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Conversing on Comics with Andy Diggle

In any entertainment field, the only thing more difficult than breaking through and scoring that first hit is doing it again and again. And in comics, one of the people I’ve marveled at for his ability to top his previous hit and reinvent himself, all while staying true to himself and his style, is writer Andy Diggle.

He’s done a lot during his 15 years in comics: He helped to turn around then-flagging 2000AD with a back-to-basics approach. He dusted off a forgotten set of DC Comics characters and re-made them into a popular Vertigo series with The Losers. He gave readers a modern vantage point for DC’s archer Green Arrow. He took Marvel’s Daredevil to the darkest point. And at this year’s New York Comic Con, he was the belle of the ball in terms of announcements with four new titles, and several more already in the works.

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Food or Comics? | Avocados or Avengers

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop 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 a splurge item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Avengers #1

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d start out with Legend of Luther Strode #1 (Image, $3.50). I was behind the times on the first series, but now I will raise my fist to the air and decree “NO MORE!” (to the stunned silence of my local comic shop owner). Justin Jordan really brought a different take on this story, but for me the sizzle on this is Tradd Moore’s art. It reminds me of Sam Keith’s middle-period during his Marvel Comics Presents Wolverine run, and that’s nothing but a good thing. After that I’d get Stumptown #4 (Oni Press, $3.99). Some might compare Dex’s journey to that of Jessica Jones in Marvel’s Alias, but it’s anything but. Greg Rucka really knows how to make a story feel more than just mere fiction. My third pick this week would be Invincible #98 (Image, $2.99), seeing Mark Grayson get his powers back – just in time to be stomped into the ground, from the looks of it. Reading this series since the first issue, I’m noticing the colorist change more and more here; John Rauch definitely is a step removed from FCO Plascencia, and I’m still getting used to it. Kirkman and Ottley are delivering here so well that Domino’s should be jealous. (ba-dum CHING!) Last up in my Wednesday haul would be Avengers #1 (Marvel, $3.99). I’ve noticed in doing Food or Comics for as long as I have how I’ll routinely follow writers but when they manage to get an artist I particularly like I’ll fall over myself trying to get to it. Case in point, this book, with Jonathan Hickman joining forces with Jerome Opeña to kick off a new era for Marvel’s flagship book. I’m all for “Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers,” but I’m even more excited to see Opeña’s take on this.

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Previews: What Looks Good for January

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. We’ve each picked the five comics we’re most anticipating in order to create a list of the best new stuff coming out two months from now.

As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.

Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #1

Graeme McMillan

Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #1 (of 12): I’m a sucker for Doctor Who, I think I’ve said that before, right …? No surprise, then, that I’m very much looking forward to this year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the BBC science-fiction show, with each issue spotlighting a different incarnation of the character. That Simon Fraser is providing art helps a lot, too; I’ve been a big fan of his “Nikolai Dante” work for 2000AD for a while. (IDW Publishing, $3.99)

One Trick Rip-Off/Deep-Cuts hardcover: Speaking of things that I’m a big fan of, Paul Pope easily fits that bill, so this enhanced reprint of his Dark Horse graphic novel — with more than 150 pages of rare and unseen work from the same period, including his Supertrouble manga — is far too tempting to pass up. (Image Comics, $29.99)

Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #1 (of 4): I was very impressed with Star Trek: Countdown back in 2009, and the way it teased the then-upcoming J.J. Abrams reboot without giving too much away, so I’m looking forward to see if this prologue to this summer’s sequel is just as fun. (IDW, $3.99)

Star Wars #1: Brian Wood and Star Wars feel like an odd pairing in my head, but everything I’ve read about this new ongoing series set after the first movie (which is to say, Episode IV these days) seems completely up my alley, and the 5-year-old within me is completely sold on the chance to see more stories set in the “true” Star Wars era. (Dark Horse, $3.50)

Young Avengers #1: Kieron GIllen and Jamie McKelvie pairing on anything is pretty much a must-read for me, but seeing them let loose on Marvel’s teen characters and seemingly determined to make them actually seem like teenagers. … Yeah, this looks like it may be one of my favorite superhero books in quite some time, I suspect. (Marvel, $2.99)

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Food or Comics? | French fries or Freelancers

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop 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 a splurge item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

47 Ronin #1

Brigid Alverson

If I had $15, I’d spend the first $3.99 on the first issue of 47 Ronin, a retelling of a Japanese legend written by Mike Richardson and illustrated by Stan Sakai. I saw a preview of this and it looks phenomenal. Next up is my favorite soap opera, Life With Archie #24 ($3.99), in which Moose contemplates running for the Senate and The Archies reunite. This comic is consistently well written and the stories really drag me in. I’ll slap down another $3.99 for Popeye #7, because I’m a Roger Langridge fan. And because I love a bargain, I’ll finish up with Freelancers #1, a new series from BOOM! Studios that looks kinda fun — and hey, there’s a variant cover by Felipe Smith, one of my favorite manga artists.

