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Food or Comics? | The League of Spontaneous Olympians

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.

Spontaneous #1

Graeme McMillan

If I had $15 this week, the first thing I’d grab would be a complete nostalgia-buy: DC Retroactive: Justice League of America – The 70s #1 (DC, $4.99), because I am a complete and utter sucker for JLA stories, and grew up reading old back issues of the title I found at used bookstores. This would be worth it for the reprint at the back alone, never mind the new story by Cary Bates that looks like it’s playing around with the multiverse one more time. To accompany that, I’d also pick up the first two issues of Joe Harris and Brett Weldele’s Spontaneous (both $3.99), because – even though I missed the Free Comic Book Day release of the debut – I’m a fan of Harris’ Ghost Projekt and Weldele’s work on The Surrogates, and curious to see just where a book about spontaneous human combustion can actually go.

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The Smurfs smurf over to comiXology

ComiXology smurfs another one: They will publish a dedicated Smurfs app for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch that will include seven full Smurfs comics. Like other comiXology apps, the app itself is free, and the comics are available in-app for $3.99 each; the corresponding print volumes retail for $5.99 paperback, $10.99 hardcover, so that’s a pretty smurf deal.

The Smurf comics are published by Papercutz, the all-ages imprint of NBM Publishing, and Papercutz publisher Terry Nantier smurfed the opportunity to point out that the little blue fellows started out as comics before they were animated cartoons. “I grew up with these comics, they truly are classics. It’s a shame that these books, which have been in print forever everywhere else on Earth, have been out-of-print for so long in America, which is why we decided to publish them in print and digitally,” he said.

Although you need an iThing to get the app and buy the comics, they sync with comiXology’s Comics reader, which is available for web browsers and Android devices as well as iOS.

Comics A.M. | Marvel’s ‘fathers of invention’; Gaiman, Tan win Locus Awards

Jack Kirby

Legal | Brent Staples pens an editorial for the New York Times on the legal battle between the Jack Kirby estate and Marvel: “The Marvel editor Stan Lee sometimes offered general ideas for characters, allowing the artists to run with them. Mr. Kirby plotted stories, fleshing out characters that he had dreamed up or that he had fashioned from Mr. Lee’s sometimes vague enunciations. Mr. Lee shaped the stories and supplied his wisecrack-laden dialogue. And in the end, both men could honestly think of themselves as ‘creators.’ But Mr. Kirby, who was known as the King of Comics, was the defining talent and the driving force at the Marvel shop. Mr. Lee’s biographers have noted that the company’s most important creations started out in Mr. Kirby’s hands before being passed on to others, who were then expected to emulate his artistic style.” [New York Times]

Awards | Writer Neil Gaiman (Sandman, The Graveyard Book) and artist Shaun Tan (The Arrival, Tales from Outer Suburbia) are among the winners of the 2011 Locus Awards. Gaiman’s “The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains” won for best novelette, while “The Thing About Cassandra” won best short story. Tan won for best artist. [Locus Online]

Legal | Jeff Trexler reviews the legal battle between Warner Bros. and the heirs of creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster through the filter of the Neil Gaiman/Todd McFarlane decision, where a judge ruled Gaiman has copyright interest in Medieval Spawn, Angela and other Spawn characters. [The Beat]

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Super smurfy fan art by Mebberson and Telgemeier

Two talented artists just presented their own takes on familiar figures: Amy Mebberson shows off her drawings of Supergirl and Batgirl covers; she will be selling prints at Heroescon, and the originals will be auctioned off at the Heroescon annual art auction.

And at Smurfology, where Matt Murray is collecting sketches of the Smurfs by famous artists, Raina Telgemeier contributes a drawing of a Smurf shilling for Chef Boy-Ar-Dee, from an 80s-vintage TV commercial that apparently made a big impression on Raina. Check it out after the jump.

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

Kirby: Genesis

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, and tell us what you’re getting.

