01/10/14 @ 2:10 pm EST
After years at Marvel Comics, Fred Van Lente has been stretching his legs with some varied and some lesser-known heroes. Whether it’s Archer & Armstrong helping relaunch and revive the Valiant Comics line, various Conan the Barbarian stories paying tribute to the fantasy world that Robert E. Howard created, or now with Magnus: Robot Fighter bringing Gold Key back to life at Dynamite with artist Cory Smith, Van Lente has gravitated to offbeat heroes who often have moral quandaries that make them appear less-than-heroic.
We talked with Van Lente about the Magnus relaunch, his plans for the character, what’s appealing about working with the non-big two comic companies, and why answering philosophical questions during karate chops is awesome.
Newsarama: Let’s talk about Magnus: Robot Fighter, Fred. It’s kind of funny, you were involved with the Valiant relaunch, and now you’re involved with what many remember as the “other half” of the company with the Gold Key titles. How did you get involved with this, with Dynamite?
Fred Van Lente: This was just a bizarre coincidence. I was hanging out with my friend Nate Cosby on the day he first had a conversation with Dynamite about heading up the Gold Key line as editor. I was describing some of the characters – I actually remember reading the Gold Key comics back in the 70s, when they were reprinted under “Western Publishing.”
So I started talking about Magnus, and I thought one of the things that you could do with him that would be fun would be a robot version of They Live, the famous John Carpenter movie where aliens have taken over in a body snatchers kind of deal. So I thought what if that was robots, instead of aliens, and only Magnus can see them. From that kernel of an idea, the whole thing mutated into something semi-similar to what I had been talking about originally, but super cool. Nate was on board from the beginning. I got the gig sort of because I happened to be standing around and said “why don’t we do this!?”
Finally, by the end of the evening and many beers later, we realized we had hit on a super cool way to take the series.
Nrama: So aspiring comic writers, take note, hang out with Nate Cosby and give him beer.
Van Lente: Right. Editors in general.
Nrama: The premise here sounds a little Cylon-ish, a little Battlestar-inspired. Is that something you’re deriving from at all?
Van Lente: Not really. Like I said, that was the initial – that was the 2 beers in idea. It really mutated into something a bit different. In essence, Magnus finds himself awakened in a world where robots have completely taken over humanity, for what they claim to be humanity’s best interest. They are also sort of ruled by a theology where the highest thing a robot can achieve is to emulate living things as much as possible. Magnus has been raised by 1A, a renegade artificial intelligence who wants to liberate NorthAm, the city where he lives, from the Church of the Singularity – the robot religious fanatics.
Magnus has to fight his way through a phalanx of many different kinds of robots, and along the way maybe learn that 1A isn’t entirely on the up-and-up himself. So there’s good humans, and bad humans and good robots and bad robots, and Magnus has to navigate all of this, both morally and through kicking the crap out of robots and punching their heads off.
Nrama: Okay, good to hear there’s the kicking the crap out of robots part, because this sounds pretty heavy here. There are questions of what life is and religious questions…
Van Lente: What is the real? What is natural? What is human? These are all great questions, and they will be answered with karate chops! Well, not with karate chops; they’ll be answered during karate chops (laughs).
Nrama: What makes you think about those kinds of questions, and makes you want to tell stories in comic books evaluating them?
Van Lente: Well, the major thing we’re adjusted to in our age, the internet and smart phone era, is the immediacy of us being around each other all the time thanks to Twitter, Facebook, fine sites such as Newsarama. The obvious question, I think, is that when it comes to the real day-to-day relationships we have with each other… on one hand we have what we tell each other on facebook, in interviews like what I’m doing right now, this is what we’re telling people “this is the real me.” Are you different when you make public proclamations on twitter versus when you’re dealing with your family members versus when you’re dealing with coworkers? We all have different guises that we put on – benignly, we don’t have to be putting one over on anyone – but it’s just the normal way we relate to each other.
