Category: Fantasy Realms


Review by C.J. Bunce

The Forgotten Realms have never been more fun, as the familiar setting continues to expand and flesh out fun characters like warrior Minsc and miniature giant space hamster Boo, half-elf/thief/poet Krydle, cleric Nerys Kathon, halfling rogue Shandie Freefoot, and Delina, the young moon elf wild magesorcerer, all in the pages of IDW comics.  Writer Jim Zub is back partnering with artist Max Dunbar in Dungeons & Dragons: Infernal Tides IDW Publishing and Wizards of the Coast have brought forward the best from the D&D game books and card games, and combined good fantasy storytelling with classic artwork like you’d find in D&D manuals and great humor fantasy like Mike Wieringo’s Tellos.  It’s also the closest thing to Don Bluth’s video game Dragon’s Lair since Dragon’s Lair.  The latest D&D graphic novel and next adventure in Baldur’s Gate arrives in comic shops and online stores this week.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The Forgotten Realms have never been more fun.  Writer Jim Zub has partnered with artists Max Dunbar & John-Paul Bove, Nelson Daniel, Thiago Ribeiro, Milen Parvanov, and Glauber Matos in a huge compilation book, Dungeons & Dragons: Days of Endless Adventure IDW Publishing and Wizards of the Coast have brought forward the best from the D&D game books and card games, and combined good fantasy storytelling with classic artwork like you’d find in both D&D manuals or J.R.R. Tolkien’s magical worlds, with humor similar to Mike Wieringo’s Tellos.  Best yet, it features the Dungeon Mayhem’s Minsc and his trusty partner hamster Boo, meaning lots of bravery (and laughs) await you.

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A secret project nearly three years in the making was shared this month with the announcement of a tribute to the artist who created the fantasy comic book series Tellos.  Artist Mike Wieringo, a friend of many, died from a heart attack in 2007 and the industry banded together as the “Secret Friends of Ringo” led by Tellos writer Todd Dezago to create a heretofore undisclosed tribute project and give something to one of Wieringo’s favorite causes in the process.  The Mike Wieringo Tellos Tribute is a giant 500 page, original graphic novel to be released in two over-sized, hardcover volumes.   It features the artwork of more than 200 of the comics industry’s most popular and talented artists, dedicated to the memory of Wieringo, with all proceeds from this project being donated to the ASPCA.

The Mike Wieringo Tellos Tribute continues the adventures of characters in the original Tellos series created by Wieringo and Dezago and published by Image Comics (and briefly by Gorilla Comics): Jarek—a young hero with “magikal” abilities, Koj—a tiger-warrior who is Jarek’s partner and protector, Serra—the swashbuckling pirate queen, and Rikk—the fox-thief bent on finding his fortune.  The original comic book series of ten issues ran from 1999 to 2000.  Three one-shot issues followed:  Maiden Voyage, The Last Heist, and Sons and Moons, followed by a three-issue mini-series, Tales of Tellos, in 2004.  Not long before he passed away, Wieringo had talked about working on a new Tellos.

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You can only order the books at this link.  Because of they way the group is providing the proceeds to the ASPCA, these books will not be available through any other source.

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This past February we reported writer/artist Stan Sakai would be bringing his world of the swordsrabbit Miyamoto Usagi to IDW Publishing with stories old and new.  That begins tomorrow with the first issue of the new three-part, full-color series–yep, the black and white comic will be in full color for the first time, written, drawn, and lettered by comics legend Sakai with colors by Tom Luth (Groo the Wanderer).  Readers will catch up with Usagi caught-up in his own new drama set during the Edo period of 17th century Japan.  The first story, titled “Bunraku,” a word for Japanese puppetry, captures many elements that make the world of Usagi Yojimbo unique: adventure filled with culture, folklore, and history.  IDW also plans to bring all 35 years of Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo stories into new collected editions.  So Issue #1 of Usagi Yojimbo: Bunraku is only the beginning.

First published in 1984, Usagi Yojimbo garnered five Eisner Awards for Sakai, the 2014 Inkwell Award, 2007 Harvey Award, 2002 National Cartoonists Society Comic Book Division Awards, and the Cultural Ambassador Award from the Japanese American Museum.  Haven’t checked out Usagi Yojimbo yet?  The humor is similar to Mike Norton’s Battlepug, or Mike Wieringo’s Tellos, full of action, classic Conan, Tarzan, John Carter-level adventure, with the epic feel of Akira Kurosawa and Hayao Miyazaki.  Note: Another book is now available for pre-order from Sakai’s earlier publisher.  Last week Dark Horse Comics announced Usagi Yojimbo: 35 Years of Covers, a complete hardcover collection of Sakai’s greatest covers (you can pre-order it now here at Amazon).

