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Grumpy Old Fan | ‘Grayson,’ Robin and fates worse than death

Through the years

Through the years

This has turned out to be an eventful week for fans of the first Robin (and of the role in general), thanks to a Robin Rises one-shot, leading into the unveiling of … well, whoever’s going to wear the red vest for the foreseeable future, and Dick Grayson’s latest relaunch, a July-debuting ongoing series called simply Grayson, wherein the former Boy Wonder will start a new life as a super-spy.

With each of ‘em about three months away, obviously I’m not equipped to pass judgment on the merits of either. However, I can tell you what I think about Dick and Robin, how those impressions affect my snap judgments, and why you should — and shouldn’t — listen to someone like me.

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Image unveils Silvestri & McFarlane’s ‘Manifest Destiny’ variant

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Three weeks after Marc Silvestri and Todd McFarlane pulled back the curtain on their collaboration process for a Skybound cover, Image Comics has unveiled the final product: a variant for Manifest Destiny #7. It’s colored by series colorist Owen Gieni.

The issue kicks off a new arc in the series by Chris Dingess and Matthew Roberts, which tells the hidden story of the Lewis & Clark expedition (one filled with monsters).

Manifest Destiny #7, which arrives June 11, can be ordered now with Diamond Code APR140575; the Silvestri/McFarlane variant is MAR148175.

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Buccellato and Tuazon bring ‘Foster’ to OSSM Comics

foster1Foster, the supernatural thriller created by The Flash and Detective Comics co-writer Brian Buccellato, will be released for the first time in its entirety in July by publishing startup OSSM Comics.

Written by Buccellato and illustrated by Noel Tuazon (Tumor), the series debuted in February 2012 from Dog Year Entertainment. However, just five of the planned six issues were released.

Set in a world where technology is stuck in the analog 1970s, Foster centers on a haunted war veteran who becomes the guardian of a 6-year-old boy wanted by a shadowy race of supernatural creatures.

Foster is such a personal story for me,” Buccellato said in a statement. “As a father of a teenage boy, I wanted to write about fatherhood and specifically the male need to protect your child from the physical dangers of the world. Foster’s trying to forget the Vietnam War at the bottom of a bottle when he encounters a boy who changes his life. Suddenly he has to navigate a world where technology is stuck in the analog ’70s and supernatural creatures and twisted scientists lurk around every corner. Noel Tuazon really captured the gritty, urban horror at the heart of this story.”

Foster will be available for $12.99 beginning July 2.

Bad girls, good comic: Katie Skelly’s ‘Operation Margarine’

AD.OPERATIONMARGARINE.cvrfile_Layout 1Katie Skelly‘s previous comic book Nurse Nurse was a science fiction epic, set in the far-flung future, involving space travel and space pirates, and featuring some kicky fashions. It earned and deserved its comparisons to Barbarella, even if what the two shared was more a spirit and tone than anything else.

Her latest book, Operation Margarine, is also something of a genre work, although the genre is quite literally a more down-to-earth one. Something between a cautionary, youth-gone-wild flick and an exploitative biker picture, it suggests the sort of movies that Roger Corman used to produce for the drive-in, that Mystery Science Theater 3000 would mock and that Quentin Tarantino might enthusiastically praise and make some allusion to in one of his own films.

But, like Nurse Nurse, it’s all unmistakably Katie Skelly. The characters are quiet, mysterious and only barely sketched out symbol-people. The events flow like dominoes, with no grand plan or theme or message apparent. The thrills are visceral, surface thrills, the action and actions all communicated in a straightforward manner that gives every panel an equal amount of import.

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Houston bar aims for different crowd with comics, video games

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With a name that gives a nod to a 19th-century physicist and a sign that features an olive within an atom, it’s a safe bet that Houston’s new Neil’s Bahr isn’t your run-of-the-mill drinking establishment.

Instead, Eater reports, it’s a bar where patrons can browse the comic book library, read sci-fi novels in the comfy lounge or play Super Nintendo and vintage arcade games.

“I’ve always wanted a geeky bar where people can watch The Simpsons or Star Wars on TV, a very hole-in-the-wall place,” owner Neil Fernandez told the website. He also has Industry Night Tuesday, which caters to bar and restaurant employees, and soon plans to launch trivia and cabaret/karaoke nights. Fernandez is even considering going “full-blown nerd” with Magic: The Gathering.

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New manga introduces Japanese kids to the Avengers

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Despite a 50-year history, a record-breaking movie and several video games and animated television series, there apparently still are some in Japan who don’t know who the Avengers are. A little surprising, maybe, but that’s what Earth’s Mightiest Heroes discover when they travel to that country in the latest issue of CoroCoro Comic.

Kotaku spotlights the 12-page story from Shogakukan’s monthly manga magazine for elementary school-age boys, which finds Captain America, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Spider-Man and the Wasp facing several obstacles on unfamiliar shores: Thor can’t get his armor and hammer through customs, the Hulk can’t stomach Japanese food and, worse still, no one is familiar with them.

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Bechdel & Co. are bringing ‘Fun Home’ musical to South Carolina

Fun Home Public Theater/Newman Theater

In the wake of the uproar in South Carolina over her graphic memoir Fun Home, cartoonist Alison Bechdel has joined with the producers and cast of the musical adaptation to bring the acclaimed off-Broadway show to the College of Charleston.

