Tag Archives: karen berger

Christopher Cantwell and Martín Morazzo’s She Could Fly is in Development at AMC

Berger Books has announced She Could Fly has been optioned for television development by AMC. Based on the comic series created by Christopher Cantwell and Martín MorazzoShe Could Fly marks the first property from the esteemed Berger Books line to be optioned for film or television.

She Could Fly tells the story of Luna, a disturbed 15-year-old girl who becomes obsessed with an unknown woman who appears in the Chicago sky flying at heights reaching 2,000 feet. Suddenly—the mysterious woman dies in a fiery explosion mid-air. No one knows who she was, how she flew, or why. Will cracking the secrets of the Flying Woman’s inner life lead to the liberation from Luna own troubled mind? The second series of She Could Fly, She Could Fly: The Lost Pilot #5 arrives August 14, 2019, with the collection arriving December 17, 2019. 

Christopher Cantwell, co-creator of She Could Fly has past experience with AMC through AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire as a co-creator, showrunner and executive producer. Executive Producers of She Could Fly include Mark Johnson, Executive Producer of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul; Melissa Bernstein, also an Executive Producer of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul; Karen Berger, founder of Berger Books and Vertigo; Mike Richardson, Dark Horse Entertainment’s founder and Executive Producer (The Umbrella Academy)and Keith Goldberg, Dark Horse Entertainment Senior Vice President and Executive Producer (The Umbrella Academy). 

Review: Hungry Ghosts #1

Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai (The 100 Candles) is a Japanese storytelling game. During the Edo period samurai warriors would occasionally gather for a feast and afterwards they would tell stories of the various ghosts, demons and spirits that inhabit the supernatural landscape of Japan. After each tale the samurai would enter an adjoining room lit by a hundred candles. He would blow one out and stare into a mirror to verify that he had not been possessed before returning to the company of his fellows for another round. As the room grew darker so did the stories. Few of these games, if any, reached completion. Even samurai weren’t that brave.

A modern version of kaidan forms the backbone of Hungry Ghosts, the latest comic by world class chef and world travelling journalist Anthony Bourdain. It’s also the first offering from Berger Books, the new Dark Horse imprint headed by Karen Berger. You may remember her as the visionary editor who oversaw the creation of Vertigo and helped to make some of the best comics ever created (including Neil Gaiman’s Sandman) even better.

Here samurai are replaced by chefs and their stories, derived from Japanese originals, all involve food in some way. The framing device, in which they are gathered under the auspices of a mysterious Russian billionaire, lends weight and a sense of continuity to what would otherwise be simple nightmare-like visions of greed, lust and gluttony: disturbing as they are experienced but apt to vanish like bad dreams when confronted by sunshine.

I won’t discuss the stories themselves as it’s impossible to do so without spoiling them. Needless to say both of the two tales contained in this first issue recall both the Japanese tradition to which they belong and such legendary pre-code horror anthologies as Tales From the Crypt. In any project with more than one writer it’s hard for a reviewer to assess who did what. It is Bourdain’s tastes and concerns that inform the stories culinary focus and the strong threads of social justice that run throughout but, if I understand the back matter correctly, much of the credit for the heavy lifting of transforming his ideas into a viable script for comics is due to co-writer Joel Rose, who also collaborated with Bourdain on his previous graphic novel Get Jiro. Between their combined efforts the legends of Japan are transfigured to reflect the individual cultures of the storytellers themselves (the crew of chefs include French, Hispanic and American cooks as well as Japanese) and the universality of human terror. Of course this opens the book up to charges of cultural appropriation and that’s a fair criticism for anyone who cares to make it. It never felt to me like a crass attempt to exploit Asian traditions by pasting a white mask over a Japanese face solely for the purpose of mass commercial appeal. Your mileage may vary.

As in any good anthology multiple artists are represented. The cover, which you can see at the top of this page, is a stunning and unnerving piece by the masterful Paul Pope. Pope’s work is hit or miss for me but this is certainly one of his better efforts. Alberto Ponticelli and Vanessa Del Rey illustrate the stories themselves, with Ponticelli doing double duty by drawing the framing story as well. Both are a good fit for the material.

