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Steve Rude reveals ‘Adventures of Superman’ cover, backstory

rude-adventures1 Steve Rude has debuted the painted cover for his upcoming collaboration with Jerry Ordway on DC Comics’ digital-first Adventures of Superman — a 10-page story featuring none other than OMAC.

In his fan newsletter, the veteran article explained that his editor offered him several scripts, “but it wasn’t until we settled on something specifically catered to ‘The Dude Mentality’ — with characters most memorable to the 60′s and 70′s –  that things finally clicked. And what would fit the Dude mentality? How ’bout OMAC? Of the One Man Army Corps? As created by the great Jack Kirby back in ’75?”

But how did Rude connect with Ordway, well known for his runs as both an artist and a writer on DC’s The Adventures of Superman print series?

“Jerry submitted his script and we all loved it,” Rude said of his DC Digital First debut. “And after a hour or two of of finely tuned script discussion over the phone one afternoon, he and I were able to up the dramatics even further on the cool-meter.”

As for that cover: “Finally, I should mention that though DC’s budget didn’t permit the rates normally required by the Dude to paint this issues cover – I painted it anyway. Such sacrifices does one make in the name of proper presentation.”

Ordway and Rude’s Adventures of Superman story, “Seeds of Destruction,” is scheduled to premiere April 14 at DC Digital First.

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Marvel kicks off SXSW with Marvel Unlimited 99-cent deal

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To help promote its presence at South by Southwest, which begins Friday in Austin, Texas, Marvel is offering readers access to Marvel Unlimited during March for just 99 cents.

The publisher’s digital subscription service allows users to access more than 15,000 classic and newer comics on their desktop browser or through the Marvel Unlimited app. A monthly membership normally costs $9.99; a basic annual subscription costs $69.

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Ordway and Rude team for ‘Adventures of Superman’ story

Art by Jon Bogdanove

Art by Jon Bogdanove

DC Comics has announced a new lineup for its digital-first series Adventures of Superman that includes a collaboration between veterans Jerry Ordway and Steve Rude.

No stranger to the Man of Steel, Ordway was a staple of DC in the 1980s and ’90s known for his runs as artist, writer-artist and then writer of The Adventures of Superman and writer-artist of Superman. And while mostly closely associated with his own Nexus, Rude also has a past with the Last Son of Krypton: He illustrated the 1990 miniseries World’s Finest and the 1999 crossover The Incredible Hulk vs. Superman.

Ordway and Rude’s story, “Seed of Destruction,” appears April 14.

The other creators in the March and April lineup are: Joe Keatinge, Ming Doyle and Brent Schoonover with “Strange Visitor,” Part 1; Keatinge, Doyle, David Williams and Al Gordon with “Strange Visitor,” Part 2; Keatinge, Tula Lotay and Jason Shawn Alexander with “Strange Visitor,” Part 3; Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro with the one-part “Mystery Box”; and Steve Niles and Matthew Dow Smith with the one-part “Ghosts of Krypton.”

New chapters of Adventures of Superman are available each Monday at DC Digital First.

The fatal flaw in Diamond Digital

Diamond DigitalDiamond Comic Distributors’ digital comics program, Diamond Digital, will shut down on Friday, although titles purchased through the service will continue to be available via iVerse’s Comics Plus app.

The news broke Friday at The Hollywood Reporter, where Graeme McMillan picked up on an email sent to retailers two weeks ago. The stated reason: “18 months after its launch, results indicate that Diamond Digital has not gained enough traction in the marketplace to continue.”

There are a lot of reasons why Diamond Digital didn’t work, but I think chief among them is the initial concept was flawed. The idea wasn’t to provide readers with a simple, easy-to-use digital comics service; it was to protect brick-and-mortar retailers by providing them with a digital comics service that wouldn’t compete with them. That drive to avoid competition resulted in a clunky and almost-unusable platform. Meanwhile, comiXology took a different tack and expanded the comics market, bringing in new readers — who then found their way to comics shops and bought print comics.

Of course, the biggest problem operationally was that Diamond Digital catered to a market dominated by Marvel and DC but didn’t carry single-issue comics from either publisher. And granted, that is a huge flaw.

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Top Shelf goes DRM-free and adds digital-print bundles

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Top Shelf Productions, home to some very successful graphic novels — among them, March and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen — has announced it will make its graphic novels available digitally as DRM-free direct downloads. That’s something readers say they want, and it’s a model that Image Comics has already implemented.

