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Criterion enlists comics artists to illustrate ‘Zatoichi’ box set

ZATOICHIblack

Boutique home video distributor Criterion commissioned Samuel Hiti (Los Tiempos FinalesDeath-Day) and a list of other great comics artists to create artwork for the individual films in the company’s box set for the long-running Zatoichi series starring Shintaro Katsu as a blind, but incredibly quick and accurate swordsman. Hiti designed the cover for Zatoichi the Fugitive, the fourth in the series.

Twenty-five Zatoichi films were produced between 1962 and 1973, making it the longest-running action series in Japanese history. There was also a four-season TV series in the late ’70s. The Criterion box set collects those first 25 feature films in one package for the first time, but doesn’t include 1989′s Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman, written and directed by Shintaro Katsu himself.

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Comics A.M. | Market shrinks for Australian comic strips

Ginger Meggs

Ginger Meggs

Comics strips | Matt Saracini looks at the impact on Australian cartoonists of a cost-cutting decision by media giant News Corp. Australia to replace individual comics pages in their largest newspapers with one national page. In the process, some more expensive locally produced strips were jettisoned in favor for cheaper syndicated ones from overseas, like Garfield and The Phantom. News Corp. owns more than a hundred daily, weekly, biweekly and triweekly newspapers. [SBS.com]

Creators | Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat, now living in Kuwait after troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attacked him and broke both his hands, talks about his decision to portray al-Assad explicitly in his cartoons, rather than sticking to more generic themes like freedom and human rights: “It was a big decision to start to draw Bashar and, yes, I was scared of what might happen, particularly when I was attacked. But I had a responsibility to do what I did. If I am not prepared to take risks I have no right to call myself an artist. If there is no mission or message to my work I might as well be a painter and decorator.” [The Guardian]

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Quote of the Day | ‘We publish comics for 45-year-olds’

kamandi-pope“Batman did pretty well, so I sat down with the head of DC Comics. I really wanted to do Kamandi [The Last Boy on Earth], this Jack Kirby character. I had this great pitch … and he said, ‘You think this is gonna be for kids? Stop, stop. We don’t publish comics for kids. We publish comics for 45-year-olds. If you want to do comics for kids, you can do Scooby-Doo. And I thought, ‘I guess we just broke up.’”

Paul Pope, relating his attempt to pitch an all-ages (or perhaps young-adult) title to DC Comics, during his Comic-Con International conversation with Gene Luen Yang.

Pope has previously mentioned his idea for Kamandi, a collaboration with writer Brian Azzarello that he described as “a violent adventure story for young readers with a boy lead character.” He’s even revealed a few pieces of art from the pitch. However, as the artist noted in 2010, “if DC would’ve given me & Brian Azzarello a Kamandi series, I’d never have created Battling Boy.”

Monsters don’t stand a chance in trailer for Pope’s ‘Battling Boy’

battling-boy-trailer

I’m not sure how this slipped beneath the radar, but BoingBoing has debuted the trailer for Paul Pope’s long-awaited graphic novel Battling Boy, and it’s kind of great. There’s also a preview, part of which we’ve seen previously.

Arriving Oct. 8 from First Second, Battling Boy centers on on the son of a war god — he’s been characterized as a “haughty yet naïve superboy” — who’s sent by his father to rid the Monstropolis of monsters after Haggard West, the previous protector of the continent-sized city, is assassinated. There’s also West’s daughter Aurora, a wannabe hero with a taste for vengeance. (Haggard West starred last month in his own one-shot, which of course ended poorly for the hero. “Haggard is dead for good at the end of this one-shot,” Pope told Comic Book Resources, “but his tragic ending sets a much larger wheel in motion, which sucks in the realms of gods and monsters, battling it out in the realm of humans.”)

A second volume of Battling Boy is targeted for release next year.

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‘Little Nemo’ anthology boasts Adams, Sienkiewicz, Pope & more

Print

Logo by Todd Klein.

At Comic-Con International in San Diego, IDW Publishing announced that Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo will return in a new series titled Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland, by Eric Shanower and Gabriel Rodriguez. As it turns out, there’s more to Little Nemo than just one new book.

Comics store turned small-press publisher Locust Moon is putting together an anthology of Little Nemo stories called Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream. Scheduled for release in 2014, the book has an eye-opening A-list lineup, including Peter Bagge, John Cassaday, Neal Adams, Bill Sienkiewicz, Becky Cloonan, Scott Morse, David Petersen, Mark Buckingham, Paul Pope and  J.G. Jones. This book is a follow-up from the company’s anthology Once Upon a Time Machine, released last year by Dark Horse.

Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream will be published by Locust Moon as both a newspaper and a hardcover book, at the full size of the original Little Nemo pages — 16 inches by 21 inches. Described by Locust moon as a “love song for Winsor McCay, Little Nemo and the limitless possibilities of comics,” this is definitely one to watch. Here are several sample pages:

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Dan McDaid on the all-star team behind ‘Catalyst Comix’

WTP header

Dark Horse’s Catalyst Comix, a title I’ve been looking forward to since it was announced in October at New York Comic Con, at last debuts today. Joe Casey is a writer who starts every project with a manifesto, and this one is no different: Relaunching a relatively unmourned line of comics in his own image, he’s seeking to create a superhero book that’s an antidote to “the overly conservative nature of Marvel and DC.” I can appreciate that ambition, but what really sold me is the sheer depth of the pool of artistic talent assembled to bring Casey’s scripts to life: Dan McDaid, Ulises Farinas and Paul Maybury drawing the three strips that make up each issue. Rafael Grampa, Paul Pope and Brendan McCarthy are rotating as cover artists.

I spoke to Dan McDaid on the eve of the book’s launch to discuss working within this all-star team of creators, and he shared his process on creating a typically powerful, apocalyptic-looking sequence of his strip, starring Frank Wells, the hero formerly known as Titan, from Will to Power.

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Comics at the book con: A day at BookExpo America

Andrew Aydin and Rep. John Lewis

Andrew Aydin and Rep. John Lewis

BookExpo America takes place the Javits Center, just like New York Comic Con, but it’s a completely different kind of show. It’s a trade show, not a consumer show, so the folks in the aisles aren’t fans looking for a fix, they are potential customers to be wooed. And what you see there is a pretty reliable guide to what everyone will be talking about in a couple of months.

So if you happened into the little graphic novel enclave at the right time, you might see Gene Luen Yang sitting there, pen in hand, ready to autograph a free Avatar graphic novel for you, or maybe Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights pioneer, sitting next to Andrew Aydin, with ashcans of their graphic novel about Lewis’ life, March, and while you might have to wait a few minutes for your turn, you wouldn’t have to stand on the sort of long lines they might draw at San Diego. The pace is more leisurely than a comic convention — the creators chat as they sign your comics — and the blasting noise of video game and movie displays is blissfully absent.

It’s true there aren’t a lot of comics publishers at BEA, although there are a fair number of book publishers who include comics in their lines. Abrams didn’t send their ComicArts people, but if you consider Diary of a Wimpy Kid to be a comic (I’m always happy to claim that one for our side), then they were well represented, and many attendees had Wimpy Kid stickers on their badges.

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New York bookstore offers personalized copies of ‘Battling Boy’

So, you’ve been waiting for Paul Pope’s Battling Boy in varying states of eagerness and frustration since first hearing about the project in 2006. Perhaps now you’ve seen actual physical proof that this near-mythical beast exists in the wild, and as such have allowed any despondency to be replaced again by sweet anticipation. Thinking, hey, looks like I’ll finally get my hands on this, you go ahead and pre-order it from your regular book pusher.

Well, in the immortal words of Warren Zevon, reconsider that pre-order: It turns out Pope has a special relationship going on with his local bookstore in Brooklyn, Word, and if you order it from them before Oct. 4, you can get an autographed and personalized copy instead, with the books then shipping on the official release date of Oct. 8.

Tempting, isn’t it? Just make it “To Mark, better late than never!”

(via Destroy Comics)

This weekend, it’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival

TCAF 2013 poster

The Toronto Comic Arts Festival celebrates its 10th birthday this weekend with a truly stellar lineup of guests and an amazing array of events. The list of creators who will be there is impressive in both its quality and its breadth: Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, David B., Taiyo Matsumoto, Rutu Modan, Frederik Peeters, Paul Pope, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Hope Larson, Faith Erin Hicks, Derf Backderf, Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman, a roll call that goes from living legends to plucky creators making their own comics zines by hand.

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Comics A.M. | Weak April for graphic novels in bookstores

The Walking Dead Compendium, Vol. 2

The Walking Dead Compendium, Vol. 2

Graphic novels | April was a slow month for new graphic novel releases, so the BookScan Top 20 had plenty of room for some backlist titles. The Walking Dead dominated, of course, but the 10th volume of Sailor Moon was there for a second month and actually moved up a notch. And the first volume of Saga came in at No. 12, perhaps because people were curious as to what all the fuss is about. [ICv2]

Editorial cartoons | Nick Anderson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for the Houston Chronicle, has responded to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s criticism of Jack Ohman’s cartoon with a cartoon of his own. [Comic Riffs]

Conventions | Jeff Smith, Brian Wood, Sean Murphy and Raina Telgemeier are the headline guests at the Maine Comics Arts Festival in Portland on May 19. [Foster's Daily Democrat]

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Dave Zissou animates Paul Pope’s Orion, adds Kirby tribute

Orion gif header

We do like a good comic-related GIF at Robot 6 (hence our frequent displays of love for Kerry Callen, or for the hypnotic delight of Rob Brindle’s Batman). Now here’s one created by cartoonist Dave Zissou after his experiments coloring Paul Pope’s gray-washed sketches of Jack Kirby’s Orion of the New Gods.

