Abrams Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources

Preview | Cunningham’s ‘Age of Selfishness,’ Derf’s ‘Trashed’


As a part of our sixth anniversary, Abrams ComicArts has provided ROBOT 6 with previews of two more books from its 2015 lineup — The Age of Selfishness: Ayn Rand, Morality, and the Financial Crisis by Darryl Cunningham and Trashed by Derf Backderf.

Tracing the emergence of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of objectivism in the 1940s to her present-day influence, Darryl Cunningham’s latest work of graphic-nonfiction investigation leads readers to the heart of the global financial crisis of 2008. Cunningham uses Rand’s biography to illuminate the policies that led to the economic crash in the United States and in Europe, and how her philosophy continues to affect today’s politics and policies.

Announced almost a year ago, Trashed started in 2002 as a comic from SLG Publishing and was revived in 2010 by Backderf as a webcomic. It’s a memoir of the year he spent as a garbageman in his rural hometown, with added fictional characters and situations. As he explained on his website, “It didn’t really happen but, trust me, it’s all too real.”

Check out the previews below. Our thanks to Abrams.

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Exclusive preview | John Leguizamo’s ‘Ghetto Klown’


As part of ROBOT 6’s sixth anniversary celebration, we’re pleased to present an exclusive look at Ghetto Klown, the graphic novel adaptation of John Leguizamo’s award-winning one-man Broadway show, from Abrams ComicArts.

Airing in 2014 as an HBO comedy special, Ghetto Klown takes audiences from the actor/comedian’s memories of his adolescence in Queens, New York, to his involvement in ’80s avant-garde theater to his motion-picture career, introducing some of the colorful characters he encountered along the way.

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What’s hot for summer and fall: Comics and graphic novels at BEA

Mel Caylo and the Lumberjanes at the BOOM! Studios booth

Mel Caylo and the Lumberjanes at the BOOM! Studios booth

Book Expo America is the annual trade show where publishers promote their upcoming books to retailers and librarians. BEA is all about books, but comics and graphic novels are a growing presence. Diamond had a dedicated area, as it has in previous years, several comics publishers had their own booths, and several of the big publishers featured graphic novels alongside their other titles, most notably Hachette, which gave quite a bit of space to Yen Press.

I spent Friday at the show looking at which books the publishers were drawing the most attention to. Here’s a very subjective account of what I saw.

Kid stuff! Children’s and YA graphic novels have been hot for a couple of years, and the news that Raina Telgemeier’s Sisters is getting a 200,000 copy initial print run got a lot of buzz. Of course, the BEA crowd has been on board with her work for a while, and they lined up in droves for her book signing. The same was true of Jeff Kinney, who was signing copies of The Wimpy Kid School Planner at the Abrams booth; the crowd just kept on coming. And the staff at the BOOM! Studios table were hustling as attendees grabbed copies of their Adventure Time and Bravest Warrior collections as well as their third original Peanuts graphic novel, Peanuts: The Beagle Has Landed, which takes Snoopy to the moon.

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John Leguizamo’s ‘Ghetto Klown’ to become graphic memoir

john leguizamo

Abrams has announced it will publish a graphic novel adaptation of Ghetto Klown, John Leguizamo’s award-winning one-man Broadway show, under its Abrams ComicArts imprint next year. Leguizamo is working with artist Christa Cassano on the project.

Recently airing as an HBO comedy special, Ghetto Klown takes audiences from the actor/comedian’s memories of his adolescence in Queens, New York, to his involvement in ’80s avant-garde theater to his motion-picture career, introducing some of the colorful characters he encountered along the way.

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Derf announces ‘Trashed’ graphic novel

dert-trashedDerf Backderf, creator of the acclaimed memoir My Friend Dahmer, has signed a deal with Abrams Books to publish his next graphic novel, based on his webcomic Trashed.

“This past summer, I took down most of the Trashed Webcomic, announced it was permanently retired and instead unveiled an entirely new webcomic, The Baron of Prospect Ave.,” he wrote on his blog. “What I couldn’t reveal at the time was that Abrams had approached me about turning the Trashed Webcomic into a full-fledged graphic novel! I already had a couple new episodes written at that point, with the intention of starting the project up anew this past summer. So those became part of the new book. I spent the remainder of 2013 writing and drawing.”

Trashed, in its original form, was released in 2002 by SLG Publishing; it’s a comic memoir of the year he spent as a garbageman in his rural hometown. When he revisited the project in 2010 as a webcomic, he added fictional characters and situations. As he explained on his website, “It didn’t really happen but, trust me, it’s all too real.”

