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Comics A.M. | Amazing Spider-Man #700 racks up $1.6 million

The Amazing Spider-Man #700

Publishing | The Amazing Spider-Man #700 led the pack in the December comics numbers with 200,000 copies selling to comics shops, and with a cover price if $7.99, it racked up a cool $1.6 million in sales. Avengers #1 sold 186,000 copies but at a more reasonable price, so the dollars didn’t pile up as high for that one. ICv2 also has the December charts for the Top 300 comics and graphic novels in the direct market. John Jackson Miller takes it to the next level with sales estimates for the top 1,000 comics and trades of 2012. [ICv2]

Publishing | At the other end of the scale, Rob Clough talks to Chuck Forsman, the guy behind micropublisher Oily Comics. [The Comics Journal]

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The Fifth Color | You’ve got to have a gimmick

Cody Rhodes and the Superior Spider-ManThere’s a professional wrestler named Cody Rhodes. His family has been in the wrestling business for longer than he’s been alive, his father being the legendary Dusty Rhodes and his brother the offbeat Golddust, both working for the WWE. Following family tradition, he’s a fantastic wrestler, absolutely charming and has only recently gotten the crowd’s attention through a horrible-looking mustache.

Trust me, I’m going somewhere with this.

As I said, Cody Rhodes is fantastic. He’s worked with legends, played mostly heel roles and tried to work the crowd against him. He even had a stint with a Doctor Doom-esque look, complete with mask, dark hood, minions and a hatred for the ugliness of WWE fans. I thought it compelling, at least, but most crowds seemed to find it lukewarm at best. He brought a sense of prestige back to the Intercontinental Title; it’s already moved on and stagnated once more. Nothing seems to stick with a guy who has so much going for him … until this mustache. After some time off for an injury, he returned to a tag-team partnership with — gracious, just look at it. It’s horrible. It’s laughable. Patchy in places, it just doesn’t fit his face quite right, making him look less like Tom Selleck and more like a guy with candy in his unmarked van. The very night he returned, the audience seemed to wake up. A spontaneous chant of “Co-dy’s mus-tache!” broke out and has followed him since. Other wrestlers can poke fun at it, he can be angry and indignant about it, bad guy wrestlers can support this horrible decision and somewhere down the line, there can be a “Mustache Match” or something where the thing is removed and we have story line closure.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that Superior Spider-Man is Cody Rhodes’ mustache.

Confused? Read on!

WARNING: We’ll be talking extensively about The Amazing Spider-Man #700 and Avenging Spider-Man #15.1 as well, so grab your copies and read along!

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Mainstream media dust off old controversies for Spider-Man coverage

One of the most interesting things about the big plot development in this week’s Amazing Spider-Man #700 isn’t its effects on the Marvel Universe, or even fan reaction, but rather the lengths mainstream media outlets go to find a different angle for their coverage of the story. Take, for instance, CNN, which paired an interview with writer Dan Slott and editor Steve Wacker with a rundown of “13 comics that caused controversy, ranging from DC’s reintroduction of Alan Scott as a gay man and Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s recent abortion storyline to Superman’s renouncement of his U.S. citizenship (I’d already forgotten about that) to the tea party dust-up over Captain America #602.

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Comics A.M. | Production of French-language comic books surges

Rider on the Storm

Publishing | More than 4,000 new comic titles were released in the European Francophone market in 2012, marking the 17th consecutive year of growth. According to the Association des Critiques et journalistes de Bande Dessinée, the French association of comic strip critics and journalists, more comics were produced in the Francophone market than in the United States. [RFI]

Comics | The death of Spider-Man hits the mainstream media, with Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso asserting, “We didn’t make this move lightly.” Stan Lee called it “a helluva birthday present” but added “But then, a little voice in my head whispered, ‘never say never. Just go with it while you can because Marvel, the House of Ideas, will always have a surprise up its creative sleeve for you and the rest of Marveldom Assembled!'” Entertainment Weekly’s Geoff Boucher said the ongoing deaths of superheroes are starting to feel “a little gimmicky” but he also nailed why the publishers do it: “if you look at who’s buying Marvel and DC, it’s long term fans and those readers are going to complain about this and debate about it — but are going to buy two copies.” [New York Daily News]

