OK, first of all I probably should say that I’m not a “cat person.” There is one in my house, and I guess I tolerate cats more than I would dogs (slobbery little monsters), but I’m not all that fond of dumb animals in general.
So I am in retrospect not the right reader for Manfried Saves the Day, a graphic novel by Caitlin Major (writer and colorist, copyright owner) and Kelly Bastow (artist) about a world where…(breathless) Get this! Anthropomorphic cats have a whole society just like our own! And they keep cute little naked “men” as pets! “Men” are just like cats! (Except they only come in one gender, and that’s the gender that the creators are not, curiously.)
This is a sequel to Manfried the Man, which I have not read. The general rule is that the first book is better, and I have no reason to doubt that would be the case here, too. Maybe that book was more random-gag focused, or had a less cliched story. Anyway, if you like the idea of talking cats keeping tiny nonverbal humans as pets, try the first book.
Saves the Day has a plot so cliched that I kept expecting it to be subverted — literally, every page I was thinking up other ways for it to go, and anticipating which of the twists Major would decide to take — but I’m here to tell you that it ends up going exactly the way it looks like it will, roaring straight through all of the signposted events like a movie for particularly dull children before ending in a way Scooby-Doo would have sent back to the drawing board for a touch more nuance.
You see, there is a man shelter. And there is a mean landlord who wants to get rid of the man shelter to do mean-landlord things to it. And there is our hero, Steve, who has a demanding job and a girlfriend who is somehow even more demanding in ways that the creators don’t seem to realize are not fair at all to Steve. That girlfriend, Henrietta, runs the man shelter, and is Ahab-level obsessive about it, though again Major is on Henrietta’s side. And, inevitably, the only way to save the man shelter will be to win the annual Man Show, against (obviously) the highly-trained men of the mean landlord, who additionally will cheat in really obvious ways.
Can the scruffy underdogs beat the privileged jerks?  What do you think?
Since the actual plot of Saves the Day is annoying, predictable in its every straightforward second, and relies on Henrietta putting pressure on Steve in ways no one should tolerate, any pleasures of this book will rely on how much the reader enjoys seeing a little man-creature doing “adorable” cat behaviors.
See my first paragraph for context.
I did not enjoy this book. I think I only finished it because I did think Major couldn’t possibly be writing the completely straight version of this story (and was wrong about that) and because it’s short with lots of bright pretty pictures on every page. I do not recommend it for anyone with reading tastes anywhere near mine.
Austin, TX — Alamo Drafthouse is excited to announce The Press Room Collection, a new and ongoing collection of prints and other unique items created from Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s one-of-a-kind collection of over 60,000 original letterpress plates used for newspaper movie ads from 1930s to the 1980s. The collection launches today at ThePressRoom.bar with an array of items, including a limited-edition poster curated and autographed by Wu-Tang Clan mastermind and kung-fu disciple RZA.
“Kung fu has been called ‘the cinema of vengeance,’ but it was also built on stories of self-reliance, characters finding the strength to overcome impossible odds to carve out their place in society. This theme spoke to audiences worldwide and carried martial arts films into the ‘70s spotlight.
The movies I’ve selected for this print barely scratch the surface of the dynamic and insanely vast world of kung fu, a genre that has become as ingrained in global film, television, music and culture in general as any other. In my new film CUT THROAT CITY, I’ve incorporated that spirit of brotherhood and unique displays of action into my frames. My lead character “Blink,” a comic artist, has drawn his inspiration from the martial arts genre and mixed it with an urban western sensibility to create his world.
I hope these prints inspire the receiver to create something of their own. They’re also simply cool to look at. Enjoy.”
Making the RZA Kung Fu Ad Block Poster
Besides the poster curated by RZA, The Press Room Collection’s initial run of collectibles includes t-shirts, double-sided puzzles (one side original metal plates, one side letterpress print), truly distinctive wrapping paper, die-cut coasters, and a killer shower curtain, all celebrating cinematic culture. In addition, each purchase from The Press Room Collection through September 8th will receive a free Alamo On Demand rental of PRESSING ON: THE LETTERPRESS FILM, the acclaimed 2017 documentary about the 500-year-old printing process’ improbable survival in the digital age.
“This one-of-a-kind archive of cinema art chronicles the complete history of film promotion from the 30s to the 80s,” says Alamo Drafthouse founder and Executive Chairman, Tim League. “Digging into the different styles from decade to decade and genre to genre, you build a mosaic of cinema history, as well as a narrative of graphic design. We are extremely excited to share this Hollywood time capsule with our guests.”
