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Swierczynski on cliffhangers, violence & ‘Two Past Midnight’

TWOPM CVR SOL 4x6As part of its 2014 original graphic novel plans, Dark Horse will publish Two Past Midnight, by Duane Swierczynski and Eduardo Francisco, which pits Captain Midnight, Ghost and X against a psychopath named Tempus. In a brief interview with ROBOT 6, Swierczynski details how a change in publishing plans actually allowed him to work in more narrative cliffhangers than he might have otherwise developed.

Tim O’Shea: What can you tell readers about the cast and plot of Two Past Midnight OGN?

Duane Swierczynski: Two Past Midnight  – or as the kids call it, 2PM — is a team-up of some very unlikely heroes squaring off against a freakish mind-controlling psycho who calls himself Tempus, as in “tempus fugit,” or “time flies.” Those heroes are Captain Midnight, Ghost and X, and they’re not exactly hanging out, swapping wisecracks and eating shawarma or whatever. The story is basically a nonstop carnival of violence; there is no time for shawarma.

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Creators weigh in on 2013 and 2014 (Part 5)

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 Kurt Busiek, Corinna Bechko, Jeffrey Brown, Andrea Sorrentino, Jon Proctor, Steve Lieber, Ales Kot, Dennis Culver, Victor Santos and Declan Shalvey had to say.

And if you missed them, be sure to check out Part 1Part 2Part 3 and Part 4, where we heard from Jimmy Palmiotti, Tim Seeley, Chris Roberson, Faith Erin Hicks and many more. And we still have plenty to go, so check back Thursday to hear from more creators!

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Exclusive preview | Superpowers are status quo in ‘Average Joe’

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If you’re a fan of superheroes, there’s been some point where you wished you had superpowers. But in the 2014 graphic novel Average Joe from Com.X, you’ll find out what happens when everyone had superpowers.

Created by longtime Ain’t It Cool writer Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche) and illustrated by Stephen Andrade, Average Joe showcases a world in which superpowers aren’t too super any more, but just the status quo. According to the writer, Average Joe asks, “What if the whole world had superpowers, yet we never became better as a result?” Com.X has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive first look at this full-color graphic novel, along with an official description:

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Exclusive preview | ‘X-Force’ #1 by Si Spurrier and Rock-he Kim

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Writer Si Spurrier and artist Rock-he Kim will relaunch X-Force next month as part of All-New Marvel NOW!, recasting the team as covert super-agents — players in a global shadow game — operating on behalf of mutantkind. Or, as Cable puts it, “Nation of mutantkind needs a dirty tricks department. We’re it.”

“We’re going to see them on hits,” Spurrier told Comic Book Resources in November. “We’re going to see them stealing intelligence, technology and weaponry from other factions. We’re going to see them truffling-out emergent threats and destroying them before they can get started. It’s broadly the same denominator of old — a black ops X-Men team — but with a lot more of an emphasis on International and inter-factional competition. The whole thing, of course, is a grand and grim metaphor for the secret black-technology race going on under our noses every day.”

To prepare readers for the team’s new mission, Marvel has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive preview of X-Force #1.

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Bryan J. L. Glass and Victor Santos get ‘Furious’

FURIO #1 CVR

Furious #1

This morning we posted the Bryan J. L. Glass and Victor Santosprequel to their new Dark Horse series Furious, which debuts Jan. 29. In preparation for the issue’s release, ROBOT 6 spoke briefly with the creators, in the process discovering the character had been percolating in Glass’ mind (on some level) for more than 20 years.

Tim O’Shea: Once you learned you could run a short prequel Furious story in Dark Horse Presents, how did you two settle on what story you wanted to tell?

Bryan J.L. Glass: It was the perfect opportunity for the series as a whole! The moment chronicled in those eight pages has always been part of the character’s back story. It’s how she gets her name. She’s seeking personal redemption through super powers, so there was no way she was ever going to call herself “Furious.” She intended to be “The Beacon,” as a name representative of her desire to inspire others. Yet despite her best intentions, her actions scream louder than her words, and the world — or in this case a television reporter — dubs her accordingly. It’s an important moment. So as soon as we received the green light to introduce her via a DHP short story, I knew I could then remove it from Issue 1. Let it be referenced. It’s the terrible thing that happened on the day this superheroine tried to go public, and now she’s trying to move forward with baggage she never intended; a microcosm of everything that drives her to be a heroine in the first place.

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The kids aren’t all right in Remender & Craig’s ‘Deadly Class’ #1

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Image Comics has provided ROBOT 6 with a preview of Deadly Class #1, which is kind of like a John Hughes movie if The Breakfast Club kids were highly trained assassins. Set in the 1980s, Deadly Class tells the story of Marcus Lopez, who attends King’s Dominion High School, “the most brutal high school on Earth, where the world’s top crime families send the next generation of assassins to be trained.” At their heart, though, they’re still teenagers.

