Current Transmissions

Baltimore Orioles’ Chris ‘Crush’ Davis Hulks out

davis-orioles

Earlier this week, it was Chris Davis Day at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, with the O’s celebrating the breakthrough season of first baseman by giving away bright orange T-shirts emblazoned with the unmistakable silhouette of Baltimore’s current favorite son as he cracks yet another ball over the outfield wall.

After spending the early years of his career bouncing between the Texas Rangers minor and Major league teams, Davis was traded to the Orioles in 2011, becoming an everyday player in time to experience the team’s 2012 rise and run at the playoffs before exploding this summer. As of this writing, he leads the American League in home runs, slugging and OBPS (on-base plus slugging), and has been alternating the lead in batting average and on base percentage with a handful of other players, including last year’s Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and fellow Oriole Manny Machado.

But what, pray tell, does this have to do with comics?

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Yam Books to publish Onsmith collection

Diminished Returns

Diminished Returns

Yam Books Publisher Rina Ayuyang has announced the upcoming release of Diminished Returns: Selected Works of Onsmith:

This book will lead the reader into Onsmith’s funny and outlandish world, full of shady characters and troublesome shenanigans through a mix of never-published stories, favorite gag strips, and mesmerizing prints and illustrations.

No price details or page count has been released but the book is scheduled to arrive in spring 2014. Onsmith will be at the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE)  in June and might reveal more information about the book and its contents then.

Hailing from Chicago, Onsmith (a.k.a. Jeremy Smith) should be familiar to the average alt-comix reader, even if they don’t recognize the name, as his work has appeared in such anthologies as StudyGroup, Hotwire Comix, Black Eye, Graphics Classics, Ivan Brunetti’s Anthology of Graphic Fiction and many others. To the best of my knowledge, however, this is the first time any of the artist’s work has been collected.

You can read the full press release below:

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Derek Fridolfs brings Shazam to ‘Justice League Beyond’

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If you want to see what the Justice League does next, you can wait for the next issue or you can fast-forward into the future — the far future — in DC Comics’ digital-first series Justice League Beyond.

Launched last year, Justice League Beyond shows the flagship team in the futuristic continuity established by the animated series Batman Beyond (which also has a digital-first comic). Saturday’s installment of Justice League Beyond features the debut of one of the publisher’s most overlooked heroes — Shazam, whom you can see in a Robot 6’s exclusive preview, below.

Introduced in 1939 by C.C. Beck and Bill Parker, Shazam (formerly known as Captain Marvel) is a wholesome superhero from an earlier, more time who doesn’t always work well in a modern setting. Having him show up in the future of Justice League Beyond, even further removed from his Golden Age roots, makes the classic hero seem that much more of a throwback — and that’s something writer Derek Fridolfs is tackling head-on with artist Ben Caldwell.

On the eve of Shazam’s debut, Robot 6 spoke with Fridolfs about the hero’s introduction, and his work on Justice League Beyond.

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This weekend, it’s Denver Comic Con

denver comic con

In a matter of hours, the doors will open on the Colorado Convention Center for the second annual Denver Comic Con, which has grown by leaps and bounds from its wildly successful inaugural event. That first show drew 27,800 attendees — double what co-founder Charlie Le Greca had expected — but ticket sales for this installment are up 47 percent over last year.

However, the convention’s growth isn’t calculated solely by tickets: Artists Alley will feature more than 220 creators, while the number of panels have increased from 150 to 250.

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Taiwanese animators recreate Hollywood superhero brawl

civil-war-next-media

If you were left confused this week by reports of a brawl breaking out among costumed heroes on Hollywood Boulevard left you confused — two Captain Americas vs. one Spider-Man? — TomoNews US is on hand to sort things out with a typically absurd animated recreation of events.

If the work looks familiar, it’s because these are the folks at Next Media Animation, the Taiwanese studio that previously brought us such gems as explanations of Miles Morales as the new Spider-Man and the insanity of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. This video isn’t nearly as outlandish as those — sorry, no depictions of a Taiwanese wall-crawler strangling a panda — but it does envision what the fight at the Madame Tussauds kiosk might’ve looked like, complete with blood spurting from an unnerving mouth on Spider-Man’s mask.

