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Quote of the Day | Mike Richardson on creator-owned comics

hellboy-mignola

“I know there’s a certain appeal for creators to work on the classic characters like Batman, Superman and Spider-Man, but I’ve said this before: I asked creators who have worked on those books who the people were doing the books ten years ago, and they don’t know! But I can say, ‘Who worked on Sin City?’ and they’ll go ‘Frank Miller.’ Who worked on Hellboy? Mike Mignola. Who worked on The Goon? Eric Powell. They know it instantly. So to me, the lure of creating your own character and owning it — owning your own universe and being associated with that — in the long run for talented writers and artists makes me question why someone would toil away on a company owned character for years and years of their lives.”

– Dark Horse founder Mike Richardson, discussing his company’s commitment to publishing creator-owned work

Quote of the Day | “‘Dark Knight Returns’ was a hurricane”

dkr1a

“I do admit that I am surprised that the series has such a high profile still but, make no mistake, I’m very happy to be a part of it. I can’t speak for Frank [Miller], but neither I nor anyone else in the DC office realized the impact of the books at that time. It would have been crazy to predict way back then. It’s not unheard of to have a particular project garner a lot of attention in the moment, but it is unusual for a project to cast such a long shadow, to hold up so many years later. Dark Knight Returns was a hurricane. It was a force of nature that swept everyone up in its path, and I learned a lot from that experience. I’d love to work with Frank at least once more, whether it’s for the 30th anniversary or something else, so this is my way of starting to put the offer out there. Let’s go, Frank — it would be great fun!”

– inker Klaus Janson, reflecting on the legacy of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, which marks its 30th anniversary in 2016

This week DC’s magic number isn’t 52, it’s 27

TEC #27 coverWhile DC Comics sacrificed some bragging rights in 2011 when it rebooted its superhero line, even the never-before-renumbered Action Comics and Detective Comics, one consequence of relaunching TEC was that it was only a matter of time — 26 months, to be exact — before the company got around to publishing a new Detective Comics #27. And that the second Detective Comics #27 would see release during the 75th year of Batman’s career, well, all the better.

The first Detective Comics #27, published in 1939, was, of course, the first appearance of Batman. The anthology’s cover was surrendered to an arresting image of a spooky man in tights, wearing a bat-mask and sporting huge bat-like wings, scooping up a gangster in a headlock while swinging in front of the yellow field above a city skyline. “Starting this issue,” the cover trumpted, “The Amazing and Unique Adventures of The Batman.”  Inside, Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s pulp- and film-inspired detective hero cracked the “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate,” and the amazing and unique adventures begun therein have yet to cease.

DC has honored that milestone in various ways over the years, with notable celebrations including Michael Uslan and Peter Snejbjerg’s 2003 Elseworlds one-shot Batman: Detective No. 27, and 1991’s Detective Comics #627, in which the Alan Grant/Norm Breyfogle and Marv Wolfman/Jim Aparo creative teams did their own takes on “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate,” and both the original story and a 30th-anniversary version by Mike Friedrich and Bob Brown were reprinted.

This week brings Detective Comics (Vol. 2) #27, and another opportunity to celebrate that original issue, and Batman’s 75th anniversary, which DC does in a 90-page, prestige-format special issue — essentially a trade paperback with some ads in it — featuring contributions from the writers of all four of the main Batman books of the moment and about as strong a list of contributing artists as a reader could hope for.

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Exclusive | Dark Horse to release ‘Big Damn Sin City’ omnibus

big-damn-cropped

Ahead of the August premiere of Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s movie sequel Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Dark Horse has announced it will debut a massive omnibus hardcover collecting the artist’s entire landmark crime saga.

In addition, the publisher will bring Frank Miller: The Art of Sin City back into print in trade paperback format, and re-release the hardcover edition 1993’s A Dame to Kill For. All three are scheduled to arrive on June 25.

