So this is big! THR reports that Black Mask Studios is a recently formed publishing company founded by Steve Niles, Matt Pizzolo, and Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitzhas, and they’ve recruited the biggest names in comics for their lineup launch. Among the writers contributing are Alan Moore, David Lloyd, Art Spiegelman, Charlie Adlard, Mike Allred, Ben Templesmith, J.M. DeMatteis, Molly Crabapple (Shell Game), as well as RZA and Ghostface Killah. Worthy of note is the fact that there are no superhero books in their lineup. Check out details below.
“The way we put together the slate is with wanting to push the boundaries of what can be done in comics,” said Pizzolo, “to create you must destroy” and “Inspire, never meddle.” “One of the chief goals is to expand the audience of comics. We are trying to do that by bringing in different sensibilities, like Wu-Tang, like hard sci-fi and futurism, and with madcap energy. Remember books like Transmetropolitan? You don’t see much of that today.”
The first book, to hit stores May 1, will be Occupy Comics Anthology, a three-issue miniseries whose first issue reunites Moore with Lloyd for the first time since V for Vendetta.
12 Reasons to Die comes from RZA and Ghostface Killah, described as “a brutal tale of gangsters, betrayal, and one vengeful soul hunting the 12 most powerful crimelords in the world,” it’ll be drawn by rotating artists incluing Riley Rossmo and Tim Seeley and hits shelves on May 29.
June 19 will see the release of Liberator, from writer and real-life dog rescuer Matt Miner and artist Joel Gomez (Detective Comics) — a vigilante series about two young heroes who avenge the torture of animals. Thirty percent of the book’s profits from the four issue mini-series will go animal rescue efforts.
Finally, Transmetropolitan and The Boys co-creator Darick Robertson and indie filmmaker Adam Egypt Mortimer will release Ballistic — a psychedelic and bizarre buddy adventure about an air conditioner repairman with master criminal dreams and his best friend, a drug-addicted, genetically-modified, foul-mouthed firearm — on June 26.
Even though Niles has Hollywood experience — his comic 30 Days of Night was turned into a Sam Raimi-produced studio picture, while Pizzolo has a lot of indie film credit with Halo 8 — they are in not the business of hoarding IP or parsing it out while stiffing creators, which has happened in the past.
“We are not looking at these things as treatments for movies but we do want to engage in transmedia worldbuilding,” said Pizzolo.
The company is convinced that there is an audience beyond the loyal core of superhero readers that dominate the marketplace and Pizzolo points to books like The Walking Dead and Niles’ own 30 Days franchise which have had sales numbers rivaling the comics of Marvel and DC.
“Comics has a long history of doing all sorts of genres and we want to expand into new territories and into genres that haven’t gotten the attention we think they deserve,” he said.