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Food or Comics? | Dark Horse preserves

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.

West Coast Avengers: Lost in Space-Time

Graeme McMillan

It’s not even a fifth week, but I find myself curiously distanced from this week’s releases for some reason. Outside of some books I’ve been reading for awhile, there’s little to really catch my eye, so if I had $15, I’d likely find myself buying Dark Horse Presents #10 (Dark Horse, $7.99) and Memorial #4 (IDW, $3.99), and being quite happy with those two books.

If I had $30, I might go back to Justice League with #7 (DC, $3.99); I wasn’t entirely convinced by the opening arc, but I found myself enjoying the Pandora back-up in #6 enough that I found myself more curious about sticking around than I would’ve expected. I’d also grab Legion of Super-Heroes #7 (DC, $2.99), another book I’ve found myself liking more than I initially thought, as well as Thunderbolts #171 (Marvel, $2.99) for one of the few, final times before it becomes a part of the Avengers family.

Splurging, oddly, is a much easier choice for me than what I’d get in single issues: Avengers: West Coast Avengers – Lost In Space-Time (Marvel, $34.99) collects some of the first issues of West Coast Avengers that I read way back when, launching a love affair with Steve Englehart’s writing that continues to this day. Those original issues are long since lost to history (Somewhat fittingly, considering the time travel subject matter), so this will be a welcome nostalgia trip for me.

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Evan Dorkin asks, ‘What are the box office bombs of comics?’

Acclaim's sequel to Kevin Costner's "Waterworld"

In the wake of the lackluster performance of Disney’s John Carter movie at the box office earlier this month, cartoonist Evan Dorkin uses that sometimes-comic character to look back on his home medium and ask what would be the comics equivalent. Phrasing it as only he can, Dorkin asks in a blog post, “What are the ‘Holy shit, we spent a lot of money and published this comic book and no one bit’ titles out there?”

While Dorkin notes that comics makes only a small percentage of what the movie industry makes every year, he does stress that most comics have trouble breaking even. His question is which ones had an exorbitant budget that the publisher didn’t recoup in the slightest.

In the long and engaging post, Dorkin describes superhero comics akin to B-movies, saying, “There’s a built-in audience and the publishers generally know what they’re gonna get when they put something out. And by and large, they don’t fork over a ton of dough to the creators or spend a wad on pre-production figuring out what they’re doing.”

Another point I’d add to Dorkin’s question that makes finding an answer even more difficult is how secretive comic publishers are about their budgets and sales figures compared to to movie studios. While publishers are quick to shoot off press releases about comics “selling out,” no major publishing house releases figures the way movie box office figures are put on display every week. Because the general public and even the journalists covering the industry don’t have accurate figures about the money spent and the money earned on a comic, only the publishers know–and they’re not telling. But that’s an entirely separate discussion.

In the comments section, some of Dorkin’s readers chime in with potential examples like the 90s Valiant/Image crossover Deathmate, DC’s War Of The Gods crossover and certain publishers as a whole like Crossgen and Tekno. What do you think?

Evan Dorkin brings House of Fun to Dark Horse Presents

Dark Horse will serialize new work by Evan Dorkin in three issues of its Dark Horse Presents anthology beginning with March’s Issue 10.

Called House of Fun, the comic will serve as a venue for Dorkin to revisit some of his older concepts, including Murder Family, The Eltingville Comic Book, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Role-Playing Club, and, yes, Milk and Cheese. Each eight-page installment will be colored by his wife and frequent collaborator Sarah Dyer.

“The idea was to bring back as many of my old characters and concepts from Milk and Cheese and Dork as possible, grouping it all under the new House of Fun name,” Dorkin explained on the publisher’s website. “I decided not to use Dork as a catchall title for these comics. I got sick of the name a long time ago and this relaunch felt a good opportunity to finally retire it. […] This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time now. The last issue of Dork came out in 2006 and it’s been even longer since I worked on an Eltingville or Murder Family strip. I’m excited to be working on my own stuff again, I’m having a lot of fun making these comics, and I hope folks will have fun reading them. If not they can go suck an egg.”

Dark Horse Presents #10 goes on sale March 21.

Food or Comics? | A pre-Thanksgiving four-color feast

Wolverine and the X-Men

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.

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d get one from almost every box–Image’s Invincible #85 ($2.99), DC’s DMZ #71 ($2.99), Marvel’s Wolverine and The X-Men #2 ($3.99) and independent title RASL #12 ($3.50). Not much to say about any of these I haven’t already said, except anytime Cory Walker draws a book I’d pay twice cover price.

