Last month Head Lopper Andrew MacLean shared with me that he was working on a webcomics project written by Dark Horse editor Jim Gibbons and colored by Ryan Hill. The good news is that their comic, Mars: Space Barbarian, is up now, featuring a spear-wielding barbarian fighting monster birds in the “jungle of the space slug’s belly.”
The bad news? It’s only five short pages. Five fun sword-and-sorcery by way of crazy space opera pages, but still, just five pages nonetheless, with the promise of more at some point in the future.
“Amidst the kind words, many people also asked us when there’d be more Mars,” Gibbons wrote. “The short answer: We’re working on more now. The longer answer: This is a passion project and doesn’t pay the bills (Though, one day, maybe…). We all have to do other work for that, so we’ll be working on Mars as fast as the rest of all our other work allows. But, in our randomly updating format, we’ll aim to keep a steady flow of content here in the form of sketches and process posts when we don’t have new pages to post. Thanks for your patience on this front, folks. We’ll pay you back for it in awesome comic pages currency just as soon as we can!”
Check out “Only the strong” from the beginning by going here.
Comics | A CGC-certified 9.2 copy of The Brave and the Bold #28, featuring the first appearance of the Justice League, was sold by Pedigree Comics for $120,000, a record price for the issue (cover-dated February-March 1960). ““The sale for $120,000 is a record price for any copy of Brave and the Bold #28, almost doubling the only recorded 9.4 sale (from April, 2004) of $60,375,” said Pedigree Comics CEO Doug Schmell. “The other 9.2 copy (with off-white pages) fetched $35,850 in May, 2008. This book is beginning to rise dramatically in demand, popularity and value, evidenced by the recent sales of two 8.5 examples (in September, 2013 for $45,504 and for $40,500 in June, 2013).” [Scoop, via ICv2]
Passings | “He took me seriously”: Shaenon Garrity writes the definitive obituary of webcomics pioneer Joey Manley, who died Nov. 7 at the age of 48. She talks to a number of the creators who worked with him over the years and puts his accomplishments into perspective. [The Comics Journal]
Cameron Stewart is best known for his work with Ed Brubaker on Catwoman and with frequent collaborator Grant Morrison on Batman and Robin, Seaguy and Seven Soldiers. But over the past six years, he’s also struck out on his own, writing and drawing the neo-noir mystery thriller Sin Titulo, a webcomic that’s earned the cartoonist an Eisner and a Shuster award.
Dark Horse published a print collection of the series in September, introducing Sin Titulo to a new audience. In support of that release, Stewart embarked last month on a 13-city tour that’s taking him across Canada and the United States before ending up in England. Ahead of tonight’s stop at Challenger Comics + Conversation in Chicago, guest contributor Dave Scheidt spoke with Stewart about the origins of the largely improvised Sin Titulo, the series’ place within the worlds of print and webcomics, his eventual return to Seaguy, and his plans for a fantasy epic called Niro.
Note: A shorter version of this interview originally appeared on The Huffington Post.
Creators | Anime legend Hayao Miyazaki, who announced his retirement just two months ago, is reportedly drawing a samurai manga set during the Warring States Period. Asked on the Japanese television show Sekai-ichi Uketai Jugyō over the weekend how the 72-year-old filmmaker will spend his retirement, Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki replied, “I think he will serialize a manga. From the beginning, he likes drawing about his favorite things. That’s his stress relief.” He also confirmed the manga’s setting before cutting off the line of questioning with, “He’ll get angry if I talk too much. Let’s stop talking about this.” Miyazaki has illustrated several manga over the past four decades, most notably the seven-volume Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. [Anime News Network]
Libraries | Mitch Stacy takes a look at the new Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum at Ohio State University, which is scheduled to open this weekend with a gala celebration. [ABC News]
Conventions | Coast City Comicon returns this weekend to Portland, Maine, and Batman artist Chris Burnham, who will be a guest, drums up excitement by explaining the nuances of Batman’s nostrils to the local newspaper. Other guests include Mike Norton, Yanick Paquette, Rachel Deering, Ben Templesmith, Alex de Campi, JK Woodard and Lee Weeks. [Portland Press-Herald]
Publishing | Jamal Igle and Kelly Dale have been named marketing co-directors of Action Lab Entertainment, with Igle handling public relations and promotions and Dale coordinating retailer outreach. [ICv2.com]
Creators | Brian Heater interviews Paul Pope for the latest RIYL podcast. [BoingBoing]
Creators | Ed Piskor talks about his love of hip-hop and his latest graphic novel, Hip Hop Family Tree. [TribLive]
Digital comics company Red Giant Entertainment (Buzzboy, The First Daughter) will launch its true-crime anthology series with a graphic novel based on Blue Caprice, the psychological thriller that depicts the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks from the perspective of the shooters.
