Disney is under fire from a conservative Washington, D.C., think tank for opposing a plan that would allow casino developers to build massive resorts in South Florida, all while the entertainment giant licenses its Marvel comics superheroes to gambling websites.
The Institute for Liberty, an opponent of healthcare reform that characterizes itself as “an aggressive defender of the rights of individuals to pursue the American dream,” has launched a television ad called “Disney’s Dark Side” that accuses the company of hypocrisy: Although the House of Mouse contends it’s “protecting Florida’s family-friendly image,” IFL argues it’s more concerned with these resorts encroaching on Walt Disney World’s market share.
“The truth?” the TV spot’s narrator says. “Disney’s so-called family-friendly image includes profiting from licensing comic book characters to online casinos.”
That’s certainly true. An online search for “Marvel casino slots” brings up countless results — including, plainly enough, Marvel Slots, which provides information on games featuring Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Hulk, Captain America, Ghost Rider and Fantastic Four. Blade, Daredevil and Elektra also have their own slots (as you can see in the image above). Of course, it’s not only Marvel: Warner Bros.-owned DC Comics has a deal with Cryptologic for online slots featuring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Sandman, Watchmen and Green Lantern, among others. There’s also one based on Mike Mignola’s Hellboy.
But neither Warner Bros. nor Dark Horse has a dog, or a resort, in the South Florida casino fight. You can watch the TV spot below.
Marvel offered a $5 coupon, good on Marvel titles at a participating retailer, to anyone who bought a comic through the publisher’s digital app on Saturday, and in the interest of research, I gave it a try. It all worked pretty smoothly. I bought my comic, and yesterday I got an e-mail with a link and a download code. The only thing I didn’t like was that it locks you in to a particular retailer: After inputting my download code, I was prompted to enter my ZIP code. I was then presented with a list of the three nearest retailers (two were the same shop, though — bad coding, someone!). I don’t frequent those shops, and I would much rather have used the code in a Boston or Cambridge store, but I couldn’t see any way to go back and change the ZIP code (although John Jakala seems to have done it, so maybe that’s just me). Johanna Draper Carlson was rather dubious about this offer, especially the fact that there is no way to know the retailers in advance, and I have to say, that was the only thing I didn’t like about this promotion.
Aside from that, it was painless. There was one more click to download the PDF of the coupon, and I was good to go.
The offer came with some peculiar caveats. It was only good in the United States, and only for comics purchased through Marvel’s iOS apps — Android and Chrome users need not apply. I don’t really get the reasons for those restrictions, but perhaps there are some levers that have to be pulled behind the scenes that only work under those conditions.
What is Marvel up to here? The press release seems to go both ways, with one Marvel executive saying this is a great way to get people to sample the publisher’s digital wares, and another pointing to it as a way to benefit comics stores. The Marvel app requires a separate login and password from the standard comiXology app, even though they are built on the same platform, so maybe they are trying to get people to go through that extra step to join up with the branded app. Or maybe they are trying to get their digital-only customers to sample the joys of comics shops. Either way, they will be getting me into a shop I don’t usually visit, and I’ll come out ahead on the deal, so I guess it’s a win for all of us.
Publishing | John Jackson Miller takes apart the December sales numbers and finds that while comics were up for the month, graphic novel sales fell just enough to prevent the direct market from having its first up year since 2008. In fact, trades are down 16 percent from December 2010, and Miller spends some time discussing why that might be — and why next year might be different. [The Comichron]
Publishing | Houghton Mifflin has high hopes for Are You My Mother?, the new graphic novel from Fun Home author Alison Bechdel: The publisher plans a first printing of 100,000 copies. [Publishers Weekly]
Retailing | Diamond’s Retailer Summit will be held the two days before the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, with attendees receiving free admission to the April 13-15 convention. [ICv2]
Batman and Detective Comics will expand to 40 pages beginning in April, a move that brings with it back-up stories and a price increase from $2.99 to $3.99, DC Comics announced over the weekend.
Batman #8 will see writer Scott Snyder re-team with American Vampire artist Rafael Albuquerque for the first in a series of back-up stories examining the history of the Court of Owls, the shadowy organization that has plagued the Dark Knight and Gotham City in the first arc of the relaunched comic. Co-written by James Tynion IV, the stories also dovetail into “The Night of the Owls,” a crossover that will launch in May and run through all of DC’s Bat-books.
