Archive for July, 2010

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Jeff Smith’s ‘Tall Tales’ Hits Shelves in August

July 30, 2010

The wait is almost over.

Jeff Smith’s epic comic series Bone really needs no introduction given the immense world-wide popularity it has achieved since bursting onto the indy scene in the early 90’s…but if by chance you’ve never experienced Smith’s fantastic b&w strips then take a moment to visit Jeff Smith’s Boneville blog and then run (though driving may work) to your nearest book seller of choice and pick up the massive One Volume Edition clocking in at a whopping 1300 black and white pages! It is truly a masterpiece that you don’t want to miss.

But the real reason for this post is to tell you about the comic & prose graphic novel that Jeff Smith and writer Tom Sniegoski have put together that will once more transport readers to the fantastical world of Boneville. Readers will once again be treated to several stories set in Jeff Smith’s fantastical world with Tall Tales setting the stage for a series of novels that is being releasing this fall in the Quest for the Spark trilogy. More on these books in Scholastic’s official press release:

Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, is delighted to announce the acquisition of US, Canada, Philippines, and English Language rights to new titles by Jeff Smith featuring characters from his bestselling BONE series of graphic novels. First to be published will be ‘BONE: Tall Tales,’ coming in Summer 2010, written by Jeff Smith and Tom Sniegoski, and illustrated by Jeff Smith, featuring new art and stories with favorite BONE characters. In addition, Scholastic will publish a highly-anticipated expansion of the BONE world—the Quest for the Spark Trilogy. Overseen by Smith, the trilogy will be written by Tom Sniegoski and illustrated by Jeff Smith. ‘BONE Quest for the Spark: Book One’ (Fall 2010), ‘BONE Quest for the Spark: Book Two’ (Spring 2011), and ‘BONE Quest for the Spark: Book Three’ (Summer 2011) represent the first time Smith has continued the adventures set in the valley since the publication of Rose, the prequel to the BONE series—to be released by Scholastic/Graphix in August 2009. The deal for additional BONE publishing was negotiated by Vijaya Iyer for Cartoon Books/Jeff Smith and by David Saylor, Vice President, Creative Director of Trade Publishing and Editorial Director of Graphix, for Scholastic.

There are more than 4.5 million BONE books in print from Scholastic since the Graphix imprint first launched with the full-color version of “Bone #1: Out from Boneville” in 2005. Time Magazine named BONE one of the top ten graphic novels of all time, and Smith is the winner of multiple awards, including ten Eisner Awards and eleven Harvey Awards—two of the most respected awards in the comics industry.

‘Jeff Smith has hinted over the years that there’s more to discover in the world of BONE,’ said David Saylor, Vice President, Creative Director of Scholastic Trade Publishing and Editorial Director of Graphix, a Scholastic imprint. ‘So it’s an incredibly exciting moment for Scholastic and for fans of BONE that we’ll now be publishing books that extend and enrich Jeff’s brilliantly original series.’

‘I always said I would find a way to draw more Bone stories, and now I have,’ said Jeff Smith. ‘Tom is great to work with and we’re going to have a lot of fun!’

Be on the look out for Bone: Tall Tales as early as August 1st at some retailers (Amazon, for example).

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GRRM’s ‘A Game of Thrones: Genesis’

July 21, 2010

Last May the internet and I stumbled upon news that Cyanide Studios would develop a game based on GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire series and in the year that followed that single post has easily been one of the most popular here at the blog. And while I’m grateful for that, hopefully it means that (a) more than a few of you are excited about the possibility of playing in the Game of Thrones sandbox and (b) that Cyanide Studios will put as much care and effort into the game that they can muster knowing the multitude of devotees this series has that are hoping for something great.

Thanks to the press release that follows we find out that A Game of Thrones: Genesis will be a strategy title with multiple paths to take and ways in which to play, so I’ll be interested to see how the idea translates to the actual game play in the months to come. It’s an interesting approach to the series, and one that seems rather appropriate I’ll admit, and if the concept art is any indication you’ll want to at least keep an eye on this one.

