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Diamond and Trajectory strike digital comics deal

Diamond Comic Distributors

Diamond Comic Distributors

Diamond Comic Distributors, which in February shuttered its own short-lived digital program, has signed a multi-year agreement for Trajectory Inc. to convert comics for digital distribution worldwide.

This morning’s announcement is light on details, stating only that Trajectory will produce digital comics through a facility in Beijing for distribution through its network of online retailers and school and library vendors. However, Publishers Weekly reports that, under the agreement, publishers will pay a one-time fee of $1 per page for production, and upload PDFs of their comics to a Trajectory website; the company will then convert those PDFs into the formats specified by each retail channel.

PW notes that the partnership provides Diamond with a much-needed digital component, even if it’s not actually a replacement for Diamond Digital: That initiative, which seemed doomed from the start, was intended to give direct-market retailers a digital comics service that didn’t compete with them; the Trajectory deal creates a service for comics publishers intended to compete with comiXology, the now Amazon-owned market leader.

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New comic aims to dispel ‘Comic Book Guy’ retailer stereotype

06-numberone-print-res

Every week new comics appear in stores worldwide, and soon a comic will explore how one of the stores came to be.

In the upcoming one-shot comic Number One, writer Gary Scott Beatty and artist Aaron Warner look behind the counter and into the world of comics retailing. Number One follows a budding comics fan named Steve as he transitions from reader to retailer. In a statement, Beatty said the stereotype of comic retailers is “distorted,” and he’s hoping to change that.

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Comics A.M. | Restricted erotic manga removed from Kindle store

Younger Sister Paradise 2

Younger Sister Paradise 2

Digital comics | Amazon has removed the manga Younger Sister Paradise 2 (Imōto Paradise! 2) from the Japanese Kindle store, two days after the Tokyo Metropolitan Government declared the manga a “harmful publication to minors” because of its “glorification of incestuous acts” and restricted its sale to customers over 18. As a result, beginning Friday, brick-and-mortar bookstores in Tokyo must keep the manga in a separate area for adults only. Whether because of all the attention or because it was unavailable elsewhere, the manga was the top-selling comic in the Japanese Kindle store before Amazon removed it. [Anime News Network]

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Flintmobile thieves yabba dabba doo their time on FCBD

flintstones-teens

What store owner Dave Downey called “the final chapter in the great Flintmobile Heist” came to a close Saturday as the three teens the replica appeared at World’s Best Comics and Toys in Sacramento, California, dressed as the Flintstones for Free Comic Book Day. And, of course, there’s video and photographic proof.

As we previously reported, the teenagers stole the 200-pound Flintmobile from in front of the store in mid-December, only to be apprehended about a month later. Instead of pursuing criminal charges against the apologetic culprits, Downey had a better idea: They could do some work around the store. However, this wasn’t just any work. As the retailer revealed last week, it would involve the trio dressing up as Fred, Wilma and Barney to help promote the store’s FCBD activities.

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Thieves steal $7,000 in Silver Age comics from California store

comic bugThieves smashed the door of The Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach, California, this week and made off with about $7,000 in Silver Age comic books, including The X-Men, The Fantastic Four and The Amazing Spider-Man. However, owners Jun Goeku and Mike Wellman seem to have retained their sense of humor.

“I guess they couldn’t wait, and they started Free Comic Day early,” Goeku told Easy Reader of the theft, which occurred sometime between 10:30 p.m. Sunday and 7 a.m. Monday.

The retailers also posted a photo of the burglary’s aftermath (at right) on the store’s Facebook page, “We never let a little thing like a store burglary get in the way of a GOOD TIME! Spread the word far and wide that FREE COMIC BOOK DAY is STILL ON at The Comic Bug this Saturday! We have an unprecedented amount of awesome cosplayers and comic creators.”

Indeed, The Comic Bug’s FCBD lineup includes appearances by the likes of Richard Starkings, Barbara Kesel, Richard Isanove, Jeff Stokely and D.J. Kirkbride. The store also plans on Tuesday to take FCBD to the to the pediatric ward at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance.

