Tag Archives: graphic novel

Sina Grace is Self-Obsessed

Sina Grace is returning to his slice-of-life roots in Self-Obsessed, a new graphic novel memoir from Image Comics. Spawned from the one-shot of the same name, Self-Obsessed debuts over 80 pages of new material, providing readers an intimate peek into the brain of an artist asking himself what depths he’ll need to plumb to be anybody’s somebody.

After a critically successful run on two Burn the Orphanage miniseries, a return to the cult favorite Li’l Depressed Boy, and the launch of the all-ages series Penny Dora & The Wishing Box, Grace thought 2014 was his year to shine. Unfortunately, a number of personal tribulations—including a death in the family and the end of a longterm relationship—derailed all momentum and sent him spiraling into a depression. After leaving his hometown of Los Angeles and traveling across the American Southwest, Grace found his passion project for 2015: himself.

Influenced by nights spent poring over Joan Didion, Arthur Rimbaud, and Anders Nilsen, the scope of stories in Self-Obsessed reflect the ups-and-downs of breaking into comics, reconciling relationships past, and discovering what true selfhood looks like. Mixed with long-forgotten strips unearthed from the creator’s messy archives, conversations with contemporaries Ryan O’Connell and Colleen Green, as well as essays exploring gender, identity, and pursuing one’s dreams, Grace brings a whole new spin to memoir for the Twitter age.

Self-Obsessed (ISBN: 978-1-63215-449-1, Diamonde Code: JUL150640) arrives September 30 and will be available for $9.99. The graphic novel will include an introduction from Jeff Lemire, as well as a free audiobook download.

SELF-OBSESSED

Believe in Steven with First Original Graphic Novel Steven Universe: Too Cool for School

As part of its ramp-up to San Diego Comic-Con, KaBOOM!, an imprint of BOOM! Studios, and Cartoon Network Enterprises, the licensing and merchandising arm of the network, are pleased to announce the first Steven Universe original graphic novel Steven Universe: Too Cool for School, featuring Steven, Connie, and the Gems in an all new, full-length adventure.

The creative team of Steven Universe animated series Supervising Director Ian Jones-Quarterly and regular comic series writer Jeremy Sorese and artist Coleman Engle explore what happens when Steven joins Connie at school.

Steven Universe: Too Cool for School original graphic novel has a cover by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell and will arrive in comic shops this December.

Steven Universe Too Cool for School Original Graphic Novel Cover

Bastien Vives, Balak, and Michael Sanlaville Discuss The Last Man

Bastien.Vivès

Bastien Vivès

Richard Aldana is defeating all challenges in the Games, despite his outlandish refusal to use any magic, and relying solely on martial arts. With young Adrian fighting at his side, he’s beginning to look like a likely contender for the Royal Cup.

But in a breathtaking twist, everything changes: this world is not what you thought it was, and Richard Aldana is certainly not who he claimed.

We’re taking part in the Last Man blog tour courtesy of First Second. That’s two weeks of Q&A with the authors of this all new, action-packed series: Bastien Vives, Michael Sanlaville, and Balak!

Bastien Vives studied illustration and animation at the Ecole des Gobelins. After movie-making classes, he dived into comics, and his first title came out in 2007.

Balak

Balak

Balak (aka Yves Bigerel) works as a storyboard artist, 2D animator and TV show director in France. He works with Marvel Comics on the new digital Infinite Comics brand, as a storyboard artist (Avengers VS X-men with Mark Waid, Guardians of the Galaxy with Brian M. Bendis, Wolverine: Japan’s Most Wanted with Jason Aaron and Jason Latour).

Michael Sanlaville graduated from the Emile Cohl school, and later the Gobelins, after which he followed twin careers in animation (at the Xilam studio) and in comics with Casterman Publishers.

Now, on to the questions!

Michaël Sanlaville

Michaël Sanlaville

Graphic Policy: How did you all come together and come up with Last Man?

Team Last Man: Bastien and Balak met on some otaku internet message board ten years ago, catsuka.com. They were sharing pictures of ladies with huge breasts and talking about comics and anime, like every well balanced human being should. In 2004  Balak went to the Gobelins animation school in Paris, and one year after that Bastien did the same. That’s where they met Michael Sanlaville, that crazy talented guy who was only interested in car chases and punk rock. Bastien and Michael got along so well, they quit Gobelins before the final year to go make comics on their own, as well as together (Hollywood Jan). Three years ago, Bastien reunited the team to make the comic book we all wanted to read when we first started to draw: something featuring adventure, huge breasts, car chases, and punk rock – along with creating characters you care about.

