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Comics A.M. | Zapiro lawsuit dropped; Jose Luis Ferrer passes away

Legal

Legal | South African President Jacob Zuma has formally withdrawn his defamation lawsuit against cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro (who goes by the pen name Zapiro) and will pay a portion of his court costs as well. Zuma dropped part of the case last week, a claim of 4 million rand for “impairment of dignity.” A spokesman for Zuma said the president had more important things on his mind and didn’t want to set a precedent that “may have the effect of limiting the public exercise of free speech.” [The Citizen]

Passings | The Catalan artist Jose Luis Ferrer, who signed himself simply “Ferrer,” died Monday of a brain tumor. Ferrer’s work appeared in 2000AD, Starlord and other British comics, but he was an international artist with work published in Germany, France, Sweden and the United States as well. [Down the Tubes]

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2000AD super-fan plants coded messages in letters pages

Tharg, as drawn by Henry Flint

Reed Beebe is a huge fan of the British sci-fi comic 2000AD. How big a fan? Here, let him explain it:

To celebrate 35 years of 2000 A.D., I furtively encoded Tharg the Mighty’s name in fan letters published in 35 comics, over a ten month period. In my fan letters, I used an acrostic (the first letter of each sentence in the body of my fan letter together spell out “THARG”). For example – “The Shadow is back? Hallelujah! And Garth Ennis is the writer? Right on! Get this book in my hands ASAP!” These “Tharg Code” fan letters can be found in the letter columns of 35 comics from six publishers.

Tharg the Mighty is, of course, the real editor of 2000AD, a space alien who has human minions such as editor Matt Smith carry out his wishes.

Beebe told me in an e-mail that he has been writing letters to the editor of his favorite comics for about two years now, and he has been playing around with adding little puzzles and poems to them, but the 35th anniversary of 2000AD inspired him to do a longer, more ambitious project.

His letters can be found in comics as diverse as B.P.R.D., Vampirella, Fantastic Four, Savage Dragon and, closer to home, Judge Dredd Megazine; there’s a complete list of issues with coded messages at the link above.

Comic-Con to stay in San Diego through 2016

U-T San Diego reports Comic-Con International organizers and San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders have announced a one-year extension to their contract, ensuring the convention will remain in the city through 2016.

Why not forever? The limited capacity of the San Diego Convention Center has been a issue as Comic-Con gets bigger every year. By moving some events out of the center and into nearby plazas and other facilities, organizers were able to loosen things up a bit and offer an additional 5,000 badges this year.

Sanders has been advocating for a $520 million expansion of the building, but a tax on hotel rooms that would fund it is tied up in court, and the project also must be approved by the California Coastal Commission. There are other obstacles as well, but the bald fact is, as CCI spokesman David Glanzer said, “If by next year and the following year, we have such an influx of people that the added space we use doesn’t work and there’s no expansion, then it could be an issue.”

But with Comic-Con bringing $68 million into the city every July, Sanders and his administration have pretty good incentive to make it happen — and nearby Los Angeles and Anaheim have equally good incentives to try to lure Comic-Con away.

Kickstart My Art | Noir City #1

With just nine days to go, collaborators Cody Walker (Keeping the World Strange: A Planetary Guide), RG Valerius and Allen Byrns are in the home stretch of their Kickstarter campaign for Noir City #1, the debut of “an intertwining tale” involving mysterious characters, culminating in “resolution of the great mystery of who murdered The Miracle, the hero of a forgotten age.”

While co-writers Walker and Valerius are wanting to keep details of the story rather … mysterious– “The issue introduces readers, in true noir fashion, to a lost soul who finds himself thrust on the fringe of a mystery that he knows nothing about and no one around him can even recall that it exists” — you can get a sense of the central characters on the comic’s website and on the Kickstarter page, which also provides a look at Byrns’ rather Templesmith-esque art. The campaign is $3,135 toward its $4,500 goal, which will go toward the production and printing of the 28-page full-color first issue.

Pledge rewards range from access to exclusive digital content and a “Vote Noir” poster to participation in a Skype RPG game and original sketches. The campaign ends Nov. 7.

