"Gotham" EP Hints at Azrael's Arrival, Mr. Freeze & Hugo Strange's Alliance
TV, Comic Books
Legal | In a decision that will undoubtedly usher in more Holmes and Watson novels, comic books, movies and television, a federal judge has issued a declarative judgment that the elements included in the 50 Sherlock Holmes stories published by Arthur Conan Doyle before Jan. 1, 1923 are in the public domain in the United States. That means creators are free to use the characters and elements from those stories (but not from the 10 published after 1923) without paying a licensing fee to the protective Arthur Conan Doyle Estate Ltd.
The ruling came as a result of a lawsuit filed early this year by Leslie Klinger, who served as an adviser on director Guy Ritchie’s two Sherlock Holmes films and with Laurie R. King edited In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, a collection of new stories written by different authors. Although Klinger and King had paid a $5,000 licensing fee for a previous Holmes-inspired collection, their publisher received a letter from the Conan Doyle estate demanding another fee; in response, Klinger sued. [The New York Times]
Awards | Sean Phillips was named as best artist and Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, as best comic/graphic novel at the 2013 British Fantasy Awards, presented Sunday at the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton, alongside the World Fantasy Awards. [British Fantasy Society]
Publishing | Tim Pilcher of Humanoids talks about his company’s new plans to distribute its graphic novels in the United Kingdom through Turnaround Publisher Services. [ICv2]
Conventions | Italy’s Lucca Fest had a record-breaking show, with 200,000 tickets sold and 300,000 attendees in all. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Saga, Adventure Time, Jaime Hernandez and Parker: The Score were among the winners of the 2013 Harvey Awards, which were presented tonight in conjunction with the Baltimore Comic-Con. Saga was the night’s big winner with six awards, as Fiona Staples took home awards for best artist and best colorist, and Brian K. Vaughan took home the award for best writer.
Also taking home an award tonight was this very blog, as Robot 6 won for best biographic, historical or journalistic presentation. Our fearless leader Kevin Melrose will likely have a few words to say about that in the days ahead, but for now I’ll just say congratulations to the rest of the Robot 6 team — it’s an honor to work with you guys.
Named in honor of the late Harvey Kurtzman, the cartoonist and founding editor of MAD magazine, the awards are selected entirely by creators. The full list of nominees can be found below, with the winners in bold and italics. Congratulations to all the winners:
Saga, Vol. 1, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story, presented over the weekend at LoneStarCon 3 in San Antonio, Texas. Paul Cornell served as the toastmaster.
Presented annually since 1955 by the World Science Fiction Society, the prestigious Hugo Awards recognize the best in science fiction and fantasy.
Published by Image Comics, the bestselling Saga follows two soldiers from opposite sides of an intergalactic war who fall in love and risk everything for their newborn daughter, and in the process become fugitives on the run from their own governments. The title was one of the big winners at this year’s Eisner Awards, earning nods for Best Continuing Series, Best New Series, and Best Writer.
Digital comics | Financial-services company The Motley Fool touches upon how digital has helped to boost the comics industry, rather than undermine print sales as some predicted it would. “Digital has not to anyone’s observation pirated the sales of comics. It looks like just the opposite,” writer and charts-watcher John Jackson Miller tells the website. And then, because it’s The Motley Fool, the story veers off into what investors can learn from digital comics — specifically, “three forces [that] conspired to transform digital from a threat into a catalyst”: quality, format and access. [The Motley Fool]
Creators | Brian K. Vaughan talks about producing the CBS sci-fi thriller Under the Dome and writing Saga as well as his digital comic The Private Eye. His take on Saga: “I definitely wanted to write about the experience of fatherhood and parenthood while also recognizing that’s extremely boring for most people. How do you talk about these mundane topics in an exciting way? Hopefully setting this story in a wacky sci-fi fantasy universe has given us room to tell this story with some visual spectacle and just Fiona Staples being awesome.” [USA Today]
Courtesy of the Image Comics Tumblr arrives what may end up being my favorite cosplay of Comic-Con International 2013: Alana and Marko from Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Eisner-winning space opera Saga.
The first two Walking Dead Compendium volumes have sold a combined 100,000 copies this year in bookstores, towering above the other titles on Nielsen BookScan’s list of the Top 10 bestselling adult graphic novels for the first half of 2013. With a suggested price of $59.99, Image Comics’ 1,088-page Compendium One is “by far” the most expensive book on BookScan’s Top 200 chart for adult fiction.
