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Comics A.M. | New York Comic Con absorbs New York Anime Festival

New York Comic Con

Conventions | ReedPOP has officially announced it will fold the New York Anime Festival into New York Comic Con, rather than continue them as separate events held at the same location. “This move has nothing to do with our loyalty or commitment to the anime community and everything to do with the growth and identity of New York Comic Con as a leading pop culture event,” ReedPOP’s Lance Fensterman said in a statement. “NYCC embraces all elements of the pop culture world, including anime, and we have evolved to a point where the existence of NYAF outside our universe is almost a contradiction. We will be better able to serve the anime community from within the NYCC infra-structure rather than have a show which is separate and which will always be dwarfed by everything that New York Comic Con represents and is.” [press release]

Passings | Cartoonist Jim Unger, whose one-panel comic Herman served as an inspiration for Gary Larson’s The Far Side, passed away Monday at his home in British Columbia. He was 75. The comic appeared in about 600 newspapers worldwide from 1974 until Unger’s retirement in 1992. [The Daily Cartoonist]

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Food or Comics? | Higher Earl Grey

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.

NonNonBa

Chris Mautner

If I had $15, I’d grab the latest Lio collection, Zombies Need Love Too. Cartoonist Mark Tatulli has one of the better newspaper comic strips going these days.

If I had $30, I’d nab what is clearly the book of the week, NonNonBa, the latest book from Shigeru Mizuki, author of Onward Toward Our Noble Deaths. NonNonBa aims more toward Mizuki’s traditional milieu of Japanese folklore and yokai monsters, though this book is more autobiographical in nature in that it deals with his relationship with his grandmother and how she instilled in him an interest in the spirit world. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this release.

My splurge for the week would likely be one of two books from First Second: Either Baby’s in Black, Arne Bellstorf’s fictionalized tale of the sadly doomed Beatle, Stuart Sutcliffe, or Mastering Comics, Jessica Abel and Matt Madden’s follow-up to their previous how-to textbook, Drawing Words, Writing Pictures.

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How artists’ contributions to the creation of comics are overlooked

Watchmen co-creators Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (Photographer unknown)

Since the dawn of the medium, comic books largely have been the creation of writers and artists working hand-in-hand to produce the characters, stories, titles and universes you follow each week. Recently, however, lawsuits by comic creators against publishers — and sometimes other creators — have raised the question of where, when and how a comic is truly created. Are they the product of the writer, with the artist simply tasked to illustrate the story based on instructions laid out in a script or outline? Or is it a communal effort, with writer and artist both providing unique contributions to the creation of the character and setting, each serving as a storyteller in the planning, coordination and draftsmanship of the actual comic pages? In recent years, comics have become a writer-centric medium, for better or worse, but artists continue to play a crucial, if sometimes overlooked, role in the design of characters and transformation of the writer’s scripts into, you know, comics.

In an interview with ICv2.com, Howard Chaykin relayed a story about how an unnamed writer views an artist’s contribution as “absolutely nothing to do with the creative process in comics.” “I am of the belief that the artist does 50 percent of the ‘writing’ in comic books,” said Chaykin, who’s worked as a writer and artist for decades. “I think the guy is plum crazy. It staggered me in its limited understanding of what comic books are about.”

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Food or Comics? | Flex Mentaleggio

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.

Hulk #50

Graeme McMillan

It’s a week of familiar faces for me this time around. If I had $15, it’d go on Action Comics #8 (DC, $3.99), which completes Grant Morrison’s first story arc on the title — even though we’ve already had the second one; thanks, fill-ins! — as well as Supreme #63 (Image, $2.99), with Erik Larsen illustrating the final Alan Moore script for Rob Liefeld’s Superman knock-off (I’d love to see a well-done collection of all of these issues one day, now that the Moore run is completed). Also on tap, the final issue of OMAC (#8, DC, $2.99) and the long-awaited return of Busiek, Ross and Herbert’s Kirby: Genesis (#6, Dynamite, $3.99), because a man needs as much well-done Jack Kirby-inspired comics as possible, goshdarnit.

If I had $30, I’d add Hulk #50 (Marvel, $3.99) to once again celebrate what Jeff Parker had managed to do with a book and concept that, by all rights, should’ve disappeared a long time ago. (In all honesty, I much prefer the Red Hulk to the classic version these days, and it’s all Parker’s doing, along with his various artistic compatriots on the title.) Everyone who isn’t reading it: This is a jumping-on point issue! Try it and see if you don’t love it, too. And, despite the unevenness of earlier issues, Matt Fraction’s Casanova: Avarita #3 (Marvel, $4.99) is also a must-read; I really didn’t like the first issue, but loved the second. We’ll see where the book goes next.

Should I be splurging, then this week the splurge is on Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery Deluxe HC (DC/Vertigo, $22.99). One of my favorite comics of all time, I’m likely going to end up getting this over-sized, recolored reprint just because I genuinely can’t resist the optimistic, hopeful tone of the book and its love of superheroes.

