"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Comic Books, Film
Sean Howe, author of Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, looks back to 1987 for a rare ad promoting what was supposed to be the first appearance of Youngblood, by a 19-year-old Rob Liefeld and Hank Kanalz. However, as Megaton Comics Publisher Carlson related on his blog, Megaton Special #1 Starring Youngblood received only about 1,200 orders — “the independent comic market was glutted back then,” he writes — and the issue was never printed.
Sad story, sure, but I hear Liefeld did pretty well for himself, and a slightly different version of Youngblood finally saw the light of day about five years later, as the first title published by Image Comics. Kanalz turned out OK, too, serving as the longtime general manager of WildStorm and, now, senior vice president of Vertigo and integrated publishing for DC Comics.
In a related posted, Howe also has a 1991 ad for Liefeld’s The Executioners — ““rebel mutants from the future come to destroy their past”” — accompanied by an excerpt from Marvel Comics: The Untold Story detailing how the House of Ideas threatened to sue … for pretty obvious reasons.
Publishing | What begins as a profile of Australian publisher Gestalt Comics dovetails into a brief snapshot of the country’s comics industry — or, perhaps, “industry.” “There are publishers like Milk Shadow Books and Black House Comics, I think we all help to create the impression of there being an Australian industry,” says Gestalt co-founder Wolfgang Bylsma, “but I don’t think we’re established enough to call it an industry yet. There are very few people who are working full time in comics in Australia.” [artsHub]
Creators | Jamie Hewlett chats about art, influences, Gorillaz and whether he might considering returning to comics: “Would I go back to doing comics? I dunno, maybe. It’s a lot of work drawing a comic. [Laughs.] And, you know, I did 10 years of drawing comics, and I really enjoyed it, but I’m kind of keen to try other things that I haven’t done. But I was talking with Alan [Martin] about the possibility of doing something in a comic form together. We haven’t agreed upon anything yet. It’s just a conversation. I’d love to work with Alan again. I really like Alan; he’s really cool.” [Consequence of Sound]
Two interesting numbers have emerged out of DC Entertainment’s announcement that its monthly titles are finally available on Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple’s iBookstore and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Store — and if it’s one thing you rarely see in discussions of digital comics, it’s numbers.
In a pair of interviews with Hank Kanalz, DC’s senior vice president of digital, CNET and VentureBeat reveal the publisher has nearly
doubled tripled its sales of digital comics: To be more specific, a comparison between January through September 2011 and January through September 2012 shows an increase of 197 percent. In that same time, print sales grew 12 percent, which CNET characterizes as “a highly unusual metric given that digital sales have the reputation for undercutting physical sales in other media.”
Of course, we have no number by which to gauge that growth; it could be double 50,000 downloads or 500,000, for all we know. However, Kanalz gets a little more specific when he says August’s Justice League #12, featuring the highly publicized kiss between Wonder Woman and Superman, was the fastest-ever to each 10,000 comics sold digitally. It’s presumably surpassed that number in the more than two months since its release, but we’ll probably never know by how much.
However, CNET suggests that by using the issue’s estimated print sales (160,000), “we can start making some educated guesses about digital sales — at least for popular titles.” I’m not so sure about that, considering the amount of media attention given the kiss, but it’s certainly a start.
Digital comics | Hank Kanalz, DC Entertainment senior vice president of digital, talks about DC’s decision to offer its single-issue comics on a variety of platforms, including Kindle, Nook, and iTunes, rather than exclusively through comiXology and its branded apps (which run on the comiXology platform): “It’s not a move [away from comiXology], it’s an expansion. My charter is to go as wide as possible, and to expand to as many readers as possible. That’s what this is.” [CNET]
Passings | Indian cartoonist T. Samuval died last week in Delhi at age 86. Tom Spurgeon writes, “He was best known for his pocket cartoons, contributed under the nom de plume ‘Samuel.’ Pocket cartoons were a development of British newspapers in the 1930s: single-column cartoons on a current news story designed in many cases to lighten the severity of bad or unpleasant news. Many, like Samuval’s, became recurring features with a specific character at their forefront.” [DNA, The Comics Reporter]
Ahead of the release on Wednesday of Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1, signaling the beginning of its line-wide relaunch, DC Comics has kicked off a promotional assault in the mainstream press to sell “The New 52″ to a broader audience. While USA Today, with a circulation of 1.8 million the second-largest newspaper in the United States, looks to be the hub for coverage, DC has also reached out to publications like the New York Daily News, the New York Post and the Boston Herald. Here are the highlights so far from the 11th-hour push:
• USA Today takes a broad overview of the relaunch, talking with DC Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, and a couple of retailers. “There are plenty of angry customers over this,” says John Robinson, co-owner of Graham Crackers Comics chain in Illinois. “I’ve heard the usual ‘I can’t believe they’re doing this,’ ‘They’ve betrayed us,’ etc. I’d say about 60% to 70% of those protesting the loudest will still end up buying the stuff. There’s just too much hype and interest — even the haters are curious.”
