Up in the corner of every IDW cover, the corporate brand image has been temporarily modified to help celebrate the company’s (impressive) 20 years in business. The iconic IDW lightbulb icon implies a level of creativity and fresh ideas. And their new comic Mountainhead lives up to that – it’s fresh, different and gripping.
This series starts out telling the story of the Stubbs family – a father and son team who are always on the run and living off the grid. They break into houses and burglarize them. It’s not quite as straightforward as all that, though. One key tenet of their modus operandi is to not get sucked into the never-ending messaging of our consumer-focused society. The father reminds the son, Abraham, during a break-in, that “it’s all just stuff”. Additionally, the father reinforces the concept of not defining oneself by one’s possessions. That’s a great message, but when Abraham comes a across an electric guitar, the reader can see it gets more difficult to hang onto these highfalutin ideals.
For long-time comic readers, Summer also means Annuals. Clearly, they are no longer confined to only summer. The Star Wars Adventures Annual is full of all-ages adventures and is published by IDW. I love this idea and as a mature reader (i.e. older) I can both appreciate them… and then enjoy passing them along to younger readers. (I should use the hashtag #LetTheBrainwashingBegin).
Stan Sakai provides such a delightful cover that you might want to keep it in your collection. Oh, and look out for that other Star Wars character everyone loves to hate (I think he’s number 2 after Jar-Jar), Jaxxon the big green bunny.
It seems like yesterday to me when Marvel’s original Star Wars wrapped up, and the next story arc featured Han and Chewie on a Magnificent Seven-esque quest with various characters, including Jaxxon. He didn’t seem so bad back then, but, hey, what did we know?
I’m a sucker for travel posters, especially at the end of summer. In spring I always plan more summer trips than we can possibly fit in. Around the time when Kohl’s and Target’s back-to-school ads start showing up, I get that “we didn’t do enough” pang of regret.
That’s probably while I was drawn to IDW’s Star Trek: Year Five variant cover by artist J.J. Lendel. It’s brilliantly executed and evocative of one of those classic travel posters.
This Star Trek series tells the story of the original crew’s missions during the “unchronicled” final year of the original mission. This issue brings back some favorite characters, and that’s always half the fun with revisiting TOS, isn’t it?
NASA’s latest Mars lander, InSight, successfully touched down on the surface of the Red Planet this afternoon, surviving an intense plunge through the Martian atmosphere.
What you may not know is that Insight Studios, run by Mark Wheatley and Marc Hempel, got to Mars back in 1983 with First Comics, edited by Mike Gold. The entire series was collected in a trade paperback by IDW in 2005.
Real life imitates comics again! And congratulations to everyone at NASA!
Comics creator Thom Zahler is known for his entertaining and insightful romantic and relationship comics, particularly Love and Capes, a superhero romance that starts with Superman-adjacent hero The Crusader deciding to tell his non-superpowered girlfriend the truth about his dual identities; and Long Distance, a tale about a couple who meet in an airport and have to figure out how to successfully have, you guessed it, a long distance relationship. Both books contain a healthy serving of shrewd commentary on human interactions and romance, but don’t sacrifice the fun of humor or pop culture references to the need for drama.
I appreciate these stories not only in themselves, but also because sometimes the medium of comics as a whole seems to be overshadowed by the all-encompassing, never-ending, and dramatically violent superhero stories of the Big Two, Marvel and DC. Don’t get me wrong – I love me some good superhero comics and action – but sometimes I think people forget there’s anything else. We need creators like Thom to remind us.
And now, here he is doing that again, with IDW’s Time & Vine, his latest creator-owned foray into the examination of human relationships – and this time in a setting I really wish I lived in. Why? Because the nexus of Time & Vine is a historic winery that contains a wine cellar full of very, very special bottles of wine – namely wine that, when consumed, transports the drinkers back to the time in which it was bottled. Seriously. A cool old place full of wine and time travel! Who wouldn’t want to live there?? (Other neat details I love from this fifteen-page issue #1 preview include the mysterious fashion magic of the winery, which changes the clothes and hairstyles of the time-travelers to those they would have chosen if they lived in the time they traveled to – but keeps the clothing colors the same. And also the OSHA reference. Because who doesn’t love a good OSHA reference?)
