X-POSITION: Phoenix, Upstarts & More Tear Up Bowers & Sims' "X-Men '92"
Retailing | The direct market is looking good, with first-quarter sales up 29 percent over last year, according to figures released at the Diamond Retailer Summit. Heidi MacDonald reports, “There was no single element which seemed to be behind to surge, although sales of The Walking Dead comics and graphic novels were frequently mentioned. The general interest in “nerd culture” seems to be driving much of the merchandise and publishing growth, with more offerings in the housewares category a standout: Diamond is now offering their own line of such things as bottle openers and ice cube trays, such as a Walking Dead themed ice cube tray in the shape of body parts.” [Publishers Weekly]
Conventions | CBR and Robot 6 are covering C2E2 in depth, but for a quick overview, check out Christopher Borrelli’s recap and photo gallery. [Chicago Tribune]
Legal | Singapore cartoonist Leslie Chew was arrested last week on charges of sedition, held over the weekend, and released on S$10,000 bail. His cellphone and computer were also confiscated. The charges stem from two cartoons on Chew’s Demon-cratic Singapore Facebook page. [Yahoo! News Singapore]
Crowdfunding | Chris Sims tells the truly bizarre tale of a crowdfunding scam: Someone copied Ken Lowery and Robert Wilson IV’s Kickstarter campaign for Like a Virus, including the video, and made it into an IndieGoGo campaign, presumably planning to pocket the money and run. [Comics Alliance]
DC Comics has updated its New Frontiersman promotional website with a first, albeit small, look at interior artwork from Before Watchmen, the sprawling prequel to the seminal 1986 miniseries by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. The portfolio, featuring art by the likes of Lee Bermejo, Amanda Conner, Darwyn Cooke, Adam Hughes, J.G. Jones and Jae Lee, was shown Thursday at the Diamond Retailer Summit and Saturday at the “DC All Access: Before Watchmen” panel at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo.
“The numbers don’t lie: More people are reading Image comics every single week, and those numbers are going to increase, whether they get them from your stores or from someplace else, because no offense to everyone who made the last 20 years so vital and creative, but right now, we’re blasting headlong into the future and creating some of the best comics in history.
See – in the past, when everyone claimed the sky was falling, it was because we were losing readers in droves – and worse, we were losing stores – because our numbers had been inflated by speculation. But the reason the sky isn’t falling now – the reason we’re actually skyrocketing – is because there are readers – real readers, the kind of customers we all want – in abundance. It’s our job – yours, mine, and the creators we publish – to capture their attention and give them the kind of experience they’ll come back for again and again.”
– Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson, in his speech at the Diamond Retailer Summit at C2E2
Publishing | John Jackson Miller takes apart the December sales numbers and finds that while comics were up for the month, graphic novel sales fell just enough to prevent the direct market from having its first up year since 2008. In fact, trades are down 16 percent from December 2010, and Miller spends some time discussing why that might be — and why next year might be different. [The Comichron]
Publishing | Houghton Mifflin has high hopes for Are You My Mother?, the new graphic novel from Fun Home author Alison Bechdel: The publisher plans a first printing of 100,000 copies. [Publishers Weekly]
Retailing | Diamond’s Retailer Summit will be held the two days before the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, with attendees receiving free admission to the April 13-15 convention. [ICv2]
In its presentation Thursday at the Diamond Retailer Summit at C2E2, Marvel seems to have all but confirmed an “X-Men vs. vampires” storyline with the announcement of The Death of Dracula.
In its extensive overview of the summit, IGN.com reports that Arune Singh, the publisher’s manager of sales and communications, said the demise of Marvel’s lord of the vampires isn’t simply a throwaway story or an attempt to draw in horror fans.
“One of the biggest changes in the Marvel Universe in years starts here,” Singh is quoted as saying. It’s unclear from the report whether The Death of Dracula will be a one-shot, a miniseries or a banner for a crossover. Presumably, more details will be revealed this weekend in Chicago.
Dracula, who made his Marvel Universe debut in 1972, most recently appeared in the Hugo Award-nominated “Vampire State” story arc of the now-canceled Captain Britain and MI13. He was shown seemingly being destroyed at the end of the storyline, dispatched by an Excalibur-wielding Faiza Hussain.
At the Diamond Retailer Summit on Thursday at C2E2, the direct-market distributor floated the possibility of shifting comics-release day from Wednesday to Tuesday — a proposition frequently discussed among store owners and publishers.
According to a brief report at iFanboy.com, Diamond offered the idea contingent on retailer agreement to pay an additional $5 a week. In a show of hands, a Tuesday release narrowly won.
A Tuesday New Comics Day would put the direct market in line with DVD and book releases.
Developing, presumably …
Update: Heidi MacDonald has more details of the proposal, which would see all stores receiving shipments on Monday — rather than some on Tuesday and others on Wednesday — for a Tuesday street date. I was initially stumped by the reason for the $5 surcharge, but MacDonald reports it would be to fund a “Street Date Team” to help ensure that retailers don’t violate the Tuesday release.