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Continuing with our annual “Looking Forward, Looking Back,” we asked creators and other industry figures what they liked in 2014, what they’re looking forward to in 2015, and what projects they have planned for the coming year.
In this installment, we hear from Jimmy Palmiotti, Mike Norton, Kurt Busiek, Caleb Goellner, Shawn Martinbrough, Benjamin Bailey, Greg Pak, Brandon Montclare, Eric Haven, Justin Greenwood, Natalie Nourigat and Dave Scheidt!
Conventions | Image Comics content manager David Brothers explains why this year’s Comic-Con International was a great convention, pointing out that there’s a lot more to the event than movies and television, and there’s a lot more to comics than the Big Two: “Marvel and DC are comics, just like the other publishers, and they make some great ones when they let the creators do their own thing. But at this point? You can’t treat them like the entirety of the comics industry, or even two companies that can dictate the future of comics. They run the movies, and that’s cool, but running comics? It’s just not true any more. Image in particular outsells Marvel in the book market as far as trade paperbacks go, and that holds true in the comics market lately, too. That’s no coincidence. People enjoy Marvel and DC, but they want more than Marvel and DC.” [io9.com]
Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.
Rocket Girl, Vol. 1
By Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder
This week marked the release of Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare’s Rocket Girl in trade paperback, which is probably the best way to read it, as the time-travel story is a bit confusing. It’s a fun read nonetheless, especially for those of us who are still waiting for our jetpacks to arrive.
Dayoung Johansson is a 15-year-old girl who travels from 2013, where all New York police officers are teenagers, to the much grittier 1986 version of the Big Apple, to stop a group of scientists from getting a piece of tech that would allow their company to become a mega-corporation that has corrupted the city. The twist is, that if she succeeds, Dayoung will destroy her own future.
“Regarding single issue sales: they are incredibly important to a lot of Image creators. On Rocket Girl, it’s by far the biggest chunk (of course, we don’t have a tpb yet). And every reader counts. A few thousand copies can make or break a series. If Rocket Girl dips into the 8000s, we’ll start thinking about when to wrap it up. If it stays above 12,000 we can do it forever. At 12,000 copies I can make as much writing Rocket Girl as Hulk; Amy Reeder can make as much penciling/inking/coloring as she would on Batwoman. 8000 vs 12,000 is a significant difference in percentage, but it’s not a huge amount of readers. A lot of Image creators are in the same boat, albeit their individual line might be a bit higher or lower. Certainly collected editions and digital and ancillary media/merchandise contribute as well. But a lot of making creator-owned work is down to financing: and single issues have the biggest impact on cash flow – and the only impact on cash flow for almost a full year when you take into account early production to ‘get ahead’ as well as solicitation.”
— Rocket Girl writer Brandon Montclare, commenting on The Beat’s monthly analysis of indie-comics sales, and the ensuing discussion
Book Expo America is the annual trade show where publishers promote their upcoming books to retailers and librarians. BEA is all about books, but comics and graphic novels are a growing presence. Diamond had a dedicated area, as it has in previous years, several comics publishers had their own booths, and several of the big publishers featured graphic novels alongside their other titles, most notably Hachette, which gave quite a bit of space to Yen Press.
I spent Friday at the show looking at which books the publishers were drawing the most attention to. Here’s a very subjective account of what I saw.
Kid stuff! Children’s and YA graphic novels have been hot for a couple of years, and the news that Raina Telgemeier’s Sisters is getting a 200,000 copy initial print run got a lot of buzz. Of course, the BEA crowd has been on board with her work for a while, and they lined up in droves for her book signing. The same was true of Jeff Kinney, who was signing copies of The Wimpy Kid School Planner at the Abrams booth; the crowd just kept on coming. And the staff at the BOOM! Studios table were hustling as attendees grabbed copies of their Adventure Time and Bravest Warrior collections as well as their third original Peanuts graphic novel, Peanuts: The Beagle Has Landed, which takes Snoopy to the moon.
