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The Fifth Color | Comics shopping for people who don’t like comics

from the Broadway production "The Book of Mormon"

Time to spread the good word!

OK, it’s the last weekend before Christmas. This is it: Time to gird your loins and brave those last-minute gifts for friends and family you’re just not sure about. Or heck, maybe you were invited some place and you feel like you should bring a gift along. A Secret Santa deadline? Unexpected company who doesn’t have anything under the tree? Did you just get something practical and want to supplement it so you’re not just the Sock Giver? Don’t worry, comics are here to help!

“But Carla,” you cry, “not everyone likes comics! I want to be cool and hip, not just the nerd who foists other nerd stuff on people!” “Well,” I reply, “comics are for everyone, even those who have no interest in the medium.” There are just so much comic influence in the media right now, from TV and movies to games and other visual aesthetics, it’s hard to escape comic culture entirely. Trust me, even those who have never picked up a comic in their lives and have sworn off the idea of ever looking at words and pictures together in a sequence have a little bit of comics in their lives somewhere and, this Christmas is a good time to capitalize on it.

If you can, please try and make it in to your friendly neighborhood comic shop for some of these goodies. They’ll be glad you did! Otherwise, Amazon has their last minute shipping dates here. All right, let’s do this …

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Comics A.M. | Why ‘One Piece’ is world’s most popular manga

"One Piece" newspaper ad

“One Piece” newspaper ad

Manga | Roland Kelts looks at the international popularity of One Piece, whose sales number 300 million volumes in Japan and 45 million in the rest of the world. The piece includes an interview with creator Eiichiro Oda — he says he writes what he imagines his 15-year-old self would like to read — as well as editors from Viz Media, the American publisher of One Piece, who discuss the reasons for its popularity overseas as well as the global impact of manga piracy on these manga pirates. [The Japan Times]

Conventions | Which shows are money-makers for creators, and how much do they make? The answers, broken out into a handy infographic, may surprise you. [The Devastator]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Walking Dead’ reclaims top spot in bookstores

The Walking Dead, Vol. 19

The Walking Dead, Vol. 19

Graphic novels | Five volumes of The Walking Dead made the November BookScan list of the Top 20 graphic novels sold in bookstores. As ICv2 points out, the fact that the first volume is still charting (at No. 13) bodes well for the series, as it means new readers are continuing to come in. The latest volume of Naruto took the No. 2 slot, and there were nine volumes of manga overall, including three volumes of Attack on Titan and the newest volume of Yotsuba&! There were five DC Comic titles on the list, as well as the latest volume of Dark Horse’s Avatar: The Last Airbender. Completely missing from the Top 20? Anything from Marvel. [ICv2]

Publishing | After three years at DC Entertainment, John Rood will step down on Jan. 1 as executive vice president of sales, marketing and business development. The position is being eliminated, with marketing and publicity to fall under the auspices of Amit Desai, senior vice president of franchise management. Sales, custom publishing and business development will again be overseen by Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee. [The Beat]

Gift Guides | Here’s a spin on the traditional gift guide: Ten things not to buy a comics fan. [Crave Online]

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Comics A.M. | Cartoonist Robert Ariail wins Berryman Award

By Robert Ariail

Awards | The National Press Foundation has named political cartoonist Robert Ariail, who draws for Universal UClick and the Spartanburg, South Carolina, Herald-Journal, as the winner of this year’s Berryman Award. [The Washington Post]

Creators | Brothers Wesley and Bradley Sun discuss their upcoming graphic novel, Chinatown; Wesley is a hospital chaplain in Chicago, and Bradley quit his job in Florida to join his brother and work on the book. [Hyde Park Herald]

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Comics A.M. | ComiXology is third-highest grossing iPad app of 2012 [UPDATED]

comiXology

Digital comics | Comics by comiXology was the third-highest grossing app on the iPad in 2012. Last year Comics made No. 10 on the charts, and two other comiXology apps, their Marvel and DC apps, also made the Top 20. [Inside Mobile Apps]

Manga | Black Lagoon creator Rei Hiroe has announced that after a nearly two-year hiatus, he’ll resume his hit manga in January or February. The violent action/black comedy series, which centers on a team of pirates/mercenaries, is published in North America by Viz Media. [Crunchyroll]

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Comics A.M. | Final Dandy print edition features Paul McCartney

Publishing | The final print edition of the 75-year-old children’s comic The Dandy arrives Tuesday, featuring a cameo by none other than Paul McCartney. When it was announced the publication would move online, McCartney wrote the editors explaining it was his lifelong dream to appear in the comic; tomorrow he’ll be seen along with Desperate Dan. [Daily Mail, Daily Mail]

Passings | Jeff Millar, the co-creator, with Bill Hinds, of the comic strip Tank McNamara, has died at the age of 70. [Houston Chronicle]

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USA Today selects best ‘graphic novels’ of 2011

Infinite Kung Fu

USA Today writers-about-comics David Colton, John Geddes and Brian Truitt have assembled a year-end rundown of graphic novels, webcomics and comic-book collections that’s part best-of list, part holiday gift guide. The books, in no apparent order, are:

Flashpoint, by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert (DC Comics)
Habibi, by Craig Thompson (Pantheon)
Mail-Order Mysteries: Real Stuff from Old Comic Book Ads, by Kirk Demarais (Insight Editions)
Bob Powell’s Terror, by Craig Yoe (IDW Publishing)
The Death-Ray, by Daniel Clowes (Drawn and Quarterly)
xkcd, by Randall Munroe
Infinite Kung Fu, by Kagan McLeod (Top Shelf)
Walter Simonson’s The Mighty Thor: Artist’s Edition (IDW Publishing)
Who is Jake Ellis? Vol. 1, by Nathan Edmondson and Tonci Zonjic(Image Comics)
The New 52 collection (DC Comics)
An Elegy for Amelia Johnson, by Andrew Rostan, Dave Valeza and Kate Kasenow (Archaia)
Hark! A Vagrant, by Kate Beaton (Drawn and Quarterly)
The Homeland Directive, by Robert Venditti and Mike Huddleston (Top • Shelf)
One Soul, by Ray Fawkes (Oni Press)
Green River Killer: A True Detective Story, by Jeff Jensen and Jonathan Case (Dark Horse)

Visit the USA Today website to read what they have to say about each entry.


The best of the best of the year lists

Daredevil #7

As the end of 2011 approaches, websites and publications are unveiling various year-end lists and gift guides — so many that keeping up is a challenge. Here’s just some of what’s been released in the past few days

• Matt Madden and Jessica Abel, editors for the Best American Comics series, have released their annual Notable Comics list. Every year they try to get their hands on every North American comic that’s published every year so they can narrow them down to about 100 or so comics for their guest editor to choose from for each edition. This year’s list includes comics by Matt Kindt, Brandon Graham, Megan Kelso, Kathryn and Stuart Immonen, Michael Deforge, Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson, Mike Dawson, Joshua Cotter and many, many more.

• In a list of their favorite music, movies, books and more of 2011, The Tulane Hullabaloo spotlights Mark Waid, Marcos Martin and Paolo Rivera’s run on Daredevil: “The series contains a sense of pure, manic glee missing from many of today’s dark, gritty and realistic superheroes, with Daredevil grinning as he makes snow angels on the rooftops of his beloved city rather than brooding over his internal demons. It’s a joy to read every month and cannot be recommended more, even to non-comic book enthusiasts.”

• UK comics retailer Forbidden Planet has been posting best of the year lists from various comic folks on their blog, including Sean Azzopardi, Mary Talbot, Edward Ross and Robin Etherington.

• MTV Splash Page counts down the top five comic book movie deaths of 2011.

• Brian Truitt at USA Today offers a list of gift ideas for comic fans.

• Lauren Davis at ComicsAlliance offers a guide to various webcomics collections and merchandise she thinks would make fine gifts — “a fantastic way to convert friends and family to your favorite webcomic.”

The Fifth Color | How to give the gift of comics this season

Marvel Holiday Special vol 1

I bet you Ben never knows what to get Franklin every year...

Perhaps your family gathering is going to have way more kids than previous years. Maybe the moment is right for you to hand down some traditional comics reading to a son or daughter. Is your significant other a little more receptive toward your choice of literature these days? You could have even pulled a co-worker at your Secret Santa office party who likes to talk to you about the latest comic book movie. Personally, my brother gave me his comic collection when I was a kid, and I always like to try and give him a couple new ones in return, as a way of saying thank you and reminding him of his roots.

We all have reasons for giving comics and comic-related accessories this holiday season. Comics have been vetted in popular culture, can cover a dozen different interests and physical forms, and always have been a perfectly wonderful gift for any age or interest. In fact, I think we’d all appreciate a little recruitment drive to keep comics at the top of the charts and off cancellation lists!

I’m not saying it’s easy, though. Well, it might be. For some fair readers, you could be looking at a big pile of gifts already wrapped under your Christmas tree, taking a deep breath of satisfaction. Then again, you could be strapped for cash, gift ideas and time to make sure that you don’t show up somewhere empty handed. Or worse, you could be the giftee and all Grandma knows is that you like Batman. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a guide to all the best gifts this year? Well, there is, the fine folks at CBR made up a Holiday Gift Guide, while we here at Robot 6 reached out to comic pros to see what they recommended, and I could recommend no finer list made by dashing and intellectual folks.

Then again, what if this is odd gift shopping? Working retail, I meet the clueless, the frazzled, the fearful and the confused for whom a simple and eloquently put-together list would not be enough. So for you, who will still be shopping on Dec. 24, to anyone who has ever gotten two Batman toothbrushes as a gag gift, to anyone who might be sent out into the cold for the first time to find a comic book, this guide is for you.

This is your Fear Gift-self shopping guide.

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The best of the best of the year lists

Hark! A Vagrant

As the end of 2011 approaches, websites and publications are unveiling various year-end lists and gift guides — so many that keeping up is a challenge. Here’s just some of what’s been released in the past few days:

• Time has released their list of the top 10 fiction books of 2011, which includes two graphic novels — The Death Ray by Daniel Clowes at No. 10 and Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton at No. 7.

• Prolific manga commentator Deb Aoki lists her nominations for the 15 best manga of 2011, divided up by category (shoujo, shonen, etc.). Despite talk of a “manga bust” in recent years, 2011 was a pretty good year for new series, and there are some books here that are definitely worth a look.

• Garrett Martin, Hillary Brown and Sean Edgar at Paste Magazine share their picks for the 20 Best Comic Books of 2011, which they’ve broken into two different lists — new comics and reissues. Their lists include Animal Man, Big Questions, the We3 Deluxe Edition and Celluloid, among many others.

• Drawn’s John Martz shares his favorite books of the year, which include Pope Hats, Paying for It, Mister Wonderful and The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists.

• The Comic Vault present a lengthy discussion among their bullpen of their favorites of the year, breaking it down in various creator and comic book categories.

• Multiversity Comics named Image Comics publisher the year, and has released lists of the best new titles and most overlooked titles of 2012.

• Comics Should Be Good!’s Kelly Thompson shares her third annual “female positive comics holiday gift list,” which includes Shadoweyes in Love, Echo, Batman: The Black Mirror and Strange Tales II, among many others.

Robot 6 Holiday Gift-Giving Guide, Part 4

And a partridge in a pear tree … we wrap up our Holiday Gift-Giving Guide today with even more gift suggestions from comic pros. Like the previous days, we asked them:

1. What comic-related gift or gifts would you recommend giving this year, and why?
2. What gift (comic or otherwise) is at the top of your personal wish list, and why?

Ho-ho-hopefully you’ve gotten the chance to check out the previous three installments. If not, it isn’t too late:

Part 1: Jim McCann, Matt Kindt, Daryl Gregory, Jim “Zub” Zubkavich, Jamie S. Rich, Ryan Cody
Part 2: Jeff Parker, Tim Seeley, Ross Campbell, Kody Chamberlain, Ian Brill, Jamaica Dyer
Part 3: Mike Carey, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kagan McLeod, Kevin Colden, Thom Zahler, Van Jensen

And here is today’s round-up …

Joey Weiser

1. For the kids (or kids-at-heart): Okie Dokie Donuts by Chris “Elio” Eliopoulos – One of my favorite books of the year. Each page is crammed to the brim with kinetic artwork and fun comics!

