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Talking Comics with Tim | Tom Brevoort

Tom Brevoort, photo by Luigi Novi

Let’s not mince words, the online presence of Tom Brevoort has provided hours of great reading for Robot 6 readers. Given his constant and unflagging willingness to interact with consumers via social media, Brevoort is a quote machine (His Twitter bio? “A man constantly on the verge of saying something stupid–for your entertainment!?”). There’s always a directness (some would say bluntness) to his manner online–making him the ideal subject for an interview. Last year saw Marvel promote Brevoort to senior vice president for publishing. 2011 was a year of some major successes for Marvel, as well as a year where some hard business decisions were made. In this interview, conducted in mid-December via email, I tried to cover a great deal of ground (we even briefly discuss DC’s New 52 success)–and Brevoort did not hold back on any of his answers. For that, I am extremely grateful. Like any high profile comics executive, Brevoort has his fans and his critics (and many in between), but I like to think this exchange offers some perspectives everyone can enjoy.

Tim O’Shea: Whether it’s in your job description or not, fan outreach via social media is definitely part of your job–clearly by your own choice. What benefit or enjoyment do you get from interacting with the fans/consumers?

Tom Brevoort: I’m not sure that I get a particular benefit, except maybe just being the center of attention for a few minutes—maybe everything I do is motivated by ego! I’m a whore for the spotlight! But I started doing this kind of outreach back in the formative days of internet fandom, largely because I like the idea of internet fandom. I know that, if the internet had existed when I was a young comic book reader, I’d have been on those message boards and in those chat rooms all the time, obsessively—just like a certain portion of the audience today. So I like the idea of giving back, of being accessible enough that anybody who has a question or a concern knows where to find me, or at least to find somebody with an insider’s track who might have the background and knowledge to speak to their point. In a very real way, it’s all an outgrowth of what Stan Lee did in his letters pages and Bullpen pages. Joe Q, I think, was really the first person to perfect that approach for the internet age. As EIC he was incredibly available to the audience in a myriad of ways. It’s a philosophy that’s very much woven into our DNA at Marvel. And for the most part, our fans are interesting, vibrant, cool people, especially when you meet them in person.

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What Are You Reading? with Geoffrey Golden and Amanda Meadows

BLAMMO #6

Season’s Greetings and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at what we’ve been reading lately. Today our special guests are Geoffrey Golden and Amanda Meadows, editors of Devastator: The Quarterly Comedy Magazine for Humans. Their latest issue has a video game theme, with contributions from James Kochalka, Corey Lewis, Danny Hellman and many more. And if you head over to their website between now through Dec. 16, the code ROBOT6 gets you 20 percent off single issues.

To see what Amanda, Geoffrey and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below.

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4chan takes on J. Scott Campbell’s Mary Jane Watson

J. Scott Campbell’s never been the most realistic of comic artists, and that’s part of his charm. But the notorious pranksters at 4chan have taken issue with the way he posed Mary Jane Watson on the cover to Marvel’s The Amazing Spider-Man #601. You’ll need to click after the break to see 4chan members acting out the contortions.

This brings up a broader point about cartooning: Since their inception, comics have largely strayed away from realistic depictions of characters, be they humans, anthropomorphic animals or anything else. While Campbell’s poses might not be anatomically realistic, part of his style/aesthetic/appeal lies in that bending of reality. Having real people act out some of the exaggerated poses of Campbell, Rob Liefeld or Jack Kirby would show how unrealistic they are … but then again, that stylistic exageration is what makes illustration different from photography and part of the appeal.

That out of the way, seeing people act out Campbell’s poses below is engrossing.

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Shelf Porn | A ‘trophy room’ filled with statues and original art

Welcome to Shelf Porn! It’s been awhile since we’ve posted this feature and we’re back with quite the collection today, as David Dougherty, a lawyer from Florida, shares his nicely displayed collection of statues and original art.

If you’d like to see your collection featured here, contact me at jkparkin@yahoo.com. And now let’s hear from David …

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Food or Comics? | Fear of a Bad Island

Fear Itself #5

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.

