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Food or Comics? | Duck or Doctor Who

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.

Doctor Who #1

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d catch up on Joe Keatinge and Andre Szymanowicz’ Hell Yeah with the first trade, Vol. 1: Last Days On Earth (Image, $9.99). I admit to dropping off after the second issue, but it’s always something I wanted to get back to; and reading Keatinge’s interviews on the more recent issues has pushed me over the top. If nothing else, $9.99 for five issues is a good deal. After that I’d get Avengers Vs. X-Men #12 (Marvel, $4.99). Of all the group-written issues, Jason Aaron’s seems to have been the most organized and engaging, so I’m glad they opted to have him do the finale. Seeing Adam Kubert on this is surprising, as his previous issues of Avengers Vs. X-Men felt rushed – but previews of this issue show him more measured and confident, like his Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine work, also with Aaron.

If I had $30, I’d double back and gleefully grab Thomas Herpich’s White Clay (AdHouse, $4.95). When I first heard about this the onus of Adventure Time was heavy given the cartoonist works on that show, but after seeing the previews and hearing Chris Pitzer talk about this book I’m in for it. I’d also get the debut issue of Andy Diggle’s Doctor Who #1 (IDW, $3.99) with artist Mark Buckingham. Bucky’s a real treat here, and I’m interested to see what he does with Diggle’s words – and what exactly Diggle does. I’m okay if it’s not Lenny Zero – but that would be nice too. Finally, I’d get Uncanny X-Force #32 (Marvel, $3.99). At one time this was my favorite book coming from the Big Two, but it seems to have grown long in the tooth; I’m not confident enough to say Rick and crew are doing something wrong, as maybe it’s just me. But the first 18 issues had a special kind of magic, and that doesn’t seem to remain here in these issues. But still, I’m in ’til the end.

If I could splurge, I’d get The Nao of Brown (SelfMadeHero, $24.95) by Glyn Dillon. I admit I already received an advance review copy of this book, but if I didn’t I’d surely have it on pre-order. A read a review where they compared to this to Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese, but I think that’s a mere surface examination. After reading this (and flipping through it a dozen times since), this is just a pure coming-of-age story that reminds me more of Hope Larson or a very chatty Adrian Tomine. Very great, very great.

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Comics A.M. | Stan Lee cancels Ohio Comic Con appearance

Stan Lee

Creators | Following last week’s news that Stan Lee  has canceled his sold-out Thursday engagement at a Toledo library event due to “a very serious circumstance,” Wizard World has announced the 89-year-old writer won’t be appearing as scheduled at this weekend’s Ohio Comic Con in Columbus. Responding to a blog post titled, “Is Stan Lee OK?” the administrator of the Stan Lee’s Comikaze Facebook page wrote, “It sucks Stan had to cancel [the Toledo event], but you know the man doesn’t just do conventions. he puts in a hard days work creating. Its really sad that the Toledo Blade had to go spread nonsense. If you want to be up to date on stan then follow us, cuz he kinda owns our company. Its sad that a some blogs are scaring fans. not really nice.” [The Beat]

Creators | Artist Molly Crabapple, who was arrested Sept. 17 in New York City during a protests marking the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, writes about the experience and her involvement with the movement. [CNN.com]

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Comics A.M. | Why collectors’ market is booming; Homestuck Kickstarter

Action Comics #1

Comics | Auction prices for comics and original comics art have soared over the past few years, ever since a copy of Action Comics #1 broke the $1-million mark in 2010. Barry Sandoval of Heritage Auctions (admittedly, not a disinterested party) and Michael Zapcic of the comics shop Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash discuss why that happened—and why prices are likely to stay high. [Underwire]

Crowdfunding | Homestuck is a phenomenon. Kickstarter is a phenomenon. Put them together and you get … a Kickstarter to fund a Homestuck game that raises $275,000 in a matter of hours. [Kotaku]

Creators | Brian Michael Bendis looks back on his eight-year run on Marvel’s Avengers franchise. [Marvel.com]

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Hope Larson shares her A Wrinkle in Time convention banner

A Wrinkle in Time

As I’ve reported before, cartoonist Hope Larson has been working on a graphic novel adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic science fiction novel A Wrinkle in Time. If you’ve been wondering what some of the characters might look like, Larson recently posted the banner she’s designed for convention season that gives you a glimpse of them.

“If you look closely at the cover of the book you’ll see that the illustrations I used for this banner are the three tiny silhouettes under the title,” she said on her blog. “I thought that was a waste of some nice inks, so I’m glad I was able to repurpose the artwork here. The banner is 33″ x 80″, so I scanned in the artwork, dumped it into Illustrator, converted it to a vector image with Live Trace, blew it way up and tossed some colors in there. The cursive lettering I did by hand; it’s a combination of my own handwriting and handwriting from an old notebook I bought that contains 200 pages of handwritten home ec notes. The type is my old standby Times New Larson, which John Martz put together for me some years ago.”

