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Comics A.M. | ‘MAD Magazine’ artist Bob Clarke passes away

Illustration by Bob Clarke

Illustration by Bob Clarke

Passings | Bob Clarke, one of the original artists for MAD Magazine, passed away Sunday of complications from pneumonia. He was 87. Best known for his “Believe It or NUTS!” parodies, Clarke actually began his career at age 15 as an uncredited assistant on the Ripley’s Believe It or Not comic strip before joining the Army, where he worked for Stars and Stripes. At MAD, he also drew “Spy vs. Spy” for many years, and illustrated the famed January 1961 back cover congratulating John F. Kennedy on his election (the front featured Richard Nixon; the editors were hedging their bets). [The News Journal]

Creators | Charles Soule talks about taking the reins of DC Comics’ Swamp Thing: “Swamp Thing isn’t just a horror book by any means — it’s also a book about superhero action and philosophy and humor. This is a title that’s open to just about anything.” Soule’s plans include new supporting characters and short story arcs that build up to a bigger structure. [USA Today]

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Comics A.M. | This weekend, WonderCon returns to Anaheim

WonderCon

WonderCon

Conventions | The Orange County Register previews WonderCon, which returns this weekend to Anaheim, California, and selects some of the highlights from the programming schedule, including panels dedicated to “Batman: The Zero Year,” The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, and Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing. [Orange County Register]

Conventions | The Los Angeles Times wraps up last weekend’s Fabletown and Beyond. [Hero Complex]

Conventions | The Detroit News runs down the upcoming slate of Michigan conventions dedicated to comics, anime, fantasy/sci-fi, horror and collectibles, ranging from Shuto Con to Kids Read Comics! to Detroit FanFare. [The Detroit News]

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This week it’s a choice between navy beans and Nova

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.

Nova #1

Nova #1

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d buy the leading contender for best ongoing series this year, Saga #10 (Image, $2.99). I loved the last issue focusing on the Will, but I’m excited at the prospect this one teases of Izabel returning – although in a red-tinged, seemingly evil demeanor. After that I’d get another creator-owned gem with Francesco Francavilla’s The Black Beetle #2 (Dark Horse, $3.99). I love the latitude Dark Horse is giving Francavilla in the design packaging here – that cover is something special — and luckily, the insides have the promise of being even better given what happened last issue. Third and last in my $15 haul this week would be Dark Horse Presents #21 (Dark Horse, $7.99). Criminally underrated and consciously mind-blowing, this issue promises three new serials debuting plus a collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Paul Chadwick about alien saucers. Why isn’t this a top-selling book?

If I had $30, I’d make it a Dark Horse trifecta with Conan the Barbarian #13 (Dark Horse, $3.50). How does Brian Wood do it, finding such great artists that no one else knows about like Mirko Colak? This time, Conan tries to conquer the desert. Then I’d do a Marvel trifecta: Avengers #6 (Marvel, $3.99), Nova #1 (Marvel, $3.99) and Thor: God of Thunder #5 (Marvel, $3.99). Avengers has seemingly the origin of my formerly most favorite D-list hero in the Marvel Universe, Captain Universe – until she upgraded to the A-list as an Avenger. Then Nova has a spirited, seemingly kid-friendly romp by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness. Then Thor … Thor. This thoroughly dark and mythic story has made Jason Aaron’s beard even more ominous than before.

If I could splurge, I’d get Alter-Ego #115 (TwoMorrows, $8.95). Normally a magazine about comics, in this issue they collect some lost gems – namely the stereoscopic comics (3-D!) – of the 1950s. 3-D glasses included, this issue contains work by Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, Joe Kubert, Curt Swan (!!), George Tuska and more. Truly a highlight of the week.

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Food or Comics? | Yogurt or Young 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.

Young Avengers #1

Graeme McMillan

If I had $15 this week, it’d be all first issues, all the time. Being a Trek fan, I couldn’t resist IDW’s Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #1 ($3.99), offering some glimpses into the new movie for the first time outside of the trailer, for one thing. Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Young Avengers #1 (Marvel, $2.99) looks to be equally unmissable judging from both the previews and interviews heralding its launch, and also Gillen’s performance on Iron Man and other titles recently, so that’d make it in there, too. Finally, I’d grab The Answer #1 (Dark Horse, $3.99), Dennis Hopeless and Mike Norton’s new superhero/mystery series. I’ve been back and forth about Hopeless in the past (loved his X-Men: Season One; hate his Avengers Arena), but the hook for this one looks pretty solid and Norton’s work is always nice to gaze at.

