Finn Wields a Lightsaber in New "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Footage
Creators | The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland has named its first Cartoonist in Residence: Cameron McPhail, who left his job in 2002 as chief executive of wealth management at the Royal Bank of Scotland to become a full-time cartoonist. He and his colleagues in the Kartoon Faktory collective will produce books about the animals in the zoo and possibly a comic strip as well. [Edinburgh News]
Passings | Archie Comics artist Tom Moore died yesterday at the age of 86. Moore got his start as an artist in the Navy, where he served during the Korean War: His captain found a caricature that Moore had drawn, and instead of calling him on the carpet, he assigned him to be staff cartoonist. Moore’s comic strip, Chick Call, ran in military publications, and after the war he studied cartooning in New York, with help from the GI Bill. Moore signed on with Archie Comics, drawing one comic book a month, from 1953 until 1961, when he left cartooning for public relations. “It’s important to create characters that can adapt to anything, but whose personalities are consistent,” Moore said in a 2008 interview. “Establish that, and don’t deviate. Betty doesn’t act like Veronica, and Charlie Brown doesn’t act like Lucy.” He returned to cartooning in 1970, drawing Snuffy Smith, Underdog, and Mighty Mouse, and then went back to Archie to help reboot Jughead, staying on until his retirement in the late 1980s. After retiring, Moore taught at El Paso Community College and was a regular customer at All Star Comics. [El Paso Times]
Publishing | DC co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio talk about the comics market as a whole, variant covers, and their move to Burbank, among many other topics, in a three-part interview. [ICv2]
Commentary | Christopher Butcher discusses the way the comics audience has diversified, and the way that parts of the industry (the parts that aren’t involved, basically) have refused to acknowledge the enormous popularity of newer categories of comics by “othering” them: “‘Manga aren’t comics,’ went the discussion. They were, and are in many ways, treated as something else. The success that they had, the massive success that they continue to have, doesn’t ‘count’. All those sales and new readers were just ‘a fad’, and not worthy of interest, respect, or comparison to real comics. It was the one thing that superhero-buying-snobs and art-comics-touting-snobs could agree on (with the exception of Dirk Deppey at TCJ, bless him): This shit just isn’t comics, real comics, therefore we don’t have to engage it.” Butcher sees these attitudes changing at last, though, thanks to the massive commercial and critical success of books like Raina Telgemeier’s Smile (three years on the New York Times graphic novel best-seller list!) and Mariko and Jillian Tamaki’s This One Summer. [Comics212]
Manga | Is former manga powerhouse Tokyopop coming back? Once the largest publisher of manga in North America, the company stopped publishing new manga in 2011, but didn’t go bankrupt and never really went away. Tokyopop is selling many of its “global manga” titles digitally and in print, on demand, and it ‘s planning panels at both Anime Expo in Los Angeles and Comic-Con International in San Diego. On his blog, CEO Stu Levy drops a few hints, saying he’s “rebuilding” Tokyopop. [Tokyopop]
Digital comics | Rob Salkowitz analyzes the latest news from Amazon and comiXology and suggests there’s more to the story than meets the eye. While fans may view the renewal of Marvel’s deal with comiXology as a story about a digital comics service, Salkowitz says it’s really about bringing comics to the mass market through Amazon: “Kindle isn’t Amazon’s platform for reaching comic book readers. It’s Amazon’s platform for reaching all readers. comiXology counts its revenues in millions. Amazon counts its revenues in billions. Moving these titles from a superior specialty app to an inferior mainstream app isn’t a big deal for existing fans but it’s a huge potential expansion of the market.” [ICv2]
Digital comics | Tom Spurgeon reports that Bongo Comics has quietly left comiXology and will be putting its comics in a new Simpsons Store app instead. While users won’t be able to buy new Bongo comics on comiXology, they will still be able to access those they already purchased. [The Comics Reporter]
Political cartoons | The American Freedom Defense Initiative has a new advertising campaign, placing Bosch Fawstin’s cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad on billboards around St. Louis. Transit systems in several cities, including New York and Washington, D.C., have stopped accepting political advertising rather than carry the group’s ads depicting the Prophet Muhammad. In St. Louis, they have drawn mixed reactions: Dr. Ghazala Hayat of the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis says she would like to see the signs removed but not at the cost of violence or property damage, while Jim Hanson, the executive vice president of the Center for Security Policy, said that freedom of speech is more important than avoiding offense. [WKRC]
Passings | Inker Rick Ketcham has passed away. Details are sparse, but Ketcham’s Facebook quickly filled with tributes from friends and colleagues who hailed his kindness, his professionalism, and his willingness to mentor others. Ketcham worked on a number of titles for DC Comics, Marvel, Dark Horse, Image Comics and other publishers, including The Amazing Spider-Man, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, G.I. Joe, New X-Men, Runaways and Venom. [Tsunami Studios Facebook]
ComiXology Submit will sponsor Artists Alley at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, held this weekend at McCormick Place.
