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Food or Comics? | Ditko Ditali

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.

Shade #4

Chris Arrant

If I had $15 I would be in comics heaven, starting with Shade #4 (DC, $2.99). I’ve loved what Cully Hamner and James Robinson have done so far, but seeing Darwyn Cooke drawing this issue knocks it up to a whole new level. It’s like seeing David Bowie sit in on an up-and-coming band’s gig one night. Next up would be the reunion of Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen in Secret Avengers #21 (Marvel, $3.99). I was halfway hoping they would break from the serious tone of the title and revisit the inanity of Nextwave, but the preview dashes that hope; still, excellent work of two guys at the top of their game. Next up would be Invincible #87 (Image, $2.99), promising an all-new level of beatdown for Mark Grayson. Lastly, I’d get Jason Aaron’s fresh take on Marvel’s mutants with Wolverine and the X-Men #4 (Marvel, $3.99). Part return to basics and part brand-new day, seeing Logan having to be the respectable one and not the plucky wildcard is fun, and the cast Aaron’s assembled is great.

If I had $30, I’d continue reading Aaron with Wolverine #300 (Marvel, $4.99). Jokes about the constant renumbering/reshuffling/rejiggering of Aaron’s run aside, it’s been a swell ride and looks to be heading up to a finale of sorts. Next up would be Batwoman #5 (DC, $2.99). Williams’ art continues to impress, and while the story doesn’t match up to his levels with Rucka on Detective Comics, he and Blackman are striving for something I haven’t been able to fully understand yet. Lastly, I’d pick up Northlanders #47 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99). Artist Declan Shalvey is an inspired get for this series, really showing off what he can do outside Marvel’s Thunderbolts.

If I could splurge, I’d dive into Eric Powell’s adaptation of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (IDW, $19.99). Putting Powell together with Twain isn’t an obvious team-up, but given Powell’s depth of work I’m interested to see how it turns out.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Thomas Scioli

American Barbarian

Back in 2010, when Thomas Scioli started bolstering his online presence and entered the realm of webcomics with American Barbarian, I was curious to see how things would play out (as may or may not have been obvious in my June 2010 interview of him). I’ll be honest and admit that now, more than a year later (and with far more of the project online to read), American Barbarian far exceeds what I expected. As much as I have always enjoyed and respected his Kirby-influenced approach to visual storytelling, after reading this double post Apocalyptic tale, I am far more impressed with Scioli’s funky ear for dialogue. It’s like reading a 1970s comic written by a minimalist version of David Mamet. Doubting my quirky endorsement of the work? Then realize AdHouse is collecting the webcomic for a 256-page/6 ” x 9 ” /hardcover release early this year. If you don’t trust my tastes, then you should definitely trust AdHouse publisher Chris Pitzer. To mark the upcoming release, Scioli and I did another of our quick email interviews. Before diving into the interview, let me take a second to agree with JK Parkin’s sentiment in this post, back in June, that DC Comics should have considered Scioli for one of the New 52 titles that it launched back in September. So I was surprised to learn (as you can read in this interview) that DC did not contact Scioli when assembling the creative team for the new OMAC title. As I edited this interview I realized it was hard to find my favorite part of our discussion, but it may be the revelation that the look for Two-Tank Omen came to Scioli in a dream. A close second was learning a bit about his next webcomic, Final Frontier. Feel free to chime in with your favorite part of this interview and/or Scioli’s work in the comments section, please.

Tim O’Shea: As an independent creator, the job of marketing your work falls to you. Do you think over the years, you have gotten more comfortable marketing yourself? On a related note, how did you decide upon doing this one minute trailer for American Barbarian?

Thomas Scioli: Even the largest comics publishers don’t seem to have a budget for promotion, so I’d say any creator, independent or mainstream, can benefit from doing their own promotion. It’s something that I’ve never been comfortable with, but do out of necessity. I think I have gotten better about it, because in the beginning, it would give me crippling anxiety, now it’s just mild trepidation. The idea for doing a trailer came from having seen other people do it. AdHouse’s own Afrodisiac trailer and [Top Shelf's] Infinite Kung-Fu [trailer] are two that made an impression on me when they made the rounds. It got me excited about those two works, so I wanted to do the same. I’d been dabbling with animation, back when I started AmBarb so it was a natural outgrowth of that, too. Once you start doing a webcomic it isn’t long before you realize, hey, why not just do a cartoon?

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Your Wednesday Sequence 37 | Steve Ditko

Ditko’s World #1 (1986), page 19.  Steve Ditko.

