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Exclusive: Archie launches new magazine, Sonic digest

Archie Comics keeps coming up with new things, and here are two more: A deluxe, large-format Archie magazine and a Sonic the Hedgehog digest.

The Archie Comics Super Special magazine is planned as a quarterly publication, full color, with 128 pages of stories “from the Archie vault,” i.e., stories that have run before, along with a new story, “Betty and Veronica Save Christmas (or Not!).” The Archie folks are certainly making good use of their vast library by repackaging the material in different ways for different audiences — comics, digests, themed collections — and this is a format that kids will probably find appealing, especially as they will most likely be seeing the stories for the first time. This first, Christmas-themed issue, which will include creator spotlights and other bits of Archie news, will sell for $9.99 and will arrive in comics shops Oct. 31.

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Food or Comics | 20th Century Boysenberries

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.

Sakuran, Volume 1

Chris Mautner

If I had $15, the third issue of Batman Inc. would be a must for me this week [after Chris turned in his picks, DC announced that the issue will be delayed until next month], especially since it features the return of Matches Malone, a character I wasn’t even aware I missed until now. I might also spring for the first issue of Axe Cop: President of the World, a new limited series featuring the hatchet-swinging lawman.

I read very little manga by Moyoco Anno, but what I have read has impressed me and what I’ve read about her has made me want to seek more of her work out. So with $30, I’d almost certainly nab Sakuran, Vol. 1, about a high-priced courtesan/geisha looking to escape her gilded cage.

If I really, really wanted to splurge, I’d plunk $125 down for the second printing of the Wally Wood EC Stories Artist Edition from IDW, of which I’ve only heard wonderful things. If my splurging had to be a little budget-friendly, and I was in a more academic mood, I’d at least flip through Cerebus: The Barbarian Messiah, a collection of critical essays on Dave Sim’s controversial opus.

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Comics A.M. | Publisher Filip Sablik leaves Top Cow Productions

Filip Sablik

Publishing | Heidi MacDonald catches word that Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik is moving on to a new job, which will be announced next month at Comic-Con International (Rich Johnston contends that gig is at BOOM! Studios). Friday will be Sablik’s last day at Top Cow; Social Marketing Coordinator Jessi Reid will assume his marketing duties. [The Beat, Bleeding Cool]

Creators | Through its partnership with the Small Press Expo, the Library of Congress has acquired works by cartoonists Matt Bors, Keith Knight, Jim Rugg, Jen Sorensen, Raina Telgemeier, Matthew Thurber and Jim Woodring. Dean Haspiel’s minicomics collection was added to the holdings just last week. [Comic Riffs]

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Comics A.M. | Chris Roberson speaks on his split with DC Comics

Chris Roberson

Creators | iZombie writer Chris Roberson discusses his recent public announcement that he would no longer accept work from DC Comics and his subsequent dismissal from his last writing job for the publisher. “Well, this has been building over the last few months, and mostly had to do with what I saw DC and Time Warner doing in regards to creator relations. I think the first thing — you have to understand that when I first started working for DC in 2008, the Siegels had just recaptured half of the copyright for Action Comics #1 and I felt very good about that. That seemed like a very positive step. And then over the course of the last few months there has been the counter-suit against the Siegels’ lawyer, Marc Toberoff, and I was less sanguine about that, and starting to get a little itchy about it, and then there were just a few general things about the way that it seemed that DC regards creators now that are working for them — and I can talk about that more in detail — but the real kind of proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was the announcement at the beginning of February of Before Watchmen, which I just thought was unconscionable. And so I had already signed a contract by that point to do six more issues of iZombie, of which three of them had been turned in, and so I just made the decision to go ahead and turn in the remaining three, not wanting to jeopardize the livelihood of my collaborators Mike and Laura Allred. But once I turned in the last one, even though I had other work lined up, I would have to at least — if only for my own peace of mind — let people know that I wasn’t happy with it.” [The Comics Journal]

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Archie and the gang to star in ‘story-driven game’ for iPhone, Android

Archie Comics and Canadian casual game developer Gogii Games have announced they’re working on a multi-platform, free-to-play video game featuring the Riverdale gang.

Launching on iPad, iPhone, Android and Flash — presumably, the latter means Facebook and Google+ — the story-driven game will feature “all the classic and iconic elements of Archie’s world, from Riverdale High to his two love interests, Betty and Veronica — not to mention friends and foes like Reggie, Jughead and more.”