The graphic novel is currently scheduled for an Oct. 2 release.

Hope Larson reveals cover, release date for her A Wrinkle in Time adaptation

A Wrinkle in Time

It’s been awhile since we last heard anything about Hope Larson’s A Wrinkle in Time adaptation, but last week on her blog the cartoonist revealed not only the cover, above, but also that the book is done and will be out in October.

“The book’s finished!” she wrote. “Inked, lettered, colored (by Dicebox‘s Jenn Manley Lee), copyedited and probably somewhere overseas being printed. It will be out on October 2nd through Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and I’ll be here and there promoting it. Stay tuned!”

It’s just one of several projects she gives an update on, as she also has a project with Tintin Pantoja and short film in the works. Head over to her blog to read all about them.

When you wish upon a tesseract: How Hope Larson landed the adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time

Meg Murry from A Wrinkle in Time, by Hope Larson

Meg Murry from A Wrinkle in Time, by Hope Larson

I’m slightly hesitant to even bring it up given what a bizarre, unnecessarily nasty clusterfuck our last comment thread on the topic became, but one project I’ve been tracking with great interest is cartoonist Hope Larson’s adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic science fiction novel A Wrinkle in Time. That’s why I was so struck by John Scarff’s report on the Hope Larson spotlight panel at last weekend’s WonderCon 2011:

Having been met by a few audible gasps when she mentioned that she would be adapting A Wrinkle in Time earlier in the panel, Larson explained how her involvement in the project came about. Jokingly referring to “a dinky little interview” a year ago when she suggested that it would be the only other author’s work she could see her self adapting, she was contacted by the publisher and the estate of Madeleine L’Engle. “I just can’t imagine a book that fit me as well as that one,” she said. “I wanted to be the one who was gonna screw it up.”

From Larson’s lips to God’s ears, apparently! I’m always delighted by stories about creative enterprises coming about in so fortuitous a fashion; I feel like it’s a good omen for the resulting work. Fingers crossed!

Quote of the day | Larson’s Mercury takes the Direct Market’s temperature

“It’s utter BS that MERCURY is in its third printing, and yet unavailable through the direct market.”

Cartoonist Hope Larson on her young adult graphic novel Mercury, which is apparently a hit everywhere but the one system of stores that’s supposed to specialize in selling graphic novels.

Themed convention sketchbooks

The Royal Tenenbaums, by Matt Wagner

One of the more unique aspects of comics conventions in the United States is the general amount of creativity bursting at the seems. One of the biggest signs of this is the generosity that most artists have for doing rough sketches to attendees.

Generally artists will do these for free, or for a small fee, but if you can get your hands on one it’s well worth the effort. I’ve been collecting sketches for several years at cons, and I thought myself the norm until I first glimpsed the themed sketchbook of Oni Press Editor-in-Chief James Lucas Jones.

In 2002, Jones began having artists and friends in the industry contribute to an ongoing sketchbook centered on the characters from the 2001 Wes Anderson film The Royal Tenenbaums. It’s been years since I’ve seen it, and it’s probably filled to the brim and Jones moved on to other themes. But it always sticks in my mind as one of the first themed con sketchbooks and one of the best. Here’s a sample:

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Hope Larson talks comics

The past 15 years have brought about one of the strongest — and broadest — generations of new comic creators since the medium’s inception in the early 1900s. For that you can credit the groundswell acceptance of manga, the opening of doors to more genres thanks to the graphic novel format, and a generation of children brought up on comics, cartoons and countless other artistic entertainment. One of those is cartoonist Hope Larson.

Larson started out in comics during her junior year at Chicago’s School of the Art Institute, when renowned cartoonist Scott McCloud happened upon her personal art website and posted on his blog that she should be doing comics. Shortly after that, Lea Hernandez invited her to contribute a webcomic to girlamatic.com. Although Larson calls the comic she did there a failure, it put her on a path toward a career in comics. Hand-made minicomics soon followed, as well as stories in several anthologies including Flight. Her first full-length book, Salamander Dream (2005), was originally serialized as a webcomic. In the following years, she completed three more books, coming to the attention of book publishers and the wider young-adult market.

Following a move west from her native North Carolina with her husband, Larson resumed work on her biggest project yet: a graphic novel adaptation of Madeline L’Engle’s classic sci-fi novel A Wrinkle In Time. It’s Larson’s first adaptation, and one she chose out of love of the book;  but while her drawing board might be full with the adaptation, her keyboard is keeping busy as she finishes the script of a new YA comic series, to be illustrated by Tintin Pantoja, that is her first attempt at a series, mixing the magical girl genre of manga with her own takeaway of superheroes.

