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C2E2 | Friday on the floor

Waiting to get in.

My big question heading into the show this year was, “How much is it going to feel like a comics convention?” With Chris “Thor” Hemsworth and much of the cast of Chuck being around this weekend, would C2E2 start to feel like San Diego or – God forbid – Wizard World Chicago from a couple of years ago with movies and TV taking over the center of attention?

It’s only Friday, but so far so really damn good.

After last year’s C2E2, I had high expectations for the convention this year and everything got off to a great start. Press registration went smoothly again and some of the Artist Alley creators who hadn’t attended last year told me how impressed they were with the professionalism and just general niceness of the staff they’d worked with.

One major difference though is that the convention’s in a different part of McCormick Place this year. Instead of the impressive Lakeside Center with it’s unbelievable view of Lake Michigan and downtown Chicago, it’s in the West Building. Still a very nice space with lush carpeting and plenty of room, just not as jaw-droppingly grand as last year. I’m not sure why that is, but one artist brought it to my attention that the setting sun through the giant picture-windows last year could sometimes make it difficult to see and interact with fans. So whatever the rationale for moving, there are positive and negative things about both spaces.

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Comics A.M. | One Piece breaks another record, more on Diamond Digital

One Piece, Vol. 61

Publishing | The 61st volume of Eiichiro Oda’s insanely popular pirate manga One Piece sold more than 2 million copies in its first three days of release, according to the Japanese market-survey firm Oricon. It’s the fastest-selling book in the Oricon chart’s nearly three-year history, breaking the previous record set by the 60th volume of One Piece, which sold more than 2 million copies in four days. [Anime News Network]

Retailing | Heidi MacDonald talks to Dave Bowen, Diamond’s director of digital distribution, about the newly announced deal with iVerse Media that will allow retailers to sell digital comics in their stores: “The retailer will login using their Diamond retailer login and be presented with the opportunity to create store-specific, item-specific codes in whatever quantities they need. Then we’ll use some approved cryptographically secure method to generate random codes for the retailer to use. And we’ll format those in a PDF which they can then print out. Likely what will happen is, it’ll print easily on Avery 30-up laser labels. So what you have is a sheet of Avery laser labels with a bunch of different books and codes on individual labels. In that case the retailer takes that material and secures it and then when someone wants Transformers #16 they simply ring the sale and give the label or sticker or cut-out to the consumer. [...] It’s really very simple. Then the consumer that has that code, which is live, they could literally step out of the line, pull out their iphone or ipad or whatever other device and redeem the code and begin reading the material.” Meanwhile, Todd Allen dissects what he describes as “a particularly silly digital download scheme.” [The Beat, Indignant Online]

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Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs | Return of the Dapper Men

Return of the Dapper Men

Return of the Dapper Men
Written by Jim McCann; Illustrated by Janet Lee
Archaia; $24.95

There’s a line in Finding Neverland that’s stuck with me. “Young boys should never be sent to bed. They always wake up a day older.” What I love about that movie (and stories like Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland) is their celebration of childhood. They reflect a delightfully tenacious refusal to let something as mundane as growing up steal the joy of an imaginative life.

Of course, there’s a flipside to that perspective. A couple of them, really. The dreary one that’s most often cited by boring people is that you can’t stay a child forever. As a Grown Up, one has Responsibilities to face. As if meeting responsibilities and living a blissful, inspired, creative life are mutually exclusive activities.

There’s another response to the Peter Pan Syndrome though; one that’s just as special as the desire to hold on to childhood. It doesn’t belittle childhood as something to be put behind as quickly (and grumpily) as possible. It takes the best part of childhood and invites us to carry it with us into a more mature way of looking at the world. That’s the perspective that Jim McCann and Janet Lee introduce in Return of the Dapper Men.

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Archaia on selling out: What it means and how to do it

We’ve all seen the limitless press announcements from every comics publisher there is about sold out books. After a while, they lose meaning. Did the publisher not print very many? Did retailers under-order? Do people just really love the book? Seldom do we get answers to those questions.

So when Archaia recently sold out of both Return of the Dapper Men and the Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard collection at the same time, there seemed to be an opportunity to dig into this phenomenon a bit. At C2E2 last year, I learned that Archaia is remarkably forthcoming about their business strategies, so their double sell out seemed like a great time to find out not only what that event means to a small publisher, but also to learn about the work that went into creating the situation in the first place. I asked Archaia’s Editor-in-Chief Stephen Christy, Mouse Guard’s creator David Petersen, and Return of the Dapper Men’s Jim McCann and Janet Lee to help me understand. They not only did that; they also gave me a unique look at how Archaia perceives itself and what sets the company apart from other publishers.

