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What Are You Reading?

Saga #1

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at what the Robot 6 crew have been checking out recently. To see for yourself, click below …

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What are you excited about for 2012?

[Note: this post was assembled by both Tim O’Shea and JK Parkin]

This is our final post for our big birthday bash, and what a post it is. No matter how much stuff we line up, people we interview, etc., there are still tons of folks we like to hear from and include in our giant New Year’s/anniversary/birthday activities. So, as we have in past years, we have asked various comics folks what they are excited about for 2012 in comics–something they aren’t working on and something they are.

There’s a lot of great stuff here–hints at new projects and even some downright announcements. Our thanks to everyone this year who responded!

Jason Latour

Loose Ends 4

I’m most anticipating the 30th Anniversary of HEROES CON (June 22-24, Charlotte, NC) . For any convention 30 years is an amazing run, but the fact that Shelton Drum and his extended family have put this show together every year with nothing but blood, sweat and tears is flat out super heroic.

On the personal front, the challenging and exhilarating ride that’s been Loose Ends will come to a close with issue 4. It’ll be bittersweet to send our child off to into the real world but I can’t wait for you guys to see the work Brunner & Renzi are doing.

I’m also super excited to dip my own toes into the Mignola-verse with the BPRD: The Pickens County Horror [March 28, 2012] and to read the end of Jason Aaron & RM Guera’s Scalped, which is my favorite series in years.

Jason Latour is a writer/artist, most recently the writer of Loose Ends. He spoke with Tim O’Shea about the miniseries in July.

Patrick Zircher

This sounds politic, but it’s genuine: what excites me about comics in 2012 is what’s exciting every year, the work of the talent.  Seeing what the best are up to and how the up-n-comers have grown as artists and writers.  In the new year, I’m also excited about illustrating several books and covers that feature my favorite Avengers.

Patrick Zircher is an artist, who explored the 1920s/1930s era of the Marvel universe in 2011 with the five-issue miniseries, Mystery Men. He spoke with Tim O’Shea about the miniseries in May.

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Unwrapping comics: Pros share their holiday memories

A couple of weeks ago, I got to thinking about the holidays and comics. More exactly, I started wondering what some creators might say if i asked them for their favorite comics-related memory. As I got into contact with some creators, they did not have a favorite story per se, but those recollections were definitely memorable. Bottom line, these storytellers not surprisingly had some great stories to share. My holiday memory is an odd one, as a kid in the 1970s reading the Doonesbury comic strip where Rev. Scott Sloan had opening remarks before the Christmas pageant, where he noted that the part of the Baby Jesus would be played by a 40-watt light bulb. A lifelong Doonesbury fan, there are few strips that have made me laugh longer than that one. Told you it was an odd one.  Now on to the storytellers with far better tales. My thanks to everyone that responded. Once you’ve read them all, please be sure to chime in with your most memorable comics-related holiday recollection in the comments section.

Daryl Gregory

The Avengers #4 (Not the comic stuffed in 'Lil Daryl's stocking)

Every Christmas, comics would show up in my stocking. They’d be rolled up, which I’m sure breaks the heart of every collector out there, but it didn’t bother me much. Comics were for reading. For some reason, my mother thought I liked Thor. I wasn’t a Thor guy, except when he was hanging out in the Avengers. I was, and still am, a Captain America super-fan. How could my Mom not know this? But every year I’d get a couple more Thor comics.

Fast-forward 35 years. I’m the official stocking-stuffer in the household. My wife is the queen of holiday organization, but the stocking assignment has always been mine, primarily because it’s the kind of job you can give to a procrastinator. I can run out on Christmas Eve and grab everything I need: gum, iTunes gift cards, candy bars, extra batteries… and comics. See, my son is 15, and he IS a Thor guy, so I usually try to round up something Asgardian for him, as well as a something with Atomic Robo or Axe Cop. I don’t understand the clothing my daughter is asking for (an “infinity scarf” sounds like something Dr. Who would wear), but by gum, I do know my son’s taste in comics.

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Exile on the Planet of the Apes coming from BOOM! in March

Exile on the Planet of the Apes

BOOM! Studios’ March solicitations include several new projects, including a new Planet of the Apes miniseries called Exile on the Planet of the Apes.

