Audio Book Reviews “Graphic Audio: Marvel”

Release Date: Jun 9, 2014 / Apr 7, 2014
Approximate Running Time: 5 / 6 Hours
Number of CDs: 5
Content Rating: Ages 13+

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Do you love comic books? Do you love audio books? Have you always wanted to hear your comics acted out like “a movie in your mind”? Well Graphic Audio now has your prayers answered. This year they have already released two fantastic comic books arcs for Marvel in audio book format. They have full casts, cinematic music and sound effects. While you are listening to these you literally can visualize the comic and you feel like you are right in the middle of the action. The most recent Marvel comic they released was the story of “Iron Man: Extremis”. This is a great choice for the character of Iron Man. The other earlier this year was “”The Ultimates: Against All Enemies”, which is a very epic series for Marvel. Graphic Audio has tons of other great products as well and I hope that they will be doing much more Marvel and DC comics in the near future. Might I suggest the recent “Original Sin” series next?!

Here is the cast for “Iron Man: Extremis”: Richard Rohan, Richard Cutting, Sherry Berg, Andy Brownstein, Maboud Ebrahimzadeh, Kimberly Gilbert, Michael John Casey, Scott Graham, Nora Achrati, Jacob Yeh, Steve Wannall, David Harris, Christopher Graybill, Evan Casey, Drew Kopas, Gabriela Fernandez-Coffey, Sasha Olinick, Nanette Savard, Rex Anderson, Rebecca Sheir, Matthew Schleigh, Tim Pabon and James Lewis

“Iron Man: Extremis” Official Premise: Advanced technology has given Iron Man life, but now that same future tech threatens to become Stark’s death. A dangerous terrorist has ingested a new techno-organic virus, transforming him into a superhuman killing machine. Now immensely powerful, but driven mad by the virus’ effects, the terrorist is seemingly unstoppable. To halt this madman’s psychotic rampage, Iron Man must face this dangerous new virus head-on…in a life-or-death battle that will forever alter Stark’s calculated balance between man and machine. Experience Warren Ellis and Adi Granov’s blockbuster re-imagining of the armored Avenger like never before in this new adaptation!

Here is the cast for “The Ultimates: Against All Enemies”: Richard Rohan, James Keegan, Richard Cutting, Jefferson Russell, Eric Messner, Laura C. Harris, Danny Gavigan, Christopher Scheeren, Andy Brownstein, Bradley Smith, Steve Wannall, Nanette Savard, Diedra Starnes, Rex Anderson, Andy Clemence, Joe Brack, Jonathon Church, Rebecca Sheir, Daniel Sonntag, Joel David Santner, Eric Singdahlsen, Jonathan Watkins, Matthew Keenan, David Harris and Thomas Keegan

“The Ultimates: Against All Enemies” Official Premise: Stark Industries has developed a technology to detect the alien Chitauri using on-the-spot DNA screening. The American defence department intends to make the technology widely available, but someone in the government puts a stop to it. Captain America sees the government’s suppression of the Stark technology as evidence that the people making such decisions are themselves compromised. Using as his model Franklin D. Roosevelt’s executive orders during World War II, he begins to gather power to himself and those Ultimates and government officials sympathetic to his authoritarian approach so that power can be concentrated in the hands of those capable of taking quick and decisive action. Hank Pym, who desperately wants back on the Ultimates team, has been feverishly working with his ants in the hopes of finding something that will help defeat the Chitauri. When his ants attack one of his research assistants, who turns out to be a Chitauri, Captain America resolves his differences with Pym and the new team begins work on what they call Operation High Hopes.

Graphic Novel Review “Castle: Richard Castle’s Unholy Storm”

Author: Cullen Bunn
Series: Castle: Derrick Storm
Hardcover: 112 pages
Publisher: Marvel
Release Date: May 13, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

When I started watching “Castle” in 2009, I would have thought that it would have still be going so strong now 5 years later. The show just got renewed for a second season. There has been seven (with two more on the way) novels released which were spin off from the show’s characters Nikki Heat and Derrick Storm, as well as three e-books for Derrick Storm. Then I haven’t even gotten to the graphic novels yet. There been “Richard Castle’s Deadly Storm”, “Richard Castle’s Storm Season” and “Richard Castle’s A Calm Before Storm” released in comic book form. I swear every time I think about it I just get so excited with the success that this show has had. “Richard Castle’s Unholy Storm” is the latest graphic novel release based on the series and it is easily one of the best yet.

