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Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. It’s back to a full work week — unless, of course, you’re heading to Charlotte, North Carolina, for HeroesCon 2013.
However, before you board that plane or plot that route, there’s a New Comics Day chock-full of quality releases. Join our contributors for a rundown of some of the highlights.
Jason Latour, artist on the Mignola-verse titles Sledgehammer 44 and B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Pickens County Horror, has posted the image below to his blog, and it’s a doozy. His work on those two Hellboy spinoffs has been under-praised, pitched perfectly between the contributions made to Dark Horse’s flagship line by the likes of Guy Davis and Duncan Fegredo. This composition was produced as badge designs and
program cover an exclusive print for this year’s HeroesCon, which as Latour points out, has been an ambition of his for most of his life. That’s another one scratched off the bucket list.
Close-ups of several of these panels can be seen at Latour’s Instagram feed, in various stages of completion. He’s on something of a hot streak as an artist and a writer these last couple of years. I don’t buy that many Marvel comics these days, but his presence on Winter Soldier sold it to me. I’ll miss it, but here’s hoping he makes his way back to Dark Horse for more digging around in Mignola’s sandbox.
Awards | Online voting is open through April 30 for the sixth annual Inkwell Awards, which recognize excellence in comic-book inking. The winners will be announced during a ceremony at HeroesCon, held June 7-9 in Charlotte, North Carolina. [Inkwell Awards]
Comics | On the website of the conservative Media Research Center, Kristine Marsh and Matt Philbin accuse DC Comics and Marvel of having a “homosexual agenda”: “Like the rest of American pop culture, comic books have increasingly included pro-gay propaganda pieces aimed at the children and young adults who read them.” [Media Research Center]
The writer of Captain Marvel and Ghost explains the whole story on her blog — and you should read it because it’s very sweet and she tells it much better than I’m going to — but the digest version is this: This year at Heroes Con, Kelly Sue DeConnick met a young girl named Winter who likes to draw ninjas. When Winter declared that she and DeConnick should make a ninja comic together, the writer agreed, for reasons the writer explains in her post. Seriously, go read it.
It’s a wonderful story, but it doesn’t end there. DeConnick is going to write the story a panel at a time and will tweet the descriptions with the hashtag #winterstale. That’s how Winter will get her instructions, but it’s also how you can get yours, because she and DeConnick are opening the project up to anyone who wants to join in. You, your kids, your parents, whoever. Simply reply to any #winterstale panel description with a twitpic or a link to your drawing and DeConnick will repost them to the Winter’s Tales Tumblr page. If you don’t have a Twitter account and don’t want one, you can play along via Tumblr instead.
DeConnick’s plan is to print her and Winter’s comic as a “punkzine style” minicomic to sell at next year’s HeroesCon, with all proceeds going to Winter’s college fund. If you turn your own pages into a minicomic, she’ll swap with you.
If you’d like to know a bit more about what you’ll be drawing, they’re calling the comic Ninja Princess Zombie Rockstar and, per Winter’s drawing interests, will fill it with the following:
Artist Alley Comics, the digital imprint that includes Richard Case, Craig Rousseau, Rich Woodall, Kelly Yates and others, officially launched their site this week, as several of them attend HeroesCon this weekend to promote it.
Right now if you head to the site you can download several “zero” and first issues, including Case’s Annie Ammo, Rousseau and Woodall’s Kyrra: Alien Jungle Girl, Yates’ MonstHer, Chris Kemple’s Red Vengeance and Kill All Monsters! by our own Michael May and Jason Copland. There’s also a sampler that gives you a sneak preview of all of the comics. Go check’em out, as they are all free.
Conventions | Creative director Rico Renzi discusses HeroesCon, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this weekend with a three-day event that’s experienced a spike in advance ticket sales: “Stan Lee’s attendance to this year’s show has definitely caused a spike in advance ticket sales from what I can tell. I honestly like the show at just the size it is; it’s just right. I used to hop on a bus from Baltimore to go the NYCC and I loved it for the first couple years. It just got too big for me too enjoy it, you couldn’t walk around without rubbing up against strangers. It’s a great alternative to San Diego now I guess. If you’re looking for a pure comic book show though, HeroesCon is where it’s at.” In addition to Lee, this year’s guests include Neal Adams, Mark Bagley, Cliff Chiang, Frank Cho, Becky Cloonan, Geof Darrow, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Evan Dorkin, Tommy Lee Edwards, Matt Fraction, Francesco Francavilla, Jaime Hernandez, Dave Johnson, Jeff Lemire, Paul Levitz, Mike Mignola, George Perez, Louise Simonson, Walt Simonson, Scott Snyder and Bernie Wrightson. [The Comics Reporter]
“I was faced with a dilemma: should I just refuse to do them? Should I do them for free and annoy my neighbours, who would be charging? Or should I take the money and leave myself open to charges of hypocrisy and other malarkey? My elegant solution is to do Marvel and DC character sketches as usual, but to donate the proceeds from drawing those characters to the Hero Initiative. I’ve been in touch with the organisation about this and they’re keen, and have helpfully supplied me with official logos and so forth, so that’s what’s happening. In short: from the point of view of you, the attendee wanting a sketch of Thor, it’ll be business as usual. Plus, you’ll be helping a good cause. Everybody wins!”
— Roger Langridge, on whether he should do sketches of Marvel and DC Comics characters this weekend at HeroesCon 2012 after he said he would no longer work for either company because of concerns about the way they treat creators. So instead of keeping the money he’ll get for drawing them, he’ll be donating it — a very classy move that doesn’t leave his fans disappointed.