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A first look at Hope Larson’s A Wrinkle in Time

Meg Murry from A Wrinkle in Time by Hope Larson

Meg Murry from A Wrinkle in Time by Hope Larson

If you’re one of those people who know that there is such a thing as a tesseract, then you’re in for a treat: Above is cartoonist Hope Larson’s take on Meg Murry, one of the young heroes of Madeleine L’Engle’s beloved science-fiction classic A Wrinkle in Time. Larson’s adaptation of the book for Farrar, Strauss and Giroux is slated to debut in Fall 2012, clocking in at a whopping 392 pages. Visit Larson’s blog for more on the book and this piece, from the bruise on Meg’s face to the reason you won’t be seeing her in this outfit in the book itself.

Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Tintin and Snowy

Tintin and Snowy

Legal | As rare Tintin memorabilia sold at a Paris auction for more than $1 million, an attorney for Moulinsart told a Brussels court that an attempt to ban the controversial Tintin in the Congo for racism is akin to book burning. “I cannot accept racism but I consider it equally lamentable that we burn books. To ban books is to burn them,” said Alain Berenboom, who represents the organization that controls the rights to Hergé’s works.

The civil case, which began last month, is the result of a nearly three-year-old effort by Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo, a Congolese man living in Belgium, to have the book removed from the country’s bookstores, or at least sold with warning labels as it is in Britain. The Court of First Instance is expected to announce on June 21 whether it, or a trade tribunal, should consider the case. [Agence France-Presse]

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What girls like

Girl comics

Girl comics

Comics publishers often think they know what girls like, but once we get out of Disney Princess territory, it’s harder than it looks. DC had a good try with their Minx line, but they made a lot of missteps; they totally ignored the popularity of manga and produced a first round of books that were like the graphic novel equivalents of Afterschool Specials. They got better, but by then it was too late. It’s very, very hard to connect with teenagers.

Rather than sit in a air-conditioned office and think about it, creator Hope Larson (Chiggers, Mercury) did something original: She asked the girls what they like—actually, she polled 198 women who reported having read comics in their teens and tweens.

Somewhat surprisingly, given the way online discussions usually go on this topic, superheroes emerged as the favorite genre, although manga was a close second (yes, I know manga is a medium not a genre, but I didn’t write the survey). X-Men was the most popular series, followed by Sandman, Batman, Rumiko Takahashi’s manga (Ranma ½, Inu Yasha), Spiderman, Sailor Moon, and comics by Alan Moore and CLAMP. And this:

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What are you reading?

Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine

Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine

Welcome once again to What are you reading? Today our special guest is comics retailer James Sime, owner of the world-famous Isotope Comics in San Francisco. As a retailer, James has the opportunity to read a lot of comics, and his submission this week reflects the diversity of great stuff you’ll find in his shop.

Click below to see what he’s been reading lately, as well as what the rest of the Robot 6 crew has had on their reading lists this week ….

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Hope Larson to adapt A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time

Great news for fantasy fans: Mercury cartoonist Hope Larson has announced on her Twitter account that she will be adapting Madeleine L’Engle’s classic SFF novel A Wrinkle in Time as a graphic novel.

It’s been a while since I read the book — “a while” meaning “not since elementary school” — but I recall the story of a group of children’s interstellar search for their missing scientist father via the use of folds in the spacetime-continuum called “tesseracts” as being dazzlingly smart, imaginative, and at times dark. I believe the planet Camazotz was the first dystopia I ever encountered in literature. (I always suspected IT was the inspiration for the landmark Orb song “A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld,” too.) The book racked up awards upon its 1962 release and launched L’Engle’s four-book “Time Quartet.”

For her part, Larson seems aware of the heady legacy she’s tinkering with. “According to my editor, Margaret Ferguson, L’Engle never wanted her books to be illustrated,” she tweeted. “I’m doing my best not to screw it up.”

Straight for the art | Sean’s David Bowie Sketchbook, MoCCA 2010

David Bowie by Niklas Asker

David Bowie by Niklas Asker

I’ve been collecting David Bowie sketches from comics artists at shows and cons since MoCCA 2007. What can I say? He’s my favorite superhero. In that time I’ve amassed drawings of the chameleonic musician from 97 different artists, and adding to the collection is always a high priority for me at every show. I had exceptionally good luck at this year’s MoCCA — you better hang on to yourself as we flip through this year’s haul!

Niklas Asker (above): Oh man, look at that, just look at it. How can a sketch be shiny? Niklas Asker pulled it off with maybe the most elegant and sexy Bowie of the batch–no surprise, if you’ve seen his graphic novel Second Thoughts.

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