Axel-In-Charge: Waid & Samnee on "Black Widow" and the Dawn of the All-New, All-Different Era
Retailing | Variety Comics, which opened in Chicago in summer 1974, will close its doors for good Halloween. “Business is down,” says co-owner Vin Nguyen. “It’s sad but you know, it is what it is.” Nguyen and his partner Victor Olivarez bought the store in 2009 following the death of original owner Rick Vitone. [DNAInfo]
Conventions | The Houston Press looks at allegations of organizational problems and financial mismanagement at the Houston-based convention Anime Matsuri, which has been growing steadily (attendance at this year’s event was 24,000), despite leaving a trail of lawsuits, unpaid bills and angry guests. [Houston Press]
It would be an exaggeration to say Dark Horse saved this 22-year-old Aliens one-shot from obscurity by re-publishing it in a slick, if slim, new hardcover, although it’s tempting to do so, if only for the play on words.
In reality, re-releasing Aliens: Salvation in this nice, standalone, bookshelf-ready format probably has as much to do with putting out one more book with Mike Mignola’s name on the spine as making sure that one of the better-looking, more idiosyncratically designed Aliens tie-ins is readily available.
The fact that it’s back in print and on shelves this week is more important than the how and why of it, though.
It’s penciled by Mignola, who also drew the original cover as well as what appears to be a new one (in his current, even more stripped-down style), from a script by Dave Gibbons. It’s inked by Kevin Nowlan, colored by Matt Hollingsworth and lettered by Clem Robins.
Conventions | After a profitable 2014, Wizard World Inc. is reporting a $1.8 million loss in the second quarter of 2015 (in contrast to a $760,000 profit during the same period last year), owing much to the rapid increase in the number of conventions it’s producing. However, as ICv2.com notes, the company is also seeing a drop in revenue per show. Wizard World also reports that its inaugural convention in China, held May 30-June 1, “was not as successful as we anticipated.” [ICv2]
Legal | Game company SNK Playmore has dropped its charges against manga publisher Square Enix and will allow the manga Hi Score Girl to use its characters without penalty. Last year, SNK filed a criminal complaint against Square Enix, charging that the manga, a comedy about gamers, included more than 100 instances of unauthorized use of SNK Playmore’s characters. As a result, serialization of the manga was suspended while police pursued charges against 16 of the people involved in its publication. Today, Square Enix announced that the two companies have reached an agreement: SNK Playmore has dropped its claim, and the two companies will work together with regard to sharing their characters. [Anime News Network]
Comics | How do you say “Bam! Pow!” in Russian? A group of Russian translators is calling for comics translators to use words derived from the official languages of the Russian Federation rather than simply rendering the existing sound effects in the Russian alphabet. “In comic books you can often encounter words imitating sounds,” the translators said in a letter to the Vinogradov Russian Language Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. “How can one express the sound of a phone ringing, of a creaky door, or a soda can being popped open, or the crinkle of an ice cream wrapper, or the sound of a motorcyclist’s foot rubbing against the ground? Often translators simply transliterate the English words.” Instead, they recommend using indigenous substitutes such as “chorkh” (scratching) and “khurt-khurt” (swallowing), both derived from Lezgian, a language spoken in Dagestan and Azerbaijan. [The Moscow Times, The Calvert Journal]
With their powers combined, Dark Horse Comics and Swyft Media have taken “Hellboy,” “Itty Bitty Hellboy” and “Usagi Yojimbo” into all-new territory with a series of emoji keyboards based on the properties, each of which will provide digital stickers, photo filters and phone themes of the characters.
The emoji keyboards will be available in several apps and marketplaces, including BBM, Photofy, PicsArt, CocoPPa, and Xbox Live Marketplace, as well as in the Apple iTunes App Store for iOS and the Google Play Store for Android. The apps will allow the emoji keyboards to be used in services like Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Viber, LINE, Skype, WhatsApp and more. “Hellboy,” “Itty Bitty Hellboy” and “Usagi Yojimbo” are just three of the upcoming Dark Horse properties that will find their ways to a digital audience.
Manga | Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama is writing a new series, to be illustrated by Video Girl Ai artist Masakazu Katsura. The series will run in Young Jump magazine in Japan. [Anime News Network]
Libraries | Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s YA graphic novel This One Summer was the first graphic novel to be named a Caldecott Honor Book, but being a pioneer isn’t easy: Because the Caldecott Medal honors illustrators, most librarians think of Caldecott honor books as being for younger readers. Answering a complaint from a librarian, Pat Scales, former chair of the American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee, points out that the Caldecott Medal is awarded to books for readers up to age 14, and that This One Summer is generally regarded as an eighth grade book—so it qualifies, but it is an unusual case. [School Library Journal]
Dark Horse will release Makoto Yukimura’s acclaimed hard sci-fi manga Planetes in an omnibus format, debuting in December. The listing was spotted on Amazon by Brian Ruh, and then confirmed by Anime News Network.
