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What Are You Reading? with Curt Pires and Ramon Villalobos

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guests are the creative team behind the upcoming self-distributed indie comic LP, Curt Pires and Ramon Villalobos. You can read more about the comic in the interview Tim O’Shea did with Curt earlier this week.

And to see what they’ve been reading lately, click below.

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Chain Reactions | Stumptown Vol. 2 #1

Stumptown #1

Dex Parios returned to comics this week in the second volume of Stumptown by Greg Rucka, Matthew Southworth and Rico Renzi, as she begins to tackle “The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case.” Did the long-awaited return of Portland’s finest and feistiest private investigator deliver? Here are just a few reviews from around the web:

Matthew Santori-Griffith, Comicosity: “Volume one of Stumptown is probably one of my favorite comic series of the last few years, and for good reason. It’s the perfect blend of character focus, beautiful art, high production value, and sharp detail that makes lead character Dex Parios so brilliant to watch in action. Coming in with such high expectation off a previous volume (or case, as the books are titled), the start of volume two had a mighty hill to climb. I can say it succeeds in every way to match up to my expectation.”

Grant McLaughlin, The Weekly Crisis: “It is a noticeable departure from the tone of the original series, but it’s not a complete one-eighty. While Greg Rucka illustrates Dex’s stabler lifestyle by showing her unpacking the office, he also in certain to demonstrate that the Dex we know and love is still alive and well. A major part of the first volume was Dex’s own personal code of honour, which went a long way in making her a sympathetic character (well, that and her interactions with the book’s supporting cast), and although that initial scene might be a little confusing for readers new to the character, it reinforces that code and how capable of a private investigator Dex is.”

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Rucka and Williams originally were set for Wonder Woman: Earth One

Has anyone actually seen Grant Morrison and Lex Luthor in the same place at the same time?

While I don’t think there have been any official announcements about it, word is trickling out that Grant Morrison’s “putting the sex back into Wonder Woman” project is going to be Wonder Woman: Earth One. Bleeding Cool poses it as a question, but on the most recent 3 Chicks Review Comics podcast, Greg Rucka confirms it. He also says the gig was originally going to be his.

“I, at one point, was supposed to write Wonder Woman: Earth One,” he says. ” J.H. [Williams] was going to draw it.” Unfortunately, “I was told I was not going to do it. Dan DiDio called me and told me he was giving it to someone else. And I said if you take that away from me I can no longer work for you because I have taken many a job for you, sir, on the promise of doing this and now you’re taking it away and I can no longer accept your promises any more. He had his reasons for doing it; this is not me throwing stones. This is just the way things shook out.”

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The Middle Ground #120 | While we wait

The plus side of something being creator-owned is that, in most cases, that means it’s also creator-controlled; the more practical and technical aspects — release schedule, pricing, etc. — are something that creators have some level of input into, even if not final say over. Which is, let’s be honest, a pretty great thing … well, until it means you have to wait for the good stuff, of course. Which is to say: I can’t tell you how glad I am that Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth’s Stumptown is back this week.

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Food or Comics? | Caviar or Cavalier Mr. Thompson

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.

Conan the Barbarian #8

John Parkin

If I had $15: Whoah, another tough week to narrow things down. Is every Brian Wood-written title required to come out the same week of each month? Do Dark Horse and Marvel get together and plan it that way, so that people who only buy Wood comics only have to go to the store once a month? I think more than half the DC titles I buy come out this time every month, too. So yeah, lots to pick from …

Anyway, I’d start with one of those Brian Wood comics, Conan the Barbarian #8 (Dark Horse, $3.50), which features Vasilis Lolos on art. Lolos drew one of my favorite issues of Northlanders, “The Viking Art of Single Combat,” so it’s cool to see the two of them working together again. I’d also get a comic I’m sure will be popular with a few of my colleagues, the first issue of the new Stumptown miniseries by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth (Oni Press, $3.99). Next I’d get Manhattan Projects #6 (Image, $3.50); this issue turns the focus from America’s secret science program to Russia’s secret science program. Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra are having a lot of fun with this one. Finally, I’d get Uncanny X-Force #31 (Marvel, $3.99), which really picked things up last issue … and this is a comic that’s usually running on twice as many cylinders anyway.

If I had $30, I’d also grab two finales from DC Comics — Shade #12 and Resurrection Man #0 (both $2.99). Honestly, I never expected to see a Resurrection Man comic again, much less by the guys who wrote the original, so the fact that we got a good run of 13 issues is a pleasant surprise. Shade, of course, was planned as 12 issues from the beginning, and was a nice return to the Starman-verse by writer James Robinson. That leaves me room for three more $2.99 comics, which means I’m going to bypass X-Men, The Massive and Avengers Assemble this week (let’s assume that I’ll one day spend my splurge money on the trades) and instead go with Chew #28 (Image, $2.99), It Girl and the Atomics #2 (Image, $2.99) and Demon Knights #0 (DC Comics, $2.99).