If I had $30, I’d sneak out of Thanksgiving preparations to first get a book I was surprised I liked as much as I did, despite the last issue’s ending: Shade #2 (DC, $2.99). One thing I wasn’t amped to see was Deathstroke, but given James Robinson and Cully Hammer’s track record I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Next up would be the epic (in my mind, at least) team-up of Warren Ellis and Michael Lark on Secret Avengers #19 (Marvel, $3.99). Seeing Ellis boil down the concept into “Run the mission. Don’t get seen. Save the world.” Hits me right between the eyes, and this new issue’s preview has be salivating over it. Last up, I’d pay the giant size price tag for Fantastic Four #600 (Marvel, $7.99) although my patience has worn a little thin with ending the series then bringing it back for #600.

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Milk and Cheese deluxe hardcover loaded with extras

Milk and Cheese

The release of Dark Horse’s latest round of solicitations last week revealed that Evan Dorkin’s humor comic Milk and Cheese will get the deluxe hardcover treatment, collecting “every single stupid Milk and Cheese comic ever made from 1989 to 2010, along with a sh*t-ton of supplemental awesomeness.”

On his LiveJournal, Dorkin revealed details on what the “supplemental awesomeness” will entail:

- The book will feature over 80 pages of comics that have not been collected before.
– There will be a 24-pg color section featuring all the color M&C strips, a cover gallery, pin-ups, merchandise art, trading cards, etc.
– There will also be a 24-pg B&W supplemental section featuring pin-ups, t-shirt designs, and other art, etc.
– The book will include the rare 1997 M&C Special Edition 16-pg mini-comic featuring the expanded “Darth Vader Overdrive” strip and extras.
– The only M&C-related comic that will not be in the collection is the M&C/Pirate Corp$! strip from Munden’s Bar Annual #2.
– Some very swell folks gave us some very nice back cover quotes.
– The book should be hefty enough to hurt anyone hit over the head with it.
– The book should be pretty freaking awesome.

The hardcover is due Dec. 21, just in time for Christmas.

Forget the movie — Dorkin & Thompson working on new Beasts of Burden comics

Yesterday’s announcement of a potential Beasts of Burden movie put a gleam into the eye of more than a few comic fans, but if that wasn’t enough, we have more good news: Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson are already working on more Beasts of Burden comics.

Prompted by the movie announcement, Dorkin took to his blog to give new details about new Beasts of Burden stories in his work. After last year’s crossover with Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, Dorkin & Thompson are reuniting for three standalone stories in upcoming issues of Dark Horse Presents, and they’re currently working out a schedule to do another limited series. Huzzah!

Dorkin & Thompson are no stranger to Hollywood-types taking notice of their work; Dorkin’s worked extensively for Cartoon Network, and Thompson’s Scary Godmother series was made into a string of animated films several years back.

HeroesCon Recap: Photo Essay

Rather than try to write a summary of my HeroesCon 2011 experience, I have opted this year to share as many photos as possible. My camera was out-of-commission yesterday so all photos were taken during the second day of the show (Saturday).

Jeff Parker and friends

Jeff Parker and friends

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Beasts of Burden, Macabre, Steranko coming to Dark Horse Presents

Dark Horse Presents #3

Dark Horse has posted several updates on their blog about upcoming content for the relaunched Dark Horse Presents anthology. As you can see on the cover above, the third issue will include a 13-page preview of Red Tide, “Jim Steranko’s crime-noir masterpiece.”

Issues #4, #6 and #8, meanwhile, will include Beasts of Burden stories by writer Evan Dorkin and artist Jill Thompson. “These new stories take place shortly after the events of the Hellboy crossover from last year, are self-contained, and can be easily followed by folks who haven’t read the previous comics,” Dorkin said. “I hope our regular readers will enjoy these stories—Jill’s painted artwork is as amazing as always, and there are character and background details dropped throughout the episodes that add to the overall story line we’ve been building.”

And finally, issue #4 will also include a new Criminal Macabre story by writer Steve Niles, artist Chris Mitten and colorist Michelle Madsen. “I can’t give away too much, but there are some major shocks coming for Cal fans,” Niles said. “Everything about Cal and his life is about to be whipped into a Hellish frenzy that would have the Devil himself on his heels. Plus it’s gonna be funny and I can’t say enough about Chris and Michelle’s work together. It’s perfect.”

Eric Powell enlists Evan Dorkin for an issue of The Goon

Crossovers are no uncommon thing in comics — but some are more strange than others. If you thought the recent Hellboy/Beasts of Burden one-shot was something, wait until you see what Evan Dorkin has planned next.

