Sam Humphries, Author at Robot 6 | The Comics Culture Blog

Six by 6 | Six Fraggle Rock episodes that will blow your mind

Fraggle Rock

Fraggle Rock

Editor’s Note: One-time Robot 6 guest blogger Sam Humphries, who has a story in tomorrow’s Mouse Guard/Fraggle Rock Special Edition Flip-Book, pays us a visit today to share some of his thoughts on Fraggle Rock. And if you’re in the L.A. area, be sure to stop by Meltdown Comics tomorrow to meet Sam.

I know what you’re thinking. Who is this guy to tell me which Fraggle Rock episodes will blow my mind? I mean, how presumptuous, right?

Dude, I know. I did not even grow up with Fraggle Rock. The Rock was on HBO and there was no HBO in the house. HBO showed boobies and Mama Humphries did not play like that. I am not that person who has held Fraggles in their hearts since their formative years.

But I did write a story for Archaia’s new Fraggle Rock comic anthology, illustrated by Jeremy “Eisner nominated for Bayou” Love. You can find our Fraggle tale in the Mouse Guard/Fraggle Rock Special Edition Flip-Book, available at comic book stores everywhere, for FREE, on May 1st — otherwise known as Free Comic Book Day! Ah, the nice price.

If you’re near Los Angeles, come on down to Meltdown in Hollywood, where Jeremy and I will be signing copies of the free Fraggle book. Astoundingly, Red Fraggle herself will also be in attendance. Karen Prell, the OG puppeteer of Red on the Fraggle Rock show, will be there with the original Muppet, meeting fans, singing songs, and taking pictures as Red Fraggle.

So, watching Fraggle Rock for the first time as someone old enough to attend rated R films alone, I got to enjoy the series with eyes unclouded by nostalgia. And I realized: for a “kids” show, Fraggle Rock is a mind freak.

Emboldened by the success of the previous Muppet franchises, Jim Henson and company didn’t flinch from daring themselves to new heights of spectacular puppet feats. And when it came to the themes of the series, they didn’t hesitate to go deep — way deep. Compared to the groovy sunshine sessions of Sesame Street and the upbeat let’s-put-on-a-show enthusiasm of the Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock is the slightly moody teenage cousin of the bunch.

The result? A multi-layered head trip for all ages. Sure, there’s plenty of exuberant songs, bright colors, and cute foam creatures, but Gobo, Red, Wembly, Mokey, and Boober Fraggle spent most episodes exploring dark, complicated passageways of existence. It’s no surprise that Fraggle Rock has the most “cult” fanbase of the three series.

Whether you are new to the Rock or a big fan from way back, there’s plenty of crazy on this list to rock your world. Here, for your lid-flipping pleasure, are are Six Fraggle Rock Episodes That Will Blow Your Mind.

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Free the PIXU Four: A chat with Bá, Cloonan, Lolos, and Moon

The cover to the hardcover edition of PIXU, coming July 2009 from Dark Horse Comics

The cover to the hardcover edition of PIXU, coming July 2009 from Dark Horse Comics

Dark Horse recently revealed it will publish a hardcover collection of PIXU, a unique four-way collaboration between award-winning creators Gabriel Bá, Becky Cloonan, Vasilis Lolos and Fábio Moon. Previously released as two self-published issues, PIXU is a horror comic book that tells the story of an apartment building full of haunted individuals, and the PIXU itself, a supernatural mark that portends great evil.

The four PIXU creators are scattered across the globe — with Cloonan living in Brooklyn, twin brothers Moon and Bá in São Paulo, Brazil, and Lolos splitting his time between Brooklyn and Athens, Greece. The book is at once a story, an experiment and a reflection of their tight friendship — four disparate, distant and visionary mad scientists becoming one through the magical act of creating comics together. Best of all, the book is creepy as all hell.

The original issues of PIXU were printed at a limited run of 1,000 copies each — but you can still find these handcrafted soon-to-be-eBay-bait comics at

To celebrate the July release of the hardcover edition, we reached out to the PIXU quartet to find out the secret history of the book, and their own origins in the world of horror.

