INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
Zander Cannon fans can rejoice, as the first issue of his Oni Press giant-monster series Kaijumax hits shelves on Wednesday. When I first heard about the comic, which is send on an island prison for for kaiju, the phrase “Pacific Rim meets Orange is the New Black” was mentioned. That’s certainly an apt comparison.
Creatively this project marks a major departure for Cannon, as all of his work is completely digital for the first time. The cartoonist shared a peek behind the scenes at a page from the second issue, showing the steps from rough layout to final product:
Oni Press has revealed Bryan Lee O’Malley’s variant cover for the first issue of Kaijumax, the comic by Zander Cannon (Heck) about an island prison for giant monsters.
The acclaimed creator of Scott Pilgrim and Seconds, O’Malley draws some of the island’s inmates in a chibi form so adorable you wished the comic had its own line of collectible plush toys. In front is protagonist Electrogor, whose only desire is to escape and return to his hungry and frightened children. On his right is Hellmoth, the tattooed nod to Mothman, who’s sure to be a favorite.
After sending his hero into the underworld in the acclaimed 2013 graphic novel Heck, for his next project cartoonist Zander Cannon is sticking his characters in a different kind of hell: a maximum-security prison for giant monsters.
Debuting in April from Oni Press, Kaijumax follows Electrogor, a new inmate at the titular island facility in the South Pacific who only wants to get back to his hungry and frightened children. Standing in his way are Ultraman-like guards, led by the fearsome warden Kang, and some of the biggest, baddest monsters of legend and popular culture.
Cannon spoke with ROBOT 6 the inspiration for the ongoing series, grounding the outlandish premise with a surprisingly straight-laced tone, and coming up with kaiju slang.
Jim Woodring’s Fran has been awarded the 2014 Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, presented annually to the best graphic novel, fiction or non-fiction, published in the previous year by a living American or Canadian citizen or resident.
It’s sponsored by Penn State University Libraries and administered by the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress. The honor comes with a $2,500 prize and a two-volume set of Ward’s six novels.
Published by Fantagraphics, Fran was described by the judges as “hypnotic and subliminal while entertaining and compelling”L “Woodring’s work poses a refreshing change from the trend towards wordy graphic memoir, entreating the reader to reckon with a world whose language we cannot capture in our own.”
The judges also recognized Gene Luen Yang for Boxers & Saints (First Second) and Zander Cannon for Heck (Top Shelf Productions).
Retailing | Hastings Entertainment, which operates a chain of 149 stores that sells books, comics, video games and more, has announced a $21.4 million agreement to merge with two companies owned by Joel Weinshanker, president and sole shareholder of Wizkids parent National Entertainment Collectibles Association; Weinshanker already holds 12 percent of Hastings’ outstanding shares.
“NECA is a significant supplier of movie, book and video game merchandise and collectibles to the Hastings superstores, and we’ve had a close and growing business relationship with Mr. Weinshanker over the last decade,” John H. Marmaduke, Hastings’ chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “Mr. Weinshanker, through his affiliation with the estates of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali, and his company’s management of Graceland, is one of the leading drivers of the lifestyle industry, and we believe Hastings’ business will continue to benefit from our relationship with him and NECA.” Marmaduke will retire with a $1.5 million cash payout once the merger is approved. The announcement was followed by press releases from two New York City law firms that say they’re investigating the plan on behalf of Hastings shareholders. [press release]
If you’re shopping for a gift for that special evil family member or friend, I have the deal for you: The latest and greatest self-help book for supervillains goes on sale today in the form of The Supervillain Field Manual: How to Conquer (Super) Friends and Incinerate People by King Oblivion, who had a little help from ghost writer Matt D. Wilson and illustrator Adam Wallenta.
Because I didn’t trust King enough to give him my my email address, I contacted Wilson to see if he was forced to do the book against his will or simply embarked on the marginally evil project of his own free will. Fortunately, Wilson seemed to have enjoyed himself and was more than willing to share insight on the guidebook to becoming an effective supervillain. He wasn’t all about enabling evil, by the way; toward the end of the interview he shares tips on comics he’s currently enjoying.
Tim O’Shea: Let’s go back to your first self-help supervillain book (2012’s The Supervillain Handbook). How did you come to decide there might be a market for evil-comedy instruction books?
Matt D. Wilson: You’re probably giving me a little too much credit there in terms of business sense. It’s not so much that I thought there was a market; I just kind of felt compelled and figured it’d be a fun thing to do. I actually wrote that first book back in 2009 or so, and it took three-plus years to get it published anywhere.