Ponticelli has really improved since I first encountered his stuff on Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. His lines seem to be finer and more confident here and there is so much detail packed into the opening splash page of a demon’s boudoir that I will be returning to it many times to explore all the nooks and crannies for hidden treasures. He’s more suited to flat out horror than he is to horror tinged superheroics and I hope he continues to find a work in this vein.

Vanessa Del Rey is a name with which I’m not familiar but she too does an excellent job. Her style reminds me a lot of Becky Cloonan’s, capable of shifting from the voluptuous to the disturbing with surprising ease. It’s similar enough to Ponticelli’s to not be jarring in the transition between the two but different enough that you would never mistake the one for the other.

Sound is a crucial feature in any horror story and one that is hard to approximate in a silent medium like comics. Letterer Sal Cipriano does a great job of jumping this particular hurdle. His captions and balloons are serviceable throughout the first twelve pages, conveying their point without distracting from the art or calling attention to themselves. It’s not until the sound effects begin on page thirteen that he really gets to strut his stuff, varying the size and shape of the same five letters again and again while adding the occasional flourish to illustrate the increasing desperation of the protagonist as something terrible gets closer and closer. The colors by Jose Villaruba (another returning member of Bourdain’s Get Jiro team) tie everything together, painting all the scenes in the same shades and providing a sense of unity that they might otherwise lack.

Hungry Ghosts is  a really fine comic but its not for everyone. As I mentioned above, many readers may take exception to American creators dipping so heavily into the well of Japanese culture. There is also a strong element of sexual violence in the second story that may be distasteful or distressful to some readers. Beyond these concerns the stories themselves are part of an ancient oral tradition that has been translated into the much younger form of comics. While its handled well there are many things that we’ve come to expect in a traditional thirty page comic that are missing from this one. There’s little in the way of character development and the plots are simple constructs that exist to set up a gruesome twist that’s not really a surprise on the final page.

If you’re looking for the kind of rich, character driven horror delivered by books like Hellblazer or Swamp Thing, look elsewhere. If you want a comic that approximates sitting around the campfire on a dark summer night with a bag of marshmallows and a few good friends, trying to scare each other stupid, then I recommend giving Hungry Ghosts a taste.

Story: Anthony Bourdain & Joel Rose Art: Alberto Ponticelli & Vanessa Del Rey
Cover Art: Paul Pope
Story: 7.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Advance Review: Hungry Ghosts #1

Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai (The 100 Candles) is a Japanese storytelling game. During the Edo period samurai warriors would occasionally gather for a feast and afterwards they would tell stories of the various ghosts, demons and spirits that inhabit the supernatural landscape of Japan. After each tale the samurai would enter an adjoining room lit by a hundred candles. He would blow one out and stare into a mirror to verify that he had not been possessed before returning to the company of his fellows for another round. As the room grew darker so did the stories. Few of these games, if any, reached completion. Even samurai weren’t that brave.

A modern version of kaidan forms the backbone of Hungry Ghosts, the latest comic by world class chef and world travelling journalist Anthony Bourdain. It’s also the first offering from Berger Books, the new Dark Horse imprint headed by Karen Berger. You may remember her as the visionary editor who oversaw the creation of Vertigo and helped to make some of the best comics ever created (including Neil Gaiman’s Sandman) even better.

Here samurai are replaced by chefs and their stories, derived from Japanese originals, all involve food in some way. The framing device, in which they are gathered under the auspices of a mysterious Russian billionaire, lends weight and a sense of continuity to what would otherwise be simple nightmare-like visions of greed, lust and gluttony: disturbing as they are experienced but apt to vanish like bad dreams when confronted by sunshine.

