Hard to believe, but this month marks four years since I first interviewed artist Peter Krause about his return to comics. More immediately, today marks the return of Mark Waid and Peter Krause’s Insufferable at Thrillbent 2.0 with a new arc, “On the Road.” Through Thrillbent 2.0, Insuffereable: On The Road is free to view and download or embed — there are plenty of ways to enjoy the somewhat reconciled father-son team of Nocturnus and Galahad (seemingly led by the smarter than both of them, Meg). In addition, there are bundled editions of the first Insufferable arc (with extras) for sale at comiXology.com.
Tim O’Shea: How did Mark Waid convince you to try working in a then-relatively new medium like digital comics on Insufferable?
Peter Krause: The main attraction was that I’d get to keep working with Mark. I really valued the time we’d spent on Irredeemable for BOOM! I stepped away from that book because of time constraints — I was doing non-comics work that was making it harder to bring an “A” game to Irredeemable.
Last week was a banner one for Monkeybrain Comics, as plans were revealed to “bring its digital titles to print beginning in June in collected editions released through IDW Publishing and Shadowline/Image.” But before this deal was announced I caught up with Chris Roberson, the writer of Edison Rex and co-publisher of Monkeybrain.
This interview was conducted before the IDW and Shadowline/Image agreements were announced, which is why they’re not discussed. Edison Rex #6 will be released March 13. Roberson is great to chat with about the creative process, as he relishes revealing how the narrative hot dogs are made almost as much as creating the stories themselves. The world that Roberson and co-creator/artist Dennis Culver had built for the series fascinates me, and it was a pleasure to chat with the writer about it.
Tim O’Shea: As much as this series is about a villain becoming a hero, there’s a great undercurrent of humor. Is that the core appeal of the series from a creative standpoint?
Chris Roberson: I always like a little levity in the stories I read or the shows I watch. When stories maintain a consistently grim tone, it can be a little wearying. Adding in a joke here and there not only serves to lighten the mood from time to time, but also makes the more serious moments stand out by contrast.
Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. Below you’ll find a breakdown of the big announcements that came out of this weekend’s Emerald City Comicon, our contributors’ picks for the comics of the week — from Age of Ultron to Al Capp — and the top events to look for in the next seven days (hint: convention season is fully under way).
Location, location, location. It’s said those are the three important things when it comes to real estate, and cartoonist Dan Goldman knows that more than just about anyone.
Born in Detroit, raised in Miami and coming of age in New York City, Goldman spent the past few years living in São Paulo, Brazil, before returning late last year to New York. A longtime proponent of digital comics, he was among the founders of Act-I-Vate, and launched his current comic series Red Light Properties in 2010 on the website of book publisher Tor. But recently Goldman decided to hitch his boxcar to a different train when he jumped to upstart digital publisher Monkeybrain Comics to continue his 300-plus page run on that title.
Red Light Properties is all about location (location, location), but in a supernatural sense, as it follows a Miami real estate agency whose specialty is to survey, repair and re-sell distressed homes. But these aren’t your normal condos; they’re possessed by the ghosts of dead former tenants. Jude Tobin, the man behind RLP, is a clairvoyant whose powers only come to life when he’s “under the influence,” so to speak, and his associated family and busniess partner have to deal with his problems while also handling their own. It’s as if William S. Burroughs wrote Ghost Whisperer, but you know, with even more hallucenigenics.
I reached out to Goldman to find out more about this new era for Red Light Properties, but also to get his perspective on being an American cartoonist living with Brazil, and the story that took him there and brought him back.
Monkeybrain Comics will bring its digital titles to print beginning in June in collected editions released through IDW Publishing and Shadowline/Image. Launched in July 2012 by Monkeybrain founders Chris Roberson and Allison Barker, the digital imprint has so far distributed its creator-owned comics exclusively through comiXology.
The print editions will kick off with the IDW collection of Edison Rex, Roberson and Dennis Culver’s story about the world’s greatest villain who must figure out what to do with his life after he defeats his arch-nemesis. That will be followed in July by the Shadowline/Image collection of Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson’s superhero-noir anthology Masks & Mobsters. The initial wave of collections will conclude in August with the IDW release of Amelia Cole and the Unknown World, the fantasy from Adam P. Knave, D.J. Kirkbride and Nick Brokeshire. More collections announcements are promised in coming months.
