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What Are You Reading? with Salgood Sam

Tale of Sand

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our guest is Salgood Sam, who has just relaunched his independent personal anthology series Revolver. He is also completing the last chapter of a graphic novel called Dream Life after a successful Indiegogo funding drive to finance it. He also publishes the Canadian-centric comics blog Sequential. As he told me, he “usually has too many projects going on and does not get enough sleep.”

To see what Salgood Sam and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …

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Look at these jam pieces by Joe Kubert and many, many others

As the comics community continues to process the news of Joe Kubert’s death, everything else feels very secondary. One way of honoring the legendary artist and teacher is by appreciating his art, and the art of his peers. Steve Niles discovered this series of art jams featuring a Kubert Hawkman alongside Wendy Pini’s Elfquest characters, Neal Adams’ Conan, Dave Cockrum’s Human Torch, and others. The rest of the jams include characters drawn by C.C. Beck, John Romita, John Byrne, George Perez, Gray Morrow, Dave Sim, Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko, Curt Swan, Jim Aparo, Milton Caniff, Hal Foster, Al Williamson, Chester Gould, and the list goes on and on.

I don’t know the history behind these pieces, but it occurs to me that many of these comics legends are still with us. In addition to saying our good-byes to Mr. Kubert and offering appreciations of his work, another great way to honor his legacy might be to reach out and express similar appreciation to living creators whose work we love.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Used universes

Scott Lobdell, are you listening?

We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of the New 52, and I anticipate doing the usual examinations of what worked and what didn’t. Until then, however, this preliminary post will try to organize my general impressions.

I have tried to keep an open mind about the various changes, but apparently I keep coming back to the New 52-niverse’s lack of meaningful fictional history. Much of this comes from the five-year timeline, but a good bit of it is due to storytelling styles. While origin stories can generate a nominal setting, including a regular supporting cast, many of the New-52 books held off for various reasons — like readers pretty much knowing the origins at the outset — and with today’s practical concerns, many books spent their first 12 issues on extended arcs.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been talking about this as a function of “idea generation,” but I think it is a more elemental concept. Specifically, it seems like I have been conditioned to expect a certain amount of continuity in a modern shared universe. Furthermore (and more troubling), I suspect the simple acknowledgment of preexisting continuity helps mitigate whatever weaknesses may exist in the stories themselves.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Jamie S. Rich

It Girl & the Atomics #1

I look forward to a day when there’s no substantial imbalance between the number of successful male characters/creators and successful female characters/creators in comics. When I get a chance to talk about a book with a female lead, I make sure to discuss that very aspect. I was clearly not thinking of who I was asking when I interviewed Jamie S. Rich, writer of the new Image ongoing series launching Wednesday, It Girl & the Atomics. As Rich was quick to remind me, earlier in his comics career as an editor he consistently “hired women all the time and published comics that showcased their point of view”. An equally interesting aspect of the project we discuss is being the writer who crafts Mike Allred/Madman universe tales (without Madman) but with Allred’s support and trust (a hell of a compliment/endorsement in and of itself). In addition to reading this interview, please be sure to garner additional insight from CBR’s TJ Dietsch’s July interview with Rich.

To mark this Wednesday’s launch of the series, Rich will be visiting three different hometown comic book stores to sign comics and chat with customers. The three shops where he will be sign It Girl & the Atomics 1 ($2.99) are Floating World Comics (from approximately 2 pm to 3:30 pm) at 400 NW Couch, Bridge City Comics (4 pm to 5 pm) at 3725 N. Mississippi, and Cosmic Monkey Comics (from 6 pm to 7 pm) at 5335 NE Sandy.

Tim O’Shea: It Girl and the Atomics is a book that captures the Madman universe (without Madman, as he left the world for space at the end of his own series). How well does it speak of Mike Allred’s world-building/writing skills that you are able to create a series in Madman’s world, but without Madman?

Jamie S. Rich: That was really the experiment. Madman has such a gravitational pull, particularly for Mike as an artist, that he really has a tendency to dominate. Yet, the Atomics are a team, and in any successful team, all the players are there for a reason. So, when it’s their turn in the spotlight, they are just as capable, they are ready to take that stage.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Who won the ‘80s?

