"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
Conventions | Following reports that New York Comic Con attracted 155,000 attendees this year, surpassing Comic-Con International’s 133,000, Kerry Dixon scrutinizes producer ReedPOP’s counting system and finds it leaves “a lot of room for guesswork and error in attendance size”: “So did New York Comic Con beat out San Diego to take over the title of the largest pop culture and comics convention this side of the globe? Well, not really.” [Unofficial SDCC Blog]
Publishing | Filip Sablik, BOOM! Studios’ president of publishing and marketing, talks about the company’s new offering: a $20 bundle of 50 kids’ comics that can be handed out to trick-or-treaters. The selection includes Adventure Time, Peanuts, Garfield and other comics from the kaBOOM! line. [Comicosity]
Passings | Manga artist Hiroshi Obi, whose best known work is the Shonen Jump series Ganbare Goemon, died Sunday at age 54. His most recent project was a Yatterman remake, Yatterman Dengeki Daisakusen!, and he also taught in the manga department of Tokyo Kogakuin College of Technology. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Filip Sablik of BOOM! Studios talks about marketing Lumberjanes on Tumblr, and how Beware the Valkyries, a group of women who work in comic stores, helped promote the comic with a special “Lumber Day.” [ICv2]
Creators | Mike Donachie profiles Canadian creator Diana Tamblyn, who’s nominated for a Shuster Award for her graphic novel From the Earth To Babylon: Gerald Bull and the Supergun. [Metro]
Awards | A last-minute reminder: Today is the deadline for Eisner Awards submissions. [Eisner Awards]
Creators | Grant Morrison looks back on his run on Action Comics, which ends today with the release of Issue 18, and touches upon Multiversity and his long-discussed Wonder Woman project: “This is some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time, because it’s a completely different type of comic book. Usually I don’t do masses of research, but for Wonder Woman, I’ve actually been working my way through the entire history of feminism. I want this to be fucking serious, you know? I want this to be really, really good, to reflect not only what women think, but what men think of women. I’m trying to do something really different from what’s been done with the character before. That one’s been amazing fun, because it’s nothing like anything I’ve ever done before.” [Entertainment Weekly]
Publishing | Heidi MacDonald catches word that Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik is moving on to a new job, which will be announced next month at Comic-Con International (Rich Johnston contends that gig is at BOOM! Studios). Friday will be Sablik’s last day at Top Cow; Social Marketing Coordinator Jessi Reid will assume his marketing duties. [The Beat, Bleeding Cool]
Creators | Through its partnership with the Small Press Expo, the Library of Congress has acquired works by cartoonists Matt Bors, Keith Knight, Jim Rugg, Jen Sorensen, Raina Telgemeier, Matthew Thurber and Jim Woodring. Dean Haspiel’s minicomics collection was added to the holdings just last week. [Comic Riffs]
ICv2 kicks off the week with an interesting bit of digital comics news: More than 50 million comics have been downloaded from the digital comics distributor comiXology since it launched in July 2009. This news comes in a bit of a void, as digital comics distributors, unlike Diamond Comic Distributors, don’t release their sales numbers. Perhaps ICv2 CEO Milton Griepp, who is on the comiXology board, has some insider knowledge, because the article adds that 5 million of the downloads occurred in December alone — in other words, 10 percent of the total downloads over the entire life of the business occurred in a single month. No word on January or February, though. Also, the article notes that “a significant percentage of the 5 million comics downloaded were free.” Which immediately (at least in my mind) raises the question, “What’s the percentage?” It must be pretty high, as ICv2 estimated the entire digital comics market in 2011 at $25 million; even if everybody bought their comics at comiXology, during one of its 99-cent sales, that would still mean only half the downloads were paid.
With the statistics out of the way, the article goes on to discuss the usual questions of whether digital sales are supplanting or supplementing print and how piracy figures into all of this. Ten points to Top Cow’s Filip Sablik for this observation:
For a time, comic book subscriptions were a big part of any comic fans’ repertoire. Back when comics were available primarily on newsstands and the rare comic specialty shop, subscriptions provided by publishers promised a surefire way for fans to get every issue of their favorite comics in a timely manner, and, in most cases, at a discount. But in recent years, direct subscriptions from publishers have taken a back seat, with only Marvel and DC offering them, and only for a portion of their comics line. But now Top Cow is bringing it to their pasture in an inventive subscription plan for their entire line.
