Naoki Urasawa Archives | Robot 6 | The Comics Culture Blog

Naoki Urasawa imagines The Beatles 50th-anniversary Japan tour

beatles-social

Naoki Urasawa, creator of acclaimed manga “2oth Century Boys,” “Monster” and “Master Keaton,” has created a three-page story imagining a Beatles reunion concert 50 years after the Fab Four’s Japan tour.

The Beatles famously played the Budokan for five shows between June 30 and July 2, 1966.

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Comics A.M. | ComiXology adds new titles to Unlimited service

afterlife-with-archie

Digital Comics | ComiXology Unlimited, the “all you can eat” service offered by the digital platform comiXology, has announced some new additions that will debut on June 27. The new selections include Afterlife with Archie #1-3, Bee and Puppycat #1-4, vol. 1 of Katie Cook’s all-ages comic Gronk, Legends of Red Sonja #1-5, The Sixth Gun: Sons of the Gun #1-5, and vol. 1 of The Steve Ditko Archives. And a new publisher is joining the mix: Magnetic Press will debut on the service on June 27 with an array of comics that includes The Adventures of Basil & Moebius #1-4, Daomu: Complete Edition, Naja #1-2, and Poet Anderson #1. [ComiXology Unlimited]

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Comics A.M. | Accused Salt Lake Comic Con impostor gets new lawyer

The crowd at Salt Lake Comic Con 2015

The crowd at Salt Lake Comic Con 2015

Legal | Jonathon M. Wall, who pleaded guilty April 5 to a charge of impersonating a federal agent last fall in an attempt to get into the VIP room at Salt Lake Comic Con, has a new defense team — after the judge in the case threw out his plea and offered to help him find new counsel. U.S. District Judge Jill Parrish vacated Wall’s plea, saying she was concerned Wall didn’t understand the full implications of having a federal felony on his record. Wall had told her he was pleading guilty because prosecutors offered him a “slap on the wrist” if he did so. An employee at Hill Air Force Base, Wall showed his work ID convention security but claimed to be a federal agent who needed access to the VIP area because he was pursuing a fugitive. In addition to helping Wall find a new lawyer, Parrish recommended he be transferred to a newly established diversion program. [Standard Examiner]

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Comics A.M. | French publishers call for changes to Angouleme

Angoulême International Comics Festival

Angoulême International Comics Festival

Festivals | More than 40 French publishers, including all the major publishers of graphic novels, have signed on to a press release saying they won’t participate in next year’s Angouleme International Comics Festival without significant, fundamental changes in the way it’s run. The signatories include almost every publisher that was at this year’s festival. Guy Delcourt, head of Delcourt publishing and the president of the BD commission of the national publishers’ association, said there have been problems with the festival for a long time, and attendance has been dropping, but after this year’s omission of any female nominees for the Grand Prix and the unfunny fake awards ceremony, he is fed up with the whole thing. Delcourt stopped short of calling for executive director Franck Bondoux to resign, saying the problem is not with one individual but with the entire structure of the festival, which is overly complex and opaque. The publishers have asked the Minister of Culture to name a mediator to work with them to solve the problema and give the festival, in Delcourt’s words, “the governance it deserves.” [ActuaBD]

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Naoki Urasawa takes on ‘Godzilla’ for Legendary Pictures

godzilla-urasawa-cropped

Best known for his acclaimed manga Monster, 20th Century Boys and Pluto, Naoki Urasawa has now taken on the King of the Monsters with an exclusive print created for Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla. Unfortunately there’s no word yet on when, or if, the print will be available for sale.

Director Gareth Edwards’ franchise reboot has grossed $325 million worldwide in 12 days of release — and it hasn’t even opened yet in China (June 13) or Japan (July 25). A sequel, of course, is already in development.

North American readers will be seeing much more of Urasawa’s work this year, as Viz Media will release the Monster: The Perfect Edition omnibus series beginning in July, followed by the debut of his post-Cold War thriller Master Keaton in December.

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Best of 7 | Stan Sakai auctions, ‘Master Keaton’ and more

bestof7-march8

Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out.

This week we focus in on some great new comics, including Veil and Afterlife with Archie, as well as the benefit auctions for Stan Sakai and his wife. Plus free comics! What’s better than that? So without further ado, let’s get to it …

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Viz Media to publish Naoki Urasawa’s ‘Master Keaton’

master keaton1

Viz Media, which has already released Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, 20th Century Boys and Pluto is North America, is adding another work to the list: the post-Cold War thriller Master Keaton.

Produced with Hokusei Katsushika and Urasawa’s frequent collaborator Takashi Nagasaki, the detective drama centers on Taichi Hiraga-Keaton, an archeology professor and former member of the British Special Air Service whose skills serve him well as a rather unorthodox insurance investigator for Lloyd’s of London.

Master Keaton was originally serialized from 1988 to 1994 in Big Comic Original magazine, and inspired a 39-episode anime.

The 12-volume manga will debut in December as part of the Viz’s deluxe Signature imprint, with each $19.99 book featuring 18 pages of full-color art. Read the full announcement below.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Nick Dragotta on ‘East of West’

Panels from "East of West" #4

Panels from “East of West” #4

There are certain artists who prove that their work only gets better with each new project and new issue. Such is the case with Nick Dragotta on East of West, his new creator-owned ongoing series with Jonathan Hickman.

I relish any opportunity to interview Dragotta, particularly in the same week that East of West 5#. His ability to lay out some spectacular action scenes continues to be a given in this Image Comics series, but I have also grown to appreciate his ability to develop distinctive architecture as well as engaging, yet more sedate, scenes.

In addition to discussing East of West, Dragotta also brought me up to date on Howtoons, which we talked about in our first interview in 2011. As the father of a kid who loves do-it-yourself activities, I appreciate the involvement of the artist and his wife Ingrid in a project that fosters fun, educational activities for children. To learn he has gotten creator favorites of mine, such as Fred Van Lente (no stranger to educational entertainment), Jeff Parker and Sandy Jarrell involved is just icing on the DIY cake.

Back to East of West, the artist and I also got a chance to (hopefully) satiate Comics Should Be Good’s Greg Burgas’ curiosity regarding the East of West creative process that he broached in a recent essay on reviewing the art in comics. In addition, Dragotta was kind enough to share an unlettered page from East of West #5 as well as unlettered pages from issues 2 and 4. With the first trade (collecting issues 1-5) set for release on Sept. 11, we also discuss its potential impact on audience growth. Full candor: Dragotta blindsided me with his Rob Liefeld fan club confession. Seriously, though, it is refreshing to see a talent such as Dragotta reveling in the opportunity to do creator-owned work.

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Viz bringing back Urasawa’s ‘Monster’ with omnibus editions

monster-v1Viz Media announced over the weekend at Otakon in Baltimore that it will bring Naoki Urasawa’s acclaimed psychological thriller Monster back into print next year a two-in-one format. Anime News Network reports the new oversized omnibus series, called Monster: The Perfect Edition, will debut in July, with a new volume released every three months.

Originally released in North America from 2006 to 2008, the 18-volume manga, Monster tells the story of a young brain surgeon who ruins his own reputation by saving the life of a boy, only for the child to grow up to become a sociopath.

The series was adapted in 2004 as an anime; HBO and Guillermo del Toro are collaborating on a live-action version.

The new omnibus treatment will cut the number of volumes in half, which each retailing for $19.99. Viz will take the same approach with Rumiko Takahashi’s martial arts/romantic comedy Ranma ½, which will go back into print beginning in March.

Comics A.M. | Digital’s role in ‘resuscitating’ comics industry

comiXology

comiXology

Digital comics | Financial-services company The Motley Fool touches upon how digital has helped to boost the comics industry, rather than undermine print sales as some predicted it would. “Digital has not to anyone’s observation pirated the sales of comics. It looks like just the opposite,” writer and charts-watcher John Jackson Miller tells the website. And then, because it’s The Motley Fool, the story veers off into what investors can learn from digital comics — specifically, “three forces [that] conspired to transform digital from a threat into a catalyst”: quality, format and access. [The Motley Fool]

Creators | Brian K. Vaughan talks about producing the CBS sci-fi thriller Under the Dome and writing Saga as well as his digital comic The Private Eye. His take on Saga: “I definitely wanted to write about the experience of fatherhood and parenthood while also recognizing that’s extremely boring for most people. How do you talk about these mundane topics in an exciting way? Hopefully setting this story in a wacky sci-fi fantasy universe has given us room to tell this story with some visual spectacle and just Fiona Staples being awesome.” [USA Today]

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Vertical asks the fans: What manga would you like to see?

Vertical Inc. is a small publisher with an eclectic line. If someone says “I don’t read manga, except for X,” X will more often than not turn out to be a Vertical book (and over half the time, it’s Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha). In addition to a long list of Tezuka titles (Ode to Kirihito, Dororo, A Message to Adolf), the company has also published some classic and modern sci-fi (To Terra, 7 Billion Needles), the wine-tasting manga Drops of God, Moyoco Anno’s geisha story Sakuran, and the cute cat manga Chi’s Sweet Home, which is probably its bestseller.

So what’s next? Vertical marketing director Ed Chavez, a former blogger himself, often teases new licenses on Twitter, but earlier this month he went further and posted a survey asking fans what titles they would like to see licensed for summer 2013 release. It’s an impressive list that includes Billy Bat, the new manga by Naoki Urasawa (Monster, Pluto, 20th Century Boys), Coppers by Natsume Ono (not simple, House of Five Leaves) and March Comes in Like a Lion by Chika Umino (Honey and Clover), as well as Usamaru Furuya’s Our Light Club, which I assume is a followup to his Lychee Light Club, previously published by Vertical.

Equally interesting is the list of the types of titles Vertical won’t consider, which gives an idea of the publisher’s editorial direction as well as the constraints under which it operates: no adult manga, doujinshi (fan comics) or webcomics; no titles released before 2000; and no manga from the publishers Shueisha or Shogakukan (the parent companies of Viz Media, which gets the lion’s share of their output) or Akita Shoten.

