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What Are You Reading? with Mark Andrew Smith

Prophet #21

Happy Memorial Day, Americans, and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Mark Andrew Smith, writer of Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors, Amazing Joy Buzzards, The New Brighton Archeological Society and Sullivan’s Sluggers, which is currently available to order via Kickstarter.

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

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Food or Comics? | Are you my mutton?

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.

Saucer Country #3

Graeme McMillan

If I had $15 this week, I’d pick up the third issues of what may be becoming my two favorite new series: Saga (Image, $2.99) and Saucer Country (DC/Vertigo, $2.99). The former is easily one of the most enjoyable, most packed books out there right now for me, with Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples firing on all cylinders with the two issues to date, whereas the latter has an enjoyably retro feel that reminds me of the earliest days of the Vertigo imprint in ways that I can’t quite put my finger on but love nonetheless.

If I had $30, I’d grab the new edition of Leviathan (Rebellion, $16.99), a collection of a 2000AD horror story by Ian Edginton and D’Israeli that the creators apparently described as “Agatha Christie meets Silent Hill” about a Titanic-esque cruise ship that disappears in the middle of the ocean, and ends up somewhere else … with no land in sight for more than two decades. Really looking forward to reading this one.

Should I suddenly find enough money down the back of my couch to splurge this week, then I’d hope to find the $29.99 I’d need for the Deadenders trade paperback (DC/Vertigo). I entirely missed the Ed Brubaker/Warren Pleece mod romance comic the first time around, so this collection of the entire series will be a welcome chance to make up for past mistakes.

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What Are You Reading?

Saga #1

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at what the Robot 6 crew have been checking out recently. To see for yourself, click below …

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Welcome to Saucer Country #1

All politicians have skeletons in their closet, but New Mexico Governor Arcadia Alvarado has something even weirder and scarier than a skeletons in her closet, she’s got aliens.

If you don’t recognize the name, it’s not because you haven’t been paying enough attention to state politics in the southwestern United States, but because she’s the fictional governor of New Mexico, and the lead character in the new Vertigo series Saucer Country.

Susana Martinez is still the actual, real-life, female Latina governor of New Mexico, but she wouldn’t make as good a protagonist for a comic book series like this, as she is not currently running for president of the United States nor, to my knowledge, has she ever been abducted by aliens.

I am curious how much Martinez may have inspired writer Paul Cornell in his creation of Alvarado—Ryan Kelly didn’t seem to take any visual inspiration from Martinez in his character design—although I’m a bit more curious how heavily former Arizona Governor John Symington might have weighed in Cornell’s mind.

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Quote of the day | ‘… A Million Moms should boycott this title’

“I absolutely think that A Million Moms should boycott this title. It worked for Archie! We have profanity, a profoundly liberal politician spouting off all over the place, and there’s loads of sex too. Oh, and the naked people from the Pioneer Ten space probe plaque are two of our major characters. (That’s all actually true.)”

Saucer Country writer Paul Cornell, hoping to boost sales of his new alien-conspiracy comic series,
out this week from Vertigo

Comics A.M. | Disney working to bring Marvel heroes to theme parks

Disney and Marvel

Theme parks | Disney CEO Bob Iger said the company has begun preliminary design work that will pave the way for Marvel superheroes to one day appear alongside familiar characters in Disney theme parks. Iger told shareholders attending the annual meeting Tuesday that the company has been working on some concepts, but hasn’t announced anything yet. Disney is currently developing attractions based on James Cameron’s Avatar film for its Animal Kingdom park in Orlando, Florida, which are expected to be ready in 2015. [Los Angeles Times]

Comic strips | Alan Gardner counts 57 newspapers that aren’t carrying this week’s Doonesbury comics, which address a Texas law requiring women requesting an abortion to submit to a transvaginal ultrasound. But according to Universal UClick, no papers have dropped Garry Trudeau’s strip. [The Daily Cartoonist]

Publishing | John Jackson Miller discusses the Rule of Eight, which holds that independent publishers start to falter once they put out more than eight titles per month, and goes into the nuances of the theory with its originator of the idea, Marc Patten. [The Comichron]

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Food or Comics? | Saga or saganaki

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.

