Happy Free Comic Book Day 2017!

FCBD-logo2That’s right, comic book fans, today is the sixteenth annual Free Comic Book Day at brick-and-mortar and online comic shops around the world. Held the first Saturday in May, this year’s event is timed to coincide with yesterday’s release of Marvel Films’ latest blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, in which Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord (WHO?!), Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot face a new cosmic threat—all while grooving to another sound track that relies heavily on 1970s and ’80s pop tunes. And in keeping with FCBD’s fine tradition of gifting comics to fans everywhere, here’s a list of StarWarp Concepts’ offerings that you can download directly from their webstore!

heroinesandheroes-1Heroines & Heroes: 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 mainstream heroes and small-press heroines, and even a couple of anthropomorphic bikers. Leading off is “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). It’s followed by an adventure of small-presser Jeff Wood’s rabbit-eared superspy, Snowbuni; three pages from the long-canceled indie comic Motorbike Puppies; and an adventure of the indie superheroine The Blonde Avenger.

Pandora0_CoverThe Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0: A full-color introduction to the young adult novel series of the same name, hosted by Pan herself. Pan is a 16-year-old New York City Goth who’s not only a horror fangirl but someone with the rare ability to see the for-real monsters that regular humans can’t (she calls it her “monstervision”), and with the help of a 400-year-old, shape-shifting monster hunter named Sebastienne “Annie” Mazarin, she’s learning how to protect her family, her friends, and the world from the supernatural dangers out there—and maybe even have some fun while doing it. This 16-page comic features a seven-page story written by me, with art and color by Eliseu Gouveia (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1, Carmilla, A Princess of Mars), and includes two sample chapters from Blood Feud, the first Pan novel.

Heartstopper_CoverHearstopper: The Legend of La Bella Tenebrosa #1–3: Before she became Pan’s monster-hunting mentor, Sebastienne Mazarin made her debut in this short-lived, 1990s Mature Readers series from Millennium Publications. A nefarious heavy metal band has arrived in New York City, and its lead singer is more than just a sex magnet for his female fans—he’s an incubus! Will Annie put an end to his plans for worldwide chaos, or fall prey to his supernatural charms? Written by me (of course), issue 1 is drawn by Pan and Annie co-creator Uriel Caton (JSA Annual) and inker Alan Larsen (Femforce); issue 2 is penciled by Uriel, Holly Golightly (School Bites), and David C. Matthews (Satin Steele) and inked by Larsen; and issue 3 is penciled by Holly, with four pages of inks by “Chainsaw” Chuck Majewski (Harvey Kurtzman’s New Two-Fisted Tales).

Warning: Heartstopper is designated a “Mature Readers” comic for violent scenes and some sexual innuendo, so younger Panatics should avoid it.

All these comics are available for free download right now, so visit their respective product pages at StarWarp Concepts for more information.

Free Comic Book Day 2017 Titles of Interest to Panatics

FCBD-logo2Are you ready, comic book fans? Tomorrow’s the sixteenth annual Free Comic Book Day at brick-and-mortar and online comic book stores around the world, and as usual, a number of publishers are releasing a wide selection of comics that are absolutely free to fans—while supplies last at your local comic shop, of course! Here are the ones that might appeal to you Panatics out there, with descriptions provided by Diamond Comic Distributors:

FCBD2017-Titles

Attack on Titan (Kodansha Comics): “A brand-new, never-before-seen story set in the world of manga megahit Attack on Titan, written by Jody Houser (Faith, Orphan Black) with art by Emi Lenox (Plutona, EmiTown)! Plus, information about the highly anticipated season two of the anime, and more exclusives!”

Buffy: The High School Years (Dark Horse): In this all-ages offering, “you’ll thrill to a monster-slaying, citizen-saving adventure with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sixteen-year-old Buffy is still learning her trade, and sometimes battles with demons and bad luck can erode a girl’s confidence—and her ability to have high-school fun.” Written by Kel McDonald, with art by Yishan Li.

I Hate Image (Image Comics): Writer/artist Skottie Young describes this Mature Readers one-off story this way: “Gertrude has been stuck in Fairyland for decades when she finally hears of a secret passage that may be her way back home. But reaching it is easier said than done as she crosses the border into IMAGE where she’ll have to chop her way through you favorite characters from Saga, The Walking Dead, Savage Dragon, Spawn, Descender, Black Science, Southern Bastards, and any other character I can add to make sure the original art for this issue sends my children to college!”

