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DC Comics is calling June “Superman Month,” but next week is Snyder Week. The first issue of Scott Snyder and Jim Lee’s Superman Unchained arrives next Wednesday, and the premiere of director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel premieres in most places two days later.
Therefore, because there will be a lot of Superman talk coming down the pike, I thought I’d get mine out of the way early.
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One thing that comics blogging has taught me is a healthy respect for the roles (including the rights) of creators. Creators’ rights aren’t unique to comics, of course, but you really can’t talk about the history of superhero comics, or the development of corporately handled superheroes, without at least acknowledging the people who first introduced the concepts. In this respect Superman is a special case, because he seems to have developed past his creators’ original idea (or, certainly, past the original parameters) into something Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster might never have imagined — and people seem pretty cool with that, in a way that perhaps doesn’t apply to similarly long-lived characters.
You may have already heard about Orbital Comics’ Image Duplicator art show in London (probably via this piece at The Beat): This story is right in my wheelhouse, but I was resisting writing about it until there was a large enough stockpile of art from it to present here. The show is a reaction both to the recent Roy Lichtenstein exhibition at the city’s already-iconic Tate Modern gallery, and to the BBC’s coverage of the event (which I wrote about at the time elsewhere).
Dave Gibbons is a long-standing critic of Lichtenstein (you can find footage online of him complaining about what he calls Lichtenstein’s “dishonesty” from as far back as 1993). Gibbons appeared on the BBC’s documentary to put the case for the accusations of plagiarism that may always dog Lichtenstein’s reputation. The segment featuring Gibbons debating with presenter Alastair Sooke was filmed in front of the famous “Whaam!” canvas. Sooke was all too dismissive of Irv Novick, somewhat deriding his work in order to flatter Lichtenstein. It seems odd Sooke chose to criticize Novick’s compositional decisions and praise Lichtenstein’s, when every element of Roy’s piece was lifted from Irv’s. Anyway, these new perceived slights seem to have been enough to stir Rian Hughes, Jason Atomic, and the Orbital Gallery regulars into action.
Conventions | Small Press Expo organizers apologized to exhibitors for the problems they experienced trying to register for the show. Despite several server upgrades ahead of time, the site went down when the “tsunami” of applications hit on Sunday morning. They then opened up PayPal to take the table orders, but they were unable to shut it down when all the tables were sold. They are sorting it out now, and if the tables were oversold, refunds will be issued. Roger Langridge depicted his registration experience on his blog. [SPX Tumblr]
Publishing | After 13 years of publishing and promoting yuri manga, Erica Friedman is stepping down as Yuricon events chair and giving up on publishing: “I can’t afford print, you don’t want digital, the JP companies won’t talk to me and all the many differences between JP publishers and US fans are so huge and insurmountable. I don’t have the energy or clout or money to bridge the gap.” [Okazu]
— Dave Gibbons, responding with humor to the news that his original cover art for Watchmen #1 fetched $155,350 at auction on Friday, many times what he originally sold it for. (As the artist recently noted, the covers were included in an agreement for the original pages to all 12 issues of the landmark series.) “I thought I had a great deal. At the time,” he added in response to a tweet.
The original covers for the first three issues brought a total of $216,892.50 at the New York City auction. The covers for Watchmen #4-12 are expected to be put up for sale later this year.
Vintage comics and original comic art brought in $4.4 million over the weekend during a Heritage auction in New York City, Artinfo reports. Among the bigger sales were a CGC-graded 6.5 copy of Detective Comics #27, for $567,625, and John Romita Sr.’s original cover for The Amazing Spider-Man #121, which fetched $286,800.
As we noted on Friday, Dave Gibbons’ original cover art for Watchmen #1 sold for $155,350, with the first three covers going for a combined $216,892.50. John Higgins’ color guide for the first cover was bought for $7,767.50. The remaining covers for the 12-issue landmark series are expected to go up for auction later this year.
