Kong is King of Comic Books at Simian Saturdays

giant-classic-kongOver at the StarWarp Concepts blog, you’ll find the latest installment of Simian Saturdays, a series of reviews I’ve been doing that examine the movies (and other media) that focused on King Kong, the giant monkey who’s captured generations of monster fans’ hearts. It’s part of SWC’s celebration of King Kong, the latest addition to its Illustrated Classics library that’s now on sale.

Today’s focus is on Giant Classic King Kong, a comic book adaptation of the original story by Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper. Drawn by the super-talented Alberto Giolitti (Star Trek, The Twilight Zone), it was first published in 1968 by Gold Key Comics and then reissued by Whitman Publishing in 1976 as an oversize “treasury” edition. It’s the ’76 version I’m reviewing, because that’s the one I picked up back in the day and have read the hell out of. Go check it out!

King-Kong-Final-FrontCvrKing Kong (the SWC Illustrated Classic) is an e-book-only release that reintroduces monster fans to the 1932 novelization of the original movie classic. Written by Delos W. Lovelace, based on the story by Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper and the screenplay by James A. Creelman and Ruth Rose, it includes scenes that didn’t appear in the final cut of the film—including the notorious “spider pit” sequence in which Kong’s human pursuers are attacked by horrific arachnids and insects. The SWC version features six original black-and-white illustrations by comics artist Paul Tuma, whose pulp-influenced style has appeared in the pages of The Twilight Avenger, Flare, and Dan Turner: Hollywood Detective.

King Kong is on sale right now, so visit its product page at StarWarp Concepts for ordering information.

StarWarp Concepts Looks at a Creepy Carmilla Adaptation

Carmilla_CoverHey, vampire fans! To celebrate this year’s 145th anniversary of J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s gothic vampire classic, Carmilla, Pan’s publisher, over at the StarWarp Concepts blog I’ve started a series of blog posts in which I’m reviewing various adaptations (comics, films, TV) of this strange and creepy paranormal romance. We’re starting with a comic version that ran in Creepy #19, released in 1968 by Warren Publications, the original home of Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella, and Famous Monsters of Filmland. Head over to today’s post at the SWC blog and check it out!

If you’re unfamiliar with what is probably Le Fanu’s most famous work, here’s the back-cover copy from the StarWarp Concepts edition:

Before Edward and Bella, before Lestat and Louis, even before Dracula and Mina, there was the vampiric tale of Carmilla and Laura.

Living with her widowed father in a dreary old castle in the woods of Styria, Laura has longed to have a friend with whom she can confide; a friend to bring some excitement to her pastoral lifestyle. And then Carmilla enters her life.

Left by her mother in the care of Laura’s father, Carmilla is young, beautiful, playful—everything that Laura had hoped to find in a companion. In fact, the lonely girl is so thrilled to have a new friend that she is willing to overlook the dark-haired beauty’s strange actions…which include a disturbing, growing obsession for her lovely hostess.

Carmilla, it seems, desires more than just friendship from Laura….

Carmilla—the SWC edition, featuring six original illustrations by artist Eliseu Gouveia (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0, The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1)—is available in print and digital formats, so visit its product page at StarWarp Concepts for ordering information.

Forgotten Frights: Monsters of History

Happy Friday the 13th! Even though it’s got nothing to do with this special day on which we celebrate the multiple resurrections of Jason Voorhees, the blood-spattered mascot of Camp Crystal Lake, here’s a one-page forgotten fright from comics’ Golden Age I thought you might enjoy.

“Monsters of History,” by artist Howard Nostrand, first appeared in Harvey Comics’ Chamber of Chills Magazine #18, cover-dated July 1953. Click on the image to embiggen, as they say.

Monsters-of-History

What’s that? This is a different kind of Friday the 13th? Jason’s got nothing to do with it?

Oh.

Well, never mind, then.

Happy Local Comic Shop Day 2016!

Pandora0_CoverToday is Local Comic Shop Day, an annual appreciation “conceived and implemented by ComicsPRO comic book specialty retailers to call attention to locally owned independent comic book specialty stores, celebrating their unique and vital role in being the primary fire-starters of pop culture.” In other words, it’s a way of encouraging comic fans to visit their LCS and give them some business as the holiday season kicks into high gear. So get out there tomorrow and support your LCS!

