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ComiXology is celebrating its fifth anniversary with a deal that’s pretty difficult to pass up: a bundle of 100 titles from comiXology Submit, its self-publishing platform for independent creators, for just $10.
That’s 10 cents each for comics like Wolves by Becky Cloonan, Aw Yeah Comics! #1 by Art Baltazar, Franco and others, nemu*nemu: Out of This World by Audra Ann S. Furuichi, Feather #1 by Steve Uy, and The Pride #1 by Joe Glass, Marc Ellerby, Joshua Faith and Gavin Mitchell. Plus, y’know, 95 others.
This year, The Oatmeal dominates the Eisner Best Digital comic category as “the one that most people have heard of.” That’s pretty much in direct contrast to last year, which was populated by five relatively obscure titles. It’s a testament, I think, to the far-reaching diversity of webcomics, where few ever become pop culture superstars but many have devoted fanbase. You had indie-style comics like Ant Comic and It Will All Hurt, the haunting short story Our Bloodstained Roof and the classic Thimble Theater-inspired art of Oyster War.
The eventual winner, though, was the one that most closely resembled a traditional comic. Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover’s Bandette (Monkeybrain Comics) was the first Eisner winner that had to be downloaded from comiXology — a true “digital comic” as opposed to a “webcomic.” I imagine that the familiar panel layout was the one least likely to send traditionalists into paroxysms. Heck, the tone of the story itself feels very much like a throwback to both Silver Age comic stories and European all-ages fare like The Adventures of Tintin. But so what? It’s old school, and in a way that made it refreshingly novel.
The announcement late last month that digital distributor Graphicly would close and its key employees join self-publishing platform Blurb was met immediately by questions, many of which centered on whether the company’s clients will be paid what they’re owed.
Originally envisioned as “iTunes for comics,” Boulder, Colorado-based Graphicly was soon overshadowed by competitor comiXology, and in 2012 shuttered its comics app to focus instead on providing visually based books and comics to eBook platforms. In its most recent incarnation, Graphicly was a digital conversion and distribution service: For a fee of $150, the company would convert a comic to ePub and other formats and distribute it to digital platforms such as Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Apple’s iBooks. Graphicly would then act as middleman, collecting money from sales on those platforms and passing it along to the creators. Unlike other digital comics distributors, Graphicly didn’t take a cut of sales on eBook platforms, just the upfront fee.
Since Graphicly announced its closing on May 27, a number of creators have asserted publicly that the company wasn’t tracking sales correctly and hasn’t paid them what they’re owed from sales. Bleeding Cool spoke to Dave Dellecese and representatives of Th3rd World Studios, as well as a former Graphicly employee. At The Beat, Marc Ellerby and Mike Garley told similar stories, and Eric Grissom and Dara Naraghi added their names in the comments. Ellerby tweeted:
More than 500 volumes of such top-selling manga as One Piece, Naruto and Death Note debuted today on comiXology as part of a new North American distribution agreement with Viz Media.
The publisher, which already had its own self-contained app for multiple platforms, brought its digital catalog to the Amazon Kindle in October; just days later, comiXology announced a deal to distribute titles from Viz Media Europe and its subsidiary Kazé to French-speaking European countries. Amazon purchased comiXology in April.
Nearly two months after Amazon announced the purchase of comiXology, the first title from the retail giant’s Jet City Comics imprint has debuted on the digital comics platform.
Wool: The Graphic Novel, an adaptation of the bestselling sci-fi novel by Hugh Howey, will be serialized in six biweekly issues beginning today on comiXology for $2.99 each. The full run is also available for $4.99 on Amazon.com as a Kindle Serial, with new issues arriving on the same schedule; comiXology will offer a $4.99 bundle once all six installments have been released.
A dark, dystopian story set on a post-apocalyptic Earth, Wool was published in 2011 by Howey as a novelette through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing system. As it attracted a following, he wrote more installments, which became the bestselling Silo Series. The graphic novel is written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray and illustrated by Jimmy Broxton; a print edition will be released in August.
