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Robot reviews | Three neat kids books: Leo Geo, Pandemonium and The Shark King

Leo Geo

Leo Geo and His Miraculous Journey Through the Center of the Earth
By Jon Chad
Roaring Brook Press $15.99.

This is a clever, literally slim book, designed as skinny as possible in order to highlight its central conceit. You see, the running gag here is that you have to turn the book sideways to follow Leo on his downward trek to the Earth’s core, and then turn it another 180 degrees as he heads back up.

The book combines science with fantasy, with Leo discovering lost worlds filled with crazy monsters while spouting out science facts like “Some countries like New Zealand and Iceland harness the awesome power of lava for their own uses in heating and generating electricity. Though the juxtaposition of fantasy and hard facts seems a bit jarring, it actually adds to the book’s charm. There’s something about a guy standing on a giant underground ogre while discussing thermal generators that’s too silly to dislike.

Though Leo himself is one step up from a stick figure, Chad fills the pages with as much detail as possible and his ornate underworld scenes take on a “Where’s Waldo”-like mania at times, especially as he eschews panel borders to instead depict various versions of Leo crawling across a wide (but narrow) vista. Basically, it’s a fun introduction to geology that the elementary-school set will really dig (sorry, couldn’t help the pun).

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Watch the trailer for Bone: Quest for the Spark

Scholastic has premiered a new trailer for Bone: Quest for the Spark, by Tom Sniegoski and Jeff Smith, ahead of the release of the second volume on Feb. 1.

The prose trilogy, which includes illustrations by Smith, follows a new generation of Bone characters into the Valley. Here’s the description of Vol. 2:

The Nacht, the evil dragon that threatens to destroy both the Dreaming and the Waking World, is growing stronger, and twelve-year-old Tom Elm is the champion the Dreaming has chosen to defeat it. Along with Roderick the raccoon, Percival Bone and his nephew and niece, Randolf, Lorimar, and the two stupid Rat Creatures, Tom must race to find the missing pieces of the Spark. This leg of the journey introduces him to a trio of scheming bears and takes him into the depths of a dangerous beehive. And, on top of everything else, a traitor might be among them.

In related news, comiXology is offering the entire Bone series — individual issues and collections alike — at half the download price through Thursday. You can even get the first issue for free.

Comics A.M. | Susie Cagle arrested at Occupy Oakland; more on Steve Rude

Susie Cagle

Legal | Susie Cagle, the cartoonist covering Occupy Oakland who was tear-gassed last month, was arrested early Thursday morning during the protests in Oakland. According to her father, cartoonist Daryl Cagle, Susie was being held at Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County, Calif. and was charged with unlawful assembly, even though she was there covering the event and had a press badge. Update: According to her Twitter account, Susie Cagle is out of jail and was charged with a misdemeanor, “present at raid.” [Fishbowl LA]

Legal | Tom Spurgeon offers more details on comic artist Steve Rude’s Halloween altercation, which led to the Nexus creator’s arrest that same night. According to Rude’s wife by way of Spurgeon, Rude was in costume handing out Halloween candy to kids trick-or-treating when his neighbors’ dogs began barking. Rude threw rocks at the neighbors’ fence, which led to a confrontation with them. Rude tore the neighbor’s shirt and pushed him, leading to the assault charges. Rude suffered physical abuse during the arrest and in jail before posting bail. [The Comics Reporter]

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What are you reading? with Andrew Foley

Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading. Our guest this week is Andrew Foley, the author of the new vampire graphic novel from IDW, Done to Death.

To find out what Andrew and the rest of the Robot 6 crew are reading this week, click below …

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

Batman & Robin #13

Batman & Robin #13

With the cost of comics seemingly always on the rise, we’ve revamped our old Can’t Wait for Wednesday columns around cover price. Hence, welcome to our second Food or Comics? column, as we look at comics that’ll be in shops tomorrow.

