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As a kid, I was a DC and Marvel junkie. In fact well into my 30s I was still very much all about the two main publishers, in retrospect much to my shame. If you look at most of my ROBOT 6 peers, their collective reading tastes in their younger days was far more diverse than mine ever was. I am glad to say that these days, my reading is far more diverse. Rather than getting wrapped up in the universes of the big two, my reading choices typically are driven by the creative teams on a project. Such is the case with the new Valiant ongoing, Imperium.
Crime | Artist and collector Jim Wheelock talks about the loss of his comics collection, which was stolen from a storage unit in Brattleboro, Vermont: “I remember where I was and what I was doing when I bought or read many of [the comic books]. Later, when I worked in the financially rickety world of a freelance artist, knowing the books were in Vermont gave me a sense of security, a retirement nest egg. This is what the culprit robbed me of.” Vermont-based cartoonists James Kochalka and Harry Bliss weigh in on what such a loss would mean. Wheelock’s thousands of comics included extensive runs of The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil and The Fantastic Four, in some cases beginning from the first issues. [Seven Days]
Unknown Soldier writer Joshua Dysart has announced he’ll be traveling to the troubled Kurdistan region of Iraq to conduct research for a project he’s planning with the United Nations World Food Programme.
“We’ve been plotting to tell some stories about the complexity and necessity of feeding the world’s displaced people in an engaging way,” Dysart writes on his website. “Now we’re finally getting started and soon I’ll be leaving for northern Iraq. There, I’ll begin researching the current situation facing Kurdish refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict and the violent push of the Islamic State.”
The writer spent a month in Acholiland, Uganda, in 2007 to research Unknown Soldier, his Eisner-nominated Vertigo series that recast the classic DC Comics character as Moses Lwanga, a physician who returns to his native country to help the refugees caught up in the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency.
Conventions | Registration begins Friday for the Small Press Expo 2014 Exhibitor Table Lottery, a new system designed to both bring the old process into the 21st century and address rapidly increasing demand. Online registration will continue through Feb. 14, with lottery winners announced on Feb. 21. There’s a good deal of information to absorb, but convention organizers have created a lottery FAQ. [SPX]
Publishing | Reports of the demise of Ape Entertainment turns out to have been premature. The company, which had one of the bestselling digital comics a few years ago with Pocket God, has been quiet of late and recently canceled a number of outstanding orders. However, COO Brett Erwin emerged Tuesday to say the publisher is simply going through a period of reorganization after the departure of CEO David Hedgecock, who now works for IDW. Ape will release a new Fruit Ninja comic at the end of the month. [The Beat]
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at the comics, books and whatever else we’ve been checking out lately. Today our guest is Shaun Manning, a former staffer at CBR, occasional convention reporter and comics writer. His current project is a comic called Hell, Nebraska (with artist Anna Wieszczyk), and he’s currently running a Kickstarter to raise funds to publish it. So go check it out.
To see what Shaun and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Digital comics | Sony is shutting down its PSP Comic Store as of Oct. 30. After that, readers will no longer be able to purchase new comics from the store, although they will be able to download at least some previously purchased comics until January 2013. After that, the whole thing is just gone. Sony pulled something similar in Japan, but its new PS Vita store includes a manga service. The PSP doesn’t seem to have been a very popular medium for reading comics in the United States, but it’s too bad that those who did take a chance on it have no way to permanently preserve their comics in a way that isn’t dependent on an aging piece of hardware. [Engadget]
Publishing | The Brooklyn Daily chats a bit with Sean Howe, the writer of Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, whose book includes an account of Marvel founder Martin Goodman, a Brooklynite who gave Stan Lee his first gig but was barely remembered by the company when he died. [Brooklyn Daily]
Conventions | Creative director Rico Renzi discusses HeroesCon, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this weekend with a three-day event that’s experienced a spike in advance ticket sales: “Stan Lee’s attendance to this year’s show has definitely caused a spike in advance ticket sales from what I can tell. I honestly like the show at just the size it is; it’s just right. I used to hop on a bus from Baltimore to go the NYCC and I loved it for the first couple years. It just got too big for me too enjoy it, you couldn’t walk around without rubbing up against strangers. It’s a great alternative to San Diego now I guess. If you’re looking for a pure comic book show though, HeroesCon is where it’s at.” In addition to Lee, this year’s guests include Neal Adams, Mark Bagley, Cliff Chiang, Frank Cho, Becky Cloonan, Geof Darrow, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Evan Dorkin, Tommy Lee Edwards, Matt Fraction, Francesco Francavilla, Jaime Hernandez, Dave Johnson, Jeff Lemire, Paul Levitz, Mike Mignola, George Perez, Louise Simonson, Walt Simonson, Scott Snyder and Bernie Wrightson. [The Comics Reporter]
The new Valiant Entertainment (or Valiant 2.0, Valiant Reborn or whatever you want to call it) returned to comics last month with the well-reviewed X-O Manowar #1. This past week their rebirth continued with the release of Harbinger #1 by Joshua Dysart, Khari Evans and Ian Hannin. How does it stack up? Here are few opinions from around the web …
Benjamin Bailey, IGN: “In the 90s, Valiant was king, and Harbinger was the title that earned them their crown. It was the book at the heart of the Valiant universe; the book that all the collectors gobbled up and sold for inflated prices. Harbinger was also, in a lot of ways, the book that all the other publishers would steal from for years to come. Now, it’s 2012 and we have a brand new Harbinger #1. If you are new to the Valiant Universe, there is plenty to enjoy in this issue, even if feels like something you have read before.”
Kelly Thompson, Comic Book Resources: “There’s a lot of great character work here, strong dialogue and a lot of plot, but the most exciting thing to me as a fan of superhero books is how Dysart handles Peter Stanchek’s power. Peter is some version of a telepath and unlike so many books out there, this fact is not just swept under the rug. It’s dealt with quite realistically and in good detail so that we can see what a mixed bag the power is. In fact, Stanchek’s first real act in this book is to steal drugs from a pharmacy and then mind wipe the clerk — but he needs the drugs to quiet the incessant inescapable voices in his head, so it’s hard to blame him. So often in comics that bit just gets glazed over — ‘Oh, you have to learn to control it’ — cut instantly to it being controlled. This is far more interesting.”
Theme parks | Disney CEO Bob Iger said the company has begun preliminary design work that will pave the way for Marvel superheroes to one day appear alongside familiar characters in Disney theme parks. Iger told shareholders attending the annual meeting Tuesday that the company has been working on some concepts, but hasn’t announced anything yet. Disney is currently developing attractions based on James Cameron’s Avatar film for its Animal Kingdom park in Orlando, Florida, which are expected to be ready in 2015. [Los Angeles Times]
Comic strips | Alan Gardner counts 57 newspapers that aren’t carrying this week’s Doonesbury comics, which address a Texas law requiring women requesting an abortion to submit to a transvaginal ultrasound. But according to Universal UClick, no papers have dropped Garry Trudeau’s strip. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Publishing | John Jackson Miller discusses the Rule of Eight, which holds that independent publishers start to falter once they put out more than eight titles per month, and goes into the nuances of the theory with its originator of the idea, Marc Patten. [The Comichron]
The graphic novel adaptation of Fist Stick Knife Gun took home three Glyph Comics Awards this weekend, while Vertigo’s canceled Unknown Soldier took home two more in the annual awards that “recognize the best in comics made by, for, and about people of color from the preceding calendar year.”
Based on the memoir by Geoffrey Canada, Fist Stick Knife Gun was adapted into a graphic novel by Jamar Nicholas. The adaptation won story of the year and best male character, while Nicholas received the rising star award. Unknown Soldier appeared on the list for its third year, with Joshua Dysart winning for best writer and Dave Johnson winning the best cover award for Unknown Soldier #15. Keith Knight’s The K Chronicles won in the best comic strip or webcomic category for a record fifth time.