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Comics at the book con: A day at BookExpo America

Andrew Aydin and Rep. John Lewis

Andrew Aydin and Rep. John Lewis

BookExpo America takes place the Javits Center, just like New York Comic Con, but it’s a completely different kind of show. It’s a trade show, not a consumer show, so the folks in the aisles aren’t fans looking for a fix, they are potential customers to be wooed. And what you see there is a pretty reliable guide to what everyone will be talking about in a couple of months.

So if you happened into the little graphic novel enclave at the right time, you might see Gene Luen Yang sitting there, pen in hand, ready to autograph a free Avatar graphic novel for you, or maybe Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights pioneer, sitting next to Andrew Aydin, with ashcans of their graphic novel about Lewis’ life, March, and while you might have to wait a few minutes for your turn, you wouldn’t have to stand on the sort of long lines they might draw at San Diego. The pace is more leisurely than a comic convention — the creators chat as they sign your comics — and the blasting noise of video game and movie displays is blissfully absent.

It’s true there aren’t a lot of comics publishers at BEA, although there are a fair number of book publishers who include comics in their lines. Abrams didn’t send their ComicArts people, but if you consider Diary of a Wimpy Kid to be a comic (I’m always happy to claim that one for our side), then they were well represented, and many attendees had Wimpy Kid stickers on their badges.

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‘Bazooka Joe’ and the dangers of nostalgia

Bazooka Joe and His Gang

Bazooka Joe and His Gang

Comics critics like myself like to talk about living in the “golden age of reprints,” and indeed, it is exciting (and somewhat astonishing) to see classic stories and strips that often were only glimpsed in anthologies or discussed in glowing terms in historical chronicles (Skippy, King Aroo) finally be made available. Works long regarded by fans as stellar – Little Lulu, Captain Easy – now have the ability to reach an audience beyond the handful of collectors that had the time and resources, or simply the obsessive-compulsive capabilities, to track down the musty old newspapers and crumbling funny books.

And yet. And yet the success of these collection projects has often encouraged publishers to seek out work that might not be worthy of such lavish format and attention. Do we really, for instance, need a complete run of Hagar the Horrible  or Wizard of Id in hardcover? Do these humorous but rather mediocre and ephemeral strips really deserve that sort of focus?

More to the point, does Bazooka Joe?

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Darryl Cunningham on ‘How to Fake a Moon Landing’

how to fake a moon landingDarryl Cunningham’s How to Fake a Moon Landing, which debuted last month at MoCCA Arts Fest, looks at a number of popular fallacies, from homeopathy to global warming denial, and lays out not just the science behind each one but the history as well, including the personalities who drove them.

Personal tales crossed over into science in Cunningham’s first book Psychiatric Tales, which not only described different mental disorders but related stories about each one, told from Cunningham’s vantage point as a care assistant on a psychiatric ward and his own experience with depression. How to Fake a Moon Landing is less personal but still has a point of view, which is that there’s good science and bad science, and it’s important to be able to tell the difference. (You can see excerpts from the book, and his other work as well, on his blog.) I spoke with Cunningham about both books during a quiet moment at MoCCA.

ROBOT 6: Do you have a background in science?

Darryl Cunningham: I worked as a care assistant in an acute psychiatric ward, and after a few years, I thought I would do training to be a mental health nurse. I did a three-year course, which is very, very academic — more academic than it needs to be. Through that I learned how to write essays and research things, and to be skeptical about research, to look at how things have been properly peer reviewed, [whether] the evidence has been replicated, that kind of thing. I got a sense of how science works. After eight years of doing this, I was completely burned out. I couldn’t continue — I had a major crisis, really, started suffering from anxiety and depression, and I had to leave that work, but out of that whole experience, Psychiatric Tales came out.

I got into the habit of researching and have been able to boil down a lot of information into a comic strip format. And I listen to science podcasts when I’m drawing — some are famous ones, like The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe — and listening to these, I realized there was a whole series of hot-button issues that came up time and time again that people didn’t really understand, things like the idea that the moon landing was a conspiracy, the MMR vaccination controversy, and evolution, not so much in Europe but very much here. I had the whole book structured for me and ready to go. All I had to do was research, write, and draw it. [Laughs] It took the better part of a year.

