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Comics A.M. | The re-poster dilemma; a look at digital-first initiatives

BearFood

Creators | In the wake of the FunnyJunk/The Oatmeal legal dispute, Ian Pike talks to San Diego-based webcomics creators David King and Phil McAndrew about the problem of having their work re-posted without credit. “If I were to sit there and try to hunt down all the websites that re-post my comics without my name on them,” McAndrew says, “I wouldn’t have any time to draw new stuff. So most of the time I just shrug my shoulders and keep on drawing.” One interesting sidelight is that Matthew Inman, the creator of The Oatmeal, has set up a site called BearFood where users can share their favorite webcomics with the appropriate links. [San Diego Reader]

Digital comics | Matt White surveys the digital-first landscape with a look at the strategies (or the lack thereof) from publishers ranging from DC Comics to Viz Media: “While the majority of digital comics are just digitized versions of print comics, available simultaneously (known as ‘day-and-date’) or after the physical version hits shelves, current digital-first offerings seem to represent an alternative, more specific market as publishers begin to treat digital more as a complement to print rather than a replacement.” [Publishers Weekly]

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Food or Comics? | Gyoza or Godzilla

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.

Conan the Barbarian #7

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, it’d be an eclectic bunch featuring Jesus clones, retired spec-ops workers, environmentalists and Batman. First up would be Punk Rock Jesus #2 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99), following Sean Murphy’s big-time foray into writing and drawing. Murphy’s delivering the art of his career, and while the story might not be as great as the art, it still has a synchronicity to the art that few other mainstream books have these days. After that I’d get Dancer #4 (Image, $3.50); Nathan Edmondson seemingly made his name on writing the spy thriller Who Is Jake Ellis?, and this one takes a very different view of the spy game – like a Luc Besson movie, perhaps – and Nic Klein is fast climbing up my list of favorite artists. After that I’d get Massive #3 (Dark Horse, $3.50), with what is disheartedly looking to be the final issue of artist Kristian Donaldson. No word on the reason for the departure, but with a great a story he and Brian Wood have developed I hope future artists can live up to the all-too-brief legacy he developed. Delving into superhero waters, the next book I’d get is Batman #12 (DC, $3.99), which has become DC’s consistently best book out of New 52 era. Finally, I’d get Anti #1 (12 Guage, $1). Cool cover, interesting concept, and only a buck. Can’t beat that.

If I had $30, I’d jump and get Creator-Owned Heroes #3 (Image, $3.99); man, when Phil Noto is “on” he’s “ON!” After that I’d get Conan te Barbarian #7 (Dark Horse, $3.50). I’ve been buying and reading this in singles, but last weekend I had the chance to re-read them all in one sitting and I’m legitimately blown away. The creators have developed something that is arguably better than what Kurt Busiek and Cary Nord started in 2003 and shoulder-to-shoulder with the great stories out of the ’70s. This new issue looks to be right up my alley, as Conan takes his pirate queen Belit back to his frigid homeland in search of a man masquerading as Conan. Hmm, $7 left. Any other Food or Comic-ers want to grab some grub?

If I could splurge, I’d excuse myself from the table dining with my fellow FoCers and get Eyes of the Cat HC (Humanoids, $34.95). I feel remiss in never owning this, so finally getting my hands on the first collaboration between Moebius and Alexandro Jodorowsky seems like a long time coming. I’m told its more an illustrated storybook than comic book, but I’m content with full page Moebius work wherever I can get it.

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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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Comics A.M. | Dave Thorne, ‘father of Hawaiian cartooning,’ dies

Dave Thorne

Passings | Dave Thorne, sometimes called the father of Hawaiian cartooning, has died at the age of 82. His most recent strip was Thorney’s Zoo, which ran in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Mark Evanier has a personal appreciation of Thorne and his love of Hawaii. [Honolulu Star-Advertiser]

Creators | Carl Barks once wrote, “Ninety-nine readers out of 100 think Walt Disney writes and draws all those movies and comic books between stints with his hammer and saw building Disneyland,” but for much of his career he was happy to remain anonymous and avoid the hassles that come with fame. Jim Korkis writes the fascinating story of how two fans got through the Disney wall of anonymity — and Barks’ own reticence — to figure out who Barks was and bring him into contact with his admirers. [USA Today]

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Previews: What Looks Good for August

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics.

Wait a minute … “monthly”?

