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Comics A.M. | Digital comics’ ‘era of experimentation’

Madefire

Madefire

Digital comics | Jason Snell uses Comic-Con International as an opportunity to take a snapshot of digital comics in “an era of experimentation,” and hones in on Madefire, the convention’s embrace of technology, comiXology and the growing popularity of the digital-first model. “Digital has made us rethink how we fulfill books into the [print] retail market,” Chris Ross, Top Shelf’s director of digital publishing, said during a panel. [TechHive]

Legal | The Attorney-Generals Chambers of Singapore has charged cartoonist Leslie Chew (the pen name of Chew Peng Ee) with contempt of court because of four cartoons posted on his Facebook page Demon-cratic Singapore. A hearing on the charges, which could result in jail time and fines, will be held on Aug. 12. Chew’s attorney M. Ravi said in a phone interview, “Our judiciary is not like fragile flowers to be offended easily by such criticism. We have full faith in the impartiality and independence of our judiciary.” [Bloomberg News]

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SDCC ’13 | A roundup of pre-convention news

robotech-voltronPreview Night doesn’t begin for another 11 hours, but judging from the flurry of announcements, Comic-Con International has been well under way since, oh, about Monday. So, if it feels like you’re already falling behind, that’s because you probably are.

To help you catch up, we’ve rounded up early news from DC Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Madefire and Marvel, along with a few other convention-related items.

• Dynamite Entertainment came out of the gate running this week with news that Steve Niles and Dennis Calero will reboot Army of Darkness, James Robinson will launch his crime romance Grand Passion, the Legends of Red Sonja miniseries will team Gail Simone with an all-female creative team that includes Marjorie M. Liu, Nancy A. Collins, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Mercedes Lackey, Nicola Scott and Devin Grayson, Peter Milligan will debut his sci-fi action series Terminal Hero, Duane Swiercyznski will expand the publisher’s crime line with Ex-Con, Howard Chaykin will return to The Shadow with the miniseries Midnight in Moscow, NBC’s Heroes will get a “fifth season” in a series written by Cullen Bunn, the acquisition of the Robotech license spawns a Robotech/Voltron crossover, and The Heart of the Beast, the graphic novel by Dean Motter, Judith Dupré and Sean Phillips, will receive a 20th-anniversary prestige-format edition.

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Amazon expands into comics publishing with Jet City imprint

jet-city-comicsFollowing its move into fan-fiction publishing with Kindle Worlds, Amazon entered the comic-book arena with Jet City Comics, an imprint that launches today with the debut of Symposium, a new digital series by Christian Cameron and Dmitry Bondarenko set in the “Foreworld” universe created by Neal Stephenson and others.

That will be followed in October by adaptations of George R.R. Martin’s short story “Meathouse Man,” illustrated by Raya Golden, and Hugh Howey’s dystopian novel Wool, written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, and illustrated Jimmy Broxton, Jet City will serialize its comics for the Kindle, and then offer bundled digital editions and print collections.

In addition to those launch titles, the imprint will re-release The Hedge Knight, by Ben Avery and Mike S. Miller, a prequel set in the world of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, in print and digital formats in November and its sequel The Sword Sword in early 2014.“My fans have been clamoring for the return of Dunk & Egg ever since the graphic novels of The Hedge Knight and The Sworn Sword went out of print several years ago,” Martin said in a statement, “so I am delighted to announce that Jet City Comics is bringing them back — newly formatted for digital readers, and in paper for those who still prefer the traditional formats. And Jet City will be bringing you something new as well: the graphic novel ‘Meathouse Man,’ adapted from one of my strangest, darkest, and most twisted short stories by the amazingly talented Raya Golden. I’m pleased and excited to be a part of Jet City’s takeoff. May they fly high.”

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Quote of the Day | ‘Let them do what they do best’

jimmy palmiotti

“The trick to getting the best work from your talent is to let them do what they do best, give them room to breathe and to make sure you encourage their ideas, not squash them.”