I won’t discuss the stories themselves as it’s impossible to do so without spoiling them. Needless to say both of the two tales contained in this first issue recall both the Japanese tradition to which they belong and such legendary pre-code horror anthologies as Tales From the Crypt. In any project with more than one writer it’s hard for a reviewer to assess who did what. It is Bourdain’s tastes and concerns that inform the stories culinary focus and the strong threads of social justice that run throughout but, if I understand the back matter correctly, much of the credit for the heavy lifting of transforming his ideas into a viable script for comics is due to co-writer Joel Rose, who also collaborated with Bourdain on his previous graphic novel Get Jiro. Between their combined efforts the legends of Japan are transfigured to reflect the individual cultures of the storytellers themselves (the crew of chefs include French, Hispanic and American cooks as well as Japanese) and the universality of human terror. Of course this opens the book up to charges of cultural appropriation and that’s a fair criticism for anyone who cares to make it. It never felt to me like a crass attempt to exploit Asian traditions by pasting a white mask over a Japanese face solely for the purpose of mass commercial appeal. Your mileage may vary.

As in any good anthology multiple artists are represented. The cover, which you can see at the top of this page, is a stunning and unnerving piece by the masterful Paul Pope. Pope’s work is hit or miss for me but this is certainly one of his better efforts. Alberto Ponticelli and Vanessa Del Rey illustrate the stories themselves, with Ponticelli doing double duty by drawing the framing story as well. Both are a good fit for the material.

Ponticelli has really improved since I first encountered his stuff on Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. His lines seem to be finer and more confident here and there is so much detail packed into the opening splash page of a demon’s boudoir that I will be returning to it many times to explore all the nooks and crannies for hidden treasures. He’s more suited to flat out horror than he is to horror tinged superheroics and I hope he continues to find a work in this vein.

Vanessa Del Rey is a name with which I’m not familiar but she too does an excellent job. Her style reminds me a lot of Becky Cloonan’s, capable of shifting from the voluptuous to the disturbing with surprising ease. It’s similar enough to Ponticelli’s to not be jarring in the transition between the two but different enough that you would never mistake the one for the other.

Sound is a crucial feature in any horror story and one that is hard to approximate in a silent medium like comics. Letterer Sal Cipriano does a great job of jumping this particular hurdle. His captions and balloons are serviceable throughout the first twelve pages, conveying their point without distracting from the art or calling attention to themselves. It’s not until the sound effects begin on page thirteen that he really gets to strut his stuff, varying the size and shape of the same five letters again and again while adding the occasional flourish to illustrate the increasing desperation of the protagonist as something terrible gets closer and closer. The colors by Jose Villaruba (another returning member of Bourdain’s Get Jiro team) tie everything together, painting all the scenes in the same shades and providing a sense of unity that they might otherwise lack.

Hungry Ghosts is  a really fine comic but its not for everyone. As I mentioned above, many readers may take exception to American creators dipping so heavily into the well of Japanese culture. There is also a strong element of sexual violence in the second story that may be distasteful or distressful to some readers. Beyond these concerns the stories themselves are part of an ancient oral tradition that has been translated into the much younger form of comics. While its handled well there are many things that we’ve come to expect in a traditional thirty page comic that are missing from this one. There’s little in the way of character development and the plots are simple constructs that exist to set up a gruesome twist that’s not really a surprise on the final page.

If you’re looking for the kind of rich, character driven horror delivered by books like Hellblazer or Swamp Thing, look elsewhere. If you want a comic that approximates sitting around the campfire on a dark summer night with a bag of marshmallows and a few good friends, trying to scare each other stupid, then I recommend giving Hungry Ghosts a taste.

Story: Anthony Bourdain & Joel Rose Art: Alberto Ponticelli & Vanessa Del Rey
Cover Art: Paul Pope
Story: 7.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose Cook Up Horror in Hungry Ghosts

Prior to San Diego Comic Con 2017, Dark Horse announced the launch titles of Karen Berger’s imprint at Dark Horse. Today, Dark Horse and Berger Books are excited to share art from the upcoming series: Hungry Ghosts!

Author, chef and Emmy award-winning television star Anthony Bourdain and acclaimed writer Joel Rose tell haunting tales of terror, irritable spirits, and horribly strange beings in Hungry Ghosts, a four-issue anthology series of interconnected tales steeped in Japanese legend. Joining them for the first issue are stellar artists Alberto Ponticelli and Vanesa Del Rey, with amazing color by Jose Villarrubia, and a drop-dead cover by Paul Pope. Subsequent issues will feature art from Francesco Francavilla, Leonardo Manco, Paul Pope, Mateus Santolouco, and others.

