INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
The beer, which boasts a label drawn by Norton and the slogan “A Hoppy Brown Ale You’ll Drool Over,” will debut next week, just in time for the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo.
I think I finally realized why we’re here. The penultimate issue of Nathan Edmondson’s run on The Punisher, Issue 17, arrived this week and contained more of a solid understanding of the Frank Castle than I felt the previous installments had. Don’t get me wrong, Frank’s adventures in Los Angeles fighting a South American drug cartel have been spectacular in design and action, but the purpose of the run hasn’t come into focus until the Punisher was staring down Captain America in our nation’s capital.
You see, the Punisher is kind of like a very fancy hat: It looks great with the right outfit and on the right occasion, but you simply can’t wear it with everything you own.
The first page of Marvel’s Star Wars #1 is essentially a splash-page version of a screen cap, featuring the blue “A long time ago …” opening text. And they’re not kidding. The first Star Wars film opened 38 years ago, in 1977, which is when Marvel initially published licensed Star Wars comics. The company kept a monthly series going for a decade before canceling it. The racks were Star Wars-less for just four years before Dark Horse picked up the license, beginning a fruitful 23-year relationship that produced some pretty great comics — in fact, almost all of the good Star Wars comics (that aren’t the product of Jeffrey Brown, anyway).
And now, thanks to various corporate acquisitions, “The Greatest Space Fantasy of All!” is back in the hands of Marvel, which used to refer to it as such in the ’70s (and its principal heroes as “The Star Warriors”).
So how is the much-hyped, $4.99, 30-page comic with a variant cover for every star in the sky? Not bad. Not bad at all.
Manga | Manga accounted for almost 80 percent of Japan’s digital book market in the 2013 fiscal year, according to a report released by the Yano Research Institute. The marketing research company predicts the country’s larger digital market, which is worth about $710 million, will see a 23.5 percent growth in the 2014 fiscal year. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Tom Devlin, creative director of Drawn and Quarterly, talks about the unlikely success of Tove Jansson’s Moomin comics. [Montreal Gazette]
Comics | Noah Berlatsky writes about Wonder Woman the character and Wonder Woman the comic. [The Atlantic]
It’s a big month — heck, a big year — for fans of both Star Wars and of Jason Aaron and John Cassaday, as Marvel debuts the flagship title of its new line of comics, which picks up following the destruction of the Death Star in A New Hope.
However, before you can even get your hands on that million-selling first issue (it goes on sale Jan. 14), Marvel has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive first look at pages from February’s Star Wars#2, illustrated by Cassaday and colored by Laura Martin. In the issue, the Rebel assault continues, even as Luke Skywalker is cornered by Darth Vader, and Han Solo, Princess Leia and the others find themselves trapped.
Arcade Brewery is taking a slightly different approach to comic book storytelling: the six-pack of beer.
Arcade’s 6-Pack Stories series of beer debuts Wednesday with Festus Rotgut: Zombie Cowboy, a black wheat ale that features a story by Thor writer Jason Aaron and The Walking Dead co-creator Tony Moore that unfolds across all six bottles. The zombie Western beer is the first volume, which suggests more could be on the way. According to Arcade co-founder Lance Curran, the brewery wanted to tell a story first, then brew a beer to match.
Crime | Two people were arrested Friday in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after police say they tried to sell $9,000 worth of stolen comic books to a local retailer. Marcelo Hernandez, 24, and Stacie Niavez, 23, allegedly walked into Astro Zombies with three boxes of comics that matched the description and certification numbers of those stolen from a vehicle about two weeks earlier. The owner pretended to be getting price estimates but instead called police, who arrested Hernandez and Niavez outside the shop. Both were charged with receiving and transferring stolen property and conspiracy; Niavez was also charged with drug possession. [Albuquerque Journal]
Passings | Jon Kennedy, the former editorial cartoonist for the Arkansas Democrat and Arkansas Business, died Friday at age 96. He started work as an editorial cartoonist for the Democrat (now the Democrat-Gazette) in 1941, and served in the Army from 1943 to 1946, during which time he also drew cartoons and training materials. He went back to the Democrat and worked there until his retirement in 1988, then came out of retirement to draw cartoons for Arkansas Business from 1992 to 2005. He published one book, Look Back and Laugh, and was a member of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists; he was also named Arkansas Journalist of the Year in 1988. [Arkansas Business]
As a nice reminder of today’s final-order cutoff deadline for Southern Bastards #5, Image Comics has released Andrew Robinson’s painted variant cover depicting Coach Boss.
Created by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour, the “Southern-fried crime comic” follows one-time local hero Earl Tubb as he returns home to Craw County, Alabama, to take take of family business. In Issue 5, which arrives Oct. 29, the creators dig into the history of Craw County and the fearsome Euless Boss.
Manga | Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece, the bestselling manga in Japan, is getting a spinoff: Starting with the January issue, which ships in December, the manga magazine Saikyo Jump will carry a series focusing on Monkey D. Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates. There doesn’t seem to be any information yet on who the creators will be. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | In a business-oriented interview, Mark Waid talks about the strategy behind his digital comics site Thrillbent, especially its appeal to diverse groups of readers. The key is flexibility, Waid said, in terms of platforms and content. His goal is to make the comics readable on any digital device, which he says is not difficult once the site is set up. In terms of content, he says, “Pay attention to the audience, let them tell you who you’re clearly not serving, and go after them.” [The Wall Street Journal]
[Editor’s note: Each 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.]
This week saw the first arc of Jason Aaron and Jason Latour‘s Southern Bastards wrap with the release of issue #4. After spending the past three issues laying the foundation for lead character Earl Tubb to confront Dixie Mafia (and football coach) Boss, readers get what they want–and much much more.
