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The Names: Talking High Finance And Bloody Revenge With Peter Milligan [Interview]

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Today sees the release The Names #1 by Peter Milligan and Leandro Fernandez. Published by Vertigo and described as Kill Bill meets The Wolf Of Wall Street, the book tells the story of Katya Walker, a woman who is thrown into a web of financial and technological intrigue after the sudden suicide of her husband -- a suicide that we learn in the first pages of issue #1 was not committed out of despair but at the behest of a man called the Surgeon, working for a world-dominating cabal of financiers known only as the Names. Dubious that her husband would take his own life, Katya's search for the truth takes the reader through a violent, decadent and technologically advanced world of money and power that teaches the young woman not just about the chilling reality of how the world works, but about the role her husband was subtly preparing her to take should the Names ever go too far.

Drawn in a wildly expressive and sexy style by Leandro Fernandez with delicate, mood colors by Cris Peter, The Names is has some aesthetic and narrative similarities to Vertigo's revenge epic 100 Bullets, but with a very contemporary theme obviously inspired by current events such as the Global Economic Crisis and, presumably, the enduringly frustrating fact that its cruel architects have not been brought to justice.

ComicsAlliance sat down with Milligan to talk about the real-world inspiration for The Names, his plans for the project, and to break down some special moments from its first issue.

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Elegant Ennui: Michael Cho Talks ‘Shoplifter’ [Review + Interview]

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Also a contributor to the recent volume of Batman: Black and White, Cho does a very good job with the characterization of his Shoplifter protagonist: grumpy, wry yet oddly affable, and smart. She's both a familiar and refreshing protagonist and serves well as a universal conduit for the emotions and experiences portrayed. I'm usually the first person to shunt the concept of "quit your day job, and do what makes you happy" à la Zen Pencils, Cho's an accomplished enough writer that his presentation of Corinna's decision to pursue her creative passion is more the result of a cumulative desire to change what isn't working for her, an acknowledgement of the problems she's having and possessing the strength and fortitude to realize only she can enforce a difference. She's under no illusions about what the future may bring, but for now, she's done enough to make herself feel better, and hopeful, and that will do.

Shoplifter's a short book -- 90 pages or so, and the concise length serves it well -- there's no flab here, no room for distracted interjections, no complaints. It may be slight, but it's elegantly executed, and I like the fact that Cho didn't feel the need to draw this out, the story's assured and cogent (although spending more time with the character would perhaps leave a greater impact on the reader). Visually, it's as attractive as you'd expect from Cho, alternatively surrounding Corinna with beautiful rendered city and then leaving her swathes of space; she's as lost in one as the other. The rose and black color scheme is a gorgeous combination that does much to imbue the narrative with a sense of warmth and closeness, and also to dispel any notions of otherwise suggested tone. It's rare that you read something so evenly handled yet characterful and uplifting, but Shoplifter manages it.

I chatted to Cho about the new Pantheon book, its themes and the process by which it was created.

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Rachel & Miles X-Plain The X-Men: Special Guest Kurt Busiek Answers For ‘The Phoenix Retcon’

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Welcome back to Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men, a weekly podcast in which X-Perts Rachel Edidin and Miles Stokes explore the ins, outs, and retcons of fifty years of Marvel’s greatest superhero soap opera!

This week: Special guest Kurt Busiek is the J. Rober Oppenheimer of X-Men, Rachel and Miles learn to love the Silver Age, Cyclops gets a job, Bernard the Poet falls from grace, we really wish X-Men: The Secret Years was a real book, everyone recites poetry, and we still don’t get around to Marvels.

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Building A Better Realm: An Interview About Webcomics And Art With Benign Kingdom’s Evan Dahm

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Benign Kingdom fills a niche that lay absurdly open for too long: well designed and curated artbooks from webcomic creators. Somehow, the idea never occurred to me or most anyone for years, despite the absolute cavalcade of talent on display. Who knew Danielle Corsetto, creator of Girls With Slingshots, produced such gorgeous figure drawings? Who knew Yuko Ota, co-creator and artist of Johnny Wander, could fill a page with such whimsy and menace?
One enormously successful Kickstarter later, Benign Kingdom has presented the world with these awesome talents, but also helped demonstrate the viability of self-publishing. ComicsAlliance sought out Evan Dahm, co-founder of the Benign Kingdom project and creator of the webcomic Rice Boy, to discuss a changing industry and their place within it.

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From ‘Peepo Choo’ To ‘Ghost Rider’: The Unusually Cool Career Of Felipe Smith [Interview]

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Felipe Smith lived the dream of a thousand starry-eyed DeviantArtists when, in 2008, his nerd-skewering masterpiece Peepo Choo debuted at Kodansha-owned manga magazine Morning 2. When asked about what went into accomplishing this feat — becoming fluent in Japanese, keeping pace with the manga industry’s rigorous schedule, being an American noticed by the manga industry at all — Smith is all shrugs and smiles. His work spans the globe, he’s completely reinvigorated Marvel’s Ghost Rider, and, as friends pop by his booth, he slides smoothly in and out of the three languages he speaks, but you know, no biggie. Smith takes it all in his stride.

