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Comics A.M. | Alan Moore to make rare convention appearance

Alan Moore

Creators | Alan Moore will make a rare convention appearance in September — his first in 25 years, according to this article — at the inaugural Northants International Comics Expo in Northamptonshire, England. To attend Moore’s hour-long talk on writing comics or the hour-long question-and-answer session, convention-goers are required to donate graphic novels to the Northamptonshire Libraries, which will have a table at the event. [Stumptown Trade Review]

Creators | Mark Waid gets the NPR treatment, as Noah J. Nelson interviews him about his digital comics initiatives. “I got news for you: I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and this is the hardest writing I’ve ever had to do,” Waid says of creating digital comics. [NPR]

Publishing | Abrams ComicArts editorial director Charles Kochman discusses the publisher’s spring lineup, which will include William Stout’s Legends of the Blues, Darryl Cunningham’s What the Frack, a history of Bazooka Joe comics, and a Will Eisner artbook written by Paul Levitz. [ICv2]

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Food or Comics? | Gyoza or Godzilla

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Conan the Barbarian #7

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, it’d be an eclectic bunch featuring Jesus clones, retired spec-ops workers, environmentalists and Batman. First up would be Punk Rock Jesus #2 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99), following Sean Murphy’s big-time foray into writing and drawing. Murphy’s delivering the art of his career, and while the story might not be as great as the art, it still has a synchronicity to the art that few other mainstream books have these days. After that I’d get Dancer #4 (Image, $3.50); Nathan Edmondson seemingly made his name on writing the spy thriller Who Is Jake Ellis?, and this one takes a very different view of the spy game – like a Luc Besson movie, perhaps – and Nic Klein is fast climbing up my list of favorite artists. After that I’d get Massive #3 (Dark Horse, $3.50), with what is disheartedly looking to be the final issue of artist Kristian Donaldson. No word on the reason for the departure, but with a great a story he and Brian Wood have developed I hope future artists can live up to the all-too-brief legacy he developed. Delving into superhero waters, the next book I’d get is Batman #12 (DC, $3.99), which has become DC’s consistently best book out of New 52 era. Finally, I’d get Anti #1 (12 Guage, $1). Cool cover, interesting concept, and only a buck. Can’t beat that.

If I had $30, I’d jump and get Creator-Owned Heroes #3 (Image, $3.99); man, when Phil Noto is “on” he’s “ON!” After that I’d get Conan te Barbarian #7 (Dark Horse, $3.50). I’ve been buying and reading this in singles, but last weekend I had the chance to re-read them all in one sitting and I’m legitimately blown away. The creators have developed something that is arguably better than what Kurt Busiek and Cary Nord started in 2003 and shoulder-to-shoulder with the great stories out of the ’70s. This new issue looks to be right up my alley, as Conan takes his pirate queen Belit back to his frigid homeland in search of a man masquerading as Conan. Hmm, $7 left. Any other Food or Comic-ers want to grab some grub?

If I could splurge, I’d excuse myself from the table dining with my fellow FoCers and get Eyes of the Cat HC (Humanoids, $34.95). I feel remiss in never owning this, so finally getting my hands on the first collaboration between Moebius and Alexandro Jodorowsky seems like a long time coming. I’m told its more an illustrated storybook than comic book, but I’m content with full page Moebius work wherever I can get it.

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Comics A.M. | Will Eisner Graphic Novel Prize for Libraries launches

Will Eisner

Graphic novels | The Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation and the American Library Association will launch the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Prize for Libraries at the ALA summer conference, held June 21-26 in Anaheim, California. Three libraries each year will be selected to receive all the books nominated for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, as well as a $2,000 voucher to buy additional graphic novels and a $1,000 stipend to hold comics-related or author events. Libraries to register to win at the ALA conference; winners will be announced June 24. [Publishers Weekly]

Graphic novels | Calvin Reid and Heidi MacDonald look at the graphic novel presence at last week’s BookExpo America. [Publishers Weekly]

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Comics A.M. | DC Comics sticking with hardcover-first policy

