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SDCC ’11 | Robert Kirkman spills the goods on Thief of Thieves

Thief of Thieves #1

Robert Kirkman has at last revealed details of Thief of Thieves, a collaboration with Morning Glories writer Nick Spencer first teased a year ago with the launch of the Skybound imprint.

The Walking Dead creator tells USA Today he’ll employ a writer’s room approach similar to what occurs with television series, with he and Spencer hammering out the overall plot, and a team of scribes trading off on story arcs. (It appears virtually identical to the model used by Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, on which Joss Whedon served as executive producer.)

Spencer will pen the first arc of Thief of Thieves, which follows an aging international art thief who decides to retire from the game and instead steal from other criminals. “He’s got this compulsion where he has to steal or he doesn’t feel like he’s living, but he doesn’t want to break the law anymore,” Kirkman tells the newspaper.

Shawn Martinbrough, known for his noirish approach on such titles as Luke Cage Noir, Angeltown and DMZ — he even wrote the book How to Drawn Noir Comics — will be the permanent artist. Kirkman will step in at some point to pen his own arc. However, he’s keeping the names of the other writers a secret; presumably at least some of them will be revealed this week at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

Visit USA Today to see a preview of the first issue. Thief of Thieves debuts early next year from Kirkman’s new Image Comics imprint Skybound.


DC relaunch scorecard: DCnU or DC No?

Green Lantern #1, by Dave Johnson

Although it seems like DC’s big relaunch announcement came out an eternity ago, it actually took the publisher less than two weeks to roll out the 52 titles and their creative teams for the big relaunch/reboot/overhaul coming in September. Now that the cats are out of their respective bags, I thought I’d see where various creators and characters will land after the reboot.

So I went back through DC’s August solicitations to see who was writing or drawing what, and tried to map everyone to their post-relaunch project — if they had one. However, looking at DC’s August solicitations, there seem to be several fill-in issues, so where appropriate I tried to map the most recent ongoing creative teams to their new projects (for instance, I consider Gail Simone and Jesus Saiz the regular creative team for Birds of Prey, even if they aren’t doing the last two issues before September hits). Keep in mind that I just went through the ongoing series and skipped over all the miniseries … of which there are a lot, what with Flashpoint winding up in August.

It’s also worth noting that although several creators didn’t appear in the “big 52″ announcements, that doesn’t mean their tenure with DC is necessarily over — some, like Frazer Irving, have said they have future projects that haven’t been announced. So I tried to note where creators have talked publicly about their post-relaunch plans with DC (or lack thereof, as the case may be). The same could probably be said for some of DC’s characters as well. Or, as Gail Simone said on Twitter: “Again, September is NOT THE END. There’s still plans for characters that we haven’t seen yet.”

So let’s get to it ….

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Talking Comics with Tim | Nick Dragotta

Pages from Vengeance 1

If you were one of those folks who not heard of artist Nick Dragotta before this year, it’s quite feasible you learned about the storyteller after his work on Fantastic Four 588 (the silent mourning for Johnny Storm issue). If Dragotta’s next project is half as successful as I expect it to be, even more folks will know and like his art. That project? He and writer Joe Casey’s six-issue Marvel miniseries, Vengeance [set to be released July 6]. As described by Marvel: “When MAGNETO of the X-Men tries to rescue a young Mutant on the run, he accidently kicks off a series of events that will shake the very Marvel Universe to it’s core! Who are the new TEEN BRIGADE?! Who are the Brotherhood and what do they want with the YOUNG MASTERS OF EVIL?! And how is the RED SKULL pulling the strings from beyond the grave?” My thanks to Dragotta for the interview (and for the above preview art from the first issue). Once you’ve read this interview, be sure to also read Timothy Callahan’s When Words Collide column/Joe Casey interview.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Who wants a piece of Mr. Action?

From "Jimmy Olsen's Big Week"

Jimmy Olsen spent much of the Silver Age bouncing from one misadventure to another: traveling through time, uncontrollably growing facial hair, transforming into strange creatures, blah blah blah. In fairness to Jimmy, many times these consequences were somewhat undeserved (although he was kinda asking for trouble drinking that beard tonic).

Therefore, it’s not surprising that once again, our Mr. Olsen is a victim of circumstance.  Follow the bouncing ball….

The good: Last year, starting in Action Comics #493, Jimmy got a great new co-feature by the very talented team of writer Nick Spencer, penciller R.B. Silva, and inker DYM.*

The bad: The feature was yanked after four installments when DC decided to discontinue all the co-features.

The good: Spencer, Silva, and DYM got to finish “Jimmy Olsen’s Big Week” in the pages of the probably-still-on-sale Jimmy Olsen Special, which runs 58 pages (including parts 1-4) and is well worth your $5.99. Really, this story couldn’t be more fun if it were called Superman’s Pal Scott Pilgrim.

So where’s the “victim” part come in?

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Comics A.M. | Kodansha International closing; Blizzard ending Tokyopop deal?

