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What Are You Reading? with Marc Singer

Action Comics #5

Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading. Our guest today is Marc Singer, author of the very excellent book, Grant Morrison: Combining the Worlds of Contemporary Comics, which is an excellent, excellent book that you should read if you’re at all interested in Morrison and his work.

To find out what Singer and other members of the Robot 6 crew are reading this week, simply click on the link below.

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Six by 12 | 12 comics to look forward to in 2012

Are You My Mother?

With 2012 still fresh and new, it seems like as good a time as any to look at various publishing companies’ plans for the year ahead and pick out what looks good, or at least interesting. Because the year looks to be filled with so many delights, I decided to double down and offer not just six but 12 comics I’m really looking forward to reading. Obviously this list is reflective of my own, indie-slanted interests, so feel free in the comments section to tell me what a dope I am for forgetting about Book X by Artist Y.

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Six by 6 | The six most criminally ignored books of 2011

Salvatore Vol. 2

It’s time once again for our annual look at six books that were, for whatever reason, unjustly ignored by the public and critical cognoscenti at large. With all the titles that are published lately, it’s no real surprise that some books fall through the cracks, though in certain cases it seems grossly unwarranted.

After the jump are six books that, while they may not have made my “best of 2011″ list, I think got nowhere near the amount of attention they deserved. There are lots more that I could include if I had the time. I’m sure there are books you read this year that you don’t think got enough praise either. Be sure to let me know what they are in the comments section.

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Rick Geary sets the scene

Rick Geary shares some pencils from the next volume in his Treasury of 20th Century Murder series. This one takes as its subject the double murder of Rev. Edward Hall and Mrs. Eleanor Mills in New Brunswick, NJ, in 1922. What’s interesting is how just the frontispiece and two maps present so much information in such a compact form. I know absolutely nothing about this murder, but now that I have a few glimpses, I’m looking forward to reading the book and finding out who the victims were (obviously married, but not to each other) and what the significance is of the crab-apple tree.

Korean publishers woo overseas licensors

ICv2 has an interesting report from the Bucheon International Comics Festival (Bicof) in Bucheon, South Korea. Korea is an interesting case because it actually has a government agency, the Korea Manhwa Contents Agency, dedicated to promoting the nation’s comics industry, and indeed, the manhwa (Korean comics) market is worth about U.S. $32.6 million for a population of 49 million.

While a number of American companies publish licensed manhwa, they usually don’t brand it as such. Tokyopop and Central Park Media started bringing it over in the mid-2000s to supplement their manga lines, which led many fans to dismiss it as an inferior version of manga. I remember sitting in the CPM panel at NYCC in February 2007, when CPM managing director John O’Donnell asked the crowd of mostly manga and anime fans what they thought about manhwa. Hoots of derision echoed off the concrete walls as fans ticked off the things they hate about manhwa, weak art and fractured storytelling looming large among them.

But that had a lot to do with the selection available; at that time, most of the manhwa available in English were second-string genre titles, and a lot of them did look like crappy imitations of manga. What’s more, people didn’t have a sense of manhwa the way they do of manga; the highest-profile manhwa property in the U.S. is probably Tokyopop’s Priest, especially since the movie came out this year, but people don’t necessarily know it’s Korean. Tokyopop made a good try by publishing a number of manhwa by Hee Jung Park that could hold their own in any selection of American indy comics, but they never found their audience, which is a shame. And no discussion is complete without a mention of Bride of the Water God, the beautifully drawn but oft-delayed series published by Dark Horse.

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Previews: What Looks Good for October

Spera, Volume 1

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes, and first issues so that I don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “Jeff Lemire’s Frankenstein is still awesome!” every month. And I’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.

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

Archaia

The Grave Doug Freshley – A lot of publishers are doing Weird Western comics lately and that’s just fine with me.

Spera, Volume 1 – I like the sound of this fairy tale in which a couple of princesses combine efforts to save their kingdoms. It’s not that I’m anti-prince, but that’s a cool, new way to do that story.

Avatar

Captain Swing and the Electrical Pirates of Cindery Island – Warren Ellis doing Steampunk sounds thrilling, but really all they had to say was “pirates.” I bet this is still really good though, even if you’re pickier than I am.

Boom!

Roger Langridge’s Snarked #1 – After a well-loved zero-issue, Langridge’s version of Wonderland gets its real, official start.

