It's been a tough eight months or so for Image Comics' Rat Queens, art-wise. Artist John Upchurch was removed from the book last November after he was arrested on domestic abuse charges, and his replacement, Stjepan Sejic, has been fighting illness and was only able to draw two issues in the interim.
A Wednesday announcement from Image indicates that clearer skies are ahead, however, as artist Tess Fowler and colorist Tamra Bonvillain have taken the art reins of the series about a band of plundering adventurers full-time, starting with issue #11 in August. Sejic will remain as cover artist through issue #15. Series co-creator Kurtis J. Wiebe remains in place as writer.
On April 29th, writer Kurtis Wiebe marked his return to horror comics with Pisces, a brand-new series from Image Comics with artist Johnnie Christmas and colors by Tamara Bonvillain. Although I’ve loved all of Wiebe’s work, it was Green Wake, his noir murder-mystery gothic drama with Riley Rossmo, that persuaded me that he was a writer with a natural gift for spinning scary stories, and I’d always hoped he would return to the genre.
After just one issue, it’s clear that Wiebe’s talents for building a terrifying world have grown immensely, and for readers who love surreal, nonlinear narratives, this title should be added to pull lists immediately.
The adventure series Rat Queens from Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch took home the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comic Book at a ceremony in Los Angeles on Saturday. The medieval fantasy series centers on a diverse cast of female adventurers, including lesbian halfling thief Betty.
This year's other nominees were Hawkeye, by Matt Fraction, David Aja, Annie Wu, and Matt Hollingsworth; Lumberjanes, by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen; Memetic, by James Tynion IV and Eryk Donovan; and Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples.
Stjepan Šejic is an artist who's been on the verge of a breakthrough for a while now -- and he's apparently just had two of them back-to-back. Šejic is an excellent artist, remarkably fast, and by all reports very easy to work with, which means he delivers the trifecta for promising talent.
That talent will be put to excellent use on a book in dire need of a great artist; Šejic has been named as the new permanent artist on Rat Queens, the hit fantasy series from writer Kurtis J. Wiebe and Image's Shadowline imprint. This news comes just a couple of weeks after reports that Šejic's creator-owned erotic graphic novel Sunstone received the highest ever advance orders for any book published by Image's Top Cow imprint.
Earlier this week Bleeding Cool reported that Rat Queens artist John Upchurch, who draws under the pen name Roc Upchurch, was arrested in Georgia last month on charges of "Battery - Family Violence." The report sourced a blog post by Upchurch's wife describing the events, one which she later deleted but that is still available in the form of Web cache. Roc Upchurch confirmed the arrest in a statement to Bleeding Cool.
Following questions of what would become of the series, Rat Queens writer and co-creator Kurtis Wiebe announced on his website that in light of the nature of the charges, Upchurch will no longer be drawing the comic, and that Rat Queens will continue with a new artist.
The foul-mouthed, booze-fueled adventurers of Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch's Image Comics series Rat Queens probably wouldn't be welcome on The Disney Channel or Cartoon Network (maybe Adult Swim), but that isn't stopping the Weta Workshop's Pukeko Pictures and the Heavy Metal brand from developing it into an animated series.
The two production companies, which jointly acquired the rights to the series, are hard at work developing a half-hour animated version of the exploits of Betty (thief), Hannah (mage), Dee (cleric) and Violet (fighter). They're planning to pitch it to networks soon.
This week, Chris and Matt are talking at length about Futures End #1 by Brian Azzarello, Keith Giffen, Dan Jurgens, Jeff Lemire and Patrick Zircher, which continues the killing trend set off by the Free Comic Book Day #0 issue. Then they talk about Rat Queens #6 by Kurtis Wiebe and Roc Upchurch and Moon Knight #3 by Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire!
Over the past five issues Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch's Rat Queenshas quickly become one of my favorite comics on the stands. The story of four Dungeons & Dragons-style adventurers who claim to protect the town while actually being the biggest possible threat to the peace is hilarious, brutal and action-packed, and more often than not, it's all three at the same time.
The first story arc, Sass & Sorcery, wrapped up in the fifth issue last week, so to look back on one of the best debuts of the past year, I spoke to Wiebe about the influence of gaming on his storytelling, the character he relates to, and the almost unprintable original title.
On the surface, Image Comics' new series Rat Queens by Peter Panzerfaust writer Kurtis J. Wiebe and artist Roc Upchurch is a traditional, Dungeons and Dragons-style story. It's got a fighter, a mage, a cleric and a thief going into a cave to clear out some goblins. But there's something...different about it. It's got four female lead characters, for one thing. And kind of a punk attitude.
You can check out the first-issue cover, a Fiona Staples variant, and few (partially NSFW) preview pages from the new series, which debuts September 25, after the jump.
Tuesday marked the second annual Image Expo, the banner event where Image Comics announces its slate of upcoming projects for the year to come. Last year's expo featured announcements of a slew of new comics; this year's had a similar abundance of news, so much of it from established Marvel creators that comics creator Phil Hester took it upon himself to (probably jokingly) announce via Twitter that Marvel's creator-owned imprint Icon "is done."
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