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Quote of the day #2 | How Daniel Clowes got the Ghost World girls right

I learned to blend in to the wallpaper so I was barely there. I found myself very often in the company of girls who were talking very freely and would say, ‘Oh, I forgot he was there!’ So I felt like I had this inner sense that they were closer to me and my friends than I could ever imagine.

Ghost World author Daniel Clowes, responding to an audience question on how he captured the voices of 16-year-old girls so well in his landmark graphic novel. Being invisible to the opposite sex has its benefits after all.

For more from Clowes and his fellow alternative comics titan Adrian Tomine, check out CBR’s report on the pair’s APE panel, from writer Karl Kiely.


Comics A.M. | Persepolis airing sparks protests in Tunisia

Persepolis

Crime | About 50 protestors were arrested in Tunisia for an attempted arson attack on the offices of Nessma TV after it screened Persepolis, the animated adaptation of Marjane Satrapi’s celebrated autobiographical graphic novel. The protesters claimed the animated movie offends Islam. All political parties in Tunisia, including the country’s main Islamic party Al-Nahada, have condemned the attack and expressed their solidarity for freedom of the press. [Variety]

Digital comics | Warren Ellis looks at the current options and sees webcomics as a broadcast, out there for free and bringing in new readers through notifications, links and solidarity, whereas digital comics services like comiXology (or even Marvel’s subscription) service are closed systems, more like a shop with comics on the shelves. That makes a difference in building an audience and also in the pacing of the comics, because webcomics can better accommodate the more decompressed storytelling that Ellis prefers. Lots of interesting nuggets among the ramblings. [Warren Ellis]

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Comics A.M. | Alibi witnesses testify in Michael George trial

Legal

Legal | Defense testimony began in the Michael George trial  Monday after the judge denied a motion by the defense to order an acquittal. George’s daughter Tracie testified that she remembers her father sleeping on the couch in his mother’s house the night in 1990 when his first wife Barbara was shot and killed in their Clinton Township, Michigan, comic store. Another defense witness, Douglas Kenyon, told the jury he saw a “suspicious person” in the store that evening and that Barbara George, who waited on him, seemed nervous. [Detroit Free Press]

Conventions | Last weekend’s Alternative Press Expo inspired Deb Aoki to offer a burst of suggestions on Twitter as to how it could be made better. Heidi MacDonald collected the tweets into a single post, and the commenters add some worthwhile points (including not scheduling it opposite the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, which attracts much of the same audience and is free). [Deb Aoki's Twitter, The Beat]

Awards | Ian Culbard’s adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness won the British Fantasy Award for best comic/graphic novel, presented Saturday by the British Fantasy Society. [The British Fantasy Society]

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Six by 6 | Six great superhero comics by unlikely cartoonists

The Death Ray

Apart from all the “new 52″ brouhaha, one of the more interesting and talked about bits of online  was Michael Fiffe’s essay on the delineations between mainstream (i.e. superhero) comics and the alt/indie comics scene. Spinning off of his essay, I thought it would be fun to list my own favorite super-styled tales by folks who usually don’t do that type of material, some of which Fiffe talked about in his essay.

Note: For the purposes of this article I’m deliberately avoiding any of the officially sanctioned productions from the Big Two, namely Strange Tales and Bizarro Comics, just to make it a wee bit harder.

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Daniel Clowes wins PEN Center USA Literary Award

Daniel Clowes

Daniel Clowes has won the PEN Center USA Literary Award for graphic literature, honoring an outstanding body of work that includes Ghost World, Eightball, David Boring, Wilson and Mr. Wonderful.

Presented by the California-based PEN Center USA, a nonprofit association dedicated to protecting the rights of writers and stimulating interest in the written word, the awards have since 1982 recognized literary excellence in categories ranging from fiction and children’s literature to journalism and graphic literature. Winners receive a $1,000 cash prize.

This is only the second year for the graphic literature category. Matt Fraction received the first award in 2010.

