As the end of 2011 approaches, websites and publications are unveiling various year-end lists. Here’s just some of what’s been released in the past few days:
• Brian Truitt at USA Today looks back at the year that was in comics, naming best writer (Scott Snyder), best non-superhero artist (Rob Guillory), best fight (Spider-Island) and many more categories.
• Kaleon Rahan takes an alphabetical approach to the year in comics, where “A” is for Action Comics, “J” is for Jim Lee, “S” is for Schism and “W” is for “What the Hell(boy).”
• Cap’n Carrot at Dad’s Bug Plan lists his favorite ongoing series of the year, including Daredevil, Secret Six, Darkwing Duck and Batgirl.
• iFanboy lists the top 10 comic events of the year.
• Sean Gaffney discusses his favorite manga titles of the year.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.
If I had $15, I’d mostly grab the second issues of some DC stuff I enjoyed last month: Batman ($2.99), Birds of Prey ($2.99), and especially Wonder Woman ($2.99). No Justice League for me though. Unlike Action Comics, I didn’t enjoy the first issue enough that I can rationalize paying $4 for it. Instead, I’ll grab Avengers 1959 #2 ($2.99) and Red 5′s Bonnie Lass #2 ($2.95), both of which had strong first issues.
If I had $30, I’d have to put back Bonnie Lass and wait for the collection in order to afford Jonathan Case’s atomic-sea-monster-love-story Dear Creature ($15.99).
Conventions | The New York Post previews this week’s New York Comic Con in a pair of articles, the second of which focuses on announcements from Marvel and DC. Marvel’s “Cup O’ Joe” panel will reveal how Fear Itself, Avengers: The Children’s Crusade and X-Men: Schism tie together, while DC plans to reveal “the surprising origin of a longtime member of the Justice League” and more creators who will work on their New 52 books, in addition to Andy Kubert. Update: Presumably the Justice League member with the surprising origin is Wonder Woman. [New York Post article #1, article #2]
Comics | Not surprisingly, DC saw double-digit increases in September compared to the year before, but the overall market was down a touch as graphic novel sales, lacking this year’s equivalent of Scott Pilgrim, were down. [The Comichron]
Business | Disney CEO Robert Iger, who oversaw the company’s purchase of both Marvel Entertainment and Pixar, will step down as CEO in March 2015. [Bloomberg]
DC and Marvel have complained for years about how difficult it is to continue surprising readers when everyone has access to solicitation information two months before a story comes out. To combat that, they’ve offered a steady increase in the number of redacted solicits and “classified” covers; a solution that’s not just unhelpful to retailers trying to decide how many comic to order, but creates a situation in which retailers have to rely on publishers saying, “We can’t tell you anything about it, but trust us, you’re going to want lots of this one.” If I’m a retailer, that sounds like an untenable situation to be in. But what if it’s a whole lot of noise about something that doesn’t have to be a problem?
Last month, a study revealed that – contrary to conventional wisdom – spoilers can actually increase enjoyment of a story. According to UC San Diego psychology researchers Nicholas Christenfeld and Jonathan Leavitt, “subjects significantly preferred the spoiled versions of ironic-twist stories” and knowing the ending ahead of time “not only didn’t hurt enjoyment of the story but actually improved it.” Click the link for a fuller run-down of how the study was conducted, but the research is relatively unimportant. It just scientifically demonstrates something everyone already knew was true.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve come out of a movie that I enjoyed for its thrilling pace, but realized how many plot holes there were as soon as I started discussing it with my friends. Or the number of comics I’ve read where I was caught up in the “event” only to be disappointed by the end that there was no real story there. In the words of Christenfeld and Leavitt, “plot is overrated.”
