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Food or Comics? | Sharknife shish kebab

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.

Sharknife, Volume 2: Double Z

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d skip lunch and dig in to the overdue Choker #6 (Image, $3.99). I almost considered waiting for the trade on this one, but I know once I see the shiny object in front of me in stores I’ll want to find out the ending to Ben McCool and Ben Templesmith’s story. After that I’d get Uncanny X-Force #23 (Marvel, $3.99), which still holds the crown for my favorite current Marvel book. I was hesitant of Remender & co. going off into Otherworld despite my fascination with the realm going back to my Excalibur days, but I’m being rewarded with good story for my allegiance. The only thing it’s missing is an appendix reminding me of older stories that he references here. Last up would be a two-fer with Spaceman #5 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99) and Walking Dead #95 (Image, $2.99). I’ve talked about both at length here, and they continue to buffet me with greatness.

If I had $30, I’d first snag Daredevil #10 (Marvel, $2.99) to see more of Paolo Rivera’s work over the solid storytelling by Mark Waid. Then, I’d rub my eyes to make sure I’m not seeing things and pick-up the 5+ year delayed book Sharknife, Vol. 2 (Oni, $11.99). I’ve been a big fan of Corey’s work back when he was doing inspired Mega Man rip-offs, and the chance that I’ll finally see this sequel is exciting and heartbreaking. I hope the quality of the book inside is enough to stave off my feelings about the severe delay the book had.

And for splurging, I’d spend my CBR paycheck on Gone To Amerikay (DC/Vertigo, $24.99). This book is at the intersection of three reasons I’d buy it: Colleen Doran, Derek McCulloch and historical Irish narratives. I’d hold McCulloch’s Stagger Lee up to any graphic novel of the past decade in terms of skill and potency, so to see him pair that with Colleen Doran’s crafty linework bears my immediate attention.

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Larry, Curly and Moe come to Papercutz

Nyuk nyuk nyuk! Papercutz, NBM Publishing’s all-ages graphic novel line, is launching a Three Stooges graphic novel by two veteran Archie creators, writer George Gladir and artist Stan Goldberg.

Gladir is the co-creator (with Dan DeCarlo) of Sabrina the Teenage Witch and was head writer for the best of the MAD Magazine clones Cracked, as well as one of the writers of Archie’s own version of MAD-type satire, Archie’s Madhouse, so he should feel right at home at Papercutz, whose line includes some very MAD-like parodies. The Three Stooges graphic novel Bed Bugged is a followup to the Three Stooges movie coming from the Farrelly Brothers this April.

But wait — there’s more! Papercutz is also planning to collect some classic Three Stooges comics, written by Norman Maurer and illustrated by Pate Alvarado, in a best-of format. Maurer joined the Three Stooges team when he married Moe’s daughter Joan (who will pen a foreword for the collection) and wrote several comics about the trio, some of which were illustrated by Joe Kubert. Maurer later became the Stooges’ manager and was a writer, director and producer for their movies in the 1960s.

If that whets your appetite, check out this bibliography of Three Stooges comics from days gone by.

Previews: What looks good for February

Judge Bao and the Jade Phoenix

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, “ Wonder Woman 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

Judge Bao and the Jade Phoenix - A detective story set in ancient China. Plus: cool name.

Avatar

Dicks #1 – Garth Ennis and John McCrea’s humor makes my top hat explode and my monocle fly off my face, but I remember this being pretty popular back in the day and I imagine that it’s new presentation in color and leading into a new storyline could make it popular again.

Bongo

Ralph Wiggum Comics #1 – This, on the other hand, is exactly my kind of funny. Kind of like 30 Days of Night, I’m astonished no one’s thought of it before. Too bad it’s just a one-shot, but hearing that Sergio Aragones is one of the contributors makes me want to poke myself with my Viking helmet to see if I’m dreaming.

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Comics A.M. | CBLDF names deputy director; Alimagno leaves Marvel

CBLDF

Organizations | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has named Alex Cox as its deputy director, responsible for oversight of the organization’s home office and fundraising program. Cox, who came to the CBLDF in 2010, previously served as development manager. [CBLDF]

Publishing | Marvel Talent Coordinator Bon Alimagno is leaving the publisher for a position at San Francisco-based software company The Apollo Group. Previously editor of Harris Comics, Alimagno handled freelance scheduling at Marvel, working with David Bogart, the publisher’s senior vice president of business affairs and talent management. [The Beat]

Graphic novels | The Texas Library Association posts its 2012 Maverick Graphic Novel Reading List of recommendations for tweens and teens. [Texas Library Association]

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Previews: What looks good for December

The Dare Detectives: The Snow Pea Plot

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, “ Life with Archie 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.

