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Comics A.M. | Thrillbent launches new iPad app

Thrillbent

Thrillbent

Digital comics | The digital comics publisher Thrillbent has launched its own iPad app, which allows users to read Thrillbent comics and also load in their own comics in PDF, CBR and CBZ formats via Dropbox. [iTunes]

Publishing | Diamond Comic Distributors is dropping the price of its monthly Previews catalog from $4.50 to $3.99 with the January issue (in stores Dec. 24). That, as the company notes, is “the average price of a standard monthly comic book.” [PreviewsWorld]

Publishing | Dark Horse plans to publish the historical graphic novel Nanjing: The Burning City, by Ethan Young (Tails). [The Beat]

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Turning viewers into readers

DC-readingIn case you haven’t noticed, people like watching television shows and movies based on comic books.

This fall has been particularly exceptional television adaptations: The Walking Dead season premiere pulled in more than 17 million viewers, while more than 8 million watched the first episode Gotham, making it Fox’s best fall drama debut in 14 years. More than 6 million raced to see The Flash pilot, giving The CW its highest ratings ever. About 5 million are regularly tuning in for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and nearly 3 million for the third season of Arrow.

It’s not limited to live-action series, either: 2 million people watch Teen Titans Go!, and more than 1 million tune in to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Nickelodeon.

On the big screen, all four feature films starring Marvel characters — X-Men: Days of Future Past, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 — each grossed more than $700 million each worldwide. So far, comic book movies have generated more than $3.8 billion dollars this year. While it’s unknown how many of those dollars are from repeat viewings, that’s still a lot of people.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Firestorm, Cyborg and corporate synergy

Science bros

Science bros

We’re just now into the back half of October and it’s already been a busy month for DC Comics’ television and movie adaptations. Gotham got under way, The Flash debuted and Arrow has returned, with Constantine on deck. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. announced a massive slate of Justice League-related movies, stretching from 2016’s Batman v Superman to 2020’s Cyborg.

However, the adaptation pipeline has the potential to flow in two directions. Between Caitlin Snow’s potential Killer Frost, the second episode’s Multiplex and the promise of both Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein, the new Flash show seems pretty intent on bringing in a good bit of Firestorm lore. If DC executives hadn’t already been thinking about yet another Firestorm comic revival, The Flash’s immediate success may well encourage them to. Similarly, of all the movies Warner Bros. apparently intends to make over the next six years, the only one without a solid comics presence is Cyborg.

Therefore, today we’ll look at these two creations of the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, to see what DC might do with their four-color futures.

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What big project is Mark Millar teasing?

millar-teaser-cropped

Mark Millar is teasing a 10-issue series that has some fans guessing could be his first DC Comics work since 2003’s Superman: Red Son.

Posting a page of artwork this morning on his message board, the writer asked members to guess the artist, the project and which “well-known superheroes” are shown, promising, “All will be revealed next week.” “You will be SURPRISED,” he added.

Clearly enjoying the game, Millar was quick to offer four clues:

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Stan Lee calls for ‘raw realism’ in comics (aka bathroom breaks)

stan-lee-realism

With the birth of the Marvel Universe more than five decades ago, Stan Lee helped create real heroes with real problems. However, now he’s beginning to think Marvel’s comic books aren’t realistic enough.

“I wonder why, in any story, we’ve never shown that a hero or heroine has to go to the bathroom?” the legendary writer says in the latest installment of “Stan’s Rants,” appropriately titled “Superhero Potty Talk.” “To be terribly realist, wouldn’t it be something: You have a fight scene, and the hero is fighting the villain, and suddenly he says, ‘Hey, hold it a minute, please. Can we finish this later? I just have to go!'”

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Quote of the Day | Kurt Busiek on writing ‘believable women’

Kurt-Busiek“I’ve never been asked how to write believable male characters. I have been asked how to write believable female characters, as if they’re alien beings or something.

‘How do I write believable women?’ from male writers, is essentially asking how to write characters that are different from you. But all characters are different from you, or should be, unless they’re you. Characters are individuals, not types. If you’re writing them as types, you’re doing it wrong.

All characters are like you in some ways, and not like you in others. How do you write the parts that aren’t like you? Same as you do with any character. You have eyes, ears and a brain. You write from observation, experience, research and analysis.

If you’re writing a woman, you’re not writing a ‘women.’ Write her. That character, that individual. A person, not a category.”