“These kids are ’80s kids, but the story of being a teenager is always the same,” said artist Wes Craig. “I mean, the styles change, but there’s always someone being picked on, someone who just got dumped, some girl spreading rumors about another girl, someone who’s having a party and someone who’s got a plan to get booze with a fake I.D. That’s where I can relate to the teenage stuff, because I went through that just like everyone else, and no matter how many years pass, it’s still easy for us to flash back to those experiences.”

Deadly Class is the second creator-owned series written by Rick Remender to debut from Image over the past couple months, following the fun Black Science. Craig is joined on art by colorist Lee Loughridge, and as you can see below the results are pretty phenomenal.

Deadly Class #1 hits stores Jan. 22.

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The Grumpy Color | Tom and Carla take apart 2013, Part 1

I heard they changed the ending to 'August: Osage County'

I heard they changed the ending to ‘August: Osage County’

Every year ROBOT 6 contributors Tom Bondurant and Carla Hoffman get together to talk about everything in Big Two superhero comics. Watch for Part 2 on Thursday.

Carla: Is it me or was 2013 crazy-busy? There were event comics, new titles, canceled titles, movies (plural for Marvel!),  TV shows and video games. It seems like there’s no escape from comics, making it harder and harder to get a general idea of the industry. Some days I kind of envy the indie comic fans as it must be a lot easier to handle comics as they come, as opposed to our gestalt juggernaut that is the Big Two. How much DC business could you comfortably follow before overwhelm set in?

Tom: Well, for starters, I pretty much skipped all of the video game and Cartoon Network developments, because I don’t have time for either area.

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‘Bad Machinery’s’ John Allison opens ‘Case of the Good Boy’

bad machinery-v2Cartoonist John Allison surprised many in 2009 when he ended his long-running webcomic Scary Go Round and soon launched Bad Machinery, which follows the adventures of two groups of child detectives in the fictional town of Tackleford, England, he established more than a decade earlier in his first online strip Bobbins.

Allison is the first to acknowledge those first months were rocky for the kids of Griswalds Grammar School, with a number of Scary Go Round readers abandoning the new comic, despite its familiar setting. But four years later, it’s a different story for Bad Machinery, which in 2012 won a British Comic Award; the first print collection, released last spring by Oni Press, was named by Publishers Weekly as one of the best children’s books of 2013.

With a second volume, “The Case of the Good Boy,” set to arrive in March, Allison took some time during the holidays to talk with ROBOT 6 about finding an audience, making the jump to print, returning to Bobbins and what the future holds for Bad Machinery.

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Alternative Comics to publish Cerio’s ‘Sunbeam on the Astronaut’

Sunbeam on the Astronaut

Sunbeam on the Astronaut

Alternative Comics has announced it will release Sunbeam on the Astronaut by Steven Cerio in April. The 56-page book collects new and previously unpublished material by by the artist, whose hallucinatory images have graced numerous anthologies (Last Gasp Comics and Stories, Hotwire), as well as album covers and posters for such performers as The Residents and Ministry, not to mention his own books, Pie and Steven Cerio’s ABC Book: A Drug Primer.

Sunbeam on the Astronaut will include stills from his recent film The Magnificent Pigtail Shadow, and stories involving characters from some of the film projects he did with The Residents, as well as paintings, collages and more. The book will also be available on Apple’s iBooks with a full soundtrack and narration.

For more information on Cerio, check out his website, store at Wow Cool or Vimeo page. Read the official announcement, and a five-page preview, below.

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Brad Meltzer remakes history in ‘Detective Comics’ #27

ROBOT 6 EXCLUSIVE: Jim Lee's cover for "Detective Comics" #27

ROBOT 6 EXCLUSIVE: Jim Lee’s cover for “Detective Comics” #27

Over the past few years, Brad Meltzer has become one of the pinch hitters of comics.

Although his day job as a bestselling suspense novelist and TV host of History’s Decoded has kept him from taking on an extended comics project since 2006′s Justice League of America relaunch, Meltzer has stepped in for a number of comics projects over recent years, including an arc on Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 and a recent short in Art Baltazar and Franco’s Aw Yeah Comics.

Next up for the writer is a special contribution to DC Comics’ Detective Comics #27, arriving next week. The spiritual heir to the first appearance of Batman will clock in at more than 100 pages to kick off DC’s 75th anniversary celebration for the Dark Knight, with contributions by Scott Snyder, John Layman, Mike W. Barr and more creators from the character’s past and present. And for his part, Meltzer will team with artist Bryan Hitch to retell “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate,” the Bill Finger/Bob Kane short that began the Batman legend in 1939’s Detective Comics #27.

We spoke with Meltzer about the legacy of the original story and the challenges of bringing it into the modern era – and not for the first time – while DC shared an exclusive first look at Co-Publisher Jim Lee’s variant cover for the issue.

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D&Q to debut Brecht Vandenbroucke’s ‘White Cube’

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Drawn and Quarterly has an extensive list of releases planned for the first half of the new year, including the debut book by Belgian cartoonist Brecht Vandenbroucke, White Cube. The 64-page book will go on sale in March for the list price of $22.95, and Vandenbroucke will appear in April at MoCCA to help promote it.

