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Comics A.M. | Dynamite CEO on industry; why doesn’t cartooning pay?

Green Hornet

Publishing | Dynamite Entertainment CEO Nick Barrucci talks frankly about the state of the marketplace, digital comics, and his company’s plans. He also acknowledges some missteps: “Green Hornet was a license we paid a lot of attention to last year, probably too much attention. Going back to what we were talking about earlier, putting out too much product, we put out too much Green Hornet product. Part of it is that we wanted to get trade paperback collections out in time for the movie, and we did that, we succeeded. We built up our market share and we generated more revenue for us and the retailers. I’m going off on a tangent here, so I apologize, but we took that money and reinvested into projects like Vampirella, like Warlord of Mars, like the upcoming Kirby: Genesis. But we overdid it, and that we realize, which is why you don’t see us doing four Vampirella titles and four Warlord of Mars titles.” [ICv2.com]

Creators | For its annual Comics Issue, the Village Voice takes a fascinating, lengthy and very depressing look at the often-grim financial reality faced by cartoonists — an environment to which, it turns out, the Village Voice contributed. “I’m not sure how much you’ll be allowed to write about this,” says Dan Perkins (Tom Tomorrow), “but of course the Village Voice Media chain is one of the major culprits in this  —their decision to ‘suspend’ cartoons [in 15 papers in 2009] dealt a serious blow to the struggling subgenre of alt-weekly cartoons.” It’s noted parenthetically that Tom Tomorrow will return to the paper “within a few months,” and that “many of the artists in this issue aren’t getting paid, but have contributed work for the exposure.” [Village Voice]

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WonderCon | New Buffy co-writer on working with Whedon and more

Buffy by Jo Chen

When Joss Whedon returns to Buffy the Vampire Slayer later this year for “season nine” of the TV show-turned-comic book, he’s bringing on a new co-writer to work on the book — Andrew Chambliss, a former Dollhouse television writer (and current Dollhouse comic writer).

Chambliss, whose television work also includes Vampire Diaries and Heroes, wasn’t at yesterday’s panel to talk about the announcements, but the Buffyfest blog does have up an interview where he talks about both of his comic projects, his work on the Dollhouse TV show and which character he’s looking forward to writing in Buffy Season Nine.

“It may seem the obvious choice, but I’m going to have to say Buffy,” he told Buffyfest. “Going into season 9, she’s in a really interesting place – she always thought she was going to die saving the world, but now that she actually survived, she has to face her real life (don’t worry, they’ll still be lots of slaying). And at the same time, she’s watching her friends move on with their lives, and has to deal with the fact that the Scooby Gang might not be there to help her like they used to be.”

Buffy Season Nine kicks off in September, one month after the debut of Angel & Faith.

The Middle Ground #39 | Four more Fantastic comic deaths to make mainstream headlines

If there’s one thing that today’s mainstream media coverage of the death of a Fantastic Four member proves, it’s that slow news days are great for Marvel Comics. But if there’s another, then it’s that Death = Attention in the crazy, depressing world of comic book math. Bearing that in mind, here are some new candidates for the Grim Reaper, to goose some other publishers’ coffers. Continue Reading »

Whedon discusses the end of Buffy Season 8, drops hints about Season 9

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #40

With the release today of Buffy the Vampire Slayer #40, the conclusion of the sprawling Season 8 storyline, creator Joss Whedon says he’s already looking forward to a more “down to earth” Season 9.

“I got very excited when I had a comic book with the idea that I could do absolutely anything,” he tells Etertainment Weekly‘s Shelf Life blog. “We hit a lot of beautiful notes and I’ve got a lot of great writers working [on the comics], and I’m very proud of it. But at the same time, it’s like, yeah, ‘You can do anything’ is not really the Buffy mission statement. The Buffy mission statement is, ‘What does this feel like?’ So I wanted to bounce it back a little bit to the real world.”

Be warned: The interview contains spoilers for Season 8, so if you’ve been picking up the collected editions, you’ll probably want to avoid that link.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer will relaunch late this year, coinciding with the return of Angel to Dark Horse. The publisher has said that the new season will be “a little tighter, a little more concise” than Season 8, which took nearly four years to complete.

Related: Dark Horse has a list of retailers who are marking Buffy Summers’ birthday — it’s today! — with special events.

