Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to something great fans are doing to an awesome comic that came out. So let’s get to it …
Hey kids, comics!
This week sees a bumper crop of great children’s comics, starting with the debut issue of Natasha Allegri’s Bee and PuppyCat from BOOM! Studios. Allegri is a storyboard revisionist for the Adventure Time cartoon and was the one who created Fionna and Cake, the gender-swapped versions of the main characters. Bee and PuppyCat, which started as an animated short, then was Kickstarted into a full season, is sort of a magical-girl tale about a young woman and her mysterious animal friend, PuppyCat, who helps her find work. Allegri’s lovely art and the whimsical premise give this comic a lot of kid appeal.
Also from BOOM! Studios this week is the collected edition of Mike Kunkel’s marvelous Herobear and the Kid: The Inheritance; Adventure Time: Candy Capers, a graphic novel by Ananth Panagariya, Yuka Ota, and Ian McGinty; the third volume of Royden Lepp’s Rust; and the second issue of Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson and Brooke Allen’s Lumberjanes, which has already become something of a cult classic.
But wait — there’s more! Oni Press has the fifth volume of Ted Naifeh’s Courtney Crumrin adventures as well as the second volume of Power Lunch, a superhero story by J. Torres and Dean Trippe about a boy who gets his superpowers from the foods he eats.
For those who like a good toy tie-in (and what kid doesn’t?), Papercutz debuts their newest Lego series, Legends of Chima. Action Lab checks in with a volume of Princeless short stories, cantilevering off their surprise hit about a princess who doesn’t take any crap. IDW has the first trade of their Ben 10 comic, DC has a new Scooby-Doo title and Archie has a 1,000-page bonanza collection. All in all, a great week for kids’ comics. (Brigid Alverson)
Colleen Doran shares her knowledge of comic art negatives
If Colleen Doran never wrote about the creative process, I would still immensely respect her for her vast body of engaging work over the years. But the fact is this busy creator is selfless enough to share insight into the creative process on a weekly basis, with a level of detail that astounds me.
This week provided two notable examples, when she wrote two posts on Wednesday and Friday regarding the restoration work that has been done by her and associates on A Distant Soil via the comic art negatives. The education she has gained throughout the process is astounding to learn, particularly due to her absolute candor. Consider the snippets of quotes from her in just one of the pieces (I intentionally only cherry pick partial quotes because it would behoove folks to read the whole thing):
“I paid thousands of dollars to a professional photographer to archive my paintings. Yet now that I have the technical skill to properly examine and digitize those negatives, I realize I wasted my money. Most of them are so fuzzy, so off-color, they are unusable…
“It was technically impossible for me to do this work over a decade ago because computers simply could not scan at the high resolutions we use now…
“An artist who is unable to archive their own work is at the mercy of whomever they hire. Until I hired Allan, I spent well over a decade pouring my money down a hole and getting very poor results. Almost all of my archives prior to 2010 are useless. Entire stories, such as the short ‘Super Idol,’ which I did with Warren Ellis, are lost.”
What engaged me most about the posts is how effectively Doran shares her knowledge, as well as how much she seeks insight from fellow creators, such as Jose Villarubia.
I would be remiss to not point out the posts should make you want to go out and buy Volume I and II of A Distant Soil, which are now available. If you are in the United States and order direct from Doran, you can get get them signed with a signed mini-print with free shipping. (Tim O’Shea)
Viz gets the Sailor Moon license–and does it right
The rights to the Sailor Moon anime (broadcast and home video) lapsed in 2004-5, leaving a generation of Sailor Scouts without a legal way to watch the show, but Viz announced at Anime Central that they have acquired the license and will start running subtitled episodes on Hulu on Monday. Yes, tomorrow.
Fans on Twitter were delighted with the details of the deal: Viz has licensed the entire run of the anime, 200 episodes, some of which have never been shown in North America before. The original material was sliced and diced for American audiences, but Viz is having none of that: They are showing the anime uncut, and they have restored the original relationship between Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune, who were presented as cousins in the import but are actually a couple. Viz also has three movies and the license for Sailor Moon Crystal, the new Sailor Moon anime that will debut July 5.
Why does Sailor Moon matter? For the first time in decades, girls had a superheroine they could relate to. Usagi/Bunny/Serena was a schoolgirl who would rather play video games than go to cram school, who was constantly running afoul of the adults one way or another, but who transformed into a fabulous superhero with a whole other life. Who doesn’t want to do that when they are 12? Sailor Moon jump-started the shoujo anime/manga boom that brought girls into the comics medium en masse, and that generation is now changing the face of comics both as readers and as creators.
That said, Sailor Moon is over 20 years old. Will it resonate with today’s viewers, who have plenty of other options? The manga certainly has: Kodansha Comics’ new translation of the series has done very well, challenging Naruto month after month for the top of the manga/graphic novel charts. (The manga series just ended.) Those can’t all have been nostalgia purchases. Viz seems to be covering all the bases, with free streaming anime on Hulu and their own NeonAlley anime channel, mass-market DVDs and DVD/Blu-Ray sets for those who just want to see the show, and a special limited edition for collectors and longtime fans. (Brigid Alverson)
The Flash races to your TV in a new promo
Thirteen years ago, Smallville made its debut on the WB (which eventually became The CW after it merged with UPN). This marked the beginning of an unlikely run of superhero TV… and of Vancouver and Victoria masquerading as several key comic book cities. (Just… how many comic book universes does Hatley Castle inhabit?) Smallville, and it’s unlikely 10 year run on the air, made the way for Arrow when Justin Hartley first donned the mantle and popularized a somewhat obscure character. His role was eventually handed off to Stephen Amell in a different TV continuity. And now it’s time for Arrow to hand off to the next superhero show in the lineage.
I actually had high hopes for The Flash after Grant Gustin’s guest star appearance as Barry Allen in Arrow. His sunny earnestness contrasted brightly against Starling City’s nightmarish urban landscape. But what really sold me was the way they handled the origin story. The Flash’s origins are just so goofy — Barry Allen gets struck lightning and is bathed by all of the chemicals, which he has in vials around the house? — that it just screamed like something that should be up for a gritty remake. Instead, his origins were played by the book. Lightning. Chemicals. Me leaping out of the couch and whooping like a madman. (Officer, this is the one and only time I will be cheering about someone getting struck by lightning.)
This week, The CW released a couple of trailers. The first shows the Arrow striding into a forest with his arrow nocked and aimed at one of those shooting range targets. It’s very Robin Hood, and not something you see often on the show. (Really cool visual, too.) Then Flash busts in and the two have some fun banter. Oh, man, two superheroes hanging around like they’re old pals? This has me more excited than the Justice League movie! (Plus, the contrast between red and green just reminds you of several other great DC Comics friendships.)
Then there’s a second trailer. It goes more in depth into what we’re going to see: a guy in a yellow Flash suit that’s responsible for the death of his parents, Barry Allen getting some help (and his signature red superhero costume) from STAR Labs, and … The WEATHER WIZARD?!?!?! Aw, sweet, we’re going to see the Flash Rogues right from the beginning! Let me remind you, Smallville fans had to wait 10 years before Clark Kent donned the Superman costume. And the Arrow needs to fight villains from Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery because his own aren’t that commonly known. The Flash, though… he’s getting straight into the superhero action from the get-go.
That’s what’s got me excited. From the trailers, it looks like The Flash is going to be an unapologetic superhero show. A guy in a genuine superhero suit with crazy powers going against a cast of colorful villains. I cannot wait. (Larry Cruz)