Category Archives: Comics

We Talk Wonderland with Erica J Heflin

calieAfter a few years working with GreyHaven Comics, Erica J Heflin was given the reins for Zenescope’s ongoing Wonderland series.  Turning the psychotic stories a bit on their side, she is now taking the title in a new direction.  She chatted with us for a bit and told us what it is like to go down the rabbit hole.

Graphic PolicyHow did you cross paths into Zenescope and Wonderland?  Was there a magical looking glass involved?

Erica J Heflin:  No looking glasses! My general history of disliking what I see reflected means that I avoid mirrors handily.

In this case it was the perfect combination of luck and hard work put me behind a table slinging my own books when the delightful Pat Shand happened upon the table. This was several years ago, and while he introduced himself as a writer I didn’t recognize his name. We had a pleasant conversation where I both told him about my books and tried to get him involved in an anthology project that I was working on with GrayHaven Comics. We exchanged some books and continued to share books at different cons. When the opening for Wonderland occurred, I was invited to pitch!

calieGPYou picked up writing duties on the series after Calie had managed to finally conquer Wonderland and take over as its queen.  Do you foresee a change in tone to the overall series now that she has “won”?

EH:  Oh, yes. Her victory and conquering of Wonderland really changes the entire landscape of the book. While it’s still a fantasy-horror series, the madness and claustrophobic lack of control isn’t as pervasive. These were some fundamental motifs in the earlier books and the ongoing, so it’s a pretty substantial change.

But in addition to Wonderland’s changes, Calie changes a lot too. She’s no longer in a position where her survival – and her daughter’s – is threatened in each moment. Though she has enough paranoia and experience to know that Wonderland is still a VERY dangerous place, her own relationship with it has changed. Moreover, Calie’s experiencing a life event that is both very normal and very emotional for a parent. Violet’s grown and is stepping out into the world as her own woman. So at the most basic level the dynamics of Calie’s life are changing.

calieGPThe Grimm Fairy Tales version of Wonderland is a combination of fantasy and wonder with horror and terror.  Which one do you think defines the realm more?

EH:  I’d say that in its natural state Wonderland holds to a combination of fantasy and wonder. Through the last several years it’s leaned heavily away from this whimsical charm and into the dark horror and now Calie is struggling to return the balance to Wonderland. Calie’s life hasn’t made her a particularly whimsical person, so watching her struggle to embrace the fantasy and wonder of the Realm she commands is a lot of fun.

GPMental health has been an ongoing theme in the collected series thus far.  Is that an important aspect to continue with, or do you think that Calie has kind of moved past this?

EH:  It will continue, but manifest in different ways. We’ll see a bit of it with Violet as she struggles with the spirit of the Hatter as well as her own demons. But overall there’s a shift away from featuring these concerns, simply because many of the characters of focus are now either birthed of Wonderland or have been fully absorbed into Wonderland. Though now that the creatures of Wonderland have free will – and free control of their destinies – there’s bound to be a lot more questioning of who and why they exist.

GP Did you read the novel as a youngster or just watch the movie?

calieEH:  I watched the movie when I was very young, but started reading Lewis Caroll in my teen years. It was assigned reading, I believe, but fantastical or horror stories were easy enough for me to get fully engrossed in.

I ended up reading Caroll’s work several more times – on my own, in college, etc. I love the way he built such an immersive universe and still managed a sharp commentary on historical events. I’m also a nerd for linguistics, and Caroll’s works offer such a rich breadth of word play that I love to revisit.

GPDo you have a favorite character?

EH:   I love Calie, but I have to admit that my favorite character to write at the moment is Dark Cheshire. He comes from such a unique background, and is continuing to struggle with the questions of who and why he is. He also has a history of not just doing terrible things, but taking joy from many of them. There’s a gleeful sense of affection for his own history even as he struggles to rise above the horror of what he was. It makes a very interesting dynamic to write.

