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Food or Comics? | Rub-A-Dub-Dub, Batman in a tub

Batman #2

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.

Michael May

If I had $15, I’d mostly grab the second issues of some DC stuff I enjoyed last month: Batman ($2.99), Birds of Prey ($2.99), and especially Wonder Woman ($2.99). No Justice League for me though. Unlike Action Comics, I didn’t enjoy the first issue enough that I can rationalize paying $4 for it. Instead, I’ll grab Avengers 1959 #2 ($2.99) and Red 5′s Bonnie Lass #2 ($2.95), both of which had strong first issues.

If I had $30, I’d have to put back Bonnie Lass and wait for the collection in order to afford Jonathan Case’s atomic-sea-monster-love-story Dear Creature ($15.99).

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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. | Should feminists give up on superhero comics?

Catwoman #1

Comics | Dismayed by the portrayal of Catwoman in DC Comics’ relaunched series, Alyssa Rosenberg of ThinkProgress asks whether feminists are wasting their time in hoping and lobbying for better portrayals of women in mainstream superhero comics. While she understands the desire to walk away, the decides in the end “it’s worth it to keep nudging”: “… Even if the industry doesn’t change, there should be voices in the background when folks read these books pointing out their problems. The key is getting folks who really just want to see, say, Catwoman bang Batman and nothing else to hear those critiques and to find a way to engage with them constructively, which is really, profoundly difficult. But I’d rather live in a world where people who don’t want to hear the works they like criticized have to work to shut them out, rather than leaving them to relax into the blissful sounds of silence.”

At The Atlantic, Noah Berlatsky points out that not all comics are like Catwoman or Red Hood and the Outlaws, and recommends some alternatives. Meanwhile, Tom Foss jokingly suggests that the “new” Starfire is merely replacing longtime New Teen Titans creeper Terry Long. [ThinkProgress, The Atlantic]

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Your Wednesday Sequence 21 | Osamu Tezuka

Phoenix: Future (1967), page 15 panel 9 (or is it panels 9-11?).  Osamu Tezuka.

The easiest way of thinking about sequence goes something like this: multiple panels, related by subject or context and taken together at a steady rate, fuse together into a single, more communicative thing.  Something that imparts more meaning than a single drawing can.  But it gets a little more complex than that when the question of what exactly constitutes a panel is raised.

One might say it is an individual drawing, and be correct in a high percentage of cases.  But the true difference between “panel” and “sequence” is functionally impossible to pin down, better defined case by case than with a single sweeping bit of language.  After all, it’s no easy task to define what an “individual drawing” is either.  Is it one fully formed object, such as a figure or an environmental feature?  Perhaps not — there can be plenty of those in single panels.  Is it everything an artist puts down into one uninterrupted space?  Maybe, but in that case are word balloons separate panels?  The lines blur when you look at it too carefully, and as with everything in the language of comics, an attempt to state a definition with words is doomed to fail.  The eyes know better than the written word can say; better to go through a book of your choosing, any will do, and let them tell you that this thing, this drawing or collection of drawings is a panel, and this one a sequence.

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Osamu Tezuka is coming to your iPad

Can’t get enough of Astro Boy and Black Jack? Here’s some good news for fans of Osamu Tezuka, a.k.a. “the father of manga”: Tezuka Productions is putting out an iPad app containing 62 volumes of Tezuka’s work and 39 episodes of “Motion Manga.” The manga are translated (the motion manga are subtitled) and stored in the cloud, and you can access all of it for a subscription fee of $9.99 per month. It’s already in the iTunes store. The service will expand to Android tablets in the fall and winter, and a host of other foreign-language versions are under consideration.

I downloaded the app, which is free, onto my iPad. The selection isn’t bad: In addition to Black Jack and Astro Boy, it offers volumes of Ode to Kirihito, Apollo’s Song, Dororo, Phoenix, Buddha, MW, and Adolf. (One has to wonder how some of this content got through the iTunes store’s screening.) It’s not very responsive, though: I got the opening screen you see above, but the touch controls to download the magazines and configure the app didn’t respond until I held my finger down on them for a while. This happens sometimes with iPad apps—Comics+ used to be very slow and you had to almost hit the screen to make it work, before they upgraded it—but by now I’d like to see that kind of bug worked out. One more beef, as long as I’m complaining: It’s customary to offer some free samples to entice people to buy, but all you get with this app is an invitation to subscribe. I’d rather pay a few dollars more for one of Vertical’s beautifully produced volumes of Black Jack or Dororo and get to keep it forever, but if you want to gorge yourself at an all-you-can-eat Tezuka buffet, this does offer a lot of manga for a decent price.

