Comics | With the release today of Marvel’s heavily publicized Astonishing X-Men #51, which features the wedding of Northstar and Kyle, writer Marjorie Liu and associate editor Daniel Ketchum reiterate that “their story is just beginning.” When asked whether he’d be interested in a Northstar solo series, Ketchum replied, “Is that even a question? I can have a pitch ready by the end of the day. Spoiler alert: Storm and Dazzler will be recurring guest stars.” The New York Times, meanwhile, spotlights Ohio couple Scott Everhart and Jason Welker, who were set to be married this morning in a ceremony at Midtown Comics in Manhattan. Unlike Northstar and Kyle, however, Scott and Jason can’t count Mayor Michael Bloomberg among their wedding guests. [The Advocate]
Publishing | Todd Allen turns an analytical eye on Marvel’s twice-a-month releases as well as the cover prices of the publisher’s comics. Overall, prices are down a bit and frequency is up, but Allen isn’t sure if that’s an actual trend. [The Beat]
Conventions | Phoenix Comicon kicks off today, drawing an anticipated 35,000 to 40,000 attendees to the Phoenix (Arizona) Convention Center. Comics guests include Brett Booth, Jim Cheung, Garth Ennis, David Finch, Kathryn Immonen, Stuart Immonen, Andy Kuhn, Francis Manapul, David Lapham, Bob Layton, Dan Parent, George Perez, Billy Tucci and Ethan Van Sciver. [Modern Times Magazine, Fox 10 News]
Publishing | What does it mean to be an imprint of a larger publisher? For those who are interested in how the sausages are made, Gina Gagliano explains the relationship between First Second Books and parent company Macmillan. [First Second Books]
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d grab the latest Lio collection, Zombies Need Love Too. Cartoonist Mark Tatulli has one of the better newspaper comic strips going these days.
If I had $30, I’d nab what is clearly the book of the week, NonNonBa, the latest book from Shigeru Mizuki, author of Onward Toward Our Noble Deaths. NonNonBa aims more toward Mizuki’s traditional milieu of Japanese folklore and yokai monsters, though this book is more autobiographical in nature in that it deals with his relationship with his grandmother and how she instilled in him an interest in the spirit world. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this release.
My splurge for the week would likely be one of two books from First Second: Either Baby’s in Black, Arne Bellstorf’s fictionalized tale of the sadly doomed Beatle, Stuart Sutcliffe, or Mastering Comics, Jessica Abel and Matt Madden’s follow-up to their previous how-to textbook, Drawing Words, Writing Pictures.
Brigid Alverson will have her own MoCCA report up soon, no doubt, but I thought I’d share my own reminiscences of last weekend’s show, via some pics I took while wandering around the aisles.
Dust off your shoes and pull your tote bag out of the closet kids, it’s MoCCA time once again. The annual indie/small press comics show hosted by the Museum will take place at the Armory on Lexington Avenue in New York City this weekend. It promises to be a grand affair, with tons of publishers, minicomics, books and panels to choose from. Underneath the link we’ve put together a quick rundown of some of the more notable and interesting (well interesting to us any way) goings-on at the show this weekend.
If you’ve been following the publishing industry (not just comics, but the whole industry), you know it’s been in turmoil for the past few years. Ebooks have made self-publishing a lucrative option not only for unpublished authors, but also for mid-list writers like JA Konrath who are reaching a dramatically wider audience than they ever did with their traditional publishers.
Though the prose arm of publishing has been having this conversation for a while, it’s been pretty quiet in comics except for the tangential conversation about creator-owned vs. corporate-owned. That’s actually a separate conversation, though. BPRD and Saga are just two examples of creator-owned comics that aren’t self-published. Who publishes your book often has nothing to do with who owns the characters and story in it. I’m glad to see First Second’s Senior Editor Calista Brill start the comics arm of the discussion, especially in the as-objectively-as-possible way that she does.
The American Library Association just released this year’s list of Frequently Challenged Books, and there’s just one graphic novel (actually, a trilogy) on the list. And it’s not The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Battle Angel Alita, either — it’s The Color of Earth, Kim Dong Hwa’s quiet, rather poetic trilogy of Korean graphic novels published by First Second. The reasons cited: “nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group.” I have only read the first volume, but I can tell you that it’s not all that spicy; it’s the story of a young girl growing up with a single mom in a village in rural, 19th-century Korea, and while love and sexuality are a part of life and are discussed openly (including in the bath), much of the conversation is wrapped in nature imagery that is … not very informative. Indeed, the first volume opens with a sex scene, but it’s between two beetles.
I checked in with the folks at First Second, a publisher more at home on ten-best lists than most-challenged lists, and this is what Calista Brill, who edited the book, had to say: “We knew we were risking challenge when we published these books. But sexuality is a part of the adolescent experience, and The Color of Earth and its sequels handle this conversation with remarkable honesty and positivity. These books may have ruffled some feathers, but we remain very proud of them.”
As is often the case with frequently challenged books, this one has some critical support: the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) named it to its Great Graphic Novels for Teens list in 2010, the Texas Library Association’s Maverick Graphic Novels List and Booklist’s Top 10 Graphic Novels for Youth. Interestingly, assuming the list is in order of the number of challenges, this book racked up more challenges than The Hunger Games and frequent fliers like Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s Alice books, Sherman Alexie’s Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and of course, To Kill a Mockingbird.
