Current Transmissions

First look: Cover for ‘Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard,’ Vol. 2

Mouse Guard Legends of the Guard Vol 2 – Full Casewrap small

Archaia has provided Robot 6 with an exclusive look at David Petersen’s cover for the second volume of the anthology Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard. The book will be solicited in the new Previews catalog (out Friday), but this is the first time anyone who wasn’t at the Mouse Guard panel at Comic-Con will get to see the cover.

The first volume of Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard was nominated for an Eisner Award, and this volume is just as strong, with short stories set in the Mouse Guard universe by an impressive array of creators, including Stan Sakai, Bill Willingham, Rick Geary and Christian Slade, all told around the fireplace at the June Alley Inn. It’s due out in November.

Click below for a larger look at the cover.

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‘Peanuts’ meets The Smiths in This Charming Charlie blog

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In the grand Internet tradition of combining one thing you like with another thing you like, the blog This Charming Charlie matches panels from Charles Schulz’s legendary comic strip Peanuts with the lyrics of ’80s alternative rock pioneers The Smiths. The results range from funny to poignant — fitting, given both of the source materials.

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Shigeru Mizuki’s ‘Kitaro’ is Ge-Ge-Ge-great comics

KITARO.coverSince 2011, Drawn and Quarterly has published three major Shigeru Mizuki books. The first was Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, a semi-autobiographical comic about Japanese soldiers in a bizarre, existential crisis at the end of World War II, when it was pretty clear they were defeated: continue to fight to the death anyway, or be put to death by their own leaders. The second was NonNonBa, a childhood memoir about the artist’s relationship with his grandmother, and the interest in the yokai of Japanese folklore that became central to the artist’s long life of work.

The third and latest is Kitaro, a 400-page collection of 1967-1969 stories from  Mizuki’s Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro manga. Of the three, it’s the book that is definitely the least interesting to talk about, and perhaps has the least literary value, being a more straightforward genre work focused more on entertainment than wrestling with the big issues of national identity that the two previous releases.

It;s also the most fun and easy to read, however, and it bears an important, even foundational, place in the story of Mizuki’s life’s work: This is his signature work, the reason Mizuki is so famous, so beloved and so influential.

And he is influential. Like Osamu Tezuka in manga and Jack Kirby in American superhero comics, even newer or  younger readers who might never have heard of those men or never read a single one of their works nevertheless unknowingly enjoy works by artists they influenced. In his introduction to the collection, Matt Alt not only situates Mizuki with a place of honor in the centuries-long history of yokai study and celebration, he also partially credits Mizuki’s comics with paving the way for Pokemon.

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Nominees announced for 2013 Ignatz Awards

heads or tailsThe Small Press Expo has announced the nominees for the 2013 Ignatz Awards, the festival prize named in honor of the brick-wielding mouse in George Herriman’s Krazy Kat comic strip.

Nominees are selected by a panel of five cartoonists — this year it was Lisa Hanawalt, Dustin Harbin, Damien Jay, Sakura Maku and Jason Shiga — and then voted on by SPX attendees. The winners will be announced Sept. 14 during a ceremony at the Bethesda, Maryland, convention. The nominees are:

Outstanding Artist

  • Lilli Carré, Heads or Tails
  • Michael DeForge, Lose #4
  • Miriam Katin, Letting It Go
  • Ulli Lust, Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life
  • Patrick McEown, Hair Shirt

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Evan Young on ‘The Last West’

TheLastWest01_CVRWhen I spoke to Evan Young for my Kickstand column back in May, he had just canceled the Kickstarter for his comic The Last West, the tale of a world in which all scientific and cultural progress has just stopped. But he had done it for a good reason: He had just signed with Alterna Comics, and having a publisher changed enough things that he felt he had to retool the Kickstarter.

Now he’s back, with a new Kickstarter campaign that has already exceeded its goal, and it seemed like a good time to ask him about what changed (and what didn’t).

Robot 6: First of all, can you briefly summarize why you cancelled and relaunched your Kickstarter for The Last West?

Evan Young: Good question. To make a long story short, we finalized a digital publishing deal with Peter Simeti over at Alterna Comics, which came smack in the middle of our first Kickstarter campaign. Which was fantastic for us! Unfortunately, it was not fantastic for our Kickstarter campaign at the time. Kickstarter rules don’t allow you to modify rewards in any way once someone has backed your project for that particular reward, so for that reason alone we were going to have to cancel it and reboot. The rewards we offered the first time around were not geared toward a published book (either digital or in print), they were not timed to coincide with our new Alterna schedule, etc. Just a bunch of problems for us that we weren’t going to be able to work out while at the same time staying fair to our backers.

