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Comics A.M. | Artist Jay Scott Pike passes away at 91

Dolphin on the cover of "Showcase" #79, by Jay Scott Pike

Dolphin on the cover of “Showcase” #79, by Jay Scott Pike

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]

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Quote of the Day | ‘This is not the corporatization of DC’

pointe-dc-entertainment“It is important, but it’s not the driving factor. The driving factor for me is having DC as one company together ourselves. Our ability to work more collaboratively with the whole studio is certainly a benefit. I believe everyone in DC will feel more a part of Warner Bros in the best ways. But it isn’t about more of our people talking to the film and TV people.

This is not the corporatization of DC. It isn’t about folding DC into Warner Bros. We’re going to help DC feel like more of an important priority in Warner Bros.”

— DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson, addressing whether film, television and video-game adaptations are the primary reason for the recently announced move of DC’s publishing operations from New York City to Burbank, California. Since August 2011, the company’s film and television, digital, administrative and consumer-products operations have been housed on the second floor — 35,000 square feet of space — of The Pointe, a new 14-story office tower less than a mile from Warner Bros. Studios.

Digital returns to Kickstarter with new Tezuka title

On the heels of its last Kickstarter campaign, which will fund a reprint of Osamu Tezuka’s Swallowing the Earth, Digital Manga inaugurated a new Kickstarter drive last week, this one dedicated to producing a print edition of another Tezuka manga Barbara.

Whether the book will actually be published is no longer in question — the campaign reached its goal last week. The question is whether this is how comics publishers should be doing business.

On the one hand, you can argue that Barbara is a book that would be difficult to publish in English by the traditional means. It is one of Tezuka’s more outré books, with adult content that will make it hard to place in the usual channels. Here’s the blurb:

Wandering the packed tunnels of Shinjuku Station, famous author Yosuke Mikura makes a strange discovery: a seemingly homeless drunk woman who can quote French poetry. Her name is Barbara. He takes her home for a bath and a drink, and before long Barbara has made herself into Mikura’s shadow, saving him from egotistical delusions and jealous enemies. But just as Mikura is no saint, Barbara is no benevolent guardian angel, and Mikura grows obsessed with discovering her secrets, tangling with thugs, sadists, magical curses and mythical beings – all the while wondering whether he himself is still sane.

At Manga Widget, Alex Hoffman argues that this is essentially the readers commissioning a book, as a patron might commission a painting from an artist. “Commissions are what works for microniche consumer materials,” Hoffman argues, adding,

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Books vs. comics: Kazu Kibuishi on the problem of Flight

CBR’s Alex Dueben interviewed Flight editor Kazu Kibuishi about the release of the eighth and final volume in the much-acclaimed anthology series this week, and Kibuishi talked a bit about why he and his editor decided to bring it to an end:

While “Flight” continues to be very successful for an anthology, it doesn’t sell enough copies to be considered a hit in the mainstream book publishing world, and our sales numbers were not rising. My goal with the project was to reach new readers and bring them into comics, but I was seeing that we weren’t doing a good enough job of it. I think much of the blame can be placed on the size and price of the books. It’s just a bit much to ask someone who has never read the other “Flight” books to spend $27 on a paperback. So I realized that the time spent on the series could be better spent helping the artists begin working on their own books. We’ll revisit the project again, but it will probably show up in a different form.

As comics shift more and more into a graphic novel model, Kibuishi’s words are worth thinking about. Book publishers and comics publishers have different ways of doing things, and apparently the Flight books, as great as they are, didn’t fit neatly into either category. On the other hand, they launched a lot of artists who did go on to make successful graphic novels.

And there’s a bit of good news in the article: Flight 8 is the last volume of the numbered series, but Kibuishi is also working with editor Sheila Keenan on one more volume of the all-ages Flight Explorer anthology, and he will be applying the lessons learned to this new book.

Francoise Mouly inks deal with Candlewick

When Francoise Mouly started the Toon Books line two years ago, she set it up as an independent publisher because no one was willing to buy into the notion of comics for preschoolers. When I spoke to her at the American Library Association meeting last June, she recalled talking to the publisher from one major house who loved the books but balked at investing the time and money necessary to create a new category.

So Mouly did it herself, publishing the Toon books as an imprint of RAW Junior, a small publishing company she runs with her husband Art Spiegelman. Until Oct. 1, when Toon Books will become an imprint of Candlewick Press, which is based in Somerville, Massachusetts. This means that both current titles and the backlist will be distributed by Random House, rather than Diamond Book Distributors, and Toon will continue to release four or five new books per year.

Full press release after the jump.