Dealing with robots as far as technology and the robot religion and everything else is a good way to explore those issues in a fun, action, science fiction adventure kind of way.
Nrama: As your comic book writing has evolved over the years, you’ve notably moved into some of the smaller company-owned characters versus the big ones. Are there specific advantages or challenges that makes that appeal to you?
Van Lente: Well, it’s easier to make them your own.
Whenever I get offered a job, the main question for me is, can I do anything interesting with this? Both in a way that interests me and in a way that interests anybody else, to keep the book alive via sales! It’s not so much that the companies are smaller, it’s that when you get characters like Magnus that have not appeared that recently – the Dark Horse revival notwithstanding – there’s more room to wiggle. The public doesn’t have as much of a solidified opinion of what that’s supposed to be. Your leash gets let out a bit more, and you can have more fun with the characters. It’s not that Marvel and DC don’t have great lesser known characters that they’re not doing a lot with. I loved the Grant Morrison Animal Man and the old Doom Patrol, and Bob Layton Hercules, and the Batman and the Outsiders – all these weird, niche books. That’s definitely what I’m more interested in working with. It’s just more fun!
Nrama: Is your run on Magnus a limited series or open-ended?
Van Lente: It is open-ended. My contract is for “x” number of issues, but hopefully it’s successful and we’re able to go beyond that. I have a very distinct idea of what I want to do for the first 12 issues. It’s kind of a self-contained idea, but definitely leaves the door open for more.
Nrama: What style of science fiction would you say you’re going for here? Are you going for the flashy kind we commonly see in theaters (and comics) today, or are you going for something closer to modern day, more of the “hard science fiction” of the past?
Van Lente: Great question. A lot of it has to do with the setting. Magnus, the setting is slightly different than the original. In the original story NorthAm was like Mega City One in Judge Dredd – they called it that because it literally stretched from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
This NorthAm is a little different, I don’t want to spoil it too much because of the story, but in this NorthAm, the robots have sort of rebuilt North America with all the boring parts cut out. Sorry, flyover country and all the major landmarks there. The comparison I keep making is that this is what the New York, New York casino is in Las Vegas to the actual New York. They just left in the greatest hits.
Nrama: So there’s a stalk of corn, but not all of Iowa.
Van Lente: (laughs) Exactly. There’s one corn field, and that represents most of the states I grew up in and around.
And why that’s the case, why North America had to be rebuilt, is a major reveal in the series. It’s also been constructed to look like early twenty-first century North America. The idea is, it’s a combination between the hypertech and the advanced, mixed with what we see right now.
Nrama: Very interesting. Well, with you, Nate, and Greg Pak all involved with the Gold Key revival here, are we going to see some crazy sound effects in these books?
Van Lente: HA! (laughs) Well, you’d be more likely to see that in Archer & Armstrong than Magnus: Robot Fighter. Magnus: Robot Fighter is not much of a crazy sound effects book. I generally have tried to keep that as an Incredible Hercules thing, and leave it there where it works so well.
Although, Greg and I have something in the very early planning stages that may demand the return of the crazy sound effects. http://www.newsarama.com/19955-van-lente-s-magnus-robot-fighter-answers-philosophical-questions-with-karate-chops.html
03/21/19 @ 8:31 pm EST
Coinciding with the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo 2019 (C2E2), Dynamite Entertainment launches a Kickstarter for a stunning Sheena statue based on art by superstar J. Scott Campbell. Supporters can preorder their copies of the limited-edition piece for an advance lower price, choose from a variety of extras and most importantly, help decide which variants will be produced!
Support the Sheena Statue Kickstarter Here!
Sculptor Steve Kiwus has masterfully brought Campbell's gorgeous cover art from Sheena Queen of the Jungle #1 to three dimensions. The high-quality resin piece is at 1/6 scale and stands approximately 10.5 inches tall with a sturdy 7.25 inches wide base. Her intricate leopard print tunic and other details are hand painted.
