Ripples of shock went through a certain portion of the Twitter/Tumblr/webcomics world Tuesday with the revelation, delivered by Susan Orlean at The New Yorker, that the @Horse_eBooks Twitter is not spam after all, but rather a work of conceptual art. The news also spelled the end of the webcomic based on that Twitter account, Horse_eComics. And a couple of sharp observers just earned some extra coolness points for catching on two years ago that something was off about the whole thing.
@Horse_ebooks was originally, as the name suggests, the Twitter for an e-bookstore that specialized in horses, one of about 170 spam Twitter accounts maintained by a Russian entrepreneur, let’s call him, named Alexei Kouznetsov. In January 2012, John Herrman wrote a post explaining how @Horse_eBooks worked: Some of the tweets were links to accounts on Clickbank, an affiliate marketing site, while the others were random bits of text that were basically there to fool the Twitter spam detectors.
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.
Thirty-six questions. Six answers. One random number generator. Welcome to Robot Roulette, where creators roll the virtual dice and answer our questions about their lives, careers, interests and more.
Joining us today is Ethan Rilly, creator of the award-winning series Pope Hats.
Now let’s get to it …
Of all the worthwhile causes clamoring for our attention, few tug at the heartstrings like the plight of Stan Lee, aka “The Man.” You see, while many so-called “celebrities” — Kim Kardashian! Charlie Sheen! Donald Trump! — have millions of Twitter followers, the beloved writer, editor, actor, action figure and generalissimo has … well, a lot less than that.
“How many aren’t hearing this desperate man’s cries of ‘Excelsior!’ over the Internet?” Attack of the Show! alum Alison Haislip asks in the moving PSA below. Too many, Alison Haislip. Too damned many.
But you can help: One click — one simple click — goes a long way toward making lil’ Stan Lee’s dreams of 1 million Twitter followers a reality. Is that too much to ask to bring a smile to The Man’s face? Act now; operators are standing by.
Here 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.
Writer Anina Bennett and artist Paul Guinan join the Monkeybrain Comics line with today’s digital re-release of first episode of their creator-owned Heartbreakers, which originally appeared in Dark Horse Presents #35 in 1989.
The sci-fi adventure has gathered has gathered a growing following over the years, and as it turns out Monkeybrain Co-Publisher Chris Roberson is one of those longtime fans.
Bennett and Guinan spoke with ROBOT 6 about the history and influence of Heartbreakers, its digital debut, and why they partnered with Monkeybrain. To learn how real-world events helped to change the direction of Heartbreakers makes me even more interested to see how Bennett and Guinan plan to observe the comic’s 25th anniversary next year.
If you’re attending Comic-Con International in San Diego, be sure to visit Bennett and Guinan in Artists Alley at Booth CC-01.
As you can probably tell from the “Tweet” and “Like” buttons at the top of this post, Robot 6 is on Twitter and Facebook! Follow us there to keep up to date on all of the latest comics news, commentary and reviews. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
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If you think that artists should work for free because your project will give them great exposure (and anyway, art isn’t really work, because people like to do it) then stay away from Ryan Estrada’s latest Twitter account, For Exposure, which mocks that attitude by posting real requests from the Internet. On the other hand, if you believe in paying people for their work and you need a good laugh, check it out. The tweeted material is presumably from aspiring comics writers, although they might think about paying an editor, as misspellings and grammatical errors are legion.
For good measure, he also presents a dramatic reading (below) of a letter requesting an artist work for free — actually, offering it as if it were a great opportunity.
After four installments, Comic Book Resources’ monthly “B&B” feature, in which DC Comics Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras and Editorial Director Bobbie Chase answered questions from readers and CBR’s Josie Campbell, is no more. Jerry Ordway’s work situation, and controversies generally, were apparently to blame. Of course, DC is free not to participate in such things, and CBR is likewise free to investigate such controversies on its own. Still, the whole thing only highlights the problems DC has had in connecting successfully with fans.
Now, it may be more accurate to say DC has had problems connecting successfully with fans who are vocal about their negative opinions of the company. For all I know, DC may be quite popular with whatever audience it has targeted. Regardless, despite its constant PR presence, today’s DC seems a lot more guarded than it has been; and I think that can only hurt it in the long run.
