The Worlds First – Professor of COMICS

Dundee academic Chris Murray is the world’s first professor of comics

Michael Alexander speaks to Dundee University’s Professor Chris Murray – the world’s first professor of comic studies – who was inspired growing up amongst the comics heritage of Dundee.

It sounds like the plot from a classic superhero comic.

A young boy growing up on the fringes of a provincial city is given a secret stash of comics by a mysterious benefactor – inspiring him to go on to become a leading authority in his field.

But truth is often stranger than fiction, and in the case of Dundee University academic Chris Murray – the world’s first comics professor – it’s a fair summary of how he got into comics himself.

“Some of my earliest memories are (of) reading comics,” recalls Professor Murray, 41, a former pupil of Dundee’s Brackens Primary and Rockwell High School.

Professor Chris Murray © DC Thomson
Professor Chris Murray

“My uncle Dougie, when I was very young, worked as a delivery man and removals man.

“He used to drink in a pub in the Hilltown. There was a guy who used to go to the pub who knew my uncle.

“That guy used to get his comics delivered to the pub because he didn’t want his wife to know that he read comics.

“So he’d come in and sit with his stack of comics and read them and have a pint, and put them back behind the bar and leave them for my uncle because he knew that he had a little nephew.

“So whenever my uncle’s truck would pull up outside our house in St Mary’s, I’d run out and my uncle would have a stack of comics under his arm.

“Some of my earliest memories of getting comics is down to that mysterious benefactor in the pub,” he laughs.

Spiderman© Supplied
Spiderman

Chris consumed everything comic related during those years. Marvel comics like Spiderman and Star Wars were being reprinted at the time, and, of course, he also read home grown publications like the Dandy and the Beano.

“I even used to read my sister’s comics – the girls’ comics – because often the artwork was a bit better,” he adds.

It was while he was studying for an English degree at Dundee University, however, that he began to think how much of the comic content he consumed was as powerful, literary and artistic as any of the classic books he’d been reading on the course.

In fourth year he did his dissertation on comics, supervised by DR Keith Williams, which was very well received.

He went on to do a PhD on comics and propaganda during the Second World War, and set up the film studies course at Dundee University before becoming a full-time member of English department staff.

Professor Chris Murray© DC Thomson
Professor Chris Murray

“The first time I really got to teach any comics was just over 10 years ago,” he adds.

“I also did some teaching on comics for Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design.”

Chris initially set up a module about British Comics Writers.

Then six years ago he decided he wanted to launch a comics masters’ degree – “because there was nothing like it in the world.”

Chris says it’s apt that the course – and his recent appointment as professor of comics – has happened in Dundee – the land of Desperate Dan, Oor Wullie and Dennis the Menace.

But he says the fact it happened that way wasn’t by design.

Desperate Dan - a focal point in Dundee city centre© DC Thomson
Desperate Dan – a focal point in Dundee city centre

“In many ways it’s one of those strange accidents,” he says, “but in other ways it feels quite inevitable.

“Growing up in Dundee surrounded by comics, I was aware of Dundee’s comics history. I was happy and proud when Dundee started to embrace its comics history with the Desperate Dan statue and those kind of things – because Dundee didn’t always do that as a city.

“Dundee really is the natural place to study comics with its long history of DC Thomson.

“Working here and starting to do comic courses here – it was the most natural place to do it.

“DC Thomson have been wonderful partners over the years. We’ve been partnered up to do various exhibitions, working on projects. But they also allow our students access to the comics archives.  It feels like a coming together.”

Professor Chris Murray© DC Thomson
Professor Chris Murray

Chris said comic circulations have always had their ups and downs.

But despite threats from TV, computer games and social media, Chris says they remain popular.

“What’s happening at the moment is things are transitioning,” he says.

“They are being consumed in slightly different ways. A lot of people still read comics. There are a lot of digital comics.

“Comics are having a huge impact on computer games, animation and particularly cinema.

“But at the same time you get the enormous rise of autobiographical comics or comics that deal with medical issues or serious historical issues, or comics that are winning literary prizes.

“The readership is changing, but that’s always been the case.”

Chris’ favourite comic of all time is Grant Morrison’s Zenith that appeared in 2000 AD.

Grant Morrison’s Zenith appeared in 2000 AD© Supplied
Grant Morrison’s Zenith appeared in 2000 AD

It’s a deconstruction of the often forgotten British superhero.

