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What Are You Reading?

Mysterius the Unfathomable

Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at the comics and other stuff we’ve been enjoying lately. Our special guests this week are Aaron Alexovich (Invader Zim, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Serenity Rose, Fables) and Drew Rausch (Sullengrey, The Dark Goodbye, Cthulhu Tales), the creative team behind the horror/comedy comic Eldritch!

To see what Aaron, Drew and the Robot 6 crew are reading, click below …

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Make mine MoCCA: Publishers

MoCCA Fest 2011 is this coming Saturday and Sunday, April 9 and 10, and as always, the show is bulging with new artists and established creators showing off their latest, most experimental, projects. I’m going to round up of some of the announcements that have come our way, starting with those from publishers.

Fantagraphics plans to have creators signing at their booth pretty much the whole time, with a roster that includes Kim Dietch, Peter Bagge, Dash Shaw, Michael Kupperman, Gahan Wilson, and others too numerous to mention—check out the full list at their blog. Their people are also going to be involved in a ton of panels, and with a four-table block (J1, J2, K1, K2), they should be hard to miss.

Abrams will have their usual crowd of A-list creators at their booth: Jerry Robinson, Michael Uslan, Chip Kidd, Al Jaffee, and Craig Yoe. Jaffee will receive the 2011 Klein Award for volunteer of the year, and Uslan and Robinson will be on the panel Batman, the Joker and Beyond on Sunday.

Top Shelf will be debuting two new books, Liar’s Kiss by Eric Skillman and Jhomar Soriano, and Night Animals, by Brecht Evens. Both Skillman and Evens will be there to show off their new books. Jess Fink will also be in attendance, although her Chester 5000 isn’t due out until May.

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Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Joe the Barbarian #8

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday 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 what we call our “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Chris Arrant


This week’s a big week for me, so with only $15 I’d have to leave a lot of things back and make some hard choices. My five under $15 would start with Joe The Barbarian #8 (DC/Vertigo, $3.99) by Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy. I’m a big fan of both guys, but I have to admit the story went over my head the same way The Filth did in serialization. Be that as it may, I’ve kept buying the issues just to amaze myself with Murphy’s art. Now that the complete series is out, I’ll re-read it all in one sitting and hope for the best. Second would be the fourth issue of Incognito: Bad Influences (Marvel/Icon, $3.50) because, well, Brubaker and Phillips can do no wrong. After that I’d get Secret Warriors #25 (Marvel, $3.99) because Hickman’s writing here plays up to all the things I like — espionage, secrets, and overly-complicated story arcs. Over on the DC side I would pick up Brightest Day #21 (DC, $2.99). This series has ebbed and flowed for me, depending on which story arcs are brought to the fore in each issue… but I’m excited to see what happens and that’s what it should be about, right? My last pick is a cheat — I only have some change left, but thankfully the Fear Itself Sketchbook (Marvel) coming out is a free promotional item. I’ll take Stuart Immonen sketches any day!

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Robot Reviews: The Great Treasury of Christmas Comic Book Stories

The Great Treasury of Christmas Comic Book Stories
Edited by Craig Yoe
IDW, 176 pages, $34.99

When I was a kid, the word “treasury” promised delights beyond measure, and Christmas was the time when treasuries—of comics, fairy tales, Christmas stories, and other delights—showed up under the tree.

Craig Yoe’s The Great Treasury of Christmas Comic Book Stories is a throwback to those days when a big, fat, colorful book was the centerpiece of the Christmas swag. It is very much a baby-boomer book, chock full of colorful stories from the 1940s and 1950s, but most of the material has aged pretty well and there are some solid classics in there. Of course there are some clinkers, too, but that’s the way of anthologies.

Most notable among the good stuff are several stories by Walt Kelly. His Santa tales are a far cry from Pogo, with a massive, good-natured Santa surrounded by cherubic elves, while his winsome animal stories are more familiar but all sweetness and no bite. The most imaginative of his stories is “The Great Three-Flavored Blizzard,” a classic fairy-tale type story in which weather problems threaten Christmas (no snow, no sleigh) until an elf and the Easter Bunny solve the problem by using ice cream for snow.

