Although I don’t really know much of anything about this Adventure Time! cartoon (although since I recently became a dad, I’m sure a lot of things that have escaped my notice, like Yo Gabba Gabba and the like, will become a big part of my world in the not-too-distant future) that BOOM! released as a comic this week, Caleb’s review yesterday made it sound like a lot of fun, so I’ve added the show to my TiVo and the comic to my buy list.
I also really dug this post by Aaron Reiner, which goes into heavy detail on the process of creating his back-up story for the first issue, which he drew and then painted with watercolors. “When my story was finally approved I decided I wanted to do it in watercolor… because I wanted to get the bright colors I love about the show, but I also really wanted it to be clear that I wasn’t trying to mimic the art of the show,” he says on his blog. “I wanted it to feel like my comic as well as a tribute to the program.”
Digital comics | ICv2 estimates the total value of the digital comics market in 2011 as $25 million, triple the 2010 figure, and boldly predicts that digital will account for 10 percent of the entire comics market in 2012. Digital sales grew faster in the second half of the year, which ICv2 attributes to three factors: DC’s decision to release its New 52 comics digitally the same day as print, the industry-wide trend toward same-day print and digital releases, and the proliferation of different platforms on which to read digital comics. As for digital taking away from print, the publishing executives ICv2 has spoken to over the past few months don’t seem to think that is happening. [ICv2]
Retailing | Retailer and journalist Matt Price takes the temperature at the ComicsPRO Annual Members Meeting, which kicks off today in Dallas, noting that members remain interested in DC’s publishing plans, and report “very strong sales” for Image’s Fatale and Thief of Thieves. [Nerdage]
In an ideal world, all comic book editor-in-chiefs should experience working at a comic book store. Such is the case with current BOOM! Studios EIC Matt Gagnon, who spent a spell as buyer and purchasing manager for Hollywood’s Meltdown Comics. Gagnon recently took some time to discuss BOOM!’s transition away from the Disney properties and toward KaBOOM! books like Peanuts and Adventure Time, as well as creator-owned works such as Roger Langridge’s Snarked. The bulk of this interview took place well before Newsarama’s report that Mark Waid’s Irredeemable and Incorruptible were both drawing to a close this May, but Gagnon and I spoke of it briefly after the news broke. I will be curious to see what big news BOOM! will have in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, enjoy this interview. Me? I wish I was a young writer, so that I could get Gagnon to send me a Mark Waid script.
Tim O’Shea: What were your priorities when you took over the EIC role, and how successfully did you achieve what you set out to accomplish with the BOOM! line?
Matt Gagnon: I was—and continue to be—focused on maintaining the level of execution that the fans expect of us and we expect of ourselves. Before I became EIC I had already spent two years as Managing Editor, building a style and a system of how we make comics and fulfill the promises of what we solicit. Not to oversimplify our principals, but at its core we’re all about publishing great comics and shipping them on time. This July will be my 2 year anniversary as EIC and I feel like we’ve only been getting better and better.
Back in 2008 when I came to the company, one of my first goals was to make sure the trains were running on time. We’ve been very consistent since then and I’m extremely proud of the reputation we’ve garnered. It’s a testament to the insanely talented team we have here at BOOM! and the dedicated network of talent we have involved in our comics. We’ve been recognized by Diamond and our retail partners for two years in a row with the Best Publisher Award (under 4%).
Anybody who knows me knows that I have high expectations of myself and my team. I want to maximize every opportunity that we have. I don’t just want to do Planet of the Apes comics; I want to do the best Planet of the Apes comics, you know? The same goes for Hellraiser, 28 Days Later, Adventure Time, or anything else that we publish.
Creatively, I’ve always had a vision for our line and I’m proud of all that we’re accomplishing. We continue to achieve our goals every day, every time we send another issue to print that we’re proud of. But there’s always more to be done and bigger goals that we’re working toward. You can never rest on your laurels.
Rich Tommaso has had a varied career—his Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow (written by James Sturm) won an Eisner and several Glyph awards, and he has had a long relationship with Gary Groth and Fantagraphics; currently he is re-coloring Carl Barks comics for Fanta’s collected edition of Barks’s works.
Yet for some reason, Tommaso has had a hard time getting his work published in the U.S.—until now. Yesterday, BOOM! Studios announced that they will publish Tommaso’s graphic novel Pete and Miriam in March under their BOOM! Town imprint. Pete and Miriam has already been published in French, and his bio lists a Spanish edition due out in 2013. “I kept working on it because I had this contract in France but no one was biting on it here,” Tommaso told Tom Spurgeon in an in-depth interview at The Comics Reporter in November. “I went to Angouleme last year and it was amazing how many people came up to me and talked to me about the book. They wanted to know when a second one would be out. There was a lot of excitement for it.” Let’s hope American readers warm to it as well—Tommaso is an artist whose time has come.
