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Talking Comics with Tim | Jimmy Palmiotti

Trailblazer

Anytime I get to talk to Jimmy Palmiotti, we never lack for projects to discuss. I can’t prove it, but I am willing to bet Palmiotti came up with at least two new story ideas while in the midst of this email interview. This Wednesday, July 6, marks the release of Trailblazer, a 48-page full-color western science fiction comic book ($5.99 [Image]) that he co-wrote with Justin Gray and art by Jim Daly. As detailed in this recent CBR release coverage, Trailblazer is “about a hired killer who turns in evidence against an employer for the murder of the woman who raised him. The government must then shield their star informant by enacting Operation Trailblazer, a witness protection program that uses not only location but time travel as well in order to keep their charges safe. As the assassin adjusts to his new life in the old west, he soon finds that no matter when or where he is the future is dead set in coming back to haunt him.” If you buy the book via Comixology, the original script is included as a bonus.

Before discussing this new Image release, we talked a bit about the impressive Jonah Hex 70-issue run (please note, for more scoop on Palmiotti and Gray’s plans for the new All-Star Western series be sure to read CBR’s Jeffrey Renaud’s recent interview with the creators)–not to jump the gun though, as issue 69 goes on sale this Wednesday (with art by Jeff Lemire). Also our discussion delves into the Palmiotti/Gray team reuniting with artist Joseph Michael Linsner on the Claws II (a sequel to Marvel’s Black Cat/Wolverine 2006 team-up) miniseries, which amazingly enough also goes on sale this Wednesday (check out the CBR preview of the first issue). Go into a comic book store this Wednesday, and bottom line, you will have your pick of Palmiotti product to buy. Palmiotti’s passion for comics and his equal commitment to meeting deadlines are two things I’ve always admired about him and that shine through in this interview. As you’ll read at the end of the interview, Palmiotti is curious to know what characters fans would like to see him work on, so please be sure to let him know in the comments section.

Tim O’Shea: You and Jonah Hex have a heck of a future together (with All-Star Western), no doubt. But I really want to talk about how amazing it was that you and Justin successfully told Jonah Hex for 70 issues. How proud are you of that accomplishment?

Jimmy Palmiotti: Very proud…and proud of the excellent work of so many amazing artists along the way. Justin and I would celebrate each and every year we were on Jonah , thinking at any minute it could be the last, but the great crew at D.C. comics always believed in us and believed in our choices and seventy issues is a huge milestone. They believed in us so much that with the new 52 books, they let us continue too do what we do best. In our minds, issue one of All Star Western is another chapter in the characters life and we haven’t missed a beat. The good news is that we are going to have a lot of fun with the other western characters in the D.C. universe.

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What Are You Reading?

Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Today’s special guest is Shannon Wheeler, New Yorker cartoonist and creator of the Eisner Award-winning comic book Too Much Coffee Man, Oil & Water, the Eisner-nominated I Thought You Would Be Funnier and the upcoming Grandpa Won’t Wake Up.

To see what Shannon and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …

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Grumpy Old Fan | The Alternative Thirty

DC Universe: The Stories Of Alan Moore

[A quick note before we go too much farther: I started writing this post before DC’s big announcement about its September-and-beyond plans. In fact, I wanted this particular post to be about something other than Flashpoint and/or line-wide reboots — so depending on your perspective, I picked exactly the right week, or exactly the wrong week, to draw that line. In any case, it’s probably not hard to tell, from the past few weeks’ worth of posts, where I stand on current events.

[So there you go. On with the business at hand.]

Since it’s pretty much summer, and time to think about catching up on reading, let’s revisit DC’s list of “30 Essential Graphic Novels” — “best-selling titles that you must read[, ]whether you are just beginning to discover graphic novels or you are an established fan looking to expand your collection.”

The list is almost four years old, and has had a few minor updates. (Pride Of Baghdad replaced The Quitter, and Crayon Shinchan replaced Sword Of The Dark Ones.) For the most part, though, it’s the same compilation — heavy on the Batman and the Jeph Loeb, a decent amount of Alan Moore (but no Swamp Thing), a couple of Sandman books and Hellblazer, but no Wonder Woman, no Joe Kubert, and no Jack Kirby. While there are at least a couple of representatives from each of DC’s imprints, there aren’t many hints at the real scope of DC’s diverse publishing history.

