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Quote of the day | ‘Last year was not banner for the ladies’

“This past year, 2011, I was asked this question a lot, and here we are into the first quarter of 2012, and it’s happening again (or still, if you rather). Most frequently, it comes up in regard to my work in the comics industry. Last year was not banner for the ladies, and this one isn’t off to a strong start, either, in fact. Wasn’t good for women within the industry itself, nor within the pages of the stories being told. Those who’ve had the unmitigated temerity to actually comment upon this state of affairs publicly have ended up paying a surprisingly heavy price. The gender of the speaker has been largely irrelevant, though to be sure, it’s the women who’ve stepped up have taken the harder hits. But all who’ve pointed out the absence of women both on the page and behind it have been ridiculed, insulted, and, absurdly enough, even threatened with violence. Conversely, those attempting to defend their mistreatment of women within the industry have revealed a staggering lack of understanding, empathy, and self-awareness, while seeming to rejoice in an arrogance that is near heart-stopping in its naked sexism and condescension.

To say there are those who don’t get it is an understatement; it would be like describing the Japanese tsunami as ‘minor flooding.’”

Greg Rucka, in an essay addressing the frequently asked question,
“How Do You Write Such Strong Female Characters?”


Grumpy Old Fan | High noon: DC’s August 2012 Solicits

I would make a don't-turn-your-back-on-Max joke, but it's still too soon

August marks the end of the New 52′s first year — and whether it’s the practicalities of collected editions or a prelude to mass cancellation, there’s a lot of finality in these solicitations.

Storylines conclude in All Star Western, Aquaman, Catwoman, Deathstroke, Frankenstein, GL Corps, Legion of Super-Heroes, Red Lanterns, Resurrection Man, Suicide Squad, Voodoo, maybe GL: New Guardians, and the main Justice League book. Big changes are coming for Stormwatch, Captain Atom and Green Lantern. August also sees the final issues of Justice League International (about which more later), iZombie and Scalped.

On the other hand, new stories begin in Flash and Batman, and the big Animal Man/Swamp Thing crossover kicks off. Better yet, J.H. Williams III returns to art on Batwoman with Issue 12, which not only starts a new storyline but guest-stars Wonder Woman. It’s somewhat ironic for a guy who drew the guest star-heavy Chase that his Batwoman work hasn’t ventured too far into the larger DC Universe, so I’m really looking forward to his Wonder Woman. (Along the same lines, I can’t wait to see what Gail Simone does with Batwoman in the latter’s Batgirl appearance.) Apparently the Next Six titles also just keep humming along.

Collectively, it may make the next four weeks a waiting game. With September set to include fifty-two zero issues, at least one of those will replace JLI on the schedule. From now until the September solicits are released, I wouldn’t be surprised if DC announced more cancellations in order to free up those zero issues for new series’ debuts.
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First look at J.H. Williams’ cover for Batwoman #12

On his blog, J.H. Williams III unveils his stunning cover for August’s Batwoman #12, complete with the promise of an appearance by Wonder Woman, and walks us through his process.

“I felt it important for the image to work from a design idea properly, the logo had to become a part of the art directly, to play up the mirror effect as needed,” he writes, “so I embedded it into the final in a way that there is no other version. You’ll note I digitally did a mirror effect for Batwoman rather than draw that in by hand. I felt it best to handle it that way because of the Bloody Mary part is so bold. I think it would’ve been extremely problematic to have tried drawing Batwoman mixed with Blood Mary and then be able to have multiple effects in the final color. This allowed me to keep the style used for Bloody Mary independent from everything else. So the last digital additions, the use of a background setting, and the pop color of the inset stars and star panel against the surreal quality of the idea, helped to make this cover unique from previous Batwoman covers I’ve done. So that’s good, I’m always wanting the covers to do new things.”

All of Williams’ covers are beautiful, but with the one for Batwoman #12, he definitely raises the bar. Check out the full cover below, and visit Williams’ blog to see more of his process.

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Food or Comics? | Pete and mirliton

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

The Amazing Spider-Man: Hooky

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d first snap up a book I’ve been trying to track down for years: Amazing Spider-Man: Hooky (Marvel, $4.99). This 1986 lost classic features Bernie Wrightson drawing a webhead story featuring monsters and alternate worlds – looks like a real gem. Now to convince Marvel to republish John Paul Leon’s Logan: Path of the Warlord… Next up would be Secret Service #1 (Marvel/Icon, $2.99). I’ll buy pretty much anything Dave Gibbons puts out these days, and seeing him with Mark Millar is bound to be a unique experience. Next up is Saga #2 (Image, $2.99); Brian K. Vaughn is really setting up a world – like a sci-fi sitcom here, with loads of direction to go in. Lastly I’d get Conan the Barbarian #3 (Dark Horse, $3.50). Can I admit I might like this more than Northlanders? Brian Wood’s definitely expanding how people think of him with this story, and Becky Cloonan is making a lot of editors look foolish for not putting her on these kinds of books sooner.

