Ben Kahn (Writer), Bruno Hidalgo (Art and Color), Sal Cipriano (Letters) June 3, 17p, 99¢, Digital-First
Gryffen vs. Hunter! Telika vs. Davika! Dao and Seti vs. science! The galaxy catches up with the galaxy’s most wanted in the conclusion to Gryffen season 1! Will hilarious anarchy reign, or is the future a Sovereign Reach boot on the universe’s throat forever?
Ben Kahn (Script and Letters), Bruno Hidalgo (Art and Color) October 9, 27p, $1.99, Digital
Isaiah and Erin walk the razor’s edge of deception, spinning a web of lies to play the angels against each other. But there’s one thing the thieves didn’t account for: running afoul of the law. The ghosts of the past have come to haunt a member of the gang, famed outlaw Coin Counter Turner. If he can’t shake the lawman that hunted him in life, the thieves’ plan will unravel before it can even begin.
HEAVENLY BLUES #6 (of 6)
Ben Kahn (Script and Letters), Bruno Hidalgo (Art and Color) October 9, 38p, $1.99, Digital
The heist is on! All the plans are in motion, and the die is cast. Isaiah, Erin, and their team will either pull off the biggest theft in history, or face the same failures that doomed them in life. The plan’s simple: cause chaos, steal the Holy Grail, and get out while the getting’s good. If it works, they’ll be resurrected back on Earth. If they fail, they’ll spend eternity in a prison far worse than Hell.
In celebration of Heavenly Blues’ nomination for “Outstanding Series” at the upcoming Ignatz Awards, the acclaimed series will be available for the first time on digital comics leader comiXology. Illicit Press is partnering with original publisher Scout Comics to bring the series to its widest audience yet.
Reuniting writer Ben Kahn and artist Bruno Hidalgo, the creative team behind Shaman and Gryffen: Galaxy’s Most Wanted, Heavenly Blues introduces readers to Hell’s greatest thieves, as they plan eternity’s greatest heist—against the angels of Heaven itself! To pull it off, Depression-era gun runner Isaiah Jefferson and accused Salem witch Erin Foley enlist a crew of outlaws from across time, including an Old West bank robber, a samurai addicted to a drug that provides a glimpse of the living world, and an Ancient Egyptian tomb raider. Together, they must evade the forces of both realms as they seek the afterlife’s greatest prize!
By turns thrilling, poignant, and darkly funny, Heavenly Blues was a critical darling upon its print serialization and has been optioned for film. The new digital editions re-present the six-issue series in its entirety, complete with Hidalgo’s breathtaking covers, just in time for the Ignatz Awards at 2019’s Small Press Expo. If attending the convention, you can vote for the series.
Issues #1 & #2 release September 11 Issues #3 & #4 release September 18 Issues #5 & #6 release September 25
Issue #1 will be offered at 99¢ for a 27-page issue. Subsequent issues will be offered at $1.99.
Ben Kahn, Bruno Hidalgo, and coloring assistant James Penafiel are back with some yummy, fun, and ultraviolent sci-fi as Captain Lyla Gryffen busts out of the prison hold of genocidal space fascists with the help of Elf and resistance fighter Telika and scientific genius/fuck buddy Elliot Dao. It’s space pulp adventures retrofitted for our era of hypercapitalism and white supremacy like Rick and Morty if it had a social conscience filled with equal takedowns of oppressive systems and shit blowing up.
The first page narration sets Lyla Gryffen as some legendary figure, and Kahn and Hidalgo ensure they live up to the legend by making Gryffen #1 all about cleverly breaking out of prisons and laying out their ideals about the world via quippy, eminently quotable dialogue about Bourbons, Bonapartes, the Industrial Revolution, and green Jello. Even though Gryffen is an action adventure narrative, it’s all about finding away to disrupt hegemonic systems instead of just the usual rebel alliance/blow up the small moon sized space station nonsense. Lyla wants to create a world where Admiral Thrawn, clones of the Emperor, and/or Yuuzhan Vong couldn’t rise to power after the second death Star through the power of science. But, also, violence.
Speaking of violence, Bruno Hidalgo’s art hits fever pitch when Lyla is kicking ass up and down the prison with Ben Kahn supplying them with one-liners about a no killing policy. Hidalgo and James Penafiel uses a red color palette to add intensity to the prison riot sequence, and Hidalgo’s uses big poses to draw attention to each action beat. The use of some old school motion lines are great for Lyla’s quick dodges and jabs and also builds up to a mad scientist’s wet dream of conclusion that oddly made me want to revisit the Halo franchise.