Sheena, Queen of the Jungle is one of the most historically important characters in comic books. Predating the biggest superheroes in the business, Sheena was created by legends Will Eisner and Jerry Iger in 1937. The heroine became the flagship character of major publisher Fiction House, starring in top selling comics for over a decade with them. Including being the first heroine to have an eponymous series, beating Wonder Woman to the punch! She has continued to be published since, most recently by Dynamite in a critically acclaimed series by writers Marguerite Bennett (DC Comics Bombshells, Batwoman) and Christina Trujillo alongside artists Moritat (Harley Quinn, The Hellblazer) and Maria Laura Sanapo (Red Sonja & Vampirella Meet Betty & Veronica). Outside of comics, Sheena has starred on the small screen, silver screen and even inspired one of the most influential punk rock songs!
What about variants? Dynamite has a tradition of producing black and white versions of each statue, for collectors who value the way it accentuates the sculpt, want an extra or might even be ...
03/21/19 @ 2:22 pm EST
Dynamite announces the next entry in Brandon Sanderson's sci-fi/fantasy graphic novel saga, White Sand Volume 3, to release in June.
New York Times #1 Bestselling author Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn, The Stormlight Archive), writer Rik Hoskin (Red Rising, Mercy Thompson) and artist Fritz Casas (Red Sonja, Miss Fury) close out this arc of the Cosmere tapestry with a bang.
On the planet of Taldain, legendary Sand Masters harness magic-like abilities to manipulate sand in wondrous ways. Following hushed conspiracy and slaughter, one still stands - the hero Kenton! Through previous volumes Kenton has come across allies and foes, honed his abilities and unearthed hidden secrets among the action and political intrigue. In this climactic chapter, Kenton must mine his willpower and abilities to survive and finally discover the truth.
"It has been a pleasure working with Dynamite and a highlight of my career to see one of my stories told so well in this medium," said writer and creator Brandon Sanderson. "Rik’s great adaptation blended with Fritz’s artistic vision bring the White Sandtrilogy to an epic conclusion."
"White Sand has been a part of my life for about five years now, so I'm excited to reach the final volume in this phase of the story. It's been a pleasure working with Brandon Sanderson and everyone else involved on these graphic novels," said writer Rik Hoskin. "Brandon has a knack for creating memorable characters who inhabit fascinating worlds full of magic and unexpected dangers. Sanderson fans will especially enjoy a certain cameo ...
03/21/19 @ 8:58 am EST
Dynamite Entertainment announces its latest sought after premium deluxe set of trading cards, featuring and celebrating cosplay models and original hand drawn spectacular sketch art!
Cosplay is one of the oldest and beloved core parts of comic book fandom. Long before the Internet and social media, super fans were toiling on costumes to wear to the earliest conventions. Two of the most popular cosplay inspirations in the 1970s and 80s were Dynamite's flagship characters Red Sonja and Vampirella. Their iconic and tantalizing looks were perfect for this emerging form of artistic expression. Some of these models even graced the covers of their favorite heroines' titles professionally, such as Barbara Leigh, Julie Strain, Maria di Angelis and others as Vampirella. Writer/artist Wendy Pini (Elquest) and others were known for their Red Sonja cosplay.
Today Dynamite is the leading publisher of cosplay comic book covers and is proud to work with so many talented costume artists, models and photographers. Fans can find characters including Red Sonja, Vampirella, Dejah Thoris, Sheena and more portrayed by the most popular and talented cosplayers today. Jenifer Ann, Ani-Mia, Karrigan Taylor, Jacqueline Goehner, Jessica Felice, Shannon Kingston, Valerie Perez, Samantha Estrada and so many more have graced the covers of Dynamite comics.
On the sketch card front, Dynamite works with the greats in this medium as well. Artists in this set include Axe, Ken Haeser, Kevin Graham, Mike Lilly, Mitch Ballard, Rich Molinelli, Sanna U, Tim Shay and tons more talented artists!
