“We had a record amount of entries from publishers this year with more than forty-five different titles” said FCBD spokesperson Leslie Jackson. “Retailers on the committee had a tough time deciding on which titles to choose for Gold sponsorship, but we’re sure fans will be pleased with the line-up for next year.”
While the choices may have been difficult, it’s hard to imagine that someone couldn’t come up with something more enticing than what Image has to offer: “An anthology featuring all-new stories with a mix of Image’s old and new best loved characters!” Could you possibly get any vaguer than that? They don’t even have a cover design. If my comic got bumped for that, I’d be steaming. On the other hand, Archaia’s 48-page hardcover, featuring new material (not reprints or bits of something to come) looks mighty sweet, all the more so because they name names: A Mouse Guard story from David Petersen, a Jim Henson’s Labyrinth story by Ted Naifeh and Cory Godbey, a side story from Royden Lepp’s new graphic novel Rust, a Cursed Pirate Girl story from Jeremy Bastian, a Cow Boy story by Chris Eliopoulos and Nate Crosby, and a Dapper Men tale from Jim McCann and Janet Lee. There’s this year’s wow factor.
The line-up actually seemed pretty obvious to me, so I went back and looked at the Gold Sponsors for the past five years. Sure enough, six of the publishers are there every year: Archie, Dark Horse, DC, IDW, Image, Marvel. Since five of these are also Diamond’s premier publishers, and Archie is a newsstand juggernaut, there’s no surprise there. BOOM! Studios has been a Gold Sponsor for the past four years and Archaia for the past three. The other slots vary: Ape Entertainment was a Gold Sponsor in 2011 and 2010 but is missing this year, and Bongo and Oni are back after a two-year absence. Others who have popped up once or twice in the past five years: NBM/Papercutz (2011), Drawn & Quarterly (2010), Viz (2008 and 2009), Dynamite (2008), Virgin (2008), Gemstone (2007), and Tokyopop (2007).
There’s more to come: The Silver Sponsors will be announced next week.
DC Comics Executive Vice President of Sales, Marketing, and Business Development John Rood and Senior Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne try not to gloat too much as they discuss DC’s October sales numbers over at ICv2. (Actually, ICv2 did the gloating for them with the headline “DC Crushes Marvel.”) Thanks to strong sales of the New 52 line, DC took over 42% of the dollar share and 51% of the unit share in the direct market, pushing Marvel down to about 30% in both measures. And the pie got bigger: Single-issue sales were up 24% compared to October 2010. “We’re excited to see the reports from Diamond that we’ve won the month in dollar share and in unit share,” Rood told ICv2. “I consider that ironic as hell, since we don’t price our comics to win any dollar share battles, and we don’t pump out a lot of inventory to win any unit share battles. So the fact that this is happening accidentally just speaks to the readership of the New 52, and the support from our retailers, which we’re so appreciative of.”
In Part 2 of the interview, Rood says that he sees the sales increase coming from new and returning readers, who are in it for the long haul, as opposed to speculators buying issue #1s in the hope that they will become valuable collectors’ items.
He was a bit less forthcoming on the details of DC’s deal to put their graphic novels on Amazon’s Kindle Fire e-reader, refusing to discuss how long the exclusive agreement would last and whether DC was aware that Amazon would price Alan Moore’s Watchmen at $9.99, half the price of the print version.
As for the trade collections of the New 52, the chief difference that readers will see, Wayne said, is a more unified trade dress; the graphic novels are definitely being presented as a jumping-on point for new readers. As to quantity and schedule, he said that the graphic novel releases will be spread out a bit, compared to the fairly concentrated launch of the monthly comics. While DC is publishing fewer comics titles than last year, the number of graphic novels will remain the same because they will be reaching into the vaults to publish older material, and movie tie-ins, in graphic novel form.
