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Comics A.M. | Spider-Man musical producers ‘stepped in dog poo’

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Broadway | Michael Cohl and Jeremiah Harris, producers of the troubled Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, talk candidly about the $70-million musical — or “$65 plus plus,” as Cohl says — as it shuts down for more than three weeks for a sweeping overhaul. Will the production, plagued by delays, technical mishaps, injuries and negative reviews, hurt their reputation? “It might,” Cohl concedes. “It’s a matter of the respect of those whose opinions I care about. Most will recognize that Jere and I stepped in dog poo and are trying to clean it up and pull off a miracle. We might not.”

In related news, Christopher Tierney, the actor who was seriously injured on Dec. 20 after plummeting 30 feet during a performance, will rejoin rehearsals on Monday. [Bloomberg, The Hollywood Reporter]

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Image rescues two Minx titles

Ah, Minx, DC’s attempt to make comics for teenage girls. The failure of the whole enterprise lies in that very statement. Teen girls don’t like things made specifically for them. They don’t even think of themselves as “teen girls.” Catering to them is very, very tricky, because you can’t appear to be catering to them. Worse, adults who write and review books for teenagers have a hard time letting the characters do anything truly bad, but that’s exactly what teenagers want—and need—to read. If you give them an after school special, they’ll dump it and read something by Chuck Palahniuk instead.

The first round of Minx books all had a definite made-by-adults-for-teens vibe. The second season was much, much stronger, because the creators took more chances, and not coincidentally, more of the creators were women. There were books I actually wanted to read in that second season, and the two I did read, Token, by Alisa Kwitney and the incomparable Joelle Jones, and Burnout, by Rebecca Donner and Inaki Miranda, were quite good. Of course, that’s when DC killed the line.

So my ears pricked up when Deb Aoki Tweeted that Image has picked up two titles that were originally done for Minx: Poseurs, by Deborah Vankin and Rick May, and All Nighter, by David Hahn. Alas, Deb was underwhelmed by Poseurs:

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Digital comics: What’s hot on the small screen

The digital comics scene continues to be a bit of a mishmash.

Every week, I get an e-mail from comiXology listing all of its new issues for the week, but the order seems to be somewhere between alphabetical and random. Viz Media also does a nice job of letting me know what’s new on its app. Graphicly sends a chatty e-mail featuring a couple of titles, but the company doesn’t put them front and center in its app, so I have to go looking for them (and it’s not the most intuitive interface). And while I know the iVerse folks have been busy, they don’t update their blog or (as far as I can tell) send out e-mails. This is all my way of saying that while the following may seem heavy on comiXology content, that’s not because I’m biased — it’s because comiXology has more titles and is doing a better job of promoting them.

That said, I thought it would be helpful to sift through this week’s offerings and pull out some good weekend reading.

A couple of classic series are debuting on comiXology this week. Having attended both the Vertigo panel and the Bill Willingham spotlight panel at C2E2, I was interested in seeing more of Fables, so it’s a happy coincidence that Jack of Fables #1 is up there for free. It’s just as clever as the main series, and Tony Akins’ supple penciling is a treat for the eyes. (One of the things I enjoy about Fables is that there is plenty of eye candy for the ladies as well as the guys.) Sometimes the free samples are kind of mingy, but not here: This is the whole first issue of Jack of Fables, and if that whets your appetite, Issue 2 is up there for $1.99.

Also new this week, although, sadly, not free, is Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s Batman and Robin. The first six issues, comprising two complete story arcs, are up this week.

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The Middle Ground #47: (Red) Winging It

Maybe I’m just being a little too sentimental about what may be, at heart, business practices, but I can’t help but find my heart a little warmed by the news that Jonathan Hickman is not only returning to creator-owned work, but publishing it through Image. Continue Reading »

Wowio relaunches Spacedog as digital graphic novel imprint

Wowio was a pioneer in digital comics back in the olden days, when they offered free, ad-supported digital comics. The company has been through a lot of changes since then, and the comics aren’t free any more, although they do offer a free download every month (usually a pretty good one) to readers who “like” them on Facebook. And unlike other digital distributors, they offer books in PDF and ePub format, so they are portable and can be moved from one device to another. (In other words, you can actually own these digital comics.)

