Current Transmissions

The dog says ‘Voff!': James Chapman’s ‘Soundimals’

chapman-how-to-cropped

I’m sad to say I was unfamiliar with cartoonist James Chapman’s Soundimals before he tweeted this helpful primer to sounding like a dog in 14 languages. I plan to remedy that.

Available on his Etsy page, Soundimals: An Illustrated Guide to Animal Sounds in Other Languages is just what the title suggests: 32 pages of Chapman’s too-cute animals demonstrating what sounds they make around the world. In Romanian, the bear says “MOR,” and in Japanese, the elephant says “PAO,” and so on. You can see a selection of the pages on Chapman’s blog.

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Thailand’s Hobbit House is perfect for vacationing halflings

hobbit house1

No one is likely to mistake this for a hole in the ground, but Hobbit devotees looking to continue the experience beyond the trilogy-ending Battle of the Five Armies may want to consider a stay at the Hobbit House in Thailand.

Just two hours from Bangkok, the rental cottage is entirely above ground, but otherwise bears a fairly decent likeness to Bag End, right down to the round green door and earthen roof. Luckily, however, this version has air conditioning and wireless Internet, still unavailable in the Shire, despite Saruman’s efforts to modernize.

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Ivan Brunetti’s Patton Oswalt poster can be yours

patton-oswalt-ivan-brunetti

Patton Oswalt and Ivan Brunetti have a bit of a history, with the comedian writing the foreword to the 2007 collection Ho! The Morally Questionable Cartoons of Ivan Brunetti, and the cartoonist illustrating the cover of his 2009 album My Weakness Is Strong. So for Oswalt’s upcoming show at New York City’s historic Carnegie Hall, he again turned to Brunetti, who created a poster featuring a lineup of comedy legends.

Yeti Press is selling a limited number of those 12-inch by 18-inch posters on its website for $15. Given the popularity of both the comedian and the cartoonist, they probably won’t last long.

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Travel like a New God with DC Collectibles’ Mother Box

mother-box1

If you were to make a list of the greatest gadgets dreamed up by Jack Kirby, the Mother Box would undoubtedly rank somewhere near the top. It’s the Ginsu knife of (sentient) comic book tech: it can open and close boom tubes, absorb and project energy blasts, communicate telepathically, control non-sentient machines … It probably even slices and dices.

And soon, you can get one of your very own. All right, DC Collectibles’ Mother Box Prop Replica won’t open any boom tubes, but all the noise and lights will make you think it can. Just check out the video promoting its July release, below.

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Need a gift idea? Marvel Unlimited is offering a deal

marvel unlimited-unwrapIf you’re still searching for a gift for a Marvel fan on your shopping list, you might keep this in mind: The publisher is offering a two-month subscription to its massive digital archive for the price of one.

Through Jan. 4, new and returning subscribers can purchase two months of Marvel Unlimited for $9.99, gaining access to more than 15,000 classic and newer comics, dating from the Golden Age to about six months ago. In October, the publisher added some of its Season One graphic novels to the lineup.

Marvel Unlimited can be accessed on the web and through the Marvel Unlimited app on iPhone, iPad and select Android devices.

For full details, visit the Marvel Unlimited website; to take advantage of the limited offer, use the promo code “Unwrap.”

3A Toys teases its Judge Death figure: ‘Death Isssss Coming!’

3a-judge-death-cropped

Ashley Wood’s 3A Toys has unveiled a new peek at its upcoming Judge Death 1/12th-scale figure, the first in the new 2000AD line announced in January.

Initially teased in June with the familiar phrase “The crime is life, the sentence is death,” the figure now has a price and a preorder date — $60, beginning Jan. 14 — along with the promise, “Death Isssss Coming!”

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Comics A.M. | How one manga publisher is expanding into China

Kodansha's Jinmanhua magazine

Kodansha’s Jinmanhua magazine

Publishing | Keiko Yoshioka explains how Japanese publisher Kodansha is getting into the Chinese market, not by selling Japanese products but by publishing a magazine in China that’s geared toward Chinese audiences — and using Chinese creators as well. The article puts a special focus on the two-woman team known as Navar, whose suspense series Carrier: Xiedaizhe now runs in Japan as well. [The Asahi Shimbun]

Academia | Northwestern University Prof. Irving Rein discusses why superheroes have secret identities, ticking off several superhero comics tropes and then going a bit deeper: “The usual script of a superhero episode revolves around a threat occurring in which the superhero is the victim of the decision making of the criminals. The hidden identity is a standard form of the superhero narrative and it allows the creators to use the formula and still deviate from the script. Throughout the comic book or movie there are a series of fundamental questions. Will the superhero be identified? When and under what circumstances will the superhero become a superhero? How will the superhero get back into his civilian identity without being identified?” [Daily Herald]

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Dashcam captures crashed TIE Fighter, unhappy Stormtroopers

tie-fighter-ice

The seemingly ubiquitous TIE Fighters may have helped to build the Galactic Empire, but they apparently don’t handle well in icy conditions, as this dashcam footage shows.

Originating with the German Sky network, the all-too-brief parody gives a nod to the craziest Russian dashcam videos as a car slowly passes the burning wreckage of the starfighter on the highway as two safety vest-clad Stormtroopers wait patiently — if not exactly happily. Presumably, Imperial accident reports are a pain. And don’t get them started about the claims adjusters …

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You can buy ‘Venture Bros.’ sheets for your own learning bed

venture-sheets

It seems like ages since we last saw a new episode of The Venture Bros. (it’s actually been about 17 months), but the drought will end, if only briefly, on Jan. 19 with the premiere of the space-themed special. Then we’ll have to go back to dreaming again about new episodes.

