Denis Kitchen Archives | Robot 6 | The Comics Culture Blog

Comics A.M. | Conan O’Brien, “Agents of SHIELD” & More wrap SDCC trolleys

Conventions | The San Diego trolleys will get a new look for Comic-Con International: They will be fully wrapped in ads for comics-themed TV shows. The ads bring in about $300,000 to the Metropolitan Transit System, and advertisers see them as a good way to get the message out to their natural audience: “The trolley train wraps are very effective because they allow you to have fun with your marketing and also are constantly in motion, giving your campaign strong circulation to reach a wide range of fans,” said Angela Courtin, chief marketing officer for Fox. Fun fact: It takes eight hours to wrap a single trolley car. No statistics were available on how long it takes to unwrap it after the con. [San Diego Union-Tribune]

Creators | Mark Russell, who scripted DC’s satirical series Prez, talks about his work on their reboot of The Flinstones. When they first approached him, his response was “I kind of hate ‘The Flintstones,'” and when they were OK with that, he said, “I knew from the beginning that it would be a satiric, edgy response to ‘The Flintstones.'” The new series debuts next month. “It’s a critique of the suburban values that the original ‘Flintstones’ and [precursor] ‘The Honeymooners’ were about,” Russell said. “[The comedy] absorbed the values of the time and used them as a backdrop for broad humor.” Artist Steve Pugh, on the other hand, enjoyed the show; as a child growing up in the gritty British industrial town of Birmingham, he saw it as a “ray of light” in an otherwise grim world. [Comic Riffs]

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Comics A.M. | Malaysian cartoonist challenges nation’s sedition act

Zunar

Zunar

Legal | On the day his trial on sedition charges was due to begin, Malaysian political cartoonist Zunar threw a curve ball, asking the high court to declare the sedition law unconstitutional. The Malaysian government has repeatedly attempted to ban or censor Zunar’s cartoons, but this case actually stems from a series of nine tweets he wrote following the conviction of opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on sodomy charges; Zunar accused the court of following the wishes of the prime minister. On Friday, Zunar’s lawyers (one of whom has also been charged with sedition) filed a petition with the high court saying that the lower court that was to hear the case had no authority to do so. The Malaysian Federal Court recently dismissed a challenge that made a similar argument; Zunar’s case is now scheduled to be heard on Dec. 8, with a decision expected a week later. [Index on Censorship]

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Comics A.M. | A closer look at ‘most challenged’ comics

Drama

Drama

Libraries | Michael Cavna talks to Drama creator Raina Telgemeier and Charles Brownstein of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund about graphic novel challenges in libraries and why Drama made the American Library Association’s 2014 list of 10 most challenged books. [The Washington Post]

Political cartoons | The East African cartoonist Gado has been let go from the Kenyan newspaper The Nation, apparently due to pressure from the government. The move came after the newspaper’s owner met with President Uhuru Kenyatta, who’s been pushing the publication to drop some its contributors critical of his government. Gado’s cartoons about various scandals, and his depictions of the president as a prisoner with a ball and chain and as a turbaned Sikh (following an attempted land grab that involved four entrepreneurs named Singh) have clearly hit a nerve. [Spy Ghana] Continue Reading »

Comics A.M. | The effect of the ‘Valkyrie Bump’ on sales

The Valkyries

The Valkyries

Retailing | Susana Polo interviews several members of the Valkyries, the organization of women who work in comic shops, and examines the “Valkyrie Bump,” the sales boost that some comics, such as Sex Criminals, Lumberjanes and Batgirl, get when they benefit from their extra support. [Publishers Weekly]

Political cartoons | Reporter James Hookway interviews the Malaysian cartoonist Zunar, who’s facing sedition charges, and provides some background on Malaysian politics and trial of Anwar Ibrahim, which is the topic of some of Zunar’s controversial cartoons. [The Wall Street Journal]

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High marks for Monte Beauchamp’s ‘Masterful Marks’

masterful marksBlab founder and editor Monte Beauchamp’s latest book, Masterful Marks: Cartoonists Who Changed the World, bears a subtitle that begs to be parsed, almost as much as it begs to be read.

He’s gathered a Murderers’ Row of great contributors and collaborators to tell the life’s stories of 16 cartoonists, in the most obvious format to do so — comics, of course.

