Resurrected: "Lady Death" Returns in Two New Series from Avatar

Mon, July 19th, 2004 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Jonah Weiland, Executive Producer/Publisher

Art by Juan Jose Ryp. All colors by Nimbus Studios.
Aside from the incredible journeys Lady Death has taken in her own book, the character has also taken a number of interesting journeys as a comics property. Originally published by Chaos Comics!, when the company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in 2002, the future looked bleak.

Then along came CrossGen Entertainment, who brought the sexy character back to comic stands in February of 2003, although this time around the character was changed, offering up the story of a Medieval Lady Death with more mainstream appeal.

The bumpy road continued for the character when earlier this year CrossGen filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Once again the future looked bleak for the character.

That's all changed in recent weeks as the character has been saved and will be returning later this year in not one, but two new series from Avatar Press. CBR News spoke with Avatar Publisher William Christensen and Lady Death creator Brian Pulido to found out exactly what's happening with the character and when she'll grace comic shop shelves again.

Pulido told CBR News Sunday night that his company Mischief Maker Media, Inc., has purchased the rights to the character from CrossGen Entertainment. While published by CrossGen, Pulido told CBR News he had no rights or ownership of the character he created, but now after a long journey, ownership has returned to him. In addition to publishing Lady Death, Avatar Press also has a stake in the character as well. Licensing rights are held by another of Pulido's companies, Eternal Entertainment, LLC.

"The purchase of Lady Death is something that has been in the works for a while," revealed Avatar's Christensen. "It was completed fairly recently, with the actual purchase made from CrossGen Intellectual Property, LLC."

As Christensen noted, the rights to Lady Death were owned by CrossGen Intellectual Property, LLC., not CrossGen Entertainment, the company which filed for bankruptcy. This allowed for the sale to proceed despite the problems faced by CGE.

"I am pretty sad for Mark Alessi, the CGE staff and creators and their families," Pulido told CBR News Sunday night. "Their last year was catastrophic. I've gone through a similar experience. Very public, open to anyone's scrutiny. As a business owner you don't start out imagining your business will fail. Mark did some great things in comics. Look at ACTOR, the group he founded with Jim McLaughlin. That is a great contribution to the industry."

For Christensen, bringing "Lady Death" to Avatar was a no-brainer.

"I have always admired how well the book has done, and the connection Brian has been able to build with the character's fans," said Christensen. "It is actually a dream come true to get to publish 'Lady Death.' I think it's pretty clear that she fits in perfectly at Avatar.

Art by Matt Martin.
"Brian and I have a great relationship and I'm always happy to get a chance to work with him further. Not too many people are aware of this, but my first comic writing gig was at Chaos! just a couple of years before I started Avatar. It is also very rewarding to help re-unite a major creator with his greatest character."

The return of Lady Death later this year will be marked by not one, but two new, full-color series.

"I had an amazing time writing 'Lady Death: A Medieval Tale' #1-#12, but I didn't have a good time writing Lady Death: The Wild Hunt," admitted Pulido. "We will launch our new monthly 'Medieval Lady Death' picking up after 'Lady Death: A Medieval Tale' #12. We will begin with a new series, 'Medieval Lady Death' #1 and I will be careful to make this a good jumping on point for new readers. To assure this, we've hired Barbara Kesel as editor on the new series. Barbara was also my editor on 'Lady Death: a Medieval Tale.' She knows the characters as well as I do and she is the secret weapon to the success of the series.

"Here's what fans need to know. We won't change the mood and tone of the series. It is still the 'mainstream' Lady Death. This won't turn into a 'boobs and blood' comic. We are very aware of the 'medieval' fan base and what their tastes are, and we won't change this LD one iota. This Lady Death aspires to a heroic ideal and we won't change that. I love writing her adventures and invite fans of 'Sojourn' - a great series - and 'Lady Death: a Medieval Tale' to jump on board.

"Our second Lady Death series will be the 'classic' Heaven & Hell/Bitch Goddess Lady Death. We had to bring her back because fans demanded her back. True to the Chaos! style I established, her adventures will be in a series of limited series.

"In a sense, we are starting over with her. Think of it as 'Ultimate' Lady Death. I was speaking with [Marvel Editor-In-Chief] Joe Quesada last summer and he was surprised that other publishers were not doing their version of the 'Ultimate' line since it sells so well. That wasn't lost on me. I pondered what I would do if I could start this Lady Death all over. We will keep all the critical elements that made her successful, but this is an expanded spin on her. I make no bones about it, this is a tough 'Bad Girl' book and it's about one of the ultimate bad girls. Lady Death is a fierce warrior who isn't above using sensuality as a weapon."