Kodansha

Publishing | Kodansha Ltd., Japan’s largest publisher, will close its 48-year-old Kodansha International subsidiary by the end of April. The division is a separate company from the New York-based Kodansha USA, which Kodansha Ltd. established in 2008. Kodansha International specialized in English-language translations of Japanese books and original English-language books on Japanese topics, and published the occasional few manga-related title. At the February press conference at which incoming Kodansha Ltd. President Yoshinobu Noma announced the publisher’s 46.7 percent stake in Vertical Inc., he revealed the company would increase its focus on digital publishing and overseas markets. [The Japan Times, Anime News Network]

Publishing | Video game developer Blizzard Entertainment, the company behind World of Warcraft and Starcraft, is rumored to be ending its licensing agreements with troubled U.S. manga publisher Tokyopop. Although the report comes on the heels of Tokyopop’s latest round of layoffs — Troy Lewter edited many of the current Blizzard titles — the two events are apparently unrelated. [Lore Hound, via Joystiq]

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

Finder: Voice

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday 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 what we call our “Splurge” item.

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

Chris Arrant

$15:

This week is a busy week for me -– I count 13 single issues I’d buy if I was a rich man, but with only $15 I’d narrow it down to four things. DMZ #62 (DC/Vertigo $2.99) looks to be really amping up the series for it’s final year. I’ve enjoyed this series’ long run, and the way he’s built up this world only to tear it down seems amazing. Second in my bag would be the closest thing to a modern Moebius at Marvel, Shield #6 (Marvel $2.99). This secret history of the Marvel U has been really eye-opening, and Hickman’s bold reach really takes some big brass ones. This in line would be Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force #5 (Marvel $3.99). Remender’s done some solid modern-work while trying to not be outshone by Jerome Opena’s star-turn, but in this issue it’s got guest art by Esad Ribic. Ribic’s work has always carried this sense of gravitas without being stuffy like some painters, and I’m interested to see how he does these visceral heroes. Last up would be Brightest Day #20. On paper, a book with a league of b-list heroes seems like a non-starter, but I really like what the team have done on this, especially the Martian Manhunter and Firestorm threads.

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What Are You Reading?

The Sixth Gun

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today’s special guest is Jim Zubkavich, writer of the Image Comics series Skullkickers and a project manager at UDON Entertainment.

To see what Jim and the Robot 6 crew are reading, click the link below.

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Comics A.M. | Borders to close Tenn. center, Muppets/Pixar titles canceled

Borders Group headquarters

Retailing | The picture keeps looking worse for Borders Group: Even as news surfaced Wednesday that Diamond Book Distributors has stopped shipping to the troubled retail chain a report circulated that Borders will close its LaVergne, Tenn., distribution center in mid-July, resulting in the elimination of 310 jobs. That follows more than 200 layoffs made at the center since 2009. [WKRN.com, via GalleyCat]

Publishing | The remaining licensed Muppets and Pixar titles from BOOM! Studios have been listed as “canceled by Previews.” In response to inquiries, the publisher pointed to the teaser for “BOOM! Kids 2.0,” the relaunch of its kids imprint announced in September. Rumors that BOOM! had lost the Muppets/Pixar licenses began swirling in late November, following Roger Langridge’s announcement that he would no longer be drawing The Muppet Show. The publisher’s relaunched kids line will include such Disney licenses as Darkwing Duck, and reprints of Mickey Mouse, Uncle Scrooge and Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories. [Comics Worth Reading]

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Infinite Vacation teasers: Now I want to read these magazines

Infinite Vacation teaser

Image Comics wraps up their series of teasers for the new Nick Spencer/Christian Ward miniseries, Infinite Vacation, with two more faux magazine covers. I kinda wish I could read that National Geographic, as I’m curious what a Pomplamoose is (besides a grapefruit in French).

The first issue was quite popular in our Food or Comics? column this week, and it arrives in stores today. Anyone read it yet?

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

Thor the Mighty Avenger #8

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday 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 what we call our “Splurge” item.

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

Chris Arrant

With $15 worth of dingy bills and loose quarters, I’d go my local comic shop and start with Thor: The Mighty Avenger #8 ($2.99). Probably the pick of the week in some circles (even for a square like me), it’s a celebration of what Langridge and Samnee accomplished – and although it’s the last issue, there’s that FCBD issue on the horizon. I’d also pick up two number ones -– Casanova: Gula #1 ($3.99) and Daredevil: Reborn #1 ($3.99). With my last $4, I’d be hard-pressed to pick between Thunder Agents #3 ($2.99) and Infinite Vacation #1 ($3.50), but would probably pick the latter –- Nick Spencer’s on both, but Christian Ward’s art makes Infinite Vacation #1 worth the buy.

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Take an Infinite Vacation with Spencer and Ward this Wednesday

Infinite Vacation teaser

This week sees Nick Spencer and Christian Ward’s Infinite Vacation debut, and Image Comics sent over a couple of teasers for the new limited series. Billed as a sci-fi love story, the book stars Mark, who lives in a world where alternate realities are up for sale, and buying and trading your way through unlimited variations of yourself is as commonplace as checking your email or updating your status. But then Mark’s other selves start dying …

You can check out the second one after the jump.

