Saturday, July 31, 2004

Money matters: In a feature titled "They Pay You To Do What?," Black Enterprise spotlights cartoonist Kyle Baker, who estimates he earned $150,000 in 2003:

"Now living in Woodstock, New York, Baker recently launched his own publishing company, Kyle Baker Publishing. Technology has lowered production costs so much, he says, that it's much easier for artists to publish their own material, distribute it, and retain the rights. 'I reached a point in my career where I realized that if I hadn't sold away the 20 years of work I did, I would own thousands and thousands of cartoons,' he said. 'Now, when I'm old, I'll own thousands of Kyle Baker cartoons.'"

Dress for excess: The Baltimore Sun (registration required) reports on this weekend's 11th annual Otakon:

"Our convention is a lot of people getting together to celebrate a lot of different aspects of a culture they admire. For me, I actually got drawn into [anime] because it's something so different from what a lot of our cultural artistic preferences can provide. ... It's something people haven't had exposure to."

California dreamin': The La Jolla (Calif.) Light talks with Jim Lee, John Nee and Scott Dunbier about the history of locally based WildStorm:

"'I'm really proud of what we do at Wildstorm,' said Dunbier. 'We're really a boutique of D.C. Comics.'

"Nee explained that the purchase of Wildstorm was certainly something of a catch for D.C. Comics, the conglomerate of comic book companies who were themselves acquired by Warner Communications, now AOL Time Warner, in 1976.

"'Wildstorm was making comics that D.C. wasn't,' said Nee. 'They were reaching an audience of readers that D.C. hadn't reached at the time. The big companies really had the branded companies and the smaller companies had the new characters. So, we reached a lot of the teen fans that D.C. comics weren't getting at the time.'"

Review revue: The Washington Times reviews Batman: Hush Vol. 1, Teen Titans: A Kid's Game, Last Train to Deadsville #1-2, and The Pulse #1-3.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Amazon's name game: Publishers Weekly (subscription required) reports that has begun encouraging its customers to use their real names on reviews, replacing a much-criticized system that nurtured flame wars and allowed authors to anonymously praise their own books. The online retailer began the initiative, called "Real Names," late last month:

"'Real' in this case is relative. There's still a loophole for people not quite ready to fully stand by their opinions -- they can choose to use a pen name. Either way, the reviewer must be registered with Amazon with a credit card or through a record of their purchase history. The change should cut down on reviewers posting opinions under multiple names.

"For years it's been widely believed that the anonymity of Amazon's reviews have led to such abuses as authors lauding their own books, or rival authors trashing another writer's work. Those suspicions turned out to be founded last year when Amazon's Canadian site accidentally revealed the real names of some reviewers who'd posted their opinions anonymously -- including several well-known authors."

Weapon X: The End? At Newsarama, writer Frank Tieri makes Marvel an offer it can't refuse. Okay, well maybe it can refuse, but he's making the offer anyway:

"... [W]hat I’m going to do right now is sweeten the deal -- because I believe so strongly in this project and that the Weapon X fans should get their ending, I’m willing to make Marvel this offer … I will do the first issue for free.

"That’s right, Marvel! You give me six issues and you will get the first issue … absolutely free. Act now, act fast — supplies are limited!"

"Mortal" Marvel: Motley Fool turns a skeptical eye to the second-quarter report of one of its stock-market darlings, Marvel Enterprises:

"After a lengthy period of thumping the market and contemporaries, Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick Marvel Enterprises (NYSE: MVL) is starting to look, well, mortal. ... As with its many comic book heroes, Marvel now appears to be entering a period where it will be tested repeatedly, and the company will likely have to squeeze pennies to make investors happy. Yet there's reason to be hopeful. In a post to our Marvel discussion board Fool contributor Rich Smith points out that Marvel's stock may be vastly undervalued on a cash flow basis."

Street cred: Newsarama sits down with Street Angel creators Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca:

"I hated the superhero comics that I saw every week at the comics shop and decided to make a book that would depict how wretched superhero comics are. But after giving this some thought, we realized that if done right, it would be indistinguishable from any bad superhero comic. So instead, we started discussing what we liked -- and especially what we remembered liking but couldn’t find any more -- about superhero comics. The book developed out of that. It went from being a hate filled rant against the genre to being a bit of an over-the-top love letter. The stuff in the book is either there because I hate its opposite or because I like it a lot -- surprising how often these things coincide.

"Jesse is a 13 year-old, homeless, malnourished tomboy, because I hate every T & A book that is a T & A book for no reason relative to the story. Of course, without a story, it’s hard to create story-related artwork I suppose and certainly there’s a fair share of T & A books without a story or any developed characters.

"Another influence on the book is pop culture’s current obsession with reality -- reality tv shows, street authenticity of celebs like Justin Timberlake, and movies like The Matrix. We created a character and setting that is the absolute opposite of our experiences and who we are in life. Oddly enough, some early reviews and emails actually commend us on the authentic street feel of the book."

Wagner's reign: UnderGroundOnline talks with Matt Wagner about the 20th anniversary of Mage, the approaching 25th anniversary of Grendel, and his DC cover work:

"It's fun. I just ended my run doing Green Arrow. I came on when Kevin Smith launched the book; I only intended to stay on until Kevin was done. He finished up with number 15 and Bob Schreck decided to reach outside of comics for the next writer, Brad Meltzer. Brad happened to be coming through town promoting his latest novel, The Millionaires. We went to dinner and he gave me a very impassioned plea that I stay on as the cover artist. He gave me some ideas and I was intrigued to do those so that was six issues. Then I knew Judd Winick was taking over after that. We've been buddies for years so he gave me the puppy dog look like, 'You're not going to do my covers?' So I told him I would do his first storyline, and then I felt like I had my fill of Green Arrow. His personality is interesting, but as a superhero he's basically got one trick and for a designer and painter it's even worse because he's got one color. So I figured I had done all I could with that and I told Schreck that I wouldn't mind doing some more high-profile cover gigs, and he asked me about Batman."

Cartoon Network more profitable than CNN: Via comes word from Variety that Turner Broadcasting's Cartoon Network is actually more profitable than the CNN group, accounting for 17 percent of Turner's revenues -- versus 14 percent for news:

"Turner also revealed some of the reasons for Cartoon Network's profitability, which go beyond the prices advertisers are willing to pay for CN's attractive audience.  They include licensing of its characters through Warner Bros. consumer products division and the equity stakes of 2-4% that CN takes in ancillary revenues of shows it purchases from outside suppliers."

Review revue: Nashville City Paper reviews Pantheon's Writers On Comics: Give Our Regards to the Atomsmashers!

Comic targets alcohol abuse: Australia's Port Pirie Recorder reports the Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council and Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation has produced a comic called Risky Business in an effort to curb alcohol abuse among Aboriginal youth. More than 25,000 copies of the comic have been distributed throughout the country.

War stories: The Japan Times profiles sociologist and activitst Joel Andreas, creator of a 77-page comic called Addicted to War: Why the U.S. Can't Kick Militarism:
"I think (my comic) in some ways presents an inside perspective about the U.S. relationship with foreign wars. It shows how it hurts American people and how their resistance was waged. I think my book gave a more hopeful perspective for the Japanese people to read."

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Alessi digs into his pockets: reports that CrossGen founder Mark Alessi has been granted permission by the bankruptcy court to lend the company $75,000 "as a partial advance against $150,000 in proposed debtor-in-possession financing."

Identity secrets: New York's Forward talks with Brad Meltzer about Identity Crisis:

"'Identity Crisis is about the cost of being a hero. That is something we forget. After 9/11, we realized how much our own heroes risk their lives every single day. So I applied that to comic heroes.' In so doing, Meltzer said, he came to see that while many heroes make their names by scaring the so-called 'bad guys,' the people who need to be scared the most are the heroes themselves.

"'The only thing that protects them and their families is that people do not know who they are,' Meltzer suggested. 'It's easy to have Superman beat the villain and go home to Lois Lane, but I am far more interested in the moment when he goes home to Lois and reminds her that if he had been followed, she would be killed.'"

