Free Stuff

A Jones for Indiana




I love Indiana Jones. Probably even more than Star Wars. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” is my favorite movie, ever. To this day, I remember the day that “Raiders” was released in theaters – June 12, 1981. It was the same day that the original “Clash of the Titans” was released. My friends and I wanted to see both, and there was great debate over which to see on opening night. The decision, ultimately, was “Clash” because we figured Ray Harryhausen monsters were a pretty safe bet, but this “Raiders” movie was an unknown, except for starring Han Solo.

(A brief aside: Harrison Ford has a home in the same town in which I live. He’s not seen here very often, but he’s been known to fly into the local airstrip, get a cup of coffee at the diner across the street, and then head for his place. So … pretty cool.)

Anyway, on Friday night, at the Mayfair Twin theater in Kingston, NY, we went to see “Clash” and enjoyed it well enough for a movie with Harry Hamlin in a skirt. Saturday night we lined up for the early show of “Raiders” … and I was transfixed. It was all familiar, but I had never seen anything like it. It was fantastic, with a dose of the supernatural, but it was all believable because the main character – Indy – bled and sweated and strove and even failed. The pace was so break-neck that I would’ve sworn the whole thing went by in mere minutes. It was as much of a transformative experience for me as seeing the original “Star Wars” four years before. The film ended, with the Ark essentially lost again in a vast warehouse, and my friends and I left the theater. We got right back in line, and saw it again immediately.

I really didn’t pay a lot of attention to the Indiana Jones comics Marvel published. I wasn’t paying attention to comics in general at the time. A few movies later, the license passed to Dark Horse, by which time I was reading comics again. Eventually I was writing them, including some “Star Wars” comics, which led me to inquire about tackling some Indiana Jones stories. Still hasn’t happened, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

I bugged Dave Land, my editor at Dark Horse, on a regular basis about doing an Indiana Jones series, mini-series or even a one-shot. But with Indy seemingly in retirement, there was no traction to get something going, the theory being that if there wasn’t a movie to boost interest, there wouldn’t be enough of an audience for a comic to make financial sense.

Then the rumors of a fourth Indy film started to sound more real. So my Samurai: Heaven and Earth compatriot Luke Ross – also a big Indy fan – and I put together the pages you see here. I wrote this three-page sequence, and as you can plainly see, Luke did a truly amazing job on the art. The pages feature Indy in the Himalayas, relieving Nazis of a Tibetan treasure, with an Asian femme fatale as his sidekick. And, since the setting was Tibet, we simply had to include a yeti.

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 3 (With snow fx)

The nugget of the story was inspired by something I’d seen on the National Geographic channel, detailing German expeditions into Tibet in 1938-1939, led by an SS officer and zoologist named Ernst Shafer. There’s some evidence that Shafer’s purpose, or at least one of them, was a search for the purported roots of the Aryan race. You can read more about the historical expedition here .

The sample pages were successful in that they landed Luke the gig of drawing the adaptation of “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” There was an additional mini, “Indiana Jones and the Tomb of the Gods,” after the adaptation (my buddy Bart Sears ended up filling in on some of the art), as well as a few animated-style “Adventures” editions. But that’s been about it in terms of new Indy material. If nothing else, we got Omnibus editions reprinting the previous Dark Horse and Marvel comics.

I hope these pages aren’t the total of my dalliance with Indiana Jones in comics. But even if they are, I’m pretty pleased with them.

Cheers,

Ron


Free Comic Book Day in Boston

And the whirlwind tour continues. I’ll be in Boston for Free Comic Book Day this Saturday, May 1, signing at two New England Comics locations. I’ll be at the Brockton store from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and at the Harvard Square store from 4 to 7 p.m. More info can be had here.

I’ll be happy to sign anything you bring, but obviously the big item is going to be Artifacts #0, Top Cow’s FCBD offering for 2010. I wrote the story, and my Witchblade and Angelus collaborator Stjepan Sejic provided the art, with some sweet design work by Phil Smith. The story, which focuses on green-haired cyborg assassin Aphrodite IV, serves as a lead-in to this summer’s Artifacts 13-issue maxi-series. If you’re not all that familiar with the mechanics of the Top Cow Universe, this serves as a primer, setting up the important concepts and characters. If you’re already a regular reader, the issue moves the story further along, and drops some hints of what’s to come. A four-page preview can be found here.

We went for a stark cover, hoping it would stand out among the plethora of FCBD titles being offered. Guess I’ll be signing copies with a silver Sharpie, rather than a black one, huh? Hope some of you can make it out to the signings.

Cheers,

Ron


Two new previews

Preview pages for Angelus #3 and Magdalena #1 were just released.