• The newspaper also hones in on the publisher’s new same-day digital strategy, which debuts Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET when Justice League #1 will be available for purchase digitally. Hank Kanalz, senior vice president for digital at DC Entertainment, acknowledges the challenges of getting the initiative off the ground: “Some books are working really far ahead of schedule, some are down to the wire, and it’s just a matter of coordinating and about overcommunicating. We have to make sure it goes off without a hitch, which is why we’re not sleeping right now. We’re going much wider to a mass audience than ever before, so it’s a matter of making sure we have everything ready to go.”
Hank Kanalz, former vice president and general manager of WildStorm Productions, has been promoted to senior vice president-digital of DC Comics. He’ll oversee the new DC Digital Comics division, based in Burbank, Calif.
The news was announced this morning by DC Comics Co-Publisher Jim Lee during the DC Nation Town Hall Panel at New York Comic Con.
The WildStorm imprint was closed last month as part of a restructuring of DC Entertainment that leaves the comics-publishing division in New York City while moving the company’s administrative and digital and multimedia functions to Burbank. Lee confirmed this morning that most of the WildStorm operations will be moved from La Jolla, Calif., to DC Digital Comics.
Kanalz joined WildStorm in 2004 from Warner Bros. Consumer Products, where he served as director of worldwide theme parks. Before that he was a line editor at Malibu Comics, and the writer of such titles as Ex-Mutants and Ultraforce.
Update: Comics Alliance reports that Kanalz also will oversee DC’s kids comics.
Update 2: DC has issued an official press release, which you can read after the break.
As noted earlier this week, last night’s season finale of Fox’s Fringe featured an alternate reality where everything was topsy-turvy — including the comics. Over at DC’s the Source blog, DC’s Geoff Johns and Wildstorm’s Hank Kanalz talks about how the mock covers used on the show came about.
“A month or so ago, I was fortunate enough to take on the job of Chief Creative Officer. That meant I was charged with bringing out characters out of the comic book pages and into the vast world of television, film, animation and video games that is DC Entertainment,” Johns said. “One of the first calls I got was from the director of the Fringe season finale – writer/producer/director Akiva Goldsman. He was shooting a scene in an alternate world where things weren’t exactly like ours. Where even the smallest details were somewhat off. Including the comics. Together with executive producer Jeff Pinker, Akiva wanted to showcase an array of DC Comics that could’ve been including the ones you can see below. He wanted them to be as authentic as possible. Something only the hardcore would really recognize. We all came up with some ideas. That’s when Hank Kanalz came in…”
“We mobilized Batman: Arkham Asylum artist Carlos D’Anda, The Authority: Lost Year artists JJ Kirby, Michael Lopez, and Oliver Nome, and art directors extraordinaire Larry Berry and Ed Roeder to create these fun alternate reality covers,” Kanalz said. “We assembled the first four covers quickly…but we really wanted to exceed all expectations for the fifth cover. With the concept of RED LANTERN/RED ARROW we had only one choice – Ivan Reis. Geez, did he and Oclair Albert deliver, or what?”
In addition to the Red Lantern/Red Arrow cover, there were several other classic DC Comics covers that got a little twist of their own. For instance, Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 featured the classic Superman holding a lifeless Supergirl … but on the show last night, the roles were reversed: