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The $412 check written in 1938 by Detective Comics to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster for, among other things, the rights to Superman sold last night at auction for a whopping $160,000. The piece of paper has been described as “the most important $412 in comics history” and “possibly the most important pop-culture artifact known to exist.”
“The concept of the superhero was born with Superman,” Vincent Zurzolo, co-owner of auction website ComicConnect, told Reuters. “That $130 check essentially created a billion-dollar industry.”
Signed by Publisher Jack Liebowitz, it included $130 for the Man of Steel, with the remaining $282 serving as payment for stories contributed to Detective Comics, Adventure Comics and More Fun Comics. Liebowitz misspelled the last names of both Siegel and Shuster, leading them to endorse the check twice.
Answering one of the questions raised by yesterday’s announcement the expansion of Batman and Detective Comics to 40 pages, DC Comics revealed this afternoon that April’s Detective #8 will kick off a multi-part backup story featuring Two-Face.
The 10-page stories reunite series writer Tony S. Daniel and artist Szymon Kudranski (Spawn, Penguin: Pain and Prejudice), who collaborated on the “Russian Roulette” one-shot in Detective Comics #5. The Two-Face spotlights are intended to reveal the history of a rogue who’s only appeared briefly since the launch in August of DC Comics: The New 52.
“I’m really looking forward to working with Szymon Kudraski, who’ll no doubt capture the dark mood and tone I’m reaching for in Detective Comics,” Daniel said on DC’s Source blog. “I’m going deep into the character of Harvey Dent and the inner conflicts and demons he must confront. I’m approaching the characters and story the way I would a multi-layered psychological thriller, one that covers a man at the losing end of a battle within himself.”
The same month that Two-Face spotlight debuts in Detective, Batman will launch back-up stories centering on the Court of Owls, the shadowy organization that has plagued the Dark Knight and Gotham City in the first arc of the relaunched comic. Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV will write the stories, with American Vampire artist Rafael Albuquerque providing the art.
Batman and Detective Comics will expand to 40 pages beginning in April, a move that brings with it back-up stories and a price increase from $2.99 to $3.99, DC Comics announced over the weekend.
Batman #8 will see writer Scott Snyder re-team with American Vampire artist Rafael Albuquerque for the first in a series of back-up stories examining the history of the Court of Owls, the shadowy organization that has plagued the Dark Knight and Gotham City in the first arc of the relaunched comic. Co-written by James Tynion IV, the stories also dovetail into “The Night of the Owls,” a crossover that will launch in May and run through all of DC’s Bat-books.
“The first backup, in issue eight will give a sense of the terrifying scope of the Court of Owls’ attack on Gotham. This really will be the first shot in a war for the soul of Gotham City,” Snyder wrote this morning on DC’s Source blog. “And then, starting in issue nine, we’ll begin a three part story called ‘The Fall of the House of Wayne’ that will investigate the secret history of the Court of Owls and its relationship to the Wayne family – particularly to Thomas and Martha Wayne, Bruce’s parents. The story will be told from the point of view of Jarvis Pennyworth, Alfred’s father, and offer some big surprises and shocks about the forces that shaped the bat-mythology as we know it. Can’t wait for you all to see these stories!”
In a pair of interviews with Newsarama and ICv2, DC’s Executive Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Business Development John Rood and Senior Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne also revealed Detective and Green Lantern will join Action Comics, Batman and Justice League as “combo pack” titles, meaning that for $1 more, readers receive a redemption code allowing them to download a digital version of the comics, leaving the print editions “pristine.”
Check out Albuquerque’s Batman sketches below.
To celebrate the 2 millionth “like” of its Batman Facebook page, DC Comics has debuted the cover for April’s Detective Comics #8, by Tony S. Daniel and Sandu Florea.
“More than 2 million people have signaled that they are fans of the Caped Crusader, a sentiment we whole-heartedly agree with,” Brandy Phillips, DC Entertainment’s director of publicity, wrote this morning on The Source. “It’s no surprise that so many people feel this way. Batman continues to be one of the most popular comic characters ever created, with top-selling and popular books Batman, Detective Comics, Batman: The Dark Knight and Batman and Robin leading the way. And with Catwoman, Batwing, Batgirl and Batwoman rounding out the Batman family – the whole line is really on a tear, backed by some of the best creative talent in the industry including Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Tony Daniel, and David Finch, among many others.”
Check out the full cover below.
Carl Barks’ 1974 painting “The Sport of Tycoons,” which features the iconic image of Scrooge McDuck swimming in his gold-filled vault, sold at auction last week for a record $262,900.
The painting is based on Barks’ often-reprinted 1952 tale “Only a Poor Old Man,” the first story in which Scrooge was the main character (in which, while swimming in his money bin, he says, “I love to dive around in it like a porpoise, and burrow through it like a gopher, and toss it up and let it hit me on the head!”). “The Sport of Tycoons” debuted in print in 1981’s The Fine Art of Walt Disney’s Donald Duck by Carl Barks.
