Oliver Sava

May 19, 2015 | 5:06 a.m.

Joe Casey breaks superhero mold with ‘Valhalla Mad’ and ‘Sex’

Joe Casey's 'Valhalla Mad" and 'Sex'
Joe Casey doesn’t remember a time when comic books weren’t in his life. A writer who has worked on some of the most popular characters in superhero comics, including Superman, the X-Men and the Avengers, Casey grew up as an unabashed fan of the medium, and the works of Jack Kirby were some of the very first books that caught his attention. During his trips to local drugstore spinner racks, Casey discovered Kirby’s work through random issues of “Eternals,” “Devil Dinosaur,” “Black Panther” and “Captain America and the Falcon,” and it made an impression that has significantly influenced Casey’s development as a comics creator. “[Kirby] was a bit out of fashion at that point, as I later learned, but … he was never not great, as far as I’m concerned,” Casey said. “Once I really dove into the medium — […]
May 14, 2015 | 9:43 a.m.

‘Diary Comics’: Dustin Harbin on the art of autobiographical comics and lettering

'Diary Comics' cover (featured image)
Comic books have proved to be an exceptional medium for autobiographical material, allowing creators to interpret their lives through a combination of words and pictures unique to their individual perspectives. After a few years working on one-off gag comics, cartoonist Dustin Harbin began exploring more personal storytelling by chronicling his life from 2010 to 2012, a project that began as a creative exercise and ultimately became a valuable, therapeutic part of Harbin’s life. Choice installments from those two years are collected in “Diary Comics,” from Koyama Press, which debuted at this past weekend’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival and hits comic stores this month. A native of North Carolina who grew up just outside of Charlotte, Harbin says his introduction to comics came from his mother, who would pick up random issues from yard sales. “If there was one with Spider-Man […]
April 28, 2015 | 7:00 a.m.

‘Convergence: Shazam’: Jeff Parker and Doc Shaner make Golden Age magic

Evan “Doc” Shaner's cover for "Convergence: Shazam" No. 1. (DC Entertainment)
Fresh off their remarkable “Flash Gordon” miniseries for Dynamite Comics, writer Jeff Parker and artist Evan “Doc” Shaner are taking on another classic Golden Age hero with “Convergence: Shazam.” Part of DC Comics’ two-month “Convergence” event highlighting different eras of the publisher’s past, “Shazam” focuses on the original Captain Marvel and the bright, cheerful world of Fawcett City, taking readers back to a time when superhero comics were considerably more innocent and whimsical. Captain Marvel’s character has gone through a lot of changes since he was introduced in 1939 — he actually goes by the name Shazam in present-day DC Comics to avoid confusion with the popular Marvel Comics character that shares the Captain Marvel name — but Parker and Shaner are going back to basics with their approach. The Captain Marvel name is back, Fawcett City is perpetually sunny, […]
April 22, 2015 | 10:48 a.m.

Chip Zdarsky steps into a writer’s role with ‘Howard the Duck’ and ‘Kaptara’

Click through the gallery for a look at some of Chip Zdarsky's work. (Marvel; Image)
Chip Zdarsky is evolving. Originally created as a pseudonym for newspaper illustrator Steve Murray, the persona of Chip Zdarsky allowed Murray to create illustrations and comics that would have posed conflicts with his day job at Toronto’s National Post, but that veil of anonymity has been pulled away over the years as Zdarsky’s profile rose in the comic-book community. Working with writer Matt Fraction as the artist of Image Comics’ “Sex Criminals,” Zdarsky won an Eisner Award for best new series last year, and in 2015, he takes on his first major projects as writer: a new “Howard the Duck” series for Marvel Comics with artist Joe Quinones, which debuted in March, and the creator-owned “Kaptara” for Image Comics with artist Kagan McLeod, which launches this week. “Back in the day, it was a lot of fun,” Zdarsky said. “I […]
March 10, 2015 | 5:00 a.m.

‘Superman’: Gene Luen Yang, John Romita, Jr. chart hero’s vulnerability

Cover of "Superman" #41 - featured image
Acclaimed cartoonist Gene Luen Yang is heading to DC Comics this June for his very first ongoing monthly comic book project, and he’s starting in a dream position. He’s taking over “Superman” from outgoing writer Geoff Johns, who thrust the book back into the spotlight when he took over last year with artist John Romita Jr., a staple of Marvel Comics making his first appearance on a regular DC title. Yang joins the team as part of a line-wide rehaul at DC Comics that includes 24 new titles and fresh creators on many of its established series, and his presence is a strong indicator of DC’s renewed focus on quality stories by bold minds in the industry. The writer and artist of such graphic novels as the Eisner Award-winning “American Born Chinese” and “Boxers & Saints,” Yang often explores culture […]
March 03, 2015 | 8:00 a.m.

