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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
NBM publisher Terry Nantier posted some news yesterday about his company’s upcoming publishing plans. Papercutz, NBM’s all-ages imprint, has picked up the rights to publish a Garfield comic book based on the Cartoon Network show — which, of course, is based on the comic strip of the same name.
He also mentioned some new projects and initiatives for NBM proper:
I can tell you we’ve got a new David B lined up where we’re going to take a quite different approach to how we present it than what we’ve been doing. Also the next Louvre book will look quite different! Basically, we’re seeing we don’t need to be married to the 6×9 format as much as we were so we’re going to open things up!
Also, we’re seeing a need for our books to reflect what we publish: beautiful quality comics you want to have physically and keep proudly in your library. For those who’d rather not spend so much, we’ll be multiplying our efforts on the E-book side.
Small Press Expo happens next weekend, and NBM is ready with a nice lineup of creators and book launches, including the debut of The Broadcast, Eric Hobbs and Noel Tuazon’s suspenseful graphic novel about a group of neighbors and strangers weathering the panic caused by Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds broadcast.
In addition, there will be appearances by Brooke Allen (A Home for Mr. Easter), Greg Houston (Elephant Man), and Ted Rall, “fresh back from Afghanistan, if he’s still alive,” according to the blog. Nice to know they care!
Carabella has blue skin, a Princess Leia hairstyle, and an attitude about posting her personal details online. That’s because she comes from a planet where social networking has gone from fun to mandatory, and no one has any personal privacy any more. So when a friend posts her picture online—and a group of Princess Leia look-alikes show up at her door—she freaks.
Carabella is the hero of Networked: Carabella on the Run, a graphic novel with a message: Think twice before putting your personal information online, whether on Facebook or your favorite shopping site. Produced by the nonprofit Privacy Activism, the book was written by Gerard Jones, illustrated by Mark Badger and funded by a grant from the Rose Foundation and published by NBM last month; it’s also available as a webcomic on the Privacy Activism website.
I spoke to Linda Ackerman, the staff counsel for Privacy Activism, at the American Library Association meeting in Washington, DC, in June.
Brigid: Why make this a graphic novel?
Linda: Our purpose has been to try to educate people about privacy issues, visually where possible. There is enough legalese around. We wanted to be able to communicate information about privacy in an accessible way.
With all of next week’s Comic-Con International’s panels fully revealed, those of you who are attending are probably putting together your schedule as we speak … but don’t forget to factor in some of the cool stuff that’ll be going on on the floor. Here’s a list of stuff you can do and people you can meet at various booths, with no doubt more on the way:
• Dark Horse Comics will have Gabriel Ba, Fabio Moon, Morgan Spurlock, Stan Sakai, Mike Mignola, Noah Wyle, Moon Bloodgood, Eric Powell, Joss Whedon, Janet & Alex Evanovich, Felicia Day and more at their booth.
• BOOM! Studios also released their booth schedule, which features appearances by Mark Waid, Claudio Sanchez, Peter David and Tad Stones, who created Darkwing Duck.
• Fantagraphics has released their booth schedule, along with a list of new books that will debut at the show. These include new volumes of their Peanuts collections, a new Prison Pit book, several Ignatz titles and Moto Hagio’s A Drunken Dream and Other Stories.
As I was looking through the items on display at the NBM booth at ALA, the cover of The Broadcast really caught my eye. Written by Eric Hobbs and Noel Tuazon, it’s a story about how one isolated community faced the panic started by Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds broadcast—not realizing it is a hoax, four famlies come together for safety but the enemy, as is so often the case in these stories, comes from within.
Hobbs has just posted a scene from the story at the NBM blog, and it makes for powerful reading. There’s a bit more here. I enjoyed Tuazon’s art in Red Plains, so I’m really looking forward to this one.