Warming up for a grueling Comic-Con International schedule, DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio held a virtual convention panel last night on Facebook for fans who can’t make it to San Diego. Highlights from the Q&A include:
• DC no longer has the rights to Archie’s Red Circle superheroes.
• Stephanie Brown will remain part of the DC Universe following the September relaunch. However, DiDio won’t reveal where she is just yet. “Sorry, but we are keeping some secrets,” he wrote, “and one of them involves Stephanie.”
• He’s sticking by his earlier remarks about the status of the Justice Society, saying “the official answer on JSA is that ‘They’re resting’.”
• When can we expect the release of Dark Knight: Boy Wonder, the planned six-issue conclusion of Frank Miller and Jim Lee’s All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder? “Probably when he is The Teen Wonder.”
• Asked whether we’ll ever see the new version of Who’s Who in the DC Universe announced in December 2009, DiDio replied, “the question is not who’s who but when’s when.”
DiDio’s first actual Comic-Con panel, “DC Comics — The New 52,” kicks off at 2 p.m. Thursday in San Diego.
As we noted a week ago, Sam Humphries and Steven Sanders self-published a science fiction comic called Our Love Is Real, which subsequently sold out in print in nine hours. A second print is on the way (that’s the cover you see to the right) and it’s still available digitally through their website or comiXology.
Humphries, a former Robot 6 guest contributor and my fellow panel member in San Diego next week, agreed to share a list of what he considers to be some of the great science fiction comics. Note that he chose not to use the words “best” or “favorite” to describe the list. “‘Favorite’ or ‘best’ implies more commitment than I’m ready to give,” he said.
So without further ado …
Six great science fiction comics, by Sam Humphries
1. AKIRA by Katsuhiro Otomo
A giant of science fiction, often imitated, never surpassed. At its heart is a tale of a bromance gone wrong, two best friends who carve their years of brotherhood and resentment across Tokyo, Japan, and the Moon. The anime adaptation is superlative, but the manga, sprawled across six thick volumes of meticulously drawn, hi-octane pages, is a true monumental achievement. I’ll be gunning for this No. 1 spot ’til I die. G.O.A.T.
Comics | Frank Miller says he has finished his upcoming graphic novel, Holy Terror, which is due from Legendary Comics in September. The book, which once was set to feature Batman fighting terrorism, now stars a character called The Fixer: “I took Batman as far as anyone, and this guy is just not him. He’s been playing the crime fighter to stay in shape. What he really wants to do is fight terrorism. He knew the day would come. The story is essentially New York under attack by suicide bombers and our hero is out to find out their greater scheme. He’s much more a man of action than a detective. He’s a two-fisted Dirty Harry type, really.”[Hero Complex]
Comics | Calling it a “sick magazine comic strip depicting shootings in schools,” The Daily Mail reports on “Beat My Score,” written by UK comedian Jimmy Carr with art by Ryusuke Hamamoto. The reporter says the comic, which appears in the latest issue of Mark Millar’s CLiNT magazine, “will horrify the families of school shooting tragedies such as Dunblane and Columbine with his ultra-violent story.” CLiNT responded by saying the strip is “a nihilistic satirical sideswipe at the glamourisation of violence, tackling the difficult and disturbing effects as seen in school shootings around the world.” The comments are fun. [Daily Mail]
Rich Johnston and Heidi MacDonald are both reporting that Frank Miller’s long-awaited graphic novel Holy Terror will be published this September, the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks to which the book is a response. The project began as a “Batman vs. al-Qaeda” book for DC before Miller, feeling he’d taken the story too far outside of the Batman comfort zone, rejiggered it with an original hero called the Fixer and took it elsewhere. That elsewhere turns out to be Legendary Comics (the publishing subsidiary of the Legendary Pictures film shingle), helmed by former Oni/DC/IDW editor Bob Schreck. This oughta be a pip.
The piece actually sold for $448,125 to an anonymous collector — “the single most valuable piece of American comic art to ever sell,” the auction house said in a press release.
“I’ve always loved that drawing,” said Frank Miller, who drew the landmark Batman: The Dark Knight Returns miniseries, before the auction. “Danced around my studio like a fool when I drew it. I hope it finds a good home.”
“Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns defined the best of 1980s comics, and has since been universally acknowledged as one of the most important and influential stories ever published,” said Ed Jaster, senior vice president of Heritage Auctions, “and no image from that important comic series is more iconic than this Splash Page. It’s a little surprising, yes, but fitting that this piece is now the most expensive piece of American comic art ever sold at auction.”
Per the press release, the previous record price for a piece of original American comic book art was set last year when the cover of EC comics Weird Fantasy #29, by artist Frank Frazetta, sold at Heritage via a private treaty sale for $380,000. That of course was a cover, which typically sell for higher prices than interior art. Typically ….
“Heritage auctioned Frank Miller’s original artwork for the cover of Daredevil #188 for $101,575 last year,” said Jaster, “so we knew there were serious buyers out there, especially for Miller’s top work. Now we know for sure what collectors are willing to pay. This piece is far away the current king. Nothing else has even come close.”