Graphic novel sales have increased 10 percent year over year, which the company seems to attribute in no small part to the performance of the collections of the long-running comic by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn, and the popularity of the AMC television series.
Volumes of The Walking Dead accounted for four of the top five spots on the BookScan chart, a streak only interrupted by Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto, Vol. 60, at No. 4. In fact, six of the Top 10 graphic novels were held by Image books, with another volume of The Walking Dead claiming the No. 7 spot, and Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga, Vol. 1, slipping into the final slot with 15,000 copies; the remaining books are manga.
According to BookScan, The Walking Dead books have sold more than 1 million unites in the past 18 months, with Compendium One seeing “a 47 percent week-to-week sales lift” that coincided with the Season 3 finale of the AMC series in March.
“I think the digital distribution revolution is maybe the best thing that’s ever happened to mainstream comics. I really miss the days when you could find a comics spinner rack in every drug store, but now anyone who owns a mobile device can have their own personal spinner rack, and it’s always stocked with every issue imaginable. I don’t know if creators at other companies are privy to exactly how many digital copies their books are selling these days, but the statements Fiona and I get from Image are pretty staggering. I realize that’s not true for every book, but the day when many titles start selling more digital copies than print copies is not years away, it’s months away.”
– Brian K. Vaughan, discussing digital comics in a new interview with Comic Book Resources about Saga and The Private Eye
The arrival today of the second collection of Saga, the hit space opera by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, will be met with glee not only by readers following the Image Comics series in trade paperback but also by a good number of retailers — and Brian Hibbs in particular.
The owner of Comix Experience in San Francisco (and Comic Book Resources columnist) commented last week on our post about the first volume’s strong performance in the direct market eight months after its debut, saying, that “Saga is, by far, our best-selling title.” Hibbs expanded upon that last night on his own blog, revealing that Saga, Vol. 1, “is now my second-best selling title in the store’s history of point-of-sale. Nearly seven years.”
“It just passed into that spot a few days ago, where it passed the previous #2, The Walking Dead v1,” he continued. “Understand, that is for sales of TWD v1 OVER THE LAST SEVEN YEARS. Uh, yeah. What’s the most remarkable about Saga is that it steadily sells even at this point. When it crossed into #2 position, it was something like 243 copies sold in 248 days — even at this point, months and months after it first came out, we’re still selling 5+ copies a week.”
While some delight has already been taken in the debut of X-Men atop Diamond Comic Distributors’ May sales chart — the title’s all-female cast remains a magnet for rancor from some shadowy corners — the bigger story may be the long-term performance of the first Saga trade paperback.
ICv2 notes that the first volume of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ space opera sold an estimated 7,552 copies in May, securing the No. 2 spot on the graphic novel chart, behind BOOM! Studios’ Adventure Time: Playing With Fire. That in itself is pretty impressive, but that Saga collection was released eight months ago.
The Image Comics book has charted in the Top 10 in all but one of those months (it slipped to No. 13 in November); however, May’s 7,552 copies represents a 65-percent increase from April, and the most in any month since January, when it sold 8,456 copies. In total, Saga, Vol. 1, has sold an estimated 53,000 copies in North American comic shops.
And that’s only in the direct market: As ICv2 points out, Saga is creeping back up the BookScan chart for graphic novels sold in bookstores.
Saga‘s status as a hit and a long-term seller comes as no surprise, but that direct-market surge (65 percent!) and book-market uptick this far from the book’s debut are certainly eye-openers. Is the boost a result of good word of mouth, the impending release of the second collection, or the widespread attention given to the merry mix-up in April, when it was erroneously announced that Issue 12 had been banned from the Apple App Store?
I’d place money on the latter (although word of mouth undoubtedly plays a significant role in the book’s overall performance). Of course, we should never discount the contributions of Lying Cat …
The nominees have been announced for the 2013 Joe Shuster Awards, and faithful readers of Robot 6 will notice many familiar names on the list, including Fiona Staples, Brandon Graham, Jim Zubkavich, Ryan North and Darwyn Cooke. As you can see from that sampling, the nominees are broad in terms of styles and genres.
Named in honor of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster, the awards recognize the best of the Canadian comics world; nominees must be either Canadian citizens or permanent residents in Canada. The nominees are chosen by a committee and the winners by a jury, so there is no public vote. The awards will be presented Aug. 25 at a location to be announced later.