Today’s launch precedes the grand opening of The Press Room as a museum, letterpress print shop, bar, and event space set to be located at Alamo Drafthouse’s upcoming Lower Manhattan and Orlando locations.
The Press Room is the culmination of over three years of effort by League, who was inspired after watching director Adam Roffman’s short film THE COLLECTION at SXSW 2017. The film tells the story of Marilyn Wagner and DJ Ginsberg, two Omaha, Nebraska antique shoppers who stumble upon the mother lode of movie memorabilia collections – over 60,000 letterpress plates that span six decades of film history – from CASABLANCA and THE LONE RANGER to THE DARK CRYSTAL and 48 HRS. League acquired the collection last year and began work on the museum project.
THE PRESS ROOM COLLECTION
THE WEIRD WORLD OF LSD T-SHIRT- Slip into something a little more transdimensional with the psychedelicious all-cotton tee that rearranges reality. This psychoactive three-color image comes from an original ad block promoting the 1967 documentary that blew the lid off the acid racket during the “Summer of Love.” Put on, tune in, drop out.
SEIZURE T-SHIRT – Before he redefined ‘80s cinema with PLATOON and WALL STREET, Oliver Stone’s relentlessly eccentric inaugural feature revelled in ‘70s insanity. Now the pulse-pounding paranoia of SEIZURE has been captured from its original ad block on a stunning two-color tee, as the film’s three harbingers of doom creep towards you on a purple portal to the afterlife.
SECRET AGENT SUPER DRAGON T-SHIRT – Only four years after the release of the first James Bond film, countless budget-grade secret agents were bursting through the screens of every movie theater on earth. And now you can be as dashing, fearless, and irresistible as Italy’s answer to 007 in this stylish spy-ish two-color tee, transferred from the original 1966 printing block.
LIGHTNING SWORDS OF DEATH T-SHIRT – In the 1970s, kung fu films made the overdue leap from Asian cinemas to becoming a full-blown international phenomenon. Movie fans suddenly faced an insatiable hunger for daredevil stunts, hand-to-hand combat and antigravitational blades, all of which are on full display in the iconic LIGHTNING SWORDS OF DEATH, now transformed from the original printing block into a blazing four-color design.
DEVIL’S EXPRESS T-SHIRT – When kung fu cinema came triple-flip-kicking into the US, it found particularly strong support among black audiences in major cities. Some fans opted to enter the martial arts movie game themselves, one extra exciting example being mighty NYC resident Warhawk Tanzania, whose unmatched fighting skills and yellow overalls are stretched to the limit when he squares off against a 50,000-year-old subway demon. Capture the kung fu fury in this fearless three-color tee from the original 1976 printing block art.
THE GROOVE TUBE T-SHIRT – Yes. That’s right. Totally, it’s a gorilla with a TV head. But it’s also a battle cry of the no-rules lawlessness of ‘70s chaotic comedy, when taboo-smashing gutbusters like ANIMAL HOUSE and KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE knocked filmgoers through their seats. Proudly display your disdain for authority with this primal three-color attack on the galaxy’s funny bone.
MONSTERS & MOTORS PUZZLE – A skull-squeezing full-color array of vehicular monster-slaughter, showcasing the most untamed and inhuman creatures and/or vehicles from the ‘50s through the ‘80s, all reproduced from the original printing blocks. Spaceborne plant-beasts collide with custom ‘70s swinger vans! Flesh-ripping dinosaurs get cozy with toothless bikers! Plus, this is a two-sided puzzle, with the ad art on one side and a photo of the actual printing plates on the reverse, making your living room table twice as fascinating and a thousand times more fun.
Mad Scientist Test Tube Puzzle Set – 10 out of 9 mentally unstable scientists agree: This collection of four double-sided miniature masterpieces of maniacal movie malevolence are the supreme sci-fi strike against our species. Each 150-piece puzzle comes disassembled in its own clear test tube, showcasing classic science fiction film ad art from the original plates, with the reverse being a photo of the unique handmade press blocks themselves. This set features four puny-yet-powerful themed puzzles: SHRINK RAY, X-RAYS & OUTER SPACE, DOCTORS JEKYLL and SPACY INVADERS.
RZA SIGNED KUNG FU AD BLOCK POSTER – Fists of steel… Weapons of vengeance… Musician/filmmaker/kung fu cinema historian RZA of The Wu-Tang Clan presents a hand-picked collection of the finest and most furious martial arts ad plates, just in time to coincide with his new feature, CUT THROAT CITY. This hand-screened, three-color print will be available in a one-time numbered edition of 250, each signed by RZA himself.THE PRESS ROOM: MUSIC, MONSTERS & MOTORS WRAPPING PAPER SET – In this deluxe duo of exclusive wrapping paper rolls, the hills are alive… with the undead!
