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Grumpy Old Fan | ‘B&B,’ and bridging the fan/pro divide

The great stone face

The great stone face

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.

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The Mighty Tharg is running a 2000AD art challenge on Twitter


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.

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Eric Canete goes sketch crazy on Twitter and Instagram


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.

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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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Comics A.M. | Disney demands dismissal of Stan Lee Media lawsuit

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]

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Molly Crabapple arrested in Occupy anniversary protest

Molly Crabapple's arrest, captured by an unknown photographer

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?”

Mark Millar, others team up to take down online bully

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.”

There was someone who wanted that list–Kick-Ass writer Mark Millar. After being tipped off by Ron Marz and several others, Millar targeted the bully and wrote on his message board:

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.

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Rob Liefeld, unleashed: Creator targets Scott Snyder, Tom Brevoort

Scott Snyder

The Twitter tirade unleashed by Rob Liefeld last week when he announced his abrupt departure from three DC Comics titles boiled over this weekend as the outspoken creator took aim at Batman writer Scott Snyder and Marvel’s Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort.

On Wednesday Liefeld, who had been writing and penciling Deathstroke and plotting Grifter and The Savage Hawkman, criticized DC for what he described as ‘massive indecision, last minute and I mean LAST minute changes that alter everything” and “editor pissing contests,” singling out Associate Editor Brian Smith as “a little bitch” and “a big dick.”

Snyder, among other creators, came to Smith’s defense on Twitter, writing that, “from my small experience with him, [Smith] has been a great guy to work with. To be fair, I know absolutely nothing of what went on on Rob’s books (Rob has always been really supportive of me and Jeff and others). But I’d feel bad, having worked with Smitty on N.O.T.O. ["Night of the Owls"] and now Joker, [...] if I didn’t say that he’s been a stand-up guy to deal with. Again, nothing against anyone, just deal w/Smitty every week now, and I’d feel bad not saying.”

About that time Liefeld tweeted to his followers, “It’s not you. It never has been. It’s Batman.” That apparently triggered a direct-message exchange with Snyder that Liefeld later made public, first by copying the writer’s private comment, “I can assure you Batman doesn’t sell the way it does because it’s Batman. It sells that way because of me and Greg [Capullo],” and then by posting screencaps (below).

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Talking Comics with Tim | Aubrey Sitterson

Gear Monkey (from DoubleFeature Comics)

Former Marvel editor Aubrey Sitterson has made the leap to the wonderful world of freelance writing. To mark this critical career jump, Sitterson stopped by Talking Comics with Tim to discuss his transition from editor to writer, as well as his current and upcoming projects — namely the Gear Monkey tale (by Sitterson with art by Nate Lovett) that appears in DoubleFeature Comics‘ digital release Fantasy Double Feature #3, and Redakai (for Viz Media). I was interested to learn why Sitterson lettered his own Gear Monkey tale, as well as to discuss his love of wrestling.

Tim O’Shea: You started out in the industry on the editorial side, but am I correct in assuming it was always in hopes of pursuing a full-time writing career?

Aubrey Sitterson: You’re ab-so-lutely correct, sir. While I really enjoyed my time editing comics, the goal has always been to transition into a comics writer. It was all part of my devious master plan to start at Marvel as an intern in college, get hired as an Assistant Editor, stick my finger in as many pies as I could, learn at the knee of two of comics’ best editors (Tom Brevoort and Axel Alonso) then strike out on my own in pursuit of Complete and Utter Comics Domination. I’m still working on that last part.

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Green Lantern and Alan Scott catch fire on Twitter

Had anyone suggested a year ago — heck, a month ago — that not only “Green Lantern” but also “Alan Scott” would be U.S. trending topics on Twitter, they’d likely have been soundly mocked. But on the day that DC Comics launched its full-on media assault officially announcing that the 72-year-old superhero will be reintroduced in Earth 2 #2 as the gay-billionaire leader of the Justice Society, “Green Lantern” and “Alan Scott” are on Twitter, sandwiched between “National Donut Day” and “CNBC.”

Granted, “Hal Jordan” is now trending worldwide, with many commenters trying to sort out just which Green Lantern everyone is talking about. One person tweeted, “I’m imagining Hal Jordan spending all day saying ‘No, not me, the other one. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

Although it’s clear to most fans of superhero comics that the character in question is the Golden Age Green Lantern — the only Green Lantern on Earth 2 — the finer points of continuity and parallel universes seem to be lost on the general public. (Right about now a DC publicity person is probably struggling to give an ABC News correspondent a crash course in DC Comics history, the New 52 and the Green Lantern Corps, frustrating both of them.)

Whether all of the publicity and social-media interest will result in rapid sellouts for Earth 2 #2 obviously won’t be known until next week, but it’s probably safe to presume DC will start the presses rolling on a second printing any moment now.

Start Reading Now | Horse_eComics

What on earth did we do before there was an internet? Sit around the fire and swap stories? This is so much better than that.

Horse_eBooks is a Twitter spambot that tries to gin up business for a site that sells, remarkably, e-books about horses. In order to elude detection, it also serves up random bits of text taken from God knows where. I used to get e-mails full of this stuff, but it turns out that what is merely tedious in long form is sheer genius when confined to 140 characters, and Horse_eBooks now has over 52,000 followers, many of whom see the text Tweets as bits of Dada poetry.

