Tag: Witchblade

Preview Package

Both Angelus #6 and Witchblade #139 will hit stores this Wednesday, Nov. 10. Preivew pages of both can be found below.

Angelus #6 is the finale of the mini, bringing the storyline to a (hopefully) satisfying conclusion. After some health concerns that landed him in the hopsital, artist Stjepan Sejic is back to full strength on the issue, and I think it shows in the art, including that fairly stunning spread on pages 4 & 5.

The art for Witchblade #139 is by Eisner winner Michael Gaydos, probably best known for his work on Aliaswith Bendis. Michael had an available slot in his schedule, which made the decision to bring in a pinch-hiiter for regular WB artist Stjepan Sejic a bit easier. While Stjepan concentrated on Angelus #6, Michael penciled, inked and colored #139, and turned in a gorgeous job. The story follows up on the tragic events in Sara’s life revealed in Artifacts #1, showing the emotional fallout for Sara and those around her. You don’t need to have read Artifacts to fully grasp the Witchblade issue, and you don’t need to read the Witchblade issue to “complete” Artifacts in any way. But if you read them both, I think you get a bit richer story experience.

Hope you check ’em out.

Angelus #6:

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=preview&id=6903&disp=table

Witchblade #139:

http://www.newsarama.com/php/multimedia/album.php?aid=39627

Cheers,

Ron


Witchblade Vol. 7 TPB preview


Along with Magdalena #2, in stores this Wednesday is Witchblade vol 7 TPB, the new volume in the Witchblade trade paperback series. This one has been a long time in coming, as Top Cow catches up on its TPB program. Since the trades are printed in China – for reasons of both cost and quality– the process takes a few months from start to finish. Top Cow managing editor and all-around awesome fellow Phil Smith put together the material and designed the book, and we all proofed it numerous times before the files were sent to China for printing. Once the entire run is printed, it’s shipped via literal slow boat back the U.S. and then the distributor gets it into stores.

Vol. 7 contains issues #121-#124 of Witchblade, the lead story from Witchblade Annual #1 (which I didn’t write), as well as the 16-page Free Comic Book Day story (which I did write) that’s previewed here. The FCBD story introduces the Gretch character, a journalist for an alternative newspaper who figures in the three-part “Crown Heights” storyline featured in this volume. Each page of the FCBD story is formatted in a 16-panel grid, the same format Frank Miller used The Dark Knight Returns, a story that influences me to this day.

“Crown Heights” is inspired in large part by a photo essay I saw in the New York Times a few years ago, which provided a window into the Lubavitch Jewish sect in Brooklyn. I find those kinds of cloistered societies fascinating anyway, but add n the visual component of the black clothing and fedoras, and I had to use it as a setting for a story. There’s another photo essay, along with a feature and a video, on the Chabad-Lubavitch Jews on the National Geographic site.

Vol. 7 has an intro by Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis, touching on Jewish mysticism, as well as a cover gallery, sketchbook section by Stjepan Sejic, and a scriptbook by me, featuring my complete script and Stjepan’s layouts for issue #121.

The Vol. 8 trade, with the “War of the Witchblades” storyline and an intro by Jim Starlin, is already buttoned up and headed off to press.

Cheers,

Ron


Magdalena #2 Preview

I have two books hitting stores this week: Magdalena #2 and the Witchblade Vol. 7 trade paperback. First up, Magdalena, the opening sequence of which you can see by clicking the simply amazing Ryan Sook cover pictured below.

Response to the first issue was pretty overwhelming and extremely gratifying. We got a wealth of positive reviews, and the issue sold out at the distributor level within a week or two of release. Issue #2 picks up pretty much right where we left off, with Patience and her mentor Kristof confronted by a demonic presence on the island of Elba. The rest of the issue takes us inside the Vatican, including a glimpse of a hall that isn’t part of the usual visitor tour.

The art is by the regular team of Nelson Blake the 2nd (pencils), Sal Regla (inks) and Dave McCaig (color). As great as I think issue #1 looked, I’d venture to say issue #2 looks even better, as the artists get a little more used to the book and to each other. We’re just getting started on Magdalena, so I hope you stick with us for the duration.

Cheers,
Ron


I’m a pod person

I’ve done a handful of podcasts recently, talking about Magdalena, Witchblade, Artifacts, Green Lantern and whatever else came up in conversation. The first two podcasts have been posted, with more to come in the run-up to Artifacts.

First up, John Mayo and Bob Bretall interviewing me for the Comic Book Page Podcast here:

Next, the regular “Funnybooks with Aron and Paulie” feature at Ideology of Madness here.

Ideology of Madness is also doing a series of weekly articles, posted every Wednesday, exploring the 13 Artifacts of the Top Cow Universe. Obviously this is a lead-in to the July debut of Artifacts #1. You can check out the articles here.