The Goon creator Eric Powell tweeted Wednesday that Dorkin will be coming in to work on his series. Described as one of Powell’s “funny book heroes,” Dorkin is stepping in to write The Goon #35, and Powell has even shared a peek at the cover. Dorkin, Powell and Carnies — It’ll be real interesting to see what Dorkin brings to the already off-kilter title.

My own personal opinion here, but I think Evan is very underused in comics — he did one of the best Deadpool stories ever in two issues of Agent X. If you’ve caught up on Dorkin’s major works, this little-known gem is definitely worth a look in your local store’s back issue bin!

Comics A.M. | Diamond closing L.A. center, DC shuffling online staff

Diamond Comic Distributors

Retailing | Diamond Comic Distributors has announced it will close its Los Angeles distribution center in March, with the facility in Olive Branch, Mississippi, taking over its functions. Regional Manager James Nash will relocate from L.A. to Olive Branch. There’s no word on how many jobs will be eliminated in the move, but ICv2 reports that “other staff has been encouraged to apply for positions in Olive Branch after their tenure in Los Angeles ends at the end of March.” [ICv2.com]

Publishing | Following Tuesday’s announcement that Ron Perazza has been named vice president of online for DC Entertainment comes word of two more additions to the department: DC Comics Online Editor Kwanza Johnson will be digital editor for DC Entertainment, and Technology Editor Dave McCullough will become director of online, both based in Burbank, Calif. The department will be headed by former WildStorm Vice President Hank Kanalz, who was promoted in October to senior vice president, digital. Heidi MacDonald also has a letter to freelancers from DC Vice President Terri Cunningham announcing that the Editorial Administration department will become Talent Relations & Services, which will remain in New York City. [Twitter, Twitter]

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Comics A.M. | Diamond plans digital service? Eisner judges named

Diamond Comic Distributors

Retailing | Rich Johnston confirms that Diamond Comic Distributors is developing a digital comics service that, in the words of a company representative, “will be entirely focused on driving sales of digital comic-related content through brick and mortar comic book specialty retailers.” No details were made available, but an official announcement is expected “in the near future.” In the meantime, Johnston gathers initial reactions from several retailers. [Bleeding Cool]

Publishing | Amit Desai, who has worked at Warner Bros. since 2004, has been named as DC Entertainment’s senior vice president, franchise management: “In his new role, Desai will develop and implement the individual franchise plans for Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, The Flash, MAD Magazine, Vertigo titles, and other DC properties. This will include driving wider cross-promotional support across all Time Warner divisions.” [press release]

Publishing | Alex Segura, former publicity manager at DC Comics, has been hired by Archie Comics as executive director of publicity and marketing. [press release]

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Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival unveils artist-packed programming schedule

Programming Director Bill Kartalopoulos has released the programming schedule for the upcoming 2nd annual Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, taking place on Saturday, Dec. 4 in Williamsburg, and it’s a doozy. Lynda Barry & Charles Burns and Françoise Mouly & Sammy Harkham will be paired off in panels that are perhaps the highlight of the show, while other spotlighted cartoonists include Golden Age artist Irwin Hasen (in conversation with Paul Pope, Evan Dorkin, and Dan Nadel) and Big Questions author Anders Nilsen, who drew the still-awesome poster you see above.

Check out the full schedule in the BCGF press release after the jump.

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Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs | The monster-hunting pets of Burden Hill

Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites

Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites
Written by Evan Dorkin; Illustrated by Jill Thompson
Dark Horse; $19.99

I know we’ve been talking a lot about comics for kids lately, so I’m going to give that a rest for a bit (except to point you to Nate Cosboom and Skottie Young’s latest thoughts on the subject). Fun and awesome comics don’t always have to be kid-appropriate. Beasts of Burden is an excellent example of that. Monster-hunting dogs and cats sounds particularly good for children, but not when the monsters are this scary. Your kids may be different from mine and more power to them if they are, but my eight-year-old would have nightmares if this was his bedtime reading. Doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy the hell out of it though.

As you may know, Beasts of Burden began as a recurring feature in the Dark Horse Book of… anthologies. There were four volumes – Book of Hauntings, Book of Witchcraft, Book of the Dead, and Book of Monsters – and one of the highlights of each was always Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson’s story about five dogs and a stray cat who get pulled deeper and deeper into the supernatural.

