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Spring 1992’s Batman #475 may not be all that important in the Dark Knight’s history, but it was a pretty pivotal issue in my own history with comics. It wasn’t just the first time I bought a Batman comic — beginning a growing interest in superhero comics that has yet to subside — but it was also the first time I encountered the work of artist Norm Breyfogle.
It was his incredible artwork that convinced me to purchase that issue over all of the other Batman comics on the stands and in the beat-up boxes of my local comic shop, and that fueled my many return visits, to buy new Breyfogle-drawn Batman comics as they arrived and dig out the dozens of earlier ones from the back-issue bins.
At the time, comics cost just $1 — a quarter of what the average issue costs today — but I was 14 years old, so my only income came from allowance, birthday and Christmas gifts, and what my grandfather paid me to mow his lawn. Comics were to me then, as they are now, a luxury purchase of sorts, something one spent one’s extra money on. As adults, that means they’re what we buy after we’ve paid the rent and utilities, bought groceries and filled up the gas tank.
St. Louis comic store Star Clipper is closing its doors after 27 years.
Owners Ben and A.J. Trujillo, who bought the shop in 2001, delivered the news to customers in a message sent this morning.
“The personal and professional experience of managing Star Clipper has been the most important of our lives,” the wrote. “We were lucky to inherit the legacy from wise people ahead of their time, grow with the medium, and love the job. But the time has come to bring Star Clipper to a natural conclusion.”
In an interview with St. Louis Magazine, Ben Trujillo pointed to a number of factors in the store’s closing.
Tentative categories — they may be altered at the discretion of the judges — are: best short story, best single issue, best continuing series, best limited series, best new series, best publications for kids and teens, best humor publication, best anthology, best digital comic, best graphic album–new material, best graphic album–reprint, best reality-based work, best adaptation from another medium, best archival collection, best U.S. edition of foreign material, best writer, best writer/artist, best penciler/inker (individual or team), best painter (interior art), best lettering, best coloring, best comics-related book, best scholarly/academic work, best comics journalism periodical or website, and best publication design.
Publishers who wish to submit entries must send one copy each of the comics or graphic novels, along with a cover letter that includes what’s being nominated, and in what categories, and the names of the creators. Creators may submit works for consideration if their publisher is no longer in business or is unlikely to submit nominations itself.
Entries should be mailed to: Jackie Estrada, Eisner Awards Administrator, Comic-Con International, P.O. Box 128458, San Diego, CA 92112. Submissions for the best digital comic category can be emailed to Estrada. The full list of nominees will be announced in April.
Additional details can be found on the Eisner Awards website.
It’s deja vu all over again for the Diamond Gem Awards: Voted on by comics retailers, the winners this year look a lot like the 2013 lineup, with Image Comics and BOOM! Studios once again taking honors as top publishers in their divisions. Marvel was named top dollar publisher, DC Comics as top backlist publisher and Viz Media as top manga publisher — just like in 2012 and 2013.
The first issue of the widely acclaimed Ms. Marvel was honored as comic book of the year in the under $3 division, and Thor #1 was the choice among pricier comics. The Amazing Spider-Man #1 brought in the most dollars, however. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was named the best all-ages comic of the year, Batman: Earth One took the honors as best original graphic novel, and Box Brown’s Andre the Giant was the best indie comic.
In terms of who got what, DC Comics won seven awards, Marvel won six and Dark Horse won three, including best anthology for Dark Horse Presents, another three-peat.
Here’s the full list of winners:
Publishing | In a three-part interview, First Second Books Editorial Director Mark Siegel talks about 2014, the upcoming year, and the emergence of a “new mainstream.” In Part 1 he discusses the 2014 releases and ends with some numbers (print runs rather than sales); the imprint’s top books are Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl and Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer, both of which have 30,000 copies in print. In Part 2 he looks at the importance of the library market and support from librarians, especially for children and teens, as well as the emergence of a new category of graphic novels that he calls “new mainstream.” Part 3 focuses on First Second’s planned releases for 2015, including Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor, which will have a print run of 100,000. [ICv2]
Analysis | Rob Salkowitz kicks off the new year with big-picture questions about “geek culture”: With the popularity of comics-based movies, will continuity and nostalgia become less important? And will comics themselves become less important? “Putting out comics is a relatively costly and troublesome process with limited revenue potential relative to other ways of exploiting the intellectual property. A fan base that buys licensed merchandise and watches entertainment programming without needing a monthly fix of new art and story is probably considered a feature of the new comics economy, not a bug.” [ICv2]
Creators | Chew artist Rob Guillory, who will appear this weekend at Wizard World New Orleans, talks about the strange comics that he read as a kid (The Adventures of Kool-Aid Man) and the unexpected success of Chew, which will end next year with its 60th issue: “In the beginning, John and I were kind of like, ‘Well, best-case scenario, we can go 60 issues. Worst-case scenario, we can do five and go our separate ways and never speak again.’ I don’t know if we’ve seen the peak of our reception. I don’t think we’ll see how popular we’ve been until it’s over. When it’s wrapped and it’s the complete thing, I think people will start missing us.” [Best of New Orleans]
Conventions | Vendors who paid the $60 deposit to exhibit at Cherry City Comic Con are clamoring for a refund after word circulated that the Salem, Oregon, convention won’t happen this spring as planned. (There appears to have been some discussion about the con being canceled on Facebook, but the convention’s Facebook page now states, “A marketing solutions company is helping us start the new year right and get us back on track to make this a successful show everyone can love.” No other posts appear on the page.) This isn’t the first round of controversy for the con: Last May, organizer Mike Martin called an exhibitor “batshit insane” on Facebook when she asked for a refund and expressed concern that the con would not be a “safe place for female cosplayers.” Martin is also the organizer of a craft fair that was canceled; some exhibitors for that event were denied refunds because of “a locked PayPal account.” [KOIN]
Publishing | Abraham Riesman looks at the revival of Valiant, which was once the third-largest comics publisher in the United States and now, under new management, aspires to reclaim that position. The article covers the rise and fall of the original company, its rescue by now-CEO Dinesh Shamdasani, and the strategy the new Valiant has used to quickly build an audience for a different type of superhero comic. [Vulture]
Conventions | San Diego officials had to do some shuffling to accommodate the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which will be played in the city in 2016, but they didn’t move Comic-Con International, which is only a few days later. “Their attendees are such a unique group that they don’t take well to change,” said Joe Terzi, chief executive of the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau. “They plan their year around this event.” [U-T San Diego]
Whether you’re looking to benefit a good cause or simply trying to squeeze in another tax deduction before 2014 comes to an end, you need look no further than the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
The nonprofit, dedicated to protecting the First Amendment rights of comics creators, publishers and retailers, is rewarding contributions — of any amount — made by midnight Wednesday with an exclusive download of Neil Gaiman: Live at the Aladdin, the 2001 CBLDF benefit reading that includes performances of “Chivalry” and “Being an Experiment Upon Strictly Scientific Lines …”
If, for some reason, you’re uncertain of precisely what the CBLDF does, this post on the organization’s website touches upon the highlights of its “busy year”; there’s also a handy chart, which you can see below.
