The Roboblog Chronicles: Episodes 18 & 19

A twofer: last week's episode, recorded on early Saturday morning but not edited and posted until now, and this week's, recorded Sunday night. My two-year blogiversary, an old comic book series proposal, a startling eBay auction, internet drama, something missing from my cell phone, and pages of ROBOTECH comic book art are all discussed in the roughly twenty minutes of footage below. Enjoy!

Also of note:

  • The Masters has an enlightening interview with Robotech The Movie comic book writer Benny R. Powell here at the Robotech Companion website, not only concerning the creation of that strange little two-issue series, but his entire career in the comic book biz.

  • Did you know that Roboblog pal Roger Harkavy must henceforth be addressed as the Duke of Kichijoji? Well, now you do. Don't forget!

  • I am not linking to the drama.

    I am not linking to the drama.



    But The Masters did, so if you want to know more about what happened, follow the link trail. Discussing it in the comments thread, however, is strongly discouraged.

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    By Blogger Roger, at 24 September, 2007 09:54  

  • An idea after watching the first video: the immediate response you might get when suggesting Robotech comic reprints is that the potential market isn't big enough to justify going back to press with them.

    My response to that would be that there is an alternate solution in the form of services like Cafepress. Items with niche appeal like this are perfect for that type of venue, as Joe Straczynski has discovered with his Babylon 5 script books.

    And then there's the possibility of putting it all on a DVD like Marvel has been doing. Save a tree or two.

    The biggest stumbling blocks are the legal issues, especially with the companies that are now defunct. Who owns the copyright to that material? And would Harmony Gold be open to collecting a license fee for an indefinite number of items? A lot of maybes in there, but also an opportunity blaze a trail and refine the business model.

    By Blogger Roger, at 24 September, 2007 10:20  

  • I would assume that Harmony Gold's rights regarding comic book material are similar to the rights held by such companies as Hasbro and Lucasfilm with Transformers and Star Wars, respectively. IDW reprints Marvel and Dreamwave Transformers material all the time, and likewise Dark Horse has reprinted all the Marvel Star Wars comics and the Star Wars newspaper strip. Recall that WildStorm has already reprinted twenty-four issues of the old Comico Macross Saga book; they've probably got the rights, but after the disasterous sales of Macross Saga Vol. 4, they just came to the blanket conclusion that nobody wants old Robotech material.

    Well, not if it looks like that first volume of The Macross Saga! Geez crimeny, those are some shoddy lookin' old comics! And on top of that, those old things just beat-for-beat adapt the animation you can buy on DVD -- for cheaper, I might add, than the books collecting the comics!

    Honestly, I just can't imagine the market for Sentinels reprints being smaller than the market for all sorts of other comics that are still being reprinted in trade paperback collections that I see littering the Diamond Comic Distributors catalog. And I'm not thinking all pie-in-the-sky at this point -- I see IDW reprinted all kinds of Transformers stuff to coincide with the big movie, and I'm thinking, a few years down the line, when the Robotech movie is being wrapped and scheduled and such, whoever has the license at that point (probably WildStorm, assuming Tommy's still overseeing the franchise at HG) should probably do the same. And based on current demand, two items at the top of the list should probably be Sentinels and Prelude (though a collection with some of the better Antarctic Macross era stuff probably wouldn't be a half-bad idea, either -- Vermilion and Covert Ops, perhaps?).

    By Blogger Captain JLS, at 24 September, 2007 11:56  

  • I wouldn't mind seeing some "Sentinels" reprints. Even though there are enough things in the McKinney "Sentinels" to drive me batty, I'd still love a chance to read the comic adaptations of, and elaborations on, those stories. The one Sentinels issue I own wasn't that bad of a read, so I'd definitely be game for another go.

    A PTTSC TPB should have been released to coincide with the DVD. It would have given some much-needed publicity to the film's release and allowed those of us who don't regularly haunt comic stores to get the story in one fell swoop. Yet, we get nothing.

    I honestly wonder whether there is interest for Robotech comics beyond the fandom. Transformers has that mass-market, 1980's nostalgia to it, which means non-fanboys are more likely to take a look at comic reprints. Of course, reprints are a tricky business. G.I. JOE had, arguably, a larger impact than Transformers, and the TPBs stopped at less than half the run (sigh). With Robotech being a niche market at best, I wonder whether the support would be there for a reprint series?