Directed by Alex Moors, the independent film stars Isaiah Washington (Grey’s Anatomy), Tequan Richmond (Everybody Hates Chris), Tim Blake Nelson (The Incredible Hulk) and Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy), and is produced by two of Red Giant’s board members. The graphic novel will be penned by the film’s screenwriter R.F.I. Porto and illustrated by “the art team behind Red Giant’s Katrina” (whose names I can’t seem to find anywhere).
The plan, according to Deadline, is for the company to release Blue Caprice as a webcomic “in the next few months” before collecting it for print. It will be the first release in it Public Enemies series, which Red Giant says will explore “the tangled motivations of the killers and the legacy of their violence.”
Characterizing itself as “an innovative intellectual property company,” the Orlando-based Red Giant states that its goal is “to become the largest comic book publisher in the world.”
Randall Munroe, creator of the wildly popular webcomic xkcd, has joined a very exclusive group: comics writers and artists who’ve had asteroids named in their honor.
According to the cartoonist, the International Astronomical Union, which assigns designations to celestial bodies, was accepting name suggestions for small solar system objects, and xkcd readers Lewis Hulbert and Jordan Zhu submitted Munroe’s name for asteroid (4942) 1987 DU6. The recommendation was accepted, and the asteroid is now officially designated 4942 Munroe.
“The first thing I did was try to figure out whether 4942 Munroe was big enough to pose a threat to Earth,” the cartoonist writes. “I was excited to learn that, based on its albedo (brightness), it’s probably about 6-10 kilometers in diameter. That’s comparable in size to the one that killed the dinosaurs — definitely big enough to cause a mass extinction!
Unfortunately Fortunately, it’s in a fairly stable circular orbit between Mars and Jupiter, so it’s unlikely to hit the Earth any time soon.”
Munroe is now one of a relative handful of comics creators who have asteroids named after them: J. Michael Straczynski (although it was in recognition of works in other media, like Babylon 5), Carl Barks and, just this summer, The Incal writer Alejandro Jodorowsky.
On an Internet whisker-deep in cat photos, cat videos and cat memes, Grumpy Cat is the indisputable king — or, rather, queen, as the peevish feline is actually a female named Tardar Sauce. She has her own meme manager, her own book, her own book tour, a litter-pan full of web awards, a movie deal and a company valued at $1 million.
Out of all of that, strangely enough, “meme manager” may give the most pause. (Or is that paws?) Ben Lashes, former frontman for the band Lashes, is profiled, along with his client, in the latest issue of New York magazine, where we learn how he transformed Grumpy Cat from a single link into a furry little industry. (Did we mention the Friskies deal, the coffee line, the plush toys and the T-shirts?)
Among the most popular shirts, Gawker points out, is one that combines a photo of Grumpy Cat with the caption “I HAD FUN ONCE/IT WAS AWFUL,” which, after a stop off at Reddit, where it became attached to the feline, actually originated with cartoonist Kate Beaton’s popular webcomic Hark! A Vagrant! Gawker, which concluded that the best way to get rich from memes is to “steal other memes,” contacted Beaton for her take.
“No, I never authorized anything. And some people will argue that I never wrote the joke, that it’s ‘been around forever,’ she tells the website. “But I made a comic, and one panel became a meme, and that’s fine. The nature of a joke is to take on a life of its own. At some point, the meme was applied to Grumpy Cat, where it fit well. It is only how Grumpy Cat is aggressive about protecting their brand with that joke as part of it that has ever rubbed me the wrong way.”
Indeed, the New York article makes a point of how diligently the people making money from Grumpy Cat police uses of her likeness. “No one’s a chump,” Lashes tells the magazine. “We’ve got a saying over here in team meme: ‘Respect the cat.’ ”
Conventions | The second annual Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo attracted 25,000 people over the weekend, up from about 14,000 for the inaugural event. [Edmonton Journal]
Conventions | Tom Spurgeon reports in on MIX, the comics expo hosted by the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio, this past weekend. [The Comics Reporter]
Conventions | And Lyndsey Hewitt was on the scene at Wildcat Comic Con at Pennsylvania College. [Williamsport Sun-Gazette]
Conventions | Jim Steranko and Kim Deitch will be among the guests at the Locust Moon Comics Festival in Philadelphia this weekend. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]
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.
