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Comics A.M. | South African cartoonist could face charges

From the Zapiro cartoon

From the Zapiro cartoon

Editorial cartoons | The Durban, South Africa, police have confirmed they’re investigating criminal charges against cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro, who goes by the pen name Zapiro, stemming from a cartoon that portrayed the Hindu god Ganesha in a manner many Hindus found offensive.

The cartoon, which criticizes the local cricket organization for corruption, depicts a scowling Ganesha holding a cricket bat and piles of cash while the head of the cricket organization is being sacrificed before him. Businessman Vivian Reddy, whom the newspaper The Citizen notes is also a benefactor of the African National Congress, filed a criminal complaint; the cartoon has also sparked protests among local Hindus, who marched on the offices of the Sunday Times last week. The ANC is also taking the anti-Zapiro side, perhaps in part because of his depictions of its president, Jacob Zuma. Zapiro, meanwhile, isn’t taking calls, but he stated a few days ago that he stands by his cartoon, adding, “It didn’t cross our minds that so many people would be upset.” [The Citizen]

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Comics A.M. | Investor group buys majority stake in Crunchyroll

Crunchyroll

Crunchyroll

Digital comics | The Chernin Group, headed by former News Corp Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin, has acquired a controlling stake in Crunchyroll, the streaming anime site that just launched a digital comics service. [All Things D]

Digital comics | Rob McMonigal takes a look at Believed Behavior, a website where subscribers can read comics by five different creators for $8 (there’s a free component as well) and then get them in print form. [Panel Patter]

Manga | Dark Horse announced Tuesday that there are 750,000 copies of the various volumes of Berserk in print; that number is about to increase, as the publisher is about to release new printings of the volumes that are low in stock, which is pretty much all of them. Volume 37 is due out later this month. [Anime News Network]

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‘Colonic’ comic wins U.K. short graphic story prize

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Emily Haworth-Booth’s comic Colonic has won top honors in the United Kingdom’s Observer/Cape/Comica short story competition. The contest, which is co-sponsored by the Comica Festival, the publisher Jonathan Cape, and the newspaper The Observer, offers a £1,000 (about $1,600 U.S.) cash prize to the creator of the best four-page short story.

Haworth-Booth’s comic is a slightly fictionalized account of her colonic irrigation, one of the many treatments she sought for chronic fatigue syndrome. As she told Rachel Cooke of The Guardian, “The experience wasn’t quite as awful as I’ve made out, and I’ve edited, exaggerated and added to it, but I hope I’ve got to the emotional truth of the experience: how powerless you can feel during medical procedures and how surreal it is to be in such intimate contact with a complete stranger.” Haworth-Booth was the runner-up in the 2008 competition, and after that she “knuckled down,” in her own words. She is now developing her diary comics in to a graphic novel.

The runner-up in the competition is Michael Parkin’s “Lines,” a playful little comic with echoing shapes and panels. You can read both comics in their entirety below.

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1975 called, and it wants its sexist author profile back

Isabel Greenberg Encyclopedia of Early EarthPerhaps you’ve heard of Isabel Greenberg: She’s a young (age 25) creator whose first full-length graphic novel, The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, is out this week. Her fellow creators have lots of good things to say about her and her work. She’s off to a good start, and frankly, she deserves better than this condescending profile in the U.K. newspaper Metro:

Isabel Greenberg is the new face of comics. Not just because one look at this petite, pretty blonde confounds the lingering cliché that comics are created by spotty adult males in unwashed Spider-Man T-shirts.

Right there, in the very first paragraph, the writer manages to belittle her subject, insult male creators by calling them pimply and dirty, and insult female creators by acting like they don’t exist. That’s quite a hat trick!

I blame the editor for this, first for assigning the story to someone who obviously knows nothing about comics and then for letting her get away with that introduction and the purple prose that follows. Calling Greenberg a “petite, pretty blonde” is not only sexist, it’s also lazy writing. That sort of thing was common in the 1970s, when every article about a woman had to include a description of her looks and what she was wearing. I thought we had moved on by now, but apparently Metro hasn’t received the memo; I doubt they’d let a writer get away with describing Craig Thompson as “tall, dark and handsome.”

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Shortlist announced for British Comic Awards

British Comic Awards

British Comic Awards

The shortlist for the second annual British Comic Awards was released today, and the judges will now begin the task of determining the final set of winners, which will be announced in November at the Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds.

The nominations for the BCAs are a multi-step process, as explained by BCA Committee member Richard Bruton: First the committee selects a longlist; during that process, the public is invited to send in suggestions for inclusion. After that, the committee winnows it down to the shortlist and hands it over to the judges, who make the final picks in four categories. The committee determines the year’s Hall of Fame winner, Leo Baxendale, creator of the Bash Street Kids, Minnie the Minx, Sweeny Toddler and a host of other characters who delighted children, myself included, for more than 30 years.