To celebrate, comiXology’s two-year-old self-publishing portal will give away limited-edition posters of Fabian Rangel Jr.’s comiXology Submit hit Doc Unknown, as drawn by Courtney Crumrin and Princess Ugg creator Ted Naifeh. A different version of the poster, each with its own color theme, will be offered daily at the show on a first come, first serve basis. Rangel and Naifeh will be signing at the comiXology Submit booth.
Manga | The first printing of One Piece, Vol. 77, may have dropped below 4 million, but its sales aren’t slacking. According to Japanese market research firm, the latest volume of Eiichiro Oda’s hit manga has sold nearly 1.67 million copies since its release on Friday, more than seven times that of the No. 2 title on the weekly sales chart, the 67th volume of Tite Kubo’s Bleach. That’s marks a new weekly sales record for the year, surpassing the 67th volume of One Piece, which sold 1.6 million copies upon its release in January. [Crunchyroll]
Winter finally caught up with the Memphis suburbs over the past couple of weeks, bringing nasty bouts with freezing rain and (currently) a little snow. Digging out from under the ice has been more tedious than anything else, but the persistent cold kept us all housebound for a little while. Of course, compared to folks in other parts of the country, we are very lucky.
Still, the mere idea of days at home with nothing else to do made me want to search the DC archives on comiXology for decent binge-reading material. Everything from the New 52 forward is available there, so the following recommendations are for older series. I’ve tried to stay away from the bigger names, and go instead for stories and series which might make the time indoors a little more tolerable. They’re also organized according to Convergence eras, so even if you’re not coping with the cold, you can still look forward to April and May.
Coinciding with the release of the landmark Spawn #250, the entire library of Spawn comics — including the 20-volume Spawn Origins Collection — is now available digitally for the first time on comiXology.
As Todd McFarlane breaks it down on his Facebook page, “That’s over 23 years (and more than 5,300 pages of story and art) of the Spawn mythology available with one swipe of your finger.”
The president of last year’s festival, and the winner of the previous year’s Grand Prix d’Angoulême, was Willem, a staff cartoonist at Charlie Hebdo. He didn’t like to attend staff meetings, so he wasn’t in the office on Jan. 7 when two gunmen killed 12 people, including another Grand Prix winner, Wolinski.
“The 2015 festival will be a time to remember but we also want to demonstrate that life goes on,” said festival director Franck Bondoux. The commemorations include a special exhibit on Charlie Hebdo, a virtual album with contributions by artists from around the world, and a new award, the Charlie Prize, which will be awarded posthumously to the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists this year, and in future years will recognize creators who have fought for freedom of expression. The town of Angoulême will also festooned with posters of Charlie Hebdo covers.
