What kind of circumstances could have gotten "30 Days of Night" creator Steve Niles in a room with "Godkiller" creator Matt Pizzolo and Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz, but somehow they all decided to start their own comic book company. They're calling it Black Mask Studios, and starting this spring, they'll be releasing a series of titles with a digital/trade model.
It's "super-group" style comics, with a bunch of name comic creators being joined by non-industry types (the RZA anf Ghostface Killah have their own book) for some high-concept titles with a little bit of social activism thrown in ("Occupy Comics" and "Liberator" deal with economic inequality and animal rights respectively).
It's actually not a bad lineup of creators--the one thing that typically gets me worried is how involved they'll actually be able to remain with the line (the now-defunct Virgin comics line couldn't keep any of its name talent on board for anything longer than a minute).
What they do have nailed down is a distribution strategy, which will see Black Mask books on shelves as single issues in shops, while also offering readers the chance to subscribe to a series digitally and receive a physical trade at the end of an arc (something Pizzolo did at Halo-8 with his series "Godkiller). Pizzolo's a smart guy and does some pretty cool work, and both Niles and Gurewitz have been responsible for work I've enjoyed for years ("Stranger Than Fiction" was one of my earliest music purchases with my own money)--I'm hoping he's able to hit the ground running and not get mired down in the usual stuff that snags indie studios like this.
These are the titles coming as part of Black Mask Studios' spring slate:
Occupy Comics Anthology - out May 1st, the star-studded political anthology is the first shared project between Alan Moore (Watchmen) and David Lloyd since V For Vendetta, as well as Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead), Art Spiegelman (Pulitzer-winning Maus), Molly Crabapple (Shell Game), Matt Bors (Pulitzer-nominated political cartoonist), Mike Allred (Madman), Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night), J.M. DeMatteis (Justice League, Spider-Man), Tyler Crook (Petrograd), Joshua Hale Fialkov (I, Vampire), Joe Infurnari (Mush!), Ales Kot (Wild Children), Dean Haspiel (American Splendor), Douglas Rushkoff (media theorist), Joshua Dysart (Unknown Soldier, Swamp Thing), Matt Miner (Liberator), & the project's organizational spearhead Matt Pizzolo (Godkiller).
12 Reasons To Die - out May 29th, this horror-crime hybrid is the latest comic book from the legendary Wu-Tang Clan's RZA and Ghostface Killah. It is illustrated by a rotating team of artists including Riley Rossmo (Bedlam), Tim Seeley (Hack/Slash), Joe Infurnari (Mush!), Kyle Strahm (Haunt), Gus Storms & Breno Tamura (Pigs), with covers by Ronald Wimberly (Prince of Cats) and Christopher Mitten (30 Days of Night).
Ballistic – out June 26th, the new comic book by Darick Robertson (Happy, The Boys, Transmetropolitan) and Adam Egypt Mortimer (director of Grant Morrison's upcoming Sinatoro) is a madcap, futurist, sci-fi adventure about a wanna-be bank robber and his best friend: a psychotic, drug addicted living gun.
Liberator – out June 19th, this is a hard-edged vigilante series about two young heroes who avenge the torture of animals, created by writer and real-life dog rescuer Matt Miner (Occupy Comics) and artist Joel Gomez (Detective Comics) with covers by Chris Burnham (Batman Incorporated), Tim Seeley (Hack/Slash), Yildiray Cinar (Earth 2), and Joe Prado (Aquaman, Justice League). "A really cool, progressive story about young outcast crusaders." - Scott Snyder (Batman, American Vampire, Superman: Man of Steel)
The Black Mask Studios site is live (someone needs to check the black text on gray formatting), and you might want to head over and see what these guys are up to.