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Dustin Harbin’s tribute to Dylan Williams

Cartoonist Dustin Harbin posted a tribute comic for the late Sparkplug Comic Books publisher Dylan Williams today, and it’s a fitting tribute indeed.

Harbin’s point is that Williams created a publishing house designed to make the kinds of comics he wanted to see a reality, so that thinking about his death is as much thinking about the presence of comics he brought into the world as it is about the absence of the man himself. And with the welcome news that Sparkplug will be continuing under the auspices of Williams’ wife Emily Nilsson, his friend Tom Neely, and his colleague Virginia Paine, it looks like that aspect of his legacy will continue to be honored.

RoboCop vs. Transformers (vs. Harbin vs. Hanawalt)!

With the San Diego Comic-Con just days behind us, I guess there’s enough nerd culture in the air to permeate the brains even of comics folk who don’t make a living off capes and cowls. How else to explain the near simultaneous salutes to science-fiction cinema from two of alternative comics’ most talented draftspeople, Dustin Harbin and Lisa Hanwalt?

First up, Diary cartoonist and Casanova letterer Dustin Harbin brings us “The Faces of RoboCop,” a 16-panel portrait of the cast of Paul Verhoeven’s Detroit-dystopia sci-fi satire. I’m particularly fond of “Psycho That ’70s Dad,” but you’ll have to click the link to see him. I’d buy that for a dollar! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Next, I Want You cartoonist and Pizza Island member Lisa Hanawalt reviews Michael Bay’s Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon in words and pictures. It’s a harrowing, heartbreaking, ultimately uplifting tale of human perseverance in the face of adversity and atrocity — I’m talking about the review, not the movie. (Oh God, definitely not the movie.) It also features the best portrait of Rosie Huntington-Whitley ever drawn. Chewy indeed!

What Are You Reading? with George O’Connor

The Incal

Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading. JK Parkin is off in San Diego trying to get that Elvis Stormtrooper’s autograph, so I’ll be your host today. Our special guest this week is George O’Connor.

O’Connor is probably best known as the author of the ongoing Olympians series of graphic novels, which attempt to retell classic Greek myths (the latest, Hera, just came out from First Second). He’s also the author of such books as Journey Into Mowhawk Country and the children’s picture book Kapow, as well as the artist of Ball Peen Hammer, which was written by Adam Rapp.

To see what George and the rest of the Robot 6 crew have been reading …

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FLUKE 2011: A Collective Perspective

FLUKE 2011 at 40 Watt (Photo: Dustin Harbin)

This marks the third year I have covered FLUKE for Robot 6. In past years, I was pressed for time and was unable to stay long. This year, my 11-year-old son was able to join me. As a Georgia native, I am embarrassed to say FLUKE 2011 was the first time I ever set foot in the legendary 40 Watt Club. I promised myself that unlike last year, I would not leave FLUKE without seeing Joey Weiser. It helped that the main reason my son wanted to attend FLUKE was to get an autograph from Weiser, the creator of one of his favorite comics, Mermin.

Here’s the challenge for someone like me–I stink at being a networking journalist and a parent at the same time–my ability to focus as a journalist falls by the wayside. Case in point: In my search for Weiser, I asked friend of the blog/SCAD professor/Crogan Adventures creator Chris Schweizer–as he stood in front of Dustin Harbin’s table, if he knew where Weiser had a table. Imagine my mortification when Schewizer pointed out I was literally standing next to Weiser. Really. So, at that point I realized, if my son and I were going to have fun at this year’s FLUKE I was going to have to focus on that and be a journalist later. (Did I mention we could only stay two hours? I swear one of these year’s I will have my entire Saturday free for FLUKE promise, just not yet…)

So this year, rather than giving a play-by-play of my walk-around of the FLUKE floor, I am letting folks that had tables at FLUKE 2011 share their perspective.

There was no way I could include everyone, so if you attended or participated in some fashion (or have any kind of opinion), by all means chime in, in the comments section.

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Comics A.M. | Two plead guilty to selling fake Comic-Con badges

Comic-Con International

Legal | Two Los Angeles men accused of selling counterfeit passes to this year’s Comic-Con International have pleaded guilty to theft and were placed on probation for three years. Farhad Lame and Navid Vatankhahan, both 24, were each ordered to pay a $750 fine, complete 10 days of community service and pay restitution to the victims.

Prosecutors say the two photocopied Comic-Con badges and sold them on Craigslist to people looking for last-minute memberships. They were arrested in July after two of their victims attempted to enter the convention using the counterfeit badges, which the women bought for $120 each. [The San Diego Union-Tribune]

Technology | Tech blog Chip Chick names DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson as one of its “Top 13 Women Who Impacted Technology in 2010.” [Chip Chick]

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What Are You Reading?

Changing Ways

Welcome to this week’s edition of What Are You Reading?, and a big thanks to Chris Mautner for helping out last week.