Newsarama and CBR are also doing weekly articles leading up to Artifacts #1. CBR’s Josh Wigler interviews me and Top Cow publisher Filip Sablik every Wednesday for commentary on a specific Artifact and bearer. Meanwhile, Newsarama is posting in-character commentary about the respective Artifacts each Wednesday. So now you know how to occupy your time before your trip to the comic shop every Wednesday, right?

Cheers,

Ron


Georges Jeanty – In Living Color

[George Jeanty’s pencils]


(Pencils: Georges Jeanty / Colors: Neeraj Menon)

[click the image for a hi-res version]

One more look at Georges Jeanty’s figure shots, this time in color, courtesy of a talented young Indian artist named Neeraj N. Menon. You can check out Neeraj’s Deviant Art portfolio here.

When I did some editorial work for Virgin Comics (now reborn as Liquid Comics) a few years ago, I was exposed to a wealth of creative talent based in India, especially art talent. You’ve already seen Saumin Patel’s color on the Albany Comic Con exclusive cover, and there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be seeing another project with Saumin’s pencils and inks later this year. I’ve also got an all-ages book with the terrific Jeevan Kang that should be released by summer’s end via Liquid Comics, through its publishing partnership with Dynamite Entertainment. And hopefully the collected edition of my adaptation of Deepak Chopra’s Beyond, with artist Edison George, will be appearing soon.

Liquid and Dynamite will also team to publish Grant Morrison’s 18 Days, based on “The Mahabharata,” which is illustrated by the insanely talented Mukesh Singh. I fully expect it to be the most spectacular-looking book I’ll see this year. There’s a preview of the art here.

Mukesh’s work on Devi, Game Keeper and the Devi-Witchblade crossover was spectacular (and worthy of the Russ Manning nomination he received), but his work on 18 Days seems like another leap forward. Simply breathtaking.

Art talent from Brazil, Spain and Italy, among other locales, is making a real mark on the U.S. comic market. A number of Indian artists are going to make themselves known in a big way. Soon.

Cheers,

Ron

THE J-FILES are a series of images created by Georges Jeanty (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER/DarkHorse) for my first pass at having a website.


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


Sharp Pencils

Last time, I showed off Matthew Dow Smith’s roughs for the upcoming Albany Comic Con variant cover of Magdalena #1 (with Matt’s kind permission, I might add). As you see now, the consensus pick was the “perched on a cross” image, as it allowed for a large, striking figure of Magdalena, and utilized the Albany skyline in the background.


Rough Layout

Once the selection was made, Matt revised the image into a more refined rough (above), adjusting the pose and adding the Spear of Destiny in her hand. That completed and approved, Matt moved on to the actual pencils on a full size board, “full size” for comic originals being roughly 11 inches by 17 inches.


Rough Pencils

The second image shows Matt’s rough pencils, more of a work in progress. Magdalena’s pose was revised again, albeit slightly, and the Spear switched hands. The perspective for the background was also worked out, arranging the towers and uniquely-shaped Egg performing arts center.

After a quick approval, Matt completed the finished pencils, adding detail to Magdalena’s ornate costume as well as the towers. A final note from Top Cow’s Filip Sablik asked for the Spear to be a little longer, and for Magdalena’s face to be given a slightly more delicate look. Once those revisions were made, the pencils were complete and ready to go to inker Terry Austin. Since Terry lives only an hour away, I met Matt for coffee, got the cover from him, and delivered it to Terry.


Final Pencils (revised)

Since Terry had never inked Matt before, the cover was virgin territory for both of them. I know I was really anxious to see what the collaboration would look like. Next time, I’ll show you how it turned out.
Cheers,

Ron


All thumbs

You’re looking at thumbnails –“thumbs” – for a variant Magdalena #1 cover. Now, I assume most people reading this blog would know that “thumbs,” or roughs, are small sketches. But I don’t want to assume everybody knows that.

first set

These roughs are by my buddy Matthew Dow Smith. The variant will be available at the Albany Comic Con, the “hometown” convention for both me and Matt, which will take place April 25. The show site is here.

The guest list includes me and Matt, as well as a number of other Hudson Valley creators that have all been my friends for years: Terry Austin, Fred Hembeck, Todd Dezago and Joe Staton. Terry, Fred and Todd, along with Jim Starlin and Bernie Wrightson, were regulars are the weekly Woodstock volleyball matches I played in until our five-year Florida detour. Coming to the con from a bit farther afield are Lee Moder, my artistic partner on Dragon Prince and the work-in-progress Shinku, and Saurav Mohapatra, a writer I edited at Virgin Comics. Check out the entire guest list; it’s pretty impressive for a “local” one-day show.