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Comics A.M. | Syrian cartoonist faces trial; Trudeau taking sabbatical

Editorial cartoon by Akram Raslan

Editorial cartoon by Akram Raslan

Editorial cartoons | The Cartoonists Rights International has given its 2013 Courage in Editorial Cartooning award to Syrian cartoonist Akram Raslan, who was arrested in his newspaper office in Hama, Syria, about six months ago and has been held incommunicado since then; reliable sources report that he has been tortured while in prison. Raslan will be tried on Monday in a special court on an array of charges, including insulting the president and incitement to sedition, stemming from his cartoons. [Cartoonist Rights Network International]

Creators | Meanwhile, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cartoonist Rob Rogers is donating the prize money from the Thomas Nast Award he recently received to the CRNI. Rogers’ donation will go directly to a cartoonist who’s in hiding for fear of being deported to his home country of Syria. [Cartoonist Rights Network International]

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Grumpy Old Fan | Don’t blink! Sizing up the short runs

Spooky!

Spooky!

With the end of Geoff Johns’ tenure on Green Lantern and Grant Morrison’s upcoming farewell to Batman, a fan’s thoughts turn naturally to other extended runs. Marv Wolfman wrote almost every issue of New (Teen) Titans from the title’s 1980 preview through its final issue in 1995. Cary Bates wrote The Flash fairly steadily from May 1971’s Issue 206 through October 1985’s first farewell to Barry Allen (Issue 350). Gerry Conway was Justice League of America’s regular writer for over seven years, taking only a few breaks from February 1978’s Issue 151 through October 1986’s Issue 255.

However, in these days of shorter stays, I wanted to examine some of the runs that, despite their abbreviated nature, left lasting impressions. At first this might sound rather simple. After all, there are plenty of influential miniseries-within-series, like “Batman: Year One” or “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?,” where a special creative team comes in to tell a particular story. Instead, sometimes a series’ regular creative team will burn brightly, but just too quickly, leaving behind a longing for what might have been.

A good example of this is found in Detective Comics #469-76, written by Steve Englehart, penciled by Marshall Rogers and inked by Terry Austin (after Walt Simonson penciled and Al Milgrom inked issues 469-70). Reprinted in the out-of-print Batman: Strange Apparitions paperback, and more recently (sans Simonson/Milgrom) in the hardcover Legends of the Dark Knight: Marshall Rogers, these issues introduced Silver St. Cloud, Rupert Thorne, Dr. Phosphorus and the “Laughing Fish,” featured classic interpretations of Hugo Strange, the Penguin and the Joker, and revamped Deadshot into the high-tech assassin he remains today. Tying all these threads together is Bruce Wayne’s romance with Silver, which for my money is the Bat-books’ version of Casablanca. It’s the kind of much-discussed run that seems like it should have been longer. Indeed, I suspect it’s one of the shorter runs in CSBG’s Top 100 list.
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How ‘Iron Man 3′ should’ve ended (with a Batman cameo?)

hishe-ironman3

The folks at How It Should Have Ended this week turn their repulsor rays on Marvel’s Iron Man 3, to typically funny — and spoiler-filled — results that pick at some of the frayed threads of the hit film’s plot. Oh, and there’s also a comparison between one of the movie’s story elements and that of Pixar’s The Incredibles that you may not have thought of but now probably won’t be able to forget.

And if that’s not enough, there are a handful of cameos, as you can see from the image above.

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Six characters we’d like to see get their own Marvel MAX series

LOGO Marvel Max

Debuting in 2001, Marvel’s MAX line was an attempt to draw a clear line between its vaguely older-teen comics and distinctly “adult” titles featuring some of the well, edgier, characters from its library. The imprint largely excelled at that, with the flagship Alias, by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, and Garth Ennis’ takes on Nick Fury and the Punisher. However, in recent years it’s become a shadow of its former self, existing solely to carry Ennis’ recent return to Fury, and the noble but ill-fitting Wolverine MAX. But that doesn’t mean it can’t have a revival.

In today’s Six by 6, I look at six characters that straddle the fence separating “popular” from “popular enough to carry their own series in the long-term” that would do well to take a trip to the MAX line. Some are no-brainers, while others might surprise you.

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Re-reading ‘Invincible Iron Man,’ Part 3: ‘Stark Reslient’ and ‘My Monsters’

ironman

Today we continue our look at Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca’s The Invincible Iron Man run with the next three volumes, which contain another new direction for the series, and the several instances of people other than Larroca drawing the series for the first time.

Vols. 4 and 5: Stark Resilient Books 1 and 2 (#25-33 ): Like the 12-issue story arc “World’s Most Wanted,” “Stark Resilient” is such a long story arc that it takes up two trade collections.