Wired.com delves into the history of the 12 covers, which were purchased at a Sotheby’s auction in 1993 by former Wizard Publisher Gareb Shamus for what’s been reported to be in the neighborhood of $26,000. The article doesn’t repeat that figure, but it does say what was paid was “a bargain price” (for instance, Higgins’ color guide for the cover of Watchmen #1 was picked up for $50, which was then five to 10 times the usual price).
Dave Gibbons’ original cover art for Watchmen #1-3 sold today at auction for a combined $216,892.50. The first cover, featuring the iconic blood-splattered smiley face, was responsible for the lion’s share of that total, bringing in $155,350 alone. They were joined by John Higgins’ color guide for the cover of Watchmen #1, which went for $7,767.50.
Part of the $1.4 million Shamus Modern Masterworks, accumulated in the 1980s and ’90s by retailer Martin Shamus, father of Wizard magazine founder Gareb Shamus, the Watchmen covers were included in Heritage’s Heritage’s Vintage Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction, held today and Saturday in New York City. Consigned last year to Heritage, the collection already has produced one remarkable sale: Todd McFarlane’s original cover art for The Amazing Spider-Man #328 fetched $657,250 in July, breaking the record for a single piece of American comics art set in 2011 by a splash page from The Dark Knight Returns #3 ($448,125).
Heritage’s Vintage Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction also includes John Romita Sr.’s original cover art for The Amazing Spider-Man #121, an original Calvin and Hobbes strip by Bill Watterson, and 10 pages from Dave Sim’s Cerebus: High Society.
Gibbons’ covers for Watchmen #4-12 reportedly will be put up for sale later this year.
Asked by A Moment of Cerebus whether the sale was part of the “Doomsday Scenario” he outlined last summer in Glamourpuss #26, Sim explained, “Well, in a sense, when you’re 57 years old in the comic-book field, everything is a Doomsday Scenario. I set this in motion by calling Lon and finding out if Heritage was interested, which they were. Very. So, that was very gratifying. But you have to start early. It’s a long process of negotiation and I knew that would be the case. I set that in motion and then John and I did the Kickstarter campaign which didn’t require AS early a start. It was successful but I guessed the money wouldn’t last much past the end of the year with all the overhead and that was what happened. Lon and I weren’t ready for the November auction which is what we originally planned. There was still some negotiating to do. But we were ready for the February auction. Lead time. Everything is lead time.”
Bidding continues online through Thursday, with the sale scheduled for Friday in New York City as part of Heritage Auctions’ Vintage Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction.
The iconic blood-splattered smiley face cover for Watchmen #1 is among a handful of original artwork from the seminal 1986 miniseries by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons up for sale next month as part of a Heritage Auctions signature auction in New York City.
Described by the auction house as “historic” and a “DC masterwork,” the 10-inch by 15-inch image is joined by Gibbons’ covers for Watchmen #2 and #3, John Higgins’ color guide for the cover of Issue 1, a page from Issue 7, and a page and color guide from Issue 8.
The pieces are part of the $1.4 million Shamus Modern Masterworks, accumulated in the 1980s and ’90s by retailer Martin Shamus, father of Wizard magazine founder Gareb Shamus. Consigned last year to Heritage, the collection already has produced one remarkable sale: Todd McFarlane’s original cover art for The Amazing Spider-Man #328 fetched $657,250 in July, shattering the record for a single piece of American comics art set in 2011 by a splash page from The Dark Knight Returns #3 ($448,125).
Online bidding for the Watchmen art begins Feb. 2. The auction will be held Feb. 21-22 at the Ukrainian Institute of America at The Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion in New York City.
