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Tag Archive: Abstract Studios


Skybourne Baltimore variant cover Frank Cho     Motor Girl 1 Terry Moore

Two of the big five comic book writer/artists known particularly for their renderings of women are each launching creator-owned series this year.  Eisner and Harvey Award winner Frank Cho, probably the #1 cover artist known for his fantastic women as well as his humor and storytelling, is launching his own mini-series through BOOM! Studios in September, and Eisner and Harvey award-winning Terry Moore, known for his smart and quirky women-focused stories, is publishing a new series through his Abstract Studios imprint.  Both titles will feature strong women characters.

Frank Cho, first recognized for his humor and pin-up art in University² and Liberty Meadows, has gone on to create some of the finest mix of superheroes and classical artwork of any living artist.  As recently as this summer he provided the most beautiful Wonder Woman cover art in years for DC Comics.  We’ve raved about his cover art here five years ago, but he’s created a lifetime of great work since then.  We wait with bated breath for more projects like his cover to cover work on Savage Wolverine, Mighty Avengers, Shanna the She-Devil, and his X-Men Schism arc.  This may be that next series.

His new project, Skybourne, a project we first heard about in early 2015, follows two immortals, Grace Skybourne and her brother Thomas, and their battle against the legendary Merlin of medieval lore.  Here is the description from the publisher:

Skybourne Midtown variant cover Frank Cho     Skybourne cover Frank Cho

* Full of fast-paced action, Skybourne is James Bond with fantasy elements thrown in and is unlike anything Frank Cho has ever done before.
* The legend of King Arthur is alive and well in the modern day world.  Only one man, Skybourne, can stop the evil Merlin from destroying the world.

But we ask again each year:  Whatever happened to the very cool and promising Guns & Dinos, which we first previewed five years ago here at borg.com Skybourne, Issue #1 of 5, written and drawn by Cho, is scheduled for release in comic book stores September 7, 2016.  Check out a preview below.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Rachel Rising disturbs me.  Terry Moore’s art disturbs me.  Most of all, Terry Moore’s story disturbs me.

The thing is… it’s supposed to.

Everyone is creepy in the quaint, pastoral town called Manson.  If you need help in Manson, you pretty much have no one to turn to.  Soon you will be dead or undead, or living or working with some unspeakable horror in your midst.  Remember young Billy Mumy’s character in the Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life”?  I’m convinced he lived in Manson.  And the neighbor across the street?  An adorable little girl named Zoe who has just lost her family and house.  And her newly proposed foster family has a psycho in it.  Of course, Zoe just killed a few people herself.  Including her babysitter.  You see, every time Zoe sees the beautiful blonde woman, someone dies.  Sometimes by her own hand.  Who is that woman, who can be seen only by a few people, and why can she push her will onto others?

But the story is not about Zoe.  It’s about Rachel.  In the beginning Rachel is dead, pulling herself from a shallow grave by getting a foothold on…what’s that?  Someone else’s corpse.  She’s been strangled.  But Rachel has come back for more, despite being repeatedly knocked back down.  She doesn’t understand why she’s alive any more than we do.  Along this strange trip Rachel meets a woman in the bathroom at a local jazz club and can’t help but sharing that she won’t make it to her wedding day.  Rachel has seen the woman’s coming death.  Petrified the woman rushes away.  Minutes later the woman is pushed off the roof, onto Rachel, killing both in the process.

Meanwhile Zoe and the fiancée accidentally (?!) intentionally (?!) meet up in the woods to hide their recently murdered victims.  And little Zoe finishes off the fiancée.  Why not?  And why is she so vicious about it?  It’s all bad in the quaint, pastoral town of Manson.

In the beginning, and a bit of a deja vu later, Rachel’s aunt Johnny and brunette BFF named Jet can’t believe that Rachel is dead (again).  Aunt Johnny works as a mortician, and unfortunately she knows this victim all too well.  But Johnny and Jet are even more surprised when she sits up alive.  Rachel is more dead than alive, the doctor tells her.  He also thinks Rachel is the angel of death.  But he has his own issues.  He is living at home with a 30-year old corpse.

It’s all so eerie, spooky and… oogy.

Later, Rachel and Johnny and Jet and Zoe’s stories intersect, and they collide with an 18-wheeler.