Amazon launched its Jet City imprint in July 2013, intending to serialize its titles for the Kindle, and then offer bundled digital editions and print collections. Naturally with the acquisition of comiXology in April, the distribution channels expanded.
While many of us spent Monday barbecuing, watching X-Men: Days of Future Past or otherwise enjoying the day off from work, comiXology got a jump on the season with the launch of its “Summer Reading List,” offering one free digital comic a day for 20 days.
The initiative debuted with Detective Comics #827, by Scott Snyder, Jock and Francesco Francavilla, the issue that began the writer’s celebrated run on Batman. What’s today’s selection? It’s a good question, one that should be answered any … second … now.
Last year at Comic-Con International, comixology teamed with The Hero Initiative for an event that drew in top industry names to create The Blank Page Project, a massive jam board filled with sketches and signatures, all to benefit the nonprofit organization. One source says the mural is 10 feet by 12 feet, and another says it’s 9 feet by 13 feet. Whatever the case, it’s big, and it’s now up for auction by Heritage Auctions.
Among the contributors to the piece are Tim Bradstreet, Jeffrey Brown, Mark Buckinham, Chris Burnham, Amanda Conner, Colleen Coover, Paul Cornell, Nick Dragotta, Kevin Eastman, Ulisies Farinas, Christos Gage, Sterling Gates, Dave Gibbons, Steven Grant, Lea Hernandez, Phil Jimenez, Denis Kitchen, Ron Marz, Bill Morrison, Jerry Ordway, Jimmy Palmiotti, George Perez, Nate Powell, Norm Rapmund, Stjepan Sejic, Walt Simonson, Bruce Timm, Paul Tobin and Mark Waid.
See the full piece below. Online bidding continues through May 15; the auction will be held May 15-17 in Dallas.
Publishing | I talked with TOON Books founder Francoise Mouly about her new imprint, TOON Graphics, which will feature “visual books” (picture books and comics) for readers ages 8 and up. The line launches with three titles: Theseus and the Minotaur, by Yves Pommaux, Cast Away on the Letter A, by Fred, and Hansel and Gretel, retold by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Lorenzo Mattotti. [Publishers Weekly]
Commentary | Former DC Comics senior editor Joan Hilty tackles the issue of sexism in comics and calls for publishers to include more women in their senior editorial rank:. “Women are getting the bestselling books into stores and greenlighting the million-dollar movie franchises, but they’re barely represented among the creative executives who map out the universes and storytelling strategies. That’s where you cement broad-based, long-term loyalty to authors and characters, tap new audiences and trends, and grow readership, without which none of those books or movies would exist.” [The Guardian]
Creators | Robot 6 contributor J. Caleb Mozzocco interviews Danica Novgorodoff about The Undertaking of Lily Chen, her graphic novel about a young man who sets out to find a female corpse to be buried with his dead brother—and winds up with a woman who is very much alive. [Good Comics for Kids]
Creators | Audrey Niffenegger, author of the prose novel The Time Traveler’s Wife and the graphic novel The Night Bookmobile, describes how she collaborated with Eddie Campbell to make a comic for special comics issue of The Guardian’s Weekend magazine. [The Guardian]
I used to wake up every Wednesday, grab my iPad and start downloading comics via comiXology before getting out of bed. Apparently those days are over, and I’ll now be … well, hitting a different button to make my purchases, then jumping back over to comiXology to actually download them.
If you missed it, comiXology implemented what many predicted would happen when they were bought by Amazon — they’ve removed their storefront from their iOS apps and are instructing iPad and iPhone customers to go to their website to purchase comics. Android users will also see a change, as comiXology removed the ability to pay through Google and added the ability to pay with either a credit card or PayPal. It’s nice that on the Android side they have the option to add their own shopping cart, but of course, with iOS devices, there’s only one way to pay, and that way involves 30 percent of the sale going to Apple.
