Comics | A near-mint copy of 1940′s Batman #1, which marks the first appearances of the Joker and Catwoman, sold this week for $850,000 — a record for that issue — in a private transaction arranged by Heritage Auctions. The seller purchased the comic just two years ago for $315,000. [CNN]
Publishing | Cory Casoni is leaving his position as director of marketing for Oni Press for a position with NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc. as the head of marketing for ShiftyLook comics. Thomas Shimmin and Amber LaPraim, who joined Oni earlier this year, are taking joint positions as marketing coordinators. [press release]
Creators | Alison Bechdel discusses her family, her psyche, and the challenges of drawing a memoir that’s set in therapy sessions: “I watched all the episodes of “In Treatment” at one point, to see how they managed to make two people sitting in a room so very dramatic. And it was basically just good writing and good acting. So that gave me the hope that I could pull this story off without adding a car chase or an explosion. Though there is a kind of a car chase, now that I think of it, when a Sunbeam bread truck almost runs me off the road. My story also goes in and out of other texts — movies, psychoanalytic papers, children’s books — which creates some more overt visual excitement. And I use a dream to begin each chapter. I know you’re not supposed to write about your dreams, but the dreams have a dramatic sweep that everyday life doesn’t.” [The New York Times]
Legal | A Tunisian court last week convicted Nessma TV President Nebil Karoui of “disturbing public order” and “threatening public morals” by broadcasting the animated adaptation of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, which features a scene that briefly shows an image of God. The Oct. 7 airing resulted in an attempted arson attack on the network’s offices and the arrest of some 50 protesters. Karoui was fined $1,600 by the five-judge panel; two members of his staff were fined $800 each. Prosecutors and attorneys representing Islamist groups pushed for Karoui to be sentenced to up to five years in prison. Others argued for the death penalty. [The Washington Post]
Business | Target will stop selling Amazon’s Kindle devices in its stores over a dispute regarding “showrooming,” where consumers check out a product at Target stores and then go home to buy it on Amazon for a cheaper price. Around Christmas, Amazon’s Price Check app gave shoppers a 5 percent discount on any item scanned at a retail store. “What we aren’t willing to do is let online-only retailers use our brick-and-mortar stores as a showroom for their products and undercut our prices,” Target executives wrote in a letter to vendors. Target will continue to carry Apple’s iPad, Barnes & Noble’s Nook and the Aluratek Libre. [The New York Times]
Legal | Todd McFarlane Productions has emerged from bankruptcy after more than seven years, having paid more than $2.2 million to creditors, according to court documents dug up by Daniel Best. Of that, $1.1 million was part of McFarlane’s settlement with Neil Gaiman, which brought to a close the decade-long legal battle over the rights to Medieval Spawn, the heavenly warrior Angela and other characters (it’s unknown how much of that disbursement was eaten up by legal fees and how much actually went to Gaiman; the writer has publicly stated he gives money won in the proceedings to charity). Todd McFarlane Productions filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2004 following the $15 million court award to former NHL player Tony Twist, who sued over the use of his name in Spawn for the mob enforcer Antonio “Tony Twist” Twistelli. McFarlane and Twist settled in 2007 for $5 million. [20th Century Danny Boy]
Comics | Bryan Young talks to Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater about the attempted boycott of Life With Archie #16, which featured the marriage of Kevin Keller, as well as the changes that have taken place within the company to make that marriage possible. “When I got to Archie my first mandate was to talk to the staff and creators and say ‘Change things up. Try new things. Be bold. Be daring. Be creative.’ If there was an idea I felt was out of line or too crazy, I’d nix it. But for the most part, people like Dan Parent came to me with excellent ideas and suggestions. Kevin Keller is a perfect example of that. I don’t think you would have seen the previous regime publish Kevin.” [The Huffington Post]
Awards | Cartoonist Alison Bechdel has won the 24th annual Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement, presented by the Publishing Triangle, the association of lesbians and gay men in publishing. [GalleyCat]
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival, one of the high points of the indy comics year, has announced the first round of guests for this year. It doesn’t seem to be up on the TCAF site just yet, but Tom Spurgeon has the rundown at The Comics Reporter, and it’s an impressive list: Jeff Smith, Alison Bechdel, Guy Delisle, and Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon are the headliners. Smith will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of Bone, while Bechdel’s Are You My Mother? and Delisle’s Jerusalem are both due out shortly before the show.
