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Although Saturday at Comic-Con International was dominated by movies and television — led by Warner Bros. Pictures, Marvel Studios and Legendary Pictures — there was still room for plenty of comics news. First and foremost, the announcement of Marvel’s Star Wars plans.
That line, telling canonical stories set between the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, launches in January with Star Wars, by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday, followed in February by Star Wars: Darth Vader, by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca with covers by Adi Granov, and in March by the miniseries Star Wars: Princess Leia, by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson.
“What’s great about this time period is that all the characters are kind of on the table,” Aaron told CBR News. “Of course this is still early on and these people have pretty much just met each and just come together. So they’re still finding their place within this group and sort of figuring out their relationships with each other. Then there’s the fact that when you look at the gap between Episode IV and Episode V there’s some pretty major beats that happen off screen. So this gives up the opportunity to grab those beats and lay them down as part of the same canon as the movies.”
Thursday marks 10 years since the first 24 Hour Comics Day. In recognition of this milestone, Nat Gertler, who organized that first day and orchestrated the event annually through 2007, was more than happy to share his recollections of its formation. One detail that surprised was that the 2005 collection features the first sold story by award-winning artist Fiona Staples.
The Society of Illustrators has debuted new art by Fiona Staples (Saga) that will be used to promote this year’s MoCCA Arts Fest.
Staples will be a guest of honor, alongside Howard Cruse, Fiona Staples and Robert Williams. The event will be held April 5-6 at the 69th Regiment Armory (68 Lexington Ave., New York City). Admission is $5 per day.
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.