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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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What Are You Reading? with Andy Burns

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Andy Burns, editor-in-chief of the pop culture site Biff Bam Pop!, which is doing a holiday gift guide with giveaways through Dec. 24. You can follow them on Twitter for more information.

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

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Talking Comics with Tim | Greg Pak on Bill Mantlo

Greg Pak's first Bill Mantlo comic

Greg Pak‘s Afterword tribute to Bill Mantlo in the final issue of his Hulk run (The Incredible Hulks 635) genuinely gave me pause (and as I said as much in that week’s WAYR). Then last week when Kevin Melrose made us aware of LifeHealthPro/Bill Coffin‘s devastating profile of Bill Mantlo’s life since 1992, which clearly struck a chord with many Robot 6 readers. Once I saw Pak’s comment in the thread, I realized I wanted to talk to Pak about Mantlo. While I have long respected Pak as a writer, his decision to set up a donations page for Bill Mantlo’s care is the reason why I admire him. My thanks to Pak for the interview and for scanning the cover to the actual copy of his first Bill Mantlo comic (Micronauts 3), which we get to discuss also.

Tim O’Shea: At what point in your run on the Hulk did you realize that you wanted to write the Afterword, partially about Bill Mantlo?

Greg Pak: I’d cited Bill Mantlo as a big influence many times over the years in press and publicity for my various Hulk storylines. So it was a natural for me to focus on him in the afterward to Incredible Hulks #635. And it was a huge pleasure to be able to formally dedicate the run to Mantlo on that final page.

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Comics A.M. | $15,000 comic goes missing; donations for Bill Mantlo

Amazing Fantasy #15

Crime | A man in Lincoln, Nebraska, told police that a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, valued at $15,000, disappeared from his home sometime between Oct. 27 and Monday morning. The 1962 issue was kept with other comics, but the man claims several people had been in and out of his home since he last saw it. A near-mint copy of the comic, which features the first appearance of Spider-Man, sold at auction in March for $1.1 million. [Lincoln Journal Star]

Creators | Writer Greg Pak has set up a page to take donations for former comics writer Bill Mantlo, whose tragic situation was detailed in an article last week. “Bill Mantlo has had a huge influence on me as a writer and reader,” Pak said. “His Micronauts stories blew my mind as a kid and his Incredible Hulk run laid the groundwork for the themes I explored my five-and-a-half year run with the character.” Money donated through the site goes directly to Mike Mantlo, Bill’s brother, for Bill’s ongoing care. [Greg Pak]

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What Are You Reading? with Brian Ralph

Setting the Standard: Comics by Alex Toth 1952-1954

Welcome to What Are You Reading?, where each week we talk about what comics, graphic novels, books and what-have-you we’ve been reading lately. This week our special guest is Brian Ralph, creator of Daybreak, Cave-In and Reggie 12.

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

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Marvel cancels Alpha Flight with January’s Issue 8

Alpha Flight #8

Less than two months after announcing the title had been upgraded from an eight-issue miniseries to an ongoing, Marvel has canceled Alpha Flight — with Issue 8.

The blow was delivered this afternoon in Marvel’s January 2012 solicitations, where the publisher labels “the big showdown between Alpha Flight and the Master of the World,” somewhat uncharacteristically, as “THE FINAL ISSUE!” (Marvel tends not to telegraph a title’s cancellation.)

“Fans and friends, I’m sorry to confirm that #AlphaFlight will indeed end with issue #8,” co-writer Greg Pak said on Twitter, “but the book was originally conceived as an 8 issue mini, so we’re still telling the big, fun story we intended from the start. THANK YOU, #AlphaFlight fans — you guys are the best and have provided us huge amounts of fun and inspiration. And have no fear … the story’s heading for a huge, satisfying ending that @fredvanlente and I have been champing at the bit to unleash for months.”

Featuring the creative team of Pak, his Incredible Herc collaborator Fred Van Lente and artist Dale Eaglesham, Alpha Flight had a strong debut in June, selling an estimated 45,850 copies and claiming the 20th spot on Diamond Comic Distributors’ Top 300 for the month. Sales dropped off dramatically with the second issue, to 26,860; by September’s Issue 4, that number had fallen to about 23,400, barely hovering above Marvel’s traditional line of death.