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SDCC Wishlist | Aspen variants, Rick Geary and more

The massive Comic-Con International runs July 21-24 in San Diego, but it’s never too early to start planning your shopping list. So we’ll be running a list of potential “wishlist” items you may want to check out at the show.

If you are a comics creator or publisher, and you’re planning to bring something new to the con — a sketchbook, a print, a graphic novel debut, etc. — then we want to hear from you. Drop me an email at jkparkin@yahoo.com and let me know if you’ll have something cool on hand that attendees should know about. Feel free to send any artwork as well.

*****
Aspen Comics sends word of two variant covers they’ll have at the show, for Executive Assistant Iris and Charismagic

Executive Assistant Iris by Joe Benitez

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Comics A.M. | Borders bankruptcy looms; ‘Mystery Men’ trademark issues?

Borders

Retailing | Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg reports that Borders Group may file for bankruptcy protection as early as next week. Additionally the struggling book chain, the second-largest in the United States, will likely close at least 150 of its 500 remaining namesake stores. Company stock plunged in the wake of the news. A Borders spokeswoman declined comment, but referred to a Jan. 27 statement from President Mike Edwards in which he raised “the possibility of an in-court restructuring.” [Bloomberg]

Legal | Rich Johnston and retailer news and analysis site ICv2 look at potential trademark issues surrounding Marvel’s “Who Are the Mystery Men?” They note that cartoonist Bob Burden owns the trademark to the one-word “Mysterymen,” while Dark Horse and Universal Pictures control the two-word “Mystery Men” — both relating to the characters created by Burden and the 1999 movie adaptation. Dynamite Entertainment also has laid claim to “Super-Mysterymen” for its Project Superpowers series. “I have not heard from Universal yet, but I’m sure Universal will proceed in an orderly and propitious manner,” Burden said. [Bleeding Cool, ICv2.com]

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Six by 6 | The six most criminally ignored books of 2010

Captain Easy Vol. 1

It happens every year. Amidst all the hullaballoo of the big-name releases and show-stopping events and sleeper hits there are those titles that, for whatever reason, fail to generate any reviews, discussion or sales (or in some cases all three) whatsoever. 2010 was no exception. In fact, the wealth of stellar material that was released this year made it seem like there were an extraordinary number of great comics that garnered not even a peep from the blogosphere and press.

After the jump are six books that I think got nowhere near the amount of attention they deserved. There are lots more that I could include if I had the time. And I’m sure there are books that you read that you don’t think got enough praise as well. Be sure to let me know what they are in the comments section.

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

John Byrne's Next Men

Welcome once again to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy based on certain spending limits — $15, $30 to spend and if we had extra money to spend on what we call the “Splurge” item. Check out Diamond’s release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Michael May

If I had $15:

There are a lot of great periodicals coming out this week, so I’d have some hard choices to make. With only $15, I’d concentrate first on those with the cheapest prices: the first issue of Dark Horse’s new Mighty Samson ($3.50), Atomic Robo and the Deadly Art of Science #2 ($3.50), and Mouse Guard: Black Axe #1 ($3.50). I’m already a huge fan of both Atomic Robo and Mouse Guard and – based on its concept and vague memories of stories I read as a kid – hope to become one of Mighty Samson too. I’d spend the last of my money on Northern Guard #1, because I’m a sucker for Canadian superheroes.

If I had $30:

I’d add Doc Macabre #1 ($3.99), John Byrne’s Next Men #1 ($3.99), and Strange Tales 2 #3 ($4.99). “Doc Macabre” is an awesome name and I love Steve Niles’ pulp stuff, I’ve been waiting 16 years for that Next Men issue, and the Strange Tales book has a Kate Beaton story in which the Avengers go to a carnival. I’d pay five bucks just for Beaton’s deal, but it’s also got a Thing tale by Harvey Pekar (and yes, Harvey Pekar is in the story).

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

The Purple Smurfs

The Purple Smurfs

Welcome to our weekly round of “What would you buy if your budget was limited?” — or, as we call it, Food or Comics? Every week we set certain hypothetical spending limits on ourselves and go through the agony of trying to determine which comics come home and which ones stay on the shelves. So join Brigid Alverson, Chris Mautner and me as we run down what comics we’d buy if we only had $15 and $30 to spend, as well as what we’d get if we had some “mad” money to splurge with.

