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Talking Comics with Tim | Chris Roberson on ‘Edison Rex,’ ‘Aliens’

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Given that Monkeybrain Comics just celebrated its second anniversary, on the heels of Co-Publisher Allison Baker joining IDW, it struck me as the ideal time to quiz Co-Publisher Chris Roberson.

In addition to discussing the new status quo for Monkeybrain (which surprisingly stays much the same as before, as Roberson explains), we also delve into Edison Rex Issue 16 arrives Wednesday — and dig into the writer’s first work for Dark Horse, Aliens: Fire and Stone, which debuts Sept. 24.

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IDW’s ‘Wonder Woman’ collection reprints a Golden Age rarity

wonder woman_newspaper_ad_1943[Editor’s note: Every Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss “The best in comics from the last seven days” — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]

For a character who had just debuted a couple of years earlier, the prospect of a Wonder Woman newspaper strip was a clear sign of the Amazing Amazon’s immense popularity. However, in the crowded, competitive field of newspaper comics — where the first Batman newspaper strip lasted only about three years, ironically because it was vying for space against the successful Superman strip — Wonder Woman couldn’t establish herself. Still, IDW has restored what history has all but forgotten, and this August the publisher will reprint the strip’s 19-month run.

I’ve seen a few weeks’ worth of these strips here and there over the years, and they’re a lot like the Golden Age comics. This is hardly surprising, since they were written by creator William Moulton Marston and drawn by original artist Harry G. Peter. However, the newspaper format apparently allowed Marston and Peter to open up their storytelling styles, allowing for a slightly different pace and a more long-form approach.

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Crisis on Cartoon Network: ‘Super Secret Crisis War’ #1

super secretThis week Marvel released a couple of tie-ins to its big Original Sin event, and DC Comics issued new printings of chapters from its Superman crossover “Doomed.” But the weirdest, most unexpected and, oddly enough, most traditionally formatted crossover going right now comes not from the Big Two publishers that invented and perfected the approach, but from IDW, whose Super Secret Crisis War #1 features the heroes and villains from a half-dozen old Cartoon Network series sharing story space.

IDW has done crossover stories before (Infestation, Infestation 2, Mars Attacks IDW), but in the past these have been rather indirect, with the same menaces (zombies, Lovecraftian monsters, the Mars Attacks martians) invading the different realities of its various licensed properties (G.I. Joe, Star Trek, Transformers, etc.). Here the participants all appear in the same book, and even rub elbows in the same panels.

What ties them together is that they all once had shows on Cartoon Network and, um, well, that’s about it really, but it’s enough to get them all in the same six-issue miniseries issues (plus five one-shot tie-ins that will bring yet more Cartoon Network stars into the fold).

This allows the series to capitalize on the pleasures of two different sorts of crossovers: There’s the shared-universe crossover, as when all the DC or Marvel heroes team up (even if these characters don’t technically share the same universe), and the inter-company crossover, when characters from various properties that were never meant to meet up do so (Think Batman/Judge Dredd, Archie Meets The Punisher).

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IDW to release Wonder Woman comic strip collection in August

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The original Wonder Woman comic strip will be collected for the first time in August in IDW Publishing’s 196-page hardcover Wonder Woman: The Complete Newspaper Strip 1943-1944.

It’s part of the March 2013 partnership with DC Entertainment and the Library of American Comics that includes the Superman and Batman comic strip collections. Unlike the other two superheroes, who had lengthy tenures in newspapers (even if the Caped Crusader’s was broken up into three major runs), Wonder Woman’s was short-lived, lasting only from May 1, 1943 to Dec. 1, 1944.

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If you only read two comics this week, make them these two

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As the average price of serially published, traditional-format comics has risen sharply over the past few years, I’ve gradually turned into a trade-waiter, my pull list shrinking to such a meager size that many Wednesdays I’ll skip what was once a religiously observed weekly pilgrimage. It’s not worth a trip to the shop for one or two books, after all, so I’ll sometimes wait three weeks or so, allowing for a sizable stack to build up.

This was one such week, and I left the shop with a pretty good haul, about $45 worth of 14 comics, including a mess of DC weeklies, a pair of Marvel comics, a trio of high-quality kids titles, the latest issue of a locally produced horror series, a Batman/Green Hornet crossover and an issue of one of IDW’s many Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics.

