Publishing | Heidi MacDonald catches word that Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik is moving on to a new job, which will be announced next month at Comic-Con International (Rich Johnston contends that gig is at BOOM! Studios). Friday will be Sablik’s last day at Top Cow; Social Marketing Coordinator Jessi Reid will assume his marketing duties. [The Beat, Bleeding Cool]
Creators | Through its partnership with the Small Press Expo, the Library of Congress has acquired works by cartoonists Matt Bors, Keith Knight, Jim Rugg, Jen Sorensen, Raina Telgemeier, Matthew Thurber and Jim Woodring. Dean Haspiel’s minicomics collection was added to the holdings just last week. [Comic Riffs]
Legal | A federal judge has dismissed two claims by comics creator Jason Barnes, aka Jazan Wild, against songwriter Andreas Carlsson but will two others to move forward in a lawsuit over a graphic novel biography. The two signed a deal in 2007 for Dandy: Welcome to a Dandyworld, with Carlsson allegedly retaining the copyrights and Barnes receiving pay plus a percentage of book sales and a cut from any merchandising and movie deals. Carlsson filed suit three years later after Barnes posted Dandyworld online, a move the artist answered with a countersuit claiming, among other things, copyright infringement, bad faith and breach of contract because the songwriter published a bestselling novel in Sweden “inspired by a graphic novel created by Andreas Carlsson and Jazan Wild.” Barnes, who claims he never received residuals from the sales of the novel, asked a federal judge to determine copyright ownership. U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder refused to enter summary judgment about Barnes’ copyright, saying ownership will rest on whether he was an independent contractor of Carlsson’s employee, and dismissed the artists’ claims of negligent representation and fraudulent inducement. However, Carlsson will have to face accusations of breach of contract and bad faith.
If the name Jason Barnes, or Jazan Wild, seems familiar, it’s because two years ago he sued NBC and producer Tim Kring for $60 million, claiming elements from the third season of Heroes were stolen from his 2005-2006 comic series Jazan Wild’s Carnival of Souls. [Courthouse News Service]
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
With my first $15 I’d get the following: The Massive #1 (Dark Horse, $3.50), X-Men #30 (Marvel, $3.99), Spider-Men #1 (Marvel, $3.99), and Saucer Country #4 (Vertigo, $2.99). That leaves me roughly 50 cents out of my budget. I dunno if it was planned this way or not, but two of Brian Wood’s latest projects, The Massive and his run on the X-Men (of the un-Ultimate variety), kick off this week. We also have the debut of Spider-Men, the crossover that features Peter Parker of the 616 Marvel U meeting up with Miles Morales from the Ultimate-verse. I’ve enjoyed the Miles Morales/Ultimate Spider-Man stories this far, which is the reason I’m getting it. Finally, Saucer Country is the best of the new Vertigo titles, featuring clever writing by Paul Cornell and great art by Ryan Kelly.
Add another $15 and I’d also get Captain America #13 (Marvel, $3.99), Uncanny X-Force #26 (Marvel, $3.99), Resurrection Man #10 (DC Comics, $2.99), and Frankenstein: Agent of Shade #10 (DC Comics, $2.99). Again, with some change left over for a candy bar or whatever. I laughed out loud at the big reveal at the end of the last issue of Captain America, as we learned who the new guy was behind the Scourge mask. I assume this is a What If? comic, along the lines of “What if (name redacted for spoiler reasons) wasn’t lame?” So I have to see this through. I mentioned this weekend on What Are You Reading? that I’d downloaded a whole bunch of the current run of Uncanny X-Force for 99 cents from comiXology, and since then I’ve completely caught up on the book, so I’ll definitley be getting the current issue. Add to that one of the final times I’ll get to see Abnett and Lanning’s Resurrection Man comic (sniff … well, it was probably a longshot anyway, based on how well his last comic did) and the debut of Matt Kindt on Frankenstein, and that rounds out my week of comics.
I don’t really have anything on my splurge radar this week, so maybe I’ll just hold onto the cash and save it for next time.
Shopping online is a beautiful thing if you know exactly what you’re looking for, but there are drawbacks to buying comics that way. One of the many advantages to shopping at a physical location is the ability to pick up comics and flip through them. Better than any five-page preview, the flip-through gives readers the chance to quickly look at the entire book to see if it catches their interests.
Archaia has launched a YouTube channel that allows online shoppers do that virtually. As you can see when you watch the video for Nate Cosby and Chris Eliopoulos’ Cow Boy below, it’s a simple concept: A pair of hands picks up an Arachaia book, looks it over, then flips through it, occasionally stopping on pages for a closer inspection. It goes all the way through the book, including the back matter and the back cover.
