Just released this week, it’s Battle Beasts #3 from IDW Publishing! The epic invasion of Earth by the Beasts has turned San Francisco into a war zone, and the army has been called in to deal with the situation. Meanwhile, Vorin the ram, Merk the falcon and Gruntos the walrus take their human charges underground, and we catch a glimpse of how their band of brothers was formed. The last chapter before the whisker-rattling finale!
Written by Bobby Curnow, this issue features a phenomenal cover by interior artist Valerio Schiti, pitting Vorin against Merk. But one in every 10 covers is an illustration of Gruntos by Jeff Zornow, and it combines with the limited covers for issues 2 and 4 to create a three-part image of our heroes!
Check out a five-page preview below!
One month ago, the world was introduced to the world of the Battle Beasts, ferocious animal warriors from space who have descended on Earth for reasons unknown. Well, Issue 2 of the IDW Publishing mini-series arrives in comic shops this week, and we begin to learn the answers to some of our questions, as well as meet some bloodthirsty new Beasts! The issue has a main cover (above) featuring the three main characters by the series’ regular interior artist, Valerio Schiti (TMNT, Journey Into Mystery), but one in ten covers is a rendering of Vorin by Jeff Zornow (Jurassic Park, Godzilla). Connect it with the chase covers of Gruntos and Merk on issues 3 and 4 to form the awesome triptych seen above!
At Comic-Con International 2012 in San Diego, Diamond Select Toys launched their latest original property, Battle Beasts, with new products in the realms of toys, comics, animation and even music! In collaboration with IDW, Peavey and Coffin Case, each release of the weekend showcased a different aspect of the Battle Beasts brand that will make it a property to watch out for in the coming months.
The first Battle Beasts toys, utilizing Diamond Select’s popular Minimates mini-figure body, went on sale at Comic-Con, in the form of a two-pack featuring protagonist Vorin and a show-exclusive character, Zik. Additionally, 200 clear blue figures of Vorin were given out to attendees each day of the show, continuing DST’s long tradition of giving out promotional Minimates at every Comic-Con. The first full series of Battle Beasts, due out in December, was also on display at the DST booth. (New pics coming soon!)
Wednesday’s Preview Night also saw the debut of the first issue of IDW’s Battle Beasts mini-series, based on concepts and designs by Diamond Select. A variant cover depicting the San Diego Convention Center was exclusively available at the show, and writer Bobby Curnow and cover artist Ulises Farinas participated in a signing at the DST booth, where they gave out free posters and ashcan comics.
A drawing was also held at the DST booth for a custom Battle Beasts HP Special CG guitar by Peavey, as well as a matching airbrushed guitar case by Coffin Case. Both the guitar and the case featured artwork from Dan Brereton’s cover to Battle Beasts #1, and both were on display at the booth for the duration of the show.
The Battle Beasts launch got underway Thursday night at the Versus World event at San Diego’s famous Haunted Hotel. Co-hosted by Diamond Select Toys, Heavy Metal magazine, Coffin Case and Dig Deep Entertainment, the event also featured the debut of the first Battle Beasts motion comic, using the artwork of series artist Valerio Schiti and animated by Santino Ramos. Check it out!
The first issue of Battle Beasts is out now from IDW Publishing, and the positive reviews are rolling in! The book introduces us to the characters who will make up the toy line from Diamond Select Toys, and lays the groundwork for the entire Battle Beasts universe to come with a mix of action, comedy and amazing artwork. To get a feel for what goes into the book, and what we can expect in the future, we talked to series writer Bobby Curnow and series artist Valerio Schiti about
Who are the Battle Beasts?
BOBBY CURNOW (writer): The Battle Beasts are an ancient race of creatures who value combat above all other things in life. That’s all I’ll say about them for now — delving into their history and society is something that’s going to be fun to explore in the series. Our story focuses on three hero Beasts. Vorin, the Ram, Merk, the Falcon, and Gruntos the Walrus. They reject the Beast way of life and are searching for a way to stop the endless conflict, all for their own individual reasons.
How has your collaboration been going with Diamond Select? What is the process?
CURNOW: Honestly, it’s been great. [Director] Chuck Terceira and everyone else at Diamond are so enthusiastic about the project, and there’s just a ton of energy around it. When we started putting together the story, Diamond Select had some ideas about the Beasts coming to Earth, and thoughts about the human characters. This was really great, because when I started thinking about the project I was really preoccupied with the Beasts… they were all I was thinking of! But the Earth setting, and our human characters, are so crucial to this story, so I’m really happy they wanted that direction. The end result is a great meld, which I find can be rare. Once we had the basic concept down, I work up a draft of a script, take some minor but very helpful notes from Diamond, then it’s off to Valerio, who makes the story ten times better!
