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What Are You Reading? with Rafer Roberts

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where every week we talk about the comics, books and other stuff topping our reading list. Our special guest today is Rafer Roberts, creator of Plastic Farm–“The strange, terrifying, and hilarious story of Chester Carter’s messianic journey through madness and self-loathing.” Roberts is currently raising money for the second volume on Kickstarter.

To see what he’s been reading, along with the Robot 6 crew, click below …

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Six by 6 | My six favorite Tokyopop titles


The announcement last week that Tokyopop has closed its publishing division (at least in North America) has led to a lot of thoughtful critiques about the company’s legacy, both good and bad.

Less discussed is their vast array manga publications and the aesthetic qualities that may or may not lie therein. Having offered a memorial of sorts to the Mome anthology last week, it seemed only fitting to do something similar for the house that Sailor Moon built today.

But first an apology/explanation of sorts. The honest truth is I came a bit late to the manga revolution and didn’t immerse myself much in Tokyopop’s oeuvre, not because of a dislike towards shojo or manga in general as much as a general feeling that most of their offerings were heavily contrived and derivative, whether aimed at a male audience or a female one.

Also, my budget being what it is, there were plenty of titles I missed that I probably would have included on this list had I had the resources to track them down, like Aria and Happy Mania. Consider this more of a starting point for an ongoing conversation then, and feel free in the comments section me know what an idiot I am and what books I missed.

So taking all that into consideration, here are the six titles that I feel justified Tokyopop’s existence:

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Brandon Graham’s King City to be collected by Tokyopop, maybe? Hopefully?

a King City collection cover idea

a King City collection cover idea

It started out in Tokyopop’s Original English Language, or OEL, line, became one of the most lamented casualties of the publisher’s contraction, and finally found new life as a giant-sized monthly comic at Image. Now Brandon Graham tells Comics Comics’ Frank Santoro that his acclaimed science-fiction series King City may be headed back to where it all began for its eventual collected edition, to which Tokyopop presumably still holds the rights.

Graham tells Santoro that Tokyopop is getting quotes from the printer for a collected King City, ideally to be printed at the size of the Image issues rather than the book’s original digest format. Graham expects the collection to be relatively modest, perhaps with a few layouts and deleted scenes. According to Santoro, Graham’s very understanding of the situation his once and potentially future publisher is in with regards to the collection and potential price points, saying “I just want to see it in print,” regardless of what it costs.

Click the link for the full story, and for Santoro’s thoughts on how collections and the lack thereof can influence readers’ understanding of a cartoonist’s career.

Read (well, look at) Becky Cloonan’s East Coast Rising Vol. 2 online

It was one of the Tokyopop implosion’s most loudly lamented casualties: East Coast Rising, the promising post-apocalyptic pirate series written and illustrated by Demo artist Becky Cloonan. Only the first volume of the OEL epic made it to shelves before the series was itself shelved by the publisher, likely never to return. This despite the second volume being 75 percent finished, with some 120 pages completed. And as Cloonan herself puts it, “the worst part [was] that Volume 1 ended on a cliffhanger!”

Well, Cloonan’s taking matters into her own hands to right this wrong. Throughout this week, she’ll be posting three unpublished pages of East Coast Rising Vol. 2 per day, until the sequence that continues from the cliffhanger is wrapped up — starting here. Cloonan notes that the pages are unfinished, with no tones or lettering, but even still, if you’ve ever wanted to know how that scalawag Cannonball Joe escaped the tentacles of the Suffocating Death, now’s your best shot.

Actually, it seems like it’s your only shot: Sadly, Cloonan flatly states in the comments for her post that Volume 2 in her series “[will] never be finished,” so it sounds as though there’s no hope of a Brandon Graham/King City-style resurrection at some other publisher. Alas and alack, this is one cool comic that’s making Davy Jones’ Locker its permanent home.

Read Dan Hipp’s Gyakushu! online for free


Just what it says, folks: as we mentioned last week, Volumes One and Two of the Amazing Joy Buzzards artist’s epic fantasy of vengeance Gyakushu! are now available to read in their entirety at Hipp’s new dedicated site, The Thief Is Dead. There’s also an extensive preview of Volume Three, coming soon from Tokyopop. Click away and start scrolling — just be warned that there will be blood…

Dan Hipp’s GYAKUSHU! returns next week on the web

The Thief is Dead!

