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Preview: The Ballad of Sang #3

The Ballad of Sang #3

(W) Ed Brisson
(A) Alessandro Micelli
(C) Shari Chankhamma
(CA) Alessandro Micelli with Shari Chankhamma
Age Rating: Mature Audiences
Genre: Action/Adventure
Price: $3.99
Page Count: 32

IT’S TIME TO JAM! After Sang and Lucy manage to dispatch and escape THE VEXXED, the bounty on Sang’s head doubles. It’s the perfect incentive for the BLACK EYED BETTIES, a roller derby team who Lucy already has a history with. When Lucy and Sang make a stop at a familiar diner for sanctuary, the Betties spring on the opportunity… but everything doesn’t go entirely to plan.

Preview: Rick and Morty #37

Rick and Morty #37

(W) Kyle Starks, Tini Howard and Josh Trujillo
(A) Marc Ellerby and Rii Abrego
(C) Sarah Stern
(CA) (Cover A) Marc Ellerby with Allison Strejlau, (Cover B) Mike Vasquez
Age Rating: Teen, 16+
Genre: Sci-Fi/Humor
Price: $3.99
Page Count: 32

LET THE RICK ONE IN: PART I. In this two-part spooky special, Rick and Morty face the hideous hordes of the sexy undead—VAMPIRES! Featuring the goth co-writing styles of Tini Howard (Assassinistas, Rick and Morty™: Pocket Like You Stole It)!

C2E2 2018: Writer Tini Howard Talks Assassinistas, Euthanauts, and More

Tini Howard is one of comics’ most exciting new writers. She has worked on licensed properties like Rick and Morty: Pocket Like You Stole It and a series of Barbie graphic novels and has breathed new life into classic Image characters like Cassie Hack in Hack/Slash Resurrection and Magdalena in Magdalena Reformation. However, the main subject of this interview was Howard’s creator owned work for IDW’s Black Crown imprint where legendary editor Shelly Bond has kept the spirit of 1990s Vertigo alive in 2018.

Graphic Policy: So, you currently have two series at Black Crown. You’re sort of their flagship writer. Why has that imprint been such a good place for your recent projects?

Tini Howard: I’m a big fan of Shelly Bond’s work. I’m a huge fan of her sensibilities and taste. I’m a huge fan of Philip Bond. I was at a place in my career where I wasn’t sure what I was going to do next. Skeptics was my first creator owned work, and it was a gauntlet making that book so I learned a lot about making comics. I was like, “Man, when I do my next creator owned series, I wish someone would call me up on the phone that has experience and say, ‘I want to help you make this book.'”

Shelly Bond was that person. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that she found my work independently of me begging her to like it. She reached out to me, and Black Crown is great. They have lot of support from IDW because the company very much trusts in Shelly’s sensibilities. So, I get to work with two of the all time greats in comics [with Bond] and Gilbert Hernandez as well.

One of the Black Crown sayings is that “We have an old guard and a new guard” so with Euthanauts, I’m part of the old guard so I get to bring someone new in with Nick [Robles].

GP: I love the philosophy that they have. Another thing I like about Black Crown is its intersection between music and comics. What have you been listening to while writing Assassinistas and Euthanauts?

TH: The Assassinistas playlist is a lot of grrrl punk. A lot of X-Ray Spex, a lot of The Go-Go’s, all the way up to Paramore and Natalia Kills. It’s angry girl music throughout the ages is the background of Assassinistas along with some little things. Like I’ve got some Pansy Division on there because Taylor’s super into queer punk.

Then, Euthanauts is Bowie, Bjork, Massive Attack. It’s dream pop, it’s weird, and death-y. Some VNV Nation going back to my Wax Trax! Goth kid days. It’s also got some weird meditative music on there, and then I’ve got “Rocket Man” by Elton John on there. That’s a song I connect a lot to Euthanauts. 

GP: When you’re writing Assassinistas, how do you find the balance and pacing between these super stylized action sequences (Especially the flashbacks.) and the tender mom/son, boyfriend/boyfriend kind of scenes?

