EXCLUSIVE: "Arrow" Brings Back Amy Gumenick as Cupid
Comics | Wim Lockefeer translates and digests the annual report of the ACBD, the French association of comics journalists, which reveals that Asterix continues to rule the roost: The latest album had a print run of 2.25 million, dwarfing the next largest, Titeuf, with 550,000. Overall, sales are up 3.5 percent, but some of the old standards — like Asterix — are down from their historical peaks. Oh, and relevant to the recent debate involving Angouleme: The report lists about 1,400 active comics creators in France and French-speaking Switzerland and Belgium, of whom only 173 are women. [Forbidden Planet]
Hello and welcome to Shelf Porn, your weekly look at one fan’s collection. Today Justin from Southern California shares his collection of comics, action figures and a whole lot more, including more than a half shell’s worth of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Maybe we should call this week’s edition “Shell Porn.” Or maybe not.
If you’d like to share your collection with us, you can find all the details on how to do that right here.
And now here’s Justin:
Retailing | The Winston-Salem (North Carolina) Journal looks at the increasing popularity of custom retailer variant covers, focusing on local stores Acme Comics and Ssalefish Comics, which last week debuted an exclusive red-foil variant for Wrath of the Eternal Warrior and this week will release a cover by John Romita Jr. for Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1. The latter costs Ssalefish $18,800, which covered printing of color and black-and-white covers and Romita’s commission. “Even if we don’t make money back on the books, it’s still nice advertising,” said Bret Parks, owner of Ssalefish. “It’s a lot of fun and it makes our customers realize they’re getting something special, because although you might see a big stack of these ‘Eternal Warrior’ variants in our store, we’re the only store in the world that has them.” [The Winston-Salem Journal]
Crime | A woman in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, is offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the return of her brother’s collection of 280 vintage comics, including issues of Detective Comics, Batman, The Avengers and Captain America. Gail Munroe believes they were taken last month from her driveway as she was unloading her car; she briefly left the suitcase they were in unattended, but didn’t realize until days later that it was missing. She’s released a full list of the titles. [CBC News]
Conventions | Nick Vivarelli reports in from the Lucca (Italy) Comics and Games Festival, which with 254,000 attendees is the second-largest comic con in the world. [Variety]
Legal | The trial began Monday in San Diego for Matthew Pocci, the driver who plowed through a crowd of pedestrians, injuring one, last year at the annual ZombieWalk, held during Comic-Con International. He;s charged with felony reckless driving. Pocci, who’s deaf, said he was frightened by the crowd, but prosecutors say he was angry and impatient. New video shows the car moving through the crowd and running over one woman. [NBC San Diego]
Political cartoons | J.J. Sedelmaier shows off some political cartoons by Winsor McCay on the topic of Prohibition, taken from a compilation, Temperance—or Prohibition?, that Sedelmaier picked up in a used bookstore. [Paste]
Passings | Jay Scott Pike, well known for his work as a “good girl” artist, died Sept. 13 at age 91. He started out in 1949 at Hillman Comics, and then moved on to Marvel predecessor Atlas, working on action and romance comics, including Jann of the Jungle and Lorna the Jungle Girl. In the 1960s he moved to DC Comics, where he drew mostly romance comics but also created the character Dolphin, who’s resurfaced repeatedly over of the years. Historian Mark Evanier estimates that Pike drew at least 800 comics stories between 1949 and 1973. [News From ME]
With Labor Day behind us, for most folks it’s back to work. But by the time you read this I will be out of town, well into a two-day seminar. Naturally I take comics with me for the down time, and more often than not I take a couple of thick reprint books. Picking out specific volumes got me thinking about the changing nature of DC Comics’ reprints.
Now, I’ll try not to let this descend into some nostalgic pining, and I recognize that reprint formats aren’t the most exciting things. However, while today’s comics are available in print or digitally, and are collected routinely into more durable books, I’m not sure the older material is getting as much attention as it once did. To be certain, the older material is getting older all the time, with more added to it as the years go by; and modern audiences might well be satisfied with, say, just the past 20 years’ worth of DC’s output. Still, there’s value in those older stories, even if it’s just on an academic level; and I think it’s helpful to see how DC has treated it.
Thirty years ago, after almost a year of preliminaries, and longer than that in planning, DC Comics put an end to its infinite Multiverse. It happened as the final page of Crisis on Infinite Earths #10 — which hit the direct market during the first week of September 1985 — exploded into a cosmic whiteout, deliberately echoing the “destruction” of Earths-One and -Two in Issue 4. That cataclysm included (metaphorical?) black smoke billowing into panels and then dissipating into nothingness, but here the panels themselves shattered under the fury of the final battle between the omnipotent Spectre and the power-hoarding Anti-Monitor.
