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Classics Illustrated debuts for Apple iPad, iPhone

After bringing Classics Illustrated into the digital age, and onto Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet, in March, Trajectory Inc. announced this morning it has teamed with Apple to deliver the enduring comics series on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

Debuting in 1941 as Classic Comics, Classic Illustrated adapted such literary works as Treasure Island, The Last of the Mohicans and Jane Eyre, publishing 169 issues during its 30-year run. More than 120 titles are available from Apple’s iBookstore.

“Making the Classics available in digital form brings these brilliant works to where people live now, on their mobiles,” Trajectory CEO Jim Bryant said in a statement. “The iPad and iPhone are great for interacting with one of the most beloved comics and graphic novel series of all time.”

The Vampire Chronicles novelist Anne Rice also endorses the series, saying, “I remember reading Jane Eyre in the Classics comics and how much I loved the details and seeing the madwoman in the attic in those little panels and seeing the whole novel play out. What always drew me were very detailed, representational drawings, rather than something abstract. I wanted to see a lot of richness and a lot of depth.”

Watch the trailer and read the press release below.
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Comics A.M. | Graphic novel sales actually stronger than they look?

Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery Deluxe Edition

Retailing | The retail news and analysis site ICv2 contends sales of graphic novels in the direct market may be better than recent numbers indicate because of the way Diamond Comic Distributors reports those figures. While the distributor’s calculations are based on the wholesale value of shipments, ICv2 based its estimates on the retail value, and found graphic novel sales rose 24.4 percent in March, rather than declined 5.7 percent (versus a year ago), and climbed 27.7 percent in April, rather than just 12.6 percent: “The big differences between the wholesale and retail rates of change in recent months appear to be caused by big increases in the number of graphic novels liquidated through Diamond in March and April.  So retail dollars were up, while wholesale dollars lagged. ” [ICv2]

Conventions | Audrey Gillan previews this weekend’s Kapow! in London by casting a spotlight on organizers Lucy and Sarah Unwin — they’re partnered with Mark Millar — and their efforts to create a female-inclusive comic convention. “We ourselves as women organising the show have been accused of misogyny because of the obviously male guest list, but there is just this lack of female creators and it’s the nature of the industry,” Lucy Unwin said. “There’s no point in taking it to heart because I don’t employ the creators. I would love there to be more women at the show in terms of guests.” [The Guardian]

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Rotworld kicks off in 12th issues of Swamp Thing, Animal Man

Rotworld

August brings the preludes to the Swamp Thing/Animal Man crossover that writers Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire have been talking about for awhile now, as Team Red and Team Green take on The Rot. According to Lemire, the crossover, Rotworld, is an “epic superhero/horror story” that he’s been working with Snyder on for the past year. “Buddy Baker and Alec Holland join forces to lead a pre-emptive strike deep into The Rot, the consequences of which will tear both of their worlds apart forever,” he said on his blog.

The crossover runs through each title’s 17th issue and will feature art by regular series artists Yanick Paquette and Steve Pugh, who worked together on the above joining covers for Animal Man #12 and Swamp Thing #12.

Colleen Coover finds more Logan/Freddie Mercury pages

From Matthew J. Rainwater's version

When Colleen Coover posted her version of a weird tryout page featuring Wolverine and Freddie Mercury, she expressed hope that other artists would follow her example. And they have.

Coover’s been curating a small gallery of Wolverine/Mercury pages, and she would love to add more to it. What I like is how the artists already on display have taken to heart the potential that Coover initially saw in the meme. In that first post, she talked about the questions raised by the nonsensical story: What’s Wolverine looking for? Why does Freddie Mercury appear? “I have decided to explore these mysteries by recreating the original story, ” she wrote, and went on to say, “I invite other artists to do the same, by which exercise we may one day come close to the fictional Truth of the matter.”

The artists she found have done that too, not just recreating the page, but also explicitly answering some of those questions. It’s a fun look at not only varying stylistic takes on a single page of art, but also the way different people tell the same story, usually with hilarious results. For instance: I’m dying to spoil Andrew Meyerhoefe’s page for you, but I’ll resist and let you enjoy it for yourself.


Quote of the day | ‘She went to pee, which she did by sitting down’

In writing, once a gender is established … it’s often best to leave it alone. A woman does not need to walk to the door with a decided roll to her hips that a man would not have. She just walks to the damn door. Likewise, a man does not need to reach out for a cup of coffee, all the time grunting, thinking about football, about how hard it is to follow a map, and how much he believes he could beat a tiger in a knife fight …

Paul Tobin, discussing the depictions of gender in fiction, but especially in reference to women in superhero comics. He talks about specific traps that comics creators fall into (including an observation about drawing breasts that’s both hilarious and sad) and how female characters should be written.

First Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sketch sells for $71,700

The very first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles drawing, thrown together as a joke in November 1983 by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, was bought Friday by an anonymous bidder for $71,700 at Heritage Auctions in Dallas. An undisclosed percentage of the proceeds will be donated to The Hero Initiative.

“What an incredibly exciting week this has been! The Turtles have been blessed with the best fans on the planet, so I chose this event to make available personal historical TMNT items for those really hardcore supporters – but WHOA – what a response!” Eastman, who consigned  the sketch to the auction house, wrote in a statement. “My many, many, thanks to all the fans that have given me the best job in the world, and for their love for a great, goofy, bunch of green guys that just wanted to be normal teenagers – Mutant Ninja ones anyway!”

That 1983 drawing led the following year to the publication of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, a black-and-white parody from Eastman and Laird’s Mirage Studios, that, with the help of licensing agent Mark Freedman, grew into a multimedia empire of comics, animated television series, feature films, video games and merchandise. Laird completed a buyout of Eastman’s interests in TMNT in 2008, and then sold the property to Viacom the following year for $60 million.

“For 30 years the Turtles have been a worldwide phenomenon, entertaining hundreds of millions of children and that influence shows no sign of slowing with the upcoming TV and film projects featuring the team,” Barry Sandoval of Heritage Auctions said of the sketch. “This is a piece of pop culture that will only increase in value and influence over the coming decades.”

An animated take on Marvel heroes in ‘Disassembled’ short

After the super-success of Marvel’s The Avengers, everyone in the world knows who Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are. And now Netherlands-based cartoonist Junaid Chundrigar is showing you just how funny they can be (and we’re not talking shawarma here).

Not to be confused with the Brian Michael Bendis-Dave Finch comic book arc, Chundrigar’s “Disassembled” makes Marvel’s heroes, not just the Avengers, bouncy, funny and sometimes creepy.

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Cartoonist Christine Larsen debuts short story collection

In the serialized onslaught of stories appearing each week in your local comic shop and on your digital devices, the cozy yet potent power of short comics is often overlooked. But cartoonist Christine Larsen is pulling together stories she’s created for various anthologies into one place for her own short story collection, titled aptly enough, Short Stories. The collection will debut at Wizard World: Philadelphia at the end of this month, and the artist plans to then offer them online at her webstore.

Larsen is probably best known for the online comic Valentine she created with Alex de Campi, and she’s also contributed stories to Ape Entertainment’s Shrek and Kung Fu Panda series. Her work is a really inventive menagerie of styles that reminds me of an impressionistic Doug Wildey of Jonny Quest fame. I see her name pop up in anthologies, and I’m glad to see there will be a solid place to catch more of her work.

Larsen’s shared some preview pages of Short Stories on her website, which we’ve included below:

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Two editorial cartoonists honored for courage

Ali Ferzat after his attack (via the Washington Post/Facebook)

Ali Ferzat after his attack (via the Washington Post/Facebook)

The Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) has bestowed the 2012 Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award on two artists who have experienced persecution for their work, Syrian Ali Ferzat and Indian Aseem Trivedi.

Ferzat, who is 60 years old, has been a cartoonist for many years, but he didn’t encounter trouble until 2011, when he drew a number of cartoons critical of dictator Bashar Al-Assad’s brutal suppression of the democracy movement. Syrian security forces abducted Ferzat and beat him, deliberately breaking both his hands. This did not silence him; on the contrary, he went public about the abuse, and his work is available (in Arabic) at his website. He also has a Facebook page.

Trivedi is the force behind the Cartoons Against Corruption website, which collects editorial cartoons protesting against not only government corruption but also attacks on free speech, including restrictions on the internet. Trivedi was charged with treason and “insulting national symbols” for this, but he nonetheless remains active in the free speech movement in India.

CRNI will present the awards during the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists convention in September.

Iranian lawmaker withdraws complaint that led to cartoonist’s lashing sentence

Journalist Saeed Kamali Dehghan tweeted this morning:

Iranian MP who brought a case against a cartoonist, which resulted in a sentence of 25 lashes, has withdrawn his complaint – Fars #Iran

No other details are available at the moment, but it’s clear the move was backfiring on lawmaker Ahmad Lofti Ashtiani, who brought the complaint about cartoonist Mahmoud Shokraye’s depiction of him in a soccer uniform (the Iranian government has been criticized lately for meddling in sports). Iran’s “media law” court last week sentenced Shokraye to 25 lashes, a move that has drawn a growing chorus of protest both inside and outside Iran. “Iran’s online community has taken to social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook to express anger,” the Guardian reports, and cartoonists have been calling on other cartoonists to draw even more caricatures of Ashtiani. The Guardian has a gallery of Ashtiani cartoons by Iranian and non-Iranian creators, including their own cartoonist Martin Rowson’s depiction of him as a big baby.