Should I suddenly find myself with an additional $15, I’d add some current favorites to the pile: Chris Roberson and Dennis Calero’s pulp dystopia Masks #3 (Dynamite, $3.99), Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opena’s Avengers #3 (Marvel, $3.99, and less a “favorite” than an “undecided about, but was surprised by how much I appreciated that second issue”) and Greg Rucka and Matt Southworth’s Stumptown #5 (Oni, $3.99). After the fourth issue of Stumptown, I’d pick that last one up even if Rucka had accidentally forgotten to write any dialogue in there. Did you see that last issue? Man …

Were I to splurge, it’d almost feel greedy after this week of bounty. Nonetheless, I’d grab The Spider, Vol. 1: Terror of The Zombie Queen (Dynamite, $19.99), the collected edition of the first storyline from David Liss’ revival of the pulp hero that I loved based on the first issue but somehow fell off of before the end of that first arc for reasons that escape me. Definitely curious to revisit it.

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Food or Comics? | Gluten or Glory

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.

Glory #30

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, my Wednesday haul would start with Glory #30 (Image, $3.99). This series has been great, and since Kris Anka began doing covers, it’s gone to very great. Now, seeing New Yorker cartoonist Roman Muradov coming in to do a story makes it potentially even more, well, great. I’m psyched to see Glory face off against her sister, and Campbell’s depiction of both has been mesmerizing. Next I’d pick up Comeback #1 (Image, $3.50), featuring letterer Ed Brisson making his major writing debut. The cover design by Michael Walsh is impeccable, and the concept of time traveling for grieving loved ones is a fascinating concept. Next up, I’d get a Marvel double – Wolverine and the X-Men #21 (Marvel, $3.99) and Hawkeye #4 (Marvel, $2.99). This carnie issue of Wolverine and the X-Men is intriguing; it’s going out on a limb, but after what Jason Aaron and Nick Bradshaw have done so far, I trust them. With Hawkeye, I’m slightly hesitant to pick up an issue knowing David Aja isn’t drawing it, but Javier Pulido has the potential to be an ideal temporary substitute.

If I had $30, I’d look back on my $15 and reluctantly put Hawkeye #4 back on the shelf to free up money for Derek Kirk Kim’s Tune, Book 1: Vanishing Point (First Second, $16.99). Man oh man, do I love Kim’s work, and seeing the previews for this online makes me see a honing of the artist’s style akin to the way Bryan O’Malley did between Lost At Sea and Scott Pilgrim. Count me in.

If I could splurge, I’d take a chance on the anthology Digestate (Birdcage Bottom Books, $19.95). I’m no foodie like C.B. Cebulski, but I like food and I like anthologies so this is right up my alley; especially when the chefs include Jeffrey Brown and Liz Prince. Where’s my order?

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Talking Comics with Tim | Patrick Dean on Jack Davis Exhibit

Jack Davis (left) with Patrick Dean at the opening of the exhibit

As a kid growing up in Georgia in the 1970s and 1980s, my first exposure to Jack Davis’ art was his University of Georgia Bulldog sports art. As I grew older, of course, I learned about the far-reaching variety of illustrations and stories he has produced throughout his career. Recently I discovered that cartoonist Patrick Dean had curated an exhibition of Davis’ career for the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens: “Beyond the Bulldog: Jack Davis,” which runs through Jan. 6.

Soon after the exhibit’s Nov. 3 opening, I lined up Dean for an interview, in which he discusses how much Davis’ family is involved with, and interested in, orchestrating exhibits of the artist’s work. He also talks about what makes Davis’ work resonate with him.

Tim O’Shea: How did you come to be involved as the curator of the project?

Patrick Dean: I majored in graphic design here at the University of Georgia, with a focus on illustration. In my senior year of 1998, Jack Davis, a UGA alumnus, visited the graphic design building. He stopped by a few classes, told stories, passed out sketches, etc. Ridiculously pleasant guy. My illustration professor, Alex Murawski, knew I was a big fan of Davis’s work. From that year onwards the department started the Jack Davis Distinguished Visiting Artist Lecture Series. The graphic design department would invite illustrators and cartoonists to visit, talk to the classrooms, and then wind up with a big talk in a lecture hall. They’ve had people like Sergio Aragones, Arnold Roth, Anna Kunz, Mike Luckovich, to visit, and every year Davis would be in attendance. After I graduated in 1998, Murawski would always keep me in the loop on these talks.

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Food or Comics? | Havarti or The Hive

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.