Lady Mechanika (Benitez Productions): This issue, written and illustrated by Joe Benitez, “introduces new readers to this steampunk bestseller, [and] includes the original 14-page one-shot introducing Lady Mechanika, a young woman in Victorian England with mechanical limbs and no memory of how she got them, searching desperately for the secrets to her past, plus excerpts from the Lady Mechanika trades and comics!”

Monster High (Titan Comics): Based on the popular toy line, in this story “it’s time for a school competition, and all of the ghoulfriends are excited about showing off their talents! But Clawdeen finds it challenging and runs away! Can her friends find Clawdeen and help her out? And who will win the competition?” Written by Abby Denson and illustrated by Arianna Florean.

Riverdale (Archie Comics): It’s an Archie comic based on the hit CW television series…that’s based on Archie comic books—doesn’t that make it the funnybook equivalent of the snake that swallows its tail? “Learn the secrets and hidden tales from the summer before the eternal love-triangle begins in this special issue. Featuring two short stories focusing on the major players and events in the Riverdale series.” Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Brian E. Paterson, James DeWille, with art by Elliot Fernandez, Thomas Pitilli, Thomas Chu, and Janice Chiang.

 Be sure to pick up copies (if you get the chance) before they’re all gone!

Happy Free Comic Book Day 2016!

That’s right, comic-book fans, today is the fourteenth annual Free Comic Book Day at brick-and-mortar and online comic shops around the world. Held the first Saturday in May, this year’s event is timed to coincide with yesterday’s release of Marvel Films’ latest blockbuster, Captain America: Civil War, in which America’s mightiest soldier goes head-to-head with fellow Avenger Iron Man in a clash of ideologies. And in keeping with this fine tradition of gifting free comics to fans everywhere, here’s a list of StarWarp Concepts’ offerings!

Pandora0_CoverThe Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0: A full-color introduction to the young adult novel series of the same name, hosted by Pan herself. Pan is a girl with the ability to see the monsters that regular humans can’t, and with the help of a 400-year-old monster hunter named Sebastienne “Annie” Mazarin, she’s going to protect the world from danger—and maybe even have some fun while doing it.

This 16-page comic features a seven-page story written by me, with art and color by Eliseu Gouveia (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1, Lorelei: Sects and the City), and includes two sample chapters from Blood Feud, the first Pan novel.

Heartstopper_CoverHearstopper: The Legend of La Bella Tenebrosa #1–3: Before she became Pan’s monster-hunting mentor, Sebastienne Mazarin made her debut in this short-lived, 1990s Mature Readers series from Millennium Publications. A nefarious heavy metal band has arrived in New York City, and its lead singer is more than just a sex magnet for his female fans—he’s an incubus! Will Annie put an end to his plans for worldwide chaos, or fall prey to his supernatural charms?

Written by me (of course), issue 1 is drawn by Pan and Annie co-creator Uriel Caton (JSA Annual) and inker Alan Larsen (Femforce); issue 2 is penciled by Uriel, Holly Golightly (School Bites), and David C. Matthews (Satin Steele) and inked by Larsen; and issue 3 is penciled by Holly, with four pages of inks by “Chainsaw” Chuck Majewski (Harvey Kurtzman’s New Two-Fisted Tales).

Warning: Heartstopper is designated a “Mature Readers” comic for violent scenes and some sexual innuendo, so younger Panatics should avoid it.

Sebastienne’s Comic Book Past

On Saturday, May 4, The ’Warp is celebrating the 11th anniversary of Free Comic Book Day by releasing the rarely seen Heartstopper: The Legend of La Bella Tenebrosa #3, the final issue in what was supposed to be a four-part miniseries published in 1995. The star of Heartstopper was Sebastienne “Annie” Mazarin—yes, the very same Annie who’s showing our resident Goth chick, Pandora Zwieback, how to hunt monsters.

