The 25th annual Anthony Award nominees were announced today. Vertigo leads the 2011 BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL category with three nominees:
Best Graphic Novel
Sickness in the Family - Denise Mina – Vertigo Crime
Beasts of Burden – Jill Thompson/Evan Dorkin – Dark Horse
Richard Stark's Parker, Vol. 2: The Outfit –Darwyn Cooke - IDW Press
The Chill - Jason Starr – Vertigo Crime
Scalped Vol 6 - The Gnawing - Jason Aaron – Vertigo
Tumor - Joshua Hale Fialkov/ Noel Tuazon - ARCHAIA STUDIOS PRESS
The awards are named after Anthony Boucher, a book reviewer and early champion of the mystery genre. The winners will be announced at the 2011 Bouchercon World Mystery Convention in St. Louis on the morning of September 18th.
Congratulations to all the nominees!
For the full list of nominees and more information about the Anthony Awards and the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention, please visit www.Bouchercon2011.com.
This landmark fiftieth issue features two special stories, one detailing the long bloody history of scalping and scalphunters, and the other spotlighting the founding of the Prairie Rose rez as seen through the eyes of Dash Bad Horse’s ancestor, His Many Bad Horses.
Don’t Miss this all-star celebration of all things SCALPED, written by Jason Aaron and featuring art by R.M. Guera, Dean Haspiel, Denys Cowan, Igor Kordey, Jill Thompson, Timothy Truman and a cover by Jock.
SCALPED #50 hits stores June 29.
HELLBLAZER—Save the Date
You’re invited to the wedding of
John Constantine and Epiphany Greaves
Exclusive first look at inks from issue #275:
I asked author Chris Roberson to give us a rundown of what’s happening in the world of iZOMBIE this year and here’s what he had to say, “The second storyline of iZOMBIE has just gotten started, and all of the characters and plotlines from the first arc are just starting to collide. Once this second arc wraps up, we'll have a spotlight issue featuring a surprise guest artist, and then dive right into the third arc, which features ghostly pulp avengers, undead spies, teen Frankensteins, and more.” And artist Mike Allred is super excited about what’s ahead, “I get to draw all this! Comic book heaven in a world of monsters.”
Jason Aaron starts 2011 back on The Rez with a new storyline called Running to Stand Still. Red Crow is facing a new challenger for tribal leadership, Dash is hunting down his mother’s killer and much more. Check out the cover of issue #45 by Jock and here’s an exclusive first look at an interior page by R.M. Guera.
DONG XOAI has received wonderful reviews from the likes of PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, THE RECORD, THE ONION/AV Club, THE OKLAHOMA GAZETTE, to BLOG@NEWSARAMA, and it's been chosen as IFANBOY's Book of the Month. And features with Joe Kubert have appeared in the LEXINGTON HERALD LEADER, SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS NEWS, CBR, and GRAPHIC NOVEL REPORTER with more to come! You can also listen to Joe Kubert discuss the book on IFANBOY's Talksplode.
As for SCALPED #38, this stand alone issue features a flashback with a surprise main character – one whose legacy looms large in the world of SCALPED, but whose story has never been told...until now. Pick up a copy on May 26th.
Both are perfect for Memorial Day reading!
Soon to be a motion picture, THE LOSERS Vol. 1&2 hits the NEW YORK TIMES Paperback Graphic Book Bestseller List! Collecting Volume 1: Ante Up and Volume 2: Double Down (issues #1-12) of the groundbreaking, Eisner-nominated Vertigo series this 304-page paperback by Andy Diggle features art by Jock and Shawn Martinbrough.
THE LOSERS hits theaters April 23rd
Cast: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans, Idris Elba, Columbus Short, Holt McCallany, Oscar Jaenada, Jason Patric
Action Thriller. An explosive tale of double cross and revenge, “The Losers” centers upon the members of an elite U.S. Special Forces unit sent into the Bolivian jungle on a search and destroy mission. The team–Clay, Jensen, Roque, Pooch and Cougar –find themselves the target of a lethal betrayal instigated from inside by a powerful enemy known only as Max. Presumed dead, the group makes plans to even the score when they’re joined by the mysterious Aisha, a beautiful operative with her own agenda. Working together, they must remain deep undercover while tracking the heavily-guarded Max, a ruthless man bent on embroiling the world in a new high-tech global war.
