VAULT COMICS Wasted Space, These Savage Shores, Heathen, Maxwell’s Demons, Fissure, Queen of Bad Dreams (the entirety of Vault’s line is on my pull list)
*She Said Destroy, Resonant, Test, Sera and the Royal Stars are pre-ordered
ARCHIE COMICS Blossom: 666, Jughead VS Vamperonica
ONI Shadow Roads AFTERSHOCK A Walk Through Hell BOOM Bone Parish, The Empty Man, Black Badge DARK HORSE Black Hammer ’45 IMAGE DIE, Evolution, Death or Glory, Infinite Dark, The Freeze MARVEL Amazing/Superior/Spectacular/Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman, Immortal Hulk, Conan, Savage Sword of Conan, X-Force, Guardians of the Galaxy, Invaders
SCOUT *Metal Shark Bro is pre-ordered
Publisher Count: 10 Title Count: 30 active 5 pre-ordered Most Titles by Creator: 4 – Cullen Bunn Big 2 Count: 10 active (6 without Spidey books) Indie Count: 20 active 5 pre-ordered
Vita Ayala The Wilds (one of our Top Comics for 2018) – Submerged – Livewire It has been an absolute pleasure reading more and more work coming from Vita. From the fresh take that is THE WILDS to reinvigorating a decades old character in LIVEWIRE, Vita has trail-blazed a path cutting right through the heart of the comic industry. It isn’t just the quality with which the stories are written but the range of issues that are tackled with which readers can relate. Everything from self and mob mentality, social interactions, abuse, and abandonment are just a few of the real world aspects of life that are contained in Vita’s writings. I’m very excited about what is coming and what will be told.
I absolutely loved Bombshells. It was a breath of pure, fresh air. It isn’t all that easy to create stories with alternate versions of characters that aren’t just “different” because “different.” The entirety of the ‘Bombshell-verse’ was down right enjoyable on every level. It was Animosity though that showed the creative depth Marguerite possesses. The critical and fan acclaim for the book speaks volumes and says it all. I’m itching to get my hands on the HC collected editions so I can go back and sit with this book. When they originally hit I was just happy to have some spotlight shown on Angela with her own dedicated stories. Looking back at them and putting them together with Marguerite’s other writings and I’m loving the themes contained in her stories.
Cullen Bunn Bone Parish (one of our Top Comics for 2018) – Dark Ark (one of our Top Comics for 2018) – Shadow Roads
The absolute modern master of horror is who we’re dealing with here. For me the diversity he brings to the horror genre is without parallel. Two books he’s got on the shelves right now are a prime example of this. Religious tones in Dark Ark give way to beasts and happenings that scare even the monsters of the old world while Bone Parish brings psychological and physical horror to the drug trade trope. Cullen isn’t all horror though. Taking the supernatural cue from his mega hit The Sixth Gun, he’s spun off an equally impressive story in Shadow Roads. Honestly I don’t think there’s a character type or story direction that he can’t tackle and make his own with top tier results. Cullen needs to be on more books, in my opinion.
Tini Howard Euthanauts – Assassinistas – The Skeptics
I love Cold War ere stories and takes. This was my introduction to Tini. For me it was brilliant (Cold War and potential WWIII as the backdrop for a super power story that wasn’t at all) little tale exposing the brains over brawn process with a new little twist. My biggest take from the book was “personality” and that is a constant in Tini written books. From the characters to the scope of the books (seriously, dive into Euthanauts) Tini excels at both creating AND drawing out the personality of the characters and stories within the pages of the books. It’s uncanny. You certainly will not be wishing there was ‘more’ contained within the pages Tini writes.
Michael Moreci Wasted Space (one of our Top Comics for 2018) – Roche Limit – ReincarNATE
Michael has exploded onto the scene (for me) by being able to take classic genre points and making them seem brand freaking new. The latest from him, Wasted Space, is THE poster for creating a brand new epic saga. It isn’t just all fun, bad assery, and fuq-bots though as Michael deals with rather heavy themes. He’s used to that though as he’s penned a deep thought sci-fi book before in Roche Limit. My first exposure to his work though was with ReincarNATE. This is a wonderful crime-noir entry that uses sci-fi as a backdrop but offers up so much more to both genres. Moreci already has a bona-fide super hit on his hands and appears to be just getting started.