Spacedog Entertainment developed comics and graphic novels that were then published by other publishers and shopped around for film development. Their properties include The Covenant and Proximity Effect (published by Top Cow), The Gift (Image), and Helen Killer (Arcana).

Now Wowio has acquired Spacedog and is relaunching it as a graphic novel imprint, starting with four previously published titles: Helen Killer, Fiction Clemens, Death Comes to Dillinger, and M.I.T.H. The comics are priced at 99 cents each, and the plan is to publish an issue a week, starting in April, and to expand the line to include other Spacedog properties, including those mentioned above.

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Comics A.M. | Banned Egyptian GN to be published in English

Metro

Graphic novels | Metro, the graphic novel by Egyptian cartoonist Magdy El Shafee that was banned in 2009 under Hosni Mubarak’s regime, will be published in English next year by Metropolitan, a division of Macmillan. El Shafee who, along with his publisher Mohammed al Sharqawi was convicted of disturbing public morals, has appealed to Egypt’s new Ministry of Culture to have the ban lifted. “I’m waiting to hear if the minister of culture will allow it to be published again,” El Shafee says. “They will have to consult with the courts. I’m hoping there may be some kind of apology.” [CNN.com]

Legal | In an article that’s heavy on background and light on new information, Matthew Beloni reports that the attorney representing the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster has asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to determine exactly what elements from the Man of Steel’s mythology his clients can reclaim as a result of the 2008 court ruling. [THR, Esq.]

Retailing | Barnes & Noble stock fell 16 cents following a report that bookstore chain, the largest in the United States, will likely end its months-long search for a buyer. Although the auction isn’t over, initial interest from at least seven potential buyers is said to have waned following the first round of bidding. [Bloomberg]

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Brandon Graham’s King City to be collected by Tokyopop, maybe? Hopefully?

a King City collection cover idea

a King City collection cover idea

It started out in Tokyopop’s Original English Language, or OEL, line, became one of the most lamented casualties of the publisher’s contraction, and finally found new life as a giant-sized monthly comic at Image. Now Brandon Graham tells Comics Comics’ Frank Santoro that his acclaimed science-fiction series King City may be headed back to where it all began for its eventual collected edition, to which Tokyopop presumably still holds the rights.

Graham tells Santoro that Tokyopop is getting quotes from the printer for a collected King City, ideally to be printed at the size of the Image issues rather than the book’s original digest format. Graham expects the collection to be relatively modest, perhaps with a few layouts and deleted scenes. According to Santoro, Graham’s very understanding of the situation his once and potentially future publisher is in with regards to the collection and potential price points, saying “I just want to see it in print,” regardless of what it costs.

Click the link for the full story, and for Santoro’s thoughts on how collections and the lack thereof can influence readers’ understanding of a cartoonist’s career.

Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Thor the Mighty Avenger #8

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday 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 what we call our “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Chris Arrant

With $15 worth of dingy bills and loose quarters, I’d go my local comic shop and start with Thor: The Mighty Avenger #8 ($2.99). Probably the pick of the week in some circles (even for a square like me), it’s a celebration of what Langridge and Samnee accomplished – and although it’s the last issue, there’s that FCBD issue on the horizon. I’d also pick up two number ones -– Casanova: Gula #1 ($3.99) and Daredevil: Reborn #1 ($3.99). With my last $4, I’d be hard-pressed to pick between Thunder Agents #3 ($2.99) and Infinite Vacation #1 ($3.50), but would probably pick the latter –- Nick Spencer’s on both, but Christian Ward’s art makes Infinite Vacation #1 worth the buy.

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2010: The year in digital comics

What a difference a year makes! A year ago today, the iPad not only didn’t exist, it hadn’t been officially announced yet. People read comics on their iPhones and iPod Touches, but the screens were too small for a good experience (and therefore, no one wanted to spend much money on them). The iPad changed all that, with a big, full-color screen that is just a tad smaller than a standard comics page (and a tad larger than a standard manga page), and publishers started taking digital comics seriously. The distribution was already in place, thanks to the iPhone—comiXology, iVerse, Panelfly—and now the publishers not only jumped on board with those platforms but also started developing their own apps.

