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This was a tough year for Boston Comic Con: It was originally scheduled for the weekend after the Boston Marathon, and although organizers worked tirelessly not to cancel the event, the venue was within the lockdown zone following the bombings, and the load-in day coincided with the massive manhunt forsuspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. In the end, they had no choice but to shut down the convention. As most of the talent was already in town, local retailers sponsored a number of mini-cons.
Despite the cheerful we-can-get-through-this attitude of that weekend, things were looking pretty bleak. And then Boston Comic Con came roaring back, in a new venue and with a new attitude. This year, it felt less like a local event and more like a big-city con, with a smattering of publisher booths and an array of top-tier talent. The convention has grown quickly, from 1,000 attendees at the first con in 2007 to 15,000 last year. This year, with a bigger venue and more guests, I’m guessing the final number will be even higher.
Welcome to “Report Card,” our week-in-review feature. If “Cheat Sheet” is your guide to the week ahead, “Report Card” is typically a look back at the top news stories of the previous week, as well as a look at the Robot 6 team’s favorite comics that we read.
So find out what we thought about the final issue of It Girl & the Atomics, the latest Edison Rex and more.
“I’m doing another one with Boom! right now. I’m probably going to stick with Boom! for the time being. Boom! has been very, very good to me. I’m not going out of my way right now to get a lot of projects off the ground, because then I’d have to do them. But I do have a couple of things that I’ve got going, little things here and there. I kind of like being able to relax. This is the first time in my life I’ve ever had money to speak of. So now I can relax a little bit, and I can just work on things that I want to work on. I don’t have to scramble for work.”
– veteran writer Steven Grant, when asked whether the Universal Pictures adaptation of 2 Guns has paved the way for more comics projects.
As The New York Times recently detailed, BOOM! Studios offers a “creator share” model in which Grant received a cut of what the studio paid for the film rights, said to be “just shy of seven figures.”
Publishing | ICv2 has one of its periodic Big Interviews with DC Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, this time covering how new readers are finding digital comics, how variant covers are working and graphic novel sales in bookstores, among other topics. Here’s Lee’s rather elliptical take on the flurry of recent changes in creative teams: “Without getting into the specifics, from the outside looking in, it might look like there’s a string of changes that point to one common theme, as you suggest. But from the inside looking out, you’ll see that each one has a different set of circumstances and conditions that ultimately led to the conflicts or the resignations or changes in creative personnel.” [ICv2]
Retailing | ICv2 also reports that Amazon and Overstock.com are having a price war on graphic novels, and readers are the beneficiaries. The website did a little shopping around and found a handful of graphic novels priced at up to 70 percent off full retail. [ICv2]
Publishing | As the movie version of 2 Guns heads toward theaters this weekend, BOOM! Studios CEO Ross Richie talks about his company’s “creator share” model and his career in comics publishing, from Malibu Studios to Atomeka to BOOM!, which he co-founded on a suggestion from Keith Giffen, whom he describes as “the Aerosmith of comics”: “If Steven Tyler came up to you and said, ‘You really ought to produce albums,’ you probably would listen.” [The New York Times]
Legal | The prosecutor for Singapore’s Attorney-General’s Chambers has decided not to pursue sedition charges against cartoonist Leslie Chew, who was arrested in April on charges stemming from a cartoon at his Demon-Cratic Singapore Facebook page. Chew still faces charges of contempt of court for “scandalising the Judiciary of the Republic of Singapore.” That case will be heard on Aug. 12. [Straits Times]
Late last night the imprint announced it will publish Hacktivist, a hardcover original graphic novel exploring “the modern world of hacking and activism.” The book began as an idea by actress Alyssa Milano after she learned about that world through her philanthropic endeavors and her friendship with Twitter creator Jack Dorsey.
“I’m very involved with in global activism and philanthropy,” Milano said in a statement. “I like the idea of everyday people doing good. I picture [Dorsey] leaving the office at night and going home, where he locks himself in his room and starts hacking to change the world.”
In this fictional story, the two founders of an upstart social-media service are discovered by the U.S. government to be one of the foremost “black-hat hacker teams” in the world, setting them on a path to question what’s right and decide what’s best for themselves and the world.
