BEST BETS: "Jessica Jones," "Big Trouble/Escape from New York" & More October 2016 Highlights
Graphic novels | BookScan’s list of the Top 20 graphic novels sold in bookstores in August is an eclectic mix of old and new, superheroes and other genres. The top seller, for the second month in a row, is the deluxe edition of Batman: The Killing Joke, with hardy perennials Fun Home, American Born Chinese and Watchmen all making the charts, probably because of school assignments. Manga does well, with the two most recent volumes of Naruto, two volumes of Attack on Titan, the first two volumes of Tokyo Ghoul and the seventh volume of Monster Musume all making the cut. Phoebe Gloeckner’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl also charted, as did the first volume of Saga and the 22nd volume of Fables. [ICv2]
Passings| Underground artist Stephen “The Pizz” Pizzuro has died at age 57. Pizzuro, who described his work as “Lowbrow,” started his professional career as an artist for Rat Fink Comics before moving on to do album covers and, later, gallery art. [Hi Fructose]
Legal | DC Comics has filed a trademark lawsuit against clothing manufacturer Mad Engine, claiming one of its T-shirt designs infringes on the iconic Superman shield (it replaces the signature “S” with “Dad”). The shirt was sold through Target, which isn’t part of the suit. DC sent a cease-and-desist letter to Mad Engine on June 1, but, the publisher claims, the clothing company didn’t respond until June 19 “in an effort to allow the Infringing T-Shirt to remain available for sale through Father’s Day.” [The Hollywood Reporter]
Retailing | David Harper asked 25 comics retailers how they feel about their business (spoiler: mostly optimistic), what their customer base is like, how they determine which comics to order (some really interesting comments here), and their thoughts on the industry as a whole. With the caveat that it’s a small group, it’s fascinating stuff. [Sktchd]
Conventions | Although the planned $500 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center is, by all appearances, dead, Comic-Con International isn’t ready to say what it will do when its contract expires in 2016. “With regard to the convention center expansion, I can say that any decision to remain in San Diego has always been dependent upon a number of factors, and no one issue could really trump the others,” says David Glanzer, Comic-Con’s director of marketing and public relations. He notes that organizers previously worked with the city, convention center and hotels to expand programming venues, and they continue to discuss such issues as “space, hotel rates and other logistical factors that need to be addressed if we are to remain in San Diego.”
The proposed expansion would have added 740,000 square feet of exhibit space, a five-acre rooftop park, a waterfront promenade with retail shops and restaurants, and a second, 500-room tower to the adjacent Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel. However, a California appeals court ruled Aug. 1 that a planned hotel tax intended to pay for the bulk of the costs was unconstitutional, as it was never put to a citywide vote. Anaheim and Los Angeles attempted to woo Comic-Con away from San Diego in 2010. [ICv2.com]
Editorial cartoons | The public-relations consultant hired by the city of Murrieta, California, after residents protested the arrival of refugee children to be processed there, told cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz that referring to Murietta as “Hate City USA” was “actionable.” “There IS a fine line between your constitutional right to draw cartoons and expressed (sic) your opinions,” Hermosillo wrote in a comment on Alcaraz’s Facebook page, “and falsely, deliberately, and maliciously labeling and attacking an entire community as racist or as ‘Hate City.’ You are working overtime to damage Murrieta and such a false premise is actionable. There’s a fine line between humor and stupidity. You may have crossed that line at your own peril.” Murrieta spokesperson Kim Davidson walked that back, however, saying the city has no plans to sue Alcaraz. [The Press Enterprise]
The five-issue miniseries finds Brown teaming with writer Ales Kot to craft the new adventures of former Secret Avenger Jim Rhodes (while it is currently a miniseries, as noted in this late January tweet by Kot: ” … there is room for more if the series does well. We might just extend if so”). Given that Brown is a 2010 graduate of The Kubert School, I took the opportunity in this brief interview to also discuss that experience and its impact on him.
Comics sales | ICv2 unpacks February’s miserable direct market sales numbers a bit, noting that for the second month in a row just one comic — in this case, Batman #28 — sold more than 100,000 copies, indicating weakness at the top of the list. Since September 2011, when the most recent “growth spurt” began, at least two comics have sold more than 100,000 copies each month; however, that streak ended with the first two months of 2014. One cause of the poor sales may be the unusually cold winter, which meant higher heating bills and thus less disposable income for some folks. ICv2 also has a separate analysis of dollar sales and the charts of the top 300 comics and graphic novels of the month. [ICv2]
When I set out to conduct an interview, particularly when it’s focused on one project, I usually expect the conversation to go in a certain direction. I concede that this Q&A with Zero writer Ales Kot surprised me in its ability to venture into a variety of topics, including genetic memory, synchronicity and the importance of honesty in branding.
Tim O’Shea: How early in the development of Zero did you realize you wanted to use a variety of artists?
