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What are you reading with Annie Koyama

Little Tommy Lost

Welcome to another round of What Are You Reading. Our guest this week is Annie Koyama, owner and operator of the wonderful Koyama Press, which publishes fantastic books that you should buy ASAP. To see what Annie and the rest of the Robot 6 crew are reading this week, click on the link below. Continue Reading »

Comics College | Adrian Tomine

Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.

After a brief one-month vacation, Comics College is back with a look at the bibliography of one of the brighter stars indie comics sky, Adrian Tomine.

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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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SDCC ’11 | Brian Ralph, D&Q reach Daybreak


For the last few years, when not busy with his day job teaching sequential art at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Brian Ralph has been busy working on his latest graphic novel, Daybreak. The book is a slight departure of sorts for Ralph — best known for his early work as part of the highly influential Fort Thunder collective and for books like Cave-In —  in that it delves into the horror genre. Yes, it’s another zombie book, but it’s a zombie book with a unique twist, with everything viewed from the perspective of an unnamed survivor (i.e. the reader), as he explores a foreboding landscape and finds a potential friend amidst all the devastation.

Daybreak makes it debut at Comic-Con this year, and Ralph will be on a panel at 5 p.m. (Pacific time) 14today with Anders Nilsen and Jeff Smith on the subject of “Epic Literary Adventures” (in Room 9).

I talked with Ralph over email about the panel, the new book, and the adventures of teaching comics to college students.

Daybreak is a horror story told from a unique, first-person perspective. Which came first for you, the desire to do a horror tale or the unique way of telling it?

I don’t play video games, but I felt there was something exciting about how a person could be immersed in the world of a video game. With comics the reader isn’t an active participant in the storytelling. I wanted to make a comic that, in it’s own way, achieve some feeling of participation and immersion. I was looking for interactivity of some kind.

I had not seen a “first-person shooter” style of comic before. It turned out to be very exciting approach to storytelling. I was constantly trying to figure out new ways for the reader to feel like they were interacting with the characters and become characters in the story as well. I made some decisions along the way; to never show the reader’s “character” such as in a mirror. I didn’t want the reader to talk with a word balloon. I felt those things would break the illusion. It was tricky to work with those constraints, but such a fun challenge.

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SDCC ’11 | Guy Delisle, D&Q travel to Jerusalem

No sooner does The Comics Reporter’s Tom Spurgeon return from hiatus (welcome back, Tom!) than he breaks news of an exciting, and potentially controversial, new comic from Drawn & Quarterly: Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City, the latest in cartoonist Guy Delisle’s series of graphic memoirs-slash-travelogues. Why controversial, you ask? Because Delisle’s travelogues have all chronicled everyday life under infamously repressive regimes — North Korea in Pyongyang, China in Shenzhen, and “Myanmar” in Burma Chronicles. I have a feeling that many people won’t feel super comfortable with Israel keeping that sort of company. On the other hand, the book takes place in part during the three-week Gaza War that resulted in a 1100-plus-to-13 Palestinian-to-Israeli death ratio, so perhaps even Israel supporters could concede that the war-is-hell harshness of this conflict is in keeping with Delisle’s past efforts.

The book is due in Spring 2012, with an initial first printing of 30,000 copies. Click the link for more details, including what publisher and editor-in-chief Chris Oliveros has to say about the project.

Six by 6 | Six noteworthy debut comics

Good-Bye Chunky Rice

Cartoonists rarely produce great work right out of the starting gate. It usually it takes lots of time and lots of effort for an artist to hone their style and storytelling abilities. Debut comics — even those made by the greats — rarely offer any indication of what type of treasures lie ahead. Even Chris Ware had to make Floyd Farland before he could produce Jimmy Corrigan.

Still, sometimes a cartoonist seems to spring out of the sea foam fully formed, producing a work that not only draws attention and great buzz, but also indicates exactly where they’re headed — what direction they plan to take as an artist and what you as a reader can expect from them.

Here then, are six debut comics that made people go “Who the heck is this guy? And why haven’t I heard of him before?” I’m sure I missed someone. I always do. Be a dear and let me know who I forgot in the comments section, won’t you?

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Robot Reviews | Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths

Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths

Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths
by Shigeru Mizuki
Drawn and Quarterly, 368 pages, $24.95.

Disclaimer: At the request of the publisher, I wrote a letter of recommendation when they were applying for a grant from a nonprofit organization to aid in the publication and promotion of this book.

Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths is nothing less than a spit in the face of militarism, war and feudal attitudes. It is an angry book, but it doesn’t shriek its indignation, though the temptation certainly seems to be there. There are few histrionics on display or scenes of outright, explicit condemnation. Rather, the book is content to let the general inhumanity on display speak for itself.