If I had $30, I’d start out with Secret #1 (Image, $3.50). Manhattan Projects seems more up my alley than this story, but Jonathan Hickman’s built up some credit in me to try anything new he puts out even if I’m not too interested. Next up would be Northlanders #50 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99), which I’m sad to see go. I think this will be one of those series that achieves more popularity after it’s over, and it’s a shame DC can’t find a way to continue it. After that it would be Glory #25 (Image, $2.99). I was a bit shaky on the story after Joe Keatinge’s first issue, but everything after has really put the pieces into place and Ross Campbell seems to be finding his footing to really land the superheroics of this story. Last up would be Secret Avengers #25 (Marvel, $3.99); Rick Remender’s clearly put his own spin to this series, so much I’m surprised Marvel didn’t use this as a chance to renumber the series… but I’m glad they didn’t.

If I could splurge, I’d throw money at my comic retailer for Pete and Miriam (Boom!, $14.99). Big fan of Rich Tommaso, and he seems to be honing his craft like a knife, creating more pointed and poignant stories here. And Miriam, she’s a real gem.

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J.H. Williams III breaks down his cover process for Batwoman #10

On his blog, J.H. Williams III breaks down his cover process for June’s Batwoman #10, the penultimate chapter of the “To Drown the World” story arc that finds Kate Kane ambushed by Killer Croc.

“The goal was to keep things almost monochrome, or a limited palette. Placing all of the focus on Batwoman through color use,” Williams writes. “And on the encircling villains I used only simple grey textures, just enough to darken the image, while retaining the graphic quality of that portion of the cover. And then by leaving the background white and digitally painting white fades over the edges of the villains gives this very nice tunnel effect, Batwoman emerging from the light into the threatening darkness …”

Visit Williams’ blog to see his ful process. Batwoman #10 goes on sale June 20.

Batwoman wins GLAAD Media Award

Kate Kane and Maggie Sawyer, from "Batwoman" #1

Batwoman, by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman, won the GLAAD Media Award for “Outstanding Comic Book.” The award was announced last night in New York.

“This is extremely gratifying, because we’ve been working very hard to make this character multifaceted and someone to believe in, while showing her develop realistic personal relationships over time,” Williams wrote on his blog. “So the recognition from the GLAAD awards bolsters us greatly. And thank you for all of the support the series has been getting from you all, the comics readership community.”

The awards honor outstanding portrayals of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities in various media. Other comics that were nominated in the category included Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, by Allan Heinberg and Jimmy Cheung; Secret Six, by Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore; Veronica Presents: Kevin Keller, by Dan Parent; and X-Factor, by Peter David, Emanuela Lupacchino, Valentine De Landro and others.

You can find the complete list of winners on the GLAAD site.

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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Food or Comics? | Conan the barberryan

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Thief of Thieves #1

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d start with Thief of Thieves #1 (Image/Skybound, $2.99). The gang at Skybound gave me an advance PDF of this issue, and I like it so much I want to hold the physical thing in my hands. Shawn Martinbrough really nails this first issue, and Nick Spencer really puts his Marvel work to shame with this story. Next up I’d get my favorite DC Book – Batwoman #6 (DC, $2.99) – and favorite Marvel book – Wolverine and The X-Men #5 ($3.99). I’d finish it all up with Northlanders #48 ($2.99). I’m not the biggest fan of Danijel Zezelj’s work, but I can’t let up now to see my long-running commitment to Northlanders falter at this point.

If I had $30, I’d dig into Richard Corben’s Murky World one-shot (Dark Horse, $3.50). Corben’s one of those “will-buy-no-matter-what” artists for me that Tom Spurgeon recently focused on, and this looks right up my alley. Next up I’d get Secret Avengers #22 (Marvel, $3.99) because Remender’s idea of robot descendents intrigues me, and then Wolverine and The X-Men: Alpha and Omega (Marvel, $3.99). I didn’t know what to expect from the first issue, and after reading it I still don’t know where this series is heading – but I like it so far. Finally, I’d get Haunt #21 (Image, $2.99). The combination of Joe Casey & Nathan Fox is like a secret code to open my wallet.

If I could splurge, I’d take the graphic novel Jinchalo (D+Q, $17.95) by Matthew Forsythe. I loved his previous book Ojingogo, and this looks to continue in that hit parade.

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Comics A.M. | Is Amazon planning its own brick-and-mortar chain?

