For the second year in a row, Jack Kirby’s youngest granddaughter Jillian is commemorating the legendary artist’s birthday by spearheading the Kirby4Heroes campaign to help creators in need.
On Aug. 28, what would have been Kirby’s 96th birthday, fans are asked to donate to The Hero Initiative, the only industry organization that provides financial assistance to creators who have fallen on hard times.
Some retailers have also pledged to donate a percentage of their profits on that day. Writing on Hero Complex, 17-year-old Jillian Kirby says some stores will host “birthday parties” for her grandfather and auction off original art to benefit The Hero Initiative. This year’s goal is $10,000, nearly double what was raised in 2012.
“I started the Kirby4Heroes campaign as a way to connect with my grandfather, who died the year before I was born,” Jillian writes. “I’ve grown so much closer to him through my endeavors in this area. I have to admit I’m astounded by him as an artist, family member and just a kind human being. Raising funds for those in the comic book industry in need of financial and medical assistance is a cause my grandfather Jack would have championed. He never turned his back on a person in need.”
Digital comics | Financial-services company The Motley Fool touches upon how digital has helped to boost the comics industry, rather than undermine print sales as some predicted it would. “Digital has not to anyone’s observation pirated the sales of comics. It looks like just the opposite,” writer and charts-watcher John Jackson Miller tells the website. And then, because it’s The Motley Fool, the story veers off into what investors can learn from digital comics — specifically, “three forces [that] conspired to transform digital from a threat into a catalyst”: quality, format and access. [The Motley Fool]
Creators | Brian K. Vaughan talks about producing the CBS sci-fi thriller Under the Dome and writing Saga as well as his digital comic The Private Eye. His take on Saga: “I definitely wanted to write about the experience of fatherhood and parenthood while also recognizing that’s extremely boring for most people. How do you talk about these mundane topics in an exciting way? Hopefully setting this story in a wacky sci-fi fantasy universe has given us room to tell this story with some visual spectacle and just Fiona Staples being awesome.” [USA Today]
Amid the flurry of news coming out of Comic-Con International in San Diego, digital-comics distributor comiXology announced this morning it has surpassed 180 million downloads worldwide. That’s just about nine months after the company hit the 100-million mark.
It’s been a year of growth for comiXology, which opened a Paris branch in January, leading to distribution agreements with French publishers Delcourt, Glénat and a dozen others. And just this week, the company announced a partnership with North American manga publisher Seven Seas.
However, it hasn’t all been about signing deals, as comiXology also launched the comiXology Submit self-publishing platform, as well as subscription and bundle features.
Hawkeye and Saga lead the ballot for the 2013 Harvey Awards, tying with nominations in seven categories, including best new series, best continuing series, best writer (for both Matt Fraction and Brian K. Vaughan) and best artist (for both David Aja and Fiona Staples).
ROBOT 6 was nominated for best biographic, historical or journalistic presentation, alongside Alter Ego Magazine, Jack Kirby Collector, Team Cul de Sac: Cartoonists Draw the Line at Parkinson’s and Marvel Comics: The Untold Story.
Named in honor of the late Harvey Kurtzman, the cartoonist and founding editor of MAD magazine, the awards are selected entirely by creators. Voting is open now through Aug. 19. The winners will be presented Sept. 7 during Baltimore Comic-Con.
The full list of nominees can be found below:
Zak Sally’s announcement that his latest Sammy the Mouse book is ready for purchase also includes some commentary about his experience with publishing the first book himself:
printing it was a nightmare. at the end of that process, i had to face the fact that the 5 months of frustration and banging my head against the wall of the “steep learning curve of being an offset printer” was all time taken away from the primary goal, which is MAKING the COMICS. and it was too much; both the time and the frustration.
This volume will be published by Uncivilized Books, which spares Sally the hassle of getting it printed while allowing him to sell it directly to consumers, which is the part he likes about self-publishing.