Check out Diamond’s full release list if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Chris Mautner

If I had $15:

During the height of the 1980s Smurf craze, when the Saturday morning cartoon was sweeping the nation and there was Smurf-related merchandise everywhere, I distinctly remember walking into a stationary store and seeing an English adaptation of King Smurf, which I immediately purchased. I was aware at the time that the little blue characters had begun in France as comic book characters but was completely unprepared for how funny and delightful the original material was in comparison to the TV show. Sadly, it seemed like that book was the only entry way into that world for a long time.

All of which brings me to the point that this week sees the debut release of two new Smurf books from NBM’s Papercutz lineThe Smurfs and The Magic Flute and The Purple Smurfs ($5.99 each). The first is a rather traditional band dessine comic starring medieval adventurers Johann and Peewit, and is mainly noticeable for being the first appearance of the Smurfs. The Purple Smurfs is more in the classic vein, an all-ages zombie tale in which a strange bug bite starts turning smurfs purple (black in the original French version) and hunting down the uncontaminated smurfs, all the while uttering a fearsome “Gnap!” It’s great stuff, and I’m very happy NBM is getting these classic tales by Yvan Delporte and Peyo out in the hands of kids (and grown-up kids like me) who can truly appreciate them.

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What Are You Reading?

Blood's a Rover

Blood's a Rover

Hello and welcome once again to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew talk about the comics and graphic novels that they’ve been enjoying lately. Our special guest this week is comics journalist and critic Dirk Deppey of Journalista and The Comics Journal fame.

To see what Dirk and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, read on …

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What Are You Reading?

Usagi Yojimbo: Return of the Black Soul

Usagi Yojimbo: Return of the Black Soul

Welcome once again to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is Paul Maybury, creator of the webcomic Party Bear. His work can be found in Comic Book Tattoo, various volumes of Popgun and 24seven, and, of course, the full-length graphic novel Aqua Leung. Be sure to check out the sketches he shares.

To see what Paul and the rest of the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click on the link …

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Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Spawn #9

Spawn #9

Legal | A federal judge in Madison, Wisconsin, heard testimony Monday from Neil Gaiman, Todd McFarlane and Dark Ages Spawn writer Brian Holguin, but didn’t rule on Gaiman’s claim that he’s owed royalties from the characters Dark Ages Spawn, Domina and Tiffany.

In 2002, a jury found that Gaiman co-owned the copyrights Medieval Spawn, Angela and Cogliostro, which he created in 1993 for McFarlane’s Spawn series. Since then the two creators have attempted, with little success, to determine how much money Gaiman is owed for the three characters.

On Monday, Gaiman testified that he thinks Dark Ages Spawn is merely a copy of Medieval Spawn, while Domina and Tiffany are copies of Angela. Holguin, who created Dark Ages Spawn, said any similarities to Gaiman’s character were unintentional, while McFarlane argued that all of the versions of Spawn share certain features. The judge gave both parties until June 25 to submit additional arguments. [The Associated Press]

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Thin wallets, fat bookshelves | A roundup of publishing news

WildCATS 3.0 by Dustin Nguyen

WildCATS 3.0 by Dustin Nguyen

  • Wildstorm will bring Joe Casey and Dustin Nguyen’s WildCATS 3.0 back into print in September.
  • Wildstorm also adds another video game franchise to its publishing line, in the form of Kane & Lynch.
  • Dark Horse had a few items I was unaware of in their latest round of solicitations. There’s another Grandville book coming out by Bryan Talbot called Grandville Mon Amour, and Jill Thompson’s Scary Godmother books are being collected into one huge “deluxe” edition. Also, the out-of-print Hellboy/Starman/Batman stories by James Robinson, Mike Mignola and many others are being released as a part of the Hellboy trade paperback line. There’s lots more, of course, coming from Dark Horse in August, but those jumped out at me as stuff I hadn’t heard about or missed when they were announced.
  • NBM will collect Gerard Jones and Mark Badger’s Networked: Carabella on the Run in July. This is a webcomic that runs on privacyactivism.org.
  • Artist David Hahn is working with comedian John Roy on a new book for Image Comics.
  • Tyler James, creator of the webcomic Over, is working with Matt Zolman on a new comic called Epic.
  • Sports club bars in a South Auckland, New Zealand will give away an anti “drink-driving” comic by Hicksville creator Dylan Horrocks. “An advantage with the comic medium is that people are more relaxed when they start reading one and you can reach all kinds of people and tell a story of characters making the right choice,” the creator said. Via

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