Free Comic Book Day is May 5, and most of the lineup was announced earlier this year. So I was intrigued when Action Lab Comics revealed this week that it’s releasing a digital FCBD comic. While it’s not unusual for artists to jump on the FCBD bandwagon by releasing digital comics on that day, this is the first time I have seen a publisher do it (readers: I know you will feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), and the first time I have seen a digital comic with the FCBD logo on the front. So I went straight to the source and asked Action Lab President Shawn Pryor just what was up with this. Here’s what he had to say.
Robot 6: Why did you decide to go with a digital format rather than print?
Shawn Pryor: Well, we’ve been in the direct market for a year or so, and by the time we noticed that Free Comic Book Day was approaching we completely missed the deadline to submit a book to Diamond for the event. It was then that we decided to do our own thing and make a massive 200-page Free Comic Book Day digital comic (Action Lab Confidential). In doing this, we can get this book into the hands of new readers or readers who have been wanting to check out the diverse line of books that we have to offer and/or coming out to brick-and-mortar stores soon.
Roger Langridge, known for his work on the Eisner-nominated Snarked! as well as The Muppets, Popeye and Thor: The Mighty Avenger, is listed as a speaker on the TEDxSydney website. Langridge, however, isn’t actually going to be at TEDx conference set for May 26.
“A musical group has set one of my Fred the Clown stories to music and they’re going to be doing a live webcast of the performance,” he said in an email. “All I did was supply them with some digital files that they’ll be using as slides to accompany the music. They actually performed it a couple of years ago I think, but I never saw it, so I’m rather looking forward to getting to see it at last.”
That sounds like fun; I’ll mark my calendar to post a link to it once it is up.
Launched yesterday at Trip City, Joe Infurnari‘s comic series Time Fucker shows the story of how Salvatore (“Sally” to his mother) looks to get revenge on all the bullies, friends and family members that have caused him anguish by “Time Fucking” them before they were born.
That’s right, time travel for revenge sex.
Using a cast-off time machine invented by Thomas Edison, Sal’s goal is to travel back in time and preemptively have sex with the mothers of his adversaries, with the goal of impregnating them and cancelling out his foes, or subverting them to be more like him. His first target? His half-brother, Dick.
Featuring cameos by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and an inventive use of Tony Atlas ads, Time Fucker is a surprising return for the Eisner-nominated Infurnari, but I’m not complaining because it’s rowdy and excellent. Infurnari’s already posted the first 10 pages of the story, with future installments planned for every Thursday this month.
What if the fictional stories you grew up reading could come to life? Sure, it’d be fun to meet Sherlock Holmes… but what if everything both good and evil came to life? In the upcoming graphic novel Fictionauts from Studio 407, a group of scientists-turned-adventurers is tasked with fighting off the threats from our fiction bookshelves before they make it to our world. Created by Mauro Mantella and Leandro Rizzo, this mixes the fiction-is-real concept from comics like The Unwritten with classic sci-fi-turned-superhero books like Challengers of the Unknown into a raucous looking, punching-Moby-Dick-In-His-Blowhole kind of story.
“[Fictionauts] combines over-the-top pulp action, humor, and high-concept science-fiction with some of the most famous literary characters of all time,” says Studio 407′s Ivan Salazar in a press release. “It’s the lovechild of Grant Morrison and Herman Melville that comic fans never knew they wanted, but won’t be able to live without!”
The titular team at the center of this patrols the metaphysical space between fiction and reality, hoping to prevent these fantastical creations from bleeding over into our reality. In the past they’ve faced off with the aforementioned Moby Dick and traded barbs with greats like Charles Dickens, but when a mysteriously named Agent X attempts to break down the walls completely between fiction and reality the team is pushed to see if they can stop the world from being inadvertently destroyed by the imagination of our most creative prose novelists of all time.
Following the unusual press release last July where Ape Entertainment announced they were in negotiations with Sesame Workshop to produce a series of comic books featuring the characters from Sesame Street, Ape Entertainment confirmed this week that they have indeed completed those negotiations and will publish Sesame Street comics this fall.
“We are excited about our new relationship with Sesame Workshop to bring the Sesame Street characters to comics, which is a dream come true for all of us here at Ape,” said Ape Entertainment COO Brent E. Erwin in a press release. “Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Grover, and the whole Sesame Street gang have always been a part of our lives, now we feel like a part of their family, and that’s a great feeling.”
According to the release, the comics will “emphasize educational and entertaining content for younger readers,” in standard comic-sized printed editions for $3.99 and digest-sized hardcover comic book editions for $7.99. Ape CEO David Hedgecock told USA Today that the hardcover versions will contain additional content and are aimed at the younger crowd. “It’ll be in a sturdier format so when you pick it up and you want to read it to your three-year-old, they’re going to finger it and play with it and it’s not going to fall apart in your hands,” he said. They will also be available digitally through Apple’s App Store for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
Ape has built up a solid library of kid’s titles over the past few years, licensing kid-friendly properties like Richie Rich, Strawberry Shortcake, Casper and Kung Fu Panda, as well as popular mobile games like Cut the Rope and the mega-popular Pocket God. Adding Grover, Big Bird and the rest to their line-up seems like an “A-OK” move.