We’ve featured writer Jesse Young‘s comics a couple of times on Robot 6, first with his and Ha Huy Hoang’s DCU-baseball tale “Sunday at the Park,” and again with “Surprise, Surprise!,” the story he and George Kambadais created about Spider-Man’s interrupted birthday.
In “Here We Go!,” Young and artist Anwar Madrigal pull from a different kind of inspiration than DC and Marvel comics. Based on a lovely drawing by Aleksi Rokka of a mother and son, the team (with letterer Thomas Mauer) puts together a story about a single mom who encourages her child through imaginary adventures that they create together. It’s a lovely tribute, not only to motherhood but to storytelling. And although it features aliens, dinosaurs and pirate monkeys, it has an emotional kick at the end.
Check out the first seven pages below, then hit Young’s website for the rest.
Faith Erin Hicks is on top of the world these days, thanks to her critically acclaimed graphic novels (Friends With Boys, Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong), as well as her game tie-in series for Dark Horse, The Last of Us, and the collected edition of her webcomic The Adventures of Superhero Girl. And yet, she admits, there’s a comic even she can’t sell.
Hicks described the project in July during her spotlight panel at Comic-Con International, where she told Bone creator Jeff Smith that she had pitched the book to First Second, publisher of Friends With Boys and Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, but the imprint had rejected it. “It is my most-rejected pitch,” she said. “It is this extremely weird story about work, and about people who work in this office, but it is literally an office that is a way station for dead people, and so it’s all about having a crappy office job but with this insane supernatural bent and it is a ridiculous story, but the thing is, it has been rejected everywhere.”
“So your coworkers are all zombies?” Smith responded. “That sounds like real life to me.”
A few weeks ago, Hicks was rummaging through her hard drive and found her pitch for the comic, which she posted on her blog. The response was so enthusiastic that she posted more of the pitch the same day. The comic is called Afterlife, Inc., and while Hicks admits it may not make a good graphic novel, she does say, in the second post, “I think this story would make a good webcomic or floppy comic (maybe at somewhere like Image), because it’s very meandering and would benefit from serialized storytelling to build the weirdness of the world its set in. Plus, the web LOVES weird stuff!”
Writer of the Year
• Brian K. Vaughan
• Dan Slott
• Mark Waid
• Robert Kirkman
• Scott Snyder
Penciler of the Year
• David Aja
• Fiona Staples
• Greg Capullo
• Jim Lee
• Ryan Stegman
Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc., the company founded by the creator of Tarzan and still run by his family, has begun publishing webcomics based on six of the author’s most famous creations. Roy Thomas and Tom Grindberg (who have been producing the Tarzan comic strips since 2012) continue creating new stories featuring the ape man, while Chuck Dixon and Tom Lyle explore the Earth’s Core world of Pellucidar. Writer Martin Powell is joined by four different artists on the remaining series: Carson of Venus (with Thomas Floyd and Diana Leto), The Eternal Savage (with Steven E. Gordon), The Cave Girl (with Diana Leto), and The War Chief (with Nik Poliwko).
The ERB Inc. website has samples of each series for free, and readers can then subscribe to all six for $1.99 a month. Each series updates weekly, so that’s about 24 pages for just $2; a great deal.
I had some questions about the initiative, so I contacted Powell, who was extremely helpful. For one thing, these webcomics don’t affect Dark Horse, which still holds the license for printed Tarzan comics. He also explained why there’s no series for John Carter: “I originally auditioned for John Carter of Mars, but Disney/Marvel still has a hold on it. Still, ERB Inc. was apparently impressed enough that they offered me Carson of Venus and allowed me to assemble my own art team, which I’ve done for my other four ERB comic strips as well. So, you could say in a sense that I am Carson … we both aimed at Mars and ended up on Venus!”
It’s also a great showcase for established and emerging artists: Ryan Sohmer writes the comic but he brings in different artists to illustrate each page, so the style of the comic varies quite a bit from day to day, depending on who is being skewered.
After three years, however, The Gutters isn’t turning a profit, so Sohmer, who is also the writer of the webcomics Least I Could Do and Looking for Group, has turned to Kickstarter to basically pre-fund the next year. As he explains on the Kickstarter page, he pays the artist an average of $300 per comic, which comes to $15,000 per year for a comic that updates once a week. The campaign reached its initial goal this week, and Sohmer will add another weekly update for each additional $15,000 raised. I asked him why he was taking this route, and why he is doing things the way he does.