How many ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ variants are there (and what do they look like)?

asm1-variants

Marvel welcomed back Peter Parker this week in a relaunch of The Amazing Spider-Man that brought with it an avalanche of variant covers that undoubtedly triggered ’90s flashbacks with some readers (that may explain why you suddenly began worrying about Ross and Rachel and the whereabouts of your Rollerblades). But just how many covers are there?

The publisher hasn’t released an official figure, but best counts put the number close to 50, most of which are retailer custom covers purchased exclusively by stores and conventions. To get their hands on one of those exclusives, a retailer (or a convention, or a trade group like the Comic Book Retailers Alliance) had to order a minimum of 3,000 copies of The Amazing Spider-Man #1 for a standard edition; for a sketch version, the number dropped to 1,500 (both are the standard numbers for Marvel’s custom variants).

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Comics A.M. | A demand for rollback on same-day digital release?

"The Amazing Spider-Man" #1 variant by John Romita Sr.

“The Amazing Spider-Man” #1 variant by John Romita Sr.

Retailing | Dennis Barger, co-owner of Wonderworld Comics in Taylor, Michigan, and the driving force behind the new retailer association CBRA (Comic Book Retailers Alliance), says direct-market stores want publishers to pull back on same-day digital release, and debut the print comics first. He says ComicsPRO, the established, much larger, trade organization, is taking the wrong approach in trying to adapt to digital. Barger also feels that hand-selling by employees, not social media, is what propels sales of comics, especially non-Big Two titles: “The employees at local comic shops pushing these books is the difference in being in the top 200 and the bottom 300 in sales for those books.” A shift to digital, which removes the local comics shop from the equation, would thus harm second-tier publishers such as Dark Horse, BOOM! Studios and IDW. The association was able to purchase an exclusive variant cover for The Amazing Spider-Man #1, drawn by John Romita Sr., for its members. [The News-Herald]

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Comics A.M. | Golden Age artist Barbara Hall passes away

Harvey's Black Cat, by then Barbara Hall (from "Pretty in Ink")

Harvey’s Black Cat, by then Barbara Hall (from “Pretty in Ink”)

Passings | Isabelle “Barbara” Fiske Calhoun, who as Barbara Hall was an artist for Harvey Comics during World War II, died Monday at age 94. Calhoun and her first husband, Irving Fiske, left New York in 1946 and founded a commune in Vermont on land they bought with their wedding money. The commune became the Quarry Hill Creative Center and is “Vermont’s oldest alternative and artist’s retreat.” While the obituary mentions Calhoun’s comics career only in passing, Trina Robbins has more detail in Pretty in Ink: She says Calhoun drew the Black Cat, one of the first comic-book superheroines, and then was the artist for the Speed Comics feature, Girl Commandos, an all-woman team of Nazi fighters led by Pat Parker, War Nurse. “She left comics when her husband-to-be persuaded her to give up cartooning and become an oil painter, a gain for the world of fine art but a loss for comics,” Robbins writes. [Burlington Free Press]

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Quote of the Day | Comics industry’s ‘frozen adolescence’

“No idea has proven more damaging to the comics industry than the myth that its professionals — not just creators, but retailers, even distributors — work for love and not money. It’s a philosophy that has justified exploitation of creators and theft of intellectual property. It’s allowed the entire industry to pass the buck for its failures — from publishers to retailers, and retailers to — for decades. And it’s why the comics industry lingers in a frozen adolescence, clinging to a shrinking target audience like a sea captain railing at the storm — when the real problem is the rotting wood of his own hull.”

Rachel Edidin, former Dark Horse editor turned freelance writer and editor, addressing reactions to Amazon’s announced purchase of comiXology for Wired.com

Pennsylvania retailer seeks donations for charity auction

wadescomicmadness

Wade Shaw, owner of Wade’s Comic Madness in Levittown, Pennsylvania, is looking for donations for an auction to benefit one of his customers.

