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Patricia Briggs’ Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf Returns With David Lawrence

October 26th, 2011 Comments off

Patricia Briggs Alpha & Omega Cry Wolf ComicsWe first spoke with writer David Lawrence about Patricia Briggs’ Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf back in 2009. An adaptation of Briggs’ popular werewolf series, the comic book was scheduled to be released by Dabel Brothers, the publisher that had also released adaptations of Briggs’ Mercy Thompson books. Plans hit a snag when Dabel Brothers ceased production, but the project was picked up by Dynamite Entertainment, which released issue #1 back in 2010.

Since then, fans have been eagerly awaiting the next installment of the adventures of werewolves (and mates) Anna and Charles, and their patience is about to pay off! The revamped series returns with issue #2 (titled, fittingly enough, “Second Chances”) next month, featuring longtime Patricia Briggs collaborator David Lawrence and a brand-new artist, Todd Herman. We interviewed Lawrence as part of Dynamite Month, and he explained why the series went on hiatus, whether new readers will be able to jump right in, and why it’s now better than ever. Plus, we have a five-page preview of Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf #2 to enjoy!

TFAW.com: It’s been quite awhile since the first issue of Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf was released.

David Lawrence: It sure has. Long enough to have a baby, I think. And sometimes it seemed like giving birth might have been simpler. But I think it was worth the wait.

TFAW.com: Will new readers be able to jump right in?

DL: God, I hope so. I’ve certainly done my best to structure the story that way. It’s a fine line, giving the reader the essential information while not bogging things down with a long recap. I’ve tried to be creative about it. I’d say if you haven’t seen the first issue, don’t be afraid, come on in. And if you have seen the first issue, the extra time and work has resulted in a much better, more entertaining comic.

Alpha & Omega Cry Wolf #2 Page 1TFAW.com: a specific reason for the long delay?

DL: Nobody likes to admit this about their work, but that first issue was not very good. More than anybody else I have to take responsibility for that. I can give you a lot of reasons. It was published by Dynamite, but the book was produced in the dying days of Dabel Brothers Publishing, and there was a lot going on. I was spending a lot of time trying to get business matters straightened out, for myself and other creators. I think, unfortunately, the book reflected that.

I’m grateful that instead of simply killing the project, or continuing down the wrong road, the nice folks at Dynamite chose a different path. They took a lot of time and spent a lot of money to get it right.

The scripts are 100% better because I got to focus on this instead of the business problems at DBP. The art is really wonderful and really unique. Todd Herman has this kind of Mike Ploog-Mike Mignola type of vibe that is perfect for this book. He wasn’t the safe choice, but he was the right choice, in my opinion. I feel bad for the original artist and I’m not saying the problems with the book were his fault. But this is comics, and part of starting over is inevitably giving the book a different look.

We’ve even done a new issue #1, by the way, but for a variety of complicated, contractual types of reasons, it will only appear in the graphic novel, not as a single issue.

Whew! You still awake after that answer?

TFAW.com: How much input does Patricia Briggs have with these adaptations?

DL: I hope it doesn’t sound flip if I say “As much as she wants,” but that really is the answer. First, these are Patty’s stories and Patty’s characters. I’m adapting them pretty faithfully and what Patty says goes. She reads everything. She looks at all the artwork. Patty and I have worked together for about three years now. Cry Wolf is our third trip to the park together. She understands very well the difference between telling a story in words and telling it with pictures, and I appreciate and am touched that she has a great deal of trust in me both as a writer and as a person who has the best interests of her characters at heart.

Alpha & Omega Cry Wolf #2 Page 2If Patty is very busy and everything is good she might not say a word, or she might just send thanks to me or the artist. But if she sees something that needs to be fixed, it gets fixed.

TFAW.com: One of your previous adaptations, Mercy Thompson: Moon Called has been collected in graphic novel form. What was the most memorable part of working on that project?

DL: From a selfish point of view, it might have been the moment Patty told me she liked my ending to the story better than hers. Coming from a writer of her ability that’s quite a compliment.

But in reality I’d say it was working with Amelia and watching her grow as an artist and a storyteller. I always felt that our first Mercy series, Homecoming, wasn’t really a fair reflection of her ability. She jumped on board halfway through with no time to prepare, and the artist switch left her facing just impossible deadlines. I’m glad she got a fair chance to show what she can do.

And what she can do is just gorgeous. I can give her descriptions like “the wolf looks confused” and she just nails it. What the hell does a confused wolf look like? I have no idea when I write that down. But time and again Amelia figures it out.

TFAW.com: What resonates with you about her books?

DL: I’m really a character guy more than a detailed plotter. For me, the story flows from the characters, not vice-versa. So it’s really her characterizations that most appeal to me. I have a reaction to her characters. Some of them I like very much. Mercy, of course. Zee, the metal-working gremlin, is another favorite. But even her villains are real enough to me that I understand them. Usually I pity them more than I hate them.

Alpha & Omega Cry Wolf #2 Page 3TFAW.com: So many of the characters in Mercy Thompson’s world aren’t quite what they seem: they have hidden sides and personas. Even Mercy herself is a bit of a dichotomy! How do you keep track of these complex characters?

DL: Part of the answer is that I keep it simple. I don’t look too far ahead. People are surprised when I tell them I read the novels one at a time. At this point Moon Called is the only novel in the Mercy series I’ve read. Cry Wolf is the only novel in the Alpha & Omega series I’ve read, and the opening novella, of course. Characters grow and change over time. If I’ve got the Mercy and Adam of book four in my head it’s tough to go back and write the Mercy of book one.

But the bigger part of the answer is that Patty creates well-rounded, compelling characters who are easy to keep straight in my head. Even the walk on parts are distinctive enough that you remember them.

TFAW.com: Patricia’s Alpha & Omega books have a lot more romance than her Mercy Thompson books, which you’ve also adapted for comics. How does that affect your creative process?

DL: I don’t think my work is affected so much by the presence of a love story at the core as it is by the fact that this is a story with two co-equal lead characters. In Moon Called and the Mercy books, Mercy Thompson is the star. Here I have to give roughly equal weight to two characters and two points of view. That can be tricky. But on the other hand, it’s easier sometimes when you have two characters who can talk to each other instead of one operating alone.

But even beyond that, I think this is more of an ensemble book than the Mercy series. I’m not saying it’s the Justice Society of Werewolves, but there are several other characters who play very large, key roles in the story.

TFAW.com: Can you introduce Cry Wolf‘s Anna and Charles?

Alpha & Omega Cry Wolf #2 Page 4DL: Anna and Charles are really polar opposites. Charles was born a werewolf, which makes him a one-of-a-kind creature in Patty’s world. Werewolves are made, not born. It took a great deal of love and magic to make it happen. Everything about being a wolf comes very naturally to him and he is very good at it all. He’s powerful and dominating, but maybe because of his uniqueness he’s always stood just a bit apart from everybody else.

Anna was changed to a werewolf against her will, a major no-no among the wolves of Patty’s world. It’s a crime comparable to rape to change someone without their permission. And that was only the beginning of the abuse she faced in a renegade wolf pack. She was rescued by Charles and is just beginning to learn about herself. As a wolf and as a woman.

TFAW.com: How well do they function as a couple, and how does their relationship affect the flow of the story?

DL: Not very well at all, at least at first. They’ve kind of been thrown together. Charles is a loner. Anna is scarred and scared. It will take them some time to grow accustomed to each other. Even to the idea of each other. But this being good drama, in the end their fate, and the fates of others, will depend on their ability to do so.

TFAW.com: What are the differences between an Alpha and an Omega wolf?

DL: An Alpha is territorial, aggressive if threatened, used to being in command. An Omega is not really the opposite of an Alpha. That would be a submissive. An Omega more, and it seems like I keep coming back to this, stands apart. She doesn’t take orders. She doesn’t give orders. She has strong protective instincts without an appetite for aggression.

TFAW.com: What makes an Omega wolf so valuable?

Alpha & Omega Cry Wolf #2 Page 5DL: Omegas are very rare. A werewolf could live centuries without encountering one. They are natural peacemakers. They have a sort of mystical ability to smooth discord. This could be a very valuable gift in the violent world of a wolfpack. Despite being functionally immortal, by human standards, most werewolves don’t live very long because they have the nasty habit of fighting and killing each other. Someone like Anna could bring that to an end.

TFAW.com: Why do you think no one recognized Anna’s status before Charles?

DL: Actually, her status was recognized. She was transformed precisely because the Alpha of her first pack had use for her special abilities. But he also found it useful to keep Anna in the dark.

TFAW.com: Anna is different than a lot of take-charge heroines; she’d been victimized for years by her pack before being rescued by Charles. How do you prepare to write a character like that?

DL: Anna is no pushover. Just because she’s not spoiling for a fight doesn’t mean she won’t stand up for herself. Or others. She’s been through a lot, but there is a spine of iron in that girl. It’s just going to take her a while to discover it.

TFAW.com: What are the major differences between writing for Mercy and Anna?

DL: The biggest difference goes back to something I already mentioned. Mercy is a solo act. For all of the strong supporting cast she is the single star of the show. With Anna and Charles we’ve got two characters sharing the spotlight. Their interaction takes center stage more than either of them as a lone character does.

TFAW.com: In Cry Wolf, a rogue werewolf is slaughtering humans. Do human know about werewolves in this world? If so, how do they typically relate to each other?