Trinity of Sin: Pandora #1 (written by Ray Fawkes, drawn by Zander Cannon, Daniel Sampere, Vicente Cifuentes and Patrick Zircher) is not a terrible first issue, although it does trade on some pretty horrific images. It’s not a boring issue, although the title character’s emotional arc is essentially an 8,000-year, 20-page slow burn. For a character who so far has been a walking plot point — and who is still advertised mostly as a plot element for the next Big Event — the issue isn’t even that obtuse. Pandora #1 is a fairly well-executed comic book which does a decent job of humanizing its heroine, but which still hasn’t justified its own existence.
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Traditionally, the average superhero character included a strong element of wish-fulfillment. Perhaps it came simply from having powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal folk, or perhaps from the plausibility of training one’s mind and/or body to the limits of human potential. Maybe those powers, or that training, had been personally costly: a parent’s death, a home’s destruction or a tragedy that could have been prevented.
Auctions | The original art for two Peanuts Sunday comics, one of them autographed by Charles Schulz, sold for a combined price of $78,200 at auction on June 6. [artdaily.org]
Creators | Zander Cannon and Kevin Cannon, who are doomed to be forever yoked by the parenthetical phrase “no relation,” reminisce about the days when they were paid for their work in beef, and talk about their digital-first strategy, serializing Zander’s Heck and Kevin’s Crater XV in their monthly digital magazine Double Barrel before releasing them in print. Mark Waid drops in to praise the Cannons for their digital strategy, saying, “If you let the audience access your material over the Web rather than force them to search — often in vain — for a retail outlet, they’ll be your fans for life.” [Minneapolis Star Tribune]
Comics | To mark the 75th anniversary of Superman, and the premiere this week of Warner Bros.’ Man of Steel, Edward Helmore of The Telegraph recounts the long and bitter legal feud between DC Comics and the families of creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster over the rights to to the multibillion-dollar property, a battle from which the publisher has seemingly emerged victorious. [The Telegraph]
Comics | The New York Post’s Reed Tucker has some ideas on how to “fix” comics, starting with cutting the cover price to increase sales. [Parallel Worlds]
Comics | With an exhibit of original art from Charles Schulz’s Peanuts opening in a local gallery last week, a local comic convention in the works, and a thriving comics retail scene all year round, South Florida could just be the next comics hotspot. [WLRN]
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. We’ve each picked the five comics we’re most anticipating in order to create a list of the best new stuff coming out two months from now.
As usual, 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.
Crater XV HC (Top Shelf, $19.95): I’ve been following (and loving) the serialization of Kevin Cannon’s follow-up to Far Arden in the digital pages of Double Barrel, but I know that I’ll be picking up this hardcover collection of the further adventures of sea dog Rusty Shanks nonetheless. The Canadian space program deserves no less.
In The Days of the Mob HC (DC Comics, $39.99): To say that Kirby’s 1970s take on the organized-crime world of the 1930s is something I’ve been longing to read since I first discovered its existence would be an understatement, so I’m definitely looking forward to this deluxe reprint, complete with material that wasn’t in the original edition.
Indigo Prime: Anthropocalypse TP (Rebellion/2000AD, $24.99): John Smith’s cosmic authorities are one of comics’ most secret treasures, I think, especially when he’s paired with an artist like Edmund Bagwell, who brings a wonderful Euro-Kirby influence to the stories in this collection. Really looking forward to this one.
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen GN (First Second, $17.99): As a sucker for good autobiographical comics and also good food writing, the idea of Lucy Knisley creating a food-centric memoir — complete with recipes! — is far too good to ignore. I love that publishers like First Second are publishing work like this.
Solo Deluxe Edition HC (DC Comics, $49.99): Even though I own most of these issues from their original appearance, the oversized hardcover format is waaaay too tempting when you consider some of the material this book has up its 500+ page sleeve: Paul Pope covering Kirby! Brendan McCarthy channeling Ditko as only he could! The amazing Darwyn Cooke issue! The only thing that could make this better would be if it included work completed on follow-up issues before the plug had been pulled … But maybe that can appear in a second volume, one day…
You might not have a Kobo e-reader, but if you’re reading Robot 6, you probably do have some sort of tablet, iOS or Android, or maybe a smartphone, yes? Well, here’s some good news: Kobo is having a half-price sale on graphic novels, and you can get its iOS and Android apps for free. So if you have been holding off on something, and you don’t mind having it in a different app than everything else, this is your lucky day.
