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Gail Simone launches Comics Survival Kit on Tumblr

Gail Simone

Gail Simone

Writer Gail Simone launched a new blog, Comics Survival Kit, that promises to be a source of useful, practical information for creators.

“Like all comics pros, I am asked all the time for advice on how to become a pro, and how to maintain that position once you have attained it,” she writes in the introductory post. “It is a huge question, even if we knew the answers, it would be a lot to process!” So she is presenting information in small, tightly focused posts and drawing on her many friends in the industry, including Kelly Sue DeConnick, Greg Pak, and Jim Zubkavich, for their advice as well.

Simone is a pretty good resource herself; she has written more than 400 comics, and her credits include Birds of Prey, Secret Six and Red Sonja. What sets this Tumblr apart from other creators’ is its exclusive focus on information and advice; what sets it apart from other creator-information sites is the high profile of the owner and the contributors.

The Tumblr already has a collection of interesting posts, including Red Sonja editor Molly Mahan on what editors want to see in an artist’s portfolio, Third Eye Comics owner Steve Anderson on communicating with retailers and Paul Allor (Orc Girl) on the perils of self-publishing.

Jim Gibbons seized control of Robot 6′s Tumblr

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[Editor’s note: Every Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss “The best in comics from the last seven days” — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]

Dark Horse Comics Associate Editor Jim Gibbons is a seasoned social media user. Typically when Jim posts something on his Tumblr, it is something that already was on my radar or something that (thanks to Jim’s post) I put on my radar. A few weeks back, I was considering content that might work best for the Robot 6 Tumblr, when I stumbled upon the idea of somehow tapping into Gibbons’ nose for content. Continue Reading »

Little Dragon steps inside a comic for free concert in L.A.

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What’s cooler than seeing your favorite band in a small venue? How about seeing your favorite band and getting a comic featuring them at that same show?

As a part of Tumblr IRL (“In Real Life), Swedish synthpop band Little Dragon performed a free “pop-up” show for fans Friday in Los Angeles, and with them was artist Brian Butler. Butler is a friend of the band and the creator of Nabuma Comics, a limited-edition comic that features the band members getting stuck inside a strange world that exists in their keyboardist’s beard.

And what a beard it is:

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Take a peek inside Dustin Harbin’s sketchbook

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Many artists utilize Tumblr primarily as a promotional platform, but I find Dustin Harbin’s blog to be a little more layered, as he also uses it as a process/teaching tool.

He frequently shares pages from his sketchbooks, and includes the size of the pieces and the tools he used to draw them. Below are a few of his sketchbook pages.

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Comics A.M. | ‘Jihad Jane’ faces lengthy sentence for cartoonist murder plot

Colleen LaRose

Colleen LaRose

Crime | Federal prosecutors are seeking a lengthy prison term for Colleen LaRose, who was convicted, along with two other people, in a foiled 2009 plot to kill Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonist who drew a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed. LaRose, who goes by the online name “Jihad Jane,” could face a life sentence, but as she assisted U.S. authorities with several terrorism investigations, they are merely asking that she spend “decades” behind bars. LaRose’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Monday; her co-conspirator, Mohammad Hasan Khalid, will be sentenced on Tuesday. [The Guardian]

Creators | Neil Gaiman, who maintains a highly visible presence on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr — he has 1.8 million followers on Twitter alone — is taking a six-month “sabbatical” from social media to focus on his writing. “I feel that I’m getting too dependent on phones, on Twitter,” said Gaiman, who began blogging in 2001. “It’s a symbiotic relationship. That instant ability to find things out, to share. I want to see what happens when I take some time off.” [The Guardian]

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A writer writes! But it’s not quite that easy …

Bendis SketchingIt started with a simple question on Brian Michael Bendis’ Tumblr:

what advice do you have for someone that has had writers block for the past 6 or 7 years?

His response was terse:

this will sound harsh but you’re probably not a writer.

writers write every day. it’s ok, not everyone is.

but if you consider yourself one, get off your ass and get back to work!! write about why you haven’t been writing . anything. just write.

… and then it made its way around Tumblr, getting blogged and reblogged and commented on. Here’s a pretty good string of responses and responses-to-responses at Warren Ellis’ Tumblr, and Paul Constant compiled more Tumblr responses in a post at The Stranger, which then accumulated a pretty long comment string of its own.