Patricia Briggs Alpha & Omega Cry Wolf ComicsDL: Humans don’t know about werewolves. Yet. One of the underpinnings of Cry Wolf and Moon Called is that the Alpha of the whole North American continent realizes they can’t keep the secret much longer. He knows he has to go public but it’s a matter of when and how.

TFAW.com: First vampires had a pop-culture resurgence, thanks to books like Twilight, and now it seems like werewolves are more popular than ever. What do you think people find so appealing about werewolves?

DL: Seems like in troubled times humans often turn to monsters. Consider that the whole classic Universal cycle of Frankenstein, Wolfman, and Dracula began in some of the darkest days of the Great Depression.

It’s almost a cliche to say that we are drawn to the monsters not because they are different, but because of what they reveal about ourselves. Werewolves are really sort of a Jekyll and Hyde story on steroids. We all have that stuff that we try to keep bottled up, and we fear that it might explode sometimes. We fear the loss of control. Maybe these stories help us to understand and embrace it.

Or maybe I just talk too much. Never dismiss that possibility.

TFAW.com: Are you and Patricia planning to bring the other books in her Alpha & Omega series to comics?

DL: I have a hard time imagining not working with Patty. She’s a great writer and a better person. I can’t imagine her characters not having a bright future in comic books and I hope to be a part of that for a long time.

We want to thank David for taking the time to answer all of our questions. You can pre-order Patricia Briggs’ Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf comics here at TFAW.com and save 20%! Plus, stay tuned to our exclusive interview with Cry Wolf artist Todd Herman this Friday, in which he shares some behind-the-scenes details, including his original character designs!

PRE-ORDER PATRICIA BRIGGS’ ALPHA & OMEGA: CRY WOLF AND SAVE 20%

VISIT OUR DYNAMITE MONTH PAGE

Are you a Patricia Briggs fan? Are you excited to see Cry Wolf in comic-book form? Post your comments below!

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Stuart Manning and Aaron Campbell Bring Dark Shadows Back to Life

October 24th, 2011 Comments off

Dark Shadows ComicsTake a look at recent popular vampire epics, like Twilight, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Vampire Diaries, and ponder their essential elements. Conflicted vampires? Check. Steamy human-vampire romance? Check. Ancestors who conveniently look just like their modern-day counterparts? Check. (Well, maybe just The Vampire Diaries.) You might never have watched the seminal 1960s vampire soap opera, Dark Shadows, but if you love any of today’s vampire tales, you’re already a fan and just don’t know it yet.

Dark Shadows started out as a fairly conventional gothic soap opera, but it caught fire with the introduction of mysterious vampire Barnabas Collins. Debuting as a scary, menacing monster, Collins fell in love and was slowly redeemed, eventually becoming a heroic figure. With its wide cast of characters, jumps through time, and high drama, Dark Shadows directly influenced every vampire tale that came after. However, after 1,200-plus episodes, the show was cancelled by ABC, because it appealed to a younger audience that wasn’t as valuable to advertisers in the ’60s and ’70s (my, how times have changed!).

However, fandom simply didn’t allow Dark Shadows to die out. Much like with cult hits like Star Trek, fans have been busy putting together conventions, festivals, and websites devoted to their favorite show, keeping interest alive and recruiting new fans. Now it’s paying off: not only is there an upcoming movie starring Johnny Depp, but Dynamite Entertainment is launching an original Dark Shadows comic book series, helmed by Dark Shadows New Page editor and writer Stuart Manning and Green Hornet Year One artist Aaron Campbell. Not only did we get to interview them for Dynamite Month, below, but they threw in an exclusive five-page preview of Dark Shadows #1! Plus, enter our Dark Shadows Contest for your chance to win one of 10 sets of Dark Shadows #1, including the standard, variant, and rare incentive covers!

TFAW.com: Stuart, as editor of the Dark Shadows News Page, you’re uniquely qualified to be writing the new Dark Shadows comics. How did you originally become interested in the show?

Dark Shadows #1 Page 1Stuart Manning: I first discovered Dark Shadows as a teenager in the 1990s, initially through magazine articles and the old tie-in paperbacks. At that point, it had never been broadcast here in England, but the concept seemed endlessly fascinating to me, to the point where I felt like I was a fan without ever having seen the show. I always liked spooky things and this just seemed like my ideal television series . . . with the small complication of not being able to actually see it!

In 1995, when Sci-Fi Channel launched a European version, Dark Shadows was one of their launch shows, and for this viewer, it was like a dream come true–all those characters, who I’d read so much about, on screen and alive and real. I was hooked pretty much immediately.

TFAW.com: When did you start the Dark Shadows News Page, and what does editing it involve?

SM: My association with Dark Shadows fandom goes back over 15 years, starting with editing a fanzine, the Dark Shadows Journal, produced with scissors and glue, photocopied and hand-stapled. That eventually evolved into a website, at www.collinwood.net and lately, the Dark Shadows News Page, a blog that I’ve written over the last few years.

The focus is news from the Dark Shadows world, but really it’s just a general platform for me to celebrate all things Dark Shadows. That can encompass anything from reviews to interviews, to commentary to rare photographs . . . Anything related to the show that I think other fans will enjoy. Pay a visit at darkshadowsnews.blogspot.com

TFAW.com: What would you say to comics readers who have never watched Dark Shadows? Why should they pick up the comics?

SM: If you like classic horror and mystery stories, then this series is tremendous fun. It’s good old-fashioned intrigue, with thrills and spills, a big spooky old house, a tortured vampire, a dangerous witch, ghosts and more besides. Dark Shadows, at its heart, is a very potent distillation of that whole gothic genre, mixed up with some ’60s retro charm.

Dark Shadows #1 Page 2TFAW.com: Vampires are more popular than ever these days, with Twilight, Buffy, and The Vampire Diaries. Where does Dark Shadows fit in?

SM: Dark Shadows is really the primary text where those shows are concerned. It was the first successful vampire series on television, and Barnabas Collins was the first enduring vampire character created for the small screen. He was also the first real exploration of the reluctant vampire concept, which all those shows have drawn upon.

Even after all these years, I think Dark Shadows stands as one of the most high-concept shows ever made. They really did do everything in those five years–vampires, werewolves, witches, time travel, parallel universes . . . you name it. Kevin Williamson, the creator of The Vampire Diaries, has cited the influence of Dark Shadows many times, so there’s a very definite lineage between those shows.

TFAW.com: The show aired for a relatively short time, but it has lived on through its fans for years–much like other genre shows like Star Trek. What do you think appeals to fans the most?

SM: That’s difficult to say, really. Dark Shadows fans are incredibly staunch, and perhaps that’s down to its original soap opera format. That first generation of fans really did live with those characters day-to-day, for years in some cases. So even though the shows themselves were sometimes primitive, those characters truly did become real people in real situations. The storylines were often outlandish, but somehow those characters had an integrity and depth that anchored the whole thing.

At its best, it was a brilliant fusion of personalities and performance with great vivid plotlines. I never had the chance to experience the show as a child, but I dearly would have loved to have done so. Discovering it in my teens in the 1990s, Dark Shadows fired my imagination like nothing else . . . to an impressionable eight-year-old, it must have simply been mind blowing.

Dark Shadows #1 Page 3TFAW.com: Is your series based on the original show or the upcoming movie with Johnny Depp?

SM: It’s based on the original series, set a short while after the original episodes ended. So it’s summer 1971, and in a remote fishing village on the Maine coast, dark forces are once again stirring in the house of Collinwood . . .

TFAW.com: Will readers who have never watched the show be able to catch on right away?

SM: Yes, absolutely. The first issue is very much a jumping-on point. We meet all the characters and discover what’s going on in their lives as the story unfolds.

With a show like Dark Shadows, plus over 1,200 episodes worth of backstory to contend with, when starting out, it’s pretty essential to make things inclusive. We have a rich history and characters, and though there are little details that will have special resonance for long-term fans, hopefully first-time readers can pick up the threads and enjoy it as something new, without feeling left behind.

TFAW.com: There are so many characters from so many different time periods in the original Dark Shadows. Which characters will you focus on at the start?

SM: We’re trying to focus on the characters who will feature in the movie, as that makes obvious commercial sense. So that’s the classic line-up of the Collins family, plus Barnabas Collins, our vampire, and his confidante and would-be love interest Dr. Julia Hoffman. I think it’s great that the new film is focusing on that strange, functionally dysfunctional family with all their secrets and shared history. So we’ll be concentrating on these characters to begin with, hopefully expanding to include additional faces as things progress.

I didn’t want to feature everyone from the offset–it’s nice to have room to let things grow, and introduce readers gradually to our community of personalities. Already, even though it’s early days, I can think of plenty of ways to include the broader cast as things progress.

Dark Shadows #1 Page 4TFAW.com: Which characters are your personal favorites?

SM: Barnabas Collins, our vampire, obviously. People have often referred to Barnabas as a reluctant vampire, but I actually think of him more as a neurotic vampire. Whether it’s dealing with the latest supernatural onslaught or looking for love, very little in Barnabas’ life doesn’t end in angst and self doubt.

It’s great having a lead character who isn’t necessarily a nice guy, and his never-ending will-they-won’t-they relationship with Dr. Julia Hoffman is great fun to write. That’s a very curious, co-dependent dynamic, blurring the lines between doctor, patient, friend and more besides. Of our wider cast, I’m also very fond of Carolyn Stoddard, our younger female lead. She’s an interesting personality . . . when we join her she’s somewhere between a little girl lost and wild child. Growing up with her odd family with all their baggage, she’s emerged headstrong and a little spoiled, but still tries to be normal and grounded in spite of everything.