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Comics A.M. | Tom Ziuko hospitalized, Paolo Rivera’s surgery

Crisis on Infinite Earths #12

Creators | Artist Alan Kupperberg shares word that colorist Tom Ziuko has been hospitalized as he fights acute kidney failure and other health conditions. “The good news is that the doctors seem to have finally stumbled on a series of treatments and therapies that have Tom seeing some light at the end of the tunnel,” Kupperberg said in a message to Daniel Best. “The bad news is that Tom, uninsured and unable to work since the beginning of December, is in a tough financial bind.” Kupperberg is accepting donations via his PayPal account — kupperberg@earthlink.net — and adds, “I will pass 100% (plus) along to Tom.”

Ziuko worked in DC Comics’ production department before going freelance, and colored comics like Crisis on Infinite Earths, Batman, Action Comics and History of the DC Universe, to name a few. Todd Klein remembers their time together at DC. [20th Century Danny Boy]

Creators | Artist Paolo Rivera suffered a broken cheekbone after intervening in a domestic dispute. “The good news is I’m all right and—most importantly—my vision is intact,” he wrote on his blog. “… I had surgery on Monday and have been taking it very, very easy since. All things considered, I was very lucky. My eye looks horrendous—the white of the eye is blood red—but I can still see (thank goodness) and should make a full recovery. I also have a pretty rad haircut right now due to surgery… it kinda looks like the one I had circa 1995.” [The Self-Absorbing Man]

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Unacceptable: Online retailer draws reactions over Giffords comments

Arizona Daily Star cartoonist David Fitzsimmons' response to the Giffords shooting

On Saturday morning, a gunman shot Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords while she was meeting with constituents outside a Safeway store in Tucson, Arizona, and then apparently kept on shooting, leaving six people (including a nine-year-old girl) dead and Rep. Giffords in critical condition.

While the rest of the world was wishing Gifford well, mourning the dead, and denouncing the vitriol that encourages such violence, Travis Corcoran, the president of online comics retailer Heavy Ink, put up a post on his personal blog titled “1 down, 534 to go.” Corcoran was, of course, referring to the 535 members of Congress.

It is absolutely, absolutely unacceptable to shoot “indiscriminately”.

Target only politicians and their staff, and leave regular citizens alone.

The post drew swift reaction after Rich Johnston picked it up at Bleeding Cool, along with the first round of outrage on Twitter. While some of Corcoran’s longtime readers gave him high fives in the comments of his blog posts, the rest of the world wasn’t so sanguine, and Morning Glories creator Nick Spencer specifically asked that Heavy Ink stop carrying his work, saying, “I respect your right to an opinion, but am not personally comfortable doing business with someone who advocates violence against people they disagree with.” Gail Simone Tweeted, “@tjic, you have my pity. May you grow a soul someday, because you desperately are in need of one.”

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NYCC ’10 | A round-up of news and announcements from this weekend

New York Comic Con

News from New York started pouring out last week before New York Comic Con even started, as publishers got a jump-start on press releases leading into the show, and ICv2‘s Conference on Comics and Digital provided plenty of discussion points about the current and future state of the industry.

• At Comic Book Resources, Kiel Phegley has a thorough report from the conference, where Milton Griepp of ICv2 shared that industry sales are down in 2010, as comic sales are only slightly up at 1 percent, with a 20-percent decline in the graphic novel category. Manga sales are also down 20 percent. The bulk of the conference focused on an area where the story isn’t quite so grim — digital comics. While ICv2′s 2009 report gave a $500,000 to $1 million sales estimate for digital, 2010′s number pointed toward a market of $6 to 8 million.

• Coinciding with the conference and the con, several companies, of course, had announcements regarding their digital plans. Dark Horse announced a new homegrown digital comics app that will work across the various Apple devices and on the web, offering single issues for $1.49. It will be available in January. BOOM! Studios made three announcements late last week, about its comics being available on the PSP and from MyDigitalComics.com. The publisher also announced the availability of Farscape through its comiXology app on the iPad and iPhone. Longbox announced that its comics app will be “the exclusive pre-installed service for purchasing, cataloguing and reading digital comics on all four of Notion Ink’s announced tablets.” And finally DC Comics announced Sunday that Hank Kanalz, former general manager of WildStorm, will head up the DC Digital Comics division in Burbank, Calif. Kanalz jumped right into his new role, leading a Sunday panel on DC’s digital initiatives.

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NYCC ’10 | Nick Spencer to take an Infinite Vacation at Image

The Infinite Vacation

At today’s Image Comics panel at New York Comic Con, rising star Nick Spencer (Morning Glories, the upcoming Iron Man 2.0) announced The Infinite Vacation, a five-issue miniseries with artist Christian Ward debuting in January. According to Comics Alliance, Spencer said the comic is “about a world in which moving into and out of alternate realities is commonplace, it’s a day-to-day thing that you do, it’s something you do for vacation, something you do for work. … It’s about a young guy who is very much addicted to the infinite vacation and the many opportunities that it provides hm, but something happens that makes him question this life.”

Watch the trailer after the break, and look for an interview with Spencer next week at Comic Book Resources.

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