Retailing | The direct market is looking good, with first-quarter sales up 29 percent over last year, according to figures released at the Diamond Retailer Summit. Heidi MacDonald reports, “There was no single element which seemed to be behind to surge, although sales of The Walking Dead comics and graphic novels were frequently mentioned. The general interest in “nerd culture” seems to be driving much of the merchandise and publishing growth, with more offerings in the housewares category a standout: Diamond is now offering their own line of such things as bottle openers and ice cube trays, such as a Walking Dead themed ice cube tray in the shape of body parts.” [Publishers Weekly]
Conventions | CBR and Robot 6 are covering C2E2 in depth, but for a quick overview, check out Christopher Borrelli’s recap and photo gallery. [Chicago Tribune]
• Of course you can’t have Comic-Con without news about Comic-Con itself. CBR’s Kiel Phegley spoke with CCI’s David Glanzer about the show, while Ryan Ingram spoke with Scott Morse about the Tr!ckster satellite event. And it seems like every non-comics media outlet reports on the show in some form or fashion; here’s an article by The Christian Post about religion and the show, for example. And finally, Tuesday brought the tragic news that a con attendee camping out for today’s Twilight panel was killed in front of the convention center after being struck by a car.
• I’m not 100 percent sure if it qualifies as Comic-Con news, but since it was officially announced in the Entertainment Weekly Comic-Con issue, let’s just go with it. Marvel’s big news going into the Con is that they plan to relaunch several titles later this year as part of “Marvel NOW!” Their recently released solicitations reveal they plan to cancel nine titles in October, but of course you can expect many if not all of them to come back in some form or fashion as Marvel NOW! rolls out.
• Mike Mignola and Hellboy return this December in Hellboy in Hell, the first four-issue miniseries in a series of miniseries about the title character’s post-demise adventures.
KISS frontman, reality star and licensing entrepreneur Gene Simmons is no stranger to comics, having fought Doctor Doom and teamed up with Howard the Duck back in the 1970s. More recently, the band has appeared in comics published by IDW Publishing and Archie.
USA Today reports that Arcana will have 200 copies of his new Simmons Comics Anthology book at Comic-Con International, where Simmons will be “on hand to debut exclusive art and talk to fans about the three properties that are the beginning of his comic-book universe.” The anthology reprints the first issues of Zipper, a “leather-clad reluctant hero;” Dominatrix, a “CIA meets T&A” heroine; and a Gene Simmons House of Horrors tale. According to a press release, it also includes the first chapter of the all-new crossover event, “The Slave Trade,” where Zipper and Dominatrix will face off against each other.
Simmons says the plan is to release the comics bi-monthly, and, of course, to license and merchandise them into T-shirts, Bobbleheads and more. Simmons will be doing a book signing on Friday, July 13 at 2 p.m. at Arcana Comics Booth #2415. Fans will get the chance to meet Gene and get their photo taken with real-life versions of Dominatrix and Zipper.
Crime | An energetic thief stole all 64 volumes of One Piece from a Japanese bookstore by stuffing 10 volumes at a time in his duffel bag. As One Piece is the most popular manga in Japan, he could have gotten a good price for his booty at a used manga store, had the forces of law not intervened. [Kotaku]
Creators | Kiss member Gene Simmons still remembers the postcard he got from Stan Lee as a kid. [Noisecreep]