Peepo Choo, a gleefully lurid tale of cultural fetishization, yakuza, teenage boys, and gravure idols, lies far afield from Ghost Rider in terms of content. But Smith’s zingy, earnest voice unites the two works, and it is this voice that makes Smith such an exciting creator with such a tantalizingly unpredictable future. ComicsAlliance sat down with him at San Diego Comic-Con to discuss living and working in Japan, nerd culture around the world, and what Robbie Reyes brings to the superhero table.

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Baby Ducks And Ominous Water Parks: Rachel Connor Talks ‘Regular Show: Hydration’ Graphic Novel [Interview]

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Boom! Studios has found success with a line of Adventure Time original graphic novels that's being published alongside the ongoing monthly comic, so it was only a matter of time before they expanded that strategy to include Regular Show as well. Now, we're just about to see the first full-color Regular Show graphic novel, Hydration, hitting shelves with a story of everyone's favorite raccoon and bluejay dealing with a heat wave that hits the park, sending them in search of a way to cool off. It's a simple idea, but under Rachel Connor and Tessa Stone, it turns into a sprawling adventure that's full of the magical realism and 8-bit video games that Regular Show fans have come to love.

To find out more, I spoke to Connor about the process of creating a story that would be longer and more complicated than any episode of the show, the strange twists that allowed it to expand to a full 155 pages, and why the Baby Ducks just had to make an appearance.

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‘Bee And Puppycat’ Creator Natasha Allegri Talks Art, Anime, Sparkles And Dessert [Exclusive Interview]

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Natasha Allegri is leading a movement. A quiet, earnest, doe-eyed movement to be sure, but one that is unstoppable, and unquestioningly vital. Bee and Puppycat, her already widely beloved series produced for Frederator's Cartoon Hangover channel, is about to relaunch, to widespread fan salivation. Her social media accounts swell with more and more followers every day. Puppycat plushes and inflatable swords were everywhere at San Diego Comic-Con, as was cosplay and fan art.

Allegri's work, in its sincere, unfailingly sweet way, has announced to the world that animation aimed at an adult (or at least teen) female audience is not just viable — it is a verified path to critical and commercial success. ComicsAlliance sat down with her at SDCC to discuss her success, the importance of cuteness, and what we can expect from the new Bee and Puppycat animated series.

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Storytelling, Comedy, Comics, And Film: A Career-Spanning Conversation With Berkeley Breathed

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Ever since Bloom County became a sensation in the early '80s, Berkeley Breathed has had an incredibly varied career. He followed Bloom County's initial success with two more popular comic strips, Outland and Opus; he won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning; he wrote and illustrated best-selling children's books; he adapted his own stories into a pair of animated TV specials, and he provided art for various environmental and animal-wellfare charities.

In recent years he's shifted his primary focus to film (production art and original projects), while also overseeing IDW's comprehensive collected editions of his strips. He recently teamed with IDW again for Berkeleyworks, a retrospective volume collecting a number of his paintings, sketches, and illustrations – and last month, he made a rare convention appearance, playing to a packed room at San Diego Comic-Con. ComicsAlliance spoke with Breathed about his career in cartooning, his work in other media, and his upcoming projects.

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Don’t Draw The Darkness: Scott Snyder On ‘Zero Year: Savage City,’ Part Two [Interview]

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If there's one thing we've learned from our series of in-depth reviews and interviews about Batman: Zero Year, it's that the creative team of Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Danny Miki and FCO Plascencia set out to do a lot more than just re-tell Batman's origin for a modern audience. That might've been the stated goal, but along the way, it became clear that the team wanted to use that bombastic superhero background to tell a story that was incredibly personal, using the trauma that made Bruce Wayne a hero to explore feelings of isolation, fear and, eventually, triumph.

In our final Zero Year interview, Snyder tells us about the interactions with other Batman creators while it was coming out, how he identifies with both Batman and the Riddler, and how much of the story was inspired by his own very personal experiences with overcoming panic and despair.

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Dustin Harbin’s Dinosaur Parade Marches On… And On… And On… In ‘Behold! The Dinosaurs!’ [Interview]

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If there's one we thing we should establish from the off, it's that my love for dinosaurs is infinite. There is something inherently fascinating about this whole world that existed before us, the completeness of it: the sheer array of lumbering aquatic, flying, and terrain beasts that roamed the Earth; their power and size, the wonderful shapes, colours, and variations, the mystery of their total obliteration, the fact that we're still discovering more about them today.

So when I learned that UK publishers Nobrow Press had teamed up with cartoonist and illustrator Dustin Harbin to produce one of their gorgeous leporellos, this time focusing on dinosaurs, my excitement levels were pretty damn high.

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