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Digital ‘Dandy’ is gone for now, but maybe not forever

Dandy 13Word got out over the weekend that Issue 13 of the digital version of the venerable U.K. children’s comic The Dandy would be the last. It seems to have started with a tweet from contributor Wilbur Dawbarn, who was relaying what his editors had told him. That prompted the editors to take to Facebook to deny (sort of) that the comic is dead:

A DC Thomson spokesperson said, “The Digital Dandy team has worked hard to produce an interactive and engaging App. While the digital comic has delivered its promised mixture of daft, dramatic and different stories, the technology and format have let us down.

“For this reason, we’re suspending the existing App. Discussions and planning are already underway to re-examine The Dandy’s digital offerings. It is still too early to announce what form this next stage will take but we would like to reassure readers that The Dandy remains a very important part of the company’s plans for the future.”

You can include me as one of the people who was not enamored of the latest digital Dandy, and I’m a longtime fan — I grew up reading it, and I still treasure an almost-complete run of the annuals from the 1970s. I was thrilled with Dandy‘s original iPad app, which was serviceable and basically identical to the Beano app: You could buy a digital version of the print comic from the storefront, with no bells and whistles, and it worked fine.

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Comics A.M. | IDW’s CEO talks digital strategy, book market

IDW Publishing

IDW Publishing

Publishing | ICv2 posts a three-part interview with IDW Publishing CEO Ted Adams that covers a multitude of subjects, including the company’s digital strategy, the Artists Editions, news that Scholastic has picked up its My Little Pony comics, and that the publisher’s book sales are up, even though Borders is gone: “The book market used to make me crazy on this returnable basis basically forever. That was never a sustainable business model. Where we are today is we are able to sell product in a reasonable way so that the bookstores get a chance to sell the product and we don’t get these giant returns. ” [ICv2]

Piracy | Earlier this year, the Chinese Internet company Tencent inked a deal with Shueisha, the publisher of Shonen Jump and thus the licensor of some of the most popular manga in the world. One consequence of this deal has just hit home with the Chinese reading public: Scanlations are disappearing from the web, and fans are not happy. [Kotaku]

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Duncan Jones wants more U.K. comics movies, knows how to get ‘em

duncan_jones_22661Director Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code) once was campaigning pretty hard to helm a Judge Dredd movie, but the producers were already sold on Alex Garland’s script. Jones was rumored at one point or another to be in the running for Man of Steel and The Wolverine, but now he’s working an adaptation of World of Warcraft, which has been the basis for graphic novels from Tokyopop and a comics series from Wildstorm. So he (sorta, tangentially, kind of) is finally getting his wish to make a comic-book adaptation.

He’s been musing on Twitter about the sort of pipe dream that gets fans enthused: The stream of consciousness started this morning with the doubtlessly sarcastic, “When are we finally going to get a Batman reboot?” and “I’m bored of Marvel films. Can’t Kevin Feige move to Archie comics?” This train of thought then came back to Jones’ native United Kingdom, with the joke “I’m in talks with Wayne Rooney to make a Biffa Bacon tv show for HBO.”

The footballer Wayne Rooney does somewhat resemble the comic strip character Biffa Bacon: Bacon and his thuggish family are a recurring feature in the U.K. adult-humor institution Viz. This gag obviously tickled Jones, but also sent him in another direction: What if the U.K.’s film industry started to get as excited about exploiting U.K. comics for its raw material as the United States has been with its comics for the last decade?

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Blank Slate’s Kenny Penman on going digital with Panel Nine

BLRdjxiCIAAIxUm.jpg large

Today Panel Nine launches Sequential, a storefront app that will make available digital editions of several publishers from the current U.K. renaissance in graphic novel publishing, including Blank Slate, Knockabout and Myriad Editions, with others set to follow.

I always think of Blank Slate Publisher Kenny Penman as one of the great patrons of the comic arts. One of the world’s most successful comics retailers, his love of the medium has led him into also becoming one of its most innovative publishers. He’s also not shy with his opinions. Recalling some distinctly anti-digital comments from him on Twitter, I asked him about his change of heart, and how going digital can only help spread the word about the great work coming out of the United Kingdom.

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Comics A.M. | Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival closes

Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival

Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival

Conventions | The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival has come to an end, after establishing itself in just four short years as one of the most loved indie-comics events. A message posted on the event’s blog under the headline “Thank You and Good Night” reads simply, “We have decided not to continue with BCGF. We had a great run and thank all of our colleagues for their support.” [The Beat]

Creators | Garry Trudeau talks about Doonesbury, supporting wounded warriors, and his Alpha House show in a video interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. [The Daily Cartoonist]

Creators | Michael Aushenker profiles Rutu Modan, whose The Property, a tale of a Jewish woman returning to Poland to reclaim an apartment lost during the Holocaust, debuted at Toronto Comic Arts Festival: “When I go to vote, I have to decide who is bad and who is a good guy, but when I write I can support the Poles and the Jews. I’m much more interested in the gray areas. They’re more closer to reality.” [The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles]

