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Comics A.M. | Publisher Filip Sablik leaves Top Cow Productions

Filip Sablik

Publishing | Heidi MacDonald catches word that Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik is moving on to a new job, which will be announced next month at Comic-Con International (Rich Johnston contends that gig is at BOOM! Studios). Friday will be Sablik’s last day at Top Cow; Social Marketing Coordinator Jessi Reid will assume his marketing duties. [The Beat, Bleeding Cool]

Creators | Through its partnership with the Small Press Expo, the Library of Congress has acquired works by cartoonists Matt Bors, Keith Knight, Jim Rugg, Jen Sorensen, Raina Telgemeier, Matthew Thurber and Jim Woodring. Dean Haspiel’s minicomics collection was added to the holdings just last week. [Comic Riffs]

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What Are You Reading? with Austin English

Hot Dog Beach

Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly rundown of what comics and other stuff we’ve been checking out recently. Today our special guest is cartoonist Austin English, creator of the graphic novel Christina and Charles and publisher of Domino Books.

To see what Austin and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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Comics A.M. | Graphic novel sales actually stronger than they look?

Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery Deluxe Edition

Retailing | The retail news and analysis site ICv2 contends sales of graphic novels in the direct market may be better than recent numbers indicate because of the way Diamond Comic Distributors reports those figures. While the distributor’s calculations are based on the wholesale value of shipments, ICv2 based its estimates on the retail value, and found graphic novel sales rose 24.4 percent in March, rather than declined 5.7 percent (versus a year ago), and climbed 27.7 percent in April, rather than just 12.6 percent: “The big differences between the wholesale and retail rates of change in recent months appear to be caused by big increases in the number of graphic novels liquidated through Diamond in March and April.  So retail dollars were up, while wholesale dollars lagged. ” [ICv2]

Conventions | Audrey Gillan previews this weekend’s Kapow! in London by casting a spotlight on organizers Lucy and Sarah Unwin — they’re partnered with Mark Millar — and their efforts to create a female-inclusive comic convention. “We ourselves as women organising the show have been accused of misogyny because of the obviously male guest list, but there is just this lack of female creators and it’s the nature of the industry,” Lucy Unwin said. “There’s no point in taking it to heart because I don’t employ the creators. I would love there to be more women at the show in terms of guests.” [The Guardian]

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What are you excited about for 2012?

[Note: this post was assembled by both Tim O'Shea and JK Parkin]

This is our final post for our big birthday bash, and what a post it is. No matter how much stuff we line up, people we interview, etc., there are still tons of folks we like to hear from and include in our giant New Year’s/anniversary/birthday activities. So, as we have in past years, we have asked various comics folks what they are excited about for 2012 in comics–something they aren’t working on and something they are.

There’s a lot of great stuff here–hints at new projects and even some downright announcements. Our thanks to everyone this year who responded!

Jason Latour

Loose Ends 4

I’m most anticipating the 30th Anniversary of HEROES CON (June 22-24, Charlotte, NC) . For any convention 30 years is an amazing run, but the fact that Shelton Drum and his extended family have put this show together every year with nothing but blood, sweat and tears is flat out super heroic.

On the personal front, the challenging and exhilarating ride that’s been Loose Ends will come to a close with issue 4. It’ll be bittersweet to send our child off to into the real world but I can’t wait for you guys to see the work Brunner & Renzi are doing.

I’m also super excited to dip my own toes into the Mignola-verse with the BPRD: The Pickens County Horror [March 28, 2012] and to read the end of Jason Aaron & RM Guera’s Scalped, which is my favorite series in years.

Jason Latour is a writer/artist, most recently the writer of Loose Ends. He spoke with Tim O’Shea about the miniseries in July.

Patrick Zircher

This sounds politic, but it’s genuine: what excites me about comics in 2012 is what’s exciting every year, the work of the talent.  Seeing what the best are up to and how the up-n-comers have grown as artists and writers.  In the new year, I’m also excited about illustrating several books and covers that feature my favorite Avengers.

Patrick Zircher is an artist, who explored the 1920s/1930s era of the Marvel universe in 2011 with the five-issue miniseries, Mystery Men. He spoke with Tim O’Shea about the miniseries in May.

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Comics A.M. | The once and future Extreme Studios; Colleen Doran’s digital success

Youngblood

Creators | With the announcement that Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Studios is back in business, former Extreme Studios employee and current Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson reflects on his time with the studio. “From 1992-1998, Extreme Studios was more or less my life. Youngblood, Supreme, Brigade, Bloodstrike, Team Youngblood, New Men, Prophet, Youngblood: Strikefile, Bloodpool, Glory… We put out a lot of comics, and for the most part everyone involved was incredibly young. Rob and I were amongst the oldest at 25. So many of the artists involved in various aspects of production were just out of their teens, and that made the work as frustrating as it was fun. But looking back, the main thing I remember about that time is Rob wanted to share his success with people who loved comics and wanted to make a living in the business as much as he had.” [It Sparkles!]