Ales Kot: Pretty much right in the beginning, if I remember correctly. The choice was a storytelling decision and a way to work with many artists I am interested in at the same time. I believe a narrative doesn’t have to be conventional in the way it is depicted (i.e. one artist for the story) in order to achieve clear communication of itself. Clearly I am right but really how hard is that to figure out? People who read comics are smart and wonderful and hungry for new stories and new ways of telling them. We live in a world that carries easiness of sensory overload within itself and our encounters with said sensory overload can teach us how to modulate/expand our perceptions. We are mutants. My approach to Zero is that of acknowledging and embracing evolution as a gift. That is one of the reasons why a variety of artists is correct here. Another reason would be because I simply felt like it.
Our annual “Looking Forward, Looking Back” feature continues, as we ask various comics folks what they liked in 2013, what they’re looking forward to in 2014 and what projects they have planned for the coming year. In this round, see what Kurt Busiek, Corinna Bechko, Jeffrey Brown, Andrea Sorrentino, Jon Proctor, Steve Lieber, Ales Kot, Dennis Culver, Victor Santos and Declan Shalvey had to say.
And if you missed them, be sure to check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4, where we heard from Jimmy Palmiotti, Tim Seeley, Chris Roberson, Faith Erin Hicks and many more. And we still have plenty to go, so check back Thursday to hear from more creators!
Awards | Gilbert Hernandez is the recipient of the 2013 PEN Center USA award for outstanding body of work in graphic literature. Drawn and Quarterly announced the honor along with news that it will publish Hernandez’s next graphic novel, Bumperhead. [The Comics Reporter]
Conventions | “SPX is all about the hugs,” says Heidi MacDonald, who relegates her business piece on the Small Press Expo to Publishers Weekly and turns to her blog to discuss not only her impressions but what folks were saying on social media. [The Beat]
If you’re still undecided about picking up the collection of Change, out today from Image Comics, your decision may have just gotten a whole lot easier: The first issue of the apocalyptic miniseries by Ales Kot and Morgan Jeske is now available for free online from Image, comiXology and, as a PDF, the writer’s website.
“It’s apocalypse in Los Angeles; apocalypse as a universal event, apocalypse as a personal event,” Kos writes. “Change is a SF action thriller that will, hopefully, bend your mind something fresh.”
ROBOT 6’s Mark Kardwell made the trade paperback his pick of the week, .”It has a fairly pulpy-sounding plot: Lovecraftian creatures bring about the end of the world […] but Kot is too interesting a writer for the story to play out in anything other than an original manner.” You can get a little sneak peek below.
Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. Between a release party at Bergen Street Comics for the collections of Change and Strange Attractors and (deep breath) Wizard World Comic Con NYC Experience, New York City appears to be the place for comics events this week.
But before you start packing your bags, there’s a healthy list of new releases arriving in stores Wednesday, ranging from the aforementioned Change, by Ales Kot and Morgan Jeske, to the debut of Lazarus, which reunites Greg Rucka and Michael Lark. But that barely scratches the surface.
It’s become an annual tradition during our birthday bash: No matter how much stuff we line up, people we interview, etc., there are still tons of people we like to hear from and include in our giant New Year’s/anniversary/birthday activities. So, as we have in past years, we have asked various comics folks what they liked in 2012 and what they are excited about for 2013.
Check out Part One, and keep reading to see more of what people shared with us, including details on their upcoming projects. Our thanks to everyone who responded this year. Also, thanks again to Tim O’Shea, Michael May and Chris Arrant, who helped collect responses.
SAM HUMPHRIES (The Ultimates, Sacrifice, Uncanny X-Force)
What was your favorite comic of 2012?
Thirty-six questions. Six answers. One random number generator. Welcome to Robot Roulette, where creators roll the virtual dice and answer our questions about their lives, careers, interests and more.
Now let’s get to it …
By most accounts, 2012 has been a damn fine year for Image Comics. Ales Kot was one of the many independent creators involved in this success, given the July release of Wild Children (the writer’s graphic novel collaboration with Riley Rossmo). Wednesday sees the debut of his new Image miniseries (with artist Morgan Jeske) Change. In October, we offered a preview of the project, about “a struggling screenwriter/successful car thief, an obscenely wealthy astronaut and a dying cosmonaut on his way back to Earth”. After reading this interview, be sure to check out Comic Book Resource’s interview with Kot regarding his other upcoming Image projects, Zero and The Surface.
Tim O’Shea: What prompted you to open Issue 1 with quotes from electro duo Holy Ghost‘s 2011 song Do It Again and Sylvia Plath’s The Rival?
Ales Kot: The Holy Ghost quote alludes to separation, tuning things out, not paying attention, not seeing the full picture. The Plath quote is about the other, the shadow we all carry with us, the beauty and terror intertwined. Both quotes reflect some of the key themes of the comic.
To see what Ales and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.