For the art lover: “Behold! The Dinosaurs!” print by Dustin Harbin – Absolutely gorgeous print featuring one of my favorite subjects: Dinosaurs!

For the comic strip enthusiast: Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson – Super engaging strips that are full of life and very funny. I’m very glad that Fantagraphics is publishing these.

For the manga reader: Cross Game by Mitsuru Adachi – A recent series that I’ve been infatuated with after having it recommended to me by several friends. A manga with a very welcoming atmosphere and tons of heart.

For the indie-minded: A few comics from Blank Slate Books: Dinopopolous by Nick Edwards and The Survivalist by Box Brown – Two great-looking books from a publisher that might be off some folks’ radars at the moment. I haven’t even read these yet, and I feel confident recommending them!

2. Well, my dad has a long-standing tradition of giving me a volume of the Complete Peanuts collections for birthdays and holidays, so I’ve got that covered. Let’s see…

I suppose there are a few Japanese imported books that would make the top of my list of things I’ve had my eye on, but haven’t had the chance/extra cash to buy for myself. These fall under the category of “Things That I’m Not Likely to Stumble Across In-Person and Say, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to get that!’” Two that come to mind are One Piece Green, a “databook” which contains a treasure-trove of sketches and notes from Eiichiro Oda from the years leading up to and during his epic manga series One Piece. I’ve also been eyeing some Shigeru Mizuki (Gegege No Kitaro, Onward Towards Our Noble Death) yokai encyclopedias that pop up on eBay. Those look Beautiful with a capital B!

Joey Weiser is the creator of Cavemen in Space, Monster Isle, The Ride Home and Mermin. He also writes the Spongebob Squarepants comic.

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The Robot 6 Holiday Gift-Giving Guide, Part 3

Flex Mentallo Man of Muscle Mystery Deluxe Edition

Flex Mentallo Man of Muscle Mystery Deluxe Edition

Four calling birds, three french hens, two turtle doves … welcome to day three of our holiday gift-giving guide, where we ask comic pros:

1. What comic-related gift or gifts would you recommend giving this year, and why?
2. What gift (comic or otherwise) is at the top of your personal wish list, and why?

A great big thank you to everyone who helped us out this year, including the ones who’ll be showcased tomorrow. Be sure to come back then for our big wrap-up!

Mike Carey

1. The Simpsons/Futurama Crossover Crisis. Leela helps Maggie deal with school bullies. Homer and Bender go drinking. England invades the USA. Come on, you need this.

Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery. The most ludicrous and wonderful supporting character from Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol got his own miniseries, and it’s just now being reprinted for the first time. I loved this miniseries when it first came out, and I’m gearing up to love it all over again.

Starstruck. The great Lee/Kaluta sci-fi epic, now between two robust hard covers. I should declare an interest: I wrote the intro. But I did that because it’s awesome beyond the feasible limits of possible awesomeness.

2. A Very Peculiar Practice, season 2. Wow. Just how much of my life right now is ’80s nostalgia? I think I need to get some professional help. Probably from Duran Duran.

Mike Carey has written numerous comics (and a few novels) over his career, including Lucifer, My Faith In Frankie, Ultimate Fantastic Four and Hellblazer. He currently writes X-Men: Legacy and The Unwritten.

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The Robot 6 Holiday Gift-Giving Guide, Part 2

Harvey Comics Classics Vol. 1

Yesterday we kicked off our holiday gift-giving guide, where we asked creators like Jim McCann, Matt Kindt and more for gift suggestion and what they’d want to receive this year. Today we’re back with six more creators, and we asked them the same questions:

1. What comic-related gift or gifts would you recommend giving this year, and why?
2. What gift (comic or otherwise) is at the top of your personal wish list, and why?

So without further ado, let the joy continue …

Jeff Parker

1. If you have young children, you can give them hours of quality time with any of Dark Horse’s Harvey Comics collections. My kids have been poring through them repeatedly. I’ll be following up with old back issues of Casper, Dot, Richie Rich and Hot Stuff from the local comics shops; they’re always very cheap.