Where the over-people gather to watch big-screen botanical throwdowns

A couple of weeks ago, I wondered whether we could trace the entire sidekick-derived wing of DC’s superhero-comics history back to Bill Finger. Today I’m less interested in revisiting that question — although I will say Robin the Boy Wonder also owes a good bit to Jerry Robinson and Bob Kane — than using it as an example.

Specifically, this week’s question has nagged me for several years (going back to my TrekBBS days, even), and it is this: as between Alan Moore and the duo of Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, who has been a bigger influence on DC’s superhero books?

As the post title suggests, we might reframe this as “who won the ‘80s,” since all three men came to prominence at DC in that decade. Wolfman and Pérez’s New Teen Titans kicked off with a 16-page story in DC Comics Presents #26 (cover-dated October 1980), with the series’ first issue following the next month. Moore’s run on (Saga of the) Swamp Thing started with January 1984’s issue #20, although the real meat of his work started with the seminal issue #21. Wolfman and Pérez’s Titans collaboration lasted a little over four years, through February 1985’s Tales of the Teen Titans #50 and New Teen Titans vol. 2 #5. Moore wrote Swamp Thing through September 1987’s #64, and along the way found time in 1986-87 for a little-remembered twelve-issue series called Watchmen. After their final Titans issues, Wolfman and Pérez also produced a 12-issue niche-appeal series of their own, 1984-85’s Crisis On Infinite Earths.* The trio even had some common denominators: Len Wein edited both Titans and Watchmen (and Barbara Randall eventually succeeded him on both), and Gar Logan’s adopted dad Steve Dayton was friends with John Constantine.

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Comics A.M. | ‘Death of Phoenix’ page fetches $65,000 at auction

From Uncanny X-Men #137

Comics | An original page by John Byrne and Terry Austin from Uncanny X-Men #137, the 1980 issue that featured the death of Phoenix, sold at auction Wednesday for $65,725. As ICv2 notes, the sale continues the trend of 1980s comic art going for high prices; a page of Frank Miller art from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #3 sold for $448,125 in May. [ICv2.com]

Digital | ICv2’s Milton Griepp makes the case for publishers to provide sales information on digital comics. “Why would this information be useful? There are a number of reasons. One is that it would help distributors (most importantly, Diamond Comic Distributors) and retailers selling physical comics and graphic novels identify which titles have the largest audiences in digital form. They could then make sure that they’re merchandising the top digital titles appropriately, so they can take advantage of demand for physical titles that results from digital exposure (we’ve been hearing that there’s a significant phenomenon of digital purchasers looking for collections of comics they’ve purchased online). Digital demand can also indicate potential demand for physical books from consumers that aren’t purchasing digitally; a good book, after all, is a good book, and if digital purchasers are finding a title that’s not as popular in physical form, it may indicate that there’s an untapped market of consumers of physical books as well.” [ICv2.com]

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Food or Comics? | Point One, Silver Star, Tezuka and more

Point One

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.

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d first get the third issue of my favorite New 52 title, Batwoman #3 (DC, $2.99). Seriously, J.H. Williams III is hitting a home run on every outing here when it comes to my tastes. Although the writing isn’t up to the level of Greg Rucka’s time on the book, it’s close and only bound to get better. Next up I’d get Point One #1 (Marvel, $5.99). I think this format–an extra-size preview book for what’s coming next–is an interesting experiment, and I’m intrigued most by the Nova story, but also interested to see what the others do. Third would be Uncanny X-Force #17 (Marvel, $3.99), to get the one-two punch of Rick Remender and Jerome Opena. Iceman as a bad guy? I dig this.

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Food or Comics? | Rub-A-Dub-Dub, Batman in a tub

Batman #2

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.

