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Titan to publish digital editions of ‘Spandex’ and ‘The O-Men’

The Spandex team

The Spandex team

The press release I received this morning from Titan Comics calls Martin Eden’s Spandex “the world’s first comic featuring gay superheroes,” which seems like the sort of claim that gets refuted as soon as you post it on the Internet. Still, Eden has taken the idea of, basically, an all-gay Justice League and really run with it.

Spandex was nominated for an Eagle Award, and Titan Books collected the first three issues into a trade edition a couple of years ago. Now it’s making the first two issues available on comiXology for $1.99 each.

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Lesley Vamos’ portraits capture aging heroes, wrinkles and all

vamos1

With rare exception, characters in superhero comics seldom age. Sure, there’s Savage Dragon and, once upon a time, DC’s Justice Society and former sidekicks like Dick Grayson, Wally West and Donna Troy, but by and large, publishers (and creators and readers) like only the illusion of change; the heroes can’t actually age (or, in several cases, get married, as that mysteriously makes them older as well).

However, no one apparently told that to Lesley Vamos, artist for Lion Forge Entertainment’s Punky Brewster comic, who this month has been depicting costumed in their golden years in a series of wonderful illustrations on her Facebook page. From Storm to Iron Man to The Phantom, Vamos captures them and their wrinkles, gray hairs, liver spots and bulging midsections.

Check out Ant-Man and Rogue below, and even more on Vamos’ Facebook page.

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Comics A.M. | ‘Kuroko’s Basketball’ threat suspect admits to charges

Kuroko’s Basketball

Kuroko’s Basketball

Legal | Hirofumi Watanabe admitted Thursday in Tokyo District Court to sending hundreds of threatening letters to bookstores, convenience stores and convention centers associated with Tadatoshi Fujimaki’s manga Kuroko’s Basketball. The motive, the 35-year-old man said, was jealousy of Fujimaki’s success; Watanabe reasoned that, “If I somehow managed to harass and depress him, I could drag him into my suicide journey.” Watanabe added that he had been abused by his parents and bullied as a child, and had “homosexual tendencies.” He attempted suicide before he sent the threat letters and would do so again after he was freed, he told the court: “That way, society can rest assured that I won’t do anything stupid again.” [Anime News Network]

Legal | Attorney Marc H. Greenberg revisits the lawsuit brought by musicians Johnny and Edgar Winter against DC Comics over a 1995 storyline in Jonah Hex that portrayed two evil brothers, Johnny and Edgar Autumn. [Print]

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In this Toronto comic store, even the coffee cups wear masks

silver snail-drink sleeves

Toronto’s Silver Snail is celebrating its partnership with The Black Canary Espresso Bar (located inside the comic store) by giving away limited-edition “cup masks” to the first 200 people who stop by today for a comic book and coffee.

As you can see from the photo above, the cup sleeves feature close-ups of such characters as Wolverine, Captain America, Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and Iron Man. And they’re not all Marvel characters, either: You can get a look at Catwoman and Harley Quinn below.

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Comics-inspired typographic prints might look good on your wall

poster-flash

Comics fans searching for a visually bold yet affordable way to liven up a room may find something that suits their tastes, and their budgets, from GeekMyWall, which offers a line of striking typographic posters inspired by comics characters.

Harley Quinn, Batman, Green Lantern, Rorschach, V — they’re all represented in prints beginning at 11 inches by 17 inches or $25. Each figure is created from character-appropriate quotes. For instance, Wonder Woman is, “Of all people, you know who I am … …who the world needs me to be. I’m Wonder Woman.” And The Flash: “‘I’m getting lectured on child safety from a man who’s gone through four Robins?”

They’re also available as T-shirts. And if the comic characters aren’t for you, there are plenty of television- and movie-themed options.

