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Campfire girls: ‘Lumberjanes’ #9 is a great jumping-on point

Lumberjanes 9

Chynna Clugston Flores

If you read about comic books on the Internet, and I have reason to believe you do, then chances are you’ve seen a lot this year about Lumberjanes.

And there’s good reason for that. First, the monthly series from BOOM! Studios is the sort of book many talkers-about-comic have been saying we need more of forever: It’s full of strong female protagonists, and it’s the work of strong female creators. (It’s a comic book about a group of awesome ladies, by awesome ladies!)

Second, and more importantly, it’s really, really good. It’s the story of five teenage best friends who occupy the Roanoke cabin of their Girl Scouts-like summer camping organization — April, Jo, Mal, Molly and Ripley — and their discovery of, and battles, against all kinds of weirdness in the woods around them. In the first, eight-issue arc they became involved in a contest between Greek gods, fighting three-eyed woodland creatures, yetis, dinosaurs and giant lightning bugs in the process. All that while earning merit badges.

Why do I bring this up? Well because if you’ve been reading about Lumberjanes and haven’t yet sampled it, this week’s issue is a pretty great jumping-on point.
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Comics A.M. | Alcaraz’s ‘Hate City’ cartoons spark legal threat

One of Lalo Alcaraz's cartoons about the protests in Murrieta, California

One of Lalo Alcaraz’s cartoons about the protests in Murrieta, California

Editorial cartoons | The public-relations consultant hired by the city of Murrieta, California, after residents protested the arrival of refugee children to be processed there, told cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz that referring to Murietta as “Hate City USA” was “actionable.” “There IS a fine line between your constitutional right to draw cartoons and expressed (sic) your opinions,” Hermosillo wrote in a comment on Alcaraz’s Facebook page, “and falsely, deliberately, and maliciously labeling and attacking an entire community as racist or as ‘Hate City.’ You are working overtime to damage Murrieta and such a false premise is actionable. There’s a fine line between humor and stupidity. You may have crossed that line at your own peril.” Murrieta spokesperson Kim Davidson walked that back, however, saying the city has no plans to sue Alcaraz. [The Press Enterprise]

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Dark Horse bringing Buffyverse, Stan Sakai variants to WonderCon

darkhorse-wondercon

Dark Horse will bring three con-exclusive variant covers to WonderCon April 18-20, as well as two limited-edition hardcovers.

The first issues of both Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 and Angel & Faith Season 10 each get a variant, by Tomb Raider art director Brian Horton and Angel & Faith artist Steve Morris, respectively. They cost $5 each, and you’re limited to five copies of each.

Usagi Yojimbo artist Stan Sakai has drawn a variant cover for Dark Horse’s upcoming The Witcher comic, based on the video game of the same name. All proceeds from the sale of this limited-edition variant will benefit Stan and Sharon Sakai.

Finally, they will be selling limited hardcovers collecting the recent Itty Bitty Hellboy miniseries by Art Baltazar and Franco, and The Last of Us: American Dreams by Faith Erin Hicks and Neil Druckmann.

Check out the covers after the jump.

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YA author Rainbow Rowell inks deal with First Second

Photo by Augusten Burroughs

Photo by Augusten Burroughs

Rainbow Rowell, author of the acclaimed young-adult novels Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, has signed a two-book deal with First Second, EW.com reports. Faith Erin Hicks (Friends With Boys, The Adventures of Superhero Girl) will illustrate the first of the two graphic novels.

“I started reading Faith’s graphic novels this summer. … And her work just clicked with me, especially Friends With Boys,” Rowell said in a statement to the website. “Her style is so expressive — dense with feeling and meaning. She tells you so much in every panel, even when she isn’t telling you anything. I really crave creative collaboration — that’s a theme in Fangirl and Landline — and I’m so excited to get to work with someone I respect as much as Faith.”

Published in February 2013, Eleanor & Park centers on two misfit teens in 1986 Nebraska who become friends, and then more, through a shared love of comics and ’80s alternative music while dealing with issues of race, class and abuse. It was honored just this week with a 2014 Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature.

Rowell followed that novel in September with Fangirl (it sports a cover by Noelle Stevenson), a coming-of-age story about fan fiction and first love, centers on Cath and Wren, twins with a shared, longtime devotion to the Simon Snow novels. But when Wren, who’s drifted away from fandom, announces she doesn’t want to be college roommates with her sister, Cath finds herself on her own.