TFAW.com: Do you have a special episode?

SM: It’s a bit of an obvious one, but I’m very fond of Barnabas’ first proper appearance . . . episode 212, since you asked. Even 40 years on, I find it has a really intriguing atmosphere all of its own. Barnabas arrives at Collinwood, and with the combination of writing and Jonathan Frid’s performance, it genuinely does feel as if he’s stepped in from another world. I watch that today and I can totally see why that character made such an immediate impact.

TFAW.com: There was an attempted reboot of Dark Shadows back in the 1990s that was short-lived–why do you think it didn’t catch on?

SM: The NBC remake of Dark Shadows was dealt a real blow by debuting on the cusp of the Gulf War conflict. Between widespread news pre-emptions and other factors, it was a very chaotic environment in which to launch any show, let alone a serial with a dense ongoing plot and a large cast of characters. In different circumstances, it might have really caught on.

That said, even in its short lifespan, the revival series developed its own identity and produced some strong episodes. The finale instalment is genuinely thrilling in places. Had it survived into a second season, I think it really would have spread its wings.

Dark Shadows #1 Page 5TFAW.com: How did you come to work with Dynamite Entertainment?

SM: I’d done a lot of work for Dark Shadows, both as a fan and on a professional basis, so when the possibility of doing comic books was mentioned, I was really interested to get involved. Here was an opportunity to create a new series using the classic cast exactly how they appeared on television and potentially take them into whole new realms. That was immensely exciting, from both a professional and fan perspective, and after writing some treatments we were up-and-running.

TFAW.com: How far ahead have you plotted the Dark Shadows comics?

SM: So far, we’ve plotted the initial story, which will play out over four issues, and have just started looking beyond that. I don’t want to jinx things by thinking too far ahead, but I’ve included some details on the sidelines in the opening chapters, which may well be explored in the future. We have such a great cast of characters–any one of them could be the lead for a story, and once they’re established, we can really take this series any place we want to.

TFAW.com: What other projects are you working on right now?

SM: My day job as a designer keeps me pretty busy, working on the art desk of the BBC’s Radio Times magazine. I also do various bits and pieces for the world of Doctor Who, along with other Dark Shadows stuff, so lots of stuff going on. It’s a very exciting time!

TFAW.com: Aaron, there’s a fantastic moody, noir aesthetic to your work. Who were your influences?

Aaron Campbell: My influences are all over the place. From comics there are artists such as John Paul Leon, Tommy Lee Edwards, Sean Phillips, Kirby, and Bernie Wrightson. From the mainstream of illustration I was always drawn to the classical illustrators from the first part the of the 20th century, people like N.C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle, Robert Fawcett, Leyendecker, Dore, etc. And then there are great painters like Velasquez, Manet, Rembrandt, Thomas Eakins, Waterhouse, Sargent, and Vermeer.

TFAW.com: Can you take us through your process as an artist?

Dark Shadows ComicsAC: I have a pretty complex process but I’ll try to keep it brief. I start with little rough thumbnails. These give the basic idea of what’s happening on a page. From here I shoot reference for all the characters first and use that to draw to a pretty tight, finalized, layout. Once my layouts are ready to go I just continue drawing over those to create my pencils. This way there’s no backtracking or redrawing. At this stage It’s somewhat of a mixed media process as I draw parts freehand and also work on the computer in Photoshop, typically on the backgrounds. The finished pencils is then a digital image that I print out in blue line on heaving stock paper and ink directly over for the finish. From my inks I use a #4 Kolinsky sable brush and India ink.

TFAW.com: Had you been a fan of the original Dark Shadows show before you took on this project?

AC: I’d never really seen the original series before now, but I was actually a big fan of the series from 1991, with Ben Cross as Barnabas. I was about 13 years old and I’d never seen anything like it. It only lasted one season but it stuck in my mind ever since. It was a long time before I found out that it was based on a series from the ’60s. Nonetheless, it’s really cool to be working on a property that I liked so much as a kid.

TFAW.com: What specific elements are you bringing from the show to the comics, if any?

AC: Everything. The characters, the sets, the continuity, are all directly taken from the original show. I think the last episode was 1245, so it’s almost like this is episode 1246.

TFAW.com: Have you had to update anything major for a modern audience?

AC: I think my way of drawing does the trick. I have everything there for the faithful fan, but my own particular sensibilities, hopefully, make it relevant for a new audience.

TFAW.com: Are you modeling the characters after the original actors?

AC: Right down to the dimples and warts! Every character is absolutely based directly on the original actors.

TFAW.com: On the surface, Green Hornet Year One and Dark Shadows seem pretty different, but they both have roots in classic pulp serials. Have you found a lot of common ground while creating the art?

Dark Shadows ComicsAC: There’s actually a lot in common. Both series are rooted more in reality, with plain-clothed heroes and villains. The places are real world and the mood is dark and gritty. In truth I haven’t had to rethink my style at all.

TFAW.com: There is a lot of vampire stories out there today. Are you doing anything specific to set Dark Shadows apart, visually?

AC: Well, I think the source material takes the brunt of that responsibility. Dark Shadows must have been one of the first to bring monsters into the mainstream, right into the home on afternoon TV. It has a flair that is already distinctly its own. It’s just a matter of me getting it right.

TFAW.com: What are the advantages of working with Dynamite Entertainment?

AC: The advantage is, I get to do this stuff full time for a living! Ha ha. Actually I’ve built up a great relationship with the guys at Dynamite by now, at least I hope so, and they seem to have a good deal of faith in my abilities, so I have quite a bit of freedom to create the images I envision. Can’t ask for much more than that.

TFAW.com: What kind of comics did you read when you were growing up?

AC: X-Men, Wolverine, Spawn, the usual superhero stuff. I had a few outliers like Preacher and Sandman, but for the most part I had a pretty narrow view of what makes a good comic. I stopped collecting, though, once I got to college (couldn’t afford it anymore). Now that I’m back in it I’ve found that my tastes have totally changed. I don’t really go for the mainstream superhero genre, and I’m drawn to a more realistic style of art much more.

TFAW.com: If you could time travel, like in Dark Shadows, what advice would you give your younger self?

AC: Even if I could, any advice I might be able to offer I wouldn’t have listened to.

TFAW.com: What types of comics would you like to work on in the future? What’s next?

AC: Even though I’m not a big fan of superhero stuff now, I would actually really like to try my hand at some. Other than that, I’ll just take it as it comes and see what happens.

Our thanks to Stuart and Aaron for taking the time to answer all of our questions! You can pre-order the new Dark Shadows comics right here on our site. Plus, don’t forget to enter to win one of 10 sets of Dark Shadows #1. Each set includes the standard, variant, and rare incentive covers, so visit our Dark Shadows Contest Page now!

PRE-ORDER DARK SHADOWS COMICS AND SAVE 10-35%

ENTER OUR DARK SHADOWS CONTEST–NO PURCHASE NECESSARY

VISIT OUR DYNAMITE MONTH PAGE

Are you a Dark Shadows fan? Will you be checking out the new comic book series? Post your comments below!

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Artists Step up to Be Counted With CBLDF Membership Art Auctions!

October 21st, 2011 Comments off

Cliff Chiang Wonder Woman CBLDF SketchArtists are stepping up to Be Counted as CBLDF supporters with a round of auctions benefiting the organization on eBay this week. Frank Quitely, Jim Lee and Scott Williams, Cliff Chiang, Neal Adams, and other titans of comics have contributed prime pieces of original art that the CBLDF is auctioning off this week to individuals who support the Fund’s Be Counted membership drive. The CBLDF currently seeks to raise $100,000 by October 31 to support its urgent legal and education work, and has raised over $58,600 so far. Please sign up for membership today and Be Counted to help the Fund reach its goal!

This week’s new incentives include:

Neal Adams:

Batman Head Sketch–Master cartoonist Neal Adams supports the CBLDF with this contribution of an inked head sketch of Batman in his inimitable style!

Cliff Chiang:

Wonder Woman Original Art Pin-Up–Cliff Chiang supports the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund with a donation of this incredible original Wonder Woman pin-up, made to support his art opening at Bergen Street Comics on the occasion of Wonder Woman #1′s release. This is the only piece of Wonder Woman original art that Chiang has released into the marketplace.

Becky Cloonan and Brian Wood:

Conan Letterpress Print Artist Proof–Own this artist proof edition of a rare, limited Conan print signed by Becky Cloonan and Brian Wood featuring characters from Robert E. Howard’s Conan tale “Queen of the Black Coast.” The print is based on the line art of an exclusive variant cover and is being used by CBLDF for this exclusive premium item through the gracious cooperation of the Robert E. Howard Estate and Dark Horse Comics. Signed by Wood and Cloonan, these prints were hand-letterpressed by Letterpress PDX in Portland, Oregon on heavy wet-press rag stock, and are beautifully textured in person.

Jim Lee and Scott Williams:

Justice League #1, Page 11–Jim Lee and Scott Williams support the CBLDF with this exquisite page from Justice League #1, the best-selling comic book that launched the new DCU! Featuring Batman and Green Lantern facing off against the heavy artillery of Gotham’s PD, this piece is an exciting work of original art for a good cause.

Neal Adams CBLDF Batman Head SketchBecky Cloonan Brian Wood CBLDF Conan LetterpressJim Lee Scott Williams CBLDF Justice League #1 Page

Alex Maleev:

Spider-Woman Watercolor Painting–Alex Maleev contributes this moody watercolor painting of Spider-Woman to raise money for the important First Amendment legal work done by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund!