First, entomb your loved ones’ gifts in this skull-squeezing full-color array of vehicular monster-slaughter, showcasing the most untamed and inhuman creatures and/or vehicles from the ‘50s through the ‘80s, all reproduced from the original printing blocks. Spaceborne plant-beasts collide with custom ‘70s space vans! Flesh-ripping dinosaurs get cozy with two-wheeled warriors!
Then, not sure how to wrap that surprise for the Bavarian who has everything? Turn any present into the gift of song with this exclusive wrapping paper designed from a selection of original ad plates for THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Your heart will fill with melody and good-timey anti-Nazi sentiments as you unroll this 10’ x 26” sheet of art from the timeless musical.
THE PRESS ROOM COASTER COLLECTION 1.0 – Respect wood. Protect your coffee table. Make the bottom of your drinking glass the most exciting part of your life. The Press Room presents a sextet of delightful die-cut cinematic coasters hand-printed from the original handmade printing blocks on a genuine antique letterpress machine.
BLOOD BATH SHOWER CURTAIN – Turn every morning into the opening scene from PSYCHO with this bone-chilling addition to the scariest room in your house. The Press Room’s BLOOD BATH shower curtain is a carefully curated collection of classic — and not-so-classic — horror film ads, each aesthetically alive with the thrills of the undead. While you’re scrubbing up, Dracula’s creepin’ and Frankenstein’s peepin’, all reproduced in murderously fine detail from their original handmade printing blocks. BLOOD BATH is mold, mildew and soap resistant. Non-vinyl, non-PEVA, environmentally friendly, and made from heavyweight 140 gsm polyester. 12 metal guarded holes with hooks included.
About the letterpress collection
From the classic films of golden age Hollywood to intergalactic ‘80s battle epics, the incredible visual history of 20th century cinema quietly unfolded in daily newspapers across the country. The stunning advertising images scorched readers’ eyes with Action! Laughs! Kung fu! Romance! Werewolves! – but the unique letterpress plates used to physically print these ads were then discarded and lost to time… until now.
During a trip to Omaha, Nebraska in the summer of 2019, Alamo Drafthouse founder and Executive Chairman Tim Leagued discovered the unimaginable trove of letterpress plates that had laid in wait for decades. Over four days, tens of thousands of plates were sorted, packed and prepared for a journey to their new home where the Alamo Drafthouse team began the venture of figuring out what to do with them.
The answer is The Press Room Collection, which offers prints and other creations from this one-of-a-kind collection of these rare handmade blocks – over 60,000 original printing plates for films spanning the 1930s to the 1980s. The collection is the largest single archive of these irreplaceable artifacts of movie history, all kept alive by our dedicated master printer, hand-cranking an original 1940 Vandercook press to create distinctive collectible prints celebrating cinema culture.
For the first time in its 37-year history, the Rambo series is coming home as a complete SteelBook® set – with original art by some of today’s most celebrated illustrators! Rambo: The Complete SteelBook Collection arrives on 4K Ultra HDTM October 27 from Lionsgate. This definitive collector’s edition of the legendary series features five uniquely designed SteelBooks by celebrated artists Justin Erickson, Ken Taylor, Grzegorz Domaradzki, Vance Kelly, and John Guydo, housed in a custom SteelBook case. It’s a must-have for Rambo fans! Starring Academy Award® nominee Sylvester Stallone (1976, Best Screenplay/Best Actor, Rocky; 2015, Best Actor, Creed), the collection features all five action-packed Rambo films including First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rambo III, Rambo, and Rambo: Last Blood. Rambo: The Complete SteelBook Collection will be available on 4K Ultra HD™ for the suggested retail price of $119.99.
Since its debut nearly four decades ago, the Rambo series starring Sylvester Stallone has become one of the most iconic action-movie franchises of all time. An ex-Green Beret haunted by memories of Vietnam, Rambo has battled small-town prejudice, freed POWs, rescued his commanding officer from the Soviets, and liberated missionaries in Myanmar. In his final mission, Rambo’s vengeance is unleashed after an old friend’s granddaughter is kidnapped in Mexico.
4K SPECIAL FEATURES
Packed with Special Features from all five Rambo films, including Deleted Scenes, Exclusive Featurettes, Theatrical Trailers, Audio Commentaries, and more!