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is Kelson Vibber, Flash fan and proprietor of the Speed Force blog. To see what Kelson and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Comic-Con | ICv2 will host a Comics, Media, and Digital Conference on July 20, the afternoon before Comic-Con International kicks off in San Diego. The event will include panels on digital comics, comics in Hollywood and “Comics, Paper and Digital at Comic-Con 2013.” [press release]
Comic-Con | With just 14 until the big event, Acquanetta Ferguson offers 18 tips to surviving your first Comic-Con, while Liz Ohanesian talks with Doug Kline, author of The Unauthorized San Diego Comic-Con Survival Guide. [Examiner, LA Weekly]
Creators | Sean Witzke talks with King City creator Brandon Graham about world-building, collaborating with other writers or artists, porn and his approach to storytelling: “I’m really into the idea of conveying a story clearly enough for the reader to get all the basics while at the same time having enough information going on where you don’t necessarily get it all or even miss something on the first read through. I think it’s something that came from me reading a lot of European and Japanese comics growing up and just not always getting everything, culturally or just because of weird translations. I like that nice mystery. And there’s the idea that when a story doesn’t give you everything it forces the reader to think a little more. Turns them from being a passive reader to an active one. I think that would be my ideal destination, some kind of clear and simple with a background of complexity.” [supervillain]
Anytime I get to talk to Jimmy Palmiotti, we never lack for projects to discuss. I can’t prove it, but I am willing to bet Palmiotti came up with at least two new story ideas while in the midst of this email interview. This Wednesday, July 6, marks the release of Trailblazer, a 48-page full-color western science fiction comic book ($5.99 [Image]) that he co-wrote with Justin Gray and art by Jim Daly. As detailed in this recent CBR release coverage, Trailblazer is “about a hired killer who turns in evidence against an employer for the murder of the woman who raised him. The government must then shield their star informant by enacting Operation Trailblazer, a witness protection program that uses not only location but time travel as well in order to keep their charges safe. As the assassin adjusts to his new life in the old west, he soon finds that no matter when or where he is the future is dead set in coming back to haunt him.” If you buy the book via Comixology, the original script is included as a bonus.
Before discussing this new Image release, we talked a bit about the impressive Jonah Hex 70-issue run (please note, for more scoop on Palmiotti and Gray’s plans for the new All-Star Western series be sure to read CBR’s Jeffrey Renaud’s recent interview with the creators)–not to jump the gun though, as issue 69 goes on sale this Wednesday (with art by Jeff Lemire). Also our discussion delves into the Palmiotti/Gray team reuniting with artist Joseph Michael Linsner on the Claws II (a sequel to Marvel’s Black Cat/Wolverine 2006 team-up) miniseries, which amazingly enough also goes on sale this Wednesday (check out the CBR preview of the first issue). Go into a comic book store this Wednesday, and bottom line, you will have your pick of Palmiotti product to buy. Palmiotti’s passion for comics and his equal commitment to meeting deadlines are two things I’ve always admired about him and that shine through in this interview. As you’ll read at the end of the interview, Palmiotti is curious to know what characters fans would like to see him work on, so please be sure to let him know in the comments section.
Tim O’Shea: You and Jonah Hex have a heck of a future together (with All-Star Western), no doubt. But I really want to talk about how amazing it was that you and Justin successfully told Jonah Hex for 70 issues. How proud are you of that accomplishment?
Jimmy Palmiotti: Very proud…and proud of the excellent work of so many amazing artists along the way. Justin and I would celebrate each and every year we were on Jonah , thinking at any minute it could be the last, but the great crew at D.C. comics always believed in us and believed in our choices and seventy issues is a huge milestone. They believed in us so much that with the new 52 books, they let us continue too do what we do best. In our minds, issue one of All Star Western is another chapter in the characters life and we haven’t missed a beat. The good news is that we are going to have a lot of fun with the other western characters in the D.C. universe.
Last month when DC Comics announced that the upcoming Flashpoint event would include not only a five-issue Flashpoint miniseries, but also 15 other miniseries that would “expanding on the events, along with several important one shots,” folks naturally wondered how much all that would cost.
Any way you slice it, 16 miniseries are going to add up if you decide you want to buy all of it, but today DC revealed the price for each comic. “The five issues of the core Flashpoint series are oversized, 40 page books priced at $3.99 each, while the other mini series and the one shots will be priced at $2.99,” said David Hyde on DC’s The Source blog.
Hydealso shared the solicitation text for the first issue of Flashpoint:
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by ANDY KUBERT
1:25 Variant cover A by ANDY KUBERT
Variant cover B by IVAN REIS and GEORGE PEREZ
Everything You Know Will Change in a Flash!
Not a dream, not an imaginary story, not an elseworld. This is a Flash Fact: When Barry Allen wakes at his desk, he discovers the world has changed. Family is alive, loved ones are strangers, and close friends are different, gone or worse. It’s a world on the brink of a cataclysmic war – but where are Earth’s Greatest Heroes to stop it? It’s a place where America’s last hope is Cyborg, who hopes to gather the forces of the Outsider, the Secret 7, S!H!A!Z!A!M!, Citizen Cold and other new and familiar-yet-altered faces.