Retailing | Tacoma, Washington, store Comic Book Ink, a seven-time nominee for the Will Eisner Spirit of Retailing Award, could close as early as August because of mounting debt. In a plea to customers, owner John Munn attributes the store’s dire financial situation to a combination of the economy, relocation costs, an unresolved dispute with the previous landlord, the move by Diamond Comic Distributors to “call in short-term notes” in the wake of the Borders bankruptcy, and “personal trials.” In the extremely frank letter, he lays out what steps he’s taken (payment plans, using his salary from an outside job to cover payroll), and what he hesitates to do (fire staff, close the nearly nine-year-old store and declare bankruptcy): “I have juggled as far as I can juggle. I have kept a constant vigil on our shop, but currently it is resting on a house of cards and not a strong foundation (yet) that could go at any minute. […] I need your help. This week is bad … Very bad.”
Munn asks that customers pick up any special orders or pull-list titles, purchase gift certificates, make a short-term loan or buy shares in the store. “I think we can make it,” he writes. “I wouldn’t have sent this message if I didn’t. I did not want to write this letter. I did not want to ask for help. All I ever wanted to do was to create a place where people could come and escape for awhile. A place that would invest in the community, and its organizations, that surrounded it.” [Comic Book Ink]
Not to mince words, HeroesCon is my San Diego. Scheduled for June 3-5 at the Charlotte Convention Center this year, I recently caught up with Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find Creative Director Rico Renzi, to discuss what to look forward to at HeroesCon 2011. Anyone that has read my past con reports knows how much I always enjoy this family friendly/comics focused con, and will not be surprised to learn I will be in attendance again this year. Thanks to Renzi for the interview and for giving us the scoop that Farel Dalrymple is returning to the con this year. I was also enthused to learn the con is trying a Friday night event this year, as well as introducing a new section of the convention floor devoted to comic strip creators.
Tim O’Shea: How are things shaping up with less than a month to go before the con, starting to panic? Planning-wise, how do you and Shelton Drum (con founder/organizer and owner of Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find) divvy up the heavy lifting of making this con happen?
Rico Renzi: HeroesCon is like breathing to Shelton so I’m pretty sure he’s not panicking. This is my first time doing anything like this so, yeah I think there’s some pressure on me. Maybe I get a pass since this is my first year though? Dustin Harbin has been a great help showing me the ropes on a few things, especially the floor plan. Deciding where everyone is going to sit seems like the hardest job to me right now. Aside from that we get great help from our warehouse manager, Seth Peagler. Whether I need someone to brainstorm with or edit my blog posts, Seth is my guy. Also, Andy Mansell has been instrumental in planning and coordinating our programming. These guys keep me sane!
For the annual HeroesCon art auction, Thor: The Mighty Avenger writer Roger Langridge exercises his artistic muscles and redraws the cover to issue #6, originally drawn by his collaborator Chris Samnee and featuring the son of Odin’s face-off with Fin Fang Foom. The show kicks off June 3 in Charlotte, N.C.
The above is a pipin’ hot new strip from cartoonist Dustin Harbin. Harbin, who recently left his job working for Sheldon Drum’s Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find comic store and companion comic convention HeroesCon, has embarked on a full-time career in comics writing, drawing and lettering — the latter seen in the pages of the Marvel/Icon edition of Casanova. I hope this lands him a stint on Superman — seriously.
All week I’ve been reading other people’s HeroesCon reports and thinking “Man I really need to get cracking on mine.” And yet I have not. I’ll be honest, unlike my friend Johanna Draper Carlson (“being sensible about things like leaving the floor to have lunch and going back to the hotel room in the afternoon to change clothes and shoes“), I wore the wrong dang shoes (“Sandals? Really? You flat-footed fool!” I now say to myself) for the concrete con floor. By Saturday afternoon I was limping anywhere I went. Then when I got back to Atlanta, my full-time job demanded a great deal more of my attention than usual. Excuses, excuses-all. But really when you stay up Friday and Saturday until 3 AM talking in the Westin bar, you have a harder time recovering (or at least I do). And as the week progressed, I was amazed at the level of detail and perspective that many folks offered in their con reports. I felt my report had to be just as good–among the best con reports. And then today, my Robot6 pal Brigid Alverson let me off the hook when she wrote of Tom Spurgeon’s con summary: “Tom Spurgeon, of course, has the ultimate con post, because he went everywhere and saw everyone.” Once he has written the ultimate post, what can I do, eh? (Side note: Tom, I gotta say I cracked up when you called the report “A Few Notes on Heroes Con 2010″. A few notes Tom? Try 3,000+ words, Tom. My god, your writing and analysis blows my mind.)
My head is still a jumbled mess from the massive amount of information, entertainment, panels and Evan Dorkin’s wit that I experienced at this year’s HeroesCon. You’ll see my con report in a few days, but in the meantime, here are some pieces I commissioned . Don’t ask me to pick a favorite, as I equally enjoy each of them for different reasons. My thanks to Dean Trippe, Chris Giarrusso, Roger Langridge and Tom Fowler for their great pieces.
Business | Platinum Studios has sold webcomics community DrunkDuck to e-book publisher WOWIO for an undisclosed sum. WOWIO was purchased in 2008 by Platinum and then sold in July 2009 to a holding company formed by Platinum President and COO Brian Altounian.
The DrunkDuck acquisition follows the announcement last week that WOWIO has raised $1.7 million in private financing and purchased WEvolt.com, an online community for creators to share and promote their work. Established in 2002 by Dylan Squires, DrunkDuck provides free hosting for webcomics, as well as forums and a feedback/review system. The site was purchased in December 2006 by Platinum. [press release]