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Food or Comics? | Wonton soup or Womanthology

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.

20th Century Boys, Volume 22

Chris Arrant

If I only had $15, I’d walk out a happy camper despite only having one book, because that book is 20th Century Boys, Vol. 22 (Viz, $12.99). While your typical American comics fan may have no idea who Naoki Urasawa is, he is in my mind undoubtedly the best cartoonist working today. Twenty-two books in and he hasn’t let up, delivering comics’ example of long-run storytelling perfection a la Sopranos. Friend is one of the most terrifying villains I’ve seen in comics in some time, and the mad assemblage of childhood pals out to stop him are some of my most treasured fictional friends.

If I had $30, I’d come back to comic stores on an American tip, starting off with Godzilla: Half Century War #2 (IDW Publishing, $3.99) by James Stokoe. I missed this when the first issue came out, but since then I’ve found it and relished its pure cartooning chaos. The first issue was an ideal debut, and I’m interested to see Stokoe take Lt. Murakami to Vietman in the ’60s for the ongoing war on Godzilla. After that I’d get the satisfying chunk, Dark Horse Presents #16 (Dark Horse, $7.99). I’ve been repeating the same praises every month, so let me try to spin it differently. This new issue, I have little idea what’s in it besides the return of Crime Doesn’t Pay; there’s a new series by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray in it I have heard nothing about, but DHP has re-built its track record of excellence and I’m fine spending $7.99 sight unseen. My final pick would be Daredevil #18 (Marvel, 2.99). Chris Samnee is quite different than the original artists on the book, but is excelling with Mark Waid in a new way — and that’s good. Instead of aping what had gone before, Samnee assuredly gives us his own style that would make any true fan of art in comics smile.

Oh ,wait, I found some money. I know, I’ll buy Memorial, Vol. 1 (IDW, $24.99). I missed this in singles, and this hardcover looks like the perfect chance to me to make up for past mistakes. These covers by Michael WM Kaluta really get my heart beating, and I’ve been wanting to read more of Chris Roberson on his own. The preview on IDW’s website gives me the impression it’s got down-to-earth personality amidst a fantasy world, and reminds me of classic supernatural fiction like A Wrinkle in Time or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

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Comics A.M. | Sergio Toppi dies; what makes Spider-Man special

Sergio Toppi self-portrait

Passings | Italian comics artist Sergio Toppi has died at the age of 79. Most of his work seems to have been in Italian and French, but Archaia has plans to publish an English-language edition of his version of the Arabian Nights, Sharaz-De. [The Beat, Archaia]

Comics | Brian Truitt marks Spider-Man’s 50th anniversary by talking to creators from Stan Lee to Brian Michael Bendis about the 10 traits that make the web-slinger special. On a related note, Complex runs down the 50 most iconic Spider-Man images. [USA Today]

Publishing | If you’re interested in self-publishing, Todd Allen’s latest article about Ingram’s new, lower-cost color print-on-demand service is a must-read. Allen does the math for several different scenarios, in terms of format and distribution method, and boils it down into several handy charts. [Publishers Weekly]

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What Are You Reading? with Alex Zalben

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our special guest this week is Alex Zalben, who blogs about comics for MTV Geek and has written a few himself–including the webcomic Detective Honeybear.

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

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Previews: What Looks Good for October

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. Michael, Graeme, and Chris Arrant have each picked the five new comics we’re most anticipating in order to create a Top 15 of the best new comics coming out two months from now.

As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.

The Golden Age of DC Comics: 1935-1956

Graeme McMillan

The Golden Age of DC Comics: 1935-1956 HC (Taschen, $59.95): If you were as jealous of everyone who could afford the mammoth 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Myth-Making from a couple of years ago as I was, here’s some great news; Taschen is reissuing the material in a series of different (cheaper) volumes, reworked and expanded with new art and commentary by Paul Levitz. The next in the series, covering the Silver Age, is the one I’ll really covet, but you know that this will be awesome.

Julio’s Day HC (Fantagraphics Books, $19.99): Continuing my education in all things Love and Rockets, this never-collected Gilbert Hernandez strip from the second series of L&R is one of those things that goes on my “Want” list almost as soon as I discovered it existed.

Multiple Warheads: Alphabet to Infinity #1 (of 4) (Image Comics, $3.99): I’ve been waiting for more Multiple Warheads since Oni Press put out the first issue a few years back. Now that I know it’s 48 pages for just $3.99 and in color, it seems worth the wait. Brandon Graham is an amazing talent.

Sailor Twain HC (First Second, $24.99): I dropped off Mark Siegel’s amazing webcomic online fairly early, promising myself that I’d get the inevitable collected edition when it was all done and read it in one sitting. I’m glad it’s finally here.

The Zaucer of Zilk #1 (of 2) (IDW Publishing, $3.99): Without doubt, my favorite superhero comic in years – I read it in its 2000AD incarnation – I am overjoyed to see this get a US release like this. Hopefully, everyone will read it and realize just how great Brendan McCarthy and Al Ewing are, leading to all manner of zequels (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

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