Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guests are D.J. Kirkbride and Adam Knave, writers of Amelia Cole and the Unknown World, which was released last week by Monkeybrain Comics.
To see what Adam, D.J. and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
Creators | Following the appearance of the Infinity Gauntlet in Thor and the cameo by Thanos in The Avengers, Marvel appears poised to expand the cosmic elements of its cinematic universe with The Guardians of the Galaxy. While some fans eagerly await a movie announcement next week at Comic-Con International, Thanos creator Jim Starlin (who had to buy his own tickets to Thor and The Avengers) may be laying the groundwork for a legal challenge: Heidi MacDonald points out that Starlin has posted an early drawing of the Mad Titan on his Facebook page, writing, “This is probably one of the first concept drawings of Thanos I ever did, long before I started working at Marvel. Jack Kirby’s Metron is clearly the more dominant influence in this character’s look. Not Darkseid. Both D and T started off much smaller than they eventually became. This was one of the drawings I had in my portfolio when I was hired by Marvel. It was later inked by Rich Buckler.” [The Beat]
Comics | Tim Marchman, author of that much-discussed Wall Street Journal article, is at it again, this time interviewing Watchmen editor Len Wein about his work on Before Watchmen, and including the interventions of DC Comics Publicity Manager Pamela Mullin as part of the story. Between the embargo on the comic and Mullin doing her job, it sounds like the most interesting parts of the interview never made it into the final product. [The Daily Beast]
This was, at one point earlier in the week, going to be the place where I looked forward to the first wave of Monkeybrain Comics, which were originally going to be released tomorrow. Then, of course, Monkeybrain got announced, went viral in the way that lots of publishers claim to but don’t actually manage, and ended up putting out their books two days early due to reader demand. I’m telling you, I don’t like the way that their good fortune screws with my carefully planned* timetable.
If you only checked Twitter today for your news, you know that, among other fun facts, Anderson Cooper is gay, Big Sean gave Justin Bieber a pinkie ring and Chris Roberson announced the new digital comics initiative Monkeybrain Comics is coming July 4.
Make that was coming, actually–due to the attention they received today, Monkeybrain and comiXology decided to launch the line early.
“With “#Monkeybrain” trending worldwide on Twitter most of the day, Monkeybrain Comics and comiXology have taken the unprecedented step of releasing the entire launch line of Monkeybrain Comics two days early. Available now at this link, fans worldwide can stop tweeting about “#Monkeybrain” and start experiencing this great new line of comics. (But seriously, don’t stop tweeting about it either! – Chris and Allison.),” read the press release from comiXology.
Available now from comiXology are:
- Aesop’s Ark by J. Torres and Jennifer L. Meyer
- Amelia Cole and the Unknown World by Adam P. Knave, DJ Kirkbride and Nick Brokenshire
- Bandette by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover
- Edison Rex by Chris Roberson and Dennis Culver
- October Girl by Matthew Dow Smith
I’m downloading Bandette as I type this, soon to be followed by the rest. The comics are 13-16 pages each for 99 cents except for Amelia Cole and the Unknown World, which is $1.99 for 31 pages. I mean, seriously; 99 cents for a Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover comic? I’m all over that. You can check out artwork from each of them over on CBR.
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics.
Wait a minute … “monthly”?
It’s true that we haven’t taken a What Looks Good tour in a few months, but the feature is back with an all-new approach that we hope will be more varied and useful than the old format. Instead of Michael and Graeme just commenting on everything that catches our attention in the catalog, we’ve invited Chrises Mautner and Arrant to join us in each picking the five new comics we’re most looking forward to. What we’ll end up with is a Top 20 (or so; there may be some overlap) of the best new comics coming out each month.
As usual, 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.
1) Love and Rockets New Stories #5 by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics) — How do you possibly top the triumphant storytelling feat that was “The Love Bunglers”? I dunno, but Jaime Hernandez is certainly going to give it the old college try, this time shifting the focus onto the vivacious “Frogmouth” character. Gilbert, meanwhile, brings back some of his classic Palomar characters, so yeah, this is pretty much a “must own” for me.
2) Skippy Vol. 1: Complete Dailies 1925-1927 by Percy Crosby (IDW) — Percy Crosby’s Skippy might well be the great forgotten comic strip of the 20th century. Extremely popular in its day, and a huge influence on such luminaries as Charles Schulz, the strip has largely been forgotten and the name conjures up little more than images of peanut butter. IDW’s effort to reacquaint folks with this strip might change that — the few snippets I’ve read suggest this is real lost gem.