For more information, including a list of participating stores and the special collectibles they’ll be offering for sale, visit the Local Comic Shop Day website.

But it’s not just the retail shops that have something of interest for comic fans—not when StarWarp Concepts has its own range of comics and graphic novels to offer!

pan_annual2015The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0: A free, downloadable comic that serves as an introduction to the adventures of Pandora Zwieback and her monster-hunting mentor, Sebastienne “Annie” Mazarin, with an 8-page story written by me and illustrated by Eliseu Gouveia, and a preview of Pan’s first novel, Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1. Pan is a 16-year-old Goth girl who’s spent the last decade being treated for mental health problems because she can see monsters. It’s only after she meets Annie that Pan discovers she’s never been ill—her so-called “monstervision” is actually a supernatural gift that allows her to see into Gothopolis, the not-so-mythical shadow world that exists right alongside the human world.

The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1: A spinoff from the novel series, this 56-page, full-color comic special finds the teenaged Goth adventuress battling vampires and a jealous, man-stealing siren. It features stories by me and Sholly Fisch (Scooby-Doo Team-Up), art by Eliseu Gouveia (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0), comic-art legend Ernie Colon (Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld), and Elizabeth Watasin (Charm School), and cover art by award-winning artist Henar Torinos (Mala Estrella).

Heartstopper: The Legend of La Bella Tenebrosa: Long before she met Pan, Annie was the star of this short-lived “bad girl” comic book miniseries published in the 1990s. Here you’ll find Annie doing a bit of research for an article about gentlemen’s clubs in Times Square—research that includes actually performing as an exotic dancer (I did say it was a ’90s comic, didn’t I?). It’s that part-time gig that brings her into contact with Corum de Sade, a heavy metal singer with a deadly secret: he’s a soul-devouring incubus! All three issues—written by me, with art by Uriel Caton (JSA Annual), Holly Golightly (School Bites), and David C. Matthews—are available for free from this very website, so download them today!

heroinesandheroes-1Heroines & Heroes is a collection of comic stories and pinups all drawn by me, dating back to my days in the early 1990s small-press movement—that age of dinosaurs in which creators like me used to make our comics by printing them out on photocopiers and then stapling them by hand. In H&H you’ll find: “V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N (in the Summertime),” a three-page Wonder Woman vs. Harley Quinn story that I wrote and drew in the late ’90s as a sample for a DC Comics editor who thought I’d be a good fit for their Batman: The Animated Series comic (it didn’t work out); “Dirty Laundry,” an adventure of small-presser Jeff Wood’s rabbit-eared superspy, Snowbuni; three pages from the mid-‘90s indie comic Motorbike Puppies; and “I Was a Super-powered Vampire Slayer!,”an adventure of the indie superheroine The Blonde Avenger. Twenty-four pages of comicky goodness—and all for free!

The Chronicles of the Sea Dragon Special is a digital pirate-fantasy comic created and written by Richard C. White, coauthor of SWC’s supernatural-superhero graphic novel Troubleshooters, Incorporated: Night Stalkings. Drawn by Bill Bryan (artist of Caliber Press’ Dark Oz and DC Comics’ House of Mystery), and featuring cover art and color by Eliseu Gouveia (SWC’s The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual), it’s 48 pages of high-seas adventure perfect for fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise, as well as classics like The Crimson Pirate, Against All Flags, Captain Blood, and The Sea Hawk—and it’s available for download for just 99¢!

SWC_Troubleshooters_CvrTroubleshooters, Incorporated: Night Stalkings is a general readers’ graphic novel about a group of supernatural-superheroes-for-hire taking on their first case. The team consists of a wizard, a female ninja, a sorceress, a werewolf, and a rock ’n’ roll lighting designer wearing high-tech armor. Sure, they might not be on a power level with the Avengers or Justice League of America—they’re more like superpowered Ghostbusters—but they get the job done. The graphic novel is written by the husband-and-white team of Richard C. White (The Ultimate Hulk) and Joni M. White, and illustrated by Reggie Golden and Randy Zimmerman.