Jimmy Palmiotti, on his Facebook page, offering advice to publishers in dealing with creators. In addition to writing such titles as All-Star Western, Batwing and The Human Bomb for DC, he also co-founded and edited the Marvel Knights line with Joe Quesada.

What Are You Reading? with Tim Lattie

from Phonogram: The Singles Club

Welcome to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew shares their picks for who we think should play a young Han Solo. Of course, we unanimously chose Nathan Fillion, so instead we’ll talk about what comics we’ve been reading. Joining us today is special guest Tim Lattie, the creator of Night Stars. Tim is currently running a Kickstarter to raise funds to publish it, so head over there and check it out.

To see what Tim and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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Women of Action | Ame-Comi Girls

Amanda Conner's Wonder Woman

When DC Comics announced it was launching a series based on its popular Ame-Comi line of figures, I don’t think I heard a single person say, “Yes! I was hoping for that!” The Ame-Comi collectibles can be imaginative and attractive (some more than others), but no one was clamoring for a series that sexualized DC’s superheroines even more overtly than they already are. In fact, the most common responses were either head-scratching or eye-rolling, depending on how much the person thought DC has legitimately tried to reach out to female readers lately. But then the creators were announced.

Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray write the series and Amanda Conner drew the first couple of installments, which were serialized digitally first, 10 pages at a time. Putting the creators of the well-regarded Power Girl series on Ame-Comi Girls was a smart move and convinced a lot of readers who otherwise would have dismissed the comic – including me – to give it at least an initial look.

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Women of Action | Phantom Lady

Enough time has passed since the release of Phantom Lady, by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Cat Staggs, that I wasn’t sure I should still write about it as part of the Women of Action series. However, think it continues to be worth thinking about for a couple of reasons: First, despite it being a miniseries from last autumn, it’s part of a continuing event that’s still playing out in the DC Universe (namely, the gradual introduction of the New 52 Freedom Fighters). Second, it’s pretty good. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

I have fond memories of a couple of Freedom Fighter comics (or possibly, appearances of the team in other people’s comics) as a kid, but I don’t know a lot about the group and didn’t read the most recent series before DC shut it down to make way for Flashpoint and the New 52. I’m familiar with Phantom Lady mostly through the character’s affiliation with Matt Baker, one of my favorite artists, and I know about Doll Man (who gets his name on the cover, if not in the official indicia), primarily thanks to Craig Yoe’s old Doll Man Monday feature on the Super I.T.C.H. website. In other words, I needed an introduction.

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Food or Comics? | Black beans or Black Beetle

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.

Black Beetle: No Way Out #1

J.K. Parkin

If I had $15, I’d start with Black Beetle #1 (Dark Horse, $3.99), Francesco Francavilla’s pulp action hero who jumps into his own miniseries after a run in Dark Horse Presents. I’d also grab Threshold #1 (DC Comics, $2.99), which continues the story from last week’s New Guardians annual, featuring a new Green Lantern and a whole bunch of cosmic DC characters. I’d also grab Comeback #3 (Image, $3.50), as I just got around to reading the first issue and really enjoyed it. They’re doing some fun stuff with time travel that should make for a cool series. That leaves room for one more, which is a hard choice … but let’s go with Indestructible Hulk #3 (Marvel, $3.99), because I love the new direction and take on the character and his status quo.

If I had $30, I’d also pick up Saga #9 (Image, $2.99) and Daredevil #22 ($2.99), because, well, Saga and Daredevil. I’m also really digging what Kelly Sue Deconnick is doing with the Avengers, so next I’d get Avengers Assemble #11 (Marvel, $3.99). Lastly, I’d grab Captain America #3 (Marvel, $3.99), as I’m really worried about Cap and the kid, and hope they come out of Zola’s world OK.

Finally, for my spulrge, I’d go with the big Paul Pope book from Image, One Trick Rip-Off ($29.99).

