technology Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources

World’s smallest comic is etched onto a human hair

smallest-comic

While minicomics are a fixture of conventions, and increasingly the Eisner Awards, it seems doubtful we’ll encounter microcomics in artists alley anytime soon. Still, cartoonist Claudia Puhlfürst‘s “Juana Knits the Planet” is leading the charge.

The 12-panel comic strip has been etched onto a single human hair using a focused ion beam, ” a very sharp and high-speed jet of matter is produced and directed towards the hair to etch it — similar to a fine laser beam.”

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Your move, Peter Parker: Man creates working web-shooter

web-shooter

Countless children, and more than a few adults, have played with toy versions of Spider-Man’s web-shooters, the kind that shoot water or Silly String or short strips of nylon rope. However, it’s never quite like the “actual” thing, or so I’m guessing (come on, in some cases you’re essentially strapping a squirt gun to your wrist).

Enter Patrick Priebe, described by Gizmag as a “German laser weapons hobbyist” — everybody needs a hobby, right? — who has crafted his own real-life web-shooter. Only instead of web fluid, it shoots a brass-tipped mini-harpoon at the end of a length of fishing line. As you can see, it’s pretty impressive, with a triggering mechanism beneath the glove and even an aiming laser. But Priebe doesn’t stop there: He’s also created a wrist-mounted burning laser and a Cyclops-inspired visor … with burning lasers, naturally. Check and mate, Peter Parker!

Check them out in action in the videos below.

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Obama reveals ‘secret project': ‘We’re building Iron Man’

obama-iron-man

“Today I am joined by researchers who invent some of the most advanced metals on the planet; designers who are modeling prototypes in the digital cloud; folks from the Pentagon who help to support their work — basically, I’m here to announce that we’re building Iron Man.”

That’s a direct quote from President Barack Obama during a White House manufacturing innovation event. Although it was a joke — “I’m going to blast off in a second. This has been a secret project we’ve been working on for a while. Not really. Maybe. It’s classified.” — the reality is that Iron Man-like technology has been in development, in one form or another, for some time.

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Meltdown becomes first comic store to take Bitcoin

meltdown logoMeltdown Comics & Collectibles on Thursday became the first brick-and-mortar comic store to accept Bitcoin, the much-discussed digital currency transferred from person to person over the Internet.

The news arrives courtesy of the cryptocurrency website Spelunk.in, which participated in the Los Angeles store’s first transaction (for the record, it was for The Death-Ray by Daniel Clowes).

“We at Meltdown like technology and like to move with it when possible,” general manager Francisco Dominguez told the site. “The thought of some magical money that’s not being spent and that I can accept to sell product was mindblowing. So it was a no-brainer that i had to jump on this new currency. [...] Brick-and-mortar/mom-and-pop shops are closing as digital takes over paper print. Hopefully this new way of bringing revenue in to a business will help keep them/us alive.”

He said he hopes to offer Bitcoin users incentives, including discounts, swag and special events.

Commercial use of Bitcoin is still small — as of late November, only about 1,000 physical locations worldwide accepted  it — but there’s a sizable speculator market, leading to a volatile exchange rate.

Skype hype: Writers innovate cheaper, more frequent appearances

palmiotti

Jimmy Palmiotti

While talking about the financial difficulty of hitting a lot of big conventions during the year, a group of comics writers came up with a potential new way to make creator appearances more frequent and cost-effective.

Jimmy Palmiotti started the conversation by noting that when most creators attend a convention, they do so on their own dime. And for writers it’s especially tough, as they’re unable to sell artwork to recoup costs. Ron Marz noted that even when the table is free, he still loses money unless the convention at least pays for travel and hotel expenses, while Steve Niles added that recovery time after conventions is also a factor. Time spent at a show (or being sick after a show) is time not spent on creating comics.

None of these creators prefers to stay home and miss meeting readers and other industry people, so Niles shared how, because he wasn’t able to attend Comic-Con International this year, he Skyped into a panel and had a good experience. “I wish we could do this at stores to meet fans,” he wrote. And then the conversation took off.

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So your Macbook isn’t quite ‘comic booky’ enough? Try this

MacBook-Superhero-Keyboard-Skin-2

This awesome-looking comics-themed Macbook keyboard skin has been doing the rounds on design blogs, but I saw it on HiConsumption. For an atrocious, eyes-on-the-keyboard, six-fingers-in-a-claw, typist such as myself, it’d be a nightmare. But it does look fantastic. It’s from Killer Duck Decals, and is available from its Etsy store.

