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Comics A.M. | The re-poster dilemma; a look at digital-first initiatives

BearFood

Creators | In the wake of the FunnyJunk/The Oatmeal legal dispute, Ian Pike talks to San Diego-based webcomics creators David King and Phil McAndrew about the problem of having their work re-posted without credit. “If I were to sit there and try to hunt down all the websites that re-post my comics without my name on them,” McAndrew says, “I wouldn’t have any time to draw new stuff. So most of the time I just shrug my shoulders and keep on drawing.” One interesting sidelight is that Matthew Inman, the creator of The Oatmeal, has set up a site called BearFood where users can share their favorite webcomics with the appropriate links. [San Diego Reader]

Digital comics | Matt White surveys the digital-first landscape with a look at the strategies (or the lack thereof) from publishers ranging from DC Comics to Viz Media: “While the majority of digital comics are just digitized versions of print comics, available simultaneously (known as ‘day-and-date’) or after the physical version hits shelves, current digital-first offerings seem to represent an alternative, more specific market as publishers begin to treat digital more as a complement to print rather than a replacement.” [Publishers Weekly]

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The Middle Ground #116 | All’s for the best in the best of all possible worlds

You know that you’ve become too cynical about comics when, reading Brian K. Vaughan talk about Saga, it feels like a surprise to see him mention a 50/50 split of royalties with artist Fiona Staples. Or, to put it another way, you know that you’ve become too cynical about comics when Tony Moore upgrades his legal battle against Robert Kirkman, and your first thought is, “Well, sure. Of course.”

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Food or Comics? | Sage or Saga

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Saga #6

Chris Arrant 

If I had $15, I’d first double-down on creator-owned comics with Butcher Baker, Righteous Maker #8 (Image, $2.99) and Saga #6 (Image, $2.99). I’m glad to see Joe Casey and Mike Huddleston back on Butcher Baker after a hiatus in which I feared it was no more, and I’ve just pulled out #1-7 to get me back up to speed. I’m thinking that taking hallucinogenics would make me enjoy this comic more. On the other side, Saga #6 is flat-out amazing in the most conventional way (despite the unconventional setting). Aliens, ghosts and babies, and yet Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples bring it all together. At this point I’ve shifted into the The Walking Dead mode of reading – no point in reading about what’s ahead, as I’ll just buy it blindly on the great comics they’ve done so far. After that creator-owned two-fer, I’d give Marvel the rest of my money with Uncanny X-Force #29 (Marvel, $3.99) and Avengers vs. X-Men #10 (Marvel, $3.99). I think Marvel’s finally found a suitable replacement for Jerome Opena in artist Julian Totino Tedesco, and I hope he’s locked in to finish out this arc. And speaking of Rick Remender’s work, I spent about 15 minutes conversing the other day about how and why he should’ve been enlisted into Marvel’s Architects and worked into Avengers Vs. X-Men. While the group-written approach takes some getting used to, I’d love to see Remender do an issue of this. In Avengers Vs. X-Men #10 (Marvel, $3.99) however, we see Ed Brubaker taking the lead and showing the Phoenix Force Five venturing into K’un L’un for what seems like the Empire Strikes Back moment of the series.

If I had $30, I’d turn back in all my $15 purchases except Saga #6 and spend the recouped $25-plus dollars and get Hulk: Season One HC (Marvel, $24.99). I’ve never been the biggest Hulk fan, but seeing the previews of Tom Fowler’s art on this has won me over. Fowler, like the above mentioned Tedesco, is one of Marvel’s hidden gems and this might be the launching pad for him to (finally) get some recognition. And for me to get some good comics. Fowler SMASH!

If I could splurge, I’d do the boring choice and simply use it to buy all the single issues mentioned in the $15 section and be able to also afford Hulk: Season One HC. Easy, breezy, beautiful, comics boy.

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One of these robots is happier than the other

I was trying to decide which of these robot drawings to share and decided that I couldn’t decide. So here they both are.

Film and animation artist Sam Filstrup was commissioned to create an awesome drawing of Atomic Robo about to have a dino-bomb dropped on his head; artist Gavin Spence (Hero Happy Hour) came up with an equally groovy robot in much more joyful circumstances. I don’t know which I like better, but I sure know which I’d rather be.

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‘Illegal Superheroes’ campaign warns of undocumented crime-fighters

ArtInfo spotlights a satirical poster campaign by Oakland artist Neil Rivas that uses superhero illustrations by the likes of Jack Kirby, Alex Ross, Jae Lee and John Byrne (completed with trademarked logos) to address the hot-button political issue of illegal immigration. Titled simply “Illegal Superheroes,” the posters feature such characters as Wolverine, Superman, Black Widow, Wonder Woman and Optimus Prime, whose presence in the United States would likely violate federal law.

