Free Comic Book Day
DC Comics Co-Publisher Jim Lee appeared Saturday on CBS New York to promote Free Comic Book Day, but he also used the time to plug Warner Bros.’ upcoming Man of Steel — “It brought me to tears, actually, a couple of times” — and Superman comics, and to inform the anchor that, no, they’re not all drawn by the same artist.
“It seems like they’re all sort of drawn the same way,” the anchor says. “But you actually have different people doing these drawings?”
Still, Lee talked perhaps the most about director Zack Snyder’s franchise reboot, saying, “It’s an amazing reimagining of Superman. There’s stuff in there you’ve never seen in a Superman movie before. The special effects are incredible, but it’s got a lot of heart.”
By most reports, Free Comic Book Day was again a resounding success, enjoyed by tens of thousands of fans the world over (you can see coverage of many events at CBR Live!), but in Portland, Maine, the celebration took a turn for the worse.
According to the Maine Sun Journal, a man dressed as a Ghostbuster and another dressed as a Stormtrooper were assaulted Saturday afternoon outside Coast City Comics in an attack police described as “completely random.”
“There were a bunch of people standing outside trying to drum up business and one guy was dressed as a Stormtrooper,” Bobby Daggett, who was dressed as Green Lantern, told the newspaper. “Out of nowhere this guy tried to put [the guy in the Stormtrooper costume] in a chokehold from behind and then throws him to the ground. He was trying to be intimidating above him and screamed obscenities to everybody.”
Police said they subdued an intoxicated Adam Barnes — all 6 feet 4 inches and 300 pounds of him — with a stun gun and charged the 31-year-old man with two counts of assault, disorderly conducts and five counts of criminal threatening because he threatened the officers on the scene. He was being held at the Cumberland County Jail on $1,500 bail.“I’ve been a cop for 23 years, Portland police Lt. Gary Hutcheson told the newspaper. “I’ve never heard of a Ghostbuster and a Stormtrooper getting assaulted.”
Conventions | Last week’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo drew 53,000 attendees, the largest crowd yet for the Chicago-based show, which is in its fourth year. Reed Exhibitions Group Vice President Lance Fensterman talks about the high points of the show and plans for the next couple of years. [ICv2]
Graphic novels | Heidi MacDonald tracks the rise in popularity of graphic novels among librarians, whose support has been integral to the growth of the industry. Her well-researched article includes interviews with public librarians, school librarians, and academic librarians, as well as publishers and others in the field. It’s a comprehensive overview of one of the most important, and least reported-on, areas of our world. [Publishers Weekly]
Comics | Alex Hern looks at three comics that have long been out of print but are now back, or possibly on their way back: Flex Mentallo, Marvelman and Zenith. [The New Statesman]
Free Comic Book Day is once again upon us, the day that current and hopefully potential comic fans flock to their local comic shop to sample a buffet of comic choices from publishers large and small. There’s a lot to sink your teeth into this time around, from previews of new or upcoming stuff — like Marble Season and Superman: The Last Son of Krypton #1 to first issues of brand new comics — like The Strangers #1 and Aphrodite IX #1. There are original comics, licensed comics, kids comics, anthologies … basically something for everyone.
Some retailers will offer all-you-can-eat options, while others might have limits on what you can get … so if you have to make a choice, here are six comics we’re particularly looking to sink our teeth into.
If the purpose of Free Comic Book Day is to raise awareness of comics, well, mission accomplished! The mass media has taken note, and newspapers large and small have been running articles about comics in general and what is going on in their communities in particular. Here’s a selection of the meatier articles; you can find out what’s going on near you at the FCBD website, and Steve Morris has compiled a list of additional lists at The Beat.
Comics | Matt Moore takes the wide view, talking to Joe Field, organizer of the first FCBD, and looking at the increase in comics sales in the past year as well as the print-digital divide. Moore talks to DC’s Dan DiDio, Marvel’s Dan Buckley, and an assortment of retailers and customers about the convenience of digital and the pleasures of brick-and-mortar comics shops. [Associated Press]
Advice | Allison Babka offers a “virgin’s guide” to making the most of FCBD. [The Riverfront Times]
Comics | Whitney Matheson lists the ten FCBD comics you won’t want to miss, as well as some tips for first-timers. [USA Today]
Following in the footsteps of Punisher star Thomas Jane, The Wolverine‘s Hugh Jackman has released a video in support of Free Comic Book Day, which will be held Saturday at comic stores across North America and around the globe.
“Let’s face it, as we all know, all the best movies end up being made from comic books, like The Wolverine,” the actor says.
More than 4.6 million comic books are expected to be given away Saturday. Find a participating store near you with FindAComicShop.com.
Graphic novels | April was a slow month for new graphic novel releases, so the BookScan Top 20 had plenty of room for some backlist titles. The Walking Dead dominated, of course, but the 10th volume of Sailor Moon was there for a second month and actually moved up a notch. And the first volume of Saga came in at No. 12, perhaps because people were curious as to what all the fuss is about. [ICv2]
Editorial cartoons | Nick Anderson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for the Houston Chronicle, has responded to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s criticism of Jack Ohman’s cartoon with a cartoon of his own. [Comic Riffs]
Conventions | Jeff Smith, Brian Wood, Sean Murphy and Raina Telgemeier are the headline guests at the Maine Comics Arts Festival in Portland on May 19. [Foster's Daily Democrat]
Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. This morning there’s just enough time to catch up on the announcements from the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo before making plans for Saturday’s Free Comic Book Day.