The core characters who people this amazing setting are Jack, the older gentleman who owns the winery and knows how it operates, and Megan, a young history teacher who is going through some tough family times and could use an exciting distraction. When Jack lets Megan in on the secret of the wine cellar, Adventures Ensue. We don’t know too much about those, as yet, but Thom has said this is a story about family – and given his previous work, I’m sure it will be interesting to see the characters’ interactions unfold. I know I’ll be super excited to drink in more of this story, and can’t wait to consume the whole thing!
Thom and I have known each other for years now, and I’ve enjoyed his comics for some time, so it was fun to finally do a one-on-one with him about his work. Here’s our nifty Q&A:
ESW: Where did you start when crafting this tale – with the setting, the human story you wanted to tell, or both?
TZ: A lot of it came as a result of talking with Kurt Busiek on Twitter. There was some joke about doing a comic about a winery and then the idea of a winery as a gateway to time travel just appeared to me. The human story was my starting point and that came pretty quickly, or at least I thought it did. Once I got into it, I realized Megan’s story needed some work and that went in a completely different direction than I expected. But the framework of the story, and the heart of it, remained the same. I had the structure for the arc and the time travel mechanics worked out quickly. I always knew it was going to be in New York, but I did have to research those specifics to see how the wine industry worked across the years.
ESW: As your latest creator-owned series, Time & Vine seems to both stick with a dynamic you are known for – i.e. the human interactions being the focus, but housed within a fun premise or setting – and be at variance with Love and Capes and Long Distance, where the two main characters were also the romantic leads. From the preview, it seems clear that Jack and Megan quickly establish a mentor/mentee or father/daughter-style dynamic. But are we going to see them having romantic adventures of their own within the story? Or is the focus more on family as a whole? What inspired that angle?
TZ: Megan and Jack are definitely a mentor/mentee dynamic. I wanted to write a book that focused on a relationship that wasn’t a romance this time. It’s much more about family: the ones we have and the ones we choose. I try to do something different each time with each story. Love and Capes was about a relationship going to the next level. Long Distance was about one starting out in a way that Love and Capes wasn’t.
Jack’s romance is the engine that drives the book. We’re going to see the history of his relationship play out non-linearly as they bounce through time. It’s very much the tree that the rest of the story hangs off of. As for Megan, let’s just say she meets at least one interesting person along the way.
ESW: In your past and present work, do you see a trajectory in your view of relationships and how to write or portray them? How do you think your past writing or personal experiences have influenced this work? And what tips would you share with creators who want to do what you do?
TZ: I don’t know about a trajectory, but I try to make sure I have a range. I don’t want to keep telling the same story over and over. So I try to focus on different types of relationships and different aspects of them. I worry that, if I’m not careful, I’ll write the same couple with different names in different stories. Jack’s love is a very different love and experience than I’ve written before.
My personal relationships definitely influence my writing. They can’t not. You write what you know and what you’ve experienced, either from borrowing from what’s happened or writing what you thought could or should have happened.
ESW: The preview is definitely, recognizably, your artistic style – but are there visual things you did differently or tried out in this story that we haven’t seen before?
TZ: Very much so! First is that I’ve brought on Luigi Anderson as the colorist for this project. It means I’m not doing colors or tones for the first time, and that’s very different for me. Luigi is bringing a style and a look that I’m not capable of, and it’s creating something very dynamic. I’ve loved the collaboration and what he’s doing with the pages.
As far as my style, I always try to tweak my style a little bit on each project to better suit it. Long Distance had an Archie level of cartooning to it, and Love and Capes was even more stylized. Here, I wanted something a trifle more realistic. It’s still cartoony, hopefully in the best Darwyn Cooke sense of the word, but the world is a little more straightforward than other work I’ve done.
ESW: Are there challenges or benefits to being both writer and artist on a book?
TZ: The thing I watch out for is writing easy scenes to draw. I’m always on the lookout for that cheat. I write the story that needs to be told and then I draw it. I don’t want to take shortcuts. There are times where artist me hates writer me, but when that happens, I know I’m writing the best product.