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Darwyn Cooke cooking up a return to DC Comics?

During a panel at last weekend’s Boston Comic Con, Darwyn Cooke let slip the first details of a new project that will send comic readers reeling. According to iFanboy‘s Josh Flanagan, Cooke said that the cartoonist is working on a secret project that will “be the biggest thing I’ve ever done at DC.”

For the past few years Cooke has been working mostly on the adaptations of Donald Westlake’s Richard Parker series of novels for IDW, but this news has people reviewing Cooke’s biggest project to date at DC and wondering what could eclipse it like the artist stated. That previous project would be 2004’s DC: The New Frontier, a six-issue miniseries telling a silver age story of the Justice League in a manner akin to the seminal 1980s film The Right Stuff. That series, collected numerous times and eventually adapted into an animated movie, garnered Cooke numerous awards, including an Eisner for “Best Limited Series.”

As for what the project could be, speculation is rampant. Me personally, I’d love to see him spearhead a “New Frontier” line of comics with him, J. Bone, Evan Shaner, Dean Trippe and others. Let’s wait and see what Darwyn Cooke has to offer!

For more of Cooke’s future plans, including details of a creator-owned digital comic he’s working on, check out our own Brigid Alverson’s interview with him from the Boston Comic Con.

Teenage Satan: It’s all in the family

Darwyn Cooke was one of the headliners at Boston Comic Con this weekend, but he wasn’t the only Cooke in the convention center. Wife Marsha and niece Candis dropped in on his panel to announce a project of their own: Teenage Satan, a digital comic they are creating along with artist Stephanie Buscema (granddaughter of John). The trailer above was animated by Darwyn Cooke, who worked in animation before turning his hand to comics.

The comic, which includes games and music, is a lighthearted, teen-friendly cartoon about an “emo sparkle Satan.” Teenage Satan is the son of Lucifer and his wife, Jezebel, and because this is hell, he is making his father’s life miserable—wait, that sounds like real life! Actually, we know it’s hell because he is making his father miserable by wanting to be good. Lucifer and Jezebel have been homeschooling their little devil, but when he hits ninth grade they decide to send him to high school. So with no prior experience with human interaction, Teenage Satan suddenly has to deal with all the travails of high school, including being bullied and having a crush on a girl who only has eyes for another.

Teenage Satan can be accessed as an app, via the website, or “through one of our distribution partners,” Marsha Cooke said, which presumably means a digital distributor such as comiXology, iVerse, or Graphicly. It will launch in September and will update daily with a mix of comics, games (such as 666 sudoku) and other content. Interestingly, the comic has an end date—December 22, 2012.

The inspiration for Teenage Satan came at Dragon Con, Marsha Cooke said: “We were walking through Dragon Con, and there were kids with their phones, and I was thinking, ‘I can’t believe they are playing Angry Birds with phones at a comic con.'”

This weekend, it’s Boston Comic Con

Boston Comic Con isn’t one of your better-known cons, like SDCC or NYCC—heck, I live just north of Boston and I never heard of it until last year—but if you’re in the area, this year’s show looks like a pretty good bet, with guests like Darwyn Cooke, Frank Quitely, and Joe Kubert.

Right off the bat, BCC is better than 90 percent of comic cons because it is not in some sterile, isolated convention center. You know how you have to walk a mile from the Javits to get a reasonably priced sandwich? No problem here; the Hynes Convention Center is conveniently attached to a mall, and it’s located in the heart of the Back Bay, which is chock full of great little restaurants, funky boutiques, and bars with atmosphere. I used to live in the neighborhood, and it’s still one of my favorite places to go. When you’re at the Hynes, you know you’re in Boston.

Another nice thing about a small con is that conflicting panel times won’t drive you crazy; the panel schedule (warning: PDF) has only one strand, so if you want to see Stan Sakai, Darwyn Cooke, and Terry Moore speak, you don’t have to be in three places at once. Just stay in your seat.