The cover to HELLBLAZER: PANDEMONIUM was a long time in the making - I'm guessing the first sketch was conceived at least a year before the final image was decided upon. In a similar way to the first issue of a series, but possibly even more so, a graphic novel cover has to have specific considerations as it will be on the shelves for a long time. This led to a number of different ideas and treatments before everyone was happy with the design. Myself and editor Pornsak Pichetshote and DC designer Louis Prandi all worked together up to the final stages to ensure everything - from paper stock right up to varnishes and finish - would look as good as we could possibly make them.
Here's some ideas and designs from along the way -
The very first promo piece - altered from a charity painting of Constantine I had worked on previously. This went out with the initial announcement of the project.
Then we needed a placeholder cover for Amazon etc. cue a quick b/w drawing and simple colour and logo placement.
I began work on the final cover wanting to utilize the full wrap around dust jacket. I always think this brings a cohesiveness to a book design and should be done wherever possible! I remember sending designer John J. Hill extra bits of art for THE LOSERS trades so he could make use of the designs.... but I digress.
I wanted a close shot of Constantine, but rendered in an interesting way. I wanted the disjointed style to speak for his depth of character. I also wanted an aesthetic that would sit well in bookstores alongside novels and I thought a strong headshot, with some nods towards the Iraq theatre of war where the story is set, would work well.
After sending these in, DC was keen to include our female lead, Aseera, in the cover and also show a little more context than just the close up face/figure. Here's a couple of designs from that time with various war elements and backgrounds. I like both of these but it was felt that we still needed a 'setting'... to show the Middle East and the Iraq tableau.
Pornsak and I came up with the idea of a subtle nod towards the Iraq flag - made up of a red, white and black horizontal stripes. I tried this with some detail from the flag too. I liked how the green worked against the other colours, so we decided to carry that through to the title treatment. A green title against the red would really pop the logo.
As we were losing the flag detail we included the silhouettes of temples to evoke an eastern backdrop. this, coupled with the green of the logo, became the final cover, seen here in the full wraparound version.
A big thanks to Pornsak for his patience, and Louis Prandi for his great design. I hope you enjoy HELLBLAZER:PANDEMONIUM, out at stores now.
n.b - Part way through the process i worked up this piece, using bullets to form a pentagram as an idea for a chapter break or end piece. Unfortunately, space was limited in the book but Louis came up with the great idea of using it on the book cover itself. Look for it inversed and embossed on the cover!
Good morning Graphic Content readers! Today is very snowy in the big apple—the perfect day to stay in your pjs and read a good comic book or graphic novel or some of the great reviews and features they’re receiving. So, if you’re catching up on the week today here some things you should know:
“Brian Wood month” continues. ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY/Shelf Life reviews DMZ #50 calling it “an extremely clever comic book series that regularly transcends mere cleverness.” It was also reviewed by TIME/Techland, CBR and NEWSARAMA. UGO ran a preview of NORTHLANDERS #25, while IGN reviewed and COMICS ALLIANCE, CBR and NEWSARAMA ran features.
OTHER LIVES the new original graphic novel written and illustrated by Peter Bagge, due to arrive in stores this April, has received early praise from a couple of book trade publications. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY says “this is prime Bagge that will surprise readers with its artistic maturity and a plot that is in no way predictable,” and BOOKLIST says “Best known for chronicling 1990s Seattle slackers in the comic book Hate, Bagge now gives us a quartet of neurotic misfits. . . . [his] loopy visual idiom effectively reinforces the characters’ pathetic-but-humorous, self-delusional nature.”
Have a great weekend!
Last month I posted the trailer to THE LOSERS movie. Coming April 23rd to theatres. Today, I'm posting the very illuminating intro to the recently published THE LOSERS Vol. 1 and 2 by none other than writer Andy Diggle.
