Publishing | Viz Media, the largest U.S. publisher of English-language manga, is poised to jump in to a new market: India. Kevin Hamric, the company’s director of publishing and marketing, was there this week, and he says the demand is there. “With India’s growing book and reading sector we have identified it as key to our growth,” Hamric says. “We receive many, many requests each and every month from fans in India to bring our product here.” [The Hindu Business Line]
Comics | As the Avengers turn 50, Noel Murray recounts their history and explains why they work so well as a super-team. [Hero Complex]
Conventions | The founder of this month’s incredibly successful Salt Lake Comic Con — it drew about 70,000 attendees in its first year — is planning a spinoff event for Jan. 9-11, the weekend before the Sundance Film Festival. [Salt Lake Tribune]
When Matt Fraction’s Sex Criminals debuts next week from Image Comics, some readers will be exposed to Chip Zdarsky for the first time. And I tell you, it’ll be an unforgettable experience.
Zdarsky may be virtually unknown to devotees of mainstream comics, but for the people of Toronto and those in certain corners of the Internet, he’s a bit of a phenomenon. I was introduced to his work around 2003 through a collected edition of his comic strip Prison Funnies, and then through discussions on the Warren Ellis Forum. He was one of the early members of the web collective Act-I-Vate, contributing a short-lived but legendary series called Zdarsky-verse, which included a drug-fueled Pac-Man.
Awards | Gilbert Hernandez is the recipient of the 2013 PEN Center USA award for outstanding body of work in graphic literature. Drawn and Quarterly announced the honor along with news that it will publish Hernandez’s next graphic novel, Bumperhead. [The Comics Reporter]
Conventions | “SPX is all about the hugs,” says Heidi MacDonald, who relegates her business piece on the Small Press Expo to Publishers Weekly and turns to her blog to discuss not only her impressions but what folks were saying on social media. [The Beat]
The crime comedy Blue Estate is moving from comic books to video games with a “darkly funny” PC rail shooter developed by fledgling French indie studio HeSaw for Leap Motion. A teaser trailer for Blue Estate: The Game debuted this morning online.
Created by Viktor Kalvachev (now creative director of HeSaw), and featuring art by Kalvachev, Toby Cypress, Nathan Fox, Robert Valley and others, the 12-issue Blue Estate was published from 2011 to 2012 by Image Comics.
Players will step into the shoes of Tony Luciana, the bumbling, arrogant mob boss from the comics, “as they’re dragged greasy hair-first into a tangled web of mobster chaos and high-velocity violence. What Tony lacks in smarts he more than makes up for in gun-toting belligerence. The only thing that can keep up with his trigger finger is his penchant for sarcastic one-liners.”
“The Blue Estate comic series is a real labor of love for me, and it’s very cool to see some of the characters come to life off the page in such an amazing interactive way with Leap Motion,” Kalvachev said in a statement. “Tony Luciano is a good choice of character for the lead role with his sharp tongue and itchy trigger finger. It really is a lot of fun to play and I hope people are going to love it.”
Image Comics has unveiled the 10th and final connecting cover for The Walking Dead #115, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the hit series. Illustrated by series artist Charlie Adlard and colored by Dave Stewart, the covers depict the most significant, and the most special, moments of the past decade.
The Walking Dead #115, by Robert Kirkman, Adlard and Cliff Rathburn, arrives Oct. 9. Check out the solicitation text below.
The zombie hordes won’t be stopped by the gates of academia.
AMC, Instructure and the University of California, Irvine have teamed up for a massive open online course (MOOC) “exploring a broad range of scholarly topics through the lens of a hypothetical zombie apocalypse.” Or should that be “hypothetical” zombie apocalypse?
Announced this morning, “Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC’s The Walking Dead“ is a free, eight-week course taught by UC Irvine faculty in the fields of social sciences, public health, physics and astronomy, and mathematics. According to the course description, the online class will tackle such topics as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, social orders and structures, the spread of infectious diseases, and nutrition in a post-apocalyptic world (particularly relevant to Daryl Dixon, the latter asks, “Are squirrels really good for you?”).
Creators | Beetle Bailey creator Mort Walker received messages from the likes of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Dolly Parton and Prince Albert II of Monaco ahead of his 90th birthday today. The cartoonist, who introduced Beetle Bailey in 1950, still supervises daily work on the strip at his Stamford, Connecticut, studio. [The Associated Press]
Creators | Gene Luen Yang discusses his newest work, Boxers and Saints, a 500-page, two-volume set that examines China’s Boxer Rebellion through the eyes of two very different characters. [Graphic Novel Reporter]
Saga, Vol. 1, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story, presented over the weekend at LoneStarCon 3 in San Antonio, Texas. Paul Cornell served as the toastmaster.
Presented annually since 1955 by the World Science Fiction Society, the prestigious Hugo Awards recognize the best in science fiction and fantasy.
Published by Image Comics, the bestselling Saga follows two soldiers from opposite sides of an intergalactic war who fall in love and risk everything for their newborn daughter, and in the process become fugitives on the run from their own governments. The title was one of the big winners at this year’s Eisner Awards, earning nods for Best Continuing Series, Best New Series, and Best Writer.