“Print collections have been a main goal from the beginning and it’s really exciting to see such a major piece of the plan fall into place,” Baker said in a statement, “especially since it means even more people get to discover the amazing work of our creators!”
My brain always shifts toward musical thoughts whenever possible. So when I learned Curt Pires was writing a story called Theremin, I assumed he meant the musical instrument. As I found out quite quickly in this interview, Pires’ new collaboration with artist Dalton Rose is focused on the inventor of the instrument, Léon Theremin. The series is slated to launch digitally from Monkeybrain Comics in March.
Robot 6: When we last spoke in September, you said your game plan for Theremin was that you intended to self-distribute it. How did it land at Monkeybrain?
Curt Pires: Initially my game plan was to self-distribute Theremin, correct. Well, It really developed out of talking with Dalton, discussing our plans for the book. We decided that we should sample the book to potential publishers, at least put feelers out there – see what the interest was in the book. We sent the first six pages and plot info over to Chris Roberson and Allison Baker at Monkeybrain, and they liked what they saw enough to invite us aboard to tell our story there. We could not be happier to be telling this story with them.
As we finish off Year Five of digital comics (depending on how you count things), the distribution method is positioned to bring in a continually growing sector of new readers.
comiXology, the market leader, is ending 2012 as the third highest-grossing app of the year for the iPad. That’s up from the 10th spot last year, which is even more remarkable when you consider virtually no other app made an appearance on both lists. I can’t imagine that could be accomplished strictly with purchases from direct-market customers crossing over to digital. And when you take into account that direct-market sales have also been improving, that couldn’t happen even if every reader in comics got a big raise this year and was buying both digital and print copies. Worst-case scenario, we’re winning back lapsed readers. But mixed within those two groups (current and lapsed/returning readers) has to be a third, even if only a small percentage at this time. It seems too good to be true but it’s becoming more and more likely that the elusive new reader is being reached.
As digital sales continue to grow (“getting close to 25 to 30% of print sales,” for Robert Kirkman), several elements are in place, or just about in place, that could be creating a perfect storm to increase that new readers section of the pie.
Conventions | Japan’s Comic Market (aka Comiket), the world’s largest convention dedicated to self-published comics, stands to lose about $117,900 because of a decision to bar artist groups (“circles”) dedicated to the manga Kuroko’s Basketball following a threat letter. Organizers are refunding entrance fees to about 900 Kuroko’s Basketball circles that registered for the Dec. 29-31 event, and must help pay for increased security in cooperation with local police and the Tokyo Big Sight complex. Since October, letters containing powdered and liquid substances have been sent to more than 20 locations linked to Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki. At least six Kuroko’s Basketball doujinshi events have been canceled. [Anime News Network]
Even the mob can get into the spirit of the season.
Today sees the release on on comiXology of Masks and Mobsters #5 , the latest issue of the digital series by Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson. Not only does it feature a special holiday story, but the creators are also being awesome and donating everything they make off the issue to charity. Henderson and Williamson (who shared with us on Sunday what he’s been reading) were kind enough to answer some of my questions about the series and their plans for this special issue, as well as reveal a whole bunch of art.
As 2012 draws to a close, the holiday season is now officially in full swing, and that means it’s time to think about the next year, and also maybe get a little greedy in the process. With all that in mind, here are five random things that I’d like to see from 2013′s comic books.
Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at the comics, books and other things we’ve been perusing of late. Our guest today is Tyler James (@tylerjamescomic), the publisher of ComixTribe, which is both an online resources for comic creators and a new creator-owned imprint. Tyler is also the writer of the superhero murder mystery The Red Ten, which goes on sale Dec. 19, and the organizer of the annual 30 Characters Challenge, in which writers and artists attempt to create 30 characters in just 30 days, one for every day in November (it’s under way now at 30characters.com).
Here’s what Tyler and the Robot 6 crew are reading this week:
Writer and publisher Chris Roberson, who’s emerged over the past six months as a vocal advocate for creators’ rights, announced this morning that his Monkeybrain Comics will donate all of its income from November to The Hero Initiative, the industry organization dedicated to helping creators in need.
