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SDCC ’13 | Thursday programming schedule released

comic-conWhile many of us were enjoying our holiday, Comic-Con International organizers were busy releasing the programming schedule for Thursday, July 18, the first full day of the San Diego convention. The rundown for Friday, July 19 should come along early this afternoon.

As we’ve come to expect, Thursday’s lineup is a healthy mix of comics, television, toys, fantasy and film (although light on the latter, which take center stage on Friday and Saturday). The comics programming includes panels from Avatar Press, Bongo Comics (it’s the publisher’s 20th anniversary), BOOM! Studios, Dark Horse, DC Entertainment, Kodansha Comics, Marvel, Monkeybrain Comics (it’s that publisher’s first anniversary), TwoMorrows, Vertigo, Viz Media and Warp Comics.

However, that’s only for starters, as there are spotlights on Chris Samnee, Jeff Smith, J.H. Williams III, Dan Parent and Gary Frank, The Walking Dead‘s 10th-anniversary panel, and discussions about digital comics, gender in comics, LGBT webcomics and much, much more.

Check out some of the comics-related highlights below, and visit the Comic-Con website for the full schedule:

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Talking Comics with Tim | Gabriel Hardman on ‘Kinski’

Kinski

Kinski

When artist Gabriel Hardman isn’t drawing comics, he’s drawing for movies. His affinity for films manifests itself in several ways, including his willingness to share his film knowledge via Twitter. Beginning May 15, that love of movies will be partially reflected in his new Monkeybrain Comics project Kinski (available for preorder).

It’s the story of a fellow who finds a dog, and the events that unfold from there. This project is a departure for Hardman, who acknowledges Kinski has “much more of a quirky, indie vibe than any of the other comics I’ve done prior. Coen Brothers-esque.” Hardman with a Coen Brothers bent served as great fuel for my questions (and while he initially referenced the Coen Borthers, in our discussion he’s quick to also cite Martin Scorsese’s After Hours and the Terrence Malick-written Pocket Money as influencing elements).

Tim O’Shea: In tackling a story that is a quirky departure from your normal fare, how did you settle upon making a dog the main catalyst of your story?

Gabriel Hardman: I like the idea of using a dog to spark the story because animals are chaotic. They don’t have the same set of social rules to adhere to as we do. Dogs don’t care about our problems! They can send the story off into unexpected directions. But even though Joe, the lead character, finding the dog starts the story, he’s using the dog as an excuse to ignore other things in his life he’s having problems with. Mainly his unfulfilling job as a bird feed rep. He decides he’s going to save this dog, no matter the cost. It’s a crusade! But crusades usually don’t turn out so well.

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Conversing on Comics with Chris Roberson

HEADER Chris Roberson

Chris Roberson has been thinking what comic writers are supposed to do in comics. While many creators follow the usual trajectory of creator-owned projects to Marvel or DC, the Portland, Oregon-based writer went from the Big Two and found his true calling, making his own comics and helping others to do the same.

A science fiction author, Roberson was ushered into comics as a colleague and co-writer of Fables creator Bill Willingham. However, Roberson quickly branched out, first with the Vertigo series iZombie, and then as the writer of Superman, putting him in the unenviable position of picking up the pieces after J. Michael Straczynski left midway through his much-heralded run. Although he turned in some great work in his short run on Superman/Batman, Roberson ultimately found DC not the kind of place he wanted to continue working.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Dennis Culver on ‘Edison Rex’

Edison Rex

Edison Rex

Several weeks ago when I interviewed Edison Rex co-creator Chris Roberson, we had hoped to include co-creator Dennis Culver in the discussion. Schedules didn’t work out at the time, but happily, on the eve of the deadline to pre-order the Edison Rex trade paperback (Diamond Code APR130377), Culver’s schedule freed up for an interview about his co-creation.

As if collecting the Edison Rex issues 1-6 isn’t enough to interest you in this IDW Publishing release, Roberson and Culver have scored an introduction by the great Kurt Busiek. The collection will hit shelves June 12.

Tim O’Shea: How did the IDW publishing deal come together?

Dennis Culver: That was all [Monkeybrain Comics co-publishers] Chris [Roberson] and Allison [Baker]. From what I understand, IDW had expressed an interest in print collections fairly early in the Monkeybrain launch, and I was on board as soon as I heard. They gave us a fair deal and they put out great looking books. I’m very happy to publish Rex through them!

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Eisner-nominated ‘Bandette’ offering first issue for free

bandette1a

To celebrate the four Eisner Award nominations for Paul Tobin and Colleen Cover’s Bandette — Best New Series, Best Digital Comic, Best Penciler/Inker and Best Coloring — Monkeybrain Comics is offering the first issue for free on comiXology through the entire voting period.

The series, which debuted in July, follows a costumed thief who gleefully leads a group of urchins through the streets of Paris, serving on the side of justice, except when an old-fashioned heist proves too fun to resist. Bandette is every bit as entertaining as it sounds.

On Monday, ROBOT 6 debuted a preview of Bandette #4, which goes on sale today through comiXology.

Talking Comics with Tim | Peter Krause on return of ‘Insufferable’

Insufferable

Insufferable

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.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Chris Roberson on ‘Edison Rex’

Edison Rex

Edison Rex

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.

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Cheat Sheet | From ‘Age of Ultron’ to Toronto Comicon

cheat-sheet-march-4

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).

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Conversing on Comics with Dan Goldman

COC Dan Goldman

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.

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Monkeybrain’s digital comics are heading to print

monkeybrain-collections

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!”

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Curt Pires gets inventive with Theremin

Theremin

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.

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Digital primed for greater influx of new readers in 2013

Digital Comic - fortified with Kirby crackle!

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.

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Comics A.M. | Tokyo’s Comiket to lose $117,900 due to threat letter

Kuroko’s Basketball

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]

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Masks and Mobsters creators donating proceeds from latest issue to Red Cross

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.

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The Middle Ground #134 | The promise of things to come

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.

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