“Our longtime customer and friend Mike Pacenski is going through a terrible situation, as his 6-month-old daughter Willa has been diagnosed with leukemia,” he said in an email to CBR. “To assist with their mounting bills, on May 3 we will be running silent auctions, raffling prize baskets and selling ‘Team Willa’ wristbands all day, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the family.”

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Comics A.M. | Examining implications of Amazon-comiXology deal

Amazon and comiXology

Amazon and comiXology

Digital comics | Jeff Gomez examines the implications of Amazon’s planned acquisition of comiXology, opining that it will give comics a wider reach but also force publishers of superhero fare to broaden their appeal beyond the core demographic: “The books will now be exposed to millions of newcomers, so it will behoove major publishers to make their stories more female-friendly, streamlined, and accessible. With comiXology’s new aim to make ‘every person on the planet a comics fan,’ publishers will need to consider new genres, greater variety, and more varied age groups.” [Business Insider]

Digital comics | ComiXology will continue to offer its Digital Storefronts for retailers, and it will not allow Amazon to target users of its Pull List service with its own offers, according to spokesman Chip Mosher. Also, no changes are planned to comiXology’s other retailer tools. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | Cartoonist Jeff Pert passes away at age 55

jeff pert

Jeff Pert

Passings | Maine cartoonist Jeff Pert, best known for his cartoons and illustrations of lobsters and moose, died Friday on his way to the hospital with chest pains. He was 55. His cartoons adorned souvenir postcards and coffee cups, but he was also an active part of the local comics community in Brunswick, Maine, a regular at Casablanca Comics, and a participant in the Maine Comic Arts Festival. Pert created his first comic when he was in fifth grade and sold copies to local comic shops. “They probably gave us the money and then threw them in the garbage, but we were happy,” said his collaborator (and best friend) Jon Dumont. Pert was known for supporting other artists and even persuaded his local state representative, Maggie Daughtry, to start drawing her own comics: Daughtry knocked on Pert’s door when she was campaigning for office, and, she said, “Within an hour of meeting him, he literally changed my life.” When Daughtry told Pert that she had dreamed of being a cartoonist as a child, he encouraged her to start drawing again, which she did. [Portland Press Herald]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Attack on Titan’ Vol. 13 gets 2.75M-copy print run

Attack on Titan, Vol. 13

Attack on Titan, Vol. 13

Manga | Attack on Titan is as much of a manga juggernaut in its native Japan as it is the United States, and the 13th volume had a print run of 2.75 million copies, a new record not only for the series but for publisher Kodansha. [Crunchyroll]

Comics | Tom Risen has a thoughtful piece, which includes an interview with Axel Alonso, on how superhero comics have changed since the War on Terror began: “Superheroes since the 2000s have increasingly held up a mirror to controversies like mass surveillance, remote killings using drones and the ‘with us or against us’ mentality espoused by former President George W. Bush. Misuse of military technology also played a key role in recent movie adaptations featuring Batman, Spider-Man, Captain America and Iron Man, showing how fighting dirty to defeat evil can make America its own worst enemy.” [U.S. News & World Report]

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Brian Michael Bendis promotes Free Comic Book Day

fcbd-bendis

Brian Michael Bendis adds his voice to the chorus with a promotional video for Free Comic Book Day that emphasizes supporting local retailers. Stan Lee’s video made the rounds last week.

Set for Saturday, May 3, Free Comic Book Day 2014 boasts 60 titles, ranging from the Bongo Free-For-All and The Smurfs to Guardians of the Galaxy and the 2000AD Special.

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Omaha comic store damaged by fire reopening at new location

Dragon's Lair owner Bob Gellner, stocking racks at the new location

Dragon’s Lair owner Bob Gellner, stocking racks at the new location

An Omaha, Nebraska, comic store damaged late last month in a fire will reopen Wednesday at a new location about seven blocks away.

The blaze broke out Feb. 23 at 8316 Blondo St., which had housed the main location of Dragon’s Lair Comics & Games since it opened in 1976, causing about $300,000 in damage to the two stores on the first floor and the five apartments upstairs. An estimated 40 percent to 60 percent of Dragon’s Lair’s inventory was damaged by smoke or water.

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