But wait! There’s more! Kate Beaton, German creator Arne Bellstorf, Scottish creator Tom Gauld (whose Goliath is due out soon from Drawn and Quarterly) Gabriella Giandelli, Jennifer and Matt Holm (Babymouse), Jason, Kazu Kibuishi (creator of Amulet and editor of the Flight anthologies), Bryan Lee O’Malley (Scott Pilgrim), Gary Panter, Michel Rabagliati, Andy Runton (Owly), Olivier Schrauwen, and Adam Warren (Empowered) will also be gracing the halls of the Toronto Reference Library this May. That’s an amazingly eclectic and talented group. If you have been thinking “Some day I’ll make it to TCAF,” this should probably be the year.
With 2012 still fresh and new, it seems like as good a time as any to look at various publishing companies’ plans for the year ahead and pick out what looks good, or at least interesting. Because the year looks to be filled with so many delights, I decided to double down and offer not just six but 12 comics I’m really looking forward to reading. Obviously this list is reflective of my own, indie-slanted interests, so feel free in the comments section to tell me what a dope I am for forgetting about Book X by Artist Y.
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]
Publishing | Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson talks about the ups and downs of the past year, including getting Todd MacFarlane’s Spawn on a tighter schedule and the difficulties of selling all-ages comics: “There’s this really blinkered mentality in comics that “all-ages” means only for kids, despite the relatively easy to understand implication that all-ages books can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Diamond even has this graphic they use for all-ages comics in Previews and it’s these two children that look like toddlers or whatever. People seem to miss the point that most the comics we love from the ‘60s or ‘70s or even the ‘80s to a large degree, were all-ages comics. Stan & Jack’s Fantastic Four was an all-ages book. And it was brilliant.” [Multiversity Comics]
Digital | Viz Media, the largest manga publisher in the United States, began releasing its graphic novels on Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet and Nook Color devices today. As on the Viz iOS app and website, the manga are priced from $4.99 to $9.99 per volume, and they read from right to left, in authentic Japanese fashion. 107 volumes from 18 series are available at launch, although the selection skews a bit older than what’s available on the iOS app, with no sign of the Shonen Jump blockbusters Naruto, Bleach, or One Piece, at least in the initial announcement. [press release]
Passings | As Comic Book Resources reported, Joanne Siegel, wife of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel and the model for Lois Lane, passed away Monday in California. She was 93. Although news of her death first circulated online via Brad Meltzer’s Twitter account, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Michael Sangiacomo had the first official report, only hours after he wrote about the installation of signs bearing the honorary street names “Joe Shuster Lane” and “Lois Lane” in the Cleveland neighborhood where Siegel and Shuster created the Man of Steel. CBR’s Kiel Phegley spoke with Meltzer, who met Joanne Siegel while researching his novel The Book of Lies. Heidi MacDonald, meanwhile, has reaction from Bradley Ricca, who’s working on a documentary about the Siegel family. The Hollywood Reporter and The Superman Super Site also have obituaries. More will certainly appear throughout the day. [Comic Book Resources]
Publishing | Acclaimed cartoonist Alison Bechdel (Fun Home, Dykes to Watch Out For) has been named the guest editor of the 2011 edition of The Best American Comics, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [Shelf Life]
Publishing | Robot 6 contributor Brigid Alverson spotlights the “quiet revolution” at Archie Comics that finds the publisher expanding into graphic novels and digital delivery, further diversifying its characters and tackling more topical issues. [Publishers Weekly]
This year has been a difficult one for Friends of Lulu, but with their 2010 Lulu awards, a new website, and some plans for the future, they seem to be winding it up on a hopeful note.
- Leah Adezio Award for Best Kid-Friendly Work: Diana Nock, The Intrepid Girlbot
- Best Female Character: Ramona Flowers, Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley
- Kim Yale Award for Most Talented Newcomer: Kathryn Immonen: “The Runaways”
- Lulu of the Year: Kate Beaton
- Woman of Distinction Award: Lauren Sankovitch: editor, Marvel Comics
- Female Cartoonists Hall of Fame: Alison Bechdel
Acting board member Kynn Bartlett also responded to Johanna Draper Carlson’s questions about the group’s IRS status and its plans for the future, saying that the interim board will be working on getting the house in order but keeping the organization’s options open for the elected board, and asking people not to make donations until the group straightens out its status with the IRS.
