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Six by 6 | Six great non-superhero comic book fights

Today’s Six by 6 sprang out of a recent post Comics Reporter Tom Spurgeon did on five of his favorite superhero fights. It’s a pretty excellent list and made me want to come up with my own, though I thought I might see if I could expand it a bit by staying away from the superhero genre and moving into other realms. What great fights could I find in the world of manga or alt-comix, I wondered?

Turns out I didn’t have to look too far. I should note though that this list is by no means definitive — it’s simply a list of six comic book battles that I like a whole lot. I’ve probably forgotten some. Actually I’ve probably forgotten plenty. Feel free to let me know what I’ve overlooked in the comments section.

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Finalists announced for Los Angeles Times Book Prizes

Duncan the Wonder Dog

The finalists were announced this morning for the 31st annual Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, which honor works in 10 categories, including biography, fiction, history and, yes, graphic novels.

Finalists and winners are selected by panels of three judges composed of published authors who specialize in each genre or category. The winners will be presented April 29 in a ceremony at the Chandler Auditorium in Los Angeles as a prelude to the 16th annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

The finalists in the graphic novel category are:

• Adam Hines, Duncan the Wonder Dog: Show One (AdHouse Books)
• Dash Shaw, Bodyworld (Pantheon)
• Karl Stevens, The Lodger (KSA Publishing)
• C. Tyler, You’ll Never Know, Book Two: Collateral Damage (Fantagraphics)
• Jim Woodring, Weathercraft (Fantagraphics)

For the full list of finalists in all categories, visit the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes website.

Downloadable Duncan: Sold-out graphic novel now available digitally

Duncan the Wonder Dog

Adam Hines’ Duncan the Wonder Dog has done pretty well — a little too well, as it turns out. The first printing has sold out, and the second won’t be ready until later this spring. So Hines did the logical thing and took the digital road, but in this case, it’s the road less taken: Rather than go with a comics app like comiXology, he is releasing Duncan in downloadable form via MyDigitalComics.com. MyDigitalComics allows users to either download comics in PDF or CBZ format or keep them in the cloud and read them via an online web viewer.

Chris Pitzer of AdHouse, which publishes the print version of the book, talked to Laura Hudson of Comics Alliance about the decision to publish the graphic novel via MyDigitalComics rather than comiXology. One factor was that comiXology needed to reformat the files for mobile devices like the iPhone, which neither party wanted to do. On the other hand, since the files were already in digital form, no prep was needed to sell them as PDF or CBZ downloads, so the digital cost is lower than print.

And if you want to view it for free, take a look at Adam’s blog, because hard as it is to believe, all of Show One is up there now. So why pay for a download? Because unlike a PDF, the web isn’t forever — Hines plans to take Duncan back offline in March.

Need to know more? Publishers Weekly reviewed Duncan this week.

Looking forward, looking back: Chris Pitzer on AdHouse in 2010 and 2011

Afrodisiac

If you’re looking for a company that started and ended strong 2010, look no further than AdHouse Books, the independent company that’s published books by Joshua Cotter, Paul Pope and James Jean, among others. Although they aren’t the kind of company that puts out a huge amount of books, they are one you can always count on to put out something interesting.

As for those bookends for the year, AdHouse kicked off 2010 with the release of Afrodisiac by Brian Maruca and Jim Rugg, and ended it with Duncan the Wonder Dog by Adam Hines, which landed at the top of some folks‘ best comics of the year lists. (Including my own; it came in at No. 16 on CBR’s list for 2010).

I spoke with AdHouse Publisher Chris Pitzer about the previous year, the above two books, their new AdDistro initiative and what they have coming up for 2011. My thanks to Chris for sending over a lot of cool art to show you as well.

JK: Thanks for agreeing to talk to us today, Chris. I thought we could start off talking about 2010, and in particular some the bigger projects you put out.Let’s start with something that seems like it came out a long time ago, Afrodisiac. It seemed to garner a lot of attention when it came out in January.

Chris: Thanks for the interest in AdHouse, JKP! I dig what the Robot 6 blog does, so I appreciate the opportunity to chat about this stuff. In regards to Afrodisiac, it was an HONOR to work with Jim and Brian on that. We’ve been “dancing” around the topic of publishing it for years, and it was nice to finally have it happen. Yeah, it feels like so long ago, doesn’t it?

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If there were a comics version of the Netflix Watch Instantly queue, what would you put on it?

Today Pop Candy’s Whitney Matheson did something that some consider too revealing even in this socially networked, airport x-ray’d age: She posted 20 movies from her Netflix “Watch Instantly” queue. Like anyone else’s, it’s a motley crew of movies made possible by a massive library of films and the power to watch any of them at any time with a few clicks of a mouse — a blend of “comfort food” you want access to at all times, unwatched stuff you’re dying to see at the next available opportunity, major investments of time or energy you haven’t been prepared to make just yet, “eat your vegetables” fare you know you ought to watch eventually, and goofy guilty pleasures you’re simply tickled to be able to watch whenever you feel like it.

