Current Transmissions

It’s not an off-brand Groot, it’s a ‘Cuddly Plush Alien Tree’

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There are a lot of products offered on Etsy that likely would be frowned upon by most film studios, television networks and publishers — posters, jewelry, clothing, toys, etc., featuring properties protected by trademark and copyright. However, there’s something wonderfully charming about Handmade Stuffs‘ off-brand plushes based on well-known fictional characters.

Sure, the stuffed creations are plenty cute in and of themselves, but the imaginative (and hopefully non-infringing!) names are what really sell them. Take, for instance, “Cuddly Plush Alien Tree” (“This adorable botanical extraterrestrial is ready to guard the galaxy with you!”), or the sold-out “Cuddly Plush Furious Director” (“He may only have one eye, but he’ll always be on the lookout for bad guys!”)

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Eric Canete pulls back curtain on ‘Arkham Asylum’ cover process

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With the debut of DC Comics’ Arkham Manor just a month away, Eric Canete revealed the process for his spectacular alternate cover for the first issue. Although the images by themselves are informative and impressive, the artist’s accompanying commentary makes for an entertaining read.

Announced in late June alongside Gotham Academy, Arkham Manor finds the world’s most dangerous criminals transplanted to stately Wayne Manor after catastrophe strikes Arkham Asylum.

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Batman and Joker are still friends, even in winter

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Harry Bauer, who over the summer mashed up Arnold Lobel’s beloved children’s book characters with the Dark Knight and his arch-nemesis best buddy for Batman and Joker Are Friends, has returned with another video called Batman and Joker Are Friends — Down the Hill.

Based on one of the stories from the 1976 book Frog and Toad All Year, it features Bauer’s drawings and voice work over Lobell’s figures and story as The Joker convinces a melancholy Batman to venture out into the snow to go sledding. The Penguin even makes a cameo as Batman discovers that, yes, winter is fun.

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‘Spinnerette’: a touch of glass

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 8.42.27 PMThe influence behind Sean Lindsay’s Spinnerette should be pretty obvious — after all, the webcomic is about a young superhero with spider-based superpowers. Another dead giveaway is her original costume, which looks like something nicked from Julia Carpenter’s wardrobe. (In story, it’s because she bought some Venom costumes.) Lindsay has a bit of a laugh about that, as he includes a sequence in which Spinnerette receives a cease-and-desist letter from Marvel.

An accident with an experimental laser gives Heather Brown incredible muscle tone, two extra sets of arms and web-shooting abilities. Inconveniently, the latter is anatomically correct and webbing comes right out of her butt. The extra arms are a bit of a problem, too, as they certainly prove problematic to her secret identity. To hide her arms, she must wear a fat suit.

Superhero webcomics have generally been tongue-in-cheek, following less in the footsteps of Jack Kirby and more in the superhero-parody vein of Ben Edlund. Spinnerette is no exception; it’s unapologetically up to its ears in cheesecake. If male gaze is a sticking point for you, then you’ll probably find a lot to complain about. However, it almost becomes a joke in itself. There is, for example, one supervillain whose main characteristic is being ridiculously stacked (and given that this is Spinnerette we’re talking about, that’s saying something).

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Catching up with Roger Langridge at Small Press Expo

Roger Langridge 2 for webWhile at Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland, I had the pleasure to chat briefly with Roger Langridge, creator of Fred the Clown and the Eisner Award-winning Snarked!

I spoke with the former Muppet Show cartoonist about his current projects — a return to BOOM! Studios with The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow and his creator-owned Abigail and the Snowman –  what he likes about SPX, and what awesome comics he found at show. He came up with a doozie!

Brigid Alverson: Why are you here at SPX?

Roger Langridge: SPX is the first American convention I ever came to, in 2000.

What book were you debuting there?

I wasn’t! I was in the country with my wife, and we were visiting New York together, and we thought we would work in a trip to SPX while we were here. We came just to see it and to check it out and see what it was like. I was at that point working on Fred the Clown as a webcomic, and I showed it around to a few people, and it really fired me up to do self-publishing. The next year I was planning to debut Fred the Clown at SPX 2001, and of course that’s the one that was canceled because of 9/11. But that got me self-publishing, which is pretty much why I have a career today, I think.

