4/30/11 IS THE NEW NUMBER OF THE BEAST
“…For the female of the species is more deadly than the male”- Kipling
Comics have long been considered a “man’s world”, with regard to both the writing as well as the art. There are, of course, exceptions to this (Amanda Conner, Katie Cook, Gail Simone, Allison Sohn, Cat Staggs, Jill Thompson…just to name a few). As of April 30th, 2011 there will be some more names in those hallowed halls….well maybe I should say those damned halls.
The long anticipated, and highly clandestine, Teenage Satan project is finally being unveiled at the 2011 Boston Comic Con! This lovely piece of Hell is brought to you by the creative team of Stephanie Buscema, Marsha Cooke and Candis Cooke. Not only does this project break the gender barrier, as it is entirely produced by women, but it also creates a new interactive multi-media format for the genre. Now before we discuss why this project is so innovative, and destined to become an instantly recognizable brand, we need to address the stats of these talented ladies.
Stephanie Buscema is the granddaughter of acclaimed Marvel artist, and Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame inductee, John Buscema (I would be remiss if I did not also mention her grand-uncle Sal Buscema, who has done interior pencils for both DC and Marvel). Stephanie grew up in a comic book household of the highest pedigree. Her early exposure to the medium, and experience inking for her grandfather, set her well on her way in the industry. She was raised in the “old school” tradition of put-a-real-paintbrush-to-paper (she especially likes the cell vinyl painting process typically used in animation). While the future, in general, is definitely digital, it is nice to know that behind the binary, there are still people who create the images organically. While I am not universally knocking digitally created art, it is true that one can feel the transfer of the artist’s energy in her (or his) pieces, when they are physically drawn. This translates even if you are looking at a digital image of something that was originally created by hand. Anyone who has seen Stephanie’s art will attest to its stylistic beauty, technique, funky spirit and skill. While she may have a familial connection, her success in the industry is entirely hers. It is hard for the relatives of comic professionals to get their own accolades, without hearing cries of “nepotism”. I would imagine that it is doubly hard for a woman in this position. Stephanie has transcended that, both in her work and personality. As Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) put it, “The wonderful thing about Stephanie is she is as fast with the brush as she is with a switchblade. That Sister will cut you!”
Marsha Cooke is a woman who requires no last name. She is just MARSHA…like Cher, or Madonna. She is a collection of personality traits distilled down to the most concentrated and essential parts. An incredibly strong and uncompromising personality, she is unafraid to say what she feels and “keep it real”. Disinterested in red tape, boundaries or insincerity of any kind, Marsha would have been the kind of person who walked past the endless line of waiting patrons at Studio 54, and demanded to be let in on no other credential than that of being herself. The funny thing is, she would have gotten in. Business partner, personal assistant and devoted wife to the incomparable and obscenely talented, Eisner Award winning, Darwyn Cooke, Marsha is, herself, one of his great achievements. His loving muse, she provides for him in all aspects of his business and personal life. Now we get to hear Marsha’s plucky satirical view of the world presented in the medium which she has helped manage for so long. As Jimmy Palmiotti (Painkiller Jane, Jonah Hex, upcoming Claws 2) said, “I have been quoting Marsha for years…most of the time people don’t believe me when I tell them a story about her… That psycho bitch is branching out on her own, and finally putting pen to paper…”
Candis “bad to the bone” Cooke is Marsha’s niece through marriage. As a natural born writer and long time behind the scenes supporter of her uncle, she has decided to step into the spotlight and stake her claim in the industry. Candis brings a raw and unbridled energy to the project. This seriously tough chick could run Hell all by herself, if given half a chance. Noted comic writer James Robinson (Starman, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight) says, “Candis Cooke is a fantastic writer but a vile, evil human being. She invited me to Tijuana for a night of drinking, then skipped back over the border with my pants, wallet, drivers license and car keys. She then sold my car, traded my license for some Oxy and ran up 100Gs of debt on my credit cards. Honestly I hate the bitch, but she’s a damn fine writer.”
So, given our present company… let’s all go to Hell, shall we?
HELL-O freshman year of high school…feels like purgatory to me!
Teenage Satan chronicles the high school adventures of Luc Satan. Luc’s father, Lucifer, and mother, Jezebel, have very high hopes for him! Luc is destined to inherit, and run, the family business…the Underworld. The only problem is that he just doesn’t make the grade. No matter how much his father punishes him, or how hard his mom works at homeschooling him, he is just an epic failure on every front. Hell is totally screwed. In an act of desperation, his parents enroll him in Hades High, hoping that some real world experience will correct his lack of, well, everything.