Manga | The 13 volumes to date of Hajime Isayama’s dystopian fantasy Attack on Titan have sold a combined 30.37 million copies in Japan, making the manga only the third series to do so since market research firm Oricon began tracking the numbers in 2009 (the first two were, of course, mega-hits One Piece and Naruto). [Anime News Network]
Digital comics | John Casteele considers the acquisition of comiXology from Amazon’s point of view: “It’s easy to see how the ComiXology purchase is going to benefit Amazon. Access to the ComiXology platform not only provides the company with additional revenues from the growing digital comics market and to the comic series that had the highest-selling single issue in 2013 (The Walking Dead, which also had five of the top 10 best-selling graphic novels for the year). It could also provide synergy with Jet City Comics and the Kindle, giving both access to the ComiXology publishing platform. Amazon could also use its Kindle platform to further refine the ComiXology’s ‘Comics’ app, which is already available for the Kindle Fire but might enjoy more direct integration in the future.” [Business Insider]
Conventions | The organizers of the Supanova pop culture festival in Melbourne, Australia, triggered a social-media firestorm after removing a comic by artist Scarlette Baccini from her table because of explicit sexual content. The festival has a strict ban on pornography, and other adult material must be kept sealed and away from children. One of the organizers stopped by Baccini’s table, flipped through her Jesus Reloadeth’d, and saw a drawing of two men having sex, so he removed the comic. Baccini posted about the incident on Facebook, triggering accusations of homophobia against the event organizers. However, they responded that the issue was the explicitness of the image, not that it depicted two men. [SameSame]
Auctions | A rare copy of The Beano #1 from July 1938 — only about 25 copies are believed to exist — is being auctioned on eBay by Seaford, England, dealer Phil Shrimpton. With just four days remaining, the opening bid of £3,499 (about $5,875 U.S.) has yet to be met. As you can see on the website, the copy certainly isn’t in the best shape. The issue, which sold a reported 442,963 copies when it was released, introduced such characters as original cover star Big Eggo the ostrich, Lord Snooty, Wee Peem and Ping the Elastic Man (the racist caricature in the magazine’s logo is Little Peanut, who stuck around on the cover until 1947, when he was replaced by Big Eggo). “Every year or so another one seems to emerge – often found in someone’s attic,” Shrimpton says. “People didn’t really look at comics as collector’s items until the sixties and seventies, so lots of them got destroyed. Also a lot of the comics were destroyed during the war as people were more conscious about recycling the old issues.” [The Argus]
“No idea has proven more damaging to the comics industry than the myth that its professionals — not just creators, but retailers, even distributors — work for love and not money. It’s a philosophy that has justified exploitation of creators and theft of intellectual property. It’s allowed the entire industry to pass the buck for its failures — from publishers to retailers, and retailers to — for decades. And it’s why the comics industry lingers in a frozen adolescence, clinging to a shrinking target audience like a sea captain railing at the storm — when the real problem is the rotting wood of his own hull.”
– Rachel Edidin, former Dark Horse editor turned freelance writer and editor, addressing reactions to Amazon’s announced purchase of comiXology for Wired.com
Digital comics | In today’s Amazon-acquires-comiXology article, Rachel Edidin deflates much of the hype, and the panic, surrounding the deal, pointing out that comics distribution is already a monopoly, large corporations already run the comics market, and comics have been available on Kindle all along: “Is the concern […] a distribution monopoly? If so, the direct market is in no position to criticize: over the last 15 years, Diamond Comics Distributors has consumed almost all independent print distribution in comics, and dictates practices and policy to retailers and publishers alike. The idea that print comics are somehow more independent than their digital cousins — or a scrappy underdog fighting the good fight against evil corporate profiteers — is frankly ridiculous.” [Wired]
Awards | Michael Cavna talks with Kevin Siers of the Charlotte Observer about winning the Pulitzer Prize in cartooning. [Comic Riffs]