Current Transmissions

Comics A.M. | Manga sales down, but cons & scanlation sites thrive

Gate 7, Vol. 3

Gate 7, Vol. 3

Manga | Call it the Manga Paradox: Manga sales are way down, but traffic on scanlation sites is robust and attendance at anime conventions is way up. What’s the story? I crunched some numbers and talked to some publishers to get a picture of the new normal for the manga market in North America. [Publishers Weekly]

Comics | A collection of 60,000 comics sold for $200,000 at auction over the weekend in East Vancouver. It seems impressive until you do the math and realize that’s a little more than three bucks a comic. The star of the collection was a restored Hulk comic that went for $6,500. [CBC]

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Talking Comics with Tim | Michael Kaluta on ‘Harry Palmer: Starstruck’

Harry Palmer: Starstruck

Harry Palmer: Starstruck

It seems to me a Kickstarter for an Elaine Lee/Michael Kaluta project should be a no-brainer. And considering that in the first 24 hours of the Harry Palmer: Starstruck Kickstarter, close to half of the $44,000 goal was raised, I was not alone in thinking that way. At present, the Kickstarter, which started on April 2 (and ends May 2), has reached more than $35,000.

Kaluta agreed to an interview about the 176-page sci-fi noir graphic novell, which has been years in the making, and it proved fun to chat with the legendary artist on how he intends to marry 80 new pages with 60-some pages of existing material.

Tim O’Shea: This Kickstarter came within hundreds of dollars of making half of its goal within that first 24 hours. What was your reaction to see the project make such progress, so quickly?

Michael Kaluta: I was definitely gratified, and tried to be sanguine (I read books … sanguine … heh!), but, of course, the specter of getting almost to the goal and then having the Kickstarter stall looms large in my dreams… as it must for everyone hoping to go forward with their dream-project thanks to the Kickstarter approach. I’ll soldier on, clearing the drawing board for not only the new Harry Palmer pages, but for the Kickstarter reward drawings I’ll be doing when and if everything comes up roses.

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Beware the Court of Owls masks — again!

court of owls

I’d only just begun to recover from those haunting images of Comic-Con International attendees wearing those giveaway Court of Owls masks when I opened DC Comics’ July solicitations to find the publisher is offering the nightmare-inducing featureless disguises packaged with the trade paperback of Batman: The Court of Owls, by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion.

Arriving Oct. 2, the $24.99 Batman: The Court of Owls Book and Mask Set offers you the chance to introduce a friend or loved one to the first arc of the relaunched Batman — and then scare the bejeezus out of them by wearing the mask. That is, if you’re willing diminish its potential value by opening the box. Oh, go ahead, it’ll be worth it …

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McFarlane takes you behind scenes of ‘Assassin’s Creed’ poster

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Game publisher Ubisoft has debuted Todd McFarlane’s poster for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, accompanied by a behind-the-scenes video of the artist energetically explaining how he approached the illustration. The limited-edition poster is available only to customers who pre-order the game through GameStop.

On sale Oct. 29 in North America, Assassin’s Creed IV features a new hero, Edward Kenway, who falls from privateering to piracy during the 18th century before becoming embroiled in the ancient war between the Assassins and the Templars.

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A view from MoCCA Arts Fest

Tom Spurgeon and Dean Haspiel

Tom Spurgeon and Dean Haspiel

I walked into MoCCA Arts Fest a few minutes after it opened, with my friend Erica Friedman, and we noticed the difference right away: The last two shows have had an improvised, “Let’s have a comics show! We can use my father’s barn!” kind of feeling. They weren’t disorganized, exactly, and the talent has always been top-notch, but the show floor felt crowded, cluttered, and confusing.

This was the first year that the Society of Illustrators was running the event. Organizers had a lot to prove, and they proved it. The show felt professional. The aisles were wider. A very simple addition — a bright red backdrop that ran behind the tables — made a huge difference, giving visitors more focus and eliminating the distraction of looking out across that cavernous space. The red curtains also set off a small gallery at the back of the armory that featured original comics art from the Society’s collection, a gentle reminder that they have been welcoming comics creators for more than 100 years. Visitors could buy a slick, nicely produced catalog for $5, and there was a modest cafe downstairs, a pleasant addition that allowed friends who met at the show to sit down and have a bite and a chat without disrupting the experience too much.

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Cheat Sheet | From ‘Li’l Gotham’ to ‘Ultron #1AU’ to Torino

cheat-sheet-april8

Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. After an almost-uninterrupted string of U.S. conventions, from Emerald City Comicon and Fabletown & Beyond to WonderCon and MoCCA Arts Fest, eyes turn to Europe this weekend for the Torino Comics festival.

Meanwhile, our contributors select their picks for the best comics going on sale Wednesday, including Batman: Li’l Gotham #1, Relish and The Flash Chronicles, Vol. 4.

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Conversing on Comics with Gail Simone

HEADER Gail Simone

Gail Simone has one of the most personable and idiosyncratic voices in comics. It’s why fans follow her in books like Batgirl, Birds of Prey and Secret Six, and it’s how she broke into the comics industry from being a Comic Book Resources columnist. And 2013 is shaping up to be a big year for Simone with the launch of her creator-owned Leaving Megapolis with Jim Califoire, a new Red Sonja series at Dynamite and The Movement at DC Comics (which she spoke about at length Friday with Comic Book Resources), and continuing on her cathartic run on Batgirl.

I reached out to Simone following the Red Sonja announcement to talk to her about that new book, but also her career in general. Her off-again, on-again time on Batgirl has already been covered ad nauseum, and there’s more to her story than that.

