Current Transmissions

Robot Review | Cardboard

I relate to the main character from Doug TenNapel’s Cardboard more than I want to. His name is Mike, he’s the father of a pre-teen boy and he’s looking for work in a crappy economy. Fortunately, I’m not a single dad and I also haven’t had to bring home a cardboard box for my son’s birthday. That’s all that Mike can afford, but the box does come with the promise of adventure. The old man on the street corner who sells it to Mike explains that it’s “actually a father-and-son project in disguise! Slay the giant! Kill the Nazis! Hunt for buried treasure!” It’s not just a box, Gideon claims, “it’s everything mankind ever needed to accomplish pressed into a cube of corrugated pulp.” It also comes with two rules.

Any time a creepy old guy sells you something from a ramshackle shop and that thing comes with rules, you know trouble is coming. The cardboard’s rules are that 1) Mike must return all the scraps when he and his son Cam finish their project, and 2) they can’t ask for any more cardboard. Naturally, they break both.

As these things will, the problem begins with a creepy butthole kid who lives next door. Marcus is a rich kid whose obnoxiousness has left him with only two friends: his rat Fang and a sunglasses-wearing boy appropriately known as Pink Eye. Marcus mocks Mike when he brings home the box, but laughter turns to jealousy once Mike and Cam have created a cardboard boxer named Bill who comes to life. Meanness ensues, scraps are not returned, thefts occur and before long Marcus is creating his own army of cardboard monsters that gets horribly out of control.

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Alan Martin is searching for a new Tank Girl artist

Alan Martin has posted on Facebook an open call for submissions in hopes of finding a new artist for his next Tank Girl project. Cue storm of Tumblr and DeviantArt links.  He writes:

This is a call out to ARTISTS. In the coming months there will be an opportunity for someone to work on a new Tank Girl project. The budget won’t be huge, so I’m looking for an up-and-coming artist who is looking to break into the business, or an established artist who has always dreamed of working on Tank Girl(!). I’m looking for a comicbook artist that can deliver professionally finished, sequential, full-colour artwork and who also has a great grasp of the character. If this is you, or you know someone who fits the bill, please reply in this thread and post a sample of artwork on this page. I will be refraining from commenting on any individual submissions, as this is not a competition or a critique, so please don’t be offended at the lack of feedback. Many thanks in advance, and I look forward to seeing what’s out there! Alan XXX

Martin has had remarkable luck in finding collaborators over the years — Jamie Hewlett, Glynn Dillon, Ashley Wood, Rufus Dayglo, Mick McMahon, Jim Mahfood …  Here’s hoping the next Tank Girl artist isn’t too intimidated at the prospect of filling those gigantic army-surplus boots. And how about a female cartoonist stepping up to the plate? Wouldn’t that make a certain sense?

DC Collectibles rolls out exclusive custom prints

Finally deciding to cash in on the minimalist poster trend, DC Collectibles has unveiled a series of stylish prints showcasing some of the characters and locations of the DC Universe.

Alongside the requisite vintage-style travel posters for Themyscira, Coast City, Kandor and The Flash Museum are images spotlighting the Court of Owls, the Green Lantern Oath, Talon and Haley’s Circus, among others. Some of the prints were offered earlier this year at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, but the selection has been expanded for sale online.

You can see some of the posters below, and even more at the DC Collectibles website, where they can be purchased for prices ranging from $19.95 to $34.95.

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Quote of the Day | The importance of Superman’s shorts

What does finally losing his shorts after seven decades tell us about our Superman? He’s self-conscious, insecure and worries so much about what others think about him that he’ll make radical changes just to try and look cooler…?

J. Caleb Mozzocco, putting Superman’s new design into historical context, and not liking what he sees

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Group sketch blog The Sindiecate closes down

It must be hard work keeping these group sketch blogs going. While some keep ticking along like clockwork (Eclectic Micks, Scotch Corner), some other favorites have been on lengthy, near catatonic, hiatuses (What Not, Comic Twart). David LaFuente has posted an announcement on The Sindiecate that, after one year of regularly promoting indie comics through character sketches, they’ve decided to call it a day:

Lafuente here with a final report.

THE SINDIECATE is closing down its doors. This month marks the first year of the collective authors and initiative to pay tribute to independent comics. And it’s a good moment to call it a day.

Thanks to Jorge Muñoz, James Harren, Mike Choi, Ryan Ottley, Colleen Coover, Matteo Scalera for joining me on this project. It’s great to look back on that idea I had for the website and see what has become thanks to them.