Then bodies inexplicably burst out of the town’s cemetery.  Jet dies in the car wreck, to return and join Rachel as another member of the undead.  Is she a zombie?  The doctor says no.  Is she an angel?  Jet won’t believe it.  Just prop her body up in front of a television, she’ll be all right.

Moore is at Issue #8 of the series and there is no sign of saving any of us from this town ravaged by an unknown evil.  How does this mild-mannered writer of Strangers In Paradise and Echo create such a horrific tale?  What unspeakable skeletons are hiding within the Moore household?  I really don’t want to know.

Probably most surprising is the juxtaposition between Moore’s beautiful lead females, Rachel and Jet and Zoe, and the ghoulish, macabre, palpable darkness that seems to emanate from the crossroads in the woods.  Like Frank Cho’s women and Adam Hughes’ women, you’d know Terry Moore’s women if you were pushing your way through the halls at the San Diego Convention Center at Comic-Con and ran into one.  They are the ladies with the little slightly askew noses and the bright all-knowing eyes.

Beautiful fall leaves stretch across the open grave.  It’s getting cold in Manson.  It’s snowing, but is that really snow that’s falling?  I shudder to think where this is going.  I may just cover my eyes for the rest and crawl back into bed.  Someone please leave the lights on.

Rachel Rising has been nominated for not one but two Harvey Awards: Best New Series and Best Continuing or Limited Series.  It made the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award 2012 Reading List.  And we will find out in a few weeks whether it secures the Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series and the coveted Best Writer/Artist Award to Moore for his work.

Moore is scheduled to be at Comic-Con again this year and we hear he is bringing original art for sale.  He and wife Robyn’s Abstract Studios will be featured in a panel in Room 23ABC on Comic-Con Thursday.  Issues #1-6 are now available at Amazon as the Rachel Rising: The Shadow of Death trade paperback and more recent issues are available at comic book stores everywhere.

If you have spent much time at all chatting it up with comic book writers or editors at comic conventions, you have probably heard several mentions of the phrase “creator-owned comic” or “creator-owned project.”  The conversation usually goes like this:

Fanboy: Hey, Awesome Comic Book Creator, what are you working on?

Awesome Comic Book Creator: I am working on a big project right now featuring Huge Comic Character for [insert DC Comics or Marvel here].  [And then they look like they are pondering something deeply as they say:] I am also working on a creator-owned project that I have had in the works for several years.

It was Frank Cho last year at Comic-Con who let us in on a project he had been thinking about for years:  Guns & Dinos, a project he said he had been thinking about ever since an image came to him of an archaeologist discovering an arm with a modern gun in a dig along side a dinosaur.  Guns & Dinos (yet to be released) is a creator-owned project he was trying to generate interest in.

Hitting the stores this month was a new book with an odd title: Creator-Owned Heroes #1.  It’s a collaborative new ongoing book between writing partners Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray (who are at the top of my favorite comic writers right now with their All-Star Western series), Steve Niles, Kevin Mellon, and Phil Noto.  The point?  Get away from big publishing house content and bring some diversity into comics–stories you might not see reaching readers from the big houses.

The book features two eleven page stories that will have readers easily coming back next month.  It also has several interviews with the creators in the nature of “here’s what this is all about.”  It also includes photos of the creators with fans at conventions, an interview with a cosplayer who Palmiotti asked to create the costume of one of the stories, and an interview with Neil Gaiman.

The two stories were superb.  We’ll come back to those.

For the first issue of a new type of publication I didn’t have any issue with the interviews and explanations.  That said, I’d rather have more than 11 page stories or a third story for future issues.  $3.99 is a fine price but a comic sized magazine with columnists as opposed to news is not really something I think can last too long.  And I haven’t read much new from Gaiman in the last several interviews with him I’ve seen so that didn’t add much value for me.  I am interested in what these creators think, but are most comics readers readers who just want to read new stories or do they also care about the behind-the-scenes so much?

