Z2 Producing Blondie Graphic Novel from Comic Legends Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and John McCrea

Z2 Producing Blondie Graphic Novel from Comic Legends Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and John McCrea

In recent years, Z2 Comics has committed to partnering with music artists in efforts to create original graphic novel productions. Today, they announced that they are working with the groundbreaking rock band Blondie to create a one-of-a-kind imaginative oral history of the band called “Against the Odds“.

The book is being written by comic book veterans Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti with art from the amazing John McRea. There are multiple covers available and the project is available now for pre-order with pricing options available to suit the casual fan to super-groupie.

This project is definitely exciting. The combination of the publisher, comic creative team, and musical subject seems like a match made in rock heaven.

The book will be distributed in the Fall of 2021. You can check out the order page here, and the full press release from Z2 comics is below.


Press Release:

BLONDIE AND Z2 COMICS PARTNER FOR ALL-NEW GRAPHIC NOVELAGAINST THE ODDS DETAILING THE EARLY YEARS OF THE NEW YORK’S MOST ENDURING ROCK & ROLL, ART AND FASHION ICONS

Blondie Announce Their Comic Book Debut in the Midst of A Huge Year for the Rock & Roll Hall Of Famers, Set to Include the EP & Film Release of Their Groundbreaking Trip to Cuba, Their First Archival Box Set, and More

‘Against the Odds’ to be Written by famed ‘Harley Quinn’ Creative Duo Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, and Available to Preorder Now

NEW YORK, NY –Legendary New York fashion and music icons Blondie announce their partnership with Z2 Comics to produce their first-ever graphic novel! Inspired by some of their most iconic tracks, along with a few “deep cuts,” this book is sure to deserve a place on the bookshelf of every music fan.

Jimmy Palmiotti says “I think it would be impossible to give Blondie and the downtown New York music scene the proper respect and visceral representation it deserves if I didn’t live through it. My life was comic books and music and there was no more exciting time in my life than when Blondie hit the music scene. Amanda and I are having a blast telling the story of the band and how they went from killing it on stage in small clubs to becoming an unstoppable worldwide sensation.”

Amanda Conner continues “When I was a growing up (and still pretty much, to this day), a few of the things I loved were music, comic book heroes, ultra-cool style, and a wicked, wild, and weird sense of humor. Blondie embodies all those things, and when I listen to their music, I can’t not dance. Or if I have to sit and work for long hours, I can’t not at least bounce and bop along in my seat. As a teenager, Debbie Harry was one of the super-heroes I wanted to grow up to be. In fact, I still wanna grow up to be her.” Continue reading “Z2 Producing Blondie Graphic Novel from Comic Legends Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and John McCrea”

With Further Ado #135: Comics (M)Ad Men

With Further Ado #135: Comics (M)Ad Men

I don’t think this week’s review will be at center of a firestorm like last week’s review of Abraham’s Riesman’s The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee.  As you may have read, the “controversial” biography  is another deep dive Stan Lee biography.  And in this arena with so many passionate fans, everyone has an opinion. It certainly has generated heated discussions.

On the other hand, Fantagraphic’s Comics Ad Men by Steven Brower is also the type of book that I’m eager to read, but somehow had escaped my notice.  It came out in 2019, but I just learned about it and I snagged a copy last month.

Stan Drake Art

Many comic professionals don’t do just one thing.  In the up-and-down world of creatives, it’s generally important to be able to work on different types of assignments, sometimes in different industries. When one thing gets slow, there’s a need to work on another.

Neal Adams Ad Work

Steve Brower has assembled a top-notch showcase of comics artists that produced traditional (and some non-traditional) advertising.  There’s wonderful examples of from artists like Neal Adams, C.C. Beck, Stan Drake, Creig Flessel, Noel Sickles, Basil Wolverton, and so many more.

Brower also provides some background to help readers understand those halcyon Mad Men days of advertising firms.  There are fascinating stories about DDB, Young & Rubican, McCann Erickson, Leo Burnett and Johnston & Cushing. This informative look into the past is peppered by industry luminaries like Joe Kubert and one of his students-turned-pro, Thom (Love and Capes) Zahler.

Frank Robbins Art

In that classic age of ad agencies, Westport, Connecticut was a bedroom community for Madison Avenue . But I also learned here that there was an artist’s drop off spot in that town. Illustrators could drop off their work late at night. It would get to the agencies by 10 am., and then they’d get their next assignments later day.  Who needed email, Dropbox or Slack?

 

 

 

Brainiac On Banjo #106: “Be Original?”

Brainiac On Banjo #106: “Be Original?”