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Comics A.M. | Amid Korea’s webtoon boom, cartoonists struggle

The Great Catsby, Vol. 2

The Great Catsby, Vol. 2

Digital comics | The Korea Times takes a look at the comics market in that country, where government suppression of comic books in the 1990s (and school-sponsored book burnings even before that) has combined with the current demand for free digital material (in the form of the wildly popular “webtoons”) to create an uncertain environment for cartoonists trying to make a living from their work. “Unlike Japanese manga, which continues to drive a large part of the country’s publishing market and provide a creative influence to movies, music and video games, Korea’s cartoon culture was deprived of its opportunity to thrive,” said Lee Chung-ho, president of the Korea Cartoonist Association. “However, the most difficult process for us will be to find a sustainable business model. Readership has increased dramatically through webtoons, but you have no clear idea on how many of these readers will be willing to pay for content.” [The Korea Times]

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8 things superheroes (mostly) get away with that we can’t

superheroes-buzzfeed

While this Buzzfeed video spotlights “Things Superheroes Do That’d Be Creepy If You Did Them,” I can’t help but think the website is taking aim at a certain Cape Crusader. I mean, child sidekicks, the Christian Bale growly voice, lurking … Just come out and say it, Buzzfeed: Batman is kind of creepy.

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Comics A.M. | This weekend, it’s the Black Comic Book Festival

Black Comic Book Festival

Black Comic Book Festival

Events | The second annual Black Comic Book Festival will take place this weekend at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City. The lineup of guests includes Norwood Steven Harris, Grey Williamson and Tim Fielder. “It is the largest gathering of black comic book fans in the country,” says Schomburg Director Khalil Gibran Muhammad. “There is something for everyone from the aspirational 9-year-old illustrator, to the costumed superheroes, to the lifelong collectors.” [New York Daily News]

Creators | Ed Brubaker discusses the exclusive deal he and Sean Phillips signed with Image Comics, announced last week at Image Expo: ” It’s almost like having your own label or something. Just the fact that we can green-light our own projects and we have approval over format, everything. … I feel like we have such a core audience that seems to follow us from thing to thing, so let’s take advantage of that and really just experiment and go crazy and just be artists.” [IGN]

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Comics A.M. | Taipei festival expected to draw more than 330,000

Taipei International Comics and Animation Festival

Taipei International Comics and Animation Festival

Conventions | So you think Comic-Con International is too big? The Taipei International Comics and Animation Festival drew 330,000 attendees last year — its first year — and with Attack on Titan creator Hajime Isayama as a guest, this year’s show promises to be just as big. [Focus Taiwan]

Conventions | Crystal Gutierrez files a report on Albuquerque Comic Con, which took place  over the weekend. [KRQE]

Comics | Gene Demby talks to several “thoughtful geeks” about race and superheroes, using as a starting point Orion Martin’s project in which the X-Men were re-colored to appear to be brown-skinned. Related: Writing for CBC News, Niigaanwewidam Sinclair looks at the depictions of indigenous peoples in comic books. [NPR]

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Comics A.M. | Bitstrips’ big year, and even bigger plans

Bitstrips

Bitstrips

Business | Bitstrips co-founder and CEO Jacob “Ba” Blackstock, whose DIY avatar and comic strip app exploded in 2013, reflects on the lessons of the year, and sketches out the Toronto company’s goals for 2014. Unsurprisingly, those include finding more uses for its comics and, y’know, making money (earlier this month, Bitstrips confirmed a $3 million injection of venture capital, which will go toward more engineers, artists and designers). [Entrepreneur]

Creators | Tom Spurgeon interviews Nate Powell about his work on March, the graphic novel memoir of Rep. John Lewis’ experiences in the civil rights movement, and one of the most acclaimed books of the year. [The Comics Reporter]

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Canada’s National Defence spent thousands on superhero survey

marvel superheroes

Researchers for Canada’s Department of National Defence spent more than $13,000 U.S. on an online survey that asked respondents whether superheroes can fly, walk through walls, turn invisible and perform other feats. We can only presume it was the work of Department H.

The Canadian Press reports the questions are part of a study completed in October to help Canadian Armed Forces “win the hearts and minds” of local populations when troops are deployed overseas: “Some of the questions were designed to probe people’s expectations about – as the study put it – ‘supernatural categories that are so prevalent in popular culture and religion.’”

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Quote of the Day | Sage Stossel on female superheroes

004_starling“It surprised me that outdated norms like those could still persist — especially in the cartooning world, since I think of cartoonists (at least the ones I know!) as exceptionally nice, sensitive people. I suspect there may be big-picture reasons for it — entrenched theories about what the comic book fan market is looking for, or maybe mainstream publishing houses still dominated by people or attitudes from an older era. But it’s hard to imagine that a concerted effort to make the comics world’s female characters more substantive and realistic wouldn’t pay off for male and female readers alike, making for richer, more interesting stories, and ultimately benefiting publishers’ bottom lines.”

