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Comics A.M. | This weekend, it’s HeroesCon; civil liberties group defends The Oatmeal creator

HeroesCon

Conventions | Creative director Rico Renzi discusses HeroesCon, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this weekend with a three-day event that’s experienced a spike in advance ticket sales: “Stan Lee’s attendance to this year’s show has definitely caused a spike in advance ticket sales from what I can tell. I honestly like the show at just the size it is; it’s just right. I used to hop on a bus from Baltimore to go the NYCC and I loved it for the first couple years. It just got too big for me too enjoy it, you couldn’t walk around without rubbing up against strangers. It’s a great alternative to San Diego now I guess. If you’re looking for a pure comic book show though, HeroesCon is where it’s at.” In addition to Lee, this year’s guests include Neal Adams, Mark Bagley, Cliff Chiang, Frank Cho, Becky Cloonan, Geof Darrow, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Evan Dorkin, Tommy Lee Edwards, Matt Fraction, Francesco Francavilla, Jaime Hernandez, Dave Johnson, Jeff Lemire, Paul Levitz, Mike Mignola, George Perez, Louise Simonson, Walt Simonson, Scott Snyder and Bernie Wrightson. [The Comics Reporter]

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Quote of the day | A specific effort not to push readers away

Atomic Robo and his diverse Action Scientists

“One ‘defense’ for not making the effort to be inclusive is, ‘Aw, but man, I don’t want to have to think about this stuff, I just want to read/write stories.’ And, y’know what? We’re sympathetic to that. Thinking about it can be really taxing, confusing, and depressing. Imagine if you had to think about that stuff all the time. Perhaps due to being not white? Or not male? Or not straight?”

Brian Clevinger, explaining why Atomic Robo is specifically designed to be as inclusive as possible, while still telling awesome stories

Food or Comics? | Are you my mutton?

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.

Saucer Country #3

Graeme McMillan

If I had $15 this week, I’d pick up the third issues of what may be becoming my two favorite new series: Saga (Image, $2.99) and Saucer Country (DC/Vertigo, $2.99). The former is easily one of the most enjoyable, most packed books out there right now for me, with Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples firing on all cylinders with the two issues to date, whereas the latter has an enjoyably retro feel that reminds me of the earliest days of the Vertigo imprint in ways that I can’t quite put my finger on but love nonetheless.

If I had $30, I’d grab the new edition of Leviathan (Rebellion, $16.99), a collection of a 2000AD horror story by Ian Edginton and D’Israeli that the creators apparently described as “Agatha Christie meets Silent Hill” about a Titanic-esque cruise ship that disappears in the middle of the ocean, and ends up somewhere else … with no land in sight for more than two decades. Really looking forward to reading this one.

Should I suddenly find enough money down the back of my couch to splurge this week, then I’d hope to find the $29.99 I’d need for the Deadenders trade paperback (DC/Vertigo). I entirely missed the Ed Brubaker/Warren Pleece mod romance comic the first time around, so this collection of the entire series will be a welcome chance to make up for past mistakes.

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Food or Comics? | Higher Earl Grey

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.

NonNonBa

Chris Mautner

If I had $15, I’d grab the latest Lio collection, Zombies Need Love Too. Cartoonist Mark Tatulli has one of the better newspaper comic strips going these days.

If I had $30, I’d nab what is clearly the book of the week, NonNonBa, the latest book from Shigeru Mizuki, author of Onward Toward Our Noble Deaths. NonNonBa aims more toward Mizuki’s traditional milieu of Japanese folklore and yokai monsters, though this book is more autobiographical in nature in that it deals with his relationship with his grandmother and how she instilled in him an interest in the spirit world. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this release.

My splurge for the week would likely be one of two books from First Second: Either Baby’s in Black, Arne Bellstorf’s fictionalized tale of the sadly doomed Beatle, Stuart Sutcliffe, or Mastering Comics, Jessica Abel and Matt Madden’s follow-up to their previous how-to textbook, Drawing Words, Writing Pictures.

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Free Comic Book Day: What to look out for

Today is Free Comic Book Day, and here’s a rundown of some of the comics that caught my interest. If you want to check ‘em out before you go, CBR has previews of many of the FCBD titles. (My FCBD comics came from my favorite Boston comics shop, Comicopia.)

