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SDCC, Day 1 | ComiXology, ‘Rage of Ultron’ lead Thursday’s news

avengers-rage of ultronThe biggest comics news Thursday out of Comic-Con International was undoubtedly that, after years of debate, comiXology has introduced DRM-free backups of titles purchased from its storefront, with Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, MonkeyBrain Comics, Thrillbent, Top Shelf Productions and Zenescope Entertainment signing on to the program.

An email went out last night notifying customers that books they’ve purchased can be downloaded and stored as PDF or CBZ files, and pointing them to an FAQ on the subject.

“This has been an oft-requested feature,” comiXology CEO David Steinberger said during the company’s Comic-Con panel. “It’s a real backup file — it’s a fairly plain PDF or CBZ. They are high resolution, not a lot of bells and whistles, and my feeling is that people will continue to use the cloud-based reader to do their reading.”

The other big announcement was that Marvel will publish Avengers: Age of Ultron, an in-continuity graphic novel by the Uncanny X-Force team of Rick Remender, Jerome Opeña and Dean White scheduled to arrive in April 2015, ahead of the premiere of Avengers: Age of Ultron.

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‘Quantum and Woody,’ ‘Hawkeye’ and ‘Saga’ lead Harvey ballot

quantum-woody1Quantum and Woody leads the final ballot for the 2014 Harvey Awards with nominations in six categories, including best new series, edging out Hawkeye with five and Saga with four. Quantum and Woody‘s James Asmus also received nods for best writer, most promising new talent and the special award for humor.

Named in honor of the late Harvey Kurtzman, the cartoonist and founding editor of MAD magazine, the awards are selected entirely by creators. Online voting is open now through Aug. 18. The winners will be presented Sept. 6 in a ceremony held in conjunction with Baltimore Comic-Con.

The full list of nominees can be found below:

Best Writer
James Asmus, QUANTUM AND WOODY, Valiant Entertainment
Matt Fraction, HAWKEYE, Marvel Comics
Matt Kindt, MIND MGMT, Dark Horse Comics
Brian K. Vaughan, SAGA, Image Comics
Mark Waid, DAREDEVIL, Marvel Comics

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Comics A.M. | ‘Attack on Titan’ conquers bookstores in June

Attack on Titan, Vol. 1

Attack on Titan, Vol. 1

Publishing | The latest BookScan numbers reveal June was a good month for manga in bookstores, with eight volumes of Attack on Titan making the top 20 — a new record. The first volume topped the list, which means new readers are still discovering Hajime Isayama’s dark fantasy. Overall, manga had a slight edge, with 11 titles, and all three volumes of Saga were on the list, but only one volume of The Walking Dead. And despite the Amazon-Hachette battle, the Yen Press title Sword Art Online: Aincrad made the chart. [ICv2]

Publishing | ICv2 and Comichron’s John Jackson Miller joined forces to calculate the size of the entire comics market, including the direct market, bookstore and digital channels, and both single issues and graphic novels. Inevitably some things get left out, such as subscription services, sales to libraries and the juggernaut that is the Scholastic Book Fair, but it’s a good snapshot. The bottom line: $850 million in 2013. [Comichron]

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Warren Ellis & Michael Allred team for Bacardi graphic novel

bacardi2

Warren Ellis and Michael Allred have collaborated on a graphic novel, but it’s not likely one you expected.

The two were hired to tell the story of Bacardi, dating back to the company’s founding in 1862 in Cuba, in a graphic novel called The Spirit of Bacardi. It will be available for digital download on Aug. 6.

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True Believers Comic Awards announce 2014 winners

true believers logoHawkeye and its writer Matt Fraction and Saga and its artist Fiona Staples led the inaugural True Believers Comic Awards, winning in a combined 10 categories. Hawkeye colorist Matt Hollingsworth also won in his division.

Presented Saturday in conjunction with London Film and Comic Con, the True Believers Comic Awards are a successor to the long-running Eagle Awards. Established by Eagle co-founder Mike Conroy and his daughter Cassandra, the awards were selected through online nominations and voting.