DC Comics

Publishing | Bob Wayne, DC Comics’ senior vice president of sales, and John Cunningham, vice president of marketing, discuss May sales figures, which show the publisher edging closer to Marvel in market share and Batman topping Justice League. Wayne also explained why DC won’t change its practice of publishing collected editions first in hardcover, then as inexpensive paperbacks: “While certain titles do get a deluxe or an Absolute Edition at some point, we think our retailer would be leaving a lot of money on the table if we didn’t give consumers the chance to buy hardcovers first on select titles. The sales we are having in both channels on Batman and Justice League in the month of May indicate that we don’t have that many people waiting the trade, looking for that cheaper edition. A lot of people seem to want a nice durable hardcover and we plan to follow this model for the foreseeable future.” [ICv2]

Piracy | Manga scanlators (and proprietors of other bootleg comics sites, such as HTMLComics.com) have argued that reading manga on their sites is no different from checking it out of the library. Librarian and graphic novel expert Robin Brenner explains why that just isn’t so. [About.com]

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Comics A.M. | Fran Matera dies; Corto Maltese complaints addressed

The Legend of Bruce Lee, by Fran Matera

Passings | Steve Roper and Mike Nomad artist Fran Matera has died at the age of 88. Matera, who worked briefly in the Quality Comics bullpen, where he worked on Doll Man and other titles, before enlisting in the Marines during World War II, also drew such comic strips as Dickie Dare, The Legend of Bruce Lee and Nero Wolfe. His comic credits also include the “Chuck White and Friends” feature in Treasure Chest, and issues of Marvel’s Incredible Hulk and Tarzan. [Rip Jagger’s Dojo]

Publishing | Dark Horse manga editor Carl Gustav Horn takes the long view and refuses to give pat answers to questions about trends and hot properties: “This August, the longest-running manga in the North American market, Kosuke Fujishima’s Oh My Goddess!, turns eighteen. We started OMG! during the era of manga marketed as comic books, continued it into the era of manga marketed as graphic novels, and transitioned into the era of manga marketed as tankobon (Japanese-style GNs). Now we’re moving ahead into the era of manga marketed for e-reading.” [ICv2]

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What Are You Reading? with Ivan Salazar

New York The Big City

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is Ivan Salazar, public relations and marketing manager for Studio 407.

To see what Ivan and the Robot 6 crew have been reading (and playing), click below.

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White duck’s burden?: Race in Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: “Lost in the Andes”

Fantagraphics’ announced Complete Carl Barks Disney Library, which recently began publication with Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: “Lost in the Andes” is a godsend of a comics project.

The publisher does the heavy-lifting of finding, formatting and even contextualizing the work of one of comics’ undisputed (and, in some way, unrivaled) masters and putting it all together in an easy to find and read source, making Barks’ influential work available to casual readers to either easily finally find out why The Good Duck Artist has the reputation he has, or to discover his work for the first time.

Before cracking the cover, I will admit there was one aspect I was a little leery about. Because so many of Barks’ stories dealt with the Ducks visiting exotic lands, because the stories in this collection were produced between 1948 and 1949 and because Disney doesn’t exactly have the most sterling reputation when it comes to representing diverse nationalities or ethnicities, I was sort of concerned about what the lily-white ducks would be faced with when they journeyed to South America or Africa. Or, more precisely, how Barks would present what they would be faced with.

Reading Will Eisner’s Spirit comics and being confronted by his Ebony White or Osama Tezuka’s work and seeing the various racial stereotypes that pop up in it can be a bit like finding a fly in your soup—by biting down on it. It’s great stuff, but there’s that extremely unpleasant moment you could have done without, you know?  (Also, while I haven’t read it, it’s my understanding that Tintin may have had at least one less than politically correct adventure in the Congo).

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Previews: What Looks Good for March

The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes and first issues so that we don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “Batwoman is still awesome!” every month. And we’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.

One cool change this month and for the foreseeable future: I’m joined by Graeme McMillan who’ll also be pointing out his favorites.

Finally, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.

Abrams Comicarts

The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist – I admit, I tend to run hot and cold on Clowes’ output, but I’m a sucker for coffee-table career retrospectives, so the idea of taking 224 pages to look back at his career to date (with, of course, the traditional little-seen artwork and commentary) seems like a must-look at the very least. [Graeme]

Abstract Studios

Rachel Rising, Volume 1: The Shadow of Death – Terry Moore’s latest series gets its first collection and I love the premise of a woman’s waking up in a shallow grave with no memory of how she got there and needing to figure out who tried to kill to her. [Michael]

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Robot Reviews | Three Golden Age collections from Fantagraphics

Action! Mystery! Thrills!

