Team Voltron Speaks at Emerald City Comic Con 2018

One of the biggest highlights of Emerald City Comic Con this year had to be the premiere of Voltron: Legendary Defender’s fifth season. The convention center was adorned with a giant banner featuring the Paladins of Voltron as well as the fan favorite villain/anti-hero Prince Lotor and volunteers’ shirts were branded with show’s logo. Convention Scene was fortunate enough to be invited to a roundtable discussion with Executive Produce Joaquim Dos Santos, Co-Executive Producer Lauren Montgomery, designer Christine Bian, and actor Josh Keaton who provides the voice of Shiro. Bian, a Seattle native, also produced the exclusive ECCC poster which was given away to fans attending the premiere.

Naturally, as Legendary Defender is a reboot of the original Voltron series, Defender of the Universe, which in turn was an English-language adaptation of a Japanese anime GoLion, the first questions asked had to do with the challenge of updating a 35 year property and how to keep it fresh while still recognizable to fans. “Initially we had these pillars of the original show we wanted to make sure that we adhere to and we had these meetings where they, for lack of a better term, wanted to “HALO-ify” Voltron and make it very gritty and serious and we’re like, we need it to be fun,” said Dos Santos, “We need to be campy but also dramatic. We need to have comedy, and then beyond that we want them to have a life of its own and become its own thing. And we’ve been lucky to have that.”

From a design aspect Bian noted, “Joaquim had this thing he called the squint test, which means like when you look at the original Voltron, even if you’re squinting, he has such an iconic silhouette, that it’s unmistakable that it’s him. And so that was the key element that we wanted to make sure our Voltron also had.”

Montgomery continued, “The thing that we loved about the old Voltron was he was kind of boxy. He had like these edges on it and so we want to update the lines and make them feel really cool, but we don’t want to lose that element. So you’ll notice they have kind of like a boxier muzzle and then the Yellow and the Blue Lions will have a slightly chunkier look because they’re legs. But then the Green and the Red Lions will be a little softer and sleeker and rounder because they’re arms.”

One aspect of the show which the crew cited in need of updating was the overtly evil archness of its villains. “The quality with the villains being kind of a little goofier here in the older series, like Haggar was very much just like the witchy witch and Zarkon was kind of like “I’ll get you next time, Voltron!” sort of a villain. We knew we had to raise the stakes a little bit with those guys and make them a little more serious,” said Montgomery, “And probably the biggest thing was that Lotor was a little on the pervy side and that’s just, it’s a trope that was really big when I was young, it was in a lot of content and it’s something that we can’t keep doing. I don’t even think an audience today would accept it if you tried to put that out there.” Bian also mentioned the original series’ Galra ships as another update that needed to happen. “I actually love this design because it was so outrageous,” she said “But the Galra and flew around in ships that were literally a coffin flying off into space and had a skull and crossbones and like spider webs on it.”

A huge character shift from the original Voltron was changing Pidge is to be biologically female but originally presenting as a male character, which has been interpreted from some fans to be representative of the transgender or gender fluid community. “Immediately I wanted to bring in more of a female presence so it wasn’t necessarily like we gotta make one of these characters a girl, but I think if none of the characters had really lent themselves to it and we may have thought differently, but Pidge was a character that when watching it as a kid was always a little confusing because he had a very feminine hairdo and he had some fringe and like I was never quite sure what was the deal with Pidge and so it just seemed kind of like a natural transition and in a way that we can just include more females,” said Montgomery, “changing Pidge to a girl really doesn’t change dynamic of the team, doesn’t change who Pidge is as a person and it’s a little bit of a statement of it’s not that hard to just put a female character in the show.”

But more than anything else, the team emphasized that the characters and their development as a team is the single most important aspect of the show. Season 5 will see the Paladins’ growth continue as they wrestle with the issue of whether or not trust new ally Prince Lotor. Dos Santos mentioned that the bayards, the weapons the Paladins carry and use in conjunction with their Lions, originally came from a very marketing-driven place of establishing the Voltron version of a lightsaber, but ended up being an extension of each character, saying “It’s their personal growth sort of representative manifested in this weapon.”

