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Comics A.M. | Origins of Green Lantern Simon Baz; ‘Ultimate’ legacy

Green Lantern Simon Baz

Comics | Green Lantern writer Geoff Johns talks with The Wall Street Journal about the introduction this week of the newest member of the Green Lantern Corps Simon Baz, an Arab-American Muslim from Dearborn, Michigan: “As fantastic as the concept of Green Lantern is of an intergalactic police force, the comic has had a history of grounding in the now and dealing with modern characters and concepts and Simon Baz is that. I wanted to create a character that everyday Americans have to deal with. When 9/11 hit, he was 10-years-old. His family was devastated, just like every other American. He’s grown up in that world. It’s just part of the daily life, the new normal.” [Speakeasy]

Comics | The new Spider-Man, Miles Morales, reaches a key moment in Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #14, when Aunt May gives him Peter Parker’s web-shooters and the formula for for his web fluid. Writer Brian Michael Bendis explains why he waited so long to pass along the iconic tools: “‘This is like Excalibur. This is it. This is like being bequeathed the sword,’ Bendis says. ‘But, young Miles and (his friend) Ganke trying to figure out how to make web fluid is going to be my favorite stuff to write ever in the history of writing of anything. Just because someone gives you a formula and says, “Here, cook this,” doesn’t mean you can.'” [USA Today]

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Kickstart My Art | Halloween Eve by Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare

If you’ve been wondering what Amy Reeder would be doing after her departure from Batwoman, here’s a treat, not a trick–she and writer Brandon Montclare (Fearsome Four) have teamed up for a creator-owned comic called Halloween Eve. The duo is currently raising money on Kickstarter to shoulder the cost of making it.

“It has been so rewarding to work on this,” Reeder said on her blog. “If I could give one person the biggest responsibility for my career at this point, it would be Brandon…he basically discovered me and helped me get work both when he was at Tokyopop and then Vertigo. And, he’s my best friend. So it’s nice that we have a great working relationship and to know that I’m not alone as I venture out into the creator-owned world. He really knows his stuff.”

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Kickstart My Art | Reading With Pictures’ Graphic Textbook


The comics literacy non-profit, Reading With Pictures is dedicated to getting comics into classrooms. In addition to cultivating research on the role of comics in education, the mostly volunteer organization seeks to produce its own comics for schools to use and would like your help for their second publication. I say “mostly volunteer,” but that doesn’t include the creators of the new book. They’ll be paid for their contributions and that – plus the large print run – is a major reason Reading With Pictures needs $65,000 to complete the project.

The first Reading With Pictures comic was the Harvey-nominated Reading With Pictures Anthology that featured work by Jill Thompson, Fred Van Lente, Raina Telgemeier, Chris Giarrusso, and others. The new compilation, The Graphic Textbook will include Ben Caldwell, Fred Van Lente, Ryan Dunlavey, Chris Schweizer, Russell Lissau, Marvin Mann, Amy Reeder, Janet Lee, Katie Cook, Roger Langridge, Josh Elder, Dean Trippe, and others.

The collection will contain 12 short stories (both fiction and non-fiction) that are appropriate for grades 3-6 and include a variety of subjects from Social Studies and Math to Language and Science. There will also be a Teacher’s Guide with “lesson plans customized to each story, research-based justifications for using comics in the classroom, a guide to establishing best classroom practices and a comprehensive listing of additional educational resources.”

It’s a great cause with some great creators and some nifty rewards ranging from copies of the book and original art to being drawn into one of the stories.

