ICE logoComic fans in the Midlands are to be treated to an epic weekend as the International Comics Expo 2016 (ICE) arrives in town with guests that include Empire Strikes Back producer Gary Kurtz, The Walking Dead’s Charlie Adlard and Suicide Squad’s Rob Williams – plus many more! Our intrepid reporter Olly MacNamee finds out what’s going down in Brum this weekend…

Princess_Leia_1_CoverYou would expect the galaxy’s #1 Evil Empire defeating royal to be in safe hands as comics veterans Mark Waid and Terry Dodson take the reins of the third Star Wars-based comic from the Marvel/Disney-era in Princess Leia #1. But does this 6 issue limited series do Leia Organa justice, or is it just providing simple scraps to keep the female market pleased?

We’re feeling a conflict deep within us today thanks to the announcement that Marvel Comics are to be the exclusive publisher of Star Wars comics from 2015. The news has caused a great disturbance in the force as the prospect of a new digital Star Wars comic from Marvel has set our metachlorians racing, but it also means the end of the deal between Lucasfilm and Dark Horse Comics, the home of the titles since 1991.

This weekend’s must read digital comics in the Sunday Digest include Dark Horse’s re-imagining of Star Wars based on George Lucas’ original screenplay and a powerful prison drama from Thrillbent with The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood.

1. Marvel to release Ultimates, Spiderman and X-Men titles ‘day and date’.
In other words print and digital titles will be released simultaneously. It’s a horrible phrase but this is a huge deal for Marvel with DC already launching their books on the same day as printing and planning to roll out their 52 reboot simultaneously across both platforms. This could finally be the tipping point where digital becomes as important as print in the house of M as Marvel plan to start the roll out with the complete Ultimates line up in August (the final Ultimate Spiderman having already tested the waters for a same day release). This will be followed by the Spider-man titles in September which include the eagerly anticipated Dan Slott written Spider-Island saga. The X-Men titles will join the day and date gang in October with Avengers and all new titles following soon after in a push to ensure all major titles are running day and date in order to maximize the new reader potential of the Avengers movie in 2012. It’s exciting times for the world of digital comics as the big boys finally put their weight behind the medium.

2.Todd McFarlane says ‘bet against’ DC Comics 52 relaunch
Image co-founder and Spawn creator Todd McFarlane caused a bit of a storm with his comments to Comic Book Resources about the new DC relaunch. Saying he would “bet against it” and that it’s a “fools game”  McFarlane was highly critical of  DC’s plans to relaunch titles simultaneously, saying he would have preferred a staggered release over the course of 8-9 months in order to boost sales across all titles rather than spike sales of issue 1s. Comparing it to Apple’s product launch he said “Apple doesn’t say we’re going to release the new iPod, iPad, Macbook and I’ll talk to you about the cloud, all in the same day”.  As an instrumental part of the 90s comics book boom with his own Spider-man #1 and subsequent Image Comics, Todd knows a thing or two about spiking sales, as you would hope would fellow Image founder Jim Lee, now publisher at DC. When it comes to digital comics and piracy, Todd was more circumspect saying, “You can’t undo the mindset of  ‘I like to be in my pyjamas, hit a button and get my comic books’ . You have to do what the music people do and say, we want you to download, but not download for free”.  He was also keen to push the idea of digital comics being cheaper than print, saying that the 99c comic could be a profitable option once you remove printing, binding and distribution costs, again comparing it to the music model of offering 99c songs, but was not prepared to announce a Spawn release on the digital platform.

For the full interview pop on over to Comic Book Resources here and see him talk about everything from Spawn and Haunt to the positive influence of Robert Kirkman on the Image Comics family.

3.Dark Horse to launch Star Wars titles digitally for 20th anniversary
With the Dark Horse iPad app now in full effect, it was only a matter of time before it felt the full power of the force. Just in time for the 20th anniversary of Star Wars comics, Dark Horse announced they will not only be releasing new issues directly on the app, but that each week they would also be releasing classic back issues such as the Marvel adaptation of New Hope alongside expanded universe story lines like Crimson Empire and Knights of the Old Republic.   Also announced for their fall line-up are of books based on Hellboy director Guillermo Del Toro’s best-selling novel series The Strain, a new partnership with Valve to create comics based on their hit video games line and Orchid from former Rage Against The Machine Guitarist Tom Morello.

4. Frank Miller unveils the trailer to Holy Terror
We’re huge fans of the creator of Sin City here at Pipedream Comics and so the prospect of a new Frank Miller book in 2011 got us very excited indeed. Judging by this sneak preview, Frank has not lost a step with his time behind the movie camera and in actual fact has given his stories an even more cinematic feel than ever before. This will be the first released book from the newly formed Legendary Comics, and what would be the chance of him releasing it as an interactive app – we can but dream surely?! We’ll find out September 11th!

5. Ape Entertainment announce Cut The Rope the comic
We’re huge fans of the Ape Entertainment guys, (as you can see from our interview here) so news that they are releasing a comic of hit iPhone/iPad game cut the rope is just fantastic. After the great job they did on Pocket God you know that Om Nom will be in good hands and we can’t wait to check out his back story and all the new characters that are promised. Released in late August, Cut The Rope will be available as a digital only comic via its own app.