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Inside First Second with Calista Brill and Colleen AF Venable

Calista Brill and Colleen AF Venable

Calista Brill and Colleen AF Venable

Since its launch in 2006, First Second has built a solid reputation as a publisher of high-quality graphic novels: Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese, Emmanuel Guibert’s The Photographer, Mark Siegel’s Sailor Twain, and Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado’s Giants Beware testify to both the breadth and the quality of the company’s line.

I was offered the opportunity to interview editor Calista Brill and designer Colleen AF Venable about the past year at First Second and what we can expect in 2013, but I couldn’t resist the temptation to sneak in some questions about the nuts and bolts of working with creators and editing graphic novels.

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Comics A.M. | ‘Walking Dead’ eases its grip on bookstore chart

The Walking Dead, Vol. 17

The Walking Dead, Vol. 17

Graphic novels | BookScan’s January list of the Top 20 graphic novels sold in bookstores shows a bit more variety than the previous month, in which 10 of the slots were taken by volumes of The Walking Dead. This time it’s just six, with Building Stories, Saga, and the latest volumes of Sailor Moon and Fables cracking the Top 10. An adaptation of the Book of Revelation from evangelical publisher Zondervan was No. 9, followed by perennial bestseller Watchmen. (Note: The original version erroneously reported the number of Walking Dead titles in the Top 20.) [ICv2]

Creators | Paul Pope talks about his graphic novel Battling Boy, due out this summer, as well as the prequel comic The Death of Haggard West, which will released in in July. [Kotaku]

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What Are You Reading? with Steven Sanders

Gantz

Gantz

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at the books, comics and what have you that the Robot 6 crew have been perusing of late. Today we welcome our special guest Steven Sanders, artist of such comics as Wolverine and the X-Men, Wolverine, S.W.O.R.D, Our Love is Real, The Five Fists of Science and more. He’s currently using Kickstarter to raise funds for a “Creative Commons art book” called Symbiosis.

“Symbiosis is a world-building art book that tells the story of a woman’s travels through a world where the symbiotic relationship that we have with technology is made much more visceral,” the Kickstarter page reads. “All sources of power are generated by bio-etheric engines, with which the operators share a direct mental link. The story-telling is loose and mostly visual. It will be told with art that uses a variety of media and formats: fully painted, colored line art, black-and-white line art, and comic art. What you do with this story is up to you. Enjoy it on its own merits, or take it and spin it off into any of a million different directions.”

To see what Steven and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below:

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Previews: What Looks Good for April

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. We’ve each picked the five comics we’re most anticipating in order to create a list of the best new stuff coming out two months from now.

As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.

Crater XV

Graeme McMillan

Crater XV HC (Top Shelf, $19.95): I’ve been following (and loving) the serialization of Kevin Cannon’s follow-up to Far Arden in the digital pages of Double Barrel, but I know that I’ll be picking up this hardcover collection of the further adventures of sea dog Rusty Shanks nonetheless. The Canadian space program deserves no less.

In The Days of the Mob HC (DC Comics, $39.99): To say that Kirby’s 1970s take on the organized-crime world of the 1930s is something I’ve been longing to read since I first discovered its existence would be an understatement, so I’m definitely looking forward to this deluxe reprint, complete with material that wasn’t in the original edition.

Indigo Prime: Anthropocalypse TP (Rebellion/2000AD, $24.99): John Smith’s cosmic authorities are one of comics’ most secret treasures, I think, especially when he’s paired with an artist like Edmund Bagwell, who brings a wonderful Euro-Kirby influence to the stories in this collection. Really looking forward to this one.

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen GN (First Second, $17.99): As a sucker for good autobiographical comics and also good food writing, the idea of Lucy Knisley creating a food-centric memoir — complete with recipes! — is far too good to ignore. I love that publishers like First Second are publishing work like this.

Solo Deluxe Edition HC (DC Comics, $49.99): Even though I own most of these issues from their original appearance, the oversized hardcover format is waaaay too tempting when you consider some of the material this book has up its 500+ page sleeve: Paul Pope covering Kirby! Brendan McCarthy channeling Ditko as only he could! The amazing Darwyn Cooke issue! The only thing that could make this better would be if it included work completed on follow-up issues before the plug had been pulled … But maybe that can appear in a second volume, one day…

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