I do enjoy doing both. I’m not the artist to draw every book I write, but when I feel I am, there’s a synergy that’s hard to achieve otherwise. It’s streamlined, since I know exactly what I mean when I tell me I want to do something. It can make those things go really smoothly. And, if I do it right, there’s a purity to the end product that you don’t get in most collaborations.
ESW: What do you hope readers most enjoy or take away from Time & Vine?
TZ: That wine is awesome!
First, I hope they have a good time. I want to tell a story that people enjoy and that sticks with them in some way. I’ve been lucky enough that my past projects have done that, and that’s always heartwarming.
But this story is about the breadth of relationships, the choices we make and the time we have. If it makes someone take a second look at something they’ve done, or appreciate something in their lives in a new light, just for a moment, I’ll have done my job.
ESW: Anything else you’d like to tell us about this book or your future work?
TZ: Just a thank you, to the readers who read my work and to IDW for publishing it. I have a loyal core of readers who appreciate what I’ve done these last few years. Together, they have allowed me to tell these personal stories in a venue I otherwise would not have had. I hope I’m doing something worthwhile, and I couldn’t do it without them.
I have another new project that will be starting really soon, but that hasn’t been announced yet. When it is, I’ll be sure to let you know!
ESW: Super! Thanks, Thom, for your time and great answers!
If you want to know more about the process behind the story, Thom has also been posting about his inspirations in several blog entries on his website. And if you want to order Time & Vine from your local shop, you can get issue #1, due out July 5 with a cover price of $4.99 for 48 pages, by using Diamond code MAY17 0517 (or MAY17 0518 for the alternate cover, also by Thom).
And now, you can also see both covers for Issue #2 right here! In this issue, I’m told, Jack starts teaching Megan the rules of time travel, while winery employee Darren teaches her all about the winery. And Megan takes her first solo trip back in time to the ‘80s, where she discovers a startling family secret!
Here are the cool Issue #2 covers, both by Thom:
So get ready to check out Thom Zahler’s Time & Vine by pre-ordering now (possibly with a glass of wine in hand just to, ya know, get in the mood), and until next time, Servo Lectio!
Eaglemoss, a UK based fan-facing company, is best known for creating detailed replicas of Batmobiles, miniature starships from various incarnations of Star Trek and figurines from the mythologies of Marvel, DC Comics and the Walking Dead. They are all of high quality and lovingly rendered.
Each figure or vehicle they sell comes with a booklet developed by experts in each fan-focused field. So when you buy the miniature replica of the Flying Batcave (if you don’t know what this is you really need to find out fast!) you’ll also get a thorough, yet concise, history of the Flying Batcave.
Given the premium quality of these booklets, it makes sense that Eaglemoss would also be a mindful and creative publisher.
Their new Star Trek Graphic Novel Collection is premium quality in spades. Produced with IDW, this is the type of project (I almost typed the word ‘enterprise’ instead of ‘project’) that both long-time fans and casual collectors will respect and enjoy. Its a regularly published collection of hardcover Star Trek comics. But there’s an interesting wrinkle to it all.
Eaglemoss encourages fans to order the first volume at a discounted price: $4.95. Then fans can sign up for an ongoing program, as each month two more volumes are sent to their home. It costs about twenty bucks each month. (The monthly fee is $14.95 and shipping is $2.45 for each book.) If fans continue in the program, they will receive special gifts. But they make it easy so that fans can cancel at anytime.
It’s nice to get our reading delivered on a monthly schedule. Longtime comic fans understand the gleeful attraction of episodic storytelling. Modern fans might prefer reading trade paperback collections and binge watching entire seasons of TV shows. They may be less inclined to enjoy twice-a-month reading engagements. But It is interesting to note that there is a whole new type of fan who’s enjoying regular, episodic fiction. In fact, The New York Times ran a story on this very topic last week.
These are the voyages…
Each Eagelmoss hardcover showcases one long story from assembles several issues of various Star Trek comic incarnations. The first volumes seem to hop and skip amongst the many different Star Trek series; a little original series here, a little TNG there.
Of course, the success of each volume hinges on the stories chosen. IDW and Eaglemoss seem to be choosing wisely, selecting innovative stories by strong creators with good tales to tell.