This particular discussion resonated with me because I was in a similar situation: I wanted to be a writer for years before I actually wrote anything worth reading. It’s true, a writer writes, but when you are just sitting there all alone in front of the keyboard, it can be hard to know what to write or if what you are writing is worthwhile. I wrote great articles in my head but they seldom made it onto the computer, and when they did, I never seemed to be able to finish them. I picked at different things, but with no deadlines, I had no urgency to wrap anything up, and with no one to read my unfinished bits, I got no feedback. It’s one thing to write when you have assignments and deadlines and editors yelling at you; it’s another entirely when you’re sitting there in a vacuum.

So here’s the advice I would have given Bendis’ inquisitor:

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Former cartoonist expresses himself with pancake batter

pancake treeKevin Blankenship used to be a newspaper cartoonist — you might have seen his strip @random in your local paper, and there’s a hefty sample of his work at his website — but we all know that’s a tough field nowadays. So a few years ago, when he had kids, Blankenship put away his pen and focused on his day job in advertising.

He still manages to be creative every Sunday morning, however, when he makes his kids’ favorite breakfast: pancakes. He has turned it into sort of a cartoon challenge — the children tell him what to draw, and he sketches it on a hot griddle, using thinned-out pancake batter in a squeeze bottle. Over time he has refined his technique to create a three-toned look by putting down the darkest lines first, letting them brown a bit, then adding two more layers, one at a time. He started posting his pancake creations on Instagram and Twitter, and now he’s on Tumblr as well.

Pancakes turn out to be a rather forgiving medium. “As long as the pancakes taste good,” he told Business Insider, “you don’t have to worry too much about messing up the shape.”

Check out Blankenship’s Tumblr for more images like the ones above and below; he has been on a roll with Christmas pancakes lately, including two versions of the leg lamp from A Christmas Story.

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Blog saves classic fanzine art from the ash heap of history

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We’re living in an age where increasing aspects of our comics heritage is being protected, with all manner of work coming back into print in fittingly deluxe packages. However, we can all think of great comics that will probably never be reprinted, for various obscure reasons. For example, all manner of great work published by Marvel and DC in the 1970s and ’80s will never see the light of day again due to lapsed licensing deals. Other titles, other creators, simply fall from fashion, to await rediscovery by another generation. Others still end up in complicated rights battles and litigation.

One field of comics-related work that seems to be just lost to the unrelenting march of time and progress is that of the pre-Internet fanzine. Many significant figures in comics history contributed text and art to this near-dead medium, and it’s hard to see any organization having the will to invest in researching, reprinting or digitizing this lost legacy.

Colin Smith is a blogger and the author of Sequart’s “Shameless? The Superhero Comics of Mark Millar,” and as a critic has written about comics for some of the United Kingdom’s top magazines. He has a secondary blog where he has been recently sharing some great art from old U.K. fanzines and convention booklets.

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National Comic Book Day: the aftermath

Tyler

Despite its relative obscurity, National Comic Book Day seems to be getting a bit of traction. With apparently zero support from the big publishers or Diamond Comic Distributors, it’s really a grass-roots holiday. As I mentioned in my post Wednesday, these sorts of occasions are useful for reporters who want to write about comics but need a news hook. Perhaps something similar is going on in the marketing department of Jo-Ann Fabrics. Here’s a roundup of National Comic Book Day observances, which may provide a rough map to geek presence in unexpected quarters.

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‘Peanuts’ meets The Smiths in This Charming Charlie blog

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In the grand Internet tradition of combining one thing you like with another thing you like, the blog This Charming Charlie matches panels from Charles Schulz’s legendary comic strip Peanuts with the lyrics of ’80s alternative rock pioneers The Smiths. The results range from funny to poignant — fitting, given both of the source materials.

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The Fifth Color | Comic connectivity and you

Captain Marvel #17Here I am, like so many of you fine, wonderful people, relaxing at home instead of walking among the majestic masses of Comic-Con International in San Diego. Comic Book Resources and Robot 6 are keeping we homebodies abreast of all the news from this year’s mega-super-hyper event, so it’s kind of nice to be able to sit in a comfortable chair while still keeping informed and not having to pay $9 for a burrito.

Sure, it’d be nice to be there, wouldn’t it? To stand in line and take your chance at a microphone to tell the House of Ideas your opinion, ask questions of your favorite creative teams and get attention from the editorial team? Good news! That’s what social media can do for you! We live in an amazing time where a tweet to your favorite artist could be replied to with casual familiarity or a Tumblr post could get you a sneak peek at exclusive artwork. Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort has a Formspring account (now moved to Tumblr here) so you can ask him any question at any time of night. The people who produce comics are surprisingly at the hands of their public, which for Marvel, isn’t that new of an idea.

