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Viz Media is making its entire digital manga catalog available for download on Amazon Kindle devices, meaning readers will be able to access more than 1,500 volumes from 160 different series.
Launch titles include Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Bakuman, Demon Love Spell and Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic. New volumes, generally priced at $6.99 each, will be added each week, with future Kindle Store manga titles and print editions receiving near-simultaneous domestic release.
“We are strong advocates for the continued growth of digital manga content, and are very pleased to partner with Amazon to bring the world’s best titles to millions of avid readers and fans in North America,” Viz Media’s Gagan Singh said in a statement. “We invite Amazon Kindle users to explore VIZ Media’s extensive offerings, one of the most current, diverse, and also historically deep manga catalogs available anywhere.”
Legal | Archie Comics Co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit is in court again, this time claiming sexual harassment by former friend Sam Levitin, who was her liaison to Archie after her legal feud with the company and C0-CEO Jon Goldwater was settled last year. Levitin has responded that Silberkleit “lacks functional communication skills and has an unstable temperament” and has a “venomous and destructive effect” at the company. Levitin asked the court in December to remove Silberkleit as a trustee of the company, and she responded in April with the allegation of sexual harassment against both Levitin and Archie Comics. An outside firm hired by Archie determined that her claims were “unfounded,” and the publisher is not a party in the latest lawsuit. [New York Daily News]
Legal | Jeff Trexler takes an in-depth look at the copyright battle between Marvel and Jack Kirby’s children. [The Comics Journal]
Retailing | Following a price war during which it lost $11,000 a day, Overstock.com has vowed to match Amazon’s price on books, including graphic novels, going forward. Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne thinks he can get better prices from publishers who want to boost competition for Amazon. However, as ICv2 points out, Overstock’s graphic novel selection is smaller than Amazon’s, and prices overall have risen since their recent price war. [ICv2]
Creators | Todd McFarlane recently claimed no work that was “trying to get across a message” has succeeded as a comic, but Laura Sneddon finds proof to the contrary at the Stripped festival in Edinburgh, where she talked to Joe Sacco, Paul Cornell, Stephen Collins and Grant Morrison about the ideas that drive their comics. [New Statesman]
Welcome to “Report Card,” our new week-in-review feature. If “Cheat Sheet” is your guide to the week ahead, “Report Card” is a look back at the top news stories of the previous week, as well as a look at the Robot 6 team’s favorite comics that we read. The week before Comic-Con was a busy one for the industry, as all eyes look to San Diego.
Read on to find out what we thought of Batgirl, Eye of the Majestic Creature Vol. 2 and more.
Comics | A CGC-certified 9.6 copy of 1963′s The X-Men #1, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, fetched a private-sale record of $250,000 in a deal brokered by Pedigree Comics. That same comic, said to be one of just two certified near-mint copies in existence, went for a then-record $200,000 in March 2011; a 9.8 copy sold at auction in July 2012 for $492,938. The all-time record remains the $2.6 million paid in a 2011 auction for a near-mint copy of Action Comics #1. [CGC Comics]
Comics | Joe McCulloch puts together a nice guide to the self-published comics of Steve Ditko. [Comics Alliance]
Comics | If you want to read Franco-Belgian comics but don’t know where to start, Jared Gardner has you covered, with a brief introduction and some recommended works that have been translated into English. [Public Books]
Amazon Publishing has entered the world of comic books with Jet City Comics, which aims to publish titles digitally and in print, and distribute them through Kindle, the online storefront and comic shops. Now the comics industry can fret over unfair competition and business practices just like the book industry. Still, it’s a sign of the strength of the comics market that Amazon felt confident enough to launch the imprint.
As the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon deserves scrutiny. Is this new venture good for comics? Will the comics be any good? Let’s take a look at what we know so far and what’s to come.