3) The Voyeurs by Gabrielle Bell (Uncivilized Books) — Tom Kaczynski’s small-press publishing company drops its first major, “big book” release with this memoir from the always-excellent Gabrielle Bell. Collecting work from her series Lucky (and, I think, some of her recent minis), the book chronicles a turbulent five year period as she travels around the world. Should be great.
4) Godzilla: The Half Century War by James Stokoe (IDW) — I usually stay as far away from licensed books as possible, but there is one simple reason I’m including this comic in my top five: James Stokoe. Stokoe’s Orc Stain has quickly become one of my favorite serialized comics, and his obsession with detailing every inch of the page combined with his ability to incorporate significant manga storytelling tropes in his work convince me he can do a solid job chronicling the adventures of the big green lizard that spits radioactive fire.
5) Barbara by Osamu Tezuka (Digital Manga) — Speaking of manga, here’s one of the more noteworthy Kickstarter projects of recent years: Digital Manga’s attempt to bring the master’s saga of a famous author and the homeless, beautiful woman he takes in and assumes to be his literal muse. This is well regarded in many Tezuka fan circles as one of the cartoonist’s better adult stories, and I’m glad to see Digital willing to take a chance on bringing more Tezuka to the West. I’ll definitely be buying this. I should also note that Vertical will also be offering some Tezuka this month, namely a new edition of Adolph (originally published by Viz in the ’90s), here titled Message to Adolph but well worth checking out regardless of the title.
Brian Truitt has a nice backgrounder on the Before Watchmen controversy at USA Today that allows both sides to state their case. If you’re just tuning in, on the eve of the sprawling prequel’s debut, this will save you a lot of time. The basic question: Should DC Comics create a prequel to Alan Moore’s Watchmen despite his opposition to the project?
DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio: “The strength of what comics are is building on other people’s legacies and enhancing them and making them even stronger properties in their own right.”
Former DC writer Chris Roberson: “Watchmen is a book, complete in one volume, with a beginning, middle and end. The continued attempts to recontextualize it as a ‘franchise’ or a ‘universe’ are, I think, part of the problem.”
Darwyn Cooke, one of the Before Watchmen creators, also observes that Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons does support the new books, and that his voice should not be ignored. (Cooke is also spotlighted in a separate article about the Before Watchmen: Minutemen miniseries, which debuts Wednesday.)
Still not heard from: Lewis Carroll, L. Frank Baum and J.M. Barrie on how they feel about Moore’s reuse of their characters in Lost Girls.
Roger Langridge is the latest creator to say he is no longer going to work for Marvel or DC Comics because of concerns about the way they treat creators.
The subject came up last week, when Langridge, the writer of Thor: The Mighty Avenger, the Muppets comics (originally created for BOOM! Studios and now being republished by Marvel) and John Carter: A Princess of Mars, was interviewed on The Orbiting Pod podcast. After chatting about his newest comics Snarked! and Popeye (which IDW Publishing has just expanded from a four-issue miniseries to an ongoing series), he added this:
I’m very happy to be cultivating a working relationship with people like BOOM! and IDW at the moment when Marvel and DC are turning out to be quite problematic from an ethical point of view to continue working with.
I think it’s down to everybody’s individual conscience, but I think those of us who have options—and I do have options, I’ve got a working relationship with a couple of different publishers, I’ve got illustration to fall back on, I’m not beholden to Marvel and DC for my bread and butter, so it seems to me that if you do have the option you should maybe think hard about what you are doing and who you are doing it for. I was writing the last issue of John Carter when the news came that Marvel had won a lawsuit against the heirs of Jack Kirby, and Steve Bissette wrote a very impassioned post about the ethics of working for Marvel under those circumstances, and pretty much then I figured I should finish the script I was writing and move on, and it’s not like Marvel needs me. It’s no skin off their nose if I don’t accept anything else from them in the future.
On his blog, Langridge clarifies that he made the decision last summer, at a time when he wasn’t doing any Marvel or DC work, so he’s not so much quitting as deciding not to go back. His statements come less than a month after iZombie and Superman writer Chris Roberson made headlines with his announcement that he’s ending his relationship with DC because of its treatment of creators and their heirs.