“We’re excited and honored to be partnering with Gogii Games,” Archie Co-CEO Jon Goldwater said in a statement. “They came up with a way to really bring the comics to life and to engage an entirely new and fervent fan base. We can’t wait for this game to go live across all platforms and countries.”

Although the announcement notes that development is already under way, no release date has been made public.

Based in New Brunswick, Canada, Gogii boasts a catalog of more than 30 games, including Princess Isabella, White Haven Mysteries and Escape the Museum.

Apple adds comics section to the iTunes bookstore

When Apple opened its iTunes bookstore last year, comics and graphic novels were just mixed in with everything else. That changed today, as Apple introduced its Comics and Graphic Novels Section.

The selection is rather eclectic, with everything from Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland to The Walking Dead to How to Draw Manga. There are separate sections for Marvel, children’s comics, and collections of newspaper strips, which is a great idea, but everything else is a bit of a mishmash. (Most of these books were already in the iTunes bookstore; this page just collects them in one place for easy browsing.) In addition to Marvel and Image, the publishers represented include IDW (with their Locke and Key books), Archie, Seven Seas, and Manga University—but I didn’t see any DC titles. It’s definitely a bookish selection, but there are some bargains—and even some freebies—to be had.

Food or Comics? | Winter squash or Winter Soldier?

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.

John Romita's The Amazing Spider-man: Artist's Edition

Graeme McMillan

Congratulations, Dark Horse: You pretty much own my first $15 for the week, with Dark Horse Presents #8 ($7.99) and Star Wars: Dawn of The Jedi #0 ($3.50) both being my go-to new releases for the week. DHP has the new Brian Wood/Kristian Donaldson series The Massive launching, as well as more Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson and new Skeleton Key by Andi Watson, which is a pretty spectacular line-up, and the new Star Wars book coincides with the latest flare up of my irregular longing to check up on that whole universe’s goings-on. Apparently, I’m keeping it local this week, who knew?

If I had $30, I’d add Action Comics #6 (DC Comics, $3.99) and OMAC #6 (DC Comics, $2.99) to that pile — I’m particularly treasuring the latter before it goes away, although I have to admit that the time-jumping nature of these Action fill-ins has gotten me more excited than I should ‘fess up to — as well as a couple of Ed Brubaker books, Winter Soldier #1 (Marvel, $2.99) and Fatale #2 (Image Comics, $3.50). I wasn’t bowled over by Fatale‘s debut, but it intrigued me enough to want to give it another go, while the noir + super spy sales pitch for the new Marvel series pretty much guarantees my checking the first issue out at the very least.

When it comes to splurging, there is nothing I would buy – were I rich enough — more quickly than IDW’s John Romita Sr. Amazing Spider-Man Artist Edition HC ($100), because … well, it’s classic Romita as the pages originally looked on his drawing board. How anyone can resist that (other than the price point), I don’t know.

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Thoughts on the FCBD Gold comics

Free Comic Book Day is only six months away, and the FCBD folks started the drumbeat on Friday with the announcement of the Gold Sponsor comics. I didn’t realize this was a competition:

“We had a record amount of entries from publishers this year with more than forty-five different titles” said FCBD spokesperson Leslie Jackson. “Retailers on the committee had a tough time deciding on which titles to choose for Gold sponsorship, but we’re sure fans will be pleased with the line-up for next year.”

While the choices may have been difficult, it’s hard to imagine that someone couldn’t come up with something more enticing than what Image has to offer: “An anthology featuring all-new stories with a mix of Image’s old and new best loved characters!” Could you possibly get any vaguer than that? They don’t even have a cover design. If my comic got bumped for that, I’d be steaming. On the other hand, Archaia’s 48-page hardcover, featuring new material (not reprints or bits of something to come) looks mighty sweet, all the more so because they name names: A Mouse Guard story from David Petersen, a Jim Henson’s Labyrinth story by Ted Naifeh and Cory Godbey, a side story from Royden Lepp’s new graphic novel Rust, a Cursed Pirate Girl story from Jeremy Bastian, a Cow Boy story by Chris Eliopoulos and Nate Crosby, and a Dapper Men tale from Jim McCann and Janet Lee. There’s this year’s wow factor.

