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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?

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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

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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?

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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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‘Batman Incorporated’ ends in July, with Morrison variant cover

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“Batman Incorporated” #13, by Chris Burnham

Rather than continue Batman Incorporated following Grant Morrison’s announced departure, DC Comics will end the series with July’s Issue 13.

The news, revealed in IGN.com’s preview of the Batman solicitations, comes as little surprise, as the title was a vehicle for Morrison and artist Chris Burnham to tell the story of Bruce Wayne’s global team of heroes the writer began in 2010. The first arc volume ended in December 2011, following DC’s New 52 relaunch, with the second volume debuting in May 2012.

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Why you should be reading ‘Red She-Hulk’

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Things got a little unmanageable with the Hulk comics for a while: We had two Hulks running around, each with his own series (plus Son of Hulk) and I started losing track of the She-Hulks when Jennifer Walters was joined not only by Red She-Hulk, but also Thundra She-Hulk. It was too much and I checked out, even though Jeff Parker was writing some of those comics — and Jeff Parker comics are among my favorites.

In a roundabout way, his writing is why you should be reading Red She-Hulk (not that the gorgeous art by Carlo Pagulayan, Wellington Alves and Val Staples should be ignored), but I’m going to get more specific than that. My point is that I wouldn’t blame you for rolling your eyes at Red She-Hulk’s having her own series when the real She-Hulk doesn’t (not outside of FF anyway). I don’t think Parker would either, though. From the way Red She-Hulk is presented in the early issues of the series, it appears that Parker knows he has some work to do in making her a character that readers want to spend time with.

This is something that Red She-Hulk shares with Geoff Johns’ Aquaman, but Johns went meta with his story and all but included cameos of himself looking directly at the reader and screaming, “Aquaman doesn’t suck!” Parker uses more art. Specifically, he uses Machine Man, aka the Reason You Should Be Reading Red She-Hulk. Stay with me here, because I know Machine Man’s not usually much more of a draw than Red She-Hulk is.

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Remembering Carmine Infantino

Lightning strikes Barry Allen in Showcase #4

Carmine Infantino empowers Barry Allen in Showcase #4 (1956; inks by Joe Kubert)

As part of a career in superhero comics that reached back to their beginnings, Carmine Infantino was one of the pillars of the Silver Age, and not just because he was a big part of its formative moment. His sleek redesign of the Flash became the avatar for DC Comics’ resurgent superhero line, and his unique style helped define not just the Scarlet Speedster’s world, but eventually all of the company’s titles.

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Tom Strong returns in July with ‘Planet of Peril’

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Ahead of the release of the Vertigo solicitations, MTV Geek has official confirmation that the long-teased Tom Strong and the Planet of Peril will at last debut in July.

Initially discussed in early 2011, following the closing of DC Comics’ Wildstorm imprint, the miniseries teams the character’s co-creator Chris Sprouse with his Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom collaborator Peter Hogan for an adventure that sends the science hero on a quest for the one thing that can save the lives of his daughter Tesla and her unborn child.

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Judge denies DC’s claims against attorney in Superman feud

action1Following a series of devastating legal blows to the estates of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, their lawyer has finally received some good news: A federal judge denied a bid by DC Comics to force Marc Toberoff to pay $500,000 in attorneys  fees.

According to Variety, U.S. District Judge Otis Wright on Thursday rejected the publisher’s 2010 claims that Toberoff illegally interfered with its copyright claims to the Man of Steel when he convinced the Siegel and Shuster heirs to walk away from “mutually beneficial” agreements and seek to recapture the rights to the first Superman story in Action Comics #1. They argued that the attorney stood to gain a controlling interest in the property.

But Wright sided with Toberoff and the Siegel and Shuster heirs, saying that DC had waited too long to make its claims of tortious interference. “The point here is that DC had more than enough knowledge by November 2006 to have tickled a suspicion that its business relationship with the Shusters was being tampered with,” the judge wrote. “It was then—and not when DC gathered the smoking-gun evidence supporting each element of its cause of action—that it should have filed suit.”

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Comics A.M. | Disney layoffs expected as part of restructuring

Disney

Disney

Business | Marvel parent Disney is expected to begin layoffs in the coming weeks as part of a planned reorganization that follows a company-wide review of operations. The film studio is believed to undergo the deepest cuts, specifically in marketing, home entertainment and production.

The news arrives a little more than five months after Disney announced its $4.05 billion purchase of Lucasfilm; earlier this week, word spread the media giant has closed LucasArts, the video-game subsidiary of Lucasfilm, and axed 150 employees. According to Variety, Disney executives told each division to ensure “that staff levels are in line with the company’s needs in a changing marketplace, particularly in divisions affected by shifts in new media and technologies.” The film division will bear the brunt of the layoffs in large part because of Disney’s increasing reliance on Pixar (purchased in 2006 for $7.4 billion), Marvel (purchased in 2009 for $4 billion) and, soon, Lucasfilm. [Variety]

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