The digital comics scene is still developing, but the iPad was the game changer. For many people, it was the first time that they could comfortably read comics on a handheld screen. Now, it’s just a question of marketing—this year, publishers will grapple with bringing comics to a wider audience, outside the existing readership, and balancing the digital marketplace with the established brick-and-mortar retail structure.

Here, then, is a look back at our digital year.

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Something to look forward to: Who Is Jake Ellis?

Nathan Edmondson, who recently wrapped up the horror comic The Light, has a new comic in the works, and the first issue will be hitting the stands in January: Who Is Jake Ellis?, written by Edmondson and drawn by Tonci Zonjic, whose other credits include Popgun, The Immortal Iron Fist, and Daredevil.

Edmondson spoke with CBR about Who Is Jake Ellis? when it was announced at the New York Comic Con, and Edmondson and Zonjic have set up a dedicated website for the comic with a preview, downloadable art, and links to their Twitter feeds.

Edmondson was kind enough to share an unreleased page from the book with us (above), and had this to say about the project:

Tonci and I have put our heads together to make what we believe will be something exceptionally intriguing, thrilling, mysterious, and more than a bit fun. We’re just flat out thrilled with the incredible response so far just at the pre-order level–retailers getting the word out, fans taking it upon themselves to supply stores with postcards for the book–it keeps on getting better. Numbers seem to double daily.

This preview, especially the splash page, is a fine example of Tonci matching brilliance with diligence. Expect more of this, and some art that will blow you away.

It’s coming January 5.

Talking Comics with Tim | Kody Chamberlain

Sweets 4Later this month will see the release of Sweets 4, the second to last in the five-issue Image Comics miniseries written and illustrated by Kody Chamberlain. As Chamblerlain explained in a May 2010 interview with CBR: “Sweets is about a New Orleans homicide detective named Curt Delatte. He’s hunting a psychotic spree killer who’s terrorizing the city days before Hurricane Katrina makes landfall. This detective just buried his only daughter and he’s on the verge of divorce. He’s in bad shape. Everyone with a badge is trying to catch this killer and put an end to the slaughter, but the bodies just keep piling up. Curt has to pull himself together and join the hunt. He’s got no choice. It won’t be long until his city and his evidence get washed away – a true ticking time bomb scenario.” My thanks to Chamberlain for this new email interview where we delve into his approach to storytelling, color and character development as well as two of the best convention moments he’s ever had.

Tim O’Shea: You been working on this script for years, can you single out a phase of the script development where you felt like you got the story where you wanted it to be?

Kody Chamberlain: The time spent on the script was mostly a result of being a full-time artist. Creating artwork for comics is extremely time-consuming, especially since I usually ink and color my own work. So that means I have to steal time here and there for my writing and that slows down the process. I didn’t mean to imply I’ve been writing the script nonstop all this time, I’m not a full time writer, so that can’t happen. Writing Sweets was a slow process for me because I wanted it to be a solid script before I picked up my pencil, and that takes longer when you’re a full-time artist. But from the start, I committed to nailing down a solid script before drawing anything, and that’s taken a while.

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Good Lord, it’s James Stokoe’s Galactus

Galactus by James Stokoe

Galactus by James Stokoe

“If you do warmup inks every day, you will eventually draw 4 square feet of GALACTUS!” tweeted Orc Stain writer/artist James Stokoe today, linking to the above picture of the Devourer of Worlds as proof. (Click to see it at full, mind-boggling size.) Jiminy Christmas — if that’s what he does while warming up, what does he do when he really gets going?

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

IDW's Transformers app

IDW's Transformers app

Publishing | BusinessWeek looks at how companies like Marvel, Panelfly, ComiXology and Graphic.ly are promoting comics apps for Apple’s just-released iPad, and notes that a cautious DC Comics is still “assessing that tablet and other devices.” It’s a general overview, touching upon the “Is it a game-changer?” theme, but it offers one tidbit I don’t recall seeing previously: Apple takes 30 percent of sales, leaving publishers with — in the words of Panelfly’s Wade Slitkin — “the lion’s share” of revenues from comics purchased through iPhone apps.