In addressing physical changes to the characters themselves over time, Montgomery noted that subtle differences rarely happen in 2D animation because with several artists working on project the models need to remain consistent. “You think that happens design wise, that would be a thing, but it actually ends up being more of an animation, storyboard thing where our directors and our storyboard artists are staging these characters in the scene, how do they react? And so we try to instill that a little bit in the script from script phase. But luckily a lot of our artists have been with us through like the whole run of the show,” said Montgomery, “They get it and they’ve seen their whole arc.”

Josh Keaton has become a fan-favorite as Shiro, to the point that Dos Santos joked Dreamworks would ask for “30% more Shiro” for episodes in which they felt his presence was lacking. The majority of cosplayers in Voltron outfits during the convention were dressed as Shiro. “It’s been crazy. I knew the show just from reading your early scripts, just at the very beginning. I knew the show was something special, but the extent to which it’s taken off, just the size of the fandom and creativity of the fandom just continues to blow me away,” said Keaton “Every time I go to a con and I’ll see, I’ll see huge cosplay and these are people in full on armor, that lights up and then they’ll even have more obscure cosplays. I saw Galaxy Garrison trio with Lance and Hunk and Pidge they were all in their Garrison stuff. It’s amazing.”

In speaking about his influences, Keaton spoke about how he prepares for voice roles the same as he would a role in a play or movie or live action television show by trying to put himself in the mindset of the character and finding a relatable memory or experience from his own life. He also said that he draws on previous roles such as Spider-Man or Green Lantern. “Some of that found its way into Shiro as well, not the cocky aspect of Hal Jordan, but a lot of the military bearing. I’d say a lot of the parts that I play end up pulling from those in some way in future doesn’t really because that’s just, it adds to my frame of reference.”

Voltron: Legendary Defender Season 5 is now streaming on Netflix.

 

Free Comic Book Day 2018 Announces Gold Sponsor Comic Titles

Press Release:

The Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) Committee has selected the twelve Gold Sponsor comic book titles for the comic book industry’s most anticipated annual event, Free Comic Book Day. FCBD happens each year on the first Saturday in May at participating comic book shops worldwide, with next year’s event taking place on May 5th, 2018.

The titles were curated by over twenty comic shop retailers who make up the FCBD Selection Committee and the comics feature something for everyone: from superheroes, to popular films and television shows, to beloved video game franchises, and all-ages favorites. The Gold Sponsor titles come from the industry’s top publishers, including:

  • DC Entertainment (TBA)
  • Marvel Comics (MARVEL AVENGERS/CAPTAIN AMERICA)
  • Dark Horse Comics (OVERWATCH/BLACK HAMMER)
  • IDW Publishing (TRANSFORMERS: UNICRON: THE DARKEST HOUR #0)
  • Image Comics (BARRIER #1)
  • Archie Comics (RIVERDALE)
  • BOOM! Studios (MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS SPECIAL)
  • First Second Books (COMICS FRIENDS FOREVER)
  • Joe Books (DISNEY PRINCESS: ARIEL SPOTLIGHT)
  • Oni Press (INVADER ZIM: FLOOPSY BLOOPS SHMOOPSY)
  • Titan Comics (DOCTOR WHO #0)
  • VIZ Media (POKÉMON: SUN AND MOON / POKÉMON: HORIZON).

“With 91 titles submitted from over 70 publishers, the FCBD Retailer Committee had to make some tough choices for this year’s Free Comic Book Day,” said FCBD spokesperson Dan Manser, “but we think retailers and fans alike will be thrilled with the sponsor titles chosen for 2018. Free Comic Book Day is the comics industry’s most important event—a day to celebrate comic books and comic shops, and to introduce family and friends to the comics medium we all know and love. It’s important that the titles reflect the varied interests of people coming into stores these days—and we believe there’s a comic book for everyone this Free Comic Book Day!”

