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One of the reasons that the digital comics distributor comiXology has done so well is that it syncs well across a number of platforms, including iOS, Android and the web. Their web store is convenient for those who prefer browsing and buying on their computer, but the Flash-based interface is a bit buggy—it never scrolled properly in my Safari browser, for instance—so I was happy to hear that they have relaunched the web store using HTML5 for the browsing and buying interface.
They also redesigned it, which is a relief; if I have one complaint about comiXology, it’s their tendency to throw a bewildering array of comics onto the screen all at once. The original webstore put a ton of comics on the front page (a page that didn’t scroll properly, remember), while this new one mirrors the design of their iPad app, with a smaller selection and tabs to allow the reader to go deeper. Navigation is pretty straightforward—the site is a little slow, but it is still in beta. The comics reader is still in Flash for now.
ComiXology CEO David Steinberger has more details at the comiXology blog, and I spoke to him about the new storefront yesterday. While the iOS app remains the most popular channel, he said, “More and more people actually use our website, once they discover it, to shop and buy, and I hope with the HTML5 release, more will do that.” One of the new features of the web store is that users can gift a cart, rather than just a single comic. “Right now we are going to finish releasing all of Bone, so you will be able to add the whole Bone series to your card and gift it to somebody,” Steinberger said. “We have Sandman at a very competitive price to the paperback. Comics people create more comics people by getting in tune with their friends and gifting them comics.”
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 this week, the first thing I’d grab would be a complete nostalgia-buy: DC Retroactive: Justice League of America – The 70s #1 (DC, $4.99), because I am a complete and utter sucker for JLA stories, and grew up reading old back issues of the title I found at used bookstores. This would be worth it for the reprint at the back alone, never mind the new story by Cary Bates that looks like it’s playing around with the multiverse one more time. To accompany that, I’d also pick up the first two issues of Joe Harris and Brett Weldele’s Spontaneous (both $3.99), because – even though I missed the Free Comic Book Day release of the debut – I’m a fan of Harris’ Ghost Projekt and Weldele’s work on The Surrogates, and curious to see just where a book about spontaneous human combustion can actually go.
Next month (August 3 to be exact) marks the release of writer Philip Gelatt and artist Tyler Crook‘s original graphic novel (published by Oni Press), Petrograd. To mark the upcoming release, Crook was kind enough to do an email interview with me. You might also recognize Crook’s name and work, given the fact he started his high profile role as Dark Horse’s B.P.R.D. artist this month. We discuss both projects. But before the interview begins, here’s Oni’s description of Petrograd: “During the height of the first World War, a reluctant British spy stationed in the heart of the Russian empire is handed the most difficult assignment of his career: orchestrate the death of the mad monk, the Tsarina’s most trusted adviser and the surrogate ruler of the nation. From the slums of the working class into the opulent houses of the super rich, he’ll have to negotiate dangerous ties with the secret police, navigate the halls of power, and come to terms with own revolutionary leanings, all while simply trying to survive.” Once you’ve read the interview, be sure to also visit CBR’s Petrograd preview.
Tim O’Shea: Were you interested in Russian history at all before tackling Petrograd? Once you got involved with the project, how much research did you have to do, on a variety of subjects, including the British Secret Service?
Tyler Crook: I was only interested in Russian history a little bit before this project. But mostly I’ve been interested in Russian Literature. Mostly Gogol and Dostoyevsky. Reading that stuff requires a little bit of history knowledge but I only ever figured out enough to get by. Phil Gelatt, the writer, did most of the heavy lifting when it came to doing the research. I read a couple books about the Soviet Revolution and scoured my local libraries for book with photos of Russia during the time period. I tried to use Google sparingly. The hardest part was finding photos of regular people doing regular things.
Brendan Hay of Robot Chicken fame is teaming up with artist Justin Wagner for a new series from Oni Press called Rascal Raccoon’s Raging Revenge. Announced at the Oni Press panel at the San Diego Comic-Con today, the book asks the question, “What if the coyote ever killed the Road Runner?”
The story stars Rascal Raccoon, a “meanie” in the cartoon world, who takes credit for the accidental death of his nemesis, Jumping Jackalope. Rascal goes through an existential crisis as a result of killing his arch-enemy and goes looking for new targets for his rage. The book comes out in December, and you can check out preview pages that were revealed at the panel after the jump.
