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(Time once again for ROBOT 6 contributors Tom Bondurant and Carla Hoffman to email each other about the year in DC and Marvel superhero comics. This year’s exchange took place between DEc. 26 and Dec. 30. And be sure to check out Part 1 of the conversation.)
Tom Bondurant: One of the more pleasant surprises this year was the extent to which the Big Two started going after a different audience. New books like Ms. Marvel and Gotham Academy, and makeovers for Batgirl and Catwoman, have found success with distinctive, unconventional approaches. How long can they keep this up? Will digital distribution help these books, if it’s not doing so already? Are the Big Two really committed to branching out?
Carla Hoffman: Branching out is such a double-edged sword. It sounds weird to say that, because diversity is so championed online, but when a book can alienate old readers, you really have to draw in a lot of new readers to make up for it. Believe it or not, there were some who complained that Kamala Khan took the Ms. Marvel name rather than getting her own moniker. The good news is that Ms. Marvel is such a quality book and so important to the next generation of comic readers, not to mention Marvel Comics itself, I couldn’t care less if a (pardon my use) grumpy old fan can’t change with the times. Marvel published about 40 new titles this year — everything from Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu to Rocket Raccoon. Not all of the titles stuck (R.I.P. She-Hulk, try again later), but that’s still a lot of new stuff to try that isn’t just another variation of a Wolverine comic.
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While you might not know Corey Blake personally, it’s likely you’ve seen his work here on ROBOT 6. Corey has been a contributor to R6 for more than two years, writing pieces about subjects ranging from Comic-Con International to Bitstrips and many more through his column The Comics Observer.
You may also have noticed that Corey hasn’t been around ROBOT 6 in a couple of weeks. That’s because his wife Nahleen, diagnosed with both lupus and multiple sclerosis, is currently going through some serious medical issues, and is currently waiting to hear back from their insurance company to see if they will cover a very expensive — but very necessary — medication. ( Corey writes about it himself on his Twitter account.)
If you’d like to help Corey and Nahleen, they’ve set up an online fundraiser to help cover the cost of medical bills. They’re close to reaching their proposed goal, but don’t let that stop you from giving what you can.
The thoughts and good wishes of the entire CBR and ROBOT 6 editorial staff go out to Corey and Nahleen during this difficult time.
Takeshi Obata, the renowned artist of Death Note and Hikaru no Go, made his first U.S. appearance earlier this month at New York Comic Con, where he participated in a couple of panels, met with journalists and signed autographs. Viz Media, which played host to Obata, was on hand to capture video (below) of the artist banging out sketches of Death Note characters Ryuk and L for undoubtedly ecstatic fans.
Obata spoke with ROBOT 6’s Brigid Alverson at the convention about character design, saying, “The clothes I put the characters in obviously become part of the characters, so I am really careful about how I dress them, for sure. I take a lot of care in that.”
Any creator who’s exhibited in Artists Alley at Comic-Con International over the past 24 years is undoubtedly familiar with Clydene Nee, who in the words of Mark Brooks is “the face and hands” of the area and “a true friend of the industry and of artists in particular.” An unpaid volunteer for the annual event since 1979, Nee has in recent years experienced a series of health problems, requiring her at last year’s con to oversee Artists Alley from a motorized scooter.
When she emailed Brooks over the weekend about a particularly difficult few months, involving kidney failure, emergency surgery, renal failure, dialysis and the need for a kidney transplant, the artist launched a campaign on GoFundMe to help Nee with her mounting medical expenses. (Nee has explained more about her situation today on her Facebook page, writing, “I am sorry to say I will not get better until I get a transplant. I am in what is called End Stage Renal Disease. My kidneys have failed and I am on dialysis 3 times a week.”)
Actor Simon Pegg ignited a firestorm last week when he posted photos of a recent visit to Marvel’s New York City offices, including one shot of himself posing in front of a mural and pointing to an image of Ant-Man. Could it mean he’ll re-team with frequent collaborator and good friend Edgar Wright for the long-brewing Marvel Studios film? No, Pegg was just having a little fun with fans.