Saga #1

Graeme McMillan

If I had $15 this week, I’d rush to the store as quickly as possible to ensure that I’d be able to get a copy of Saga #1 (Image Comics, $2.99) before it completely sells out. It’s been far, far too long since Brian K. Vaughan has been doing comics, and Fiona Staples is one of those artists who just continually gets better even after starting pretty damn impressively in the first place. It’s not the only must-read launch this week, either; I’m also very excited about Saucer Country #1 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99), Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly’s mash-up of The West Wing, The X-Files and – judging by this first issue, which I’ve had a sneak peek at – The Invisibles, which pretty much ensures I’ll be on board for awhile. There’s also Marvel’s Avengers Assemble #1 ($3.99), which I’m… curious about more than excited for, in large part because I’ve already seen Bendis’ take on the team for the last few years, so this feels more like “More of That Thing You’ve Already Read!” than “First Issue of A New Series!” but… well, it might be better than I’m expecting, who knows?

If I had $30, I’d think about putting Avengers back on the shelf before picking up Journey Into Mystery: Fear Itself Fallout Premiere HC (Marvel, $19.99), the second collection of Kieron Gillen’s remarkably great Thor spin-off. I’ve only recently caught up with the first collection, and loved it, so I’m looking forward to more of the same with this one.

There’s really only one choice to splurge on this week for me: The Womanthology: Heroic hardcover (IDW, $50.00). Not only do I have friends with work in the book, but I was pretty much signed up for this one as soon as I heard about it online. I love well-done anthologies, and I’m ready for this to be one of the best I’ve read in a long time.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Growing the garden: DC’s May solicits

On this Earth-2, Wonder Woman has the metal headgear and the Flash (not shown) wears a skirt

The next phase of the New 52 begins in May, as six new titles debut and Rob Liefeld carves out his own niche with a handful of others. My first impressions of the Next Six remain largely positive, but we’ll get into that in a bit.

SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMES (GOLDEN AGE EDITION)

Basically, what we know about Earth-2 so far is that it has its own (multi-generational) version of the Trinity, it’s home to Alan Scott, Jay Garrick and probably Ted Grant, and at some point Darkseid invades. This does not mean that everyone who first appeared during the Golden Age still did. Indeed, we can suppose that, because the New-52 Huntress is apparently in her early 30s (at most, I’m guessing), that would make her parents at least 50-ish and probably closer to 60 or even 70. Thus, the Earth-2 Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle could have become Batman and Catwoman anywhere from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s. It’s a significant change from the original Earth-Two, where Helena Wayne was born in the early 1950s and became the Huntress in the late ’70s.

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Vertigo reveals May covers + ‘Mystery’ project

It must be close to the time of the month that DC Comics releases their solicitations, as yesterday the company revealed a bunch of artistic changes to their May titles and today Vertigo posted several covers for their “new” May books. (Does this new wave of Vertigo books have a name, BTW? “The New 4″ doesn’t have the same ring to it that the “New 52″ has, but it does feel like they’re trying to push it as its own “thing.”)

Kevin posted previously about the Fairest #3 cover by Adam Hughes, and you can find the full covers for Saucer Country #3, Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child #3 and The New Deadwardians #3 after the jump.

But wait–there’s more!

DC Comics gave Blastr details and a Mike Allred variant cover for an anthology book coming in May, Mystery in Space. You might remember their previous anthologies, The Unexpected and Strange Adventures, which respectively contained previews of Dominique Laveau and Spaceman in addition to other short stories by a variety of creators. No word yet if this one will provide a first look at a new series, but the creative line-up is impressive. It will contain stories written and drawn by Paul Pope and Mike Allred, as well as new stuff from science fiction writer Nnedi Okorafor and Michael Wm. Kaluta, Robert Rodi and Sebastian Fiumara, Ann Nocenti, Fred Harper, Andy Diggle, Davide Gianfelice, Steve Orlando, Francesco Trifogli, Ming Doyle and more. The regular cover will be drawn by Ryan Sook.

