Tag: Samurai : Heaven and Earth

Baltimore bound


I’ll be attending the Baltimore Comic Con next Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 20 and 21. Baltimore is one of my favorite cons because it’s completely focused on comics: no retired wrestlers, no former TV stars, just comics, comics, comics. That’s one of the reasons it consistently has one of the best guest lists of the entire con schedule. Promoter Marc Nathan, right-hand man Brad Tree and the rest of the staff and volunteers always roll out the red carpet for their guests, and creators return year after year. It’s one of the few shows I actually look forward to, and I always return from it feeling recharged about this work I’m fortunate enough to do. It’s also a chance to catch up with friends in the industry, and make plans for future projects.

The Baltimore Comic Con website, with all the pertinent info, is here: http://baltimorecomiccon.com/ and the epic guest list here: http://baltimorecomiccon.com/guests/. Highly recommended.

I’ll be spending time at both the Top Cow and Deadlands booths. I don’t yet have a schedule for any panels or programming, but I’ll add it as soon as I do. I’ll have copies of Samurai: Heaven and Earth vol. 1 and vol. 2 TPBs for sale, as well as copies of Shinku #1 and #2 (both covers). Come find me and buy some, so I don’t have them bring them home.



Cheers,

Ron


Samurai: Heaven and Earth, vol. 1 & 2 review

One of my best Twitter followers, Brian Rose, offered up the following review of my creator-owned Samurai: Heaven and Earth volumes. It was such a nice piece, I wanted to share it with everybody. Thanks, Brian.

–Ron



Samurai: Heaven and Earth, vol. 1 & 2 review

By Brian Rose

Following Ron on Twitter, I knew he wrote a plethora of superhero stories and I asked him what stories he felt were his strongest, or personal favorite, of anything he’s written. Surprisingly, he tweeted back that he had a strong connection and was quite proud of what he had done with his Samurai saga. Armed with this recommendation, I had been seeking out any readable editions of this story.
Having found BOTH volumes in a local bookstore, I decided to make at least the first volume my night’s reading, and give it a run for my money.


Here I now sit, two hours after cracking open the cover, ready with my feedback after having made it through both volumes in a devouring and hungered pace.

For the first volume, I went into with no expectations, since this is a character of whom I have no precursory knowledge, nor personal investment in, other than the cover price I paid.

For the first pages, I found myself slow to dip into the pool that was the story. However, it didn’t take long to find the emotion all these characters shared, and the realism the fantastic pencils and superb coloring the artists of the book wielded, much like the samurai protagonist wielded his sword, and more importantly, like the love he wielded for his hand maiden. All these elements created a perfect marriage with Marz’s superb storytelling, creating an organic, enthralling, involving and dramatic tale that had perfect doses of humor.

Some of the best story moments came when he introduced his antagonist(s), keeping the reader guessing as to whose motives could be trusted. I greatly enjoyed the banter of the Three Musketeers in the story, and while they were strong supporting characters, I felt their cameo was perfect and not drawn out. In Ron’s capable hands I could see this troupe sustaining their own adventure series! Their humor kept the pace of the story going, and made me eager for more of their involvement. The final ha-ha at the end,as Shiro rides off, made me laugh out loud in a way I rarely do with comics – a surprising enjoyment I took away from the first volume.

The second volume of the saga kept the amazing line work and storytelling, however the change in colorists actually affected me a small bit. I found the previous volume’s colorist to be an amazing talent not often seen in comics. He gave the images a painted realism that gave the characters a pulse beneath their sketched and drawn framework. While the second volume’s colorists were far from terrible, Jason Keith knocked it out of the park the first time around.

Still, the story in the second volume brought me right back into the amazing saga laid out in the first volume. Marz really took it to another level in part two. Where part one was the setup, part two felt like this was where he said “Okay, now that you’ve just walked the stairs, here we’re really going to get on the ride.”

The antagonist in the first volume was a right old jackass that I was growing to hate; but here, he was developed into the most complete fucker of all villainy to ever grace a comic page. I really came to hate him, and was glad to watch him suffer. It made me cheer with glee as Shiro just kept giving a whooping to everything that got in his way. What was marvelous was that he did it with a strong sense of realism; Shiro’s abilities were established in perfectly-timed flashback vignettes that showed him developing into the machine and soldier he was, as he decimated leagues of madmen and henchmen.


Shiro fought through the final obstacles that stood in his way, to finally live the remainder of his life with his love. She was, by the way, an equally strong character, not in anyone’s shadow, and filled with heart and desire to fight her way out of any situation, and not let anything stand in the way of helping herself and Shiro achieve everlasting peace.

Seeing the villainous Spaniard get struck down was a cathartic joy, watching as he finally had his blood spilled in the sand. At the point of showing our hero and his love ride off into the proverbial sunset, Marz’s storytelling made yet one more twist, reminding this reader that Ron is truly an asshole, and that I will definitely be reading the next issue he puts out. This was an amazing saga, worthy of getting a theatrical treatment.