But what, exactly, constitutes a cartoonist? Some of those included might have worked at one point in the field, but made their greatest marks in other areas: people like Walt Disney, Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel and Hugh Hefner (whose inclusion will likely be the biggest surprise to more readers; and, make no mistake, the book is made as much for the casual reader as the expert, armchair or otherwise). Others you might not think of as cartoonists at all, like Edward Gorey or Al Hirschfeld.

And changing the world — the whole world?! — is a pretty bold claim, certainly bolder than changing, say, a genre, or a medium or an industry. Certainly Disney and Osamu Tezuka qualify, as do Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who introduced the superhero as we know it, and Jack Kirby, who reimagined the superhero, made countless contributions to the form and who created or co-created characters and concepts that today make billions of dollars.

But what about Harvey Kurtzman, Robert Crumb and the aforementioned Hirschfeld? Are their influences and innovations on equal footing?

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Comics A.M. | Protesters rally against cuts to SC colleges

fun home2Graphic novels | An estimated 200 students, faculty and community members gathered Saturday at the College of Charleston in South Carolina to protest proposed budget cuts to that school and the University of South Carolina Upstate in retaliation for selecting gay-themed books — including Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home — for their summer reading programs. The South Carolina House of Representatives approved a proposal early this month that would slash $52,000 cut from the College of Charleston and $17,142 for USC Upstate, which represent what each school spent on the programs. The budget is now before the state Senate. [The Post and Courier]

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Comics A.M. | Kadokawa’s app to offer manga in English

ComicWalker

ComicWalker

Digital comics | Japanese publisher Kadokawa plans on March 22 to launch ComicWalker, a digital comics service that will carry manga in three languages: Japanese, English and Chinese. The stories will include some well-known classics (Sgt. Frog, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gundam: The Origin) as well as new manga, and apparently they will be free. The launch will include 150 titles, 40 of which will be translated, so it sounds like not everything will be available in English right away. [Anime News Network]

Conventions | Lewis Trondheim, a former winner of the Grand Prix d’Angoulême and therefore a member of the academy that chooses each year’s winners, provides an insider’s view of the voting and the causes and effects of the changes that have been made over the past two years: “In its forty-three years, the festival has had, I believe, three Americans, one Argentine, one Swiss, three Belgians, and over thirty Frenchmen. This doesn’t seem to correspond with the reality of the comics world to me.” [The Comics Journal]

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Columbia University library acquires Kitchen Sink Press archives

kitchen sink press archivesColumbia University Libraries’  Rare Book & Manuscript Library has acquired the archives of Kitchen Sink Press, comprised of more than 50,000 letters, plus 30 years’ worth of draft artwork and published and unpublished story ideas.

Operating from 1969 to 1999, Kitchen Sink Press published the work of cartoonists ranging from Al Capp and Will Eisner to Trina Robbins and Art Spiegelman. According to the library, publisher Denis Kitchen meticulously date-stamped virtually every letter he received, kept the envelope and even attached a copy of his own response.

“Apparently I am a natural-born archivist,” Kitchen said in a statement. “I will miss the rows of file cabinets full of handwritten letters, illustrated letters, and even letters that came out of devices called typewriters, all created before the digital age made traditional correspondence all but obsolete, but I hope they provide scholars with insights into the development of underground comix and the work of the multiple generations of creators I had the distinct pleasure of working with.”

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, under the stewardship of Robin Green, earlier this year acquired the archives of Al Jaffee and ElfQuest creators Wendy and Richard Pini.

Comics A.M. | Wimpy Kid author spearheads Okla. library benefit

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel

Creators | Jeff Kinney, author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, was traveling the day a tornado devastated Moore, Oklahoma, and he saw the damage on a news broadcast while waiting for a flight. The images stuck with him, so he rounded up fellow creators Lincoln Peirce (Big Nate), Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine, Timmy Failure) and Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants), all of whom he describes as “novelists whose DNA is in comics,” to hold a benefit to rebuild the town’s school libraries. The quartet will meet in Norman, Oklahoma, for a panel discussion and will raffle off original art and sell autographed copies of their books this weekend, with all proceeds going to the Moore Public Schools Foundation, earmarked for the school libraries. [Oklahoma Gazette]

Creators | Joe Sacco, author of Palestine, Footnotes in Gaza and, most recently, The Great War, talks about his work day, his process and the places he’s been. [The Telegraph]

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Comics A.M. | Boston Comic Con expected to draw 15,000