The cancellation, however, seems par for the course for Alpha Flight, a property that’s had a difficult time finding its footing, and an audience, since the end of its original 130-issue run in 1994 (some might argue since creator John Byrne left in 1985 after 28 issues). The four subsequent revivals were short-lived, with the longest lasting just 20 issues.

The Fifth Color | This Banner…This Hulk!

A Marvel Riddle for the agesApologies for my absence, but I think it all worked out in the end, because this week we celebrate the end of Greg Pak’s six-year run on the Incredible Hulk. And we do so by talking about someone else’s comic.

Fantastic Four #51 is titled “This Man… This Monster.”  It’s one of those inspiring cover blurbs like “Spider-Man No More!” and “This Issue: Everybody Dies!”  Phrases which catch the eye and demand you read the book.  “This Man…This Monster!” is about the struggle of man… versus also man; our darker parts or outer appearance versus who we really are, inside.  You’ll notice there is nothing between the man and the monster, just an ellipsis.  It’s not “This Man AND This Monster,” which would suggest two different people, nor is it “This Man, This Monster” suggesting they are one and the same.  Three little dots almost let the reader decide as to what exactly the inner struggle is.  And that’s kinda what I’ve been doing with the Incredible Hulk throughout my adoration of the book.

No matter who he fought, the internal battle is key.  It’s tortured scientist Bruce Banner versus his raging alter-ego in a never-ending stalemate over who gets to be human.  I can’t say this is always the thrust of an issue or storyline, but it IS the thrust of the really good ones. The ones that make you think, and linger with you long after you’ve put the book away.  We come for the “Hulk smash,” but stay for the “Hulk think.”  And then Incredible Hulks #635 came along and blew my freakin’ mind.

Because after six years, the struggle is over. (A few SPOILERS after the jump!)

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First day of school for CBLDF Comics College

Cully Hamner's Flash, one of the drawings in the CBLDF auction

Here’s an opportunity to do good by doing something awesome: The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is launching Comics College, a series of “Master Sessions” on the craft and business of comics, led by well-known professionals. The campus is the CBLDF offices in New York; the first class is on Saturday, Sept. 17, and will feature Fred Van Lente (Action Philosophers, Incredible Hercules) and Greg Pak (Incredible Hercules, Incredible Hulk) discussing the ins and outs of self-publishing.

Can’t make it to NYC? You can still kick in and support the CBLDF by bidding on some of the pieces in their eBay auction, which ends on Sunday.

Or you could, you know, just give them some cash. But this is more fun.

What Are You Reading? with Von Allan

Hello and welcome once again to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is Von Allan, creator of the self-published graphic novel series Stargazer. The first volume is still available, while the second one is due in shops in October.

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

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Greg Pak and Mike McKone team up for Astonishing X-Men

Astonishing X-Men #44

Fresh off his run on The Incredible Hulk, writer Greg Pak will team with artist Mike McKone on Astonishing X-Men, Marvel announced today.

Their run begins in November’s Issue 44 as Storm seeks out Cyclops in a story that Marvel promises will feature “not just all-out action, but possibly a surprising romance.” But wait, isn’t Ororo, queen of Wakanda, married to T’Challa?

“After Xavier, the X-Men’s two greatest leaders are Scott and Ororo,” Pak says in an interview at “They’ve borne responsibilities few others can conceive. And just those experiences alone should provide them [with] reasons to bond. But maybe they’ve just never had a moment to consider it; each has always seemed to be wrapped up in a wild romance with someone else. The current Scott/Emma and Storm/T’Challa relationships are amongst the most passionate in the Marvel Universe. So yes, what the heck is going on? I’ll just say that everything that’s happening is utterly inconceivable, but completely real, completely in character, and completely in continuity.”

Astonishing X-Men marks a return to Marvel’s mutant franchise for both Pak and McKone. Pak wrote two X-Men: Phoenix miniseries as well as Magneto: Testament, while McKone co-created Exiles and drew issues of X-Men: Prime and X-Men: Unlimited.

“I am so ridiculously happy to be working with Mike on this book,” Pak says. “He’s tearing it up with his trademark clean lines, dynamic action, and phenomenal character work. And he’s cranking up the sexy like nobody’s business. Just look at that cover.