Check it out:
SHOOT TO KILL.
PLAY TO WIN.
NOTHING TO LOSE.
“Have you ever heard of THE LOSERS?”
I’ll be honest — I hadn’t. This was back in 2002, and I was still the new kid on the block at Vertigo. Editor Will Dennis had offered me my first job in U.S. comics, scripting a four-issue LADY CONSTANTINE mini-series that spun out of Neil Gaiman’s SANDMAN, and now I was trying to figure out what to pitch next.
I wanted to write a crime caper, something with a bit of snap and crackle, but I didn’t yet have enough professional weight to swing a creator-owned book at Vertigo. Instead, I figured I could dust off some old forgotten DC Comics character and revamp him for the 21st century, as Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso had done so masterfully with JONNY DOUBLE. The question was, which character?
I ransacked my comic collection and scoured the online encyclopedias, but I was coming up blank — until Will Dennis rang me up one evening and asked, “Have you ever heard of THE LOSERS?” I confessed that I hadn’t — but it was one hell of a title. I knew right there and then that I could do something with a title like that.
So I started researching it. Turned out the original Losers were a rag-tag platoon of hard-luck heroes, created by writer Robert Kanigher in the pages of various DC World War II comics of the 1960s and ’70s. And as a kid who pretty much learned to read with British war comics like Battle, Warlord and Commando Picture Library, I loved the idea of revamping the title.
There was just one problem: the Losers were dead.
According to DC Comics continuity, they were killed during the closing stages of the war while taking down a German missile site. I could have written a flashback story set before their deaths, but where’s the drama in that? And that’s when it hit me — what if they didn’t really die? What if they were just missing in action, presumed K.I.A. — but the bodies were never found? And what if this rag-tag platoon of disgruntled ex-servicemen got back together in the ’50s for one last mission...?
Almost immediately, the rough outline of a snappy, high-concept crime caper downloaded itself straight into my skull, full of missing Nazi gold and German rocket scientists at Los Alamos and guys in sharkskin suits calling each other “Daddio.” It was perfect.
I never even pitched it.
You see, Vertigo already had those bases covered with Garth Ennis’ excellent WAR STORIES and Howard Chaykin and David Tischman’s AMERICAN CENTURY, a ’50s-era crime series. It seemed there was no place at Vertigo for the original Losers...
So I just took the title and tossed the rest.
To this day, I’ve still never read a single issue of the original LOSERS. I just took DC’s trademarked title and ran with it, cooking up something completely new for them. New characters, new premise, new story. The one thing that did survive from my own ’50s-era concept was the idea of disgruntled ex-servicemen, listed as K.I.A., re-teaming after the war to pull a heist.
And in the interests of full disclosure, I did include two tips of the hat to Robert Kanigher’s team. We both had characters called “Clay.” Maybe my Frank Clay is the grandson of Sarge Clay; or maybe it’s just a coincidence. And while the original Losers had a dog called Pooch, that became the call-sign of Linwood Porteous, my team’s transport specialist.
So I pitched Vertigo my new, contemporary version of THE LOSERS, a four-issue military heist caper that owed more to Three Kings and The Way of the Gun than it did to the blazing combat comics of old. And Vertigo liked it — enough that they asked me to re-tool it into an ongoing series.
Now this was one of those good problems; but it was a problem nonetheless. The thing about a heist caper is that it’s finite. They plan the job; they pull the job; it either works or it doesn’t, and that’s that. How do you keep a story like that going indefinitely?
What I needed was an ongoing series of capers. What I needed was something to tie them all together.
What I needed was a bad guy.
Remember this was back in 2002, when America was still raw from 9/11 and George W. Bush was at the height of his popularity — on his home turf, at least. The Neo-Cons were holding the reins of power, and they were already using the worst terrorist atrocity in American history as an excuse to further their openly-stated agenda — namely, regime change in Iraq. The message coming out of Washington was, “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.” It was called “unpatriotic” to question the actions of those in power, even as they tore up the Constitution that safeguarded the very freedoms they were sworn to protect.
