Axel-In-Charge: Unmasking the "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Twin Ion Engines — or TIE Fighters — will live on in the new Stars Wars movies, and on collectors’ shelves.
At Comic-Con International this week, Hasbro revealed the first toys in its upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens toy line, starting with a glimpse of what to expect from the movie’s villains: a brand-new, 26-inches tall, $170 TIE Fighter along with, naturally, its pilot.
The TIE Fighter is part of The Black Series, Hasbro’s high-end collectible Star Wars line. The TIE Fighter — which takes the familiar look of the spacecraft and adds some cool enhancements, like that touch of red — belongs to the “First Order” group, which was born from the ashes of the Galactic Empire after the Battle of Endor at the end of Return of the Jedi.
It’s deja vu all over again for the Diamond Gem Awards: Voted on by comics retailers, the winners this year look a lot like the 2013 lineup, with Image Comics and BOOM! Studios once again taking honors as top publishers in their divisions. Marvel was named top dollar publisher, DC Comics as top backlist publisher and Viz Media as top manga publisher — just like in 2012 and 2013.
The first issue of the widely acclaimed Ms. Marvel was honored as comic book of the year in the under $3 division, and Thor #1 was the choice among pricier comics. The Amazing Spider-Man #1 brought in the most dollars, however. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was named the best all-ages comic of the year, Batman: Earth One took the honors as best original graphic novel, and Box Brown’s Andre the Giant was the best indie comic.
In terms of who got what, DC Comics won seven awards, Marvel won six and Dark Horse won three, including best anthology for Dark Horse Presents, another three-peat.
Here’s the full list of winners:
Crime | A man was spotted on security video last week at New York Comic Con stealing a one-of-a-kind, 20-inch Dunny figure hand-painted by by Jon-Paul Kaiser valued at $2,000, plus two other items, from the Clutter Magazine booth. [DNAinfo New York]
Legal | Chinese cartoonist Wang Liming, who uses the pen name “Biantai Lajiao” (Perverted Chili Pepper), has applied for a visa to remain in Japan, saying he’s afraid to return to China. Liming’s account on the Chinese social media site Weibo, where he published his cartoons, was shut down in August, and the People’s Daily newspaper has called him a traitor and accused him of being pro-Japan. Last year, he was arrested and held overnight on charges of “suspicion of causing a disturbance.” “China’s situation surrounding freedom of speech has worsened during these six months,” Wang said in an interview. “I have no idea where the borderline is (between what is permissible and what is not anymore).” [The Asahi Shimbun]
What started as a collection of Harry Potter merchandise has grown well beyond that into comics, video games and much more — but that doesn’t mean you won’t find a Sorting Hat in the pictures below.
“I started collecting seriously when I was about 11,” says Jordan from Southern California, who is now 24. “I bought my first piece of Harry Potter merchandise, and I was committed. Up until about six months ago, my main collection could be considered a small museum of HP collectibles. Though since the books and movies have ended, I made the hard decision to move on from that and packed up 90 percent of it to be put into storage. I am now finally able to fully display my other interests and hobbies, and I hope you enjoy my new collection display as much as I do.”
Check out pictures and video of her comics, books, toys and collectibles below.
DC Entertainment led with six awards, including Top Dollar Comic of the Year for Superman Unchained #1, with Dark Horse closed behind with five wins, including Original Graphic Novel of the Year for Hellboy: The Midnight Circus hardcover. Marvel earned honors for Top Dollar Comic Book Publisher of the Year and Comic Book of the Year (Under $3), for The Superior Spider-Man #1 NOW!
Other winners include Archie Comics’ Afterlife with Archie #1 for Comic Book of the Year (Under $3), Top Shelf Productions’ March: Book One for Indie GN of the Year, and Image Comics’ East of West for Best New Comic Book Series. The complete list can be found below.
Nominees were selected by a panel of Diamond Comic Distributors product specialist based on their impact on the industry (for the vendors), and sales performance and quality (for the products). The winners were then chosen by direct market retailers.
Moulsinart S.A., the company established to promote and protect the works of Hergé, has signed a deal for Diamond Comic Distributors to exclusively distribute The Adventures of Tintin merchandise in specialty stores in North America and the Philippines.
The announcement is characterized as “a key step in Moulinsart’s first ongoing and comprehensive program of Tintin collectibles, comics, and limited availability products in North America.” A primary goal of the initiative is to expand the sales and brand awareness of Tintin in North America.