“The first backup, in issue eight will give a sense of the terrifying scope of the Court of Owls’ attack on Gotham. This really will be the first shot in a war for the soul of Gotham City,” Snyder wrote this morning on DC’s Source blog. “And then, starting in issue nine, we’ll begin a three part story called ‘The Fall of the House of Wayne’ that will investigate the secret history of the Court of Owls and its relationship to the Wayne family – particularly to Thomas and Martha Wayne, Bruce’s parents. The story will be told from the point of view of Jarvis Pennyworth, Alfred’s father, and offer some big surprises and shocks about the forces that shaped the bat-mythology as we know it. Can’t wait for you all to see these stories!”
In a pair of interviews with Newsarama and ICv2, DC’s Executive Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Business Development John Rood and Senior Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne also revealed Detective and Green Lantern will join Action Comics, Batman and Justice League as “combo pack” titles, meaning that for $1 more, readers receive a redemption code allowing them to download a digital version of the comics, leaving the print editions “pristine.”
Check out Albuquerque’s Batman sketches below.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where every week we recap what comics have been on our nightstands recently. To see what the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Fatale #1 arrived on Wednesday, created by the Criminal and Incognito team of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, with colors by Dave Stewart. The supernatural crime story features a modern-day reporter who “stumbles on a secret that leads him down the darkest path imaginable” — into a world of dames and demons.
Brubaker and Phillips have proven to be one of the best teams working in comics today, so this one comes with some high expectations. Did it meet them? Here are a few opinions from around the internet:
David Brothers, ComicsAlliance: “Crime and horror are two genres that don’t generally associate with each other, although they do share a few similarities: sudden bursts of violence and an exploration of something that is wrong at the deepest level. Fatale is more crime comic than horror comic, but it’s the horror touches that make this issue such a treat to read. It succeeds because where crime comics zig, horror comics zag.”
Alan David Doane, Trouble with Comics: “The first-person narration of main character Nicholas Lash feels comfortable and intimate, but the strange things that begin to happen to him unfold so quickly that you’re as disoriented as he is by the way the world turns out from under him. As he immerses himself in a story-within-the-story in the form of a previously unknown manuscript brought to him by a beautiful and mysterious woman who may be much more than she suggests. The scenes depicted from the manuscript really give Phillips a chance to show what he can deliver, as we get a luminously noir scene-setting city street depiction so detailed and visually stunning that it’s also called-out for the issue’s back cover illustration. We see truly creepy thugs reminiscent of The Strangers in Dark City or The Gentlemen in the “Hush” episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but by way of Herge’s Thomson and Thompson. Visually witty but still filled with horror and dread.”
Here’s a great way to end the week–IDW Publishing Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall has been sharing teases of various 2012 IDW projects, and today’s is, literally, quite the score. Coming in May is the third Parker novel adaptation by the great Darwyn Cooke, titled Parker: The Score. It of course follows Cooke’s adaptations of Richard Stark/Donald Westlake’s The Hunter and The Outfit, both of which feature Westlake’s famous Parker character. Can’t wait!
It’s time once again for our annual look at six books that were, for whatever reason, unjustly ignored by the public and critical cognoscenti at large. With all the titles that are published lately, it’s no real surprise that some books fall through the cracks, though in certain cases it seems grossly unwarranted.
After the jump are six books that, while they may not have made my “best of 2011″ list, I think got nowhere near the amount of attention they deserved. There are lots more that I could include if I had the time. I’m sure there are books you read this year that you don’t think got enough praise either. Be sure to let me know what they are in the comments section.
Did you know that there is a U.S. government website to help you complete common New Year’s resolutions? Seriously, take a look; it’s the “U.S. Government’s Official Web Portal” and there’s a lot of benign but helpful info about getting a passport or a story about a wedding dress made out of a parachute, but yeah, in the middle of that is a helpful list of the most common New Year’s resolutions with links to a website or brochure that could offer helpful information and suggestions.
Last year, when I carved my own New Year’s resolutions into internet stone, I was incredibly thankful for the comments left with the list. Helpful and commiserating readers shared ideas on how to succeed, suggestions on what to read and joined in fist-shaking at the lure of Apple products. So while I may not know how much your savings bond has gained interest, I can help out with some simple comic book reading resolutions and hopefully can inspire others to make their own. I also have a kick ass cosplay pic in lieu of a touching WWII wedding tale. So there’s that.
Want to know which resolution I miserably failed at last year? Keep reading, true believers!
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In the wide world of comics there’s always a need for talented people — and not just for creating the comics. The books you read every day are supported by an immense infrastructure of editors, publishers, designers, distributors and retailers that make American comics what it is today. And despite the frail economy, the comics industry is looking for employees.
We’ve compiled a list of all the openings in the comics industry for non-creative office positions and put it all into one place. It’s a good resource if you’re looking to work in comics, and also for armchair speculators seeing what companies are looking to do by seeing what positions they’re hiring for. We accumulated these by looking on publisher websites and job boards — if you know of a job not listed here, let us know!