Valerio, how has your collaboration been with Bobby and DST? What is that process like?
VALERIO SCHITI (artist): First of all, I have to say that I’m very excited for the chance to work on such a thrilling project. I already worked with Bobby on “TMNT” and “Infestation 2”, so I know how professional he is, and I also know the toys and the products of Diamond Select, so I’m glad and proud to have a part in this project, too.
As an artist I always try to translate and sometimes improve with pictures the writer’s imagination. So, once I read Bobby’s script, I started doing the layouts for the whole book. In this way Bobby and Diamond can evaluate which is the main idea and the rough bases of the final panels and then, when I have their approval, I start inking.
It’s very important to say a few words about the amazing work of Scarletgothica with the colors. We organize our work so while I’m working on inks she usually starts to coloring the first pages. We try to work as a team, she always involves me in her process, asking me the mood of the story, the atmosphere, sometimes even about the weather and what time is in the sequence! She’s very talented and I have to share with her the merit for the final result of the pages.
Has it been a challenge to essentially build this new world from the ground up?
SCHITI: Absolutely not! Of course it’s hard, but it’s a comic artist’s dream to do something like this, all of my colleagues are very envious. Diamond was very clear about what they were looking for with their creatures, they also sent me some sketches to show me what they wanted and Bobby let me be free about the design of the creatures. He also asked me opinions during the preliminary phase. What we have is a huge population of beasts, all threatening and all different and peculiar! All I had to do was to start sketching beasts as much as I can. Believe me: this is the funniest part of the work!
CURNOW: It’s certainly taken time and effort, but I don’t know that it’s a challenge. This is a dream gig. There’s a big life-or-death struggle, interesting characters and a potentially limitless supporting cast of Beasts. All of that is just plain fun to explore.
How far out have you planned the story of the Battle Beasts? Do you have ideas reaching beyond the mini-series?
CURNOW: Definitely. I’ve got a good grasp on what would be the first twelve issues, with some good ideas of where to go beyond that. Beasts on Earth is such a rich concept to explore, with lots of potential twists and turns. Add in the great off-world Beast backstory, and there’s loads of stories to dig into.
The tone of the book walks a line between drama and humor. Is that a difficult balance to maintain, given the subject matter?
CURNOW: I think that balance between drama and humor has developed naturally. Given all the battlin’ beasts, it’s easy to default into grim and gritty. We definitely have some serious, heavy things going on, but both Valerio and I didn’t want to make this book a drag to read. It should be fun, and incorporate some classic adventure elements. We’ve got a couple serious characters, and a couple characters that are naturally a little bit more light-hearted and optimistic. Those characters provide a nice, natural mix of tones.
Who has been your favorite character to write so far?
CURNOW: There’s something I really like about all the characters, I could talk about all of them at length!
Developing Vorin’s backstory has been really interesting, he’s got a lot of layers. His dynamic with Merk is going to go in some interesting places, there’s going to be some neat twists and turns within the hero Beasts dynamic.
Bliss, the main human protagonist, has been the biggest surprise. She’s really different from other characters I’ve written before, but she’s sort of emerged fully formed. I don’t have to think too much about what she would do, but I still find myself surprised by some of the things she says and does, which I think is a very good sign. The characters you don’t have to force are always the best.
On the other hand, I knew from the start that Gruntos was going to be fun to write, he’s just so jovial and takes life as it comes. So no surprise there.
There’s also a character that we only see for one panel in issue #2 that I can’t stop thinking about, too! I’m grinning while writing this whole response, thinking about these characters. They’re all just a ton of fun. To me, at least! Hopefully the reader will agree!
Valerio, who has been your favorite character to draw so far?
SCHITI: This is the hardest question: I created this crew with Bobby so I love them all but probably, if I have to chose, I think that my favorite one is Vorin the ram. I like his fighting poses, his armor and his mixture of leadership, courage and kindness. In my imagination the three beasts are like the Three Musketeers and Vorin is like the noble Athos, my favorite one!
For different reasons I’m in love with the Reynolds siblings, the human protagonists. Bliss and Tate are two great characters with a special relationship, they’re perfectly balanced and I have to thank Bobby for this. I love to make them play and I really hope the readers will like them as much as I do.
Why do you think Battle Beasts is a good fit for IDW?
CURNOW: IDW does many things extremely well. We make high-end collections, and some of the very best creator-owned original books. But probably a majority of our efforts go into licensed properties. We’ve got a ton of experience working with licensors, figuring out how to make the very most out of their properties. We love finding the stories that best expand the potential of a concept. IDW always tries to find the living, breathing heart of a story, and do something new with it, while honoring what makes it great and attracts its fans. In short we’re good at respecting what makes something cool, while thinking about how to push it into new and fun directions.