The full line-up of this year’s comic books will be announced next week, when thirty-eight additional FCBD Silver titles will be announced on Tuesday, December 19th. A complete listing of all fifty FCBD titles, as well as two education titles about the industry, will also be found in the January issue of Diamond Comic Distributors’ PREVIEWS catalog, on sale at all comic book shops December 27th, 2017.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Fan Art Contest

Submit your original Star Wars: The Last Jedi fan art for the opportunity to have your artwork displayed at the U.S. premiere of the movie.

Requirements:

  • Must be original artwork you created
  • Must only include characters and/or themes from Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Must be less than 10 MB in file size
  • Must be in jpg/jpeg or png
  • See Official Rules for additional content requirements and restrictions

SUBMISSION WINDOW ENDS SUNDAY NOVEMBER 26TH, 11:59PM PST. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Limit five (5) entries per person. Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. & D.C. ages 18+. Void wherever prohibited or restricted. For full details, limitations, and restrictions, please see the website….

 

Skybound Releases Redneck “Texas Forever” Shirt to Benefit Houston Charity

September 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Collectibles, Comic Books, Everything Else

Press Release:

No doubt recently you saw the devastation that Hurricane Harvey has brought upon Houston, Texas. We at Skybound want to do our part to help those impacted by the storms and flooding. Today, we’re releasing a new limited edition version of our REDNECK “Texas Forever” shirt in the Skybound store. The proceeds from the sale of this shirt will go to the Houston Coalition for the Homeless. This Houston based charity’s “mission is to provide leadership in the development, advocacy, and coordination of community strategies to prevent and end homelessness.” REDNECK writer and Texas native, Donny Cates, picked this charity and we’re very excited to help how we can.

Below you can see the “Texas Forever” design. Make sure to order yours today and help a good cause while you’re at it!

Hero Initiative Celebrates Jack Kirby’s 100th Birthday on August 28 with Kirby4Heroes

August 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Animation, Comic Books, Everything Else, Other

Press Release:

The Hero Initiative, the charitable organization dedicated to helping veteran comic creators in medical or financial need, is celebrating the 100th birthday of Jack “King” Kirby on August 28 with a little help from Jillian Kirby, founder of the Kirby4Heroes campaign.

More than 50 artists will get up on the morning of August 28, 2016 to simply “Wake Up and Draw.” All drawings will be featured in a special gallery at ComicArtFans.com, and fans can follow the action through the day on Twitter searching hashtag: #WakeUpAndDraw. All drawings will be auctioned to benefit Hero Initiative starting September 5, 2017!

Artist Phil Hester will reach the end of a long road. Four years ago, in conjunction with Kirby’s 97th birthday, Hester drew 97 Kirby characters. He upped the ante to 98 and 99 the last two years, and will close out in classic fashion with 100 Kirbys this year! Phil’s drawing marathon will take place at Krypton Comics in Omaha, Nebraska, and will be livestreamed as well!

And the baton is passed! Get to The Source Comics in Games in Roseville, Minn. On August 28, where artist Brent Schoonover will be doing Kirby drawings all day as well!

Jillian Kirby, Jack’s youngest granddaughter, has spearheaded the “Kirby4Heroes” campaign since 2012. Jillian has recruited a number of comic stores to donate a percentage of their sales to Hero on this special day. Individual fans can visit the official Kirby4Heroes campaign Facebook page and donate via the PayPal link at www.HeroInitiative.org. Please type in “Kirby4Heroes” in the special instructions box.

“I founded the Kirby4Heroes campaign when I was 16 years old in June 2012, as a way of honoring the legacy of my grandfather, comic book artist and creator Jack Kirby, who unfortunately died the year before I was born,” said Jillian Kirby. “Over the past five years my campaign has been fortunate enough to raise over $80,000 for the Hero Initiative, and this year my goal is to push it well over $100,000! My Kirby4Heroes fundraising campaign just seems to be expanding and blossoming with new creative ideas continually contributed by many Jack Kirby fans.  Watching everything come together has been very rewarding, and I look forward to the culmination of a fantastic show of support on August 28th!”