And in the new year, Chris will pay his own tribute when he releases a book about the long history of the British superhero – from the 1930’s to the present day.

He’s also a supporter of the Dundee Comics Creative Space in the Vision Building, funded by the Rank Foundation, which has also allowed engagement with young people in creative education through comics.

Original Article Source: Jings, crivens, help ma boab! Dundee academic Chris is the world’s first professor of comics – The Courier

Why The Rock Took The Black Adam Role

The Rock Explains Why He Took Black Adam Role In DC Comics’ Shazam Movie

During a Q&A session with fans on YouTube, superstar actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was asked about his decision to join the DC Extended Universe as Black Adam in the forthcoming Shazam! movie.

It’s always been a kind of interesting fit: Johnson generally plays a nice guy, has a hugely marketable smile, and rarely plays anything but the lead or co-lead in a franchise. Black Adam, traditionally, has been the villain in the Shazam! franchise, a dark opposite number to the Marvel Family who uses the powers Shazam gave him to avenge slights.

Black-Adam-The-Rock-George-Evangelista
(Photo: George Evangelista)

Johnson had been attached to DC for a while, with roles like Shazam, Black Adam, and Lobo being long rumored. He apparently had signed onto a Lobo movie, which fell apart before production got underway.

“I’ve loved the role of Black Adam,” said Johnson, who had been rumored to play the character for years before it was made official. “I love that he starts off as a slave, that he felt like he was wronged. I’ve just loved that backstory. I think that Black Adam has always been, to me, the most intriguing superhero.”

With Geoff Johns, an avowed Black Adam fan, at the head of DC’s film division, it’s interesting that Johnson and others continually refer to Black Adam as a “hero” or “antihero” rather than a villain. The likelihood that Black Adam is the actual star of the film and that the Shazam/Captain Marvel audiences might expect won’t come up until a later film (if at all) seems to be pretty high.

MORE: How Justice League Will Be Different Than Batman V Superman /Chuck Roven On How Wonder Woman Is Different From Justice LeagueWB Producer Explains Stepping Back From DC Films / Wonder Woman Steals Her Weapon In Brand New Movie Photo / 5 Characters We Want To See In Batman / Green Lantern Rumored For Justice League / Justice League: One Year Until Release Day / Zack Snyder Reveals New Look At Wonder Woman In Justice League

The Shazam! movie is still in the early stages of development; a few months ago, it was rumored that the movie could move up its release date from the original April 2019 schedule.

Original Article Source: The Rock Explains Why He Took Black Adam Role In DC Comics’ Shazam Movie

Ten Hilarious Comics That Reveal The Reality Of Living With Cats

Ten Hilarious Comics That Reveal The Reality Of Living With Cats

Revolve Comics – Solstice Launch

Revolve: An Interview With Nathan Donnel and Danny McLaughlin

Nathan Donnel and Danny McLaughlin at the Solstice LaunchNathan Donnel and Danny McLaughlin at the Solstice Launch

About two seconds after writer Danny McLaughlin handed me a copy of Solstice, I was impressed. Nathan Donnel’s art popped off the page. After reading the book, I was captivated by the story too (check out my review here). I asked the creative team about the book and what else we should expect from Revolve Comics.

Do you have a mission statement for Revolve Comics? What kind of books you want to produce. That kind of thing. 

Revolve Comics’ mission statement is “Storytelling is our Jam!” We want to create strong engaging stories that build a loyal fanbase and that fans actually want. We want to up the ante and create a strong professional brand for our comics and stories. We want to create books that are a little bit different from the mainstream- we want to be revolutionary (hence Revolve) and work with as many artists and writers (ie Revolving Door lol) down the line. Revolve has been working with other organisations to help them communicate their ideas and goals etc using visual literacy ie a comic for kids who has just being diagnosed with diabetes, educational resources in historical subjects and a lot more- we want to use the strengths of comics to help have a more social impact and help as many charities and organisations along the way.
1COVER
Moving on to Solstice. When I opened the book I was immediately mesmerised by the energy of the art. I was wondering about some of your artistic influences. The striking thing for me was the colour choices. It seems like you put a lot of thought into the look of the book. 