I’m biased: 12 percent of the titles that they’ve physically removed were written by me. From my perspective, it’s a ridiculous overreaction [by Barnes & Noble]. The idea that these people [Amazon] have a digital exclusive, therefore [B&N] will give them a physical exclusive, too — I’m not sure it’s a sane business practice.
If you force publishers to decide between the Amazon tablet and the Barnes & Noble Nook, some of them may come down on the Amazon side.
Creator Neil Gaiman on Barnes & Noble’s removal of DC’s graphic novels from its shelves after Amazon announced DC’s graphic novels would be exclusive on the Kindle Fire e-reader for a limited time. Gaiman’s comment is a reminder that this action affects real people—and carries a certain amount of risk for both creators and publishers.
Noted in passing: I was in my local Barnes & Noble over the weekend, and while the graphic novel section has shrunk way down (to a single six-bay bookcase), there were plenty of DC graphic novels on the shelf.
“regardless of the publisher, we will not stock physical books in our stores if we are not offered the available digital format…To sell and promote the physical book in our store showrooms, and not have the eBook available for sale would undermine our promise to Barnes & Noble customers to make available any book, anywhere, anytime.”
—Jaime Carey, chief merchant at Barnes & Noble
Well, those DC graphic novels that are going to be exclusive on the Amazon Kindle Fire color e-reader are really going to be exclusive now that Barnes & Noble is pulling them from the shelves in their brick-and-mortar stores.
We heard some unofficial mentions of this earlier this week, and today Publishers Weekly’s Calvin Reid got some Barnes & Noble reps to talk on the record and admit that they are pulling the bookstore equivalent of taking their bat and their ball and going home.
Color is so important to comics that most teams have a separate colorist, yet how much do we think about the significance of a particular palette? Darius A. Monsef IV, chief blogger at COLOURlovers, has spent quite a bit of time thinking about it, and he has produced a large infographic that compares the color schemes of good versus evil, both in costumes and in overall coloring. Some of the factoids are obvious (white for good characters, darker colors for evil, green for radioactivity), some are surprising (apparently orange and purple, paired with white and gray, signify neutral characters in the comics world). Also, the good guys are usually clad in primary colors and villains in secondary colors. And the analysis of the colors used by DC and Marvel is fascinating (in a color-nerd sort of way)—DC uses way more black, while Marvel skews red. The infographic also has a handy chart of costume color changes over the years.
Passings | Tom Wilson Sr., creator of the long-running comic strip Ziggy, passed away Sept. 16. According to a press release from Universal Uclick, Wilson, 80, had suffered from a long illness and died in his sleep. For more than 35 years, Wilson served as a creative director at American Greetings. Wilson first published Ziggy in the 1969 cartoon collection When You’re Not Around. The Ziggy comic panel, syndicated by Universal Uclick (formerly Universal Press Syndicate), launched in 15 newspapers in June 1971. It now appears in more than 500 daily and Sunday newspapers and has been featured in best-selling books, calendars and greeting cards. Wilson’s son, Tom Wilson Jr., took over the strip in 1987. [Universal Uclick]
Awards | The Chill by Jason Star and Mick Bertilorenzi won an Anthony Award this weekend at Bouchercon, the annual mystery convention. The Vertigo Crime selection won in the Best Graphic Novel category, while Birds of Prey writer Duane Swierczynski took the Best Original Paperback category with his novel Expiration Date. [Examiner]
I might still like to do the Atom. I think there’s something great to be done with the Atom that hasn’t been done yet…I like the idea of doing an Atom story where he can only shrink to a certain size for each episode. One of the things I felt didn’t work about the Atom was that he was up and down [in height] and could do anything. I thought it would be really good to do stories of a guy who has so much power to shrink that he does it for missions when he’s brought in. So it’s slightly more Indiana Jones, where this guy works as a professor during the day, but sometimes he’ll get a call from the President — “There’s monsters in the White House carpet” kinda stuff. — and he comes in and deals with that. But in another episode he might just shrink to six inches and be chased around a room by bad guys and cats and dogs, like Incredible Shrinking Man stuff. I thought there’s a sci-fi series in there, where each issue is him at a different scale. In some he could be trapped at a molecular scale, and in other ones he’s one inch and trapped in the garden.