LastMan-Cover-300rgbGP: I’ve read that Last Man was inspired by Japanese shounen manga, video games, and American pop culture, things you enjoyed as kids. What aspects did the series take from each of those? Any specifics as to the inspirations?

TLM: We often say that Last Man is a love letter to 80s and 90s Hollywood action flicks as much as manga. Bastien watches Back To The Future at least twice a month. Michael has Sylvester Stallones name tattooed on his heart. Balak has three identical copies of Tony Scott’s The Last Boyscout DVD, in three different places, just in case. We loved how these stories are so well told. They’re sometime corny, but you’ve got an genuine, earnest energy in this kind of cinema. And even if it’s not the case, that’s how we consumed them as twelve year old boys. It excited our imaginations. We want our reader to feel what we felt when we were watching that kind of movie. And the manga format is, to us, the best way to take the time to create an universe while staying close to the characters, to watch them grow and evolve. In manga you’ve got that earnest feel, too, they’re not afraid to be cheesy. We can be sometime “tongue in cheek” with our influences, but we want to have that genuine, visceral feel about our characters. They’re not puppets, they’re people we want the reader to love.

LastMan2-300dpi_RGBGP: It’s clear King’s Valley’s fantasy setting might differ from other parts of the world of Last Man. How much of the world has been fleshed out for the 12 volume series? Is there a “Last Man bible” of some sorts?

TLM: We actually made some maps of the different places we have seen (or not yet seen) in Last Man‘s universe, like your average fantasy fanboys. The universe is growing, sometime in unexpected out-of-way places, so maybe when it’s all said and done, we will collect all the extra material in a book. Just like the whole story, we have our landmarks, the big events we planned all along, but how we get there is left to our imagination as we go.

Last Man 3 The Chase RGBGP: The series was originally printed in France. Is there anything that might not translate well for an American audience? Anything you’d have changed for each audience?

TLM: Some little things have been adapted, like the food that made Vlad sick in the beginning of The Stranger: in France he ate “raclette” and it was translated to “seafood gumbo.” That’s about it. Wet try first and foremost to entertain ourselves, not thinking about the reader being French or Chinese or American. We wouldn’t change a thing to appeal to a specific or wider audience.

GP: There’s been mention of an animated show and video game. Where are you with those, and when can we expect them?

TLM: The videogame, Lastfight, is almost finished. It will be out at the end of the year on PC and hopefully game consoles.

We’re working with the video game team very closely, they’ve shared the same studio with us since the very beginning. The animated tv show will be a prequel about Richard’s past.  We finished writing the twenty-six scripts and it’s currently  in production.  The first storyboards are being made as we speak. It will be darker than the comic book, quite violent, but a lot of fun too. It will be broadcast on French tv next year. The comic book and the animation can be enjoyed separately, but fans of the comic book will have some crucial insights into very important mysteries when they watch the tv show, and vice versa. In the end, the animation and the comic book will respond to each other in a cool and original way. At least, that’s what we aim to do!

Z2 Comics Announces Fall Graphic Novels including Ashes, Pawn Shop, The Abaddon, and Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland

ASHESZ2 Comics announced today their fall 2015 graphic novel slate, including a reprint of one of Harvey Pekar’s final graphic novels and three graphic novels. The biggest surprise of the bunch is a new printing of Pekar’s Cleveland, one of his last graphic novels, and a love letter to his home town. It was originally published by Top Shelf in April 2012.

Check out below for the full slate of graphic novels being released.

Ashes: A Firefighter’s Tale written by Mario Candelaria with art by Karl Slominski.

(September 22, 2015; $19.99; 120 pages; black and white)

Matt always had an easygoing life. Girls liked him, his friends were more like family, and being a firefighter came naturally. Then the accident happened. Now, after the loss of his leg, Matt struggles to cope with his new handicap as he attempts to rebuild his shattered family and once budding career. A riveting tale about perseverance, hard work, and overcoming the odds, Ashes is a gripping tale told in stunning black and white.