TH: For me, everyone is multitudes. Even when I’m “on” at a con, I’m still internally feeling the things I have to deal with. As a writer, you’re like “A character is doing one thing”, but no one is ever really just doing one thing. We’re all doing one thing on the outside and feeling other things on the inside. For me, it’s remembering these people have experienced pain and are trying their best to connect while also doing really stressful things.

As anyone who’s ever done a comic convention, anyone who’s ever planned a wedding, anyone’s who done a move, stress heightens all your familial tensions. Moving is one of the most stressful things for a family. I think they only say that because most families aren’t assassins. Maybe doing an assassin job is one of the most stressful things. It’s also interesting because despite these women being contract killers, what they’re there to do isn’t murder. It’s not a bloody book full of people dying. That’s their past. This is their future.

GP: My personal favorite part of Assassinistas is this budding romance between Dominic and Taylor.  What do you have in store for them going into the second half of the miniseries?

TH: The thing I love about Dominic and Taylor is that Taylor, in a lot of ways, is like the audience character because Taylor was not raised in this world. He’s kind of curiously looking at it the same way that we as the audience are. So, Taylor’s really important to me. He’s got the heart of someone who was raised in a supportive, normal environment, and that’s part of why Dominic loves him. It’s like “Look at you. Look at how normal we can be.”

Dominic craves normalcy, and to a lot of people, dating a boy with a pink mohawk is not normal, but it is his normal. It’s who he is. He loves this kid, and when Dominic looks at Taylor, he sees a white picket fence and them having 2.5 kids together. He gets a business degree, and Taylor has his awesome gender studies degree. He gets a job teaching and is a professor like his parents. When Dominic sees Taylor, he sees normalcy and sees something that’s not like his life.

Having a person that is the normal oasis from crazy family life being brought into his crazy family life, and having that person think it’s really cool is a nightmare for Dominic.

GP: The fights in Assassinistas are really, I guess, funky is the best way to describe them. What is your process like plotting out the fights with Gilbert Hernandez?

TH: The Hernandez Bros can draw anything because they’re great, but they’re not exactly known for these superhero style action scenes. Frankly, I don’t love writing long fight scenes without a purpose. I’m not the person who gets off on writing 18 pages of gory punches. For me, a fight is a reason to do something else. It’s a way to get a character somewhere. It’s a way to start a conversation. I love the way that Beto and Rob Davis on colors are doing the art for these pages. They almost remind me of old Batman ’66 fights. Bam, pow, yeah! We’re there for the kinetic moment, and what it draws.

Beto really understands it. Neither of us are people that love violence and want to make a hyperviolent book. Beto is in Vegas. That’s a place that has seen a lot of trauma. We’ve had moments where we’ve talked about it before. We have these people walking around with automatic weapons and have had that talk. Neither of us are fans of violence for violence’s sake. That’s a big touchpoint.

GP: Moving on to Euthanauts, which I’m really excited for. So, I grew up a Protestant with Heaven, Hell, the afterlife being a big part of my upbringing. What is your vision of the afterlife in Euthanauts, and how does that connect to your own beliefs about death and the afterlife?

TH: I’ve always been scared of space. I’ve also always been scared of death. I think it’s for the same reason. There’s nothing out there. It’s formless and unfriendly. I grew up watching the same VHS copy of Apollo 13 a thousand times, and it terrified me every time because you have duct tape and Saran wrap, you’re in space, and you have to get home.

So, I kind of started of contextualizing it and asking, “What if there’s an afterlife, and it’s not heaven, it’s not hell, it’s not even populated.” When most of us die, we just die. You die, and your spirit goes to that unwelcoming cold place and just fizzes out. Back before we knew what happened to you in space, we used to think people would explode in space or something. We didn’t know what happened to you out there.

That’s what I’m working with in Euthanauts. That’s a frontier. These people are pioneers. But death only goes one way for most of us. It gets into that Egyptian, or in some ways that Christian idea, of living life for the afterlife. Living your whole life just to prepare for the afterlife. For a Euthanaut, that’s what it takes. It takes a massive amount of preparation.