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Quote of the Day | ‘Spider-Man doesn’t always win. He’s us’

“He’s not Superman. Spider-Man doesn’t always win. He’s us. We do our best, but sometimes we fall short. What makes him heroic is that he stays on the right path. There’s a victory in this story for Peter if you’re willing to see it. Any superhero can look heroic in the winner’s circle, when they’re adored and showered with praise. But when you’re in a losing battle, when the world’s against you, when everyone thinks you’re a menace, but you do the right thing anyway … that’s when you’re better than a superhero. That’s when you’re Peter Parker.”

– writer Dan Slott, explaining why the big reveal in the final issue of The Amazing Spider-Man is the right ending for Peter Parker

So you’re considering sending a death threat to a comic creator …

Amazing Spider-Man #700 Marcos Martin Cover

Amazing Spider-Man #700 - This Too Shall Pass

I love comic books, too. They’re awesome. I get plenty worked up sometimes about what goes on in the pages of my favorite books because they’re not doing it right! I get it. I’ve devoted countless hours to these characters. Heck, I’m the guy who ran a New Warriors fan site for years, tracking the chronological order of every random appearance, no matter how minor. And I did it completely without irony! So I get the emotional investment we have for these characters.

I also get how fun it is to use social networks. I use Facebook a lot, and Twitter, too, and it’s easy to get riled about something you see posted there. There’s no ‘dislike’ button to click so sometimes you just have to vent. And sometimes it feels like a regular old “how could you?!” just isn’t enough, that it just doesn’t get across how deeply you disagree with a plot development.

Regardless, none of that justifies sending threats. Dan Slott has received some extreme reactions to the leaked details of The Amazing Spider-Man #700 that go so far beyond normal fan griping that I wondered just what could’ve provoked such a backlash. So I reviewed the leaked information, and I have to say my response was, “That’s it?

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First look at Joe Quesada’s Amazing Spider-Man #700 variant cover

Marvel has revealed Joe Quesada’s variant cover for The Amazing Spider-Man #700, the final issue of the long-running series, which is ending as part of the Marvel NOW! initiative. The issue features a regular cover by Mr. Garcin, and a second sketch variant by Quesada.

Before the year closes out, fans are in for one of the biggest shocks to hit the life of Peter Parker. Just when you thought all was going well for the World’s Greatest Super Hero, think again. This December, secrets are revealed, but the twists and turns are not done yet! Join Dan Slott, Humberto Ramos, and a cavalcade of talented writers and artists in witnessing Amazing Spider-Man come to a close as we celebrate 50 years of Spider-Man!

The Amazing Spider-Man #700 will be one of only two Marvel comics on sale Dec. 26, which Diamond Comic Distributors as designated as a skip week because of the holiday. The other is Avenging Spider-Man #15.1, by Chris Yost and Paco Medina, which continues what Marvel is billing as “the must-read story.” See the full Quesada cover below.

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What Are You Reading? with Tyler James

Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at the comics, books and other things we’ve been perusing of late. Our guest today is Tyler James (@tylerjamescomic), the publisher of ComixTribe, which is both an online resources for comic creators and a new creator-owned imprint. Tyler is also the writer of the superhero murder mystery The Red Ten, which goes on sale Dec. 19, and the organizer of the annual 30 Characters Challenge, in which writers and artists attempt to create 30 characters in just 30 days, one for every day in November (it’s under way now at 30characters.com).