PAWN SHOPPawn Shop written by Joey Esposito with art by Sean Von Gorman

(September 22, 2015; $19.99; 120 pages; full color)

A widower. A nurse. A punk. A Long Island Railroad employee. New York City is an ecosystem where everybody is connected, if only by the streets they walk on. This original graphic novel is the story of four people, in a city of eight million, whose lives unknowingly intersect through a Manhattan pawn shop.

Written by Joey Esposito (Footprints) and illustrated with a gorgeous mixture of watercolor and digital elements by Sean Von Gorman (Toe Tag Riot), Pawn Shop explores the big things that separate us and the little moments that inexplicably unite us.

The Abaddon written and illustrated by Koren Shadmi

(November 10, 2015; $24.99; 240 pages; full color)

cover_updatedLoosely based on Jean-Paul Sartre’s play No Exit, The Abaddon is the story of a young man who finds himself trapped in a bizarre apartment with a group of ill-matched roommates. He discovers that his new home doesn’t adhere to any rational laws of nature and comes to realize that everyone living in the apartment is missing crucial parts of their memories and identities.

Cleveland by Harvey Pekar and Joseph Remnant

(November DATE TK; Price TK; 128; black and white)

A lifelong resident of Cleveland, Ohio, Harvey Pekar (1939-2010) pioneered autobiographical comics, mining the mundane for magic since 1976 in his critically acclaimed series American Splendor. Legendary comic book writer Harvey Pekar’s collaboration with artist Joseph Remnant, titled Cleveland, was originally published by Top Shelf Shelf Comics and Zip Comics in 2012 and includes an introduction by Alan Moore. The book presents key moments and characters from the city’s history, intertwined with Harvey’s own ups and downs, as relayed to us by Our Man and meticulously researched and rendered by artist Joseph Remnant. At once a history of Cleveland and a portrait of Harvey, it’s a tribute to the ordinary greatness of both.

Preview: Metaphase

Metaphase

story by Chip Reece
art by Kelly Williams
letters by Peter Simeti
$9.99, print release, graphic novel, full color, sci-fi/superhero, all ages
Available at comic shops and online retailers

Ollie, a boy with Down syndrome, wants to have powers just like his superhero dad. The problem? With congenital heart defects, his father has no intention of letting his son get in harm’s way. Enter Meta-Makers, a company that promises to give powers to anyone who wants them, an opportunity Ollie can’t resist. Will he become the hero he wants to be or will his ambitions lead to the destruction of the person he admires most?

cover

Top 100 Graphic Novels in May 2015

Previews has released the top 100 ordered graphic novels in May 2015. The top book for the month was DC ComicsBatman: Earth One Vol. 2.

Marvel had three titles in the top 10, and Image Comics had four titles in the top 10. Viz Media had on book that came in seventh, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Valiant also had a book in the top ten with The Valiant TP.

IDW Publishing‘s best book came in at #19 with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Vol. 7. Dark Horse‘s Aliens: Fire and Stone came in at #37.

TOP 100 GRAPHIC NOVELS
Based on Total Unit Sales of Products Invoiced in May 2015

