They’re two Left tastes that’ll taste Left together: This Modern World cartoonist Tom Tomorrow and progressive pundit and activist Markos Moulitsas Zúniga have announced that Tomorrow is leaving his slot at the online magazine Salon to become the first-ever Comics Editor for Moulitsas’s popular liberal blog and political community, Daily Kos. Tomorrow’s final Salon comic ran today.
Retailing | The financially troubled Borders Group reportedly could file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as soon as today or Tuesday, setting the stage to close about 200 of its 674 Borders and Waldenbooks stores and eliminate thousands of jobs. [The Wall Street Journal]
Retailing | Diamond Comic Distributors revealed that 98 percent of the more than 500 direct market stores visited by secret shoppers during the first month of day-early delivery were found to be in compliance with the program’s street-date requirements. According to Diamond, of the 10 stores discovered to be in violation of the agreement, one was reported by another retailer while the others were discovered by secret shoppers. [ICv2.com]
Legal | Two Los Angeles men accused of selling counterfeit passes to this year’s Comic-Con International have pleaded guilty to theft and were placed on probation for three years. Farhad Lame and Navid Vatankhahan, both 24, were each ordered to pay a $750 fine, complete 10 days of community service and pay restitution to the victims.
Prosecutors say the two photocopied Comic-Con badges and sold them on Craigslist to people looking for last-minute memberships. They were arrested in July after two of their victims attempted to enter the convention using the counterfeit badges, which the women bought for $120 each. [The San Diego Union-Tribune]
Technology | Tech blog Chip Chick names DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson as one of its “Top 13 Women Who Impacted Technology in 2010.” [Chip Chick]
Face it, tiger-lovers — you just hit the jackpot: Check out this terrific gallery of early and rare art by Calvin & Hobbes cartoonist Bill Watterson. Included are pieces from the Kenyon College yearbook and student newspaper, covers from the political-cartooning journal Target, Watterson’s own editorial cartoons from the Cincinnatti Post, illustrations for an essay in The Comics Journal, self-portraits, a collection of Calvin & Hobbes sketches, and much more. The site design indicates that this is about a million Internet years old and thus many of you may have seen it before, but I sure haven’t, and it’s great way to see whole new side of Watterson — and a demonstration that his chops were ample even at a tender age.
Publishing | Calvin Reid interviews Kuo-Yu Liang, vice president of sales and marketing at Diamond Book Distributors, about the state of graphic novel sales, the international market, manga and more: “I think we are entering the golden age of selling graphic novels. The demographics and the audience are both broadening. We are lucky that the core readers have stuck with us through the recession. We are finding new readers crossing over from literary, commercial, speculative and genre fiction. Non-fiction graphic novels are doing well. We’re getting more kids and parents (I’ll talk more about that later). I also think the growth of internet shopping has changed the game, because now it is easier than ever to find what you like to read, and get recommendation from fellow readers. The key is still good books. Without them, we don’t have an industry.” [Publishers Weekly]
Publishing | Heidi MacDonald spotlights BOOM! Studios, with a focus on the publisher’s marketing efforts. “The secret to our success to go to the thing that other people haven’t done; it isn’t to go head to head against people, or trying to take their market share away or trying to duplicate their editorial style,” says co-founder Ross Richie. “We’ve had to invent a space in the market place to exist. ” [Publishers Weekly]
Publishing | The 60th volume of Eiichiro Oda’s popular pirate manga One Piece sold more than 2 million copies in its first four days of release. It’s the first book to move more than 2 million copies in its first week of sales since the Japanese market survey company Oricon began reporting its charts in 2008. As we reported last week, this volume’s 3.4 million-copy first printing set a record, and propelled the series past the 200 million-copy mark. [Anime News Network]
Editorial cartoons | Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Matt Davies has been laid off by the Gannett-owned Journal News in White Plains, N.Y. [Comic Riffs]
Publishing | Abrams has made three comics-related promotions: Susan Van Metre to senior vice president and publisher, overseeing all comic arts books as well as Abrams Books for Young Readers and Amulet Books; Charles Kochman to editorial director of Abrams ComicArts; and Chad W. Beckerman to creative director, overseeing design for all comic arts books as well as Abrams Books for Young Readers and Amulet Books. [Abrams]
Move over chromium: Check out the googly-eyes-enhanced cover for the new anti-Michele Bachmann comic
Finally, a cover gimmick that Real Americans can get behind. That eye-catching image above is of the cover to False Witness! The Michele Bachmann Story #4. Written by Bill Prendergast with art by Kevin Cannon, Danno Klanowski, Lupi McGinty, and James Powell, it’s the latest in a series of satirical takedowns of the Minnesota Republican Congressperson, mostly using her own outlandish quotes as ammo. This issue focuses on her religious views, and as such it features the disembodied head of Jesus Christ floating around like the Wizard of Oz with actual plastic googly eyes pasted on top. God Bless America!
Editorial cartoonists seem to be going the way of buggy-whip makers; the past few years have brought a litany of layoffs and, at least from the outside, it looks like staff cartoonists are becoming a thing of the past.
Cartoonist Daryl Cagle posted some surprisingly frank advice for editorial cartoonists on his blog this week. Depending on how you look at it, this is shrewd business advice or an enticement to dumb down and sell out.
Some of this is good nuts-and-bolts advice for freelancers: Think of what your editors want (not what you want to draw), plan ahead for holiday and seasonal cartoons, sell your archived cartoons on a per-use basis, and avoid local papers — there’s no money in that market. Learn to draw — words alone can’t carry a cartoon.