Snow White: Not really a comic book, but our presentation of the classic story by the Brothers Grimm features full-color illustrations first published in 1883 (and they really are beautiful drawings), and is available for immediate download for the low price of just 99¢!

The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual and Troubleshooters Incorporated are available in print and digital formats. Pandora Zwieback #0, Heartstopper, Heroines and Heroes, The Chronicles of the Sea Dragon, and Snow White are digital exclusives. Visit their respective product pages for ordering information, as well as sample pages.

Happy reading!

Proof That Happy Goths Love Zwieback

henar-torinos-pan-annualWhat you see here is a photograph of Spain’s very own mega-talented artist, writer, and self-described “happy Goth,” Henar Torinos, holding up a copy of The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1, for which she provided the incredible cover art. She thinks it rawks! 😀

Henar made her comics debut as the creator/artist of the two-volume graphic novel series Mala Estrella (Bad Star), published by Ediciones Babylon; the series won the award for Best Manga of 2012 at Ficomic, Barcelona’s International Comic Fair. She currently works as a freelance illustrator and designer. I met her through deviantArt, the online art community, shortly after I joined; I’d been looking for artists for the Pan-themed promotion “The 13 Days of Pan-demonium,” and a site search for “Happy Goths” led me to her page—specifically, two pieces entitled “Happy Goths Exist” and “Still a Happy Goth.”

To see more of Henar’s creations, visit her deviantArt page. I’m pretty certain you’ll like what you see!

SWC_PanAnnual01The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1, published by StarWarp Concepts, is a 56-page, full-color special that contains stories by Steven A. Roman (that’s me, the author of the Pandora Zwieback novels, as well as X-Men: The Chaos Engine Trilogy) and Sholly Fisch (Scooby-Doo Team-Up, The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold). In addition to Henar’s wonderful cover, you’ll find art by Eliseu Gouveia (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0), comic-art legend Ernie Colon (Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld), and Elizabeth Watasin (writer/artist/creator of the comic series Charm School and the steampunk novel series The Dark Victorian). The comic is available in both print and digital formats, so visit the Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1 product page for all the ordering information, as well as sample pages.

Pirouette #1: A Review

Pirouette01As I mentioned a couple of weeks back, in my post on the zombie apocalypse series Afterlife with Archie, I’ve become a comic book reviewer for the news site Comics for Sinners. And occasionally I come across a horror series that I think might interest you Panatics, so I decided to now and then reproduce my C4S reviews here at Zwieback Central. (And yes, it helps to update this blog.) So this time around I look at the first issue of Black Mask Studios’ Pirouette. Read on to find out more…

Confession time: I’ll admit I experienced some trepidation when I was asked to review this title from Black Mask Studios, but that was entirely due to confusing writer Mark L. Miller with Kick-Ass shock-and-awe hypemeister Mark Millar. Not being a fan of Millar’s work, I couldn’t imagine what Hollywood pitch this latest work would turn out to be. But then I took a second look, and realized a completely different writer was involved (an unfortunate circumstance that I’m sure Miller is sick of by now), so I started reading.

Pirouette-Sample1I’m glad I took that second look.

Pirouette is the eponymous star of the comic, an extremely sad, 16-year-old clown who dreams of running away from the circus because of the abuse—both physical and psychological—that she suffers at the hands of her fellow carnies, as well as her parents; to say she’s the resident punching bag would be an understatement. And yet there’s a spark of hope in Pirouette that a better life exists for her, somewhere beyond her nightmarish existence. And if what one of the other clowns has told her is true, there may be a chance for that spark to blossom into a flame…

The first impression one gets from Miller’s tale is that he’s wearing his Ray Bradbury influence on his sleeve—Samwell’s Circus of Curios and Wonders seems straight out of Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show in Bradbury’s classic novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes. And that’s not a bad thing—given the extremes of hyperkinetic art layouts and ultraslow, “write for the trade” padded scripting that dominate comics these days, Miller has found an easy balance between the two, with a story that moves at its own pace without being derivative of Bradbury’s work.

