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Bullet Dodged: Willow, the ’80s cartoon

Thinking about it, Willow was a perfect concept for an ’80s animated series. It had just the right mixture of magic and sword-fighting, adult adventurers for kids to look up to and – if you aged baby Elora Danan several years – a relatable kid about the same age as the target audience. Even the brownies were custom-made to fill the role of the annoying “comedy” sidekicks that every ’80s cartoon had to have.

Lucasfilm thought so too, according to a set of concept drawings posted at io9. A Willow cartoon would have made sense too considering the success of the Droids and Ewoks cartoons that it looks very much in the spirit of. Check out the io9 gallery for drawings of all the major, familiar characters as well as new – if forgettable – ones like Generic Witch and Friendly Dragon. I actually like the artistry of these drawings a whole lot, it’s just that the cartoon it suggests looks very by-the-numbers for that era.

Am I wrong? Do you wish this had become a real thing? Before you answer, take a look at Moebius’ concept art for Willow and hate the world for depriving you of that movie.

Comics A.M. | DMCA used to retaliate against comics blogger

The 3 Geeks, by Rich Koslowski

Legal | Comics reviewer and journalist Don MacPherson was notified by his web-hosting service of a complaint accusing him of violating the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act. According to MacPherson, the complaint was filed by Scott Courrier, owner of Geeks Galore Computer Center in Marmora, Ontario, who lost a copyright-infringement lawsuit in 2009 after using one of cartoonist Rich Koslowski’s 3 Geeks images without permission. MacPherson wrote about the original judgment; he also posted a follow-up noting Koslowski hadn’t been paid and that the computer center was still using his artwork about a year later. In his complaint to the web-hosting service, Courrier accuses MacPherson of infringing on his copyright by “using my personal name and business information in a negative way without consent.” MacPherson’s hosting company briefly took down his site, but has since restored it, saying it won’t pull it down again unless ordered to do so by a court. MacPherson also followed up with Koslowski, who said the computer center is still using his artwork and hasn’t paid him the court-ordered monetary award from his case. [Eye on Comics]

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Six by 6 | Six essential Moebius books

The Airtight Garage

Perhaps one of the most ironic and galling things for anyone who cares about the work of the late Jean “Moebius” Giraud, who passed away last weekend, is that for all the heartfelt remembrances and accolades that were offered in his memory, virtually none of his work is currently available in print in North America. Oh, there are few titles certainly, most notably from Humanoids, but the bulk of his bibliography, including several of his major, most influential works, remain in the back rooms of used bookstores and warehouses for intrepid and hardy collectors to track down.

With that in mind, I asked my friend and noted comics critic Joe “Jog” McCulloch — whose Moebius knowledge far, far, far exceeds my own – to help me put together a quick “essential” list of Moebius comics in English that, while perhaps not necessarily available for dirt cheap, can nevertheless be tracked down and read. This is obviously is not a definitive type of list — how can it be with someone who had as extensive and stellar a bibliography as Moebius did? But still we hope it will offer a good starting point for the uninitiated, provided you  have the time and money to track these comics down.

(Fair warning: A slighly nsfw image can be found after the jump)

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More memories of Moebius

Tribute art by Cliff Chiang

Following the sad news that comic creator Moebius passed away this weekend, creators and fans continued to mourn his loss, and celebrate his influential life and works. Here are some links of note:

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The comics industry remembers Moebius, ‘a true master of everything comics’

Spider-Man by Moebius

We woke up to the sad news that French comics legend Moebius, a.k.a. Jean Giraud, passed away in Paris this morning.

“When anyone challenges the worth of comics as an art, you can always bash them with Moebius,” wrote writer Jeff Parker on his blog this morning.

The artist worked under both names, serving as artist of the popular Western Blueberry under his real name, while working on The Airtight Garage, Azrach and The Incal, just to name a few, under his pseudonym.

“I was just looking through my Moebius Oeuvres Complètes from Les Humanoïdes Associés yesterday, marveling at his drawings. The Hermetic Garage, Arzach, Le Bandard Fou… And Blueberry that he did with Charlier. It’s an amazing body of work,” wrote creator Jason this morning.