– Kurt Busiek, writing in response to the oft-asked question of “writing believable female characters” posed to comics writers

Comics A.M. | A peek behind the scenes of New York Comic Con

New York Comic Con

New York Comic Con

Conventions | ReedPOP Senior Vice President Lance Fensterman talks about how New York Comic Con reached 151,000 attendees this year, what went well, what could have gone better, and what he learned for next time. The new badges and check in/check out system, introduced last year, let producers know exactly how long people stayed at the show, and that turned into a nice surprise for two attendees: “There was a couple [last year] who literally spent every minute that was possible at New York Comic Con for three and a half days. We reached out to them and did something special for them—gave them a bunch of free stuff and free tickets because they were at the show longer than anyone who wasn’t paid to be at the show.” [ICv2]

Political cartoons | Egyptian cartoonists Mohamed Anwar and Andeel discuss the difficulty of critiquing Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who doesn’t tolerate dissent; Anwar is a cartoonist for a mainstream newspaper and pulls some punches as the tradeoff for reaching a wide audience, while Andeel has moved over to the alternative press, where he can speak more freely. [The Guardian]

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Shelf Porn | A brother ‘spawns’ a love for comics

SAMSUNG

Hello and welcome to Shelf Porn, our weekly visit into the home of a fan. Today’s shelves comes from Brett Jones, who credits his brother with introducing him to Spawn and comics. Check out his collection of comics, original art, action figures and more below.

If you’d like to see your collection featured here, you can find instructions at the end of this post.

And now here’s Brett …

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Grumpy Old Fan | Balancing out the New 52, Part 2

Really, isn't everything fifty-fifty? Either it happens or it doesn't

Really, isn’t everything fifty-fifty? Either it happens or it doesn’t

Last week I laid out a lot of numbers and background on the distribution of character-oriented franchises in the New 52. (Along the way I got confused about the New 52 version of G.I. Combat; it was canceled after Issue 7, but its zero issue brought its total to eight.)

Accordingly, this week discusses whether the New 52 needs to get back up to its eponymous number of titles, or whether a smaller stable of ongoing series is a more sustainable environment. We’ll get into some other concerns as well, but the overarching question — as DC transforms its biggest franchise, the Bat-books — involves how the publisher chooses to allocate its resources.

(Because I forgot to do it directly last week, I want to acknowledge my debt to Dave Carter, who started me thinking about all this when he charted New 52 longevity in January and who, providentially, has just started listing DC rosters of Augusts past.)

* * *

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Nate Simpson resurfaces with video game, ‘Nonplayer’ update

photo-main

Cartoonist Nate Simpson burst into comics in 2011 with his Image Comics series Nonplayer. He won the prestigious Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award just three months later, sold the film rights to he comic, and then unfortunately broke is collarbone. Now, three years later, he’s back — but not how you might think.

Simpson, who resumed his career in video games, announced on his blog that he created a new game for Uber Entertainment called Human Resources, on which he’s serving as art director.

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NYCC | Here’s your chance to see $3.2 million ‘Action Comics’ #1

action1If you’ve ever wanted to lay eyes — but not hands! — on the world’s most expensive comic book, here’s your chance.

The owners of Metropolis Collectibles and ComicConnect, who in August paid a record $3.2 million for a pristine copy of Action Comics #1, will display “the Holy Grail of comic books” on Thursday at their New York Comic Con booth (#2630). Alas it’s only on Thursday.

The first comic to fetch more than $3 million at auction, the issue is one of just two copies of 1938’s Action Comics #1 — featuring the first appearance of Superman — to be graded 9.0 by the Certified Guaranty Company (the other is the comic once owned by actor Nicolas Cage, which sold in 2011 for a then-record $2.16 million; however, its pages aren’t considered “pristine”). Only about 30 unrestored copies of Action Comics #1 are thought to exist.

This copy was acquired several years ago in a private sale by Darren Adams of Pristine Comics in Federal Way, Washington, and stored a temperature-controlled vault. He said the original owner bought the comic  from a newsstand in 1938, and then kept in a cedar box for about four decades until a local dealer in West Virginia purchased it in an estate sale. The issue then passed to a third person, who held onto it for 30 years. Adams said he turned down an offer of $3 million, and instead opted to sell the comic in a highly publicized eBay auction.

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The Fifth Color | Make My Media Marvel

Oh how far our Agent Coulson has come...