The line-up actually seemed pretty obvious to me, so I went back and looked at the Gold Sponsors for the past five years. Sure enough, six of the publishers are there every year: Archie, Dark Horse, DC, IDW, Image, Marvel. Since five of these are also Diamond’s premier publishers, and Archie is a newsstand juggernaut, there’s no surprise there. BOOM! Studios has been a Gold Sponsor for the past four years and Archaia for the past three. The other slots vary: Ape Entertainment was a Gold Sponsor in 2011 and 2010 but is missing this year, and Bongo and Oni are back after a two-year absence. Others who have popped up once or twice in the past five years: NBM/Papercutz (2011), Drawn & Quarterly (2010), Viz (2008 and 2009), Dynamite (2008), Virgin (2008), Gemstone (2007), and Tokyopop (2007).

There’s more to come: The Silver Sponsors will be announced next week.

Food or Comics? | Batwoman, 20th Century Boys, Regenesis and more

Batwoman #2

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.

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d first grab hold of my favorite of DC’s New 52, Batwoman #2 (DC, $2.99). J.H. Williams III has successfully kept up to the immense expectations he accumulated following his run with Greg Rucka, and the artwork seems to benefit even more by J.H.’s input into the story as co-writer. Next I’d dig down for two of my regular pulls, Northlanders #45 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99) and Uncanny X-Force #16 (Marvel, $3.99). For my final pick, I’d have to miss a bunch of other titles for the chance to get the CBLDF Liberty Annual 2011 #4 (Image, $4.99). I love the anthology format, and having that plus the good cause plus the a-list talent makes it a must get; seriously, can you imagine one comic book containing new work by Frank Quitely, Williams, Mark Waid, J. Michael Straczynski, Matt Wagner AND Craig Thompson? BELIEVE IT!

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What Are You Reading? with Jim Gibbons

B.P.R.D Hell On Earth: Russia #1

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is Dark Horse assistant editor Jim Gibbons, who I spoke to about his new job on Friday.

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

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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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The Middle Ground #69 | Seven Decades Of Teenagerdom

It says something – although, I admit, I’m not quite sure what – that the book I enjoyed reading most last week wasn’t one of the “New 52″ from DC, nor was it the long-awaited return of Casanova from Marvel… Instead, it was The Best of Archie Comics, a collection of stories from the past seven decades of America’s favorite teenager. Well, apart from Justin Beiber, obviously.

I’ve written before about my secret, somewhat confused love for the Riverdale gang, but there’s something about reading such a chunk of history from the publisher in one sitting (It’s not only Archie stories, either – there’re Sabrina The Teenage Witch stories in there, as well as Josie And The Pussycats, the little-remembered That Wilkins Boy and even some Katy Keene) that’s weirdly compelling and addictive; I finished the 400+ page book and pretty much wished I had another one, as long if not longer, waiting for me immediately.

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Preview: The Man from R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.

Ah, the Sixties, a simpler time when all spy and supervillain agencies were known by clever acronyms. Back in the heyday of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Get Smart, the Archie folks cooked up their own spy parody, and they are bringing it back this week in Archie & Friends #157. This story is a 1960s original by writer Frank Doyle and penciler Bob White, the same duo that devised the Captain Pureheart superhero parodies for Archie. Click for some retro cool, and pipe that Barbara Feldon ‘do on Veronica!

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What Are You Reading?

Any Empire

Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is Robert Stanley Martin.

Robert writes for his blog Pol Culture, and is a contributing writer to The Hooded Utilitarian. He is a past contributor to The Comics Journal, and his essays on R. Crumb’s The Book of Genesis Illustrated and Eddie Campbell’s Alec: The Years Have Pants are featured in the soon-to-be-released The Comics Journal #301.

To see what Robert and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click on through …

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

Flashpoint #1

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 a “Splurge” item.

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

Graeme McMillan

If I had $15 this week, I’d immediately go for Flashpoint #1 (DC Comics, $3.99) – I am very, very unsure about the number of tie-ins DC are pushing out for the new crossover event, but with Geoff Johns in charge, I’m suspecting that the main book will be worth a look at least. I’d also grab the relaunched GI Joe #1 (IDW, $3.99), if only to follow up on the “Cobra Civil War” storyline that I admit has completely caught my attention unexpectedly. Curiosity would also get me to pick up both Moriarty #1 (Image, $2.99) and Total Recall #1 (Dynamite, $1.99), two new launches that will hopefully take familiar ideas and characters in directions I wouldn’t expect…

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