Inspired by the Japanese Edo Period game Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai or 100 Candles, played by samurai warriors to test their courage, Hungry Ghosts reimagines this classic game of dread and terror as a circle of international chefs invoke modern tales of horror, terrifying yokaiyorei, and obake, all with the common thread of food—and pray that they survive the night. For the first course, with bad consequence, a ramen chef refuses to help a beggar, and a band of pirates gets more (and less) than they were bargaining for after their encounter with a drowning woman turns ghastly.

The first issue goes on sale January 31, 2018.

Berger Books Details Revealed

In early 2017, Dark Horse announced Berger Books, a new line of creator-owned comic books and graphic novels, from Karen Berger, the legendary, award-winning comic book editor and founder of DC Comics’ influential imprint Vertigo. Today, Dark Horse has revealed the new imprint’s premiere titles. Berger Books will release four new comics series, each to be later collected as a graphic novel: Hungry Ghosts by Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose; Incognegro: Renaissance by Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece; Mata Hari by Emma Beeby and Ariela Kristantina, and The Seeds by Ann Nocenti and David Aja. Berger Books will also publish a tenth-anniversary edition of Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery by Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece and The Originals: The Essential Edition by Dave Gibbons.

Author, chef and Emmy award-winning television star Anthony Bourdain and acclaimed writer Joel Rose tell haunting tales of terror, irritable spirits, and horribly strange beings in Hungry Ghosts, a four-issue anthology series including art by Vanesa Del Rey, Leo Manco, Alberto Ponticelli, Paul Pope, and Mateus Santolouco. Inspired by the Japanese Edo Period game Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai or 100 Candles, played by samurai warriors to test their courage, Hungry Ghosts reimagines this classic game of dread and terror as a circle of international chefs invoke modern tales of horror, terrifying yokai, yorei, and obake, all with the common thread of food. Hungry Ghosts #1 goes on sale January 31, 2018.

Acclaimed novelist Mat Johnson  and veteran artist Warren Pleece reunite for Incognegro: Renaissance, a new prequel series that follows cub reporter Zane Pinchback through the glittering nightlife of the Harlem Renaissance as he goes undercover, passing as white, for the first time. The first issue (of five) goes on sale February 7, 2018. This new series is a perfect companion to the tenth-anniversary edition of the 2008 Vertigo graphic novel, Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery. Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery features enhanced toned art, an afterword by Mat Johnson, character sketches, and other additional material. Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery finds Zane Pinchback, a reporter for the New York-based New Holland Herald, sent to investigate the arrest of his own brother, charged with the brutal murder of a white woman in Mississippi. With a lynch mob already swarming, Zane must stay “incognegro” long enough to uncover the truth behind the murder in order to save his brother—and himself. Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery goes on sale February 6, 2018, and is available for preorder on Amazon, Penguin Random House, and at your local comic shop.

Breakout talent, writer Emma Beeby and artist Ariela Kristantina join together for a new five-issue series based on the controversial and historical figure, Mata Hari. Mata Hari is notorious as the original “stripper-spy”: exotic dancer, convicted double agent, and femme fatale. Executed by a French firing squad in 1917, many have since questioned the conviction. A century after her death, Mata Hari tells her story through fictional diary excerpts, drawn from biographies of the real woman whose past has been shrouded in mystery by both the lies of her accusers and the outlandish stories she told about herself. The first issue of Mata Hari goes on sale February 21, 2018.

Award-winning artist David Aja and filmmaker, journalist and writer Ann Nocenti team up for The Seeds, a new four-issue series. In an imminent America where fact-based reporting is gasping its last breath, an idealistic journalist stumbles into the story of a lifetime, only to realize that she can’t report it. Instead, she has to pitch the biggest myth of her career. An eco-fiction tech-thriller where flora and fauna have begun to mutate, The Seeds is also a story of love beyond race and gender, and of the resilience of both human and animal kind. The first issue of The Seeds goes on sale March 28, 2018.