CAST First Blood
Sylvester Stallone Rocky franchise, Rambo franchise, Escape Plan franchise
Richard Crenna Rambo franchise, Judging Amy
Brian Dennehy Ratatouille, Silverado, The Blacklist
Bill McKinney Deliverance, Back to the Future Part III
Rambo: First Blood Part II
Sylvester Stallone Rocky franchise, Rambo franchise, Escape Plan franchise
Richard Crenna Rambo franchise, Judging Amy
Charles Napier The Silence of the Lambs, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Steven Berkoff A Clockwork Orange, Octopussy
Julia Nickson China Cry: A True Story, Noble House
Sylvester Stallone Rocky franchise, Rambo franchise, Escape Plan franchise
Richard Crenna Rambo franchise, Judging Amy
Marc de Jonge Empire of the Sun, Marie de Nazareth
Kurtwood Smith Robocop, That ’70s Show
Sylvester Stallone Rocky franchise, Rambo franchise, Escape Plan franchise
Julie Benz Dexter, Hawaii Five-0, and On Becoming a God in Central Florida
Matthew Marsden Black Hawk Down, Resident Evil: Extinction
Reynaldo Gallegos Logan, American Sniper
Written by Art Monterastelli and Sylvester Stallone, Directed by Sylvester Stallone
Rambo: Last Blood
Sylvester Stallone Rocky franchise, Rambo franchise, Escape Plan franchise
Paz Vega Spanglish, Sex and Lucia, The Spirit
Yvette Monreal Faking It and The Fosters
Adriana Barraza Babel, Drag Me to Hell, Thor
A groundbreaking, action-packed comic book adaptation gets the 4K Ultra HD™ treatment when Kick-Ass arrives on 4K Ultra HD™ Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray™ and Digital) November 3 from Lionsgate. From acclaimed director Matthew Vaughn, the film features an all-star cast including Golden Globe® winner Aaron Taylor-Johnson (2017, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, Nocturnal Animals), Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Oscar® winner Nicolas Cage (1995, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Leaving Las Vegas). Experience four times the resolution of full HD with the 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, with a brand new SteelBook® illustrated by Tracie Ching, in celebration of its 10th Anniversary. Available in this absolutely stunning format, the Kick-Ass 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack will include featurettes about the making of the film and its comic book origin, as well as an audio commentary by the director, and will be available for the suggested retail price of $24.99. Based on the comic book written by Mark Millar and John S. Romita Jr., screenplay by Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn, and directed by Matthew Vaughn.
A twisted, funny, high-octane action-adventure from director Matthew Vaughn (the Kingsman movies), Kick-Ass tells the story of a teenage fanboy (Aaron Johnson) who takes his comic book obsession as inspiration to become a real-life superhero. Costars Chloë Grace Moretz as Hit-Girl and Nicolas Cage as her father, Big Daddy.
4K ULTRA HD / BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
A New Kind of Superhero: The Making of Kick-Ass
It’s On! The Comic Book Origin of Kick-Ass
Audio Commentary by Director Matthew Vaughn
The Art of Kick-Ass Gallery (Blu-ray™ Only)
Aaron Taylor-Johnson Kick-Ass 2, Godzilla, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Nocturnal Animals
Christopher Mintz-Plasse Superbad, Kick-Ass 2, Trolls, How to Train Your Dragon
Mark Strong Kingsman: The Secret Service, 1917, Zero Dark Thirty
Chloë Grace Moretz Let Me In, Carrie, Kick-Ass 2, Suspiria, Hugo
and Nicolas Cage Leaving Las Vegas, Con Air, National Treasure franchise
Every reboot of Superman tries something different, striving to find a fresh approach to the material, and Superman: Man of Tomorrow is no different. This direct-to-video release, out now from Warner Home Entertainment, is intended as the opening chapter in a new continuity, a Rebirth, as it were, of the DC Animated Universe.
Other than the destruction of Krypton, baby Kal-El being raised by the Kents, and Clark (Darren Criss) arriving gin Metropolis as an adult, everything else is a modern take. Clark arrives as an intern with Lois Lane (Alexandra Daddario) just a grad student making her bones at the paper. Perry White (Piotr Michael) is there in all his bluster with Ron Troupe (Eugene Byrd) there for diversity and not a sign of Jimmy Olsen, Steve Lombard, or Cat Grant.
The story suggests Earth is aware of alien life and S.T.A.R. Labs, now owned by Lex Luthor (Zachary Quinto), is shown as being designed to hold and analyze extraterrestrials but it’s a mere breadcrumb for the future and is never addressed here. Instead, the focus is on Clark’s debut as the aviator-goggled flying man, doing good deeds, and starting to get noticed.