Regular readers of ROBOT 6 will undoubtedly recall the nonprofit’s involvement in Banned Books Week (which this year focused on comics) and the debate over Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home in the South Carolina legislature.
Creators | Garry Trudeau has some straight talk for those who criticized him for basing Sunday’s Doonesbury on the controversial Rolling Stone expose of the University of Virginia’s handling of rape cases — or thought maybe the strip was submitted before a number of commentators cast doubt on the lead anecdote in that article. The cartoonist insists that’s not the point: “We had some internal discussion about whether the flaws in the [Rolling Stone] reporting mattered here, and we concluded they didn’t. UVA is only used as setup to get the reader to consider the larger problem of institutions prioritizing their reputations over the welfare of those they’re charged with safeguarding.” [Comic Riffs]
Comic-Con International has announced the judging panel for the 2015 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards.
The six-person committee will meet in early April in San Diego to select the nominees to be placed on the Eisner ballot, which will then be voted on by comics industry professionals. The judges are:
Guidelines for submitting materials will be released in early January; deadline for entries is March 17. The winners will be announced July 10 during an awards ceremony held in conjunction with Comic-Con International in San Diego.
Publishing | Alex Abad-Santos examines how Marvel has created a mystique around its writers’ retreats, using the necessary secrecy to transform the planning meetings “into something fans are genuinely interested in.” The piece goes beyond that, however, touching upon recent accusations of sexism, and the inclusion of newly Marvel-exclusive writer G. Willow Wilson in this month’s retreat. [Vox]
Comics | Matt Cavna interviews Matt Bors, editor of The Nib, the comics section of the website The Medium, which has become the go-to site for journalism and commentary in comics form. [Comic Riffs]
Best of the year | The Publishers Weekly critics vote for the best graphic novels of the year; Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer tops the list, and there are plenty of interesting suggestions as books that got even one or two votes are included. [Publishers Weekly]
The shortlist has been announced for the 2015 Stan Lee Excelsior Award and the new Stan Lee Excelsior Award Junior, whose winners are selected by students at secondary and primary schools, respectively, across the United Kingdom.
Established in 2011 by Paul Register, a school librarian in Sheffield, the Stan Lee Excelsior Award is designed to promote comics and to encourage children and teenagers to read. The Stan Lee Excelsior Award Junior is being introduced this year.
The winners — first, second and third place — will be announced in July. The nominees are:
Stan Lee Excelsior Award
Publishing | The British independent publisher Great Beast, which has released the work of Dan Berry, Marc Ellerby and Isabel Greenberg, among others, will close on Jan. 7. Founded in 2012 by Ellerby and Adam Cadwell, the publisher was something of a victim of its own success, as Cadwell explains: “As the group got bigger, as the books became more successful and as we widened the range of shops we sold to there became more of a need for the management and promotion to come from one or two people and Marc Ellerby and I (Adam Cadwell) happily took up that role. However, as time went on we found that the time spent working for the benefit of the group was getting in the way of us actually making our own comics, which is why we started the group in the first place… We looked at many ways of monetising the group so we could pay someone to run things whilst still giving the creators the bulk of the profits but we just couldn’t find a fair way to make it work.” [Great Beast Blog]
“What keeps this industry alive is creators doing their own work. Once you change a costume or origin enough times, it’s a dead body — you’re just electrocuting it and keeping it sort of shambling on. There is a lot more creator-owned stuff now, and some of it I look at and go, ‘Oh, that’s his pitch for a TV show. That’s his pitch for a movie. That’s him saying oh, this kind of thing sells.’ I didn’t do that. My one piece of advice to people who are saying “‘I wanna do it, but DC and Marvel pay so well …’ is that in between your big paying gigs, just find time just to do one comic! It doesn’t have to be a 6,000-page epic! It doesn’t have to be Hellboy! Ten years down the road, when you’re scrambling for work or drawing some book you hate, at least you did something when you had fire in your belly that’s really you.”