Marvel's quarterly report: Marvel Enterprises -- you know, that "global entertainment licensing company" -- released its second-quarter financial results today. Net sales were $155.5 million, a growth of $65.5 million over the second quarter of 2003, spurred largely by the toy segment. The report also provides a review of Marvel's Plublishing Segment:

"... net sales rose due to increased strength in the direct and mass markets primarily driven by a higher title count and greater overall demand for Marvel brand products. Approximately 65 comic titles per month were published in Q2 2004 with an average circulation of over 53,800 units versus 50 titles per month at an average circulation of 64,000 units in the 2003 period. In total, there was an approximate 10% increase in circulation to 3.5 million units compared to the prior year period, reflecting success in the Company's title management strategy. Operating margins in the segment increased to 41.6% in Q2 2004 compared to operating margins of 31.6% in the prior-year period. The year-over-year margin increase reflects higher gross margins in the core comic business due to operating efficiencies, coupled with a lower cost structure due to reductions achieved in distribution costs compared to the prior-year period. Publishing segment margins also benefited from a one-time gain of $1.0 million in other income related to settlements of old bankruptcy claims."

For those tracking Marvel's film lineups, there's a chart with studio/distributor and status information for "2006 and beyond." There's even a slot for Ant-Man. Yes, Ant-Man.

Making "geek" chic: The Minneapolis Star-Tribune spotlights local retailer Michael Drivas, who just moved his Big Brain Comics to a more spacious location:

"It's a comic-book store for people who would normally be embarrassed to go to a comic store. "It's not so sterile and weird and dark. It's a place where you know like-minded people are going to be. It's actually more like a culture shop. There's always some CD playing that I've never heard, or Michael will loan me a DVD. I would go to other stores, but it wouldn't be as much of an experience."

Comic-Con letdown: In UC-Berkeley's Daily Californian, critic Jake Mix complains that Comic-Con International only reinforces comic-book stereotypes:

"Walking through the dozens and dozens of packed aisles, the vast majority of Comic-Con’s content strongly reinforces the image of comics as being for kids and socially underdeveloped middle-aged men. One of the notorious methods of luring wallets into booths is through scantily clad women—and sadly, the technique works. Perhaps even stranger are the booths unloading Renaissance Faire weapons and clothing, Alien props, Star Wars gear, G.I. Joes, and exceptionally bad fantasy art.

"Then, of course, there were the thick patches of body odor. The experience on the exhibition floor was irritating at best. Walking around randomly is not to be encouraged.

"Despite the inclusion of 'International' in the title, the Con is decidedly focused on American comics and trends. Franco-Belgian comics were utterly absent, and manga (Japanese comics) was mostly being sold by American distributors. The self-publishing grid of booths, a more hopeful arena for finding some nugget of quality, were sadly filled with tiresome stories of ninja cows and pirate chickens."

Review revue: The Boston Globe reviews Steven T. Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen's It's a Bird:

"Seagle's contemplation of Superman, however, is uneven, honestly insightful at times but too often heavy-handed. When he looks at the very impossibility of Superman, or when he contemplates the colors in Superman's costume, Seagle fares well. But when he presents a dark history of humans' relationship to power or examines the Nietzschean concept of the ubermensch (misleadingly translated as superman), he leaves the reader feeling betrayed, forced to wonder why he would opt for the obvious when he has demonstrated an ability to engage in interesting, original thought."

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Morrison's Soldiers of fortune: Grant Morrison talks with Newsarama about the concepts behind his 30-issue Seven Soldiers project, and the first arc of JLA: Classified:
The fun really starts when you combine all the books like a 30 piece jigsaw to reveal the epic story behind it all, with a cast of hundreds, criss-crossing and affecting one another's lives. I think it adds up to the most intricate and ambitious single superhero story anyone's attempted.

My hope is that each of the books has a different enough flavor for all of the seven to find their own special audience - there's hip hop psychedelia, full-on fantasy adventure in modern day Los Angeles, a gritty, hard luck heroine book, a rollercoaster techno-thriller, a sci-fi western, vampire knights from hell riding giant spiders and more fresh new superheroes than anyone has a right to expect. This is a huge mega-novel, cape fiction's own Lord of the Rings. It could just as easily fall flat on its face but I’m hoping there are enough people out there who want new kinds of thrills.

The current vogue in superhero comics, post-“Hush” is for the 'definitive' take, which tends to manifest itself as creators playing it safe by cherry-picking and re-packaging all the best and most popular elements of an already successful feature. It's a commercial strip-mining kind of approach to a given property that seems to make a lot of sense until you realize it can really only work once before you find yourself in the awful position of having to make up stuff again. Seven Soldiers is an attempt to clear some new ground and make stories for people who want something a little different from 'greatest hits' reworkings of books they've already read.

Obviously these days it's a lot harder to sell comics with new ideas and untested characters and it's clear why it would be easier just do a 12-part Batman or JLA book but someone has to be willing to take chances with original material and sometimes it has to be me.
As for his JLA: Classified run, well: "Aquaman has no beard and John Stewart is Green Lantern so it's pretty much set in some kind of current continuity but I’m afraid it's not the gloomy 'adult' world of Sue Dibny's shredded lycra pants so keep well away if it's attempted rape you crave. Cannibalism, yes, rape, no. My DCU is a day-glo, non-stop funhouse, where the world is threatened every five minutes and godlike beings clash in the skies like fireworks."

Crisis central: At Newsarama, Troy Brownfield devotes "Your Manga Minute" to an examination of the controversy surrounding the murder -- and revealed rape -- of Sue Dibny in Identity Crisis:

"There seems to be a persistent categorization of Brad Meltzer as some kind of misogynist because of the death (and revealed rape) of Sub Dibny. I find that to be a strange categorization. A little research would let you know that Meltzer is married to a woman that has worked with women who have gone through similar experiences. Even if you didn’t know that, characterizing a writer as something out of hand just because something happens in one of his stories is suspect at best, and troubling at worst.

"It also flies in the face of detective and/or mystery fiction. I’m a fan of the stuff. In fact, I’m a noir nut. For there to be a murder mystery, you’ve got to start with a body. It’s kind of a given. Invariably, there have been several times throughout the canon where the victim is a woman. Some writers (like Edgar Allan Poe, himself a father of the genre) felt that the death of a beautiful, beloved woman was the worst kind of tragedy, and that it immediately engendered a different level of support. I would say that there exists some real world resonance in that idea; look how readily the cable news battens onto stories of missing women, with the ones that are highlighted inevitably being more attractive (I’m not saying that’s right; I’m saying that happens).

"Perhaps the argument is being made that Meltzer’s move is anti-woman because of the level of brutalization involved. While I agree that Sue Dibny’s death was horrific, I challenge that it’s no more or less horrific than any number of other deaths in fiction. Consider the victims of Patrick Bateman in Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho; car batteries, coat hangers, and the introduction of rats into orifices all play a part in that. Is that level of depravity necessary to depict? Maybe or maybe not; regardless, brutalization of that level does occur in real life, and it may be intellectually dishonest of the writer to ignore that."

San Diego afterthoughts: At Comic Book Resources, Steven Grant returns from Comic-Con in a surprisingly upbeat and optimistic mood:
For a long time factionalization has torn and weakened the comics industry. This is natural enough, and it's been going on pretty much ever since fandom was founded. DC vs Marvel. Independents vs mainstream. Black'n'whites vs color comics. Superhero comics vs. autobiographical comics or funny animal comics or whatever other genre. A little over a decade ago, a number of writer-artists got together and issued "the Creator's Bill Of Rights," a manifesto with the unintended effect of alienating many of those – the comics talent pool – it sought to win over, by implying comics written and drawn by the same person were inherently superior to those with the disciplines performed by different people. I still hear that argument, heard it this weekend as a matter of fact, and it's specious nonsense. The person I talked to cited Will Eisner as the exemplar, going back 60 years to THE SPIRIT and earlier works, but THE SPIRIT, one of the most influential strips in history, was a gang bang if there ever was one.

There are economic reasons for freelancers pursuing creator-owned work, and economic reasons why most companies prefer company-owned comics, but nothing makes creator- or company- comics inherently superior to the other creatively. As a group, I mean. Specific comics, sure. But PLANETARY isn't inherently superior to most other superhero comics because it's a creator-owned comic (or is it company-owned? I forget...) but because it's usually a better comic book. Likewise, other comics from other genres or publishers aren't inherently superior to PLANETARY because they're not superhero comics or not published by DC. There's no criterion that makes any group or type of comic inherently superior to any other group or type. French comics aren't inherently superior to American comics because they're French. Manga aren't inherently superior to X-MEN just because they're manga.

I mean, come on. There are crappy superhero comics, crappy French comics, crappy manga, and great superhero comics, great French comics, great manga. There are great company-owned comics and creator-owned comics that wouldn't qualify as toilet paper. Fantagraphics is one of the great publishers out there, but even Fantagraphics has published its share of crap; you can't expect a comic to be good just because Fantagraphics puts it out any more than you can expect any comic with the Marvel name to be good. Because genres, publishers, designer labels, modes of creation, target audiences, characters, nations of origin, title affiliations, size, print style and even talent names don't matter.

The only thing that makes a comic book good or bad – the only thing that matters, that really matters – is the work.

Everything else is marketing.
He also discusses the integration of Comic-Con, responds to emails about the debt DC owes to Marv Wolfman and George Perez, and asks for some financial help.

Runoff takes off: Newsarama talks with Runoff creator Tom Manning:

"... I like challenges and I wanted to write a book that wasn’t exactly a genre. A book that would be really hard to explain to someone else. Something without a catchphrase. In 1999, I was coming out of college and I was frustrated because I read Marvel Comics as a kid but now I didn’t know what to read but I didn’t see anyone taking comics to the levels they should be going to. I’m not trying to say that Runoff takes comics to a new level but to look at comics as a medium and not just entertainment. It’s not Frankenstein versus Wolverine."

Manga's fanbase: The Boston Globe looks at the driving force behind manga's rapidly growing popularity -- young women:

"Think of manga as literary soaps for teens and 20-somethings. They're The O.C. in graphic-novel form. Consider the upcoming release My Love, which has a tag line that places its heroine at the intersection of sweet and dangerous: 'She's feisty, cute, 15 . . . and a loan shark!' X-Day tells the story of five high schoolers who plot to blow up their school. Princess Ai, which boasts Courtney Love as a coauthor, features an occasionally topless Love doppelganger who's both a singer and a winged superhero. A ratings system steers young readers away from overtly sexual or violent content."

Korean comics on the rise: The Korea Times reports that last weekend's Comic-Con International resulted in more than $1 million worth of North American licensing agreements and copyright purchases for Korean cartoons and comics. That will translate into 40 new manhwa entering the North American market:

"Now I see how popular Korean comics are in the global market. The local comic market should be in good shape for more Korean comic characters to be loved by an overseas market."

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Self-promotion time: Yes, it's that time again already. I have more work to promote. October's Digital Webbing Presents #19 (AUG04 2670) is a full-color issue with a 20-page science-fiction feature by Steve Niles and Kody Chamberlain (30 Days of Night: Bloodsucker Tales). As if that weren't enough, the issue also boasts a little experiment co-written by Ian Ascher and me, and beautifully illustrated by Scott LeMien (Moonstone Monsters).

The three-page story, called "A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight," throws together characters from Ian's "Sleight of Hand" stories and my "Bad Elements" series in a case of two hitmen after the same target. It's short, but as I said, it's an experiment -- one spurred by an online conversation with the publisher, who challenged the three of us to tell a complete story in just three pages using members of both casts ... and an explosion. I think we met the challenge pretty well. 

The October issue also contains "How I Spent My 21st Birthday," by Troy Wall and Nick Postic and Nick Marinkovich (IDW's Underworld), "Spook'd" by Jeffery Stevenson and Seth Damoose (Movie Poop Shoot's Brat-halla), and "Just Another Wednesday" by Ev Jameson and Justin Peterson.

Anime Network goes live: Anime Network goes live today, moving from a video-on-demand format to 24/7 national network (well, "national" in the loosest sense of the word).

"Basement" dwellers: At Comic Book Resources, Matt Fraction and Joe Casey launch "The Basement Tapes" with a discussion of "comics journalism," among other topics:
FRACTION: The mainstream press is near exclusively PR-driven and its cycles are artificially birthed and manipulated -- I mean, how much "news" has been broken concurrent with a new issue of WIZARD that's been in the production pipeline for three months? You'll see PR hyping Marvel's 50% dominance of the direct market in January, but no analysis that, yeah, but that stunt was born of Marvel double-shipping 75% of their books that month.

So you've got a press that's been forcibly co-opted by the comics mainstream, a mainstream very largely co-opted by a singular genre, and the development of the DM over the last couple years is definitive proof that the trickle-down taste theory (that the success of the mainstream finances the existence of alternatives) is wrong. Now the mainstream has reached the end of some kind of cycle where it's running head-on into the last comfort zone it knew. You could argue any number of reasons for this, but the majors are playing it same as it ever was-- Marvel and DC have built a bridge back to the twentieth century and neutering progressive work while artificially inflating the sales charts and squeezing anyone not in a cape further and further down the charts, off the racks, whatever. The super-hero mainstream is the only game in most comic shops (the manga & shojo issue is a whole 'nother thing), and it's a bloated, unchecked pig.

Where else, then, is there a venue for thoughtful commentary and critique of the mainstream necessary at least in part to elevate it, if not the Internet? Beyond the unchecked, fawning pedantry or pissing that's marked the web's early development (and still clogs most un-moderated forums), there's a developing node of extraordinarily thoughtful analysis starting to blossom on several blogs and from several writers here and there-- and with the mainstream's choke-hold on the DM, where else but the web can such a thing exist? The mainstream is the only game in town, a system existing to perpetuate a system-you know, "Why bother thinking when we can all just be happy that Chris Claremont is coming back to X-MEN again?"

CASEY: Well, hell, it all comes back to the goddamned X-MEN, doesn't it...?

FRACTION: You're never going to escape, Joe.

Viz to adapt Wolf's Rain: also reports that Viz will release a two-volume adaptation of the popular Wolf's Rain anime series, as well as a soccer manga called Whistle. Both are scheduled for a fall release.

Dark Horse roundup: has a summary of announcements made by Dark Horse at Comic-Con, including a comic-book adaptation of The Incredibles, Katsuya Terada's The Monkey King manga series, Katsuhiro (Akira) Otomo and Shinji Kamura's Hipira: The Little Vampire, and Peter Bagge's Apocalypse Nerd.

The Hibbs experience: Retailer Brian Hibbs has launched his own blog, called Savage Critic.

Clothes make the fan: looks at cosplayers as a barometer of what's popular in the "geek community," and surveys Comic-Con International for this year's "hot list" -- and a glimpse into 2005:

"If two horrible prequel movies haven't been able to kill people's love of Star Wars, we don't think anything will. That puppy's here to stay for the forseeable future, even if Revenge of the Sith is a steaming pile like its predecessors. And The Lord of The Rings has been around forever in the hearts and minds of geekdom -- that ain't gonna change, tho it will probably decline a bit with the general public as the movies get further and further into the past. Either way, those two properties have a lot of history around them that are almost like armor against receding from the popular culture landscape."

Review revue: Time magazine reviews Birth of a Nation, written by Aaron McGruder and Reginald Hudlin, and illustrated by Kyle Baker.

Bandai vs. the pirates: Wired News checks in on efforts by Bandai Entertainment to crack down on anime piracy, which is churning out unauthorized products worth an estimated $300 million a year:

"We've tried some gentler approaches prior to filing the lawsuits, but the piracy has just been growing exponentially. It's time to take more formal action."

The madding crowd: Although official numbers haven't been announced, the Associated Press reports an estimated 80,000 people attended Comic-Con International. That's an increase of about 5,000 over last year. Over at The Beat, Heidi MacDonald contends attendance was more than 100,000. Semi-exact, official-type numbers should make the rounds later this week.

Monday, July 26, 2004

GN line debuts in November: Publishers Weekly (subscription required) reports that Dan (Legion) Abnett's Titan: God-Machine will be the first title in BL Publishing's new line of "pocket-sized" graphic novels. The line's 200-page black-and-white books are based on the science fiction and fantasy worlds created by parent company Games Workshop. Titan will debut in November, followed by The Call of Chaos in January, The Complete Tales from the Ten-Tailed Cat and Bloodquest: The Eye of Terror trilogy in March, and Darkblade: Reign of Blood in May.