Alex Paknadel Friendo (top comics of 2018 mention) – Turncoat – Arcadia
So Alex is riding a rocket straight into the stratosphere of comic writing. His first entry to writing is the overbearing concept of humanity, morality, and pretty much everything in between. Arcadia is as ambitious of a concept as any seasoned writer has attempted and Paknadel knocked it out of the park as his opening salvo to the comic world. Currently he’s about to wrap up a literal throat punch of the corporatism and superficial greed infecting human kind in Friendo. He’s also managed to weave an excellent noir cop tale using the setting of a failed alien occupation of Earth. Yeah. Oh, and he was given the reigns to THE keystone book in Catalyst Prime’s heroic universe (as it’s being built). Take notice folks.
Eliot Rahal Hot Lunch Special (top comics of 2018 mention) – The Paybacks – Quantum & Woody
Gritty, dirty, and humorous. Kind of an odd combination but perfectly fitting for Eliot. The stories he creates clearly have some personal strings woven in and it is that extra layer that makes his writing so enjoyable. Hot Lunch Special (a favorite book of mine from 2018) exemplifies this. Being just as effective and skilled with dark and seedy along with funny and care free is really hard to do. There’s not even so much as a hiccup when going from HLS to either The Paybacks or Q&W. It all feels genuine when Eliot is writing and that endears the reader to his writings. It’s what hooked me.
Astonishing XMen – Kingpin – Multiple Man It’s really just the overall talent that draws me to Rosenberg’s books. Taking over from Soule on an Xbook was a hard ask but not here. Rosenberg elevated what was built and delivered such a wonderful Xtale that he was given the reigns to the new Uncanny. That’s good because the Xcharacters need to go back to what makes them tick and THAT is exactly what Rosenberg nails with his work. He did it with Kingpin and was able to draw it out of a ‘insert letter of the alphabet here’ character in Multiple Man. Building the stories OUT OF, not around, the characters is the heart of comic writing and I’m not sure there’s anyone better currently.
Christopher Sebela Evolution (one of our Top Comics for 2018) – Shanghai Red – High Crimes
Reading Sebela’s work brings the world REAL to mind. Sitting there turning page after page and I’m not so sure I’m reading a story but an account of events. Evolution strikes that chord through Dr Hurley’s plight. Sebela has also given us a fallen hero caught up in government cover ops (High Crimes) who’s plight is painstakingly familiar. Smash hit Shanghai Red delivers a reality that the world we live in today isn’t all that far removed from in the grand scheme of things. The approach is visceral and it resonates. The stories from Sebela stick with you long after you’ve set the book down.
Ram V These Savage Shores (top comics of 2018 mention) – Paradiso – Grafity’s Wall
Utter brilliance in writing is what comes to mind with Ram. His ability to craft worlds of rich and deep beauty are in a category to itself. The difference in scope couldn’t be further away than These Savage Shores is to Paradiso, but the breadth and scope of these worlds are equally as rich. I’m amazed at the detail and how grand the presentation is in Ram’s writing. He’s also done it with taking his own experiences and presenting the universal struggle all young people face in Grafity’s Wall. I cannot help but feel enriched after taking in pages written by Ram.
WAILING BLADE #1 Rich Douek – Joe Mulvey – Chris Sotomayor – Jules Rivera – Taylor Esposito
This brutal tale of kick ass is brought to you by the ComixTribe. It should be no surprise that this Heavy Metal-esque poetry of punishment comes from this outfit. Yes, you know ComixTribe … they brought you the creator owned favorite SINK! If ever a title was perfect for a publisher, this is it.
HOLY $#!^ … This IS sci-fi fantastical wonderment! I cannot help but be transported back to 1980 something watching a gruesome post apocalyptic tale riddled with harsh circumstances and even harsher realities. As I read through each page I was just giddy with the brutal, metal nature of this tale. What’s more, is that the book opened up with a sequence reminiscent to the opening montage of an industrial tragedy that fills you with dread and hopelessness in the face of what you’ll have to eventually come to deal with. The executioner and his blade are iconic in both look and feel.
Beyond the heavy metal exterior there is a very fine tale of actions and consequences. The root cause of bad things happening is almost always us, as people. Now, the current situation isn’t given much back story but there are hints to where this world has come from. Man has fallen from the stars and the blade itself is a remnant of technologies that existed before. Something pretty tragic had to have happened for the oppressive ruler Tyrant to have his heavy hand suffocating everything and everyone. The setting though, adds the backdrop for the razor thin margin of living. This allows us as the reader to feel the gravity of the error made by Tychon (son) as he goes against the advice of Auros (father). It isn’t just a simple set up, but rather, a grand illustration of the dire plight facing everyone in the pages of Wailing Blade.
