Tagged: Brian Wood

Emily S. Whitten: Stela – The New Style of Digital Comics

Stela_homeThere’s a new digital comics platform on the horizon, and it looks fantastic in its simplicity. The new mobile comics platform, coming to us in early 2016, is called Stela (pronounced “Steela”). It is a both an app and a publisher, being a platform optimized for smartphones that offers exclusive original content by award-winning writers and illustrators, including Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, Joe Casey, Irene Koh, Brian Wood, Ron Wimberly, Stuart Moore, and many more.

The founders of Stela come from the comics, gaming, and mobile gaming industries; and its leadership includes Creative Director and Editor-in-Chief Ryan Yount, and Senior Editor Jim Gibbons (formerly of Dark Horse Comics). Stela intends to bring new content to the app every weekday, and will be available via subscription.

What’s interesting about the design of Stela is that not only is the app optimized for smartphones via heavy use of the vertical scrolling that we’re already so used to doing when we read Twitter, Tumblr, or news articles on our phones, but the comics themselves are also designed to fit this format. So while you may not see, for instance, wide splash pages in the stories, you will get a storytelling mode that doesn’t require pinching and zooming, or swiping in several directions to see a whole page. Instead, the stories, which look great on the iPhone, fit the vertical screen and are easy to read without a lot of fuss (which is great when you’re crowded on the Metro with barely one hand or finger free for scrolling, I can tell you).

I’ve been able to play around with an early version of the app, currently available on iPhones and other iOS devices, and in design, it’s super easy to use, and intuitive for anyone who’s used to consuming content on smartphones. Selecting a story to read is a simple matter of scrolling horizontally through a menu of covers; and once you’re in the story, you can easily access chapters, general info (synopsis and creator information), and a comments section, as well as a “like” button, from a main info page.

Stela_coverStory chapters are aligned vertically from newest to oldest; and once in the chapter, reading is a simple matter of scrollin’ on down. The app also saves your place in a chapter when you exit, so you can pick up exactly where you left off. To navigate in the app anywhere from the main menu for all stories all the way down to the individual pages is as simple as single taps and vertical swipes. In its logical organization and simplicity of use, the app is pretty exciting.

The sample content that is available so far is also worth paying attention to. The four stories that have a few chapters available, plus the sneak peaks at other upcoming stories, already showcase that the variety of styles and subjects in both story and art should offer something for everyone. From a Roman alternate history story with a realistic art style (Rome West, by Justin Giampaoli, Brian Wood, Andrea Mutti, and Wangjie Li) to a story about a haunted town with a somewhat more cartoonized look (Ghost FM, by Caleb Goellner and Wook Jin Clark) it’s clear the publisher is not limiting itself. Other offerings include Inheritance, a fantasy tale with beautiful art about a magical child living in a treacherous world (by Breakout Bit, Kinman Chan, Ryan Yount, Sam Lu, and Yumiki Hong), and The Winternational, an adventure story with a slightly stylized look, about an agent trying to use recently-acquired “powers of cold manipulation” for good (by Man of Action’s Joe Casey along with Luke Parker, Sonia Harris, and Brad Simpson).

After exploring the new platform, I turned to Senior Editor Jim Gibbons for further information on what Stela’s goals are and what we can expect. Here’s what Jim had to say:

What industry gap does the company see the mobile platform filling?

Jim Gibbons: Right now, comics are penetrating pop culture in a huge way with TV shows and movies. While we’re seeing very healthy numbers coming out of the direct market and implications show a growth of the audience, aided by digital comics as well, making it easier than ever before to find and buy comics, there are still a number of aspects that get in the way of bringing in new readers. Our goal is to make comics as accessible as possible by beaming curated content directly into your pocket for a small monthly fee. There’s less, “Where do I start?” and, “How do I get started?” Instead, you just pop into the app store, plug in your info, and you’re reading incredible comics within seconds.

Stela_reading1Do you see this as competing with, or complementing, other digital content out there? What is the vision for how this company will grow?