Frank Miller’s Big Damn Sin City brings together Miller and Lynn Varley’s seven hardboiled tales — The Hard Goodbye, A Dame to Kill For, The Big Fat Kill, The Yellow Bastard, Family Values, Booze, Broads & Bullets and Hell and Back — in one 1,344-page volume that Dark Horse contends is “suitable for home defense.”

The omnibus will be accompanied by the softcover edition of the long-out-of-print Frank Miller: The Art of Sin City, featuring an introduction by critic R.C. Harvey, and the 212-page A Dame to Kill For, in hardcover for the first time in years. See the covers and solicitation text for all three books below.

UPDATE (Jan. 3): Dark Horse has notified us that Frank Miller’s Big Damn Sin City will retail for $100. The price originally listed was incorrect.

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Miller’s “Xerxes” won’t be done in time for “300” movie sequel

"Xerxes" lithograph, by Frank Miller

“Xerxes” lithograph, by Frank Miller

Frank Miller has yet to finish work on Xerxes, his long-discussed follow-up to 300, meaning Dark Horse won’t be able to release the comic in time for the March-premiering 300: Rise of an Empire.

What’s more, ICv2.com reports no progress has been made on the planned five-issue (previously six-issue) miniseries since March 2011, when Dark Horse CEO Mike Richardson told the website Miller had completed the second issue.

With the 2007 release of director Zack Snyder’s 300, sales of the collected edition soared, propelling the 1998 book to the top of bestseller lists and leading Dark Horse to order two 50,000-copy printings to meet demand.

While Snyder’s film was a direct adaptation of the comic by Miller and Lynn Varley, even replicating its imagery, it’s unclear how close Rise of an Empire hews to the plot of Xerxes, which the writer had described as “a sweeping tale with gods of monsters” centering on the Battle of Artemisium (it’s a naval engagement that occurred at the same time as the Battle of Thermopylae).

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‘The Dark Knight Returns’ saw 161% spike in digital sales in July

dark knight returnsWarner Bros.’ announcement of a “Batman vs. Superman” sequel to Man of Steel at Comic-Con International triggered a 161 percent surge in digital sales of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns in July, setting a record for a full-priced DC Entertainment digital title, Variety reports.

The publisher previously mentioned “a huge jump in month-over-month [digital] sales” of Frank Miller’s pioneering 1986 work, but didn’t offer more than that. Like most publishers, DC doesn’t reveal actual sales figures for either print or digital.

The influential four-issue miniseries brings an aging Batman out of retirement a decade after the death of Jason Todd to save Gotham from sinking deeper into decay and lawlessness. With the help of a new, female Robin, Carrie Kelly, the Dark Knight ends the threat of the mutant gangs that have overrun the city and confronts two of his greatest enemies. But then he must face his former ally Superman in a battle that only one will survive.

Although Man of Steel director Zack Snyder was quick to caution at Comic-Con that the sequel wouldn’t be an adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns, actor Harry Lennix read dialogue from the book — “I want you to remember, Clark, in all the years to come, in all your most private moments, I want you to remember my hand at your throat” — and Miller was reportedly set to meet with the filmmaker.

Frank Miller’s ‘Dark Knight Returns’ #2 cover sells for $478,000

Frank Miller's original cover for "Batman: The Dark Knight Rises" #2Frank Miller’s original cover for Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #2 sold at auction last week for $478,000, The Associated Press reports. Initial expectations had placed the price at more than $500,000.

Although Heritage Auctions has sold other original art from the landmark 1986 DC Comics miniseries — a page from Issue 3, featuring Batman and Robin in mid-air, fetched a record $448,125 in 2011 — this was the first cover to ever appear at auction. It’s also the only one from the four-issue series to be rendered completely in pen and ink by Miller.

A near-mint copy of 1940′s Batman #1, featuring the first appearance of Catwoman and The Joker, went for $567,625 at the same auction. A similar copy sold for $850,000 in 2012.

The record price paid at auction for a comic is held by a near-mint copy of Action Comics #1, which fetched $2.16 million in 2011.

