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Comic-Con’s 6 biggest comics surprises

little nemo-idw

Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland

In case you didn’t notice, Comic-Con International happened last weekend. As always, it was an epic affair with tons of announcements, stunts and surprises. Amid cannons firing, actors dressing up as themselves, and big movie plans, there were also a good number of genuine surprises from comics.

Usually I end up picking a winner of Comic-Con, but after Dynamite Entertainment flooded the air waves with announcements the days before the event, no one else seemed to stand out as the clear winner. It’s not that everyone slacked off, however: They brought a good variety of interesting and exciting projects, and a number of standout announcements made my ears perk up. So instead of declaring a winner, I’m going to run down my Top 6 Comic-Con surprises in comics.

Before I start, though, two publishers deserve a little recognition for serious contenders for the Comic-Con crown. Top Shelf Productions classed up the joint by bringing in Congressman John Lewis for the debut of his graphic novel, March: Book One with artist Nate Powell and co-writer Andrew Aydin. I have little doubt this trilogy will end up being a historic release with profound benefits for schools, libraries and organizations looking for a powerful teaching tool and first=person account of the Civil Rights Movement and non-violent resistance. Plus, come on, photos of Lewis meeting Neil deGrasse Tyson and Lou Ferrigno? Everybody else, just pack it up. Maybe not as much of a milestone, but IDW Publishing also deserves a nod for the pure quantity and variety of good-looking books announced.

OK, on with my list:

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SDCC ’13 | IDW Publishing rolls out Comic-Con exclusives

idw exclusives

A limited edition of the Artist’s Edition: Best of EC Covers Portfolio, two new Locke & Key pewter replicas and a glitter variant for My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #9 are among the highlights of IDW Publishing’s exclusive merchandise for Comic-Con International.

All of the convention-exclusive items will be available at the publisher’s booth, along with limited advance copies of the highly anticipated Superman: The Silver Age Newspaper Dailies, Vol. 1, and Berkeleyworks: The Art of Berkeley Breathed: From Bloom County and Beyond.

See the full rundown below:

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Previews: What Looks Good for December

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.

Avengers #1

Chris Arrant

Avengers #1 (Marvel): Has Marvel NOW! already gotten enough attention? Maybe so, but that’s partly the reason I’m highlighting this specific book. In the rising tide that’s pushed all of the Marvel NOW relaun!ches, for me — as a fan and journalist — the marketing has dulled the unique appeal of every book. Flipping through Previews and giving this a deeper critical eye, it made me realize – this is Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opeña doing Avengers, the de facto flagship book of Marvel since 2004. Opeña really turned a corner with Uncanny X-Force, and I’m interested to see how Hickman brings his meticulous plotting to a biweekly book with a cast larger than Circus of the Stars. And what’s interesting is that he’s done a version of this when he relaunched the “Ultimate” version of the Avengers in Ultimate Comics: Ultimates. I’m not saying this will be that re-heated over, but it’ll be interesting to see how he takes roughly the same characters and bobs instead of weaves.

Hiroaki Samura’s Emerald and Other Stories (Dark Horse): Samura’s Blade of the Immortal was a major manga when it debuted, but when you have one artist doing a long, drawn-out story it tends to dull in the eyes of fans on the outside looking in. But his short-story collection Ohikkoshi was fun, modern and completely different – a great bite-size snack from the eight-course meal/buffet that is Blade of the Immortal. This collection looks to be like that, centered around Samura’s western teen drama Emerald. I’ve heard of another set of stories called Bradherley’s Coach about a family whose business is to ferry orphans to their new home, which I hope is in here as well.

Mara #1 (Image): I’ve been loving Brian Wood’s work since he jumped to AiT-PlanetLar too many years ago, and seeing him branch out with another new series makes me wish for Brian Wood Month all over again. Besides swami Brian, it’s the artist he’s doing this with that really deserves some attention; Ming Doyle has killed it in her work featured on Project: Rooftop (shameless plug), and when she moved to doing shorts for Marvel in things like Fantastic Four she showed she could really play with the big boys. Seeing Wood and Doyle doing a sports-themed action series set in the future, this is a unique-looking story that’ll be at the top of my stack when it comes out on Dec. 26.