Having spent the better part of my life in the comic book field – define “better” as you wish – one might think that I wouldn’t be so hung up on originality. After all, when it comes to those companies big enough to hoist a catalog, for 60 years now the orders of the day have been “reboot, relaunch, revise, and retread.”

Those are my words and not those of any marketing whiz. I am reminded of one of the medium’s great intellectual property redevelopers, editor Julius Schwartz. His nickname was “B.O. Schwartz.” The “B.O.” part stood for “Be Original.”

But, for the purpose of this treatise, let’s put aside four-color history and, instead, let’s talk about television. Or streaming. Or whatever we’ll wind up calling what’s been flickering between those programming arms on either side of the big glass teat.

Take a good look at some of the new fodder that’s been appearing on the boob tube the past decade and what’s in the pipeline for the immediate future, and you’ll see the orders of the day are now “reboot, relaunch, revise, and retread.” Why? Because it’s worked so well for comics?

Nudging aside my sarcasm (no easy feat), look at some of the recent programming options we have been given in the fantasy drama field. We find the reassembled return of Walker, Hawaii 5-0, MacGyver, Star Trek The Red Shirt Years, Doctor Who, Battlestar: Galactica, Superman, and many others that walk in the shoes of others. If it was once extremely popular and it wasn’t a western set in the old west, chances are it’s been or about to be rebooted, relaunched, revised, and retreaded. A new coat of paint and you’ve got yourself a franchise.

So, what do we have in that ever-widening pipeline right now? Law and Order SUV Mach II. The return of Criminal Minds. Yellowstone The Prequel. CSI (OG). Even Frasier. One might quibble that the upcoming return of Sex and the City is not drama per se. I don’t have a fully informed opinion about that, but to the extent that I am aware that program has been dramatic and certainly quite fantasy-oriented.

I could offer the argument, one that was standard in the comics field until maybe the early 1970s, that there’s an audience turnover and thus, for today’s viewers, these revivals are something new. Except they are not. Television has been swimming in reruns since Ampex invented videotape recording in the 1950s. Just about everything broadcast on network television since their videotape recorder was first installed has been broadcast and rebroadcast ad infinitum ever since. DVDs gave all that another platform, digital television, and the decimal television stations have expanded that, and now streaming has turned such accessibility into an ocean of nostalgia.

(A digression: the history of Ampex, which heavily involves Bing Crosby, Les Paul, and Ray Dolby, is quite interesting to those so inclined, as well as to those who have worked for ABC-TV during the past 60 years.)

Ampex-AVR-2-Quad-TVR

I’m not suggesting that all these reboots suck, or even most of them. But there’s no catharsis in “been there, done that.” It used to be each market had between three and five television outlets; today the only restraints are bandwidth and speed (both are increasing) and the consumer’s willingness to subscribe. That creates a lot of opportunity for all sorts of stuff, and there is more good stuff on “television” than one could have been imagined back when FCC commissioner Newton Minow called the medium a “vast wasteland” in 1961.

Nonetheless, Julie Schwartz’s admonition to “be original” is just as valid today as it was back in the day. If watching images float rapidly as viewed between our toes continues to be a thing, it is impossible to offer enough originality.

Sorry, Stabler. I’d rather see a bit more innovation.

Actress Sasha Calle Will Debut As Supergirl In ‘The Flash’ Movie 

Image from Warner Bros.

The Young and the Restless Daytime Emmy nominee Sasha Calle has scored the feature role of DC Universe’s new Supergirl. The actress plays Lola Rosales on the long running Y&R soap. She is the first Latina to be cast in the role and will soon join the production of the Ezra Miller led Flash movie.

What do you think of this news? We think she is a terrific actress and are happy for her getting the opportunity. Let’s all hope the film is good and she is not wasted in it.

It’s about time we believed a girl could fly again on the big screen.

Check out Deadline for the full details.

Source: DC’s New ‘Supergirl’ Is Actress Sasha Calle; Will Debut In ‘The Flash’ Movie – Deadline

With Further Ado #134: Believing the Truth – A Look at the New Stan Lee Bio

With Further Ado #134: Believing the Truth – A Look at the New Stan Lee Bio

Maybe it is all about the marketing. I’ve been very surprised by the vehement reaction of many fans to Abraham Reisman’s new Stan Lee bio True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee. The cover, designed by Barbara M. Bachman, showcases a less than flattering photo of Stan*.  The whole look, in fact, seems to evoke the feeling of dread that fills us when we realize there is an exposé of a beloved figure, designed to shock us with all the awful disclosures.