Every week we’ll tell you what comics we’d buy if we had $15 to spend, if we had $30 to spend and if we had some “mad money” (like a gift card) to blow on what we’re calling a “Splurge” item. This week Chris Mautner and Brigid Alverson join Kevin Melrose and myself in our trip to the hypothetical comic shop, following our trip to the imaginary ATM machine.

You can play along as well in our comments section; check out Diamond’s shipping list for tomorrow to see what will be in shops.

Chris Mautner

If I had $15, I’d buy …

Batman & Robin #13 ($2.99)
Starstruck #11 ($3.99)
Godland #32 ($3.99)
Boys #44 ($3.99)

These are just about all the comics I’m currently reading in floppy form, minus a title or two. In fact, I’m relatively certain my LCS will be holding copies of these for me when I stop by this weekend. Three involve superheroes. One is a knotty sci-fi saga. One will almost certainly involve someone’s blood being sprayed across a room. That, or a bathroom joke.

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Robot reviews: Hotwire, Things Undone, Vatican Hustle, Missile Mouse and Copper

Hotwire Comics Vol. 3

Hotwire Comics Vol. 3

Hotwire Comics Vol. 3
Edited by Glenn Head
Fantagraphics Books, 138 pages, $22.99

Once again, Hotwire returns to attempt to fill in that edgy alt-comix niche that was so prominent in the 80s and early 90s and has seemingly been eclipsed by the more literary, rarefied indie comics of today (sort of). If for no other reason, this anthology should be lauded for giving folks like Mary Fleener and Mack White the opportunity to showcase their work, since no one else seems to be interested in doing so these days. There is always the occasional dull or misguided piece (David Paleo and David Sandlin’s work continues to fail to interest me), but the stellar work by folks like Michael Kupperman, R. Sikoryak, Onsmith, Johnny Ryan, Tim Lane and Mats!? make this well worth your time.

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Robot reviews: Smile



by Raina Telgemeier
Scholastic, 224 pages, $10.99

The thing that strikes me the most about Smile is how utterly and completely normal it all is. Telgemeier’s chronicle of her dental problems and general angst  during her junior high and high school years, though entertaining, and certainly fraught with melodrama, wouldn’t exactly fall under the realm of trauma, on the same level that, say, Stitches does. And while few of us have had our front teeth knocked out and spent our formative years in a variety of dentists offices, most of have had the other sort of problems Telgemeier narrates, like trouble in school, unrequited crushes, dysfunctional friendships, etc.

Perhaps the most striking thing is how Telgemeier handles these occurrences with relative intelligence and grace. Not that she doesn’t fret mind you, but rather that she so rarely trips herself up on the way to adulthood.  So congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Telgemeier. You raised your daughter right.

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Thin wallets, fat bookshelves: Scholastic’s early 2010 plans

Bone: Tall Tales

Bone: Tall Tales

The noted children’s book publisher Scholastic has had great success with their comics-oriented Graphix imprint, mainly thanks to their colorized volumes of Jeff Smith’s Bone. And it looks like they’re going to continue their publishing onslaught this year. Already we’ve seen the release of Copper by Kazu Kibuishi and Missile Mouse by Jake Parker. Want to find out what’s coming up next. Read on, read on …

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Your video of the day: Missile Mouse trailer

Here’s a rather cool ad for the new Missile Mouse book by Jake Parker and available through Scholastic’s Graphix imprint.

What Are You Reading?

Beasts of Burden #3

Beasts of Burden #3

Like the Sunday newspaper, it’s time once again for another round of What Are You Reading. Our guest this week is Ryan Sands, who can be found over at the Same Hat blog, recommending and even translating (Tokyo Zombie) some great, and occasionally bizarre manga (and I mean that in a good way).

To see what Ryan and the rest of us are reading this week, click on the link below. Then let us know what books you’re enjoying and want to recommend (or not) in the comments section.