Michael May: Stephen, can you talk about the print runs of Return of the Dapper Men and Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard? How do they compare to Archaia’s typical numbers?

Stephen Christy: They were both larger than a standard Archaia print run. Mouse Guard is our bestselling title, so we knew we had to print heavy and Dapper Men had enough preorders to justify a run of 10,000 copies. It wasn’t until preorders jumped on both titles a week or two before release that we started to get a feeling that we could get hit with a sell out.

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

Batman Incorporated #1

Welcome to another installment of “Food or Comics?” Every week we set certain hypothetical spending limits on ourselves and go through the agony of trying to determine what comes home and what stays on the shelves. So join us as we run down what comics we’d buy if they only had $15 and $30 to spend, as well as what we’d get if we had some “mad money” to splurge with.

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

Graeme McMillan

If I had $15, at least $9 of it – okay, $8.98 – would be already spoken for. The first issue of Batman Incorporated ($3.99) and one-shot lead-in Batman: The Return #1 ($4.99) offer up the first glimpses of what Grant Morrison has in mind for his new Batus-quo and, after the way he brought the RIP/Return of Bruce Wayne storyline to a close, I’m pretty much on board no matter what. The remaining money…? It’s a tough one, but I’m going to go for Spider-Girl #1 ($3.99), pretty much because I like Paul Tobin’s writing, I like the Twitter gimmick (Somewhere, Joe Casey’s going “I did it first in Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance!” and I know, Joe), and, most importantly, the Spider-Girl short was my favorite part of last week’s Amazing Spider-Man relaunch issue. Who could’ve seen that coming?

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Talking Comics with Tim | Janet K. Lee

Return of the Dapper Men

Return of the Dapper Men

Writer Jim McCann and artist Janet K. Lee‘s Return of the Dapper Men (Archaia) will have its pre-release West Coast debut at Meltdown Comics (in Los Angeles) this Wednesday–with McCann at the store to help celebrate the event, as well as sign advance copies of the graphic novel. As detailed in the recent CBR preview of the book: “Welcome to Anoreve, a world in between time, where children have played so long it’s almost become work, machines have worked so long they have begun to play and all the clocks have stopped at the same time. This is how this land has remained, until 314 dapper-looking gentlemen rain down from the sky and set off in different directions to start the world again. Now Ayden, the only boy to still ask questions; Zoe, the robot girl all other machines hold dear; and the Dapper Man known only as “41” must discover what happened that made time stop, understand what their true places are in this world, and learn what “tomorrow” really means. The sun is setting for the first time in memory, and once that happens, everything changes.” There’s been a great deal of interest and discussion in Lee’s art, so I was motivated to email interview her so I could better grasp her artistic style for the book, which will officially be released on November 17. I can honestly say this marks the first time I’ve gotten to discuss the craft of decoupage in an interview.

Tim O’Shea: There seems to be an immense amount of trust between you and Jim McCann. On one level, McCann had an incredible level of trust in your artistic talent, despite the fact this is your first graphic novel. And you had to trust McCann to deliver a script that you could bring to life visually. Would you agree there’s a deep level of trust to your collaboration with McCann?

Janet Lee: Before there was a book, before Jim was ever at Marvel or I started showing art regularly, we were really good friends. That that friendship absolutely shaped our collaboration on RETURN OF THE DAPPER MEN. I can ask Jim any question, make suggestions freely, knowing that we’ll still be friends at the end of it. I would absolutely hope he feels the same way about me. Even when there’s a difference of opinion, I know Jim’s only intention is to make the book the best it can be, and I trust his vision.

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Todd Klein designs dapper cover for Return of the Dapper Men

Return of the Dapper Men

Return of the Dapper Men

We already know that Todd Klein is an award-winning letterer for all sorts of comics, and if you’ve been following along, you also know that he’s worked with various writers and artists to design some really awesome prints. So it’s no surprise that he designed the cover for writer Jim McCann and artist Janet Lee’s upcoming graphic novel, Return of the Dapper Men. The book is due from Archaia in November.

“Having a master designer like Todd Klein on board Team Dapper is a great honor,” said Archaia Editor-in-Chief Stephen Christy in a press release. “I’ve been talking for months about how special this book is, and how much fun it is as an editor to be working on a fairy tale entirely unlike anything seen in comics before. With Todd joining creators Jim McCann and Janet Lee as we bring Dapper down the homestretch to publication, I can promise readers that this is one of those instances where the quality and artistry of this book lives up to the hype!”