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Cover for ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ #2 goes up for auction

Frank Miller's original cover for "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns" #2

Frank Miller’s original cover for “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” #2

Frank Miller’s cover for Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #2 is expected to sell at auction next month for more than $500,000, The Associated Press reports.

While Heritage Auctions has sold other original art from the landmark 1986 DC Comics miniseries — a page from Issue 3, featuring Batman and Robin in mid-air, fetched a record $448,125 in 2011 — this is the first cover to ever appear at auction. It’s also the only one from the four-issue series to be rendered completely in pen and ink by Miller, “with no significant painted elements or overlays.” Heritage characterizes it as “artistically the best of the four.”

“For fans of modern comics, this drawing is where everything really begins,” Heritage Vice President Todd Hignite tells The AP.“This moment defines Miller’s Dark Knight, and the modern day perception of Batman, like no other drawing.”

The auction also includes a 9.2 graded copy of 1940’s Batman #1, which marks the first appearance of Catwoman and The Joker. A similar copy sold for $850,000 in 2012.

The record price paid at auction for a comic is held by a near-mint copy of Action Comics #1, which fetched $2.16 million in 2011. Online bidding is expected to begin July 12, with the auction held Aug. 1-3 in Dallas.

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Frank Miller returns with director’s cut of Sin City-esque Gucci ad

Frank Miller, from his Gucci Guilty Black commercial

Frank Miller, from his Gucci Guilty Black commercial

Frank Miller is back behind this camera, this time for the director’s cut of the Sin City-inspired television commercial for the Gucci fragrance Gucci Guilty Black, starring Chris Evans and Evan Rachel Wood, with a cameo by the filmmaker himself.

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Comics A.M. | Sweden’s Tintin debate continues; more on NYCC

Tintin in the Congo

Comics | Johan Palme talks to Nathan Hamelberg of The Betweenship Group about the continuing controversy over a Swedish library’s decision to re-shelve some Tintin comics because of racist caricatures and colonialist attitudes. The books were put back following an uproar, but the move has sparked a larger conversation, and it even has its own hashtag, #tintingate. [The Guardian]

Conventions | Heidi MacDonald and the Publishers Weekly team (including Robot 6 contributor Brigid Alverson) post a comprehensive report on New York Comic Con, including debuts, new-title announcements, and a quick look at logistics. [Publishers Weekly Comics World]

Conventions | Dave Smith looks at one of the most vexing problems of New York Comic Con: the lack of decent wireless access, a situation troubling exhibitors and media alike. [International Business Times]

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Ex-employee sues Frank Miller and his girlfriend

Kimberly Cox and Frank Miller

One of Frank Miller’s former employees is suing for discrimination and mental anguish, claiming she was repeatedly mistreated by the comic creator’s girlfriend Kimberly Cox.

The New York Post reports that Joanna Gallardo-Mills, who was hired as Miller’s executive coordinator in November 2008, accuses Cox of verbal abuse, smearing her work area with feces, throwing phones at her, using a hammer to destroy her printer, and leaving dirty underwear and a “used menstrual pad” by her desk.

Gallardo-Mills says that after she complained, Miller agreed to allow her to work from home. However, she asserts that her complaints ultimately cost her the job.

Cox, who had a small role in Miller’s 2008 adaptation of The Spirit, told the newspaper she’s “shocked” by the lawsuit, as Gallardo-Mills “was offered a very heavy settlement and declined.”

Commentator tries to tie shootings to Miller’s Dark Knight Returns

From "The Dark Knight Returns"

Before a shocked country, let alone investigators, can begin to get a grasp on what led 24-year-old James Holmes to open fire during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, killing at least 12 and wounding dozens more, at least one newspaper writer is willing to take a wild guess: a comic book. Specifically, Frank Miller’s landmark 1986 miniseries The Dark Knight Returns.