The global ramifications of the killing of Osama bin Laden on Sunday by U.S. Navy SEALs will be pondered by intelligence experts, media pundits, politicians and historians for weeks, months and years to come. On a much, much smaller scale, and one germane to comics readers, it also raises an immediate question:
How will the death of Al Qaeda’s leader affect Frank Miller’s long-gestating graphic novel Holy Terror?
Announced in 2006 as a Batman project, the book was described by the artist at the time “as a piece of propaganda” that would pit the Dark Knight against the terrorist organization. “Superman punched out Hitler. So did Captain America. That’s one of the things they’re there for,” Miller said.
The revenge-fantasy concept drew more criticism and bewilderment than praise, with Grant Morrison firing perhaps the most widely reported shot across Miller’s bow: “Batman vs. Al Qaeda! It might as well be Bin Laden vs. King Kong! Or how about the sinister Al Qaeda mastermind up against a hungry Hannibal Lecter! For all the good it’s likely to do. Cheering on a fictional character as he beats up fictionalized terrorists seems like a decadent indulgence when real terrorists are killing real people in the real world. I’d be so much more impressed if Frank Miller gave up all this graphic novel nonsense, joined the Army and, with a howl of undying hate, rushed headlong onto the front lines with the young soldiers who are actually risking life and limb ‘vs’ Al Qaeda.”
If you’re a bigwig at an animation company and have your pick to adapt a story from anywhere in the DC mythos, where do you go? After animation has covered just about every major character in DC’s pantheon, they have begun focusing in on specific story arcs to translated into animated movies, and rumors now have them aiming for the top of the mountain: Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.
BleedingCool.com is reporting an unsourced rumor saying that the DC Entertainment animation wing is in the “early stages of development” on a animated adaption of this, which could prove to be the darkest animated work they’ve done. There’s been no confirmation or denial by official sources, leaving fans to speculate on the veracity of this and also who could voice the characters — notably an aged Batman.
Thanks to its connection to parent company Warner Bros., DC Comics’ animated properties have long outpaced Marvel’s and the recent string of straight-to-DVD animated features only further cements that dominance. In recent years Marvel has made big strides to close that gap, but DC’s animated track record of Batman: The Animated Series, Teen Titans GO! and the Justice League series put them ahead.
Would you like to see this epic series animated? And going further, what other DC stories could be great as a cartoon?
Billed as “one of the most important pieces of original comic book art Heritage has ever offered,” Heritage Auctions expects to bring in $100,000 or more for page 10 of The Dark Knight Returns #3 , drawn by Frank Miller.
The iconic shot, arguably one of the most recognizable images from the series besides the covers (and maybe even including the covers), features Batman and the Carrie Kelley Robin leaping through the night.
“Artwork from this famed series is much scarcer than anything else from the period, as demonstrated by the fact that Heritage has only offered two Dark Knight panel pages previously, along with the fact that any splash page – much less a such an undeniably classic image – has never been offered at auction,” Heritage reported in a press release. “This gem has been locked away in a single collection since being purchased upon the series’ original publication. Unlike many pages from the series, where differences between the original art and the published version are evident, no changes were made to this artwork for publication, and the original contains no paste-ups or stats – it’s pure art, just the way it appeared in print.”
Heritage will begin taking bids on April 16, with the final auction running May 5-6. More details on the auction can be found in the press release after the jump.
Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.
Strap yourself in for a long read, because this month we’re looking at the rather lengthy and considerable career of one of the most influential comics creators of the past 40 years, Mr. Frank Miller.
Publishing | In a wide-ranging interview with retail news and analysis site ICv2, Dark Horse CEO Mike Richardson discusses the state of the market, the potential impact of Borders’ bankruptcy, digital comics, the decline in manga sales, the success of Troublemaker and more. Of particular note is Richardson’s confirmation that Apple’s stricter enforcement of a prohibition on in-app purchases outside the iTunes store was behind the delay of the planned January launch of Dark Horse’s digital comics program. He also says that Frank Miller is working on the third issue of his 300 prequel Xerxes, which is expected to be “roughly six issues, but he hasn’t exactly decided yet.” [ICv2.com]
Publishing | Robot 6 contributor Brigid Alverson provides an overview of recent changes to BOOM! Studios’ kids’ line, from the loss of the Pixar licenses to a new imprint name — changed from BOOM! Kids to kaboom! — to the announcement this week of a Peanuts original graphic novel. “BOOM Kids! was designed to publish children’s comics — kaboom! is designed to be a true all-ages imprint, and for that reason Peanuts is the perfect launch title, the sort of material that adults and kids read alike,” CEO Ross Ritchie said. “Roger Langridge’s Snarked! is along these lines, as is Space Warped and Word Girl. I put the Word Girl announcement on my wall on Facebook and immediately there were a zillion adults commenting, ‘My child loves this show but I’m buying this comic book for myself!’ The title mix will be broader for kaboom! than it was for BOOM Kids!” [Publishers Weekly]
Although Marvel currently seems to outpace DC in terms of large-scale talent relations (which DC seems to be aiming to fix), DC has a long history as a proving ground for creators starting a new chapter in their career as well as giving the break to some of the industry’s biggest talents like Neil Gaiman, Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns. And recently, the stalwart NYC-based publisher broke with previously established rules to encourage a burgeoning crop of artists turned writer/artists.