Our special guest this week is Larry Young, AiT/Planet Lar publisher and one of the editors behind the Kickstart Comics. To see what Larry and the rest of the Robot 6 crew have been reading, make with the click below …

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Talking Comics with Tim | Dustin Harbin

Diary Comics 1

Diary Comics 1

Dustin Harbin is a cartoonist who considers his craft and the comics industry from a pragmatic vantage point. I say pragmatic, because, to be perfectly honest, the first few questions I fired at Harbin were skewed a tad negative, completely on my end. I think it’s to his credit that rather than going the easy, negative or defensive routes, he offered nuanced, yet candid responses to my questions. We dispensed with those questions fairly quickly and from there got into the meat of why I wanted to talk to him: his ongoing work as letterer of the relaunched Matt Fraction/Gabriel Ba & company’s Casanova (Icon/Issue 4 set to come out on October 13) as well as his own Diary Comics #1 (Koyama Press) [48 pgs | b&w w/ color covers, endpapers {$6 ($10 w/sketch)}], which premiered at SPX. Harbin describes Diary Comics 1 as “this–THIS!–is your opportunity to splash on in to six months of one dull dude’s life, as originally seen in the daily DHARBIN! diary comic. Covering topics including girls, dharbins, other girls, more dharbins, depressions, some conventions, more depressions, tons more dharbins, AND MUCH MORE!!” On the con front, Harbin will be at APE this month (October 16-17), then BCGF in Brooklyn in December. My thanks to Harbin for indulging my questions.

Tim O’Shea: Is it me, or judging by recent tweets, are you pulling the kid gloves off in terms of your opinions since you are no longer a HeroesCon official?

Dustin Harbin: Haha, well while not being part of the public face of something besides myself DOES free me a little bit opinion-wise, I think I’ve always been fairly vocal about my disgust with some of the crappier blog sites out there. Not working for HeroesCon just means that I don’t have to worry about it reflecting on Shelton Drum. That dude is super-friendly, he would never publicly run something down, he’s too classy, unlike me.

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Get Dharbin’ed!

By Dustin Harbin

The above is a pipin’ hot new strip from cartoonist Dustin Harbin. Harbin, who recently left his job working for Sheldon Drum’s Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find comic store and companion comic convention HeroesCon, has embarked on a full-time career in comics writing, drawing and lettering — the latter seen in the pages of the Marvel/Icon edition of Casanova. I hope this lands him a stint on Superman — seriously.

Quote of the day | Dustin Harbin vs. small-press comic cons

Don't mess with Dharbin

Don't mess with Dharbin

“I can’t BELIEVE MoCCA’s table prices. They are drinking the same hubris Kool-Aid as SPX. Why are the charity shows always the cheekiest? I saw it and I was like *slaps head*. Although to be fair, I’ve never exhibited there, just been a crowded hot attendee. (I read some interviews with them after the super hot year, they were all like ‘hey listen, it’s summer, it gets hot.’) Not to mention how expensive NYC is in general! Just makes it easier to skip. Also today I got my acceptance letter (???) for APE, after applying 3 months ago. Due date for payment: 1 week from now. I had always heard about how well-run HeroesCon is from guests, but now I see why. Indie shows are organized like block parties. Except the kind of block parties where they charge you like $50 to come in, then charge you for beer too. ‘Dude it’s for charity!’ SPX is pretty fun, but TCAF is the best one easily–plus Toronto = my favorite city! Wait, please exclude TCAF from that mini-rant. TCAF is a dream, a dreammmm. Other shows take note! Okay back to lettering, sorry.”

Cartoonist, Casanova letterer, and “nicest guy in comics” candidate Dustin Harbin has an uncharacteristically grumpy moment on Twitter over the prices that the MoCCA Art Festival is charging exhibitors, and the administration of indie/alt-comics shows generally (except TCAF, of course). It’s hard out there for a minicomics creator.

What Are You Reading?

Afrodisiac cover

Afrodisiac cover

Welcome once again to What Are You Reading? Our guest this week is Van Jensen, writer of Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer and Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer and the Great Puppet Theater. To see what Van and the rest of the Robot 6 crew are reading, click below.

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What are you excited about for 2010? Part 1

Over the last couple of weeks Tim O’Shea and I have been reaching out to various folks around the comics industry, asking them one simple question: What are you excited about for 2010? We asked them to mention something they were anticipating, as a fan, and also something they were working on (if, of course, it wasn’t top secret). So we’re ending today with the first of three of these round-ups; watch for the other two to be posted sometime tomorrow.

Jeff Parker

Lava Men!

Lava Men!

I’m excited by a NEW GRAPHIC NOVEL from Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover that is coming out from Top Shelf this year, that I don’t think I can name because they haven’t formally announced it yet. But really, those two names and a full length work should be all you need to hear to know I’m right.

