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Comics A.M. | Charlaine Harris’ new graphic novel; the origins of Epic

Charlaine Harris

Publishing | Charlaine Harris, author of the “Sookie Stackhouse” novels on which HBO’s True Blood is based, says that after she finishes the last two “Sookie” books, she plans to work on a graphic novel with Christopher Golden. “I’m very excited about that. It’s called Cemetery Girl with Christopher Golden, and it’s a very exciting opportunity.” Harris had mentioned wanting to do a novel called Cemetery Girl back in 2009, about “a girl raised by ghosts in a cemetery,” but put it on hold when she found out the plot was similar to Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.

Based on the description in the news report, it sounds like the story has been tweaked, as it says the graphic novel “centers on a woman who finds herself living in a cemetery with no memory of her past but a clear sense of a mysterious threat hanging over her.” This isn’t the first time Harris’ characters have found their way into comics, as IDW publishes comics based on HBO’s True Blood, and an adaptation of her Grave Sight novels has been published by Dynamite. [NBC San Diego]

Publishing | Former Marvel Comics editor and Transformers writer John Barber has joined IDW Publishing as a senior editor. IDW also announced the promotion of Tom Waltz to the company’s first senior staff writer position, in addition to his duties as editor, and the expansion of the company’s book department with longtime IDW employee Alonzo Simon becoming an assistant editor. [press release]

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DC teases new comic logos — but who designed them?

Over the past week or so, DC Comics has been parceling out logos for some the titles in its line-wide relaunch, a process goosed along by a little enterprising URL farming by Bleeding Cool and others, and the release of the cover for the July issue of Previews.

So far we’ve seen logos for Demon Knights, The Fury of Firestorm, Justice League, Justice League Dark, OMAC, Resurrection Man, Stormwatch and Suicide Squad. But what we’ve yet to glimpse is a designer credit.

Demon Knights, Resurrection Man and Suicide Squad, in particular, look like the handiwork of talented artist Rian Hughes, the designer of such comic-book logos as Batman and Robin, Wednesday Comics, Captain Britain and MI13, Strange Tales and NYC Mech. I emailed Hughes last night to see whether any of the new DC logos are indeed his, but he’s yet to respond.

The Justice League logo bears a passing resemblance to Chip Kidd’s somewhat divisive designs for All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder and All-Star Superman, but that probably owes to the tilt on the Previews cover. It seems unlikely that Kidd, who created the cover treatments for Final Crisis and the logos for Trinity, handled Justice League.

Check out the released, and leaked, logos after the break. And please contribute any designer credits if you know them.

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WordPress takes down Funky Winkerbean snark sites [UPDATED]

In its younger days, Tom Batiuk’s newspaper comic strip Funky Winkerbean was lighthearted and occasionally even funny, with, if I recall correctly, lots of jokes about selling band candy. In recent years, however, it has become notorious as the daily newspaper reader’s pit stop of despair, as disease, bankruptcy, dysfunction, and loneliness stalk the saddest cast of characters ever to grace the funny pages; the best that can be said of them is that they smirk in the face of death.

This has not gone unnoticed by the internet. Josh Fruhlinger mocks the strip (along with a good dozen others) on a regular basis at The Comics Curmudgeon, and at Comics Alliance, Chris Sims actually has a monthly roundup of the most depressing Funky Winkerbean strips. And until earlier this week, there were two blogs devoted to commenting on each day’s comic, Stuck Funky and Son of Stuck Funky (although Stuck Funky was no longer updated).

Then, which hosted both strips, got a cease and desist letter from Batiuk’s lawyers, demanding that both blogs be taken down because they were infringing copyright. WordPress complied, apparently without notifying the site’s owner. What is a bit more disturbing is that the C&D letter demanded that WordPress turn over the blogger’s name and address “so that we may take action to prevent the further unauthorized copying and distribution of this content,” which sounds kind of threatening.

There’s a lively discussion up at The Daily Cartoonist, in which the general thinking is that Batiuk went after these two blogs because they posted the strip every day (and then mocked it), while Fruhlinger and Sims go after a number of targets. Regardless of the reason, Son of Stuck Funky is back, albeit without images, dishing out that delicious Funky snark once more.

