PREVIEW: Frank Miller's "Dark Knight Universe Presents: The Atom"
Legal | Game company SNK Playmore has dropped its charges against manga publisher Square Enix and will allow the manga Hi Score Girl to use its characters without penalty. Last year, SNK filed a criminal complaint against Square Enix, charging that the manga, a comedy about gamers, included more than 100 instances of unauthorized use of SNK Playmore’s characters. As a result, serialization of the manga was suspended while police pursued charges against 16 of the people involved in its publication. Today, Square Enix announced that the two companies have reached an agreement: SNK Playmore has dropped its claim, and the two companies will work together with regard to sharing their characters. [Anime News Network]
Graphic novels | Once again, Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? leads the BookScan list of the top-selling graphic novels in bookstores. Volumes one and two of March also did well on the February chart, placing third and fourth, respectively. All four volumes of Saga made the list, along with three volumes of The Walking Dead and, shockingly, just one of Attack on Titan. [ICv2]
Creators | Jeff Lemire began getting calls from Hollywood even before the first issue of his new series Descender, a collaboration with artist Dustin Nguyen, came out. But while they sold the film rights to Sony Pictures, Lemire is determined the comic will come first: “I think one of the biggest things that went into us choosing Sony [was], we made it very clear — and they were very receptive — that we were going to tell the comic book the way we wanted to tell the comic. Meaning, if in the comic we wanted to veer left and they wanted to go right with the movie, we could do that.” [Comic Riffs]
Measuring less than 2 inches tall, the figures — Batman, Robin, Nightwing, Catwoman, The Joker, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy — come in randomly selected two-packs and in six colors. No price is given, but they’ll be available in June.
Nguyen’s designs for a pint-sized Gotham City are proving to be popular in the collectibles market: Last year DC Collectibles unveiled a line of Lil’l Gotham action figures.
Readers and, especially, retailers may have plenty of reasons to be annoyed by Superman Unchained, the now-complete series available this week in a fancy-schmancy 350-page, slightly oversized hardcover “Deluxe Edition.”
DC Comics announced the awkwardly titled series — please note, there are no literal or metaphorical chains either going on or coming off in the story — as an ongoing, promoted with seemingly countless variant covers (more on these later). In theory, it sounded like a can’t-miss comic, featuring as it did the work of Scott Snyder, one of (if not the) most popular writers in the direct market and Jim Lee, one of (if not the) most popular artists in the direct market, working on DC’s flagship (and second-most popular) character.
In reality, the book turned out to just an nine-issue miniseries, rather important information a retailer would have taken into consideration when ordering. Whether or not it was always intended to be a miniseries, I don’t know; it reads as a complete story with a beginning, middle and end, and it fits into the New 52 continuity, but loosely enough that one need not have any idea what’s going on in any other book to follow it easily (Snyder really pulled off some great line-straddling here, as this reads equally well as part of the New 52 and as a standalone book for a new or lapsed Superman fan). The plan might have originally been for it to be ongoing, until the reality of a Lee drawing a monthly series set in.
Even at just nine issues, Superman Unchained was plagued with delays that made reading it serially something of a chump’s game. It took 15 months to publish those nine issues. That averages out to a bimonthly-ish schedule, but the delays were random and erratic: Issues 4 and 5 shipped in consecutive months, for example, and then there was a two-month delay before Issue 6, and a three-month delay before Issue 7. If there’s a more perfect argument for waiting for the trade than Superman Unchained, I’ve yet to hear it (you even get all 58 covers in this collection, some process stuff and no ads, and at $29.99 it’s cheaper than the buying all nine single issues at $3.99).
So, yes, if you’re in the business of trying to sell comics to people, you may have some ill will toward this book. And if you tried reading it “monthly,” you may also not feel great about it. I can’t defend DC’s production or marketing of the book, but I would argue in favor of forgiving Superman Unchained. Because the thing is, it’s actually a pretty great Superman story.
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Hitting shelves today, Captain Midnight #16 is a special Halloween-themed issue by writer Joshua Williamson, artist Fernando Dagnino and colorist Javier Mena. To mark its release, editor Jim Gibbons provided ROBOT 6 with a glimpse into Dustin Nguyen‘s cover process, as well as the evolution of some of the interior pages.
September marches on, Wednesday by Wednesday, which means so too does DC Comics’ theme month. This year the publisher has suspended publication of its New 52 titles, replaced them with Futures End one-shots, and slapped new and improved (i.e. smaller) lenticular 3D covers on them, each bearing a “#1.”
One could certainly question the logic in tying all of the New 52 books, even the extremely popular ones like Batman, to a middling weekly series set in a possible future that will never come to pass and that seems to be a fairly reliable mid-list seller. But this week’s crop of one-shots demonstrates that, despite the fact that each book has the words “Futures End” in the title, many of them have somewhere between nothing and very little to do with the actual plot of the event series.
In the previous two installments of our weekly look at these specials, I recapped the basic plot of Futures End. But this time, I see I need not even bother. DC shipped 11 of the books this week, but I only read five — and the only thing those issues shared in common is that they’re set five years in the future (not that they had much of anything at all to do with Futures End).
Dustin Nguyen has revealed a T-shirt design that undoubtedly will be a must-buy for fans of the artist and of the classic Wonder Woman: “Wonder Woman: Transform,” capturing the character’s fast-spinning change from Diana Prince to the Amazing Amazon. See the full image below.