This got me thinking. I know there are any number of logistical and financial reasons why such a thing doesn’t exist for comics. But we comics readers are an imaginative bunch, no? And today I choose to imagine a world where I can load up pretty much any book I can think of and read to my heart’s content. So here’s what my imaginary “Read Instantly” queue would look like, circa today. Check it out, then let us know what’s on your queue in the comments!

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Josh Cotter needs your help

from Driven by Lemons by Joshua W. Cotter

from Driven by Lemons by Joshua W. Cotter

photo by Whit Spurgeon

photo by Whit Spurgeon

The great cartoonist Josh Cotter, whose book Driven by Lemons ranked sixth on CBR’s list of the Best Comics of 2009, is in a bad way. AdHouse Books publisher Chris Pitzer reports that Cotter’s neighbor’s apartment recently caught fire, and the flames spread to the apartment Cotter shares with his girlfriend and their cats. Fortunately no one (two-legged or four-legged) was hurt, and the property damage could have been much worse. But with no renters’ insurance, and with the costs of clean-up and storage for all their stuff while they figure out their next move, Cotter is in the midst of a financial crisis.

Fortunately, there’s two ways you can help, and both involve getting truly awesome comics and art in return. First, you can buy things from Cotter’s website — not just his magnificent graphic novels Skyscrapers of the Midwest and Driven by Lemons, but limited edition minicomics, prints, original pages from his books, and much more.

Second, AdHouse is donating 100% of the proceeds from sales of any of Josh’s stuff directly to Josh for the next three weeks. If you ever wanted to check out the work of one of the best cartoonists of his generation, there’s never been a better time.

Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Wolverine #1, the top seller in September

Publishing | John Jackson Miller delves into September’s grim direct-market sales figures and discovers a (relative) bright spot: Sales of lower-tier titles — those that don’t crack Diamond’s Top 300 — appear to be increasing, to record levels. “How do we know?” Miller writes. “Believe it or not, a record for high sales was actually set in September. The 300th place comic book, Boom’s Farscape #11, sold more copies to retailers in September than in any month since November 1996: 4,702 copies. That’s a record for the period following Marvel’s return to Diamond. This bellwether tells us about the shape of the market, and how prolific the major and middle-tier publishers are; when many of their titles are being released and reordered, higher-volume titles tend to push farther into the list.”

However, the higher you go on the list, the worse things look: “The average comic book in the Top 25 is selling more poorly in 2010 than in 2003. At the very top of the chart, 2010′s average top-sellers are about 25% off what the best-sellers of 2003 were doing.” [The Comichron]

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APE ’10 | Some quick thoughts on Saturday

Writers Old Fashioned

Writers Old Fashioned

It was beautiful yet windy day in San Francisco yesterday as I headed to San Francisco for the Alternative Press Expo. I got there a bit later than I’d hoped, due to a quick pit stop in Mountain View that turned into a traffic nightmare. The lot behind the Concourse was already full by the time I arrived, a hint of the crowds that had gathered inside. And inside, everything was different. The layout of the floor was basically flipped, so what used to be the back of the building was now the front of the building. They also had part of their programming slate, the comic workshops, out in an open area up on one of the landings, which I thought worked nicely.

My first stop was the Writers Old Fashioned booth, where I said hello to Jason McNamara, Storm, Matt Silady, Stephenny Godfrey, Emily Stackhouse, Josh Richardson, Danger Bob and the rest of the crew. They were sporting some new eye-catching banners. I also met Greg Hinkle, who worked with several of the WOF crew on a new horror comic called Parasomnia, which they had at the show … and which you’ll be able to see right here on Robot 6 the week of Halloween. I picked up copies Storm’s second Princess Witch Boy and Godfrey’s award-winning Panorama, and Stackhouse showed me her artwork from her next comic, Miner’s Mutiny, which she should have soon.

AdHouse Books returned to APE this year, bringing Adam Hines and his book Duncan the Wonder Dog. I picked up a copy; it’s a huge and mammoth volume that I’m looking forward to reading. I also have to give props to the folks at the Devastator table, whose excitement was infectious. I picked up the first volume and bought a subscription for the next three.

After an engaging spotlight panel, Daniel Clowes was signing at the Drawn and Quarterly booth, drawing a huge line of folks with everything from issues of Lloyd Llewellyn to his latest, Wilson, for him to sign. Renee French was close by, signing her latest, H-Day; we talked briefly about blogging (check out her always interesting sketch blog here).

It looks like rain today, so I should probably start making my way to the Concourse to see if I can get a better parking space …

AdHouse collects rare Joshua Cotter newspaper strips

Early this morning AdHouse Books gave subscribers to its e-newsletter the exclusive first look at one of its upcoming projects: a collection of rare newspaper strips by Joshua Cotter (Skyscrapers of the Midwest).