Comics A.M. | Why Marvel spoils stories in the media, Green Lantern lateness

Ultimate Spider-Man #160

Publishing | Arune Singh, Marvel’s director of communications, addresses how Marvel works with media outlets to break major storyline news and in many cases spoil the story, like Ultimate Spider-Man dying. Their goal is to hopefully bring lapsed or non-fans into stores: “When we line up this kind of mainstream media coverage, it’s offering the promise of breaking this big news to the outlet. It’s with the knowledge that they’ll be the ones making the headlines, being referenced by other sites and getting the attention. But if we wait till the story breaks or the Wednesday books go on-sale, someone else is going to buy the issue early in the morning and break the news. Is it possible that mainstream outlets will still pick up on the news then? Yes, it’s possible. But the only way to guarantee that big, sweeping placement worldwide — as you’ve seen with the Death of Spider-Man — is to break it before anyone has a chance. And that kind of placement is, as I mentioned above, what will get us attention from outside the industry.” [ComicsAlliance]

Retailing | Toronto retailer Chris Butcher worries about how well the two late Green Lantern movie prequel comics — one shipping this week, one shipping in August — will sell so long after the film’s release. He also discusses the lateness of the final issue of the War of the Green Lanterns crossover, which won’t come out until after the epilogue story in this week’s Green Lantern Emerald Warriors #11. [Comics212]

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The Death-Ray action doll goes on sale June 9

The Death-Ray

Daniel Clowes’ Death-Ray is not only getting the hardcover treatment this fall, he’s also getting three dimensions.

The creator’s site announced this weekend that the Oakland Toy Corp has designed a Death-Ray “action doll” that will be sold on Press Pop’s website beginning June 9. The 12″ doll is limited to 200 sets, costs $105 and comes with “the Ray Gun to erase all the people you would rather not see.” It will come in a box designed by Clowes.


Comics A.M. | Minnesota GOP leader apologizes to Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman

Politics | Minnesota House Majority Leader Matt Dean has apologized for calling Neil Gaiman a “pencil-necked little weasel,” but contends the author and comics writer should return the $45,000 fee he received in May 2010 for speaking at the Stillwater, Minn., library (Gaiman donated the money, minus agents fees, to charity). Dean’s original remarks were made during a discussion of how the state’s tax-generated Legacy funds for the arts are spent. He was quoted as saying that Gaiman, “who I hate,” is a “pencil-necked little weasel who stole $45,000 from the state of Minnesota.”

Now, however, the Republican lawmaker has dialed back the rhetoric while standing by his underlying criticism. “My mom is staying with us right now,” he tells Minnesota Public Radio. My wife’s out of town, and she was very angry this morning and always taught me to not be a name caller. And I shouldn’t have done it, and I apologize.”

Gaiman, who responded to Dean’s initial comments early Wednesday on Twitter, has since expanded on his remarks on his website, writing in part, “I don’t like the idea that a politician is telling people that charging a market wage for their services is stealing.” [Minnesota Public Radio, Underwire]

Comics | A psychologist has been brought in to a Houston elementary school after a group of fourth-graders created a comic book allegedly depicting them holding a gun to the head of one of their classmates. [My Fox Houston]

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What Are You Reading?

Gingerbread Girl

Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Emily Stackhouse, creator of the award-winning minicomic Brazilianoir and her latest, Miner’s Mutiny.

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

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

Dark Horse Presents #1

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

If I had $15, the first pick this week would be the relaunched Dark Horse Presents #1 (Dark Horse, $7.99). As a reader of the title in all its previous incarnations, I have a love for the format but also a desire to see them improve on it; editor Mike Richardson seems to have the right mix of big names and up-and-comers to make this work. Second up would be DMZ #64 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99), and this issue is the final issue in the “Free States Rising” arc and the first real sit-down between Matty and Zee in ages. Third would be Rick Remender’s covert ops squad Uncanny X-Force #8 (Marvel, $3.99). At first glance I question why I like this so much, but when I think about it, it becomes easy: I enjoy Remender’s storytelling, the artists they’ve had and the fearless nature to dig up some classic concepts from early 90s X-Men comics and general Marvel U stuff.

If I found $30 in my pocket instead of $15, I’d double back and pick up a pair of Invincibles: Invincible #79 (Image, $2.99) and Invincible Iron Man #503 (Marvel, $3.99). I really enjoy what these two teams are doing: carving out long expanding story-arcs that can only happen with long-term teams like these two have been fortunate enough to have. Third would be Jason Aaron and Daniel Acuna’s Wolverine #8 (Marvel, $3.99); although Daniel Acuna is known as a more glossy artist akin to Ed McGuinness meets Alex Ross, I think he really bucks that with the story arc he’s working on here. Lastly would be Avengers #12 (Marvel, $3.99) -– it really blows my mind that Bendis and Romita can do such a throw-back classic Avengers story and still keep the high sales going. I’m not complaining -– I love these stories as much as I love Avengers comics of lore, but they never sold this well.