The Originals: The Essential Edition is an oversized new edition of Vertigo’s 2004 Eisner award-winning graphic novel from comics legend, Dave Gibbons. In a retro-futuristic city of industrial gray where hover scooters, music, and drugs rule the street, The Originals are the toughest, most stylish gang around. For two childhood friends, nothing is more important than being one of them, but being part of the crowd will bring its own deadly consequences. This new edition includes 32 pages of never-before-seen development art, process pieces, and behind the scenes extras—all annotated by Gibbons. The Originals: The Essential Edition goes on sale April 18, 2018.

Graphic Policy Celebrates Women’s History Month: Our Favorite Women in Comics

patsy walker aka hellcat 1 featuredLogan: Kate Leth, Brittney Williams, Megan Wilson, and Rachelle Rosenberg’s Hellcat has been a joyful celebration of superheroes, young people, and queerness. I will miss its humor, chibi style art, and especially my bi bae Ian Soo when it ends in a couple months.

faith-8-feat

Alex: Faith (Valiant) I really can’t understate just how enjoyable this series is. There have definitely been some issues stronger than others, but each and every one in the ongoing series (and preceding miniseries) has been nothing short of a pleasure to read.

Jody Houser, Marguerite Sauvage and the revolving cast of artists have taken Faith to stunning heights in an effortlessly charming and warm series that will make you fall in love with comics all over again.

black-panther-world-of-wakanda-4-featured

Shay: Gail Simone brings me LIFE! As does Roxane Gay! And I’m really loving Amanda Conner and her hubby’s direction for Harley Quinn! Also, loving Marguerite Bennett for the realistic portrayal of lesbians in Batwoman!

animosity3

Joe: One of the best titles in the last year is Animosity from Aftershock. This fantastic story is written by Marguerite Bennett who has taken the comic book world by storm lately, and drawn by Rafael de Latorre. Basically, society has collapsed when animals can talk and decide to take over the world from humanity. Instead of a boy and his dog adventure like we’ve seen so many times, we get a girl and her dog. Jesse and her hound, Sandor are not only an awesome pair, but the story is about Jesse’s growth into womanhood without a mother figure. Sandor knows he cannot help like her mother could, but he learns to rely on the other female animals to guide her. It’s brilliant, and everyone should be reading it.

nocenti-daredevil

Patrick: Ann Nocenti’s run on Daredevil blew my mind when it was coming out. It was so different from what I’d been used to seeing from Denny O’Neil and Frank Miller – a strange urban poetry that was as close to magic realism as I’d ever seen in mainstream comics. With an off-kilter humor – the Human Torch showing up in a tight t-shirt reading “Bad!” – twisted romance, and psychodrama. Her writing was like nothing else on the stands.

A huge thanks to the editors and publishers behind the scenes who made a ton of great comics happen: Jenette Kahn, cat yronwode, Diana Schutz, Louise Jones/Simonson, Ann Nocenti, Shelly Bond, Alisa Kwitney, and most especially the inestimable Karen Berger.

Troy: It was a bit short lived, but I think there was a Defender’s title by Cullen Bunn about Valkyrie being tasked with assembling Midgard’s Valkyrie. Fear Itself the Fearless was kind of the prelude series to that. I really would have loved to see this series fleshed out.

monstress #5 featured

Madison: It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with Monstress and Bitch Planet. They’re not for everyone, but they’re two of my go-to recommendations for people who love science fiction or fantasy. Elizabeth Breitweiser, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Jordie Bellaire consistently blow me away with their incredible colors.

Brett: I’m slightly obsessed with M. Goodwin’s Tomboy which is published by Action Lab: Danger Zone. The series follows a teenage girl whose best friend is murdered in a corrupt cop/conspiracy and she gets posessed by an avenging ghost in a way. Think Kick-Ass but a teenage girl in the lead and a manga influence to it all. An amazing mix of horror, action, and manga the hero Addison is a teenager that can kick ass and get some vengeance.