    By Blogger JHC, at 24 September, 2007 16:09  

  • meh, if you absolutely posatively MUST blow up stuff from the safety of your best bud's back seat, I would recomend the Macross Saga game for Gameboy Advance SP. It should scratch that itch for the interim, though I admit squashing Zentreidi isn't quite as satisfying as squashing Invid.

    By Blogger Treiz, at 24 September, 2007 21:39  

  • I agree about the comics. It would keep Robotech alive and give us new adventure to explore while we wait for Shadow Risin. But it isn't just that we need comics. ANYTHING would be nice. Come on Harmony Gold, throw us a bone! What is HG doing right now? Here is what I have heard from the last few conventions (as filtered by me):

    New comics?: Blah, blah,blah, probably renew the license, blah, blah, blah, first company that didn't go out of business while publishing Robotech, blah, blah, blah.

    Role Playing Game?: Yes. When? Blah, blah, blah....later.

    Video game?: CELL PHONE GAME!!!!!! For me? I have Sprint? Blah, blah, blah. For Next Gen consoles? Blah, blah, blah.....maybe, but not soon.

    Radio Drama?: Too expensive.

    Reprints of old comics?: (crickets chirping)....

    Novels?: REPRINTS! New novels? Blah, blah, blah....maybe.....someday... James Luceno is now a New York Times Best Selling author.....

    Toys?: Masterpiece (expensive and breakable) toys. BETA FIGHTER! Ok, I'm excited about that one. No 'blah, blah, blah' here. HG delivered. But still, we could use some cheaper, toys. And enemy mecha. And SOUTHERN CROSS MECHA!

    Ok, I just have to say that I miss the days of having my one or two or three Robotech comics a month. Good or bad, they gave me a story in the Robotech universe that I could hold onto until......hell, we didn't even believe there would EVER be new Robotech animation back then.

    So please, give us new comics!

    By Blogger Admiral DMC McKeever, at 25 September, 2007 00:59  

  • DMC McKeever: Yes, you've hit the nail on the head, Admiral. You want something Robotech? Tommy has a workable excuse for why you won't get it -- something you listen to and nod and go, "Well, that certainly makes SENSE." We'll see if the new year brings any goodies from WildStorm, but I won't hold my breath. I keep hearing whispers on that front, but it all turns out to be merely the wind. Bleh.

    Treiz: Played it, beat it a couple times. Kinda fun, but I've shot down Battlepods, like, ten different ways at this point. It's started to lose its novelty.

    By Blogger Captain JLS, at 25 September, 2007 06:25  

  • What would cost more? Making a standard American five issue comic book, or a set of manga?

    Would Robotech benefit if it were done manga-style - and I don't mean the 'bad' Western-style Waltrip style...

    Because I look at my local high-end bookstore, and it would be really something to see a bonafide Robotech manga stacked alongside Full Metal Alchemist or Gacha Gacha or something.

    Fancy bookstore like that never really carry the paper-thin comic format Robotech has done for a while...

    By Blogger StudioMMG, at 25 September, 2007 07:54  

  • Yeah, nobody but the direct market -- the locally-owned comic book stores that tend to specialize in superhero comics -- tends to carry the Robotech comics. I remember seeing "From the Stars" in the local Books-A-Million, and eventually it disappeared, but then there was that time someone STOLE most of the store's graphic novel stock ...

    It rather depends on your definition of "bonafide" manga. I mean, you can copy the B&W digest format and stick it in WildStorm/DC's "CMX" manga line -- hey, they publish the print edition of the manga-flavored but American written & drawn webcomic Megatokyo, so it's not without precedent -- but you're probably still using an American writer and artist, whether it still be the Waltrips or someone who's using an even more anime & manga-influenced, more modern style. And hey, I'm all for that, but I'm not sure how the economics of that would work. Do I think it'd sell better than the more American comic book format Robotech comics? I actually think it would just because of the additional visibility that sending it into the bookstore market, and onto the manga shelf, would garner. Rack it next to that Star Trek "manga" (also Japanese style/American creators) that TokyoPop does. It'd have to be better than that dumb/crazy stuff, right? ^_- (And it's more likely to advance the overall storyline and matter in the grand scheme of things.)

