The fantasy-action-comedy comic Skullkickers was one of the surprise hits of the past year, and now the creators are going to post the back issues on Keenspot. The web version starts out with two prequels, short stories that writer Jim Zubkavich and artist Chris Stevens created for Image’s Popgun Anthology.
While it may seem odd to post a comic for free while it’s still available for sale, this move makes a lot of sense: I’m guessing single issues that came out more than a year ago are no longer readily available (although digital editions still are at comiXology), but as the trades have sold pretty well, the creators may figure the value of the new readers who will come to the comic through Keenspot — and ultimately buy the print or digital editions — will more than compensate for any sales lost from those people who might have paid but decided to read Skullkickers for free instead.
This is a calculation every creator should make, because it may lead them to choose, as Zubkavich & Co. have done, to pre-empt the pirates and make their work available online on their own terms.
I’ve been meaning to check out Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin’s all-ages comic Princeless ever since reading an online review of it last month, and now it looks like my procrastination has paid off–Princeless: Save Yourself, the collection of the first volume, will include a new story featuring a Princeless/Skullkickers crossover by Skullkickers writer Jim Zubkavich and drawn by Goodwin.
You can see Goodwin’s sketches of the characters, from her Deviant Art site, above. The collection arrives in April.
[Note: this post was assembled by both Tim O'Shea and JK Parkin]
This is our final post for our big birthday bash, and what a post it is. No matter how much stuff we line up, people we interview, etc., there are still tons of folks we like to hear from and include in our giant New Year’s/anniversary/birthday activities. So, as we have in past years, we have asked various comics folks what they are excited about for 2012 in comics–something they aren’t working on and something they are.
There’s a lot of great stuff here–hints at new projects and even some downright announcements. Our thanks to everyone this year who responded!
I’m most anticipating the 30th Anniversary of HEROES CON (June 22-24, Charlotte, NC) . For any convention 30 years is an amazing run, but the fact that Shelton Drum and his extended family have put this show together every year with nothing but blood, sweat and tears is flat out super heroic.
On the personal front, the challenging and exhilarating ride that’s been Loose Ends will come to a close with issue 4. It’ll be bittersweet to send our child off to into the real world but I can’t wait for you guys to see the work Brunner & Renzi are doing.
I’m also super excited to dip my own toes into the Mignola-verse with the BPRD: The Pickens County Horror [March 28, 2012] and to read the end of Jason Aaron & RM Guera’s Scalped, which is my favorite series in years.
This sounds politic, but it’s genuine: what excites me about comics in 2012 is what’s exciting every year, the work of the talent. Seeing what the best are up to and how the up-n-comers have grown as artists and writers. In the new year, I’m also excited about illustrating several books and covers that feature my favorite Avengers.
Comics | Matt Pizzolo discusses the Occupy Comics project, which raised more than $28,000 on Kickstarter: “The way the money is allocated is actually through the individual contributors. The artists and writers are all paid a proportional share of the revenue based on the number of pages they provide versus the total number of pages in the book, but all of the artists and writers are agreeing to donate that money to the protesters. Most contributors want to donate as a group to get the most bang for their buck, but they don’t have to — anyone can just take their share and hand it to the protesters at their local park if they want.” [The Morton Report]
Comics | Todd Allen compares the relative positions of DC’s New 52 titles in November with their September rankings; the November orders reflect the adjustments retailers made after seeing how the different titles sold in September. The results: Animal Man shot up by 10 slots, The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men sank by eight, but most titles only moved a few notches up or down. [The Beat]
Following a request from a scanlator for unlettered pages from Skullkickers to make the comic’s translation into Russian easier, creator Jim Zubkavich has stumbled across re-lettered versions of two covers from the popular Image series.
“This one blows my mind,” he wrote this morning on Twitter, indicating the cover of Issue 8. “They even translated the signs around their neck.” He later added, “That’s high class comic pirate rock n’ roll.”
Jim Zubkavich’s Skullkickers, a lively action-comedy series about two monster-fighting mercenaries, has been one of the success stories of 2011 in the North American market, and now it turns out to have overseas fans as well. Last week, Zubkavich got an e-mail from someone named Roman who is translating Skullkickers into Russian, then carefully cleaning the English words out of the word balloons and replacing them with the new text. Roman actually e-mailed Zubkavich and asked if he would be willing to send unlettered pages to make the job easier.
“I have no idea how to properly respond to this,” Zubkavich wrote on Twitter. “I mean, I can’t send him page art like that, but it’s just so damn bizarre.” Zubkavich noted that he owns Skullkickers (which is published by Image), so he knows there are no plans for a Russian edition. A fascinating Twitter conversation followed, with Cameron Stewart arguing for sharing the files — “it may be ‘piracy’ but I’d reckon the goodwill you’d get from authorizing it is significant” — and Indigo Kelleigh expressing reservations: “But politely point out that him giving your work away for free makes it difficult for you to enter that market legitimately.”