Exclusive Preview | Buffy the Vampire Slayer #40

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #40

Although the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series went out with a bang in 2003, Ms. Summers and the Scooby gang had a very busy 2010. Not only did we get the big reveal of who the villain Twilight really was — a character whose comic series will return to Dark Horse next year — but we’ve also made it to the end of “season eight” with a huge story with huge consequences. And we found out that the crew will be back sometime next year for season nine.

But before that one begins, you gotta have an ending. On Jan. 19, Buffy the Vampire Slayer #40 drives a stake through the ambitious season eight, where “betrayal comes in the shape of the closest, most unexpected individual of all.” Jan. 19 is the birthday of Buffy Summers, and Dark Horse has six events planned around the country to celebrate it.

And right here for our birthday, we’re very pleased to present an exclusive preview of Buffy the Vampire Slayer #40, courtesy of the kind folks at Dark Horse Comics. Check out the preview, solicitation info and details on the Buffy birthdays after the jump.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: ‘Don’t Get Emo. Get Even.’

Dark Horse's teaser for "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" #37

On the heels of Georges Jeanty’s cover for Buffy the Vampire Slayer #36, Dark Horse has fired another good-natured shot at Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight empire with a promo for Issue #37, the second part of the final arc of the bestselling Season Eight.

See the full image after the break. Buffy the Vampire Slayer #37 is due in stores on Oct. 6.

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Did Buffy’s Riley deserve a one-shot? Jane Espenson responds

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Riley

The big announcement in last month’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Riley one-shot about the return of the Angel license to Dark Horse appears to have overshadowed another controversy — namely, whether the character Riley Finn actually deserved his own issue.

For those unfamiliar with Buffy continuity, Riley was introduced in Season 4 as a teaching assistant at UC Sunnydale who led a double life as a drug-enhanced agent of the Initiative, the secret government organization dedicated to the capture of demons. To the displeasure of some fans, the wholesome Riley — some might say “vanilla” or “downright boring” — became Buffy’s boyfriend and, briefly, a member of the Scooby Gang. (Personal note: Professor Walsh aside, Riley may have been the worst part of the excruciating Initiative arc that dominated the season. Well, him, and Buffy’s maddening post-Angel self-esteem issues.)

The character left in Season 5, returning for just one more episode before re-emerging in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, the canonical comic-book continuation of the television series, where he was revealed as a double agent being used by Buffy to infiltrate Twilight’s organization. And then came the one-shot, which triggered enough grumbling that writer Jane Espenson — a fan-favorite writer of Buffy, Battlestar Galactica and Warehouse 13 — has taken to the Dark Horse website to defend Riley, and the one-shot.

“I hear that some of you are wondering why Riley Finn deserves a one-shot comic-book issue instead of Dawn or Xander or the deep, dark shadow under Spike’s left cheekbone,” Espenson writes. “The answer is simple: Riley wanted it more. He worked harder. He earned it.”

With tongue in cheek, she goes on to explain that not every character can withstand the rigors of a comic book one-shot — “There are no stunt doubles here” — or demonstrate the awareness required for the “highly technical” work. But Riley Finn, that wholesome boy from Huxley, Iowa, has mastered the art.

“This isn’t to say that the others aren’t excellent comic-book characters as well,” Espenson continues. “They obviously are. Xander has been turning in magnificent work despite the challenge of the eye patch, which has never, not once, migrated from one eye to the other between panels. […] And I think Warren’s work deserves special praise, as he is quite obviously the best skinless performer in comics today.”

The final story arc of Season 8, written by creator Joss Whedon himself, begins with Issue #36, in stores today.

‘These are Joss’ characters and … Joss wanted them all under one roof’

Angel #38

This post on IDW Publishing’s website serves as a perfect companion to yesterday’s article at Comic Book Resources sifting through the details of the return of the Angel license to Dark Horse.

Last week it was revealed — prematurely, it turns out — that after nearly five years at IDW, the Angel comics will move in late 2011 to Dark Horse, home of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Dark Horse previously published Angel, first as a monthly then as a miniseries, from 2000 to 2002.

The surprise announcement naturally left fans of the IDW series, and the upcoming Spike spin-off, confused, leading IDW Chief Creative Officer Chris Ryall to dedicate a thread on the company’s message board to answering their questions. This week Ryall collected that thread’s highlights for an “official Angel is leaving IDW Q&A” that clarifies some of the issues surrounding the move — including, most notably, the driving force behind the decision. Namely, Buffy creator Joss Whedon.

