Awards | The National Cartoonists Society initiated a webcomics award last year, and this year the organization is splitting it in two, one for short-form works and one for long-form. The challenge with including webcomics, says NCS President Tom Richardson, is that to be eligible, creators must make the majority of their money from cartooning. “That isn’t an easy thing to quantify anymore. With online comics, we need to take into account site traffic, professionalism in consistent and regular publication, online community activity and other factors that are the hallmark of professional online work,” he says. “In some cases, it’s pretty obvious the creator is making a career out of cartooning. In some, it’s not so obvious.” [Comic Riffs]
I love comic books, too. They’re awesome. I get plenty worked up sometimes about what goes on in the pages of my favorite books because they’re not doing it right! I get it. I’ve devoted countless hours to these characters. Heck, I’m the guy who ran a New Warriors fan site for years, tracking the chronological order of every random appearance, no matter how minor. And I did it completely without irony! So I get the emotional investment we have for these characters.
I also get how fun it is to use social networks. I use Facebook a lot, and Twitter, too, and it’s easy to get riled about something you see posted there. There’s no ‘dislike’ button to click so sometimes you just have to vent. And sometimes it feels like a regular old “how could you?!” just isn’t enough, that it just doesn’t get across how deeply you disagree with a plot development.
Regardless, none of that justifies sending threats. Dan Slott has received some extreme reactions to the leaked details of The Amazing Spider-Man #700 that go so far beyond normal fan griping that I wondered just what could’ve provoked such a backlash. So I reviewed the leaked information, and I have to say my response was, “That’s it?“
Even the Leader of the Free World (and Time magazine’s Person of the Year) is no match for the cuteness that is pint-sized Spider-Man, as demonstrated in this photo from White House photographer Pete Souza. The wall-crawler famously met then-President-Elect Barack Obama in January 2009′s The Amazing Spider-Man #583, where he foiled a plot at the inauguration by Chameleon. However, I don’t recall a showdown outside the Oval Office. Clearly, the Secret Service has a lot to answer for.
(via HuffPost Politics)
Stop-motion animator and LEGO fan Nicolas of Paranick Filmz, who’s already recreated the first two trailers for The Dark Knight Rises using the colorful building-block toys, has now moved on to the third — and as you might expect, it’s a lot of fun. It kind of made me wish Christopher Nolan had worked with LEGO from the start …
The Internet hand-wringing was set to overdrive when it was announced writer Gail Simone had been summarily dismissed from Batgirl. By email, no less. Virtually every comics news site and blog chimed in, usually followed by a flurry of reader comments. However, freelance creators are let go from comics all of the time. Sure there’s usually disappointment, and it’s never good when someone loses her job. But what made this the event of the week?
There’s a history to this that adds an extra layer of emotion.
Simone is a well-liked creator with a spirited fan base, and she has described Batgirl as a dream job for her. This is the character that hooked her into comics. This is the character she’s always wanted to write. Her dream came true, and now it’s being taken away. So any human being with at least an average level of empathy is going to feel like this is an unfortunate turn of events for her. This was also largely unexpected, as the series was performing well; Batgirl #14 was No. 17 on Diamond Comic Distributors’ November sales chart with an estimated 77,468 copies, although previous issues sold in the 40,ooo to 50,000 range. That’s where some shock and indignation comes in. It seems like an unfair decision (although it is of course fully within DC Comics’ rights to hire and fire whoever it wants).
Danny Shepherd and Jeremy Le, the duo behind the Batman: Nightwing fan film that made the rounds over the summer, are now hoping expand upon the adventures of Dick Grayson with a three-part web series called, appropriately enough, Nightwing: The Series. To that end, they’ve teamed with Las Vegas’ MG Studio, which is providing the production facility and some of the resources for the project. However, Shepherd and Le need money for costumes, props and location shoots — and they’ve taken to Kickstarter in hopes of raising $20,000.