HarperCollins to publish SiP: Terry Moore tells that HarperCollins will publish a Strangers in Paradise Treasury Edition 240-page hardcover in October:

"Roughly 60% of the content will never have been published before, including the original 'rough draft' 30-page first issue of SiP (in black & white), behind the scenes information, how Moore got started and how SiP came to be, director's notes and even nude preliminary sketches."

More from Bandai: also has more details on Bandai's announcement that it will launch a manga line next year: "We want to publish a limited line of books based on high profile properties. We're commissioning original stories based on established properties."

Dates floated for FCBD: reports the Free Comic Book Day steering committee will present two possible dates in 2005 to retailers: May 7 (the first weekend in May), and June 18 (the opening of Batman Begins). 

Something wicked this way comes: At Ninth Art, Greg McElhatton combs through August Previews for an entertaining look at "Things to Come" in October.

Review revue: The Orlando Sentinel reviews Derek Kirk Kim's Same Difference and Other Stories.

Sister act: The Seattle Times spotlights sisters Danielle and Nicole Pelham, who have self-published a manga called Guiding Light. In a sidebar, the newspaper summarizes the history of anime and manga.

Move over, Harry Potter: Dark Horizons passes along news from Variety that Regency Enterprises and Fox 2000 Pictures have optioned Ted Naifeh's Courtney Crumrin to develop as a potential film franchise. (Link via Franklin Harris.)

Teaching the art of comics: The India Express reports on World Comics India's three-day workshop on the art of making comics.

"Nerdtopia": The San Diego Union-Tribune wraps up Comic-Con International with news of a Simpsons movie, and chats with Larry Young and Chip Zdarsky.

Young: "The demographic for this stuff is same as the demographic for television. ... Whatever your favorite movie is, we have a comic book or graphic novel that is similar."

Zdarsky: "This is nerdtopia. Everything you could ever want as a nerd is here."

Korea to honor Old Boy: The Korea Herald reports the Ministry of Culture and Tourism will honor the director, lead actor and producer of Old Boy, which received runner-up Grand Prize of the Jury at the Cannes Film Festival. The film is a tale of revenge based on a Japanese manga of the same name.

Little heroes, big screen: Meanwhile, The New York Times wonders whether lesser-known comic properties, such as Hellblazer and Sin City, can be transformed into big-screen blockbusters. Here's Frank Miller:

"People who love comic books are traumatized by the way things have been turned upside down. Hollywood tends to take the work as a springboard and nothing else and that is not the best thing."

The players: USA Today also attends Comic-Con, examining the influence of comic fans on Hollywood, and the rise of the comic-book movie.

Time for your close-up: The Associated Press reports from Comic-Con International with a look at Hollywood's courtship of comic book fans. Here's actor Lance Henriksen:

"There are 80,000 people who are going to pass through here, and there are only 35,000 at the Democratic convention. What does that tell you?"

Sunday, July 25, 2004

"Cup o' Joe" roundup: Newsarama reports from Joe Quesada's "Cup o' Joe" session, where the usual flurry of exclusive agreements and project plans were announced. Some of the highlights include:
* Warren Ellis' two-year exclusive agreement, initially mentioned on Friday, was confirmed. As also reported on Friday, Ellis will take over Iron Man. According to The Pulse, it was hinted that Ellis could have an ICON book. In his "Bad Signal" email newsletter, Ellis assured his fans the new contract won't affect Planetary: "Planetary is exempt from the deal, as are two other small WFH jobs I'd begun at DC. And, to reiterate, it affects my creator-owned work not at all -- I'm free to continue generating new work in that field and placing it anywhere I like."
* Robert Kirkman also has signed a two-year exclusive contract. He tells Comic Book Resources the agreement won't interfere with The Walking Dead or Invincible, and he won't be bringing the titles under the ICON banner: "They mentioned it, but I didn't give them time to make the actual offer. They mentioned it as a possibility and I told them I wasn't really interested. I'm completely happy at Image and I want to support Image Comics. I think Image is a vital part of this industry and it just wasn't an option."
* Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, writer on Marvel Knights 4 and the new Nightcrawler series, rounded out the writer exclusives.
* The Pulse also notes that artists Steve Epting and Greg Land have signed exclusive contracts with Marvel, but no duration was given.
* Marvel announced an agreement with Dreamwave, which kicks off in December with a Fantastic Four/X-Men limited series by Pat Lee.
* Runaways will return in January for "Season Two."
* Quesada said plans have changed for Thor, and asked that fans be patient. (Could it be that Neil Gaiman's schedule derailed those plans?)
* Talent Caldwell will be the new artist on Spectacular Spider-Man.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Good-bye, Austen; hello, Milligan: Newsarama reports from the "X-Men Reload" panel at Comic-Con that Peter Milligan will replace Chuck Austen on X-Men.

Marvel in October, revisited: Although they were leaked at Millarworld on July 15, Marvel officially released its October solicitations today, with cover images. For the trade paperback solicitations, go here. It just occurred to me: Why is there no issue of Mary Jane solicited? (The first trade digest is offered, but no monthly issue.)

Bandai to tackle manga: The Pulse has word, but sketchy details, from the Bandai panel at Comic-Con, where it was announced the international entertainment giant will enter the manga field in March 2005. Rob Napton, producer of Macross 2, Gunbuster and Appleseed, is editing the new line.

Review revue: UK's Guardian Unlimited reviews the much-celebrated McSweeney's 13: The Comics Issue, edited by Chris Ware:

"This book should be bought by anyone with any interest in comics, modern art, in fact, in modern popular culture, full stop. And if you haven't read a comic in years, it can take you back to your childhood. You remember the joy of receiving an annual for Christmas? There always seemed to be just so much stuff in it. You'd flick through it, dip in and out of it, reading the odd page; and then you'd go back and read it all properly over the next few weeks. Well, you can relive that experience with this book. You won't like everything, and, as with those old annuals, there are some boring bits that aren't comics at all. Writing - words on a page with no pictures. Most of the written stuff seems pale and uninteresting next to the comics, though there is quite an interesting piece by John Updike, who apparently started life as a cartoonist, but eventually gave it up to write novels. "

Kerry the vampire slayer: The Boston Herald takes notice of Sen. John Kerry's cameo in Sword of Dracula #5:

"A spokesman for the Kerry camp could not be reached for comment, so it is unclear whether Kerry is aware of his fictional counterpart -- or if he thinks the comic will put a stake in his chances of capturing the undead vote."

Size does matter: Wired News checks in from Comic-Con with a look at comics delivered via cell phones:

"Already, cell-phone users can pay to download wallpaper, greetings, animation and daily strips featuring well-known characters (Ziggy, the For Better or for Worse family) and lesser-known ones (Captain RibMan and Anoki). Later this summer, an aggregation site called GoComics will expand to include offerings of strips like Doonesbury and La Cucaracha, all available to mobile-phone users willing to shell out $2 or $3 a month for access.

"GoComics, which works with a number of comic-strip distributors and hopes to strike deals with comic-book makers like DC and Marvel, reports making 1 million sales in 2003. Nearly two-thirds of the customers are women, perhaps because they like the ability to personalize greetings, said co-managing director Chris Pizey."

Glimmer man: Comic Book Resources talks with Courtney Crumrin's Ted Naifeh about his just-announced project for Oni Press, Glimmer:
"I love sword and sorcery epics. I'm a huge Lord of the Rings fan. Glimmer is sort of my attempt at a sword and sorcery epic with a goth flavor, a little tongue in cheek, a little style over substance, a little angst. There's no ship date yet. We just want to whet folks' appetites. Probably next summer, in time for Comic-Con."

