BEST BETS: "Jessica Jones," "Big Trouble/Escape from New York" & More October 2016 Highlights
Bitstrips, the Toronto-based startup behind those inescapable do-it-yourself avatars and comic strips on Facebook, has secured $3 million in funding from Hong Kong venture capital firm Horizons Ventures. The news was announced this morning, appropriately enough, with a comic strip.
Word of the investment first trickled out in late September, but documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday offer the first details. The figure was confirmed by GigaOm. Autodesk is now deviantARTt’s largest investor.
DeviantART entered into a partnership in April with Madefire, allowing the community’s members to make their own motion comics using Madefire’s tools, and then distribute them through deviantART and the Madefire’s app. What will come from the Autodesk investment is unknown.
“Sometimes what you get out of an investment or a partnership doesn’t have to be very tangible,” Autodesk’s Samir Hanna, who will join the deviantART board, told Techcrunch in September. “If that happens, well, we have all sorts of tools that artists use. If they choose to use our tools, that’s great, but that is not something that we would be pushing for.”
DeviantART claims 27.8 million users and 2.5 billion page views per month.
As a contributor to the site, as well as a reader (I frequently linked them in Comics A.M.), I’m not at all impartial about this: I’m sorry to see it go.
MTV Geek debuted nearly three years ago at New York Comic Con with a launch party that served as a benefit for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. The original editor was Valerie Gallaher, who left about five months ago.
The site covered a lot of topics: comics, yes, but also movies, television, games, toys, cosplay, pretty much everything in the larger world of geeky interests. It ran a mix of news, interviews and fannish content like Twitter roundups and five-best posts. In the beginning there were also original comics, although those seem to have fallen by the wayside.
The demise of the site, which arrives less than a month after iFanboy ceased its”normal day-to-day operations,” doesn’t leave MTV without comics coverage: The final post indicates that MTV News will be reporting on NYCC next month.
As Morrissey once wrote, “I know it’s over/And it never really began”: This Charming Charlie, the delightful blog that mashed up Peanuts panels with The Smiths lyrics, has closed (at least for now), less than two months after its launch. But the culprit might not be who you think.
Techdirt notes that the blog’s mastermind Lauren LoPrete announced last week that The Smiths license holder Universal Music Publishing Group — rather that Peanuts Worldwide — began inundating her with takedown notices, leading her to advise her readers that she’s ending the Tumblr. However, she isn’t giving up without a fight.
LoPrete tells Motherboard that as soon as she posted the farewell, she began getting offers from lawyers to accept her case pro bono. And so now, with a little help, she’s filing counter-notifications with Tumblr, insisting the mash-ups fall under the fair-use exception of U.S. copyright law.
Writer of the Year
• Brian K. Vaughan
• Dan Slott
• Mark Waid
• Robert Kirkman
• Scott Snyder
Penciler of the Year
• David Aja
• Fiona Staples
• Greg Capullo
• Jim Lee
• Ryan Stegman
Here I am, like so many of you fine, wonderful people, relaxing at home instead of walking among the majestic masses of Comic-Con International in San Diego. Comic Book Resources and Robot 6 are keeping we homebodies abreast of all the news from this year’s mega-super-hyper event, so it’s kind of nice to be able to sit in a comfortable chair while still keeping informed and not having to pay $9 for a burrito.
Sure, it’d be nice to be there, wouldn’t it? To stand in line and take your chance at a microphone to tell the House of Ideas your opinion, ask questions of your favorite creative teams and get attention from the editorial team? Good news! That’s what social media can do for you! We live in an amazing time where a tweet to your favorite artist could be replied to with casual familiarity or a Tumblr post could get you a sneak peek at exclusive artwork. Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort has a Formspring account (now moved to Tumblr here) so you can ask him any question at any time of night. The people who produce comics are surprisingly at the hands of their public, which for Marvel, isn’t that new of an idea.
It’s been a rough 40 years for Aquaman, whose public image has never recovered from Super Friends. Sure, the long-running animated series raised the Atlantean’s profile, but it did so while depicting him as a pretty ineffective hero who had to hope for an aquatic threat and then hitch a ride with Wonder Woman to the nearest body of water. So he could summon a pod of narwhals. Only Zan of the Wonder Twins — “Form of water!” “Form of giant ice handcuffs!” — was lower in the Hall of Justice hierarchy.
And, as if that Entourage story thread and failed 2006 television pilot didn’t add enough insult to injury, now Aquaman has been declared the “most toxic superhero” by McAfee.
Retailing | As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on the Marketplace Fairness Act, Jacob Weisberg looks at how Amazon and Congress have managed to delay online sales taxes for more than a decade, giving online retailers a significant advantage over brick-and-mortar stores. Amazon, which has long fought any attempts to collect sales tax through lobbying, campaign contributions and threats to move to warehouse jobs, now supports the legislation, with Weisberg contending the retail giant “has played out the clock longer than it dared hope and would now like to be able to build warehouses everywhere without doing state-by-state battle over its ‘physical presence.'” The bill seems likely to pass the Senate, but its fate in the House is far less certain. [Slate.com]
Publishing | DC Comics has put together a guide to its graphic novel backlist, which will be available both in print and digitally. [Publishers Weekly]
Organizers of STAPLE! The Independent Media Expo have provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive first look at the details for their ninth annual event, held March 2-3 at the Marchesa Hall & Theater in Austin, Texas. Billed as the premier indie-comics convention in the Southwest, STAPLE! showcases a range of performers, exhibitors and artists, with an emphasis this year on independent table-top gaming, web TV, animation and pop-culture podcasting.