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Comics College | Joe Sacco

Safe Area Gorazde: Special Edition

Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.

This month we’re examining the bibliography of one of the more interesting and significant cartoonists to come out of the alt-comix movement of the 1980s and ’90s, Joe Sacco.

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Robot reviews: Paying for It

Paying for It

Paying for It
by Chester Brown
Drawn & Quarterly, 272 pages, $24.95.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Paying for It, Chester Brown’s latest graphic novel, is an autobiographical work in the same vein as his seminal books The Playboy and I Never Liked You. You’d be forgiven but you’d be wrong. Despite what surface appearances might suggest, the book’s autobiographical and personal elements are in service to its larger goals, which is to serve a polemic. A polemic whose ultimate message is: “Prostitution is really, really awesome.”

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What Are You Reading?

Wolverine Noir #1

Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading, our weekly look at whatever books, comics or cereal boxes we happen to be reading at the moment. JK Parkin is on vacation for the next week, so I’ll be your host until he gets back.

Our guest this week is Vancouver artist Jason Copland, who has contributed to the Perhapanauts series and currently draws the online comic Kill All Monsters (which is written, of course, by our own Michael May)

To see what Jason and the rest of the crew are reading, click below.

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Comics College | Seth

George Sprott 1894-1975

Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.

This month we’re going to take a look at the bibliography of the Canadian cartoonist called Gregory Gallant, better known to you and me as simply Seth.

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Creator Q&A: Joe Ollmann confronts his ‘Mid-Life’


Unless you follow the small-press or Canadian cartooning scenes very closely, there’s a good chance you haven’t heard of Joe Ollmann before now. He’s been somewhat on the peripheries of the industry for a few years, though he’s won acclaim for short story collections like This Will All End in Tears. I suspect his star will rise considerably however, with this week’s release of his excellent  Mid-Life, Ollman’s first graphic novel, courtesy of Drawn & Quarterly.

The book follows John, an all-too self-aware middle aged dad (and fictional stand-in for Ollmann himself), who, while working on his second marriage and raising a toddler son, finds himself growing ever so slightly obsessed with Sherri Smalls, the children’s entertainer his young child currently enjoys watching and listening to. The book then switches perspectives between John, as his obsession grows and he attempts to find an excuse to head to New York and “interview” the object of his infatuation, and Smalls herself as she mulls over signing a lucrative TV contract and wonders why she’s been so unlucky in love up till now.

Hilarious in that way that only good, sharply observed, cringe-inducing comedy can, Mid-Life suggests that Ollmann has a long and laudable career ahead of him. I talked to him over email about the book, the trick of blending autobiography into fictional material and the perils of parenting. Despite my barrage of personal and potentially embarrassing questions, he remained polite and thoughtful throughout, for which I am tremendously grateful.

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Comics College | John Stanley

Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.

This month we’re looking at the career of a Golden Age artist who’s undergone a bit of a rediscovery and renaissance lately, John Stanley. Continue Reading »

A look at Brecht Evens’ Night Animals

Do you like comics with gorgeous colors, hot sex scenes, and all-too-relatable scenes in which twenty-something urbanites go to crazy nightclubs and lousy parties? Then Belgian cartoonist Brecht Evens’ The Wrong Place may be right book for you. The Drawn & Quarterly release took a lot of readers and critics by storm at the tail end of 2010 with both its incisive writing and innovative use of color as a storytelling mechanism. (You can read my interview with Evens about the book by clicking this link.)

In just a couple months, Evens will be back with a book about a very different kind of night life. Slated for a March release from Top Shelf, Night Animals — an earlier work than The Wrong Place — was described to me by Evens as a walk on the Where the Wild Things Are side. It contains two wordless tales about seemingly normal people who get caught up in a world of wild wonder (and, perhaps, danger) among the creatures beyond the city limits. While the drawing style is more traditional than The Wrong Place‘s all-watercolors approach, it’s just as lush and inviting, and the color washes are just as vibrant and emotionally freighted. Meanwhile, the stories themselves show that Evens is just as adept at fairy tales and fables as he is at lousy parties and awesome one-night stands. Good stuff.

And courtesy of Leigh Walton and the fine folks at Top Shelf, here’s an eight-page preview of the book. Unleash the animal within, folks!

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What Are You Reading?

Batgirl #17

Welcome to a long holiday weekend (at least here in the United States) edition of What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is Doug Zawisza, who writes reviews and the occasional article for Comic Book Resources.

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

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