I’ve loved Mike Mignola’s work for a VERY long time – longer than perhaps either of us would like to admit! Right from the first book I remember, Truimph & Torment, the Marvel Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom graphic novel of 1989, he was one of those love-at-first-sight artists – instantly iconic, instantly impressive, and always idiosyncratic. You can’t mistake a Mignola for anybody else, despite the many creators that have been influenced by him.
There are too many great Mignola books to call out – I believe I may have all his books, and there’s not one that isn’t worth owning – but for the sake of brevity there are three I’ll talk about that remain particular favourites.
FAFHRD and the GRAY MOUSER
Faithfully adapted from the famous stories by Fitz Lieber, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser from 1991, was a series of four prestige books produced by Marvel’s Epic line. The characters are so wonderfully realized, and the stories so charmingly acted throughout that you can’t help but be swept away. There’s also a kind of shorthand in the storytelling in Hellboy that seemed, to my eyes at least, to really have evolved out of these books. Design – always a factor in Mignola art – is a huge part of what makes them so special, and the world is fully evolved, the culture feels so tangible. Book four, in particular, has a cover that contains echoes of what was to come – including a character that looks remarkably like a certain Abe Sapien…
IRONWOLF: FIRES of the REVOLUTION
The next book that I absolutely adored was Ironwolf: Fires of the Revolution, written by Howard Chaykin and John Francis Moore. A tale of flying wooden ships, a vampire elite and lion men, it’s full of charm and derring-do. With an extreme economy of line Mignola can create an extraordinary breadth of expression, but he also really knows form and lighting, so everything is incredibly solid. It’s a stunning book. Track it down in hardback. You won’t regret it!
When Hellboy came along – based on a convention drawing that triggered a thought process that resulted in the creation of the book – it was a genuine ‘event’. Within the industry, particularly amongst artists, Mignola was already revered – much more, I believed, than he ever personally knew! – and Hellboy didn’t disappoint. Mythology, folklore and crime procedurals collided in a manner that Mignola somehow made seem effortless. And at the heart of the book was the incredibly appealing Hellboy himself, stone-fisted and shorn of horns, you somehow found empathy with this good-hearted demon-spawn.
We’re delighted to be able to bring you Mignola’s Hellboy in Hell as a Motion Book on the Madefire app, and we believe it’s a medium entirely suited to the big red lug!
Early on at Madefire, just as the first stories and pieces of art started to come in, and the medium we were involved in progressing really started to look like it was progressing, one of our key investors noted that it was here that ‘the myths of the 21st century would be created.’
It was a pretty bold statement!
This week we launch a book that can legitimately lay claim to that – ‘War in Heaven’ by Ricardo Pinto and Adrian Smith.
Ricardo Pinto is the writer of one of the most epic, brutal, and pioneering trilogies of the last fifteen years. The Stone Dance of the Chameleon is told over three huge volumes, and features a world of astonishing lucidity. Ricardo built models which he lit with a false electric sun so he could chart the lengthening of shadows across the terrain. The astonishingly cruel caste system of his native culture is exposed in every facet; beautiful and barbaric. At times it reads like an anthropological study, at other times it’s a psychological nightmare. The ghost of Jung embeds his icons in the intricate structures of both the story and the plot. It’s exhaustive and exhausting, and utterly riveting.
Adrian Smith is one of the most highly respected dark fantasy gaming artists in the world. His battle scenes are choreographed with a general’s eye, the thuggish intent of the protagonists unquestioned. He makes preposterous, insanely ornate, over-sized armour seem logical and practical. There’s no cutting corners here – he paints everything! I’ve studied his work and can’t figure out how he does it without an army of clones, or some sort of time-retarding device. There aren’t enough hours in any given day to accommodate his output, so I have come to trust that he is in league with demonic and arcane individuals, that some satanic pact has been enacted. It’s scary!
‘War in Heaven’ is their first Motion Book. Loosely based on Milton’s Paradise Lost it wastes no time at all getting going, and Pinto doesn’t over-burden Smith’s art with exposition or dialogue. It’s sparse, lyrical – indeed the words fit the art more like the lyrics of a concept album than anything else. This is post-rock-art, epic and unapologetic. And it really is epic! Not since Philippe Druillet gave us Yragail/Urm have I seen such scale in a work of narrative art. It’s mind-blowing, and it’s aided by some of our best soundscapes to date.
On Thursday, which fittingly happens to be Hallowe’en, we’re releasing all six issues at once. Dive in. Be transported.
21st Century mythology?
Absolutely, in every monochromatic chamber of it’s dark, elegiac heart.
