Archive for the ‘Comics/Graphic Novels’ Category

BLACK PANTHER, First Trailer

Monday, June 12th, 2017

The first trailer has been released for Black Panther, the next in the Marvel Comics franchise. The movie doesn’t arrive until Feb. 16 of next year, but the Hollywood Reporter notes the trailer release is timed to the success of another current super-hero movie, to show that “the studio has its own Wonder Woman in waiting.”

Point by point breakdowns of the less than 2 minute teaser, which is trending on YouTube, come from io9, ScreenRant, and New York magazine, particularly noting the images of the Black Panther’s homeland, Wakanda, as well as the Dora Milaje, the all female bodyguards of the Black Panther.

The film stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, the Black Panther, along with Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis.

A couple of tie-ins have already been announced.

World of Reading: Black Panther This is Black Panther (Level 1) by Andy Schmidt (Hachette/Marvel Press)

Black Panther The Battle for Wakanda: A Mighty Marvel Chapter Book by Brandon T. Snider, Michael Dorris (Hachette/Marvel Press – cover not yet released).

Viewers first saw Black Panther in the hugely successful movie Captain America: Civil War,
but long before that film the comics character attracted attention thanks to his revival in Ta-Nehisi Coates’s comics, now collected in
Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book by Ta-Nehisi Coates, illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze (Hachette/Marvel). See our earlier posts for more background.

Later this month, another spin-off of the series arrives in a collaboration between Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxane Gay,  Black Panther: World of Wakanda: Dawn of the Midnight Angels.

Wonder Woman, Origin Story

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

Wonder Woman is capturing more than the bad guys, she is breaking box office records and seizing the cultural moment, causing critics to rave and commentators to comment. She is also triggering a new film, an indie picture about her real-life origins.

Professor Marston & The Wonder Women, written and directed by Angela Robinson (D.E.B.S., The L Word), details the life of Harvard psychologist and writer William Moulton Marston who created the iconic character. Luke Evans (Beauty and the Beast) plays Marston with Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3) as his wife Elizabeth and Bella Heathcote (Fifty Shades Darker) as his former student and their joint lover, Olive. Both women served as models and inspiration for Wonder Woman.

Deadline Hollywood writes “Marston created DC’s iconic Amazonian princess with significant input from Elizabeth having been inspired to do so by Olive – Marston, like Wonder Woman, was profoundly influenced by the feminist ideals espoused by Elizabeth and Olive. ”

A brief, and cryptic trailer has been released and there is an interactive teaser site with the characters drawn in comic style.

Adding a bit more information, The Hollywood Reporter posted the official description:

“In a superhero origin tale unlike any other, is the true story of 1940s Harvard psychologist Dr. William Moulton Marston, the inventor of the lie detector and creator of the iconic Wonder Woman, who defends his feminist superhero against charges of ‘sexual perversity’ while at the same time maintaining a secret that could have destroyed him. Unknown to others, Marston’s inspiration for Wonder Woman was his wife Elizabeth Marston and their lover Olive Byrne, two empowered women in the field of psychology who defied convention, building a secret life together with Marston that rivaled the greatest of superhero disguises.”

ScreenRant says the “the project is still very much in development” and there is no word on a premiere date. In the meantime, VOX and Smithsonian magazine offer further details on Wonder Woman’s origins.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman (PRH/Knopf; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample; 2014) by New Yorker writer Jill Lepore, was described as “the most extensive account ever written of Marston and his milieu, using archival sources that no one else has had access to.”


Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Two years after the controversy over the publication of a newly-discovered manuscript by Harper Lee, comes the announcement of a graphic novel version of To Kill a Mockingbird, to be published by HarperCollins in November of next year. Reporting the story, the Associated press notes, “Lee, who died in 2016, had resisted alternate editions of her book until late in life. Only in 2014 did she permit an e-book of Mockingbird.

Fred Fordham, who illustrated Philip Pullman’s graphic novel The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship (Scholastic/GRAPHIX), will create the new edition.

The Guardian reports that “the Lee estate approached the publisher with the idea of a graphic novel,” and that it is “the latest in a number of posthumous projects based on the work of a writer who was famously shy of publicity,” including a group of tourist attractions  set to open later this year in the author’s home town of Monroeville, Alabama.

MONSTERS, Raves and Film Rights

Friday, March 31st, 2017

9781606999592_9d70dTerry Gross opened yesterday’s episode of Fresh Air by saying, “I just read a great book.”

That statement and the following interview sent My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris (Norton/Fantagraphics), soaring on Amazo’s sales rankings to #19.

Following up on an earlier rave by reviewer John Powers on Fresh Air, Gross describes the author’s personal horror story. Nearly dying after being infected with the West Nile virus, she was paralyzed for some time and now depends on canes to walk.

The disease also brings on delusions and hallucinations, which became inspirations for the book. She describes one that is both scary and humorously unnerving,

“The angel of death came to visit … as I saw it in my fever, [it] was a very big, 1940s kind of a gray/teal/blue filing cabinet, and it was sort of a bureaucrat and it just came into the room and spoke. One of the drawers slightly opened and there was this sort of glowing light inside of it and it said, ‘Are you in or are you out? We need to know for our records.’”

As we posted earlier, the book has received appreciation from other quarters. The NYT describes it as “blood-tingling,” full of “grisly delights,” oozing “with the secrets and hungers that shadow childhood.”

Françoise Mouly, the influential art editor of The New Yorker and co-founder of the comics magazine Raw, sets the story up, saying Ferris’s “mastery of comics, her pyrotechnic drawings, and her nested narratives are already placing her among the greatest practitioners of the form.”

Coincidentally, it was announced late yesterday that Sony won the film rights over four other studios an auction.

SOONISH Sells Fast

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

9780399563829A graphic nonfiction work is zooming up Amazon’s sales rankings, Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve and/or Ruin Everything (PRH/Penguin, October 17, 2017; ISBN 9780399563829), well in advance of its October release date..

Created by Zach Weinersmith, who writes the webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and has over 100,000 followers on Twitter, it is co-written with his wife, Dr. Kelly Weinersmith, an Adjunct Faculty in the BioSciences Department at Rice University and the cohost of the podcast Science… Sort Of.

Comics Beat says to think about it as “sort of in the vein of Randall Munro’s immensely popular science books, if by that you mean a book about science by a webcomics superstar.”

Weinersmith ran a pre-order book promotion on his site, promising to do certain feats if the book hit #1 on Amazon, such as eat an entire peanut butter pie.

The book reached #3 yesterday, saving him from having to consume the pie. It marks, however, a very impressive rise on Amazon, going from “no ranking” to #3  within just a few hours.


Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

9781606999592_9d70dAn out-of-the blue debut graphic novel is sweeping the industry, being compared to the greats in the field and rising on Amazon’s sales rankings.

On NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris (Norton/Fantagraphics) reviewer John Powers says “this extraordinary book has instantly rocketed Ferris into the graphic novel elite alongside Art Spiegelman, Alison Bechdel and Chris Ware. You see, she’s produced something rare, a page-turning story whose pages are so brilliantly drawn you don’t want to turn them.”

The story is set in in Chicago in the nineteen-sixties and features a ten-year old girl named Karen Reyes who investigates the death of a neighbor, a Holocaust survivor. Powers says that Ferris uses the story to explore “the idea of monstrousness, from the small-scale cruelties of schoolyard bullying to Nazi death camps. Along the way, Karen learns to see a difference between what she calls ‘good monsters’ who are scary because they’re, quote, ‘weird looking and fangy’ and so-called ‘bad monsters.’ They’re scary because they want everyone to be scared so they can control them.”

Also covered in the NYT ‘s Art and Design section, it is described as “blood-tingling,” full of “grisly delights,” oozing “with the secrets and hungers that shadow childhood.” Art Spiegelman (Maus) tells the paper that “Emil Ferris is one of the most important comics artists of our time … She uses the sketchbook idea as a way to change the grammar and syntax of the comics page … And she came out of nowhere. Until recently, no one was aware of Emil — including Emil.”

