Starting today, UK underground comics publisher Knockabout Comics and digital-comics publisher Sequential are teaming up to publish Neil Gaiman’s Lost Tales, a collection of Gaiman’s comic strips from the 1980s, for free—and they will donate 50 cents to charity for every download.
The 100-page collection, which is available only via the Sequential iPad app, includes stories from Outrageous Tales from the Old Testament and Seven Deadly Sins, as well as a science fiction story from 2000AD and other material. Some of the comics are collaborations with other creators, including Bryan Talbot and Dave McKean, and many are long out of print. Also included is a 1988 interview with Gaiman.
Conventions | A even bigger obstacle than the San Diego Chargers to the proposed $520 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center could be the California Coastal Commission, which must approve the project before it can proceed (the stage agency has regulatory oversight of land use and public access to the California coastal zone). The commission’s 11 members are meeting today through Friday in Mission Valley, where they’re expected to consider staff objections about reduced access to the bay; a bridge, estimated to cost about $42 million, from the foot of Fourth Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter has been floated as a solution. A public hearing is being held Thursday. The expansion of the convention center is viewed as critical to keeping Comic-Con International in the city past 2015. [U-T San Diego]
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]
Tokyo-based software developer Panel Nine has now made its digital graphic novels app Sequential available in the United States and worldwide. The free iPad app, which “specializes in sophisticated digital graphic novels designed for adults from the world’s leading creators,” launched in May in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The company has already partnered with U.K. publishers Blank Slate Books, Myriad Editions, Great Beast, Tabella and Knockabout, and deals with SelfMadeHero and Walker Books forthcoming. U.S. publishers are promised soon.
If you’re a little bummed about not getting to go to San Diego this year, The Devastator has developed a way for you to experience the hustle and bustle of the convention without actually being there: Comic-Con Star Stalker, billed as “the first-ever video game about Comic-Con” (I doubt anyone can dispute that claim).
Available as a free app for iPad and iPhone beginning Monday, Comic-Con Star Stalker casts players as Seth, a fanboy trying to score as many celebrity autographs as he can: “What stands in your way? Ravenous crowds, clunky cosplayers and overzealous security guards. So, y’know, all of Comic-Con.” It’s a 2D endless-runner game in which Seth leaps over attendees, collects power-ups (nachos, energy drinks and swag), and collects autographs.
If you do make it to Comic-Con, The Devastator crew will be set up at Booth F-03, where attendees will be able to play Comic-Con Star Stalker on a mini-arcade.
Publishing | Dark Horse President Mike Richardson discusses how he became one of the first publishers of manga in the United States, explains how the company selects its titles, and suggests some manga for first-time readers. [Previews]
Digital comics | Retailer Ron Catapano points to the comiXology server crash triggered by the response to the free Marvel comics promotion as “the problem with digital content that fans keep complaining about”: “I can’t read the books I paid for because I can’t save them on my own computer and I’m limited in what I can save to my tablet by the small storage on tablets. Instead, the books I pay for are kept by comiXology and as long as I have a high speed internet connection available… I can log on and read my books on their web site or I can download a few to my tablet. BUT NOT TODAY … because someone decided it was a good idea to put 700 Marvel issue #1′s up for free at the same time.” [ICv2.com]
In “By the Numbers,” ROBOT 6 takes a look back at the events of the past five days … in numbers. Our starting point this week is Wednesday’s announcement that retailers ordered a record-breaking number of comics for Free Comic Book Day, an international event that will draw millions of customers into specialty shops on May 4.
However, there was another figure that’s almost as impressive: the print run for the latest volume of the hit manga One Piece.
Continuing the expansion of its Viz Kids imprint, manga publisher Viz Media this morning launched sticky DOT comics, a free kids’ digital comics app for the Apple iPad and iPad mini.
Developed by Viz Media, the app allows readers to securely browse and download a range of manga and graphic novels, from Pokémon and Mameshiba to Redakai and Voltron Force.
Launch titles include Pokémon Adventures, Pokémon Adventures: Diamond and Pearl/Platinum, Pokémon Black and White, Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl Adventure!, Mameshiba: On the Loose!, Little Miss Sunshine: Here Comics the Sun!, Mr. Strong: Good Thing I Came Along!, Redakai and Voltron Force. Available for download in the United States and Canada, volumes are priced between $2.99 and $3.99. New titles and volumes, along with free previews, will be added frequently.
As we finish off Year Five of digital comics (depending on how you count things), the distribution method is positioned to bring in a continually growing sector of new readers.
comiXology, the market leader, is ending 2012 as the third highest-grossing app of the year for the iPad. That’s up from the 10th spot last year, which is even more remarkable when you consider virtually no other app made an appearance on both lists. I can’t imagine that could be accomplished strictly with purchases from direct-market customers crossing over to digital. And when you take into account that direct-market sales have also been improving, that couldn’t happen even if every reader in comics got a big raise this year and was buying both digital and print copies. Worst-case scenario, we’re winning back lapsed readers. But mixed within those two groups (current and lapsed/returning readers) has to be a third, even if only a small percentage at this time. It seems too good to be true but it’s becoming more and more likely that the elusive new reader is being reached.
As digital sales continue to grow (“getting close to 25 to 30% of print sales,” for Robert Kirkman), several elements are in place, or just about in place, that could be creating a perfect storm to increase that new readers section of the pie.
