Thirty-six questions. Six answers. One random number generator. Welcome to Robot Roulette, where creators roll the virtual dice and answer our questions about their lives, careers, interests and more.
Today we welcome writer Fred Van Lente, who you know from his work on Archer & Armstrong, Action Philosophers, Comic Book Comics, Herc and Incredible Hercules, Marvel Zombies and many more, including upcoming runs on G.I. Joe and Brain Boy.
Now let’s get to it …
Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading?, where each week we talk about comics and other stuff we’ve been checking out lately. Today we welcome special guest Joshua Williamson, writer of Masks and Mobsters, Captain Midnight (which has been running in Dark Horse Presents), Uncharted, Voodoo and much more.
To see what Joshua and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
Passings | Italian comics artist Sergio Toppi has died at the age of 79. Most of his work seems to have been in Italian and French, but Archaia has plans to publish an English-language edition of his version of the Arabian Nights, Sharaz-De. [The Beat, Archaia]
Comics | Brian Truitt marks Spider-Man’s 50th anniversary by talking to creators from Stan Lee to Brian Michael Bendis about the 10 traits that make the web-slinger special. On a related note, Complex runs down the 50 most iconic Spider-Man images. [USA Today]
Publishing | If you’re interested in self-publishing, Todd Allen’s latest article about Ingram’s new, lower-cost color print-on-demand service is a must-read. Allen does the math for several different scenarios, in terms of format and distribution method, and boils it down into several handy charts. [Publishers Weekly]
Creators | Cartoonist Stacy Curtis talks about inking Cul de Sac for creator Richard Thompson, who announced last week he’s ending the celebrated comic strip because Parkinson’s disease has left him unable to maintain the schedule: “I never felt inking Cul de Sac for Richard worked. It was like going into a theater to see Jerry Seinfeld do stand-up and watching Steve Martin deliver his lines. And that’s what it felt like. Every time I sat down at my drawing table to ink Cul de Sac, I could hear a narrator’s voice say, ‘For tonight’s performance, the part of Richard Thompson will be played by his understudy, Stacy Curtis.’” The final strip will appear Sept. 23. [Stacy Curtis]
Graphic novels | Andrews McMeel Publishing, which has focused on comic strips and comic strip compilations up to now, has announced its first original graphic novel series: The Chronicles of Desmond, by Mark Tatulli, creator of Lio and Heart of the City. The books will be published in October 2013 under Andrews McMeel’s new AMP! imprint and will be aimed at middle-grade readers. [Publishers Weekly]
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 ever-lovin’ comics fan would first pick out Dark Horse Presents #12 (Dark Horse, $7.99). First off: John Layman and Sam Kieth doing an Aliens story, can you believe that? That debut, coupled with the return of Mike Baron and Steve Rude’s Nexus, makes this another DHP worth buying. After that, I’d jump into Prophet #25 (Image, $2.99) to see Brandon Graham’s rollicking story with special guest artist Farel Dalrymple. The creators lined up on this Extreme Comics revival continue to impress me, and I’m excited to see new work by Dalrymple here. Third up would be Secret Avengers #27 (Marvel, $3.99), and I’m all hyped up to see how Rick Remender handles the touchy subject of Marvel’s original Captain Marvel. As for the artist, I’m still waiting for Renato Guedes to wow me the way he did before he jumped from DC to Marvel; the previews for this show some promise, so I’m excited to see the entire package.
If I had $30, I’d double back to get the return of Batman Incorporated #1 (DC, $2.99). Grant Morrison’s schedule, along with the New 52, seemed to harpoon this title last year, but I’m hoping this is some attempt to right that ship. Next up would be Fantastic Four #606 (Marvel, $2.99), seeing Jonathan Hickman come full circle as his run nears conclusion by going back to where the FF started: with four people in space suits. Ron Garney is an interesting choice to draw this one, and his take on the Thing is right up there with Stuart Immonen’s. Last up would be Irredeemable #37 (BOOM! Studios, $3.99). I admit I switched to trades a couple issues ago, but I’m jumping back in — spoilers be damned — to find out the end to this story. I’m a little bit morose that artist Peter Krause isn’t the one drawing the finale given all he put into this, but Diego Barretto is an able artist to draw what Waid has set out for this final issue. Oh, hey, I’ve got $5.06 left so I’ll live up to the the title of this Robot 6 feature and get some food: a hot dog from Voodoo Dogs in Tallahassee. Have you seen their new commercial?
If I could splurge, I’d finish eating my hot dog and pick up Comic Book History of Comics (IDW Publishing, $21.99). I’ve failed at life when I couldn’t track down all six of these issues on my own, but IDW offering it all up in one package saves me from that level of hell. Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey have put on a master class here in doing bio comics, especially bio comics about comics, and as a journalist, comics fan and would be comics writer myself this hits all the right spots for an engrossing read.