In fact, the pre-publication reactions I’ve seen to this book in some online fan groups have resulted in online cat fights. Some fans say they have no need to ever read that trash, while other collectors and fans, who may already think of ill of Stan Lee, are eager for more fuel for their ire.  I interjected a few times with posts like, “I’m reading it now. That’s not really what it’s about”.  But when a person is in the heat of an argument, they don’t want to listen to that sort of thing.

I’ve read it and enjoyed it quite a bit.  Like 99.9% percent of people of who have walked the earth, Stan was a guy who did some good things and did some less-than good things.  And while I will say this book isn’t a tell all, it does provide a frame of reference to better understand motivations at different stages of his life. If anything, I would say that the book shines a new and harsh light on many of Stan’s family members and business associates.

I’ve recently reviewed a few other books in the rapidly growing “Stan Lee Book Category”. Danny Fingeroth’s A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee was an exceptional and balanced read. John Morrow’s Kirby & Stan: Stuff Said was exceedingly well-researched and presented a detailed crazy-quilt of the public statements by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby as a way to better understand who did what and why they said all the (often-contradictory) things they said.

Riesman’s True Believer takes a deep dive into Stan’s Marvel years, the time that most fans, I imagine, want to know more about.  It’s clear he’s engaged in exhaustive research. He’s also a clever writer. But to me, the most fascinating parts of Riesman’s book are the details about Stan’s later years. This was “new information” to me. Riesman paints a picture of a man struggling on many fronts and seemingly, to an outside observer, making so many bad decisions and engaging in (so many) unfortunate relationships.

I remember when Leonard Nimoy died, and his frequent co-star Bill Shatner didn’t make it to his funeral.  To casual fans, this was unthinkable!  Their onscreen characters would have done anything for the other in the name of friendship. In reality, Shatner and Nimoy, were at a stage in their relationship where they were again feuding.  It probably wouldn’t have been appropriate for Shatner to attend the funeral. I believe he sent his daughters, which was deemed the right thing to do for those who really know about these things.

Likewise, with a man like Stan, it’s often difficult for fans to reconcile his humanity with the overwhelming goodness, sense of justice and heroic decisiveness that many of the characters he created and co-created embody.  But for those of us who are eager to learn more, who want to know what made our favorites tick, and who aren’t afraid to better understand their failures, shortfalls and humanity, True Believer is a must read.

***

*I kept thinking about what my favorite book designer, Chip Kidd, would’ve done with a cover like this.

Brainiac On Banjo #105: The Fat Lady No Longer Sings [UPDATED]

Brainiac On Banjo #105: The Fat Lady No Longer Sings [UPDATED]

This past Monday, Dallas Mavericks maverick owner Mark Cuban decided to enact a policy he committed do a year ago: he stopped playing the American national anthem before home games. Evidently, since that moment nobody’s dick has fallen off.

Of course, Cuban’s obvious communist affiliations came to light a few years ago when he supported athletes who took a knee during the Star-Spangled Banner. Funny how that works: had he implemented the decision to shit-can Francis Scott Key at that time, the loony-right might have promoted him as a proto-Proud Boogaloo Boy.

There’s a phrase in common usage: “It ain’t over until the fat lady sings.” If you are unfamiliar with its roots, well, it’s not about body shaming. It refers to Brünnhilde’s aria that ends Richard Wagner’s 15-hour long opera Der Ring des Nibelungen. Generally speaking, a woman of rather large dimensions is cast as the Valkyrie Brünnhilde, although the true culturally elite more likely recognize the part as played by Bugs Bunny in Warner Bros’ 1957 masterpiece “What’s Opera Doc?” Bugs is neither a female soprano nor of rather large proportions.

A bit closer to the point, in some circles the phrase can refer to the singer who came out at the end of various British entertainments to close out the show with “God Save The Queen.” More recently, Monty Python replaced this with a slide that urges those who attended their live performance to “piss off.”

Which is what Mark Cuban did. What the hell does the playing of the national anthem have to do with the playing of professional sports? Why is that considered patriotic? It’s a gathering of temporarily gifted athletes who have signed indentured servant agreements with insanely rich people who conflate team ownership with the size of their respective penises.

Hmmm. Wait. Maybe that is the American Way after all.

After Cuban performed his act of sacrilege, NBA spokesman Tim Frank told the Associated Press “Under the unique circumstances of this season, teams are permitted to run their pregame operations as they see fit.” I would not want to play against Mr. Frank in a game of Dodgeball.

