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Tag Archive: Dark Horse Comics


Review by C.J. Bunce

Image Comics is giving the celebrated Eisner and Harvey Award-winning series Battlepug a giant hardcover collected edition this month.  Written and illustrated by Mike Norton, Battlepug: The Compugdium collects all five volumes of the brilliant webcomic.  A series of humor-filled fantasy/adventure tales with the look and vibe of One Thousand and One Nights/Arabian Nights, Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian, Godzilla, and Ray Harryhausen movies, Battlepug is epic and unique.  Following stories told of the last Kinmundian as he rides his giant pug into the next town and next battle, Battlepug represents the best of the comic book and fantasy worlds.

With 336 pages in all with big 8.5 x 12 inch layouts, this is a book you’re going to keep returning to, fun for all ages.  Battlepug: The Compugdium includes Blood and Drool (the dreaded harp seal and Witch Toad!), The Savage Bone (meet Gil and some underwater types), Sit. Stay. Die! (a skull monkey and a host of giant underground beasts await), The Devil’s Biscuit (encounter a giant turtle spirit!), and The Paws of War (face the giant koala!).

Fans who have already gobbled down the five stories will still want to take a look at the Compugdium, as it includes plenty of great additional content: a gallery of 36 pages of Battlepug art from various artists, 15 pages of sketches, including some Norton layouts and early character images, plus cover art prints from the series.

Here are some great pages you’ll find in Battlepug: The Compugdium:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Sometimes you ask for something and it magically appears.  Like the new Dark Horse Comics’ graphic novel Edgar Rice Burroughs’ The Once and Future Tarzan I originally reviewed a one-shot initial version of this story here at borg way back in 2012.  I liked the retro adventure vibe and thought that it begged for an expanded story.  At last writer Alan Gordon has taken Tarzan into the distant future in a full 15-part epic, as a 300-year-old survivalist who encounters a future world right out of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, Pierre Boulle’s Planet of the Apes, Nolan and Johnson’s Logan’s Run, or Richard Matheson’s I am Legend.  Tarzan and Jane join a tribe of warrior women on their quest–Tarzan is a well-educated leader who communes with the animal kingdom, and Jane brings her own special skill set to this adventure.

Readers will find a densely written graphic novel with many literary references and a thoroughly researched, thoroughly faithful look at Burroughs’ Tarzan, with the building of a great expansion world for the character, loyal to the spirit of the original stories.   It’s a mix of fantasy and James Bond action, as the Tarzan of the past confronts a future world reeling from decades of mishandling.  Tarzan has been secretly protecting animals, species other humans failed to protect, and Tarzan brings them into this future.  It’s a story of the past catching up with mankind, and a glimmer of hope via the legend of Tarzan.  Can the future still be saved for all of life on Earth, before nothing is left of the natural world?  Gordon’s story suggests the possibility and the story itself serves as its own sci-fi warning to take care of what we have before it’s gone.  The story isn’t dark and daunting, but it has that fantasy adventure tone of the age of serial adventures, peppered with humorous dialogue, too (some of the callbacks to Tarzan’s past are particularly funny).

The imagery of artists Thomas Yeates (Prince Valiant, Conan) and Bo Hampton (Viking Glory, Batman) is gorgeous, and it wouldn’t succeed so well without the complimentary color palette used by colorists Steve Oliff and Lori Almeida.  It has the nostalgic look of Illustrated Classics, but with more movement and action, something that will appeal to fans of Matt Kindt’s Dept.H and Black Badge, Phil Noto’s retro styled art, P. Craig Russell’s adaptation of Wagner’s The Ring, and the imagery of The Hobbit artist David Wenzel.  Parts feel like a voyage of Captain Nemo, Captain Blood, Conan the Barbarian, or Red Sonja.  All of these fantasies share the common quest, the world outside of a present day reality, stocked with nicely fleshed-out legend and lore.

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Among the best of the free swag at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con was scoring a copy of the ashcan* issue that previewed this month’s new Stranger Things comic book series from Dark Horse Comics.  The series will be published in four issues, all beginning this month.  This year’s go-to comic book writer Jody Houser is writer on the series, with artwork by Stefano Martino, Keith Champagne, and Lauren Affe.

Not only is this new story retro in every way like the series, Houser takes us back inside the events of Season One, following Will and his journey through the Upside Down.  Don’t worry–the rest of the kids are part of the story, too.

Look for four covers for the first issue, created by Aleksi Briclot, Kyle Lambert, and Rafael Albuquerque, with a variant series for all four issues with nifty retro-Scholastic book order-style, tattered back-pocket paperback-inspired covers, created by Patrick Satterfield.

  

Now you can download the entire 16-page preview issue from the publisher–free!  Then check out our first look at all the cover artwork for Issues #1, #2, and #3, including covers from artists Greg Ruth, Steve Morris, Matthew Taylor, Grzergorz Domaradzki, and more (including a brilliant M.C. Escher-inspired creation), courtesy of Dark Horse.