As a former editor myself, I was naturally drawn to Calista Brill’s first-hand account of a day in the life of a First Second editor at the company blog. But as I was reading it, I kept going, “Hey, wait! They’re publishing that?!”
Like, I didn’t realize First Second was publishing a new book by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki, the creators of Skim. But here it is: Awago Beach Babies, due out next year. And Calista shows off some tiny samples of art from the book she is currently editing, Relish, a book about food by Lucy Knisley, which seems like the perfect project for Lucy and a bit of a departure for First Second.
Another project I didn’t know about — but that I’ll be following from now on — is Jerusalem, written by filmmaker Boaz Yakin and illustrated by Nick Bertozzi. It’s the story of a Jewish family at the time when Israel was just becoming an independent country. Also coming up: new books from Gene Luen Yang and Paul Pope and a sequel to their popular anthology Nursery Rhyme Comics, this one featuring fairy tales.
With a lineup like that, being an editor at First Second is my new dream job, even if the microwave in their kitchen isn’t working properly. (Here’s a recent CBR interview with Calista and her boss, Mark Siegel, that mentions a few of these projects.)
George O’Connor has posted some preview art from Poseidon, the fifth volume in his Olympians series for First Second. He also reveals that the book’s subtitle will be Earth-Shaker.
Publishing | The 65th volume of Eiichiro Oda’s pirate manga One Piece has sold more than 3 million copies in Japan in less than two months, beating the two previous volumes to that goal. No other manga has sold that many copies so quickly since the market research firm Oricon began releasing sales figures in April 2008. [Anime News Network]
Comic strips | After 33 years on the comics page, Nicole Hollander’s Sylvia is hanging up her cigarette and typewriter and calling it a day. Hollander is upfront about the reason: “After the Chicago Tribune dropped Sylvia, my income was cut by half and Sylvia disappeared from my hometown. I felt the loss.” She will continue to post vintage Sylvia strips on her blog. [Bad Girl Chats]
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.
This is one of those tough weeks when the floppies aren’t doing it for me, so I want graphic novels, and graphic novels aren’t cheap. At the $15 level, I’ll pick up vol. 1 of Soulless ($12.99), Yen Press’s manga-style adaptation of the first volume of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series. With a sharp-witted heroine pitted against vampires and werewolves, and detailed yet dynamic art by the talented rem, it is a solid and entertaining read.
My first choice of the week has to wait until I have $30, though, because Faith Erin Hicks’s Friends With Boys is priced at $15.99. Worth it! Hicks is another talented storyteller and her tale of a home-schooled girl starting high school with three brothers looming over her—but without her mother, who has recently left—is funny and sweet and very heartfelt. So when I’m done with the vampire-killings, this is the book I want to read.
For my splurge, I’ll start with the thick second volume of Archie: The Married Life ($19.99), which collects the second six issues of Life With Archie magazine. The “Archie Marries” stories are fast-moving soap operas, and this comic is one of my guilty pleasures. And then I’ll add the first volume of the Girl Genius hardcover omnibus ($34.99), which is truly a splurge as it’s a free webcomic, but I’d love to have this one in print, for keeps.
By interesting coincidence, both Tony Cliff’s Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant and Faith Erin Hicks’ Friends With Boys concluded their online runs on Saturday. The latter will be released as a slightly longer print edition this week by First Second Books, while the latter … well, Cliff is teasing that something is coming next.
You can still read both comics online in their entirety — Delilah Dirk clocks in at 158 pages, and Friends With Boys at 206 — or purchase Hicks’ graphic novel, in stores Tuesday.
Creators | Rich Burlew discusses the staggering $1.25 million Kickstarter campaign for reprints of collected editions of his Order of the Stick webcomic, and reveals initial postage for the five waves of shipments is estimated at $350,000. He also delves into how much time he devoted to the fundraising drive, and his strategy for reinvestment. [Publishers Weekly]
Conventions | Table space for September’s Small Press Expo has sold out: “The hardest part about producing SPX each year is not being able to accommodate all of the awesome talented folks who would like to exhibit at the show. Even with our largest show floor ever we’ve sold through all of our available table space in record time.” [SPX]
Digital | Archie Comics will begin selling its comics through its Facebook page, which connects readers with Graphicly. With almost 120,000 fans, the page does seem like fertile ground. “It’s really a major move toward connecting the potential reader to the product,” said Archie Co-CEO Jon Goldwater. “We make it easy and hopefully create a new, lasting part of our fan base.” [The Huffington Post]
Retailing | Matthew Price takes the temperature in the room at ComicsPRO and says that retailers want stability — they credit the consistent shipping schedule for the New 52 for part of that line’s success — and creativity. The overall mood seemed to be optimism, with Diamond Comic Distributors reporting that comics sales were up slightly in 2011. [NewsOK.com]
Awards | Two titles from First Second won the graphic novel categories in the 2011 Cybils Awards, literary honors given by bloggers who write about children’s and young-adult books: Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl received the graphic novel prize in the Elementary & Middle School category, while Vera Brosgol’s Anya’s Ghost won in the Young Adult division. [Cybils]
Digital | With the Vita on the way, Sony is shutting down its PSP comics service, and users will lose their comics come September. [Gameranx]
Graphic novels | Craig Thompson’s Blankets made Oprah’s list of the eight greatest love stories of all time, taking its place alongside Brokeback Mountain and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. [Oprah.com]