When a rocket prototype fails, he exposes himself to save humanity, and now everyone wants to know who he is. But, before much can be done about this, Lobo arrives. Now, the entire story grinds to halt as he announces he’s been hired to kill Kal-El, the sole survivor of Krypton. They fight, they talk, they battle, they partner. And at no point does anyone ask, “Who hired you? Why did they hire you? How’d you know he was on Earth?” The lack of curiosity, especially when major members of the cast are journalists is appalling.
Superman is aided by the Martian Manhunter (Ike Amadi), who has been badly shadowing our hero and finally reveals himself and has to deal with the consequences.
But, Lobo’s (Ryan Hurst) arrival accidentally turns Rudy Jones (Brett Dalton) into the Parasite, an entirely new origin for the villain., and making him a far more tragic, and deadly, figure. His threat prompts Superman to turn to Lex Luthor for help, which reveals Lex’s sinister side. But, it’s Superman’s humanity that shines through in the climax, showing why he is a hero and worth looking up to.
The story moves along briskly, with the action and destruction doled out every few minutes, with pauses to visit Smallville, including a touching scene with Martha (Bellamy Young) handing the familiar red and blue suit to her son. The budding relationships between Lois and Clark and Lois and Superman also are nicely handled.
Less well handled is the J’Onn J’Onzz and Kal-El scenes, which go for pathos but feels flat. That the story features three supposedly sole survivors of their races is a nice touch.
Visually, there’s a simplicity to the designs of the characters, set against a futuristic city that can be envisioned as city of tomorrow, a fitting home for our hero. Some of the Krypton designs owes much to the Richard Donner films while Lobo is clearly inspired by Simon Bisley interpretation of the character.
The new voice cast is fine, if unexceptional, a freshening without being radical with Darren Criss carrying much of the load.
Overall, as reboots go, this isn’t a bad one, with plenty of room to explore, especially with Batman already operating in Gotham, and alien life visiting Earth with increasing regularity. We’ll see what happens in the next installment, coming no doubt in 2021.
The movie is available in all the usual formats including the 4K Digital HD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD Code combo pack. In both 2160 and 1080 scans, the visuals are crisp and strong, retaining all the colors. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix is serviceable if unspectacular, which it doesn’t really need to be.
The Special Features are the standard assortment starting with Lobo: Natural Force of Chaos (10:23) where Screenwriter Tim Sheridan, artists Jon Bogdanove and Bernard Chang, DC Daily host Hector Navarro, and voice actor Ryan Hurst very briefly trace Lobo’s humble origins from a bounty hunter in 1983’s Omega Men to star of his own series and ubiquitous appearances through the 1990s and 2000s.
Martian Manhunter: Lost and Found (8:47) presents a similar assortment of talent talking about the themes of the Martian’s role in comparison with humanity. Lacking is the context of his comic book history.
A Sneak Peek at DC Universe’s Next Animated Movie (11:56) is a stylistically cheesy introduction to Batman: Soul of the Dragon, an animated homage the era’s kung-fu craze, featuring the Dark Knight along with Richard Dragon, Ben Turner (Bronze Tiger), Lady Shiva, and O-Sensei, who all stared in the Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter title written by the late, great Denny O’Neil.
From the DC Vault offers up Two episodes from Superman: The Animated Series – “The Main Man”, parts 1 and 2, which, of course, guest star Lobo.
Here’s the latest release regarding the annual Batman Day celebration. This year, though, comic shops appear to have been left out of the fun, just when they could use the foot traffic.
(August 31, 2020 – Burbank, CA) – DC today unveiled plans for a global Batman Day celebration on September 19, 2020, inviting fans of all ages around the world to participate in a wide range of Batman-themed activities to honor the iconic DC Super Hero. For the first time, fans have the opportunity to drive along with a “Batman and The Riddler” theme on Waze. And to complete the experience, you can listen to the Waze and DC Super Hero or Super-Villain playlists on Spotify while driving via the Waze Audio Player feature. Plus, free digital comics, free activity kits for kids, a Batman Virtual 5K/10K Run/Walk, and even a digital mystery to solve in which fans can put on their cape and cowl and transform into their strongest self.
Fans can also team up with Batman to protect Gotham City in a series of digital activities, such as joining the celebration on social media and helping Batman to piece together a series of clues left behind by The Riddler. If you can decode these mischievous hints, you’ll unlock exclusive, limited-time reveals! The adventure begins when the virtual Bat-Signal lights up at 12PM PT, September 18, on the @DCComics Twitter.