All we needed was a few world-renowned properties (I don’t know… let’s say, for the sake of argument, something everybody knows: Star Trek would be one! Maybe Transformers? That has legions of fans that span generations! And what about something that has found a new and growing audience, the biggest of the licensed comics, something truly inspiring and huge, like say… My Little Pony? Now THAT would be AWESOME!) All we needed, to consolidate our mission to change the way stories can be told, was a few little properties like that and Madefire could gently close its weary eyes and drift off into a deep and dream-cushioned slumber knowing that we had done all we possibly could, and that we had done it well.
Such are dreams made of (and let’s face it – that’s something we do here! We dream big!) But, y’ know, we’re not stupid! There are some dreams that are there to inspire; to drive you forward; to guide you on to greater, bigger things! But…
Well. Maybe one day. But it’s good to dream, right?
And yet… today we have these very titles right up there, in our store on the Madefire app, and available for everybody to read on deviantART. And they look… well frankly we think they look stunning!
IDW are one of the first of the new third party publishers to bring their content on to the Madefire platform, with many more to follow. They have been the very best partners we could wish for, immediately appreciating what Madefire had to offer and going above and beyond when it came to suggesting titles and books to adapt and work with, and getting approvals made. It has been a dream.
We’re still blinking a bit, rubbing our eyes. Our hair is a bit of a mess and we’re stifling a yawn. But it’s not something lingering, half-remembered. It’s not an impossible dream we can’t quite recall, or that lies beyond our reach. It’s reality.
Yup! (And it’s made Bronies out of the lot of us. I’m not even joking. It really is good!)
Here’s to the first wave, with many more publishers and epic properties to follow… We hope you enjoy them!
(And seriously – MLP… Check. It. Out!)
Hello Madefire Nation! This blog post is brought to you by me—Kevin—the resident Art Director here at Madefire. Having had the pleasure of being present when we released our launch titles into the world over a year ago, and having no idea where these titles would take us (the creators tend to keep tight-lipped and will release plot points on a need-to-know basis only) I’m excited to see The Engine, episode 5.
Now, I grew up on comic books. I was fortunate enough to inherit my older brothers Spider-Man collection when I was younger (which I still have, and a big Thank You to my brother!) and augment it with a strong collection of my own, which included X-Men, The New Mutants, Spawn, Usagi Yojimbo, and TMNT, to name a few (which I also still have). And from this extensive collecting experience, I also know the pains of First Issues, and how you/we painstakingly wait for the second issue, then the third, the fourth, the fifth, and so on—waiting for the point of no return, when the story has so completely grabbed you, that it refuses to let you go. This is when you realize you’re hooked, and that you, my dear reader, are now a Collector and a Fan.
I bring this up because since our launch, I’ve seen our First Issues turn into Second Issues. Then Third Issues. Then Fourth Issues, all the while building the story, the characters, and the world they live in. And I promise you dear reader—regardless if you’ve been with us since our launch, or if you’ve recently joined us, we’re about to hit the point of no return (if you haven’t already). This last year has seen the build up of our launch titles, but shortly we’ll offer you third party titles you may already know. Titles such as Star Trek, Transformers, and My Little Pony just to name a few, our worlds are combining with universes you already know and love. I hope you’re as excited as I am, because the coming year has even MORE goodies!
NOW! The issue at hand! In the last decade, there have been more reports of mines collapsing, trapping miners around the world than I care to pull stats on. Being buried alive is a common fear shared by many (Taphophobia is right up there with Arachnophobia and Acrophobia in my books). The first story arc for The Engine begins exactly in this manner, along with a smattering of Seismophobia for good measure.
Fueled by stars, and forgotten in time, our behemoth is the last and only operating “mechanical worker” left, a relic of the past. Condemned to the mines to work until it rusts, The Engine works tirelessly next to the prisoners who have been sentenced to the mine to serve out their punishments from the State. When a massive earthquake strikes the area and devastates the mine, all are trapped in a brutal and rocky grave. Will they get out? Will they survive? Will this natural disaster be their demise, or are the inmates more dangerous to each other than the earthquake?
As we become familiar with this group of outcasts, we also learn what brought them to their current position and where they fit within the group dynamic. But who is The Engine? Is he a brainless robot? Or is there more to this steel giant than we know? This opening story arc for Madefire’s title The Engine by Jimmy Broxton and Guy Adams comes to a conclusion with episode 5. My biggest questions? “Who survives?” and “Is The Engine alive? Or is he just malfunctioning?”
Read the latest issue to find out. Then sign up with us to keep informed when the next episode of The Engine is available. And wait until you read our special two-part stand-alone “Fueled by Stars” coming in a few weeks!
Cheers you lot.