“… Ultimately, these are all Joss Whedon’s characters,” Ryall wrote, “and if he decides that they’re best-served being under another roof, then that’s what will happen.” Later, when asked whether IDW was outbid for the Angel license, Ryall added: “I would not have stopped doing Angel comics if it were up to me; money had nothing to do with it. These are Joss’ characters and as I mentioned above, Joss wanted them all under one roof. And it so happens that that roof is located in Oregon, not San Diego.”

Dark Horse published Buffy comics from 1998 to 2004 before launching the highly successful Season 8 in 2007. A canonical continuation of the cult-hit television series, Season 8 is supervised by Whedon, who also wrote the opening and closing arcs. The series will conclude in January with Issue 40 before relaunching as Season 9 — alongside the return of Angel — in late 2011.

Publishers confirm that Angel will return to Dark Horse

Angel #12 (from 2000)

Following yesterday’s announcement, Dark Horse and IDW Publishing now have confirmed that Angel will return to Dark Horse beginning late next year. IDW has held the comics rights to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television spin-off since 2005.

Under the direction of Buffy and Angel creator Joss Whedon, all parties are working together for as seamless a transition as possible,” IDW said in a statement posted today on the company’s website. “The companies have been coordinating storylines in both Dark Horse’s Buffy and IDW’s Angel, creating a greater sense of cohesion and cooperation to ensure that this transition is true to both ongoing storylines and to the faithful fans of both series.”

News of the move broke yesterday in Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Riley one-shot, “without coordination with IDW,” the company notes.

In the IDW statement, Dark Horse senior managing editor Scott Allie apologized for the way the news was released: “Behind the scenes, we’d been working closely with IDW to ensure that the hand-off went smoothly. It was never our intent to catch Angel or IDW readers unaware.”

IDW’s final six-issue arc begins in November with Angel #39.

Dark Horse published Angel from 2000 to 2002, first as an ongoing series and then, briefly, as a miniseries. The company also published Buffy comics from 1998 to 2004 before launching the highly successful Season 8 in 2007. Season 9 begins late next year.

“I’ve always regretted letting Angel go in the first place,”  senior managing editor Scott Allie said in a separate press release. “So we’re really excited about getting him back, as well as all his supporting cast. It’s necessary for how Joss wants to handle season nine, details of which will start spilling out in the months to come. Right now, we’ve got to wrap up season eight, and IDW still has a good long run of books before season nine starts.”

Buffy co-star Nicholas Brendon is launching a webcomic

Very Bad Koalas

Very Bad Koalas

It’s not surprising to see Buffy the Vampire Slayer co-star Nicholas Brendon among the featured guests at this weekend’s Wizard World Chicago Comic Con. After all, the convention is heavy on genre TV and film actors, from William Shatner and Adam West to James Marsters and Linda Hamilton. But Brendon, who played Xander Harris in the cult-hit series, won’t just be signing autographs; it turns out he’ll also be promoting his upcoming webcomic.

Very Bad Koalas, a collaboration between Brendon, animation director/producer Steve Loter and illustrator/filmmaker Rafael Santiago, is set to debut on Sept. 29, and update weekly. The comic follows two sheltered koalas on the run from the law in their 1958 Cadillac El Dorado, evading capture, encountering bizarre characters (including vampire turtles and a religious cult of highway-flattened animals), and even battling addiction.

“… If you follow the news at all you probably — it’s not really a secret — I have a little addiction problem that I get arrested for time to time,” Brendon tells Chicago Now. “God bless sobriety! But I think Avery is going to have a problem with his eucalyptus intake. Because the whole thing about koalas is that they’re fierce creatures, and what keeps them mellow is the eucalyptus, that acts like a catnip for them.”

Angel returning to Dark Horse late next year

Angel #39

Angel #39

An announcement in Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Riley one-shot has fans wondering, and worrying, about the future of IDW Publishing’s Angel series.

In a column at the end of the issue, in stores today, Dark Horse Senior Managing Editor Scott Allie teased “the return of the Angel series to Dark Horse in late 2011, in tandem with our Buffy Season 9 relaunch.” (You can read the full column after the break.)

Angel, based on the Buffy television spin-off created by Joss Whedon, was published by Dark Horse from 2000 to 2002, first as an ongoing series and then, briefly, as a miniseries. However, IDW acquired the rights to the property in 2005, and since has released numerous miniseries and an ongoing series. Angel #36 was released this week; a Spike series debuts in October. Dark Horse published Buffy comics from 1998 to 2004 before launching the highly successful Season 8 in 2007.

Word of Allie’s brief announcement quickly spread online, both on the Whedonesque fan community and on the IDW message board. Reaction has been decidedly mixed, with fans looking for clarification on the future of Angel, and how the move might affect the rest of the “Buffyverse.”

