First off, Happy Canada Day (belated) to you fine Canadians reading this right now. Next, I?m like to wish the American folk a happy and safe 4th on Wednesday. For the rest of you, just have an awesome week.

This time around, I give you mostly items involving the creators themselves. First looks, exclusives, interviews, and Irredeemable Ant-Man. You know the drill.

Still, for the sake of some semblance of consistency here?s the?

Standard Disclaimer

      : All the Rage is a column written to entertain as well as inform. Rumours and some gossip can pop up here and you should know that it is just that: Rumour and gossip. Keep in mind that rumour and the like are

not

    the sole focus of ATR and never will be as long as I write it. I?ll be writing ATR for a while, too; so if that bothers you for some reason, there?s always whiling away your time with lawn darts or something. Anyhow, the factor score you see usually relates to one of two things?1) The ?truthinormity? of a particular rumour or piece of gossip; or 2) Just how damn cool something is. It?s that simple, really. I sincerely hope you enjoy our time together this week.

On with the Rage?


For Those of You Who Read Heroes for Hire?

You know that ?skull? issue people have been talking about? From what I understand, all of that over Heroes For Hire #15 isn?t just hype. In October, someone will most certainly die.

This Has A ?Skulls? Or Skrulls?? Factor Of Eight Out Of Ten


Bugging Phil Hester about Irredeemable Ant-Man

I really hate Irredeemable Ant-Man and I?m really happy it got cancelled. I?m also an incredibly poor liar, as you can plainly see. I?m not kidding when I say Ant-Man is the thing Marvel is publishing I cherish most. Sure, there are worse things than having a beloved title poop-canned, but I?m not being dunked in paint stripper at the moment, so I can?t tell you what those things are. Of course, I can only imagine how creators Robert Kirkman and Phil Hester feel about this. With that in mind, I talked with Phil via an extensive and complicated series of tubes about it, and then asked him a bit about what else he has on his plate?

(For you Eric O?Grady Ant-Man fans and you other readers, the images you see are unlettered pages from issue #11)

ATR: Phil, I’m crushed that my fave comic over at Marvel is cancelled. Done at issue #12. I can’t imagine you felt all that great about this decision either… When did you find out that Irredeemable Ant-Man was done and what was you immediate reaction to the news?
PH: We’ve been worried about the books future ever since sales came in on issue #1, but we didn’t get the official death notice until April. Of course, I was down about it, but I’m still proud of the work. I can’t even be angry at the people who didn’t try it. The market is so crowded these days that I find myself waiting too long to try books I know deserve my attention. That said, Marvel stuck by us long after our numbers warranted it. They let us go out the way we wanted to, so I have no bitterness.

ATR: But there’s always the good times, right? What were some of your favourite moments while on the book? What are some of the best parts of the story, in your mind?

PH: For me the best part of the experience was working with Robert. I’ve worked with a lot of great writers over the course of my career, and they’ve all brought a different talent to the table. I have to say, besides his gift for dialogue, Robert’s ability to turn the story on a dime has really surprised and inspired me. The book takes a left turn almost every issue and it never, ever got boring. I love the whole origin story, but I have to say that some of Robert’s best writing on the book has yet to be seen. The World War Hulk crossover, which actually has an impact on Eric, and the aftermath lay bare even more of his good and bad characteristics.

ATR: Is there any chance that you know of that Eric O’Grady (or any of the other characters, for that matter) will return? Will we see him in something else in the future?

PH: I vow to keep Ant-Man unspoiled, but I will say that readers looking for closure and readers looking for a glimmer of hope will both be satisfied.

ATR: Tony Lee (Starship Troopers, Midnight Kiss) wanted me to ask you: “One of the big things about IAM (as I love to call it) was of course the shock ending to issue #1. Was that always the plan, or was that editorially driven?”

PH: It was the plan from day one.

ATR: What’s next for you? Your work rocks, so please fill us in on what’s cookin’ and what else you have going on… What can you tell us about what you’re doing with The Darkness (on Top Cow)? Also, I and many others I know were wondering when your project Golly! is coming out on Image— wasn’t that supposed to come out on Markosia, by the way?