So at the end of the day, we thought the most fair thing to do would be to cancel the campaign and relaunch it once we had all of our details sorted out — so that’s what we’ve done.

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Robot Reviews | ‘March: Book One’

March cover (hi-res)The first volume of March, released this week by Top Shelf Productions,just oozes respectability. Its author and protagonist is a well-known and well-respected figure, no less than a venerated U.S. congressman. It’s about an important subject – race relations – and set in a iconic and turbulent time period – the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. It’s the kind of book that both the comics industry and the mainstream media like to trip over themselves in holding aloft as an example of the sort of general interest, literate work that would not only appeal to a non-comics reading public, but can be shown as an example of how the medium is capable of more than mere spandex fisticuffs.

In other words, I absolutely dreaded having to read the thing.

It’s not that I think that comics only work best only when they recognize their low-gutter, high-slapstick, overwrought melodrama origins or that cartoonists shouldn’t aspire to tackle complex, serious issues. It’s more that these sorts of works – biographical dramas where the central character happens to be caught in the midst of a major historical event – tend to simply not be very good, a few notable exceptions aside. All too often it seems as though the authors make the fatal mistake of assuming the subject matter itself is enough to carry the work forward and neglect to focus on things like crafting sharp dialogue, compelling page compositions or an interesting – or even comprehensible – plot. The end result is a lot of boring books with noble intentions.

Thankfully, that’s not the case with March. While the comic stays well within its basic, Bildungsroman structure, it’s an engaging, well-crafted read nevertheless.

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George Romero offers update about his Marvel zombie comic

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It’s been about seven months since Marvel teased George A. Romero’s not-so-secret comic series for “fall 2013,” but since then there’s been no more information about the project. However, it is coming, the Godfather of Zombies assures — it’ll just be a little later than expected.

“They were going to originally launch it in October, but I understand that they’re pushing it back,” Romero tells Daily Dead. “I don’t know why, but maybe they don’t want to bridge it over Christmas.”

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Comics A.M. | Archie alters story arc over Russia’s anti-gay laws

Kevin Keller's first kiss

Kevin Keller’s first kiss

Publishing | The Archie gang has canceled a (fictional) trip to Russia because of that country’s draconian anti-gay laws. One law would allow the arrest of foreigners suspected of being gay or “pro-gay,” while another defines any pro-gay statement as pornography and therefore makes it a criminal act to make such statements in front of anyone under the age of 18. Archie cartoonist Dan Parent, who created Riverdale’s first openly gay character, Kevin Keller, is taking a stand in his own way: “Russia should be boycotted, so much so that actually in an upcoming special four-issue story arc I’m writing the Archie gang are going to take a world tour to four countries. Russia was to be one of them. But they’re not going there now. They just can’t and they won’t. They love and support Kevin.” [Back2Stonewall]

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Won’t you help Stan Lee reach 1 million Twitter followers?

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Of all the worthwhile causes clamoring for our attention, few tug at the heartstrings like the plight of Stan Lee, aka “The Man.” You see, while many so-called “celebrities” — Kim Kardashian! Charlie Sheen! Donald Trump! — have millions of Twitter followers, the beloved writer, editor, actor, action figure and generalissimo has … well, a lot less than that.

“How many aren’t hearing this desperate man’s cries of ‘Excelsior!’ over the Internet?” Attack of the Show! alum Alison Haislip asks in the moving PSA below. Too many, Alison Haislip. Too damned many.

But you can help: One clickone simple click — goes a long way toward making lil’ Stan Lee’s dreams of 1 million Twitter followers a reality. Is that too much to ask to bring a smile to The Man’s face? Act now; operators are standing by.

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Brandon Seifert on why he doesn’t write rape scenes

Witch Doctor“Rape is violence. But that’s not all it is. It’s also defilement — having your body violated and desecrated. And it’s an interruption over your agency, your control over your body and your life. On top of all that, rape victims often end up feeling that they were complicit in their own attack (‘I should’ve told him no again,’ or ‘I should’ve tried to fight him off harder,’ or ‘I hate myself because I just froze up while it was happening.’). It’s awful, it’s scarring, and for a lot of people it sticks with them very vividly, for a very long time. And for a lot of people, those memories are very easily triggered… by, for instance, seeing a rape scene on TV or reading one in a comic.