A few months ago, I picked up Braden Lamb and Shelli Paroline’s minicomic The Potter’s Pet and was really impressed — it’s a cleverly written, beautifully drawn, handsomely produced little comic. I have been a fan of Lamb’s work since I discovered his (unfortunately incomplete) webcomic Kitty Hawk years ago; Paroline’s work was new to me, but her lively lines quickly made me a convert.
So I was delighted to see that they will be handling the art for BOOM! Studios’ Adventure Time comics, which are based on the animated Cartoon Network series.
Everyone else seems to be excited about the concept here, but we don’t watch a lot of Cartoon Network in our house and, to be honest, I have never seen the show. It’s the creators who have me interested in this series, which is the opposite of how things used to work with licensed comics. When I was a kid, the Disney comics I read all looked alike, and they weren’t signed because the Disney folks wanted me to think that they all flowed from Walt Disney’s magic pen. More and more, though, creators are putting their own stamp on licensed comics and becoming an important part of the package. Think of Roger Langridge’s run on The Muppet Show comics, or Dan Hipp’s reinvention of Ben 10. What’s more, licensed projects give artists a chance to work on their skills and bring in a regular paycheck without the risks of creator-owned work. If you want to see the up-and-coming artists of the next decade, check out BOOM!’s Pixar and Muppets comics or Archaia’s Fraggle Rock anthologies.
Lamb and Paroline have honed their craft working on BOOM!’s Muppet comics: Paroline was the artist and Lamb the colorist for Muppet Snow White, which is apparently out of print, and Paroline actually drew the Muppet Show #0 comic. From what I have seen, Adventure Time will be worth picking up for their art alone.
One of the reasons that the digital comics distributor comiXology has done so well is that it syncs well across a number of platforms, including iOS, Android and the web. Their web store is convenient for those who prefer browsing and buying on their computer, but the Flash-based interface is a bit buggy—it never scrolled properly in my Safari browser, for instance—so I was happy to hear that they have relaunched the web store using HTML5 for the browsing and buying interface.
They also redesigned it, which is a relief; if I have one complaint about comiXology, it’s their tendency to throw a bewildering array of comics onto the screen all at once. The original webstore put a ton of comics on the front page (a page that didn’t scroll properly, remember), while this new one mirrors the design of their iPad app, with a smaller selection and tabs to allow the reader to go deeper. Navigation is pretty straightforward—the site is a little slow, but it is still in beta. The comics reader is still in Flash for now.
ComiXology CEO David Steinberger has more details at the comiXology blog, and I spoke to him about the new storefront yesterday. While the iOS app remains the most popular channel, he said, “More and more people actually use our website, once they discover it, to shop and buy, and I hope with the HTML5 release, more will do that.” One of the new features of the web store is that users can gift a cart, rather than just a single comic. “Right now we are going to finish releasing all of Bone, so you will be able to add the whole Bone series to your card and gift it to somebody,” Steinberger said. “We have Sandman at a very competitive price to the paperback. Comics people create more comics people by getting in tune with their friends and gifting them comics.”
Diamond has released its Silver Sponsor comics for Free Comic Book Day, meaning that the full array of FCBD comics is now before us. There’s quite a variety: Judge Dredd, Buffy, Gilbert Hernandez’s Marble Season, Smurfs, Donald Duck, Voltron, My Favorite Martian. There’s an anthology of Middle Eastern comics and a (censored) Howard Cruse comic. Over at The Beat, commenter Torsten Adair points out that BOOM! Studios is putting out a Dune comic that hasn’t been announced anywhere else—although the solicit text makes it clear that this is just the first of a series: “a must-have precursor to the epic launch of the adaptation of Dune books from BOOM! starting in July!” And Marble Season was only announced on Thursday. On the other side of the news cycle, the Oni Press selection, Bad Medicine, was first announced in 2008 and is just now coming to the surface—it isn’t even on Oni’s website. The writers are the extremely busy team of Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir, and the art is by Christopher Mitten.
A few other observations: The Gossamyr comic from Th3rd World Studios features art by “talented newcomer Sarah Ellerton.” I don’t know who let that by, but Ellerton is anything but a newcomer; she has been making webcomics (Inverloch, The Phoenix Requiem) for close to a decade now, although it’s clear from the cover that her art has matured quite a bit. Viz is back in the FCBD game but not with their Shonen Jump samplers of years gone by; this year they are all about Voltron Force, and they were pretty excited about these graphic novels at NYCC this year. Yen Press is highlighting their adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices, which was announced at NYCC.
