"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
In case his appearance in a half-dozen monthly titles and the upcoming films weren’t enough for die-hard fans, there’s always that massive Wolverine: The Adamantium Collection hardcover Marvel announced in December. Just how massive? Feast your eyes on the first images of the book, and pity poor editor Sana Amanat (above).
Weighing in at a whopping 16 pounds, the foot-tall collection is big enough to kill a fully grown man or, when stood open, to serve as shelter for a child. It apparently marks the debut of the “all-new Mighty Marvel Format,” which suggests completists may want to invest now in larger, reinforced shelves. Preferably, adamantium.
I haven’t seen an official announcement of this yet, but several bloggers have picked up that the info for DC’s Before Watchmen trades is up on Amazon. I first saw this at Chris Marshall’s DGTL Comics. All four books are scheduled for July 2013 release, one each week (so, right around Comic-Con). Here’s what they are listing:
Before Watchmen, Vol. 1, by Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner, collects Before Watchmen: Minutemen (1-6) and Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre (1-4).
Before Watchmen, Vol. 2, by Brian Azzarello, J.G. Jones and Lee Bermejo, collects Before Watchmen: Comedian (1-6) and Before Watchmen: Rorschach (1-4)
Before Watchmen, Vol. 3, by J. Michael Straczynski, Adam Hughes and Joe Kubert, collects Before Watchmen: Nite Owl (1-4) and Before Watchmen: Manhattan (1-4)
Before Watchmen, Vol. 4, by Len Wein, Jae Lee and John Higgins, collects Before Watchmen: Ozymandias (1-6).
All four books are more than 250 pages, and Amazon lists the price at $29.99 each. Marshall notes there is also a Deluxe Edition of the original Watchmen that’s due out in June.
In September, DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio told MTV Geek that there would be collected editions of Before Watchmen that “will sit side by side with the Watchmen books.” He also hinted that sales of the trades would determine whether there would be more Before Watchmen comics in the future.
Taking a page from DC Comics’ New 52 playbook, Marvel will collect all of the first issues from its Marvel NOW! initiative in a 688-page oversized hardcover omnibus edition, Publishers Weekly reports. Arriving in June, the $99.99 volume will feature a cover by Joe Quesada.
Announced in July, Marvel NOW! was billed as an easy entry point into the Marvel Universe with a rollout of new or relaunched series that began in October with Uncanny Avengers and continues through February with titles like Uncanny X-Men, Nova and Fearless Defenders. The omnibus will collect more than 30 issues.
Buoyed by Marvel NOW!, the publisher led the direct market in both dollar and unit amounts in November, and claimed eight of the Top 10 spots on the Diamond Comic Distributors sales chart. All-New X-Men #1 took the top spot, with the debuts of Captain America, Deadpool, Indestructible Hulk, Iron Man, Fantastic Four and Thor: God of Thunder, and the second issue of Uncanny Avengers crowding out most of the competition.
Read the solicitation text for the Marvel NOW! Omnibus below:
Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran are working together on a new graphic novel for Dark Horse, the artist revealed in a weekend blog post discussing technique. The two last collaborated on The Sandman #34, published in 1992.
“My pencil technique is exactly the opposite of what they teach now in art school,” Doran wrote. “I do not use the side of the pencil, or graphite. I use the sharp tip of the pencil, and build up everything from hundreds of strokes. This is the way old masters drew back in the day with silverpoint. It’s a look I love, but almost no one does it because it is so laborious. The popular prejudice is for the 1950-ish commercial art drawing style. I like that, but it’s not what I want to do myself. I am using this technique on the new Neil Gaiman graphic novel I am doing for Dark Horse. You can imagine how happy I am to be doing this project! The drawings will then be colored with thin washes of watercolor, digitally, or both.”
Gaiman has a rapidly expanding workload, having signed a five-book deal in July in HarperCollin’s Children Books, an announcement that was soon followed by news of a Sandman prequel miniseries. Doran, the veteran creator of A Distant Soil, most recently collaborated with Barry Lyga on Mangaman, from Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, and with Derek McCulloch and Jose Villarrubia on Gone to Amerikay, from Vertigo.
DC Entertainment will release a slipcase edition of Sandman this November, collecting all 10 volumes of the landmark series by Neil Gaiman and friends. The slipcase will retail for $199, which is about what you’d pay if you bought all the books by themselves at full price. Amazon has it available for pre-ordering for $
125. (Update: the price went up today to $179).
According to Gaiman, the collections are recolored, using the recolored Absolute Edition pages of the first few books.