Hands down, the one comic everybody wants is Archaia’s hardback anthology, which includes brand-new stories from six of their titles: Mouse Guard, Labyrinth, Return of the Dapper Men, Rust, Cursed Pirate Girl, and Cow Boy. The stories stand on their own but also tie in to the books in clever ways; the Mouse Guard story is a puppet show, and the Rust story features a boy writing a letter to his father (as his older brother does in the book). This book is a keeper; it even has a nameplate inside the front cover. Here’s a list of where Archaia creators will be doing book signings this FCBD.

BOOM! Studios has a nice flipbook with several Adventure Time comics on one side and Peanuts on the other. The Peanuts comics are mildly funny, but the Adventure Time side is edgier and features extra stories by Lucy Knisley and Michael DeForge. The stories are colorful and lively, and DeForge’s contribution, about a bacon ecosystem that supports tiny breakfast organisms, is downright surreal.

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Food or Comics? | Sharknife shish kebab

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.

Sharknife, Volume 2: Double Z

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d skip lunch and dig in to the overdue Choker #6 (Image, $3.99). I almost considered waiting for the trade on this one, but I know once I see the shiny object in front of me in stores I’ll want to find out the ending to Ben McCool and Ben Templesmith’s story. After that I’d get Uncanny X-Force #23 (Marvel, $3.99), which still holds the crown for my favorite current Marvel book. I was hesitant of Remender & co. going off into Otherworld despite my fascination with the realm going back to my Excalibur days, but I’m being rewarded with good story for my allegiance. The only thing it’s missing is an appendix reminding me of older stories that he references here. Last up would be a two-fer with Spaceman #5 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99) and Walking Dead #95 (Image, $2.99). I’ve talked about both at length here, and they continue to buffet me with greatness.

If I had $30, I’d first snag Daredevil #10 (Marvel, $2.99) to see more of Paolo Rivera’s work over the solid storytelling by Mark Waid. Then, I’d rub my eyes to make sure I’m not seeing things and pick-up the 5+ year delayed book Sharknife, Vol. 2 (Oni, $11.99). I’ve been a big fan of Corey’s work back when he was doing inspired Mega Man rip-offs, and the chance that I’ll finally see this sequel is exciting and heartbreaking. I hope the quality of the book inside is enough to stave off my feelings about the severe delay the book had.

And for splurging, I’d spend my CBR paycheck on Gone To Amerikay (DC/Vertigo, $24.99). This book is at the intersection of three reasons I’d buy it: Colleen Doran, Derek McCulloch and historical Irish narratives. I’d hold McCulloch’s Stagger Lee up to any graphic novel of the past decade in terms of skill and potency, so to see him pair that with Colleen Doran’s crafty linework bears my immediate attention.

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Quote of the day | Paying creators for their effort

Atomic Robo: Real Science Adventures

We used to handle these things with short stories in the backs of our issues, but we weren’t satisfied with that model. The artists who drew those stories did so in their own free time. Call it fan art that just happened to be based on a Robo script they found. In their inbox. Sent by me.

We loved being able to pack a little more content in our issues, but we came to hate that it got there by exploiting our friends. Sure, they came to us, in some cases they begged. But if these guys are going to take the time to draw comics for us, they should get paid for the effort.

-Atomic Robo writer Brian Clevinger, explaining the ethical component of creating an anthology series about the dinosaur-slinging robot and his team of Action Scientists.

In a industry where so many creators are willing to work for “exposure” (and so many publishers are willing to exploit that), this is really damn cool. Those back-up stories have always added so much to the various Atomic Robo comics that Real Science Adventures was always an exciting idea for a series. This makes it even better.

Kickstart My Art | Help animate Atomic Robo

An animated version of Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener’s Atomic Robo, subtitled “Last Stop,” went into production some time ago. Now The Fictory, the animation studio that’s been working on it, needs about $12,000 to finish it.

“The Fictory, a small animation studio, is running a Kickstarter to raise funds that would allow them to complete work on a short Atomic Robo animated film,” Wegener told us over email. “No one involved is actually getting anything out of this. This is a total labor of love. But love needs to pay the electricity bill and eat every now and
again. Hence the Kickstarter.”

The project page has a list of all the rewards they’re offering, including DVDs of the project once it is completed, T-shirts, art books and animation cels, among others. Check out the trailer for the project after the jump.

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Food or Comics? | Raspberry RASL

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.