When we last left Stark, his friends and allies had just reinstalled a back-up of his brain into his body after he was left in a vegetative state by his heroic efforts to deny Norman Osborn access to his most dangerous secrets. While the first two years of the book were devoted to following the Iron Man through-line of the publisher’s massive Civil War-to-Siege storyline, with the 25th issue Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca essentially get to start over.

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‘Civil War’ breaks out among Hollywood’s costumed heroes

hollywood-civil-war

In retrospect, the Superhuman Registration Act doesn’t seem like such a bad idea after all: First there were reports of assault, and theft, by Spider-Man, and then there was that late-night attack by She-Hulk. Now Civil War has broken out among costumed heroes on the streets of Hollywood.

According to CBS Los Angeles, Spider-Man and two Captain Americas (perhaps one was that crazy Cap from the 1950s) came to blows Wednesday afternoon on Hollywood Boulevard, near the Dolby Theatre. The cause? A turf war among superhero impersonators — who, like their Marvel Universe counterparts, operate with little regulation — and accusations of harassing tourists.

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Check out the trailer for Gene Luen Yang’s ‘Boxers & Saints’

saints-dcg

The next project from Gene Luen Yang, creator of American Born Chinese, is a set of two graphic novels that tell both sides of the story of the Boxer Rebellion, the anti-foreign, anti-Christianity, pro-Nationalist movement in China circa 1899-1901. One of the books is about a peasant who joins the Boxers, while the other is about a woman who converts to Catholicism. The books will be sold individually or as a boxed set.

Colored by Lark Pien, Boxers & Saints will be released Sept. 10, and on his blog Yang has revealed a promotional trailer for the project. Check it out below.

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Tending to delicate sensibilities on the funny pages

The comic the Washington Post doesn't want you to see

The comic the Washington Post doesn’t want you to see

You would think being the editor of a newspaper’s comics page, in which all the content is provided by the syndicates, would be the world’s easiest job, but in fact, it’s well known to be a headache, especially when the editors try to change something. T

his recent article from the Capitol Journal, titled “There’s nothing funny about changing the comics page,” could be put under glass at the Smithsonian as the purest example of all such editorials, a perfect distillation of all the necessary elements: reader revolt at the removal of a moribund comic (in this case, Dennis the Menace), introduction of four new comics (they’re good, people, give them a try), and finally, the editors’ courageous stand against Peanuts:

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Even without Card comic, stores raise funds for Freedom to Marry

adventures of superman1aThe February announcement that Orson Scott Card would write a chapter of DC Comics’ new digital-first Adventures of Superman anthology sparked controversy in some circles, as readers and retailers objected to the sci-fi author’s anti-gay activism. Card isn’t just an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage, he is a board member of the National Organization for Marriage, a group that lobbies against marriage equality.

At the time, several retailers announced they would not carry the comic, while others felt that refusing to carry the title would be tantamount to censorship.

The Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach, California, figured out a graceful way around the controversy: It would sell Card’s comic and donate 100 percent of the proceeds to the group Freedom to Marry, which supports legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide. The owners of Illusive Comics and Games, in Santa Clara, decided to do the same. And then DC got a reprieve of sorts, when artist Chris Sprouse dropped out of the project and Card’s story was postponed indefinitely.

The first issue of Adventures of Superman was released this week with some fanfare but no controversy. Nonetheless, the co-owners of The Comic Bug, Jun Goeku and Mike Wellman, will donate 20 percent of this week’s profits to Freedom to Marry, and Illusive will do the same.

“The customers who shop at The Comic Bug are from all walks of life and with this week’s fundraiser, we want to let them know that we embrace them all,” Goeku told The Beach Reporter. Both shops will also have a jar for customers who want to make a further donation to the cause.

Comics A.M. | Karen Berger on Vertigo, shifting comics landscape

Karen Berger

Karen Berger

Publishing | Dave Itzkoff profiles Karen Berger, who stepped down in March after 20 years as executive editor of DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint (she still consults on a few projects). The story has a wistful tone, with Berger suggesting that DC is more interested in its company-owned characters and Co-Publisher Dan DiDio basically agreeing, but noting it’s an industry-wide trend. He said it would be “myopic” to believe “that servicing a very small slice of our audience is the way to go ahead,” adding, “That’s not what we’re in the business for. We have to shoot for the stars with whatever we’re doing. Because what we’re trying to do is reach the biggest audience and be as successful as possible.” [The New York Times]

Passings | Belgian artist Fred Funcken, a contributor to Tintin and Spirou magazines and creator, with his wife Lillian, of many historical comics, has died at the age of 92. [Forbidden Planet]

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