Amazon

Retailing | Rumors have begun to swirl that online retail giant Amazon plans to open a brick-and-mortar store in Seattle within the next few months to help gauge the profitability of a chain. The store reportedly won’t just sell e-readers and tablets, but also books from Amazon’s newly launched publishing division. [Good E-Reader, Gawker]

Publishing | Japanese publisher Shueisha Inc. released the 65th volume of Eiichiro Oda’s pirate manga One Piece last week with a first printing of 4 million copies, tying the record set in November by the previous volume. [The Mainichi Daily News]

Retailing | Howard Ackler writes about the final days of Dragon Lady Comics, the Toronto retailer that closed last week after 33 years in business. [National Post]

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Women of Action | Batwoman

Women of Action is an experiment exploring superhero series starring and named after women. Which are worth supporting, which aren’t, and why?

Batwoman (by Amy Reeder, who is also awesome)

Batwoman’s blessing and its curse is its stunning art and design by JH Williams III. I know it’s weird to call it a curse, but in my case, when every mention I hear about a comic begins and ends with the art, it gets me wondering about the story, and not in a good way. Pair that apprehension with a start date that got pushed back several times and I was downright skittish, so it took me a while to check out Batwoman. I probably never would have except for my decision to read more comics starring and named after female superheroes.

I don’t know why more people don’t mention the story in Batwoman (well, I do – see: The Art – but the story’s still not mentioned as much as it should be), because it’s amazing. Williams’ contribution to the comic is more than imaginative page layouts and long, flowing hair. Everyone knows that he’s also a co-writer, but I’m not talking about that either. It’s how the mood of the comic perfectly matches the gothic, spooky tone of the ghost story that Williams and other co-writer W. Haden Blackman chose for their introductory arc. It’s one thing to say that comics are a mixture of story and art; it’s quite another thing to see those two elements work together as well as they do in Batwoman.

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Comics nominees announced for 23rd GLAAD Media Awards

Kate Kane and Maggie Sawyer, from "Batwoman" #1

Nominations have been announced for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s 23rd annual Media Awards, which honor outstanding portrayals of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.

The nominees for outstanding comic book are:

  • Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, by Allan Heinberg and Jimmy Cheung (Marvel)
  • Batwoman, by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman (DC Comics)
  • Secret Six, by Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore (DC Comics)
  • Veronica Presents: Kevin Keller, by Dan Parent (Archie)
  • X-Factor, by Peter David, Emanuela Lupacchino, Valentine De Landro and others (Marvel)

This is the third nomination in a row for X-Factor, which won last year, and the second for Avengers: The Children’s Crusade and Veronica. Winners in all categories will be presented during ceremonies in New York City (March 24), Los Angeles (April 21) and San Francisco (June 2). It’s unclear at which event the comics category will be presented.

Food or Comics? | Ditko Ditali

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Shade #4

Chris Arrant

If I had $15 I would be in comics heaven, starting with Shade #4 (DC, $2.99). I’ve loved what Cully Hamner and James Robinson have done so far, but seeing Darwyn Cooke drawing this issue knocks it up to a whole new level. It’s like seeing David Bowie sit in on an up-and-coming band’s gig one night. Next up would be the reunion of Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen in Secret Avengers #21 (Marvel, $3.99). I was halfway hoping they would break from the serious tone of the title and revisit the inanity of Nextwave, but the preview dashes that hope; still, excellent work of two guys at the top of their game. Next up would be Invincible #87 (Image, $2.99), promising an all-new level of beatdown for Mark Grayson. Lastly, I’d get Jason Aaron’s fresh take on Marvel’s mutants with Wolverine and the X-Men #4 (Marvel, $3.99). Part return to basics and part brand-new day, seeing Logan having to be the respectable one and not the plucky wildcard is fun, and the cast Aaron’s assembled is great.

If I had $30, I’d continue reading Aaron with Wolverine #300 (Marvel, $4.99). Jokes about the constant renumbering/reshuffling/rejiggering of Aaron’s run aside, it’s been a swell ride and looks to be heading up to a finale of sorts. Next up would be Batwoman #5 (DC, $2.99). Williams’ art continues to impress, and while the story doesn’t match up to his levels with Rucka on Detective Comics, he and Blackman are striving for something I haven’t been able to fully understand yet. Lastly, I’d pick up Northlanders #47 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99). Artist Declan Shalvey is an inspired get for this series, really showing off what he can do outside Marvel’s Thunderbolts.

If I could splurge, I’d dive into Eric Powell’s adaptation of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (IDW, $19.99). Putting Powell together with Twain isn’t an obvious team-up, but given Powell’s depth of work I’m interested to see how it turns out.

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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.


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