Jet City Comics is a great name, and according to the imprint’s minisite, it’s borrowed from one of Seattle’s nicknames. Amazon is headquartered in Seattle, and the city skyline is even incorporated into the imprint’s logo. It’s such a great name, in fact, that the Jet City Comic Show has been using it since 2010. It seems like a potential for brand confusion, but I guess the mammoth Amazon doesn’t have to worry about competing with a local one-day convention. Best of all, however, the two entities seem friendly with each other: Jet City Comics was announced as a major sponsor for the show, which takes place Nov. 2 in Tacoma. The show endorsed Jet City Comics Senior Editor Alex Carr as a “huge comic book fan” and Amazon gifted a Kindle Fire HD as a raffle prize for pre-purchased tickets to the event. That kind of community support says a lot about the people running Jet City Comics and the leeway they’ve been given. A company the size of Amazon could’ve easily ignored the show, purchased the name or bullied them right out of the picture. That wins some big first-impression points from me.
Following its move into fan-fiction publishing with Kindle Worlds, Amazon entered the comic-book arena with Jet City Comics, an imprint that launches today with the debut of Symposium, a new digital series by Christian Cameron and Dmitry Bondarenko set in the “Foreworld” universe created by Neal Stephenson and others.
That will be followed in October by adaptations of George R.R. Martin’s short story “Meathouse Man,” illustrated by Raya Golden, and Hugh Howey’s dystopian novel Wool, written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, and illustrated Jimmy Broxton, Jet City will serialize its comics for the Kindle, and then offer bundled digital editions and print collections.
In addition to those launch titles, the imprint will re-release The Hedge Knight, by Ben Avery and Mike S. Miller, a prequel set in the world of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, in print and digital formats in November and its sequel The Sword Sword in early 2014.“My fans have been clamoring for the return of Dunk & Egg ever since the graphic novels of The Hedge Knight and The Sworn Sword went out of print several years ago,” Martin said in a statement, “so I am delighted to announce that Jet City Comics is bringing them back — newly formatted for digital readers, and in paper for those who still prefer the traditional formats. And Jet City will be bringing you something new as well: the graphic novel ‘Meathouse Man,’ adapted from one of my strangest, darkest, and most twisted short stories by the amazingly talented Raya Golden. I’m pleased and excited to be a part of Jet City’s takeoff. May they fly high.”
Amazon Publishing launched its Kindle Worlds store this morning with more than 50 works, including Shadowman: Salvation Sally by Tom King, X-O Manowar: Noughts and Crosses by Stuart Moore, and Harbinger: Slow Burn by Jason Star, all inspired by the Valiant Entertainment properties. In addition, the Self-Service Submission Platform is now open, allowing writers to publish stories based on certain licensed properties and earn royalties in the process.
Billed as the first commercial publishing platform for fan fiction, Kindle Worlds was announced last month as “a place for you to publish fan fiction inspired by popular books, shows, movies, comics, music, and games.”
Because it’s apparently never too early to get a jump start on best-of-the-year lists, Amazon.com has rolled out a rundown of the best comics and graphic novels of the year so far, led by Gilbert Hernandez’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story Marble Season (Drawn and Quarterly). Here’s the full Top 10, arranged according to sales:
- Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon, by Matt Fraction, David Aja, Javier Pulido and others (Marvel)
- Solo: The Deluxe Edition, by various (DC Comics)
- Thor: God of Thunder, Vol. 1: The God Butcher, by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic (Marvel)
- Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, by Lucy Knisley (First Second)
- MIND MGMT, Vol. 1, by Matt Kindt and Brendan Wright (Dark Horse)
- The Property, by Rutu Modan and Jessica Cohen (Drawn and Quarterly)
- The Comics Journal #302, edited by Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)
- Marble Season, by Gilbert Hernandez (Drawn and Quarterly)
- Iron: Or, the War After, by Shane-Michael Vidaurri (Archaia)
- The Creep, John Arcudi, Scott Allie and Jonathan Case (Dark Horse)
The editors’ picks for the best of the year so far in each category can be found here.
Here at ROBOT 6, we’re hardened hacks who generally don’t get too excited about any old rumor that’s doing the rounds, or report it as a news story, but seeing how I really want this one to be true, I’ll make an exception. Also, some great art vaguely relating to the story turned up recently, and its too good not to share.
