Indie Cover Spotlight: Cory Doctorow’s Futuristic Tales of The Here and Now #5

While originally slated to adapt just one of Cory’s short stories for this IDW mini-series, I ended up getting a third issue due to IDW Editor in Chief Chris Ryall’s busy schedule (he had planned on adapting this story himself). So issue #5 became mine, adapting “I,Robot” (Cory’s version, not Asimov’s)

CoryDoctorow5

As per the previous issue, this one featured another top talent doing the cover: Ashley Wood. Interior art was by Erich Owen, and it shipped in February, 2008.

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    Indie Cover Spotlight: Cory Doctorow’s Futuristic Tales of The Here and Now #3

    After turning in the script for issue #1 (Anda’s Game), IDW liked my work enough to offered me another one of Cory’s short stories: Craphound.

    CoryDoctorow3

    This time, one of my all-time favorite creators was on cover duty: Paul Pope.

    Paul Friggin’ Pope, covering my second ever paying gig. The book shipped in December, 2007, which made it a great Christmas present for me.

    And the interior art was by British artist Paul McCaffrey, which was a joy to behold:

    Craphound-p2-lo-res-749454

    Next: I,Robot.

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      Indie Cover Spotlight: Cory Doctorow’s Futuristic Tales of The Here and Now #1

      In honor of my own birthday, I’m going to be completely self-serving by spotlighting my own comics all week on ICS, specifically my first professional paying gig: the IDW adaptation of Cory Doctorow’s short stories in comic book form.

      After the publication of my Lifelike graphic novel, Chris Ryall at IDW called me up and asked if I would be interested in adapting Doctorow’s short story “Anda’s Game” for their new limited series. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity! Imagine my delight when I found out that the cover to the first issue was by none other than the great Sam Kieth:

      CoryDoctorow1

      The book came out in 2007, and featured interior art by Esteve Polls. I had a chance to communicate with Cory via email and ask him a few questions about what he considered the emotional beats of the story, since there’s always some amount of cutting that needs to happen when adapting prose into comics. He was very gracious with his time, and even more accommodating by telling me that he wanted me to put my mark on the adaptation, and not follow any instructions from him. When the book came out, he was equally pleasant in his positive review of it.

      Next: Craphound.

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        Review: Fishtown

        I like a good crime story now and then, especially in graphic novel format. Brubaker and Rucka have done some great ones, and I dug a lot of the entries in Vertigo’s line of crime books. This book – which started out as a Xeric award winning webcomic – is about 4 teenagers who murder another teen, for no real reason. I picked it up for cheap at Half Price Books, based solely on the interesting looking artwork and nice packaging. Well, the gamble didn’t pay off.

        I really, really disliked this book.

        kevincoldenfishtowncover

        The main problem I had with the story is that the characters are all unlikable. No, strike that, they’re plain detestable. And there’s not much else to it than that. A bunch of vile assholes committing a horrific crime. The end.

        There’s no depth to the events surrounding the crime. No exploration of the “why” of the crime. No insightful look at the lives of the perpetrators, other than a few pages of lip service paid to the broken domestic situation of a couple of them. And I do mean a couple pages out of over a 100. It’s not enough to make you have even a sliver of empathy or sympathy for the characters. Oh, and the sole female in the group is the most messed-up, manipulative, evil one of them all, even though you’re never shown what in her upbringing led to that. So basically you’re presented with a series of gruesome images of a hateful crime, as narrated by a bunch of unrepentant, despicable teens. The end.

        Joy.

        fishtown03

        The artwork is definitely the stronger craft shown here. It’s fairly solid, though at times it’s hard to distinguish between some of the characters. I did like the aesthetic of the art presentation, done in monochromatic yellow. But that’s about it.

        There is skill in Colden’s storytelling, but the story itself is vile, nihilistic, and in my opinion, pointless.

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          Interview with artist Salgood Sam

          The Robot 6 blog at Comic Book Resources has a nice, in-depth interview with one of my former collaborators, artist Salgood Sam. He talks a lot about his early days in the industry, as well as his process and philosophical approach to making comics. And he had some nice words to say about working with yours truly:

          I’ve seen you do work-for-hire work recently like the recent Ghostbusters comic for IDW, so you’re not completely against work-for-hire. Has the system changed for you, or was that project more on your terms?

          Yes. It was a bad time economically so was happy to have paying work of any kind too. But it was Ghostbusters! I loved the original films. I was looking for work, the Great Recession hit me pretty hard. Called them and they suggested I might fit with Dara Naraghi on it and luckily I liked the script a lot. Light stuff, a Valentine’s special. But solid, and Zeddemore gets the girl! Drew the Ecto-1 and designed a new type of proton pack! That was a kick.