Usagi Yojimbo #1 will be released in a main cover by Sakai, plus variants by Daniel Warren Johnson–1:10 retailer incentive, Kevin Eastman–1:50 retailer incentive, comics legend Walt Simonson–1:25 retailer incentive, and a two-part Sakai cover that connects with Ragnarok: The Breaking of Helheim, Issue #1, plus store exclusives from Buzz (500, Legends), Maria Caligari (500, AOD Collectables), J. Scott Campbell (color or B&W, Comics & Ponies), Mike Choi (logo–600, virgin–200, Collector’s Paradise, Knowhere), Chris Johnson (1,000, Brave New World), Alex Kotkin (Excelsior), Linh Nguyen (Incredible Con), Ian Nichols (w/Tick, 500, New England), Tessa Rose (1,000, Jak’s), blank cover from Sakai for use with watercolors, another Sakai cover (500, Other Realms), Julie Sakai (500, Dogū), Mike Vasquez (500, Frankie’s Comics), and the great Charles Vess (color–750, B&W–500, HeroesCon).

Here’s a preview of Usagi Yojimbo–Bunraku, Issue #1, plus previews of the covers for Issues #2 and #3, and all 24 variants for Issue #1, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s a comic book nearly two years in the making.  Or maybe 27 years.  And it may be the best single comic book issue of the year.  But as strange as the tale between the covers, the story of its creators is stranger still.  What you probably know is this:  In 1984 Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird published a single issue comic called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Intended as a spoof-parody-mash-up concoction of Marvel’s Daredevil and The New Mutants, Frank Miller’s Ronin, and Dave Sim’s Cerebus, the book sparked something much bigger for readers, becoming one of the most popular franchises for a few generations of readers and cartoon watchers (not to mention the impact it had via toys and movie tie-ins).  A couple unrelated–short-lived–parody spin-offs of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came and went unrelated to Eastman and Laird, including Pre-Teen Dirty-Gene Kung-Fu Kangaroos and Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters.

What you don’t know is that eight years after the Turtles saw their first comic–in 1992–comic creators Shane Bookman and his brother Paul released their scrappy indie creation on the unsuspecting comic book universe: Radically Rearranged Ronin Ragdolls Like Eastman and Laird, the Bookmans had their own share of ups and downs, tales of fame and fortune (evidently Eastman sold off his rights to the Turtles some 20 years ago, etc.).  So in 2017 Eastman and writer David Avallone and artist Ben Bishop (with Troy Little, Brittany Peer, Tomi Varga, and Taylor Esposito) took the Bookmans’ story to Kickstarter, and nearly 1,200 backers brought in more than $100,000.  Now it’s all done, first to tell the Bookmans’ story in a new monthly comic beginning this past week called Drawing Blood, and at the same time with a companion comic they created and discussed in their comic industry exploits, Radically Rearranged Ronin Ragdolls, Issue #1.

 

The result?  Radically Rearranged Ronin Ragdolls is an idea as good as any Turtles tale you’ve read, and as finely crafted an origin story, full of action, top-notch writing, beautiful layouts, and exciting new characters: referred to as the Ragdolls (from the cat breed), they are three female cats who encounter gamma rays, cosmic rays, genetic mutagens, and who knows what other comic book superpower trigger was tapped, to become Tezuka, Otomo, and Miyazaki.  Speaking, Ronin-trained, defender cats.  Otomo is the most fearsome, Miyazaki speaks in Haiku poems, and Tezuka is a master tactician.

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Named after the late beloved comic book creator Mike Wieringo, the first ever ‘Ringo! Awards were presented during an irreverent and humor-filled ceremony Saturday night at the end of the second day of Baltimore Comic-Con 2017.  This year the annual Harvey Awards were renamed in Wieringo’s honor.  Wieringo was an artist best known for his work on DC Comics’ The Flash, Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four, and his co-creation Tellos (discussed earlier this year here at borg.com).

Voters from more than 100 countries selected the nominees and winners were picked from a final ballot by members of the comic book industry creative community.  Presenters last night included Mark Waid, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Amy Chu, Tom Brevoort, Walter and Louise Simonson, Terry and Robyn Moore, Kazu Kibuishi, Charlie Kochman, Lora Innes, Thom Zahler, Todd Dezago, and Craig Rousseau, with a keynote speech provided by multiple Eisner Award winner and Mouse Guard creator and David Petersen.

The ceremony provided two Hero Initiative awards, the Dick Giordano Humanitarian Award to Joshua Dysart, and the Lifetime Achievement Award to Marv WolfmanMultiple winners included John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell for their civil rights story March: Book III, winning for Best Original Graphic Novel and Best Non-Fiction Comic Work, and Skottie Young, recognized as Best Cartoonist and for his I Hate Fairyland as Best Humor Comic.

Darryl (DMC/Darryl Makes Comics) McDaniels awards Best Cover Artist ‘Ringo! Award to Frank Cho.

Here is the list of winners selected from the final ballot:

Best Cover Artist–Frank Cho (who accepted the award singing the “Thank You Very Much” song from Oliver)

Best Series–Vision (Marvel Comics)

Best Letterer–Todd Klein

Best Colorist–Laura Martin

Best Humor Comic–I Hate Fairyland, Skottie Young, Jean-Francois Beaulieu (Image Comics)

Best Original Graphic Novel–March: Book III, John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell (Top Shelf Productions)

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