Dark Horse Presents #9

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d start out with Prophet #22 (Image, $2.99) by Brandon Graham and Simon Roy; it’s an Old West pioneering comic set on an alien world. Next up would be my favorite comic from Marvel these days, Uncanny X-Force #22 (Marvel, $3.99). Remender was raised on Claremont-era X-Men, and this is excavating the intricacies of Captain Briton and late ’80s Excalibur comics for Otherworld, Jamie Braddock and a swashbuckling Nightcrawler. Last up with my $15 bounty would be A Long Day Of Mr. James – Teacher (Blank Slate, $7.99). A great looking piece of cartooning from an artist, Harvey James, I’m looking to learn more about.

If I had $30, I’d double back and first pick up Dark Horse Presents #9 (Dark Horse, $7.99). Seriously, this is the comic that some fans were hoping for several years back: one book containing new stories from Paul Pope, Mike Mignola, Neal Adams, Brian Wood, Kristian Donaldson… and pin-ups by Geoff Darrow? Seriously, I second-guess any comics fan I meet who isn’t buying this. Next up would be Wolverine and The X-Men #6 (Marvel, $3.99) by Jason Aaron and Nick Bradshaw. Seeing Wolverine and Kid Omega going to an outer space casino sounds like everything the X-Men haven’t been in over two decades, but I’m liking it. I can only hope they run into Lila Cheney. Lastly, I’d pick up Jeff Smith’s RASL #13 (Cartoon Books, $3.50). The last issue was history-heavy focusing on Tesla, so I hope this one is bit more kinetic.

If I could splurge, I’d go back for a second Blank Slate book—Hector Umbra (Blank Slate, $26.99). I’ve heard nothing about cartoonist Uli Oesterle, but after seeing the preview on Blank Slate’s website I’m kicking myself. Long story short, DJ kidnapped during his set (at Robot Mitchum nightclub no less, best club name ever), and his friend Hector Umbra, an artist-turned-detective, goes after him. Some people compare Oesterle’s art to Mignola,but I see some Paul Grist in there as well.

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Food or Comics? | Conan the barberryan

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.

Thief of Thieves #1

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d start with Thief of Thieves #1 (Image/Skybound, $2.99). The gang at Skybound gave me an advance PDF of this issue, and I like it so much I want to hold the physical thing in my hands. Shawn Martinbrough really nails this first issue, and Nick Spencer really puts his Marvel work to shame with this story. Next up I’d get my favorite DC Book – Batwoman #6 (DC, $2.99) – and favorite Marvel book – Wolverine and The X-Men #5 ($3.99). I’d finish it all up with Northlanders #48 ($2.99). I’m not the biggest fan of Danijel Zezelj’s work, but I can’t let up now to see my long-running commitment to Northlanders falter at this point.

If I had $30, I’d dig into Richard Corben’s Murky World one-shot (Dark Horse, $3.50). Corben’s one of those “will-buy-no-matter-what” artists for me that Tom Spurgeon recently focused on, and this looks right up my alley. Next up I’d get Secret Avengers #22 (Marvel, $3.99) because Remender’s idea of robot descendents intrigues me, and then Wolverine and The X-Men: Alpha and Omega (Marvel, $3.99). I didn’t know what to expect from the first issue, and after reading it I still don’t know where this series is heading – but I like it so far. Finally, I’d get Haunt #21 (Image, $2.99). The combination of Joe Casey & Nathan Fox is like a secret code to open my wallet.

If I could splurge, I’d take the graphic novel Jinchalo (D+Q, $17.95) by Matthew Forsythe. I loved his previous book Ojingogo, and this looks to continue in that hit parade.

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Atomic Robo: She-Devils to synthesize “everything that is an Atomic Robo tale”

Brian Clevinger discusses the next Atomic Robo miniseries, Atomic Robo and the Flying She-Devils of the Pacific and it’s going to be a doozy.

She-Devils was supposed to be Volume 2. And then 3. Also 4 through 6. We kept finding reasons to push it back, but the truth was simply that we weren’t yet good enough to pull it off … Which means that, yes, a multi-generational time travel story that eschews traveling through time was a less intimidating story to us than She-Devils … [W]hat happens in it is hard as hell to pull off on a craft level. Moreover, I think Scott and I sensed that this had the potential to be one of those stories, a synthesis of everything that is an Atomic Robo tale. Hopefully we’re nearly good enough now that we won’t screw that up.