Fans on this side of the pond will remember his Silver Surfer miniseries with Stan Lee, as well as the series of posters he did of various Marvel characters, including Spider-Man (right), Iron Man, Wolverine and The Thing.

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Food or Comics? | Hades or haddock

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.

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man

Graeme McMillan

It had to happen; I’m so uninspired by this week’s offerings, I’d skip the $15 altogether and go straight for the $30 option, which I’d spend on the Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis Premiere Edition Vol. 1 HC (Marvel, $24.99); I ended up skipping out on the single issues after #3 because of the price, but I enjoyed it enough that I’d happily pick up the collection.

If I were looking to splurge even more than that, there’s also the Spider-Man: Spider-Island Companion HC (Marvel, $39.99), which gives me a chance to catch up on the peripheral titles from the recent event; I picked up the Spider-Girl series, but missed out on the well-reviewed Cloak and Dagger and other books.

Explorer: The Mystery Boxes

Brigid Alverson

You know who is getting a lot of my money this week? Abrams, that’s who: I’m going two for two on their releases this week.

If I had $15, I’d keep it all-ages, with their Explorer: Mystery Box anthology, edited by Kazu Kibuishi, who was also responsible for the Flight anthologies, so you know the talent lineup will be stellar. At $10.95, the paperback edition won’t break the bank, and it’s a good deal for 128 pages of full-color comics. That leaves just enough for issue #5 of Roger Langridge’s Snarked ($3.99).

If I had $30, I’d put Snarked back on the shelf and pick up another Abrams book with a more adult subject: My Friend Dahmer ($17.95 for the paperback). Derf Backderf went to school with Jeffrey Dahmer; one grew up to be a cartoonist, one became a serial killer. I’m always interested in how people evolve, and by all accounts, Backder’s story of the young Dahmer is fascinating.

Splurge: A big pile of manga! This is Viz’s big release week for comics stores, and they have a lot of worthy titles: Vol. 19 of Naoki Urasawa’s outstanding 20th Century Boys, vol. 6 of the lovely pseudo-historical shoujo drama The Story of Saiunkoku ($9.99), vol. 9 of the I-want-to-be-a-mangaka drama Bakuman ($9.99), and the first volume of a new series about a sassy girl in a new school, The Devil and Her Love Song ($9.99). There are some weeks when I can barely figure out how to spend any money at all, but between Abrams and Viz and BOOM!, this week really does bring an embarrassment of riches.

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Food or Comics? | A dollop of Defenders

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.

Action Comics #4

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d start with Image’s new anthology Thought Bubble Anthology #1 (Image, $2.99). That Becky Cloonan cover is great, and seeing that the book holds new shorts from Andy Diggle, Duncan Fegredo and others is enticing. Next up would be a DC three-pack: Swamp Thing #4 (DC, $2.99), Animal Man #4 (DC, $2.99), Action Comics #4 (DC, $3.99). DC really wins this week when it comes to my wallet, and these three books are becoming the key titles in the New 52.

If I had $30, I’d try out Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson’s Defenders #1 (Marvel, $3.99). While I was nonplussed by their previous collaboration in Uncanny X-Men, I remain high on other segments of their work and hope this one lives up to that potential. Next up would be X-Club #1 (Marvel, $2.99), based solely on this eclectic line-up. The X-Club was one of the few parts of the previously mentioned Fraction run on Uncanny X-Men I enjoyed, and I hope this mini makes them a more viable part of the universe long-term. Next up I’d get iZombie #20 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99) for the ongoing adventures of Roberson and Allred and Irredeemable #32. I’m really enjoying what Diego Barreto brings to the book, and Mark Waid continues to deliver.

If I could splurge, I’d get IDW’s collection of Mike Grell’s Shaman’s Tears maxi-series. This was one of the early Image titles, and gave me my first glimpse of Grell’s work and the potential for Image outside the original 7. As the series went on I ended up going back to track down Grell’s earlier work, but Shaman’s Tears holds a special place and I’m anxious to relive it without dusting off my longboxes.

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Food or Comics? | Everybody wants a piece of the Action

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.

