“Image United is the best worst idea that ever existed. … We overdid it. Image United should be respected for the experiment that it is, but loathed for the failure that it’s been so far.”
– Rob Liefeld, during a weekend panel at Amazing Las Vegas Comic-Con, discussing Image United, the long-delayed six-issue crossover by the Image Comics founders and Robert Kirkman that hasn’t released an issue since August 2010′s No. 3. At the convention, Liefeld said issue 4 and 5, originally solicited for April and May 2010, will be released in 2014. “We should’ve done the whole thing first, but we got kind of excited,” he said. “And I apologize.”
Creators | Stan Lee, characterized by CNN as “the Godfather of comic book heroes,” is modest about his own achievements in a new interview: “If my publisher hadn’t said ‘let’s do superhero stories’ I’d probably still be doing A Kid Called Outlaw, The Two Gun Kid or Millie the Model or whatever I was doing at the time.” He reflects on the increased female audience for comics and discusses some new projects, including a new superhero, The Annihilator, created specifically for a Chinese audience. [CNN]
Comics| Chris Huntington reflects on the importance of Miles Morales for children of color, like his son: “… To see Spider-Man pulling his mask over a tiny brown chin – to see a boy with short curly hair sticking to the ceiling of his bedroom— well, something happened. Dagim has been Spider-Man for two Halloweens in a row. He takes a bath with his Spider-Man and a toy killer whale. He has Spider-Man toothpaste and a Spider-Man toothbrush. If Spider-Man offered medical coverage, I think he would want that, too. My son somehow understands that there is a Peter Parker Spider-Man, who is vaguely grown-up and my age, and a younger Spider-Man, closer to his age. That’s just how Dagim likes it. He even understands that Peter Parker — like Superman, like Batman – wasn’t raised by his birth parents. The best superheroes were all adopted like him.” [The New York Times]
If you’ve been dying for a way to let cashiers know of your love for The Walking Dead even as the flesh-eating hordes storm the counter, Card.com and Robert Kirkman’s Skybound have the solution: Walking Dead Visa prepaid debit cards.
“Having The Walking Dead art on these credit cards will be an exciting way for fans to incorporate the series’ art into their daily lives,” Kirkman says in the press release.
Fans have their choice of seven designs, all featuring Charlie Adlard art, but none really saying, “Consumerism!” More like, “Holy shit, where are all those walkers coming from?” There’s Rick Grimes on horseback entering a devastated Atlanta, Michonne baring her katana, and, well, lots and lots of the undead (including an image of Rick, Michonne, Andrea, Abraham and Morgan as walkers). You can see all of the designs here.
While some delight has already been taken in the debut of X-Men atop Diamond Comic Distributors’ May sales chart — the title’s all-female cast remains a magnet for rancor from some shadowy corners — the bigger story may be the long-term performance of the first Saga trade paperback.
ICv2 notes that the first volume of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ space opera sold an estimated 7,552 copies in May, securing the No. 2 spot on the graphic novel chart, behind BOOM! Studios’ Adventure Time: Playing With Fire. That in itself is pretty impressive, but that Saga collection was released eight months ago.
The Image Comics book has charted in the Top 10 in all but one of those months (it slipped to No. 13 in November); however, May’s 7,552 copies represents a 65-percent increase from April, and the most in any month since January, when it sold 8,456 copies. In total, Saga, Vol. 1, has sold an estimated 53,000 copies in North American comic shops.
And that’s only in the direct market: As ICv2 points out, Saga is creeping back up the BookScan chart for graphic novels sold in bookstores.
Saga‘s status as a hit and a long-term seller comes as no surprise, but that direct-market surge (65 percent!) and book-market uptick this far from the book’s debut are certainly eye-openers. Is the boost a result of good word of mouth, the impending release of the second collection, or the widespread attention given to the merry mix-up in April, when it was erroneously announced that Issue 12 had been banned from the Apple App Store?