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Exclusive: Marc Silvestri’s Invincible Iron Man #14 cover

Invincible Iron Man #14 cover, by Marc Silvestri

Invincible Iron Man #14 cover, by Marc Silvestri

Thanks to our pals at Marvel Comics, we are pleased to present the exclusive debut of the Invincible Iron Man #14 variant cover by none other than Marc Silvestri!

Continuing the next chapter in Matt Fractions “World’s Most Wanted” storyline, this issue features Tony Stark on the run from his rogues gallery — and the big bad guy in the Marvel Universe, Norman Osborn! Invincible Iron Man #14 hits stores this June.

Be sure to catch this issue in its glorious variant cover by the Top Cow himself, Marc Silvestri.

Click on the image at the right to see it full size.

Aaron Noble and the deconstruction of comic book art

My Funny Valentine by Aaron Noble

My Funny Valentine by Aaron Noble

Aaron Noble is a painter who uses comic books as the raw material for the work he creates. Armed with an Exacto blade, the Los Angeles-based artist combs through old comics and cuts out pieces of illustration that catch his eye. He then arranges and rearranges the comic-sourced shapes into new forms on paper. Once satisfied with a collage, he will often paint it large scale on canvas or even as giant murals in cities like San Francisco and Beijing.

Drawing heavily from the “Image revolution” style of comics, Noble’s resulting pieces look less like early-’90s superheroes and their attendant carnage, and more like abstract swirls, spikes, smoke, and explosions. The biggest nerds with photographic memories will recognize elements — Spawn’s cloak here, Azrael’s armored knee there. But divorced from their original framework, they take on a whole new identity — imploding, mutated anatomies of unknown origin, alternately soaring and crawling across the canvas wrapped in computer colored hues and chrome. They are at once compelling and challenging to observe — as the brain eagerly devours the inherent eye candy, it struggles to make sense of the improbable geometries twisting across the surface.

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Webcomics to Watch: Zuda’s Maintaining Bohemia


From Maintaining Bohemia, by Harold Sipe and Buster Moody

The grim side of DC’s Zuda Comics program is its swiftly growing graveyard. With 10 competitors every month and only one winner, that leaves the vast majority of promising webcomics in arrested development. Each story has eight pages to make its case — and if voters aren’t feeling it, page nine won’t be around the corner anytime soon.

This month’s Zuda Thunderdome includes the new comic from Harold Sipe and Buster Moody, Maintaining Bohemia. The team behind Screamland, Fangoria Magazine‘s Best Horror Series of 2008, turn their attention to a truly terrifying subject: art school. In their hands, the black sheep of higher education gets a scathing group critique from the janitorial and security staff that keeps the place from falling apart under the weight of its own pretensions.

Sipe’s writing pulls out the laughs as well as the knives (there are at least two “oh, snap” moments on every half-page that rang true for this art-school dropout). Moody’s artwork is, well, moody; his expressive caricatures convey an atmosphere that amplifies the dark, cynical humor. This is a wild webcomic that pulls out the stops, hopefully we get to see what comes next.

You can read Maintaining Bohemia for yourself over at Zuda Comics. If you like what you see, be sure to vote for it, lest we are kept waiting for that ninth page indefinitely.

The Tao of Breaking Into Comics, According to C.B. Cebulski

legeekcb1reverse“We’ve put A LOT of thought into our talent discovery and hiring processes recently. We WANT to find more talent. It’s in our best interest.” These are the words of C.B. Cebulski, talent scout and liaison for Marvel Comics. If you aren’t familiar with C.B., he’s one of the key people today actively searching for artists to join the big leagues of the comic book industry.

Having come from the manga and anime worlds, C.B. arrived at the doors of Marvel to create the Marvel Mangaverse line. It was there that he started fostering new creators for the House of Ideas. In addition, C.B. is a creative talent himself, having written the recent Marvel sellout X-Infernus, and his creator-owned Wanderlust with Image Comics. Next up for him is War of Kings: Darkhawk.

Possessing one of the sharpest eyes for talent in the industry, C.B. is known for being generous with his time and advice. “There were lots of people who helped me get to where I am today in comics and I am only happy to return the favor,” he says.

To that end, he has been using his Twitter account to post pointers for comic book hopefuls, distilled into zen-like chunks of 140 characters or less. If you haven’t been following along, grasshopper, you should start immediately!

