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What Are You Reading? with Nate Powell

Big Questions

Hello and welcome once again to What Are You Reading?, where every week we talk about the comics, books and other stuff we’ve been reading lately.

Our special guest this week is musician and comic creator Nate Powell, who you might know from his most recent graphic novel, Any Empire, or the Ignatz and Eisner Award-winning Swallow Me Whole. When he’s not creating comics, he’s hanging out at the United Nations with the likes of R.L. Stine, Ann M. Martin and other teen-fiction writers in support of What You Wish For, a collection of young adult stories and poems. Proceeds from the book will be used to fund libraries in Darfuri refugee camps in Chad.

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

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Comics A.M. | Asterix co-creator retires; publisher Sergio Bonelli dies


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]

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What Are You Reading? with Kevin Colden

Animal Man #1

Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is Kevin Colden, whose comic work includes Fishtown, I Rule the Night, Vertigo’s Strange Adventures and Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper, among others. He’s also the drummer for the band Heads Up Display.

To see what Kevin and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below …

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Collect this now: The Gargoyle

So does anyone out there remember the Gargoyle?

I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t. Even in an era where every comic character is allegedly somebody’s favorite, and even though he put in a couple of appearances in various Civil War: The Initiative books, it’s not like the Gargoyle has that huge of a fan base.

(By the way, just so we’re clear, I’m not talking about this character. Or this one.)

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DC Comics unveils decade-specific logos for Retro-Active

"Retro-Active" 1980s logo

Following DC Comics’ announcement at WonderCon of its Retro-Active one-shots bringing together writers and artists from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, the publisher has unveiled the decade-specific logos for the three series.

Debuting in July, each issue of Retro-Active will feature 26 pages of new content plus 20 pages classic stories reprinted from that era, spotlighting such characters as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash and the Justice League of America.

Although DC has yet to announce all of the artists involved, the writers include Dennis O’Neil, Cary Bates, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, William Messner-Loebs, Mike W. Barr, Louise Simonson (with Jon Bogdanove on ’90s Superman), and Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis (with Kevin Maguire on ’90s Justice League).

“The way [DC Comics] put it was, look at your run back when you were doing Justice League International, find a moment there and tell an untold story,” Giffen told Comic Book Resources. “It’s one last blow-out. It’s one last hoorah for the characters.”

Check out the other two Retro-Active logos below.

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Fellow creators and fans remember Dwayne McDuffie

I’m still in shock over the sudden, tragic death of comics writer, Milestone Media co-founder and animation producer Dwayne McDuffie, as I’m sure many of his fans, friends and fellow creators are. I’ve rounded up some thoughts and memories from some of those folks, as well as a few items of note about memorials and some of his work.

  • If you’re attending the Emerald City Comicon March 4-6, they’ve announced a memorial panel remembering McDuffie that will take place Saturday at 7 p.m. in Room 4C1-2. Per writer Mark Waid, C2E2 is also planning to hold one.
  • Both Heidi MacDonald and Rich Johnston posted pages featuring the parakeet metaphor that McDuffie first introduced in Hardware #1 — a scene that, for me personally, sparked one of those lengthy late-night discussions about society, racism, politics and a whole lot of other things with my older brother. As Heidi points out, McDuffie revisited it in both X-O Manowar and at the end of the Milestone Forever two-parter, basically bookending the life of the Milestone Universe.
  • The Weekly Crisis, meanwhile, looks at a poignant page from McDuffie’s more recent Fantastic Four run.
  • The good folks at the Project: Rooftop site have declared “McDuffie Week” at their site, and have put out the call for redesigns of Static. Dean Trippe writes: “Dwayne’s work in the field of comics and animation was near-universally respected. His knowledge and understanding of the DCU heroes in particular, always meant a lot to me. He worked for Marvel, DC, founded Milestone along with Denys Cowan, Michael Davis and Derek T. Dingle, achieved more respect and admiration as a screenwriter for Justice League Unlimited and other DC animated projects, faithfully bringing the light of our heroes to the non-comics-reading public. Dwayne has left us far too soon, with too many wonderful stories left untold.”

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DeMatteis shows off Ploog’s artwork from third Abadazad book

from Abadazad: The Puppet, The Professor and the Prophet

With CrossGen titles and Disney/Pixar comics now on Marvel’s slate, isn’t it time we saw the return of J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Ploog’s Abadazad?