And thanks to the people who liked our homages, helped spread the word and maybe make some new readers for the indie authors behind the books.

Adios! : )

Perhaps their mission has been accomplished: certainly, Indie comics do seem to be in a healthier state now than even a year ago.  High profile writers and artists seem to be flocking back in that direction, and with the massive sales numbers of The Walking Dead #100, the zeitgeist’s pendulum seems to swung further to the side of creator-owned than anytime since the early 1990s.

IDW Publishing brings Joe Palooka back to comic-book ring

Joe Palooka will return to the ring later this year in what IDW Publishing bills as the first-ever full-length MMA comic book.

The classic comic-strip boxer was resurrected last year by ring announcer Joe Antonacci, who purchased the rights to the character and reimagined him as a Mixed Martial Arts fighter in a six-issue online series by writer Mike Bullock and artists Fernando Peniche and Matt Triano. Adding letterer Josh Aitken and colorist Bob Pedroza into the mix, IDW will release those comics in print.

Created by cartoonist Ham Fisher, the Joe Palooka comic strip appeared in newspapers from 1930 to 1984, following the adventures of a good-natured (if not overly bright) boxing champion. The character proved so popular that he starred in radio serials, feature films, comic books and a syndicated television series.

The new version centers on an MMA fighter who travels the world trying to clear his name while competing to earn a sport in the legendary Legion of Combat fight series.

“This represents a huge moment for me, and is a culmination of a real team effort,” Antonacci said in a statement. “To sign on with a tremendous publisher like IDW and to have the opportunity to bring Joe Palooka to comic book and MMA fans worldwide is a tremendous opportunity. We’re also proud to have sponsored many UFC fighters and plan to expand our relationship with them by having UFC fighters appear in the comic book as well.”

In ‘official’ tally, The Walking Dead #100 still tramples all other comics

John Jackson Miller takes a hard look at the July sales charts, starting by parsing the numbers for the month’s top seller, The Walking Dead #100. Diamond Comic Distributors estimates place sales of the regular comic at 335,000 copies, plus almost 31,000 of the $9.99 Chromium Edition. That’s a bit less than the 383,612 copies Image Comics announced, but as Miller notes, the Diamond numbers don’t include reorders, overseas sales, newsstand sales and other channels.

Anyway, just adding those first two numbers, U.S. direct-market sales of the regular issue and the variant cover, this comic sold 366,000 copies, setting a new record for the highest orders for a comic in a single month, handily beating The Amazing Spider-Man #583 (the Barack Obama issue), the previous top seller for the 21st century, and The Darkness #11, Image’s previous all-time top seller.

Miller spends a bit of time contemplating whether variant covers should be included in the one-month total. I paused to wonder how many of the variants are being bought by collectors who are picking up the standard cover as well, but in the end, a sale is a sale, regardless of why it occurs.

While all this is great news for Image, Miller makes an observation further down in the post that should give readers pause: “As reported last Friday, the market overall continued to percolate, up nearly 20% over the previous year. A gap is developing between the sales of the Top 300 graphic novels and graphic novel sales overall; the Top 300s for the last seven months are up 25% over last year, whereas everything in the category is only up 14%. That suggests a list that’s been top-heavy with unit volume and/or dollars.”

It would be interesting to take a closer look and see where the drop-off occurs; it may not be at 300, and if it’s further up the list, that would suggest a winners-and-losers scenario that could be bad news in the long run.

Comics A.M. | Mark Waid celebrates 25 years in the industry

Mark Waid

Creators | Although he almost missed the anniversary, Mark Waid celebrates 25 years as a comics professional by recalling his first day of work at the DC Comics offices: “If you’re wondering what an Associate Editor does – or did in 1987 – I’ll list my job duties those first two days. Ready? Here we go: I erased Green Arrow pages. Eight hours a day for two days.” []

Publishing | DC Comics’ Senior Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne and Vice President of Marketing John Cunningham are pretty upbeat about DC’s most recent graphic novels — with some justification, as a number have made The New York Times graphic books best-seller list. “Batman: Earth One has been a runaway bestseller for us, even better than Superman: Earth One,” Wayne said. “People are familiar with the Superman: Earth One title and we don’t have explain what the new book is about.” [Publishers Weekly]

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Talking Comics with Tim | Jamie S. Rich

It Girl & the Atomics #1

I look forward to a day when there’s no substantial imbalance between the number of successful male characters/creators and successful female characters/creators in comics. When I get a chance to talk about a book with a female lead, I make sure to discuss that very aspect. I was clearly not thinking of who I was asking when I interviewed Jamie S. Rich, writer of the new Image ongoing series launching Wednesday, It Girl & the Atomics. As Rich was quick to remind me, earlier in his comics career as an editor he consistently “hired women all the time and published comics that showcased their point of view”. An equally interesting aspect of the project we discuss is being the writer who crafts Mike Allred/Madman universe tales (without Madman) but with Allred’s support and trust (a hell of a compliment/endorsement in and of itself). In addition to reading this interview, please be sure to garner additional insight from CBR’s TJ Dietsch’s July interview with Rich.