Just five days in to their 60-day campaign, they’re almost halfway toward their goal. To encourage pledge, they’re offering such incentives as the series soundtrack, posters, limited-edition T-shirts and a Batarang prop. Of course, with merchandise like that, they may be pushing their luck with Warner Bros.’ legal department.
You can watch the Nightwing: The Series teaser below, and visit the Kickstarter page to see the pitch video.
The rapid rise of social media has been both a blessing and a curse to the frequently complicated creator/fan relationship. Whereas a decade ago a reader might’ve followed a writer or artist’s occasional posts on Livejournal, or on rare occasion even received a response to a message-board comment, now there’s direct interaction on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Formspring. While those exchanges frequently go well, with an artist responding thoughtfully to a sincere and polite question, we’ve all seen our share of venomous tweets from readers and embarrassing Facebook meltdowns from creators.
When the subject turns to sensitive territory, like gender or ethnic representation in mainstream superhero comics, the chances of a social-media misfire increase dramatically. That’s why I was so pleased to read this recent exchange on the blog of Matt Fraction, writer of Marvel’s FF, Fantastic Four and Hawkeye. Asked (politely) why, when presented the opportunity to diversify the cast of FF, he opted for Miss Thing to be white — “Do you think FF would work with an African-American Miss Thing and why aren’t you writing that book?” — Fraction responded with a refreshing mix of humor, honesty and chagrin, and without the tetchiness you might expect from such a scenario.
Publishing | Declaring this “the year of The Walking Dead,” the retail news and analysis site ICv2 notes the $60 Compendium volumes One and Two could “easily” be the top-selling graphic novels of 2012. Those two books also topped the Nielsen BookScan chart of graphic novels sold in bookstores in November, joined by six other collections from the acclaimed horror series in the Top 20. Chris Ware’s $50 Building Stories, which has emerged on best-of lists as one of the books — and the graphic novel — of 2012, was No. 3 in November, followed by DC Comics’ Superman: Earth One, Vol. 2, and, in a surprise Top 20 appearance by Marvel, the $75 Avengers Vs. X-Men hardcover at No. 5. [ICv2]
Comics | Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan, appears to be embracing its role in this week’s Avengers#1 as a target of an alien “origin bomb” that struck the city, changing its biosphere and altering billions of years of evolution in mere minutes. Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice present and executive editor, tells a local newspaper he’s unsure why Regina and Perth, Australia, were selected, but local retailer Chad Boudreau seems glad it happened. “We had no advanced notice of it,” he said. “It just happened that someone reading the comic saw it in there.” He expects strong sales at Comic Readers, with those who don’t typically follow comics buying the issue out of curiosity. [The Star Phoenix]
Midway through the two-day charity auction to name one of the main characters in Mark Millar and Frank Quitely’s Jupiter’s Children, the high bid is already $2,550 (the starting bid on Wednesday was $100). Proceeds again will go to the St. Bartholomew’s Primary School Pantomime Fund to help send students to Christmas shows.
Millar previously auctioned the rights to name characters in Kick-Ass (Dave Lizewski), Nemesis (Matt Anderson and Blake Morrow), Supercrooks (Chris Matts) and The Secret Service (James Arnold), with proceeds going to such projects in his native Scotland as a playground for children with special needs and a specially equipped mini-bus. Last year’s Secret Service auction also helped to raised funds to send children from his elementary school to the annual pantomimes.
“It’s something I’d like to do every year and expand into other schemes in the community with a few other ideas I have,” Millar told The Hollywood Reporter. “Some of the kids had never been to the city before and when I went back to my old school to hand out prizes last summer they all told me how much they enjoyed it.”
Announced in January, Jupiter’s Children centers on the offspring of superheroes who have essentially squandered their inheritance, failing to live of to the example set by their parents, who gained their powers in the 1920s after discovering a mysterious island. The 12-issue series is expected to debut in April from Image Comics.