Jim Gibbons: Our goal is to provide great comics content to as large an audience as possible. I view it as complementary to comics, both physical and digital, that exist within the current comics industry. We’re a publisher curating mobile native content meant to be read on your phone. It’s not intended to replace current comics–more to make comics easier to take on the go, easier to read wherever you are, and easier to introduce to non-comics readers. The amount of people who own iPhones is massive. We’re looking to not only deliver comics for current comic book fans, but to reach into the mobile market and convert those iPhone owners into comics readers. Hopefully that leads our audience to the direct market much like we hope our curated, exclusive content brings people to us from the current comics audience, as well.

Why iPhone only? Will it eventually be elsewhere?

Jim Gibbons: iPhone is only the beginning. You gotta start somewhere, right? But the goal is then Android and beyond.

How is this priced, and how is it set up financially for creators? Is this going to change as it grows?

Jim Gibbons: The cost for readers will be comparable to the monthly subscriptions paid for streaming services like Hulu Plus, HBO Go, or Spotify. For creators, we’re paying competitive page rates up front for fully creator-owned content. Creators also receive money on the backend through revenue sharing. Readers who support our app and our publisher are directly supporting our creators. I like to think of us as creator-fueled as we fuel our creators! It’s a partnership and we’re in the business of making dope comics with our creative partners!

I’m sure we’ll change as we grow, but that commitment to our creators and the commitment to making engaging and rewarding comics for our audience will be a constant.

Stela_reading2Do you think this is going to change the way comics storytelling is done in bigger ways than just the app? What affect do you hope to see on the comics industry?

Jim Gibbons: While there are certain ways in which our vertical format affects storytelling, it’s still panel after the next as far as a reading experience goes. It’s been inspiring to see creators get excited about knowing exactly what image a reader will see, one after another. I mean, there’s no accidentally seeing a spoiler a few panels down or on the next page. In essence, every panel could be a reveal, and that allows for some suspenseful storytelling.

Hopefully, like all new ways of doing sequential storytelling, we’ll see our format introduce another way of thinking about comics into the minds of creators. Webcomics and comic folks on Tumblr have been playing with format for years. We’re just hoping that we can provide another great venue for those experiments and, in turn, just add another creative jolt to comics as a whole.

What’s the reaction been like from creators working in this format so far? (e.g. limitations resulting from the scrolling design, or any opportunities it’s created in design? How has it affected the storytelling?)

Jim Gibbons: There’s definitely been a learning curve, but primarily people have gotten really excited about the possibilities of the format and the delivery method. I’ve seen an enthusiasm and a speed to back it up on so many projects that I think comes from the thrill of being part of something new. I think each creative team has, in ways, found their own ways to utilize the format and I think they’re all—and hopefully readers will be too—excited to see what they’re adding alongside the innovations others are creating!

After spending some time with Stela, I’m definitely excited to see what else will be coming out of this new company. And although I’ll always love paper comics and their format, I also like having quality content to easily read while on-the-go; and for that, it looks like Stela may be the mobile comics platform I didn’t even know I was waiting for.

Until next time, stay tuned for more info and teasers of upcoming content on Stela’s Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram … and Servo Lectio!

Weekend Window Closing Wrap-Up: February 9th, 2014

Closing them on my browser so you can open them on yours, a list of various things that I haven’t had time to write full posts about. Here we go again…

What else is out there? Consider this an open thread.


Dark Horse Comics has offered a first look at Conan The Barbarian #12, available in comic shops on January 16th.

Conan The Barbarian #12
Written by: Brian Wood.
Art by: Declan Shalvey.
Cover by: Massimo Carnevale.

Unable to obtain a cure for the deadly illness afflicting Belit and the crew of the Tigress, Conan feels the fear of loss for the first time. With no hope and a broken heart, the Cimmerian is horrified at how appealing he finds Belit’s order to abandon the ship and his queen! The haunting conclusion of “The Death”!
Conan The Barbarian #12 is 32 pages for $3.50.

Click on images for a larger view.

