DC Comics Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources
Even if you didn’t make it to New York Comic Con, you can still view the pristine copy of Action Comics #1 that fetched a record $3.2 million at auction — every single page of it.
Certified Guaranty Company, which graded the copy 9.0, has a digital version of the entire issue, which contained not only the landmark 13-page story by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster that introduced Superman, but also 10 other tales. The debuts of Zatara and Tex Thompson have been overshadowed by the Man of Steel, and the rest of the contents — “Chuck Dawson,” “Sticky-Mitt Stimpson,” etc. — are now little more than footnotes, but they’re still of historical interest.
Also, if you want a general idea of what a 76-year-old comic worth $3.2 million actually looks like … let’s face it, this is probably your only chance. The viewer on the CGC website is actually pretty decent, too, allowing you to zoom in to read the text and study the art.
“There’s a loosening up, and this is kind of current, at both companies in terms of what each company considers a comic, which is a ridiculous thing to say, because a comic is basically what sells. That’s a good comic. Dick Giordano hated, hated, hated Lobo — hated the character, hated the book — hated him. But he understood that Lobo was a popular character, not his cup of tea, so he wasn’t constantly after me to change and conform to his way.
That was, for a while, the way comics were being run. If the editor didn’t like the direction a book was going, it didn’t matter how well it sold — they’d get in there and start pinching and tweaking and fucking it up. But lately — and I know this for a fact, I’ve talked to people who actually make these decisions — it’s loosening up. It’s really loosening up. They’re actually saying, ‘You know what? You’re always saying, “If I was left alone, I would do this and this and this. I’d make this book popular.” Fine. The shackles are off. Go.’
I love that. I absolutely love that. I think if you’re willing to go after it, I think comics are loosening up a little bit; the way they approach the market, the kind of stories they’re doing, the kind of characters they’re willing to put in their books. This is just, I’d say, within the last year that I’m feeling this. A couple of years before that — as soon as last year — they were pretty horrible.”
– Justice League 3000 writer Keith Giffen, identifying a relatively recent loosening of the creative reins by DC Comics, and by Marvel
Although the first issues of Who’s Who and Crisis \on Infinite Earths got a headstart in the closing months of 1984, January 1985 kicked off DC Comics’ 50th anniversary in earnest. No doubt real life — i.e., the DC offices’ upcoming westward move — is preventing the publisher from starting the 80th anniversary celebrations this January, and the solicitations certainly don’t have much in the way of commemoration.
(To be sure, the month’s variant-cover scheme involves the 75th anniversary of The Flash, which Robot 6 contributor J. Caleb Mozzocco has already covered extensively on his own blog.)
Therefore, while the real fireworks will probably have to wait another couple of months, the January solicitation tease the return of Robin, changes in the Super-status quo, and other various and sundry plot churning.
One thing that jumps out at me from these solicits has to do with numbering. Now, we all love numbering — big versus small, gimmicks versus straightforward integer progression — but the January books are soliciting the 38th issues of the remaining original New 52 titles. That puts the 50th issues of those series on track for January 2016; or, more likely, February 2016, if next September is another “take a break for a set of specials” month. If I were DC and wanted to relaunch my various titles, and I were a year away from a set of 50th issues, I’d probably wait a year.
This fall has been particularly exceptional television adaptations: The Walking Dead season premiere pulled in more than 17 million viewers, while more than 8 million watched the first episode Gotham, making it Fox’s best fall drama debut in 14 years. More than 6 million raced to see The Flash pilot, giving The CW its highest ratings ever. About 5 million are regularly tuning in for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and nearly 3 million for the third season of Arrow.
It’s not limited to live-action series, either: 2 million people watch Teen Titans Go!, and more than 1 million tune in to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Nickelodeon.
On the big screen, all four feature films starring Marvel characters — X-Men: Days of Future Past, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 — each grossed more than $700 million each worldwide. So far, comic book movies have generated more than $3.8 billion dollars this year. While it’s unknown how many of those dollars are from repeat viewings, that’s still a lot of people.
