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Previews: What looks good for January

Explorer: The Mystery Boxes

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes and first issues so that I don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “ Mouse Guard is still awesome!” every month. And I’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.

Also, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell me what I missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.

Amulet

Explorer: The Mystery Boxes - With the Flight anthologies done, the all-ages version, Flight Explorer has morphed into this. I expect it to be as lovely as its predecessors and especially like the Mystery Box theme.

Archie

Jinx – J Torres and Rick Burchett’s graphic novel aimed at tween girls.

Kevin Keller, Volume 1 and Kevin Keller #1 – Archie collects the first appearances and mini-series of their major, gay character and also launches his ongoing series.

Ardden

Flash Gordon: Vengeance of Ming – The third volume in Ardden’s Flash Gordon series.

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Wolfe and Higgins bring zombies to Camelot in Knights of the Living Dead

Knights of the Living Dead

Artist Dusty Higgins has a knack for getting involved with projects with titles that make you scream, “Hey, why didn’t I think of that?” Over the last couple years, he’s worked with Van Jensen on the Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer series of graphic novels, the third of which is due next year from SLG Publishing. It of course pits the little wooden boy against monsters whose weaknesses include wooden stakes through the heart.

Now he’s teamed with writer Ron Wolfe for Knights of the Living Dead, a story that brings zombies to Camelot. The first issue is now available for free from SLG Publishing’s website, where you can also buy the second issue for 99 cents.

Wolfe says not to let the title fool you – the book is no spoof.

“I love the title, but don’t let it mislead you. The book is no spoof on zombies. It’s as dark as anything I’ve ever written,” Wolfe told Robot 6. His previous work includes Death’s Door and Old Fears, both horror novels co-written with John Wooley, as well as Hellraiser comics for Marvel. “That said, the premise allows for some playing around. But I really think, if I just happened to pick it up, this thing would trouble me for some time.”

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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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Quote of the day #2 | The bestselling digital comic of 2012?

Johnny the Homicidal Maniac

“In January, we will start re-releasing Johnny the Homicidal Maniac as digital comics. When that one comes out, issue #1 (my prediction) will become the top selling digital comic, outselling even Marvel and DC titles. We are going to take our time with that one, as I want to make sure we have all of our outlets selling it at exactly the same time.”

– SLG Publisher Dan Vado, discussing the company’s recent decision to release comics digitally first


Comics A.M. | New lead in Michael George case; SLG’s digital priority

Legal

Legal | Authorities in Clinton Township, Michigan, tracked down two men mentioned in police reports by comics retailer Michael George after his wife’s 1990 murder who were never questioned. The judge gave police 48 hours to locate and question them. One of the men passed away, while the other, John Fox, will be questioned Friday about a family car that is similar to one seen near the comic book store where Barbara George was killed. [Detroit Free Press]

Digital comics | Heidi MacDonald talks to SLG Publisher Dan Vado about plans to release the company’s serialized comics digitally rather than in print. Vado reveals SLG’s popular Johnny the Homicidal Maniac by Jhonen Vasquez will be released in digital format. [The Beat]

Comics | Lisa Fortuner notes that this week’s Green Lantern Corps #1 story shares a title with a Nazi propaganda film: “That’s a beheading, followed by cutting a woman in half, followed by the loss of a finger, followed by a reference to an infamous Leni Riefenstahl film. For those of you who are new to the Internet and it’s population of history snobs, Leni Riefenstahl was an early 20th Century pioneer who made inroads for women in the field of Evil. She did a Nazi propaganda film called ‘Triumph of the Will’ which to this day is still inspiring horror of authoritarian power in film classes and museums. It is probably not the best choice of titles for a book where the main heroes are fueled by willpower.” [Written World]

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SLG abandons floppies for digital

Indy publisher SLG, the home of Halo and Sprocket, Pinocchio Vampire Slayer, and Gerry Alanguilan’s Elmer: A Story About Chickens, will begin publishing all its serialized comics in digital format rather than print. President and publisher Dan Vado summed up the situation rather neatly in the company’s press release: On the one hand, the market for print comics is dwindling; on the other hand, serialized comics allow creators to build up a fanbase before releasing a completed graphic novel. Digital allows the company to bypass Diamond’s quotas and avoid some of the costs of print comics while ensuring as wide a distribution as possible. The first two comics to be distributed this way are Stephen Coughlin’s Sanctuary and Chris Wisnia’s Monstrosis. In both cases, the first issue is available as a free download from the SLG site or through the iTunes store, and subsequent issues are priced at 99 cents each.