2. I would not sneeze at getting that Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes volume from Fantagraphics.

Jeff Parker is the writer of Hulk, Thunderbolts and the webcomic Bucko.

Tim Seeley

All-Star Superman

1. I’m a firm believer in buying comics for everyone on your list, even if they aren’t an avid fan. Make ‘em a fan! All-Star Superman for the superhero fan, Dungeons & Dragons from IDW for the gamer, Habibi for the sophisticated reader, and, of course, my Hack/Slash Omnibi for the horror fan. Or, if you’re planning on dropping a bit more, might I suggest an iPad, loaded with comics apps?

2. I want the collected version of the web strip OGLAF, which I thoroughly enjoy. I wouldn’t mind a CS Moore Witchblade statue to inspire me while I write.

Tim Seeley seems to be all over the place lately, whether it’s writing the new Bloodstrike series from Extreme or Witchblade for Top Cow, drawing issues of Marvel’s Generation Hope, or working on his own creations like Hack/Slash and Jack Kraken. There’s a good chance I forgot something, but you can follow him on Twitter to learn more.

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For the fan who has everything: generic superhero Snuggies!

If the rapid approach of the holidays has pushed you into panic mode, just relax, because you’ve already found the perfect gift for the superhero-comics fan in your life (or, y’know, yourself): a superhero Snuggie, or as the trademark sticklers prefer to call it, a “Comfy Throw Blanket With Sleeves”!

If you can’t fight crime like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman or Spider-Man, you can at least look like them — well, kind of? — while remaining toasty in the comfort of your own beige living room, while sitting on your own beige sofa and watching your own (probably) beige television. Hey, I’m only going by the product photos, which do a better job of advertising furniture than selling one-size-fits-all Snuggies Comfy Throw Blankets With Sleeves using two models and Photoshop.

Batman is out of stock, but you can still get Superman ($30.97), Wonder Woman ($25.99) and Spider-Man ($24.95) while supplies last! Act now and you’ll get … I don’t know, peace of mind? The satisfaction of seeing your loved one smile uncomfortably while modeling, and pretending to appreciate, a garish, yet comfy, fleece shroud? Yeah, probably that.

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The Robot 6 Holiday Gift-Giving Guide, Part 1

‘Tis the season for decking those halls, trimming those trees, lighting the menorah and, of course, figuring out what to buy for your friends and family. To help give you some ideas, we reached out to a few comic creators, asking them:

1. What comic-related gift or gifts would you recommend giving this year, and why?
2. What gift (comic or otherwise) is at the top of your personal wish list, and why?

We’ve gotten back a bunch of suggestions, which we’ll run between now and the end of the week. So let the merriment commence …

Jim McCann

1. Exclusive 2011 Janet Lee Holiday Ornaments
Every year, Janet does about 12 ornaments, three sets of four. This year, she has done Hipster Animals, Scary Toys and Art Nouveau Angels. They are signed and dated, and at the end of the season, that’s it! She stops making them. I’ve been collecting them since 2007, and now our tree is almost completely filled with Janet’s art. You can buy them exclusively through her Etsy shop.

Oh, and if you’re REALLY nice, she MAY have a very limited Dapper Men ornament or two. Just ask!

2. This year, for myself, I’m going with a mix of Blu-Rays (portable Blu-Ray player, please, Santa!) and books. But the thing I’m REALLY excited for is the hardcover edition of the Complete Ripley novels, by Patricia Highsmith. Most people only know of Ms. Highsmith through The Talented Mr. Ripley (and classic film lovers through Strangers On a Train). There were actually five Tom Ripley novels, and the collection looks amazing. Why these books? My spouse recently Tweeted a quote from John Lithgow that struck me as a writer: “Duality, duplicity, truth and deception, good becoming bad and vice-versa are crucial elements of great storytelling.” Highsmith was and remains an unsung hero of mastering that, so I hope I learn something in the process!

Happy Holidays from the Dapper Lariosa-McCann household!

Jim McCann is the writer of Return of the Dapper Men and its upcoming sequel, Marvel Zombies Christmas Carol, Hawkeye:Blindspot and the upcoming Mind The Gap.

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