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Preview | Jordan Mechner’s Templar

One of my favorite books from First Second in recent years was Solomon’s Thieves by Jordan Mechner (Prince of Persia) and the fantastic art team of LeUyen Pham and Alex Puvilland. I reviewed it for Robot 6, and talked about how much I was looking forward to the following two parts of the trilogy. In Dumas-like fashion, Mechner added swashbuckling flourishes to historical fact to create an exciting story about the rank-and-file knights of the Templar order who found themselves, as Mechner describes them, “pawns in a political chess game their simple ideals of chivalry and brotherhood hadn’t equipped them for.”

For fans of Solomon’s Thieves, the wait is finally over, and not just for the second volume. Rather than publish the last two parts of the trilogy as separate books, First Second is releasing the entire epic as a single volume called Templar, to debut in July.

First Second provided ROBOT 6 with the following preview:

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Exclusive Preview | George O’Connor’s Poseidon: Earth Shaker

I’ve gone on at some length about how awesome George O’Connor’s Olympians series is. His most recent volume even made my Top 10 comics of the year. I’m also on record as digging Aquaman and other ocean-based characters, so it’s exciting that these interests are coming together in March with Olympians, Volume 5: Poseidon — Earth Shaker.

As is typical for the series, O’Connor won’t just tell the story of everyone’s favorite sea god, but will also include the myths around associated characters. In this case: Theseus and the Minotaur, Odysseus and Polyphemos, and the founding of Athens.

Publisher First Second provided ROBOT 6 with the following exclusive preview:

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Comics A.M. | Scottish city to create Bash Street to honor Beano strip

Bash Street Kids

Comics | The Dundee, Scotland, city council has approved a proposal by publisher DC Thomson to name a street in the city’s west end to honor the Bash Street Kids, stars of the long-running comic strip in The Beano. Dundee already has statues honoring comic characters Desperate Dan and Minnie the Minx. [BBC News]

Comics | Laura Sneddon continues the New Statesmen’s week-long series on comics with a look at children’s comics in the U.K., including the digital relaunch of The Dandy, the continuing popularity of The Beano (which sells a respectable 30,000 copies per week) and the new kid on the block, The Phoenix. [New Statesman]

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Exclusive debut: James Sturm’s ‘A Yeti Christmas’

In the spirit of his new book Adventures in Cartooning Christmas Special, James Sturm has created a holiday comic, and he’s allowing us to premiere it at Robot 6. Check out “A Yeti Christmas” below, and don’t miss our new interview with Sturm in which he discusses the Adventures in Cartooning series and working with children, and answers the important question “Why a yeti?”

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Robot 6 Q&A | James Sturm on Adventures in Cartooning

James Sturm has had a rich and varied career, as the creator of critically acclaimed graphic novels such as Market Day, the writer of the Eisner Award-winning miniseries Fantastic Four: Unstable Molecules, and the head of the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont. A few years ago he embarked on something new: Adventures in Cartooning, a book that encourages children to draw their own comics. The book, co-created with Andrew Arnold and Alexis Frederick-Frost and published by First Second, was a big hit, as was its sequel, Adventures in Cartooning Activity Book. Now he’s back, just in time for the holidays, with Adventures in Cartooning Christmas Special, which features a grouchy Santa, high-tech elves, and a yeti. I talked to James about the new book and why he enjoys creating comics for children.

Robot 6: Before these books came along, I was more familiar with your work for adults, such as Market Day. What do you like about making comics for children, and how does it challenge you?

James Sturm: As a parent, I’m constantly trying to figure out how to communicate with my own kids in ways that are age-appropriate and engaging without being patronizing. So for starters I’m much more aware of my audience. That said, I find writing for kids more liberating than confining. There’s a goofy and silly side to my writing that comes out that doesn’t for more mature audiences.

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First Second’s spring line-up includes new Kindt, Seagle and more

Genius

First Second sent out its latest catalog earlier this week, highlighting all the graphic novels it will release next spring. The bad news is, there’s still no Battling Boy on the schedule, nor do the Box Brown Andre the Giant or as-yet-unrevealed Becky Cloonan books appear. But the good news is there are projects featuring the likes of Faith Erin Hicks, Matt Kindt, Steven T. Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen, Dave Roman and many more.

Here’s the rundown:

Odd Duck, by Cecil Castellucci and Sara Varon.  “A heartwarming tale of the perils and pleasures of friendship featuring two ducks who are both a bit odd.” Varon has done several graphic novels for First Second, including Bake Sale and Robot Dreams, while Castellucci wrote the Plain Janes books for DC’s Minx line, as well as several Young Adult novels.

Primates, by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks.  A new science book from Jim Ottaviani, the author of thwe well-received Feynman, “with Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, Biruté Galdikas and all sorts of primates.” Wicks, meanwhile, has a fun blog where you can check out her work, which includes several kids titles like Spongebob and Adventure Time.