Webcomics | A Distant Soil creator Colleen Doran, who began serializing the comic online in 2009, notes “my bottom line is up significantly, and my online audience is ten times higher than when I started the five day a week online serialization of A Distant Soil 2.5 years ago.” She also shares advice she received when she started the endeavor that hasn’t worked for her. [A Distant Soil]

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Raina Telgemeier follows Smile with Drama

Raina Telgemeier has been busy — it seemed like she made it to every single comic convention in the United States and several in Canada over the past year — and last weekend she capped it off by picking up the Eisner Award for Best Publication for Teens for her graphic novel Smile. Despite all that traveling, she has managed to start work on her next graphic novel, and she announced it over the weekend: It will be called Drama, and, she says, “It’s about middle school theater geeks, stage crew, putting on a play, love and hate and friendship, and that’s all I can talk about for now.” The book is due out in fall 2012 from Scholastic/Graphix.

Comic Express raises money, provides comics for kids in Joplin

Comics Express

A group of comic creators have gotten together to create a comic book specifically for the kids in Joplin, who lost their homes after the devastating tornado destroyed around 8,000 buildings in the Missouri town.

Carmen Morais, a former editor for Nickelodeon Magazine, has recruited several cartoonists, designers and editors to help create the comic, titled Comic Express. Contributors, who are donating their time to the project, include Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy), Johnny Ryan (Prison Pit), Raina Telgemeier (Smile), Mark Martin (Gnatrat) and many more. They’re using the site Indie GoGo to raise funds; the site works much like Kickstarter, where you contribute money and receive rewards based on the amount. Donations of $20 or more will receive the comic book, plus other goodies as the amount increases.

Although they’ve reached their goal to pay for the printing, you can still donate money and receive rewards; any money they raise over their target amount will go to the Joplin Public Schools’ Adopt-a-Classroom Fund to replace classroom supplies.


This weekend, it’s Kids Read Comics

If you’re lucky enough to be near Chelsea, Michigan, this weekend, you definitely should check out Kids Read Comics. It’s not so much a convention as a takeover of the whole downtown: The show is centered in the Chelsea Public Library, but 16 nearby shops and restaurants will also be hosting exhibits and activities, including storytelling and costume workshops, lunch with the artists, and a scavenger hunt for kids and teens, and professional development workshops for the grownups.

The organizers have assembled a stellar guest list that includes Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy), Raina Telegmeier (Smile), Rob Worley (Scratch 9), Thom Zahler (Love and Capes), John Ostrander (writer of the Star Wars comics and creator of DC’s Oracle), and Barbara Slate (You Can Do a Graphic Novel). And the show itself has an impressive pedigree: The organizers are Dan Mishkin, one of the creators of Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld; Jerzy Drozd, a creator, educator, and founder of the great kids’ comics site Sugary Serials; Dan Merritt, owner of Green Brain Comics; and librarian Edith Burney. With a series of activies spread out in time and space, this sounds like a refreshing alternative to being stuffed into an airless convention center for ten hours at a time.

Super smurfy fan art by Mebberson and Telgemeier

Two talented artists just presented their own takes on familiar figures: Amy Mebberson shows off her drawings of Supergirl and Batgirl covers; she will be selling prints at Heroescon, and the originals will be auctioned off at the Heroescon annual art auction.

And at Smurfology, where Matt Murray is collecting sketches of the Smurfs by famous artists, Raina Telgemeier contributes a drawing of a Smurf shilling for Chef Boy-Ar-Dee, from an 80s-vintage TV commercial that apparently made a big impression on Raina. Check it out after the jump.

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What Are You Reading?

Smile

Happy holidays and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today’s special guest is Caanan Grall, creator of the webcomic Max Overacts and the Zuda strip Celadore.

To see what Caanan and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …

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Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Crunchyroll

Crunchyroll

Business | Japanese e-book publisher Bitway has invested $750,000 in Crunchyroll, the San Francisco-based website that streams anime and live-action Asian movies. A major distributor of electronic books, including manga, in Japan, Bitway hopes to work with Crunchyroll to develop a comics-distribution platform overseas, with an emphasis on the United States and Canada.

Crunchyroll launched in 2006 as a for-profit site, and featured among its content illegally hosted user-uploaded fansubs and bootleg anime. But in 2009, following a $4 million investment from venture-capital firm Venrock, Crunchyroll began offering only licensed content. The website reportedly attracts 6 million unique visitors a month. [Anime News Network]

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HeroesCon starts today!

The X-Men, as seen by Chris Schweizer

The X-Men, as seen by Chris Schweizer

HeroesCon is just getting under way at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, NC. Here’s a sample of what you have to look forward to if you are going—and what you will miss if you’re not.

Chris Schweizer, creator of Crogan’s Vengeance and Crogan’s March, will be there, and he’ll have some sweet art to sell.

Jeff Parker has created a handy map to make it easier for fans to find him.

Raina Telgemeier will be in Indie Island, and you can also spot her on the panels on Comics as Career and Autobio Comics.

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C2E2 | More creators on parade

David Peterson with Mouse Guard

David Peterson with Mouse Guard

David Peterson was signing copies of his Mouse Guard hardbacks—and giving away the floppies for free, as promotional attractions. The Mouse Guard anthology series launches in May, with single issues out each month through August, followed by a hardcover colection.

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