Graeme McMillan

It’s a week where I’m happily embracing the superhero of it all. If I had $15, I’d go for the fifth issue of Marvel’s Fear Itself ($3.99), mostly because I’m this far in and I’ll probably keep going just to see how it turns out instead of actually enjoying it, as well as the first issue of “Spider Island” in Amazing Spider-Man #667 (Marvel, $3.99) to continue my love/hate relationship with Dan Slott’s Spider-Man run. But when it comes to full-on nostalgia, DC has me in the palm of its hand with DC Retroactive: Justice League of America – The ’80s #1 (DC, $4.99). No joke: The Justice League Detroit era is one of those guilty pleasures that I not only can’t explain, but also can’t resist – Gerry Conway revisiting that failed team for a new one-shot (especially with art by Ron Randall) is something that I literally can’t help myself but pick up.

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Comics A.M. | ‘Spider-Island’ tops sluggish July; BOOM!’s Disney titles end in October

Amazing Spider-Man #666

Publishing | Sales of comic books and graphic novels in July fell 6.17 percent versus July 2010, with dollar sales of comic books sold through Diamond Comic Distributors falling 4.27 percent and graphic novels falling 10.10 percent year-over-year. Unit sales for comics were only down slightly, at .52 percent, which ICv2 points out “indicates that comic book cover prices have in fact declined. The problem is that circulation numbers have not risen enough to make up for the decline in revenue from lower cover prices.” Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man #666, which kicked off the “Spider-Island” event, was the best-selling comic of the month, while League of Extraordinary Gentlemen III Century #2 from Top Shelf topped the graphic novel chart. John Jackson Miller has commentary.

Marvel saw a slight increase in its dollar market share for July when compared to June, while DC’s jumped from 28.03 percent in June to 30.55 percent in July. IDW, the No. 5 publisher in terms of dollar share in June, moved to the No. 3 position in July. The top seven publishers were rounded out by Image, Dark Horse, Dynamite and BOOM! [ICv2]

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What Are You Reading? with Akira the Don

Amazing Spider-Man #666

Today our special guest is the recently married Akira the Don, a musician and artist whose latest album, The Life Equation, can be heard on his website.

To see what Akira the Don and the Robot 6 crew are reading, click below.

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Amazing Spider-Man #49 cover art expected to go for $100,000

Amazing Spider-Man #49

Heritage Auctions expects the original art for the cover to Amazing Spider-Man #49 to go for around $100,000 when it goes up for auction later this month.

Drawn by John Romita Sr., the cover features Kraven the Hunter and the Vulture double-teaming Spider-Man. According to Ed Jaster, senior vice president at Heritage Auctions, it’s only the second cover by Romita they’ve offered for auction.

In addition to the Spider-Man cover, several other comic-related items will go up for bid in Heritage Auctions’ Signature Vintage Comics & Comic Art Auction on Aug. 17-18. These include Victor Moscoso’s original treatment for the wraparound cover to Zap Comix #4, Steve Ditko’s original art for page 17 of The Amazing Spider-Man #12, a George Herriman hand-colored Krazy Kat Sunday comic strip and a page of art from an unpublished Superman story by Joe Shuster, Paul Cassidy and Wayne Boring.

What Are You Reading?

Mysterius the Unfathomable

Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at the comics and other stuff we’ve been enjoying lately. Our special guests this week are Aaron Alexovich (Invader Zim, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Serenity Rose, Fables) and Drew Rausch (Sullengrey, The Dark Goodbye, Cthulhu Tales), the creative team behind the horror/comedy comic Eldritch!

To see what Aaron, Drew and the Robot 6 crew are reading, click below …

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What Are You Reading?

Lost Girls

Hello and welcome to Wha Are You Reading? Today our special guest is illustrator, photographer, writer, filmmaker and jazz musician Dave McKean, whose works include Cages, Mr. Punch, Signal to Noise, The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, Violent Cases, Coraline and many, many more. He has a new book with writer Richard Dawkins, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True, coming out in October, as well as a graphic novel called Celluloid coming out from Fantagraphics in June. Special thanks to Chris Mautner for asking him to participate this week.

To see what Dave and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …

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What Are You Reading?

The Essential Doctor Strange Vol. 3

Welcome once again to What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is John Jackson Miller, writer of Star Wars: Knight Errant and Mass Effect comics for Dark Horse and various Star Wars prose novels. He’s also the curator of The Comics Chronicles research website. His next comics series, Star Wars: Knight Errant, Deluge, starts in August.

