Retailing | The direct market is looking good, with first-quarter sales up 29 percent over last year, according to figures released at the Diamond Retailer Summit. Heidi MacDonald reports, “There was no single element which seemed to be behind to surge, although sales of The Walking Dead comics and graphic novels were frequently mentioned. The general interest in “nerd culture” seems to be driving much of the merchandise and publishing growth, with more offerings in the housewares category a standout: Diamond is now offering their own line of such things as bottle openers and ice cube trays, such as a Walking Dead themed ice cube tray in the shape of body parts.” [Publishers Weekly]
Conventions | CBR and Robot 6 are covering C2E2 in depth, but for a quick overview, check out Christopher Borrelli’s recap and photo gallery. [Chicago Tribune]
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? We are joined today by special guest Josh Hechinger, writer of The Grave Doug Freshley, Bear Beater Bunyan, and Robot + Monsters. Check out his blog or the R+M site for more from Josh.
To see what Josh and the Robot 6 team have been reading lately, click below …
Conventions | ReedPOP has officially announced it will fold the New York Anime Festival into New York Comic Con, rather than continue them as separate events held at the same location. “This move has nothing to do with our loyalty or commitment to the anime community and everything to do with the growth and identity of New York Comic Con as a leading pop culture event,” ReedPOP’s Lance Fensterman said in a statement. “NYCC embraces all elements of the pop culture world, including anime, and we have evolved to a point where the existence of NYAF outside our universe is almost a contradiction. We will be better able to serve the anime community from within the NYCC infra-structure rather than have a show which is separate and which will always be dwarfed by everything that New York Comic Con represents and is.” [press release]
Passings | Cartoonist Jim Unger, whose one-panel comic Herman served as an inspiration for Gary Larson’s The Far Side, passed away Monday at his home in British Columbia. He was 75. The comic appeared in about 600 newspapers worldwide from 1974 until Unger’s retirement in 1992. [The Daily Cartoonist]
He’s one of the godfathers of alternative comics now, but Gary Groth was once a fanboy like any other. Well, that’s not quite true, as the future Fantagraphics publisher was always a lot more enterprising than most. The illustration above of Groth in the home of Nick Fury artist Jim Steranko comes from Groth’s Fantastic Fanzine #11, available for perusal and full download at Comic Attack. The issue dates back to 1970 and chock full of juicy Steranko interviews, Dave Cockrum illustrations, and drawings of shirtless barbarians of both genders. We’re a long way from Ghost World, but you’ve gotta start somewhere!
At the Forbidden Planet blog, Richard Bruton shows off some samples from Nu-Earth, a 2000AD fanzine coordinated by Will Kirkby and featuring work by a number of artists. Several have posted their contributions online; check out Emma Douglas’s Judge Death comic, Kirkby’s pencils, and Warwick Johnson Cadwell’s ABC comic; Cadwell’s post includes links to the other contributors as well.