SDCC: "Batman: The Killing Joke" Cast & Crew Debuts Film at Comic-Con International
Digital Comics | Digital comics sales dropped 10% in 2015, according to calculations by the geek-industry retail site ICv2. This is the first decline since the category started to take off in 2010. “Industry participants” offered a number of possible explanations for this, including the leveling-off of new tablet and e-reader purchases and competition from Humble Bundle and other bundle services. Conspicuously not mentioned is comiXology’s decision, in spring of 2014, to eliminate in-app purchases on iOS devices, removing the most convenient way to buy comics from the most popular platform. The article does mention that sales through the Google Play store and direct digital sales from publishers of DRM-free comics had increased, although they are still a small segment of the industry. Also, e-book sales in general are down. Despite all this, ICv2 calculates that digital sales totaled $90 million last year, which is still pretty good considering that the market was just $1 million in 2009. [ICv2]
Conventions | New York Comic Con will extend the party with a series of events tagged “NYCC Presents,” running from October 3-9 (the con itself is October 6-9). The events include a “We the Heroes” Ball, Doctor Who costume and trivia contest, a live episode of “Game Grumps,” and “Shipwreck Presents: A Literary Erotic Fanfic Competition based on William Goldman’s The Princess Bride.” All events require separate tickets—your NYCC badge won’t get you in. [New York Comic Con]
Anime Expo, the largest anime convention in North America, ended yesterday, and after a flurry of news on Friday, there were more announcements over the weekend: Yen Press will publish the manga “Erased” and “Bungo Stray Dogs,” Kodansha Comics has an “Attack on Titan” themed choose-your-own-adventure book in the works, Viz will continue to publish the “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” manga, and Vertical has licensed the “Nisimonogatari” light novels.
Yen Press had already announced a number of new licenses, but at a panel sponsored by the Japanese publisher Kadokawa, they revealed two more: The time-travel story “Erased” and the action manga “Bungō Stray Dogs.” Anime based on both series are currently available on Crunchyroll. Earlier this year, Kadokawa purchased a 51% share of Yen Press, making it a joint venture with the original owner, Hachette. At the same time, Kadokawa announced a partnership with Crunchyroll. At the panel, Yen Press publisher Kurt Hassler said Yen manga and light novels are now available digitally on Kadokawa’s Bookwalker e-book service and that the company’s goal is to make all its books available in digital format. Yen also publishes on other e-book platforms such as Amazon’s Kindle.
Manga | Nearly two decades into his blockbuster fantasy adventure, it appears creator Eiichiro Oda still has a long way to go before he completes the epic One Piece. Just ahead of the manga’s 18th birthday on Sunday, its current editor Taku Sugita revealed on a Tokyo radio show that somewhere around the 60th volume Oda estimated the story had reached the halfway point. With the release of Vol. 78 earlier this month, Sugita guesses One Piece is “maybe” 70-percent complete. “I don’t think it’s at 80 percent yet,” he said. “Something like that.” [Rocket News24]
Creators | Scott Snyder discusses his horror comic Wytches, starting with why he used the unusual spelling: “We wanted to do something that basically would announce that we were trying to make the classic monster our own. For me, it separated the witches that you knew from what we were going to do in our book. It was an aesthetic thing and it made it look a little more ancient.” [Suicide Girls]
Political Cartoons | Laurent Sourisseau, the editor of Charlie Hebdo, says he will not draw any more cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. “We’ve done our job. We have defended the right to caricature,” Sourisseau told the German magazine Stern, but he also said, “We have drawn Muhammad to defend the principle that one can draw whatever they want. It is a bit strange though: we are expected to exercise a freedom of expression that no one dares to.” Sourisseau was in the Charlie Hebdo offices when they were attacked in January by armed gunmen who killed eight of his colleagues and four other people. He survived by pretending to be dead. “[W]hen it was over, there was no sound. No complaints. No whining. That is when I understood that most were dead,” he said. Sourisseau is the second Charlie Hebdo staffer to declare he will no longer draw cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad; the cartoonist Luz said in April that “I am tired of him, just like [former French President Nicolas] Sarkozy. I am not going to spend my life drawing them.” [Deutsche Welle]
Manga | Tokyopop announced Thursday at Anime Expo that it will return to publishing new manga from Japan, and it has also acquired some anime licenses. In addition, it is launching an app, PopComics, that will allow users to upload and share their own comics. Tokoyopop was the largest manga publisher in the United States at the height of the manga boom, but it closed down its publishing program in 2011. In the past few years it has been making a slow-motion comeback, selling some of its properties as e-books and print-on-demand books and publishing three new volumes of Hetalia: Axis Powers. [Anime News Network]
Manga | The Naruto spinoff Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring, which is running simultaneously in the Japanese and American versions of Shonen Jump, will end in the July 6 issue. [Anime News Network]
