Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Comics | Benoît Peeters, a French comics writer, critic and Tintin expert, has been named as Lancaster University’s Visiting Professor in Graphic Fiction and Comic Art, characterized as the first appointment of its kind in the United Kingdom. “This professorship is a great honour for me,” said Peeters, whose works include Tintin and the World of Herge. “I want to explore the connections between the history of graphic fiction and contemporary creation, between the world of French and Belgian bande dessinée, and the world of comics and graphic novels.” [The Telegraph]
In a potential challenge to comiXology’s market dominance, Google Play Books has unveiled several upgrades intended to make it easier to find and read comics on its digital platform.
The new features include vertical scrolling in landscape mode, so viewing comics in mobile devices isn’t quite as frustrating, and curated pages on the Google Play Store. As you can see, the upgrades are specifically designed for comics fans.
Retailing | After nearly 30 years in business, Comic Kingdom — the oldest comic store in Sydney, Australia — will close its doors for good. Clayton Wildridge, who’s worked at the store for two decades and now manages it, points the finger at digital comics: “The culture has changed. It’s all internet and downloads now. The last thing I read said readership of comics was actually up, but purchases of hard copies were down. People download them instead and read them on the phone.” [The Daily Telegraph]
Retailing | Online retail giant Amazon will open its first brick-and-mortar store this morning in Seattle’s upscale shopping center University Village. Called simply Amazon Books, the store features between 5,000 and 6,000 books, from bestsellers to Amazon.com customer favorites. “Amazon Books is a physical extension of Amazon.com,” Jennifer Cast, vice president of Amazon Books, said in a statement. “We’ve applied 20 years of online bookselling experience to build a store that integrates the benefits of offline and online book shopping.” As The Seattle Times notes, the opening arrives with a dose of irony: For years Amazon has been able to undercut most other retailers largely because it didn’t have any physical locations. [The Seattle Times]
Legal | A Judge Dredd comic that makes fun of McDonald’s and Burger King is finally being reprinted in a collection, thanks to a change in the European Copyright Directive, which now allows creators to use copyrighted characters if the intent is clearly parody. In the “Burger Wars” story, first published in 1978, Judge Dredd is captured on a trip to the United States and force-fed fast food; the story includes images of Ronald McDonald and the McDonald’s logo. Another story, “Soul Food,” has a mad scientist creating versions of the Jolly Green Giant and the Michelin Man. Ben Smith of Rebellion Publishing says fans have been asking for years for these story to be reprinted in their collected editions, but they were held back for fear of legal action. When the law was changed, Smith said, they took another look: “It was like a light bulb went on. We thought: ‘Surely this means we can look at Burger Wars?’ We looked into it and here we are. This is straight-out pastiche, parody and arch satire. There didn’t seem any reason not to bring them to the public again.” [The Independent]
Crime | A woman in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, is offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the return of her brother’s collection of 280 vintage comics, including issues of Detective Comics, Batman, The Avengers and Captain America. Gail Munroe believes they were taken last month from her driveway as she was unloading her car; she briefly left the suitcase they were in unattended, but didn’t realize until days later that it was missing. She’s released a full list of the titles. [CBC News]
Conventions | Nick Vivarelli reports in from the Lucca (Italy) Comics and Games Festival, which with 254,000 attendees is the second-largest comic con in the world. [Variety]
Publishing | Filip Sablik, BOOM! Studios’ president of publishing and marketing, describes the company’s announced cutback in the number of titles as a contrarian move: “All of the major mainstream comic publishers are pushing out more titles. Since February’s ComicsPro meeting, it’s something we’ve consistently heard from the front lines of the industry. So we decided to swim upstream a bit by trimming back our line and really focus, doubling down on our marketing and our positioning for each title, believing that a sniper-like approach would yield better profitability.” [ICv2]
Awards | Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona has made the shortlist for the National Book Awards, only the third graphic novel to make it that far. At 23, Stevenson is apparently the youngest NBA finalist ever. Nimona is based on an idea Stevenson began toying with in high school and developed into her senior thesis at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She started posting the comic online, and a literary agent spotted it and signed her on. “I don’t know if I actually expected anything to come from signing with an agent — I assumed I’d self-publish, like most webcomic creators did,” she said. “Then my agent called me when I was in the middle of a class critique to tell me that he had sold it to HarperCollins, and that was that.” [Comic Riffs]
