"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
After last year’s comiXology server blackout, I asked the digital comics provider to drop the leasing arrangement it was using. I was not the first or the last to protest the use of DRM, or digital rights management, technology to prevent people from owning a file of the comic they just purchased. It has consistently been a point of contention for a segment of potential customers, and now our wish is granted. comiXology shook up Comic-Con by announcing they are now offering true downloads of DRM-free back-up files for purchased digital comics.
Top Shelf Productions is again celebrating Comic-Con International with a “Cyber-Con Sale,” offering deep discounts on 150 digital titles, including March Book One, Monster on the Hill, God is Disappointed in You, American Elf and From Hell.
The publisher’s “biggest digital sale ever” also includes Eddie Campbell’s Bacchus, available now for the first time in digital form. (All of the Top Shelf titles are DRM-free, too, and downloadable in PDF, CBZ or ePub formats.)
But for the Top Shelf aficionado, there’s this: comiXology’s Top Shelf Treasury, featuring 172 titles — every comic and graphic novel the publisher offers on the digital platform, more than 25,000 pages in all — for $149.99. As Chris Ross, Top Shelf’s director of digital publishing, said today during the company’s Comic-Con International panel, that collection would give readers “a bachelor’s degree in independent comics.”
The “Cyber-Con Sale” ends when Comic-Con does — Sunday. So you’ll have to act fast.
The biggest comics news Thursday out of Comic-Con International was undoubtedly that, after years of debate, comiXology has introduced DRM-free backups of titles purchased from its storefront, with Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, MonkeyBrain Comics, Thrillbent, Top Shelf Productions and Zenescope Entertainment signing on to the program.
An email went out last night notifying customers that books they’ve purchased can be downloaded and stored as PDF or CBZ files, and pointing them to an FAQ on the subject.
“This has been an oft-requested feature,” comiXology CEO David Steinberger said during the company’s Comic-Con panel. “It’s a real backup file — it’s a fairly plain PDF or CBZ. They are high resolution, not a lot of bells and whistles, and my feeling is that people will continue to use the cloud-based reader to do their reading.”
The other big announcement was that Marvel will publish Avengers: Age of Ultron, an in-continuity graphic novel by the Uncanny X-Force team of Rick Remender, Jerome Opeña and Dean White scheduled to arrive in April 2015, ahead of the premiere of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
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]