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Dream Job: Artist J.H. Williams III Talks ‘Sandman: Overture’ [Interview]

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Among its many other honors, Vertigo’s The Sandman has the distinction of being the portal through which a huge number of readers got their first look at a theretofore mysterious and unseen artifact: an actual comic book script. Available in numerous editions and formats now but Initially published in 1991 as a supplemental feature in the Dream Country paperback, writer Neil Gaiman’s script for the Shakespearean “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” chapter revealed the writer’s deference to his artistic collaborator Charles Vess. Gaiman’s words expressed a deep understanding of comics as a visual medium and Vess’ strengths as a master illustrator, with panel descriptions reading less like mechanical instructions in a script and more like helpful suggestions in a letter. The process, overseen by Sandman editor and Vertigo imprint founder Karen Berger, was a resounding success, winning the issue (#19 in The Sandman’s original run) a World Fantasy Award.

Throughout the history of The Sandman, Gaiman has maintained this close collaboration with artists; always challenging them with his variously dark, funny, intimate and horrific visions, but always building in opportunities for strong storytelling and the delightful idiosyncrasies that define the best comic books and comic book artists. Some of them include P. Craig Russell, Chris Bachalo, Milo Manara, Sam Kieth, Dave McKean, Marc Hempel, Matt Wagner, Jill Thompson and Bill Sienkiewicz. Even the great Japanese illustrator Yoshitaka Amano was drawn to the Sandman’s realm of the Dreaming (albeit not in the form of a comic but an award-winning illustrated novel, The Dream Hunters).

Gaiman understands how much of The Sandman’s -- of all great comic books’ -- power comes from the image, so it was honestly not a surprise to hear that Gaiman’s collaborator for The Sandman: Overture, a 25th anniversary celebration of the enduringly popular series, would be the great JH Williams III. It was, however, a surprise to see just how far Overture exceeded expectations.

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DC Comics And ‘The Normal Course Of Business’

Art by Alex Ross
Art by Alex Ross

It's a rough time to be a fan of DC's comics. The publisher has made so many problematic moves in the past couple of years that the brand is now as strongly associated with disgruntled talent and unhappy readers as it is with iconic characters like Superman and Batman.

In the wake of the inauspicious departure of the Batwoman creative team of J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman, I intended to write something about DC's editorial troubles. I got as far into the opening paragraph as noting, "I have to write quickly because there'll be another fiasco along any minute," before another fiasco came along - the Harley Quinn try-out controversy.

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JH Williams III & W. Haden Blackman Leave ‘Batwoman’ Over Editorial Edicts

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In a posting to JH Williams III's website late Wednesday night, the acclaimed artist and his Batwoman co-writer W. Haden Blackman announced that due to what they described as a preponderance of "eleventh-hour changes" to stories that had been planned a year or more in advance, they're walking off the book. Among the grievances alleged by Williams and Blackman was publisher DC Comics' refusal to allow principal characters Batwoman (aka Kate Kane) and her fiancé Maggie Sawyer to get married.

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Filed Under: , , , Category: DC, News

BEHOLD: Dave McKean’s First ‘Sandman’ Cover In Years And A New ‘Overture’ Page By JH Williams III [SDCC 2013]

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Vertigo's The Sandman prequel by Neil Gaiman and JH Williams III is DC Comics' biggest publishing story of the year, so we can expect more and more items like this Entertainment Weekly piece in which one or two tantalizing images are released over a period of months. Normally this would be kind of annoying, but the truth is it is very good news that Gaiman and Williams are revisiting the early Sandman era and telling the story about what the titular lord of dreams was actually up to before his capture at the start of the classic series, and every teased image will be beautiful -- especially if they happen to be created by classic Sandman cover artist Dave McKean.

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Thinking About Brian Stelfreeze’s ‘Day Men’ And The Reascension Of The Comic Book Artist

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On sale this week from BOOM! Studios is the first issue of Day Men, a new series that introduces readers to the human helping hands of the violent vampire elite who rule the world in secret. Written by Matt Gagnon (Freelancers) and Michael Alan Nelson (Supergirl), Day Men is a cool organized crime-tinged take on the enduringly popular vampire genre, but the major selling point for the series is that it marks the return to monthly comics of one of the American industry’s most talented but elusive artists: Brian Stelfreeze. Does the final product live up to the auspicious occasion? Yes and no, but that it exists at all might be more important.

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Best Art Ever (This Week) – 06.28.13

Best Art Ever 06.28.13

We make a regular practice at ComicsAlliance of spotlighting particular artists or specific bodies of work, but because cartoonists, illustrators and their fans share countless numbers of great images on sites like Flickr, Tumblr, DeviantArt and seemingly infinite art blogs that we’ve created Best Art Ever (This Week), a weekly depository for just some of the pieces of especially compelling artwork that we come across in our regular travels across the Web. Some of it’s new, some of it’s old, some of it’s created by working professionals, some of it’s created by future stars, some of it’s created by talented fans, and some of it’s endearingly silly. All of it’s awesome.

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The ‘Batwoman’ Cover Creation Process Of JH Williams III Finally Revealed

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One of our favorite comic book artists, JH Williams III routinely bewilders us with the always beautiful illustrations and impressive designs he creates for Batwoman, the DC Comics series he also co-writes with W. Haden Blackman that was among our selections of the best comics of 2012. Having had the pleasure of seeing Williams' original art in person at last year's MorrisonCon, I can confirm that all the delicate and precise intricacies of the Batwoman artwork are right there on the page, which for those of us not gifted with drawing talent seems impossible to believe and invites the question: how the hell does he even do that?

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Filed Under: , , Category: Art, DC, Humor, Opinion

Best Art Ever (This Week) – Superman 75th Anniversary Edition

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We make a regular practice at ComicsAlliance of spotlighting particular artists or specific bodies of work, but because cartoonists, illustrators and their fans share countless numbers of great images on sites like Flickr, Tumblr, DeviantArt and seemingly infinite art blogs that we've created Best Art Ever (This Week), a weekly depository for just some of the pieces of especially compelling artwork that we come across in our regular travels across the Web. Some of it's new, some of it's old, some of it's created by working professionals, some of it's created by future stars, some of it's created by talented fans, and some of it's endearingly silly. All of it's awesome. In honor of this year's 75th anniversary of the first appearance of Superman and this weekend's release of Man of Steel, we present for the second time a compilation of some of the coolest portraits of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's brilliant creation that we've highlighted in this feature over the last few years. We know it's cheating but we didn't count on going away for a month and then coming back in the middle of a big media event. All-new next week evermore.

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Landscape-Format ‘Promethea Immateria’ and Morrison’s ‘Animal Man’ Omnibus Among Vertigo Offerings for May 2013 [Solicitations]

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Courtesy of DC Entertainment, ComicsAlliance brings you an advance look at new periodical comic books and collected editions going on sale in May 2013 from the publisher's Vertigo line for mature readers...

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The Hellboy Memorial Awards: ComicsAlliance’s Best Comics of 2012, Part 4

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We didn't realize when we set out to list our favorite comic books of 2012 that it had been such a fun year to be a fan of the medium that we all love so much. The last twelve months offered readers a wide variety of work ranging from the most crowd-pleasing superhero epics to the most idiosyncratic of indies; the return of much missed mangaka and the emergence of exciting new talent; a new crowd-sponsored visibility for self-publishing; and the ascension of the fan artist from bedroom dreamer to Tumblr tycoon...

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