Action! Mystery! Thrills!: Comic Book Covers of the Golden Ages, 1933-1945
Edited by Greg Sadowski
Fantagraphics Books, 208 pages, $29.99

Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 1
Edited by Blake Bell
Fantagraphics Books, 224 pages, $39.99

Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby’s Romance Comics
Edited by Michael Gagne
Fantagraphics Books, 200 pages, $29.99

Our current publishing era has been dubbed the Golden Age of Reprints by a number of online pundits, myself included, and it’s not too hard to see why. Classic comics that fans and scholars never thought would make it to the bookbinders, let alone be available in an affordable version, are now coming off the presses at a staggering rate.

One of the benefits of this plethora of reprint projects is it allows us to re-examine certain noteworthy periods of comics history, help us discover long ignored artists and fully consider cartoonists who, though their names might have been recognizable, have largely been unappreciated except by a few. The alleged Golden Age of comics in particular has benefited from this scrutiny, not only  in illuminating people like Fletcher Hanks but in showcasing work by folks like Jack Cole and Bill Everett.

One of the people leading the way in this specific endeavor is editor Greg Sadowski, who, in anthologies like Supermen! and Four Color Fear, has given average readers access to comics from well-covered eras (i.e. the early superhero and horror trends) merely by republishing stories that didn’t come from Marvel (or whatever it was called at the time), EC or DC.

Sadowski’s latest book, Action! Mystery! Thrills! has a somewhat even narrower focus, dealing entirely with comic book covers from the Golden era. It makes a certain amount of sense. While covers are still an integral part of marketing and selling a comic, they were even more essential back in those early, heady days, when you competed with hundreds of other titles and an eye-catching cover could mean the difference between profit and cancellation (or at least that’s what many editors and publishers of the time felt).

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TwoMorrows offers readers print and digital options

The Quality Companion is a great book for lovers of comics history. It starts out with nine comics featuring heroes such as The Ray, Phantom Lady and The Human Bomb, with art by Jack Cole, Lou Fine and other comics luminaries, and then there is a detailed account of the history of the company. You may not have heard of Quality Comics (I hadn’t), but it was one of the early comics publishers and the original home of Jack Cole’s Plastic Man. Many of Quality’s characters were eventually absorbed by DC. The book is well-written and detailed, and the comics in the front are at once cheesy and fascinating.

TwoMorrows makes the book, and most of its other titles, available in two formats, a hardcover print book and a digital version. The digital book is a PDF, which means it can be downloaded and read on any device, without any concern about the distributor disappearing and taking it with them. That also means it could be easily pirated, and there’s a note in the front of the book telling people that if they downloaded it for free, they did so illegally. “Go ahead and read this digital issue, and see what you think,” the note continues. “If you enjoy it enough to keep it, please do the right thing and go to our site and purchase a legal download of this issue …” This makes so much sense that I don’t know why everyone else doesn’t do it.

It seems as if TwoMorrows has found a digital/print balance that works, at least for this type of book. The print edition is priced at $31.95 (marked down to $27.16 at the moment), and if you spring for it, you get the digital edition free. That’s quite a reasonable price for a book like this. Even better, the digital edition is priced at only $10.95. The print edition will obviously appeal to collector, but for someone like me, who wants to read the book and have it as a reference, the digital edition is a great deal, especially with no DRM.

Food or Comics? | Everybody wants a piece of the Action

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Graeme McMillan

It’s a slow week, this week; if I had $15, I’d use it to catch up on some recent enjoyments like Action Comics #3 (DC, $3.99) and OMAC #3 (DC, $2.99), two of my favorite titles from the New 52 relaunch–OMAC in particular has been a really weird and wonderful joy–as well as the final issue of Marvel’s great and sadly underrated Mystic revival (#4, $2.99). I’d also see if the parody-tastic Shame Itself #1 (Marvel, $3.99) lives up to its potential, because “Wyatt Cenac + Colleen Coover” sounds pretty promising to these ears.

