Publishing| Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso talks about bringing more Latino characters — and more diversity in general — to the Marvel lineup: “People out there reading our comic books are of all sizes, creeds and colors and it’s our responsibility to make them feel included. This isn’t some PC initiative, this is capitalism. This is about supply and demand.” [Fox News Latino]
Creators | Grant Morrison discusses winding up his run on Action Comics: “Symbolically I’m not a big fan of dealing with politics in superhero comics because I think it diminishes both sides of the argument, but I do have my own take on things. I’ve got my own politics and so they do tend to find their way in. And really for me, its more symbolic, the way story winds up to tackle all those issues and looks at them through the perspective of Superman and Red Kryptonite and weirdness. So it’s gone underground. I think the early Superman was very much more aligned with the anti-establishment, anti-authoritarian current, because I think when Superman started out that he was what entered into.” [Comics Alliance]
“I don’t think Marvel or DC are racist, systemically, nor do I think that anyone there is, either. I am friends with lots of people at both companies and to a person, they’re terrific. Ultimately, people will hire the people that they know and in order to get to know them, you need access to them. I got my access through my day job as a magazine editor in Manhattan. Plus, I’m a dazzling urbanite. But if you’re a black kid living in Detroit or Tampa or Oakland, how do you get that access? How do you know which convention is the best for meeting editors? How do you know which bar to go to?
More importantly, if you’re that black kid (or Hispanic kid or woman of any color) why do you even want to make comics? The end product of decades of stories not told for a diverse audience is this: if the stories are not for you, you won’t read them; and if you don’t read them, why would you want to make them?”
– Marc Bernardin, who has written such comics as Static Shock,
The Authority and Wolverine, reflecting on the current discussion about the lack of black writers at Marvel and DC
Organizers of STAPLE! The Independent Media Expo have provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive first look at the details for their ninth annual event, held March 2-3 at the Marchesa Hall & Theater in Austin, Texas. Billed as the premier indie-comics convention in the Southwest, STAPLE! showcases a range of performers, exhibitors and artists, with an emphasis this year on independent table-top gaming, web TV, animation and pop-culture podcasting.
The announced panelists are: comics creators James O’Barr, Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson; veteran game designers Jason Morningstar, Jeff Dee and Marc Majcher; web TV icons Danni Danger, Sara Reihani and Jessica Mills; animators Dax Norman, Kyle Sullivan, Bill Byrne and Mongrel Studio Productions; and podcasters Geek Bombast, Chris Cox, Martin Thomas, The League of Extremely Ordinary Gentlemen and The Random Access Web TV Podcast. See the panelist biographies below. A full list of exhibitors can be found on the STAPLE! website.
The event, and its official “Live Art Show” after-party, also will feature performances by the macabre musical troupe After Midnight, nerdcore hip-hop artist Bad Barry, DJ LD and chiptune artist Run/DMG.
Two-day passes can be purchased for $15 from the Marchesa Hall & Theater website, or at the door.
Publishing | Radical Studios has secured $3 million in its first round of fundraising to further develop its catalog, expanding its digital publishing efforts and licensing capabilities. The publisher, which ultimately hopes to raise $9.5 million, has two comic-book adaptations in development at major studios: Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise, at Universal Pictures, and Hercules: The Thracian Wars, starring Dwayne Johnson, at Universal Pictures. [Variety]
Retailing | Dave and Adam’s Card World, billed as the largest online seller of baseball cards, has branched out, with an eye toward becoming the largest online seller of vintage comic books by 2014. “We were somewhat shocked and surprised that vintage comic books are more popular than vintage baseball cards. As a card collector, that just hurts,” c0-founder and CEO Adam Martin joked. [Lockport Union-Sun & Journal]
“This is the first week of Black History Month, a four-week celebration and remembrance of the significant events and people of the African diaspora. For many, myself included, it’s a month to reflect on where we’ve been, as a people and as a nation, and to contemplate exactly where it is we’re going. In terms of the comic book industry, an obvious interest and passion of mine, there is one glaring and sobering fact that needs our attention: There is currently not a single black writer working on a monthly series for either of the two biggest comic book publishers in the United States, and precious few working for any of the others.”
