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Tag Archive: Dark Horse Comics


Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Buffy Summers is an ageless heroine.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one series you can revisit, find something new, and marvel at the dialogue of Joss Whedon’s greatest character, greatest writing, and greatest production, over and over.  And yet somehow Buffy, the series, turned 20 this year.  Twentieth Century Fox is rewarding fans of the series by releasing a new boxed set of all seven seasons of the series next month.  The 39-disc DVD set contains all 144 episodes of one of the smartest, funniest, and action-filled series, featuring arguably the greatest heroine of all.  Unfortunately, no Blu-ray release appears to be in the works yet.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Series 20th Anniversary Edition DVD Boxed Set will include some extra features, which might entice fans who have purchased previous editions of the series.  It includes a Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic book from Dark Horse Comics featuring an exclusive variant cover and “coloring sheet.”  Seasons 1-7 also include special features material from prior releases.

But Buffy the Vampire Slayer is not the only series from Joss Whedon celebrating an anniversary this year and getting a new boxed set.  Firefly turned 15 this year, and Twentieth Century Fox is issuing a Blu-ray anniversary edition for Browncoats everywhere.  This boxed set will also be released next month and it features some new inserts, including a Firefly poster and collectible character cards.

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This past April we previewed here at borg.com what we predicted would be the crossover event of the summer.  We’re glad we were right!  The crossover is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Usagi Yojimbo from IDW Publishing, by arrangement with Dark Horse Comics, Nickelodeon, and Miyamoto Usagi creator Stan Sakai.  Sakai returns to his nimble samurai rabbit warrior 33 years after its first appearance, writing, drawing, and lettering the new book, with Tom Luth supplying the color.  Kevin Eastman, co-creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, even lends a hand, supplying a cover variant for the book.  Both series featuring anthropomorphic martial arts heroes were created in 1984.

The quality of this book can’t be overstated–it’s gorgeous.  With most comic books a panel or two per page always seems to get short shrift, sometimes an image with no details or silhouette, but that’s not the case with Sakai’s work here.  You can see Sakai’s love for these characters in every panel on every page–emotion, action, or attitude is always present–as he conjures a tale derived from Namazu, a legend in Japanese tradition.  He combines his samurai hero with Kakera–his version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sensei Splinter–and everyone’s favorite ninja turtles as they embark on a quest to save Japan.  Sakai’s story is based on the story of a giant catfish that lives under the Japanese islands, whose movements are the cause for frequent earthquakes.  A great hero was able to pin the fish under a massive rock at Kashima Shrine.  In his new twist on the legend, a piece of the rock has broken off, weakening its power, and now the catfish threatens to destroy the country.  Our heroes must face the demonic spearman Jei, who wants the country destroyed and threatens to interfere with their efforts as they return the rock to its rightful place.

As you can see above, Sakai’s sound effects are brilliant!

   

Look for cover variants from Sakai, longtime Sakai collaborator Sergio Aragonés, Mouse Guard’s David Petersen, and Kevin Eastman–ten covers in all.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Both Neil Gaiman (Sandman) and Kevin Eastman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) tried it, but didn’t complete it in time.  Professional comic book writers and artists and especially the combination writer/artist most likely have all heard of the 24-hour comic challenge, but not everyone has given it a try.  Twenty-seven years ago comic book writer/artist Scott McCloud came up with the idea to improve his skills and speed in creating a 24-page comic book complete with story and art, which normally can take about 30 days.  The result was not so much a contest but a personal achievement challenge like running a marathon or climbing a mountain.  A new documentary titled 24 Hour Comic, directed by Milan Erceg, screened for attendees Saturday at the Marriott Grand Ballroom at San Diego Convention Center as part of San Diego Comic-Con.

Eight participants.  24 hours.  Gravitas Ventures’ 24 Hour Comic follows an event hosted at my old local comic book shop, Things from Another World, in Portland, Oregon.  24 Hour Comic is both a celebration of the Portland comic book creator scene and a close-up look at eight individuals of differing levels as they each try to meet the challenge.  Not everyone makes it to the end.  Four-time Harvey Award and Eisner Award winner Scott McCloud appears in the film, describing the origin, process, and history of the 24-hour challenge, which is hosted by comic book shops, schools, and art studios around the world, often following a designated annual 24-Hour Comic Day.  Eisner and Harvey Award winner McCloud wrote the useful guide to sequential art Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art and several other comic book art texts.  He also compiled several attempts at the 24-hour comic in his book 24 Hour Comics, where he showcases the efforts of Neil Gaiman, Steve Bissette, Alexander Grecian, and others.