SLG got into the digital game early, offering downloads of its comics from its website, and their strategy now seems to be to make the comics available in as many channels as possible: By direct download from their site as well as through iTunes (for the iBooks app), Nook, and the comiXology and iVerse services.

While this is an unusual step, there is a certain logic to it. Phil and Kaja Foglio did it years ago, switching Girl Genius from serialized comics to a free webcomic, and they found that sales of their graphic novels increased, while they were able to avoid the cost of laying out and printing the monthly comics. The Foglios already had a large fan base when they made the move, however. SLG has a diverse set of offerings, so it’s less of a slam dunk, but it’s worth watching to see if they can make digital-first distribution work.

Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer channels Shakespeare for new statue

Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer writer Van Jensen sends word that Dusty Higgins’ cover to the second volume of their undead-slaying trilogy is being turned into a limited edition state, which is available for pre-order on the SLG Publishing website. Check out the swell animated gif, which gives you a 360-degree look at it in all its glory.

This just over six-inch figure will be cast in high density polystone and will be nearly made to order in terms of its production run. It was designed by Figurebang Toys. Available exclusively from SLG, they will stop taking orders for this piece on Oct. 31. The statue will cost $189 for pre-orders, and those who place orders won’t be charged until the statue ships.


SDCC ’11 | A roundup of Thursday’s news

The serious business of Comic-Con got underway Thursday in San Diego with a wave of panels and announcements. Here are the highlights:

• Announcements at the Marvel panel included Jeff Parker and Patrick Zircher’s Hulk of Arabia arc, a new Deadpool arc, an Avengers Academy recruitment drive and Villains for Hire, a new spin on the Heroes for Hire concept. Also in the works: A series of Avengers Origins one-shots.

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents is coming back in November; the new comics will be written by Nick Spencer and drawn by Wes Craig.

• At the Marvel Digital panel, Marvel senior vice president of publishing David Gabriel announced that Marvel will begin simultaneous print and digital release of its Spider-Man and X-Men comics, starting next week with Amazing Spider-Man #666 and Spider Island line.

• DC released art for several of their New 52 comics. They also revealed Lois Lane’s new boyfriend.

• At the Vertigo panel, Executive Editor Karen Berger announced a new graphic novel called Marzi that would ba marketed to both young and old readers. She also said that Vertigo will launch a new Halloween anthology in October and a totally new series later this year.

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SDCC ’11 | Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer: Of Wood and Blood coming summer 2012

Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer: Of Wood and Blood

Van Jensen and Dusty Higgins will wrap up their epic Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer trilogy with the final volume next summer — Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer: Of Wood and Blood. Jensen debuted the cover and title in San Diego this week, and sent over a description of the book:

Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer: Of Wood and Blood, the final graphic novel in the trilogy, will be released in summer 2012 from SLG Publishing. The book picks up after the cliffhanger ending to Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer and the Great Puppet Theater as a human Pinocchio and his decimated band of slayers struggle onward in their fight against vampires. Weighing in at about 250 pages, Of Wood and Blood will mark an epic conclusion in the former puppet’s battles against the bloodsuckers.

You can find Van at the SLG Publishing booth this week.

Snow White: Through a Glass Darkly coming from SLG next year

Snow White: Through a Glass, Darkly

Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer writer Van Jensen dropped us a note about his next project, which attendees at HeroesCon last weekend had the chance to check out in the form of a five-page preview. Jensen and Val the Red Beard creator Robin Holstein are working on Snow White: Through a Glass Darkly, a new six-issue series due from SLG Publishing next year.

According to Jensen, the tagline for the book is, “We all think we know the story of Snow White, the poor girl who suffered under her evil stepmother. But what if the stepmother wasn’t evil after all? What if the mirror was evil?”

Look for it next spring, and in the meantime, be sure to check out Holstein’s webcomic, Val the Red Beard, which is about pirates in flying ships fighting monsters that live inside village-destroying storms. He’s posted seven strips so far, it looks like, so you’ll be getting in on the fun early.

SLG offers digital Sanctuary for free

SLG describes Stephen Coughlin’s series Sanctuary as part Lost, part Island of Dr. Moreau and part Jungle Book. The Jungle Book influence is easy to get from all the talking animals, but the other two aren’t as immediately apparent. At first Sanctuary reads more like Madagascar, a simple story about a bunch of funny animals hanging out at the zoo.

But things get strange quickly when Coughlin reveals that there are no visitors to this zoo and that the humans running the place may not be helping the animals. And then the first death occurs.

Sanctuary #1 can be downloaded for free from the SLG store.