I’ve never liked being told what to do, or what to think, and that’s just one of the many, many reasons I would have made a lousy soldier; but I have enormous respect for the men and women of the military. What must it have been like for them, being told to give their lives for a lie?
That’s where I found the theme for my new version of THE LOSERS:
Sometimes, being a patriot means refusing to follow orders.
And that’s how I came up with Max, the ultimate Neo-Conservative power player; Rumsfeld meets Blofeld. He’s the guy who tried to have the Losers rubbed out, when all they were doing was fighting for their country and trying to save innocent lives. In my “ongoing series of capers,” the Losers would be fighting to clear their names from Max’s secret C.I.A. death list. If they wanted their lives back, they’d have to steal them.
Now it wasn’t just a throwaway caper; it was about something. I wanted to try and marry the sheer kinetic entertainment value of Hollywood action movies with the paranoid smarts and social relevance of a ’70s-era political conspiracy thriller. Aim high, miss high, that’s my motto.
Most of all, THE LOSERS was my man-crush love letter to Shane Black, the screenwriter of Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, The Long Kiss Goodnight and more recently, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang — and, let us not forget, the bespectacled joker in Arnie’s squad who was first to be eviscerated by the Predator. Along with John Wagner and James Cameron, he’s one of the reasons I wanted to become a writer in the first place, and to write stories that move — even on the printed page. I wanted to write a comic for people who don’t read comics, but love a great action movie. A comic you could put into the hands of the average Joe — someone who doesn’t even know that such things as comic shops exist, let alone would ever set foot inside one — and he’d get it, and get a kick out of it.
I’ll leave you to judge whether we succeeded.
Looking back on it all now, I appreciate how lucky I was. Lucky to be in the right place at the right time. Lucky that editor Will Dennis was brave enough — or dumb enough — to take a chance on a couple of unknown British creators. But most of all, I was lucky to be working with Jock.
None of this would have happened without him.
I’d first met Jock when I was an editor at 2000 AD, and we worked together on my first published comics work — a sci-fi crime caper called LENNY ZERO. We just clicked, right from the start; he instinctively knew how to make the images in my head, and in my scripts, pop out and smack you in the face. His talent for page design is unparalleled.
More than anyone, Jock is the guy responsible for breathing life into the Losers, giving each of them a distinctive visual signature that makes them instantly recognizable — from Pooch’s paunch to Cougar’s hat to the curly cord that’s perpetually sticking out from behind Jensen’s ear.
And damn, he made those images move — just like they did in my head.
So now it’s years later, and we’re in that strange transition period between THE LOSERS being history — we wrapped the series in 2006 — and it becoming a whole new thing, with the movie adaptation bringing our story to a wider audience than we ever could have imagined.
It’s been a strange experience, watching our baby go through the Hollywood machine. Jock and I visited the set of The Losers movie in Puerto Rico during the final days of filming, and it was downright surreal, seeing these characters we’d dreamt up walking and talking and blowing shit up. Looking exactly the way Jock designed them, saying lines I wrote, pulling heists that I planned out in meticulous detail while sitting in front of the computer in my spare bedroom all those years ago.
Of course, our Losers smoke and swear and fight the power a damn sight harder than those guys in the movie...
But hey, that’s why I love comics.
— Andy Diggle
Andy Diggle is a freelance comic-book writer. Formerly the editor of the legendary British sci-fi comics magazine 2000 AD, he now has over a dozen graphic novels in print.
His work includes THE LOSERS, BATMAN, HELLBLAZER, SWAMP THING, ADAM STRANGE and GREEN ARROW: YEAR ONE for DC Comics; Daredevil, Thunderbolts and Dark Reign: Hawkeye for Marvel; Judge Dredd vs. Aliens, Snow/Tiger and Lenny Zero for 2000 AD; and Guy Ritchie’s Gamekeeper for Virgin Comics, the film adaptation of which is currently in development at Warner Bros.
He lives in the U.K. with his wife, two children and a clinical addiction to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.