My pull list is now so small and carefully cut that I rarely encounter a book I don’t like any aspect of (generally, when I do buy a comic I have negative feelings about, they’re generated as much by disappointment as anything else). The flip-side is that because I take relatively few chances as a consumer (as opposed to a critic; as a critic, I read pretty  much anything with panels on paper that I find in front of me),  I’m rarely pleasantly surprised by what I bring home.

This week, I read one comic that was so good  that I was genuinely taken aback by its awesomeness; I was surprised and super-excited. I wanted to stand up and shout “Yeah!” but I was in a coffee shop at the time. I wanted to high-five the artist, but he wasn’t within arm’s reach. I wanted to scrap what I was planning to write about in this space today and champion the book instead. I wanted to take the opportunity to say, “Hey everyone! Stop what you’re doing and read this comic right now!”

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Comics A.M. | Denver Comic Con attendance grows to 86,500

Friday at Denver Comic Con (via the event's Facebook page)

Friday at Denver Comic Con (via the event’s Facebook page)

Conventions | A reported 86,500 people attended the third annual Denver Comic Con over the weekend, up from 61,000 in 2013. The event is undergoing some growing pains, however, with organizers quickly rescinding an announced cart-service fee for next year’s convention following complaints from vendors. Even without that additional charge, some exhibitors remain unhappy about the proposed increase in booth fees. [The Denver Post]

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‘Cerebus: High Society Digital’ collection gets August release

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IDW Publishing has announced an August release date for Dave Sim’s Cerebus: High Society Digital Audio/Visual Experience DVD set.

Funded in July 2012 through Kickstarter, the multimedia collection of the well-regarded “High Society” storyline (Cerebus #26-50) was originally serialized online. It features Sim reading each issue, in character, accompanied by music and sound effects, with motion effects added to the story art. There’s also commentary and a virtual tour.

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Comics A.M. | Is the world ready for a cosplay invasion?

Cosplay | The Christian Science Monitor looks at how cosplay is spilling out of comics and sci-fi/fantasy conventions and into “daily life,” such as movie theaters, pubs and public squares: “The spread of cosplay owes a lot to the Internet. Social media sites build buzz around the next big cosplay event. Tumblr and Instagram allow strangers to pass around photos of past work and offer words of encouragement from afar. YouTube videos reveal how to craft foam core into realistic-looking armor and braid hair like an elf.” [The Christian Science Monitor]

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Our man Megatron: ‘Transformers MTMTE’ #28

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 10.26.06 PMTransformers lore can be hopelessly convoluted. You think the DC Comics and Marvel universes are hard to keep track of? Try being a Transformers fan: There are various comic book universes, Michael Bay’s movie universe, the one from Japanese anime, the all-ages cartoon universe from Cartoon Network, the all-ages cartoon universe from the Hub, the original 1980s cartoon universe, and one where everyone’s an animal, which may or may not be the same universe as the 1980s cartoon.

Making it even more complicated, this canon multiverse is often acknowledged by the characters themselves, and its existence frequently becomes the basis of storylines. In March, the Transformers: Regeneration One series, which boasts a lineage to the very first Transformers comic, came to the end at Issue 100 with the Autobots untethering their universe from the rest of the multiverse. That made the Transformers mortal, ending the original comic book universe continuity permanently.

However, even if you’re not a Transformers fan, chances are you know the basics: Autobots, good; Decepticons, bad. Expanding on that: Optimus Prime is the hero, Megatron is the villain. It’s white hats versus black hats, except the cowboys in this situation can transform into vehicles, cassette tapes and guns.

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‘Locke & Key’s’ Gabriel Rodriguez signs exclusive deal with IDW

SONY DSCGabriel Rodriguez, the Eisner-nominated artist of Locke & Key, has signed an exclusive contract with IDW Publishing, the company announced over the weekend at WonderCon Anaheim.

Since making his comics debut in 2003 with IDW’s CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, the artist has gone on to draw more than 2,000 pages and covers for the publisher on titles ranging from Angel to Land of the Dead to Clive Barker’s The Great and Secret Show. However, Rodriguez is best known for his lengthy collaboration with author Joe Hill on the bestselling horror series Locke & Key.