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Robot reviews: Another kids’ comics round-up

Nancy Vol. 1

Nancy Vol. 1

Nancy Vol. One
by John Stanley
Drawn and Quarterly, 128 pages, $24.95.

When faced with the challenge of adapting Ernie Bushmiller’s classic comic strip to longer comic book format, John Stanley’s response was simple and economical: Turn her into Little Lulu.

That’s the only conclusion I can come to after reading this collection of stories in D&Q’s ongoing “John Stanley Library” project. Nancy is pretty much Lulu with frizzier hair, Sluggo is a thinner and slightly more benign Tubby. There’s even a snotty rich kid and bratty little boy similar to Wilbur and Alvin. Stanley even repeats one of his Tubby stories involving a burglar almost note for note.

That doesn’t make Nancy a bad book by any stretch of the imagination. Mediocre Stanley is still miles above most people’s best work. The best stories here though are the ones involving Oona Goosepimple, an odd, Wednesday Addams-type girl who supernatural antics cause no end of anxiety for poor Nancy. It’s those stories where Stanley — freed of the Bushmiller formula — really gets inventive and inspired. If the ratio of Oona stories increases as the volumes do, then I’ll keep buying these books as long as D&Q are able to get them out.

Reviews of Moomin, Amulet and more can be found after the jump …

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Robot Reviews: Kids’ comics roundup


Little Mouse Gets Ready
by Jeff Smith
Toon Books, 32 pages, $12.95.

Children’s comics don’t get more basic than this. Little Mouse wants to go play in the barn with his brothers and sisters, but first he has to get dressed. He does so step by step showing readers important things like how to button your shirt (and illustrating a narrative sequence of events). Then there’s a punchline and rimshot, the end.

Smith’s art is lush and spry here. I especially liked Little Mouse’s Warner Brothers-style reaction at the end. There’s no denying it’s a cute book, made by an extremely talented guy. But this is really a book for preschoolers and those just learning to read. If you know someone like that, then Little Mouse will make a great gift. But older Bone fan, even those still in elementary school, aren’t going to get too much out of this, beyond a chuckle or two at the end.

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SDCC ’09 | Jeff Smith posts Bone: Tall Tales cover

Bone: Tall Tales

Bone: Tall Tales

Next to Marvel’s big news today, the best revelation coming out of SDCC for me so far is the announcement that Jeff Smith is going to do more Bone books. And, in case you were wondering what these new series will look like, Smith has the cover art up for Tall Tales and a rough for Quest for the Spark over at his Web site.

SDCC ’09 | Day One



After a bevy of announcements earlier in the week about movie deals and video-game adaptations, Comic-Con International officially kicked off Thursday with news of the hiring of an industry veteran, and three significant book acquisitions.

IDW Publishing revealed that Bob Schreck, a longtime senior group editor at DC Comics, will join the company as senior editor in October. He’ll focus on developing new projects and new talent.

An editor at Comico and Dark Horse, Schreck co-founded Oni Press with Joe Nozemack in 1996. Three years later he joined DC Comics, where he oversaw the Batman line and, eventually, edited the All-Star titles and developed new projects for Vertigo. He was laid off in January during a wave of major cutbacks by Warner Bros.

Day One’s major publishing news came from Scholastic, Drawn & Quarterly and Dark Horse.

Scholastic announced that Jeff Smith will release new Bone titles with co-writer Tom Sniegoski, beginning in summer 2010 with Bone: Tall Tales. The fall will see the expansion of the Bone world with the first book in the Quest for the Spark trilogy, overseen and illustrated by Smith and written by Sniegoski.

Drawn & Quarterly acquired the rights to Daniel Clowes’ new graphic novel Wilson, the cartoonist’s first book not to be originally serialized in Eightball. The title, described as a “portrait of the modern egoist,” will debut in May 2010.

Dark Horse, meanwhile, rolled out an overview of its convention announcements, which include plans to release all three volumes of the popular European noir series Blacksad.

In other Thursday highlights:

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