I’d place money on the latter (although word of mouth undoubtedly plays a significant role in the book’s overall performance). Of course, we should never discount the contributions of Lying Cat …
Retailing | Naruto topped the May BookScan chart of graphic novels sold in bookstores, followed by two volumes of The Walking Dead, the latest volume of Sailor Moon, and Yen Press’ latest Twilight adaptation New Moon. Just three volumes total of The Walking Dead made the Top 20 (down from eight last month), and as usual, DC and Marvel got clobbered: DC had three titles on the list (two volumes of Court of Owls and Watchmen) while Marvel had one (Hawkeye), and none was above No. 15. Or to put it another way: Vol. 14 of Dance in the Vampire Bund, a high-numbered volume in a fairly niche manga series, placed higher than every Big Two book on BookScan last month. [ICv2]
Creators | With the second issue of their digital-only comic The Private Eye recently released, writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Marcos Martin talk about their story, why they decided to do it digitally, and what the response has been so far. [The Verge]
In the recent New York Times profile of former Vertigo Executive Editor Karen Berger, Dave Itzkoff writes that DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio “said it would be ‘myopic’ to believe ‘that servicing a very small slice of our audience is the way to go ahead.’” It’s a weird way to structure the quote, but assuming Itzkoff is accurately capturing what DiDio meant, that’s a controversial stance for DC to take.
But he kind of has a point. Heidi MacDonald rightly notes that Vertigo books make up roughly one-third of DC’s list of essential graphic novels, but if we’re just going by sales, Vertigo’s slice of DC’s pie does look pretty small. According to Diamond Comic Distributors, just 6 percent of DC’s graphic novels in April’s Top 100 were Vertigo titles. The percentage was a lot higher in March (15 percent), but only 7 percent in February. The number of Vertigo titles in the Top 100 has been pretty consistent in the past three months: two or three. What made the difference in March was that DC had less Top 100 titles overall. Of course, that only covers a short amount of time and only includes direct market sales, but if we look at a list of what DC considered its top-selling graphic novels as of last autumn, only about 13 percent of those are from Vertigo. None of that is super-scientific, but it paints a pretty good picture of how much Vertigo contributes to DC in terms of sales.
This week saw the release of The Bounce by Joe Casey, David Messina, Giovanna Niro and Rus Wooton into comic shops. The Image Comics series stars Jasper Jenkins, a pot-smoking slacker who’s also a superhero.
“The Bounce is a full-blown, 21st-century superhero in all the ways that just … feel … so … right,” Casey told Comic Book Resources. “Underneath the mask, Jasper Jenkins is a typical twenty-something who likes to hang out with his pals, get his smoke on big time, put on a costume and jump out to do the hero thing. And the world needs him — it’s a dark place out there. But a more pressing personal problem is that his brother just happens to be the assistant DA, recently charged with rounding up the community of costumed freaks that Jasper is now a part of. A classic comic book dilemma! So, along with trying to keep his secret from his brother, the Bounce has to deal with a colorful and twisted rogues gallery which includes creeps like the Crunch, the Fog, the Vamp and the Horror. Clearly, we’re trying to put the ‘fun’ back in funny books, with full-on, four-color superheroics exploding off the pages …!”
So how fun and explode-y is it? Here are a few thoughts on the first issue from around the web:
ComiXology has removed 56 titles from its iOS app this week — they range from Angry Youth Comix to Sex to The Boys: Herogasm — to adhere to Apple App Store policies. They’re still available for purchase from comiXology.com.
“In order to comply with the Apple App Store guidelines regarding adult or inappropriate content, some new releases were rejected for our iOS app this week,” a statement on the comiXology blog reads. “In addition, certain previously released titles that fall outside of these guidelines were also rejected and will be removed from sale.”
The announcement comes a little more than a month after the digital-comics distribution platform rejected Saga #12 in an effort to adhere to Apple policies, an action originally attributed to the computer giant. In the aftermath, Image asked that Black Kiss II, XXXombies and Sex #1 be revisited, resulting in all three being approved for the comiXology and Image Comics iOS apps. Now, however, all three have been removed.
The list of removed titles also includes Jess Fink’s Chester 5000, Reed Waller and Kate Worley’s classic Omaha the Cat Dancer, Johnny Ryan’s Prison Pit and the gay-comics anthology No Straight Lines, which features the work of Alison Bechdel, Howard Cruse and Eric Shanower, among others.
Update (11:50 a.m.): ComiXology contacted ROBOT 6 to clarify that it was notified by Apple that those titles didn’t meet the App Store content guidelines, and therefore were pulled from the iOS app.
After sending up recent superhero-comics trends with The Uncanny Skullkickers, Savage Skullkickers, Mighty Skullkickers, The All-New Secret Skullkickers and Dark Skullkickers — all pokes at Marvel titles — Jim Zubkavich and Edwin Huang set their sights on DC in August with “Before Skullkickers.” (You can see Image’s August solicitations at Comic Book Resources.)