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

Space Warped

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.

Brigid Alverson

If I had $15:

I’d surround myself with good-humored, good-natured comics. Sometimes you just gotta do that. My stack would include Veronica #207 ($2.99), which launches the new Kevin Keller miniseries; Donald Duck #367 ($3.99), with a rework of a classic Carl Barks story; Space Warped ($3.99), kaboom’s new Star Wars parody comic (I probably won’t get half the jokes, but it looks like it’s worth checking out); and Love and Capes Ever After #5 ($3.99), just because Love and Capes is such a charming comic. I may be poor, but at least I’ll be happy.

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What Are You Reading?

Any Empire

Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is Robert Stanley Martin.

Robert writes for his blog Pol Culture, and is a contributing writer to The Hooded Utilitarian. He is a past contributor to The Comics Journal, and his essays on R. Crumb’s The Book of Genesis Illustrated and Eddie Campbell’s Alec: The Years Have Pants are featured in the soon-to-be-released The Comics Journal #301.

To see what Robert and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click on through …

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Castle graphic novel by Bendis, DeConnick, Medina on the way

Publishers try to keep new projects under wraps, but there’s a whole cottage industry out there of folks who look through the Amazon listings for new books. The latest one, spotted by Albert Ching of Blog@Newsarama: A listing for Castle: Deadly Storm, by Brian Michael Bendis, Kelly Sue DeConnick, and Lan Medina. Albert goes out on a fairly short limb and guesses that this is a graphic novel (Medina is listed as the illustrator) based on the ABC series Castle, and indeed, the Hachette Book Group International catalog confirms this—check out page 65. Quick plot summary: This “adaptation” of Derrick Storm’s first novel adventure takes our hero from the gritty world of the private eye all the way to the globe-hopping intrigue of the CIA.” The book is hardcover, 112 pages, full color priced at $19.99 (already discounted to $13.59 on Amazon) and published by Marvel.

Manga blogger Lissa Pattillo has spotted a few more finds on Amazon.ca (Lissa is Canadian, so all prices are in Canadian dollars, but it looks like the U.S. prices are almost the same): a Fullmetal Alchemist box set that includes all 27 volumes of the manga, a novel, and other extras, all for $219 (discounted to $137.93) and due out in November, and an omnibus edition of Osamu Tezuka’s Dororo, 880 pages of Tezuka goodness for $29.95 $23.32.

What Are You Reading?

Vietnamerica

Welcome to a special Super Bowl Sunday edition of What Are You Reading? Not that it’s any different from a regular WAYR column, but you can enjoy it while eating hot wings while the TV is paused.

Today our special guest is biology professor Jay Hosler, creator of Clan Apis and Optical Allusions. His latest book, Evolution, with artists Kevin Cannon and Zandor Cannon, was recently released by Hill & Wang. Check out his blog for a story he’s working on about photosynthesis.

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

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

Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever

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.

Michael May

If I had $15:

I’d start with Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever #1 ($2.99). I love weird western tales and can’t imagine a better creative team for one than the writers of BPRD and artist John Severin, who illustrated so many of Atlas’ classic westerns. Then I’d grab The Muppet Show, Volume 5: Muppet Mash ($9.99) because hey, Roger Langridge, Muppets and classic monsters.

If I had $30:

I’d add a couple of Big Two all-ages comics to the pile. If Marvel’s Super Hero Squad Spectacular #1 ($3.99) is half as fun as the show it’s based on, it’ll be worth taking home and reading to the boy. I’ll just have to keep ignoring the irritating, unnecessarily three-fingered character designs. I’m even more confident that we’ll enjoy DC’s Super Friends, Volume 4: Mystery in Space ($12.99) because we’ve been so delighted with the first three collections. David just turned nine and by way of celebration, he wanted to go back and re-read the Superman’s Birthday story from volume two.

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Comics A.M. | Spiegelman wins Grand Prix, Borders delays more payments

Art Spiegelman

Awards | Art Spiegelman on Sunday won the Grand Prix at the Angoulême International Comics Festival, marking only the third time an American has received the honor (the other two were Will Eisner and Robert Crumb). “Considering my poor skills, I’m looking a little like the president Obama receiving the Nobel Peace prize,” he told the festival by telephone from the United States. Spiegelman will serve as the grand marshal for next year’s event.