It’s a point that anyone considering funding their next book through Kickstarter would do well to consider. It has always seemed illogical to me to have every creator handling their own print run of 5,000 books individually — for one thing, not everyone is good at it, as Sally can attest. Beyond that, though, one of the most valuable functions a publisher can serve is streamlining the less creative parts of the process. Book production is a tricky business, and publishers have experienced people who know how to navigate the fairly technical process; a creator taking a book to the printer for the first time is likely to make mistakes and waste a lot of time. What’s more, an individual creator is never going to be able to negotiate a better price than a publisher who sends a continuous stream of business to the printer.
While many of us were enjoying our holiday, Comic-Con International organizers were busy releasing the programming schedule for Thursday, July 18, the first full day of the San Diego convention. The rundown for Friday, July 19 should come along early this afternoon.
As we’ve come to expect, Thursday’s lineup is a healthy mix of comics, television, toys, fantasy and film (although light on the latter, which take center stage on Friday and Saturday). The comics programming includes panels from Avatar Press, Bongo Comics (it’s the publisher’s 20th anniversary), BOOM! Studios, Dark Horse, DC Entertainment, Kodansha Comics, Marvel, Monkeybrain Comics (it’s that publisher’s first anniversary), TwoMorrows, Vertigo, Viz Media and Warp Comics.
However, that’s only for starters, as there are spotlights on Chris Samnee, Jeff Smith, J.H. Williams III, Dan Parent and Gary Frank, The Walking Dead‘s 10th-anniversary panel, and discussions about digital comics, gender in comics, LGBT webcomics and much, much more.
Check out some of the comics-related highlights below, and visit the Comic-Con website for the full schedule:
While the launch on Tuesday of Image Comics’ DRM-free digital comics storefront rightfully attracted a lot of attention, the bigger eye-opener may end up being some of the numbers behind that decision.
The publisher shared with Wired.com statistics — and charts! — that should go far to ease lingering concerns about piracy and digital’s “cannibalization” of print sales: As you can see above, digital sales accounted for 12 percent of Image’s overall revenue in 2012, a figure that’s expected to increase to 15 percent by the end of this year. Twenty-two percent of the sales of the bestselling Walking Dead comes from digital (presumably that’s monthly sales, although the article doesn’t specify). What’s more, “when measured solely against print comics sold in the direct market at comic book stores, digital makes up 27 percent of revenue.”
Publishing | What begins as a profile of Australian publisher Gestalt Comics dovetails into a brief snapshot of the country’s comics industry — or, perhaps, “industry.” “There are publishers like Milk Shadow Books and Black House Comics, I think we all help to create the impression of there being an Australian industry,” says Gestalt co-founder Wolfgang Bylsma, “but I don’t think we’re established enough to call it an industry yet. There are very few people who are working full time in comics in Australia.” [artsHub]
Creators | Jamie Hewlett chats about art, influences, Gorillaz and whether he might considering returning to comics: “Would I go back to doing comics? I dunno, maybe. It’s a lot of work drawing a comic. [Laughs.] And, you know, I did 10 years of drawing comics, and I really enjoyed it, but I’m kind of keen to try other things that I haven’t done. But I was talking with Alan [Martin] about the possibility of doing something in a comic form together. We haven’t agreed upon anything yet. It’s just a conversation. I’d love to work with Alan again. I really like Alan; he’s really cool.” [Consequence of Sound]
Publishing | ICv2 posts a three-part interview with IDW Publishing CEO Ted Adams that covers a multitude of subjects, including the company’s digital strategy, the Artists Editions, news that Scholastic has picked up its My Little Pony comics, and that the publisher’s book sales are up, even though Borders is gone: “The book market used to make me crazy on this returnable basis basically forever. That was never a sustainable business model. Where we are today is we are able to sell product in a reasonable way so that the bookstores get a chance to sell the product and we don’t get these giant returns. ” [ICv2]
Piracy | Earlier this year, the Chinese Internet company Tencent inked a deal with Shueisha, the publisher of Shonen Jump and thus the licensor of some of the most popular manga in the world. One consequence of this deal has just hit home with the Chinese reading public: Scanlations are disappearing from the web, and fans are not happy. [Kotaku]
If you weren’t fast, or lucky, enough to snag a badge for Comic-Con International within that glitched-filled 93-minute window in February, organizers are offering one last, and very slim, chance for you to go to the big show: a lottery.
