Category Archives: Spotlight

Ezra Claytan Daniels’ Upgrade Soul Gets an Updated App and Original Vinyl Soundtrack

Upgrade Soul

Ezra Claytan Daniels‘ graphic novel debut Upgrade Soul has been a hit earning praise and accolades since release. It has won widespread praise and award nominations for the comic book industry’s top honors, including The Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics and the Eisner, Ignatz, Harvey, and ‘Ringo Awards.

Timed for Halloween, Upgrade Soul gets an innovative, and updated, app as well as the release of an original vinyl soundtrack. Both the app and the soundtrack will be available for purchase October 25th, 2019.

Daniels spent a decade writing and drawing the graphic novel before it was published last year by Lion Forge. It was originally conceived as a digital graphic novel and published as an interactive iOS comic app, launching in 2012, complete with 3D picture-box effects, extra features, and unlockable content. The app was designed by Erik Loyer, a media artist and two-time Webby Awards Official Honoree, whose work has been commissioned by the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Technology has changed in the years since the original app’s launch. That has enabled the team to finish the project as originally intended, with a rich interactive score, 3D picture-box effects, and seamless navigation. It’s not an enhanced version of the printed graphic novel, it’s its own thing.

The app featured an incredible original score by composer/hip hop producer Alexis Gideon, who is known for his work with the band Princess and his solo Video Musics series of animated operas. Gideon created the music for the Upgrade Soul app to seamlessly flow with and complement the interactive app, creating a wholly unique experience that’s a high water mark for digital comics and a standard-setter for the future of the medium.

And in October, for the first time, the trippy and ethereal soundtrack that accompanied the app’s initial launch will be available to the public outside the app. Chicago’s FPE Records will release the soundtrack in two formats: a regular black vinyl edition and a limited deluxe edition featuring translucent orange vinyl, red markings, and a signed print by Daniels. Of the latter, only 100 copies will be released worldwide. 

Upgrade Soul is the dark and surreal story of an elderly couple who volunteer themselves for an experimental scientific procedure intended to rejuvenate their aging bodies. When the procedure goes horribly wrong, creating physically disfigured but intellectually superior clones of the couple, the scientists, the couple, and their clones must grapple with existential questions of morality—with very real consequences. The book is a profound meditation on identity, and the ways society imposes restrictions based on our age, gender, race and perceived disabilities.

The Upgrade Soul app, which includes the first story’s chapter, is available as a free download. Throughout the month of October, the entire story can be unlocked for $6.99. Beginning November 1, the entire book can be unlocked for $7.99.

The Upgrade Soul Original Soundtrack Standard Edition, with black vinyl, retails for $18.00. The Upgrade Soul Original Soundtrack Limited Edition, featuring color vinyl, is exclusively available through FPE Records’ website, via Bandcamp or directly from Ezra Claytan Daniels at appearances. The Upgrade Soul Original Soundtrack Limited Edition retails for $45.00.

Young Justice: Outsiders! With Ahmed Ali Akbar, Ardo Omer & Ben Kahn

#WeAreAllOutsiders! I’ve got the perfect guests talking about the return of DC’s beloved animated series, Young Justice Season 3, streaming on DC Universe.

Ahmed Ali Akbaris a writer and host of the show “See Something Say Something.” He has worked as Staff Writer at BuzzFeed and has contributed pieces to Netflix, Catapult, Thrillist, Pushkin Industries, and more. He holds a Masters in Islamic Studies from Harvard Divinity School.  https://twitter.com/radbrowndads

Ardo Omer is a critic and freelance writer whose work can be found in The Comics Journal, Women Write About Comics and more. She’s the co-host of the Put A Blurb On It podcast, and has two short comics in the Toronto Comics’ Osgoode As Gold anthology and the upcoming Wayward Kindred anthology. https://twitter.com/ArdoOmer

Ben Kahn is an Ignatz Award-nominated comics writer. Their previous works include the comics series Heavenly Blues (Scout Comics) and Gryffen: Galaxy’s Most Wanted (SBI Press) https://twitter.com/BenTheKahn

Discussed 

  • Young Justice is like being on Twitter
  • Justice Society, “The Original Antifa”
  • Missed opportunities with Halo 
  • Halo IS a rebuttal to fascism 
  • Superboy learns collective action
  • The DCU: Where the UN is really powerful and run by Lex Luthor/Trump
  • “I’m not even mad about Harper Roe?!” https://twitter.com/Elana_Brooklyn

Ed Catto and Victoria Hanes launch Agendae

Agendae

A new firm Agendae LLC, dedicated to driving business and solving problems for mid-size and smaller companies and brands, has launched. The firm will focus on strategy, marketing, planning, rebranding, product launches and event planning

The hybrid consulting/marketing activation firm will specialize in helping medium and small businesses with a variety of tasks and challenges. By not limiting its offerings to only core disciplines, Agendae is able to focus on aligning with customers’ business needs, key milestones and to help create partnerships that transcend traditional agency expectations.