The piece, part of the Kerby Confer Collection, was accompanied by the Heritage Auctions sales of two other Barks originals — “Sheriff of Bullet Valley” ($107,550), and “McDuck of Duckburg” ($101,575).
The auction also saw Jerry Robinson’s original cover art for 1942’s Detective Comics #67, the first Penguin cover, fetch $239,000, which Heritage dubs the second-highest price for a piece of American comic-book art.
Art | Jerry Robinson’s cover artwork from Detective Comics #67 is expected to bring in more than $300,000 when it goes up for auction Nov. 15. “Robinson penciled and inked this cover and the detail of his art is amazing close-up,” said Todd Hignite, consignment director for Comic Art at Heritage Auctions, “particularly his shading lines on Batman and Robin, and on the feathery details of the ostrich being straddled by that bird-of-prey, the Penguin.” [Art Daily]
Business | Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment Inc. and Vuguru, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner’s independent studio, are partnering to produce “original digital content.” [press release]
Comics | Darryl Ayo has a small manifesto about comics that makes a lot of sense: “Things that don’t make sense in North American comics: 1) comics that exist after their creators have ceased to. 2) these comics’ existence continues despite minimal effort to applicable to contemporary culture. Things that make perfect sense in North American comics: people’s general lack of interest in comics.” He points out a number of reasons why the comics audience is small and challenges creators and publishers to “Do better.” One point he makes that is rarely mentioned: The critical importance of editors. [Comix Cube]
It was the strangest thing — when I woke up this morning I was younger, single, and most of my clothes had high collars and funky seams….
Okay, let’s cut that out right now. Don’t worry, I’m still middle-aged and married, with the same beat-up wardrobe. However, I have read all but one of this week’s New-52 books, and now I get to share them with you. (The local comics shop got shorted on Batwing #1, which is too bad, because as one of the few sort-of new concepts being offered, I was especially looking forward to it. Next week for sure!) Generally I thought most had at least some potential, and I was mostly impressed with the efforts the various creative teams made. Of course, that doesn’t mean I liked everything, but I did like more than I thought I would.
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DC Comics continues its promotional assault in the press to push “The New 52″ to a mainstream audience, with the theme this week, apparently, being diversity. At least four stories this week — three of which were posted Wednesday — tackled the subject and put the spotlight on Static Shock, Batwing and more. Here are some of the highlights:
• The Huffington Post previewed the first issue of Judd Winick and Ben Oliver’s Batwing yesterday, the same day it arrived in shops. Winick spoke to Bryan Young about the origins of Africa’s Batman: “… if you consider that we’re coming from a starting place that this is a Batman who lost his parents to AIDS and was a boy soldier. That’s square one for us. In the first couple of pages Batwing is talking about the fact that one of the things Batman has to do is instill fear. And Batwing points out that he’s not really sure that a man dressed up as a bat is really going to scare the average criminal in Africa. Batman just tells him that ‘you’re just going to have to sell it.’ And that’s the point, it’s a different world.” An unabridged version of the interview can be found at Big Shiny Robot.
It’s finally here: The first full week of DC’s New 52 brought 13 brand-new titles – only the tip of the iceberg as September progresses. If the quality of this week’s books is any indication of the rest of the New 52, there will be some very difficult cuts to make at the end of the month.
From now through the end of September, I’ll provide brief overviews of each book with the pull-list status at the end. With no further ado, it’s time to jump into Week 2 of the New 52! Prepare for a number of Bat-family books, the new JLI, Sgt. Rock for the modern age and more!
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
This book sets the benchmark for this week as to what a New 52 #1 should be. Jeff Lemire brings new life to Buddy Baker in an incredible story that both takes advantage of the character’s rich history and introduces new elements in the spirit of DC’s relaunch. Not only does Lemire give readers a welcome reintroduction to Animal Man with a stunning cliffhanger that will leave them wanting more, Travel Foreman’s interior pencils are gorgeous, only adding to the unique feel that Lemire gives this title. It’s a great first issue, and I can’t wait to read more. If I could read only one New 52 issue this week, this would be it.
Retailers | Little Island Comics — “the first kids comic book store in North America–maybe even the world” — opens its doors today in Toronto. The store is owned and operated by The Beguiling, and is located around the corner from the flagship store. The store will hold an official grand opening in a few weeks. [The Comics Reporter]
Publishing | DC Comics co-publisher and Justice League artist Jim Lee discusses his work on DC’s flagship title, which came out in digital form last Wednesday, the same day it hit comic shops. “It’s also setting records digitally. I can’t give numbers, but on the first day it set a record for us,” Lee tells Heidi MacDonald.