“It’s a more serious version of Superman. It’s not like a heart attack. We took the mythology seriously. We take him as a character seriously. I believe the movie would appeal to anyone. I think that you’re going to see a Superman you’ve never seen before. We approached it as though no other films had been made. He’s the king-daddy. Honestly that’s why I wanted to do it. I’m interested in Superman because he’s the father of all superheroes. He’s this amazing ambassador for all superheroes. What was it about him that cracked the code that made pop culture embrace this other mythology? What we‘ve made as a film not only examines that but is also an amazing adventure story. It’s been an honor to work on. As a comic book fan, Superman is like the Rosetta Stone of all superheroes. I wanted to be sure the movie treated it respectfully.”
– Man of Steel director Zack Snyder, discussing his upcoming reboot of Warner Bros.’ Superman franchise, as well as his 2009 adaptation of Watchmen
Legal | South African President Jacob Zuma has formally withdrawn his defamation lawsuit against cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro (who goes by the pen name Zapiro) and will pay a portion of his court costs as well. Zuma dropped part of the case last week, a claim of 4 million rand for “impairment of dignity.” A spokesman for Zuma said the president had more important things on his mind and didn’t want to set a precedent that “may have the effect of limiting the public exercise of free speech.” [The Citizen]
Passings | The Catalan artist Jose Luis Ferrer, who signed himself simply “Ferrer,” died Monday of a brain tumor. Ferrer’s work appeared in 2000AD, Starlord and other British comics, but he was an international artist with work published in Germany, France, Sweden and the United States as well. [Down the Tubes]
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d start with a couple of Marvel firsts, even though one of them isn’t technically a first issue: Uncanny Avengers #1 ($3.99) and Red She-Hulk #58 ($2.99). This is the first week of Marvel NOW, and they’re starting with books by creative teams I’m excited about. Next I’d get Stumptown V2 #2 ($3.99) and wind things up with the Halloween Eve one-shot. I actually supported the Kickstarter for the latter, so my copy is probably already on the way to my mailbox, but hypothetically let’s assume that it wasn’t. It’s by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder, two creators whose work I’ve enjoyed in the past. So if it wasn’t coming to me in the mail, it would come home in a paper bag from the comic shop.
If I had $30, I’d add an outgoing Marvel title (Marvel THEN?), Fantastic Four #611, which features the end of Hickman’s run before he moves on to Avengers and Matt Fraction takes over the first family of Marveldom. Next I’d grab Green Lantern Corps #13 ($2.99) as I like the direction the GL books have been headed in lately, and Conan #9 ($3.50), the second half of Brian Wood’s collaboration with Vasilis Lolos. Finally, I’d grab Point of Impact #1 ($2.99), the new crime book by Jay Faerber and Koray Kuranel.
This is a splurge in price only; if I had $50, then Chris Ware’s Building Stories would definitely have been at the top of my buy list this week. It’s a big box of little comics, as Chris put it, and as luck would have it I really do have $50 in gift certificates that I got for my birthday to buy it with. Thanks Mom and Dad!
Publishing | IDW Publishing CEO Ted Adams discusses the company’s new IDW Limited program, which will produce small print runs of deluxe editions that will be marketed direct to the consumer. How small? The print run for the Blue Label edition of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 1 Deluxe Limited Edition will be 10 copies. “The only fair thing to do is to give the fans direct access on a first come first served basis,” he said. “We’re putting an incredible emphasis on quality, and that directly affects the quantity of books IDW Limited can produce. We’re designing new covers, building custom cases and paying the artists to do hand drawn sketch work to go with these books. The reality is that that’s all very expensive and unfortunately it makes it difficult for us to offer this line at the deep discount needed for traditional retail distribution.” [ICv2]
Libraries | Following the firestorm sparked last month when a youth library in Stockholm briefly removed Tintin comics because of their racial caricatures of Africans and Arabs, a survey finds that 10 percent of Swedish libraries have removed or restricted Herge’s books due to “racist content.” [The Local]
If you didn’t have the massive ticket price for MorrisonCon last weekend, perhaps this is more your speed: the fifth annual Dundee Comics Day at the University of Dundee, Scotland. Much of the day’s event sounds like a redux of the program for Morrison’s high-end Sin City shindig, sans the pop magick angle:
The Dundee Comics day once again welcomes a stellar line-up of top industry talent, this time to celebrate the comics of award-winning Scottish writer Grant Morrison (MBE). Grant will be discussing his approach to writing comics, his thoughts about superheroes, as expressed in his recent book Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero, and his experience of working with some of the best comics artists in the industry.
