"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
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.”
Diamond Comic Distributors has unveiled the Free Comic Book Day 2015 commemorative T-shirt designed by Amanda Conner and colored by Paul Mounts.
The tee, which will be available in adult and youth sizes from the January issue of Previews, depicts images of a variety of young readers — one of them otherworldly — enjoying comic books, set against a FCBD logo.
“I remembered what many of us comic book readers actually are … frustrated superheroes,” Conner said in a statement. “I thought about making a piece of art that would resemble a superhero insignia. Hopefully when you see it from a distance, that’s what it looks like.”
Diamond Comic Distributors has officially announced the date for Free Comic Book Day: May 2, 2015, the event’s traditional spot on the first Saturday in May, which coincides with the opening weekend of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Last year’s Free Comic Book Day saw a record-breaking turnout, with a reported 4.7 million comic books handed out to more than 1 million customers who showed up at the 2,100 participating locations across North America and around the globe. Diamond anticipates that next year’s celebration — the 14th — will be even bigger.
The 42nd Angouleme International Comics Festival is coming up Jan. 29, and over the Thanksgiving holiday organizers announced the nominations for the four juried prizes: the Sélection Officielle (the general category), Sélection Jeunesse (young people), Sélection Patrimoine (classics and reprints) and Sélection Polar (mysteries and thrillers).
Angouleme lives up to the “international” part of its name, as many of the selections were first published in English, including Chris Ware’s Building Stories, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga, and Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer.
See the full list below.
Conventions | The San Diego Tourism Authority is asking hotels in the Comic-Con International room block to freeze their rates at the 2016 level for the following two years, as part of its bid to keep the convention in the city. Already, 30 of the 50 participating hotels have agreed to do so. Meanwhile, Mayor Kevin Faulconer will attend the next Comic-Con board meeting to make an appeal to organizers to remain in the city; Tourism Authority CEO Joe Terzi said Anaheim has made a bid for Comic-Con, but the city’s convention bureau wouldn’t comment.
A plan to expand the San Diego Convention Center collapsed after the hotel-tax funding scheme was ruled unconstitutional, but Anaheim is preparing to break ground on its own 200,000-square-foot expansion. However, Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer said, “Some people had mistakenly implied that an expanded convention center would be the thing that solidified our decision to stay or go, but there are a number of factors to be addressed: hotel room rates, available space within hotels and outside the center, things that could mitigate the issue of having outgrown the convention center. An expansion would be great for the city and us, but if it doesn’t happen we’ve been able to make do without it, and if we can mitigate the concerns we do have we’ll be able to stay here.” [U-T San Diego]
SLG Publishing has been a major part of the American comics industry, helping to usher in notable creators like Charles Soule, Jhonen Vasquez and Jim Rugg. But for the past few years the publisher has been struggling.
Founder Dan Vado has been public about the company’s financial status, turning to crowdfunding platforms for help in keeping the business afloat — but with little success. He organized two unsuccessful Kickstarter campaigns in 2012, and returned this year, first with a GoFundMe effort and now with Patreon.
While none of the campaigns have reached the stated goal, Vado remains hopeful. The comics industry has witnessed numerous successful crowdfunding campaigns (even on a publisher level, such as with Fantagraphics), but SLG’s plight underscores that, unfortunately, they don’t all work out that way. But what’s so different about SLG’s situation?