PH: Thanks for the kind words. I’m in the middle of the last issue of Ant-Man, and after that I have no real pencilling gig lined up. I need to take a month and clear out odds and ends, covers, commissions, etc.; then I’ll be back to some job or another. I’ll probably be looking in San Diego.

I’m well into writing The Darkness and I have to say that Rob Levin and company have made the job a real joy. I feel like we’re doing something new and different with the character, while at the same time returning him to his ass-kicking roots. I’m also very lucky to have Michael Broussard drawing the thing. He’s startlingly good.

As far as Golly! goes. It was meant to ship from Markosia, but our creative team was having a hard time meeting the deadlines the company needed us to hit, so they graciously let us out of our contract before we got mired in any sort of mess. We went to ground to get as many issues in the can as possible before it was solicited and Image was cool with this plan. A publication date will be announced only when issue #4 is pencilled. I’ve learned a lesson from the inexcusably delayed fourth issue of The Atheist (which is still forthcoming… really!). That said, I think the book is going to be worth the wait. Brook Turner is going to blow people away with his art.

I’ll also have a book debuting this August from Desperado called Thirteen Steps that’s about a werewolf in a twelve step program designed to help him stop preying on humans. It’s a horror comedy/drama co-written by my pal Chuck Satterlee and me and drawn by the budding superstar Kevin Mellon.

Andy Kuhn and I are also at work on a new Firebreather series from Image. I’m also relaunching The Atheist as Antoine Sharpe from Desperado. Isn’t that enough for you people?

ATR: Whew! You?re a busy guy. I have to know: What is your dream project. If you could do anything, man, what would it be?

PH: In a perfect world I would do a Rubber Blanket type of anthology. Just four, fat quarterly issues of my work a year that ranged from artsy little slice of life short stories to horror to superhero epics.

As far as big two work goes- I’d love to write and draw Swamp Thing again for DC. I’d also love to revamp Ragman. At Marvel I’d love to write and draw Wolverine. I’d also like to draw The Hulk and write the FF [Fantastic Four].

ATR: Thanks for taking the time to let me grill you, Phil. You won’t hold it against me, eh?

PH: Nope!

Hmm? I bet he still holds it against me. I?ll have to watch my back at SDCC.

(More Atheist? Woot!)

Seriously, though, you lot need to help save Ant-Man, dammit! There is indeed a glimmer of hope, and much of that rests on how well the Irredeemable Ant-Man Vol. 1: Low-Life digest does. It?s in stores now, so make sure to pick it up and check it out? No, I don?t care if you have those issues already. I do too, and my children just may have to starve because I?m buying it (good thing it?s reasonably priced!). What?s that? The digest size isn?t your thing? It?s Ant-Man! It?s supposed to be small? in more ways than one.

What?

But what shouldn?t be small are the sales. Please go out and procure this testament to the guy who?s totally awesome as the world?s worst superhero.

For those of you who would like to contact Marvel about Irredeemable Ant-Man, go ahead and send your emails here: mheroes@marvel.com.

Not that the email published in last week?s bit is bad or anything, it?s just that Arune at Marvel graciously volunteered to handle incoming on this one. You are a brave soul, sir.

Tune in next week for even more Ant-Man goodness. It?s gonna be mighty cool.

This Has A ?Yes, I Thought About Using ?To Pester Phil Hester?? Factor Of Ten Out Of Ten


Some Blade #11 Pages For You

I came across some pages from the upcoming Blade #11 with Marc Guggenheim writing and Howard Chaykin (always liked his work) on inks & pencils. For you Blade readers out there, this is the only place you?re going to see them. Well, until either the issue is out or until someone just copies them from here. Anyways, it kicking off a 2-parter that looks pretty darned cool. Read more about it here.


This Has A ?Will There Ever Be A Day-Glo Walker?? Factor Of Eight Out Of Ten


More? Puppykiller??

The things I get in my email. Like a link to this. (Warning: What the video at the site depicts might be unsettling to some people). It?s a trailer for an upcoming comic called Puppykiller. That?s all I know? Well, that and something called Junkie Jesus is putting it out. Last time I got an image, and now I get a video. If I get a hand or a finger or something mailed to me next I?ll know I?ve made it.