IDW Publishing was voted Best Publisher, while Gail Simone was named to the Roll of Honor. Comic Book Resources was selected as Favorite Comics-Related Website. The full list of winners can be found below in bold.

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SDCC | Highlights of the Friday programming schedule

Comic-Con InternationalComic-Con International organizers have rolled out the programming schedule for Friday, July 25, the second full day of the show.

And what a full day it is, with comics adaptations like AMC’s The Walking Dead, The CW’s Arrow and iZombie, and ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter all taking the stage. However, that’s not to say actual comic books are being slighted: There are panels devoted to Image Comics, DC Comics’ Batman, The Multiversity and more, Marvel’s Spider-Verse and The Avengers, Top Shelf Productions, IDW Publishing’s 15th anniversary and its Hasbro titles, Milestone at 21, gender in comics, LGBT comics for young readers and the (gulp) 30th anniversary of Power Pack.

Plenty of creators step into the spotlight, too, with panels dedicated to the likes of Neal Adams, Mark Brooks, Francesco Francavilla, Jae Lee, Mike Mignola, Terry Moore, Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan. To top it all off, there’s the Eisner Awards ceremony.

Check out some of the comics-related highlights below, and visit the Comic-Con website for the full schedule.

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Comics A.M. | Digital sales grew to $90 million in 2013

Digital comics on comiXology

Digital comics on comiXology

Digital comics | ICv2 estimates the size of the digital comics market at $90 million in 2013, not counting subscription services such as Marvel Unlimited or Crunchyroll — so presumably the tally is limited to single-issue sales. It’s also not clear whether the number includes comics sold on eBook platforms such as Kindle or just those sold through specialty channels such as comiXology or as direct downloads. The $90 million number represents a 29 percent increase over 2012 numbers. [ICv2]

Creators | As the first issue of his new series The Life After is released, writer Joshua Hale Fialkov talks about why he prefers creator-owned work: “I want to treat every book I do as though it’s 100% owned by me, because, at the end of the day, nobody is blaming an editor if that book sucks. They’re blaming me. Even if the art is sub-par, I take the blame for that. So, for my money, being thorny and vocal to get work I’m proud of is worth it, no matter what doors it shuts, because, as the saying goes, nothing shuts doors and costs you audience faster than producing junk.” And, he says, he is making as much money doing creator-owned comics as the corporate ones. [The Hollywood Reporter]

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Amazon selects best comics & graphic novels of the year, so far

Afterlife With Archie

Afterlife With Archie

If you’re searching for some summer reading, Amazon’s Best Books of the Year So Far For 2014 is a pretty good place to start.

Led by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla’s Afterlife With Archie: Escape From Riverdale, the Comics & Graphic Novels division is as diverse as you’d probably expect, with entries ranging from Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta’s East of West to Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki’s This One Summer to Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

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One man’s ‘man cave’ is his wife’s ‘nerd room’

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Hello and welcome to Shelf Porn, your weekly invitation into one fan’s life. Today’s collection comes from Blaine in Murfreesboro, Tennessee — a graphic designer, comic book collector and toy collector “for many years.” He shared his comics, toys, metal signs, Pez dispensers and more.

If you’d like to see your collection here on Robot 6, you can find submission details at the end of this post.

And now here is Blaine …

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CBLDF debuts ‘Banned Books Week Handbook’

cbldf handbookAhead of Banned Books Week, which this year will focus on comics and graphic novels, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has unveiled its first Banned Books Week Handbook, featuring a cover by Jeff Smith, whose critically acclaimed fantasy adventure Bone was listed among the most frequently challenged titles of 2013.

Debuting today at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Las Vegas, the free guide provides an overview frequently challenged comics, and offers tips for readers on how to report and fight censorship and suggestions for librarians, retailers and educators for planning Banned Books Week celebrations.

A PDF of the handbook can be downloaded here; bundles of the printed edition can be ordered on the CBLDF website or through Diamond Comic Distributors.

The organization has also released the first of its discussion guides, designed to begin conversations, and address concerns and misconceptions, about specific comics, including Fun Home, Persepolis and Watchmen.

