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Makoto Yukimura’s Viking manga Vinland Saga landing in October

There was once a time where the idea of a comic in the U.S. market about Vikings seemed like wishful thinking, but then Brian Wood broke the ice with Northlanders at Vertigo. And now Kodanasha Comics is pushing even further October with the North American release of Vinland Saga, the celebrated Viking epic from Planetes creator Makato Yukimura.

Set in the 1000s, the series follows a group of Danish Vikings in England, with Yukimura blending history and fiction for a rollicking adventure.

Debuting in 2005 in Weekly Shōnen Magazine, Vinland Saga has released more than 80 chapters, and has been collected in Japan in nearly a dozen graphic novels.

For years American readers and pundits have been pining for an English translation, with The Comics Journal‘s Dirk Deppey openly endorsing reading scanlations in the absence of an official English-language release.

But come Oct. 8 that will all change with the arrival of the 460-page Book One, which not only collects the first two volumes of Vinland Saga but also marks the first hardcover from Kodansha Comics. The $19.99 U.S. edition, which boasts a larger trim size, also includes a new Q&A with Yukimura, Viking cosplay photos (because, why not?), and the first installment of “For Our Farewell Is Near,” an unreleased Yukimura story that will be serialized throughout the books.

Sean Galloway, Gurihiru & others launch Gumshoes 4 Hire Kickstarter

The Kickstarter campaign for Franco Aureliani and Art Baltazar Aw Yeah Comics! received widespread and immediate attention, rocketing the series past its $15,000 goal on the very first day. However, a drive for another terrific-looking all-ages project by established creators kicked off last week without that level of publicity.

Gumshoes 4 Hire brings together Sean “Cheeks” Galloway, Kevin Hopps, Gurihiru and DJ Welch for a comic about a group of friends that investigates seemingly petty crimes only to discover the real cause of the troubles in the town of The Cliffs may be the fabled Curse of the Wendigoes.

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Comics A.M. | Siegel & Shuster heirs fight DC’s interference claim

Superman

Legal | In the aftermath of last month’s ruling that DC Comics retains full rights to Superman, the heirs of creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster are urging federal judge to dismiss claims that their lawyer interfered with the publisher’s copyright to the character. DC sued attorney Marc Toberoff in May 2010, accusing him impeding a 1992 copyright agreement with the heirs by striking overriding deals with them in 2001 and 2003. The families insist the publisher filed its claims two years too late, as the statute of limitations expired in 2008. [Law360]

Webcomics | Malicious hackers hit the Blind Ferret servers last week, and they didn’t just wipe out the websites that host Least I Could Do, Girls with Slingshots and other high-profile webcomics — they also wiped out the backups. Gary Tyrell has the story and advises creators to have multiple backups in multiple locations. [Fleen]

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Exclusive: STAPLE! announces lineup for March 2-3 expo

Organizers of STAPLE! The Independent Media Expo have provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive first look at the details for their ninth annual event, held March 2-3 at the Marchesa Hall & Theater in Austin, Texas. Billed as the premier indie-comics convention in the Southwest, STAPLE! showcases a range of performers, exhibitors and artists, with an emphasis this year on independent table-top gaming, web TV, animation and pop-culture podcasting.

The announced panelists are: comics creators James O’Barr, Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson; veteran game designers Jason Morningstar, Jeff Dee and Marc Majcher; web TV icons Danni Danger, Sara Reihani and Jessica Mills; animators Dax Norman, Kyle Sullivan, Bill Byrne and Mongrel Studio Productions; and podcasters Geek Bombast, Chris Cox, Martin Thomas, The League of Extremely Ordinary Gentlemen and The Random Access Web TV Podcast. See the panelist biographies below. A full list of exhibitors can be found on the STAPLE! website.

The event, and its official “Live Art Show” after-party, also will feature performances by the macabre musical troupe After Midnight, nerdcore hip-hop artist Bad Barry, DJ LD and chiptune artist Run/DMG.

Two-day passes can be purchased for $15 from the Marchesa Hall & Theater website, or at the door.

