Thursday at this time, many Americans will be digging in to their bountiful Thanksgiving dinner or, depending upon the time zone, blissfully enjoying a tryptophan coma. Feasting isn’t the only tradition, however: There’s also the custom of giving thanks, hence the holiday’s name.
With the end of the year approaching, it seems like a good opportunity to reflect on the state of comics, and celebrate what’s working. Sure, this crazy industry can be frustrating at times, but it also gets a lot of things right. So in keeping with the numerical motif of our namesake, here are six things in comics for which I’m thankful.
1. Image Comics is killing it
There are a lot of fantastic comics today. It’s been said a number of times by myself and others but it’s so fun to repeat: We are living in a new renaissance period for comics. I don’t think there’s ever before been such a sustained output of quality books. You can’t reasonably give credit for that to one publisher, but if we’re just looking at the major players in the direct market, Image Comics is just killing it this year. I don’t think they’ve ever had such a stellar line-up of quality creators putting out books that look fantastic, have great hooks to them, and stand on their own as solid entertainment.
BOOM! Studios will make all of its collected editions and graphic novels available on comiXology beginning today, with the digital debuts of volumes of Adventure Time, Bravest Warriors, Irredeemable, 2 Guns and others. The publisher’s entire back catalog will be available soon on comiXology for iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, Windows 8 and the web.
“We’ve been talking about making our backlist catalog available digitally in collected form for some time and it’s a great way to help cap the amazing year BOOM! has been having,” BOOM! CEO Ross Richie said in a statement. “With new fans discovering our brand every day through series like Adventure Time, Day Men, Suicide Risk and Herobear and the Kid, what better time to make everything available? I’m really excited about all of the co-promotions we have planned with comiXology as we roll out new editions!”
The full list of the publisher’s collected editions available today can be found below:
ComiXology, which already permits users to “gift” purchases, is now offering an “eGift Card” to make holiday shopping a heck of a lot easier. They’re available in amounts ranging from $10 to $500, with no extra fees and, best of all, no expiration dates.
“Shopping for friends, family and loved ones is hard, especially if they’re comic fans, so the comiXology eGift Card takes out the guess work and makes it easy to be a comics gifting hero,” comiXology CEO David Steinberger said in a statement. “The comiXology eGift Card is another way we’re making it easy for comics fans to get and give the comics they love.”
There’s a handy eGift Cards FAQ on the comiXology website covering everything from setting a date for the card to arrive to how to check your card balance. Read the full press release below.
Retailing | Fans of the Fall River, Massachusetts, retailer StillPoint Comics, Cards & Games kicked in $5,000 in a GoFundMe campaign to keep the store in business. The shop, which opened in 1997, had to close for 10 days last month after its power was shut off. [The Herald News]
Publishing | Following confirmation last month of a Space Mountain graphic novel series, Heidi MacDonald talks with executives from Disney Publishing Worldwide about the expansion of the new Disney Comics imprint. [Publishers Weekly]
Events | Sean Kleefeld reports on Day 1 of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum Grand Opening Festival of Cartoon Art in Columbus, Ohio. [Kleefeld on Comics]
In addition to launching their first-ever linewide Kickstarter project this week, Fantagraphics announced another “first” for the company — their first digital-first comic. The 50-page, self-contained Violenzia by Richard Sala (Delphine, Cat Burgler Black) will be released on comiXology Nov. 20.
“A fast moving, self-contained story, Violenzia is a blast of pulpy fun, told in scenes of audacious action and splashes of rich watercolors,” said Fanta’s Jen Vaughn. “With elements of golden age comics and old movies mixed with Sala’s trademark humor and sense of the absurd, Violenzia is serious fun, a bloody enigma masked as eye candy, a puzzle box riddled with bullet holes.”
(Hmmm … it’s funny how we’ve never seen Violenzia and Jen Vaughn in the same room together …)
Check out some additional art from the comic below, and some additional thoughts on the project from Fanta’s Eric Reynolds at The Comics Reporter.
Called, fittingly enough, Action Presidents, the new title begins at the beginning, with a look at George Washington “in the hilarious-but-accurate manner of their previous works,” Action Philosophers and The Comic Book History of Comics.
“Long-announced, finally arrived, Action Presidents will profile a different chief executive in each issue,” Van Lente said in a statement, “at least until we start getting to the really lame ones.”
Each issue will be available for $1.99 on comiXology, “with a special dead tree edition available through distributor Tony Shenton and at conventions.” They plan to publish a collected edition once five or six issues have been released.
In a timely addendum, Evil Twin Comics confirmed in a press release its commitment to remaining in New York City, “specifically beneath a bridge spanning the Gowanus Canal.” Check out a preview of Action Presidents #1 below.
In celebration of Halloween, Dark Horse is offering 50 percent off more than 800 digital horror titles — for today only.
Given the publisher’s penchant for horror, the selection is pretty extensive, ranging from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Hellboy families to The Strain and The Goon. There’s even a bit of manga — they include MPD-Psycho, Hellsing and two of my favorites, Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service and Mail — in the mix. So prepare to browse and browse. No specific ending time is mentioned, but I’m guessing midnight Pacific.
In a similar seasonal vein, comiXology’s Halloween sales — with discounts on Marvel Zombies, Locke & Key Vol. 2, Tales From the Crypt and Afterlife With Archie #1 — end today.
