In “By the Numbers,” ROBOT 6 takes a look back at the events of the past five days … in numbers. Our starting point this week is Wednesday’s announcement that retailers ordered a record-breaking number of comics for Free Comic Book Day, an international event that will draw millions of customers into specialty shops on May 4.
However, there was another figure that’s almost as impressive: the print run for the latest volume of the hit manga One Piece.
Video games | Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai has revealed a video game will be released later this year for smartphones, tablets and personal computers based on his long-running historical action-fantasy comic. Called Usagi Yojimbo: Way of the Ronin, it’s not the first video game to feature the samurai rabbit: Samurai Warrior: The Battles of Usagi Yojimbo debuted in 1987 for Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC. Expect more details next month at Comic-Con International in San Diego. [Facebook]
Conventions | Organizers of the Denver Comic Con anticipate that this weekend’s show was their second-largest ever. Batgirl writer Gail Simone praised the show, noting it sold out Friday and Saturday: “Sheesh, both Friday and Saturday completely sold out, the place was packed. There are tons of interesting guests, lots of great panels, and a real emphasis on diversity. The attendees have huge percentages of females, there’s more cosplayers here than any con this size I have been to, and very welcome indeed, there are lots and lots of kids.” [Denver Post]
Ordinary fans, voice actors and famous manga-ka are all taking part in a unique social-media event in Japan: They are redrawing individual panels from Yasuhisu Hara’s historical manga Kingdom to promote the upcoming television anime adaptation. A number of well-known creators, including Masashi Kishimoto (Naruto) and Eiichiro Oda (One Piece), are taking part in the project, but anyone with a Twitter or Facebook account can join in. More than 1,000 panels are being redrawn, and the organizers of the project, which has been dubbed “Social Kingdom,” plan to submit it to the Guinness Book of World Records as the manga created by the most people.
Publishing | The 65th volume of Eiichiro Oda’s pirate manga One Piece has sold more than 3 million copies in Japan in less than two months, beating the two previous volumes to that goal. No other manga has sold that many copies so quickly since the market research firm Oricon began releasing sales figures in April 2008. [Anime News Network]
Comic strips | After 33 years on the comics page, Nicole Hollander’s Sylvia is hanging up her cigarette and typewriter and calling it a day. Hollander is upfront about the reason: “After the Chicago Tribune dropped Sylvia, my income was cut by half and Sylvia disappeared from my hometown. I felt the loss.” She will continue to post vintage Sylvia strips on her blog. [Bad Girl Chats]
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Joey Weiser, creator of Cavemen in Space, The Ride Home and Tales of Unusual Circumstance, and a contributor to SpongeBob Comics.
To see what Joey and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Crime | Police in Petoskey, Michigan, arrested a 31-year-old man early Wednesday morning after he allegedly climbed to the roof of a downtown hardware store dressed as Batman. Mark Wayne Williams of Harbor Springs — yes, his middle name is Wayne — has been charged with trespassing, disturbing the peace and possession of dangerous weapons, as he reportedly carried a folding steel baton, weighted (sand-filled) gloves, and a can of chemical irritant spray.
Williams said at his arraignment that he didn’t realize the items were illegal, but didn’t offer an explanation as to why he was hanging off the roof of Meyer Ace Hardware dressed as the Dark Knight. The incident apparently isn’t Williams’ first encounter with police: The city’s public safety director said he had previously dressed as the Crow, but didn’t give any further details. [Petoskey News]
Crime | The expired website domain of defunct manga publisher Go! Comi is being used in a scam by an unknown party to solicit donations under the guise of resurrecting the company. “It is not real,” Audry Taylor, Go! Comi’s former creative director, warned last night on Twitter. “Do not donate. Gonna my lawyers on them.” [Anime News Network]
Politics | The controversy in Minnesota continues over Neil Gaiman’s speaking fee, with a state House Republican committee chairman now recommending a $45,000 cut to the Twin Cites’ regional library system budget to make up for the Legacy Fund money paid to the author and comics writer in May 2010. “I simply subtracted out $45,000 — just making a point,” Rep. Dean Urdahl said. Gaiman responded that the move “seems like a sad way to make a point.” He talks at length with CityPages about the controversy. [Star-Tribune]
Passings | Prolific Argentine comics writer Carlos Trillo, co-creator of CyberSix, passed away over the weekend while on vacation in London. He was 68. Trillo, whose career spanned five decades, collaborated with such artists as Eduardo Risso, Jordi Bernet, Juan Bobillo, Carlos Meglia and Domingo Roberto Mandrafina. [TN.com, via The Beat]
Retailing | Peter Panepinto turns a Free Comic Book Day preview into one of those perennial articles about the potential effects of superhero movies on comic-book sales. [Carroll County Times]
Publishing | The 61st volume of Eiichiro Oda’s insanely popular pirate manga One Piece sold more than 2 million copies in its first three days of release, according to the Japanese market-survey firm Oricon. It’s the fastest-selling book in the Oricon chart’s nearly three-year history, breaking the previous record set by the 60th volume of One Piece, which sold more than 2 million copies in four days. [Anime News Network]
Retailing | Heidi MacDonald talks to Dave Bowen, Diamond’s director of digital distribution, about the newly announced deal with iVerse Media that will allow retailers to sell digital comics in their stores: “The retailer will login using their Diamond retailer login and be presented with the opportunity to create store-specific, item-specific codes in whatever quantities they need. Then we’ll use some approved cryptographically secure method to generate random codes for the retailer to use. And we’ll format those in a PDF which they can then print out. Likely what will happen is, it’ll print easily on Avery 30-up laser labels. So what you have is a sheet of Avery laser labels with a bunch of different books and codes on individual labels. In that case the retailer takes that material and secures it and then when someone wants Transformers #16 they simply ring the sale and give the label or sticker or cut-out to the consumer. [...] It’s really very simple. Then the consumer that has that code, which is live, they could literally step out of the line, pull out their iphone or ipad or whatever other device and redeem the code and begin reading the material.” Meanwhile, Todd Allen dissects what he describes as “a particularly silly digital download scheme.” [The Beat, Indignant Online]