Comics A.M. | Single-issue sales jump 22% in February

Justice Legaue #6

Publishing | Single-issue comics sales last month were up 22.26 percent over February 2011, and graphic novels were up 15.6 percent, making for a good month for publishers and retailers. (Of course, there were five Wednesdays in February, which may have something to do with it.) As in previous months, DC sold the most comics but Marvel, with higher cover prices, topped its competitor in terms of dollar share. [ICv2]

Publishing | The top-selling graphic novel in bookstores last month was part one of Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise, written by Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese). The Walking Dead books took four of the top 20 spots, or a healthy 20 percent of the list, and 13 of the bestsellers were manga. [ICv2]

Publishing | Marvel is cutting costs on its $2.99 comics by going with “self covers,” which just means that the covers are the same paper as the inside of the comic, rather than heavier stock. As the insides are glossy paper anyway, Todd Allen feels the difference is barely noticeable—and that the real news is that Marvel is finding it necessary to cut costs once more. [The Beat]

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What Are You Reading? with Jason Green

Gold Digger

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at the comics, books and other things we’ve read this week. Today our special guest is Jason Green.

Jason Green is the editor of comics coverage for the St. Louis-based pop culture website PLAYBACK:stl, and a writer and editor for the comics collective Ink and Drink Comics, whose fourth release (a Western anthology titled Off the Wagon) will debut at this year’s C2E2.

To see what Jason and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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Comics A.M. | Digital comics market triples to $25 million

DC Comics app

Digital comics | ICv2 estimates the total value of the digital comics market in 2011 as $25 million, triple the 2010 figure, and boldly predicts that digital will account for 10 percent of the entire comics market in 2012. Digital sales grew faster in the second half of the year, which ICv2 attributes to three factors: DC’s decision to release its New 52 comics digitally the same day as print, the industry-wide trend toward same-day print and digital releases, and the proliferation of different platforms on which to read digital comics. As for digital taking away from print, the publishing executives ICv2 has spoken to over the past few months don’t seem to think that is happening. [ICv2]

Retailing | Retailer and journalist Matt Price takes the temperature at the ComicsPRO Annual Members Meeting, which kicks off today in Dallas, noting that members remain interested in DC’s publishing plans, and report “very strong sales” for Image’s Fatale and Thief of Thieves. [Nerdage]

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Amy Reeder shares process artwork for Batwoman #7 cover

Batwoman #7

Amy Reeder, who takes over the art duties on Batwoman with issue #6 with Richard Friend, shows off process artwork for the cover of Batwoman #7 on her Facebook page.

You probably saw the finished version in the recently released DC solicitations for March, but she has the pencils and inks up there too for those of you who like to see all stages of the process. Also, remember those variant covers that weren’t going to be used? Well, as you may know by now, the first one is being used for Batwoman #6, so hopefully the others will see print as well.

See Amy Reeder’s Batwoman variant covers that won’t see print

Batwoman #1 variant by Amy Reeder

Amy Reeder, who’ll share art duties with J.H. Williams III on Batwoman, reveals on her blog four variant covers for the upcoming series that, for unclear reasons, won’t be published.

“We had it set up that I would do variants for J.H.’s run and he would do variants for mine (meaning, the main covers during my arc would be drawn by me),” she writes. “AND I got to ink and color these, which really got my creative juices flowing.  It’s been a while since I’ve had that opportunity and I had a blast! So, I’d done four of the five variants, when I had found out that DC decided not to publish any variant covers on Batwoman.”

A second cover can be seen after the break. Visit Reeder’s blog to see more, as well as an unpublished Supergirl cover featuring the Teen Titans. Batwoman #1 arrives in stores on Sept. 14. Reeder’s story arc begins in February.

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DC reveals details about the relaunched Batman line

Ceçi n'est pas un Batman

Ceçi n'est pas un Batman

DC spent the day rolling out announcements about the Batman books in anticipation of its line-wide September relaunch…with one conspicuous absence until the very end.

So, Bruce Wayne is reclaiming sole possession of the mantle of the Bat, while Batman and Detective Comics are swapping creators: Batman writer/artist Tony Daniel will be taking over Detective Comics, while ‘Tec writer Scott Snyder is taking over Batman with artist Greg Capullo of Spawn fame. Both books will star Bruce Wayne rather than his protege and stand-in Dick Grayson beneath the cape and cowl.

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J.H. Williams comments on latest Batwoman delays

Batwoman #3

J.H. Williams III has commented on last week’s news that DC Comics is again postponing the debut of the eagerly anticipated Batwoman, saying, “This was not our choice, and as to why, I’m not at liberty to really discuss.”