The firm is led by CEO Ed Catto, an industry veteran most recently of Bonfire Agency.

Catto is also part of Ithaca College’s School of Business faculty and teaches courses focusing on entrepreneurism. Joining Catto is Victoria Hanes. The two worked together for years at NYC-based East West Agency. Additional participants will be announced shortly.

In the announcement Catto said:

Everyone in business has a million things to do each day, and there’s no one answer for what’s right. With Agendae, we wanted to be able to focus on a myriad of business issues like strategy, marketing, planning, rebranding, product launches and event planning without the cookie-cutter definition of a traditional agency.

Hanes added:

We’re all about the agility that comes from having your head in the game. We’re excited to work with people that think like entrepreneurs. It’s about attitude, it’s about urgency and it’s about making things happen.

Agendae is the seldom used plural of agenda, reflecting the many to-do lists that every entrepreneur and businessperson addresses each day.

Marvel and Scholastic Team Up for Stories Aimed at Young Readers

Scholastic

Marvel and Scholastic have announced a multi-year deal to introduce new original stories featuring Marvel’s most iconic Super Heroes to young readers around the world. With a shared commitment to representing all types of characters and stories, Marvel and Scholastic will work together to craft exciting, relatable stories with characters who resonate with the millions of kids Scholastic reaches.

Starting in 2020, Scholastic will publish two new Marvel prose middle-grade novels, kicking off with Shuri: A Black Panther Novel, written by New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone, followed by an original middle-grade series, Avengers Assembly, by Preeti Chhibber.

More information will be released in the coming weeks.

Wasted Space Gets an Audiobook from GraphicAudio

Wasted Space audiobook

Vault Comics and GraphicAudio have announced they have partnered to produce the Wasted Space audiobook, adapted directly from the graphic novel and produced with a full cast of actors, immersive sound effects and cinematic music.

Wasted Space follows Billy Bane, a prophet who got it all wrong, and the galaxy has been burning ever since. All he wants is to waste away in the darkest corner of space with his best pal Dust, a supercharged Fuq bot. But when a new prophet comes calling, Billy is summoned to save the galaxy he’s at least partially responsible for destroying. Too bad he couldn’t care less.

The Wasted Space GraphicAudio adaptation is Adapted and Directed by Richard Rohan, with Dialogue Editing and GraphicAudio Sound Design by Karen Foeke. It is performed by Eric Messner as Billy Bane, Duyen Washington as Molly Sue, Henry Kramer as Dust, Karen Novack as Fury, Chris Genebach as The Creator, Jacob Yeh as Rex, Andy Brownstein as Cutter, Richard Rohan as Legion, with Nick DePinto, Joe Mallon, KenYatta Rogers, Chris Stinson, Kimberly Gilbert, Dani Stoller, Amanda Forstrom, Tony Nam, Bradley Smith, Nanette Savard, Steve Wannall, Zeke Alton, Lawrence Redmond, Holly Vagley, Matthew Pauli, Marni Penning, Peter Holdway, Paul Reisman, Rose Elizabeth Supan, Tim Carlin, and Ken Jackson.

The Wasted Space comic book series was created by writer Michael Moreci and artist Hayden Sherman, is colored by Jason Wordie, lettered by Jim Campbell, designed by Tim Daniel, and published by Vault Comics. Wasted Space Volumes One and Two are on store shelves now, and the third story arc begins in November 2019.

The GraphicAudio’s Wasted Space audiobook will be released on September 30th, 2019. Pre-orders are now open.

Writer Brenden Fletcher: Motor Crush, Robotech & Isola

Brenden Fletcher is a bestselling writer of comic books and animation. Current projects include the Eisner Award-nominated series ISOLA and MOTOR CRUSH for Image Comics as well as the upcoming ROBOTECH Remix series for Titan. Previous work includes BATGIRL OF BURNSIDE and the YA mystery/adventure series GOTHAM ACADEMY.

Learn:

  • Of the creation of Catball: Nova Honda’s cutest robot/cat/ball
  • Robotech already IS a remix
  • Crediting the geniuses behind Robotech
  • Motor Crush Vol 3 goes Terminator (& I’ll Be Back)
  • Barbara Gordon fighting gentrification
  • The etiquette of fan art about creator-owned comics
  • A possible return for Gotham Academy?
  • Robotech’s legacy as a diverse series

Listen to our 2015 episode for more from Brenden on his Batgirl, Black Canary and Gotham Academy runs.