RANK DESCRIPTION PRICE ITEM CODE VENDOR
1 BATMAN EARTH ONE HC VOL 02 $24.99 JAN150232 DC
2 NIGHT NURSE #1 $7.99 MAR150754 MAR
3 RAT QUEENS TP VOL 02 FAR REACHING TENTACLES OF N’RYGOTH (MR) $14.99 SEP140647 IMA
4 SOUTHERN BASTARDS TP VOL 02 GRIDIRON (MR) $9.99 FEB150542 IMA
5 CIVIL WAR TP $24.99 JAN072436 MAR
6 SAGA TP VOL 04 (MR) $14.99 OCT140644 IMA
7 LEGEND OF ZELDA LINK TO THE PAST GN $19.99 MAR151495 VIZ
8 DEADPOOL TP VOL 08 ALL GOOD THINGS $24.99 MAR150804 MAR
8 THE VALIANT TP $9.99 MAR151614 VAL
10 SAGA TP VOL 01 (MR) $9.99 AUG120491 IMA
11 SAGA TP VOL 02 (MR) $14.99 APR130443 IMA
12 FOREVER EVIL TP (N52) $19.99 FEB150254 DC
13 THOR PREM HC VOL 01 GODDESS OF THUNDER $24.99 FEB150855 MAR
14 WALKING DEAD TP VOL 01 DAYS GONE BYE $14.99 NOV128157 IMA
15 VELVET TP VOL 02 THE SECRET LIVES OF DEAD MEN (MR) $14.99 JAN150661 IMA
16 STAR WARS OGN HC EPISODE IV NEW HOPE $24.99 JAN150883 MAR
17 SAGA TP VOL 03 (MR) $14.99 JAN140556 IMA
18 THANOS VS HULK TP $16.99 MAR150806 MAR
19 MY LITTLE PONY FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC TP VOL 07 $17.99 MAR150362 IDW
20 BATMAN THE KILLING JOKE SPECIAL ED HC $17.99 NOV070226 DC
21 BATMAN DETECTIVE COMICS TP VOL 05 GOTHTOPIA (N52) $16.99 FEB150249 DC
22 EARTH 2 WORLDS END TP VOL 01 (N52) $29.99 FEB150253 DC
23 BATMAN ADVENTURES TP VOL 02 $19.99 FEB150269 DC
24 GUARDIANS OF GALAXY HC VOL 01 $34.99 DEC140958-M MAR
25 DEADPOOL CLASSIC TP VOL 11 MERC WITH MOUTH $34.99 MAR150803 MAR
26 MS MARVEL TP VOL 01 NO NORMAL $15.99 JUN140725 MAR
27 UNWRITTEN TP VOL 11 (MR) $16.99 FEB150288 DC
28 INFINITY GAUNTLET TP $24.99 JUL110745 MAR
29 ALL NEW X-MEN TP VOL 05 ONE DOWN $19.99 FEB150864 MAR
30 BATMAN SUPERMAN TP VOL 02 GAME OVER (N52) $16.99 FEB150252 DC
31 BATGIRL TP VOL 05 DEADLINE (N52) $17.99 FEB150250 DC
32 REVIVAL TP VOL 05 GATHERING OF WATERS $14.99 FEB150531 IMA
33 WALKING DEAD TP VOL 02 MILES BEHIND US (NEW PTG) $14.99 SEP088204 IMA
34 SECRET WARS PRELUDE TP $34.99 FEB150858 MAR
35 BATMAN TP VOL 01 THE COURT OF OWLS (N52) $16.99 DEC120323 DC
36 SEX CRIMINALS TP VOL 01 (MR) $9.99 JAN140558 IMA
37 ALIENS FIRE AND STONE TP $14.99 JAN150169 DAR
37 GREEN LANTERN TP VOL 05 TEST OF WILLS (N52) $17.99 FEB150255 DC
39 STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION TP VOL 01 NEW REPUBLIC $34.99 FEB150853 MAR
40 BATMAN DETECTIVE COMICS HC VOL 06 ICARUS (N52) $24.99 JAN150366 DC
41 WICKED & DIVINE TP VOL 01 THE FAUST ACT (MR) $9.99 SEP140684 IMA
42 BATMAN DARK KNIGHT RETURNS TP $19.99 NOV118095 DC
43 MS MARVEL TP VOL 02 GENERATION WHY $15.99 DEC140970 MAR
44 UNCANNY X-MEN TP VOL 04 VS SHIELD $24.99 FEB150865 MAR
45 WALKING DEAD TP VOL 22 A NEW BEGINNING (MR) $14.99 SEP140657 IMA
46 STAR TREK COUNTDOWN TO DARKNESS TP $17.99 FEB130270 IDW
47 KEVIN SMITH GREEN HORNET TP VOL 02 WEARING GREEN $19.99 JAN111128 DE
48 KEVIN SMITH GREEN HORNET TP VOL 01 SINS O/T FATHER $19.99 SEP100942 DE
49 BATMAN TP VOL 03 DEATH OF THE FAMILY (N52) $16.99 FEB140248 DC
50 SEX CRIMINALS TP VOL 02 TWO WORLDS ONE COP (MR) $14.99 OCT140654 IMA