Issues #1 and #2 of Angelus sold out at the distributor level, so hopefully that’s a good omen for issue #3, which includes appearances by Jackie Estacado, a.k.a. the Darkness, and Tom Judge, who seems to have something of a cult following in the Top Cow Universe. It’s still very much the story of new Angelus host Dani Baptiste, but the issue also lays a little groundwork for this summer’s Artifacts series. It also contains one of my favorite lines of dialogue I’ve written in a while, something that would not be printable in a family publication. You can check out the Angelus pages, with art by Stjepan Sejic, here


The Magdalena preview shows pages 1-4 of issue #1, which is a sequence that was added after I completed the first draft of the script. We decided to include an introduction that would be the Magdalena concept more accessible for new readers. So these four pages serve that purpose, as well as introduce a plot thread that will pay off later in the series. The art is by Nelson Blake 2nd (pencils), Sal Regla (inks) and Dave McCaig (colors). You can check out the Magdalena pages here.

Angelus #3 will be in stores April 14, while Magdalena #1 will be in stories April 21. Advance copies of Magdalena, with a con exclusive cover, will be available at the C2E2 convention in Chicago, April 16-18, which I will attend along with Nelson and other members of the Top Cow herd.

Cheers,

Ron


Cold Comfort

The late, lamented CrossGen Comics really missed Hollywood’s love affair with comics by a few years. There was interest, discussions, even some scripts generated, but none of the CrossGen properties ever made it very far in the development pipeline. Some of it was timing, some it was the screwball manner in which CrossGen’s big boss man wanted to negotiate film options. But at least one CG property made it to film … even if it was a short film.

Brandon Peterson and I collaborated on the four-issue Chimera mini-series, a hard sci-fi concept set on an ice planet. It was Brandon’s initial concept, and the overall story itself was a joint effort. I provided the dialogue, and Brandon provided the art, which included some of Brandon’s forays into building props or environments as 3-D computer models. The first mini really felt like a first chapter, but obviously we never got to go back and do more with it. A planned collected edition, which would have included additional pages, was never released.

Brandon was also the driving force in the effort by the Orlando-based DAVE School (Digital Animation and Visual Effects School) to turn a scene from Chimera into a CG animated short. Students from the school, with plenty of guidance and input from Brandon, produced the six-minute short, which you can see here. If I remember correctly, Brandon also provided the voice acting for the evil emperor.

Not bad at all for a bunch of students, huh?



Cheers,

Ron


Showing Patience


Here’s a quick interview link for you while I’ve had my head down getting two books off to press this week: Artifacts #0, which is the Free Comic Book Day offering, and Magdalena #1). The FCBD issue serves as an intro to Artifacts, and gives a pretty expansive intro to the Top Cow Universe. I’ll be at a couple of New England Comics locations in the Boston area for Free Comic Book Day on May 1. More information on that soon.

The interview gives an overview of the upcoming Magdalena series, and shows off a few final art pages from the series. You can see the interview here.

Cheers,

Ron


In living color

You’ve seen Matt Smith’s pencils, you’ve seen Terry Austin’s inks, now here’s the final color for the Albany Comic Con exclusive Magdalena #1 cover. Matt’s previous Albany Con cover was a Witchblade image, with color provided by Matt’s Doctor Who colorist, Charlie Kirchoff . Charlie wasn’t available for the quick turnaround this time, so we had to look a little further afield for the color. Actually, a lot further afield.

When I did some work for Virgin Comics (now reborn as Liquid Comics) a few years ago, I worked as both editor and writer with a number of extremely talented India-based artists. The vast majority were adept at pencils, inks and color alike, and could work in a variety of art styles. So with assistance from my writer friend Saurav Mohapatra, the call went out for somebody who could leap heroically into breach and color the cover. Coming to the rescue was Saumin Patel, whom I had worked with when I edited Devi for Virgin (written by Saurav, in fact). Saumin provided interior art (but not color) on Devi, drawing in a unique style and exhibiting a sophisticated storytelling sense. He and Saurav had also collaborated on Mumbai Macguffin, which Saumin drew, inked and colored. The breadth of his talent is pretty impressive, as he’s worked in comics, animation, magazine illustration, advertising, storyboards and more. You can, and should, check out his blogs here and here.

Saumin volunteered to take a run at coloring Matt and Terry’s cover. As you can see here, he came through with a killer version that really pops forward the main figure of Magdalena, without losing the signature Albany towers and Egg in the background. The strong red of her costume highlights and inner cloak is going to be recurring color motif in the monthly series, and Saumin captured that aspect as well.

Saumin also offered up a second, slightly different version, this one with a violet overlay, giving the tones a bit flatter look. Both versions work well, but we ultimately decided to go with the brighter piece. I’m very much in Saumin’s debt for his work here.

The exclusive Magdalena #1 edition will be on sale at the Albany Comic Con on April 25. The con site is here. Hope some of you will be able to come to the show. If the cover doesn’t sell out, a few of the remaining copies might show up for sale online.

Cheers,

Ron


Deadline doom

The dreaded deadline doom has been nipping at my heels, so the blog posts haven’t been as plentiful as I would’ve hoped the last week. I had an issue going to press last week, and two more heading off to press this week, so that means more time devoted to tweaking dialogue, proofing pages and all the rest of the tasks that go with putting an issue to bed. To tide you over, here are links to various stories on my work both past and present.

FCBD - Artifacts First up, an interview about this years Free Comic Book Day offering from Top Cow, with story by me and art by Stjepan Sejic. The issue serves as a lead-in to the upcoming Artifacts series. [ link ]
Hope is Lost - Artifacts teaserNext up, Matt Price covers the Top Cow presentation at this past week’s ComicsPRO gathering in Memphis. [ link ]
GL #51 CoverAnd finally, two different articles from the Multiversity Comics site, both concerning my Green Lantern run. The first is more of a broad remembrance, while the second is specific to the never-ending “women in refrigerators” outcry. [ #1 ][ #2 ]

Hope you find something you like.

Cheers,

Ron


Above and “Beyond”

Beyond 1One of my graphic novels is going to be a movie! Except it’s not really my graphic novel. It’s Deepak Chopra’s. And as with any movie deal, it’s only real when the cameras start rolling. So I guess there’s not much cause for excitement, at least on my part. But still … kinda cool.

In the waning days of the late, lamented Virgin Comics, I was asked to adapt a Deepak Chopra screenplay called “Beyond” into a four-issue series. Deepak’s son, Gotham Chopra, was the one who originally recruited me to do some work for Virgin, so I was flattered that he wanted to entrust his father’s screenplay to me. I was paired with artist Edison George, one of Virgin’s studio artists based in Bangalore. I had to do a little judicious trimming here and there, but I think I preserved the important aspects of “Beyond” in the screenplay-to-comics translation. I recruited my buddy Luke Ross for the cover to issue #1, an image that needed to somehow convey the cross-dimensional, metaphysical aspect of the story. On the interiors, Edison turned out some beautiful work on what were consistently dense pages in terms of panel count. And Gotham told me his dad was pleased with the comic, which to me was the most important aspect.

Today’s Hollywood Reporter carried the news that “Beyond” had been picked up for film production, with director Suri Krishnamma attached. The full story is here.

“Beyond” was described as “a supernatural thriller about an American businessman, Michael Morton, who arrives in India with his wife Anna and son Ty on a vacation. Wandering through a teeming bazaar, Ty watches as his mother wanders into a small store but never comes out, leading to a frenzied search for her whereabouts.” That’s it in a nutshell, though the story is much richer, much more complex, than that brief summation. I enjoyed working on it, even though adapting someone else’s original work is a wholly different challenge than creating your own.

The first three issues of Beyond made it out before Virgin’s publishing ceased. The fourth issue was written and drawn, but never hit the stands. When Virgin folded, the company’s properties were purchased by the founders, now under the banner of Liquid Comics. Issue #4 is now complete, including colors and letters, and awaits release both digitally, and as a collected print edition along with the first three issues. Hopefully that’ll happen sooner rather than later; it’d be nice to have the completed story out there. Issue #4 also contains Edison George’s best work, I think, including some truly spectacular, large-scale battle scenes. Turns out I’m working with Edison on another project, but that’s fodder for a future post.

If you’d like to sample Beyond, the first two issues are up for free online at Issuu.com.

Cheers,

Ron


More free stuff

Magdelena cover by Ryan sookI was actually planning a piece on the Hellboy: Weird Tales story I did with Jim Starlin, showing off some of the artwork in glorious black and white. But that’ll have to wait until next week, because Newsarama popped up the entirety of my Magdalena story with Ryan Sook today, and I didn’t want to let it pass without comment.

You can find the complete, 11-page story here.

It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever done, in large part thanks to Ryan’s amazing art and Dave McCaig’s perfect color. I remember talking to Ryan after the whole story was completed, and he raved about Dave’s color work, saying it the best interior color he’d ever received. I think Ryan is hands-down one of the best artists working in the business right now, so I was absolutely thrilled to have him on the story. And Dave was the perfect complement. Everything was spot-on. Sometimes all elements of a story and creative team just clicks, and you wind up with something special. Or at least special to me.

The story appeared in the First Born: Aftermath issue, and while it put a coda on Magdalena’s involvement in that tale, it was really about her ongoing relationship with her “employers,” the Catholic Church; hence the title, “Crisis of Faith.” I think the story works pretty well as an appetizer for April’s Magdalena ongoing by me, penciler Nelson Blake 2nd, inker Sal Regla and that McCaig guy on colors again. Ryan Sook on covers, of course. Story elements introduced in “Crisis of Faith” will surface again in the ongoing series.

“Crisis of Faith” grabbed a Harvey Award nomination as Best Story or Best Issue or something. Didn’t win, of course. Not with All-Star Superman in the running. Still, nice to see the story get a little recognition. And nice to have it getting wider exposure on Newsarama now. If you like what you read there, I’d venture to say you’ll like the Magdalena series. Assuming you want to take that plunge, tell your retailer, so we can pump up those initial orders. Every sale counts in this market. You can also place an order with Discount Comic Book Service, which is doing a promotion with Magdalena #1, signed by me, for 99 cents.

One more thing. It just so happens that today, about the same time “Crisis of Faith” was appearing for free, I was downloading “Love,” the new album from Angels & Airwaves, also for free. The band is offering up “Love” gratis – 11 new tracks. You can download it here.

There’s a donation button on the site. You can give whatever amount you want, or just take the free album. I donated. Hope you will too.

Cheers,

Ron


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