Purporting to be from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the posters caution, “Super heroes who enter this country without proper authorization are breaking the law, plain and simple. These ‘illegal super heroes’ are subject to deportation at any time. Their very presence is in direct violation of federal law.” The customized hotline numbers at the bottom of each flyer provides the caller with details about each of the undocumented heroes (for instance, “The ThunderCats, a family of cat-like humanoid aliens from the planet Thundera, are known to have entered the U.S. illegally when they saved the world with Superman from Mumm-Ra and his Mutants in a 2004 DC crossover”). ArtInfo has the full breakdown of the messages explaining each character’s illegal status.

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Tony Moore’s poster for horror movie REC 3: Genesis

Magnet Releasing has unveiled Tony Moore’s poster for REC 3: Genesis, the third installment of the Spanish horror series.

Directed by Paco Plaza, the film centers on a couple about to celebrate their wedding day. Everything seems to be going as planned until some of the guests begin to show signs of a strange illness — and before they know it, the bride and groom are in the middle of a hellish ordeal as an uncontrollable torrent of violence is unleashed on their ceremony.

Available now On Demand, REC 3: Genesis opens in U.S. theaters Sept. 7.

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U.K. comics and the London Olympics: the aftermath

The Olympics are over, and London returns to normal. Surveying the Twitter feeds and blogs of that city’s comics creators, we see a very mixed reaction to the Games of the XXX Olympiad. Some loved it, others hate sports so much they fled the city for the duration, and some cynical souls were total converts after Danny Boyle’s epochal Opening Ceremony. Here’s a selection of reactions from U.K. comics folk.

Did you know there’s a Rich Johnson as well as a Rich Johnston? Rather than being a wispy bearded gossip-monger, the man we’ll call The Other Rich is a teacher-turned-cartoonist, influenced by the tradition of the great DC Thomson comic anthologies The Beano and The Dandy. I loved the work he produced as the nation got swept up in euphoria and expectation. His Bradley Wiggins tribute, the Wigbot (above), reminds me of the joke that originated after the Beijing Olympics: the British are good at any sport that involves sitting — cycling, rowing, sailing — but not so much the other stuff. Continue Reading »

Box Brown talks about Andre the Giant

It seems like Box Brown has been making comics for a long time, so it’s a bit of a shock to realize that when First Second Books publishes his Andre the Giant next year, it will be his first full-length graphic novel. Brown is the creator of the webcomic Bellen and Everything Dies (which doesn’t seem to be available online, except for this). An episode from that comic, “Ben Died of a Train,” won the Ignatz Award for Best Comic. Most recently, his The Survivalist was published by U.K. publisher Blank Slate.

Brown is also the moving force behind Retrofit Comics, which published a number of indy one-shot comics in print format, as well as several Kickstarters; the latest is an anthology in the spirit of the alt-manga magazine Garo.

Andre the Giant is a big step for Brown, who is going from self-published and small-press indy comics to a graphic novel from a big publisher. So naturally, I had some questions, which he was kind enough to answer.

Robot 6: What interested you about Andre the Giant, and why do you think his story is a good fit for the comics medium?

I grew up a big wrestling fan. And, at some point last year found myself looking up Andre on the Internet. I read that Andre got a ride to school from Samuel Beckett when he was a kid. I had two free weeks before SPX and thought that would make a good zine. Then I just kept diving back in for more. And eventually I’d assembled 100 pages worth of Andre stories.

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DC Comics spoils Joker reveal, irks Greg Capullo

From "Batgirl" #14, by Ed Benes

Despite the best efforts of the Batman creative team to keep the Joker’s new look under wraps, DC Comics spoiled the big reveal Monday with the release of the November solicitations, which show a knife-wielding Clown Prince of Crime front and center on the cover of Batgirl #14. Needless to say, Batman artist Greg Capullo, who redesigned the Dark Knight’s arch-nemesis, was none too pleased.

“As careful as I’ve been to save revealing our new Joker, the powers that be have let it out ahead if our book,” he wrote on Twitter. “Stay tuned fir MY pics. In my younger days, I’d have punched several holes in the walls of my office by now. Rest assured, I will give you terror when I draw him.”

Reintroduced in DC’s New 52 as a homicidal maniac being pursued by police, the Joker was last seen in Detective Comics #1 where, imprisoned in Arkham Asylum, the Dollmaker surgically removed his face. Although much of Gotham presumed the Joker dead, last month DC released a grisly promo image teasing his return in October’s Batman #13, which kicks off the “Death of the Family” crossover (a nod to the 1988-89 story arc in which the Joker killed the second Robin, Jason Todd). That image, of a piercing blue eye peering out of the darkness and through the carved-off face of the classic villain, was followed by the cover for Issue 13, which depicts the partially obscured face of the Joker reflected in a hand mirror.