– Joe Hughes of ComicsAlliance, delivering an eye-opening assessment of the lack of black writers at DC Comics and Marvel
Comic Book Resources columnist Hannibal Tabu points out that Marvel hasn’t had a black writer since Reginald Hudlin’s tenure ended on Black Panther in 2009. What’s more, “With Dark Horse Presents, Dark Horse has paid more black people in comics in the last year or so than DC and Marvel have done in many, many years.”
As online voting opens for the 2013 Will Eisner Comic Awards Hall of Fame, the judges have selected late Golden Age artist Mort Meskin (Vigilante, Wildcat) and late underground cartoonist Spain Rodriguez (Trashman) for automatic induction.
In addition, they’ve named 13 nominees, from which voters will select four to be inducted in July during Comic-Con International. The nominees are:
- Marjorie Henderson Buell (aka Marge), late creator of Little Lulu
- Howard Cruse, creator of the acclaimed Stuck Rubber Baby
- Lee Falk, late creator of The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician
- Bud Fisher, late creator of the pioneering daily strip Mutt and Jeff
- Bill Griffth, creator of Zippy
- Al Jaffee, longtime Mad Magazine contributor famed for the “Mad Fold-in”
- Jesse Marsh,late Golden Age artist known for his work on the Tarzan and Gene Autry comic books
- Tarpé Mills (aka June Mills), late Golden Age artist best known for Miss Fury, the first female action hero created by a woman
- Thomas Nast, 19th-century caricaturist and editorial cartoonist known as “the Father of the American Cartoon”
- Gary Panter, acclaimed illustrator, painter and creator of Jimbo
- Trina Robbins, influential underground comics writer/artist and co-creator of Vampirella
- Joe Sinnott, veteran inker who worked on virtually every Marvel title during his 60 years working for the publisher
- Jacques Tardi, acclaimed writer and artist, and creator of Adèle Blanc-Sec
To vote, you must be a professional working gin the comics or related industries as a creator, a publisher, an editor, a comics store owner or manager, a graphic novels librarian, or a comics historian/educator. Eligible voters can visit EisnerVote.com to select up to four names for the Hall of Fame. The voting deadline is March 4.
Manga | The Japanese market research firm Oricon reports sales of manga volumes (tankobon) slipped 1.5 percent last year, to about $2.886 billion, the first decline since the company began reporting the figures in 2009. [Anime News Network]
Graphic novels | The Scottish Archaeological Research Project has put together a rather lively looking graphic novel about the history of Scotland, including such little-known events as the Storegga Tsunami. [BBC News]
Manga | Someone with a sharp eye spotted a manga license that hasn’t been officially announced: Kodansha Comics will publish Sherlock Bones, a series about a crime-solving boy and a talking dog, by Shin Kobayishi (Drops of God, Kindaichi Case Files) and Yuki Sato (Yokai Doctor). [allfiction]
In an interview with Crisp Comics, Ray Felix of Cup O’ Java Studio Comix recounts receiving a cease-and-desist letter in September 2010 after he registered a trademark for his comic series A World Without Superheroes. 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, which decides certain cases involving trademarks.
Their original registration for “super hero” and “super heroes,” which received widespread attention when it was renewed in 2006, covers a range of products, from comic books and playing cards to pencil sharpeners and glue. However, Felix argues DC and Marvel have overstepped the bounds of their trademark.
Festivals | The Angoulême International Comics Festival has opened in Angoulême, France, and that’s where all the cool kids are. Bart Beaty surveys the scene for the rest of us; the president of this year’s show is Jean-C Denis (last year it was Art Spiegelman), and there will be an exhibit of his work, but Beaty says the big draw will be the exhibit of work by Albert Uderzo, co-creator of Asterix. [The Comics Reporter]
Editorial cartoons | Rupert Murdoch has apologized, on Twitter, for an editorial cartoon by Gerald Scarfe in the Sunday Times that depicted Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu bricking Palestinians into a wall with blood-red mortar. Many commentators were concerned that the cartoon, which Scarfe intended as a commentary on the recent elections in Israel, came too close to old anti-Semitic blood libel. Making things worse, the cartoon was published on Holocaust Memorial Day. [The Guardian]
Ed Kramer’s extradition to Georgia last week on child-molestation charges dating back to 2000 has again cast a spotlight on his relationship with DragonCon, the Atlanta convention he helped found nearly 26 years ago.
