DC Comics' July Highlights: "Batgirl," "Nightwing" and a "New Super-Man"
I’ve been a fan of Thomas Hall and Daniel Bradford’s Robot 13 for awhile now; it was probably one of the first comics I bought digitally when I got my iPhone, and, c’mon, the name. The duo is now looking to collect the first three issues of the series into a trade paperback, and they’ve turned to Kickstarter to get help.
“Blacklist Studios was started by Daniel Bradford and Thomas Hall to take their Comic projects to the widest possible audience, while retaining as much creative control as possible,” their Kickstarter page reads. “To that end, they put in their own money to start the company and have handled everything from the writing and art to the printing and distribution of their books themselves. As much of what we make from doing books and shows as possible is put back into making Comics- of the money we raise, about $4000 is to cover printing costs, with the rest split between shipping materials, postage, rewards and storage for the remaining inventory. Right now, Blacklist Studios is a TRUE ‘cottage industry,’ in that all of the excess inventory is stored in our apartments. In order to handle something as large as a run of Trade paperbacks, however, we need to move everything to outside storage.”
A pledge of $13 will get you the trade, and they’ve got several other incentives if you pledge more than that, like T-shirts, buttons, sketches, mini-figures and issues of their other comic, King. “At the top level, one fan will have their likeness used in a future issue of Robot 13 and be eaten by a giant monster,” Hall told me over email.
The Kickstarter campaign runs through March 13. Check out the shirt after the jump.
The big news in the e-book world this week was the Digital Book World convention in New York, and the big news for Robot 6 is that Robot 13 (no relation) won the Publishing Innovation Award in the comics category.
If there was every any doubt that comics have arrived, brush it away: There were only five awards categories, and comics made the cut alongside fiction, non-fiction, children’s, and reference. And the list of nominees was quite diverse:
The nominating judges clearly favorited individual comics over publishers: comiXology, iVerse, and Graphicly are all absent from this list, despite the fact that they have been doing quite a bit of genuine innovation. And it’s worth noting that for the judges, iTunes isn’t king. The finalists for the awards were Robot 13, Operation Ajax and Tumor, and two out of these three are not iPad comics: Robot 13 is available for iPhone but was originally developed for Android, while Tumor is distributed via Kindle. In the eyes of these judges, at least, there’s still quite a bit of diversity in the digital world.
Printed, Bodyworld is 384 pages. That’s a lengthy piece of fiction. Online, it is 14 chapters worth of “infinite canvas.” The promise of infinity sounds great when discussed in theory, but in practice the method kind of fails me. To take in the complete story of Body World, it helps to bookmark your progress for a break, it also helps to reference old images on past pages. It is totally irritating to do this online, but far easier to do in print.
Webcomics: Warren Ellis is doing that thing again where he asks creators to come forward and tell his readers about the webcomics they are working on. This is a great way to find new things to read, and he promises to make it a monthly thing. (Via the indispensable ComixTalk.)
Webcomics: DKM Marlink takes a look at webcomics that ended abruptly, leaving readers longing for closure.
Robot 13 #2
Written by Thomas Hall; Illustrated by Daniel Bradford
After I read Robot 13 #1 I wrote that “I hope it’s not a surprise or an insult to say that Daniel Bradford is no Mike Mignola. He’s very good at imitating the style and the colors, but I think I’ll enjoy him more once he finds his own groove. His work already has a sense of humor that breaks the boundaries of his inspiration, so I know it’s coming. I’m looking forward to it.”
Pleased to say that – if issue #2 is an indication of the direction Bradford’s going with his art – that seems to be happening. The work’s more detailed this time around and he does some really cool things with the colors, especially in the flames of the giant phoenix that attacks Robot 13. That sense of humor I mentioned last time is on display again too, but even larger. As a couple of guys are watching the robot-bird fight, their faces are almost manga-like in their expressiveness.
The first issue looked like Bradford was working hard to mimic Mignola. Even though he was mostly successful at that, it’s great to see him relax with this issue and do his own thing. Robot 13’s design will probably always be reminiscent of Mignola, but he’s drawn more naturally this time. And because of that, he feels more like a real character.
Written by Charles Soule; Illustrated by Allen Gladfelter
I said in the weekend’s What Are You Reading that I wasn’t sure what to make of the lucha libre genre. “I can easily embrace the sillier aspects of it,” I said, “but it’s off-putting to me that people in the stories always seem to take the luchadors so seriously. We’re asked to believe that the ridiculous masks are badges of honor that command respect. Strongman plays around with that idea and I appreciate that about it.”
Having finished the book, I’m not sure that “plays around with” is the right verb. What Strongman seems to do is acknowledge the irony of the concept, but ends up defending it. As writer Charles Soule says in the press release for the book, “The real-life luchadors were incredible, larger-than-life figures. They were basically real-world superheroes – many of them never took their masks off in public. These people were big deals. And I thought a story that played with their legend a bit, while remaining respectful could be something special.” Okay, so Soule uses “played with” too. Maybe that is what he’s doing. I’m not the best person to judge.
As an outsider to the lucha libre world, I see movie titles like Mil Máscaras vs. the Aztec Mummy and Santo vs. the Vampire Women and I think, “Awesome!” I’m not however thinking about how much I respect El Santo and Mil Máscaras. I mean, no more than I respect Indiana Jones or Batman.
More plus Robot 13 below the cut.
Writer Thomas Hall and artist Daniel Bradford have worked together since 2003, and in a few short weeks they’ll publish a new title that really caught my eye when I received an email about it. Making its debut at the 2009 MoCCA Festival, which is presented every year by the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art in New York, is the first issue of Robot 13. It’s the story of an amnesiac robot who fights mythological creatures of destruction.
With a title like that, how could I not do an interview with Hall to find out more about Robot 13?
JK: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me. Can you give us a little bit of info on your background, like how you got into comics and when you decided you wanted to write them?
Tom: As far back as I can remember, I have always loved comics. Like a lot of kids, the first comics I ever had were given to me- some Archies, a few Legion of Superheroes books and a few Marvel books. One that I was obsessed with was an issue of the Incredible Hulk by John Buscema. I was three, and I stared at that thing all the time, and I don’t know to this day exactly why. My dad read it to me, and I asked him how he knew what everyone was saying. He explained word balloons to me, and being three and naive, I asked him where the words came from. When he told me that it was someone’s job to write comics, even at three it just blew my mind. From that point on, I wanted to be a writer of some kind.