Chris Arrant, Author at Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources

Conversing on Comics: Svetlana Chmakova

HEADER-TEMPLATE-Conversing-On-ComicsSvetlana Chmakova has sent demons to school, been on the run with witches and wizards, and braved the world of comics as a fan-turned-professional. If you asked her, she might argue the last one was the toughest of all.

The Russian-Canadian cartoonist made a name for herself as part of a wave of artists working on TOKYOPOP’s OEL Manga line. 2005′s Dramacon and the two follow-up volumes showed Chmakova delving into the world of comics and manga with a story inspired by attending comic conventions and interacting with cosplayers. Chmakova went on to be one of the star players hired for Hachette’s graphic novel imprint Yen Press, first creating her own series Nightschool and then adapting hit novelist James Patterson’s Witch & Wizard series. Chmakova’s work has been prodigious, with 10 graphic novels released in just over nine years, and now here in 2014 she’s beginning a new chapter with a new creator-owned series with Yen, webcomics and a line of video podcasts on drawing. ROBOT 6 caught up with Chmakova to find out about what’s on her plate, as well as what’s on her mind and in her future.

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Comic creators recreate “ROM” #1 to support Bill Mantlo

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Art by Rafer Roberts

Bill Mantlo didn’t create the titular star of the much-beloved ROM Spaceknight, but he did help define who ROM was and what he was about in the early 1980s. A group of supportive comic creators and fans have come together to bring new attention to Mantlo’s work in light of his recent medical troubles. How? By recreating, page-by-page and panel-by-panel, ROM Spaceknight #1, originally illustrated by co-creator Sal Buscema.

This new project, titled the ROM Remix Project, has 20 individual artists each drawing a page of the original story, from the 18 story pages to the Frank Miller cover, and even the Hostess ad in the back of the original comic. Organized by Rob Harrington, it’s intended to be a public art project as well as a way to bring renewed attention to Mantlo’s situation.

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Six by 6 | Six overlooked superhero runs

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New comics come out every week, by the dozens. Add that up by the month or the year, and it’s virtually impossible to keep track. Certain runs on some titles rise to the top by a mixture of critical acclaim, proper marketing and the right timing, but if all of those factors aren’t perfectly aligned, good comics fall by the wayside.

In this edition of ROBOT 6′s “Six by 6,” we look at six noteworthy creative runs on superhero comics worth a second look, even if that means a trip to the back-issue bin.

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Conversing on Comics with Kazu Kibuishi

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Kazu Kibuishi has found success in comics by charting his own path, one that took him from creating the Eisner-winning Copper to editing the acclaimed Flight anthologies to finding a home for his Amulet graphic novels at mainstream publisher Scholastic.

His work led him to be selected to create covers for the 15th anniversary re-release if J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter books. Kibuishi approached this prized assignment with reverence and deep knowledge for what Rowling and original illustrator Mary GrandPré did before, but infused the artwork with his own style to make the new editions stand out. And he took what he learned from that project back to his own books.

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Frank Cho recreates scene from ‘The Dark Knight Returns’

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Frank Cho hates Superman. Don’t take my word for it; just ask him. But after years of friendly queries by an art-collector friend, Cho bit the bullet and took on a rare commission of Superman — but only if he could do it his way.

“One day the impossible happened, I was bored and I had some free time and Hawaiian Dave gave me a big wad of cash. On top of that, he told me that I can draw whatever I desire as long as Batman and Superman is in it …,” Cho explains on his blog. “Since I hated Superman so much, the only logical conclusion was to do the scene in the Frank Miller’s masterpiece The Dark Knight Returns, where the old Batman comes out of retirement and beat the shit out of Superman. And off I went.”

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That time Evan Dorkin almost wrote ‘Popeye Vs. Mars Attacks’

Art by Terry Beatty, from "Popeye Vs. Mars Attacks" #1

Art by Terry Beatty, from “Popeye Vs. Mars Attacks” #1

Last year IDW Publishing released an amazing series of one-off crossovers featuring Mars Attacks and different titles in its line. It covered a lot of ground and showed some unusual and fun pairings, but one we never got to see was Evan Dorkin’s Popeye Vs. Mars Attacks.

He relates in a blog post a situation where, in the span of a few hours, he was offered to write the book, pitched to IDW despite initial reluctance, got his pitch accepted, and then opted out. Although the 2013 one-shot was ultimately written by Martin Powell and illustrated by Terry Beatty, it’s interesting to read Dorkin’s ill-fated pitch and his summary of events behind the scenes.

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Grade-school grudges go galactic in ‘Starpunch Girl’

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With more power comes more problems. Just ask Starpunch Girl, who’s in the middle of a battle to free her enslaved homeworld from the Black Hole Army. And leading that army is Blackhole Boy, a rival who going all the way back to grade school. Creators S.D. Lockhart and Narm started the series as a webcomic, and now they’re turning to Kickstarter to help fund a 90-plus page print edition.