          Here’s the cover of our comic:

          And here’s a sample page:

          Funny anecdote: I wanted to write a Winston-centric story, and also give him a love interest. I figured this would be a chance to create a new minority character, even if it’s in a supporting role. Additionally, I wanted her to be very much a “regular” person, not an idealized comic book woman with 40DD boobs and a supermodel physique. After the book came out, I had a fan email me and take me to task for “taking the easy way out” by giving Winston an African American girlfriend. This person said something along the lines of “why not an interracial relationship, after all, it’s the 21st century.”

          I guess you can’t win for trying.

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            Indie Cover Spotlight: Lifelike

            This week, in honor of the over-hyped Comic-Con being over, I’m going to turn the spotlight on myself and do a bit of shameless self-promotion. Hey, it’s my blog…why not?

            To start off, here’s a look at the cover to my graphic novel, Lifelike:

            Lifelike started out as a webcomic, and is a collection of slice of life vignettes. In 2008, IDW published it as a deluxe hardcover with slipcase. It’s a book I’m immensely proud of. I got to collaborate with 11 different artists for the 14 stories in the collection, and I hope there’s enough diversity in the book to appeal to most readers. The cover is a collage of the works of Tom Williams, Irapuan Luiz, mp mann, and Adrian Barbu.

            By the way, if you’re interested, you can pick up this 108 page, full-color graphic novel in digital format for a mere $2.99. Read it on your iPad, Kindle, Nook, Android tablet, or computer.

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              IDW pitch: Ghostbusters

              Unlike my DC pitch for Blue Devil that never went anywhere, this one had a fairly quick development process from pitch to final comic. Back in the summer of 2008, IDW’s Editor in Chief, Criss Ryall, asked me to pitch them a Ghostbusters mini series. I put together something that was probably a bit too esoteric, and sure enough, Sony (the license holders) didn’t much care for it, so they passed. So it goes.

              Fast forward about a year later and I noticed IDW had solicited a one-shot Ghostbusters Christmas Special. That got me thinking, and I fired off this short email to Chris in September, 2009:

              “Hi Chris,

              I noticed that there’s a Ghostbusters Christmas special one-shot being offered. It made me wonder if you guys have plans for any more such issues? If so, I’ve got an idea for a Valentine’s Day one-shot I’d like to pitch to you.

              Best,
              Dara “

              The good news? Chris liked the idea and planned on doing a few more holiday-themed one-shots to eventually collect into a TPB. The bad news? I had no story idea! I was pretty much bluffing, just testing the waters. But no worries, nothing like a real deadline to get the creative juices flowing. I came up with an idea in a few days, and sent in the following pitch:

              *Spoiler Warning* – If you haven’t read the comic yet, you may not want to read the summary below.

              Ghostbusters

              Proposal for a Valentine’s Day one-shot by Dara Naraghi

              At a Glance

              At Winston’s request, the Ghostbusters attempt to capture an obsessed, love-struck ghost haunting the home of Tiyah, an attractive woman he befriended on a recent case. However, when the ghost proves to be more trouble than the team expected, it’s Winston’s courage and common sense that save the day, leading to a romantic date with Tiyah.

              Plot Summary

              At a fancy hotel ballroom being decorated for an upcoming Valentine’s Day gala, the Ghostbusters fight a prohibition-era ghost attempting to enact its own “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre”. While taking a break after the ghost’s capture, Winston befriends Tiyah, one of the banquet hall’s employees. She describes her own troubles with a ghost, but confesses she doesn’t have the funds to hire the team.

              Peter agrees to accompany Winston to Tiyah’s apartment for a pro bono investigation, though Venkman’s motives have more to do with hitting on the attractive woman than performing ghostbusting services. They are both surprised by the sheer malevolence of the ghost, but afterwards Peter comments that although hostile to them, the ghost seemed protective of Tiyah.

              Back at the firehouse, Ray begins investigating the history of the apartment, while Egon creates modified proton packs designed to create less property damage (though it also leaves them less effective). Working together, the team surmises that the ghost belongs to a prominent man who was dumped quite publically by his girlfriend in that apartment generations ago. It has since become romantically obsessed with the female residents, lashing out jealously towards any male visitors.

              The team’s attempt to capture the ghost at Tiyah’s apartment proves to be too challenging, however, owing to the weakened proton packs and the ghost’s sheer obsessed will power. And while Peter, Ray, and Egon’s scientific strategies prove fruitless, it’s Winston’s everyman common sense that saves the day. He confronts the ghost unarmed, and has a no-nonsense man-to-man talk to it about accepting and “getting over” his romantic loss. At Winston’s proclamation that there are plenty of other fish in the sea “on the other side”, the ghost accepts his fate and dissolves away.

              The epilogue of the story focuses on some character moments:

              • Peter finally manages a date for Valentine’s Day…by duping an attractive young reporter into interviewing him over dinner.
              • Ray and Egon have a “date with science” as they analyze the curiosities of this most recent case.
              • Winston is invited to a home-cooked meal at Tiyah’s apartment as a gesture of her gratitude, and shares a romantic kiss with her in the closing panel.

