Current Transmissions

Claiming trademark infringement, Jazan Wild sends C&D letters to reviewers

Jazan Wild, the comics creator who gained attention in 2010 when he sued NBC and the producers of Heroes for $60 million, has begun sending cease-and-desist notices to reviewers who publish excerpts from Melissa Marr’s new young-adult fantasy novel Carnival of Souls, claiming the title violates his trademark.

Children’s literature website Bookalicious today posted an email from Wild, aka Jason Barnes, insisting that a recent excerpt of Marr’s book amounts to a “willful and malicious infringement” of his “Carnival of Souls” trademark and demanding its removal.

Wild’s objection follows a trademark-infringement lawsuit he filed in July against HarperCollins, accusing the publisher of intentionally using the title Carnival of Souls and the phrase “Enter the Carnival” in an effort to create confusion between Marr’s novel and his own 2005-2006 comic series and related works. He’s asking a federal court to prevent HarperCollins from using the title, and seeking the destruction of all of the allegedly infringing books and promotional materials, as well as unspecified damages. In court documents, Wild’s lawyer recounts his client’s repeated attempts to head off the release of Marr’s book as Carnival of Souls, which were ultimately dismissed with HarperCollins’ trademark counsel allegedly saying, “You’re not an attorney, are you?”

It’s worth noting that Wild’s legal dispute is with HarperCollins, so it’s unclear why his cease-and-desist notice is directed at book reviewers. More baffling, however, is how in Wild’s estimation an excerpt from Marr’s novel (whose copyright is held by Marr) infringes on his “Carnival of Souls” trademark; his objection is with the title, not the text.

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Food or Comics? | Caviar or Cavalier Mr. Thompson

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.

Conan the Barbarian #8

John Parkin

If I had $15: Whoah, another tough week to narrow things down. Is every Brian Wood-written title required to come out the same week of each month? Do Dark Horse and Marvel get together and plan it that way, so that people who only buy Wood comics only have to go to the store once a month? I think more than half the DC titles I buy come out this time every month, too. So yeah, lots to pick from …

Anyway, I’d start with one of those Brian Wood comics, Conan the Barbarian #8 (Dark Horse, $3.50), which features Vasilis Lolos on art. Lolos drew one of my favorite issues of Northlanders, “The Viking Art of Single Combat,” so it’s cool to see the two of them working together again. I’d also get a comic I’m sure will be popular with a few of my colleagues, the first issue of the new Stumptown miniseries by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth (Oni Press, $3.99). Next I’d get Manhattan Projects #6 (Image, $3.50); this issue turns the focus from America’s secret science program to Russia’s secret science program. Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra are having a lot of fun with this one. Finally, I’d get Uncanny X-Force #31 (Marvel, $3.99), which really picked things up last issue … and this is a comic that’s usually running on twice as many cylinders anyway.

If I had $30, I’d also grab two finales from DC Comics — Shade #12 and Resurrection Man #0 (both $2.99). Honestly, I never expected to see a Resurrection Man comic again, much less by the guys who wrote the original, so the fact that we got a good run of 13 issues is a pleasant surprise. Shade, of course, was planned as 12 issues from the beginning, and was a nice return to the Starman-verse by writer James Robinson. That leaves me room for three more $2.99 comics, which means I’m going to bypass X-Men, The Massive and Avengers Assemble this week (let’s assume that I’ll one day spend my splurge money on the trades) and instead go with Chew #28 (Image, $2.99), It Girl and the Atomics #2 (Image, $2.99) and Demon Knights #0 (DC Comics, $2.99).

Splurge: Assuming I wouldn’t spend my unlimited gift card on single issues, I’d be looking at the first Bucko collection from Dark Horse ($19.99) and Fantagraphics’ Is That All There Is? trade ($25).

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Robot Review | Creator-Owned Heroes #1-4

I have a confession to make: I didn’t understand at first what Creator-Owned Heroes is. It’s my fault, because it looks like a magazine, and Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Steve Niles say very clearly right there in the first issue that that’s what it is, but I stubbornly insisted on looking at it as an anthology comic with some text pieces in the back. I figured that I would wait on the eventual collections and read the comics in larger chunks.

This week, though, I realized that reading four issues back to back actually is reading in bigger chunks, so I bought the issues I’d missed and caught up. Doing that convinced me that Creator-Owned Heroes isn’t something that’s going to be replicated very well in a collected volume. Most obviously, you’d lose the timeliness of the text pieces. Each of the three writers has a monthly column, but there are also recommendations of movies, products, and other people’s comics. None of that would hold up very well in a permanent, collected form. It’s not designed to.