Nonetheless, some said Cuban’s move “disrespected the nation.” I beg to differ. I believe the opposite is true. Do we play The Star-Spangled Banner when firefighters show up to battle a four-alarmer? Not usually. Podcaster Ben Shapiro asked if they would play the Chinese national anthem instead, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is as dumb as shit. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #105: The Fat Lady No Longer Sings [UPDATED]”

With Further Ado #133: It’s an Ad, Ad, Ad World

With Further Ado #133: It’s an Ad, Ad, Ad World

I always kinda liked the ads in comics.  In stark contrast to prose books (I am a big bookworm and love to read books, too), the constant interruption of comic stories by advertisements sprinkled throughout has a charm all of its own. And when they fit in with comics, it’s even better. Sometimes the ads showcase other genre-related properties like movies, TV shows and licensed merchandise.  Sometimes they just serve as a nostalgic tether to days, and products, long gone by.

I’m proud to have had a few of my ads appear in various comics over the years. It was a thrill to see them in print. Like the Super Bowl, there were times when I’d look forward to seeing the ads more than the main event.  In a recent conversation with my old Nabisco pal, Doug Haase, we ended up talking all about our old Marvel comics cross promotion and the ads that went along with it.

I’ve worked with professional experts too. Creative types as well as sales folks. As far as I’m concerned, people like Marvel’s Renee Krumper, Valiant’s Seymour Miles, and DC’s Avery Stiratt have an important place in comics history.  Most notable is the entrepreneurial warrior, Kris Longo. He’s been fighting the good fight at Geek Riot Media, the firm he founded, for years now.

With all that in mind, I was especially delighted when I stumbled across Harvey’s Dick Tracy #99. I’m working on a Dick Tracy article for the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, and I need to get up to speed. Continue reading “With Further Ado #133: It’s an Ad, Ad, Ad World”

Preview Review for the Week of 2/10/2021

Preview Review for the Week of 2/10/2021

Welcome to the latest installment of Preview Reviews.

This week we have two new number ones to review for you. The first is Orcs from the Kaboom imprint of Boom! Studios, and the other is Radiant Black from Image Comics.

You can find these books at your LCS on February 10, 2021.


Orcs #1
Boom! Studios
Written by Christine Larsen
Art by Larsen
Colors by Larsen & H.E. Gregory (Flats)
Letters by Larsen
Cover Art by Larsen

Original Solicitation:

For fans of The Adventure Zone and Critical Role, meet Bog and his misfit crew of Orcs as they adventure through the Known World courtesy of acclaimed cartoonist Christine Larsen.

After being banished from their Orcish village by King Hrograhgah (it was a simple misunderstanding, involving an acorn-related prank!), Bog and his crew venture out into the world to seek their fortune, and hopefully find their way back home again.

Tag along with Bog, Zep, Pez, Utzu and Gurh as they venture through the dreaded Eerieasallhel Forest, face off against Trolls, Gnomes, squirrels and more, and follow in the footsteps of the legendary Orc hero, Drod One-Eye!

Every issue of Orcs! is oversized, featuring more than 30 story pages.

PCS Review:

This book met all of our expectations. It is a fun, fast moving romp with plenty of twists and turns. Christine Larsen uses some interesting framing techniques in storytelling to keep the reader engaged in the the affairs of the interesting characters that she has created.

The visual aspect to the narrative is well-paced and creatively laid out. The use of color to hit thematic story tones is spot on.  This book is really a visual treat.

Overall, this comic is entertaining and enjoyable, while doing a great job in building an intriguing story. We are certainly looking forward to the next issue.


Radiant Black #1
Image Comics
Written by Kyle Higgins
Art by Marcelo Costa
Letters by Becca Carey
Cover Art by Michael Cho

Original Solicitation:

For fans of INVINCIBLE and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comes a brand-new ONGOING SERIES from acclaimed writer KYLE HIGGINS and artist MARCELO COSTA that reinvents superheroes for a new generation!

Nathan Burnett has just turned thirty, and things aren’t great: He’s working (and failing) at two jobs, his credit card debt is piling up, and his only move… is moving back home with his parents. But when Nathan discovers and unlocks the ethereal, cosmic RADIANT, he’s given the power to radically change his fortunes! There’s just one problem: The powers don’t belong to him. And the COSMIC BEINGS who created them want them back… by any means necessary.

PCS Review:

This book is a great start to this series. Kyle Higgins and Marcelo Costa craft a complete “not so” secret origin to the protagonist of this book. The real world scenario that puts the main character in the place to gain super powers is a major factor in the story, and the circumstances that deliver him to that event are both timely and excellently written. There is a real sense of empathy that is developed by the reader toward Nathan.