The Hive

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d make up for lost time and get the first collection of Mind the Gap (Image, $9.99). Rodin Esquejo is an absolute gem in my opinion, and Jim McCann looks to have crafted a story with some definite suspenseful power. After that I’d get James Stokoe’s Godzilla: Half Century War #3 (IDW, $3.99). This has become one of my favorite serials to come out, which for a work-for-hire book is tough. Instead of doing a story in service of the concept, it uses the concept to create a great story – and Stokoe really loves Godzilla and puts a face to those humans who oppose him. Finally, I’d get the free Cyber Force #1 (Image/Top Cow, $0) because, well, it’s free. I have an unabashed love for the original Cyber Force, and previous reboots haven’t really gelled the way I wanted to. I’m excited to see what Matt Hawkins brings to this, and I’m glad Silvestri is involved even if only on covers and designs.

If I had $30, I’d first stop for Glory #29 (Image, $3.99). I tend to read this series in built-up bursts, and I’m overdue to catch up. I like the monstrous rage Ross Campbell brings to this, and seeing Joe Keatinge capitalize on the artist he has to create a broader story is thrilling. After that I’d get a Marvel three-pack in Hawkeye #3 (Marvel, $2.99), Daredevil #19 (Marvel, $2.99) and AvX Consequences #2 (Marvel, $3.99). I’d buy David Aja illustrating a phone book – seeing him getting a great story is icing on the cake.

If I could splurge, I’d lash onto Charles Burns’ The Hive (Pantheon, $21.95). I’m reluctantly late to the game when it comes to Charles Burns, but X’ed Out clued me into his awesome cartooning power. After devouring his previous work, I’m excited to read The Hive as it first comes out. I don’t quite know what to expect, but after finally coming around to Burn’s skill I’m up for pretty much anything. Continue Reading »

Comics A.M. | Alan Moore to make rare convention appearance

Alan Moore

Creators | Alan Moore will make a rare convention appearance in September — his first in 25 years, according to this article — at the inaugural Northants International Comics Expo in Northamptonshire, England. To attend Moore’s hour-long talk on writing comics or the hour-long question-and-answer session, convention-goers are required to donate graphic novels to the Northamptonshire Libraries, which will have a table at the event. [Stumptown Trade Review]

Creators | Mark Waid gets the NPR treatment, as Noah J. Nelson interviews him about his digital comics initiatives. “I got news for you: I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and this is the hardest writing I’ve ever had to do,” Waid says of creating digital comics. [NPR]

Publishing | Abrams ComicArts editorial director Charles Kochman discusses the publisher’s spring lineup, which will include William Stout’s Legends of the Blues, Darryl Cunningham’s What the Frack, a history of Bazooka Joe comics, and a Will Eisner artbook written by Paul Levitz. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | New York Comic Con absorbs New York Anime Festival

New York Comic Con

Conventions | ReedPOP has officially announced it will fold the New York Anime Festival into New York Comic Con, rather than continue them as separate events held at the same location. “This move has nothing to do with our loyalty or commitment to the anime community and everything to do with the growth and identity of New York Comic Con as a leading pop culture event,” ReedPOP’s Lance Fensterman said in a statement. “NYCC embraces all elements of the pop culture world, including anime, and we have evolved to a point where the existence of NYAF outside our universe is almost a contradiction. We will be better able to serve the anime community from within the NYCC infra-structure rather than have a show which is separate and which will always be dwarfed by everything that New York Comic Con represents and is.” [press release]

Passings | Cartoonist Jim Unger, whose one-panel comic Herman served as an inspiration for Gary Larson’s The Far Side, passed away Monday at his home in British Columbia. He was 75. The comic appeared in about 600 newspapers worldwide from 1974 until Unger’s retirement in 1992. [The Daily Cartoonist]

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This weekend, it’s Boston Comic Con

This weekend’s Boston Comic Con has all the virtues of a small show and most of the virtues of a large one as well. The headliners of this year’s show, which takes place Saturday and Sunday at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, are Mad Magazine artists Al Feldstein, Al Jaffee, and Paul Coker. That alone would get me onto the T, but there’s plenty of talent for all tastes: Peter Bagge, Simon Bisley, Becky Cloonan, Greg Horn, Jamal Igle, David Petersen, Jill Thompson, and Skottie Young are among the featured guests, while the Artists Alley will be graced by, among others Ming Doyle, Jarrett Krosoczka (creator of the all-ages Lunch Lady books), Adventure Time team Braden Lamb and Shelli Paroline, and local favorites the Boston Comics Roundtable. There’s a solid lineup of panels, and Marvel Comics will be doing portfolio reviews.

