New graphic novel LUCIFERS SWORD MC, packaged by Grand Design, out now

Lucifers Sword MC: Life and Death in an Outlaw Motorcycle Club, an explosive new graphic novel written by Hells Angels leader Phil Cross (with Darwin Holmstrom) and illustrated by Ronn Sutton is out this month in stores across North America.  Grand Design Communications worked with publisher Motorbooks in developing the book, presenting the publisher with a number of artistic options from which they selected Sutton, and working closely with Sutton to deliver the book on a tight schedule.

Pop culture blog Booksteve’s Library has Ronn Sutton’s official press release with the full story:

Artist RONN SUTTON draws high-octane adventure inspired by the life of outlaw biker PHIL CROSS in the new graphic novel LUCIFERS SWORD MC.
 
January 15, 2015 – Lucifers Sword MC: Life and Death in an Outlaw Motorcycle Club is the new 96-page high-octane graphic novel now available from Motorbooks.
 
Lucifers Sword MC is a gritty, fictionalized, insider look at life as a 1960s U.S. biker club member. Written by Hells Angel member Phil Cross and illustrated by former Elvira: Mistress of the Dark and Starbikers comic book artist Ronn Sutton, the graphic novel takes readers on a wild ride from the late 1940s through to the 1970s.
 
The characters in Lucifers Sword MC are fictionalized, but based on the real bikers – including Cross, who appears as the club’s prospect, Frenchie. As fans of the TV show Sons of Anarchy know, a prospect is a rookie member. Readers experience rough-and-tumble club life first-hand through Frenchie’s eyes.
 
Artist Ronn Sutton did an enormous amount of research before taking pencil to paper. He watched Sons of Anarchy as well as classic movies such as The Wild OneEasy Rider and Angels Die Hard. He also read magazines like In The Wind and books like From Gypsy Joker To A Hells Angel (Cross’ autobiography) and Hells Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangsby Hunter S. Thompson.
 
After the research, the real work began. “This is the biggest project I’ve worked on in my 40-plus year career as a comics artist” Sutton says. “For five months I drew 15 hours per day, 7 days a week, trying to do my best work ever.”
 
Sutton illustrated Lucifers Sword MC in the traditional comic book method, drawing in pencil first and then inking with black India ink. The graphic novel has a full colour cover and black-and-white interior. Sutton made dramatic use of black and white so action jumps off the page.
 
Motorbooks’ Lucifers Sword MC: Life and Death in an Outlaw Motorcycle Club has world-wide distribution and is available in bookstores, comic book shops and via Amazon online.
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Phil Cross has been an active member of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club for over 43 years. His autobiography From Gypsy Joker to a Hells Angel (2013) is also available from Motorbooks. This is Cross; first graphic novel, co-authored and edited by long-time motorcycle enthusiast Darwin Holmstrom.
 
ABOUT THE ARTIST: Ronn Sutton (www.ronnsutton.com) is based in Ottawa, Canada. He has been drawing comic books for decades, including a nine-year run illustrating Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. The over 200 comic stories Ronn has drawn include Fear Agent, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Honey West, The Phantom, his creator-owned Starbikers as wel as horror, humor, adventure, historical and romance comics.
 

Medium.com calls Vansant’s BATTLE OF THE BULGE “…a fine work of comics. And it’s pretty great as history, too”!

botb_mediumKevin Knodell reviewed Katusha creator Wayne Vansant’s latest non-fiction graphic novel, Battle of the Bulge, on the Medium.com blog “War is Boring”. Knodell praised Vansant’s in-depth exploration of one of histories great battles:

Vansant’s enthusiasm for history is apparent. His renderings of soldiers’ equipment and uniforms are painstakingly detailed. His research is impeccable, accurately capturing the battle’s sweeping scope.

His script moves easily from soldiers fighting and dying in the snow to generals laying complex plans and politicians crafting grand strategy.

