April 22, 2015 | 7:00 a.m.
Magic, a Medieval fighting tournament and a mysterious stranger set the stage for the “Last Man” graphic novel series, by French comics creators Bastien Vivès, Michael Sanlaville and Balak. “Last Man,” which won the Prix de la Serie at the Angoulême International Comics Festival earlier this year, is available in English for the first time from publisher First Second. The six-issue story follows Adrian Velba, a young fighting school pupil preparing to enter his kingdom’s gladiatorial contest. When his partner falls ill the day of the tournament, Adrian’s luck appears to improve with the arrival of Richard Aldana — a stranger who fights without magic and has little knowledge of the local customs — and the pair team up to take on the kingdom’s most legendary fighters. The tale’s first installment, “The Stranger,” was released in English in March to critical praise. “The Royal Cup,” the second issue, […]
Feb. 03, 2015 | 3:31 p.m.
If you could trade decades of your life for the chance to achieve your dreams, would you? It’s the deal that Death offers a young artist named David in Scott McCloud’s new graphic novel, “The Sculptor” — 200 days to live in exchange for unfettered creative ability. David is granted the power to sculpt with his bare hands “at the speed of thought,” McCloud explains, and the intensely focused protagonist races against his death countdown to create something lasting and important. But when he struck the bargain to end his life, he didn’t expect to fall in love. In “The Sculptor,” which is out today from First Second, McCloud inks a heartbreaking tale of the meaning of life, the impact of art and the transformative influence of love in gorgeous black, white and blue. The Eisner and Harvey Award-winning author […]
Jan. 13, 2015 | 7:30 a.m.
Cartoonist Kate Beaton, the author of 2011’s acclaimed “Hark! A Vagrant” and the wildly popular webcomic on which it is based, is announcing a follow-up to her bestselling debut. “Step Aside, Pops,” due out in September from independent comics publisher Drawn & Quarterly, will feature Beaton’s sharp wit and cheeky takes on literary and historical figures — Ida B. Wells, the Black Prince and Benito Juárez are just a few. “Step Aside, Pops,” named after Beaton’s cartoon featuring a feisty velocipedestrienne, boasts more than 150 pages of her work, mixing new material and cartoons previously published on the webcomic she began in 2007. Beaton started posting her comic strips online to show her friends, but rapidly gained devoted followers (nearly 100,000 on Twitter alone) drawn to the Canadian cartoonist’s offbeat and irreverent humor. Her illustrations have also appeared in The New […]
Jan. 08, 2015 | 6:00 a.m.
“Little Robot,” an upcoming graphic novel from Ben Hatke, is the tale of an unlikely friendship between a lost, childlike robot and the little girl who helps him explore the world. The all-ages graphic novel is due out Sept. 1 from First Second, and Hero Complex readers get a first look at the book’s cover, which features the diminutive heroes. Hatke is best known for his bestselling “Zita the Spacegirl” graphic novel series, which introduced a galaxy-trotting superheroine on a mission to save her best friend from an intergalactic doomsday cult. Hatke has also contributed to the “Flight” anthology series and is the author of the children’s book “Julia’s House for Lost Creatures.” In “Little Robot,” which began as a series of watercolor cartoon strips Hatke published on his website, a curious robot befriends a shy girl who’s handy with […]
Oct. 14, 2014 | 4:28 p.m.
Cory Doctorow’s short story, “Anda’s Game,” was released in 2004, but it’s only become more relevant in the past decade. Exploring the concept of “gold farming” in video games — the practice of amassing virtual wealth that is then sold to less patient players for real-world currency — Doctorow’s tale offers a fascinating look at video game economies through the lens of a young female gamer. “Anda’s Game” has gained greater gravity as economic and gender dynamics shift in the video game community, making now the ideal time for First Second to release “In Real Life,” a graphic novel adaptation of the story. “I think science fiction’s signature move is predicting the present,” says Doctorow. “If you take stuff that’s already latent and clearly important in the world around us and write about it as though it were something that […]
May 21, 2014 | 12:38 p.m.
