How "DC Universe: Rebirth" Fulfills Its Promise of Restoring Legacy to DC Comics
Graphic novels | The best word to describe October’s BookScan Top 20 is “diverse.” No one publisher or genre dominated the list, which tracks graphic novel sales in bookstores. The list boasts four entries from perennial bestseller The Walking Dead, including the first and third volume of the massive Walking Dead Compendium; five volumes of manga, including the final volume of Naruto and the first three volumes of Tokyo Ghoul; two Star Wars collections; two kid-friendly titles, the first volume of Avatar: The Last Airbender: Smoke and Shadow and the second volume of Lumberjanes; two Batman books; and Adrian Tomine’s Killing and Dying. If any one publisher dominated, it was Image Comics, with six books on the list, including the four Walking Dead titles, the fifth volume of Saga, and the first volume of Bitch Planet. [ICv2]
Creators | Cerebus creator Dave Sim was scheduled for surgery Tuesday after checking himself into the emergency room for severe stomach cramps. According to Sim’s friend, Dr. Troy Thompson, “the presumptive diagnosis is cecal volvulus, which is a twisting of the colon causing obstruction.” However, nothing will be known for sure until after the surgery. Sim was already feeling better after doctors inserted a nasogastric tube to remove the contents of his stomach. [A Moment of Cerebus, which is offering updates]
Legal | Matthew Pocci Jr., who in July drove into the crowd of ZombieWalk: San Diego, held annually during Comic-Con International, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a charge of felony reckless driving. His lawyer said that Pocci, who is deaf, was scared for his safety and that of his family when his car was engulfed by a crowd of people during the event. He initially stopped the car but then restarted the engine and moved forward, striking several people. [UT-San Diego]
Publishing | Papercutz, which has had an extremely successful program of LEGO graphic novels based on the Bionicle, Ninjago and Legends of Chima properties, is losing that license to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, which will have its own graphic novels in bookstores by the end of this year. Papercutz reveals it will continue to publish Bionicle and Ninjago through the end of this year, and Legends of Chima through mid-2016. [Publishers Weekly, ICv2]
Passings | Fred Fredericks, who drew the Mandrake the Magician comic strip from 1965 to 2013, has died. In addition to his daily newspaper work, Fredericks drew comics for Western Publishing and Marvel. [ComicMix]
IDW Publishing has announced an August release date for Dave Sim’s Cerebus: High Society Digital Audio/Visual Experience DVD set.
Funded in July 2012 through Kickstarter, the multimedia collection of the well-regarded “High Society” storyline (Cerebus #26-50) was originally serialized online. It features Sim reading each issue, in character, accompanied by music and sound effects, with motion effects added to the story art. There’s also commentary and a virtual tour.
Business | Following weeks (if not months) of rumblings, Warner Bros. has made it official: Jeff Robinov, the Warner Bros. Pictures Group president who oversaw the 2009 restructuring of DC Comics into DC Entertainment, will leave the studio following a reorganization that establishes a new leadership team: Sue Kroll, president of worldwide marketing and distribution, Greg Silverman, president of creative development and worldwide production, and Toby Emmerich, president and chief operating officer of New Line Cinema. It doesn’t appear as if Robinov will be replaced. DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson, who initially reported Robinov, presumably will answer directly to Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara; following a shakeup last month in the television and home entertainment division, Nelson reported to both Robinov and Tsujihara. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Vintage comics and original comic art brought in $4.4 million over the weekend during a Heritage auction in New York City, Artinfo reports. Among the bigger sales were a CGC-graded 6.5 copy of Detective Comics #27, for $567,625, and John Romita Sr.’s original cover for The Amazing Spider-Man #121, which fetched $286,800.
As we noted on Friday, Dave Gibbons’ original cover art for Watchmen #1 sold for $155,350, with the first three covers going for a combined $216,892.50. John Higgins’ color guide for the first cover was bought for $7,767.50. The remaining covers for the 12-issue landmark series are expected to go up for auction later this year.
Wired.com delves into the history of the 12 covers, which were purchased at a Sotheby’s auction in 1993 by former Wizard Publisher Gareb Shamus for what’s been reported to be in the neighborhood of $26,000. The article doesn’t repeat that figure, but it does say what was paid was “a bargain price” (for instance, Higgins’ color guide for the cover of Watchmen #1 was picked up for $50, which was then five to 10 times the usual price).
Asked by A Moment of Cerebus whether the sale was part of the “Doomsday Scenario” he outlined last summer in Glamourpuss #26, Sim explained, “Well, in a sense, when you’re 57 years old in the comic-book field, everything is a Doomsday Scenario. I set this in motion by calling Lon and finding out if Heritage was interested, which they were. Very. So, that was very gratifying. But you have to start early. It’s a long process of negotiation and I knew that would be the case. I set that in motion and then John and I did the Kickstarter campaign which didn’t require AS early a start. It was successful but I guessed the money wouldn’t last much past the end of the year with all the overhead and that was what happened. Lon and I weren’t ready for the November auction which is what we originally planned. There was still some negotiating to do. But we were ready for the February auction. Lead time. Everything is lead time.”
Bidding continues online through Thursday, with the sale scheduled for Friday in New York City as part of Heritage Auctions’ Vintage Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction.
Whether it’s re-released previous print work with all-new material included, or using digital to release work that never even made it to the print stage in the first place, this past week has been one that has suggested that, yet again, old indie comics could find themselves resurrected by digital.
Following a Monday visit to Dave Sim’s Ontario home by CEO Ted Adams, IDW Publishing has struck a deal to release a hard-copy version of the Kickstarter-funded Cerebus: High Society Audio Digital as part of its new IDW Limited program. The company had already announced this week that it will publish a collection of all 300 Cerebus covers.