Oh how far our Agent Coulson has come …

Confession time: I haven’t seen the Season 2 premiere of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. yet. Don’t get me wrong, I want to, but things have been busy here, and when I do tune in (thanks, Hulu Plus!) I want to give it my full attention. TV has become very serious in recent years, and the best stuff tends to require the viewer to invest some brain power into the shows.

It’s a good thing, but it can get a little exhausting. And if you’re a Marvel fan, there’s a lot to keep track of in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Characters, locations, devices and plotlines might trigger some stored bit of trivia in your brain and lead to a different appreciation for the approach.

Here at The Fifth Color, I try to keep abreast of all the Marvel comics news I can, and it’s requiring me to track more and more movie rumors and casting decisions — which is weird because The Fifth Color began as a way to relate to comics and how we readers view the stories. But comics are becoming more than just you and the pages in your hand; there’s a now a strong media influence on how we see comics. Even something as simple as a mobile game can draw you into a comic shop and change how you see the books on the shelves. No joke, I had a customer show me a comic cover he had unlocked on a Marvel mobile game and ask me if we had that book in stock. He wanted to find out what it was about. That’s good marketing.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Balancing out the New 52, Part 1

Larfleeze, not beloved among the franchisees

Larfleeze, not beloved among the franchisees

Note: This week’s post, and probably next week’s, get pretty number-heavy. Also, this week’s post contains a lot of history and background data. I have tried to make it all entertaining, but consider yourselves warned. Either way, there’s still the Futures Index.

Starting this week, the Batman line gets a makeover. Gotham Academy, from writers Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher and artist Karl Kerschl, is a delightfully spry addition to the Bat-landscape. Amid a franchise dominated (not unreasonably) by stylized, unflinching urban avenging, GA’s unique perspective is both welcome and necessary. Waiting in the wings are new Batgirl and Catwoman creative teams, as well as new titles Arkham Manor and Gotham After Midnight. (The three new books apparently take the places of Batman: The Dark Knight, Batwing and Birds of Prey.)

All look promising, and each offers a new look at a seldom-seen aspect of the Batman mythology. Moreover, it’s vitally important for DC to reach out to a diverse audience, particularly one that may have felt underappreciated over the past few years.

However, all this innovation comes at a time when the in-name-only New 52 has been stuck for a while at around 40-odd series. Only 21 of the original 52 ongoings are still being published, although books like Teen Titans, Suicide Squad and Deathstroke have been relaunched with new volumes. Similarly, we might view Grayson and Justice League United as continuations of Nightwing and the New-52 version of Justice League of America.

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Stan Lee talks censorship in Banned Books Week video

stan-lee-banned-books

As Banned Books Week winds down, the American Library Association has released a video of Stan Lee addressing literacy and attempts to ban comic books.

“There have been times when people tried to ban comics, they felt that they stifled a child’s imagination because, why should a child see pictures of what he or she is reading about,” he says. “But my answer to that always was the same: Why would anybody go to see a Shakespeare play, because you’re seeing the characters on the stage? Maybe there should be no plays; maybe we should just have to read the script. Maybe there should be no movies, there should be no television shows, there should be no radio shows — just read the script. Obviously, that’s ridiculous. Reading is the basis for all these other things.”

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Grumpy Old Fan | ‘Doomed’ ends, bustin’ out all over

Girl with kaleidoscope eyes

Girl with kaleidoscope eyes

The sprawling intertitle crossover “Doomed” wrapped up this week with the release of Superman: Doomed #2. It’s a 40-page installment produced by writers Greg Pak and Charles Soule and artists Ken Lashley, Szymon Kudranski, Cory Smith, Dave Bullock, Jack Herbert, Ian Churchill, Aaron Kuder Vicente Cifuentes, and Norm Rapmund (assisted ably by colorist Wil Quintana and letterer Taylor Esposito). However, it’s getting some attention due to the final page.

Yes, “Doomed” began as a sequel to an as-yet-unseen event — the New 52 version of the monster’s first deadly battle with Superman — but it’s ended, like many a crossover before it, as a tease for  the next big thing. Moreover, it’s joined by the only Futures End special one-shot without its own series (yet); namely, Futures End: Booster Gold.

Accordingly, today’s all about how everything might start to make sense, and how it doesn’t quite make sense for DC to go that way.

SPOILERS FOLLOW for the finale of “Doomed” and for Booster Gold.

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