Every individual foil pack includes 2 Base Cards, 2 Sketch Cards, 1 black and white art card, 1 puzzle card, and 1 autographed card. Retailers and fans can order the cards by individual foil packs or by boxes.
“Fans of Red Sonja, Vampirella, Dejah Thoris and ...
03/20/19 @ 2:49 pm EST
Dynamite announces Altered Carbon: Download Blues, an Original Graphic Novel written by Richard K. Morgan in his acclaimed New York Times bestselling science fiction saga.
Morgan is joined by co-writer Rik Hoskin (White Sand, Red Rising) and artist Ferran Sellares (Grimm Fairy Tales) for the first ever graphic novel entry in Altered Carbon and the first major new story in over a decade.
In the world of Altered Carbon, technology has advanced to allow human consciousness to be stored digitally. Following death or for other reasons, people can be transferred into new bodies, nicknamed "sleeves." This has drastically overhauled the criminal justice system, as well as unlocking interstellar travel. Series protagonist Takeshi Kovacs is a former soldier turned PI, plenty experienced with sleeves himself.
The original Altered Carbon novel was released in 2002 and exploded Morgan's career with near universally positive critical reception, including winning the prestigious Philip K. Dick Award. Science fiction fans ate up the hard boiled story of Takeshi Kovacs and the New York Times Bestseller continues to fly off shelves. Two sequel novels followed, Broken Angels and Woken Furies. In 2018 the novel was adapted for a Netflix TV series of the same name starring Joel Kinnaman. A second season will release, with Anthony Mackie taking on the Kovacs role as a new sleeve.
Morgan has experience already in the comics medium, having written two Black Widow series. He was the lead writer on the hit EA video game Crysis 2 and wrote the tie-in comic series.
"When you go to Dynamite for a sequential art incarnation of your much loved anti-hero, you know you’re not going to get short-changed. These, after all, are the guys who took on ...
03/21/19 @ 8:45 am EST
Dynamite announces an exclusive standalone Vampirella story published in Playboy's Spring 2019 Freedom of Speech issue available now.
The story is written by the legendary Gail Simone (Red Sonja, Wonder Woman, Domino) and drawn by the peerless Joyce Chin (Xena Warrior Princess, Wynonna Earp). Colorist Addison Duke (Barbarella/Dejah Thoris, Curse Words) and letterer Taylor Esposito (Batman, Aquaman, Elvira) round out the team on this six-page tale. The cover of Playboy was shot by photographer Kelia Anne MacCluskey.
Vampi protects a couple of professional cosplayers from crazed cannibal peers. Cosplay, cannibalism and no kink-shaming! Fans of the Daughter of Drakulon will not want to miss this story.
This is actually a reunion for Simone and Chin, fitting for Vampirella's 50th anniversary banner year. The pair collaborated on the colossal crossover Witchblade/Magdalena/Vampirella published by Top Cow Productions in 2004.
“Vampirella is the original monster girl of comics. It’s always a joy to tell stories with her, looking good and being bad," said writer Gail Simone. "There were two major enticements to do this story; one was to work with the wonderful Joyce again, who draws sexy evil like few can, and the other was to be part of that amazing legacy Playboy has had with comics and cartoons. The publisher was a known fan of the medium, wanted to BE a cartoonist at one time and provided a platform for the brilliant work of people like Harvey Kurtzman, Gahan Wilson and so many more. It’s fun to bring Vampirella into that mix!"
Artist Joyce Chin chimes in, "Vampi is a nostalgic 60’s hero for me, fun and campy. That great, classic Trina Robbins costume design, and the incredible art from people like José González, Frank Frazetta, Esteban Maroto, ...
03/19/19 @ 12:20 pm EST
Dynamite is honored to publish the first ever Sweet Valley High original graphic novel in Francine Pascal's juggernaut all-ages soap opera franchise.
