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Lesley Vamos’ portraits capture aging heroes, wrinkles and all

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With rare exception, characters in superhero comics seldom age. Sure, there’s Savage Dragon and, once upon a time, DC’s Justice Society and former sidekicks like Dick Grayson, Wally West and Donna Troy, but by and large, publishers (and creators and readers) like only the illusion of change; the heroes can’t actually age (or, in several cases, get married, as that mysteriously makes them older as well).

However, no one apparently told that to Lesley Vamos, artist for Lion Forge Entertainment’s Punky Brewster comic, who this month has been depicting costumed in their golden years in a series of wonderful illustrations on her Facebook page. From Storm to Iron Man to The Phantom, Vamos captures them and their wrinkles, gray hairs, liver spots and bulging midsections.

Check out Ant-Man and Rogue below, and even more on Vamos’ Facebook page.

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Valiant teams with Catalyst Game Labs for ‘Valiant Universe RPG’

valiant promo imageValiant Entertainment has announced an agreement for Catalyst Game Labs to produce role-playing and tabletop games based on its comic properties, a partnership that will kick off later this year with the release of Valiant Universe RPG.

Using the Cue System, the Origins and ENnie Award-nominated system first published in Catalyst’s Cosmic Patrol, Valiant Universe RPG will allow gamers to play any of dozens of characters — from X-O Manowar to Bloodshot to Shadowman — in a “dark and gritty world where every mission and every battle has deadly consequences.”

“Catalyst is exceptional at what they do, and we couldn’t be happier to be working with a games publisher of their caliber on Valiant’s very first RPG,” Valiant’s Russell A. Brown said in a statement. “With such a skilled an enthusiastic team at the helm, we have every faith that Valiant’s first foray into the world of role-play and tabletop gaming will live up to the expectations of our fans around the world.”

The announcement follows IDW Publishing’s recent entry into gaming through a partnership with Pandasaurus Games; a Kill Shakespeare game is scheduled to arrive in May.

It’s Goku vs. Luffy in the streets of Tokyo

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In the battle no one ever expected — Dragon Ball‘s Goku vs. One Piece‘s Monkey D. Luffy — no clear winner emerges, but there is an obvious loser: the sidewalks of Tokyo.

The pretty impressive life-size sculpture is on display through Sunday outside the Shibuya Parco department store to promote the release of J-Stars Victory Vs., the Shonen Jump 45th-anniversary multiplayer fighting game featuring many of the magazine’s most popular characters.

More photos can be found at Game Watch Impress.

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Watch that BBC documentary on Frank Quitely

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The BBC Four documentary about Frank Quitely we mentioned a couple of weeks ago has found its way online for viewing outside the United Kingdom.

The 30-minute episode aired as part of the channel’s What Do Artists Do All Day? series, which as the title suggests, centers on the working lives of artists. This installment follows the Glaswegian artist during a day of penciling Jupiter’s Legacy.

“If you’re a brain surgeon or a judge — a bad day at work is a big deal for someone,” Quitely says. “A bad day for me is when I rub out more marks than I leave on the page.”

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Lynn Johnston donates more material to Canadian archives

lynn johnston-archives canadaLibrary and Archives Canada has expanded its Lynn Johnston collection with the acquisition of new material, including more than 3,000 drawings, from the creator of For Better or For Worse.

“This is a remarkable addition to our holdings,” Hervé Déry, acting librarian and archivist of Canada, said in a statement. “Lynn Johnston’s work is significant to Canadians. We recognize ourselves in her characters’ reaction to everyday life.”

A native of Collingwood, Ontario, the cartoonist wrote and drew the comic strip about the Canadian family the Pattersons, which was syndicated from 1979 to 2008 in more than 2,000 newspapers worldwide. Returns continue to appear in almost as many newspapers. Johnston in 1985 was the first woman and the first Canadian to win the National Cartoonist Society’s Reuben Award; she was also nominated in 1993 for the Pulitzer Prize.

The new acquisition consists of 3,282 drawings, 296 watercolors, 3.5 meters (11.48 feet) worth of textual material, 244 photographs, 13 reproductions and eight object classified as “dolls and ephemera.” Those join 3,000 drawings and 5.5 meters of text already in the archive’s Johnston collection.