Exile is a sequel to the miniseries Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes and will feature the return of the writing team, Corinna Sara Bechko and Gabriel Hardman. Hardman won’t be drawing the second mini, as he is currently busy with Secret Avengers, so the duo will be joined this time by artist Marc Laming.

“We’re thrilled that BOOM! and Fox are giving us this opportunity,” Hardman said on his blog. “The story is a direct sequel featuring Dr. Zaius and characters we introduced in Betrayal. Well, the ones who survive, anyway.”

Other projects due from BOOM! in March include a Hellraiser annual written solely by Clive Barker, an Ice Age one-shot from their kids line, a new superheroes-meets-Real Housewives comics called Supurbia and a retrospective of now-defunct independent publishing house Kitchen Sink Press.

Comics A.M. | Comic sales climb 19 percent; IDW promotes Goldstein

Justice League #3

Sales | The comic book market was up more than 19 percent in November when compared with the same period last year, with comics up 23 percent and graphic novels up 12 percent. So far this year the comics and graphics novel market is up 1.87 percent versus the first 11 months of 2010. If December cooperates, this could be the first up year for the market since 2008.

DC Comics was once again the top company in terms of market share. The company took six of the top 10 spots on Diamond’s Top 100 Comics list, with Justice League #3, Batman #3, Action Comics #3, Green Lantern #3 and Marvel’s Point One #1 making up the top five comics of the month. Batman: Noel took the No. 1 spot on the Top 100 Graphic Novels list. [The Comichron]

Publishing | IDW Publishing has promoted Chief Operating Officer Greg Goldstein to president, with a focus on new markets and acquisitions. He joined the company in 2008 from Upper Deck. [ICv2.com]

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Talking Comics with Tim | Corinna Sara Bechko & Gabriel Hardman

Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes

Several months back when I had the opportunity to interview Gabriel Hardman, there was one aspect of our discussion that I hoped I’d get to explore more, as the chance presented itself. That aspect was the Hardman’s potential collaboration on future projects with his wife, writer Corinna Sara Bechko. So, lo and behold, once the first issue of Bechko and Hardman’s Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes (BOOM! Studios) hit the stands, I convinced the creative team of Bechko and Hardman to do an email interview. In addition to the five-page preview of issue 2 that BOOM! Studios provided to CBR, it also was kind enough to give Robot 6 previews of pages 6 and 7 from the upcoming issue (which is coming out this Wednesday, December 7). To learn more about the creators’ approach on this project, please be sure to also read CBR’s August interview with them.

Tim O’Shea: Recently Corinna, you wrote: “Spending the last several months immersed in Apes has been a bit of a dream come true for both Gabriel and me.” What is it about full Ape immersion (so to speak) that’s so enjoyable for both of you?

Corinna Sara Bechko: I’ve always been drawn to post-apocalyptic fiction, and this is no exception. We’re both big fans and feel so lucky to contribute a little corner to the Apes universe. Plus, the folks at BOOM! and FOX have been an absolute joy to work with.

Gabriel Hardman: And it’s just fun to spend time inventing an original story that still fits neatly into an established world that we have a lot of affection for. I’ve always been frustrated with licensed books that can’t capture the feel of the original material. Immersing yourself in that world is necessary to make it authentic both in the writing and the art. Obviously when writing we’re trying hard not to directly contradict the established Apes continuity. When drawing the book, I think about it like I’m directing and production designing a lost Apes sequel. I’m not going to draw a prop that is out of place on that set.

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NYCC | Remender, Hardman take over Secret Avengers next year

Secret Avengers

It’s probably not surprising to find out the writer who works in the “black ops” areas of the Spider-Man and X-Men titles will swim in similar waters with the Avengers. Today at the Avengers: Shattered Heroes panel at the New York Comic Con, Marvel announced that Uncanny X-Force and Venom writer Rick Remender will take over Secret Avengers with issue #21.1. He’ll be joined on issue #22 by regular artist Gabriel Hardman (Hulk).

“Yeah, it’s going to be a fun year,” Remender told Newsarama. “I’m definitely planning on interconnecting the three titles, and having a lot of things hopping from one to the other, which is fun. I can create my own little covert universe.”