Eurasia Review quotes prominent Iranian cartoonist Masooud Shojai Tabatabai, who gives a more nuanced view of the situation in Iran:

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Roger Langridge just says no to more Marvel and DC work

Roger Langridge is the latest creator to say he is no longer going to work for Marvel or DC Comics because of concerns about the way they treat creators.

The subject came up last week, when Langridge, the writer of Thor: The Mighty Avenger, the Muppets comics (originally created for BOOM! Studios and now being republished by Marvel) and John Carter: A Princess of Mars, was interviewed on The Orbiting Pod podcast. After chatting about his newest comics Snarked! and Popeye (which IDW Publishing has just expanded from a four-issue miniseries to an ongoing series), he added this:

I’m very happy to be cultivating a working relationship with people like BOOM! and IDW at the moment when Marvel and DC are turning out to be quite problematic from an ethical point of view to continue working with.

I think it’s down to everybody’s individual conscience, but I think those of us who have options—and I do have options, I’ve got a working relationship with a couple of different publishers, I’ve got illustration to fall back on, I’m not beholden to Marvel and DC for my bread and butter, so it seems to me that if you do have the option you should maybe think hard about what you are doing and who you are doing it for. I was writing the last issue of John Carter when the news came that Marvel had won a lawsuit against the heirs of Jack Kirby, and Steve Bissette wrote a very impassioned post about the ethics of working for Marvel under those circumstances, and pretty much then I figured I should finish the script I was writing and move on, and it’s not like Marvel needs me. It’s no skin off their nose if I don’t accept anything else from them in the future.

On his blog, Langridge clarifies that he made the decision last summer, at a time when he wasn’t doing any Marvel or DC work, so he’s not so much quitting as deciding not to go back. His statements come less than a month after iZombie and Superman writer Chris Roberson made headlines with his announcement that he’s ending his relationship with DC because of its treatment of creators and their heirs.

Comics A.M. | Florida comic store raided, owner arrested

Spice

Crime | Michael Lewis, owner of Rocket Comics in Pensacola, Florida, is being held on a $11,000 bond after his store was raided by police for allegedly selling “Spice,” a synthetic form of cannabis. [WEAR ABC]

Publishing | The Economist’s Babbage blog takes a look at R. Stevens’ successful Kickstarter for his webcomic Diesel Sweeties, which raised $60,000, far overshooting his initial goal of $3,000. [The Economist]

Creators | Gary Groth previews his interview with renowned children’s author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, who passed away last week at age 83. The interview, conducted in October, is scheduled to appear in the next issue of The Comics Journal. [TCJ.com]

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What Are You Reading? with Ryan Ferrier

Hell Yeah #3

Happy Mother’s Day and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is Ryan Ferrier, who I spoke to a couple of weeks ago about his comic Tiger Lawyer and recently kicked off an Indie GoGo project to fund the second issue.

To see what Ryan and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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Chain Reactions | Avengers Assemble #3

Avengers Assemble #3

Spoiler’s Warning: This post contains potential spoilers for both the Avengers movie and Avengers Assemble #3.

Marvel followed the release of their big blockbuster Avengers movie with the third issue of Avengers Assemble by the team of Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley, Danny Miki and Paul Mounts. The book features an Avengers team that mirrors the one from the film fighting a revamped version of their classic foes The Zodiac.

“I believe Tom [Brevoort] came to me and said it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a book out that had these characters in print. Because you’re involved in what’s going on in the creative committee, you’re probably the perfect guy to do it,” Bendis told CBR back in February. “[I thought] what we need is a book like this in continuity that matters, that’s really huge.”

The timing couldn’t have been better, as issue #3 reveals the big bad behind the Zodiac, which mirrors events in the Avengers film. But how is the comic itself? Here’s a round-up of reactions from various folks around the web:

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Maurice Sendak, cartoonist: An appreciation

From Maurice Sendak's collaboration with Art Spiegelman

I had been thinking of Maurice Sendak a lot lately even before his death was announced. That’s partly because he’d been in the news a lot in the past year with the release of his book Bumble-Ardy. But it’s also because I tend to think a lot about children’s books in general and the way they often tend to crossover with comics.

Let me put it this way: Sendak was, of course, many things: an artist, writer, designer and all-around genius. But above all, Sendak was a cartoonist and the comics informed a good deal, if not most, of his work.

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