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Looking Forward, Looking Back | Creators weigh in on 2012 and 2013 (Part 2)

Uncanny X-Force #1

It’s become an annual tradition during our birthday bash: No matter how much stuff we line up, people we interview, etc., there are still tons of people 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 liked in 2012 and what they are excited about for 2013.

Check out Part One, and keep reading to see more of what people shared with us, including details on their upcoming projects. Our thanks to everyone who responded this year. Also, thanks again to Tim O’Shea, Michael May and Chris Arrant, who helped collect responses.

SAM HUMPHRIES (The Ultimates, Sacrifice, Uncanny X-Force)

What was your favorite comic of 2012?

Two webcomics:

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Rest in peace, Creator-Owned Heroes

Creator-Owned Heroes #8

Well, crap.

Jimmy Palmiotti has confirmed that despite recently adding Darwyn Cooke as a regular contributor, Creator-Owned Heroes, the comics magazine he created with Justin Gray and Steve Niles, will be ending with next month’s Issue 8. In an interview with Bleeding Cool, Palmiotti talked about why he thinks the experiment failed:

…I don’t think there is a clean answer … People thought they were getting fewer comics in the book since there were so many articles and interviews, when in fact there was the same amount of comic pages, if not more, each month. I was told that new characters cannot work in an anthology format; I was told the names involved were not big enough, how the logo didn’t work, and how there were to many articles and so on. We took all these comments to heart and as you look at each and every issue, you see that we moved the logo, shrunk the logo, added comic pages, moved the placement, added new talent, and so on. Some very generous pros gave me advice and others told me the book would never find an audience because the Big Two companies are putting out too much product, etc. The reasons go on and on and I am sure the posts after this piece will show what each person thought killed the book.

I’m not going to try to guess why other people didn’t buy the series, but I admit that it took me a while to give Creator-Owned Heroes a chance. As I said in my review, I initially misunderstood the format and thought of it not as a magazine, but as a regular comics anthology (albeit with a ton of back-up pieces) that would read better in collected form. Once I realized that I was missing the point, I gave it a try and loved it.

Shortly after the cancellation was announced, Twitter exploded with a ton of #SaveCreatorOwnedHeroes tweets, but the magazine’s Twitter account ultimately posted,”Hey everyone, thanks for the love, but I don’t think it’s in the cards. Maybe next time. #ItWasAGoodRun”

It was a good run and Palmiotti, Gray, and Niles should all be very proud of it. I’m sorry to see it go.

Food or Comics? | Avocados or Avengers

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.

Avengers #1

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d start out with Legend of Luther Strode #1 (Image, $3.50). I was behind the times on the first series, but now I will raise my fist to the air and decree “NO MORE!” (to the stunned silence of my local comic shop owner). Justin Jordan really brought a different take on this story, but for me the sizzle on this is Tradd Moore’s art. It reminds me of Sam Keith’s middle-period during his Marvel Comics Presents Wolverine run, and that’s nothing but a good thing. After that I’d get Stumptown #4 (Oni Press, $3.99). Some might compare Dex’s journey to that of Jessica Jones in Marvel’s Alias, but it’s anything but. Greg Rucka really knows how to make a story feel more than just mere fiction. My third pick this week would be Invincible #98 (Image, $2.99), seeing Mark Grayson get his powers back – just in time to be stomped into the ground, from the looks of it. Reading this series since the first issue, I’m noticing the colorist change more and more here; John Rauch definitely is a step removed from FCO Plascencia, and I’m still getting used to it. Kirkman and Ottley are delivering here so well that Domino’s should be jealous. (ba-dum CHING!) Last up in my Wednesday haul would be Avengers #1 (Marvel, $3.99). I’ve noticed in doing Food or Comics for as long as I have how I’ll routinely follow writers but when they manage to get an artist I particularly like I’ll fall over myself trying to get to it. Case in point, this book, with Jonathan Hickman joining forces with Jerome Opeña to kick off a new era for Marvel’s flagship book. I’m all for “Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers,” but I’m even more excited to see Opeña’s take on this.