The Facebook group Make a DREDD Sequel posted this over the weekend:
From an UNCONFIRMED SOURCE, it has come to this page’s attention that DNA Films will be reviewing the blu-ray/DVD sales of DREDD in the coming weeks and will be deciding whether or not to make a sequel. If this is true, let’s show them how much we want that sequel! If you haven’t already, please buy the DVD or blu-ray! More news soon!
Of course, this is one anonymous source claiming to have another shadowy even-more-anonymous source, and as such should be taken with a double-sized pinch of salt. Who knows what vested interests are at work here, seeking to further their own agendas. Or then again, this could be completely true. Anyway, this has been enough to spark something of a spike in sales of the Dredd DVD. This was posted the next day:
When Amazon Publishing unveiled Kindle Worlds last month, one of the first questions in comics circles was which publisher would be the first to sign on to the program, which allows fan-fic writers to earn royalties for certain corporate-approved stories. Now we know the answer: Valiant Entertainment.
The recently revived publisher was announced this morning as part of the second wave of licensors, alongside bestselling authors Hugh Howey (Silo Saga), Barry Eisler (John Rain novels), Blake Crouch (Wayward Pines) and Neal Stephenson (Foreworld Saga). Under the agreement, writers will be able to create and sell stories inspired by Bloodshot, X-O Manowar, Archer & Armstrong, Harbinger and Shadowman, with more properties expected to be added later.
In addition, the Kindle Worlds Store will launch later this month with more than 50 commissioned works, including “Valiant-branded” short stories by Jason Starr, Robert Rodi, Stuart Moore and others. The Kindle Worlds self-service submission platform will open at the same time.
A week that began with Yahoo’s $1.1 billion deal for Tumblr got even stranger this morning with Amazon Publishing’s announcement of Kindle Worlds, billed as the first commercial publishing platform for fan fiction. In short, fanfic writers can now earn royalties for certain corporate-sanctioned stories.
For the launch, Amazon Publishing has secured licenses from Alloy Entertainment, the book-packaging division of Warner Bros. Television, for Cecily von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl, Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars and L.J. Smith’s The Vampire Diaries — all bestselling young-adult series that have spawned hit television shows. More licenses are expected to be announced soon.
Retailing | As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on the Marketplace Fairness Act, Jacob Weisberg looks at how Amazon and Congress have managed to delay online sales taxes for more than a decade, giving online retailers a significant advantage over brick-and-mortar stores. Amazon, which has long fought any attempts to collect sales tax through lobbying, campaign contributions and threats to move to warehouse jobs, now supports the legislation, with Weisberg contending the retail giant “has played out the clock longer than it dared hope and would now like to be able to build warehouses everywhere without doing state-by-state battle over its ‘physical presence.’” The bill seems likely to pass the Senate, but its fate in the House is far less certain. [Slate.com]
Publishing | DC Comics has put together a guide to its graphic novel backlist, which will be available both in print and digitally. [Publishers Weekly]
As we noted this morning in Comics A.M., Amazon has quietly rolled out Kindle Comic Creator, a free tool that allows creators and publishers to transform their comics into Kindle books. A video on the company’s website lays out the pretty simple process, using Thom Zahler’s Love and Capes as an example.
KC2, as the cool kids say, allows for the easy creation of guided navigation, page turns and double-page spreads, and can import single- or double-page images in a variety of formats (PDF, JPG, etc.). The tool also detects the panels, and will recommend an order that will best guide readers through the story. (The full user guide can be found here.)
From the quarter bin to the slabbed copy sold at auction, sales of used comics are an important factor in the collectors’ market. Many a childhood comics habit started out with with secondhand copies picked up at thrift shops or garage sales for a dime, and a hefty area of the floor at every comics convention I have been to has been set aside for dealers with tables and tables of longboxes filled with old issues.
That’s one comics tradition unlikely to translate to the digital era: A federal judge has ruled the doctrine of first sale does not apply to digital files. In this case, they’re music files, but the case is being closely watched by book publishers.
The doctrine of first sale basically says that once you’ve bought a copyrighted product, you can re-sell it, rent it out, lend it, or do whatever you like with it — except reproduce it — without any obligation to the copyright owner. This allows comics shops to sell used comics and libraries to lend out graphic novels without having to pay royalties, but for obvious reasons, its application to digital products is problematic.