Soule Finds a Weakness in the Afterlife, Discusses Surprise "Inhuman" Return
Business | Indian digital comics and animation producer Graphic India has raised $2.8 million in seed financing, led by CA Media, the Asian investment arm of the Chernin Group (which previously acquired “a large minority stake” in the company). Founded in 2013 as a subsidiary of Liquid Comics, Graphic India is perhaps best known for the Stan Lee-created Chakra: The Invincible. The funding will be used to create content in English, Hindi, Tamil and other Indian languages for mobile devices. [Variety]
Creators | Geoff Johns says he returned to Superman because he was interested in giving the Man of Steel a new confidante: “When I was just thinking about the character and thinking about the story possibilities, every time my brain started to picture him talking to somebody with a problem he was having … or dealing with Clark and Superman, it always was just with another superhero. I quickly realized [Superman] didn’t really have anyone normal in his life that he could talk to again, because no one knew his secret.” The other reason: The opportunity to work with John Romita Jr. [Comic Riffs]
Lianne Sentar is a member of the generation that came to comics through manga and stuck with it, moving from reading to creating to publishing. The author of Tokyo Demons, she was writing Sailor Moon novels for Tokyopop when she was still a teenager and later worked as an adaptor and editor.
Two years ago, Sentar teamed up with former Tokyopop senior editor Lillian Diaz-Przybyl and two other women to create Chromatic Press, an independent publisher of comics, fiction and audio dramas. Their flagship publication, Sparkler Monthly, is a digital magazine that is based on the Japanese model of serialized stories. They caught the attention of manga fans immediately by getting the rights to one of the best-regarded graphic novels from Tokyopop’s global manga line, Jen Lee Quick’s Off*Beat. Their lineup also includes Christy Lijewski (RE:play) and rem (Priscilla Hamby), who won the Japanese Morning International Manga Competition for non-Japanese creators. Jason Thompson just dedicated his weekly “House of 1000 Manga” column to an in-depth review of the magazine.
Publishing | Early analysis of 2014 manga sales shows that the category has appeared to turn around, with sales increasing last year, driven by the Attack on Titan juggernaut. [ICv2]
Publishing | Black Mask Studios, which started as the publisher of Occupy Comics and now publishes a number of series in different styles and genres, launched a YouTube channel this week as an outlet for its animation and motion-comics projects. [The New York Times]
Manga | ICv2 kicks off a week of manga coverage with a two-part interview with Kevin Hamric, Viz Media’s senior director of sales and marketing. Sales are up, with particularly strong growth in the direct market, where their older and darker series, like the Signature line, tend to do better. Interestingly, sales of shoujo (girls’) manga are up 20 percent in the direct market as well. In bookstores, as measured by BookScan, they are the number one graphic novel publisher of 2014, and they had five of the top ten best-sellers. Given all that, Hamric is genial about ceding the top spot to a Kodansha title: “Attack on Titan is #1, but whatever works and brings people into the stores and into the category is good for everybody.” In Part 2, he reveals what he expects to be the biggest book of 2015, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. [ICv2]
Political cartoons | Legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki said in a Japanese radio interview that it was a “mistake” for the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. “For me, I think it’s a mistake to make caricatures of what different cultures worship,” he said when asked about the January attack on the magazine’s offices that left 12 dead. “It’s a good idea to stop doing that.” Miyazaki reportedly said cartoonists should use caricature to target their own country’s politicians. “”It just looks suspect to go after political leaders from other countries,” he explained. [Kotaku]
Boys Over Flowers was one of the series that helped propel the manga boom of the mid-2000s. It’s a classic shoujo romance about a girl of modest means who goes to a fancy high school and ends up in a love triangle with two guys, one that’s haughty and one that’s nice.
Now, 12 years after the manga ended in Japan and five years after the final volume appeared in English, creator Yoko Kamio is back with a sequel series, Boys Over Flowers Second Season. And this time, it will be published online, for free, in both English and Japanese — and the English version comes out first.
It appears the story will still be set in the elite Eitoku Academy, but two years later than the original series and with a different cast of characters.
Manga | The 72nd and final volume of Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto, released in Japan on Feb. 4, topped the weekly sales charts, with 874,120 volumes sold in its first week. [Crunchyroll]
Conventions | With 10 fan conventions coming to Indianapolis this year, David Lindquist takes a look at the business of comics-themed entertainment, with interviews with Wizard World CEO John Macaluso and Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture author Rob Salkowitz. [Indianapolis Star]
Popular digital subscription service Scribd, often referred to as “Netflix for books,” this morning launched a comics section, giving users access to more than 10,000 titles from such publishers as Marvel, IDW Publishing, Archie Comics, Top Shelf, Top Cow, Valiant and Dynamite. The expansion brings the Scribd library to more than 1 million titles.
As part of the $8.99 flat monthly fee, users now can move beyond Scribd’s prose and audiobook offerings to read comics ranging from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and March: Book One to Afterlife With Archie and Ultimate Spider-Man.
