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Dark Horse announces artist line-up for ‘The Sakai Project’ benefit book

The Sakai Project

The Sakai Project

Dark Horse Comics has announced the impressive list of artists who have contributed to The Sakai Project: Artists Celebrate Thirty Years of Usagi Yojimbo, the oversized hardcover benefit book for Stan and Sharon Sakai.

All proceeds from the book will go to the couple to help pay for the medical expenses of Sharon Sakai, who suffers from a debilitating illness that required an extended hospital stay and convalescence, followed by 24-hour home care and medications. The Comic Art Professional Society, which spearheaded a series of auctions to benefit the Sakais, is working in conjunction with Dark Horse to produce the book. The auctions are ongoing and can be found on the organization’s eBay page.

You can find the complete list of artists, along with the page number where their art will appear, below. The 160-page book will be released next Wednesday in comic shops and at Comic-Con International in San Diego, and will cost $29.99.

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The Fifth Color | Speculation junction, what’s your function?

avengers nowWe’re less than a week away from Comic-Con International, and that means announcements from major publishers are coming in early to jockey for position before the masses gather in sunny San Diego. Marvel struck hard with big changes debuting on major media outlets, leading to your grandma knowing what’s coming up in the pages of Thor.

It’s a weird world we live in these days.

On The View, Whoopi Goldberg announced there will be a woman taking over the mantle of Thor. Marvel’s Ryan Penagos (a far better source for Marvel news, no offense to Goldberg) clarified that this wouldn’t be a more traditional female counterpart, but the actual god of thunder title would pass to a female character. On The Colbert Report, actually a decent and known source for Captain America news, Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada informed Stephen Colbert that she shield will be passed to the Falcon, Cap’s longtime partner Sam Wilson. In fact, Colbert specifically said that the event was tied to the events of Captain America #21 and the rather complicated story line within, which I believe is the first time a recent back issue was ever advertised on a cable TV show.

Superior Iron Man was also announced, indicating a darker outlook and a lighter “Genius Bar”-looking set of armor for Tony Stark, which led everyone from the New York Daily News to MTV to carry stories about what it means.

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‘High Crimes’: mountain of madness

High_Crimes_04-1One upon a time, an entire subcontinent crashed into the largest continent. Tectonic plates collided, sending rocks jutting toward the heavens. Jagged peaks formed formed the Himalayas, and looming higher than any other was Everest. Sir Edmund Hilary famously journeyed to the top of the world, a feat that inspired generations of explorers to believe that no place on Earth is unconquerable. But they’re not always right, for on its icy, windswept cliffs, many an intrepid soul has succumbed to its perils. Everest is a mountain of madness. It’s a mountain … of death.

Christopher Sebela and Ibrahim Moustafa’s Eisner-nominated comic High Crimes (Monkeybrain) follows the thrilling, high-stakes adventure of a lost soul named Suzanne “Zan” Jansen. She was an avid snowboarder until her Olympic dreams were cruelly crushed by an injury. Haunted by failure, her days are spent in an unbreakable cycle of drinking and self-loathing. She ends up involved in a sordid occupation: finding the missing bodies of those who disappeared on climbing expeditions. The dirty work is done by her grizzled, older business partner Haskell, who chops a hand off the dead, then returns to base to have it stored in his freezer. The fingerprints are traced by a corrupt police officer, and the identity lets them know which families to bribe.

One day, Haskell is dealt a bad hand. Literally. It belongs to a decades-old corpse who used to be Sebastian Mars. He’s not just a climber; he’s a person of interest. Inside the severed hand, Zan discovers a capsule containing a rolled-up microfiche of secrets. It turns out that it’s something like the Maltese Falcon: the stuff that dreams are made of, and a thing of extreme value to the wrong kinds of people.

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SDCC | Gilbert Hernandez creates ‘Harbinger’ #25 Liberty Variant

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Fans of Gilbert Hernandez who are attending Comic-Con International next week will probably want to stop by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund booth (#1920). There they’ll find, among other goodies, Valiant’s limited-edition Harbinger #25 SDCC Liberty Variant, featuring a cover by Hernandez.

As if the cover weren’t enough, it’s a 48-page special issue containing work by Joshua Dysart, Khari Evans, Vivek J. Tiwary, Lewis LaRosa, Dan Goldman, Clayton Henry, Justin Jordan, Rafer Roberts, Lucy Knisley and Barry Kitson. Hernandez will be signing copies alongside Dysart, Tiwary and Knisley at noon Saturday, July 26, at the CBLDF booth.

