Time Warner filed documents last week to spin off Time Inc. — the media giant’s worst-performing division — into what Bloomberg calls “the world’s largest publicly traded magazine company.” The move, as ICv2.com notes, would effectively rid Time Warner of all of its remaining print assets except for DC Comics, which remains part of the Warner Bros. Entertainment subsidiary.
Time Inc., whose sales have fallen in five of the past seven years, publishes more than 20 magazines, including its namesake Time, Entertainment Weekly, Fortune, Sports Illustrated and People. It added Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure and Departures in September when it acquired American Express Co.’s publishing unit.
Talk of the spinoff, planned for sometime in 2014, began in March after a failed attempt to forge a new venture with Ladies’ Home Journal publisher Meredith Corporation. “A complete spinoff of Time Inc. provides strategic clarity for Time Warner Inc.,” Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said at the time, “enabling us to focus entirely on our television networks and film and TV production businesses, and improves our growth profile.”
I don’t back that many projects on Kickstarter, but The Spider King is a great-looking book, so I’m seriously considering it. I can’t remember which artist acquaintance put me on to the Facebook page of Italian artist Simone D’Armini, but the guy has a very cool style, synthesizing the influence of all kinds of the right folks (I detect hints of Ben Caldwell, Andrew MacLean, WJC and Uli Oesterle; check out his DeviantArt page here). The Spider King is one of that old chestnut, Vikings versus aliens, written by Australian writer Josh Vann, which is why those prices on the Kickstarter page might seem a bit on the high side, as they’re in Australian dollars.
It’s hard to get an idea of a comic from just a few scattered panels on a Kickstarter campaign page, but Vann’s dialog seems as witty as D’Armini’s images are stylish. They’re about halfway there towards their target, with 16 days to go, so take a look and see if you agree that this project deserves to see the light of day.
Marvel recently debuted Paolo Rivera and Mike Deodato Jr.’s covers for the long-promised return of Miracleman, and while no one was looking, Jim Cheung unveiled a glimpse of his own take on the character. “Thrilled to be working on this!” the artist wrote on his blog.
The publisher, which announced in 2009 that it had acquired the rights to the British hero, will begin reprinting Marvelman stories in January. New material by Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham likely won’t appear until 2016.
“I know that it seems like a long way away, but the material is finally going to see the light of day and will remain in print, and I think for that, we can all be grateful,” Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada told CBR earlier this month. “To me, it’s a travesty that there are readers who have not only not been exposed to the original stories, but don’t even had a way to easily access them.”
Manga | Hayao Miyazaki’s samurai manga will be serialized in the Japanese magazine Model Graphix, but progress is reportedly slow: Miyazaki, the director of classic animated films including My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, has completed just three pages. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Veteran Archie artist Stan Goldberg, who most recently has been drawing Nancy Drew graphic novels for Papercutz, was in a serious car accident recently, along with his wife Pauline. Tom Spurgeon suggests you send them a car. [The Comics Reporter]
Conventions | Cleveland’s small-press comics convention Genghis Con is this weekend, with a guest list that includes Derf Backderf (My Friend Dahmer) and Mike Sangiacomo (Tales of the Starlight Drive-In). [The Plain Dealer]
Prolific artist Al Plastino, who in recent weeks lobbied for the return of his original art for the 1964 story “Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy,” has passed away after a battle with prostate cancer, Mark Evanier reports. He was 91.
Born Dec. 15, 1921 in New York City, Plastino began illustrating for Youth Today magazine after he graduated from the High School of Industrial Arts. His first comics credit was on Dynamic Publications’ Dynamic Comics #2, cover-dated December 1941.
After serving in the Army during World War II, Plastino returned to freelance work and learned in 1948 that DC Comics was searching for a new Superman artist; according to his website, the publisher paid $55 a page at the time. For the next two decades, Plastino drew Action Comics, Adventure Comics, Superboy, Superman, Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane and Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen, and with writer Otto Binder created the Legion of Super-Heroes and Supergirl.
