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I Like Bats: Producer Michael Uslan Remembers Batman ’89 And The Alternate Films That Could Have Been [Interview]

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Michael Uslan's name might not be known to most comic book fans, but he is probably one of the most important figures in the cinematic history of superheroes. He obtained the film rights to Batman in the late 1970s, spent ten years fighting to bring a project to fruition, and since the completion of Batman '89 twenty-five years ago has been credited as producer or executive producer on every major cinematic Bat-project since (including Batman: The Animated Series, Mask Of The Phantasm, the Christopher Nolan trilogy of Dark Knight blockbusters, and the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice film). He's a life-long comic fan, a pop-cultural historian, a conversationalist, and an author (his memoir, The Boy Who Loved Batman, is an essential read for anyone interested in comics and comic-influenced media).

As the man largely responsible for Batman '89 existing at all, there's no person better suited to tell not just the story of the film's production, but the long and winding path the project had taken over the preceding decade on its way to success. But besides the unusual story behind Uslan's relationship with the Dark Knight on film, the producer told us about his broader goals for Batman and comic books in general, which went far beyond simply making a successful motion picture.

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James Stokoe Talks ‘Avengers 100th Anniversary Special’ And The Next 50 Years Of Comics [Interview + Exclusive Art]

Avengers 100th Anniversary Special, Marvel Comics

As you may have noticed from all our recent Batman '89 content, comic books are pretty big on celebrating anniversaries. There's only one problem: You sort of need to wait for those anniversaries to actually happen, and we as readers have never been all that great with the concept of patience. I mean, does anyone really want to wait around until the 2060s to celebrate the centennial of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's Marvel Age of Comics?

Marvel Comics certainly doesn't, which is why they're gearing up for a series of 100th Anniversary Specials, set to be released next month -- 50 years before those anniversaries actually happen. For the Avengers, Marvel's tapped Orc Stain and Wonton Soup cartoonist James Stokoe to reveal the future of Earth's Mightiest Heroes.

Today, we've got an exclusive look at Stokoe's characteristically frenzied, hyper-detailed pages from the upcoming one-shot special, which includes such compellingly weird concepts as an Avengers team made up of Beta Ray Bill, Rogue and Doctor Strange; a sentient Stark Tower; an America lost to the Negative Zone; and the Mole Man -- because the Mole Man has always been weird enough. We spoke to Stokoe about why he chose the heroes and villains to populate the Avengers of 2061, and what he sees for comics as a business in the next 50 years.

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Hire This Woman: Letterer Kuen Tang

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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.”

Kuen Tang has been a busy activist since becoming a quadriplegic in 2001, including work with organizations like the Canadian Paraplegic Association, filming documentaries with Oprah Winfrey Network Canada, and teaching courses on any number of subjects. In between all of that, she's discovered a passion for lettering comics and has worked on comics for Zuda and as a staff letterer for Affinity Press. She's also an artist and a writer.

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‘King Kirby’ Takes The Stage: Fred Van Lente On His New Play About Jack Kirby’s Life [Interview]

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Jack Kirby is considered by many to be the single most influential figure in the development of American comics. He defined the parameters of superhero artwork in the 1940s, he helped invent romance comics in the 1950s, he was one of the primary architects of the Marvel Universe in the 1960s, he brought a sweeping cosmic sensibility to DC in the 1970s, and he played a vital role in the independent publisher boom of the 1980s. Kirby was astoundingly prolific, drawing thousands of pages and covers in a career that spanned seven decades, and created or co-created many of the world's most memorable and popular characters: The Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, the Wasp, Ant-Man, the X-Men, Black Panther, the Silver Surfer, Galactus, the New Gods, Nick Fury, the Avengers, and countless others.

Theatre-goers in New York City will learn about the man behind those iconic creations when the new play King Kirby has its world-premiere engagement as part of the Comic Book Theater Festival in Brooklyn, starting June 20 and running through June 29. We spoke to playwright (and acclaimed comic writer) Fred Van Lente about the roots of the show, and his motivation in adapting Kirby's life for the stage.

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The Wicked + The Divine: The Entire Creative Team Talks Story, Art, Design, Color, Letters + Music [Interview]

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The creative team of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie first made their mark with the 2006 Image Comics release Phonogram: Rue Britannia, a thrilling and thoughtful story about magic, music, modern sorcery, and how the records we listen to affect our lives and identities. The series combined cultural touchstones and urban fantasy trappings in a way that captured the imagination of critics and readers, and its success ultimately led to Gillen and McKelvie becoming separately and together some of comics' most fan-favorite creators on books like Journey Into Mystery, X-Men Season One, Suburban Glamour, a second series of Phonogram, and their rmuch-lauded collaboration on the recently concluded reinvention of Young Avengers.

