DiDio & Lee Say Early "Rebirth" Response is 'Uncharted Territory' for DC Comics
It has been quite an odyssey, so to speak, for Rob Berry, Mike Barsanti, Josh Levitas and Chad Rutkowski, the partners in Throwaway Horse and the creators, in one sense or another, of the webcomic Ulysses “Seen.” Berry and Levitas started out doing a fairly straightfoward adaptation of James Joyce’s Ulysses, with extensive notes and translations by Mike Barsanti just a click away from each page. Then the iTunes store picked up their comic for the iPad, but Apple asked them to censor some of the content (ironic, in light of the novel’s history) and then reversed itself after the issue drew public attention. And now the creators are closing the circle by bringing the comic into print: They have signed a deal with independent publisher Atlas & Co. to bring out a print edition of Ulysses “Seen,” which will hopefully be on bookstores shelves by BloomsDay (June 16) 2011.
I talked to Berry, Atlas and Rutkowski about the new project and the challenges involved in bringing an interactive webcomic into print.
• Apple is getting in on the Comic-Con pre-show hype by highlighting all their comic book applications within iTunes. In their “App Spotlight” newsletter, they wrote: “We’re dusting off our Klingon costumes — it’s time for Comic-Con. From Marvel Comics favorites to more recent releases such as Twilight: The Graphic Novel, you can now enjoy comics and graphic novels from past and present right on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.”
• The Comic-Con International site this year introduced a scheduling feature that allows you to pick and choose the panels, films, etc. you’d like to attend, and then export them to your mobile device of choice. In addition, it also shows you how many people have indicated which panels they plan to attend, which is a fun way to see how popular certain panels are.
My wife used it over the weekend; it took her about half an hour to set up, browse the extensive schedule, make her selections and subscribe to it so she gets updates directly on her iPhone calendar (the bulk of that time was going through the schedule and deciding what she wanted to attend). At the time, it looked the Glee and Joss Whedon panels were the most popular.
A free trailer has debuted on Apple’s iTunes store for the motion-comic adaptation of Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight. The first episode apparently will be available later today; a “season pass” costs $14.99.
The motion comic will cover the first 19 issues of Season Eight, a canonical continuation of Joss Whedon’s cult-hit television series. The comic, which debuted from Dark Horse in 2007, has featured work by Whedon, Georges Jeanty, Brian K. Vaughan, Drew Goddard, Jane Espenson, Brad Meltzer, Jeph Loeb and others.
You can read the iTunes Store description for Season Eight after the break:
Marvel’s Black Panther: Who Is the Black Panther? motion comic has mysteriously disappeared from iTunes, the PlayStation Network and other outlets after just three episodes. It’s also been removed from the motion comics section of the publisher’s website, which now only features listings for Iron Man: Extremis, Astonishing X-Men: Gifted and Spider-Woman.
Marvel declined comment. However, there’s speculation the company may not have had the rights to digitally distribute the 12-episode Who Is the Black Panther?, which was produced in partnership with BET Networks.
Announced in April 2008 as an animated adaptation of the story arc by Reginald Hudlin and John Romita Jr., Who Is the Black Panther? was set to debut on BET in early 2009. Despite boasting an all-star cast that includes Djimon Hounsou, Jill Scott, Kerry Washington, Alfre Woodard and Stan Lee, the series never aired on BET. It had its world premiere in January 2010 on Australia’s ABC 3.
The project had seemingly fallen off the map until last month, when Marvel announced the release of Who Is the Black Panther? as a motion comic under its Marvel Knights Animation banner. The series was heavily promoted online and with ads in Marvel comics.
The first episode debuted on June 23 on iTunes, Xbox LIVE, Microsoft Zune and the PlayStation Network, with new installments promised weekly. However, the fourth episode, which should’ve been released last Wednesday, never materialized.
Technology | Apple said it is adding new security measures to its iTunes store after a developer reportedly hacked into numerous customer accounts to boost the ranking of his comic apps, which briefly dominated the book category. The company claims the weekend incident was an isolated — about 400 of its 150 million iTunes users were affected — but customers tell The Wall Street Journal that hackers have hijacked accounts before, with Apple doing little to stop them. [The Wall Street Journal]
Conventions | Heidi MacDonald looks at the tug of war between San Diego, Los Angeles and Anaheim for Comic-Con International, and the tough decision facing event organizers. “This has been by far the most challenging thing we’ve ever done,” said David Glanzer, the convention’s director of marketing and public relations. “Nobody thought we wouldn’t have a decision by June.” The board hopes to make a decision before this year’s event kicks off in two weeks. “If we don’t [make an announcement],” Glanzer said, “a lot of the focus is going to be on that.” [Publishers Weekly]
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.