It’s almost that time again — time for ROBOT 6’s annual takeover of the Comic Book Resources home page to celebrate our anniversary. With this year bringing our big fifth anniversary, we thought we’d get a head start with one of our annual features, “Looking Forward, Looking Back,” where we ask comics folks what they liked in 2013, what they’re looking forward to in 2014 and what projects they have planned for the coming year.
In this post, you’ll hear from Jimmy Palmiotti, Brandon Montclare, Joe Keatinge, Caanan Grall, Rafer Roberts, Josh Hechinger, Jim Gibbons, Scott Fogg, Evan “Doc” Shaner and Kyle Stevens from Kirby Krackle! Then come back later today and on Tuesday to read from more of your favorite creators.
It seems we hear a lot of horror stories about Kickstarter projects gone wrong, whether it’s because printing took longer than anticipated, postage rates shot up or the creators seemingly disappeared for long stretches of time with no updates.
On the other hand, there’s Rocket Girl.
Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder had some advantages going into their second Kickstarter — it wasn’t their first rodeo, they were able to line up a publisher (Image Comics), and they both had industry experience. They aren’t the only Kickstarter project I’ve backed that has been able to hit its fulfillment date, but it’s happened infrequent enough that it seems worth noting. It also helps that the final project is very well done, showcasing an intriguing premise, a fun story and electric artwork, but that’s beside the point (unless the point is that you should buy this comic, which you should; the second issue comes out Wednesday).
Brandon and Amy recently sent out an update that detailed the process they went through fulfilling all the rewards they offered on Kickstarter. It was an interesting read, both from an “inside baseball” aspect and from a “this might help someone else looking to use Kickstarter” perspective, so I asked them if I could reprint it here. Brandon offered to expand it a little so it made more sense to non-backers who weren’t along for the six-month ride. I appreciate the time he took to do that, as well as the opportunity to share their story. So with that said, here are Amy and Brandon …
Passings | Roy Peterson, editorial cartoonist for the Vancouver Sun, died Sunday at the age of 77. During his 40-year career, Peterson won more National Newspaper Awards than any other Canadian creator, but he was remembered by his peers chiefly for his sense of humor and his mentoring of younger artists. [Vancouver Sun]
Publishing | CNN contributor Bob Greene profiles Victor Gorelick, the editor-in-chief and co-president of Archie Comics who began working for the publisher at age 17, in 1958. [CNN.com]
Creators | Craig Thompson talks about the short story he wrote and drew for First Second’s Fairy Tale Comics anthology, and he reveals an interesting fact: “For six years or so, my entire income was based on drawing kids’ comics for [Nickelodeon] magazine. Later on my career shifted to drawing ‘serious’ graphic novels aimed at adult readers, but I’ve always wanted to revisit my more fun and cartoony style.” Former Nickelodeon editor Chris Duffy is the editor of Fairy Tale Comics. [Hero Complex]
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]
Hello everyone, Happy Memorial Day weekend to America, and welcome one and all to What Are You Reading? This week we are joined by special guests Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder, the creative team behind Halloween Eve and the upcoming Rocket Girl. I spoke to them earlier this month about Rocket Girl, which surpassed its Kickstarter goal but you still have some time to get in on the action and rewards.
To see what Brandon, Amy and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
After teasing fans for a few months, Amy Reeder and Brand Montclare’s Rocket Girl is go for launch.
According to the Kickstarter page, which went live this morning, Rocket Girl is a “teenage cop from a high-tech future” who’s sent back to 1986: “She’s investigating the Quintum Mechanics megacorporation for crimes against time. As she pieces together the clues, she discovers that the ‘future’ — an alternate reality version of 2013 and the place she calls home — shouldn’t exist at all.”
Montclare and Reeder have been on similar flight paths since breaking into comics. They both did their time at Tokyopop before Montclare recruited Reeder to work on Madame Xanadu after he took an editorial position at Vertigo. Last year they re-teamed for a creator-owned one-shot, Halloween Eve, which they used Kickstarter to fund. And now they’ve returned to crowdfunding to finance the production of Rocket Girl, an ongoing series they plan to launch this fall.