The team roster will go through a bit of a change, as you can see in the promo art above by Art Adams. Hawkeye will lead the team, with new additions being Captain Britain and Giant Man. Issue #21.1 will introduce a new Masters of Evil and will feature artwork by Patrick Zircher.

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What Are You Reading? with Jim Gibbons

B.P.R.D Hell On Earth: Russia #1

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is Dark Horse assistant editor Jim Gibbons, who I spoke to about his new job on Friday.

To see what Jim and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …

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Talking Comics with Tim | Elizabeth Breitweiser

Wolverine: Debt of Death

Colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser‘s work can be seen in any number of Marvel comics these days. In fact this week sees the release of writer David Lapham and artist David Aja’s Wolverine: Debt of Death one-shot, featuring Breitweiser as colorist (Be sure to enjoy CBR’s preview of the one-shot). Regular readers of What Are You Reading? know how much of an unabashed Jeff Parker/Gabriel Hardman’s Hulk booster that I am–and it is that series where I really started to appreciate Breitweiser as a colorist. This email interview was an effort to discuss her work mostly in general terms, so admittedly I did not discuss the Wolverine one-shot, but focus on some of her ongoing series work. My thanks to Breitweiser (who can also be found on Twitter) for taking the time for this discussion, despite her continually heavy workload. I am also deeply appreciative, that when our conversation led to her discussion of recent specific work, she was kind enough to provide examples of the pages for us to use.

Tim O’Shea: What are the biggest misconceptions in terms of the demands with your job as a colorist?

Breitweiser: Probably just in people not taking my job seriously or not viewing it as a fulfilling way to make a living. Many tend to think of what I do as “easy”. Coloring to them is just an afterthought and not seen as an essential part of the storytelling. I’m pretty sure most of my family and friends still do not understand what it is I do and how I can make a successful living at it. Professional colorists in general seem to almost always be overworked and overstressed. A lot of it has to do with us being at the end of the production line, but it also has to do with people having unrealistic expectations due to an incomprehension of the effort it takes to successfully tell a story with color.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Gabriel Hardman

Hardman's Fortean character design

Not to mince words: In the plethora of talented artists that are working at Marvel currently, Gabriel Hardman is the best. His eye for layout alone injects a vitality to his work rarely seen in comics. In addition to discussing his collaborative efforts with writer Jeff Parker, most recently on Hulk (Issue 30.1 hits stands this Wednesday, March 16, 2011), Hardman was kind enough to give Robot 6 a sneak peek of a sci-fi OGN he’s working on, with his wife, Corinna Bechko, called STATION TO STATION. My thanks to Hardman for his time and to friend of the blog, Jeff Parker, for helping arrange this interview. Finally, please be sure to contribute to the comments section this week, as Hardman is seeking suggestions for future Daily Sketches.

Tim O’Shea: In terms of current artists in the industry, you have a strikingly distinctive layout approach. Not every artist is as ambitious as you are. Do you ever back off from challenging scenes to layout, or is that what part of what makes the work interesting for you.

Gabriel Hardman: Storytelling in general is what keeps me interested in comics and the layouts are a huge part of that. My only goal is to serve the story being told. When I read the script, I can visualize the angles and layouts pretty easily. Figuring out a given angle is fairly simple: focus on the most important thing happening in the panel. Then place those important elements on the page in a way that leads your eye from top left to bottom right. It all works best when she script gives me freedom with the layouts.

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What Are You Reading?

Vietnamerica

Welcome to a special Super Bowl Sunday edition of What Are You Reading? Not that it’s any different from a regular WAYR column, but you can enjoy it while eating hot wings while the TV is paused.

Today our special guest is biology professor Jay Hosler, creator of Clan Apis and Optical Allusions. His latest book, Evolution, with artists Kevin Cannon and Zandor Cannon, was recently released by Hill & Wang. Check out his blog for a story he’s working on about photosynthesis.

To see what Jay and the Robot 6 gang are reading, click below.

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The new M.O.D.O.K. is ‘a bit of a charmer’

MODOK

After being defeated in last year’s World War Hulks storyline, the Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing, aka M.O.D.O.K., apparently decided it was time for a makeover. Above is a rough sketch of the new design for the character, compliments of artist Gabriel Hardman.

