INTERVIEW: Gail Simone Guides 'Blockbuster Update' of Red Sonja, Vampirella and Dejah Thoris
Publishing | Filip Sablik, BOOM! Studios’ president of publishing and marketing, describes the company’s announced cutback in the number of titles as a contrarian move: “All of the major mainstream comic publishers are pushing out more titles. Since February’s ComicsPro meeting, it’s something we’ve consistently heard from the front lines of the industry. So we decided to swim upstream a bit by trimming back our line and really focus, doubling down on our marketing and our positioning for each title, believing that a sniper-like approach would yield better profitability.” [ICv2]
Retailing | Heidi MacDonald reports on last week’s Diamond Retailer Summit, where the news was mixed: Comics sales are up this year, but the increase is smaller than in 2013, triggering fears that the market is cooling down. Some publishers are retrenching, with Image announcing it will no longer release variant covers, Marvel simplifying its ordering requirements for variants, and BOOM! Studios cutting the number of titles it will release next year by 15 percent. [Publishers Weekly]
Legal | Malaysian cartoonist Zunar announced Monday that another of his books is drawing government scrutiny, as police are questioning the sales assistant who handles online sales of his book Sapuman – Man of Steal. “My sales assistant did nothing illegal as the ‘Sapuman – Man of Steal’ is not officially banned by the government” Zunar said. “On the contrary, the police should investigate who took RM2.6 billion of public funds instead of clamping down on book sellers who sell books legally.” The cartoonist is currently facing nine charges of sedition stemming from one of his Tweets, and his books have been banned and his assistants harassed in the past. [The Malaysian Insider]
Passings | Rick Obadiah, one of the founders of First Comics, died Sunday after suffering a massive heart attack while on the treadmill. In its original incarnation, which ran from 1983 to 1991, First was a pioneer in the direct market, publishing works such as American Flagg, Badger and Nexus and selling them outside the confines of the Comics Code. It was also one of the first American publishers to publish manga, bringing out a translated edition of Lone Wolf and Cub in 1987 as a monthly comic with covers by Frank Miller, Bill Sienkiewicz and others. “Last year, Rick reread a lot of the old First titles and was pleased to see how well they held up,” writes his friend and former First Comics colleague Mike Gold. “He took a lot of pride in that, for which I am very grateful.” [ComicMix]
Conventions | Convention producer ReedPOP will add Vienna Comic Con in Austria to a growing roster of shows that already includes the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, New York Comic Con, Emerald City Comicon, PAX, OZ Comic Con, Shanghai Comic Con, Star Wars Celebration and Comic Con Paris. It’s scheduled for Nov. 21-22 at Messe Wien in Vienna. ”We aim to make Vienna Comic Con the leading pop culture event in Central Europe,” Barbara Leithner of Reed Exhibitions said in a statement. “Fans at Vienna Comic Con will experience unique programs and events, and meet pop culture creatives from all over the world.” [press release]
Frequently spending 12 to 13 hours a day to produce two pages, Lantern City artist Carlos Magno devotes a lot of his attention to detail. It’s readily apparent in every panel of the upcoming steampunk series from Archaia.
Part of a broader multimedia property that includes a novel, an app and a planned television series, Lantern City centers on Sander Jorve, a family man who seeks to improve his lot in life. When his activist brother-in-law convinces him to infiltrates the ranks of the brutal Guard, Sander is set on a dangerous path.
Publishing | Archaia founder Mark Smylie will leave the company he founded in 2002 to focus on his writing career. Creator of Artesia and author of the 2014 novel The Barrow, sold the company in 2008 to Kunoichi Inc., but remained as an acting principal. BOOM! Studios then purchased Archaia in 2013, transforming it into an imprint of the publisher. [press release]
Conventions | Filmmaker John Waters says the organizers of Shock Pop Comic Con, which took place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on the weekend of Feb. 14, owe him $6,250 — and they have told him they don’t intend to pay. Waters said the con seemed legit, if lightly attended, and they paid the first half of his fee up front. “I didn’t think that they were gonna – in a very short time – send a letter from a lawyer that basically was just like, ‘Don’t bother even trying,’” he said. But that’s what they did: The letter said the company that organized the event “had to close their doors and had no assets within which to satisfy its debts.” Freelance talent manager Shade Rupe said the con had “an incredible lineup,” but it was poorly organized; he got stuck with the limo bill for one of the people he represents, actor Danny Trejo. [Broward/Palm Beach New Times]
“As soon as I started getting an allowance, it was for comics. I would just go [to the store]. I didn’t really have a concept of new comic day, I just thought they showed up at any given random time at Golden Apple in LA. I would just show up and was like, ‘Ooh, WildC.A.T.S.!’ It was all that — WildC.A.T.S., Spawn, Cyberforce. I got into it too late to even know that these creators worked on Spider-Man and the X-Men. I just knew that they created the friggin’ Violator. It was huge for me. It got me into comics, straight-up. I think I liked those comics more than I liked X-Men. I just remember being at my friend’s house and he was like, ‘You gotta read this Spawn,’ and I loved it.”