Preview Night doesn’t begin for another 11 hours, but judging from the flurry of announcements, Comic-Con International has been well under way since, oh, about Monday. So, if it feels like you’re already falling behind, that’s because you probably are.
To help you catch up, we’ve rounded up early news from DC Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Madefire and Marvel, along with a few other convention-related items.
• Dynamite Entertainment came out of the gate running this week with news that Steve Niles and Dennis Calero will reboot Army of Darkness, James Robinson will launch his crime romance Grand Passion, the Legends of Red Sonja miniseries will team Gail Simone with an all-female creative team that includes Marjorie M. Liu, Nancy A. Collins, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Mercedes Lackey, Nicola Scott and Devin Grayson, Peter Milligan will debut his sci-fi action series Terminal Hero, Duane Swiercyznski will expand the publisher’s crime line with Ex-Con, Howard Chaykin will return to The Shadow with the miniseries Midnight in Moscow, NBC’s Heroes will get a “fifth season” in a series written by Cullen Bunn, the acquisition of the Robotech license spawns a Robotech/Voltron crossover, and The Heart of the Beast, the graphic novel by Dean Motter, Judith Dupré and Sean Phillips, will receive a 20th-anniversary prestige-format edition.
While many of us were enjoying our holiday, Comic-Con International organizers were busy releasing the programming schedule for Thursday, July 18, the first full day of the San Diego convention. The rundown for Friday, July 19 should come along early this afternoon.
As we’ve come to expect, Thursday’s lineup is a healthy mix of comics, television, toys, fantasy and film (although light on the latter, which take center stage on Friday and Saturday). The comics programming includes panels from Avatar Press, Bongo Comics (it’s the publisher’s 20th anniversary), BOOM! Studios, Dark Horse, DC Entertainment, Kodansha Comics, Marvel, Monkeybrain Comics (it’s that publisher’s first anniversary), TwoMorrows, Vertigo, Viz Media and Warp Comics.
However, that’s only for starters, as there are spotlights on Chris Samnee, Jeff Smith, J.H. Williams III, Dan Parent and Gary Frank, The Walking Dead‘s 10th-anniversary panel, and discussions about digital comics, gender in comics, LGBT webcomics and much, much more.
Check out some of the comics-related highlights below, and visit the Comic-Con website for the full schedule:
Welcome to “Report Card,” our new week-in-review feature. If “Cheat Sheet” is your guide to the week ahead, “Report Card” is a look back at the top news stories of the previous week, as well as a look at the Robot 6 team’s favorite comics that we read.
So read on to find out what we thought of Hawkeye #11, the second issues of Green Team and The Wake, SpongeBob Comics Annual #1: Super-Giant Swimtacular and much more.
This week’s Monday Surprise was the news that BOOM! Studios has acquired Archaia Entertainment, which will continue on as an imprint. The two Los Angeles-based publishers are a good fit, so while Archaia prepares to move into the BOOM! offices, let’s take a look at what it all means.
As previously reported, Archaia struggled after its relationship with book market distributor Publishers Group West dissolved, leaving the publisher with a load of returned merchandise. Despite growth in other markets, the hit was apparently too much.
Archaia has long been respected for the high-quality production values of its releases, which include a variety of creator-driven graphic novels, licensed properties and imported material.
Comics | Could the competition to become the 2017 U.K. City of Culture hinge on … Desperate Dan, the pie-eating Wild West strongman from the long-running children’s comic The Dandy? Hull Daily Mail columnist Angus Young thinks the character could give Dundee the edge over fellow finalists Leicester, Swansea Bay and, yes, Hull. Dundee, Scotland, is home to The Dandy and The Beano publisher DC Thomson, and features statues of Desperate Dan and Beano character Minnie the Minx in its city center. “Having your picture taken next to the barrel-chested grizzly-chinned hero is apparently one of the top-ten things to do when visiting Dundee,” Young writes. “[...] This a bloke who thinks nothing of eating several cow pies in one sitting. A cowboy so tough he shaves his chin with a blowtorch and sleeps in a reinforced bed filled with building rubble.” The winner will be announced in November. [Hull Daily Mail, The Evening Telegraph]
Today marks the the release of the Witch Doctor: Mal Practice trade paperback, which collects Witch Doctor: The Resuscitation one-shot and Witch Doctor: Mal Practice #1-6. Written by Brandon Seifert and illustrated by Lukas Ketner, the medical-horror series from Skybound/Image Comics follows Dr. Vincent Morrow, who specializes in supernatural diseases, frequently bringing him in contact with vampires, demons, changelings and the like.