Participating stores include:
Alakazam Comics, Irvine, CA
All About Books & Comics, Phoenix, AZ
Arcadian Comics, Newport, KY
Aw Yeah Comics, Skokie, IL
Bedrock City Comics, five locations in Houston, TX
Blastoff Comics, North Hollywood, CA
Borderlands Comics, Greenville, SC
Captain Blue Hen Comics, Newark, DE
Carmine St. Comics, New York, NY
Carol & John’s Comic Shop, Cleveland, OH
Challengers Comics, Chicago, IL
Collector’s Paradise, two locations in Los Angeles, CA
Collectors Corner, Parkville, MD
Comics & Collectibles, Memphis, TN
Comix City Too, Madison, TN
Comix Experience, two locations in San Francisco, CA
Cosmic Comics, Las Vegas, NV
Cosmic Comics & Toys, Cantonsville, MD
Destiny City Comics, Tacoma, WA
Dragon’s Lair Comics, Austin, TX
Earth-2 Comics, two locations in Los Angeles, CA
Escape Pod Comics, Huntington, NY
Flying Colors Comics, Concord, CA
Geoffrey’s Comics/Hi De Ho Comics, two locations in Los Angeles, CA
Green Brain Comics, Dearborn, MI
Heroes Comics, Fresno, CA
I Want More Comics, Northglenn, CO
Jesse James Comics, Glendale, AZ
Joy’s Japanimation, Greensburg, PA
Lee’s Comics, Mountain View, CA
Lost Legion Games & Comics, three locations in Charleston, WV
Mission Comics and Art, San Francisco
Nans Games and Comics, Houston, TX
Phantom of the Attic Comics, two locations in Pittsburgh, PA
Queen City Comics, two locations in Cincinnati, OH
Samurai Comics, three locations in Phoenix, AZ
The Source Comics & Games, Roseville, MN
The Comic Book Shop, Wilmington, DE
World’s Best Comics, Sacramento, CA

Bone Creator Jeff Smith Announced as 2017 Sparky Award Recipient

Press Release:

The Cartoon Art Museum is proud to announce that Jeff Smith, best known as the creator of the beloved award-winning graphic novel Bone, is the recipient of the 2017 Sparky Award. The Sparky Award was presented to him by Cartoon Art Museum board member Michael B. Johnson and CAM curator Andrew Farago during a spotlight panel at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Library’s 15th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, August 12th.

The Sparky Award is named in honor of Charles “Sparky” Schulz, the creator of Peanuts. Schulz was nicknamed “Sparky” after the horse Sparkplug featured in the comic strip Barney Google. The Cartoon Art Museum would not exist without benefactors like Sparky Schulz and his wife, Jeannie.  The Sparky Award is presented on behalf of the Cartoon Art Museum and the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Library.

“I’ve followed Jeff’s ground breaking self-published work since the first issue of Bone and I’ve been delighted to see his growth as an artist and an advocate for the arts over years,” notes past Sparky Award winner Dr. Michael B. Johnson, R&D Pre-Production Architect, Pixar Animation Studios. “In addition to looking forward to his newest work Tuki, I’m delighted to follow his new adventure helping steer the Cartoon Crossroads Columbus arts festival in his hometown. For all these reasons and more I was honored to help present the Sparky to Jeff.”

The award celebrates the significant contributions of cartoon artists who embody the talent, innovation and humanity of Charles M. Schulz. Past recipients include Schulz himself, Sergio Aragones, Gus Arriola, Carl Barks, Gene Colan, Will Eisner, Creig Flessel, Phil Frank, Lou Grant, Michael B. Johnson, Chuck Jones, Ward Kimball, Gary Larson, John Lasseter, Stan Lee, Bill Melendez, Dale Messick, Jerry Robinson, John Severin, Morrie Turner, Ron Turner, and Mort Walker.

About Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith is The New York Times bestselling author/cartoonist of the BONE and RASL graphic novels. BONE won numerous awards around the world, including multiple American Eisners and Harveys, and the French Alph Art. In 2005, Smith’s work was chosen to launch Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic Books. Smith was guest editor of Best American Comics in 2013. Smith’s web-comic about the first human to leave Africa 2,000,000 years ago called Tuki Save the Humans at Boneville.com, won the 2014 Reuben Award for Best Online Comic and is currently being prepared for release as a graphic novel.