Of course, much depends on what you like to read. There are no Marvel or DC Comics to be found, but if you’re a Walking Dead, Star Wars, Doctor Who or Buffy fan, Kobo has you covered. Lots of good indy stuff, too: Adam Warren’s Empowered, Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan’s Channel Zero, and the superb action comic Kill Shakespeare. The publishers most prominently represented seem to be Dark Horse, Image, IDW, Digital Manga (which publishes mainly yaoi manga but also Vampire Hunter D), Top Cow and Devil’s Due.
Before you pay full price for your second graphic novel, though, you might want to do a little comparison shopping; several of the Dark Horse books I checked were much cheaper on the publisher’s own digital app than in the Kobo store, and the Parker book below is only $7.99 at comiXology. Also, the Kobo store carries both single-issue comics and graphic novels, and it’s a bit pricey for the single issues, most of which seem to go for $4.99; Archie comics seem to be the exception to that.
With those caveats, here are a couple of books that I would recommend:
With Labor Day weekend upon us, now is a good time to stock the virtual longbox with some digital comics. We reported the other day that Image has made 20 of its #1 issues free on comiXology; here’s a roundup of some other free’ n’ cheap digital comics to check out over the holiday.
Centsless Books is a website that rounds up all the free Kindle books on Amazon, and it has a dedicated section for comics and graphic novels. There’s a preview of Batman: Earth One up there, and a lot of first issues of different indy series. Some of the graphic novels aren’t really — at least one book I checked was prose not a graphic novel, and Little Nemo’s Wild Sleigh Ride is a picture book that uses Winsor McCay’s illustrations (which are in the public domain). Well worth checking out, especially if you’re a First Second fan, are the two Between the Panels books, which are promotional pieces put out by Macmillan, with creator essays, character sketches and side stories, all related to different First Second graphic novels. Aside from that, it’s a pretty mixed bag, but one that looks like it will be fun to rummage around in. These Kindle comics will also work on the Kindle iPad and Android apps.
Infinity is a free iPad fanzine from Panel Nine, which has published Eddie Campbell’s Dapper John and David Lloyd’s Kickback as standalone iPad apps. The inaugural issue includes an interview with Lloyd, a preview of Dapper John, a roundup of digital-comics news, a couple of app reviews, art by Simon Russell, and an interview with PJ Holden, the creator of Murderdrome, a short comic that was booted from the iTunes store for being too violent (it’s actually a spoof). It’s a nice collection and well worth the effort of clicking that iTunes button.
Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our special guest this week is Matthew Thurber of 1-800 Mice and Infomaniacs fame. To see what Matthew and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Top Shelf has provided Robot 6 with a preview of Double Barrel #1, the digital-only pulp anthology by Zander Cannon and Kevin Cannon (no relation). The 122-page first issue, which goes on sale today, begins the serialization of two graphic novels: HECK, by Zander Cannon (The Replacement God, Top 10), about a washed-up high school football player who returns to his hometown to attend his father’s funeral, only to discover a portal to the underworld; and Crater XV, Kevin Cannon’s follow-up to Far Arden, featuring a new adventure of crusty sea-dog Army Shanks.
As if that weren’t enough, the $1.99 price tag — that’s tough to pass up! — also includes extras like this introductory comic, which you can read below. Double Barrel #1 is available for download today via Comixology, Apple iBooks, Comics+ by iVerse and the Top Shelf app.
Conventions | The New York Post previews this week’s New York Comic Con in a pair of articles, the second of which focuses on announcements from Marvel and DC. Marvel’s “Cup O’ Joe” panel will reveal how Fear Itself, Avengers: The Children’s Crusade and X-Men: Schism tie together, while DC plans to reveal “the surprising origin of a longtime member of the Justice League” and more creators who will work on their New 52 books, in addition to Andy Kubert. Update: Presumably the Justice League member with the surprising origin is Wonder Woman. [New York Post article #1, article #2]
Comics | Not surprisingly, DC saw double-digit increases in September compared to the year before, but the overall market was down a touch as graphic novel sales, lacking this year’s equivalent of Scott Pilgrim, were down. [The Comichron]
Business | Disney CEO Robert Iger, who oversaw the company’s purchase of both Marvel Entertainment and Pixar, will step down as CEO in March 2015. [Bloomberg]