The 51-year-old Kramer hasn’t been directly associated with the event since his arrest in August 2000 on charges of sexually abusing two teenage boys. However, he continues to receive annual dividends from DragonCon — $154,000 for 2011 alone, according to Atlanta Magazine — after attempts to buy out Kramer’s stake in the for-profit corporation proved unsuccessful. The litigious Kramer has filed two lawsuits against co-founder Pat Henry and DragonCon/ACE Inc.
But horror author Nancy A. Collins, who was among the first to speak out against Kramer, contends DragonCon organizers haven’t done enough to extricate themselves from its co-founder. And so in a proposal circulated Monday by Stephen Bissette, the former Swamp Thing writer calls for professionals to boycott the convention in an effort “to cut off the flow of money” to Kramer, “who has been using the 150K+ a year he receives each year from DragonCon to avoid trial and manipulate the justice system.”
Business | In a surprise announcement, Kevin Tsujihara was announced Monday to succeed Barry Meyer as CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment, the parent company of DC Entertainment. The 48-year-old Tsujihara, who has been with Warner Bros. since 1994, was named in 2005 as president of the Home Entertainment Group, overseeing the company’s home video, digital distribution, video games, anti-piracy and emerging technology operations. He was chosen as CEO over Bruce Rosenbaum, president of Warner Bros. Television, and Jeff Robinov, president of Warner Bros. Pictures (under which DC Entertainment is placed in the corporate structure). [The Hollywood Reporter]
ComiXology is expanding its reach with a new Paris-based division devoted to “spearheading the acquisition of international language content across the European continent.” Staff from comiXology Europe and the U.S. branch will have a presence this week at the Angoulême International Comics Festival, the second-largest comic-book festival in the world.
“ComiXology has already proven to be enormously popular with consumers in many countries around the world – and that’s just in English,” comiXology co-founder CEO David Steinberger said in a statement. “With comiXology Europe, comiXology takes the first step in becoming the platform for multi-language graphic literature from all over the world.”
It’s been an eventful few months for the digital-comics platform, which was the third-highest grossing iPad app of 2012, up from No. 10 the previous year. In December alone, comiXology launched a continuous-bookmarking feature, signed distribution deals with Andresw McMeel Publishing and Mark Waid’s Thrillbent, and rolled out comiXology Submit. In October, the company surpassed 100 million downloads, with more of than 50 million occurring in 2012.
Creators | Artist J.K. Woodward (Fallen Angel, Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who) recounts how he and his wife lost everything but their cat and the clothes they were wearing during Hurricane Sandy — and how what happened afterward changed his perspective: ““When things are going right, you really don’t know what kind of world you’re living in. You tend to be cynical. But there has been such an outpouring of support not just here but from the comics community — we did a podcast interview, for example, and I mentioned how we had to go to the laundromat every day because of our clothing situation. As a result of that, two days later I went to my studio was packed full of care packages with toiletries and other necessities. It showed that what should have been a real tragedy turned into a blessing. It gave me a much more positive outlook.” [The Conway Daily Sun]
ComicsPRO, the trade organization for comics retailers, has announced the nominees for its fourth annual Industry Appreciation Awards recognizing those who make the direct market “more successful for all of us.”
The awards are divided into two categories, one for professionals still active in the industry, and a Memorial Award for those who have passed away. The nominees are:
Industry Appreciation Award
- Scott Dunbier, senior editor of special projects at IDW Publishing
- Cindy Fournier, vice president of operations for Diamond Comic Distributors
- David Gabriel, senior vice president of sales and circulation for Marvel
- Bill Schanes, vice president of purchasing for Diamond Comic Distributors
- Eric Stephenson, publisher of Image Comics
Creators | Colorist Jordie Bellaire launches a protest against a convention that refuses to include colorists as guests. “Your one sentence, ‘this is not a colorists thing,’ was surely the most pigheaded and dismissive thing I’ve been told since I began professional coloring,” she writes, and then goes on to point out all the things colorists do to make comics great and make a forceful argument for including them (as many major cons already do). In a later post she explains why she won’t name the convention. [Jordie Colors Things]
Graphic novels | A study soon to be released by a University of Oklahoma researcher shows that students who read a textbook in graphic novel form retained more than those who read a straight prose textbook. [The Oklahoman]