“I’m deeply honored to start this new journey with my long term friends and partners from IDW Publishing. I’m excited, thrilled and thankful,” he said in a statement. “This is not only a major step in my professional career over time, Ted Adams, Chris Ryall and everyone from the IDW team have become close friends of mine, making me feel part of a family. It’s both amazing and challenging to start this new stage in our creative collaborations, sharing a common vision: passion for art and comics, deep love for storytelling, high standards in personal and professional relationships. I hope to be able to give my very best in projects to come, and the few things we’ve already discussed hinted a path of amazing possibilities! It’s somehow overwhelming, it can’t get better than this.”

Rodriguez’s next IDW project is Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland, a collaboration with Eric Shanower announced last year at Comic-Con International. The eight-issue miniseries is scheduled to debut in August; an eight-page ashcan was distributed over the weekend at WonderCon.

WonderCon | ‘X-Files: Year Zero’ reveals origin of X-Files unit

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Karl Kesel, Vic Malhotra and Greg Scott are teaming up to tell the secret origins of the X-Files. The X-Files: Year Zero, a five-issue miniseries debuting in July, will see Agents Scully and Mulder tackling a mystery that dates back to the 1940s and the beginning of the FBI’s X-Files unit.

“The origins of the X-Files unit of the FBI were only hinted at in the TV show, and we’re proud to present the story of how the precursors of our favorite paranormal agents established the division in the late 1940s,” said editor Denton J. Tipton in a press release. “I think Bing and Millie will become fan-favorites alongside Mulder, Scully, Reyes and Doggett.”

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Liefeld, Piskor recruited for ‘Transformers vs. G.I. Joe’ covers

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While looking for some art earlier I can across something cool — artist Tom Scioli, who is hard at work on IDW’s Transformers vs. G.I. Joe comic, posted some alternate covers for the project from Rob Liefeld (Youngblood) and Ed Piskor (Hip Hop Family Tree) on his Tumblr.

“I can’t believe they’re letting us do this,” John Barber, who is writing the project, said yesterday at WonderCon. “It’s coming from a real pure place. The storytelling is crazy innovative, pure sci-fi, army cosmic clash between Earth and alien invaders. The Free Comic Book Day story on May 3, the Joes are engaging in a final showdown with Cobra and that’s right when Starscream shows up pursuing Bumblebee, that’s when things get out of hand. It’s so much fun. I’ve been a fan of Joes and Transformers since I was able to read.”

Check them out below. The comic kicks off this summer.

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WonderCon | ‘Doberman’ takes a bite out of crime in July

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Darby Pop, Jeff Kline’s comic imprint that’s distributed by IDW, announced today plans to publish Doberman, the story of a former bad-boy cop who rejoins the force in a quest for vengeance.

“From the minds” of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Unsupervised producers Rob Rosell and Scott Marder, with writer Jack Lambert and artist Brandon McKinney, the humorous comic will make its debut this July.

“Doberman is the tale of a roundhouse-kicking, beer-shotgunning, Dodge Stealth-driving badass with a badge, shamed into years of personal exile. But, now he’s back, with only one thing on his mind — revenge!” Lambert said in a press release. “Simply put, if Sylvester Stallone, Steven Seagal, and Jean-Claude Van Damme had a child, Frank Doberano (aka Doberman) would be that bastard’s name.”

Check out the full cover by Bernard Chang below.

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That time Evan Dorkin almost wrote ‘Popeye Vs. Mars Attacks’

Art by Terry Beatty, from "Popeye Vs. Mars Attacks" #1

Art by Terry Beatty, from “Popeye Vs. Mars Attacks” #1

Last year IDW Publishing released an amazing series of one-off crossovers featuring Mars Attacks and different titles in its line. It covered a lot of ground and showed some unusual and fun pairings, but one we never got to see was Evan Dorkin’s Popeye Vs. Mars Attacks.

He relates in a blog post a situation where, in the span of a few hours, he was offered to write the book, pitched to IDW despite initial reluctance, got his pitch accepted, and then opted out. Although the 2013 one-shot was ultimately written by Martin Powell and illustrated by Terry Beatty, it’s interesting to read Dorkin’s ill-fated pitch and his summary of events behind the scenes.

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True story: Tom Beland brings ‘Chicacabra’ to IDW

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Tom Beland, creator of the multiple Eisner-nominated True Story, Swear to God, ventures down a supernatural path in June with the debut of his new graphic novel series Chicacabra, from IDW Publishing.

The story focuses on Isabel Sanchez, a Puerto Rican high school student who, following a family tragedy and a mysterious incident, “finds herself with a monster capable of great brutality living inside her. But is it her friend or foe?”

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