Splurge: Assuming I wouldn’t spend my unlimited gift card on single issues, I’d be looking at the first Bucko collection from Dark Horse ($19.99) and Fantagraphics’ Is That All There Is? trade ($25).

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Comics A.M. | Vertical snags Gundam: The Origin, Wolfsmund

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin

Publishing | Vertical Inc. announced Sunday at Otakon in Baltimore that it has licensed Yoshikazu Yasuhiko’s 23-volume Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin and Mitsuhisa Kuji’s Wolfsmund. [Anime News Network]

Publishing | A year after the launch of Kodansha Comics, general manager Kimi Shimizu and Dallas Middaugh of Random House Publisher Services discuss their re-release of Sailor Moon, Kodansha’s fall line and the state of the manga market in the post-Borders landscape. “Manga numbers have been in decline for the past couple years, but what we’ve discovered in the past year or so is that decline is dramatically slowing,” Middaugh said .”So the simple fact of the matter is that most manga readers —usually when they’re committed, they’re committed—are reading a series. I actually believe that it takes more than the loss of a retail outlet to keep them from pursuing the manga that they want to read.” [ICv2]

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Previews: What Looks Good for September

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. Michael and Graeme have each picked the five new comics we’re most anticipating in order to create a Top 10 of the best new comics 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.

Stumptown: The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case #1

Graeme McMillan

Blacklung HC (Fantagraphics Books, $24.99): This one grabbed me as soon as I read the high-concept in the solicits: A man decides to be as evil as possible so that he’ll be reunited with his dead wife in Hell when he dies. Depressing, existential AND romantic? I couldn’t sign up quickly enough for Chris Wright’s original graphic novel debut.

Chris Ware: Building Stories HC (Pantheon Books, $50.00): To be honest, I run hot and cold on Ware’s work; as a formalist, he’s wonderful and his work is technically perfect, but I don’t always get the emotional hook that I want from his work, and that’s a real problem for me. Luckily (or not? This is a pricey book to gamble on), the technical aspects of this box set of interrelated publications, all seen for the first time here, sounds interesting enough to sample no matter how cold the writing leaves me. Damn my curiosity about comics formats!

Happy! #1 (of 4) (Image Comics, $2.99): I’ll admit it; I’m more than a little dubious about the “It’s a hit man teaming up with a magical flying My Little Pony” set-up of this new series, but it’s Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson, so I almost feel a sense of “How bad can it actually BE?”

Steed and Mrs. Peel #1 (BOOM! Studios, $3.99): I’ve always enjoyed the old Avengers TV show at something of arm’s length, having only seen a handful of episodes (but enjoyed them greatly); what draws me to this new series is the presence of Mark Waid, who seems to be on fire these days between Insufferable and Daredevil.

Stumptown: The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case #1 (Oni Press, $3.99): Oh, you should’ve seen me when I found out this was finally coming out. Not only did I absolutely love the first Stumptown series a couple of years ago, but I’ve also been on a Greg Rucka novel re-reading kick recently, so finding out that Dex’s client for this new story is the lead character from A Fistful of Rain made me almost impossibly happy. Easily my most-anticipated book of the month.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Ed Brubaker isn’t walking through that door

Gotham Central #1

What does Ed Brubaker leaving Captain America have to do with New-52 storytelling? For me, the connection goes through Gotham Central.

Okay, that requires a bit more explanation. Mr. Brubaker isn’t leaving Captain America on bad terms, but apart from Winter Soldier he’s not especially interested in writing any more superhero comics. It’s not the same as Chris Roberson’s principled departure from DC, but it puts me in a similar mood.

Like Roberson, Brubaker is a good storyteller who can incorporate shared-universe lore effectively into his comics. For example, Winter Soldier’s first issue started out as a straightforward super-spy caper, but abruptly veered close to Silver-Age-Wacky territory with [SPOILER ALERT, I guess] the arrival of a gun-toting ape. The rest of the arc combined a couple of longtime Fantastic Four villains (one minor, one pretty major) with the threat of regional warfare. It never did get truly goofy, but it was rooted in a Marvel Universe where the former Soviet Union had some pretty odd operatives. Of course, the Winter Soldier concept itself is a retcon (Bucky was revived as Soviet covert agent) of a retcon (he died near the end of World War II).