Graeme McMillan

It’s a slow week, this week; if I had $15, I’d use it to catch up on some recent enjoyments like Action Comics #3 (DC, $3.99) and OMAC #3 (DC, $2.99), two of my favorite titles from the New 52 relaunch–OMAC in particular has been a really weird and wonderful joy–as well as the final issue of Marvel’s great and sadly underrated Mystic revival (#4, $2.99). I’d also see if the parody-tastic Shame Itself #1 (Marvel, $3.99) lives up to its potential, because “Wyatt Cenac + Colleen Coover” sounds pretty promising to these ears.

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What Are You Reading? with George O’Connor

The Incal

Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading. JK Parkin is off in San Diego trying to get that Elvis Stormtrooper’s autograph, so I’ll be your host today. Our special guest this week is George O’Connor.

O’Connor is probably best known as the author of the ongoing Olympians series of graphic novels, which attempt to retell classic Greek myths (the latest, Hera, just came out from First Second). He’s also the author of such books as Journey Into Mowhawk Country and the children’s picture book Kapow, as well as the artist of Ball Peen Hammer, which was written by Adam Rapp.

To see what George and the rest of the Robot 6 crew have been reading …

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Six by 6 | Six great science fiction comics

Our Love Is Real

As we noted a week ago, Sam Humphries and Steven Sanders self-published a science fiction comic called Our Love Is Real, which subsequently sold out in print in nine hours. A second print is on the way (that’s the cover you see to the right) and it’s still available digitally through their website or comiXology.

Humphries, a former Robot 6 guest contributor and my fellow panel member in San Diego next week, agreed to share a list of what he considers to be some of the great science fiction comics. Note that he chose not to use the words “best” or “favorite” to describe the list. “‘Favorite’ or ‘best’ implies more commitment than I’m ready to give,” he said.

So without further ado …

Six great science fiction comics, by Sam Humphries

1. AKIRA by Katsuhiro Otomo
A giant of science fiction, often imitated, never surpassed. At its heart is a tale of a bromance gone wrong, two best friends who carve their years of brotherhood and resentment across Tokyo, Japan, and the Moon. The anime adaptation is superlative, but the manga, sprawled across six thick volumes of meticulously drawn, hi-octane pages, is a true monumental achievement. I’ll be gunning for this No. 1 spot ’til I die. G.O.A.T.

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Comics A.M. | Why Marvel spoils stories in the media, Green Lantern lateness

Ultimate Spider-Man #160

Publishing | Arune Singh, Marvel’s director of communications, addresses how Marvel works with media outlets to break major storyline news and in many cases spoil the story, like Ultimate Spider-Man dying. Their goal is to hopefully bring lapsed or non-fans into stores: “When we line up this kind of mainstream media coverage, it’s offering the promise of breaking this big news to the outlet. It’s with the knowledge that they’ll be the ones making the headlines, being referenced by other sites and getting the attention. But if we wait till the story breaks or the Wednesday books go on-sale, someone else is going to buy the issue early in the morning and break the news. Is it possible that mainstream outlets will still pick up on the news then? Yes, it’s possible. But the only way to guarantee that big, sweeping placement worldwide — as you’ve seen with the Death of Spider-Man — is to break it before anyone has a chance. And that kind of placement is, as I mentioned above, what will get us attention from outside the industry.” [ComicsAlliance]

Retailing | Toronto retailer Chris Butcher worries about how well the two late Green Lantern movie prequel comics — one shipping this week, one shipping in August — will sell so long after the film’s release. He also discusses the lateness of the final issue of the War of the Green Lanterns crossover, which won’t come out until after the epilogue story in this week’s Green Lantern Emerald Warriors #11. [Comics212]

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

Batman Inc. #7

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 Mautner

If I had $15:

I’d pick up Batman Inc. #7 ($2.99) and that would be it, so afterwards I’d pat myself on the back for not blowing my whole $15.

