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From Under Mountains: Marian Churchland, Claire Gibson and Sloan Leong Subvert Clichés With A New Fantasy Adventure

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There will be magic in From Under Mountains, an ongoing fantasy series coming from Image in 2015 and announced at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Set in the world of Akhara, the story introduces us to a lord's daughter, a disgraced knight, and a runaway thief whose unlikely partnership will change the course of a world locked in a bitter conflict between rival clans. There will be goblins and witches and knights as well, lost in the churning of a world in turmoil. Great houses will square off for power. Thieves will dash into the shadows. Naïve youths will learn that the world is vaster and more terrible than they ever imagined. In these warm, well-worn ways, it will embrace the best that fantasy, as a genre has to offer: sweeping scope grounded in the lives of heroes, villains, and everything in between.

Creators Marian Churchland, Claire Gibson, and Sloane Leong have worked on everything from Elephantmen to magical girl comics about anthropomorphic wolves, and they are bringing their varied experience to bear upon From Under Mountains and the fantasy genre in ways both familiar and innovative. ComicsAlliance talked with them to discuss breaking new ground with thoughtfulness, experience, and memories of Ursula Le Guin.

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Hire This Woman: Artist Robin Robinson

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In the overwhelmingly male comic book industry, it has been a challenge for some editors and readers to see the ever growing number of talented women currently trying to make a name for themselves. With that in mind, ComicsAlliance offers Hire This Woman, a recurring feature designed for comics readers as well as editors and other professionals, where we shine the spotlight on a female comics pro on the ascendance. Some of these women will be at the very beginning of their careers, while others will be more experienced but not yet “household names.”

Cartoonist Robin Robinson writes and draws her own comics, including the currently ongoing webcomic Ushala at World's End. In addition to her work in comics, she's also an experienced picture book and middle grade book illustrator and sells prints on Etsy.

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Actor-Turned-Author Evangeline Lilly Spins A Spooky Illustrated Story For Kids With ‘The Squickerwonkers’ [Interview]

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Evangeline Lilly is a familiar name to sci-fi and genre fans – she broke into Hollywood's major leagues playing Kate Austen in Lost, she was the female lead in 2011's supremely fun Rocky-meets-Rock 'Em Sock 'Em flick Real Steel, and most recently, she's risen to new heights of fame for her role as elven warrior Tauriel in Peter Jackson's Hobbit films.

But while she's best known for on-camera appearances, acting is merely one of facet of her creative impulse. Lilly's first authorial effort is premiering at San Diego Comic-Con this week: a creepy crawly children's picture book entitled The Squickerwonkers, that tells a story-in-verse of a terrible child and the puppet people she encounters and antagonizes. It's a quick and delightfully dark read, illustrated in at once unsettling and beautiful fashion by WETA designer Johnny Fraser-Allen – and thanks to the fine folks at Titan Books, we recently had the opportunity to speak with Lilly about the long and convoluted path that this tale has taken on the road to publication.

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Hire This Woman: Writer Erica Schultz

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In the overwhelmingly male comic book industry, it has been a challenge for some editors and readers to see the ever growing number of talented women currently trying to make a name for themselves. With that in mind, ComicsAlliance offers Hire This Woman, a recurring feature designed for comics readers as well as editors and other professionals, where we shine the spotlight on a female comics pro on the ascendance. Some of these women will be at the very beginning of their careers, while others will be more experienced but not yet “household names.”

Writer Erica Schultz has worked on her creator-owned crime comic, M3, as well as The Unauthorized Biography of Winston Churchill: A Documentary with previous Hire This Woman featured artist Claire Connelly. Next up she has Revenge: The Secret Origin of Emily Thorne coming out for Marvel and ABC Studios, which readers can see a preview of at San Diego Comic-Con next week.

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You Don’t Want Your Mom Around During Your Male Power Fantasy: Gene Yang Talks ‘The Shadow Hero’ [Interview]

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Even though it only came out today from First Second, Gene Yang and Sonny Liew's The Shadow Hero is already one of my favorite graphic novels of the year. Through their revival of an obscure Golden Age character called the Green Turtle, Yang and Liew have gone back to tell a story about one of the forgotten heroes of the first wave of American comics, blending a story full of action and adventure with rumors about the true motivations behind what may have been the first Asian-American superhero.

To find out more, I spoke to Yang about how he discovered the Green Turtle, what he hopes comes out of his work on a public domain character, and why he focused on the Green Turtle's relationship with his mom.

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Lady Killer: Joëlle Jones’ New Project Finds The Happy Medium Between Homemaking and Homicide

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Some of the stories Americans love most are those that put the lie to our prevailing visions of ourselves. The work of David Lynch, who peels back the the saccharine layers of suburbia to reveal unspeakable horrors within; Mad Men, with its systematic deconstruction of everything we think we believe about success in this country; and Breaking Bad, which shows us how even the most seemingly wholesome members of society can be monsters waiting to break free.