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What Are You Reading? with Ed Piskor

G.I. Joe #60

This week our special guest is Ed Piskor, creator of Wizzywig and Brain Rot, and artist on the Harvey Pekar-written graphic novels Macedonia and The Beats.

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

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The Middle Ground #105 | How long has this been going on?

Reading Greg Rucka feel anxious about the timely release of his new Stumptown arc got me thinking about the strange, hypocritical and entirely arbitrary attitude I have somehow developed toward the shipping schedules of superhero books versus creator-owned comics. Warning: It may be ridiculous.

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Quote of the day | ‘Last year was not banner for the ladies’

“This past year, 2011, I was asked this question a lot, and here we are into the first quarter of 2012, and it’s happening again (or still, if you rather). Most frequently, it comes up in regard to my work in the comics industry. Last year was not banner for the ladies, and this one isn’t off to a strong start, either, in fact. Wasn’t good for women within the industry itself, nor within the pages of the stories being told. Those who’ve had the unmitigated temerity to actually comment upon this state of affairs publicly have ended up paying a surprisingly heavy price. The gender of the speaker has been largely irrelevant, though to be sure, it’s the women who’ve stepped up have taken the harder hits. But all who’ve pointed out the absence of women both on the page and behind it have been ridiculed, insulted, and, absurdly enough, even threatened with violence. Conversely, those attempting to defend their mistreatment of women within the industry have revealed a staggering lack of understanding, empathy, and self-awareness, while seeming to rejoice in an arrogance that is near heart-stopping in its naked sexism and condescension.

To say there are those who don’t get it is an understatement; it would be like describing the Japanese tsunami as ‘minor flooding.'”

Greg Rucka, in an essay addressing the frequently asked question,
“How Do You Write Such Strong Female Characters?”

Comics A.M. | Marvel answers frustrated mom’s call for help

West Coast Avengers #1

Comics | When 4-year-old Anthony Smith didn’t want to wear his hearing aid because superheroes don’t wear them, his mother emailed Marvel to ask if they had any pictures of superheroes wearing a hearing aid. Not only did Marvel editor Bill Rosemann respond with an image of the cover of 1984’s West Coast Avengers #1, which featured Hawkeye wearing a hearing aid, he also had artist Nelson Ribeiro transform Anthony into a superhero, Blue Ear. [Concord Monitor]

Publishing | Former Marvel editor Jody LeHeup, who was let go by the publisher in October during a round of layoffs, has joined Valiant Entertainment as associate editor. [press release]

Conventions | Rich Lopez has a gallery of photos from last weekend’s Dallas Comic Con. [The Dallas Voice]

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Matthew Southworth reveals title, cover art for next Stumptown volume

In February, Stumptown artist Matthew Southworth teased that he and writer Greg Rucka would return this summer with another installment of the Oni Press crime series. Now on his blog he’s revealed the title of the series, “The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case,” as well as the cover art for the first issue, which should arrive in August.

Debuting in 2009, Stumptown follows Dex Parios, a Portland, Oregon, private investigator with a gambling problem who, in the first miniseries, accepted a job tracking down a casino owner’s granddaughter in exchange for settling her debt.

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What Are You Reading? with Alex Dueben

Sacre Bleu

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our special guest this week is Alex Dueben, who you probably know from his interviews for the main site, Comic Book Resources, as well as for sites like Suicide Girls.

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

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This weekend, it’s Emerald City Comicon

Emerald City Comicon kicks off today and continues through Sunday at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

Scheduled guests include Bryan Lee O’Malley, Robert Kirkman, Brandon Graham, Don Rosa, Bill Sienkiewicz, Greg Rucka, Jhonen Vasquez, Matt Fraction, Gail Simone, Ed Brubaker, Jim Valentino, Bill Willingham, Erik Larsen, Marc Silvestri, Jim Woodring, Brian Wood, Tim Sale, Mike Allred, Kurt Busiek, Darick Robertson, Greg Capullo, Dan Slott, Steve Lieber, Rick Remender, Steve Niles, Phil Hester, Joëlle Jones, Nate Powell, Chris Roberson, Tony Moore, Ben Templesmith, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Scott Wegener, Shannon Wheeler, Brian Churilla, David Petersen, Colleen Coover, Nathan Edmondson, Joe Casey, Paul Tobin, Francis Manapul, Ryan North, Jeff Parker, Ryan Ottley, Jamie S. Rich, Tim Seeley, Nick Spencer, Matt Wagner, Thom Zahler, Scott Kurtz, Joe Keatinge, Daryl Gregory and many more.

You can find the complete programming schedule on the ECCC site, and here’s a round-up of various things you can do, buy and expect to find out about at the show …

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