Get your awards here: The Pulse has the complete list of winners of the 2004 Eisner Awards and other honors, handed out last night at Comic-Con. Eisner winners were:
Best Short Story: "Death," by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell, in The Sandman: Endless Nights (Vertigo/DC)
Best Single Issue (or One-Shot): (tie) Conan The Legend #0, by Kurt Busiek and Cary Nord (Dark Horse), and The Goon #1, by Eric Powell (Dark Horse)
Best Serialized Story: Gotham Central #6-10: "Half a Life," by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark (DC)
Best Continuing Series: 100 Bullets, by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso (Vertigo/DC)
Best Limited Series: Unstable Molecules, by James Sturm and Guy Davis (Marvel)
Best New Series: Plastic Man, by Kyle Baker (DC)
Best Title for a Younger Audience: Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge, by various (Gemstone)
Best Humor Publication: Formerly Known as the Justice League, by Keith Giffen, J. M. DeMatteis, Kevin Maguire, and Joe Rubinstein (DC)
Best Anthology: The Sandman: Endless Nights, by Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean, P. Craig Russell, Miguelanxo Prado, Barron Storey, Frank Quitely, Glenn Fabry, Milo Manara, and Bill Sienkiewicz; co-edited by Karen Berger and Shelly Bond (Vertigo/DC)
Best Graphic Album—New: Blankets, by Craig Thompson (Top Shelf)
Best Graphic Album—Reprint: Batman Adventures: Dangerous Dames and Demons, by Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, and others (DC)
Best Archival Collection/Project: Krazy and Ignatz, 1929–1930, by George Herriman, edited by Bill Blackbeard (Fantagraphics)
Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material: Buddha, vols. 1 and 2, by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)
Best Writer: Alan Moore, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Promethea, Smax, Tom Strong, Tom Strong's Terrific Tales (ABC)
Best Writer/Artist: Craig Thompson, Blankets (Top Shelf)
Best Writer/Artist—Humor: Kyle Baker, Plastic Man (DC); The New Baker (Kyle Baker Publishing)
Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team: John Cassaday, Planetary, Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth (WildStorm/DC); Hellboy Weird Tales (Dark Horse)
Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art): Jill Thompson, "Stray," in The Dark Horse Book of Hauntings (Dark Horse)
Best Coloring: Patricia Mulvihill, Batman, Wonder Woman (DC), 100 Bullets (Vertigo/DC)Best Lettering: Todd Klein, Detective Comics ( DC); Fables, The Sandman: Endless Nights (Vertigo/DC); Tom Strong, Promethea (ABC); 1602 (Marvel)
Best Cover Artist: James Jean, Batgirl (DC), Fables (Vertigo/DC)
Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition: Derek Kirk Kim, Same Difference and Other Stories
Best Comics-Related Periodical: Comic Book Artist, edited by Jon B. Cooke (Top Shelf)
Best Comics-Related Book: The Art of Hellboy, by Mike Mignola (Dark Horse)
Best Publication Design: Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross, designed by Chip Kidd (Pantheon)
Hall of Fame (judges' choices): Otto Binder, John Stanley, Kasuo Koike and Goseki Kojima
Hall of Fame (voters' selection): Al Capp, Jules Feiffer, Don Martin and Jerry Robinson
Inkpot Awards were given to Jack Adler, Tom Gill, Harry Harrison, Bruce Jones, Batton Lash, Mike Mignola, Bill Plympton, Frank Springer and John Totleben. Jim Lee received the CBLDF Liberty Award.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Avengers panel, and more: Comic Book Resources reports from the Avengers panel at Comic-Con, at which several announcements were made:

* Although CBR's front-page summary teases that Warren Ellis is now Marvel-exclusive, there's no mention of that in the article itself; I presume it's an accidental omission. Rumors that Ellis will take over Iron Man were confirmed, with Adi Granov stepping in as the series' regular artist.
* Another rumor was put to rest as Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting were named as the new creative team on Captain America beginning in November. Brubaker talks about his plans here.
* Alan Heinberg, a writer for Fox Television's The O.C., will launch a Young Avengers series with Marvel-exclusive artist Jimmy Cheung early next year. "It's not what you think," EIC Joe Quesada assured the audience. "It's nothing like you're thinking, it's one of the most inventive series we've come along in a long time ..."
* CBR also talks with John Romita Jr. about his 12-issue run on Wolverine with Mark Millar, which begins in October.
* The Pulse notes a new Marvel Team-Up series, by Robert Kirkman and Scott Kolins, will kick off in November.

Attention Kmart readers: Publishers Weekly (subscription required) also reports that Kmart will add a young-adult section in September as part of the chain's growing focus on children's books:

"Kmart, whose 1,500 stores each carry about 475 children's titles, has been increasing its commitment to the market in recent years. Last fall, it added 'value tables' in high-traffic areas of the store with children's books making up 85% of the merchandise displayed. At the same time, 538 stores added sections stocked by titles from Paragon Publishing, with children's titles making up 85% of the books carried."

Learning from Tokyopop: Publishers Weekly (subscription required) checks in on licensing trends, and finds that many publishers are watching Tokyopop's successful Cine-Manga line and taking notes. Here's Margaret Milnes, senior director of publishing for Nickelodeon: ""It's a brand-new format that appeals to a traditionally underserved market in terms of age, and is a perfect match for our properties." And there's more:
"Tokyopop helped us find a way to make comics work in the U.S. again," agreed Jeanne Mosure, v-p of global retail books for Disney Publishing Worldwide, which recently expanded its licensing deal with Tokyopop. "They created a format that works at retail, and it speaks to how ready kids were for that."

Warner Bros. is getting into the TV-based manga business with its sister company DC Comics, which is introducing two Warner titles that, like Cine-Manga, feature frame-grabs of TV shows with word balloons. The two books are bind-ups tied to Cartoon Network and Kids WB, each highlighting five shows that appear on the networks.
I don't recall seeing anything previously about the Warner Bros./DC take on Cine-Manga. Could that be part of DC's new CMX line?

Marvel panel summary: The Pulse also covered the Marvel Universe panel, where ... nothing much was announced. (To be fair, Joe Quesada's "Cup o' Joe" panel is on Saturday, so any big news probably is being saved until then.) Still, didn't we already know most of this? The one bit of new information was Daredevil: Golden Age:

"One of the newest projects announced was the anniversary special for Daredevil called Daredevil: Golden Age. The story takes readers through the Daredevil's early years and features the yellow costume. ON the panel it was described as 'a little like Once Upon a Time In America.' When that series comes out Bendis will be scribing Daredevil's adventures in the Golden Age, Silver Age and Modern age. Creating the art for the D:GA is Alex Maleev."

Peter David was on the panel, but The Pulse doesn't report any announcement from him.

Update: Newsarama's coverage of the Marvel panel includes more details.

Vertigo panel roundup: The Pulse has news from the second Vertigo panel, including preview art from Jill Thompson's upcoming Deadboy Detectives (above). Other panel highlights include:

* Brian Azzarello has signed a three-year exclusive deal with DC, and is working with Marcelo Fusin on a Western called Loveless.
* Mike Carey and Leonardo Manco will produce a Hellblazer original graphic novel called Hellblazer: All His Engines, which will try to bridge the gap between the movie and the comic series. (Carey talks more about the project at Comic Book Resources.)
* It appears that 2005 will be the year of the OGN at Vertigo, as Pride by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon also was announced. According to The Pulse, "the story concerns a zoo in the middle of a war zone whose occupants suddenly find themselves free in war-torn Iraq."
* A Fables original graphic novel, called 1001 Nights of Snowfall, also is planned, with Charles Vess and other artists tapped to draw.
* Gary Phillips and Shawn Martinbrough are working on a five-part miniseries called Angeltown. (For more, visit Comic Book Resources.)
* Gilbert Hernandez will release an original graphic novel called Sloth, about a teen-ager "who wills himself into a coma, wakes up a year later, and is physically slower than everyone around him."
* Newsarama reports that Mike Carey and Glenn Fabry will adapt Neil Gaiman's novel, Neverwhere, as a miniseries.

The San Diego Beat: At The Beat, Heidi MacDonald has some interesting tidbits from Comic-Con, including observations on the major publishers' booths, and reports from last night's Friends of Lulu Awards.

Kanji? Can-do! Manga otaku take heart. Engadget reports that Omronsoft has developed a Java application that allows you to send and receive email in Japanese from your Western cell phone.

"This is huge": The San Diego Union-Tribune sizes up this year's Comic-Con:

"'This,' said Danny Fingeroth, standing on the crowded floor of the San Diego Convention Center, 'is the premier pop culture festival in the United States.'

"Fingeroth is a former editor of Marvel's Spider-Man comics and, thus, a biased source. But only a superdolt would argue with him. From yesterday's opening ceremonies through Sunday's closing festivities, this weekend belongs to the Con.