    By Blogger Captain JLS, at 25 September, 2007 11:22  

  • I think the reason why I am in total agreement that despite what people say about comics, they are the best avenue the franchise should go to. I guess I just read too much of Scott McCloud's Reinventing to simply toss the whole 'format' to the side. (Where that book touched on webcomics too, and i don't know why Megatokyo is so popular) Should the pathetic sales figure of the last Robotech comic destroy all possibilities of any new line?

    In reference to finding From the Stars... Same here - although I did see some stocks of "From the Stars" selling in my local high-end/niche place called 'a different bookstore'. And only because I ordered it online (this was around 2004), the bookstore guy apparently ordered two more copies thinking it might actually sell. I don't think it did... I could be mistaken. It just disappeared so God only knows what happened to that.

    I'm still reconciling myself with what you said about this:

    Oh dear... Anime readers are a fickle bunch, you think Udon Studios would care to make 200-page B&W manga?

    By Blogger StudioMMG, at 25 September, 2007 17:46  

  • Regarding the Star Trek manga ... seriously, have you seen this stuff? It's BONKERS!

    As for Udon ... they can't be bothered to put out their Street Fighter comics in a timely fashion, and they love their Street Fighter.

    You know what? I want Wes Abbott back. He's doing a "manga" series at TokyoPop right now, and the dude hasn't missed a beat since his Robotech days. (His current work, Dogby Walks Alone, can be found at Amazon here, and the new volume coming out in January here.) Here's an example of his Return to Macross heyday back in the mid-1990's:

    And his interiors had a VERY "manga" feel -- and this is coming from a guy who's read enough Fullmetal Alchemist, Death Note, Maison Ikkoku, X/1999, Tsubasa, Fushigi Yugi, Blade of the Immortal, Berserk, Gunsmith Cats, Galaxy Express 999, etc. to know what real Japanese manga looks like, y'know? His work on RtM really had a feeling of authenticity about it. Bring him back to the fold, and he could get the job done. And me, I'd freakin' eat that up.

    But will they go for it? I doubt it. I've said a lot of this crap to Tommy in person, and I know he's said to ME that he's tried to get Robotech shuffled into CMX ... I wonder, y'know? I always wonder with that guy ...

    By Blogger Captain JLS, at 25 September, 2007 23:17  

  • Manga emphasizes fluid action and motion. This Trekkie manga feel about as stiff and disjointed as (insert joke) And I see... so Udon has a history for delaying their comics, eh?

    Unfortunately, I haven't had the chance of reading any of Robotech's (if at all) comics besides the Comic stuff and some of the Sentinels material. What I'm wondering is why do you... or well, most fans, want these former artists or writers who worked on the franchise to be brought back to work on the new stuff? Maybe bringing in new blood would help revitalized (or destroy) the series, would it? BTW, The amount of manga you've read (and spent) on scares me... Oh right, I spend a crapload of money on other junk as well.

    This all makes me wonder about the future of the franchise. Would fans have to continue to speculate about their favorite robotech events (not relating to Shadows) in the boards, or would we actually see real honest to goodness comics, or whatever?

    By Blogger StudioMMG, at 26 September, 2007 08:44  

  • I meant 'comico' by the way... they were decent, but begs the question "Why?"

    By Blogger StudioMMG, at 26 September, 2007 08:47  

  • Well, for me personally, there are a number of factors in play that lead me to want the old blood back in the game:

    A) The new work would (presumably) have a higher visibility factor than the old, especially when we're talking about someone like Abbott, who was doing his Robotech work at little rinky-dink Academy with their 2,000-some copy print runs. I'd like to see some of these folks really get a chance in the sun. Think about it: as bad as Prelude did, it probably had the highest print runs of the Waltrip brothers' entire careers ...