That leads Tom Spurgeon to throw a flag on the play: “… it looks like DC won’t be releasing its New 52 digital numbers but will feel confident in making claims on their behalf. It also looks like comics sites will then repeat this claim as news, perhaps qualified by source or as a claim but still putting that information out there. This should stop. I think DC has a really dubious history with using the hidden portions of their numbers to PR advantage — call it the ‘I have a girlfriend in Canada’ of sales analysis. My take is that this practice has intensified slightly ever since the numbers have become smaller and therefore more crucial. When in the 1990s sales on mainstream comics dipped to the point where people questioned the profitability of certain issues of certain titles, perhaps leading to a line of analysis about mainstream publishers making books at a loss for market share advantages or to knock other comics from the limited stand space, we were sometimes assured that there were sales elsewhere we didn’t know about that pushed certain comics over this projected threshold.” [Salon, The Comics Reporter]
To see what Daniel and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
If there are any lingering concerns that DC Comics’ sweeping September relaunch — re-branded this week as “The New 52″ — is actually a reboot, the publisher is working doggedly to stomp them out, tackling the issue head on this morning in an email to retailers.
Titled “The New 52 and You,” the message from Senior Vice President-Sales Bob Wayne wades into the thorny issues of continuity, devoting three of the email’s 10 “general” questions specifically to why the initiative isn’t the dreaded R-word. It’s familiar territory for Wayne, who insisted to those same retailers in early June what the New DCU is not. “It is not a ‘reboot,’” he wrote at the time. “I think you will soon discover why that is.”
Why that is, Wayne now explains, is that “a reboot is typically a restart of the story or character that jettisons away everything that happened previously.” That probably amounts to hair-splitting, if not a convenient redefinition of the term, but okay.
“This is a new beginning which builds off the best of the past,” he continues. “For the stories launching as new #1s in September, we have carefully hand-selected the most powerful and pertinent moments in these characters’ lives and stories to remain in the mythology and lore. And then we’ve asked the best creators in the industry to modernize, update and enhance the books with new and exciting tales. The result is that we retained the good stuff, and then make it better.”
The same argument probably could have been put forward in 1986, with the conclusion of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which restarted characters like Superman and Wonder Woman, wiped others out of existence and left still others relatively untouched (but caused many, many problems down the road; see Wonder Girl, Justice League and Justice Society history and the All-Star Squadron, for starters). Similarly, 1994’s Zero Hour scrapped Legion of Super-Heroes continuity, monkeyed with the various Hawkman characters, and changed aspects of Batman’s and Catwoman’s origins while leaving the most powerful and pertinent moments in these characters’ lives.
Last night Jock offered a sneak peek at “some Joker business” from August’s Detective Comics #881, the conclusion of his well-regarded run on the series with writer Scott Snyder, and the final issue before DC Comics’ big line-wide relaunch. It’s “the issue everyone will be talking about,” the publisher promises. That may be hyperbole, of course. But it also may be because Jock’s snapshot of a crowbar-wielding Joker harks back to a 22-year-old scene from Batman #427 that didn’t turn out so well for the character on the receiving end. Oh, sure, Jason Todd got better; it just took him 15 years.
Check out the original sequence after the break. Detective Comics #881 hits shelves on Aug. 10.
Although it seems like DC’s big relaunch announcement came out an eternity ago, it actually took the publisher less than two weeks to roll out the 52 titles and their creative teams for the big relaunch/reboot/overhaul coming in September. Now that the cats are out of their respective bags, I thought I’d see where various creators and characters will land after the reboot.
So I went back through DC’s August solicitations to see who was writing or drawing what, and tried to map everyone to their post-relaunch project — if they had one. However, looking at DC’s August solicitations, there seem to be several fill-in issues, so where appropriate I tried to map the most recent ongoing creative teams to their new projects (for instance, I consider Gail Simone and Jesus Saiz the regular creative team for Birds of Prey, even if they aren’t doing the last two issues before September hits). Keep in mind that I just went through the ongoing series and skipped over all the miniseries … of which there are a lot, what with Flashpoint winding up in August.
It’s also worth noting that although several creators didn’t appear in the “big 52″ announcements, that doesn’t mean their tenure with DC is necessarily over — some, like Frazer Irving, have said they have future projects that haven’t been announced. So I tried to note where creators have talked publicly about their post-relaunch plans with DC (or lack thereof, as the case may be). The same could probably be said for some of DC’s characters as well. Or, as Gail Simone said on Twitter: “Again, September is NOT THE END. There’s still plans for characters that we haven’t seen yet.”
So let’s get to it ….
DC spent the day rolling out announcements about the Batman books in anticipation of its line-wide September relaunch…with one conspicuous absence until the very end.
So, Bruce Wayne is reclaiming sole possession of the mantle of the Bat, while Batman and Detective Comics are swapping creators: Batman writer/artist Tony Daniel will be taking over Detective Comics, while ‘Tec writer Scott Snyder is taking over Batman with artist Greg Capullo of Spawn fame. Both books will star Bruce Wayne rather than his protege and stand-in Dick Grayson beneath the cape and cowl.