The shirt will be available “soon” from Graphitti Designs.
The big news from DC Collectibles ahead of this weekend’s Toy Fair 2014 is, of course, the new collector’s line of 6-inch action figures based on Bruce Timm’s designs from Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures, debuting in November. There are also figures from the direct-to-video animated films Son of Batman and Infinite Crisis, and Superman, Wonder Woman and Zatanna statues, among others.
However, for my money, it’s tough to beat the announcement of a line of action figures based on Li’l Gotham, the digital-first series by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs, beginning with Batman, Robin, The Joker and Harley Quinn. Nguyen has posted his designs for the figures, which are just as adorable as you’d expect.
Political cartoonists | Michael Cavna looks into a report by the Cartoonists Rights Network International that Syrian cartoonist Akram Raslan was executed in July. Raslan was arrested last year by Syrian security forces and, together with a group of journalists, artists and other “intellectuals,” sentenced to life imprisonment. “Somehow, along the way to prison young 28-year-old Akram Raslan (and possibly others) was peeled off, taken out and executed,” the post said. “He is reported to be in a mass grave somewhere near Damascus.” However, CRNI’s Robert Russell told Cavna they have been unable to confirm the report, which came from a “reliable source” close to Raslan’s family. [Comic Riffs]
Conventions | Heidi MacDonald and Calvin Reid file a comprehensive con report on New York Comic Con, including a conversation with ReedPOP Global Vice President Lance Fensterman and a look at the panels and booths. [Publishers Weekly Comics World]
BOOM! Studios and its imprints KaBOOM! and Archaia Entertainment have announced their exclusive comics and prints for New York Comic Con, held Oct. 10-13 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. All of the convention exclusives will be available for sale at the BOOM! booth (#1344), where a number of creators also will be signing.
…I strongly believe you should start out with a great influence, learn from them, mimic them if you have to, its all healthy for the creative learning process. But at some point, once you start getting paid for your work and considered a professional in a certain field, you have to realize that it’s sort of lazy to mimic another artist’s style for your own profit. It’s insulting to the artist you consider a hero or inspiration, and also insulting to yourself as a creative individual in a sense. We ALL have done this, myself guilty, but you have to know where to draw the line for yourself. If clients wanted, say a … Travis [Charest], or Joe Mad, or Adam Hughes, those guys are still alive, they can hire them.
– Dustin Nguyen, on the development of artistic style.
Every artist I’ve ever talked to about influences — and this includes writers, too — has shared this same story of mimicking someone else’s style until developing his or her own. As Nguyen says, the trick is knowing when to get out and be your own thing.
Dustin Nguyen may be best known for his Batman work, but he’s more than that. Aside from the astounding breadth he’s shown doing great dark stories with Paul Dini on Detective Comics all the way to his kid-sized capers in the digital-first Lil’ Gotham, Nguyen has an imagination that stretches far beyond Gotham City… all the way to the Land of Ooo.
In this week’s Adventure Time Annual #1 from BOOM! Studios, Nguyen has done a great two-page Adventure Time comic in which Finn and Jake are held back from a party with a strict “no dogs allowed” policy. Written by Bryce Carlson, the strip is Nguyen’s first non-DC interior work. Also included in Adventure Time Annual #1 is a story written by Nguyen’s longtime collaborator Derek Fridolfs. Here’s the two-page story Nguyen drew:
I imagine that Dustin Nguyen’s cute, chibi-style drawings of the Batman cast in Batman: Li’l Gotham will weed out the segment of comics readers who truly don’t care for that kind of art. For those who like the style, though – or those who, like me, don’t have strong feelings one way or the other about it – the first issue of Li’l Gotham kicks off what promises to be a great all-ages series.
There’s a scarcity of DC and Marvel comics that are appropriate for kids, so I’m all for whatever new thing those companies want to try. Nguyen’s character designs for Li’l Gotham are so adorable though that when I first saw them, I expected a super-sweet tone that I wasn’t sure I’d respond to. I want comics that kids can enjoy, but I don’t want them to be slight or to change the characters’ personalities beyond all recognition. If Li’l Gotham was just going to be Batman’s Precious Moments, I wouldn’t be able to stay interested. But that’s not at all what it is.
Despite his shortened body and enlarged head, Li’l Gotham’s Batman is my Batman: overly serious and unswervingly dedicated to fighting crime. But his rogues gallery isn’t as homicidal or destructive as the current, canonized versions of those villains, so Batman’s able to be a little more relaxed about how he takes them down. They’re still lawbreakers, just not especially deadly ones. For example, Nguyen and co-writer Derek Fridolfs are able to get them together at an Italian restaurant for Halloween without murdering each other.
Rather than continue Batman Incorporated following Grant Morrison’s announced departure, DC Comics will end the series with July’s Issue 13.
The news, revealed in IGN.com’s preview of the Batman solicitations, comes as little surprise, as the title was a vehicle for Morrison and artist Chris Burnham to tell the story of Bruce Wayne’s global team of heroes the writer began in 2010. The first arc volume ended in December 2011, following DC’s New 52 relaunch, with the second volume debuting in May 2012.
Everyone should start contributing to my secret island base and henchman pension fund, because as soon as I take over the world we’re getting a Victorian Batman series by Jeremy Bastian, in addition to Cursed Pirate Girl.