Other than the action with a side of political satire and emphatic artwork, Gryffen is a fun comic because of the interactions and chemistry between the three crew members, Lyla, Telika, and Dao. It’s a hotbox of cynicism meets idealism plus the fierce sexual attraction between Telika and Dao. Plus they love science a lot and think it’s the solution to everything, which leads to ingenious solutions, but also has bad side effects like the death cult that Dao influenced back in the day. The ideological clashes and riffing between Lyla, Telika, and Dao keeps the story going between fights, escapes, and chase sequences, and I look forward to learning more about cool scientists and seeing Lyla roast more 21st century Earth politicians.
Gryffen #1 is a sci-fi comic that is both immensely entertaining and sociopolitically relevant. Lyla Gryffen has plenty of attitude, and it seems like Ben Kahn is having the time of their life writing them. Throw in Bruno Hidalgo’s in-your-face colors and pulpy, gory artwork, and this is the summer punk rock sci-fi spectacular that you wish Hollywood had the balls to make.
Story: Ben Kahn Art: Bruno Hidalgo Color Assists: James Penafiel Letters: Sal Cipriano Story: 9.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy
Starburn Industries Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
Starburns Industries Press’ summer season begins May 1, with the debuts of three digital-first series from some of comics’ rising stars! Spanning three genres, Gryffen: Galaxy’s Most Wanted, Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia, andLong Ago and Far Away are united by SBI’s mandate of “Funny. Strange. Sad. Beautiful.” Each limited series will later be collected in paperback, but fans can read them early on comiXology and preview them in Starburns Presents, SBI’s 2019 Free Comic Book Day offering.
Gryffen is being serialized in half-length issues for 99¢ each, while Wrestletopia and Long Ago and Far Away are serialized in full-length—and some extra-length—issues for $1.99 each, passing the savings from print costs on to readers. Schedules range from weekly for Long Ago and Far Away to monthly for Wrestletopia, but it all starts May 1!
The three series available May 1 include:
GRYFFEN: GALAXY’S MOST WANTED
Script: Ben Kahn (Heavenly Blues) Art and color: Bruno Hidalgo (Once Upon a Time Machine) Letters: Sal Cipriano (The Batman Who Laughs)
Ben Kahn and Bruno Hidalgo follow up their acclaimed Heavenly Blues with Gryffen: Galaxy’s Most Wanted, a genderqueer space opera following Captain Lyla Gryffen’s campaign against the fascist Sovereign Reach. Once pride of the Reach, Gryffen disappeared six months ago at the edge of the galaxy, only to return one week ago—deeply pissed off. Building a crew from a hostage Reach soldier and the imprisoned smartest man in the universe, Gryffen is out to put a stop to the Reach’s exploitation of worlds, the stagnation of science, and the tyranny of green Jell-O!
Gryffen: Galaxy’s Most Wanted will run twelve 12-page issues for 99¢ each. Issue #2 will release on May 15, with subsequent issues released every three weeks.
INVASION FROM PLANET WRESTLETOPIA
Script: Ed Kuehnel & Matt Entin (Lumberjack Man) Art: Dan Schkade (The Spirit), Kendall Goode (WWE) Color: Marissa Louise (Hex Wives) Letters: A Larger World (Ninja•K)
Creators Ed Kuehnel and Matt Entin bring their cult classic to SBI Press, where the story will be completed for the first time! “Boy Scout” Bob Schultz! Cousin Orville! Mini Macho! Kodiak Jack! Spanish Rose! Don Fong Wong! These are the megastars of 1984’s AWF. “Rock ’n’ Roll” Rory Landell isn’t getting the respect he thinks he deserves, so one crazy night he ups the game, declaring himself the Galactic Champion of the Universe. But it turns out AWF fans aren’t the only ones listening, and the denizens of planet Wrestletopia aren’t going to take a challenge like that sitting down! Soon the Earth is enclosed in a metal cage, and true Galactic Champion Manifest Destiny is on the hunt for Rory, who may or may not be passed out drunk somewhere.
Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia will run six extra-sized issues for $1.99 each. Issue #2 will release on May 15, with subsequent issues released monthly.
LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY
Script: Chris Mancini (Comedy Film Nerds) Art and Color: Fernando Pinto (Monarchs) Letters: Troy Peteri (KISS)
Comedian and Comedy Film Nerds cohost Chris Mancini breathes new life into fantasy realms with adept humor artist Fernando Pinto! Decades ago, Jason saved the world of Elvenwood from the witch queen Nexis as the Child Knight. Today, he’s an unhappy manager of a comics store, where his disbelieving coworkers have to hear his ridiculous tale over and over. When the denizens of Elvenwood return to seek Jason’s help again, it turns out it’s all true, but will Jason be the hero he once was? Or will he just make things worse because he grew up to be a complete jackass?
Long Ago and Far Away will run eight standard-length issues for $1.99 each. The series will be released weekly.
