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The San Diego Comic-Con is the gift that keeps on giving, this time in the form of an interview with Love and Rockets co-creator Jaime Hernandez by CBR’s Kiel Phegley. Ask anyone who’s reading the series in its book-formatted New Stories incarnation — including this autumn’s #4, which picks up where last year’s massively acclaimed “Browntown”/”The Love Bunglers” storyline left off — and they’ll tell you: Jaime’s making some of the best work of his career, some 30 years after L&R made its debut. Unfortunately, that left him floundering when it came time to come up with a story for next year’s volume:
I almost blew my wad on these last two issues. I was so proud of it, and I wrapped up so many loose ends, and I was so proud of myself. And I said ‘Okay, now it’s time to do a new issue’…and I was blank. I swear, I was blank! I was actually looking out the window, looking for something, some kind of inspiration, you know? That happens to me once in a while, but this time — I mean, big! I was just wandering around, asking my wife, ‘Do you need me to go do something out in the back yard, or…?’ I just felt like the most useless human being. It’s what I always call the post-comic withdrawal, where after I’ve just gone BANG on one issue, after it’s done, I feel so useless. I need to do something, but it’s like nothing’s there. It always comes, but I can’t make it come. It’s an organic thing with me, where it comes when it comes. Luckily, it’s always come within the deadline.
Watch the entire fascinating interview, which reveals a lot about Jaime’s creative process and his desire to do comics outside his usual “Locas” world, above.
JManga is the online manga service that readers have been waiting for: Fresh manga in a variety of genres (including lesser-selling ones like sports manga), straight from Japan, on your computer, iPad, Android, or Kindle. They launched at San Diego Comic-Con with a panel, and Deb Aoki has provided us with the most comprehensive reporting on it yet by posting a transcript of the SDCC panel and an interview with six representatives of JManga and participating publishers Kodansha, Shogakukan, Futabasha, and Kadokawa Shoten.
JManga is a great idea, and there was a lot of talent in the room, but there’s only one thing that manga readers care about: The manga. And it was very troubling that in their big SDCC panel the publishers could not identify a single title that it would carry (although the Futabasha rep hinted pretty strongly that Crayon Shin-chan would be on there). When Aoki asked if the manga in the enormous banner over their heads would be included in the JManga portal, JManga rep Robert Newman answered:
My apologies, but this information cannot be disclosed at this time. We will provide you with more information regarding titles around the timing of the launch.
San Diego 2011 was all about playing the game, about recognizing that Comic Con isn’t gonna be what any of us wants or needs or cares about, it’s instead going to try to be a little bit of what everyone who comes there cares about. All the starfuckers just there to see someone who was on TV one time, all of the PR flacks looking for the next big thing or trying to sell us the next big thing, the toy makers, the funny t-shirt hawkers, the deep discounters, the booth-babes, and even the comics folks—this is the year we all just sucked it up and realized that we were all gonna be in this together, and it’s gonna be in the same old San Diego convention centre in the same old gaslamp, and we’re all just gonna get used to it. So we did. We’re all playing the game now.
–from retailer/blogger/TCAF organizer/Wallace Wells inspiration Chris Butcher’s excellent report on this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. It’s an entertaining blend of photo parade, personal anecdotes, and astute analysis of the comics presence at the show.
Butcher contrasts San Diego with other shows he’s worked at “where 100% of the audience was potentially interested in 100% of what I was selling,” as opposed to even a good year at San Diego, where most attendees are there for something other than buying comics, let alone the specific comics and comic art he was selling as booth manager for Street Fighter publisher UDON and representative of Toronto retailer The Beguiling’s original art sales wing. He also notes that no single book garnered “book of the show” accolades of the sort that previously greeted such works as Blankets, Kramers Ergot, and the one-volume Bone, and that even publishers with a killer suite of products and announcements walked away from the show playing second fiddle to the usual churn of Hollywood advance buzzmaking and Marvel and DC announcements (which were themselves fairly subdued this year).