If I had $30, I’d revert to my childhood and pick up the Doctor Who Annual ($12.99) from Penguin. When I was a kid, the British comics annuals were the high point of the holidays, and I’m pretty sure I have a vintage Doctor Who one tucked away somewhere. It’s probably aimed at kids but that just means I can share it with my nephew and nieces.

The splurge item to get this week is the new box set of Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. This is Miyazaki’s longest manga by far, and the story continues after the movie ends. It’s going to be the same large format as Viz’s earlier box set, but the seven volumes are being bound as two this time. It’s $60, but I noticed Amazon is offering a steep discount, so I’ll add another splurge: Nickolai Dante: Sympathy for the Devil ($29.99), a story that ran in 2000AD. I saw artist Simon Fraser describe it at NYCC this way: “Nikolai Dante is a swashbuckling hero from the far, far future, the year 2666, where he is alternately working for and against the czar, and for his own family and against his family, and in the meantime trying to get as drunk and screw as many women as he possibly can.” Sold!

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Help J.K. Woodward recover from Hurricane Sandy

New Muatnts by J.K. Woodward

Artist J.K. Woodward, who has worked on comics like Star Trek The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation2 and Fallen Angel with Peter David, lost his home and everything he owns because of Hurricane Sandy. If you’d like to help him out, he’s made it easy–he’s selling some wonderful prints and a bunch of his original art to “get us back on our feet.”

He shared details on his efforts on his blog:

My wife and I recently suffered a huge loss from Hurricane Sandy. Our home was lost along with almost everything we own. I’m currently coming up with some fund raising ideas to get us back on our feet and into a home where we can start to rebuild. The first of which is to sell some original pages from my work on the Star Trek TNG/DoctorWho: Assimilation2 series. I have pages and covers available through Cadence Comic Art. There are some great deals to be found there if you act quickly.

The second wave is to make prints from previous works and commissions to sell as prints. This will be a limited 2 week sale and all prints are signed. These are what I have made available for now. More will be added in future blog posts. They are all 11 x 17

To hear more of his story of dealing with the hurricane, check out this podcast.

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Food or Comics? | Lobster or Liberty Annual

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop 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 a splurge item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

CBLDF Liberty Annual 2012

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d line up to get the this year’s CBLDF Liberty Annual #5 (Image, $4.99). I’m an anthology junkie, and this hits that perfectly while also benefiting a good cause. The creator list is amazing – even without knowing who’s working with whom. After that, I’d get Happy #2 (Image, $2.99). This book’s first issue hit me harder than I expected; I was buying it for Grant Morrison to wow me with his writing, but it was Darick Robertson’s artwork that hit me square between the eyes. I’ve read all the issues of Transmetropolitan and most of The Boys, but his art here has graduated up a level and I’m almost salivating at thinking of this second issue. Third this week would be Wolverine and the X-Men #19 (Marvel, $3.99), quietly usurping Uncanny X-Force as my favorite Marvel book on the stands. Last issue’s Doop-centric theme was great for me, but I’m excited to see star pupil Nick Bradshaw back on pencils for this issue.

If I had $30, I’d double back and get Higher Earth, Vol. 1 (Boom!, $14.99) Canceled or not, this series looks interesting despite my bailing after Issue 1. It’s a complicated concept (from what I gleaned from the first issue), but I’m looking to let Humphries school me on this.

If I could splurge, I’d snatch up EC: Wally Wood – Came the Dawn and Other Stories (Fantagraphics, $28.99). I’ve been aware of Wally Wood for a almost two decades now, but I tend to go through periods of simply floating around before I consume and learn more about him in short but voracious periods. Last time it was in the bloom of Fear Agent, and seeing this in Previews a few months back got me jonesing to do it again.

