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Comics A.M. | Amazon backs off Marvel in Hachette dispute

Marvel

Marvel

Retailing | Amazon’s war with Hachette has taken an odd turn: The retail giant has restored discounts and preorders for Marvel (which uses Hachette as its distributor), and the shipping delays are gone, but it seems to have doubled down on Hachette imprint Yen Press. [ICv2]

Retailing | Heidi MacDonald reports on Diamond Comic Distributors’ year-to-date sales figures, and it’s a bit of a mixed bag, with sales of monthly comics down but graphic novels and merchandise up, for a slight uptick in overall sales. Another interesting statistic: The number of individual Diamond accounts (which is generally regarded as a measure of the number of comics shops) is up 1.3 percent for 2014 so far; last year’s increase was 3 percent over the entire year. She also reports on the numbers for this year’s Free Comic Book Day; retailers ordered 4.65 million comics, and most were happy with the way the day went. [Publishers Weekly]

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Comics A.M. | Tunisian court denies cartoonist’s appeal

Jabeur Mejri

Jabeur Mejri

Legal | A Tunisian court denied cartoonist Jabeur Mejri’s appeal of an eight-month sentence on charges of insulting a public official. Mejri was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison in 2012 for drawing cartoons that insulted the Prophet Mohammed, but was pardoned by President Moncef Marzouki earlier this year. Before he was released, however, news leaked that he had also been charged with embezzlement stemming from his time working for the Tunisian railway. Mejri was released from prison in March, but six weeks later he was arrested again, this time on charges of insulting a court official. His support committee said Mejri is being subjected to “judicial harassment” and released a statement saying “It’s clear … that there is a desire not to accept the presidential pardon and to keep Jabeur in prison at all costs, to make him pay dearly for his freedom of expression and deter him from any further attempts.” [Naharnet]

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Comics A.M. | C2E2 sees growth in attendance, floor space

C2E2

C2E2

Conventions | Lance Fensterman, ReedPOP’s global senior vice president, talks about his company’s strategy of focusing on a few big shows, rather than a lot of smaller ones, and gives the numbers for last month’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo: Attendance was about 62,900, up 18 percent from last year, and the show floor grew by 15,000 square feet. Attendees are mostly in the 18-to-35 age group, and the majority are male, although the proportion of women at C2E2 has increased by 6 percent since 2011. Male or female, many of the folks on the floor seem to be “casual consumers” rather than “hardcore fans”: About 50 percent of attendees at New York Comic Con were there for the first time. “Depending on which exhibiting company you’re talking to, they either love it or they’re not sure what to do with it,” Fensterman said. “You’re delivering new readers and new potential consumers. We think it’s cool that you’re getting that fresh perspective, not quite so jaded (been there, done that).” [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | Restricted erotic manga removed from Kindle store

Younger Sister Paradise 2

Younger Sister Paradise 2

Digital comics | Amazon has removed the manga Younger Sister Paradise 2 (Imōto Paradise! 2) from the Japanese Kindle store, two days after the Tokyo Metropolitan Government declared the manga a “harmful publication to minors” because of its “glorification of incestuous acts” and restricted its sale to customers over 18. As a result, beginning Friday, brick-and-mortar bookstores in Tokyo must keep the manga in a separate area for adults only. Whether because of all the attention or because it was unavailable elsewhere, the manga was the top-selling comic in the Japanese Kindle store before Amazon removed it. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | Is the world ready for a cosplay invasion?

Cosplay | The Christian Science Monitor looks at how cosplay is spilling out of comics and sci-fi/fantasy conventions and into “daily life,” such as movie theaters, pubs and public squares: “The spread of cosplay owes a lot to the Internet. Social media sites build buzz around the next big cosplay event. Tumblr and Instagram allow strangers to pass around photos of past work and offer words of encouragement from afar. YouTube videos reveal how to craft foam core into realistic-looking armor and braid hair like an elf.” [The Christian Science Monitor]

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For sale: Charles Schulz’s former home features ‘Peanuts’ murals

Photo courtesy of Lakes Sotheby's International Realty

Photo courtesy of Lakes Sotheby’s International Realty

Minneapolis attorney Ken Abdo grew up with two wall paintings of Charlie Brown and Snoopy, by Charles M. Schulz, in his bedroom. He and his wife Karen raised their four children in the same house, but now, with the kids grown, they’re looking to sell the home once owned by the Peanuts creator. However, there’s a problem: What to do with those one-of-a-kind murals.