But! Butcher says it was the best San Diego he’s been to in a while, which is reflective of what I’ve heard from most of the comics-centric attendees this year. Whether it’s due to Hollywood’s lowered expectations for the show and the consequently lessened obnoxiousness from that aspect of the show; the establishment of offshoot events dedicated specifically to comics; recalibrated expectations and/or wholesale retreat from the con by some of its more outspoken alternative-comics detractors; or simply renewed attention to its still-fine line-up of comics publishers, retailers, creators, and programming; the show went over better this year among comics folks than at any time in recent memory, lack of a “book of the show” be damned.
Comics | In a post subtitled “Why the new biracial Spider-Man matters,” David Betancourt shares his reaction to the news that the new Ultimate Spider-Man is half-black, half-Latino: “The new Ultimate Spider-Man, who will have the almost impossible task of replacing the late Peter Parker (easily one of Marvel Comics most popular characters), took off his mask and revealed himself to be a young, half-black, half-Latino kid by the name of Miles Morales. When I read the news, I was beside myself, as if my brain couldn’t fully process the revelation. My friendly neighborhood Spider-Man was … just like me? This is a moment I never thought I’d see. But the moment has arrived, and I — the son of Puerto Rican man who passed his love of comics to me, and a black woman who once called me just to say she’d met Adam West — will never forget that day.”
As I was going through the folders I’d set up on my hard drive for my yearly trek to the San Diego Comic Con, seeing what needed to be cleaned out and what was still on my “to do” list, I realized I was sitting on a huge stockpile of art that Oni Press had given me after their panel on Friday. I’d asked Oni’s Cory Casoni for the artwork they showed from Rascal Raccoon, the new book they announced at the show, and he gave me everything they showed during their presentation.
And there was a lot of stuff. Granted, a lot of it you’ve probably seen before — Chris posted some preview art from Power Lunch last week, for instance, and they had a lot of pages from The Sixth Gun that came from various issues of its run — but I figured why not share it all? And this seemed the week to do it, since they showed a lot of pages from Phil Gelatt and Tyler Crook‘s Petrograd, which hits shops this week.
So, after the jump, you’ll find the covers for some upcoming books like the second Black Metal and Spell Checkers volumes, as well as pages from One Soul, Petrograd and many other Oni books. For more on the panel itself, I’ll direct you to John Scarff’s report over on CBR.
I’ll admit it, it’s a bit of a shock to see a Brian Ralph comic that isn’t about some deceptively adorable character adventuring their way through an impeccably rendered rubble-strewn environment. Then again, is surviving the San Diego Comic-Con really all that different? The Daybreak cartoonist and alumnus of the influential Fort Thunder collective is chronicling his experience at Comic-Con International 2011 in diary comics form for The Comics Journal all week long. Day one’s a doozy, a journey from misery to triumph and back to misery in the space of a few panels. Look out for the cameo appearance from Drawn and Quarterly’s staff supercouple Peggy Burns and Tom Devlin, who emerge as a sort of obscenity-spewing Statler & Waldorf.
Jamie Coville regularly attends a whole bunch of comic book conventions and records various panels (with the panelists’ permission), then posts them on the internet as podcasts. He’s now posted several from this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, including the Dwayne McDuffie and Gene Colan tributes, several spotlight panels, the Eisner awards and the Indie Comics Marketing 101 panel (featuring Sam Humphries, Ben McCool, Chip Mosher, Laura Hudson and me!). He’s also got pictures from them posted on Picasa, which is where the above photo of our beloved leader comes from.
You’ll find the full list of available MP3s after the jump, or head over to Jamie’s site for his complete archive.
CBR and Comics Should Be Good contributor Sonia Harris’s report from the Love and Rockets spotlight panel — in which all three of Los Bros Hernandez, Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario, analyzed one another’s work with moderator Kristy Valenti of The Comics Journal — is pure L&R-nerd heaven for a whole bunch of reasons. But not least among them is the revelation that Gilbert will be returning to the streets of Palomar, the tiny fictional Latin American village in which the bulk of his acclaimed stories for the series were set for years, with next year’s Love and Rockets: New Stories #5 from Fantagraphics. It’s a welcome surprise — emphasis on surprise, given how Beto has talked about his Palomar-based material lately.