It’s true that we haven’t taken a What Looks Good tour in a few months, but the feature is back with an all-new approach that we hope will be more varied and useful than the old format. Instead of Michael and Graeme just commenting on everything that catches our attention in the catalog, we’ve invited Chrises Mautner and Arrant to join us in each picking the five new comics we’re most looking forward to. What we’ll end up with is a Top 20 (or so; there may be some overlap) of the best new comics coming out each month.

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.

Love and Rockets: New Stories, Number 5

Chris Mautner

1) Love and Rockets New Stories #5 by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics) — How do you possibly top the triumphant storytelling feat that was “The Love Bunglers”? I dunno, but Jaime Hernandez is certainly going to give it the old college try, this time shifting the focus onto the vivacious “Frogmouth” character. Gilbert, meanwhile, brings back some of his classic Palomar characters, so yeah, this is pretty much a “must own” for me.

2) Skippy Vol. 1: Complete Dailies 1925-1927 by Percy Crosby (IDW) — Percy Crosby’s Skippy might well be the great forgotten comic strip of the 20th century. Extremely popular in its day, and a huge influence on such luminaries as Charles Schulz, the strip has largely been forgotten and the name conjures up little more than images of peanut butter. IDW’s effort to reacquaint folks with this strip might change that — the few snippets I’ve read suggest this is real lost gem.

3) The Voyeurs by Gabrielle Bell (Uncivilized Books) — Tom Kaczynski’s small-press publishing company drops its first major, “big book” release with this memoir from the always-excellent Gabrielle Bell. Collecting work from her series Lucky (and, I think, some of her recent minis), the book chronicles a turbulent five year period as she travels around the world. Should be great.

4) Godzilla: The Half Century War by James Stokoe (IDW) — I usually stay as far away from licensed books as possible, but there is one simple reason I’m including this comic in my top five: James Stokoe. Stokoe’s Orc Stain has quickly become one of my favorite serialized comics, and his obsession with detailing every inch of the page combined with his ability to incorporate significant manga storytelling tropes in his work convince me he can do a solid job chronicling the adventures of the big green lizard that spits radioactive fire.

5) Barbara by Osamu Tezuka (Digital Manga) — Speaking of manga, here’s one of the more noteworthy Kickstarter projects of recent years: Digital Manga’s attempt to bring the master’s saga of a famous author and the homeless, beautiful woman he takes in and assumes to be his literal muse. This is well regarded in many Tezuka fan circles as one of the cartoonist’s better adult stories, and I’m glad to see Digital willing to take a chance on bringing more Tezuka to the West. I’ll definitely be buying this. I should also note that Vertical will also be offering some Tezuka this month, namely a new edition of Adolph (originally published by Viz in the ’90s), here titled Message to Adolph but well worth checking out regardless of the title.

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Food or Comics? | Are you my mutton?

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.

Saucer Country #3

Graeme McMillan

If I had $15 this week, I’d pick up the third issues of what may be becoming my two favorite new series: Saga (Image, $2.99) and Saucer Country (DC/Vertigo, $2.99). The former is easily one of the most enjoyable, most packed books out there right now for me, with Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples firing on all cylinders with the two issues to date, whereas the latter has an enjoyably retro feel that reminds me of the earliest days of the Vertigo imprint in ways that I can’t quite put my finger on but love nonetheless.

If I had $30, I’d grab the new edition of Leviathan (Rebellion, $16.99), a collection of a 2000AD horror story by Ian Edginton and D’Israeli that the creators apparently described as “Agatha Christie meets Silent Hill” about a Titanic-esque cruise ship that disappears in the middle of the ocean, and ends up somewhere else … with no land in sight for more than two decades. Really looking forward to reading this one.

Should I suddenly find enough money down the back of my couch to splurge this week, then I’d hope to find the $29.99 I’d need for the Deadenders trade paperback (DC/Vertigo). I entirely missed the Ed Brubaker/Warren Pleece mod romance comic the first time around, so this collection of the entire series will be a welcome chance to make up for past mistakes.

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Read the FULL issue of 12-Gauge Comics’ Anti / The Ride FCBD flipbook

If you missed out on Free Comic Book Day or didn’t get a chance to grab a copy of every release, we can help you out with at least one of this year’s offerings. Courtesy of our friends at 12-Gauge Comics, we’re pleased to present their entire FCBD comic right here.

Their flipbook contained two stories, the first being Anti, by Walking Dead and Aliens producer Gale Anne Hurd, Gotham City Sirens writer Peter Calloway and artist Daniel Hillyard. Here’s a description:

Legendary producer Gale Anne Hurd (AMC’s THE WALKING DEAD, TERMINATOR, ALIENS) teams with 12-Gauge Comics to present the tale of Zachary, a faithless man forced to confront the reality that he’s the savior of the world. Chased by demons that have infiltrated earth disguised as humans, while grudgingly protected by demon-hunter Jordan, the journey for knowledge, survival and more begins here! Written by Peter Calloway (GOTHAM CITY SIRENS, BATMAN: JOKER’S ASYLUM) with a cover by industry legend Brian Stelfreeze (BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT), this special intro to ANTI #1 will not disappoint!