Hip Flask: Ourborous (Image): In comics today there’s a rare group of artists that are like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Ents; an older race who were once masters of the world but now subsist on making rare, but eventful appearances. Alan Moore is this way; so is Art Adams. To that list I’d like to add Ladrönn. This has my money, even if I didn’t know how great a story this is.

Orcs, Vol. 1: Forged For War (First Second): Speaking of Tolkien, am I the only one that felt compassion for the Orcs in Lord of the Rings? Well, this reprinted graphic novel by writer Stan Nicholls and artist Joe Flood brings the orc race to the forefront. Orc Stain was great, and this could be too!

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Halloween issue of Juxtapoz features comic artists in abundance

The Halloween-themed October issue of the alternative contemporary art magazine Juxtapoz looks like it has plenty to interest comic fans. Guest editor Alex Pardee has filled the mag with his favorite causes, including an overview of Japanese horror manga; a visit to Sam Kieth’s studio; an interview with Jhonen Vasquez; and a questionnaire from Tomer Hanuka. Preview art from those involved below.

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Art Barrage | Comics at the interface with fine art

Ben Allen's "Milk & Honey"

As British designer/comic book artist Rian Hughes once wrote, “When musicians remake an old hit, it’s called a cover version. When a painter copies an illustrator, it’s called fine art.” Hughes’ article features numerous impassioned quotes from Dave Gibbons on the ethics of fine artists appropriating imagery from comic artists. Brian Bolland recently pursued the Icelandic artist Erro for a particularly blatant act and to a certain extent, won the argument. But comic books remains catnip to the fine art world, the dirty little habit it can’t kick. Plenty of art below the break.

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What Are You Reading? with Jimmy Palmiotti

Dark Horse Presents #13

Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our guest today is writer and artist Jimmy Palmiotti, who you know from All-Star Western, Monolith, Phantom Lady, Unknown Soldier, Creator-Owned Heroes, Queen Crab and countless more.

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

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Food or Comics? | Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Dog

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.

Batman, Inc. #1

Chris Arrant

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.

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What Are You Reading? with Ivan Salazar

New York The Big City

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is Ivan Salazar, public relations and marketing manager for Studio 407.

To see what Ivan and the Robot 6 crew have been reading (and playing), click below.

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Food or Comics? | Everybody wants a piece of the Action

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.

Graeme McMillan

It’s a slow week, this week; if I had $15, I’d use it to catch up on some recent enjoyments like Action Comics #3 (DC, $3.99) and OMAC #3 (DC, $2.99), two of my favorite titles from the New 52 relaunch–OMAC in particular has been a really weird and wonderful joy–as well as the final issue of Marvel’s great and sadly underrated Mystic revival (#4, $2.99). I’d also see if the parody-tastic Shame Itself #1 (Marvel, $3.99) lives up to its potential, because “Wyatt Cenac + Colleen Coover” sounds pretty promising to these ears.

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Comics A.M. | Jerry Robinson Detective Comics #67 cover up for sale

Detective Comics #67

Art | Jerry Robinson’s cover artwork from Detective Comics #67 is expected to bring in more than $300,000 when it goes up for auction Nov. 15. “Robinson penciled and inked this cover and the detail of his art is amazing close-up,” said Todd Hignite, consignment director for Comic Art at Heritage Auctions, “particularly his shading lines on Batman and Robin, and on the feathery details of the ostrich being straddled by that bird-of-prey, the Penguin.” [Art Daily]

Business | Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment Inc. and Vuguru, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner’s independent studio, are partnering to produce “original digital content.” [press release]

Comics | Darryl Ayo has a small manifesto about comics that makes a lot of sense: “Things that don’t make sense in North American comics: 1) comics that exist after their creators have ceased to. 2) these comics’ existence continues despite minimal effort to applicable to contemporary culture. Things that make perfect sense in North American comics: people’s general lack of interest in comics.” He points out a number of reasons why the comics audience is small and challenges creators and publishers to “Do better.” One point he makes that is rarely mentioned: The critical importance of editors. [Comix Cube]

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IDW’s 30 Days Of Night coming every 30 days in new ongoing series

After years of horror, mischief and mayhem, the long running series-of-miniseries 30 Days Of Night is pulling out the stops and becoming a full-fledged ongoing series. IDW has announced co-creator Steve Niles is returning to write the series and is joined by epic illustrator Sam Kieth, as they take the original story of Alaskan vampires into the bright lights and big city of Los Angeles.

