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‘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

justice league united-variantDC 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 leap emblem). It will be available to all retailers.

The new series, which sees the Justice League transplanted to Canada amid the fallout from Trinity War and “Forever Evil,” boasts a roster that includes Green Arrow, Animal Man, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Supergirl, Stargirl, the now-Canadian Adam Strange and the new Cree teenage superheroine Equinox.

Written by Jeff Lemire and penciled by McKone, Justice League United #1 also introduces the New 52 version of the Unimaginable, a mysterious, and seemingly unstoppable, energy life form that debuted in 1966′s Justice League of America #42.

Justice League United #1 goes on sale May 14, just three weeks after the zero issue.

Comics A.M. | Rare copy of ‘The Beano’ #1 goes up for auction

The Beano #1

The Beano #1

Auctions | A rare copy of The Beano #1 from July 1938 — only about 25 copies are believed to exist — is being auctioned on eBay by Seaford, England, dealer Phil Shrimpton. With just four days remaining, the opening bid of £3,499 (about $5,875 U.S.) has yet to be met. As you can see on the website, the copy certainly isn’t in the best shape. The issue, which sold a reported 442,963 copies when it was released, introduced such characters as original cover star Big Eggo the ostrich, Lord Snooty, Wee Peem and Ping the Elastic Man (the racist caricature in the magazine’s logo is Little Peanut, who stuck around on the cover until 1947, when he was replaced by Big Eggo). “Every year or so another one seems to emerge – often found in someone’s attic,” Shrimpton says. “People didn’t really look at comics as collector’s items until the sixties and seventies, so lots of them got destroyed. Also a lot of the comics were destroyed during the war as people were more conscious about recycling the old issues.” [The Argus]

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Lil’ Logan is the most annoying pre-schooler in adorable fan art

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Inspired by Skottie Young’s popular baby variant covers, artist Luigi Monaldi created the adorable “Indestructibles” — featuring pint-sized versions of the Invisible Woman, Incredible Hulk and Wolverine — for a “baby comics” contest on treddi.com. The details are pretty amazing (click on the image below to super-size it), from the Reed Richards doll in Lil’ Sue’s hand to the splintering floor beneath Hulk’s fist to the claw marks on the chalkboard.

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Jock is selling Batman screen prints, but only for a limited time

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Attention fans of Jock and Batman: On Wednesday the artist will debut a gorgeous screen print based on one of his splash pages from Batman: The Black Mirror, available for purchase from his website for just 48 hours.

The 24-inch by 36-inch screen print comes in two versions: black and white ($50), and purple ($65). The same panel was the basis for a statue in DC Collectibles’ Batman Black and White series.

Follow Jock on Twitter to find out when on Wednesday the prints go on sale.

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Quote of the Day | Comics industry’s ‘frozen adolescence’

“No idea has proven more damaging to the comics industry than the myth that its professionals — not just creators, but retailers, even distributors — work for love and not money. It’s a philosophy that has justified exploitation of creators and theft of intellectual property. It’s allowed the entire industry to pass the buck for its failures — from publishers to retailers, and retailers to — for decades. And it’s why the comics industry lingers in a frozen adolescence, clinging to a shrinking target audience like a sea captain railing at the storm — when the real problem is the rotting wood of his own hull.”

Rachel Edidin, former Dark Horse editor turned freelance writer and editor, addressing reactions to Amazon’s announced purchase of comiXology for Wired.com

Blue Beetle flies into battle in ‘Infinite Crisis’

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WB Games has added yet another champion to the roster of Infinite Crisis, Turbine’s free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena game: Jaime Reyes, the Blue Beetle.

Beginning April 30, Beta testers will be able to play as the fan-favorite character, who in the game world wandered into a dispute between warring superhuman gang and stumbled upon the object they were fighting over: a blue scarab. It, of course, bonded to Jaime, covering his body with battle armor, allowing him to flee to safety. After his escape he learned that while the armor wasn’t permanent, his bond with the scarab is. Check out the Blue Beetle trailer and screenshots below.

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Jeffy gets existential in ‘Family Circus’/'True Detective’ mashup

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For two months this winter many of us were swept up in HBO’s True Detective and the serpentine search by detectives Rust Cohle and Marty Hart not only for a serial killer but also for the meaning of life and the nature of good and evil. And while not everyone was satisfied with the ending, most of us remain enthralled with the writing of Nic Pizzolatto and the existential nihilism of Matthew McConaughey’s character.

And now we can experience both again, in a decidedly different form, with Time Is A Flat Circus, which combines dialogue from the crime drama with panels from the long-running comic The Family Circus. It’s as terrific as you imagine.

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Viz Media to roll out ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ movie tie-ins

AYNIK-GraphicNovel-CoverWith Tom Cruise poised to battle aliens (again and again and again) in Edge of Tomorrow, Viz Media has announced the May 5 release of the graphic novel adaptation of the book that inspired the sci-fi action film.

Written by Hiroshi Sakurazaka and illustrated by alt-manga artist Yoshitoshi ABe, All You Need Is Kill is a 2004 light novel about a new recruit to the United Defense Force who’s killed in his first fight against Earth’s mysterious invaders — only to find himself caught in a time loop: He wakes up the day before that fateful battle, only to die and be resurrected time and again.

Adapted by sci-fi author Nick Mamatas and comic artist Lee Ferguson (Green Arrow, Miranda Mercury), the graphic novel will be available in print for $14.99 or digitally across multiple platforms for $8.99.

On April 29, Viz will also release a new movie tie-in edition of Sakurazaka’s light novel, which in 2009 launched the publisher’s Haikasoru imprint, with a new title (Edge of Tomorrow) and a covering bearing the poster of stars Cruise and Emily Blunt. It’s priced at $7.99.