“I was coming here more as a decades-long Cerebus fan than as a publisher,” Adams said in a statement. “Scott [Dunbier, special projects editor] was describing all the amazing cover material he’s been scanning since Friday night and — talking to Dave on the phone — I said, ‘I’m the CEO. Why does Scott get to have all the fun?” So I booked the same commuter flight Chicago-to-Kitchener that Scott had taken last week.”
Comics | Last week a building fire destroyed the negatives for Dave Sim’s Cerebus: High Society, but George Peter Gatsis reports that more than half the 500 pages already had been scanned for the audio/visual digital edition (covering issues 26-50). For the other pages, Sim will be getting the best possible printed material and, hopefully, high-res scans. [Bleeding Cool]
Comics | Food writer Jon Watson addresses “the rise of foodie comics,” singling out Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory: “It helps that the book is extremely well written, but I’m interested in a well-executed crossover of foodie culture into pop culture. It’s not often that happens when it doesn’t elicit a groan or feel forced. I think that, as food culture has grown of the last few decades, it is organically inspiring other art forms rather than feeling like an attempt at commercialization.” [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
Comics | The negatives for Cerebus: High Society were destroyed last week in a fire that gutted a building in Waterloo, Ontario, that contained the apartment of Sandeep Atwal, communications director for Dave Sim’s Aardvark-Vanaheim Inc. According to Sim, Atwal, who had been scanning artwork for the Kickstarter-funded audio/visual digital edition of High Society, escaped with only his wallet and the clothes he was wearing. “So, I thought I’d better let everyone know that we’re definitely not on track for the September 12 launch at this point,” Sim wrote. “I don’t expect that I’ll hear from Sandeep for at least a few days — he’s staying with friends and obviously has a lot more important things to think about than HIGH SOCIETY DIGITAL.” Cerebus Fangirl has begun collecting donations to help Atwal. [A Moment of Cerebus, via The Beat]
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, the third issue of Batman Inc. would be a must for me this week [after Chris turned in his picks, DC announced that the issue will be delayed until next month], especially since it features the return of Matches Malone, a character I wasn’t even aware I missed until now. I might also spring for the first issue of Axe Cop: President of the World, a new limited series featuring the hatchet-swinging lawman.
I read very little manga by Moyoco Anno, but what I have read has impressed me and what I’ve read about her has made me want to seek more of her work out. So with $30, I’d almost certainly nab Sakuran, Vol. 1, about a high-priced courtesan/geisha looking to escape her gilded cage.
If I really, really wanted to splurge, I’d plunk $125 down for the second printing of the Wally Wood EC Stories Artist Edition from IDW, of which I’ve only heard wonderful things. If my splurging had to be a little budget-friendly, and I was in a more academic mood, I’d at least flip through Cerebus: The Barbarian Messiah, a collection of critical essays on Dave Sim’s controversial opus.
Flush with the success of his Kickstarter drive for high-end audio/visual digital edition of Cerebus: High Society, cartoonist Dave Sim is busily going about the process of assembling high-resolution images of his original artwork for this impressive collection. Problem is, he doesn’t have most of it.
In a posting on his Kickstarter page, Sim has put out a call for people who own original Cerebus art to send scans to him (see the specifications here). Sim’s intention is to substitute the original, decades-old plates from previous Cerebus printings with these new, high-resolution digital scans for future Cerebus collections both in the standard trade paperback size and the larger books like the audio/visual edition.
“No idea how long it will take to track down and scan all 6,000 pages (there are 3,800 in the Cerebus Archive) or even how many pages still exist,” Sim wrote. “It’s not hard to imagine someone buying an early page for $20 at a convention and later going ‘What was I THINKING?’ and trashing it. Anyway, any and all help with spreading the word via News site, Twitter feed, re-twee, re-re-tweet Pony Express or whatever IS VERY MUCH APPRECIATED.”
So if you or someone you know has original art from Cerebus, now’s the time to step up. Here’s a beautiful page from Cerebus #114:
To see what Akira the Don and the Robot 6 crew are reading, click below.
But the main impediment to Dave Sim’s literary reputation is Dave Sim himself. His regressive social and political views and obnoxious rhetoric have created a public persona that’s eclipsed his artistic achievement in the comics world much more completely than it would have in the larger, less insular artistic world — where, for example, plenty of people call John Updike a chauvinist but not even his bitterest detractors question his mastery as a prose stylist, where Karlheinz Stockhausen’s ill-advised statement about 9/11 being a work of art didn’t get him ejected from the first rank of postwar composers, and artists like Wagner and Pound are still secure in their respective pantheons despite having endorsed ideas that are, to put it charitably, pretty well discredited.
But Sim’s controversial ideas are not peripheral to his work; he ultimately makes them its central message and purpose. Wagner never actually wrote any operas about the villainy of the Jews, nor Pound cantos praising the wise and just rule of Franco, but Sim incorporated his screeds about women and the tenets of his one-man religion into the text of his novel, so that even a reader determined to ignore all the apocryphal gossipy bullshit accumulated around the artist and concentrate on the work itself is finally forced to confront the fact that the man has some bizarre ideas and an abrasive way of expressing them.
–Tim Kreider, in his must-read introduction to a longer essay on Dave Sim’s seminal (in more ways than one) independent comic Cerebus from The Comics Journal #301. (I made this exact point, complete with the Wagner example, a few years back.) It’s one thing to be an artist with odious ideas unrelated or tangential to your art; it’s quite another to make them your art’s main attraction. Kudos to Kreider for drawing the distinction so clearly.