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The Avengers do Black Friday in webcomic by Sairobee


Black Friday has come and gone, and whether you were one of those who waited in line or simply scoffed at those who did, you’ll surely get a kick out of this great one-off comic strip by a storyboard artist known online as Sairobee. In this one-page strip, titlted “Happy Belated Black Friday, Y’All!”, the Los Angeles-based artist depicts an engaging and imaginative scenario: What if the Avengers went to Black Friday?

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Oni Press to release a second volume of ‘Bad Machinery’

bad machinery-v2Oni Press has announced it will publish a second collection of John Allison’s acclaimed webcomic Bad Machinery in March.

Launching in September 2009 in the wake of Allison’s previous comic Scary Go Round, the mystery/comedy centers on two groups of schoolchildren in fictional Tackleford, England, who compete to solve mysteries in their West Yorkshire town.

Released in April, Bad Machinery, Vol. 1: The Case of the Team Spirit, was named by Publishers Weekly as one of the best children’s books of 2013. The webcomic also won the British Comics Award last year for Best Comic.

Bad Machinery, Vol. 2: The Case of the Good Boy collects the 2010 story involving a curious pet “dog.”

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Modern Tales founder Joey Manley passes away

joey manley2Joey Manley, founder of the pioneering webcomics site Modern Tales, passed away last night in a Louisville, Kentucky, hospital due to complications from pneumonia. According to his longtime partner Joe Botts, he was surrounded by family and friends. Manley was 48.

A publisher, editor, podcaster and author, Manley launched Modern Tales in March 2002, establishing one of the first workable (and profitable) subscription models for webcomics. He soon spun off Serializer, an alternative-comics site originally edited by Tom Hart; Girlamatic, a female targeted site initially edited by Lea Hernandez; Graphic Smash, the action comics site; and Webcomics Nation, a webcomics-hosting service.

The collective “Modern Tales family,” which closed in April, had published work by such creators as Gene Luen Yang, James Kochalka, Howard Cruse, Chris Onstad, Shaenon Garrity and Dylan Meconis, among many others.

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A little Halloween reading: Emily Carroll’s ‘Out of Skin’

out of skin

We’ve been fans of Emily Carroll‘s haunting webcomics for a few years now, dating back to at least 2010 and her nightmarish tale “His Face All Red,” and continuing with “Margot’s Room.” And now, just in time for Halloween, we’re treated to another: “Out of Skin,” a chilling tale that begins with a woman discovering a half-dozen bodies in a pit in the woods, and ends with … well, you’ll have to read it for yourself.

(via Becky Cloonan)

Josh Neufeld wades into Red Hook with ‘SuperStorm Stories’


Cartoonist Josh Neufeld is no stranger to calamity. His best-known work, A.D.: New Orleans After The Deluge, saw him working as a comics journalist telling the stories of survivors of Hurricane Katrina in the wreckage of the the Big Easy. And now he’s back, telling a story closer to home in SuperStorm Stories: A Red Hook Family for Medium‘s comic blog The NibSerialized in two parts, Neufeld’s comic depicts the remembrances of a Red Hook family of three talking about how their house was flooded during Sandy.

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Gedris taking ‘Lesbian Pirates’ offline, offers advice to creators

lesbianpiratesfromouterspaceCartoonist Megan Rose Gedris has announced her long-running webcomic I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space will be taken offline on Nov. 5 due to her desire to break ties with rights holders Platinum Studios.

“This is by my own choice, a very difficult choice,” Gedris wrote on her blog. “As you may or may not know, the rights to LPFOS were bought by Platinum Studios in 2006. In the years since I first became involved with them, more and more of their shady practices have been revealed, to the point where I can’t be involved with them in any capacity anymore. I tried to get the rights back through many different avenues, but there is nothing I can do.”

Platinum acquired the rights to Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space around 2007, and in her post, Gedris proceeds to outline her frustration and problems with the publisher over the six years following the completion of one small print run. Her decision to remove the comic completely from the Internet stems from her feeling of “being taken advantage of” by Platinum Studios by continuing to work on the comic.

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A little Halloween reading: Agnes Quill in ‘Left Behind’


Somehow I nearly missed that, just in time for Halloween, Dave Roman and Jason Ho have been serializing a new Agnes Quill story, “Left Behind.”