Charles Vess & Jeff Smith:

Rose Page 43–This is a rare, fully painted work of original art by Charles Vess, signed by Vess and Jeff Smith from Rose, the prequel to Smith’s seminal comic book series Bone! This item benefits the First Amendment legal work of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, during their Be Counted membership drive, where they are working to raise $100,000 by October 31 to pay for important legal and education work. This item includes one-year membership in the CBLDF.

Frank Quitely:

JLA: Earth Two, Page 27–Frank Quitely contributes this iconic page from JLA: Earth 2, featuring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, and Aquaman!

Please bid in these auctions to support the CBLDF, and also Be Counted by going to CBLDF.org and becoming a member. In addition to these auctions, the CBLDF still has the opportunity available for you to go to lunch with legends like Neil Gaiman, Dave Gibbons, Jennifer and Matthew Holm, Frank Miller, Gail Simone, and more! Please help the CBLDF protect comics by joining the CBLDF today!

Alex Maleev CBLDF Spider-Woman WatercolorCharles Vess Jeff Smith CBLDF Rose PageFrank Quitely CBLDF Justice League: Earth Two Page

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Writer Sterling Gates Introduces Us to Kirby: Genesis Captain Victory

October 21st, 2011 Comments off

Kirby: Genesis Captain VictoryIt’s Kirby: Genesis week here on the blog, with interviews with writer Kurt Busiek and artist Alex Ross, and today’s excellent interview with Sterling Gates, writer of Dynamite Entertainment’s upcoming Kirby: Genesis Captain Victory series. Based on the legendary Jack Kirby’s original creations, Captain Victory tells the story of a rebel captain determined to overthrow an evil overlord–who just happens to be his own grandfather!

Gates is a natural choice for a large-scale superhero epic: he’s been soaking in comics since he was young, first at his father’s comic shop, then as a comic shop employee, and later as Geoff Johns’ personal assistant and protegee. After well-received stints on Kid Flash and Supergirl, Gates is now heading up two high-profile superhero gigs: not only is he writing Captain Victory, but he’s also the pen behind DC’s new Hawk & Dove series.

We chatted Gates up as part of Dynamite Month and got the inside scoop on what it’s like to walk in Jack Kirby’s footsteps, the essential elements of a great superhero story, and what he’s tackling next! Plus, enjoy an exclusive five-page preview of Kirby: Genesis Captain Victory #1, out this November!

TFAW.com: Can you introduce us to Kirby: Genesis Captain Victory?

Sterling Gates: Kirby Genesis: Captain Victory is the first series spinning off of Dynamite’s hugely successful series Kirby: Genesis! Our series focuses on characters Jack Kirby actually wrote and drew in his own lifetime, a crew of Galactic Rangers that are lead by an enigmatic captain named Victory. Kirby’s book lasted for 13 issues in the early 1980s before he put it to bed, and we’re taking Victory’s story and reloading it for a modern audience while still retaining the characters and flavors of Kirby’s work.

Kirby: Genesis Captain Victory #1 Page 1TFAW.com: Who is Captain Victory? Where does he come from, and what does he want?

SG: Captain Victory is the grandson of the most malevolent and horrible character in the galaxy, a despot named Blackmass. Victory was raised to take over the family business, but–for reasons unknown–Victory opted to leave Blackmass and join the Galactic Rangers in an effort to train them to fight his grandfather.

Imagine if the grandson of Hitler decided to join the US Army to train them to fight the Nazis. Victory knows all of Blackmass’ tricks and tactics, and he’s been quietly showing them to the Galactic Rangers for years. Victory thinks of himself as the frontline against his grandfather, and it’s up to him to destroy Blackmass once and for all. So, lots of big action and family politics in this book!

TFAW.com: What’s it like bringing a Jack Kirby character to life?

SG: It’s pretty damn exciting, to be honest. Dynamite has been great in that they’ve let me sort of take my own approach to these characters, so I’m really working on fleshing out all of the characters in the book in new and exciting ways. Kirby was really great at presenting his characters on a large-scale canvas, but he left a lot of details wide open. We’re hoping to fill in those details even as we present a new, modern canvas. To stretch that analogy! [laughs]

TFAW.com: What do you think readers are going to be surprised by?

Kirby: Genesis Captain Victory #1 Page 2SG: I think they’re going to be surprised by just how far Victory is willing to go to stop Blackmass and his forces. Victory’s a hero, yes, but since he knows what his grandfather is capable of and he’s not bound by a personal moral code, he will oftentimes cross lines most heroes wouldn’t. Which usually gets him in trouble with Galactic Command. Think of Mal Reynolds from Firefly. He does his best to be a good man, but he’s willing to kick guys into the engines if it suits the greater good of his crew. Victory is similar, but he’s dealing with things on a much bigger scale. He’s willing to kill if it will save a planet, and he’s willing to kill a planet if it will save the galaxy.

TFAW.com: There are three Kirby: Genesis books in the works now–are they standalone series, or is it a crossover?

SG: They’re meant to be standalone. Victory certainly is, though at some point we’ll be picking up some threads from Kirby: Genesis and running with them. I haven’t had a chance to talk to editorial or Jai Nitz or Robert Rodi yet, but I wouldn’t rule an eventual big crossover out. It seems like if we’re going to be moving forward in this universe, a crossover would help get people interested in all of the books. I think it’d be fun to do one. When I wrote Supergirl for DC Comics, I was part of a mega-crossover called New Krypton. It was always a lot of fun figuring out how all the books intertwined and making everything in all of our stories relevant to the big picture across two years.

I’m not suggesting we do anything on that scale for the Kirby-verse, but I think it’d be fun to see what all of these different characters do when thrown back together after Kirby: Genesis is over!

Kirby: Genesis Captain Victory #1 Page 3TFAW.com: You literally grew up with comics, since your dad owned a comic shop. How does this affect your perspective of the comic book industry?

SG: Hm. I’m not entirely sure, actually. I’ve always been around comics or been a part of a comics “scene.” I honestly don’t know what it would be like for me to not be involved with comics in some way. We had the store when I was a kid, I was the weekend manager for a store called Speeding Bullet Books and Comics when I was in college, and my second job in Hollywood was as Geoff Johns’ personal assistant. So there’s always been a big connection to comics in my life one way or another. I think it helps a creator to have an idea what the retail side is like, and I think it helps a retailer to have some insight on what the creative side is like. The two sides support and feed one another in a (for the most part) perfect symbiosis.

TFAW.com: What were your favorite comics growing up?

SG: The Flash, Batman, Uncanny X-Men (or any book with Marvel character, Longshot), New Mutants/X-Force, Spider-Man, JLA, Starman, Pitt, Superman, New Teen Titans (which then became New Titans!), and D.P.7.

TFAW.com: You’ve exclusively written superhero comics thus far–what are your must-have elements for a great superhero series?

SG: Relatable characters readers can sympathize with that possess honest emotions. You can have all the superheroic, over-the-top action in the world, but the emotional core has to be true or else readers won’t care.

Kirby: Genesis Captain Victory #1 Page 4TFAW.com: With Kirby: Genesis Captain Victory and Hawk & Dove, you’re involved in the birth (or rebirth) of TWO superhero universes. How are they different for you?

SG: Well, the Kirby-verse was populated by Kirby, so it’s full of these crazy big ideas. Kirby was way, way ahead of his time, and we’re only just now catching up to him. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to look at the iPhone, which is essentially a Motherboxx. It just doesn’t have healing capabilities. Yet.

A lot of the ideas Kirby put down on paper haven’t been fleshed out, either, so we’re just now getting to fill in his worlds and present them to readers who might not have heard of Captain Victory or Silver Star. That’s one of the many things I really liked about this project, we’re getting a peek into Kirby’s unused concepts and ideas and bringing them out for modern audiences. That’s what sold me on getting involved with this book.

The DC Universe is still the same universe it’s been, more or less, but with some tweaks here and there. It’s still the same place Batman and Green Lantern have been living for all of these years, it’s just that some things are slightly different. The DC Universe has been around since before I was born, and it’ll be around long after I’m gone.

TFAW.com: This is your debut title for Dynamite Entertainment–how has the experience been, thus far?

SG: Fantastic! The guys at Dynamite–especially Nick Barrucci and Joe Rybandt–have been extremely supportive and helpful.

Kirby: Genesis Captain Victory #1 Page 5Alex Ross and Kurt Busiek have both been directly involved with the Kirby stuff, and getting notes and emails back from them has been really, really exciting for me. I admire their work so much, and it’s really gratifying to be able to work closely with them.

TFAW.com: What other projects are you excited about?

SG: Well I’m knee-deep in Hawk & Dove at DC right now, working with one of my childhood heroes, Rob Liefeld. I’m doing a couple little side-projects here and there, too. I wrote a story for an anthology called “The Gathering,” which is on sale on the Grayhaven Comics website, and it was drawn by this phenomenal artist named Cassandra James. I also did a story in the comic anthology Unite and Take Over, which is a bunch of stories inspired by the music of The Smiths. That’s debuting at Tucson Comic-Con in November, I believe. And then I’ve got a couple other projects that I can’t talk about just yet, so please stay tuned. :)

Our thanks to Sterling Gates for finding the time to answer all of our questions–while he was at NYCC, to boot! You can pre-order Kirby: Genesis Captain Victory comics right here at TFAW.com. Plus, remember that during October, you’ll save 35% on all of Dynamite’s October-catalog pre-order comics and graphic novels!