Vansant’s comic shows how military campaigns rarely go as planned, owing to logistical snarls, poor weather and personality clashes between commanders.

Meanwhile on the ground, the fighting is brutal and bloody—and Vansant’s art never lets you forget it.

Both sides in the Battle of the Bulge executed prisoners, but the German crimes were particularly cruel. The book shockingly depicts the Malmedy Massacre, in which the Waffen SS gunned down 80 American prisoners.

The Battle of the Bulge is a fine work of comics. And it’s pretty great as history, too. I highly recommend it.

Vansant is in good company.  Other “war comics” creators that have been reviewed by Medium.com include Jacques Tardi and Jean-Pierre Verney, Shigeru Mizuki, and Harvey Kurtzman.

Grand Design Communications packaged Battle of the Bulge and five other non-fiction graphic novels by Vansant for publisher Zenith Press’ “Graphic Histories” series.  GDC represents worldwide rights to Vansant’s graphic novels Katusha Book One: Edge of Darkness and Katusha Book Two: The Shaking of the Earthand published both books in digital and print-on-demand editions in 2014.

Happy New Year!

Wishing you a happy and safe 2015 from Grand Design Communications.

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Wayne Vansant’s non-fiction graphic novels continue to gain praise and readers

Wayne Vansant’s  non-fiction graphic novels for the Zenith Graphic History line continue to impress, just as the sixth (and final, for now) volume, The Battle of the Bulge, is released.  The prestigious art book dealer Bud Plant has listed The Battle of the Bulge, The Red Baron, Bombing Nazi Germanyand Normandy as ‘recommended’ in their online catalog.

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A review of The Red Baron on the Historical Novel Society website notes,

Vansant’s clear drawings make it easy to tell one plane from another, and distinguish between different people in the story. He packs a lot of relevant information into the text boxes, and includes maps and other extras. This would be an excellent introduction to entice young people (and adults) who don’t know much about World War I aerial operations into reading further.

The Gawler Public Library in Gawler, Australia included The Red Baron in it’s recent focus on non-fiction graphic novels, noting that:

Biographies and autobiographies are often told in graphic novel form and can be both interesting and informative – many other subjects have also been explored. Non-fiction graphic novels can be a good story, an excellent introduction to a subject or a different way to explore a topic of interest.

True adventure and the legendary figure of Manfred von Richthofen (the infamous Red Baron), come together in this book. It is a biography, a concise history of WWI and early military avionics, a discussion of military strategy and includes illustrations with remarkable attention to detail, especially in the illustration of aircraft.

Although the Zenith Graphic History series is aimed at readers of all ages, much attention has been paid to the appeal of the books to kids and young adult readers.  School Library Journal reviewed The Battle of the Bulge in their November magazine (digital version available here – Book Verdict Pro subscription required), and blog Time Travelling With Kids included The Red Baron in it’s list of November recommendations for readers aged 10 – 13.

Vansant is also known for several works of historical fiction, including the recent Katusha Girl Soldier of the Great Patriotic War.  While Vansant is currently working on the third volume of Katusha, Caliber Comics released a collection of his French Legionnaire hero, Battron in 2013 and last month released a new collection, Knights of the Skull, a “trilogy of gripping war tales of the infamous German Panzer divisions”.

Secret Identity says Wayne Vansant is “A brilliant storyteller”

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Secretidentitypodcast.com, the website of the popular long-running Secret Identity podcast, posted a review of Katusha by Matt “Matman” Herring on October 15.  Highlighting Vansant’s long career as a graphic novel creator primarily working in military history and military-related historical fiction, “Matman” wrote:

If you have ever read any of Wayne’s previous books, you know what an amazing artist he is. KATUSHA takes his talents to the next level. The art is stunning and not only accurate, but so full of emotion. As I read the book I was so drawn in by the expressions of our young heroine, especially her big beautiful eyes.

