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Comics A.M. | Graphic novel sales actually stronger than they look?

Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery Deluxe Edition

Retailing | The retail news and analysis site ICv2 contends sales of graphic novels in the direct market may be better than recent numbers indicate because of the way Diamond Comic Distributors reports those figures. While the distributor’s calculations are based on the wholesale value of shipments, ICv2 based its estimates on the retail value, and found graphic novel sales rose 24.4 percent in March, rather than declined 5.7 percent (versus a year ago), and climbed 27.7 percent in April, rather than just 12.6 percent: “The big differences between the wholesale and retail rates of change in recent months appear to be caused by big increases in the number of graphic novels liquidated through Diamond in March and April.  So retail dollars were up, while wholesale dollars lagged. ” [ICv2]

Conventions | Audrey Gillan previews this weekend’s Kapow! in London by casting a spotlight on organizers Lucy and Sarah Unwin — they’re partnered with Mark Millar — and their efforts to create a female-inclusive comic convention. “We ourselves as women organising the show have been accused of misogyny because of the obviously male guest list, but there is just this lack of female creators and it’s the nature of the industry,” Lucy Unwin said. “There’s no point in taking it to heart because I don’t employ the creators. I would love there to be more women at the show in terms of guests.” [The Guardian]

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Talking Comics with Tim | Matt Kindt

Mind MGMT #1

Matt Kindt is a writer/artist who is on the eve of being a monthly frequent occupant of retailers shelves after years of increasing recognition for his graphic novels. First up, on April 18, Dark Horse releases 3 Story: Secret Files of the Giant Man (Kindt’s follow-up to his 2009 graphic novel, 3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man)–a set of three stories collected in one book that originally appeared in MySpace Dark Horse Presents. That April 18 release also features a preview of his new monthly Dark Horse espionage ongoing, Mind MGMT, which officially launches on May 23. I was interested in email interviewing Kindt to find out how it feels to be meeting the monthly deadline (as opposed to his creative process when working on standalone graphic novels). And, of course, I took the opportunity to find out more about his other major ongoing project, assuming the writing reins from Jeff Lemire on DC’s Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. (his first issue on that high profile assignment goes on sale June 13 with the release of issue #10). My thanks to Kindt for his time and thoughts. I particularly appreciated his belief that the “art-form of a good monthly comic has sort of been lost”–and his resulting aim to regain some of what’s been seemingly lost. Once you finish this interview, be sure to also read CBR’s Jeffrey Renaud’s late January 2012 interview with Kindt in which they detail the upcoming Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. work.

Tim O’Shea: How hard is it to decide to take on the monthly grind with Mind MGMT? Have you had to make adjustments to your creative process, or has the demand on you increased on you (as opposed as to when you were doing standalone graphic novels)?

Matt Kindt: It wasn’t a hard decision at all really. I’ve always wanted to do a monthly book. That’s the format I grew up reading and so it’s always been kind of a dream of mine to eventually work in that format. I’ve been spoiled my whole career, starting out doing OGN’s — which is something I know a lot of monthly guys aspire to so I’m just coming at it from the other side. I still love the OGN and it’s my favorite way to create but I think you get a different experience with a monthly book. When you read a monthly, you’re growing and changing and aging along with the characters. And you’re thinking about the story and the characters month after month instead of just reading 300 pages in one sitting and then moving on. I think you begin to actually care a little more about what’s going on.

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Matt Kindt’s 3 Story collection due in April, Mind Mgmt due in May

3 Story: The Secret Files of the Giant Man

Matt Kindt of 3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man, Super Spy, Revolver and My Greatest Adventure fame, announced on his blog today that Dark Horse is compiling several of his “Giant Man” stories from their anthology Dark Horse Presents into one volume, which will be released in April.

“These are short stories that take place during the same time period as Part 2 and 3 of my book 3 Story,” he said. 3 Story told the life story of Craig Pressgang, a man with a medical condition that caused him to grow into a giant.

In addition, the collection will include a sneak preview of a new ongoing series by Kindt called Mind Mgmt, which is set to kick off from the publisher in May. A profile by the Webster-Kirkland Times described it as a sci-fi/espionage series. Expect more details on it soon.

Dark Horse announces new project from Peter Bagge

Peter Bagge's Reset

In the tradition of one-word titles like Yeah! and Hate, Dark Horse Comics announced a new project from creator Peter Bagge, Reset.