Talking Comics with Tim: Chris Samnee

Thor: The Mighty Avenger 3

Thor: The Mighty Avenger 3

This Wednesday will see the release of the third issue of writer Roger Langridge and artist Chris Samnee‘s Thor: The Mighty Avenger. Anyone reading our weekly What Are You Reading column knows how much I’ve praised the first two issues. Samnee and I spoke briefly at this past June’s HeroesCon and from there an email interview came together. In addition to Thor, we discuss some of Samnee’s past work as well as his upcoming collaboration with writer Jim McCann on I Am An Avenger 1. Earlier today, CBR posted a five-page preview to Thor: The Mighty Avenger 3.

O’Shea: What’s the most enjoyable aspect of working from a Roger Langridge script?

Samnee: Roger’s scripts are really funny – I laugh out loud when I read them! I love the humor as well as his ability to tell quiet, emotional moments. Since Roger’s also an artist, he’s really good with pacing and page turns as well. And the scripts have a very silver-age feel, which is right up my alley.

O’Shea: I keep re-reading Thor: The Mighty Avenger 1 trying to figure out what my favorite scene was–and I can ‘t decide if it’s when we first see the Rainbow Bridge on page 2; or the first scene where Thor smiles. Was the smiling Thor a character suggestion from Langridge or was that your idea?

Samnee: The smile was in the script. Roger made clear right from the outline for the book that this Thor smiles and enjoys himself. For me, that was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the book, as an artist and a reader of comics. I’ve worked on a lot of heavy books – it’s a nice change of pace to be on something a bit lighter, a comic where the characters are having fun.

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What Are You Reading?

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne

Welcome once again to What Are You Reading? Today’s special guest is writer and artist Dean Trippe, creator of Butterfly and co-founder of the Project: Rooftop blog, among other credits. He posts regularly on his Tumblr site Bearsharktopus-Man, where he is currently selling this nifty Doctor Who/Batman crossover print. He also has some art in the Webcomics Auction for the Gulf.

To see what Dean and the rest of the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …

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HeroesCon ’10 | McCann, Lee and the ‘Dapper Men’

DapperMenHeroesConPoster600w

Writer Jim McCann and artist Janet Lee are exhibiting at HeroesCon this weekend to support their upcoming graphic novel Return of the Dapper Men, and he sent over a look at the limited edition print they’ll be selling at the show. You can buy one at their table, AA-726; they’re limited to 314, signed and numbered, for $15.

Talking Comics with Tim: Jim McCann

Dazzler

Dazzler

Jim McCann‘s name is going to be popping up in Marvel Comics more regularly starting toward the end of this month. First up is the May 26 release of the writer’s Dazzler one-shot, followed by the June 3 launch of his Hawkeye & Mockingbird ongoing monthly series. I recently got to discuss both projects in an email interview. It’s never dull for me to chat about Marvel characters with a writer who clearly both enjoys and does his research. My thanks for McCann’s time.

Tim O’Shea: For folks that are afraid the Dazzler one-shot is a nostalgia romp, far from it–in fact the story comes out of the recent Necrosha event. Can you talk a little bit about it?

Jim McCann: Dazz has a bit more heat & attention on her post-Necroshia, both with the fans…and with her enemies! Specifically Mortis, a.k.a. Lois London, her long-absent half-sister, who has massive anger issues and a very strong desire to kill Dazzler!

I wanted to give Dazzler a strong nemesis and family, two things all great characters need, and found both in Lois. They avoided the fight in Necrosha, but, as the cover & solicit says, THIS is the fight, the Necrosha Aftermath for these two!

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

Tintin in the Congo

Tintin in the Congo

Legal | A Belgian court will rule next week whether Herge’s 1931 collection Tintin in the Congo will be banned because of its depictions of native Africans. The decision, originally expected today, following a nearly three-year-old effort by Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo, a Congolese man living in Belgium, to have the book removed from the country’s bookstores, or at least sold with warning labels as it is in Britain. [Guardian, Mail Online]

Libraries | Robot 6 contributor Brigid Alverson reports on a C2E2 panel devoted to helping librarians deal with public challenges to graphic novels. On a related note, she also talks to Jeff Smith about a Minnesota mother’s attempt to have Bone removed from libraries in her school district. [Publishers Weekly]

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