Danny McLaughlin: Yeah from the get go we knew we wanted something that was not run of the mill. It is cheaper to do black and white and kinda started thinking about how to make it different and because we both love colour storytelling and talked about it at length previously. So when we decided to do it in colour we wanted a strong visual theme. When people do colour books they perhaps sometimes “over colour” it and so coming at it from a different angle gives us a chance to use it with extra “oomph” and also to carry a stylistic theme throughout the series. We even dropped an extra layer of concept with the main character being “finn” which means “pale” in Gaelige- the book is pale and as we learn about the world it will become more colourful just like the story.

Nathan Donnel: Whenever anyone asks me about influences my mind always jumps back to the first time I read a comic and loving the art, that comic was amazing Spider-man drawn by John Romita Jr, more recent influences I would say for panel layout I aspire to be more like J.H. Williams III, his free flowing panel style creates a great visual style.
Solstice Texting 1-3-04
From a story point of view, I thought the mythology felt very authentic. Were you influenced by existing mythologies?

DM: My first love is mythology so everything I do has elements but in Solstice is where I let the dogs of their leads with mythology. We wanted it to feel homely and therefore we wanted to start with a more Celtic and Nordic feel as we knew the first issue was to be winter (it seems like winter forever in Ireland lol) and use the mythology that is on our doorstep, and this helped us create the mythological cosmology of the Solstice world. But don’t think that’s where the mythological spectrum and influence ends. I can’t say too much #Spoilers lol 😉

ND: Visually I tried to capture a Celtic/Norse winter look to the costume choice and atmosphere but i suppose that feel only will run for winter, get ready for big changes to Finn’s style in spring.

Solstice Texting 4-6-02
How would you describe the plot to someone who hasn’t read it?

Ahem… here’s one prepared earlier 🙂
A fantastical world of mythical grandeur and charm that will take your breath away. Gods, both benevolent and malevolent, interfere with their “Wars Celestial”. In the face of all death, one girl has to live up to her family’s legacy.

Do I get a Blue Peter Badge?? 🙂

But I will add that the story and art will move and explore a personal journey. If you think of the solstice; it both describes the abundance of light in the day and yet a day with a lack of light too- this is that journey.
Solstice Texting 10-13-01
The second issue “Spring” is coming soon. Can you tell us what to expect in that issue?

DM: So looking forward to this issue- we will see more of the world that Finn, our protagonist, inhabits in many ways. We will meet a few new characters and even find out the goals and motivations of the Seasonal Gods and perhaps learn of something that may make the readers of the first issue question what they learned in previous instalment. And I’ll not say too much about the stylistic approach- that is all to be soaked up by the eyes (I may not be able to do it much justice with words). But Spring may just plant the seed of intrigue if issue one didn’t already.

ND: I suppose from my end, the art, you’re going to see a lot more vibrancy in the world and we’re going to see more of the place that Finn inhabits as well as the introduction of some new characters.
Solstice Texting 14-17-04
What else should we expect from Revolve Comics?

Revolution! Well that’s the goal- change the landscape of what comics are and the indie comic scene! But in next while we will see an untitled Irish sci-fi comic being released, and see the blood sweat and tears of some of the social impact projects come to light, and one of the major initiatives that we want to launch will be an “anthology” of sorts for some of the up-and-coming talent in and around Ireland. So any writers and artists who want a stab at collaborating keep an ear to the ground for news of that coming in the next while. And of course we got a whole lot more stuff we are backburnering but can’t say too much about that either #Spoilers.

Revolve Comics Website
Revolve Comics OnlineShop
Revolve Facebook Page
Revolve Comics on Twitter

Original Article Source: Revolve: An Interview With Nathan Donnel and Danny McLaughlin – Irish Comic News

The Five Comics That You Must Read This Month

The Five Comics That You Must Read This Month

November is traditionally a quiet month in comics: the year is winding to a close, and publishers enjoy a brief lull ahead of the holidays. This year, however, there are all manner of wonders to be found in your local comic book emporiums, including comics that celebrate the history of one superhero universe and build diverse new casts (and creative teams) for another. There’s also magic and talking motorcycles to be found, if you know where to look. Here are the five titles you should definitely be picking up in November.

Black Panther: World of Wakanda #1 (Marvel Entertainment)

Spinning out of the current Black Panther series, Ta-Nehisi Coates teams with Roxane Gay to write the lead story in this new series, which focuses on Ayo and Aneka, the women who rebelled against tradition for love. (The amazing Alitha E. Martinez illustrates.) The first issue also teams poet Yona Harvey with Afua Richardson for the origin of Zenzi, the woman behind the flagship series’ conflict.