Race and gender are not often the most pressing of topics in the sci-fi/fantasy world — supernatural beings, mechanical monsters and general good versus evil can take precedence — but in the real world of the writers who help create that speculative fiction, such issues still weigh against the industry. Eisner-nominated writer Brandon Easton — who recently won multiple 2014 Glyph Awards (honoring the best in comics made by, for and about people of color) for his comic series “Watson and Holmes” — decided to delve into questions and concerns that minorities working in the genre biz face by producing a documentary titled “Brave New Souls: Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers of the 21st Century.” Hero Complex caught up with Easton, who premiered the film at the 2014 Eagle Con on the campus of Cal State L.A., and got some […]
April 29, 2014 | 4:26 p.m.
“Black Tiger,” an independent comic book created by John Hervey II, has not been on any bestseller lists or received an Eisner nomination. Yet at WonderCon earlier this month, Hervey celebrated a milestone for his project — the premiere of the short film adaptation “Black Tiger: Hunter Hunted” at the UltraLuxe Anaheim Cinemas at GardenWalk represented the culmination of 10 years of effort. Angela Fong stars as Jenn Fong, a female vigilante known as the Black Tiger, who is investigating the murder of her father, the original Black Tiger. (Watch the trailer for the short above.) Hero Complex caught up with comics creator and co-screenwriter (with director Patricio Ginelsa) Hervey to discuss his indie comics-to-film journey. Hero Complex: When did you create “Black Tiger”? John Hervey: It all started back during Memorial Day weekend 2002. Priscilla and I had recently started […]
April 03, 2014 | 3:47 p.m.
The Chinese tradition of ghost marriages — weddings performed for deceased bachelors — serves as the inspiration for “The Undertaking of Lily Chen,” the latest graphic novel from author Danica Novgorodoff. The ancient practice sought to partner recently deceased singletons for their journeys into the afterlife, but a modern resurgence of the macabre tradition in contemporary China has led to grave-robbings and even killings — setting the stage for Novgorodoff’s tale. “Lily Chen,” from First Second Books, follows a young man named Deshi whose elder (and more favored) brother dies in an accident. Deshi’s parents hold him responsible and send him on a quest to find a corpse bride so his brother won’t have to enter the afterlife alone. When he meets the eponymous Lily Chen, a sharp-tongued and impulsive young woman trying to escape an arranged marriage, he sees […]
Feb. 12, 2014 | 12:52 p.m.
Don’t let the whimsically water-colored fairy world in “Beautiful Darkness” fool you; this graphic novel, out today from Drawn and Quarterly, is not a happily-ever-after sort of story. In “Beautiful Darkness,” French comics writer Fabien Vehlmann (“Isle of 100,000 Graves”) and husband-and-wife cartooning team Kerascoët (“Miss Don’t Touch Me”) present the story of Aurora, a cheery and resourceful heroine whose tea party with a prince is interrupted by a deluge of what appears to be blood. Aurora escapes, emerging from the skull of a dead girl, along with dozens of other tiny people. In the coming days and months, they try to survive in the face of hunger, woodland animals and, most terrifyingly, their own capacity for cruelty. It’s a twisted tale that draws from the likes of “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Borrowers,” only “Beautiful Darkness” presents a much […]
Feb. 12, 2014 | 11:08 a.m.
If you find yourself among the lovelorn this Valentine’s Day, Liz Prince’s graphic novel “Alone Forever: The Singles Collection” might prove a perfect remedy. “Alone Forever,” out this month from Top Shelf Productions, collects 104 pages of Prince’s autobiographical comic strip — a self-deprecating look at relationships, love and the lack thereof. The Boston-based comics creator chronicles her experiences with online dating, awkward first encounters and (questionably) flirty interactions with bearded strangers, not to mention tender moments with her constant true loves — her cats and her punk rock music. Prince, whose previous titles include the Ignatz Award-winning “Will You Still Love Me If I Wet The Bed?” and “Delayed Replays,” will be in the Los Angeles area on Sunday for L.A. Zine Fest at Helms Bakery in Culver City. Hero Complex: How did this project come about? I understand […]