The Animal Rites collection includes those four stories as well as the four-issue Beasts of Burden mini-series. In the spirit of anthology tales, each of the eight stories stands by itself. There are no cliffhangers; no To Be Continueds. But there’s a larger story taking shape as the pets learn more and more about the paranormal and begin to figure out that the recent weirdness in their quiet, little, wooded community is being orchestrated by a single intelligence. What that intelligence is remains to be discovered by the end of Animal Rites, which is fine by me. There’s a slow build moving towards that revelation and I don’t want Dorkin and Thompson to rush it. Besides, I want more of these stories and it’s comforting to know that there are plans for that.
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Celebrate great radio and great comics with The Best Show on WFMU

Best Show on WFMU art by Michael Kupperman

Best Show on WFMU art by Michael Kupperman

Free-form radio is an awesome but endagered art form, but this week it’s getting a shot in the arm from one of the media’s few other real Wild Wests: comics. Creators Matt Fraction, Evan Dorkin, Michael Kupperman, Danny Hellman and Brian Musikoff are pitching in to raise money for New Jersey-based WFMU via an exclusive donor prize pack available through The Best Show on WFMU.

There’s really no way to adequately explain The Best Show, which airs at 8 p.m. Tuesdays on listener-supported WFMU and online. Its host, Monk and Tom Goes to the Mayor writer Tom Scharpling, describes it as “three hours of mirth, music and mayhem.” It’s part traditional call-in show, albeit with a legendarily cranky host and weird group of regular callers. It’s part showcase for indie rock and alternative comedy, with luminaries like Patton Oswalt, John Hodgman, Ted Leo, Tim and Eric, Paul F. Tompkins and Aimee Mann making regular appearances. But at its core it’s comedy in and of itself, courtesy of Scharpling’s partner, Superchunk and Mountain Goats drummer Jon Wurster, and the bizarre characters he concocts as callers to the show. Ranging from the hoagie-eating, Eagles-worshipping Philadelphia native Philly Boy Roy to a vicious send-up of Gene Simmons to an ultraviolent senior citizen called the Gorch who claims to be the inspiration for Happy Days‘ Fonzie, The Best Show‘s rogues gallery and their long, largely improvised not-quite-prank calls need to be heard to be believed. It’s sort of like a three-hour inside joke, but once you’re on the inside, it’s so funny you never wanna get back out.

Fraction (who’s a regular guest on the show), Dorkin, Kupperman, et al are all a part of The Best Show on WFMU 2010 Chump Steamroller Fun Pack,” a prize package available to donors who pledge $75 or more during tonight’s show. The Fun Pack includes a DVD starring Fraction, Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianakis, Tim and Eric, John Hodgman, Todd Barry, Yo La Tengo, Aimee Mann, Ted Leo and more. It also includes a set of Best Show Trading Cards designed by Chris Moses and Joe Allen, featuring art by Kupperman, Dorkin, Hellman, Musikoff and more. After tonight’s show is over, they’re gone forever, so be sure to pledge at 800-989-9368 or online at wfmu.org. In the words of The Best Show, “Good guys win — bad guys lose!”

Straight for the art | The Bridgewater, NJ, PBA Benefit Auction Gallery

Art by George Pérez, Evan Dorkin, Scott Kolins, Jim Cheung, and Mark Chiarello

Art by George Pérez, Evan Dorkin, Scott Kolins, Jim Cheung, and Mark Chiarello

Wow. Cartoonist Evan Dorkin, whose “Villains of Marvel” piece you can see above along with art by George Pérez, Scott Kolins, Jim Cheung, and Mark Chiarello, brings our attention to this killer selection of original art, soon to be auctioned off to benefit the Bridgewater, New Jersey, Policeman’s Benevolent Association #174.

In addition to the aforementioned artists, the auction gallery includes work by (deep breath) Mike Allred, Sergio Aragones, Brian Bolland, Mark Buckingham, Travis Charest, Howard Chaykin, Cliff Chiang, Frank Cho, Alan Davis, Terry Dodson, Juan Doe, David Finch, Matt Fraction, Bo Hampton, Scott Hampton, Tony Harris, Dean Haspiel, Stuart Immonen, Phil Jimenez, Michael Wm. Kaluta, Erik Larsen, Steve Lieber, Mike McKone, Steve McNiven, Terry Moore, Rags Morales, Dustin Nguyen, Michael Avon Oeming, Brandon Peterson, Ivan Reis, Paolo Rivera, Stan Sakai, Tim Sale, Walt Simonson, Joe Sinnott, Ryan Sook, Billy Tan, Philip Tan, Matt Wagner, and Bill Willingham — and I promise you that that barely even scratches the surface. Go and look at the full-sized versions, and bid next month!

(Via Tom Spurgeon)


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