Creators | Renowned artist Steve Rude and his family are in danger of losing their home, so the co-creator of Nexus is auctioning art in hopes of raising the money to meet a Nov. 15 deadline. [Steve Rude's Facebook, The Comics Reporter]
Publishing | Retailer news and analysis site ICv2.com suggests Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series could close out 2010 as the No. 1 graphic-novel property of the year, surpassing the top-selling adaptation of Stephen Meyer’s Twilight. [ICv2.com]
Digital comics | David Brothers wonders how the rise of digital comics might change comics “culture,” and the Wednesday ritual. [4thletter!]
Fun Home‘s Alison Bechdel and American Splendor‘s Harvey Pekar can be ranked alongside Persepolis‘s Marjane Satrapi and Maus‘s Art Spiegelman (to the extent Maus is autobiographical) as the cartoonists whose autobiographical comics have made the biggest splash in the larger pop-cultural pond. So it must have been a real treat to hear the pair talk about their comics, their lives, and the intersection of the two at UCLA last Friday. Fortunately, CBR’s Tom Gastall was there to tell us all about it today. In addition to talking about process and success, Bechdel and Pekar tease their next projects — Bechdel’s working on a memoir about the making of Fun Home, while Pekar’s got a political work called “How I Lost My Faith in Israel” on the horizon. Should be plenty of grist for discussion. Go read!
As with Tom Spurgeon and Dirk Deppey (scroll down, it’s at the halfway point), I found myself thoroughly irked at Ranker.com’s incredibly superhero-heavy list of the “10 Most Important Gay Moments in Comic Book History.”
It’s not that the list focuses exclusively on DC and Marvel’s cape-and-Spandex output — that’s fine, so long as you’re willing to add a qualifier or two in your heading and introduction. What truly rankles is author Eric Diaz’s attempt to claim that this list is definitive, i.e. the “most important” moments evar, even though it conveniently ignores any comic that wasn’t published by DC or Marvel (and I’m sorry, but jokes about Batman and Robin’s “special relationship” don’t count). The best comparison I could make would be writing a post entitled the “Best Movies of the 20th Century” and then only including action films. Directed by Michael Bay.
Had Diaz gone outside his reading habits and taken five minutes to do some research, or at least done a Google search for “lgbt comics,” he would have found an large number of books, graphic novels, comic strips and what have you that carry more cultural weight than Rictor swapping spit with Shatterstar.
But rather than howl at the winds I thought I’d attempt to respond by offering my own simple list. This by no means meant to be a definitive or authoritative (or even necessarily matches my own reading tastes and preferences). Rather, I just looked at my bookshelves and quickly pulled off six gay- or lesbian-themed comics I thought were either more influential or aesthetically pleasing than anything Diaz came up with. It really wasn’t very difficult.
Harvey Pekar, the irascible, inimitable observational writer whose slice-of-life series American Splendor has been a cornerstone of alternative comics for decades now, turned 70 yesterday. (That’s right, he’s only seemed like a lovably grumpy old man until now.) To celebrate Pekar’s big Seven-Oh, SMITH Magazine–already the home of Harvey’s current comics outlet, The Pekar Project–has commissioned over 90 artists and counting to draw Pekar portraits for its Harvey Heads gallery. Contributors so far include Jeff Smith, Jim Mahfood, Jeffrey Brown, Alison Bechdel, Renee French, Molly Crabapple, Bryan Talbot, Bob Sikoryak, Peter Kuper, Josh Neufeld, Joshua W. Cotter, The Quitter‘s Dean Haspiel, longtime American Splendor artist Gary Dumm and many, many, many more. Click the link and soak up the splendor.
Comic-strip-style book reviews seem to be all the rage these days. First it was Ward Sutton, now Alison Bechdel reviews Jane Vandenburgh’s memoir, A Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth Century, for the New York Times. (Thanks to Jeff Lester for the link.)