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No, The Beatles aren’t merely the band Paul McCartney played in before he joined Wings.  The #1 band of all time released its animated musical fantasy comedy movie Yellow Submarine 50 years ago, and less than a year later, in January 1969, the band followed up with an album of the same name.  Thanks to a never ceasing fan-base and a creator who is as big a fan as anyone, we all can embark on a new voyage of the song-filled submarine from a port near you beginning next week.

We first previewed this 50th anniversary project here at borg.com more than a year ago.  It’s the first official illustrated adaptation of The Beatles’ famous animated film.  Directed by animation producer George Dunning, the film received widespread acclaim from critics and Beatles’ fans, generating its own cult following, years of British cosplay, and inspiring generations of animators.  The adaptation will be written and illustrated by Bill Morrison, writer and artist from The Simpsons comics.

You will hear the voices of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr as you read the The Beatles Yellow Submarine graphic novel.

So get ready to revisit Pepperland and the Sea of Time, Sea of Science, Sea of Monsters, Sea of Holes, Sea of Nothing, and the Foothills of the Headlands.  And beware the Blue Meanies.

Here is a big preview courtesy of Titan Comics, followed by an interview with Morrison:

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Thanks to some fine writing and acting in Season 2 of Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things, actor Joe Keery’s character Steve Harrington did a 180 degree switch from Season One and became one of two heroes of the second season (that other hero of course was Sean Astin’s Bob Newby).  But as seen in a teaser released this week for Season 3, poor Steve gets to go through every teenagers’ worst hazing ritual, working the part-time fast-food job.  Worse yet, he somehow got pulled into co-starring in a local commercial in the Stranger Things town of good ol’ Hawkins, Indiana.

It looks smartly spot-on for a vintage local mall commercial.  Starcourt Mall is sure to be the location for some supernatural activity next year when the series returns.  You only wish they’d found a way to get the rights to Happy Joe’s Pizza, but, heck, this new shop will pass for Bresler’s 33 Flavors or Baskin-Robbins.  And isn’t that what everyone’s reaction is?  Asking: What does this mall have that “my mall” had?  So this commercial shows us Claire’s, The Gap, Orange Julius, Regis Hair Salon, Radio Shack, JC Penney, Waldenbooks, Zales, The Original Cookie Co., Wicks ‘n’ Sticks, Burger King, and Sam Goody (our Midwest city malls didn’t have these last three).

The actress is Maya Hawke playing new character Robin, in the teaser released on the series’ Twitter feed.

Before we show the teaser, a quick heads-up: Stranger Things fans who visit San Diego Comic-Con this week should check out Dark Horse Comics’ booth #2615, where they can get a free copy of a new Stranger Things comic book.  That’s a panel from the comic above.

Here’s the teaser commercial for Season 3 of Stranger Things:

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Mike Mignola’s Hellboy took comic book fans by storm when it arrived in bookstores in 1994.  Since then it’s grown to become a pop culture sensation.  A hit character and supernatural world outside the caped crusaders of comicdom, Hellboy stories earned Dark Horse comics creators a dozen Eisner Awards and inspired numerous tie-ins, from novels, to video games, to animated films and live action feature films.  Next year Stranger Things star David Harbour will don the Hellboy (sawed-off) horns and bring the next live action film to theaters, and fans can hardly wait.  Check out the first marketing photos released of him below.  The film also is set to feature stars like Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Daniel Dae Kim, Brian Gleeson, Sophie Okonedo, and Alistair Petrie.

Dark Horse Comics has let Hellboy branch out beyond the normal comic book tie-in realm.  He’s inspired a draft ale, a wine, and now a very appropriate addition: Hellboy Hell Water Cinnamon Whiskey.  We’ve tried cinnamon whiskey before (umm… you know, at holiday parties and whatnot), but Hellboy’s whiskey is firey red like the man himself (instead of the orange of most brands) and tastes a lot like liquefied Red Hots cinnamon candy with a similar heat.  It also sports a sleek collectible bottle and has some clever in-universe information on the label, “American soldiers discovered Hellboy on December 23rd, 1944, after a Nazi experiment brought him into our world.  Dedicated to the B.P.R.D.”  Best of all, the XXX Distillery made the whiskey “66.6”% Proof, so you know this is 100% Hellboy.

Hellboy Hell Water has a smooth whiskey flavor, but it also packs a bite.  You can find plenty of mixed drink ideas at the distributor’s website, HellboyHellWater.com.  We mixed up a mocha latte 3 to 1 with Hellboy Hell Water to make a strong Mexican style coffee.  With the November chill already laying its stake into your chest you might also try a hot apple cider 3 to 1 parts with Hell Water.  We used a great local maker, Louisburg Cider, and its pulpy quality seemed to blend just right (and it seemed to clear away a Fall head cold, too).  And if cider and coffee aren’t your thing, add a shot to a mug of hot chocolate for some cocoa cheer with an extra kick instead of peppermint schnapps.

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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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