Gilbert left the village behind years ago, with the end of the first volume of Love and Rockets in 1996. Subsequent stories were set in the same world, but shifted to Los Angeles and largely centered on the American sisters of Palomar matriach Luba, who moved to the States along with several other Palomar characters. Since L&R Vol. 2 wrapped up in 2007, the bulk of Beto’s work has come in the form of “adaptations” of the Z-grade movies that Luba’s psychologist-turned-actress sister Fritz has starred in within the Palomar world. The resulting material has been much more genre-based than the naturalistic/magic-realist Palomar comics, and absolutely suffused with graphic sex and violence. The move has left critics divided, but Hernandez told our own Chris Mautner that he wouldn’t have it any other way: “The Fritz series frees me of any obligation to be a do-gooder cartoonist, something most regular L&R readers probably don’t want to hear. I felt straight jacketed with ‘Palomar’ and the like after a while, really. I have a lot more going on in my imagination than I’m expected to utilize.”
On the panel where he announced his return to the town, he was appropriately enough a bit more conciliatory about his older work. “People always compare my [current] stuff to the ‘Palomar’ stuff, but lately, my stories have been just a little colder edged because I’m more interested in that,” he said, later adding that creating the “Fritz-verse” of movie-based comics enabled him to go wild without stuffing too much weirdness into “Palomar” for it to work properly as a setting.
As for what, specifically, is in store for Palomar’s residents, Hernandez hinted that the story will involve the legacy mothers leave their daughters — which, if you know your Beto, is enough to make you very excited and very nervous.
I might still like to do the Atom. I think there’s something great to be done with the Atom that hasn’t been done yet…I like the idea of doing an Atom story where he can only shrink to a certain size for each episode. One of the things I felt didn’t work about the Atom was that he was up and down [in height] and could do anything. I thought it would be really good to do stories of a guy who has so much power to shrink that he does it for missions when he’s brought in. So it’s slightly more Indiana Jones, where this guy works as a professor during the day, but sometimes he’ll get a call from the President — “There’s monsters in the White House carpet” kinda stuff. — and he comes in and deals with that. But in another episode he might just shrink to six inches and be chased around a room by bad guys and cats and dogs, like Incredible Shrinking Man stuff. I thought there’s a sci-fi series in there, where each issue is him at a different scale. In some he could be trapped at a molecular scale, and in other ones he’s one inch and trapped in the garden.
–Action Comics and Supergods writer and superhero-revamper extraordinaire Grant Morrison in conversation with CBR’s Jonah Weiland, who asked him what B-list characters he’d still like to take a crack at. And hey, Morrison’s proven his proficiency with sprawling supporting-player revamps in the past with projects like Seven Soldiers (not to mention the upcoming Multiversity, which he says will have a similar focus on DC’s deep bench), so would it be out of the question for him to throw a Ryan Choi: Rebirth and Atom Incorporated into the mix? For now, I’ll file this with his much-discussed desire to write Wonder Woman under projects we’ll hopefully get to see one day.
Watch the entire video above for more Morrison commentary on the Lois & Clark marriage, Superman’s costume, Action Comics, New X-Men, Supergods, Sinatoro and more.
It was the shout heard ’round the world. In the opening minutes of DC’s very first daily “New 52″ panel at the San Diego Comic-Con last Thursday, when Co-Publisher Dan DiDio turned to the audience and asked what DC would have to do to change the minds of those skittish about the impending relaunch, one man yelled “Hire women!” The number of women creators working on the DC Universe, he added after audience applause, had dropped with the relaunch from 12% of the total to just 1% (i.e. Gail Simone, and Amy Reeder if you count the later Batwoman launch). DiDio’s response was to turn the question back on the questioner and ask him whom he thinks DC should hire. The move raised some eyebrows, to be sure, given that an audience member isn’t in the kind of position to assess all the professional comics talent available to be hired that the brass at a major publisher would be in. Still — and I’ll just quote myself here from another time this topic came up — “I think it behooves those of us who argue for the inclusion of non-white non-straight non-male people in a creative team or superhero team or panel or article or exhibit to have candidates ready to hand,” so turnabout is fair play, I suppose.