51 GAME OF THRONES HC GN VOL 04 (MR) $25 MAR151010 RAN
52 BATMAN SUPERMAN HC VOL 03 SECOND CHANCE (N52) $22.99 JAN150365 DC
53 UNCANNY AVENGERS TP VOL 04 AVENGE EARTH $19.99 FEB150851 MAR
54 BATMAN ARKHAM RIDDLER TP $19.99 FEB150251 DC
55 WALKING DEAD TP VOL 23 $14.99 FEB150545 IMA
56 BUCKY BARNES WINTER SOLDIER TP VOL 01 MAN ON WALL $16.99 FEB150868 MAR
57 FABLES DELUXE EDITION HC VOL 10 (MR) $29.99 JAN150396 DC
58 RAT QUEENS TP VOL 01 SASS & SORCERY (MR) $9.99 JAN140555 IMA
59 AVENGERS TIME RUNS OUT PREM HC VOL 03 $24.99 FEB150847 MAR
60 WALKING DEAD TP VOL 03 SAFETY BEHIND BARS $14.99 NOV082245 IMA
61 LOW TP VOL 01 THE DELIRIUM OF HOPE (MR) $9.99 DEC140670 IMA
62 DAREDEVIL TP MAN WITHOUT FEAR $19.99 APR100693 MAR
63 WOODS TP VOL 02 $14.99 MAR151043 BOO
64 MARVELS AVENGERS TP BLACK WIDOW STRIKES $12.99 JUN120737 MAR
65 SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN TP VOL 19 $19.99 JAN150142 DAR
66 AGE OF ULTRON TP $34.99 FEB140842 MAR
67 WOLVERINES TP VOL 02 CLAW BLADE AND FANG $15.99 MAR150816 MAR
68 BATMAN TP VOL 02 THE CITY OF OWLS (N52) $16.99 JUL130235 DC
69 SUPERMAN VS DARKSEID TP $19.99 JAN150382 DC
70 GREEN LANTERN HC VOL 06 THE LIFE EQUATION (N52) $24.99 JAN150368 DC
71 MAD MAX FURY ROAD INSPIRED ARTISTS DLX ED HC (MR) $24.99 MAR150292 DC
72 AXIS REVOLUTIONS TP $12.99 FEB150859 MAR
73 GUARDIANS 3000 TP VOL 01 TIME AFTER TIME $15.99 MAR150802 MAR
74 EMPIRE TP VOL 01 $24.99 FEB150347 IDW
75 USAGI YOJIMBO SENSO HC $19.99 JAN150137 DAR
76 DEADPOOL KILLS MARVEL UNIVERSE TP $14.99 AUG120709 MAR
77 WALKING DEAD TP VOL 05 BEST DEFENSE (MR) $14.99 SEP088206-M IMA
78 WALKING DEAD TP VOL 21 ALL OUT WAR PT 2 (MR) $14.99 MAY140652 IMA
79 FIGMENT HC $24.99 FEB150843 MAR
80 FBP FEDERAL BUREAU OF PHYSICS TP VOL 03 STANDING (MR) $14.99 JAN150402 DC
81 NIGHTCRAWLER TP VOL 02 REBORN $16.99 MAR150810 MAR
82 DEADPOOL TP VOL 01 DEAD PRESIDENTS NOW $15.99 MAR130727 MAR
83 ROBIN THE BOY WONDER A CELEBRATION OF 75 YEARS HC $39.99 DEC140391 DC
84 APOCALYPTIGIRL AN ARIA FOR THE END TIMES TP $9.99 JAN150129 DAR
85 ALL NEW GHOST RIDER TP VOL 02 LEGEND $19.99 FEB150869 MAR
85 JLA TP VOL 07 $24.99 FEB150260 DC
87 WALT DISNEY DONALD DUCK HC VOL 06 PIXILATED PARROT $29.99 MAR151351 FAN
88 BATMAN HUSH COMPLETE TP $24.99 MAY090178 DC
89 GRENDEL VS SHADOW HC $19.99 JAN150130 DAR
90 ANGEL & FAITH SEASON 10 TP VOL 02 LOST AND FOUND $18.99 JAN150089 DAR
91 BIG HERO 6 MANGA GN VOL 01 $12 NOV148159 HAC
92 BATMAN LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT TP VOL 04 $16.99 FEB150259 DC
93 SUICIDE SQUAD TP VOL 01 KICKED IN THE TEETH (N52) $14.99 APR120250 DC
94 BATMAN DARK KNIGHT UNWRAPPED DAVID FINCH DLX HC $34.99 NOV140293 DC
95 SMALLVILLE SEASON 11 TP VOL 06 ALIEN $16.99 FEB150262 DC
96 EAST OF WEST TP VOL 01 THE PROMISE $9.99 JUN130466 IMA
97 WALKING DEAD TP VOL 20 ALL OUT WAR PT 1 (MR) $14.99 JAN140559 IMA
98 MMW INCREDIBLE HULK HC VOL 09 $75 DEC140964-M MAR
99 JIM HENSONS STORYTELLER WITCHES HC $24.99 MAR151077 BOO
100 DAREDEVIL TP BORN AGAIN $19.99 NOV090565 MAR