To see what John and the Robot 6 crew are reading, click below.

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Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Godzilla: King of Monsters

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday 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 what we call our “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Michael May

If I had $15:

I’d start with IDW’s Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #1 ($3.99) and have Wednesday night’s bedtime reading for my nine-year-old taken care of. And as long as we’re talking about Phil Hester comics, I’m not leaving the store without Wonder Woman #609 ($2.99) and the return of the classic costume. Then I’d add Captain America and the Secret Avengers ($3.99) because it’s Kelly Sue DeConnick’s writing Black Widow and those are two of my favorite people in comics. And I’d round off the order with Elephantmen: Man and Elephantman #1 ($3.99) because I’m behind on Elephantmen and this sounds like a good place to check in and catch up.

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Manhattan quarantined in Marvel’s ‘Spider-Island’ summer event [Updated]

The Amazing Spider-Man #666

While Marvel fans knew the April-debuting “Infested” arc would put them on the path to “Spider-Island,” few details were known about the next big Spider-Man event. That is, until this evening.

On today’s episode of G4′s Attack of the Show, “Fresh Ink” host Blair Butler revealed that the storyline begins in August’s Amazing Spider-Man #667 as more than 16,000 New Yorkers begin to manifest abilities similar to Peter Parker. Among those residents embroiled in a spider-powered crime wave? Hawkeye and Shocker.

But as the crisis worsens, with many New Yorkers sprouting extra limbs, Mayor J. Jonah Jameson is forced to place Manhattan under quarantine. Hence, “Spider-Island.”

Butler teases that the event, by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos, will permanently change some of Spider-Man’s core cast members.

Watch the “Fresh Ink” segment after the break.

Update: Now with the official press release and cover art, after the break.
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The Fifth Color | A bold new era with the passing of the last

Amazing Spider-Man #655There are two constants in this world: death & taxes. And because no one wants to watch the X-Men note their deductibles in a double-sized gate-fold covered extravaganza, we see a lot of death in comics. Much like origin stories, deaths are a reward to read because we are witness to moments of change and a new beginning in an old, familiar life.

By now I take it for granted that everyone knows who Spider-Man is. Pop culture has evolved in such a way that people can recognize a lot of obscure heroes that we normally reserved for the True Believer. But that doesn’t mean people know everything and, like I said, people are excited to be there when it first happened, or even just when the last thing happened.

Ratings go up when the last episode of a television show airs. No one ever asks me at my comic shop for the most recent volume of the Walking Dead when they are inspired by the new TV show, they want the first volume even though it will recap some information they’ve already seen. Marvel’s Point One program could be that entry point for curious readers who at least know the basics, but want to have that thrill of being there when it first happened, whatever that may be.

Then what? Yeah, we all want to be there when Peter slings his first web or when the puny Banner transforms into the brutish Hulk for the first time, but there’s always more to that story than just its beginning. You can’t just string a bunch of events together, over and over, starting something and never finishing it. Stories that highlight this brave new start have to go on after that moment and never be the same again. If you use a death to highlight a moment in your story, things simply can’t return to normal the next issue. These beginnings and endings have to matter for the reader to be enticed to the next issue. Sure, Stacy X died in an issue of the most recent incarnation of the New Warriors, but that death meant nothing to the greater comics stories at large, no one important took it to heart and most likely she’ll come back as a zombie or a movie cameo, and that moment will be empty.

Two books came out this week in a double whammy of mourning, teaching me at least a little about how to do these beginnings and endings right. I’d like to give these two issues a toast, to the future of these characters and the undiscovered country that awaits them both.

(WARNING: Hey everybody, people died in comics! If you don’t know who these people are or haven’t caught up on the Fantastic Four or Amazing Spider-Man, please go do so. These are pretty phenomenal books right now, and they will win you over with excellent storytelling and astounding artwork. If you already know who lives and dies, read on and let’s discover some country. Read on!)

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What Are You Reading?

Chew Omnivore Edition

Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly round-up of the comics and other stuff that have escaped the unread stacks of books next to our beds. Our special guest this week is Nathan Edmondson, writer of the Image comics Who is Jake Ellis?, The Light and Olympus. To see what Nathan and the Robot 6 crew have bene reading, click below.

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