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Born In A World Of Tragedy: Greg Rucka Reflects On His Batman Work, Part One [Interview]

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To say that Greg Rucka had a profound impact on DC Comics in the 21st Century is underselling things quite a bit. After arriving on the scene in the late '90s, he became one of the few writers to have written all three of DC's biggest characters, with critically acclaimed runs on Action Comics and Wonder Woman. It was on Batman, however, where he made his biggest impact, as one of the writers for the year-long No Man's Land crossover, the relaunched "New Gotham" era of Detective Comics, and cowriter of the enduringly influential Gotham Central.

Today, we begin an in-depth look back at Rucka's tenure on the Dark Knight, starting with No Man's Land, both the comic and its surprisingly popular novelization, in which Gotham City becomes a dark dystopia following a cataclysmic earthquake; his feelings about the core idea of Batman; and his frustrations on seeing the Joker show up in the pages of Superman.

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Hire This Woman: Writer Sarah Vaughn

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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.”

Sarah Vaughn initially started in comics as an artist, working on the webcomic Sparkshooter (full disclosure: she also illustrated one installment of a comic strip I wrote for Bitch Media called Don't Be A Dick). When forced to cut back on drawing for health reasons, Vaughn switched gears to concentrate on writing instead. Her current project is the Image series Alex + Ada, where she is the head writer and co-creator with Jonathan Luna.

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Make The Funny Happen: Conversations With The Cast And Creators Of ‘Teen Titans Go’

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Teen Titans Go is big, loud, and uncompromisingly silly. Recent episodes have included animated puppets, time-traveling with George Washington, and a subplot devoted to Starfire wearing a rubber mask of an old man's face and referring to herself as Jeff.

Nearly every character is voiced by their actor from the original 2003 series, which, paired with Dan Hipp's vivacious art direction, makes for a frantically fun trip down the more ridiculous avenues of childhood. As the second season kicks into high gear, ComicsAlliance spoke to Tara Strong (Raven), Scott Menville (Robin), and Greg Cipes (Beast Boy), and producers Michael Jelenic and Aaron Horvath, about getting the band back together, testing what they can get away with, and keeping things weird.

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Hire This Woman: Writer Cecil Castellucci

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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.”

Cecil Castellucci is a creator of comics, novels, music and film who's probably best known to ComicsAlliance readers for her work with Jim Rugg on The PLAIN Janes graphic novels. Commissioned by DC Comics for its young adult comics line Minx, Castellucci's work earned her the Joe Shuster award for Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Writer. She collaborated with March artist Nate Powell on The Year Of The Beasts, a hybrid prose/graphic novel; her book Odd Duck, with Sara Varon, was nominated for an Eisner award for Best Publication for Early Readers; and is a contributor to DC's new Wonder Woman anthology, Sensation Comics.

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Let The Characters Do The Talking: Terry Moore On ‘Rachel Rising’ And ‘Strangers In Paradise’ [Interview]

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Terry Moore writes almost exclusively about women. He self-publishes his work through Abstract Studios, his independent Houston-based imprint, and he's been doing the kind of stuff that's currently inspiring strurm-und-drang in the comics world ever since the Internet first tied up our phone lines.

Today he works on Rachel Rising, a horror story where a pretty young murdered woman wakes up in a shallow grave and decides to take back her life — or, at least, her afterlife — from the otherworldly forces that wrenched it from her. With work ranging from science fiction (Echo) to epic love story (Strangers in Paradise), and even some superhero experience (Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane), Moore cuts a distinctive creative figure in the industry. ComicsAlliance spoke to him at San Diego Comic-Con to discuss female comedians, stories about underdogs, and the future of self-publishing.

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#ZDARSCON: Live (Pre-Recorded) At Chip Zdarsky’s One-Man Toronto Convention [Interview]

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Chip Zdarsky is clearly his own man. While other comic creators took their places behind their tables at Toronto's Fan Expo comic convention this past weekend, the co-creator of Sex Criminals set up his own independent 'Zdarscon' in a park across the street -- in the shadow of the CN Tower and a short distance from the Blue Jays baseball game at the Rogers Centre. Even his co-author Matt Fraction wasn't invited.

The day started with torrential rain, followed by blazing heat, but Zdarsky was attended at all times by Alex Hoffman, the life model who provides the likeness for his Sex Criminal character Jon. ComicsAlliance found Zdarsky seated on a sun-baked armchair on a wheeled platform, with his recently won Eisner Award bolted to a table. We grabbed five minutes with the writer/artist to ask... why, Chip? Why?

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‘Chilling’ With Sabrina: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Robert Hack Reinvent The Teenage Witch [Interview]

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Few publishers have been willing to take risks and expand their slate like Archie Comics has over the last several years. Once famous for old fashioned Americana, Archie has increased the diversity of its character roster, launched a number of well-received cross-promotions like its series with the band Kiss, welcomed real-world guest stars like Sarah Palin and Barack Obama to Riverdale, revived its line of superhero titles, and most surprisingly (and successfully), branched out into no-holds-barred horror with the smash hit mature-readers zombie title, Afterlife With Archie.

This October, Archie's banking on lightning striking twice when it debuts The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina, a series that places the company's famous "teenage witch" in a world of deep psychological occult horror.

We sat down with the series' creative team of writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Robert Hack to ask some questions about their goals for Sabrina and to talk about how one undertakes such a radical re-envisioning of an established character.

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‘Girl’ Is Not A Personality Type: An Interview With The Creators of ‘Lumberjanes’

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Lumberjanes is many things: paranormal adventure, ode to friendship, celebration of girlhood, viral success, emblem of a changing industry. A lesser book might have crumbled beneath these ambitions and expectations. It very immediately became not just a highly-anticipated comic, but -- for reasons included the fact that it's written, drawn, colored, lettered and edited by women -- an important comic, and that's as promising as it is dangerous. Privately, I had my doubts—it looked interesting, but I've been burned before by important books and I kept my excitement at a low simmer.

But five issues into the Brooke Allen-drawn series, Boom! Studios/Boom! Box's Lumberjanes has firmly established itself as one of the cleverest, most good-natured comics on the market. The story of a delightfully plucky troop of wilderness girl scouts (not to be confused with the Girl Scouts) and the variously hilarious and supernatural adventures they get into at summer camp, the book is buoyed by the emotions and friendships of early adolescence, and can be enjoyed by neophytes and collectors alike—including, happily, young girls. It is never didactic or (most crucially) boring, and it balances character focus and plot extremely well.It is, simply and uncommonly, fun.

ComicsAlliance sat down with creators Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Shannon Watters to discuss Disney movies, comics on Tumblr, and what's coming next for our favorite hardcore lady-types.

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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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