Chris Schweizer has a nice post explaining the different premiums he is offering as part of the Graphic Textbook Kickstarter, which reminded me that this Kickstarter is ending in two days. The fund-raising goal is $65,000, which seemed incredibly ambitious to me, but as of this writing it has less than $2,000 to go to reach its goal. As Michael May explained a few weeks ago, the graphic textbook is the work of the nonprofit Reading With Pictures, which promotes the use of comics in classrooms and has already produced one very nice anthology; this book, should it succeed, could lead to a whole line of graphic textbooks. This would have the double benefit of providing children with another way to learn (since different kids have different ways of taking in information, adding the graphic medium will give some students a boost) and providing a lot of creators with paying work, which is always a good thing.
What sets the Graphic Textbook apart from most other educational projects is the quality of the creators, many of whom are already well known in the world of children’s or adult comics: Roger Langridge (Snarked, Popeye), Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey (Action Philosophers), Raina Telgemeier (Smile) and a host of others. With creators like that on board, the pledge premiums are pretty good.
Anyway, Schweizer’s post grabbed me because I’m a fan of his Crogan Adventures, a series of graphic novels about members of the same family set in different historical eras, and the short story he is doing for The Graphic Textbook is a Crogan story set during the Revolutionary War. His premiums include original art, a video tutoring session, and sketches of the donor in 18th-century garb, but if that doesn’t appeal to you, there are still some other nice premiums left, including Langridge sketches, tickets to the Charles Schulz Museum, a script or portfolio review by former DC/Vertigo editor Brandon Montclare, or a personalized action figure.
The comics literacy non-profit, Reading With Pictures is dedicated to getting comics into classrooms. In addition to cultivating research on the role of comics in education, the mostly volunteer organization seeks to produce its own comics for schools to use and would like your help for their second publication. I say “mostly volunteer,” but that doesn’t include the creators of the new book. They’ll be paid for their contributions and that – plus the large print run – is a major reason Reading With Pictures needs $65,000 to complete the project.
The first Reading With Pictures comic was the Harvey-nominated Reading With Pictures Anthology that featured work by Jill Thompson, Fred Van Lente, Raina Telgemeier, Chris Giarrusso, and others. The new compilation, The Graphic Textbook will include Ben Caldwell, Fred Van Lente, Ryan Dunlavey, Chris Schweizer, Russell Lissau, Marvin Mann, Amy Reeder, Janet Lee, Katie Cook, Roger Langridge, Josh Elder, Dean Trippe, and others.
The collection will contain 12 short stories (both fiction and non-fiction) that are appropriate for grades 3-6 and include a variety of subjects from Social Studies and Math to Language and Science. There will also be a Teacher’s Guide with “lesson plans customized to each story, research-based justifications for using comics in the classroom, a guide to establishing best classroom practices and a comprehensive listing of additional educational resources.”
It’s a great cause with some great creators and some nifty rewards ranging from copies of the book and original art to being drawn into one of the stories.
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:
I’d pick up Batman Inc. #7 ($2.99) and that would be it, so afterwards I’d pat myself on the back for not blowing my whole $15.
If I had $30:
I’d go with Farm 54 ($25), a new hardbound collection of stories by the brother and sister team of Galit and Gilad Seliktar, courtesy of Fanfare/Ponent Mon. It’s basically a semi-autobiographical collection of tales capturing a young woman at various critical stages in her youth, adolescence and young adulthood, all done in a tentative, wispy watercolor. Lovely stuff to flip through, at the very least.
This is a really wonderful story … comic creator Ryan Dunlavey recently teamed up with 12-year-old Luke Robinson from Dickson, Tennessee to create a new comic called Super Shot that’s being distributed at area hospitals. Robinson, who has survived open-heart surgery and leukemia over the course of his short life, asked the Make-a-Wish Foundation for the opportunity to visit Marvel Comics and create his own comic.
“Luke created and designed the characters and came up with the story ideas – I wrote the script and drew the artwork under the supervision of then-Marvel Comics editor Nate Cosby,” Dunlavey said on his blog. “This past week the book was printed and distributed for free to hospitals in Luke’s hometown area of Tennessee – the story is an origin of Luke’s characters Super Shot and Dr. Shrink, who battle the Virus in a story that demonstrates that kids need not be afraid of doctors or medical care. This was all Luke’s vision and I was just lucky to be asked along for the ride.”
In addition to area hospitals, Robinson plans to debut the book at The Great Escape in Nashville later this month.
Comic Book Comics, by Ryan Dunlavey and Fred Van Lente, chronicles the history of comics in comic-book form. Their latest story, posted in full at their blog, is a short history of copyright grabs by comics publishers, featuring Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Jack Kirby and Joker creator Jerry Robinson make appearances as well. It’s interesting history and a painless way to learn a bit about copyright law and its pitfalls.