Digital comics | Comics by comiXology was the third-highest grossing app on the iPad in 2012. Last year Comics made No. 10 on the charts, and two other comiXology apps, their Marvel and DC apps, also made the Top 20. [Inside Mobile Apps]
Manga | Black Lagoon creator Rei Hiroe has announced that after a nearly two-year hiatus, he’ll resume his hit manga in January or February. The violent action/black comedy series, which centers on a team of pirates/mercenaries, is published in North America by Viz Media. [Crunchyroll]
Comics | The Dundee, Scotland, city council has approved a proposal by publisher DC Thomson to name a street in the city’s west end to honor the Bash Street Kids, stars of the long-running comic strip in The Beano. Dundee already has statues honoring comic characters Desperate Dan and Minnie the Minx. [BBC News]
Comics | Laura Sneddon continues the New Statesmen’s week-long series on comics with a look at children’s comics in the U.K., including the digital relaunch of The Dandy, the continuing popularity of The Beano (which sells a respectable 30,000 copies per week) and the new kid on the block, The Phoenix. [New Statesman]
Legal | Disney has filed a motion to dismiss a $5.5 billion copyright-infringement lawsuit filed in October by failed dot-com Stan Lee Media Inc. in its sixth attempt to claim ownership of the Marvel characters co-created by Stan Lee. SLM, which is no longer affiliated with its co-founder and namesake, asserts Lee didn’t properly assign ownership of the works to Marvel, and that Disney didn’t file its Marvel agreement with the U.S. Copyright Office. Disney calls the lawsuit “completely frivolous,” and argues, in part, that the claims have already been litigated and rejected. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Publishing | As final print edition of The Dandy promptly sells out and the venerable U.K. children’s comic migrates online, David Fickling briefly discusses why he launched The Phoenix — a weekly geared for readers ages 6 to 12 — nearly a year ago, and why comics aren’t dead: “Reading comics was always a delight. Reading them under the bedclothes or the desk, even better. Now at last the experts are understanding the importance of reading comics. The loss of reading for pleasure has been identified as one of the principle reasons for falling standards of literacy. Perhaps part of the reason for our disgraceful literacy rates is that we don’t have comics. Comics are a link to books not competition; in short they are a great leveller.” [The Telegraph]
Digital comics | Technology journalist Andy Ihnatko discusses the significance of DC Comics’ expansion of its digital-comics availability from comiXology and its branded app to the iBooks, Kindle and Nook stores: “Now, all of the company’s titles have a presence in the same bookstore where hundreds of millions of people worldwide buy the rest of their content.” [Chicago Sun-Times]
Conventions | Steve Morris reports in on this past weekend’s Thought Bubble convention, in Leeds, England, which sounds like it was amazing. [The Beat]
Conventions | Meanwhile, on this side of the pond, Young Lee has an account of Durham’s NC Comicon. [Technicianonline.com]
With Labor Day weekend upon us, now is a good time to stock the virtual longbox with some digital comics. We reported the other day that Image has made 20 of its #1 issues free on comiXology; here’s a roundup of some other free’ n’ cheap digital comics to check out over the holiday.
Centsless Books is a website that rounds up all the free Kindle books on Amazon, and it has a dedicated section for comics and graphic novels. There’s a preview of Batman: Earth One up there, and a lot of first issues of different indy series. Some of the graphic novels aren’t really — at least one book I checked was prose not a graphic novel, and Little Nemo’s Wild Sleigh Ride is a picture book that uses Winsor McCay’s illustrations (which are in the public domain). Well worth checking out, especially if you’re a First Second fan, are the two Between the Panels books, which are promotional pieces put out by Macmillan, with creator essays, character sketches and side stories, all related to different First Second graphic novels. Aside from that, it’s a pretty mixed bag, but one that looks like it will be fun to rummage around in. These Kindle comics will also work on the Kindle iPad and Android apps.
Infinity is a free iPad fanzine from Panel Nine, which has published Eddie Campbell’s Dapper John and David Lloyd’s Kickback as standalone iPad apps. The inaugural issue includes an interview with Lloyd, a preview of Dapper John, a roundup of digital-comics news, a couple of app reviews, art by Simon Russell, and an interview with PJ Holden, the creator of Murderdrome, a short comic that was booted from the iTunes store for being too violent (it’s actually a spoof). It’s a nice collection and well worth the effort of clicking that iTunes button.
DC Comics announced a new digital storefront in Apple’s iBookstore this week, and for now, it’s filled with Batman graphic novels. The graphic novels were already available in iBooks, but the storefront pulls them all together in one place. Of course, you can also buy DC’s digital graphic novels via comiXology or DC’s comiXology storefront, or from DC’s Amazon storefront.
You might want to shop around a bit, though, because several of those books are cheaper on Amazon than in the iBookstore: Frank Quitely and Grant Morrison’s Batman and Robin, Vol. 1, is $9.68 on the Kindle, $11.99 on iBooks. Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Rises and The Dark Knight Strikes Again are $9.99 on Kindle versus $12.99 in the iBookstore. There are a couple of more, and in each case that I saw, Kindle beat Apple, at least on price, and all were readable using the Kindle apps on the iPad and Android devices, so these digital versions are in direct competition with each other.
What’s going on here? My understanding was that Apple’s agreement with publishers who use iBooks is that they won’t sell them at a lower price elsewhere. Of course, they may be easing back on that since the U.S. Department of Justice sued them, alleging price-fixing. Or maybe it’s just a glitch.