The $14.99 136-page Academic All-Star? reinvents the nostalgic saga of the Wakefield twins for a new era of readers, while paying tribute to the originals that captivated so many. Rising star writer Katy Rex (Charmed Magic School, Jade Protection Services) enrolls in Sweet Valley with artist Devaki Neogi (The Skeptics, Curb Stomp) and colorist Pippa Mather (Charmed Magic School).
Sweet Valley High debuted in 1983 from writer Francine Pascal and evolved into an incomparable success. The core series of novels has 181 installments and counting spinoffs adds up to over 400 books - amounting to hundreds of millions of copies. Fans will also remember the TV show from the 1990s which ran for four seasons starring Brittany and Cynthia Daniel.
The usually impulsive and rash Jessica develops a crush on her new Shakespeare teacher, motivating her to model herself on her regimented and sincere sister Elizabeth. Will people start mixing the two girls up? Will Jess fall back on her ways only for Liz to straighten everything out?For writer Katy Rex, Sweet Valley High is a lifelong love, “I have been an absolute bookworm my whole life and I transitioned from Sweet Valley Twins to Sweet Valley High, and in a lot of ways I grew up alongside Jessica and Elizabeth. They’re timeless characters, so much so that it's practically intuitive to see how they would feel and act in any era. My lifelong experience with the books really allowed me to nail the voices and the feeling of the series. This is absolutely classic Sweet Valley and it's equally absolutely 2019.”
“Sweet Valley High is a book I read as ...
03/19/19 @ 12:21 pm EST
Everyone's favorite mystery solving teens reunite for a peculiar case this June in Dynamite's all-ages Original Graphic Novel Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys: The Case of the Missing Adults.
One day all the adults in the town of Bayport seem to just vanish. Poof! Sounds like the perfect scenario for the teenagers in town, right? Lazing on the couch watching TV all day and shoving junk food in your mouth is awesome, until it is not. This sounds like a case for the world's greatest (high school) detectives - the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew!
This $12.99, 104-page hardcover graphic novel will lead its readers, young and old, through a nonstop mystery solving adventure of pure fun and friendship. The team knows it will take all their wits and cooperation to get their parents and teachers back. Plenty of mishaps will follow, with sibling rivalry, a mysterious skeleton, a koala-in-a-diaper costume, and an unrequited crush...
Writer Scott Bryan Wilson (Batman, Star Trek: Waypoint) and artist Bob Solanovic (Mister Meow) are teaming up with colorist Valentina Briški and letterer Tom Napolitano (Justice League, Aquaman, Red Sonja).
On his interpetation of the central trio, Scott Bryan Wilson said, "In our book, the Hardys, despite clearly being best friends and as close as two brothers can be, are constantly arguing and trying to one-up and embarrass each other. (These scenes are some of the funniest in the book, thanks to Bob's incredibly expressive, wonderful, kinetic art, brilliant colors by Valentina, and slick lettering by Tom.) Our version of Nancy still has her as strong, independent, and the smartest person in the room, but she has a really sarcastic side, and there are some funny moments involving her, because we didn't want her to ...
03/18/19 @ 6:03 pm EST
Dynamite invites fans to witness a young, raw and reckless adventurer in Red Sonja: Birth of the She-Devil this June!
Writer Luke Lieberman (Red Sonja: Doom of the Gods), artist and fellow Sonja all-star Sergio Davila (Conan, Project Superpowers) and colorist Ulises Arreola (Superman, Batgirl) have come together for an early tale of everyone's favorite fiery-haired heroine. This limited series will feature Red Sonja's trademark armor - and her temper. Not yet the legend she will become, but building a fearsome reputation!
Sonja finds herself against the demon conqueror Raka, whose alchemy turns men into thralls. Luckily her mentor Ozzyus is still kicking at this point. He was last seen toward the beginning of Dynamite's contributions to the Red Sonja mythos in the previous series by Lieberman and Peter David, Red Sonja vs. Thulsa Doom. Discussing where Red Sonja is at the start of this story, writer Luke Lieberman said, "This story is about her figuring out what kind of woman she wants to be, what she wants to do with her gift of violence. Sonja is a total badass, but what makes her so compelling and iconic is her humanity. She sees the world for what it is and she is who she is unapologetically. She has already taken the worst Hyboria can dish out, so there is nothing left to fear. Despite this hardness, or perhaps because of it, she recognizes innocence as rare and precious and she will protect it."
