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What Are You Reading?

Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe

Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe

Well bust my buttons, if it isn’t time for another round of What Are You Reading, where we talk about all the comics, books and other reading matter we’re currently engrossed in. Our guest this week is High Moon co-creator and writer David Gallaher, who’s been blogging with us at Robot 6 all this past week.

David has quite a list of titles to pour over, so let’s get to it. Click on the link below to get started.

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Guest blogger: David Gallaher

High Moon

High Moon

I’m pleased to welcome comics writer David Gallaher to Robot 6. David will be blogging about his various projects, webcomics and other fun stuff with us for the next week.

David’s the writer of High Moon, the first winner of Zuda’s monthly webcomics competition. A print collection of the strip comes out this Wednesday. He and his High Moon collaborator, artist and new father Steve Ellis, are also doing a Winter Guard one-shot for Marvel in December. They’re also doing a straight-to-the-iPhone comic called Box 13 for comiXology.

Watch for David’s first post tomorrow.

Talking Comics with Tim: Molly Crabapple

Scarlett Takes Manhattan

Scarlett Takes Manhattan

Molly Crabapple is a successful entrepreneur (as the founder of the Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School) and storyteller. After a recent book tour to support her new Fugu Press book, Scarlett Takes Manhattan, she indulged me in a quick email interview. Her graphic novel is described (on the book’s back cover) as “A young woman orphaned in tragic circumstances (by a pair of copulating circus elephants) rises to become the foremost burlesque performer of her era: Scarlett O’Herring.”

Tim O’Shea: How did the book land at Fugu Press?

Molly Crabapple: Years ago, I did a catalog cover for a company owned by Christophe (big cheese at Fugu). When he decided to found a comics publishing company, he asked if I had any ideas for graphic novels. The rest, history…

O’Shea: You clearly love to explore the art of sexuality through your work. In those terms, what was the most enjoyable or challenging scene to convey in Scarlett Takes Manhattan?

Crabapple: I actually loved the scene where Scarlett is working as a dock prostitute and is able to avoid an unpleasant client with the help of a watermelon. Sadly, a watermelon was worth more than a blowjob in 1884.

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San Diego Aftermath: Johnny Zito and Tony Trov

Tony and Johnny

Tony and Johnny

Last month I spoke with Johnny Zito and Tony Trov, writers of the Zuda strip Black Cherry Bombshells, before they embarked on a road trip from Philadelphia to the San Diego Comic-Con. They made it to the con, and back home, safely, so I spoke with them again to see what they saw and what they learned on America’s highways. I’ve also included some of their video travel journals they made along the way.

JK: Let’s start with the first leg of the road trip. What were some of the highlights, in terms of places you stop and stuff you saw along the way?

Tony Trov: We took a leisurely 15 day trip and tried to take in as many cities we could.

Johnny Zito: Somewhere around Ohio our GPS went dead, and we were navigating into Chicago via stars and magnets.

Tony Trov: Things went pretty smoothly after that. We bed down in Colorado the next night. Boulder’s great because the altitude makes every beer count twice.

Johnny Zito: Ended up in Vegas after that. Killed a buffet, doubled our money and checked out some Black Cherry Bombshells’ landmarks.

Tony Trov: It was a mad dash to LA where we couch surfed and bbq-ed.

Johnny Zito: We overestimated the distance to San Diego, bolted from LA super early and got to Comic Con on Thursday with time to spare.

Tony Trov: It was a pretty smooth journey. Kept waiting for that disaster to strike but it never did. Instead we were treated to an endless string of highway diners and open roads.

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SDCC ’09 | A few more last-minute pre-con notes

Re-Evolution

Re-Evolution

Creators | Re-Evolution creator Gus Higuera dropped us a note and some artwork about being at the con and the warp-up of season one of Re-Evolution at Zuda:

“It’s hard to believe a year has already passed since we competed in last year’s Zuda Invitational. We would like to thank Zuda and all our supporters for giving us this once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a part of DC Comics and letting us tell our story. For those of you visiting San Diego Comic Con, stop by and say hello to me and Re-Evolution’s artist Juan Felipe Salcedo at the Zuda section of the DC Comics booth Thurs. – Sat. from 11:00AM-11:30AM and all weekend in booth #5335 in the Indy Press section. We have tons of free stuff for our fans in celebration of the end of our first Season. We would also like to invite all our supporters to send Zuda feedback to bring us back for a Season 2. http://www.zudacomics.com/feedback. Don’t forgot to also follow us via Twitter during Zuda’s virtual con under the #zudacon tag. Thanks once again and see you in San Diego. Viva La Re-Evolution!” –Gus Higuera

Fandom | If you can’t go to the con this year, you can live vicariously through Mighty Mugg Spidey. (Via)

Creators | Steve Epting, Michael Ryan and Christina Strain will be at The Palm Restaurant at 615 J Street in San Diego tomorrow at noon to add some artwork to an ongoing Marvel character mural at the restaurant.