But before retailers hand out more than 4.6 million free comics, they have Wednesday’s offerings to contend with: Among them are the debuts of Sesame Street and The Movement, and archival editions featuring Jack Kirby and Korak, Son of Tarzan.
Legal | Egyptian artist Magdy el Shafee, creator of the graphic novel Metro, was arrested by security forces in Cairo and is being held in Tora Prison. The arrests weren’t directly related to his graphic novel, which was banned by the regime of Hosni Mubarak; el Shafee went to Abdel Moneim Riyad Square to try to stop a showdown between protesters and the Muslim Brotherhood, and ended up being arrested in a sweep that rounded up 38 people. [Words Without Borders]
Legal | The local paper profiles Susan Alston, who has been active in the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund since the 1990s and even ran it for a while from the garage of her Northampton, Massachusetts, home. [Masslive.com]
Passings | Bob Clarke, one of the original artists for MAD Magazine, passed away Sunday of complications from pneumonia. He was 87. Best known for his “Believe It or NUTS!” parodies, Clarke actually began his career at age 15 as an uncredited assistant on the Ripley’s Believe It or Not comic strip before joining the Army, where he worked for Stars and Stripes. At MAD, he also drew “Spy vs. Spy” for many years, and illustrated the famed January 1961 back cover congratulating John F. Kennedy on his election (the front featured Richard Nixon; the editors were hedging their bets). [The News Journal]
Creators | Charles Soule talks about taking the reins of DC Comics’ Swamp Thing: “Swamp Thing isn’t just a horror book by any means — it’s also a book about superhero action and philosophy and humor. This is a title that’s open to just about anything.” Soule’s plans include new supporting characters and short story arcs that build up to a bigger structure. [USA Today]
Comic books are not only only awesome and filled with amazing characters and great art,” the Punisher star says, “but they’re also filled with vitamin B. And, as you know, vitamin B is essential for brain function and nerves and all kinds of good stuff. We’re trying to encourage kids to read. It’s a great way to get kids to expand their minds. You know, in the ’50s, horror and science fiction comics were banned in the state of New York. I’m of a mind that anything society wants to ban is probably good for you.”
You’ll notice that Jane also stealthily works in a plug for Bad Planet, the 2006 miniseries he created with Steve Niles, Tim Bradstreet and Lewis LaRosa. Free Comic Book Day is Saturday, May 4.
In “By the Numbers,” ROBOT 6 takes a look back at the events of the past five days … in numbers. Our starting point this week is Wednesday’s announcement that retailers ordered a record-breaking number of comics for Free Comic Book Day, an international event that will draw millions of customers into specialty shops on May 4.
However, there was another figure that’s almost as impressive: the print run for the latest volume of the hit manga One Piece.
Retailers ordered more than 4.6 million comic books for the May 4 Free Comic Book Day, a 34-percent increase from last year — and a staggering 70-percent jump from 2011. Needless to say, that’s a record high for the 11-year-old event.
According to Diamond Comic Distributors, this year also will see nearly 2,000 retail accounts participating, still another record. The event coincides with the North America premiere of Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 3.
Gold-level comics include Marvel’s Infinity, by Jonathan Hickman and Jim Cheung, described as “the opening shots of the war that will be heard around the galaxy” — likely to appeal to those Iron Man 3 audiences — and DC’s Superman Special Edition, which boasts a preview of Scott Snyder and Jim Lee’s Superman Unchained.
Other offerings range from The Walking Dead (a new Tyreese story, paired with reprints of Michonne, The Governor and Morgan stories) and Ape Entertainment’s Sesame Street & Strawberry Shortcake to Archaia’s Mouse Guard/Rust flip book and Dark Horse’s Star Wars/Captain Midnight/Avatar sampler.See the complete list on the Free Comic Book Day website.
The snow is piled high where I am, and May seems like a long time away, but the Free Comic Book Day folks are getting into the spirit by posting some free previews (or “prevues,” as they spell it, since these are Previews prevues). The selection includes Gilbert Hernandez’s Marble Season, a Molly Danger comic by Jamal Igle that will be bundled with a Princeless story by Jeremy Whitley, Atomic Robo, 2000AD, Brian Wood’s Star Wars, and more.
As in previous years, the FCBD website is also running a series of creator interviews. These aren’t particularly deep; all the creators get the same set of softball questions (actual question, I kid you not: “Tell us why everyone should read comic books?”) but some of them, like Fred Van Lente, go beyond “Comics are AWESOME!!!!!” and have a bit of fun with it. Recent interviews worth a glance include Cory Godbey, who is working on an adaptation of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth; Emmanuel Guibert and Mark Boutvant on Ariol; and Robert Venditti on X-O Manowar. It’s all nakedly promotional, but it’s promoting comics after all, and there is some good stuff in there, both in the responses and the art samples.
Manga | The Japanese market research firm Oricon reports sales of manga volumes (tankobon) slipped 1.5 percent last year, to about $2.886 billion, the first decline since the company began reporting the figures in 2009. [Anime News Network]
Graphic novels | The Scottish Archaeological Research Project has put together a rather lively looking graphic novel about the history of Scotland, including such little-known events as the Storegga Tsunami. [BBC News]
Manga | Someone with a sharp eye spotted a manga license that hasn’t been officially announced: Kodansha Comics will publish Sherlock Bones, a series about a crime-solving boy and a talking dog, by Shin Kobayishi (Drops of God, Kindaichi Case Files) and Yuki Sato (Yokai Doctor). [allfiction]