Chris Arrant, Author at Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources

Conversing on Comics with Dan McDaid

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You can do things in comics you can’t do in any other medium, and U.K. cartoonist Dan McDaid has taken advantage of that in his work on Time Lords, superheroes, gods, monsters and apes — and he’s done it all without sacrificing his style. In fact, it’s only invigorated him further.

McDaid is currently illustrating BOOM! Studios’ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, taking a novel look at that world while retaining the auteur vibe that made the original movie work. Combining a diverse array of influences, Jack Kirby to John Romita Jr. and Frank Miller to Mike Zeck — even drawing in names like Nic Roeg and Sam Peckinpah — McDaid seems to showcase a different facet of his abilities in each project he tackles.

I became aware of McDaid during his run on Jersey Gods at Image Comics, but it’s Catalyst Comix that made me reconsider my assessment of his work. Since then, with Vandroid and issues of Mind the Gap and Sex, he’s risen in my mind to become a dynamic illustrator whose talent seems to be building to some unknown future project that will make him a marquee name in comics. Will it be Dawn of the Planet of Apes? Will it be the creator-owned book he’s working on? Or perhaps something else?

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Wrestlers converge for a secret war in ‘WWE Superstars’

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DC Comics and Marvel are gearing up for all-out wars next summer involving various versions of their most popular heroes and villains, but the WWE is beating them to the punch.

In the current arc of Papercutz’s WWE Superstars, wrestler-turned-writer Mick Foley is heading up a clash of the champions with modern-day superstars going up against their predecessors in the primes. Hulk Hogan versus John Cena, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin versus Daniel Bryan, the Big Show versus Vader, and the Legion of Doom versus, well …  everyone.

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Vasilis Lolos auctioning art to benefit stray dogs in Greece

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Original art is a growing market for creators and fans alike, and for the holidays artist Vasilis Lolos is selling choice pages of his work for a good cause. The Last Call cartoonist is auctioning off pages from his work at Marvel, Image and Dark Horse, as well as his self-published projects, with all proceeds to benefit stray dogs in Athens, Greece.

“During this time of winter and the constant bombings and riots, these stray dogs need a helping hand,” Lolos says. “This is why I created these auctions, so I can sell my artwork really cheap but help somebody in need.”

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Kyle Baker’s forgotten Marvel comic strips lampoon the X-Men

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Years before his breakthrough works such as Why I Hate Saturn, Kyle Baker was an intern at Marvel. And although he was admittedly a poor fit for superhero comics, his editors saw something in the artist and gave him an outlet in It’s Genetic, a series of one-panel comics for the company’s promotional magazine Marvel Age.

Although Baker would go on to do different things, these early illustrations demonstrate how Baker — to say nothing of Marvel — wasn’t afraid to poke fun at one of the company’s biggest properties. Take this for instance:

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Growing lineup of superheroine titles adds one more: ‘Pix’

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While Marvel and DC Comics have recently renewed their focus on superheroines with the likes of Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Gwen and Wonder Woman and Batgirl, independent publishers and creators have been enjoying a bumper crop of superpowered women and girls — including Pix, created by a former Marvel editor turned cartoonist.

Gregg Schigiel has recently launched Pix: One Weirdest Weekend, a graphic novel about a fairy princess who has to deal with real-world issues like first dates. The cartoonist describes Pix as “what if Spider-Man were a Disney princess?” and mixes the classic superhero formula he learned from his time at Marvel with more modern storytelling gleaned from working at Nickelodeon and on SpongeBob Squarepants.

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Conversing on Comics with CHIKARA’s Mike Quackenbush

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Many fans were surprised when it was announced last month that former pro wrestler CM Punk will make his Marvel writing debut in February’s Thor Annual #1, but of course the connection between comics and wrestling goes way back: Icons like the Ultimate Warrior, Mick Foley, Raven, Christopher Daniels, Booker T and Tony Atlas have all tried their hands at comics. However, it isn’t a one-way street, as one pro wrestler has used his passion for comics to inform an entire wrestling promotion: Philadelphia’s CHIKARA.

The man behind it, Mike Quackenbush, started wrestling in 1994, and made a name for himself on the independent scene during the Attitude Era and became a promoter in 2002 when he founded CHIKARA. Over the years, he has wrestled around the world against top names like CM Punk, Jushin Thunder Liger, Cesaro and Colt Cabana. But with CHIKARA Quackenbush has expanded into writing complex geek-infused storylines featuring throwbacks to comics and movies, including one memorable entrance involving a DeLorean.

On Saturday, CHIKARA will present Tomorrow Never Dies, live in Philadelphia and on iPPV, so I spoke with Quackenbush about his passion for comics and wrestling.

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Four romances, four stories: Jose Garcia’s ‘Seasons’

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Cartoonist Jose Garcia has been hard at work on a 120-page wordless graphic novel that explores four romance stories set in the four seasons. He’s looking to self-publish the book, fittingly titled Seasons, next year.

“Each one has its own mood and peace,” Garcia writes on the project’s Indiegogo page. “[Seasons is] based solely on feelings so I intend that each reader interpretation depends on his or her mood, and that by reading it in different occasions, the story’s meaning change!”

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Beirut university starts initiative devoted to Arab comics

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A unique partnership between a Beirut university and an construction magnate is designed to bring new attention to the long and interesting tradition of comics in the Middle East.

