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Comics A.M. | ‘Attack on Titan’ invades bookstore chart

Attack on Titan, Vol. 1

Attack on Titan, Vol. 1

Publishing | ICv2 has Nielsen BookScan’s Top 20 graphic novels for September, which reveals an interesting month for bookstore sales. First of all, there are five volumes of Attack on Titan on the list, which means 25 percent of September’s list comes from one series — and that series is not The Walking Dead. It sort of looks like the old days, with nine volumes of manga on the chart. What’s more, the non-manga side is dominated by older titles: Watchmen, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: The Killing Joke, Fun Home… and a Garfield book. Once again, no Marvel releases — and no new DC Comics books — charted. [ICv2]

Conventions | ICv2 explains the significance of the partnership between Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo and Diamond Comic Distributors, and the article gives some background on the Expo, which started in 2011 and has grown quickly into a solid regional event. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | For Banned Books Week, a look at ‘corrupting’ comics

From "Superboy" #2 (1949)

From “Superboy” #2 (1949)

History | Michael Dooley celebrates Banned Books Week with a look at the comics singled out by Dr. Fredric Wertham in Seduction of the Innocent as particularly corrupting of our youth; Dooley juxtaposes scans of the pages with Werthem’s commentary. [Print]

Creators | Lynda Barry is now an assistant professor of interdisciplinary creativity in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID) as well as the UW-Madison Department of Art; she was an artist in residence at the university last year. [University of Wisconsin-Madison News]

Creators | Congressman John Lewis, co-author Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell talk about their involvement in the graphic novel March. [Free Comic Book Day]

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Faith Erin Hicks shows off the pitch that failed

afterlife incFaith Erin Hicks is on top of the world these days, thanks to her critically acclaimed graphic novels (Friends With Boys, Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong), as well as her game tie-in series for Dark Horse, The Last of Us, and the collected edition of her webcomic The Adventures of Superhero Girl. And yet, she admits, there’s a comic even she can’t sell.

Hicks described the project in July during her spotlight panel at Comic-Con International, where she told Bone creator Jeff Smith that she had pitched the book to First Second, publisher of Friends With Boys and Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, but the imprint had rejected it. “It is my most-rejected pitch,” she said. “It is this extremely weird story about work, and about people who work in this office, but it is literally an office that is a way station for dead people, and so it’s all about having a crappy office job but with this insane supernatural bent and it is a ridiculous story, but the thing is, it has been rejected everywhere.”

“So your coworkers are all zombies?” Smith responded. “That sounds like real life to me.”

A few weeks ago, Hicks was rummaging through her hard drive and found her pitch for the comic, which she posted on her blog. The response was so enthusiastic that she posted more of the pitch the same day. The comic is called Afterlife, Inc., and while Hicks admits it may not make a good graphic novel, she does say, in the second post, “I think this story would make a good webcomic or floppy comic (maybe at somewhere like Image), because it’s very meandering and would benefit from serialized storytelling to build the weirdness of the world its set in. Plus, the web LOVES weird stuff!”

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Comics A.M. | Injured ‘Spider-Man’ actor blames stage equipment

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Legal | A dancer seriously injured last month during a performance of the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark insists the accident was caused by malfunctioning equipment and not, as the show’s producers contend, by human error. Daniel Curry made the claim in documents filed Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court that seek to prevent the production from altering or destroying the computerized stage lift before his experts can inspect the equipment in preparation for a potential civil lawsuit. He’s also requesting maintenance records and any internal reports about the accident. The 23-year-old Curry was injured during the Aug. 15 performance of Spider-Man when his leg was pinned in an automated trap door. According to court papers, he suffered fractured legs and a fractured foot, and has had to undergo surgeries and unspecified amputations. [New York Daily News, The New York Times]

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This weekend, it’s Small Press Expo

spx posterOne of the biggest indie comics events of the year, Small Press Expo (aka SPX), will take place Saturday and Sunday at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in North Bethesda, Maryland.

It’s a must-attend show for me, and this year will be no different. Well, it will be a little different, as my 11-year-old daughter will be coming along for what will be her first-ever comics convention. She will have copies of her own comic, Indefinable, for sale, so if you see us wandering the aisles, say hello.

Traversing the aisles of SPX with a pre-teen might prove to be a bit of a challenge, but I’m going to try to cram as much age-appropriate comics fun in the weekend as possible. Here’s some things I’m looking forward to/hoping to buy.

Five comics I’m planning on buying:

1. Wild Man: Island of Memory by T. Edward Bak. I’m a big fan of Bak’s Service Industry and really enjoyed the story he was serializing in Mome, about explorer and scientist Georg Steller. Wild Man: Island of Memory collects and reworks that material, the first part of what will be a projected four-volume series. Based on what I’ve read so far, I feel expect that this will be one of the more talked-about books at SPX this year.

