Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Publishing| Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso talks about bringing more Latino characters — and more diversity in general — to the Marvel lineup: “People out there reading our comic books are of all sizes, creeds and colors and it’s our responsibility to make them feel included. This isn’t some PC initiative, this is capitalism. This is about supply and demand.” [Fox News Latino]
Creators | Grant Morrison discusses winding up his run on Action Comics: “Symbolically I’m not a big fan of dealing with politics in superhero comics because I think it diminishes both sides of the argument, but I do have my own take on things. I’ve got my own politics and so they do tend to find their way in. And really for me, its more symbolic, the way story winds up to tackle all those issues and looks at them through the perspective of Superman and Red Kryptonite and weirdness. So it’s gone underground. I think the early Superman was very much more aligned with the anti-establishment, anti-authoritarian current, because I think when Superman started out that he was what entered into.” [Comics Alliance]
Comics | With the release today of Marvel’s heavily publicized Astonishing X-Men #51, which features the wedding of Northstar and Kyle, writer Marjorie Liu and associate editor Daniel Ketchum reiterate that “their story is just beginning.” When asked whether he’d be interested in a Northstar solo series, Ketchum replied, “Is that even a question? I can have a pitch ready by the end of the day. Spoiler alert: Storm and Dazzler will be recurring guest stars.” The New York Times, meanwhile, spotlights Ohio couple Scott Everhart and Jason Welker, who were set to be married this morning in a ceremony at Midtown Comics in Manhattan. Unlike Northstar and Kyle, however, Scott and Jason can’t count Mayor Michael Bloomberg among their wedding guests. [The Advocate]
Publishing | Todd Allen turns an analytical eye on Marvel’s twice-a-month releases as well as the cover prices of the publisher’s comics. Overall, prices are down a bit and frequency is up, but Allen isn’t sure if that’s an actual trend. [The Beat]
Conventions | Early estimates place attendance three-day attendance at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo at 34,000, up from 27,500 at last year’s inaugural event. “Last year was disappointing,” said Eric Thornton, manager of Chicago Comics. “But now you definitely see this starting to take hold.” [Chicago Tribune]
Retailing | Borders Group has announced it will close an additional 28 stores, bringing the total to 228. The bookseller, which filed for bankruptcy protection on Feb. 16, had used the possibility of as many as 75 closings as leverage to negotiate lease concessions. This latest wave will bring the chain’s remaining store total to about 400. [Media Decoder]
Publishers | Chicago-based publisher Archaia, which expects sales of $11 million this year, has raised capital from a group of investors with local connections. [Crain’s Chicago Business, via ICv2.com]
Comic-Con | Badges for Comic-Con International sold out Saturday during a marathon online-registration session that taxed the servers of convention sales partner TicketLeap and frustrated ticket buyers. Four-day passes were gone by about 2 p.m. PT; the event sold out by 6 p.m. (Additional passes may become available as cancellations are processed.) As we noted earlier, San Francisco comics retailer Isotope is memorializing Saturday’s experience with a “San Diego Comic Con 2011 Registration Disaster Commemorative Fail Frog button,” featuring a modified version of the TicketLeap logo that frustrated users saw every time they refreshed their web browser.
On the TicketLeap company blog, CEO Chris Stanchak acknowledged that “our platform experienced capacity issues for a 4 hour period” on Saturday: “While we knew the event was going to put significant demand on our system, we did not expect the traffic we received. […] The traffic we received yesterday was several orders of magnitude higher than our high end estimate. Due to the heavy strain on the system, users for all events across our system received ‘Over Capacity’ errors. This prevented ticket buyers from buying tickets and it prevented event organizers from managing their events.” Tom Spurgeon offers commentary. [Comic-Con International]
Three top executives are leaving DC Entertainment as part of the company’s massive restructuring, according to multiple reports: Senior Vice President & Creative Director Richard Bruning, Senior Vice President-Marketing and Sales Steve Rotterdam, and Senior Vice President-Brand Management Cheryl Rubin.
The news was first reported on Friday in a since-removed post at The Beat, and then on Sunday by Bleeding Cool before being confirmed this morning by Deadline. It’s unclear whether the executives were laid off or turned down relocation offers.
The three departures follow that of Senior Vice President-Creative Affairs Gregory Noveck in August. In addition, longtime DC employee Patrick Caldon, who was promoted in February to executive vice president-finance and administration — part of the five-person executive team — reportedly will retire. That may explain why his name has been absent from the latest press releases.
Announced on Sept. 21, the reorganization leaves DC’s comics-publishing division in New York City while moving the company’s administrative/business and digital and multimedia operations — including, presumably, the WildStorm offices now based in La Jolla, Calif. — to a Warner Bros.-managed property in Burbank, Calif. As many as 80 of DC’s estimated 250 employees are expected to be fired or relocated.
