Passings | Golden Age creators Marcus “Marc” Swayze, best known for writing and drawing Fawcett’s Captain Marvel comics in the early 1940s, died Sunday in Monroe, Louisiana. He was 99. Swayze, who created Mary Marvel with writer Otto Binder, employed a simple style of illustration. “My personal philosophy was to use the art in storytelling so that even a child who couldn’t yet read could get a story out of it,” he told the Monroe News-Star in 2000. [The News-Star]
Legal | The Indian government has officially dropped sedition charges against cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, but he still faces up to three years in prison if found guilty on the remaining charges under the Prevention of Insult to National Honor Act of 1971. Trivedi was arrested last month and briefly jailed before being released on bail. In an odd twist, Trivedi is currently participating in the reality show Bigg Boss, the Indian counterpart of Big Brother. [UPI.com]
As visitors to the Google homepage have already noticed, the company is celebrating the 107th anniversary of Winsor McCay’s groundbreaking comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland with an amazing interactive Doodle.
Debuting Oct. 15, 1905, the surreal Sunday comic — much like McCay — was years ahead of its time, initially following the nightly dreams of a little boy named Nemo as attempted to reach the realm of King Morpheus, who wanted him as a playmate for his daughter. Each installment ended with Nemo abruptly waking just as he was about to experience a mishap in dreamland. The strip, later retitled In the Land of Wonderful Dreams when it changed newspapers, ran until 1914 before being revived from 1924 to 1947.
Michael Cavna of The Washington Post has more on McCay, Little Nemo and the Google Doodle.
Sometimes when you interview a creator, you get the distinct impression that person would rather be promoting a new film or a new novel, anything but a comic book. Other times you are fortunate enough to talk to a creator like artist Jamal Igle who relishes his craft, loves comic books and is almost as much a booster of his fellow creators as the typical comic book fan. This Wednesday (December 14) marks the release of The Ray 1, the first installment of the four-issue DC miniseries by Igle with the writing team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. My thanks to Igle for the email interview. Once you’ve enjoyed this interview, be sure to check out CBR’s late November interview with Palmiotti and Gray, as well as the preview that CBR offered of issue 1.
Tim O’Shea: When the initial 52 DC Books were announced there was a great deal of displeasure voiced about the fact you were not on the list of creators. Two-fold question: How gratifying was it to see your fans support you so vocally on this front. Secondly, without going into details, were you offered a New 52 assignment and passed on it (please feel free to skip the first part and only answer the first part, if you prefer not to delve into it)
Jamal Igle: It was very flattering and humbling at the same time. It was a little difficult for me to respond to all of the inquiries, because I didn’t know, frankly, how to respond. I was still working on Superman at the time, so I hadn’t been assigned anything. It was a really weird, with all of the assignments being announced, not being able to say anything. The offer for The Ray came just as I was finishing up Superman # 713, prepping #714 and getting ready for San Diego.
Publishing | Marvel and DC Comics are among the first companies to join Google+ as a part of the Google + Pages initiative, along with other early adopters like the WWE, Angry Birds, The Muppets and Pepsi. Companies that initially joined Google+ back when it first launched had their accounts shut down as Google worked on “building a similarly optimized business experience for Google+” like they had for individuals. Google+ Pages launched yesterday. [The Source, Marvel.com]
Digital | Digital comics distributor iVerse Media has received a $4 million private-equity investment for the expansion of marketing and product development for its Comics+ app. [TechCrunch]
While in the Bay Area a few weeks ago for WonderCon, Paul Levitz, former DC president and publisher and current Legion of Super-Heroes writer, headed down the peninsula to speak at Google’s offices in Mountain View as a part of their Authors@Google speaker series. It’s a lengthy video, but well worth the time to check it out.
(Hat tip: Tom Galloway)
To mark what would have been Will Eisner’s 94th birthday, Google is honoring him with a homepage “doodle” spotlighting The Spirit and the cartoonist’s imaginative blend of type and architecture. Scott McCloud, who helped design the piece, also writes a tribute to Eisner on the Official Google Blog: “For most of his career, Eisner was years, even decades, ahead of the curve. I saw him debating artists and editors half his age, and there was rarely any question who the youngest man in the room was. It helped that he never stood on ceremony. Everyone was his peer, regardless of age or status. None of us called him ‘Mr. Eisner.’ He was just “Will’.”
Manga creator Ken Akamatsu (Negima, Love Hina) has been pioneering an interesting business model: Putting out-of-print manga online, for free, as PDFs with no copy protection. The site, J-Comi, is supported by ads, and Akamatsu put his money where his mouth is by posting all 14 volumes of Love Hina on the site, which is still in beta.
Last week, Akamatsu announced that he is working with Google to develop a comics reader that will track readers’ location and interests and deliver targeted ads. That’s actually not such great news for readers—comics viewers seldom work as smoothly as a PDF, they won’t allow the comics to be downloaded to an iPad or other device, and everyone hates ads—but I guess you have to pay the bills somehow.
What makes this site a big deal is the names attached: Akamatsu has persuaded two of the biggest manga publishers in Japan, Kodansha and Shueisha, to play along. When the second beta test period begins, on January 11, the offerings will include Belmonde Le VisiteuR, from Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, which is also the home of the blockbusters Naruto and Bleach, as well as Hōkago Wedding (Afterschool Wedding), a previously unpublished 50-page story, and Kōtsū Jiko Kanteinin Tamaki Rinichirō (Rinichirō Tamaki, Traffic Accident Investigator), an older series from Shueisha’s Super Jump.
Akamatsu’s plans also include finding a way to allow readers to post comments alongside the comments (this sounds vaguely like Graphic.ly), which would allow fans to do their own translations right on the site.
