Michele Brittany, Fanbase Press Editorials Manager

Michele Brittany, Fanbase Press Editorials Manager

‘Rise #1-5:’ Comic Book Review

Last summer at San Diego Comic-Con International, I met artist Don Aguillo while he was signing copies of The Sequels written by Norm Harper (Rikki) and published by Fanbase Press. At the time, Don shared some pages from his portfolio which gave me an inkling to his incredible skill as an artist.  So, I jumped at the opportunity to review the first five issues of his series, Rise, published by Scout Comics.

In his introduction, writer/translator Zack Davisson discusses the accidental beginnings of the feline character, Michael, who appeared in a How to Draw Manga instructional guide by Makoto Kobayashi in 1982.  The cute feline was a departure for Kobayashi who had been writing/illustrating sports-oriented stories targeting young boys.  His editor knew that Michael was special and, as a result, the What’s Michael? series was born.

In 2018, comic book readers were introduced to a squad of feline warriors in a new series titled Battlecats from the Miami-based independent comic book publisher Mad Cave Studios.  The medieval fantasy epic story was continued in a second story arc last year, and, this week, the first issue of Battlecats: Tales of Valderia takes readers back to the beginning, to the reign of King Eramad I.  Scheduled for four issues, these prequel stories will be written and illustrated by a variety of creators who will help shape the world of Valderia.

Wardens of Eternity is a new Young Adult novel by Courtney Moulton that released this week from HarperCollins.  Moulton is an author of fantasy novels beginning with Angelfire in 2011 and followed up with three sequels.  

In the past, my interaction with comics had been limited.  As a child, I read Casper and Richie Rich for a brief period of time to overcome reading challenges I was experiencing, but, once my reading improved, I was off reading books, and comics became a distant memory rather than an integral part of childhood experience; however, working with comics over the past handful of years, I came to the realization that as a (film) historian, it had become my passion to better understand the intricacies of this visual medium, its history, and its impact on popular culture.  Why?  Because I wanted to engage with sequential art as a more informed and well-read individual.  

Stan Lee worked in the comic book industry since the late 1930s and was integral to the evolution of Marvel Comics and the “Marvel Style.”  For seventy years, he was a writer and editor who co-created the Mighty Marvel Universe, including fan favorites Spider-Man, The Avengers, and the Incredible Hulk.  Lee worked with many rising stars and established creators over the decades, endowing him with invaluable knowledge about the industry.  As a veteran and legend, Lee shared his experience in a series of books that includes Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics, Stan Lee’s How to Write Comics, and Stan Lee’s How to Draw Superheroes.  And, last month, the fourth book of the series, Stan Lee’s Master Class, was released by Watson-Guptill (Penguin Random House).  

“Fundamental Comics,” a monthly editorial series that introduces readers to comics, graphic novels, and manga that have been impactful to the sequential art medium and the comic book industry on a foundational level.  Each month, a new essay will examine a familiar or less-known title through an in-depth analysis, exploring the history of the title, significant themes, and context for the title’s popularity since it was first released.

My fandom for all things Witcher began in 2009 with game developer CD Projekt RED’s announcement that they were developing a new game, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, based on stories written by a Polish economist, Andrzej Sapkowski.  I was immediately fascinated by this new character, Geralt of Rivia, who was appealing as a protagonist due to his highly ethical stance towards others despite his detached nature.  Geralt was unique; he went through a painful bodily transformation.  Though still a man, his senses were mutated and heightened making him a perfect paid hunter of monsters that populated his world.  As a sword-for-hire, he was often feared and hated.  Hence, a complex character was introduced to American audiences through CD Projekt RED’s video games and Dark Horse Comics’ Witcher series of stories.

The long-awaited second volume of Eisner-nominated artist Gou Tanabe’s adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness will release this week from Dark Horse Comics.  The two-volume series was originally published by Kadokawa Corporation in 2016-2017 and is not Tanabe’s first foray into Lovecraft or literary adaptations.  In 2014, Tanabe adapted and illustrated Lovecraft’s 1921 short story, “The Outsider,” and The Hound and Other Stories in 2017.  The artist has also adapted stories by Maxim Gorky, Anton Chekhov, and Garon Tsuchiya.

I feel that when I’ve done my job correctly, my contribution should be invisible. – Terry Austin

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