"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Comic Books, Film
Digital comics | Japanese publisher Kodansha has launched a free Magazine Pocket manga app for iOS and Android devices, which in addition to titles already serialized in Weekly Shonen Magazine features two exclusive spinoffs: Fairy Tail Spinoff: Twin Dragons of Sabertooth, springing out of Fairy Tail, and Brass of Diamond! Seidō High School Wind Instrument Club, based on Ace of Diamond. The app boasts more than 30 titles, with some chapters offered for free and others requiring a fee. [Anime News Network]
Retailing | “In Hungary there is little or nil culture for comics,” says Arpád Barabás, owner of the Budapest comic shop Trillian. “The main reason is that between 1946 and 1989 there was nothing except for the Boy Scout propaganda publications in this genre, all other things having been prohibited.” Barabás, who goes by the nickname Grif, is working hard to fill that vacuum, mostly with imported comics, but because of the cost, very few have been translated into Hungarian. [The Budapest Times]
Creators | Hajime Isayama’s hometown of Hita City has named him “Tourism Friendship Ambassador to the ‘Beautiful Riverside Location of Hita.'” Isayama, the creator of Attack on Titan (which describes a city under siege by man-eating giants and defended by teenagers), came to town over the weekend for a cultural event titled “Shingeki no Satogaeri” (“Attack on Returning Home”), and he mentioned in a speech that the area was his inspiration for the scenery in the manga. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Dark Horse announced there are 500,000 copies of its Plants vs. Zombies: Lawnmageddon graphic novel in print; this presumably means that sales are in that range as well. The key here may may be that the book is available at Scholastic book fairs, where the numbers really add up. [Dark Horse]
Image Comics co-founder Rob Liefeld already keeps his fans up to date through his website and active Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. But now the artist has gone a step further, launching an iOS app.
Introduced Thursday on the iTunes store, the free Liefeld App allows fans to browse and share some of his art from the past two decades, add his convention appearances to their calendars, access his biography, watch videos, see the latest comic book releases, and even ask him questions.
Humanoids, the venerable publisher of The Incal and The Metabarons, has launched its own Humanoids Comics app for iOS and Android with more than 60 digital titles. With the debut comes the company’s move to same-day digital release.
Customers also will be given the option to get a free digital copy with each Humanoids graphic novel they purchase. Anyone who downloads the app during the first month will be given $25 credit toward the purchase of the first volume of any Humanoids series.
“This offer, which will be available for a month, will be a great opportunity for our readers to discover new titles, as well explore the Humanoids App as not just a graphic novel and comics reader, but also a useful and easy platform to browse the Humanoids catalog on the iPad, full of many exciting features and exclusive deals,” Humanoids Inc. Director Alex Donoghue said in a statement.
There’s one interesting wrinkle, however: Humanoids combines volumes into omnibus editions for its print releases, but it will sell the volumes individually on the digital app, with a price range of $2.99 to $5.99.
Now based in Los Angeles, Humanoids was founded in 1974 in Paris by Moebius, Jean-Pierre Dionnet, Philippe Druillet and Bernard Farkas in order to publish Métal Hurlant.
ComiXology was the top-grossing non-game iPad app in the iTunes App Store in 2013, coming in at No. 11, just ahead of The New York Times. They were the only non-game apps to crack the Top 20.
In addition, the digital-comics platform announced it has served more than 6 billion pages — that figure includes both paid and free — since its launch four years ago. ComiXology trumpeted 2 billion pages just slightly more than a year ago.
“In a billion-dollar marketplace with competition between over a million apps, it’s gratifying to rank as the Top Grossing non-game iPad App in the entire iTunes App Store,” comiXology CEO David Steinberger said in a statement. “This past year has been a great year for comics and comiXology!”
Last year saw the company further expand its industry domination with distribution deals with the likes of UDON Entertainment, Viz Media Europe, Avatar Press, and 15 French publishers, partnered with eBay, and introduced gift cards. In October, comiXology also released findings from a survey that found its female readership has grown from 5 percent to 20 percent.
An online-privacy advocacy group has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate MarvelKids.com and the Hello Kitty Carnival mobile app, which it insists fail to protect children’s personal information as required by federal law.
In twin complaints filed Wednesday, the Center for Digital Democracy claims neither Marvel nor Sanrio Digital “provides adequate notice or obtains verifiable parental consent prior to collecting, using, or disclosing personal information about its child users,” as mandated by the 14-year-old Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The complaints are the first to be filed since the FTC implemented stricter rules in July.
Launched in January 2008, MarvelKids is a hub “designed to entertain and educate children” using the company’s kid-friendly comics, animated series and games. Visitors can watch episodes and clips from shows like Ultimate Spider-Man and Wolverine and the X-Men, read issues of titles like Marvel Adventures Spider-Man and assorted Power Pack team-ups, and play upward of 20 online games.
Bitstrips, the Toronto-based startup behind those inescapable do-it-yourself avatars and comic strips on Facebook, has secured $3 million in funding from Hong Kong venture capital firm Horizons Ventures. The news was announced this morning, appropriately enough, with a comic strip.
Tokyo-based software developer Panel Nine has now made its digital graphic novels app Sequential available in the United States and worldwide. The free iPad app, which “specializes in sophisticated digital graphic novels designed for adults from the world’s leading creators,” launched in May in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The company has already partnered with U.K. publishers Blank Slate Books, Myriad Editions, Great Beast, Tabella and Knockabout, and deals with SelfMadeHero and Walker Books forthcoming. U.S. publishers are promised soon.
If you’re a little bummed about not getting to go to San Diego this year, The Devastator has developed a way for you to experience the hustle and bustle of the convention without actually being there: Comic-Con Star Stalker, billed as “the first-ever video game about Comic-Con” (I doubt anyone can dispute that claim).
Available as a free app for iPad and iPhone beginning Monday, Comic-Con Star Stalker casts players as Seth, a fanboy trying to score as many celebrity autographs as he can: “What stands in your way? Ravenous crowds, clunky cosplayers and overzealous security guards. So, y’know, all of Comic-Con.” It’s a 2D endless-runner game in which Seth leaps over attendees, collects power-ups (nachos, energy drinks and swag), and collects autographs.
If you do make it to Comic-Con, The Devastator crew will be set up at Booth F-03, where attendees will be able to play Comic-Con Star Stalker on a mini-arcade.
Today Panel Nine launches Sequential, a storefront app that will make available digital editions of several publishers from the current U.K. renaissance in graphic novel publishing, including Blank Slate, Knockabout and Myriad Editions, with others set to follow.
I always think of Blank Slate Publisher Kenny Penman as one of the great patrons of the comic arts. One of the world’s most successful comics retailers, his love of the medium has led him into also becoming one of its most innovative publishers. He’s also not shy with his opinions. Recalling some distinctly anti-digital comments from him on Twitter, I asked him about his change of heart, and how going digital can only help spread the word about the great work coming out of the United Kingdom.
Comic strip fans, rejoice! Universal Uclick’s GoComics has debuted a free app that enables you to read comics on your mobile phone or tablet. While Doonesbury, Peanuts, Pearls Before Swine and The Boondocks are among the offerings, it’s Calvin and Hobbes that undoubtedly will generate the most excitement.
Slate.com‘s Will Oremus notes that it appears to be the first time Bill Watterson’s beloved strip has appeared (legally) on mobile devices; presumably it’s with the cartoonist’s blessing. However, while Gary Larson’s Far Side would seem perfect for phones, he’s yet to make the leap to digital.
As we finish off Year Five of digital comics (depending on how you count things), the distribution method is positioned to bring in a continually growing sector of new readers.
comiXology, the market leader, is ending 2012 as the third highest-grossing app of the year for the iPad. That’s up from the 10th spot last year, which is even more remarkable when you consider virtually no other app made an appearance on both lists. I can’t imagine that could be accomplished strictly with purchases from direct-market customers crossing over to digital. And when you take into account that direct-market sales have also been improving, that couldn’t happen even if every reader in comics got a big raise this year and was buying both digital and print copies. Worst-case scenario, we’re winning back lapsed readers. But mixed within those two groups (current and lapsed/returning readers) has to be a third, even if only a small percentage at this time. It seems too good to be true but it’s becoming more and more likely that the elusive new reader is being reached.
As digital sales continue to grow (“getting close to 25 to 30% of print sales,” for Robert Kirkman), several elements are in place, or just about in place, that could be creating a perfect storm to increase that new readers section of the pie.
Madefire, the company Dave Gibbons mentioned in his recent interview with us, this morning launched a free iPad app with new motion comics by the Watchmen co-creator, Mike Carey, Liam Sharp, Robbie Morrison and others.
The Madefire App debuts with the first episodes of the “Motion Books” Treatment: Tokyo and Treatment: Mexico City, by Gibbons, Kinman Chan and Robbie Morrison, and Mono, by Ben Wolstenholme and Sharp. Subsequent episodes will be available twice a month. There are also previews of future comics by Carey and David Kendall, Haden Blackman and Gary Erskine, and others.
“Madefire is igniting a new era by creating a modern, dynamic reading experience and bringing that to the millions of iPad users around the world,” Gibbons said in a statement. “It is exciting to be able to bring this robust storytelling into the 21st century while also democratizing the ability to publish comic books.”
Watch a video demonstrating the “immersive experience” of the Motion Books below. The Madefire App is available for free from iTunes.
With the launch of the Kickstarter campaign for Sullivan’s Sluggers, by Mark Andrew Smith and James Stokoe, it seems only fitting that ESPN’s Visuals blog should spotlight another baseball-themed comic, Ryan Woodward’s upcoming “animated graphic novel” Bottom of the Ninth.
An animator, storyboard artist and professor whose film credits include The Iron Giant, Where the Wild Things Are and The Avengers, Woodward has crafted the story of Candy Cunningham, the 18-year-old daughter of an aging baseball star who herself boasts phenomenal athletic abilities (as well as a temper). The futuristic tale follows her rise to fame and glory in Tao City as she grapples with identity issues and the true meaning of happiness.
The rather novel blend of comics and animation is planned for release as a series of apps, with a prologue set to debut sometime soon. In the meantime, you can watch the incredibly slick trailer, and check out some of Woodward’s art, below.
DC Entertainment has rolled out details of its new monthly kids magazine and mobile app built around Cartoon Network’s DC Nation programming block, touted at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo.
According to Variety, the 64-page DC Nation Super Spectacular will debut on newsstands next month, featuring new comics based on DC Nation shows like Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series, as well as programming details and exclusive content, like “DC Nation Secret Files.”
The DC Nation app, meanwhile, boasts free digital first issues of such comics as Batman Adventures, Superman Adventures, Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! and Tiny Titans, as well as the first six installments of “DC Nation Secret Files.” In addition, more than 100 kid-friendly DC titles, including Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade and the original Young Justice, are available for 99 cents. The features appear virtually identical to those of DC’s LEGO Hero Factory app, which debuted in January; Warner Bros. Interactive’s upcoming video game LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is sponsoring DC Nation Super Spectacular.
The trade paper notes that since debuting in March, the DC Nation animated block has improved Cartoon Network’s season-to-date ratings 32 percent among boys 6 to 11.