To be quite honest about it, I’ve avoided making references to the comic on this blog because Heartstopper is what’s known in the business as a “mature readers” comic, intended for readers seventeen years of age and up. And since the Pandora Zwieback novels have picked up readers as young as twelve, I previously thought linking to a series that middle-graders shouldn’t be reading wouldn’t be the best decision. (I can say that—I’m not just the writer, I’m the publisher.)

It’s also an example of “bad girl” comics, a politically incorrect category that generated huge sales in the nineties; basically, it meant the comic starred an ass-kicking heroine who was clad in as little clothing as you could get away with. Heartstopper was my blatant attempt to cash in on that popularity. 😀  The three issues have no nudity, sex, or adult language (in other words, four-letter curses), but there’s a bit of bloody violence in the first issue and some sexual tension between characters. But I never mentioned them here when HS 1 became available on last year’s Free Comic Book Day, or that HS 2 became a digital freebie this past Halloween.

Still, the comics are a part of Annie’s creative past (issue 1 and part of issue 2 were penciled by Pan and Annie’s co-creator, Uriel Caton), and HS 3 is the final issue. And in a world where young adult books are becoming more and more adult as publishers scramble to create the YA equivalent of the “pron” trilogy 50 Shades of Grey, Heartstopper by comparison is pretty tame in its sexual playfulness (again, no sex or nudity). On the other hand, it’s not the best thing I’ve ever written, but hey—if you survived Twilight you’ll survive this.  😀

To mark the occasion of HS 3’s Free Comic Book Day release, I dug out the following interview, which originally appeared in the December 1994 edition of Capital City Distributions’ catalog, Advance Comics, to promote the publication of Heartstopper #1.

So let’s return now to the 1990s, and the height of comics’ “Bad Girl Era,” to see how 1994 Steve Roman explains his latest project’s history. In the process, you’ll get a little more insight into Annie’s personal history, and discover just where the basic idea for Goth adventuress Pandora Zwieback’s “monstervision” got its start…

Interview: Steve Roman

Steven Roman has been producing the bimonthly series from Starwarp Concepts, Lorelei, since 1993. He now teams with Millennium Publications to bring you the latest bad-but-beautiful-babe comic series, Heartstopper.

Advance Comics: Heartstopper is about a beautiful shape-shifter who fights monsters in New York City. What sparked the idea?

Roman: It all started with Louis Small Jr. He left Harris’ Vampirella and was suffering from withdrawal. He wanted a new supernatural character—preferably a beautiful one. I came up with Sebastienne, but Louis’s schedule became tight, so I brought in Uriel Caton to pencil the book. His art is sharp and fast and fluid and more in tune with what I want to do.

AC: What’s the idea behind Heartstopper?

Roman: Sebastienne Mazarin is a 400-year-old shape-shifter whose mother was an Amazonian high priestess and whose father was a French nobleman. Her mother prepared her for the day when an ancient Brazilian deity will come to Earth and kill all of the women. Part of Sebastienne’s training requires her to spend her nights hunting down monsters and ogres in New York City. For reasons that I won’t explain until later, New York City has become a nexus for the world’s supernatural activity. In the day, Sebastienne is a freelance writer. At night she sort of cleans up the town.

AC: A Brazilian deity?

Roman: In Brazilian mythology, there’s a spirit called Jurupari who hates all women.

AC: Can everyone see the New York demons?

Roman: You can’t write and not be influenced by a thousand sources. Heartstopper owes a debt to Nancy A. Collins and her vampire novel, Sunglasses After Dark. It inspired me to create a world where normal people don’t see the darker universe around them. My take on it is that the people in New York can see these monsters—but they’re New Yorkers, and they don’t care. They see weird things all the time. To them, an ogre in Central Park is normal.

AC: The pencils and inks look terrific. Who is the art team?

Roman: Uriel Caton has been working in the industry for several years. He has penciled the Ex-Mutants for Eternity Comics, The Outer Space Babes for Silhouette Studios, and a Cain special for Harris. Alan Larsen, the inker, started in the 1980s boom as the publisher of Belladonna, a book about a 17th-century witch. He has done work for Alpha Productions for their Totem, Sign of the Wardog Annual.

AC: Fans have already gotten a sneak peek at Heartstopper, haven’t they?

