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Comics A.M. | Ex-Marvel staffer says layoff protest misguided


Publishing | Damien Lucchese, a production artist laid off last week by Marvel, explains why fans should not boycott the publisher over the layoffs: “What I’m trying to say is that I don’t want everyone to just see the MARVEL logo and think of a huge, top-heavy company, full of money hungry suits that make poor decisions (in some peoples’ opinions). That’s not what MARVEL is and there are still people working very hard (even harder now), day after day to put out comics for people to enjoy.” [Blog@Newsarama]

Digital piracy | Jim Mroczkowski posts his third interview with a digital pirate; as in the first two episodes, what comes through is that social pressures and one-upmanship have a lot to do with it. Also, piracy is expensive for the pirates, who usually buy the comics they scan—and often don’t even read them. [iFanboy]

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What Are You Reading? with Jim Gibbons

B.P.R.D Hell On Earth: Russia #1

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is Dark Horse assistant editor Jim Gibbons, who I spoke to about his new job on Friday.

To see what Jim and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …

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This weekend, it’s Boston Comic Con

Boston Comic Con isn’t one of your better-known cons, like SDCC or NYCC—heck, I live just north of Boston and I never heard of it until last year—but if you’re in the area, this year’s show looks like a pretty good bet, with guests like Darwyn Cooke, Frank Quitely, and Joe Kubert.

Right off the bat, BCC is better than 90 percent of comic cons because it is not in some sterile, isolated convention center. You know how you have to walk a mile from the Javits to get a reasonably priced sandwich? No problem here; the Hynes Convention Center is conveniently attached to a mall, and it’s located in the heart of the Back Bay, which is chock full of great little restaurants, funky boutiques, and bars with atmosphere. I used to live in the neighborhood, and it’s still one of my favorite places to go. When you’re at the Hynes, you know you’re in Boston.

Another nice thing about a small con is that conflicting panel times won’t drive you crazy; the panel schedule (warning: PDF) has only one strand, so if you want to see Stan Sakai, Darwyn Cooke, and Terry Moore speak, you don’t have to be in three places at once. Just stay in your seat.

And there will be interesting things to see and to buy! Sam Costello will be debuting the latest volume of his Split Lip horror comic, complete with a back cover blurb from me! Anthony del Col and Andy Belanger, two of the creators of Kill Shakespeare, will be there with an “exclusive digital promotion” as well as the news that they just got some financing to develop a film script based on the property. The Artists Alley lineup includes Thom Zahler (Love and Capes), Tak Toyoshima (Secret Asian Man) and a panoply of Boston-area talent. I just hope the show doesn’t get too successful, or they’ll move it to Boston’s own sterile, out-of-the-way convention center and it will lose much of its charm.

Comics A.M. | Mike Keefe wins Pulitzer; BOOM! loses Classic Disney titles?

From Mike Keefe's portfolio

Awards | Denver Post editorial cartoonist Mike Keefe has won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning “for his widely ranging cartoons that employ a loose, expressive style to send strong, witty messages.” Keefe, who joined the Post in 1975, had previously served in the Marines and taught math in college. “I am gobsmacked,” the 64-year-old cartoonist says. “In recent years, the Pulitzer has gone to much younger folks who are newer in the business. I’ve always done pretty classical editorial cartooning. I thought my day had passed.” Comic Riffs has Keefe’s award-winning portfolio. [Denver Post]

Publishing | On the heels of successive announcements that Marvel will publish comics based on Disney’s Pixar and Muppets properties, licenses previously held by BOOM! Studios, comes word that BOOM! has stopped soliciting Classic Disney series like Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Uncle Scrooge and Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories. However, Diamond’s Previews catalog for July contains listings for the publisher’s titles based on such Disney Afternoon properties as Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, Darkwing Duck and DuckTales. []

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Cooke, Sakai, Thompson and more nominated for Reuben Awards

Usagi Yojimbo #134

The National Cartoonists Society has announced the nominees for the 65th annual Reuben Awards, which honor creators in various illustration fields, including comics.

Nominees for the two comic book industry categories — comics books and graphic novels — are:

Stan Sakai “Usagi Yojimbo”
Chris Samnee “Thor the Mighty Avenger”
Jill Thompson “Beasts of Burden”

Darwyn Cooke- “The Outfit”
Joyce Farmer “Special Exits”
James Sturm- “Market Day”

You can see the rest of the nominees in animation, comic strip and other categories, over at the NCS website. Winners will be announced over the Memorial Day weekend.

Stan Sakai interviews Usagi Yojimbo

In the grand tradition of Grant Morrison and Animal Man, the creators of Groo and, well, Usagi Yojimbo #100, Dark Horse presents a new strip by Usagi creator Stan Sakai that brings creator and created face to face. Hilarity and carnage ensue.

What Are You Reading?


Welcome to a special Super Bowl Sunday edition of What Are You Reading? Not that it’s any different from a regular WAYR column, but you can enjoy it while eating hot wings while the TV is paused.

Today our special guest is biology professor Jay Hosler, creator of Clan Apis and Optical Allusions. His latest book, Evolution, with artists Kevin Cannon and Zandor Cannon, was recently released by Hill & Wang. Check out his blog for a story he’s working on about photosynthesis.

To see what Jay and the Robot 6 gang are reading, click below.

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Comics A.M. | Comic sales slip 3.5%, SD official wants Comic-Con parade

The Avengers #1

Publishing | Sales of comics, graphic novels and magazines to comic stores declined slightly in 2010, slipping 3.5 percent from 2009, according to a year-end report released Thursday by Diamond Comic Distributors. John Jackson Miller’s estimate places the North American market at between $410 million and $420 million, down from the 2008 peak of $437 million.

