Compiling my thoughts for Biff’s Bit a little late this month has given me the opportunity to mention something fantastic.
A few days ago, Ace Comics received an unannounced, secret shipment of comics containing #1 issues of Robert Kirkman’s new series Die! Die! Die!. Being a big fan of comic shops, and wary of the fact that it is relatively impossible to surprise an eager and interested market these days, thanks to Twitter, Facebook and all of the online media outlets, Kirkman was able to get the first issue of this new series produced and released with no fanfare, previews or great discussions beforehand.
It is an interesting release in our information oversaturated age and I think he sums his feelings up in a letter which is printed in the back of Die! Die! Die! #1:
“THERE’S SOMETHING MAGICAL ABOUT GOING INTO A COMIC SHOP.
For me, the heyday of this magic was in the early ’90s when I was around 13 years old. Back then… you didn’t know what was coming out months in advance. There were ads in comics, sure… but when you walked into a comic shop and looked at the new comic rack, it was full of something that I think modern comics is very much lacking… SURPRISE.
I remember walking across the store, seeing the new rack from afar… scanning the covers trying to figure out what they could be as I got closer and closer. Back then you could arrive at a store and say, “What the heck is Sleepwalker?” and it was just there, on the shelf waiting for you to find out. I remember when I first saw the cover for Infinity Gauntlet… what the heck could that be? All the Marvel heroes in one comic? That’s special – it’s not like they did that twice a year back then!
Even later on, after I’d discovered Previews and would scan that catalogue for hours looking for the books I’d be buying in the future, you could still get a surprise cover change. “Hey! That’s not the cover to Spawn #4! He’s supposed to be in the woods!” But as time went on and the internet started feeding us more and more information than we could ever want about every little thing in existence… those surprises pretty much faded away.
Now, I’m very excited to hear about new series being launched by creators I care about – or new ideas from new creators I’m just learning about. But those months and months of WAITING for the project to finally arrive after I’ve read articles and interviews and seen posters heralding its arrival seem endless! Especially if people announce the book too soon and push the launch back. Personally, I find my excitement for any project is never higher than when I first hear about it.
So my goal, as a creator, was to figure out how to shorten that time… how can you announce a project and have it available and in stores at the SAME TIME? Well, let me tell you… it’s really, really, really hard. Thankfully, the teams at Skybound and Image have worked tirelessly to figure out a way to do just that… and that’s how we’ve ended up with DIE!DIE!DIE! in your hands right now!
How cool is that?!
I wanted people to be able to enjoy this idea (that Scott M. Gimple and Chris Burnham and I cooked up) immediately after learning about it. I hope you were able to sit down and read this issue without any idea for what you were getting into it… and I’m hoping that was exhilarating! Scott has always been a huge fan of comics. If you don’t know, Scott has been the showrunner on The Walking Dead TV show since Season 4. He recently stepped down after Season 8 (allowing the marvelous Angela Kang to take over), and while I’m not going to say he stepped down so that we could do this book… it’s certainly possible that was his main reason.
Chris has been an artist I’ve loved. His early career with Joe Casey on Nixon’s Pals and Officer Downe (watch the movie!) are fantastic, and his work with Grant Morrison on Batman and Nameless (a fantastic series) are EPIC.
So when we started cooking up what we were going to do… I knew it would be absolutely insane!
Personally, I try to make every project I take on as different as possible from things I’ve done… and I don’t think this could be any further from INVINCIBLE, THE WALKING DEAD, OUTCAST or OBLIVION SONG (not to mention SUPER DINOSAUR). Breaking new ground feels awesome! I love this book!
And we hope you do, too! Be on the lookout for the second issue very soon, and we’ll continue monthly for the foreseeable future! But part of the fun is that our issues will arrive in stores without the covers appearing online and without too much being spoiled about the book – so this going to be an insane ride!
Thanks for climbing onboard!”
– Robert Kirkman Backwoods, CA June 2018
My September Picks
Warren Ellis when on song creates some of the most thought provoking and intelligent comics available today. His series TREES from Image about Alien Towers redsigning the planet Earth was a case in point, terrific stuff and available in two trades for those that missed it the first time.
Solicited this month is CEMETERY BEACH, a tale about an attempt to check up on a colony ship sent to a newly discovered planet 100 years past. The mission details were lost and only just rediscovered. An operative is sent to check on this colony, but, gets captured immediately and has to escape and get back alive. Escape he does with a companion who is a murderess and they have to travel a sprawling landscape populated by generations of lunatics. The meaning of the title becomes clear as the story progresses.
Dark Horse Comics
Dark Horse have , over the years, been the masters of the movie and Television comic transition. They kept the Star Wars franchise alive for over a decade, until Disney/Marvel tore it back from them, Aliens and Predators have lived here for decades, with Buffy The Vampire they completed Joss Whedon’s vision for years with Seasons 8 to 11 and before that created stories of their own.
Now they are taking the Netflick sensation and nostalgia igniting series STRANGER THINGS and creating a tale based on Will’s previously unseen journey into a dimension of decay and destruction as he dodges the pursuit of the Demogorgon and escape the upside down. This takes plave during season One.
Identity Crisis , a seven issue mini series from 2004, a classic tale of intrigue, mystery and over stepping the line, and still a must have read over a decade later explored serious issues about life and was not just about heroes beating villains, is an example of what DC do best.
This month issue one of HEROES IN CRISIS is solicited, also a seven issue series, and once again a serious look at real issues (as well as some good villain fighting) occurs as pertinent every day issues are explored.
The core idea is superheroes suffer from ‘post traumatic stress disorder’ PTSD and need somewhere to recover. Only three people know who goes to this Sanctuary and they keep no records. Batman sees it as a necessity, Superman as a good thing and Wonder Woman as a kindness. However, all is not well and despite only robots and holograms working in ‘Sanctuary’ someone or something has found out and tragedy strikes.
Long term readers are likely to remember Sam Keith and his wild creation MAXX. With psychedelic art and off beat stories it really was a beautiful if sometimes confusing read. The art itself is worth buying his comics for. This month sees IDW solicit a BATMAN/MAXX crossover, the first new Maxx story in over a decade, starts in Arkham as a devious new doctor experiments on The Maxx. Rather him than me. Written by John Layman with art by Sam Keith miss it at your peril.
Thought for the Month
As I type this England have not played the semi final, but, the team that Gareth Southgate has put together exemplifies an inspirational vision of youth and experience working together with no great ego. They work hard and complete the boring tasks of life with as much energy as they do the exciting parts. This is football setting an example for all to follow. Win or lose on the day all of the UK has gained from this display. Bravo England and Gareth.
P.S. I have always worn waistcoats and taught Gareth all he knows!