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Comics A.M. | Comics and those headline-grabbing plot twists

Batman Incorporated #8

Batman Incorporated #8

Comics | Reporter Henry Hanks asks three experts about the increasing tendency toward “headline-grabbing plot twists” in comics, such as the death of Damian Wayne, and which ones they think have been the most successful. “I strongly believe that The New 52’s Batgirl can be seen as a great example of a major plot shift or re-imagining of a story that required readers to let go of a long-loved character (Oracle) and begin to believe in Batgirl as a new character, one who’s recovered from a life-threatening attack,” says Dr. Andrea Letamendi, a clinical psychologist and convention speaker. “The character essentially presented the determination, resilience and psychological strength that she needed to put the cape back on after a severe injury, just as readers were challenging her ability to represent a strong rebooted character. It’s as if we could relate to the weight on her shoulders, because we were a part of that process. [CNN]

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The Wimpy Kid goes digital

Last week saw the digital launch of Jeff Kinney’s comics/prose hybrid Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which can now be purchased from comiXology, either through its regular service or through its dedicated Wimpy Kid app, Kindle, Nook, or iBooks. The seventh volume, The Third Wheel, which is due out on Nov. 13, will be available digitally the same day as print. Abrams has created a special brand, Wimp-E-books, with its own logo, for the wildly popular series.

(Interestingly enough, the initial press release from Abrams, dated Oct. 15, didn’t mention any platforms, which seems like a grievous omission.)

You can still get the original edition of the book for free on the site where it first appeared, FunBrain.com. That’s where Kinney first published it, and it’s interesting to compare this first edition to the published versions — I took a look at the first few pages and the edits were obvious, and generally improvements over the original. It’s still pretty good though, and years ago, when I showed it to my daughter, who was maybe ten at the time and a bit of a reluctant reader, she took my computer away and read the whole thing in one sitting.

Food or Comics? | Roquette or Rocketeer

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.

Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom #1

Graeme McMillan

For once, I’m doing this in semi-reverse order. Or, at least, I’m starting with my would’ve-should’ve splurge, anyway, because if I had the money to spare, I’d definitely pick up the Invisibles Omnibus HC (DC/Vertigo, $150). Yes, I’ve read the comics before, and yes, I own all the trades. And yet … I really, really wish I could own this book. In another world, I am rich enough for that to happen.

Back in the real world, my first $15 pic is very easy: Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom #1 (IDW Publishing, $3.99); both creators are at the top of their games these days, as demonstrated in Daredevil on a regular basis, and so seeing them both take on Dave Stevens’ classic character feels like the kind of thing I will happily sign onto. Similarly, the first issue of the new Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Spike spin-off (Dark Horse, $2.99) automatically gets a pick-up, based on the quality of both the core Buffy and spin-off Angel and Faith books alone.

If I had $30, I’d add Prophet Vol. 1: Remission TP (Image Comics, $9.99) to my pile. I dropped off the single issues for this early on, because I wasn’t digging it as much as I wanted to, but enough people have told me that I’m wrong that I’m coming back to check out the collection — especially because (a) Brandon Graham and (b) that price point. I am continually a sucker for the $9.99 collection; publishers, you should remember this for me and people like me in future.

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Comics A.M. | Alan Moore to make rare convention appearance

Alan Moore

Creators | Alan Moore will make a rare convention appearance in September — his first in 25 years, according to this article — at the inaugural Northants International Comics Expo in Northamptonshire, England. To attend Moore’s hour-long talk on writing comics or the hour-long question-and-answer session, convention-goers are required to donate graphic novels to the Northamptonshire Libraries, which will have a table at the event. [Stumptown Trade Review]

Creators | Mark Waid gets the NPR treatment, as Noah J. Nelson interviews him about his digital comics initiatives. “I got news for you: I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and this is the hardest writing I’ve ever had to do,” Waid says of creating digital comics. [NPR]

Publishing | Abrams ComicArts editorial director Charles Kochman discusses the publisher’s spring lineup, which will include William Stout’s Legends of the Blues, Darryl Cunningham’s What the Frack, a history of Bazooka Joe comics, and a Will Eisner artbook written by Paul Levitz. [ICv2]

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Food or Comics? | Dark Horse preserves

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.

West Coast Avengers: Lost in Space-Time

Graeme McMillan

It’s not even a fifth week, but I find myself curiously distanced from this week’s releases for some reason. Outside of some books I’ve been reading for awhile, there’s little to really catch my eye, so if I had $15, I’d likely find myself buying Dark Horse Presents #10 (Dark Horse, $7.99) and Memorial #4 (IDW, $3.99), and being quite happy with those two books.