Say the name Liam Sharp to a group of comic readers and it’s bound to bring up different images for each person. To some he’s best known for the early ’90s Marvel UK series Death’s Head II, while others think Judge Dredd and even others remember his ill-fated comic company Mamtor from a few years back. Although Mamtor failed to become a lasting presence, it featured impeccable work (and design from Tom Muller) that is a great back-issue find if you’re so lucky. And at Comic-Con International over weekend, Sharp announced his new publishing outfit — Madefire Publishing.
Launching as a digital-first comics publisher, Madefire is intended to be a modern-day equivalent of the comics from Sharp’s childhood — “cheep, accessible entertainment,” as he’s told Bleeding Cool. Using the wide user base of smartphones, Madefire’s digital comics app hopes to touch into both the hardcore fan, the lapsed fan and the future fan with their line-up of titles.
In addition to his own project Captain Stone is Missing, Sharp has assembled a great line-up of creators for the effort, including Mike Carey and Dave Kendall’s Houses of the Holy and a new series called Treatment written and drawn by Dave Gibbons (!!).
No word yet on when their first projects will be released, but I’ll be keeping my ears up looking for more information as its announced.
Superheroes are coming to the world of LEGO, as the Danish toy company signed deals with DC Comics and Marvel Entertainment this month that will allow their characters to be used in a LEGO Super Heroes line. Lego already has a Batman line, but the deal with DC gives them access to every character in the DC canon, including Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern. The Marvel line will focus on the Avengers, the X-Men and Spider-Man, and it will launch in May 2012, at the same time The Avengers movie opens. Both the Marvel and the DC line will include both minifigures and buildable figures.
Update: JK Parkin returns from Comic-Con with pictures from the LEGO booth! Check’em out after the jump.
OC Weekly has a look at Shepard Fairey’s variant cover for Orchid, the debut comic by Rage Against the Machine guitarist and Audioslave frontman Tom Morello and artist Scott Hepburn announced last week at Comic-Con International by Dark Horse. Morello stopped by the Comic Book Resources yacht at the convention to talk with CBR TV about the 12-issue series, which involves 16-year-old prostitute in a dystopian future leading a revolt.
“When the seas rose, genetic codes were smashed,” so the premise goes. “Human settlements are now ringed by a dense wilderness from which ferocious new animal species prey on the helpless. The high ground belongs to the rich and powerful that overlook swampland shantytowns from their fortress-like cities. Iron-fisted rule ensures order and allows the wealthy to harvest the poor as slaves. This is the world of Orchid.”
Orchid debuts from Dark Horse in October.
Following on the success of its Pocket God comic, which was one of the top book apps of 2010, Ape Entertainment is doing another digital comic based on an iOS game: Cut the Rope. Like Pocket God, Cut the Rope will be a standalone app (although Pocket God is also available through iVerse’s Comics+ reader). No talent was announced, but the art here and in the slightly longer preview at Mashable looks more than competent.
At the ComicsPRO meeting last February, DC co-publisher Jim Lee held up a sheet of paper and a piece of dental floss. The paper, he said, represented revenues from print comics, while the dental floss was revenues from digital comics.
Milton Greipp, publisher of the retail news site ICv2, did more or less the same thing with numbers at the ICv2 Comics, Media, and Digital Conference that kicked off this year’s Comic-Con. In his White Paper on the industry, Griepp estimated that the market for digital comics grew from about $1 million in sales in 2009 to $6 to $8 million in 2010, but the fact that he still had a $2 million error bar shows just how much uncertainty remains. One thing is for certain, though: Griepp expects the market will double this year. He credited the growth in sales of mobile devices such as the iPad and Android tablets (the Sony PSP, one of the early digital comics platforms, seems to be dead in the water; Griepp attributed this to the hacking of Sony).
Looked at in isolation, that number seems impressive, but Griepp also estimated total sales of print comics and graphic novels in 2010 at $635 million, which means that digital sales are about 1% of the print market, a tiny slice indeed.
These numbers are dynamic, however, and print and digital sales are changing in different ways. Digital may be burgeoning, but print is in a slump, with total sales down in 2010 from $680 million the year before. Things have picked up this year, but the picture remains grim for monthly comics: Sales of comics were down 8%, graphic novels were up 3%. Put those together, and the market as a whole is down 2%.