Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guests are Gardner Linn and Dave Lentz, the creative team behind the webcomic Registered Weapon — “the internet’s only webcomic starring a robotic cash register who fights crime.” They just kicked off their latest story, Case 006, on Nov. 12, and you can also download the first ten pages from their site if you prefer to read in bigger chunks.
To see what Gardner, Dave and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at what’s been on our nightstands lately. Our guest this week is Jay Faerber, writer of Dynamo 5, Near Death and Noble Causes. The second Near Death trade just came out this week, and his new comic, Point of Impact, comes out Oct. 10.
To see what Jay and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
MICE, the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, is like a mini-MoCCA for the Boston area. Sponsored by the Boston Comics Roundtable and the Art Institute of Boston, MICE is in its third year, and last year’s show was such a hit that tables for this year sold out within three hours. The headline guest is R. Sikoryak, and the roster includes Box Brown, Ming Doyle, Cathy Leamy, Kevin Church, Colleen AF Venable and Stephanie Yue (who will be debuting their latest Pet Shop Private Eye book at the show), Adventure Time team Braden Lamb and Shelli Paroline, and many more too numerous to mention (more than 150 in all). Besides Venable and Yue’s book, there are several other debuts at the show, including the Boston Comics Roundtable’s Hellbound III, Cathy Leamy’s Diabetes Is After Your Dick and Mike Lynch’s Don’t Let the Zombie Drive the Bus.
As much as I love the big shows, and I’ll move heaven and earth to get to New York Comic Con every year, I really enjoy smaller shows like this. Boston has a lot of native and nearby comics talent, and while the room does get crowded at times, it’s still more laid back than a big con. You get to see talent at all stages of its development and interact with creators while they are still making their comics by hand. Plus it’s in a great location, easy to get to and with a ton of good restaurants nearb y— no shriveled-up turkey sandwiches for $9 a pop or fake coffee in a Styrofoam cup. Admission is free, too. So if you’re in the area, hop on the T and check it out.
Happy Sunday and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our guest today is Kevin Church, writer of The Rack, Signs and Meanings, the new Monkeybrain series Wander: Olive Hopkins And The Ninth Kingdom and many other comics.
To see what Kevin and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
I’m a pushover for stories set in restaurants, from memoirs to Iron Wok Jan to the British series Chef, so The Line is right up my alley. Written by Kevin Church and drawn by Paul Salvi, it features the sort of over-the-top characters we have come to expect in a restaurant comed y— the coked-out chef (who, in an additional twist, has Asperger syndrome), the long-suffering manager and a back-of-the-house cast that ranges from helpful to fierce. Linda Park gets tossed into all this when chef Paul Greenfield gets her fired from her job at a pizza joint and hires her to work at his fancy French restaurant. Of course, he was drunk at the time, so when she shows up for work he remembers nothing of it. Fortunately for Linda, he has done this before, so the rest of the staff takes it in stride.
The first chapter details her first day as the hostess, which starts out bad and spirals upward into a great, flaming heap of disaster; the next two episodes take on a visit from a guerrilla TV show and an unfortunate deal with a Groupon-style social media coupon. The comic is less about food than about the nuts and bolts of running a restaurant, and it’s a fine little workplace comedy. The first print comic just came out and will be available at Heroes Con as well as online.
Although it originated on the television air waves, Star Trek has boldy gone to a number of mediums, including comics. But this new voyage is taking it in a more harrowing — and humorous — direction.
Writer Kevin Church and artist Ming Doyle recently kicked off a Star Trek parody webcomic titled Boldly Gone, centers on a lesser-known Starfleet vessel, the U.S.S Mandela, during the time of the original Star Trek series. Following up from their previous series The Loneliest Astronauts, Church and Doyle’s new work sees Captain Paul Meredith writhing and griping in the shadow of the illustrious James T. Kirk. Remember how Shatner vamped so much during the TV show? Imagine how other captains would feel about that. Here’s a sample:
After two years of (almost) weekly adventures, the erstwhile astronauts Dan and Steve are ending their tour of duty in outer space as the long-running webcomic The Loneliest Astronauts finishes this week. Created by writer Kevin Church and artist Ming Doyle, it’s reminiscent of the recent flick Moon if written as a drunken comedy with Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd.
