Monday, August 31, 2015

Ultraman is back in a new manga series!

Ultraman is back!
by rick olivares

Like its North American superhero cousins, a much-beloved Japanese television/manga character is growing up.

Ultraman is back for a new generation with Ultraman: The Beginning of A New Age Vol. 1 as written by Eichi Shimizu and illustrated by Tomohiro Shimoguchi. The first tankobon, or compilation, features the first six chapters of the continuing adventures of this sci-fi hero.

In the new adventures, after the Giant of Light or Ultraman returned to stars after finally repelling the invasion of terrifying monsters known as Kaiju, his human host, Shin Hayata, went on with his life and built a family. However, Hayata, now working as Defense Minister of Japan, cannot remember his time as the human avatar of Ultraman. Yet, he possesses the powers that he calls the “Ultraman Factor.” And his son, Shinjiro, has inherited them too. 

Hayata confides to his old Science Patrol colleague, Matsuhiro Ide, about his powers and that of Shinjiro’s. Around the same time, a mysterious alien appears and makes an attempt on Shinjiro’s life saying that the Ultraman power should not be used on Earth. Hayata appears to protect his son but in severely injured in the process. Shinjiro puts on an Exo-Armor to augment his powers and battles the alien named Bemular nearly destroying him with Ultraman’s signature finishing move — the Specium Ray. 

The alien withdraws from the battlefield after sustaining major damage getting hit by a Specium Ray, the particle ray weapon used by Ultraman to vaporize foes.

At this point, I am not sure if this is the same Bemular that the first Ultraman battled. That Bemular was a Godzilla-like monster. However, the alien, of the same name bears some resemblance in spite of wearing its own suit of armor. It’s got spikes on its back.

And that isn’t the cliffhanger just yet.

Ultraman: The Beginning of a New Age is a bold new direction as a younger generation takes over with the stakes even higher against more sinister foes. The new series takes advantage the significant upgrades in design, technology or even storytelling techniques. 

The Exo-armor worn by Shinjiro is sleeker, more dynamic and far better than those ugly but loveable eel heads of yore. No doubt, the influence of Mobile Suit Gundam extends to Ultraman.

Shimizu’s storytelling is fast-paced and keeps up with Shimoguchi’s dynamic art that reminds me of Yukito Kishiro of Battle Angel fame (my all-time fave manga series). They pay homage not only to the old Ultraman but also to some Western comic heroes. The part when Hayata arrived to protect Shinjiro is in fact, the first time he uses the Ultraman power alone. And it is a Holy Crap moment when he tears off his clothing ala this-is-a-job-for-Superman and says, “I am Ultraman."

The colored pin-up pages that precede the story are visually arresting and the first tome wraps up with character designs and other information making  this 240-page tankobon an even more worthy pick up. 

I loved the old Ultraman television show as only a kid can. And I collected the manga whenever there was one available domestically (you only found this at a shop in Greenhills in the pre-comic book specialty shop days). But now, thanks to VIZ Media, the Japanese-American publishing company based in San Francisco, California released the new Ultraman series (translated into English) last August 18 and should be available in your local comic book stores.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

I've got an old man's soul: My love for Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer

I've got an old man's soul. 

I was born in the late 1960s yet I have had this eternal fascination for stories, films, books, and magazines of a bygone era -- the from late 1920s-60s America (you can throw in even French and Brazilian pop culture) and of course, my country, the Philippines.

My late grandfather influenced me because of the music that he played to the magazines he read and the films and actors that he enjoyed. Even as I discovered punk and new wave, I secretly loved the old big band jazz and rockabilly. I loved films like Casablanca, the first Back to the Future film, A League of Their Own, The Untouchables, Dick Tracy, Stand By Me, Road to Perdition, Streets of Fire, The Godfather and many more. My favorite television shows include Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley. My room had a poster of James Dean and when I was in college, I wore an oversized shirt of the rebel without a cause that made me look like a caricature (coz it was too big). 