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Comics A.M. | What Amazon-comiXology deal means (and what it doesn’t)

Amazon buys comiXology

Amazon buys comiXology

Digital comics | In today’s Amazon-acquires-comiXology article, Rachel Edidin deflates much of the hype, and the panic, surrounding the deal, pointing out that comics distribution is already a monopoly, large corporations already run the comics market, and comics have been available on Kindle all along: “Is the concern [...] a distribution monopoly? If so, the direct market is in no position to criticize: over the last 15 years, Diamond Comics Distributors has consumed almost all independent print distribution in comics, and dictates practices and policy to retailers and publishers alike. The idea that print comics are somehow more independent than their digital cousins — or a scrappy underdog fighting the good fight against evil corporate profiteers — is frankly ridiculous.” [Wired]

Awards | Michael Cavna talks with Kevin Siers of the Charlotte Observer about winning the Pulitzer Prize in cartooning. [Comic Riffs]

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DC teases ‘Futures End’ with new Escher-inspired image

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Timed to coincide with the lunar eclipse, DC Comics last night released a teaser image for its new weekly series that promises, “When Futures End … the Blood Moon Shall Rise!”

Launching with a zero issue on May 3 as part of Free Comic Book Day, Futures End propels the New 52 storylines ahead five years for an exploration of the nature of heroism as well the past, present and, yes, future of the DC Universe. The series is written by Brian Azzarello, Keith Giffen, Dan Jurgens and Jeff Lemire, with a roster of artists that includes Ryan Sook, Ethan Van Sciver, Jesus Merino, Aaron Lopresti, Jurgens and Giffen.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Dale Eaglesham on ‘Sinestro’

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It doesn’t matter how many years I’ve read comics, on the eve for the launch of a new series that piques my interest, I always get pumped with excitement. Such is the case this week, given that writer Cullen Bunn and artist Dale Eaglesham‘s Sinestro #1 hits shelves on Wednesday.

The series marks a departure in style for Eaglesham as he pursues a darker, horror tone, an approach he discusses in this interview. He also discusses discusses the opportunity to digitally ink his art, being colored by Jason Wright, collaborating with Bunn, and looking forward for the chance to indulge in Kirby dots (aka Kirby Krackle).

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The webcomics documentary that’s actually about the funny pages

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The mission statement for Stripped!, a documentary by Dave Kellett (Sheldon) and Frederick Schroeder, is about forging a common history between webcomics and newspaper funnies. Not comic books, interestingly. I suppose that makes sense, as the most popular webcomics (xkcd, The Oatmeal and Penny Arcade) most closely resemble the four-panel forebears. It’s starting to become standard practice, by the way, to refer these sort of webcomics as “gag-a-day” or “short-form.”

Still, it’s a delight to explore this oft-neglected corner in the world of sequential art. The days of the celebrity cartoonists like Milton Caniff and Al Capp are long past, as depicted in archival footage where they were treated as major celebrities on early TV shows. However, the list of interviewees for Stripped! are still recognizable industry titans: Lynn Johnston. Jeff Smith. Greg Evans. Jim Davis. Mort Walker. Cathy Guisewite, who hilariously has the letters “AACK” hanging in her home. And one name that brings the directors to the point of fanboy glee, Bill Watterson … the first time he’s allowed his voice to be recorded. (Charles Schulz may no longer be with us, but his influential presence looms over the entire documentary.) It’s wonderful seeing the faces of the creators behind so many iconic characters. They gather here to reminisce, sharing crude doodles drawn as a child, their cherished influences, and the highs and lows of working under the syndicate system.

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‘If there’s a movie you’re gonna lose money on, make it Wonder Woman’

Falcon Halloween costume

Falcon Halloween costume

“When I first got this role I just cried like a baby because I was like, ‘Wow, next Halloween, I’m gonna open the door and there’s gonna be a little kid dressed as the Falcon.’ That’s the thing that always gets me. I feel like everybody deserves that. I feel like there should be a Latino superhero. Scarlett does great representation for all the other girls, but there should be a Wonder Woman movie. I don’t care if they make 20 bucks, if there’s a movie you’re gonna lose money on, make it Wonder Woman. You know what I mean, ’cause little girls deserve that. There’s so many of these little people out here doing awful things for money in the world of being famous. And little girls see that. They should have the opposite spectrum of that to look up to.”

Captain America: The Winter Soldier star Anthony Mackie, discussing playing the Falcon, and the need for more representation of women and minorities in superhero movies

Jeff Smith’s ‘Bone’ among most challenged books of 2013

Bone: Out From BonevilleBone, Jeff Smith’s critically acclaimed fantasy adventure about three cousins swept up in epic populated by dragons, rat creatures and evil forces, was among the books most frequently challenged last year in schools and libraries.

The news comes from the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, which has released its annual Top 10 List of Frequently Challenged Books as part of National Library Week. In 2013, the organization received 307 reports on attempts to remove or restrict materials from library bookshelves and school curricula across the United States. That’s down from 464 official challenges in 2012.

Bone came in at No. 10 on the list, which was led once again by Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series and populated by the likes of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eyes and Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower (see the full rundown below). The last comic to make the list was Kim Dong Hwa’s The Color of Earth in 2011.

The ALA’s 2014 State of American Libraries Report doesn’t cite specific challenges to Bone or reveal how many there have been, but it does offer broad reasons for the objections: “political viewpoint, racism, violence.”

Although the challenges last year apparently failed to attract media attention, there was a good deal of coverage of complaint filed in 2010 by a parent in suburban Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, objecting to the depictions of drinking, smoking, gambling and sexual situations in Bone. However, a school district committee voted 10-1 to keep the books on library shelves. (There’s a Comic Book Legal Defense Fund case study, if you’re interested.)

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