The three main characters we have all view the afterlife in different ways. [There’s] Natalia, our main character, who works in a funeral home. The way I describe her, if you’re a Six Feet Under fan, is she’s a Fisher. She’s very normal. She doesn’t talk about her feelings. She works at a funeral home. She’s a recovering Goth girl. She’s got a lot of anxiety about death and the afterlife, but she buries it deep down and has a very American view of the funeral. When death happens, we shunt it out of our vision and look at someone who’s made up and put them in a box in the ground.

Then, we have Mercy, who is kind of her foil and the lead Euthanaut. Mercy is very scientific. It’s true that in the beginning of the 20th century, you can look at college grants to study the afterlife. Because to this day, we don’t have understanding of if something is there. Mercy is a researcher of that. She’s very much [into] the 21 grams of the soul, moment of death, and trying to understand consciousness and maintain that consciousness into the beyond. That’s really what the core is about.

Then, we have Indi, or Indigo Hanover, who is Nick’s favorite, and was supposed to be a tertiary character, but then became our third protagonist because we loved him so much. Indi is a radical fairy. He was raised by two lesbian witches. He grew up in that whole world. The book opens on him preparing his mother for her funeral, which is a beautiful, joyous event. He believes in reincarnation and the cycle of life and death. Indi doesn’t like the idea of going somewhere else and breaking that cycle. To him, that’s a little upsetting. He kind of gets conscripted into the Euthanauts.

GP: How did you end up working with Nick Robles on Euthanauts, and how does his vision of the afterlife mesh with yours?

TH: Nick is an artist that everyone in comics has their eyes on right now. He did Alien Bounty Hunter at Vault and is so talented. His first Black Crown work was that he drew a piece of Kid Lobotomy fan art, and Tess Fowler saw it was good that she gave up a cover so he could do a cover. (They already had a variant cover.) So, Nick’s fan art of the titular character from Kid Lobotomy became the cover for issue 6. From that, he was just on our radar hardcore. Shelly suggested him, and I said, “Absolutely”. I’m just a big fan of Nick’s work.

Nick loves pretty boys and loves drawing them. A lot of reason for Indi as a character is because of Nick’s instant affection for him. Nick draws him so beautifully and all the characters so beautifully, which is great too because we have some characters, like Mercy, who are not conventionally beautiful. Mercy is sick. Her appearance is that sh’es clearly dying in public. We first see her because she looks so unnerving and scary. But everything is beautifully rendered for Nick even the scary stuff.

GP: Yeah, I saw the first preview, and there were all these blood and guts and viscera going around.

TH: He’s very talented with that. He’s coloring the first issue too. Every time I post art, everyone is like, “Who is the colorist?” And I’m like, “It’s Nick.” He’s a legend in the making.

GP: I actually have a quick Rick and Morty question. How does the fandom missing the whole point of the show with the whole Szechuan sauce debacle affect your writing and working on it as a licensed property?

TH: I was very lucky to engage with the show before I was aware of the fandom at all. I have a really personal connection with the show. It touched me in a lot of ways. I grew up reading hard sci-fi so a lot of tropes they use are ones I’ve thought about. Humor aside, Rick and Morty is some of the best sci-fi around because it takes those tropes and makes them personal. That was good sci-fi does.

Rick and Morty does that while at the same time being gut bustingly hilarious. I always try and engage and touch what I like about the show rather than trying to please any part of the fanbase. I’ve been really pleased with how people respond.

GP: I have one last question, and it has to do with death. What does the Tarot card, Death, mean to you?

TH: That is such a good question, but I can’t really tell you why yet… Death is about change, death is a transference of energy. That is something I say in Euthanauts again and again. Death is not just a transference energy, it’s a state change. So, to the Euthanauts, death is the equivalent of boiling water and making steam. The only difference is that they haven’t figured out how to put the steam back in the water.

With death, it’s one way. And the whole thing about the Euthanauts is let’s say you die, and there’s something you want to write home about, how do you write home from the afterlife. And that’s where our tethers, Natalia, Mercy, and Indi, come up, and that’s their importance in the story.