The Thief is Dead!

Dan Hipp of Amazing Joy Buzzards fame announced that GYAKUSHU!, his OEL manga series that got caught up in the Tokyopop implosion a couple of years ago, is returning on the web. While the first two volumes saw print, the third was canceled by Tokyopop along with a lot of their other original English language projects in 2008.

Hipp is launching a site at http://www.thethiefisdead.blogspot.com/, where he plans to post the first two volumes and the first third of the third one starting Jan. 11. Right now the site is invitation only, but there is a way to get early access, as noted here.

He also shared a bit more on the project in the last days of 2009, talking about why he chose to post it on the web.

“Now, to anyone that has suggested I should look into an IMAGE deal, similar to what the amazing Brandon Graham did with KING CITY, well… Thank you so much for the thought and concern, but quite frankly, I did. There didn’t seem to be much interest, or maybe the lines of communication were crossed, regardless, after looking around and asking a few questions to people in the know, I realized that I loved the idea of putting a blog together on my own, with no interference, allowing for anyone that reads it to leave comments on any given chapter of the series and to ask questions if they felt the need,” he said on his blog. “Hopefully, anyone taking the time to read several hundreds of pages online that liked them, might feel the need to purchase a hard copy (Volumes 1 and 2 still available, more on Volume 3 later (he teased)). GYAKUSHU! was NOT designed to be read as single issues of a monthly comic, and in hind sight, I do not think that going to IMAGE (or anyone else (and I did)) would have been the right choice for the book. The story was designed as a series of graphic novels, and the only alternative I see to that, in print, is the ultimate/absolute/what$@#!in’ever 600 page version. The blog may be up for a long time, or not long at all, only time will tell. Volume 3 will NOT immediately be posted in it’s entirety, but rather just the first third.”

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More from TokyoPop + Image on King City‘s return

Earlier this month Brandon Graham announced on his blog that King City, the first volume of which was published by TokyoPop, would return as an over-sized 12-issue comic series from Image Comics this August.

That first volume will be reprinted as the first six issues in the series, followed by six issues that would have made up the second volume. While it’s fairly common to see comics collected into trades nowadays, King City is essentially doing the opposite — starting as a collection and becoming a series. Not by design, of course, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Comic Book Resources spoke with Graham about the title (as well as his Oni title, Multiple Warheads). I followed up with TokyoPop and Image on the deal itself.

According to TokyoPop, this licensing deal came about because all three parties — Graham, TokyoPop and Image — really wanted it to happen. Image will manufacture, sell and promote the individual issues, while TokyoPop will direct the creation of the comic and retain graphic novel rights.

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King City to return

King City #1

King City #1

This is great news — Brandon Graham’s King City, which was caught up in the Tokyopop implosion last year, is returning to print in August.

Graham writes on his LiveJournal that Tokyopop and Image Comics will release King City as a 12-issue comic series starting Aug. 19. It will be printed in the same, larger format as Image’s recent Viking comic.

The first six issues will reprint volume one, which Tokoyopop released last year, with “some cool extra shit to try to make it interesting even if you’ve got the TP book.”

The last six issues showcasing what would have been volume two. “Needless to say I’m fucking thrilled,” Graham said.

I hope this means that similar deals are in the works for some of the other “Original English Language” books that Tokyopop started but never finished, like Becky Cloonan’s East Coast Rising and Dan Hipp’s Gyakushu. It would be great to see them wrapped up as well.

What Are You Reading?

Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 5

Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 5

Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading. This week I’m pleased to announce that our special guest star is Dash Shaw, who wowed the critics last year with his doorstop family drama Bottomless Belly Button and was just nominated for an Eisner for his recently completed Webcomic Bodyworld (soon to be published in book form by Pantheon).

To see what Shaw and the rest of us are reading, click on the link below.

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Thin wallets, fat bookshelves: Random House’s outlook for 2009

X-Men: Misfits

X-Men: Misfits

Continuing our ongoing look at what various publishers have planned for the coming year, here’s a look at Random House’s line-up.

I should note this includes this list includes the Ballantine, Villard and Del Rey imprints. I am not including Del Rey Manga here, as I hope to list their offerings as a separate post in the near future.

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