The rules can be found here, and are detailed in McCloud’s book.  The biggest surprise having read about the contest and several 24-hour comics over the years was that I assumed the artists used standard comic book pages, those full-sized 11×17-inch art boards.  In the film each artist uses what appears to be paper half that size, splitting each sheet into two full pages, which would seem to take less time to fill.  Erceg introduces us to his eight subjects, each in different phases of skill, from a 13-year-old girl to a 16-time participant, a web creator, a design professional, independent creators, and an ex-creator returning to give the process another try.  The final works for those who completed the challenge?  We don’t get to read the entirety of the final books from any creator in the film, but the excerpts given are surprisingly polished. Far from the frantic scribbles you might expect from anyone missing a night’s sleep to work round the clock, the comics appear professionally done, clever, and humorous, reflecting each artist’s creativity and talent.  The film is dotted with interviews by several well-known faces, including Dark Horse Comics president Mike Richardson, Dark Horse Comics editor-in-chief Scott Allie, cartoonist Batton Lash, and graphic novelists and digital creators Arnold and Jacob Pander.

The hour-long documentary provides a fair look at a cross section of a profession where the median income for a full-time comic book artist is about $38,896, according to the film.  Although the challenge is not a competition per se, a few participants throw about some contrived and good natured trash talk to keep the film light-hearted.  One participant had some interesting insights into the comic book profession, a bit of a creators’ quagmire: “You work on a project you don’t care about, but make good money, but you work on a project you do care about, and don’t make any money on it”–something reflected in many fields, no doubt.  This is not a time-compressed look at the 24-hour period of this challenge, but provides interviews with subjects about their status at intervals throughout the day, night, and following morning.  So to fill some of the time Erceg follows two subjects on a quick trip to Stumptown Comic Con, other subjects are interviewed at local studios or homes, and another is followed on a side trip to Seattle to discuss a commission project.  The majority shared how difficult it is to succeed in the comic book industry, and one tried and left the industry after initial success because it couldn’t pay medical bills.

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This year Buffy Summers, one of the greatest characters in the history of sci-fi and fantasy television and the #1 kick-ass heroine of all time in any medium celebrates a major benchmark as the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer turns twenty.  Dark Horse Comics–publisher of the Buffy comic books and related characters from the series including titles featuring Angel, Spike, and Faith–announced this past week that a new trade edition of its Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The High School Years monthly series is available for pre-order, and an adult coloring book for the series was released last week.

The television series was groundbreaking, its first episode airing March 10, 1997, on The WB.  With high school and college as a backdrop, the incomparable showrunner Joss Whedon was able to address racism, identity, bullying, guilt, death, first love, and heartbreak using demons as metaphors.  Never before on television had a teenage girl been empowered like Buffy, with smart writing, lovable characters, fun monster-of-the-week episodes, action-packed choreographed battles, and emotional and dramatic arcs that continued over seven years from 1997 to 2003.  Buffy Summers, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, would go on to inspire other great shows with smart, strong, and empowered young women, including Veronica Mars and iZombie.

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It’s a subject of debate among Buffy fans, but some of the best episodes and story arcs of the series can be found in the first seasons of the series.  Dark Horse’s new collected edition of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The High School Years, titled Parental Parasite, taps into fans’ nostalgia, taking readers back to the first season of the series, when Buffy’s mom starts to want more “quality time” just as Buffy must secretly fend of monsters as part of her nightly slaying duties.

Dark Horse has taken Buffy all the way into four seasons of stories beyond the finale of the TV series.  Check out a cover gallery after the cut, and links to hardcover and trade editions of Seasons 8, 9, 10, and 11.

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Our borg.com Best of 2016 list continues today with the Best in Print and a bonus wrap-up of other year’s bests.  If you missed it, check out our review of the Top Picks and Best Movies of 2016 here, the Kick-Ass Heroines of 2016 here, and the Best in Television here.

Without further ado, this year’s Best in Print:

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Best Comic Book Series – Old Man Logan (Marvel).  With just enough backstory from prior series focused on the future world version of Logan/Wolverine, writer Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino took us through the struggle of the superhero that survived all his contemporaries, only to be plunged into a parallel world where everything is familiar but nothing is the same.

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Best Graphic NovelWonder Woman: The True Amazon, Jill Thompson (DC Comics).  Writer/artist Jill Thompson is probably the best creator in comics today.  Her origin story of Wonder Woman is vibrant, and she presents a flawed, complex, and ultimately strong and fearless heroine.  The best Wonder Woman book we’ve ever read.

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Best Comic Book Limited Series/Best Crossover Comic Book Series – Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (DC Comics/IDW).  James Tynion IV and Freddie Williams II pulled together an impossible team-up of characters that ended up working great together.  An action-packed, nostalgic fun trip.