The first issue of Anti arrives in July and will cost a buck.

The second story is a continuation of 12-Gauge’s The Ride, this time by Nathan Edmondson of Grifter and Who Is Jake Ellis? fame, along with artist Paul Azaceta, who has worked on Amazing Spider-Man and Graveyard of Empires, among other titles. Here’s a description:

As an added bonus, the time is now for the highly anticipated return of THE RIDE in this special co-feature story! Writer Nathan Edmondson (Grifter, Who Is Jake Ellis?) and artist Paul Azaceta (The Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil) put the pedal to the metal when the acclaimed crime-anthology roars back into comic stores– leading directly into an all-new The Ride series!

Check out both stories after the jump.

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Edmondson and Klein prepare to dance this May

Dancer teaser

Both Image Comics and Nathan Edmondson sent over the above teaser for Dancer, the upcoming series by the writer of Who Is Jake Ellis?, The Activity and Grifter, as well as Nic Klein, the artist for Viking. The comic comes out in May and like a lot of Edmondon’s recent work, it looks like it falls into the spy thriller genre. This one is about retired assassin Alan Fisher and his ballerina companion, who must escape a ruthless sniper who stalks them through the streets of Milan. To survive and protect the love of his life, Alan will unravel the tapestry of the past he’s kept hidden and discover the killer’s impossible identity.

Speaking of The Activity, Edmondson and artist Mitch Gerads have been spending time with fans of the series on XBox Live, playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Check out the flyer after the jump for details on how to meet up with them online and kill some terrorist.

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12-Gauge Comics hits the road again with The Ride on Free Comic Book Day

The Ride

12-Gauge Comics is restoring the vehicle that helped put the company on the road, as they bring back The Ride as a part of their Free Comic Book Day offering for 2012.

For those not familiar with it, The Ride is an anthology series conceived by 12-Gauge president Keven Gardner that features various stories of murder and mayhem, with the unifying theme of a 1968 Camaro that appears in each story. Creators who worked on The Ride in the past include Chuck Dixon, Cully Hamner, Doug Wagner, Ron Marz, Jason Pearson, Brian Stelfreeze and many more. And now you can add Nathan Edmondson and Paul Azaceta to the list, as they prep the engine for a new The Ride series, a preview of which will appear alongside the Gale Anne Hurd-conceived Anti on FCBD.

Courtesy of 12-Gauge, here’s an exclusive look at the cover for The Ride by artist Andrew Robinson, and you can find a page from the book after the jump. Free Comic Book Day is May 5.

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Comics A.M. | FBI shuts down Megaupload file-sharing site

Megaupload

Legal | The U.S. Justice Department and the FBI on Thursday shut down the popular file-sharing site Megaupload, seized $50 million in assets and charged its founder and six others with running an international enterprise based on Internet piracy that’s cost copyright holders at least $500 million in lost revenue. The FBI has begun extradition proceedings in New Zealand to bring company founder Kim Schmitz, aka Kim DotCom, to the United States. He and three other associates are being held without bail until Monday, when they’ll receive a new hearing. Three others remain at large. They face a maximum of 20 years in prison.

News of the shutdown was met with retaliation by the hacker collective Anonymous, which attacked the websites of the Justice Department and the Motion Picture Association of America.

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Comics A.M. | St. Trinian’s cartoonist Ronald Searle passes away

Ronald Searle

Passings | British cartoonist Ronald Searle, best known as the creator of the fictional St. Trinian’s School, passed away Friday at a hospital near his home in southeastern France. He was 91. His spiky drawings of the wicked pupils of the girls school debuted in 1941 in Lilliput magazine, leading to five books and seven films. Searle, a Cambridge native, also co-authored (with Geoffrey Willans) the Molesworth book series. [Reuters]

Conventions | Four-day passes for New York Comic Con go on sale for $85 today at noon ET/9 a.m. PT. The event will be held Oct. 11-14 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City. [press release]

Conventions | Comiket, the world’s largest self-published comic book fair, drew a total of 500,000 people for its winter convention, held Thursday through Saturday at the Tokyo Big Sight in Japan. Held twice a year, in August and December, the event doesn’t use turnstiles or unique passes, so a visitor who attends all three days would be counted each time. [Anime News Network]

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‘Moving forward and creating new things’: Eric Stephenson on Image’s 2011 and 2012

Eric Stephenson

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Image Comics, the company formed by a group of artists who left the security of work-for-hire comics to create and own their own comics. It’s been 20 years of ups and downs, but one thing that has remained consistent is a focus on creator-owned work.