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.
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.
Many comics fans are struggling right now to find a workable position to take on the issue of creators’ rights. On one end of the spectrum are folks who have no problem boycotting everything Marvel and DC Comics do until past and present creators are treated fairly. On the other end are those who simply don’t give a crap and are all for corporations doing whatever they’re legally entitled to. Somewhere in between though are those of us who are torn between wanting to see creators treated fairly and being really super-excited to watch The Avengers. What are we to do about that?
My insistence on seeing a film seems really freaking petty when Chris Roberson is willing to give up work over these issues, but at the end of the day, I know I’m gonna go see that damned movie. My not seeing it won’t make a bit of difference to Jack Kirby’s family — and besides, what did Robert Downey Jr. ever do to me, anyway? And yet … Chris Roberson.
Fortunately, Jon Morris has an awesome solution. “So how about this?” he writes. “You’re probably going to go see The Avengers and, judging by the early reviews, you’ll probably enjoy it. How about — as a thank you to the creators who brought you these characters in the first place, who gave you something to enjoy so much — you match your ticket price as a donation to The Hero Initiative?”
Morris is a genius, and we should do what he says. I know I will, and not just my ticket price, but that of my wife and son, who are big fans of the Marvel movies. If you can afford to, maybe consider doubling your ticket price for a donation, just to cover someone else who doesn’t know about the creators’ rights issue or hasn’t heard of The Hero Initiative. The point is, if you care about creator rights, but don’t think that boycotting is the answer for you, donating however much you’re comfortable with to the support of those creators is an excellent idea.
There are three things rattling around in my head today: Chris Roberson’s public departure from DC/Vertigo, John Seavey’s empirical evaluation of the Silver Age, and the notion of a Justice League movie.
Not surprisingly, the last is a product of the inescapable, wearying Avengers hype. My 3-year-old daughter, who knows superheroes mostly from her dad’s toy collection (or if they’re on “WordGirl”), happened to see a commercial the other day and exclaimed “Hey, it’s Captain America!” (She has since started playing with Mary Marvel and Katma Tui.)
As it happens, I’m perfectly happy to hold off seeing Avengers — and doing my part to deny it a big opening, in protest of Marvel’s treatment of Jack Kirby — until after its first weekend. (For this Bluegrass State native, the Kentucky Derby will always be a bigger deal.) Although I am obviously more of a DC guy, I should be at least moderately excited for this movie. I grew up on the Avengers of the 1970s and early ‘80s, when it was written by the likes of Steve Englehart, Jim Shooter, and Steven Grant, and pencilled by George Pérez and John Byrne. A couple of decades later, I eagerly followed the Busiek/Pérez run. For the most part I have enjoyed the Marvel movies, especially Captain America; and I didn’t mind The Ultimates, which surely informs much of the new movie. I trust Joss Whedon to present Earth’s Mightiest in the best light possible.
So along with the bad taste of creator exploitation, perhaps it’s a bit of pre-movie burnout which has got me down, or perhaps it’s just the constant drumbeat of publicity. Either way, it got me thinking about a Justice League movie….
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]
Spurred by DC Comics’ upcoming Watchmen prequels and its prolonged legal battle with the heirs of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, iZombie writer Chris Roberson announced last week he would end his relationship with the publisher following the release of his Fairest arc — only to have the company decide his “services were no longer required” for the Fables spinoff. The developments triggered substantial discussion, and debate, online, so it’s perhaps to be expected that Roberson would be brought up over the weekend to DC Comics Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee during the Before Watchmen panel at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.
Asked by moderator Geoff Boucher how, as a creator, Lee reconciles Roberson’s comments about DC’s position on creators’ rights, the Image Comic co-founder replied, “I don’t know the writer, Chris [Roberson], and so — you know, it certainly would have helped if I could have talked to him or if he would’ve reached out to me. It seemed odd to me — as a creator, I would not publicly state I have a problem with the company that’s paying me to do work for them and I’m going to quit after I finish this one project. It would seem wise to me to wait until you finish that project to voice that complaint.”
DiDio was more terse in his response, saying, “As far as I’m concerned, he made a very public statement about not wanting to work for DC, and we honored that statement.”
“See,” Lee joked, “now that’s the line that’s going to run.”