The new Waze Batman theme allows for more than 100 million monthly active Waze users to ride along with Batman and The Riddler from August 31 to October 31. Waze drivers can opt to hear directions in the style of Batman, voiced by Batman: The Animated Series actor Kevin Conroy, as well as select a custom Batmobile icon and Batman mood. Drivers who want a slightly more villainous experience can select The Riddler voice directions (voiced by actor Wally Wingert), mood and custom vehicle. Waze users worldwide can experience the Batman theme in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
I always feel compelled to begin by stating for the record that Glenn Ganges is not Kevin Huizenga. Of course, he’s not Ganges the same way Sal Paradise is not Jack Kerouac — the old fictional yes-but-no-but-yes two-step.
Ganges has been a main character in most of Huizenga’s books I’m aware of: Gloriana and The Wild Kingdom and Curses. No wait. I don’t mean “main.” I mean “viewpoint.”
That may sound like a nitpick. Describing the stories of Kevin Huizenga will lead to a lot of nitpicks, and descriptions of nitpicks, though — it’s inherent in the territory. Glenn Ganges is a man living in a secondary American city (maybe St. Louis, where Huizenga used to live, or Minneapolis, where he does live now), married to Wendy (I can’t find any references online to Huizenga’s personal life, and won’t speculate), and working some kind of tech-adjacent office job (again, I don’t know what Huizenga does to pay his mortgage and put food on the table, though a graphic novel every few years probably isn’t it).
But the reader gets the sense that Ganges is mentally an avatar for Huizenga. Huizenga’s comics are about thoughts more than actions, ruminations more than activity, knowledge more than thrills. It’s not quite true that his comics all take place in Ganges’ head, but that’s not a bad simplification.
The River at Night, similarly, is not the story of one night when Glenn just couldn’t fall asleep. That’s a framework for much of the book, true, but it ranges more widely than that — even leaving out the geological time and personal history and pure formalist cartooning that comes up during that one long, restless night.
A book like this relies heavily on two things: its creator’s visual inventiveness and intellectual curiosity. Huizenga has both in industrial quantities, seemingly inexhaustible supplies of startling imagery and complex thoughts, and he rolls them out in waves throughout River at Night, interspersing formalist comics experiments of two muating forms fighting (or whatever) in a video-game space with flashbacks to mundane life and long scenes of Ganges lying in bed thinking or wandering his house ruminating.
Huizenga’s art is on the cartoony side, with dot eyes and simplified limbs for his people, and he uses a cool night-blue palette for most of this book, with only a few sunset- or sunrise-desaturated pinks at appropriate moments. That visual simplification — or concentration, perhaps — lets him focus on the ideas and their visual representations; he doesn’t need to draw every line in Ganges’s hair when a calendar is exploding into deep time.
There is no real story to The River at Night. I’m not going to tell you “what happens” — that’s not the kind of book this is. It’s a dizzying, mesmerizing, deeply specific meditation on life and time and purpose and meaning. It’s both accessible in a way I didn’t always find Huizenga’s earlier work — leading into the deep thoughts in measured steps, looping in and out of obsessions to illuminate them from multiple angles — and thrilling in its audacious energy. I can’t guarantee it will make you think about things differently…but if a book like River at Night can’t make you think, I don’t know what can.
It takes a lot for a new publisher to get noticed these days and the challenge is to offer up something that hasn’t been seen before. New heroes? Check. New shared universe? Check. Variant covers? Check.
So, NextChapter—a graphic media publisher and distributor formed by and launching from The Great Company, arrives today with something unique. Veteran artist Sean Chen offers up their inaugural title, Wingman: Compendium of an Artist’s First Writing Experience, which showcases his artwork in addition to his first writing. The 9.5” x 12” 64-page softcover comes complete with Chen’s story and commentary on its creation and evolution.
One of the most interesting aspects is that the title will only be available on NextChapter’s website for 24-hours only, starting earlier today at 10:00 a.m. PDT. The storybook offers readers a look into Chen’s creative process, while random fans who purchase the book will also receive an autographed sketch from Chen, best known for his work at Valiant Comics and Marvel Comics.
In addition to the $28 softcover, 15 1-of-1 original drawings will be up for auction. The gallery will be powered by crypto vexels and hosted by crypto art community Machi X DAO, a member-directed organization where members pool resources and create proposals.
It’s an interesting gamble for the tyro writer but one he feels ready for. “I have never written for the majors, or anything really,” he told ComicMix in an exclusive interview. “I have an abiding love for great stories and always wanted to dabble in the process. Regardless of having never formally written anything, as I matured, my sensibilities and knowledge of what makes good writing developed, so I did feel ready and confident that I could write on a level that had a decent chance of going over well. If not, the project can function as art content for my Instagram, which needed to be fed almost daily. I would know soon enough if the writing was connecting with people. If it did, then I would entertain the possibility of bringing it out of Instagram to a larger audience in print.”
