Image Expo Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources
After the January Image Expo, Image Comics received some flak because most of the creators on stage were white men. On Wednesday, Publisher Eric Stephenson’s keynote address to the Image Expo held in conjunction with Comic-Con International included the following comments: “If we want to build a more diverse industry, though, if we want to develop a more diverse talent pool, then it is of utmost importance that we produce comics that appeal to as wide an audience as possible …”
That was said within the context of the historic gender disparity in comics, especially when looking at mainstream comics and the direct market. There’s more evidence than ever that the gender disparity in readership is no longer true; women are just as likely to read comics as men. If that’s true, then one would hope that just as many would be likely to attempt to make comics. That doesn’t seem to have come to pass in this corner of the industry, but Image announced a trio of upcoming releases that will hopefully start to shift the momentum in the right direction. If nothing else, these are among the most promising books to be announced at Image Expo, and they build on the gratifying surge in creator-owned comics.
Preview Night stopped being a leisurely affair several years ago, as Comic-Con International grew so large that four “official” days couldn’t contain all of the news. Heck, five days isn’t even enough, with more and more comics publishers rolling out major announcements before anyone even started packing their bags for San Diego (BOOM! Studios, Dark Horse, DC Comics, Dynamite, IDW and Marvel all did so this year).
Image Comics planted its flag on Wednesday, amid the usual buzz about movies, television and video games, with its Comic-Con-adjacent Image Expo, where it announced a dozen new titles from such creators as Warren Ellis, Kurt Busiek, Rick Remender, Sean Murphy, Becky Cloonan, Jeff Lemire, Joey Casey, Dustin Nguyen, Marian Churchland and Gabriel Hardman. Comic Book Resources has the full report, and the text of Publisher Eric Stephenson’s keynote address, but we’ve gathered descriptions and images for each of the 12 comics below.
Passings | Bomb Queen and Five Weapons creator Jimmie Robinson writes a touching remembrance of pioneering cartoonist Morrie Turner, who passed away Saturday at age 90. Widely recognized as the first nationally syndicated African-American cartoonist, the Wee Pals creator frequently spoke at schools, and it was during one of those visits that he inspired a young Jimmie Robinson: “When he came to our class he spoke about his craft and showed us how he worked and what his job demanded. He spoke about his newspaper comic strip and how he had to write it every day. He spoke about the diverse cast of characters in his strip, but he never once spoke about the issue of his race. But for me he didn’t have to. The fact that he, a black artist, even existed, spoke volumes.” The New York Times also has an obituary for Turner. [Jimmie Robinson]
Events | The second annual Black Comic Book Festival will take place this weekend at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City. The lineup of guests includes Norwood Steven Harris, Grey Williamson and Tim Fielder. “It is the largest gathering of black comic book fans in the country,” says Schomburg Director Khalil Gibran Muhammad. “There is something for everyone from the aspirational 9-year-old illustrator, to the costumed superheroes, to the lifelong collectors.” [New York Daily News]
Creators | Ed Brubaker discusses the exclusive deal he and Sean Phillips signed with Image Comics, announced last week at Image Expo: ” It’s almost like having your own label or something. Just the fact that we can green-light our own projects and we have approval over format, everything. … I feel like we have such a core audience that seems to follow us from thing to thing, so let’s take advantage of that and really just experiment and go crazy and just be artists.” [IGN]
In three short years, Image Comics has turned Image Expo into the first big comics event of the year. Interest in the publisher’s announcements has reached the point where I wish there were live-streaming video of the presentation. Maybe next year. For now, we have to settle with live coverage, which was still pretty fun. Image Expo didn’t disappoint: It seemed as if every title announced caught my interest. There are a few that stand out, however, so here are my Top 5 picks of the announcements that went above and beyond.
1. Image signs Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips to a five-year exclusive contract
The acclaimed collaborators have a perpetual green light at Image to do whatever they want for the next five years. That’s a big vote of confidence, and a real commitment to support Brubaker and Phillips. It must be quite a relief for them to not have to worry about crafting the perfect pitch and convincing someone to believe in their story. They just get to create. It’s an exciting arrangement, and one I hope will serve as a pilot program for others equally worthy.
Welcome to Best of 7, our new weekly wrap-up post here at Robot 6. Each Sunday we’ll talk about, as it says above, “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out. I should also note that we skipped last Sunday after being exhausted from all our anniversary content, so you may see an item or two slip in from last week.
