant life. I keep copies of Death Note and Bakuman on my shelf of manga for "people who think they don’t like manga," because his work transcends the boundaries of fandom. He is a master, and he isn't even close to being done.

ComicsAlliance was thrilled to have the chance to speak with him at New York Comic Con 2014 about his work, his influences, and international success.

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Be Weird, Be Inventive, Go For It: Talking ‘Dirty Diamonds’ With Editors Claire Folkman & Kelly Phillips [Interview]

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The Dirty Diamonds booth at this year’s Small Press Expo was impossible to miss, both because of its bright signage and because of its eye-catching display of tote bags, zines about Weird Al Yankovic, and, of course, the Dirty Diamonds all-woman anthology.

Brighter still are its co-editors, Claire Folkman and Kelly Phillips, who were among the most ardent lovers of comics in the room -- and with good reason. The Dirty Diamonds anthology series is their passion project, collecting semi-autobiographical comics by women since 2011, and it's enjoyed particular success of late. Their recent Kickstarter was a hit; the Library of Congress singled Dirty Diamonds out for inclusion in its permanent collection; and the contributor list for the latest volume reads like an Ignatz Award nominations list from 2020.

Eager to learn more, ComicsAlliance hunkered down behind their bustling booth to talk the future of crowdfunding, apartments full of books, and just how rad the women of comics really are.

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‘The Legend Of Korra’ Book Four: Kuvira And The Rise Of Fascism

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The premiere episode of The Legend of Korra’s fourth and final season finds the Earth Kingdom navigating choppy waters. In the three years since season 3’s finale, Kuvira has gone from the seemingly content captain of Su Yin’s guard to the “Great Uniter” of a fractured world. She has 90% of the Earth Kingdom under her thumb and, as we learn over the course of the episode, has accomplished this through a campaign of forced labor, manipulation of resources, and a burgeoning cult of personality.

We watch as the governor of Yi, initially committed to independence, is brought to heel by the lawless reality of his state and the temptations of Kuvira’s “generous proposal” of takeover. Idealists like Bolin and Baatar Jr. have joined her cause, as have opportunists like Varrick. Figures of murkily extrajudicial power, like Kai and Opal, urge caution in the face of her might, but by the end of the episode, that’s all they can do—urge caution.

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Batgirl #35: Making Out, Dressing Up, And Defeating The Forces Of Misogyny [Review]

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Barbara Gordon is for girls. This truth has been obscured over the years, most notably in the Batman: The Killing Joke, in which the classic Batgirl was shot, sexually abused and paralyzed by the Joker and taken out of costume for decades. But just as Superman stands for unimpeachable hope and Batman for rigid justice, Batgirl stands for girls doing what the hell they want. From the moment she debuted as part of the classic Batman TV show of the 1960s, this was clear: she was a librarian, she rode a motorcycle decorated with chiffon ruffles, and she did not give a damn that Batman wanted her to hang up the glittery puple cape and cowl. She was no sweet-tempered Kyptonian cousin, no kid sister, and no swooning girlfriend. As Mike Madrid detailed in The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines, “Batgirl is a female Batman can actually regard as a brilliant peer and a partner in the war on crime, the same way he would a male.”

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