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The first news to emerge from the ComicsPRO annual meeting in Dallas is that Lee Bermejo, the critically acclaimed artist of Joker and Lex Luthor: Man of Steel, will write and draw a Batman graphic novel for DC Comics.
Titled Batman: Noel, the holiday-themed book will mark Bermejo’s comics-writing debut. It’s edited by Mark Chiarello, DC’s vice president of art direction & design.
“I’m totally excited by this project, and not only because Lee Bermejo is such an astounding artist,” Chiarello tells the DC Universe blog The Source. “Sure, the work he’s done in the past (Joker OGN, Wednesday Comics) has been pretty brilliant and I’d expect nothing less from Lee, but the added bonus of Batman: Noel being drawn and written by Lee is extra cool. In other words, I knew Lee could deliver the goods artistically, but I never knew he was also this great of a writer!”
No released date was mentioned.
The meeting of ComicsPRO — the Comics Professional Retail Organization — continues through Saturday.
Publishing | The 61st volume of Eiichiro Oda’s insanely popular pirate manga One Piece sold more than 2 million copies in its first three days of release, according to the Japanese market-survey firm Oricon. It’s the fastest-selling book in the Oricon chart’s nearly three-year history, breaking the previous record set by the 60th volume of One Piece, which sold more than 2 million copies in four days. [Anime News Network]
Retailing | Heidi MacDonald talks to Dave Bowen, Diamond’s director of digital distribution, about the newly announced deal with iVerse Media that will allow retailers to sell digital comics in their stores: “The retailer will login using their Diamond retailer login and be presented with the opportunity to create store-specific, item-specific codes in whatever quantities they need. Then we’ll use some approved cryptographically secure method to generate random codes for the retailer to use. And we’ll format those in a PDF which they can then print out. Likely what will happen is, it’ll print easily on Avery 30-up laser labels. So what you have is a sheet of Avery laser labels with a bunch of different books and codes on individual labels. In that case the retailer takes that material and secures it and then when someone wants Transformers #16 they simply ring the sale and give the label or sticker or cut-out to the consumer. […] It’s really very simple. Then the consumer that has that code, which is live, they could literally step out of the line, pull out their iphone or ipad or whatever other device and redeem the code and begin reading the material.” Meanwhile, Todd Allen dissects what he describes as “a particularly silly digital download scheme.” [The Beat, Indignant Online]
Publishing | Citing “distribution concerns,” Marvel has canceled plans to allow members of the ComicsPRO retail trade organization to sell the first issue of author Orson Scott Card’s Formic Wars: Burning Earth on Feb. 15 rather than Feb. 16. Announced last Friday, the move was designed to take advantage of Diamond Comic Distributors’ new day-early delivery program, which allows direct-market stores to receive comics on Tuesday for sale on Wednesday. It’s what just this week enabled the early release of the heavily publicized Fantastic Four #587. According to Rich Johnston, complaints from DC Comics and other publishers over that promotion are what led to cancellation of the ComicsPRO incentive.
But publishers weren’t alone in protesting Tuesday releases: On the retail-oriented news and analysis site ICv2.com, store owners complained about “special treatment” for ComicsPRO members, and criticized Marvel for already authorizing day-early sales. “At this rate, by the end of the year, Tuesday will be new comics day,” wrote Ed Sherman of Rising Sun Creations. [Marvel]
Creators | Artist Alan Kupperberg shares word that colorist Tom Ziuko has been hospitalized as he fights acute kidney failure and other health conditions. “The good news is that the doctors seem to have finally stumbled on a series of treatments and therapies that have Tom seeing some light at the end of the tunnel,” Kupperberg said in a message to Daniel Best. “The bad news is that Tom, uninsured and unable to work since the beginning of December, is in a tough financial bind.” Kupperberg is accepting donations via his PayPal account — firstname.lastname@example.org — and adds, “I will pass 100% (plus) along to Tom.”
Ziuko worked in DC Comics’ production department before going freelance, and colored comics like Crisis on Infinite Earths, Batman, Action Comics and History of the DC Universe, to name a few. Todd Klein remembers their time together at DC. [20th Century Danny Boy]
Creators | Artist Paolo Rivera suffered a broken cheekbone after intervening in a domestic dispute. “The good news is I’m all right and—most importantly—my vision is intact,” he wrote on his blog. “… I had surgery on Monday and have been taking it very, very easy since. All things considered, I was very lucky. My eye looks horrendous—the white of the eye is blood red—but I can still see (thank goodness) and should make a full recovery. I also have a pretty rad haircut right now due to surgery… it kinda looks like the one I had circa 1995.” [The Self-Absorbing Man]
Broadway | The Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark canceled both Wednesday performances to test new safety measures following the Monday-night fall that left a stuntman hospitalized with broken ribs and internal bleeding. The cancellation of the sold-out evening show was announced just three hours before showtime at the Foxwoods Theatre. Tonight’s performance is expected to go on as planned.