2. Frontier #2 by Hellen Jo. Jo has been relatively quiet comics-wise since she released Jim and Jan a few years back. Now, via Ryan Sands’ relatively new publishing venture, Youth in Decline, she’s got what’s sure to be a swell mini collecting various paintings, pencils and other artwork.

3. Monster. It just wouldn’t be SPX if Hidden Fortress Press didn’t have a new volume of this usually reliable anthology. This year looks to be especially good, with 200 pages of comics by such noteworthy names as Marc Bell, Mat Brinkman, Jordan Crane, Michael DeForge, Edie Fake and Leif Goldberg. That’s a pretty killer list of talent – when was the last time we saw a new Brinkman comic, anyway?

4. Gold Pollen and Other Stories by Seiichi Hayashi. It’s nice to see more and more classic manga from people that aren’t Osamu Tezuka coming to Western shores. This is a collection of short stories from the author of Red Colored Elegy, a book I was a bit flummoxed by initially but that has slowly won me over more in ensuing years. The Picturebox site still labels it as “coming soon,” but it’s listed as a debut book on the SPX site. Basically, if it’s there, I’m buying a copy.

5. Love Stories by Mat Tait. New Zealand will be duly represented at the show by Tait, who will have this collection of stories available for sale. I’ve heard good things about Tait’s work and am excited to delve into it.

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Check out Jeff Smith’s limited edition SPX print

smith-spx

Next weekend SPX will once again be held in Bethesda, Maryland, where they will have not only a tote bag designed by Bone and RASL creator Jeff Smith, but also a limited edition print featuring the main characters from both those books. Signed copies will also be included in the SPX Limited Edition Print Set, which includes all the art created for SPX 2013 by Smith, Jeremy Sorese, Farel Dalrymple, Ed Piskor, Peter Bagge, Michael DeForge and many more.

Check out Smith’s print below.

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‘I want to be Jeff Smith when I grow up, not Stan Lee’

adventures of superhero girl

Nah. I like doing my own stories. There are some characters at DC and Marvel that I’m fond of, but I can’t really see sinking years of my life into working on those characters. I like my own characters, and I want to spend time with them. I want to be Jeff Smith when I grow up, not Stan Lee.”

Faith Erin Hicks, creator of Friends With Boys and The Adventures of Superhero Girl, when asked whether there’s a comic-book character she dreams of drawing one day

SDCC ’13 | Thursday programming schedule released

comic-conWhile many of us were enjoying our holiday, Comic-Con International organizers were busy releasing the programming schedule for Thursday, July 18, the first full day of the San Diego convention. The rundown for Friday, July 19 should come along early this afternoon.

As we’ve come to expect, Thursday’s lineup is a healthy mix of comics, television, toys, fantasy and film (although light on the latter, which take center stage on Friday and Saturday). The comics programming includes panels from Avatar Press, Bongo Comics (it’s the publisher’s 20th anniversary), BOOM! Studios, Dark Horse, DC Entertainment, Kodansha Comics, Marvel, Monkeybrain Comics (it’s that publisher’s first anniversary), TwoMorrows, Vertigo, Viz Media and Warp Comics.

However, that’s only for starters, as there are spotlights on Chris Samnee, Jeff Smith, J.H. Williams III, Dan Parent and Gary Frank, The Walking Dead‘s 10th-anniversary panel, and discussions about digital comics, gender in comics, LGBT webcomics and much, much more.

Check out some of the comics-related highlights below, and visit the Comic-Con website for the full schedule:

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First look at Jeff Smith’s ‘RASL’ in full color

rasl2-cropped

Cartoon Books has released a 10-page color preview of the hardcover collection of RASL, Jeff Smith’s sci-fi noir series about a dimension-hopping art thief. The comic, his first major work following Bone, was originally serialized in black and white over 15 issues from 2008 to 2012.

“[Doing the Bone books in color] did give me more confidence,” Smith told CBR TV in April at WonderCon. “It also made me think color sells a lot. There’s a lot of people really attracted to the color. So, I kept Bone in black and white because that’s what I really like, and Scholastic does the color versions. Now, I’m self-publishing RASL again, but I wanted to explore color with it on my own. I got Steve [Hamaker, Bone colorist] back and we discussed — it’s got a noir-ish, hard-boiled feel to it, so it can’t be the same thing as Bone. It’s not a fantasy, it’s not a comedy and we worked really hard. We struggled for months until we came up with a palette that was very rich and very smoky and very different from Bone, and yet it is actually better than the black and white. I’ve very happy with it.”

The 472-page RASL hardcover can be pre-ordered now for release in September.