And there will be interesting things to see and to buy! Sam Costello will be debuting the latest volume of his Split Lip horror comic, complete with a back cover blurb from me! Anthony del Col and Andy Belanger, two of the creators of Kill Shakespeare, will be there with an “exclusive digital promotion” as well as the news that they just got some financing to develop a film script based on the property. The Artists Alley lineup includes Thom Zahler (Love and Capes), Tak Toyoshima (Secret Asian Man) and a panoply of Boston-area talent. I just hope the show doesn’t get too successful, or they’ll move it to Boston’s own sterile, out-of-the-way convention center and it will lose much of its charm.

WonderCon | Cooke creating new story for Parker: The Martini Edition

Walt Simonson’s Thor isn’t the only comic getting an oversized hardcover from IDW. The company announced at WonderCon Friday that both of Darwyn Cooke’s graphic novel adaptations of Richard Stark’s Parker novels, The Hunter and The Outfit, will be collected into an oversized hardcover edition with an additional 65 pages of content.

Parker: The Martini Edition will come in a slipcase with additional commentary, sketches and a new eight-page Parker story.

“The first two Parker graphic novels have been met with such overwhelming praise,” said series editor Scott Dunbier. “It’s almost been an embarrassment of riches. With this Martini Edition we’re really trying to up the bar and give the fans something extra special—I think we’ll succeed!”

The book is due in July. You can find the release after the jump.

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Cooke, Sakai, Thompson and more nominated for Reuben Awards

Usagi Yojimbo #134

The National Cartoonists Society has announced the nominees for the 65th annual Reuben Awards, which honor creators in various illustration fields, including comics.

Nominees for the two comic book industry categories — comics books and graphic novels — are:

COMIC BOOKS
Stan Sakai “Usagi Yojimbo”
Chris Samnee “Thor the Mighty Avenger”
Jill Thompson “Beasts of Burden”

GRAPHIC NOVELS
Darwyn Cooke- “The Outfit”
Joyce Farmer “Special Exits”
James Sturm- “Market Day”

You can see the rest of the nominees in animation, comic strip and other categories, over at the NCS website. Winners will be announced over the Memorial Day weekend.

Comics A.M. | Borders lists closing stores, assures ‘normal’ business

Borders

Retailing | Struggling bookseller Borders Group, which filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday, told shaken publishers it’s developing a long-term plan to “reposition itself,” even as it released a list of some 200 stores set to close by the end of April. The closings include 35 locations in California and 15 in metropolitan Chicago. On a website dedicated to the reorganization, the retailer — the second-largest book chain in the United States — assures customers that “Borders’ Business Operations Continue As Normal.”

In its bankruptcy filing, the company listed $1.29 billion in debt and $1.27 billion in assets. It owes $272 million to its 30 largest unsecured creditors, including $41.1 million to Penguin Group. Diamond Book Publishers, which stopped shipping to Borders last month, is on the hook for $3.9 million. [The New York Times]

Retailing | Meanwhile, REDgroup Retail, which owns the Australian booksellers Borders (owned independently of the U.S. chain) and Angus & Robertson, has entered into administration. Angus & Robertson is the country’s largest book chain, with more than 180 stores nationwide. [The Australian, Guardian]

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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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Hero Initiative on Russ Heath’s knee surgery, Cooke art auction results

Last month Parker: The Outfit creator Darwyn Cooke auctioned off some of his artwork to benefit the Hero Initiative. Now the organization, which provides financial aid for comic book veterans, has announced Cooke presented them with a check for $10,000 — complete with a hilarious faux check presentation ceremony:

According to the post, the Hero Initiative will use the money to help out Will Eisner Award hall of famer Russ Heath, who this past week underwent knee surgery.

“The deposit is well-timed, as yesterday was the day 1960s war comics legend Russ Heath went under the knife for knee replacement surgery,” said the Hero Initiative’s Jim McLauchlin in the post. “We’re happy to report that the surgery was a success, and Russ is resting comfortably. He’ll need the rest, as rehab is several months long, but if there’s one tough SOB who will get through it, even at age 84, it’s Russ Heath. Hero has been and will be along for the ride to help Russ out as well, of course.”

