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It’s deja vu all over again for the Diamond Gem Awards: Voted on by comics retailers, the winners this year look a lot like the 2013 lineup, with Image Comics and BOOM! Studios once again taking honors as top publishers in their divisions. Marvel was named top dollar publisher, DC Comics as top backlist publisher and Viz Media as top manga publisher — just like in 2012 and 2013.
The first issue of the widely acclaimed Ms. Marvel was honored as comic book of the year in the under $3 division, and Thor #1 was the choice among pricier comics. The Amazing Spider-Man #1 brought in the most dollars, however. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was named the best all-ages comic of the year, Batman: Earth One took the honors as best original graphic novel, and Box Brown’s Andre the Giant was the best indie comic.
In terms of who got what, DC Comics won seven awards, Marvel won six and Dark Horse won three, including best anthology for Dark Horse Presents, another three-peat.
Here’s the full list of winners:
Diamond Comic Distributors has unveiled the Free Comic Book Day 2015 commemorative T-shirt designed by Amanda Conner and colored by Paul Mounts.
The tee, which will be available in adult and youth sizes from the January issue of Previews, depicts images of a variety of young readers — one of them otherworldly — enjoying comic books, set against a FCBD logo.
“I remembered what many of us comic book readers actually are … frustrated superheroes,” Conner said in a statement. “I thought about making a piece of art that would resemble a superhero insignia. Hopefully when you see it from a distance, that’s what it looks like.”
On Saturday, comic shops across North America and around the world will celebrate Halloween ComicFest, which has taken on the dimensions of a second Free Comic Book Day. This is a relatively new event — the first was held in 2012 — but according to the HCF website, more than 1,400 stores participated last year, attracting 100,000 customers. The event is run by a group of retailers, publishers and suppliers, with Diamond Comic Distributors handling publicity and a lot of the logistics.
This year’s comics lindup includes 12 full-size comics and seven minicomics, although all retailers may not offer all titles. It looks like most of the comics are repackaged first issues of series that have been around for a little while, like Afterlife With Archie, Rachel Rising and Scooby-Doo Team-Up — all fitting choices for Halloween reading. Zenoscope offers a reprint of its first Halloween Special, and Avatar Press has the first issue of Max Brooks’ Extinction Parade.
Digital comics | The digital comics publisher Thrillbent has launched its own iPad app, which allows users to read Thrillbent comics and also load in their own comics in PDF, CBR and CBZ formats via Dropbox. [iTunes]
Publishing | Diamond Comic Distributors is dropping the price of its monthly Previews catalog from $4.50 to $3.99 with the January issue (in stores Dec. 24). That, as the company notes, is “the average price of a standard monthly comic book.” [PreviewsWorld]
Publishing | Dark Horse plans to publish the historical graphic novel Nanjing: The Burning City, by Ethan Young (Tails). [The Beat]
Events | The driver who plowed through the crowd last month at the annual SDCC ZombieWalk: San Diego, injuring a 64-year-old passersby, has given an interview providing his version of the event, saying he had turned off the engine to wait for the parade to pass when participants began surrounding his car. The situation quickly escalated, he says, when a spectator sat on the hood and hit the windshield, shattering it, and another person opened the back door. “I got scared. That’s when I plowed my car through the crowd,” says the unidentified 48-year-old. “I had to do this to save my family because of the crowd. I couldn’t tell if the parade was done.” He adds, “I felt awful about it. I just couldn’t believe that I actually hit the old lady.” [iDeafNews, Times of San Diego]
Merchandise — toys, apparel, posters, etc. — was the strongest category, climbing 10.4 percent over the same period in 2013, while graphic novels inch upward 2.9 percent. Sales of comics slipped 1.4 percent. In a statement, Chris Powell, Diamond’s vice president of retailer services, framed the performances of the comics and graphic novel categories as “level compared to last year, but [they] are still 12 percent above 2012 sales figures.”
Diamond Comic Distributors and Diamond Select Toys have announced 22 exclusives for Comic-Con International, ranging from limited-edition variant covers to statues and busts to Minimates.
All of the items will be available, while supplies last, July 24-27 at the Diamond PREVIEWSworld booth (#2401):
Diamond Comic Distributors, which in February shuttered its own short-lived digital program, has signed a multi-year agreement for Trajectory Inc. to convert comics for digital distribution worldwide.
This morning’s announcement is light on details, stating only that Trajectory will produce digital comics through a facility in Beijing for distribution through its network of online retailers and school and library vendors. However, Publishers Weekly reports that, under the agreement, publishers will pay a one-time fee of $1 per page for production, and upload PDFs of their comics to a Trajectory website; the company will then convert those PDFs into the formats specified by each retail channel.