Because of “the very limited number” of returned or canceled badges — no four-day but “several thousand” single-day passes, only 3,100 of which are for Saturday — aspiring attendees are asked to enter the Comic-Con Resale Drawing, which began Monday and will continue through 11 p.m. Wednesday. To participate, you must already have a Member ID; those who do should’ve already received an email detailing how to enter the lottery.
Comic-Con International is fast approaching, and so too is the deadline for online voting for the 2013 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards: It’s midnight Wednesday (June 12).
Among those eligible to vote — you can do so here — are comics creators (writers, artists, colorists and letterers), editors, publishers, retailers, graphic novel librarians and scholars, and all nominees.
And while we’re on the subject of Eisner voting, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that ROBOT 6 has been nominated in the Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism category. If you enjoy what we do, we’d certainly appreciate your vote.
Comic-Con International will be held July 18-21 in San Diego. The Eisner winners will be announced July 19 during the annual awards ceremony.
Comics | To mark the 75th anniversary of Superman, and the premiere this week of Warner Bros.’ Man of Steel, Edward Helmore of The Telegraph recounts the long and bitter legal feud between DC Comics and the families of creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster over the rights to to the multibillion-dollar property, a battle from which the publisher has seemingly emerged victorious. [The Telegraph]
Comics | The New York Post’s Reed Tucker has some ideas on how to “fix” comics, starting with cutting the cover price to increase sales. [Parallel Worlds]
Comics | With an exhibit of original art from Charles Schulz’s Peanuts opening in a local gallery last week, a local comic convention in the works, and a thriving comics retail scene all year round, South Florida could just be the next comics hotspot. [WLRN]
Publishing | Dave Itzkoff profiles Karen Berger, who stepped down in March after 20 years as executive editor of DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint (she still consults on a few projects). The story has a wistful tone, with Berger suggesting that DC is more interested in its company-owned characters and Co-Publisher Dan DiDio basically agreeing, but noting it’s an industry-wide trend. He said it would be “myopic” to believe “that servicing a very small slice of our audience is the way to go ahead,” adding, “That’s not what we’re in the business for. We have to shoot for the stars with whatever we’re doing. Because what we’re trying to do is reach the biggest audience and be as successful as possible.” [The New York Times]
I know I still get hammered via e-mail when I suggest something like, say, that there aren’t any superhero comics in any one of my year’s top ten, with a line of thinking that things should somehow be balanced between that particular form of expression and others. I kind of thought most fans were past this …
It wasn’t too many years ago that this definitely was an issue, at least for me. I thought of the stages in my comics life in terms of how much each involved superheroes. My childhood years were all about Harvey, Walt Disney and Looney Tunes until I discovered Marvel and DC and put away “childish things.” That lasted well into my 20s, until companies like Dark Horse and Vertigo opened the gate to other genres.
The New York Daily News casts a spotlight on Ray Felix, the small-press publisher who’s challenging the joint claim of DC Comics and Marvel to the “super hero” trademark, and comes away with some interesting details:
- The two publishers have prevented at least 35 people from using “super hero,” or some variation, since they were granted the mark in 1980 for toys and in 1981 for comic books. (You may remember that in 2004 GeekPunk changed the name of its series Super Hero Happy Hour to Hero Happy Hour following objections by DC and Marvel.)
- Although Felix admits he’s unlikely to win his case before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, a lawyer specializing in intellectual property tells the newspaper that Marvel and DC’s joint ownership “violates the basic tenet of trademark law.” “A trademark stands for a single source of origin, not two possible sources of origin,” Ron Coleman argues. “If the public understands that the word ‘superhero’ could come from A or B, then by definition that’s a word and not a trademark.”
- Even if the appeal board were to find in Felix’s favor, it would only mean he can retain his registration for his series A World Without Superheroes. Revocation of Marvel and DC’s trademark would require a costly civil lawsuit.
Felix’s dispute with the comics giants dates back to September 2010, when he received a cease-and-desist letter after registering a trademark for his series. Following more a year and a half of exchanges between Felix and the companies’ attorneys, DC Comics and Marvel Characters Inc. in March 2012 filed a formal opposition with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.