Manga | What’s Tokyopop up to at the show? Glad you asked.

Manga | Viz is there, too.

Creators | Stan Sakai has “under construction” pictures from the showroom floor on Tuesday.

SDCC ’09 | CBLDF, creator updates and more

All the Fun

All the Fun

A few more updates on con activities, including the CBLDF, Tripwire Magazine, creator plans and more. I have more coming as well …

Creators | Artist Ryan Kelly shares his schedule and the cover to All the Fun, his art book he’ll be selling at the show.

Organizations | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has updated their website with a lot of info on their activities at the con this year, including some offsite events with Amanda Palmer, an art auction and their “Master Sessions” panels. They’ll also host a welcome party on Thursday night, which is co-sponsored by Comic Book Resources, so be sure to stop by if you get a chance.

Free T-shirts | Capcom will be giving away this reversible zombie T-shirt at their booth this year, if you try out a co-op level of the new Resident Evil game.

Games | The SDCC folks have posted information on their games schedule, which includes Magic:The Gathering, Pokemon and a Tekken tournament.

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Zudist Colony: Talking to this month’s Zuda competitors

Zuda

Zuda

Today we kick off a bit of an experiment that hopefully will end up becoming a regular monthly feature. It’s called Zudist Colony (thanks to Jeff Mccomsey for the name), and the idea is to interview all the contestants in Zuda’s monthly competition.

Zuda, of course, is DC’s webcomics site, where every month ten comic strips go head-to-head, and the one that gets the most votes goes on to be a regular strip on the site. The site started hosting these competitions in late 2007. Every so often we’ll receive a request from one of the competitors, asking us to interview them, run some artwork, etc. to help them promote their entry — which I certainly don’t begrudge anyone for doing, as getting the word out about your strip is a big piece of the puzzle when it comes to the competition. And it may sound cheesy, but I’ve always felt that it wasn’t fair to showcase one strip over another, that if I interviewed one of the competitors, I really needed to interview all of them. So I turned down the requests.

But I started thinking about it — why can’t I interview all of them? So I dropped a couple of emails, and soon had the email addresses for all the competitors. I should note that I sent the same five questions to all the contestants, and told them that their entire team — writer, artist, etc. — could answer them.

Anyway, that might be a little too “insider baseball” for everyone, so if you’d like to get on with reading their responses, just click on the “Continue Reading” link and have at it …

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(Literal) Road to San Diego: Johnny Zito and Tony Trov

comiccon_roadtrip-1Black Cherry Bombshells writers Johnny Zito and Tony Trov are taking the long way to San Diego this year — the pair is driving all the way from Pennsylvania to California for the con, stopping along the way to take in America.

Between making mix tapes and mapping out their route, the duo answered a few questions about their trip and what they have planned for the con. This is the second of hopefully four interviews I’m doing to see what folks have planned for the con; check out my interview with Neil Kleid from earlier this week.

JK: So, a cross-country road trip from Philadelphia to San Diego. How long is it going to take you to get there?

Johnny: We’re taking five days; a leisurely drive across this great nation to investigate the American Dream. We’ll video blog each day of the journey at BlackCherryBombshells.blogspot.com July 18-29. It’s going to be like Lewis and Clarke meets Fear and Loathing.

Tony: The video segments will feature giant balls of yarn, engine-grilled hot dogs and NSFW truck stop shenanigans. Everyone can follow our bold adventure via Twitter (Zito & Trov), MySpace and Facebook.

JK: Where do you plan to stop along the way? Do you have any roadside attractions mapped out, or will you be playing it by ear?

Tony: We have planned stops in Chicago, Vegas, L.A. and Graceland. This is Zito’s first trip across the lower 48, but I’ve done it a few times. There are a few blank spots in my state spoon collection that I aims to fill in along the way.

Johnny: If there’s time we’re talking about hitting the moon crater and the Creationist Museum.

