Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew shares their picks for the Royal Rumble … I mean, talks about what comics we’ve read recently. Today our special guest is Landry Walker, writer of Danger Club, Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Little Gloomy, Tron and more.
To smell what Landry and the Robot 6 crew are cookin’, click below.
One of the guests at the ShiftyLook pavilion at New York Comic Con was an eight-foot-tall cardboard cutout of Ryan North, writer of Dinosaur Comics and BOOM! Studios’ Adventure Time comics, who had just been announced as the writer of the company’s Galaga webcomic. The comic launches today with three episodes and will update twice a week; the artist is Christopher Hastings, creator of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, and the colorist is Anthony Clark of Beartato.
The original Galaga, released in 1979 in Japan and 1981 in the United States, was a fixed-shooter game in which the player tries to take down hordes of insect-like aliens. If that seems like a pretty thin premise for a comic, well, consider that North has been doing a successful webcomic with exactly the same art every single day for almost 10 years. He’s up to it.
What do you do when you’ve created a comic book series that’s become more successful than you ever imagined? Branch out. It’s what Robert Kirkman did once The Walking Dead established itself as a hit, and in the webcomics world Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik of Penny Arcade have been doing the very same thing — and their creation keeps getting bigger. And last summer, when their $250,000 Kickstarter campaign generated double its goal, they included some ambition stretch goals — one of which is coming true next month.
In February, Penny Arcade will launch Strip Search, a reality/competition television series in which 12 cartoonists live together in a house and compete to win a $15,000 cash prize and space in Penny Arcade‘s Seattle offices for a year, complete with support from the company with merchandise, marketing and infrastructure.
Described by Krahulik as “Hell’s Kitchen for web cartoonists,” Strip Search isn’t a new idea — CBR did Comic Book Idol for several years — but rather a new format. The show, which is being produced by the comedy troupe/video studio LoadingReadyRun, will feature 12 up-and-coming cartoonists including indie artist Erika Moen. Filmed late last year, Strip Search will debut in February at Penny Arcade’s PATV and will also appear in some unannounced other venues. For more I talked with Penny Arcade‘s Jerry Holkins, along with Robert Khoo, the comic franchise’s president of operations and business development.
While many artists have trouble working on one comic at a time, Ryan Kelly is currently doing six. In a post about his projects for the coming year, Kelly runs down the list:
- Three, Kieron Gillen’s historically accurate response to 300: “With Saucer ending,” Kelly says, “I consider Three my main 2013 project.”
- Anthem, with Brian Wood: Kelly describes it as “a ‘return to form’ for us and Local.” He writes, “If you’ve ever wanted a sequel to Local, then you better support this!”
- Saucer Country: Although the Vertigo series has been canceled, Kelly still has two issues to draw.
- Funrama: Kelly’s own creation that he both writes and draws. We’re big fans of the series, and are excited Kelly is still working on it a little each week. He’s trying to get the third issue done in time for C2E2, but we’ll cut him some slack. Six comics!
- Cocotte: The webcomic Kelly does with Kat Vapid about the life of a cook in an upscale restaurant.
- Top Secret Mystery Project: “I’m drawing three issues of a pretty big thing. I can’t say much yet. Just think of the biggest thing you can think of and that’s probably it. I’d show samples but anything I show would be instantly recognizable.”
Concerning that last one: Let the speculating begin! Assuming it’s a superhero comic for DC or Marvel, what do you hope Kelly is working on?
Crime | The burglars who broke into Flea Market Comics in Mobile, Alabama, left the cash register alone but stole $10,000 worth of comics, according to owner Stephen Barrington. The thieves cut three locks off Barrington’s storage units and replaced them with a combination lock, presumably so they could come back and get more. “It just left me deflated,” he said of the theft. “People would come in just to look at the covers on them because they were such a various period from the ’30s to the present and like I said anything on a display; they took.” [Fox 10 TV]
Passings | Kiichi Toyoda, the first editor-in-chief of the Japanese manga magazine Shonen Sunday, died Jan. 10 at the age of 87. Shonen Sunday is the home of Rumiko Takahashi’s InuYasha and Ranma 1/2 and Mitsuru Adachi’s Cross Game. [Anime News Network]
Although the animated adaptation of Axe Cop, the hit webcomic by brothers Malachai Nicolle and Ethan Nicolle, doesn’t premiere for more than six months — July 27, to be exact! — Fox is offering a taste of what we can expect from the show in the form of another installment of “Ask Axe Cop.”
In the clip, which you can watch below, young Keith asks, “Would you ever consider running for president? And if so, what would your platform be?” The answer, as delivered by Nick Offerman — yes, in case you missed it, Ron Swanson of Parks and Recreation voices Axe Cop — is as funny as you might expect.
Part of Fox’s new Animation Domination High-Def late-night programming block, Axe Cop also features the voice talents of Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Patton Oswalt, Ken Marino and Peter Serafinowicz. ADHD premieres Saturday, July 27 at 11 p.m. ET/PT.
On Dec. 31, James Kochalka ended his 14-year run on his diary comic American Elf, but others have taken up the baton, at least temporarily: A number of webcomics artists have created homages to the strip, and Kochalka is re-posting them on his Tumblr.
They include comics more or less in the style of American Elf by Lewis Trondheim, Superf*ckers director Fran Krause and a host of others, expressing a range of emotions from grief to gratitude. Also included in the tributes is a giant picture of every American Elf strip and another that averages the 14 years’ worth of the strips to produce an “eigencomic.”