The accompanying blurb shows them to be very witty people, indeed: “Zorro instead of Zatanna because I didn’t want to deal with the top hat, sorry”; “Our skins are meant to make your stuff look cooler, not make them bomb proof. So don’t go flashing them around in the bad part of town and skipping them across lakes because they do not grant your electronics super-powers.”

There’s a few inspired choices on this thing (check out the “Y” key), and a couple I’ll admit I’m baffled by. (What are the icons on the “O” and “D” keys referring to? I presume I’ll kick myself when someone points them out.)

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Calvin and Hobbes: The Search Engine

If you’ve ever found yourself wanting to reread all the Calvin and Hobbes strips where he made horrifying, life-sized dioramas out of snowmen, or you itched to revisit the adventures of Spaceman Spiff, software engineer Michael “Bing” Yingling has you hooked up. He’s created Calvin and Hobbes: The Search Engine.

After discovering a complete script (with both dialogue and panel descriptions) online, Yingling realized he could make it interact with GoComics’ archive of Bill Watterson’s beloved comic strip. So he did. The search tool currently only recognizes exact phrases, but users can also search by date.

To try it out, I searched for a few things and have included an example of each after the break below, but I can easily see spending hours on this. Continue Reading »

New software sinks threshold for making comics…with an iceberg

Movie2Comics makes comics for you

Making comics is hard, pesky work. It takes hours and hours to draw a comics page (and forget about all that plotting and writing dialogue), cutting down on the precious time you could spend on the PlayStation or catching up with your Netflix queue. Or it used to.

Now – if your comic is an adaptation of a movie, anyway – Meng Wang, professor at the Hefei University of Technology, and his colleagues have created a new software called Movie2Comics. Using clips from movies and a file of the film’s script, the software automatically creates – without any artistic, er…”manual” intervention, Wang stresses – comic panels of varying sizes in a cheapass Photoshop filter…I mean, “cartoon style”. Though Wang acknowledges that the software could be used by curious hobbyists who just want to dink around with it, he also points out its benefits for professionals as well, since it way cuts down the time and expense of – you know – actually creating comics.

Tron: Legacy webcomic plunges you into a virtual world

When it first came out, Tron was a groundbreaking movie because of its use of computer animation, which up till then had only been seen in limited doses. Thirty years later, an online graphic novel based on the movie, Tron: Legacy, is breaking new ground again by using HTML5 to create a webcomic that is much more dynamic than your standard still-pictures-in-a-browser format.

This is not some cheesy “motion comic” where Hulk’s arm moves up and down while the rest of the picture stays static. Check out the demo video: The motion is not figures on a background but the backgrounds themselves, which rotate to give the reader the feeling of moving through deep space. (If you’re the type of person who gets seasick at iMAX movies, this may not be the comic for you.) Oddly, the fight scenes are more static than the setup, because those scenes don’t have the same three-dimensional motion effect. The plot itself seems to be rather elemental, and you don’t have to have seen the movie to follow the comic—everything is laid out for the reader.

The demo video is a bit of an ad for Internet Explorer 9, which is the browser this graphic novel was developed for. I was able to view it fine in Safari on my Mac, although it was a bit jerky. You scroll through the comic by dragging, so it’s not quite as smooth an experience as in the demo, and it’s a bit disorienting because there are no indicators to tell you how long the comic is or how far along you are. Still, it’s nicely done and worth looking at for the novelty value, if nothing else. Sort of like Tron itself was, back in the day.

Comics A.M. | Spider-Man musical producers ‘stepped in dog poo’

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Broadway | Michael Cohl and Jeremiah Harris, producers of the troubled Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, talk candidly about the $70-million musical — or “$65 plus plus,” as Cohl says — as it shuts down for more than three weeks for a sweeping overhaul. Will the production, plagued by delays, technical mishaps, injuries and negative reviews, hurt their reputation? “It might,” Cohl concedes. “It’s a matter of the respect of those whose opinions I care about. Most will recognize that Jere and I stepped in dog poo and are trying to clean it up and pull off a miracle. We might not.”