–Action Comics and Supergods writer and superhero-revamper extraordinaire Grant Morrison in conversation with CBR’s Jonah Weiland, who asked him what B-list characters he’d still like to take a crack at. And hey, Morrison’s proven his proficiency with sprawling supporting-player revamps in the past with projects like Seven Soldiers (not to mention the upcoming Multiversity, which he says will have a similar focus on DC’s deep bench), so would it be out of the question for him to throw a Ryan Choi: Rebirth and Atom Incorporated into the mix? For now, I’ll file this with his much-discussed desire to write Wonder Woman under projects we’ll hopefully get to see one day.
Watch the entire video above for more Morrison commentary on the Lois & Clark marriage, Superman’s costume, Action Comics, New X-Men, Supergods, Sinatoro and more.
Cue up the Steely Dan: Marvel has announced their intention to do it again by offering retailers a rare Ed McGuinness variant of Fear Itself #6 for every 50 covers they send in from certain Flashpoint tie-in titles from DC. Dubbed “Comics for Comics,” the divisive program is intended, according to Marvel, to offer relief to retailers who they say have been saddled with unsold product during the current economic climate. (This claim has met with some skepticism, Tom Brevoort’s protestations notwithstanding.)
Marvel’s done this before: Last year, they offered a J. Scott Campbell Deadpool variant of Siege #3 in exchange not just for unsold Blackest Night “power ring” tie-ins the from DC, but for unsold Siege and X-Men: Second Coming tie-ins as well. A copy of that comic [UPDATE: a signed, CGC-graded one, which I'm told makes a difference] recently sold on eBay for $625 (via ComicsAlliance commenter Tom). I’m curious as to whether Marvel will eventually make its own books eligible for this trade-in, too. (I’m also curious as to whether some other country will provide us with a functioning legislature in exchange for every 50 House GOP members we send them if we default on our debt, but I suppose that’s neither here nor there.)
It was the shout heard ’round the world. In the opening minutes of DC’s very first daily “New 52″ panel at the San Diego Comic-Con last Thursday, when Co-Publisher Dan DiDio turned to the audience and asked what DC would have to do to change the minds of those skittish about the impending relaunch, one man yelled “Hire women!” The number of women creators working on the DC Universe, he added after audience applause, had dropped with the relaunch from 12% of the total to just 1% (i.e. Gail Simone, and Amy Reeder if you count the later Batwoman launch). DiDio’s response was to turn the question back on the questioner and ask him whom he thinks DC should hire. The move raised some eyebrows, to be sure, given that an audience member isn’t in the kind of position to assess all the professional comics talent available to be hired that the brass at a major publisher would be in. Still — and I’ll just quote myself here from another time this topic came up — “I think it behooves those of us who argue for the inclusion of non-white non-straight non-male people in a creative team or superhero team or panel or article or exhibit to have candidates ready to hand,” so turnabout is fair play, I suppose.
Superheroes are coming to the world of LEGO, as the Danish toy company signed deals with DC Comics and Marvel Entertainment this month that will allow their characters to be used in a LEGO Super Heroes line. Lego already has a Batman line, but the deal with DC gives them access to every character in the DC canon, including Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern. The Marvel line will focus on the Avengers, the X-Men and Spider-Man, and it will launch in May 2012, at the same time The Avengers movie opens. Both the Marvel and the DC line will include both minifigures and buildable figures.
Update: JK Parkin returns from Comic-Con with pictures from the LEGO booth! Check’em out after the jump.
