Digital comics | So, your $3.99 comic comes bundled with a download code for a free digital copy, but you’re strictly a paper person. What to do? Todd Allen has a fascinating article about the secondary market in unused download codes, not just the fact that they are being sold fairly openly but also what that market tells us about the true value of comics: “Outside of eBay it’s relatively easy to use Google to find somewhere to swap or purchase Ultraviolet codes. The Home Theater Forum’s classified ad section has codes sprinkled in, with a low $2-$3 looking like a common price. Codes are also easy to find on Reddit, including a dedicated subreddit, though codes on Reddit are swapped or given away, not sold.” [The Next Web]
Conventions| Small Press Expo announced its first round of guests for the Sept.14-15 convention: Seth, Gary Panter, Lisa Hanawalt, Gene Yang and Frank Santoro. [SPX]
Digital comics | The manga publisher Viz Media has signed on to iVerse’s digital comics app for libraries; this is big news, because manga, especially Viz’s teen-friendly line, is still very popular in libraries. [press release]
Publishing | In his address last weekend to the ComicsPRO annual meeting in Atlanta, Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson urged the audience to continue asking “What’s next?” [Comics Alliance]
Retailing | Journalist and retailer Matthew Price wraps up the ComicsPRO meeting, noting Diamond’s report of a healthy year for comics retailers, with comics sales up 16 percent, graphic novels up 13 percent, and merchandise up 9 percent from last year. [The Oklahoman]
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d start with Black Beetle #1 (Dark Horse, $3.99), Francesco Francavilla’s pulp action hero who jumps into his own miniseries after a run in Dark Horse Presents. I’d also grab Threshold #1 (DC Comics, $2.99), which continues the story from last week’s New Guardians annual, featuring a new Green Lantern and a whole bunch of cosmic DC characters. I’d also grab Comeback #3 (Image, $3.50), as I just got around to reading the first issue and really enjoyed it. They’re doing some fun stuff with time travel that should make for a cool series. That leaves room for one more, which is a hard choice … but let’s go with Indestructible Hulk #3 (Marvel, $3.99), because I love the new direction and take on the character and his status quo.
If I had $30, I’d also pick up Saga #9 (Image, $2.99) and Daredevil #22 ($2.99), because, well, Saga and Daredevil. I’m also really digging what Kelly Sue Deconnick is doing with the Avengers, so next I’d get Avengers Assemble #11 (Marvel, $3.99). Lastly, I’d grab Captain America #3 (Marvel, $3.99), as I’m really worried about Cap and the kid, and hope they come out of Zola’s world OK.
Finally, for my spulrge, I’d go with the big Paul Pope book from Image, One Trick Rip-Off ($29.99).
According to SF Weekly, the pieces dating back to the turn of the 20th century include just one of Robinson’s own comics, a 1954 installment of Jet Scott, a sci-fi strip about an adventurer with the Office of Scientifact who’s called in to tackle strange threats. Among the highlights of the donation are Wash Tubbs by Roy Crane, Li’l Abner by Al Capp, Baron Bean by George Herriman, Pogo by Walt Kelly and two pieces by Winsor McCay, including a hand-painted installment of Dream of the Rarebit Fiend.
Curator Andrew Farago, who became friends with Robinson and his family, said those are the first McCay originals to be included in the museum’s permanent collection.
Robinson, who co-created Robin and the Joker, and later became widely respected for his work has a comics historian and creators’ rights advocate, was presented with the Cartoon Art Museum’s lifetime achievement award in 2011.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.
If I had $15 this week, I’d start it off by buying Kirby Genesis #0 (Dynamite, $1); I love the idea of world-building from older characters, and Jack Kirby left a treasure trove of ideas even he couldn’t get a handle on completely. I’m interested to see where Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross take this, and I hope with Busiek’s addition it can be more tantalizing than Project: Superpowers was. Second up, I would get the penultimate Secret Warriors #27 (Marvel, $2.99); when this series started I was an ardent reader, but it lost me along the way. For some work-related research I caught up with the series, and since the last Howling Commandos story it’s been going great; I hope Hickman can stick the landing. Third I would get Vertigo’s new anthology Strange Adventures #1 (DC/Vertigo, $7.99); a pricey experiment, but I’m in the mood to get blown away. Lastly would be FF #4 (Marvel, $2.99) – I’m really enjoying what Hickman and Epting have done in the new simply titled series.