So without further ado, let’s get to it …
Speaking of Grant Morrison, the writer has offered a few more details about his upcoming collaboration with Batman Incorporated artist Chris Burnham, announced Thursday at Image Comics’ Image Expo.
Called Nameless, the six-issue miniseries was described at the event by Burnham as “the ultimate horror comic.” However, that barely scratches the surface.
As Morrison tells USA Today, “We’re taking all the dark stuff that Western culture’s kind of obsessed with — the zombies and everything — beyond the limit and doing hopefully for now what H.P. Lovecraft did for the wartime generation.”‘
Nameless, it turns out, is the name of the protagonist, whom the writer characterizes as both a screw-up and highly intelligent, a person “super high functioning in how he makes connections between things.”Beyond that, Morrison isn’t offering any specifics, except to say, “”I’ve been studying nihilistic philosophy, which is basically the most depressing stuff on Earth.” But Burnham teased at Image Expo that, “[Morrison] has never done a straight-up, ball-to-the-wall horror book. That’s what I told him I wanted, and that’s what we’re doing. I think it’s going to be awesome and terrible, and hopefully some 11-year-old kids will steal it, and it’ll ruin their lives forever.”
A lot of big announcements came out of Image Expo today — among them, new projects from Grant Morrison, Matt Fraction, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Scott Snyder and Jock, and Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie — but the most significant may be an unprecedented five-year deal with frequent collaborators Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips.
The agreement allows the creators, in the words of the publisher, “to do anything they want with total freedom, total control, and total ownership over their projects.” Or, as Brubaker told The New York Times, “It really is like a movie studio gave you an overall deal where you could green light your own projects. If you wanted to do a four-hour Russian film, you could — you may not make a profit, but you could do it.”
The first project under the deal will be The Fade Out, which Brubaker said at the expo is “loosely based on things that happened in Hollywood in the ’40s.” It will debut this summer, following the conclusion of Fatale with Issue 24.
Brubaker and Phillips first worked together in 1999 on Scene of the Crime, and reteamed for Sleeper, Criminal, Incognito and Fatale.
Image Publisher Eric Stephenson explained the deal with the Eisner Award-winning duo was easy to approve, telling The Times, “Whoever is looking back at comics history is going to be looking back at the work of certain creative teams and Ed and Sean is one the biggest teams we’ve had.”
Graphic novel sales | The top-selling graphic novel in bookstores last month was the 18th volume of The Walking Dead, according to BookScan, followed by Naruto, Vol. 61, Saga, Vol. 2, Sailor Moon, Vol. 11, and perennial bestseller The Walking Dead Compendium, Vol. 1. It was a good month for manga, which took 10 of the Top 20 slots; not so much for DC, which had just one book in the Top 20, and Marvel, which had none. [ICv2]
Comics sales | Comic and graphic novel sales were up in the second quarter of 2013 compared to the same period last year, but ICv2 termed it a “solid but unspectacular” quarter compared to a “torrid” Q1. Anemic sales in June were partly to blame — comics sales were up, graphic novel sales were down. [ICv2]
Welcome to “Report Card,” our new week-in-review feature. If “Cheat Sheet” is your guide to the week ahead, “Report Card” is a look back at the top news stories of the previous week, as well as a look at the Robot 6 team’s favorite comics that we read. And what a busy week it was, as, despite there being a major U.S. holiday, we saw a lot of publishing news coming out of Image Comics and Vertigo, and quite a few great comics.
So read on to find out what we thought of the first issues of Batman ’66, Superior Foes of Spider-Man, Deadpool Kills Deadpool and more.
Image Comics, holding a media event on Tuesday reminiscent of Steve Jobs-era Apple, announced it will sell DRM-free digital comics through its newly redesigned website. And like clockwork, there it is, beginning with a compilation of the first 50 installments of the webcomic Scatterlands by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard for 99 cents. Also available for the launch are Image hits like Lazarus #1 by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark, and Jupiter’s Legacy #1 by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely, both priced at $2.99 to match their print editions. Digital comics can be purchased as PDFs, EPUBs, CBRs or CBZs.
This isn’t the first time DRM-free digital comics have been made available, of course. Earlier this year, Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin set up Panel Syndicate to sell their comic The Private Eye in a successful name-your-price model (readers can choose the format). Since 2011, Artist Alley Comics has been putting out a small line featuring creator-owned work by Tim Sale, Craig Rousseau, Richard Case and others as PDF files, generally priced at no more than $1.99. And as early as 2006, the beleaguered Wowio.com began selling downloadable PDFs of comic books and graphic novels. There have also been others here and there.