Up until recently, individuals doing both writing and art duties simultaneously was relegated to special “outside the DCU” projects like Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier, Ben Caldwell’s “Wonder Woman” strip in Wednesday Comics and a large majority of Frank Miller’s DC work. Whether that’s to avoid potential delays from relying on one person to keep the deadlines of a series, or from some contractual issues from one person being the primary creator of a book — which I remember both Evan Dorkin and Mike Allred referring to once. Regardless, it’s uncommon… or it used to be.
In 2010, DC began actively promoting several of its artist to write their own material with artist Tony Daniel both writing and drawing arcs in Batman and recently hired artist David Finch to write & draw a new series titled Batman: The Dark Knight – reportedly one of the reasons Finch jumped from Marvel. And arguably one of the biggest promotions is J.H. Williams III taking over the writing chores of the Batwoman character for her eponymous new series from former collaborator Greg Rucka. And curiously enough, this is all occurring under the auspices of the Bat titles which are under the purview of editor Mike Marts.
With the competing war to get the talent heating up like no time before, could these moves by DC be away to combat Marvel’s upper hand in the sales charts while also trying to find the next Frank Miller? We hope so! Many of today’s biggest writers started out as artists — Miller, Brian Michael Bendis, Joe Quesada, Ed Brubaker and Rick Remender, to name a few. But what artists would you like to see write their own comics?
In recent years, we’ve seen a boatload of comic books and graphic novels make their way to the silver screen, from Big Two stalwarts like Spider-Man and Batman to independent titles like Scott Pilgrim and 30 Days Of Night. Amongst the various adaptations, though, some creators have emerged as magnets for Hollywood types — and one of those is Frank Miller.
You could see glimpses of Frank Miller on the screen going as far back as Tim Burton’s Batman and even in the more recent Daredevil, but he didn’t become a name to movie-going audiences until the smash hits 300 and Sin City, both based on his original work. But there’s more to Miller’s oeuvre than just those two seminal works, so we thought we’d point out some overlooked items in his catalog and posit what a film adaptation would look like.
Give Me Liberty – “From the creator of 300 & Sin City and the co-creator of Watchmen.” That’s how any promotion for this would start out, and the movie itself would show a burnt-out husk of a world with humanity pulling itself out from the wreckage. Fronted by the a freedom fighter named Martha Washington, it would cover her humble beginnings to her time in the second Civil War to her death as glimpsed in the recent coda story Miller & artist Dave Gibbons released. I’d love to see Children of Men‘s Alfonso Cuaron on this, and this could be a starring vehicle for Rosario Dawson.
Next year Dark Horse Comics is bringing back its very first title, Dark Horse Presents. Courtesy of Dark Horse, here are two covers for the first issue of the anthology, featuring Frank Miller’s Xerxes (above) and Paul Chadwick’s Concrete (after the break), a strip that appeared in the first issue of the original DHP back in the 1980s.
Publishing | Following its grim snapshot of year-to-date dollar sales in the direct market, ICv2.com has released a dreary analysis of the November charts: For the third time in 2010, the top-selling title failed to crack the 100,000-copy mark. Batman: The Return, priced at $4.99, sold about 99,500 copies, compared to the 144,000 sold by November 2009′s top title, Blackest Night #5. According to the retail news and analysis site, 20 of the Top 25 titles experienced a drop last month. As ICv2 noted last week in its initial report, dollar sales of comics were down 10.2 percent when compared with November 2009, while graphic novels jumped 14.84 percent, tied to the release of the 13th volume of The Walking Dead (it sold more than 19,000 copies). [ICv2.com]
Digital publishing | Google on Monday unveiled Google eBooks, a web-based e-book platform/digital storefront that boasts “the world’s largest selection of ebooks.” Dan Vado offers brief commentary. [TechCrunch]
Crime | A St. Louis retailer involved in an armed standoff in October when police attempted to arrest him on rape and weapons charges was found murdered Tuesday in a Missouri state park. Kenneth McClure, who operated Legends Comics & Sports Cards for more than two decades, was discovered shot to death about three hours after he failed to appear for a routine court hearing. Police say McClure’s 1992 Chevrolet Camaro was seen leaving the park Tuesday after the shots were fired, then found abandoned Wednesday morning.
The charges against the 57-year-old McClure stemmed from alleged sexual encounters with a 13-year-old girl between June 2008 and June 2009 at the comic store, where he lived in the basement. McClure recently gave Legends Comics to his nephew Everett “Sonny” McClure III. [Post-Dispatch]