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They took the words right out of my mouth: DC certifies its WTF status

DC Comics announced last week that its April superhero comics will be “WTF Certified,” presumably because the month kicks off with April Fool’s Day. In doing so, the publisher made itself the easiest of targets for snide remarks. Let’s take a quick sample of the ones I found in just a five-minute search:

  • “[A]n all-too-apt description of the current state of the publishing company” — The AV Club’s Oliver Sava
  • “I am looking forward to ‘MILF March’ featuring all the superheroes’ mothers” — Mike Sterling
  • “DC has the ability to sell comics to literally anyone with an internet connection now. It’d be nice if their tenor reflected that.” — Kevin Church
  • “The company announced that all 52 of its mainstream titles would have a ‘WTF Certified’ stamp on it, presumably as a wink to fans who have been wondering what the fuck has been going on at DC.” — Outhousers.com
  • “This is not a hoax, not an imaginary story, but a certified edgy promotion! The covers are gatefolds, with the “What the” part on the front and the ‘fuck’ part on the inside.” — Heidi MacDonald
  • “Remember how DC is having their mature and genteel ‘WTF Month,’ where the cover is supposed to fold out and make you swear in shock and exasperation … and if children still read DC comics, presumably get your mouth washed out with soap?” — Todd Allen
  • “I thought every month was WTF month at DC?” — about  one-fifth of everyone leaving a comment beneath an online article on the subject

It’s not that weird for DC Comics (or, to be fair, arch-rival Marve), to occasionally be metaphorically walking around with a “Kick Me” sign on its metaphorical back, but it is pretty weird for DC to affix the sign itself  and make such a big, aggressive show of pointing it out to everyone.

So let’s get to kicking them, I guess. But where to start? With the name of the event, naturally.

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Former investigator accused of stealing comics from defendant

Detective Comics #27

You may recall the story of Anthony Chiofalo, a corporate attorney accused of embezzling $9.3 million from his Texas employer and then spending a sizable chunk of that money on high-priced collectibles, including a copy of Detective Comics #27 worth $900,000.

Well, now that story has another chapter — one starring a former investigator for the Harris County District Attorney’s office who appeared today in federal court on charges that he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Chiofalo’s seized comic books and attempted to sell them.

The Houston Chronicle reports Lonnie Blevins was arrested following a lengthy federal investigation into accusations into items that disappeared following a raid on Chiofalo’s home and storage units. Blevins is accused of stealing dozens of the vintage comic books, possibly worth more than $1 million.

“There were so many, they just decided to take a few,” Chiofalo’s attorney Paul Doyle told the newspaper. “Talk about a breach of trust.” He plans to file a motion to dismiss based on misconduct.

Chiofalo’s other collectibles included a boxing robe worn by Muhammad Ali, a signed first edition of The Godfather and a baseball helmet signed by Pete Rose. Presumably they’re safe and sound.

Food or Comics? | Snapple or Snapshot

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Snapshot #1

Graeme McMillan

It’s a busy week at the store for me, it seems. If I had $15 this week, I’d pick up Harbinger #0 (Valiant, $3.99), the one-shot revealing the backstory of the surprisingly compelling relaunch/reboot of the 1990s series, as well as the first issues of Fearless Defenders (Marvel, $2.99) and Snapshot (Image, $2.99). The latter, I’ve already read in its Judge Dredd Megazine serialization, but I’m really curious to see if it reads differently in longer chapters; the former, I’m just hopeful for, given the high concept and involvement of Cullen Bunn.

If I had $30, I’d add the reissued 7 Miles A Second HC (Fantagraphics, $19.99) to my pile. I remember reading the original Vertigo version of this in the 1990s, and am definitely curious to see what this recolored edition, with pages restored after being cut from the Vertigo edition, is like.

Splurging, I find myself drawn to IDW’s Doctor Who Omnibus, Vol. 1 ($29.99). I blame the lack of new Doctor Who on the television right now. That month-and-a-bit is far too long to wait …!

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Jazan Wild asks Ninth Circuit to reinstate Heroes lawsuit

Carnival of Souls #1

Comics creator Jazan Wild on Monday asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to revive his $60 million copyright-infringement lawsuit against NBC Universal and the producers of Heroes, arguing that a trial judge shouldn’t have thrown out his claims nearly two years ago.

Wild (aka Jason Barnes) sued the network and Tim Kring’s Tailwind Productions in May 2010, accusing them of stealing the “carnival of lost souls and outcasts” depicted in the fourth season of the drama from his 2005-2006 comic series Jazan Wild’s Carnival of Souls. In his original complaint, he laid out numerous side-by-side comparisons that he contends prove the TV show’s traveling carnival is “virtually identical” to the one in his comic series.

