Robot 6

Comics A.M. | Comic Relief’s closing ‘imminent’; the year in digital comics

Comic Relief

Retailing | Berkeley, Calif., institution Comic Relief, opened in 1987 by the late Rory Root, “faces imminent closure” as it reportedly hemorrhages customers and grapples with cash-flow problems that led to the temporary loss of its account with Diamond Comic Distributors. According to an article in the East Bay Express, the store could be purchased by one of Root’s relatives, who would revive the name and retain the staff. Or it could be closed and reopen in another location in January.

However, Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson argues that rescue by Root’s family is unlikely, as they already own Comic Relief: “A seemingly never-ending series of colossal blunders by Rory’s family have put the store on life support, and now the store is a shell of what it once was. Comic Relief hasn’t received new product in weeks. For anyone even the least bit familiar with the business of selling comics, it should be vodka clear: No new books means no business. No business means no store. And far from being some sort of solution to the store’s troubles, the Roots are actually the cause. They took the store over against Rory’s wishes and have run it into the ground with such force, you’d think they were blasting for oil.” [East Bay Express]

Legal | A Japanese publishing group has vowed to fight Tokyo’s newly passed ordinance further restricting the sale of manga and anime containing “extreme” depictions of sexual acts. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Panelfly's app on iPhone and iPad

Digital comics | Xaviar Xerexes plays host to a 2010 digital comics roundtable with Brigid Alverson, Lary Cruz, Lauren Davis, Brian Heater, Heidi MacDonald, Rick Marshall and Gary Tyrrell. “What’s important for digital is, I think, for comics publishers to actually glimpse the future, something not a lot of them are able to do,” MacDonald says. “I don’t mean that entirely as a slam — comics is traditionally a chronically underfunded industry, and it sometimes takes money to ride into the future. Unfortunately, in the Bronze/Chromium/Platinum ages of comics, few publishers have really thought about getting the next generation of readers. Digital comics are going to be the primary exposure for future generations of comics readers — that is until we run out of energy and go back to an agrarian pantheistic society living with torches. One thing publishers need to do is just stop hemming and hawing and go for it, making their catalogs available and so on. The marketplace is going to change – and people are going to HAVE TO CHANGE WITH IT. That’s something I face in my business every day. The idea of a secure business model is gone.” [ComixTalk]

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Broadway | Director Julie Taymor says she’s “happy” that the opening of the musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has been delayed again until sometime in February: “The creator of The Lion King on Broadway and the Oscar-nominated movie Frida says that with the holidays and cast absences, there were only ’17 hours left to work until January 11th. It wasn’t enough time’.” [Showbiz411]

Conventions | Last weekend’s Singapore Toy, Games & Comic Convention drew nearly 30,000 people. [The Star]

Creators | Mark Millar landed the top spot on The List’s “Hot 100,” a rundown of “Scots who’ve made a sizeable creative splash in 2010.” Grant Morrison was No. 33. [The List]

Lynda Barry

Creators | Lynda Barry talks at length about What Is This: The Near-Sighted Monkey Book, the end of her comic strip Ernie Pook’s Comeek and much more. [The A.V. Club]

Creators | While at last weekend’s Singapore Toy, Games & Comic Convention, David Lloyd chats briefly about V for Vendetta. [The Star]

Comics | Tucker Stone looks back at “the year in stank”: “You know the titles. Cry For Justice. Rise of Arsenal. Batman Odyssey. That X-Men comic where Nightcrawler got his chest split open in full computer tracing glory. The comics that you weren’t supposed to read, that by purchasing you were pretty much saying ‘as many more of these as you perverts can come up with.’ Comics about the most degrading ridiculousness you can imagine (my kid is dead! I can’t get an erection!) laced in the sort of earnestness you usually have to buy DMZ to get ahold of, drawn by people whose eyes must have been locked to the clock when they weren’t vomiting in wastebaskets. This was the year where the worm turned, and those of us who bought crap by design — because it made us laugh — sobered up and realized that we’d actually become a target demographic. [comiXology]

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Sad about Comic Relief, that was a great store when I was growing up in the Bay.

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