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Comics A.M.| Inaugural Indiana Comic Con draws 15,000

Indiana Comic Con poster by Joelle Jones

Indiana Comic Con poster by Joelle Jones

Conventions | The inaugural Indiana Comic Con, held over the weekend at the Indianapolis Convention Center, attracted nearly 15,000 attendees, and it sold out on Saturday. Guests included comics creators Joe Eisma, Steve Englehart, Geof Isherwood, Joelle Jones, Don Kramer, Cary Nord and George Perez, and actors Evan Peters, Caity Lotz, Maisie Williams and Daniel Cudmore. [WRTV]

Comics sales | Comics sales in the direct market were down in February for the second time in two months, according to Diamond Comic Distributors. John Jackson Miller runs the numbers: Sales of comics and graphic novels combined are down 10.39 percent from February 2013 in terms of dollars, 14.77 percent in units. Because January sales were also anemic, year-to-date sales are down as well. Still, Miller notes, total dollars are up 3 percent from February 2012. February is traditionally a low month for comic sales, and the number of releases is the lowest in months, with just 692 new products (comics, graphic novels and magazines) being shipped last month. [Comichron]

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From Morbius to Mordo: Why does ‘mor’ sound so sinister?

morbius

What is it about the syllable “mor” that denotes villainy?

After all, at Marvel there’s Baron Mordo, the longtime enemy of Doctor Strange; Morg, the remorselss herald of Galactus; and Morbius, who lately is more misunderstood than evil. And DC Comics boasts Mordru the Merciless, the, well, merciless Lord of Chaos; Morgaine le Fey, the diabolical sorceress; Mordecai Smyt and Morax, archfiend and fiend of Hell, respectively. Oh! Plus, Morgan Edge. And those are only a handful of notables from comic books.

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Jamie Hewlett creates new art for British Library comics exhibit

BL_Comics_POSTER_cropped

The British Library has debuted new art by Jamie Hewlett created for “Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the U.K.,” the largest comics exhibition to date in the United Kingdom.

Running from May 2 to Aug. 14, “Comics Unmasked” traces the history of British comic books, from the 19th century to the present, exploring how they’ve addressed such subjects as violence, sexuality and drugs while breaking boundaries.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Checking up on Earth-August

Now I want to see the New 52 Congorilla

Now I want to see the New 52 Congorilla

Although the five-years-later setup of Futures End won’t be here until May, it got me thinking about a not-so-new New 52. The current comics take place some five years after Superman and company debuted — plus, apparently, a year for the face-free Joker to recuperate — so if you add five more years, it’s like double the amount of history! Well, double the amount of history that “matters,” I guess.

As I have been pretty critical of the present timeline, I’ll be curious to see how Futures End treats those additional five years. I suspect that, for the most part, they’ll be five years of “filler,” in the sense that mostly bad, Futures End-specific things happened during that time to bring DC-Earth to whatever sorry state we see in FE #1. I’ve heard that when all the New 52 books jump ahead five years (in September, naturally), they’ll reflect where their creative teams would like to take the characters in five years — but those will only be single issues, as opposed to the year-long weekly installments of Futures End. Besides, my bitter, resentful impulses remind me that it might well have been simpler just to start off with a 10-year timeline that would only have tweaked the old pre-relaunch status quo, not thrown out huge chunks of it.

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Rethinking covers: the variants and the gimmicks

Wonder Woman #31 variant cover by Mike Allred

Wonder Woman #31 variant cover by Mike Allred

Remember when comic books had only one cover each, and they didn’t glow in the dark or feature moving images? When the cover was just a good-looking illustration that made you curious about the story inside? And it was by the artist who actually drew that story?

Yeah, me neither.

Like it or not, we live in the age of specialized covers, whether in the form of variants or, for lack of a better (and less-derisive) term, gimmicks. I’ve mostly made peace with that, but the near-simultaneous announcements of Valiant bringing back chromium covers and DC doing a second round of lenticular covers recently stirred it all up again.

I know I’m being kind of silly about it. I mean, who cares? If people want them, they should have them. Obviously they help to increase sales, otherwise publishers wouldn’t go through the trouble. But is there more to it?

The thing is that variant covers have never been more prevalent. People used to make fun of publishers like Avatar Press, which would flood each release with boatloads of different covers for the same story. It turns out the company was ahead of its time. That’s not always a good thing, of course. Variant covers can cause confusion with new or more casual readers who may not remember the issue number they last bought but can recall what was on the cover.