It’s a world that could be running out of time, if The Flash can’t find the villain who altered the time line!
Welcome to FLASHPOINT!
On sale MAY 11 = 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US = Rated T
Creators | Michael Cavna talks with cartoonist Art Spiegelman about being only the third American to receive the Grand Prix from the Angoulême International Comics Festival. As recipient of the honor, the 62-year-old artist will help plan next year’s festival. “I don’t know whether you should say ‘congratulations’ or ‘condolences,’ ” he says. [The Washington Post]
Legal | A Michigan judge on Monday ordered the DNA of former retailer Michael George to be compared with a hair found on the body of his wife when she was shot to death in 1990 in their comic book store. George, 50, was found guilty in March 2008 of first-degree murder, but that conviction was set aside because of prosecutorial misconduct and the possibility of new evidence. [The Detroit News]
Hey, it wouldn’t be a Robot 6 post without a “let’s you and him fight” angle. But now that that’s out of my system, there’s a lot one could say, pro and con, about Axel Alonso’s promotion to editor-in-chief of Marvel. Actually, the level of surprise with which the news was greeted says something all by itself. True, he’s never been the public figure that his predecessor Joe Quesada and colleague Tom Brevoort (who, again, has long said he didn’t want the EIC job) have been, so in that regard he’s an unknown quantity to readers and fans. To creators and editors, however, everything I’ve heard indicates that his reputation is sterling, dating back to his involvement in Vertigo — he’s well-liked personally and well-respected professionally (unless you’re Darwyn Cooke).
Cue the Welcome Back, Kotter theme music: At a live press conference from NYC’s Midtown Comics today, Marvel unveiled “Fear Itself,” a line-wide event beginning in March. Featuring a prologue one-shot by Ed Brubaker and Scot Eaton, tie-ins, spin-off stand-alone miniseries, and an April-launching seven-issue core limited series by Matt Fraction and Stuart Immonen, it’s very much in the vein of past mega-events like “Civil War,” a comparison company personnel made repeatedly at the presser. If anything, it sounds even bigger than “Civil War,” as the two core Marvel franchises who’ve traditionally been kept at arms’ length from the big events of late, the Hulk and the X-Men, look to be playing an integral role right along with the Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and so on.
There’s so much I find fascinating about Vaneta Rogers’s Newsarama interview with Steel #1 writer Steve Lyons that I hardly know where to begin. I suppose I’ll start by saying that there’s a lot to be excited about in the comic, which kicks off DC’s “Reign of Doomsday” event. For example, I’ve long argued that Steel is one of the most undervalued characters and designs in DC’s pantheon. Iron Man’s powers, Thor’s hammer, Superman’s cape, and an African-American folk hero’s name? That’s pure gold. And seriously, what a great design: The Alex Garner cover to the issue — itself part of DC’s genuinely awesome iconic-cover line-up for the month of January — is practically payoff enough. Plus, in a genre often (and accurately) decried for its lack of strong non-white heroes, John Henry Irons is an armor-clad, hammer-wielding, ‘S’-shield-wearing super-genius whose role in Metropolis’s scientific and business community is basically “the anti-Lex.” Tough to top that.
Similarly, at nearly two decades’ remove from the controversial “Death of Superman” storyline, I’m much better able to appreciate Doomsday him/itself. He’s no longer just the out-of-the-blue newcomer who got to deliver the coup de grace to the Man of Steel over more “deserving” villains like Lex Luthor (and set sales records in the process). Rather, he is to the villainous side of the superhero genre what the Hulk is to its heroic half: The power fantasy in its purest form, i.e. giant unstoppable guy pounds the crap out of everyone in his way. On an inner-eight-year-old level, that’s a thing of beauty. And remember how in his original appearances he slowly shedded a Kirbyesque jumpsuit-and-goggles look to reveal badass bone spikes and claws jutting out of every possible place on his body? He’s basically a microcosm of the direction of the entire superhero genre from that period, a walking symbol of ’90s excess at its boldest and best. Finally, in story terms, he accomplished the pinnacle achievement for any DCU villain: He killed Superman! Okay, so he got better, but still. As I believe Geoff Johns has argued, Doomsday’s name alone should scare the crap out of every character in the DC Universe. As such he’s a terrific basis for a crossover event.