The project is still in an experimental phase, but the company’s already thinking about adding music or possibly narration. Hopefully it will catch on enough not only to encourage Archaia to post its entire catalog, but to nudge other publishers toward doing something similar.
Updated: As a commenter points out below, Fantagraphics has been doing this for a while now and has hundreds of titles available for flipping through.
Being a judge in the Eisner Awards meant making hard choices. It’s like being an admissions officer at Harvard: You could make a top-notch set of picks, throw them away, and still have a strong field for the second set. With six judges each having a different voice, sometimes a book that one or two of us think is the greatest thing since sliced bread doesn’t make the final cut.
Here’s my short list of comics that, if it were up to me, would have gotten Eisner nominations.
Best Limited Series
One of my favorite series of 2011 was Spontaneous, by Brett Weldele and Joe Harris. It’s a great crypto-mystery about spontaneous human combustion, with a nerdy know-it-all played off against an aggressive reporter. The story has its flaws, but I couldn’t put it down.
Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7)
Nina in That Makes Me Mad: We had an unusually strong field of children’s books, even after we split the category into two age groups, but this book was my first choice for a nomination. The writing is sharp and perceptive, and Hilary Knight’s illustrations are amazing. Even the page layouts are awesome. This is a book that speaks directly to children, in a voice they can understand, yet does it with an elegance that adults can appreciate as well.
Today is Free Comic Book Day, and here’s a rundown of some of the comics that caught my interest. If you want to check ‘em out before you go, CBR has previews of many of the FCBD titles. (My FCBD comics came from my favorite Boston comics shop, Comicopia.)
Hands down, the one comic everybody wants is Archaia’s hardback anthology, which includes brand-new stories from six of their titles: Mouse Guard, Labyrinth, Return of the Dapper Men, Rust, Cursed Pirate Girl, and Cow Boy. The stories stand on their own but also tie in to the books in clever ways; the Mouse Guard story is a puppet show, and the Rust story features a boy writing a letter to his father (as his older brother does in the book). This book is a keeper; it even has a nameplate inside the front cover. Here’s a list of where Archaia creators will be doing book signings this FCBD.
BOOM! Studios has a nice flipbook with several Adventure Time comics on one side and Peanuts on the other. The Peanuts comics are mildly funny, but the Adventure Time side is edgier and features extra stories by Lucy Knisley and Michael DeForge. The stories are colorful and lively, and DeForge’s contribution, about a bacon ecosystem that supports tiny breakfast organisms, is downright surreal.
Publishing | Continuing its domination of the graphic novel sales in bookstores, The Walking Dead laid claim to seven of the Top 10 spots on BookScan’s April chart. The series, by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard, took the first four positions. What’s more, 12 of the Top 20 graphic novels were volumes of The Walking Dead. [ICv2.com]
Publishing | Robot 6 contributor Brigid Alverson talks to Right Stuf director of marketing and communications Alison Roberts about that company’s announcement earlier this week that it will be publishing the first three volumes Hetalia: Axis Powers as a print-on-demand books. The series was originally licensed by Tokyopop, which is co-branding the books with Right Stuf. [MTV Geek]
Sunday was a great day. It started off awesomely with a marriage proposal. A young man named Matthew had hired my friend Grant to draw a picture of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for his girlfriend, Lisa, a Buffy fan. When they picked up the commission, Lisa read the word balloons, “Hi, Lisa. Matthew tells me he loves you very much and he has a very important question to ask…”
One of the things a lot of pros like about C2E2 is the late start on Friday. It doesn’t open to the public until 1:00 pm, so creators can sleep in and recover from their trips if they want. Or, if they want to go early to set up or just walk around and visit with each other, they can do that too. It’s also helpful for press jerks taking lots of pictures. Lots. Of pictures.
Publishers, creators, retailers and fans rolled into Chicago this weekend for the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo, or C2E2. While the convention officially kicked off Friday, the announcements started rolling out Thursday during the Diamond Retailer Summit. After going through Kiel Phegley’s lengthy report on CBR, I’ve pulled out a few tidbits that publishers shared with attending retailers:
• Dynamite Entertainment shared that the first issue of Garth Ennis and Aaron Campbell’s The Shadow, which comes out next week, will likely go to second print. Following their Vampirella and Pantha projects, they also plan to roll out more of the former Harris Publications characters they now own, and they said they plan to work again with Kevin Smith in the future, who they’ve worked with on Bionic Man and Green Hornet.