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Slash Print | Following the digital evolution

The Crooked Man

The Crooked Man

Webcomics | Corinna Bechko, one of the co-creators of The Crooked Man, says that she and artist Gabriel Hardman are working to turn their Zuda submission into a graphic novel. They placed fifth in the July 2008 Zuda competition. (Thanks David!)

Webcomics | Warren Pleece’s Montague Terrace has started running on the ACTIVATE website. You can also find all the pages at his blog. In other ACTIVATE news, the site also now includes a column by Tim Hall.

Twitter | T Campbell is twittering his thoughts on Crisis on Infinite Earths as he rereads the decades-old crossover series. “Praise, critique, and lots of snark ahead.” [Via The Beat]

e-Devices | The full audio of the South by Southwest interactive panel “Comics on Handhelds: Taking Webcomics Mobile” is now online. The panel features Dan Goldman, Rich Stevens, Douglas Edwards, Molly Crabapple, Dave Bort and Rantz Hoseley “in a let’s-sketch-out-solutions talk for transitioning webcomics to a variety of new petri dishes,” Goldman said.

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Slash Print | Following the digital evolution

Kindle DX

Kindle DX

e-Devices | Amazon.com this week announced a larger version of their Kindle device, called the Kindle DX. The e-book reader is two-and-a-half times the size of the current Kindle and will retail for almost $500. The New York Times, Washington Post, and Boston Globe, however, will offer “subsidized on-contract Kindles to customers who can’t get at-home delivery when the DX ships this summer.”

So, the natural question for comic fans — is it big enough to show a comics page? Kelson at the Speed Force blog has the same question: “Unless I’ve got my numbers wrong, that makes it larger than the standard manga page, though not quite as big as the standard American comic book page,” he said about the 9.7 inch screen. “And it’s only 1/3 of an inch thick, comparable to a typical trade paperback.” The BBC has more on the specs.

Social media | Ypulse, a teen marketing blog, wonders if teens would follow Twitter feeds for characters from young adult novels. Apparently teens haven’t embraced Twitter (which surprises me … I figured they’d been using it and dropped it when all the old people showed up, kind of like Facebook), and the post wonders if they’d start using it if, say, the sparkling vampires from Twilight had their own feeds.

“Protagonists, antagonists and supporting characters (the latter might be especially intriguing) would continue to gain depth and dimension in the intermittent period between books and meanwhile, readers would feel more connected to the world that the author created,” writes Meredith, who blogs for the site. “Or, as connected to them as they choose to be depending on whether they simply read the tweets or actually respond to them and engage in dialogue.” She also notes that characters from Mad Men showed up on Twitter last year, which everyone assumed was a marketing ploy for the show, but turned out to be more along the lines of fan fiction.

BOOM! Studios recently launched a Twitter feed for one of their fictional characters, the talking teddy bear who thinks he’s James Bond, Mister Stuffins. Is it a marketing ploy, an extension of the story, or maybe both? And would comic fans follow the Twitter feed for, say, Batman, Luke Cage or Scott Pilgrim, if their tweets were written by Grant Morrison, Brian Michael Bendis or Bryan Lee O’Malley, respectively?

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Guest contributor: Bobby Timony on New England Webcomics Weekend

Eastworks

Eastworks

Editor’s Note: Over the weekend webcomics creators and fans gathered for New England Webcomics Weekend. Bobby Timony, co-creator, writer and artist on the Zuda Comics strip The Night Owls, attended the event and agreed to share his thoughts on his weekend here at Robot 6.

by Bobby Timony

What started as a simple idea to get some webcomics people together for a weekend signing event soon took on the aura of a bona-fide cultural turning point. The word spread and the guest list grew and it started looking more like a webcomics Woodstock.

The new Webstock started with a pub crawl on Friday. The cold Northhampton, Mass. night saw webcomics creators and fans walking around under the orange streetlights from pub to pub drinking beers and toasting webcomics. It felt like Halloween, but instead of costumes, people were dressed up in clever, self-aware ironic T-shirts.

Ah, the T-shirts. It’s a lucky thing that webcomic fans are such fans of T-shirts, since much of the webcomics industry seems to revolve around the sale and design of them. There was even a panel on Saturday devoted exclusively to T-shirt design.

Webcomics Weekend was held at the Eastworks building, which used to be a cleaning supply factory that now housed a small mall and studio space occupied by a variety of artists. Remnants of the building’s history haunt the place like ghosts. The wide aisles are spanned by hardwood floors with long grooves worn into them from decades of being trod upon, and the cafe on the ground floor has two large arches made from metal conveyor belts.