Sage Stossel, talking with Hero Complex about her new graphic novel Starling.

Stossel wrote the story because she was interested in the double-life aspect of being a superhero; her lead character is a working woman who has to deal with real-life problems in addition to fighting crime. After the first draft was done, Stossel, who was not a regular superhero comics reader, started researching other comics to see how her story would fit into the market. “It was at that point that I became keenly aware both of how two-dimensionally, and often demeaningly, women are depicted in many mainstream comics, and also of growing efforts on the part of some fans and creators to reverse those tendencies,” she said. In the graphic novel, Starling chooses a practical uniform, dismissing the other choices with “Who’s your costume designer? A 13-year-old boy?”

Quote of the Day | Alan Moore on superhero comics, fandom

alan moore“Now, see, I haven’t read any superhero comics since I finished with Watchmen. I hate superheroes. I think they’re abominations. They don’t mean what they used to mean. They were originally in the hands of writers who would actively expand the imagination of their nine- to 13-year-old audience. That was completely what they were meant to do and they were doing it excellently. These days, superhero comics think the audience is certainly not nine to 13, it’s nothing to do with them. It’s an audience largely of 30-, 40-, 50-, 60-year old men, usually men. Someone came up with the term graphic novel. These readers latched on to it; they were simply interested in a way that could validate their continued love of Green Lantern or Spider-Man without appearing in some way emotionally subnormal. This is a significant rump of the superhero-addicted, mainstream-addicted audience. I don’t think the superhero stands for anything good. I think it’s a rather alarming sign if we’ve got audiences of adults going to see the Avengers movie and delighting in concepts and characters meant to entertain the 12-year-old boys of the 1950s.”

Alan Moore, addressing modern superhero comics in an interview with The Guardian about Fashion Beast, his collaboration with Malcolm McLaren. Moore also touches upon the influence of his work on other writers, and gets in a jab another in the process: “Grant Morrison has actually self-confessedly made a tactic of not only basing some of his narratives on my style or my work but also trying to make himself more famous by slagging me off at every opportunity. I have nothing to do with him.”

‘If I had superpowers, I wouldn’t wear a costume’

stan lee-couch“Superman was the start of the whole superhero thing. He had the superpowers and wore that costume with the bright colors and silly cape. It’s the costume that was different. Zorro didn’t have superpowers, Doc Savage didn’t have superpowers; they could just do things a little better than the rest of us. The Shadow could be a superhero because he could make himself unseen, and if he appeared in a comic book today, he might be a superhero, though he doesn’t really wear a costume. I’m not an expert on the Shadow, but I think he just had a dark business suit and a sort of raincoat and a slouch hat. Superman’s costume was different because of the bright colors, that silly cape, those red boots, his belt, and his chest symbol. I mean, it’s ridiculous, because you really don’t need a costume to fly or fight bad guys. If I had superpowers, I wouldn’t wear a costume. [...]

Although a costume isn’t required of superheroes, the fans love costumes. The characters are more popular if they wear costumes. (Don’t ask me why.) In the first issue of the Fantastic Four, I didn’t have them wear costumes. I received a ton of mail from fans saying that they loved the book, but they wouldn’t buy another issue unless we gave the characters costumes. I didn’t need a house to fall on me to realize that — for whatever reason — fans love costumed heroes.”

Stan Lee, from his essay for What is a Superhero?, from Oxford University Press

(For the story on Lee’s 1983 “centerfold” photo, visit Sean Howe’s Marvel: The Untold Story blog.)

This looks like a job for … The Endless!

sandman-heroes

We’ve spotlighted the artwork of Ilias Kyriazis before, including his failed Doom Patrol pitch and his vision of what the Avengers might look like in 15 years. And now, to celebrate the launch of The Sandman: Overture, he’s aimed his talent for re-imagining superheroes at the Endless.

Kyriazis, whose professional work includes his self-published graphic novel Elysium Online, has been debuting each member of The Endless over the past few days — so far we’ve seen Dream, a Kirby-esque Despair, Destruction, Desire and Delirium, my personal favorite, with her floating fish bowl.

Check out a few of them below, and be sure to head over to his blog to see the unveiling of Death and Destiny over the next two days.

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