From Cyanide Studios:

A Game of Thrones: Genesis” plunges you into the heart of the battles and intrigues between the Families that shaped the Kingdom of Westeros.

However, victory does not necessarily result from brute force. The innovative game mechanics provide players with numerous paths to success: will you opt for a military, economic or diplomatic approach? Trickery, treachery and deceit are widespread and you will constantly have to watch your back if you want to avoid a bitter defeat!

Peacefully or forcefully annex surrounding territories, besiege enemy castles, send spies to infiltrate behind enemy lines, assassinate trouble-making officers or capture them to ask for a ransom… When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground!

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Raymond Swanland at Dark Horse

July 19, 2010

Raymond Swanland has drawn a good measure of critical acclaim to himself for his illustrated covers of Glen Cook’s Bad Company series, as well as several other fantasy tomes in recent years, and I wanted to make sure that fans of his work didn’t miss out on what he’s been busy doing over at Dark Horse Comics, where he’s been working on covers for Aliens vs. Predators and most recently, Jim Shooter’s Magnus, Robot Fighter and Turok, Son of Stone. Those ol’ Gold Key characters are fascinating properties in their own right so be sure to check them out, particular with author Jim Shooter at the helm!

Here’s more about the premiere issue of Turok, Son of Stone and it’s bonus story From DHC:

Turok, wandering warrior from a far land, rescues Andar, son of a Chiricahua chief, from the ruthless King Maxtla and his Aztec horde. Pursued into a vast cavern, prey and predators are swept away by an unimaginable force to a savage, timeless land of nightmares and miracles, where dinosaurs thunder and rampage. Beset by bloodthirsty enemies and beasts, Turok and Andar encounter an even deadlier threat—the fearsome Panther People and their mesmerizing goddess, Aasta.

Turok, Son of Stone returns, reimagined by legendary writer Jim Shooter and illustrated by hot new talent Eduardo Francisco (Victory, Executive Assistant: IRIS).

• 48-page first issue, includes the very first Turok story from 1954!

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Recent Acquisitions (July 2010)

July 19, 2010

Half-Price books had one of their coupon events here in North Texas last week (20-50% off, Monday-Sunday), and while the sale always looks to threaten my monthly “entertainment” budget when it rears its head,  this time I managed to get out without doing too much damage. The last time was significantly worse.

Here’s what I picked up:

– For Liberty and Glory: Washington, Lafayette, and Their Revolutions by James R. Gaines ($8)

– Good Night, Mr. Holmes by Carole Nelson Douglas ($2, local author)

– An Iliad and Odyssey study guide ($2, pardon me for being unable to recall the title off-hand)

Peter & Max: A Fables Novel HC by Bill Willingham ($14, got this one from Amazon. I enjoyed the audio version so much I had to pick up the HC release)

[And sadly, I’ll soon be closing the final chapter on Guy Gavriel Kay’s Under Heaven (now that my summer course has ended) so expect a review of it here at Follow that Raven in the near future.]

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Persona 3 Portable (PSP) Arrives!

July 12, 2010

One of the final surprises the Playstaion 2 offered up was Atlus’ Persona 3  & Persona 3: FES , an RPG based in the Shin Megami Tensei series — a peculiar but fascinating Japanese RPG franchise — which ended up taking the gaming world by storm. I should confess that I’ve been playing FES on and off for the last year and a half or so as time permitted (yes, life has kept me that busy I’m afraid). By all means, I’ve really enjoyed my time playing and have honestly been in no real hurry to finish as I always look forward to jumping back into the game when I can and relishing in the combat, fusions, and strategy, while taking in the story, social links and all that the characters have to offer. That said, I suppose I should get a move on one of these days because I’ve still got Persona 4 patiently waiting in the wings for me to enjoy…

So, to help me with that, I went ahead and purchased Persona 3 Portable for the PSP as well. Fortunately, this portable version features new content all its own, including a female protagonist and control over your entire party in battle, along with several other features, with the added benefit being that I’ll likely be able to get through it much quicker due to its hand-held nature. I can take it with me on trips, play on breaks at work and school, and all kinds of places so that I’m not quite tethered to my television at home, and up late at night, in order to play.