We’ve collected some of these indispensable koans of wisdom for your guidance. Call it The Tao of Breaking Into Comics, According to C.B. Cebulski.

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Webcomic to watch: Jim Mahfood’s Los Angeles Ink Stains

Los Angeles Ink Stains #7 by Jim Mahfood

Los Angeles Ink Stains #7 by Jim Mahfood

The first time I saw Jim Mahfood’s art was in 1999, in the pages of his creator-owned book Grrl Scouts. The book was filled with cute chicks, hip hop, comics and weed, pretty much everything that made me want to move to Los Angeles a year previous. (Sorry, Mom!) Every page was crammed full with Mahfood’s manic, graffiti-inspired line work and laid-back, don’t-give-a-fuuuuuuuuck sense of humor. I was in heaven!

Ten years later, I’m still in LA and Mahfood is still kicking it. His semi-irregular online series Los Angeles Ink Stains is one of the best comics on the web. Each auto-bio installment documents random highlights from his life in Southern California. The subjects range from late night taco runs to creating art to mourning his long-lost best friend.

Mahfood chronicles it all with that same expressive, always-experimenting artwork, and sincere storytelling that doesn’t go for easy glamorization. Rain or shine, moment of glory or walk of shame, Mahfood shares it all.

It’s a fantastic way to experience Los Angeles beyond what you see in US Magazine — the house parties, the creativity, the beach, the good friends, and the lost loves. And the amazing tacos. It makes me nostalgic for a place I’ve never left.

You can check out past installments of Los Angeles Ink Stains here, and catch new installment on Mahfood’s blog, updated regularly.

Jo Chen covers kick ass

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight #8 cover by Jo Chen

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight #8 cover by Jo Chen

Jo Chen delivers some of the most gorgeous and striking comic book covers in the business. Her work first caught my eye on Runaways, and she’s continued her stellar track record on Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight.

Chen’s flowing style, dynamic compositions and easy naturalism always comes through beautifully, even though she does most of her work digitally. (Broke my heart to learn that, only because it meant there were no original Jo Chens to own.) Best of all, she’s got a playful sensibility that keeps the covers from getting bogged down in overwrought gravitas, no matter the subject. For my money, she’s right up there with James Jean and J.G. Jones. (What’s with all the J names? OK, Paul Pope too.)

Luckily for me and the other Jo Chen fans out there, Dark Horse has assembled a glorious gallery of Chen’s Buffy work on its website. Trust me when I say it was a painful Sophie’s Choice to pick just one piece to post here — it is well worth your time to experience them all for yourself.

Scott Allie (Chen’s editor on Buffy and an expert on breathtaking covers) announced the gallery in his most recent column on Dread Central — don’t miss it for insight into Chen’s creative evolution at Dark Horse, and the connection between pomegranates and vampires.

First-look review: Brandon and Klein’s Viking #1

VIKING issue one cover by Nic Klein.

VIKING issue one cover by Nic Klein.

Viking #1
Script: Ivan Brandon
Art and cover: Nic Klein
Publisher: Image Comics
Release date: April 1, 2009

“Do you see Finn? What your obsession brings?”

Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein’s Viking is about men possessed with ruthless ambition who wield their obsessions like giant swords across the world around them. And as the first issue makes clear, the price these swaggering badasses pay for their obsessions is unpleasant — and violent as hell.

The first issue of Viking explodes right out of the gate, and wastes no time in establishing its own obsessive ambition. Billed as “a crime book for the 9th Century,” this comic features the brothers Finn and Egil, “hungry men” who maraud across the Nordic landscape with reckless abandon, grabbing hard and fast at wealth wherever they can find it, and perhaps something more intangible. Also present is the savage King Bram, who has achieved everything, it seems, but the means by which to satisfy his own heart.

The first thing to mention is all the grim viking action. (These guys aren’t infamous for their slumber parties, after all.) The blood doth run freely in this book, over panels, into the gutters, and practically onto your own fingers. Fools and innocents alike meet grisly ends on swords, spears, or bare hands. The creators do not shy away from the lurid nature of the world they have chosen, but it is never gratuitous. There is a sort of bloodthirsty balance between the violence and the constant threat of violence that keeps the reading experience taut without being oppressive.

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