And with no further ado, here are the nominees:
• Isabelle Arsenault – Jane, le renard & moi (La Pastèque)
• Patrick Boutin-Gagné – Brögunn (Soleil)
• Stuart Immonen – All-New X-Men #1-4, AvX: VS #1, #6, Avenging Spider-Man #7, Secret Avengers #21 (Marvel Comics)
• Yanick Paquette – Swamp Thing #5, 7-9, 13-14 (DC Comics)
• Ramón K. Pérez – John Carter and the Gods of Mars #1-5, AvX:VS #6 (Marvel Comics)
• Fiona Staples – Saga #1-8 (Image Comics)
• Marcus To – Batwing #9-15, 0, The Flash #10,15, Huntress #4-6 (DC Comics)
I was only sort of watching Supernatural last night, which explains how I missed that geek-favorite actress Felicia Day wore a T-shirt featuring one of the best new character in recent comics history: Lying Cat from Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Image Comics series Saga. Luckily a tipster at The Mary Sue was far more observant.
According to Day, the shirt was the idea of writer Robbie Thompson, and a particularly inspired one at that, considering her character Charlie Bradbury starts off her reunion with the Winchester brothers with a lie. (In case you’re unfamiliar with Saga, Lying Cat is the enormous feline companion of the bounty hunter The Will who can detect whether anyone around her is being untruthful.)
Now the question is, where can fans get their hands on one of those shirts? Maybe at that weekday comic-book convention in Topeka, Kansas, that Charlie mentioned. Wait, no, that was a lie.
This week’s new comic book releases included such noteworthy publications as the final issue of Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly’s drama based on UFO folklore, Saucer Country, the latest installment of Marvel’s line-wide crossover-event series Age of Ultron, the one-issue return of some of Marvel’s fan-favorite Runaways characters in the tie-in Ultron #1, the latest issue of the best superhero comic book on the stands, Hawkeye, and the final issue of the Mark Millar-written comic-as-movie pitch series Secret Service, maybe better known as “What Dave Gibbons has Been Up to While DC Published Before Watchmen.” And those were just the serially published comic book-comics.
The comic I heard the most about this week by far, however, was Saga #12, the latest chapter in Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ deservedly popular space fantas. And the reasons this particular issue was so talked about? Early in the week it seemed as Apple had rejected it for distribution for a couple of images of gay sex (although Wednesday afternoon, comiXology CEO David Steinberger said the move was actually due to his company’s mistaken interpretation of Apple policy).
I’m a somewhat-casual consumer of comics news these days, and yet I encountered iterations of this story over and over this week. And in the time between the story’s initial reporting and Steinberger’s clarification, I’ve seen stories on numerous comics news sites and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s blog. A Google News search for “Saga #12″ and “Apple” brings up 9,370 results, the top two being for The Washington Post and NPR, so obviously the mainstream media bit on the story as well.
Having actually read the comic book, though, the content that earned the mistaken, temporary pre-banning was so small and inconsequential, I probably would have missed it. (Note: Some images below may be not safe for work.)
Passings | The New Yorker cartoonist Ed Fisher has died at the age of 86. Mike Lynch has a nice appreciation, with a sampling of cartoons and links to other obituaries. Fisher was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2000, Lynch says, but even so, he often came to the New Yorker offices on “look day”: “He would be sitting on the couch, in the cartoonists’ waiting room, with his portfolio, ready to chat. I introduced myself and was really glad to meet him. More than once he pulled out his roughs and showed them to me. Ed treated me like an equal.” [Mike Lynch Cartoons]
Legal | Palestinian cartoonist Muhammad Saba’aneh, who was detained by Israeli authorities in early March, has been sentenced to five months in jail and must pay a fine of 10,000 shekels. Saba’aneh was charged with contacting “enemy entities,” according to his lawyer. He was originally arrested and held without specific charges, raising fears that he would be detained indefinitely. [FARS News Agency]
“Fiona and I could always edit the images in question, but everything we put into the book is there to advance our story, not (just) to shock or titillate, so we’re not changing shit.”
— writer Brian K. Vaughan, responding to Apple’s rejection of this week’s Saga #12 because of two panels depicting pretty explicit, if relatively small, images of gay sex (they’re on Prince Robot IV’s head-monitor). There’s already debate online whether gay sex is Apple’s issue, or whether it’s explicit sex in general, but it’s worth noting that the company apparently had no problems with the comic’s previous obvious depictions of cunnilingus, and penetration (of the heterosexual variety, complete with erect penis), not to mention the assorted sex shots that left a little something to the imagination.
We’ll not talk about that giant’s pendulous scrotum, which has to be the most “explicit” thing to appear in Saga. Certainly the most disturbing.