I was able to fire it up for ~ an hour and a half this afternoon and can happily report that it’s just as good as its PS2 brothers, in its own ways. Unfortunately, the animated movies are gone, along with a few other minor losses, but the interface is really nice, the character models are just as slick, the battles look and play just as you remember them and the new additions the game offers more than make up for what was cut. In addition to the changes noted above there are new challenge bosses, two new difficulty levels, brand new social links and much more. It all goes a long way toward making this a must own for fans of the Persona series. And that you can go back and play as the protagonist you didn’t choose the first time and experience entirely new events, fusions, etc. speaks to the sheer amount of content and re-playability the game has to offer.

Tell you what though, I’m going to have to play a real juggling act between my PSP and DS over the next few months because in a few days Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies arrives as well!

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The Way of Kings, Ch. 4-6 Audio From Tor.com

July 8, 2010

Well that was quick! And look who they brought to the party…

From Tor.com:

Last month, we released a sneak peek of The Way of Kings only to registered Tor.com members. Now, thanks to our friends at Macmillan Audio, you can come listen to chapters 4-6! Michael Kramer and Kate Reading, who tackled the Wheel of Time together, pair up again to satisfy your curiosity.

You can still read the prelude, the prologue, and chapters 1-3 on the site; just remember that you have to be logged in to do it.

Listen to The Way of Kings Chapters 4-6 audio here.

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Flight Anthology, Volume Seven Preview

July 6, 2010

Just wanted to do a good deed for the day and let you folks know about the new preview of the latest volume in the Flight anthology series. These collections really aren’t to be missed, and Vol. 7 features stories and/or art by indy heroes Kazu Kabiushi, Michel Gagne, Justin Gerard, and many more. Judging by the grandiose scale of the previews this is going to be a real treat, so if you’re return fan go and check it out pronto my friend. If you’re new to the series, well, I envy the discoveries ahead and encourage you to take a look at this, and past volumes.

Really impressive work all around, though I’ll admit to being most excited about seeing Kazu Kabiushi’s “The Courier: Shortcut” in full:

We could go around the mountains, but that would take days. No. When we’re on the job, the freight moves faster. We always choose the shortest path from A to B. So, really, that only leaves us one choice. We take the expressway.

Look for Flight Vol. 7 in stores and online July 20th!

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Review: Peter & Max by Bill Willingham

July 5, 2010

Peter & Max by Bill Willingham

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Set in the imaginative realm of the award-winning comic book series FABLES, PETER and MAX is a stand-alone prose novel – the first ever published starring FABLES characters!

Long ago, in the deepest dark of The Black Forest, two brothers – Peter Piper and his older brother Max – encountered ominous forces that changed them both irreparably. Thus begins an epic tale of sibling rivalry, magic, music and revenge that spans medieval times to the present day, when their deadly conflict surfaces in the placid calm of modern day Fabletown.

What Drew Me to the Book:

Already a huge fan of Bill Willingham’s Fables series at DC Comics (Vertigo imprint) it didn’t take much to sell me on the idea of a prose novel set in the same fascinating Fables world in which Willingham would have hundreds of pages with which to bring these rich characters to life once more, and in an entirely new way.