Chris Ryall, IDW’s publisher and editor-in-chief, posted on his company’s forum earlier today, telling concerned Angel readers that, “We’ll be addressing this soon, so please bear with us. Thanks, for your patience and your support.”

A conflict emerged in January when it was revealed that Twilight, the villain lurking behind the scenes for much of Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, was actually Angel. Although Allie assured fans that the surprise twist wouldn’t conflict with the continuity of the IDW series, and would be “made to work,” new Angel writer Bill Willingham was quick to point out that he was never informed of the plot development.

But as recently as Friday, Allie tweeted about brainstorming with Ryall, Spike writer Brian Lynch and IDW editor Mariah Huehner, suggesting that the two companies had overcome any coordination glitches.

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SDCC ’10 | Get your Buffy the Vampire Slayer soda

Jones Soda's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" bottles

Jones Soda's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" bottles

Thirsty Comic-Con attendees and die-hard Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans take note: Beginning today, a Jones Soda truck will be driving around the San Diego Convention Center and the Gaslamp Quarter dispensing collector’s edition bottles sporting Season Eight art by Georges Jeanty and such themed flavors as “Dawn’s a Centaur Root Beer,” “Giles’s Grape Potion” and “Willow’s Green Apple Witch’s Brew.” There are six in all.

If you miss the truck, or aren’t in San Diego this week, don’t worry: You’ll apparently be able to order the Buffy line from the Jones Soda website beginning later today.

(via UGO, FEARnet)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight motion comic, trailer debut

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight

A free trailer has debuted on Apple’s iTunes store for the motion-comic adaptation of Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight. The first episode apparently will be available later today; a “season pass” costs $14.99.

The motion comic will cover the first 19 issues of Season Eight, a canonical continuation of Joss Whedon’s cult-hit television series. The comic, which debuted from Dark Horse in 2007, has featured work by Whedon, Georges Jeanty, Brian K. Vaughan, Drew Goddard, Jane Espenson, Brad Meltzer, Jeph Loeb and others.

You can read the iTunes Store description for Season Eight after the break:

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Talking Comics with Tim: Sierra Hahn, Joëlle Jones

Janet & Alex Evanovich's Troublemaker

Janet & Alex Evanovich's Troublemaker

Troublemaker is a unique opportunity for Dark Horse, in which Janet Evanovich continues her best-selling Barnaby series (as first chronicled in the prose novels, Metro Girl and Motor Mouth) with her first graphic novel [co-written by Evanovich with her daughter, Alex]. Troublemaker is a two-part series–the first book comes out in July and the second book is due out in November. I recently email-interviewed the editor of the project, Sierra Hahn, as well as one of the series’ artist, Joëlle Jones. Dark Horse describes the book as follows: “Alex Barnaby and Sam Hooker are back together and fighting crime the only way they know how — by leaving a trail of chaos, panic, and disorder. Alex, an auto mechanic and spotter for racecar driver Sam Hooker, is drawn to trouble like a giant palmetto bug to a day-old taco. Unfortunately, she’s also drawn to Hooker in the same fashion. There’s no steering clear of trouble or Hooker when friends Rosa and Felicia call for help. A man has gone missing, and in order to find him Barnaby and Hooker will have to go deep into the underbelly of Miami and southern Florida, surviving Petro Voodoo, explosions, gift-wrapped body parts, a deadly swamp chase, and Hooker’s mom.” My thanks to Hahn and Jones for the interview and Dark Horse’s Jim Gibbons for his assistance.

Sierra Hahn

Tim O’Shea: When did Dark Horse first approach Janet Evanovich about the possibility of a graphic novel–how much were you involved?

Sierra Hahn: I’ve been assisting on Buffy Season Eight going on three years now, and one day discovered that Janet Evanovich had done an incredibly thoughtful review of Season Eight for Time magazine. After that, Dark Horse reached out to her not only to say thanks, but to see if she had any interest in making comics herself. I wasn’t involved with the initial outreach to Janet, and came on board after a project was decided on.

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Send us your Shelf Porn!


Welcome once again to Shelf Porn, our weekly look at one fan’s shelves. Would you like to show off your shelves? Drop me an email and let’s see what we can do.

Today’s edition of Shelf Porn comes from book reviewer Joshua Hill. While he has a small-but-growing comic shelf, he more than makes up for it with his collection of science fiction books. So let’s turn it over to Josh …

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