What I’m most excited about that I’m involved with comes out in just a few weeks, it’s AVENGERS VS. ATLAS from Marvel, where I think my collaborators Gabriel Hardman, Elizabeth Breitweiser and I have really gelled. Even if you’ve never read an Agents of Atlas story, I bet you’ll enjoy seeing the original lineup of The Avengers back on the scene.

Or you’ll at least want in for the LAVA MEN.

Jeff Parker writes a whole bunch of great comics for Marvel, including all the Agents of Atlas projects and Thunderbolts. He also helped us out last year with our Robot Love posts at Valentine’s, in a post titled I ♥ learning from comics. Tim O’Shea also interviewed him about Underground earlier this year, along with artist Steve Lieber.

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And the award for comics’ Tweeter of the Year goes to…

His comics ain't so bad either

His comics ain't so bad either

Brian Michael Bendis! At least according to Samuel Rules of Are You a Serious Comic Book Reader? In a post stuffed with evidentiary linkage, Sammy proclaims “No one used Twitter better in 2009 than Bendis,” citing the Siege writer’s honesty and humor, as well as the “little insights into his life” he provided. “I used to talk a lot of trash on him,” Sammy recalls — “Upon discovering his Twitter, however, I started to understand him as a person, and then kinda wanted to hang out with him.”

Which got me thinking: Who would I proclaim comics’ Twitter-er…Twit…uh, Tweeter of the year?

Would I stick with Bendis, for his informative Q&A alone?

What about Matt Fraction, for his performance-art masterpiece Hobo Darkseid?

Michael Kupperman, for a consistently hilarious feed that’s like reading Tales Designed to Thrizzle in pictureless 140-character snippets?

Paul Pope, for his philosophical musings?

Kate Beaton and Dustin Harbin, the dynamic duo of Tweeting webcartoonists?

Ryan “Agent M” Penagos, for having more followers than the rest of the comics industry combined?

But then I remembered the one man whose Twitter account impacted my life, or at least the blogging side of it, more than anyone else. For my money, no one tops the ever-interesting, refreshingly candid Tom Brevoort. Why, just the other day he took to his feed to breathe a sigh of relief about Captain America: Reborn finishing before The Flash: Rebirth as he predicted, size up his chances regarding Siege finishing before Blackest Night, criticize Rebirth artist Ethan Van Sciver for drawing convention commissions while his book is delayed, and defend Reborn artist Bryan Hitch from accusations of habitual lateness. Can you imagine if everyone in comics were that forthright? I can, and it looks like heaven from here. Tweetin’ Tom Brevoort, we salute you!

Paul Pope, Dustin Harbin do Dune

Dune art by Paul Pope

Dune art by Paul Pope

Cartoonist and Heroes Con creative director Dustin Harbin is obviously a comics guy. But even for sequential-art partisans, every once in a while the literary spice must flow. Thus Harbin has created the Dune book club, a weekly discussion of the original science-fiction classic by author Frank Herbert, hosted on Harbin’s blog. In addition to thought-provoking posts and comment-thread chats about the book, which Harbin calls “probably my favorite novel ever,” the book club is also something of an art club, with Harbin, Paul Pope, Patrick Keck, Peter Lazarski, Pen Ward, Thomas “Smo” Smolenski, and Evan Dahm all providing luscious comics and stand-alone illustrations based on the book. (Pope, another big-time Dune devotee, had already drawn a scene from the book in the style of a Wednesday Comics page.) Personally, I’m waiting for someone to take a crack at a sandworm.

Talking Comics with Tim: Dustin Harbin–the Sequel Interview

Dustin Harbin

Dustin Harbin

A few months back when I interviewed Dustin Harbin regarding this year’s HeroesCon, I made a mental note to follow-up with Harbin in another interview, where we could just discuss his creative projects/process. This interview was conducted via email several weeks back. Late last week, Harbin let me know that while he’s remaining as Creative Director at Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find and Heroes Convention, he will be reducing his hours at the store and has “gone full-time with cartooning”. My thanks to Harbin for another interview, I’m happy to say this one was even more fun than the last.

Tim O’Shea: How much are you paying Tom Spurgeon to pimp your work? Seriously, Spurgeon praises many talented storytellers, but he seems to be your number one fan. Did you buy him a lot of meals when he came to HeroesCon in 2008 or what?

Dustin Harbin: I remember having to argue with Tom just to be able to bring him a water: I tried hard to buy him a drink at the hotel bar, but he was leery of my seductive ways. I think Tom is like a lot of us–he’s a passionate advocate for people he thinks deserve wider recognition. I’m not basing this just on the very VERY kind attention he’s showed my comics so far, but he’s the reason I discovered Richard Thompson’s work, who you’ll agree Tom is an even more vociferous a supporter of. I don’t know what attracted Tom’s good feelings, but I’m incredibly grateful for them.

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