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What Are You Reading? with Aubrey Sitterson and Charles Soule

The Massive #1

Happy Father’s Day and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where each week we talk about what comics and other stuff have been on our reading piles. Today’s guests are two of the contributors to Skullkickers #18, which features several “Tavern Tales” short stories by different creative teams. Joining us today are Charles Soule of 27, Strange Attractors and Strongman fame, and Aubrey Sitterson, winner of the Skullkickers Tavern Tales Contest. He’s also the writer of Gear Monkey for Double Feature Comics and community manager for WWE Games.

To see what Charles, Aubrey and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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Comics A.M. | Justice League #1 sells 360,000 copies in four months

Justice League #1

Publishing | Four months in, the DC Comics relaunch seems to be a success. The most recent sales figures show Justice League #1 selling more than 360,000 copies since August, and Batman #1 and Action Comics #1 selling more than 250,000. By contrast, Marvel’s strongest seller was Ultimate Spider-Man #160, which was in the 160,000-copy neighborhood. These figures seem to reflect sales in the direct market only; it would be interesting to see how many digital copies have been sold. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Awards | Nominations are open for this year’s Eagle Awards. [Eagle Awards]

Retailing | San Francisco retailer Brian Hibbs shares the top-selling graphic novels in his store for 2011, by units and by dollars. [Savage Critics]

Retailing | Christopher Butcher looks back on the events of the past year in the comics store he manages, Toronto’s The Beguiling. [The Beguiling blog]

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Comic Couture | Jill Thompson designs gear for WWE’s Daniel Bryan

Wrestler Bryan Danielson, a.k.a. the American Dragon, a.k.a. Daniel Bryan in the WWE, shares a design for a jersey/T-shirt designed by Beasts of Burden artist and wrestling fan Jill Thompson. It’s a pretty sweet design, and although I’ve already got a couple of shirts designed by Thompson in my closet, they could use a new friend if someone decided to make it.

Preview: Super Pro K.O.! returns for a second fall

Super Pro K.O. Volume 2

The second volume of Jarrett Williams’ awesome wrestling comics, Super Pro K.O.!: Chaos in the Cage, headbutts its way into comic shops today. Courtesy of Oni Press, we’re pleased to present a look at 23 pages from the new volume. Check it out after the jump.

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Captain Mysterio flies high at Wrestlemania

Rey Mysterio

The WWE’s annual Wrestlemania event brings a lot of questions every year. Who will win the title? Will the Undertaker’s streak be broken? Will Mean Gene appear in another inane sketch? But my favorite in recent years has become … what superhero will Rey Mysterio dress as this year?

And he didn’t let me down. In the past, the masked luchador has worn outfits inspired by the Silver Surfer, Daredevil, Spider-Man, Joker, Flash, Iron Man and the movie Avatar. This year he put on the red, white and blue in an outfit that paid tribute to Captain America. Announcer Michael Cole even made reference to the fact that he could have used a shield in his match against Cody Rhodes. (Note: spoilers at the link for Wrestlemania).

And speaking of Rhodes, his recent storyline is very reminiscent of a super villain: “Once chosen as the most handsome Superstar by the Divas, the vain egoist underwent a jarring personality change when Rey Mysterio busted his perfect features with his knee brace while performing the 619. Now hating the disfigured freak he saw in the mirror, the second-generation competitor donned a mask to hide his shame and went on a brutal warpath, destroying opponents and viciously attacking Mysterio on multiple occasions.” You can see more pictures of the duo on the WWE home page.

WWE Heroes returns for second mini in November

WWE Heroes: Timequake - Undertaker

WWE Heroes: Timequake - Undertaker

Titan, holder of the World Wrestling Entertainment comics license, today announced WWE Heroes: Timequake – Undertaker, the follow-up to their first WWE Heroes mini-series.

The new two-issue series, which kicks off in November, features the Undertaker and Rey Mysterio fighting zombies in Mexico. Like the previous miniseries, it’s written by Keith Champagne, who is joined by Tom Nguyen on art.

A short press release and the book’s second cover can be found after the jump.

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SDCC ’10 | Bring your smack talk to the Oni booth to become SDCC Champion

Super Pro K.O. Championship Belt

Super Pro K.O. Championship Belt

Mattel, which has the license to make action figures of World Wrestling Entertainment superstars, will host several WWE superstars at their booth during Comic-Con, including The Miz, Eve, John Morrison, The Bella Twins, Chris Masters, Melina and Kane.

But that still isn’t the coolest wrestling-related thing happening at the show. No, that would be Jarrett Williams‘ no-words-barred contest to be crowned Super Pro K.O. World Champion of Comic Con 2010.