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Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Bone: Tall Tales

Bone: Tall Tales

Welcome once again to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy based on certain spending limits — $15, $30 to spend and if we had extra money to spend on what we call the “Splurge” item.

So join Brigid Alverson, Chris Mautner and me as we run down what we’d buy this week, and check out Diamond’s release list to play along in our comments section.

Chris Mautner

If I had $15:

This one’s easy, as Wednesday sees the arrival of Jeff Smith’s latest Bone-related project, Tall Tales ($10.99 paperback, $22.99 hardcover — I’m obviously going for the paperback here). My daughter has become obsessed with Bone — to the point where she’s started making her own Bone-related comics (complete with theme music) — and is eager to pick up the latest volume, even if it does mostly collect material she and I have read before (namely the Stupid, Stupid Rat Tails series). I’ll probably pick it up on the sly this week and give it to her for for her birthday next month.

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ALA: Crappy pictures of awesome comics

Here's the swag shot from ALA 2010

Here's the swag shot from ALA 2010

OK, I’m not going to be winning any photography awards anytime soon, but I picked up a lot of interesting comics at the American Library Association midsummer meeting, and I wanted to write about them while they were still fresh.

Hit the jump for details.

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Talking Comics with Tim: Colleen Coover

Colleen Coover's Hercules the Olympian Babysitter

Coover's Hercules the Olympian Babysitter

In 2004 I was fortunate enough to interview Colleen Coover–during her Small Favors days/on the eve of the creation of her and husband Paul Tobin’s all-ages Banana Sunday. I enjoyed her art then, but never hoped for how effectively Marvel would tap her fantastic style for many of its books and characters.  Much to my delight, it seems like Coover’s reputation and fanbase is growing larger every day. Last week saw the release of Girl Comics No. 2, which featured a two-page opening piece by Coover as well as a Shamrock eight-page adventure drawn by her (and written by Kathryn Immonen). We briefly discussed it, as well as her other current Marvel work (such as the Hercules back-up tale in Thor and the Warriors Four)  for this brief email interview. I look forward to down the road when Coover flexes her “writer muscles” (as she calls them).

Tim O’Shea: Marvel’s keeping you busy at present. How did the Hercules the Olympian Babysitter story land on your table?

Colleen Coover: The book’s editor Jordan White asked me to come up with a Power Pack backup story for a four-issue mini series. I was flipping through Bullfinch’s Mythology one evening, and I came up with the Hercules story when I woke up the next morning. At the time I didn’t know that the Alex Zalben’s main story was a team-up with Thor, titled Thor & The Warriors Four, so it was a happy coincidence that I used one of Marvel’s other mythological characters!

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Robot reviews: The Great Anti-War Cartoons

The Great Anti-War Cartoons

The Great Anti-War Cartoons

The Great Anti-War Cartoons
Edited by Craig Yoe
Fantagraphics, 192 pages, $24.99

The title says it all really. It’s a collection of editorial cartoons and the occasional gag cartoon with a specific focus on the futility of war. The book is subdivided into sections like “The Brass” and “Famine” to perhaps give the book a bit of structure. While there is the occasional modern contribution or art from before 1850, most of the work in the book seems to focus on the late 19th to mid-20th century, with a decided emphasis on the World War I era, which makes sense given the stunning horror of that war and the prominence of newspapers and other print media at the time.

By and large, the cartoons collected here offer little in the way of visual surprise — skeletons, fat cats with diamond pins and the Roman god Mars abound. Only occasionally do you really come across a really shocking image, like Louis Raemaekers’ “Barbed Wire” or John Sloane’s “The History of Ignorance Obeying Orders.” Most of the cartoons offer the same simplistic truisms about how bad and evil war is without really doing more than scratching the surface. Only humorists like George Booth and Gerald Scarfe seem to offer anything beyond the basic “war is hell” trope.

What the book does offer, however, is a feast of great early 20th century illustration. There are a few recognizable names here, like Winsor McCay and Art Young, but a number of great discoveries as well, like Daniel Fitzpatrick and Luther Bradley. While their ideas may involve resurrecting the same tired metaphors again and again, their craftsmanship, linework and sense of design and composition is often striking, and the best reason I can think of for buying this book.

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