So what was he doing in the Marvel offices? Apparently, he was just taking a tour, and recording a video to promote his new film The World’s End (opening Friday). Unless … the above image is Pegg’s way of telling us he’ll be replacing Chris Hemsworth in Avengers: Age of Ultron …
See more photos from his visit at Marvel.com.
“The model for tomorrow, and this is the model I’ve been using with enormous enthusiasm since I started blogging back in 2001, is to try everything. Make mistakes. Surprise ourselves. Try anything else. Fail. Fail better. And succeed in ways we never would have imagined a year or a week ago.”
BGetween work on the second volume of Sharknife, projects for Marvel, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and other smaller gigs, cartoonist Corey Lewis has been working on a secret only few knew about: For the past three years, Lewis released a limited-edition black-and-white anthology dubbed Layered Jacket at his home convention Emerald City Comic Con. If you weren’t there, you didn’t get it. But now Lewis is, as he puts it, “doing something a little next level.”
Later this year, Lewis will release Sun Bakery #1, his first self-published full-color project. Described as a “comics anthology/art book/design container,” Sun Bakery will contain three original stories, along with a collection of rarely seen illustrations, columns and micro-comics. Among the stories are “Lazer Jacket,” a story that brings the ideas of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat to the 21st century in Lewis’ explosive “fight comix” style. He’s now in the final days of a Kickstarter campaign for Sun Bakery #1 that’s already over five times its goal, so this new release promises to be very real, very soon.
For those interested, you have from now to the weekend to be an early adopter and secure an advance copy of Sun Bakery along with some excellent rewards via his Kickstarter page.
I’ve loved Jonathan Edwards‘ work since he was drawing dandies in powdered wigs for Deadline. I was even known to occasionally buy the NME just for his POP! A Complete History strips. Last week he posted these images to his blog: abstracted versions of some of Kirby and Ditko’s classic character designs for Marvel superheroes. Lovely stuff, and they speak volumes to just how durable those designs are, remaining recognizable even when rendered in a minimum of lines and blocks of color.
“When I wrote Typhoid Mary, there were some strong female protagonists in comics, but I didn’t like the gender garbage bins that female extras went into: wife, bimbo, good girl, slut, witch etc. But men were often disposable in the same way: lunkheads, etc. Now I see plenty of strong females in comics. But both men and women in comics still get used as ‘cannon fodder’ (I am guilty of this myself) where a one-dimensional male or female is needed to play a stereotype and disposed of. But the female leads in their own books, the ones I’ve read, like Batgirl and Wonder Woman and Batwoman are very strong characters.”
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. We’ve each picked the five comics we’re most anticipating in order to create a list of the best new stuff coming out two months from now.
As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
Crater XV HC (Top Shelf, $19.95): I’ve been following (and loving) the serialization of Kevin Cannon’s follow-up to Far Arden in the digital pages of Double Barrel, but I know that I’ll be picking up this hardcover collection of the further adventures of sea dog Rusty Shanks nonetheless. The Canadian space program deserves no less.
In The Days of the Mob HC (DC Comics, $39.99): To say that Kirby’s 1970s take on the organized-crime world of the 1930s is something I’ve been longing to read since I first discovered its existence would be an understatement, so I’m definitely looking forward to this deluxe reprint, complete with material that wasn’t in the original edition.
Indigo Prime: Anthropocalypse TP (Rebellion/2000AD, $24.99): John Smith’s cosmic authorities are one of comics’ most secret treasures, I think, especially when he’s paired with an artist like Edmund Bagwell, who brings a wonderful Euro-Kirby influence to the stories in this collection. Really looking forward to this one.
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen GN (First Second, $17.99): As a sucker for good autobiographical comics and also good food writing, the idea of Lucy Knisley creating a food-centric memoir — complete with recipes! — is far too good to ignore. I love that publishers like First Second are publishing work like this.