Banned Books Week is scheduled for Sept. 21-27.

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First Second to publish Venable & Wagner’s ‘Kiss Number Eight’

kiss number eightFirst Second Books has acquired the rights to Kiss Number Eight, a young-adult graphic novel by Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye writer Colleen AF Venable and newcomer Leela Wagner.

Set for release in 2016, the coming-of-age story is described as “an exploration of sexuality, family and faith” that centers on Amanda, who’s trying to figure out what the big deal is about kissing.

“I wanted to write a hopeful book about growing up queer in a conservative community — both in the present day but also in the past — inspired partially by my older sister’s coming out and the reaction of my very Catholic family, both good and bad, “Venable, an Eisner nominee and senior designer for First Second, said in a statement.

Wagner added, “When I read the script for Kiss Number Eight, I had this fantasy about if I were a decade younger, and I got to read this comic for the first time when I was Amanda’s age, and how much it would mean to me.  I remember the teenage feeling of a book having been written for me, and I think probably it would be one of those ‘I want to make comics’ or possibly ‘I want to be Colleen AF Venable’ moments. “

Comics A.M. | A closer look at Barnes & Noble split, Nook’s future

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

Retailing | Shares of Barnes & Noble rose 5.5 percent Wednesday, to $21.69, following the announcement that the bookseller plans to split into two companies, one for its retail stores and the other for Nook Media. Barron’s suggests those plans could buoy stock prices for a while, as long as the company doesn’t change its mind (again) about the split. The magazine also notes the possibility that an outsider buyer could make a bid for the retail stores before the split takes place, leaving Barnes & Noble with the Nook, which will be combined with the company’s successful college-bookstore operations. [Barron's]

Manga | Inspired by a line of T-shirts featuring the work of the manga artist Jiraiya, Guy Trebay talks to Anne Ishii and Chip Kidd about the popularity of hard-core gay manga, such as the work of Gengoroh Tagame, in the United States. [The New York Times]

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Comics A.M. | Asbury Park Comicon changes cities, name

East Coast Comicon

East Coast Comicon

Conventions | Organizers of the growing Asbury Park Comicon have announced that, after three years, they’re relocating the New Jersey convention to the Meadowlands Exhibition Center in Secaucus and renaming it East Coast Comicon. Founders Cliff Galbraith and Robert Bruce say the nearly 40-mile move was triggered by a sharp increase in rates at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel in Asbury Park, but the hotel’s manager thinks it’s because the venue couldn’t accommodate the dates requested by organizers. The inaugural East Coast Comicon will be held April 11-12, 2015. [Asbury Park Press]

Passings | Amadee Wohlschlaeger, who drew the comic strip Weatherbird for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for 70 years, has died at age 102. Weatherbird, which debuted in 1901, is the oldest continuously published comic in the United States, and Wohlschlaeger (who went by just his first name) is one of just four cartoonists to draw it. He was named one of the top 10 sports cartoonists in the country, and his drawing of Stan Musial inspired the statue at Busch Stadium. [KSDK]

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Action figures galore take over this Shelf Porn from Toronto

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If it’s Saturday, it’s time for Shelf Porn — our weekly look at one collector’s pride and joy. Today’s collection of action figures, comics and lots more comes from Ryan in Toronto.

If you’d like to see your collection here on Robot 6, you can find submission details at the end of this post.

And now let’s hear from Ryan!

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Comics A.M. | Taking a stand against harassment at cons

Geeks for CONsen

Geeks for CONsen

Conventions | Samantha Melamed looks at the problem of harassment at comics conventions, particularly of cosplayers, and what some women are doing about it. The article includes interviews with artist Erin Filson, one of the co-founders of Geeks for CONsent, which has called upon Comic-Con International to institute a more specific, and more visible, anti-harassment policy; cosplayer Nicole Jacobs, who describes a recent incident at AwesomeCon; and psychology professor Kimberly Fairchild, who studies harassment. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]

Creators | Frequent collaborators Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie discuss their new series The Wicked + The Divine, which debuted this week from Image Comics. [USA Today]

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