“I was sort of personally the shepherd, or the keeper of the art, since I was 6 years old,” Abo tells Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.

The 4,500-square-foot Spanish Mediterranean house, where Schulz from 1955 to 1958, is on the market for the first time in 54 years. The Abos hope to find a way to remove the two wall paintings, perhaps for acquisition by the Charles M. Schulz Museum. The house is listed for $850,000, without the art; with it, you’ll pay another $100,000.

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Comics A.M. | ‘Walking Dead, ‘Saga,’ ‘Titan’ rule bookstores in April

The Walking Dead, Vol. 20

The Walking Dead, Vol. 20

Retailing | While Captain America: The Winter Soldier Ultimate Collection cracked Nielsen BookScan’s Top 20 graphic novels sold in bookstores, making it the first Marvel or DC Comics release since January to do so, the April chart was again dominated by three familiar titles: The Walking Dead, Attack on Titan and Saga, which claimed a combined 13 spots. The horror series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard led the trio with six volumes, followed by Hajime Isayama’s dystopian fantasy with four, and Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ space opera with three. The 36th volume of Masashi Kishimoto’s hit manga Naruto was No. 1 in April. [ICv2.com]

Events | On the eve of the 11th Toronto Comic Arts Festival, The Japan Times looks at both the growing presence of manga, and Dork Shelf talks with festival director Christopher Butcher about its Comics vs. Games 3 showcase. Meanwhile, the National Post is running a series of conversations between artists attending TCAF, beginning with Georgia Webber and Seo Kim, and Réal Godbout and Nick Abadzis. You can read more of its festival coverage here. [Toronto Comic Arts Festival]

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World’s smallest comic is etched onto a human hair

smallest-comic

While minicomics are a fixture of conventions, and increasingly the Eisner Awards, it seems doubtful we’ll encounter microcomics in artists alley anytime soon. Still, cartoonist Claudia Puhlfürst‘s “Juana Knits the Planet” is leading the charge.

The 12-panel comic strip has been etched onto a single human hair using a focused ion beam, ” a very sharp and high-speed jet of matter is produced and directed towards the hair to etch it — similar to a fine laser beam.”

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Comics A.M. | Why WonderCon matters to San Francisco

WonderCon

WonderCon

Conventions | Marking San Francisco’s third year without WonderCon, pop-culture critic Peter Hartlaub relates the feelings of “confusion, withdrawal and anger” experienced by local fans, and explains why city leaders should care whether the convention ever returns from Anaheim. [SFGate]

Creators | Gary ODD Edmund combined two things he loved, comics and “marijuana culture,” to come up with the comic The Bud. While weed may be the news hook in this story, the numbers are interesting as well, as Edmund claims to have made $10,000 last year selling The Bud at comics conventions, where he typically moves 200 to 300 copies per event. He is now at the point where it’s worth his while to drop other projects to make more time for The Bud, and he figures his Bud-related income will at least triple this year. Can’t make it to a comic con? There’s a digital version as well, available via indie publisher CCP Comics. The digital release of The Bud (on 4/20, of course) drew so much traffic it crashed CCP’s website. [AOL Jobs]

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Comics A.M. | Golden Age artist Barbara Hall passes away

Harvey's Black Cat, by then Barbara Hall (from "Pretty in Ink")

Harvey’s Black Cat, by then Barbara Hall (from “Pretty in Ink”)

Passings | Isabelle “Barbara” Fiske Calhoun, who as Barbara Hall was an artist for Harvey Comics during World War II, died Monday at age 94. Calhoun and her first husband, Irving Fiske, left New York in 1946 and founded a commune in Vermont on land they bought with their wedding money. The commune became the Quarry Hill Creative Center and is “Vermont’s oldest alternative and artist’s retreat.” While the obituary mentions Calhoun’s comics career only in passing, Trina Robbins has more detail in Pretty in Ink: She says Calhoun drew the Black Cat, one of the first comic-book superheroines, and then was the artist for the Speed Comics feature, Girl Commandos, an all-woman team of Nazi fighters led by Pat Parker, War Nurse. “She left comics when her husband-to-be persuaded her to give up cartooning and become an oil painter, a gain for the world of fine art but a loss for comics,” Robbins writes. [Burlington Free Press]

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Gordon’s alive: A Flash (and a Ming) for all eras

imageI wonder… is there an equivalent to Glen Weldon’s Superman: The Unauthorized Biography that tracks the 80-year career of Flash Gordon? Only, instead of tracing society’s shifting tastes in authority figures, it instead contextualizes the spirit of athleticism over its eight-decade lifespan.

