Chris Arrant, Author at Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources

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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New Stuart and Kathryn Immonen book tops AdHouse slate

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Stuart and Kathryn Immonen‘s Russian Olive to Red King will headline a boisterous lineup of books coming in the spring from AdHouse Books. The slate, announced on The Comics Reporter, features Ignatz winner Sophie Goldstein’s new book The Oven in April, the Immonens’ long-gestating graphic novel in May, and the fourth issue of Ethan Rilly’s Pope Hats in June.

In 2010 Stuart Immonen spoke briefly to ROBOT 6 about Russian Olive to Red King, calling it a “tortured love story” featuring “petroglyphs and plane crashes and bad dogs and angry people.”

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Conversing on Comics with Ivan Brandon

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Ivan Brandon‘s stories may initially appear to be one thing, but when you read them you discover they’re actually something else entirely. The writer’s 2009 series Viking was a crime drama, and his new series Drifter is a story of frontier expansion in the 1800s — despite being set in the far-flung future. Many of Brandon’s stories have a technological bent, however; from his 2003 debut writing Terminator to his indie series NYC Mech to Machine Man in Marvel Comics Presents.

Drifter, with artist Nic Klein, debuted this week, and Brandon is in the middle of a four-city signing tour that finds him at Leed’s Thought Bubble this weekend and London’s Orbital Comics on Wednesday. It’s a familiar territory, launching a series, but he views the landscape of creator-owned comics differently today that he did when he started more than a decade ago.

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D is for Daredevil: Papercraft type based on Marvel characters

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Captain America once proudly said the “A” doesn’t stand for France, but in this intriguing art series neither does it stand for “America.” Instead it’s Archangel. But don’t worry, Cap fans: He lays claim to “C.”

Designer Eddy Ymeri has created an inventive papercraft series based on Marvel characters titled Superhero Caps. Created as a portfolio piece, the series depicts select letters using the colors, style and patterns of popular Marvel heroes and villains like Daredevil, the Hulk, Loki, and others. While Ymeri has only created 10 letters so far, these inspiring pieces may hit home for fans of design and comics. You can view them all at the website Ymeri set up, SuperheroCaps.

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Wrestling with real-life drama in ‘Headlocked’

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Mickey Rourke’s turn in the celebrated 2008 drama The Wrestler showed just how real the “fake” world of professional wrestling can be, but there’s more than one story to be told.

Michael Kingston’s indie series Headlocked takes up that challenge, as it documents the struggles of young wrestling fan Mike Hartman as he attempts to break into the industry. Beneath the masks, costumes and colorful tights are men and women with real lives and real problems — something Hartman sees for himself when he’s taken under the wing of an aging wrestler named Mr. Destruction, who’s looking for a comeback.

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On the heels of Sailor Moon’s return comes ‘Crystal Cadets’

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The upstart comics publisher Lion Forge has launched launched a new entry in the classic magical girl genre with its new series Crystal Cadets.

Created by writer Anne Toole and artist Katie O’Neill, Crystal Cadets follows a middle-school student named Zoe who’s gifted a magical crystal that gives her powers and membership in an elite but discreet sisterhood called (of course) the Crystal Cadets. Featuring members pulled from across the globe, this multicultural story shows these girls of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds learning and mastering special abilities in pursuit of a better life for themselves and their world.

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Conversing on Comics with Aubrey Sitterson

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Aubrey Sitterson made a name for himself as the editor of such Marvel titles as The Irredeemable Ant-Man and Strange Tales, but he that behind for the world of professional wrestling. But after spending the past few years working for WWE and moonlighting for a time as editor of The Walking Dead and Invincible, Sitterson is looking to conquer the comics world as a writer.

Earlier this year Arcana published his graphic novel Worth, produced with the estate of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, and he’s currently merging wrestling, comics, barbarians and aliens in the webcomic King Maul. Sitterson and artist Zak Kinsella just returned from a brief hiatus following the first issue, and promise a new page each Monday.

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SLG Publishing launches its fourth crowdfunding effort

SLG Publishing has been a major part of the American comics industry, helping to usher in notable creators like Charles Soule, Jhonen Vasquez and Jim Rugg. But for the past few years the publisher has been struggling.

Founder Dan Vado has been public about the company’s financial status, turning to crowdfunding platforms for help in keeping the business afloat — but with little success. He organized two unsuccessful Kickstarter campaigns in 2012, and returned this year, first with a GoFundMe effort and now with Patreon.

While none of the campaigns have reached the stated goal, Vado remains hopeful. The comics industry has witnessed numerous successful crowdfunding campaigns (even on a publisher level, such as with Fantagraphics), but SLG’s plight underscores that, unfortunately, they don’t all work out that way. But what’s so different about SLG’s situation?

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Fantagraphics to collect Argentine sci-fi classic ‘Eternonaut’

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Fantagraphics is bringing one of the pillars of South American comics to the United States for the first time.

In August 2015, Fantagraphics will publish an English adaptation of the first storyline of El Eternauta, aka The Eternonaut. Created in the late 1950s by writer and revolutionary Héctor Germán Oesterheld alongside artist Francisco Solano López, The Eternonaut is a rollicking sci-fi tale about a group of people living in the midst of an alien invasion. The story is post-apocalyptic, but veers into the weird with mutated animals, insects and even humans that the group fights just as much as the alien invaders. Midway through the story, the group is split apart due to a malfunctioning time-travel device on one of the alien’s ship, stranding some of the heroes in time and sending them on a new quest to find each other.

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French comic about time travel, true love eyes U.S. audience

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What if you went your entire life went without meeting your true love, and you only found it due to a time-travel accident? And what if your job was to eliminate these kinds of accidents? Would you fix the timestream or fix yourself up with your true love?

That’s the story of The Infinite Loop by Pierrick Colinet and Elsa Charretier, which debuts next month in France — but the creators are already looking toward an American release. The duo was at New York Comic Con earlier this month to drum up interest in the six-issue series from English-language publishers.

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DJs take center stage in dystopian ‘Future Prophecy’

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Superheroes come from all walks of life: journalists, scientists, school teachers, lawyers, even fast-food workers. But what about a DJ? In The Future Prophecy, two DJ sisters take on a dystopian version of Toronto under the control of a mutant army. But they aren’t just any DJ sisters, they’re creators — and real-life DJs — Sara Simms and Melle Oh.

So far, Simms and Oh have self-published two issues of The Future Prophecy, but to produce four more they’ve turned to Kickstarter.

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