In related news, Christopher Tierney, the actor who was seriously injured on Dec. 20 after plummeting 30 feet during a performance, will rejoin rehearsals on Monday. [Bloomberg, The Hollywood Reporter]

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Comics A.M. | Two plead guilty to selling fake Comic-Con badges

Comic-Con International

Legal | Two Los Angeles men accused of selling counterfeit passes to this year’s Comic-Con International have pleaded guilty to theft and were placed on probation for three years. Farhad Lame and Navid Vatankhahan, both 24, were each ordered to pay a $750 fine, complete 10 days of community service and pay restitution to the victims.

Prosecutors say the two photocopied Comic-Con badges and sold them on Craigslist to people looking for last-minute memberships. They were arrested in July after two of their victims attempted to enter the convention using the counterfeit badges, which the women bought for $120 each. [The San Diego Union-Tribune]

Technology | Tech blog Chip Chick names DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson as one of its “Top 13 Women Who Impacted Technology in 2010.” [Chip Chick]

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

Nook Color

Digital publishing | As expected, Barnes & Noble on Tuesday unveiled its Nook Color e-book reader, priced at $249. The 7-inch LCD touch tablet runs on the Android 2.1 operating system, and offers web browsing, audio and video playback, and basic games (CNET notes that Barnes & Noble is pushing the device as a “reader’s tablet”). The device ships on Nov. 19. [CNET, Salon, paidContent]

Internet | PayPal has announced its much-anticipated micropayments system, with Facebook and a number of other websites lining up behind it. PayPal describes the new product, available later this year, as an “in-context, frictionless payment solution that lets consumers pay for digital goods and content in as little as two clicks, without ever having to leave a publisher’s game, news, music, video or media site.” Scott McCloud is quick out of the gate with reaction: “This is so close, in almost every respect, to what we were asking for over a decade ago, it’s almost eerie. They’re even using the same language to describe it.” [TechCrunch]

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Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes [Updated]

TouchSmart 310

Digital comics | Hewlett Packard’s newly announced TouchSmart 310 — it’s an all-in-one touchscreen desktop PC with a starting price of $699.99 — will give users access to more than 8,000 Marvel comics, thanks to a deal between HP and Disney: “TouchSmart users will now be able to buy and download special versions of classic comics, and then literally thumb through them with on-screen controls. More than 8,000 Marvel titles are available, which HP says is the most extensive digital collection ever offered from any content partner.” [PCMag.com, TG Daily]

UPDATE: Marvel has issued a clarification, as well as an official press release: “HP TouchSmart Apps Center will offer streaming access to over 8,000 digital comics from Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited. None of these digital comics will be downloadable.”

Legal | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Supreme Court to affirm a lower court’s ruling that a California law banning the sale or rental of violent video games to minor is unconstitutional. [press release, Game Rant]

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Nikki Cook goes hi-tech

Nikki Cook visualizes audio technology

Nikki Cook visualizes audio technology

Comics artist Nikki Cook is going to be the guest artist this month at Gizmodo, which does for technology and cool gadgets what Gawker does for gossip and io9 does for science fiction (they’re all part of the same blog family). Cook is a member of the Act-I-Vate webcomics collective and has worked on a number of different comics; she is currently collaborating with Ben McCool on the graphic novel Memoir, and it looks like her work will be a departure from the usual photos of sleek but mostly rectangular objects on Gizmodo.

And because she’s an attractive comics artist living in Brooklyn, Seth Kushner has photographed her on a fire escape against a luminescent gray sky. Click to see:
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Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Apple

Apple

Technology | Apple said it is adding new security measures to its iTunes store after a developer reportedly hacked into numerous customer accounts to boost the ranking of his comic apps, which briefly dominated the book category. The company claims the weekend incident was an isolated — about 400 of its 150 million iTunes users were affected — but customers tell The Wall Street Journal that hackers have hijacked accounts before, with Apple doing little to stop them. [The Wall Street Journal]

Conventions | Heidi MacDonald looks at the tug of war between San Diego, Los Angeles and Anaheim for Comic-Con International, and the tough decision facing event organizers. “This has been by far the most challenging thing we’ve ever done,” said David Glanzer, the convention’s director of marketing and public relations. “Nobody thought we wouldn’t have a decision by June.” The board hopes to make a decision before this year’s event kicks off in two weeks. “If we don’t [make an announcement],” Glanzer said, “a lot of the focus is going to be on that.” [Publishers Weekly]

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