To mark this Wednesday’s launch of the series, Rich will be visiting three different hometown comic book stores to sign comics and chat with customers. The three shops where he will be sign It Girl & the Atomics 1 ($2.99) are Floating World Comics (from approximately 2 pm to 3:30 pm) at 400 NW Couch, Bridge City Comics (4 pm to 5 pm) at 3725 N. Mississippi, and Cosmic Monkey Comics (from 6 pm to 7 pm) at 5335 NE Sandy.

Tim O’Shea: It Girl and the Atomics is a book that captures the Madman universe (without Madman, as he left the world for space at the end of his own series). How well does it speak of Mike Allred’s world-building/writing skills that you are able to create a series in Madman’s world, but without Madman?

Jamie S. Rich: That was really the experiment. Madman has such a gravitational pull, particularly for Mike as an artist, that he really has a tendency to dominate. Yet, the Atomics are a team, and in any successful team, all the players are there for a reason. So, when it’s their turn in the spotlight, they are just as capable, they are ready to take that stage.

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Quote of the Day | Don’t belittle comics shops’ accomplishment

The Source Comics and Games in Roseville, Minnesota

That “Starbucks” won for best music store [in Seattle Weekly's annual Best Of awards] may be the most depressing or most hilarious thing I’ve read recently, but also made me realize that all that time I spent staring at music in 1990s Seattle retail establishments is part of a bygone era for everyone now. Don’t say the comics shops can’t go away; don’t belittle their accomplishment in not going away.

Tom Spurgeon, commenting on the awards in which Fantagraphics was recognized as Seattle’s Best Comic-Book Store

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Now Read This | Roshan’s Anti-Social Networking

Indian artist Roshan has created a superb little (probably NSFW) webstrip called Anti-Social Networking. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say that it begins with a young man who’s drifting through life without connection and ends either sadly or beautifully, depending on your point of view. It’s only nine pages long, so go read and see which you think it is.

Watch Superman’s Best Friend: You will believe a dog can … um …

Although it’s often been said that the Man of Steel, with his god-like powers, can be difficult to relate to, many a dog owner have found themselves in the same place as the Last Son of Krypton in Superman’s Best Friend, the beautiful and mesmerizing animated short film by Brent Underhill. The premise is simple: Superman arrives at the Fortress of Solitude to discover Krypto waiting, in dire need of a walk. The execution, however, is hilarious, if perhaps a bit not safe for work for those squeamish about the detailed depiction of a (super-) dog answering the call of nature.

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Watch Moebius complete some of his last digital drawings

While I’m still on a Moebius tip: five amazing videos of the late master drawing digitally at that last great career retrospective Trans Forme at the Cartier Foundation have shown up at the blog Muddy Colors. It’s hypnotic to see his linework develop as he takes the most rudimentary of preliminary sketches to completion.

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Frank Cho is apparently drawing a new Shanna series for Marvel

Although he refers to it as “my secret Marvel project,” Frank Cho labeled this image as “Shanna cover art progress.” Could Marvel be adding a third, female-starring series to its roster alongside Captain Marvel and Red She-Hulk? Cho’s already done two Shanna miniseries for Marvel (in 2005 and 2007), so this is likely another one of those, but how cool would it be if it’s something longer?

As for the cover itself, Cho drew the entire thing with a BIC ball-point pen in about five days. He also states that “the final cover has been ‘editorially tweaked’ and will not exactly look like this art.”

Paul Pope pays tribute to the late Jean Giraud

Here’s an image that made the rounds online over the weekend: Paul Pope’s tribute to Moebius, done in a recent page for the Adventure Time comic. Jean Giraud was something of a mentor figure to Pope, and produced the surreal, sexy, short story Les Souveniers for Pope’s one-off tabloid comics magazine Buzz Buzz.

(via the Moebius Tumblr Quenched Consciousness)

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