Publishing | John Jackson Miller dissects the latest sales numbers and finds July 2013 to be the second-best month for comics sales in the direct market so far this century—actually, since 1997. Combined comics and graphic novel sales were up almost 17 percent compared to July 2012, and year-to-date sales are up almost 13 percent compared to last year. [The Comichron]
Retailing | Brian Hibbs, one of the founding members of the direct-market trade organization ComicsPRO, has left the group “because of the reactions of the Board to recent DC moves.” He revealed his decision in the comments on his blog post about DC’s allocation of 3D covers for Villains Month: “The org that I formed was intended to look out for the little guy; the current Board seems much more interested in keeping the big guys big. Democracy in action, I suppose, so I vote with my dollars.” [ICv2]
Conventions | The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival has come to an end, after establishing itself in just four short years as one of the most loved indie-comics events. A message posted on the event’s blog under the headline “Thank You and Good Night” reads simply, “We have decided not to continue with BCGF. We had a great run and thank all of our colleagues for their support.” [The Beat]
Creators | Garry Trudeau talks about Doonesbury, supporting wounded warriors, and his Alpha House show in a video interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Creators | Michael Aushenker profiles Rutu Modan, whose The Property, a tale of a Jewish woman returning to Poland to reclaim an apartment lost during the Holocaust, debuted at Toronto Comic Arts Festival: “When I go to vote, I have to decide who is bad and who is a good guy, but when I write I can support the Poles and the Jews. I’m much more interested in the gray areas. They’re more closer to reality.” [The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles]
Legal | The trial resumed today, if only briefly, in Tunis for the president of a Tunisian television network accused of “insulting sacred values” when he aired the adaptation of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. Tensions were so high in the courtroom that proceedings were postponed until April. The Oct. 7 broadcast resulted in an attempted arson attack on the network’s offices and the arrest of some 50 protesters. Nessma TV President Nebil Karoui, who apologized in October, is charged with “insulting sacred values, offending decent morals and causing public unrest” because of the outrage triggered by a scene in Persepolis showing God, which is prohibited by Islam. [AFP]
Organizations | Stumptown Comics, the organization that puts on the Stumptown Comics Fest every year in Portland, Oregon, has added three new members to its board: Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Charles Brownstein, Boilerplate co-author Anina Bennett and editor Shawna Gore. [Stumptown Comics]
Bluewater Comics has gone where others fear to tread: The publisher released its Gabrielle Giffords and Mitt Romney bio-comics last week via Nook and Kindle, while the print versions won’t be out until Jan. 29. And both the Kindle and the Nook versions are priced at $1.99, two bucks cheaper than paper. (Links are to the Giffords comics because I saw that one first.)
Will retailers grab their torches and pitchforks to protest this move, as they did when they thought Dark Horse was pricing same-day digital releases below print? Probably not, for a couple of reasons: Bluewater isn’t as big a player in the direct market — it isn’t in Diamond’s Top 10 publishers, and much of its line is aimed at children, who are not the core customers of the direct market.
Beyond that, though, dedicated apps like comiXology and Graphicly seem more like competition for comics stores than e-readers. I think that the latter has broader appeal: While some Kindle comics, like DC’s exclusives, can be read only on the Kindle Fire device, the Bluewater comics can be read on any device with the Kindle or Nook app. This makes the comic more accessible than most, and it’s easy for non-comics readers to stumble upon the comics while looking for books on Romney or Giffords. On the other hand, the comiXology/Comics +/Graphicly ecosystems are set up specifically for comics readers looking for something new — readers who are using digital to supplement or supplant their Wednesday purchases. In other words, with the Kindle and Nook, the subject matter comes first; with comiXology and other apps, the medium — comics — comes first.
This is not black and white, of course. Digital Manga has successfully marketed yaoi manga via the Kindle and the Nook, and DC’s Kindle Fire exclusives were big news. The comiXology app even comes pre-loaded on the Kindle Fire. Still, most of the conversation about digital comics still seems to revolve around comics apps rather than e-readers. Interestingly, I’m not seeing the Bluewater comics on comiXology, so maybe this is a strategy to attract a different audience without cannibalizing direct market sales. (Or maybe comiXology just hasn’t processed the files yet — who knows.)
As you may remember from a few months ago, BOOM! Studios jumped on the presidential-campaign bandwagon with its Decision 2012 comics, each of which features a different presidential candidate. The President Obama comic came out this week, and as Johanna Draper Carlson pointed out, no writer is credited — which is odd, in this day and age.
Odd enough that I e-mailed BOOM! Studios myself to see what the story was. Marketing Coordinator Emily McGuinness was quick to reply:
We hired a young, incredibly talented writer to do these, and that writer elected not to take credit. Why? Well, they saw it as a great opportunity to refine their craft but didn’t want to be associated as the ‘political comic book writer’ moving forward. They’ve got some cool projects coming up, and wanted the focus of their next stage of career development to be on that. It made sense to us and we were happy to be respectful of their decision (no pun intended).
That makes for an interesting parlor game in about five years: Which prominent comics writer was behind the Obama comic? I’d look for someone with a love of text boxes and footnotes; the comic consists mainly of juxtaposed pictures and text, and it reads more like an illustrated prose bio than a comic. It’s non-sequential, if that’s a word.
The writing isn’t bad, but if I were going to write a compelling comic (as opposed to a hagiography), I’d include the juicy details about Obama’s 2004 election to the U.S. Senate, in which his opponent self-destructed in a sex scandal and the Illinois Republican Party drafted Alan Keyes as a replacement. Heck, I could do an entire miniseries on that election alone, and it’s a shame the writer covered it in a single panel. Maybe they were too busy with that next project to give it much thought.
Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall launched a new webcomic last week: John Wilcock – New York Years 1954-1971, the story of the underground publisher who, among other things, co-founded the Village Voice and hung around with Andy Warhol (and later wrote the iconic pop artist’s biography). As Persoff says in the introduction, “His life bumps up with nearly every weird New York figure of the 60′s and early 70′s.” Since that was sort of a Golden Age of New York weirdness, this should be an interesting ride. The comic is based on interviews with Wilcock and is going to be released online as eight-page “mini-issues.” The first one is up now and includes not only Wilcock’s arrival in New York but also a rather memorable interview with Marilyn Monroe.
A British firm called Musicroom has published a digital graphic novel about Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. The basis for this is the graphic novel Godspeed: The Kurt Cobain Graphic, originally published in 2003. Here’s a bit of background on Godspeed, which apparently caused a bit of controversy but not enough to sustain its own Wikipedia page. (Check out the mixed reviews on that Amazon link.) Interestingly, according to Amazon, a new edition of the print graphic novel just came out in April.
Musicroom seems to specialize in sheet music and music instruction materials, both digital and print, and the graphic novel looks like a bit of a departure for them, but there is something very logical about this. In the ideal case, a graphic novel like this would be packaged with some of Cobain’s music and maybe some video clips as well, making full use of the iPad’s capability. That doesn’t seem to be the case here, alas—from the front page, it just looks like a print graphic novel reformatted for the iPad. And there is something kind of weird about the image of Angel Kurt weeping over a set of menu options. Perhaps they should have thought about redesigning the cover for the app.
(Via the Seattle PI blog, which has a preview of the app.)