Readers can pick from three unique covers on each issue. Master painter Lucio Parrillo (Vampirella, Queen Sonja) delivers jaw dropping pieces. For a more ...
03/18/19 @ 4:54 pm EST
Dynamite announces a fun and crazy new crossover for June, Warlord of Mars Attacks.
Just when people thought Dynamite could not think of more fun crossovers! Warlord of Mars Attacks takes everything to a new level of unexpected meta crossovers!
Who can best defend against a Martian invasion? A fearless human hero adopted by the red planet, the one and only John Carter! After a lander disturbs the Martian surface, everyone's favorite big-headed sadistic aliens lead a brutal invasion force toward Earth. Meanwhile on Earth, a man from 1868 Virgina comes out of stasis.
Writer Jeff Parker (Aquaman, James Bond Origin, Batman '66) is joined by artist Dean Kotz (Dungeons & Dragons, Krampus). While Omi Remalante Jr. (Red Sonja, Agent 47: Hitman) and Hassan Ostmane-Elhaou (Red Sonja, Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt) provide colors and letters, respectively.
Spectacular covers will be available by Dave Johnson (Batman, Deadpool, 100 Bullets), Marco D'Alfonso (I Am Groot, Vision), Ramon Villalobos (America, Nighthawk) and retro trading card inspired ones by Ben Caldwell (Red Sonja, Wonder Woman, Prez).
Dynamite is the home for epic crossovers, treating fans to multiverse spanning epics including Swords of Sorrow and Prophecy. John's darling Dejah Thoris has teamed up with both Vampirella and Barbarella! The crew of Battlestar Galactica met...the crew of Battlestar Galactica. Coincidental lookalikes Ash Williams and Elvis Presley teamed up in Army of Darkness/Bubba Ho-Tep. AND Red Sonja & Vampirella are on their way to Riverdale. Plus so many more! If readers liked those, they will love Warlord of Mars Attacks!
"John Carter meeting the Mars Attacks! Martians may sound insane, but I assure you it works, because Dean Kotz is ...
03/12/19 @ 2:56 pm EST
The critically acclaimed creative team of The Lone Ranger are back together for special sequences in issues 3 and 4 of the new hit Red Sonja series, Dynamite announces.
Bob Q will join Russell (The Flintstones), artist Mirko Colak (Conan), colorist Dearbhla Kelly (The Wild Storm: Michael Cray) and letterer Hassan Ostmane-Elhaou (Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt) to illustrate special pages revealing episodes from Sonja's adventuring past. These short flashbacks will inform her actions in the present as Queen of Hyrkania and even foreshadow coming events. Fans of their previous collaboration should be especially happy to see Bob drawing horses again!
These new story pages are in addition to Bob's existing "Seduction" variant covers on each issue depicting Red Sonja encountering classic mythical creatures and legends.
The man of the hour himself, Bob, Q, shares, "I’m incredibly excited to team up with Mark again on Sonja. I’ve loved sword and sorcery tales since I was a kid, so this is a dream come true. Alongside Mark’s deep appreciation and knowledge of history, I’m pulling inspiration from ancient, real-world sources which will hopefully give the series a unique feel while still remaining true to its roots."
"I loved working with Bob on The Lone Ranger and he brings a really good kinetic energy to his art which will be fantastic for Red Sonja," said Mark Russell. "Where Mirko has excelled creating a highly detailed and realistic world, Bob will complement it with his energy and humor."
Editor Nate Cosby adds, “We’re stupefyingly lucky to bring in Bob to illustrate a story-within-a-story for these two issues, where we see Sonja at different points in her life."
Red Sonja #3 & #4 are solicited ...