Luke Cage History: From Hero for Hire to Hollywood
TV, Comic Books
Ethan Nicolle struck an unlikely hit with Axe Cop, a webcomic based on the rambling stories told by his then 5-year-old brother Malachai that became an Internet sensation. Comic sites that normally wouldn’t report on webcomics made an exception for Axe Cop; it took home a couple of awards in 2011 (and Eagle Award and a Shel Dorf Award, both in the webcomic category). Fox began airing an adaptation Axe Cop in 2013 as part of its light-night animation block, with Parks & Recreation‘s Nick Offerman voicing the title character. There was a nagging sense, however, that some day Ethan was going to move on to something else, the novelty would wear off, and Malachai would probably get tired of it.
And thus, Bearmageddon, with its totally metal logo, which features an octopus bear and a bat bear. Initially, it looks like it could be yet another webcomic in the Axe Cop vein, dealing with random humor. But then … think about it: This is no Night of the Lepus situation where the world is overtaken by giant bunny rabbits. If the world were really swarmed by bears, it would be pretty flippin’ terrifying.
Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra, California, most recently featured on ROBOT 6 for its “Little Golden Tales” exhibit, is playing host on Saturday to “Making a Living With Your Webcomics,” a four-hour event featuring Jason Brubaker, Travis Hanson and Ethan Nicolle.
Brubaker, who works for DreamWorks Animation, raised more than $125,000 through Kickstarter to publish his two-volume reMind; Hanson, creator of The Bean, raised more than $12,000 in the first 36 hours of his Kickstarter campaign for Tanner Jones and the Quest for the Monkey Stone; and Nicolle is the co-creator of Axe Cop, the hit webcomic turned animated series.
The seminar costs $80 for the 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. workshop and 3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Q&A seminar. Admission to the 4 p.m. signing session is free.
As part of its upfront presentations Monday in New York City, Fox screened a new trailer for Axe Cop, an adaptation of the hit webcomic by brothers Malachai Nicolle and Ethan Nicolle premiering July 27 as part of the network’s new late-night animated programming block.
If you’ve read the source material, or watched any of the previous teasers, you pretty much know what you’re in for with Axe Cop, although this trailer features Parks and Recreation‘s Nick Offerman offering some wisdom for the ages: “I want you to listen very carefully: There is something even better than friends — killing the guy who killed your friends.”
Part of Animation Domination High-Def, Axe Cop also features the voice talents of Megan Mullally, Patton Oswalt, Ken Marino and Peter Serafinowicz. ADHD premieres Saturday, July 27 at 11 p.m. ET/PT.
Awards | The National Cartoonists Society initiated a webcomics award last year, and this year the organization is splitting it in two, one for short-form works and one for long-form. The challenge with including webcomics, says NCS President Tom Richardson, is that to be eligible, creators must make the majority of their money from cartooning. “That isn’t an easy thing to quantify anymore. With online comics, we need to take into account site traffic, professionalism in consistent and regular publication, online community activity and other factors that are the hallmark of professional online work,” he says. “In some cases, it’s pretty obvious the creator is making a career out of cartooning. In some, it’s not so obvious.” [Comic Riffs]
Publishing | The 65th volume of Eiichiro Oda’s pirate manga One Piece has sold more than 3 million copies in Japan in less than two months, beating the two previous volumes to that goal. No other manga has sold that many copies so quickly since the market research firm Oricon began releasing sales figures in April 2008. [Anime News Network]
Comic strips | After 33 years on the comics page, Nicole Hollander’s Sylvia is hanging up her cigarette and typewriter and calling it a day. Hollander is upfront about the reason: “After the Chicago Tribune dropped Sylvia, my income was cut by half and Sylvia disappeared from my hometown. I felt the loss.” She will continue to post vintage Sylvia strips on her blog. [Bad Girl Chats]
Hello and welcome to a special birthday bash edition of our weekly “What Are You Reading” feature. Typically the Robot 6 crew talks about what books we’ve read recently, but since it’s our anniversary, we thought we’d invite all our friends and colleagues from Comic Book Resources and Comics Should Be Good! to join in the fun.
To see what everyone has been reading, click below …
If you’re a fan of Ethan Nicolle’s work on the two volumes of Chumble Spuzz published by SLG Publishing or the webcomic he does with his little brother, Axe Cop, then you might like to know that he’s writing and drawing another webcomic, Bearmageddon, with colorist Noah Maas.