Solo Deluxe Edition HC (DC Comics, $49.99): Even though I own most of these issues from their original appearance, the oversized hardcover format is waaaay too tempting when you consider some of the material this book has up its 500+ page sleeve: Paul Pope covering Kirby! Brendan McCarthy channeling Ditko as only he could! The amazing Darwyn Cooke issue! The only thing that could make this better would be if it included work completed on follow-up issues before the plug had been pulled … But maybe that can appear in a second volume, one day…
I don’t know, maybe lists like the widely reported rundown of “National Organizations with Anti-Gun Policies” on the website of the Institute for Legislative Action — the lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association — are common, but just seldom made public. It seems rather Nixonian, to be honest. Who keeps an enemies list any more?
The list includes not only organizations but companies and individuals who have in some way publicly endorsed gun regulation, whether as a member of the Brady Campaign or just chattin’. And 14 editorial cartoonists make the cut. Alan Gardner helpfully pulls them out: Tony Auth, Steve Benson, Jim Borgman, Stuart Carlson, Mike Lane, Mike Luckovich, Jimmy Margulies, Jim Morin, Mike Peters, Kevin Siers, Ed Stein, Tim Toles, Garry Trudeau and Don Wright.
Publishing| Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso talks about bringing more Latino characters — and more diversity in general — to the Marvel lineup: “People out there reading our comic books are of all sizes, creeds and colors and it’s our responsibility to make them feel included. This isn’t some PC initiative, this is capitalism. This is about supply and demand.” [Fox News Latino]
Creators | Grant Morrison discusses winding up his run on Action Comics: “Symbolically I’m not a big fan of dealing with politics in superhero comics because I think it diminishes both sides of the argument, but I do have my own take on things. I’ve got my own politics and so they do tend to find their way in. And really for me, its more symbolic, the way story winds up to tackle all those issues and looks at them through the perspective of Superman and Red Kryptonite and weirdness. So it’s gone underground. I think the early Superman was very much more aligned with the anti-establishment, anti-authoritarian current, because I think when Superman started out that he was what entered into.” [Comics Alliance]
Whether due to use-it-or-lose-it legal concerns about trademarks, or simply to remind everyone of exactly what it owns, DC Comics has come up with a variety of ways to recycle old titles, ranging from the 1997 Tangent event to the anthologies Mystery in Space and Ghosts to the short-lived National Comics revival.
This week the company brought back Young Romance, the title of the Joe Simon/Jack Kirby-created comic that was published from 1947 to 1975, as a Valentine’s Day special featuring a half-dozen stories of romance in the New 52 DC Universe.
An interesting mix of creators are involved, an interesting enough mix to merit a look at what they might do with some of these characters and couples in eight pages. So join me for mini-reviews of every story in Young Romance: The New 52 Valentine’s Day Special.
Showing one more way the grass is alwasy greener on the other side, American okatu Ryan Sands has uncovered a great Japanese reality-show competition that’s begging for an American equivalent: Each week on the NHK series Renman, two professional artists are pitted against each other in a contest/jam piece on the same sheet of paper. In the Jan. 6 episode, Hell Baby manga-ka Hideshi Hino went up against Drifting Classroom‘s Kazuo Umezu. Here’s the artwork they created:
It’s getting close to that time of the year when the assorted nerds of Earth have to make grand gestures to their significant others, in order to remind them that we’re worth holding onto, despite us insisting on filling the attic with longboxes full of musty old copies of Teen Titans. And what could be grander than these Valentine’s Day card designs by PJ McQuade? You may already be familiar with the Brooklyn illustrator’s Star Wars-themed Christmas cards, but he’s now branching out into that most
cynical romantic of holidays. Maybe he’ll keep rolling these out for every upcoming festivity — I dread to think of what he could come up with for St. Patrick’s Day.
McQuade also produced a couple of great Star Wars tribute prints for the recent show Gadgets and Gizmos at Brooklyn’s pop-culture specialists the Bottleneck Gallery. I love this relic-ed box art for a Dejarik Holochess board game that never was. Let the Wookiee win!