Dark Horse Announces Berger Books, Edited by Legendary Karen Berger

karen-bergerKaren Berger, the legendary, award-winning comic book editor and founder of DC Comics’ influential imprint Vertigo, will acquire, edit, and oversee Berger Books, a new line of creator-owned comic books and graphic novels to be published by Dark Horse Comics. The announcement of Berger Books was made at ComicsPRO, the comic book industry retailer event, where Berger was named the winner of the ComicsPRO Industry Appreciation Award earlier today.

There’ll be more news down the road but is a hell of an announcement. Berger recently returned to comics editing the Image Comics series Surgeon X.

Berger founded Vertigo in 1993 and led the line for twenty years, during which time she oversaw over three hundred properties, including Sandman, V for Vendetta, Preacher, Swamp Thing, Fables, Hellblazer, Y: The Last Man, and 100 Bullets.

As the editor of Berger Books, Berger will continue to work from her home on the East Coast. Berger Books will be branded with both the Berger Books and the Dark Horse Comics logos. Like all Dark Horse books, Berger Books will be distributed by Penguin Random House.

Listen to Karen Berger Talk Her Return to Comics and Surgeon X on Demand

On demand: iTunes ¦ Sound Cloud ¦ Stitcher ¦ Listed on podcastdirectory.com

September saw the release of the first issue of Surgeon X, a new series written by Sara Kenney with art by John Watkiss. The comic series also sees the return of legendary editor Karen Berger.

The series dives into real world medicine and issues, along with a companion app, we talk to Berger about her return to comics, the challenges of this particular comic and its app, and her insights into the comic industry.

Karen is the award-winning and founding editor of the Vertigo imprint of DC Comics. As an industry leader of creative risk-taking and innovative comics storytelling in a wide range of genre fiction, Karen led Vertigo for 20 years, transforming the comics medium by publishing many of the most acclaimed and best-selling comics and graphic novels in the past two decades: Sandman, V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing, Preacher, Fables, Hellblazer, Y–the Last Man, 100 Bullets, The Invisibles, and Transmetropolitan.

Twitter: @karenpberger

Karen Berger Talks Her Return to Comics and Surgeon X with Graphic Policy Radio this Monday

surgeonx_01-1September saw the release of the first issue of Surgeon X, a new series written by Sara Kenney with art by John Watkiss. The comic series also sees the return of legendary editor Karen Berger.

The show airs LIVE this Monday at 10pm ET on Graphic Policy Radio.

Surgeon X dives into real world medicine and issues, along with a companion app, we talk to Berger about her return to comics, the challenges of this particular comic and its app, and her insights into the comic industry.

Karen is the award-winning and founding editor of the Vertigo imprint of DC Comics. As an industry leader of creative risk-taking and innovative comics storytelling in a wide range of genre fiction, Karen led Vertigo for 20 years, transforming the comics medium by publishing many of the most acclaimed and best-selling comics and graphic novels in the past two decades: Sandman, V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing, Preacher, Fables, Hellblazer, Y–the Last Man, 100 Bullets, The Invisibles, and Transmetropolitan.

Twitter: @karenpberger

We want to hear from you. Tweet us your thoughts to @graphicpolicy.

Listen to the show LIVE this Monday.

Surgeon X is a Cut Above the Rest and Sells Out

Image Comics has announced that the highly anticipated new series by Sara Kenney, John Watkiss, and edited by industry legend Karen Berger, Surgeon X, launched to overwhelming critical acclaim and is being sent back to print in order to keep up with increasing customer demand.

Surgeon X explores a bleak future where a far-right British government, an antibiotic apocalypse, and a gruesome murder result in the birth of Surgeon X and her renegade practice. Extreme times call for extreme medicine.

Kenney, acclaimed documentary, factual drama, and animation filmmaker, master artist Watkiss and Berger, award-winning and Vertigo-founding editor, have stitched together a unique, darkly comic medical thriller, which will horrify and delight in equal measure.

Surgeon X #1, 2nd printing (Diamond Code AUG168926) and Surgeon X #2 (Diamond Code AUG160672) will be available on Wednesday, October 26th.

surgeon-x-1-2nd-printing

« Older Entries