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Comics A.M. | Matt Bors receives Herblock Award; SPACE winners announced

Matt Bors comic

Awards | Matt Bors is the 2012 winner of the Herblock Award, and the first alternative political cartoonist to do so, according to the Herb Block Foundation. The award includes a $15,000 prize — and that’s $15,000 after taxes, which is mighty thoughtful of them. “The prize money is extremely generous and important, as it is more than I’ve ever made in a year from my editorial cartoons,” said Bors, who plans to use it to upgrade his website. The finalist for the prize is Jen Sorensen, creator of Slowpoke and also an alternative cartoonist; she gets a $5,000 prize. [Comic Riffs]

Awards | The Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo, or SPACE, has announced the winners of its annual awards, which will be presented April 21 at the convention in Columbus, Ohio. Winners include Diabetes Funnies by Colin Upton, Sing, Sing by Paul Zdepski, and Spoilers by Kevin Czapiewski. [SPACE]

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Ryan Ottley’s cover process for the next Invincible hardcover

On his blog, the insanely talented Ryan Ottley shares his process for creating the cover to the Invincible Vol. 7: Ultimate Collection, which features the huge cast of characters from issues #71-84, a.k.a. the Viltrumite War storyline.

“I always have a hard time with these covers, they are always packed with everyone from the issues so it’s tough to get any kind of composition,” he said in the post. “Here I tried to organize things a little bit but with keeping the same idea of all the other covers.”

The hardcover collection is due Feb. 15, and you can catch up on previous volumes, as well as purchase Ottley’s latest sketchbook, in his new online store.

Food or Comics? | Ditko Ditali

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.

Shade #4

Chris Arrant

If I had $15 I would be in comics heaven, starting with Shade #4 (DC, $2.99). I’ve loved what Cully Hamner and James Robinson have done so far, but seeing Darwyn Cooke drawing this issue knocks it up to a whole new level. It’s like seeing David Bowie sit in on an up-and-coming band’s gig one night. Next up would be the reunion of Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen in Secret Avengers #21 (Marvel, $3.99). I was halfway hoping they would break from the serious tone of the title and revisit the inanity of Nextwave, but the preview dashes that hope; still, excellent work of two guys at the top of their game. Next up would be Invincible #87 (Image, $2.99), promising an all-new level of beatdown for Mark Grayson. Lastly, I’d get Jason Aaron’s fresh take on Marvel’s mutants with Wolverine and the X-Men #4 (Marvel, $3.99). Part return to basics and part brand-new day, seeing Logan having to be the respectable one and not the plucky wildcard is fun, and the cast Aaron’s assembled is great.

If I had $30, I’d continue reading Aaron with Wolverine #300 (Marvel, $4.99). Jokes about the constant renumbering/reshuffling/rejiggering of Aaron’s run aside, it’s been a swell ride and looks to be heading up to a finale of sorts. Next up would be Batwoman #5 (DC, $2.99). Williams’ art continues to impress, and while the story doesn’t match up to his levels with Rucka on Detective Comics, he and Blackman are striving for something I haven’t been able to fully understand yet. Lastly, I’d pick up Northlanders #47 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99). Artist Declan Shalvey is an inspired get for this series, really showing off what he can do outside Marvel’s Thunderbolts.

If I could splurge, I’d dive into Eric Powell’s adaptation of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (IDW, $19.99). Putting Powell together with Twain isn’t an obvious team-up, but given Powell’s depth of work I’m interested to see how it turns out.

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The Tick’s 100th issue to guest-star Invincible

Although the TV show and classic, classic cartoon series may be gone, The Tick comic series is still going strong. It’s 100th issue comes out in March, and according to Diamond’s Previews World website, it will feature a guest appearance by Invincible and his girlfriend, Atom Eve.

The pair of heroes are transported to The Tick’s universe to help him battle Chairface Chippendale and a “mysterious and menacing new villain who makes even Chairface look like an ordinary umbrella stand.” The 48-page issue will also include a 20-page recap of The Tick’s career.

Food or Comics? | A pre-Thanksgiving four-color feast

Wolverine and the X-Men

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.

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d get one from almost every box–Image’s Invincible #85 ($2.99), DC’s DMZ #71 ($2.99), Marvel’s Wolverine and The X-Men #2 ($3.99) and independent title RASL #12 ($3.50). Not much to say about any of these I haven’t already said, except anytime Cory Walker draws a book I’d pay twice cover price.

If I had $30, I’d sneak out of Thanksgiving preparations to first get a book I was surprised I liked as much as I did, despite the last issue’s ending: Shade #2 (DC, $2.99). One thing I wasn’t amped to see was Deathstroke, but given James Robinson and Cully Hammer’s track record I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Next up would be the epic (in my mind, at least) team-up of Warren Ellis and Michael Lark on Secret Avengers #19 (Marvel, $3.99). Seeing Ellis boil down the concept into “Run the mission. Don’t get seen. Save the world.” Hits me right between the eyes, and this new issue’s preview has be salivating over it. Last up, I’d pay the giant size price tag for Fantastic Four #600 (Marvel, $7.99) although my patience has worn a little thin with ending the series then bringing it back for #600.