Interestingly, Chen, known for Iron Man and X*O Man of War, went back in time to feature the story of an old Knight from the Crusades, dying and reflecting on a full life.
“Before I ever wrote anything, the one thing I was sure of was that the genre would be a science fiction thriller. That had always been my genre of choice because it was very visual, action-packed, but also engaged the heavy thought-provoking literary aspects that you usually don’t find in superhero stories. The biggest surprise for me was that it was not that at all. Instead, it went toward iconic characters from vintage foreign films.
“Another aspect that was a shock for me was that it had so much comedy in it. In fact, the story seems to defy all attempts to classify which I think is great because it’s a rare thing to get that feeling of being totally engrossed in a story and invested in the fate of the characters and not having a clue of what’s going to happen next.
“Also surprising was the revelation that as episodes of the comic were being released on my Instagram, readers were commenting very positively about the story. They wanted to know how the story would end, while also not wanting it to end. That was when I found out that I can actually bring something to the table as a writer!
“I think the genre I ended up exploring in Wingman was a reaction to drawing decades of superhero work from Marvel and DC. Normally, super-hero or Sci-Fi would be the genre I would work in, but this first project I wanted to take a breather from the capes and spandex. I think people who are familiar with my Marvel/DC work would see that Wingman has a completely different style. I came across the iconic image of The Seventh Seal opening movie scene where The Knight and The Grim Reaper play a game of chess on a desolate craggy beach. Because of the imagination of Ingmar Bergman and the cinematography that image hit me like a lightning bolt, and I felt compelled to draw it. The dialogue was equally iconic, so I added a word balloon repeating what I had heard in the clip. It all began from there and became a reimagined story set in modern time.”
Chen began the story for himself, posting it on his Instagram account in small batches. In time, “that allowed me to gauge reader’s reactions in the comments section and mine it for vital feedback. I used my followers as an important focus group. The most important feedback I was looking for was whether the story was engaging and if the jokes were landing with the proper effect. Other factors such as pointing out plot holes, and lesser things like grammar and spelling. Many changes and corrections were made based on this feedback on both writing and art. So I did dedicate the book to ‘My Fine Followers on Instagram’ whom I consider to be Editor/Art Director.”
He partnered with NextChapter because he knew the startup’s publisher, Carl Choi, from Chen’s work in the advertising field. “When he approached me about releasing a print version of Wingman what sold me on his new company was that he envisioned an educational and outreach component. His vision was to build a community that connected readers to creators that had the goal of showcasing what was possible in the medium of comics and to teach people how they can express themselves using the medium. He required of me to create even more content in the form of commentary and educational matter that demystified how a comic is drawn, written and produced. The first prong of his publishing plan was to use Instagram to debut the comic. This allows readers to connect directly to the creator with feedback or questions. Then in the printed release, the creator commentary and process discussion is another great way to give readers insight into the creative process.”
The other challenge for him as a creator having the work presented in landscape rather than the traditional waterfall page orientation. He explained this was NextChapter’s creative decision, which he wholeheartedly supported. “This was because it allowed for the large amount of commentary and educational text that was added in sidebars which gives readers insight into the creative process. The biggest challenge to the format was that because the comic was meant for Instagram, it had to be readable on a mobile phone interface. Lettering needed to be larger, so dialogue had to be succinct while still feeling natural. The art also had to be readable at a small size while still allowing me to indulge in my usual meticulous inking style.,” he said.
As this release heralds a new chapter in Chen’s growth as a creator, he remains the monthly artist on DC’s Batman Beyond and he’s excited for its future, noting, “I am about to embark on the massively important issue #50! Beyond that, I plan to do more writing and drawing stories. Probably that Sci-Fi thriller that has always been brewing in the back of my mind. Or really anything that strikes my fancy. It’s a great time to create now as self-publishing is easier than ever, and outlets for comics material are plentiful. It’s a powerful feeling to be able to draw and write my own stories at a time where fans will respond to individual creators passion instead of habitually looking to the big 2 for their typical comics fix.
The nine year old Great Company, found by Carl Choi and based in Los Angeles, promotes itself as providing “Event Marketing · Brand Marketing, Content Strategy, Content Marketing, and Marketing Consulting”.
Los Angeles, CA – Producer and CEO of Wanderwell Entertainment Tara Ansley (TRAGEDY GIRLS, ST. AGATHA, BEAST BEAST) and entrepreneur Abhi Goel are excited to announce they have acquired the FANGORIA™, STARLOG™, and GOREZONE™ brands. All brands will live under the FANGORIA™ umbrella and develop projects based on the legacy publication’s 40+-year-old archive of work and history, with an eye on inclusivity and championing forward-thinking creators.