Fandom | Rob Salkowitz presents results of a recent survey of convention-goers conducted by the online ticket platform Eventbrite. Interestingly, they found almost complete gender parity (48.9 percent female, 48.7 percent male, and 3.1 percent non-binary/other) among convention-goers in general but much bigger skews in individual categories: “Comics, toys and gaming are predominantly male, while media, anime/manga and sci-fi/fantasy fandom are predominantly female.” A typical con-goer spends between $100 an $500, with comics fans being the biggest spenders and prints and original art the most popular thing to buy. There’s a lot more detail in the article about what people like and don’t like (biggest beef: lack of wi-fi an connectivity in convention centers). The survey updates and expands on a similar survey conducted last year. [ICv2]
Creators | Dark Horse announced that legendary Lone Wolf and Cub writer Kazuo Koike will be its guest of honor at Comic-Con International in San Diego, where he’ll sign July 18-19 at the publisher’s booth (#2615). In 2014, Dark Horse will debut New Lone Wolf and Club, the 11-volume series by Koike and Hideki Mori (original artist Goseki Kojima passed away in 2000) that picks up where the initial saga ended. [Dark Horse]
Awards | The Judging Panel for the British Comic Awards has been announced. This panel will choose the final winners from a shortlist sent to them by the Judging Committee, which screens nominations from the public. [Forbidden Planet]
Commentary | Steve Morris pens a thoughtful essay on cost versus content in comics and what exactly you are paying for with your $2.99 (or, more frequently these days, $3.99). [The Beat]
Legal | Palestinian cartoonist Mohammed Saba’aneh was released from an Israeli prison on Monday, as scheduled. Saba’aneh, who was originally held without charges and eventually sentenced to five months for “contacts with a hostile organization,” drew several cartoons while he was in prison and plans to do a show of his prison drawings, focusing on Palestinian prisoners who, he says, are in prison “just because they are Palestinians.” [PRI’s The World]
Manga | In a major coup for a manga publisher, Digital Manga (which, contrary to its name, also published print manga) announced at Anime Expo that it has signed a deal with Tezuka Productions to publish all of Osamu Tezuka’s works in North America. While the details aren’t entirely clear, it sounds like Digital is working on some new licenses and will have digital rights to books released here in print by other publishers. [Anime News Network]
Legal | The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments today on whether a negotiated 2001 deal DC Comics should prevent the daughter of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel from reclaiming his portion of the rights to the Man of Steel under a provision of U.S. copyright law. A federal judge determined in 2008 and 2009 that the writer’s heirs had successfully recaptured the copyright, asserting that because the 2001 agreement hadn’t been formalized, there was no deal. The appeals court is also set to review a ruling allowing DC to sue Marc Toberoff, who represents both the Siegel family and the estate of his collaborator Joe Shuster, for interfering with its agreements with the heirs. [Business Week]
Creators | Collaborators Justin Jordan and Patrick Zircher talk about the latest Valiant relaunch, Shadowman. [USA Today]
Creators | John Ostrander, who writes several Star Wars comics for Dark Horse, gives his take on Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm. [ComicMix]
Comic strips | After outsourcing all editorial, production, sales, marketing and distribution functions for its 150 comics and other features to Universal Uclick earlier this year, United Media closed the doors on its Madison Avenue office in New York on Friday. [Comic Riffs]
Comic Books | A copy of Detective Comics #27 owned by multimillionaire hotel heir Ben Novack Jr., who was murdered in 2009, could go up for auction and end up paying to defend his widow Narcy Novack. Narcy is facing charges that she had the comic fan and his mother murdered, plundered his bank accounts, then tried to pin the crimes on her own daughter. Narcy’s daughter, May Abad, has persuaded a Broward County judge to hold off on the auction and give her at least 14 days to find suitable storage and insurance for Novack’s massive collection. [Miami Herald]
For manga and anime fans, Anime Expo is the first of the big summer cons. This year only a handful of manga publishers showed up, but all had plenty of energy and some new announcements to make. That’s probably a good snapshot of the manga industry as a whole—there are only a few players left, but the survivors are pretty robust. Anime News Network has pretty exhaustive coverage of the con, and Animanga Nation does a nice job with a more casual feel.
Out of curiousity, I looked over con coverage from previous years to see who is missing this year. Bandai, Digital Manga, Tokyopop and Viz are clearly the survivors of the manga wars, although it was touch-and-go for Tokyopop for a while. Missing from the roster are Dark Horse, Del Rey, Seven Seas, Udon, Yaoi Press, and Yen Press, all of which have appeared at AX in previous years (although not recently), and ADV Manga, Aurora, Broccoli, CMX, DrMaster, and Go! Comi, which have all shut down or at least gone dark.
I thought it would be interesting to see how AX has evolved over the years, so let’s climb into the time machine and take a look at past cons.