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Comics A.M. | Alibi witnesses testify in Michael George trial

Legal

Legal | Defense testimony began in the Michael George trial  Monday after the judge denied a motion by the defense to order an acquittal. George’s daughter Tracie testified that she remembers her father sleeping on the couch in his mother’s house the night in 1990 when his first wife Barbara was shot and killed in their Clinton Township, Michigan, comic store. Another defense witness, Douglas Kenyon, told the jury he saw a “suspicious person” in the store that evening and that Barbara George, who waited on him, seemed nervous. [Detroit Free Press]

Conventions | Last weekend’s Alternative Press Expo inspired Deb Aoki to offer a burst of suggestions on Twitter as to how it could be made better. Heidi MacDonald collected the tweets into a single post, and the commenters add some worthwhile points (including not scheduling it opposite the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, which attracts much of the same audience and is free). [Deb Aoki's Twitter, The Beat]

Awards | Ian Culbard’s adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness won the British Fantasy Award for best comic/graphic novel, presented Saturday by the British Fantasy Society. [The British Fantasy Society]

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What Are You Reading? with special guest Janice Headley

Big Questions

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly column where we successfully answer the question in the title. Our special guest this week is Janice Headley, events coordinator, publicist and “ambassador of awesome” for Fantagraphics.

To see what Janice and the Robot 6 crew have been reading this week, click the link below.

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This weekend, it’s SPX

SPX, or the Small Press Expo, returns to the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Bethesda, Md. this weekend.

The show’s special guests include Roz Chast, Jim Woodring, Diane Noomin, Jim Rugg, Ann Telnaes, Chester Brown, Johnny Ryan, Craig Thompson and Matthew Thurber, and fans who attend will also have the opportunity to meet and/or hear from Kevin Huizenga, Anders Nilsen, Jessica Abel, Sarah Glidden, Alex Robinson, Brian Ralph, Mike Dawson, Meredith Gran, Roger Langridge and Julia Wertz, just to name a few. I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out that our own Chris Mautner will be attending and conducting a Q&A with Johnny Ryan on Saturday, so be sure to tell him hi for us.

In addition to a lot of great talent, SPX also offers a full schedule of programming and the yearly Ignatz Awards. And a whole lot of new books and cool things will be available at the show:

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Food or Comics? | Doctor Who, Batman Inc. and more

Doctor Who

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

Let’s give all credit to IDW for their sense of timing. I’m so psyched up in advance of this Saturday’s return of Doctor Who to my television screen that this Wednesday’s release of Doctor Who Annual 2011 (IDW, $7.99) seems like the ideal way to prepare myself. If I had $15, I’d happily spend more than half of it on that particular anthology. The rest would go towards closing out the current incarnation of the DCU, as I’d be grabbing both Action Comics #904 and Batman: Gates of Gotham #5 (Both DC, $2.99).

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Quote of the day | Anders Nilsen on his career-spanning Big Questions

“It’s my newest book, but it’s also my oldest.”

Big Questions was Anders Nilsen’s first comic. That was 1999. Twelve years later, the epic series is finally finished and ready to come out in a massive 600-page collected edition from Drawn & Quarterly. What’s it like to have the entire dozen-year breadth of your career as a cartoonist exist as a single story between two covers? CBR’s Alex Dueben asked Nilsen about it. I’m lucky enough to own every single issue of the series, including those early minicomics, and it’s an absolute beast — half Achewood-style character-driven funny-animal comic, half nightmarish and shocking exploration of violence and fanaticism, and half document of Nilsen’s startling progress as an artist. Okay, that’s three halves, but hey, it’s a big book. You should read it, and this interview.

Comics A.M. | Superheroes’ big-screen struggle for diversity; Z-Cult FM returns

Green Lantern

Movies | National Public Radio commentator John Ridley critiques Hollywood for being even less diverse than the Big Two when it comes to diversity in lead characters, and demolishes their blame-the-audience theory that white people won’t go to see a movie with a black lead by pointing to a study by Indiana University professor Andrew Weaver: “Weaver found that white audiences tended to be racially selective with regard to romantic movies, but not necessarily when it came to other genres. So, sorry, Hollywood. You can’t blame it on the ticket buyers.” [NPR]

Piracy | Comic-book torrent tracker Z-Cult FM, which was threatened with legal action by Marvel in 2007 and eventually shut down in 2009, has re-opened its virtual doors. [Facebook]

Creators | Becky Cloonan talks about the joys and the hardships of being a full-time comics creator: “Comics are hard work. Comics are relentless. Comics will break your heart. Comics are monetarily unsatisfying. Comics don’t offer much in terms of fortune and glory, but comics will give you complete freedom to tell the stories you want to tell, in ways unlike any other medium. Comics will pick you up after it knocks you down. Comics will dust you off and tell you it loves you. And you will look into its eyes and know it’s true, that you love comics back.” [Becky Cloonan: Comics or STFU]

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SDCC ’11 | Fantagraphics hosts Hernandez Bros. + more at Comic-Con

Love & Rockets New Stories #4

We’re getting down to the wire here, but we still have a couple more pre-SDCC things to share … first up, Fantagraphics sent over their booth and panel schedules, to go along with the massive list of books they’ll debut at the show. A list they keep adding to — check out the SDCC special edition of 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente they’ll have on hand. It’s so limited you can count the number of copies they’ll have on three fingers.

