Major "Justice League" #50 Revelations, Changes Lead Into "DC Universe: Rebirth"
Comics | The comics industry has undergone seismic changes in the past few years, and Heidi MacDonald rounds up some recent comments from retailers and pundits about what they’re seeing. It’s a good read that leads to many other good reads, but here’s the takeaway: “ The real issue — one that many people in the industry may have trouble dealing with — is that the comics audience has changed. They didn’t get into comics during the first run of the Ultimate universe. They didn’t come in with the original 52 mini series or Final Crisis. They probably didn’t even start with the New 52. The methods and product mixes that were formulated to deal with a readership that grew up when comics were a niche product for nerds have to be reevaluated when new readers are coming in from the top properties in every form of entertainment, from graphic novels that they were taught in school, from webcomics, from creators with strong social media, from every which way. There is no well marked four lane highway to comics any more, just a delightful variety of roads, interstates and worn down dirt paths.” [The Beat]
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]
Digital comics | With Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto appearing this week at New York Comic Con, Viz Media is launching a dedicated Naruto app that will offer a chapter of the series every day for free (each chapter will be free for seven days). The app will sync with the VizManga digital comics platform, and users who buy one or more volumes of Naruto on either digital service this month will also get a bundle that includes the original pilot chapter Kishimoto created for the series, plus editors’ notes, chapter reviews and fan art. Viz is also offering discounts individual volumes throughout the month of October, with the first five volumes selling for $1.99 each. [Crunchyroll]
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]
The nominees have been announced for the 2015 Ignatz Awards, featuring a diverse lineup of creators that’s more than half women. The 2015 field is led by Sophia Foster-Dimino, Jillian Tamaki and Ethan Rilly, who received three noss each.
Presented annually at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland, the awards are named in honor of the brick-wielding mouse in George Herriman’s Krazy Kat strip, and recognize achievement in comics and cartooning. Nominees are selected by a panel of five cartoonists — this year it was Lamar Abrams, Cara Bean, Robyn Chapman, Sophie Goldstein and Corrine Mucha — and then voted on by SPX attendees.
With Jack Kirby’s birthday just 11 days away, his granddaughter Jillian has kicked off the fourth annual Kirby4Heroes campaign to help creators in need. Watch the launch video below.
In celebration of what would’ve been the comics legend’s 98th birthday, on Aug. 28 retailers across the country will throw “birthday parties,” and donate a portion of that day’s proceeds to The Hero Initiative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing a financial assistance to creators. Many artists also participate in Wake Up and Draw, in which they create illustrations in tribute to Kirby and then auction them later on eBay, with the money going to the nonprofit.
Citing a slumping Canadian dollar, venerable comics retailer Silver Snail will shutter its Ottawa store after more than 25 years in business. The flagship location in Toronto will remain open.
“With the economic downturn, this location was not receiving enough traffic to bolster the steadily flagging sales over the past few years, and we had to make the difficult decision to close its doors,” the retailer wrote Tuesday on its website. “We appreciate all of the hard work put in by the staff at our Ottawa location, and give thanks to the many loyal customers who have supported the Bank Street shop over the years.”
Manga | Tokyopop announced Thursday at Anime Expo that it will return to publishing new manga from Japan, and it has also acquired some anime licenses. In addition, it is launching an app, PopComics, that will allow users to upload and share their own comics. Tokoyopop was the largest manga publisher in the United States at the height of the manga boom, but it closed down its publishing program in 2011. In the past few years it has been making a slow-motion comeback, selling some of its properties as e-books and print-on-demand books and publishing three new volumes of Hetalia: Axis Powers. [Anime News Network]
Manga | Remember when Kadokawa published a manga based on the BBC’s popular Sherlock television series? Well, maybe not, because the manga hasn’t been licensed for English-language countries. But now the first volume has been translated: Kadokawa, the publisher of the original manga, has released a bilingual Japanese and English version of “A Study in Pink” intended for students of English. [Anime News Network]
Conventions | Attendance at ReedPOP’s second annual Special Edition: NYC, held June 6-7, reportedly increased 40 percent from the first year. [Publishers Weekly]
Conventions | Comic-Con International is seeking a new sponsor for Artists’ Alley after DeviantArt, the sponsor of the area for the past two years, withdrew support. In a letter sent Wednesday to exhibitors, organizers said they are seeking a new sponsor and remain committed to Artists’ Alley. Heidi MacDonald provides context, noting that the development comes amid ongoing fears about the future of Artists’ Alley, which occupies valuable floor space in an exhibition hall starving for more. [The Beat]
Political cartoons | Michael Cavna has issued an open for cartoonists to draw cartoons in support of imprisoned Iranian artist Atena Farghadani, and tweet them with the hashtag #Draw4Atena. Robert Rusell, executive director of Cartoonist Rights Network International, has written an open letter to the leaders of Iran asking them to intervene. [Comic Riffs]
The winners of the 2015 Doug Wright Awards, recognizing the best in English-language comics by Canadians, were presented Saturday in conjunction with the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. This year’s recipients were:
Best Book: Fatherland, by Nina Bunjevac
The Spotlight Award (aka “The Nipper”): Photobooth: A Biography, by Meags Fitzgerald
Pigskin Peters Awards (for experimental or avant-garde work): “Swinespritzen,” by Connor Willumsen
Following the announcement last month that it will begin accepting unsolicited submissions and pitches, Oni Press has released detailed guidelines that not only cover what to send, but also what not to.
Among the things to avoid, “Superheroes! They have their place but their place is not with us,” and “long-form series or stories in oversaturated genres such as supernatural noir, zombies, vampires and gritty detectives with a dark past.” Also, “delicate subjects such as rape and sexual abuse as fodder for exposition in genre stories.”
Oni’s submission periods will operate on a two-months open, two-months closed schedule, with the first window opening from May 1 to June 30.
“Over the years, when he heard somebody liked other artists more than his work, he was really non-competitive. The thing, though, that I think a lot of people never got about Jack was that Jack wasn’t really competitive with most other comic book artists, because in his mind, they had a different job description. When John Buscema sat down to draw an issue of Fantastic Four — and, actually, nothing I’m about to say is knocking John Buscema in any way, or any of the artists I’m going to mention here — his goal was to do an issue of the Fantastic Four. When Jack sat down to do an issue of Fantastic Four, in his mind his job description was to create a new universe, three spinoffs and take comics to another level.”
Note: The original version of this post misattributed the comment. It’s been edited to correct that, and to provide a fuller quote.
Following in the footsteps of Mark Hamill, Gotham star Robin Lord Taylor throws his weight behind Free Comic Book Day, playing up both the in-store events and the books as inspiration for many popular adaptations.
“So many movies and TV shows are based on comic books,” says the actor, who plays Oswald Cobblepot on the Fox drama, “so you can go and, like, find out where all these amazing characters came from … I would know.”
Passings | Manga creator Cocoa Fujiwara died March 31 at age 31. Fujiwara’s Inu x Boku SS, a story about humans with yokai blood who live together in a special apartment building, with some serving as bodyguards for others, is being published by Yen Press and has been made into an anime. Her first manga, a short story titled “Calling,” was published when she was just 15, and she chose not to go to high school in order to pursue a career as an artist. Her current series, Katsute Mahō Shōjo to Aku wa Tekitai Shiteita, runs in Square Enix’s Gangan Joker magazine, as did Inu x Boku SS. [Anime News Network]