The Review:

Who doesn’t like the idea of taking an established fairy-tale, and turning it on its head with a clever twist or two? Disney’s Enchanted rocketed to the tops of the box office when it was released several years ago based on such a premise and if the popularity of Bill Willingham’s Fables comic series is any indication there remains an even larger audience just waiting in the wings to eat this kind of thing up. My wife, for example, was intrigued as I explained the premise behind Fables to her a couple of weeks ago. She smiled at the possibilities that lay in store as clever twists are placed on old tales, and she surprised me one night as I arrived home from work with the news that she had devoured Fables Vol. 3: Storybook Love, which I had laid on my nightstand several nights earlier. She was full of all kinds of questions about the Fables and I’m hoping that the series will become something that we can enjoy together as she takes future steps into Fabletown. So, having finished Peter & Max several days ago I can now heartily recommend that she, and other potential fans, try Bill Willingham’s prose novel to that end.

From start to finish the novel cleverly builds on the familiar stories of Peter Piper (who once picked a peck of pickled peppers) and his brother Max, better known as the Pied Piper. The novel follows these two brothers throughout the course of their young lives and into the future as the choices, prejudices and tragedies of their youth threaten the lives of  their family and countless others as they grow into manhood and are forced to confront one another as opposing forces of good and evil. One of the more clever storytelling devices that Willingham employs in Peter & Max is that he alternates chapters between past and  present adventures, following each of the main characters as he does so that we see how past events are driving the modern conflict between the characters. This approach gives the reader that much more to chew on and that’s always a good thing when there’s so much meat to the story.

Seriously, this isn’t your grandfather’s storybook fairy-tale, not when our hero is former member of a thieves guild and expertly trained in the finer points of assassination (as is his wife) but who also has the gentile nature you’d expect from a boy who plays the flute, and is simply known as “Peter.” It’s finding out just how these twists work into the fairy-tale setting we think we know so well that always hooks the reader and helps to make these stories fun to experience, particularly when Willingham has all the room he needs to really open up the story and get at the heart of his characters. Because as fun as the surprises are, and as gripping as the narrative is throughout (I struggle to recall a single lull in the telling)  it’s the characters that you really serve to warm your heart (or in the case of a couple of them, freeze it) and who you’ll remember when you close the final page.

Peter & Max is one of those stories that you’ll read again and again. It’s full of the same magic you find in your favorite fairy-tales of old, but with an added measure of maturity and cleverness that you’ll appreciate as an adult.  And please, don’t be put off in the least by the fact that you may never have read his Fables comic series as it isn’t necessary to have enjoyed those to really get a hold of this one. Willingham gives the new reader everything he or she will need to begin creating his world in their minds, and if by chance you’re already a Fables fan, then you’ll have plenty of additional material to chew on in the newest adventure. There’s something for everyone here and I give Peter & Max my highest recommendation as a result! Here’s hoping that this is one of many Fables novels to come.

If Peter & Max sounds like something you’ll enjoy, you can preview the first two chapters while enjoying the lush illustrations of Fables artist Steve Leialoha here at DC’s Vertigo blog. Now, to print these off for my wife…

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The Way of Kings, Future Audio

July 1, 2010

For several weeks now (and by no means “news” to 90% of you) Tor.com has had the prelude, prologue, and the first 3-chapters of Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings available to read, but by way of a brief update, author Brandon Sanderson has made mention on his blog that at least “one of the upcoming previews” will likely be available in audio form, as well:

Remember how last year Tor.com previewed the second chapter of the audiobook of THE GATHERING STORM? Well, at least one of the upcoming previews of THE WAY OF KINGS on Tor.com is going to be in audio form, and Wheel of Time audiobook fans should be pleased with who you hear reading the chapters.

So, not only do we get to preview more of the book but we’ll also be able to do so from the comfort of our favorite electronic devices  (as read by someone many fans will certainly appreciate) — which means I’ll be able to multi-task and enjoy it while trying to accomplish the umpteen other things I’ve got to get done.

And, as with most of his releases, The Way of Kings will ultimately be available in complete audio book form, so many of you can look forward to that as well. Great news all around, and thanks to Brandon Sanderson and Tor for all their efforts to reach their fans.