I don?t know about you, but I found that video to be pretty creepy and messed up. Stuffed toy or not.

This Has A ?Double-You Tee Eff? Factor Of Seven Out Of Ten


Going After Keith Dallas and Omega Chase

A few of you might know who Keith Dallas is already. He?s our dedicated reviews editor and an SBC contributor, as well as being one of the great moderators over on the Comic Bloc forums. He also has a comic project in the works called Omega Chase (coming out soon from Th3rd World Studios). What is Keith?s comic all about? Keep reading to find out?

ATR: Keith, what’s this Omega Chase book I’m hearing about? It’s got aliens, zombie gunslingers, medieval stuff… all sorts of things!

KD: Yeah, Omega Chase is a salad with a lot of different vegetables and cheeses and meats thrown into it. Essentially though, it’s a character-focused story. The main character, Mack Baron, is a man seemingly leading three separate lives: as a 19th century Texas sheriff, as a 24th century starship commander, and as an archer in a band of medieval adventurers. The lure of the comic book (at least I hope it’s a lure) is for the reader and Mack to put together the pieces of the mystery of his existence. So while Mack is figuring out the “truth” of his situation, so is the reader.





ATR: Nice. So tell me a bit about Mack Baron. It?s a cool name, by the way…

KD: The name actually has meaning… as the reader will learn down the line. Mack Baron is a wise-cracking, self-assured “classic” hero. He obviously is mystified by what’s going on around him, but he goes with the flow. There is no “angst” to Mack. He’s confident he can figure out what’s going on… if he can first just get rid of these troublesome zombies that are plaguing his Texas town.

ATR: That’s what I dig about this concept… It has all these great elements involved. Was this something you intended from the get-go, or did it just sort of come about as you wrote it?

KD: From the time I conceived Omega Chase I wanted it to cross-over into several genres. It’s funny? I first conceived Omega Chase back in 1999; WAY before the whole “zombie craze” that the comic book industry is experiencing. And I always intended Omega Chase to begin as a “zombie western? before moving on, at unexpected points in the story, to other genres. I hope when the story stops being a zombie western, the reader will go, “Woah! Wait a minute! What the hell just happened?” Just so potential readers are not misled, Omega Chase isn’t truly a zombie western. It’s a story that blends several genres together.

ATR: Hey, what you’re talking about fits with what I was going to ask next– How did you come up with this crazy train of an idea and what made you decide to jump into the fun world of producing your own comic?

KD: Omega Chase has a very specific influence. Of course, I don’t want to reveal now what the influence is because then everyone will immediately know where the story is headed. But I do want to readily admit that another story influenced Omega Chase. Not that I’m “swiping” another story or even “sampling” it. It’s more like I felt a specific story could be told in a different way, with different characters and elements and a different resolution. I suspect most readers will liken Omega Chase to the Quantum Leap television show? and they?d be dead wrong comparing the two.

Anyway, like I already said, I initially conceived Omega Chase in 1999 for an artist friend of mine who wanted to produce a comic book with me. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), he didn’t draw a single thing for me, which that allowed me to sit down with the concept and really organize it over the course of several years. There’s no doubt in my mind that the story is MUCH better for the time it took from conception to publication. When I told Egg Embry about my story idea back in 2004, he improved it even further. Egg really helped me focus the concept. I mean, I had the story going on and on and on into almost a dozen different genres. He said, “TOO much.You’re trying to do too much.” Egg, who quickly became the editor of Omega Chase, really helped me to “limit” the story to a manageable scope.

ATR: That’s pretty important. Far too often great ideas are messed up from lack of focus and direction. Sometimes the kitchen sink can hurt, you know?

KD: No doubt.

ATR: How many issues of Omega Chase do you have in the can? And this will be an ongoing, right?

KD: No, no. This is a story told in two volumes. The first volume is four issues. Reader response to the first volume will determine the format of the second volume. We’re done with the first four issues. My publisher, Th3rd World Studios, told me as soon as he accepted Omega Chase for publication that he would not solicit the first issue until all four issues were in the can.