 

Assassinistas #4 is currently out, and you can buy it here. Rick and Morty: Pocket Like You Stole It is available here. Euthanauts #1 is set to be released in July 2018

Follow Tini Howard on Twitter.

 

Preview: The Damned #9

The Damned #9

(W) Cullen Bunn
(A) Brian Hurtt
(C) Bill Crabtree
(CA) Brian Hurtt with Bill Crabtree
Age Rating: Mature Audiences
Genre: Crime/Fantasy
Price: $3.99
Page Count: 32

Before they were cursed, before they were damned, Eddie, Morgan, Sophie, and the Wyrm were just kids with big dreams of striking it rich. But when your plan is to rob a demon-run gambling operation, those dreams can quickly turn to nightmares. Brian Hurtt and Cullen Bunn present a new story from Eddie’s past, one that spells trouble for his future.

Preview: The Ballad of Sang #2

The Ballad of Sang #2

(W) Ed Brisson
(A) Alessandro Micelli
(C) Shari Chankhamma
(CA) Alessandro Micelli with Shari Chankhamma
Age Rating: Mature Audiences
Genre: Action/Adventure
Price: $3.99
Page Count: 32

DEATH TO FALSE METAL! Sang has gone into hiding after cutting off and stealing the arm of the biggest, baddest gangster in the city—and Minchella wants more than just his arm back. Now there’s a price on Sang’s head, one that THE VEXXXED—a gang of big haired, metal loving, motorcycle riding, coked up relics of the 80s—are happy to cash in on. Sang and his new companion Lucy are on the run, but can they outrun The Vexxxed?

Rick and Morty Roll the Dice with Dungeons & Dragons!

Announced at C2E2, IDW Publishing and Oni Press are bringing two of the most popular properties in the world, Adult Swim’s hit series Rick and Morty and Dungeons & Dragons, together in a brand-new four-issue comic book series. Taking the reins of these two iconic properties is the superstar creative team of writers Patrick Rothfuss and Jim Zub along with Eisner-nominated artist Troy Little .

Debuting this August, the mini-series will throw Rick and Morty into a high-fantasy adventure blended with the wit, humor, and intelligence the show is widely celebrated for.

In this summer’s biggest comic book crossover, Morty goes to Rick for help to learn about Dungeons & Dragons, the game all the cool kids at his school are playing; naturally, things go horribly wrong as Rick, Morty, and the whole Smith family find themselves on an epic quest with no escape in sight.

Each issue will feature variant covers that fans of both series will love, including character sheets, and more! Dungeons & Dragons comics from IDW by Jim Zub are available now wherever books are sold. Oni Press’s Rick and Morty comics are also available where comics and books are sold.

Sarah Gaydos Joins Oni Press as Editorial Director of Licensed Publishing

Oni Press has announced that Sarah Gaydos will be joining their editorial team as the new Editorial Director of Licensed Publishing. Gaydos, the Eisner Award, Ringo Award, and Diamond Gem winner for Love is Love, is formerly the Group Editor of IDW, where she championed such licensed titles as Star Trek and Jem and the Holograms.

Gaydos began her career at WildStorm, a future imprint of DC Comics, in 2006, first in the administration department, working her way into editorial. After joining IDW Publishing and eventually being promoted to Group Editor, Gaydos has found success editing original and licensed content. She’s known for her work on Star Trek, and her most recent Free Comic Book Day offering was nominated for a Diamond Gem award. She also found success in launching Disney’s standard character comics. Other partnerships include Hasbro, Dreamworks, CBS, Paramount, Blizzard Entertainment, Cartoon Network, and Scholastic. In 2016, Gaydos won the “Best of San Diego People” award for her work in lifting up women in comics, and also received the ComicsAlliance Outstanding Editor award. Additionally, Gaydos’ focus on original and licensed content for girls and those new to comics will continue at Oni Press, as the Editorial Director of Licensed Publishing.