Ironically, part of the problem is the corporate-comics news cycle. Each week’s worth of DC books has a couple of promotional features, namely the “All Access” editorial and the new “Channel 52″ two-pager. Beyond that (and probably more frequently than once a week) the company issues press releases and facilitates interviews for various news sites. Furthermore, each month’s solicitations advertise what’s coming out at least two months in the future; and during convention season the company can manage its particular messages in person. That’s a lot of information for a company whose bread and butter come from a few dozen monthly 20-page story installments.
On Twitter, 2000AD is running a fan-art competition (#thargsartchallenge) that has produced the expected mix of submissions, with an occasional gem outshining the rest: For example, take this Mike Donachie/Baz Renshaw reimagining of Judge Dredd in the style of classic DC Thomson kids comics such as The Dandy and The Beano.
Eric Canete has been ramping up interest for March’s Emerald City Comic Con, where he’ll be selling a sketchbook called Monsters and Dames, by posting tantalizing glimpses of works in progress via his Instagram feed and the finished work on his Twitter account.
A while back, Canete vowed on his blog to no longer sketch copyrighted characters, so if you requested, say, a Big Barda sketch, he’d instead do a piece for you based on his reimagining of Kirby’s initial concept of a warrior goddess. There’s clearly some of this notion going on with these pieces; I think we all could take a guess at which characters possibly inspired which drawings. Some of the pictures below may be regarded as NSFW, depending on your boss’ tolerance for cartoon pokies or under-boob.
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?“
Legal | Disney has filed a motion to dismiss a $5.5 billion copyright-infringement lawsuit filed in October by failed dot-com Stan Lee Media Inc. in its sixth attempt to claim ownership of the Marvel characters co-created by Stan Lee. SLM, which is no longer affiliated with its co-founder and namesake, asserts Lee didn’t properly assign ownership of the works to Marvel, and that Disney didn’t file its Marvel agreement with the U.S. Copyright Office. Disney calls the lawsuit “completely frivolous,” and argues, in part, that the claims have already been litigated and rejected. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Publishing | As final print edition of The Dandy promptly sells out and the venerable U.K. children’s comic migrates online, David Fickling briefly discusses why he launched The Phoenix — a weekly geared for readers ages 6 to 12 — nearly a year ago, and why comics aren’t dead: “Reading comics was always a delight. Reading them under the bedclothes or the desk, even better. Now at last the experts are understanding the importance of reading comics. The loss of reading for pleasure has been identified as one of the principle reasons for falling standards of literacy. Perhaps part of the reason for our disgraceful literacy rates is that we don’t have comics. Comics are a link to books not competition; in short they are a great leveller.” [The Telegraph]
Artist Molly Crabapple was among the more than 100 people arrested this morning in New York City during protests marking the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. She documented her arrest of Twitter, where the hashtag freemollycrabapple quickly appeared.
“Can’t wait to draw this,” Crabapple tweeted, followed shortly by, “Everyone in this police van is wicked smart and funny except for the driver.”
Neil Gaiman dubbed her police-van tweeting “Art arrest,” while Warren Ellis observed, “Somewhere in NYC, a cop is listening to an angry short artist in heels spewing obscenities in four different languages.” Ellis went into a little more detail on his website, noting, “apparently they don’t take your phones off you when you’re arrested, now?”
For quite some time, a jerk on Twitter has been harassing females int he comics community, from Kelly Sue DeConnick to Jill Pantozzi. He uses various Twitter handles like @MisterE2009 and @JonVeee to post some very vulgar, nasty, threatening, over-the-top stuff.
I should warn you that his Twitter pages are not safe for work (NSFW), both in terms of what he’s posted and the images he has displayed; if you’re curious to see some of his tweets, Bleeding Cool has rounded up a bunch of them. Sue at DC Women Kicking Ass has said she’s been harassed by this guy for a couple of years now. “He’s been harassing women for two years using male and female names. I have them all and if anyone wants the list I have it.”
So I’m asking you guys a favour. I’ve managed to secure this guy’s name and address, but he’s stateside and I’m unsure what the next step should be. In the UK, he would be charged by the police under the Malicious Communications act, but we have a lot of smart cookies on here and I know there’s several US attorneys who post here regularly. If we have his details and copies of his communication, how can he be prosecuted? If any of the pros who have been attacked here would like to make a case against him I’ll personally cover the legal costs. Twitter, I would imagine, can confirm his IP address if the artists make a formal complaint to the police.