Ben Byrd has been a professional web designer and creative director for a long time. When he lost his then-current job a couple years ago, he made the decision to dive head-first into his artwork. And so he began displaying his colorful pictures of fantasy characters and comic book icons at art shows and fannish conventions all over. A quick look at his web site will show you just how prolific he has been. Now, he’s self-published his very first illustrated book for children, simply titled Dragons. Written by Tatiana Topyrik and illustrated by Mr. Byrd, it’s a rhyming bedtime story ostensibly for young kids, but older fantasy fans should enjoy it too. It’s available now on Amazon.
image c. 2017 by Ben Byrd
Another one we missed last year, but caught up with this time: Lost Cactus is a full-color on-line comic strip written and illustrated by John Hopkins. Lost Cactus is also, it seems, a top-secret government facility hidden in the desert, where our leaders hide things they don’t want the general public to know about. Things like an irradiated, talking squirrel; a giant anthropomorphic bee; and a small-sized anthropomorphic dinosaur or two. Much silliness ensues when these and other denizens of the Lost Cactus facility interact with the human scientists and military there to run the show — supposedly. Many of the comic strips (and other goodies) have been collected in a new Lost Cactus book, Lost Cactus: The First Treasury. It’s available over at Amazon. You might find out more over at the Lost Cactus web site, but we can neither confirm nor deny that rumor…
image c. 2017 by John Hopkins
We got this direct from Anime News Network. Seven Seas Entertainment have licensed Spica Aoki’s fantasy manga series Beasts of Abigaile for distribution in North America. Here’s what the publishers say: “Beasts of Abigaile follows a young woman’s fantastical adventures in the mythical country of Ruberia—and all the trials, tribulations, and attractive half-beast people that come with it! In this exciting new series loosely inspired by the classic fable of Little Red Riding Hood, readers will embark on a beautifully-illustrated journey of magical adventure and romance. Tsukishiro Nina has just arrived in the beautiful country of Ruberia, and its charming denizens and lush scenery are like a fairy tale come true. That is until she’s beset by a mysterious young man with a steely gaze and furry wolf ears—who promptly bites her! Nina finds herself turning into one of these beasts of legend, and whisked away to the prison of Abigaile where all their kind are sent. Nina must keep her wits about her if she’s to learn the secrets of this magical world where everyone either makes her blood boil or her young heart race!” Look for it to be released in black & white this June.
image c. 2017 Seven Seas Entertainment
Titan Books have released a new science fiction anthology called Planet of the Apes: Tales from the Forbidden Zone. It features an impressive roster of authors presenting stories set in the world of the original five-movie Planet of the Apes series, or in the world of the 1974 live-action TV series (which is not exactly the same world, but close). “The 1968 film Planet of the Apes was a seminal work of science fiction that inspired generations of filmmakers and authors. Now a who’s who of modern writers — including Kevin J. Anderson, Nancy Collins, Jonathan Maberry, and John Jackson Miller [and many more] — produces sixteen brand-new, exclusive stories… Each writer will explore a different drama within the post-apocalyptic world, treating readers to their unique visions and non-stop adventure.” Edited by Rich Handley and Jim Beard, it’s available now in paperback at Amazon.
image c. 2017 Titan Books
Whoops! How did we miss this one? A year ago Graphix brought us Bunny vs. Monkey, a full-color all-ages graphic novel by Jamie Smart. What’s it about? Look at the title! Well now, it’s time for Bunny vs. Monkey: Book 2, just hitting the shelves. “Welcome to the Woods! A peaceful home, until…ZAP! ZAAPPP! ZAAAPPPPP!!! It’s Monkey in a hovercraft that fires lasers! Science and nature fight again! With robotic worms! Trojan mooses! And lemony doomsday devices! It’s the continuing battle between good and evil…It’s Bunny vs Monkey: Book Two!” You heard it here. Now check it out over at Goodreads.
image c. 2017 Graphix
There’s a new full-color trade paperback on its way from IDW publishing, one that brings together comics from several celebrated Disney comic artists — all of them presenting stories set at the Disney Parks! Here’s what they say: “Sixty years of Disney Parks—who knew? Now IDW is celebrating with decades of Disney’s classic Park-themed adventure comics! Carl Barks‘ Scrooge McDuck and Donald travel from the Mark Twain Riverboat to the top of the Matterhorn… then Mickey investigates the strange disappearance of the Country Bear Jamboree. And is that the real Pegleg Pete standing in for the Cast Member who plays him?” Featuring stories and art from Carl Barks, Giorgio Cavazzano, Massimo Fecchi, and Victor “Vicar” Arriagada Rios, Donald and Mickey: The Magic Kingdom Collection comes to comic book stores this January.
image c. 2016 IDW Publishing
Like many other fans, we were disappointed to recently be informed that Dreamworks Animation has pushed back the release date of How To Train Your Dragon 3 again — this time to the spring of 2019. But in the meantime came some good news: Early next year Dark Horse Press is releasing a new full-color graphic novel, How To Train Your Dragon — The Serpent’s Heir. “Picking up just after the events in How to Train Your Dragon 2, Hiccup, Astrid, and company are called upon to assist the people of an earthquake-plagued island. But their lives are imperiled by a madman and an incredible new dragon who even Toothless—the alpha dragon—may not be able to control!” The big news is that Dean Deblois, who has worked on the Dragons movie series as both writer and director, is one of the co-scripters of this new graphic novel (along with Richard Hamilton). Hollywood Reporter has an interview with the creative team.
image c. 2016 Dark Horse Press
This is from a couple of years ago, but we just found it recently at Comic Con in San Diego. Mouseheart is a fantasy adventure series for young readers, written by Lisa Fiedler and illustrated by Vivienne To. “Hopper is just an ordinary pet-shop mouse—until he escapes. Soon he finds himself below the bustling streets of Brooklyn, deep within the untamed tangles of transit tunnels, and in Atlantia, a glorious utopian rat civilization. But all is not as it seems. Hopper misses Pinkie and Pup, the siblings he lost in the escape attempt. Atlantia is constantly threatened by roving rebels who wish to bring the city to its knees. And there are cats everywhere, cats who would normally eat a rodent in a second, but leave the rats unharmed . . . and no one can seem to answer why. Soon Hopper is caught in the cross-hairs of an epic battle, one that spans generations and species. As the clashes rage, Hopper learns terrible, extraordinary secrets.” Mouseheart was published in 2014 by Margaret K. McElderry Books. Since then there have been two more, Hopper’s Destiny and Return of the Forgotten. There’s lots more at the official Mouseheart web site.
image c. 2016 Margaret K. McElderry Books
Another giant monster comic — this time, a black & white classic returns. According to Previews: “The giant kaiju return to ravage the Earth in the first volume of cult genre legend Mike Wolfer’s War Monsters! Originally released in 1987-89, Wolfer’s Daikazu series was his first published work, and issues #1-5 of the giant monster rumble are collected here for the first time ever in one giant volume! On a remote Pacific island, a group of strangers accidentally stumble upon the secret, underground base of a mad geneticist responsible for the creation of two gigantic behemoths, and only the ancient ‘god’ Daikazu stands against them in an earth-shaking battle that climaxes in downtown Tokyo!” The first issue arrives with a Bang at the end of November.
image c. 2016 by Mike Wolfer