Under the headline, “Was the Batman shooting movie shooting imitated from scene in 1986 comic?,” The Washington Examiner’s Sean Higgins claims the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, “bears eerie similarities” to the scene in which “a crazed, gun-toting loner walks into a movie theater and begins shooting it up, killing three in the process.”

In an effort to bolster his shaky, if not downright groundless hypothesis, Higgins points out that The Dark Knight Returns served “a key inspiration” for director Christopher Nolan’s big-screen trilogy. (Why stop there, though? Coupled with Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s “Year One,” the miniseries has influenced virtually every depiction of Batman over the past quarter-century.)

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Quote of the Day | Disposable vs. dark

“Sadly, the lesson that was gained from these books was not that comics didn’t need to be hacked-out, disposable, interchangeable stories but could be well written and relevant. Instead what happened was every superhero comic, whether it lent itself to the transformation, or not, was made grim and gritty, which meant more violence, more sex. more trying to fit the superhero world into the real world.”

John Rozum, putting the Grim and Gritty Era into historical context.

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What other creator-centric collections should DC consider?

Recently, an off-hand tweet by Kurt Busiek brought something interesting to mind. First, the tweet: “There are SUPERMAN BY GARCIA-LOPEZ and BATMAN BY ARCHIE GOODWIN hardcovers coming. Life is good.”

The two books he’s talking about are Adventures of Superman: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Tales of the Batman: Archie Goodwin, both hardcovers and both scheduled for release in April. It’s interesting because, by and large, DC Comics hasn’t released a lot of books focusing on a creator. Sure, the publisher has made exceptions for Alan Moore (DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore), Jack Kirby (Jack Kirby Omnibus) and Geoff Johns (The Flash by Geoff Johns Omnibus), but seeing it done for creators like Goodwin and Garcia-Lopez feels different somehow. While Goodwin was a positively epic force during his time in comics, he’s not exactly a household name in the modern parlance of comics fans (unfortunately), and Garcia-Lopez was an artist, not a writer like all of those listed above. DC, and comics in general, has shown itself to be very writer-centric in terms of the attribution of works, so for me this is a breakthrough — or at least a crack in the wall.

Spurred on by these ideas, I’m  beginning to think of what else, and who else, DC could capitalize on with its massive library of work created in the past 78 years. Here are some ideas:

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Food or Comics? | GloriAnaheim chiles

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Fatale, Volume 1: Death Chases Me

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d walk out of the comic store with one book this week Fatale, Vol. 1: Death Chases Me (Image, $14.99). I fell off this book after the first issue, preferring to read in trades, and now that time has come. I’m looking forward to being surprised at what Brubaker and Phillips have done in this first arc as the debut issue was very promising.

If I had $30, I’d load up at Image with Manhattan Projects #4 (Image, $3.50), Prophet #26 (Image, $2.99) and Hell Yeah #4 (Image, $2.99). Prophet is becoming my favorite Image book because it unites my comic heroes of childhood (Prophet!) and one of the top cartoonists out there (Brandon Graham) with a surprising introduction of BD-style science fiction. Hell Yeah is a fun romp reimagining the staples of ’80s and ’90s comics as if John Hughes were the eighth Image founder. Last up I’d get Wolverine and the X-Men #12 (Marvel, $3.99). I was worried this series would get derailed by Avengers Vs. X-Men, but Aaron and Co. have managed to keep it on point as best as conceivably possible. It’s an ideal opening to bring Rachel Summers to the forefront, and the smirking Kid Gladiator on the cover is full of win.

If I could splurge, I’d get Michel Rabagliati’s Song of Roland hardcover (Conundrum Press, $20). I’ll always admire Free Comic Book Day, because it was there that a little Drawn and Quarterly one-shot introduced me to Rabagliati’s work. I’m surprised to see this new volume of his work not published by D&Q, instead published by Canadian house Conundrum. Anyway, this book appears to deal with the death of the father-in-law of the lead character, Paul. It’s been extremely engaging to see Paul grow through the series, and having him deal with events like this as I myself grow up and experience similar events is really touching.

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