Williams, whose Super Pro K.O. book debuts at the show, will award the above championship belt to whoever can deliver the best pre- or post-match “throw down speech” at the Oni booth on Saturday. “All the excitement will be videoed and posted on the Oni Blog, so even if you’re not at the show you can witness the action,” Oni’s press release reads. “The winner will be announced at the Oni booth on Sunday 7/25 at 10am where Jarrett Williams and special guest judge Bryan Lee O’Malley will award the first Heavyweight Championship Belt of Comic-Con!”

Old school “wrastlin’” costumes and personas are encouraged … where’s my Mr. Wrestling II mask when I need it?

Straight for the art | Jim Rugg draws my childhood

by Jim Rugg

by Jim Rugg

This weekend’s HeroesCon will feature an art auction, and artist Jim Rugg is showing off his submission — featuring everyone from Lobo and Hellboy to the friggin’ Road Warriors — on his blog.

On an unrelated note, why the hell do I not have this convention in my travel plans every year?

Thin wallets, fat bookshelves | A roundup of publishing news and notes

Impossible Incorporated

Impossible Incorporated

Teaser | J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Cavallaro, who worked together on The Life and Times of Savior 28, have a new project called Impossible Incorporated in the works.

Graphic novels | Rick Veitch, Ramona Fradon, Michael Netzer and Terry Beatty are providing art for The Adventures of the Unemployed Man by Gan Golan and Erich Origen (Goodnight Bush). “Here they’ve written a retro romp that interprets the current global financial imbroglio into classic deadpan superhero shtick,” Veitch writes on his blog. “The writing is quite well done and had me laughing out loud when I first read the script.” The book is due out this fall from Little, Brown and Company.

Prose | Robert Kirkman will have a short story in the upcoming zombie-themed Living Dead 2 from Night Shade Books.

History | DC Comics is working with TASCHEN Books on “an ultra-comprehensive, extra large book so impressive, even super heroes may have trouble lifting it,” according to DC’s The Source blog. 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking will feature more than 1,500 images and essays on the company written by former DC Comics Publisher Paul Levitz.

Comic books | Blackline Comics will publish Assassin & Son: Path of Vengeance, a comic written by the WWE’s Shad Gaspard and Mark Copani. Gaspard used to be part of the tag team Cryme Tyme, while Copani wrestled under the name Muhammad Hassan a few years back and was part of quite the controversy on Smackdown.

Adaptations | Pre-order the upcoming Xbox 360 game Singularity from Amazon, and you’ll receive the Singularity graphic novel, which features the work of Tom Mandrake, among others.

Straight for the art | A cover fit for a King

WWE Heroes #1 exclusive Jerry Lawler drawn cover

Titan sent over the cover to a new version of their WWE Heroes comic by wrestling hall-of-famer Jerry Lawler that they’re selling on the WWE website. “The King” of course is the wrestler turned announcer who can be heard every Monay on Raw, as well as an artist in his own right. In 2007, Lawler provided a cover for the comic book Headlocked and he’s also drawn a cover for Dynamite’s Green Hornet comic.

Three Count | Hechinger and Muñoz pit kids vs. bears in Bear Beater Bunyan

Bear Beater Bunyan

Bear Beater Bunyan

You may not have heard of wrestler Bunyan Paulson before — he doesn’t appear on Monday Night Raw, he doesn’t have catchy theme music or fireworks as he walks down the ramp, and he’s never had a confrontation with Vince McMahon. What he does do, however, is wrestle bears — big, bad ass, scary, championship-holding bears.

Bunyon is the star of a webcomic called Yon Kuma, which was created by Josh Hechinger and Jorge F. Muñoz. “The name’s a pun on ‘yonkoma,’ those four-panel Japanese joke strips, and ‘kuma,’ which means bear,” Hechinger said. “Basically, this kid, Bunyan Paulson, spends four 22-page chapters wrestling the Yon Kuma, the four great bears who are the regional champs of human/bear wrestling.”

They finished serializing the 88-page comic on the web at the end of 2009, then changed the name to Bear Beater Bunyan for its release on iTunes and Android by Robot Comics.

I spoke with both Hechinger and Muñoz about the popular webcomic, its move to mobile devices and what comes next for the pair.

JK: How did you guys meet, and where did the idea for the strip come from?

Josh: I posted on Panel and Pixel looking for an artist, and Jorge basically had me audition for him. Somehow, my bear-wrestling comic beat out his other offers.

More than anything, this comic came from me wanting to do something FAST in comics. Garage rock, three-chord-punk fast. It was also me trying to get a handle on what I call my “Yankee shonen” style of comics; i.e. I’m a suburban white boy who grew up reading Dragon Ball Z, and it’s permanently warped the comic-making parts of my brain.

The secret influence on it would be things like the old Fist of the North Star movie, or the Rurouni Kenshin/Samurai X OAVs. Cartoons where they condense arcs and arcs of story down to two hours or a handful of episodes. The way I approached the comic was, “Okay, pretend there was this long-running kid vs. bear series in Japan, and I’m condensing it down to a four episode OAV.”

