Sunday, December 1, 2013

On David Scheve...

I just learned that my friend David Scheve died Saturday morning. I'm not quite sure I've processed it yet.

If you've seen any of my posts on facebook in the last few years, then you've probably seen David's name in the comments. He was an up-and-coming filmmaker who'd recently started his own series, Hard Knock Rock. Animated shorts that took the style of Schoolhouse Rock and combined it with modern topics, David's work used humor to mask the seriousness of the subjects he was discussing.

But years before all that, he was a salesperson at the 57th and 5th Warner Brothers Studio Store, selling animation art with a borderline obsession for the art form. I was just a college kid at the time, and my similar passion for all things comic books instantly gave us something to talk about in between trying to get tourists to buy portraits of Bugs Bunny. But it was our similar sense of humor that made us friends.

One of my fondest memories of David was when the two of us went to see the remastered version of The Exorcist when it hit theaters years ago. There weren't many people in that particular daytime screening, which was probably for the best, as David had decided to add to the script here and there. Now normally I'm a stickler for complete silence during a movie, but there wasn't much I could do to curtail David's impulses, and to his credit, he only chimed in now and again.

At one point during the movie, there was a scratching, shuffling sound coming from the family's attic. David leaned over to me and said, "I think it's Jawas." We started laughing and for no reason whatsoever, so did the rest of the theater. And during the unique scene when the main character is repeatedly stabbing herself in a very sensitive region with a crucifix, David shouted, "Oh no she didn't!" instantly turning a disturbing moment of film into a excerpt from The Ricki Lake Show.

David and I lost touch for a while, but had reconnected over facebook in recent years. He was incredibly supportive of my career, and I don't think I repaid the favor as much as I should have. The truth is, I was always proud of David, and enjoyed watching him do the very thing he set out in life to do. It was clear he was just getting started, which makes this whole thing all the more frustrating.

If you're interested in seeing some of David's work, you can watch one of his movies here. Warning: it's very much not safe for work. But neither was David.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Beware the Batman # 2...

The doorbell rang at 7:30 this morning. While I'm not a big fan of any kind of activity that requires me to get out of bed before my daughters (or before it's time for lunch, to be honest), it was a nice surprise to find a package full of issues of Beware the Batman # 2 waiting for me.

Although it's the second issue of this ongoing series set in the world of Cartoon Network's new cartoon, like many all-ages books, Beware the Batman offers self-contained stand-alone stories, making it easy for readers to jump on board at any time. I had a lot of freedom and support from my editors at DC on this one, and I think our artist, Dario Brizuela, really captured the essence of the show and the issue's villain, Professor Pyg.

The comic comes out this Wednesday, so if you get a chance, stop by your local comic shop and pick up a copy. Then go take a nap. You've earned it.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

DC Chess Collection...

I've been a fan of the DC Chess Collection from Eaglemoss ever since they were first released in the UK. When they hit the States, it didn't take me long to amass way too big of a collection of these great little figurines.

As anyone who has purchased one of these pieces can attest to, half the fun of collecting the series is due to the great magazines that accompany each figure. So when I was contacted to write a few of their new DC Universe magazines, I jumped at the chance.

This month, my first magazine in the series is up for pre-order at your local comic shop or favorite online toy retailer. It stars Ocean Master, and offers plenty of info about the modern version of this classic Aquaman foe.

Keep checking back as I have a few more of these magazines coming out soon, and I'll be sure to update as soon as a I can.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Superman Files...

At long last, The Superman Files hits stores and Amazon this week. This is one of my favorite projects to date, so if you get a chance to stop by your local book store and flip through it, please do.

This book is a complete modern history of the life of the Man of Steel written in the far future by Brainiac 5 and illustrated with the use of journal entries, faux newspaper articles, "photographs" from the comics, newly commissioned artwork and more.

Here are a few sample pages to give you an idea of what's inside:

While it tells Superman's story first and foremost, the book is chock full of Easter Eggs for the fans, and even contains a few nods to our previous book, The Batman FilesCovering everything in Superman's life from John Byrne's revamp to the revisions of New 52 and even into the 31st Century, we attempted to make The Superman Files the most comprehensive life story of Superman to ever see print. I hope you all agree.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

New York Comic Con 2013...