Conan Shines In New Dark Horse Series

Review by Joshua Pantalleresco
I eagerly awaited Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan on Conan.  I’ve been a big fan of Brian’s since he released Channel Zero way back in the mid nineties.  It was angry, rebellious and thoughtful.   Ever since, he has done a number of excellent books including Demo, Local, Northlanders and DMZ.    I’m happy to say so far Conan continues that trend.
This Conan series is a direct adaptation of the story Queen of the Black Coast and deals with Conan’s first serious romantic relationship with the character Belit.  The story begins with Conan’s retreat from the city of argos as he forces himself on board the trade ship Argus.  After a brief and abrupt negotiation, Conan finds himself acquiring passage. 
My favorite part of the story is Conan’s story about how he found himself running for his life.  You get a real glimpse with how he found himself running for his life.  Here is where you get a real good glimpse into Conan’s character and I think this in particular is where Brian Wood shines.  Conan’s run in with the law shows that while he is still young and very brash, yet you understand exactly where he is coming from with his actions. 
He quickly befriends the ships captain Titus who tells him about the dangerous and beautiful Belit, the fierce queen of the black coast who terrorizes trade ships with her cunning and ruthlessness aboard her ship the tigress.  Conan is enticed by the story as her description matches the stories of the winged goddesses of the north that as a youth he dreamed about.
Finding themselves in her waters, and unable to go back to Argos because of Conan, they press on.  Shortly thereafter Belit enters the book right at the end with her and Conan looking eye to eye.
Issue two is the battle between the Argus and the Tigress.  Another great little touch in this book is Conan firing arrow after arrow into the Tigress’ crew as the ship approaches.  He has the opportunity to perhaps hit Belit and waivers.  He says crom as he fires.  Did he want to miss?  Or was he regretful that he was about to kill her? 
The battle intensifies and Conan witnesses the death of Titus and vows to go down swinging.  He becomes an angel of death and proceeds to cut down anything in his path.  In the end it’s Conan facing down the whole crew by himself.  That fight is interrupted by Belit, who views Conan in much the same way he does her; a myth made real.  She makes an offer that catches him completely by surprise and ends the second issue right there.
This review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Becky Cloonan.  Her Conan is devious, young and clever.  Her Conan isn’t the muscular Arnold Schwarzenegger type.  He looks like a lean and capable warrior, which is probably a lot more realistic.  And she nails the character perfectly.  Those splash pages on page two and three of issue one is perfect.  My other favorite conan is him standing definitely aboard the tigress just daring them to come at him, outnumbered and outgunned.  She gets Conan and manages to mix honor and brashness into his demeanor. 
Belit is beautiful, bold and clever.  Page 1 she looks absolutely fierce and as defiant as Conan is later in the issue.  She hasn’t been featured in the book as much as Conan as of yet but I know that will change from here on out.     When she has been on screen she has been able to captivate the pages she has graced herself into.  All in all, you have two very strong and clearly defined characters.  It’s a strong start and worth a read.
Issue three is out now.  I suggest you go and pick it up along with the first two issues.  You won’t be disappointed.  I can’t recommend this book enough. 


Cover Art: Becky Cloonan
Cover Art: Massimo Carnevale

Conan The Barbarian returns to comics on February 8th, 2012 as he faces off against the Queen of the Black Coast at Dark Horse Comics.

In this sweeping adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s fan-favorite “Queen of the Black Coast,” Conan turns his back on the civilized world and takes to the high seas alongside the pirate queen Bêlit, setting the stage for an epic of romance, terror, and swashbuckling. This is Conan as you’ve never seen him, with the combination of one of Robert E. Howard’s greatest tales and the most dynamic creative team in comics!

Conan The Barbarian #1 is written by Brian Wood with art and cover by Becky Cloonan, and colors by Dave Stewart. Also included is a cover by Massimo Carnevale.

Conan The Barbarian #1 is 32 pages of exciting pulp adventure for $3.50.

Cover Art: Becky Cloonan

o A perfect jumping-on point for new readers!
o A bold, fresh take on the Cimmerian.
o “Queen of the Black Coast” is the most-requested Conan adaptation!

For more information on Conan and Dark Horse Comics, visit http://www.darkhorse.com/.