Michael May

If I had $15, I’d mostly grab the second issues of some DC stuff I enjoyed last month: Batman ($2.99), Birds of Prey ($2.99), and especially Wonder Woman ($2.99). No Justice League for me though. Unlike Action Comics, I didn’t enjoy the first issue enough that I can rationalize paying $4 for it. Instead, I’ll grab Avengers 1959 #2 ($2.99) and Red 5’s Bonnie Lass #2 ($2.95), both of which had strong first issues.

If I had $30, I’d have to put back Bonnie Lass and wait for the collection in order to afford Jonathan Case’s atomic-sea-monster-love-story Dear Creature ($15.99).

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Five talents I’d like to see on projects for Marvel and DC

Although mainstream comic publishing is built on characters and brand names, the importance of creators has been one of the keys to its success. Since the early 1990s, talented creators have served as fonts of ideas as well as big draws for sales. And with the competition between DC and Marvel reaching to new heights in the build-up to “The New 52,” comic creators are being snapped up left and right into exclusive agreements and put to work. But amidst all of this, there remains a number of talents that haven’t been drafted. They might simply prefer to work on their own outside the Big Two or are just waiting for the right offer. I’m going to list creators who could make a big difference if they chose to go to Marvel or DC.

Let me preface this to say that I’m avoiding mentioning some creators due to the fact that they’re generally considered as not looking for work from Marvel or DC. I’m talking about creators like Alan Moore, Brian K. Vaughn, Robert Kirkman, Mike Mignola, Joss Whedon and the like.

Joe Hill: Joe Hill is many things to many people. For comics readers he’s the co-creator of the IDW epic Locke & Key; for novel readers he’s the writer of Horns and Heart-Shaped Box; for Stephen King, he’s his son. With all of that, Joe Hill could be a potent force if DC or Marvel would choose to go the lengths to get him on board. Hill is no stranger to super-heroes; he wrote a story for Marvel’s Spider-Man Unlimited years ago, and did the recent series The Cape for IDW. Imagine him in the city limits of Gotham or perhaps showing up in Marvel’s version of Hell’s Kitchen.

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Previews: What Looks Good for October

Spera, Volume 1

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes, and first issues so that I don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “Jeff Lemire’s Frankenstein is still awesome!” every month. And I’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.

Also, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell me what I missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.

Archaia

The Grave Doug Freshley – A lot of publishers are doing Weird Western comics lately and that’s just fine with me.

Spera, Volume 1 – I like the sound of this fairy tale in which a couple of princesses combine efforts to save their kingdoms. It’s not that I’m anti-prince, but that’s a cool, new way to do that story.

Avatar

Captain Swing and the Electrical Pirates of Cindery Island – Warren Ellis doing Steampunk sounds thrilling, but really all they had to say was “pirates.” I bet this is still really good though, even if you’re pickier than I am.

Boom!

Roger Langridge’s Snarked #1 – After a well-loved zero-issue, Langridge’s version of Wonderland gets its real, official start.

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John Byrne working on new ‘period piece’ comic Cold War

Cold War

John Byrne, creator of Next Men, is working on his first all-new comic series in more than a decade, according to an Associated Press story.

Matt Moore reports that Byrne, who worked on Uncanny X-Men, Fantastic Four, Alpha Flight, Amazing Spider-Man, Superman and many other titles back in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, is writing and drawing a new “period piece” called Cold War. Published by IDW, the series stars former MI6 agent-turned-freelancer Michael Swann. The first issue involves Swann attempting to stop a British scientist from defecting to the Soviet Union.

“He operates on a freelance basis, and occasionally his former bosses call upon him to handle something that is perhaps a bit too messy for Her Majesty’s Government to be involved” with, Byrne told the Associated Press. “So he knows that when he is called upon, things have reached some dire straits. His response to this is usually very straightforward and brutal.”

Byrne shared a few more details on his forums: “Altho set in the early days of the Cold War, this is NOT going to be a history book. I am playing quite freely with the order in which things happened in the real world. And I will not be tying Swann’s exploits to any specific year or sequence of years. Those with an awareness of the history of this period may spot a few landmarks — one in most particular plays an important part as a sub-thread to my overall tale — but no reason to start checking the History Channel in order to be able to follow what’s going on in this series!”