Retailing | Free Comic Book Day founder Joe Field reports that this year’s event drew between 300,000 and 500,000 people to participating retailers, and generated an estimated $1.5 million in publicity for comics and comics stores. “Free Comic Book Day may have been my idea ten years ago, but seeing the remarkable things this event has done for the entire comics world is really encouraging,” he writes on his store’s blog. “Many of my comics retailer colleagues in the U.S., Canada and 40 other countries bring energy, creativity and enthusiasm to FCBD, making it a very special community event that is now the world’s largest annual comics’ event. All of this shows just how current the comics’ medium is — and how vital comic book specialty stores are to our local communities.” [Flying Colors, via The Beat]
Legal | In the wake of the latest confiscation of comics by Canadian customs agents, Laura Hudson looks at how creators and fans can protect themselves when crossing the border. [Comics Alliance]
Comic strips | Tundra marketing director Bill Kellogg has launched Ink Bottle Syndicate, which represents eight comic strips: That Monkey Tune, by Mike Kandalaft; Holy Molé, by Rick Hotton; Sunshine State, by Graham Nolan; Half Baked, by Rick Ellis; Future Shock, by Jim and Pat McGreal; 15 Minutes, by Robert Duckett; Biz, by Dave Blazek; and, of course, Tundra, Chad Carpenter. [The Daily Cartoonist]
I was surprised and dismayed to check in at The Comics Reporter and see that Stuart Hample passed away Sunday at the age of 84. Surprised, because I wouldn’t have guessed that he was 84—he was way too lively, although I suppose anyone who had hung out with Fred Allen and Al Capp couldn’t be that young—and dismayed because that means I won’t get to talk to him again.
I interviewed Stu last November, for an article in PWCW about Dread and Superficiality, a collection of his Inside Woody Allen comic strips. We talked for about two hours, and I took nine single-spaced pages of notes. He had some great stories about working with Woody Allen and other comedians of the time, most of which are in the book or the article, but the off-topic stuff was just as interesting.
“Everything I’ve done has no depth, but I had a wide array of careers,” Hample told me. “I’m a multimedia failure.” That’s not entirely true. In addition to collaborating with Woody Allen on the strip, he had several other newspaper comics, Children’s Letters to God and Rich and Famous. He was a writer for the TV show Kate and Allie, and as an adman, he got Al Capp to do ads for Wildroot Cream-Oil hair tonic. He even did a brief stint on Captain Kangaroo, in the show’s early days, as Mr. Artist. Sometimes Hample reached a bit too far, as when he tried to get James Thurber to draw an ad for General Electric and when he pitched a comic strip based on comedian Dick Gregory. Neither enterprise was a success, but they certainly were interesting failures.
I’m going to let Stu do the talking after the jump; read on for some of the stories he told in the interview, edited slightly for readability but not fact-checked at all.
IDW announced yesterday their next big strip collection project for their Library of American Comics imprint — Al Capp’s L’il Abner. Volume One will cover 1934-36 and feature an essay by Bruce Canwell, and an introduction by Denis Kitchen. It will be a 288 page hardcover, retail for $49.99 and be available in stores in April.
Those with long memories will recall that Kitchen had attempted to publish Abner’s complete run back in the 1990s via his Kitchen Sink Press, but never completed the project due to the company’s going under. The strip, about a colorful group of hillbillies, ventured frequently into political and social satire, and was one of the most popular comics of its day. Capp’s eventual turn into hardline conservatism, however, left a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of cartoonists and critics in following generations, and the strip has fallen a bit out of favor in recent decades. It will be interesting to see how this new attempt at collecting the material is received.
Read the full press release after the jump: