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.
Performance Designed Products, which already manufactures clip cases, iPad folios and iPod touch sleeves featuring Marvel characters, now has an exclusive line of Iconic Marvel Comic Covers cases for the iPhone 5 — available only in Apple stores and at Apple.com.
By “iconic,” PDP means landmark first appearances: Amazing Fantasy #15, featuring the debut of Spider-Man; The Avengers #1; The Incredible Hulk #1; and Giant-Size X-Men #1. Sorry, no Tales of Suspense #39, Journey Into Mystery #83 or Captain America Comics #1 … yet. They’re $34.95 each.
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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.
Conventions | San Diego City Council has given final approval to the planned $520 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, viewed as necessary to keeping Comic-Con International in the city past 2015. The project still faces a legal challenge to a financing scheme involving a hotel-room surtax, as well as state regulatory approval, leading the city attorney to caution that the targeted 2017 completion date is just “a goal.” Whether Comic-Con organizers can be convinced to sign another three-year extension to their contract remains a big question. [NBC San Diego]
Conventions | Most of Heidi MacDonald’s article about New York Comic Con is behind a paywall at Publishers Weekly, but she pulls out some stats at The Beat: Ticket sales are up 190 percent over this time last year. As the capacity of the Javits Center is somewhere south of 110,000 people, this means the ReedPOP folks won’t sell any more tickets than last year, but they are selling out faster. Three-day and four-day passes are already gone, only Friday tickets remain, and ReedPOP vice president Lance Fensterman expects everything to be sold out by the time the show begins. [The Beat]
Creators | In the wake of the FunnyJunk/The Oatmeal legal dispute, Ian Pike talks to San Diego-based webcomics creators David King and Phil McAndrew about the problem of having their work re-posted without credit. “If I were to sit there and try to hunt down all the websites that re-post my comics without my name on them,” McAndrew says, “I wouldn’t have any time to draw new stuff. So most of the time I just shrug my shoulders and keep on drawing.” One interesting sidelight is that Matthew Inman, the creator of The Oatmeal, has set up a site called BearFood where users can share their favorite webcomics with the appropriate links. [San Diego Reader]
Digital comics | Matt White surveys the digital-first landscape with a look at the strategies (or the lack thereof) from publishers ranging from DC Comics to Viz Media: “While the majority of digital comics are just digitized versions of print comics, available simultaneously (known as ‘day-and-date’) or after the physical version hits shelves, current digital-first offerings seem to represent an alternative, more specific market as publishers begin to treat digital more as a complement to print rather than a replacement.” [Publishers Weekly]
Following quickly on its Squids news, Ape Entertainment announced this morning that it’s signed a deal with developer Imangi Studios to release a series of graphic novels and digital comics based on the popular video game Temple Run.
Debuting in 2011, the endless action game revolves around explorers who attempt to steal an idol from a temple while being chased by demonic monkeys. According to the publisher, the comics will delve into the backstory of the explorers as well as the mysteries of the ancient temples. No word on the monkeys, though.
“Temple Run is by far one of my favorite adventure games on the App Store,” Ape CEO David Hedgecock said in a statement. “The thrilling gameplay plays into our plans very nicely for an extraordinary storyline that we know fans will enjoy.”
As with the previously announced Squids, the Temple Run comics will be released in print and through a standalone app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
Ape has already met with great success with its adaptations of the games Pocket God — the first issue alone has sold 200,000 copies – and Cut the Rope.
Ape Entertainment, which has already released a massively successful comic based on the successful Pocket God video game, is now setting its sights on Squids, the role-playing game from French developer The Game Bakers. The licensing agreement calls for digital comics and graphic novels.
Debuting in October 2011 for iOS devices, the turn-based combat game features anthropomorphic squids attempting to defeat aquatic enemies encroaching upon their underwater kingdom. A sequel, Squids: Wild West, was released this summer.