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Alex Ross Fills Us in on Kirby: Genesis and His Career at Dynamite Entertainment

October 19th, 2011 Comments off

Alex Ross Comics and Graphic NovelsYou know an artist must be good when a publication retires an award in his honor–and that’s exactly what happened after fan-favorite Alex Ross dominated Comics Buyer’s Guide Favorite Painter award year after year.

Ross burst onto the comics scene in 1994 with the now-classic miniseries Marvels, with writer extraordinaire Kurt Busiek. His realistic-yet-luminous paintings took comics to an exciting new level and delighted fans, who eagerly followed him to other landmark superhero epics like Kingdom Come, Astro City (again with Busiek), and Project Superpowers.

For years, Ross has created distinctive covers and character designs for Dynamite Entertainment, bringing classic characters like Vampirella, Green Hornet, The Phantom, and the Bionic Man to life. Now he’s working with Busiek once again for the ultimate superhero team up, Kirby: Genesis, reviving dozens of Jack Kirby’s characters in a brand-new universe with co-artist Jackson Herbert. We interviewed Ross for Dynamite Month and picked his brain about how he started in comics, whether he’ll ever do interior work again, and what’s coming up next! Read the interview, and then check out TFAW on Facebook to enter a contest to win one of five Green Hornet variant comics signed by Ross!

TFAW.com: First off, I wanted to say I’m a big fan of your work. I remember when Marvels came out, and it blew me away. It still has a special place in my heart.

Alex Ross: Thank you.

Kirby: Genesis #0 Alex Ross CoverTFAW.com: When did you realize you had a love for painting?

AR: Mostly in art school. I had very little opportunity in high school art class before to learn much about various paint media, so the classes I took in illustration and oil painting helped me see how painting was my best facility as an artist.

TFAW.com: Did you originally think you’d be able to use your talent to create comics?

AR: That’s all I thought I would use my “talent” for. I had such respect for the art form and business that I didn’t expect it to be easy to get into, but it was my grandest desire.

TFAW.com: Your work, in recent years, has focused on creating covers and designing characters. Do you miss doing full interiors?

AR: Absolutely. There are a lot of things where I would like to be fully immersed in telling the stories I participate with, and hopefully will get back into more storytelling over time. As it is, with all the projects I participate with today, it’s a very full workload, thankfully.

TFAW.com: How long does it take you to complete a cover?

AR: Two to three days, depending upon the complexity of the composition and number of figures.

Bionic Man #2 Alex Ross CoverTFAW.com: What elements do you think about when you create character designs, such as for Bionic Man?

AR: I’m often looking to connect with first what my greatest inspiration is for the character and content, often with some embrace of the original design and look for a character, first and foremost. Contemporary elements are often influenced by knowing what has been tried in the superhero and sci-fi genres and trying to think of anything that might be somewhat unique to a given take on the characters.

TFAW.com: With Kirby: Genesis, you’re doing layouts, art direction, and some of the artwork. What’s the experience been like thus far?

AR: Very satisfying, because I’m working with such an extremely talented artist. I’m a detail freak, so when I hand off a layout to someone who then makes it sharper and more realistic, it gratifies me to see it handled in a way that I would have hoped to do on my own.

TFAW.com: How does it feel to re-team with Kurt Busiek, who also wrote Marvels?

AR: Kurt and I have had a steady working relationship for years with Astro City, but this is the most involved in plotting and direct interaction on interiors since Marvels. Kurt has a very strong vision that I can easily respect and concede to, because as I know with Kurt, he’s thinking through absolutely everything. Kurt’s also been very respectful of my instincts, so there’s always been very good give-and-take. I just know I can rely and rest on his efforts in many ways.

Kirby: Genesis #1 Alex Ross CoverTFAW.com: What’s your process like with co-artist Jackson Herbert?

AR: Generally, I’m selecting pages out of the script to lay out that introduce new characters and elements that I want to give him the best interpretation through my filter of what Kirby had done or imagined. Often I’m wanting to keep a strong hand in just how the book looks overall, but Jackson’s a spectacular artist who doesn’t really need anyone to lay out anything for him. He is just, fortunately, indulging this heavy hand of mine on this project.

TFAW.com: Your art really lends itself to grand, cosmic beings, which makes you the ultimate pick to bring Jack Kirby’s characters to life. Were you excited at the prospect?

AR: Well, we’ve been working on and planning this for some years now. It’s been an enormous liberty to know that we could use just about anything in the family’s library of characters and sketches of Jack’s, helping to take some rough ideas and flesh them out as representing some of the archetypal characters that Jack had created for other publishers. Working on Kirby: Genesis, there isn’t the feeling that we’re missing some grand element that he created and left behind elsewhere. I really feel like I’m getting to play with all the pieces that make up the legacy of Jack Kirby.

TFAW.com: It would take most artists a lifetime to gather the huge amount of acclaim and respect that you’ve earned in a relatively short timeframe. What do you want to accomplish in the next decade?

The Last Phantom #9 Alex Ross CoverAR: In some ways, just the survival of the medium is going to be enough of an accomplishment for any of us to be around for or participate in. My greatest hope is to do more in comics–create more stories, hopefully do original creator-owned graphic novels one day. This art form–not necessarily this business–is what I always aspired to be a part of.

TFAW.com: You’re currently doing a lot of work for Dynamite. What are some of the high points of your career with them?

AR: I’ve been thrilled to work with many characters that are part of the great legacy of superheroes that don’t belong to the big publishers. There’s obviously a great amount of these left behind in the Golden Age of comics that we revitalized in Project Superpowers, and the freedom to build that world with Dynamite was tremendous fun. Working with other properties, like the Six Million Dollar Man, The Phantom, Flash Gordon, and the upcoming The Shadow, keeps me very charged up creatively.

TFAW.com: What other projects are you considering right now?

AR: As I mentioned, The Shadow is in development with my doing some interior work, as well as a new and hopefully even bigger stab at the world of Project Superpowers that we have developed.

We want to thank Alex Ross for taking the time to answer all of our questions–we’re huge fans! You can find a huge selection of Alex Ross comics and graphic novels here at TFAW.com–save 10-50%! Plus, remember to visit us on Facebook right now to enter our Alex Ross contest–you could win a Green Hornet variant cover signed by the master himself.

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Kurt Busiek Explains the Evolution of Dynamite’s Kirby: Genesis

October 17th, 2011 Comments off

Kirby: Genesis ComicsJacob Kurtzberg, a.k.a. Jack Kirby, is arguably the grandfather of the modern superhero, filling the Silver Age with such rich characters as the Fantastic Four, Thor, the Hulk, Iron Man, the original X-Men, the Silver Surfer, Doctor Doom, Galactus, Magneto, the Inhumans, Black Panther, and many more. So many more, in fact, that years after his death, the Kirby Estate had dozens of characters and designs that were either little used or had never seen the light of day.

Fortunately for us, Dynamite Entertainment came to an agreement with the Kirby Estate to unearth these characters and give birth to a brand-new superhero universe with Kirby: Genesis, a 10-issue series that will in turn spin off into three more titles: Captain Victory, Silver Star, and Dragonsbane.

The question is: who on earth can you hand this legacy to with the assurance that they will not only treat Kirby’s creations with respect, but will be able to make something fresh and new out of them? Clearly, you need the talents of Eisner and Harvey Award-winning writer Kurt Busiek, who has more than proven his gift for storytelling with Marvels, with Alex Ross, Avengers Forever, Astro City, Trinity, Conan, and many other series. Fortunately, Dynamite got him, and we got to interview him as part of Dynamite Month. Read on for his thoughtful responses to our questions, and enjoy the five-page preview of Kirby: Genesis #4, out October 26!

TFAW.com: What was the evolution of Kirby: Genesis, and how did you become involved?

Kurt Busiek: As I understand it, it started with Nick Barrucci at Dynamite. He started talking to Lisa Kirby and the Kirby Estate, intending to make a deal to revive various of Kirby’s creator-owned characters–mostly the characters we’d seen before, like Captain Victory and Silver Star, but some others as well.

Kirby: Genesis #4 Page 1Nick roped in Alex Ross, who wasn’t going to turn down the chance to work with Kirby concepts and designs, but they needed a writer to pull it all together, so Alex came to me. I was pretty busy, but the lure of Jack Kirby–and of working with Alex again on more than Astro City covers–was a strong one, and when Alex described a scene he wanted to paint–page 8 of #1, basically–all of a sudden, I could see the story, how it could all work.

That image Alex described, of the characters we’ve come to call the Pioneer Two, descending over Earth, just triggered the idea in me, that this was a story about ordinary people caught up in huge events as their world changed around them, changing from the ordinary world we know to one full of wonder and surprise and magic and heroes and monsters and more. That’s what hooked me, pulled me in. And that’s when we knew we needed more than just the list of characters Nick was talking with the Estate about. For one thing, the Pioneer Two weren’t on the list–and for another, I’d seen a lot of what else was out there in terms of Kirby concepts, both in places like John Morrow’s Jack Kirby Collector magazine and when I worked on the “Kirbyverse” books at Topps. And for the ideas we were talking about to be made real, we were going to need a lot of stuff, a lot of characters, a huge sweep.

So we went back to Nick and basically said, “If you can get us everyone, we’re in.” We wanted everything, any Kirby concept or design that hadn’t been sold to Marvel or DC or wasn’t otherwise tied up somewhere.