If you watch DC Entertainment’s promotional web series DC All Access, you’ve likely thought either “Wow, I’d love to get that kind of access” or “I can do better than that.” Whichever the case, you may now get your shot.
DC has announced a social media-driven contest to find a new co-host to join Tiffany Smith on the year-old show, beginning in 2015. (Farewell, Blair Herter?) Here’s what you have to do:
Legal | Former Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has filed a criminal complaint against cartoonist Musa Kart over a cartoon caricaturing Erdoğan’s attempts to cover up a graft investigation. The prosecutor initially decided that there were no grounds for legal action, but Erdoğan took his case to the Bakırköy 14th High Criminal Court, which ruled that the cartoon exceeded the bounds of normal criticism and allowed the indictment to proceed. Kart could face nearly 10 years in prison if convicted and given the maximum sentence.
Meanwhile, prosecutors have dropped charges against all 209 of the people suspected in participating in the actual corruption Erdoğan is accused of covering up; those charges would have included “the transfer of lands with a value of billions of dollars at very low prices, the seizure of mines from businessmen by force, tender-rigging, illegally giving state tenders worth billions of dollars to businessmen, changing the status of protected areas through bribery, opening these [areas] for construction and making large profits off of them.” [Today's Zaman]
Publishing | DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee talk about the state of the comics market, DC’s upcoming move from New York City to Burbank, the growing female audience and more. “There’s also a diversification within the audience itself the past couple of years,” Lee observed. “You’ve seen more women, more female readers, in general. When we launched Batgirl and Gotham Academy, those books struck a different note, different tonality, and that was in large part due to editor Mark Doyle bringing these projects together with different kinds of creators. It was our way of broadening the base of the Batman family of books but doing it in a different way to attract a different audience. I think it speaks well to the future that we’re not just going to strike the same note looking for the same customer. [...] You can’t necessarily rely on the same continuity, the same core hardcore comics-driven material; you have to diversify, broaden your net and bring in different voices to the company.” [ICv2]
A bronze statue honoring 5-year-old abuse victim Jeffrey Baldwin, depicted in his Superman costume, was unveiled Saturday at Greenwood Park in Toronto.
The story of the Toronto boy, who died in 2002 of starvation and septic shock after years of abuse by his grandparent guardians, received renewed attention in Canada last fall with a coroner’s inquest, during which Jeffrey’s father testified to his love of Superman. “He wanted to fly,” Richard Baldwin recalled. “He tried jumping off the chair. We had to make him stop. He dressed up [as Superman] for Halloween one year. He was so excited. I have that picture at home hanging on my wall. He was our little man of steel.”
We’re just now into the back half of October and it’s already been a busy month for DC Comics’ television and movie adaptations. Gotham got under way, The Flash debuted and Arrow has returned, with Constantine on deck. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. announced a massive slate of Justice League-related movies, stretching from 2016’s Batman v Superman to 2020’s Cyborg.
However, the adaptation pipeline has the potential to flow in two directions. Between Caitlin Snow’s potential Killer Frost, the second episode’s Multiplex and the promise of both Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein, the new Flash show seems pretty intent on bringing in a good bit of Firestorm lore. If DC executives hadn’t already been thinking about yet another Firestorm comic revival, The Flash’s immediate success may well encourage them to. Similarly, of all the movies Warner Bros. apparently intends to make over the next six years, the only one without a solid comics presence is Cyborg.
Therefore, today we’ll look at these two creations of the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, to see what DC might do with their four-color futures.
Although the upcoming DC Comics film slate was the headline-grabbing news from this morning’s Time Warner investor presentation, Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara also announced the studio is seeking to reduce costs by $200 million annually as part of company-wide streamlining effort. That’s about double what some reports indicated ahead of today’s meeting.
How much of that will be a result of layoffs has yet to be revealed, but Variety maintains Warner Bros. is expected to cut between 900 and 1,000 jobs, or about 10 percent of its worldwide workforce.