This week, they're releasing the debut issue of their latest (and most ambitious) project: The Wicked + The Divine, an ongoing series from Image that blends together many of their favorite subjects: youthful reinvention, manifest deities, supernatural superpowers, and, of course, the transformative power of pop music. The first issue is both intriguing and exhilarating, depicting the adventure of a superfan as she rubs elbows with ancient gods who return every ninety years, this time in the form of gorgeous young people who become 21st century celebrities. At once sublimely understated and action-packed, the first issue grabs you instantly and leaves you anxious to read more.

ComicsAlliance connected with the entire W+D creative team of Gillen and McKelvie; designer Hannah Donovan; letterer Clayton Cowles; and colo(u)rist Matt Wilson for an in-depth conversation about the story they're telling, their collaborative process, and the artistic and cultural inspirations for the series. Along the way, we're revealing some previously unseen behind-the-scenes materials and an exclusive previews of The Wicked + The Divine #2.

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Hire This Woman: Writer Nadja Baer

From 'Impure Blood' by Nadja Baer and Nathan Lueth
From 'Impure Blood' by Nadja Baer and Nathan Lueth

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.”

Nadja Baer has adapted multiple written works into comics format, including an adaptation of the U.S. Constitution. She's currently working on two very different things: an ongoing webcomic called Impure and a law degree! She also appeared on the Hire This Woman panel at Denver Comic-Con.

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ReedPOP Goes In-Depth On Plans For New York Super Week [Interview]

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Last week, ReedPOP (the company behind New York Comic Con) announced that it would present an event called "New York Super Week" in October -- a ten-day festival of pop media events at venues all over Manhattan and Brooklyn. And while the initial press release was full of hype and excitement, and contained a few intriguing tastes of planned events (Neil DeGrasse Tyson! Podcasts! Concerts!), the announcement came with very little information. There was no language about pricing, ticketing, or other logistics. The just-launched Super Week website contains links to forms so retailers and restaurants/bars can sign up to offer special promotions in association with the festival, as well as a submission form for organizations and individuals to propose events -- but again, concrete details were light on the ground.

As might be expected, this has led to a variety of reactions from the comic and entertainment community. Many welcomed the idea of an expanded event, unbound by the confines of a convention center, while other conversations on websites and social media expressed skepticism about the motivation for crowd-sourcing venues and events, and commented that it seemed like an attempt for ReedPOP to monetize satellite events not actually organized by the company.

ComicsAlliance reached out to Matthew Wasowski, the Festival Director of Super Week, to ask for clarification on some of these issues, and get answers to a few of the questions that have arisen.

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I Was The Cat: Paul Tobin On Ghostwriting, Audrey Hepburn And The Sinister History Of Despotic Kitties [Interview]

I Was The Cat by Paul Tobin and Benjamin Dewey

In the pages of Paul Tobin and Benjamin Dewey's I Was The Cat -- a new graphic novel serialized weekly on ComiXology -- a young journalist is hired to ghostwrite the memoirs of an eccentric billionaire named Burma. The trouble, as you may have already guessed from the title, is that Burma is a cat -- specifically, a talking cat who has spent his last eight lives attempting to conquer the world. It's a great premise, but what Tobin and Dewey are doing in their story is interesting not just for bizarre feline histories, but for how dark and sinister a fluffy kitty who spends most of his time on-panel being petted by the other lead characters can actually be.

To find out more, we spoke to Tobin about the origins of the story, why you don't have to like cats to enjoy it, and the amount of research that he thinks a writer should be doing in order to create a proper history.

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Hire This Woman: Artist Jamie Kinosian

Mass Effect Group

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.”

Jamie Kinosian is a comic artist and watercolor illustrator who has worked on character designs, mini-comics, and webcomics. She's also currently putting together Hot Cakes, an anthology of pornographic illustrations all created by women.

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Tanpopo: Camilla d’Errico Draws A Beautiful Line Between Pop Surrealism, Classic Literature and Sailor Moon [Interview]

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My college dorm room was a dizzying collage of prints, posters, and postcards — but nothing drew as much attention as the Camilla d’Errico pieces I had pinned up over my bed. People would peer at them, asking who drew these strange portraits of girls entwined with pythons, wearing huge, complicated helmets, and melting into candy-colored puddles. Every time, I’d wish that I had something discrete to point them towards, something that gathered the style and themes of d’Errico’s work into a coherent package.

Enter Tanpopo. Originally self-published, d’Errico’s passion project tells the story of the titular Tanpopo, a brilliant, yet emotionless girl, and Kuro, the devil who persuades her into a journey of self-discovery. The text is taken entirely from the work of such luminaries as Goethe, Coleridge, and Pu Sungling: in the first volume, excerpts from Faust explore Tanpopo and Kuro’s meeting, while text from Rime of the Ancient Mariner chart the former’s growing distrust of the latter. Tanpopo’s 170-page second volume, on sale now from BOOM! Studios, uses Shakespeare, Poe, and the 1001 Arabian Nights to similar effect.

To explore this unique work more deeply, ComicsAlliance spoke with d’Errico about pop surrealism, teenage girls, and more.

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