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What Are You Reading? with Ron Marz

Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading?, where today we welcome special guest Ron Marz. Marz has written everything from Green Lantern to Witchblade, and you can currently find him working on comics like Artifacts, Prophecy, Blackburn Burrow and The Ride: Southern Gothic. He also writes the column Shelf Life for Comic Book Resources and can be found on Twitter.

To see what Ron and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Bandette’s Paul Tobin & Colleen Coover

Bandette 2

One of the clearcut hits from the first wave of Monkeybrain Comics digital line is Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover‘s Bandette, a great mixture of Tintin and Nancy Drew-type adventure. Today marks the release of Issue 2 – for the great price of 99 cents – where (as you can see by the preview CBR ran yesterday) Bandette foils a bank robbery in her own unique way.

To help get people as riled as I am for today’s release, I recently barraged Coover and Tobin with a series of questions. As a longtime fan of Tobin’s run on Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man, it pleased me immensely that Tobin is building somewhat upon the Blonde Phantom/Chat substories/genre he explored in the former series. I also appreciate a turn of phrase that Tobin used (“zest for life”) in discussing the new digital collaboration with Coover. I think zest for life is a quality that fuels Coover’s art.

In addition to the digital Issue 2 coming out today, on Saturday Coover will be at the Jet City Comic Show in Seattle. My thanks to Coover and Tobin for their time.

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Group sketch blog The Sindiecate closes down

It must be hard work keeping these group sketch blogs going. While some keep ticking along like clockwork (Eclectic Micks, Scotch Corner), some other favorites have been on lengthy, near catatonic, hiatuses (What Not, Comic Twart). David LaFuente has posted an announcement on The Sindiecate that, after one year of regularly promoting indie comics through character sketches, they’ve decided to call it a day:

Lafuente here with a final report.

THE SINDIECATE is closing down its doors. This month marks the first year of the collective authors and initiative to pay tribute to independent comics. And it’s a good moment to call it a day.

Thanks to Jorge Muñoz, James Harren, Mike Choi, Ryan Ottley, Colleen Coover, Matteo Scalera for joining me on this project. It’s great to look back on that idea I had for the website and see what has become thanks to them.

And thanks to the people who liked our homages, helped spread the word and maybe make some new readers for the indie authors behind the books.

Adios! : )

Perhaps their mission has been accomplished: certainly, Indie comics do seem to be in a healthier state now than even a year ago.  High profile writers and artists seem to be flocking back in that direction, and with the massive sales numbers of The Walking Dead #100, the zeitgeist’s pendulum seems to swung further to the side of creator-owned than anytime since the early 1990s.

Comics A.M. | Mark Waid celebrates 25 years in the industry

Mark Waid

Creators | Although he almost missed the anniversary, Mark Waid celebrates 25 years as a comics professional by recalling his first day of work at the DC Comics offices: “If you’re wondering what an Associate Editor does – or did in 1987 – I’ll list my job duties those first two days. Ready? Here we go: I erased Green Arrow pages. Eight hours a day for two days.” [MarkWaid.com]

Publishing | DC Comics’ Senior Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne and Vice President of Marketing John Cunningham are pretty upbeat about DC’s most recent graphic novels — with some justification, as a number have made The New York Times graphic books best-seller list. “Batman: Earth One has been a runaway bestseller for us, even better than Superman: Earth One,” Wayne said. “People are familiar with the Superman: Earth One title and we don’t have explain what the new book is about.” [Publishers Weekly]

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What Are You Reading? with Mark Sable

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our guest is Mark Sable, the writer and co-creator of Image’s Graveyard of Empires with Paul Azaceta and the upcoming Duplicate from Kickstart Comics with Andy MacDonald. You can find his work and thoughts at marksable.com and contact him @marksable on the Twitter.

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

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Comics A.M. | Dave Thorne, ‘father of Hawaiian cartooning,’ dies

Dave Thorne

Passings | Dave Thorne, sometimes called the father of Hawaiian cartooning, has died at the age of 82. His most recent strip was Thorney’s Zoo, which ran in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Mark Evanier has a personal appreciation of Thorne and his love of Hawaii. [Honolulu Star-Advertiser]

Creators | Carl Barks once wrote, “Ninety-nine readers out of 100 think Walt Disney writes and draws all those movies and comic books between stints with his hammer and saw building Disneyland,” but for much of his career he was happy to remain anonymous and avoid the hassles that come with fame. Jim Korkis writes the fascinating story of how two fans got through the Disney wall of anonymity — and Barks’ own reticence — to figure out who Barks was and bring him into contact with his admirers. [USA Today]

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What Are You Reading? with Kevin Church

Happy Sunday and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our guest today is Kevin Church, writer of The Rack, Signs and Meanings, the new Monkeybrain series Wander: Olive Hopkins And The Ninth Kingdom and many other comics.

To see what Kevin and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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Comics A.M. | ‘MoCCA is not dead’; Is Kickstarter No. 2 GN publisher?

Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art

Organizations | Following the abrupt closing on Monday of the Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art’s decade-old New York City location, President Ellen S. Abramowitz promises, “MoCCA is not dead. Some reporters assumed we were going to a virtual gallery, but that is not the case. There will be a new physical space.” She tells The Comics Journal that the new space, expected to be announced at the end of the month, will be an improvement over the old one, which occupied 975 square feet on the fourth floor of a SoHo building. [TCJ.com]

Publishing | ICv2 provides more evidence of an increasingly robust direct market with the news that eight comics, driven by Marvel’s Avengers vs. X-Men and DC’s New 52, sold more than 100,000 copies in June, tying the number in November 2011. Those two months had the most titles over 100,000 since January 2008, when nine passed that milestone. In addition, three graphic novels sold more than 10,000 copies in June and and two sold more than 20,000. [ICv2]

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Monkeybrain Comics explodes on Twitter, launches early

Bandette #1

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.