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Food or Comics? | Gluten or Glory

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.

Glory #30

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, my Wednesday haul would start with Glory #30 (Image, $3.99). This series has been great, and since Kris Anka began doing covers, it’s gone to very great. Now, seeing New Yorker cartoonist Roman Muradov coming in to do a story makes it potentially even more, well, great. I’m psyched to see Glory face off against her sister, and Campbell’s depiction of both has been mesmerizing. Next I’d pick up Comeback #1 (Image, $3.50), featuring letterer Ed Brisson making his major writing debut. The cover design by Michael Walsh is impeccable, and the concept of time traveling for grieving loved ones is a fascinating concept. Next up, I’d get a Marvel double – Wolverine and the X-Men #21 (Marvel, $3.99) and Hawkeye #4 (Marvel, $2.99). This carnie issue of Wolverine and the X-Men is intriguing; it’s going out on a limb, but after what Jason Aaron and Nick Bradshaw have done so far, I trust them. With Hawkeye, I’m slightly hesitant to pick up an issue knowing David Aja isn’t drawing it, but Javier Pulido has the potential to be an ideal temporary substitute.

If I had $30, I’d look back on my $15 and reluctantly put Hawkeye #4 back on the shelf to free up money for Derek Kirk Kim’s Tune, Book 1: Vanishing Point (First Second, $16.99). Man oh man, do I love Kim’s work, and seeing the previews for this online makes me see a honing of the artist’s style akin to the way Bryan O’Malley did between Lost At Sea and Scott Pilgrim. Count me in.

If I could splurge, I’d take a chance on the anthology Digestate (Birdcage Bottom Books, $19.95). I’m no foodie like C.B. Cebulski, but I like food and I like anthologies so this is right up my alley; especially when the chefs include Jeffrey Brown and Liz Prince. Where’s my order?

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Comics A.M. | DC Comics’ digital move into the ‘mainstream’

DC Comics

Digital comics | Technology journalist Andy Ihnatko discusses the significance of DC Comics’ expansion of its digital-comics availability from comiXology and its branded app to the iBooks, Kindle and Nook stores: “Now, all of the company’s titles have a presence in the same bookstore where hundreds of millions of people worldwide buy the rest of their content.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

Conventions | Steve Morris reports in on this past weekend’s Thought Bubble convention, in Leeds, England, which sounds like it was amazing. [The Beat]

Conventions | Meanwhile, on this side of the pond, Young Lee has an account of Durham’s NC Comicon. [Technicianonline.com]

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Paul Pope launches new website, teases us with Battling Boy again

Paul Pope has launched a new website, PaulPope.com, and has used this as an opportunity to issue a brief statement on the status of his long-overdue Battling Boy graphic novel. He writes:

It is official– Battling Boy v.1 is completed and in production. There is a set release date for BBv.1, although it is up to my publisher First Second to make that announcement, in conjunction with their larger marketing plan for BB. I begin work on BBv.2 in December 2012, with a 9-10 month production schedule locked in for 2013. I am currently working on another project, which will be most of my creative concern for November 2012. Details to come.

Typically for Pope, he can’t announce one project without trailing another. The man is a either a sadist or a masochist, I haven’t decided yet (above image is “one of … many cover concepts for BBv.1. – Battling Boy and Dad.”).

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Previews: What Looks Good for January

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. We’ve each picked the five comics we’re most anticipating in order to create a list of the best new stuff coming out two months from now.

As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.

Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #1

Graeme McMillan

Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #1 (of 12): I’m a sucker for Doctor Who, I think I’ve said that before, right …? No surprise, then, that I’m very much looking forward to this year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the BBC science-fiction show, with each issue spotlighting a different incarnation of the character. That Simon Fraser is providing art helps a lot, too; I’ve been a big fan of his “Nikolai Dante” work for 2000AD for a while. (IDW Publishing, $3.99)

One Trick Rip-Off/Deep-Cuts hardcover: Speaking of things that I’m a big fan of, Paul Pope easily fits that bill, so this enhanced reprint of his Dark Horse graphic novel — with more than 150 pages of rare and unseen work from the same period, including his Supertrouble manga — is far too tempting to pass up. (Image Comics, $29.99)

Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #1 (of 4): I was very impressed with Star Trek: Countdown back in 2009, and the way it teased the then-upcoming J.J. Abrams reboot without giving too much away, so I’m looking forward to see if this prologue to this summer’s sequel is just as fun. (IDW, $3.99)

Star Wars #1: Brian Wood and Star Wars feel like an odd pairing in my head, but everything I’ve read about this new ongoing series set after the first movie (which is to say, Episode IV these days) seems completely up my alley, and the 5-year-old within me is completely sold on the chance to see more stories set in the “true” Star Wars era. (Dark Horse, $3.50)