The art in this book is wonderful. The style is the perfect mix of slightly cartoony, superhero, and indie slice of life. Costa’s art strikes the right balance for this book which has a great action sequence, that takes up the middle part of the book, and plenty of emotional story beats. The color work and background details are the spices that complete this entrée. I need to say that Becca Carey does a fantastic job lettering this book. There are some expository parts of dialogue that the story needs, and the lettering adds to the weight and emotion of the scenes.

We are excited to see what comes next. This book is definitely going on the pull list.

Weird Scenes #121: This Is America Burning

Weird Scenes #121: This Is America Burning

“Five to one, baby, one in five. Nobody here gets out alive, now. You get yours, baby,
I’ll get mine.” – Five To One, written by The Doors, 1968.

For a century, the United States’ foreign policy was built around the concept that, to paraphrase Field of Dreams, “if you build them democracy, they will come.” It was the cornerstone of our actions in Iraq, by way of example, during our 2003 invasion. Shock, and awe, and then democracy. We quickly discovered that “democracy” is a concept that many people did not understand, believe, and/or trust. A whole lot of brainy Americans on all points of the political spectrum had a very hard time understanding what, to them, was simply a matter of logic.

Well, logic is overrated; more so than our worst fantasies might divine. A whole lot of Americans do not understand democracy, believe in it, and/or trust it. Approximately 37% feel that way if you look at the percentage of Trump supporters over the past four years. We — those of us who equate democracy with patriotism — saw that number and said “37% is a ridiculously low number; in a democracy, 37% means they lose.”

Yeah. But the ghost of Santayana rattles very heavy chains. According to many historians, only about one-third of the colonists in what is now the United States of America supported the American Revolution. If that had been a democracy, we’d have Queen Elizabeth’s face on our one-pound notes.

I don’t think logic wins battles, although I didn’t realize it scares so many people out of their wits. I remained optimistic about the human race until sometime late in the pre-Covid era. I thought we were inherently good. Sure, we have our faults and some of them, as evidenced by Hitler, Mao, Trump, Manson, and McVeigh, are mindlessly horrible. But by and large, I felt that, as a species, we were pretty okay. Continue reading “Weird Scenes #121: This Is America Burning”

Brainiac On Banjo #104: The Great Buck Rogers War!

Brainiac On Banjo #104: The Great Buck Rogers War!

For more than three decades now, “people” have been trying to figure out what to do with Buck Rogers, America’s first major science-fiction hero. Buck, then named Anthony, first appeared in Philip Francis Nowlan’s novella “Armageddon 2419 A.D., as published in the August 1928 issue of Amazing Stories magazine. The story was noticed by National Newspaper Service syndicate president John F. Dille, who hired Nowlan to turn it into the first major science-fiction newspaper comic strip. The strip debuted on January 7th of the following year, some six months after the initial pulp magazine appearance.

Buck Rogers was a hit. An enormous number of merchandising and licensing deals ensued and Buck was seen in toy stores, a movie serial (starring Buster Crabbe), a radio serial, several television shows, and comic books. The other newspaper syndicates jumped on the Buckwagon, offering us Brick Bradford, Don Dixon, Drift Marlo, Space Cadet, and the spaceman whose fortunes eclipsed them all, Flash Gordon. Buster Crabbe starred in the three Flash Gordon serials as well.

As the realities of the real space program captured the world’s attention, spaceman stories began to look naïve; their sense of wonder was co-opted by reality. Buck’s adventures were drawn by some truly top-notch artists, including Frank Frazetta, Howard Chaykin, George Tuska, Gray Morrow, and Murphy Anderson, following in the footsteps of the originating artists, Dick Calkins, Russell Keaton and Rick Yager, but by the time we tossed beer cans on the moon Buck was but a cultural memory. A vaguely successful television series started up in 1979 and lasted two years.

This has not kept people from trying to bring Buck back. Not at all. But such efforts were hampered by recent lawsuits claiming Buck Rogers had lapsed into the public domain. The Dille Family Trust had gone blooie, and a judge ruled they were not eligible for bankruptcy relief.

After three years of listening to the crickets chirp, Legendary Entertainment said they were doing a movie, and Flint Dille, an accomplished television writer and grandson of John Dille, got on board. Brian K. Vaughan is writing the script. And, lo and behold, George Clooney is an executive producer — prompting rumors that George would play the lead. As much as I like Clooney, this is nearly laughable. Dr. Huer, the not-mad scientist of the series, would be more acceptable but I doubt George is likely to shave his head for the part. Bill Murray might, but he rarely returns phone calls. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #104: The Great Buck Rogers War!”