I’m running a small experiment. Would you please take a few seconds to fill in this quick poll?
What new comics coming out this week are you most excited about? You can select up to three.
I will publish the results tomorrow. Thanks!
In Dark Horse Presents #4 (November 2014), publisher and editor Mike Richardson writes:
Comics in the 21st century
For those of us who love comics, this is an exciting time. Our homegrown industry (yes, comics is one of the few original American art forms) is enjoying newfound success. While the traditional comic book may have seen its sales dwindle over the last few decades, we now seem to be experiencing a reversal in that trend at the same time that graphic novels have become more popular than ever. What’s more, the industry has enjoyed a marked increase in the number of its distribution channels, with digital comics leading the way: sales as high as $90 million were reported in 2013. The New York Times has speculated that digital distribution may, in fact, be bringing customers into bookstores rather than siphoning them away. According to Publishers Weekly, sales of comic books and graphic novels generated $870 million last year, the biggest number since 1993. Finally, comics are being noticed as never before, not just in this country, but around the world. September was Comic Book Month in faraway Auckland, with libraries throughout New Zealand taking part. Expanded distribution and availability, a new literacy in the form, and a growing respect for comic books in general are all adding up to a great future for our beloved four-colour medium.
Sales are healthy, and that’s great. I just hope this means we aren’t headed for another crash.
Unlike the early 90s, there is a more quality, creativity and variety in books today. And, yes, Marvel and DC aren’t playing the exact same game when it comes to boosting single copy sales. But it’s arguable whether malaise among longtime readers of mainstream hero books is also on the rise fed by the tricks of those two publishers.
(I haven’t read Death of Wolverine, but I hear Logan is already coming back – even if Wolverine is not, technically, at least for now…)
Rubicon (Archaia) sounds pretty cool and has a good pedigree.
The story is by Oscar-winning screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie and a founding member of SEAL Team 6, Dan Capel. It’s written by best-selling author, Mark Long.
Here is the solicit blurb:
Five paramilitary Navy SEAL operators defend a remote farming villiage in Afghanistan from marauding Taliban attacks. Led by the war-weary Hector, the operators and villagers form mutual bonds of honor and respect leading up to a climactic battle where the “Lions of Panjshir” are desperately outnumbered. Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai reimagined through the lens of the Afghanistan War.
The preview pages available on the book’s Tumblr are pretty intense.
I’m republishing here a Q&A with Long that you can also read on PreviewsWorld and I wanted to share.
I think I’m going to buy this book.
PREVIEWSworld: How did you get the idea for the Rubicon graphic novel? How did the project come about?
Mark Long: Dan [Capel] and I were searching for a project to do together. We were in LA and had dinner with Chris [McQuarrie], who, we both knew, but separately. Chris’s brother is a SEAL and I knew him when he lived in Seattle. Chris said he’d really love to do something with SEALs in Afghanistan—”A movie like Zulu.” When I got back to Seattle, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head.
I emailed Chris, “You know what’s better than Zulu with SEALs in Afghanistan? Seven Samurai.” Chris replied, “Yes, it is. With the Taliban stealing opium poppies instead of rice.” And that was it. I asked Chris if we could use his idea, and he offered to collaborate.
PREVIEWSworld: Was there a speciﬁc message about the nature of war or the military that you wanted to convey?
Mark Long: Yes, a few. I’m a fan of the genre, but rarely does a ﬁctional account of special warfare deal with the true nature of war the way Seven Samurai did.
First, does a warrior betray his family by risking his life for his country? You rarely see the home lives of Tier One operators in ﬁction, except to kiss their perfect wife and kids goodbye. The truth is, these guys are often struggling with failing or failed relationships. They’re never around, or they’re gone without notice, or maybe even worse, gone frequently with notice on deployments to the “sandbox.”
It takes years to get to their level, so they’re often older, with teenage kids, too. And maybe a hot mess of a younger girlfriend. Second, are the themes of honor and brotherhood, which are expressed brilliantly in Seven Samurai. The SEALs, like the samurai, have nothing to gain and everything to lose in defending the villagers. It’s not their job, it’s not their expertise. It’s not even good strategy.
As Smash tells Hector, “Rommel said never ﬁght a battle if you don’t gain something by winning it.” And later, it turns out some of the farmers fought and killed American soldiers in the recent past. The SEALs do it for each other, for their teammates, and the other “Lions of Panjshir.”
PREVIEWSworld: How important was it to you for the military details to be authentic? What kind of research did you and your team do to keep the story grounded?
Mark Long: Well again, we had the best technical advisor you could hope for in Dan. The myriad of details in this book that speak to authenticity all come from Dan. And complete scenes, too.
The scene with the Taliban bomb maker strapped to the hood of the truck was all Dan’s. But to give you an idea of the details considered, there’s an inaccuracy in the way Hector is holding his pistol—”cup and saucer” style—that drives Dan crazy every time he sees it.
Rubicon hits store shelves in June.
Interesting trend: today’s list of books is dominated by artist/writer types. (Even our leading image – see below to find out who it’s by….if you haven’t already figured it out).
“You’ll do what I say or I’ll burn this place to the ground and kill every person you know.”
Wrapping up one of the better titles in the Before Watchmen series of books, most of which are pretty strong.
MIND MGMT #7
Writer, art and cover by Matt Kindt
We’ve learned some of the secrets of Henry Lyme; now get ready to meet the rest of MIND MGMT, beginning with the Ad Man! With the remains of MIND MGMT on Lyme’s tail, the former spy is forced to seek help from other defectors.
Back following a short hiatus. If you’re not reading this series, you are definitely missing out. It’s difficult to describe this book – a clandestine agency that’s been controlling world events for decades, possibly longer, staffed with operatives who have certain brain-based abilities. It will mess with your head (no pun intended). If you liked the flavour of Lost or X-Files, you will not be disappointed here.
Dark Horse is calling this a great jumping on point for new readers. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes enjoy falling into a story partway through and trying to figure out what’s going on.
The first collected edition is due in April.
Story by: Brandon Graham & Simon Roy, Art By: Simon Roy, Cover By: Fil Barlow
The Prophet clone with the Dolemantle from issues 21-23, New Father Prophet returns to Earth. As Prophet brothers from all over the universe assemble he must prove his worth among their ranks.
Writer: Joshua Dysart, Penciler: Phil Briones, Colorist: Ian Hannin
The Renegades recruit their newest member – Torque! In a shed in the backwoods of Northern Georgia lives a meek, sequestered teen named John Torkelson. Raised just this side of feral, and on a steady diet of MMA and reality TV, fried catfish and Cheeto pie, he’s a firm believer that women should be seen and not heard (though he really hasn’t met many). But when four strange, super-powered outlaw teenagers suddenly appear in the woods outside his shed, Torkelson’s life takes a turn he could’ve never imagined. Now the boy his poppa called “Stump” is about to become more man than he could’ve ever imagined. But then…what exactly is a “real man”? For that matter, what’s a real hero? Only one thing’s certain, the Renegades are about to get a hell of a lot stronger.
I wasn’t a reader of Valiant when the publisher launched in the 90s, so I’m not terribly familiar with the source material. But I’m completely digging Harbinger and X-O Manowar. Solid writing on both of those. I enjoyed the first arc of Archer and Armstrong. Less excited about the second arc so far, but I’m a few issues behind.
Also worth noting, the amazing image at the top of this post is a variant covers for this issue of Harbinger drawn by one of my favourite comic creators (who also happens to be Canadian and from Toronto).