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Best Comic Book Writing – Matt Kindt, Dept.H (Dark Horse).  Kindt pulls together an incredibly nostalgic assemblage of the best action concepts: classic science fiction of the H.G. Wells variety, G.I. Joe Adventure Team-inspired characters, and a fun character study and whodunit that will have you searching out your old game of Sub Search.  We just hope he makes a prequel at some point so we get to see a similar quest with an old fashioned copper-helmeted deep sea diver.  A fun read month after month and the best writing comics have to offer.

After the cut we continue with the best in comics, books, and more from 2016:

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In so many ways, Dark Horse Comics’ Dept.H is everything we look for at borg.com.  Science fiction, action, adventure, retro, mystery, noir.  And it’s all in one comic book series.  Writer/artist Matt Kindt has said his series Dept.H was inspired by 1970s G.I. Joes, Fisher Price Adventure People toys, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Jacques Cousteau, and you can feel all of that come through in its first nine issues this year.  From the patch on the underwater crew outfits that evokes the classic 1960s/1970s G.I. Joe Adventure Team patch to the SP-350 diving saucer from the famed Calypso in the craft that takes the series lead to the depths of the ocean floor in the opening pages, to the setting and Department H Headquarters based on the ocean floor that screams H.G. Wells, Dept.H is at the top of this year’s comic book series.

Best known for his run on his Mind MGMT series, Eisner Award nominee Kindt wrote and illustrated the story, with coloring supplied by wife Sharlene.  The series is an Agatha Christie-inspired closed room case.  We meet Mia Hardy, who has been asked to find the mole in the undersea lab, a mole who is believed to have sabotaged the base and murdered her father.  Mia has worked with the suspects before, providing the opportunity for the writer to hold back information and share with us bits and pieces when necessary.  Who killed Mia’s father?  Was it Q, the head of Dept. H security?  Her father’s business partner Roger?  The frenetic head of research Jerome?  Demolition expert Bob?  Her childhood friend turned enemy Lily?  Her own brother Raj?  Or Aaron, the research assistant?  Or was it somehow, someone topside?

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Readers feel the pressure of undersea operations as Mia is plunged into her own peril, as the facility again is sabotaged before she can work her way though all the suspects.  How long can Kindt take us for this suffocating adventure before letting us come up for air?  The page design even features a graduated flood gauge at the pages’ right edges that slowly “fills up” with water issue after issue.

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Meeting Lee Majors

Hey, looks like we made it!

Five years ago today, Elizabeth C. Bunce, Art Schmidt, Jason McClain, and I had already spent a few months talking through the technical details for the launch of borg.com.  What should it look like?  What should we write about?  How do we get to there from here?  Then it all came together on June 10, 2011, and I sat down and just started writing.  Should this be a weekly thing?  Once I started I just couldn’t stop and we cemented borg.com as a daily webzine.  And readers started showing up every day.  Soon we had hundreds of followers, and hundreds of thousands of visits per year.

The best part?  Working with friends and meeting new ones each year.

We’ve had plenty of high points.  Cosplay took off in a big way in the past five years.   Elizabeth and I hit the ground running at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2011 with our Alien Nation/Chuck mash-up and you can find us all over the Web in photos taken by others at the show.  Our years were dotted with the random brush with coolness.  A retweet by actress Alana de la Garza, coverage of Joss Whedon visiting the Hall H line at 3 a.m. outside SDCC in 2012, Zachary Levi calling out Elizabeth for her cosplay at Nerd HQ, interviewing the stars of History Channel’s Vikings series, our praise for the Miss Fury series appearing on the back of every Dynamite Comics issue one month, tweets from Hollywood make-up artist family the Westmores commenting on our discussion of Syfy’s Face Off series, our Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (negative!) review featured on the movie’s website, that crazy promotion for the Coma remake mini-series, planning the first Planet Comicon at Bartle Hall and the Star Trek cast reunion, attending the first Kansas City Comic Con and the first Wizard World Des Moines Con, hanging with comic book legend Howard Chaykin, Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famer Darryl McDaniels, cast members from Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and Star Trek, bionic duo Lee Majors and Lindsay Wagner.  And borg.com gained some well-known followers (you know who you are) along the way.

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We’re grateful for some great Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and other feedback over the years from Felipe Melo, Mickey Lam, Michael Prestage, The Mithril Guardian, Francesco Francavilla, Adam Hughes, Judy Bunce, Mike Norton, Jack Herbert, Mike Mayhew, Rain Beredo, David Petersen, Rob Williams, and Matt Miner, and for creators we interviewed including Mikel Janin, Penny Juday, Tim Lebbon, Kim Newman, James P. Blaylock, Freddie Williams II, Jai Nitz, and Sharon Shinn.

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What did readers like the most?

We amassed an extensive archive of hundreds of book reviews, movie reviews, reviews of TV shows, and convention coverage, thanks in part to the good folks at Titan Books, Abrams Books, Lucasfilm Press, Weta New Zealand, Entertainment Earth, Dynamite Comics, IDW Publishing, Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics, BOOM! Studios, and several TV and movie studios and distributors.