Few careers in comics are as full of bizarre happenings and unanswered questions as Steve Ditko’s — and yet it often seems to me that the crowning strangeness of Ditko’s six decades (!) as a cartoonist is his popularity, the fact that even the most unadventurous of comics readers know his name and are at least familiar with his work in passing.  Ditko’s work is almost aggressively non-mainstream, and grows more so with every passing year.  He happened to be in the right place at the right time once, when an angular, surrealistic strip with a near-pathological lead character and the unlikely name “Spider-Man” hit it big with a generation of comics readers on the lookout for something different.  But even Ditko’s most famous creation only really took off once he walked away from it, leaving John Romita to smooth the rough edges from a strip that Ditko lanced through with menacing shadows, an urban landscape on the brink of decay, and an attitude that danced between aspiration and hatred, pulling back the curtain on the dark side of youthful energy.

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Grumpy Old Fan | New 52, Month Two: DC solicits for October 2011

Don Newton and Dick Giordano provide a classic Batman cover

Sometimes it’s been hard for me to process the New 52 as anything but an amorphous mass of, well, Newness. In this respect, DC’s October solicitations are helping to define that mass, with details like the five-year timeframe and Superman’s work boots.

Still, despite the promise of widespread change — and the somewhat-irrational implication that those who aren’t curious now will be left behind later — it’s been fairly easy for me almost to ignore the solicits, and just buy the books when they come out. After all, presumably DC is after new (or returning) readers who don’t follow the solicits and aren’t attuned to the spoilers.

Besides, the October solicits also include some attractive reprints; so let’s get right to it, shall we?

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What Are You Reading? with Tom Scioli

Batman Inc. #7

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guest if artist Tom Scioli, artist on Godland and creator of American Barbarian.

To see what Tom and the Robot 6 crew have been read, click the link below.

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

John Byrne's Next Men

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:

There are a lot of great periodicals coming out this week, so I’d have some hard choices to make. With only $15, I’d concentrate first on those with the cheapest prices: the first issue of Dark Horse’s new Mighty Samson ($3.50), Atomic Robo and the Deadly Art of Science #2 ($3.50), and Mouse Guard: Black Axe #1 ($3.50). I’m already a huge fan of both Atomic Robo and Mouse Guard and – based on its concept and vague memories of stories I read as a kid – hope to become one of Mighty Samson too. I’d spend the last of my money on Northern Guard #1, because I’m a sucker for Canadian superheroes.

If I had $30:

I’d add Doc Macabre #1 ($3.99), John Byrne’s Next Men #1 ($3.99), and Strange Tales 2 #3 ($4.99). “Doc Macabre” is an awesome name and I love Steve Niles’ pulp stuff, I’ve been waiting 16 years for that Next Men issue, and the Strange Tales book has a Kate Beaton story in which the Avengers go to a carnival. I’d pay five bucks just for Beaton’s deal, but it’s also got a Thing tale by Harvey Pekar (and yes, Harvey Pekar is in the story).

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Kirby, Ditko omnibus collections coming from DC next summer?

Green Arrow

Here’s another nice catch by blogger Corey Blake, who spotted the Trouble collection on Amazon last month — Blake points out listings for upcoming omnibus collections from DC featuring the works of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.

Unfortunately there’s little information on either collection. The description on the Jack Kirby one, due at the end of July, focuses on his Green Arrow work: “In 1957, following the dissolution of his partnership with Joe Simon, Jack Kirby returned to DC Comics. Among his new assignments was the Green Arrow feature that ran simultaneously in ADVENTURE COMICS and WORLD’S FINEST COMICS, pitting the Emerald Archer and his sidekick, Speedy, against a plethora of foes.”

The Ditko one, meanwhile, doesn’t have a description, but the cover artwork (which likely isn’t final) features Shade, the Changing Man … so it’s probably a safe guess that it’ll contain Ditko’s eight-issue Shade series from the 1970s.

What Are You Reading?

Hellblazer: India

Hello and welcome once again to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew talk about the comics and graphic novels that they’ve been enjoying lately. Today our special guest is Bill Reed, who contributes to our sister blog Comics Should Be Good!. To see what Bill and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click the link below.

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What Are You Reading?

Thor: The Mighty Avenger #1

Hello and welcome once again to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew talk about the comics and graphic novels that they’ve been enjoying lately.

Today’s guest is Zom from the Mindless Ones blog. To see what Zom and the rest of the Robot 6 team have been reading, click below.

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From the archives: Steve Ditko’s 1957 take on CEOs and capitalism

From "Director of the Board," by Steve Ditko

The excellent blog Ditko Comics routinely unearths some rarely seen gems from Steve Ditko’s immense bibliography, and one last week really caught my eye.