Based on Ottawa, Library and Archives Canada is a federal institution tasked with acquiring and preserving the country’s documentary heritage.

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A look at the cosplayers of London Super Comic Convention

Mary Turner of Getty Images and Carl Court of Agence France Presse captured some terrific images of cosplayers at London Super Comic Convention, which drew thousands of fans Saturday and Sunday to the Excel Centre. My favorite may be the troupe of dancing Predators, above, but there are plenty of other good ones below, from Iron Man posing with a pint-sized Captain America to Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy cosplayers Kia Sunda and Maria Grozova making sure their costumes and makeup are just right.

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Comics A.M.| Inaugural Indiana Comic Con draws 15,000

Indiana Comic Con poster by Joelle Jones

Indiana Comic Con poster by Joelle Jones

Conventions | The inaugural Indiana Comic Con, held over the weekend at the Indianapolis Convention Center, attracted nearly 15,000 attendees, and it sold out on Saturday. Guests included comics creators Joe Eisma, Steve Englehart, Geof Isherwood, Joelle Jones, Don Kramer, Cary Nord and George Perez, and actors Evan Peters, Caity Lotz, Maisie Williams and Daniel Cudmore. [WRTV]

Comics sales | Comics sales in the direct market were down in February for the second time in two months, according to Diamond Comic Distributors. John Jackson Miller runs the numbers: Sales of comics and graphic novels combined are down 10.39 percent from February 2013 in terms of dollars, 14.77 percent in units. Because January sales were also anemic, year-to-date sales are down as well. Still, Miller notes, total dollars are up 3 percent from February 2012. February is traditionally a low month for comic sales, and the number of releases is the lowest in months, with just 692 new products (comics, graphic novels and magazines) being shipped last month. [Comichron]

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Best of 7 | ‘Hawkeye,’ ‘Batman,’ ‘Adventures of Superman’ and more

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Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out.

This week is all about the new releases, including Batman, Hawkeye, Beasts of Burden and more. So let’s get to it …

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Comic-Con badges go on sale this morning [Updated]

Art by Thom Zahler

Art by Thom Zahler

Badges for Comic-Con International 2014 go on sale this morning at 9 Pacific, kicking off the anxiety-inducing annual rite for tens of thousands of hopeful attendees.

This year sees a couple of major changes: First, of course, is the elimination of four-day badges, which organizers believe gives attendees more flexibility and will allow more people to attend each day. The second is the personal registration code, implemented to prevent ineligible members from entering the EPIC Registration waiting room and further bog down the process.

If you have a Member ID code but haven’t received an email containing your personal registration code and a link to the EPIC Registration landing page, you may want to take a peek in your spam folder. The landing page should be open now to allow hopefuls plenty of time to enter their code and authorize their device to enter the waiting room. (You don’t have to camp out there all morning, however; there are no advantages for being the early bird. As long as you’re there by 8:45 or 8:50 to do what you need to do, you’ll be fine.)

Toucan, the official Comic-Con International blog, has a lengthy Open Online Registration FAQ that will probably answer any last-minute questions you may have.

Good luck, everyone. We’ll be checking back in with frequent updates throughout the process (which last year went on for about 90 minutes).

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The Fifth Color | Heroic realism in comics

from CSBG: Drawing Crazy Patterns – The Helicarrier Crashing

must be Thursday…

I listen to a lot of podcasts because I don’t sleep very well, and if they’re especially enrapturing or I just can’t drift off, their topics float around with me through the day. How Did This Get Made did the former when it discussed the movie A Winter’s Tale and the idea of magical realism.

Magic realism is “a genre where magic elements are a natural part in an otherwise mundane, realistic environment” (thanks, Wikipedia!), a concept we’re accustomed to as comic readers. There’s a lot that goes unsaid about New York City’s alien-invasion rate, and we’re fine with that.

Marvel is big on making its universe “our universe,” and while DC Comics keeps its distance with completely fictional cities like Metropolis and Gotham, Marvel is proud to have its heroes interact with New York City. While audiences (or at least the marketing departments) clamor for more “gritty” reboots and realism in their comic movies, do remember that Gotham was threatened by mass hysteria in Batman Begins and a giant nuke in The Dark Knight Rises. We crave dark grit but still want those fantastic elements that challenge the hero and raise the stakes.