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‘Bandette’: the merry thief for France

21225This year, The Oatmeal dominates the Eisner Best Digital comic category as “the one that most people have heard of.” That’s pretty much in direct contrast to last year, which was populated by five relatively obscure titles. It’s a testament, I think, to the far-reaching diversity of webcomics, where few ever become pop culture superstars but many have devoted fanbase. You had indie-style comics like Ant Comic and It Will All Hurt, the haunting short story Our Bloodstained Roof and the classic Thimble Theater-inspired art of Oyster War.

The eventual winner, though, was the one that most closely resembled a traditional comic. Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover’s Bandette (Monkeybrain Comics) was the first Eisner winner that had to be downloaded from comiXology — a true “digital comic” as opposed to a “webcomic.” I imagine that the familiar panel layout was the one least likely to send traditionalists into paroxysms. Heck, the tone of the story itself feels very much like a throwback to both Silver Age comic stories and European all-ages fare like The Adventures of Tintin. But so what? It’s old school, and in a way that made it refreshingly novel.

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Aaron Lopresti returning to creator-owned with ‘Power Cubed’

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In the litany of announcements, teasers and other media bombarding comics fans, it’s easy for some pieces of news to slip beneath the radar (even for those covering comics such as myself). So when I caught on Aaron Lopresti’s DeviantArt page that he’s working on a creator-owned series, it was news to me — and apparently most everyone else.

Lopresti has spent the past 20-plus years as an in-demand journeyman artist for the likes of DC Comics and Marvel, but now he’s looking for a change. On his DeviantArt blog, he announced he’s working on a new creator-owned series for Dark Horse titled Power Cubed that will make an informal print debut in his 2014 sketchbook, which will be released next week at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

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SDCC | Image Comics reveals convention exclusives

image-warrior chicken

Image Comics has announced a lineup of Comic-Con International exclusives that range from the foil-covered Chew: Chicken Warrior Poyo #1 and the debut of Low to the connecting covers of Manifest Destiny #8 and The Walking Dead #129.

The Image and Skybound releases will be available at the Image booth (#2729), while the Top Cow titles can be found at the Top Cow booth (#2629). Comic-Con kicks off Wednesday with Preview Night and continues through Sunday.

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SDCC | Langridge returns to KaBOOM! for all-ages miniseries

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Although we already knew Roger Langridge is returning to BOOM! Studios for Jim Henson’s The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow, now comes word that the publisher will also debut an original all-ages project from the Eisner-winning cartoonist in December.

“I’m doing this book for BOOM! mainly because they asked me, really,” the Snarked and Muppet Show cartoonist says in the video below. “They asked me if I had some ideas, and they’ve been good to me in the past as far as all-ages material goes — they know how to sell all-ages material, which is what this is.”

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Supreme Court won’t stay Sherlock Holmes copyright ruling

sherlock holmesUnfortunately for the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Case of the Sherlock Holmes Copyrights” hasn’t developed into much of a mystery, as its efforts to prevent many of the stories and characters from lapsing into the public domain have met with one defeat after another.

The latest came Thursday from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kegan, who refused to delay the June 16 decision by the Seventh Circuit that the characters and story elements in the first 50 Sherlock Holmes stories are no longer protected by U.S. copyright, and therefore available for other writers and artists to use and adapt.

Considering those stories were published before Jan. 1, 1923, it might seem obvious that they had lapsed into the public domain in the United States. However, the Doyle estate has long been protective of the lucrative property, insisting that publishers, television networks and film studios pay a licensing fee to use the characters and story elements. Many, including Warner Bros. and CBS, have complied. But Holmes expert Leslie Klinger, who served as a consultant on Guy Richie’s film adaptations, refused to hand over $5,000 while he was assembling In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, a collection of new stories written by different authors. When the Doyle estate sent a letter to the publisher threatening to block sales of the book through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retailers, Klinger sued.