It’s really interesting to look through them and see how a single (albeit long) comic inspired such a range of responses — and how much people seem to enjoy drawing themselves in Kochalka’s unmistakable style. And, as Kochalka remarks on one of the posts, “Quitting American Elf has kind of been like being able to die and go to my own wake!”
Publishing | As part of its coverage of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Variety spotlights DC Entertainment’s digital moves, particularly its “Digital First” initiative, with titles like Smallville, Arrow and Batman: Arkham Unhinged, and the increase in sales since the company began going day-and-date with its comic books in September 2011. “What we launched last year as an experiment, we’ll increase the frequency now because it’s gotten so popular,” Hank Kanalz, senior vice president of Vertigo and Integrated Publishing, says of Digital First. [Variety]
Retailing | Halifax, Nova Scotia, comics retailer Calum Johnston is looking for a new location for Strange Adventures, as the current location is being redeveloped and the rent will go up as a result. Johnston would rather pay for more staff than pay a higher rent: “When people come in looking for a major title like the death of Peter Parker in Marvel Comics’ The Amazing Spider-Man, they inevitably have questions about other titles. It is important to have staff available to keep customers up to date on new developments and titles.” [The Chronicle Herald]
Right now, you can read two great new comics by respected creators online — provided you can read their languages.
Did you take French in college? Then head to Guy Delisle’s blog, where you can enjoy the goofy humor of Le guide du mauvais père (roughly, “Guide for the bad dad”). You really don’t have to be briefed in the particulars of the perfect tense, or even too well acquainted with Dr. and Mrs. Vandertramp, to enjoy these comics; the language is straightforward and the visuals do a lot of the heavy lifting, at least in the strips I read. (Click each of the cartoons on the linked page to get a short story.)
Fox has announced a July 27 television premiere for Axe Cop, based on the hit webcomic by brothers Malachai Nicolle (who was 5 when it launched in 2009) and Ethan Nicolle (28), as part of the network’s new Adult Swim-style Saturday-night animated programming block ADHD.
Axe Cop, which follows the adventures of the title character and his loyal partner Flute Cop as they deliver their brand of vigilante justice, features the voice talents of Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Patton Oswalt, Ken Marino and Peter Serafinowicz. The show is joined in the 90-minute block by High School USA!, from Community writer/actor Dino Stamatopoulos, and an untitled project from twin comedians Kenny and Keith Lucas.
Teasing Axe Cop in October, Fox released a Halloween-themed test clip based on the comic’s “Ask Axe Cop” feature. You can watch it below. ADHD (Animation Domination High-Def) premieres Saturday, July 27 at 11 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.
Business | Marvel parent The Walt Disney Co., which just purchased Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion, reportedly has begun an internal cost-cutting review that could include layoffs in its studio and other divisions. The cutbacks are believed to focus on jobs that are no longer needed because of technological advancements and redundancies created by the acquisition of Pixar in 2006, Marvel in 2009 and Lucasfilm in 2012. Disney has made a series of staff cutbacks over the past couple of years, beginning in January 2011 with 200 jobs in its interactive division; Marvel trimmed about a dozen positions in October 2011. [Yahoo! Finance]
Publishing | Robert Stanley Martin takes a new look at Jim Shooter’s tenure as editor-in-chief of Marvel. [The Hooded Utilitarian]
As usual, Kerry Callen has the answers. Check out his site to find out what the heck that thing’s doing there, then join me in urging DC to publish an ongoing Super-Antics series by Callen. It would go nicely alongside the imaginary Supergirl/Batgirl series by Mike Maihack and Yale Stewart’s JL8. When I take over the world, that’s the first change I’m implementing.
Awards | The National Cartoonists Society initiated a webcomics award last year, and this year the organization is splitting it in two, one for short-form works and one for long-form. The challenge with including webcomics, says NCS President Tom Richardson, is that to be eligible, creators must make the majority of their money from cartooning. “That isn’t an easy thing to quantify anymore. With online comics, we need to take into account site traffic, professionalism in consistent and regular publication, online community activity and other factors that are the hallmark of professional online work,” he says. “In some cases, it’s pretty obvious the creator is making a career out of cartooning. In some, it’s not so obvious.” [Comic Riffs]
The new season of Game Of Thrones may not be released until March, but until then I have something that’ll keep you warm and giggly on the cold nights: a A Song Of Ice & Fire comic strips. No, not an adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s novels or an adaptation of the television show; rather, it’s a comedic look at the world Martin created with all the characters played up for hilarious intent. Published under the banner Comics of Ice & Fire on Tumblr, these comics come by way of cartoonist Azad Injejikian, veteran of the Flight anthology and creator of the 2004 graphic novel A Very Sammy Day.
Launched four months ago, Comics of Fire & Ice has a great collection of one-off strip pages ranging from Daenerys Targaryen’s pompousness, portends of winter, and covers the rampant sexiness pervading the novels. Injejikian is showing himself to be an excellent cartoonist, understanding the characters and knowing where the humor is — I just hope he keeps it going!
Check out the strips he’s created so far at coiaf.tumblr.com.
Never fear, Kochalkaholics: James is busily making other comics, and Top Shelf is prepping the fifth volume of American Elf for its digital release.