The nice thing about a small con like this is that it’s more relaxed than a big con. It’s easier to talk to artists at their tables and to browse the work of new creators if you don’t have the crowd at your back. If you’re in the area, it’s well worth checking out. I highly recommend taking public transit if you can–street parking is difficult and the garages are expensive–but I wouldn’t let that stop me from coming in if a car was my only option. The Pru garage offers significant discounts if you spend ten bucks in the restaurants or shops there. The upside is that unlike a lot of convention centers, the Hynes is located in an actual urban neighborhood with lots of interesting restaurants and shops, so you’re not stuck eating $9 turkey sandwiches for lunch.

See you at the con!

No foolin': MAD Magazine announces iPad app

MAD Magazine will release an iPad app featuring exclusive content, interactive stories, MAD videos and access to MAD library on April 1, the birthday of their legendary mascot Alfred E. Neuman. The app will be free to download through the App Store and will include a mixture of free and paid content, including a free preview of the magazine.

“We’re delighted to bring MAD to the iPad,” said MAD editor John Ficarra in a press release. “We think the MAD app may be just the thing to turn the struggling iPad around and make it successful -though most experts think it may be just the thing that kills it altogether.”

The MAD app will include interactive versions of all current issues, access to a library of back issues and books, animated covers and “fold-in” pages and promo videos from the MAD Cartoon Network show. In addition to the regular issue interactive “fold-in,” digital issues will also include a second, classic interactive “fold-in” from a past issue. Fans of Sergio Aragones’ MAD Marginals will enjoy a feature that allows readers to “pop-up” the margin artwork for a larger, more detailed view.

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Comics A.M. | Stuck in the Middle to remain in school library

Stuck in the Middle

Libraries | A committee recommended Monday that Stuck in the Middle: 17 Comics from an Unpleasant Age, an anthology of comics about middle school edited by Ariel Schrag, should remain in the Buckfield Junior-Senior High School library in Dixfield, Maine, after the mother of a student challenged its appropriateness because of “objectionable sexual and language references.” The local school board will make a final ruling in January. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom sent a letter of support for the book prior to the hearing. A school board in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, pulled the graphic novel from middle-school libraries in November 2009, but allowed teachers to continue to use it in class. [Sun Journal]

Digital | Charlie Sorrel looks at the iPad comic reader called, appropriately enough, Comic Reader. [Wired]

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What Are You Reading? with Geoffrey Golden and Amanda Meadows

BLAMMO #6

Season’s Greetings and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at what we’ve been reading lately. Today our special guests are Geoffrey Golden and Amanda Meadows, editors of Devastator: The Quarterly Comedy Magazine for Humans. Their latest issue has a video game theme, with contributions from James Kochalka, Corey Lewis, Danny Hellman and many more. And if you head over to their website between now through Dec. 16, the code ROBOT6 gets you 20 percent off single issues.

To see what Amanda, Geoffrey and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below.

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Comics A.M. | Alan Moore responds to Frank Miller’s Occupy remarks

Alan Moore

Creators | Watchmen writer Alan Moore responds to recent comments made by The Dark Knight Returns creator Frank Miller: “I think that the Occupy movement is, in one sense, the public saying that they should be the ones to decide who’s too big to fail. It’s a completely justified howl of moral outrage and it seems to be handled in a very intelligent, non-violent way, which is probably another reason why Frank Miller would be less than pleased with it. I’m sure if it had been a bunch of young, sociopathic vigilantes with Batman make-up on their faces, he’d be more in favour of it. We would definitely have to agree to differ on that one.”  [Honest Publishing]

Conventions | Tom Spurgeon files a lengthy report from the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, held Saturday in New York City. [The Comics Reporter]

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Comics A.M. | Chris Claremont donates archives to Columbia

Chris Claremont

Creators | Longtime Uncanny X-Men writer Chris Claremont is donating his archives to Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The collection includes materials for all of his major writing projects over the past 40 years, notebooks with story ideas, drafts of short stories, plays, novels and comic books, and materials from his early training in the theater and his career as an actor. “We hope this is the first of more comics papers to come to the University,” said Karen Green, Columbia University’s ancient/medieval studies librarian and graphic novel librarian. “We want it to be a magnet for these kinds of archives in New York City, where the comics medium was born.” [Publishers Weekly]

Awards | USA Network and DC Comics’ Burn Notice webcomic has won a Media Vanguard Award from Advertising Age. [Advertising Age]

Creators | Michael Cavna talks to two comics creators with very different takes on Occupy Wall Street, sequential journalist Susie Cagle, who was arrested as part of the Occupy Oakland protests, and conservative editorial cartoonist Nate Beeler, who walks past the Occupy D.C. site every day and regards it as “quaint,” smelly, and out of step with the rest of the country.” [Comic Riffs]

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