(Via Comics Worth Reading.)
If the promise of Anthony Bourdain’s Get Jiro! isn’t enough to whet the appetites of foodies and comics fans alike, now Amanda Cohen, chef-owner of Dirt Candy in New York City, has announced she’s collaborating with artist Ryan Dunlavey (Action Philosophers) on a graphic novel cookbook. Dirt Candy is an acclaimed vegetarian, or perhaps simply vegetable, restaurant that opened two years ago.
“I’m not sure if ‘graphic novel’ is the best term here since it’s a cookbook and not a novel,” Cohen writes on her restaurant’s website, “but that’s the best description I can come up with.”
The cookbook will be published in summer 2012 by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of The Crown Publishing Group.
You might remember that Ryan Dunlavey did a humorous M.O.D.O.K. story last summer for Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited that tied into the events of Dark Reign. Well, he has another M.O.D.O.K. story coming out this week on the site, with this one playing off of the “Fall of the Hulks” storyline. It’ll be up on MDCU on Jan. 6.
Courtesy of Marvel Comics, you can find an exclusive preview of the story after the jump.
Fall of the Hulks: M.O.D.O.K. #1
On-Sale: January 6, 2009
About: M.O.D.O.K. has finally stepped out of the shadows of his hometown bullies and joined the ranks of the Intelligencia alongside fellow “big brain” villains like the Leader, the Mad Thinker, and Red Ghost! But can such a choice assemblage of evil nerds ever truly be free of lame-brain jocks? Find out as the Intelligencia comes face to face with… the Insmelligencia!
Jordan White (Editor)
Ryan Dunlavey (Writer, Artist, Inker, Colorist, Letterer)
They’re better known these days for Con Wars and layoffs, but the magazines of Wizard Entertainment have long been capable of producing some pretty funny stuff. Exhibit A: the comic-strip mash-ups artist Ryan Dunlavey has posted on his blog–here and here. Generally written by the ToyFare magazine editorial staff and illustrated by Dunlavey in impeccable approximations of the original styles, the comics take classic strips and mix ‘em up with superheroes, science fiction, and general nerdery, resulting in such mash-up masterpieces as The Thunderkatzenjammer Kids, Spy vs. Spy vs. Alien vs. Predator, Orlando Bloom County, X-Nuts (will Phoenix ever let Good Ol’ Charlie Xavier kick that football?) and much more. Alas, my all-time favorite of the ToyFare/Dunlavey efforts, Ellen Ripley’s Believe It or Not, has yet to be posted, but the rest are still well worth checking out.
Fred Van Lente is hellbent on getting his name on the cover of every Marvel comic, or so it would seem. I could try to list all the Marvel titles he has written, is writing or will be writing, but we’d never get to the actual interview. Suffice to say that Marvel keeps him busy. And then there’s Action Philosophers (Van Lente’s successful independent collaboration with artist Ryan Dunlavey). Back to Marvel, this week marks the start of his Spider-Man/Chameleon storyline with the release of Amazing Spider-Man 602. Here’s the official word on Van Lente–he “is the New York Times bestselling author of Incredible Hercules (with Greg Pak) and Marvel Zombies 3, as well as the American Library Association award-winning Action Philosophers. His other comics incldue Comic Book Comics, MODOK’s 11, X Men Noir and Amazing Spider-Man.” Van Lente was kind enough to do an email interview with me about his various projects.
Tim O’Shea: Marvel is clearly pleased with X-Men Noir, given that they have announced a follow-up with the same team, Mark Of Cain. Given that a great deal of your writing for Marvel is within the “main” Marvel U, how liberating is at as a writer to get to play around with characters in a Noir universe?
Fred Van Lente: I always like to have big, bloody Grand Guignol endings, with bodies heaped up on stage like at the end of a Shakespeare tragedy. Nothing says “dramatic climax” like “everybody dies.” One of the nice things about working with the X-Men franchise in the Noirverse is that it has so many characters there are always some left over no matter how many you knock off. XMN1 we whacked Jean Grey, Magneto, Mastermind, Blob, Unus, Beast, Banshee, Rogue, Iceman, Gambit and Qucksilver, but we still had Wolverine, Puck, Cyclops, Angel, Professor X, and the Scarlet Witch to kick around.
In Mark of Cain they’ll be joined by a large bulk of the “All-New, All-Different” cast, including Noir analogues of Juggernaut (obviously), Emma Frost, Nightcrawler, Storm, and Colossus, and a few surprise appearances as well.
We’ve already been asked about a third installment, so my co-creator Dennis Calero and I will have to be careful not to kill everybody off. Even the X-Men have their limits in terms of mortality.