I'm very happy to report that this coming Thursday I'll be headed to the New York Comic Con once again. I'm also pleased to announce that my newest book is hitting shelves, Marvel: Year by Year. For anyone familiar with the Marvel Chronicle, this is the newest version of that massive hardcover, streamlined and as up to date as we could possibly make it. This 384-page hardcover (also written by fellow historians Peter Sanderson, Tom Brevoort, and Tom DeFalco) features a detailed month by month history of Marvel Comics from the 1930s until today. Here's an example of one of the newer spreads in the updated section:

I'll be signing copies of this book at DK's booth during NYCC, so be sure to check out the signing times below.

I'll also be promoting The Superman Files at the show, with two signings at the Andrews McMeel booth. I'm not sure if we'll have actual copies of The Superman Files for sale by the convention, but I'm told we should have a poster or post card of some sort. Be sure to swing by either way, as you won't want to miss your chance to flip through this great scrapbook-style history of the life of the Man of Steel.

Here's my signing schedule for the show:

Friday 10/11

Andrews McMeel Booth (#2219) from 2:00-3:00 pm
DK Booth (#1829) from 5:00-6:00 pm

Saturday 10/12

DK Booth (#1829) 1:00-2:00 pm
Andrews McMeel Booth (#2219) from 3:00-4:00 pm

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Asheville Comic Expo...

I'm happy to report that on Saturday, September 21st, I'll be a guest at the Asheville Comic Expo held at the U.S. Cellular Center in my new hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. This will be my first year at the show, and I'm looking forward to it.

You can find all the information about the one-day convention on their site:

If you're in town, stop by my table and say "hello." Especially if you're from Asheville. I've been spending way too many hours behind my desk, and it's about time I met some of my neighbors...

Monday, August 12, 2013

Beware the Batman...

I'm very happy to report that I wrote the November issue of Beware the Batman. I've been enjoying the new animated series that this comic is based on, so it was a lot of fun to write a story set in that world.

Plus it has Katana. And Katana is awesome.

Here's the official solicit from DC Comics:

Art and cover by DARIO BRIZUELA
On sale NOVEMBER 27 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E
Professor Pyg has planned a series of heists—and Batman needs reinforcements! But even as Alfred and Katana take on two of Pyg’s targets, the Professor himself careens around the city, threatening the lives of a young boy and his parents. Will Batman rescue him in time?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

On Superman and my Uncle...

This week we finally wrapped up production on The Superman Files, a book that's been as challenging as it has been rewarding. For those not familiar with the format from our previous volume, The Batman Files, this 312-page hardcover is meant to look like a scrapbook of Superman's life, much of it from Superman's own perspective. As such, it's chock full of things like journal entries written by Clark Kent, "photos" taken directly from the comics, and faux newspaper articles.

As is the case with any book I write, there are often bits and pieces that don't make it into the final product, so I thought I'd share one of those "deleted scenes" here on my blog. In this particular instance, we were recreating two pages from Ma Kent's famous Superman scrapbook. Established in John Byrne's Man of Steel mini-series, this scrapbook contained newspaper clippings of many of Superman's early adventures before he adopted his super-hero identity.

For this particular spread, I wrote five newspaper articles, taking the headlines from clipping shown in Superman: Secret Origin and from the aforementioned Man of Steel. Unfortunately, our designer, the talented Michael Reagan, could only fit four of the articles on the spread, which meant this last piece had to be cut. In the finished book, the newspaper pieces will look like actual articles clipped from various papers, but for this one, you'll have to use your imagination.

The article:

Child Saved From Mountain Fall!
Reports “Flying Angel” Caught Him as he Fell
By Richard Byrne

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, CO – A fifth grade student of Elizabeth Elementary School in Longmont, Colorado mysteriously survived a fall off a sheer cliff during a class trip to Rocky Mountain National Park on Thursday. The boy, Maxwell Madison, age 10, is claiming that he was saved from what would have been instant death by a “flying angel.”

Madison had wandered off from his class and was climbing rocks on an unmarked trail when the event occurred. “I turned away for two seconds, and he was gone,” said his supervisor, Elizabeth Elementary teacher John Shank. “The boy always finds trouble someplace, so I shouldn’t have been surprised.”