The press release from Dark Horse describes the book as: “If you could relive major events in your life, would you take a stab at making things better—and would your best attempts only make things worse? Or would you use your second chance to put your most twisted, perverted fantasies in motion? These are questions washed-up actor and comedian Guy Krause asks himself after he signs up to be the main research subject for a virtual-reality experiment.”

The first issue of the four-issue series comes out in April and features a variant cover from Matt Kindt, which you can see after the jump.

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The Robot 6 Holiday Gift-Giving Guide, Part 1

‘Tis the season for decking those halls, trimming those trees, lighting the menorah and, of course, figuring out what to buy for your friends and family. To help give you some ideas, we reached out to a few comic creators, asking them:

1. What comic-related gift or gifts would you recommend giving this year, and why?
2. What gift (comic or otherwise) is at the top of your personal wish list, and why?

We’ve gotten back a bunch of suggestions, which we’ll run between now and the end of the week. So let the merriment commence …

Jim McCann

1. Exclusive 2011 Janet Lee Holiday Ornaments
Every year, Janet does about 12 ornaments, three sets of four. This year, she has done Hipster Animals, Scary Toys and Art Nouveau Angels. They are signed and dated, and at the end of the season, that’s it! She stops making them. I’ve been collecting them since 2007, and now our tree is almost completely filled with Janet’s art. You can buy them exclusively through her Etsy shop.

Oh, and if you’re REALLY nice, she MAY have a very limited Dapper Men ornament or two. Just ask!

2. This year, for myself, I’m going with a mix of Blu-Rays (portable Blu-Ray player, please, Santa!) and books. But the thing I’m REALLY excited for is the hardcover edition of the Complete Ripley novels, by Patricia Highsmith. Most people only know of Ms. Highsmith through The Talented Mr. Ripley (and classic film lovers through Strangers On a Train). There were actually five Tom Ripley novels, and the collection looks amazing. Why these books? My spouse recently Tweeted a quote from John Lithgow that struck me as a writer: “Duality, duplicity, truth and deception, good becoming bad and vice-versa are crucial elements of great storytelling.” Highsmith was and remains an unsung hero of mastering that, so I hope I learn something in the process!

Happy Holidays from the Dapper Lariosa-McCann household!

Jim McCann is the writer of Return of the Dapper Men and its upcoming sequel, Marvel Zombies Christmas Carol, Hawkeye:Blindspot and the upcoming Mind The Gap.

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What Are You Reading? with Jim Gibbons

B.P.R.D Hell On Earth: Russia #1

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is Dark Horse assistant editor Jim Gibbons, who I spoke to about his new job on Friday.

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

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Robot Review | The Tooth

The Tooth
Written by Cullen Bunn and Shawn Lee; Illustrated by Matt Kindt
Oni; $24.99

Equal parts Hellboy and Hulk, The Tooth is the story of a young man named Graham Stone who inherits a spooky old estate from his grandfather, Ezekiel. While looking over the place, Graham discovers a room full of “occult esoterica,” a collection of dangerous artifacts that Grandpa Zeke spent a lifetime accumulating. Unfortunately, Graham doesn’t understand how unsafe the stuff really is and grabs an amulet designed to control a mystical, yellow tooth.

Who does understand the significance of the collection is Caleb King, evil mage and one-time arch-nemesis to the late Ezekiel Stone. But when King gets rough with Graham, the supernatural tooth forms a humanoid body and grows to fightin’ size in order to protect his new… well, “master” doesn’t seem like the right word, but the relationship between Graham and the Tooth is hard to define.

Graham doesn’t command the Tooth, but it is attached to him, sometimes quite literally. In between battles with King’s monsters, the Tooth shrinks down and implants itself in Graham’s gums. Graham acts as a reluctant host for the creature who in turn defends the young man. The relationship between the mild-mannered protagonist and the uncontrollable monster brings classic Hulk comics to mind, while the Tooth’s occult origins and the evil wizard who seeks to exploit them are reminiscent of Hellboy.

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From spies to spirits: Matt Kindt conjures up Super Natural

From "Super Natural"

If you were to go back in time three years ago to take a look at all the year-end lists that highlighted 2007′s best comics, no doubt you’d find Matt Kindt‘s Super Spy on many of those lists. The book consisted of 52 short stories — or was it all one big story? — that detailed the lives of spies during World War II.

Now Kindt is working on a follow-up of sorts to Super Spy that jumps into a different genre, the paranormal, and stars the ghosts of Houdini, Amelia Earhart and even a character from Super Spy, among others.

