If you’re reading this now, we have successfully completed another turn around the sun—not the giant star that shines upon humanity’s universe, mind, but that giant star that lights up the universe of geeks and nerds around the world.
I am, of course, talking about San Diego Comic-Con.
After listening to years of secondhand hype about the event, I finally had the chance to attend the con this year. Nothing could have prepared me for the exhilarating, exhausting, and just downright fun that comes with being there. I’ll save the full recap of my adventures for next month—right now we’re going to take a deep dive into the SDCC news cycle. Keeping up with the con’s breaking news was overwhelming enough for me while actually attending; I can only imagine the barrage of news that hit social media at the same time.
Out of all the media winners and losers of the con, few came out and presented their slate of new material quite as well as Dark Horse Comics did—and I don’t say that just because the publisher is under my Pubwatch purview. With new series announcements, the upcoming second wave of Berger Books, and some well-deserved award honors, Dark Horse deftly secured its place as a formidable force in the comic book industry. So, in case you missed all the great news, let’s circle back on that with a special edition of the Presenting Dark Horse Pubwatch.
Karen Berger Honored at the 2018 Eisner Awards
On Friday, July 20th, SDCC held its 30th Annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards in an eagerly packed corner of the Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel. The shadow of the industry’s overall sexism looms large over annual award ceremonies such as these, especially for the Eisners, since women made up under 25 percent of last year’s list of nominees. But things seem to, finally, be changing for the better.
Not only did this year’s nominee list see a marginal improvement in its still-long pursuit of equal gender representation, but these female nominees dominated the night when award announcements came rolling in. Marjorie Liu became the first woman to win the Best Writer award, and she won five more Eisners for her Monstress title. Emil Ferris won three Eisners for Best Writer/Artist, Best Coloring, and Best New Graphic Album for My Favorite Thing is Monsters. Tillie Walden became one of the youngest Eisner winners in history for her graphic memoir Spinning. The Best Limited Series award went to Roxane Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Alitha E. Martinez’s Black Panther: World of Wakanda run. Elements: Fire won Best Anthology, bestowing an Eisner onto almost 30 queer creators of color and editor Taneka Stotts. And several women were finally inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame for their extensive work in transforming the industry with excellent works, such as legendary manga artist Rumiko Takahashi, late cartoonist Jackie Ormes, and Dark Horse’s own Berger Books editor Karen Berger.
— Heidi MacDonald (@Comixace) July 21, 2018
Berger’s influence cannot be understated. As the founder of DC’s mature imprint Vertigo, she personally nurtured an era of groundbreaking, critically acclaimed titles like Fables, Hellblazer, Preacher, V for Vendetta, and Y: The Last Man. She now continues this two-decade legacy of stunning creativity at Dark Horse through its new Berger Books imprint, which officially launched last year. Berger is an editorial powerhouse, and she has been awarded Best Editor by the Eisners in 1992, 1994, and 1995. This latest honor clearly is the richly deserved culmination of an illustrious comics career. So, a very hearty congratulations!
The Second Wave of Berger Books
Speaking of the Berger Books imprint, Dark Horse took some time at SDCC to announce the start of its second wave of titles. The first wave was comprised of four main titles: Hungry Ghosts, an anthology led by the late Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose; Incognegro: Renaissance, the prequel series to Incogengro: A Graphic Mystery by Mat Johnson, Warren Pleece, and Clem Robins; the Mata Hari biography by Emma Beeby, Ariela Kristantina, and Pat Masioni; and the post-apocalyptic thriller The Seeds by Ann Nocenti and David Aja. Additionally, the first wave of Berger Books released anniversary trade reprints of Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery and The Originals: The Essential Edition by Dave Gibbons.
Berber Books’ second wave of titles, which will begin publishing this fall and into 2019, lean more into the magical realism and science fiction genres. Plus, like with the first wave, there is an array of diverse comics talent behind these upcoming titles that only affirm the imprint’s unique excellence. Be on the lookout for the following awesome new series:
* She Could Fly by Christopher Cantwell, Martin Morazzo, and Miroslav Mrva
One day, an unknown woman appears flying above the city of Chicago at speeds of 120 miles per hour and at heights reaching 2,000 feet. While her time in the skies is short, her existence sparks the imaginations and raises the suspicions of citizens around the world, including a struggling young woman named Luna who comes to believe the mysterious flying woman is her own personal savior.
* Olivia Twist by Darin Strauss, Adam Dalva, and Emma Vieceli
In a futuristic, dystopian version of London, teenage orphan Olivia Twist joins a rag-tag girl gang of thieves in order to save a boy she barely knows. While this new clique helps her earn seemingly endless wealth and power, Olivia also becomes exposed to an urban underbelly of internment camps, dark technology, and increasingly serious threats to her own life.
* LaGuardia by Nnedi Okorafor and Tana Ford
At LaGuardia International and Interstellar Airport, the famous titular airport is a purgatory for human and alien travelers alike. After barely clearing customs herself, a pregnant Nigerian-American doctor named Future Nwafor Chukwuebuka is just trying to start a new life in New York in a mix-species refugee community. But a dark secret from her past is looking to disrupt everything she is working so hard to preserve.
* The Alcoholic by Jonathan Ames and Dean Haspiel
This tenth-anniversary edition retells the heartbreaking yet hilarious tale of a “boozed-up, coked-out, and sexually confused writer.” Hopeless in love and on a desperate search to find himself, this writer embarks on various zany adventures to try and change his life for the better… unfortunately, all his best-laid plans seem to end at the bottom of a bottle every time.