Stranger Things 2 To Be Featured At Halloween ComicFest 2017

July 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Everything Else

Press Release:

Diamond Comic Distributors, the leader in the distribution of comic books, graphic novels, and pop culture merchandise to comic book shops, is excited to announce that the Netflix original series Stranger Things 2 will partner with Halloween ComicFest 2017 bringing participants in-store activations, branded merchandise and more.

An annual event held on the Saturday on or before Halloween, Halloween ComicFest celebrates its 6th year in 2017, with participating local comic shops around the world giving away free comics to all who go to participating shops. This year’s event takes place on Saturday, October 28th, with nearly 2,000 comic shops expected to participate and give away over two million free comics to 500,000 fans.

As Halloween ComicFest’s title sponsor, store bags and printed promotional materials distributed by local comic shops in advance of the event will include Stranger Things 2 branding. Stay tuned for more exciting announcements regarding in-store activations on Halloween ComicFest, Saturday, October 28th.

“The overlap between comic book fans and Stranger Things fans is incredible,” said Michael Moccio, Advertising Partnerships Marketing Manager for Diamond. “We’re thrilled to have Netflix and one of its premiere original series participate in Halloween ComicFest, which will serve as a great platform to drive one of the largest and most influential fan communities to local comic shops and to tune in this Halloween for the premiere of Stranger Things 2.”

Netflix and Stranger Things 2 join other Halloween ComicFest sponsors including Dark Horse Comics, DC Comics, IDW Publishing, Image Comics, and Marvel Comics.

With full-size comics that range from action-packed superhero fare to adaptations of widely beloved films and novels and all-ages mini comics with recognizable characters from companies like Disney and DreamWorks, Halloween ComicFest 2017 is poised to attract readers and fans of all tastes to participating local comic shops on October 28th.

Celebrate Harley Quinn’s 25th Anniversary on Sept. 23rd

Press Release:

In celebration of Harley Quinn’s 25th Anniversary, this year the bubbly Super-Villain will take over DC’s annual Batman Day celebration on September 23, 2017. The announcement was made on the DC Harley Quinn: Celebrating 25 Years panel at SDCC. The panel included moderator and current HARLEY QUINN writer Jimmy Palmiotti, and panelists Amanda Conner, Paul Dini, Chad Hardin, Alex Sinclair, Tara Strong and more!

Harley Quinn debuted on Batman: The Animated Series in the episode “Joker’s Favor,” which originally aired in September 1992. Co-created by the acclaimed Paul Dini (Batman: The Animated Series, DARK NIGHT: A TRUE BATMAN STORY) and Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated SeriesBatman Beyond) Harley Quinn spawned the now popular and plentiful comic series and is one of the fastest growing characters in DC history, becoming a top ten character in only the last 25 years.

DC will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Harley Quinn in a big way, with key new releases in the coming months including, HARLEY QUINN: A ROGUES GALLERY—THE DELUXE COVER ART COLLECTION, HARLEY QUINN 25TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL #1, and an oversized anniversary issue featuring Harley’s entire cast of crazy characters, HARLEY QUINN #25.

Stay tuned for more details on Harley Quinn’s takeover of Batman Day on September 23.

DC Announces Plans for Wonder Woman Day 2017

Press Release:

DC Entertainment (DCE) announced today the first-ever celebration of iconic DC Super Hero and pop culture icon, Wonder Woman. “Wonder Woman Day” will take place on June 3, during the opening weekend for the theatrical release of the highly anticipated film, Wonder Woman. The celebration will honor the 75-year legacy of the Amazon Princess with wondrous festivities across the country and around the world.

