Crime | Florida authorities are trying to determine whether human remains discovered Wednesday in Pasco County are those of Stephen Perry, the 56-year-old ThunderCats writer who’s been missing for more than three weeks and presumed murdered. Zephyrhills police are still awaiting the results of DNA testing on the severed arm found in a trash bin on May 16 near Perry’s abandoned van.
Tampa Tribune reporter Howard Altman, who’s been covering the Perry case from the beginning, notes police revealed the latest discovery on the same day that Warner Bros. Animation announced it is producing a new version of ThunderCats. [The Tampa Tribune]
Digital comics | Michael Cavna reports that Apple CEO Steve Jobs essentially accused cartoonist Mark Fiore of lying about the rejection of his iPhone app, telling attendees at a tech conference the Pulitzer Prize winner “never resubmitted” NewsToons after the company’s initial brush-off. “We’re doing the best we can, we’re fixing mistakes,” Jobs is quoted as saying. “But what happens is — people lie. And then they run to the press and tell people about this oppression, and they get their 15 minutes of fame. We don’t run to the press and say ‘this guy is a son of a bitch liar!’ — we don’t do that.”
Fiore seems baffled, telling Cavna: “My NewsToons app was, in fact, rejected. … The reason I never resubmitted the app was because I wasn’t about to make the changes Apple sought and remove any ‘content that ridicules public figures.’ Ridiculing public figures is what I do and is an essential part of journalism.” Tom Spurgeon offers some commentary, pointing out how strange Jobs’ accusations are. [Comic Riffs]
Legal | The Democratic Party of Japan, which holds 54 of the 127 seats in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, and several smaller groups are threatening on June 14 to vote down a bill to tighten restrictions on the sexual depictions of minors in comics, animation and video games. Gov. Shintaro Ishihara said Tokyo could come up with a new bill if the current one is defeated. [The Japan Times]
Alex Ross has released a free iPhone app that allows fans to browse the artist’s galleries, view video interviews, receive updates on his personal appearances and more. In short, it’s Ross’ website for iPhone owners on the go.
Manga | Following up on Wednesday’s announcement that Yen Press will move its Yen Plus manga magazine online after the July issue, Gia Manry gets a few more details from Publishing Director Kurt Hassler — among them, that the web version will utilize a dedicated browser designed to emulate the print edition.
Digital publishing | In its White Paper presented last week at C2E2, ICv2 estimates that digital comics sales in North America last year totaled between $500,000 and $1 million. Naturally, it’s expected that sales in 2010 will “expand dramatically.”
iTunes | After Apple CEO Steve Jobs weighed in on the issue, the company has approved for its App store the NewsToon app from Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mark Fiore. Apple had rejected the app in December, stating that Fiore’s Flash-animated political satire, “contains content that ridicules public figures,” a violation of its iPhone Developer Program License Agreement.
Digital comics | At Extreme Tech, Jim Lynch provides a lengthy overview of comics on Apple’s iPad: “Marvel and the other publishers have taken some important first steps, but they still have a way to go. The iPad has solved the problem of storage and readability, but now publishers must provide the app features, subscriptions, and digital delivery that will fully take advantage of the iPad and make reading comics on it as easy and as much fun as reading them in traditional book form.”
Copyright | A response to a brief post about the Manga Rock 1.0 app is a contender for quote of the day: “This is awful. You’re PAYING to use OneManga, which illegally hosts copyrighted materials! This is such crap.”
Dark Horse released the first issue of their four-issue Mass Effect: Redemption comic book on iTunes today. The story occurs between the first Mass Effect game and the second one, which came out last month.
And if you download it today, it’s absolutely free. So if you’re interested in checking it out, act quickly — this link will take you directly to iTunes.
I myself have not played Mass Effect, as I don’t have an Xbox 360, but I have been very addicted to another BioWare-created game, Dragon Age, on the Playstation 3. If it’s half as much fun shooting up aliens in Mass Effect as it is fighting Darkspawn in DA, then it’s probably worth checking out as well.
Tablets | Jim Shelley talks to various digital comics folks, including Rantz Hoseley from LongBox Digital, Micah Baldwin from Graphic.ly and David Steinberger from comiXology, about the rumored Apple tablet. Check out part one, part two and part three.
Speaking of which, HarperCollins is talking to Apple about the tablet, according to the Wall Street Journal, and I thought this article on how Apple does controlled leaks was kind of interesting, in light of all the attention a device that doesn’t officially exist yet is getting.
Twitter | Congratulations to everyone behind the Twitter feed Fake AP Stylebook, who have landed a book deal with Three Rivers Press. Their line-up includes several former and current comics bloggers, including former Robot 6 contributor Lisa Fortuner, former Meanwhile… columnist Shane Bailey, retailer/blogger Mike Sterling, CBR reviewer/artist Benjamin Birdie and many more.
