Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Heartbreakers Meet Boilerplate! 

This just in from Paul Guinan and Anina Bennet:

Our new graphic novel, Heartbreakers Meet Boilerplate, is being solicited right now for June publication--and it's like nothing you've seen before. We know everyone says that, but in this case it's true! Find out for yourself. Then contact us if you'd like an interview, pages to post on your site, or anything else we can provide.

The art for this book is an unprecedented combination of drawing, painting, and photography, which Paul calls "paintography." Steve Rude proclaims it "the future of comics." Another unique aspect is that the author herself, Anina, stars as the two main characters and a whole squad of clones. She both reassambles the long-lost Victorian robot, Boilerplate, and fights alongside him in this cinematic sci fi adventure.

In 1989, Heartbreakers blazed a trail for a new generation of female action heroes; now Heartbreakers Meet Boilerplate breaks new creative and technical ground. Heartbreakers has been called "unique, intriguing, and fiercely intelligent action/adventure" (Kurt Busiek); "superbly drawn and wittily written" (Batton Lash); and "a smart, hip, urban fable of the near future" (Mike Baron).

Boilerplate is an Internet phenomenon in its own right, garnering acclaim and press coverage around the world. Comments include:

"Charming" --U.S. News & World Report
"Amazing" --The Christian Science Monitor
"Awesome" --San Francisco Robotics Society of America
"Impressive" --Tim Gaskill, StarTrek.com
"Cool" --NASA Space Telerobotics Program
"VERY cool" --Mike Carlin, DC Comics

Heartbreakers Meet Boilerplate, a 104-page, manga-sized graphic novel written by Anina and illustrated by Paul, ships in June from IDW Publishing. IDW's press release is copied below.

Please let us know if you'll be covering Heartbreakers Meet Boilerplate and how we can help!

Anina Bennett
Paul Guinan

Kung Fu Clones and Robot Romance Arrive at IDW Publishing
Bennett & Guinan's Heartbreakers Meet Boilerplate To Hit Stores in June

San Diego, CA (DATE) The Heartbreakers, everyone's favorite female action-hero clones, team with the world-famous 19th-century robot known as Boilerplate in a science fiction adventure that will please old fans and gain legions of new readers as well.

Heartbreakers Meet Boilerplate features a revolutionary new art style developed by artist and Boilerplate creator Paul Guinan. His groundbreaking technique, know as "paintography," combines drawing, painting, and photography, enhanced by printing in rich brown ink, to achieve a look that simply must be seen to be believed. "Other comics have used photo-based art, but so far it's always looked clunky," comments Guinan. "I wanted to find a way of truly integrating the different media and giving it a more cohesive look-and I did it! I kind of surprised myself, in fact."

Heartbreakers creator/writer Anina Bennett pens this brand new tale, and also pulls double (or should that be triple?) duty by appearing as the heroines themselves! "I'm secretly a big ham," she confesses, "so this is a great way to satisfy my acting jones. The only tricky part is pulling off some of the action poses. Try holding still for the camera while you're being blown through the air by an explosion or throwing a roundhouse kick!"

When Boilerplate, lost since World War I, is found and reassembled by the Heartbreakers, robot love quickly blooms with their android, Femiquin 44. But all is not sweetness and light, as rogue researchers from Biovoc, the Heartbreakers' former corporate owner and nemesis, set their sights on dismantling the mechanical man to discover the valuable technology hidden inside.

Heartbreakers Meet Boilerplate intersperses a 73-page story with historical background on Boilerplate, including period photos. Boilerplate, already an international sensation, has been dubbed "cool" by NASA, has appeared in magazines and newspapers around the planet, and generates tens of thousands of hits per day on the creators' website, www.BigRedHair.com.

Heartbreakers Meet Boilerplate is a 6" x 8.5", 104-page comic digest appearing in June 2005. It's on page 320 of the April 2005 edition of PREVIEWS.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Preemptive Strike: BS Walks! 

Mercury is about to be featured again in a prominent Portland magazine (and you can be sure Kevin at Thought Balloons will know about it before we do, somehow) so I'd like to nip some things in the bud, as Barney Fife would say.

We've been soundly ignored on our recent plea to stop asking if you can bring your talented or directionless children by the studio. We have our own talented and directionless kids to watch after, thank you. Perhaps that was passed over with a snort of mirth because Lieber pleasantly injected some humor into the notice. It's the genteel way to say "please don't ask", and at one time, would have been enough. But now we live in a crude age where everyone feels overly entitled, thanks to Dr. Phil I assume, I don't know. Whatever reason, our society now needs ideas put to them like red shout lettering on signs at public swimming pools, or the 40 ft. wide No Returns policy on the wall at Best Buy. So I shall be very direct and humorless in the next paragraph.