The New Yorker offers an excerpt. Françoise Mouly, the influential art editor of the magazine and co-founder of the comics magazine Raw sets the story up, saying Ferris’s “mastery of comics, her pyrotechnic drawings, and her nested narratives are already placing her among the greatest practitioners of the form.”


John Lewis On The MARCH

Friday, November 18th, 2016

9781603093958_0e365Winning the National Book Award has sent the March trilogy, by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf) zooming on Amazon, jumping from #1,321 to #17.

The individual volumes are all soaring up the sales ranks as well, each leapfrogging over a thousand other titles.

It has also resulted in a glowing NYT book review: “The three volumes of March … aren’t just a record of Lewis’s activism but one of its brilliant examples, designed to help new generations of readers visualize the possibilities of political engagement.”

The review continues, saying the comics are a:

“galvanizing account of [Lewis’s] coming-of-age in the movement, it’s a capsule lesson in courage of conscience, a story that inspires without moralizing or simplifying in hindsight … Emphasizing disruption, decentralization and cooperation over the mythic ascent of heroic leaders, this graphic novel’s presentation of civil rights is startlingly contemporary. Lewis may be one of the “great men” of the movement, but his memoir is humble and generous.”







Collectively the trilogy has received a number of groundbreaking honors:

March: Book One is a Coretta Scott King honor book, a Margaret A. Edwards honor book, an ALA Notable Children’s Book, and is the first graphic novel to win a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. It was also nominated for three Eisner awards.

March: Book Two won the Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work.

March: Book Three won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. This is the first time a graphic novel has been so honored (there have been graphic novel finalists. Raina Telgemeier’s Ghosts, Scholastic/GRAPHIX, was also a finalist this year).

For just a taste of the power of the comics, see our post on the Congressman’s recent appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Wonder Woman Gets Second Trailer

Friday, November 4th, 2016

The second look at the next comic film adaptation from DC, Wonder Woman, has just been released.

Fans first saw this version of the Amazon princess in Batman v Superman, followed by the Comic-Con trailer in July.

SlashFilm offers a frame-by-frame breakdown of the new trailer, pointing out that the dual-time period movie will tie “into the large DC movie universe and further push us toward [the upcoming film] Justice League.”

Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious franchise) stars while Star Trek‘s Chris Pine co-starts as her romantic interest and ally. Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Lucy Davis, and Danny Huston round out the cast.

The film premieres on June 2, 2017. Tie-ins have yet to be announced.

N.K. Jemisin on Peter S. Beagle and New SFF

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

The 2016 Hugo Award-winning novelist, N.K. Jemisin, returns with another of her NYT‘s columns focused on Science Fiction and Fantasy.

As we have written, she is a demanding and discriminating consumer of fiction. As a critic she is vibrantly engaged and is not willing to let much slide. As a reader she is interested in meaningful content rather than plot, values beautiful language, and appreciates in-depth characterizations. Since last December she has been sharing her views on Science Fiction and Fantasy in the NYT book review column “Otherwordly,” a bi-monthly roundup.

This month she takes on four works, a space opera, a graphic novel, the return of a beloved voice in Fantasy, and creepy speculative fiction.

9781616962449_ff216The work she clearly likes best is the long awaited return of Peter S. Beagle, a favorite of Fantasy readers for books such as The Last Unicorn. His newest novel in 17 years is Summerlong (Tachyon Publications), a contemporary take on the Persephone myth.

Jemisin writes that the characters are “fully textured,” the story is about “how ordinary people change, and are changed by, the numinous,” and the setting is beautifully realized:

“It’s a rare story of summer that feels like the summer — like dreamy intense passions rising and arcing and then spinning away; like beauty underlaid with a tinge of sadness because it is ephemeral. Beagle has captured that seasonal warmth here, beautifully, magically.”