If you’ve never read the webcomic, you’re in for a treat:  The title character is a teen detective who lives in Legerdemain, a fog-filled Victorian city built around an enormous cemetery the size of New York’s Central Park. There, Agnes grapples regularly with trapped spirits, zombies, cursed souls and the like. In “Left Behind,” she takes a much-needed vacation, only to discover that supernatural menaces aren’t confined to the city limits.

Agnes’ earlier adventures were collected in 2006 by SLG Publishing for a print edition called Agnes Quill: An Anthology of Mystery. If you like “Left Behind” and want to read more, the book is still in print.

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TV isn’t ready for ‘Achewood’ (yet), but Onstad pushes forward


Achewood devotees were excited in February when cartoonist Chris Onstad revealed on his rarely updated blog that he was heading to Los Angeles to pitch an animated series based on his incredibly popular webcomic. Unfortunately, the network meetings didn’t go well — but Onstad remains undeterred. In fact, he says he was reinvigorated by the experience.

“A couple places seemed interested, but there is a lot of hokum and jive in the process of shopping a TV show,” he explains to The Verge. “Most networks have a shopping list for the season, or a format they’re already looking for — we didn’t fit any of them this time around.”

Yes, “this time around”: Onstad and his collaborators are going back to the drawing board, developing a new pitch.

“I don’t think we nailed the tone and humor of Achewood by any means,” he says. “I’m excited to write version two, knowing what I know now about how all that work, all those actors, engineers, and producers come together, which is a hell of a lot.”

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Grumpy Cat made off (and made money) with Kate Beaton’s joke

grumpy catOn an Internet whisker-deep in cat photos, cat videos and cat memes, Grumpy Cat is the indisputable king — or, rather, queen, as the peevish feline is actually a female named Tardar Sauce. She has her own meme manager, her own book, her own book tour, a litter-pan full of web awards, a movie deal and a company valued at $1 million.

Out of all of that, strangely enough, “meme manager” may give the most pause. (Or is that paws?) Ben Lashes, former frontman for the band Lashes, is profiled, along with his client, in the latest issue of New York magazine, where we learn how he transformed Grumpy Cat from a single link into a furry little industry. (Did we mention the Friskies deal, the coffee line, the plush toys and the T-shirts?)

Among the most popular shirts, Gawker points out, is one that combines a photo of Grumpy Cat with the caption “I HAD FUN ONCE/IT WAS AWFUL,” which, after a stop off at Reddit, where it became attached to the feline, actually originated with cartoonist Kate Beaton’s popular webcomic Hark! A Vagrant! Gawker, which concluded that the best way to get rich from memes is to “steal other memes,” contacted Beaton for her take.

“No, I never authorized anything. And some people will argue that I never wrote the joke, that it’s ‘been around forever,’ she tells the website. “But I made a comic, and one panel became a meme, and that’s fine. The nature of a joke is to take on a life of its own. At some point, the meme was applied to Grumpy Cat, where it fit well. It is only how Grumpy Cat is aggressive about protecting their brand with that joke as part of it that has ever rubbed me the wrong way.”

Indeed, the New York article makes a point of how diligently the people making money from Grumpy Cat police uses of her likeness. “No one’s a chump,” Lashes tells the magazine. “We’ve got a saying over here in team meme: ‘Respect the cat.’ ”

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Spam comic turns out not to be a spam comic after all

Final comic

Ripples of shock went through a certain portion of the Twitter/Tumblr/webcomics world Tuesday with the revelation, delivered by Susan Orlean at The New Yorker, that the @Horse_eBooks Twitter is not spam after all, but rather a work of conceptual art. The news also spelled the end of the webcomic based on that Twitter account, Horse_eComics. And a couple of sharp observers just earned some extra coolness points for catching on two years ago that something was off about the whole thing.

@Horse_ebooks was originally, as the name suggests, the Twitter for an e-bookstore that specialized in horses, one of about 170 spam Twitter accounts maintained by a Russian entrepreneur, let’s call him, named Alexei Kouznetsov. In January 2012, John Herrman wrote a post explaining how @Horse_eBooks worked: Some of the tweets were links to accounts on Clickbank, an affiliate marketing site, while the others were random bits of text that were basically there to fool the Twitter spam detectors.