Announced on its own website TopCow.com, the California-based publisher is offering a subscription to its three core ongoing series — Witchblade, The Darkness and Artifacts – along with a surprise comic with a variant cover each month. This service is available for $15/month ($10 a month plus postage) for either 6- or 12-month increments, and would be shipped USPS First Class each month in one bundle to ensure no damage to the books.
When asked about the availability to add in mini-series and special one shots like Pilot Season to the package, Top Cow’s Filip Sablik said it’s in the works.
“We haven’t worked out the details,” the publisher explained,” but if the customer wants to order other items in a month and have them ship with their subscription, assuming they fit in the envelope, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
It’s an interesting prospect, and who knows — maybe we could see other publishers pick up on the idea.
Last weekend I posted about Top Cow’s website crashing in the final days of voting for this year’s Pilot Season prospects, and today we have the good news that the publisher is back online and extending voting through the end of the year. In a press release, Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik explained that the site was simply overwhelmed with more votes than the publisher anticipated.
“The number and velocity of votes completely exceeded our expectations, and this is the sort of high class problem you don’t mind solving,” Sablik explained. “All of us at Top Cow are eager to see which Pilot Season competitor emerges victorious.”
According to the press release, TopCow.com has been restored and moved over to a more substantial server with increased capacity for traffic. The first round of voting has been extended through Dec. 31 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific, with the top four vote-getters going on to a second round, and the top two from that to go to a final round. Stay tuned for more news on the contest as it develops.
Passings | As Comic Book Resources reported, Joanne Siegel, wife of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel and the model for Lois Lane, passed away Monday in California. She was 93. Although news of her death first circulated online via Brad Meltzer’s Twitter account, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Michael Sangiacomo had the first official report, only hours after he wrote about the installation of signs bearing the honorary street names “Joe Shuster Lane” and “Lois Lane” in the Cleveland neighborhood where Siegel and Shuster created the Man of Steel. CBR’s Kiel Phegley spoke with Meltzer, who met Joanne Siegel while researching his novel The Book of Lies. Heidi MacDonald, meanwhile, has reaction from Bradley Ricca, who’s working on a documentary about the Siegel family. The Hollywood Reporter and The Superman Super Site also have obituaries. More will certainly appear throughout the day. [Comic Book Resources]
Publishing | Acclaimed cartoonist Alison Bechdel (Fun Home, Dykes to Watch Out For) has been named the guest editor of the 2011 edition of The Best American Comics, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [Shelf Life]
Publishing | Robot 6 contributor Brigid Alverson spotlights the “quiet revolution” at Archie Comics that finds the publisher expanding into graphic novels and digital delivery, further diversifying its characters and tackling more topical issues. [Publishers Weekly]
In January, Image Comics announced that it had reached an agreement with the largest studio under its umbrella, Top Cow, to assume the duties of marketing, production and sales. In this consolidation the central Image office took over the responsibilities of production, marketing and sales; editor Phil Smith, Sales/Marketing Director Atom! Freeman, and Publicity Manager Christine Dinh were all let go.
At the same time, the central Image office –- called aptly enough “Image Central” –- announced a change in its own marketing department, with 10-month hire Betsy Gomez heading out and Image Administrative Assistant Sarah deLaine taking the role of public relations and marketing coordinator. Although the initial reaction to this story has been minimal, further talk around the virtual water cooler among journalists, professionals and industry watchers see two things revealed in this – the downsizing of Top Cow’s office in order to maximize profits, but secondarily – and maybe more importantly – is the state of publicity and marketing for the third-largest comics publisher in America. As a journalist covering comics for Robot 6 and other outlets, I’m without a doubt more acutely aware of any changes in the publicity desk; they’re the point-of-contact for journalists big and small, from Comic Book Resources to USA Today. But I’m also aware from my own background working as a publicist and marketing professional outside the comics industry.