It was in college when I was rummaging through the bargain bins of BookSale when I came across Pacific Presents... The Rocketeer #2. I knew nothing about the character but the cover of a police spotlight on Cliff Secord holding that famous jetpack with a shadow of the Rocketeer behind him caught my immediate attention. I bought it and raced home to read it. I thought that Dave's art, was a throwback. It had the feel of the 30s yet with a modern sensibility. Furthermore, it was lush and dynamic. It was gorgeous. And so were his women. Plus, Dave singularly brought Bettie Page back into a global consciousness. How cool was that?

You could say that the book changed a lot about me. My own comic book -- Ang Ilog -- not only is that inspired by my childhood but also by Stevens. How does that work? Well, as Harlan Ellison later noted about the dialogue in The Rocketeer, it isn't 100% down pat from the era but the spirit is there. It is the same with my self-published comic. In fact, I also have a period piece about cops and robbers also set in that era. I have Dave to thank for that too.

Almost my entire collection from that time has been wiped out by fire and flood but that copy has stayed with me. That is how much I loved that comic about a down-on-his-luck flyer who was trying to win back his glamorous actress of a girlfriend. He was Peter Parker set in 1938. Except he had no super powers. Only his quick wit and a jetpack that he found that allowed him to soar in the skies. 

When I was a kid, my grandfather would take me to the old Clark Air Base in Pampanga where we would sit on the grass and watch those old F-4 Phantom and F-104 Starfighters take off. It was a thrill for me and I wanted to become a fighter pilot never mind if I wasn't an American. I guess, it was the thrill of flying. That is ironic considering I suffer from acrophobia. 

Reading The Rocketeer reminds me of my grandfather's house too that is decorated with so much Americana (he served in the US Army). He had a framed picture of the Wright Brothers' Kittyhawk that I coveted. There were stacks of magazines on the New York Yankees (he was a huge Mickey Mantle fan), Marilyn Monroe, James Cagney, and the like. I absorbed them all and became a fan as well. For years, I wanted to own my own Jukebox and I still do. I wanted to wear loafers, letter man jackets, and grease my hair. 

It would be years before I added and completed my collection of Stevens' character. Every now and then I break them out and read them and it takes me back. I love the books like only a kid can. And these books along with Mike Baron and Steve Rude's Nexus are one of my most treasured in my massive collection.  

Most of my friends cannot understand or relate to my fascination and love for the Rocketeer (and Nexus). Finding other folks who love them are difficult. As it is, I correspond with Americans who are of the same age as me who read the same books as I do. We talk, dissect, and wonder about its splendor.

I have an old soul and make no apologies for it. 

And here is my collection of Stevens' work (not counting the new adventures done by modern creators).

The Rocketeer's publication history is staggered across the years through several indie companies. Pacific Comics was one of the first to take advantage of the growing and expanding direct market that allowed creators to produce mature content different from what DC and Marvel were publishing. Pacific Comics brought in Mike Grell who made a name for himself drawing Legion of the Super-Heroes of which I was a fan. His indie creation, Starslayer, particularly issues #2 & 3 was where The Rocketeer made its debut as a backup story to the main feature. Because of the response to the character, Pacific Comics came out with Pacific Comics Presents The Rocketeer #1 &2. When the company folded up, the last part was released by Eclipse Comics. Comico released The Rocketeer Adventure Magazine #1 & 2 before Dark Horse completed the last part of the trilogy.

My first copy of The Rocketeer Adventure magazine is autographed by Dave Stevens. Here's the certificate of authenticity.

When the Joe Johnston-driected Disney film came out in 1991, I loved it as I thought it introduced the character to a larger audience. Unfortunately, it didn't do too well in the turnstiles although it has since become a back film classic. I have the DVD and the pirated DVD (above) as well as the VHS and VCD (below). If you notice the Chinese characters on the VCD that is because I bought that in Hong Kong ages ago. It was never released in the Philippines. I also used to have the Laser Disc that cost me a thousand bucks (massive money in the early 1990s) but that was later thrown out by my mom (I gave her a severe tongue lashing for that).