GPDoes having a favorite affect how you see the series going forward?

EH:   My concept of Wonderland is very Calie-centric, but her relationship with the Dark Cheshire is deeply important. Through Dark Cheshire we get a deeper understanding of Calie and her relationship with Wonderland and its people. He’s a great gateway for both her and the reader. His presence doesn’t change the story’s direction, but allows for a deeper understanding of all the characters involved.

GPAre there any elements of the original Wonderland that you feel that the series has been missing so far that you would like to introduce?

EH:   Because of the nature of the stories, Wonderland has focuses on a tiny corner of the Realm, coupled with a lot of overlay of Earth life. Going forward I’m going to show how vast Wonderland is. This is a land with a long history – history that isn’t interlinked to Earth’s – and I’m very excited to pull away that curtain and reveal the rest of Wonderland.

GPLastly and most importantly, why is a raven like a writing desk?

EH:  You know, I have a strong desire to undermine the nature of this question and ramble about the talented Mr. (Raven) Gregory.

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Preview: The Third Testament Book 1: The Lion Awakes

THE THIRD TESTAMENT (BOOK I): THE LION AWAKES

STORY BY: Xavier Dorison & Alex Alice
ART BY: Alex Alice
COLORS: Alex Alice
LETTERING: Gabriela Houston
COVER BY: Alex Alice
NUMBER OF VOLUMES IN SERIES: 1 (of 4)
PUBLISHER: Titan Comics
FORMAT: 48pp, HC, FC
COVER PRICE: $9.99 / CAN $11.99 / UK £8.99
ISBN: 9781782760894
RELEASE DATE: October 22, 2014

A CHILLING STORY OF SECRETS, LIES AND MURDER…

The 14th Century. Shortly after the discovery of an ancient relic in a secret, long-forgotten crypt, a remote monastery is burnt to the ground, and all its inhabitants slaughtered.

Disgraced Inquisitor Conrad of Marburg is summoned from his exile and sent on a world-spanning quest to discover the truth behind the massacre. But is he, the Church and humanity ready for the shattering revelations his journey will reveal?

ThirdTestament_Vol1_Cover

Marvel Teases Infinity Gauntlet #1 for Summer 2015

Infinity_Gauntlet_2015

13 Coins #1 Gets a 3D Cover

Tomorrow, October 22, sees the debut of 13 Coins by Eisner award-winning artist Simon Bisley, and the screenwriters of Hitman: Absolution, Martin Brennan and Michael B Jackson.

What we found out today is the first issue allows readers to view Simon Bisley’s cover in 3D via digital device.

On the back cover of 13 Coins #1 readers are prompted to download the ’13 Coins app’ from the iTunes App store by searching ’13COINSCOMIC’.

In the app readers are then prompted to click the scanner unlock button. It in turn opens the scanner camera prompting the reader to scan the back cover of 13 Coins #1.

This then unlocks the issue #1 digitally on their device of the reader who bought it and is rewarded with Simon Bisley cover in 3d within their device.

What’s the comic about?

John Pozner always knew he was special; that his athletic abilities and fighting skills were far from human. But with a broken childhood, drug addictions, and a criminal record on his plate, he’s already fought more than his share of battles for one lifetime.

Or so he hoped…

Woken to his true angelic nature, John quickly finds himself at the centre of an apocalyptic war – one that could spell the end of existence as we know it – with no choice but to train in order to confront the holy destiny he never asked for.

But with scheming politicians, demonic factions and forces older than time itself vying against him, it looks like this ‘true-blooded’ bruiser has his work cut out for him!