Digital comics | With Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto appearing this week at New York Comic Con, Viz Media is launching a dedicated Naruto app that will offer a chapter of the series every day for free (each chapter will be free for seven days). The app will sync with the VizManga digital comics platform, and users who buy one or more volumes of Naruto on either digital service this month will also get a bundle that includes the original pilot chapter Kishimoto created for the series, plus editors’ notes, chapter reviews and fan art. Viz is also offering discounts individual volumes throughout the month of October, with the first five volumes selling for $1.99 each. [Crunchyroll]
Publishing | DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint is the first comics company to use the Wattpad “social reading app,” where writers and publishers can share their work with potential readers around the world. Survivors’ Club writers Lauren Beukes and Dale Halvorsen are starting things off with a list of their favorite horror movies, and Gail Simone and Holly Black are expected to check in as well. [TechCrunch]
Conventions | Journalist Tom Spurgeon and Bone creator Jeff Smith, co-organizers of Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, discuss their concept for a truly comics-focused festival. “We’re almost at the point where we’re treating comics as a weigh station before you make your money or impact,” Spurgeon says. “Comics are solely what we do and it’s solely where our efforts go. We want this to be important. We want to celebrate older cartoonists who may have fallen out favor. We want to celebrate the anniversaries of great comics. It’s solely comics-focused.” [Paste]
Digital comics | Japanese publisher Kadokawa will relaunch its English-language e-book service BookWalker on Oct. 8 with 700 new manga and light novel titles. BookWalker, which includes a website and iOS and Android apps, debuted last year with a library of Kadokawa books, including Sgt. Frog and Neon Genesis Evangelion, some of which have also been published by Viz Media and Dark Horse. The new site will include a wider range of books from other Japanese and North American publishers. Kadokawa also runs ComicWalker site, which offers free chapters of manga in English. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Colin McEnroe interviews Zippy creator Bill Griffith about his new book, Invisible Ink, which is the story of his late mother’s affair with a cartoonist — or, as McEnroe puts it, “Zippy Meets Freud.” [NPR]
Manga | Kodansha Comics is teasing the “Biggest ‘Attack on Titan’ Manga Announcement Ever” for its Oct. 8 panel at New York Comic Con. Considering the worldwide popularity, and sales, of Hajime Isayama’s post-apocalyptic fantasy, that’s certainly a bold claim. The series has more than 50 million copies in circulation around the world; 2.5 million of those are in the United States. Kodansha also publishes the manga spinoffs Attack on Titan: Before the Fall and Attack on Titan: Junior High. [Anime News Network, Deb Aoki]
Manga | Attack on Titan has changed the manga market, Kodansha Comics’ top brass tell Deb Aoki, showing that manga can still sell in the millions even after the market slumped, and give publishers a new multimedia model, with spinoff manga and light novels, to build on its success. Hiroaki Morita, editor-in-chief of Shonen Magazine when Attack on Titan debuted, also talks about his early impressions and how he knew the manga would be a hit. Alvin Lu of Kodansha Advance Media also discusses plans for the company’s new digital division, which is publishing digital editions of Kodansha Comics’ current manga but will expand to do digital-first books as well. [Anime News Network]
With Labor Day behind us, for most folks it’s back to work. But by the time you read this I will be out of town, well into a two-day seminar. Naturally I take comics with me for the down time, and more often than not I take a couple of thick reprint books. Picking out specific volumes got me thinking about the changing nature of DC Comics’ reprints.
Now, I’ll try not to let this descend into some nostalgic pining, and I recognize that reprint formats aren’t the most exciting things. However, while today’s comics are available in print or digitally, and are collected routinely into more durable books, I’m not sure the older material is getting as much attention as it once did. To be certain, the older material is getting older all the time, with more added to it as the years go by; and modern audiences might well be satisfied with, say, just the past 20 years’ worth of DC’s output. Still, there’s value in those older stories, even if it’s just on an academic level; and I think it’s helpful to see how DC has treated it.
Conventions | After a profitable 2014, Wizard World Inc. is reporting a $1.8 million loss in the second quarter of 2015 (in contrast to a $760,000 profit during the same period last year), owing much to the rapid increase in the number of conventions it’s producing. However, as ICv2.com notes, the company is also seeing a drop in revenue per show. Wizard World also reports that its inaugural convention in China, held May 30-June 1, “was not as successful as we anticipated.” [ICv2]
Creators | Masashi Kishimoto says he’s done with Naruto and his friends, now that the manga has ended its 15-year run, and he’s also not eager to return to the grind of a weekly series. However, that doesn’t mean he’s putting away his pen and ink. On the contrary, he has already created character designs for a new sci-fi series, and he’s interested in working with the digital magazine Shonen Jump Plus, which would be more flexible with regard to the story’s length and schedule. “Since Naruto was a bigger hit than I could ever imagine,” he said, “I’d like to aim for the next hit. I don’t know when I can announce the next manga, but because I plan on challenging myself to surpass Naruto, please wait for it.” [Kotaku]