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]
Publishing | Marvel reportedly has issued a round of Digital Millennium Copyright Act notices to Google in an effort targeting Blogger sites that serve as clearinghouses for links to pirated comics. (Blogger was purchased by Google in 2003.) One such blog, Comics Invasion, already has been shut down. [Bleeding Cool]
Passings | Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Paul Conrad passed away Saturday of natural causes. He was 86. The winner of three Pulitzers, an achievement matched by just two other cartoonists in the post-World War II era, Conrad worked for the Los Angeles Times for nearly 30 years, and earned a place on President Nixon’s infamous “enemies list.” [Los Angeles Times, Comic Riffs]
A year ago, very nearly to the day, I wrote about Jason McDonald‘s then-new Google map tracing the events of The Walking Dead, the zombie/survivalist drama by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn. Given the enduring, or perhaps growing, popularity of the Image Comics series, and the Halloween debut of the television series, it seemed like a perfect time to revisit the map.
I’m pleased to see that McDonald has kept the project current, noting the location of virtually every story event — zombie attacks, first appearances, last appearances, sexual encounters — through Issue 76, which was released just two weeks ago.
If you’re not up to date on The Walking Dead, you may want to avoid the map for a while, as it chronicles the deaths of several key characters.
One Manga, a scanlation website frequently at the center of discussions about online piracy, cracked Google’s newly released list of the world’s 1,000 most-visited websites.
Using data compiled from Google’s Doubleclick Ad Planner, the list places One Manga at No. 935 with 4.2 million unique visitors each month. The site, which illegally posts translated scans of hundreds of manga titles, ranks higher than Toysrus.com, Barbie.com, NFL.com and VirginMedia.com — and, well, countless thousands of others that didn’t make the list at all.
Google celebrates comics again today with a Doodle on its homepage marking what would’ve been the 115th birthday of Popeye creator E.C. Segar.
Born on Dec. 8, 1894, in Chester, Illinois, Elzie Crisler Segar worked as a drummer and film projectionist at a local theater while taking a correspondence course in cartooning. He eventually moved to Chicago, and was hired by the Chicago Herlad, which in March 1916 published Segar’s first (but short-lived) comic strip, Charlie Chaplin’s Comedy Capers.
After media mogul William Randolph Hearst bought and closed the Herald, Segar was sent to King Feature Syndicate in New York City, where he created Thimble Theatre, a strip starring a coy flapper named Olive Oyl, her fiance Harold Hamgravy and various members of the Oyl family.
Publishing | Retailer Christopher Butcher catches word that Flight Explorer, the younger-readers spinoff of the long-running Flight anthology, is without a publishing home. Although the first volume, published in March 2008 by Villard, reportedly sold through its 20,000-copy first printing, editor Kazu Kibuishi tweeted last week that “the project remains orphaned.” Butcher provides commentary on his blog. [Comics212]
Legal | Google and groups representing publishers and authors on Friday filed a revised settlement they hope will resolve a dispute over the Internet giant’s controversial plans to make millions of out-of-print books available online.
The original agreement, created to resolve a 2005 lawsuit, was opposed by parties ranging from DC Comics to the U.S. Justice Department to the governments of France and Germany, who argued that its terms could violate copyright law. The revisions address the handling of orphan works, restrict the Google database to books published in the United States, Britain, Canada or Australia, and allow other companies to license the digital catalog.
U.S. District Judge Denny Chin is expected this week to set a date for a “fairness hearing” in which arguments about the settlements will be presented by b0th sides. [The New York Times]
Tablets | Kindle, meet the Nook … or nook, as it looks like Barnes & Noble are spelling it with the lowercase “n,” which is really annoying. But yes, the bookseller has launched their own e-book tablet, which retails for $259 (the same as the Amazon Kindle 2), has a color touchscreen and comes out in November. Check out the product comparison chart (it’s a PDF) from B & N for more information on how it compares to Amazon’s device.
Google, meanwhile, isn’t working on a device, but they do plan to launch an e-book store in order to deliver electronic books to “any device with a web browser.” Time will tell what any of this means for the comic industry, but with a color tablet coming out soon, you can see the possibilities.
Business | Depending upon which source you believe, Walt Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook either resigned, or was fired, from the company Friday afternoon after 38 years. Whichever is the case, the news took most everyone by surprise. No successor has been named.
Cook’s departure comes nearly three weeks after Disney announced its planned $4-billion purchase of Marvel Entertainment. The Wall Street Journal reports that “people close to Disney” claim Cook had complained Disney Studios wouldn’t have control of Marvel Studios under the terms of the deal — something Cook, through a spokeswoman, denies.
Others note a growing rift between Cook and Disney CEO Robert Iger, who in May publicly criticized the performance of the company’s film division.
Cook began his Disney career in 1970 as a ride operator at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, working his way through the company until 2002, when he was named chairman of Walt Disney Studios. [Los Angeles Times, Deadline Hollywood]
Legal | In its coverage of the efforts by heirs of Jack Kirby to reclaim copyrights to some Marvel characters, The New York Times’ DealBook blog notes: “Even before the Kirby family sent its notices, Disney was facing criticism from some Wall Street analysts who expressed concern that Marvel’s complex web of copyright agreements might prevent Disney from capitalizing on some Marvel assets.” [DealBook]
Legal | Google and its settlement partners — the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers — are rushing to modify the terms of an agreement to resolve a 2005 lawsuit accusing the Internet giant of infringing on copyrights by digitizing out-of-print books without permission. On Friday, the Justice Department filed documents urging a federal court not to approve the settlement without modifications that addressed legal concerns raised by numerous critics, including DC Comics and Microsoft. [The New York Times]