Like I said, my brain’s a little warped.

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Three Count | Your official Robot 6 Wrestlemania predictions

wwe_wmlogoFor the second fall in our best-of-three contest today, I reached out to several comics pros and bloggers to see what they thought about tomorrow’s big Wrestlemania card. Will the Deadman retire Mr. Wrestlemania? Will Jericho get speared? Will the Straight Edge Society get a new phone number in the 619 area code? And does anyone care about Sheamus? Our panel shared their thoughts, opinions, hopes and dreams for tomorrow’s big pay-per-view event.

Our panelists include:

Steven Grant: Comics writer and wrestling fan Steven Grant’s resume includes the Punisher, Avengers, Whisper, American Flagg!, Badlands and numerous other comics titles since the 1980s. Back around the turn of the century, he wrote comics featuring wrestling legends The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin for Chaos! Comics, and he recently wrapped up his long-running Permanent Damage column on Comic Book Resources.

Vito Delsante: In addition to being manager of Jim Hanley’s Universe in New York, Vito Delsante has also written comics featuring Batman, Wolverine and Scooby Doo, as well as the webcomic FCHS and the upcoming Stray.

Chad Nevett: Chad Nevett regularly writes reviews for Comic Book Resources and talks about comics on Comics Should Be Good, and on his own blog, GraphiContent. He’s also writes about wrestling for 411mania.

Carla and Lance Hoffman: Carla Hoffman shares her joy and frustrations with Marvel every week right here on Robot 6 in her Fifth Color column. Meanwhile Lance, her husband, is biggest Undertaker fan I know.

And of course, myself. Read on to see what we think about tomorrow’s card …

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Three Count | Keith Champagne enters the squared circle with WWE Heroes

WWE Heroes #1

WWE Heroes #1

World Wrestling Entertainment presents Wrestlemania 26, their huge sports entertainment extravaganza, tomorrow in Phoenix (and, of course, on pay per view). With this being a big wrestling weekend, I thought it might be fun to do a trio of posts that show the intersection of wrestling and the world of comics.

To kick things off, I spoke to Keith Champagne, the writer of Titan’s licensed WWE Heroes comic, which hit shops last Wednesday. Along with artist Andy Smith, Champagne is taking the larger-than-life roster of WWE superstars and turning them in comic book heroes. In addition to being available in comic shops, the book is also available directly from the WWE’s website. And you can find a free prequel comic available for the iPhone.

My thanks to Keith for answering my quetsions and to Titan Publishing for setting it up.

JK: When did you first become a wrestling fan, and who were some of your favorite wrestlers back in the day?

Keith: It was a glorious, late-spring day back in May of 81, I remember it well. Killer Khan leaped off the top rope, driving both of his knees into Andre the Giant’s ankle. A giant red ‘X’ flashed across the screen, censoring the Giant’s agony from my young eyes and I was hooked from there.

The day Andre got his revenge against Khan in a stretcher match was the greatest day of my 11 year old life. It might still be.

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A closer look at Oni’s Super Pro K.O.!

Super Pro K.O.!

Super Pro K.O.!

This past weekend at the Emerald City Comicon, Oni Press announced a new graphic novel series that’ll kick off in July called Super Pro K.O.!. Created by Lunar Boy‘s Jarrett Williams, they described it as “Shonen Jump meets high-impact, old school wrastlin’.”

I managed to get my hands on some of the art that Oni shared during their panel, so after the jump you’ll find several pages from the book.

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Wrestler Jerry Lawler to provide cover for upcoming issue of Green Hornet

Green Hornet by Jerry Lawler

Green Hornet by Jerry Lawler

WWE.com reports that Dynamite Entertainment has enlisted wrestler and Monday Night Raw commentator Jerry “The King” Lawler to provide the cover to an upcoming issue of the Kevin Smith-written Green Hornet comic. Which issue he’d provide the cover for wasn’t specified.

“Not only is The Green Hornet one of the most important characters in American pop culture history… not only is this going to be one of the biggest launched comics of the year,” Lawler told WWE.com, “but I am also going to have cover art featured in an upcoming issue of The Green Hornet!”

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard word of Lawler’s involvement with comics. Back in 2006, we learned he was a huge Superman buff on WWE.com, and in 2007, the site had a brief item on a Superman project that Lawler was going to draw that I don’t think we’ve ever heard about since.

He also provided artwork for a WWE-themed children’s book, Mick Foley’s Christmas Chaos, written by fellow wrestler Mick Foley. You can also see some of his artwork from 1970s Memphis Wrestling programs here.

The first issue of Smith’s Green Hornet comic arrives in shops today.


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