Ape

Richie Rich Gems Winter Special - In addition to their modern-look Richie Rich, Ape has also re-introducied the classic version in both new and reprinted adventures. I missed the solicit for Richie Rich Gems #44 last month (which picked up where the Harvey series left off in 1982), but the series continues with not only the Winter Special, but #45 as well.

Arcana

Dragons vs Dinosaurs - I haven’t had great luck with Arcana’s books in the past, but c’mon. The title alone…

Hero Happy Hour: On the Rocks - This, on the other hand, is no risk at all. I’m a big fan of Dan Taylor and Chris Fason’s superhero bar stories and this is an all-new, 80-page adventure. Not reprints; not even a printed version of the webcomic. It’s all-new and I need it.

Archaia

The Dare Detectives: The Snow Pea Plot Collected Edition – Archaia prepares for their publishing Ben Caldwell’s Dare Detectives: The Kula Kola Caper by re-publishing the first story that was originally put out by Dark Horse.

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Food or Comics? | Hark! A Snarked!

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.

Hark! A Vagrant

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d spend several musty dollars on Fear Agent #31 (Dark Horse, $3.50). This penultimate issue has been a long time coming, and I’m excited to see Remender and Moore enlist Mike Hawthorne to help get these final issues done – big fan of all three of them! Next up would be two of DC’s New 52; Action Comics #2 (DC, $3.99) and Swamp Thing (DC, $2.99); I admit that I feel weird not being more excited about Morrison’s run than I am, but somehow the first Action Comics wasn’t as gripping as the first All-Star Superman … and it’s not the art. For the last pick, I’d get X-Men: Schism #5 (Marvel, $3.99). It got off to a slow start, but Jason Aaron’s an expert at nailing his landings, and I’m intrigued to see how it all goes down.

If I had $30, I’d start off with a pair of number ones – Pilot Season: Test #1 (Image/Top Cow, $3.99) and Roger Langridge’s Snarked #1 (BOOM! Studios, $3.99). Pilot Season has always been a must-buy for me; sometimes the concepts don’t live up to the promise, but they still have a good track record. I just wish more ended up as ongoing series. Next up I’d get the long-running Invincible #83 (Image, $2.99); seriously, this hits all my itches harkening back to my younger comic-reading days. Last up I would get Animal Man #2 (DC, $2.99); I love what Lemire and Foreman started here; I just wish there were more of it!

If I found some extra cash, I would double-back for Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant (D+Q, $19.95). This reads like a literary nut’s comic strip, and I love every bit of it. For some reason it reminds me of Gary Larson’s The Far Side but in a very modern way.

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Comics A.M. | Why the new Spider-Man matters; a look at ‘work for hire’

Miles Morales

Comics | In a post subtitled “Why the new biracial Spider-Man matters,” David Betancourt shares his reaction to the news that the new Ultimate Spider-Man is half-black, half-Latino: “The new Ultimate Spider-Man, who will have the almost impossible task of replacing the late Peter Parker (easily one of Marvel Comics most popular characters), took off his mask and revealed himself to be a young, half-black, half-Latino kid by the name of Miles Morales. When I read the news, I was beside myself, as if my brain couldn’t fully process the revelation. My friendly neighborhood Spider-Man was … just like me? This is a moment I never thought I’d see. But the moment has arrived, and I — the son of Puerto Rican man who passed his love of comics to me, and a black woman who once called me just to say she’d met Adam West — will never forget that day.”

The New Yorker, meanwhile, posts the opening on an essay from the year 2120 that looks back at the cultural significance of the new Spider-Man. [Comic Riffs, New Yorker]

Legal | Analysis of the Kirby estate/Marvel case continues, as both Modern Ideas and Copyhype look at the concept of “work for hire” in light of the ruling. [Modern Ideas, Copyhype]

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Robot 6 Q&A | Rick Geary discusses his Treasury of Murder series

Rick Geary is in San Diego right now, debuting the latest volume in his Treasury of XXth Century Murder series, The Lives of Sacco and Vanzetti. He took a moment on the way to talk to us about the story, his attraction to murders, and the challenges of writing about the past—and he told us what his next book will be.

