If you've ready any of writer/artist David Petersen's Mouse Guard comics from Archaia, you may recall a handful of scenes in which the mice play a game called 'Swords And Strongholds.' It sounds a little bit like chess and looks a little bit like the Chinese game Go, but there are cards involved.
As it turns out, Petersen didn't really have any rules in mind for the game when he dreamed it up for the comics, so he asked the creator of Burning Wheel and the Mouse Guard RPG, game maker Luke Crane, to come up with some. He did, Petersen designed a board, and they've gone to Kickstarter to get some funding for a limited run. Just a few days in, it's already funded at $18,000, so if you contribute $30, you're guaranteed a game.
Terrifyingly, it's just a few weeks until Comic-Con International annexes most of downtown San Diego and with it, our souls. But with a new comics convention comes a new offering of exclusive stuff from BOOM! Studios. The publisher of the Adventure Time line of comics as well Lumberjanes and Bee and Puppycat and others is known among rarities collectors for its convention-only releases, and they'll be back at their booth with more at this year's San Diego Comic-Con. Check out the company's latest assortment of exclusives below, including the hardcover Mathematical Edition of Adventure Time: Marceline and the Scream Queens.
A 1968 script by Jim Henson and longtime collaborator Jerry Juhl is finally being produced, as a TV special and as a brand new graphic novel by Snarked, Popeye and The Muppets cartoonist Roger Langridge.
Archaia will publish the Thanksgiving themed graphic novel The Magical Monsters of Turkey Hollow in October, which means the project has a real Henson pedigree. Not only has Langridge produced acclaimed Muppets comics for Archaia parent Boom! Studios, but the graphic novel that really put Archaia on the map in 2011 was Tale of Sand, an adaptation of another unproduced Henson/Juhl script.
As I scrolled through all 356 pages of Selected Ambient Works: 11-13, a free PDF download compiling tons of sketches, fan art, comic book pages and finished illustrations by Giannis Milonogiannis, creator of Archaia's Old City Blues and contributing artist to Image's Prophet, I thought to myself, "Is Milonogiannis a retrofuturist? Is he doing with the 1980s and cyberpunk what Dean Motter did with the 1930s and noir?"
The first chapter of cyberpunk cop drama Old City Blues vol. 2 opens with a quote from Joe Keatinge -- the writer of Glory, Morbius and Hell Yeah, and one of the editors of the Eisner-winning “graphic mixtape” comics anthology PopGun -- in which he declares cartoonist Giannis Milonogiannis’ work to be “the world comics style prophesied by Paul Pope fully realized.” Keatinge is referencing Pope’s frequently espoused creative ideal that sees comic book authors draw inspiration from a multitude of works and cultures beyond their immediate experience, with a view towards creating “21st century comics... which can speak to people everywhere.”
That’s extremely high praise for Milonogiannis, who’s still a newcomer (he's also drawn several issues of Prophet), but Keatinge knows what he’s talking about when it comes to comic book art, particularly that from the studios of Europe and Japan. After reading Milonogiannis’ work -- which is a seductive, moody synthesis of the characterization, action, pacing and drawing styles from eurocomics, manga and American influences -- it’s very easy to see why Keatinge was reminded of Pope’s world comics “prophecy” by the pages of Old City Blues.
But if this young cartoonist’s embodiment of the progressive creative philosophy of one of our mediums great masters doesn’t really impress you, that’s fine. The riveting future-cop yarns of Old City Blues surely will.
Following a run of single issue releases this past spring and summer, Archaia's modern adaptation of Shotaro Ishinomori'sclassic Cyborg 009is set to get collected hardcover style on September 11. Written by F.J. DeSanto (The Spirit, Immortals: Gods and Heroes) and Bradley Cramp (Gattaca, Lord of War) and featuring the artwork of illustrator Marcus To (Batwing,Red Robin) and colorist Ian Herring (Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand), the 120 page hardcover works to retain the spirit and central concepts of Ishinomori's original narrative about a team of humans turned into agents of war against their will, with contemporary touches. The HC itself even comes dressed with an acetate dust jacket and layered cover art to let readers peel their way through its titular hero to (literally) see just what makes the character tick.
An Aurora Grimeon Story: Will o' the Wisp is the first in a presumed series of original graphic novels starring a charismatic and curious teenage heroine who should appeal to fans of Locke & Key, Courtney Crummin, the films of Tim Burton, the stories of Neil Gaiman, and other works of contemporary spookiness in which plucky young women find themselves in the center of a ghostly goings-on in mysterious locales. That's auspicious company for first-time graphic novelists Tom Hammock and Megan Hutchison, but their 200-page book about a young orphan who goes to live with her elderly, thanatologist grandfather in the supernatural swamps of Louisiana demonstrates a real gift for the kind if creepy yet quaint tone and straightforward storytelling that characterizes those works.
The Archaia book will be available for pre-order at finer comics shops starting tomorrow, but I had a chance to read a big chunk of Aurora Grimeon in advance and thought you should check it out. Below you'll find a handful of pages from the new graphic novel, published here for the very first time.
When it comes to San Diego Comic-Con, every publisher approaches the show a little bit differently. Whether they house cosplay contests, interactive displays, photo ops with talent, creator signings and/or a whole lot of purchasable product, SDCC booths are an opportunity for the publishers that can attend to make a big impression on one of the most attended pop culture gatherings of the year. You can get a sampling of what publishers like Marvel, DC, Archie, Boom!, IDW, 2000 AD, Dark Horse, Image, Fantagraphics, Oni and others were up to on the show floor of this year's SDCC after the cut.
Written and lavishly illustrated by David Petersen, Mouse Guard follows the adventures of an elite association of mice sworn to protect a kind of medieval mouse kingdom from threats both foreign (like weasels, snakes, and other predators) and domestic (like traitors!). The story is as harrowing as it is charming, among the most consistently executed, high quality American series published today, and has earned numerous awards and nominations in comics and the book trade.
After years of waiting, those of us who digest Mouse Guard in its luxurious hardcover form will finally have the answer to a mystery that's lingered since the first volume went on sale in 2008: the origin of the Black Axe.
Last week comic book publisher BOOM! Studios announced it had acquired Archaia Entertainment with a view to positioning the company behind award-winning books like David Petersen’s Mouse Guard and the Jim Henson’s A Tale of Sand by Ramón Pérez as a fully functioning imprint, with Archaia’s staff and corporate culture intact. It was good news for both Los Angeles-based publishers, but not necessarily for the reasons many industry insiders assumed. In their first joint interview since the news broke, both company’s Editors-in-Chief Matt Gagnon and Stephen Christy told ComicsAlliance how the merger came to be, why it made sense to them from a number of angles, and what readers and professionals can expect from the new union -- not only with respect to the publishing line, but to creator deals and broader media as well.
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