              Chris really liked the script, and even commented “You write a good Peter,” which sounds vaguely dirty. The folks at Sony were also cool with it, and only sent one note back on it:

              “The part where Winston is able to talk the ghost into giving up seems a little too convenient–his common sense notwithstanding! Will it be something like the malevolent ghost is really a big bully who just wants a friend, type of thing–and only Winston picks up on that? Or will it be more like Winston just decides to walk into the lion’s den and tames the lion?”

              I wrote a short email, clarifying my intentions about the scene, and we got the green light from Sony. Chris asked me to propose several possible subtitles for the one-shot, and this is the short list I came up with:

              • St. Valentine’s Day Massive Scare
              • Green With Envy
              • Thugs and Kisses
              • Tainted Love
              • Ghost of a Romance
              • Love is Dead

              Chris liked “Tainted Love,” and the project was in full swing. Final script was due in a month from that point, and IDW picked Canadian indie artist Salgood Sam to draw the book, with a variant cover down by Nick Runge. Another famous Canuck indie artist, Bernie Mirault, provided the colors

              Regular cover art by Salgood Sam

              Variant cover art by Nick Runge

              The book was published February, 2010. Here’s the official solicitation copy, as well as a preview:

              Ghostbusters Holiday Special: Tainted Love
              FC • one-shot • 32 pages • $3.99
              Dara Naraghi (w) • Salgood Sam (a) • Salgood Sam, Nick Runge (c)
              Love is in the air—literally!—as Winston befriends an attractive woman with a ghostly problem in her apartment. But trapping the love-struck apparition proves to be more complicated than the Ghostbusters originally thought. Can Winston step up and save the day? Just how far will Peter go to find a date? And do Ray and Egon ever stop to think about girls, or is it always about trans-dimensional ectoplasmic anomolies with those two?

              The comic itself is sold out, but you can find it collected with several other one-shots (including one written by Peter David) in the Ghostbusters: Haunted Holidays TPB.

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                Indie Cover of the Day: Zombies! Hunters #1

                OK, I went a whole week without any self-serving posts in this feature, but what the heck, it’s my blog after all. So today’s featured cover(s) are for a limited series I wrote for IDW Publishing back in 2008, when my professional career was just starting out:

                Both the regular cover (left) and variant cover (right) were by the interior artist Don Figueroa.

                Here’s the official solicitation for the 5 issue limited series:

                “On a remote Caribbean island, four wealthy thrill-seekers come to stalk the most dangerous game on the planet: the living dead. But with an ex-CIA commander as the showrunner and a Haitian voodoo priest providing the prey, things on this outlaw safari are bound to go wrong. Very wrong! Don Figueroa (Transformers) steps away from robots and gets his hands dirty by handling full art chores on this new series penned by Dara Naraghi (Lifelike, Igor Movie Prequel).”

                Unfortunately, due to a confluence of events, the series was cancelled after issue #1. Too bad. I was actually having a lot of fun writing it, despite the fact that I’m not a big horror/zombie fan. Oh well, so it goes.

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                  Witch & Wizard: Battle for Shadowland

                  Released in October 2010, the hardcover collection of my Witch & Wizard: Battle for Shadowland debuted at #4 on the New York Times Best Sellers List (Hardcover Graphic).

                  It was also #9 on Amazon.com’s best selling graphic novels. Now, I know that the popularity is based on the James Patterson name recognition, but hey, I’ll take it. It’s good practice for when one of my own creations eventually makes it to the top of the sales charts.

                  Collecting the 4-issue limited series from IDW Publishing, Battle for Shadowland is an original story based on the characters and settings from James Patterson’s young adult novel, Witch & Wizard. The story takes place between books 1 and 2 of the prose series.

                  “In a blink of an eye, their world has changed, with the oppressive New Order declaring all magic as evil incarnate! In this action-packed graphic novel spinning out of best-selling author James Pattersons’s #1 novel, sibling teenagers Whit & Wisty Allgood use their newly discovered magical powers to infiltrate into enemy territory of the New Order to gain control of the inter-dimensional Shadowland.”

                  The artwork is provided by talented Spanish artist, Victor Santos. I’ve had a blast working with Victor; his work is dynamic, fun, and full of energy. Here’s a look at his illustration for the cover of the trade paperback edition:

                  …and a page from the book, showing most of our main and supporting characters, starting with his pencils:

                  Followed by his inks:

                  And finally colored by Jamie Grant (All-Star Superman):

                  And given that IDW Publishing has fully embraced the digital distribution of comics, the book is also available through the Apple App Store for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and on the PSP through Sony’s Digital Comics storefront.

                  And finally, here’s a peek at an alternate cover for issue #2, courtesy of Brazilian artist Fabio Moon. First, his concept sketch:

                  And next the finished cover:

                  You can purchase a copy through any book store, comic shop, or on Amazon.com

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