Zubkavich is still mulling it over, but he shared his e-mail reply to Roman with Robot 6:
‘Tis the season for decking those halls, trimming those trees, lighting the menorah and, of course, figuring out what to buy for your friends and family. To help give you some ideas, we reached out to a few comic creators, asking them:
1. What comic-related gift or gifts would you recommend giving this year, and why?
2. What gift (comic or otherwise) is at the top of your personal wish list, and why?
We’ve gotten back a bunch of suggestions, which we’ll run between now and the end of the week. So let the merriment commence …
1. Exclusive 2011 Janet Lee Holiday Ornaments
Every year, Janet does about 12 ornaments, three sets of four. This year, she has done Hipster Animals, Scary Toys and Art Nouveau Angels. They are signed and dated, and at the end of the season, that’s it! She stops making them. I’ve been collecting them since 2007, and now our tree is almost completely filled with Janet’s art. You can buy them exclusively through her Etsy shop.
Oh, and if you’re REALLY nice, she MAY have a very limited Dapper Men ornament or two. Just ask!
2. This year, for myself, I’m going with a mix of Blu-Rays (portable Blu-Ray player, please, Santa!) and books. But the thing I’m REALLY excited for is the hardcover edition of the Complete Ripley novels, by Patricia Highsmith. Most people only know of Ms. Highsmith through The Talented Mr. Ripley (and classic film lovers through Strangers On a Train). There were actually five Tom Ripley novels, and the collection looks amazing. Why these books? My spouse recently Tweeted a quote from John Lithgow that struck me as a writer: “Duality, duplicity, truth and deception, good becoming bad and vice-versa are crucial elements of great storytelling.” Highsmith was and remains an unsung hero of mastering that, so I hope I learn something in the process!
Happy Holidays from the Dapper Lariosa-McCann household!
Jim McCann is the writer of Return of the Dapper Men and its upcoming sequel, Marvel Zombies Christmas Carol, Hawkeye:Blindspot and the upcoming Mind The Gap.
Creators | Sarah Glidden, creator of How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, chronicles her time at Occupy Miami Nov. 15-21 in a sketchbook. [Cartoon Movement]
Creators | Corey Blake follows up on the Bill Mantlo story published by LIfeHealthPro, including some clarifications of issues raised in the story and additional details on various fundraisers over the years to help pay for Mantlo’s care. [Corey Blake]
Creators | Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society Podcast interviews Skullkickers writer Jim Zubkavich about piracy and the Stop Online Piracy Act. [Berkman Center for Internet & Society Podcast]
Viz Media will release Art for Hope, a digital art book anthology that benefits Architecture for Humanity’s ongoing disaster reconstruction efforts in Japan, on Dec. 1 through VIZManga.com and the Viz Manga app for the various Apple devices. The art book, which will be available until May 31, contains contributions from 40 artists from around the world, including Chew co-creator Rob Guillory, Long Tail Kitty and Mr. Elephanter creator Lark Pien, muralist Sirron Norris and Skullkickers co-creator Jim Zubkavich.
According to the press release, each of the 40 artists participating in the anthology used Autodesk SketchBook digital paint and drawing software applications in some way to create original pieces for the anthology. Selections from it will also be exhibited at the Autodesk annual user conference, Autodesk University, taking place at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1. Access to the exhibit is free to the public.
You can find a list of all the contributors after the jump.
Most webcomics creators figure that once they have put up their comic in a free format that is accessible to everybody, they have done their bit. Jim Zubkavich is taking it another step: He just posted a PDF/CBZ version of the first chapter of his webcomic Makeshift Miracle, and he is inviting readers to spread it far and wide:
Download the torrent file, pass it around, re-seed as much as possible and convince your online friends to try it out, absolutely free. Once they’ve read chapter 1, they can come back here to continue the story with chapter 2.
While webcomics creators often promote their work on Twitter and in online forums, Zubkavich is taking it to another channel altogether. Torrenters have their own community, and getting noticed there will bring him new readers; he’s already getting some love on Scans Daily, which is probably not his usual audience. Beyond that, reading an entire issue of a comic at once is a different experience from reading an online comic that updates a couple of times a week. A lot of readers want to sit down and read a whole chapter at a time, and Jim is giving them that option. And if they like it, they can share it with their friends.