More than 2,000 comic retailers, bookstores, libraries and other partners around the world will host “Wonder Woman Day” activations, including distributing free copies of two special edition issues. WONDER WOMAN DAY SPECIAL EDITION #1 reprints WONDER WOMAN #1 by bestselling writer Greg Rucka and artist Liam Sharp. For young readers, DC SUPER HERO GIRLS WONDER WOMAN DAY SPECIAL EDITION #1 features a chapter from the upcoming DC SUPER HERO GIRLS VOL. 3: SUMMER OLYMPUS, written by Shea Fontana with art by Yancey Labat.

DC has teamed up with an array of retail partners including, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Walmart, Costco and Amazon for exclusive in-store and digital promotions to create the ultimate “Wonder Woman Day” experience. Cross-divisional activations will also include Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Warner Bros. Consumer Products, alongside key partners including Six Flags Theme Parks, to further spotlight the groundbreaking DC Super Hero.

Marquee comic writers and artists will also participate in special events to mark “Wonder Woman Day,” including Greg Rucka, Phil Jimenez, Cliff Chiang, Shea Fontana, Marc Andreyko, and Cat Staggs. Plus, exclusive Wonder Woman tiaras and bracelets will be available at select retailers.

Counting down to “Wonder Woman Day,” DC’s award-winning original digital series DC All Access will host a can’t-miss Wonder Woman Week series of segments from May 29-June 3. The six-day Wonder Woman takeover will spotlight essential books, sit down with key talent from the “Wonder Woman” feature film, and also discuss the iconic character’s legacy with acclaimed comic writers and artists.

Fans can download the official “Wonder Woman Day” activity kit, including comic book activity sheets, coloring pages, trivia, and games. Readers can also take advantage of great discounts on digital comics at readdcentertainment.com and in the DC Comics app, where 100 digital comics and eBooks will be on sale starting May 30.

Visit DCAllAccess.com and download the DC All Access mobile app for more details on “Wonder Woman Day” festivities, participating stores, and in-depth coverage directly from original digital series DC All Access. Fans can journey through Wonder Woman’s illustrious history and share their favorite Super Hero moments, social media activations on Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram.

Join the celebration on June 3 and share on social media using #WonderWomanDay.

Mike Mignola’s Hellboy: A 25th Anniversary Tribute A Fundraising Auction for the Cartoon Art Museum

Press Release:

The Cartoon Art Museum is thrilled to announce its first themed original art fundraising auction, Mike Mignola’s Hellboy: A 25th Anniversary Tribute. Proceeds from the auction will support the Cartoon Art Museum’s operations and public programming as the board and staff prepare for CAM’s grand reopening at 781 Beach Street in San Francisco later this summer.

Since Mike Mignola’s Hellboy first hit the stands in 1993, it has become a cultural sensation, racking up a dozen Eisner Awards and inspiring numerous spinoffs, from a novel line, to video games, to feature films. The Cartoon Art Museum’s fundraising auction, Mike Mignola’s Hellboy: A 25th Anniversary Tribute will feature original artwork from dozens of top graphic novelists, animators, and cartoonists who have drawn inspiration from the master storyteller’s signature creation. Featured artists include Sergio Aragonés (MAD), Harry Bliss (The New Yorker), Jeffrey Brown (Darth Vader and Son), Sam Kieth (Sandman, The Maxx), Patrick McDonnell (Mutts), Steve Purcell (Sam and Max), Kent Williams (The Fountain), and more to be announced.

“We’re thrilled to pay tribute to one of the comic world’s greatest creator-owned properties, Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, as the series celebrates its 25th anniversary,” said CAM Executive Director Summerlea Kashar. “The staff and board of the Cartoon Art Museum are very grateful for Mike’s assistance with this fundraiser, and we’re overwhelmed by the talent and generosity of the participating artists.”

The online auction will launch on May 15 on eBay, under the user account “cartoonartmuseum” and will continue with new pieces added biweekly throughout the summer. Preview pieces for the auction at our Comic Art Fans page. The Cartoon Art Museum will publish a full color catalog collecting all of the artwork created for this auction as well as an exhibition featuring this material alongside a selection of Mike Mignola’s own Hellboy artwork, tentatively planned for display at the Cartoon Art Museum in fall 2017.

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