Sorry, just had to get that out of the way. After starting as a comic from the now defunct CrossGen, Abadazad found another life as a short-lived series of books when Disney bought CrossGen’s assets. Only two books were released in the United States, while a third found it’s way to England … and over on his blog, DeMatteis has posted some of Ploog and colorist Nick Bell’s artwork that appeared in it.

Really great stuff, and it’s a shame it didn’t have a wider audience. But maybe one day DeMatteis and Ploog will have a chance to return to the world they created.

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


Publishing | Veteran writer J.M. DeMatteis has resigned as editor-in-chief of Ardden Entertainment, fledgling publisher of Flash Gordon and partner in the planned revival of Atlas Comics. DeMatteis, who joined Ardden in February 2008, cited creative differences with Co-Publishers Brendan Deneen and Rich Emms. Deneen has assumed the role of editor-in-chief. [J.M. DeMatteis’ blog]

Comic strips | Non Sequitur cartoonist Wiley Miller comments on the decision by more than 20 newspapers to replace the Oct. 3 installment of his strip because it mentioned the Prophet Muhammad: “[Editors] didn’t see the satire was on them, of being petrified to run anything related to him. But this whole thing has just gotten so silly over the years. It’s something I can’t lay off. It’s my job as a satirist to point out the stupidity in the world. And the editors fell right in line with proving how stupid it is.” Andrew Alexander, ombudsman for The Washington Post, criticized his newspaper for pulling the strip. [Fox News]

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Quote of the day | J.M. DeMatteis on Peter Parker as Everyman

Web of Spider-Man #32

“Peter Parker is perhaps the most emotionally and psychologically authentic protagonist in any super-hero universe. Underneath that mask, he’s as confused, as flawed, as touchingly human, as the people who read — and write — about him:  the quintessential Everyman. And that Everyman’s love for his new wife, for the new life they were building together, was the emotional fuel that ignited the story. It was Mary Jane’s presence, her heart and soul, that reached down into the deeps of Peter’s heart and soul, forcing him up out of that coffin, out of the grave, into the light.”

– writer J.M. DeMatteis, reflecting on the creation of the acclaimed 1987 Spider-Man crossover “Kraven’s Last Hunt”

Thin wallets, fat bookshelves | A roundup of publishing news and notes

Impossible Incorporated

Impossible Incorporated

Teaser | J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Cavallaro, who worked together on The Life and Times of Savior 28, have a new project called Impossible Incorporated in the works.

Graphic novels | Rick Veitch, Ramona Fradon, Michael Netzer and Terry Beatty are providing art for The Adventures of the Unemployed Man by Gan Golan and Erich Origen (Goodnight Bush). “Here they’ve written a retro romp that interprets the current global financial imbroglio into classic deadpan superhero shtick,” Veitch writes on his blog. “The writing is quite well done and had me laughing out loud when I first read the script.” The book is due out this fall from Little, Brown and Company.

Prose | Robert Kirkman will have a short story in the upcoming zombie-themed Living Dead 2 from Night Shade Books.

History | DC Comics is working with TASCHEN Books on “an ultra-comprehensive, extra large book so impressive, even super heroes may have trouble lifting it,” according to DC’s The Source blog. 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking will feature more than 1,500 images and essays on the company written by former DC Comics Publisher Paul Levitz.

Comic books | Blackline Comics will publish Assassin & Son: Path of Vengeance, a comic written by the WWE’s Shad Gaspard and Mark Copani. Gaspard used to be part of the tag team Cryme Tyme, while Copani wrestled under the name Muhammad Hassan a few years back and was part of quite the controversy on Smackdown.

Adaptations | Pre-order the upcoming Xbox 360 game Singularity from Amazon, and you’ll receive the Singularity graphic novel, which features the work of Tom Mandrake, among others.

Giffen, Winick team on Justice League: Generation Lost

Justice League: Generation Lost

Justice League: Generation Lost by Tony Harris

DC Comics announced on The Source this morning that Keith Giffen and Judd Winick will team to write Justice League: Generation Lost, a 26-issue bi-weekly series featuring many of the characters from Giffen’s classic run on Justice League back in the late 1980s.

The two writers spoke with Vaneta Rogers over at Newsarama about the project, where Giffen addressed why his JLI co-conspirator, J.M. DeMatteis, isn’t working on it.