The series, by Williams, W. Haden Blackman and Amy Reeder, previously had been set to premiere in February. However, in January the publisher rescheduled the first issue for April, the date that appeared in the sneak peek included in last week’s comics. But even as those books arrived in stores, the publisher was canceling solicitations for Batwoman #1-2.

“It’s a bit ironic that the release has been pushed back again considering that DC decided to show preview pages this same week,” Williams wrote Saturday on his blog, where he also previewed the cover for Issue 3.

He assured fans that “work is still commencing,” with the latest delay allowing the creators to complete more work: “The only real downside is that solicits were pulled on us twice, making readers heads spin, wish that didn’t happen, but it has, let’s just make the best of it. I’m fast approaching the middle of issue 3’s interior art, Haden and I’ve started working on script for issue 8, the first 5 covers are done, and Dave [Stewart] has had issue 2 in his hands for his special magic touch.”

DC has yet to announce a new release date for Batwoman #1.

DC Comics postpones Batwoman debut again

Sneak peek of Batwoman #1

Even as DC Comics previewed Batwoman #1 on Wednesday, word circulated online that the publisher has again canceled orders for the first two issues for resolicitation at a later date.

The move, revealed Tuesday in an email to retailers and confirmed by Comics on the Green and The Launchpad, marks the second delay in as many months. The highly anticipated series, by J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman and Amy Reeder, previously had been set to debut in February. But in January, the publisher rescheduled the first issue for April — a date that appears in sneak peek included in this week’s DC titles.

Although Batwoman, which spins out of Williams and Greg Rucka’s acclaimed run on Detective Comics, was widely expected to debut last summer, Williams explained in January that was never the case.

“February had been decided on the launch date by the company with reservations about that from me,” he wrote on his blog. “I felt that was a bit too soon in a realistic look at work progression. One of the reasons for this was that I had been seriously committed to making appearances around the world over this past year. I think maybe 3 months or more of work loss occurred during that time. I kept trying to point this out whenever discussions about schedule came up. When first discussing the launch date earlier last year we had originally wanted April 2011, and now ironically that is what we have. Only after solicits stating otherwise, causing some unnecessary frustrations.”

J.H. Williams III addresses Batwoman delay

Batwoman #1

As DC Comics’ solicitations confirmed yesterday, the much-anticipated debut of the Batwoman series has been moved from February to April — the date that writer-artist J.H. Williams III notes he originally wanted.

“Some think that this book was to launch last July,” the award-winning artist writes on his blog, “this was never the case, this was speculation on the part of some. The book was also never to launch in November either. The zero issue which came out at that time was never in the original plans, but was done as a bit of a reminder as requested by DC, and to set the stage, this of course took out time of the work already in progress. February had been decided on the launch date by the company with reservations about that from me. I felt that was a bit too soon in a realistic look at work progression. One of the reasons for this was that I had been seriously committed to making appearances around the world over this past year. I think maybe 3 months or more of work loss occurred during that time. I kept trying to point this out whenever discussions about schedule came up. When first discussing the launch date earlier last year we had originally wanted April 2011, and now ironically that is what we have. Only after solicits stating otherwise, causing some unnecessary frustrations.”

Williams, who’s collaborating on Batwoman with W. Haden Blackman and Amy Reeder, says his schedule was further complicated by the addition of the covers for the high-profile Batman Inc. (He’s since bowed out of that assignment, with the cover for Issue 5 being his last.)

“Even though there has been issues raised in the scheduling and plans being jumped the gun on, DC acknowledges for the greater good of the project we need more time,” he continues. “I’m glad that they saw this was a good idea, this will help maintain a certain standard that we’ve already set in place.”

Visit Williams’ blog for more of his comments, and to see his covers for Batman Inc. Batwoman #1 is set to debut on April 27, according to the DC Comics website (the solicitations released yesterday say April 6).