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Comics A.M. | Digital comics market triples to $25 million

DC Comics app

Digital comics | ICv2 estimates the total value of the digital comics market in 2011 as $25 million, triple the 2010 figure, and boldly predicts that digital will account for 10 percent of the entire comics market in 2012. Digital sales grew faster in the second half of the year, which ICv2 attributes to three factors: DC’s decision to release its New 52 comics digitally the same day as print, the industry-wide trend toward same-day print and digital releases, and the proliferation of different platforms on which to read digital comics. As for digital taking away from print, the publishing executives ICv2 has spoken to over the past few months don’t seem to think that is happening. [ICv2]

Retailing | Retailer and journalist Matt Price takes the temperature at the ComicsPRO Annual Members Meeting, which kicks off today in Dallas, noting that members remain interested in DC’s publishing plans, and report “very strong sales” for Image’s Fatale and Thief of Thieves. [Nerdage]

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Grumpy Old Fan | A full bracket for DC’s March solicits

OMAC #7

Since the March solicitations kick off the back half of the New 52’s first year, it’s probably worth noting that the whole line remains unchanged: no “midseason replacements” like Justice Society, but no cancellations either. If I hear relieved sighs from OMAC and Men of War, certainly Dan DiDio and Jim Lee have to be pleased generally that they’ve gotten this far with the 52 intact.

Well, pleased or stubborn, I suppose. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.

Ahem.  Away we go…!

HISTORY LESSONS

One of my pet peeves about the New-52 is the sense that it lacks a meaningful “history.” For at least the last few decades, a reader might not have known exactly what had happened or when, but s/he could tell that these characters hadn’t just fallen off the turnip truck. I say this because the solicits for Justice League #7 and Flash #7 both allude to their books’ untold backstories. With Justice League, we’ll learn about membership turnover and other details of the five years between the League’s debut and today. (To be sure, some of that has already been alluded to in the League’s previous present-day appearances, like JL Dark #1.)

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NYCC | A round-up of Friday news

New York Comic Con picked up steam in its second day with announcements from Vertigo, Dark Horse, Marvel, IDW Publishing and Image, and the possibility of Sesame Street comics. Here are some of the highlights:

• Following in the footsteps of DC Comics: The New 52, most of Vertigo’s titles will be available digitally the same day as print.

• Geoff Johns announced that work is about to get under way on a Robot Chicken DC Comics special that will skewer the company’s superheroes in the same way that the show tackled Star Wars. The episode, written by Johns and MAD‘s Kevin Shinick, is set to air next summer.

• Confirming last-minute speculation, Ed Brubaker announced that he and frequent collaborator Sean Phillips (Sleeper, Criminal, Incognito) will release their next project through Image Comics. Called Fatale, the series blends noir elements with the supernatural world. “I’ve been wanting for a while to do something with a more supernatural element to it,” Brubaker told Comic Book Resources. “So Fatale mixes what we do and all the ways we’ve poked fun at the noir genre. If Incognito was us doing ‘What if Doc Savage, Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler had all existed in the same universe?’ then this is a weird combo of James M. Cain and Lovecraft. It’s got a real horror element to it — the first time I’ve really tried to do anything with horror — but it’s also got this really epic story to it.”

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NYCC | Cornell, Kelly to visit Saucer Country

Saucer Country

Demon Knights and Stormwatch writer Paul Cornell is teaming with New York Five and Local artist Ryan Kelly for a new Vertigo series, Saucer Country. Announced at the New York Comic Con today, Cornell described the book on his blog as “The West Wing does The X-Files.”

The story centers on Arcadia Alvarado, the governor of New Mexico, who Cornell said is ‘abducted by aliens’ on the even of her announcement that she’s running for president

“Those speechmarks are because she’s not exactly sure what happened. But she’s going to use all her staff and resources to find out. What happened to her might also be a threat to U.S. security,” he said on his blog. “Saucer Country is a trip through UFO mythology, a subject I’ve always been fascinated with. It’s a dark, suspenseful, serious thriller with, I hope, some warm, very human characters at the heart of it. Between arcs that feature Arcadia and her staff venturing into the murky worlds of flying saucer lore, we’ll be featuring one-off ‘true story’ issues, a short version of which already appeared in the Strange Adventures one-shot earlier this year.”

Watch for it in 2012, and you can see some previews pages over on Blastr.

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