Abrams Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources

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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Abrams buys U.K. graphic novel publisher SelfMadeHero

U.S. art and illustrated book publisher Abrams announced Wednesday it plans to buy London-based graphic novel publisher SelfMadeHero. Financial terms weren’t disclosed for the deal, which is expected to be finalized in the next several weeks.

Founded by Emma Hayley, SelfMadeHero launched in 2007 with its much-publicized Manga Shakespeare line, which reinterprets the Bard’s plays, and Eye Classics, which adapts classic works like A Tale of Two Cities and The Picture of Dorian Gray. The publisher expanded in 2009, adding original fiction, Sherlock Holmes adaptations, and biographies (beginning with the well-reviewed Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness, published in the U.S. by Abrams ComicArts).

Hayley will remain as managing director, but distribution in the U.K. and export markets will be handled by Abrams & Chronicle Books. In spring 2012 SelfMadeHero will launch a North American graphic novel list that includes Chico & Rita by Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal, Kiki de Montparnasse by Catel & Bocquet, The Lovecraft Anthology: Volume I edited by Dan Lockwood, But I Really Wanted to Be an Anthropologist by Margaux Motin, and Best of Enemies: A History of U.S. and Middle East Relations by David B. and Jean-Pierre Filiu.

“Having long admired SelfMadeHero’s publishing program and Emma Hayley’s eye and taste for original and exciting graphic novels and material for both adults and children, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with her and her team to bring the books to even larger audiences,” Abrams President and CEO Michael Jacobs said in a statement. “We at Abrams have been looking to expand our reach in the still growing markets for comics and graphics and think that with SelfMadeHero we have found a perfect complement to our existing Abrams ComicArts publishing program.”

Abrams’ comics line includes Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Art of Jaime Hernandez, Nat Turner, Mom’s Cancer and Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?

Robot Reviews | Willie & Joe Back Home and Will Eisner’s PS Magazine

Willie & Joe: Back Home

Willie & Joe: Back Home
by Bill Mauldin
Fantagraphics, 288 pages, $29.99

PS Magazine: The Best of Preventive Maintenance Monthly
by Will Eisner; Selected and with an overview by Eddie Campbell
Abrams, 272 pages, $21.95

There can arguably be no finer example of how to completely sabotage a successful career than what cartoonist Bill Mauldin did upon returning back to the United States at the close of World War II. The youngest person (he was 23) to win the Pulitzer Prize at that time, his gag cartoons, featuring dirty, worn-down, battle-hardened, embittered soldiers (most notably the pair known as Willie & Joe), which ran in Stars and Stripes and later in national newspapers, allowed soldiers to vicariously let off steam — someone out there knew what they were going through — and gave the citizens back home a look at the war that few media outlets at the time provided.

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Abrams to feature art of Star Wars comics in new book this October

Star Wars art by JH Williams III

LucasFilm and Abrams Books have teamed up for Star Wars Art: Comics, a collection of artwork from “the entire history of Star Wars comics publishing,” from the first Star Wars adaptations published in 1977 by Marvel to the present day.

According to the press release, the artwork has been “hand-selected and curated” by George Lucas and will feature interior pages and fully painted covers from artists such as Al Williamson, Howard Chaykin, Adam Hughes, Bill Sienkiewicz, Dave Dorman, and many more. It will also feature newly commissioned art by 20 creators, including John Cassady, Sam Kieth, Mike Mignola, Paul Pope, Frank Quitely, Jim Steranko and, as seen above, J.H. Williams III.

“I wanted something that was a new character of my creation,” the artist wrote on his blog. “I had been told that George was a longtime comics fan. So I also wanted to go for this classic giant monster versus hero idea, like stuff you might see in old [Jack] Kirby comics, but here it needed to be a mechanical weapon that looked like a creature, giving a sense of story beyond fighting a giant monster. This gives more weight for the snippet of a bigger unseen plot idea. And the scene had to have a strong design sense to it, so it could have a signature look that could be identified with my sensibilities, but still felt like Star Wars when you look at it.”

This is the second book in Abrams’ Star Wars Art series; the first one, subtitled Visions, was released last year. Star Wars Art: Comics has an introduction by Virginia Mecklenburg, a foreword by Dennis O’Neil, and a preface by Douglas Wolk. It features a cover by Dave Dorman and is due in October.


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