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Can you smell what the ‘Botched Spot’ is cooking?

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 11.34.03 PMOnce upon a time, during the imaginatively fertile period known as the Monday Night Wars, my sister described pro wrestling to me as superheroes … except in real life! Truly, she knew where my passions lay.

Yet, I was skeptical. What was the appeal of a sport that everyone already knew was (SPOILER ALERT!) totally fake. I decided to take her up on her ostentatious claim and caught an episode of WCW Thunder. While I can’t say she was 100 percent correct, she got me hooked on wrestling for life. There was a lot of elements that did cross over: the colorful costumes, the larger-than-life gimmicks, and the bombastic hero and villain speeches. Comics may have gravitated away from the era in which every speech bubble ended in an exclamation point, but wrestling never grew up.

Historically, the backstage realities (called “shoots”) and the scripted stories (called “kayfabe”) have been kept separate, with the former only made known through sketchy publications nicknamed “dirtsheets.” You’d think that, with the rise of the Internet and the availability of information, wrestling would become a relic of the past. Instead, it remains popular. It may actually be a better fit in this decade, as almost all of reality television now treads the same blurry line between “fact” and fiction. When Lina approaches the Rana King on NBC’s The Quest, for example, is it a shoot or a kayfabe? Even more insidiously, wrestling has found a way to fake viewer participation, aka the kayfabe of the digital age.

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Winners announced for 10th annual Joe Shuster Awards

rat queens1The winners of the 10th annual Joe Shuster Awards were announced Saturday in Toronto. Named in honor of Toronto-born artist Joe Shuster, co-creator Superman, the awards recognize the best of the Canadian comics world.

In addition to the traditional awards, this year’s event included the introduction of the T.M. Maple Award, which honors “someone (living or deceased) selected from the Canadian comics community for achievements made outside of the creative and retail categories who have had a positive impact on the community.” The first recipients were the late Jim Burke, aka T.M. Maple, who wrote more than 3,000 letters to comic book letter columns between 1977 and 1994, and the late Debra Jane Shelly, longtime volunteer at Toronto conventions and comics events.

The winners are listed in bold below. The Beat has photos and audio from the ceremony, held at Back Space Toronto.

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Edmonton politician endorses life-size Wolverine statue

wolverine-marvelA burgeoning campaign to honor Wolverine with a life-size statue in Edmonton, Alberta, has received the endorsement of at least one city official.

“The first reaction is, this is kind of funny,” City Councillor Andrew Knack, who says he’s a fan of the Marvel character, told CTV News. “But then you realize they’re taking this very seriously. I think it’s a great idea, assuming we go about it the right approach, can’t be taxpayer dollars to fund a statue of Wolverine.”

Edmonton residents Jesse Seitz and Christopher Olivier launched the petition last week on Change.org, lobbying Mayor Don Iveson to pay tribute to one of Alberta’s native sons with a statue in City Hall, Churchill Square or the grounds of the Legislative Assembly. Although the character was long ago established as a Canadian, the Origin miniseries pinpointed his birthplace as Alberta.

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Comics A.M. | Sherlock Holmes copyright case appealed to high court

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Legal | The estate of Arthur Conan Doyle has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn a June decision by the Seventh Circuit affirming that the 50 Sherlock Holmes stories published before Jan. 1, 1923, have entered the public domain. The estate had long insisted licensing fees be paid for the characters and story elements to be used in movies, television series and books, but author, editor and Holmes expert Leslie Klinger refused to fork over $5,000 for an anthology of new stories. In a series of legal defeats, the Doyle estate not only lost any claim to the stories but had to endure stinging public reprimands by Judge Richard Posner, who labeled the licensing fees as “a form of extortion” and praised Klinger for performing a “public service” by filing his lawsuit.