The return of Lady Death will begin in a special preview (called "Lady Death: Dead Rising") of both series in the Diamond Previews Catalog for November shipping. "Medieval Lady Death" #1 will start in January 2005, with "Classic Lady Death" to follow shortly after that. For readers looking for the original "Lady Death: A Medieval Tale" published by CrossGen, the series will be collected by Avatar in the early spring of 2005.

The plan to publish two series starring the character was made in an effort to please fans of both the original incarnation of the character as well as the medieval version, according to Christensen. Of course it's not unusual for a single character to be featured in multiple books as is the case with "Batman," Spider-Man" and others.

Getting to story specifics, Pulido was happy to detail his plans for both series. We begin with "Medieval Lady Death."

"Remember, this Lady Death was conceived between a human woman and one of the outer-worldly Eldritch," said Puldio. "She has the blood of both clans, but belongs to neither. She fights for humanity, but they fear her because she looks Eldritch and possesses their powers.

"She is coming off a great battle where her father Tvarus betrayed her and attempted to murder her mentor, Wolf. Lady Death needs time for Wolf to heal, but the forces of the Eldritch and the holy Knights are pursuing her. Cornered, she has no choice but to fight back in a way we haven't seen before. Wolf has trained Lady Death in the art of combat, but she has little training in her mystical abilities. Those will begin to unravel on her. The series will also involve the sly masters of trade and commerce, The Greelum.

Art by Juan Jose Ryp.
"This is a good jumping on point for new readers because it shows the dynamics of Lady Death and her enemies," continued Pulido. "For existing readers it will have a few fun twists because an old enemy of Lady Death will return in an unexpected way.

"The interior penciler for the series is Di Amorim. He will handle the first story arc and alternating arcs. He is currently finishing up the first 'UnHoly' series as well.

"For the 'Classic' Lady Death, we will retell her origin story. We call her classic right now because we are stumped on how else to describe her. But since she was the first version of the character, classic seems as appropriate as anything for now.

"Readers will learn how a girl named Hope transformed into the female personification of death. The penciler and inker for the series will be my friend Romano Molenaar, who is a big favorite with long time Chaos! readers. His work is just simply amazing."

In a recent CBR News interview with Puldio in which he announced he'd created four new original horror comics to be published by Avatar, he stated that no one else would be writing these characters. While at Chaos!, "Lady Death" was often written by outside writers bringing their take to the character, but Pulido decided that only he would write the characters. "I learned that the fans want the guy who started the character out or not at all," Pulido told CBR News. This will remain true with the two Lady Death series at Avatar, with one possible exception.

"There is one Lady Death story not written by me that I would like to resurrect," said Pulido. "That is the 'Lady Death/The Crow' crossover written by Dan Jolley. It is a truly magnificent story. It is probably complicated to do, so we will see. Who knows?"

"I'm really of the opinion that only Brian should be writing Lady Death and his other works ('Belladonna,' 'UnHoly,' 'Gypsy')," said Christensen. "He has a unique style that fans really connect with and I think that connection gets lost when other writers take over the books. I am not planning on anyone else writing his books now or in the future."

With the business end of things handled by Avatar now, more time is available to Pulido to concentrate on his writing.

"I'll simply keep going, writing up a storm," said Pulido. "Now that I don't have the managerial duties of owning a business, I can fly through stories. I'm good for three or four a month."

Christensen noted, "Yeah, I'm taking all the heavy lifting of publishing off Brian's back so he can simply be a creative force. The plan is for three or four Pulido-written books to be solicited each month from Avatar."

"What's cool is that readers will see all these books interact and connect, over time," added Pulido.

Production on the "Lady Death" animated feature from ADV Films continued despite the publishing troubles, with the DVD planned for release this October.

"The 'Lady Death' animated feature will be world premiering at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Friday July 23rd at 9PM in room 5 AB. ADV films will be marketing and promoting it very heavily. I will be signing free movie posters at the ADV booth Thursday-Saturday from 1:00PM to 2:00PM. Also a live Lady Death will be at the booth to give fan free tickets to the movie.

"We are working on a number of promos with ADV in connection with the movie. The movie will also be showing four times at Wizard World Chicago. I will be at a few of the screenings to give out free promo items and to sign them."

The duo of Pulido and Christensen have a number of long term plans for Lady Death and both know a lot of hard, careful work will be required to return to the character back to comic shops with regularity.

"We have our work cut out for ourselves," admitted Pulido. "Lady Death has the potential to be one of the most powerhouse independent properties out there, but it will take a lot of hard work from both Avatar and Eternal to put her back on the map."

Christensen added, "We do have some ambitious plans, but we will proceed with caution so that we can grow the property again with retailer and fan support. Long term, we hope to get a line of licensed goods out there again as well as produce the best books we can."

 
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