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Quote of the Day | ‘I hear crying a lot … And I mean that in a good way’

“As simple as it sounds, it’s the simple fact that we’re helping people and having immediate positive impact in their lives. I hear crying a lot. I really do. And I mean that in a good way. I think it’s just the breaking of a dam sometimes, and an emotional release. I can’t tell you how often I’ll be speaking to someone on the phone after the disbursement committee has decided what to do, and I’ll tell Artist X, ‘Yeah, no problem. Gimme the address and an account number, and we can pay off that hospital bill. Give me your landlord’s name and number, we’ll take care of the back rent, and get you paid off for next month as well. And we’re sending a check to you so you can get some groceries.’ People just break down and start crying. I think it’s the stress of all these things ending, the cracking of that ice … it’s an emotional moment. The mind, the body, something … it doesn’t know what to do. So it cries. It’s odd, but I’ve come to not look at a full-grown adult crying as anything bad. In fact, it’s good. For so many people, it’s the end of a long and painful road.”

Jim McLauchlin, president and co-founder of The Hero Initiative, explaining why he loves his job.
Since its founding in 2000, the organization has given more than $500,000 to comics creators in need.

A quick trip through the spring/fall Fantagraphics catalog

Fantagraphics has made a number of notable publishing announcements over the past few weeks, but the new release of its spring/fall catalog reveals even more intriguing books coming down the pike next year. I thought I’d take it upon myself to run through what I feel are some of the more interesting titles scheduled for 2013, avoiding some of the more expected titles, like the new Donald Duck or Steve Ditko collections, or paperback editions of previously released material. If all goes well, I hope to do this sort of thing again with other small press publishers as we get closer to the end of the year.

Katherine Whaley

The Amazing, Enlightening and Absolutely True Adventures of Katherine Whaley by Kim Deitch. Deitch’s latest graphic novel (his first original one, his previous works having been serialized in anthologies and other series) concerns a young actress in early 20th century America who gets a plum role in a movie serial, only to discover all is not what it seems. Could alleged recordings of Christ made centuries before the invention of recorded sound be somehow involved? Could be! Printed in landscape format to give that “widescreen” feel. April, $29.99.

Bread and Wine by Samuel R. Delaney and Mia Wolff. Apparently this was published back in 1999, although this is the first time I’ve ever heard of it. Famed science-fiction author Delaney chronicles his romance with a young homeless man, with Wolff providing art. April, $14.99

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Comics artists love Frankenstein’s Bride

Arthur Adams

Saturday was the birthday of actress Elsa Lanchester, so to celebrate, John Rozum posted an amazing gallery of art inspired by her most famous role, the Bride of Frankenstein. A ton of comics artists are included and you can see many of them below the break. Be sure to visit Rozum’s site for even more, including additional pieces by Mike Mignola, Kevin Nowlan and Bruce Timm, as well as art by Basil Gogos, William Stout, and Mike McKone. Continue Reading »

Point-Counterpoint | Technology and the Peanuts movie


“We finally felt the time was right and the technology is where we need it to be to create this film.”

Craig Schulz, son of Charles Schulz, on the ripeness of a CGI Peanuts movie

“Yeah, the technology is right. Because pen and paper was never quite good enough.”

Russ Fischer, commenting on the story for /Film

I get what Schulz is saying. “This film” doesn’t refer to just any Peanuts movie. There have already been at least two of those in traditional, hand-drawn animation. What he’s saying is that if they’re going to try to translate the Peanuts characters to CGI, that’s not something he wanted to rush into.

But while I’m not sure that Fischer’s snark is all that fair, I’m also not exactly sure why now is suddenly the time where technology has caught up and is adequate for portraying Charlie Brown’s round head and Lucy’s lumpy hairdo as computer animation. Is Schulz suggesting that the Peanuts CGI movie needs a level of technology greater than say, Toy Story or How to Train Your Dragon?

Paolo Rivera looks back on 2008’s Mythos: Captain America

Paolo Rivera’s blog posts are always interesting and informative, but few can top this reflection on Mythos: Captain America, his 2008 collaboration with Paul Jenkins that retold the origin of the Sentinel of Liberty (it was part of a series of one-shots that, in Rivera’s words, was designed to “bridge the gap between Marvel comics and Marvel movies”).

Sprinkled liberally with Rivera’s stunning work, the post also serves as a reminder of how quickly the artist has risen through the ranks of comics talent since 2006, when the Mythos series debuted. “The series did less than amazing in terms of sales, but Marvel still followed through with the project until we had enough issues to collect into a beautiful hardcover,” he recalls. “If nothing else, it proved to be a fantastic platform for jumpstarting my career — aside from being paired with a top-tier writer, I got to illustrate the cream of the crop in terms of Marvel characters. And all that while I was still a rookie: when they gave me the job, I had painted just 34 pages for them.”