Comic Creators Want You to Sign Up for the Library during Library Card Sign-Up Month

Steenz Library Card

The American Library Association’s Graphic Novels & Comics Round Table (GNCRT) is partnering with comic creators in support of Library Card Sign-Up Month in September. 

For the month of September, the GNCRT will be featuring a new creator each day posing with their library card. Showcasing comic creators in this #GetLibraryCarded campaign spotlights the mutually beneficial relationship between creators and libraries in support of literacy, intellectual freedom, and creative expression – we are stronger together. 

This is the first advocacy campaign of the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table. The GNCRT coordinates ongoing advocacy and outreach at several national comic conventions including hosting professional development sessions and booth or pop-up libraries including at Comic-Con International: San Diego, C2E2 and New York Comic-Con. The GNCRT is committed to professional development within librarianship – and committed to public outreach and advocacy around comics and graphic novels and comics readership at all levels. 

Follow @libcomix and @ALALibrary on Twitter to see your favorite comics creators #GetLibraryCarded! Participating creators include writer/artist Jimmy Palmiotti (Harley Quinn, Marvel Knights, Painkiller Jane), cartoonist Dav Pilkey (Dog Man, Captain Underpants), artist/editor Christina “Steenz” Stewart (Archival Quality, Rolled & Told), and writer Lilah Sturges (Lumberjanes: The Infernal Compass, The Magicians: Alice’s Story), and more.

Fantoons’ Tío Simón ABC Raises Money for Venezuelan Children’s Charities

Musician Simón Díaz, known throughout Venezuela as “Tío Simón” remains a vital part of the country’s cultural legacy, and forever in the memory of all who knew his musical work. To celebrate his immense cultural impact, Fantoons will release a bilingual children’s book of Spanish and English words with a Venezuelan twist, to encourage children to both learn the words themselves, as well as the culture behind them.

In this beautiful book, Tío Simón—beloved Venezuelan folk musician and children’s TV personality—will teach you words of every letter in both English and Spanish! Children will be able to learn with Tío Simón about his home, Venezuela, as well as traditional food like Arepa! with a beautiful full-color illustration on every page that will spark joy in families of every kind. 

Assembled by Fantoons’ David Calcano, the Venezuelan-born creative director, recognized for his work with Disney Channel, alongside projects in publishing and animation with Rush, Frank Zappa and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Calcano, and his Fantoons team of illustrators and designers, assembled 60 beautifully illustrated pages inspired by images of Venezuela.

$1 for every book sold will be donated to charities dedicated to help Venezuelan children in starvation. It’s a small gesture to help a country, and its children, in need.

Simón Díaz, a.k.a. Tío Simón, has been a cultural fixture for Venezuelan and Latin culture worldwide since the 1960s. His children’s TV show, Contesta por Tío Simón, aired for a decade, and its messages and popularity earned him the unofficial title of “the Mr. Rogers of Venezuela.” His music has been covered more than 200 times in a dozen languages, and Diaz is a known influence on artists such as Julio Iglesias, Plácido Domingo, the famous Spanish director Pedro Almodovar and The Gipsy Kings. He was awarded a lifetime achievement Grammy from the Latin Grammys in 2008.

Features a foreword about his life and legacy by Tío Simón’s (Simón Díaz) daughter Bettsimar Díaz

Tío Símon ABC will be released in finer bookstores everywhere on October 15, and is available for preorder now through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and will carry a cover price of $12.99.

Tío Símon ABC

Dark Horse Parts Ways with Writer Brian Wood After Third Harassment Accusation

Brian Wood

Earlier today, Laura Hudson became the latest individual to accuse comic writer Brian Wood of improper conduct and sexual harassment. She is the third individual to do so over the years. Wood is accused of forcibly kissing her and then pursuing for weeks after attempting to have sex with her.

In 2013, artist Tess Fowler alleged that Wood sexually harassed her at a convention years before. Wood admitted to having “made a pass” but denied harassment or abuse. Anne Scherbina accused Wood of “making a pass” as well and then threatening her career when she didn’t agree. Scherbina says Wood then retaliated by posting a blind item that she provided sexual favors in a DC stockroom.

Wood currently writes Alien comics, as well as some creator-owned series, for Dark Horse. The publisher has made a statement that they will be parting ways with the creator.

In a statement to The Beat, Dark Horse said:

Effective immediately, Dark Horse will not pursue any new projects with Brian Wood. Dark Horse has cancelled the upcoming series Aliens Colonial Marines: Rising Threat.

It’s unknown why this THIRD accusation has caused the parting of ways as opposed to the previous two preventing them to begin with. Since the Fowler accusation, Wood has worked with Dark Horse, BOOM!, Image, and Marvel.

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