As many as 80 employees will be fired or relocated in the restructuring of DC Entertainment that will see part of the company’s operations move from New York City to Burbank, Calif., according to a notice filed Wednesday with the New York State Department of Labor and reported by Bloomberg.
That amounts to nearly a third of DC’s estimated 250 employees. The filing doesn’t specify how many of those positions will be firings, and how many will be moved cross-country. The Los Angeles Times reported earlier this week that about 20 percent of the company’s staff “will lose their jobs as part of the shift,” a statement challenged by DC.
A Warner Bros. spokesman wouldn’t comment to Bloomberg on the specifics of the layoffs.
Announced on Tuesday, the reorganization leaves DC’s comics-publishing division in New York City while relocating the company’s administrative and digital and multimedia operations — including, presumably, the WildStorm offices now based in La Jolla, Calif. — to a Warner Bros.-managed property in Burbank. It was subsequently revealed that the WildStorm and Zuda imprints will close as part of the shakeup.
The labor department filing states that layoffs will begin on Dec. 27, and continue through Aug. 27, 2011, presumably the date when the move is expected to be complete.
DC executives are in the process of meeting individually with staff members to discuss their positions. “… There’s a spectrum of things that are happening for various employees – there are promotions, there are offers of relocation and unfortunately there are some layoffs to come,” DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson told Comic Book Resources on Tuesday. “Until that’s all sorted and people have had time to consider their individual opportunities and we confirm all that, which will take us a few weeks, we aren’t going to be able to discuss specifics.”
Legal | A bill introduced this week in the U.S. Senate would allow the Justice Department to seek court orders against piracy websites located anywhere in the world. The bipartisan legislation, called the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, would permit the government to seek an injunction ordering a U.S. domain registrar or registry to stop resolving an infringing site’s domain names. That means a visitor attempting to access a targeted piracy site would instead get an error message. Domains outside of U.S. control could be blocked by Internet service providers upon a court order. [Threat Level, ICv2.com]
Business | Time Warner has extended the contract of Warner Bros. Chairman and CEO Barry Meyer through December 2013 as part of a management restructuring that sees WB President and COO Alan Horn shifting from his current position into a consultancy role in six months. And in a move that may look vaguely familiar to watchers of DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. executives Jeff Robinov, Bruce Rosenblum and Kevin Tsujihara will share as part of a new Office of the President that will report directly to Meyer beginning in April. DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson reports to Robinov, currently president of Warner Bros. Picture Group; it’s unknown whether that will change in the new structure. [The Hollywood Reporter]
While many await an announcement expected later today about the possible relocation of DC Comics to Los Angeles, the New York Observer reports that Marvel Entertainment is moving — from 417 Fifth Ave. to 135 W. 50th St.
The publisher will lease 60,000 square feet for nine years in the Sports Illustrated Building, allowing it to consolidate its offices onto one floor. Marvel is expected to take occupancy on Oct. 1.
DC Comics will begin to play a larger role at Warner Bros., a move marked by an organizational announcement next week, Heat Vision reports.
That will be followed in about a month by the unveiling of a spread sheet laying out how various DC superheroes will be introduced to consumers, Warner Bros. CEO Barry Meyer told attendees of the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference.
The news comes more than a year after a restructuring that saw the creation of DC Entertainment, “a new company founded to fully realize the power and value of the DC Comics brand and characters across all media and platforms,” headed by President Diane Nelson.
Meyer, who’s been chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. since 1999, said the studio had been looking after DC in a “custodial way,” but that it’s now time to become “much more entrepreneurial.” The decision is fueled, in no small part, by the end of the Harry Potter franchise next summer.
There’s little — okay, no — indication what the nature of next week’s “organizational announcement” will be, but we can probably expect plenty online speculation between now and then about the frequently rumored move of DC Comics from New York City to Los Angeles.
Publishing | Marvel reportedly has issued a round of Digital Millennium Copyright Act notices to Google in an effort targeting Blogger sites that serve as clearinghouses for links to pirated comics. (Blogger was purchased by Google in 2003.) One such blog, Comics Invasion, already has been shut down. [Bleeding Cool]
Passings | Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Paul Conrad passed away Saturday of natural causes. He was 86. The winner of three Pulitzers, an achievement matched by just two other cartoonists in the post-World War II era, Conrad worked for the Los Angeles Times for nearly 30 years, and earned a place on President Nixon’s infamous “enemies list.” [Los Angeles Times, Comic Riffs]
Kevin is out sick today, so I’m filling in on Comics A.M. … apologies for the lateness.