Battle Beasts has absolutely all of the ingredients to make a great comic. Big conflict, interesting characters, and a story that could go anywhere. That ‘surprise’ factor is built in. Then you add in TONS of cool creatures and designs and give it to an artist as talented as Valerio? That’s a recipe for good comics, and that’s why Battle Beasts is a natural fit at IDW.
What do you personally bring to the Battle Beasts table?
CURNOW: Ha, you are going to make sure I come off as an egomaniac, aren’t you? I think, more than anything else, I can see the potential of this story. It’s a big story, spanning the globe, involving two different races with the fate of the Earth hanging in the balance. That’s the big picture. But at the heart of it are our main characters, each one unique. They are where the real story is. We’re going to have tragedy, humor, and tons of action. I like to think I can keep that balance while still respecting the characters that are moving the adventure forward.
So I’ll be throwing out some fun ideas, but really it’s Valerio who’s going to be spinning into gold!
SCHITI: I like to introduce small details, something useful to improve what Bobby and Diamond want from me. I’m talking about silly things like a stupid chubby character in the background, an old woman running away with a dog, a man talking at the phone while the city is crumbling, a realistic outfit for the characters. These may seem just small details but real people in a real city act in this way, and what is really important to me is to make it all believable: in my humble opinion the plausibility is the key in a comic book with a fantasy theme and fictional characters!
After working on TMNT and now this, are you more comfortable drawing animals than humans?
SCHITI: I have to be honest: the anatomy is pretty much easier for the animals. The animal-like characters can do poses that a human can’t usually do and as an artist, I can exaggerate movements and muscles to enhance the dynamism. Of course there are pros and cons: For instance it’s very difficult to draw the beasts facial expressions without making them ridiculous… but in the end, it’s a hoot!
To find your nearest comic book shop, visit comicshoplocator.com!
Since 2010, Diamond Select Toys has been searching to find the right partner to introduce their Battle Beasts brand to a broader audience. Now the search is over, and DST and IDW Publishing have teamed up to immortalize a new breed of Beasts! At this year’s Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2), which runs from April 13-15, the two companies will offer a taste of what’s to come: DST will give out an ashcan preview of IDW’s upcoming BATTLE BEASTS comic-book mini-series, as well as an exclusive promo Minimate of one of the book’s lead characters!
“We are thrilled to have found a partner in IDW, a company that understands toy fans just as well as they understand comic book fans,” said director of Diamond Select Toys Chuck Terceira. “Their experience with licensed comic books — and with the dedicated fan bases they write for on a monthly basis — is proof that the Battle Beasts brand is in the right hands, and we look forward to working with them for this mini-series, and, hopefully, beyond!”
The mini-series is written by Bobby Curnow (Godzilla Legends, Night of 1000 Wolves) and penciled by Valerio Schiti (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Donatello, Dungeons & Dragons: Eberron). It focuses on a group of renegade Beasts who return to Earth to protect the ultimate weapon (and the human who activated it) from an armada of their violent brethren. The ashcan will reprint the first eight pages of issue #1 in full color, and fans will be able to get a free translucent Minimate of the ram Vorin while supplies last. Both will be given away during C2E2 by DST at booth #311.
“BATTLE BEASTS is a great fit for IDW”, said writer Bobby Curnow. “What’s so important about toys is they enable kids to build worlds in their imaginations, and create stories for those worlds. Since I never really grew up, getting the chance to help create the new Battle Beasts in comic form has been a fantastic and supremely fun experience. The world has been turned upside down with the arrival of the Battle Beasts, and we’re going to have a great time showing just how crazy things get. IDW has a lot of experience finding riveting stories in toy-based licenses, and I hope BATTLE BEASTS is no exception. I know for a fact that Valerio is knocking it out of the park. His art is going to floor a lot of people.”
And the excitement does not stop there — at San Diego Comic-Con (July 11-15), IDW will launch the BATTLE BEASTS mini-series with issue #1, and DST will unveil the first full wave of Battle Beasts Minimates, which will be in stores in late fall of 2012! The first wave of two-packs will focus heavily on characters who appear in the comic, and will have a gameplay element, as well. DST will also have an exclusive two-pack of Battle Beasts for sale at the show.
Minimates are 2-inch minifigures created by Art Asylum in 2002. This year marks the brand’s 10th anniversary, and in that time Diamond Select Toys and Art Asylum have released over 1,000 Minimates for nearly 50 separate licenses. Highly detailed and highly poseable, each Minimate features 14 points of articulation and comes with plenty of interchangeable parts and accessories.
BATTLE BEASTS #1 ($3.99, 32 pages, full color) will be available in stores in July 2012.