Headlines touting this as the first time you can get DRM-free digital comics might not be entirely true, but that doesn’t take away from it being a big deal. Image is certainly the largest publisher to make this move, and combined with the rest of its digital comics strategy, this instantly positions the company as an industry leader in the digital arena.
Aiming to cut the fat from the bloated pop-culture extravaganzas, a new creator-branded model for comic conventions is drawing fans to a more curated and unique experience.
For decades, comic conventions have been building up (or “diversifying,” if you prefer) to include television shows, movies, video games, board games, toys, novels, scantily clad models, and new-media companies that used speech balloons in their marketing campaign that one time. Basically they’ve become magnets for any project with an air of geekery, regardless of the lack of any sequential art or cartooning. A number of cons can feel more like a pop-up strip mall in their efforts to be everything for as many people as possible. And con-goers feel it. You really haven’t had the full convention experience if you don’t hear someone grumble how the con used to be about the comics, man. It’s a chorus that seems to attract more voices each year.
Perhaps in response to the growing Grumble Choir, a number of event organizers have been testing more focused conventions branded under a single creator or identity. These conventions bring in vendors, guests and exhibitors that more directly reflect the name on the banners, resulting in a more authentic and cohesive experience. While it’s splicing a niche market to a niche within a niche, it’s also creating a more irresistible ticket item for people within that sub-niche. And those fans coming to see the name they recognize are probably super-fans eager to experience, sample and buy more at a deeper level than the more scattershot crowd under the general geek umbrella.
Passings | Jan Berenstain, who with her husband Stan created the popular children’s book characters the Berenstain Bears, passed away Friday at a hospital near her home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Berenstain, 88, had suffered a stroke earlier in the week. Since the release of The Big Honey Hunt in 1962, the Berenstain Bears series has grown to more than 300 books and sold about 260 million copies worldwide, inspiring animated television specials and series, museum exhibits and a stage show. Stan Berenstain passed away in 2005 at age 82. [The Washington Post]
Events | This year’s 24-Hour Comics Day will be held Oct. 20. [ComicsPro]
Comics | Here’s a variation on the comics-aren’t-for-kids-anymore theme, with reasonable parents who know they need to check what their kids are reading, and a retailer who gets it. [WNYT.com]
The first Image Expo kicked off Friday in Oakland, California, with a keynote speech from Publisher Eric Stephenson that emphasized creator relationships as the company’s foundation, and laid out more than a half-dozen titles that will be announced this weekend for release later this year:
• Happy!, by Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson, a mysterious title the writer says is “in a genre I’ve never really tackled before — but with a bizarre twist, of course.” It’s the first of several potential Image projects from Morrison. [iFanboy]
• Confirmation of a third volume of Phonogram, by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson, called The Immaterial Girl. Gillen says the six-issue miniseries, which will likely debut in November, is “primarily about the war between coven queen witch Emily Aster and the half of her personality she sold to whatever lies on the other side of the screen. It’s about identity, eighties music videos and further explorations of Phonogram’s core ‘Music = Magic’ thesis. There is horror. There are jokes. There are emotions. There may even be a fight sequence. It also takes A-ha’s ‘Take On Me’ with far too much seriousness – which, for us, is the correct amount of seriousness.” [Kieron Gillen's Workblog]
• Chin Music, by Steve Niles and Tony Harris, described by the artist as “a 1930′s Noir, Gangster, horror story.” [Tony Harris]
The Image Expo starts today at the Oakland Convention Center in Oakland, Calif. and runs through this Sunday. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Image Comics, the event is a “celebration of independent creativity in comics” and features many of the companies founders and top creators, including Todd McFarlane, Erik Larsen, Rob Liefeld, Robert Kirkman, Jim Valentino, Marc Silvestri, Ed Brubaker, Joe Casey, Jonathan Hickman, John Layman, Rob Guillory, Ryan Ottley, Nick Spencer, Brian K. Vaughan, Tim Seeley, Jim McCann, Landry Walker, Erik Jones and more. Image won’t be the only company represented, however, as the exhibitors page also lists IDW Publishing, Aspen and Archaia, as well as the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the Hero Initiative, the Kirby Museum and many more.
Attendees at the show can attend panels, meet talent and buy exclusives, including a special edition of Glory #23 that benefits the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a Skullkickers map-of-the-world poster, a “Butter Variant” of Chew #24 and the above Kill All Monsters print by Jason Copland.
You can find the complete programming schedule after the jump.