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NYCC | Saturday round-up

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man

With Saturday sold out, and wireless providers taxed to the limit — thank you, Twitter and live-blogging — it’s no surprise that the second day of New York Comic Con was brimming with publishing announcements:

• Marvel rolled out plans for expanded digital content, including an original Spider-Woman motion comic — billed as the publisher’s first “all-new in-continuity” work using motion-comics technology — written by Brian Michael Bendis and directed by Alex Maleev, a motion-comics adaptation of Astonishing X-Men #1-10, and a five-issue online series called Dark Reign: Made Men. (On Friday, Marvel announced the online-exclusive miniseries War of Kings: Warriors.)

• Marvel’s nine-year-old Ultimate imprint will be canceled and relaunched as Ultimate Comics, which will feature four series. The flagship title, renamed Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, will continue to be written by Bendis but will be illustrated by David Lafuente. Artist Stuart Immonen is moving to New Avengers.

Powers, the creator-owned series by Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming, will relaunch with another Issue 1 under the Icon emblem.

• Yen Press has picked up the license to Kiyohiko Azuma’s popular slice-of-life comedy Yotsuba&!, which had withered at ADV Manga.

• Insanely popular webcomic Penny Arcade will move to Del Rey with Penny Arcade, The Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade: The 11.5 Year Anniversary Edition, a 208-page hardcover edition set for release in February 2010. Dark Horse published the first Penny Arcade collection in 2006.

• DC Comics confirmed that writer Greg Rucka and artist J.H. Williams III will take over Detective Comics with Issue 854 for a run that stars, at least initially, Batwoman. Rucka said Williams will be on the title for “12 issues, guaranteed.”

The publisher also revealed the composition of the Bat-Family of titles in the wake of the “Battle for the Cowl” crossover: Detective, Batman, Batman and Robin, Batgirl, Batman: The Streets of Gotham, Red Robin, Outsiders, and Gotham City Sirens.

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NYCC ’09 | Counting down

nycc_no_4_thWith the New York Comic Con coming up in a few short weeks, we’ll be collecting and posting information on the various things you can do and see while at the show. So this will be the first of many. 

If you’re a publisher, creator, retailer or otherwise exhibiting at the show, feel free to drop me an email with your booth schedule, any comics you might be debuting, giveaways or any other information on what you have planned for the show.

General information: Ticket info | Panels | Autographs | 2009 ICv2 Graphic Novel Conference | Blog

• Need some help organizing your show? Heidi at The Beat points out this widget you can use to plan your schedule. Very cool.

The Hero Initiative, the non-profit that provides a financial “safety net” for creators, will have George Perez at the booth (#1762) all weekend long.

They’re also hosting an art auction Saturday from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in room 1A14:

Join Hero Initiative Chairman George Pérez for a GREAT art auction benefiting The Hero Initiative! Over 40 killer pieces are up for auction, including works from Joe Quesada, George Pérez, Darwyn Cooke, Jae Lee, John Romita Sr. and Jr., Steve Rude, Jim Starlin and ALL the Image Comics founders! Not to be missed!

They also plan to host a kickoff party Thursday night in conjunction with Reed Exhibits at Dave and Busters in Time Square, with additional details to be announced.

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Zito and Trov on The Black Cherry Bombshells going analog

Black Cherry Bombshells promo art by Sheldon Vella

Black Cherry Bombshells promo art by Sheldon Vella

Back in March, Zuda’s monthly competition winner was a post-apocalyptic tale of biker chicks in Las Vegas fighting a cross-dressing Elvis. Scorched earth, water tower burned up to the ground, zombies runnin’ all around … it was pure chaos and pure magic (heh). The first season of The Black Cherry Bombshells wrapped up last month, and I caught up with the writers, Johnny Zito and Tony Trov, to find out if we’d seen the last of the Bombshells. (Short answer: We haven’t).

Thanks to Johnny and Tony for taking the time to answer my questions. The artwork up top is by Sheldon Vella, creator of the Zuda strip SuperTron. Other art from the strip is by artist Sacha Borisich and colorist John Dallaire.

JK: Let’s start with the news — I understand that your The Black Cherry Bombshells webcomic is headed from the computer screen to the printed page, correct?

Johnny Zito: Heck yes. The Black Cherry Bombshells are going to print, along with a few other Zuda titles over the next two or three years.

Tony Trov: Bayou and High Moon are up first.  The Black Cherry Bombshells should follow in 2010ish, depending on scheduling.

Johnny: There are a few other titles set to go analog, but those creators can spill their good news themselves.

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