“Because Marc and I – along with artist Chris Batista – are taking over Booster Gold, that’s why. And yes, it’s exactly what you think it is,” he said.

According to Giffen, the new bi-weekly series will feature Captain Atom, Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Fire, Ice and Rocket Red, among others. Check out the interview over at Newsarama for more details.

J.M. DeMatteis on the end of Abadazad, new novel series



It’s been five years since Disney bought up the assets of CrossGen, the defunct comics publisher behind such titles as Ruse, Sojourn and Abadazad. It was that last property, by J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Ploog, that Disney seemed the most interested in, and a series of children’s books published by Disney’s Hyperion soon followed. So whatever happened to Abadazad?

DeMatteis recently posted two different posts on his blog that answer that question; first, he details the book’s rise from an idea to being a big reason why Disney wanted the CrossGen properties, and in a second post he explain that that personnel changes at Hyperion and disappointing sales led to the end of the road for Abadazad. But the cancellation was the springboard for another idea:

That concept smacked me across the face, grabbed me by the throat and dragged me out of my bed and into my office, where I found myself typing furiously, outlining the tale of a twelve year old girl—Mehera Crosby—whose life is upended when her favorite book series is canceled; upended even more when she discovers that the characters she so loves are alive, trapped in a strange and deadly limbo—and it’s up to her to rescue them. I called the story Mundus Imaginalis and writing that outline totally dissolved my foul mood.

The title was shortened to Imaginalis, and the first one in the planned series is due next June; go check out both his posts for a lot more detail; it’s interesting reading. So will young Mehera end up saving Kate and Matt Jameson? I guess we’ll find out then.

Six by 6 | Six comics that made us laugh out loud

dr13coverA couple of weeks ago Chris Mautner and I listed the six comics that made us cry. You guys responded with more than 160 comments filled with memories of comics that brought you to tears as well. It was very cool and kind of overwhelming to see that many people open up like that, so from both of us, thank you.

One commenter, cinorjer, suggested we name “six comics that made us laugh out loud.” Which we thought was a great idea — thanks, cinorjer! — so wipe away your tears and get ready to exercise your funnybone.

Joining Chris and I this week is Tom Bondurant, who was quick to come back with an example when I asked for suggestions. So let’s make with the ha ha’s and get down to it … and please share your own favorites in the comments section.

1. “What am I s’posed to do with a whole dollar!?”

I laughed aloud at much of Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s “Architecture & Mortality” storyline from the recent Tales of the Unexpected miniseries. There were the Primate Patrol’s obvious (but well-executed) Planet of the Apes references; Traci 13’s “paper covers rock” spell; and the part where Infectious Lass says she’ll never know the touch of a man, about which I … Vampire! observes “perhaps if you changed your name….”

However, I particularly liked Dr. 13’s first real meeting with Genius Jones, the smartest little boy in the world. He’ll answer any question for a dime, but he won’t deal with Dr. 13 — because the Doc only has a dollar bill. “What am I s’posed to do with a whole dollar!?” Genius wonders.

“Tell you what — I have ten questions,” Dr. 13 responds.

“Do you have ten dimes?”

Eyes practically bulging out of his glasses, and beads of sweat leaping off his forehead, Dr. 13 spits, “I have a DOLLAR!”

It goes on like that for another few panels, until the head of the Primate Patrol bursts in: “How ’bout I geev you a nickel saun’wich?” And … scene!

Tom Bondurant

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The ‘mettle’ of a man: ‘Metal Men’ preview

Metal Men

Metal Men

I was pretty excited to hear that the Justice League International team supreme of Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire were reuniting to do a ‘Metal Men’ back-up feature in the upcoming Doom Patrol series by Giffen and artist Matthew Clark … and now seeing a preview of Maguire’s work whets my appetite to see more.

And let’s not forget that they’re also appearing in DC’s Wednesday Comics series, with art by some other legendary creators, José Luis García-López and Kevin Nowlan. It’s going to be a good year for the six (seven?) elemental robots this year.

NYCC | Putting the band back together

Metal Men

Metal Men

Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire are back together again. As announced at the DC Universe panel at the New York Comic Con, the three will reunite for a “Metal Men” back-up in Giffen’s new Doom Patrol book. Can I get a “Wohoo?” How about a “Bwahaha?”

(Note: artwork above by JG Jones, who draws a pretty good Metal Men himself).

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