The story was artfully brought to a wonderful close, but Marz had to go and give us hints at the end, as that hand lifted from the sand, straining for vengeful life, making us, the readers, beg for more. Please … MORE!

Samurai : Heaven and Earth vol 1 Amazon Listing

Samurai : Heaven and Earth vol 2 Amazon Listing


Samurai: Update


I’ve received a number of questions about the fate of Samurai: Heaven and Earth, more specifically the planned third volume of the series, by me and Luke Ross. The most recent question came from Mike Steinberg, so for Mike and everybody else who asked, here’s the deal:

Luke and I would love to get back to Volume 3, and at this point, it’s a matter of our schedules matching up. The first issue of Volume 3 is written and waiting, and Luke has completed all the covers for the five issues. You see two of the covers here, both colored by Dan Jackson. As the covers make pretty obvious, the next series moves the setting to the Caribbean, placing Shiro in the midst of a cutthroat pirate crew that features characters both historical and literary.


Luke is presently under exclusive contract to Marvel, which led to Luke’s work on Captain America and Amazing Spider-man, among other assignments. But we both intend to get back to “our baby” as soon as Luke’s schedule allows. Luke and I even have a couple of other projects – one a creator-owned story about a Brazilian folk hero, the other featuring a favorite superhero – that we plan to get to at some point.

In the meantime, we appreciate your interest, and we appreciate your patience. The story of Shiro and Yoshiko is not yet over.

Cheers,

Ron


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


You wanna read something for free?

If you happened to be checking out my Twitter stream earlier today, there was yet another discussion of pirating and illegally downloading comics. I won’t belabor the point here. Suffice to say that I’m wholly against downloading, and I’ve yet to see an argument for it that holds any water. If you want a comic, support the industry and pay for it. Or, if you’re just looking to read something for free, there are plenty of choices available. Even some by me. Last time I looked, Top Cow has various complete issues of my Witchblade run online, as well as the First Born #1 and number of other offerings. You can peruse them here.

Samurai Vol 1 on AmazonYou can also check out an 8-page Samurai: Heaven and Earth story that appeared as part of the first Dark Horse Presents “issue” on MySpace. Dark Horse was looking for something a little more visceral to run with Joss Whedon and Fabio Moon’s Sugarshock, and Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba’s Umbrella Academy (not to mention a short Rick Geary story). A guy with a sword fit the bill, so artist Luke Ross, and I put together a brief, violent tale of our displaced samurai, Asukai Shiro.

Samurai: Heaven and Earth is a creator-owned series by Luke and myself from Dark Horse, with two volumes in print thus far. It’s also absolutely my favorite project ever. The story follows a lone samurai who crosses the globe from East to West, following his kidnapped love, the lady Yoshiko. His travels bring him all the way to the halls of Versailles in Volume 1, where he meets some very familiar swordsmen. Volume 2 takes him to the sands of Egypt.Samurai Vol 1 on Amazon

I think the DHP short story, “The Forest,” stands on its own well enough. But chronologically it takes place between issues #2 and #3 of Volume 1, when Shiro begins his journey westward from China. At one point, I had toyed with the idea of a series of short stories, drawn by various artists, which would fill in the “untold tales” of Shiro’s journey. Luke is the artistic heart and soul of Samurai, but I’ve always liked “themed” anthologies, like Gaiman’s Sandman: Endless Nights or the Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall volume. Maybe that project will still happen at some point. But for now, “The Forest” is what you get, with beautiful art by Luke and colorist Dan Jackson.

For anybody that’s already read Volumes 1 and 2, thanks. Yes, there’s a Volume 3 planned, taking place in the Caribbean, but we’re waiting for Luke to find time amidst his Marvel schedule to draw it. For anybody that hasn’t read the first two volumes, I know they’ve been pirated and offered up online. But please, if you’re interested, do right thing and buy ’em:

Samurai : Heaven and Earth vol 1 Amazon Listing

Samurai : Heaven and Earth vol 2 Amazon Listing

Read “The Forest” at Dark Horse Presents / MySpace


Thanks. In the future, I’ll be running some of the pin-ups that have appeared in the collected editions, pieces by buddies of Luke and mine, like Jim Starlin, Greg Land, Mike Deodato Jr., Cully Hamner, Lee Moder and plenty more.

Cheers,

Ron

NOTE

For some reason the link to “The Forest” doesn’t take you directly to the story (it’s supposed to). You can read the story by scrolling down and selecting Issue 1 / Story 3 at the bottom of the page


Hello … Is this thing on?

So here we go. After much delay, RonMarz.com is finally open for business. We’ll be getting things up and running over the next few weeks, putting more aspects in place while juggling deadlines. The plan is to update regularly, including news about current and upcoming projects, both work-for-hire stuff like Witchblade and Magdalena, as well as creator-owned work like Samurai: Heaven and Earth; peeks at lots of artwork; pieces on previous work when I can dig something interesting out of the files; writing tips; and whatever else I happen to think of.

Thanks for stopping by. Hopefully I give you a reason to keep coming back. In the meantime, check me out on twitter.

cheers,

Ron


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