But in May 2011, U.S. District Judge Gary Allen Feess determined that Heroes and Carnival of Souls “differ markedly in mood and setting, and weren’t substantially similar works, and therefore Wild had failed to prove his claim for copyright infringement. In Wild’s appeal, he insisted the judge erred by using too rigorous of a test to determine infringement, arguing that the wide availability of his comic meant he had to meet a lower standard of proof.

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Art Baltazar and Franco take Aw Yeah Comics! to Kickstarter

If the cancellation of DC Comics’ Superman Family Adventures has left you a little deflated, take heart: Longtime collaborators Franco Aureliani and Art Baltazar are turning to Kickstarter to launch their Aw Yeah Comics!, an “all-reader friendly” series with contributions from established and new talents alike, including Mark Waid, Brad Meltzer, Chris Roberson and Jason Aaron. The series was originally announced in July.

The comic, which stars Baltazar and Franco’s Action Cat and Adventure Bug, is designed to appeal to children and adults alike: “Our hope is to present a comic book that has just as much to offer a little girl as it does a little boy, and leave absolutely no one out of the fun. Because fun is important. Fun is a good thing for a comic book to have, and we want to add a little bit more of it to what’s out there now.”

Aw Yeah Comics!, which shares its name with the duo’s Skokie, Illinois, store, will debut in April with Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo. According to the Kickstarter page, work on the first three issues is about 80 percent complete, while issues four through six are at about 60 percent. To help reach their $15,000 goal, they’re offering pledge incentives like an exclusive digital comic, an original mini-painting by Baltazar, a guest appearance by a donor’s own character, and a cover by Franco for a donor’s comic book.

The Kickstarter campaign ends March 7.

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Rare original Calvin and Hobbes strip goes up for auction

Three months after an original 1986 Sunday installment of Calvin and Hobbes, drawn and hand-colored by Bill Watterson, sold for $203,150, another original strip is going on the auction block.

Like the previous piece, this daily strip was part of a 1986 swap between Watterson and Adam@Home and Red and Rover cartoonist Brian Bassett. However, The Daily Cartoonist notes that while Bassett sold the other original to help with the expenses of a divorce and upcoming marriage, this one is being offered by his ex-wife Linda through Heritage Auctions (both are signed by Watterson to Brian and Linda).

The strip, part of Heritage’s Feb. 21-23 Vintage Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction in New York City, has already garnered a top online/telephone bid of $15,000. The company cautions, “We know you’ve heard us say this before, but consider this a rare opportunity that may not be repeated for a long time to come. We have no more Watterson Calvin originals ‘waiting in the wings’ to trot out next time around.”

See the full strip below.

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Comics A.M. | Radical raises $3 million for digital, licensing

Radical Studios

Publishing | Radical Studios has secured $3 million in its first round of fundraising to further develop its catalog, expanding its digital publishing efforts and licensing capabilities. The publisher, which ultimately hopes to raise $9.5 million, has two comic-book adaptations in development at major studios: Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise, at Universal Pictures, and Hercules: The Thracian Wars, starring Dwayne Johnson, at Universal Pictures. [Variety]

Retailing | Dave and Adam’s Card World, billed as the largest online seller of baseball cards, has branched out, with an eye toward becoming the largest online seller of vintage comic books by 2014. “We were somewhat shocked and surprised that vintage comic books are more popular than vintage baseball cards. As a card collector, that just hurts,” c0-founder and CEO Adam Martin joked. [Lockport Union-Sun & Journal]

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Quote of the Day | The dearth of black writers at the Big Two

Reginald Hudlin's final issue of Black Panther

“This is the first week of Black History Month, a four-week celebration and remembrance of the significant events and people of the African diaspora. For many, myself included, it’s a month to reflect on where we’ve been, as a people and as a nation, and to contemplate exactly where it is we’re going. In terms of the comic book industry, an obvious interest and passion of mine, there is one glaring and sobering fact that needs our attention: There is currently not a single black writer working on a monthly series for either of the two biggest comic book publishers in the United States, and precious few working for any of the others.”