The book, titled Barbra in the Sky with Neil Diamonds, is a collection of the newspaper strips Cotter created from 2002 to 2007 for the Kansas City Star. AdHouse is taking a unique approach to this, with a print run of just 99 copies, each one being numbered and accompanied with a matching S&N print. It’s going to retail for $39.99 and will debut in December at the Brooklyn Graphic Art Festival.

AdHouse has a preview correct preview up on its website. Fans of Cotter should make sure they read Robot 6′s interview with Cotter from back in May.

Man, that was over fast: My SPX 2010 report

spx2010

Get in line for cool comics

As is my wont, I made the one-day (the one day being Saturday) trek to Bethesda, Md., along with Joe “Jog” McCulloch for the annual Small Press Expo. Perhaps the Earth’s rotation is spinning ever faster, but this year’s show seemed a bit of a blur to me, even by previous years’ standards. Before I had a chance to say “Sorry, I’m tapped out and can’t buy your mini-comic,” it was after 6 p.m. and time to go home. Fortunately I took some pictures to help my fading memory keep the show alive in my tumescent brain. Or at least, I tried to take some pictures.

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What are you reading?

wild kingdom

The Wild Kingdom

Welcome to another round of What are you reading. JK is off enjoying the Labor Day weekend somewhere far away from any Internet connection, so I’m filling in for him this week.

And what a perfect week it is for me to fill in as we’ve got not one but two special guests this week! First up is Kristy Valenti, associate editor of The Comics Journal and Comixology columnist. If that weren’t enough we’ve also got Chris Arrant, who has been kind enough to guest-blog with us all this week.

Click on the link to see what they and everyone else has been perusing lately. And be sure to tell us in the comments what comics you’ve been reading as well.

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Paul Pope talks Battling Boy, DJing and the new THB

Screengrab from the upcoming documentary 'Soul Trading' about the Thee Hypnotics (Director Phil Staines, Cinematographer Andrew Foster)

Paul Pope is comics’ closest equivalent to a rock star.

It’s a reputation he’s garnered by both his comics works and his personality — and by the fact he’s an active DJ. He now splits his time between New York City and Europe, the latter of which is the first to see some of his anthology work. Last weekend, Pope and AdHouse Books stealth-released a new issue of his seminal series THB at Baltimore Comic-Con, with extra copies now available on AdHouse’s website. The unique nature of this release was due in no small part to Pope being off the shelves of American comic book stores for years while he completes the graphic novel Battling Boy for First Second.

Just moments after riding back from Baltimore, I spoke with Pope about the new THB, as well as Battling Boy and a creation of his even more rare than the new THB.

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AdHouse adds houses

The three faces of AdDistro

The three faces of AdDistro

Some cool comics just got a lot easier to get your hands on. Chris Pitzer of AdHouse Books — the stalwart and stunningly designed publishing imprint behind the likes of Jim Rugg & Brian Maruca’s Afrodisiac, Josh Cotter’s Skyscrapers of the Midwest and Driven by Lemons, James Jean’s Process Recess art books, and Pulphope: The Art of Paul Popetoday announced the creation of AdDistro, a new distribution effort that will make comics from small publishers and self-publishers available for purchase through AdHouse proper. The first three additions to the roster are London-based Nobrow Press, Canada’s Koyama Press, and creator Malachi Ward. Pitzer’s got quite an eye for quality, so if you’ve enjoyed AdHouse offerings in the past, I’m sure these newcomers are well worth a look. Might I suggest starting with Michael DeForge’s excellent, award-winning Lose series from Koyama?

Old Major would be proud: Preview AdHouse’s Duncan the Wonder Dog

Duncan the Wonder Dog

Duncan the Wonder Dog

AdHouse has a nice-looking book called Duncan the Wonder Dog shipping in September, by Xeric recipient Adam Hines. The description of the book reads:

What if animals could talk? Would some of them form a militant group in reaction to how humans treat them? Would humans treat them different? Come explore this dense tome of an alternate universe where the lavish renderings recall Dave McKean. 2009 Xeric winning Duncan the Wonder Dog WILL be one of the most talked about books of 2010.

After the jump you’ll find a preview of the first few pages of the book, but there’s an even longer one over on AdHouse’s site, available as a PDF. Go check it out.

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Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Apple

Apple

Technology | Apple said it is adding new security measures to its iTunes store after a developer reportedly hacked into numerous customer accounts to boost the ranking of his comic apps, which briefly dominated the book category. The company claims the weekend incident was an isolated — about 400 of its 150 million iTunes users were affected — but customers tell The Wall Street Journal that hackers have hijacked accounts before, with Apple doing little to stop them. [The Wall Street Journal]

Conventions | Heidi MacDonald looks at the tug of war between San Diego, Los Angeles and Anaheim for Comic-Con International, and the tough decision facing event organizers. “This has been by far the most challenging thing we’ve ever done,” said David Glanzer, the convention’s director of marketing and public relations. “Nobody thought we wouldn’t have a decision by June.” The board hopes to make a decision before this year’s event kicks off in two weeks. “If we don’t [make an announcement],” Glanzer said, “a lot of the focus is going to be on that.” [Publishers Weekly]

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