Chris Arrant

If I had $15 this week, I’d start it off by buying Kirby Genesis #0 (Dynamite, $1); I love the idea of world-building from older characters, and Jack Kirby left a treasure trove of ideas even he couldn’t get a handle on completely. I’m interested to see where Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross take this, and I hope with Busiek’s addition it can be more tantalizing than Project: Superpowers was. Second up, I would get the penultimate Secret Warriors #27 (Marvel, $2.99); when this series started I was an ardent reader, but it lost me along the way. For some work-related research I caught up with the series, and since the last Howling Commandos story it’s been going great; I hope Hickman can stick the landing. Third I would get Vertigo’s new anthology Strange Adventures #1 (DC/Vertigo, $7.99); a pricey experiment, but I’m in the mood to get blown away. Lastly would be FF #4 (Marvel, $2.99) – I’m really enjoying what Hickman and Epting have done in the new simply titled series.

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

Joe the Barbarian #8

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.

Chris Arrant

$15:

This week’s a big week for me, so with only $15 I’d have to leave a lot of things back and make some hard choices. My five under $15 would start with Joe The Barbarian #8 (DC/Vertigo, $3.99) by Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy. I’m a big fan of both guys, but I have to admit the story went over my head the same way The Filth did in serialization. Be that as it may, I’ve kept buying the issues just to amaze myself with Murphy’s art. Now that the complete series is out, I’ll re-read it all in one sitting and hope for the best. Second would be the fourth issue of Incognito: Bad Influences (Marvel/Icon, $3.50) because, well, Brubaker and Phillips can do no wrong. After that I’d get Secret Warriors #25 (Marvel, $3.99) because Hickman’s writing here plays up to all the things I like — espionage, secrets, and overly-complicated story arcs. Over on the DC side I would pick up Brightest Day #21 (DC, $2.99). This series has ebbed and flowed for me, depending on which story arcs are brought to the fore in each issue… but I’m excited to see what happens and that’s what it should be about, right? My last pick is a cheat — I only have some change left, but thankfully the Fear Itself Sketchbook (Marvel) coming out is a free promotional item. I’ll take Stuart Immonen sketches any day!

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

Invincible Iron Man #500

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 for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Graeme McMillan

If I had $15 this week, IDW would be seeing a lot of it. It’s a cheat, because I’ve actually already read both Doctor Who Vol. 2 #1 and GI Joe: Cobra II #12 (both $3.99), but both are licensed comics done right in my opinion; Who in particular really catches the tone of the TV show in a way that the last series, as fun as it was, didn’t quite do (despite the writer, Tony Lee, being the same for both), and Joe has an ending that’ll get the nostalgics in the audience jumping up and down. It’s a weird mix of anti-nostalgia and art appreciation that gets me looking at my other pick of the week, Marvel’s Invincible Iron Man #500, which I’ll be picking up less for the story – although I like the “What if this really was #500 of the current series, and set 40-odd years in the future?” idea behind it – than the art, seeing as the wonderful Nathan Fox, KANO and Carmine Di Giandomenico join the okay-if-you-like-photo-tracing Sal Larroca for this oversized issue.

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

Atomic Robo and the Deadly Art of Science #1

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 comes home and what stays on the shelves. So join us as we run down what comics we’d buy if we 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 full release list if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Michael May

If I had $15:

As usual, I’d spend it on single issues. Starting with Atomic Robo and the Deadly Art of Science #1 ($3.50), then picking up a couple of Moonstone books: Zeroids #2 ($3.99) and Return of the Originals: From the Vault – The Pulp Files ($1.99). I enjoyed the first issue of the genre-mashing Zeroids and have been looking forward to the next part of the story; From the Vault is sort of Moonstone’s version of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe or DC’s Who’s Who. I don’t know nearly as much about the classic pulp characters as I’d like, so I’m looking forward to the education. Next I’d check out IDW’s Dungeons & Dragons #1 ($3.99) to see if they’ve figured out how to do a good D&D comic. That brings me to $13.47.

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Themed sketchbook: Smurf that Smurf!

