best of 2012
Publishing | The Amazing Spider-Man #700 led the pack in the December comics numbers with 200,000 copies selling to comics shops, and with a cover price if $7.99, it racked up a cool $1.6 million in sales. Avengers #1 sold 186,000 copies but at a more reasonable price, so the dollars didn’t pile up as high for that one. ICv2 also has the December charts for the Top 300 comics and graphic novels in the direct market. John Jackson Miller takes it to the next level with sales estimates for the top 1,000 comics and trades of 2012. [ICv2]
Publishing | At the other end of the scale, Rob Clough talks to Chuck Forsman, the guy behind micropublisher Oily Comics. [The Comics Journal]
Legal | Both Warner Bros. and automobile customizer Mark Towle have filed for summary judgment in the studio’s 2011 copyright-infringement lawsuit against Towle, whose Gotham Garage sold several replicas of the Batmobile. Warner, the parent company of DC Comics, claims the design of the Batmobile is its intellectual property, while Towle argues that copyright law does not regard a “useful object,” such as a car, as a sculptural work and therefore the design can’t be copyrighted. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Crime | Police in Lincoln, Nebraska, are investigating the theft of 600 X-Men comics, dating back to the 1970s, from the communal storage area of an apartment building. [Journal Star]
Awards | The National Cartoonists Society initiated a webcomics award last year, and this year the organization is splitting it in two, one for short-form works and one for long-form. The challenge with including webcomics, says NCS President Tom Richardson, is that to be eligible, creators must make the majority of their money from cartooning. “That isn’t an easy thing to quantify anymore. With online comics, we need to take into account site traffic, professionalism in consistent and regular publication, online community activity and other factors that are the hallmark of professional online work,” he says. “In some cases, it’s pretty obvious the creator is making a career out of cartooning. In some, it’s not so obvious.” [Comic Riffs]
As ROBOT 6′s fourth-anniversary celebration winds down, our contributors look back at some of their favorite comics of 2012, from Building Stories and Saga to Goliath and Bandette to Life With Archie and Hawkeye.
One of the hazards of writing about comics is that reading comics starts to feel like work after a while. Then I stumble across something really good and I remember why I started doing this to begin with. Here are some of the books that I really enjoyed this year.
Life With Archie: It’s a soap opera. It’s a clever soap opera, and it’s fun to see the characters I knew as a kid grow up and change in surprising ways. The dual storyline is full of twists, but the characters never forget where they came from.
Jiu Jiu: The best shoujo manga captures what it’s like to be a teenage girl and reflects it back in a new way. Jiu Jiu is a supernatural story about an alienated girl who goes to an ordinary high school but fights demons on her off hours. Her companions are two wolves who can change into hot guys, although they never really lose their doggish ways. This is shoujo manga at full strength, with lots of introspection, innuendo, and incongruity. I loved it.
Creators | Michael Cavna talks to cartoonist Richard Thompson in-depth about his Parkinson’s disease, its effect on his cartooning, and the brain surgery he had this year to combat it, and shows the cartoon Thompson drew during the surgery. The story includes an update on how Thompson has been doing since the surgery and interviews with other cartoonists, including a rare comment from Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson, about Thompson’s work and his struggle against the illness. [Comic Riffs]
Publishing | The French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, whose offices were firebombed in 2011 after it published cartoons mocking Mohammed, has released a comic-book biography of the Muslim prophet. Editor Stephane Charbonnier, who has lived under police protection since the magazine first published the cartoons, says the biography is a properly researched educational work edited by Muslims: “I don’t think higher Muslim minds could find anything inappropriate.” [AFP]
Publishing | More than 4,000 new comic titles were released in the European Francophone market in 2012, marking the 17th consecutive year of growth. According to the Association des Critiques et journalistes de Bande Dessinée, the French association of comic strip critics and journalists, more comics were produced in the Francophone market than in the United States. [RFI]
Comics | The death of Spider-Man hits the mainstream media, with Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso asserting, “We didn’t make this move lightly.” Stan Lee called it “a helluva birthday present” but added “But then, a little voice in my head whispered, ‘never say never. Just go with it while you can because Marvel, the House of Ideas, will always have a surprise up its creative sleeve for you and the rest of Marveldom Assembled!’” Entertainment Weekly’s Geoff Boucher said the ongoing deaths of superheroes are starting to feel “a little gimmicky” but he also nailed why the publishers do it: “if you look at who’s buying Marvel and DC, it’s long term fans and those readers are going to complain about this and debate about it — but are going to buy two copies.” [New York Daily News]
Conventions | Japan’s Comic Market (aka Comiket), the world’s largest convention dedicated to self-published comics, stands to lose about $117,900 because of a decision to bar artist groups (“circles”) dedicated to the manga Kuroko’s Basketball following a threat letter. Organizers are refunding entrance fees to about 900 Kuroko’s Basketball circles that registered for the Dec. 29-31 event, and must help pay for increased security in cooperation with local police and the Tokyo Big Sight complex. Since October, letters containing powdered and liquid substances have been sent to more than 20 locations linked to Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki. At least six Kuroko’s Basketball doujinshi events have been canceled. [Anime News Network]
Our Shelf Porn feature almost died from natural causes earlier this year. It wasn’t because we wanted it to die, but after four years, the submission well began to dry up. Could we have reached a point where everyone who wants to show off their shelves has shown off their shelves? I thought. You always hear about this limited number of comic collectors out there in the world, so maybe, statistically speaking, we’d hit critical mass on the subset of that number who own cameras or like to take pictures or read the site or whatever.
