Comics carry a sense of physical prestige. When you pick one up from the shelf, it usually isn’t just lying there, blowing in the wind – it’s often wrapped up in a too-tight plastic bag, boarded with a thin piece of cardboard to ensure you don’t crease a single hair on Superman’s immaculate head. The experience is designed to make you consider each comic as a precious item, something best kept mint so you can sell it and get your grandkids through college in a few decades from now.
The thing is, sometimes we need to be reminded that comics are not immaculate, and actually there’s no reason not to mess them up a little in the course of reading. Some of the most enjoyable moments in comics over the last few years have been those moment where the storytellers step back, wave an arm towards the story they’re telling, and say, “Hey, let’s take a pair of scissors to this, eh?”
A few years ago, around the time that Matt Smith was gearing up to replace David Tennant, I briefly made an attempt to get into Doctor Who. Sadly, it didn't really take -- as much as I liked reading stuff about the show, and as much fun as I had with bits and pieces of it, the show never really hooked me the way that it did my friends, and I ended up being quite possibly the only person in the world who liked Doctor Who Magazine more than Doctor Who.
Last week, though, it all clicked into place with the release of Fred Van Lente, Clayton Henry, and Brian Reber's Ivar, Timewalker #1 and its story of time-spanning action and underlying mystery. Basically, this was the version of Doctor Who that I actually wanted.
I've been a fan of Fred Van Lente's comics work for almost ten years now, and the one thing that I love more than anything else about his work is that every time he starts up a new series, it almost always feels like something completely different. You can draw parallels between books like Incredible Hercules and Archer & Armstrong, of course, but neither one of those feels quite the same as G.I. Joe or Taskmaster. The one thing that really unites them, and the one thing that comes through pretty clearly if you ever interview that that guy about his work, is that there's a lot of research that goes into everything he writes, and it's research that comes through in very strange ways.
Case in point: Resurrectionists, a new ongoing Dark Horse series from Van Lente, Maurizio Rosenzweig and Moreno Dinisio that provides a pretty amazing vehicle for delivering that research directly to the reader, and does it with one of the biggest, weirdest high concepts I've seen in a long time.
Listen, folks: I was already on board for what James Asmus, Fred Van Lente and Kano were doing in the pages of The Delinquents from the moment that I found out it was a superhero team-up about going on a quest for hobo treasure. That is literally the only thing I needed to know before I decided to read it. But then the writers went one better by giving the third issue what may actually be the single best opening line of all time.
Seriously, if you have read a comic that starts out with a better piece of dialogue than "Well first off, what makes you so sure your sugar daddy was behind that ass menagerie?" I would like to read it, and I am not even close to kidding.
In January 2015, Valiant plans to expand its line with a wave of new series, including an ongoing Ivar, Timewalker title from the acclaimed team behind the new Archer & Armstrong book, Fred Van Lente and Clayton Henry.
Ivar was created by Barry Windsor-Smith as a supporting cast member in the 1990s Archer & Armstrong series, the third part of Valiant's "immortal trio" along with Armstrong and The Eternal Warrior. Ivar made his debut in the new Valiant Universe in the opening pages of Van Lente & Henry's Archer & Armstrong #1, as a schemer whose plans gave all three brothers the power of immortality -- and destroyed an entire world in the process. As the new series begins, Ivar has made his way to the present day, hoping to atone for his wrongs and keep the past, present, and future from colliding. We spoke to Fred Van Lente to learn more about his plans for the series.
About a decade after the formation of the Comics Code Authority in 1954 effectively killed off EC Comics' popular line of horror comics, Warren Publishing aimed to bring back some of that malevolent magic. The result was the anthology series Creepy (and later, its sister book, Eerie). Published as a black-and-white magazine, the series didn't have to adhere to the Comics Code's strict content standards, and as such, was able to push the envelope in ways comics in the mid-1960s generally couldn't.
Now, the book's current publisher, Dark Horse, is celebrating the magazine's 50th anniversary with a big, blowout issue featuring work by Fred Van Lente, Corinna Bechko, Dustin Nguyen, Peter Bagge, Alison Sampson, and Art Baltazar, among others.
Jack Kirby is very probably the single most influential figure in the history of American comics. He produced countless stories in a career that spanned seven decades, inventing and re-inventing genres and styles every step of the way. He inspired generations of artists and writers; created and co-created thousands of characters; defined the visual vocabulary of superheroes; and believed in the potential of comics to be both entertainment and art, long before most people imagined these stories would be remembered past the four weeks that they sat on newsstands.
This week would have been Kirby’s 97th birthday, so to celebrate, we asked some of our favorite creators and other comic pros to contribute their impressions of his characters, life, and legacy – and the response has been overwhelming. Yesterday, we posted the first set of these all-star tributes, and here's the second, even more expansive selection!
Ever since they were relaunched by Valiant Entertainment, Archer and Armstrong and Quantum and Woody have been two of my favorite books on the market, and it's no stretch to say that it's because they take a very similar approach to a classic superhero trope. They're both the stories of mismatched pairs, buddy comedies that throw in strange conspiracies, bizarre mysteries and wanton destruction into a blender and end up with a smoothie made of highly enjoyable comics. So naturally, it was only a matter of time before they joined forces to form a mismatched pair of mismatched pairs, which is exactly what happens in this week's first issue of The Delinquents.
And as you might expect, it gets pretty weird. Like, "mysterious treasure map made from the skin of a hobo's ass" weird.
Q: G.I. Joe: Where do I even begin with their myriad continuities? -- @Eric_R_Wilson
A: I've spent the past few weeks catching up on recent G.I. Joe comics with a stack of paperbacks that I picked up at HeroesCon, and while I've been really interested in seeing all the changes and new characters that set the IDW books apart from the original Marvel series, I'm still pretty surprised by this question. I mean, yes, there's a lot of G.I. Joe out there and a lot of different takes on that core idea, but when you get right down to it, it's no more complicated than your average superhero comic.
Which is to say that it's actually very complicated. Especially when the ninjas start getting involved.
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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