Other winners at the four-day festival, which drew an estimated 200,000 visitors, include David Mazzuchelli for Asterios Polyp (Grand Jury Prize), and Naoki Urasawa and the late Osamu Tezuka for Pluto (Intergenerational Award). The full list of winners can be found here. [Agence France-Presse]

Retailing | The beleaguered Borders Group announced on Sunday that it’s delaying January payments to vendors and landlords in an effort to save cash while it tries to complete a debt restructuring. This marks the second round of delays for the bookseller, which has been pressuring large publishers and distributors to agree by Feb. 1 to convert late payments into $125 million in loans. The bookstore chain announced just last week that it secured a $550 million credit line from G.E. Capital, but only if several tough conditions were met — including an unlikely agreement from publishers. [The Wall Street Journal]

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Vertical lands two coveted manga

Drops of God

Good news for fans of fine wines and vintage manga: Vertical, Inc., a small manga publisher with one of the most interesting lines around, will announce two new manga licenses today: Princess Knight and Drops of God.

Princess Knight, by Osamu Tezuka, was published in 1953 and was one of the earliest shoujo (girls’) manga. It’s a swashbuckling story of a princess who masquerades as a boy so she can have daring adventures and save her kingdom from an evil tyrant. It actually has been published in English before: The Japanese publisher Kodansha published a bilingual English-Japanese edition in 1970. Hardcore manga fans have been clamoring for a new edition for years, and Viz ran a chapter in Shojo Beat magazine in 2007. Kate Dacey, a.k.a. The Manga Critic, has a nice primer on Princess Knight at her blog.

Drops of God (Kami no Shizuku) is a completely different type of manga, and it has gotten quite a bit of press for a series that isn’t legally available in English, perhaps because of the subject matter: It’s about winemaking. After a famous wine critic passes away, his son learns that he has an adopted brother and that the two of them must compete in a wine-tasting contest in order to inherit the estate. Yeah, it’s your basic battle manga, except that instead of trying to kick each others’ asses, the main characters are striving to identify rare wines. The manga has helped boost the sales of some of the featured wines in Japan and South Korea, and it has already been translated into French. The New York Times even profiled the creators of the manga, brother-and-sister team Shin and Yuko Kibayashi.

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

Action Comics Annual #13

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 comics come home and which ones stay on the shelves. So join us as we run down what comics we’d buy if they 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 release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Graeme McMillan

If I had $15, I’d spend the first $2.99 on the last King City, which definitely appears on this week’s list. Yay! Then I’d split the remaining $13 between two DC Comics: Paul Cornell’s Action Comics Annual #13 ($4.99), in which a young Lex Luthor meets Darkseid (Editor Wil Moss promised me on Twitter the other week that this will fulfill my sick, sick desire for more comics like Jack Kirby’s Super Powers toy tie-ins from the 1980s, so I’m entirely sold) and Vertigo Resurrected: Winter’s Edge #1 ($7.99), a collection of long out-of-print seasonal tales starring Vertigo favorites and forgotten ghost characters from Christmas Past. Be warned: I’m a sucker for Holiday comics, so expect to see me picking those a lot in the next few weeks. It’s the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, after all.

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If there were a comics version of the Netflix Watch Instantly queue, what would you put on it?

Today Pop Candy’s Whitney Matheson did something that some consider too revealing even in this socially networked, airport x-ray’d age: She posted 20 movies from her Netflix “Watch Instantly” queue. Like anyone else’s, it’s a motley crew of movies made possible by a massive library of films and the power to watch any of them at any time with a few clicks of a mouse — a blend of “comfort food” you want access to at all times, unwatched stuff you’re dying to see at the next available opportunity, major investments of time or energy you haven’t been prepared to make just yet, “eat your vegetables” fare you know you ought to watch eventually, and goofy guilty pleasures you’re simply tickled to be able to watch whenever you feel like it.

This got me thinking. I know there are any number of logistical and financial reasons why such a thing doesn’t exist for comics. But we comics readers are an imaginative bunch, no? And today I choose to imagine a world where I can load up pretty much any book I can think of and read to my heart’s content. So here’s what my imaginary “Read Instantly” queue would look like, circa today. Check it out, then let us know what’s on your queue in the comments!

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What Are You Reading?

Blood's a Rover

Blood's a Rover

Hello and welcome once again to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew talk about the comics and graphic novels that they’ve been enjoying lately. Our special guest this week is comics journalist and critic Dirk Deppey of Journalista and The Comics Journal fame.

To see what Dirk and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, read on …

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