Hergé’s beloved series, which chronicles the adventures of a globe-trotting young Belgian reporter and his faithful dog Snowy, has been been translated into more than 50 languages and sold more than 200 million copies worldwide. Although the books have experienced limited popularity in the United States, Steven Spielberg’s 2011 motion-capture film adaptation raised awareness of the character.
Tintin merchandise has been listed in Diamond’s Previews catalog since June, and will be spotlighted in dedicated pages.
“Although many U.S. fans became aware of Tintin with the Steven Spielberg/Peter Jackson film released in 2011, the international Adventures of Tintin have been known worldwide for many years,” John Parker, Diamond’s vice president of business development, said in a statement. “We at Diamond are ecstatic to be involved in the expanded introduction of Tintin’s stories and awesome collectible and novelty products to the thousands of stores in our network.”
News of the Moulsinart deal comes just a week after Diamond announced it had inked a deal with Tezuka Productions to distribute Osamu Tezuka comics, toys and other products outside of Japan.
Archaia Entertainment struck a deal with Skelton Crew Studio to produce prop replicas based on David Petersen’s award-winning fantasy series Mouse Guard. The line of pewter collectible swords, shields and other armament will debut in time for Christmas with the Black Axe (you can see the design at right).
Launching in 2006, Mouse Guard centers on an elite group of warriors charged with protecting their fellow mice from the elements, predators and other dangers. The series has won Eisner Awards for best anthology, best graphic album and best publication for kids.
Owned by Israel Skelton, the Maine-based Skelton Crew crafted the collectible keys based on IDW Publishing’s Locke & Key and is creating replicas from Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory.
“I’m thrilled about getting these into the hands of my fans,” Petersen said in a statement. “Israel has done amazing work bringing the Locke & Key keys to the real world, and I love working with him on the intricacies of all of the mouse weapons and arms so that he can work his magic with them. He’s a true craftsman who cares about the details as much as my fans do.”
That’s right, Joss Whedon now has his own action figure. Or, rather, figurine, as Entertainment Weekly notes it doesn’t have moveable joints. But whatever you want to call it, you can get Whedon as one of four mini-figures packaged with the collector’s edition of Morgan Spurlock’s documentary Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope. Spurlock, Stan Lee and Harry Knowles are the other three.
The Whedon and Spurlock figures will be available with the DVD exclusively at Toys ‘R’ Us beginning July 10, which means fans may even get a chance to have them signed by the filmmakers themselves at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Wait, that means you’d have to take them out of the package — so just have them sign the plastic case.
Creators | iZombie writer Chris Roberson discusses his recent public announcement that he would no longer accept work from DC Comics and his subsequent dismissal from his last writing job for the publisher. “Well, this has been building over the last few months, and mostly had to do with what I saw DC and Time Warner doing in regards to creator relations. I think the first thing — you have to understand that when I first started working for DC in 2008, the Siegels had just recaptured half of the copyright for Action Comics #1 and I felt very good about that. That seemed like a very positive step. And then over the course of the last few months there has been the counter-suit against the Siegels’ lawyer, Marc Toberoff, and I was less sanguine about that, and starting to get a little itchy about it, and then there were just a few general things about the way that it seemed that DC regards creators now that are working for them — and I can talk about that more in detail — but the real kind of proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was the announcement at the beginning of February of Before Watchmen, which I just thought was unconscionable. And so I had already signed a contract by that point to do six more issues of iZombie, of which three of them had been turned in, and so I just made the decision to go ahead and turn in the remaining three, not wanting to jeopardize the livelihood of my collaborators Mike and Laura Allred. But once I turned in the last one, even though I had other work lined up, I would have to at least — if only for my own peace of mind — let people know that I wasn’t happy with it.” [The Comics Journal]
Creators | Writer Peter David shares a “Fan/Pro Bill of Rights” related to proper behavior at conventions, starting with a “Prime Directive”: “Fans and Pros have the right to be treated by each other with the same courtesy that they themselves would expect to be treated. Fans and Pros who act like jerks abrogate the right to complain when they themselves are treated like jerks.” [Peter David]
Crime | A Denver judge sentenced Aaron Castro to 45 years in prison after Castro pleaded guilty to drug and extortion charges. Prosecutors say he ran a major methamphetamine distribution ring and laundered the profits by buying and selling valuable comics in the collector’s market. [KMGH Denver]
Digital | Robot 6 contributor Graeme McMillan catches an error in Marvel’s press release from last week: Marvel was not the first comics publisher to release an entire line of comics simultaneously in print and digital—Archie Comics was. [Blog@Newsarama]
Tonner Doll Company, the folks behind the DC Stars collection, has officially announced its 2011 Comic-Con International exclusive: a kind-of-cool — if you’re into high-priced collectible dolls, that is — kind-of-creepy limited-edition Dark Phoenix doll. How limited? Very, according to the manufacturer; just 150 pieces have been made.
