"Gotham's" Cory Michael Smith Savors the Arrival of the Riddler
Manga | The 13th volume of Hajime Isayama’s hit dystopian fantasy Attack on Titan sold 1.4 million copies in Japan during its first week of release: 1.13 million copies of the regular edition, and 270,000 of a special edition that includes the original video animation. Kodansha ordered a 2.75 million-copy initial print run, a record not only for the series but for the publisher as well. The 66th volume of One Piece holds the record in Japan for highest sales in the first week with nearly 2.3 million copies. [Crunchyroll]
Publishing | Darren Davis of Bluewater Productions, talks about the evolution of his company and the origin story of its Female Force bio-comics line: “[W]e saw a comic book done of Barack Obama and John McCain during the 2008 elections, and my partner joked and said, ‘Why don’t we do Hillary?’ And I thought, oh my God, that’s a brilliant idea.So I thought, let’s do this, but let’s do it differently. Let’s not do it like everyone else, with a boring biography. We did it with a female empowerment angle. We released Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin at the same time, and whether you like Sarah Palin or hate Hillary Clinton, you have to respect both of them for where they came from and who they are.” [The Beaverton Leader]
The golem, an artificial being usually created from mud or clay and endowed with life, has appeared in stories of every media since … well, since about the time people started telling stories, particularly if you consider the biblical first man Adam to be a form of golem (“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,” from the second, less poetic of the two creation stories in Genesis).
But there may be no medium better suited to this creature of Jewish folklore than the American comic book, as the most famous of golems, the Golem of Prague, was in many ways a prototypical superhero. That golem was supposedly created in the late 1500s by a Rabbi Loew to defend the Jewish people of his city from pogroms, and there you have a few of the basic components of the American superhero: the bizarre origin, the defense of the oppressed, the home turf in need of protection and, of course, the Jewish nature of the character’s identity (often sublimated or coded in the early American superhero comics).
It is, of course, impossible to tell exactly how present in the backs of the minds of the many, many Jewish men who created the American comic book industry some 100 years or so after the legend of the Golem of Prague started appearing in writing in the third and fourth decades of the 19th century. But looking back, and looking for them, it’s easier to see them, from Superman as a sort of Golem of Metropolis to the stony Ben Grimm of the Fantastic Four.
Publishing | Jody LeHeup, who joined Valiant in May 2012 as associate editor, has left the publisher, and will focus on his writing career. However, he noted on Twitter, “I am open to discussing editorial work as well.” LeHeup previously worked for four years at Marvel, where he edited such titles as Deadpool, X-Force and the Eisner-nominated Strange Tales before being let go in October 2011 during a round of layoffs. [Twitter]
Creators | Tom Spurgeon pointed out a disturbing paragraph in this article about the dangers of being a political cartoonist in the Middle East: Syrian cartoonist Akram Raslan hasn’t been heard from in months and may be dead, according to Robert Russell of the Cartoonists Rights Network International, which has been advocating for Raslan’s release from prison. Raslan was arrested last year, and Russell was told his trial was delayed and then that he had been killed. [CNN]
Comics | The Venezuelan government is issuing illustrated versions of the country’s constitution to all school children, and plans are already under way for another edition that will be in comics format. [Foreign Policy]
Comic-Con International has announced the nominees for this year’s Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award. They are:
The award is named for Russ Manning, the prolific artist who worked on Tarzan and Star Wars, and created the classic comic series Magnus, Robot Fighter. Started in 1982 as a joint presentation of Comic-Con International and the West Coast Comics Club, this award honors a comics artist who, early in his or her career, shows a superior knowledge and ability in the art of creating comics. Previous winners of the award include Dave Stevens, the first winner in 1982, as well as Art Adams, Jeff Smith, Gene Ha, Jerome Opeña, Steve Rude, David Petersen, R. Kikuo Johnson, Marian Churchland and Nate Simpson, who won last year.
The winner will be announced July 13 during the Eisner Awards ceremony at Comic-Con International in San Diego.
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 grab the latest Lio collection, Zombies Need Love Too. Cartoonist Mark Tatulli has one of the better newspaper comic strips going these days.
If I had $30, I’d nab what is clearly the book of the week, NonNonBa, the latest book from Shigeru Mizuki, author of Onward Toward Our Noble Deaths. NonNonBa aims more toward Mizuki’s traditional milieu of Japanese folklore and yokai monsters, though this book is more autobiographical in nature in that it deals with his relationship with his grandmother and how she instilled in him an interest in the spirit world. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this release.
My splurge for the week would likely be one of two books from First Second: Either Baby’s in Black, Arne Bellstorf’s fictionalized tale of the sadly doomed Beatle, Stuart Sutcliffe, or Mastering Comics, Jessica Abel and Matt Madden’s follow-up to their previous how-to textbook, Drawing Words, Writing Pictures.
Chris Ryall has a preview up at his blog of That Hellbound Train, a three-part miniseries based on Robert Bloch’s Hugo-winning short story “That Hell Bound Train.” (Bloch is best known as the author of Psycho, the novel on which the Alfred Hitchcock movie was based.) The story is a classic deal-with-the-devil tale with a nice twist at the end, and it should make a great coimc.
Writers Joe and John Lansdale are doing the adaptation; you may remember that Joe is also the writer for IDW’s latest iteration of 30 Days of Night. David Wachter, who was nominated for an Eisner for his work on The Guns of Shadow Valley, is the artist for the project. On his blog, David shows how he developed the first cover.
It stands to reason that if you’re reading this site, you’re a fan of comics. Some folks step away from collecting at different times for varying reasons. And then some come back. Adam Besenyodi recently wrote a book, Deus ex Comica: The Rebirth of a Comic Book Fan, that documents his history as a fan. As described at Amazon: “With a mix of humor, recollection and insight, Deus ex Comica explores how the Marvel Comics stable of titles influenced Adam’s pre-teen and adolescent years, his rediscovery of sequential art as an adult, and the pleasure of watching his own son’s first steps into the comic book universe.” This Saturday, Free Comic Book Day, Besenyodi will do a book signing at Bill’s Books and More comic book shop in Canton, Ohio, from 12pm to 3pm.
Tim O’Shea: How did you score Tom DeFalco to write the foreword to your book?
Adam Besenyodi: Oh, man! Tom DeFalco. I put Tom in the “legendary” category with regards to comics and Marvel, so it is still kind of crazy to me that he wrote the foreword to my book. I met Tom through LinkedIn, actually — the professional networking site. I introduced myself to him and we struck up an online friendship. In early 2008, I started sharing with him the online Deus ex Comica series I was writing for Field’s Edge, and Tom was really supportive and encouraging of my writing.
Around mid-year 2008 I decided to turn the online series into a proper book, and as I was wrapping up the first full draft of the book in December, I began to think about including a foreword and who I could ask to write it. Tom has always been quick to respond and this time — even amid the holiday crush — was no exception. He graciously looked past the awkwardness of my proposition and immediately agreed to write the foreword to the book.