Broadway | Michael Coehl, lead producer of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, has responded to the thrashing the $65-million production received this week from some of the country’s top theater critics. The Julie Taymor-directed show, which finally opens on March 15, was labeled by The New York Times and The Washington post as one of the worst musicals in Broadway history. “Any of the people who review the show and say it has no redeeming value are just not legitimate reviewers, period,” Coehl told Entertainment Weekly. [PopWatch]
Publishing | Wizard World CEO Gareb Shamus gives another interview about the abrupt closing of Wizard and ToyFare magazines, his expanding stable of regional conventions, plans for a weekly online magazine, and the state of the industry: “The market’s changed. When I started 20 years ago, I was pioneering in the publishing world in terms of creating a product that got people excited about being involved in the comic book and toy and other markets, and we could do a lot of really cool and innovative things. Unfortunately right now being involved in the print world is very stifling, in terms of being able to leverage your content and your media and your access to the world out there.” Meanwhile, Tom Spurgeon and Martin Wisse comment on Shamus’ previous interview, which is pretty much the same as the new one. [ICv2.com]
Publishing | Direct-market sales plummeted last month, down nearly 23 percent in units and more than 20 percent in dollars from January 2010. Marvel’s heavily promoted Fantastic Four #587 was, unsurprisingly, the top-selling comic, while Vertigo’s Jack of Fables, Vol. 8, led the graphic novel list. Retailer news and analysis site ICv2.com puts part of the blame for the year-over-year decline on the weather. However, John Jackson Miller notes that Diamond Comic Distributors shipped 23 percent fewer comics last month — 555 different comics and trades (including variants), compared to 683 in January 2010. “This is more than can be explained by the holiday difference; this would appear to simply be the old pattern of publishers holding fire at this time of year and releasing fewer items,” Miller writes. “Some years, that effect is more in evidence than others; this could potentially be one of the bigger years for this kind of positioning.” [ICv2.com, The Comichron]
Digital piracy | A Japanese government think tank has released a study that concludes online piracy of anime series actually increases sales of DVDs. “One point of critique based on the main conclusions of the study, is that the observed relation only appears to be correlational,” TorrentFreak cautions. “This may mean that the results could in part be influenced by significant third variables such as promotion and overall popularity. Since the report is only available in Japanese we were unable to confirm whether this was taken into account.” [TorrentFreak]
Broadway | The Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark canceled both Wednesday performances to test new safety measures following the Monday-night fall that left a stuntman hospitalized with broken ribs and internal bleeding. The cancellation of the sold-out evening show was announced just three hours before showtime at the Foxwoods Theatre. Tonight’s performance is expected to go on as planned.
Producers and creators met privately on Tuesday with the entire company to address safety concerns about the $65-million musical, the most expensive and technically complex in Broadway history. Although accidents in theater productions aren’t uncommon, it’s unusual for there to be four injuries before a show has officially opened. MTV offers some context. [The New York Times, The Associated Press]
Publishing | Eiichiro Oda’s blockbuster pirate manga One Piece has sold 32.34 million copies in 2010, more than double what it sold the previous year. According to Japanese market survey company Oricon Communications, the series’ five newest volumes have sold a combined 12.5 million copies. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Comico co-founder Gerry Giovinco weighs in on an eBay listing that includes original artwork apparently left in the stewardship of his former partners Dennis and Phil LaSorda when the company went bankrupt in 1990: “It always was Comico policy to return all art to the creators. If there is art that was not returned, we are in total agreement that it should be returned to the rightful owners of the work. If you are a creator that believes your work could be among this lot, we would suggest you fight to get it back.” [CO2 Comics Blog]
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]
Creators | Takehiko Inoue announced he’s placing his award-winning samurai adventure Vagabond on hiatus because of ongoing health problems. The manga has been serialized since 1998 in Kodansha’s Weekly Morning magazine and collected in 32 volumes; 31 of those have been released in the United States. Inoue will continue to work on his basketball manga Real, which is released at the more leisurely pace of about one volume per year. [The Eastern Edge, via Journalista]
Publishing | Todd Allen looks at moves by comics publishers to partner with OverDrive to make single-issue comics available to libraries as e-books: “With some 11,000 libraries being supplied digital material from OverDrive, this market offers a significant chance to get comics in front of new readers. According to the July 2010 sales estimates at ICV2, the Marvel Adventures version of Spider-Man sells 6,347 copies; Marvel Adventures Super Heroes sells 4,564. For a small publisher like Moonstone, the chance for more exposure is even greater.” [Publishers Weekly]
It’s well-established that Eiichiro Oda’s comedy-adventure One Piece is wildly popular, setting one record after nother in Japan, where the 59th volume received a 3.2 million-copy first printing. Once that figure has sunk in, here’s another one for you: One Piece has sold more than 20 million copies this year alone — four times that of Naruto, the second-highest selling manga.
That news arrives just as it’s confirmed that, beginning next week, Oda is taking a well-deserved month-long break from the series that’s been serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump virtually nonstop since August 1997.