Enter Burton Durand, who has taken the whole thing to the next level with Horse-eComics, a gag comic that uses Horse_eBooks Tweets as a starting point. Durand’s sense of humor is almost as twisted as a spambot’s, and the comics have the same surreal feeling as the Tweets they are based on.

(Found via this article, which also tracks down the genius behind the spambot.)

Eyeshield 21 manga-ka Yuusuke Murata serializes manga short

We’ve seen comic creators take to twitter like mad as witnessed in CBR’s Comic Twitter Directory, but a popular manga cartoonist from Japan is taking it to a whole new level. Manga artist Yusuke Murata posted installments of a short manga story on his togetter account (the Japanese version of Twitter) over the course of seven days starting Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Starring the cartoonist himself, this off-the-cuff creation pits the manga-ka against all sorts of obstacles using inventive techniques such as lighting on the paper and even folding (as seen at right) to bring a unique experience not replicable to printed comics you’d see in a book.

For American audiences, Murata is best known for Eyeshield 21 which just finished American publication via Viz last October. His current manga, Donton Prism Solar Car has yet to be officially translated for English-speaking audiences.

Deathlok predicts the future in Wolverine & The X-Men Twitter class

The Jean Grey School for Higher Learning

In a novel use of Twitter, Marvel live-tweeted a class from the curriculum of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, straight from the pages of Wolverine & The X-Men. Taking part in the class were Headmistress Kitty Pryde, students Genesis, Kid Gladiator, Quentin Quire, Idie Okonkwo, Broo, Rockslide and Anole, and guest lecturer Deathlok.

Warning: Potential spoilers follow.

While much of the class consisted of banter from the students insulting each other and gossiping about campus events, there were a few pieces of information gleaned from the guest lecture in “Future History 101.” After the lecture officially began, Quentin Quire and Rockslide engaged in a debate as to what was different about Headmistress Pryde.

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Talking Comics with Tim | John Jackson Miller

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic-War

Over the past several years, writer John Jackson Miller has built a loyal base of Star Wars comic book readers, through his work on Dark Horse’s Star Wars comics line. This Wednesday, January 11, marks the release of the first issue in the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic-War five-issue miniseries (a project which teams Miller with artist Andrea Mutti). While I had Miller’s attention in this email interview, I also opted to pick his brain about the realm of circulation and its related implications. Once you’ve read the interview, please be sure to peruse Dark Horse’s preview of the first issue.

Tim O’Shea: What’s the most enjoyable aspect of returning to the Knights of the Old Republic world?

John Jackson Miller: Zayne Carrick is a fun character to write. He was the Jedi student that didn’t make the grade, but who became a hero in spite of those low expectations. Zayne starred in the fifty-issue Knights of the Old Republic series — available in digital and nine TPB collections — and it’s fun to return to him here, where, once again, he’s completely out of his depth. This time, he’s been drafted into the Republic’s war against the armored Mandalorians. Not good — especially if, like Zayne, you’re against killing under any circumstances. That, too, makes it fun to return to telling Zayne stories — he has to think his way out of situations. Brute force is rarely an option for him.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Tom Brevoort

Tom Brevoort, photo by Luigi Novi

Let’s not mince words, the online presence of Tom Brevoort has provided hours of great reading for Robot 6 readers. Given his constant and unflagging willingness to interact with consumers via social media, Brevoort is a quote machine (His Twitter bio? “A man constantly on the verge of saying something stupid–for your entertainment!?”). There’s always a directness (some would say bluntness) to his manner online–making him the ideal subject for an interview. Last year saw Marvel promote Brevoort to senior vice president for publishing. 2011 was a year of some major successes for Marvel, as well as a year where some hard business decisions were made. In this interview, conducted in mid-December via email, I tried to cover a great deal of ground (we even briefly discuss DC’s New 52 success)–and Brevoort did not hold back on any of his answers. For that, I am extremely grateful. Like any high profile comics executive, Brevoort has his fans and his critics (and many in between), but I like to think this exchange offers some perspectives everyone can enjoy.

Tim O’Shea: Whether it’s in your job description or not, fan outreach via social media is definitely part of your job–clearly by your own choice. What benefit or enjoyment do you get from interacting with the fans/consumers?

Tom Brevoort: I’m not sure that I get a particular benefit, except maybe just being the center of attention for a few minutes—maybe everything I do is motivated by ego! I’m a whore for the spotlight! But I started doing this kind of outreach back in the formative days of internet fandom, largely because I like the idea of internet fandom. I know that, if the internet had existed when I was a young comic book reader, I’d have been on those message boards and in those chat rooms all the time, obsessively—just like a certain portion of the audience today. So I like the idea of giving back, of being accessible enough that anybody who has a question or a concern knows where to find me, or at least to find somebody with an insider’s track who might have the background and knowledge to speak to their point. In a very real way, it’s all an outgrowth of what Stan Lee did in his letters pages and Bullpen pages. Joe Q, I think, was really the first person to perfect that approach for the internet age. As EIC he was incredibly available to the audience in a myriad of ways. It’s a philosophy that’s very much woven into our DNA at Marvel. And for the most part, our fans are interesting, vibrant, cool people, especially when you meet them in person.

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