According to the press releases, the ongoing begins when a cryptic letter carrying a postmark from Barrow, Alaska lands in the mailbox of a curious woman who begins delving into the vampire mystery.

“I’ve been wanting to get back into the 30 Days of Night universe and shake things up for awhile now,” said Niles in a press release. “I’ve just been waiting for the right moment and the right artist. I have the right artist in Sam Kieth, and the time is now.”

Best known for his work on The Maxx and various projects for Marvel and DC, Sam Kieth is no stranger to the 30 Days of Night universe; the artist illustrated the recent 30 Days of Night: Night, Again miniseries and has been doing a flurry of work both in the indies and at the Big Two.

Although he’s the writer and co-creator of the series, Niles has been in and out of the 30 Days of Night world, which is co-owned by him, IDW and artist Ben Templesmith. There’s no word on Templesmith’s involvement in the series as of yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he popped up with a variant cover down the road.

Original Sandman team reunites for Hero Initiative anthology

My First Landlady

Just in time for next month’s San Diego Comic Con, IDW will release Hero Comics 2011, an anthology that benefits the Hero Initiative. The book will feature a new Chew short story by John Layman and Rob Guillory, an Elephantman story by Richard Starkings and Dougie Braithwaite, and a new story called “My Last Landlady” by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth and Mike Dringenberg — the creative team on the first five issues of the landmark 1980s/90s DC series The Sandman. The anthology is edited by IDW’s Scott Dunbier.

“When it comes to doing the impossible, there’s a dude who doesn’t really recognize that ‘impossible’ exists. Ladies and gentlemen, there is only one Scott Dunbier. Accept no substitutes,” the Hero Initiative’s Jim McLauchlin said on the HI’s blog. Head over there to check out the first two pages of the story.

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

Flashpoint #1

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 a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Graeme McMillan

If I had $15 this week, I’d immediately go for Flashpoint #1 (DC Comics, $3.99) – I am very, very unsure about the number of tie-ins DC are pushing out for the new crossover event, but with Geoff Johns in charge, I’m suspecting that the main book will be worth a look at least. I’d also grab the relaunched GI Joe #1 (IDW, $3.99), if only to follow up on the “Cobra Civil War” storyline that I admit has completely caught my attention unexpectedly. Curiosity would also get me to pick up both Moriarty #1 (Image, $2.99) and Total Recall #1 (Dynamite, $1.99), two new launches that will hopefully take familiar ideas and characters in directions I wouldn’t expect…

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30 Days of Night returns in May

Kevin noted last September that IDW is launching a new 30 Days of Night series, and here it is: The first issue of 30 Days of Night: Night Again is listed in the March Previews for a May release.

Horror writer Joe Lansdale and artist Sam Kieth (The Maxx) are taking over the series, which was created by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith and was the bases for two feature films and countless spinoffs. In the original, published in 2002, vampires came to Alaska to take advantage of the 30-day-long night of the Arctic winter, using it for a prolonged feeding frenzy. In 30 Days of Night: Night Again, a group of survivors comes to an Alaskan research facility, where scientists are puzzling over a strange object found in the ice. It’s probably safe to say that bloody carnage results.

The press release is deliberately vague, but IDW editor-in-chief Chris Ryall shows off some of Davide Furno’s variant covers at his blog that hint at the nature of the story.

Ian and Kieth reteam for Demon miniseries

The Demon by Sam Kieth

Anthrax rhythm guitarist Scott Ian and The Maxx creator Sam Kieth, who worked together previously on Lobo: Highway to Hell, are teaming up again for a miniseries starring Etrigan the Demon. Although DC made it official today, Ian actually announced he was writing the series on Twitter last month.

“I’ve been a fan of Etrigan since I was kid buying comics off of the racks,” Ian told DC’s The Source blog. “Jack Kirby created him for Hell’s sake and now I get to spew Hellfire like it’s never been spewed before. And I get to blow up Las Vegas. It’s going to be a real vulgar display of power (pun intended).”

The longtime comics fan goes on tour with his new band, The Damned Things, on Jan. 19. The new miniseries is due sometime later this year.


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