Review: Tomb Raider #9

tomb raider 9 coverThe transition from other mediums into comics can be a bumpy and perhaps no character typifies this better than Lara Croft.  Though not much of a video game player at any point in my life, for the short period that I was involved with video games I did play the first couple of Tomb Raider games from beginning to end.  There was a certain appeal to the character which never really translated well to other mediums.  Despite Angelina Jolie’s star power, she could not make much of the character on the big screen, and in comics the character has often struggled to find an identity.  Probably a big part of this is the application of the character over specific time frames.  Most people can cover an entire 3-5 issue story arc in under an hour, but in video games a single story arc takes days to complete.  The rich and complex scenarios which occur in comics are difficult to reproduce because the reader expects the same out of the character which is often difficult to duplicate, especially as there is a limited amount of material upon which to draw.

In the case of Lara Croft, while she is supposed to be an accomplished and unrivaled archaeologist, this often does not come through as she is instead portrayed as a soldier of fortune, using her military training and survival skills for a different purpose.  This is the case in Tomb Raider #9 as the character has been thrown into the radioactive hot zone that is Chernobyl and is forced to face off against what is essentially another mercenary.  The story in itself is not inherently flawed though it is somewhat unspectacular in its concept, but Lara Croft does not really come out of the story, rather the character could be any of a number of similar characters.  Even imagining her speaking in a British accent has no effect as the dialogue is fairly straightforward and usually uninspired. This is even all the more frustrating as Lara is being written by comic veteran Gail Simone as well as Rhianna Pratchett, scriptwriter for the games, as one would expect the two of them to get the character on track.

Fans of the character will therefore likely be disappointed with this particular story arc, even if there is nothing really wrong with it either.  At the heart of the character is one very deeply versed in an Indiana Jones model, and it is generally wise to let the characters continue the same dynamic which made them popular in the first place.  The series remains similar to how most of the comic portrayals of Lara Croft have been, equally both adequate and off-the-mark.

Story:  Rhianna Pratchett and Gail Simone Art: Derlis Santacruz
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Pass

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

memetic_001_coveraWednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in! Below are ten suggestions of comics, graphic novels, or trade paperbacks you should spend some extra time checking out and think about picking up. And this is a week that this list could easily be double the size.

Pick of the Week: Memetic #1 (BOOM! Studios) – BOOM! teased us the hypno-sloth, and this week the world gets to see what it’s finally about. Writer James Tynion IV has been rocking it with The Woods, and we can’t wait to see what he does next.

Arkham Manor #1 (DC Comics) – DC Comics has shaken things up with two recent out-of-the-box releases in the revamped Batgirl and Gotham Academy. Can they go 3 for 3 with this one?

Avengers #37 (Marvel) – The jump ahead in time has been fascinating, and there feels like something big is coming. This has been teased for quite some time, and we finally are seeing the master plan pay off for Marvel’s Avengers line of comics.

The Delinquents #3 (Valiant) – Take Archer & Armstrong and have them team up with Quantum & Woody. The result is a hilarious comic that’s beyond fun and entertaining.

Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldurs Gate #1 (IDW Publishing) – Jim Zub tackles a refreshed Dungeons & Dragons. There brand is back and more popular than ever. Looking forward to seeing what Zub does, especially since he’s shown off his fantasy talents with similar titles Skullkickers and Pathfinder.

Letter 44 #11 (Oni Press) – Writer Charles Soule continues to brilliantly mix politics and science fiction. Every issue is fantastic, both entertaining and thought provoking.

Southern Dog #2 (Action Lab Entertainment) – It seems like forever since we read the first issue of this series, and we finally get a chance to read the second. Mix werewolves with the South, and you get an interesting story!

Stumptown Vol. 3 #2 (Oni Press) – We love noir/detective stories, and Greg Rucka‘s Stumptown has never disappointed.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters #1 (IDW Publishing) – Two of our favorite things to come out of the 80s come together!

The Walking Dead #133 (Skybound) – The end of last issue…. nuff said.

New Releases: 10/22/2014

Check out this week’s new releases as provided by Previews. As always, check with your local shop as to the availability of items.