— Say Anything frontman Max Bemis, talking with Comic Book Resources about the ’90s Image comics that inspired his new BOOM! Studios series Oh, Killstrike
Writers James Tynion IV and Noah J. Yuenkel have teamed with artist Matt Fox for UFOlogy, a six-issue miniseries debuting April 1 from BOOM! Studios. Set in the Midwest, the story centers on two teens, Becky and Malcolm, who uncover a mystery involving aliens that somehow traumatized both of their parents more than a decade ago. To mark the launch of this new series, BOOM! Studios asked artist Alison Sampson to create a Jackpot Variant, which will only be one for every 100 copies of Fox’s main cover.
Sampson shared with ROBOT 6 the creative process behind her cover:
Last year Ripley’s imagined Holy Kitten from Lumberjanes scored her own T-shirt, and now she’s received a serious upgrade: a talking plush.
Designed by Lumberjanes artist Brooke Allen, it’s WeLoveFine‘s first plush collaboration with BOOM! Studios. You can listen to Holy Kitten’s two sounds — meow and an angelic choir — below.
Crime | Artist and collector Jim Wheelock talks about the loss of his comics collection, which was stolen from a storage unit in Brattleboro, Vermont: “I remember where I was and what I was doing when I bought or read many of [the comic books]. Later, when I worked in the financially rickety world of a freelance artist, knowing the books were in Vermont gave me a sense of security, a retirement nest egg. This is what the culprit robbed me of.” Vermont-based cartoonists James Kochalka and Harry Bliss weigh in on what such a loss would mean. Wheelock’s thousands of comics included extensive runs of The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil and The Fantastic Four, in some cases beginning from the first issues. [Seven Days]
This week, Ross Richie of BOOM! Studios wrote an editorial, and Matt Gagnon gave a thoughtful interview, on the topic of diversity in comics, and they followed it up with a Twitter hashtag, #comicsforward. It certainly got people talking, although perhaps not always in the way Gagnon and Richie intended.
The first thing that happened was exactly what they had in mind, which was a bunch of folks jumping onto Twitter to celebrate their favorite comics and creators or just applaud the idea. It’s definitely worth checking that hashtag to see some great recommendations.
Publishing | Portland, Oregon, will be the home base for Heavy Metal’s new line of comics, which was announced in October, following the company’s sale to David Boxenbaum and Jeff Krelitz. “I think it’s being closer to the talent,” Krelitz said. “If you wanted to be a painter in the early 20th century, you went to Paris. The comics line launches in March with the second season of Michael Moreci and Steve Seely’s Hoax Hunters. The company plans to be publishing eight original series by the end of this year and another 12 next year, building up to 50 in five years. “We’re positioning to be a premier publisher,” Krelitz said. [The Oregonian]
Passings | Editorial cartoonist R.K. Laxman, who maintained a running commentary on Indian politics for almost 60 years, has died at age 93. The younger brother of novelist R. K. Narayan, Laxman got his start illustrating his brother’s work as well as doing drawings for local newspapers. He became an editorial cartoonist for the Times of India around 1947, about the time India became an independent country, and stayed there until 2010. Laxman’s most famous creation was the Common Man, a character that stood in for the average Indian. As the official obituary in the Times of India said, “His Common Man, created in 1957, was the symbol of India’s ordinary people, their trials and tribulations, their little joys and sorrows, and the mess they found themselves in thanks to the political class and bureaucracy. But despite the sobering reality of this, there was never any rancour in Laxman’s cartoons. His humour was always delightful, and no one could hold a candle to his brushstrokes.” [Times of India]
The GLAAD Media Awards are traditionally a fairly mainstream affair, with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation recognizing outstanding portrayals of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities in works that reach a wide audience. Although in the past, the organization has honored the likes of Fun Home, Luba and Strangers in Paradise, the outstanding comic book category is typically heavy on superhero titles released by Marvel and DC Comics.
However, with the announcement this morning of the nominees for the 26th annual GLAAD Media Awards comes a couple of big surprises: Just one superhero series is singled out, and, for the first time since the comic book category debuted in 2003, there are no titles published by DC or its imprints.
It’s deja vu all over again for the Diamond Gem Awards: Voted on by comics retailers, the winners this year look a lot like the 2013 lineup, with Image Comics and BOOM! Studios once again taking honors as top publishers in their divisions. Marvel was named top dollar publisher, DC Comics as top backlist publisher and Viz Media as top manga publisher — just like in 2012 and 2013.
The first issue of the widely acclaimed Ms. Marvel was honored as comic book of the year in the under $3 division, and Thor #1 was the choice among pricier comics. The Amazing Spider-Man #1 brought in the most dollars, however. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was named the best all-ages comic of the year, Batman: Earth One took the honors as best original graphic novel, and Box Brown’s Andre the Giant was the best indie comic.
In terms of who got what, DC Comics won seven awards, Marvel won six and Dark Horse won three, including best anthology for Dark Horse Presents, another three-peat.
Here’s the full list of winners:
Rumors of punk rock’s death were greatly exaggerated, and here in the new year it’s coming to comics in the creator-driven miniseries Curb Stomp, from BOOM! Studios. Taking cues from the 1980s hardcore music scene and post-apocalyptic fiction, Ryan Ferrier and Devaki Neogi’s four-issue tale follows an all-girl street gang known as the Fever as they fight through the streets of a dilapidated metropolis.
Ferrier spoke with Comic Book Resources about the miniseries just this week.
BOOM! has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive preview of Curb Stomp #1 in advance of its Feb. 25 debut, along with covers by Tula Lotay and Marie Bergeron.