While Luc’s freshman year problems are, on the surface, no different from our own experiences, they are actually a helluva lot more complicated. Luc is in love with Mary, the girl next door; he has always been in love with her. The problem is that everyone is in love with Mary (there’s just something about her…). Mary is the quintessential inaccessible girl. She refuses to, let’s say, open her “holy gates”…for anyone. Luc gets bullied by Joey, the hunky all-star Quarterback (did I mention total douche?) and lady killer. Gabe, a new kid from another school, comes to Hades High and things get really strange. Suddenly Mary’s cousin and best ‘frenemy’, Beth, is pregnant, despite the fact that she claims to still be a virgin (what-ever…I heard Luc and Gabe totally saw her with Nick).
Things heat up for Luc when he finds out that his best friend Gabe isn’t just any transfer student, but an angel sent to stop his family’s army of darkness from rising (no, not Ash’s AOD). This creates conflict of biblical proportions, literally! Should Luc betray his family and do what’s right, maybe winning the girl he loves in the process? Should Luc betray his one and only friend, Gabe, which would bring honor to his parents and secure his place in the familial empire? Wow all this AND homework! Sucks big time. We all, in some form or another, told our parents to “go to Hell” in a moment of hormone- fueled teen anger…but for Luc it has a whole other meaning. This classic nature/nurture battle forms the spine of the plot, which supports the many funny characters and situations. Part of the fun will be seeing what choices Luc makes in his journey of personal growth and puberty, given the fact that his life really is a living Hell. All of this ultimately leads up to the birth of Christ on Dec 22, 2012…and only God knows what will happen then.
Outside of the contemporary and instantly brand-able characters and story, the most exciting thing about Teenage Satan is the actual structure of the content. It will be a downloadable and interactive mobile app as well as a web accessible comic, with new content featured daily. Designed for, and catering to, this new generation of faces lit mostly by the small rectangular shafts of light that iPhones, iPads, and Androids provide, Teenage Satan bridges the cultural gap between picking up your weekly comics, and the convenience and accessibility of instantly downloadable content. This is no Kindle or Nook, which only allows you to view a comic. This provides interactive content, such as games and music, in addition to the more traditional comic offerings (all on your mobile device). The games and music both tie into the plot of the story. While there are new items daily, their format will vary, depending on the day. One day will be pages from the comic book, the next a themed or related game. Some days will include journal or Face Book posts form the characters themselves (think modern Bram Stoker-esque storytelling through letters and journal entries). The production team notes that it is now common to have a purely “digital relationship” with someone who is actually real, so having one with a fictional character would not be a huge stretch.
Appealing to the adult, as well as the high school demographic (similar to the multi-generational popularity of Jhonen Vasquez’s Invader Zim), this new form of “immersion” comic is sure to intrigue all. How often do you find yourself playing Angry Birds to kill time? This would allow you to follow a comic, listen to musical (specific to the plot, of course) and play a series of themed tie-in games (2-3 new ones a week). The weekends will have behind the scenes info, provided by the lovely ladies, which discusses the production of the story (like the commentary and special features on a DVD).
In today’s market where even CDs are cursing Charles Darwin, any product that wants to survive has to do so by becoming “multi-lingual”. Content needs to reach as many people, in a format they will understand and utilize, as possible. While this new innovation will never replace the feeling of holding a crisp new comic in your hand on a Wednesday, it does offer a different way of interacting with the medium, which can give comics a new dimension within which to grow. Additionally, unlike a regular comic, which might cost you an average of $4/monthly issue, Teenage Satan will cost roughly 99¢ a month. Other packages offered are 4 months for $3.75 or you can get the entire run of the book (until 12/22/12) for $14. That is a whole year of content for what roughly 1 month of satellite radio costs. There will be a “games only” package available for those of you who just want something to keep your hands busy (get your mind out of the gutter). Furthermore, merchandise will be available, so you can show your allegiance to the dark side.
The unveiling begins RIGHT NOW! To kick it off, go to www.teenagesatan.com. What awaits you is a 2 minute promo animation of Stephanie’s art by Darwyn Cooke (with help from Ben Jeddrie). This was just posted at noon today, so be among the first to see it!
You can follow Teenage Satan on Twitter- @teenagesatan666.
If you are in the Boston area tonight, be sure to stop by the Vlora Restaurant on 545 Boylston Street at 10:30 PM. There will be several comic book bigwigs mingling, and of course the Boston Baby Dolls who will be ready to make you run to confession!
Yours truly will also be floating about, making sure that UNWINNABLE gets coverage of the whole sinful affair. I have also been put in charge of collecting souls. My only advice to you if you see me coming: it hurts less if you don’t struggle.