Comics A.M. | Comics fall short of 100K mark; tribute to Kirby from his son

Flashpoint #1

Publishing | Despite the debut of DC Comics’ Flashpoint and the release of the second issue of Marvel’s Fear Itself — big summer events for both publishers — no comic sold more than 100,000 copies in the direct market in May. Fear Itself #2 led Diamond Comic Distributors’ list of Top 300 comics with an estimated 96,318 copies, a decline of some 32,000 copies from its first issue. But it’s the debut of Flashpoint in the No. 2 slot, with an estimated 86,981 copies, that ICv2 says “has to be considered disappointing.” However, the retail news and analysis website is quick to point out that several stores have indicated they sold out of their initial orders of the book, suggesting it may have been under-ordered by event-wary retailers. ICv2 also notes a 17.3 percent drop in the Top 300 comics before explaining the situation isn’t as grim as that figure may suggest. However, it cautions, the same can’t be said for the graphic novel category, which was down just 6.2 percent from May 2010 — a month in which no title sold more than 5,000 copies. John Jackson Miller has further analysis. [ICv2.com]

Jack Kirby

Creators | In a piece titled “Happy Father’s Day; Glad You’re Not Here,” Neal Kirby pays tribute to his father, the late Jack Kirby, in the process exposing some of the bitterness over the way the comics legend has been credited in recent movie adaptations: “If [you’re] unfamiliar with the comics industry, and just enjoy super-hero movies, you will notice my fathers’ name on some screen credits, usually buried at the end of the movie; sometimes, as in the recent Thor release, coming third after someone who had no hand in the characters’ creation other than being the editor-in-chief’s brother. Unfortunately, for the past several years, some in the comics industry who have had the benefit of longevity have used the opportunity to claim to be the sole creator of all of Marvels’ characters. Must be great to be the last man standing. It would seem that being backed by the public relations department of a large corporation buys access into the 24/7 news cycle.” [CO2 Comics Blog]

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

John Byrne's Next Men

Welcome once again to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy based on certain spending limits — $15, $30 to spend and if we had extra money to spend on what we call the “Splurge” item. Check out Diamond’s release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Michael May

If I had $15:

There are a lot of great periodicals coming out this week, so I’d have some hard choices to make. With only $15, I’d concentrate first on those with the cheapest prices: the first issue of Dark Horse’s new Mighty Samson ($3.50), Atomic Robo and the Deadly Art of Science #2 ($3.50), and Mouse Guard: Black Axe #1 ($3.50). I’m already a huge fan of both Atomic Robo and Mouse Guard and – based on its concept and vague memories of stories I read as a kid – hope to become one of Mighty Samson too. I’d spend the last of my money on Northern Guard #1, because I’m a sucker for Canadian superheroes.

If I had $30:

I’d add Doc Macabre #1 ($3.99), John Byrne’s Next Men #1 ($3.99), and Strange Tales 2 #3 ($4.99). “Doc Macabre” is an awesome name and I love Steve Niles’ pulp stuff, I’ve been waiting 16 years for that Next Men issue, and the Strange Tales book has a Kate Beaton story in which the Avengers go to a carnival. I’d pay five bucks just for Beaton’s deal, but it’s also got a Thing tale by Harvey Pekar (and yes, Harvey Pekar is in the story).

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In another lifetime, Kittyhawk led the New Mutants

Letters of Note, a blog that posts letters related to history and pop culture, shares a letter from John Byrne to Chris Claremont on the creation of Kitty Pryde. In the letter, which is now owned by Jonathan Mueller, Byrne provides not only an illustration but powers, potential codenames (including Sprite and Ariel, both of which were eventually used, and Kittyhawk, which wasn’t) and the suggestion that she be on a second team of “X-Men in training.”

Via

Better than a motion comic: J. Torres fan film

YouTube user haiku132 created a short, sweet fan film from J. Torres and Tim Levins’s short comic How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love John Byrne. It’s simple pan-and-scan, but the music and pacing are just right. Take two minutes to enjoy it.

(via J. Torres’s blog)


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