“Matman” went on to praise Katusha for it’s stark depiction of the human toll of war, concluding that Katusha may be Vansant’s most powerful work yet:

KATUSHA is a tale about survival in a time of hopelessness and is so much more than a war comic or history lesson. There are some brutal moments but what the people of Russia went through in the early 1940’s was brutal. If you loved Wayne’s previous work, than KATUSHA will blow you out of the water.

GDC at the New York Comic Con 2014

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The annual four-days of multimedia madness known as the New York Comic Con opens today and more than 130,000 people are expected to attend the four day celebration of comics and other media.   Since the first NYCC in 2006 attendance has grown from a modest 16,000 to numbers that rival the largest such event in the USA, Comicon International in San Diego.

Several of Grand Design Communications’ clients will be present at the convention doing panels and signings:

ONE HIT WONDER creator Fabrice Sapolsky will have a table in Artist Alley located at Y4.  Fabrice has been riding a wave of notoriety in the American market in recent months with the release of ONE HIT WONDER, his Image comic co-created by Ariel Olivetti, and his contribution to the smash hit EDGE OF SPIDER-VERSE, featuring his co-creation with David Hine, Spider-Man Noir.

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KATUSHA creator Wayne Vansant returns to the New York Comic Con this year with two new books released in 2014 from Zenith Press, THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE and THE RED BARON.  Vansant will be signing copies of his new Zenith graphic novels at the booth of Quarto Publishing Group (parent company of Zenith) located in the main hall at booth 2006.  He will also have his own table in the artist alley located at C5 where he will have plenty of copies of KATUSHA for sale, as well as original artwork.

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Monarch Comics, publishers of WITCH HUNTER continue their tradition of exhibiting at the NYCC with a booth at 2018.  WITCH HUNTER creator Vincent Ferrante will be present to meet readers and will be giving out free WITCH HUNTER comics while supplies last as well as posters, magic items, and surprise gifts!

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Action Lab Entertainment’s spacious booth – the biggest yet for the rising publishing – is located in the main hall at 3044.  This year Action Lab is premiering several exclusive edition comics premiering several exclusive edition comics at New York Comic Con including:

  • (Limited to 100 copies)
  • HERO CATS OF STELLAR CITY #2 NYCC EXCLUSIVE SKETCH COVER (Limited to 100 copies)
  • STRAY SKETCH COVER EXCLUSIVE (Limited to 100 copies)
  • HOLY F*CK COVER EXCLUSIVE (Limited to 100 copies)
  • ZOMBIE TRAMP #1 JAMAL IGLE COVER EXCLUSIVE (Limited to 100 copies)
    ZOMBIE TRAMP #2 DAN MENDOZA COVER EXCLUSIVE (Limited to 100 copies)
    ZOMBIE TRAMP #3 DAN MENDOZA COVER EXCLUSIVE (Limited to 100 copies)

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Grand Design Communications handles foreign publishing rights for Action Lab Entertainment, Monarch Comics, ONE HIT WONDER and KATUSHA.

Heroic Publishing now releasing three comics a week on Comixology

Last month Heroic Publishing ramped up it’s release schedule on the #1 digital comics platform, Comixology.  The California-based publisher had sporadically released a number of titles through Comixology earlier in 2014.  Now Heroic is releasing three digital comics a week through them, and so far titles released have included Flare, Flare Adventures, Champions, Champions Adventures, Murcielaga She-Bat, the Infinites, and two titles written by legendary writer/editor Roy Thomas - Captain Thunder & Blue Bolt and Anthem.  This will soon complete the Comixology release of all three of Thomas’ creator-owned titles from Heroic, including the previously issued Alter Ego.   Most of the comics retail for only 99 cents.  By Spring, 2015 Heroic will have released over 100 issues through Comixology.  Heroic has a rich backlist of hundreds of comics which have been made available on other digital platforms including iVerse Comicsplus and Heroic’s own website.