According to Shank, he realized where Madison had gone just in time to see him plummet off the 80-foot cliff. “My heart just sank. I reached the clearing just as he slipped on some loose stones and fell forward over the edge and out of sight,” said Shank. “I was horrified, to put it mildly.”

When Shank reached the edge of the cliff and peered over it, he was greeted with one of the strangest sights of his career. “Max was just standing on the ground at the bottom of the gorge,” said Shank. “I’ll never forget it. It was like he landed on his feet. We were around eight stories up. That shouldn’t have been possible.”

If Madison is to be believed, it wasn’t possible. “He saved me,” said Madison. “He was an older kid, like maybe in high school or college or something. But he was flying. He didn’t have wings, but you could just tell. He was a guardian angel. A real one. He caught me, put me down on the ground, and then just disappeared.”

Whether miracle or delusion, Maxwell’s family is certainly happy to have him home safe and sound. “We’re not blaming anyone,” said Ronda Madison, Maxwell’s mother. “And honestly, I don’t care if it was an angel, alien, or Bigfoot. I’m just happy my baby’s home in one piece.”

As is often the case in the books or comics that I write, three of the characters in that article were named after members of my family. In this case, my Aunt Ronda Manning, and two of her kids, Maxwell and Madison.

When I was putting the finishing touches on The Superman Files, I took an unexpected trip to Ohio and Indiana with my wife and kids. Ronda's husband, my uncle Tom Manning, passed away unexpectedly, so we headed to the midwest for his funeral service.

Having lived in New York, Connecticut, and North Carolina for the better part of two decades, I wasn't as close to my Uncle Tom as I was when I was kid. He was the uncle that bought me my first video game system (an Atari 2600), introduced our entire family to Laser Tag, and had a laugh straight out of a cartoon. Most every natural-born Manning has a certain off-beat sense of humor, and it certainly didn't skip Tom's generation. This was a man who once dropped a two-foot high stack of newspapers at my mom's feet, telling her there was a gift certificate inside, and also, "Merry Christmas."

I'll miss that humor, and the occasional chat with him at family gatherings. But most of all, I'll miss the look he and my dad would exchange when they said hello. It was a look of understood mischief that could only be shared by brothers who grew up in middle America in the 1950s.

I named a character in The Superman Files after my Uncle Tom before I knew I wouldn't see him again. The character Thomas Chapin (named also after Tom's oldest son) appears in another article on this same scrapbook page. It's not much of a tribute, but at least it made the cut. And if nothing else, I think it would have gotten a laugh out of him.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Superman Files...

Now that it's officially up for pre-order on Amazon, I can finally talk about the project I've been hammering away at for the last few months. The Superman Files is a scrapbook of sorts on the life and times of the Man of Steel. Just as I did with its predecessor, The Batman Files, I'll be handling the writing portion of the book, while Lionheart Books will be tackling the design, pulling (and in some cases altering) hundreds of illustrations from the comics, as well as commissioning plenty of new artwork and hand crafted "artifacts" from Superman's past.

Coming in at over 300 pages, this massive hardcover aims to be the most comprehensive life story of Clark Kent ever attempted. Told through the use of Superman's own journal entries, faux newspaper articles, Justice League crime files, schematics, and hundreds of "photographs" of the Last Son of Krypton in action, The Superman Files is going to really dig into the life of Superman in ways we've never seen before.

I'll be sure to post a few sample pages as soon as I get the okay, so keep checking back. From what I've seen so far, though, this book is going to look amazing...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Fall of the House of Usher...

Over two years ago, I sat in my Brooklyn apartment and adapted Edgar Allan Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher into comic book form. One move to Connecticut and one daughter later, and the book finally arrived on my doorstep.

Stone Arch Books really went out of their way to make the hardcover edition of this book stand out. It has a bit of a rubberized feel to it, and is even nicer than the library bindings they normally do. It's a really great looking graphic novel, in no small part thanks to Jim Jimenz who handled the art half of our collaboration. If you'd like a copy, head to your local book store, or click here.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year...

Happy New Year, everyone. This year I'm looking forward to my newest long term project due out in May...