In anticipation of the release, I contacted Seifert for a consult on the series (as well as to get his take on cursing in comics). If you want to read Witch Doctor #0, comiXology is offering the issue for free. Also, Seifert and Ketner will be at Portland Things From Another World (2916 NE Broadway St., Portland, Oregon) tonight for a Witch Doctor: Mal Practice release party.
Tim O’Shea: In this trade paperback-hungry market, how good does it feel to be at the TPB stage with Witch Doctor?
Brandon Seifert: Really good! Witch Doctor Vol. 2 has been in the works for a long, long time. Lukas started drawing the first issue in the trade in, I believe, October 2011, and I wrote it a month or two before that. So this TPB has been in progress for like a year and a half, year and three quarters! It’s great to finally have it done and on sale. And the edition itself turned out great!
BookExpo America takes place the Javits Center, just like New York Comic Con, but it’s a completely different kind of show. It’s a trade show, not a consumer show, so the folks in the aisles aren’t fans looking for a fix, they are potential customers to be wooed. And what you see there is a pretty reliable guide to what everyone will be talking about in a couple of months.
So if you happened into the little graphic novel enclave at the right time, you might see Gene Luen Yang sitting there, pen in hand, ready to autograph a free Avatar graphic novel for you, or maybe Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights pioneer, sitting next to Andrew Aydin, with ashcans of their graphic novel about Lewis’ life, March, and while you might have to wait a few minutes for your turn, you wouldn’t have to stand on the sort of long lines they might draw at San Diego. The pace is more leisurely than a comic convention — the creators chat as they sign your comics — and the blasting noise of video game and movie displays is blissfully absent.
It’s true there aren’t a lot of comics publishers at BEA, although there are a fair number of book publishers who include comics in their lines. Abrams didn’t send their ComicArts people, but if you consider Diary of a Wimpy Kid to be a comic (I’m always happy to claim that one for our side), then they were well represented, and many attendees had Wimpy Kid stickers on their badges.
Dustin Nguyen may be best known for his Batman work, but he’s more than that. Aside from the astounding breadth he’s shown doing great dark stories with Paul Dini on Detective Comics all the way to his kid-sized capers in the digital-first Lil’ Gotham, Nguyen has an imagination that stretches far beyond Gotham City… all the way to the Land of Ooo.
In this week’s Adventure Time Annual #1 from BOOM! Studios, Nguyen has done a great two-page Adventure Time comic in which Finn and Jake are held back from a party with a strict “no dogs allowed” policy. Written by Bryce Carlson, the strip is Nguyen’s first non-DC interior work. Also included in Adventure Time Annual #1 is a story written by Nguyen’s longtime collaborator Derek Fridolfs. Here’s the two-page story Nguyen drew:
Timed to coincide with the August premiere of Universal Pictures’ 2 Guns, starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, BOOM! Studios has announced a sequel to the 2007 crime comic by Steven Grant and Mataes Santolouco.
Grant and cover artist Rafael Albuquerque will return for the new six-issue miniseries, appropriately titled 3 Guns, joined by Hack/Slash artist Emilio Laiso.
The original comic followed a DEA agent and an undercover Naval Intelligence officer who, after unwittingly investigating each other, team up to seal money from the mob — only to learn to late that the $50 million actually belongs to the CIA. This time they’re brokering weapons deals from opposite sides, but little do they know there’s a third gun in the mix.
“The guys haven’t seen each other and are on the outs with their agencies,” Grant tells The Hollywood Reporter. “They both independently end up on opposite sides of a deal going down with Russian weapons manufacturers and anti-government revolutionaries.”
Directed by Batlasar Kormakur, Universal’s 2 Guns opens Aug. 2.