Jimmy Palmiotti has been a lot of things in the world of comics: inker, publisher, editor, writer and even journalist and interviewer at times. A veteran inker who transitioned to writing and editing, back in the late 90s and early 2000s he and Joe Quesada helped turn around then-beleaguered Marvel Comics giving the publisher a new style and swagger. But when Quesada became Editor-In-Chief, Palmiotti famously decided to jump back into the freelance world and carved out a niche for himself as a go-to writer for superhero titles and also a strong voice in independent comics.
Fast forward to today, and he’s riding high on the success of his longest running series ever, DC’s Jonah Hex, is doing some editing for publishing newcomer Kickstart, and has a bevy of projects on both sides of the Big Two on the verge of announcement. But despite his success as writer, or perhaps because of it, his name is often bandied about as a viable candidate for top jobs at both Marvel and DC — but as of yet, Palmiotti continues to freelance. Why? That’s because he likes it.
Robot 6′s Charismatic Mr. Collins assisted Marvel Editor Tom Brevoort in asking a particular question back on Monday to our assembled Robot readers. After hearing a lot of frazzled fans at this year’s Baltimore Comic-Con, Mr. Brevoort wants to know what readers think of event books. Enough news and views have happened in the week, but this question is super important and cannot be ignored by Yours Truly.
Event books are a touchy subject. One one hand, they sell a lot of comics based on the sturm und drang of their stories; on the other hand, they ruin a sense of stability for the reader. Some of them have been truly game-changing events, and others have been World War Hulk. Now, you can dress up an event book in the uniform of a particular character and call them more ‘localized’ events like Curse of the Mutants and Shadowland, but people picking them up off the shelves and taking them to the sales counter know what they really are: an event book, just like all the others have been.
I would like to thank Mr. Brevoort for being brave enough to unleash such a subject into the wilds of the internet. We of the internets are an opinionated and passionate bunch who will tell you exactly what we think (sometimes to our own detriment). Event books are the holofoil covers of our time, just another way to promote a book and perpetuate interest, and it’s cool that a Real Live Editor(tm) might really want to know how much interest they’re perpetuating. I hope he reads each and every one of our readers wonderful comments; I know I’ll be certainly going over a lot of the stuff they originally said over here but in the end, it’s all going to come down to one answer.
This answer will make both long-time readers happy, interest new readers and generate sales in the long term for our House of Ideas. It will slice, dice and also make Julian fries. The answer is HERE, my friends! Not a dream, not an imaginary hoax, the real true answer to the event book question is live and in person and right below that continue reading link! It’s there! Get yours today!
Tom Brevoort has a question for you. During his regularly scheduled “Marvel T&A” Q&A alongside fellow Vice President-Executive Editor Axel Alonso, the outspoken editor wondered aloud whether Marvel’s new model for event comics — several smaller ones spread throughout various franchise families rather than one massive line-wide mega-story — was being received by the readership as Marvel had intended. So he decided to take it straight to the source and ask the readers what they think:
There’s one thing I want to ask the readership before we wrap things up this week. At the Baltimore show I held the “Marvel: Your Universe” panel on Sunday, which is our casual conversation panel where we solicit feedback to see what our fans are thinking and feeling about our stuff. And one of the things I came away from that panel with was that a great number of our fans seem to feel that, rather than doing fewer events, we’re doing nothing BUT events. From my point of view – and I don’t think Axel feels any differently – we shifted away from the model of doing one massive, concentrated event as we moved from SIEGE into The Heroic Age, with the idea of making every individual title its own event. And in some cases, every little subgroup forms its own event that’s a little smaller, a little easier to digest and a little easier for fans to get their teeth around. But at least judging by the casual reaction I got in Baltimore, the message they’re picking up from that is “Oh my God! There are events everywhere! I can’t read anything!”
So I’m curious as to what people are thinking about “Second Coming” and “Shadowland” and “Chaos War” coming up, or “Three” and the first arc of “Avengers” – all these smaller so-called events that we’re doing. We’ve very specifically stayed away since the end of “Siege” from doing any one, big, massive event. And yet, that doesn’t seem to be the message people are taking away from us. So I’d like to get a sense as to how people are feeling about what we’re doing right now – what they like, what they don’t like and how we could be doing things better.
Well, Robot 6 readers, what say you? How is Marvel handling its events and crossovers, and how is it affecting your enjoyment of the books, your budget, or both? Let us — and Brevoort — know in the comments below.