"Stand next to Fingeroth and here's what you see: more. More people (ticket sales indicate that last year's record crowd of 75,000 will be easily surpassed). More vendors, peddling everything from $800 original Pogo strips to $40,000 Art Nouveau paintings. More stars plugging more movies, from Jude Law (Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow) to Keanu Reeves (Constantine). More Klingons, Sailor Moons, Imperial Storm Troopers and other costumed adults indulging their inner 12-year-olds."

Review revue (Part 2): PopMatters updates its comics section with reviews of Artesia Afire, Peops: Portraits and Stories of People, and Bone, Vol. 8: Treasure Hunters.

Meanwhile, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reviews Scott Morse's The Barefoot Serpent.

His master's voice? Jeff Parker files the first of his audio-blog reports from Comic-Con here and here.

One of the world's finest: At Silver Bullet Comic Books, Jim Kingman looks at a few of the contributions of writer Bob Haney, who is in a convalescent hospital after suffering a massive stroke several months ago.

The buzz from Comic-Con: At Newsarama, Jonah Weiland and Matt Brady activate their Wonder Twin powers to file a joint report from the convention floor, with items about Activision's X-Men: Legends, interest in Lady Death and other former Chaos properties, worn-out Complete Bone jokes, and more.

San Diego Digest, Part 1: Comic-Con International is barely into Day 2, and there's already a boatload of news:

* Comic Book Resources has news that Grant Morrison will return to the JLA for at least one arc in Justice League Classified, a new series that will allow writers and artists to tell stories from any era in the team's history. Mike Carlin said Gail Simone's planned JLA arc with Jose Garcia-Lopez may end up in the new book, along with the I Can't Believe It's Not Justice League miniseries.
* CBR reports from Thursday's DC's "Batman: War Games" panel, where it was announced that Judd Winick will be the permanent writer on Batman, returning to the title with November's Issue 634.
* Newsarama reports the Disney panel demonstrates the increasing importance of comics to the House of Mouse. Disney showcased WITCH, which has sold more than 20 million copies in 71 countries, and Kylion, a futuristic space opera.
* Speaking of the "War Games" panel, group editor Bob Schreck gave a broad overview of the publisher's big cross-over.
* In its "War Games" coverage, The Pulse notes the announcement of Matt Wagner's 12-issue series, Batman: Dark Moon Rising,  and Dave Lapham's yearlong Detective arc, called "City of Crime."
* Newsarama has more on yesterday's Vertigo panel, including indication that the success of It's a Bird could lead to more original graphic novels from the imprint.
* IDW Publishing officially announced another Steve Niles series. This one's called Lurkers.
* Newsarama also covers DC's efforts to raise Dustin Nguyen's profile through the "Spotlight" panel (hosted by Jim Lee).
* CBR talks with B. Clay Moore about another new series, Battle Hymn, with art by Jeremy Haun and Ande Parks.
* The Pulse  has the winners of the eighth annual Friends of Lulu Awards, which were presented Thursday night.
* Variety's Bags and Boards checks in from the convention center floor.

Return of the teen detectives: also reports that NBM Publishing is launching a new line of comics and graphic novels featuring updated adventures of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew -- who now sport cell phones and laptop computers. The new Hardy Boys adventure, which debuts in November, will be written by Scott Lobdell and illustrated by Lea Hernandez.

In an interesting move, the 32-page, full-color comic will be a direct market exclusive. In February, the comics will be collected in a 96-page, digest-sized trade with a $7.95 cover price. Nancy Drew only will appear as trade paperbacks. Both titles are edited by Jim Salicrup.

Electric Girl, the TV series? At Comic-Con, learns from AiT/Planet Lar that Michael Brennan's Electric Girl is being developed as an animated series by Cartoon Network. Larry Young pointed out that Electric Girl is his company's best-selling book, and sells 10 times as many copies in the book market as in the direct market:

"He also informed ICv2 that there are six Ait/Planet Lar titles currently in active development  for live action feature films.  The six are Astronauts in Trouble, Demo, The Couriers, Last of the Independents, Channel Zero and Codeflesh."

Death gets her Day: Superhero Hype passes along word from Variety that New Line Cinema has secured the rights to Neil Gaiman's Death: The High Cost of Living. Gaiman, who wrote the screen adaptation, is in talks to direct. The film's current title is Death's Day.

Changing syndicates: The Associated Press reports that For Better of For Worse cartoonist Lynn Johnston is bringing her comic strip back to Universal Press Syndicate after seven years with United Feature Syndicate.

Leading ladies: The Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader puts together a list of the 10 most important female comic-book characters: Wonder Woman, Gwen Stacy, Lois Lane, Mary Jane Watson, Catwoman, Jane Grey, Storm, Rogue, Supergirl and Elektra. There's also a handful of "honorable mentions."

Pounding the pavement: California's North County Times looks at local creators Adam Rosko and J.M. Hunter's efforts to get their book in the hands of publishers at Comic-Con International:

"Hunter and Rosko will join about 70,000 other fans this week in attending the annual ComicCon -- the gigantic comic book convention which started Thursday and runs through Sunday at the San Diego Convention Center -- but instead of buying books and memorabilia, they will be trying to interest publishers in picking up their books.

"It's not easy breaking into the comic book industry, but they like to think they have improved their chances by publishing their own books. With or without a lucrative contract, though, they are doing what they love."

Review revue: Colorado's Rocky Mountain News reviews Give Our Regards to the Atom Smashers!: Writers on Comics.

Catwoman's nine lives: The Alameda (Calif.) Times Star traces the history of Catwoman, from her first appearance as "The Cat" in Batman #1 to her latest screen incarnation:

"Instead of Selina Kyle, Berry plays Patience Philips, a sensitive artist and graphic designer for a cosmetics company. An accident again transforms her into Catwoman, but this time she straddles the law and the lam. A cop (Benjamin Bratt) is torn between his tenderness for Patience and his fascination with Catwoman, not knowing they're the same person."

For a sampling of reviews of the Catwoman movie, go here, here and here.

The Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader also provides a Catwoman timeline, highlighting the character's high -- and low -- points.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Day One's DC Panels: The Pulse reports from Comic-Con International with confirmation that Kurt Busiek will take over DC's JLA with Issue 107; Ron Garney will continue as artist. Also, we should expect more JLA-JSA team-ups.

At the first of the Vertigo panels, it was revealed that Bruce Jones is working on a Deadman project,  while Josh Dysart (Violent Messiahs, The Demon: Driven Out) will take over Swamp Thing with Issue 9. (For more on Dysart's take on the title, skip over to Newsarama.) It also was announced that John Watkiss, who worked in comics in the '90s before fleeing to Disney, will team with Jason Hall on a continuing series called Trigger.

A fistful of comics: Newsarama talks with B. Clay Moore about Five Dead Men, a Western miniseries debuting in January from Image, with art by Tony Moore:

"It's a straight-ahead Western. It's both a revenge story and something of a coming-of-age story. And, obviously from the title, people die. From gunshots. I don't know ... The Searchers meets Lone Wolf and Cub? The story takes us through the upper Western States and into Canada."

June sales numbers: notes that comics sales through Diamond were up in June for the fourth month in a row, a 15-percent rise over this time last year. The retailer site also has the estimated sales figures for the Top 300 comics and Top 100 graphic novels.

Blogger, interrupted: I have errands to run this morning, so blogging will resume early this afternoon.

Hitting the mainstream? In an article about military-recruitment policies at local high schools, the Brattleboro (Vt.) Reformer makes a reference to Demo #7:

"The tactics used by military recruiters has been a focus of attention in the media lately, notably in Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 and a fiction graphic novel by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan called, Demo: One Shot, Don't Miss."

Cultural tsunami: Business Week wonders whether Japanese culture is taking over the world, and turns to Tokyopop's Stuart Levy, among others, for the answer:

"High-school girls in Japan are the key to any trend. They are the center of pop culture today."

In a sidebar, the magazine also looks at how online communities are helping the spread of manga- and anime-related products:

"With the Internet and e-mail, there's way more of a global culture now. When we started out, we were telling kids in the U.S. what was cool in Japan. Now it's a global dialogue. Stuff is just bouncing around the world really quickly."

Manga artist must pay up: Japan's Daily Mainichi reports that Candy Candy artist Yumiko Igarashi and others have been ordered by a Tokyo high court to pay 1.75 million yen to toymaker Apple One, which lost millions when Igarashi gave the company permission to merchandise the manga's characters -- despite not having the right to do so.