For a fussy fan like me, it’s really important that the art is up to snuff. I have high standards for comic art. On a licensed property like Star Trek where the likenesses must be spot-on, it’s especially important.
Each volume is a hardcover book with glossy pages and meaty introductions. There’s a heft and an importance to it all.
Star Trek has been published by many comic publishers over the years. For this graphic novel reprint series, Eaglemoss is launching the series by showcasing IDW comics. In the near future, I’m really looking forward enjoying some early DC stories in this slick format. I’m also looking forward like to those Captain Pike adventures from Marvel’s “Paramount Comics” imprint. I missed them the first time around.
Comic on the Edge of Forever
The second Eaglemoss volume reprints IDW’s recent City on The Edge of Forever mini-series. It was a fantastic story that could only be told in Star Trek comics.
As you may know, one of the best-loved episodes of the original Star Trek series was Harlan Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever. But the televised version differed significantly from the teleplay that Ellison originally wrote. For almost 50 years, fans wondered “What if the television episode had been filmed as Ellison originally conceived it?”
The IDW team decided to do just that. They created a Star Trek series based on the original screenplay. The painted artwork by JK Woodward captured the actors’ 1960s likenesses with an urgent dynamism.
“Doing Harlan’s original City on the Edgeof Forever teleplay as a comic will forever be a highlight of anything I do in comics,” said IDW’s Chris Ryall, CCO and Editor-in-Chief. “Seeing Harlan get choked up, finally seeing his story come to visual life as he intended only made it sweeter, but this was one of those special projects, where all the talent involved, from Harlan on down to Scott and David Tipton adapting it and JK Woodward doing the best work of his career on those painted pages… all of that just made this something far beyond a typical licensed comic. I’m thrilled with the events that led up to this finally being able to happen after a half-century of it not even being a remote possibility and I’m even more happy with the finished book.”
The Just Dessert
At the end of each volume is a reprint from sixties Gold Key comics. They are essentially a back-up story, and each one brings so much to the party. It is kind of like when you’re in a restaurant devouring a dessert that you didn’t plan on ordering, but are so glad you did.
Starting in 1967, Gold Key was the first comics publisher to create Star Trek comics. It was so early on in the process, that it’s clear that they didn’t do their homework. They really weren’t familiar with the Star Trek TV show. Legend has it that when it all started, the writer and artist had not even watched a single episode. They based the comics on reference sheets supplied by the network.
But you know what? Each story is a joy to behold.
Dick Wood was the writer. He worked on so many comics over the years, from the Plastic Man to the golden age Daredevil to The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Today, he is often remembered for his “unique” interjections, and he doesn’t disappoint in these Star Trek stories. In these adventures, you’ll find the Enterprise crew exclaiming:
Suffering Solar Showers!
Great Novas! (which is often stuttered as “Gr-Great Novas!”)
Was he purposefully trying to make list of “Things Star Trek characters would never really say”? We may never know the truth.
The vintage reprints also reinforce one important idea: Star Trek was very different from anything else on TV at that time. One can presume that Gold Key management said, “Oh, another one of those rocket ship shows. All we need is few laser guns, a space monster and we’re off the races.” It’s fascinating to see how these stories presume what they thought Star Trek would be in contrast to what it became.
These daft tales offer no continuity or consistency. On the other hand, each story can be enjoyed all on its own. For hardcore Star Trek fans, it’s a rare glimpse backward to understand what the general public thought of science fiction adventures before the innovative conventions of Star Trek become standard conventions.
And because they are so wacky, it’s nice that each volume of this Eaglemoss/IDW series reprints just one Gold Key story. I worry that reading more than one of these Gold Key stories at one time would cause fans brains to melt.
Way back when, coming attractions for TV shows were a thing. “Next week on…” was marketing hype that we’d eagerly gobble up. Star Trek’s original series routinely ended with just such a teaser, so it’s fitting that each volume in this graphic novel collection has a coming attractions page. These pages are fun, appropriate and gets readers to anticipating exactly which version of Trek will be featured in the new volume.