Click the link for his full comments as well as Scott Wegener’s thoughts and research on the She-Devils, pictured above.

Previews: What Looks Good for March

The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes and first issues so that we don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “Batwoman is still awesome!” every month. And we’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.

One cool change this month and for the foreseeable future: I’m joined by Graeme McMillan who’ll also be pointing out his favorites.

Finally, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.

Abrams Comicarts

The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist – I admit, I tend to run hot and cold on Clowes’ output, but I’m a sucker for coffee-table career retrospectives, so the idea of taking 224 pages to look back at his career to date (with, of course, the traditional little-seen artwork and commentary) seems like a must-look at the very least. [Graeme]

Abstract Studios

Rachel Rising, Volume 1: The Shadow of Death – Terry Moore’s latest series gets its first collection and I love the premise of a woman’s waking up in a shallow grave with no memory of how she got there and needing to figure out who tried to kill to her. [Michael]

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Atomic Robo rolls a critical success, gets RPG

Atomic Robo: The RPGAtomic Robo writer Brian Clevinger announced that he and artist Scott Wegener have joined forces with Evil Hat Productions to create a role-playing game based on everyone’s favorite Tesla robot.

Clevinger writes, “It’s probably a sad statement about our business savvy that most creators can talk about their projects in terms of the movie deals they’re bound to get. Scott and I? Even before the first issue came out, all we wanted was a tabletop roleplaying game. Y’know, because comics just wasn’t niche enough.”

The game will use a variation on the FATE system, modified by game designer Mike Olson. MTV Geek offers a couple more details, stating that this is an early announcement and that the game is still in development. It will likely be released later this year or early in 2013.

Food or Comics? | Arroz con Archaia

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.

20th Century Boys, Volume 18

Chris Arrant

If I only had $15, I would only be buying one title this week: 20th Century Boys, Vol. 18 (Viz, $12.99). Sorry Americanos, but Naoki Urasawa is delivering a gripping, sprawling drama that most other books can’t live up to. Wait, I’m wrong – I’d buy two comics with a $15 budget this week; I’d snag the $1 The Strain #1 (Dark Horse, $1) for the price point and Mike Huddleston. I’ve read the novels, but for $1 I can’t miss sampling at least the first issue.

If I had $30, I’d be thankful to double-back and first get Uncanny X-Force #18 (Marvel, $3.99). This issue, the finale of the “Dark Angel Saga,” has been a long time coming and I’m excited for the writing, the art and the story itself; and I can’t forget colorist Dean White, sheesh he’s good. After that I’d pick up my usual Walking Dead #92 (Image, $2.99) and then try Ed McGuinness’ new work in Avengers: X-Sanction #1 (Marvel, $3.99). I’m a big fan of McG’s work, but also realize just how different he is than the standard Marvel (or mainstream super-hero) artist in general. I’ve loved his storytelling sense since Mr. Majestic, and will pick up most any of his work without knowing much about the book itself. Next up would be James Robinson & Cully Hamner’s The Shade #3 (DC, $2.99). I’m surprised DC hasn’t done more marketing for this book, especially considering it’s a character who’s never held a series before; they’ve done little-to-any marketing to define just who the character is, relying on his ties to a lesser-selling series that ended ten years ago (no matter how good it was). Getting off my soapbox: those that have been reading The Shade know it’s good. After that I’d round it off with the best looking comic on shelves, Batwoman #4 (DC, $2.99).

If I was to splurge, I’d double-up my J.H Williams 3 fix with the final volume of Absolute Promethea (DC/ABC, $99.99). Although I already own these issues in singles, getting it over-sized and in hardcover is a treat. I’m hoping it also includes some production art or process sketches – I’m a nut for that.

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The Middle Ground #78 | 10 things to keep you out of stores, trouble this weekend

Hey, it’s Thanksgiving this week! Which means it’s “Black Friday” this week! Which means, if you’re anything like me, you’re going to spend Friday staying far away from the madding crowds crushing themselves to death or a worryingly-close equivalent in search of a great bargain. So why not spend the time reading some comics, instead? For once, here’re some digital comics I think you should download and read instead of leaving the house this Friday.

This isn’t any kind of “best of” selection; it’s literally just a list of things that you may have missed that jumped out at me while perusing Graphic.ly and ComiXology’s selections this weekend, many of which are favorites of mine for reasons both strong and entirely random.

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