Creators weigh in on 2013 and 2014 (Part 4)

Our annual “Looking Forward, Looking Back” feature continues, as we ask various comics folks what they liked in 2013, what they’re looking forward to in 2014 and what projects they have planned for the coming year. In this round, see what Van Jensen, Faith Erin Hicks, Thom Zahler, Andrew MacLean, Tyler Kirkham, Ian Harker, Ryan Ferrier, Jay Faerber, Matt Silady and Matthew Petz had to say.

And if you missed them, be sure to check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3, where we heard from Jimmy Palmiotti, Tim Seeley, Chris Roberson and many more. And we still have plenty to go, so check back Wednesday to hear from more creators!

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Panels for Primates spawns digital anthologies

Panels for PrimatesThree years ago, the folks at Act-i-vate kicked off Panels for Primates, a webcomic anthology in which various writers and artists created comics about monkeys, apes and other primates. The comic was free, but readers were encouraged to donate to the Primate Rescue Center in Nicholsville, Kentucky. The roster of contributors to the comic is impressive, with such creators as David Petersen, Rick Geary and Fred Van Lente involved.

Now the comics have been collected into a digital anthology on comiXology, published, appropriately, by Monkeybrain. Actually, two anthologies: Panels for Primates Junior is suitable for all ages, while Panels for Primates is rated 15+. The kids’ version looks very cute and has some good creators on board, including Rich Clabaugh, Mike Maihack, and J. Bone, but the lineup for the 15+ version is irresistible: Stan Lee, Paul Kupperberg (writer of Life with Archie and a former writer for the tabloid Weekly World News), Faith Erin Hicks, Colleen Coover, Molly Crabapple and ROBOT 6 contributor Michael May — just imagine what these people can do with monkeys!

The kids’ book is $8.99 and the adult anthology is $9.99, and once again, proceeds from both will go to the Primate Rescue Center.

(via Pop Candy)

Comics A.M. | ‘The Dandy’ artist Charles Grigg passes away

Korky the Kat

Korky the Cat

Passings | Lew Stringer reports that British artist Charles Grigg died Wednesday at age 97. Grigg is probably best known for drawing Korky the Cat, whose adventures graced the cover of the weekly comic The Dandy for decades, and he drew a number of other strips for The Dandy and The Topper as well. After he retired he had a second career drawing naughty postcards. [Blimey!]

Retailing | The direct-market trade organization ComicsPRO has announced its annual membership meeting will be held Feb. 26-March 1 in Atlanta. [ICv2.com]

Creators | Art Spiegelman talked to students at Lakeland College recently and then sat down to answer some questions about his love of comics, how his depression affected his work, and whether he has any regrets about the way he portrayed his father in Maus. [The Lakeland Mirror]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Kuroko’s Basketball’ returns to shelves

Kuroko's Basketball

Kuroko’s Basketball

Retailing | The rental chain Tsutaya and the bookstore chain Yurindo have returned Kuroko’s Basketball books and DVDs to their shelves after “X-Day,” Nov. 4, passed without incident. Someone has sent hundreds of threatening letters to convention sites, bookstores, the media and Sophia University (the alma mater of Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki), over the past year, and the most recent batch of letters said that “X-Day will be on the final day of the [Sophia University] school festival.” Meanwhile, police are checking security cameras near all the mailboxes in the districts from which the letters were mailed, looking for suspicious people. [Anime News Network]

Comics | Brian Steinberg looks at Archie Comics’ most radical move yet: the relatively adult Afterlife with Archie, which literally turned America’s most iconic teenagers into zombies. Steinberg talks to Archie CEO Jon Goldwater, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, artist Francesco Francavilla and others about the significance of this comic, which sold almost 65,000 copies to the direct market. [Variety]

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First Second to publish Faith Erin Hicks’ ‘Nameless City’ trilogy

nameless cityFirst Second Books will publish a new graphic novel trilogy by Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong creator Faith Erin Hicks, beginning in 2016.

Compared by the publisher to Avatar: The Last Airbender and Jeff Smith’s Bone, The Nameless City is set in an intricate world inspired by Central Asia and the Silk Road, where “the besieged inhabitants of an ancient city are desperate to learn the secrets of the perished civilization which carved the city out of living rock.” The story centers on Nameless City native Rat, and Kai, whose country recently conquered her home, as they form an unlikely friendship as they try to foil an unlikely conspiracy.

“I’m absolutely thrilled that First Second Books will be publishing The Nameless City,” Hicks said in a statement.It’s a story that’s very close to my heart and something I’ve been working on for a few years.”

Hicks’ previous works include Zombies Calling, The War at Ellsmere, Friends With Boys and The Adventures of Superhero Girl.