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Comics A.M. | New Booker Prize chair welcomes graphic novels

The Man Booker Prize

Awards | Following the nomination of two graphic novels for the Costa Prize, the new chairman of the Man Booker Prize said he would welcome submissions of graphic novels as well. [The Telegraph]

Passings | Former Wizard staff member Marc Wilkofsky, whose efforts on behalf of Friends of Lulu earned him their Volunteer of the Year award in 2005, has died at the age of 42. He was also an enthusiastic member of the NYC Comic Jams. [Andrew Kardon, The Beat]

Conventions | Richard Bruton files a comprehensive con report on the recent Thought Bubble festival in Leeds, England. [Forbidden Planet]

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What Are You Reading? with Tyler James

Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at the comics, books and other things we’ve been perusing of late. Our guest today is Tyler James (@tylerjamescomic), the publisher of ComixTribe, which is both an online resources for comic creators and a new creator-owned imprint. Tyler is also the writer of the superhero murder mystery The Red Ten, which goes on sale Dec. 19, and the organizer of the annual 30 Characters Challenge, in which writers and artists attempt to create 30 characters in just 30 days, one for every day in November (it’s under way now at 30characters.com).

Here’s what Tyler and the Robot 6 crew are reading this week:

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Kickstart My Art | Palmiotti and Gray’s Sex and Violence

Writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray are no strangers to creator-owned work — or using Kickstarter to get their projects off the ground. The longtime Jonah Hex scribes are once again turning to the crowd-funding site to raise funds to publish a unique split-book graphic novel called Sex and Violence. Planned as the first volume in a series, the 64-page adult graphic novel has each writer penning his own story about “crime, lust and redemption.”

In the first story “Pornland, Oregon,” Gray partners with artist Jimmy Broxton to follow a grieving grandfather who turns Portland’s Internet-porn community upside down looking for answers and revenge. The second story, by Palmiotti and longtime collaborator Juan SantaCruz, is titled “Girl in a Storm” and follows a New York City cop who becomes an unlikely voyeur when a lesbian couple moves into her neighborhood.

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Food or Comics? | Lobster or Liberty Annual

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.

CBLDF Liberty Annual 2012

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d line up to get the this year’s CBLDF Liberty Annual #5 (Image, $4.99). I’m an anthology junkie, and this hits that perfectly while also benefiting a good cause. The creator list is amazing – even without knowing who’s working with whom. After that, I’d get Happy #2 (Image, $2.99). This book’s first issue hit me harder than I expected; I was buying it for Grant Morrison to wow me with his writing, but it was Darick Robertson’s artwork that hit me square between the eyes. I’ve read all the issues of Transmetropolitan and most of The Boys, but his art here has graduated up a level and I’m almost salivating at thinking of this second issue. Third this week would be Wolverine and the X-Men #19 (Marvel, $3.99), quietly usurping Uncanny X-Force as my favorite Marvel book on the stands. Last issue’s Doop-centric theme was great for me, but I’m excited to see star pupil Nick Bradshaw back on pencils for this issue.

If I had $30, I’d double back and get Higher Earth, Vol. 1 (Boom!, $14.99) Canceled or not, this series looks interesting despite my bailing after Issue 1. It’s a complicated concept (from what I gleaned from the first issue), but I’m looking to let Humphries school me on this.

If I could splurge, I’d snatch up EC: Wally Wood – Came the Dawn and Other Stories (Fantagraphics, $28.99). I’ve been aware of Wally Wood for a almost two decades now, but I tend to go through periods of simply floating around before I consume and learn more about him in short but voracious periods. Last time it was in the bloom of Fear Agent, and seeing this in Previews a few months back got me jonesing to do it again.

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