I’ve always been an admirer of Matt’s artwork, including Hellboy and Starman contributions and DC’s Day of Judgment series with an up-and-coming writer named Geoff Johns. Matt was my first choice when we needed a fill-in issue of my samurai-themed comic The Path at CrossGen. I thought his use of spot blacks would make him a good fit with the kind of work Bart Sears was doing on the series. Matt turned in a great job on his issue, and when Bart left the series, Matt moved to Florida to take over the regular art duties. We produced some issues I’m quite fond of, but it was destined to be unfinished business. Not quite a year later, CrossGen blew apart and Matt moved back to the Albany vicinity. A few years later, I settled in the same vicinity.

Matt’s first Albany variant, which he penciled and inked, was the Witchblade #131 cover for last year’s autumn con. The show was held the day after Halloween, so the subject matter was a natural. This time around, the obvious choice for a variant was my Magdalena series, which will debut just prior to the con. Without a natural theme this time, we discussed utilizing a background of the Albany skyline, featuring distinctive towers and an egg-shaped performing arts center.

The towers feature in three of the four roughs from Matt’s first batch (above), including one I suggested featuring a trolley-car diner. Matt also included a shot of Magdalena perched atop a church cross, an iconic image that would also be a comfortable fit for Daredevil or maybe Spider-man.

After input from con organizer John Belskis and Top Cow’s Filip Sablik and Phil Smith, Matt produced a second set of roughs (below). The diner concept was refined to include a neon sign featuring the Top Cow logo, and a peek at a couple of patrons inside that might well be Sara Pezzini of Witchblade and Jackie Estacado of The Darkness. The towers remained a background element in two of the roughs, but the lower angle on diner concept forced a different background for that image. Matt also added a shot inspired by look of golden age comic covers.

second set

So which one did we pick? Come back tomorrow to find out, and get a look at Matt’s finished pencils, which will be delivered to legendary X-Men inker Terry Austin for his distinctive contribution.

Cheers,

Ron


Uncovering some “Artifacts”

First, sorry to have disappeared for a few days. The combination of a pretty nasty virus inserting itself into my laptop, and the deadlines that led to me pulling out of Seattle’s Emerald City Comic Con, stalled the regular updates here. The good news: I’m already committed to Emerald City for 2011, the first time it’ll be a three-day affair; and, my laptop seems to be back in working order. So expect regular updates as well.

DarknessDespite missing the con, I was at least able to participate in the Top Cow panel on Saturday via cell phone. You can read the details here.

Every publisher saves their announcements for conventions, and this was no different, as Top Cow named my first artistic collaborator on the upcoming Artifacts series, the 13-part event intended to redefine its universe. Joining me for issues #1-#4 will be penciler Michael Broussard, who is just coming off of a pretty stellar run on The Darkness with my buddy Phil Hester. I’m absolutely looking forward to working with Michael again. I wrote one of his first published jobs, the Marvel-Top Cow crossover book Unholy Union, which featured Witchblade, the Darkness, Hulk, Ghost Rider and even a couple pages with Doctor Strange. I’ll take advantage of even the slightest opportunity to write Doctor Strange, and Michael’s Doc pages are among my favorites. Michael was even kind enough to do a Doc piece in my sketchbook. Once that sketchbook makes its way back from the West Coast, I’ll use the blog to show off some of the art within.

Michael’s work certainly has what a lot of people might call a “Top Cow style,” meaning something in the same ballpark as that of Top Cow founder Marc Silvestri. I think there’s a perception out there, at least in some people’s minds, that the Top Cow studio somehow imposes a stylistic edict on its artists. Not true. Top Cow has launched a pretty impressive collection of artistic careers, including Michael Turner, Brandon Peterson, David Finch, Mike Choi, Francis Manapul and Billy Tan. True, many of those guys share a certain sensibility, which is understandable given that all had some tutelage under Silvestri. But you also have to factor in current artists like Stjepan Sejic, Kenneth Rocafort and Nelson Blake the 2nd, who have pretty diverse styles.

Unholy Union

Michael is one of those rare artists who emerged with a great deal of polish, even at the beginning of his career. Most guys slave away for years, getting better in little steps until they’re finally ready for professional-level work. Michael showed up at that level already, and has only gotten better since. I’m looking forward to working with him again a great deal. At one of the previous Emerald City Cons Michael and I were able to take a walk around town prior to the show opening. We ended up at a coffee shop, talking at length about art styles, influences and storytelling.

Why only issues #1-#4 of Artifacts for Michael? We’re going to be splitting up the series between four art teams, both for scheduling purposes and as a reflection of traditional three-act story structure. Crossover/event series are notoriously difficult to keep on schedule, as the shipping woes and artistic musical chairs of some Marvel and DC projects can attest. The intent is to circumvent that by having three art teams working at the same time, getting ahead so we can continue to ship on time. The art teams for issues #4-#7 and #8-#12 will be announced in due time, and we have something pretty special planned for issue #13. Artifacts #1, by me and Michael Broussard, will be out in July.

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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