UPDATE: Batiuk responds at The Daily Cartoonist

Binky Brown Meets the Blogosphere: Underground comix pioneer Justin Green’s new website

"Expressive Markings" by Justin Green

"Expressive Markings" by Justin Green

Great catch by Jeet Heer of Comics Comics: Underground comics legend Justin Green has launched a blog, with three comics up so far and counting. Green is credited with more or less inventing the autobiographical comic — a staple of alternative comics ever since — with Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary, his exceptionally and hilariously frank 1972 comic chronicling his adolescent battles with sexuality, Catholicism, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. I first saw his work back in the ’90s, when his Justin Green’s Musical Legends strips graced the pages of Tower Records’ late, lamented Pulse! magazine. (You might also know him as cartoonist Carol Tyler’s on-again, off-again husband from her own autobiographical comic series, You’ll Never Know.) Whatever he’s selling on this thing, I’m buying.

(via our own Chris Mautner)

Comics A.M. | Tom Ziuko hospitalized, Paolo Rivera’s surgery

Crisis on Infinite Earths #12

Creators | Artist Alan Kupperberg shares word that colorist Tom Ziuko has been hospitalized as he fights acute kidney failure and other health conditions. “The good news is that the doctors seem to have finally stumbled on a series of treatments and therapies that have Tom seeing some light at the end of the tunnel,” Kupperberg said in a message to Daniel Best. “The bad news is that Tom, uninsured and unable to work since the beginning of December, is in a tough financial bind.” Kupperberg is accepting donations via his PayPal account — — and adds, “I will pass 100% (plus) along to Tom.”

Ziuko worked in DC Comics’ production department before going freelance, and colored comics like Crisis on Infinite Earths, Batman, Action Comics and History of the DC Universe, to name a few. Todd Klein remembers their time together at DC. [20th Century Danny Boy]

Creators | Artist Paolo Rivera suffered a broken cheekbone after intervening in a domestic dispute. “The good news is I’m all right and—most importantly—my vision is intact,” he wrote on his blog. “… I had surgery on Monday and have been taking it very, very easy since. All things considered, I was very lucky. My eye looks horrendous—the white of the eye is blood red—but I can still see (thank goodness) and should make a full recovery. I also have a pretty rad haircut right now due to surgery… it kinda looks like the one I had circa 1995.” [The Self-Absorbing Man]

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Quote of the day | Bendis on comics journalism, again

Brian Michael Bendis

and quite a few writers complained to me today that they would write better but they aren’t getting paid to do it.

having lived the first 10 years of my career making no money and having lived with artists and writers who have done the same… I don’t care about that.

you either work really hard and really try to make something worthwhile or you don’t. money has nothing to do with it. if you find a way to make money doing it fantastic. that I lived for many years under the impression that I was never ever ever going to make a dime. and so did a great many of my peers. money and the quality of your work should have nothing to do with each other. it just an excuse to fail.

Brian Michael Bendis on his message board today (echoing comments he made on Twitter earlier on), elaborating on his call yesterday for more in-depth comics criticism and journalism.

This isn’t quite what he’s talking about, but I did want to say a few words about this aspect of Bendis’s critique specifically. True, many artists in every art form toil primarily for love of the game, out of an innate need to create rather than out of hope for monetary reward. But journalism about and criticism of comics of the sort Bendis is calling for makes making comics, never the world’s most lucrative profession for the vast majority of people who participate in it, look like the California Gold Rush of 1848 by comparison. In a way, it stands to reason: Given the comparatively small number of paying gigs in comics, and the comparatively small audience for the product of those gigs, the number of paying gigs for comics criticism and journalism of any kind — including copy-and-paste and pseudo-hip snark, let alone in-depth investigative reporting and pages-long close reading of creators’ work — is going to be vanishingly low.

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Quote of the day | Brian Michael Bendis vs. the comics blogosphere

comics as an art form is in fantastic shape. the only things missing? thoughtful longform investigative journalism and critique. all we get nowadays are knee-jerk reviews and cut and paste blogging. which I have no problem with but it’s ALL we get. on a slow news week like this one I would love to see some of our better reporters rolling up her sleeves and helping the medium thrive. even reviews of trade paperbacks and graphic novels have seemed to have fallen by the wayside even though the sales are crazy large.

you’ll forgive me but I think that a snarky pseudo-hip attitude towards mainstream comics is uninteresting. if you’re a cut-and-paste blogger or comics journalist and I just annoyed the shit out of you… prove me wrong.

