For the past few years, Top Cow Productions (a self-contained comic book studio within Image Comics, one of the biggest publishers in the business) has been running an annual Talent Hunt where they select a handful of aspiring writers and artists to produce a couple of one-shot comics set within Top Cow’s extended continuity, which includes comics like Witchblade, The Darkness, Cyber Force and Aphrodite IX. On Thursday, Top Cow announced the winners of the 2016 Talent Hunt… and I’m one of them!
This is a dream come true for me, as you might imagine. The opportunity to have my name on an official, published comic book, to be paid for my skills as a writer and a storyteller, to get to collaborate with the insanely-talented artists that also won this year’s contest… it’s almost overwhelming. And considering the hectic, rough-and-tumble year I’ve had so far, it is a very gratifying turn to have this success fall into my lap.
I don’t know when the finished comic will be out, but I hope that you all will read it and enjoy it whenever it finally hits shelves. For now, I’d just like to thank the whole Top Cow team, particularly Matt Hawkins and Ryan Cady (for providing this opportunity and for choosing my story) and to congratulate my fellow winners, including writers Leon Glaser, Joanna Marsh & Charles Crapo and artists Sara Knaepen, Balasz Valyogos, Mark Whitaker & Marco Renna.
Most of all though, I’d like to thank each and every one of my friends and family for all of their support and encouragement over the past six months and over the years. More than anyone, this of course means my girlfriend Shiran Lugashi, who has inspired me and motivated me like no one else. I love you sweetheart, and I love you all. I wouldn’t be here without you.
Now let’s see what happens next!
While superheroes tend to dominate the conversation when it comes to the comics world — to the point where “superhero movie” and “comic book movie” are somewhat interchangeable in cinephile circles — there has been a real expansion of the medium over the course of my lifetime. And the result of that is the current independent comics boom, which has seen an enormous number of original, boundary-breaking stories that really embrace and demonstrate the true potential of the comics medium. Leading that independent boom has been Image Comics, arguably the mecca of creative freedom and artistic ambition for comic book creators, and looking at both their present and future I think it’s safe to say that they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
One of the great traditions of superhero comics has been the Event Crossover, where a massive story is told over multiple series that eventually has major repercussions across the entire self-contained universe. These have become a yearly occurrence over at Marvel Comics, and some truly exciting stories have been told through such events; one of them forms the basis of next summer’s Captain America: Civil War, while another leant its title to Avengers: Age of Ultron. While these events can sometimes represent the both the pinnacle of serialized comic book storytelling and the nadir of impenetrable continuity apocrypha, they often birth tons of great storytelling opportunities for the daringly creative. To me, this summer’s Secret Wars — and the All-New, All-Different Marvel relaunch that will follow it — represents the absolute best of what shared universe storytelling can be, and how in the right hands it can transcend the corporate mandates to become truly impactful mythmaking.
There is a lot of talk nowadays about diversity and representation in media, something that sometimes seems heightened in geek-centric pop culture that (more than most) has primarily only catered to straight white men/boys. And while there are many areas of geekdom that could still stand to improve in this area, one medium that is more and more leading the diversity charge is comics. The medium has seen a boom of diverse representation in the last few years, which in spite of the protestations of some hardline trolls is nothing but good news for both the artform and its audience. And while all of the major comics publishers have made great strides in these areas, perhaps the most stark change for me has been with DC Comics, who in many ways are running directly counter to what is expected of their brand to present diverse and original characters and series that everyone can (and should) enjoy. With San Diego Comic-Con set to kick-off on Thursday, I thought this would be a good time to appraise the comics industry for my fellow geeks, and DC’s diverse offerings seem like as good a starting place as any.
Brian K Vaughan has been one of my favorite writers of any medium for awhile now. Just the triumvirate of Ex Machina, Runaways and Y: The Last Man get him a place of love and respect in my heart, and that doesn’t even account for Pride of Baghdad and his contributions to Ultimate X-men, Dr. Strange, Buffy Season 8 and numerous episodes of Lost. So when it was announced that he was writing a sprawling space opera with gorgeous art from Fiona Staples, I was more than onboard. While I loved the first few issues, I fell behind until this past weekend, when I read all of the series thus far in preparation for Saga’s return from hiatus with this week’s issue #25. In diving fully into this already-epic, far-from-over yarn, I’ve discovered a brilliantly bizarre and emotionally powerful exploration of family and pacifism, that reaffirms Brian K Vaughan as one of my favorite storytellers.
Today, comics writer Jim Zub started the Twitter hashtag #fourcomics, where he asked anyone and everyone to post four covers from comics they were influenced by or loved as they were growing up. Being a longtime comics reader myself, I couldn’t help but fall into this beautiful nostalgia trap, and the end result is the post below, which ended up being a nice cross-section of my core fandom when it was all said and done. Follow me after the jump and enjoy!
My love of superhero stories has been well-documented, so it probably shouldn’t be surprising to any of you that I am also a big fan of comic books as an art form. However, many of my favorite comics stories are not superhero stories at all, despite superheroes still being the dominant subject matter in the comics world, and many of my favorite creators are recognized at least as much for their original non-superhero work. One of my favorite comic book writers right now is Scott Snyder, who (besides his amazing work with Batman) is best known for his terrific American Vampire series. I’ve also developed a great appreciation for artist Sean Murphy, who really blew me away with his incisive and gorgeous Punk Rock Jesus. Just last month the two of them completed another project called The Wake, a 10-issue miniseries which, in spite of its relatively short length, is one of the more ambitious and epic stories I’ve seen in awhile, in any medium. Having just finished reading it myself, I realized how The Wake demonstrates exactly what makes comics stand out as a form of storytelling from all others.