The Kirby Estate liked the ideas we had, so Nick made the deal, and off we went!

TFAW.com: What’s it like to be bringing Jack Kirby’s creations to life?

KB: It’s an amazing thrill. Kirby’s work is hugely powerful, not just in the sense of dynamic artwork, but in nuance, as well–just looking at a sketch of his, it’s easy to get a sense of humanity from it, or personality, attitude, and so on. The drawings are rich in potential, in ideas. Working on Kirby-created stuff at Marvel and DC is fun, too, but on that stuff, someone else has already gotten to it, developed it their own way, and you’re working with what Kirby did and what everyone who came afterward did. Here, we get to work with pure Kirby, and that’s just a wonderful experience.

Kirby: Genesis #4 Page 2Naturally, it’d be better if Kirby could have done it himself, but we don’t have that option, so we’re doing our best.

TFAW.com: How far had Kirby gotten in creating these characters? Were they already complete, or did you flesh them out?

KB: It varies wildly. There are characters like Captain Victory and Silver Star, who had their own series already, so there’s multiple issues’ worth of material that Kirby completed. Then there’s characters like Galaxy Green, who were on a two-page comics teaser. Or the Secret City characters, who are a set of designs and fairly detailed character profiles. But there are also the Norse heroes–Sigurd, Balduur, and the others–who were designs Kirby came up with for a proposed revamp of Thor that never went anywhere. There are no notes on them, just fully realized portfolio plates. Other characters were series pitches that didn’t come to fruition, so there are sketches and notes, still others are just sketches, or even art pieces Kirby did for his home that as far as we know he never planned to use in stories. We even have a set of costume designs he did for a college production of Julius Caesar.

So it ranges from fully fleshed-out characters all the way down to sketches that don’t have a name, much less a character description. So we get to work with what’s there, seeing what the designs suggest to us, how they resonate, what feels like a good way to use them, to flesh them out. That’s another part of what makes this book so much fun–it’s the variety. We’re building from Kirby all the time, but how detailed and how much–there’s a lot of creativity involved in bringing this world to life while honoring the source as much as we can.

TFAW.com: With Alex Ross on board, Kirby: Genesis reminds me of your classic collaboration, Marvels. What resonates with you about “the man on the street collides with superheroes” stories?

Kirby: Genesis #4 Page 3KB: Part of it’s just me–when I started reading comics, I was fascinated with the universe as much as with the characters, and I wondered what it would be like for ordinary people in a world like that. That’s something that’s never left me, so it’s a perspective I like to use, certainly in projects like Marvels and Astro City, but I did it even before those.

Part of it comes from that suggestion Alex made–I knew we had a lot of very different characters to work with, and we needed something to pull it all together, give the story a viewpoint and a structure so it wasn’t just a big pile of characters. And when he described that bit with the Pioneer Two, I suddenly realized we needed to approach this story that way, too–see it through the eyes of a normal guy whose world changes around him. That way, as crazy and as overwhelming as it is, the reader gets to sort it out along with him, and understand it as he does.

And it’s fitting we do that here, because the one piece of storytelling advice Jack Kirby ever gave me, back when I was working on the Topps “Kirbyverse,” was that it didn’t matter how wild or far out or cosmic you got in a story, just as long as your characters reacted to it like human beings would. If you can make the characters feel like they’re having the same reaction that the audience would, then the readers will follow you anywhere. So we took that literally with Kirby: Genesis. We’d give you a guy with his feet on the ground, part of the ordinary mundane world–and he’d be our guide into everything that comes.

TFAW.com: In Kirby: Genesis, it seems like the “ordinary world” is suddenly exploding with supernatural or otherworldly activity, both from above and underground–like it was waiting to happen. Are there some characters who knew this might be coming?

KB: Not exactly. If anyone knows, it’s the Pioneer Two, but who they are and what they’ve started is a mystery for Kirby and the others to solve. It’s not even clear whether the Pioneer Two brought all this hidden stuff out into the light, or retroactively created it. Did Silver Star exist, before they came to Earth? Or did they somehow cause him to manifest, along with a complete history that’s now a part of our reality? If you’d gone into that museum a week before all of this started, would Bobbi have even found the Sorcerer’s Book?

Kirby: Genesis #4 Page 4Was it all waiting to be discovered? Or was it just dreams and fantasies somehow made real? If the Pioneer Two know, they’re not saying–at least, not yet.

TFAW.com: I love that our “everyman” character is named Kirby. His interactions with Bobbi and Bobbi’s father feel so immediate and real. Are we going to get the know the “super” characters more, too?

KB: Actually, all three of them are named after Jack Kirby, in one way or another. Bobbi is named for “Bob Brown” and “Jack Cortez,” two pseudonyms Kirby used in the Golden Age, before he settled on “Jack Kirby.” And her father’s name, Jake, is from Kirby’s real name, Jacob. They’re the three main characters he didn’t create, but we wanted a piece of him in each of them.

As for the “super” characters–at the beginning, Kirby, Bobbi, and Jake don’t know anything about them, so they’re just a welter of new experiences and new ideas, but we get to know them over time, as Kirby and the others come to understand what’s going on. I think by #4 they’re already coming into focus, and they’ll continue to over the course of the series.

They’re what the world is becoming, and we’re going to get used to it and understand it over time.

TFAW.com: There are so many characters, so many different types of environments, so many creatures colliding at once–how do you keep track of it all?

KB: Well, I’ve got a list. And an outline. I know where the story’s going, I know the hidden connections, I know the patterns. So I’m nowhere near as lost as Kirby–I know where his path will lead him, and how everything’s going to fall into place. That makes it a lot easier.

Kirby: Genesis #4 Page 5That said, there are a lot of characters–a dozen or so main players or groups, and hundreds of drawings and concepts we can draw on as needed–and only so many pages, so there are times I have to say, “Well, I’d hoped to get a bit more of that guy’s story in this issue, but I’ll have to put it off ’til next time,” just so it doesn’t get too crowded.

That’s one of the reasons we started out thinking Kirby: Genesis would be eight issues long, and then expanded it to 10 issues. So much material!

TFAW.com: Kirby: Genesis is chock-full of classic superhero moments, but it doesn’t feel dated, or like it’s trying too hard to be retro. What’s your secret?

KB: I’m not trying to write it as a pastiche.

The idea here is to build a world that’s modern and fresh and new and involving, using these great ideas, some of which haven’t seen the light of day before, so there’s no reason to treat them as dated. As such, we’re not trying to do this project in Kirby’s style, but to make the best use we can of his ideas and characters in our own way. That’s how he worked, after all. When he was working with concepts that someone else had conceived–whether it was Green Arrow or 2001: A Space Odyssey or The Losers or The Prisoner–he didn’t imitate the style of the people who’d been there before him. He built on the concepts, stayed true to them, but told the stories his way. So we figure the best way to honor his concepts isn’t to try to make it “Kirbyesque,” but simply to try to make it good. To be true to his ideas, but to tell stories our way.

I could try to write like Jack, but I’m a better Kurt Busiek than I am a fake-Jack. Same for Alex–he’ll bring more power to Kirby’s designs by doing what he does best, rather than trying to do what Jack did best and no one else can duplicate.

So the result is Kirby concepts and characters with a modern approach. At least, that’s our goal.

Kirby: Genesis #3TFAW.com: Bobbi’s been possessed by an entity known as the Swan–is this permanent? Will she remain superpowered?

KB: Good question. Kirby and Jake certainly want her back as Bobbi, but it may not be that easy. We’ll have to see.

TFAW.com: Was it the plan from the start to have Jackson Herbert and Alex Ross collaborate on the art? Will this continue? It looks incredible thus far.

KB: It’s working really well, isn’t it? When we started, we knew Alex would be involved in the interior artwork, so we’d need an artist whose style would combine well with Alex’s, but we didn’t know right off who it would be. We actually had four or five different guys do tryout pages, and Jackson’s got him the gig. He and Alex had worked together before, but not quite in this way. As for whether they’ll do more collaborating after Kirby: Genesis, I couldn’t say–but they’re our art team for this whole project, and I’m very glad of it.

TFAW.com: How far ahead have you plotted?

KB: It depends. On the one hand, we have a plot outline that takes us all the way through the series, so when you look at it that way, it’s the whole thing. But I’m scrambling to stay ahead of the artists as I write the scripts–at this point, I’m about a third of an issue ahead of Alex, and two-thirds of an issue ahead of Jackson, so viewed that way, the answer’s “Not far enough!” But I’m hoping to pull a little further ahead and get some breathing room. Fingers crossed!

TFAW.com: Dynamite has several offshoots in the works, including Captain Victory and Silver Star. Will this be their ongoing superhero universe?

Kirby: Genesis #2KB: It’s certainly the plan to have there be a continuing Kirby line of books at Dynamite. Kirby: Genesis is the launch event, and new books are being brought in alongside it–not too many at once, but I think they’re up to three: Captain Victory, Silver Star and Dragonsbane, which focuses on the Norse heroes. There’s a lot more. I’d love to see a Galaxy Green mini-series, or the Glory Knights in their own book, or Thunderfoot. And even characters you haven’t seen yet, like Dragon Boy.

Kirby’s library of creations is rich enough to build something really fantastic, so we’ll have to see how it goes.

TFAW.com: You’ve written for a lot of publishers, including DC, Marvel, and Dark Horse. How do you like working with Dynamite?

