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Comics A.M. | DC Comics retains rights to The Spirit Archives

The Spirit Archives, Vol. 1

Publishing | DC Comics may no longer hold the rights to create new stories about The Spirit and other pulp heroes like Doc Savage and The Avenger, but it does retain the license to publish The Spirit Archives for “the foreseeable future,” according to Denis Kitchen, agent for the Will Eisner estate. Most of the hardcover collections are out of print. [The Beat]

Digital comics | Third time’s the charm for retailer Steve Bennett, as he goes through three different tablets (one was stolen, one malfunctioned) on his way to the ideal digital comics experience. [ICv2]

Creators | Tom Spurgeon kicks off his annual round of holiday interviews with a lengthy conversation with Alison Bechdel, creator of Fun Home and Are You My Mother? [The Comics Reporter]

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The Middle Ground #134 | The promise of things to come

As 2012 draws to a close, the holiday season is now officially in full swing, and that means it’s time to think about the next year, and also maybe get a little greedy in the process. With all that in mind, here are five random things that I’d like to see from 2013′s comic books.

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Comics A.M. | ComiXology is third-highest grossing iPad app of 2012 [UPDATED]

comiXology

Digital comics | Comics by comiXology was the third-highest grossing app on the iPad in 2012. Last year Comics made No. 10 on the charts, and two other comiXology apps, their Marvel and DC apps, also made the Top 20. [Inside Mobile Apps]

Manga | Black Lagoon creator Rei Hiroe has announced that after a nearly two-year hiatus, he’ll resume his hit manga in January or February. The violent action/black comedy series, which centers on a team of pirates/mercenaries, is published in North America by Viz Media. [Crunchyroll]

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Comics A.M. | Canadian city learns to love Marvel’s ‘origin bomb’

From "Avengers" #1

Comics | Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan, appears to be embracing its role in this week’s Avengers#1 as a target of an alien “origin bomb” that struck the city, changing its biosphere and altering billions of years of evolution in mere minutes. Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice present and executive editor, tells a local newspaper he’s unsure why Regina and Perth, Australia, were selected, but local retailer Chad Boudreau seems glad it happened. “We had no advanced notice of it,” he said. “It just happened that someone reading the comic saw it in there.” He expects strong sales at Comic Readers, with those who don’t typically follow comics buying the issue out of curiosity. [The Star Phoenix]

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Comics A.M. | Woman shot following Walking Dead argument

The Walking Dead

Crime | Police say a Willston Park, New York, man shot his girlfriend in the back Monday following an argument about the AMC adaptation of The Walking Dead. Twenty-six-year-old Jared M. Gurman reportedly believed a military mishap could lead to the release of a virus, triggering a zombie apocalypse; Jessica Gelderman, 27, thought the idea was absurd. According to police, the argument escalated and even continued through text messages after Gelderman left the apartment to spend the night at her parents’ house. When Gelderman returned to try to smooth things over with her boyfriend, police allege he was sitting on the stairs with a .22-caliber rifle; a single round pierced her lung and diaphragm and shattered her ribs. Gurman was arrested when he took Gelderman to the hospital. She’s in stable condition with the bullet still in her body. [Newsday]

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Comics A.M. | Disney demands dismissal of Stan Lee Media lawsuit

Legal | Disney has filed a motion to dismiss a $5.5 billion copyright-infringement lawsuit filed in October by failed dot-com Stan Lee Media Inc. in its sixth attempt to claim ownership of the Marvel characters co-created by Stan Lee. SLM, which is no longer affiliated with its co-founder and namesake, asserts Lee didn’t properly assign ownership of the works to Marvel, and that Disney didn’t file its Marvel agreement with the U.S. Copyright Office. Disney calls the lawsuit “completely frivolous,” and argues, in part, that the claims have already been litigated and rejected. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Publishing | As final print edition of The Dandy promptly sells out and the venerable U.K. children’s comic migrates online, David Fickling briefly discusses why he launched The Phoenix — a weekly geared for readers ages 6 to 12 — nearly a year ago, and why comics aren’t dead: “Reading comics was always a delight. Reading them under the bedclothes or the desk, even better. Now at last the experts are understanding the importance of reading comics. The loss of reading for pleasure has been identified as one of the principle reasons for falling standards of literacy. Perhaps part of the reason for our disgraceful literacy rates is that we don’t have comics. Comics are a link to books not competition; in short they are a great leveller.” [The Telegraph]

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Comics A.M. | Did British Comic Awards underrepresent women?

British Comic Awards

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]

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Barnes & Noble announces its best books of 2012

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.

Amazon names best comics and graphic novels of 2012

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 rolls out its best books of 2012

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.