The magazine also reports that Apple may have sold as many as 700,000 iPads in the debut weekend, more than double early estimates. In other iPad news: The Marvel Comics App, officially announced on Friday, is ranked at No. 14 on the list of free apps offered through Apple’s iTunes store. And on Saturday, IDW Publishing announced its entry into the iPad arena with four free apps. [BusinessWeek]

Legal | Bestselling Japanese author Manabu Miyazaki, son of a yakuza boss, last week sued police in Fukuoka prefecture for asking stores to remove underworld comics and magazines from their shelves. The police request was meant to enforce an ordinance designed to curtail the influence of the crime syndicates. [New Straits Times]

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Emerald City | Batman Beyond #1 in June, more JSA on Smallville

Super Pro K.O.!

Super Pro K.O.!

BOOM! Studios isn’t the only publisher at the Emerald City Comicon with news. Here’s a rundown on some of the other stuff coming out of the con …

  • Laura Hudson at ComicsAlliance reports from the DC Nation panel that occurred earlier today. We already know that animated star Batman Beyond is set to appear in this year’s Superman/Batman annual, written by Paul Levitz. According to editor Ian Sattler, the annual will be out in June and will feature Superman Beyond as well. And a new Batman Beyond series kicks off that month.
  • At that same panel, Geoff Johns also confirmed that the JSA would appear again on Smallville toward the end of the season. “The hope is for every DC character to appear outside the comic book. Correctly,” Johns said.
  • And James Robinson is working on a new Shade series. Previously he told iFanboy he’d love to explore Opal City in the form of a Shade series.
  • Laura also reports on the Mondo Marvel panel that occurred in Seattle. Although there were no announcements, they did talk about the recent Tea Bagger controversy in Captain America, how the Disney/Marvel merger was going and, as always, “One More Day.”
  • iFanboy reports on some of Oni’s news from the show. Guerillas by Brahm Revel is moving from Image to Oni, with a first volume collection due in October. In July they’ll release a new graphic novel called Super Pro K.O.! by Jarrett Williams, described as “Shonen Jump meets high-impact, old-school wrastlin’.” And Phil Gelatt and Tyler Crook’s Petrograd comes out in November. I spoke with Gelatt about the book last summer, when it was announced at SDCC.
  • As reported on CBR, Hack/Slash is moving from Devil’s Due to Image. “…it became pretty clear that the pretty well [publicized] financial problems DDP was having weren’t going to help me get my book out every month or help me get my creators paid on time,” creator Tim Seeley told CBR. “I’ve been working with Image on my other creator-owned stuff like “Loaded Bible” and “Colt Noble and the Megalords,” and I’ve always had great experiences working with [Image Comics Publisher] Eric Stephenson and [Sales and Licensing Coordinator] Joe Keatinge and the rest of the crew. And, most of the comics I read and enjoy every month come out of Image. So, with the help of DDP president Josh Blaylock, I set up a deal to bring Cassie and Vlad over to Image.”
  • Heidi MacDonald reports that next year’s Emerald City Comicon will run three days. They’ll also run a one-day show called the Jet City Comic Show in September.

Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs: Age of Bronze: Betrayal, Part One

Age of Bronze, Volume 3A: Betrayal, Part One

Age of Bronze, Volume 3A: Betrayal, Part One

Age of Bronze, Volume 3A: Betrayal, Part One
Written and Illustrated by Eric Shanower
Image; $17.99

I said a couple of weeks ago in What Are You Reading that I had mixed feelings about starting this book. On the one hand, I couldn’t have been more excited about visiting Shanower’s ancient Troy again. On the other, I knew that this would catch me up with the collections, giving me an impossibly long wait for the next one. Fortunately, the volume was enthralling enough to keep me from thinking about the lack of any additional Age of Bronze to follow immediately. At least while I was reading it.

Not that it’s without flaws. It feels sacrilegious to say after so thoroughly loving the first two volumes, but there were a couple of times in this one that I had a hard time connecting to what was going on in the story. Not because Shanower couldn’t find the emotional hook – he’s always brilliantly able to do that – but because I had a hard time figuring out the way a particular subplot supported the main story.

The biggest example of this is a long sequence about a king named Philoktetes who’s bitten by a snake during a sacrifice. It happens as the Greeks are camped on the island of Tenedos, their last stop before arriving at Troy. Over the next few days, as the poison begins to spread through the Philoktetes’ body, he’s in such pain that his screams and curses can be heard all over camp. It’s horribly distracting for High King Agamemnon and the rest of the army.

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