The story has given us plenty already and very clearly defines that there is MUCH MORE going on. The best illustration of this, to me, is the revelation we get in regards to the Executioner. Yes the one that wields the blade is everything the legend speaks to, BUT the eyes under the mask tell a much deeper tale. Of course, the last panel of the book makes it very clear that we’ve only just begun. I can’t help but wonder about the grander tale behind all of this. The crafting that has been done in bringing this world to life is very clearly large in scope. The way the narrative is driven is rather point blank while remaining careful not to rush just to get from point to point. Every scene within the panels is treated with care and details are everywhere. You don’t do this if you’re just writing an arcade button masher of a book (though it would still be glorious if this were the case). From the line art to the colors this world is crafted with care. There’s a focus and point to have certain things stand out (the blade, the executioner, the remaining technology) but not so much that they feel out of place or unbelievable in the setting we’re given. All of the details are woven together to create something special. The lettering doesn’t just lend to, but purposefully injects building blocks into the world (the wail of the blade being a part of the blade itself). The pieces stand on their own before coming together to make a perfect final product for the brutal, blunt force tale being told.
I could go on, but quite honestly you need to see it for yourself. Go over to Kickstarter and look over the project. Of a rather BIG NOTE on this project the price/reward structure is flat out astounding! You are going to get some serious swag bang for your buck.
Q/A WITH RICH DOUEK
Q – Ok, where in the blue perfect hell did this story come from? What was the birth of all of this?
Douek – It pretty much started when one of my favorite classic sci-fi authors, Jack Vance, passed away in 2013. When I heard about it, I reread his Dying Earth books, which are a really cool blend of fantasy and science fiction, and it inspired me to start working on a story in a similar setting; a point so far in the future it’s almost unrecognizable as our own world. There were a lot of other infuences, and things I added on my own, but that was the seed.
Q – Immediately upon seeing the images I was thrust back to my childhood. 80’s sci-fi and post-apocalyptic movies mashed up all sorts non-sensical pieces to make an underbelly genre that worked. Wailing Blade thrusts me right back to being a kid for all the right reasons. Was the environment of WB built specifically or did it grow around the story as it came together?
Douek – Part of it grew organically, but I grew up on 80s sci-fi and post apocalyptic stuff too, so that stuff is definitely in Wailing Blade’s DNA. I think a lot of my influences for this came from classic sword and sorcery, stuff like Conan and Elric, but also from crazy 80s cartoons like Thundarr the Barbarian, and Masters of the Universe. A bit of Mad Max, too, though you won’t see many cars in this world!
Q – The Blade itself. I mean come on. Just, how? Symbolic or intended to be the the “IT” factor. Sure, the book is named for it but did that come about as it grew or was that the aim all along?
Douek – Tough one! Because I’m not sure I can explain the origins of the blade without giving away things about the story I’d rather keep secret for now. I will say that yes, it was always a part of the story I wanted to tell here, and it is meant to be symbolic in a way. We kind of touch on in the first few pages why it wails – or at least why everyone in that world thinks it does. But, in the story, the blade has been around for centuries, and has accumulated as many legends about it as lives it has taken. And there’s definitely a reason the title is centered around the blade, and not the person wielding it.
Q – The only thing I’ve read recently that even comes to mind as being close to this is Atomahawk. Even that isn’t the brutal, over the top, full metal awesome that Wailing Blade is. As the story unfolded was there a goal to make it as unique as possible or was that just a very happy end point of the project playing itself out?
Douek – Wow! That’s a really nice comparison. I love Donny Cates’ work, and Atomahawk is totally up there for me as an example of the kind of over-the-top action we’re going for. As for the question of uniqueness, I’d say that for sure, it’s something we were striving for. I know that when I started talking to Joe about his designs for the book, one of the things he stressed was that he wanted everything – from the costumes right down to the trees and bushes, to look unique to this world, and unique to comics in general. So that was definitely the intent, and as we worked together, and with Chris Sotomayor and Taylor Esposito, we kept feeding off each other and trying to make everything look unique and dynamic.
Q – This is a very big book with a bold scope. Just how big is the Wailing Blade universe? Is the hyper focused first issue setting the stage for a much broader arena?
Douek – Not going to lie, it’s pretty big. If you look at the map we included in the first issue, you’ll see that the Tyrant’s empire spans an entire continent. And there’s a whole world, and universe beyond that. We have a story in mind that will carry far, far beyond this first series, and, if we are able to financially, we could keep this going for years and years. Just a small example of what I’m talking about – the Wailing Blade and the Headtaker are the most famous of the Tyrant’s executioners, but they’re not the only ones. We’ll meet a second one before this series is done, but there are even more than that, and they all have a part to play in the tales we want to tell in this world.
Q – I have to give you recognition for the absolutely insane reward/price point structure on the Kickstarter campaign. There is some excellent swag regardless of how much, or not, you’re able to kick in as a backer. How were you able to do this?