According to Al-Fanar Media, the American University of Beirut and businessman Mu’taz Sawwaf are working to create a coordinated academic program focused on comics, along with an annual conference, awards ceremony and an archive of Arab comic art.

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How to buy Cyclops’ sunglasses (or, ‘shades like Summers’)

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Ruby quartz doesn’t sound that unattainable, but finding sunglasses similar to what X-Men leader Cyclops wears is harder than you might think. Freelance editor/journalist Rachel Edidin has written an excellent buying guide for Cyclops fans who want to look like the cinematic Scott Summers.

“I own a lot of red sunglasses – in fact, for a long time, all the sunglasses I owned were red,” Edidin admits. “It’s part homage, part aesthetic preference (red sunglasses are cool, okay?), and part security blanket: Cyclops is a character I identify pretty closely with for a lot of reasons, and the sunglasses have become a pretty central touchstone for that metaphor. (Plus, everyone needs at least one ridiculous visual affectation, right?)”

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Ron Wimberly pitches his vision of Blade and Cloak & Dagger

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Marvel regained its mojo in the late 1990s when it handed some of its second-tier characters to creators to reimagine as part of the Marvel Knights imprint. And now, one of comics’ hottest up-and-coming artists is pitching his revamp of two of the publisher’s cult-favorite properties not to Marvel, but directly to the fans.

First mentioned during an Inkstuds interview, Ron Wimberly has posted two sets of illustrations showcasing his re-envisioning of Blade and Cloak & Dagger. The Prince of Cats creator said the Cloak & Dagger work initially started as “playing with type,” but he says he does have story ideas to back up the artwork.

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Conversing on Comics with Christopher Sebela

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The best way to learn how to make comics is to simply make comics, and writer Christopher Sebela found his way in by coloring and lettering.

He’s the first to admit he wasn’t the best, but it helped him to learn the industry while he continued to hone his writing skills. After years of work, and a couple of lucky breaks, Sebela is beginning to make a name for himself as a writer of diverse titles like Ghost, Escape From New York, Aliens vs. Predator: Fire & Stone and his own Dead Letters and High Crimes.

I spoke with Sebela about his entrance into comics, his beginnings as a color flatter, and his various projects. Along the way, he told me how the ability to hide a dead body gave him one of his biggest breaks in his career, and about his dueling passion and fear of Mount Everest.

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Conversing on Comics with Derf Backderf

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Derf Backderf spent the first 40 years of his life aiming, and ultimately succeeding, to become one of the top cartoonists in alternative newspapers. However, he then realized that niche industry was failing, and he needed something else; that’s when he found graphic novels.

Since switching his focus from newspaper strips to graphic novels in 2000, Backderf has transformed from a virtual unknown to a curiosity to an international star, with books like Punk Rock & Trailer Parks and his most famous work, My Friend Dahmer. He’s now working on on a graphic novel for Abrams about his time working as a garbageman, as well as a pseudo-sequel to Punk Rock & Trailer Parks that explores his time growing up in the Midwest punk scene.

Backderf’s opinion on comics as a fan and as a professional has changed over the years as he’s witness the decline of the once-thriving alternative weeklies, the rise of graphic novels and the changing face of American comics. I spoke with Backderf about his experiences, his acceptance in Europe, and his own opinions on comics.

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Artists reimagine Batman, with some sci-fi and fantasy flair

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Virtually everyone, fan and creator alike, has his or her own of what Batman acts and looks like. To that end, the Facebook art group Brainstorm asked its members to redesign the Dark Knight — just one in a series of challenges — to stunning results.

The Brainstorm Facebook page has been rampant with designs, some keeping the superhero elements while others delve into fantasy and sci-fi. The entries come from artists of all skill levels and from around the world.

Here are six pieces, out of the hundreds submitted, that stood out. Head to Brainstorm’s Facebook page to see even more.

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Want to play a claymation game by Doug TenNapel? Sure you do

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Doug TenNapel is a bit of a renaissance man when it comes to commercial art, from video games and animation to comics and even music. The creator who brought us Earthworm Jim and numerous graphic novels and webcomics is now showing off Armikrog, a stop-motion game he produced with developer Pencil Test Studios.

This is a first look at the fruits of TenNapel and Pencil Test’s 2013 Kickstarter campaign, which raised nearly a million dollars for Armikrog – even financing a Wii U release. The game follows intrepid space explorer Tommynaut, who has crashed with a blind alien talking dog named Beak-Beak on a weird world, where they become trapped in a structure called an Armikrog. That’s when the game begins.

Pencil Test is aiming to release the game next year for Wii U, PC, Mac and Linux.

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From Russia with comics love: a look at artist Artyom Trakhanov

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New artists come along in comics seemingly ever week, but among the newest crop one has stood out for me: Russian illustrator Artyom Trakhanov. I discovered Trakhanov from his U.S. debut, the Image miniseries Undertow, but the more I’ve seen about him the more I’ve liked his work.

Since the completion of Undertow (which he describes as “Star Wars underwater”), Trakhanov has been churning out a number of one-off covers, short stories and concept art that have circulated online. Although more issues of Undertow are a possibility, the artist has been working on concept art for a number of other projects, including an enticing-sounding book with Brian Funk titled Enforcer, about gang wars in a city filled with magic. Artyom also has his long-running webcomic Madblade, which he hopes to resume and at some point translate into English.

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