They’ll have a whole bunch of creators at their booth this year, including all three Hernandez brothers, Paul Hornschemeier, Johnny Ryan, Anders Nilsen and many more. Check it out after the jump.

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What Are You Reading?

Deadpool Team-Up #886

Hello and welcome to a special “birthday bash” edition of our weekly “What Are You Reading” feature, where the Robot 6 crew talks about what books we’ve read recently. Usually we invite a special guest to share what they’ve been reading, but since today isn’t just an ordinary day for us, we thought we’d invite a whole bunch of special guests to help us out — our friends and colleagues from Comic Book Resources, Spinoff and Comics Should Be Good!

To see what everyone has been reading, click below …

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

John Byrne's Next Men

Welcome once again to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy based on certain spending limits — $15, $30 to spend and if we had extra money to spend on what we call the “Splurge” item. Check out Diamond’s release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Michael May

If I had $15:

There are a lot of great periodicals coming out this week, so I’d have some hard choices to make. With only $15, I’d concentrate first on those with the cheapest prices: the first issue of Dark Horse’s new Mighty Samson ($3.50), Atomic Robo and the Deadly Art of Science #2 ($3.50), and Mouse Guard: Black Axe #1 ($3.50). I’m already a huge fan of both Atomic Robo and Mouse Guard and – based on its concept and vague memories of stories I read as a kid – hope to become one of Mighty Samson too. I’d spend the last of my money on Northern Guard #1, because I’m a sucker for Canadian superheroes.

If I had $30:

I’d add Doc Macabre #1 ($3.99), John Byrne’s Next Men #1 ($3.99), and Strange Tales 2 #3 ($4.99). “Doc Macabre” is an awesome name and I love Steve Niles’ pulp stuff, I’ve been waiting 16 years for that Next Men issue, and the Strange Tales book has a Kate Beaton story in which the Avengers go to a carnival. I’d pay five bucks just for Beaton’s deal, but it’s also got a Thing tale by Harvey Pekar (and yes, Harvey Pekar is in the story).

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Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival unveils artist-packed programming schedule

Programming Director Bill Kartalopoulos has released the programming schedule for the upcoming 2nd annual Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, taking place on Saturday, Dec. 4 in Williamsburg, and it’s a doozy. Lynda Barry & Charles Burns and Françoise Mouly & Sammy Harkham will be paired off in panels that are perhaps the highlight of the show, while other spotlighted cartoonists include Golden Age artist Irwin Hasen (in conversation with Paul Pope, Evan Dorkin, and Dan Nadel) and Big Questions author Anders Nilsen, who drew the still-awesome poster you see above.

Check out the full schedule in the BCGF press release after the jump.

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Talking Comics with Tim: Joshua Cotter

Driven by Lemons

Driven by Lemons

Every once and awhile an email interview evolves far beyond my basic questions. But never has an email interview grown into something as constructive, candid and insightful as this email interview with Joshua Cotter. Longtime readers of Talking Comics with Tim may remember my email interview with Cotter last year. Back then we discussed Skyscrapers of the Midwest as well as the (then upcoming) Driven by Lemons (a 13-page preview of which AdHouse offers here). Cotter was such a fun interview then I wanted to catch up with him again this year. I wanted to discuss Driven by Lemons some more (now having had a chance to take it all in). I sent Cotter my questions and waited. Soon he replied with the following. I was amazed that after pouring all of this effort into his initial reply he was also still willing to reply to my (compared to what he had to say) inadequate questions. I can’t agree with everything Cotter writes (nor do I think he expects or wants anyone to agree with him). Where I most disagree is his assessment of himself. He’s an acutely astute and informed observer of the human condition who does not give himself enough credit for his emotional and intellectual efforts to get to a better place, literally and figuratively.

Hey, Tim. I bet you weren’t expecting this. Below is something that came out of my brain this afternoon. I started answering the questions, but I’ve been writing for hours and wanted to send it to you, since it may take the interview in an entirely different direction than you intended. And if you’d rather just ignore the pre-question rambles, I’d completely understand. I can find an outlet for it somewhere… but like I said, I’m tired. Here goes…

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Straight for the art | Nilsen’s Prosper

Nilsen's 'Prosper the Turtle'

Nilsen's 'Prosper the Turtle'

Over on his blog, Anders Nilsen talks about a children’s book he attempted to make for his younger sister, titled Prosper the Turtle, and how it led him to decide to pursue a life in comics.

Talking Comics with Tim: Anders Nilsen

Monologues for Calculating the Density of Black Holes

Monologues for Calculating the Density of Black Holes

Anders Nilsen makes improvisational storytelling entertaining, I’m happy to say. Nowhere is this more evident than his most recent Fantagraphics release (the second part in a trilogy and the follow up to Monologues for the Coming Plague), Monologues for Calculating the Density of Black Holes. I was fortunate enough to recently email interview Nilsen about his creative efforts.

Tim O’Shea: Monologues for Calculating the Density of Black Holes is the second in what will eventually be a trilogy, as you noted at your blog. Did you set out wanting to create a trilogy when you embarked on Monologues for the Coming Plague?

Anders Nilsen: When I started the first book I just thought I was doing some experiments in my sketchbook. Playing around. But once I had finished the material that comprises the first book I had started to see the potential for a more expanded form–the narrative had started to come together, characters develop, etc. I started thinking about it as a trilogy then.

O’Shea: In lettering the stories, you cross out text at certain points.What freedom do you enjoy by approaching these books as improvisational sketchbooks?

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