Comic book rapper Adam WarRock is following up his last project, The Serenity-themed Browncoats Mixtape, with a new album called “You Dare Call That Thing Human?!?” And the comic book reference-filled album’s first single, called “616,” is available now on his website.
The song is jammed pack with all sorts of shout outs to Marvel and DC Comics, from the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants to Wally West’s appetite to, naturally, the Infinity Watch. The new album will be released on Feb. 13 in both digital and disc formats, and will feature notable indie and nerdcore acts MC Lars, Doctor Awkward, Beefy, Dual Core and more. You can listen to “616″ above, or head over to his website to download it for yourself.
Last summer, right before DC relaunched their New 52 titles, a group of creators launched DC Fifty-TOO! and gave various creators the chance to go wild and create covers and concepts for comics they thought should be part of the New 52. And then in October, the blog shifted from DC to Marvel, as creators asked themselves “What if?” and dreamed up relaunched Marvel titles.
And now the site has shifted a second time:
The response and reaction to the DC FIFTY-TOO and MARVEL UNIVERSE TOO:WHAT IF projects has been immense – thousands of folks have found the site, blogged about it, discussed it in their message boards. More than anything else, the blog has attracted dozens and dozens of artists who have expressed interest in submitting their own new covers and story concepts.
Well, they need not wait any longer – beginning in 2012, the DC FIFTY-TOO blog will change its name to RELAUNCHED and will become OPEN TO SUBMISSIONS. You do not need to wrangle an invite or wait for the next themed event, nor do you have to limit yourself to Marvel or DC – you can simply create your own cover and series concept whenever you’d like for whatever property you’d like, and send it directly to us.
Yep, now anyone can submit something to the blog, which is now called Relaunched, just like Charles Guthrie did with Dennis the Menace above. So go check it out and if you have an idea and the artistic chops to bring it to life, submit something for consideration.
Crowd control at comic conventions can be generally, if not creatively, described as “organized chaos” — emphasis more often that not on the latter — as thousands of fans determined to lay their hands on that special sketch, autograph or issue are poured into narrow entry points like so many grains of sand in an hourglass.
If you’ve attended Comic-Con International or New York Comic Con, or even read the tweets, blog entries and forum posts from those who have, what a delicate, frustrating and, yes, frequently sweaty and smelly dance that crowd flow can be, with one untied shoe, inconsiderate mid-aisle conversation or loud protest over access botching the choreography and sending everything into a horrible, grumbling snarl.
But at Tokyo’s Comiket, the world’s largest self-published comics fair, organizers have transformed crowd control into an artform.
Passings | Richard Alf, who as a teenager fronted the money for the first three years of San Diego’s Golden State Comic-Con, the annual event that later became Comic-Con International, passed away Wednesday from pancreatic cancer. He was 59. Alf, who co-chaired the first convention in 1970 and became chairman the following year, later opened Comic Kingdom in North Slope, a business he sold by the end of the decade. [U-T San Diego, Mark Evanier]
Conventions | iFanboy, San Francisco’s Isotope Comics and Grant Morrison are teaming up for MorrisonCon, which will feature “A once in a lifetime opportunity to see Grant Morrison and 9 hand picked comic creator superstars, all together for one weekend, one time only.” They’ve released few details so far, but the website says it’ll occur next fall. [MorrisonCon]
Awards | Comic-Con International is now accepting submissions for the 2012 Eisner Awards, which will be presented in San Diego in July. The deadline for submitting materials for consideration is March 6. [CCI]
Before we jump into 2012, I have one last bit of business to take care of: toting up my 2011 predictions, and offering a set for the new year.
1. The Green Lantern movie. Last year I predicted that GL would be “more lucrative than Captain America, not as much as Thor. It ended up making $116 million domestically ($219 million worldwide), well behind Cap’s $176 million ($368M globally) and Thor’s $181 million ($449M globally). Also, it wasn’t as good. I liked it well enough (and from what I hear I may like the Blu-Ray version more), but apparently I was in the minority.
2. Superman and Wonder Woman after JMS. I just had questions for this entry: will Roberson and Barrows stay on Superman? (No.) Will Diana keep the jacket and pants? (No jacket, pants optional.) Finally, I asked “[w]ill sales improve once ‘Grounded’ ends?” Guess that depends on how you define “ends,” because “Grounded” closed out that Superman series; and the next issue of Superman was a New-52 No. 1 which sold almost 100,000 more copies than its predecessor. We may never know what might have happened to Superman without the New 52, but probably not that.
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