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The release schedule through December 2014 is as follows:

10/01/14 Champions 38
10/01/14 Anthem 5
10/08/14 Flare 25
10/08/14 Captain Thunder and Blue Bolt 6
10/08/14 Infinites 6
10/15/14 Champions 39
10/15/14 Flare Adventures 13
10/15/14 Murcielaga She-Bat 8
10/22/14 Flare 26
10/22/14 Captain Thunder 7
10/22/14 Infinites 7
10/29/14 Champions 40
10/29/14 Champions Adventures 10
10/29/14 Murcielaga She-Bat 9
11/05/14 Flare 27
11/05/14 Flare Adventures 14
11/05/14 Murcielaga She-Bat 10
11/12/14 Champions 41
11/12/14 Captain Thunder 8
11/12/14 Murcielaga She-Bat 11
11/19/14 Flare 28
11/19/14 Flare Adventures 15
11/19/14 Champions Adventures 11
11/26/14 Champions 42
11/26/14 Captain Thunder 9
11/26/14 Murcielaga She-Bat 12
12/03/14 Flare 29
12/03/14 Flare Adventures 16
12/03/14 Murcielaga She-Bat 13
12/10/14 Icicle 4
12/10/14 Captain Thunder 10
12/10/14 Murcielaga She-Bat 14

Grand Design Communications represents Heroic Publishing for digital and foreign publishing rights.

Flare and Champions arrive on ComiXology!

Classic tales of Heroic Publishing’s FLARE and the CHAMPIONS are now available on the comic book industry’s premier digital distribution system, with new issues arriving every two weeks!

In each issue of FLARE, follow the adventures of comics’ shining goddess of light, as she navigates the pitfalls of juggling her career as an international supermodel with the demands of being one of the world’s foremost heroines.

In each issue of CHAMPIONS, enjoy solo adventures of GIANT, ICESTAR, SPARKPLUG, the TIGRESS, and other members of the LEAGUE OF CHAMPIONS.

Flare and the Champions are two of the longest-running series in the history of independent comic book publishing. For 28 years, beginning in the summer of 1986 and continuing through today, Heroic Publishing has produced fully 60 issues of Champions and 42 issues of Flare.

Flare, in particular, has been a ground-breaking title. Until late 1988, when the first issue of Flare appeared in comic book stores nationwide, conventional wisdom in the comic book industry (Wonder Woman to contrary) held having a female as the title character was death to sales.

FLARE changed that.

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At a time when most comic books were selling at a dollar or less, the super-sized $2.75 first issue of Flare flew off the shelves, causing Heroic to go back to press in order to meet demand.

What was it about Flare, both as a character and a comic book, that struck a chord with readers that continues to ring to this day?

Many theories have been proposed. Some suggest that it was the insouciant charm of the character herself. Flare is, above all else, a vibrant and aggressively assertive young woman with just a tinge of darkness in the midst of the light she brings to the world, a woman who knows the difference between who she’s been in the past and who the heroine she wants to be. Some suggest it was the wonderful artwork of Tim Burgard and Mark Beachum, a level of quality in presentation that has continued throughout the series with contributions from Mark Propst, Gordon Purcell, and many other talented contributors. Some suggest it was the underlying seriousness in what at first glance seemed to be a lighter, tongue-in-cheek approach to storytelling by writers Dennis Mallonee and Wilson Hill.

We think it’s a combination of all these things that makes Flare unique in the history of comics.

For those of you who haven’t yet been able to enjoy the adventures of FLARE and her friends in the LEAGUE OF CHAMPIONS, who may not have been able to find these and other Heroic Publishing titles in your local comic book store, their arrival on ComiXology is a wonderful opportunity to step into a world you’ve never seen, a world that focuses not on darkness, but on the light of what it truly means to be a hero.