That means, of course, that Dark Phoenix will be very expensive. Although Tonner’s press release doesn’t list a price — file under “If you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it” — eBay already has the doll pegged at anywhere from $254.95 to (gulp) $349.99.
But, hey, isn’t she worth it? Just read this description: “In keeping with the fine detail and quality of Tonner’s other product lines, Dark Phoenix will boast hand-painted facial details, including mesmerizing mirrored eyes and fine quality variegated, rooted saran hair. She features a recently enhanced 16″ high-quality vinyl and hard plastic body with 13-points-of-articulation for dynamic poses. Dark Phoenix’s meticulously crafted costume consists of a searing red bodysuit with metallic ‘Phoenix’ emblem and attached gloves, thigh-high faux leather boots, and matching gold sash with a ‘Phoenix’ charm. A display stand is also included.”
I would’ve gone with “haunting, soulless eyes” rather than “mesmerizing mirrored eyes,” but I’m not really the target audience for this thing, “searing red bodysuit” or no. Tonner will be at Booth #4149 in the San Diego Convention Center, so start saving those pennies.
In a move that most likely is causing comics collectors almost physical pain, the trading-card company Upper Deck is cutting out panels from old, rare Marvel comics to make trading cards for their Marvel Beginnings series.
The cards are made from actual panels of vintage comics such as Amazing Spider-Man #2. The Marvel Ultimate Collection Panel Focus insert cards, as they are called, will be the rarest cards in the set, at one per case. The series also includes sketch and autograph cards by a raft of creators, including Stan Lee, Mark Waid, Kurt Busiek, and Brian Michael Bendis; these will occur with a frequency of one per box.
The question is whether it would be worth some entrepreneur’s while to buy up all the cards, pull out the panel focus cards, and piece together their own Frankenstein-like copy of Amazing Spider-Man #2. Probably not, but it’s fun to think about.
UPDATE: ICv2 has the list of comics used.
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.
Users of the Wizard Universe Message Board are reporting that Wizard, the flagship magazine of Gareb Shamus’s publishing, retail, and conventions empire, has ceased publication of its long-running price guide for collectible comics with this month’s Issue 218.
When Shamus started Wizard out of his parents’ basement in 1991, it essentially was a price guide. Even as it evolved from a glorified newsletter into a full-fledged comics magazine, its monthly tracking of “hot” comics and their supposed value on the secondary market — supplemented with “Hot Ten” writers and artists lists, mini-guides dedicated to particular characters, creators, or titles, spotlights on issues of note and so on — put the publication on the map during the speculator boom of that decade’s early years and, in the eyes of many readers and fans, was how Wizard earned its long-time subtitle: “The Guide to Comics.”
But the section has also been a divisive one, with many in the comics community tying it to what they see as lamentable trends like variant covers, “slabbed” and graded comics, and of course the bust that followed the boom, to say nothing of the somewhat-dubious notion that contemporary comics are potentially lucrative collectibles in the first place. Moreover, recent years have seen the section’s page count slowly chipped away (along with that of the rest of the magazine, which WUMBers report is still retailing at the same price as it did with the price guide’s eight pages intact) as the Internet’s capacity for constant updating caused much of the price guide’s information to be outdated even prior to publication. Outspoken staffer Mark Allen Haverty, who recently made himself a moderator on the increasingly hostile Wizard board, says as much in his explanation for why the guide is gone:
Unless there’s a lot online discussion about an item, I usually don’t pay much attention to high-priced statues based on comic characters. It’s obviously a lucrative business, one that sometimes targets very specific tastes, but I have no interest in shelling out $50 for, say, a Supergirl mini-bust.
However, occasionally something catches my eye, if not necessarily for the intended reasons.
A few months ago famed Japanese collectibles-manufacturer Kotobukiya launched its Marvel Bishojo (“pretty girl”) Collection of statues designed by Shunya Yamashita, who’s well-known for his illustrations of busty young women in provocative poses.
Between the name of the line and the name of the artist, you have a pretty good idea what you’re in for: Black Widow, her cleavage in full view and perched atop impossibly tall stilettos, posing with a gun; Rogue, showing off her “voluptuous curves” as she activates her comlink or maybe cups her ear to sing; and Scarlet Witch as she … well, I’ll get to that in a moment.