Conventions | ReedPOP Senior Vice President Lance Fensterman talks about how New York Comic Con reached 151,000 attendees this year, what went well, what could have gone better, and what he learned for next time. The new badges and check in/check out system, introduced last year, let producers know exactly how long people stayed at the show, and that turned into a nice surprise for two attendees: “There was a couple [last year] who literally spent every minute that was possible at New York Comic Con for three and a half days. We reached out to them and did something special for them—gave them a bunch of free stuff and free tickets because they were at the show longer than anyone who wasn’t paid to be at the show.” [ICv2]
Political cartoons | Egyptian cartoonists Mohamed Anwar and Andeel discuss the difficulty of critiquing Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who doesn’t tolerate dissent; Anwar is a cartoonist for a mainstream newspaper and pulls some punches as the tradeoff for reaching a wide audience, while Andeel has moved over to the alternative press, where he can speak more freely. [The Guardian]
It’s pretty widely known by now that one of the smells in the special rub-and-sniff Harley Quinn Annual #1 is of a less-than-legal, but incredibly distinctive, drug. As a result — even at New York Comic Con 2014 — there have been many jokes about the results of rubbing and smelling the marijuana-scented section of the comic.
Hilariously, through its MAD Magazine website, DC Comics has released an “important message from the DC Comics department of ethical reading,” which continues the running gag of the drug’s distinctive smell — “something called Cannibisylocibe 7-A” — and the possible side effects.
Last week I laid out a lot of numbers and background on the distribution of character-oriented franchises in the New 52. (Along the way I got confused about the New 52 version of G.I. Combat; it was canceled after Issue 7, but its zero issue brought its total to eight.)
Accordingly, this week discusses whether the New 52 needs to get back up to its eponymous number of titles, or whether a smaller stable of ongoing series is a more sustainable environment. We’ll get into some other concerns as well, but the overarching question — as DC transforms its biggest franchise, the Bat-books — involves how the publisher chooses to allocate its resources.
(Because I forgot to do it directly last week, I want to acknowledge my debt to Dave Carter, who started me thinking about all this when he charted New 52 longevity in January and who, providentially, has just started listing DC rosters of Augusts past.)
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It would be awfully hard to overstate the enthusiasm out there for Batgirl #35. As soon as the new creative team of Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr and Brenden Fletcher was announced, social media was buzzing; hell, it was singing. Fan art of the new costume began appearing online immediately, and cosplayers started dressing the new Batgirl based on nothing more than the initial promotional images and cover.
I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen this much enthusiasm for a DC Comics production. Universe-shaking developments — deaths, resurrections, infinite crises — major crossovers, and new series from the hottest creators are generally greeted with a dose of cold water from a certain faction of fans. DC readers tend to fall somewhere between “cautiously optimistic” and “openly hostile” when it comes to the publisher’s big decisions. But, for whatever reasons, I’ve seen none of that cynicism regarding the new direction of Batgirl.
Which is a long way of saying that expectations for this particular issue of this particular series are, in most quarters that care about such things, sky-high.
There are only ever three things that can happen with expectations: They can be met, they can fail to be met, or they can be exceeded. And, in general, the higher the expectations are, the less likely they are to be met.
So, as a comic book, how is Batgirl #35 …?
The owners of Metropolis Collectibles and ComicConnect, who in August paid a record $3.2 million for a pristine copy of Action Comics #1, will display “the Holy Grail of comic books” on Thursday at their New York Comic Con booth (#2630). Alas it’s only on Thursday.
The first comic to fetch more than $3 million at auction, the issue is one of just two copies of 1938’s Action Comics #1 — featuring the first appearance of Superman — to be graded 9.0 by the Certified Guaranty Company (the other is the comic once owned by actor Nicolas Cage, which sold in 2011 for a then-record $2.16 million; however, its pages aren’t considered “pristine”). Only about 30 unrestored copies of Action Comics #1 are thought to exist.
This copy was acquired several years ago in a private sale by Darren Adams of Pristine Comics in Federal Way, Washington, and stored a temperature-controlled vault. He said the original owner bought the comic from a newsstand in 1938, and then kept in a cedar box for about four decades until a local dealer in West Virginia purchased it in an estate sale. The issue then passed to a third person, who held onto it for 30 years. Adams said he turned down an offer of $3 million, and instead opted to sell the comic in a highly publicized eBay auction.