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Comics A.M. | Direct market sales climb more than 22% in March

Guardians of the Galaxy #1

Guardians of the Galaxy #1

Comics sales | The direct market continued its rise last month, with comics and graphic novel sales up 22.59 percent compared to March 2012, according to Diamond Comic Distributors. Marvel routed DC Comic in this month’s sales, claiming 40 percent of the market to DC’s 27 percent. [ICv2]

Conventions | The fire marshal had to turn away hundreds of people Sunday from the DoubleTree Hotel in Tampa, Florida, where the two-day Tampa Bay Comic Con was being held. An estimated crowd of 4,000 were crammed into the lobby and the ballroom (which is designed to hold a maximum of 1,200 people), with many hoping to see The Walking Dead star Lauren Cohan. Organizers conceded they need a larger venue for the twice-yearly event. [Tampa Bay Times]

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Check out Chip Kidd’s ‘Before Watchmen’ deluxe edition covers

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BuzzFeed has debuted the Chip Kidd-designed covers for DC Comics’ four Before Watchmen hardcover deluxe editions, which arrive this summer.

A renowned designer and art director, Kidd is widely known for creating the jackets for such books as Michael Chricton’s Jurassic Park and The Lost World, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, David Sedaris’ Naked and Gerard Jones’ Men of Tomorrow. However, he’s also worked extensively in the comics arena, designing the covers for Frank Miller and Lynn Varley’s Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Vertical Inc.’s Osamu Tezuka line, and Dave Gibbons’ Watching the Watchmen (for which he also designed the interiors), as well as the logos and trade dress for All-Star Superman and All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder. Most recently, Kidd created a variant cover for Before Watchmen: Rorschach #3.

Before Watchmen: Minutemen/Silk Spectre and Before Watchmen: Ozymandias/Crimson Corsair arrive in comic stores June 26 and July 2 everywhere else; Before Watchmen: Nite Owl/Dr. Manhattan and Before Watchmen: Comedian/Rorschach go on sale July 10 in comic stores and July 16 everywhere else.

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What Are You Reading?

polarity-tease

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? To find out what the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below …

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Your official Robot 6 Wrestlemania predictions

photo by Ryan Penagos

photo by Ryan Penagos

A few years back, to celebrate the WWE’s annual Wrestlemania event, I reached out to several comic folks who I knew were wrestling fans to get their predictions on how the matches would go. It was a lot of fun; so much fun that apparently I let three years go by before doing it again (in my defense, I had a baby somewhere in those three years, so … yeah).

In any event, this year I got my act together enough to reach out to some of my Robot 6 colleagues, as well as several members of the comics community, to once against ask: Rock or Cena? Brock or Triple H? Undertaker or Punk? Scholars or Funk? Our panel shared their thoughts, opinions, hopes and dreams for tomorrow’s big pay-per-view event.

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A picture’s worth a thousand words in this Shelf Porn collection

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Hello and welcome to Shelf Porn, our weekly look into the homes of comic fans around the world. Today’s Shelf Porn comes from Louie, a man of few words, but a whole lot of shelves. “I love seeing how people store and display their collections so I thought I’d share mine,” he said in his email.

You can find out how to submit your collection to Shelf Porn right here. And now take a look at Louie’s collection …

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From The Pogues to Peter Bagge: Six random questions with Brian Wood

robotroulette

Thirty-six questions. Six answers. One random number generator. Welcome to Robot Roulette, where creators roll the virtual dice and answer our questions about their lives, careers, interests and more.

Joining us today is Brian Wood, writer of Star Wars, The Massive, Conan, Mara, Demo, X-Men, DMZ, Local, Northlanders, Couriers and many more.

Now let’s get to it …

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The Fifth Color | Marvel’s robot revival

AvengersAI_1coverEvery so often, public opinion shifts and popular culture gets a craving. Remember when everything was all about pirates? Then we all got on this huge kick about vampires and the supernatural, and we had a variety of different television shows to slake our thirst? The remnants of those yearnings still linger (well, not so much the pirates), and now the masses have all lined up for zombies.

Zombies play into so many metaphors for the fears that plague us (death, communities turning against us, a loss of identity and so on), and they can even reflect economic shifts with consumerism and political-mob mentalities. That latter point is probably why Game of Thrones (a fantasy political drama) and The Walking Dead (a morality play on humanity versus its corrupted self) are TV-ratings gold.

Sadly, this cannot last. I’m not saying zombies are on their way out, just that the cultural craze is reached a peak and is moving toward something new — and Marvel comics has your back.

With robots! They’re fantastic and a personal favorite of my science fiction-loving heart, so the announcement of Avengers A.I. left me looking past our zombie-filled present with a hope for a new future-craze. We should be looking forward to what comes after our old rotten selves, pushing forward with our fiction to better understand the human condition. There is no better metaphor than that of the robot to help us grasp our own humanity and morality by looking through mechanical eyes; the future of our pop culture might not be full of artificial men, because who can really predict the public’s taste for fantasy or fiction? But Marvel seems primed and ready to try to take us into a new age of androids.

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‘Detective Comics’ #19 celebrates 900 issues — is it worth $7.99?

detective900-tease

If the DC Comics New 52 reboot hadn’t happened, Detective Comics would have reached its 900th issue this month. That wasn’t lost on DC, which celebrated the milestone this week with the release of an 80-page, $7.99 anniversary issue. The issue sports the New 52 debut of an old favorite, and a tribute to the number 900 in a story that ties into the larger ‘Emperor Penguin’ arc running through the comic. It also features back-up tales starring Bane, Man-Bat and the Gotham City Police Department, as well as a gallery of art by various artists.

So does this oversized issue do justice to its 900-issue legacy? Here are a few opinions from around the web …

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