Highlights for the week include Colder: Bad Seed #1, Father’s Day #1, POP #3, Predator: Fire and Stone #1, Tomb Raider #9, Aquaman #35, Arkham Manor #1, Batman Eternal #29, Bodies #4, Deathstroke #1, Earth 2: Worlds End 33, The Flash #35, Infinity Man and the Forever People #4, Multiversity: The Just #1, The New 52: Futures End #25, Red Lanterns #35, The 7th Sword #5, Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldurs Gate #1, Edward Scissorhands #1, G.I. Joe #2, Rot & Ruin #2, Skylanders Micro-Comic Fun Packs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters #1, Transformers Primacy #3, Transformers: Robots in Disguise #34, The X-Files: Season 10 #17, The X-Files: Year Zero #4, Five Ghosts #13, Goners #1, Lazarus #12, Revival #24, Sheltered #12, Starlight #6, Stray Bullets: The Killers #8, The Walking Dead #133, Wicked & Divine #5, Wildfire #4, All-New Ghost Rider #8, All-New Invaders #11, All-New X-Factor #15, Amazing Spider-Man #8, Amazing X-Men #12, Avengers #37, Avengers & X-Men: AXIS #3, AXIS: Hobgoblin #1, Cyclops #6, Death of Wolverine: Logan Legacy #2, New Warriors #11, Secret Avengers #9, She-Hulk #9, Thanos: A God Up There Listening #3, X-Force #11, 13 Coins #1, Afterlife with Archie Magazine #1, Alice Cooper #2, Butterfly #2, The Delinquents #3, Hero Cats #2, Letter 44 #11, Memetic #1, Ordinary, Southern Dog #2, Stumptown Vol. 3 #2, The Third Testament Vol. 1: Lion Awakes, and so much more.

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IDW Publishing to Bring Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently to Comics

Dirk GentlyIn partnership with Ideate Media, IDW Publishing has announced that Dirk Gently will be appearing in his first-ever comic-book series in 2015, helping to prove the interconnectedness of all things, the precept by which Dirk Gently, Douglas Adams’ beloved fictional “holistic detective” lives.

Following the recent announcement that Gently will be developed for television by IDW Entertainment and Ideate Media with Circle of Confusion as Executive Producers and Max Landis as showrunner, IDW will also launch an ongoing series of all-new Dirk Gently adventures as comic books.

The series launching in spring 2015, will be written by Chris Ryall, IDW’s Chief Creative Officer/Editor-in-Chief and creator/writer of series such as Zombies vs Robots, Groom Lake, and The Hollows. The series artist will be Tony Akins, and Chew co-creator Rob Guillory has contributed a first cover image, too. Full story details and release information will follow soon.

Adams’ Dirk Gently, who appeared in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Dirk Gently’s Long, Dark Tea-time of the Soul, and the unfinished Dirk Gently fragment that Douglas was writing at the time of his death The Salmon of Doubt, is a charismatic, mysterious, troubled, brilliant, figure—cursed with a relentless intellect, psychic powers he doesn’t fully understand or want, a gift for self-mythologizing, and a supernatural ability to detect disturbances in the fabric of reality. Dirk has found a strange calling as a private detective for impossible crimes, the likes of which will take many forms in the comics.

Viz Media Celebrates 30 Years of Voltron

Voltron-30thAnnvBook-3D-smVIZ Media takes readers on an exciting journey to explore the history and legacy of Voltron, the legendary giant robot anime series that marks the 30th Anniversary of its original North American broadcast premiere.

Voltron: From Days of Long Ago, A 30th Anniversary Celebration examines the entire Voltron universe and the property’s notable impact on pop culture and will be released in-print on October 28th from the company’s Perfect Square imprint. The hardcover oversized edition will carry an MSRP of $29.99 U.S. / $34.99 CAN.