Here’s what Tyler and the Robot 6 crew are reading this week:

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Comics A.M. | Media scrutinize Marvel CEO’s role at Disney

Isaac Perlmutter, in his only known public photo

Publishing | Matthew Garrahan’s profile of reclusive Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter is somewhat sharper than the Los Angeles Times story linked last week, as it includes accusations that the 69-year-old billionaire threatened an employee, made a racially insensitive remark, and maneuvered Disney Consumer Products chairman Andy Mooney and three other executives (all African-American women who reportedly referred to themselves as “The Help”) out of their jobs. Nikki Finke follows up at Deadline with details of Disney and Marvel’s attempts at damage control, as well as the news that Disney has settled with the three former execs. [Financial Times]

Retailing | Comics shop veteran Amanda Emmert, executive director of the retailers’ association ComicsPRO and owner of Muse Comics in Colorado Springs, talks about retailing, the health of the industry, and the popular perception of comics shops as men’s clubs: “I have new customers who walk in and tell me how strange it is for a woman to work in a comic book store or a gaming store. Their experience comes more from watching The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory, as you pointed out, than from seeing a great number of stores, though. I am very lucky to work for ComicsPRO; I get to work with hundreds of stores around the country, a large percentage of which are owned or operated by women.” [Colorado Springs Gazette]

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In ‘official’ tally, The Walking Dead #100 still tramples all other comics

John Jackson Miller takes a hard look at the July sales charts, starting by parsing the numbers for the month’s top seller, The Walking Dead #100. Diamond Comic Distributors estimates place sales of the regular comic at 335,000 copies, plus almost 31,000 of the $9.99 Chromium Edition. That’s a bit less than the 383,612 copies Image Comics announced, but as Miller notes, the Diamond numbers don’t include reorders, overseas sales, newsstand sales and other channels.

Anyway, just adding those first two numbers, U.S. direct-market sales of the regular issue and the variant cover, this comic sold 366,000 copies, setting a new record for the highest orders for a comic in a single month, handily beating The Amazing Spider-Man #583 (the Barack Obama issue), the previous top seller for the 21st century, and The Darkness #11, Image’s previous all-time top seller.

Miller spends a bit of time contemplating whether variant covers should be included in the one-month total. I paused to wonder how many of the variants are being bought by collectors who are picking up the standard cover as well, but in the end, a sale is a sale, regardless of why it occurs.

While all this is great news for Image, Miller makes an observation further down in the post that should give readers pause: “As reported last Friday, the market overall continued to percolate, up nearly 20% over the previous year. A gap is developing between the sales of the Top 300 graphic novels and graphic novel sales overall; the Top 300s for the last seven months are up 25% over last year, whereas everything in the category is only up 14%. That suggests a list that’s been top-heavy with unit volume and/or dollars.”

It would be interesting to take a closer look and see where the drop-off occurs; it may not be at 300, and if it’s further up the list, that would suggest a winners-and-losers scenario that could be bad news in the long run.

Comics A.M. | Todd McFarlane cover sells for record $657,250

The Amazing Spider-Man #328

Auctions | Todd McFarlane’s original cover art for The Amazing Spider-Man #328 sold at auction Thursday for $657,250, shattering the record for a single piece of American comics art set last year by a splash page from The Dark Knight Returns #3 ($448,125). However, the price falls well short of the $1.6 million shell out last month for the original cover art for Tintin in America. A 9.8 graded copy of X-Men #1 was also sold by Heritage Auctions for $492,937.50, more than twice the previous record for that comic. [ICv2]

Publishing | Lily Rothman takes a look at iVerse’s newly announced comics-only crowdfunding platform Comics Accelerator, which will allow immediate delivery of digital rewards in a more sophisticated format than an e-mailed PDF and cap its share of the take at $2,500. As Laura Morley of Womanthology points out, it can go both ways: Being on Kickstarter, a trusted platform with wide visibility, helped boost the project, but on the other hand, “Any site that’s able to take advantage of the fact that comics online already work as a big community, as a place where people talk to their friends and promote things they’re interested in, is likely to do well.” [Time]

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SDCC ’12 | A roundup of news and announcements from Friday

Comic-Con International kicked into full gear Friday in a bustling second day that was capped off last night with the presentation of the 24th annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. Here’s the highlights of the announcements emerging from the second day — and a few holdovers from the first day — of the San Diego convention:

• During its annual “Cup O’ Joe” panel, Marvel teased post-Avengers Vs. X-Men plans that include: A+X, described as “the opposite of [AvX: VS],” by such creators as Jeph Loeb, Dan Slott, Dale Keown and Ron Garney; Avengers Vs. X-Men: Consequences, a five-issue miniseries written by Kieron Gillen that addresses the effects of the summer crossover; Marvel NOW! Point One, featuring Nick Fury Jr.; and an October one-shot called Avengers Vs. X-Men: Babies, by Skottie Young.