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Food or Comics? | Everybody wants a piece of the Action

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.

Graeme McMillan

It’s a slow week, this week; if I had $15, I’d use it to catch up on some recent enjoyments like Action Comics #3 (DC, $3.99) and OMAC #3 (DC, $2.99), two of my favorite titles from the New 52 relaunch–OMAC in particular has been a really weird and wonderful joy–as well as the final issue of Marvel’s great and sadly underrated Mystic revival (#4, $2.99). I’d also see if the parody-tastic Shame Itself #1 (Marvel, $3.99) lives up to its potential, because “Wyatt Cenac + Colleen Coover” sounds pretty promising to these ears.

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The Middle Ground #66: Who is Number One?

A funny thing happened while listening to a recent Word Balloon interview with Robert Kirkman; Kirkman talked about his desire to see Invincible continue with different creative teams after he’s done with the book, and I ended up thinking about the nature of work for hire in independent books.

Okay, so maybe “funny” wasn’t the right word.

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Robert Kirkman signs deal to distribute Skybound titles in Asia

Robert Kirkman’s fledgling Skybound comics line is expanding into Asia through a new distribution deal with the production company Moving Images.

Launched in July 2010, the Image Comics imprint is home to Kirkman’s books, most prominently The Walking Dead and Invincible, as well as hand-picked additions like Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner‘s Witch Doctor, and the recently confirmed Thief of Thieves, a collaboration between Kirkman, Nick Spencer, Shawn Martinbrough and a rotating roster of writers.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Skybound Asia will be based in Singapore, allowing the imprint to distribute directly to regional markets. The new venture will have a presence this weekend at the Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention.

“The next step for Skybound and The Walking Dead in particular is the evolution into a global brand,” Kirkman says. “Partnering with Moving Images to form Skybound Asia is the first logical step toward that goal. It will allow us to gain a foothold in emerging markets in order to bring Skybound comics and products to an entirely new fan base.”

Shelf Porn | A ‘trophy room’ filled with statues and original art

Welcome to Shelf Porn! It’s been awhile since we’ve posted this feature and we’re back with quite the collection today, as David Dougherty, a lawyer from Florida, shares his nicely displayed collection of statues and original art.

If you’d like to see your collection featured here, contact me at jkparkin@yahoo.com. And now let’s hear from David …

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Invincible’s Ryan Ottley gets his sketch on with Violence & Pinwheels

Artist Ryan Ottley has been knocking it out of the park for the past eight years on Invincible with writer Robert Kirkman. No disrespect to original artist Cory Walker, but Ottley quickly made a name for himself in a world of super-heroes who aren’t afraid to pull punches. Despite his busy schedule he’s found time here and there to do one-shots like Sea Bear & Grizzly Shark, and now he’s unveiling something he’s spent the past two years working on — his sketchbook!

Titled Violence & Pinwheeels, it mixes the gruesome and bloody details from those “special” moments of Invincible with some of the more innocent moments the artist is capable of. This hardcover book clocks in at 72 pages, and includes one-off sketches as well as character designs from Invincible and Haunt. The book is priced at $25 with an additional $7 for shipping inside the U.S., and Ottley is offering an additional signed Invincible comic to offset those charges.

To check some of Ottley’s sketches and to order a book for yourself, head over to the artist’s website for more details.

Talking Comics with Tim | Rus Wooton

Siblings

This week’s interview with Rus Wooton in one sense is long overdue, given that the last time I interviewed a comics letterer at Robot 6 (Todd Klein) was more than two years ago. But in another sense, the timing is perfect, considering that Wooton recently (and amicably) left Chris Eliopoulos’ Virtual Calligraphy (VC) lettering company in order to be free for his own creative projects–writing and drawing. One example of his new projects is his new webcomic project, Siblings, set to launch in July. My thanks to Nate Cosby for helping make this interview happen–and thanks to Wooton some insightful perspective on his craft. In addition to learning how he came to be a letterer in the first place, Wooton also was happy to discuss his ongoing lettering assignments for Robert Kirkman (among many other creators) as well as upcoming Cosby projects.

Tim O’Shea: You became a quadriplegic at the age of 20, were you already training to become a letterer prior to then, or did your pursuit of that career occur after then?

Rus Wooton: That’s a great question that might need a long-winded answer, but I’ll do my best to keep it brief. I’d never planned on being a letterer, but I’d always planned on working in comics in some way, at least since I was a kid in the late ’70s. I had been drawing for as long as I could remember, and I was also into graphic design from a young age, influenced by my Dad who was an Art Director and Creative Director at an advertising agency. He actually designed the CNN logo while working at Sheehey-Dudgeon in Louisville in 1980, and he’d occasionally take me or my brothers to the office evenings and weekends when he was working overtime on a project.

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