Move over, boys: The Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel asks young Latinas what they think about Marvel's latest superheroine, Amazing Fantasy's Anya Corazon:

"It's girl power."

"And she dresses like a normal teenager. She's not all seductive."

"And I like the fact that it doesn't have any bad words. It's not about killing. It has a good moral."

Phil Boyle, co-owner of Central Florida's six Coliseum of Comics stores, also offers his opinion: "Anything that comes along that's a little outside the pasty-white norm is interesting and gets some attention. We find that our customer base is made up of black, white, Latino. We've got an incredibly diverse customer clientele. But the superheroes, themselves, are about as diverse as a hockey team."

Who watches the politicians? Alan Moore: (click-through ad required) talks politics with Alan Moore:

"... V for Vendetta has had an annoying way of coming true ever since I wrote it in the early '80s. Back then, I wanted something to communicate the idea of a police state quickly and efficiently, so I thought of the novel fascist idea of monitor cameras on every street corner. And the book was, of course, set in the future of 1997. But by that year -- and I don't know if Tony Blair and Jack Straw were big fans, but evidently they thought its design for future Britain was a really good one -- we had cameras on every street corner along the length and breadth of the country. My general thought is that yes, it's depressing, but not unexpected, when this stuff happens. And I do tend to think that, given the upsurge of the religious right over the last couple of decades, these are the last spasms of those dinosaur organisms."

"... I suppose it's too early to go into my rant on Ronald Reagan? That would be tasteless. ... You've got Ronald Reagan -- the much eulogized, recently deceased former president -- who everyone seems to have forgotten was regarded as one of the most low and treacherous individuals by those in Hollywood that he sold out to the McCarthy hearings. This is someone whose response to the AIDS epidemic was probably responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide. This is someone who created Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, or at least set in motion the policies that would create these creatures. This was the architect of much of the world's present misery. Why did we elect him? Because he had been in a lot of films that some quite liked. We thought him an honorable man because in his films he played a lot of honorable men. I believe there are some who believed he had an outstanding war record. Even Ronald Reagan himself talked with misty eyes about the time he liberated concentration camps, which he may have done in a movie. But Ronald Reagan was out of World War II, fortunately for him, because of ill health. So all of his memories of military service came from movies. I've got to say that there are probably better people to elect than film stars."

"Well, the body is one of our first sources of metaphor. One of the ways in which we create our language is to talk about things that are unfamiliar to us in terms of things that are familiar to us. Most of the metaphors that we use come from our own bodies. Of course, in magic, such as that I'm interested in, every part of the body has its own symbolic significance. We were talking earlier about the cult of the head. Various parts of the body, such as the sexual organs, have profound meanings in most systems and cultures. The eyes, the hands -- these are all very rich in symbolism because they are so immediate to us. We all know our bodies intimately; it's all we have and all we are. It tends to provide the easiest sort of metaphor. We talk about the face of a clock, or the foot of the stairs. The limbs of a corporation. In the case of Jack the Ripper, they tend to get our attention; same with the beheadings of those unfortunate hostages we talked about earlier. Although, with regard to those hostages -- and I've got enormous sympathies for their families -- but you don't really hear the word 'mercenaries' much these days, do you?"

(If the political conversation doesn't interest you, skip to the last few questions, where Moore discusses, among other things, his lack of concern for "mainstream appreciation" of his work.)

Small wonder: The University of Iowa's Daily Iowan (registration required) profiles Small Favors creator Colleen Coover:

"I wanted it to be female-friendly without excluding men. Sometimes, there's a misperception that in order to write for women, you have to write down [to their level]. For example, [the notion] that all the female characters have to go to the mall or talk about how dreamy some guy is. It's forgotten that a female character is a character, not a version of a character who does girly stuff."

30 Days, and then some: In other Comic-Con-related news, Comic Book Resources chats with Steve Niles about Bloodsucker Tales, the 30 Days of Night ongoing series that debuts in October:

"The only thing I don't want to do is milk the concept of 30 Days of Night. I don't want to kill it. I don't want to tell vampires attacking every town in the Arctic circle stories, like 'Now they're attacking Finland!' (laughs) Now I feel like the characters themselves are more interesting than the concept and not every story needs to take place in Alaska."

Each issue will contain two stories, one by Niles and Digital Webbing Presents alumnus Kody Chamberlain, and a second by Matt Fraction and Ben Templesmith.

Come for Keanu, stay for the D&D: The San Diego Union-Tribune spotlights Comic-Con International, noting the long list of celebrities -- and mix of subcultures -- who will makes the rounds at the convention center:

"Comic-Con also will play host to several subcultures that barely overlap, with a series of film festivals, anime screenings, lectures, tabletop and role-playing gaming sessions and costume contests. There will also be shopping aplenty in the main exhibit hall, with hundreds of booths offering not just comic books, but everything from the latest Japanese manga and toys to more Lord of the Rings merchandise than you can shake a wizard's staff at.

"As the hard-core crowd runs out of energy on Sunday, the con turns its attention to future geeks with Kids' Day, when many of the panels and events focus on cartoons and children's TV and activities."

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Faster than a speeding bullet? Not so much: The New York Times examines Warner Bros.' attempts to revive the Superman film franchise:

"Executives at Warner Brothers are unapologetic about the turmoil, saying they would rather wait for the right script and director and, as important, the perfect Clark Kent, than rush a poorly conceived movie into theaters.

"'We haven't got it right yet; it's that simple,' said Jeff Robinov, president of production at Warner Brothers. 'We have to believe in what we are doing and make it for the right price.'"

Mary Jane's market (and some shipping news): Previews Review sifts through some of the books hitting the shelves this week, and ponders Marvel's Mary Jane:

"It's interesting; I really enjoyed the first issue of MARY JANE but none of the ladies I talked to who read this issue seemed to have liked it at all. I'm pre-disposed to 'girly' comics and to the awesome art of Takeshi Miyazawa, maybe I'm not the best judge of that sort of thing, but yeah. None of the female employees or any of the customers I talked to at the store seemed to like it as much as I did, which is, well, it's interesting. I'm waiting to get some younger impressions, maybe the already-solicited collection of 1 through 4 will find a more appreciative audience...?"

I also enjoyed Mary Jane #1, but have yet to pass it along to any women to get their take. However, I think Alexander Danner might've hit the nail on the head last week with his evaluation of the first issue:

"... [Mary Jane is] an adrenaline junkie with bizarre taste. So bizarre, in fact, that I have to wonder who this book is really for. Let’s think about what she’s after here. What is Spider-Man?

"He’s the archetypal adolescent male power fantasy.

"And Mary Jane is, of course, the archetypal adolescent male sex fantasy. She’s the hot girl who desperately wants to date the 'empowered' dork that all us un-datable dorks so desperately wished we could be.

"This book is clearly NOT female romantic fantasy — it’s male romantic fantasy, but told from the point of view of the fantasy’s object. I submit as evidence the fact that while I thought the book was decent, if not my thing, my wife openly hated it. What we have here is a dating comic for adolescent guys. I don’t know if there’s a market for that. But I kinda want there to be."

Platinum, Top Cow team up: Platinum Studios and Top Cow Productions have announced an exclusive deal in which Platinum will develop the publisher's properties for film and television.

But I'm puzzled by this sentence: "Marc Silvestri’s Top Cow Productions, Inc., is the #1 independent comics publisher." What does that mean? I realize it's typical hyperbole, but how did they arrive at that conclusion?

Conversations with Crumb: notes that University of Mississippi Press has published R. Crumb: Conversations, a 240-page collection of interviews with Robert Crumb.

Review revue: New York Press reviews Seth's Clyde Fans: Book One.

Drawing from experience: The Salem (Ore.) Statesman Journal covers a cartooning workshop for kids held by Steve Lieber at the Woodburn Public Library:

"The most rewarding thing for me (now) is telling my own stories. I'm lucky enough that I get to do that."

Girl power? The Kansas City Star looks at the increasing number of female heroes in comics, television and movies:

"In the past, women were often created as counterpoints, love interests or foes for stronger, leading male characters, says Maggie Thompson, editor of The Comics Buyer’s Guide, the longest-running publication about comic books."