The announced panelists are: comics creators James O’Barr, Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson; veteran game designers Jason Morningstar, Jeff Dee and Marc Majcher; web TV icons Danni Danger, Sara Reihani and Jessica Mills; animators Dax Norman, Kyle Sullivan, Bill Byrne and Mongrel Studio Productions; and podcasters Geek Bombast, Chris Cox, Martin Thomas, The League of Extremely Ordinary Gentlemen and The Random Access Web TV Podcast. See the panelist biographies below. A full list of exhibitors can be found on the STAPLE! website.
The event, and its official “Live Art Show” after-party, also will feature performances by the macabre musical troupe After Midnight, nerdcore hip-hop artist Bad Barry, DJ LD and chiptune artist Run/DMG.
Two-day passes can be purchased for $15 from the Marchesa Hall & Theater website, or at the door.
Publishing | Radical Studios has secured $3 million in its first round of fundraising to further develop its catalog, expanding its digital publishing efforts and licensing capabilities. The publisher, which ultimately hopes to raise $9.5 million, has two comic-book adaptations in development at major studios: Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise, at Universal Pictures, and Hercules: The Thracian Wars, starring Dwayne Johnson, at Universal Pictures. [Variety]
Retailing | Dave and Adam’s Card World, billed as the largest online seller of baseball cards, has branched out, with an eye toward becoming the largest online seller of vintage comic books by 2014. “We were somewhat shocked and surprised that vintage comic books are more popular than vintage baseball cards. As a card collector, that just hurts,” c0-founder and CEO Adam Martin joked. [Lockport Union-Sun & Journal]
There’s been a lot of disinformation about the origins of the series of tubes that sprang fully formed from the mind of Al Gore. At last, the truth has been told, and in handy comics form by cartoonist Mike Holmes. He created this for a magazine last year that never got off the ground and it’s been making its way around the Tumblr.
Legal | The Bombay High Court had sharp words for the Mumbai Police regarding the arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on a sedition charge. “How can you (police) arrest people on frivolous grounds? You arrest a cartoonist and breach his liberty of freedom of speech and expression,” said justices DY Chandrachud and Amjad Sayyed during a hearing in the case. The court will issue guidelines for the application of the sedition law, said the justices, who called the arrest of Trivedi “arbitrary.” “We have one Aseem Trivedi who was courageous enough to raise his voice and stand against this, but what about several others whose voices are shut by police.” [The Economic Times]
Creators | Grant Morrison talks about the guy who (literally) ate a copy of Supergods, why he is moving away from superheroes, and his upcoming Pax Americana, which is based on the same Charlton characters as Watchmen: “It’s so not like Watchmen. In the places where it is like Watchmen people will laugh because it’s really quite … it’s really faithful and respectful but at the same time satiric. I don’t think people will be upset by it, in the way that they’ve been upset by Before Watchmen which even though it’s good does ultimately seem redundant … This one is its own thing but it deliberately quotes the kind of narrative techniques used in Watchmen and does something new with them.” [New Statesman]
It must be hard work keeping these group sketch blogs going. While some keep ticking along like clockwork (Eclectic Micks, Scotch Corner), some other favorites have been on lengthy, near catatonic, hiatuses (What Not, Comic Twart). David LaFuente has posted an announcement on The Sindiecate that, after one year of regularly promoting indie comics through character sketches, they’ve decided to call it a day:
Lafuente here with a final report.
THE SINDIECATE is closing down its doors. This month marks the first year of the collective authors and initiative to pay tribute to independent comics. And it’s a good moment to call it a day.
Thanks to Jorge Muñoz, James Harren, Mike Choi, Ryan Ottley, Colleen Coover, Matteo Scalera for joining me on this project. It’s great to look back on that idea I had for the website and see what has become thanks to them.
And thanks to the people who liked our homages, helped spread the word and maybe make some new readers for the indie authors behind the books.
Adios! : )
Perhaps their mission has been accomplished: certainly, Indie comics do seem to be in a healthier state now than even a year ago. High profile writers and artists seem to be flocking back in that direction, and with the massive sales numbers of The Walking Dead #100, the zeitgeist’s pendulum seems to swung further to the side of creator-owned than anytime since the early 1990s.
Publishing | ICv2 sits down for a three-part interview with DC Comics Co-Publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio that takes the long view of the past year, covering the launch of the New 52, the effect of digital and the loss of Borders, and the recent discussions around creators’ rights. “It’s a cyclical thing. It’s an issue that constantly comes back,” DiDio said. “We hear about the great jobs and the great books that creators might participate in, but what we don’t hear about are all the books we’ve invested in over the years that never delivered, where we’ve invested in the talent and the time to make sure they had the opportunity to tell the stories they tell. It’s a very big picture, and it’s a very complex issue that can’t be boiled down. One thing I feel the most strongly is that I feel extraordinarily confident that we do everything we can to make this a very creator friendly company, to make sure they have an opportunity to tell the stories they want to tell with our characters and also in their creator owned stories too.” [ICv2]
Here’s a nice coda to the whole Affaire d’Oatmeal: Political cartoonist Donna Barstow takes exception to the site Something Awful posting her cartoons without consent, and in the process, sums up about three weeks’ worth of lengthy posts in one pithy exchange:
“Are you talking about people posting them on the forums and making fun of them?” responded Something Awful’s David Thorpe. “I think you might be confused about the internet”
“I think you’re confused about money,” came Barstow’s retort. “Can I send an invoice your way?”
And there we have it: Legitimate commentary or picking someone’s pocket?
UPDATE: Here’s a link to Barstow’s site.