Digital readers have been clamoring for this sort of thing on message boards and in comments sections for some time, although it remains to be seen whether the warm feeling of absolute ownership that comes with a DRM-free PDF trumps the convenience of cloud storage, easy syncing and Guided View offered by comiXology. As a matter of fact, Top Shelf’s Chris Ross and comiXology’s John Roberts discussed this very point in July at Comic-Con International and found a surprising amount of common ground.

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Yang and Liew’s ‘The Shadow Hero’ to get digital serialization

ShadowHero-Ecover-1-rgbGene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew’s The Shadow Hero will be serialized digitally each month by First Second beginning Feb. 18.

The upcoming graphic novel crafts a new origin for the Green Turtle, an obscure Golden Age character believed to have been imagined as Chinese-American by his creator Chu Hing — making him the very first Asian-American superhero.

“His publishers didn’t think that would fly in the marketplace,” Yang explained last year, “so Chu Hing reacted in this really passive-aggressive way: He drew those original Green Turtle comics so that we never see the hero’s face. Whenever the hero is on a panel, we almost always just see his cape. Whenever he is turned around, something is blocking his face. [...] Rumor is that Chu Hing did this so he could imagine his hero as he originally intended, as a Chinese-American.”

In The Shadow Hero, the Green Turtle is envisioned as a young Asian-American immigrant whose mother is excited about having a superhero for a son, “with at times disastrous results.”

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Marvel extends international reach with Global Comics app

photoWhether you’re looking to read Amazing Spider-Man in Korean or Avengers in Hindi, it just got a whole lot easier to purchase translated versions of Marvel Comics: The publisher released the “Marvel Global Comics” app on Thursday, a partnership (described as a “multi-year agreement”) with iVerse offering digital versions of some of their most popular stories in 12 different languages: Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Given the popularity of Marvel’s characters worldwide — last year’s Iron Man 3 made $806.4 million in foreign box office, The Avengers even more — it’s not surprising to see the company try to increase their international appeal on the publishing front.

“Marvel has incredible fans all around the world, and we’re excited to bring digital comics to their mobile devices in their native languages,” Marvel’s Kristin Vincent, vice president of digital products, said in a statement. “This partnership with iVerse allows us to introduce Marvel’s rich history of action-packed stories to new audiences worldwide who want to know more about the Avengers, Spider-Man, Wolverine and the rest of the vast Marvel Universe.”

The deal further raises iVerse’s profile in the digital comics arena; the digital distributor has previously partnered with publishers including Top Cow, Viz, Archie Comics and Lion Forge. “We are lifelong fans of Marvel — their characters and their content,” iVerse CEO Michael Murphey said in Marvel’s press release. “It’s truly an honor to be able to partner with them to bring this spectacular content to the world on as many platforms as possible.”

Among the initial series available on the app are major events like Civil War, House of MInfinity Gauntlet and Fear Itself; plus issues of ongoing series like New Avengers and Invincible Iron Man. The app is currently only available on Apple iOS devices, but Marvel’s says additional platforms are “tentatively scheduled” for later this year. The app is free and available now.


Tim Gibson introduces standalone prequel to ‘Moth City’

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Great characters and great stories don’t come out of nowhere. They have a beginning, and sometime the lives they led before they’re introduced are just as interesting as who they are when me meet them.

Movie effects artist-turned-cartoonist Tim Gibson has created a whole new world for himself with Moth City. Described as “Game of Thrones-y” but with kung fu and 1930s crime noir, the digital series has attracted much interest, as well as high praise from the likes of Mark Waid. And next week Gibson will release a one-shot prelude to Moth City titled The Reservoir, focused on the Deadwood-ian primary character Governor McGaw when he was nothing more an an entrepreneurial young buck in the Texas oil boom of the early 1900s.

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ComiXology reveals 51% of its users are outside U.S.

ComiXology logoFifty-one percent of comiXology users are outside the United States, the New York City-based company revealed overnight. The announcement was accompanied by a global heat map (below) illustrating the popularity of the digital comics platform by country.

Following last week’s news that comiXology was the top-grossing non-games iPad app last year in the United States, the company added that it’s the top-grossing iPad book app in France, Belgium, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom. It’s also currently the No. 1 iOS book app in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, India, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, The Philippines and other countries.

ComiXology expanded its international reach in 2013 with the opening of a Paris-based European division, followed by distribution agreements with French publishers Delcourt, Glénat and a dozen others, as well as with Viz Media Europe.

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ComiXology was top-grossing non-game iPad app in 2013

comiXology

comiXology

ComiXology was the top-grossing non-game iPad app in the iTunes App Store in 2013, coming in at No. 11, just ahead of The New York Times. They were the only non-game apps to crack the Top 20.

