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Comic Books, Video Games
Music | Daniel Auerbach, half of the blues/rock duo The Black Keys, is creating a soundtrack album to go with the new comic book miniseries Murder Ballads, which publisher Z2 Comics describes as a “rock ’n’ roll noir story about the music industry and redemption.” The comic, by Gabe Soria and Paul Reinwand, will debut later this year. [Vulture]
The saga of the Grand Prix d’Angouleme has taken another sour turn, as one of three finalists for the festival’s top honor has asked people not to vote for her.
French illustrator Claire Wendling said she doesn’t want the Angouleme International Comics Festival award, writing on Facebook, “Would you like to please me? Don’t vote for me any more.”
Publishing | Viz Media has struck separate agreements that will expand the number of manga titles it sells at Walmart and bring its books to Best Buy for the first time. Under the Walmart deal, bestsellers Tokyo Ghoul, Pokeman, One Punch Man and the new Naruto one-shots will be available in more than 2,000 of the retailer’s locations across the United States. Under the Best Buy agreement, two Naruto titles and Assassination Classroom will be packaged with their respective anime and featured in floor displays at 687 locations. [Publishers Weekly]
Comics | The comics industry has undergone seismic changes in the past few years, and Heidi MacDonald rounds up some recent comments from retailers and pundits about what they’re seeing. It’s a good read that leads to many other good reads, but here’s the takeaway: “ The real issue — one that many people in the industry may have trouble dealing with — is that the comics audience has changed. They didn’t get into comics during the first run of the Ultimate universe. They didn’t come in with the original 52 mini series or Final Crisis. They probably didn’t even start with the New 52. The methods and product mixes that were formulated to deal with a readership that grew up when comics were a niche product for nerds have to be reevaluated when new readers are coming in from the top properties in every form of entertainment, from graphic novels that they were taught in school, from webcomics, from creators with strong social media, from every which way. There is no well marked four lane highway to comics any more, just a delightful variety of roads, interstates and worn down dirt paths.” [The Beat]
Awards | Adding to a list of recent honors that includes a National Book Award and a MacArthur “genius grant,” author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates has been nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism for his acclaimed memoir Between the World and Me. Coates is collaborating with artist Brian Stelfreeze on Marvel’s new Black Panther series, which debuts in April. [The New York Times]
Creators | Comics-industry pundit Rob Salkowitz looks at the resurgence of interest in Jack Kirby, who has posthumously received credit (and pay) for the work he created over the years for Marvel Comics: “For decades, the story of how everyone made a fortune off the work of this visionary creator except for Kirby himself – who until his final days toiled to eke out financial security for his family – stood as one of the most egregious injustices in an industry distinguished by its ill-treatment of creative talent. Now, as we approach his centenary in 2017, the man that Stan Lee nicknamed ‘King of the Comics’ is finally starting to get his due in the wider world of art, culture and commerce.” [Forbes]
Manga | Kodansha Comics will bundle DVDs of the first and second episodes of the anime Attack on Titan: No Regrets with the U.S. release of special editions of the 18th and 19th volumes of the Attack on Titan manga, respectively. The company also revealed a variant cover for the special edition of Vol. 18 drawn by Cameron Stewart (Batgirl, Catwoman). Attack on Titan: No Regrets is adapted from the spinoff manga of the same name, a prequel to the main series that tells the story of Captain Levi and Commander Erwin. In Japan, the two DVDs were bundled with volumes 15 and 16 of Attack on Titan. [Anime News Network]
Political cartoons | The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is in the headlines again, this time because of a cartoon that asks “What would little Aylan have become if he grew up? A groper of buttocks in Germany.” The cartoon shows two lecherous men running after women; in an inset is a drawing of the famous photograph of the body of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, who drowned off the coast of Turkey while fleeing Syria. The cartoon refers to reports that large numbers of men who appeared to be Arab robbed and sexually assaulted women in several German cities during the New Year’s celebrations. While many critics accused the magazine of racism, others countered that the cartoon is a commentary on how quickly European public opinion has swung from sympathy to xenophobia. The cartoon was drawn by Charlie Hebdo staffer Laurent “Riss” Sourisseau, who survived the deadly January 2015 attack on the magazine’s Paris offices.[CNN]
Collecting | For the better part of three decades, 78-year-old Ray Brown has been “rescuing” comic books and giving them a good home — namely, his. The South Dakota man estimates his collection includes some 75,000 comics, the bulk of which he purchased from five Rapid City-area stores that went out of business. “They take up a lot of room,” he says. “They don’t eat anything, though.” Brown doesn’t read them, however; instead he simply takes pleasure in saving them from the trash bin. He does sell a few on the Internet from time to time, but he’s in no hurry to get rid them. [Black Hills Fox]