Producers and creators met privately on Tuesday with the entire company to address safety concerns about the $65-million musical, the most expensive and technically complex in Broadway history. Although accidents in theater productions aren’t uncommon, it’s unusual for there to be four injuries before a show has officially opened. MTV offers some context. [The New York Times, The Associated Press]
Publishing | No comic cracked the 100,000-copy mark in the direct market in October, with the top title, Marvel’s Uncanny X-Force #1, selling an estimated 96,500 copies. Diamond’s graphic novel chart was led by DC Comics’ Superman: Earth One hardcover, which sold more than 16,000 copies. Retail news and analysis site ICv2.com notes that was the best number for a graphic novel since new volumes of Scott Pilgrim and The Walking Dead shipped in July. The website also pursues John Jackson Miller’s recent analysis of comics that don’t make it into Diamond’s Top 300, concluding: “Sales below the Top 300 may be growing in importance, but when we look at a fairly long period (10 months) either they aren’t big enough in the aggregate to make much difference, or their sales are changing at about the same rate as the Top 300’s. If anything, looking at year to date numbers, sales on titles below the Top 300 are shrinking faster than sales in the Top 300, at least in periodical comics.”
Conventions | Wizard Entertainment has announced its acquisition of Central Canada Comic Con in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Johanna Draper Carlson also picks up on rumors that the company is adding Mid-Ohio-Con to its growing stable. [press release, Comics Worth Reading]
I’ve been writing about comics for over five years now, and one of the things I’ve learned is always know who the experts are on any given subject. Whenever I have an article that would benefit from the insight of a retailer, one of the first people I turn to is Joe Field.
Field is the owner/operator of Concord, California’s Flying Colors Comics & Other Cool Stuff. He’s the president of the comics retail organization ComicsPRO, founded Free Comic Book Day, worked as a marketing person for Stan Lee and also ran one of the biggest regional conventions, WonderCon, for several years. Over the years I’ve called and emailed him numerous times with a stray question or two, but never got a chance to sit down and pick his brain — until now.
Chris Arrant: First thing I want to ask you about is ComicsPRO. Not many people outside the retail side know about this — I bet even some publishers and journalists don’t. Inform me, Joe — what’s the next big event for ComicsPRO coming up?
The comics retailer organization ComicsPro has posted the list of nominees for this year’s Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, which includes comic shops in Florida, New Mexico, Texas, England and Israel, among other locations.
Established in 1993, the award is presented to “an individual retailer performing an outstanding job of supporting the comics art medium both in the community and within the industry at large.” Nominees are judged based on the following criteria:
The winner will be announced during the Eisner Awards presentation on Friday at Comic-Con International in San Diego. The list of nominees can be found after the jump.
As Kevin mentioned a few days ago, the comics retailer organization ComicsPRO honored former DC Comics president and publisher Paul Levitz with the first ComicsPRO Industry Appreciation Award and Carol Kalish, former direct sales manager at Marvel, with the posthumous ComicsPRO Industry Appreciation Award. You can now watch the video of the award presentation above or on the ComicsPro website.
Politics | Ah, comics, the language of diplomacy. During his visit this week to the White House, French President Nicolas Sarkozy gave President Obama an 18th-century document accrediting Benjamin Franklin as ambassador to France and, for his daughters, a collection of Asterix graphic novels. [AFP]
Publishing | Rebellion Publishing, publisher of U.K. comics anthology 2000AD, will begin releasing U.S. editions of new and classic titles in graphic-novel format beginning in June with The Judge Dredd Complete Case Files and The Complete D.R. and Quinch. [PW Comics Week]
Manga | A 14-year-old middle-schooler in Owosso, Michigan, has been suspended indefinitely after a classmate found a Death Note-inspired note containing the names of two students and times, and turned it over to a teacher. In Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata’s Death Note, the hit manga turned anime and live-action movie franchise, a high school student sets out to rid the world of evil using a supernatural notebook that kills anyone whose name is written in it.
Although the incident with the Owosso student was turned over to police, who forwarded the case to the prosecutor’s office. Police and school officials say they don’t believe the teen intended to harm anyone, and that no one was in danger.
