TOY FAIR EXCLUSIVE: First Look at DC's Jim Lee BlueLine Superman
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]
Business | It should come as no surprise that the creation by Warner Bros. of DC Entertainment, and the resignation of Paul Levitz as president and publisher, dominates the news again this morning.
I’ll devote a separate post to that coverage, but there are a few links worth highlighting here: ICv2.com has a succinct timeline of Levitz’s career to date plus earlier comments by the industry veteran about having “one of the best jobs on the planet.” Kurt Busiek, Marv Wolfman and Rich Johnston offer solid tributes to Levitz and his accomplishments as head of DC Comics. And at Comic Book Resources, Kiel Phegley gathers reactions from industry figures. [Warner Bros. press release]
Legal | DC Comics is among the parties objecting to Google Inc.’s settlement with publishers designed to resolve a 2005 lawsuit accusing the Internet giant of infringing on copyrights by digitizing out-of-print books without permission. DC, Microsoft and the governments of France and Germany are among those who say the agreement — $125 million and a registry to identify and compensate copyright holders — violates international copyright law. [Bloomberg]
Kevin previously mentioned the really cool Jim Lee Google logo displayed during Comic-Con, as well as the fact that iGoogle is now sporting many, many cool comic themes. I use iGoogle quite a bit, and shortly after they became available, I changed mine over to the Oni Press theme. It rotates through images from various Oni-published books like Crogan’s Vengeance by Chris Schweizer, North World by Lars Brown, Wasteland by Chris Mitten, Blue Monday by Chynna Clugston and Multiple Warheads by Brandon Graham.
There are a lot of other themes out there — Vertigo, Batman Reborn, Fables, Owly, Spider Woman, Jeffrey Brown …So did you change yours, and if so, what are you currently displaying?
Internet | Brian Wood uses Google Maps to highlight key locations from his Vertigo series DMZ.
Social media | Twitter, apparently, has taken the place of message boards as the preferred arena for fights between comic pros and gossip columnists.
It was certainly a lot easier to follow the back-and-forth flames in the old days of message boards. Kids and their crazy newfangled internet tools …
Digital comics | And now a look at the gentler side of Twitter … also on Friday, Johnston interviewed Ryan Penagos, aka Agent_M, about Marvel.com and Marvel’s Digital Comics Initiative. The interview took place on Twitter.
Internet | The New York Times talks to artists who were recently invited by Google to contribute artwork that would be used on their web browser, Google Chrome. Google asked them to do it for exposure rather than pay. (via)