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TUESDAY, AUGUST 4, 2009

COMIC-CON: ARCHAIA COMICS

By Ernie Estrella

SAN DIEGO -- Archaia Comics introduced the first graphic novel through Amazon's Kindle and detailed other projects at its recent panel at Comic-Con International.

Mel Caylo moderated the Archaia Studios panel, which include Joshua Fialkov , Chandra Free, Nick Tapalansky, Alex Eckman-Lawn, Stephen Christy and PJ Bickett.

Following are highlights:

* Debuting on Amazon's Kindle, is Joshua Fialkov's graphic novel, Tumor. It is the first graphic novel/comic ever offered through the digital e-book system and will be serialized in eight parts, released every three weeks and feature the art of Noel Tuazon, whom Fialkov worked with previously on Elk's Run.

Tumor is the story of a private detective with a terminal brain tumor and with it, does something he's never done before -- solve a case. Because the Kindle can produce several shades of gray, the art will be in black and white.

"The Amazon Kindle is a revolutionary way to read books," Fiakov said. "As a fanatical book reader I have it, I love it, I cannot put it down. The interface is really interesting and we're experimenting with it on how to deliver comics as much like reading real comics as much as possible."

The first chapter is available free and, for those who don't have a Kindle, but do have an iPhone or iTouch, there is a Kindle App. It will be a 200-plus page graphic novel when it's completed and be collected into a hardcover after its initial run through Kindle.

* The first five issues of Awakening were recently collected into a hardcover for $19.99. Tapalansky described Awakening as "a zomb-noir, a murder mystery that takes place in a rather peaceful city, Park Falls where the crime rate takes a large jump and the only witness is the town-crazy claiming zombies have done this. The only one who takes notice is private detective Derrick Peters who didn't listen to her at first and regretted it."

Tapalansky and Eckman-Lawn are hard at work on volume two which is fully written and will debut a year from now.

* Coming this fall, The God Machine by Chandra Free, is about a young man named Guy Salvatore, who is dealing with the death of his girlfriend Sith. In his mourning, he hallucinates monsters who come to torment him. Unsure if they are manifestations of his mind or real, a mystery man offers Guy a glimmer of hope when drops the bomb that Sith may still be alive and is stuck in purgatory-like plane, which only he can break through to and battle the Gods of existence. Free says, "It's a little sci-fi, little horror, little romance. It's got deities, monsters, other worlds and spookiness."

Christy is very high on the book saying, "God Machine is really one of the most beautiful books we have coming in the next year. It's looks different from any other comic that I've seen in a long time." God Machine should come out by the fourth quarter of 2009. Art can be previewed at http://thegodmachinecomic.deviantart.com/

* David Petersen's Mouse Guard was nominated for three Ennie Awards, for Best Interior Art, Best Production Value, and Product of the Year. The ENnies are an annual fan-based celebration of excellence in tabletop role-play gaming held at Gen Con Indy.

* Archaia Studios Press will be bringing many more licensed comics in the near future with a publishing partnership with The Jim Henson Company. It is a multi-year deal that could include properties such as Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Mirrormask, The Storyteller and other titles. The Jim Henson Company plans to facilitate new stories through Archaia, who is benefitting by strengthening their relationship with the entertainment world. Fraggle Rock will be the first title to come out of this joint venture, scheduled for winter 2009.

After a brief intermission, Caylo turned the podium over to Jeph Loeb, who introduced Heroes and Star Trek star, Zachary Quinto along with his friends, Victor Quinaz, Michael McMillan, Corey Moosa, and Neil Dodson as a new production company called, Before the Door Pictures.

* The first comic to be published under the partnership is Mr. Murder is Dead, due this fall. Quinaz, the writer, tells that it's "a noir that calls back to the super cops and super detectives of the 30's and 40's most specifically Dick Tracy. Our detective is now in retirement and his days are looooong gone. It opens with his arch nemesis being murdered and without this evil in his life he doesn't know what to do with his life and retrace his steps. It's a hard-hitting noir that you wouldn't think of grandpa doing."

Because the comic will bounce from present day to flashbacks, the story will pay homage to the different eras of comics through the decades. For instance, the comic will look like a 50's era comic for the 50's flashbacks, for the 60's it will look like a Dick Sprang Batman comic, and it gets darker through years with the 80's and then looks like a Sin City comics in the 90s.

"Like Tumor, Mr. Murder is Dead will debut through the Kindle and iPhone/iTouch and then be collected as a black and white hardcover digest-sized edition," said Christy, "It's an awesome book. The ideas are really good, they're really different. It's comics we haven't read before. When you put the time and effort publish comics you want to do something unique, so we felt lucky that Before the Door brought two amazing ideas."

Quinto added, "For me it's the oldness of it; it's not slick, it's not shiny, there's a grittiness to it. And it operates on a lot of levels; there's stories within the stories and a history to these characters that in so many ways is brighter than the present."

* "The second story, Lucid, is at the opposite end of the spectrum created by Michael McMillan. "Lucid comes out of one thing in particular and it's a fascination with John Dee, a historical figure who was Queen Elizabeth's court magician, who was an alchemist, a mathematician and all of these fun medieval magical things. And he was an advisor who would tell people when to go to war, when to have parties and is credited for sinking one of the ships of the Spanish Armada when they were attacking England by creating a storm.

"What if we had that today? Like what if Barrack Obama had some ass-kicking combat mage who solved the problems of the free world? What if that power was abused? Lucid takes place in an alternate world where all the world powers have these black-ops, combat mages running around secret counter-intelligence and protect national interest, waging secret wars. It's modern times and similar to our world. And our resident combat mage is Matthew Dee who is a descendant of John Dee."

* Before the Door began as the brainchild of a group of friends at Carnegie Mellon University. Quinto recalls, "Before the Door is a company I started with my two very good friends Corey and Neil. Corey and I went to college together and Neil and I have known each other since we were fifteen. We decided in conjunction with all the opportunities that would present itself with me as an actor, in the industry we wanted a framework so that we could tell our stories. We wanted to gain traction in as many different media areas as possible. We started with internet stuff, film and other typical development we'll talk about down the line. But graphic novels are something that drew all of our interests."

"Obviously the work that I've done as an actor has lead me to this world and fan base and I'd like to take the chance to thank you guys for being so supportive of the work that I've done."

"I've learned a lot about graphic novels, but I'm not going to sit here and say that I've loved them all my life as it wasn't a big part of my upbringing, but as I've been drawn into it by Mr. Loeb and others, it's interesting to me how stories can unfold in that particular space. From that we aligned ourselves with two others, Michael and Victor. We've known each other for about 12-13 years and we started to talk about stories and get advice from Jeph and met with these guys at Archaia and felt this was a company that understands the stories we want to tell."



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