This exploration of the comics of Grant Morrison is timely given his recent award of an MBE, but also because the University of Dundee is currently leading the way in the emerging field of Comics Studies with modules on comics at Undergraduate and postgraduate level, including the UK’s first MLitt in Comics Studies in the School of Humanities, launched in September 2011. DJCAD has also launched very successful modules on creating comics. The University of Dundee is therefore delighted to have this opportunity to celebrate the huge success of one of Scotland’s most influential and successful authors. The Comics Day talks are designed to appeal to everyone with an interest in comics, and will be accompanied by an exhibition of comic art work.
A raft of Morrison’s past collaborators will be joining him in Dundee, including Cameron Stewart (Seaguy, The Guardian), Frazer Irving (Klarion The Witch Boy, Batman), Frank Quitely (Flex Mentallo, New X-Men, WE3, All Star Superman, Batman & Robin, Multiversity), Rian Hughes (Dare) and Jill Thompson (The Invisibles). Two days prior, the college’s cinema is hosting a showing of Talking to Gods, the seldom-screened documentary on Morrison’s life and career.
Conventions | MorrisonCon and the Las Vegas Comic Expo aren’t the only comic conventions this weekend (more on them shortly): There’s also Wizard World Ohio Comic Con in Columbus, and Asbury Park Comic Con in New Jersey. Last year, Wizard took over Mid-Ohio Con and turned it into Wizard World Ohio Comic Con, and on the eve of this year’s event, the local alternative weekly looks at how the event has changed and what to expect. Meanwhile, Saturday’s Asbury Park Comic Con gets back to basics: “The problem that I have with the big comic conventions is that they’ve turned into pop culture conventions and it’s anything goes —anything from video games to wrestlers and bands, stuff that has nothing or very little to do with comics. What we want to do is bring it back to what brought us all together — our passion for comics,” says co-founder Cliff Galbraith. The event, which is being held in a rock club/bowling alley, features such comics guests as Larry Hama, Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, Dean Haspiel, Seth Kushner and Reilly Brown. [The Other Paper, Asbury Park Press]
With Labor Day weekend upon us, now is a good time to stock the virtual longbox with some digital comics. We reported the other day that Image has made 20 of its #1 issues free on comiXology; here’s a roundup of some other free’ n’ cheap digital comics to check out over the holiday.
Centsless Books is a website that rounds up all the free Kindle books on Amazon, and it has a dedicated section for comics and graphic novels. There’s a preview of Batman: Earth One up there, and a lot of first issues of different indy series. Some of the graphic novels aren’t really — at least one book I checked was prose not a graphic novel, and Little Nemo’s Wild Sleigh Ride is a picture book that uses Winsor McCay’s illustrations (which are in the public domain). Well worth checking out, especially if you’re a First Second fan, are the two Between the Panels books, which are promotional pieces put out by Macmillan, with creator essays, character sketches and side stories, all related to different First Second graphic novels. Aside from that, it’s a pretty mixed bag, but one that looks like it will be fun to rummage around in. These Kindle comics will also work on the Kindle iPad and Android apps.
Infinity is a free iPad fanzine from Panel Nine, which has published Eddie Campbell’s Dapper John and David Lloyd’s Kickback as standalone iPad apps. The inaugural issue includes an interview with Lloyd, a preview of Dapper John, a roundup of digital-comics news, a couple of app reviews, art by Simon Russell, and an interview with PJ Holden, the creator of Murderdrome, a short comic that was booted from the iTunes store for being too violent (it’s actually a spoof). It’s a nice collection and well worth the effort of clicking that iTunes button.