DO NOT APPROACH US WITH YOUR IDEA THAT YOU WANT DRAWN FOR FREE. WE'RE CALLED "PROFESSIONALS" BECAUSE WE DON'T WORK FOR FREE. Do you ask your contractor to build on an addition to your workplace with the vague promise of "I'll cut you in if anything comes of it!"? Everyone in comics has to hear this periodically. Usually the Offender misrepresents himself, as if he already has a publishing/film/whatever deal lined up. And he's always willing to "cut you in" for an insulting percentage. I believe Mark Evanier covered this topic a while back, reminding creators that anyone suggesting you can work for free has already shown you how much value they place on your efforts. Now really, Prospective Entrepeneur Who Has Just Decided To Delve Into Comics, this isn't a chiding that applies to others but you've got something different going on. WE MEAN YOU. Oh, you've got an idea for a children's book? Well that's sweet. Ideas are a peso a dozen. It's about results. Cartoonists have plenty of ideas themselves, they don't need yours. If they're going to work on something for free, it'll be their own thing, that they own all of, not yours. Is that clear enough? And for people who are already in the comics industry who try this-- shame on you, you should know better.

Seriously. You try to talk to any of us about your Sure Thing without at least putting some money up, you're going to find a collection of Size 11's up your ass. At least the people with the kids aren't trying to take food out of our mouths. Now go buy a lottery ticket. Next: A More Pleasant Post.

--crabbed out by Parker, who's thoughts expressed may not represent the whole of Mercury Studios, but probably does.

P.s. Those essays by Mark Evanier are archived here, here, and here.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Your links for the weekend. 

DC Comics reports that
THE FLASH #219 and WONDER WOMAN #214, featuring the 2-part story "Truth or Dare," have sold out at DC Comics.
Drew Johnson's pencils on the Wonder Woman issue are something to see.

As further proof that Pete Woods is not dead, here's a page of his work on Catwoman.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of Sean McKeever, Matthew Clark's spectacular run on Inhumans has finally been collected. It's in a handsome, digest-sized format and we think it ships next week.

Read this:a good interview with Kyle Baker up at Popimage.

David Collier's Icelandic comicon diary is appearing daily at the CBC.

From a while back: A comic strip essay by Chester Brown My Mom was a schizophrenic.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Wednesday afternoon 

Thanks to the recent media coverage, we've had an ungodly number of requests for studio visits. Many of these are from people who think that a room full of overloaded electrical outlets and foul-mouthed freelancers fighting brutal deadlines would be the perfect place to bring an entire class of fifth graders. I'm sorry, but it isn't. We're just not set up for school tours.


There are days here when everyone is out with a client or working at home. There are also days when no one has time to look up from their board, much less give the kids a tour. On days like that, if little Billy decided to grab David Hahn's x-acto and cut himself open, no one would stop drawing long enough to find a bandage.

Want to plan a field trip? We recommend OMSI. They love kids, and they have a submarine. All we have are a couple of beat-up axes and some plastic fish.

In other news, as I write this, Drew Johnson is hard at work on The Fantastic Four Wedding Special, written by Karl Kesel. He has also put a pair of fine Wonder Woman pages (written by Greg Rucka, inked by Ray Snyder) up on ebay.

Chef Parker will be along with more recipies soon, I'm sure.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Lieber's Lentil Soup 


2 cups lentils (brown or green)

2 white/yellow onions


Tomatos or tomato paste- "some"

2 potatoes

Chicken-Style Seitan

Cumin-to taste

Carrots-1/4 cup

Possibly more garlic

Chopped Spinach- like, a quarter pound

This is what I'm working on while working, trying to duplicate Steve Lieber's Lentil Soup. Which is hard, because Steve's a real cook, which means he doesn't know what portions of which he uses, and it was pulling teeth to get him to guess at these calculations. And I couldn't find Seitan so I used free-range chicken broth. Anyway, you sautee those onions and garlic first, then add all the mixture together. I've put a fair amount of water in the pot to try to make this last a week, and if it's weak I'll try to compensate with chicken-flavored bouillon cubes. And at the end I'm going to throw in some chopped spinach and maybe celery. This would of course all work better if I were Lieber, who just tells his hands to start cooking and then follows them around the kitchen.