Church is a longtime denizen of the comics Internet going back to the early comics blogosphere days, and for the past few years he’s quietly assembled his own line of webcomics illustrated by different artists under the banner AgreeableComics.com. He wrote a handful of printed comics for BOOM! Studios a few years back, but it’s this quiet armada of quirky webcomics for which becoming known.
In the case of his Loneliest Astronauts collaborator Doyle, she’s gone from an online indie darling (and Project: Rooftop regular) to getting mainstream Marvel attention with work in Girl Comics and the upcoming resumption of Fantastic Four.
With all 87 installments online for free, readers can check out the entire series, and wait for a possible print edition. Fans of the work can look forward next month to seeing Church and Doyle reunite to revive their Star Trek fan comic Boldly Gone.
New York may get the big shows, but Boston has a vibrant local comics scene and is building up a nice slate of events throughout the year. Boston Comic Con was like a teeny-tiny version of NYCC, with name creators (Darwyn Cooke, Stan Sakai, Frank Quitely) chatting with dozens of fans in small conference rooms. MICE, the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, is like a mini-MoCCA, just one day long and featuring a number of talented creators. The lineup of exhibitors includes Box Brown, Kevin Church, Alexander Danner, Ming Doyle, Gareth Hinds, Dirk Tiede, and Tak Toyoshima, plus lots of people you never heard of who are quietly doing interesting, innovative work (that’s not a punt—I saw a lot of these people at BCC.)
The schedule includes lettering, coloring, and webcomics workshops and panel discussions on comics for children (featuring my Good Comics for Kids collaborator Robin Brenner), comics and social justice, comics and fashion, and more.
It all happens Saturday, from 10 a.m to 4 p.m., at Lesley University in Porter Square, Cambridge. Here’s an insider tip: It’s in the same building as a Japanese mall, which has lots of inexpensive noodle shops, one nicer fish restaurant, a bubble tea stand, and a lovely Japanese/French bakery, so plan to stay local for lunch. Admission to the show is free, and there’s plenty to see. I’m planning to make a day of it, and if you are in the Boston area, I’d highly recommend it.
In the spirit of Mike Maihack’s Batgirl/Supergirl and Nate Cosby and Evan Shaner’s Captain Marvel six-panel strips, Kevin Church, Eric Canete and Jordie Bellaire have created a six-panel strip starring the Ultra-Humanite. It’s a fun little strip, complete with mad science, hypermath, Congorilla and Proust references.
This meme of comic strips was inspired by Pigs co-writer and former Marvel editor Nate Cosby, who has been posting short “if I wrote …” quotes from various comic characters on his Tumblr. I hope someone jumps on the Mr. Miracle one.
Publishing| Joe Keatinge and Frank Cho have signed a three-book deal with Delcourt, a comics publisher in France. The first book of theirs Delcourt will publish will be the first volume of Brutal, which will debut at the Festival International de la Bande Dessinée d’Angouleme 2013. Delcourt publishes many American comics in France, including Walking Dead, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Invincible, Rocketeer, Hellboy, The Goon, Haunt and many more, as well as many manga titles.
“On a personal level, French comics have had a huge influence on me. Working within that industry is something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I wanted a career in comics at all. Being an author with a book debuting at Angouleme is a goal I thought was many a year away, so this has taken things to a whole new level much sooner than anticipated. While I do plan on going back in 2012, this still gives me a year to work on my awful command of the language before I have to do a signing. Being in the good hands of Delcourt makes me think it’s a good start,” Keatinge said. [Joe Keatinge]
One of the reasons I go to comic cons is to wander the Artists Alley in search of good comics I never heard of before. I came back from Boston Comic Con with a big stack of postcards, print comics, and jotted notes, so the three comics here are just the beginning of the deluge.
Boots and Pup has been around for a while, but creator John Y. told me that he was moving to a six-day-a-week schedule this week. That’s a brave statement, because the comic has been on hiatus since 2007, but John tells me he has a two-month buffer already in place. The comic is colorful, simply drawn, and kid-friendly yet witty enough for older readers to appreciate.
