Publishing | Comics sales were up 22 percent in the direct market over January 2012, and graphic novels increased by nearly 38 percent. This good news is tempered a bit by the fact there were five Wednesdays in this January (or 25 percent more Wednesdays, if you want to look at it that way), but that fifth week is usually a quiet one for new releases, so I think we can call this a win. The retail news and analysis site ICv2 credits Marvel NOW! and a strong backlist for the boost. [ICv2]
Publishing | Dark Horse’s video-game art book The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia last week was the No. 1 book in the United States, according to Nielsen BookScan — not merely in the graphic novel category, but in any category. The initial print run was 400,000 copies. (Comic Book Resources interviewed the book’s editor Patrick Thorpe last month.) [ICv2]
There’s a list of creators that in my estimation are not interviewed nearly enough, one such example is colorist Laura Allred. You can find several interviews with both Mike and Laura Allred together, but few rarely focus on Laura solely. So I recently crossed my fingers and shot off an email to Laura seeking to do an email interview. Much to my sheer delight, she was game for a discussion of her career as a colorist. Jamie S. Rich, long-time Allred associate and friend of Robot 6, was kind enough to share his perspective on Laura’s body of work, which helped me shape some of the topics covered in this exchange. Obviously, a huge thank you to Laura for giving so selflessly of her time. As someone who enjoyed Art Adams’ Monkeyman and O’Brien years ago, I plan to dig up my box with those issues, just to appreciate Laura’s work on it, given how highly she speaks of it in this interview.
Tim O’Shea: The life of a freelancer is never easy–and in your house, it’s extra challenging as both of you make a living either through one of the independent publishers or work through DC or Marvel. Granted at this point in your career, there is a certain brand and reputation that your work carries, still freelancing is a challenge even for successful folks as yourself. If you don’t mind me asking, how much has your faith served to buoy your spirits when the hardships of freelancing blindside you?
Laura Allred: It seems when we simply try to do our best in all our efforts, everything always seems to work out. We work hard, though Michael refuses to call it working, but we also try to make time for family and friends. So, I’ve found that my secret weapon for hardships is to just crack the whip and we get back on track. I’m only half kidding.
Creators | Artist Alan Kupperberg shares word that colorist Tom Ziuko has been hospitalized as he fights acute kidney failure and other health conditions. “The good news is that the doctors seem to have finally stumbled on a series of treatments and therapies that have Tom seeing some light at the end of the tunnel,” Kupperberg said in a message to Daniel Best. “The bad news is that Tom, uninsured and unable to work since the beginning of December, is in a tough financial bind.” Kupperberg is accepting donations via his PayPal account — firstname.lastname@example.org — and adds, “I will pass 100% (plus) along to Tom.”
Ziuko worked in DC Comics’ production department before going freelance, and colored comics like Crisis on Infinite Earths, Batman, Action Comics and History of the DC Universe, to name a few. Todd Klein remembers their time together at DC. [20th Century Danny Boy]
Creators | Artist Paolo Rivera suffered a broken cheekbone after intervening in a domestic dispute. “The good news is I’m all right and—most importantly—my vision is intact,” he wrote on his blog. “… I had surgery on Monday and have been taking it very, very easy since. All things considered, I was very lucky. My eye looks horrendous—the white of the eye is blood red—but I can still see (thank goodness) and should make a full recovery. I also have a pretty rad haircut right now due to surgery… it kinda looks like the one I had circa 1995.” [The Self-Absorbing Man]
Alec Longstreth, the colorist for The Unsinkable Walker Bean, is showing off his color schemes for the different characters at the First Second blog. The book, by Aaron Renier, tells the story of a boy who sets out to sea on a magical errand and winds up on a pirate ship. The story has a large cast, and it’s interesting to learn that Renier has background material on all the characters, even those who only have cameos. He also sent reference photos to Longstreth, who gave each character a unique set of colors. At the blog Longstreth shows off his reference sheet as well as a few examples of the finished work. This book is chock full of characters and detail, and this sort of consistency makes it much easier for the reader to follow.
Did you see that first still of Thor, Odin, and Loki from Kenneth Branagh’s upcoming Thor movie and think it needed more Kirby Krackle or Walt Simonson Psychedelia? You’re not alone. Dan Nadel, head of the art/comics publisher PictureBox and editor of their house mag Comics Comics, lamented what he perceived to be the costumes’ conservative superhero-movie style, as opposed to Kirby’s “mind-bendingly intricate mythological armor and sets with a nearly psychedelic color palette.” And dammit, he’s gonna do something about it!
Nadel will award the first-ever “Know Prize” to the person who best recolors the image. If you wield Photoshop like Mjolnir, give the Asgardian Royal Family a Rainbow Bridge makeover and send the results to knowprize (at) comicscomicsmag (dot) com (72dpi RGB jpegs only, please) by midnight tomorrow, Wednesday, July 21. The winner will receive a Thor comic hand-selected from the infamous collection of cartoonist Frank Santoro, plus the satisfaction of knowing that he/she be worthy. That deadline’s approaching faster than Ragnarok, so get ye cracking!
Looking over the new Kodansha version of Vol. 1 of Akira (which, I’m sorry to say, is little more than the Dark Horse version on cheaper paper and the word Kodansha on the spine), I realized how much I appreciated colorist Steve Oliff’s work on the series when it was initially serialized by Epic, Marvel Comics’ fancy-shmancy line, back in the late ’80s and early 90s. I think it’s one of the few instances where an already great body of work was actually improved upon in translation.
I’m not the only one, as Ryan Sands at Same Hat! is a big fan of Oliff’s work as well. Apparently, Oliff was at APE last weekend selling the color reproduction pages to interested parties, and Sands shares a few pages on his blog.
Oliff also was featured recently in his local newspaper, the Independent Coast Observer, in a non-comics, rather tragic fashion. According to the story, Oliff came upon a deadly car accident in Manchester, near San Francisco, and attempted to pull the driver from the crash but was unable to do so before the man died.