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My own favorites?  Sitting down to come up with my own five all-time favorite characters with the borg.com writing staff.

Schmidt and Bunce at PC 2015

Thanks to my family, my friends, especially my partner in crime Elizabeth C. Bunce, Art Schmidt and Jason McClain, my support team, and William Binderup and the Elite Flight Crew.

Onward and upward!

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

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Review by C.J. Bunce

What comic book series would you like see adapted to film that hasn’t yet been tried?  The big superheroes–and many small ones–have now made their marks, along with the likes of stories from independent or creator-owned origins like From Hell, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Cowboys and Aliens, Road to Perdition, A History of Violence, Hellboy, RED, R.I.P.D., Kick-Ass, Kingsman: The Secret Service, and even small screen shows like The Walking Dead, iZombie, and now Wynonna Earp.  Ask me what comic book series I would like to see translated to film the most and I won’t flinch:  It’s Portuguese writer/musician Felipe Melo and Argentinian artist/designer Juan Cavia’s The Incredible Adventures of Dog Mendonça and PizzaBoy.  (I’d invest in that film right now).  It’s the most humorous and satisfying series since Frank Cho’s Liberty Meadows.  Rich in pop culture references like you’d find in Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Leverage, fanboys and fangirls of any franchise will find some all-out fun here.  Now the creators are concluding their series with the final act of an epic trilogy, The Incredible Adventures of Dog Mendonça and PizzaBoy III –Requiem, available now from Dark Horse Comics.

Melo and Cavia (and colorist Santiago R. Villa) are the real deal.  Each of their three volumes has a foreword by a legendary film director fan:  John Landis, George A. Romero, and now Tobe Hooper.  Dog Mendonça (pronounced men-dōn’-sah) and PizzaBoy originally appeared in serial form in the pages of Dark Horse Presents.  João Vicente “Dog” Mendonça is an overweight, Portuguese werewolf operating out of a noir era private investigator’s office.  Mendonça has a lanky unpaid pizza delivery boy who becomes a client he calls PizzaBoy.  And he has an assistant–a 6,000 year old demon named Pazuul, who appears as a chain-smoking blonde girl who never speaks out loud.  They’ve saved the world more times than anyone can count, and are pretty blasé about it.

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We reviewed the first volume in the series, The Incredible Adventures of Dog Mendonça and Pizza Boy, here at borg.com back in November 2012.  In the first book the reader becomes a character walking along with the duo as Melo breaks the “third and fourth walls” in a funny and beautifully drawn story.  Mendonça told the reader his own comic book creation story.  In flashback we saw Mendonça’s tumultuous past.  We learned that Mendonça’s father and six sisters were killed during World War II so that bad guys led by a Nazi could capture Mendonça and use his beastly werewolf powers for his owns ends– a tale full of bad circumstances, an epic journey in a small package, and revenge.

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Get thee to the comic book store tomorrow!

It’s that time of year again.  It’s time for the annual pilgrimage to your local comic book store for Free Comic Book Day, this Saturday, May 7, 2016.  Dozens of new books are available this year, for kids of all ages.  Like these:

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Alan Tudyk has a new comic book out called Spectrum.  He talks about it here:

And despite what you hear below from that familiar guy from Reading Rainbow, most comic book stores will let you select more than a few issues, not just one:

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Writer/artist Matt Kindt has said his new Dark Horse comic book series Dept.H was inspired by 1970s G.I. Joes, Fisher Price Adventure People toys, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Jacques Cousteau, and you can feel all of that come through in Issue #1 of the series, available in comic book stores this month.  Even the patch on the underwater crew outfits is black and red, and with design lines you’d see the Department H patch twisted back into the classic G.I. Joe Adventure Team patch.  It’s stamped on all the players in this underwater murder mystery story and queues the adventure that awaits readers.  And we easily see the SP-350 diving saucer from the famed Calypso in the craft that takes the series lead to the depths of the ocean floor in the opening pages.

Multiple Eisner Award nominee Kindt, best known for his run on his Mind MGMT series, writes and illustrates the story, with color work supplied by wife Sharlene.  The series opener begins with a slow build to lay the groundwork for the mystery and introduction of Mia, who has been asked to find the mole in the undersea lab, a mole who is believed to have murdered her father.  It’s an Agatha Christie-inspired closed room case, as all suspects are still living in the deep-sea lab.  Yet Kindt’s careful writing leads you to believe he may have already given us more than enough clues to solve the murder in his panel images and subtext.

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With its excellent pulp noir novel-style cover, low lighting and narration, call it the first undersea noir comic book series.  It also evokes movies like the Abyss, Leviathan, and Sphere.

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