FCBD: Darwyn Cooke’s wearable art

Darwyn Cooke, creator of DC: The New Frontier and Parker: The Outfit, has mixed up a bunch of DC’s iconic characters for this year’s Free Comic Book Day commemorative T-shirt. This is the second year the FCBD has had a T-shirt; last year’s was done by Sergio Aragones, who Cooke acknowledges is a tough act to follow:

“I looked at last year’s shirt design by Sergio and there simply isn’t any way to top that in one image,” said Cooke. “This brought me to the idea of celebrating the form with the design, and putting all our info into a classic comic page layout. The rest became quite easy because the decision to go that way led me to doing VERY poppy, iconic images for the panels that had fun with the idea of the DC heroes in the store.”

He talks a bit more about his creative process and his favorite comics store (Strange Adventures, in Halifax, Nova Scotia) at the FCBD site, and he adds that while 2011 is going to be a “quiet year,” he is working on an original graphic novel that will be formatted as an ebook. (Cooke expanded a bit on this a in his New York Comic-Con spotlight panel).

The shirts come in sizes ranging from small to XXL and in three colors: Orange, denim blue, and black. There’s more information in the January Previews.

What Are You Reading?

Deadpool Team-Up #886

Hello and welcome to a special “birthday bash” edition of our weekly “What Are You Reading” feature, where the Robot 6 crew talks about what books we’ve read recently. Usually we invite a special guest to share what they’ve been reading, but since today isn’t just an ordinary day for us, we thought we’d invite a whole bunch of special guests to help us out — our friends and colleagues from Comic Book Resources, Spinoff and Comics Should Be Good!

To see what everyone has been reading, click below …

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Robot Reviews | Parker: The Outfit (digital edition)

I broke through a barrier on Christmas Day: I paid $9.99 for an e-book, something I swore I would never do. And it was worth it.

I had been wanting to read Parker: The Outfit, Darwyn Cooke’s adaptation of the Richard Stark (Donald Westlake) novel, but this is the busiest time of year for me, and I hadn’t gotten a review copy. So there I was, with my best-of-the-year list due the next day, with no copy of a book that I was quite sure deserved to be on the list. Fortunately, IDW, which publishes the Parker books, has just decided to put its graphic novels in the iTunes store as standalone apps, and Parker: The Outfit is available for $9.99.

In general, I think $10 is too much for an e-book, which is essentially an ephemeral thing. You don’t really buy e-books, you rent them, although it’s more of a long-term lease. I still have books that I bought 30 years ago; the same will not be true of my e-books. That said, ten bucks for the Parker book is better than a 50% savings off the price of the print book. And it’s Darwyn Cooke, dammit. So I bit.

Best ten bucks I ever spent.

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IDW takes graphic novels digital

Single-issue comics have been the format of choice on the iPad and iPhone, but IDW is about to change all that: They announced this week that they will offer full-length graphic novels for the iPad. Each graphic novel will be a stand-alone app, priced between $5 and $10.

IDW has never been timid about digital comics, and they are jumping into digital graphic novels with a strong lineup of recent releases: Darwyn Cooke’s Parker: The Outfit, which is making a lot of best-of-the-year lists, for just $9.99, and Cooke’s earlier Parker: The Hunter for $7.99, as well as a Star Trek movie adaptation ($9.99), Vol. 1 of The Bloom County Library ($7.99), Tribes: The Dog Years ($7.99), and After the Fire ($4.99).

This is exactly what comics readers have been saying they want—recent releases priced lower than the print editions. IDW has chosen to release these comics as stand-alone apps, rather than through the IDW or Comics+ apps that carry their single-issue comics. That means iPad users who are not comics readers but are fans of Star Trek or the Parker prose novels have a shot at running across these in the iTunes store.

When IDW launched the Star Trek: Countdown iPhone comic, publisher and director Ted Adams commented, “We will sell as many iTunes apps [of Countdown] as we will of as the print version.” That kind of thinking is clearly behind this move. The initial lineup has an appeal way beyond the traditional comics audience, and by presenting them as single apps, rather than walling them off inside a comics app, IDW has made it more likely that new readers will find them.

(Image taken from the Comics Alliance piece.)


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