Major "Justice League" #50 Revelations, Changes Lead Into "DC Universe: Rebirth"
Publishing | Dark Horse founder and CEO Mike Richardson looks back at 30 years in the business in a two-part interview that covers the rise of shoujo manga and the way it changed American comics, the evolution of comics distribution and the direct market, the status quo and future plans for Dark Horse, and how the comics world is changing and continues to change: “The internet, of course, has changed the industry dramatically. The comic book industry was pretty much focused on the East Coast. As the internet rose, it helped companies like Dark Horse build a comics industry here in Portland. Portland right now is probably the epicenter of the comic book industry in the United States — companies, creators, organizations, all related to comics. We have a huge comic book population here from all angles of the business. It’s pretty amazing.” [ICv2]
Graphic novels | The best word to describe October’s BookScan Top 20 is “diverse.” No one publisher or genre dominated the list, which tracks graphic novel sales in bookstores. The list boasts four entries from perennial bestseller The Walking Dead, including the first and third volume of the massive Walking Dead Compendium; five volumes of manga, including the final volume of Naruto and the first three volumes of Tokyo Ghoul; two Star Wars collections; two kid-friendly titles, the first volume of Avatar: The Last Airbender: Smoke and Shadow and the second volume of Lumberjanes; two Batman books; and Adrian Tomine’s Killing and Dying. If any one publisher dominated, it was Image Comics, with six books on the list, including the four Walking Dead titles, the fifth volume of Saga, and the first volume of Bitch Planet. [ICv2]
Festivals | After moving the event last year from New York City’s 69th Regiment Armory to Center 548, the Society of Illustrators has announced a new host venue for the 2016 MoCCA Arts Festival: Metropolitan West on West 46th Street, between 10th and 11th avenues. Programming will be held at Ink48, a boutique hotel at the corner of 10th Avenue and West 48th Street. The festival is scheduled for April 2-3. [Society of Illustrators]
Hang Dai Editions is the imprint of Hang Dai Studio, the Brooklyn collective formed by Dean Haspiel, Gregory Benton, Josh Neufeld and the late Seth Kushner. All of them were already well known, Haspiel as a prolific independent cartoonist as well as the artist for Archie Comics’ The Fox, Benton as the creator of B+F, which won the MoCCA Festival award last year, Neufeld as the creator of A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge and the artist for The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media, and Kushner, who died in May, as a talented photographer and writer whose works included Leaping Tall Buildings, for which he photographed many prominent comics creators, and Schmuck.
The first titles to be published by Hang Dai were minicomics that the creators hand-sold at shows, but recently the collective announced a slate of comics that will be distributed to a wider audience this fall through Alternative Comics.
In an interview with ROBOT 6, Haspiel and Benton talk about the evolution of Hang Dai, the new fall line and the loss of Kushner. They also shared some art from their upcoming books Beef With Tomato (Haspiel) and Smoke (Benton).
Passings | Inker Rick Ketcham has passed away. Details are sparse, but Ketcham’s Facebook quickly filled with tributes from friends and colleagues who hailed his kindness, his professionalism, and his willingness to mentor others. Ketcham worked on a number of titles for DC Comics, Marvel, Dark Horse, Image Comics and other publishers, including The Amazing Spider-Man, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, G.I. Joe, New X-Men, Runaways and Venom. [Tsunami Studios Facebook]
Political cartoons | Cartoonist Milt Priggee stands by his editorial cartoon, which appeared in the Kitsap (Washington) Sun, depicting a recently slain toddler as an angel and “America’s gun culture” as the devil. Priggee and the newspaper’s editor have come under fire from the public and from the grandfather of the 2-year-old, who accuse him of using a tragedy to score political points. Priggee said his goal was to get people to think critically about gun culture: “A cartoon is a simple machine to make the reader think, not joke. It’s not a comic strip, it’s not entertainment, and this is where newspapers have fallen down. They have not taken any kind of opportunity to educate the public because a lot of times people come to an editorial cartoon and they say, ‘Well there’s nothing funny about this. Why is this in the newspaper?'” [MyNorthwest.com]
This weekend, Benton, Haspiel, Kushner and Josh Neufeld, who joined HANG Dai last year, premiere new comics at MoCCA Fest 2015 [at Table 314]. To mark the occasion, I conducted a brief Q&A with each creator, in which they share what makes MoCCA such a great show.
No one is happier about it than Kushner, particularly as MoCCA 2014 was the last show he attended before his diagnosis with myeloid acute leukemia. So, much to everyone’s delight, MoCCA 2015 heralds Kushner’s return to comics.
