Sunday, April 24, 2011

Headshot by Matz & Colin Wilson heading to the screen with Stallone

Above: Characters from Bullet To The Head, as drawn by Colin Wilson and their actor counterparts: Sylvester Stallone & Thomas Jane.

Australian based NZ cartoonist Colin Wilson will soon see one of his comics come to life on the silver screen as Headshot, starring Sylvester Stallone.

Above: Colin Wilson artwork from Bullet To The Head. Copyright Dynamite Entertainment 2011.

Originally published in France as Du Plomb Dans La Tete, this crime noir has been recently translated to english by Dynamite Entertainment as Bullet to the Head. In February Wilson announced that Stallone was attached to the film adaptation via his blog, and since then the project appears be picking up stream, with principle photography due to start filming in Louisiana in July under the direction of legendary tough guy film-maker Walter Hill (The Warriors, Last Man Standing).

Above: Colin Wilson artwork from Bullet To The Head. Copyright Dynamite Entertainment 2011.

Colin shared more information recently with his fellow NZ cartoonists via the BRD Yahoo Group: "Yep, after a two year tortuous journey through developer hell, it looks like this one might actually go ahead. Stallone was linked to Headshot back in February, and the latest news I have is that Walter Hill is now onboard to direct. Although I haven't seen any of the films Hill has directed in the last few years, I couldn't be happier as The Long Riders was one of my favourite westerns back in the day. 48 Hours and The Warriors weren't too bad either..."

Above: The cover of the french edition of Du Plomb Dans La Tete. Copyright Casterman 2011.

"None of the various comic sites I visit these days seem to have picked up that Headshot is based on Du Plomb Dans La Tete, a three book series Matz and I did for Casterman in France a few years ago. I guess we didn't make it easy, as an English translation was published earlier this year by Dynamite in the States as a six-issue mini-series - oddly titled Bullet To The Head (close to the French title, but Matz and I always preferred Headshot) - but the IMDb page for Headshot does credit Matz as the writer of the original graphic novels (using has real name). Co-writer of the excellent The Messenger (2009) Alessandro Camon is currently writing the screenplay, so I'm looking forward to seeing where this one goes."
Above: Colin Wilson artwork from Bullet To The Head. Copyright Dynamite Entertainment 2011.

I would say the fact the film has already locked down a director and start date for shooting is very positive news; and in the last week Stallone personally let slip to Ain't It Cool News that Thomas Jane (The Punisher and HBO's Hung) will be joining the cast. If all goes well we can hope to see this in cinemas sometime in 2012. Until then, make sure you check out Colin's excellent artwork in the Bullet To The Head collection available now before the movie hits!

Above: The cover of the english translation: Bullet To The Head. Copyright Dynamite Entertainment 2011.

Ben Stenbeck nominated for Eisner Award!

Above: Art from Baltimore: The Plague Ships, by Ben Stenbeck. Copyright Mike Mignola/Dark Horse Comics 2011.

This year's Eisner Award nominations were announced recently, and local comic artist
Ben Stenbeck is up for an award for his work collaborating with Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden. The comic series, Baltimore: The Plague Ships, written by Mike Mignola & Christopher Golden with art by Ben Stenbeck, is nominated for Best Limited Series.
Above: More Ben Stenbeck art from Baltimore: The Plague Ships. Copyright Mike Mignola/Dark Horse Comics 2011.

For the uninitiated, the Eisner Awards are basically the Oscars of the comics world, named after legendary cartoonist
Will Eisner. Eisner created The Spirit comic series and originated the graphic novel format with his landmark 1978 publication A Contract With God. Established in 1987, the Eisner Awards are presented annually at a ceremony as a part of the Comic-Con International Convention held in San Diego, California. To date, the only New Zealander to win an Eisner Award is Dylan Horrocks, for Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition in 2002. Roger Langridge has also been nominated for two Eisner Awards in the past for his outstanding work on Fred The Clown.

News of the series nomination had taken Stenbeck by surprise. "It was totally unexpected and its a huge honour just to be nominated. As cliche as that might sound, its the honest truth."

Ben had nothing but praise for his collaborators; "Working with Mike and Chris is great. I'm into my third book with Mike and I still get nervous whenever I talk to him over the phone. There's still a little voice in the back of my head yelling 'holy fuck it's Mike Mignola!' over and over. Chris is great to work with, he's very tolerant of me taking liberties with his scripts. And he's writing some fantastic lunatic stuff. I'm half way through the next series
Baltimore the Curse Bells that I think comes out in august. And then there's at least a few more (projects) lined up after that. I love doing this stuff, there isn't any other character around that Id rather draw. And I suck at drawing super heroes."

This winners will be announced at the Eisner Awards ceremony taking place on Friday July 22nd, at Comic-Con International in San Diego, California.
Baltimore: The Plague Ships will be collected in hardcover from Dark Horse Comics on June 21st.

Here at Earth's End we wish Ben the best of luck! For more on Ben Stenbeck's artwork and past projects, check out his official website HERE.

Above: The cover for the forthcoming hardcover collection of
Baltimore: The Plague Ships by Mike Mignola. Copyright Mike Mignola/Dark Horse Comics 2011.

Friday, April 15, 2011

EVENT: Auckland Writers & Readers Festival 2011: Graphic Novels, Comics & Cartoons

Above: The panel lineup from the left: Chris Slane, Dylan Horrocks, Ant Sang, Karen Healey and myself.

2011 has already proven itself to be a landmark year in New Zealand Comics publishing, with two graphic novels achieving wide release in bookstores and a growing host of great self-published comics becoming increasingly available through festival and expo distribution. With such a wealth of new material and increasing public interest in the graphic novel medium, it seemed only natural that a discussion on the subject would make a great addition to any literary celebration, and that's exactly what will be taking place next month at the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival 2011!

On Sunday 15th of May, I'll be hosting event #47 of the Festival: Graphic Novels, Comics & Cartoons, in which I'll be moderating a panel featuring some of the best cartoonist and writing minds in New Zealand: Dylan Horrocks, Chris Slane, Ant Sang and Karen Healey. We'll be discussing our love of this special medium, plus an exclusive illustrated look inside the process of comics creation and graphic novel writing, invaluable information for the aspiring cartoonist that you won't find anywhere else!

Tickets for this event are on sale now from THE EDGE Box Office on level 3 of the Aotea Centre in Auckland, or online at It's $20.00* for Earlybird pre-sales, or $25.00* after May 11th (*booking fees may also apply). For more information on this event, you can visit the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival page HERE.

Now for a brief biography of the featured writers:

He really needs no introduction at this point, Dylan is the author of the seminal graphic novel Hicksville. Universally praised by the international comics community upon it's release in 1998, it has only recently been published locally for the first time last year by Victoria University Press, insuring it's place as a contemporary classic of New Zealand literature.
He also spent several years of the last decade writing for DC Comics, putting the speech bubbles in the mouths of such well recognised characters as Batman, Batgirl, Supergirl, John Constantine, Tim Hunter and more. After his corporate comics experience he was happy to return to creating his own comics, which he currently publishes weekly through his website These include the two serials Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen and The American Dream.

Ant has long been a pillar of the Auckland comics community, producing one the best selling NZ comics series of all time, The Dharma Punks, which was published between 2001-03. It was this series that brought him to the attention of the producers of the animated TV series Bro'Town, who hired Ant as art director and production designer for the show, winning him several awards for his dedicated work. Earlier this year saw the release of his first original graphic novel Shaolin Burning from HarperCollins, a kung-fu infused meditation on revenge and destiny in ancient China. It was an instant hit upon release, making the top ten NZ Bestsellers fiction list four weeks running and the #1 book for it's publisher that month.

Chris is an award-winning cartoonist whose work has appeared in countless magazines and newspapers including: The Listener, The New Zealand Herald, Metro and many more. His editorial cartoons have won him the prestigious Qantas Cartoonist Of The Year award three times and the Qantas Editorial Graphics Artist Award twice. In the mid-nineties he produced arguably New Zealand's first original graphic novel Maui: Legends of the Outcast, with writer Robert Sullivan. Last month saw the release of his second graphic novel Nice Day For a War: Adventures of a Soldier in World War 1, co-authored with Matt Elliott from HarperCollins.

Karen is the author of the highly acclaimed novel Guardian of the Dead, a paranormal thriller heavily influenced by Māori mythology, which takes place in Christchurch, New Zealand. Her well received debut novel is a finalist for the American Library Association's prestigious William C. Morris Award. She is also the co-founder of the feminist comics website, and is currently writing a PhD on american superhero comics. Her next novel The Shattering, is due to be published by Allen & Unwin later this year.

Adrian Kinnaird

Well, if you are reading this, you know who I am ('Nuff said!).

The panel will run for 45 minutes of comics goodness, so don't delay and book your tickets today! It's probably also a good idea to read up on the main books which will be discussed at the panel, which are all available now from bookstores everywhere: Hicksville by Dylan Horrocks, Shaolin Burning by Ant Sang, Nice Day for a War by Chris Slane & Matt Elliott, and Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey. All the authors will be available to sign copies at the conclusion of the panel. I look forward to seeing you all there on the day!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Photorama: Armageddon Expo Wellington 2011

Above: The New Zealand Comics Creators stall, complete with new stock! Photo by Gijs Priegel. Copyright Gijs Priegel 2011.