* Invisible Kingdom by G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward
This recently announced series tells the story of two women on the run in a small solar system of a far-flung galaxy. A young religious acolyte and a hard-bitten freighter pilot individually uncover an unholy conspiracy between the leader of the Renunciation, the system’s dominant religion, and Lux, the corporation that controls their society. With both organizations gunning for their heads, this unlikely pair of rebels must join forces and decide whether revealing the truth is worth plunging their world into total anarchy.
Hellboy Turns 25 with Three New Book Series
We have a birthday boy in our midst, folks, and this is one celebrated figure I’m pretty excited to be the same age as. Hellboy, the star of creator Mike Mignola’s titular magnum corpus, made his first complete appearance in San Diego Comic Con Comics #2 in August 1993, and Mignola has long since solidified Hellboy’s place as a pop culture powerhouse. In honor of the character’s upcoming quarter decade anniversary, Dark Horse will spend November and December 2018 premiering three new titles that dig into the depths of the Mignolaverse.
* Crimson Lotus by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Mindy Lee, Michelle Madsen, and Tonci Zonjic
Before she was Lobster Johnson’s greatest enemy, the Crimson Lotus was a young girl whose family got caught up in the Russo-Japanese war. As she exacts her revenge years later, two spies are tasked with chasing her through China before her violent actions spark terrifying international ramifications.
* Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1956 by Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson, Yishan Li, Mike Norton, Michael Avon Oeming, Dave Stewart, and Dave Johnson
The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Development is having a rough year in 1956, and this series examines these troubles through three intersecting storylines. Pressure is mounting at the bureau to uncover the Soviet Union’s secret plans, but a suspicious internal cover-up leads one agent to go rogue in search for answers. Soviet occult leader Varvara is pushing her team to follow her orders—potentially to their breaking point. And Hellboy has just been sent on the mission that leads to his infamous struggles down in Mexico.
* Hellboy Winter Special by Mike Mignola, Fábio Moon, Gabriel Bá, Tonci Zonjic, Ben Stenbeck, and Dave Stewart
Ring in this year’s holiday season with three themed stories from some of fans’ favorite Mignolaverse creative talent. Creator Mignola and Ben Stenbeck will team up to tell the tale of a New Year’s Eve séance that goes straight to hell when Hellboy visits an English family’s home. Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá return to the world of B.P.R.D.: Vampire. And Tonci Zonjic is back to bring us more insight into Lobster Johnson.
New Chapters for Dr. Horrible, The Umbrella Academy, Alien, and… Wreck-It Ralph (!?)
Separate chapters, of course—though I’m sure fans would be up for a good crossover event in the future. Dark Horse ended SDCC by announcing an impressive lineup of upcoming licensed franchise additions and series premieres. So, to wrap up this Pubwatch, let’s look at all the new series you’ll definitely want to add to your LCS pull list:
* Dr. Horrible: Best Friends Forever by Joss Whedon, José Maria Beroy, Sara Soler, Dan Jackson, Fábio Moon, and Francesco Francavilla
During the Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog 10th Anniversary celebration panel in Hall H, writer/director/producer Joss Whedon announced that the beloved series will have a special one-shot this year. In Dr. Horrible: Best Friends Forever, time temptress Hourglass is in danger and calls on Dr. Horrible and Captain Hammer for assistance. Luckily this team of best friends is on the case, and they’ll prove to the world how fantastic their friendship is along the way…maybe.
* The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion by Gerard Way, Gabriel Bá, Nate Piekos, and Nick Filardi
While we’re all eagerly awaiting The Umbrella Academy adaptation on Netflix, return to the comic series that started it all with a new miniseries from the celebrated dynamic duo Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá. After Sir Reginald’s death, the Umbrella Academy is scattered around the world: Number Five is a hired gun, Kraken is stalking big game, Rumor is dealing with the wreckage of her marriage, a rotund Spaceboy runs around the streets of Tokyo, Vanya continues her physical therapy after being shot in the head, and Seance is apparently in so much trouble that “no one even wants to mention [it] until issue #2.” But as always, get ready for some epically dysfunctional drama.
* Alien 3 by William Gibson, Johnnie Christmas, Tamra Bonvillain, James Harren, Daniel Warren Johnson, Paolo Rivera, Tradd Moore, and Christian Ward
The Aliens franchise and Dark Horse Comics go together like butter on rye, and starting this winter the publisher will finally adapt William Gibson’s original, unproduced version of Alien 3 script in comic form. Following the events of Aliens, the Union of Progressive Peoples discovers the spaceship carrying the hibernating bodies of Ripley, Hicks, Newt, and Bishop. Unfortunately, they have also picked up another deadly passenger who will spark a new space race between two governments trying to weaponize the xenomorph. Expect this series to bring timely ruminations on the Cold War, fan favorites back from the dead, and lots of beautifully drawn decapitation.
* Disney Ralph Breaks the Internet – Click Start: Choose Your Own Internet Adventure! by Joe Caramagna, Amy Mebberson, Emilio Urbano, Andrea Greppi, and Amy Mebberson
Finally, here’s a fun new licensed franchise for the kids and all those adults young-at-heart. Featuring both a bonus sequel to Wreck-It Ralph and a prequel to Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet, this collection of stories follows the titular Ralph and Vanellope as they leave the arcade behind and begin their descent into the internet. From the wonderful world of the Disney website to the internet’s zanier underbelly, these choose-your-own-adventure tales are sure to entertain you until the upcoming sequel film’s release.
Coming soon to a Dark Horse Pubwatch near you…
1) A more expansive look at my first-time experience at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con! I am still very tired. It’s a mostly awesome feeling.
2) Book reviews of cool new titles!
3) A look at some of the innovative consumer services Dark Horse has in store for its fans!
4) Some more sleep, perhaps? We’ll see!