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Dark Horse announces Starting Points initiative

STPTS LOGO FNLResponding to retailer feedback, Dark Horse has announced Starting Points, a program designed to attract new or lapsed readers to its monthly series.

Beginning in June with Abe Sapien #13 and Captain Midnight #12, the publisher will highlight issues of ongoing titles that serve as good introduction for new readers. Starting Points issues will be marked with the above logo in Diamond Comic Distributors’ Previews catalog and feature order incentives and promotional support.

In short, it’s a lot like Marvel’s Point One initiative, only more geared toward retailers and without the awkward issue numbering.

Abe Sapien #13, by Mike Mignola, Scott Allie and Sebastián Fiumara, finds Hellboy’s one-time partner encountering a crazed healer and a frog possessed teen, while Captain Midnight #12, by Joshua Williamson and Fernando Dagnino, begins a new arc.

BOOM! Studios inks first-look deal with Cartoon Network

steven universeBOOM! Studios, which already releases comics based on Adventure Time and Regular Show, has signed a deal with Cartoon Network that gives the publisher to option the cable channel’s original comedies.

The agreement kicks off in August with Steven Universe, based on the new animated comedy by Rebecca Sugar (Adventure Time) about a boy named Steven and a team of magical Guardians of the Universe. BOOM! teased the comic in October, ahead of the show’s November premiere, with a sneak peek in the Adventure Time 2013 Spoooktacular.

BOOM! began its partnership in February 2012 with the debut, under the KaBOOM! imprint, of Adventure Time, which has transformed into a hit franchise with spinoff limited series and original graphic novels.

“Our partners at Cartoon Network have a stellar lineup of new shows that we are looking forward to publish as equally stellar all-ages comics, following the tremendous success of Adventure Time and Regular Show,” BOOM! Studios CEO Ross Richie said in a statement. “Steven Universe has that same edginess that will resonate with readers — and that’s just the beginning.”


Grumpy Old Fan | Because every day is like Batman’s birthday

World's Greatest Chiropractor

World’s Greatest Chiropractor

Not that I’d forgotten, but CSBG’s new 75 Greatest Batman Covers poll was just the latest reminder that this is Batman’s 75th anniversary year. According to Mike’s Amazing World of DC Comics, Detective Comics (Vol. 1) #27 hit newsstands on or about April 18, 1939, which means the celebrations don’t have to start right away.

Still, so far Batman’s 75th seems to be a rather low-key affair, at least as compared to Superman’s 75th last year. That anniversary included a special logo, a new movie, a few new ongoing series, a couple of celebratory collections (including one for Lois Lane, who shares the anniversary) and an animated tribute. Batman’s already gotten a giant-sized Detective (Vol. 2) #27, and the final Arkham Asylum video game is coming out. Additionally, before 2014 ends, we’ll probably see Ben Affleck in the new Batsuit, plus whatever Batman Eternal has in store. Beyond that, however, it seems like business as usual for the Dark Knight.

Fortunately, business has been pretty good for a while now, such that slapping an anniversary tag on the various Bat-offerings almost seems superfluous. By this point Batman practically is eternal — but what does that really mean?

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Malaysian government bans Ultraman comic

ultraman

Malaysia’s Home Ministry has banned the release of Ultraman the Ultra Power, claiming the comic book contains elements detrimental to public order.

While it’s unclear what specific content in the Maylay edition alarmed the ministry, The Malay Mail reports the decision has been met with widespread mockery online. One government official even questioned the move, with Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin tweeting, “What is wrong with UItraman?”

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Shelf space is the final frontier in this week’s Shelf Porn

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Living in Northern California I can relate to the “I need more space” dilemma. When comic and video game creator Harold Sipe moved from Brooklyn to North Carolina, he found himself with a lot more room to display his collection. In today’s edition of Shelf Porn, Harold shares his collection of comics, action figures and more, with a heavy dose of Star Trek, Star Wars and spinner racks.

If you’d like to share your collection here on Robot 6, you can find details on how to do that at the end of the post.

And now let’s hear from Harold:

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Grumpy Old Fan | Form, function and ‘Forever Evil’

Buy this comic or we'll shoot this tycoon

Buy this comic or we’ll shoot this tycoon

Readers of superhero comics have long debated the merits of “decompression” and “waiting for the trade.” You can either read a serialized story as it comes out, or you can wait until it’s collected. With two issues to go, it looks like Forever Evil wants it both ways. It is structured for the Wednesday crowd but written for the trade; and so far, the result is a grim, vignette-driven affair. Writer Geoff Johns and artists David Finch and Ivan Reis (and their various collaborators) have set up an apocalyptic scenario and teased a handful of elements pointing toward its resolution; but they haven’t otherwise done much, issue to issue, to move the story closer to that resolution. Indeed, the deeper I get into Forever Evil, the more I suspect that it — like its prologue, “Trinity War” — may be only the latest chapter in an ever-expanding saga.