Following his announcement that after an upcoming arc of the Fables spinoff Fairest he’s done writing for DC Comics, writer Chris Roberson said today that the Fairest arc he was scheduled to write is no longer happening.
“Sorry to disappoint anyone, but I won’t be writing a Fairest arc after all,” Roberson said on Twitter. “It was decided my services were no longer required.”
The tweet was soon followed by a show of support from Fables creator Bill Willingham: “Not decided by me. I will work with @chris_roberson any time. Any place.”
If you missed it yesterday, Roberson announced he would no longer write for the publisher based on their treatment of other creators and their heirs. “My reasons for no longer wanting to be associated with DC don’t stem from anything to do with my personal experiences there, but from watching the way that the company has treated and continues to treat other creators and their heirs,” Roberson told CBR yesterday. “The counter-suit against the Siegel estate and the announcement of the Watchmen prequels were the specific incidents that crystallized my feelings on the matter. I’d like to make clear, though, that I have nothing but nice things to say about the editorial staff at Vertigo with whom I’ve worked for the past few years.”
Roberson, who has written not only the awesome iZombie and various Cinderella spinoff mini’s but also took over as writer of Superman after J. Michael Straczynski left the title, has taken a stand based on principle and has now paid the price by having paying work taken from him. No doubt he expected it–hell, given DC’s history, everyone probably knew this would happen–and I give him big props for doing it anyway.
And as Kurt Busiek said in our comments section yesterday, DC ain’t the only game in town. “I am privy to a little inside information of what @chris_roberson will be doing instead of his Fairest arc and it will be awesome. So there,” Willingham said.
Update: Roberson says that he has been paid for the work he’s already turned in on Fairest.
“Aside from the Fairest arc I already committed to doing, iZombie will be the last time I’ll ever write for DC,” he said, following it later with “I decided quite some time ago, but waited until after the cancellation of my book was announced to discuss it. The short version is, I don’t agree with the way they treat other creators and their general business practices.” The cancellation of iZombie, the Vertigo title Roberson does with Mike Allred, was announced at the Emerald City ComiCon earlier this month.
As for the reason for his decision, Roberson cited a recent post written by David Brothers on ComicsAlliance titled “The Ethical Rot Behind ‘Before Watchmen’ & ‘The Avengers.’” CBR reached out to Roberson for further clarification:
“My reasons for no longer wanting to be associated with DC don’t stem from anything to do with my personal experiences there, but from watching the way that the company has treated and continues to treat other creators and their heirs,” Roberson told CBR. “The counter-suit against the Siegel estate and the announcement of the Watchmen prequels were the specific incidents that crystallized my feelings on the matter. I’d like to make clear, though, that I have nothing but nice things to say about the editorial staff at Vertigo with whom I’ve worked for the past few years.”
iZombie ends with issue #28, and I don’t think the timing of his Fairest arc has been announced yet. Despite not wanting to work with DC anymore, this doesn’t spell an end to Roberson’s comics career. “I’m not going anywhere! I’ve got loads of new stuff in the pipeline,” he also tweeted last night.
(Hat tip: Bleeding Cool)
Friday update: Roberson said on Twitter that he will no longer be working on Fairest. “Sorry to disappoint anyone, but I won’t be writing a Fairest arc after all. It was decided my services were no longer required.”
Creators | Novelist and X-Club writer Simon Spurrier recounts how he gave up his seat on a panel at last weekend’s London Super ComicCon to creator Tammy Taylor, in the spirit of “Panel Parity”: “Paul’s idea is that you can’t expect true gender parity in comics unless you create the conditions to facilitate it. Even if one has to dabble in positive discrimination, even if one must expect outraged cries of ‘tokenism!,’ ‘political correctness gone mad!,’ ‘patronising cockcentric condescension!,’ it’s worth it. So Paul created a movement he called ‘Panel Parity’ in which he planned to exercise the only real power he has – like any of us in the weird world of industry conventions – to make a difference. Paul pledged that whenever he’s invited onto a panel which doesn’t feature at least 50% women, he’ll surrender his own seat to a female speaker. Even if that means tracking down someone less ‘well-suited’ to discussing the topic at hand than himself. Even if it means disappointing people in the crowd who travelled to the show specifically to see him talk. As long as Said SheGuest is able to contribute in some way to the conversation, Paul feels her presence on stage is more valuable than his own. Which is a brave and important and splendid thing to say.” [Simon Spurrier]