The other Mercury Studio Chef is Karl Kesel, and we'll see if maybe he'd like to share one of his recipes this week as well. I wouldn't trust it though, expect him to leave out a key ingredient or step, because Chef Supremes are not in the habit of giving away their hard-won methods. TOMORROW: Parker's Pigs-In-A-Blanket.

--Posted by Parker

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Hahn interviewed. 

"Being a typical, second-guessing, insecure artist type, I thought my fill-ins would fall flat on their face."

The Pulse interviews David Hahn about his fill-in on Fables.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

David Hahn is on the web 

This link will take you to Hahn Dynasty, David's brand new website. Let's encourage some linkage here. We've got three copies of David's convention sketchbook, All Nighter, to give away. Add a link to David's site from your website or blog, and let us know in the comments to this thread. A week from now we'll put the names in a hat and draw three. The winners will each get a copy of the sketchbook with an original sketch by David.

As you've doubtless heard, the Bill Loebs cause has been taken up by some pretty big people. The Mercury auctions from a couple of weeks ago went well, and now I've pulled something interesting out of the vault for this new benefit. A few years back, I was attached to a graphic novel project that got a lot of publicity, and attracted a lot of interest, but never happened, Morning Dragons. Here's a picture I drew for myself based on Warren Ellis's initial outline, way, way back when the project was first announced.

Pete Woods would like his friends to know that he's not dead.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

New Mercury photos 

New photos of our visit to the Emerald City Comic con in Seattle this February have been posted.

Also, we gotspictures of our lunch with DC bat-editor Bob Schreck. A favorite:

As a special bonus, pictures from last month's gallery exhibit, "Tell-tale Particles."


Feeling guilty- must post. 

We've been blog-negligent here at the studio. This means, I'm happy to say, that we've been making our deadlines rather than writing clever things here. Still, a neglected blog is an unhappy thing, so I thought I'd stick a few things of moderate interest out where everyone can see them.

Sean Stewart's wonderful fantasy novel Perfect Circle is up for a Nebula. We worked on a spin-off together, a short comic called "Family Reunion."

This was cool: Remember that student film of Me and Edith Head? Here's a photo from the set. Got to say, it looks pretty close to me. The actress playing Katrina is Shayna Weston.

Interviews with two artists everyone at Mercury admires: James Jean and Darwyn Cooke.

Negativland, he ain't: I see that this guy is going to be exhibiting at Blackfish Gallery here in Portland. Wow, cool: another fine artist "appropriating" a cartoonist's work and signing his own name to it. Perhaps in the future it won't even be neccesary to go through the trouble of projecting a cartoonist's hard work onto canvas and tracing it. Why not just scan it, crop it and put up a link to your "art?" Add an amazon tip jar and you're good to go.

Finally, since we've had some new traffic because of the Oregonian article, here's a brief essay from my site that I thought might be worth reposting for those of you who haven't seen it:

Thoughts on writing for an artist

There are several strategies involved in tailoring one's writing to the artist. On the most basic level, it means writing about the things they like to draw and avoiding their weaknesses. If an artist draws conspicuously unattractive women, a writer should keep that in mind when writing a story in which a woman's beauty is an important plot point. If the artist likes drawing dogs and can depict all the nuances of canine behavior, it'd be a good idea to write something about dogs for him.

Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan: Tales of Human Waste, despite being a collection of illustrated text pieces rather than comics, offers some good lessons in this. Flipping through it, it's remarkable how well the pieces play to the artists' strangths. Kevin McGuire's piece would've been meaningless if it had been drawn by someone less capable with facial expressions. Carla Speed McNeil's piece called for her ability to fill a space with funny, manic, perverse characters. Chris Sprouse's page demanded zooming architectural perspective to make an infinite urinal of The City.

There is a risk of typecasting when a writer does this, but (much as it pains me to say this) typecasting often happen for a reason. Really good writers will sometimes spot previously unrevealed capabilities in an artist and write for that, and the results can be breathtaking. And sometimes they just get lucky and push the artist in a direction he or she was ready to go.

Most of the content of a comics story is in the pictures. Imagine the same script, dilligently illustrated by Charles Schulz, George Perez and S. Clay Wilson. You'd have three completely different stories. Every artist, no matter how hard he works to communicate the writer's ideas, brings his own understanding of the world to any script he illustrates. A writer with an understanding of his collaborator's work is better prepared to write stories that make sense in that context.

-Steve Lieber

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