But it is also rather disturbing. Let’s return to that first point, about pleasing editors:
Legal | A bill introduced this week in the U.S. Senate would allow the Justice Department to seek court orders against piracy websites located anywhere in the world. The bipartisan legislation, called the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, would permit the government to seek an injunction ordering a U.S. domain registrar or registry to stop resolving an infringing site’s domain names. That means a visitor attempting to access a targeted piracy site would instead get an error message. Domains outside of U.S. control could be blocked by Internet service providers upon a court order. [Threat Level, ICv2.com]
Business | Time Warner has extended the contract of Warner Bros. Chairman and CEO Barry Meyer through December 2013 as part of a management restructuring that sees WB President and COO Alan Horn shifting from his current position into a consultancy role in six months. And in a move that may look vaguely familiar to watchers of DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. executives Jeff Robinov, Bruce Rosenblum and Kevin Tsujihara will share as part of a new Office of the President that will report directly to Meyer beginning in April. DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson reports to Robinov, currently president of Warner Bros. Picture Group; it’s unknown whether that will change in the new structure. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Publishing | Marvel reportedly has issued a round of Digital Millennium Copyright Act notices to Google in an effort targeting Blogger sites that serve as clearinghouses for links to pirated comics. (Blogger was purchased by Google in 2003.) One such blog, Comics Invasion, already has been shut down. [Bleeding Cool]
Passings | Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Paul Conrad passed away Saturday of natural causes. He was 86. The winner of three Pulitzers, an achievement matched by just two other cartoonists in the post-World War II era, Conrad worked for the Los Angeles Times for nearly 30 years, and earned a place on President Nixon’s infamous “enemies list.” [Los Angeles Times, Comic Riffs]
The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna spotlights The Cartoonist Studio, a new website launched by eight cartoonists — Tom Batiuk, Greg Evans, Jeff Keane and Mike Luckovich, among them — to showcase their work areas and, eventually, sell their work.
“I think there is some general curiosity about cartoonists’ studios — I know I loved going through the site and seeing the other people’s workspaces,” Speed Bump creator Dave Coverly says. “We’re spread all over the country, and generally work from home, so there’s a lot of individuality on display on these pages.”
Legal | A federal judge in Madison, Wisconsin, heard testimony Monday from Neil Gaiman, Todd McFarlane and Dark Ages Spawn writer Brian Holguin, but didn’t rule on Gaiman’s claim that he’s owed royalties from the characters Dark Ages Spawn, Domina and Tiffany.
In 2002, a jury found that Gaiman co-owned the copyrights Medieval Spawn, Angela and Cogliostro, which he created in 1993 for McFarlane’s Spawn series. Since then the two creators have attempted, with little success, to determine how much money Gaiman is owed for the three characters.
On Monday, Gaiman testified that he thinks Dark Ages Spawn is merely a copy of Medieval Spawn, while Domina and Tiffany are copies of Angela. Holguin, who created Dark Ages Spawn, said any similarities to Gaiman’s character were unintentional, while McFarlane argued that all of the versions of Spawn share certain features. The judge gave both parties until June 25 to submit additional arguments. [The Associated Press]
Whether or not Kick-Ass tops the weekend box office — it probably will — its marketing campaign has ensured the movie’s infiltration of popular culture. Nikki Finke points out that this morning’s Boston Herald features this political cartoon by Jerry Holbert.
Publishing | Helped by March’s five Wednesdays, sales of periodical comics jumped 20 percent last month, while graphic novels dropped 10 percent. Combined, sales were up 11 percent over March 2009.
The final issue of DC’s Blackest Night led Diamond’s Top 300, selling an estimated 135,000 copies, followed at No. 2 by Marvel’s Siege #3 with about 113,000. Retail news and analysis website ICv2.com notes that “publishers show no signs of being able to shake their addiction to the use of variant covers as their primary sales incentive,” as DC used 1-in-25 variants to increase sales of its Blackest Night and Rise and Fall tie-ins, while Marvel turned to 1-in-15 Deadpool variants to boost sales of its Siege books. Multiple covers also paid off for Dynamite Entertainment, whose Kevin’s Smith Green Hornet #1 landed on the chart at No. 20, with about 54,000 copies.
The graphic-novel chart was topped by Marvel/Icon’s Kick-Ass premiere hardcover, with about 7,200 copies, followed by the sixth volume of Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, with about 7,000. [ICv2.com]
Peter Richardson discusses why World War I did not capture creators’ imaginations the way other wars have, and he accompanies his discussion with a beautiful counterexample, a sample from Jacques Tardi’s It Was the War of the Trenches, upcoming from Fantagraphics next month. (via Journalista)
Craig Fischer has a decidedly mixed review of The Definitive Prince Valiant Companion, but then halfway through he goes roaring off into a digression on one of Hal Foster’s possible influences, Olive Beaupre Miller’s series of children’s books titled My Bookhouse. For good measure, someone just sent Ben Towle a set. (I had these as a kid, and they are lovely.) For more about Foster, see Ng Suat Tong’s recent post at The Hooded Utilitarian.
Tom Crippen, who is no Sarah Palin fan, cries foul nonetheless on Oliphant’s cartoon showing her postcoital encounter with a moose, pointing out that it probably reveals more about Oliphant than Palin.
Vom Marlowe reviews vol. 1 of Song of the Hanging Sky, a lovely manga with a quirky plot and a few perplexing translation problems.
Brian Heater thinks Jason’s Almost Silent is a good choice for graphic novel newbies.
Frank Santoro reviews Gipi’s Garage Band at Comics Comics.
Also at Comics Comics: Jeet Heer posts some loosely related notes on John Stanley.
Larry Cruz explains why video game webcomics are a good thing at The Webcomic Overlook.
Sean Gaffney reviews D&Q’s latest Yoshihio Tatsumi release, Black Blizzard.