I was first introduced to Zak Sally’s work via Recidivist, his collection of short stories, which knocked my proverbial socks off. I remember in particular being struck by his gravitas and willingness to poke at uncomfortable and dark places, not to mention his pitch-black sense of humor.
Sally has only gotten better since then, a fact most easily verified by his work on Sammy the Mouse, an ongoing, ostensibly funny-animal story that was initially serialized as part of Fantagraphics’ Ignatz series.
Now Sally has collected those three Ignatz issues and collected them into a smaller trade paperback, published via his own imprint, La Mano 21. In the true D.I.Y. spirit, Sally didn’t just stop there, but went on to even print the comic himself, using a 2-color press he bought.
I recently talked to Sally over email about the new Sammy collection, his decision to become a printer as well as a publisher and how his experience as a musician (he was a member of the band Low and recently released a solo album) informs his work as a cartoonist. I was touched and gratified by his candor and thoughtfulness, not to mention his willingness to answer my prickly, annoyingly personal questions with honesty and aplomb.
I wanted to start by asking you about your decision to not only publish the book yourself but print it as well. How did you get ahold of a printing press?
Well, in 2004 someone told me about one that’s been sitting in a basement here in Minneapolis, and it was going for $250. at that point in my life, it seemed like an idea worth trying, and a natural extension of doing zines/ self publishing etc. and the price was certainly right. Six years later i found a newer model, with 2-color capabilities, for $500. I sold my old press and quickly found out why the new one had gone for so cheap.
Awards | The Guy Davis short story “The Phototaker” has been removed from the 2012 Eisner Awards ballot after it was determined to be ineligible. “The ‘Phototaker’ Eisner nomination was a mix up,” Davis wrote on Twitter. ” Jackie Estrada messaged me after I posted asking about the original English version, which came out in Metal Hurlant #9 (2003). So it’s not eligible for the 2012 Eisner nomination and has been removed. Thanks for all the congratulations yesterday, but I’m happy to clear this up and have it removed from the running.” [Eisner Awards]
Publishing | DC Comics’ Senior Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne and Vice President of Marketing John Cunningham respond to March’s direct-market sales estimates, which saw Marvel claim three of the Top 10 spots after a February shutout. “We are pleased that we gained share, and we never expected that we would hold ten out of ten at the top of the chart for ever,” Wayne said. “I think it is better for the business if everybody is firing on all cylinders, that our competitors are doing interesting things, and we are doing interesting things. It keeps everybody on their toes and it keeps enthusiasm in the readership. The retailers remain involved wanting to make sure that they have enough of everything. I think it’s a good thing all around.” [ICv2.com]
In response to the lawsuit filed in February by Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc., Dynamite Entertainment has filed what amounts to a blanket denial to accusations of trademark and copyright infringement and unfair competition involving its Lord of the Jungle and Warlord of Mars comics.
ERB Inc., which holds the existing rights to the works of the author of Tarzan and John Carter of Mars novels, claims the comics Lord of the Jungle, Warlord of Mars, Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris and Warlord of Mars: Fall of Barsoom are likely to “deceive, mislead and confuse the public” about the source or sponsorship of the content, causing “irreparable injury” to the family-owned company. It also insists the titles were published without authorization after Dynamite Entertainment President Nick Barrucci was told that Dark Horse held the licenses for the Tarzan and John Carter of Mars books.
In its answer to the complaint, filed last week in federal court in New York City and first reported by The Beat, Dynamite points out that the Burroughs works on which the comics are based are no longer protected by U.S. copyright law. As to the trademarks, the publisher notes, “There are numerous examples of Burroughs’ novels, and other works inspired by Burroughs’ novels bearing such alleged marks or similar marks, which have been published by third parties without any reference to” ERB Inc.
“In addition, Burroughs’ public domain novel Tarzan of the Apes has been republished by numerous publishers without any attribution to plaintiff, and the basic story of a jungle-dwelling, Tarzan-like character has appeared in literature and film without any affiliation to plaintiff,” the document states.
Dynamite, of course, asks the court to dismiss the lawsuit, which will likely be watched closely by those concerned with what’s been characterized as an effort to use a trademark to, effectively, prolong the duration of copyright. Read the publisher’s full answer below.
The great strength of DC’s superhero line is its heterogeneity — that is, its history of bringing together different genre-based roots and different storytelling approaches. However, as the shared-universe model came to dominate superhero serials, DC’s various high sheriffs have tried to impose various kinds of order on these disparate perspectives. Starting in the Silver Age, the infinite Multiverse organized characters broadly, for example by generation (Earth-Two), publisher (Earth-X, Earth-S, Earth-Four), or special category (the Crime Syndicate’s Earth-Three, the Zoo Crew’s Earth-C). Crisis On Infinite Earths consolidated a lot of that, The Kingdom’s Hypertime sought unsuccessfully to reincorporate it, and 52 compromised with a scaled-back set of parallel Earths. Today, the New-52 setup still has a Multiverse, but the main DC-Earth has scaled back its superheroic history dramatically.