Joe Hughes of ComicsAlliance, delivering an eye-opening assessment of the lack of black writers at DC Comics and Marvel

Comic Book Resources columnist Hannibal Tabu points out that Marvel hasn’t had a black writer since Reginald Hudlin’s tenure ended on Black Panther in 2009. What’s more, “With Dark Horse Presents, Dark Horse has paid more black people in comics in the last year or so than DC and Marvel have done in many, many years.”

Spain Rodriguez and Mort Meskin chosen for Eisner Hall of Fame

Spain Rodriguez

As online voting opens for the 2013 Will Eisner Comic Awards Hall of Fame, the judges have selected late Golden Age artist Mort Meskin (Vigilante, Wildcat) and late underground cartoonist Spain Rodriguez (Trashman) for automatic induction.

In addition, they’ve named 13 nominees, from which voters will select four to be inducted in July during Comic-Con International. The nominees are:

  • Marjorie Henderson Buell (aka Marge), late creator of Little Lulu
  • Howard Cruse, creator of the acclaimed Stuck Rubber Baby
  • Lee Falk, late creator of The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician
  • Bud Fisher, late creator of the pioneering daily strip Mutt and Jeff
  • Bill Griffth, creator of Zippy
  • Al Jaffee, longtime Mad Magazine contributor famed for the “Mad Fold-in”
  • Jesse Marsh,late Golden Age artist known for his work on the Tarzan and Gene Autry comic books
  • Tarpé Mills (aka June Mills), late Golden Age artist best known for Miss Fury, the first female action hero created by a woman
  • Thomas Nast, 19th-century caricaturist and editorial cartoonist known as “the Father of the American Cartoon”
  • Gary Panter, acclaimed illustrator, painter and creator of Jimbo
  • Trina Robbins, influential underground comics writer/artist and co-creator of Vampirella
  • Joe Sinnott, veteran inker who worked on virtually every Marvel title during his 60 years working for the publisher
  • Jacques Tardi, acclaimed writer and artist, and creator of Adèle Blanc-Sec

To vote, you must be a professional working gin the comics or related industries as a creator, a publisher, an editor, a comics store owner or manager, a graphic novels librarian, or a comics historian/educator. Eligible voters can visit EisnerVote.com to select up to four names for the Hall of Fame. The voting deadline is March 4.

The Savaged Hawkman: What latest DC casualty says about New 52

According to recent convention scuttlebutt, DC Comics is apparently canceling its latest Hawkman series, the New 52-launched Savage Hawkman, perhaps as early as May’s Issue 20.

That is not the least bit surprising, really, given the publisher’s historical difficulty in keeping readers interested in Hawkman, and given the way in which the title and the character were served by the line-wide reboot and the accompanying creative-team chaos. It’s too bad, though, given how easily DC could have simply published the sort of Hawkman title the 21st-century super-comic audience would support, rather than The Savage Hawkman.

The series launched in September 2011 along with the other 51 new series comprising DC’s New 52 initiative, featuring a rebooted continuity for the then 71-year-old hero and a redesigned costume featuring more armor and pointed edges (most notably a set of Wolverine-like claws frequently waved in the direction of the reader on the covers). The creative team consisted of artist-turned-writer/artist Tony S. Daniel, who was just handling the writing, and Philip Tan, who was providing the art.

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Watch Paolo Rivera draw a Daredevil cover in 11 minutes

Yes, I realize I just posted something about Paolo Rivera on Friday, but this is too good to pass up: The artist has put together a time-lapse video detailing his process for Daredevil #22 (above). It’s at 20 times the normal speed, compressing three hours of work into just 11 minutes.

“It’s a pretty straight forward time lapse, but there are 3 things that I’d like to point out as you watch,” Rivera writes on his blog. “First, I use reference of my own hand to facilitate the drawing process. This photo is taken on the fly using Photo Booth on my iMac. It’s as easy as using a mirror, but with more options. Second, I employ a digital perspective template of my own design for the background. It’s extremely useful, but has a steep learning curve — I plan on releasing it to the public later this year. Lastly, toward the end of the video, you can see that I had trouble with Daredevil’s legs as he’s scaling Stilt-Man’s serpentine legs. The cover as a whole went pretty smoothly, but it took me a long time to find a pose for him that didn’t look totally awkward to me. Spidey, on the other hand, was a breeze — characters who are flying/falling are always easier to draw since they don’t have to interact with any other entities.”

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