Although Image Comics has staked out territory as both the premier publisher for creator-owned work and a proving ground for fledgling writers and artists, it was another 1990s company that served as an entry point for many of today’s top talent: Caliber Comics.
Launched in 1989 by retailer Gary Reed, Caliber Comics was a harbinger of the coming wave of creator-owned titles. Launching with two flagship books — Deadworld and The Realm — Reed quickly expanded the line with his in-house anthology book Caliber Presents and a entire sub-line of illustrated books similar to Classics Illustrated. But perhaps its enduring contribution was as a doorway into the comics industry for writers and artists who are today marquee names
The list of A-list creators whose comics debuts were made possibly by Caliber is mind-boggling: Brian Michael Bendis, Stuart Immonen, Michael Lark, James O’Barr, Brandon Peterson, Dean Haspiel, Georges Jeanty and Jason Lutes all made their comics debuts here. In addition, Caliber also was where many budding creators made their first recognizable work; it was at there that Mike Allred created Madman, and Guy Davis blossomed with Baker Street.
Horror site Shock Till You Drop has revealed the Comic-Con International teaser poster for Relativity Media’s long-brewing reboot of The Crow, illustrated by the comic’s creator James O’Barr.
Although project has had a bumpy road, losing its director, writer and star, it appears back on track with confirmation earlier this month that director F. Javier Gutierrez and actor Luke Evans are locked in, with O’Barr serving as creative consultant.
“It’s one of those books,” the artist tells the website. “The book’s been in print since ’89, so it’s getting close to 30 years. I thought all of my fans will grow old with me and that will be the end of it. But no, it gets passed down generation to generation. It’s still, to this day, fully 60 percent of my core audience is 16-year-old goth girls and I’m like, ‘You weren’t even born when it came out, how do you know about it?’ And they’re boyfriend suggested it to them or their dad introduced it to them. A second generation is affected by it.”
Comics sales | The direct market continued its rise last month, with comics and graphic novel sales up 22.59 percent compared to March 2012, according to Diamond Comic Distributors. Marvel routed DC Comic in this month’s sales, claiming 40 percent of the market to DC’s 27 percent. [ICv2]
Conventions | The fire marshal had to turn away hundreds of people Sunday from the DoubleTree Hotel in Tampa, Florida, where the two-day Tampa Bay Comic Con was being held. An estimated crowd of 4,000 were crammed into the lobby and the ballroom (which is designed to hold a maximum of 1,200 people), with many hoping to see The Walking Dead star Lauren Cohan. Organizers conceded they need a larger venue for the twice-yearly event. [Tampa Bay Times]
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.
Acclaimed artist James O’Barr returns to his most famous creation in December with The Crow: Skinning the Wolves, a three-issue miniseries from IDW Publishing.
Debuting in 1989, The Crow centered on a young musician who’s killed while trying save his fiancee from street thugs, only to be resurrected by supernatural forces. He seeks vengeance against his murderers, methodically stalking the thugs and killing them. The hit comic inspired a critically and commercially successful 1994 film, which spawned three movie sequels and a short-lived television series.
It’s 2012, I’m 35 years old and I’m reading two new comic book series, both based on decades-old intellectual properties for which I had a great interest in, and rather intense feelings about, at different points in my childhood. This is in no way unusual: Every line of toys, every cartoon series or TV show, every movie I was into at some point in my childhood now exists as a comic book and, in most cases, rebooted toys, cartoons, TV shows and movies. For children of the 1970s and 1980s, our entertainment franchises have grown up with us.
What’s slightly unusual about Battle Beasts and The Crow is how relatively obscure they are, compared to the Godzillas, Star Wars and G.I. Joes.
It’s 1987, I’m 10 years old and I don’t know it yet, but I’m reaching the end of the period in my life in which I can play with toys, in which I can easily slip into a time-stopped world of pure imagination and see characters appear and dramas unfold based on nothing more than some small piece of plastic, molded into He-Man or Boba Fett.
A friend comes over to play with me, and we divide our mixed lines of action figures — Transformers, Ghostbusters, Masters of the Universe, etc. — into teams that will build bases and battle one another. He has something new with him called “Battle Beasts.”
Distributors | Johanna Draper Carlson catches a couple of tweets from publishers indicating that independent-comics distributor Haven, formed in 2008 from the assets of Cold Cut Distribution, is shutting down at the end of the month. Calls for confirmation this morning to Haven’s Skokie, Illinois, offices went to voicemail. The company’s closing would leave Diamond without any significant competition for independent comics distribution — print comics, at least. As Johanna notes, the industry giant still has a rival in another quarter: digital distributor comiXology. [Comics Worth Reading]
Legal | The defense rested in the Michael George trial Tuesday after the comics retailer, who is accused in the 1990 murder of his first wife, chose not to take the stand. His lawyers argued that if he were to do so, his testimony would become the sole focus of the trial. George’s current wife Renee, who was kept out of the courtroom for most of the trial in case she was called as a witness, also did not testify. Closing arguments are scheduled for Thursday, and then the case will be sent to the jury. [Detroit Free Press]
According to the press release, IDW will produce several comics series in the universe of The Crow comics and based on the upcoming feature film. “I’m glad to see The Crow land at IDW,” said Ted Adams, the company’s co-founder and chief executive officer. “I edited the last Crow series when I ran Todd McFarlane’s comics in the late ‘90’s, and we’re looking forward to bringing this classic character back to the medium in 2012 at IDW.”
Published by Caliber Press in the late 1980s, the comic has appeared from many different publishers over the years, including Kitchen Sink Press, London Night Studios, Random House and Image Comics. It was adapted into film in 1994, spawning three sequels and a television series. The story revolves around Eric Draven and his girlfriend, who are attacked by a group of thugs when their car breaks down. After both are beaten and killed, Draven is resurrected and seeks revenge.