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 this week, the first thing I’d grab would be a complete nostalgia-buy: DC Retroactive: Justice League of America – The 70s #1 (DC, $4.99), because I am a complete and utter sucker for JLA stories, and grew up reading old back issues of the title I found at used bookstores. This would be worth it for the reprint at the back alone, never mind the new story by Cary Bates that looks like it’s playing around with the multiverse one more time. To accompany that, I’d also pick up the first two issues of Joe Harris and Brett Weldele’s Spontaneous (both $3.99), because – even though I missed the Free Comic Book Day release of the debut – I’m a fan of Harris’ Ghost Projekt and Weldele’s work on The Surrogates, and curious to see just where a book about spontaneous human combustion can actually go.
When J. Michael Straczynski was still the writer of Wonder Woman, he approached Colleen Doran about developing a new, “fantasy-oriented” look for her. He’s given Doran permission to share what she came up with, which she’s done on her blog.
She clarifies a couple of things in the comments section of her post. First, that she wasn’t hired to draw the actual comic; just to design the look. But more importantly, that this look would’ve been for a story after the one in which Wonder Woman wore Jim Lee’s controversial redesign.
Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading. JK Parkin is off in San Diego trying to get that Elvis Stormtrooper’s autograph, so I’ll be your host today. Our special guest this week is George O’Connor.
O’Connor is probably best known as the author of the ongoing Olympians series of graphic novels, which attempt to retell classic Greek myths (the latest, Hera, just came out from First Second). He’s also the author of such books as Journey Into Mowhawk Country and the children’s picture book Kapow, as well as the artist of Ball Peen Hammer, which was written by Adam Rapp.
To see what George and the rest of the Robot 6 crew have been reading …
The serious business of Comic-Con got underway Thursday in San Diego with a wave of panels and announcements. Here are the highlights:
• Announcements at the Marvel panel included Jeff Parker and Patrick Zircher’s Hulk of Arabia arc, a new Deadpool arc, an Avengers Academy recruitment drive and Villains for Hire, a new spin on the Heroes for Hire concept. Also in the works: A series of Avengers Origins one-shots.
• T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents is coming back in November; the new comics will be written by Nick Spencer and drawn by Wes Craig.
• At the Marvel Digital panel, Marvel senior vice president of publishing David Gabriel announced that Marvel will begin simultaneous print and digital release of its Spider-Man and X-Men comics, starting next week with Amazing Spider-Man #666 and Spider Island line.
• At the Vertigo panel, Executive Editor Karen Berger announced a new graphic novel called Marzi that would ba marketed to both young and old readers. She also said that Vertigo will launch a new Halloween anthology in October and a totally new series later this year.
Because you are reading this column on Robot 6, which is one of the blogs attached to Comic Book Resources, which is a long-time website devoted to covering all aspects of comic books, from industry to fandom, it’s safe to assume that you already have the equivalent experience of a Bachelor of Arts in superhero studies.
Therefore, Oklahoma City University professor Marc DiPaolo’s War, Politics and Superheroes: Ethics and Propaganda in Comics and Film is probably going to be something you’ll enjoy curling up with or reading on the beach, even if it is a college textbook with the words “politics” and “ethics” right there in the title. (And, if you’re already pretty conversant in superheroes, it’s worth noting that DiPaolo never talks down to readers, so his work is easy to engage with even if a Superhero and Politics 101 book seems like something you’re well beyond).
DiPaolo defines “superhero” rather widely, including not only the capes and codenames crowd popularized by DC and Marvel, but also Captain Kirk, James Bond, Dr. Who, Rambo, Xena and Jack Bauer and other such idealized heroic figures from genre entertainment. His cast assembled, his book contains a series of chapter-length essays, each dealing with a particular character or group of characters and various political readings of their various adventures.
Broadly, the thesis is that superhero adventures comment on, react to and even shape American public opinion and government policy, a discussion largely divorced from the opinions or intentions of their creators (With a few obvious exceptions, like the way the various worldviews of Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and John Romita shaped the original Spider-Man comics).