Although billed as a horror miniseries, there’s nothing supernatural in evidence in this first issue; the horror solely comes from watching Pirouette’s mistreatment from a cast of characters you’d like to see run over by the train that transports the circus through its 1930s’ Midwest America setting. From all I know there may be no supernatural elements to the story, and that would be fine—Pirouette works just as well as a character-driven tale.

Pirouette-Sample2

The art by Miller’s creative partner, Carlos Granda, is breathtaking. There’s a hint of Angel Medina (Spawn), a hint of Bernie Wrightson (Swamp Thing), and a touch of old-school EC comics to his style, and it all combines for top-notch storytelling pages that range from wide-screen double-splashes to intimate close-ups.

Bottom line? With its winning combination of Bradbury-esque influences and incredible art, Pirouette is a miniseries definitely worth a look for horror fans and comic fans.

Pirouette #1
Written by Mark L. Miller
Art and cover by Carlos Granda
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
32 pages • full color
$3.99 U.S.
On sale now

Afterlife With Archie #6: A Review

afterlife06Just in time for Halloween, here’s something different for this site: Me recommending a project I had nothing to do with. Okay, maybe not all that different—after all, I’ve posted summer reading lists in which I recommend other authors’ works. If anything, it’s different in that it involves a comic book series, the latest issue of which I reviewed for the news site Comics for Sinners. It’s the most unexpected—and most popular—Archie Andrews comic ever: the zombie apocalypse series Afterlife with Archie. And I think it’s something you Panatics might be interested in…

It started as a joke: a Halloween drawing by artist Francesco Francavilla (The Black Beetle), of a comic-book cover for a nonexistent horror series called Afterlife with Archie (a parody of the long-running Life with Archie); in it, America’s favorite teenager was being stalked in a cemetery by his best friend, Jughead—who’d become a zombie. The image went viral and comic fans laughed about it…but at Archie Comics, someone took a look at it and thought, Archie and his pals in a zombie apocalypse—what a great idea!

And thus was born Afterlife with Archie, the series, with Francavilla as artist, joined by writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Stephen King’s The Stand). Together, they’ve made AwA one of the most talked-about series currently being published, and one of the company’s top titles, by treating it as a straight-up horror series not intended for younger readers used to Archie’s more comedic antics. The setup is: Jughead’s dog, Hot Dog, is hit and killed by a car; Jughead brings him to Sabrina the Teenaged Witch and begs her to revive him; Sabrina uses The Necronomicon to do so (well, there’s a bad idea). In a Stephen King’s Pet Sematary–style twist, Hot Dog comes back as a very bad dog—a zombie dog, in fact, that puts the bite on Jughead…who then quickly spreads the infection to the rest of Riverdale. And suddenly Archie Andrews knows what it’s like to be Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead…

With the first story arc completed in AwA #5, Afterlife with Archie #6 shows us what’s become of Sabrina after her two witchy aunts punished her for accidentally unleashing hell on Earth—the last we’d seen of her was in the first issue, when they’d banished her to the “Nether-Realm.” Now we find out things haven’t improved much for her…

“Witch in the Dream House” uses the trope of the lead character who insists that their “hallucinations” and imagined life are reality while everyone tries to convince the character they’re insane. For Sabrina, it’s her certainty that she’s a witch, surrounded by monster in group therapy at a mental institution—run by two doctors named Lovecraft and Machen. If you recognize the names H. P. Lovecraft and Arthur Machen, two of the horror genre’s greatest writers, you can see where this is going, can’t you?

For horror fans, there are Easter eggs galore, with shout-outs to the authors’ works, most notably Lovecraft’s C’thulu Mythos—two of Sabrina’s fellow patients are Erich Zann (“The Music of Erich Zann”) and Richard Pickman (“Pickman’s Model”)—as well as Robert W. Chambers’s fabled city of Carcosa (most notably referenced in the first season of HBO’s acclaimed series True Detective) and the cult classic film The Wicker Man (the original with Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee, not the crappy remake with Nicholas Cage). And as for the ending…well, you’ll just have to see it for yourself.