Last weekend saw Wellington hosting it's annual Armageddon Expo, a week earlier than usual to fill the gap left by the cancelled Christchurch event. The Expo proved as popular as ever with a huge public showing of 15,000, filling the TSB Arena to capacity and causing the door sales to be closed over lunchtime to accommodate the massive crowd.

Above: The cover of Darkest Day: Comics for Christchurch. Copyright Funtime Comics 2011.

The New Zealand Comics Creators stand was certainly busy this year, boosted by the release of Darkest Day: Comics for Christchurch the Funtime anthology issue created to raise funds for the Christchurch Earthquake, with ALL proceeds going to the Red Cross. Signed copies of Ant Sang's recently released Shaolin Burning were also popular on the day. The final issue of Lee Yan Marquez's The Impostor series was also available and newcomer
Brendon Bennetts' The Tower graphic novel.

Here's some photos of the stand on the day, courtesy of Gijs Priegel:

Above: The set-up: from left to right: Lee Yan Marquez, Isaac Freeman and Brent Willis.

Above: Bristle editor Brent Willis in a pitch perfect cosplay as Tintin's Captain Haddock! (paging Peter Jackson!).

Above: From left to right: Isaac Freeman, Lee Yan Marquez, Brendon Bennetts and Brent Willis.

Remember, if you would like to get hold of a copy of Darkest Day: Comics for Christchurch for yourself, you can order it directly online HERE from the Funtime website.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

New NZ Comics Autumn Edition 2011

Above: The Impostor #3 by Lee Yan Marquez. Copyright Lee Yan Marquez 2011.

Out just in time for Wellington Armageddon Expo this weekend, are three new titles from some of our most reliable and hardworking cartoonists!

Lee Yan Marquez has completed the final part of her comic trilogy The Impostor, with #3 debuting at Armageddon. Sharply written and beautifully drafted, this thriller set in a totalitarian state comes to a riveting conclusion not to be missed! It's available from Wellington Armageddon Expo this weekend, but you can expect it to appear at Auckland comic shops soon after.

Above: Bristle #9 cover by Matt Kelly. Copyright Matt Kelly 2011.

The great Wellington anthology Bristle is back again for it's ninth issue, featuring stories by Renee Lyons, Brent Willis, Robyn E Kenally & Richard Whyte, Sarah Laing, Ari Freeman, Claire Harris, W-S C, Draw, Clive Townsend, Grant Buist and a various artists jam. Covered by Matt Kelly and a back cover is by M. Emery. You can pick it up at Armageddon this weekend, or you can also mail order it for $5 +postage from series editor Brent Willis at PO Box 27-258, Wellington.
Above: Blastosaurus April Fool's Special 2011. Copyright Richard Fairgray 2011.

And no Armageddon Expo would be complete without another Blastosaurus Special by Richard Fairgray and Terry Jones. This year it's an April Fools Special, complete with a misleading cover edition (and a thankfully 98% less Lloyd promise!). Richard tends to sell out of these at the Expo, so either pick one up from him this weekend or drop his website a line for inquiries about back issues.

And don't forget the newest issue of Funtime, Darkest Day: Comics for Christchurch. It's available now through Pay Pal at the Funtime website HERE. It's for a fantastic cause and is super-simple to purchase, so don't delay!

I'd suggest getting your hands on these new comics now while the sun is out, so you've got plenty of reading material to get you through those cold winter months.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Darkest Day: Comics For Christchurch

Above: The cover of 'Darkest Day: Comics For Christchurch'. Copyright Funtime Comics 2011.

On 22 February of this year, Christchurch was devastated by a massive earthquake, distorting the visage of this beloved New Zealand city forever. Close to two hundred people were killed, many CBD buildings were either destroyed or wreaked beyond repair, while outer suburbs were left without power, drinking water and sewerage systems. Over the last month the recovery process has begun, but progress is still slow and any extra assistance is still greatly appreciated.

Isaac Freeman, editor of the long-running Christchurch Comics Collective,
Funtime, has lived through both quakes and wasted no time in assembling some of New Zealand comics' greatest talents to produce a special issue of Funtime Comics: Darkest Day: Comics For Christchurch, with ALL proceeds after printing going straight to the Red Cross!

The talent line-up includes: Dylan Horrocks, Sarah Laing, Tom Taylor & Colin Wilson, Jonathan King, Jared Lane, Chris Slane, Lee-Yan Marquez, Jason Brice, Ari Freeman, Terry Jones & Richard Fairgray, Claire Harris, Hannah Groff, Kieran Simpson, Robin Hotter, Brent Willis, David Tulloch, Craig Gillman, Ruth Boyask, Polka Ricefield, Danny Sugar, Gary McLanachan, Bob Gibbons, Sheika Lugtu, Gina Hubert, Darren Schroeder, Edwina Ting, Dean Rankine, Erin Harrington, Andrew Kepple, Russ Kale, Cally Bennett, Rowan French, Cameron Davis, Sam Orchard, Steve Saville, John Weeks, M P Fikaris and editor Isaac Freeman.