Wayne Vansant signing at Marietta, GA Barnes & Noble store August 2

Wayne Vansant, creator of Katusha and the Zenith Graphic History series, will be signing books and comics at a Marietta , Georgia area Barnes & Noble store on Saturday August 2 as part of their “Get Pop-Cultured – Marvel Day” celebration of comics, particularly Marvel Comics. Vansant was the artist on Marvel’s groundbreaking Vietnam War comic The Nam for nearly five years. Vansant will be joined by veteran creators Joe Pruett and Craig Gilmore from 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm.

Details below from Barnes & Noble:

All day – take your picture with the Hulk. From noon to 2:00 pm, meet Marvel creators Joe Pruett, Craig Gilmore and Wayne Van Sant! At 5:00 pm, Marvel comics trivia in the Cafe. At 7:00 pm, Marvel universe superhero costume contest in the Cafe.
Saturday August 02, 2014 12:00 PM
The Ave at West Cobb
The Avenue West Cobb, 3625 Dallas Hwy SW Suite 400, Marietta, GA 30064, 770-424-0511
Below: some Wayne Vansant-drawn covers for Marvel Comics.
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Wide acclaim for Wayne Vansant’s THE RED BARON

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Wayne Vansant’s The Red Baron: the graphic history of Richthofen’s Flying Circus and the Air War in WWI, the fifth in his series of graphic novel for the Zenith Graphic History series, was released last month to wide acclaim.  As with the previous volumes in the series, Normandy, Grant Vs Lee, Bombing Nazi Germany, and Gettysburg, the books were packaged for Zenith by GDC’s Comics Production Services.  A sixth volume, The Battle of the Bulge, will be published by Zenith in Fall, 2014.  

In his review for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Joseph May commented on Vansant’s use of the graphic novel medium to transcend some limitations of non-visual history writing:

Vansant does what the best of history writers do which is to bring the full human context to the events of, in this case, Richthofen’s life as well as those of World War I. His art allows these events to be vicariously experienced since he distills the essence of the events as well as the emotions of the people in those events. Able to capture visual angles dramatically, as well as in ways not possible for photographers, Vansant’s art illustrates what has not previously been shown. The six frames of Immelmann employing the maneuver named for him is an excellent example — as are the victim’s perspective whether the pilot of a broken airplane or of another pilot’s bullets.

Aviation history website Warbirds News recommended the book with praise: “Vansant beautifully depicts the fearsome intelligence and mid-flight awareness that would earn Richthofen eighty documented air combat victories over the Western Front in the halcyon days of military aviation.”

Defense Media Networks extensive review recalled that though Vansant has done histories of the Civil War, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam, The Red Baron is his first on the topic of World War I.  Steve Horan writes that Vansant accomplishes much more than a simple biography of one man:

The Red Baron is arguably the most famous fighter pilot in history. Memorialized in popular culture as Snoopy’s nemesis in the Peanuts comic strip, he has been the subject of countless books, articles, movies, and even pop songs (again, with Snoopy). This graphic novel is much more than a book about Rittmeister Baron Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen, though. Richthofen, who died at 25 as the leading ace of World War I with 80 aerial victories, could more than fill his own book. But while The Red Baron: The Graphic History of Richthofen’s Flying Circus and the Air War in WWI tells the story of Richthofen in some detail, it also uses the story of this one man and his Jagdstaffel (Jasta) 11 and later Jagdgeschwader 1 to tell the broader story of the World War I air war on the Western Front.

HistoryComics, a website founded by educator Tim Smyth, also reviewed The Red Baron.  In a teacher-written round-up of World War I graphic novels that included work by Jaques Tardi, Joe Sacco, and Max Brooks, the website rated it “excellent” and described how to use The Red Baron in classrooms, as well as praising it for it’s thoroughness and humor:

The book begins with the origins of planes in warfare and the development of tactics – not too detailed – just enough to give some background and to help lead for more research – well done. Funny – description of unarmed pilots throwing wrenches at each other before guns were mounted on the planes. Maps and land battles are also included – very well explained. Tanks, Russian Revolution, American entry into the war – are all covered in this book.