Tag Archives: Arcana Studios

May the Fourth Be Coming to Free Comic Book Day

3 May

Free Comic Book DayBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Free Comic Book Day is coming, and it’s happening after May the Fourth. Star Wars fans can rejoice as a tale featuring Han Solo is offered. Bounty Hunters Zuckuss and 4-LOM have found these smugglers for hire, and just what happens will require stopping by a comic shop so I can find out! The brief synopsis offered online does not say much, but it’s enough to get me curious.

Fans who are unaware of this saga’s long history in this medium can also talk to the staff of their local comic book store in what else to look at, or pick up. I followed the run back when they started at Marvel. Dark Horse continued the love a decade later with a terrific Dark Empire saga (and much more), but these days they are back with Marvel. Other chapters include a Star Wars: Rebels tie-in with Kanan. I miss this computer-animated series and honestly, the poster tease for the new Resistance looks too bright and colorful. With IDW on board to publish tales from the Forces of Destiny line, no shortage is planned as long as Lucasfilm/Disney is involved! Just how well received it will be depends on the story direction.

At least there are other franchises to consider on Free Comic Book Day. Teasers to Overwatch, Riverdale, Street Fighter and Transformers are just a sample of what people can find at their local comic book store.

These works are usually one-offs. Some have even become collectibles because of the extra work put behind releasing them. Gold Comics are titles which the publishers put a touch more work behind to release “free,” and those Mouse Guards I have from previous years will forever be treasured.

The following are my top ten picks of what must be considered. They are not necessarily collectible, but as a primer for what’s planned by the big publishers, to start here is a must!

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Diving into Howard Lovecraft & The Undersea Kingdom

6 Dec

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

Based on the graphic novel of the same name, Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom is the second chapter of a three-part saga. Here, the child version of this seminal writer (voiced by Kiefer O’Reilly) has to deal with untold dangers from more than one dark world. Youths can be introduced to H.P. Lovecraft before he became the recluse and derisive adult.

This film is  humourous at times. It’s also a safe product to teach young viewers the importance of never forgetting their elders, even when the world shuns them. When considering what the real-life figure was like, perhaps all he needed was more familial love.

After the events of the first film, he has to keep the three books from being put together to form the Necronomicon. He does not know of this tome’s secrets, but in what he learns — how to use magic — he has to use it to fight the minions mad Abdul (Jeffrey Combs) is sending after him! Although his father is committed to a sanitarium and his mother is possessed (and eventually kidnapped), this lad is proving to be able to take on the challenges from the mysterious city of R’yleh and other strange worlds which lays in this maddening multiverse.

This film is adapted from Bruce Brown’s work (original creator) which is published by Arcana Comics. The print edition (available on Amazon) is much more violent when compared to this cinematic version. The changes required to make this product accessible for youths does not distract. Even as I’m thumbing through my hardcover copy of the complete story while watching this film to find what writer and director Sean Patrick O’Reilly changed, general aspects of all three issues (when it was released as individual comics) are retained. He brings much-needed character development to Winfield Scott Lovecraft, the father. While none of this is true to the real life counterpart, to understand this individual offers to fans a hint at what could have influenced the boy to become the man with unsettling dreams.

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Changes are in Store for Howard Lovecraft & The Undersea Kingdom

21 Jan
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Comic book cover

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

Revisions are in store in Arcana Studios next film, Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom. The original comic book story had two companions helping the boy travel to this new world to rescue his family. With only his mother and aunts, life may seem easy. But after the events from Frozen Kingdom, he better look out! His father broke out of his asylum prison so both he and Constable Smith (who finds the boy without a home) can help. The gun-touting action and violence in this edition works, but in a product targeting a general audience to enjoy, it has to be changed.

“The guns and grenades being used in Undersea Kingdom were an immediate offside from numerous distributors,” revealed Sean O’Reilly, co-founder of Arcana Studios. “Losing that character [of Smith], and replacing him with a character that H.P. Lovecraft created in Dr. Henry Armitage, put us in a direction towards Miskatonic University. This then leads to building out the world that the author created.”

Both this studio and Shout! Factory announced the voice cast a few days ago, indicating that progress is on track for a Q4 direct-to-video release. Mark Hamill will be playing the role of the prestigious doctor. Best known as The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, this talent can do more than swing a light saber in Star Wars. Also set to play a bigger role is Jeffrey Combs as King Abdul, the primary antagonist for this second film. When he kidnaps his mother and aunts, the young lad has to get Spot to help him travel to the Undersea Kingdom to rescue them. But he can not do it alone, and to see what O’Reilly has to alter in series creator, Bruce Brown’s work, will have followers curious.

Using the original graphic novel as reference, the monsters we will get to see include Shoggoths and Deep Ones. With luck, maybe a Mi-Go or two will help out.

Returning talents include Christopher Plummer and Doug Bradley as Dr. Herbert West and Nyarlathotep.

What’s Next after Arcana Studios’ Howard Lovecraft and The Frozen Kingdom?

9 Dec

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By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom can make a great holiday gift for fans of Cthulhu and H.P. Lovecraft’s works. The adult self may well be morbid with his harsh opinions about the people he’s met and the Jazz Age he lived in, but for the youth, his innocence has yet to be tarnished. With snow hitting parts of the Pacific Northwest, I have the print volume, video release and compilation hardcover (amazon listing) to cozy up to and the Dreamlands to visit as I lay snuggled up in my blanket. Some comic book stores may not be able to order them in, and thankfully they can be obtained through Arcana Studios’ website or on Amazon.

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I wanted to know more about what’s coming for this trilogy. Reception is great for the animated version, and Arcana Studios is focussing on making Howie one of their flagship products. Michelle O’Reilly (pictured right), co-founder of the company, explained both she and her husband, Sean, wanted to give their production house a bit of rebrand. They want to focus more on kid-friendly content. She said, “Everyone loves H.P. Lovecraft but he’s not very kid-friendly. We made our own version that’s suitable for younger audiences.”

When looking at the two mediums to which this character is developed for, some readers/viewers may well notice a difference in artistic style. “Gary Yuen is our art director and modeler, and I really do love how he went into a much more Tim Burton look especially with Howard. Because there were so many artists on the book series, Howard’s look was never completely locked down,” Sean explained. “One of the greatest things from comic to movie comes from learning what worked and what didn’t work and being able to make those changes.”

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