Official Premise: The best-selling graphic novel saga, based on the world of ABC’s hit prime-time series, continues! Derrick Storm is back. And he has a new, deadly case to solve. When the daughters of four high-powered international businessmen are discovered dead in NY, the NYPD scrambles to bring the murderer to justice. But when a fifth girl is found mutilated in a pool of her own blood, her prestigious French family hires Derrick Storm to run his own investigation and find the real killer. Storm has only one lead – a strange symbol drawn in blood. Storm enlists the help of the beautiful and daring Clara Strike, his CIA handler. Together they uncover a deep web of deception under the guise of mysticism and devotion. And in a race against time, this most unlikely pair unlock a mystery capable of creating global catastrophe!

Ever since I read the three e-books focusing on the character of Derrick Storm, I have been hooked. I love his smart ass attitude and wit. He also proves himself to be extremely sharp as well. I love the style for these graphic novels. I have always had a picture of Derrick Storm in my head and these illustrators completely nailed it. He is ruggedly handsome like you would expect and his CIA operative Strike is drawn quite voluptuous, as you would expect in a graphic novel aimed for guys. Throw in a little spy/detective work and some zombies/vampires and you have me hooked. My only complaint with this release is that I want more and I really don’t want to wait till next year for the next graphic novel. Luckily, we have never episodes of “Castle” and Nikki Heat’s latest novel with “Raging Heat” this ” September.

Vlad Yudin talks about graphic novel “Headsmash” and film “Generation Iron”

Vlad Yudin is a Russian born writer, director, producer, who started his film career with films as “Big Pun: The Legacy”, and “The Last Day of Summer” which starred Nikki Reed of “Twilight fame”, and DJ Qualls from “Road Trip”.  Vlad has just made his move in to the realm of graphic novels with his book “Headsmash”.  A story of betrayal and revenge set in a fictional yet violent world. Media Mikes caught up with Vlad after his successful appearance at this year’s New York Comic Con to discuss the book as well as some of his other current projects.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on “Headsmash”?
Vlad Yudin: “Headsmash” is the story of a young orphan super sent to live in the worst orphanage in this fictional which is run by various mod syndicates with the largest one being the Horde. The Horde has infiltrated every aspect of the city and has pretty much control of everything. Smash ends up being adopted by Maurice who is the head of the Horde and groomed to be one of the group’s top lieutenants. While out on a mission Smash is attacked and basically left for dead. Upon surviving the attack and returning to the city Smash finds out that his wife has been taken along with their unborn son who plays an important role in the story. In order to save his family Smash starts taking this special serum which helps him on his quest for revenge.

AL: How did the idea for the book present itself?
VY: It was a combination of things. Sometimes when you start on a story you might have the basic story line happening and then you build in the characters and other times you have a character in which the story is centered around. In this case we had the character of Smash so we constructed everything around him. Each twist the story takes is directly related to his character.

AL: The book has a trailer which is narrated by Bill Paxton. How did he become involved in the project?
VY: We did a three part prelude/trailer which sets up the story. One part talks of the prophecy, one part talks about the serum and the last talks about Maurice and Smash’s relationship. Bill narrated this story playing the character of Maurice. Bill Paxton is an amazing actor and it was really cool to bring him in to this role as a villain. I don’t think he is someone seen in this type of role. He has this great voice and did a really great job. Bill got in to the character and took it very seriously which was great to see.

AL: Can you tell us about the talks of this story becoming a film?
VY: We have just finished writing the screen play version. The story is going to be pretty much the same but there were a few things that we need to adapt to make it work on screen. We are taking our time with and hope to have it into production sometime next year.

AL: Do you find any similarities between graphic novel writing and script writing?
VY: Yes. When you create a graphic novel you essentially are creating story boards. You have to take in consideration the shot in the same you do when you are working off a shot list for a film. The way you construct a scene before its captured on film is very similar to how you would when writing a graphic novel.

AL: Can you tell us about some of the other projects you have in the works?
VY: I am happy to say that our film “Generation Iron” which is a film about modern day body building is currently playing in theaters both here in the States and also in Canada. This film is basically the follow up to the 1975 film “Pumping Iron” which was produced Jerome Gary who also produced this new film. The film is doing great and I hope people continue to go see it.