Rick and Morty Presents: The Vindicators #1 Has Sold Out of its First Printing

This month’s launch of Rick and Morty Presents: The Vindicators #1 found comic books shops and buyers getting schwifty! Upon the first printing of the new Rick and Morty one-shot, copies on the print run were sold out almost immediately, requiring a second print run, which will go on sale April 11thRick and Morty Presents: The Vindicators #1 sketch cover variant was also made available to attendees of Emerald City Comic Con.

The all-new Rick and Morty Presents is a quarterly series of one-shot comics. Learn the secret stories and hidden pasts of your favorite Rick and Morty characters, with each issue focusing on a different character of the franchise, including: The Vindicators written by J. Torres (#1),  Krombopulos Michael written by Daniel Mallory Ortberg (#2), Sleepy Gary written by Magdalene Visaggio (#3), and Pickle Rick written by Delilah Dawson (#4). All issues will be illustrated by CJ Cannon, colored by Nick Filardi, and lettered by Crank!

In Rick and Morty Presents: The Vindicators #1, we explore the twisted and bombastic history of THE VINDICATORS in an all-out superhero comics extravaganza. Read in amazement as the superhero team travels through dimensions to recruit other heroes to defeat a villain of their own making. Gasp in shock and awe as the plot twists and previously irrelevant characters revive from the dead! Frown in frustration as you forget the complicated backstory of suddenly important mythic items! And most of all… WUBBA LUBBA DUB DUB!

Rick and Morty Presents: The Vindicators #1 will also be available at C2E2, in Chicago, April 6-8th.

Preview: Invader ZIM #29

Invader ZIM #29

Created by: Johnen Vasquez
Story: Eric Trueheart
Art: Maddie C., Fred C. Stresing
Color: Fred C. Stresing
Letterer: Warren Wucinich
Cover A: Maddie C., Fred C. Stresing
Cover B: Megan Ann Boyd
Editor: Robin Herrera Design: Keith Wood
Special Thanks: Joan Hilty, Linda Lee
Age Rating: All Ages
Genre: Sci-Fi/Humor
Price: $3.99
Page Count: 32

The city is a dark place… as dark as new Darkpoop Cola, an exclusive Poop Cola flavor available for a limited time! When Gaz demands her brother get her some of the precious cola in the middle of the night, Dib enters a shadowy underground of Poop-driven factions warring for control of all Poop-kind. But why? Is there more to Poop than meets the eye? And is it all just too stupid for Dib to care about? Part one of a two-part story.

Review: The Ballad of Sang #1

Kidnapped off the streets of the Philippines as an infant and trained as a child assassin, Sang has never had a childhood. All he’s ever known is killing and the kindness of his master, Chen, the closest thing Sang has to a father. When Sang’s enthusiasm botches a job, it brings the wrath of Don Minchella down on the pair and Chen is brutally murdered. Barely escaping with his own life—and with Minchella’s severed arm in tow—Sang swears revenge, while every gang in the city mobilizes to return him to Minchella, dead or alive.

I love mob movies. I love kung-fu movies. The combination of the two is a perfect thing for me. So, I was excited to go in to read The Ballad of Sang #1 from writer Ed Brisson, artist Alessandro Micelli, and colorist Shari Chankhamma.

The story kicks off with an over the top botched job that pisses off the mob boss they work for. So, things need to be resolved and that involves killing Sang.

The violence is over the top in impressive art that defies the young man at the center of it all. There’s not much known about Sang which is to the detriment of the comic but the focus is the action. It’s over the top violence that has such style to it that it alone is a draw. It’s a bit gratuitous but that’s part of the “fun.”

The series is a genre we’ve seen a lot before, it’s a one person Warriors in a way but that’s a genre I myself enjoy. The first issue nails what’s to be expected with every chance it has. While there’s not a lot of character development, that’s also not really the point. The action/violence is the draw. And The Ballad of Sang nails that with every chance it has.

If you’re a fan of that type of story, this is one to check out, sit back, and enjoy.

Story: Ed Brisson Art: Alessandro Micelli Color: Shari Chankhamma
Cover A: Alessandro Micelli with Shari Chankhamma Cover B: Marley Zarcone
Story: 7.85 Art: 8,35 Overall: 7.85 Recommendation: Read

Oni Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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