“I really focus on each one of them as they interact with each other and examine their past to sort of uncover the mystery of their life — rather than their deaths,” Kindt said. “Is that vague enough? I really don’t want to give too much away.”

Kindt did give a few things away, however, about the project.

JK: From what I understand, Super Natural is a “sequel” of sorts to Super Spy — or at least they share a common character, correct? What else can you tell us about the new book?

Matt: It’s basically my take on ghost stories. I’m not a big fan of super natural stuff at all — I really do want a sort of rational explanation for everything — or at least for there to be a rational explanation behind it, even if I don’t get it. So that’s pretty much what this book is — a way for me to figure out a way to tell a super natural story that satisfies me. It’s set in the 1950s and includes a dead character from Super Spy (I won’t say which one), Houdini, Amelia Earhart, Morgan Earp and a teenage girl … all ghosts. But 90 percent of the story is sort of flashbacks to their life, with the ghost parts being more of a way to show how they examine their existence and try to figure out why they’re ghosts at all.

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Cartoonists for Criterion

Night of the Hunter, by Matt Kindt

Top-of-the-line DVD house the Criterion Collection is no stranger to comics. In addition to employing the likes of Adrian Tomine and Jaime Hernandez to draw covers for classic films from around the globe, they’ve also recently received rave reviews for their deluxe rerelease of Terry Zwigoff’s stranger-than-fiction documentary Crumb.

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Talking Comics with Tim: Matt Kindt on Revolver

Revolver

Revolver

It’s never boring when I get to catch up with writer/artist Matt Kindt about his creative and marketing process–as well as the film, Donnie Darko (and a range of other topics–including video games, Crisis on Infinite Earth and learning how to drive a stick shift). Had I known we could have talked while at a baseball game (this will make sense once you’ve read the interview), well I was crushed (OK not crushed, but I’m finding out next year if Kindt is partial to major or minor league baseball–and we’ll plan our next interview accordingly). Although I was fortunate enough to read an advance black and white preview of Revolver (his new graphic novel for Vertigo “a tale of two worlds — and how both test a man to his limits”), I’m looking forward to this Wednesday, July 14, when I can buy the book in its final form. While we all wait, enjoy this interview.

Tim O’Shea: How much advanced layouts, given the conflicting narratives that you maintain throughout the tale, did you have to set up at the project’s outset?

Matt Kindt: I lay everything out well in advance. I don’t pencil any pages until the entire thing is layed out. Especially with a book like this where I had a hard page count, meaning I couldn’t go over my page limit, I had to be very precise with everything, including where the page-turns would be for certain big reveals, etc.But I really do that with every book – I don’t start penciling anything until I’ve figured out the entire book.

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What Are You Reading?

Revolver by Matt Kindt

Revolver by Matt Kindt

Happy Sunday and Happy Fourth of July, as we once again delve into what the Robot 6 crew are reading this week. Joining us as our special guest this week is Jeff Lemire, creator of Sweet Tooth, The Nobody, The Essex County Trilogy and Lost Dogs, and the writer of the Atom strip in Adventure Comics and the upcoming Superboy series.

To see what Jeff and the Robot 6 crew are reading, click below …

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Chris Schweizer on Crogan’s March

Crogan's March

Crogan's March

Since starting Talking Comics with Tim in 2009, I have made a frequent effort to not interview creators more than once. But as I am well into my second year, I’ve decided to ease that self-imposed restriction. Thus why I tapped Chris Schweizer again (after last year’s discussion) to do an email interview regarding his second installment in the Crogan Adventures chronicle, Crogan’s March (Oni Press). In addition to discussing the adventures of French Legionnaire Peter Crogan (circa 1912), the SCAD Atlanta professor pulls back the curtain on his creative process as well as his plans to participate in Free Comic Book Day in Atlanta (he has a 10-page Crogan Adventures story in the Oni Press Free-for-All). For my money, Schweizer is one of the good guys in the Atlanta comics scene and I appreciated the chance to interview him about his latest book. Once you read the interview, be sure to check out the 26-page preview that Oni has posted.

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What are you excited about for 2010? Part 1

Over the last couple of weeks Tim O’Shea and I have been reaching out to various folks around the comics industry, asking them one simple question: What are you excited about for 2010? We asked them to mention something they were anticipating, as a fan, and also something they were working on (if, of course, it wasn’t top secret). So we’re ending today with the first of three of these round-ups; watch for the other two to be posted sometime tomorrow.