ATR: Ah, okay. Good game plan.

KD: And of course, it takes a lot of time just to complete one issue. I’ve been waiting a LONG time for this first issue to finally be published. We finished it so long ago.

ATR: How has the journey to publication been so far? I’m also wondering how it was to find a publisher… I’m assuming you’ve had an interesting ride.

KD: Boy, how should I describe the journey… Ummm? It’s been a long process.

ATR: You could do so with mutant giraffes and rabid man-eating voles, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

KD: Ha! I’ll say this– the most rewarding part is definitely the collaborative aspect of comic book production. Omega Chase?s artist, Julio Molina-Muscara, has been a devoted co-creator, and working with him has been? well, let me describe it this way: a writer has a specific visual in his head when he’s scripting a page. And no matter how detailed the script is with regards to art direction and what not, the artist will ALWAYS put his personal stamp on the presentation of the story. This is not to say that Julio was “disobedient” or that he didn’t follow my script. Instead, Julio would read the script and offer criticism and suggestions for better ways to present the story. 95% of the time he was right.

ATR: Good thing you listened, huh?

KD: Did I have a choice? *laughs* No, no. I’m just kidding.

ATR: Hah! When should we expect Omega Chase to hit the racks?

KD: September.

ATR: Ooo! Just in time for my birthday.

KD: We’re in the current Diamond Previews on page 338. Diamond code: JUL073809.

ATR: You see that, folks? Write that tasty bit of data down and go to your nearest retailer and demand Keith’s comic.

KD: Issues #2, 3 and 4 will appear in stores in October, November and December respectively.

ATR: I?m curious, by what nefarious means did you come in contact with Th3rd World Studios and what has it been like working with them?

KD: I had been shopping Omega Chase around for many, many months. Getting a comic book project accepted by a publisher is without a doubt the most difficult part of comic book production because every publisher is looking to accept a very narrow range of projects (think about the kind of books that Oni Press and Viper publish), and if your project doesn?t match with what they?re looking for, they are not going to accept your project.

Anyway, I had become so frustrated that I told my creative them that I was considering self-publication. But Egg, Julio and my colorist Mike Kowalczyk all talked me out of it. It was like I was walking toward a cliff, and suddenly my three friends grab me and yell, “NO! Don’t go there! Not another step!”

Then I remembered that Michael DeVito was starting up his own publishing company. Michael and I had met the previous year at a convention when he was promoting a comic book he had colored, and he and I had gotten along very well. In fact, when Michael initially told me he was starting his own company, I pitched him a completely different project. A year later, I thought, “Wait a minute. Why not pitch Omega Chase to him?” So I did.

I later learned that he and his business partner, Jon Conkling, were initially going to reject Omega Chase. They both thought, “We do NOT need to be publishing a zombie book,” but then, thank God, they quickly discovered that Omega Chase ISN’T a zombie book.

ATR: Whew!

KD: And they told me the more they read the series outline that I had given them, the more they felt that Omega Chase was a really entertaining story, especially considering the directions it was going in.

ATR: So that was that, you had a comics deal?

KD: Well, you never should automatically start dancing with anyone who is willing to join you on the dance floor.

ATR: Sometimes I am… But that’s a story for another time. Note to wife: Before I was married– oh, crap… I’ve dug myself a nice hole here…

KD: Ha! Before I agreed to have Th3rd World publish Omega Chase, I asked Michael about his specific publishing plans, and I could tell that he had a really solid business model. Michael and Jon Conkling have definitely taken note of how comic book publishers succeed and fail. They really seem to understand what directions Th3rd World should and should NOT go.

ATR: That’s good to hear. You don’t want to be all excited to put out a book, have the series already finished, and have it incomplete because the company goes under.

KD: And that happens A LOT.

ATR: Yeah, it does, sadly.

KD: Michael and Jon have also been very eager to promote and make Omega Chase as professional a publication as we can all possible make it. They didn’t look at Omega Chase as a “property.” From the start, they looked at it as an entertaining story that they wanted to publish.

ATR: Omega Chase is creator owned, yeah?

KD: Oh yes, I own the copyright, and Julio and I are the co-creators.