Issue 10 had a heck of a cliffhanger is what I’m saying.
The end of August also marks three full months worth of DC Comics’ line-wide relaunches. Naturally, the highest-profile of these are in the Superman titles, featuring a depowered and spiritually depantsed Man of Steel; and in the Bat-books, where a buff, mohawked James Gordon is the new Dark Knight. The two main Green Lantern books are also going through status quo upheavals, as Hal Jordan has gone off the reservation with a stolen power-ring prototype, while John Stewart, Guy Gardner and a handful of their colleagues have been hurled into parts unknown. (I’d say more, but it’d spoil the latest issue of Green Lantern: Lost Army.)
While I’m not exactly getting tired of these various plots, I am starting to wonder how long they can each be sustained. That, in turn, reminded me of similarly dramatic storylines that played out over much longer periods of time. I’ll be discussing a lot of storylines today, from the Silver Age to the present, and I’m sure I haven’t listed every possible one. (Spoilers: I won’t have time to get to a “dead and revived” list.) Some of these arcs were planned with endpoints, and some reverted to “normal” thanks to external factors. However, each tested the limits of readers’ tolerance for change.
Faced with an angry Superman, every Tom, Dick and Dark Knight knows to break out the Kryptonite (it’s usually next to the bandages and antiseptic in the first-aid kit). Likewise, if cornered by Electro, most of us might make sure we’re well-grounded, and then reach for the nearest water hose. But what about those myriad other superheroes and villains?
Glad you asked! MorphSuits, which ruffled so many feathers with its breakdown of Marvel’s most badass female characters, now scrutinizes the Achilles’ heels of costumed characters, probing for a weakness that might help out in a pinch.
Just four days before what would’ve been Jack Kirby’s 98th birthday, an exhibition opens today at California State University, Northridge that celebrates the artist’s legendary career.
Titled “Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic World of Jack Kirby,” the exhibit focuses largely on his later superhero and sci-fi work, from about 1965 on. “We call the show ‘Comic Book Apocalypse’ because when you’re dealing with Kirby, nothing less than the end of everything is at stake,” said curator Charles Hatfield, an English professor at CSUN and author of “Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby.”
Whether you call it “Divergence” or “DC You,” November represents the sixth month of DC Comics’ line-wide retooling. In just about three months it’ll be time to start taking stock of what worked and what didn’t, but for now we’re looking at what’s new and/or shiny.
THE 800-POUND GORILLA BOSS OF GOTHAM CITY
At the head of the line is a certain Bat-sequel. The hype surrounding Dark Knight III: The Master Race is understandable considering the shelf life of The Dark Knight Returns. It and its follow-up are two of DC’s most evergreen reprints, and DK3 will no doubt join them in the Valhalla of immortal collected editions.
As the fall premieres of DC’s various superhero television series tick closer, the updates dive deeper into comics lore. I certainly wasn’t expecting a “Flash of Two Worlds” homage (eee!) to be part of the marketing, nor did I think Matt Ryan’s John Constantine would himself cross over to Arrow. Otherwise, Arrow is teasing Oliver’s mayoral run; The Flash has cast Wally West; Supergirl promises Red Tornado and General Zod; and Legends of Tomorrow may take its tone from Justice League International.
However, for me the most intriguing news is the impending arrival of Hawkman. I’m curious about how Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Geoff Johns, et al., will try to make him appealing (or at least watchable) for the broader TV audience. I say that a bit skeptically, because Hawkman has never really done much for me.
When discussing Crisis on Infinite Earths #3, I noted the story’s “seams were starting to show.” A few months later, I thought Issue 6 was more concerned with “marketing.” Now, with Issue 9 — which appeared in comics shops 30 years ago, during the first week of August 1985 — not only has the miniseries burst its original boundaries, but the crossovers have become more pervasive.
Although the bulk of the issue involves the Villain War (as last issue’s cliffhanger language called it), it starts off by setting up crossovers with Green Lantern, New Teen Titans and Firestorm. It also features some clunky dialogue and name-checking cameos, which by now are as much a part of Crisis as the red skies were.
Still, even if Issue 9 is something of a rough-and-tumble indulgence amid the ongoing struggle to save all creation, it has its moments. Scenes of tragedy and triumph are executed fairly well, characters exit and enter the stage effectively, and the issue is propulsive enough to energize an otherwise weak cliffhanger.
Hello and welcome to Shelf Porn, the feature that takes you into the home of a fan without getting arrested. Today’s collection comes from David in San Antonio, who shares a space-faring collection that features Star Wars, Star Trek, Silver Surfer and more.
If you’d like to see your collection here, you can find instructions on how to submit it at the end of this post.
And now here’s David …