To help with that (perhaps?), Adult Swim is offering, for a limited time, 300-thread count official Venture Bros. sheets depicting many of the characters from the series, and pillow cases emblazoned with the Venture logo. What more could someone with $50 and a queen-sized bed — yeah, they only come in one size — wish for?

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Watch this interview with Mark Gruenwald from 1988

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The now standard “What’s your next big storyline about?” approach to interviewing wasn’t created by the comics Internet. But before news sites existed, those conversations did take longer to reach the public. This weekend, one arrived after a 26-year delay.

Flying Color Comics retailer and Free Comic Book Day founder Joe Field wrote in with a curious discovery from his archives: a video interview conducted with Marvel writer and executive editor Mark Gruenwald at the 1988 Wonderful World of Comics Convention in Oakland, California, a precursor to today’s WonderCon.

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Wow Cool | Alternative Comics store robbed of comics, books

wow cool robbery

Courtesy of Marc Arsenault

The Wow Cool | Alternative Comics store, opened early this year in Cupertino, California, by Marc Arsenault, was burglarized over the weekend, with the thieves making off with “several hundred dollars of comics and books.”

“The thief or thieves were bizarrely selective in their choices of books to remove,” Arsenault, who purchased Alternative Comics in 2012, writes on the Wow Cool website. “Several new Alternative Comics-published books were removed, including copies of Derf Backderf’s True Stories, Devin Flynn’s Hawd Tales and four copies of Noah Van Sciver’s A City of Whiskey and Fire. Also missing were about 2/3 of a couple of shelves of big fancy art books and our hodgepodge shelfs of larger art books and political and slice of life comics including books by Henriette Valium, Keith Knight, Lloyd Dangle, and Neil Gaiman, including at least one signed edition.”

Arsenault said the thief, or thieves, used “a very large rock” to shatter a window and enter the store, which shares space with multimedia studio/mail-order house Wow Cool and indie publisher Alternative Comics.

‘Usagi Yojimbo’ comes to life in trailer for stage production

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Southwark Playhouse in London has released a trailer for its Christmas show, a stage production of Stan Sakai’s long-running historical fantasy Usagi Yojimbo.

Adapted by Stewart Melton for ages 7 and up, the play opened Nov. 28 to positive reviews, with particular attention given to its production design and original live music (you get a little taste of both in the trailer). It closes Jan. 4.

While Usagi Yojimbo may not be what comes to mind when you think “Christmas show,” in previous years Southwark Playhouse has staged Howl’s Moving Castle and Anansi: An African Fairy Tale for the holidays. So, more kids’ fare than Christmas fare.

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Robot Reviews | ‘Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?’

Can't We Talk About Something More PleasantCan’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
By Roz Chast

In Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? Roz Chast has produced an amazingly honest and clear-eyed memoir of her relationship with her parents in their declining years. It’s both a universal story of something many of us will go through and a very particular account of a single family of quirky individuals.

Chast had an unusual upbringing: She was an only child (a sister died at birth 14 years before she was born), and her parents had her late in life, so she always felt like a bit of an interloper. Her mother had a domineering personality and a sharp temper — she described her own outbursts as “A blast from Chast.” Her father was quieter, easier to get along with, but also plagued by anxieties and phobias, which led him to rely completely on her mother. They were, as Chast describes them, “a tight little unit,” and they seemed to believe that if they carefully avoided the subject of future unpleasantness, nothing would change. She depicts this perfectly in a single panel in which the hooded figure of Death roars “What’s THIS??? The Chasts are talking about me! Why, I’ll show THEM!!!”

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Seth Kushner is returning home for the holidays

Seth Kushner self-portrait

Seth Kushner self-portrait

Diagnosed in April with acute myeloid leukemia, photographer and writer Seth Kushner was able to return home in late September after a seemingly successful bone marrow transplant. But after just 16 days out of the hospital, it was discovered the leukemia had returned; Kushner’s prognosis was grim. However, the writer’s Facebook page was updated Sunday with some welcome good news: Following what they’re now just referring to as “alternative treatment,” and some uncertainty, “there is now no leukemia in my blood.”

“The doctors are saying this is remarkable,” Kushner writes. “I don’t know what the future holds, but for now I feel great and I’m planning on going home on Wednesday. Spending the holidays at home with my family, after spending the better part of the 8 months in a hospital bed, will be a gift.  Thank you all for all your prayers, support and positive thoughts. I have a lot of people to thank, but for now I’ll thank my lovely wife, Terra, without whom I surely would not be here now. I’m still here because she wouldn’t let me go. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world.”

Visit Kushner’s Facebook page to read the full post. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help cover medical costs not paid by insurance and for his wife and son’s living expenses.

Supreme Court to hear dispute over Spider-Man toy

web blaster

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether Marvel owes royalty payments to the creator of a Spider-Man toy after the patent for the Web Blaster expired.

As first reported by Courthouse News Service, Stephen Kimble patented the toy in 1990 and then approached Marvel to license the rights. Marvel passed, and when another company began manufacturing a similar toy — it shoots foam string, simulating Spider-Man’s web-shooters — Kimble sued, claiming patent infringement and breach of implied contract.

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