Manga | The recent move by a Japanese school board to restrict student access to Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen has resulted in a surge in sales of the book — so much so that the publishers had to increase their reprint numbers by a factor of three, bookstores are reporting shortages, and an e-book distributor expects it to make the Top 10 this month. As we noted Monday, the board has reversed its policy. [The Mainichi]
Digital comics | Marvel has updated its Marvel Unlimited app for iOS and Android, addressing the two chief user complaints by doubling the number of comics that can be downloaded and read offline from six to 12 and improving searchability by allowing users to search by publication date. [PC Magazine]
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of The Walking Dead in October — hey, that’s when the four season of the AMC TV show premieres! — the 115th issue will be released with 1o connecting covers, with each depicting a significant moment and a special moment from the past decade. All of them will be illustrated by Charlie Adlard and colored by Dave Stewart.
Each weekday for the next two weeks, Image Comics will reveal part of the connecting covers for Issue 115. Today’s peek resurrects a particularly painfully memory from the series’ third year. Check it out below. The Walking Dead #115 arrives Oct. 9.
Awards | Stephen Collins’ The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil won the inaugural 9th Art Award, announced Sunday during the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Presented by Graphic Scotland, the prize recognizes the year’s best English-language graphic novel. The other finalists were: Building Stories, by Chris Ware; Days of the Bagnold Summer, by Joff Winterhart; Naming Monsters, by Hannah Eaton; and The Nao of Brown, by Glyn Dillon. [9th Art Award]
Manga | Raina Telgemeier’s comic about Barefoot Gen has attracted attention in Japan, where one city recently removed the manga from elementary-school classrooms, claiming it’s too violent for children (the manga depicts the bombing of Hiroshima). “I was lucky to have adults in my life who were willing to discuss the violent subject matter with me, and help me put the story in historical context, and clarify things I might not yet understand,” Telgemeier told The Asahi Shimbun. “After I finished volume 1 of Barefoot Gen, I was deeply upset. (But) as a child, I believed that if people simply saw what war was all about, they would take care that it wouldn’t happen anymore.” [The Asahi Shimbun]
There are certain artists who prove that their work only gets better with each new project and new issue. Such is the case with Nick Dragotta on East of West, his new creator-owned ongoing series with Jonathan Hickman.
I relish any opportunity to interview Dragotta, particularly in the same week that East of West 5#. His ability to lay out some spectacular action scenes continues to be a given in this Image Comics series, but I have also grown to appreciate his ability to develop distinctive architecture as well as engaging, yet more sedate, scenes.
In addition to discussing East of West, Dragotta also brought me up to date on Howtoons, which we talked about in our first interview in 2011. As the father of a kid who loves do-it-yourself activities, I appreciate the involvement of the artist and his wife Ingrid in a project that fosters fun, educational activities for children. To learn he has gotten creator favorites of mine, such as Fred Van Lente (no stranger to educational entertainment), Jeff Parker and Sandy Jarrell involved is just icing on the DIY cake.
Back to East of West, the artist and I also got a chance to (hopefully) satiate Comics Should Be Good’s Greg Burgas’ curiosity regarding the East of West creative process that he broached in a recent essay on reviewing the art in comics. In addition, Dragotta was kind enough to share an unlettered page from East of West #5 as well as unlettered pages from issues 2 and 4. With the first trade (collecting issues 1-5) set for release on Sept. 11, we also discuss its potential impact on audience growth. Full candor: Dragotta blindsided me with his Rob Liefeld fan club confession. Seriously, though, it is refreshing to see a talent such as Dragotta reveling in the opportunity to do creator-owned work.
Graphic novels | ICv2 has the July BookScan numbers, and six of the Top 10 titles are from Image Comics (four Walking Dead, plus both volumes of Saga). The latest volume of Sailor Moon tops the list, and the first volume of Attack on Titan shows up at No. 12, which is pretty good for a book that came out more than a year ago. The only DC Comics or Marvel titles to crack the Top 20 were Hawkeye, Vol. 2 (No. 18) and perennial bestseller Watchmen (No. 19). [ICv2]
Conventions | Fans are gearing up for next month’s Salt Lake Comic Con (which another article estimates will attract more than 25,000 attendees), but the announcement that professional cosplayer Jessica Nigri will be there has caused a minor controversy. [The Salt Lake Tribune]
“It just felt right. There’s never been, that I can think of, like a sex comedy for comics the way that we go see sex comedies in the movies or on TV. It just seemed like a genre that was totally virgin — pardon the pun. And I love that stuff, whether it’s like Billy Wilder or Superbad or any of that stuff. It’s a genre I enjoy; it makes me laugh. And if you’re going to do a comic, it should be a comic. It shouldn’t be a screenplay that you just give up and convert to the page. So I wanted something that looked visually spectacular and kind of play with the form. Comics does time on the page very well. It’s a chance to make a piece of cartooning and a piece of comic bookery that ordinarily wouldn’t be possible.”
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.