Faith Erin Hicks shows off the pitch that failed

afterlife incFaith Erin Hicks is on top of the world these days, thanks to her critically acclaimed graphic novels (Friends With Boys, Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong), as well as her game tie-in series for Dark Horse, The Last of Us, and the collected edition of her webcomic The Adventures of Superhero Girl. And yet, she admits, there’s a comic even she can’t sell.

Hicks described the project in July during her spotlight panel at Comic-Con International, where she told Bone creator Jeff Smith that she had pitched the book to First Second, publisher of Friends With Boys and Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, but the imprint had rejected it. “It is my most-rejected pitch,” she said. “It is this extremely weird story about work, and about people who work in this office, but it is literally an office that is a way station for dead people, and so it’s all about having a crappy office job but with this insane supernatural bent and it is a ridiculous story, but the thing is, it has been rejected everywhere.”

“So your coworkers are all zombies?” Smith responded. “That sounds like real life to me.”

A few weeks ago, Hicks was rummaging through her hard drive and found her pitch for the comic, which she posted on her blog. The response was so enthusiastic that she posted more of the pitch the same day. The comic is called Afterlife, Inc., and while Hicks admits it may not make a good graphic novel, she does say, in the second post, “I think this story would make a good webcomic or floppy comic (maybe at somewhere like Image), because it’s very meandering and would benefit from serialized storytelling to build the weirdness of the world its set in. Plus, the web LOVES weird stuff!”

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‘I want to be Jeff Smith when I grow up, not Stan Lee’

adventures of superhero girl

Nah. I like doing my own stories. There are some characters at DC and Marvel that I’m fond of, but I can’t really see sinking years of my life into working on those characters. I like my own characters, and I want to spend time with them. I want to be Jeff Smith when I grow up, not Stan Lee.”

Faith Erin Hicks, creator of Friends With Boys and The Adventures of Superhero Girl, when asked whether there’s a comic-book character she dreams of drawing one day

Faith Erin Hicks draws a comic about her Comic-Con trip

faith erin hicks3

While many fans and creators documented their experiences at Comic-Con International with blog entries and tweets, cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks (Friends With Boys, The War at Ellsmere) went the extra mile or two by recording her trip in comics form.

Within those panels she offers a glimpse of her very first Comic-Con, five years ago, before jumping ahead to this year’s signings and panels — and her introduction to one of her “greatest creative influences,” Joss Whedon. It’s a fun read.

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There’s very little wrong with ‘Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong’

ncpgw coverThere are just two things I didn’t really like about Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, the new young-adult graphic novel by writer Prudence Shen (making her comics debut) and artist Faith Erin Hicks (Friends With Boys, The War at Ellsmere, Zombies Calling, other stuff). And they are minor things — quibbles, really — but I’m going to go ahead and lead my review with them anyway, as otherwise I have nothing but gushingly nice things to say about the comic, and I would hate to lose my reputation as a hard-to-please critic.

First, the supporting character Ben (second from the right on the cover) looks so much like actor Richard Ayoade that I found much of his panel-time during my first reading distracting, as I kept trying to place where I’ve seen him before.

Second, two other supporting characters are twin roboticists, and, naturally, when I think of twins who are also roboticists, I think of Kyle and Ken Katayanagi, Ramona’s fifth and sixth evil exes from Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series. While the designs of the two sets of twins are pretty different, I think Hicks’ style bears a close enough resemblance to O’Malley’s (a little in the eyes, a lot in the manga-influenced action scenes) by dint of the two artists sharing similar influences, that the feeling of “Hey, haven’t I seen these guys before?”  may be exacerbated. At least among the younger, more casual, more mainstream comics readers that this book is likely to appeal to (and by that I mean this is a comic that readers will be finding in bookstores and libraries more often than the comic book stores they visit once a week; it’s a comic for people who don’t already have a life-time habit of comics, in addition to those that do).

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What Are You Reading? with Allison Baker

nursenursecover-tease

Happy Mother’s Day and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at the comics, books and what have you we’ve been checking out lately. Joining us today is Allison Baker, co-publisher of Bandette, Edison Rex and all the other Monkeybrain Comics you can find on comiXology.

To see what Allison and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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This weekend, it’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival

TCAF 2013 poster

The Toronto Comic Arts Festival celebrates its 10th birthday this weekend with a truly stellar lineup of guests and an amazing array of events. The list of creators who will be there is impressive in both its quality and its breadth: Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, David B., Taiyo Matsumoto, Rutu Modan, Frederik Peeters, Paul Pope, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Hope Larson, Faith Erin Hicks, Derf Backderf, Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman, a roll call that goes from living legends to plucky creators making their own comics zines by hand.

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