The adaptations to the Disney film: The cassette audio tape of the dramatization of the film and the Peter David-penned novel from Bantam books (above). Below, the Disney comic adaptation and the Ray Zone 3-D comic (with Neal Adams art). The cassette tape comes with the 3-D comic.
Here's the ReAction figure released by Funko last year, 2014.

The collected editions! My copy of the Eclipse graphic novel that collects the first story arc is in Near Mint condition! I love the introduction by writer Harlan Ellison. To its left, Cliff's New York Adventure that was published by Dark Horse. This included the first two isses of Comico's The Rocketeer Adventure Magazine.

Then there's the Rocketeer Jetpack Edition that collects everything. The IDW released The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures and the Deluxe Edition format.

I also have Stevens' non-Rocketeer work in Alien Worlds and his hardcover Covers & Stories.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Attack on Titan: A colossal letdown of a film

Attack on Titan: A colossal letdown of a film
by rick olivares

My manga and anime days are long past me. Like many other youngsters, I loved them as only kids can no matter how violent they were. I only followed three manga series in my life: “Fist of the North Star” and “Battle Angel Alita.” 

“Attack on Titan” came much later on in my adult life when a friend of mine who knew I was a fan of both the comic book and the television series of “The Walking Dead” recommended the work of Hajime Isayama. By then three years into its first publication release, I picked up the third tankobon of “Attack on Titan” or volume as we say in English and have since followed it quite closely.

The anime version Titan, like my other two manga favorites in North Star and Battle Angle, is even better.

When it was announced that a live action film of Titan was in production, I was both excited and skeptical; a natural reaction to any successful print story being adapted. And as is the norm when it comes to films, I avoid reading or watching too much pre-release material so I am not influenced by what has been said.

Well, post-screening of “Attack on Titan” the film adaptation, it is one giant letdown.

When the film starts, we see a more adult Eren, Mikasa and Armin attempting to see what is life outside Wall Maria, the massive wall and one of three that protects what is left of humanity from the marauding Titans. Changing basic plot elements can be tricky. It will only appease fanboys if the plots or origins are improved.

Here’s where the story diverges. In the manga, Eren’s motivation is joining the Survey Corps is when his mother is eaten alive. Here is it is the belief that Mikasa is was some Titans lunch. The manga version is way more powerful especially when she tells Eren to leave her as she is rendered immobile when her legs are crushed by a giant rock hurled by one of the Titans. Yet as Eren reluctantly is brought to safety, the mother has a change of heart and wishes to be saved. Except she is finger food for one female Titan.

Now cut to the movie version. Eren and company are prevented from going out by a cadre of Garrison guards and on cue, this 50-meter tall Titan, the biggest one they’ve seen yet appears and begins tearing a hole for the smaller Titans to get inside.

In the manga version, the young Eren and company witness the return of a Survey Corps regiment that went out with a hundred men but came back with only 20 many who are injured. That certainly added to the tension and climate of fear and helplessness by a humanity that is held hostage by the Titans and he walls.

Film director Shinji Higuchi sort of makes up for it when he depicts that stark terror that grips the populace when the Titans break through the wall.

It is this point where it gets annoying. The wall guards take too long to react. Sure, people can freeze in fear and disbelief at sight of this massive giant that finally breached what was previously believed to be unassailable. Based on the film’s story (not the manga version), it has been over a hundred years since the last Titans incident. Nevertheless, there has been previous contact with the massive cannibals so they know that no cannonball shot will hurt them unless they are sliced at the nape. Instead the guards act like imbeciles. One even challenges the order to fire at the Titans. Why weren’t the massive rail guns used in the manga adapted for the film instead of using the antiquated cannons?