A digital version of Voltron: From Days of Long Ago, A 30th Anniversary Celebration also will launch on October 28th for $14.99 U.S. / CAN from the Perfect Square App, which has titles available for the Apple iPad and iPad Mini. The Perfect Square App is available from the iTunes store. Readers also will be able to find a digital version for the NOOK, Kindle Fire, and Kobo eReaders, as well as in the iBooks and GooglePlay Stores.

Thirty years ago, Voltron: Defender of the Universe hit the airwaves, and the world hasn’t been the same. Now, Voltron: From Days of Long Ago chronicles the story of Voltron and its cultural relevance, taking a detailed look at the story behind the show and the many related toy releases, the mythology of both Lion Force and Vehicle Voltron (with a nod to Albegas), and concludes the exciting Voltron Force saga. This new book is truly for fans, by fans: authored by Brian Smith, a former Marvel Comics editor and writer for Perfect Square’s Voltron Force series of original graphic novels, Marc Morrell, co-host of the official “Let’s Voltron!” podcast, and Joshua Bernard, founder of CollectionDX, a popular website devoted to covering the world of Japanese toys, action figures and pop culture; with a bonus Voltron comic written by Smith and illustrated by Jacob Chabot, artist on the Voltron Force series; with a foreword by Jeremy Corray, former Creative Director of World Events Productions, the company behind the classic Voltron TV series.

 

Review: Grimm Fairy Tales versus Wonderland #4

gftvwlWhen it comes to comics series involving the word “versus” and any combination of heroes, there is almost certainly one thing which is bound to happen.  The heroes will not really face off against each other in the long run, and will most likely being allied to each other in fast time, though probably after they have at least tested each other’s skills.  It should be no surprise therefore that the series Grimm Fairy Tales versus Wonderland turned out this way.  Really though there could be no other way, both by comic clichés and by what the company has going.  Despite some of its questionable representations of women on its covers, Zenescope and Grimm Fairy Tales does tend to have a lot of female heroes, far better than the usual proportion of male to female, so much so that Grimm Fairy Tales probably is the only comic universe that has a better than 50% ratio in favor of women.  At the head of this world are two heroines, Calie and Sela, representing Wonderland and the main world of Grimm Fairy Tales.  Here they are matched up against a character intent on taking over Wonderland, not the first time that this has happened and presumably not the last.

One of the byproducts of the meeting of heroes is often the triviality of it.  The meetup is set up as if to settle some kind of hypothetical question of who is better, but both heroes being heroes end up on the side of the righteous and end up fighting together.  What usually gets glossed over in these cases is the villain, as the combined power of the two heroes is generally enough to overcome any one bad guy.  In this series, this doesn’t seem to be the case.  The main villain looks as though he will be playing a part in the ongoing story of Wonderland, but that brings up another problem particular to the series of Wonderland.  The characters of this series have been mostly self-contained in scope to the rest of the Grimm Fairy Tales multiverse, and the popularity of the concept of Wonderland a land of madness and nightmares was presumably one that the original creators could not have foreseen.  In the meantime, there has been an explosion of Wonderland books, and reading through any one of the main ongoing series of Wonderland reveals this, as it is pockmarked by information boxes with details like “See Madness of Wonderland TPB”.  In the growing world of Wonderland, Grimm Fairy Tales versus Wonderland provides yet another reference point to the main series.

If this is going to reach some breaking point is a more relevant question.  As long as the series remains self-contained and away from the main problems of Grimm Fairy Tales, then it shouldn’t be a problem.  This was a perfect setup therefore in this series, as Sela comes to Wonderland to fight and not Calie to Earth.  The end result is pleasing enough, although perhaps a little mundane at times, but it does provide an easy access to a future problem for Calie.  Indeed this issue alone sums up the entire series effectively, and someone reading the main Wonderland series but not Grimm Fairy Tales, might like to get this issue just for a bit of context as to what is going on.

Story: Troy Brownfield  Art: Luca Claretti
Story: 7.3 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.4 Recommendation: Read for fans of Wonderland, Pass for Everyone Else

Zenescope provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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