The comic launched back in August and updates twice a week, so it won’t take long to get caught up if you start reading from the beginning. The story is about a group of friends heading out on a camping trip around the same time as the discovery of Octobear, a bear with octopus-like tentacles, in the city’s sewers, as well as a rise in bear attacks. Play foreboding music here …
Bearmageddon is a finite story and Nicolle has an ending in mind, with plans to follow it with a print collection. It ought to be a fun ride along the way.
Publishing | Damien Lucchese, a production artist laid off last week by Marvel, explains why fans should not boycott the publisher over the layoffs: “What I’m trying to say is that I don’t want everyone to just see the MARVEL logo and think of a huge, top-heavy company, full of money hungry suits that make poor decisions (in some peoples’ opinions). That’s not what MARVEL is and there are still people working very hard (even harder now), day after day to put out comics for people to enjoy.” [Blog@Newsarama]
Digital piracy | Jim Mroczkowski posts his third interview with a digital pirate; as in the first two episodes, what comes through is that social pressures and one-upmanship have a lot to do with it. Also, piracy is expensive for the pirates, who usually buy the comics they scan—and often don’t even read them. [iFanboy]
The T-shirt site Threadless has released a third round of “Comics on Tees” on their website, featuring the work of Becky Cloonan, Ethan Nicolle, J.R. Goldberg and Jhonen Vasquez, who wrote the four “issues” this time around.
This is the third “volume” of comic shirts from Threadless. The first volume featured artwork by Jill Thompson, Cliff Chiang, Tony Moore and Art Baltazar, while volume two featured Eduardo Risso, Lee Bermejo, Matheus Lopes and Dave Johnson, with a story by Brian Azzarello.
You can buy all four of the volume three shirts as a set for $79 or individually for $20 each. You can find artwork for all four shirts after the jump.
Publishing | In a wide-ranging interview with retail news and analysis site ICv2, Dark Horse CEO Mike Richardson discusses the state of the market, the potential impact of Borders’ bankruptcy, digital comics, the decline in manga sales, the success of Troublemaker and more. Of particular note is Richardson’s confirmation that Apple’s stricter enforcement of a prohibition on in-app purchases outside the iTunes store was behind the delay of the planned January launch of Dark Horse’s digital comics program. He also says that Frank Miller is working on the third issue of his 300 prequel Xerxes, which is expected to be “roughly six issues, but he hasn’t exactly decided yet.” [ICv2.com]
Publishing | Robot 6 contributor Brigid Alverson provides an overview of recent changes to BOOM! Studios’ kids’ line, from the loss of the Pixar licenses to a new imprint name — changed from BOOM! Kids to kaboom! — to the announcement this week of a Peanuts original graphic novel. “BOOM Kids! was designed to publish children’s comics — kaboom! is designed to be a true all-ages imprint, and for that reason Peanuts is the perfect launch title, the sort of material that adults and kids read alike,” CEO Ross Ritchie said. “Roger Langridge’s Snarked! is along these lines, as is Space Warped and Word Girl. I put the Word Girl announcement on my wall on Facebook and immediately there were a zillion adults commenting, ‘My child loves this show but I’m buying this comic book for myself!’ The title mix will be broader for kaboom! than it was for BOOM Kids!” [Publishers Weekly]
Broadway | The New York Times reports the producers of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark are considering delaying the $65 million musical for a sixth time, until as late as June, a move that would make the show ineligible for this year’s Tony Awards. Speculation about another possible postponement follows a wave of scathing reviews, reports that comics writer and playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa had been approached to rewrite the book, and the hiring of veteran conductor and musical supervisor Paul Bogaev to help improve the production. A spokesman for the show would only say that, “Opening night remains scheduled for March 15.” [ArtsBeat]
Comic-Con | Hotel reservations for Comic-Con International will open at 9 a.m. PT on March 9. A preliminary list of hotels included in the Comic-Con block is available on the convention website. [Comic-Con International]
In December of last year, brothers Ethan and Malachai Nicolle concocted Axe Cop and posted the first five episodes as webcomics in January 2010. A mixture of factors–including being declared Entertainment Weekly‘s Site of the Day as well asa deluge of Tweets (as well as getting praised by Robot 6’s Sean T. Collins of course)–allowed the buzz to build on the webcomic fairly quickly. The stories (aptly described by Dark Horse as “We live in a strange world, and our strange problems call for strange heroes. That’s why Axe Cop–along with his partner Flute Cop and their pet T. rex Wexter–is holding tryouts to build the greatest team of heroes ever assembled.”) were collected and released by Dark Horse in Axe Cop Volume 1 last week. For those who have not heard about Axe Cop before, I kind of buried my lead regarding Ethan’s co-creator and brother: Malachai is six years old. I recently email interviewed Ethan about the collected edition and the creative process to date as well as going forward, including the three-issue Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth miniseries that launches in March 2011.