Robot 6: Why are you so interested in murder, and how has it held your interest through so many books?

Rick Geary: I’ve been a “fan” of crime, both fiction and non-fiction, since the early 1970s. I lived in Wichita, Kansas, and a friend of mine, a former cop, gave me a copy of the complete police file on an unsolved murder in Wichita from the 1960s. It fascinated me, and I used it as the subject of my first published comic story in 1977. Since then, the exploration of the dark side of human behavior has been a continuing obsession.

Robot 6:Would you ever do a book about a modern murder story, or do you prefer to stick to stories set in the past?

Rick: I prefer dealing with cases from the past, because with them the urgency and emotionalism have dissipated, and I’m able to get the proper ironic distance in my treatment. That said, I’d love someday to do the OJ Simpson case or JonBenet Ramsey or even Casey Anthony.

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The Smurfs smurf over to comiXology

ComiXology smurfs another one: They will publish a dedicated Smurfs app for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch that will include seven full Smurfs comics. Like other comiXology apps, the app itself is free, and the comics are available in-app for $3.99 each; the corresponding print volumes retail for $5.99 paperback, $10.99 hardcover, so that’s a pretty smurf deal.

The Smurf comics are published by Papercutz, the all-ages imprint of NBM Publishing, and Papercutz publisher Terry Nantier smurfed the opportunity to point out that the little blue fellows started out as comics before they were animated cartoons. “I grew up with these comics, they truly are classics. It’s a shame that these books, which have been in print forever everywhere else on Earth, have been out-of-print for so long in America, which is why we decided to publish them in print and digitally,” he said.

Although you need an iThing to get the app and buy the comics, they sync with comiXology’s Comics reader, which is available for web browsers and Android devices as well as iOS.

Lego + Ninjas = Awesome!

If, like me, you don’t follow developments in the world of Lego very closely, you might not be aware that there is a new Lego theme called Ninjago, which features little Lego ninja characters practicing the newly invented martial art of Spinjitzu.

Ninjago includes a complicated backstory (laid out neatly at the Lego wiki Brickipedia) in which the world is created by the first Spinjitzu master, using the four mystical ninja weapons: the Nunchucks of Lightning, the Shurikens of Ice, the Scythe of Quakes, and the Sword of Fire. Of course, things went bad and now the good ninjas are battling the evil skeleton warriors using these weapons. Needless to say, Ninjago is more than just building blocks; there’s a video game, an iPhone app, and now—and this is why you are reading about it here—a graphic novel.

Papercutz, the children’s comics imprint of classy NBM Publishing, will be announcing a series of Ninjago graphic novels at Book Expo America. Papercutz probably flies below your radar if you’re over 12, but they make some pretty solid kids’ graphic novels that sell like hotcakes. The Ninjago books will be written by Greg Farshtey, the writer of the Bionicle graphic novels, and illustrated by Paulo Henrique, who draws the Hardy Boys graphic novels. Although the Lego people seem to have this pretty well thought out, creating an action-packed story about interlocking blocks with martial arts skills does seem like it would present a challenge. On the other hand, you have the Lego and ninja fandoms locked up, so how can you lose? And with a television show in the works and a DVD ready for release, I would say there’s no stopping these square little ninjas.

NBM goes digital with Dinosaurs Across America … and more?

NBM sent out a press release last night saying that it would be re-releasing Phil Yeh’s Dinosaurs Across America as an interactive digital graphic novel, and they are billing it as “a fully interactive version that may very well be the first interactive graphic novel ever published.” That’s a mighty bold claim, but apparently the digital Dinosaurs is more than just a comic that you read on a screen; it has been entirely retooled so that readers climb into a virtual spaceship and zip from page to page, clicking here and there to bring up information. (The original Dinosaurs Across America is an educational graphic novel that takes the readers on a panel-by-panel tour of all 50 states.) The book is available as an app through the iTunes store and as an ebook for Mac and PC via Koobits.

Perhaps this isn’t really the first interactive graphic novel—software companies have been doing something like this with children’s books for years—but it certainly is an ambitious retooling. Even more interesting is NBM publisher Terry Nantier’s comment, further down in the press release:

This is part of NBM’s fairly aggressive move into e-books for its graphic novels and reorientation we’ll be making more announcements about soon. Comics and graphic novels will always be in print, they’re too tactile and collectible not to be, but electronic versions are fun too. In this case, we see a fascinating magnification of the effect comics can have at making learning fun.