Here's Marvel's Joe Quesada: "I don’t think this new movement of leading female heroines will phase out. The characters have to reflect the world we live in, not just here at Marvel, but everywhere."

The article also contains a chronology of "boundary breakers," highlighting the first appearances of Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Sailor Moon, Buffy and others.

Comics, in focus: Canada's Vancouver Sun highlights an unusual exhibit at the Presentation House Gallery devoted to the depiction of cameras in comic books.

India's original superheroes: Who needs Spider-Man and Superman? The Bombay Times says India already has its own superhero culture -- a rich mythology:

"It would appear that the reason why Americans thrive on modern day comic book heroes is they have no mythology to dip into, for tales about people performing fantastic feats.

"But we can draw parallels between the two cultures in a vague comic book sort of way. How? Well, Action Comics launched Superman, who was rescued from a doomed planet and brought up by foster parents. Amar Chitra Katha brought out Krishna, who too as a child was rescued from an evil uncle and brought up by foster parents. Both wowed the elders with their extraordinary abilities.

"On the other hand, if Spiderman had to fight Doc Ock with his eight tentacles, Rama fought a ten-headed Ravana. But there ends the similarities. For, unlike the Supermans and Batmans of the world, our superheroes don't have to wear their underwears on the outside."

But how much for a cot in the hall? The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the city's hotel-room rates for this weekend have skyrocketed because of a "Super Bowl-like demand for lodging" triggered by Comic-Con International, the Acura Tennis Classic and the opening weekend at Del Mar Race Track.

The Super 8 Motel and the Holiday Inn Express in Mission Valley are going for $667 a night. The Empress Hotel of La Jolla is a hefty $1,000. But a room at the Ramada Inn & Conference Center on Kearny Mesa Road can be yours for just $503 a night.

Pooling their resources: Comic Book Resources and Newsarama have announced they'll join forces in their coverage of Comic-Con International:

"During the convention, visitors to either Comic Book Resources or Newsarama will be able to easily navigate to coverage both on the target or complimentary site through links. Also, for the duration of the show, [Jonah] Weiland and [Matt] Brady will contribute to each others’ site."

Comic-Con coverage begins today.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Crunching numbers: Newsarama talks with publisher Dan Buckley about Marvel's May numbers, variant covers and areas for improvement:
"First and foremost, we need to improve on keeping the sales momentum we generate from these events like X-Men Reload. Second, is figuring out the best way to make sure that the perceived lower tier books that are getting rave reviews -- like District X and She-Hulk -- find a home in this marketplace."

WWE and Marvel get ready to rumble: Pro Wrestling Insider passes along word that World Wrestling Entertainment has sued Marvel in an attempt to maintain the rights to the name "Hulk Hogan," which the WWE originally licensed in 1985 after the publisher claimed Terry Bollea's ring pseudonym infringed on the Incredible Hulk. Marvel contends the agreement expired this month, but the WWE claims it owns the rights until March 2005.
(The Los Angeles Times' Calendar Live section also contains a story on this, but it's viewable by pay subscribers only. Anyone have a Calendar Live subscription?)

From the Top: Comic Book Resources chats with Top Shelf Productions' Chris Staros about the eight projects the publisher will debut at Comic-Con International:
"Well, so many great projects came to fruition this year that the summer ended up being our biggest release season ever. With our printing bills between April and July alone topping $200,000 -- yee-gads! -- this summer is definitely our biggest gamble yet. But these eight books, combined with the three recent Alan Moore/Top Shelf editions of From Hell, Voice Of The Fire and The Mirror Of Love, were so strong, that it was definitely a gamble worth taking. Of course, the fans and retailers will ultimately let us know whether we'll be paying off these printing bills in a timely manner … ahem."
Staros also addresses the financial crisis Top Shelf faced just over two years ago:
"To tell the truth, I'm not exactly sure how we've survived. I guess getting up every morning and working 12-14 hours a day, seven days a week, helps. Setting up at eighteen conventions a year to meet all the fans personally doesn't hurt either. Simultaneously working several fronts: the direct market, the book trade, and convention/website sales is also a key factor. And, of course, being lucky enough to publish a few really successful books, like From Hell and Blankets -- which have helped improve our brand recognition -- is all a part of it, too.

"Almost all of the publishers I know have invested every penny they could save and borrow to get their operations off the ground and sustain them. And even after years of publishing, they'd all be hard pressed to say that they've recouped any of those financial investments. This is an industry propped up by love, and love alone. It's something you throw yourself into because you want it to be your life, not because you think a paycheck is there. And so, no matter what hardships there are, these people and this industry will survive, because the love of comics is not something that's going to go away."

Hitting the market: Drawn & Quarterly has announced that Farrar, Straus & Giroux will distribute its titles in the U.S. book market beginning in January. Here's Drawn & Quarterly's Chris Oliveros:
"We are extremely pleased that a company as venerable as FSG recognizes the literary merit of our titles and the potential in representing our graphic novels to the US book trade. As we publish the best in literary graphic novels and FSG publishes the best of literary fiction, nonfiction, poetry and children¹s books, retailers as well readers will benefit from the alliance."
UPDATE: Publishers Weekly (subscription required) also chimes in on the story.

Retailer rampage: At, retailers are all abuzz over Free Comic Book Day, Marvel subscription ads, and translating movie success into actual comics sales.
Joe Krolik of Comics America, on FCBD: "... The most popular item: The Tokyopop Sampler.  Most folks couldn't believe that a book of that size was free.
"My comment to publishers, if Tokyopop is willing to make such a great book-sized sampler completely free to retailers, why shouldn't the other publishers make their offerings completely free?  Tokyopop got it right.  Since the event, we have seen return business from fully two thirds of those from the 'never-befores,' as well as several new customers who got word-of-mouth.  That's the idea of the program.  Who cares about regular collectors getting full sets of the books?  We want NEW READERS.  New readers mean new customers... potentially REGULAR customers, and the younger the better because that's the future of our marketplace."
Anthony Furfferi of Empire Comics, on subscription ads: "I never understood why retailers complain about Marvel Comics doing this and that; where was it ever etched in stone that Marvel Comics owed comics book specialty shops anything?  Did you all forget that you choose to sell the products in your stores?  You're not 'Marvel Comics Stores' so stop thinking you are and stop acting like they owe you anything.
"The single copy issues of Marvel Comics are theirs to insert ANYTHING they choose to and that includes subscription inserts and any forms of ads they want.  It makes total sense to me why Marvel Comics does what they do at times, but I must admit some of their moves in recent years leave me scratching my head.  BUT, if anyone thinks griping and whining is going to make Marvel comics change good luck.  It's as simple as this: it's a big monster that gives us milk and eggs and yes, we all would like to slay them at some time or another."
Tim Davis of Alternate Reality, on the movies: "As of this writing Spider-Man 2 has made somewhere in the neighborhood of a quarter of a billion dollars in two weeks of release.  So far my take has been approximately $10.00 to $15.00 in guaranteed trickle down money from the film.  ... If every independent comic book store in the country (9,000 last I heard) made an average of  $15.00 extra income due to this film, that would be a whopping average of $135,000 dollars nation-wide we raked in from our Spider-Man 2 trickle down.  ...
"... Next summer Marvel's Distinguished Competition will have a movie in theaters that could be as big as Spider-Man 2 is this year -- Batman Begins is less than a year away. ... DC has always been good at long form multi-part Batman stories.  'No-Man's Land', 'Knightfall', 'Hush', 'Contagion' are just a few DC's done over the last decade.  "Bruce Wayne Murderer" and the upcoming 'War Games' were/are both kicked off with a 10/12 cent prologue story.  In the case of 'Bruce Wayne Murder' it was a cliffhanger that set up readers with a storyline that began the next week.
"What if DC did a multi-part 'Batman Event' storyline that began with a FREE giveaway comic available only at movie theaters when a patron bought a ticket to the film.  The giveaway ends with a cliffhanger that would continue in the Batman comic that shipped that opening week of the film.  DC or Warner's could negotiate with theater chains (bypassing the filmmakers) to carry the book and stores that wanted to participate in this promotion could pay for part of the book's production (just like we do for FCBD).  Since we would pick up part of the freight for this promotion, participating stores in that theater's zip code could have their names and address printed somewhere on the comic pointing them to where readers could get the 'Next Thrilling Chapter' of this story."