My own private Eisners

Being a judge in the Eisner Awards meant making hard choices. It’s like being an admissions officer at Harvard: You could make a top-notch set of picks, throw them away, and still have a strong field for the second set. With six judges each having a different voice, sometimes a book that one or two of us think is the greatest thing since sliced bread doesn’t make the final cut.

Here’s my short list of comics that, if it were up to me, would have gotten Eisner nominations.

Best Limited Series

One of my favorite series of 2011 was Spontaneous, by Brett Weldele and Joe Harris. It’s a great crypto-mystery about spontaneous human combustion, with a nerdy know-it-all played off against an aggressive reporter. The story has its flaws, but I couldn’t put it down.

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7)

Nina in That Makes Me Mad: We had an unusually strong field of children’s books, even after we split the category into two age groups, but this book was my first choice for a nomination. The writing is sharp and perceptive, and Hilary Knight’s illustrations are amazing. Even the page layouts are awesome. This is a book that speaks directly to children, in a voice they can understand, yet does it with an elegance that adults can appreciate as well.

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Colleen Coover finds more Logan/Freddie Mercury pages

From Matthew J. Rainwater's version

When Colleen Coover posted her version of a weird tryout page featuring Wolverine and Freddie Mercury, she expressed hope that other artists would follow her example. And they have.

Coover’s been curating a small gallery of Wolverine/Mercury pages, and she would love to add more to it. What I like is how the artists already on display have taken to heart the potential that Coover initially saw in the meme. In that first post, she talked about the questions raised by the nonsensical story: What’s Wolverine looking for? Why does Freddie Mercury appear? “I have decided to explore these mysteries by recreating the original story, ” she wrote, and went on to say, “I invite other artists to do the same, by which exercise we may one day come close to the fictional Truth of the matter.”

The artists she found have done that too, not just recreating the page, but also explicitly answering some of those questions. It’s a fun look at not only varying stylistic takes on a single page of art, but also the way different people tell the same story, usually with hilarious results. For instance: I’m dying to spoil Andrew Meyerhoefe’s page for you, but I’ll resist and let you enjoy it for yourself.

Colleen Coover and Wolverine are the champions, my friend

Obsessed with an odd sample page found by Steve Bunche a couple of years ago, Colleen Coover has improved on it in an attempt to understand just what Wolverine is doing and why Freddie Mercury is hanging out in the middle of those woods. You can see both pages in their entirety at Coover’s blog as well as some speculation about what the heck’s going on (spoiler: Rich Ellis wins), but what Coover really hopes will come of this is that other artists will join her in their own reinterpretations of the page.

That’s my hope too. Not that I want to put anyone under pressure.

Comics A.M. | Eisner ballot change; more on March comics sales

Eisner Awards

Awards | The Guy Davis short story “The Phototaker” has been removed from the 2012 Eisner Awards ballot after it was determined to be ineligible. “The ‘Phototaker’ Eisner nomination was a mix up,” Davis wrote on Twitter. ” Jackie Estrada messaged me after I posted asking about the original English version, which came out in Metal Hurlant #9 (2003). So it’s not eligible for the 2012 Eisner nomination and has been removed. Thanks for all the congratulations yesterday, but I’m happy to clear this up and have it removed from the running.” [Eisner Awards]

Publishing | DC Comics’ Senior Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne and Vice President of Marketing John Cunningham respond to March’s direct-market sales estimates, which saw Marvel claim three of the Top 10 spots after a February shutout. “We are pleased that we gained share, and we never expected that we would hold ten out of ten at the top of the chart for ever,” Wayne said. “I think it is better for the business if everybody is firing on all cylinders, that our competitors are doing interesting things, and we are doing interesting things. It keeps everybody on their toes and it keeps enthusiasm in the readership. The retailers remain involved wanting to make sure that they have enough of everything. I think it’s a good thing all around.” [ICv2.com]

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Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin working on secret capes-and-tights comic

Details are super-mysterious, but Colleen Coover shared a couple of costume designs on her blog for a project she’s working on with her husband, Paul Tobin. I’m crossing my fingers for the Adventures of Gingerbread Girl and Bulldog.

Comics A.M. | Michael George denied retrial; DC to close forums

Michael George

Legal | A judge denied a motion for acquittal and a new trial in the case of Michael George, the former comic book store owner and convention organizer convicted of killing his wife in 1990, dismissing the defense’s argument that there was insufficient evidence for conviction. George is serving a life sentence. [Detroit Free Press]

Publishing | DC Comics announced last night it will shut down its message board in early March as part of an overhaul of the publisher’s website that will include Facebook-hosted commenting and integrated Twitter feeds. [The Source]

Creators | About 15 people threw eggs at Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks as he spoke on freedom of speech at the University of Karlstad. Vilks has raised the ire of some Muslims with his cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed. Vilks told the audience, “Insults are part of democratic society. If we begin censoring ourselves, it will mean undermining freedom of speech in the long run. I don’t think that the problem is that artists are too provocative but that we are not provocative enough.” None of the eggs hit the cartoonist, and the protestors were removed from the room. [UPI.com]

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