Comics A.M. | Flashpoint gets real? 31,000 flock to Otakon

from Flashpoint #4

Publishing | Popular comic-book guest star President Barack Obama will make a brief appearance in this week’s Flashpoint #4. DC Comics Executive Editor Eddie Berganza told USA Today that the inclusion of the actual President, rather than a fictional counterpart, signals that the danger is real — something that will get pushed as the publisher prepares for the September relaunch. [USA Today]

Publishing | Fantagraphics announced the lineup for the first volume of its EC archives series, which will collect Harvey Kurtzman’s war stories. [Fantagraphics blog]

Conventions | More than 31,000 anime and manga enthusiasts flocked to Baltimore over the weekend for Otakon, one of the biggest fan-oriented anime conventions. There were a few anime and manga licenses announced, but mainly it was a meet-and-greet for fans and publishers. [Anime News Network]

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What Are You Reading? with Chris Butcher

Casanova: Avarita #1

Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Chris Butcher.

Butcher is the manager of The Beguiling in Toronto and founder of The Toronto Comic Arts Festival. He’ll be at the UDON Booth #5037 and The Beguiling Original Art Sales Booth #1629 at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend.

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

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Talking Comics with Tim | Dale Eaglesham

Dale Eaglesham's Variant Cover: Alpha Flight 2

Today marks the release of the second issue of Marvel’s new Alpha Flight eight-issue miniseries. Given how committed and enthused the creative team of writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente (on evidence in the two writers’ May 2011 CBR interview) along with artist Dale Eaglesham are about the project, I hope it becomes a regular series, quite honestly. To mark the release of the latest issue, Eaglesham agreed to an email interview. I never tire of conducting discussions of this type, where I can find out the approach an artist takes in certain scenes or with particular characters. If you’re as much a fan of this latest incarnation of Alpha Flight as I clearly am, do Eaglesham the favor of following his marching orders (detailed in the last part of this interview) so that the book can hopefully become an ongoing. In addition to discussing Alpha Flight, I was pleased to learn more about the local charity that Eaglesham supports: Refuge RR, a local animal refuge.

Tim O’Shea: Your art clearly meshes well when in collaboration with writers like Van Lente and Pak, it seems like they give you opportunity to stretch the boundaries of what you can do as an artist. For example, in the shocking reveal of issue 1, I was struck by the flock of birds flying behind Heather. Was that something specifically requested in the script or was that totally your idea?

Dale Eaglesham: That was actually my idea. It was just a casual symbol I put in there, referring to lost freedom, for Mac, but also for the whole country. It foreshadows what’s coming for Alpha Flight and Canada, and creates a sense of foreboding. You know when all the birds fly away, there’s danger nearby… I love when I get a big shot like that, it allows me to add layers to the art.

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What Are You Reading?

Lost Girls

Hello and welcome to Wha Are You Reading? Today our special guest is illustrator, photographer, writer, filmmaker and jazz musician Dave McKean, whose works include Cages, Mr. Punch, Signal to Noise, The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, Violent Cases, Coraline and many, many more. He has a new book with writer Richard Dawkins, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True, coming out in October, as well as a graphic novel called Celluloid coming out from Fantagraphics in June. Special thanks to Chris Mautner for asking him to participate this week.

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

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The Fifth Color | Forward into the Past with Marvel solicitations for August 2011

Fear Itself: HF #5

August is going to look a lot like this

So here we are, looking ahead to August. The confetti and streamers from what will probably be the most successful year of Marvel films to date (three summer movies released consecutively helps!) will be quietly swept up, the San Diego Comic Con will have probably released tantalizing footage of the next year’s main event, the Avengers movie and oh, yeah. Something something comics something.

Looking to my extensive notes, I have dusted off the leather tomes of yesteryear and found that 2010 wasn’t half as lively as this year is shaping up to be. Sure, it was a month of endings and beginnings, plus vampires were everywhere and Shadowland was just kicking out the jams in all its mini-series glory but … looking back now, maybe it’s the nostalgia that keeps me from thinking better of the books that came out in August last year. Maybe it’s because I already know what became of each ending or beginning, how important vampires turned out to be and that yes, the Cable & the New Mutants: X-Force HC was a clue that Nate Summers was going to bow out at the end of Second Coming (man, Second Coming was last year? It feels like it’s been longer than that…).

With that in mind, can I tell you how excited I am for Fear Itself #5? Come look ahead at August and see what Marvel has in store after their banner year in film.
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