Graphic novels | France 24 examines the Thursday release of Asterix and the Picts — the first album by new creative team Jean Yves-Ferri and Didier Conrad — from a political perspective, noting that the story, in which Asterix and Obelix journey from ancient Gaul to Iron Age Scotland, has already become part of the current debate about Scottish independence. [France 24]
Creators | Chinese cartoonist Wang Liming, who spent a night in police custody last week on charges of “suspicion of causing a disturbance,” spoke to the press this week. Liming, who has more than 300,000 followers on his microblog account, first ran into trouble two years ago for one of his cartoons, but police told him that China has freedom of speech and he could continue drawing. Nonetheless, another of his cartoons, depicting Winnie the Pooh (a frequent cartoon stand-in for Chinese President Xi Jinping) kicking a football was deleted and suppressed by censors. “For them, drawing leaders in cartoon form is a big taboo,” the cartoonist said. “I think the controls on the Internet are too harsh. They have no sense of humor. They can’t accept any ridicule.” [Reuters]
Amid a flurry of announcements at New York Comic Con, comiXology revealed it has signed a digital-distribution deal with Ape Entertainment, publisher of titles ranging from Poison Elves to Kung Fu Panda to Temple Run.
The news quickly follows announcements of an expanded deal with DC Comics to carry select collections and the addition of Avatar Press, and Viz Media Europe and its French subsidiary Kazé. ComiXology also released some of the findings from its readership survey, which indicated that 20 percent of its readers are women (up from just 5 percent six years ago).
To kick off the new agreement, the following Ape comics have debuted on the digital-comics platform:
Out of all of the comiXology announcements made in the past few days — and there have been few — this one stands to make the biggest impact: Female readership has increased dramatically since the digital-comics platform launched in 2007.
TechHive reports that six years ago, women represented less than 5 percent of comiXology users; now that figure has rocketed to 20 percent. What’s more, the company knows exactly who this reader is: “She’s 17-26 years old, college-educated, lives in the suburbs, and is new to comics. She prefers Tumblr to Reddit. She may have never even picked up a print comic.”
(Perhaps then it’s no coincidence that comiXology abandoned its long-running blog, and launched a very active one in July on Tumblr.)
Digital comics | Declaring that “the mainstreaming of digital publishing is nearly complete,” veteran technology writer Andy Ihnatko outlines three major steps the industry still needs to take: a move by Dark Horse to comiXology; the adoption of ePUB as an industry standard; and the abandonment of digital rights management. “We should be grateful to DRM,” Ihnatko writes. “‘What about piracy?’ wasn’t Marvel or DC’s only qualm about digital publishing, but it was a question that needed to be addressed before the major publishers could go all-in. But now that comiXology is up and running, and people have been ‘trained’ to use the new infrastructure, DRM is becoming less and less valuable with each passing quarter.” [Chicago Grid]
Digital comics | For readers only now discovering digital comics, Jeffrey L. Wilson provides a guide that covers the basics, from what they are to where they can be found and how much they cost. [PC Mag]
In North America, Viz has chosen to go it alone with its own self-contained manga app, available for iOS, Android, Kindle, Nook, Kobo and the web. In fact, although almost all major comics publishers (Dark Horse being the notable exception) have signed on with comiXology, the big manga publishers (Viz, Yen Press, Kodansha Comics), as well as the smaller Vertical, have not. ComiXology does have some manga content — Digital Manga, Seven Seas and Udon, and it’s the only place you can get Tokyopop’s Hetalia — but that’s it.
The deal announced today brings Viz Media Europe and Kazé titles to French-speaking European countries, including France, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Monaco.
ComiXology and Avatar Press announced they’ve struck an exclusive digital distribution agreement covering “English language single issues.” And like clockwork, this morning comiXology went live with about 50 Avatar titles, including Extinction Parade, Uber, Black Summer and God is Dead.
Avatar joins, well, nearly every other comic publisher out there, from DC Comics to Image to Udon to Scholastic’s Graphix line, on the digital distributor’s platform. The press release notes that at least 20 of Avatar’s titles are “too extreme for mobile” and will only be available via the comiXology website. Earlier this year comiXology made headlines when it removed many comics from its app to “comply with the Apple App Store guidelines regarding adult or inappropriate content.” So comics liked the always-controversial Crossed and Neonomicon can only be bought on comiXology.com.
Check out the full release, which has a full list of Avatar titles that are now available, below.
At comic conventions, a company like comiXology has to get creative in order to draw traffic to its booth; after all the digital distributor doesn’t have anything physical to sell, and it’s not like you can line up a bunch of creators to sign iPads. (I mean, you could, but why?) At New York Comic Con, however, comiXology is getting physical — by offering limited edition art cards during artist signings.
These limited-edition art cards will be signed and handed out during creator appearances at the comiXology booth, where you can meet Nick Dragotta (East of West), Greg Rucka and Michael Lark (Lazarus), Katie Cook (My Little Pony), Sara Richard (My Little Pony) and Doug Braithwaite (Unity #1). You can also meet Joshua Hale Fialkov and Joe Infurnari, creators of the wonderful The Bunker. They’ll be signing sketch cards that’ll have a code to get the first issue of The Bunker for free.
DC Entertainment announced today that it’s making nearly 100 graphic novels and collected editions, ranging from perennial bestsellers like Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns to New 52 releases like Aquaman and Dial H, available for download from comiXology and Google Play.
Although the offerings are heavy on Batman and Superman, readers can also find such Vertigo titles as American Vampire, The Sandman, Punk Rock Jesus and The Unwritten, and recent DC Universe collections of Wonder Woman, Animal Man, The Flash and Catwoman. You can see the complete list below.
“This expanded distribution furthers DC Entertainment’s goal to offer our readers convenience and choice,” DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Jim Lee said in a statement. “ComiXology is a clear leader in delivering digital comics, while Google is one of the biggest mobile content brands in the world. We’re very excited to bring bestselling DC Comics and Vertigo graphic novels to their customers.”