Black Metal, Book 1
Written by Rick Spears; Illustrated by Chuck BB
As someone who’s not a fan of Black Metal the Music Genre, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about Black Metal the Graphic Novel. I hoped I’d like it. I love Chuck BB’s (Secret Skull) art for one thing. I’ve also heard great things about Rick Spears’ Teenagers from Mars. Mostly though, while I don’t dig a lot of the music, I’m very entertained by the trappings of Metal: the skulls, the demon lords…the Vikings. If Spears and BB were able to just tell an awesome story with all that stuff, Black Metal would succeed.
Undoubtedly, readers will find more enjoyment in it the closer they relate to the music and the culture that Black Metal celebrates. There’s no false advertising in that title. Shawn and Sam Stronghand are an orphaned pair of junior high twins who’ve been shuffled from school to school and foster home to foster home. They also – as the book says – have “a penchant for the darkest of metal.” When they play an album by a hardcore band called Frost Axe, they hear the legend of a war in Hell between two Barons: a huge, horned bruiser called the Roth and the sinister demon named Von Char who defeated the Roth through trickery. Playing the record backwards, the twins are pulled to Hell where they recover the Roth’s Sword of Atoll and return to Earth with it.
Von Char doesn’t like this of course and sends minions to kill the boys. As the Stronghands (and their gross little foster brother) try to survive, they encounter a band of ancient warriors (action!), Norse gods (adventure!), and cute girls (romance!) only one of whom is human.
I’d imagine that for many Robot 6 readers, there are no sweeter five words in the English language than the title of this post. Then allow me to introduce you to this variant version of a new Scott Pilgrim poster from the upcoming SP box set. Drawn by Bryan Lee O’Malley and colored by Rico Renzi (who came up with the idea of this particular version), it popped up on the Tumblr of Oni’s Douglas E. Sherwood the other day and which features Scott and the gang sporting color schemes and power sets that bear a striking resemblance to a certain set of mighty mutants. Envy Adams as Rogue to Scott’s Gambit is an inspired choice, as are Ramona Flowers as Mystique, Knives Chau as
Psylocke Jubilee, Gideon Graves as Mister Sinister…aw, who am I kidding, this mashup is a thing of geeky beauty from top to bottom. K.O.!
Welcome once again 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 what comes home and what stays on the shelves. So join Brigid Alverson, Chris Mautner, Kevin Melrose 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.
This week we’re coming to you a day late, as comics won’t arrive in shops in the United States until tomorrow due to this past Monday’s big holiday. And check out Diamond’s full release list if you’d like to play along in our comments section.
If I had $15 …
Batman and Robin #14 ($2.99)
Glamourpuss #15 ($3)
Starstruck #13 ($3.99)
My three main purchases for the week. The one of note is the final issue of Elaine May and Michael Kaluta’s Starstruck. I have no idea if IDW plans on collecting the series or not, or if there are other Starstruck mini-series in the works (I’m guessing not; my Spidey-sense tells me that the series wasn’t a solid seller for the company), but if this is the end (at least for now), I’m grateful to IDW for taking a chance and introducing me to what can only be described as an utterly dense and utterly unique comics-reading experience.
Soon after friend of the blog and writer Jamie S. Rich sent me an advance PDF of his latest Oni graphic novel, Spell Checkers (set to be released by Oni this Wednesday), he also offered me the opportunity to interview artist, Nicolas Hitori de. Getting to email interview Hitori de about his collaboration (with Rich and the project’s other artist, Joëlle Jones) was a chance I could not decline. Here’s publisher Oni Press’ official description of the book: “Three teenaged witches use their power for popularity, good grades, and the good life. When nasty graffiti starts showing up about them at their school, they first suspect one another. But when they start losing their powers, and their magical fetishes disappear, they realize this is an attack from outside their circle, and they must join hands (and wits) to defeat the usurper and her demon companion!” After reading the interview, please avail yourself of the 22-page preview from Oni.
The Apocalipstix, Volume 1
Written by Ray Fawkes; Illustrated by Cameron Stewart
I first encountered the world’s greatest post-apocalyptic band in the Rumble Royale anthology from Canada’s Royal Academy of Illustration and Design. There was a Sam Hiti story in it I wanted, but it also introduced me to The Apocalipstix (and Chip Zdarsky, but that’s another story). It’s well worth tracking down.
Much easier to get is Oni’s publication of the further adventures of The Apocalipstix. The band is sort of the Mad Max version of Josie and the Pussycats. The world has ended in nuclear fire, but that’s not stopping Mandy, Dot, and Meg from going on tour. The End-of-the-World Tour, they call it. The book is made up of three stories, each of which more or less stands on its own, but are all loosely tied together by the context of the girls’ tour.