KB: Working with any company is more about the people than the company. And at Dynamite, I get to work with good people–Alex as the main guy I collaborate with, and Joe Rybandt as our editor. It’s always nice to be able to talk to the guy at the top, and Dynamite’s a compact enough company that I’m dealing with Nick directly a lot. Plus, they’ve brought together a terrific team, with Jackson, our colorist Vinicius, and letterer Simon Bowland, who manages to fit my script into the art in some pretty tight spaces.

It’s funny–Dynamite’s a small company, but the creative team spans three continents, thanks to our all being connected digitally.

And I can’t complain about company support–Nick’s put a huge amount of energy and effort into promoting Kirby: Genesis, which is the kind of thing any creator wants from his publisher. Nick is a tireless promoter, and I think that’s one of the reasons Dynamite is growing as well as it has been.

TFAW.com: Are there any superheroes, either classic or new, that you’d like to get your hands on?

Kirby: Genesis #1KB: A few. But after doing JLA/Avengers and Trinity, I feel like I’ve experienced the Marvel and DC Universes on a grand scale, and then I’ve got a whole superhero universe in Astro City and another building in Kirby: Genesis. So I’ve been up to my ears in superheroes, and it’s almost a question of who I haven’t already written.

It’d be fun to get a swing at the Fantastic Four someday, or the Legion of Superheroes, or someone off the beaten track like the Shadow or Magnus Robot Fighter or the THUNDER Agents. But at least for now, outside of Astro City and Kirby: Genesis, I’m trying to focus on non-superhero stuff as well, including The Witchlands, which is still in the works, and the long-awaited sequel to Arrowsmith.

I’m sure there’ll come a time when I want more superheroes in my life, but I like variety, too. So I want to keep mixing it up.

Our sincere thanks to Kurt Busiek for a truly heroic interview. You can browse all of the Kirby: Genesis comics right here on TFAW and save 10-35%. Plus, through 10/31, save 35% on all of Dynamite’s October-catalog comics and graphic novels!

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Pulp Fiction: Arvid Nelson Talks Warlord of Mars and Lord of the Jungle

October 14th, 2011 Comments off

Warlord of Mars ComicsAlthough he’s been gone since 1950, Edgar Rice Burroughs has had an amazing influence on the recent pop-culture landscape. One of his most popular characters, John Carter–a Civil War veteran who is mysteriously transported to Mars for incredible adventures–is starring in several new comic book series and reprinted collections, plus he’s also getting a movie: Disney’s John Carter is due out March 9, 2012. Meanwhile, Burroughs’ most famous character, Tarzan, is getting a no-holds-barred comic book adaptation, Lord of the Jungle, courtesy of Dynamite Entertainment, this December!

When checking out these classic pulp adaptations, it’s no coincidence that one name keeps popping up: Arvid Nelson. Nelson, who is currently writing Warlord of Mars, Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris, and Lord of the Jungle for Dynamite, has been a longtime fan of the genre, which also influenced his original series, Rex Mundi.

As part of Dynamite Month, we asked Nelson what attracts him to these classic stories, what he thinks of the upcoming movie, and what he’d like to tackle next. Plus, we’ve got an exclusive five-page preview of Warlord of Mars #11, out October 19, so feast your eyes!

TFAW.com: Hi Arvid, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions!

Arvid Nelson: Let the jabbering commence!

Warlord of Mars #11 Page 1TFAW.com: Between your work writing Thulsa Doom, the Warlord of Mars series, Queen Sonja, and your original series, Rex Mundi, it’s clear that classic pulp adventure stories are in your blood. What was your introduction to the genre?

AN: I’ll never forget pulling R Is for Rocket by Ray Bradbury at my local library. It was mixed up with the children’s books. I think I was about 10. There was a story in it about a man encased in an alien chrysalis . . . I got sucked down the black hole, right then and there!

TFAW.com: There are a ton of comics today inspired by legendary writers like Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs. What makes their stories so comics-friendly, besides their serialized nature?

AN: The stories are so visual! I sort of reject the idea anyone can do a “definitive” take on a story. I love seeing how different writers and artists handle the same material.

TFAW.com: What is it about these stories that keeps attracting new fans, decade after decade?

AN: Small publishers like Arkham House and Gnome Press–and devoted fans–deserve a lot more credit. If not for them, time would have gobbled up most of these stories.

Warlord of Mars #11 Page 2TFAW.com: What are the challenges you face adapting Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Barsoom series for Warlord of Mars? What’s your process?

AN: There’s a colossal amount of information in the originals. Colossal. Deciding what to cut is very painful, like having six children and only enough food for one of them to make it through the winter.

TFAW.com: From what I’ve read of your Warlord of Mars comics, it looks like you’ve completed Princess of Mars and are embarking on Gods of Mars. Will you adapt the entire Barsoom series?

AN: We’ll see how it goes! Right now I’m working on one story at a time. We’ll also be doing original interludes here and there. Currently, we’re in the throes of an original bridge between Princess of Mars and Gods of Mars.

TFAW.com: What have you changed in these stories for a modern audience, if anything?

AN: The artists and I try to give the stories a more present-day look and feel. For instance, Martian scout ships–I’d always seen them as flying canoes. We decided to make them jet bikes. Totally rad! There’s also a certain amount of racial stereotyping in the original stories. So that’s not very cool.

Warlord of Mars #11 Page 3TFAW.com: Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris is a prequel to the original stories, which must give you a lot more freedom in terms of storytelling. How hard is it to tell essentially original stories that still fit into Edgar Rice Burroughs’ world?

AN: Not hard at all! Burroughs did such an amazing job creating the world, the stories practically jump out at you.

TFAW.com: What do you think about the upcoming John Carter movie? Have you seen the trailers?

AN: I did see the trailers! And I’m excited, very. The artists working on it have come up with some weird and wonderful designs.

TFAW.com: You’re about to take the reins of another classic epic with Lord of the Jungle, an adaptation of Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes, which, in the solicitation copy, promises to be “uncensored.” What does that mean?

AN: It’s not going to be X-rated or anything! We just want to present readers with the original character, as Burroughs conceived of him. Most adaptations stray pretty far from the source.

TFAW.com: You’re also going to be expanding on the original story and adding some original elements. What aspects of the story are you most excited to flesh out?

Warlord of Mars #11 Page 4AN: Ah, that would be telling! You’ll just have to read the story.

TFAW.com: Juggling so many series at once, you’re probably Dynamite Entertainment’s most prolific writer. What makes Dynamite a good fit for you?

AN: Dynamite offers me stories any writer would strangle puppies for a chance to script. They really get behind their titles, too–for instance, offering Warlord and Jungle #1 at $1 a piece. I feel great about everything we’ve accomplished with Warlord, and I can’t wait to unleash Jungle on the world.

TFAW.com: What other projects are you looking forward to?

AN: Gods of Mars, the next installment of Warlord of Mars! We’re telling it at a much faster pace than the first story arc, so hold on tight. I’m also writing a novel. Which is terrifying.

TFAW.com: Fifty years from now, how do you want to be remembered as a comic book writer?

Warlord of Mars #11 Page 5AN: If I’m remembered at all, it will be a sign of the impending collapse of Western Civilization.

Our thanks to Arvid for patiently answering all of our questions. You can pre-order Warlord of Mars and Lord of the Jungle here–in fact, Lord of the Jungle #1 is just $0.65 in October, so make sure to pick it up now. You can also find a slew of excellent Dynamite pre-order comics and graphic novels at an amazing 35% off for a limited time here at TFAW.com.

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Are you excited for more Warlord of Mars and the debut of Lord of the Jungle? Post your comments below!

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Phil Hester & Jonathan Lau Rebuild Bionic Man With Kevin Smith

October 12th, 2011 Comments off

Bionic Man ComicsGo on, I dare you: take a look at Alex Ross’s excellent covers for Dynamite Entertainment’s new Bionic Man comics without hearing, “Gentlemen: we can rebuild him,” and The Six Million Dollar Man theme song. Go on! I’ll wait here.

The Six Million Dollar Man was an icon of 1970s’ TV, starring Lee Majors as Steve Austin, an astronaut who barely survived a horrific crash and was literally “rebuilt” with cutting-edge bionics, later working as a secret agent for intelligence agency O.S.I. After the series ended, Austin’s adventures continued on in a few TV movies in the ’80s and ’90s (one co-starring a very young Sandra Bullock!), but the concept was ripe for a reboot: enter Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy), who wrote a screenplay, titled Bionic Man, a few years ago. After the success of adapting Smith’s Green Hornet screenplay to comics, Dynamite decided to bring Steve Austin into the 21st century with the help of Phil Hester and Jonathan Lau with their new Bionic Man series!

Hester and Lau, of course, also took the helm on Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet comics, which makes them familiar to TFAW readers. We had the chance to interview them about Bionic Man as part of Dynamite Month, and they were nice enough to throw in an exclusive five-page preview to Bionic Man #3, out October 19! Read on:

TFAW.com: This is the second time both of you have collaborated on a Kevin Smith screenplay–the first time being with Green Hornet, of course. What were the major differences this time, with The Bionic Man?

Phil Hester: The source material is a bit older. Kevin wrote his Bionic Man screenplay quite a long time ago, so there were a lot of technical updates we needed to do, especially regarding computer and cell phone advances. As far as the actual working process goes, very little difference. I adapt the screenplay, Kevin edits my pass, I incorporate his notes, Kevin does a final polish, and then poor Jonathan has to draw it all.