Earlier this month ROBOT 6 noted that Portland, Oregon-based artist Steve Lieber appeared in a Travel Portland ad piece to promote tax-free shopping in the city. Seeing the piece made me want to know more about how Lieber became involved and what was the experience was like. Fortunately, Lieber, who’s now working on The Superior Foes of Spider-Man, was able to answer my questions in a brief interview.
Tim O’Shea: How did you get tapped to do the commercial? Did you have to submit art samples before getting cast?
Steve Lieber: The agency was familiar with my work before contacting me. It was simultaneously flattering and surprising.
It doesn’t matter whether you have thousands of Batman comics and collectibles, or transform your basement into the Batcave, you’re not truly a fan until you own a licensed, roadworthy replica of the Batmobile from the 1966 television series. And it’ll only set you back $200,000.
Offered by Hammacher Schlemmer, the Authentic 1966 Batmobile comes standard “comes standard with a 430-horsepower, 383 Blueprint Crate engine and a Monster TH350 automatic transmission,” which probably means something to someone. While it isn’t equipped with atomic batteries, it does have a blinking Batphone and “a rotating red beacon.” There are also rear parachute packs, which are, alas, empty.
There’s no mention of how many miles per gallon it gets, but that’s probably not a chief concern if you have $200,000 lying around to buy a Batmobile.
Not content to wait until Black Friday or Cyber Monday, DC Comics and Drawn & Quarterly have gotten a head start on holiday sales.
Beginning Tuesday, DC Comics Digital will give away the first issue of a different digital-first comic each day for the next week: Tuesday is Legends of the Dark Knight, Wednesday is Batman ’66, Thursday is The Vampire Diaries, Friday is Smallville Season 11, Saturday is Batman Beyond 2.0/Justice League Beyond 2.0, Sunday is Batman: Li’l Gotham, and Monday is Adventures of Superman.
Drawn & Quarterly isn’t waiting, however: Between today and Dec. 2, the publisher is offering a 40 percent discount on any item — books, comics, posters, etc. — from its web store. Those include works released this year, including Gilbert Hernandez’s Marble Season, Rutu Modan’s The Poperty, Brian Ralph’s Reggie-12 and Anders Nilsen’s Rage of Poseidon.
“Now, see, I haven’t read any superhero comics since I finished with Watchmen. I hate superheroes. I think they’re abominations. They don’t mean what they used to mean. They were originally in the hands of writers who would actively expand the imagination of their nine- to 13-year-old audience. That was completely what they were meant to do and they were doing it excellently. These days, superhero comics think the audience is certainly not nine to 13, it’s nothing to do with them. It’s an audience largely of 30-, 40-, 50-, 60-year old men, usually men. Someone came up with the term graphic novel. These readers latched on to it; they were simply interested in a way that could validate their continued love of Green Lantern or Spider-Man without appearing in some way emotionally subnormal. This is a significant rump of the superhero-addicted, mainstream-addicted audience. I don’t think the superhero stands for anything good. I think it’s a rather alarming sign if we’ve got audiences of adults going to see the Avengers movie and delighting in concepts and characters meant to entertain the 12-year-old boys of the 1950s.”
– Alan Moore, addressing modern superhero comics in an interview with The Guardian about Fashion Beast, his collaboration with Malcolm McLaren. Moore also touches upon the influence of his work on other writers, and gets in a jab another in the process: “Grant Morrison has actually self-confessedly made a tactic of not only basing some of his narratives on my style or my work but also trying to make himself more famous by slagging me off at every opportunity. I have nothing to do with him.”
After rescuing San Francisco from the grip up of the Riddler and the Penguin, Batkid traveled this morning to New York City — “the real Gotham,” as Mayor Michael Bloomberg said — to take on the Joker and save rapper/producer Pitbull in a takedown arranged by Good Morning America.
Although the GMA hosts behaved as if they’re never interacted with children before, the segment was nice for the spotlight it shined on Miles Scott — the 5-year-old who has battled leukemia for three years — and the work of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Also, the morning show’s set was transformed into a pretty good facsimile of the Batcave from the ’60s Batman TV series, with the Batmobile parked outside.
“He’s in remission so this has kind of been like the after-party for him, a way to kick it off,” Miles’ father Nick said. “Chemo is all he’s ever known. That’s the life that he’s known but this is kind of a way to celebrate the ending.”