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Cameron Stewart’s autobiographical comics take over Tumblr

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Do we need to start worrying about Cameron Stewart? Sure, he’s young, good-looking and incredibly talented, but he’s posted some autobiographical comics that suggest he’s heading rapidly toward a quarter-life crisis. They’re getting a lot of reblogs on Tumblr: predictably enough, the home of the “selfie” is going mad for a strip taking the mick out of the phenomena. As Stewart has drolly noted in his Twitter feed, “… so rewarding when the thing you draw mindlessly in 10 minutes is 1000 times more popular than anything you sweated over.”

Stewart will be at this weekend’s 2D Festival in Derry, Northern Ireland: Perhaps everybody there should give him a reassuring pat on the back, buy him a drink, and tell him it’s all going to be all right. Meanwhile, check out more of Stewart’s recent autobiographical comics binge below.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Dennis Culver on ‘Edison Rex’

Edison Rex

Edison Rex

Several weeks ago when I interviewed Edison Rex co-creator Chris Roberson, we had hoped to include co-creator Dennis Culver in the discussion. Schedules didn’t work out at the time, but happily, on the eve of the deadline to pre-order the Edison Rex trade paperback (Diamond Code APR130377), Culver’s schedule freed up for an interview about his co-creation.

As if collecting the Edison Rex issues 1-6 isn’t enough to interest you in this IDW Publishing release, Roberson and Culver have scored an introduction by the great Kurt Busiek. The collection will hit shelves June 12.

Tim O’Shea: How did the IDW publishing deal come together?

Dennis Culver: That was all [Monkeybrain Comics co-publishers] Chris [Roberson] and Allison [Baker]. From what I understand, IDW had expressed an interest in print collections fairly early in the Monkeybrain launch, and I was on board as soon as I heard. They gave us a fair deal and they put out great looking books. I’m very happy to publish Rex through them!

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New Tumblr lists welcoming comics shops—but do we need it?

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Comics shops are like any other retail establishments, I guess, in that there are good ones and bad ones. The difference between comics shops and coffee shops, though, is that people seldom accuse coffee shops of being unwelcoming to women. The food may be bad, but everyone’s money is the same color to them.

Comics shops, on the other hand, have developed a reputation for being uncomfortable places for anyone who isn’t a straight white male. I used to live down the street from a place like that, and I quit shopping there because of it—but that was in 1986.

That’s why I have mixed feelings about the Tumblr Safe Spaces for Comics Fans. On the one hand, I think it’s great to have a place for people to recommend (or warn against) particular shops. On the other hand, just by its very existence, it perpetuates the notion of comics shops as unfriendly to women, gay people, and people of color, and I’m not so sure that stereotype is true any more. Are there bad stores? Yes there are, but if you look at the blog, most of the comments are positive, with people giving shout-outs to local comics shops that treat them well. I think—I want to think—that this reflects reality. I want to think that the default is a friendly comics shop with good customer service for all its customers, and that places like this are the exception. The problem is that the bad places are more visible—that photo in the link has been reTweeted and reblogged all over the place—while the good places get taken for granted. So I guess in the end I am glad that the Safe Spaces Tumblr exists, if only as a place to recognize the retailers who get it right.

Talking Comics with Tim | LP’s Curt Pires

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Once and a while a comic drops in my inbox that carries some distinct element that snags my interest. LP, by writer Curt Pires and artist Ramon Villalobos, focuses on the life of a musician named F and the LP he possesses, which has unique qualities — far more unique than your average round piece of vinyl. The comic, which Pires is self-distributing, debuts Sept. 26 (it received a pre-release endorsement from guest Ed Brisson in this week’s What Are You Reading?”). In anticipation of its release, Pires took some time to answer my questions regarding his new collaboration with Villalobos — as well as to give me a chance to discuss music a smidge (something I always love to do).

Tim O’Shea: LP centers on a vinyl record (aka LP) — could this story have ever worked for you if it had centered around a CD or an MP3 player?

Curt Pires: I definitely think this story only works on vinyl. There’s something romantic about vinyl — something tactile. Something that you don’t really get with CDs or MP3s. I think a lot of my thoughts as towards this are sort of folded into the story. Sometimes intentionally — other times maybe not so much.

Did you have the story already written when you teamed with Ramon Villalobos, or did you construct the story with his art style in mind?

I had the full script written by the time Ramon had hoped on board to draw the book. I was definitely looking for someone with a bit more of European clean line style to draw this book. I’m a huge fan of this style of art. So Ramon’s sort of Darrow/Grampa/Quitely-influenced style was perfect for this book.

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