Preview: Michael Midas Champion: Book 1

MICHAEL MIDAS CHAMPION: BOOK 1

by Jordan B. Gorfinkel, illo. by Scott Benefiel
Pub Date: August 4, 2105
Pages: 144
Format: Trade Paperback
SRP: $19.95
Age Range: Teen +
Trim: 10-3/16 x 6-5/8
Publisher: InkLit (an imprint of Penguin Random House)
Distributor: Penguin Random House
Item Code: JUN151391
ISBN: 9780425280782

What happens when the hero doesn’t — or can’t — save the day? What happens when he has to juggle a family with a duty to humanity and starts to crack under pressure? What happens when the world ends before the book is over? The new graphic novel Michael Midas Champion asks all these questions and more in a thought-provoking super-romp that still has plenty of brawling, flying, rescuing, and ninja (!).

Brought to you by writer Jordan B. Gorfinkel — known as “Gorf” to the legions of fans who grew up reading the now legendary superhero storylines he edited for DC Comics — Michael Midas is the story of a bullied kid who, like all superheroes, gains extraordinary powers in a freak occurrence. But unlike the rest, Michael has to pump iron and eat healthy to keep it up, and he has a family that needs him (not just a sometimes-significant other). The hardworking hero has to balance everything that’s important to him, and the pressure to be a father, a husband, a role model, and a superhero gets a little too tough to manage.

Along with Gorf (Batman: No Man’s Land, Birds of Prey), veteran artist Scott Benefiel (Transformers, Superman) adds a slick, fluid visual style making this a superhero book for those who’ve never tried one before; a tale of growing up in a genre that normally doesn’t allow its characters to change.

MichaelMidasChampion-COV

Jack Baxter Discusses Mike’s Place

Jack.Baxter1.credit.Gerry.LernerThere’s a rule at Mike’s Place: never, ever talk politics or religion. At this blues bar on the Tel Aviv beachfront, an international cast of characters mingles with the locals, and everyone is welcome to grab a beer and forget the conflict outside. At least, that’s the story Jack and Joshua want to tell in their documentary.

But less than a month after they begin filming, Mike’s Place is the target of a deadly suicide bombing. Jack, Joshua, and the Mike’s Place family survive the only way they know how-by keeping the camera rolling.

Written by filmmakers Jack Baxter and Joshua Faudem and illustrated by award-winning cartoonist Koren Shadmi, Mike’s Place chronicles the true story of an infamous terrorist attack in painstaking detail.

With the release of the graphic novel by First Second this week, we got a chance to chat with filmmaker and writer Jack Baxter about Mike’s Place.

Graphic Policy: I feel like the first place to start is, how are you doing now?

Jack Baxter: I’m doing the best I can with the tools I have, which are diminishing as I speak – Seriously, I’m doing okay, and I’m looking forward to Mike’s Place being successful around the world.

MikesPlace-300RGBGP: You went to Israel to film a documentary, and after that initial project didn’t work, you did one about Mike’s Place. How did the graphic novel spin out of the documentary?

JB: I originally went to Israel at the beginning of the Iraq War in April 2003 with hope of doing a documentary about Marwan Barghouti, a popular Palestinian who was going on trial in Tel Aviv on terrorism charges. Many people in the Israeli and Arab peace movement think of Barghouti as a potential “Palestinian Mandela” who could be the one to unite the factions and help broker a real and lasting Middle East deal.

Anyway, when that didn’t work, I found Mike’s Place and shifted gears.

The documentary my wife Fran and I produced about Mike’s Place, Blues by the Beach, has won awards at film festivals and even qualified for a 2005 Best Documentary Academy Award nomination.

My co-writer, Joshua Faudem, the director of “Blues”, and I took the Hollywood route and wrote a screenplay in 2010-2011. In early 2012, Mark Siegel saw the documentary, read the screenplay, and then took Fran and me out to lunch at a great restaurant – and the rest is history.