During the attack, Eren believes that Mikasa is eaten alive by a Titan. He joins the Survey Corps to seek vengeance and to reclaim the lands from the Titans. During a mission to close the breach in the wall it all the more gets mystifying.

The soldiers are told to watch their voices because the Titans can hear them yet they yak like they are taking a stroll at the park. Worse, discipline is out of the window as Hiana breaks ranks because she can hear a baby cry. Eren follows and they find a massive baby Titan that draws the attention of the larger Titans.

They are saved by Mikasa who to the surprise of Eren and Armin is not only alive but this powerful warriors who has not only mastered the Vertical Maneuvering Device that allows them to navigate an urban setting like Spider-Man but is also an expert at dispatching Titans. Furthermore, she is an apprentice to the mysterious Shikishima who takes the place of Special Operations Squad leader Levi from the manga/anime version. It is said that “Levi” is Caucasian and the filmmakers wanted the character to be Japanese. Okay, I can understand that so I can let that pass with some grumbling.

Now the soldiers manage to escape yet during a lull where there some characters find the respite a means to engage in sex, the Titans attack once more further decimating the Survey Corps. Eren who earlier nearly had a nervous breakdown finds his verve and begins attacking the Titans with aplomb. His leg is eaten and he is thrown away. Seeing Armin close to being gobbled down by a Titan, he manages to save his friend but is swallowed for his efforts.

Just as all is bleak for the remainder of the corps, the Titan that ate Eren implodes as this new Titan emerges. This Titan is a amalgam of the old Titans and the colossal giant except that it is in a muscular body. This Titan begins bashing the heads and smashing the other Titans against the buildings.

The first part ends when the survivors of the Survey Corps discover that it is Eren who is “piloting” the Titan. That is of course, for the second part that is due this September.

For all the inroads made in technology, I felt like I was watching an upgrade of a B-movie. The effects used for the Survey Corps swinging around with their VMDs isn’t as good as I thought it would be.

When the colossal Titan appears, I felt that Higuchi lost a great opportunity for something really dramatic that scares the living daylights out of everyone. And the soundtrack score was terrible.

The characterization needs a lot of help and convincing. Here is supposed to be the elite force of humanity’s defenders yet they are an immature and poorly disciplined lot. The attempts at humor where Satomi Ishihara’s character of Zoe Hange mistakenly fires the VMDs. So much for garnering the recruits’ confidence.

I am disappointed because that is two successive comic book adaptations that have gone wrong with the previous being the Fox’s reboot of the Fantastic Four (it says a lot when the previous FF films are way better than the reboot).

“Attack on Titan” is a long manga/anime series yet the film version ends in a two-parter. The first part is lacking and wanting. Let’s see if they close this out with a bang this September. I don’t think Higuchi and company can survive another attack from angry fanboys.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Fantastic Four (2015) Film Review: Not fantastic but not all that bad

Not fantastic but not all that bad.
by rick olivares

The headline alone might shock you because practically almost all the reviews and social media postings have been negative.

However, that’s the fanboy ire that has somewhat influenced a great many viewers.

You want my cred? Here you go.

I first read and collected the Fantastic Four back when Gerry Conway (who picked up the writing chores from Stan Lee) was writing the book. Rich Buckler and Joe Sinnott were the artists and that first comic I bought off the racks was FF #147 where they fought Namor, the Sub-Mariner. However, this was the early 1970s and I was a grade school kid who heavily relied on my grandfather to buy me comics. There were no specialty shops then so collecting titles in numerical order were impossible. 

The best way for me to get them was to go to the old Clark Air Base where my grandfather had access as he once was connected to the US Army. The first real string of consecutive issues that I was able to get were beginning FF #164 with Roy Thomas now the writer and George Perez and Sinnott as the artists (the cover was done by Jack Kirby). That was their first meeting with the Crusader.