While creators releasing comics through Monkeybrain’s recently launched digital-comics initiative will still receive their portion of profits, the publisher’s cut will go to the charity.
“There are far too many stories of well-respected, talented writers and artists who created successful and beloved comics in previous decades, and who now are living in reduced means — unable to afford health care, unable to find paying work, some even homeless,” Roberson, who co-founded Monkeybrain in 2001 with his wife Allison Baker, wrote in an open letter. “At the same time, characters created and co-created by many of these same creators have gone on to appear in major motion pictures, on television, and in toy aisles. The American comic book industry was built on selling morality tales to young readers, stories of men and women who fought for justice and stood up for what was right. And the writers, artists, and others who created those stories deserve better than they have received. Thankfully, they have the Hero Initiative in their corner.”
Monkeybrain’s digital lineup includes Bandette by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover, Edison Rex by Roberson and Dennis Culver, Thoughts on a Winter Morning by Kurt Busiek and Steve Lieber, and Aesop’s Ark by J. Torres and Jennifer L. Meyer. The comics can be purchased on the publisher’s website, or on comiXology.
Read Roberson’s full letter below:
Ahead of the Oct. 31 release of Amelia Cole and the Unknown World #4 from Monkeybrain Comics, artist Nick Brokenshire has provided ROBOT 6 with a look at his process for creating Page 4 of that issue. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, by Brokenshire, writers Adam P. Knave and D.J. Kirkbride, and letterer Rachel Deering, the first three issues are available on comiXology.
A wee while back, my friends Adam and DJ asked me if I fancied doing a process diary-type thing for Comic Book Resources. I was surprised because I am a new artist in the wondrous world we know collectively as “comics.” Of course, what with our book being picked up by Monkeybrain and put out on comiXology, I said yes. We are obviously in the business of drawing attention to our work so that we can sell copies which in turn will allow us to make more comics. … But that isn’t the real reason that I want to share this little snapshot of the way we do things. The main reason for me is: love of the process. Even as an unknown, I relish the chance to share the little I have learned with anyone that may enjoy or benefit from this information.
A few years back while I was training to be a high-school art teacher (which is what I do as a day job now), I stumbled upon the revelation that the only way to achieve anything is by starting. I had been drawing comics characters and chopped-up bits of comics but never managed to finish anything. Then, upon listening to the experiences of professionals on podcasts like Word Balloon and Art and Story, as well as interviews on blogs and magazines, the same little snippet of advice kept popping out: start. Start to write and start to draw. After you start, don’t stop. Even when you don’t think the work is that good, don’t stop. That’s the only way to get better. So I started and I think I’m getting better. I’m a long way from being as good as my heroes, but I’ve made a start. So, for those of you who want to make comics, whether you dream of super-stardom or like me, just like to tell stories, here’s a brief breakdown of the process I go through to make comics. Hope it helps you start.
If you enjoyed the first two chapters of Bandette, Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover’s charming digital comic from Monkeybrain Comics, and need a fix until the next installment is released, here’s some good news: the Monkeybrain website has posted a two-page preview of Bandette: Urchin Stories, which will feature short tales of her supporting cast.
The complete two-page story, written by Tobin and drawn by the great Steve Lieber, stars “the most harassed police inspector of all time,” B.D. Belgique. Enjoy!
One of the clearcut hits from the first wave of Monkeybrain Comics digital line is Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover‘s Bandette, a great mixture of Tintin and Nancy Drew-type adventure. Today marks the release of Issue 2 – for the great price of 99 cents – where (as you can see by the preview CBR ran yesterday) Bandette foils a bank robbery in her own unique way.
To help get people as riled as I am for today’s release, I recently barraged Coover and Tobin with a series of questions. As a longtime fan of Tobin’s run on Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man, it pleased me immensely that Tobin is building somewhat upon the Blonde Phantom/Chat substories/genre he explored in the former series. I also appreciate a turn of phrase that Tobin used (“zest for life”) in discussing the new digital collaboration with Coover. I think zest for life is a quality that fuels Coover’s art.
In addition to the digital Issue 2 coming out today, on Saturday Coover will be at the Jet City Comic Show in Seattle. My thanks to Coover and Tobin for their time.