Publishing | Portland, Oregon, will be the home base for Heavy Metal’s new line of comics, which was announced in October, following the company’s sale to David Boxenbaum and Jeff Krelitz. “I think it’s being closer to the talent,” Krelitz said. “If you wanted to be a painter in the early 20th century, you went to Paris. The comics line launches in March with the second season of Michael Moreci and Steve Seely’s Hoax Hunters. The company plans to be publishing eight original series by the end of this year and another 12 next year, building up to 50 in five years. “We’re positioning to be a premier publisher,” Krelitz said. [The Oregonian]
Passings | Editorial cartoonist R.K. Laxman, who maintained a running commentary on Indian politics for almost 60 years, has died at age 93. The younger brother of novelist R. K. Narayan, Laxman got his start illustrating his brother’s work as well as doing drawings for local newspapers. He became an editorial cartoonist for the Times of India around 1947, about the time India became an independent country, and stayed there until 2010. Laxman’s most famous creation was the Common Man, a character that stood in for the average Indian. As the official obituary in the Times of India said, “His Common Man, created in 1957, was the symbol of India’s ordinary people, their trials and tribulations, their little joys and sorrows, and the mess they found themselves in thanks to the political class and bureaucracy. But despite the sobering reality of this, there was never any rancour in Laxman’s cartoons. His humour was always delightful, and no one could hold a candle to his brushstrokes.” [Times of India]
ComiXology has announced the 25 bestselling comiXology Submit titles of 2014.
Launched in 2013, the self-publishing portal allows independent creators to upload their comics and graphic novels for sale worldwide, with profits split evenly between comiXology and the creator.
Although comiXology doesn’t provide any details about number of downloads, the list still makes for interesting reading, as it’s a mix of titles you might expect — Leaving Megalopolis by Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore, Testament by Douglas Rushkoff & Co. — and some that don’t have that level of creator name recognition, like Benjamin Rivers’ Snow and Beto Skubs and Rafael de Latorre’s Fade Out: Painless Suicide.
While Leaving Megalopolis and Testament: Omnibus top the chart, Joe Benitez’s Lady Mechanika claims three spots. It’s also an incredibly diverse list, where the mystery Watson and Holmes is found alongside the “world’s sexiest anthology” Smut Peddler, and the gay superhero title The Pride is nestled between the Western Moth City Preludes: The Reservoir and the pirate adventure Annie Bonnie.
A romantic comedy by Jamie S. Rich and Megan Levens, the Oni Press graphic novel is being serialized digitally in six weekly chapters, concluding on Feb. 10, before being collected in print form in April. Each installment costs $1.99.
Priya’s Shakti is a comic that aims to change the world, or at least, one part of it.
The creation of writer Ram Devenini and artist Dan Goldman, Priya’s Shakti uses elements of Indian religion and mythology to take on the difficult topic of rape and send a strong message that it’s a crime and the victim is not to be blamed for it. The comic tells the story of a rape survivor who’s cast out by her family, a situation that angers the gods; the resolution comes with a call to action.
The comic is available for free on comiXology and debuts in print this week at the Mumbai Film and Comics Convention. However, it’s not limited by the usual distribution structures: As Devenini explains to ROBOT 6, the creators have partnered with the Indian charitable trust Apne Aap Women Worldwide to get the title out to girls in classrooms and communities far from comics shops. They also painted street murals in Mumbai that include an augmented reality feature; when viewed with a smart phone, parts of the murals are animated.
I spoke with Devenini and Goldman about making the comic, the special features, and how they plan to spread the word.
ComiXology is back this year with its own take on an Advent calendar, the third annual “12 Days of Free Comics.”
Each day through Dec. 22, the company will offer a digital comic for free, beginning today with The Wake #1 by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy (it may be a holiday tradition for Snyder as well, as last year’s event kicked off with Batman #13).
What’s more, each comic can be gifted to friends, family members or co-workers. However, each day’s selection is available for download only until 11 p.m. ET (a slight change from last year, when you had 24 hours).
“It’s been an outstanding year for us at comiXology, and we want every comic fan to help us celebrate with our third annual 12 Days of Free Comics,” CEO David Steinberger said in a statement. “It’s you, the comics fan, that push us every day to create an even brighter future for comics, graphic novels and manga worldwide. These comics are for you!”