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Comics A.M. | Kodansha’s Attack on Titan tops 9 million in Japan

Attack on Titan, Vol. 1

Publishing | Kodansha’s Attack on Titan, the action-fantasy manga by Hajime Isayama, has sold more than 9 million copies in Japan, according to the Sports Nippon newspaper. The eighth volume was released last week in Japan; Kodansha USA will publish the second volume next month in North America. [Anime News Network]

Publishing | Alex Zalben pays a visit to the Valiant offices and talks shop with editor Warren Simons: “Asking whether the idea was to set these up so that you can go right to TV, video games, or other properties, Simons strongly denies that was behind the relaunch. ‘I think you have guys who really love comic books,’ said Simons. ‘I’m just interested in publishing comic books. Obviously in this space, in this day and age you want to pay attention to everything – just like everyone does. But I think it all derives from publishing … [The publishers] just wanted to read comics about the characters that they loved growing up!’” [MTV Geek]

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Talking Comics with Tim | Monkeybrain Comics’ Allison Baker & Chris Roberson

Monkeybrain Comics

Since the first time I hung out with Monkeybrain Books founders Allison Baker and Chris Roberson at the Westin hotel bar during HeroesCon a few years back, I have longed to do a joint interview with them. While their publishing house Monkeybrain Books has been in existence since 2001, in July Baker and Roberson launched a creator-owned comiXology-distributed digital imprint, Monkeybrain Comics. While much is known of Roberson, not everyone knows Baker’s background. As detailed at their company website: “Allison Baker has worked in feature film and political media production for more than 13 years, while also managing the day-to-day operations of Chris Roberson and Monkeybrain Books.” Please allow me to apologize in advance for not quizzing Roberson about my new favorite Monkeybrain work of his, Edison Rex. Update: After I finished posting this article, Monkeybrain announced that tomorrow (August 14) would mark the release of a 99-cent autobiographical story by Kurt Busiek, Thoughts on A Winter Morning, drawn by Steve Lieber (a story which was originally appeared in Negative Burn: Winter 2005).

Tim O’Shea: Which came first, the decision to move to Portland or the decision to move Monkeybrain into the digital realm?

Allison Baker: The move to PDX was definitely decided first. Monkeybrain Comics started out as an idea and theory, trying to solve a lot of the problems creators run into when working within a traditional publishing model. The final piece of the puzzle came to us at the end of last year. After that we started actively putting it all together in the beginning of 2012.

Chris Roberson: Yeah, we’d been planning our move to Portland for well over a year, and talking about it for a year or two before that. The germ of the idea that would eventually become Monkeybrain Comics was planted around the same time, but didn’t take its final form as a digital comics imprint until the end of last year.

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Reading the Internet so you don’t have to, Part 6


This turned up recently on Andrew Ross MacLean’s Tumblr: Hellboy versus Anung Un Rama. I was unfamiliar with MacLean’s work, but a little poking round his portfolio shows an artist with a really likeable style, one which nicely fuses all the influences he cites, such as Mike Mignola, Gabriel Bá, Rafael Grampa, James Harren, Paul Pope and Paul Maybury (all of whose work he regularly reblogs).

More below: X-Men! Dredd! Spider-Man! Zombie East-Anglian Kings!. Continue Reading »

Look at these jam pieces by Joe Kubert and many, many others

As the comics community continues to process the news of Joe Kubert’s death, everything else feels very secondary. One way of honoring the legendary artist and teacher is by appreciating his art, and the art of his peers. Steve Niles discovered this series of art jams featuring a Kubert Hawkman alongside Wendy Pini’s Elfquest characters, Neal Adams’ Conan, Dave Cockrum’s Human Torch, and others. The rest of the jams include characters drawn by C.C. Beck, John Romita, John Byrne, George Perez, Gray Morrow, Dave Sim, Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko, Curt Swan, Jim Aparo, Milton Caniff, Hal Foster, Al Williamson, Chester Gould, and the list goes on and on.

I don’t know the history behind these pieces, but it occurs to me that many of these comics legends are still with us. In addition to saying our good-byes to Mr. Kubert and offering appreciations of his work, another great way to honor his legacy might be to reach out and express similar appreciation to living creators whose work we love.

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No good can come from succumbing to ‘Bat Temptation’

Except for you, of course, because you’d have this very funny print hanging on your wall (see the full image below). The artist is DnaPna and you can buy his “Bat Temptation” piece in a variety of formats at society6.

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Across the Pond | A roundup of U.K. comics news

The long-lived children’s comic The Beano has a new look (and a new subtitle: The Beano starring Dennis the Menace and Gnasher). Comics artist Lew Stringer takes a look inside at some of the changes. Nigel Parkinson takes over on Dennis the Menace, who will start to be menacing again; his character was watered down a while ago, but apparently the editors have started listening to 8-year-old boys, which is a good thing in this case. And several of the long-lived comics have had art changes. Only 19 of this issue’s 36 pages are comics, though.

• Stringer also reviews a history of The Dandy, which has the same parentage as The Beano but in recent years has become the edgier of the two (i.e. more fart jokes). It looks like The Beano may be evening things out a bit in that regard. John Freeman posts a lengthier review of the book at Down the Tubes.

• Jeremy Briggs talks to the organizers of Carlisle Mega-Con, a new convention taking place next weekend. As the organizers are also staffers at the local Waterstone’s, they have some insight into local tastes; interestingly, manga and superhero comics are both popular, but customers really prefer “genre books with a dark edge to them such as Vertigo.”

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