Boston Comic Con art by Tim Sale

Boston Comic Con art by Tim Sale

Conventions | Boston Comic Con is coming this weekend, and founder Nick Kanieff talks about how it has grown from 900 attendees at the first con, in 2007, to an expected 15,000 for this year’s event, which was rescheduled because of the Boston Marathon bombings. [MetroWest Daily News]

Publishing | Denis Kitchen discusses the return of Kitchen Sink Press to publishing as an imprint of Dark Horse. It kicks off in December with an anthology, The Best of Comix Book. [Publishers Weekly]

Creators | Peter Steiner’s cartoon, captioned “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog,” is the most-reproduced cartoon in the history of The New Yorker. On the 20th anniversary of its publication, Steiner looks back on its creation, which came about almost by chance, and the ways the world has changed in the interim. One interesting nugget: The most-reproduced cartoon in The New Yorker has brought its creator a total of $50,000 in royalties over the past 20 years. [Comic Riffs]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Airwolf,’ ‘Saved by the Bell’ revived as digital comics

Saved by the Bell

Saved by the Bell

Publishing | Lions Forge Comics announced a partnership this morning with NBC Universal to create digital comics based on five television series from the 1980s and 1990s: Knight Rider, Airwolf, Miami Vice, Punky Brewster and Saved by the Bell. The comics will be released on a variety of e-book platforms, including Kindle, Nook and Kobo, but there was no mention of comics apps such as comiXology. [USA Today]

Publishing | Denis Kitchen’s Kitchen Sink, long a packager whose comics were published by others, will now be an imprint of Dark Horse, releasing four to six books a year. The imprint will include art books, reprints of archival material, and new graphic novels; it will kick off with The Best of Comix Book: When Marvel Went Underground!, a collection of works from the Marvel magazine, which was edited by Kitchen and Stan Lee. [ICv2]

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What Are You Reading?

daredevil-tease

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? It’s an abbreviated edition this week — maybe everyone’s doing their taxes, like I am today — so let’s just get to it …

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Comics A.M. | Turning download codes to cash; SPX guests

Marvel digital code

Marvel digital code

Digital comics | So, your $3.99 comic comes bundled with a download code for a free digital copy, but you’re strictly a paper person. What to do? Todd Allen has a fascinating article about the secondary market in unused download codes, not just the fact that they are being sold fairly openly but also what that market tells us about the true value of comics: “Outside of eBay it’s relatively easy to use Google to find somewhere to swap or purchase Ultraviolet codes. The Home Theater Forum’s classified ad section has codes sprinkled in, with a low $2-$3 looking like a common price. Codes are also easy to find on Reddit, including a dedicated subreddit, though codes on Reddit are swapped or given away, not sold.” [The Next Web]

Conventions| Small Press Expo announced its first round of guests for the Sept.14-15 convention: Seth, Gary Panter, Lisa Hanawalt, Gene Yang and Frank Santoro. [SPX]

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What Are You Reading? with Elisabeth Forsythe

Criminal: The Last of the Innocent #3

Hello and welcome once again to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is Elisabeth Forsythe, marketing manager for online comic shop Things From Another World and frequent contributor to The Blog From Another World.

To see what Elisabeth and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, read on.

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Apple insists on edits to Underground Classics app

Warning: Pretty much every image in the linked article is flagrantly, joyously NSFW. If your eyeballs disintegrate and hair grows on the palms of your hands when you click the link, well, don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Underground comics are by their nature transgressive, so it comes as no surprise that the Comix Classics: Underground Comics app produced by Toura, an app platform often used by museums, and Comic Art Productions and Exhibits, ran afoul of Apple’s content guidelines. As Kim Munson, who designed the app, explained to Michael Dooley of Imprint Magazine, the app is not a digital comic but “more of an interactive art exhibit.” It’s based on James Danky and Denis Kitchen’s book Underground Classics: The Transformation of Comics into Comix, and it contains all the comics from the book and the exhibit plus some new graphics.

Oddly, when the app was submitted to Apple, the iPad version was accepted as is (with a string of warnings to potential consumers about sex, nudity, etc.) but the iPhone version was rejected for “excessively objectionable or crude content.” Munson removed 16 images, which apparently shifted the ratio enough to make the Apple folks happy. (For those who like to skip straight to the good stuff, the deleted images are at the link.) Munson noted that “The deletions were plainly based purely on the visual representation, not the context of the pieces.”

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