Passings | Cartoonist and illustrator Roy Doty, best known for his long-running Wordless Workshop cartoon, has died at age 92. Wordless Workshop, which ran in Family Handyman and other similar publications, featured a pipe-smoking handyman who, when faced with a domestic problem of some sort, would immediately visualize something he could build, including a simple set of plans. Doty also illustrated over 100 children’s books, including several by Judy Blume, and drew a syndicated Laugh-In comic based on the television show Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. He had a short-lived show of his own on the Dumont Network in 1953, in which he told stories and drew cartoons. He won 10 awards from the National Cartoonists Society, including their Gold Key Hall of Fame Award, and continued to be an active cartoonist until last year. [Mike Lynch Cartoons]
Continuing with our annual “Looking Forward, Looking Back” feature, we asked some creators and other industry figures what they liked in 2014, what they’re looking forward to in 2015, and what projects they have planned for the coming year.
In this installment, hear from Hope Larson, Jason Latour, Jess Fink, Sophie Goldstein, Chris Schweizer, Shawn Crystal, Dean Haspiel, Andrew MacLean, Stephanie Cooke, Nolan T. Jones, Erica Schultz and Fred Van Lente!
Since his Myeloid Acute Leukemia diagnosis in April, I have been following Seth Kushner’s arduous medical journey. The various rounds of chemotherapy did not seem to be the hardest part of the experience for the photographer/comics writer. For him, the biggest hardship (other than the fight for his life, of course) was the fact that his frequent bouts of hospitalization for treatments kept him away from his home with his wife, Terra, and their young son.
Conventions | With the 20th Small Press Expo kicking off Saturday in Bethesda, Maryland, The Washington Post’s Lori McCue singles out three of the show’s biggest draws: appearances by Jules Feiffer, Lynda Barry and Bob Mankoff. Meanwhile, Michael Cavna spotlights Fear, My Dear, the new release from convention guest Dean Haspiel. [The Washington Post]
Creators | As he prepared to head out to Small Press Expo, Farel Dalrymple paused for an audio interview about his newest book, The Wrenchies, which will debut at the show. [Comics Grinder]
Creators | Writer Tom Taylor teases what we can expect in his new Superior Iron Man series. [Previews World]
If you asked me for a list of some of the best superhero comics of the past year or so, I’d be sure to mention one that comes not from DC Comics or Marvel, two companies synonymous with the genre, but from Archie Comics, a publisher popularly known for not making superhero comics.
That comic would be the one starring The Fox, a Golden Age superhero from MLJ Comics (which would eventually become Archie Comics) that was recently resurrected in a well-made, well-received miniseries, now available in the collection The Fox: Freak Magnet.
Archie’s approach to the book seems to have been somewhat Marvel-ous, in several respects.
First, the publisher appears to have allowed a talented creator, Dean Haspiel, to do pretty much whatever he liked with the relatively minor character, and he chose to stick with what came before, but to take it in his own, idiosyncratic direction, not unlike Marvel’s post-Hawkeye strategy for its secondary, non-franchise books.
Graphic novels | BookScan’s list of the bestselling graphic novels in bookstores in March divides neatly into eight Image Comics titles (six volumes of The Walking Dead and two of Saga), eight volumes of manga (four Attack on Titan, four Viz Media titles) and four volumes of media tie-ins. For the second month in a row, not a single DC Comics or Marvel title cracked the Top 20, although an older DK Publishing character guide to the Avengers (not actually a graphic novel) came in at No. 11. The top-selling title was the 20th volume of The Walking Dead, and the No. 2 was the third volume of Saga. It’s also interesting to note that the first three volumes of Attack on Titan charted higher than the most recent release, which suggests new readers are still coming into the franchise in substantial numbers — and sticking with it. [ICv2]
This week writer and photojournalist Seth Kushner launched the Kickstarter for Schmuck, his semi-autobio/anthology graphic novel about his quest to find love in New York City. While portions of the collection originally ran online at TripCity.net, even those aspects will be remastered and/or colored for the 168-page trade paperback.
This collection, which features the work of 22 artists, also marks the inaugural release of HANG DAI Editions. The HANG DAI imprint, which was founded in New York City by Gregory Benton, Dean Haspiel, Josh Neufeld and Kushner, focuses on “limited edition comix, graphic novels, and art books, with an emphasis on personal interaction at events, conventions, and signings”.
Comics | Once the paperwork is complete, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library will officially own the original artwork for the 1964 DC Comics story “Superman’s Mission For President Kennedy,” fulfilling one of artist Al Plastino’s final wishes. Plastino, who passed away Nov. 25 at age 91, was surprised to discover at New York Comic Con a month earlier that the pages hadn’t been donated to the library five decades earlier, as he’d been led to believe, but were instead set to be sold at auction on the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. The auction was put on hold until questions of ownership could be resolved, and Plastino spent the final weeks of his life campaigning for the return of the artwork, even petitioning a judge to force the auction house to reveal the name of the seller. DC Entertainment intervened in December to acquire the pages and give them to the library. “We are thrilled to receive this historic artwork and look forward to sharing it with the public when the legal transfer is completed,” library director Tom Putnam said in a statement. [Newsday]