Jason Brubaker talks about his graphic novel “reMIND” and “Kung Fu Panda 3”

Jason Brubaker is a visual development artist at Dreamworks Animation. He spends his free time though making graphic. In fact, he, at the time, had the highest funded graphic novel at more than $95,000 called “reMIND” and “reMIND, Vol.2”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Jason about his graphic novels and his work on the upcoming “Kung Fu Panda 3”.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about the origin of “reMIND”?
Jason Brubaker: That’s a long story. It started out as a song that my friend and I wrote about a cat that would always come and hang out at our apartment all day. The song spawned ideas of a music video which I storyboarded. At the time my job was a storyboard artist so that was just how I thought. I storyboarded a rough concept of a cat building a robot suit and teleporting to an underwater Lizard world to fight a Lizard King with a toaster. Yeah, it’s weird but I really wanted to learn to animate so I thought this would be a good place to start. Years later after spending all my free time animating clips for this music video about a cat, I started getting animation jobs. The project was never going to get finished because every time I saw dramatic improvement in my animation ability I would reanimate entire scenes and it became a mess. At the end of 8 years I only had about 3 minutes of animation that I liked and a story that had no ending. Eventually I scrapped the idea to make a graphic novel. I pretty much just started from scratch and threw out years of stuff that just didn’t work but the design of Victuals, the robot suit and the lighthouse were pretty much untouched. I figured out a complete story to tell and the characters finally clicked into place.

MG: Tell us about some of your major influences for these graphic novels?
JB: Victuals was loosely based on the cat that would wonder into our apartment long ago and Sonja was loosely based on my wife. I’m not sure either look or act like my characters though. So I guess you could say they are VERY loosely based on them. I’ve always loved stories with really strong female characters much like Miyazaki’s work and I was hoping to get that same sort of feeling that Miyazaki’s movies always give me. Chris Bachalo (more of his old stuff), Joshua Middleton and Christian Schellewald are the big influences right now.

MG: Are you surprised by success of Kickstarter?
JB: Yes, very much. In fact I still don’t understand how it made as much money as it did.

MG: What was your biggest challenge with “reMind Vol.2” compared to the 1st volume?
JB: The biggest challenge with Volume 2 was just sitting down to put in the work. I was so busy fulfilling orders and keeping up the online hype for the first book that I didn’t have time to make any progress on the second one. Eventually I had to just lock myself into a room and turn off all communication in order to get it finished in a reasonable amount of time.

MG: Take us through your day to day work with Dreamworks Animation; what are you currently working on with them?
JB: At Dreamworks, I’m working on “Kung Fu Panda 3” as a Visual Development Artist. I pretty much just paint pictures all day on the computer in Photoshop. Sometimes I need to make a 3D model so everyone can look at a set from any angle they want to decide what will work best. Sometimes I have to paint “color keys” and sometimes I just create simple props. It’s a pretty fun job because I get to work on many visual aspects of a large production.

MG: Tell us what you have planned next after “reMind”?
JB: Honestly, up until a few months ago I would have told you about my big comic plans for the future but at this time in my life I don’t really know what is going to be next. I might take a break from starting a new comic because I have a few other ideas that I feel are important to me now. But for the time I’ll just have to keep it vague.

David Lloyd reflects on his work illustrating “V for Vendetta” graphic novel

David Lloyd is known best for his work illustrating “V for Vendetta” graphic novel and working with Alan Moore.  David recently attending the 2012 New York Comic Con to promote this latest project called “Aces Weekly”, which is an exclusively weekly comic art magazine.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with David about his work on “V for Vendetta”, how it is still relevant today and his inspiration.

Mike Gencarelli: Where did you pull the inspiration for your illustrations on the “V for Vendetta”?
David Lloyd: If you mean the look of the character – the idea of making him a kind of resurrection of Guy Fawkes — it’s because it fit into what we needed for the character beyond his basic form as an urban guerrilla fighting a fascist tyranny. We needed a colorful eccentric look because that’s what makes attractive and fascinating characters in most mainstream comics. And he was a character branded a villain by history who was, however, a hero to his cause as many branded as villains by history were. A good man and a bad man at once. If you mean the style of the art – it was a simple choice because of the subject – it was about a stark, bleak future, so I chose a stark, bleak style of art. But it was influenced by seeing Jim Steranko’s Chandler and the work of someone who was a great inspiration to me and a friend who actually helped me on some of V – Tony Weare – a master of light and shade.

MG: You worked with Alan Moore on “Doctor Who” prior to this, how was the collaboration in comparison on “V for Vendetta”?
DL: Well, the difference was that we had full control and we could do what we liked on Vendetta, whereas the Doc Who mag stuff was work for hire. But our working relationship was as good. We were on the same wavelength creatively – influenced by many of the same books, tv, movies. And V was also produced at a very slow pace in the early days – 6-8 pages a month = allowing us time to experiment, think, talk, plan and have creative accidents that made it a very organic object, not planned out from the beginning but made up as we went along – like good jazz : )

MG: V is such an iconic character; if there is ever a comic convention he is always present. Why do you think he resonates so much with the fans?
DL: A colorful and admirable fighter for freedom against the tyranny of cultural and political oppression and repression who also happens to be a mad genius. It’s not rocket science… : ) Alan produced something very profound as well as a great adventure. It’s a classic of great storytelling with an important message for everyone – hang onto your individuality at all costs.