When Alex Raymond launched the comic strip in 1934, Flash was a polo player. Flash forward (heh heh) to the 1980 movie, and he’s a quarterback for the New York Jets. During the ’90s, the Flash Gordon animated series introduced the character as a skateboarding enthusiast; he’s a track-and-field star in the Syfy series … which isn’t exactly the coolest sport, but an appropriate one in a world that’s become conscious of concussions and other injuries

Dynamite Entertainment’s new Flash Gordon, written by Jeff Parker and illustrated by Evan Shaner and Jordie Bellaire, casts the title character as an extreme sports aficionado. It’s a little out of date: Flash is introduced doing a dangerous bungee jump off a bridge, reminiscent of a similar scene in the Vin Diesel movie xXx (the most extreme spy, dude, way cooler than that lame-o James Bond). Still, it does establish something crucial about Flash: The world is far too tame for his wild, adventurous spirit. Flash gets a slap in the face and a stern, parental warning to stop with his childish garbage (one imagines the frequently bare-chested Alex Raymond Flash would have instead been applauded). Is there a place for him somewhere that isn’t totally lame?

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Another rare ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ original goes up for auction

calvin-and-hobbes-cropped

Another rare original Calvin and Hobbes comic strip by Bill Watterson has been put on the block by Heritage Auctions. Just how rare is it? Only four have been sold through Heritage during its 13 years auctioning comic art — and two of those were in the past couple of years: An original Sunday installment fetched $203,150 in November 2012, and a daily strip went for $65,725 in February 2013.

The current offering, a daily strip dated May 9, 1987, in which Calvin refuses a vegetarian meal and declares himself a “dessertarian,” has faded lettering and panel frames, but is described as otherwise in “Excellent condition.” The current online bid is $16,000, but will likely climb considerably higher before the May 15-17 auction.

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Comics A.M. | ‘Fun Home’ dispute part of larger battle in S.C.

From "Fun Home"

From “Fun Home”

Politics | Framing the controversy as part of a larger political battle between South Carolina’s lawmakers and its public universities, The Washington Post wades into the ongoing saga surrounding the House of Representatives’ vote to reduce funding to two schools after they selected gay-themed books for their summer reading programs. The newspaper uses as its entry point the Monday performances in Charleston of Fun Home, the musical adaptation of the Alison Bechdel graphic novel that was chosen last summer by the College of Charleston, drawing the ire of a South Carolina Christian group and conservative lawmakers. The Post reports that several state legislators suggested they viewed the staging of the musical as “a deliberate provocation,” and will seek to cut even more funding in response. The South Carolina Senate has yet to vote on the state budget, which includes the cuts to the schools.  [The Washington Post]

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Comics A.M. | Carol Corps, and the changing face of fandom

Captain Marvel #1

Captain Marvel #1

Fandom | Rachel Edidin attends a gathering of the Carol Corps, the group of mostly female Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel fans that has built a community around a shared interest. “It is not a formal organization,” says Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick. “There are no rules. People write and ask me all the time, ‘How do I join the Carol Corps?’ You join Carol Corps by saying you are Carol Corps. There is no test. You don’t have to buy anything. You don’t need to sign up anywhere. If you decide you are a part of this community, bam, you are. The other part of that is that if you decide you are a part of this community, you will be embraced and welcome.” [Wired]

Piracy | The Japanese government will consider several measures to fight online piracy of anime and manga in the next few months, while publishers are taking a if-you-can’t-beat-’em-join-’em approach by launching two free digital manga services, ComicWalker and Manga Box, to lure readers away from bootleg scanlation sites. [The Japan News]

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Webcomics are for the children

Camp WheedonwantchaThe comic strip/webcomic documentary Stripped opens with an idyllic scene straight out of the Hallmark Channel. A little girl runs into the kitchen and sits on her father’s lap; he opens a newspaper, and together, they flip to the Sunday funnies, a well-remembered moment of childhood made possible by the magic of comic strips. It’s a scene that rings true, because many viewers have had similar experiences. Maybe you weren’t sitting on your father’s lap; maybe you just ripped through the paper, trying to separate the cartoons from the classifieds. Anything to get at those comic strips.

It’s a scene that may accidentally have put a chink into the “webcomics are the future of the newspaper comic strip” argument.

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