Click on images for a larger view.



This February, writer Brian Wood and artist Becky Cloonan bring Conan The Barbarian back to comic chops as they adapt Robert E. Howard’s fan-favorite “Queen of the Black Coast.”

Conan has turned his back on the civilized world and takes to the high seas alongside the pirate queen Bêlit, setting the stage for an epic of romance, terror, and swashbuckling. This is Conan as you’ve never seen him, with the combination of one of Robert E. Howard’s greatest tales and the most dynamic creative team in comics.

Conan The Barbarian: “Queen of the Black Coast”
Brian Wood (Writer)

Becky Cloonan (Art/Variant cover)
Dave Stewart (Color)
Massimo Carnevale (Cover)
Full Color
32 pages
On sale February 8

For more information on Conan and Dark Horse Comics, visit http://www.darkhorse.com/.

New Conan Creative Team Adapts Robert E. Howard’s "Queen of the Black Coast"

Conan Art: Becky Cloonan

At this weekend’s New York Comic Con, Dark Horse Comics announced a new Conan the Barbarian comic book series by the DEMO creative team of writer Brian Wood and artist Becky Cloonan that will be in stores beginning on February 8, 2012.

The first story arc will adapt Robert E. Howard’s “Queen of the Black Coast,” in which Conan turns his back on the civilized world and takes to the high seas alongside the pirate queen Belit.

For more information on Conan and Dark Horse Comics other pulpy offerings, visit them at http://www.darkhorse.com/.

New Vertigo Blog

New Vertigo Blog

Vertigo junkies will be happy to know a group of the DC imprint’s creators have joined together — not unlike Voltron — on a blog.

Standard Attrition is the new blogging home for Jason Aaron, Brian Wood, G. Willow Wilson, Jock, Cliff Chiang, David Lapham and Brian Azzarello.

So far, the site has mostly just news on the group’s individual projects and media appearances. There’s also some news about what they’ll be doing at San Diego this coming week.

If you’re curious, that’s the cover to Wilson’s Air, which debuts from Vertigo next month.

(via The Beat)

Review: ‘Demo’ by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan

It seems every month that a new comic comes out purporting to offer a new, more realistic slant on superheroes. From Watchmen to Next Men to Powers to Kick Ass, that idea has long been a popular one.

Except, none of those comics feel very real. Sure, they take elements from reality and offer a slightly more grounded or cynical look at heroes, but the stories within their pages don’t begin to evoke everyday life.

And this is why Demo stands so far apart. The on-again, off-again series from writer Brian Wood and artist Becky Cloonan is finally concluded, and all 12 issues are now collected in a substantive new softcover (Vertigo, $19.99).

Begun in 2003 with a first issue featuring a girl struggling to handle her newfound telekinesis, the series was always about the people in the stories, not the abilities that set them apart. That first issue is rich with metaphor: the girl learns how to break away from home, become independent and not get in the way of her potential. Valuable lessons for anyone.

One of the strongest issues (#5), follows a girl who physically changes in appearance to match the desires of the people who see her. She could be a kooky X-Man, but Wood instead uses the strange ability to explore perception and desire, and the line between love and lust.

While the material is well worth reading on its own, one of the subtexts to watch is the continued development of Wood and Cloonan. You can trace their growth as creators along with the issues, and in the end the series is something entirely new again, not really touching on superpowers at all.

Cloonan’s work is exceptional, bouncing between styles from issue to issue. It’s hard to believe one person was responsible for such a disparate collection of art.

And while Demo features almost entirely young, hip characters — Wood’s bread and butter — he writes their interactions with as much grace as any writer in comics. There is a deep, haunting truth to these stories, so realistic it almost hurts.

Van Jensen is a former crime reporter turned comic book journalist. Every Wednesday, he braves Atlanta traffic to visit Oxford Comics, where he reads a whole mess of books for his weekly reviews. Van’s blog can be found at graphicfiction.wordpress.com.

Publishers who would like their books to be reviewed at ComicMix should contact ComicMix through the usual channels or email Van Jensen directly at van (dot) jensen (at) gmail (dot) com.