• Dark Horse Comics announced two Buffy the Vampire Slayer spinoff miniseries; one featuring Spike and one featuring Willow (Editor Scott Allie spoke more about them with CBR). In addition, legendary artist Russ Heath will draw some pages in an upcoming issue of Buffy. Dark Horse will launch a new Dragon Age series in August, following the online miniseries that’s been running on Dark Horse Digital. They also confirmed that Becky Cloonan will return to Conan after James Harren’s three issues, and they announced Ex Sanguine, a five-issue miniseries by Tim Seeley and Josh Emmons. Finally, The Goon will go monthly with issue #40.
ComiXology and Archaia announced today a new distribution agreement that includes exclusive “digital first” content and same-day-as-print distribution through comiXology’s various digital channels. The deal begins today, as comiXology added two “digital first” titles to their platform, Hopeless, Maine by Nimue Brown and Tom Brown, and The Grand Duke by Yann and Romain Hugault.
“Mouse Guard has always been a favorite of mine and I had personally quested to bring it to comiXology, but I’ve been blown away by the top quality and wide diversity of Archaia’s titles since we launched,” said comiXology co-founder and CEO David Steinberger in a press release. “So, comiXology offering digital firsts from Archaia excites me on a personal level.”
Titles that will debut digitally before they’re seen in print include several of the Archaia titles that CBR told us about right before WonderCon, like the upcoming Pantalones, TX by Yehudi Mercado, Strange Attractors by Charles Soule, Mumbai Confidential by Saurav Mohapatra and the Space: 1999 adaptation. They also plan to release Rust, Ben Caldwell’s Dare Detectives!, Jeremy Bastion’s Cursed Pirate Girl and the various Jim Henson titles they’ve done–Tale of Sand, The Dark Crystal and The Storyteller–digitally.
“We are dedicated to bringing our library of award-winning content into the digital forefront, and comiXology has proven the demand for digital content in the marketplace, providing readers with a simple and immediate means of accessing the latest graphic novel content. We’re excited to offer readers some of our hottest content weeks, and in some cases months, before it sees print,” said PJ Bickett, CEO of Archaia.
Rather it is a short, illustrated prose fairy tale, and one that, while original, is heavily inspired by and contains elements of many other familiar fairy tales, although not necessarily Iranian ones, with Beauty and the Beast and the story of Cupid and Psyche informing much of the early part of the book.
While it’s not the sort of work Satrapi is best known for, it’s not exactly a departure either. Her 2006 graphic novel Chicken With Plums featured some fairy tale-like sequences embedded within it, even if it the overall story was inspired by stories of a real relative of hers, and that same year Bloomsbury published a children’s picture book of hers entitled Monsters Are Afraid of the Moon.
The Sigh was originally published in Satrapi’s adopted country of France, and Archaia re-published it in an English-language edition late last year. Edward Gauvin handled the translation, and it’s a very lovely-looking book the publisher has put together. I’m not speaking of the art, necessarily—we’ll get to that in a moment—but as in an object.
Conventions | Comic-Con International spokesman David Glanzer addresses problems with the badge-buying process: “After the two aborted events last year, we learned that each person had a multitude of browsers open. That’s going to create a bottleneck no matter what you do. Were there issues? Are we trying to work on them? Yes, we are. I think people’s anger is understandable, when all they’re trying to do is pay someone for a badge to attend an event and they can’t do that. We do test after test, and lo and behold something will happen. But (selling out in) an hour 20 minutes shows us we’re getting a handle on it.” [U-T San Diego]
Comic strips | Darren Bell talks about having Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager who was killed by a neighborhood watch member, appear in his comic strip Candorville: ” I decided to incorporate him into Candorville as soon as I saw one of my Facebook ‘friends’ post a photo of Trayvon [that turned out to not be this Trayvon], flipping off his webcam. Even if that had been the real Trayvon Martin, it wouldn’t have mattered. … What this told me was people were starting to dehumanize Trayvon, so they could rationalize what happened and insulate their own belief about ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws, about race, about concealed carry laws, etc., from any fallout.” [Comic Riffs]
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our special guest this week is Beth Scorzato, managing editor of the excellent comics news and commentary site Spandexless.
To see what Beth and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
While we’re waiting for Skottie Young to show off his takes on more Bone characters, here’s Young’s interpretation of Jareth, the Goblin King from Labyrinth. “As much as I love that movie,” he writes, “I do not have a ton of love for the David Bowie Goblin King [...] It’s a bit dated. So today I played with that design a bit.”