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Comics A.M. | Alcaraz’s ‘Hate City’ cartoons spark legal threat

One of Lalo Alcaraz's cartoons about the protests in Murrieta, California

One of Lalo Alcaraz’s cartoons about the protests in Murrieta, California

Editorial cartoons | The public-relations consultant hired by the city of Murrieta, California, after residents protested the arrival of refugee children to be processed there, told cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz that referring to Murietta as “Hate City USA” was “actionable.” “There IS a fine line between your constitutional right to draw cartoons and expressed (sic) your opinions,” Hermosillo wrote in a comment on Alcaraz’s Facebook page, “and falsely, deliberately, and maliciously labeling and attacking an entire community as racist or as ‘Hate City.’ You are working overtime to damage Murrieta and such a false premise is actionable. There’s a fine line between humor and stupidity. You may have crossed that line at your own peril.” Murrieta spokesperson Kim Davidson walked that back, however, saying the city has no plans to sue Alcaraz. [The Press Enterprise]

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Grumpy Old Fan | In October, DC wants trinities of win

Two Guys, A Girl, And Apocalypse

Two Guys, A Girl, And Apocalypse

Some months the solicitations don’t inspire much in the way of analysis. The superhero serials just sort of chug along, and maybe there’ll be an unusual creative team or an idiosyncratic collection to enliven things. Not so with DC’s October solicitations, which include a number of new series, storylines, and creative changes.

This next bit will sound conspiratorial, but I don’t think it’s an unreasonable supposition. I believe — or at least I would not be surprised to learn — that all these debuts and changes are starting in October because that will give them at least six issues to resolve themselves before the big springtime move to the West Coast. For example, six issues is pretty much the minimum for a collection, so if any of the new series just drop immediately into the sales cellar (I’m looking at you, Klarion; say hi to GI Zombie), DC can still have enough for a trade paperback. That’s not to say a reboot is inevitable next spring — notwithstanding one panel in Robin Rising that should jump-start such talk — but I could see a good bit of the superhero line taking a potential victory lap over the fall and winter.  (Apparently I am not alone in thinking this.)

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SDCC | Mondo debuts ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ album sleeves

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There have been a ton of Batman-related products and announcements in the wind-up to Comic-Con International — you’d think it was his 75th anniversary or something — but few are as cool as this one: Collectible art boutique Mondo is releasing Batman: The Animated Series 7-inch vinyl records featuring Danny Elfman’s theme, with sleeve art by five different artists. Side A is the main title and end credits, and Side B is the end credits, with alternate beginning and alternate ending.

Check out the sleeves below. The records will be available during Comic-Con beginning Wednesday, Preview Night, at the Mondo booth (#835).

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Warner Bros. debuts ‘Teen Titans Go!’ oversized Comic-Con Bag [Updated]

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The massive Comic-Con International bags are back, and Warner Bros. has provided Robot 6 with an exclusive first look at the Teen Titans Go! bag fans can get at this year’s show in San Diego. The bag features Robin, Starfire, Beast Boy, Cyborg and Raven in their chibi-style animated incarnations.

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Celebrating ’75 Years’ of Batman and The Joker

batman 75Batman is celebrating his 75th birthday this year, which may come as a surprise. I mean, look at that smooth, handsome face, or what little of it is visible beneath his cowl. Look at those ripped muscles, or the way he runs across rooftops and beats up criminals — why, Batman doesn’t look a day over 35!

Now just as it did recently for Superman, DC Comics is releasing a pair of hefty, 400-page hardcover collections that serve as a sort of survey for how the character has been portrayed and functioned in the publisher’s comics line during since his first appearance. Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years and The Joker: A Celebration of 75 Years aren’t exactly the comics equivalents of greatest-hits albums, but they are nice starting points for newcomers and/or casual fans, offering quick, compelling overviews of the title characters through the decades.

The Batman volume, featuring Jim Lee’s rendition of the character from the 2003 storyline “Hush” on the dust jacket, must have been particularly challenging to assemble, given the thousands and thousands of pages of Batman comics, featuring dozens of different takes by scores of creators.

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‘The Walking Dead: Season Two’ unveils Episode 4 trailer

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Telltale Games has released the trailer for the penultimate episode of The Walking Dead: Season Two, which will be available beginning July 22.

Based on the comic created by Robert Kirkman,Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard, the episodic role-playing adventure game takes place in the same fictional setting as The Walking Dead. In Episode 3, “Amid the Ruins,” the group — now free of its brutal captor — continues its journey north: “But hunger, violence and death have taken their toll. Simmering conflicts and inevitable changes within the group remind Clementine that danger can come from within, as well as without; she must choose her allies carefully.”

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