"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
Manga | Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto has collaborated with Kenji Taira, author of the Naruto spinoff Rock Lee & His Ninja Pals, on a one-shot comic that will appear in the Japanese edition Shonen Jump (and most likely in the North American version as well). The story ties in to the upcoming Boruto: The Naruto Movie, which opens on Aug. 4 in Japan before receiving limited U.S. release in October. The issue also includes a variant cover for the collected edition of the Naruto sequel Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring. [Anime News Network]
Conventions | Ethan Gilman looks forward to Boston Comic Con, which kicks off today and will feature appearances by Stan Lee, Jason Latour, and some movie and TV people as well. Boston Comic Con drew 900 attendees for its inaugural show, in 2007, and organizers expect 50,000 this year. [Boston Globe]
Creators | Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto isn’t getting the break he was looking forward to, although he was finally able to take his honeymoon, more than 10 years after his wedding. At a preview of Boruto: The Naruto Movie, he talked about moving from the hit manga, which ended its 15-year run last fall, to working on the movie: “I had thought that I could finally rest when I finished the manga series, but I couldn’t rest …” His own son is the same age as Boruto, the protagonist of the new movie (and Naruto’s son). And when asked about a sequel, he said, “I can’t. Please let me rest now,” adding that he thought Boruto was “perfect.” The movie will open on Aug. 7 in Japan and Oct. 10 in the United States. [Anime News Network]
Manga | Tokyopop announced Thursday at Anime Expo that it will return to publishing new manga from Japan, and it has also acquired some anime licenses. In addition, it is launching an app, PopComics, that will allow users to upload and share their own comics. Tokoyopop was the largest manga publisher in the United States at the height of the manga boom, but it closed down its publishing program in 2011. In the past few years it has been making a slow-motion comeback, selling some of its properties as e-books and print-on-demand books and publishing three new volumes of Hetalia: Axis Powers. [Anime News Network]
Political cartoons | While speaking to a youth leadership group, Maine Gov. Paul LePage was asked by Nick Danby, the son of Bangor Daily News cartoonist George Danby, what he thought of his father’s work. LePage’s response: “I’d like to shoot him.” The audience laughed, but the joke triggered a storm of criticism in the media, coming as it does in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings. The elder Danby certainly didn’t find it funny, saying that while he is critical of the governor, it’s well within the boundaries of satire. And, he added, “My other thought was, what if this was reversed? If I had made a comment. I’d be in big trouble today.” [The Huffington Post]
Manga | Is former manga powerhouse Tokyopop coming back? Once the largest publisher of manga in North America, the company stopped publishing new manga in 2011, but didn’t go bankrupt and never really went away. Tokyopop is selling many of its “global manga” titles digitally and in print, on demand, and it ‘s planning panels at both Anime Expo in Los Angeles and Comic-Con International in San Diego. On his blog, CEO Stu Levy drops a few hints, saying he’s “rebuilding” Tokyopop. [Tokyopop]
Digital comics | Rob Salkowitz analyzes the latest news from Amazon and comiXology and suggests there’s more to the story than meets the eye. While fans may view the renewal of Marvel’s deal with comiXology as a story about a digital comics service, Salkowitz says it’s really about bringing comics to the mass market through Amazon: “Kindle isn’t Amazon’s platform for reaching comic book readers. It’s Amazon’s platform for reaching all readers. comiXology counts its revenues in millions. Amazon counts its revenues in billions. Moving these titles from a superior specialty app to an inferior mainstream app isn’t a big deal for existing fans but it’s a huge potential expansion of the market.” [ICv2]
Retailing | Sales of both comics and graphic novels were strong during the 2014 holiday season and have continued to grow since then, according to the 13 retailers (nine direct market shops and four bookstores that carry graphic novels) surveyed by Publishers Weekly. The answers seem to reflect some trends that have been ongoing for a while: Image Comics solidifying its place as the No. 3 (and in one case, No. 2) comics publisher, the increasing popularity of graphic novels and an influx of new readers, many of them young and female. [Publishers Weekly]
Retailing | Brooklyn Comics & More Inc., the owner of two now-closed stores in New York City, has filed for bankruptcy. The corporation opened Brooklyn Comics & More in 2010 and Manhattan Comics & More in 2011; both closed in 2013. The company’s debts include $71,799.93 owed to Diamond Comic Distributors. [ICv2]
Creators | Daniel Clowes talks about Eightball, his hate mail, and the Shia LaBeouf affair: “I mean, I don’t hold a grudge. I don’t think about it that much. But I don’t think what he did was really forgivable. I don’t know that it matters that much if he’s apologizing or whatever. I just hate the idea of anybody doing that to some young artist who couldn’t hire legal representation. I’m sort of the one guy who could deal with something like that, and it would be really possible for somebody with his amount of money and power to just crush some poor young artist if that happened to them, and I would hate to see that. So I don’t think it’s something that needs to be forgiven; I think it’s something that always needs to be thought of as just a horrible thing to do.” [Vulture]
I’ve heard it said more times than I can count, “Image is the new Vertigo.”
In 1993, when DC Comics founded Vertigo around a handful of more adult-oriented titles, mostly featuring faded properties reimagined by British creators as horror, sci-fi and fantasy comics, the imprint was one the relatively few games in town for high-production-value genre comics for adults
That same year Image celebrated its first birthday, and although it was a sales juggernaut, the publisher was at that point little more than a vanity press for a handful of creators doing pastiches of their favorite DC and Marvel superheroes.
Creators | Fast Company named writer Kelly Sue DeConnick as one of its 100 “Most Creative People in Business 2015,” a list that includes innovators in technology, scientific research, entertainment, medicine and social media. The writer of such comics as Bitch Planet and Pretty Deadly, DeConnick is cited specifically for “reanimating a superhero,” Captain Marvel. [Fast Company]
Awards | Bad Blood, the Dark Horse miniseries written by Jonathan Maberry and illustrated by Tyler Crook, won the Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in a graphic novel, presented over the weekend by the Horror Writers Association. [Horror Writers Association]
Publishing | Ron Richards, who joined Image Comics in January 2013 as its director of business development, has announced his departure from the publisher. “I am immensely proud of the work that I was able to be a part of,” he wrote. “Re-defining how a comic company makes announcements and interacts with their fans with Image Expo, and helping usher in new and exciting comics like Black Science, Wytches, Southern Bastards, Deadly Class, The Wicked + The Divine (among so many more) has been an honor and a privilege. It’s been a delight to work alongside some of the most talented comics creators in the business — and I leave with respect for all of them.” A co-founder of iFanboy and a veteran of Graphicly, Richards said he doesn’t have any immediate work plans. His departure from Images follows that of Jennifer de Guzman last week. [Medium]
Passings | Manga creator Cocoa Fujiwara died March 31 at age 31. Fujiwara’s Inu x Boku SS, a story about humans with yokai blood who live together in a special apartment building, with some serving as bodyguards for others, is being published by Yen Press and has been made into an anime. Her first manga, a short story titled “Calling,” was published when she was just 15, and she chose not to go to high school in order to pursue a career as an artist. Her current series, Katsute Mahō Shōjo to Aku wa Tekitai Shiteita, runs in Square Enix’s Gangan Joker magazine, as did Inu x Boku SS. [Anime News Network]
Rat Queens, the Image Comics fantasy adventure by writer Kurtis J. Wiebe and artist Roc Upchurch (now Stjepan Šejić), has won the the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comic Book. Presented Saturday in Los Angeles, the awards honor outstanding portrayals of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.
The Eisner-nominated series, described by Wiebe as “Lord of the Rings meets Bridesmaids,” includes among its raucous cast a lesbian Halfling named Betty. This is the first time Rat Queens has won a GLAAD Media Award.
“As soon as I started getting an allowance, it was for comics. I would just go [to the store]. I didn’t really have a concept of new comic day, I just thought they showed up at any given random time at Golden Apple in LA. I would just show up and was like, ‘Ooh, WildC.A.T.S.!’ It was all that — WildC.A.T.S., Spawn, Cyberforce. I got into it too late to even know that these creators worked on Spider-Man and the X-Men. I just knew that they created the friggin’ Violator. It was huge for me. It got me into comics, straight-up. I think I liked those comics more than I liked X-Men. I just remember being at my friend’s house and he was like, ‘You gotta read this Spawn,’ and I loved it.”
— Say Anything frontman Max Bemis, talking with Comic Book Resources about the ’90s Image comics that inspired his new BOOM! Studios series Oh, Killstrike
Creatively, this will be a satisfying week for Invisible Republic creators Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman, as the first issue of their ambitious sci-fi adventure — “Breaking Bad meets Blade Runner” — arrives from Image Comics.
Bechko and Hardman initially started Invisible Republic around 2009, only to set aside in order to collaborate on other projects. When the creators picked it up again, Hardman chose to rework his art to a certain extent. Fortunately for ROBOT 6, Hardman notes, “I drew the entire first issue years ago before we reworked it into its current form and we haven’t shown these original versions of the pages anywhere else.”
The black-and-white pages are the original versions, while the final versions are in color (courtesy of series colorist Jordan Boyd).
Three factors interest me after reading the first issue of Southern Cross, the Image Comics mystery–set on a futuristic tanker spaceship–by writer Becky Cloonan, artist Andy Belanger and color artist Lee Loughridge. Something about the way the cast is introduced as the series lead Alex Braith boards the tanker flight to Titan (a refinery moon) plays out in a manner that is reminiscent of a 1970s murder mystery movie set on a train. Secondly, the cinematic scale of some of Belanger’s establishing shots, particularly of the tanker itself. But most of all, I find myself taken by the troubled and somewhat internally conflicted character of Braith herself.