Jim Salicrup's Smurf/Hulk mashup

Matt. Murray (the period is part of his name, apparently) writes about all things Smurf at his blog, appropriately titled Smurfology. This is more than a casual Smurf-fan thing—Murray is a former executive director of the Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art, and in 2006 he curated an exhibit on Saturday morning cartoons. That experience got him back to his childhood love of the Smurfs, and he not only gave a lecture on Smurfology 101 at MoCCA, he wound up helping with the special features on the Smurfs DVDs and even appearing in a Smurf documentary.

Stop and savor those words: A Smurf documentary.

Anyway, Murray has been collecting Smurf sketches from a variety of artists, and he is posting them at his blog. The drawings seem to lean toward the dark side—there’s an After Hours Smurfette, a Smurf pole dancer, a Smurf on ‘roids, and even a Smurf getting stabbed in the eye (a reference to the incident at this year’s SDCC), not to mention a drunken Gargamel drawn by Murray himself. This is one to bookmark, as he adds a new drawing every Saturday.

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

The Purple Smurfs

The Purple Smurfs

Welcome to our weekly round of “What would you buy if your budget was limited?” — or, as we call it, Food or Comics? Every week we set certain hypothetical spending limits on ourselves and go through the agony of trying to determine which comics come home and which ones stay on the shelves. So join Brigid Alverson, Chris Mautner and me as we run down what comics we’d buy if we 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 full release list if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Chris Mautner

If I had $15:

During the height of the 1980s Smurf craze, when the Saturday morning cartoon was sweeping the nation and there was Smurf-related merchandise everywhere, I distinctly remember walking into a stationary store and seeing an English adaptation of King Smurf, which I immediately purchased. I was aware at the time that the little blue characters had begun in France as comic book characters but was completely unprepared for how funny and delightful the original material was in comparison to the TV show. Sadly, it seemed like that book was the only entry way into that world for a long time.

All of which brings me to the point that this week sees the debut release of two new Smurf books from NBM’s Papercutz lineThe Smurfs and The Magic Flute and The Purple Smurfs ($5.99 each). The first is a rather traditional band dessine comic starring medieval adventurers Johann and Peewit, and is mainly noticeable for being the first appearance of the Smurfs. The Purple Smurfs is more in the classic vein, an all-ages zombie tale in which a strange bug bite starts turning smurfs purple (black in the original French version) and hunting down the uncontaminated smurfs, all the while uttering a fearsome “Gnap!” It’s great stuff, and I’m very happy NBM is getting these classic tales by Yvan Delporte and Peyo out in the hands of kids (and grown-up kids like me) who can truly appreciate them.

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The return of the Smurfs

New edition of The Purple Smurf

New edition of The Purple Smurf

The Smurfs are back! What, you didn’t know they ever left? Apparently the little blue guys have been out of print, at least in the U.S., for years, but NBM/Papercutz is bringing them back, with the first volume, The Purple Smurf, set to debut in August. (Incidentally, the Urban Dictionary has two definitions of “The Purple Smurf,” and neither of them is obscene. Go figure.)

Most people experienced the Smurfs as animated cartoons, rather than as comics, but that’s the origin — they first made their appearance in a Belgian kids’ comic in 1958. Jog, who broke the news (on a tip from Pedro Bouça), has more commentary, including the note that the purple Smurfs were actually black in the original comic; apparently the symbolism was too heavy-handed for the folks at Hanna-Barbera, who re-colored them in the animated cartoon.

NBM/Papercutz does a nice job when they bring European comics over here, except for a tendency to shrink them too much. At first glance, these look like full-size albums (like Tintin), but the type makes me think they are going to be smaller. The Amazon listings don’t give a trim size.

Who smurfs the Smurfmen?

Democracy in action

Democracy in action

If you haven’t read it yet, I urge you to head over to Savage Critics and read Jog’s lengthy essay on Peyo and Delport’s original Smurf comics of the 1960s (and the later inspiration for the Saturday morning cartoon show), focusing on the King Smurf comic in particular. It’s the best thing you’ll read on the Internet this week, cross my smurf and smurf to God. It’s full of fascinating tidbits like this:

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