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What Are You Reading? with Alex de Campi

Megillat Esther

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week we’re joined by music video director and comic book writer Alex de Campi, whose works include Smoke, Kat & Mouse, Valentine and the in-production Ashes.

To see at Alex and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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Food or Comics? | Duck or Doctor Who

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop 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 a splurge item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Doctor Who #1

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d catch up on Joe Keatinge and Andre Szymanowicz’ Hell Yeah with the first trade, Vol. 1: Last Days On Earth (Image, $9.99). I admit to dropping off after the second issue, but it’s always something I wanted to get back to; and reading Keatinge’s interviews on the more recent issues has pushed me over the top. If nothing else, $9.99 for five issues is a good deal. After that I’d get Avengers Vs. X-Men #12 (Marvel, $4.99). Of all the group-written issues, Jason Aaron’s seems to have been the most organized and engaging, so I’m glad they opted to have him do the finale. Seeing Adam Kubert on this is surprising, as his previous issues of Avengers Vs. X-Men felt rushed – but previews of this issue show him more measured and confident, like his Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine work, also with Aaron.

If I had $30, I’d double back and gleefully grab Thomas Herpich’s White Clay (AdHouse, $4.95). When I first heard about this the onus of Adventure Time was heavy given the cartoonist works on that show, but after seeing the previews and hearing Chris Pitzer talk about this book I’m in for it. I’d also get the debut issue of Andy Diggle’s Doctor Who #1 (IDW, $3.99) with artist Mark Buckingham. Bucky’s a real treat here, and I’m interested to see what he does with Diggle’s words – and what exactly Diggle does. I’m okay if it’s not Lenny Zero – but that would be nice too. Finally, I’d get Uncanny X-Force #32 (Marvel, $3.99). At one time this was my favorite book coming from the Big Two, but it seems to have grown long in the tooth; I’m not confident enough to say Rick and crew are doing something wrong, as maybe it’s just me. But the first 18 issues had a special kind of magic, and that doesn’t seem to remain here in these issues. But still, I’m in ’til the end.

If I could splurge, I’d get The Nao of Brown (SelfMadeHero, $24.95) by Glyn Dillon. I admit I already received an advance review copy of this book, but if I didn’t I’d surely have it on pre-order. A read a review where they compared to this to Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese, but I think that’s a mere surface examination. After reading this (and flipping through it a dozen times since), this is just a pure coming-of-age story that reminds me more of Hope Larson or a very chatty Adrian Tomine. Very great, very great.

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Neill Cameron mercilessly picks apart ‘Asylum of the Daleks’ plot twist

The last episode of this season of Doctor Who before it goes on a short break until Christmas is broadcast this Saturday. Meanwhile, cartoonist Neill Cameron, creator of Mo-Bot High and artist of The Phoenix‘s “Pirates of Pangaea,” has clearly been thinking long and hard about the big twist in the season opener, in which plucky computer hacker Oswin Oswald manages to delete all trace or mention of the Doctor from the collective memory of his arch-enemy, the Daleks.

Proving that one man’s plot twist is another man’s gaping plot hole, Cameron has responded to this development with this strip. Full comic below; it’s a doozy.

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Art Barrage | U.K. cartoonists feeling frisky

Art Barrage favorite Rob Davis has debuted the cover for his adaptation of Don Quixote Part Two. Davis’ work on the first book of Cervantes’ masterpiece was that rare treat, an adaptation that crossed from one media to another and still seemed fresh rather than redundant. This is because Davis is a creator of rare intellect and taste, with his blog being the place to see the amount of thought he puts into every project he embarks upon.

When I mention here that the U.K. is going through a Golden Age for graphic novel publishing, Davis has proven to be a key figure in its renaissance. Two of the publishers now regularly producing a steady stream of great books have worked with him, with Self Made Hero releasing these Don Quixote volumes (there’s a collected edition hitting the American market in the not-too-distant future); the ground-breaking anthology he co-edited with Woodrow Phoenix for Blank Slate Books, Nelson, would surely have won a multitude of awards this year if it had been published by one of the big U.S. indies (no, really; if you haven’t read it, click the link, look at that list of contributors, and ask yourself if it isn’t worth a punt, you won’t regret it).

More below, including another Don Quixote cover by Davis, and work by Jonathan Edwards, Rian Hughes, Etherington Brothers and more.

