Paul Bettany Talks "Age of Ultron," Working with James Spader & More
Passings | Inker Rick Ketcham has passed away. Details are sparse, but Ketcham’s Facebook quickly filled with tributes from friends and colleagues who hailed his kindness, his professionalism, and his willingness to mentor others. Ketcham worked on a number of titles for DC Comics, Marvel, Dark Horse, Image Comics and other publishers, including The Amazing Spider-Man, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, G.I. Joe, New X-Men, Runaways and Venom. [Tsunami Studios Facebook]
Creators | Responding to the removal of Maus from Moscow bookstores as the Russian government cracks down on Nazi symbols, Art Spiegelman said, “It’s a real shame because this is a book about memory. We don’t want cultures to erase memory.” Retailers fear the swastika on the graphic novel’s cover may be enough to run afoul of a new law prohibiting “Nazi propaganda” as the country prepares to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Germany. “I don’t think Maus was the intended target for this, obviously,” the cartoonist told The Guardian. “But I think [the law] had an intentional effect of squelching freedom of expression in Russia. The whole goal seems to make anybody in the expression business skittish.” [The Guardian]
The British sci-fi anthology 2000AD was one of the first publishers to offer digital comics, and it ofers readers a choice: They can buy single issues and graphic novels within their iOS and Android apps or as direct downloads from their web store.
The advantage to the latter has always been that direct downloads are free of digital rights management (DRM) — they are simply files that can be freely moved from device to device — while comics purchased within the apps can only be read within the apps. Each way of buying comics has its advantages; the apps allow the user to store comics in the cloud and keep them organized in a single place on their tablet or computer, while PDF and CBZ files come with no strings attached.
Libraries | Michael Cavna talks to Drama creator Raina Telgemeier and Charles Brownstein of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund about graphic novel challenges in libraries and why Drama made the American Library Association’s 2014 list of 10 most challenged books. [The Washington Post]
Political cartoons | The East African cartoonist Gado has been let go from the Kenyan newspaper The Nation, apparently due to pressure from the government. The move came after the newspaper’s owner met with President Uhuru Kenyatta, who’s been pushing the publication to drop some its contributors critical of his government. Gado’s cartoons about various scandals, and his depictions of the president as a prisoner with a ball and chain and as a turbaned Sikh (following an attempted land grab that involved four entrepreneurs named Singh) have clearly hit a nerve. [Spy Ghana] Continue Reading »
Passings | Michael S. Bradley, owner of Collectors Kingdom in Huntington Station, New York, has died at age 48. The comic shop was destroyed in a fire in January, and Bradley, who had no insurance, lost all his stock. An IndieGoGo campaign to revive the store failed to meet its $25,000 goal, and Bradley’s last post on the store’s Facebook page thanked his customers and said he was “blessed to be allowed to be [the store’s] guardian.” He was rushed to the hospital on March 21 and passed away on April 6. No cause of death has been released. [ICv2]
Manga | The first printing of One Piece, Vol. 77, may have dropped below 4 million, but its sales aren’t slacking. According to Japanese market research firm, the latest volume of Eiichiro Oda’s hit manga has sold nearly 1.67 million copies since its release on Friday, more than seven times that of the No. 2 title on the weekly sales chart, the 67th volume of Tite Kubo’s Bleach. That’s marks a new weekly sales record for the year, surpassing the 67th volume of One Piece, which sold 1.6 million copies upon its release in January. [Crunchyroll]
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]