As a native of the South (born, raised and still live in Atlanta), I have a deep appreciation for the story the Jasons aim to tell. It is 2014, but as a man who has sat in traffic in a metropolitan Southern city and witnessed a teenager driving a pickup truck with a giant Confederate flag waving from a pole in his truck bed can tell you, not everyone cares what year it is. It is 2014, but AutoTrader recruited Bo and Luke Duke to sell their new phone-app based platform. Right or wrong, those characters likely typify the South for many people who have never lived here. I think while some of my fellow Southerners live in and relish the wrongheaded trappings of the past (and yet, no, I am not calling the Dukes of Hazard racist), many folks are like me, proud of being from the South, but with no desire to rehash why and how the Civil War was fought. In 2014, there is no such thing as a typical Southerner. Thankfully, there is diversity in the 2014 South.
Event books seem tricky, but they’re really not. With their sprawling casts, catastrophic plotlines and massive fallout for books yet to come, it’s easy to see how some events (we’re looking at you, Siege) can go horribly wrong. But there are some key items each event must have to succeed, if not always spectacularly, whether or not we readers liked the outcome.
We will always need a threat, something too big for one hero, or, we hope, one team, to deal with. If the event were called Ninjariffic! and everyone just fought the Hand, we’d throw Daredevil at the problem and it would be solved. No, we require a large cast, as many and as diverse characters as we can assemble. After all, event books are here to help promote the rest of the Marvel line, and if it were just an Avengers story, it’d be an arc in one of their many books.
If the event can be personal, then we can have a role for all of our different heroes to play where no one is left out, or simply included to fill in space on a splash page. At the end of the event, we need some sort of ramifications for subsequent comics; it doesn’t have to be life-changing (though deaths are a go-to for this kind of thing), but it should shake up at least a few titles. On the other hand, the ripples don’t necessarily have to be massive, as the rest of the books have stories to tell as well; we don’t want one event ruining other creators’ work.
Civil War is an example of doing things right, no matter how much the end of the series fell apart. It had a threat in the form of the Superhuman Registration Act, it affected characters personally by making them choose sides, and the aftermath continues to be felt in the Marvel Universe. Another good example — and again, controversial in reader’s judgments — is Fear Itself. The threats posed were entire realms at war using Earth as a staging ground. It affected heroes personally, as they all faced their fears, and at the end of the day, the fallout was mostly contained to Asgard, letting the other stories get back to work in their own books. Whether or not you enjoyed the stories, they were told pretty artfully and got the job done.
Did Original Sin pass the test? Read on and find out!
WARNING: BIG HONKIN’ SPOILERS for all of Original Sin, mostly the big finale that came out this week so grab your copies and read along!
Piracy | The Japanese government is joining with 15 anime production companies and manga publishers to launch a major initiative that will target foreign pirate sites. The push will start Aug. 1 and will have two components: The government will send takedown requests to 580 pirate sites and also launch a website that directs people to legitimate sources of online manga. The Japanese Cultural Affairs Agency estimates that Chinese pirate sites cost the industry 560 billion yen (about $5.5 million) last year. [Crunchyroll]
Comics | Lidia Jean Kott talks with writer Jason Aaron about his female Thor and pays a visit to Fantom Comics in Washington, D.C., where a quarter of the customers are women and the bestselling title is Saga (the bestselling superhero comic is Ms. Marvel). [NPR]
Although Saturday at Comic-Con International was dominated by movies and television — led by Warner Bros. Pictures, Marvel Studios and Legendary Pictures — there was still room for plenty of comics news. First and foremost, the announcement of Marvel’s Star Wars plans.
That line, telling canonical stories set between the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, launches in January with Star Wars, by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday, followed in February by Star Wars: Darth Vader, by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca with covers by Adi Granov, and in March by the miniseries Star Wars: Princess Leia, by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson.
“What’s great about this time period is that all the characters are kind of on the table,” Aaron told CBR News. “Of course this is still early on and these people have pretty much just met each and just come together. So they’re still finding their place within this group and sort of figuring out their relationships with each other. Then there’s the fact that when you look at the gap between Episode IV and Episode V there’s some pretty major beats that happen off screen. So this gives up the opportunity to grab those beats and lay them down as part of the same canon as the movies.”
A week after Marvel announced a woman will take up the mantle of Thor after the current hero is deemed unworthy to wield Mjolnir, artist Russell Dauterman has posted his character models for both versions of the god of thunder.
“Did these as I was starting work on the book,” the incoming Thor artist wrote on his blog. “The costumes were designed before I came on board (by the great Esad Ribic, I believe), but here’s my take on them.”
As writer Jason Aaron told Comic Book Resources last week, the former Thor — Thor Odinson, prince of Asgard — will “still have a role to play” in the new series, which debuts in October.
Publishing | The latest BookScan numbers reveal June was a good month for manga in bookstores, with eight volumes of Attack on Titan making the top 20 — a new record. The first volume topped the list, which means new readers are still discovering Hajime Isayama’s dark fantasy. Overall, manga had a slight edge, with 11 titles, and all three volumes of Saga were on the list, but only one volume of The Walking Dead. And despite the Amazon-Hachette battle, the Yen Press title Sword Art Online: Aincrad made the chart. [ICv2]
Publishing | ICv2 and Comichron’s John Jackson Miller joined forces to calculate the size of the entire comics market, including the direct market, bookstore and digital channels, and both single issues and graphic novels. Inevitably some things get left out, such as subscription services, sales to libraries and the juggernaut that is the Scholastic Book Fair, but it’s a good snapshot. The bottom line: $850 million in 2013. [Comichron]