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Food or Comics? | Sage or Saga

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop 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 a splurge item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Saga #6

Chris Arrant 

If I had $15, I’d first double-down on creator-owned comics with Butcher Baker, Righteous Maker #8 (Image, $2.99) and Saga #6 (Image, $2.99). I’m glad to see Joe Casey and Mike Huddleston back on Butcher Baker after a hiatus in which I feared it was no more, and I’ve just pulled out #1-7 to get me back up to speed. I’m thinking that taking hallucinogenics would make me enjoy this comic more. On the other side, Saga #6 is flat-out amazing in the most conventional way (despite the unconventional setting). Aliens, ghosts and babies, and yet Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples bring it all together. At this point I’ve shifted into the The Walking Dead mode of reading – no point in reading about what’s ahead, as I’ll just buy it blindly on the great comics they’ve done so far. After that creator-owned two-fer, I’d give Marvel the rest of my money with Uncanny X-Force #29 (Marvel, $3.99) and Avengers vs. X-Men #10 (Marvel, $3.99). I think Marvel’s finally found a suitable replacement for Jerome Opena in artist Julian Totino Tedesco, and I hope he’s locked in to finish out this arc. And speaking of Rick Remender’s work, I spent about 15 minutes conversing the other day about how and why he should’ve been enlisted into Marvel’s Architects and worked into Avengers Vs. X-Men. While the group-written approach takes some getting used to, I’d love to see Remender do an issue of this. In Avengers Vs. X-Men #10 (Marvel, $3.99) however, we see Ed Brubaker taking the lead and showing the Phoenix Force Five venturing into K’un L’un for what seems like the Empire Strikes Back moment of the series.

If I had $30, I’d turn back in all my $15 purchases except Saga #6 and spend the recouped $25-plus dollars and get Hulk: Season One HC (Marvel, $24.99). I’ve never been the biggest Hulk fan, but seeing the previews of Tom Fowler’s art on this has won me over. Fowler, like the above mentioned Tedesco, is one of Marvel’s hidden gems and this might be the launching pad for him to (finally) get some recognition. And for me to get some good comics. Fowler SMASH!

If I could splurge, I’d do the boring choice and simply use it to buy all the single issues mentioned in the $15 section and be able to also afford Hulk: Season One HC. Easy, breezy, beautiful, comics boy.

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Star Trek: TNG/Doctor Who crossover is an iBooks first

You would think that the digital landscape would be thoroughly covered by now, but IDW Publishing broke some new ground this week: Its Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation #1 is the first single-issue comic to be released simultaneously in print and digitally via iBooks, according to IDW’s director of e-publishing Jeff Webber. As of this writing, it’s No. 1 in the Comics and Graphic Novels category, outselling The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones books that make up the rest of the Top 10.

The comic is also available for Barnes & Noble’s Nook.

In a way, this brings IDW full circle. Back in the day (2008), the company published Star Trek comics as single-issue apps in the iTunes store. That’s how everyone did it, in those primitive times before in-app buying. Now IDW has its own branded app and also sells comics through comiXology’s comics storefronts on the web and mobile devices. That makes sense, because it’s likely different customers shop in the different venues — comics fans in the comics apps, Star Trek: TNG fans who might be open to reading a comic in the iBooks store.

C2E2 2012 | Saturday Photodiary

Typically, I’ll spend most of Saturday in panels, but the first one I was interested in wasn’t until later in the morning, so I killed time taking in some of the more offbeat exhibitors, like Ben the Bubble Guy, a businessman who hires himself out for birthday parties, corporate events, funerals. Okay, maybe not funerals.

When it was time, I headed up to the fourth floor for the AV Club‘s panel on the Future of Superheroes.

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C2E2 2012 | Friday Photodiary

Welcome to C2E2

One of the things a lot of pros like about C2E2 is the late start on Friday. It doesn’t open to the public until 1:00 pm, so creators can sleep in and recover from their trips if they want. Or, if they want to go early to set up or just walk around and visit with each other, they can do that too. It’s also helpful for press jerks taking lots of pictures. Lots. Of pictures.

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Across the Pond | A roundup of UK comics news

The UK comics scene is bustling, with 2000AD celebrating its 35th anniversary, a new kids’ comic making waves, and tons of creators working on tons of new projects.

The indy publisher Blank Slate, home of Psychiatric Tales and the anthology Nelson, will be publishing a collected edition of Nick Abadzis’s Hugo Tate, and in anticipation of that, Abadzis has set up a Hugo Tate Tumblr for photos, thoughts, and even the odd page of comics.

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