Graphic novels | Five volumes of The Walking Dead made the November BookScan list of the Top 20 graphic novels sold in bookstores. As ICv2 points out, the fact that the first volume is still charting (at No. 13) bodes well for the series, as it means new readers are continuing to come in. The latest volume of Naruto took the No. 2 slot, and there were nine volumes of manga overall, including three volumes of Attack on Titan and the newest volume of Yotsuba&! There were five DC Comic titles on the list, as well as the latest volume of Dark Horse’s Avatar: The Last Airbender. Completely missing from the Top 20? Anything from Marvel. [ICv2]
Publishing | After three years at DC Entertainment, John Rood will step down on Jan. 1 as executive vice president of sales, marketing and business development. The position is being eliminated, with marketing and publicity to fall under the auspices of Amit Desai, senior vice president of franchise management. Sales, custom publishing and business development will again be overseen by Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee. [The Beat]
Gift Guides | Here’s a spin on the traditional gift guide: Ten things not to buy a comics fan. [Crave Online]
Time Warner filed documents last week to spin off Time Inc. — the media giant’s worst-performing division — into what Bloomberg calls “the world’s largest publicly traded magazine company.” The move, as ICv2.com notes, would effectively rid Time Warner of all of its remaining print assets except for DC Comics, which remains part of the Warner Bros. Entertainment subsidiary.
Time Inc., whose sales have fallen in five of the past seven years, publishes more than 20 magazines, including its namesake Time, Entertainment Weekly, Fortune, Sports Illustrated and People. It added Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure and Departures in September when it acquired American Express Co.’s publishing unit.
Talk of the spinoff, planned for sometime in 2014, began in March after a failed attempt to forge a new venture with Ladies’ Home Journal publisher Meredith Corporation. “A complete spinoff of Time Inc. provides strategic clarity for Time Warner Inc.,” Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said at the time, “enabling us to focus entirely on our television networks and film and TV production businesses, and improves our growth profile.”
“It is important, but it’s not the driving factor. The driving factor for me is having DC as one company together ourselves. Our ability to work more collaboratively with the whole studio is certainly a benefit. I believe everyone in DC will feel more a part of Warner Bros in the best ways. But it isn’t about more of our people talking to the film and TV people.
This is not the corporatization of DC. It isn’t about folding DC into Warner Bros. We’re going to help DC feel like more of an important priority in Warner Bros.”
– DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson, addressing whether film, television and video-game adaptations are the primary reason for the recently announced move of DC’s publishing operations from New York City to Burbank, California. Since August 2011, the company’s film and television, digital, administrative and consumer-products operations have been housed on the second floor — 35,000 square feet of space — of The Pointe, a new 14-story office tower less than a mile from Warner Bros. Studios.
DC Entertainment announced today that it’s making nearly 100 graphic novels and collected editions, ranging from perennial bestsellers like Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns to New 52 releases like Aquaman and Dial H, available for download from comiXology and Google Play.
Although the offerings are heavy on Batman and Superman, readers can also find such Vertigo titles as American Vampire, The Sandman, Punk Rock Jesus and The Unwritten, and recent DC Universe collections of Wonder Woman, Animal Man, The Flash and Catwoman. You can see the complete list below.
“This expanded distribution furthers DC Entertainment’s goal to offer our readers convenience and choice,” DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Jim Lee said in a statement. “ComiXology is a clear leader in delivering digital comics, while Google is one of the biggest mobile content brands in the world. We’re very excited to bring bestselling DC Comics and Vertigo graphic novels to their customers.”
While many of his colleagues are busy this weekend at New York Comic Con, Geoff Johns will be in East Lansing, Michigan, serving as grand marshal of Michigan State University’s Homecoming.
In honor of Johns, chief creative officer of DC Entertainment and a 1995 graduate of MSU’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences, this year’s Homecoming theme is “Creating Spartan Super Heroes.” That spills over into a limited-edition guide/comic book that includes such heroes as Sparty (the school’s mascot), who has “the ability to uncover the extraordinary in everyone,” Cognos, a former candle maker who possesses telepathy and superhuman intellect, and the Muse, a former art teacher who carries a “mirrored shield that provides inspiration to solve challenging problems.”