Roman: Four pages of the original version by Louis Small Jr. recently appeared in Nightcry. It was supposed to be a preview for a book to be published by Cry For Dawn. That didn’t happen. A few of Uriel’s concept sketches appeared in issue #2 of Lorelei. That got lots of favorable responses from readers and retailers who think Heartstopper is in the same league as Lady Death, Shi, and Vampirella. Another sneak peek will appear in Lorelei #5.

AC: You’re both a writer and publisher?

Roman: In addition to writing Heartstopper for Millennium, I publish Lorelei under the Starwarp Concepts label. I started as a small-press writer and artist and self-published a digest version of Lorelei in 1989. In 1993 I started publishing Lorelei as a regular comic book.

AC: Who will read Heartstopper?

Roman: It’s aimed at fans of Lady Death, Shi, and Vampirella, with a little bit of Image thrown in. Sebastienne is a very loose, fun-loving character. She cracks jokes in a fight. She’s very nonchalant about taking on a group of monsters in Times Square. And because she’s a shape-shifter, she has incredible powers. She can mold her body into anything, which makes for some wild art! Heartstopper has a serious side, but for the most part it’s meant to be a fun read. Sebastienne is a very strong character, very self-assured—and a bit naughty. You’ll love her.

*       *       *

Heartstopper: The Legend of La Bella Tenebrosa #3—written by Steven A. Roman (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback), penciled by Holly Golightly (School Bites) and inked by “Chainsaw” Chuck Majewski (Harvey Kurtzman’s New Two-Fisted Tales)—is available for free download on May 4, 2013 from the StarWarp Concepts web site.

Heartstopper: The Legend of La Bella Tenebrosa #1 and #2 are also available for free download—just follow the links at StarWarp Concepts’ comics page.

However, if you’re one of those under-seventeen readers of Pan’s adventures…maybe you should wait a few years before checking out Annie during her “bad girl” phase.  😉

 

Pandora Zwieback Celebrates Free Comic Book Day

—Press Release

This Saturday, May 5, 2012, will be a cause for celebration as comic shops around the world mark the tenth annual Free Comic Book Day. Independent publishing house StarWarp Concepts joins the occasion with a pair of free e-comics that will be available for download from the SWC Web site that day—comics that tie directly to its critically acclaimed young adult, dark-urban-fantasy novel series The Saga of Pandora Zwieback.

The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0: Introducing 16-year-old Goth adventuress Pandora Zwieback! Pan is a girl with the ability to see the monsters that regular humans can’t, and with the help of a 400-year-old monster hunter named Sebastienne “Annie” Mazarin, she’s going to protect the world from danger—and maybe even have some fun while doing it.

Written by series author Steven A. Roman (X-Men: The Chaos Engine Trilogy) and drawn by Eliseu Gouveia (The Phantom), this 16-page, full-color comic book is hosted by Pandora and includes two preview chapters from Book 1: Blood Feud, in which rival vampire clans search for the key to an ultimate weapon—a key that’s been delivered to the horror museum owned by Pan’s father!

(For those who can’t wait until Saturday, the comic is available right now here at the Pan site—just click on the “Download Free Comic” link in the sidebar and start reading today!)

Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1 (ISBN 978-0-9841741-0-2) is available in both print and e-book editions from such retailers as Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Kobo.com, Smashwords, and DriveThru Fiction.

Heartstopper: The Legend of La Bella Tenebrosa #1: In 1994, Sebastienne Mazarin made her debut in this short-lived Mature Readers series from Millennium Publications. Now, for the first time in almost two decades, StarWarp Concepts re-presents this long-lost comics adventure of the monster hunter known as La Bella Tenebrosa (“the beautiful dark one”).

A nefarious heavy metal band has arrived in New York City, and its lead singer is more than just a sex magnet for his female fans—he’s an incubus! Will Annie put an end to his plans for worldwide chaos, or fall prey to his supernatural charms?

Written by Roman, with art by co-creator Uriel Caton (JSA Annual 2000) and Alan Larsen, this 32-page, full-color comic offers a rare look into the past of the immortal shape-shifter, long before she became mentor to Pandora Zwieback.

After May 5, the comics will remain accessible on the StarWarp Concepts Web site’s “Free Comics” page. For more information on the company and its projects, please visit www.StarwarpConcepts.com and www.PandoraZwieback.com.