ATR: Excellent. Now Keith, you do other things… Like keep the SBC reviewers here in line as well as being apart of the Comic Bloc forums, right?

KD: Yes, I am perhaps most notorious for being “that Nazi moderator” over at Comicbloc.com, and interestingly enough, my SBC reviewers refer to me as their “Nazi Editor.”

ATR: Yeah, I know. Plus you’re the guy that let ME in the door.

KD: I guess that just makes me a loveable, huggable guy all over the internet.

*pause for laughter*

KD: For my “real job” I teach English Composition at Hofstra University. I’ve been teaching there for 13 years, and no student has called me a Nazi, at least not to my face.

ATR: I wish my Comp teachers were into comics like you… *laughs*

KD: I wish my students were more into comic books like me. *laughs*

ATR: It would make them more rounded people, that’s for certain. What comics are you into these days, anyways? What’s really rolling your socks?

KD: I’m buying comic books from a bunch of different publishers: Samurai: Heaven and Earth from Dark Horse, Star Trek from IDW, Fell from Image, Uncanny X-Men from Marvel, Exterminators from Vertigo, Brave and the Bold from DC. I’ll buy anything and everything that Scott Kolins, Don Kramer, Ethan Van Sciver and Jamal Igle draw. I’m definitely more loyal to creators than to publishers. If Scott Kolins went to Image to draw some World War II book, I’d buy it.

ATR: Dude, so would I. Scott Kolins does some amazing stuff. Matter of fact, I’d like to make an official ATR plea for Scott to consider a WWII book!

KD: Like I said, I’d buy it!

ATR: Scott, if you?re reading this: Please do a book like that. We?ll love you forever. Okay, I like to ask this to most creators, you are no exception: If you could work on anything in comics, what would it be?

KD: Can I say I?d like to work on my own creations? Seriously, I don’t know how Geoff Johns, Kurt Busiek, Mark Waid, et al. do it. Like this would EVER happen, but if Dan DiDio called me up and said, “I need a Superman story STAT! Write one!” My reply would be, “I have NOTHING to say about Superman that hasn’t already been said by countless other writers.”

ATR: Coming up with new and interesting material for established characters is really tough.

KD: Too tough for me, which is why I tip my cap to these writers who are able to write those stories.

ATR: Keith, we’re just about out of time here… I’ll leave the closing words to you, man.

KD: Ah, it’s time for the “shameless self-promotional final statement”?

ATR: Yes. Yes it is.

KD: For anyone interested in a fun, character-focused story that crosses over into several genres, check out Th3rd World’s Omega Chase, coming out in September. For more information, go to Th3rd World?s website at http://www.th3rdworld.com.

Many thanks go out to Keith and Th3rd World. Just so y?all know, I?ve read a couple issues of Omega Chase now and it?s good. You sci-fi and/or adventure comics fans should really, really dig it.

And if all of this isn?t enough, Th3rd World is offering a pretty good deal concerning Omega Case. From co-publisher Mike DeVito:

?We know we are a new company and it?s hard for stores to take a chance and place orders with us,? Th3rd World Studios Co-Publisher Mike DeVito said. ?That?s why we are making all of our titles returnable. Any issues of Omega Chase not purchased within four months of its release date, Th3rd World will buy back for a substantial percentage of the cover price.?

Read more about it in our news section here.

This Has A ?When Does Alpha Chase Come Out?? Factor Of Ten Out Of Ten


Indie Front: Proof is in the Cryptoid Pudding

There?s a new comic coming out from Image called Proof. If you ask me, I think it sounds like a really neat concept and series. Here?s a bit about it:

    When FBI agent Ginger Brown got promoted, she didn’t expect her new duties would involve tracking down the world’s most mysterious creatures. The Loch Ness Monster, Mothman and El Chupacabra are now on her most wanted list and her new partner looks an awful lot like? Bigfoot!

That Bigfoot fella is Special Agent John “Proof” Prufrock who works for ?The Lodge?. Read more about it here.

Expect a lot from the pages of Proof. I?ve talked to co-creator Alex Grecian and he says that they?re trying to be as retailer friendly as possible, packing the book ?wall-to-wall? with extra story pages, essays, articles, character sketches, letters, stories and ?whatever we can think of?. Sounds ambitious, but very cool!