The week of festivities kicked off Monday with hay rides and a flag find, but it looks like the grand marshal’s role begins Wednesday with “An Evening With Geoff Johns,” a $25-per-person presentation, Q&A and autograph-signing sponsored by the MSU Alumni Association and the College of Arts and Letters. He’ll follow that on Thursday with a free “Media Sandbox Event and Storytelling Class with Geoff Johns” for students, staff and alumni of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences.
Publishing | This may seem a little inside-baseball, but it’s actually pretty significant: Dark Horse will switch from Diamond Book Distributors to Random House for book-market distribution, effective June 1, 2014. The publisher is sticking with Diamond for comics, but a lot of its line has appeal outside the direct market — the Avatar graphic novels, the Zelda guide — and Dark Horse wants to expand its presence in bookstores. This also makes for an interesting consolidation of manga distribution, as Random House also distributes Kodansha Comics (with which it has a strong business relationship) and Vertical books. [ICv2]
Comics | Superheroes may rule on television and in film, but comics continue to be a niche medium. The Associated Press reporter Melissa Rayworth talks to a comic-shop owner whose customers skulk in on the down low, an opera singer whose friends are surprised she reads comics, and Comics Alliance writer Chris Sims, who does a good job of putting things in perspective. [ABC]
Warner Bros.’ announcement of a “Batman vs. Superman” sequel to Man of Steel at Comic-Con International triggered a 161 percent surge in digital sales of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns in July, setting a record for a full-priced DC Entertainment digital title, Variety reports.
The publisher previously mentioned “a huge jump in month-over-month [digital] sales” of Frank Miller’s pioneering 1986 work, but didn’t offer more than that. Like most publishers, DC doesn’t reveal actual sales figures for either print or digital.
The influential four-issue miniseries brings an aging Batman out of retirement a decade after the death of Jason Todd to save Gotham from sinking deeper into decay and lawlessness. With the help of a new, female Robin, Carrie Kelly, the Dark Knight ends the threat of the mutant gangs that have overrun the city and confronts two of his greatest enemies. But then he must face his former ally Superman in a battle that only one will survive.
Although Man of Steel director Zack Snyder was quick to caution at Comic-Con that the sequel wouldn’t be an adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns, actor Harry Lennix read dialogue from the book — “I want you to remember, Clark, in all the years to come, in all your most private moments, I want you to remember my hand at your throat” — and Miller was reportedly set to meet with the filmmaker.
After teasing us in recent weeks with glimpses of “Tales of Metropolis, Starring Lois Lane” and “Metal Men,” DC Entertainment has announced that, beginning Tuesday, it will be adding the animated shorts from the second season of DC Nation to YouTube and the DC Comics videos page.
That means those of us who aren’t glued to Cartoon Network on Saturday mornings will soon get to enjoy “Tales of Metropolis,” Art Baltazar and Franco’s “Super Pets” and Robert Valley’s stylish Charger-driving Wonder Woman in their entirety.
As the finishing touches are put on Comic-Con International ahead of Preview Night, The Hollywood Reporter releases an interview with DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson that’s a blend of polite sidestepping of delicate or unannounced subjects — the departure from Warner Bros. of her boss Jeff Robinov, Man of Steel 2, the long-developing Justice League movie — and insight into how the media giant views the DC properties.
Naturally, given the outlet, much of the discussion involves film and television, with Nelson addressing why she thinks Man of Steel succeeded while Green Lantern didn’t, and why DC’s movie plans have been developing so slowly, the conversation veers a little closer to comic books when she’s asked what five characters she’d like to seen on the screen.
“Sandman is right on top,” Nelson responds. “I think it could be as rich as the Harry Potter universe. Fables. Metal Men. Justice League. And yes, I’m going to say it: Aquaman.”
Comic-Con International is spilling out of the San Diego Convention Center as Warner Bros. Entertainment takes over Bayfront Park for Lawn Con, a free pop-culture event for big and little kids alike.
Open to the public Thursday through Sunday, Lawn Con features lives DJs, a picnic area, and characters and replicas from Warner Bros. Animation, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Warner Bros. Pictures: enormous blow-ups of the Teen Titans Go! crew, ranging in height from 17 to 30 feet; a life-size LEGO model of Bag End from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, complete with Gandalf, Bilbo and others; life-size LEGO models of Batman, Robin and The Joker; and a replica of Scooby-Doo and the gang’s Mystery Machine.
Bayfront Park is located between the San Diego Convention Center and the Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel.