Robot Review | Pepper Penwell and the Land Creature of Monster Lake

Pepper Penwell and the Land Creature of Monster Lake
Written and Illustrated by Steph Cherrywell
SLG; $14.95

I hope it came through in my review of The Incredible Change-Bots that what I liked most about it was its ability to lovingly kid the things that Transformers fans like most about that cartoon while at exactly the same time successfully reproduce those qualities. That’s so difficult to do, which is why most of the time we see skewering, Mad Magazine-style parodies of things instead. As rare as it is though, lightning struck my reading pile again when I got to Pepper Penwell.

I wasn’t much into the kid-sleuth genre as a youngster, other than Hanna-Barbera’s Legion of Meddling Kids. I had one Hardy Boys book and a Tom Swift, but my childhood heroes were mostly grown-ups: James Bond, Sherlock Holmes; Hercule Poirot. It hasn’t been until my adult years that I’ve experienced much interest in stories about child detectives. Maybe it’s an attempt to re-experience childhood; maybe it’s just a search for great literature for my son; maybe my wife – a big Nancy Drew fan – is starting to influence me. Whatever the reasons, I’m finding myself drawn to stories about tween or teenaged detectives and titles like The Clue in the Crumbling Wall or The Case of the Mysterious Handprints.

These stories are the inspiration for Steph Cherrywell’s Pepper Penwell and the Land Creature of Monster Lake, a book about a genius girl detective who’s kicked out of her posh boarding school for uncovering so much crime at the institution that parents are beginning to pull their kids out. Having nowhere else to go, she visits her police inspector father in Monster Lake, a quiet village in the English countryside where he’s investigating the disappearance of a young girl. Pepper’s looking over the case files before she even arrives.

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

Justice League of America #55

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 what we call our “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 probably put it towards the latest issues of series I’ve been enjoying for awhile: Batman Inc. #4, New York Five #3, Justice League of America #55 – Yes, even with my nervousness over Brett Booth’s art – (All DC Comics, $2.99) as well as Jeff Parker and Gabe Hardman’s Hulk #31 (Marvel Comics, $3.99).

If I had $30, however, I’d probably put JLA back on the shelf and add The Arctic Marauder (Fantagraphics, $16.99), instead. I found myself enjoying Tardi’s Adventures of Adele Blanc Sec earlier this year, and Chris’s review has tipped me in favor of picking up this latest translation of his work.

Splurgewise, it’s a tough one – I’d like to pick up the collection of Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan’s second Demo series (DC/Vertigo, $17.99), but I see that the hardcover collection of Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth’s spectacular Stumptown (Oni Press, $29.99) is out this week, and that really falls into the
category of having to have it. I’ll grab Demo next week.

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

Axe Cop

Welcome once again to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy based on certain spending limits — $15, $30 to spend and if we had extra money to spend on what we call the “Splurge” item. Check out Diamond’s release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Michael May

If I had $15:

I’d be all about the Axe Cop, Volume 1 ($14.99). Should be the best thing since Katie Mignola’s The Magician and the Snake.

If I had $30:

I’d add On the Case with Holmes and Watson, Volume 5: The Adventure of the Speckled Band ($6.95) and Robert E. Howard’s Savage Sword #1 ($7.99). Those On the Case books are cool and a Howard anthology of new and reprinted material sounds awesome. Especially when the creators involved include Paul Tobin, Marc Andreyko, Tim Bradstreet and Barry Windsor Smith.

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

Action Comics Annual #13

Welcome to another installment of “Food or Comics?” Every week we set certain hypothetical spending limits on ourselves and go through the agony of trying to determine what comics come home and which ones stay on the shelves. So join us as we run down what comics we’d buy if they only had $15 and $30 to spend, as well as what we’d get if we had some “mad money” to splurge with.

Check out Diamond’s release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Graeme McMillan

If I had $15, I’d spend the first $2.99 on the last King City, which definitely appears on this week’s list. Yay! Then I’d split the remaining $13 between two DC Comics: Paul Cornell’s Action Comics Annual #13 ($4.99), in which a young Lex Luthor meets Darkseid (Editor Wil Moss promised me on Twitter the other week that this will fulfill my sick, sick desire for more comics like Jack Kirby’s Super Powers toy tie-ins from the 1980s, so I’m entirely sold) and Vertigo Resurrected: Winter’s Edge #1 ($7.99), a collection of long out-of-print seasonal tales starring Vertigo favorites and forgotten ghost characters from Christmas Past. Be warned: I’m a sucker for Holiday comics, so expect to see me picking those a lot in the next few weeks. It’s the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, after all.

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