But more importantly, not even the comics are designed to be collected. Each issue has two, 11-page comics, one written by Palmiotti and Gray, the other by Niles. In the first four issues, Palmiotti and Gray teamed up with Phil Noto for “Triggergirl 6,” about the most recent in a line of assassins that have become famous for their relentless, exclusive targeting of the President of the United States. Niles partnered with Kevin Mellon for “American Muscle,” a post-apocalyptic drama about a group of young people driving muscle cars (while also fighting mutants) toward what they hope is the Promised Land.

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Davide De Cubellis’ covers for the Italian comic John Doe


At the Behance Network, Davide De Cubellis has posted an impressive gallery of his cover art for the Italian comic John Doe. De Cubellis’s approach to the series changes, with each cover clearly influenced by a different modern classic artist. I think I can spot tributes to the styles of Duncan Fegredo, James Jean, Tony Harris, J.H. Williams III, Massimo Carnevale, Lee Bermejo, Javier Pulido and others. De Cubellis has a desktop wallpaper of the complete set on his blog. You can see much more below.

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Quote of the Day | Writers should consider learning to draw

Faith Erin Hicks drawing

This is actually an answer I like to give to writers when they ask me the question of how they can attract an artist, “Have you considered drawing your comic yourself?” I get that not everyone draws, or has the capacity and patience (and time and momentum) to learn drawing, but take it from me, drawing is a skill, and it is something many people can learn. So why not give it a try?

Faith Erin Hicks

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J.H. Williams III covers Texas heavy-metal band The Sword


I know nothing about The Sword, other than that the Austin, Texas-based heavy-metal band has great taste in choosing comic artists to provide album art: Batwoman artist/co-writer J.H. Williams III has revealed a host of design work for the group’s new release Apocryphon on his blog. More art from the project can be found below.

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Karl Kesel: ‘There honestly aren’t words to express how grateful I am’

In a heartfelt message, longtime writer and inker Karl Kesel thanked those who helped him to buy back part of the comics collection he sold to pay adoption and medical expenses for his infant son, saying, “there are a lot of great people out there, all willing to go above and beyond. But I never saw this one coming.”

As Comic Book Resources reported in early August, Karl and his wife Myrna adopted baby Isaac, the child of a heroin user who began life battling methadone withdrawal. Facing $67,000 in medical bills, in addition to the $25,000 for the adoption itself, and uncertain of how much would be covered by Myrna’s health insurance, Karl did about the only thing he could: He decided to sell the Silver Age Marvel collection he’d amassed over four decades.

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Comics A.M. | Despite overall growth, sales slipped for most of Top 25

Aquaman #12, one of just two ongoing titles in August's Top 25 that saw an increase

Retailing | ICv2 analyzes the August direct market numbers and comes up with some interesting patterns: While the market as a whole is up, the number of comics with sales of more than 1,000 has been declining; sales dropped a bit for most ongoing comics series in the Top 25, but strong sales of Before Watchmen and two annuals more than compensated for that; and graphic novels sell in far lower numbers than comics, but because many of them are backlist titles, the numbers still increase from year to year. ICv2 also posted lists of last month’s Top 300 comics and graphic novels. [ICv2]

Publishing | Yet another big publisher spawns a graphic novel imprint: This time it’s Penguin, whose Berkley/NAL division will launch a graphic novel imprint, InkLit, next month. Helmed by former DC vice president and Yen Press co-founder Rich Johnson, InkLit will publish both original graphic novels and adaptations of prose works. The line will begin with Vol. 1 of Patricia Briggs’s Alpha and Omega, which collects the trades published by Dynamite; the second volume will be all new material. Also in the works are books by Charlaine Harris, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Sage Stossel. [Publishers Weekly]

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Talking Comics with Tim | LP’s Curt Pires

LP

Once and a while a comic drops in my inbox that carries some distinct element that snags my interest. LP, by writer Curt Pires and artist Ramon Villalobos, focuses on the life of a musician named F and the LP he possesses, which has unique qualities — far more unique than your average round piece of vinyl. The comic, which Pires is self-distributing, debuts Sept. 26 (it received a pre-release endorsement from guest Ed Brisson in this week’s What Are You Reading?”). In anticipation of its release, Pires took some time to answer my questions regarding his new collaboration with Villalobos — as well as to give me a chance to discuss music a smidge (something I always love to do).

Tim O’Shea: LP centers on a vinyl record (aka LP) — could this story have ever worked for you if it had centered around a CD or an MP3 player?

Curt Pires: I definitely think this story only works on vinyl. There’s something romantic about vinyl — something tactile. Something that you don’t really get with CDs or MP3s. I think a lot of my thoughts as towards this are sort of folded into the story. Sometimes intentionally — other times maybe not so much.

