Legal | EC Comics writer and editor Al Feldstein and the estate of Mad editor and artist Harvey Kurtzman have taken steps to reclaim the copyright to their early work under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 (the same provision invoked by the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster). Feldstein has already reached an agreement with the William M. Gaines Agency, which holds the rights to Tales from the Crypt and other classic EC comics of the 1950s; the deal will bring him a small amount of money and the freedom to use the art any way he wants in his autobiography. Kurtzman’s people are in the early stages of negotiations with Warner Bros./DC Comics, which holds the rights to Mad magazine. [The Comics Journal]
Graphic novels | BookScan’s Top 20 graphic novels list for October makes for strange bedfellows, with The Walking Dead Compendium Two at No. 1, Chris Ware’s Building Stories at No. 2, and the third volume of Gene Yang’s Avatar: The Last Airbender at No. 3. It’s an interestingly mixed list, with the usual sprinkling of manga (Sailor Moon, Naruto, Bleach), a volume of Stephan Pastis’ Pearls Before Swine compilations, and four more volumes of The Walking Dead. And bringing up the rear, at #20, the perennial Watchmen. [ICv2]
There have been some hearty proclamations recently that everything’s coming up Milhouse for the sales end of comics: “the best quarter in a decade” and “everyone up [in sales],” celebrates expert numbers-cruncher John Jackson Miller. ICv2′s recent market white paper concluded they were “bullish on the business.” I’m not denying there have been some encouraging signs. But when a highly acclaimed and savvy publisher like Archaia Entertaiment nearly disintegrates right under our noses because it switched bookstore distributors last year, then clearly not everyone is up. And not everything is quite as rosy as is being suggested.
Comic Book Resources’ recent interview with new Archaia President Jack Cummins should’ve turned more heads. This should have been a cold, hard reminder that small- and even medium-sized publishers frequently dance along a thin line between success and failure.
Archaia Entertainment has announced its programming and signing schedule and giveaways for New York Comic Con, held Thursday through Sunday at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. The publisher will use the event to debut the hardcovers Last Days of an Immortal, by Fabien Vehlmann and Gwen de Bonneval, The Grand Duke, by Yann and Romain Hugault, and Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 Black and White, by David Petersen.
Along with three panels — “How to Prepare an Effective Submission” on Friday, “Transmedia in Graphic Novel Publishing” on Saturday and “How to Tell a Better Story Through World-Building” on Sunday — Archaia has scheduled more than 100 autograph sessions (Booth #1520), including those by Brian Froud and Wendy Froud (the complete schedule can be found on the company’s website).
In addition, Archaia will give away copies of its Free Comic Book Day hardcover to kids (while supplies last), along with convention-exclusive autograph cards for upcoming titles Bolivar, Cyborg 009, The Joyners in 3D, Mumbai Confidential, Pantalones, TX, The Reason for Dragons, Space: 1999: Aftershock and Awe, Spera Vol. 2, and Strange Attractors. There also will be limited-edition tip-ins for the hardcovers Cursed Pirate Girl by Jeremy Bastian and Iron: Or, the War After by Shane-Michael Vidaurri. Both creators will be signing throughout the convention.
But wait! There’s more! Like copies of a 26-page preview for Charles Soule’s upcoming graphic novel Strange Attractors, demonstrations of Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game Box Set, a limited number of portfolio reviews by Archaia CCO Mark Smylie, and gaming stations for demonstrations of Meteor Entertainment’s upcoming free-to-play online mech game Hawken.
Archaia Entertainment struck a deal with Skelton Crew Studio to produce prop replicas based on David Petersen’s award-winning fantasy series Mouse Guard. The line of pewter collectible swords, shields and other armament will debut in time for Christmas with the Black Axe (you can see the design at right).
Launching in 2006, Mouse Guard centers on an elite group of warriors charged with protecting their fellow mice from the elements, predators and other dangers. The series has won Eisner Awards for best anthology, best graphic album and best publication for kids.
Owned by Israel Skelton, the Maine-based Skelton Crew crafted the collectible keys based on IDW Publishing’s Locke & Key and is creating replicas from Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory.
“I’m thrilled about getting these into the hands of my fans,” Petersen said in a statement. “Israel has done amazing work bringing the Locke & Key keys to the real world, and I love working with him on the intricacies of all of the mouse weapons and arms so that he can work his magic with them. He’s a true craftsman who cares about the details as much as my fans do.”
Morrissey, who edited such titles as Fraggle Rock, Cow Boy, Feeding Ground and the Eisner Award-winning Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard, wasn’t a permanent employee, but rather a contract worker. He told Comic Book Resources that the publisher, which had a strong showing over the weekend at the 24th annual Eisner Awards, is reducing the number of titles it releases this year and next, and there simply wasn’t enough work for him.
“I will still be working on some titles, including the next Mouse Guard anthology,” Morrissey told CBR. “David [Peterson] and I are working on that together, and it features talent like Stan Sakai and Rick Geary. There’s some really awesome talent in the next anthology.”
Before joining Archaia in 2009, Morrissey was a senior editor for nearly five years at Tokyopop, where he oversaw such original graphic novels as The Dreaming, Undertown and Mail Order Ninja, and an editor for nearly a year at BOOM! Studios, where he developed the company’s Disney/Pixar properties.
Archaia Entertainment has confirmed it’s partnering with Japan’s Ishimori Productions to publish a Western re-imagining of Shotaro Ishinomori’s classic sci-fi manga Cyborg 009.
Set to debut in 2013 digitally and in print, the hardcover graphic novel written by F.J. DeSanto (The Spirit, Immortals: Gods and Heroes) and Bradley Cramp (Gattaca) and illustrated by Marcus To (Red Robin, The Huntress) will feature the classic characters and origin, “re-imagined for a new worldwide audience.”
Debuting in 1964 in Weekly Shonen King, Ishinomori’s Cyborg 009 follows nine humans kidnapped to undergo experiments by the evil Black Ghost organization that transform the test subjects into living weapons. The nine cyborgs band together to rebel against their captors and stop Black Ghost from plunging the world into a perpetual state of war.
“On the surface, Cyborg 009 appears to be a science fiction action/adventure story,” DeSanto said in a statement. “However, Ishinomori’s creation has endured because it’s a story about the human spirit triumphing over incredible adversity. The sort of emotional trauma these nine people experience could happen to anyone, anywhere, and at any time. Instead of becoming dark and oppressive, the story evolves into a message of hope and cooperation between people of different countries and races who share the singular goal of bringing peace to the planet. Humanity is the heart and soul of Cyborg 009.”