MG: How do you feel that the story was translated into the 2007 film?
DL: I see it as another version. In an ideal world it would have been nice for it to be exactly as the original, but a Hollywood movie has so many needs to fulfill – I’m glad it was as good as it was. There are great performances in it and it’s a powerful movie, and the Washowski bros and James McTiegue did a great job that in other hands could have been disastrous. And most importantly the central message of the book is right in there and has been spread to a much wider audience than might ever have heard it via the graphic novel alone.

MG: How do you feel that the comic genre is changing with now digital being so popular?
DL: Depends what is done with it. It’ll change depending on what the audience for them decide they want out of the techniques being used on them. I don’t like motion comics as we understand the term but I’m sure something creative and aesthetically satisfying can be done with the medium and some kind of movement. The digital comics myself and Bambos Georgiou, my collaborator on the project, are presenting via Aces Weekly are not digital in any sense other than they’re just fantastic art and storytelling on screen instead of the page. And they look beautiful and jewel-like!

MG: Who are some of your mentors and favorite artists?
DL: I was given a little book called The Observers Book of Painting, which had reproductions of the great masters. One of them was Turner’s ‘ Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus ‘ , which I managed to get a print of, and which remained on my bedroom wall for years – even during the ‘ film poster wallpaper ‘ period of my teenage years. It was the atmosphere made from light, that impressed me most with Turner – and Rembrandt was on the same team. Then Millais for his extraordinary photo-realist work allied to amazing lighting effects, Geoff Campion – he drew ‘ Texas Jack’ in one the English weeklies, Steve Dowling, who created the newspaper strip ‘ Garth ‘ – the first British superhero ( not Marvelman ), Giles – an English political cartoonist, whose work was an extraordinary blend of the realistic and the cartoony, George Woodbridge and Jack Davis in Mad magazine – loved their work so much, of daffy dogs and gunfighters, that I did tracings of them and hung them on the wall ; little, b/w reprints of US comic book stories, packaged in the UK under the titles – ‘ Mystic’ and ‘ Spellbound ‘, Wally Wood, Orson Welles, H.G.Wells, Ray Harryhausen – ‘ The 7th Voyage of Sinbad ‘, Ron Embleton, Rod Serling, Ian Fleming, Mickey Spillane, Robert McGinnis, Josh Kirby – who painted covers for a series of sf paperbacks ( some time before he did Pratchett stuff ) including some for… Ray Bradbury ; then there was Richard Matheson, Robert Bloch, Robert Sheckley, H.P.Lovecraft, Don Medford, Don Siegel, Alfred Hitchcock, Boris Sagal, Terence Fisher, Ron Cobb – of Famous Monsters of Filmland, Frank Frazetta, John Burns, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, Frank Bellamy, Al Williamson, the EC crowd, Tony Weare, the early Warren crowd, Gray Morrow, Toth, Torres, Jim Steranko. Steve Ditko astounded me with his work on Amazing Adult Fantasy, which was the most consistently powerful, individualistic and atmospheric comic book work I’d seen to that date. I tried to draw like Ditko. I tried to draw folds in clothing like he did, but couldn’t because I knew practically nothing about the way people were put together at that time. At around the same period, I saw the work of the great English strip illustrator, Ron Embleton, on the first series of Wrath of the Gods – as I mentioned earlier – a centre spread in Boy’s World, in which the use of black shadow, expert pen work, and rich colors, collaborated with faultless draughtsmanship, to produce the single most impressive piece of work I have ever seen in this area of craft.  Amazing Spiderman appeared then. Then the Fantastic Four and Kirby/Lee – those fantastic, overblown, revolutionary, soap opera-style epics that had to be tracked down issue by issue through the various stores in my neighborhood  cos we had unreliable distribution of US comic books in England. Dr Strange. The EC guys came after that through the Ballantine books – you know the names – and not just the smooth guys. Al Feldstein’s work looked like he cut it out of pieces of wood – but it was extraordinary. Then I got the early Warrens. Even better. Bigger. More of it. FRAZETTA. UNBELIEVABLE COVERS. Blazing Combat. Gray Morrow on ‘ The Long View ‘. REED CRANDALL. ALEX TOTH. Too much. But not enough. Never enough. Then, when I was at the studio, I saw a newspaper strip called ‘ The Seekers ‘, which was drawn by a guy called John Burns. I thought he was American cos I didn’t think an English artist could draw in such a smooth, cool way – like Alex Raymond but with more realism. He took risks which worked – he drew water solid black, and minimalised it into a design element. He was totally in control. A master. Tony Weare was drawing another newspaper strip – a western called ‘ Matt Marriott ‘ – which was all done with one brush, it seemed, and looked lazy but wasn’t, and largely depended on shadow for delineation of figures and objects. All of all of that, and more I could list, helped me.