The Post and Courier reports tickets went on sale Tuesday for two concert-version performances to be held April 21 at Memminger Auditorium; about 750 were sold within the first 24 hours. The show, which premiered in September, was announced this week as finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

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Comics A.M. | ‘Attack on Titan’ Vol. 13 sells 1.4M copies in first week

Attack on Titan, Vol. 13

Attack on Titan, Vol. 13

Manga | The 13th volume of Hajime Isayama’s hit dystopian fantasy Attack on Titan sold 1.4 million copies in Japan during its first week of release: 1.13 million copies of the regular edition, and 270,000 of a special edition that includes the original video animation. Kodansha ordered a 2.75 million-copy initial print run, a record not only for the series but for the publisher as well. The 66th volume of One Piece holds the record in Japan for highest sales in the first week with nearly 2.3 million copies. [Crunchyroll]

Publishing | Darren Davis of Bluewater Productions, talks about the evolution of his company and the origin story of its Female Force bio-comics line: “[W]e saw a comic book done of Barack Obama and John McCain during the 2008 elections, and my partner joked and said, ‘Why don’t we do Hillary?’ And I thought, oh my God, that’s a brilliant idea.So I thought, let’s do this, but let’s do it differently. Let’s not do it like everyone else, with a boring biography. We did it with a female empowerment angle. We released Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin at the same time, and whether you like Sarah Palin or hate Hillary Clinton, you have to respect both of them for where they came from and who they are.” [The Beaverton Leader]

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Eyeing the Eisners: a look at the 2014 nominees

The Oatmeal

The Oatmeal by Matthew Inman

One of my favorite times of the year is here: the announcement of the nominees for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. I love poring over each category to look for surprises, seeing books I never heard of or never got a chance to read. I guess when you get right down to it, I love getting to celebrate awesome comics.

It seems that with each year, the Eisners get better at reflecting the comics art form and industry at that moment. The judges not only hit the fan favorites and critical darlings, but also unexpected choices and hidden gems that truly benefit from this kind of recognition. It’s where quality instead of sales rule, as it should be for an award recognizing the very best of the industry.

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‘Frozen’s’ ending just needed a few more mutants

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With a $1.1 billion global box office and a certified-platinum soundtrack, Disney‘s Frozen is more that a blockbuster — it’s a pop-culture phenomenon. However, the folks at How It Should Have Ended found the animated film lacked a certain … something. Namely, an appearance by X-Men.

After all, where better than Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters for Elsa to learn more about her powers — and, of course, organize the joint faculty-student chorus?

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Sundance’s ‘The Writers’ Room’ to trace path from comics to TV

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Jim Rash, Robert Kirkman and Blair Butler on “The Writer’s Room.”

Comic books have become prime source material for movies, television series and video games, and while the adaptations may vary in terms of scale and medium, one of the keys to their success remains the same: staying true to the core elements that made the comics work in the first place. And in TV, it’s up to the writers — either the original authors or faithful adapters — to help keep it on course.

On April 25, SundanceTV’s The Writers’ Room will explore the well-tread road between comic books and television. Host Jim Rash (screenwriter of The Descendants), the show will put The Walking Dead writer Robert Kirkman and Smallville creators Al Gough and Miles Millar in the hot seat to discuss successfully adapting comics for television. They’ll be joined by industry commentators Blair Butler (formerly of G4TV) and Michael Schneider (TV Guide Magazine).

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French comics sensation Bengal takes aim at U.S. with ‘Naja’

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French artist Bengal is one of those artists whom others go out of their way to find his work. While one of his few U.S. credits is a story in the first Flight anthology from 2004, overseas he’s an established name. Revered for Meka, Luminae and contributions to French anthologies, his work has been available to American audiences by import only — or  by viewing online. But in June, an upstart publisher is bringing Bengal’s work to the United States.

Magnetic Press will release Naja, a 248-page collection of the 2008 series by Bengal and writer JD Morvan, originally published in Europe by Dargaud. Naja follows an assassin immune to pain and emotion who finds herself looking for more when her bosses mark her as their next target.

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Image celebrates Eisner nominations with digital sale

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This year’s Eisner Awards nominations were dominated by two publishers, Fantagraphics and Image Comics, with the former earning 18 and the latter 17 (plus three shared). To celebrate the occasion, Image is holding a 50 percent-off sale on digital editions of all 10 nominated titles, for a limited time. That means you’re getting single issues for just 99 cents each.

Whether you’ve fallen behind on some of the series or want to see what all the hubbub is about, now is pretty good time to check out East of West, Lazarus, The Manhattan Projects, Nowhere Men, Outlaw Territory, Pretty Deadly, Rat Queens, Saga, Sex Criminals and Zero.

The sale, which extends across the Image Comics storefront, comiXology, Google Play, Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks, ends April 21 at midnight ET.

‘Marvel Universe Live!’ arena show gets a comic prequel

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Marvel Universe Live!, the upcoming multimillion-dollar arena tour show from Marvel and Feld Entertainment, is getting its own comic-book prequel. You have to buy tickets for the production to snag one, though.

The limited-edition one-shot, by Frank Tieri, Miguel Sepulveda and Jay David Ramos, with a cover by Mike McKone, is available for free to those in the continental United States who order tickets to the show between today and June 1.

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‘Justice League United’ #1 scores a ‘Canada’ variant

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DC Comics’ upcoming relaunch of Justice League of America was announced in August as Justice League Canada before it was changed in January to Justice League United. But with the arrival next month of Issue 1, the name will revert once more to Justice League Canada — if only on one cover.

Confused? Don’t be. As the Toronto Star reported over the weekend, the publisher will release a Canadian variant for the debut issue, featuring a recolored version of Mike McKone’s cover emblazoned with “Justice League Canada” (complete with maple leaf emblem). It will be available to all retailers.

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