Rape is also ridiculously, sickeningly common. One in six women in America reports having someone at least try to rape her. But honestly, in my experience? I feel like it’s more like one in four women. Or one in three. There have been times in my life when it seemed like every women in my life had been roofied at a bar, or followed into a bathroom by a guy at a party, or got forced to do things she didn’t want to do by a boyfriend, or was date raped, or was molested by a family friend, or… Or… Or…

And the very least I can do? As a friend, and as a responsible adult? Is not to write comics that cause people I care about to relive some of the most horrific events of their lives.”

Brandon Seifert, co-creator of Witch Doctor and Spirit of the Law, explaining why he doesn’t use rape as a plot device.

Dave Taylor’s unpublished cover for ‘Batman: Death by Design’

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He might have a common name, but he’s got an uncommon talent. British artist Dave Taylor is working on his childhood hero Judge Dredd for 2000AD, and on his blog he recently revealed a great unpublished cover he had in mind for Batman: Death by Design, the 2012 graphic novel he collaborated on with Chip Kidd called Batman: Death by Design. The piece, which Taylor calls a “feel sample,” designed to convey how the book might look.

The final cover featured a more marketing-friendly headshot of Batman, but this unpublished gem deserves to be seen.

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Don McGregor bringing back ‘Sabre,’ with help from Kickstarter

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One of comics’ earliest and most spirited creator-owned heroes is aiming to return to comics — and he needs your help to do it.

The sci-fi swashbuckler Sabre, created in the mid-’70s by legendary Black Panther and Killraven writer Don McGregor, is aiming for a comeback with a new miniseries now seeking funding on Kickstarter. The series, titled Sabre: The Early Future Years, sees McGregor teaming with the revolutionary 1980s artist Trevor Von Eeden to tell the first new Sabre story in 30 years. On the Kickstarter page, McGregor promises everything from swordplay and flintlock lasers to robot stallions and nocturnal trackers.

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The beard is back in ‘Aquaman’ #25

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With the advent of DC Comics’ New 52, de facto head writer (and DC Entertainment chief creative officer) Geoff Johns took on the unenviable task of reinvigorating DC’s underwater superhero Aquaman. After nearly two years, Johns and his various collaborators have done so with aplomb, and it looks like with November’s landmark 25th issue they’re bringing back a long-lost character to the Aquaman mythos.

The beard.

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Koyama Press announces four new titles for spring 2014

SSafari Honeymoonmall-press comics publisher Koyama Press has announced four new titles for its spring list:

Cat Person, by Seo Kim: Kim, a storyboard artist for the Cartoon Network show Adventure Time, started with a challenge to draw a cartoon a day and ended up with what looks like a winsome collection of cartoons about cats and everyday life.

A Body Beneath, by Michael DeForge: DeForge was nominated for an Eisner this year for his Lose #4; this is a collection of issues 2-5 of that anthology. I don’t think I can improve on this bit of catalog text: “He has crafted a phantasmagoria of stories that feature a spider-infested pet horse head, post-apocalyptic dogs dealing with existential angst, the romantic undertones of a hired hit, and more.”

Safari Honeymoon, by Jesse Jacobs: This seems to be the one graphic novel of the batch that has a single narrative arc; it’s the story of a newlywed couple who find love and horror on a honeymoon trip through the jungle.

100 Crushes, by Elisha Lim: A collection of new and previously published queer comics set in Toronto, Berlin, and Singapore, among other locales, and including “interviews, memoirs, and gossip from an international queer vanguard.”

In case you missed it in Comics A.M., there’s a great interview with Koyama Press publisher Annie Koyama at Sequential Highway.

(via Tom Spurgeon)

James Jean leaves U.S. angry and broke, reemerges in Asia poor and happy

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We’ve been taking an active interest in James Jean’s post-comics career in fine art, covering the multiple-Eisner winner’s exhibition Parallel Lives at New York City’s Jack Tilton Gallery in January, and featuring the innovative e-book created from that show’s catalog in June. However, a worrying interview with Juxtapoz magazine designed to publicize the show makes it clear Jean’s head was in a very negative place, preoccupied with the details of a messy and painful divorce that was on the verge of leaving him bankrupt and at the end of his tether.

Jean’s response to the situation appears to have been to disappear for a while, but he’s reemerged in Asia, seemingly never being too specific about his location, and posting this message via his Instagram account:

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