• • • • •
For more information on this, you can check it out here. And if you also get that Flying Batcave, let me know how you like it.
While we were off school for MLK Jr. Day, we decided to spend some time honoring the incredible Congressman John Lewis and his March graphic novel trilogy with a review of the first book & rebuke to some decidedly unpresidental tweets
I am reminded of a story my father told me. What story, I’ll get to that shortly. First I’ve got to tell you about another story.
That other story is “Sleepwalker” from Tales From the Darkside# 1. For those of you who, unlike me, aren’t as old as Pangean dirt, there was a syndicated TV show of that same name combined back when Hector was a pup, and I was in my 30s. A half-hour anthology show featuring horror, science-fiction, and fantasy stories that usually climaxed with a twist ending. The show wasn’t bad, but I had a problem with it. I was raised on The Twilight Zone and EC comics. I cut my teeth on twist endings. For me the endings of Tales From the Darkside had as much twist as a pretzel rod.
Joe Hill, a fantasist with a pedigree, both a literary pedigree and a literal pedigree, tried to revive the series for the CW. The series didn’t make in onto TV, but Hill is adapting four of the scripts he wrote for the show into a comic-book series of the same name. And that first issue is the other story I’m telling you about first.
Ziggy was a recent high-school graduate who was working as a lifeguard at a municipal swimming pool on Brody Island. His lawyer mother was out-of-town on business, so he stayed out partying all night then went to his lifeguard job during the day. As bad ideas go, this wasn’t like texting and driving. This was more like typesetting a magazine article complete with multiple fonts and drop caps while driving.
The sleep-deprived Ziggy fell asleep on duty and Ellen Miller died.
Only she didn’t drown. Leastwise, I don’t think she did.
Neither did the coroner. He testified during some courtroom proceeding Ziggy called a trial that Ellen had a weakness in the wall of her heart and Ziggy he probably couldn’t have saved Ellen’s life even if he had “gotten to her in time.” According to Ziggy, the hearing ended in less than an hour with the judge telling Ziggy that he shouldn’t blame himself.
That’s when I went tilt. The story called the proceeding both a hearing and a trial. My brain, with it’s mind trained to think like a lawyer even though none of my law school professors looked even remotely like John Houseman wanted to know. Was it a hearing or a trial?
The proceeding happened so quickly that Ziggy’s mother had to cut her business trip short. That’s not enough time between event and proceeding for it to have been a full trial. Trials take time to mount. Even on small islands with small populations, trials for negligent homicide don’t generally come to court for weeks or months. So let’s take trial off the table. Ziggy, the narrator of the story, probably didn’t know the difference between a trial and a hearing and misspoke, or mis-first-person-narrative-captioned, when he called it a trial. Hearing it is.
Except there appeared to be a jury in what appeared to be the jury box and you don’t have juries in hearings. Only, was it a jury box? The group of people were seated in what looked like a standard jury rig, except for the fact that it was on the other side of the room from the witness stand. The judge’s bench separated the witness stand from the jury box. In every courtroom I’ve been in, the jury box is right next to the witness stand, the better to hear the witnesses with.
So, let’s assume this wasn’t a jury box because it wasn’t where a jury box was supposed to be. Maybe it was an auxiliary seating area for the spectators. Boy there must not be a lot to do on Brody’s Island other than that swimming pool, if the local courthouse routinely gets so many spectators it needs overflow seating. Okay, no jury box means that wasn’t a jury and the proceeding wasn’t a trial. It was a hearing.
But what kind of a hearing? The coroner testified. Could it have been a coroner’s inquest? Not likely. First, coroner’s inquests might be all the rage over in England, when they’re not too busy having their Brexit, lunch and dinner, but they’re aren’t as common in the United States. Moreover, a coroner generally presides over a coroner’s inquest, not a judge. Our hearing definitely had a judge.
I’m guessing it was a preliminary hearing, in which the judge heard some witnesses and determined whether there was enough probable cause to bind Ziggy over for trial. That would be in a courtroom and presided over by a judge. And it only last an hour after the judge heard the coroner testify that Ellen died from a weakness in the wall of her heart, like a ruptured aortic aneurysm, and Ziggy couldn’t have done anything to save her life. Even a tough-on-crime judge would have to find no probable cause after the coroner testified the defendant didn’t kill the victim.