    B) And of course, there's the "known quantity" factor. I know this person can do an awesome job, and they're still putting work out, and enjoyed their time working on Robotech in the past, so ... why not? It's like how at IDW, on the Transformers comics, they've got Simon Furman writing the main book. Dude's been writing Transformers comics since the mid-1980's. He knows to do with the Transformers. He knows these characters inside and out, and I know this, and if I see his name on a Transformers book, I know I'll probably like it. Sure, some fresh blood might do something new and interesting with the property, but the fans eat it up, the sales are good, and the stories are solid and entertaining, so why bring in some new guy who might upset the apple cart, some guy whose work the fans (like myself) might not like? When you're doing a whole line, you can take those kinds of risks -- IDW does this with different mini-series and one-shots, testing out new writers and artists. But on the main ongoing book, they play it a little more safe. When you've only got the one book going on, you've gotta make sure it's a book people are gonna want to read, for sure.

    C) And finally, I think DC/WildStorm would be more likely to hire a known quantity. Guy's been published before, has some experience under his belt, has some books on the shelves -- may not be a name creator, but when you've got some credits under your belt, they can go, "Okay, this guy's a pro, he can hit deadlines, he can turn in quality work, and we've got some titles we can attach to him on the solicitation text/press release, so that's good." And I think it always looks good to bring a creator back to a property -- it creates some buzz, even if nobody really knows who the person is. "Oh, this guy did this title before, so I might check it out and see what the buzz is all about." I remember seeing that sort of thinking surrounding the early issues of Prelude -- reviewers were saying, "Oh, I hear these Waltrips are supposed to know what they're doing here ..." before the reviewers dismissed the whole thing as utterly impenetrable fan-driven nonsense. (See, here's another reason we need those Sentinels reprints ... ^_-)

    Does that all make sense to you?

    By Blogger Captain JLS, at 26 September, 2007 12:18  

  • You know what they need to do? They need to work with Carl Macek! I remember reading in an interview that he was going to write a Robotech mini-series for Academy (I believe), but they lost their license before it happened. If he was going to do it then, why not now? I'm sure he still has the ideas in his head. And unless it contradicts The Shadow Chronicles (or is a Robotech 3000 story), I can't see why HG wouldn't want Carl's story told. And I'm sure they still have a good relationship since Carl was sitting with the usual suspects from HG back in February when they showed Shadow Chronicles on the big screen in Los Angeles. I'd love to see Carl's story illustrated by the Waltrips. Sure, I had complaints about some of their art, but the years of Sentinels comics are what kept Robotech alive in me for most of the 90s. And now that I think about it, the complaint I had about the Waltrips was that the women all had abnormally large boobs. Um, I think Shadow Chronicles makes me long for the days of the Waltrips when the breasts were mearly abnormally large, as opposed to freakishly large.

    By Blogger Admiral DMC McKeever, at 26 September, 2007 17:42  

  • It does makes sense, and the idea did cross my mind after I posted my messaeg. I actually didn't mean to get a complete newb artist to Robotech, just someone different and fresh (with a fair understanding of Robotech). But I think the logic would be that Robotech doesn't have a large 'new pool of NEW fans', since most of the community was still surrounded by old coots (doh!) of the 90's - who are... quite demanding when it comes to continuity.

    But maybe 'new blood' can inject new life into the franchise with new ideas and more profound understandings on old Robotech concepts like Protoculture or the Masters or something. Rather than rehashing the same ideas over and over... (I do remember Rolling Thunder's plot where the Master guy artificially revived Dana's dormant Zentraedi gene to make her an obedient slave) But yeah, this sort of thing is more for one-shot type deals.

    Just a thought, but if original Sentinels received such a low (i.e. laughable) readership compared to today's standards (minus the whole 'declining' comic market scenario) why did Harmony Gold decide to market the Prelude comics as a companion to its first animation of Robotech in over 20 years?

    The boys at HG touted they've got the Waltrips to finish the Sentinels tale and stuff - which is great. But in the end, nobody got the story except for those willing enough to read your analysis! And now some people blame Prelude for being the cause of the sudden disinterest in HG in actually making Robotech comics at large. Which I think is a damn shame.

    I know 'continuity' is more or less a sacred thing for HG now (despite taking artistic liberties to various character motivations in TSC), but why is there a pervading mentality that they cannot release the old Sentinels or other more memorable comic works? Is it due to fear that fans would be confused of the timelines? Is it lack of interest? What if they repackaged it with new covers like what Marvel or DC has done for their works? (so they can also be carried in the big book retailers)

    By Blogger StudioMMG, at 26 September, 2007 17:46  

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