If I had $30, I might go back to Justice League with #7 (DC, $3.99); I wasn’t entirely convinced by the opening arc, but I found myself enjoying the Pandora back-up in #6 enough that I found myself more curious about sticking around than I would’ve expected. I’d also grab Legion of Super-Heroes #7 (DC, $2.99), another book I’ve found myself liking more than I initially thought, as well as Thunderbolts #171 (Marvel, $2.99) for one of the few, final times before it becomes a part of the Avengers family.

Splurging, oddly, is a much easier choice for me than what I’d get in single issues: Avengers: West Coast Avengers – Lost In Space-Time (Marvel, $34.99) collects some of the first issues of West Coast Avengers that I read way back when, launching a love affair with Steve Englehart’s writing that continues to this day. Those original issues are long since lost to history (Somewhat fittingly, considering the time travel subject matter), so this will be a welcome nostalgia trip for me.

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Food or Comics? | Hades or haddock

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.

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man

Graeme McMillan

It had to happen; I’m so uninspired by this week’s offerings, I’d skip the $15 altogether and go straight for the $30 option, which I’d spend on the Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis Premiere Edition Vol. 1 HC (Marvel, $24.99); I ended up skipping out on the single issues after #3 because of the price, but I enjoyed it enough that I’d happily pick up the collection.

If I were looking to splurge even more than that, there’s also the Spider-Man: Spider-Island Companion HC (Marvel, $39.99), which gives me a chance to catch up on the peripheral titles from the recent event; I picked up the Spider-Girl series, but missed out on the well-reviewed Cloak and Dagger and other books.

Explorer: The Mystery Boxes

Brigid Alverson

You know who is getting a lot of my money this week? Abrams, that’s who: I’m going two for two on their releases this week.

If I had $15, I’d keep it all-ages, with their Explorer: Mystery Box anthology, edited by Kazu Kibuishi, who was also responsible for the Flight anthologies, so you know the talent lineup will be stellar. At $10.95, the paperback edition won’t break the bank, and it’s a good deal for 128 pages of full-color comics. That leaves just enough for issue #5 of Roger Langridge’s Snarked ($3.99).

If I had $30, I’d put Snarked back on the shelf and pick up another Abrams book with a more adult subject: My Friend Dahmer ($17.95 for the paperback). Derf Backderf went to school with Jeffrey Dahmer; one grew up to be a cartoonist, one became a serial killer. I’m always interested in how people evolve, and by all accounts, Backder’s story of the young Dahmer is fascinating.

Splurge: A big pile of manga! This is Viz’s big release week for comics stores, and they have a lot of worthy titles: Vol. 19 of Naoki Urasawa’s outstanding 20th Century Boys, vol. 6 of the lovely pseudo-historical shoujo drama The Story of Saiunkoku ($9.99), vol. 9 of the I-want-to-be-a-mangaka drama Bakuman ($9.99), and the first volume of a new series about a sassy girl in a new school, The Devil and Her Love Song ($9.99). There are some weeks when I can barely figure out how to spend any money at all, but between Abrams and Viz and BOOM!, this week really does bring an embarrassment of riches.

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Laura Lee Gulledge makes holiday magic

Laura Lee Gulledge has an interesting double life: She’s the creator of the graphic novel Page by Paige, which was published by Abrams earlier this year, but like many others in the field, she also has a day job. It’s a very unusual day job though: Gulledge is a scene painter for store window displays, and she worked on the holiday displays for several big New York department stores. She has posted some fascinatingly surreal videos and photos of the windows she worked on at her blog, It Needs More Glitter, and she told me that she painted all of the Saks windows herself, rather than working with a group, adding, “so you can recognize my inking style in the finished work.” Gulledge is working on a children’s picture book concept that is inspired by her Christmas-window work—a book that she would love to see as the starting point for a real store window, thus bringing the whole thing full circle. I was curious how she mingles her two careers in real life, so I e-mailed her a couple questions.

Robot 6: How do you integrate your graphic novel work with your store windows–do you have to set everything else aside when the holidays draw near?

Laura Lee Gulledge: Anyone in comics can tell you that there isn’t a lot of money in it, especially when you’re a new author building an audience. So working as a “holiday elf” for 4 months of the year has been a good way to supplement my income over the past couple years while working on my comic projects. Unfortunately, taking away time from a book when you already have a deadline (just so you can pay the bills) can be hard. With Page by Paige I gave myself only 7 months to draw it all out because I worked a season on Christmas windows, which was insane. For my next book I’m giving myself more time to draw it, so I might not be able to fit in another season of windows. It’s been a great learning opportunity to be a scenic artist, but ultimately I’d like to be drawing full time.

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