MikesPlace_combined_100-27GP: What were the differences for you when it came to putting together “the story” presented in the documentary versus what you put together in the graphic novel?

JB: Blues by the Beach becomes a cinéma vérité style documentary because of the suicide bombing. In the screenplay and especially in the graphic novel format, we delve into the bigger story of the actual plot to attack the bar and the travels and mindset of the two British terrorists. We could also show more of what was happening to the characters when the camera was turned off. We could never do that in our film because we were operating on what we knew at the time and what footage we shot.

GP: How long did it take for you to put together the film? How long was the process for the graphic novel?

JB: First, we edited a rough-cut in New York City for eight weeks – all of October and November 2003. A week in the studio with our Czech editor Matouš Outrata in Prague in April 2004; a week back in Manhattan in October 2004; then to Prague again for a week in February 2005. We put our final brush to it when we made our 35MM print to submit for the Academy Award nomination – that was two more weeks at DuArt Film Labs on West 55thStreet.

All told, two years editing the film. I’m exhausted just remembering all of it.

Joshua Faudem and I adapted the screenplay to the classic-style comic panels format template that editor/publisher Mark Siegel and First Second supplied us with. We took Mark’s direction and streamlined certain scenes, beefed-up a few others, wrote some new dialogue. The Mike’s Place screenplay is fast-paced, so it lends itself for graphic novel adaptation and movie storyboarding. Koren Shadmi breathed life into the plot with his tremendous art, and voilà, here we are almost three years later.

MikesPlace_combined_100-28.1GP: What are the advantages or disadvantages film has over graphic novels when it comes to storytelling and vice versa?

JB: With film there is sound – that’s the biggest advantage. However, in a graphic novel or book or any fixed artwork for that matter, the nature of its particular medium forces you to concentrate in order to comprehend, instead of with a film where the work is already done for the audience.

I’ll tell you, graphic novels are going to take over the world in the 21st century. Well, at least I hope Mike’s Place finds a worldwide audience.

GP: I noticed you also produced and directed Brother Minister: The Assassination of Malcolm X. I have seen the film, but it seems to have the same sort of “political” nature as Blues by the Beach and the documentary you initially wanted to film. Is there something about that type of subject that interests you?

JB: Brother Minister was a long and winding road too – life became art, tragedy struck, you name it. I thought I had a good grasp of Islam because of my experience with the Muslims I’d met and become friends with while making the documentary. After 9/11, I traveled to Israel for the first time in June of 2002. I rented a car and traveled all over and into the West Bank to the outskirts of Hebron. Let’s just say things got a little hairy for me down there and I hightailed it back to the Israeli checkpoint pronto. I vowed I’d never go anywhere near the Middle East again. But after reading that the American-backed Road Map Peace Plan was going down at the end of April 2003, and finding Marwan Barghouti’s compelling story that could put things in context for an interesting doc, I changed my mind and went back there again. Seems like I can never get away from politics and religion. That’s what I was trying to do by filming at Mike’s Place in Tel Aviv – when they found me there on April 30, 2003.

MikesPlace_combined_100-28GP: The thing that struck me about the comic is how well it flows, building up to the tragic event we know is coming. How’d you work through as to what info to include, or not include, as you wrote the story?

JB: We already had our characters, knew the plot, and used the travels of the two British terrorists as our “time clock” to make it a page-turner. Anything that got in the way of story or made us yawn never saw daylight. Those scenes never even made it to the treatment stage of the screenplay. What’s on the page is exactly what we intended.

GP: Comics seem to be playing a pretty prominent role right now in shaping the debate in the Middle East and chronicling current events, especially over the last few years. What do you think about comics that they’re being used so much more to talk about politics, life, and current events in that region?

JB: I think it’s great. Effective and well-drawn comics can bring cultures together…I guess. But let’s face it; comics are provocative and meant to get immediate response. Making comics can get you killed and/or maybe help put things in perspective by holding up a mirror to the world. Doesn’t matter if you’re an Arab or an Israeli ­– who doesn’t like comics? Well, besides the intolerant fundamentalists of every persuasion.

GP: Have you been back to Mike’s Place since? How are they doing?