MG: Do you feel that your style has changed over the years?
DL: Well, other than from early days of learning, no. But then I don’t think I have a style that is a fixed thing to grow or not. I’ve chosen different ways of drawing using different tools on many subjects that demanded a variety of approaches. Sure there’s a core personality to it and to me as a creator – but a set ‘ style ‘ ? I don’t think so – though of course because I’m known principally for V many folks think of me in that context and no other.

MG: Tell us about your recent work with Aces Weekly?
DL: An EXCLUSIVELY digital weekly comic art magazine – not previewed for print – which I am publishing. You get this and only get this by subscribing and it’s delivered to you at the touch of a button every week to iPad, tablet and any computer anywhere as long as you’re connected to the net. It has up to 30 pages including extras of story and art every week featuring 6 continuing stories that run through 7 issues making a volume of up to 210 pages. And it’s a steal at just $9.99 for 7 weeks of some of the finest talent in comic art from me, Steve Bissette, John McCrea, Phil Hester, David Hitchcock, Mark Wheatley, Yishan Li, Bill Sienkiewicz, Colleen Doran, Herb Trimpe, Dylan Teague… and many more. We go straight from the creator to the buyer. No expenses on printing, distribution, warehousing, retail, and no barriers to sale. We have an international team of creators and we can sell internationally to anyone reading English. But we’re new and we need lots of subscriptions to thrive. So please help us spread the word : )

Book Review “Gonzo: A Graphic Biography of Hunter S. Thompson”

Author(s): Will Bingley, Anthony Hope-Smith
Paperback: 180 pages
Publisher: Abrams
Release Date: April 1, 2012

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I have been fascinated with Hunter S. Thompson’s work for many years. He has such a unique perspective on the world and will not be able to be replaced by anyone. This book is really an amazing look into this life from the birth of Gonzo Journalism to “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” to his sad death. If you are a fan of HST, this is an much purchase.

By the way, did I mention it is actually an illustration biography. Thanks to the amazing illustrations of Anthony Hope-Smith, HST’s life to death is presented to you in this wonderful format. The book itself is presented in soft cover and its pages compliment the very crisp and sharp illustrations very well. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this biography but it was very intimate and enjoyable. I recommend this graphic illustration very highly.

This book is one of those books that you just have to revisit over and over. I have a feeling as well, I will be passing this book around to many of my friends to enjoy as well. Be sure to check out the beautiful and honest foreword from HST’s editor Alan Rinzler. Lastly, I commend Abrams for publishing this fantastic book and I would love to see future volumes like these as well. I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Hunter S. Thompson “No sympathy for the Devil, keep that in mind.  Buy the ticket, take the ride”.

Book Review “Watching the Watchmen: The Definitive Companion to the Ultimate Graphic Novel”

Author: Dave Gibbons, Chip Kidd, Mike Essl
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: October 21, 2008

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I have been a huge “Watchmen” fan dating back to the original graphic novels. When the film came out, which I LOVED, I felt like it literally jumped off the pages of the novel. This is the ultimate visual companion to the amazing graphic novels. You know that this book is going to get some love since it is authored by award-winning artist of the “Watchmen” series Dave Gibbons. We get a chance to dive into his profound personal archives. It is really a must own for all fans of the series, no questions.

It is really rare that you are given this candid of a look into new material. I mean you feel like you are sitting looking through Gibbons’ personal diary. Fans of this series you are going to flip out with the reveal of never-published pages, original character designs, page thumbnails, sketcher, alternate posters, covers and rare portfolio art. The detail in the image are just so crystal clear and high quality. It is the kind of book that you are going to look through and then read it completely and then look through it again.

This book had a lot of love put into it and you can tell. With a series like “Watchmen” it has a very loyal fan base and it’s obvious that Gibbons is a really big fan himself. Props need to also go to Chip Kidd and Mike Essl for some amazing design in this book as well. Props should go to Titans Books for continuing supporting this series and releasing book after amazing book keeping this series alive and continuing to deliver new and exciting release to their fans.