That should be interesting, because NBM hasn’t really jumped into the digital pool yet. They have a few graphic novels available via comiXology and comiXology’s Comics 4 Kids app, but that seems to be the extent of their digital presence, so a move into interactive e-books, or stand-alone apps, would be an interesting departure.

What Are You Reading?

Batgirl #17

Welcome to a long holiday weekend (at least here in the United States) edition of What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is Doug Zawisza, who writes reviews and the occasional article for Comic Book Resources.

To see what Doug and the Robot 6 gang are reading, click below.

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Omaha returns for an encore

Chris mentioned Omaha the Cat Dancer in passing in his six x-rated comics you can read without shame, and by happy coincidence, NBM Eurotica has the full seven-volume collection in the latest Previews for $75, or $15 less than the cost of buying the volumes individually. An old favorite of mine, Omaha may be the first furry comic, and it’s notable for Reed Waller’s curvy art and Kate Worley’s imaginative scripts. It also has a special place in comics history: Published by Denis Kitchen’s Kitchen Sink Press, Omaha the Cat Dancer was one of the comics the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund was originally formed to defend, according to the official Omaha timeline. Unfortunately, both creators suffered health problems in the late 80s and early 90s, and the series ground to a halt. They agreed to finish the story in 2002, but Worley was diagnosed with lung cancer and died in 2004. NBM has been publishing collected editions for a few years, so this offering is not entirely new, but the price is a good one. They have a preview (NSFW and over 18 only) on their website, and the official Omaha the Cat Dancer site (which is a bit tamer but still has nudity) is a wealth of background information.

And there’s more good news: Worley’s husband James Vance has been working with Waller on a sequel, which is currently being serialized in Sizzle magazine and will hopefully be published by NBM in 2012, according to NBM’s Terry Nantier.

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

Atomic Robo and the Deadly Art of Science #1

Welcome to another installment of “Food or Comics?” Every week we set certain hypothetical spending limits on ourselves and go through the agony of trying to determine what comes home and what stays on the shelves. So join us 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.

Michael May

If I had $15:

As usual, I’d spend it on single issues. Starting with Atomic Robo and the Deadly Art of Science #1 ($3.50), then picking up a couple of Moonstone books: Zeroids #2 ($3.99) and Return of the Originals: From the Vault – The Pulp Files ($1.99). I enjoyed the first issue of the genre-mashing Zeroids and have been looking forward to the next part of the story; From the Vault is sort of Moonstone’s version of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe or DC’s Who’s Who. I don’t know nearly as much about the classic pulp characters as I’d like, so I’m looking forward to the education. Next I’d check out IDW’s Dungeons & Dragons #1 ($3.99) to see if they’ve figured out how to do a good D&D comic. That brings me to $13.47.

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Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs | Boneyard

Boneyard, Volume One

Boneyard, Volumes 1-7
Written and Illustrated by Richard Moore
Published by NBM

I’m trying to figure out how to use the words “Monster Decadence” to describe Boneyard without sounding mean about it. It’s a wonderful, fun, involving series, but there’s an element to it that reminds me of the problem with having Speedy beat crooks up with a dead cat or Guy Gardner vomit blood all over the cover of a comic. I’m not suggesting that Richard Moore’s done anything wrong – it’s his series, he created it; he can do whatever he wants with it – but on its surface Boneyard appears to be simply a cute story about an unlucky everyman who inherits a graveyard full of funny monsters. There’s something very Bone-ish about the concept and kids would love the creature designs and giggle at some of the jokes. But it’s not a kids’ book. At all.

Again, I’m not faulting Moore. He’s got an appealing, humorously animated drawing style, but it would be foolish to suggest that he should tone down his writing because of that. On the contrary, it’s very cool that he’s been able to create such a grown-up story with such attractive, endearing characters. And as much as I kept thinking, “My son would love this if only…,” Boneyard is a whole different creature from “adult” superhero comics.

This is ironic since Boneyard is a monster comic, but it’s nowhere near as bloody or violent as the Superhero Decadence crowd of books. What puts it out of kids’ reach is mostly its playfulness about sexuality. There’s plenty of cheesecake, but nothing graphic; just good, naughty fun.

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