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Young & Madrigal’s ‘Here We Go!’ celebrates stories and moms


We’ve featured writer Jesse Young‘s comics a couple of times on Robot 6, first with his and Ha Huy Hoang’s DCU-baseball tale “Sunday at the Park,” and again with “Surprise, Surprise!,” the story he and George Kambadais created about Spider-Man’s interrupted birthday.

In “Here We Go!,” Young and artist Anwar Madrigal pull from a different kind of inspiration than DC and Marvel comics. Based on a lovely drawing by Aleksi Rokka of a mother and son, the team (with letterer Thomas Mauer) puts together a story about a single mom who encourages her child through imaginary adventures that they create together. It’s a lovely tribute, not only to motherhood but to storytelling. And although it features aliens, dinosaurs and pirate monkeys, it has an emotional kick at the end.

Check out the first seven pages below, then hit Young’s website for the rest.

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Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. branches out into webcomics


Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc., the company founded by the creator of Tarzan and still run by his family, has begun publishing webcomics based on six of the author’s most famous creations. Roy Thomas and Tom Grindberg (who have been producing the Tarzan comic strips since 2012) continue creating new stories featuring the ape man, while Chuck Dixon and Tom Lyle explore the Earth’s Core world of Pellucidar. Writer Martin Powell is joined by four different artists on the remaining series: Carson of Venus (with Thomas Floyd and Diana Leto), The Eternal Savage (with Steven E. Gordon), The Cave Girl (with Diana Leto), and The War Chief (with Nik Poliwko).

The ERB Inc. website has samples of each series for free, and readers can then subscribe to all six for $1.99 a month. Each series updates weekly, so that’s about 24 pages for just $2; a great deal.

I had some questions about the initiative, so I contacted Powell, who was extremely helpful. For one thing, these webcomics don’t affect Dark Horse, which still holds the license for printed Tarzan comics. He also explained why there’s no series for John Carter: “I originally auditioned for John Carter of Mars, but Disney/Marvel still has a hold on it. Still, ERB Inc. was apparently impressed enough that they offered me Carson of Venus and allowed me to assemble my own art team, which I’ve done for my other four ERB comic strips as well. So, you could say in a sense that I am Carson … we both aimed at Mars and ended up on Venus!”

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David Lasky draws ‘The Ultimate Batman Comic’


David Lasky (Urban HipsterDon’t Forget This Song) created a strip he calls “The Ultimate Batman Comic,” and he’s pretty much right. If Bill Finger and Bob Kane had known then what we know now, Detective Comics #27 would’ve been 14 panels long — all of which you can read on Lasky’s Flickr account.

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Webcomic find: ‘The Adventures of Painless Parker’


Hey, who wants to read a webcomic about a 19th-century dentist? Wait, let me try again: Who wants to read a webcomic about a 19th-century dentist who wore a necklace made of teeth he had extracted, once treated an elephant for an abscessed tusk, and had his name legally changed from “Edgar” to “Painless” to evade regulations on false advertising?

That’s more like it!

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Exclusive: ‘PhD Comics’ arrives on Tapastic


Jorge Cham’s PhD Comics takes a wry look at the vagaries of life in academia, mostly from the point of view of a handful of long-suffering graduate students. He also has a feature, “Two Minute Thesis,” in which he summarizes real research in a comic or video; it’s sort of the comics equivalent of a TED Talk. It has built quite a following over the years (as a former grad student, and the wife, daughter and sister of college professors, I find it irresistible), so it’s big news that Cham is bringing PhD Comics to the webcomics site Tapastic. Or, part of it: PhD Comics will continue to run on its regular schedule on its original site, and Tapastic will carry a curated selection of Cham’s strips. I talked to Cham about PhD Comics, and the Tapastic move, and he drew a special cartoon just for us as well!

Robot 6: How long have you been drawing PhD Comics, and how did you get started with it?

Jorge Cham: I’ve been drawing PhD now for almost 16 years (!). It started as a hobby at first, as a way to procrastinate from my studies. I saw an ad in the student newspaper at Stanford University, where I was going for grad school, calling for submissions for their comics page. My brother suggested there should be a comic about grad school because they are usually ignored on campus, so on a lark I sent in some samples. At the time, I had a full course load and was working two jobs teaching and doing research, but it really seemed like something that needed to be done. Grad school had been a really intense, often bizarre, ego-crushing experience for me, and I had found it really useful to learn that others were going through the same thing, so it seemed important to record it and share it with the world.

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