At the Agreeable Comics table, Kevin Church was pushing Lydia, which is a spinoff of another webcomic, The Rack. “You can read it on its own,” he said, and indeed, I read the print comic on the way home from the con and found myself laughing out loud. It’s workplace humor with a wry twist, illustrated by Max Riffner in a nice, expressive yet simple style in black and white.
Finally, I stopped off at Jason Viola’s table to tell him how much I liked his comic Herman the Manatee, in which Herman, a manatee, bumps his head on a boat in every single episode. (In the second series, Herman does move on to other things.) Jason gave me a carefully crafted minicomic of another story, Who Is Amy Amoeba? (language NSFW), the story of an amoeba who can’t stop dividing, and suffers multiple identity crises because of it. It’s a very clever idea, well executed and simply drawn, and well worth a visit, as are all of Jason’s comics.
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.”
The digital comics scene is still evolving, with lots of complications; over at Comics Alliance, David Brothers samples all five of the different ways you can buy Marvel comics digitally, none of which is fully compatible with the other, and none of which is fully satisfactory.
The one thing that all the modes of buying Marvel comics have in common is that they are basically rentals; the Marvel DCU service is available only as long as you keep up your subscription, and even the comiXology and Chrome comics could disappear if the provider disappears. There’s another way of selling digital comics that none of the big publishers will touch: Downloadable, non-copy-protected PDFs (or CBZs or CBRs, which are like PDFs in that they are portable). I just sampled two different sites that sell comics this way, a single-artist site and a digital storefront, and despite a few hiccups in the latter, the experiences were remarkably similar.
The first was the Agreeable Comics store, which is a very simple storefront that sells just one thing: comics by Kevin Church and his collaborators. Buying a comic there was amazingly easy—I didn’t have to set up an account or remember one more password. I chose a comic (I went with the ironic choice, a short horror comic called Copy Protection), clicked the link, and was taken to a PayPal page, where I entered my password and authorized the sale. I was immediately sent two e-mails, one with a receipt, the other with a link to download the comic. That was it. No profile to create, no username, no social networking. I just went to a web store and bought a comic.
Editor’s Note: With the recent discussions going on around the comics community about creator-owned comics, we’re pleased to welcome one of the voices in those discussions, 30 Days of Night and Mystery Society creator Steve Niles, to Robot 6 for a series of columns on creator-owned comics. A big thanks to Steve for agreeing to do the column, as well as to artist Stephanie Buscema for creating a killer image for it.
by Steve Niles
Welcome to the first installment of my new column, Creator-Owned Spotlight. I tried to think up an amusing title, but then decided to just settle on what it was: a spotlight on creator-owned comics, publishers and retailers who support the need for more creator-owned books.
I guess the first order of business is to define what I mean when I say “creator-owned comics.” I’m talking about ANY book where the creator has ANY ownership in their book. So basically, if you sign a work-for-hire agreement, you don’t generally have ownership. It doesn’t make those books bad, or the enemy, or anything like that. We’re just not talking about them here.
Why am I doing this? I’ve been called insane for wanting to promote my competitors’ work. All I have to say to that is: it isn’t a competition. And yes, I am crazy. I’ve drawn a line in the sand for myself to be positive. I hope you’ll try, too.
First up is such an obvious choice; I really don’t need to write much at all. His name is synonymous with creator-owned books, because he’s one of creator-owned comics’ greatest success stories. He’s also a friend and hero of mine.
Down to the wire here, so let’s do a round-robin of a few more cool items you can get at the San Diego Comic-Con this year …
• Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba are bringing a new limited signed giclée print, which you can see to the right.
• Buenaventura Press is having a going-out-of-business sale at booth #1734. Alvin Buenaventura will be there, selling the last copies he has of Kramers Ergot 7, Boy’s Club by Matt Furie, The Gigantic Robot by Tom Gauld, original art and more.
• Gene Luen Yang has a new T-shirt he’ll be selling at the show.
• Terry Moore is bringing The Complete Paradise TOO — “a 360 page softcover book filled with hundreds and hundreds of my comic strips and cartoons, from high school to SIP to all the Kixie strips and Plato and Lizzie the axe-murderer… all for just $30.”