Young Avengers #1: Kieron GIllen and Jamie McKelvie pairing on anything is pretty much a must-read for me, but seeing them let loose on Marvel’s teen characters and seemingly determined to make them actually seem like teenagers. … Yeah, this looks like it may be one of my favorite superhero books in quite some time, I suspect. (Marvel, $2.99)

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Comics A.M. | Scottish city may honor Beano characters

Bash Street Kids

Comics | Scottish publisher DC Thomson has asked Dundee City Council to rename a street in the city’s west end to honor the Bash Street Kids, stars of the long-running comic strip in The Beano. An unnamed street adjacent to 142/144 West Marketgait would be called Bash Street as part of the celebration of the magazine’s 75th anniversary. [LocalGov]

Retailing | North Hollywood will get a new comics shop on Nov. 10, when Blastoff Comics opens its doors. Owner Jud Meyers seems to think it is an essential part of a hip neighborhood: “They want restaurants, they want bars, they want supermarkets, they want gyms. What didn’t they have? They don’t have a comic book store, every neighborhood has got to have a comic book store.” The opening will feature an assortment of comics guests, including Mark Waid, Greg Hurwitz, and Jim Kreuger, whose The High Cost of Happily Ever After will premiere at the event. [Patch.com]

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Comics A.M. | Could NYCC become ‘the comic convention’?

Jacob Javits Center

Conventions | Jason Knize makes a case for New York Comic Con potentially becoming “the Comic Con” next year, surpassing Comic-Con International as the completion of renovations on the Jacob Javits Center frees up an additional 90,000 square feet of space. However, he notes that space and attendance — NYCC’s 116,000 this year versus CCI’s 130,000 or so — certainly aren’t the only determining factors. [Panels on Pages]

Comics | Don MacPherson, who’s a newspaper reporter as well as a comics blogger, ponders Clark Kent’s departure from The Daily Planet in this week’s Superman #13: “In the scene in which Clark issues his ideological proclamation, Perry White retorts, ‘Go easy on us mortals, Clark. Times are changing and print is a dying medium.’ The challenges the Planet faces in the story reflect not only real-world ones in the newspaper industry, but also those faced by DC Comics itself as it struggles to stave off ebbing readership and find a way to foster an audience for online comics. Digital-publishing initiatives in the world of comics aside, I feel it important to argue Perry is wrong. Print isn’t a dying medium. What’s dying are past business models.” [Eye on Comics]

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Comics A.M. | Manga creators team up to help devastated region

InuYasha

Manga | Eight manga creators, including Rumiko Takahashi (InuYasha, Maison Ikkoku), will create new comics featuring the characters they are known for and donate the royalties to the effort to rebuild the Tohoku region of Japan, which was devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The fund-raiser is being spearheaded by Gallery Fake creator Fujihiko Hosono. [The Japan Times]

Awards | While we were all busy at New York Comic Con, the Frankfurt Book Fair was going on in Germany, and Torsten Adair rounds up the comics awards that were given at the fair to German and international creators. [The Beat]

Conventions | Christopher Spata talks to some of the attendees at this past weekend’s Tampa Bay Comic Con, including the parents of a 1-year-old who was in costume—and already has a room full of superhero items. [Tampa Bay Online]

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Comics A.M. | New York vs. San Diego; guilty plea in comics obscenity case

New York Comic Con

Conventions | John Giuffo does a compare-and-contrast between Comic-Con International and New York Comic Con. While San Diego has more Hollywood presence, NYCC has grown with stunning rapidity — it’s hard to believe that first event had just 25,000 people and shared the Javits Center with a travel convention; this year attendance was 116,000, gaining hard on San Diego’s 125,000. One key difference is that CCI spills out of the San Diego Convention Center into the surrounding neighborhood, which has restaurants and bars and parks, while the area around the Javits is pretty barren, limiting opportunities for parties or even a decent lunch, let alone the sort of outside activities that have sprung up in San Diego. [Forbes]

Legal | A Missouri man has pleaded guilty to federal obscenity charges stemming from comics depicting minors having sex with adults and other minors. The prosecutor has asked that he be sentenced to three years in federal prison without parole. [Anime News Network]

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Sailor Twain launch party goes swimmingly

Mark Siegel talks about Sailor Twain on board the Clearwater

As Brigid reported earlier this month, Mark Siegel is on tour promoting his new graphic novel Sailor Twain (which I reviewed here on Robot 6). First Second has photos from one of those events, the book’s launch party on board an actual boat that sails on the Hudson River, the Clearwater. Most of Sailor Twain takes place aboard a Hudson River steamboat, so the Clearwater was an especially appropriate venue even though it’s a sailboat and doesn’t run on coal. First Second marketing director Gina Gagliano speculates that “maybe they are all gone because it is not the eighteen hundreds anymore?”

Hit the jump to see the Hudson from the sloop’s bow as well as pictures of honest-to-Neptune Sailor Twain wine. And if that’s not enough for you, heed the siren call of the First Second blog for even more.

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