SPIDER-MANDATE: The Lowe-down on "Secret Wars," Tie-Ins and Stacey Lee
Sales charts | Dollar sales of comics sold through Diamond Comic Distributors were up more than 15 percent in August, while graphic novel dollar sales rose by more than 31 percent when compared to the year-ago period. ICv2 puts the gains in perspective, noting that comic sales were down 17 percent in August 2010 and graphic novel sales were down 21 percent. August 2010 also had four ship weeks compared to August 2011’s five. DC Comics topped the August charts with Justice League #1, followed by Flashpoint #5, Fear Itself #5, Flashpoint #4 and Ultimate Comics Fallout #4. Serenity Better Days and Other Stories from Dark Horse was the no. 1 graphic novel for August. John Jackson Miller offers commentary as well as a look at the best-selling comics of this century, a list that will include Justice League #1. [ICv2, Comichron]
Comics | The Centers for Disease Control has awarded a roughly $145,000 contract to Terminus Media to create motion comics to educate young people about HIV. The comics will be offered on “internet-capable platforms” including desktop computers, laptop computers, video gaming systems, wireless phones and tablet computers. [Politico, Via]
Retailers | Little Island Comics — “the first kids comic book store in North America–maybe even the world” — opens its doors today in Toronto. The store is owned and operated by The Beguiling, and is located around the corner from the flagship store. The store will hold an official grand opening in a few weeks. [The Comics Reporter]
Publishing | DC Comics co-publisher and Justice League artist Jim Lee discusses his work on DC’s flagship title, which came out in digital form last Wednesday, the same day it hit comic shops. “It’s also setting records digitally. I can’t give numbers, but on the first day it set a record for us,” Lee tells Heidi MacDonald.
That leads Tom Spurgeon to throw a flag on the play: “… it looks like DC won’t be releasing its New 52 digital numbers but will feel confident in making claims on their behalf. It also looks like comics sites will then repeat this claim as news, perhaps qualified by source or as a claim but still putting that information out there. This should stop. I think DC has a really dubious history with using the hidden portions of their numbers to PR advantage — call it the ‘I have a girlfriend in Canada’ of sales analysis. My take is that this practice has intensified slightly ever since the numbers have become smaller and therefore more crucial. When in the 1990s sales on mainstream comics dipped to the point where people questioned the profitability of certain issues of certain titles, perhaps leading to a line of analysis about mainstream publishers making books at a loss for market share advantages or to knock other comics from the limited stand space, we were sometimes assured that there were sales elsewhere we didn’t know about that pushed certain comics over this projected threshold.” [Salon, The Comics Reporter]
If you’ve been a comic fan for any length of time, you’ve come to appreciate the talent and skills of certain creators. Whether they be mainstream heavyweights to cult-favorite indie cartoonists, they’re a big draw for you as a reader — and someone whose work you’d buy, sight unseen, based on their previous work you’ve loved. But just like childhood friends and lovers, sometimes they disappear, and a small piece of you longs to see them again.
Without getting too sentimental, here’s a list of some comic creators I’ve grown to love over the years that have (unfortunately) dropped off the American comics scene by-and-large. If you know them, tell them I’d raid my bank account for new work by them!
Brian K. Vaughan: Arguably one of the 21st century’s most successful creator-owned comic creators outside of Robert Kirkman, Brian K. Vaughan worked through the ranks at Marvel and DC to do both great company-owned superheroes like Runaways and The Hood, and his own inventions. After signing on to the TV series Lost, Vaughan has slowly drifted away from comics with his last series Ex Machina ending last year. DC just put out a collection of his Batman work, but no new work has been formally announced. In Vaughan’s last major recent interview, the writer states that while he’s become embroiled in movies and television, he “craves comics.” Among several television and movie projects in the works, Vaughan says that he has new comics stuff “percolating in the background.”
Even in a Nu-Marvel-era X-Men line that included Grant Morrison’s New X-Men and Peter Milligan & Mike Allred’s X-Statix, the Cable reboot Soldier X was a weird, wild, wonderful standout. Written by Darko Macan and illustrated by Igor Kordey, the series offered an almost absurdist take on the superhero concept, with a never-more-powerful Cable struggling with his methods and motives while tracking a super-powered Russian peasant girl. Though it’s never been collected in trade paperback, the series has become a cult favorite, with writers like Joe “Jog” McCulloch and yours truly praising the way it both explored and exploded the character and the genre.
Now you can find out for yourself what the fuss is about: Marvel will be rolling out the book’s first five issues at its Digital Comics Unlimited site all week long, for absolutely free. Issue #1, which sets the scene, is already up. Give it a shot and let us know what you think!
When Chris Mautner asked if I’d be willing to take a crack at writing the “Collect This Now!” column during my guest-blogging stint, I said yes precisely because of this book. And when I informed him of my intentions, he said he was glad, because Marvel hadn’t yet been tackled in the column.
This stands to reason, given that we’re now seven years or so deep into Marvel’s “collect-everything-we-publish” plan — what’s left to collect? The answer is Soldier X. Written by Darko Macan and illustrated by Igor Kordey, this short-lived, Cable-starring series is wild, weird and wonderful, even by the far-out standards of the late Bill Jemas era. That’s probably what dooms it to TPB-less obscurity, but it’s also why I’m still so fond of it.