Retailing | Kansas City retailer B-Bop Comics is offering a complete collection of Marvel comics, from Fantastic Four #1 (published in 1961) through all books published in 2015, for $200,000. The set, which doesn’t include any comics from Marvel predecessors Atlas and Timely, was put together by a collector who bought most of the comics as they were released. B-Bop is offering them as a complete set until next month; if they don’t sell in that format, the retailer will offer them individually, which will probably bring in more money. The set includes between 32,000 and 34,000 comics, housed in 106 longboxes, plus some boxes of books of various sizes. [ICv2]
It’s all over now but the voting. After a whirlwind of controversy, commentary and boycotts, the organizers of the Angouleme International Comics Festival withdrew their all-male slate of nominees for the Grand Prix, the festival’s top prize (and one of the most prestigious awards in all of comics) and said the voters could choose anyone they want. All creators who publish works in France are eligible to vote
Franck Bondoux, the festival’s executive director, published a “mea culpa” in the French newspaper Le Monde, calling the omission of women from the list of nominees a “symbolic error.” He accused the media of confusing the Grand Prix, which looks at 10 years or more of a creator’s work, with the festival’s book awards, which recognize graphic novels published in the past year. In that regard, the festival is ahead of its time, he maintained, as 25 percent of the nominated books are by women, who only make up 13 percent of creators in France, and women are well represented in the festival’s exhibits and book awards.
But then he doubled down on the “no women in comics history” argument:
Awards | Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl, a graphic novel about a middle-schooler who joins a roller derby team that changes her life, was one of three children’s books named Newbery Honor Books over the weekend by the American Library Association during its midwinter meeting. The John Newbery Medal is given each year to the “most distinguished” children’s book published the previous year, and the Newbery Honor Books are basically the runners-up. Three other graphic novels were Honor Books in different categories: Liz Suburbia’s Sacred Heart won an Alex Award, given to adult novels with teen appeal; Written and Drawn by Henrietta, by Liniers, was a Mildred Batchelder Honor Book, which recognizes books originally published in languages other than English; and Don Brown’s Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans was a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book, a category that recognizes excellence in nonfiction young adult books. [Publishers Weekly]
Comics | Wim Lockefeer translates and digests the annual report of the ACBD, the French association of comics journalists, which reveals that Asterix continues to rule the roost: The latest album had a print run of 2.25 million, dwarfing the next largest, Titeuf, with 550,000. Overall, sales are up 3.5 percent, but some of the old standards — like Asterix — are down from their historical peaks. Oh, and relevant to the recent debate involving Angouleme: The report lists about 1,400 active comics creators in France and French-speaking Switzerland and Belgium, of whom only 173 are women. [Forbidden Planet]
I was an art student in 1979 when Germaine Greer’s The Obstacle Race was published. As it happened, most of the art majors that year were women, and we all read the book and spent late nights in our studios discussing it. Women had been completely absent from our art history courses, and Greer’s book opened our eyes to that fact and the reasons behind it — not a lack of talent, but a lack of recognition and encouragement — and often the deliberate placement of obstacles.
That wasn’t difficult to believe. The university I attended had only admitted women for five years and limited them to 25 percent of the student body at the time.
Conventions | ReedPOP Senior Vice President Lance Fensterman looks back at New York Comic Con 2015, which drew 167,000 people over four days; the increase came from making Thursday a full day, he says. Fensterman also offers some thoughts on conventions in general, saying the market is starting to become saturated, but not in terms of fans, who will always go to a cool show: “I think the saturation is more so on the side of content, and by content, I mean exhibitors, brands, guests, studios,” he says. “They don’t need that many shows.” Dealers will always show up, but, Fensterman says, “Fans don’t want to pay a ticket price to come in to spend money. There needs to be content that is engaging, exciting and unique. And there’s a limited quantity on that.” [ICv2]
Angouleme International Comics Festival this morning responded to mounting backlash to its men-only pool of nominees for the Grand Prix with a revised shortlist that included six women creators — only to promptly remove it. Now organizers have announced they won’t propose any names for the festival’s lifetime achievement award, and will instead allow academy members to vote for whomever they like.