Watch the video below.
Another, written by Yukito Ayatsuji, art by Hiro Kiyohara, Yen Press, 720 pages, $29.99
Another is a ghost story in which no one is quite sure who the ghost is — or if they themselves are the ghost.
It’s told through the eyes of 15-year-old Koichi Sakakibara, who has been shipped off to stay with his grandparents in the country while his scientist father is conducting research abroad; his mother died shortly before he was born. The school year starts off inauspiciously for Koichi, as he suffers from a collapsed lung and misses the first few days of school.
While he is in the hospital, Koichi meets and briefly talks to a girl with an eye patch, Mei Misaki, and when he finally gets to school, he learns that Mei is in his class. He is intrigued by her and tries to start a friendship, but everyone else acts as if she isn’t there. The other students are friendly to him, but they don’t seem to even see Mei, and Koichi begins to wonder if she is real.
(Mild spoilers ahead)
Digital comics | Apple rejected 59 comics this year for in-app buying, although many of them were allowed into the iBookstore. I looked at the phenomenon, and talked to Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson about the effect that had on Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s Sex Criminals, which is available via the comiXology website and Android app, iBooks, and Image’s own website, but can’t be bought in-app from comiXology’s iPad app. “”It absolutely hurt digital sales on Sex Criminals #2,” Stepheneson said. “This is a series that is getting fantastic word of mouth, it’s amazing work by Matt and Chip that is receiving rave reviews and selling out instantly. Not being able to offer the book to curious readers through our app or the comiXology app is a significant deterrent to reaching the widest possible audience.” [Publishers Weekly]
The York (Pennsylvania) Daily Record reports had been conservatively estimated to fetch $50,000 and $75,000, but the historical significance of the issue (cover-dated February 1964), and the timing of the auction — no coincidence, mind you — helped to drive up the price.
The cover shows the Superman greeting a line of well-wishers, including Lois Lane, Supergirl, Batman and Robin, and, somehow, Clark Kent. In the story, “The Superman Super-Spectacular,” written by Edmund Hamilton and penciled by Swan, Superman must figure out who can portray Clark on a television show honoring the Man of Steel so he can protect his secret identity. He ends up turning to President Kennedy, who dons a mask and make-up to shake Superman’s hand on air.
The issue was already so far into production when Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, that it couldn’t be stopped, and Action Comics #309 was released just days later.
The anonymous seller purchased the original art in the 1970s for $75.
The winners of the second annual British Comic Awards were announced Saturday during the Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds, England. They are:
Best Book: The Nao of Brown, by Glyn Dillon (Self Made Hero)
Best Comic: Winter’s Knight: Day One, by Robert M Ball (self-published through Great Beast)
Emerging Talent: Will Morris for The Silver Darlings (Blank Slate Books)
Young People’s Comic Award: The Complete Rainbow Orchid, by Garen Ewing (Egmont Books)
Hall of Fame: Leo Baxendale
The full list of nominees can be found here.
Last month Head Lopper Andrew MacLean shared with me that he was working on a webcomics project written by Dark Horse editor Jim Gibbons and colored by Ryan Hill. The good news is that their comic, Mars: Space Barbarian, is up now, featuring a spear-wielding barbarian fighting monster birds in the “jungle of the space slug’s belly.”
The bad news? It’s only five short pages. Five fun sword-and-sorcery by way of crazy space opera pages, but still, just five pages nonetheless, with the promise of more at some point in the future.
“Amidst the kind words, many people also asked us when there’d be more Mars,” Gibbons wrote. “The short answer: We’re working on more now. The longer answer: This is a passion project and doesn’t pay the bills (Though, one day, maybe…). We all have to do other work for that, so we’ll be working on Mars as fast as the rest of all our other work allows. But, in our randomly updating format, we’ll aim to keep a steady flow of content here in the form of sketches and process posts when we don’t have new pages to post. Thanks for your patience on this front, folks. We’ll pay you back for it in awesome comic pages currency just as soon as we can!”
Check out “Only the strong” from the beginning by going here.