Inside the pages of Charlton Comics’ Strange Suspense Stories #33 from 1957, Steve Ditko wrote and illustrated a five-page highly charged boardroom drama called “Director of the Board.” As the site owner describes it, it’s a “strange little story about an executive turning down a job applicant but encouraging him with the tale of a dream he had as a struggling young job-seeker, dreaming about taking the initiative and risks to rise in the company through any number of unethical actions.” Read on here for the full story.

Robot reviews: Strange Suspense

Strange Suspense

Strange Suspense

Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1
Edited by Blake Bell
Fantagraphics Books, 240 pages, $39.99

I am in no way an expert where Steve Ditko is concerned. My knowledge of him and his work is pretty much equal to that of the average comics fan my age (co-creator of Spider-Man and Dr. Strange, also did Creeper and Shade, big Ayn Rand fan, has a thing for drawing hands). So I don’t feel I can offer some kind of quantitative analysis about Strange Suspense, a new compendium of pre-Code Ditko stories, and how it compares to his most famous and even current work.

I do, however, have a few thought that sprang to mind while reading the book that I thought worth sharing …

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Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Disney and Marvel

Disney and Marvel

Retailing | Could Disney’s planned $4-billion purchase of Marvel signal the return comic books to the mass market? “I see the Marvel acquisition by Disney helping to expand the genre of comic books and remove it from the dusty basement of the world,” says direct-market retailer Creswell. “I do see Disney stepping in and offering retailers outside of the direct comic book market incentives for selling Marvel products,” Creswell said. [Reuters]

Publishing | Long-struggling e-book site Wowio reportedly has informed publishers that payments for the second quarter of 2008 will be made by Nov. 15. Wowio, which was purchased last year by Platinum Studios, was sold in July to a holding company formed by Platinum President and COO Brian Altounian. [Bleeding Cool]

Long Beach Comic Con

Long Beach Comic Con

Conventions | The inaugural Long Beach Comic Con kicks off today at the Long Beach Convention Center in California. Guests include Berkeley Breathed, Stan Lee, Tim Bradstreet, J. Scott Campbell, Amanda Conner, Geoff Johns, Dave Johnson, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Scott Lobdell, Dustin Nguyen, Darick Robertson and Mark Waid. The Long Beach Post and Gazettes Town-News have previews. [Long Beach Comic Con]

Events | 24-Hour Comics Day will be held Saturday at locations around the world. [24-Hour Comics Day]

Conventions | Heidi MacDonald posts her Small Press Expo round-up/wrap-up/photo parade. [The Beat]

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Everyone’s A Critic: A roundup of comic-related reviews and thinkpieces

Over at Big Hollywood, Batton Lash posts an recent essay by Steve Ditko on comics and the alleged moral bankruptcy of modern pop culture:

So what is ignored/evaded is that there is a long, ongoing “status quo” in Marvel Comics company’s very existence and publishing that needs to be “broken”, “smashed together”.

There are periodic operational changes in the company’s “status quo” with different editors. But while these new editors create different personal styles, they all maintain the same editorial “status quo”, that same anti-hero premise.

Flash: Rebirth

Flash: Rebirth

Really Ken? EW’s Ken Tucker declares Flash: Rebirth and Secret Warriors the “two best superhero comics written right now”:

For my money (at the comic shop most Wednesdays), both Bendis and Hickman write the best dialogue in comics. (Also check out the banter Bendis bats out in the equally-good Dark Avengers.) So there you have it, writers at their peaks: Johns a master of humanizing comics mythology, and Bendis and Hickman creators of conversation that seems real no matter how “super” the action is.

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From the Lineage of Ditko

Although you’ve probably already seen Brendan McCarthy’s ” script doodles” on an old Doom Patrol script from Grant Morrison, as Rich included them in his column last week, McCarthy shares them and some news on his Dr. Strange/Spider-Man project on his site:

“My Spider-Man/Dr Strange story is now at the half way point. It’s a three issue mini-series that will appear under the Marvel Knights banner, probably in the early summer. It’s been great fun drawing and writing the series, and Marvel seem to love what I’m creating so far. I’m coloring the book with Steve Cook, who designed the SWIMINI PURPOSE book for me a few years ago.

If Fantagraphics can’t have Dr. Strange, as Eric Reynolds suggested in August, this is equally as awesome.

McCarthy says he can’t show any art from the book yet, but he does share this piece, proclaiming he’s from the lineage of Ditko:

by Brendan McCarthy

by Brendan McCarthy


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