Credit: Marvel Entertainment

Spinning out of the current Black Panther series, Ta-Nehisi Coates teams with Roxane Gay to write the lead story in this new series, which focuses on Ayo and Aneka, the women who rebelled against tradition for love. (The amazing Alitha E. Martinez illustrates.) The first issue also teams poet Yona Harvey with Afua Richardson for the origin of Zenzi, the woman behind the flagship series’ conflict.

Sugar & Spike: Metahuman Investigations (DC Entertainment)

Originally published as part of an anthology, Sugar & Spike is a funny, caustic love letter to the goofy histories that some of DC’s greatest heroes would rather everyone forgot about. Keith Giffen writes with a mix of snark and affection, but the star of the show is the art of Bilquis Evely, which is utterly exquisite. No wonder she got tapped as the new artist for Wonder Woman soon afterwards.

Credit: DC Entertainment

Originally published as part of an anthology, Sugar & Spike is a funny, caustic love letter to the goofy histories that some of DC’s greatest heroes would rather everyone forgot about. Keith Giffen writes with a mix of snark and affection, but the star of the show is the art of Bilquis Evely, which is utterly exquisite. No wonder she got tapped as the new artist for Wonder Woman soon afterwards.

Namesake #1 (Boom! Studios)

Steve Orlando is a writer whose star has been on the rise at DC in recent months, thanks to his Midnighter and Supergirl series. With Namesake, he and artist Jakub Rebelka have created a thoroughly unique creator-owned title: a protagonist who has to find a way to put his parents’ remains to rest despite the fact that they belong to different worlds—which only intersect once every seven years. Hope you’ve got a good calendar app, man!

Credit: Boom! Studios

Steve Orlando is a writer whose star has been on the rise at DC Comics in recent months, thanks to his Midnighter and Supergirl series. With Namesake, he and artist Jakub Rebelka have created a thoroughly unique creator-owned title: a protagonist who has to find a way to put his parents’ remains to rest despite the fact that they belong to different worlds—which only intersect once every seven years. Hope you’ve got a good calendar app, man!

Harbinger Renegades #1 (Valiant Entertainment)

Mixing the high concept of Marvel’s X-Men (kids with strange powers that we can’t control or understand!) with a dose of contemporary politics, Harbinger Renegades revives one of Valiant’s central franchises with a twist. Rafer Roberts and Transmetropolitan‘s Darick Robertson harness the fractured paranoia in US current events, turning it into a superhero story unlike any other in this new series.

Credit: Valiant Entertainment

Mixing the high concept of Marvel’s X-Men (kids with strange powers that we can’t control or understand!) with a dose of contemporary politics, Harbinger Renegades revives one of Valiant’s central franchises with a twist. Rafer Roberts and Transmetropolitan‘s Darick Robertson harness the fractured paranoia in US current events, turning it into a superhero story unlike any other in this new series.

Motro #1 (Oni Press)

Even if the idea of a fantasy epic about a superhumanly strong young boy and his talking miniature motorcycle trying to save lives by fulfilling a prophecy from the boy’s dead father doesn’t appeal to you—and it should, because that sounds amazing—then this book is worth a look because of those responsible: Ulises Fariñas, who co-writes (with Erick Freitas) and draws the series has an imagination like few others, and he and colorist Ryan Hill were the art team on the amazing-looking Judge Dredd: Mega-City Two a few years back. (He’s also done some incredible work for this very publication!) This might be the most exciting, unexpected thing on the stands.

Credit: Oni Press

Even if the idea of a fantasy epic about a superhumanly strong young boy and his talking miniature motorcycle trying to save lives by fulfilling a prophecy from the boy’s dead father doesn’t appeal to you—and it should, because that sounds amazing—then this book is worth a look because of those responsible: Ulises Fariñas, who co-writes (with Erick Freitas) and draws the series has an imagination like few others, and he and colorist Ryan Hill were the art team on the amazing-looking Judge Dredd: Mega-City Two a few years back. (He’s also done some incredible work for this very publication!) This might be the most exciting, unexpected thing on the stands.

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Original Article Source: Pull List: The 5 Comics You Absolutely Need to Read This Month