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Comics A.M. | Jury selection begins in Michael George trial

Legal

Legal | Jury selection is set to begin today in Mount Clemens, Michigan, in the second trial of former retailer Michael George, charged with first-degree murder in the 1990 shooting death of his first wife Barbara in their Clinton Township comic store. George, 51, was convicted in 2008, but later that year a judge set aside the conviction, citing prosecutorial misconduct and the emergence of new evidence that might have resulted in a different verdict. [The Detroit News]

Retailing | Retailer Mike Sterling answers questions about DC’s relaunch, noting his store saw an uptick in sales before the relaunch: “In our case, comic sales have been increasing … slowly, but steadily. And judging by demand for the new Justice League #1 and the interest we’ve seen in DC’s next batch of first issues, we’re expecting a bit of a bump in sales over the next few weeks. Whether that bump sticks, even as a slight net gain after the initial excitement over the new launches peters out and we see what the sales levels on these titles will actually be, remains to be seen. But I’m optimistic. My fear was that our upward store sales trend may have been derailed by DC cancelling everything and starting again, alienating the readership we were building, but for the most part that doesn’t seem to be happening. But, you know, in six months or a year or so, we’ll know for sure.” [Progressive Ruin]

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Comics A.M. | Kids comic store opens; the ‘I have a girlfriend in Canada’ of sales analysis

Little Island Comics

Retailers | Little Island Comics — “the first kids comic book store in North America–maybe even the world” — opens its doors today in Toronto. The store is owned and operated by The Beguiling, and is located around the corner from the flagship store. The store will hold an official grand opening in a few weeks. [The Comics Reporter]

Publishing | DC Comics co-publisher and Justice League artist Jim Lee discusses his work on DC’s flagship title, which came out in digital form last Wednesday, the same day it hit comic shops. “It’s also setting records digitally. I can’t give numbers, but on the first day it set a record for us,” Lee tells Heidi MacDonald.

That leads Tom Spurgeon to throw a flag on the play: “… it looks like DC won’t be releasing its New 52 digital numbers but will feel confident in making claims on their behalf. It also looks like comics sites will then repeat this claim as news, perhaps qualified by source or as a claim but still putting that information out there. This should stop. I think DC has a really dubious history with using the hidden portions of their numbers to PR advantage — call it the ‘I have a girlfriend in Canada’ of sales analysis. My take is that this practice has intensified slightly ever since the numbers have become smaller and therefore more crucial. When in the 1990s sales on mainstream comics dipped to the point where people questioned the profitability of certain issues of certain titles, perhaps leading to a line of analysis about mainstream publishers making books at a loss for market share advantages or to knock other comics from the limited stand space, we were sometimes assured that there were sales elsewhere we didn’t know about that pushed certain comics over this projected threshold.” [Salon, The Comics Reporter]

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Comics A.M.| Retailers on print vs. digital; Yang on comics, Christianity

Justice League #1

Retailing | Sacramento, Calif.-area retailers are relatively unconcerned about DC Comics’ newly launched digital initiative or an immediate threat to their bottom lines from digital comics. “I just see it as another way of kind of expanding the whole readership,” says Dave Downey, who runs World’s Best Comics. “If you missed an issue of Spider-Man, and you can’t find it anywhere, you can always go online and read it that way.” However, Kenny Russell of Big Brother Comics sees a time, “years off,” when that will all change: “It’s inevitable, and this is kind of the first step. In no time, iPads are going to be good enough, and it’s going to be easy enough, and it’s going to come out the same day where people are going to just read their comics on their iPads.” [Sacramento News & Review]

Comics | Gene Luen Yang explores the tangled history of comics and Christianity, both of which, he points out, were started by a bunch of Jewish guys who loved a good story. (Good-sized excerpt at the link; full article requires free registration.) [Sojourners]

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Craig Thompson launches Habibi website

Blankets creator Craig Thompson has just finished a new book, Habibi, which he describes thusly:

Sprawling across an epic landscape of deserts, harems, and modern industrial clutter, HABIBI tells the tale of Dodola and Zam, refugee child slaves bound to each other by chance, by circumstance, and by the love that grows between them.

At once contemporary and timeless, HABIBI gives us a love story of astounding resonance: a parable about our relationship to the natural world, the cultural divide between the first and third worlds, the common heritage of Christianity and Islam, and, most potently, the magic of storytelling.

Ambitious! The book is due out in September from Pantheon, but Thompson launched a Habibi website yesterday, with basic information and an amazing Process Gallery filled with pages in various stages of completion—sketches, pencils, inks—as well as a few photos of the creator in action. Stop by and check it out, and if you’re going to San Diego, well, surprise! Thompson will be there too.

Craig Thompson’s Habibi due out on Sept. 20

It sounds like some of his blog’s readers found this out before he did, but Blankets author Craig Thompson has revealed that his looooooooong-awaited fantasy graphic novel Habibi will be released on Sept. 20 by Pantheon. “The book will be $29.95 — 672 b&w pages — clothbound hardcover with stamped gold foil, and look something like the mock-up above,” Thompson writes. It will come out just one day before Thompson’s 36th birthday.

It’s difficult to describe the impact of Thompson’s last bona fide graphic novel, the 2003 memoir Blankets, to people who weren’t there to feel it. (Though God knows I’ve tried.) This is hard to imagine in a world where your bookshelves can groan under the weight of Bottomless Belly Button, A Drifting Life, If ‘n Oof et al, but at the time this Top Shelf release was the longest original graphic novel ever published; its mere existence was a statement about the future of the medium. And it’s equally difficult to describe just how hard its story of finding and losing first love and religious faith while growing up amid the snows of the conservative upper-Midwest hit with readers, many of whom had never cracked open a comic without being harangued by true believers. My wife, whose prior experience with comics was pretty much limited to stuff I’d force her to read, started flipping through it on the kitchen table one day, read it in one sitting, and eventually got a picture from it tattooed on her person, let’s put it that way. Thompson followed the book up with Carnet de Voyage, a 2004 travelogue recounting his experiences touring Europe in support of Blankets and Northern Africa as research for his already nascent next project Habibi, but Habibi itself is really the “next Craig Thompson book” for which fans have been waiting. And God help us all, but its long-discussed filtering of Middle Eastern and Muslim culture through an epic fantasy lens remains as timely as it was when Thompson concocted the idea during the first term of the Bush Administration. I can’t wait to read it.

Anyway, click the link to see a whole bunch of cover designs that didn’t make the cut over at Thompson’s blog.


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