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Comic-Con’s 6 biggest comics surprises

little nemo-idw

Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland

In case you didn’t notice, Comic-Con International happened last weekend. As always, it was an epic affair with tons of announcements, stunts and surprises. Amid cannons firing, actors dressing up as themselves, and big movie plans, there were also a good number of genuine surprises from comics.

Usually I end up picking a winner of Comic-Con, but after Dynamite Entertainment flooded the air waves with announcements the days before the event, no one else seemed to stand out as the clear winner. It’s not that everyone slacked off, however: They brought a good variety of interesting and exciting projects, and a number of standout announcements made my ears perk up. So instead of declaring a winner, I’m going to run down my Top 6 Comic-Con surprises in comics.

Before I start, though, two publishers deserve a little recognition for serious contenders for the Comic-Con crown. Top Shelf Productions classed up the joint by bringing in Congressman John Lewis for the debut of his graphic novel, March: Book One with artist Nate Powell and co-writer Andrew Aydin. I have little doubt this trilogy will end up being a historic release with profound benefits for schools, libraries and organizations looking for a powerful teaching tool and first=person account of the Civil Rights Movement and non-violent resistance. Plus, come on, photos of Lewis meeting Neil deGrasse Tyson and Lou Ferrigno? Everybody else, just pack it up. Maybe not as much of a milestone, but IDW Publishing also deserves a nod for the pure quantity and variety of good-looking books announced.

OK, on with my list:

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SDCC ’13 | There’s got to be a morning after

Comic-Con International

Comic-Con International

As the Comic-Con International hangover sets in and the industry goes silent while creators, editors, publishers and publicists stagger home from San Diego, we’ll take a few minutes to try to collect the comics-related highlights of this year’s event. We’ll attempt to update as more panel reports appear and other information trickles out.

• Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, Hawkeye‘s David Aja, and Building Stories by Chris Ware were the big winners at the 2013 Eisner Awards.

At Diamond Comic Distributors’ Retailer Appreciation Lunch, Marvel teased the arrival of Marvelman — it’s been four years since the publisher revealed it had acquired the rights to the property — and, scheduled for January, a new wave of Marvel NOW! titles. In convention panels, the company announced: Wolverine: Origin II, by Kieron Gillen and Adam Kubert; the return of Nightcrawler in the first arc of Amazing X-Men, by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness; the November debut of Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe, by Chris Hastings and Jacopo Camagni; “Afterparty,” a two-issue arc of Young Avengers that celebrates Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s first year on the series; Steve McNiven will join Rick Remender in November on Uncanny Avengers; Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand, a Galactus-focused Ultimate Universe event by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley; and the January-launching Revolutionary War, in which writer Andy Lanning and “various superstar artists,” will resurrect some of the Marvel UK characters.

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SDCC | Shanower & Rodriguez to tell new ‘Little Nemo’ stories

little nemo-idwAge of Bronze creator Eric Shanower and Locke & Key artist Gabriel Rodriguez will produce a series for IDW Publishing based on Winsor McCay’s pioneering early 20th-century comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland.

Debuting in 1905, and unquestionably decades ahead of its time, the surreal Sunday strip initially followed the nightly dreams of a little boy named Nemo as he 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. (ROBOT 6 contributor Chris Mautner provided an overview of McCay’s work in a March installment of “Comics College.”)

Titled Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland, the IDW series will launch next spring, with Nemo setting out on a new voyage. “However,” the publisher’s press release states, “everything else is different, even Nemo himself—in search of a new playmate for the princess of Slumberland, King Morpheus enlists the Candy Kid to help bring the latest playmate, our titular Nemo, into the dream realm. There, Nemo embarks on a visceral journey full of adventure and danger.”

“There are people like Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, Hayao Miyazaki and Winsor McCay that can grasp what dreams are made of, transform them, and share that with all of us,” Rodríguez said in a statement. “I think we’re lucky that McCay not only left us his wonderful stories, but also created a whole universe filled with windows opened for every one of us, inviting us to explore it, too. And Eric and I are taking the challenge, not trying to redo what he previously did, but trying to invite kids and adults from today to enjoy and have fun in of the Land of Wonderful Dreams.”

SDCC ’13 | Cooke’s ‘Parker: Slayground’ arriving in December

cooke-slayground-cropped

Parker, the remorseless thief created by Donald E. Westlake under the name Richard Stark, will return to IDW Publishing in December with Darwyn Cooke’s adaptation of Slayground. It will be the fifth Parker story the cartoonist has adapted since 2009′s The Hunter.

Slayground pits the character against crooked cops and sleazy gangsters when a heist goes wrong and Parker is trapped in an amusement park closed for the winter, and caught n a deadly game of cat and mouse.

“A boarded up amusement park was an inspired setting for Parker,” Cooke said in a statement, “and Westlake made the most of it. A great story that I’m enjoying the hell out of adapting.”

His previous Parker adaptations have received numerous Eisner Awards, with Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score winning just last night for best adaptation from another medium.

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SDCC ’13 | IDW to unleash Walter Simonson’s ‘Ragnarök’

THOR_RISEN_PENCILSWalter Simonson, renowned for his redefining run on Marvel’s Thor in the 1980s, will return to the world of Norse mythology in a new creator-owned series from IDW Publishing in 2014.

Announced this afternoon at Comic-Con International in San Diego, Ragnarök will feature “iconic deities and classic” tales written and drawn by Simonson. In addition, IDW will release re-mastered collections of Star Slammers, his classic sci-fi tale about intergalactic mercenaries who became the most successful businessmen of all time, and a special Artist’s Edition of the series.

The publisher debuted Walter Simonson’s The Mighty Thor: Artist’s Edition in 2011.

“Scott Dunbier and I first talked about me working on a creator-owned book involving the Norse gods 15 years ago, but as many of my former editors can tell you, I’ve always regarded deadlines as useful fictions,” Simonson said in a statement. “So here we are … finally! All I can say is that I’ve loved the stories of the Viking gods since I was eight. I am thrilled that with IDW’s help and support, I’m launching an ongoing series of stories built around a new vision of some old friends. And enemies.”

SDCC ’13 | A roundup of pre-convention news

robotech-voltronPreview Night doesn’t begin for another 11 hours, but judging from the flurry of announcements, Comic-Con International has been well under way since, oh, about Monday. So, if it feels like you’re already falling behind, that’s because you probably are.

To help you catch up, we’ve rounded up early news from DC Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Madefire and Marvel, along with a few other convention-related items.

• Dynamite Entertainment came out of the gate running this week with news that Steve Niles and Dennis Calero will reboot Army of Darkness, James Robinson will launch his crime romance Grand Passion, the Legends of Red Sonja miniseries will team Gail Simone with an all-female creative team that includes Marjorie M. Liu, Nancy A. Collins, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Mercedes Lackey, Nicola Scott and Devin Grayson, Peter Milligan will debut his sci-fi action series Terminal Hero, Duane Swiercyznski will expand the publisher’s crime line with Ex-Con, Howard Chaykin will return to The Shadow with the miniseries Midnight in Moscow, NBC’s Heroes will get a “fifth season” in a series written by Cullen Bunn, the acquisition of the Robotech license spawns a Robotech/Voltron crossover, and The Heart of the Beast, the graphic novel by Dean Motter, Judith Dupré and Sean Phillips, will receive a 20th-anniversary prestige-format edition.

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Comics A.M. | Digital comics sales nearly tripled last year

Hawkeye, Vol. 1

Hawkeye, Vol. 1

Publishing | Sales of comics, graphic novels and digital comics totaled $750 million in 2012, making that year the best of the millennium so far for the comics business, according to the retail news and analysis site ICv2. Total print sales were estimated at $680 million and digital at $70 million, a hair over 10 percent of print and almost triple the 2011 total of $25 million. The website also breaks down the top properties in eight graphic novel categories (superheroes, genre, manga, etc.), based on interviews with retailers, distributors and manufacturers. Interestingly, Hawkeye is nestled at No. 7 on the list of Top 10 superhero properties, between Iron Man and Spider-Man. [ICv2]

Publishing | Torsten Adair takes a look at IDW Publishing’s financials, and they’re looking pretty good. [The Beat]

Retailing | Saying that video games, texting and digital comics have killed interest in collectibles, 80-year-old Joseph Liesner is closing his Sunnyside, Queens, store Comic Book Heaven after nearly three decades. “The store’s not making any money,” he says, “and, besides, I’m as old as Methuselah.” The store will remain open for another two months, with Liesner using the time to search for a much younger girlfriend via a sign in the window. [Sunnyside Post]

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SDCC ’13 | Sunday programming schedule released

Comic-Con International

Comic-Con International

Kids take center stage on the last day of Comic-Con International, as proven by the rich slate of panels dedicated to kids’ comics, all-ages comics and animation on Sunday, July 21.

DC Comics, Archaia, Archie, IDW and Oni Press all host kid-friendly panels, while DC Entertainment shows off episodes of Beware the Batman and Teen Titans Go. You’ll also find spotlight panels for Neil Gaiman, Ted Naifeh, Faith Erin Hicks, Mike Norton, Jerry Ordway, Dan Jurgens and Adam Hughes, and a tribute panel to Jack Kirby.

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

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SDCC ’13 | Saturday programming schedule released

Comic-Con International

Comic-Con International

Comic-Con International continued to reveal the programming schedule for San Diego as they rolled out the panels and events scheduled for Saturday, July 20.

The third day brings panels from Skybound, BOOM!, Archaia, Top Shelf, Fantagraphics, Drawn + Quarterly, Top Cow, Archie, Action Lab Entertainment, IDW and Rebellion, Dark Horse, Image Comics, Valiant and Lion Forge Comics, the makers of those Saved by the Bell and Knight Rider comics that are coming soon. DC has panels dedicated to Green Lantern, Superman’s 75th anniversary, Sandman and Batman: Year Zero, while Marvel has panels on Infinity, their video games, animation slate and their movies, which include Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (no doubt they’ll have a little more than that). In what is likely his first trip to Comic-Con, Congressman John Lewis will be on hand to talk about his book from Top Shelf, March.

You’ll also find spotlight panels on Russ Heath, Sam Kieth, Val Mayerik, Vera Brosgol, John Romita Jr., Jon Bogdanove, Jim Lee, George Perez, Gerry Conway, Frank Brunner, Roy Thomas and Paul Dini, as well as a tribute to Joe Kubert. The day wraps up with the annual CCI Masquerade.

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

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SDCC ’13 | Friday programming schedule released

comic-con-fridayAnd just like clockwork, Comic-Con International organizers have rolled out the programming schedule for Friday, July 19.

On its second day, the San Diego convention kicks into high gear, with publishing panels from Dark Horse (including one dedicated to Joss Whedon’s titles, and another to Star Wars), DC Comics, IDW (including the Hasbro licenses), Marvel (including the perennial “Cup O’ Joe”), Oni Press, Titan Comics and UDON, retrospectives devoted to ElfQuest, Walt Kelly, Aspen and Strangers in Paradise, and tributes to the late Carmine Infantino and Kim Thompson.

Oh, and don’t forget the Eisner Awards ceremony, which caps off the day.

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

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SDCC ’13 | IDW Publishing rolls out Comic-Con exclusives

idw exclusives

A limited edition of the Artist’s Edition: Best of EC Covers Portfolio, two new Locke & Key pewter replicas and a glitter variant for My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #9 are among the highlights of IDW Publishing’s exclusive merchandise for Comic-Con International.

All of the convention-exclusive items will be available at the publisher’s booth, along with limited advance copies of the highly anticipated Superman: The Silver Age Newspaper Dailies, Vol. 1, and Berkeleyworks: The Art of Berkeley Breathed: From Bloom County and Beyond.

See the full rundown below:

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Comics A.M. | Jeff Robinov to exit Warner Bros. amid shakeup

Jeff Robinov

Jeff Robinov

Business | Following weeks (if not months) of rumblings, Warner Bros. has made it official: Jeff Robinov, the Warner Bros. Pictures Group president who oversaw the 2009 restructuring of DC Comics into DC Entertainment, will leave the studio following a reorganization that establishes a new leadership team: Sue Kroll, president of worldwide marketing and distribution, Greg Silverman, president of creative development and worldwide production, and Toby Emmerich, president and chief operating officer of New Line Cinema. It doesn’t appear as if Robinov will be replaced. DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson, who initially reported Robinov, presumably will answer directly to Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara; following a shakeup last month in the television and home entertainment division, Nelson reported to both Robinov and Tsujihara. [The Hollywood Reporter]

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Comics A.M. | IDW’s CEO talks digital strategy, book market

IDW Publishing

IDW Publishing

Publishing | ICv2 posts a three-part interview with IDW Publishing CEO Ted Adams that covers a multitude of subjects, including the company’s digital strategy, the Artists Editions, news that Scholastic has picked up its My Little Pony comics, and that the publisher’s book sales are up, even though Borders is gone: “The book market used to make me crazy on this returnable basis basically forever. That was never a sustainable business model. Where we are today is we are able to sell product in a reasonable way so that the bookstores get a chance to sell the product and we don’t get these giant returns. ” [ICv2]

Piracy | Earlier this year, the Chinese Internet company Tencent inked a deal with Shueisha, the publisher of Shonen Jump and thus the licensor of some of the most popular manga in the world. One consequence of this deal has just hit home with the Chinese reading public: Scanlations are disappearing from the web, and fans are not happy. [Kotaku]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Witch Hunts’ wins Bram Stoker Award

Witch Hunts

Witch Hunts

Awards | Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times, written by Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton and illustrated by Greg Chapman, won the Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in a graphic novel, presented over the weekend by the Horror Writers Association. Winners with a comic-book connection in other categories include Caitlin R. Kiernan (novel, The Drowning Girl), Jonathan Maberry (young-adult novel, Flesh & Bone), and Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard (screenplay, The Cabin in the Woods). [Horror Writers Association]

Graphic novels | Heidi MacDonald looks at Dark Horse’s plans to expand its Originals line of creator-owned graphic novels this year; upcoming releases include print editions of Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover’s Bandette and Cameron Stewart’s Sin Titulo, as well as a new graphic novel, Bad Houses, by Sara Ryan and Carla Speed McNeil. [Publishers Weekly]

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IDW to debut Berkeley Breathed art book in San Diego

berkeleyworks

Bloom County fans attending Comic-Con International in San Diego have something to look forward to: Not only will creator Berkeley Breathed attend the show, but IDW Publishing will also debut Berkeleyworks, the Art of Berkeley Breathed.

IDW publishes Bloom County: The Complete Library, and IDW’s Scott Dunbier posted the cover on Facebook this weekend: “300-plus pages of beautiful imagery and cutting commentary by the man himself.” Watch for more information on the collection soon. Comic-Con runs July 18-21, with a preview night on July 17.


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