9781632156945_bb8a6She also writes favorably about Pretty Deadly Volume 2: The Bear by Kelly Sue De Connick with art by Emma Ríos (Image Comics; OverDrive Sample), saying at its core it is “a masterpiece of mythopoeism that many literary fantasists struggle to emulate.”

She describes the story as a “weird western saga [that] gleefully, dreamily fuses a Greek chorus, spaghetti westerns, American trickster tales and creepy Japanese shoujo (girls’) manga.”

She is not a complete fan of the coloring in the comic, but says “This is a minor flaw. Every other element of this tale is a perfectly balanced mixture of the macabre with pure human poignancy. New readers will need Volume 1 too, but the return on investment is more than worthwhile.”

Vol.1 is Pretty Deadly: The Shrike (Image Comics; OverDrive Sample).

The full column is online. it ran in last week’s Sunday Book Review.

LUKE CAGE: To Watch and To Read

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

mv5bmtcymzc1mji5mf5bml5banbnxkftztgwmze4ody2ote-_v1_sy1000_cr007041000_al_The premiere of Netflix’s new 13-episode Luke Cage series, based on the Marvel comics’ character, was so successful that it may have caused the streaming service to go down for two hours on Saturday.

The NYT television critic offers a lukewarm take on the new run, but he is in the minority. Most other critics agree with Deadline Hollywood which calls it “one of the most socially relevant and smartest shows on the small screen you will see this year.”

New York magazine calls the comic book Cage “one of the most important black characters in sequential art,” noting, however, that over his 44-year history, Marvel struggled to “make the character relevant in a world where conceptions of black characters in American pop culture were rapidly evolving.”

screen-shot-2016-09-30-at-12-02-06-pmCharting the character’s evolution in “5 Comics to Read Before You Watch Luke Cage,” New York magazine writes that the first stories, collected in Luke Cage, Hero For Hire vol. 1, represent “Marvel Comics’ blatant attempt to cash in on the Blaxploitation craze.” As a result, the collection is “somewhat awkward to read today, with its urban patois (penned by white men, of course) and simplistic depictions of avarice.”

The Netflix series is quite the opposite. As the show’s creator Ched Hodari Coulter tells Wired magazine in a cover feature on the series, “There have been African ­American super­heroes on our screens before—such as Wesley Snipes’ titular turn in Blade—but Luke Cage is the first to be surrounded by an almost completely black cast and writing team and whose powers and challenges are so explicitly linked to the black experience in America.”

A collection of comics featuring the character was released in August,  Luke Cage: Avenger, (Marvel).

ZITA Blasts Off

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016


Heading off the comic page and onto the silver screen is Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke (Macmillan/First Second; 2/1/11; OverDrive Sample) reports Deadline Hollywood. Fox Animation has acquired rights to the trilogy. Morgan Jurgenson and Alex Ankeles (Robodog) will adapt the books.

The graphic novel trilogy, created by award-winning Hatke, follows the adventures of Zita as she learns to be brave and navigate her far out world. Bleeding Cool lists it as one of the “Essential 8 Comics For Kids,” writing:

“… everything I love about comic books; adventure, humor, humanity and a big heaping dose of wonder … Hatke has made something really special here … original and fun. It’s completely appropriate for kids but like the best stories, I think everyone will appreciate it.”

97815964380649781626720589_8fe46The other books in the trilogy are:

Legends of Zita the Spacegirl (9/4/12; OverDrive Sample)

The Return of Zita the Spacegirl (5/13/14; OverDrive Sample)

Hatke won an Eisner Award for Little Robot. His other books include Nobody Likes a Goblin, and Julia’s House for Lost Creatures.

First Second reports that “Of all our books, Zita the Spacegirl has earned the most fan photos and cosplay” and provides some images to prove it.

Wired interviewed the author shortly after the second book in the trilogy hit shelves (accompanied by bonus illustrations).

Alan Moore, The Interviews

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

9781631491344_48f16Hitting shelves today with a hardy thunk is Jerusalem (Norton/Liveright), Alan Moore’s 1,000-plus page modernist novel that addresses “a secular theory of the afterlife,” the metaphysics of time, and poverty and class. So heavy is it (it is almost 10 inches thick and weighs more than some laptops) that the publisher is offering it in a boxed set of three volumes to make reading it more manageable.

