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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.
Today it’s time (long pat time actually) to take a look at one of the most influential and undisputed masters of the comics medium, Harvey Kurtzman.
As many of us grapple with the recession, layoffs and a looming tax deadline, it may be difficult to muster much sympathy for the problems of millionaires, but we can try.
A historic 19th-century mansion owned by Diamond Comic Distributors CEO Steve Geppi will be sold today for $7.7 million at a foreclosure auction at the Baltimore County (Maryland) Courthouse. Cliffeholme — yes, it has a name! — has an outstanding mortgage debt of $3.25 million.
Geppi and wife Melinda paid $4.8 million in 2004 for the eight-bedroom, 13,000-square-foot mansion and nine-acre estate. The home features nine fireplaces, a 65-foot grand hall and a master bedroom suite with a gym. The couple moved to another home in the area before putting Cliffeholme on the market in January 2008.
As the Baltimore Sun notes, it’s not been a good year or so for Geppi: He’s been sued over investment properties and printing debts; his Gemstone Publishing closed its offices in White Plains, Missouri, laid off five employees, and failed to renew the Disney comics license; and Geppi’s Entertainment Museum has struggled to pay its bills. Diamond, meanwhile, has experienced its share of difficulties.
Publishing | Gemstone Publishing President Steven Geppi has issued a statement congratulating BOOM! Studios on its acquisition of the Disney comics license previously held by his company.
“I think the whole industry has observed their initial successes with their Boom! Kids line with great interest, particularly the immediate sell-through on The Incredibles #1, The Muppet Show #1, and Cars #1,” Geppi said. “It would be exciting to see Walt Disney’s Comics & Stories and Mickey Mouse and Friends, as well as any subsequent titles, follow in similar form.”
When Gemstone picked up the Disney license in 2003, the characters hadn’t appeared in U.S. comics for four years. However, rumors began swirling in March that the financially troubled publisher wouldn’t renew its agreement with Disney.
“We had some notable successes, both in terms of critical acclaim and sales, particularly with The Life & Times of Scrooge McDuck,” Geppi said in his statement. “While I am of course disappointed that I won’t be the one publishing these great characters anymore, I believe the future for them is still one of untapped potential.” [Scoop, via Disney Comics Worldwide]
Publishing | Scott Morse reports that a recent mention on Boing Boing of The Ancient Book of Sex and Science has led to a sellout of the hardcover before its actual release: “Amazon has placed an order so large that I can’t fill it. We’ve vowed to NOT go back to press on these initial Ancient Book hardcovers (you’ll recall that Myth and War sold out in a few months). It appears that Sex and Science is now effectively ‘sold out’ as well.” He notes that he’ll have a limited number of copies available at Comic-Con. [Red Window]
Sales charts | Watchmen and the 27th volume of Bleach retain their top spots in the paperback and manga categories of The New York Times Graphic Books Best Seller List while the collection of Final Crisis debuts at No. 1 on the hardcover chart. [ArtsBeat]
Publishing | BOOM! Studios has acquired the rights to Disney’s Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse comics previously held by the financially troubled Gemstone Publishing. The July edition of Previews lists Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories #699, by Riccardo Secchi and Stefano Turconi, and Mickey Mouse and Friends #297, by Stefano Ambrosio and Lorenzo Pastrovicchio, under the BOOM! banner.
The two titles will join the publisher’s BOOM! Kids imprint, already home to comics based on The Muppet Show and Disney/Pixar’s The Incredibles and Cars. The Disney Comics Worldwide fan blog has information about format and content.
Gemstone, which is owned by Diamond’s Steve Geppi, had held the Disney comics license since 2003. In February the company closed its offices in West Plains, Missouri, and laid off five employees. That was followed in late March by rumors that Gemstone wouldn’t be renewing its Disney license. July’s Previews also includes cancellations for seven Disney titles originally solicited by Gemstone. [BOOM! Studios]
Publishing | Riichirou Inagaki and Yuusuke Murata’s football manga Eyeshield 21 ends its seven-year run today in Weekly Shonen Jump. The manga, whose 25 volumes have sold more than 16 million copies in Japan, is credited with a dramatic rise in the number of children playing American football. [Anime Vice]
Welcome to another edition of Send Us Your Shelf Porn. Our special guest this week is Joe Hare, the manager at Comix Connection in Mechanicsburg, Pa., one of several stores in my area and one of my favorite places to shop. Joe’s a great guy and he’s got quite an impressive collection of comics, as I think you’ll agree.
Before we start down that road though, it’s time for the weekly pitch: Shelf Porn needs your help to keep it going. Send us photos of your collection or perhaps just suggest some people you know who might be interested in contributing by emailing me at cmautnerATcomcastDOTnet. We’re always on the lookout for good shelves.
And now here’s Joe …
Despite recent rumors about the closing of Gemstone Publishing, President Steve Geppi claims the company will continue.
“As has been the case with many businesses across a wide array of industries, there has been a reduction in staff at Gemstone, and this included the departure of many valued employees,” he said in a statement posted Monday on his company’s Scoop website. “This, however, is not the end of Gemstone Publishing.”
(Last month Gemstone closed its offices in West Plains, Missouri, and laid off its five staff members there.)
But the future of Gemstone’s licenses for Disney comics and The E.C. Archives isn’t so clear-cut.
“At this time, no final decision has been made regarding The EC Archives or our comic books featuring Disney’s standard characters, but it seems certain that both lines will continue in some form,” Geppi said. “We all anticipate resolving the issues facing us and moving forward, and I will be happy to announce the specifics once things have been finalized.”
Gemstone has held the Disney comics license since 2003.