While the X-Men were my favorites (this was before Giant-Size X-Men), I loved the FF. They were science nerds. Or at least Reed was. They had some great foes and even bigger adventures. I collected Marv Wolfman and Keith Pollard’s run, that incredible five-year tenure by John Byrne beginning with FF #232 to Walt Simonson’s take (I skipped the Roger Stern and Steve Englehart stories). I collected the Jim Lee and Brandon Choi run (that I hated but I only got coz of the art). I loved the third series that began with Scott Lobdell and Alan Davis and was picked up by Chris Claremont and Salvador Larroca. Then there was one of my fave FF runs ever with Carlos Pacheco and the Karl Kesel and Mike Weiringo books. Even the spin-off book with the Allreds was something I collected. Even up today, I still get the book even if I think that James Robinson does not understand Marvel’s first family. My first ever letter that was printed on a Marvel Comics was in the pages of the FF (the second was Daredevil in case you want to know).

I have a shirt with the “4’ on it and go to bed wearing it. So there.

Having said that mouthful, as an old time fanboy, here are my problems with the film even before I saw it:

It had so much disconnect to its Marvel origins. From the ethnicity of Franklin and Johnny Storm to Susan being adopted and Ben Grimm not being a test pilot to the Baxter building is a “school” or a working lab and not the FF’s headquarters to even their original debut foe which were the Mole Man’s monsters; yes, sir, I’ve got problems with that. 

Sure, Doctor Doom is a more compelling foe than some monsters by why imbue the villain with the same cosmic rays that changed the F4? Doom’s powers are mystical and mechanical in nature. The other time someone tried to replicate what happened to them, they became the U-Foes. The only connection of Doom to the comics was that it said that he was from Latveria. That’s it. Nothing more.

Now going into the screening, I decided to divest myself of all my prejudices as an old-time fanboy and sit back and enjoy it like I know nothing about the FF. And to be honest, I thought it changed my perspective about the film.

Now here are my thoughts after seeing the film:

If I know nothing of the comic Fantastic Four it isn’t so bad. I don’t feel the level of sympathy that I have for Steve Rogers after he kept getting rejected by the Army. Peter Parker was an outcast and I felt for him. When Tony Stark had that moment of clarity, I pulled for him all the more.

The characterization was here, there, and nowhere. It is mostly a good cast save perhaps for Jamie Bell who isn't the right person to portray a gruff and tough Ben Grimm. I ended up comparing this to the other FF films. Michael Chiklis was perfect as Ben. Chris Evans nailed Johnny Storm. And I love Jessica Alba as Sue. Ioan Gruffudd was fine as Reed except he seemed a little quirky and not nerdy enough. Almost all through its comic book history, Ben calls Reed “egghead” or “big brain” because he was Sheldon Cooper before there was a Sheldon Cooper. 

Miles Teller has the nerd look down pat but there should have been more exposition. They showed a better young Reed than an adult Reed.

Teller and to an extent, Michael B. Jordan had a lot of character development but that left the others really under exposed. One of the core themes of FF is the friendship of Reed and Ben and how the former crucifies himself for the mistake that turned his friend into a monster. It was shown rather briefly but should have been explored more. The two start out their science trip together but Ben gets left out only to be remembered when they take an unauthorized jaunt into the other dimension that surprisingly isn’t the Negative Zone but Planet Zero! WTH!

Furthermore, it would have been really cool to see greater and more creative executions on their powers. The fights were brief and left me hanging. It was nice to see Reed take on the military but it should have been longer. And how cool would it have been to see him going up against an Apache gunship or even a tank? The Thing was doing some black ops fighting but it would have been nice to see him against tougher military hardware. In contrast, the Hulk of Ang Lee had better fights with the military.

The special effects were nothing special. Guardians of the Galaxy had better effects. There was nothing spectacular they brought to the FF reboot and it is criminal that they did not bring today’s technological advances to bear. 

Now putting on my fanboy hat, the Josh Trank film was devoid of many of the hallmarks that make the Marvel Cinematic Universe such a hit with film fans. There were a few attempts at humor that have been the hallmarks of not only the comics and the film adaptations. Furthermore, there were no Easter Eggs that make it fun for fanboys. They even took the Thing’s signature battle cry of “It’s Clobbering Time” and gave it to his bully of an older brother.