If I had $30:

I’d go with Farm 54 ($25), a new hardbound collection of stories by the brother and sister team of Galit and Gilad Seliktar, courtesy of Fanfare/Ponent Mon. It’s basically a semi-autobiographical collection of tales capturing a young woman at various critical stages in her youth, adolescence and young adulthood, all done in a tentative, wispy watercolor. Lovely stuff to flip through, at the very least.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Rico Renzi

HeroesCon 2011

Not to mince words, HeroesCon is my San Diego. Scheduled for June 3-5 at the Charlotte Convention Center this year, I recently caught up with Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find Creative Director Rico Renzi, to discuss what to look forward to at HeroesCon 2011. Anyone that has read my past con reports knows how much I always enjoy this family friendly/comics focused con, and will not be surprised to learn I will be in attendance again this year. Thanks to Renzi for the interview and for giving us the scoop that  Farel Dalrymple is returning to the con this year. I was also enthused  to learn the con is trying a Friday night event this year, as well as introducing a new section of the convention floor devoted to comic strip creators.

Tim O’Shea: How are things shaping up with less than a month to go before the con, starting to panic? Planning-wise, how do you and Shelton Drum (con founder/organizer and owner of Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find) divvy up the heavy lifting of making this con happen?

Rico Renzi: HeroesCon is like breathing to Shelton so I’m pretty sure he’s not panicking. This is my first time doing anything like this so, yeah I think there’s some pressure on me. Maybe I get a pass since this is my first year though? Dustin Harbin has been a great help showing me the ropes on a few things, especially the floor plan. Deciding where everyone is going to sit seems like the hardest job to me right now. Aside from that we get great help from our warehouse manager, Seth Peagler. Whether I need someone to brainstorm with or edit my blog posts, Seth is my guy. Also, Andy Mansell has been instrumental in planning and coordinating our programming. These guys keep me sane!

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Your Wednesday Sequence 9 | Moebius

Upon A Star (1985), page 37. Moebius.

Of all the reams of beautiful comics made by the legendary French cartoonist Jean “Moebius” Giraud, I think this page is my personal favorite.  Moebius is one of the rare artists whose work becomes more and more interesting the further it goes from story content and straight depictive drawing.  His renditions of the human figure are flawless, and he’s one of the best designers comics have ever had, but his art reaches its greatest intensity and elegance when it’s at its simplest, presenting not futurist vistas or eye-popping creatures, but elemental forces, strong and simple.  Crystals, still skies, light projections; these transcendent subjects, not much suited to instigating story action but perfect for mesmerized contemplation, have inspired Moebius’s most transcendent drawings.

Moebius’s art always feels like it’s straining at the barriers of reality, negotiating the points where the way things really look meet the fundamental, cryptic forms to which his pen is best suited.  He’s a storyteller whose most potent skill is abstraction, and that’s why this sequence is such a perfect example of his work.  It’s got every facet of his drawing style prominently displayed: shimmering auras, softly psychedelic colors, smooth, laser-sculpted forms, an ebullient sense of movement, a thin, clean line whose delicacy is matched only by its immediacy.  Style itself becomes subject here.  It’s at least as easy to focus on the virtuosic level of craft Moebius brings to this page as it is the actual content, which is hermetic and mysterious, perhaps even downright incomprehensible.

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Comics A.M. | WonderCon attendance likely surpasses 39,000

WonderCon

Conventions | Although final figures aren’t yet available, WonderCon organizers confirm attendance likely surpassed the 39,000 fans who came to last year’s convention. [Publishers Weekly]

Publishing | On his always-interesting new blog, Jim Shooter reminisces about the genesis of Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars: “We went through a number of ideas for names for the toy line and series. Mattel’s focus group tests indicated that kids reacted positively to the words ‘wars’ and ‘secret.’ Okay.” [Jim Shooter]

Publishing | Longtime print broker Chikara Entertainment, which also offered book packaging and consulting services, has closed. [ICv2.com]

Retailing | Sarah Cohen provides a snapshot of South Florida comic stores struggling amid a weak economy and a changing marketplace. Some retailers have changed their strategies by diversifying their merchandise, holding events and reaching out to customers via the Internet. Others, however, prefer to do business the way they always have. “Making events and using social networking is pushy,” says Jorge Perez, owner of A&M Comics and Books in Miami. “It might help business, but then you would be on the computer all day doing stuff like that.” A&M, the oldest comic store in Florida one of the oldest in the nation, has seen business drop by about 40 percent since 2008. [Miami Herald]

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