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Valiant sponsors U.S. luge team, designs X-O Manowar uniforms

In what The Wall Street characterizes as a low six-figure deal, Valiant Entertainment has signed as a sponsor of USA Luge for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The comics publisher has also designed the team’s uniform to look like the armor of X-O Manowar.

“The sponsorship is going to help the team in a couple of ways,” explained Gordy Sheer, USA Luge’s director of marketing. “… They’ll look good and they’ll feel fast, but also Valiant is helping the team with financial support. We’re a small sport, and every bit of help that we get is absolutely meaningful and directly affects our ability to perform.”

In the video below, Wall Street Journal reporter John Jurgensen notes that while movie studios (including DC Comics parent company Warner Bros.) routinely promote projects through NASCAR sponsorships, this appears to be the first time a company has used a national athletic team to advertise a character.

“For Valiant the idea is to kind of become a household name,” Jurgensen said. The publisher relaunched its comics line in May, with X-O Manowar as its flagship.

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Comics A.M. | Brett Ewins out of jail; Ali Farzat continues to fight

Brett Ewins

Creators | Former 2000AD artist Brett Ewins has been freed on bail after a judge reduced his charge to assult. Ewins, who has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, was accused of stabbing a police officer in a January altercation that left the 56-year-old artist hospitalized in serious condition. Because Ewins has already served nine months, part of it in a hospital (where he was in a coma), it’s unlikely he’ll have to go back behind bars. [Sex, Drugs, & Comic Books]

Creators | Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat, who escaped to Kuwait after the Syrian security police beat him and broke his hands, is now living in Egypt and continuing to draw cartoons supporting the Syrian revolution. “Fear has been defeated in Syria when the people marched 19 months ago against tyranny,” he said. “I began to directly draw people in power including Assad and his government officials, to break the barrier of fear, that chronic fear that Syrians suffered from for 50 years.” [Reuters]

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Whedon endorses Romney (and his vision for zombie apocalypse)

In between writing the screenplay for the sequel to The Avengers, developing ABC’s S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot and executive producing Dark Horse’s Buffy-verse comics, Joss Whedon somehow found time to shoot a video “endorsing” Mitt Romney for president. Sure, it’s a bit surprising, considering that Whedon and Romney differ on myriad social issues (today, in any case), but the filmmaker has found common, if post-apocalyptic, ground.

“Y’know, like a lot of liberal Americans, I was excited when Barack Obama took office four years ago,” Whedon explains, “but it’s a very different world now, and Mitt Romney is a very different candidate — one with the vision and determination to cut through business-as-usual politics and finally put this country back on the path to the zombie apocalypse. Romney is ready to make the deep rollbacks in healthcare, education, social services, reproductive rights that will guarantee poverty, unemployment, overpopulation, disease, rioting — all crucial elements in creating a nightmare zombie wasteland.”

There’s more, of course. And along the way, Whedon gets in a little jab at Ayn Rand devotees, sure to make a few libertarians rethink their interpretations/warm embrace of Firefly.

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What Are You Reading? with Rafer Roberts

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where every week we talk about the comics, books and other stuff topping our reading list. Our special guest today is Rafer Roberts, creator of Plastic Farm–“The strange, terrifying, and hilarious story of Chester Carter’s messianic journey through madness and self-loathing.” Roberts is currently raising money for the second volume on Kickstarter.

To see what he’s been reading, along with the Robot 6 crew, click below …

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Shelf Porn Saturday | Comics and music collide in Canada

If you’re a fan of music and comics, this Shelf Porn goes to 11 … today we’re pleased to present shelves from Jay in Canada, who shows off his collection of comics, toys and music-related items.

If you have some shelves of comics, action figures or other related collectibles you’d like to show off, send me a write-up and some jpgs at jkparkin@yahoo.com.

And now here’s Jay …

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Comic Couture | Cyclops was right, Bat eyegear and more

Cyclops was right

If you’re a Cyclops fan and still smarting from the end of Avengers vs. X-Men, WeLoveFine.com has a constructive way to express your anger–at least more constructive than, say, unleashing a Sentinel or something. They received a ton of requests for a “Cyclops was Right” shirt (a la their “Magneto was Right” shirt) and were able to turn one around fairly quickly.

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