The 50 best covers of 2011

The fourth annual rundown of the best covers of the year features 50 images representing the work of 42 different artists (plus colorists, inkers, letterers and designers) from eight publishers.

Returning creators like Jo Chen, Dave Johnson, Paolo Rivera and J.H. Williams III are joined on the list by such “newcomers” as Francesco Francavilla, Viktor Kalvachev, Tradd Moore and Steve Morris.

As with previous installments, I’ve attempted to explain the appeal of each entry; some covers get just a sentence, while others receive entire paragraphs. That doesn’t reflect the quality of the image, but merely what I have to say about it.

For those interested in the lists from previous years, they can be found here: the best covers of 2010; the best covers of 2009; and the best covers of 2008.

With that out of the way, I present, in alphabetical order, the 50 best covers of 2011:

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Comics A.M. | Archie Drops Comics Code, Marking End of Era

Comics Code Authority Seal of Approval

Publishing | Thursday’s news that DC Comics will replace the nearly 60-year-old Comics Code Authority Seal of Approval with its own rating system was followed on Friday by an announcement by Archie Comics that it, too, will drop the Code. The two were the last publishers to abandon the CCA — Marvel withdrew in 2001, Bongo just last year — which means that as of next month, the once-influential self-regulatory body created by the comics industry in the wake of the 1954 Senate hearings on juvenile delinquency will cease to exist.  Before a series of revisions in 1971, the Code prohibited even the depictions of political corruption, or vampires and werewolves, and the use of the words “horror” or “terror” in titles.

Christopher Butcher wonders whether DC’s decision to drop the Code was made with an eye toward the bottom line, while Johanna Draper Carlson offers an overview of the CCA’s history. Elsewhere, Mike Sterling asks whether any retailers ever “experienced any kind of real-world impact of the Comics Code Authority?” And Tom Mason makes some tongue-in-cheek recommendations for DC’s new rating system, including “G – GREYING MAN-BOYS” and “R – REFRIGERATOR.” [Newsarama]

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The 50 best covers of 2010

Chew #12 (Comic-Con exclusive cover), by Rob Guillory

The third annual rundown of the best covers of the year features 50 images — oh, okay, 51 — representing the work of some 46 different artists (plus inkers, colorists and designers) from nine publishers.

Returning artists like Chris Bachalo, Dave Johnson, Sean Phillips and Yuko Shimizu are joined on this year’s list by “new” names like Kody Chamberlain, Camilla D’Errico, Amy Reeder and Drew Weing. (You can peruse the previous years’ lists here and here.)

As in the past, I’ve tried to explain the appeal of each entry; some covers get just a sentence, while others receive entire paragraphs. That doesn’t reflect the quality of the image, but merely what I have to say about it.

Note:  While last year’s list included five manga covers, this year features none. I’m not sure whether that’s a byproduct of the contraction of the manga market, a sign of a shift in cover quality — among manga or Western comics — or a shortcoming on my part (if it’s the latter, I’ll own up to it; however, after several excursions in search of manga candidates, I found none that I felt qualified as among the 50 best.)

With that out of the way, I present, in alphabetical order, the 50 best covers of 2010:

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Comics A.M. | Comic sales slip 3.5%, SD official wants Comic-Con parade

The Avengers #1

Publishing | Sales of comics, graphic novels and magazines to comic stores declined slightly in 2010, slipping 3.5 percent from 2009, according to a year-end report released Thursday by Diamond Comic Distributors. John Jackson Miller’s estimate places the North American market at between $410 million and $420 million, down from the 2008 peak of $437 million.

Marvel again emerged as the top publisher, leading the market in both dollar and unit sales. May’s Avengers #1 was the top-selling periodical, followed by X-Men #1, Blackest Night #8, Siege #1 and Blackest Night #7. As expected, The Walking Dead and Scott Pilgrim dominated the graphic novel and trade paperback list, taking eight of the Top 10 spots (the remaining two went to the Kick-Ass premium hardcover and Superman: Earth One). [Diamond Comic Distributors]

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Comics A.M. | B&N complicates Borders talks, Stan Lee gets his star

Borders

Retailing | As the financially troubled Borders Group met Tuesday with publishers in hopes of converting delayed payments into interest-bearing debt, the bookseller’s larger rival Barnes & Noble expressed concerns that could complicate negotiations. “We think the playing field should be even,” B&N spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating said in a statement. “We expect publishers to offer same terms to all other booksellers, including Barnes & Noble and independent booksellers.  We fully expect publisher’s will require Borders to pay their bills on the same basis upon which all other booksellers pay theirs.  Any changes in publishers terms should be made available to all.” Meanwhile, Reuters considers what the closing of Borders’ 600 stores would mean to the book industry. [The New York Times, Publishers Weekly]

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