It is fitting then that the most recent interviews with Moore, one published by New York magazine and another by The New York Times are weighty, too.

The New York magazine interview captures the author in a good, if reflective, mood, except for his take on certain comics. Known for many pioneering comics, including The Watchmen (DC Comics), he says, “I am really in a bad mood about superheroes,” and goes on to say about film adaptations that cycle through the same material, “What are these movies doing other than entertaining us with stories and characters that were meant to entertain the 12-year-old boys of 50 years ago?”

Despairing about much of the comic industry and his own role in creating some of the most iconic comics of the past few decades he says “I probably only have about 250 pages of comics left in me to write. With regard to the superhero characters, my opinion is that they were what I was given to play with when I was starting out in the industry. That’s it. It wasn’t as if I had ever expressed any particular desire to do them.”

The NYT caught Moore in a worse mood, one in which he is both evasive and self-indulgent, but did manage to illicit the news that he is currently obsessed with David Foster Wallace and particularly  Infinite Jest.

Embracing GHOSTS

Monday, September 12th, 2016

GhostsGraphic novelist Raina Telgemeier was featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition yesterday, causing her new book Ghosts (Scholastic/GRAPHIX) to jump to #8 on Amazon’s sales rankings.

She tells interviewer Barrie Handyman that she hopes the book will serve as a way to talk to children about a difficult subject, death.

The book will be published tomorrow.

MARCH Continues

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

9781603093958_0e365Congressman John Lewis appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night and talked about his graphic memoir March, set for release next week as a three-volume boxed set, March (Trilogy Slipcase Set), John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf Productions).

He told Colbert that the ten-cent comic Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story served for him as a road map into the Civil Rights movement.

He hopes that March will become the road map for another generation, making history and civil action plain and real, so it “jumps off the pages and sings and dances” for readers.

The pair also talked about the sit-in recently held in Congress to draw attention to gun violence and how it is an example of finding a way to get into what Congressman Lewis calls “good and necessary trouble.”

Be sure to watch the segment to the end — it’s not to be missed.

BLACK PANTHER Takes Another Star Turn

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

5792a1f455b04Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxane Gay are collaborating on a Black Panther spin-off, Black Panther: World of Wakanda, reports The New York Times. The poet Yona Harvey is also writing scripts.

It is the first time Gay will work on a comic, as it was the first time for Coates when he wrote the Black Panther re-launch earlier this year. As we have noted, that comic was a top seller and made King T’Challa of Wakanda a major player in the Marvel universe.

Now Coates is pushing to expand that world, recruiting both Gay and Harvey, says the NYT, because “he thought it was important to have female voices help breathe life into these characters.”

Describing her story in an interview posted on the Marvel site, Gay said: “my book is going to be pretty intimate. There’s going to be all kinds of action, but I’m also really excited to show Ayo and Aneka’s relationship, build on that love story, and also introduce some other members of the Dora Milaje … I love being able to focus on women who are fierce enough to fight but still tender enough to love.” (Ed. note. the Dora Milaje is the security force protecting the Black Panther).

“It’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever done, and I mean that in the best possible way,” she told the NYT, continuing “The opportunity to write black women and queer black women into the Marvel universe, there’s no saying no to that.” In the same Marvel interview Coates says, “Wakanda is a deep, rich world. And I think Roxane is the perfect person to begin the literary excavations.”

As for Harvey, Coates told the NYT, “I have found that poetry is so correlated with writing comic books … That’s just so little space, and you have to speak with so much power. I thought she’d be a natural.” Her first story will be a “10-page second story … about Zenzi, a female revolutionary who incited a riot in the first issue of the Black Panther series.”

The Verge reports that “Coates recruited Gay and Harvey personally, and emphasized the importance of having diversity both on the page and on the payroll at Marvel.”

The start of the spin-off series is expected this November.