Returning the series to its original numbering after a succession of No. 1 issues, Skullkickers #24 features four “Tavern Tales,” by Ron Marz, Lee Moder, Adam Warren, Tom Raney, Todd DeZago, Stjepan Seji, Zubkavich and Huang, that recount the early adventures of the books’ heroes. Hence, “Before Skullkickers.”Skullkickers #24 arrives Aug. 14.
This week saw the debut of Chin Music, a monthly series written by Steve Niles and drawn by Tony Harris. Announced at last year’s Image Expo, Chin Music is about a man named Shaw who flees through time from his ancient enemies, landing in Prohibition-era Chicago to find himself surrounded by gangsters, law enforcement and the local supernatural underground.
So does Chin Music hit the right notes or does it fall flat? Here are a few thoughts on the first issue from around the web:
Comics sales | Is Mark Millar on to something after all? The first issue of Jupiter’s Legacy sold more than 105,000 copies to direct market stores in April; the only other Image comic to reach those numbers in recent years is The Walking Dead. ICv2 runs the numbers and also posts the Top 300 comics and graphic novels for April. [ICv2]
Passings | Matt Groening’s mother has died at the age of 94. Although she always went by Margaret, Groening borrowed her name for Marge Simpson in his animated series The Simpsons. [Comic Riffs]
Retailing | Amanda Emmert has resigned after nine years as executive director of ComicsPRO, the direct-market trade organization. [ComicsPRO]
Conventions | Last week’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo drew 53,000 attendees, the largest crowd yet for the Chicago-based show, which is in its fourth year. Reed Exhibitions Group Vice President Lance Fensterman talks about the high points of the show and plans for the next couple of years. [ICv2]
Graphic novels | Heidi MacDonald tracks the rise in popularity of graphic novels among librarians, whose support has been integral to the growth of the industry. Her well-researched article includes interviews with public librarians, school librarians, and academic librarians, as well as publishers and others in the field. It’s a comprehensive overview of one of the most important, and least reported-on, areas of our world. [Publishers Weekly]
Comics | Alex Hern looks at three comics that have long been out of print but are now back, or possibly on their way back: Flex Mentallo, Marvelman and Zenith. [The New Statesman]
Some people wear their influences on their sleeve, while others absorb it into their own style and, from time to time, shout it from the rooftops.
Jim Rugg is doing the latter in a stunning pin-up he created for the recent Extreme Comics fanzine Rub The Blood. Extreme is the brainchild of Rob Liefeld, whose divisive style earned him legions of fans, including it seems Rugg.
Rugg’s choices for which characters to display from Liefeld’s ouvre runs the gamut from his Marvel co-creation Cable to his creator-owned work like Youngblood‘s Chapel (done in a style reminiscent of Jae Lee’s take on the character) and solo stars Prophet, Bloodstrike: Assassin and Bloodwulf.
The first issue of Jupiter’s Legacy — “This is your summer event,” the teaser promised — arrived this week, setting into motion a multi-generational superhero tale by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely. The duo set a high bar for themselves and superhero comics more than 10 years ago with their work on The Authority. And since then they’ve each built up quite a resume that includes Ultimates, Kick Ass, All-Star Superman, Wanted, Sandman, Batman & Robin, Civil War and many more. Now the pair re-teams for a creator-owned “superhero event.”
“It’s very, very much a superhero event. Marvel and DC have their various events this year, and I’m planning on blowing them both away with this,” Millar told Comic Book Resources’ Kiel Phegley. “I see this as the big creator-owned superhero event. Nobody’s tried anything like this before, but it’s a big thing covering a huge time period with tons of characters and tons of dramatic twists. Like I said, this is my love letter to America and everything I like about America. America has had its problems, but this is my way of reminding you what’s cool about America. It’s very timely. This story couldn’t have been done five years ago. It’s straight out of the headlines of today.”
So how does the first issue stack up? Here are a few opinions from around the web:
I was only sort of watching Supernatural last night, which explains how I missed that geek-favorite actress Felicia Day wore a T-shirt featuring one of the best new character in recent comics history: Lying Cat from Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Image Comics series Saga. Luckily a tipster at The Mary Sue was far more observant.
According to Day, the shirt was the idea of writer Robbie Thompson, and a particularly inspired one at that, considering her character Charlie Bradbury starts off her reunion with the Winchester brothers with a lie. (In case you’re unfamiliar with Saga, Lying Cat is the enormous feline companion of the bounty hunter The Will who can detect whether anyone around her is being untruthful.)
Now the question is, where can fans get their hands on one of those shirts? Maybe at that weekday comic-book convention in Topeka, Kansas, that Charlie mentioned. Wait, no, that was a lie.