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Comics A.M. | This weekend, it’s … a bunch of conventions

Maine Comic Arts Festival

Maine Comic Arts Festival

Conventions | Jeff Smith, Rick Parker and Raina Telgemeier are the featured guests at this weekend’s Maine Comic Arts Festival in Portland. [Portland Press Herald]

Conventions | Britton Peele takes a look at this weekend’s Dallas Comic Con, which will include an array of media guests and comics creators. [Pegasus News]

Conventions | Meanwhile, Stan Lee will be at Detroit’s Motor City Comic Con, along with Ramon Bachs, Katie Cook and a host of other creators. And some media guests. [The Detroit News]

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Comics A.M. | Silver Age artist Dan Adkins passes away

Art by Dan Adkins

Art by Dan Adkins

Passings | Silver Age artist Dan Adkins died earlier this month at the age of 76. Adkins, who began with self-published zines before becoming a freelance illustrator, served as Wally Wood’s assistant. As a member of Wood’s studio, he was one of the original artists for T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. Adkins was a prolific penciller and inker for numerous publishers, from DC Comics and Warren Publishing to Harvey Comics and Marvel, notably drawing 132 covers for the latter. He talked in detail about his career, and working with Wood, in this interview with Alter Ego. [News from ME]

Kickstarter | Jeff Yang analyzes why Jonathan Coulton and Greg Pak’s Code Monkey Save World Kickstarter, which started with a single Tweet, was destined for success, and he talks to both creators about how it came to be. [Speakeasy]

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Comics A.M. | Weak April for graphic novels in bookstores

The Walking Dead Compendium, Vol. 2

The Walking Dead Compendium, Vol. 2

Graphic novels | April was a slow month for new graphic novel releases, so the BookScan Top 20 had plenty of room for some backlist titles. The Walking Dead dominated, of course, but the 10th volume of Sailor Moon was there for a second month and actually moved up a notch. And the first volume of Saga came in at No. 12, perhaps because people were curious as to what all the fuss is about. [ICv2]

Editorial cartoons | Nick Anderson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for the Houston Chronicle, has responded to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s criticism of Jack Ohman’s cartoon with a cartoon of his own. [Comic Riffs]

Conventions | Jeff Smith, Brian Wood, Sean Murphy and Raina Telgemeier are the headline guests at the Maine Comics Arts Festival in Portland on May 19. [Foster's Daily Democrat]

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Comics A.M. | Calgary Comic Expo grapples with growing pains

Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo

Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo

Conventions | The University of Calgary’s student newspaper looks at the rapid growth of the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo, and the problems that go with it: Last year, ticket holders had to be turned away because the event was over capacity. “Last year it was really a shame that people had so much trouble,” says Lyndsay Peters, owner of Dragon Chow Dice Bags. “We saw a lot of frustrated customers and we talked to a lot of frustrated people. I know there are some people who won’t be coming back this year. But everything we have been told as vendors and everything that has been communicated to us shows that they are taking it very seriously this year.” This year’s convention will be held April 26-28. [The Gauntlet]

Awards | The jury has been announced for the Doug Wright Awards. [Doug Wright Awards Blog]

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Comics reach for the masses at WonderCon

dark horse-star wars

The Star Wars: OMG that’s Luke Skywalker but it’s not but it is!

Whether WonderCon stays in Anaheim is still up in the air, but no doubt it’s already becoming a favorite event for Southern California. Year Two already appears exponentially more successful than last year, when WonderCon first took up residence in Disney Town.

Three-day badges and badges for Friday and Saturday sold out early, when last year you could easily do a walk-up on any day. The fast acceptance of WonderCon is at least in part due to those burned out on Comic-Con International or frustrated at the five-second sellout looking for a local alternative. It’s not just a good substitute, it’s a great convention. It also had the first big comics announcements of the year to kick off convention season. Looking through coverage here at Comic Book Resources and beyond, there were plenty of things that ranged from boring to intriguing to exciting, but three stood head and shoulders above the rest because of their potential to appeal to larger audiences.

With comics sales on the rise, these publishing moves not only do their part in boosting momentum but in helping the gradual shift of social perception of the comics form. Comics like these always excite me because it’s a reminder of the unique reach comics can have in grabbing people’s attention when the right pieces are in place. More and more these days, there are comics for anyone and when innovative thinking is applied as it is here, they stand a better chance in reaching people that don’t make it a habit of seeking out comics. Of course, comics have long had a problem getting these kinds of things right, so as we’ll see there are challenges, but the potential is exciting.

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WonderCon ’13 | A round-up of news from Saturday

The Rocketeer/Spirit: Pulp Friction

The Rocketeer/Spirit: Pulp Friction

It doesn’t look like there were as many comic-related announcements on Saturday at WonderCon as there were on Friday, but the second day of the con certainly brought some gems.

• IDW and DC announced that Mark Waid (Daredevil, Insufferable) and Paul Smith (Uncanny X-Men, Leave it to Chance) are teaming up for The Rocketeer/Spirit: Pulp Friction. “Not many writers have been lucky enough to write The Rocketeer or The Spirit,” Waid said in a press release, “so I feel like I’ve won the lottery. This is one of the most exciting-and scariest-assignments I’ve ever undertaken. Luckily, I’ve got Paul Smith to make me look good!” The first issue of the miniseries arrives in July.

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