It will be officially launching tomorrow at the Wellington Armageddon Expo, available from the New Zealand Comic Creators table for $10. You can also purchase it online from the Funtime Comics website for $10 including postage! ($13 for the rest of the world).

This is a great way to support those effected by the Christchurch earthquake and in return enjoy some great comics that celebrate the Garden City and reflect on the effects of that dark February day.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Book Launch: Nice Day For a War: Adventures of a Kiwi Soldier in World War 1

Above: Nice Day For a War: Adventures of a Kiwi Soldier in World War 1 by Chris Slane & Matt Elliott.
Copyright Chris Slane & Matt Elliott 2011.

Launching today, Nice Day For a War: Adventures of a Kiwi Soldier in World War 1 by Chris Slane & Matt Elliott, is the second New Zealand graphic novel to be released this year. It chronicles the wartime experiences of Corporal Cyril Elliott, co-author Matt Elliot's grandfather. The book itself is part graphic novel and part historical document; with Slane's vivid watercolour story sequences accompanied by actual photographs, letters and cartoons from the soldiers in the trenches themselves. It's an engaging combination, which I'm sure will make this a bestseller come Anzac Day.

Above: a page from Nice Day For a War: Adventures of a Kiwi Soldier in World War 1 by Chris Slane & Matt Elliott.

Earlier this month, I asked Chris if he could talk a little about it's unique shape (landscape) and format:

Chris Slane: I was inspired by old wartime photograph albums, created by veterans, which are often landscape-shaped. Our initial proposal to the publisher used the cover of an old album with a cartoon window. I expected this shape would also suit comic-style story-telling, as well as historical details like photographs, cartoons, and ephemera. We also hoped that our book would protrude awkwardly from bookshop shelves and trip up and possibly wound innocent civilians passing on their way to the Dan Brown section.

AK: How do the graphic novel parts of the story fit together with the text pieces and other information?

CS: The war experiences of Matt's grandfather, Cyril Elliott was the basis for the book. It starts when he left New Zealand and ends on his return, but covers in more detail his time at Messines. We considered having footnotes on every page, but it seemed cleaner to separate comic pages from the historical material. That way incidental information didn't interrupt the flow of the narrative, gave breathing spaces, and allowed time to pass between chapters. In the end, the book evolved until there was about one third fiction, two thirds non-fiction.

To celebrate it's launch, tonight there will be an author signing upstairs at the Grey Lynn (RSA) Returned Services Social Club, 1 Francis Street, Grey Lynn/Westmere, Auckland (kids allowed). From 6.00-8.00pm you'll be able to buy a signed copy of the book, grill the authors about obscure historical details, enjoy a drink and support the RSA by buying a poppy too!

Nice Day For a War: Adventures of a Kiwi Soldier in World War 1
by Chris Slane & Matt Elliott is available at all good bookstores nationwide today, and you'll also be able to pick up a copy of it this weekend at the Wellington Armageddon Expo alongside Ant Sang's Shaolin Burning at the New Zealand Comic Creators stall.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

EVENT: Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner signing at Gotham Comics!

Above: Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner.

Ahead of next weekend's Armageddon Expo in Wellington, comics power-couple Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner are making a special one-off Auckland appearance at Gotham Comics this Sunday 3rd of April, from 12.30-2pm!

Above: Daredevil as pencilled by Joe Quesada and inked by Jimmy Palmiotti. Copyright Marvel 2011.

Jimmy Palmiotti is a prolific inker and writer. He gained wide acclaim for his art colaborations as Joe Quesada's inker on such titles as Daredevil, Ninjak and their own creations Painkiller Jane and Ash. As a writer Palmiotti has written a wide variety of titles including: Jonah Hex, Hawkgirl, The Freedom Fighters, Heroes for Hire, Deadpool, The Monolith, Powergirl and many more, often with co-writer Justin Gray.

Above: Power Girl illustrated by Amanda Conner. Copyright DC Comics 2011.

Amanda Conner has been illustrating comics since the late 80's, providing art for such titles as Vampirella, Gatecrasher, Birds of Prey and the controversial one-shot The Pro, about a super-powered prostitute, with writer Garth Ennis. Most recently she collaborated on a well-received Power Girl series with writers Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray.

They'll be at Gotham Comics from 12.30pm (subject to flight arrival after a gruelling 19 hour flight no less!), signing comics and providing sketches for a small fee. So if you would like to meet these two comic greats without making a round trip to Wellington next weekend, this is your best opportunity!