Last week’s announcement that BOOM! Studios had acquired Archaia Entertainment was big news, and with good reason. But long before that merger — decades before those two companies were even around — there was another publishing acquisition that changed the face of the comics industry, and it’s been echoing for the past 70 years. What I’m talking about is the conglomerate of companies that would become DC Comics.
You may not realize it, but DC Comics didn’t officially come into existence until 1977. Although the company had been known conversationally as DC and had used a “DC” logo in its comics, from 1946 until 1977 DC Comics was in fact National Comics. But that isn’t the end to this story; it’s only the beginning.
The origin of what would become DC Comics began in 1935 with the founding of National Allied Publications by Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson. It published two mid-selling titles but found itself on the brink of financial collapse just as it was putting together a title called Detective Comics. In debt to its printer, National Allied in 1937 took on that company’s owner, Harry Donenfeld, as a partner to fund the release of Detective Comics. Published under a new company named Detective Comics Inc. (after the title the partnership had convened for), Detective Comics had a fair amount of success but was, unbeknown to its owners, on the precipice of a major success with the debut of Batman in 1939′s Issue 27.
While many of us were enjoying our holiday, Comic-Con International organizers were busy releasing the programming schedule for Thursday, July 18, the first full day of the San Diego convention. The rundown for Friday, July 19 should come along early this afternoon.
As we’ve come to expect, Thursday’s lineup is a healthy mix of comics, television, toys, fantasy and film (although light on the latter, which take center stage on Friday and Saturday). The comics programming includes panels from Avatar Press, Bongo Comics (it’s the publisher’s 20th anniversary), BOOM! Studios, Dark Horse, DC Entertainment, Kodansha Comics, Marvel, Monkeybrain Comics (it’s that publisher’s first anniversary), TwoMorrows, Vertigo, Viz Media and Warp Comics.
However, that’s only for starters, as there are spotlights on Chris Samnee, Jeff Smith, J.H. Williams III, Dan Parent and Gary Frank, The Walking Dead‘s 10th-anniversary panel, and discussions about digital comics, gender in comics, LGBT webcomics and much, much more.
Check out some of the comics-related highlights below, and visit the Comic-Con website for the full schedule:
Business | Following weeks (if not months) of rumblings, Warner Bros. has made it official: Jeff Robinov, the Warner Bros. Pictures Group president who oversaw the 2009 restructuring of DC Comics into DC Entertainment, will leave the studio following a reorganization that establishes a new leadership team: Sue Kroll, president of worldwide marketing and distribution, Greg Silverman, president of creative development and worldwide production, and Toby Emmerich, president and chief operating officer of New Line Cinema. It doesn’t appear as if Robinov will be replaced. DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson, who initially reported Robinov, presumably will answer directly to Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara; following a shakeup last month in the television and home entertainment division, Nelson reported to both Robinov and Tsujihara. [The Hollywood Reporter]
I’m not generally a fan of photo covers, but who can resist DC’s Comic-Con International-exclusive cover for Batman ’66 #1, which uses action figures from the new Mattel line — let’s hear it for cross-promotion! — to recreate one of the great recurring gags of the classic TV series: the “window cameos.” Alas, the collection doesn’t include 6-inch versions Sammy Davis Jr., Suzy Knickerbocker or Werner Klemperer to make the homage complete.
It’s just one of four convention-exclusive covers announced this morning on the DC Comics website:
- Justice League #22, combining Ivan Reiss’ “Trinity War” covers for Justice League #22, Justice League of America #6 and Justice League Dark #22 as “a wraparound gatefold that transitions from pencils to a striking color image featuring the major players.”
- Batman #21, combining the minimalistic graphic design of the standard issue with an image of the Dark Knight in the background, drawn by Greg Capullo.
- Superman Unchained #1, with Clark Kent becoming the Man of Steel in a black-and-white illustration by Jim Lee and Scott Williams.
Each of the Comic-Con exclusives is priced at $10. Comic-Con International will be held July 18-21 in San Diego. Continue Reading »
Warner Bros. Consumer Products and DC Entertainment have partnered with Sanrio for a new Hello Kitty line, which features the international marketing phenomenon dressed as her favorite DC Comics superheroes, such as “Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman” (although it’s obvious in the image above that those are classic Supergirl and Batgirl).
Debuting next year, the costume-clad Hello Kitty will appear on apparel, accessories and footwear, stationery, publishing, personal care, promotional products and food products. Continue Reading »