The series centers on the crew of the Toy Box, orbital debris collectors tasked with snaring and disposing of any “trash” — from screws to old satellites — that could possibly damage or destroy space stations and spacecraft. Both the manga and its anime adaptation won prestigious Seiun Awards for speculative fiction.
Tokyopop previously licensed Planetes in North America, and published all four volumes between 2003 and 2005.
Blade of the Immortal, Hiroaki Samura’s samurai tale, reaches the end of its long run this week with the publication of Volume 31. Dark Horse began publishing the series in 1996, at a time when manga was not only flipped but chopped into single-issue comics. The world has changed a lot since then, and so has Blade. Samura spent almost 20 years writing and drawing the series, and his storytelling style evolved quite a bit over the years.
Samura’s superb art belies the startling violence of his story: Manji, a renegade samurai, cannot die because his body harbors bloodworms that heal every wound. To shake the curse of immortality, he must kill 1,000 evil men. This task gains focus when he teams with Rin, the daughter of a dojo master whose father was slain in front of her; she seeks not only to avenge his death but also to stop his killers from slaughtering the members of the other dojos to consolidate the power of their own school of fighting, Ittō-ryū. Samura fills the pages with baroque villains and and elaborate weapons of his own invention. The early volumes have a punk feel to them, but eventually he settles into a more traditional style.
Conventions | The annual scramble for discounted Comic-Con International rooms in 54 participating hotels kicks off Tuesday at 9 a.m. PT. Comic-Con badger holders should’ve already received an email containing a link to the Travel Planners hotel reservation website. [Toucan]
Passings | Michael Cavna remembers cartoonist Jim Berry, who died Friday at age 83: “Berry’s World, the syndicated single-panel feature that he drew for 40 years, beginning in 1963, was a remarkably steady stream of thoughtful observational humor that — like the unfussy art itself — rarely seemed to strain for the laugh. Each gag, as steady as a top golfer’s approach shots, just ‘landed.’ Precision meets concision.” [Comic Riffs]
Conventions | Ace Parking, which manages parking at the San Diego Convention Center and six other nearby lots, will move to a lottery system this year to assign permits for Comic-Con International (those lots are Hilton Garage, Petco Lots, Padres Parkade, Diamond View Tower, Horton Plaza and Gaslamp City Square). For a shot at one of those spaces, you have to email Ace Parking by April 12. A drawing will be held on April 15, with the winners receiving information about how to purchase permits for their assigned location. See the full details on the Ace Parking website. [SDCC Unofficial Blog]
Dark Horse has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive first look at three limited-edition variant covers produced for the upcoming Emerald City Comicon: Lady Killer #1 by Joëlle Jones, Past Aways #1 by Scott Kolins, and Fire and Stone: Prometheus—Omega #1 by Patric Reynolds.
Limited to just 500 copies, each variant will available for $5 throughout the show, while supplies last, at the Dark Horse booth (#802). There will also be an ECCC variant for Frankenstein Underground, the new miniseries by Mike Mignola, Ben Stenbeck and Dave Stewart.
Manga | Dark Horse has announced the September release of Astro Boy Omnibus Volume 1, an oversized collection featuring nearly 700 pages of Osamu Tezuka’s most popular creation, billed as the first in a series. The news follows the recent announcement of the publisher’s oversized editions of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service. [Dark Horse]
Publishing | David Carter takes a hard look at Vertigo as part of his analysis of DC Comics’ December sales. He notes that most of the series are selling poorly (under — often well under — 15,000 copies) and speculates that the reason may be that creators, even those who do work for DC, are taking their creator-owned books to Image Comics. He also thinks Vertigo’s trade policy isn’t working, as releasing the trades early and pricing the first one low encourages readers to skip the monthly comics — but then there’s a high probability they will forget about a new series altogether. [The Beat]
Though they’re remaining committed to a recent wave of new creator-owned books, Dark Horse has shifted its sales strategy for a trio of lower performing series.
The publisher announced this week that The Ghost Fleet from Donny Cates and Daniel Warren Johnson, Resurrectionists by Fred Van Lente and Maurizio Rosenzweig and Sundowners by Tim Seeley and Jim Terry would all shift their monthly comic output to digital first series. Plans for print graphic novels collecting the continued stories remain in place for the fall.
Last weekend, Todd Allen wrote at The Beat that he had spotted some Dark Horse comics on the newsstand at Books-A-Million, now the second-largest bookstore chain in the country. That piqued my interest, as newsstand sales have proved to be a challenge for most comics publishers for decades now, so I got in touch with Matt Parkinson, Dark Horse’s vice president of marketing, who answered some questions about the company’s newsstand sales at Books-A-Million and its used-book subsidiary 2nd & Charles.
Robot 6: First of all, what has Dark Horse’s newsstand presence been like in recent years?
Matt Parkinson: Since the early ’90s, Dark Horse had placed titles on the newsstand through various distributors. In recent years we only enjoyed strong sales if the comic had a blockbuster movie tied to it or some major media component. Ultimately, due to the reduction of available display space and the resulting decline in sales, we discontinued all newsstand distribution in fall 2014. We would consider returning to newsstand distribution if a title demonstrated mass-market appeal.