PW notes that the partnership provides Diamond with a much-needed digital component, even if it’s not actually a replacement for Diamond Digital: That initiative, which seemed doomed from the start, was intended to give direct-market retailers a digital comics service that didn’t compete with them; the Trajectory deal creates a service for comics publishers intended to compete with comiXology, the now Amazon-owned market leader.
The creators of The Walking Dead: The Prison board game may have jumped the gun over the weekend when they canceled their Kickstarter campaign and announced an exclusive agreement with Diamond Comic Distributors and its subsidiary Alliance Game Distributors.
“We have not agreed to an exclusive distribution deal for this game,” John Wurzer, Diamond’s vice president of purchasing, tells ICv2.com. “We have been having discussions regarding the possibility of a distribution agreement, but none is in place.”
Launched early last month, the Kickstarter campaign was intended to raise $81,100 to produce a licensed standalone sequel to Z-Man Games’ hit 2011 release Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead: The Board Game, based on the bestselling comic series (rather than the television adaptation, like Cryptozoic’s game). But on Saturday, after securing $31,830 in pledges, the creators announced they had struck “an amazing distribution deal with the perfect distribution partner,” and therefore didn’t “feel comfortable continuing to ask for funding money through Kickstarter.”
ICv2 reached out to game designer Keith Tralins, who replied, “I can’t really comment right now, other to say [sic] that discussions are ongoing.”
Set for Saturday, May 3, Free Comic Book Day 2014 boasts 60 titles, ranging from the Bongo Free-For-All and The Smurfs to Guardians of the Galaxy and the 2000AD Special.
Ever the salesman, Lee delivers his lines with flair, and plenty of hand gestures, directing folks to their local comic book store on Saturday, May 3 for this year’s event, which boasts some 60 titles.
Graphic novels | Marvel and DC Comics may dominate the direct market but the bookstore channel is another story: As ICv2 points out, neither publisher landed a title on Nielsen BookScan’s list of the 20 top-selling graphic novels in February. Instead, here’s what it looked like: six volumes of The Walking Dead, six volumes of Attack on Titan, two volumes of Saga, and single volumes of some well-established titles Locke & Key, Bleach, Naruto, Adventure Time and Avatar: The Last Airbender, and the adaptation of the novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. That makes Image Comics the winner of the month, followed by Kodansha Comics, and the list is heavy on books with tween and teen appeal. [ICv2]
Diamond Comic Distributors’ digital comics program, Diamond Digital, will shut down on Friday, although titles purchased through the service will continue to be available via iVerse’s Comics Plus app.
The news broke Friday at The Hollywood Reporter, where Graeme McMillan picked up on an email sent to retailers two weeks ago. The stated reason: “18 months after its launch, results indicate that Diamond Digital has not gained enough traction in the marketplace to continue.”
There are a lot of reasons why Diamond Digital didn’t work, but I think chief among them is the initial concept was flawed. The idea wasn’t to provide readers with a simple, easy-to-use digital comics service; it was to protect brick-and-mortar retailers by providing them with a digital comics service that wouldn’t compete with them. That drive to avoid competition resulted in a clunky and almost-unusable platform. Meanwhile, comiXology took a different tack and expanded the comics market, bringing in new readers — who then found their way to comics shops and bought print comics.
Of course, the biggest problem operationally was that Diamond Digital catered to a market dominated by Marvel and DC but didn’t carry single-issue comics from either publisher. And granted, that is a huge flaw.
In documents filed last week in federal bankruptcy court in Omaha, Nebraska, the retailer lists $45,000 in assets and $919,000 in debt, of which $325,000 is owed to Diamond Comic Distributors.
Signs of trouble with Mail Order Comics became apparent last month when customers began complaining on the store’s now-deleted Facebook page about unfulfilled orders and website troubles. Discount Comic Book Service quickly stepped in to fulfill all orders.
DC Entertainment led with six awards, including Top Dollar Comic of the Year for Superman Unchained #1, with Dark Horse closed behind with five wins, including Original Graphic Novel of the Year for Hellboy: The Midnight Circus hardcover. Marvel earned honors for Top Dollar Comic Book Publisher of the Year and Comic Book of the Year (Under $3), for The Superior Spider-Man #1 NOW!
Other winners include Archie Comics’ Afterlife with Archie #1 for Comic Book of the Year (Under $3), Top Shelf Productions’ March: Book One for Indie GN of the Year, and Image Comics’ East of West for Best New Comic Book Series. The complete list can be found below.
Nominees were selected by a panel of Diamond Comic Distributors product specialist based on their impact on the industry (for the vendors), and sales performance and quality (for the products). The winners were then chosen by direct market retailers.