Publishers | Viz Senior Vice President and General Manager Alvin Lu discusses the state of the company after the layoffs that occurred in May, as well as the overall manga market. “We continue to get great support from our retail partners. They do see that these very popular series continue to do well. They are getting up there in the 40s and 50s of the volume count, and there is the challenge of bringing in newer readers, to catch them up. I was looking though a calendar from several years ago when we were looking at Bleach Vol. 5 or something. That is a conversation we’ve been having with the bookstores, and they’re being very responsive on how to work with us, to continue to drive the category. They’ve been very supportive of helping us launch new series as well. So it’s a balancing act of getting the space to launch new series while nurturing the more mature series that continue to enjoy a loyal readership.” [ICv2]
Events | Brian Heater from the Daily Cross Hatch and Sarah Morean from Blog Chicka Blog Blog have declared Aug. 28 “International Read Comics in Public” Day. They’ve started a blog that features, as you might guess, people reading comics in public. [Daily Cross Hatch]
With Comic-Con International kicking off in a few hours, the media circus is in full swing. Here are a few links to read while you’re waiting for the doors to open:
• The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs talks to Stan Lee, Dan DiDio and Sergio Aragones, among others, about whether or not the con should move to another city. “Vegas, please. I’m advocating for all the hookers. All those fanboys would be like manna dropping from heaven. Honestly, some of those folks in the Storm Trooper suits REALLY need a little action. Now that I’ve said that, I should mention that I’ll be appearing for my Comic Con speech in a storm troopers costume. I take it back,” said Bloom County creator Berkeley Breathed.
• USA Today spotlights video games, TV shows and movies that will be featured at the con this year, while the Wall Street Journal has their own list. Which ones will kill? The Hollywood Reporter might have some thoughts.
Heat Vision, meanwhile, talks to several screenwriters about adapting comics into movies.
• A popular topic with the media is costumes at Comic-Con; this one, about a Nazi memorabilia booth that’ll be set up at the show, is a bit more serious than you’d expect.
Marvel reportedly has granted its fifth rights extension to the producers of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the much-delayed Broadway musical.
According to Variety, the big-budget production appears to be moving full steam toward an opening in November or December … a mere eight months or so behind schedule: A flying workshop was held last week in Las Vegas, green-screen footage is being filmed this week in New York City, and construction continues on the 1,700-seat Hilton Theatre — all sure signs the $52-million production is back on track.
That’s certainly a good thing for the Julie Taymor-directed show, as the trade paper points to indications that Marvel is getting antsy: “It’s said Marvel has periodically asked for proof of the project’s progress, with some adding that the recent fifth extension would likely be the last.”
Word trickled out last week that Next to Normal star Jennifer Damiano has been cast as Mary Jane Watson, replacing Evan Rachel Wood, who left the production in March. Spider-Man producers haven’t confirmed Damiano’s casting or commented on widely circulating reports that Patrick Page (The Lion King) will play Green Goblin, stepping in for Alan Cumming, who bailed in April. At this point, the only cast member known for certain is 26-year-old relative newcomer Reeve Carney, who’ll star in the title role.
Featuring a score by U2’s Bono and the Edge with a book by Taymor and Glen Berger, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is expected to be the most expensive musical in Broadway history.
Publishing | D.C. Thomson & Co., publisher of long-running comics like The Beano and The Dandy, is closing a printing plant in Dundee, Scotland, eliminating up to 350 jobs. The facility is used to print magazines and books. The company, which also owns The Evening Telegraph and Sunday Post newspapers, employs more than 2,000 people. [BBC News]
Publishing | Lori Henderson returns to the question of what led to the failure of the CMX manga imprint: “Its parent company, DC didn’t do anything to market that line. Putting a solicitation in Previews is not marketing. DC claimed they would bridge the manga and comic store gap, yet did nothing to help retailers or promote the books to bloggers, bookstores or librarians, their three strongest advocates. You can’t buy or recommend books you don’t know about. While there were other factors that contributed to its ultimate end, the mishandling of the imprint in its first year, and then being completely ignored for the rest was the main factor in its lack of sales.” [Manga Xanadu]
Crime | Florida authorities are trying to determine whether human remains discovered Wednesday in Pasco County are those of Stephen Perry, the 56-year-old ThunderCats writer who’s been missing for more than three weeks and presumed murdered. Zephyrhills police are still awaiting the results of DNA testing on the severed arm found in a trash bin on May 16 near Perry’s abandoned van.
Tampa Tribune reporter Howard Altman, who’s been covering the Perry case from the beginning, notes police revealed the latest discovery on the same day that Warner Bros. Animation announced it is producing a new version of ThunderCats. [The Tampa Tribune]