If you think all that sounds well and good but probably a little too stuffy, Josie Schuller would probably agree with you. Josie is a young housewife living post-war America. She sells makeup door-to-door, she takes care of her twin kids and the family dog, she makes dinner for her husband, and she suffers her endlessly disapproving mother-in-law. That is, when she's not murdering people in astonishingly violent ways.

Josie's a highly trained assassin, and the paradox that is her life comes courtesy of cartoonist Joélle Jones and co-writer Jamie S. Rich, whose new Dark Horse series Lady Killer invites readers into a weirdly alluring story that follows a grand tradition of subverting Americana, but with a uniquely wicked, black comedy twist and what Josie might even say is a woman's touch.

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Walking Into The Worst Days: Jen Van Meter Talks ‘The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage’

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Valiant Comics is well into its Valiant First initiative, a months-long event in which the company debuts a slew of #1 issues. The event ends with a bang in September, with the debut of The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage by writer Jen Van Meter and artist Roberto De La Torre.

The premise of the new series is somewhat similar to The Second Life of Doctor Mirage, the 1993 series that featured the title character and his wife solving supernatural mysteries. This new version has ghostly sleuthing in it, too, but the 2014 Doctor Mirage is definitely not the same character. Dr. Shen Fong is a highly skilled professional working through some personal demons of her own. We sat down with Van Meter for a long chat about her approach to the book. Also, Nazi wizards.

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Unrepentant Evil Bastards: Writer Paul Allor Reveals The Secret History of Cobra In ‘G.I. Joe’ [Interview]

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When Paul Allor's "secret history of Cobra" story was first announced by G.I. Joe comics publisher IDW, I immediately took notice. The idea of a long history for Cobra that would see ninja and pirate versions of Cobra Commander was something so amazing that I was shocked it had never been done before. It turned out, however, that this long history was only a part of what Allor would get to do, moving from that complicated secret history into a lean, thrilling adventure for the G.I Joe team.

Now, with Allor's run alongside artists Steve Kurth, Alex Cal, S.L. Gallant, Shawn Lee, Robert Atkins and Chris Evenhuis being collected this week in a paperback called G.I. Joe: Siren Song, we spoke to Allor to find out about how much of Cobra Commander's secret history was true, why he built the story around a mother trying to save her child, and just what it was about Big Boa that needed a comeback.

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Hire This Woman: Cartoonist And Letterer Aubrey Aiese

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In the overwhelmingly male comic book industry, it has been a challenge for some editors and readers to see the ever growing number of talented women currently trying to make a name for themselves. With that in mind, ComicsAlliance offers Hire This Woman, a recurring feature designed for comics readers as well as editors and other professionals, where we shine the spotlight on a female comics pro on the ascendance. Some of these women will be at the very beginning of their careers, while others will be more experienced but not yet “household names.”

Illustrator Aubrey Aiese is the letterer of beloved new series Lumberjanes as well as some of the Adventure Time comics and graphic novels from Boom! Studios. She's also an artist who has made her own mini-comics and co-writing a comic with Zachary Sterling.

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Aw Yeah Everything! Art Baltazar & Franco Discuss Expanding Their All-Ages Comics Empire [Interview]

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After spending decades trying to prove that comics "aren't just for kids anymore", the last few years have seen a number of creators and publishers making a concentrated push to bring younger readers back into the industry and create titles that appeal a wide spectrum of audiences. Art Baltazar and Franco are on the forefront of this movement. They're a pair of artists and writers with distinct styles that combine to convey a single, unmistakable, irresistible persona: the "Baltazar/Franco" name is an automatic seal of approval for kids and parents alike.

Tiny Titans ran for 50 issues (plus a three-issue miniseries that co-starred Little Archie), and in the two-and-a-half years since that title wrapped up, Baltazar and Franco have been insanely prolific, producing the 12-issue follow-up series Superman Family Adventures for DC, the Itty Bitty Hellboy limited series for Dark Horse, the Lil' Battlestar Galactica one-shot for Dynamite, the Captain Action Cat title for Dark Horse and Dynamite, drawn innumerable covers for various publishers, and published more than a half-dozen issues of their own crowdfunded original ongoing series, Aw Yeah Comics. The duo have also founded the Aw Yeah Comics! comic shop in Illinois, and partnered with Mark Waid on a second comic shop in Indiana.

And in the midst of all this hubbub, they took some time out to speak with ComicsAlliance about their brand new Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse limited series and talk about their other projects – past, present, and future.

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