Several months back when I had the opportunity to interview Gabriel Hardman, there was one aspect of our discussion that I hoped I’d get to explore more, as the chance presented itself. That aspect was the Hardman’s potential collaboration on future projects with his wife, writer Corinna Sara Bechko. So, lo and behold, once the first issue of Bechko and Hardman’s Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes (BOOM! Studios) hit the stands, I convinced the creative team of Bechko and Hardman to do an email interview. In addition to the five-page preview of issue 2 that BOOM! Studios provided to CBR, it also was kind enough to give Robot 6 previews of pages 6 and 7 from the upcoming issue (which is coming out this Wednesday, December 7). To learn more about the creators’ approach on this project, please be sure to also read CBR’s August interview with them.
Tim O’Shea: Recently Corinna, you wrote: “Spending the last several months immersed in Apes has been a bit of a dream come true for both Gabriel and me.” What is it about full Ape immersion (so to speak) that’s so enjoyable for both of you?
Corinna Sara Bechko: I’ve always been drawn to post-apocalyptic fiction, and this is no exception. We’re both big fans and feel so lucky to contribute a little corner to the Apes universe. Plus, the folks at BOOM! and FOX have been an absolute joy to work with.
Gabriel Hardman: And it’s just fun to spend time inventing an original story that still fits neatly into an established world that we have a lot of affection for. I’ve always been frustrated with licensed books that can’t capture the feel of the original material. Immersing yourself in that world is necessary to make it authentic both in the writing and the art. Obviously when writing we’re trying hard not to directly contradict the established Apes continuity. When drawing the book, I think about it like I’m directing and production designing a lost Apes sequel. I’m not going to draw a prop that is out of place on that set.
“We had a record amount of entries from publishers this year with more than forty-five different titles” said FCBD spokesperson Leslie Jackson. “Retailers on the committee had a tough time deciding on which titles to choose for Gold sponsorship, but we’re sure fans will be pleased with the line-up for next year.”
While the choices may have been difficult, it’s hard to imagine that someone couldn’t come up with something more enticing than what Image has to offer: “An anthology featuring all-new stories with a mix of Image’s old and new best loved characters!” Could you possibly get any vaguer than that? They don’t even have a cover design. If my comic got bumped for that, I’d be steaming. On the other hand, Archaia’s 48-page hardcover, featuring new material (not reprints or bits of something to come) looks mighty sweet, all the more so because they name names: A Mouse Guard story from David Petersen, a Jim Henson’s Labyrinth story by Ted Naifeh and Cory Godbey, a side story from Royden Lepp’s new graphic novel Rust, a Cursed Pirate Girl story from Jeremy Bastian, a Cow Boy story by Chris Eliopoulos and Nate Crosby, and a Dapper Men tale from Jim McCann and Janet Lee. There’s this year’s wow factor.
The line-up actually seemed pretty obvious to me, so I went back and looked at the Gold Sponsors for the past five years. Sure enough, six of the publishers are there every year: Archie, Dark Horse, DC, IDW, Image, Marvel. Since five of these are also Diamond’s premier publishers, and Archie is a newsstand juggernaut, there’s no surprise there. BOOM! Studios has been a Gold Sponsor for the past four years and Archaia for the past three. The other slots vary: Ape Entertainment was a Gold Sponsor in 2011 and 2010 but is missing this year, and Bongo and Oni are back after a two-year absence. Others who have popped up once or twice in the past five years: NBM/Papercutz (2011), Drawn & Quarterly (2010), Viz (2008 and 2009), Dynamite (2008), Virgin (2008), Gemstone (2007), and Tokyopop (2007).
There’s more to come: The Silver Sponsors will be announced next week.
It’s been just over two years since the last time cartoonist Shannon Wheeler and I have done an interview. Since then, he’s gotten even more popular with his successful New Yorker cartoon submissions; turned his New Yorker rejections into the Eisner Award winning collection (from BOOM! Studios), I Thought You Would Be Funnier; collaborated with Simon Max Hill on a Little Golden Book parody, Grandpa Won’t Wake Up (BOOM! Studios); as well as teaming with Steve Duin (The Oregonian columnist) on Oil and Water (from Fantagraphics, set for release this month). This new interview focuses on the experience of winning a second Eisner (to go with his 1995 Best New Series win for Too Much Coffee Man), his various current collaborations, comedic boundaries and the impact of stress in his creative process. Be sure to peruse Fantagraphics 19-page preview of Oil and Water after enjoying the interview.
Tim O’Shea: Not many folks can say they’ve won an Eisner, but this year’s was actually your second Eisner win. How gratifying was it to get such validation again? Also, how amused were you that you won an award for a collection of work rejected by the New Yorker?