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Wonderful tonight: Two interviews with Daniel Clowes on his new book

from Mister Wonderful by Daniel Clowes

from Mister Wonderful by Daniel Clowes

Part one-crazy-night comedy of errors, part Curb Your Enthusiasm-style comedy of discomfort, part heartwarming second-chance romance, part cartooning master class, Daniel Clowes’s new book Mister Wonderful packs a lot of delights in between its long covers. The book began life as a weekly strip in The New York Times Magazine‘s “Funny Pages” section before Clowes reformatted, edited, and expanded it for its new incarnation from his frequent publisher Pantheon. Now the misadventures of Marshall, a middle-aged divorcé with a penchant for second-guessing pretty much every word out of his own mouth, and his fateful blind date can sit comfortably on your bookshelf instead of lying in your recycling bin after the weekend’s over. And the added bonus to any new Clowes comic, of course, is new Clowes interviews.

Over on the CBR mothership, Clowes spoke with Alex Dueben, who elicited from the cartoonist a provocative take on the much-lamented demise of the alternative comic-book series (a la Clowes’s own Eightball):

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Comics A.M. | Borders seeks bonus approval; Marvel’s ‘Point One’ sales

Borders

Retailing | A bankruptcy judge is expected to hear arguments today from the bankrupt Borders Group, which is seeking to pay $8.3 million in bonuses in a bid to retain key corporate personnel. The struggling bookseller says that 47 executives and director-level employees have quit since the company declared bankruptcy on Feb. 16 — two dozen just this month — leaving only 15 people in senior management positions. In a court filing last week, U.S. bankruptcy trustee Tracy Hope Davis objected to the bonus proposal, characterizing it as “a disguised retention plan for insiders, which also provides for discriminatory bonuses for non-insiders.” [The Detroit News]

Publishing | Todd Allen looks at sales estimates for the first issues in Marvel’s “Point One” initiative, which featured self-contained stories designed to serve as a jumping-on point for new or lapsed readers: “With the sole exception of Hulk, retailers ordered less copies of the ‘jump on’ issue, than the regular series.  If you figure people picking up the title would also pick up the ‘.1′ introductory issue, this is a flaming disaster and there aren’t going to be a lot of these comics finding their way into the hands of new readers.  It smack of very low buy-in from the retail community.” [Indignant Online]

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What Are You Reading?

Wilson

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly round-up of … well, what we’ve been reading lately.

Today our special guest is the legendary Gilbert Hernandez. Known best as the co-creator of Love & Rockets, his other works include Sloth, The Troublemakers, Chance in Hell and Yeah! with Peter Bagge (which is being collected by Fantagraphics)

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

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Daniel Clowes draws Glenn Beck

Courtesy of the minty fresh new DanielClowes.com website comes this unused illustration of the notoriously lachrymose right-wing TV and radio host, whose nightly journey into madness can be seen on the Fox News Channel. Wilson and Mister Wonderful author Clowes was commissioned to draw the portrait for a New York Times Magazine profile on Beck when it seemed he wouldn’t be willing to sit for a photograph, but apparently cooler heads prevailed and/or Beck found a break in his busy schedule of rooting for the massacre of unarmed Arab protesters, and an agreement with the dreaded liberal media behemoth was reached after all. Oh well, the Times‘ loss is our gain. Get the full story of the illo, and lots more besides, at DanielClowes.com.

What Are You Reading?

Vietnamerica

Welcome to a special Super Bowl Sunday edition of What Are You Reading? Not that it’s any different from a regular WAYR column, but you can enjoy it while eating hot wings while the TV is paused.

Today our special guest is biology professor Jay Hosler, creator of Clan Apis and Optical Allusions. His latest book, Evolution, with artists Kevin Cannon and Zandor Cannon, was recently released by Hill & Wang. Check out his blog for a story he’s working on about photosynthesis.

To see what Jay and the Robot 6 gang are reading, click below.

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