As a bonus, instead of AwA’s usual backup stories—reprinted from Archie’s Red Circle–imprint series Chilling Tales of Sorcery, with stories and art by some of comics’ legendary creators—this issue features a sneak peek of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1, Aguirre-Sacasa’s not-quite-an-AwA-spinoff-series that’s currently on sale. Set in the 1960s, with art by Robert Hack, it seems to take its cues from Rosemary’s Baby and other occult thrillers of the sixties and early seventies. Definitely another series to check out.

Bottom line? If you’re already reading Afterlife with Archie, or are a fan of the works of Lovecraft, Machen, and Chambers, then definitely pick up this issue. If you’re a horror fan in general, you need to be reading this series. AwA is one of the smartest, creepiest comics out there right now, with a minimal amount of gore shown during its most violent scenes, but a lot of oppressive mood. Archie + zombies + the C’thulu Mythos = a can’t-miss series.

Afterlife with Archie #6

“Witch in the Dream House”

Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Art by Francesco Francavilla

Publisher: Archie Comics

32 pages • full-color

$2.99 U.S.

On sale now

DRM-Free Comics? Already Got ‘Em!

pan_comic_0As you may have heard, at this week’s Comic Con International: San Diego, digital comics distributor Comixology announced that they are making titles from certain independent publishers—including Image, Dynamite Entertainment, and Top Shelf—available as Digital Rights Media–free (DRM-free) PDF and CBZ downloads. (Marvel and DC aren’t on board with this yet, but who knows what the future holds?) In other words, you can now own the digital copies of the comics you’ve paid for!

 

pan_annualThat’s a great innovation (I’ve already downloaded some of the comics from my own account), but I’ve got news for you digital comics fans: StarWarp Concepts’ comics and graphic novels have been that way since we began offering them through our webstore and DriveThru Comics. The teen Goth comics The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0, The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1; the supernatural superhero graphic novel Troubleshooters, Incorporated: Night Stalkings; the mature readers miniseries Heartstopper: The Legend of La Bella Tenebrosa; the adult graphic novel Lorelei: Sects and the City; and the pirate fantasy one-shot The Chronicles of the Sea Dragon Special are all available for download, and are all DRM-free.

Visit each of the titles’ product pages for more information, including sales links and sample pages, and start shopping today, secure in the knowledge that the comics you buy from The ’Warp are actually yours to own!

SWC Backlist: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1

pan_annual_lgContinuing our review of SWC’s backlist, today we look at our young adult dark-urban-fantasy comic book The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1, written by Steven A. Roman and Sholly Fisch, and illustrated by Eliseu Gouveia, Ernie Colon, and Elizabeth Watasin, with cover art by Henar Torinos. Here’s the synopsis:

Pan’s first full-length comic book adventure! Chasing monsters can be a lot of hard work, and Pan tries to get her chaotic life back in order by attending a family picnic hosted by the parents of her boyfriend, Javier. But relaxing becomes impossible when one of Javi’s ex-girlfriends arrives to complicate things. Stupid mythological siren…

“Song of the Siren” features a script by Saga of Pandora Zwieback novelist Steven A. Roman and full-color art by Eliseu Gouveia (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0). This king-size special also includes:

“After Hours,” a short tale of the “Paniverse” by writer Sholly Fisch (Action Comics, Scooby-Doo! Team-Up) and comics-art legend Ernie Colon (Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld).

“Shopping Maul,” a Pan short story by Steven A. Roman, about (blood) red-tag sales and Elegant Gothic Lolita vampires, with title page art and color by Elizabeth Watasin (Charm School).

“Roman demonstrates yet again his ability to write in the voice of a teenage girl without resorting to the petty whining and needless angst that seem to plague a lot of the female teenage characters in books today…. I would readily and heartily recommend this comic to anybody.”Word of the Nerd

“Roman mixes young adult fantasy with some themes like ‘young love’ but also with equal parts of ‘female empowerment’ and lets Pandora be a real and true voice. The art by Eliseu Gouveia is just stellar and makes a perfect match for the main story.”Comics For Sinners

The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1 is on sale in print ($7.99 US) at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The e-book ($3.99) is available from DriveThru Fiction. Both print and e-book formats can be purchased from the StarWarp Concepts webstore.

Visit The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1 product page for the sales links.

Please support StarWarp Concepts by purchasing one of our books. Thanks!