• After initially dismissing Kickstarter as a potential source of money for the stalled Goon animated movie, creator Eric Powell teased he plans to launch a campaign on the crowd-funding website.

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Comics A.M. | Comic sales up 18.6% for first half of year

Avengers vs. X-Men #6

Retailing | Sales of comics and graphic novels in the direct market rose 18.6 percent for the first half of the year, compared to the same period in 2011, reports the retail news and analysis site ICv2. John Jackson Miller adds that, “Retailers have already ordered more material through June — nearly $223 million in retail dollars— than they did in last year through July.” He also points out that the second half of the year has outperformed the first half every year for the past decade, by an average of 10 percent, meaning we can probably expect 2012 to finish strong. [ICv2.com, Comichron]

Publishing | The new Valiant Entertainment would like to follow the movie “blueprint” that Marvel has laid out, according to a new profile of the reborn company. “Investors like to be able to compare concepts to other concepts,” said Valiant chairman Peter Cuneo, former CEO of Marvel. “With Valiant, we very much have a blueprint to follow, which is Marvel.” The profile mostly focuses on the business side of Valiant, as well as some of its history. [The New York Times]

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Comics A.M. | Is a battle over Thanos building? Tim Marchman redux

Thanos

Creators | Following the appearance of the Infinity Gauntlet in Thor and the cameo by Thanos in The Avengers, Marvel appears poised to expand the cosmic elements of its cinematic universe with The Guardians of the Galaxy. While some fans eagerly await a movie announcement next week at Comic-Con International, Thanos creator Jim Starlin (who had to buy his own tickets to Thor and The Avengers) may be laying the groundwork for a legal challenge: Heidi MacDonald points out that Starlin has posted an early drawing of the Mad Titan on his Facebook page, writing, “This is probably one of the first concept drawings of Thanos I ever did, long before I started working at Marvel. Jack Kirby’s Metron is clearly the more dominant influence in this character’s look. Not Darkseid. Both D and T started off much smaller than they eventually became. This was one of the drawings I had in my portfolio when I was hired by Marvel. It was later inked by Rich Buckler.” [The Beat]

Comics | Tim Marchman, author of that much-discussed Wall Street Journal article, is at it again, this time interviewing Watchmen editor Len Wein about his work on Before Watchmen, and including the interventions of DC Comics Publicity Manager Pamela Mullin as part of the story. Between the embargo on the comic and Mullin doing her job, it sounds like the most interesting parts of the interview never made it into the final product. [The Daily Beast]

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‘You’re laying on your boobs': Stan Lee boosts Spider-Man movie tie-in

Like its predecessors, Columbia Pictures’ The Amazing Spider-Man has its share of promotional partners, from Target to Twizzlers to Kellogg’s. But it’s undoubtedly sibling fast-food chains Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s that have produced the most offbeat tie-ins.

To celebrate the July 3 release of director Marc Webb’s film, the restaurant will give a free cheeseburger — no, make that “Amazing Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger” — to anyone who comes to a Carl’s Jr. or Hardee’s location on Independence Day dressed as the wall-crawler. (“No masks, please.”) And to help spread the word, they turned to Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee, who offers some occasionally biting advice to potential burger-winners on the restaurants’ websites.

For the above image, for instance, the legendary creator says, “You’re laying on your boobs. I don’t know what’s going on there.” For another photo, of a man who appears to be wearing boys’-size Underoos, Lee grimaces, “That’s just obscene.” But when faced with the photo of a woman in a cleavage-revealing costume, he marvels, “Oh, wow. … I don’t know about the costume, but that’s some set of wheels.” It’s as if Lee had discovered Chatroulette.

You can listen to more of Lee’s commentary on the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s websites. You can watch the Carl’s Jr. Amazing Spider-Man commercials, and Lee’s behind-the-scenes video, below.

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