Check out the first ten pages here.

Honestly, I?ve really enjoyed what I?ve read so far. This is the kind of comic I love to read on a regular basis.

And here are some goodies stolen— um, acquired for ATR purposes. What you see are upcoming covers and pages, featuring some terrific art by Riley Rossmo, not seen elsewhere. Please keep in mind that those aren?t going to be black & white pages, but are merely pre-coloured:




I love how that page introduces the Dover Demon, who will be a reoccurring character from what I?m told. Apparently the single panels you see are from a story, as told by the Dover Demon, from issue #3? the Dover Demon can see the future, you see, and reveals some things that will happen later on in the series.

Okay, okay. Enough gushing. Prepare to snatch this book up in October!

This Has A ?COELACANTH!!!!!!!? Factor Of Eleven Out Of Ten


UK Indie Front: Riddler?s Fayre ? A Game of Revenge

Writer Steve Carroll and artist Jeff Anderson (a former 2000 AD art-droid) are publishing a follow-up to their 2005 release, Riddler?s Fayre: The First Matter. Here?s some info on the sequel, called Riddler?s Fayre: A Game of Revenge:

    The story is set during the Winter at the end of 1199 AD in the City of London. The amnesiac Aeden wants to find his identity whilst the others are looking for the secret of the First Matter that will lead them to the Philosopher’s Stone. London at this time is in a state of anarchy, ruled by underworld gangs at the start of the incompetent reign of the late King Richard’s brother John. Darker than the first, the story has Aeden confront the dark heart of human ambition and bitterness in the form of Sebastian Galadriel Faulkes, a Templar who was blinded during the Third Crusade. At the same time Aeden learns a lot about himself, the enigma of his riddle and how it links to the four mysterious amulets, as well as his family background and why he has to get out of England fast.

I also heard there?s to be more fights. Huzzah!

Take a look for yourself:


Pre-lettered, of course.

Read a review of the first volume, complete with images, from our very own Craig Johnson here.

This Has A ?Historical Comics FTW!? Factor Of Eight Out Of Ten


Blogonaut: Ladies and Gentemen, Jimmy Bott

Some of you may know artist Jimmy Bott from his excellent work on the recent release Half Dead (link: http://www.halfdeadcomic.com/) (Dabel Brothers / Marvel). Whether you are familiar with him or not, make sure to keep up with this talented up-and-comer on his blog. I?ve heard he?s got some neat projects in the works. Make sure to check out his blog and see his art.

That?s one of my favourites.

This Has An ?I?d Like To See Tharg Hire This Guy? Factor Of Nine Out Of Ten


Parting Shots and In Closing

Here?s your Warren Ellis update: He?s got a new column over at Suicide Girls called The Sunday Hangover. Entertaining read, for sure.

Something I followed over the week was this. Ouch. Can?t say that guy wasn?t asking for it? Gary, I mean. Bravo, Kevin.

Si Spurrier and Frazer Irving?s Gutsville is coming along nicely. I spotted this alternate cover to issue #1 and I had to share:

I found this image and it made me laugh. Maybe it will make you laugh, too:

And there we go. Yet another week down. I?d like to thank all of you who write in and talk with me about all manner of stuff. You know, I wish I could keep up with all of the forum noise out there, but I just can?t. I?m a busy guy.

*cough*videogames*cough*

Hey, who said that?

So if you feel I need to know something, or have a comment I just have to read (for good or bad), please contact me via email, or through the forums here (I do check those from time to time). Even through my Liveournal, MySpace, or ComicSpace. I really do love to hear from you!

Be sure and to stop by the other site I write for, MediaGauntlet.

Means to stalk me through the Tubes like Torquemada.

Email: steves@silverbulletcomicbooks.com
Livejournal (link: http://synabetic.livejournal.com)
ComicSpace (link: http://www.comicspace.com/steven_g_saunders/)
MySpace (link: http://www.myspace.com/synabetic)

Until next time, dear readers?

P.S.- Extra bonus points to those of you that know where the title of this week?s column comes from.


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