It was a science film disguised as a superhero film. Fine. I wish they showed the wonders of science. At its very core, the FF are explorers and not really superheroes. They are a family as well that got extended to the point where other people donned the same costume of unstable molecules with that famous “4” in front.

I had high hopes given the recent success of the main Marvel films not handled by FOX. You’d think they would have taken notes but no! Fantastic Four is not fantastic. It is not one of the best Marvel let alone superhero films. However, it isn’t that bad. What it has is the feel of a Steven Spielberg film that got away. The first act was all right as they had this modern take on the old origin but the second act was too quick like it got sucked up that gravity well that Dr. Doom conjured. The sad thing is so many possibilities too got sucked away as well leaving the FF reboot good but ultimately unsatisfying.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The best piece of artwork Rob Liefeld has done is a mashup of Snoopy and Deadpool

I will dare to say that Rob Liefeld's drawing of Snoopy dressed up as Deadpool -- on the occasion of the beagle's birthday that is August 4 -- is the single best piece of artwork he has done. The best thing Rob ever did? That's getting Alan Moore to write his comics. 

I tried out his New Mutants when it first came out and I only have them because I used to collect all the mutant titles (so I also have his X-Force). As for his Image books? I only have Youngblood #1 because of its place in comic book history. Other than that, I am not really a fan. I tried to be but I just cannot get into his art and his books. 

I checked out his new Bloodstrike... and with only one pitch, it strikes out. Same old. Same old.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Flashback to some signings at Midtown Comics

With JG Jones and Mark Millar a long time ago during a book signing for Wanted #1. This was at Midtown Comics in Manhattan. I miss buying my comics here. 

I had a lot of my comics signed here -- Alex Ross, Joe Quesada, Jim Lee, Phil Jimenez, and Dan Jurgens to name a few.

Below is a Twitter reaction by the great Mark Millar on the photo.

However, due to a typhoon that destroyed a lot of my belongings and a fire (unlucky am I) that later burned down my home, I lost almost all my signed stuff. All my Batman Hush singles are gone. Ditto with the Grant Morrison and Phil Jimenez New X-Men, a lot of my Alex Ross signed books (the only ones that survived are Mythology, Justice and and a sketchbook).

With Joe Quesada and actor Thomas Jane who played the Punisher.

A conversation with Motorcycle Samurai creator Chris Sheridan

A conversation with Motorcycle Samurai creator Chris Sheridan
by rick olivares

When Motorcycle Samurai was included in Free Comic Book Day last May, it created a buzz because the title first made waves as a digital comic and now it was coming to print.

It was massive because on one hand, it could entice print loyalists to check out web-based comics and vice versa.

Motorcycle Samurai became one of the most sought after Free Comics that fine May day. And that led to the recent San Diego Comic Convention where Top Shelf Productions published the title in its entirety as a trade paperback.

We picked up the title that had elements of Mad Max, spaghetti westerns, and reviewed it recently on

Here is a conversation with the talented Chris Sheridan about Motorcycle Samurai.

Rick: How different is it creating comics for digital as opposed to print? Did you have to make changes for the trade paperback of MS?

Chris: Print and digital are parallel, but each their own executions. They're not a one-for-one execution. Some of what was built for digital had to be adapted to work for print. The wide screen stacking worked really well in the digital format. Some of that had to be shifted in the print because an animatic scene meant to reveal moment in overlays doesn't always have the same impact as a full page spread.

So there was a lot of tinkering per platform.  But the good thing for me as a designer is having built in the ability to crop and cut up the artwork to fit both print and digital. Sure you have to make choices in how you execute that, but its just a matter of tailoring the work for the platform.

Rick: MS is oft compared to Mad Max? Was that film series an inspiration? If it was, what elements did you grab from the film for MS?