I was almost satisfied. The only question I still had was this: What was Ziggy doing in the witness stand? The prosecution couldn’t call Ziggy to the witness stand. I don’t know what state Brody Island is in, but I don’t need to. All 50 of them recognize the 5th Amendment and its right against self-incrimination. So the State didn’t call Ziggy.
Did he testify on his own behalf? At a trial, maybe. Sometimes defendants testify in order to present a defense with the best possible evidence. But not at a pre-trial hearing. When all that’s happening is the judge hearing the state’s case to determine whether there’s probable cause, no “high-powered lawyer” is going to let the defendant testify. There’s a greater percentage of impurities in Ivory Soap, than there is of allowing a defendant to testify in a preliminary hearing.
I have a theory why Ziggy was in the witness stand. The story was about Ziggy being sleep deprived and sleepwalking through life. Maybe Ziggy sleepwalked into the courtroom and sat in the witness stand by accident. No one moved him because you’re not supposed to wake a sleepwalker.
Okay, it’s not a great theory. But it’s still a hell of a lot better than believing that a defense attorney let the defendant testify at a preliminary hearing.
So after studying the contextual clues of the story, I’ve determined that the proceeding shown in Tales From the Darkside # 1 was a preliminary probable cause hearing.
Now here’s the story my father told me that I was reminded of. When he was in college, my father took a course on Shakespeare. One day the professor came into class with the biggest, broadest cat-that-swallowed-the-canary smile imaginable on his face. The cat didn’t just eat the canary. It had canary cordon bleu, asparagus with hollandaise sauce, and La Bonnotte potatoes; washed it down with a bottle of Chateau Lafite, and got double points for the whole meal on his cash-back rewards card. The elated professor announced that after thirty years of close and intensive study of Hamlet’s text as well as the language, idioms, and word usage of Elizabethan England, he had concluded that, yes, Hamlet had definitely slept with Ophelia.
My father asked one simple question, “And that changes the play, how?”
The professor deflated quicker than a Macy’s balloon after a close encounter of the AK-47 kind.
I was reminded of that story, when I realized that my studying contextual clues to determine Ziggy was in a preliminary hearing didn’t change the story, either. But at least I didn’t spend thirty years determining the answer. Or even thirty minutes. And, unlike Ziggy, I didn’t lose any sleep over my problem.
At WonderCon, Anya got the chance to sit down with the cast and crew of the SyFy channel’s newest show, Wynonna Earp. Based on the Wynonna Earp comics by Beau Smith, the show follows Wyatt Earp’s great great granddaughter as she carries on the burden family curse…and also gets to kill evil things.
The show is a bit different from the comics as Wynonna is younger and just gaining her powers. There is also a sister dynamic that has been explained as a little like Frozen meets Buffy The Vampire Slayer meets X-Files.
In this first set of interviews, Anya talks to Michael Eklund (who plays the show’s baddie), Tim Rozon (Doc Holliday), and Dominique Provost-Chalkley (Wynonna’s little sister, Waverly).
One of the coolest things about this interview just might be how much of a comic nerd Tim Rozon turns out to be!
In parts 2 & 3 of the interview Anya will be talking to show runner Emily Andras, comic creator Beau Smith, and stars Melanie Scrofano and Shamier Anderson….so make sure to come back to watch those.
Wynonna Earp airs on SyFy on Fridays at 10pm. It’s also on CHCH in Canada. The show started on April 1st, so quickly….go catch up. It’s a 13 episode series, so you have time!
Last weekend, we attended the Long Beach Comic Con. Yeah, it was pretty amazing. We met John Barrowman and Baby from The Hillywood Show Supernatural parody. Yeah we fangirled! Here’s a recap of the con with interviews from some great comic creators like Barbara Dillon from Fanboy Comics (Penguins Vs. Possums), Sara Banning (Find Kelley Green), and D.J. Kirkbride (Amelia Cole and the Unknown World). We also talk to the owner of The Beee Hive about her super cool Marvel themed jewelry and show you Cosplay Corner (lots of Deadpools, as always).