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Comics A.M. | Stan Lee to receive visual-effects award

Stan Lee

Awards | The Visual Effects Society has named Stan Lee as the recipient of the VES 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award, which honors individuals whose “lifetime body of work has made a significant and lasting contribution to the art and/or science of the visual effects industry by way of artistry, invention and/or groundbreaking work.” Previous recipients include George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Ray Harryhausen and James Cameron. The award will be presented Feb. 7 at the 10th annual VES Awards. [press release]

Organizations | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund reports it raised $12,500 last weekend at New York Comic Con. [CBLDF]

Awards | Comic-Con International has opened nominations for the The Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, which awarded to “an individual retailer who has done an outstanding job of supporting the comics art medium both in the community and within the industry at large.” [CCI]

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Your Wednesday Sequence 26 | Will Eisner

New York: The Big City (1981), page 6.  Will Eisner.

Will Eisner’s transition from superhero comics production lineman to game-changing action comics auteur to early master of the graphic novel is really something of a stunning career path when you think about it.  It happened over such a long period of time that it isn’t seen as the kind of bold, unexpected move David Mazzucchelli’s sudden dismissal of Marvel heroes for one-color art comix is; but past Mazzucchelli there isn’t really anyone else who’s had a career in comics that traced so many disparate paths.  Imagine, for context, Bryan Hitch cranking out Blaise Larmee-esque underground webcomics 10 years from now, or Jim Lee announcing his intent to take the reins as the new artist of Prison Pit.

What’s really stunning about Eisner’s many transitions as a comic book maker, however, (and let’s not forget his extended sojourns as a professor of comics and an artist of sequential-art instruction manuals for no less an institution than the United States Army while we’re at it) is that he never really reinvented the wheel, instead following a remarkably smooth and consistent progression from project to project, gig to disparate gig.  The Mazzucchelli comparison is useful here as well: While even the smallest traces of the superhero artist who drew Frank Miller’s “Born Again” are barely visible in the work of the graphic novelist who gave the world Asterios Polyp, this page from Eisner’s early-’80s graphic novel prime is immediately, firmly recognizable as the product of the same hand that created The Spirit more than 40 years prior.  More impressive still is the way Eisner uses the same bag of tricks he assembled in his decade as the auteur of a weekly (weekly!) superhero comic book on this little slice of understated, observational “serious” comics.

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Robot Reviews | Willie & Joe Back Home and Will Eisner’s PS Magazine

Willie & Joe: Back Home

Willie & Joe: Back Home
by Bill Mauldin
Fantagraphics, 288 pages, $29.99

PS Magazine: The Best of Preventive Maintenance Monthly
by Will Eisner; Selected and with an overview by Eddie Campbell
Abrams, 272 pages, $21.95

There can arguably be no finer example of how to completely sabotage a successful career than what cartoonist Bill Mauldin did upon returning back to the United States at the close of World War II. The youngest person (he was 23) to win the Pulitzer Prize at that time, his gag cartoons, featuring dirty, worn-down, battle-hardened, embittered soldiers (most notably the pair known as Willie & Joe), which ran in Stars and Stripes and later in national newspapers, allowed soldiers to vicariously let off steam — someone out there knew what they were going through — and gave the citizens back home a look at the war that few media outlets at the time provided.

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SDCC ’11 | IDW to publish Artist’s Edition of Eisner’s The Spirit

IDW Publishing announced yet another Artist’s Edition today at Comic-Con International in San Diego: A collection of Will Eisner’s The Spirit, to be released in 2012. The 144-page book will be shot from the original art, and the black-and-white strips will be photographed and reproduced in color in order to catch every nuance and correction — as you can see from the cover image. The book will also be in the large “Golden Age” format, which is bigger than the other Artist’s Editions.

Editor Scott Dunbier says this edition will focus on Eisner’s work from just after his return from World War II, because his work showed a new maturity in that period. “When he came back to the strip in 1946, he became, I think, one of the foremost comic artists ever,” Dunbier told CBR. “His storytelling reached such heights, he really produced a nearly unparalleled body of work during this period.” Dunbier and Dennis Kitchen, who is the agent for Eisner’s estate, are in the process of selecting the stories for the book.


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