Douek – For that, I have to give all the credit to Tyler James, our publisher at Comixtribe. Tyler’s practically made a second career of studying what works, and what doesn’t when it comes to comics and Kickstarter. He runs a podcast called Comixlaunch where the whole focus is on strategies creators can use to make sure they run a campaign that’s great for them, and their backers – so there are a ton of lessons he’s learned over the years that we applied to this. But a big part of what you’re talking about is a commitment from all of us to provide a great experience to everyone who picks up the book, no matter what format they’re reading in, or how much they kick in.
THERE YOU HAVE IT FOLKS! Click below to go straight to the campaign and get on board!
VAULT COMICS Wasted Space, Friendo, These Savage Shores, Fearscape, Heathen, Maxwell’s Demons, Fissure
(the entirety of Vault’s line is on my pull list)
ARCHIE COMICS Jughead: The Hunger, Blossom: 666 *Jughead VS Vamperonica is pre-ordered
ONI Shadow Roads AFTERSHOCK Dark Ark, Hot Lunch Special, A Walk Through Hell BOOM Bone Parish, The Empty Man, Black Badge DARK HORSE Death Orb
*Black Hammer ’45 is pre-ordered IMAGE Criminal, DIE, Evolution, Death or Glory, Infinite Dark,The Freeze, Cold Spots*
(there’s more to the story for Cold Spots but for now it is done)
DC Young Justice MARVEL Amazing/Superior/Spectacular/Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman, Immortal Hulk, Conan, X-Force, Asgardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy, Invaders
*Savage Sword of Conan is pre-ordered
*Metal Shark Bro is pre-ordered
*Transformers is pre-ordered
*Red Sonja is pre-ordered Publisher Count: 11 Title Count: 36 active 6 pre-ordered Most Titles by Creator: 6 – Cullen Bunn Big 2 Count: 11 active (7 without Spidey books) 1 pre-ordered Indie Count: 25 active 5 pre-ordered
Richard Mo – Tony Gregori – Claudia Aguirre – Ryan Ferrier – Kim McLean
Tony Gregori is quickly becoming my favorite artist if he’s not already captured that title. I’ve watched the last couple of years as his style has remained clearly identifiable while growing leaps and bounds. This book is a delight on several fronts. It takes a truism of today (app life) and brings it into the heart and soul of comicdom. We get a fantastic voyage that is full of cooky, crazy fun that also delivers a wonderfully written story.
I love the complexity in the book as it mixes several elements in the batter yet still yields a very even tasting final product. There is obviously a social commentary aspect with the entirety of the app based plot point. Taking that and merging it with the absurdity (in a good way) of comic books was quite fun. An app that grants a superhuman ability? A video game type of buff? That’s straight comic book at its finest. Yes, yes there’s clearly a tongue in cheek yet clear message about a particular part of today’s culture BUT it is merely a wonderfully crazy backdrop for the … er, heart of the book. Those afore mentioned elements are woven by Gregori’s art into a very eye catching visualization of a vanity and ‘how can I up myself’ driven society. As insanely rich as the presentation is, the true to each of us narrative isn’t overpowered.
Yes, I’ll say it one more time. Gregori and Aguirre’s work in this book stands on its own. You can flip through the pages just looking at the incredibly rich and wide cast world that they’ve created. As you take it in while reading Mo’s story line you can get a feeling of just how well this creative team works together. The characters are absolutely independent creations and are brought to life in the best possible ways to enrich the book. Sure, there’s some “base level” dudes/dudettes but that’s the point. The expertly portrayed fantasy type characters are equally fantastical as the “base” are base. All of these play perfectly as each of their interactions are as unique as they are as characters. And that, that right there is the crux of the book. Despite the overly sci-fi, fantasy, perfectly comic book cast … the point of it all is about US. Who we are, how we interact, and just what we all come down to when dealing with one another. Ferrier and McLean lend to the characterizations with spot on lettering. As with their looks each character’s dialogue feels personal and comes off as unique to them.
Deuce of Hearts is a wonky ride through who we are, what we do, and how we see and value others. The tale takes a true to form comic book approach in telling us quite a bit about ourselves. Vanity and superficial machinations are all too often in the driver’s seat. Very quickly our past choices and actions catch up to us. We aren’t flawless though and genuinely the truly “bad” folks are outweighed by the good ones. All of us fall flat on our faces at times with our decision making and none of us are perfect by any stretch. The tag line is PERFECT. “Trade up.” Indeed. Throughout life people and relationships are often treated and thought of as nothing but just another currency.
Grab Deuce of Hearts. Read through it and enjoy the superb visual journey. Read through it again and enjoy the superb personal one.