Tim O’Shea: It’s clear that you are careful to make sure your co-creator/six-year-old brother Malachai enjoys the creative experience and does not get burned out. How hard is it to involve him in the process while at the same time not burdening him?
Ethan Nicolle: I simply have to work at his pace. If he is burdened he simply will not write… he is not like writers in comics or in Hollywood who are writing to try to put food on the table. In fact thing he is kind of weirded out that I am still asking him “so then what happens?” a year later. He is just playing, and if it doesn’t feel like play, his short attention span will switch him to something else in an instant. Since most of our writing is done on the phone, I have to wait until he has some inspiration (usually after he has seen a movie or cartoon or has not noticed an update on the site recently). For the Bad Guy Earth series I actually went and spent an entire month with him writing it in person, and it was all based on a month of actual play time together doing fake car chases in my car, in his room playing with toy dinosaurs and going to the playground. I just kept bringing our narrative back into the playtime. He will say “we need to work, Ethan” but that’s him saying “let’s play”. The word work means play to Malachai. He is learning early why so many people want to be writers and comic artists.
One of this year’s biggest webcomics success stories is Axe Cop, the webcomic created by five-year-old Malachai Nicolle and his older brother Ethan. Arriving Dec. 22 is the first Axe Cop collection, published by Dark Horse, who were kind enough to send out some preview pages today. If you’ve been wondering why the axe-wielding cop never married, well, you’ll find that answer on the last page.
Which is a good excuse to point out that the Nicolle brothers are having a big Christmas sale over in the Axe Shop, where you can find prints, shirts and more.
Check out preview pages and the solicitation text after the jump.
It was not even nine months ago that a brand-new webcomic called Axe Cop went viral within days of its creation, thanks in large part to its irresistible high-concept creative team: 29-year-old cartoonist Ethan Nicolle drawing the crazy action-adventure ideas of his 5-year-old kid brother Malachai. But I recently had occasion to read the entire strip in one sitting in preparation for a freelance assignment, and I was struck by how well the thing holds up long after you’ve gotten over the “haha that’s a great idea”-ness of it all. Nicolle the Elder’s art is uniformly kinetic, cartoony, and lovely, while Nicolle the Younger is obviously years away from running out of ideas for Axe Cop and his crew of very weird superheroes (or hitting middle school, for that matter). No wonder Dark Horse is releasing a collected edition this Christmas.
Anyway, the strip is still going strong, and this week it’s tipping its cop hat to All Hallow’s Eve with “The Night Monster”, a four-part saga of creatures who live in outer space in hopes of catching “space babies.” Yeah, it’s already wonderful, isn’t it? Check it out, and be sure to tune in for the remaining installments!
Twitter has given us some good things — breaking news from Iran, Tom Brevoort — and some bad things — celebrity death hoaxes, #nowthatsghetto. Yesterday, it served as the social-media equivalent of Paul Revere, spreading word of a new webcomic called Axe Cop to every nerd and geek village and farm.
What’s so special about Axe Cop, you ask? Well, it’s an action-adventure series about a superheroic cop armed with an axe, joined by his partner, a half-man/half-avocado who used to be a half-man/half-dinosaur who used to be a cop who used a flute for a weapon. It’s illustrated by Ethan Nicolle, the Eisner-nominated writer-artist of SLG’s Chumble Spuzz.
And oh, yeah, it’s written by Nicolle’s five-year-old kid brother Malachai.
One look at its genuinely childlike imagination, action and sense of humor — my favorite bit is when a guitar-wielding supervillain called Bad Santa is defeated when another character gains his powers and becomes Good Bad Santa — seems to have been all it took for the twitterati to get hooked, no doubt recalling all their own afternoons spent making up stories and playing hero in backyards and basements. Indeed, the site has been fairly groaning under the collective interest of the Internet; it was completely down last night, and the strip’s image loading has slowed to a crawl as of this writing.
The elder Nicolle has been blogging about the strip’s literally overnight, Twitter-driven success, providing a unique in-the-moment document of a webcomic “making it.” (I did my part by reviewing it on my other blog.) Hopefully he’ll be able to shore up the infrastructure so that you too can thrill to the adventures of the coolest mustachioed hero since pre-goatee Tony Stark.