‘Descender’: Jeff Lemire explores the intimate heart of new sci-fi comic

Dustin Nguyen's "Descender" cover. (Image)
After nearly five years working under an exclusive contract at DC Comics, Jeff Lemire is a free agent again, and 2015 looks to be a landmark year for the prolific comic-book creator. In addition to new for-hire projects at Valiant (“The Valiant” and “Bloodshot: Reborn”) and Marvel (“All-New Hawkeye”), Lemire is working on four creator-owned titles: “Descender,” “Plutona” and “AD: After Death” at Image, and “The Black Hammer” at Dark Horse. Debuting Wednesday, “Descender” is the first of Lemire’s new creator-owned books to see release, a science fiction ongoing with artist Dustin Nguyen that follows a boy robot, TIM-21, as he makes his way across the galaxy on the run from anti-machine bounty hunters, armies and more. “I had wanted to do more science fiction,” Lemire said. “I had finished a book for Vertigo last year called ‘Trillium,’ which was […]
Dec. 18, 2014 | 12:40 p.m.

‘Shutter’: Joe Keatinge, Leila Del Duca get weird with Image series

'Shutter' No. 7 (featured image)
While interviewing writer Joe Keatinge and artist Leila Del Duca about their creator-owned Image Comics series “Shutter,” the first thing that stands out is how often they make each other laugh. There’s a relaxed, friendly energy between the two collaborators that is clearly evident, even through the filter of a conference call, and that personal connection has translated to outstanding creative chemistry on the comic-book page. Keatinge and Del Duca have two very different histories with the medium. A Los Angeles native, Keatinge grew up in an area heavily populated with comic shops, and can’t recall a time when comics weren’t a part of his life. Del Duca was raised in Missoula and Billings, Mont., where comic shops were scarce. She was exposed to the medium through the Internet and the early days of webcomics, but it wasn’t until college […]
Oct. 14, 2014 | 4:28 p.m.

Cory Doctorow talks up ‘In Real Life’ and Wang, feels down over gamergate

(First Second)
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 […]
Oct. 06, 2014 | 1:06 p.m.

Matt Kindt writes his Valiant passion project with new ‘Ninjak’ series

Ninjak Issue 1 Larosa Cover (featured image)
Nothing was going to stand in the way of Matt Kindt writing “Ninjak.” Despite a full plate of ongoing series (“Mind MGMT” for Dark Horse, “Rai” and “Unity” for Valiant) and the upcoming “The Valiant” miniseries, Kindt carved time out of his schedule to work on a pitch for a new “Ninjak” series, knowing that the opportunity would pass him by if he didn’t work fast. “I basically begged Warren [Simmons, Valiant editor-in-chief] to let me do it,” says Kindt. “If there was one Valiant character I would want to do—if I could only do one—it would be Ninjak. And the only issue was would I have time to do it, because I had taken on ‘Unity’ and ‘The Valiant,’ and Warren was just worried about my time.” “I told him to let me pitch it, let me work out an […]
Oct. 03, 2014 | 11:16 a.m.

Paul Pope thrilled by response to ‘Battling Boy’; introduces ‘Aurora West’

Aurora West Cover (featured image)
Few new properties have landed with the immense impact of Paul Pope’s “Battling Boy,” the vibrant, exhilarating 2013 graphic novel that introduced readers to the son of a god, the daughter of a superhero, and the rich fantasy world they inhabit. Combining the best elements of ancient mythology, pulp science fiction, Japanese manga and American superhero comics, Pope created a multifaceted narrative with true all-ages appeal, moving away from the gritty maturity of his earlier work and embracing a more youthful, fun-loving approach to comics storytelling. The transition proved to be a major success, earning Pope an Eisner Award this year for “Best Comic for Teens” and making “Battling Boy” the foundation for a larger line of titles from Pope and publisher First Second. “I’m reactionary in the sense that I see voids,” Pope said. “I felt like, editorially, a […]
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