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Attention entrepreneurs!


CO2 Comics is a very new company; they just celebrated their first anniversary with some crazy talk about moving from web to print publishing. But the owners, Gerry Giovinco and Bill Cucinotta, have been around the block a few times; they were once the co-publishers of Comico Comics, from which CO2 draws some of its material. So to celebrate CO2’s first anniversary, they are taking a little trip down memory lane. Giovinco kicks it off with a look at the Thing costume he created, which was apparently a big hit in the summer of ’79, but even better is this week’s look at their inspirations for starting the company, which includes full text of some cool old comics articles and all six pages of >How To Start A Comic Book Empire. So go, read, set your time machine to 1978, and get ready to conquer the world.

More on Marvel’s price increases



John Turitzin, Marvel’s general counsel and EVP of the executive office, presented at the Cowen & Company 37th Annual Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in New York last week. You can find a link to his presentation, which includes audio and his slides, here (it was at 1:05 p.m. in Holmes 2; registration is required).

I initially posted a comment from, and a link to, a report on the presentation from someone who was there, but he’s since deleted his report. So I thought I’d revisit the webcast and quote it directly.

During the presentation, Turitzin gave an overview of Marvel — a “cash machine,” he called it — and the various ways it makes money, from publishing and licensing to the more recently added Marvel Studios division. Like I said on Friday, one of the more interesting portions came when a comic fan in the audience asked about recent cost increases on some of Marvel’s more popular titles from $2.99 to $3.99.

“We’re always testing our pricing on our comic books to see to the extent to which it is inelastic, and we can increase our profit in that business,” Turitzin said. He added that different books have different price points, noting the most popular titles saw a price increase, while the lower-selling monthlies, as well as the comics aimed at kids, did not.

“We’re just looking to maximize our profits for that business while not alienating our own fan base by making them feel that they’re gouged, which I hope you don’t feel,” he told the fan.

When asked if Marvel would consider lowering the cover price if revenue started to drop, Turitzin said, “Our goal is to maximize our revenue, and if we’re not maximizing revenue then our pricing is wrong, and we have to take a look at that … so you can hope we see that attrition, and our prices come down.”

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PictureBox goes the pre-order plea route

Powr Masters 3

Powr Masters 3

Dan Nadel posted a press release at Comics Comics yesterday that, in addition to announcing two upcoming books from PictureBox — Powr Masters 3 by CF and If n Oof by Brian Chippendale — asked fans to ensure these books got printed by ordering them now:

These two books are among the best graphic novels of our time, but they need your support. Like a lot of publishers, PictureBox is looking for new ways to navigate the current terrain. To that end, we are attempting to raise the money for these books ahead of time. It’s all an experiment these days.

So we are looking to you, as a community of readers, to help make these books a reality. Everyone that orders advance copies of one or both of these books (up until August 1) will receive the book itself and a signed silkscreen print upon the books’ releases. Everyone that orders in advance by June 20, 2009 will have their names hand-lettered in the book with their corresponding level of support (see below). We need about 400 of you per book to step up and help make this a reality. Let’s come together as a community.

Nadel has PDF previews up at the site, and he’s also offering an interesting, PBS-style tiered system of support, where, say, $45 nets you both books and the prints, but $150 nets you the books, the prints and a full color drawing by one of the artists.

It will certainly be interesting to see what the response to this idea will be. The ability to gain two prints by ordering ahead certainly is tantalizing, although now I’m suddenly worried that PictureBox is in worse financial shape than I had previously thought.

You can read Nadel’s full press release after the jump:

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Family fight erupts over the future of Asterix

Asterix and Obelix

Asterix and Obelix

The daughter of Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo is publicly criticizing her father for selling his stake in the books’ publisher to Hachette Livre, and authorizing the company to continue the series after his death.

“Today, I’m rebelling,” Sylvie Uderzo wrote in the French newspaper Le Monde. “Why? Because Asterix is my paper brother. I find myself entering into battle against, perhaps, Asterix’s worst enemies — the men of industry and finance.”

Albert Uderzo, now 81, created the enormously popular Asterix in 1959 with the late writer Rene Goscinny. Editions Albert Rene was founded in 1979, two years after Goscinny’s death.

The sale last month to Hachette, approved by Goscinny’s daughter Anne, gives the French publishing giant a 60-percent stake in Asterix.  The remaining 40 percent remains with Sylvie Uderzo, who claims her father previously had intended the comic to end once he dies.

She blames her father’s advisers for pushing him into a “180 degree turn.”

The Asterix albums have been translated into 107 languages, and have sold more than 300 million copies worldwide.

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