So back to what is great about this book–two very interesting stories.  First Palmiotti, Gray and Noto take on cool muscle cars in a dismal, futuristic world of survival in American Muscle.  Great title, great idea.  The dialogue is believable, the images make the reader feel the environment.  I just hope future issues focus let us in on the cars themselves (they probably can’t specify actual makes and models because of licensing reasons from the auto dealers).   Niles and Mellon give us one part Leeloo Dallas, one part human-Cylon, one part David 8, one part la femme Nikita, and one part Ultraviolet in their Trigger Girl 6.   That actually should give you all you need to decide whether to check out this one.  I’ll just say the pacing of the story was spot-on and the dialogue and art top-notch.  I also really liked the color choices in both stories.  If this is what creator-owned is, then give us more please.

The publisher of Creator-Owned Heroes is Image Comics.  I’ve always viewed Image as sort of a “fourth network” like Dark Horse and Dynamite.  I do wonder why Creator-Owned Heroes didn’t try something like Terry Moore and his Abstract Studios publishing company.  If you don’t make it big at the major publishing houses I would think Moore has created the model to make it big on your own.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

   

Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’re lucky enough to land yourself a copy of Terry Moore’s Rachel Rising, Issue #1 or #2, do yourself a favor and grab it and pick up a few extra for your friends as this one is very hard to come by.  For whatever reason, comic retailers have not ordered big enough quantities.

If you’re not familiar with Terry Moore, his two big series over the past two decades were the mega-hit Strangers In Paradise and the more recent supernatural series Echo.  This year at Comic-Con Moore was selling his how-to ‘zine How to Draw Women.  If there is one thing he knows, it is drawing the female form.  Moore’s style is truly his own–he uses very few lines to capture incredible expressions and emotion in his characters.  I’d put Moore’s women drawings in an exclusive league with Frank Cho and Michael Turner, with Cliff Chiang soon to be a member of that elite group.

In Strangers In Paradise, Moore used a close relationship between roommates to create an ongoing drama that want on to form several volumes.  In Echo, he moved into more of the fantasy realm.  With Rachel Rising, he has landed firmly in the dark, creepy, macabre world of comics.  His art in all three series is black and white–something that might put off readers of other books, but Moore uses black and white’s starkness and contrasts to create a moods you won’t find in DC Comics or Marvel Comics titles.  I haven’t even mentioned yet that Moore is the writer, penciller and inker of his books, which are published by his wife.  Serving triple duty must be tough, but Moore makes it all look easy.

In Issue #1, Rachel wakes up in the woods in a shallow grave.  Over the course of Issue #1 and #2, Rachel encounters people who know her but don’t believe she really is Rachel.  She learns she has lost three days of her life.  Her glowing eyes reveal something, but what that means fully is not yet revealed.  She finds an aunt who she tries to get to help her, but her aunt is a strange breed who claims to see dead people, and as she is a mortician, she gets plenty of opportunity.

Is this going the way of Eliza Dushku’s TV series Tru Calling?  That would be fun.  In Tru Calling she worked in a morgue where dead people talked to her.  Terry’s dark-haired characters look a bit like Dushku.  When Echo came out, I asked Moore about the naming process and he said he was unaware that Dushku was playing a character starting about the same time on Joss Whedon’s short-lived Dollhouse TV series.   All just a crazy coincidence.   I’ll just go out on a limb and nominate Dushku for a role in a future movie based on Moore’s books.

But don’t think Moore’s friendly style is not as ghoulish as the next guy’s stories.  There are plenty of cringeworthy scenes in these first two issues, including the subtle but disturbing aunt who proceeds to perform “mortician’s work” while rambling away with Rachel.  As many questions about Rachel and Company are asked as are answered, so we can look forward to a good progression of story over several issues.

I first met Terry and his wife Robyn, who is the publisher of his books under the Abstract Studios label, at Comic-Con back in 2008 when Echo was released.  I got to Terry’s booth early enough that he spent the Friday sketching his famous characters Francine and Katchoo for me as my favorite superhero team Green Arrow and Black Canary.  Robyn couldn’t be nicer.  My wife and I met up with Terry and Robyn again at Comic-Con this year at Jeff Smith’s 20th anniversary of Bone party (that’s Terry above in San Diego this July), and we had a great time chatting.

I’d hoped to review this series sooner, but could not track down Issue #1.  I finally had to drive three hours away to find a copy of Issue #1 and I am hoping the distributors get their acts together so it will be easier to track down Issue #3, due out soon.