With the Halloween-themed fun we’re having this week at Robot 666 (aka Robot 6)–it seemed like the perfect time to talk to Todd Dezago about the recently released Perhapanauts Halloween Spooktacular One-Shot (featuring stories drawn by the likes of Craig Rousseau, Rich Woodall and Fred Hembeck). Normally in an interview with Dezago, I would characterize him as one of the nicest folks in comics. But in the spirit of the Halloween season, I instead choose to characterize him as the most paranormal-fascinated person in comics. In addition to the one shot (with three stories in it)–we discuss other spooky topics like volleyball and iTunes. You are warned!
Tim O’Shea: Is it apt to say that Halloween is about your favorite time of the year, given your affinity for the paranormal?
Todd Dezago: Oh, Halloween definitely holds a special place in my heart, both for memories of Halloweens past and for the spooky, scary, creepy haunted element!
And I love that we were able to put together this fun and, hopefully, frightening anthology featuring very different artists on very different stories!
Apple told iPhone application developers yesterday that they can now sell content through free iPhone applications. Previously any application that offered stuff for sale, such as the comics applications developed by companies like iVerse and comiXology, couldn’t be offered for free in iTunes, per Apple’s policy.
“Apple makes us charge $0.99 for our app,” comiXology CEO David Steinberger told me last week. “We’d give it away if we could, but it’s against their rules to give away an app that then ‘up-sells’ users to buying content within the app. That presents us with the challenge of getting people to purchase the app.”
With this change, both comiXology and iVerse began offering their applications for free.
“This afternoon Apple dropped a bombshell on developers – Applications with In-App-Purchase can now be FREE,” iVerse wrote on their blog yesterday. “This is a phenomenal move on Apple’s part that allows us to finally offer our digital comics store with no entry price. Sure, we’ve been able to offer over 35 free comics (which we will still continue to offer), but to no longer HAVE to charge $0.99 for the App allows us to open the experience up to anyone who wants to give it a try.”
Internet radio | SLG Publishing is testing out an internet radio call-in show, where fans can call in and ask Dan Vado questions about their titles or the comic industry in general. If you’ve ever attended one of SLG’s panels, you know Dan has a lot to say, so this should be worth checking out.
Tablets | Although the Apple tablet I mentioned a few days ago hasn’t even been officially announced yet, this Ad Age story says traditional publishers are already talking about ways to bypass iTunes and offer “an industry-wide digital storefront where tablet users could buy digital issues or subscriptions without going through iTunes or the App Store.”
Tablets | Speaking of tablets (and SLG, for that matter), SLG chief Jennifer de Guzman talks about digital comics in her latest column for Publisher’s Weekly, noting the difficulties that come with trying to make comics for Amazon’s Kindle.
“To be acceptable to Amazon’s Kindle store, a comic needs to be ‘reflowed,’ which means breaking each page into individual panels and saving each as a separate file,” she writes. “This is a process that could take hours for every graphic novel—and that means additional costs for a publisher.”
Digital Comics | If you missed part one of the Brian Michael Bendis interview I linked to earlier because you were too busy checking out what he had to say about Avengers, he talks with Blair Butler about the Spider Woman Motion Comic and the future of digital comics.
It may never replace print, but the iPod Touch is starting to emerge as a pretty good platform for comics, at least in the short term. It has several advantages over the Kindle—it has color, the graphics are nice and sharp, and a lot of people have iPods anyway for other reasons. For readers who value portability, it’s a handy alternative to carrying around a stack of books, and even purchased chapter by chapter, comics are generally cheaper in the iTunes store than in print form. A handful, such as Yoshitoshi ABe’s Pochiyama, are only available that way.
At the moment, most of the comics available for the iPod are print comics that have been adapted to the new format, which has its advantages and disadvantages. Overall, it’s a different type of reading experience, and with the right comic and good formatting, it can be as good as or even better than reading the print version.
Webcomics | Starting this Sunday, the webcomics collective ACT-I-VATE will run The Iraq War Stories Anthology, edited by Nick Bertozzi. Per the press release, Bertozzi asked the students in his Comic Book Storytelling Workshop at The School of Visual Arts to adapt stories that took place in Iraq during the War.
“The majority of the stories were found on blogs, a few were adapted from stories told to the students by friends, and one student, himself a veteran of the Iraq War, wrote and drew a story based on his own experience,” the release says. One story will appear each Sunday for the next 13 weeks.
e-Devices & Webcomics | Here’s a fun case of sibling rivalry — Peter Timony has released The Complete Sir Roland, previously available on the web, as a comic for Amazon’s Kindle device. Not to be outdone, his twin brother Bobby has released a 24-Hour Comic, The Ballad of Basil the Bunny, for the Kindle.