Details aside, though, each of these cosmological structures is an attempt to bring some deeper meaning to DC’s superhero line. Put simply, for a long time DC’s superhero books weren’t about something, whereas Marvel presented a “world outside your window” in which superpowers came with their own sets of problems. Thus, from the post-Crisis 1980s until the end of Flashpoint last summer, DC was arguably “about” superheroic legacies, and had no small success putting new faces with old names.
And again, those details are not especially germane to today’s post. Instead, I want to talk about the nature of DC’s various traditions, the extent to which those traditions should guide the publisher, and whether DC’s superhero books can, collectively, ever really be “about” anything.
One of the unique parts of a comic convention is the chance to get sketches and fully-rendered art commissions from some of the medium’s top artists. They could draw the characters they’re known for best, or even something off-the-wall like the Swedish Chef that colorist Justin Ponsor did for me once. But a recent posting on artist Tony Moore’s blog shows just how crazy things can get when you get two artists to collaborate, or ‘jam,’ on a single piece
The Eisner nominations are taking some criticism for leaving out the Best New Series category this year. The rationale for the decision is that the judges “didn’t find enough contenders that reached the level of quality they were looking for,” but folks like Ron Marz and Phil Hester think they weren’t looking very hard. On Twitter, Marz said, “We are comics; we do NEW better than anyone.” And as Kevin noted earlier today, Hester observed that “you could throw a rock through artists’ alley at SDCC and hit a full slate of worthy Best New Series nominees.”
Even as I’m agreeing with both of those statements, I also love Marz’ suggestion of something positive that we can do. “Nothing stopping the rest of us from recognizing New Series. If you like something, tell everybody about it!”
That’s a great idea and I’ll start by mentioning Daryl Gregory and Carlos Magno’s Planet of the Apes as my own nomination. But please oh please fill up the comments section with your own. What’s the Best New Series you read in 2011?
Every year Time Out New York bestows its Food & Drink Awards, with the magazine’s critics and readers selecting the best wining and dining the city has to offer. For the 2012 installment, however, the editors tried something a little different, enlisting Kill Shakespeare artist Andy Belanger to transform the winning chefs and barkeeps into Silver Age-style superheroes (with nods to Marvel’s Captain America, Iron Fist, Power Man and Silver Surfer, among others).
Check out some of Belanger’s Time Out New York illustrations below, and visit the magazine’s website for more. The Food & Drink Awards issue is on stands now.
“Eisner committee: You could throw a rock through artists’ alley at SDCC and hit a full slate of worthy Best New Series nominees. In fact, I’m willing to turn the entire comics awards process over to throwing rocks through artists’ alleys.”
– Phil Hester, responding to a statement by Eisner Awards Administrator Jackie Estrada that this year’s judges decided to omit the Best New Series category “because they didn’t find enough contenders that reached the level of quality they were looking for.”
For a comic series that owes its inspiration to throwback grindhouse films, A.K.A. sure uses cutting-edge technology to get it done. The retro revenge story by Steven Walters and Rob Reilly is set to hit shelves this summer, but it’s already made its premiere digitally — and it wouldn’t have been finished at all if it weren’t for online fundraising. The story follows a mob bodyguard tasked to take down his boss’ rival after the target is found carousing with the boss’ daughter.
“A.K.A. is a 4 part,70′s grindhouse inspired, crime/action mini-series about what happens when you cross the wrong people,and those people who put a million dollar bounty on your head afterwards,” Walters explains.
A.K.A.‘s creators took full advantage of the modern tools of digital comics publishing to see their idea to fruition. In May 2011, Reilly and Walters used Kickstarter to fund the lettering and coloring of the four-part series, and now in February of this year they debuted the full series exclusive to digital on Graphic.ly. And now they’re taking the book to the next stage of its journey with a print edition available for pre-order in this month’s Previews.
Here’s a four-page preview of the first issue:
Comics historian Jess Nevins first came to the attention of many fans for his amazingly complete annotations of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Projects like that led to his creating The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana and The Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes. Now Nevins is hoping to complete his trilogy of heroic history with The Encyclopedia of Golden Age Superheroes, cataloging “every hero of the Golden Age. Yes, all of them.”
To do that will require some expensive research, so Nevins has created a Kickstarter page to help fund it. “There’s really only one place to do the kind of research necessary for this project,” he explains, “and that’s Michigan State University, in East Lansing. I’m estimating that I will need to spend at least two weeks at Michigan State to get all the necessary research done, and that will be expensive. (Air fare, hotel, rental car, incidentals — they all add up, and quickly). Moreover, I will need to pay for professional web design for the accompanying web site, and that, too, is not cheap.”
If he reaches his goal of $6000 (he’s almost halfway there with a little less than a month to go as of this writing), he promises to “make the entire manuscript free online, as a professionally designed website, similar to The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. You’ll be able to buy copies of the book as print-on-demand, but it will be permanently available, for free, to the world.” There are of course pledge incentives and Nevins will add additional stretch goals should the project pull in $6,000 quickly. [UPDATE: He's reached his initial goal, so keep checking the link for additions.]