I spoke with Montclare and Reeder about Rocket Girl, using Kickstarter to finance their creator-owned works and much more.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d start with a couple of Marvel firsts, even though one of them isn’t technically a first issue: Uncanny Avengers #1 ($3.99) and Red She-Hulk #58 ($2.99). This is the first week of Marvel NOW, and they’re starting with books by creative teams I’m excited about. Next I’d get Stumptown V2 #2 ($3.99) and wind things up with the Halloween Eve one-shot. I actually supported the Kickstarter for the latter, so my copy is probably already on the way to my mailbox, but hypothetically let’s assume that it wasn’t. It’s by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder, two creators whose work I’ve enjoyed in the past. So if it wasn’t coming to me in the mail, it would come home in a paper bag from the comic shop.
If I had $30, I’d add an outgoing Marvel title (Marvel THEN?), Fantastic Four #611, which features the end of Hickman’s run before he moves on to Avengers and Matt Fraction takes over the first family of Marveldom. Next I’d grab Green Lantern Corps #13 ($2.99) as I like the direction the GL books have been headed in lately, and Conan #9 ($3.50), the second half of Brian Wood’s collaboration with Vasilis Lolos. Finally, I’d grab Point of Impact #1 ($2.99), the new crime book by Jay Faerber and Koray Kuranel.
This is a splurge in price only; if I had $50, then Chris Ware’s Building Stories would definitely have been at the top of my buy list this week. It’s a big box of little comics, as Chris put it, and as luck would have it I really do have $50 in gift certificates that I got for my birthday to buy it with. Thanks Mom and Dad!
If you’ve been wondering what Amy Reeder would be doing after her departure from Batwoman, here’s a treat, not a trick–she and writer Brandon Montclare (Fearsome Four) have teamed up for a creator-owned comic called Halloween Eve. The duo is currently raising money on Kickstarter to shoulder the cost of making it.
“It has been so rewarding to work on this,” Reeder said on her blog. “If I could give one person the biggest responsibility for my career at this point, it would be Brandon…he basically discovered me and helped me get work both when he was at Tokyopop and then Vertigo. And, he’s my best friend. So it’s nice that we have a great working relationship and to know that I’m not alone as I venture out into the creator-owned world. He really knows his stuff.”
Chris Schweizer has a nice post explaining the different premiums he is offering as part of the Graphic Textbook Kickstarter, which reminded me that this Kickstarter is ending in two days. The fund-raising goal is $65,000, which seemed incredibly ambitious to me, but as of this writing it has less than $2,000 to go to reach its goal. As Michael May explained a few weeks ago, the graphic textbook is the work of the nonprofit Reading With Pictures, which promotes the use of comics in classrooms and has already produced one very nice anthology; this book, should it succeed, could lead to a whole line of graphic textbooks. This would have the double benefit of providing children with another way to learn (since different kids have different ways of taking in information, adding the graphic medium will give some students a boost) and providing a lot of creators with paying work, which is always a good thing.
What sets the Graphic Textbook apart from most other educational projects is the quality of the creators, many of whom are already well known in the world of children’s or adult comics: Roger Langridge (Snarked, Popeye), Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey (Action Philosophers), Raina Telgemeier (Smile) and a host of others. With creators like that on board, the pledge premiums are pretty good.
Anyway, Schweizer’s post grabbed me because I’m a fan of his Crogan Adventures, a series of graphic novels about members of the same family set in different historical eras, and the short story he is doing for The Graphic Textbook is a Crogan story set during the Revolutionary War. His premiums include original art, a video tutoring session, and sketches of the donor in 18th-century garb, but if that doesn’t appeal to you, there are still some other nice premiums left, including Langridge sketches, tickets to the Charles Schulz Museum, a script or portfolio review by former DC/Vertigo editor Brandon Montclare, or a personalized action figure.