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Comics A.M. | Webcomics and proper credit in the viral age

From "Life With/Out a Cat," by Rachel Dukes

From “Life With/Out a Cat,” by Rachel Dukes

Webcomics | Shaenon Garrity looks at the problem of webcomics going viral without any attribution to the artist or link back to the original site, often because that attribution has been stripped from the image itself. She cites the case of Rachel Dukes, whose “Life With/Out a Cat” comic racked up half a million views for the uncredited version, while the one with her signature received just 81,000. [The Comics Journal]

Retailing | Brian Hibbs, owner of Comix Experience in San Francisco, has announced he’ll assumed ownership of Comic Outpost from Gary Buechler as of Monday. “It only took me 24 years to do it, but finally Comix Experience will have a second store!” Hibbs writes on Savage Critic. He goes into more detail on the Comic Outpost website, telling customer, “Comix Experience runs pretty differently from Comic Outpost, but I want to assure you that we have no intention of changing the essential nature of the Outpost. Customers dictate the kind of store that exists, and we’ll be dedicated to bringing you the same passionate and engaged love-of-comics service you’ve received from Gary over the years!” [Savage Critic]

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Comics A.M. | Why ‘One Piece’ is world’s most popular manga

"One Piece" newspaper ad

“One Piece” newspaper ad

Manga | Roland Kelts looks at the international popularity of One Piece, whose sales number 300 million volumes in Japan and 45 million in the rest of the world. The piece includes an interview with creator Eiichiro Oda — he says he writes what he imagines his 15-year-old self would like to read — as well as editors from Viz Media, the American publisher of One Piece, who discuss the reasons for its popularity overseas as well as the global impact of manga piracy on these manga pirates. [The Japan Times]

Conventions | Which shows are money-makers for creators, and how much do they make? The answers, broken out into a handy infographic, may surprise you. [The Devastator]

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Simpson says ‘Nonplayer’ #2 nearly done, teases new webcomic

nonplayerthumbSome 31 months after the release of Nonplayer #1, writer/artist Nate Simpson has revealed that, as of November, the second issue is fully penciled and partially colored. He also refers to plans for an additional project, a webcomic and a subsequent collection he hopes to fund through Kickstarter.

Published through Image Comics, the first issue of Nonplayer thrust readers into the double life of Dana Stevens. The story opens in a lushly rendered fantasy world, the game space of a fictional MMO called Warriors of Jarvath. There, Dana operates as a ruthless assassin, murdering one of the game’s pivotal non-player characters. Once logged out, the young woman returns to work delivering tamales. The series debuted in April 2011 to widespread acclaim, heralded by advance praise from Geof Darrow, Frank Quitely and Jean “Moebius” Giraud, each a key influence on Simpson’s visual sensibility.

“The moment I sat down and read a printout of the book, I was seriously knocked on my ass,” Joe Keatinge (Glory, Hell Yeah) wrote on ROBOT 6 ahead of the issue’s release. “This dude’s comics debut is ridiculous and puts many a veteran cartoonist to shame.”

The single issue earned Simpson the 2011 Eisner Award for Best Newcomer.

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Penny Arcade to close video network and gaming news site

penny arcadeOn the heels of Penny Arcade‘s 15th anniversary, creators Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik have announced they’re scaling back by closing the Penny Arcade News Report video-game news site and ending Penny Arcade TV as an outlet for third-party content. Instead, they’ll focus on projects a little closer to the core webcomic.

“… I don’t think I want to ‘grow my business’ anymore; I sort of want to do the opposite,” Holkins wrote on Friday. “And I’m tired, sick to death, of saying ‘Maybe Someday’ when it comes to the things we really want to make.  So, we’re not going to do that anymore. The next year is going to be a pretty big one, one of the biggest yet; it’s the year the previous fifteen have been leading up to in the literal sense but also in other ways. I think they’re going to be ‘big years’ from now on, frankly. And it hurts pretty bad, but I don’t know where PATV as a ‘channel’ for third party shows and The Penny Arcade Report fit into that. We’ll be shutting those things down at the end of this year.”

Their Child’s Play charity and Penny Arcade Expo will continue — “We will do everything in our power to ensure that these things outlast us by a wide margin,” Holkins assured — as will the fourth season of the documentary Penny Arcade: The Series. However, there was no mention of Strip Search, the online reality show for webcomics creators.


Gibbons, MacLean unleash ‘Mars: Space Barbarian’

Mars-OTS-Cover-websized

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.M. | ‘Brave and the Bold’ #28 sells for record $120,000

The Brave and the Bold #28

The Brave and the Bold #28

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]

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Cameron Stewart on ‘Sin Titulo,’ working solo & what lies ahead

sin titulo5

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.

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Comics A.M. | Hayao Miyazaki is drawing a samurai manga

Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki

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]

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Comics A.M. | This weekend, it’s Coast City Comicon

Coast City Comicon (art by Chris Burnham)

Coast City Comicon (art by Chris Burnham)

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]

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Red Giant to launch true-crime line with ‘Blue Caprice’ adaptation

blue capriceDigital 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.”

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‘xkcd’ creator Randall Munroe gets asteroid named after him

4942_munroeRandall 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.

Grumpy Cat made off (and made money) with Kate Beaton’s joke

grumpy catOn 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.’ ”

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Comics A.M. | Edmonton Comic Expo attracts 25,000 fans

 Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo

Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo

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]

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Spam comic turns out not to be a spam comic after all

Final comic

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.

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Young & Madrigal’s ‘Here We Go!’ celebrates stories and moms

herewego-banner

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.

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