Ansley & Goel negotiated the deal with movie producer Dallas Sonnier who acquired and resurrected FANGORIA™ as a print publication in 2018 and built the brand into a robust horror movie studio, book publisher, and podcast network through his Texas-based CINESTATE. FANGORIA™ Magazine, with its current editorial team under the stewardship of Editor-In-Chief Phil Nobile Jr. and Managing Editor Meredith Borders, will continue to publish as a print quarterly. FANGORIA™ Studios, FANGORIA™ Podcast Network, FANGORIA™ Digital, STARLOG™ Digital, and GOREZONE™ Digital will launch in 2021 with FANGORIA™ Studios producing and distributing both narrative and non-fiction projects in television, film, and digital content across all platforms.
Starlog Press debuted in 1976 with Starlog magazine, which rapidly became the premier American magazine to cover the fantastic. It spun off Fangoria in 1979 which quickly eclipsed Famous Monsters of Filmland as the Go To publication for classic and contemporary horror film and fiction. Other magazines through the years included Future Life,Cinemagic, and Comics Scene. Several notable writers and editors worked on staff including novelist Ed Naha, art director Howard Cruse, and writer/editors Robert Greenberger, Eddie Berganza, and Mike McAvennie.
“These brands have been a foundational force in genre entertainment for decades, and have inspired, influenced, and shaped generations of filmmakers, writers, actors, and fans – ourselves included,” said Ansley. “We will continue to honor FANGORIA™’s unparalleled legacy as we propel a future wave of talent and storytellers with an invigorating production and editorial slate that showcases the array of talent representative of our expansive community.”
“It has been an awesome ride! I am so proud of the work my team and I did rebuilding this legendary brand and securing our place in horror history. I wish Tara & Abhi much success as they take FANGORIA™ to even greater heights,” added Sonnier.
Goel projects revolutionary times ahead for the company. “We are thrilled to take a fresh approach while still paying homage to the nail-biting stories we grew up on. There could not be a better time to propel these brands to exciting, culturally diverse new heights,” said Goel. “Not only are we forging into tantalizing new territories, but we are paving the way for global creators to share their varied heritages and perspectives in never-before-seen storylines that will leave genre fans hungry for more.”
Fans tuning in to the DC FanDome Hall of Heroes received unexpected and welcome news today, courtesy of a surprise panel announcing the return of Milestone to DC publishing.
Moderator Marc Bernardin and DC Publisher and Chief Creative Officer Jim Lee were joined by Milestone partner/producer Reggie Hudlin and Milestone co-founder Denys Cowan, along with Phil LaMarr, the iconic voice of the Static Shock animated series.
The panelists discussed the origins and history of this groundbreaking imprint, the indelible impact, and legacy of Milestone co-founder, Dwayne McDuffie. Hudlin also discussed plans to create multimedia opportunities spotlighting Milestone characters, including feature films, animated movies and podcasts
Milestone’s return to publishing will be led by an all-new Static Shock digital comic series scheduled for February 2021. Future offerings will include a Static Shock original graphic novel written by Hudlin with art by Kyle Baker, plus the return of Milestone heroes Icon & Rocket, also written by Hudlin with art by Cowan and more to be announced.
But fans won’t have to wait until February to experience or rediscover Milestone, as Lee announced several publishing initiatives for 2020. Beginning in September through February 2021, DC will digitize classic stories from the Milestone library and make them available for purchase at Comixology, Amazon Kindle, Apple, and other participating digital retailers. A list of titles will be announced shortly, and more titles will be added as they are remastered for a digital format.
During DC FanDome: Explore the Multiverse on September 12, fans will also have a chance to be introduced to these characters and stories. Milestone Returns #0, a 17-page sampler, will be available to read free for 24 hours. Written by Reggie Hudlin with Greg Pak and cover by Denys Cowan and Chris Sotomayor, the sampler will introduce and re-introduce fans to Milestone characters such as Static Shock, Icon, Rocket, Duo, and others. The sampler features art by an incredible lineup of Talent, including Cowan, Jim Lee, Ryan Benjamin, Khoi Pham, Scott Hanna, Bill Sienkiewicz, Don Ho, Alex Sinclair, and Deron Bennett.
In addition, the following titles from the Milestone library will also be available to read free for 24 hours during the event:
• Static Shock (2011 – 2012) #1
• Static Shock (2011 – 2012) #2
• Xombi #1
• Xombi #2
• Hardware: The Man in the Machine (2010)
• Icon: A Hero’s Welcome (1996)
• Icon Vol. 2: The Mothership Connection (2010)