Piracy is a double-edged sword; it reduces sales of the comics that are passed around via BitTorrent, but it also brings in new readers. Balancing one effect against the other is a lot easier when you are giving the comic away for free to begin with. Obviously, Jim wants to drive traffic to his site, and ultimately he will be publishing a print edition of Makeshift Miracle that won’t be given away for free. And that will be the results phase of the experiment, when we see if his generosity now pays off in strong sales when the book is published.
Jim Zubkavich, the writer of Skullkickers and an editor at comics publisher UDON Entertainment, relaunched his webcomic Makeshift Miracle a few weeks ago with a revised story and new art. I interviewed Jim about the comic back then, but the artist, Shun Hong Chan, is from Hong Kong and doesn’t speak English.
Jim solved that problem by interviewing Hong himself with his boss, Erik Ko, who also speaks Chinese, acting as translator. He offered to share the interview with Robot 6 readers along with some exclusive teaser art—how could we say no? I was particularly intrigued by Hong’s description of how comics artists work in Hong Kong—it sounds like an assembly-line version of an Exquisite Corpse.
Jim: It’s been a thrill working with you on Makeshift and I’m excited to give readers a better idea of who you are and the passion you bring to your work. Can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers? Where were you born? When did you join the comic industry and what are some of your past creations?
Created by Jim Zubkavich and Edwin Huang, the hit comic is described by the writer as “a sarcastically self-aware sword & sorcery action-comedy series starring two monster-mashing mercenaries who will do whatever it takes to get paid.”
Munchkin is a line of popular card games that take a humorous approach to traditional roleplaying games — its slogan is “kill the monster, steal the treasure, stab your buddy” — based on the concept of “munchkins,” immature players whose aim is simply to “win.”
A Munchkin game based on Axe Cop, the webcomic by Malachai Nicolle and Ethan Nicolle, was announced in March for a fall release.
Jim Zubkavich is a busy guy these days. The Skullkickers writer has just relaunched his webcomic Makeshift Miracle with a new storyline and a new artist, and last week he announced a project with a very different tone: A comic based on the soon-to-be-released Mafia Wars 2 game, illustrated by Omar Dogan.
Mafia Wars 2 is a Facebook game, and here’s the rub: To read the comic you have to not only “Like” Mafia Wars 2 on Facebook but also allow MW2 to have access to your profile. Which, if you’re already involved with the game, shouldn’t be a problem, but it still skeeves me out a bit. So I didn’t take that last step.
Game comics are not usually my thing, but I enjoyed Zubkavich and Dogan’s previous collaboration, Street Fighter Legends: Ibuki, and I’d like to check this one out. I get the logic that the way to promote a Facebook game is on Facebook, but making the game accessible only from the app greatly reduces its effectiveness as a way to bring new people in. Still, if you’re already there, it’s probably worth checking out. As for me, I’m just going to check out the newest page of Makeshift Miracle, because even without Facebook apps, there’s plenty of Zub to go around.
Creators | Eighty-four-year-old artist Albert Uderzo, who created Asterix the Gaul in 1959 with writer René Goscinny, has announced he’s retiring, saying he’s “a bit tired” after 52 years of drawing. The news came as publisher Hachette celebrated the sale of 350 million Asterix books worldwide. Uderzo, who took over writing after the death of Goscinny in 1977, said he has found an as-yet-unnamed successor to continue his legacy, beginning with a new book planned for release in late 2012. [Reuters, BBC News]
Passings | Italian comics writer and publisher Sergio Bonelli, whose company Sergio Bonelli Editore (formerly CEPIM) releases such titles as Dylan Dog and Nathan Never, passed away Monday in Milan. He was 79. [UPI]
Legal | A witness testified Monday in Michael George’s murder trial that she heard the defendant and his first wife Barbara George have a particularly heated argument in their Clinton Township, Michigan, comic store on July 13, 1990, only hours before Barbara was shot and killed. [Detroit Free Press]
After a week of teasers, Jim Zubkavich launches his new webcomic Makeshift Miracle today. If you’re getting a feeling of deja vu, it’s because Jim first published Makeshift Miracle online, and it has been through several different versions already. Now he is relaunching it with new art, by Shun Hong Chan, and a revised story; it will be serialized for free and then published in print form by UDON Entertainment next year. Jim’s Skullkickers was a big success last year, but Makeshift Miracle is a very different story. Jim told us all about it — and shared an advance look at the art as well.
Robot 6: For those of us who weren’t reading webcomics in 2001, can you briefly summarize what this comic is about?
Jim Zubkavich: Makeshift Miracle is the story of Colby Reynolds, a teenage boy on his own for the first time in his life. He’s exploring independence, trying to figure himself out, and then he encounters something that will change everything he knows about dreams, desires and his future.
It’s a surreal coming-of-age story. Part Sandman, part Stand By Me with some Miyazaki-esque visuals thrown in for good measure.