Chris: The Mad Max world is certainly an inspiration. The visual sense of that series always knocks me out. I loved the practical aspects of the original series and how they focused on action while burying character moments deep into the storytelling. In fact, in the pitch, I called the story an 'Akira Kurosawa remake of a John Ford version of Mad Max.' So, yeah, there certainly is some Max in the DNA of this world. It's funny too, MS started before the new film got back on track, so, it was certainly amazing to see Max back in the theaters with a female lead. 

Rick: Who are you influences in creating comics (both digital and print)? What comics did you read when you were younger? What do you read now?

Chris: I got into comics in the late eighties, early nineties. So my interests were very different then. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a huge influence. The gritty style of the Eastman & Laird work blew my mind. Especially when seeing the mainstream kids cartoon. I was kind of mystified by the duo-tone. It took a long time for me to discover how that process worked. When I got a few sheets of it and tried it I felt so legit. I got some of the original magazine size issues and still love to check them out from time to time. 

I think it took a long time for my tastes to reflect my own off-kilter style in terms of what creators I was drawn to. Geof Darrow (Shaolin Cowboy) was a huge influence from the start. I still marvel at his work across the board. He and Mike Mignola (Hellboy) both. They encouraged me when I was younger to stick to it, and not to try to change my style to become an artist that could just hop in on any book. It really pushed me to find my own path.

More recently I've been amazing lucky to get to know Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth, Hawkeye), Mark Waid (Daredevil), and Mike Allred (Silver Surfer). Each of these creators have such diverse abilities, great talents, and good people. 

Rick: Will you continue to do digital comics? What else is up the road for you? What's next for MS?

Chris: Personally I love the digital format. It’s a great way to tell stories in a unique way and explore your own avenues. With MS there were not individual issues, it was set as a full graphic novel from the get-go. As such, each chapter could be exactly as long as it needed to be. It wasn't limited to a page count. And as a creator that was wonderful. Each moment could be brought out and really highlighted. It did lead to the print version being a lot longer than originally planned. But that’s the great thing about digital and print, they aren't exclusive mediums, though they are different.

I love stories that develop over time, and that your perspectives not he characters change as you get more information on them That is something I am looking forward to with MS. This was certainly designed as an opening tale. One that introduces a lot. Which is part of why there are only hints at certain things. The main motivation of the tale was to set the stage. There are a lot of stories and miles left when it comes to White Bolt & All Star.

Rick: In your blog, you "cast" MS? Cool & inspired choices. Any chance we're going to see this happen? Or an animated version?

Chris: Ha! I wish Bruce Lee could play the White Bolt & Steve McQueen could be All-Star!

I think framing the characters that way helped me play in that strange cinema mash up world in exploring how the characters moved and spoke. I wanted their movements to be different, and  their speech and action. Adding the 'casting' just helped to tap into the amazing character actors I love and let that help define the tale.

As to if MS will appear in any other format, we'll see. I think animation would be a natural fit as the world is pretty absurd. I mean, it'd be tough to pull off the hair in this tale on film as a live action. It'd be pretty ridiculous. But in animation I think it could be very fun. I obviously have a love for (Russian-American animator) Genndy Tartakovsky's work (Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars to name a few), his sense of timing and character and location. I think it'd sure be fun to see. But who knows.

Rick: Any nice San Diego Comic Con anecdote that we can share for the story?

Chris: SDCC was the release of the book that had been in production for two years. In fact, it had been in progress for about three years or so. And to finally have a printed book, as much as Chris Ross, the digital director for Top Shelf would hate to hear, it felt great! 

It was a chance to show traditional comic fans something I had done, and not have to ask, 'do you read digital?'. So just having the full book in lively color was wonderful.  

I also was able to share the print book with Geof Darrow and Mike Mignola. Both were sitting together as they were back long ago when they encouraged me to keep going. So that was really a great moment, kind of closing the circle a little, to be able to share something I had done with them.