Jeff Parker

Lava Men!

Lava Men!

I’m excited by a NEW GRAPHIC NOVEL from Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover that is coming out from Top Shelf this year, that I don’t think I can name because they haven’t formally announced it yet. But really, those two names and a full length work should be all you need to hear to know I’m right.

What I’m most excited about that I’m involved with comes out in just a few weeks, it’s AVENGERS VS. ATLAS from Marvel, where I think my collaborators Gabriel Hardman, Elizabeth Breitweiser and I have really gelled. Even if you’ve never read an Agents of Atlas story, I bet you’ll enjoy seeing the original lineup of The Avengers back on the scene.

Or you’ll at least want in for the LAVA MEN.

Jeff Parker writes a whole bunch of great comics for Marvel, including all the Agents of Atlas projects and Thunderbolts. He also helped us out last year with our Robot Love posts at Valentine’s, in a post titled I ♥ learning from comics. Tim O’Shea also interviewed him about Underground earlier this year, along with artist Steve Lieber.

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EXCLUSIVE: Matt Kindt story from Super Spy: The Lost Dossiers

Super Spy: The Lost Dossiers

Super Spy: The Lost Dossiers

Sean T. Collins worked with the folks at Top Shelf to get this one for us, and I was really stoked to see it when it came in. Matt Kindt‘s ingenious Super Spy came out back in 2007, and in March of this year Top Shelf will release a supplement to that ground-breaking work, titled Super Spy: The Lost Dossiers. It’ll include deleted scenes, standalone stories, 3-D comics (ohhhh!) and much more.

Here’s Top Shelf’s top-secret dossier on the book (actually, it’s the solicitation info, so it’s not TOO classified):

SUPER SPY: THE LOST DOSSIERS by Matt Kindt
– $12.95, 96-Page Full-Color Graphic Novel, Young Adult, ISBN 978-1-60309-043-8
– SHIPPING MARCH 2010!
Couldn’t get enough of the critically-acclaimed and Eisner-nominated SUPER SPY? Curious what all the fuss is about? Have we got a book for you! Creator Matt Kindt has pulled out all the stops to make this an unforgettable supplement to (or first taste of) his 2007 opus. What’s inside? Deleted scenes! Standalone spy stories! Sketchbook pages! 3-D comics! Full annotations! Diagrams of spy gadgets and keys to unlock hidden secret codes! Toys and stories for you to cut out and assemble! It’s like a secret spy activity book for grown-ups! PLUS: illustrations, photos, and commentary from Matt explaining the real-world spy origins of his stories and techniques! Don’t just read this book…. USE it!

Check out a complete, standalone story from the book after the jump!

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Talking Comics with Tim: Matt Kindt

3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man

3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man

I’m a great admirer of Matt Kindt‘s work. Honestly, I’m an even bigger admirer of Kindt’s ingenious nature. Case in point, for his latest book, 3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man (published by Dark Horse and released in late September), he has developed a Giant Man Mini Comic – Spy Capsule and Giant-Man 3-D Postcards. Before we get into our email interview about 3 Story, I have to reiterate what I said in last week’s What Are You Reading that (in addition to checking out Kindt’s latest work, of course) you should pick up Strange Tales 2 (featuring Kindt’s Black Widow tale).  Here’s a bit of Dark Horse’s background on the tale (before stepping into the interview): “Craig Pressgang’s life is well documented in his official CIA biography, Giant Man: Pillar of America, but the heroic picture it paints is only half the story. The continuous growth caused by Craig’s strange medical condition brings a variety of problems as he becomes more isolated and unknowable. Told in three eras by three women with unique relationships with Craig, 3 Story follows his sad life from his birth to the present.” Be sure to visit the Dark Horse site for a seven-page sample of the book. 

Tim O’Shea: A three-fold question of sorts (pun intended): Which came first, the idea to build your latest book as three stories in one, or the fact that the lead character was three stories tall in height or that you wanted to tell the story from the perspective of three women?

Matt Kindt: I wanted to tell the story from three different generations’ perspective — that was first. Then the idea for the title. I’m usually terrible with titles. It takes me forever to come up with something and then I usually go back to the working title anyway. Super Spy started out as my jokey working title and then it grew on me so I just left it. A friend accused me of naming it 3 Story so it would be filed on the bookshelf next to my other book 2 Sisters — completely unintentional. But I’m thinking my next book might be called “4 Shadows”. (kidding)

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