Graphic novels | ICv2 has the January graphic novel chart from Nielsen BookScan, which tracks sales in book channels. Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? tops the list, with the fourth volume of Saga coming in second, and the 22nd volume of The Walking Dead in third. The list is a bit different from previous months because the chart began including nonfiction graphic novels just last month, and going forward ICv2 will break the titles into three categories: superhero/genre, manga and “author” graphic novels. The retailer-oriented website throws in some interesting bits of analysis, including the fact that six of the Top 20 titles — including books No. 1 and 2 — had female creators or co-creators. [ICv2]
Awards | Longtime MAD Magazine cartoonist Mort Drucker has been named as the first recipient of the National Cartoonists Society’s Medal of Honor. [Comic Riffs]
Coinciding with the release of the landmark Spawn #250, the entire library of Spawn comics — including the 20-volume Spawn Origins Collection — is now available digitally for the first time on comiXology.
As Todd McFarlane breaks it down on his Facebook page, “That’s over 23 years (and more than 5,300 pages of story and art) of the Spawn mythology available with one swipe of your finger.”
Auctions | A restored copy of Detective Comics #27, which marks the first appearance of Batman, is expected to bring in more than $100,000 in a Feb. 20 sale held by Heritage Auctions. According to the company, this would be only the second restored copy of that issue reach that milestone (several restored copies of Action Comics #1 have broken $100,000). A CGC-graded 4.5 copy of Batman #1 is expected to fetch more than $65,000 in the same auction. [Antique Trader]
Passings | Cartoonist Joseph Farris, whose work appeared in The New Yorker and other publications for almost 60 years, died last week at his home in Bethel, Connecticut. He was 90. Farris served in the Army during World War II, and he later wrote a memoir, A Soldier’s Sketchbook, that included drawings he did while on the front lines in France and Germany. He recently completed another memoir, Elm Street, about growing up in Danbury, Connecticut. Farris once described his work as “subtly political,” adding that his goal was to make the reader laugh, then stop and think “Wait a minute. What did he say?” [The News-Times]
Developer 800 North has teamed with artist Tommy Lee Edwards and media company Spark and Roar to create a comic based on its first-person shooter video game Dino D-Day.
Debuting in 2011, the game is set in an alternate history where Adolf Hitler discovered a way to resurrect dinosaurs to create a massive army.
Titled Operation Genesis, the comic tells the origin stories of the game’s two lead characters — Colonel Nigel Blythe-Crossley and Captain Jack Hardgrave — through a unique collaboration: Spark and Roar’s Gregory R. Little wrote the story, for which Edwards created full-color layouts. Then 800 North’s Abe Scheuermann and Brian Ulrich used the game as “a virtual prop house” to create the necessary images.
Nobrow Press co-founder Sam Arthur once described the company’s mission as “to publish books that deserved to be printed — and by that I mean they needed to exist as tactile objects that people [can] collect and cherish.” This has been borne out over the years as Nobrow established itself as a publisher that paid painstaking attention to the production process.
Given that, it’s not surprising that it took Nobrow seven years to go digital, and when it did, it came up with a digital solution that addresses the physical aspects of its comics.
Legal | Kuala Lumpur police raided the office of the Malaysian cartoonist Zunar and seized 149 copies of his books Conspiracy to Imprison Anwar and Pirates of the Carry BN. They were looking for the cartoonist himself, but he was in the United Kingdom, speaking at Oxford and Cambridge universities and giving a talk in London titled “To Fight Through Cartoons.” In a press release, Zunar said the raid occurred under the Printing Presses Act, Sedition Act and Penal Code, and that he would be called to the police station on his return to the country; he was arrested under that act in 2010. He also tweeted, “If the cartoons are defamatory, those who feel aggrieved should file a civil suit. No problem. I oppose the use of criminal laws like the Sedition Act” [The Malaysian Insider]
Political cartoons | Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Zineb El-Rhazoui, on a fundraising tour in Canada, said the terrorists who attacked the magazine’s offices and killed 12 people were the ones who made a mockery of religion, not the cartoonists who drew caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. “This is the most ugly caricature, that this is the most ugly picture of their religion,” she said. “It is not the pictures made by Charlie Hebdo.” [CTV News]
Publishing | Portland, Oregon, will be the home base for Heavy Metal’s new line of comics, which was announced in October, following the company’s sale to David Boxenbaum and Jeff Krelitz. “I think it’s being closer to the talent,” Krelitz said. “If you wanted to be a painter in the early 20th century, you went to Paris. The comics line launches in March with the second season of Michael Moreci and Steve Seely’s Hoax Hunters. The company plans to be publishing eight original series by the end of this year and another 12 next year, building up to 50 in five years. “We’re positioning to be a premier publisher,” Krelitz said. [The Oregonian]
Passings | Editorial cartoonist R.K. Laxman, who maintained a running commentary on Indian politics for almost 60 years, has died at age 93. The younger brother of novelist R. K. Narayan, Laxman got his start illustrating his brother’s work as well as doing drawings for local newspapers. He became an editorial cartoonist for the Times of India around 1947, about the time India became an independent country, and stayed there until 2010. Laxman’s most famous creation was the Common Man, a character that stood in for the average Indian. As the official obituary in the Times of India said, “His Common Man, created in 1957, was the symbol of India’s ordinary people, their trials and tribulations, their little joys and sorrows, and the mess they found themselves in thanks to the political class and bureaucracy. But despite the sobering reality of this, there was never any rancour in Laxman’s cartoons. His humour was always delightful, and no one could hold a candle to his brushstrokes.” [Times of India]