WATCH: Batman Unmasked in New "Batman v Superman" Footage
Publishing | In advance of Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio and Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada discuss who’s reading their comics, and the creative challenges of writing about characters who have been around for generations. Asked if he was the custodian of contemporary myths, DiDio answered, “You know, I feel like a renter, to be honest. I’m in charge at this moment, and the goal is to keep these myths healthy enough so that, eventually, you can pass them down to the next person who rents them.” [Chicago Tribune]
Conventions | Christopher Butcher, the organizer of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, talks about how the show has grown and what to expect this year, including an interesting slate of international creators, from David B. to Taiyo Matsumoto. [The Comics Reporter]
Free Comic Book Day | In anticipation of Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, the San Francisco Chronicle interviews Joe Field of Flying Colors Comics, who came up with the idea in the first place, inspired by “free scoop” days at ice cream shops. [San Francisco Chronicle]
Free Comic Book Day | John Jackson Miller traces the 10-year history of Free Comic Book Day. [The Comics Chronicles]
Conventions | ReedPop Group Vice President Lance Fensterman takes stock of this year’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo and sees plenty of growth, both in attendees (42,000 this year) and exhibitors. It looks like the show will continue: “We feel like we got the answer we needed. We made maybe a little bit of money, which is fine. Year 3 is when we expect to start to see some positive cash flow, but even more so we felt that the community embraced the event and the turnout and the ticket sales reflect that—and that is just what we needed to see.” [ICv2]
The third outing for the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, or C2E2, proved to be the best yet for the show, as attendance came in at more than 41,000 total people, according to ReedPop’s Global Group Vice President Lance Fensterman. That’s compared to the 34,000 people who attended in 2011, which was up from the 27,500 who attended in 2010.
Fensterman had previously told CBR that this year they were focused on growth for the show. “Really it was about delivering the full package — the guests, the exhibitors and the fans. It’s kind of like each year we got one or two right. And that’s expected. You launch something, and you learn as you go about what fans in the new market want. So this year, the goal is ‘Let’s nail all three. Let’s get the show floor. Let’s get the crowds. Let’s get the guests.’ This year, it was really about the event coming into its own.”
Creators | Ali Ferzat, the Syrian cartoonist who was abducted and beaten last year because of his criticisms of the government, was named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.” “Tyrants often don’t get the jokes, but their people do,” Pulitzer Prize-winning Politico cartoonist Matt Wuerker writes in his tribute to Ferzat. “So when the iron fist comes down, it often comes down on cartoonists.” [Time]
Publishing | In one of its wide-ranging interviews with comics publishers, the retail news and analysis site ICv2 talks with Dark Horse CEO Mike Richardson about the state of the market, the loss of Borders, his company’s 2011 layoffs, webcomics, and some early missteps with its digital program: “Quite honestly we’ve run into a few issues because the programs that we’ve done haven’t worked as well as we wished. We created some exclusive material and got less participation than we had hoped for. […] We gave codes out to retail stores to drive customers into their stores. They could pick up the exclusive content by going to their participating comic shop. Evidently we didn’t do a good enough job getting the word out, so we’re retooling that.” [ICv2.com]
Legal | The New York Times ventures deep into the legal battle between Archie Comics Co-CEOs Nancy Silberkleit and Jonathan Goldwater, noting the two sides have gone into court-approved mediation. “Competing lawsuits filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan and State Supreme Court in Westchester County lay out a litany of bitter allegations. He punctured her car tires, destroyed her Web site and claimed that she sexually harassed employees. She ordered him to fire several longtime employees because they were too old, too fat or too buxom, and let her dog, Willow, roam the offices and defecate in the art department.” [The New York Times]
Conventions | Although no figures have been released for last weekend’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, organizer Lance Fensterman said attendance was “way up,” noting that, “the size of the show floor doubled and the aisles were much more full than last year. That tells you how much attendance jumped to keep pace with the floor growth.” [Publishers Weekly]
“If I could put the Stephen J. Cannell logo at the end of every issue I would be happy, and David Aja recently sent me this amazing piece of music. He said, ‘Here’s the soundtrack to our first issue.’ It’s Dizzy Gillespie and Lalo Schifrin from a record they did together called ‘Free Ride’ and it is great. The whole record is full of car chase music. So this series is very William Friedkin and early Brian Depalma. Rockford Files. It’s an early ’70s urban grit story. You almost expect Hawkeye to come around the corner and bump into Power Man and Iron Fist from 30 years ago.”
“Rather than try to define what Hawkeye’s role is in the Avengers, I wanted to define what is Clint Barton’s role in Hawkeye — who is he and what drives him and why is he our lead? I could close my eyes and see this Aja drawing of him with a Band-Aid across the bridge of his nose, and I got it. That’s our guy. He’s the Marvel Universe’s Jim Rockford.”
– writer Matt Fraction, in interviews with Comic Book Resources and USA Today, name-checking
the 1970s James Garner crime drama in discussions of his upcoming Hawkeye ongoing series for Marvel. There’s no word yet as to whether Clint Barton works for $200 a day, plus expenses.
DC Comics has updated its New Frontiersman promotional website with a first, albeit small, look at interior artwork from Before Watchmen, the sprawling prequel to the seminal 1986 miniseries by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. The portfolio, featuring art by the likes of Lee Bermejo, Amanda Conner, Darwyn Cooke, Adam Hughes, J.G. Jones and Jae Lee, was shown Thursday at the Diamond Retailer Summit and Saturday at the “DC All Access: Before Watchmen” panel at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo.
Following the announcement Friday at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo that DC Comics will add Ame-Comi Girls to its digital-first slate, Courtney Crumrin creator Ted Naifeh has posted some of his character sketches for the series, inspired by the popular DC Collectibles line of anime-style statues.
Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, the series launches in May with five individual character arcs leading up to the united Ame-Comi Girls, as the heroines unite to stop an invasion by a female Braniac and her “bad girl” supervillains. Naifeh, who’ll be drawing the Duela Dent chapter, writes, “If you haven’t already heard about it, this is the concept. What if the DC universe had no superheros of super-villains, but only heroines and villainesses. Right? I love it too! And I was honored to be asked to participate, drawing one of the 30-page chapters of the series.”
Check out Naifeh’s take on Batgirl and Duela here, and visit his blog to see more.
If the first day of the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo was dominated by announcements from Dark Horse and DC Comics, then the second day belonged to Marvel, which followed through on its teaser for a new series, revealed an Icon relaunch, and shuffled some creators. Here are some of the highlights from Saturday (along with a couple of holdovers from Friday):
• As usual, the “Cup O’ Joe” panel was where Marvel rolled out its biggest publishing announcements, beginning with confirmation that the teaser released last week is indeed for a Hawkeye ongoing series reuniting The Immortal Iron Fist collaborators Matt Fraction and David Aja. In the title, which debuts in August, Clinton Barton will be accompanied by fan-favorite Young Avenger Kate Bishop as he fights organized crime in New York City. “It’s very Avengers, by which I mean John Steed and Emma Peel. There’s a whole healthy person between the two of them,” Fraction told Comic Book Resources. “There’s a line in Rocky where he says, ‘I got bumps. You got bumps. Together we fit,’ or something like that — the two of them fit together. Each one has what the other doesn’t, which means they work very well together. She’s young, incredibly gifted, incredibly cultured, and incredibly headstrong. She doesn’t suffer his crap and also wants to be someone worthwhile, but she’s trying to figure out how to make that possible. She follows him not because of his abilities, but his accomplishments. So they work together quite well. It’s an apprentice and master style relationship.”
Marvel released a teaser this morning touting a reunion of The Immortal Iron Fist collaborators Matt Fraction and David Aja for an all-new ongoing series. Alas, we’ll have to wait to wait until April 14 “Cup O’Joe” panel at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo to learn the details. Until then, we’ll just have to busy ourselves with wild speculation based on the above teaser …
Graphic novels | Metro, the graphic novel by Egyptian cartoonist Magdy El Shafee that was banned in 2009 under Hosni Mubarak’s regime, will be published in English next year by Metropolitan, a division of Macmillan. El Shafee who, along with his publisher Mohammed al Sharqawi was convicted of disturbing public morals, has appealed to Egypt’s new Ministry of Culture to have the ban lifted. “I’m waiting to hear if the minister of culture will allow it to be published again,” El Shafee says. “They will have to consult with the courts. I’m hoping there may be some kind of apology.” [CNN.com]
Legal | In an article that’s heavy on background and light on new information, Matthew Beloni reports that the attorney representing the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster has asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to determine exactly what elements from the Man of Steel’s mythology his clients can reclaim as a result of the 2008 court ruling. [THR, Esq.]
Retailing | Barnes & Noble stock fell 16 cents following a report that bookstore chain, the largest in the United States, will likely end its months-long search for a buyer. Although the auction isn’t over, initial interest from at least seven potential buyers is said to have waned following the first round of bidding. [Bloomberg]
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]
My big question heading into the show this year was, “How much is it going to feel like a comics convention?” With Chris “Thor” Hemsworth and much of the cast of Chuck being around this weekend, would C2E2 start to feel like San Diego or – God forbid – Wizard World Chicago from a couple of years ago with movies and TV taking over the center of attention?
It’s only Friday, but so far so really damn good.
After last year’s C2E2, I had high expectations for the convention this year and everything got off to a great start. Press registration went smoothly again and some of the Artist Alley creators who hadn’t attended last year told me how impressed they were with the professionalism and just general niceness of the staff they’d worked with.
One major difference though is that the convention’s in a different part of McCormick Place this year. Instead of the impressive Lakeside Center with it’s unbelievable view of Lake Michigan and downtown Chicago, it’s in the West Building. Still a very nice space with lush carpeting and plenty of room, just not as jaw-droppingly grand as last year. I’m not sure why that is, but one artist brought it to my attention that the setting sun through the giant picture-windows last year could sometimes make it difficult to see and interact with fans. So whatever the rationale for moving, there are positive and negative things about both spaces.
Debuting in April 2010 on the heels of The Flash: Rebirth, the relaunched title teamed writer Geoff Johns with artist Francis Manapul, re-established Barry Allen as the Fastest Man Alive and built toward Flashpoint. So perhaps it was inevitable that the series would end as DC’s big Flash-centric event gears up.
The solicitation text gives little clue as to what to expect from the finale — other than it’s probably not good for Barry: “‘The Road to Flashpoint’ concludes as everything Barry Allen knows and cares about is lost. What is the Flashpoint? Find out in the upcoming Flashpoint #1!”
The Flash #12 arrives in stores on May 11, the same day as Flashpoint #1.
Expect more details to emerge this weekend from Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo.
Dark Horse has announced it will offer a first look at its somewhat-delayed digital comics app this weekend during the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo.
Announced in October at New York Comic Con, the planned January launch of the publisher’s digital comics program was put on hold because because of Apple’s stricter enforcement of a prohibition on in-app purchases outside the iTunes store (something Dark Horse CEO Mike Richardson confirmed earlier this month).
But now the beta version of the app is ready to be shown off at booth #601, with Dark Horse staff on hand for demonstrations, to answer questions and allow fans to take it for a test run.
Check out the official press release after the break.