I am enjoying the e-mails from professionals agreeing with me but not wanting to stir the pot :-) Cut and paste blogging is cut and pastes from an article from another source… then adding a line of comment & signing their name to it.

I’m sorry I got on my high horse, I just do love this medium and I know a lot of you out there do as well. I miss amazing heroes :-) and for clarification I go to almost every cut-and-paste comics blog :-)

Brian Michael Bendis, the industry’s most popular writer, taking aim at a lot of people who write about the industry, on Twitter today. Shots fired! Shots fired!

(And now, by cutting-and-pasting his tweets, adding a line of comment, and signing my name to it, I’ve become part of the problem. Dammit!)

Quote of the day | What hath Groth wrought?

Gary Groth

Gary Groth

“I had an anus-clenching moment when I read Ken [Parille]’s parodic ‘Where are your standards?’ paragraph without knowing it was parody and thought, ‘My God, [Parille and Comics Journal contributor Noah Berlatsky are] both idiots!’ You can imagine my relief when Ken revealed that it was a joke! I thought I’d created some sort of critical purgatory that I would wander around in forever in an intellectual torpor, and the only way out would be to extinguish the site. My only solace was that I might bump into Harold Bloom and we’d sit down and commiserate.”

Comics Journal editor and Fantagraphics co-publisher Gary Groth, expressing his dismay that he can no longer tell actual posts on the Journal’s website from parodies thereof.

The last word on superhero comics?

from Final Crisis by Doug Mahnke

from Final Crisis by Doug Mahnke

Last week, Tom Spurgeon took a page from Monty Python and said he’d like to have an argument: “What are all these superhero comics really saying?” Given the genre’s domination of both the Direct Market and the comics internet, Spurgeon said he wanted to see a more in-depth discussion of what the heck is going on in these weird and wild comics, particularly regarding their heroes’ behavior and any potential larger message beyond “superheroes are awesome.”

In response, I proposed an argument of my own: “Why do superheroes dominate the online conversation the way they do?” In light of how many comics commentators and critics clearly read a wide variety of comics, or at least have been known to from time to time, I’m perplexed by why The Rise of Arsenal gets so much more airtime than Art in Time or 20th Century Boys.

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What comics arguments do you want to hear more often?

Hulk vs. Superman by Mike Deodato Jr.

Hulk vs. Superman by Mike Deodato Jr.

When you think about it, it only makes sense: Because the comics conversation is so dominated by old arguments, it can be tough to make room for new ones. That’s the thesis of a new post by The Comics Reporter’s Tom Spurgeon listing “Three Arguments We Could Be Having.” After we here at Robot 6 pivoted off Spurgeon’s interview with Noah Berlatsky to list the comics arguments we’d prefer never to hear again, Spurge is returning the favor by suggesting three he thinks we’d be better off having in their place: “1) Does reprinting archival comics have a moral component?; 2) Why are so many Direct Market shops still female unfriendly?; 3) What are all these superhero comics really saying?”

In other words, while the current golden age of reprints is a boon to all fans of the medium, what do its practitioners owe the creators of the comics they’re reprinting in terms of not just royalties, but also the best possible packaging and analysis of the material? Everyone’s got horror stories about some creepy store where the wares or employees make it a “shop at your own risk” situation for women and girls — why has that not translated to industry-wide action on those affronted consumers’ behalf? Should superhero comics be expected to have more of a message than “superheroes are awesome,” and if that is the message you go with, shouldn’t that be reflected across the board instead of occasionally having them indulge in really nasty behavior or suffer jarringly grim setbacks to get across the importance of a particular storyline?

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The Brave and the Bold lost covers team Batman with everyone from KISS to Kitty Pryde

"Lost" Brave and the Bold issue

"Lost" Brave and the Bold issue

With all the talk lately of reinterpreted classic covers and Fringe “other side” covers, it seems like the perfect time to direct your attention to The Brave and the Bold: The Lost Issues,.

The blog features mock-ups of The Brave and the Bold covers, teaming series star Batman with everyone from James Bond and Jonny Quest to Kitty Pryde and the members of KISS. Because who wouldn’t want to learn more about Alfred’s affair with Aunt May?

Via ComicsAlliance

What comics arguments do you never want to hear again?