“In terms of graphics and storytelling, the SQUIDS games already have a lot in common with comics, so continuing and expanding the adventure in comic books is a natural step,” The Game Bakers COO Audrey Leprince said in a statement.. “Ape Entertainment has a proven track record within the comics industry and we’re excited to partner with them to bring our hungry fans more of the SQUIDS stories they love.”
Ape plans to release the Squid comics in print and through a standalone app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
Launching on iPad, iPhone, Android and Flash — presumably, the latter means Facebook and Google+ — the story-driven game will feature “all the classic and iconic elements of Archie’s world, from Riverdale High to his two love interests, Betty and Veronica — not to mention friends and foes like Reggie, Jughead and more.”
“We’re excited and honored to be partnering with Gogii Games,” Archie Co-CEO Jon Goldwater said in a statement. “They came up with a way to really bring the comics to life and to engage an entirely new and fervent fan base. We can’t wait for this game to go live across all platforms and countries.”
Although the announcement notes that development is already under way, no release date has been made public.
Based in New Brunswick, Canada, Gogii boasts a catalog of more than 30 games, including Princess Isabella, White Haven Mysteries and Escape the Museum.
Publishing | John Jackson Miller takes apart the December sales numbers and finds that while comics were up for the month, graphic novel sales fell just enough to prevent the direct market from having its first up year since 2008. In fact, trades are down 16 percent from December 2010, and Miller spends some time discussing why that might be — and why next year might be different. [The Comichron]
Publishing | Houghton Mifflin has high hopes for Are You My Mother?, the new graphic novel from Fun Home author Alison Bechdel: The publisher plans a first printing of 100,000 copies. [Publishers Weekly]
Retailing | Diamond’s Retailer Summit will be held the two days before the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, with attendees receiving free admission to the April 13-15 convention. [ICv2]
Digital comics were the big story of 2011, and there is no question that comiXology dominated the field. CEO David Steinberger and his crew realized the potential of digital media to transform comics back in 2007, but they didn’t start on the iPhone. What comiXology did first was put comics solicitations online (as opposed to trapping them in a paper catalog, as Previews does) and set up a system for digital pull lists that users could tie in to participating retailers or simply print out and bring to the store.
Now the comiXology brand means much, much more. They were among the first digital comics distributors on the iPhone and then on the iPad, and their digital comics app, simply titled Comics, is one of the top grossing apps in the iTunes store. They also have their own web store as well as an Android app. ComiXology is also behind almost every comics publisher app, including Marvel, DC, Image, IDW (a recent addition), Dynamite and BOOM! Studios, as well as single-property apps such as Scott Pilgrim, The Walking Dead, and Star Trek.
Oh, the cuteness! Ape Entertainment has just released a Strawberry Shortcake app, based on the iVerse platform and featuring three of their new Strawberry Shortcake comics priced at $1.99 each (plus a free preview). The comics are a few months old, but that’s hardly going to matter to the core Strawberry Shortcake demographic; what will matter is that these comics are colorful, competently drawn, and full of lively characters and silly situations.
The big digital-comics news this week was that the publisher IDW, an early iVerse partner, migrated to comiXology for support of its apps. Where iVerse seems to be hanging tough is in the kids’ market—they also run the Pocket God app, and when I spoke to iVerse CEO Michael Murphey a few weeks ago, he said that their biggest selling properties were not adult comics on the iPad but children’s comics on the iPhone/iPod Touch: “Our largest selling products are kids’ products,” he told me. “Kids get the hand-me-down phones and iPod Touches. As they start getting the hand-me-down iPads after Christmas this year, that will evolve.”
In that context, a stand-alone app makes a lot of sense; Strawberry Shortcake is easy to discover in the iTunes store, and you don’t have to download a separate comics reader or create an account to use it. I do think some extras would really send this app over the top, though. A separate Strawberry Shortcake game app already exists, but it would be nice to see some puzzles, coloring pages, even music or videos, to bump up the fun content even more.
