The True Goal of DC Comics' "Convergence" Has Been Revealed
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]
Crunchyroll, which rose to prominence as a streaming anime site and added digital manga last year, is launching a new line of original webcomics called Crunchyroll Originals, which will feature Japanese creators. The debut comic will be HYPERSONIC music club, a collaboration between writer Patrick Macias and artist Hiroyuki Takahashi. Here’s the pitch:
In the world of tomorrow… when technology has reached it limits… a group of young cyborgs must battle the extra-dimensional monster girls for final control of the enigmatic force known only as…The Mystery Frequency!
The free comic will be updated with two pages a month. There’s an interview with Takahashi at the Crunchyroll, and we asked Macias to talk a bit more about this comic and the Crunchyroll Originals line.
Robot 6: Will all the Crunchyroll Originals comics be collaborations between a Japanese and a non-Japanese creator, or is yours unique?
Patrick Macias: Right now, we have several projects in active development. Some of them are collaborations between Japan and U.S. staff, and others are coming purely from Japanese creators. The main thing is that we’re open to pretty much anything right now, including other formats besides webcomics, as long as it is a project that seems interesting and has creative potential.
Archie Comics has partnered with Humble to launch the first Archie Comics Humble Bundle, featuring more than a dozen digital titles, including The Death of Archie, Afterlife With Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
Humble allows you to name your price for DRM-free downloads, with a portion going to charity, in this case the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and The Hero Initiative.
To celebrate its third anniversary of going digital, Shonen Jump is offering four issues for free in the next four weeks, as well as a discounted price of $19.99 for a one-year subscription. The free issues are available via the Shonen Jump website and the Viz Manga and Weekly Shonen Jump iOS and Android apps.
The nice thing about an anthology is the variety, and the Jan. 19 issue, the first to be offered for free, has a good mix of stories. There’s One Piece, the long-running pirate tale; if you’re not particular about understanding the details of the plot, you can jump right in and enjoy the kinetic, cartoony battle scenes.
Toriko is another classic Shonen Jump story, about a group of “gourmet hunters” who travel the world looking for foods that are rare, hard to get, and uniquely delicious. It’s an odd combination of battle and foodie manga, and it’s fun to see big, over-muscled guys get all weepy over a salad, as happens in this week’s chapter, or watch a gourmet dig into a bowl of “Ojiya-style eyeball porridge.” It’s amazingly imaginative, and well worth a read.
Editorial cartoons | The leaders of Pakistan, Turkey and the Taliban on Thursday condemned the new Charlie Hebdo cover depicting the Prophet Muhammad. “If someone is printing a cartoon insulting the prophet, there is a provocation,” Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters. The lower house of the Pakistan parliament unanimously approved a resolution condemning the cartoons, and the Tailban emailed a statement saying, “We strongly condemn this repugnant and inhumane action,” which is “opening the door to provoking the sensitivities of nearly one and a half billion Muslims.” Also, several people were injured when police broke up an anti-Charlie Hebdo protest outside the French Consulate in Karachi. [Bloomberg]
Manga | Manga accounted for almost 80 percent of Japan’s digital book market in the 2013 fiscal year, according to a report released by the Yano Research Institute. The marketing research company predicts the country’s larger digital market, which is worth about $710 million, will see a 23.5 percent growth in the 2014 fiscal year. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Tom Devlin, creative director of Drawn and Quarterly, talks about the unlikely success of Tove Jansson’s Moomin comics. [Montreal Gazette]
Comics | Noah Berlatsky writes about Wonder Woman the character and Wonder Woman the comic. [The Atlantic]
When the first few pages of Wonder Woman ’77‘s inaugural installment finds the Amazon Princess squaring off against a trio of Soviet roller-derby assassins, clearly it’s setting a very specific tone. DC’s latest digital-first series borrows its core conceit from the successful Batman ’66, presenting new comics stories from the world of an old TV adaptation.
Indeed, so far it’s fairly faithful to the show’s then-present-day setting, with Diana Prince and Steve Trevor working for a fictional government intelligence agency (the IADC) and getting their exposition from IRA the computer. Accordingly, in terms of period pieces, it’s not exactly The Americans, but writer Marc Andreyko and artist Drew Johnson have done a great job capturing both the look of the show and the style of its leads. Their Lynda Carter is spot-on, and their Lyle Waggoner evokes TV-Steve’s sparkly toothed swagger perfectly. Johnson (with colorist Romulo Fajardo Jr.) draws an especially detailed 1977, from the subtleties of Wonder Woman’s costume to the crowds at Studio 52. (Of course it’s “Studio 52.”)