With 2011 in the history books and their big anniversary kicking off with the first Image Expo, a new ad campaign and high-profile series by big-name creators like Brian K. Vaughan, Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer and many more, I thought it was a good time to chat with Publisher Eric Stephenson about the state of the company, the year that was, their upcoming plans and anything else he was willing to talk about. My thanks to Eric for taking the time to answer my questions.

JK Parkin: Thanks for agreeing to do this interview, Eric. Incidentally, another feature we’re running as a part of our anniversary bash is one where we asked various comic industry folks about what they’re looking forward to in 2012. I got one back yesterday where the answer was basically “everything from Image Comics.” I find that interesting, because there’s a lot of diversity in Image’s line and although I think you guys probably publish something for every kind of taste, I wouldn’t think that every title would appeal to every comic reader. And yet I also find myself checking out at least the first issue of everything you guys have done lately. So from your perspective, what’s the unifying factor (or factors) right now among your titles, if there is one?

Stephenson: I think the main thing is that we’re moving forward and creating new things. We’re not content to just recycle the same old ideas month in and month out and then market it all as brand new. If this was another publisher, we’d be debuting our latest spin-off of The Walking Dead in March, but instead, we’re launching a new series by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, a new series by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra, a new series by Joe Keatinge and Andre Szymanowicz, and so on. For 20 years, Image has put its faith in creative people, and it’s the power of their imagination that links all our titles together, now more than ever.

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Chain Reactions | The Activity #1

The Activity #1

Image Comics released the first issue of The Activity a couple of weeks ago, by writer Nathan Edmondon and artist Mitch Gerads. The comic focuses on the U.S Army’s last secret special operations tribe, The Intelligence Support Activity, or Gray Fox. “Within Gray Fox is a team of elite men and women whose mission is flexible, whose technology is bleeding edge, and whose execution is precise and lethal. They are Team Omaha, and they serve The Activity.”

Edmondson has been making a name lately on espionage-fueled series like Grifter and Who Is Jake Ellis?, and with the second issue of The Activity due in a couple of weeks, I thought I’d go back and see what people thought of the first issue. Here are just a few of the reviews so far:

Brian Bannen, Unwinnable: “Buying a first issue of a new series can be a lot like gambling. Usually, you get a 50/50 chance of picking up a real stinker. The Activity, however, reads like Brian De Palma’s Mission Impossible. Nathan Edmondson (Olympus) pens the tale of an elite squad of military and civilian personnel, each with his or her own special talent. While their task still remains a secret, I enjoyed the spy-thriller feel Edmondson crafts and the uneasy resolution with which he leaves readers.”

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Preview: The Activity #2 by Edmondson and Gerads

The Activity

Courtesy of writer Nathan Edmondson (Grifter, Who Is Jake Ellis?), we’re pleased to present a preview of the second issue of The Activity, which goes on sale Jan. 11. Illustrated by Mitch Gerads and published by Image Comics, The Activity debuted this past week and focuses on the U.S Army’s last secret special operations tribe, The Intelligence Support Activity, or Gray Fox. Within Gray Fox is a team of elite men and women whose mission is flexible, whose technology is bleeding edge, and whose execution is precise and lethal. They are Team Omaha, and they serve The Activity.

“After the overwhelming response to issue #1, we’re primed to light the fuse on issue #2, out in just two weeks!” Edmondson said about the preview.

Check out the preview and solicitation text after the jump. You can read more about the series in CBR’s interview with Edmondson about the book.

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Comics A.M. | Comics market on the verge of a turnaround?

Action Comics #1

Comics | ICv2′s latest report on the comics market shows a mixed picture for monthly comics and graphic novels. While DC’s New 52 reboot has helped push comics sales, the graphic-novel versions of those comics won’t be out for months — and Amazon is gobbling up a larger and larger share of graphic novel sales, especially at the high end. And this is interesting: “Digital sales are growing as a percentage of the market, but apparently not at the expense of print sales. Retailers interviewed by ICv2 do not feel they’re losing sales to digital competition on DC’s day and date titles.” That seems to be more anecdote than data, but you would think retailers would be the first to notice a drop in sales. The report also includes lists of the top 10 properties in various categories. [ICv2]

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