Webcomics Archives - Page 2 of 3 - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources
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.”
On 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.’ ”
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.
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.
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!”
David Lasky (Urban Hipster, Don’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.
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!
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.
Inspired by R. Sikoryak and Art Spiegleman’s Narrative Corpse, The Unsinkable Walker Bean creator Aaron Renier started The Infinite Corpse, a “chain” webcomic in which various creators tell the story of a skeleton’s crazy adventures by building off the three panels of the cartoonist who preceded them. The chains aren’t exactly linear, with the final website being more of a “choose your own adventure” story with branches going off in different directions.
“Each additional artist became a branch off of the original group … until it just became a fog of story lines a gigantic 205 artists were included when the website went live,” Renier explained on his blog. “And now, only a few months later we have over a hundred new artists sending in art. It’s open to submissions, just like the dry erase comic. It’s open to everyone who wants to do it. And open to all of those who already have gone before.”
Shiftylook, Namco Bandai’s webcomics venture, has inked a deal with Homestuck creator Andrew Hussie to create a dating-sim game, Namco High, that will allow players to mix and match characters from the different Namco Bandai games in a high-school environment.
There’s a pleasing symmetry to this alliance: Homestuck is a webcomic designed to look like an old computer game, complete with a cheesy home page that would be right at home on Geocities, and Shiftylook is a webcomics site that commissions writer-artist teams to make webcomics about characters from vintage Namco Bandai games from the 1980s and 1990s. I talked to the Shiftylook brass about their strategy at New York Comic Con; basically the idea is to build up a following for the characters and then bring them into other media, such as games and music.
As it did last year, Shiftylook set up shop across the street from the San Diego Convention Center for Comic-Con and offered an arcade where visitors could play Namco Bandai games for free. There was also an Adventure Time booth, selling merchandise from the popular animated and comics series, and a Homestuck booth, where Hussie himself made an appearance to sign autographs.
Oliver Twist meets Occupy Wall Street. That’s the most succinct way to describe the burgeoning comic series Bowery Boys by Ian Bertram and Cory Levine, and after years of it being hinted at online it’s now found a soapbox to tell its story: online for free.
Last week, the duo announced it will serialize the Bowery Boys graphic novel with three pages a week online at BoweryBoysComic.com beginning July 4. Described as “A New York Story,” Bowey Boys is set in 1850s Manhattan, where a group of young men try to reach the brass ring of the American Dream but face obstacles such as political corruption, street gangs, labor unions and rampant racism. At the center of this is Nikolaus McGovern, the only son for a God-fearing union leader who’s in deep over laborer’s rights, and the paths he crosses with politicians, businessmen and entrepreneurs. But in addition to that story, a big draw here is the art by Ian Bertram, a recent graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York.
Here’s a four-page sample of Bowery Boys:
Megatokyo blasted into the manga/webcomics scene in 2000 and quickly became established as one of the first successful non-Japanese manga — so successful that it was translated and published in Japan. The story of two clueless American otaku who go to Tokyo on a whim and have a series of increasingly absurd encounters with the locals, the webcomic picked up a following during the manga boom and apparently never lost it: Creator Fred Gallagher’s Kickstarter to make a visual novel version of Megatokyo has raised more than $130,000 (at this writing, it is at an evil 666 percent of the original $20,000 goal) in less than a week.
And in the Kickstarter pitch, Gallagher has another bit of news for Megatokyo fans: Dark Horse will publish an omnibus edition of the first three volumes later this year.
Do we need to start worrying about Cameron Stewart? Sure, he’s young, good-looking and incredibly talented, but he’s posted some autobiographical comics that suggest he’s heading rapidly toward a quarter-life crisis. They’re getting a lot of reblogs on Tumblr: predictably enough, the home of the “selfie” is going mad for a strip taking the mick out of the phenomena. As Stewart has drolly noted in his Twitter feed, “… so rewarding when the thing you draw mindlessly in 10 minutes is 1000 times more popular than anything you sweated over.”
Stewart will be at this weekend’s 2D Festival in Derry, Northern Ireland: Perhaps everybody there should give him a reassuring pat on the back, buy him a drink, and tell him it’s all going to be all right. Meanwhile, check out more of Stewart’s recent autobiographical comics binge below.
As part of its upfront presentations Monday in New York City, Fox screened a new trailer for Axe Cop, an adaptation of the hit webcomic by brothers Malachai Nicolle and Ethan Nicolle premiering July 27 as part of the network’s new late-night animated programming block.
If you’ve read the source material, or watched any of the previous teasers, you pretty much know what you’re in for with Axe Cop, although this trailer features Parks and Recreation‘s Nick Offerman offering some wisdom for the ages: “I want you to listen very carefully: There is something even better than friends — killing the guy who killed your friends.”
Part of Animation Domination High-Def, Axe Cop also features the voice talents of Megan Mullally, Patton Oswalt, Ken Marino and Peter Serafinowicz. ADHD premieres Saturday, July 27 at 11 p.m. ET/PT.
For nearly two years, Greg Rucka and Rick Burchett the high-flying adventures of Lady Seneca Sabre in their twice-weekly webcomic, and now they’re looking to bring their special blend of steampunk, magic and the Wild West to print. To that end, the duo has launched a Kickstarter campaign to publish the first five chapters of Lady Sabre & The Pirates of the Ineffable Aether in a 192-page hardcover collection.
Mere hours into the drive and they’re nearly halfway toward the $27,500 they need to pay for their initial 2,000-copy print run, plus shipping, Kickstarter fees, etc. So odds are, this project is going to get funded. Their pledge tiers a pretty reasonable, too, which may help to explain the campaign’s speedy progress; for instance, $30 gets you a copy of the book. Additional incentives include keychains, bookplates, an inscription from Brian Michael Bendis, and dinner at HeroesCon with the creators.
There’s a lot more information on the Kickstarter page. The campaign ends June 5.