The awards were presented at The East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention in Philadelphia Friday night. Here’s the complete list of winners:
Story of the Year: Fist Stick Knife Gun; Geoffrey Canada, writer, Jamar Nicholas, artist
Best Writer: Joshua Dysart, Unknown Soldier
Best Artist: Richard Koslowski, BB Wolf and the 3 LPs
Best Male Character: Geoff, Fist Stick Knife Gun; Geoffrey Canada, writer, Jamar Nicholas, artist; based on the life of Geoffrey Canada
Best Female Character: Selena, 28 Days Later; Michael Alan Nelson, writer; Declan Shalvey & Marek Oleksicki, artists; based on the character created by Alex Garland for the motion picture 28 Days Later
Rising Star Award: Jamar Nicholas, Fist Stick Knife Gun
Best Reprint Publication: Superman vs. Muhammad Ali Deluxe HC, DC Comics
Best Cover: Unknown Soldier #15, Dave Johnson, illustrator
Best Comic Strip or Webcomic: The K Chronicles, Keith Knight, writer and artist
Fan Award for Best Comic: Captain America/Black Panther: Flags of Our Fathers; Reginald Hudlin, writer, Denys Cowan, artist
Chairman’s Award: Black Comix: African American Independent Comics Art and Culture, by Damian Duffy and John Jennings
I rarely get a chance to interview two collaborators for a project, but welcome to my latest fortunate rarity. Writer Mark Sable is back at Image Comics, collaborating with Grounded co-creator and Amazing Spider-Man artist Paul Azaceta. The two creators were kind enough to contact me for a joint email interview. As noted when this project was first announced: “In Graveyard of Empires, when a young lieutenant arrives at Combat Outpost Alamo, a remote outpost in Afghanistan, he learns a new kind of insurgent math. It’s said that in war, when you kill one insurgent, you create ten more by angering his family and friends. In this story, when you kill one, he comes back from the dead to infect ten of your fellow Marines . . . Graveyard of Empires #1 (APR110400), a 32-page full color horror/survival comic that will appeal to fans of The Hurt Locker and THE WALKING DEAD, will be available for sale in a comic shop near you on June 15, 2011.” Sable and Azaceta also provided Robot 6 with a six-page preview from the first installment of the three-issue miniseries. Frequent readers of Talking Comics with Tim may notice that as of late, I have given the interview subjects a chance to ask Robot 6 readers a question. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Sable took this opportunity to invite folks to ask him questions in the comments section. He has committed to answering any and all questions, as his schedule permits, so by all means ask him all that you want.
Tim O’Shea: You two clearly went with an eye-catching, iconic first issue cover. Care to discuss how you arrived at that cover?
Paul Azaceta: Thanks. I knew right off the bat that I didn’t want a complicated cover. I wanted something that stood out and going with something simple and graphic was the way to go. I can’t say where exactly I got the idea for the skull with the poppy flower but when it hit me I knew I had it. I drew a quick little sketch for Mark and he suggested adding the helmet. Actually, the harder part was carrying that idea on with the other covers. But that was my inspiration, simple graphic covers.
Legal | Neil Gaiman addresses some of the news coverage of his continuing legal dispute with Todd McFarlane, which was punctuated this week by an evidentiary hearing regarding the characters Dark Ages Spawn, Domina and Tiffany: “There are some knock-offs of the characters I’ve co-created that Todd published and made toys of over the years, and I felt they were derivative of the characters I’d created (or in one case, one actually was the same character I’d created). Todd didn’t want to pay anything at all on them so he (not me/my lawyers) took it back before the judge. Nobody ‘stole characters’ and there’s no argument over ‘ownership of characters’ going on. We’re now waiting for a ruling on if those characters are (in my opinion) derivative or (Todd’s opinion) not of the characters I co-created and have an established copyright interests in. It’s not an ‘epic battle.’ The epic battle was fought and won in 2002.” Gaiman and McFarlane have until July 25 to submit additional arguments. [Neil Gaiman’s Journal]