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Previews: What Looks Good for April

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

Graeme McMillan

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…

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14 cartoonists make NRA’s ‘anti-gun’ list

This might be why Mike Luckovich made the list

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.

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Comics A.M. | Marvel’s Axel Alonso on rise of Latino superheroes

Miss America Chavez from "Young Avengers"

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]

Passings | Webcomics and minicomics creator Luisa Felix (Candy Blondell) has died at the age of 60. [The Comics Reporter]

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]

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A little about each of the stories in DC’s Young Romance special

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.

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Creators face off in Japanese reality show Renman

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:

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‘Love You I Do': PJ McQuade’s Star Wars-themed Valentine’s cards

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!

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Quote of the Day | The impact of decades of non-diverse superhero comics

“I don’t think Marvel or DC are racist, systemically, nor do I think that anyone there is, either. I am friends with lots of people at both companies and to a person, they’re terrific. Ultimately, people will hire the people that they know and in order to get to know them, you need access to them. I got my access through my day job as a magazine editor in Manhattan. Plus, I’m a dazzling urbanite. But if you’re a black kid living in Detroit or Tampa or Oakland, how do you get that access? How do you know which convention is the best for meeting editors? How do you know which bar to go to?

More importantly, if you’re that black kid (or Hispanic kid or woman of any color) why do you even want to make comics? The end product of decades of stories not told for a diverse audience is this: if the stories are not for you, you won’t read them; and if you don’t read them, why would you want to make them?”

Marc Bernardin, who has written such comics as Static Shock,
The Authority and Wolverine, reflecting on the current discussion about the lack of black writers at Marvel and DC

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


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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