By way of comparison, last year’s winning bid to name the villain in The Secret Service was $5,100; the Nemesis auction in 2010 brought in $8,500. You can bid on eBay until Friday at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
What began Saturday as an illustration swapping the poses of the two heroes on the cover of Hawkeye & Black Widow #17 turned into a challenge Sunday when Nimona creator Noelle Stevenson suggested that the way to “fix every Strong Female Character pose in superhero comics” is to “replace the character with Hawkeye doing the same thing.” Now The Hawkeye Initiative is a bona fide online movement, with a blog showcasing countless takes on the Avengers’ ever-popular archer striking the poses, and occasionally wearing the adapted costumes, of various superheroines.
The results are always fun and funny, occasionally alarming, and frequently very, very sexy …
Faced with growing criticism, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn has apologized for insulting comments he made about women, gays and lesbians in a nearly two-year-old blog post, characterizing his remarks as “poorly worded and offensive to many.”
The statement, released last night by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and re-posted on Gunn’s Facebook page, followed outreach from the organization, condemnation by the Human Rights Campaign — “James Gunn’s blog post is offensive not just to LGBT people and women but rather to anyone with even the slightest sense of decency” — and online outrage, all stemming from a deleted February 2011 post on the filmmaker’s website.
Newly unearthed via Google Cache, the results of a “Superheroes You Most Want to Have Sex With” poll include commentary in which Gunn refers to Gambit as “this Cajun fruit,” calls teenage mother Stephanie Brown “easy,” admits wanting “to anally do” Kitty Pryde, and suggests Tony Stark could “turn” the lesbian Batwoman.
Even as the casting search gears up for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, a push has begun online to convince the studio to fire director James Gunn over objections to a nearly two-year-old blog post that many view as misogynistic and homophobic. (Note: This post contains graphic language.)
The Feb. 17, 2011 post containing the results of a “Superheroes You Most Want to Have Sex With” poll, complete with Gunn’s commentary, was deleted at some point from the filmmaker’s website but the cached version resurfaced earlier this week on Tumblr before receiving further exposure Wednesday on The Mary Sue. Why Gunn’s post was only recently unearthed is a bit of a mystery (he was confirmed to direct Guardians of the Galaxy more than two months ago).
Gunn’s superhero sex poll includes male and female characters — 50 in all — ranging from Wonder Woman and Superman to Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel. While The Mary Sue notes “there’s nothing wrong about running a poll for the most sex-able superhero on your site,” the complaints arise over some of the filmmaker’s accompanying commentary.
Digital comics | I talked to Viz Media Executive Vice President Alvin Lu and the head of Viz Labs, Gagan Singh, about the company’s digital strategy, which includes the recent announcement that their digital magazine Shonen Jump Alpha will publish manga chapters simultaneously with Japan; the idea, Lu explains is to create the same sort of weekly ritual that superhero comics readers have, and to use the digital releases to build a community both online and in the real world. [Good E-Reader]
Creators | Fantastic Four was the first Marvel Universe comic, so it has been around for a while, but writer Matt Fraction is doing his best to keep it fresh: “Anything you can do to run contrary-wise to expectation to keep people guessing and wondering and entertained and surprised, you should do because otherwise people are going to dismiss the book as ‘Been there, read that.’” [USA Today]
Last week, a reader alerted The Beat that there’s a grace period for returning DC Digital Comics on Amazon, just like other Kindle titles. Heidi MacDonald pointed out that, “in theory, someone could buy this week’s DC lineup for Kindle, read them and return them.”
Although commenters point out the folly in actually trying that (and Heidi specifically discourages it), it got me thinking: Why shouldn’t comics be returnable? I mean, we could put whatever restrictions on it you like, but my question isn’t so much about policy as it is about why people buy periodical, single-issue comics in the first place; particularly, monthly superhero comics. I agree that it would be a crappy thing to read and return a publisher’s entire weekly lineup. My question is: Why is that even a temptation?