The first issue of each series is available exclusively on ComiXology May 1, and Gryffen and Wrestletopia are also previewed in Starburns Presents Free Comic Book Day #2 on May 4! The issue includes an excerpt from Wrestletopia #1 and the complete first chapter of Gryffen, along with a prologue for C.W. Cooke and Kelly Williams’s upcoming digital-first Nasquatch, an excerpt from the next chapter of A.C. Medina, Mina Elwell, and Kit Wallis’s Hellicious, an original story from the world of Eben Burgoon’s B-Squad, and a taste of comedian Josh Fadem’s A Whole New Set of Problems. Starburns Presents #2 features an original cover by Kelly Williams mashing up the characters from all of the issue’s stories!
On Free Comic Book Day 2019, SBI Press delivers their next installment of Starburns Presents. This year’s edition will include special previews of Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia, Nasquatch, Hellicious Presents: Pick Your Perdition, Gryffen, B-Squad, and A Whole New Set of Problems by 30 Rock‘s Josh Fadem!
Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia
Written by Ed Kuehnel & Matt Entin Art by Dan Schkade Colors by Marissa Louise
SBI Press will publish the no-holds-barred, action-comedy sci-fi series from writers Matt Entin and Ed Kuehnel (Valiant Hearts, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Lumberjack Man), artist Dan Schkade (Will Eisner’s The Spirit, Battlestar Galactica: Gods & Monsters), colorist Marissa Louise (Spell on Wheels, Mystery Girl) and letterer Dave Lanphear (Shirtless Bear-Fighter, Quantum & Woody).
Inspired by the colorful days of 1980s pro-wrestling, the six-issue mini-series kicks off when disgruntled professional wrestler “Rock ‘n Roll” Rory Landell declares himself “galactic champion of the universe”, which a hostile planet of wrestling aliens takes as a declaration of war from Planet Earth.
Written by CW Cooke and Kelly Williams Art by Kelly Williams
Nasquatch is the story of Nas and Denny, two disparate souls brought together by racing, cars, and a love of the outdoors. Also, Nas is a sasquatch who is an unbelievable driver and Denny lives in a trailer park and just wants a better life.
Nasquatch will be a digital-first comic book series launching in 2019, first appearing in the pages of the Starburns Presents Free Comic Book Day issue from SBI Press and going from there digitally and eventually seeing print in trade paperback format.
Written by Eben Burgoon Art by Michael Calero
Following the missions of a squad of misfit mercenaries that range from pop-culture riffs to cut from whole cloth oddity — the expendable mercs just never seem to catch a break and face the Thanksgiving leftovers of upper-tier mercenary groups. The debut effort revisits Burgoon’s story made with artist Lauren Monardo which was originally released in early 2013. “Conspiracy in Cambodia” sees B-Squad head to Cambodia as they are tasked with protecting free-range cadre of “mugwai” from a group of radicalized hipsters poaching the furry critters for unknown gain.
Each “mission” of B-Squad will be released in a giant-size format and feature a Saturday Morning Cereal style collection of “tangent comics” including Burgoon’s newest series “Tiny Wizards” and Michael Calero’s “Monster Safari” as well as expansive activities, games, and magazine content that will remind people of dentist-office staples like Highlights magazine and ZooBooks.
Hellicious Presents: Pick Your Perdition
Written by A.C. Medina and Mina Elwell Art by Kit Wallis and Trevor Richardson
Continuing Hellicious with its first spin off book, Pick Your Perdition #1: Seeking Briggy, will be an interactive comic set in the world of Hellicious. Following the untimely demise of goth rocker, Briggy Bundy, his surviving band has been left with a great big iconic lead singer-sized hole in their lives which they desperately need to fill. You, the reader, will become the new frontman of Briggy Bundy’s band, but the fans aren’t interested in change and will only accept the original Briggy. To succeed, you will need the help of Briggy himself and all the supernatural powers to intercede on your behalf.
FCBD 2019’s edition of “Starburns Presents” will also feature an excerpt of the upcoming digital first series, Gryffen, written by Ben Kahn and illustrated by Bruno Hidalgo, of Heavenly Blues fame and Josh Fadem of 30 Rock will present a sneak peek of his book A Whole New Set of Problems. Fadem’s book will be a collection of humor shorts in the style of Shel Silverstein, but more in line with the offbeat humor of Starburns Industries Press. In Gryffen, humanity has taken to the stars, and crushed it in an iron fist. The most powerful and tyrannical faction of humans call themselves the Sovereign Reach. But one captain has had enough, and they’re willing to burn down the universe to destroy their own kind. Cpt. Lyla Gryffen, driven insane and branded a traitor, recruits a crew of mad scientists and rogue officers to steal a ship and achieve their singular philosophy: introduce rapid, unchecked technological progress with the explicit aim of destabilizing the entire galactic society. Chasing Gryffen is Admiral Rosalind Hunter, a ruthless soldier who will protect the Reach’s stability at any cost. It’s a race to the edge of the universe as these iron wills clash.