Publishing | Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson talks about the ups and downs of the past year, including getting Todd MacFarlane’s Spawn on a tighter schedule and the difficulties of selling all-ages comics: “There’s this really blinkered mentality in comics that “all-ages” means only for kids, despite the relatively easy to understand implication that all-ages books can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Diamond even has this graphic they use for all-ages comics in Previews and it’s these two children that look like toddlers or whatever. People seem to miss the point that most the comics we love from the ‘60s or ‘70s or even the ‘80s to a large degree, were all-ages comics. Stan & Jack’s Fantastic Four was an all-ages book. And it was brilliant.” [Multiversity Comics]
Digital | Viz Media, the largest manga publisher in the United States, began releasing its graphic novels on Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet and Nook Color devices today. As on the Viz iOS app and website, the manga are priced from $4.99 to $9.99 per volume, and they read from right to left, in authentic Japanese fashion. 107 volumes from 18 series are available at launch, although the selection skews a bit older than what’s available on the iOS app, with no sign of the Shonen Jump blockbusters Naruto, Bleach, or One Piece, at least in the initial announcement. [press release]
According to Bleeding Cool, about a month ago the publisher issued an updated payment agreement that finally addressed digital sales while also amending the percentage of trade paperbacks exempt from royalties because of “returns, anticipated returns, promotional copies and damages.” What used to be 25 percent is now 30 percent, which the more math-minded note is a nearly 7-percent hit to creators.
Rich Johnston describes the exemption clause as “ambiguous,” something expanded upon by Graeme McMillan, who points out that Marvel doesn’t actually offer promotional copies to reviewers like DC Comics and most other publishers do.
One of the few certainties of comics blogging is that any reaction to news of a major archival collection from Fantagraphics Books — say, the Mickey Mouse strips of Floyd Gottfredson or, just this week, the complete Donald Duck stories of Carl Barks — will include a chorus of “I’m still waiting on Pogo.” That’s a reference, of course, to the planned 12-volume collection of The Complete Pogo Daily & Sunday Comics Strips by Walt Kelly, announced in February 2007. Although the series was set to debut in October of that year, to date no volumes have been released.
But the publisher promises that’s about to change. “[A] new year is upon and it’s time to ‘fess up about all the late Fantagraphics titles you were expecting to have by now, and don’t, because we suck,” Co-Publisher Kim Thompson writes on the company’s blog. “Specific apologia and weaseling have been added to some titles, others we just pass under mortified silence. 2011 will be better!”
He follows that admission with updates on some 22 titles, including the first volume of The Complete Pogo, which is now set for release this fall. “Yes, seriously, for real this time,” Thompson writes. He also previews the cover for that first collection, which you can see above.
The Comics Reporter’s Tom Spurgeon breaks the welcome news that Barnaby, the classic comic strip by Harold and the Purple Crayon writer/artist Crockett Johnson, will be collected by Fantagraphics beginning in April 2012. Designed by Wilson and Ghost World cartoonist Daniel Clowes, the collections will include the strip’s entire ten-year run from 1942-1952, including the strips created by Jack Morley and Ted Ferro after Johnson assumed a story-consultant role on the comic.
Long beloved by the comics cognoscenti, Barnaby tells the tale of young Barnaby Baxter and his cigar-chomping fairy godfather, Mr. O’Malley. As Spurgeon notes, old collections like the one pictured above have been hard to come by, making the strip one of the last great gets available in this, the Golden Age of Comics Reprints — which Fantagraphics arguably kicked off with its similar, Seth-designed Complete Peanuts collections. Barnaby joins Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse and George Herriman’s Krazy Kat dailies on the list of eagerly awaited archival reprint projects headed our way from the publisher over the next several years. (As an aside, my suspicion is that Johnson’s fine line, the whimsy of the material, the rounded and jolly character designs, and even the typeset lettering will all find a receptive audience in the webcomics age.)
Click here to read Spurgeon’s thorough report on the announcement and the strip itself.
A quick round-up of Comic-Con updates, additional announcements and interesting links:
• Warner Bros. Animation officially announced a DC Universe Original Movie based on All-Star Superman, the award-winning series by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. The direct-to-DVD animated feature, set for release in spring 2011, is written by Dwayne McDuffie, who calls the series “one of the greatest stories in comic book history.”
• ICv2.com has additional details about one of the more interesting announcements from the convention, Fantagraphics’ partnership with Disney to publish the complete Mickey Mouse comic strips by Floyd Gottfredson. The collections will be released beginning in May at a rate of two volumes a year. They will retail for $29.99.
• Tom Spurgeon rounds up the selections from the Thursday panel “The Best and Worst of Manga 2010.”
• I enjoyed Todd VanDerWerff’s coverage of Comic-Con for The A.V. Club, including his visit to Artists’ Alley, and this broader post in which he questions whether the convention is “worth serious news coverage.”