It wasn’t the first time we’d seen submissions slow down, but there was enough of a gap between February and July that I thought maybe that was it. But you can’t keep a good Shelf Porn down, it seems; over the past few months, we’ve had a bit of a resurgence in submissions. In fact, I think I have enough submissions to make it through the end of January. So thanks to everyone who submitted this year and kept it from going the way of the dinosaur.
With it being the end of the year and all, I wanted to look back at the year in Shelf Porn, and as I started going through the ones we’ve posted here, it occurred to me that a lot of them had some defining element that really jumped out at me–usually in the realm of “Man, I wish I had one of those!” So instead of doing a “best of” list, I thought I’d focus in on six 2012 submissions that made me envious …
Awards | The National Press Foundation has named political cartoonist Robert Ariail, who draws for Universal UClick and the Spartanburg, South Carolina, Herald-Journal, as the winner of this year’s Berryman Award. [The Washington Post]
Creators | Brothers Wesley and Bradley Sun discuss their upcoming graphic novel, Chinatown; Wesley is a hospital chaplain in Chicago, and Bradley quit his job in Florida to join his brother and work on the book. [Hyde Park Herald]
Awards | Were women underrepresented in the first British Comic Awards? With three women and 13 men on the shortlist, some argue they were; Laura Sneddon follows the discussion, including those making that claim and those who responded. [The New Statesman]
Best of the year | Paste magazine lists its 10 best comics of the year, including Hawkeye, Saga and Building Stories. [Paste]
Best of the year | Rachel Cooke focuses on British graphic novels, although a few outsiders creep in as well, for her list of the best graphic novels of 2012. [The Guardian]
While Publishers Weekly and Amazon helpfully organized their best-of-the-year lists according to clear genres and marketing categories, with comics falling (mostly) under “comics, Barnes & Noble takes a decidedly different approach: In its rundown of the Best Books of 2012, the retailer creates a “Best Quirky, Beautiful, Different Books” category, lumping comics collections and graphic novels in with cookbooks, home and garden design guides, and something called Underwater Dogs. Still, the comics selected are, overall, pretty solid:
• Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama, by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
• The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist, by Alvin Buenaventura, Chip Kidd and Chris Ware (Abrams ComicArts)
• Batman: Earth One, by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank (DC Comics)
• Building Stories, by Chris Ware (Pantheon Books)
• My Friend Dahmer, by Derf Backderf (Abrams ComicArts)
• Sailor Twain, or The Mermaid in the Hudson, by Mark Siegel (First Second)
• Wizzywig, by Ed Piskor (Top Shelf Productions)
• A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel, by Hope Larson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
It’s also worth noting that The Walking Dead Compendium Book One (Image Comics), by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn, was No. 89 on Barnes & Noble’s list of The Top 100 Bestsellers of 2102. It was the only comic to make the list.
Getting a jump on the holiday shopping season, the editors of Amazon.com have released their choices for the best books of the year in categories ranging from Romance and Literature & Fiction to History and Science Fiction & Fantasy. Of course, what were most interested in is Comics & Graphic Novels:
1. Building Stories, by Chris Ware (Pantheon)
2. Darth Vader and Son, by Jeffrey Brown (Chronicle Books)
3. Saga, Vol. 1, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
4. The Hive, by Charles Burns (Pantheon)
5. Prophet, Vol. 1: Remission, by Brandon Graham, Farel Dalrymple, Giannis Milonogiannis and Simon Roy (Image Comics)
6. The Underwater Welder, by Jeff Lemire (Top Shelf Productions)
7. Swamp Thing, Vol. 1: Raise Them Bones, by by Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette (DC Comics)
8. Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: Blood, by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang (DC Comics)
9. Creepy Presents Richard Corben, by Richard Corben and various authors (Dark Horse)
10. Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, by Allan Heinberg, Olivier Coipel, Jim Cheung and Alan Davis (Marvel)
Publishers Weekly is the first out of the gate with its best of 2012 lists, with Chris Ware’s Building Stories (Pantheon), described as “unabashedly rooted in the pre-digital age,” leading its overall Top 10. Ware also designed and lettered the magazine’s cover (at right).
The six titles in the comics category are:
• My Friend Dahmer, by Derf Backderf (Abrams Graphic Arts)
• Are You My Mother?, by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
• The Voyeurs, by Gabrielle Bell (Uncivilized Books)
• Wizzywig, by Ed Piskor (Top Shelf)
• Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, by Mary and Bryan Talbot (Dark Horse)
Two graphic novels also make an appearance on the children’s fiction list: Hilda and the Midnight Giant, by Luke Pearson (Nobrow), and Drama, by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic/Graphix).
With PW breaking the ice, that means the best-of lists should begin arriving at a fast and furious pace.