By itself that would be unsatisfying enough. However, Forever Evil was supposed to show off DC’s shared universe (New 52 edition). To be fair, its Justice League crossover issues have presented New 52 versions of Plastic Man, the Doom Patrol and the Metal Men, and alluded to past battles with old-school villains like Ultivac and the Construct. Still, except for the Metal Men, none seems directly related to FE’s eventual outcome; and each seems intended instead as an Easter egg or the seed of a future series. Indeed, while the “Blight” crossover has shown what happened to the magic-based superheroes, FE itself hasn’t delved too far into the whereabouts of DC-Earth’s non-Leaguer super-folk. For those of us wanting each issue to go somewhere new, or at least somewhere different, month in and month out Forever Evil has felt fairly repetitive. Moreover, in sidelining the Justice League itself, it’s removed a potentially productive narrative thread.

Inasmuch as these choices relate to the changing comics marketplace, Forever Evil could be one of the last big events structured this way, or it could be the shape of things to come.

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Finalists announced for 2013 Bram Stoker Awards

fatale-v3The Horror Writers Association has announced the final ballot for the 2013 Bram Stoker Awards, which recognize “superior achievement” in horror writing. The graphic novel nominees are:

  • Fatale, Vol. 3: West of Hell, by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Dave Stewart and Bettie Breitweiser (Image Comics)
  • Alabaster: Wolves, by Caitlin R. Kiernan, Steve Lieber and Rachelle Rosenberg (Dark Horse)
  • Witch Doctor, Vol. 2: Mal Practice, by Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner (Image Comics)
  • Sin Titulo, by Cameron Stewart (Dark Horse)
  • Colder, by Paul Tobin and Juan Ferreyra (Dark Horse)

Voting is open for eligible HWA members through March 31. The winners will be presented May 10 during a ceremony held at the World Horror Convention in Portland, Oregon.

The graphic novel award was first presented in 2012, although there was a best illustrated narrative category from 1998 to 2004. Previous graphic novel winners are: Neonomicon, by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows; and Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times, by Rocky Wood, Lisa Morton and Greg Chapman.

Grumpy Old Fan | Old growth from DC in May

Take a good look

Take a good look

Not a lot in DC Comics’ May solicitations really strikes me as “new.” That’s due partly to a lot of the new books being set to launch a month earlier. Generally, the superhero line continues to contract, while The New 52 — Futures End kicks off, the New 52 version of Doomsday keeps rampaging through the Superman titles, and Batman Eternal rolls on. Nevertheless, I do have the irrational sense that the line is gearing up for something even more significant, and will be adding new series over the next few months.

Still, if we’re to get excited about the regular fare, we may have to read between the solicitations’ lines — so let’s get on with it, shall we?

* * *

A NEW 52 FOR THE NEW 52

And here it is, Futures End. Last year I wrote the New 52 needed its own version of 52, the year-long miniseries that spanned time and space to focus on the lesser lights of the superhero line. I talked about exploring the geography of the still-new shared universe, doing character studies, and essentially giving the reader a good sense of place and/or connection.

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Caliber Comics announces its return

caliber logoCaliber Comics, which in the 1990s published the debut works of such creators as Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Guy Davis and Michael Allred, is plotting its return within the next few months, with founder Gary Reed again at the helm.

Now a division of Caliber Entertainment, a company formed by Reed and Eagle One Media President Eric Reichert, the revived Caliber will focus primarily on graphic novels and collections of previously released material. Transfuzion Publishing, which Reed launched in 2007 with Rafael Neives, will become a graphic novel imprint of Caliber.

“As far as new monthly comics go, that is a massive undertaking that we’re not going to tackle immediately,” Reed said in a statement. “We will likely look to partner up with an established company on the comic ‘floppies’ because in today’s market, you can’t just make it unless you have enough awareness in the comics market.”

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Best of 7 | Batman, Cyclops, ‘The Fuse’ and more

bestof7-feb16

Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out.

I should add that this post contains SPOILERS for Batman #28 and All-New X-Men #23, so read at your own risk. Now let’s get to it …

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