• In the midst of Comic-Con, the Los Angeles Times rolled out a look at digital comics and their potential impact on the industry. “Comic book stores have a very close relationship with their customers,” says author and critic Douglas Wolk. “But the old-school collectors are aging, and it may be that the print comic goes away eventually. There is an entire generation of readers who is not interested in physical copies.”
• Grant Morrison chats briefly with IGN.com about his newly announced series Batman Inc.
• Is it just me, or are the round-ups of convention “winners and losers” pretty much meaningless? I’m sure Snakes on a Plane was declared a “winner” of whichever Comic-Con it was promoted — 2006, maybe? — and we all know how that played out.
Fantagraphics Books announced this afternoon from Comic-Con International, via Twitter, that it has partnered with Disney to publish the complete Mickey Mouse comic strips by Floyd Gottfredson, the cartoonist renowned for his defining work on the character. He is to Mickey Mouse comics what Carl Barks is to Donald Duck comics.
Gottfredson was 24 years old when he was assigned to the fledgling Mickey Mouse strip in 1930, and continued to work on it for the next 45 years. During his long tenure, he introduced such characters as the miserly Eli Squinch, Mickey’s nephews Morty and Ferdie Fieldmouse, Chief O’Hara and the Phantom Blot. Gottfredson retired in 1975, and passed away in 1986 at age 81.
Fantagraphics will begin releasing the collections in May 2011. No other details were announced.
Update: Douglas Wolk speaks briefly to Fantagraphics Publisher Gary Groth about the reprints.
Legal | In what could be a prelude to a courtroom battle with the heirs of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel, Jeff Trexler reports that Warner Bros. has replaced its outside counsel with superstar attorney Daniel Petrocelli.
A partner in the Los Angeles law firm O’Melveny and Myers, Petrocelli is best known for representing Fred Goldman, father of murder victim Ronald Goldman, in a wrongful-death lawsuit against O.J. Simpson. Petrocelli also successfully defended The Walt Disney Co. in a lengthy battle over merchandising royalties from Winnie-the-Pooh.
The Siegel family, of course, has its own superstar attorney: intellectual-property lawyer Marc Toberoff, who also represents the children of Jack Kirby in their bid to reclaim their father’s copyrights to characters he created for Marvel. [Blog@Newsarama]
Legal | A proposed amendment to Tokyo’s regional laws designed to ban the sale of loli material to minors uses such vague and sweeping language that the effects could be far-reaching. [Sankaku Complex, Icarus Publishing]
Zuda cartoonists Johnny Zito and Tony Trov emailed me yesterday to let me (and presumably, everyone else) know that they recently donated their entire comic book collections to RiF, better known as Reading is Fundamental. “That’s how committed to the digital revolution we are,” Zito wrote.
Zito added that the roughly 10,000 comics they donated to the organization’s after school programs around the country. “This promotes literacy and hopefully expands the comic book reading audience to a new generation,” he said.
The really good news is that RiF will be accepting donations for the rest of the school year and possibly onward as Zito and Trov look to make this a permanent operation. In the meantime, interested parties can send their comic book donations to:
RiF Comic Book Donation Drive
St. Aloysius Education Clinic
219 West 132nd Street
New York, NY 10027
So if you got an underread (and age-appropriate) graphic novel gathering dust on your shelves, now you know where to send it to.
The University of Western Ontario received an early present this holiday season — comics collector and retired college professor Eddy Smet is in the process of giving them “what is believed to be the largest and most valuable collection of comic books ever donated to a Canadian university,” the school’s newspaper reports.
Smet is donating “a significant portion” of his 10,000-plus, single-issue and original graphic novel collection to Western Archives, the archival research department of Western Libraries. The collection includes comics from the 1970s and 1980s, including complete runs of Miracleman, Watchmen and Swamp Thing, as well as the first 14 issues of Captain Canuck, “arguably Canada’s most popular and important superhero comic,” the paper says.
“It’s like cutting off my own arms because I’ve been collecting for more than 40 years, but I know giving my collection to a place like Western will provide a wonderful resource for students and faculty who are studying pop culture, visual arts or even women’s studies,” Smet said.
Terry Moore has teamed up with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab on a limited edition “lettered” version of the Strangers in Paradise Omnibus. Now I know some smart ass out there (other than me) is thinking: “Aren’t all comic books lettered? How else would we read them?” In this case, lettered means it’s limited to 26 copies — A through Z — and it includes the following:
All sets can be available for pick up at Comic-Con in San Diego, or will be mailed in the first week of August … except for the “A” edition, which is up on eBay right now. The auction, which is currently over $1,000, ends tomorrow. The set costs $500 on the CBLDF site.