Marvel again emerged as the top publisher, leading the market in both dollar and unit sales. May’s Avengers #1 was the top-selling periodical, followed by X-Men #1, Blackest Night #8, Siege #1 and Blackest Night #7. As expected, The Walking Dead and Scott Pilgrim dominated the graphic novel and trade paperback list, taking eight of the Top 10 spots (the remaining two went to the Kick-Ass premium hardcover and Superman: Earth One). [Diamond Comic Distributors]

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Exclusive preview: Usagi Yojimbo #134

Usagi Yojimbo #134

Courtesy of our friends at Dark Horse Comics, we’re pleased to bring you a preview of Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo #134, which arrives in stores Dec. 22. This standalone issue features the con artist Kitsune, who is selling snake, er, toad oil, claiming it has magical healing abilities. Unfortunately Usagi gets caught up in the con.

Usagi is consistently one of the most entertaining comics on the stands, so if you haven’t read it before, here’s a single-issue story to try out. You can find the preview and more info on issue #134 after the jump.

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What Are You Reading?

Usagi Yojimbo: Return of the Black Soul

Usagi Yojimbo: Return of the Black Soul

Welcome once again to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is Paul Maybury, creator of the webcomic Party Bear. His work can be found in Comic Book Tattoo, various volumes of Popgun and 24seven, and, of course, the full-length graphic novel Aqua Leung. Be sure to check out the sketches he shares.

To see what Paul and the rest of the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click on the link …

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WonderCon | Comix Experience 21st anniversary party/CBLDF benefit

Usagi Yojimbo

Usagi Yojimbo

San Francisco’s Comix Experience, the comic shop owned by CBR columnist Brian Hibbs, celebrates its 21st birthday this weekend (hey, they’re legal!) with a birthday bash and benefit art auction for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

The birthday bash begins at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 3rd, and will feature the El Toyanese Taco Truck, sponsored by Image Comics, and beer courtesy of 21st Amendment Brewery. The auction will include the above piece by artist Stan Sakai. If you’re in town and looking for something to do after WonderCon on Saturday, this sounds like a fun event.

Usagi Yojimbo to become fluffy, badass plush toy

Usagi Yojimbo

Usagi Yojimbo

Dark Horse sent out a preliminary sketch yesterday for a new Usagi Yojimbo plush doll they plan to release next May. Per the release, Dark Horse “brings this fluffy, badass bunny to life” as a plush toy with Stan Sakai overseeing the details of the design process.

“I have always thought that a doll of this type would be an excellent presentation of Usagi,” Sakai said in the release, “and have been happy to assist as the prototype evolved with commentary and revisions. I think he came out very well indeed.”

Straight for the art | Can you find the throwing star?

Usagi Hidden Pictures

Usagi Hidden Pictures

I remember as a kid one of the highlights — ok, the only highlight — of going to the doctor’s office was getting to read issues of Highlight magazine in the waiting room. My favorite feature, besides “Goofus and Gallant,” was “Hidden Pictures,” where you had to find all the hidden items in a picture. Now Stan Sakai has taken a page from the magazine — page 14, to be exact — and made a Hidden Pictures featuring Usagi Yojimbo. Tip: Always check the clouds and tree leaves first … click on the link to go check out the full image

Limited edition Usagi Yojimbo shirts arrive in L.A., San Francisco this weekend

Usagi Yojimbo T-shirt

Usagi Yojimbo T-shirt

Dark Horse Comics has teamed up with clothing label The Hundreds to release two limited edition T-shirts featuring new Usagi Yojimbo art from Stan Sakai. The shirts are limited to 200 of each design and will be released this Saturday at the Hundreds locations in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

In addition, Sakai will be at the Hundreds location in L.A. from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. to sign copies of Usagi. The first 25 people will receive a signed copy of the recently released Usagi Yojimbo graphic novel, Yokai.

“I am always excited to hear stories of the impact of Usagi on other creative individuals, especially those working outside of comics,” Sakai said in a press release. “I hope that this collaboration exposes a whole new group of people to Usagi, and comics in general. I’m grateful to have had the chance to work on this project with Bobby and everyone at The Hundreds.”

“Much of what I do today, as creative director for the Hundreds, stems from poring over Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo art as a youth,” said The Hundreds co-founder Bobby Kim. “To this day, it was one of the most influential comic books in my life, and so it was an honor to work with Stan on two exclusive pieces of art for The Hundreds. To any fan of The Hundreds, it is important to acknowledge and appreciate Usagi Yojimbo’s inspiration to the brand.” You can read more of this thoughts on Usagi on the Hundreds’ blog.

More T-shirt images and a flyer for the events can be found after the jump …

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Exclusive: Stan Sakai covers Strange Tales #3

Strange Tales #3

Strange Tales #3

Courtesy of Marvel Comics, check out the cover to Strange Tales #3, the final issue of the mini-series that features a host of independent comics creators working on Marvel characters. This issue and its cover feature Stan Sakai’s long and eagerly awaited Samurai Hulk.

Here’s the text that Marvel sent with the cover, which includes the list of contributors:

Marvel is pleased to unveil the cover to Strange Tales #3 from legendary creator Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo). The final issue of the red-hot Marvel Knights anthology showcases Marvel’s greatest characters re-imagined by the best and brightest talents working in independent comics today! You’ve never seen Marvel heroes like this before as Peter Bagge, Max Cannon, Chris Chua, Becky Cloonan, Nicholas Gurewitch, Paul Hornschemeier, Jonathan Jay Lee, Corey Lewis, Stan Sakai, Jay Stephens and Jhonen Vasquez! A jam packed 48 page special—with no ads—no Marvel fan can afford to miss Strange Tales #3 this November!



Explicit Content …$4.99

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