DC Comics delays Batwoman #1 until April

Batwoman #1

DC Comics’ Batwoman will undergo another delay, with the publisher moving the series’ debut from February to April.

The news was revealed online yesterday by retailers The Lauchpad and Comics on the Green. “What a surprise,” the latter wrote on the store’s Twitter account. “… It’s a JH Williams book, of course it’s not going to be on time.”

A spokesman for DC, which previewed art from the first issue just two weeks ago, didn’t respond this morning to a request for comment.

The much-anticipated comic, by J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman and Amy Reeder, initially was scheduled to begin in July, but instead DC released a one-shot in November designed to serve as a primer for the ongoing series.

This delay is only the latest bump in the road for the new Batwoman — lesbian socialite Kate Kane — whose introduction in summer 2006 was met with a hail of mainstream-media coverage, perhaps far more than the publisher had anticipated. A long-rumored Batwoman series faced one setback after another until finally, in February 2009, it was confirmed that the long-awaited Batwoman comic by Greg Rucka and Williams would become an arc of Detective Comics, timed to coincide with the “death”-induced absence of Batman. Their tenure ended in December 2009, with Detective #860, followed by a three-issue arc by Rucka and Jock.

The same month their acclaimed “Elegy” arc ended, Rucka revealed he and Williams would continue the story in Batwoman. But in April, Rucka announced he was walking away from the character, and from DC Comics. Less than two weeks later, the publisher confirmed it was still committed to Batwoman, with Williams sharing writing duties with Blackman and art duties with Reeder.

(via DC Women Kicking Ass)

Comics A.M. | Diamond plans digital service? Eisner judges named

Diamond Comic Distributors

Retailing | Rich Johnston confirms that Diamond Comic Distributors is developing a digital comics service that, in the words of a company representative, “will be entirely focused on driving sales of digital comic-related content through brick and mortar comic book specialty retailers.” No details were made available, but an official announcement is expected “in the near future.” In the meantime, Johnston gathers initial reactions from several retailers. [Bleeding Cool]

Publishing | Amit Desai, who has worked at Warner Bros. since 2004, has been named as DC Entertainment’s senior vice president, franchise management: “In his new role, Desai will develop and implement the individual franchise plans for Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, The Flash, MAD Magazine, Vertigo titles, and other DC properties. This will include driving wider cross-promotional support across all Time Warner divisions.” [press release]

Publishing | Alex Segura, former publicity manager at DC Comics, has been hired by Archie Comics as executive director of publicity and marketing. [press release]

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J.H. Williams III talks Batwoman, writing and ambitions

J.H. Williams III self-portrait

With his artwork on the Batwoman feature in Detective Comics, longtime artist J.H. Williams III cemented his position as one of the most forward-thinking illustrators in comics today. Following healthy attention this year at various awards ceremonies, DC Comics greenlit an ongoing Batwoman series and the chance for Williams to step up as both an artist and a writer. For Williams, it’s a longtime dream come true after furtive previous writing work on anthologies and miniseries, and a chance to fully embrace the process of creating comics — from the ground up.

Chris Arrant: Let’s start with an easy one – what are you working on today?

J.H. Williams III: I’m working on the tale end of Issue 1 of Batwoman, on the art side specifically. Then I’m going to put the finishing touches on a couple other scripts for the series.

Arrant: After [writer Greg Rucka’s] departure, you were the natural choice to continue Kate’s story – especially given the intense nature of the creation of the character, as well as your own writing background. But this is undoubtedly your biggest writing gig yet – so what did you do to freshen up your skills on plotting and dialogue?

Williams: Well , the first thing I did was examine the direction of the series so far. There were certain plot elements Greg planned on following up on that I’m going to avoid in case he plans on returning and pursuing those. But besides that, it was just a matter of taking a look at the material and seeing what sort of angle we could take that might not be expected. At the same time, it needs to feel natural as to what came before it. It was a matter of doing brainstorming, figuring out what the series needed, a lot of invention, and plans for a creating a rogue’s gallery that Batwoman can call her own.

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