Did you have the story already written when you teamed with Ramon Villalobos, or did you construct the story with his art style in mind?

I had the full script written by the time Ramon had hoped on board to draw the book. I was definitely looking for someone with a bit more of European clean line style to draw this book. I’m a huge fan of this style of art. So Ramon’s sort of Darrow/Grampa/Quitely-influenced style was perfect for this book.

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Art Barrage | Comics at the interface with fine art

Ben Allen's "Milk & Honey"

As British designer/comic book artist Rian Hughes once wrote, “When musicians remake an old hit, it’s called a cover version. When a painter copies an illustrator, it’s called fine art.” Hughes’ article features numerous impassioned quotes from Dave Gibbons on the ethics of fine artists appropriating imagery from comic artists. Brian Bolland recently pursued the Icelandic artist Erro for a particularly blatant act and to a certain extent, won the argument. But comic books remains catnip to the fine art world, the dirty little habit it can’t kick. Plenty of art below the break.

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Neil Gaiman joins JL8, the webstrip formerly known as Little League

We’ve mentioned it before, but if you haven’t yet had a chance to check out Yale Stewart’s awesome, completely charming webcomic about grammar-school versions of the Justice League, now is a perfect time to start. The strip has recently been re-named JL8 (for reasons having nothing to do with DC Comics) and moved to a new URL, but even better: Neil Gaiman has shown up as part of a story in which Batman is helping Superman pick out a birthday present for Wonder Woman.

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Quote of the Day | DC creators are financially ‘taken care of’

Graham Nolan, Chuck Dixon, and their creation

[Bane co-creator] Graham [Nolan] and I both signed participation agreements, which are good in perpetuity. So it’s not up to them whether they take care of us. We’re taken care of. We’ve seen money from Bane all along – the Lego games and the little Bane-shaped piece in the Spaghettios. We always get a piece of what Bane makes. We’ll see money from this movie. They have graphs and charts to figure out how much based on how many lines of dialogue he has and how much he’s in the movie and how much impact he has on the story. We were part of it the last time when Bane was in the last [Joel] Schumacher film really briefly. We participated in that.

Chuck Dixon, on the benefits of creating Bane for DC Comics

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Robot 6 Q&A | Faith Erin Hicks on Superhero Girl

The Adventures of Superhero Girl

Last week we broke the news that Dark Horse will publish a print edition of Faith Erin Hicks’s The Adventures of Superhero Girl. Hicks has always been a very articulate commentator on comics and comics creation, so it seemed like a good opportunity to ask her a few questions about the book and how it evolved.

Robot 6: Tell us a bit about the genesis of Superhero Girl. When did you start drawing it, and what did you have in mind for it at the beginning?

Faith Erin Hicks: I started drawing Superhero Girl at the beginning of 2010. I remember because I was in the midst of moving apartments and trying to scrape out the first comic on a deadline while unpacking all my stuff … I don’t think I even had my drawing desk set up. I’d had the idea of doing a comic about a not terribly successful Superhero Girl for a while, and wanted to do it as a webcomic, but I’d originally imagined it as a story-based comic, as that was what I was used to doing. I’m very attracted to the idea of superheroes, of having powers and ability beyond the usual, and I’d noticed that there weren’t many superhero comics made with me as a reader in mind. I like the idea of Supergirl and Wonder Woman, but I can’t say I’ve enjoyed their comics much. So I decided to make a superhero comic for me.

… that actually seems to be how all my comics get started.

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Bill Sienkiewicz rolls a critical success on D&D painting

And not just any Dungeons & Dragons, but the ’80s cartoon version, which never looked this good.

Monster Brains has a whole gallery of Sienkiewicz featuring Judge Dredd, Conan and a ton of art from his out-of-print 1985 Vampyres portfolio.

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J. Bone imagines Michelle Obama as the new Wonder Woman

Michelle Obama as Wonder Woman, by J. Bone

Even the most fervent Republicans admit they were impressed by the speech Michelle Obama delivered last week at the Democratic National Convention, so it should come as little surprise that she drew some admirers not only across the aisle but across the border. Canadian artist J. Bone was so wowed by the address that he envisioned the First Lady as DC Comics’ most prominent superheroine.

“I’m not a very political person. Really,” he wrote on his blog. “Unless I hear speeches that are incredibly ignorant (the current Mayor of Toronto is not exactly my favourite person) or especially rousing! Michelle Obama’s recent opening speech at the Democratic Convention was one of those exciting moments to which I actually paid attention. Politics aside I like the Obamas. Watching her speech I imagined Michelle as the NEW Wonder Woman!”

Hey, if President Obama can be depicted as a superhero, then why can’t Mrs. Obama?

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