Described by Lockhart as a “full-color cosmic comic creation featuring surrealistic characters and intense action sequences,” Starpunch Girl is looking to raise $1,000 by April 27 to print a book collecting the 18 pages already released online plus more than 75 pages of additional story. As rewards for backers, they’re offering interesting extras including a soundtrack for the series, a custom plush doll, as well as an appearance in an upcoming page of the series.

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Conversing on Comics with Alex Segura

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The past several months have been period of transition for Alex Segura. In February, he left his position as executive director of publicity at DC Entertainment to return to Archie Comics, where he became senior vice president of publicity and marketing, and editor of its Red Circle line. But even before that, he entered a new phase of his career with the October release of his first prose novel, a mystery called Silent City set in his native Miami.

As Segura enters this new chapter in his life, ROBOT 6 reached out to talk about his new duties at Archie and his new career as a novelist.

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Cully Hamner spearheads campaign to help Joe Phillips

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Joe Phillips has been drawing comics for 25 years, telling stories of superheroes in the pages of Mister Miracle, Timber Wolf and Wonder Woman. Now he could use some heroes in his corner.

Last fall, complications from diabetes forced the artist to have his foot amputated. He’s received generous charitable assistance during that time from The Hero Initiative and IDW Publishing, for whom he recently drew Star Trek, but at the end of the day it’s not enough. But Phillips has incurred sizeable medical bills, and understandably has trouble getting up and about for work each day. So fellow artist Cully Hamner has stepped in to kickstart a $5,000 fundraising drive to pay for a prosthetic foot for Phillips.

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Photographer documents real-life superheroes in portrait series

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Superhero comics are typically about good versus evil, and a growing number of people are taking those lessons to heart — and to the streets — as honest-to-goodness superheroes. Los Angeles photographer Dean Bradshaw has captured some of them in a new series titled “Real Life Superheroes.”

This photo set features heroes like Nevada’s We The People (above) and 18 others, many of whom are based in California. Eighteen of these are new creations dreamed up by the hero, with only one — Chicago’s Moon Knight — taking his name and design from an existing character. Here’s a selection of some of the portraits, but visit Bradshaw’s site to see all of them.

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Business picks up with ‘The Adventures of Business Cat’

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Are you a cat person? Are you a comics person? Well then, we’ve found your catnip.

U.K. cartoonist Tom Fonder has announced a spinoff webcomic from his popular Happy Jar series focused on the adventures of a cat in a business suit titled, appropriately enough, The Adventures of Business Cat. The dapper cat was born in a one-off Happy Jar strip in January by Fonder and his partner Rachael Robins, and became a hit with fans, leading to this spinoff.

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Michael Cho announces debut graphic novel, ‘Shoplifter’

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Michael Cho has become a much sought-after artist, creating variant covers for Marvel and DC Comics, and contributing to Madman, Fear Agent and AdHouse’s ambitious Project anthologies. But in all that time, he’s never done a comic of his own. But now Cho has announced that Pantheon Books will publish his debut graphic novel in September, Shoplifter.

In a press release, the publisher describes Shoplifter‘s story as a “young woman’s search for happiness and self-fulfillment in the big city.”

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Conversing on Comics with Paul Levitz

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Since stepping down in 2009 from his longtime position as president and publisher of DC Comics, Paul Levitz has focused much of his attention on teaching and writing, with projects like World’s Finest and Taschen’s expansive 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking.

Currently he’s putting the finishing touches on a book about his friend Will Eisner titled Will Eisner: The Dreamer and the Dream, while teaching college courses. In addition, he recently joined BOOM! Studios’ board of directors.

For a man who made his name writing adventures of the future in Legion of Super-Heroes, you had to know Levitz had plans for his own future, right? I caught up with Levitz earlier this year, at a particularly busy time, to learn more about his activities since leaving DC’s executive suite. We spoke before the BOOM! announcement was made, but we had more than enough to talk about in our interview.

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‘New Yorker’ cartoon editor Bob Mankoff recounts his life in comics

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Christopher Guest calls the cartoons in The New Yorker “the best cartoons in the world,” and for the past 17 years the person responsible for picking them all (and drawing some of them) has been cartoon editor Bob Mankoff. And in his new memoir How About Never?- – Is Never Good For You?: My Life in Cartoons, which goes on sale Tuesday, the Bronx native recounts how these popular comics are made and even the secrets to winning the magazine’s caption contest. Mankoff delves not just into his own process, but also others he’s worked with such as Saul Steinberg and Carl Rose.

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Animator creates awesome custom ‘Dragon Ball’ short for son

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Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball has been delighting fans worldwide, first as a manga and then as an anime, for three decades. Clearly there’s something magical about the adventures of Goku that transcends national boundaries and generations — and Robson Menezes dos Santos tapped into that for his son’s birthday present.

The Brazilian animator spent five and a half months to create a short that recasts himself and his young son Rasdael as Toriyama’s heroes. He even went so far as to enlist the talents of Wendel Bezerra and Tania Gaidarji, voice actors who worked on the official Brazilian dubs.

“This is my greatest gift to my son,” Robson writes in the video below, “a fan animation in the style of the anime we enjoy most together …”

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