JB: I went back to Israel in 2006 for medical treatments and stayed for two months at Gal Ganzman’s bachelor pad in Tel Aviv and with Joshua’s parents Burt and Arlene Faudem up in Jerusalem. Fran and I went back to Israel together for a week in 2008. Everybody seems good. Mike’s Place has expanded to other locations. Besides the original Tel Aviv beachfront bar they have two more within Tel Aviv, and Herzliya, and Eilat. They franchised their Jerusalem location and it now serves kosher food, cold beers, and live rock and blues music. They even opened up a Mike’s Place Pizza joint next to the bar where I got blown up. Israelis are a strong crew – they’re not going anywhere. And now everybody over there is getting married and having kids.

GP: What’s the reaction been like to the documentary, or the graphic novel, for those in the region?

JB: Everybody at Mike’s Place loves the film and the graphic novel. But somehow, we still don’t have it published yet in Israel. You’d think somebody over there would jump on it. Joshua and I would really like to see it translated into Hebrew and Arabic and Farsi. Who knows, maybe graphic novels are the way to solve the Middle East Conflict.

GP: Have you thought about doing any more graphic novels or comics in the future?

JB: If I can get someone with the talent, patience, and genius of a Koren Shadmi, and if I get the same team at First Second – CHEERS!

Preview: Samurai Collected Omnibus

SAMURAI COLLECTED OMNIBUS

WRITER: Jean-François Di Giorgio
ARTIST: Frédéric Genet
COVER: Frédéric Genet
PUBLISHER: Titan Comics
PAGECOUNT: 192
COVER PRICE: $29.99
RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 9, 2015
ORDER CODE: JUN151559

Takeo has finally achieved his dream; he has left behind the darkness of his past and become a Samurai. But now, with the courage that comes from knowing you are worthy, he finally feels ready to confront his demons.

Yet Imperial Japan is in turmoil; General Akuma, one of the Empire’s most powerful men has turned his back on the Emperor, and is planning to betray him. The two men are linked by a dark secret; the 13th prophet. It is into this mysterious feud that Takeo will stray on his quest to find out who he really is and answer the questions that have followed him his whole life. Why was he left to grow up in a monastery? And where is the brother that abandoned him ten years earlier?

Samurai_Omnibus

Review: Mike’s Place

MikesPlace-300RGBThere’s a rule at Mike’s Place: never, ever talk politics or religion. At this blues bar on the Tel Aviv beachfront, an international cast of characters mingles with the locals, and everyone is welcome to grab a beer and forget the conflict outside. At least, that’s the story Jack and Joshua want to tell in their documentary.

But less than a month after they begin filming, Mike’s Place is the target of a deadly suicide bombing. Jack, Joshua, and the Mike’s Place family survive the only way they know how-by keeping the camera rolling.

Written by Jack Baxter and Joshua Faudem, Mike’s Place is a graphic novel spun out of their experience that you can see in the documentary Blues by the Beach. What was supposed to be a movie celebrating Israeli life, and the peace found between Israelis, Palestinians, folks of all different backgrounds, who come together in a bar, instead it captures tragedy, and perseverance.

Going into reading Mike’s Place, you know the tragedy that will befall everyone at some point in the book. The tense vibe flows off the pages and builds as you get closer and closer to the event. Rarely has the slow build to tragedy, and the rebirth that follows, been captured with such a compassionate and unflinching eye. That’s primarily because Baxter and Faudem were at the event, witnessing it first hand, and don’t hold back details or showing us what transpired. Still, knowing what’s to come, the actual terrorist act, and what follows is a gut punch that can’t help cause you to tear up.

The graphic novel grips and effects you at a personal level. Part of that is due to the fact it’s both tragic and uplifting. The lead up, and post event accounting of what happened shows strength in tragedy, it’s a mesmerizing, and in ways uplifting, story. The attitudes displayed throughout the ordinary people show you some of the best of humanity, through all of their personal, relatable, flaws. It also shows the raw reality of Israeli life, some of which we don’t see here in the United States.

Baxter and Faudem are helped on art by Koren Shadmi whose style feels right for the region the story takes place. It’s a worldly style that’s not too detailed, but detailed enough to suck you into the Israeli world.

Beautifully haunting, Mike’s Place is a graphic novel that sticks with you for days and weeks. It’s absolutely Eisner material, and expect it to be nominated for numerous awards come time. One of the best graphic novels of the year so far.

Story: Jack Baxter, Joshua Faudem Art: Koren Shadmi
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

First Second provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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