ComicsAlliance: ‘Snowpiercer Terminus’ Offers First Class Return to the Second Class Struggle [Review]
I don't often write online reviews these days but I couldn't resist the opportunity to pen the first English review of the brand new volume of Snowpiercer (Le Transperceneige). As if breaking the news of the English publication wasn't enough! ;)
Included in my review is a look at the previous volumes. The original is, in my view, one of the greatest SF comics created, and the latest instalment by Olivier Bocquet and Jean-Marc Rochette is a return to that form.
Long before Snowpiercer was a film starring Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton, Le Transperceneige was well known in Europe as a classic of the science-fiction genre. Created by writer Jacques Lob and drawn by Jean-Marc Rochette, the first volume – The Escape – was published in 1982 at the height of the severe global economic recession and the dawn of Thatcherism and Reaganomics on the world stage.
The fact that the English translation didn’t arrive until last year, after the greatest post-war slump of all, is perhaps no coincidence – the tale of a massive train harbouring the last humans on earth, sorted by class from richest to poorest with no room for progression is as timely today as it was in the ‘80s.
An exclusive preview of the second issue of monster hit Beast Wagon by Owen Michael Johnson and John Pearson - up at ComicsAlliance today!
With the Marvel hip hop variants causing quite the argument across comics land regarding appreciation versus appropriation, Black Mask Studios publisher Matt Pizzolo contacted me to talk about another set of hip hop covers and how Black Mask is tackling the thorny issue of diversity in comics.
Matt Pizzolo: Yeah for what it’s worth the characters of Young Terrorists are ethnically diverse — the core team is a black man, a Chinese young woman, a Guatemalan young man, and a white woman who’s the heiress to an oppressive power structure and knows she has to reject and combat that — but I realize I’m a white man writing this stuff and my collaborator/cover artist, Amancay Nahuelpan, he’s Chilean but he grew up in Vancouver and we can’t hide behind the characters… although I do think those characters are partly what makes the hardcore hip hop homages feel thematically genuine to the story.
It’s hard to A/B these covers and assign “who’s more appropriating” or whatever, and certainly I’m not the one to judge that anyway, but obviously we’re both appropriating. All we can do is try and be creative while showing respect to those who came before us and who inspired our work.
ComicsAlliance: And Then Emily’ Returned… for Free Comic Book Day: In Conversation with Lees and Laurie
A wee interview with Glasgow boys John Lees and Iain Laurie, the depraved minds behind runaway indie hit And Then Emily Was Gone.
This horror comic, set in Orkney, is a spine-chilling nightmare parsed through the twisted and surreal lens of Laurie - no wonder the critics love it!
ComicsAlliance: For those unfortunate souls who have yet to read the comic, can you tell them a little about what And Then Emily Was Gone is about?
John Lees: And Then Emily Was Gone is a horror series that begins with a former police detective called Greg Hellinger. Back in the day, he was famed for cracking some seemingly unsolvable missing persons cases, but five years ago he had what most believe to have been a mental breakdown, and ever since, he’s been tormented by horrific apparitions of monsters that follow him around wherever he goes. He’s pulled from his life of despair and squalor by a teenage girl called Fiona, who has tracked down Hellinger in hopes of him using his particular skill-set to track down her missing best friend, Emily.
The official story is that Emily ran away from home, but Fiona is convinced that a local child-snatching boogeyman by the name of Bonnie Shaw has taken her. Hellinger agrees to help Fiona, and their search takes them to the Orkney islands, and the remote community of Merksay, where strange and terrible things start to happen!
As the co-creator of two of my favourite comic series - Transmetropolitan and Ballistic - I always jump at the chance to chat to Darick Robertson.
This time we cover his entire career, from Space Beaver to The Boys and beyond!
ComicsAlliance: Ballistic, The Boys, and Transmetropolitan have similar commentary on the evils of power and corruption in the real world, is that an important aspect of your art?
Darick Robertson: Yeah, I suppose there is a running theme there. I worry a lot and I like to create from the stuff that scares or worries me as a way of purging those feelings, that anxiety.
CA: It seems like a stronger thread through The Boys than the parodying of superheroes. And then there’s the diversity present, as with much of your work — is that an issue close to your heart?
DR: I recall a moment in The Simpsons when Homer says “Every time I learn something new it pushes old stuff out of my brain!”
When I first started going to comic cons, seeing women there, unless they were hired to dress scantily and hang out by booths, their presence as fans was an anomaly. I recall often when signing, seeing a young woman get to the front of the line with a stack of books, and I’d be happy because I thought “Right on! A female reader here who loves comics!” and I’d ask her what she liked and often they’d smile and say, “These are my boyfriend’s.. he’s in another line, I’m not really into comics…”. Most women I’d meet at signings were long-suffering supportive girlfriends and wives. I was tired then of the lopsided attitude in mainstream comics.
Two characters that I am most proud of co-creating are Spider’s filthy assistants, Channon and Yelena, because I was able to draw Channon as glamorous, but tough as nails and smarter than just her looks. I loved when she became Spider’s bodyguard. Yelena wasn’t about glamour at all, but was funny, sardonic, and a great foil as a pseudo love interest for Spider. Both characters had brains and female readers seemed to really embrace them. Actor Anna Chlumsky proclaimed on Late Night with Seth Meyers that Transmetropolitan is her favorite comic and her fantasy football team is called “The Filthy Assistants.” I was thrilled to know she’d not only read it, but loved it! And told a national audience! Not because she was in some production about it, doing PR, but that she genuinely loves it and found it on her own.
Kicking off my new stint at large comic news site, ComicsAlliance, is this interview with established punk Owen Michael Johnson (Raygun Roads, Reel Love) and ridiculously promising newcomer John Pearson.
Beast Wagon is almost certainly the UK comic of the year with Pearson's work in particular being absolutely stunning. This interview includes some exclusive art as well. (ETA: the print edition of Beast Wagon #1 also contains this interview inside!)
ComicsAlliance: The Kickstarter launched on Tuesday and achieved full funding less than one day later, how are you guys feeling?
Owen Michael Johnson: I’ve been mainlining adrenaline for the last 48 hours. I really was not prepared for how thrilling and immediate the response was for this. Completely humbled and grateful to everyone who has supported this project thus far, be they proof-readers, our family and friends (of which there are many who came out for this) and backers. I’m positively feral!
John Pearson: It’s been overwhelming to say the least; the last few weeks of getting everything ready for the exhibition and Kickstarter has meant there’s been little time to actually take a step back and breathe it all in. Talking to people during the preview night of the exhibition was when it sunk in that we’d managed to pull something together that people were getting excited about, it’s a great feeling right now.