In addition, the digital-comics platform announced it has served more than 6 billion pages — that figure includes both paid and free — since its launch four years ago. ComiXology trumpeted 2 billion pages just slightly more than a year ago.

“In a billion-dollar marketplace with competition between over a million apps, it’s gratifying to rank as the Top Grossing non-game iPad App in the entire iTunes App Store,” comiXology CEO David Steinberger said in a statement. “This past year has been a great year for comics and comiXology!”

Last year saw the company further expand its industry domination with distribution deals with the likes of UDON Entertainment, Viz Media Europe, Avatar Press, and 15 French publishers, partnered with eBay, and introduced gift cards. In October, comiXology also released findings from a survey that found its female readership has grown from 5 percent to 20 percent.

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Oni’s ‘Down Set Fight’ gets early release on comiXology

Down! Set! Fight!

A month before it’s scheduled to arrive in stores, the Oni Press graphic novel Down Set Fight is debuting digitally today on comiXology.

The publisher revealed this morning that the book, by co-writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers and artist Scott Kowalchuk, will be serialized weekly on the digital comics platform in six installments, priced at $1.99 each, bringing readers to the Feb. 12 release of the print edition.

Announced at New York Comic Con 2012, Down Set Fight follows the adventures of fallen football star Chuck Fairlane in his cross-country battle against an army of mascots gone mad. Here’s the official description:

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Color art from Jock & Max Landis’ ‘Adventures of Superman’ tale

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Jock has debuted what I believe is the first look at color art from his upcoming Adventures of Superman collaboration with Chronicle screenwriter Max Landis. The Eisner Award-winning artist released an inked page from the two-part story, titled “The Sound of One Hand Clapping,” last month.

As the two pages indicate, it’s poised to be a rather nontraditional Superman tale, as it pits the Man of Steel against the Clown Prince of Crime, who usually busies himself with a more grounded nemesis.

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Take a sneak peek at Monkeybrain’s January titles

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Monkeybrain Comics has provided ROBOT 6 with sneak peeks at its January titles: Anti-Hero #6, The Army of Dr. Moreau #3, Bandette #6, Copernicus Jones: Robot Detective #1, D4VE #2, Edison Rex #13, Red Light Properties #7: Golden Palms Part I, Strange Nation #4 and Theremin #4.

All titles will be available for purchase from comiXology.com.

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8-bit heroics in Matthew Ritter’s ‘Nova Phase’

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Comics and video games. Chances are if you like one, you like the other to some degree. And if that’s the case, a lovingly old-school graphics to an upcoming comic series might hit that sweet spot and win you over.

Writer Matthew Ritter and artist Adam Elbahtimy’s Nova Phase is a six-issue seriescoming by way of SLG Publishing that uses the nostalgic 8-bit pixelated graphics to create a new sci-fi story. Described by Ritter as “full of pixel art, adventure and crushed dreams,” Nova Phase will premiere in January as a digital-first release through comiXology, with subsequent issues released monthly and a print collections of the first two issues in February.

Nova Phase is a treasure hunt through the blackness of space, with these pixelated heroes and villains going after one goal: a mythical world bearing untold wealth called Una Tesara. On one side is a down-on-her-luck bounty hunter named Veronica Darkwater, who’s vying for the treasure  with a crazy military commander seemingly pulled straight out of the original Metal Gear or Bionic Commando.

So suit up, commandos! Here’s an extensive preview provided by the creators to get you dialed in.

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Image integrates its DRM-free comics with Dropbox

image-dropboxImage Comics has partnered with Dropbox to allow customers to download DRM-free titles purchased on the publisher’s website to the cloud-storage service. That means readers with Dropbox accounts will be able to easily view their Image libraries across computers and mobile devices.

“Now, when viewing your comics collection on the Image Website, you’ll see a ‘Save to Dropbox’ button,” Image explained. “Click that, log in to your Dropbox account, and your comics are automatically saved to the folder of your choice.  Once your comics have been saved, you can view them the integrated Dropbox Reader or open in your choice of digital comic reader apps on your iPad, Nexus, Kindle Fire, smartphone, laptop, or any of your digital comics reading devices.”

Image began offering DRM-free downloads in July, selling high-quality PDFs, CBRs, CBZs and ePub formats of new comics through its online storefront, with no restrictions on sharing or copying. It’s the first major U.S. comics publisher to do so.

Dropbox accounts begin with 2GB of storage, but can be expanded to as much as 16GB by referring friends. Pro plans start at $9.99 a month for 100 GB of storage.


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