Retailing | The annual meeting of ComicsPRO, the direct-market trade organization, begins today in Memphis, Tennessee, with DC Comics-focused programming — we’ll likely see some announcements this afternoon — and continues through Saturday. Matt Price gauges the general mood among attendees concerning the economy, digital comics and the increasing reliance by publishers on “classified” solicitations whose details aren’t revealed until just before the final-order cutoff. [Nerdage]
Publishing | French publisher Les Humanoïdes Associés, which in recent years has had deals with DC Comics and Devil’s Due Publishing, plans to “formally reestablish itself” as a U.S. comic-book publisher — this time without a partner. The venture, called Humanoids Inc., is overseen by Publisher Fabrice Giger, Director Alex Donoghue, Editor-in-Chief Bob Silva and Senior Art Director Jerry Frissen. The first titles will be released in June. [Humanoids]
The 2009 San Diego Comic-Con kicks off with preview night on Wednesday, July 22 and runs through Sunday, July 26. If you are a publisher, creator, retailer or any other kind of exhibitor who would like to let folks know about any special plans you have for the show (panels, signing schedules, exclusives, debuts, etc.) drop me an email and I’ll run it here.
Organizations | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and Things From Another World have teamed up to create a set of limited edition cards by various comic creators that will be handed out by various publishers, the CBLDF and TFAW. The original artwork for the cards will be auctioned off at the con, with proceeds going to the fund. Contributors include Mike Mignola, Phil Hester, Eric Powell, Gabriel Bá, Fábio Moon, Steve Lieber and many more.
Panels | Although the official programming schedule hasn’t been released yet, a few companies have started sharing their panels via press releases and such. Thursday at the con brings a panel on Disney animator Walt Stanchfield, who is profiled in a new book called Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes.
Also, FOX TV has released their schedule. They’ll have panels dedicated to the Simpsons, Family Guy, The Cleveland Show (a Family Guy spinoff), 24, Futurama and Bones. They’ll also have Joss Whedon and Eliza Dushku on hand to introduce a never before seen episode of Dollhouse. And they’ll have a panel dedicated to their new show Glee, where they’ll show another episode. You can watch the first one on Hulu; it is hilarious.
Interestingly enough, the release doesn’t mention Fringe, but there will be a panel with several members of the cast.
• Matt Price reports that “not all was rosy” in Memphis, Tenn., this week at the start of the annual meeting of ComicsPRO, the direct-market trade organization: “The overall economic slump had affected some locations. Furthermore, logistic problems with a large supplier have become more pronounced in recent weeks. And, something on many stores’ minds is the question of how digital content will impact the comic book industry.”
The theme of this year’s meeting, which continues today, is “Rising to the Challenge.”
“If the economy weakens … we have to remain strong,” organization President Joe Field said. “While there are things we can’t control, we have to work on the things we can control.”
• Bookstore chain Books-A-Million announced its fourth-quarter sales fell 2.5 percent over the same period, to $164 million.
• Tribune Media Services filed a lawsuit Thursday asking a bankruptcy judge to declare that the company, and not actor Warren Beatty, owns the television and movie rights to comic strip detective Dick Tracy.
Parent corporation Tribune Co., which filed for federal bankruptcy protection in December, has been feuding with Beatty for years. The actor acquired the rights to the character in 1985, and made the Dick Tracy movie in 1990.
According to Tribune Co., Beatty was required to produce another movie or TV project in order to retain the rights. In a lawsuit filed back in November, Beatty claims he began work on a TV special, satisfying the terms of the agreement.
• Dick McVengeance offers tips on how to save money on manga and anime purchases.
• Matt Alt takes a look at the financial state of Japan’s anime industry.
• The global recession seems to have had little effect on the Tokyo International Anime Fair, which drew more than 100,000 people.
As the annual meeting of ComicsPRO continues in Memphis, Tenn., DC Comics has announced a new creator-driven lineup from Wildstorm.
Matt Price reports the imprint will add miniseries from Aaron Williams and Fiona Staples, Dave Tischman and Philip Bond, David Lapham, and Jeff Mariotte. Sparse title details can be found at the link.
In addition to the news about Grant Morrison and Jim Lee’s Wildcats, Wildstorm’s Hank Kanalz announced that Morrison’s Authority will be finished by Keith Giffen and “a variety of artists,” and that Warren Ellis and John Cassaday’s Planetary #27 — the series finale — should ship sometime this year.