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Comics A.M. | Inaugural 9th Art Award accepting entries

9th Art Award

9th Art Award

Awards | Graphic Scotland and the Edinburgh International Book Festival has established the 9th Art Award for graphic fiction, which will be presented in August during the festival. Submissions are being accepted through July 31. [9th Art Award, via The Beat]

Creators | Howard Chaykin remembers Carmine Infantino. [The Los Angeles Review of Books]

Creators | Art Spiegelman talks about his long-lived classic Maus, his thoughts on Israel, and being a New Yorker. [Haaretz]

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Grow a big ol’ beard, win some art from Stephen Collins

gigantic-beard-that-was-evil-stephen-collins-cape-011One of the highlights of every comics reading week for me is on a Saturday morning, when the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper has a new strip in its magazine supplement by Stephen Collins (they’re all available to see on the website). Collins won their Observer/Cape graphic short story competition in 2010, which resulted in a book deal with Jonathan Cape, the fruits of which is the upcoming The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil.

As you can tell from his weekly strips, Collins is something of a master at finding new angles to view the world from, as likely to see the absurd and the unsettling as the humorous. Liberated from the joke-of-the-week short form, Collins has produced a rich allegorical work with a certain Kafkaesque quality, with the story told in a rolling, rhyming blank verse (you can see examples on both his blog and this preview at It’s Nice That.

He’s also produced a great director’s commentary feature for Joe Gordon’s FPI blog that goes some way to show the scale of the hard work that goes into producing such a hefty end product.  It’s telling that Cape have secured a quote from Raymond Briggs for the back cover. Like so much of Briggs’ own work, this book has a timeless, ageless quality, that could be as enjoyed as much as an entertainment by children or as a satire by adults.

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The U.K. graphic novel renaissance rolls on

The-Man-Who-LaughsIt’s been a big couple of weeks for U.K. comics publishing, and a lot of that might have to do with this weekend’s Comica Festival (a.k.a. “the 10th London International Comics Festival”). There has been a rush of titles from British graphic novel publishers of late, no doubt timed for a big push at this most art-centric of U.K. comics conventions (it’s hosted this year at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, and I dare anyone of a certain vintage to think of that place and not start humming this).

There’s a lot of great stuff out there at the minute that’s maybe not getting enough coverage internationally, so let’s do a round-up, shall we? There’s a myth that the American comics audience is insular, so let’s disprove it: These books are even already available in English, although their spelling is a bit suspect at times. Yeah, you heard me, buy a dictionary, limeys!

The Man Who Laughs, the oddest of Victor Hugo’s novels, adapted by David Hine and Mark Stafford, published by SelfMadeHero: Hine has posted a host of  panels from the book at his blog. I was previously ignorant of Stafford’s work, but these are some handsome-looking samples; they reminded me a little of the great Dave Cooper. Hine is always good value, and has a track record of making some genuinely unsettling comics (Strange Embrace, The Bulletproof Coffin), so this sounds like the perfect alignment of talent to source material.

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U.K.’s ‘Off Life’ reaches its fourth issue, its best yet

Off Life 4 large

We’ve been following the progress of the free U.K. street-press anthology Off Life since July, before the launch of the first issue, and now it’s up to its fourth. It’s released today in its home city of Bristol (for a cross-cultural comparison, we’ll call it “the U.K.’s Portland”), with the digital edition arriving on Thursday; the print version hits London on Saturday.

It may also be their best issue yet, featuring work by such stalwarts of the U.K. indie scene as Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, Dan Berry, Oliver East and Sean Azzopardi; a very entertaining group interview with three more of the best new cartoonists in the U.K., Hannah Berry, Jack Teagle and Isabel Greenberg; and fulfills editor Daniel Humphry’s mission statement of breaking some interesting-looking new talent, most of which I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on after this. How about some preview art after the break?

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Comics A.M. | Marvel’s Axel Alonso on rise of Latino superheroes

Miss America Chavez from "Young Avengers"

Publishing| Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso talks about bringing more Latino characters — and more diversity in general — to the Marvel lineup: “People out there reading our comic books are of all sizes, creeds and colors and it’s our responsibility to make them feel included. This isn’t some PC initiative, this is capitalism. This is about supply and demand.” [Fox News Latino]

Passings | Webcomics and minicomics creator Luisa Felix (Candy Blondell) has died at the age of 60. [The Comics Reporter]

Creators | Grant Morrison discusses winding up his run on Action Comics: “Symbolically I’m not a big fan of dealing with politics in superhero comics because I think it diminishes both sides of the argument, but I do have my own take on things. I’ve got my own politics and so they do tend to find their way in. And really for me, its more symbolic, the way story winds up to tackle all those issues and looks at them through the perspective of Superman and Red Kryptonite and weirdness. So it’s gone underground. I think the early Superman was very much more aligned with the anti-establishment, anti-authoritarian current, because I think when Superman started out that he was what entered into.” [Comics Alliance]

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