So is it reality we crave or is it something else?

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Matt Ritter and Adam Elbatimy on 8-bit ‘Nova Phase’

Cover#1Veronica Darkwater lives in a world that’s a bit jagged around the edges. That’s because she’s the heroine of Matt Ritter and Adam Elbatimy’s Nova Phase, a comic that is drawn in an 8-bit style reminiscent of old-school video games.

Robot 6 readers got a sneak peek at the first issue late last year, and now the first two issues are available on comiXology; the first issue is free, and the second is just 99 cents. Ritter and Elbatimy plan on a six-issue story to be released digitally first, with every two issues collected into a print comic by SLG Publishing. Eventually, the whole story will be collected in one print volume.

This comic raises some interesting questions of technique and format, so I asked Ritter and Elbatimy to share some of their process and their thinking.

Robot 6: I know everyone asks this, but I’m going to start with it anyway: Where did the idea for this comic come from? Why do a space opera about a bounty hunter in 8-bit-style art? Did the story come first, or was the art a part of the concept from the beginning?

Matthew Ritter: I was interning over at Dark Horse Entertainment, and I wanted to pitch them something before I left. So I contacted my artist friend Adam, who I had worked on other projects with/for. We both loved comics and pixel art, so as we tossed ideas back and forth we settled on pixel art. We talked about some video game spoof comics and other ideas, and eventually I wrote a little short piece set in the Nova Phase world, he liked it, and so we went on from that.

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From Morbius to Mordo: Why does ‘mor’ sound so sinister?

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What is it about the syllable “mor” that denotes villainy?

After all, at Marvel there’s Baron Mordo, the longtime enemy of Doctor Strange; Morg, the remorselss herald of Galactus; and Morbius, who lately is more misunderstood than evil. And DC Comics boasts Mordru the Merciless, the, well, merciless Lord of Chaos; Morgaine le Fey, the diabolical sorceress; Mordecai Smyt and Morax, archfiend and fiend of Hell, respectively. Oh! Plus, Morgan Edge. And those are only a handful of notables from comic books.

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Conversing on Comics with Mike Baron

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Mike Baron has done it all in comics, and then some. But what he loves most is creating his own characters, and he was doing “creator-owned comics” years before it became a movement. A collaboration with Steve Rude, Baron’s Nexus was one of the 1980s gleaming independent gems — and Baron expanded on that with the PTSD-prone veteran-turned-hero Badger.

Like many of his colleagues, Baron spent time at the Big Two, crafting a six-year run on The Punisher and doing some memorable work on Deadman. But just as he broke into comics creating his own characters, 2014 sees Baron returning to that — both in comics and in prose novels. The Colorado author is currently writing his fifth novel, Domain, and charting the return of his signature creation Badger.

ROBOT 6 spoke with the two-time Eisner winner spoke at length about his projects, his passion, and his love of martial arts.

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‘The Unwritten’s’ Yuko Shimizu covers ‘Monstrous Affection’

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Tor.com has revealed Yuko Shimizu‘s beautifully disturbing cover for Monstrous Affection: An Anthology of Beastly Tales, edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant. It’s due in September from Candlewick Press.

Shimizu is an award-winning illustrator best known in comics circles for her covers for The Unwritten and The Sandman: The Dream Hunters. The art here is reminiscent of her work on the former, particularly when it comes to the flowers and the ghostly figure. The ghastly baboon-creature wouldn’t be out of place in the Vertigo series, either …

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Oni Press targets bad behavior with convention penalty cards

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With convention season getting into full swing — major events Emerald City Comic Con, WonderCon Anaheim and C2E2 arrive in rapid succession over the coming weeks — Oni Press has stepped up to provide what no con-goer will want to be without: convention penalty cards!

“Comic conventions should be bastions of unfettered fun, enthusiasm, and safety,” explains a post on the Oni Tumblr, but lately it seems like nary a con can go by without some complaint of uncouth or downright inappropriate behavior on the part of some attendees. While these cards are by no means a solution to a systemic problem, we hope they might prove useful should one find themselves in the damnable position of encountering said behavior.”

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