Warning: Pretty much every image in the linked article is flagrantly, joyously NSFW. If your eyeballs disintegrate and hair grows on the palms of your hands when you click the link, well, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Underground comics are by their nature transgressive, so it comes as no surprise that the Comix Classics: Underground Comics app produced by Toura, an app platform often used by museums, and Comic Art Productions and Exhibits, ran afoul of Apple’s content guidelines. As Kim Munson, who designed the app, explained to Michael Dooley of Imprint Magazine, the app is not a digital comic but “more of an interactive art exhibit.” It’s based on James Danky and Denis Kitchen’s book Underground Classics: The Transformation of Comics into Comix, and it contains all the comics from the book and the exhibit plus some new graphics.
Oddly, when the app was submitted to Apple, the iPad version was accepted as is (with a string of warnings to potential consumers about sex, nudity, etc.) but the iPhone version was rejected for “excessively objectionable or crude content.” Munson removed 16 images, which apparently shifted the ratio enough to make the Apple folks happy. (For those who like to skip straight to the good stuff, the deleted images are at the link.) Munson noted that “The deletions were plainly based purely on the visual representation, not the context of the pieces.”
Barcelona-based developer Klicrainbow has launched SuperGay & the Attack of His Ex-Girlfriends, an app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch billed as “the first video game about a gay superhero.” I didn’t look into the assertion, but I can’t think of any other gay-superhero video games.
The comic book-inspired storyline follows Tom Palmer, an idealistic young scientist who works at Genetic Corp. with his beautiful fiancée Ilsa Himmler and her father Dr. Arnold Himmler to develop a cloning project for humanitarian purposes. But when he discovers that Ilsa and Arnold have been secretly negotiating with foreign leaders to sell their work for military purposes, Tom searches for an escape. When a failed experiment transforms the young scientist into SuperGay, “the greatest superhero of all modern times,” he uses his newfound abilities — including Gay Power and Rainbow Ray — to try to stop his evil ex-girlfriend and her clone army.
In the game, SuperGay races, fights and … dances … his way through 32 levels to stop an imminent nuclear war. Check out the trailer and additional game art after the break.
Disney Publishing Worldwide this morning launched its free Disney Comics App for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, with more than 50 titles ranging from the classic adventures of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck to newer properties like Cars 2 and Tron: Legacy. Two new comics will be added each week.
Individual stories are 99 cents, with themed bundles available for $3.99 through In-App Purchase. The app debuts in the United States and will be available in more than 80 countries. It will be available in additional markets later this year.
Disney boasts that the app offers “a new, director-style reading experience,” with readers allowed to choose portrait or landscape mode, automatic or manual smart paneling, and double-page spreads. Readers also may preview titles before purchase, share their stories on Facebook and save content for offline reading. There’s also a feature that automatically updates readers when stories relating to their favorite characters become available. Also: sound effects!
“Comics are a tremendous part of our heritage and we see great potential and interest in bringing our extensive catalog of Disney Comics to mobile devices,” Russell Hampton, president of Disney Publishing Worldwide, said in a statement. “We create over 25,000 original comic pages each year and it’s critical that we deliver this content to our readers around the world. We have over 1 billion Disney comic readers today, and our Disney Comics App will further broaden that audience.”
Read the official announcement after the break.
The app includes comics from the Archie line, Secret of Kells, Atomic Robo and more. I haven’t had a chance to download it yet, but according to the release it includes comics from Image, NBM, Antarctic Press, Arcana Comics, Bluewater Comics and Dynamite, among others. Several of comiXology’s partners are missing from the list, including DC, Marvel and BOOM! — all of whom have content that would feel right at home on an app like this.
Upon seeing the name, I was reminded of something BOOM!’s Chip Mosher said at the BOOM! panel this weekend at WonderCon: “We did some marketing research, and we found out that kids don’t really like to pick up something that says ‘kids’ on it.” Still, if this makes it easier for parents to find kid-friendly comic material and keep it in an app that’s separate from their non-kid-friendly material, it will have done its job.
You can find the complete press release after the jump.