White Cube is a collection of wordless gag strips mostly involving a pair of twins who attempt to interact with the worlds of art, fashion and high culture in general, with humorous results. Although this is his first book, Vandenbroucke’s work might be familiar to you, as he’s done comics for Nobrow and illustrations for The New York Times.

Below, you can read D&Q’s press release and sample a five-page preview.

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Dean Haspiel takes The Fox for a Silver Age spin

FOX3.02-CMYKDean Haspiel is one of the most visible creators working in comics today, and his style is equally recognizable, whether he is creating superhero comics or his own Billy Dogma stories at ACT-I-VATE, the webcomics site he co-founded in 2006.

Even when he’s working on someone else’s property, Haspiel has a way of making it his own, and this is particularly true of his revival of The Fox for Archie Comics’s Red Circle imprint. One of the earliest superheroes in comics, The Fox made his debut in 1940, back when the publisher was still called MLJ Comics, and has resurfaced several times since then; a new version of the character appeared in the 1980s in Blue Ribbon Comics and Mighty Crusaders.

In Haspiel’s hands, The Fox is a reluctant superhero, a “freak magnet” who can’t avoid getting into trouble but won’t run away from a fight. The third issue of the series, scripted by Mark Waid, arrives Jan. 8; Haspiel will be doing a signing that day at Forbidden Planet in New York City. We talked to Haspiel about his version of The Fox, and Archie sent along some art from Issue 3 to go with it.

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Preview | ‘Wolverine’ #1 and ‘Winter Soldier: The Bitter March’ #1

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With the debuts of Winter Soldier: The Bitter March, Rick Remender and Roland Boschi, and the relaunched Wolverine, by Paul Cornell and Ryan Stegman, quickly approaching, Marvel has supplied ROBOT 6 with exclusive new looks at pages from both comics.

The preview begins with a color splash page from Wolverine #1, previously released in black and white, and concludes with an action-packed (and snowy) two-page spread from Winter Soldier: The Bitter March #1, which kicks off the five-issue miniseries set during the 1960s.

Both comics arrive in February. See the full pages and solicitation text below.

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Exclusive | Dark Horse to release ‘Big Damn Sin City’ omnibus

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Ahead of the August premiere of Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s movie sequel Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Dark Horse has announced it will debut a massive omnibus hardcover collecting the artist’s entire landmark crime saga.

In addition, the publisher will bring Frank Miller: The Art of Sin City back into print in trade paperback format, and re-release the hardcover edition 1993′s A Dame to Kill For. All three are scheduled to arrive on June 25.

Frank Miller’s Big Damn Sin City brings together Miller and Lynn Varley’s seven hardboiled tales — The Hard Goodbye, A Dame to Kill For, The Big Fat Kill, The Yellow Bastard, Family Values, Booze, Broads & Bullets and Hell and Back — in one 1,344-page volume that Dark Horse contends is “suitable for home defense.”

The omnibus will be accompanied by the softcover edition of the long-out-of-print Frank Miller: The Art of Sin City, featuring an introduction by critic R.C. Harvey, and the 212-page A Dame to Kill For, in hardcover for the first time in years. See the covers and solicitation text for all three books below.

UPDATE (Jan. 3): Dark Horse has notified us that Frank Miller’s Big Damn Sin City will retail for $100. The price originally listed was incorrect.

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Anna Bongiovanni: “I’m a little freaked by ‘Out of Hollow Water’”

OOHW_sample1Alaska, at least as far as I know, hasn’t exactly been regarded as birthplace of notable cartoonists in the same manner that, say, New York or Ohio have been.

Now the 49th state can add at least one name to its roster, Anna Bongiovanni. The Fairbanks native, now transplanted to Minnesota, released her debut Out of Hollow Water through the small-press publisher 2D Cloud. It’s a rather haunting trio of short stories, told in simple, one-panel-per-page fashion, to detail various emotional, familial and even sexual trauma. Bongiovanni, however, relies upon folklore and fairy-tale tropes to give her stories an eerie, otherworldly feel that makes these stories both alien and universal at the same time. It’s a pretty impressive debut.

I talked with Bongiovanni over email during the holidays about her new book and its origins.

Chris Mautner: First of all, tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? How did you get interested in drawing? How were you introduced to comics and what made you decide to start making your own? 

Ann Bongiovanni: I was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska. I never got into comics until my parents just happened to buy an Archie comic from the grocery store. Then I was hooked, like obsessed, with Archie comics. Luckily, I calmed down and – while Archie holds a special nostalgic place in my heart – I am not nearly as crazed about the series as I once was. For a few years, I attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and tried to major in elementary education, but all I ever did was draw comics. It’s what I did in-between homework assignments and during lectures. Instead of going to parties, I was drawing in my dorm room alone. I don’t really know what that says about me (yikes), but I couldn’t really think about anything other than telling my own stories. It didn’t help that I really dislike children and wanted nothing to do with them. My parents convinced me to try attending the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2007 and get a BFA in comic art, and I’ve been drawing comics ever since.

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