Bionic Man #3 Page 1Jonathan Lau: Yes, very much so–at least poor Jonathan is glad to be on this team. Phil knows what I enjoy working on and allowed me to have at it. The only thing missing is the live-action movie that coincides with the comic book, as with Green Hornet.

TFAW.com: I’m a huge fan of the original Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman–were you familiar with the shows before you started on the project?

PH: Sure. I was a kid when both shows originally aired. I spent many a recess running in slow motion and lifting imaginary cars off of imaginary trapped grandmas while humming “nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh!”

JL: I have vague memories of the show, so I couldn’t say I am a die-hard fan. But Lee Majors will always be the Six Million Dollar Man for me. And very similar to Phil, I did those things too. It’s just that when leaping off high cabinets, gravity isn’t in slow motion for me, so I go “nuh-nuh-nuh-n-OWWW!”

TFAW.com: I was holding my breath waiting to see what the name of Steve’s girlfriend (who happens to be blond, athletic-looking, and a grade-school teacher) was, and was happy when it turned out to be [SPOILER ALERT!] Jaime! Does that mean there’s a Bionic Woman comic in our future?

PH: Mmmmmmm–could be.

Bionic Man #3 Page 2TFAW.com: Besides some of the minor changes, such as Steve being a test pilot instead of an astronaut, I would think the most important changes would involve how quickly technology has advanced since the 1970s. Do you think that helps or hinders the story?

PH: I think it helps, especially with all the Iraq and Afghanistan wars producing so many wounded vets who utilize prosthetic technology. A character struggling with adjusting to a largely artificial body, even one that gives him tremendous physical advantages, has a deep resonance with what’s happening today. There’s also the whole issue of just how closely humans will want to integrate with artificial intelligence. The Bionic Man is a great book for playing with those concepts.

TFAW.com: What are some other major changes from the television series that fans will notice?

PH: No holds barred. For the most part, the show was hindered by the special effects technology and television budgets of the ’70s. We can do anything with Steve’s powers, as long as Jonathan can draw it . . . and he can draw anything. You’ll see a lot more widescreen action in this book than we ever saw on the show, and some adversaries that are Steve’s equal in the super-human abilities department.

TFAW.com: Who is Margaret, and what is her role in the O.S.I.?

Bionic Man #3 Page 3PH: Margaret Carlisle is the cold, calculating head of O.S.I. She’s the kind of level headed, but lethal power player you are secretly glad is on your side. But as Steve and Oscar learn, one can never be 100 percent sure she is on your side.

TFAW.com: At this point in the story, there’s already one rogue “Bionic Man” running around, destroying technology and actually eating people. What triggered this maniac?

PH: I don’t want to spoil any plot points, but I think it’s safe to say this rogue cyborg has a legitimate beef with O.S.I. How he tries to resolve this conflict is where things get sticky.

TFAW.com: There seems to be a clear man-versus machine dynamic here–for example, one character is disgusted when better, more efficient machines put people out of work. Margaret believes that her “Bionic Men” should be treated like machines rather than people, and turned off when not working. What are your thoughts on this matter?

PH: Well, that’s the heart of the whole thing, isn’t it? At what point in the union of man and machine does the man disappear? This is Steve’s daily existence. His new body has given him incredible powers, but by definition, it has distanced himself from the rest of humanity. I think what he chooses to do with his abilities makes him a true hero, as he comes to value the humanity he maintains beneath the plastic and titanium more than he ever did when he was flesh and blood.

TFAW.com: When you and Jonathan got to the end of Kevin’s storyline for Green Hornet, you continued the comics yourself. Do you see that happening with The Bionic Man?

Bionic Man #3 Page 4PH: I hope so, but that’s for the reading public to decide.

TFAW.com: You’ve done several books with Dynamite now. What are the advantages to working with them?

PH: They never stop moving. Too many companies are paralyzed by success. I mean, they find a formula that works and stick with it even after if stops working. Nick Barrucci and Joseph Rybandt are never content to rest on past success. They’re always tinkering, always looking for new opportunities. Also, they pay on time, every time.

TFAW.com: Jonathan–some of the characters, like Steve, somewhat resemble their television counterparts, while others, like Rudy, look quite a bit different. What kind of guidelines were you given?

JL: Phil usually gives detailed descriptions or actor references for the casts. And whenever supporting characters are open to interpretation, I still look for actor references myself. It helps to have distinguishable facial features, and the more eccentric the better. The main character, however, is designed by Alex Ross.

TFAW.com: How do you approach drawing the bionics? Are you basing them on real-world technology, or getting creative?

JL: I really appreciate Alex’s design–the glowing muscle fibers of Steve’s bionics is really an impressive idea. Some people are really good at designing robots and mechanical parts extravagantly out from their noggins, whereas I have to Google ideas. The rest of the characters I get to design. For Hull, Steve’s counterpart and predecessor, I made him look duller in color to contrast with Steve’s upgraded, shiny, sophisticated look. Meanwhile, the Naga (Hull’s henchmen) have the crudest technology of all of the bionic men. This is to show the differing levels of technology. It’s more realistic that way.

Bionic Man #3 Page 5TFAW.com: How does The Bionic Man compare to when you were drawing Green Hornet?

JL: It’s like comparing an elephant to a gazelle. Readers familiar with my Green Hornet work may remember the flow and grace of the action scenes, the moves of a martial artist–but martial artists can’t punch through walls or lift heavy objects. That’s where the fun in Bionic Man comes in. I’d say Green Hornet will always be special to me, not only because of the cape and kung fu that I love, but it also kicked me up a notch in the comics industry (and I’m still waiting for a Green Hornet/Batman crossover). In any case, as long as there are gratuitous action scenes, I’m along for the ride. In addition, I get to draw covers for the two titles.

TFAW.com: What’s been your favorite part of The Bionic Man thus far?

JL: That would be the most current issue I’m working on, which is issue #4, where we finally see Steve exercising his bionics. But what I’m highly anticipating are issues #5 and #6, where I finally get to do some bionic brawls! It’s about time, I’d say.

TFAW.com: What do you have coming up next?

JL: Other than doing alternate covers of different titles, Nick Barrucci and I often talk about what other titles I would like to work on (PSP Chapter 3?) Hopefully it’ll come about. But for the moment I’ll take one bionic step at a time.

Our thanks to Phil and Jonathan for answering all of our questions–we can’t wait to see the rest of Bionic Man #3! You can order all of Dynamite’s Bionic Man comics right here on our site. Plus, remember that you’ll save 35% on all of Dynamite Entertainment’s October catalog comics and graphic novels this month only!

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Are you a Steve Austin and O.S.I. fan? Have you checked out Bionic Man yet? Post your comments below!

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September Product Review Contest Winners

October 11th, 2011 Comments off

As part of our monthly Product Review Contest, we’ve picked three reviews and are awarding $25 gift certificates to the people who posted them.

Jon from Albuquerque, NM is the first of this month’s winners. His review of Usagi Yojimbo Vol. 25 was just what the doctor ordered:

Wow. Looking at a Stan Sakai story, esp. Usagi stories, and you think…Black and white,eh. Rabbit ronin, ronin rhino, bounty hunter dog, how good can it be. Then, an hour or two later, after you have read and reread the whole book, you out a breath you didn’t know you were holding in and just marvel. Stan does in a few lines and brush strokes what Elephant Men did with a huge color palate and massive art and massive characters. And still, the Usagi story is better. Not to say bad things about E-Men, but they do things in an over the top way. Stan never did and never has to. Wonderful read, wonderful art, simple wonderful.

Dave’s four-star review of Dan’s review of The Traveler TPB Vol. 1 also caught our eye as we were looking through last month’s reviews:

I enjoyed the story, and the art is what drew me in overall. I liked the new company and definitely will be enticed into continue my read of the series. I may even try the other titles as well.

Finally, Jennifer from Richland, MI dropped by to give her two cents about the Elephantmen TPB Vol. 1.

Great. Good looking art and a fun story. Excellent characters. One of my new favorites.

We want to thank everyone again for sharing their product reviews last month! If you’re submitting product reviews, please don’t submit duplicate reviews or submissions from other merchant websites. You don’t have to like the product to snag a winning review, so feel free to rant or gush.

So submit your reviews and help your fellow collectors, and us, sort out the “HOT” from the “NOT”! Who knows, you may be one of next month’s winners.

HOW TO SUBMIT A PRODUCT REVIEW:
It’s simple! Just visit any product page and look for this:

Click on it and our product review form will appear in a popup. Just fill out the pertinent information and submit your review, and you’re done! We’ll take a look at your review and get it up on the product page soon thereafter!

There’s also a really easy way for you to call up everything you’ve ever ordered from us and review it. Simply log in to your account and go into the Order History Section. Next to each item, you’ll see a “Review it!” link.

Questions? Comments? Let us know below!

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Enter to Win $500 in Gift Certificates at TFAW.com This Week!

October 10th, 2011 Comments off

The holidays are coming–want to add a little extra oomph to your shopping budget? This week, TFAW.com is giving away $500 in online gift certificates! Just take 10 minutes to answer our customer survey by October 16, and you’re automatically entered to win. We’ll be choosing 16 lucky winners to receive one of six $50 gift certificates or 10 $20 gift certificates and emailing them out October 17, giving you plenty of time to pick up that must-have figure or graphic novel before December 25.

At TFAW.com, we want to serve your needs to the very best of our abilities–and we know our customers have some strong opinions! Take a moment to share them with us by this Sunday, and stay tuned via Twitter or Facebook for updates!

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