In its petition to the high court, the Doyle estate continues to cling to its argument (gleefully dismantled by Posner) that Holmes is a “complex” character that he was effectively incomplete until the author’s final story was published in the United States; therefore, the entire body of work remains protected by copyright. Hoping to draw the interest of the justices, the estate points to a circuit split on the matter of extending copyright. The lawyers also repeat the unsuccessful argument that Klinger’s case shouldn’t have been heard until after his book was published. In June, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kegan refused to issue a stay to prevent the Holmes stories from officially entering the public domain. [TechDirt]

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Salt Lake convention formally responds to ‘Comic Con’ lawsuit

salt-lake2014After first responding with press releases and a webpage, Salt Lake Comic Con organizers have now formally denied claims that their use of the term “Comic Con” infringes upon Comic-Con International’s trademark.

Comic-Con International sued the Utah event last month, insisting organizers were attempting to “confuse and deceive” fans and exhibitors with their use of “Comic Con.” The lawsuit specifically cited a customized Audi sent to San Diego during Comic-Con International to promote the Sept. 4-6 Salt Lake City convention.

In documents filed Monday in federal court in San Diego, Salt Lake producers Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg argue Comic-Con International’s asserted trademarks are invalid, and that “comic-con” and “comic con” are generic terms applied to comic conventions. They point to 10 other conventions that use some variation of the term, and note that SDCC has never taken action against them. The defendants ask for Comic-Con International’s trademarks to be ruled invalid and canceled.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Dustin Weaver on ‘Edge of Spider-Verse’ #3

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Anyone who read my Best of 7 piece from Sunday on Edge of Spider-Verse #2 likely got the impression I’m eager to see more about the Spider-folks from other universes. On Wednesday readers will get a chance to read Dustin Weaver‘s Edge of Spider-Verse #3 starring Dr. Aaron Aikman, Spider-Man.

Weaver chatted with me about the one-shot he wrote, drew and colored for Marvel, and afterward we turned to his ongoing webcomics Sagittarius A* and Amnia Cycle.

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Ancient Mayan-inspired Batman suit is the best Batman suit

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Somewhere, perhaps, there’s a writer who scribbled notes for a never-realized Elseworlds story about a Batman — or Bat-Man, if you prefer — who stood watch more than 1,000 years ago over Caracol or Tikal. If so, he might’ve worn something a lot like this incredible cowl created by Mexican artist Kimbal for Batman a Través de la Creatividad Mexicana, a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Dark Knight held at the Mexican Museum of Design in Mexico City.

Inspired by Camazotz, a bat god of Mayan myth (his name means “death bat”), the piece is painstakingly detailed and beautifully weathered (The Creators Project has several photos detailing Kimbal’s process).

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At the DeConnick-Fraction house, artists draw on the walls

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Brian Michael Bendis shared some terrific photos from a weekend get-together at the Portland, Oregon, home of Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick, where such artists as Matt Wagner, Skottie Young, Tony Moore and Matthew Clarke drew on the hallway wall. DeConnick provides a link to the “completely interactive” wallpaper, whose pattern features frames of different sizes and styles — ideal for one-of-a-kind sketches.

Check out a couple of the images below, and more on Bendis’ blog.

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Quote of the Day | Jimmy Palmiotti on ‘Harley Quinn’s’ success

harley quinn10“What we are learning is that the traditional idea of done-in-one stories not selling in comics just doesn’t apply to the new audience buying the  books, and believe me, most of that new audience are female. I think the problem right now is we have some people running the companies that just aren’t going out and trying new comics or interacting with the next wave of readers and keep pushing things the traditional way they did years ago. The retailers themselves are seeing this happening daily now and I feel it’s the reason Image Comics will continue to grow and eventually outsell the big two, unless they start thinking outside the box and just make superheroes a PART of their publishing plan and not the entire thing and start looking at the different ways a superhero type of book can be done. Harley is one example, Hawkeye is another. The traditional graphics people associate comics with have been changing for years now and the market is embracing different looks and styles that are outside the house style and its pretty cool to see.”

Jimmy Palmiotti, discussing the success of DC Comics’ Harley Quinn, and the series’ significant female audience

Superman’s trunks make a return in J. Bone cartoons

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I don’t know whether it was cartoonist J. Bone’s intent, but I like the suggestion that his “sun-friendly” Superman costume is a send-up of the not-exactly-convincing justification for Starfire’s skimpy costume — namely, that she draws her power from the sun and, therefore, needs to expose as much skin as Earth laws will allow. Heck, these new threads could even work as a response to those who miss those signature red trunks in the New 52 design.

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