Webcomics | Daryl Cagle discusses the pluses and minuses of allowing other sites to easily embed political cartoons from his site — something that’s becoming the norm in the world of Web 2.0 and YouTube. [Hat tip: The Comics Reporter]
e-Publishing | Range Murata, the creator of anime like Last Exile and Shangri-La, has released his self-published magazine Throw Line dōjin on iTunes.
e-Devices | Amazon.com this week announced a larger version of their Kindle device, called the Kindle DX. The e-book reader is two-and-a-half times the size of the current Kindle and will retail for almost $500. The New York Times, Washington Post, and Boston Globe, however, will offer “subsidized on-contract Kindles to customers who can’t get at-home delivery when the DX ships this summer.”
So, the natural question for comic fans — is it big enough to show a comics page? Kelson at the Speed Force blog has the same question: “Unless I’ve got my numbers wrong, that makes it larger than the standard manga page, though not quite as big as the standard American comic book page,” he said about the 9.7 inch screen. “And it’s only 1/3 of an inch thick, comparable to a typical trade paperback.” The BBC has more on the specs.
Social media | Ypulse, a teen marketing blog, wonders if teens would follow Twitter feeds for characters from young adult novels. Apparently teens haven’t embraced Twitter (which surprises me … I figured they’d been using it and dropped it when all the old people showed up, kind of like Facebook), and the post wonders if they’d start using it if, say, the sparkling vampires from Twilight had their own feeds.
“Protagonists, antagonists and supporting characters (the latter might be especially intriguing) would continue to gain depth and dimension in the intermittent period between books and meanwhile, readers would feel more connected to the world that the author created,” writes Meredith, who blogs for the site. “Or, as connected to them as they choose to be depending on whether they simply read the tweets or actually respond to them and engage in dialogue.” She also notes that characters from Mad Men showed up on Twitter last year, which everyone assumed was a marketing ploy for the show, but turned out to be more along the lines of fan fiction.
BOOM! Studios recently launched a Twitter feed for one of their fictional characters, the talking teddy bear who thinks he’s James Bond, Mister Stuffins. Is it a marketing ploy, an extension of the story, or maybe both? And would comic fans follow the Twitter feed for, say, Batman, Luke Cage or Scott Pilgrim, if their tweets were written by Grant Morrison, Brian Michael Bendis or Bryan Lee O’Malley, respectively?
e-Publishing | Citing “objectionable content,” Apple has removed “Anda’s Game” from the iTunes store. “Anda’s Game” was one of several stories by novelist and blogger Cory Doctorow that was included in IDW’s Cory Doctorow’s Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now. Robot Comics (no relation) adapted it into an iPhone application.
“The publisher says that they believe this beheaded orc is the objectionable content in question,” Doctorow wrote on BoingBoing. “So much for Apple as a benevolent dictator, well-suited to acting as guardian of what sorts of things you should and should not be allowed to run on your devices.”
If the beheading was the reason for the removal, it’s worth noting that violent movies like 300 and Lord of the Rings (the latter of which features plenty of human-on-orc violence) are still available from iTunes.
Yesterday Wicker Man Studios (WMS) announced the launch of a new website specifically for its flagship title Gun Street Girl “from which WMS is already offering its latest Gun Street Girl story, The Jealous Dead, on the iPhone App Store. According to WMS, “The Jealous Dead will cost 99 cents to download (in the US and Canada–other stores may vary), and can easily be read on the iPhone and the iPod touch with WMS’ own brand-new application, a comics reader which will allow readers using these devices to easily read stories panel-by-panel, simply by touching the screen and dragging the panels from right to left; tapping the screen will show thumbnails of all panels in a story so that one can, for example, easily pick up where one left off during a previous interrupted session.”
Prior to the launch of the new website and WMS’ new comics reader, I caught up with WMS’ Park Cooper for an email interview. Barbara Lien-Cooper and Park are the creators of Gun Street Girl and owners of Wicker Man Studios. Park is also the Editor-in-Chief of indie comics company Septagon Studios, and of the website MangaLife. My thanks to Cooper for his time. Enjoy this special weekend version of Talking Comics with Tim and come back Monday for my regular weekly installment.
Tim O’Shea: How did you arrange the ITunes distribution for GSG?
Park Cooper: We had to submit the application and a story to Apple to get their approval. Actually, there was one panel in the first sample story which bothered them — Liz’s girlfriend Prana was, we shall say, just barely covered up top. Ryan drew an additional garment on top of what she was already wearing, and the resubmission was approved just fine. If it was what Apple needed to feel good about it, then what the heck. The original version is still in the archives, since this was the origin story we’re talking about…