42708b62a3Sometimes an interview can be interesting because of the questions the interview subject doesn’t answer. Case in point: Blogger and critic Noah Berlatsky’s interview with The Comics Reporter’s Tom Spurgeon. Pivoting off a recent Savage Critics roundtable on Daniel Clowes’s divisive black-comedy graphic novel Wilson, Berlatksy sets Spurgeon up with a characterization of literary comics of the sort Clowes creates as self-pitying, misanthropic, pessimistic, and tedious. It’s a characterization Spurgeon’s having none of:

[Berlatsky:] …there’s a default stance in certain regions of lit comics land which is basically: “life sucks and people are awful.” Which I think is glib and overdone and tedious, a, and which, b, can be made even more irritating by the fact that the people promulgating it are, you know, fairly successful, and (what with various autobiographical elements thrown in) the result often looks like a lot of self-pity over not very much.

So…I’m wondering how strongly you would push back against that characterization of lit comics in general…and also whether you feel it is or is not ever appropriate to think about a creator’s biography in relation to his or her work in that way.

[Spurgeon:] At this point I wouldn’t push back at all against the stance that says the default mode in lit comics land is basically “life sucks and people are awful” because it’s no longer an argument I take seriously. I don’t think it’s true by any reasonable measure and I’m done with entertaining the notion until someone presents the argument in a much more effective or compelling fashion than what always sounds to me like some angry, lonely, re-written Usenet post from 1997.

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Three reviews worth a thousand words

from Blue Spring by Taiyo Matsumoto

from Blue Spring by Taiyo Matsumoto

A great comic review can make you feel like you’ve read the book without showing you so much as a panel…but, y’know, showing a panel really can’t hurt. And three recent reviews — Tucker Stone on Taiyo Matsumoto’s Blue Spring, Charles Hatfield on Blaise Larmee’s Young Lions, and Noah Berlatsky on Junji Ito’s Uzumaki — really struck me with their well-selected spot art. A glance at each review’s illustrations — dynamic, sexy, and horrific respectively — can probably tell you whether these books are the kind of thing you wanna check out, which is great, because each review is a solid examination of what makes them worth checking out in the first place. Click the links, feast your eyes, and see what you think.

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At least there’s one superhero movie that doesn’t suck…

Is the superhero genre a cinematic dead-end? Since Salon’s Matt Zoller Seitz made the case last week, the topic has been much on the minds of the comics commentariat. Recently, Tom Spurgeon, Tim O’Neil, Charles Hatfield and yours truly have all weighed in on the matter, focusing on aspects like the power of individual moments or performances vs. that of the story as a whole, the storytelling techniques mandated by Hollywood’s need to get a return on the massive investments required for the genre, the question of why fans get so worked up for the movies when they have any number of (usually superior) comics about the same characters to read, and personal film-by-film rundowns of the genre’s high and low points.

Of course, this was all before I saw Black20’s magnificent made-up mash-up trailer for Iron Man IV. Now, it’s possible that this is a parody of super-sequels’ tendency to over-stuff themselves with new characters, extra villains and half a dozen subplots. On the other hand, when you’re presented with an Iron Man movie starring Robert Downey Jr., Fred Gwynne, Jim Carrey, James Brown, Vanilla Ice, Carl Weathers, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Barack Obama, M. Bison, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren, David Arquette, Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Don Cheadle, Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Johnny 5, who’s gonna complain? If you can make it through the 2:19 mark without laughing out loud, maybe you’re a superhero.

(Via Topless Robot)

With comics, what makes you say “okay, that’s enough”?

Blackest Night by Ivan Reis and Herogasm by Darick Robertson

Blackest Night by Ivan Reis and Herogasm by Darick Robertson

Green Lantern and Garth Ennis are responsible for very different comics; bloggers Tom Spurgeon and Tim O’Neil are two very different writers. Yet in recent days, both have posted about how they’ve reached their limit with comics about/by the aforementioned individuals — for very different reasons. And they’ve written some thought-provoking things about that tipping point where you decide “You know what? This comic isn’t for me anymore” in the process.

First up is Spurgeon, who in linking to Charles Hatfield’s negative review of Geoff Johns’s Green Lantern-starring opus Blackest Night said he hasn’t even read the series yet, simply because he has no interest in ever reading a comic about Green Lantern again. Says Spurgeon:

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