Shannon Wheeler: It was more moving than validating. I didn’t think I would win this time around. I swore I wouldn’t be one of those people who cry on stage at a stupid award ceremony. But once I got up and took the award in my hand I honestly choked up. It meant more to me than I thought.
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.
Publishing | Marvel and DC Comics are among the first companies to join Google+ as a part of the Google + Pages initiative, along with other early adopters like the WWE, Angry Birds, The Muppets and Pepsi. Companies that initially joined Google+ back when it first launched had their accounts shut down as Google worked on “building a similarly optimized business experience for Google+” like they had for individuals. Google+ Pages launched yesterday. [The Source, Marvel.com]
Digital | Digital comics distributor iVerse Media has received a $4 million private-equity investment for the expansion of marketing and product development for its Comics+ app. [TechCrunch]
BOOM! Studios has announced a four-issue crossover pitting Mark Waid’s fallen superhero the Plutonian against his nemesis Max Damage in an epic tale spanning Irredeemable and Incorruptible.
The story examines how the Plutonian, the world’s greatest superhero turned mass murderer, and Max Damage, the reformed supervillain become adversaries. It kicks off in December in Irredeemable #32, by Waid and artist Diego Barreto, and continues in Incorruptible #25, by Waid and Marcio Takara, before concluding in Irredeemable #33 and Incorruptible #26.
“This is the crossover we’ve been waiting to tell,” BOOM! Studios CEO Ross Richie said in a statement. “We get to peer deeper into Max Damage’s origins. These two iconic characters have been powerhouse adversaries since the first issue and we are thrilled to add to the mythology of both of these great series.”
Read the follow announcement below:
Legal | Prosecutors in Macomb County, Michigan, rested their case Friday in the second trial of Michael George, a former retailer and convention organizer accused of the 1990 murder of his first wife Barbara in the back room of their Clinton Township comic store. The judge this morning will hear a defense motion for a directed verdict, seeking dismissal due to lack of evidence, before testimony resumes.
George, now 51, was arrested in August 2007, after a detective reopened the cold case, and convicted seven months later of first-degree murder and insurance fraud, among other counts, and sentenced to life in prison. However, the judge later set aside the verdict, citing prosecutorial misconduct — George’s mug shot was shown to the jury — and the release of new evidence that could lead the jury to believe another person was responsible for the murder. His retrial began Sept. 14, and should conclude this week. Prosecutors contend that George staged the killing to look like a robbery so he could collect money from an insurance policy and a shared estate, and start over with another woman. George insists he was asleep at the time of the shooting, and that his wife was the victim of a robbery gone wrong. [Daily Tribune]
Publishing | Chip Mosher, marketing and sales director for BOOM! Studios, left the publisher on Friday after four years. Marketing coordinator Emily McGuiness will take over his duties. [BOOM! Studios]
BOOM! Studios sent out word this morning that it’s publishing a new series titled Operation: Broken Wings, 1936. The series has major buzz around it for the artist drawing it — former Marvel Young Gun Trevor Hairsine, who’s joined by writer Herik Hanna. The duo tells a story taking place in pre-World War II Germany, where an intelligence officer is tortured by his superiors for his apparent insubordination.
Hairsine is an eye-opening artist, both for his skills on the comic page and for his unique career path. First coming into comics carrying a heavy Bryan Hitch influence, he bounced around 2000AD before landing his star-making gig on Com.X’s Cla$$war in 2002. The book was plagued with problems, leaving an invite from Marvel to jump ship an easy choice for the artist.
Hairsine was soon enlisted to follow John Cassaday on Captain America and anointed one of Marvel’s then-new Young Guns. Hairsine bounced around on some Ultimate Universe miniseries and the disjointed X-Men: Deadly Genesis, but after getting lower-tier titles as compared to his Young Gun compatriots, he jumped over to DC before dropping off the map except for the occasional cover. In 2009 he did a six-issue series for Wildstorm called Killapalooza and then a licensed title earlier this year based on the video game Deus Ex. However, he’s yet to match up to the heights of his work or the buzz surrounding him earlier in his career. Seeing him working outside the fold — and the big page rates — of Marvel and DC is intriguing, but that’s probably a story we’ll never hear.
Regardless, Hairsine remains an artist to watch, and seeing him tackle German soldier in-fighting sounds full of win for me.
UPDATE: Our Robot 6 readers have informed us that this series isn’t in-fact “new” as the BOOM! press release states, but part of a franchise put out in France’s Delcourt called Le Casse (translated as “The Damage”), with each volume illustrated by different artists. Trevor’s installment that BOOM! is publishing was originally subtitled “L’Heritage du Kaiser.” This isn’t the first import BOOM! has done released; in 2010 the publisher imported another Delcourt series, 7 Assassins, illustrated by Sean Phillips.