Indie comics

May 21, 2014 | 12:38 p.m.

‘Brave New Souls’: Brandon Easton on sci-fi, comics and black writers

black-comix
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’ creator John Hervey on indie comic, short film trials

'Black Tiger' #1 cover (Beyond Time Comics)
“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 Undertaking of Lily Chen’ weaves a tale of ghostly love

'The Undertaking of Lily Chen' (featured image)
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.

Exclusive: ‘Beautiful Darkness’ a bizarre fairy tale about brutality

'Beautiful Darkness' (featured image)
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.

Valentine’s Day: ‘Alone Forever’ comic finds humor in heartbreak

"Alone Forever" by Liz Prince (featured image)
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 […]
Jan. 23, 2014 | 5:00 a.m.

Exclusive: Farel Dalrymple’s ‘The Wrenchies’ cover revealed

'The Wrenchies' cover (featured image)
Imagine a world in which children brutally slay demons in order to survive, knowing that when they grow up, they’ll become demons too. “The Wrenchies,” an upcoming YA graphic novel from alternative comics star Farel Dalrymple, chronicles the adventures of the toughest gang of those children, the so-called Wrenchies. The book is due out this fall from First Second, and Hero Complex readers get a first look at the book’s cover, which shows the eponymous gang clad for battle. Dalrymple is best known for his award-winning comic series “Pop Gun War,” an urban fantasy about a boy who acquires a pair of angel wings and uses them to fly off on adventures. He also co-founded the comic anthology “Meathaus,” illustrated the Marvel limited series “Omega the Unknown,” written by novelist Jonathan Lethem, and authors the ongoing Web comic “It Will […]
Dec. 12, 2013 | 2:48 p.m.

Sage Stossel’s ‘Starling’ juggles superheroics, ordinary life

Sage Stossel's "Starling" (featured image)
The most difficult part of being a superhero might not be the superheroics. For caped heroine Starling (civilian name Amy Sturgess), catching criminals is no less stressful than dealing with her conniving co-worker, her delinquent brother or her cat-hoarding mother. “Starling,” out this month from Penguin, is Sage Stossel’s first graphic novel, though she is no stranger to the form. A longtime political cartoonist, Stossel draws “Sage, Ink” for the Atlantic, where she is also a contributing editor. Her children’s books include “On the Loose in Boston” and “On the Loose in Washington, D.C.“ In “Starling,” Stossel introduces a heroine who blames an imaginary case of irritable bowel syndrome for her frequent missed meetings at her high-pressure marketing job. Her love life is hampered by her superpowers, including the ability to generate electric bolts from her hands. And though she […]
Oct. 22, 2013 | 9:58 a.m.

‘This One Summer’: Mariko and Jillian Tamaki bottle up adolescence

"This One Summer," by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki. (First Second)
Illustrator Jillian Tamaki and writer Mariko Tamaki remember what it feels like to be on the cusp of growing up, that moment in life where adult problems start to seep into summer days of bicycle-riding and seashell collecting. The Tamaki cousins open a window to that stage of life in “This One Summer” — initially titled “Awago Beach Babies.” Their much-anticipated graphic novel follows Rose and Windy, two girls whose families have always spent lazy summers swimming and building sand castles together in a sleepy cottage town by the beach. But this summer is different as they become wrapped up in the drama of the town’s teenagers, not to mention their own families. The book is due out in May. The cousins first collaborated on “Skim,” their 2008 graphic novel about a Wiccan, Gothic, Japanese-Canadian teenager grappling with depression and sexuality […]
Oct. 10, 2013 | 12:17 p.m.

‘Battling Boy’: Paul Pope pits boy-god hero against monster siege

Paul Pope's "Battling Boy" (featured image)
“Battling Boy,” by alternative comics creator Paul Pope, follows the self-dubbed Battling Boy, the son of a warrior god sent to save a city under siege by deadly monsters. The young hero arrives in Arcopolis with a magic credit card, a book called “The Encyclopedia Monstrosity,” and a dozen enchanted T-shirts, each bearing a different animal totem, which allow him to become clever as a fox, strong as a Tyrannosaurus rex, powerful as a gryphon, etc. Meanwhile in Arcopolis, a girl named Aurora mourns the death of her father, the city’s jetpack-wearing hero Haggard West, and makes plans to take up his quest. “Battling Boy,” out this week from First Second Books, is filled with secret science laboratories, sci-fi ray-blasters, bandage-wrapped monsters and plenty of beast-bashing action. For Pope, the project is a mash-up of everything he loved as a child. […]
Sept. 10, 2013 | 5:05 p.m.

‘Boxers & Saints’: Gene Yang blends Chinese history, magical realism

'Boxers & Saints' (featured image)
It’s hard to know whom to root for in Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel diptych “Boxers & Saints.” At once humorous and heartbreaking, the books’ 500 combined pages examine both sides of the Boxer Rebellion in turn-of-the-century China, seamlessly weaving magic and history to tell two interconnected stories. “Boxers” follows Little Bao, a peasant boy who learns kung fu and harnesses the power of the Opera gods to free China from the “foreign devils” — Western soldiers and Christian missionaries. “Saints” tells the tale of Four-Girl, an unwanted daughter who finds acceptance (and a proper name — Vibiana) among the Christian missionaries and their Chinese converts. Both protagonists are haunted and inspired by visions of historical figures — Joan of Arc for Vibiana and Ch’in Shih-huang, China’s first emperor, for Little Bao. “Boxers & Saints,” out today from First Second […]
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