“It’s a new age, and we need a new M.O.D.O.K. who works in new ways,” writer Jeff Parker told Marvel.com. “This one will get out and interact in a way the previous model didn’t. And he’s a bit of a charmer.”

Hardman went into detail on his design process for the lovable killing machine.

“Jeff had some specifics he wanted to integrate, specifically the legs and bald head. My design process was to go back through the previous iterations of M.O.D.O.K.’s look to get a feel for the choices other artists had made over the years. But I mainly focused on his early appearances. Anytime I design something for Marvel, I want it to feel like it could fit into the world Jack Kirby designed, even if it has more contemporary industrial design elements,” Hardman said.

And if the spider legs aren’t working for you, never fear — Parker stated on Twitter that M.O.D.O.K. would have several different modes. “That’s only one of MODOK’s modes, @NinjaCyborg -hope you like the others more,” he said.

The new M.O.D.O.K. debuts in Hulk #29, on sale Feb. 2.

Tom Brevoort asks: Where’s the next superstar artist?

Où sont les superstars d'antan?

Où sont les superstars d'antan?

“My not-terribly insightful comic book epiphany of the day: right now, we’ve got a bunch of top-flight writers in the field, and the next generation on the horizon. But what we could really use is a new, young generation of break-out artists. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got a lot of excellent artists. But who was the last hot young guy who just exploded into the field? I feel like the pump is primed for one or more fresh young artists to just explode in a major, commercial way. When was the last time that happened? We could use an infusion of visual excitement in the books–across all companies.”

Thus spoke Tom Brevoort, Marvel Senior VP – Executive Editor, on Twitter last night. Personally, I think he’s probably right to wonder about this. Like he says, the point isn’t that there are no good or even great relatively young/relatively new artists right now — there are plenty. Personally I’ve been knocked out by Gabriel Hardman‘s work on Atlas and Hulk over the past year or so, just for example. But what Brevoort is looking for is an artist who just skyrockets to superstardom more or less out of the blue. That requires quite a delicate alchemy. The artist in question must be young enough or new enough or have been working far way enough from the Big Two’s audiences for their work to have “the shock of the new” when fans first see it. They must bring something different to the table than what established artists are doing, so that their work stands out, but they must also be working in a style that’s recognizable and acceptable to large numbers of superhero fans. Their work doesn’t necessarily have to be to your taste, but you should at least be able to understand what others see in it, even if you don’t see it yourself.

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Iron Man pounds the crap out of Red Hulk in Hulk #25

Hulk #25

Hulk #25

As Marvel finally confirmed in San Diego, Hulk #25 is the first issue by the new creative team of writer Jeff Parker and artist Gabriel Hardman. Above is the cover by Ed McGuinness, which I think was previously released with a blacked-out Hulk. Now you can see Iron Man beat on Thunderbolt Ross’s alter ego in all its glory.

More art and a press release about the new creative team from Marvel after the jump …

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It may not be ‘official,’ but Parker and Hardman are the new Hulk team

Hulk sketch by Gabriel Hardman

Hulk sketch by Gabriel Hardman

When Marvel’s September solicitations were released last month, the creative teams for the three Hulk titles were labeled as “Classified.” Word later trickled out, through online retailers and then the Marvel Previews catalog, that Agents of Atlas creators Jeff Parker and Gabriel Hardman are taking over Hulk with Issue 25.

Curiously, though, the publisher has yet to make an official statement about the change, which follows the conclusion of the Red Hulk saga and the hiring of writer Jeph Loeb to head Marvel’s new television division.

The closest Marvel has come to a public confirmation is an article posted yesterday afternoon on its website trumpeting Hardman’s new exclusive deal. If the secondary headline doesn’t provide enough of a clue to the artist’s next assignment — “The ATLAS artist signs exclusive with Marvel and prepares to tackle The Hulk” — the story’s final two paragraphs stop just short of making it official. Or “official-official”:

As for what the future holds for the artist, he plans to continue on Atlas as long as possible, but he also informs readers to keep their eyes open for his take on the green goliath known as The Hulk.

“Me and Parker and [colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser] are going to work on another book that is going to be big and have a lot of explosive punching and other big action things in it.”

Marvel had no comment. When contacted by Robot 6, Parker responded only with the following photo:

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