"Tomb Raider" Finds Its Lara Croft in "Ex Machina's" Alicia Vikander
Video Games, Film
Conventions | After bringing in a profit of almost $1 million in 2014, Wizard World took a hard swing in the other direction last year with a loss of $4.3 million, with about half the shortfall coming in the fourth quarter. At least part of the reason seems to be simple math: Per-show revenues were down, costs were up. In addition, Wizard’s share in ConTV was a money-loser, to the tune of $1.3 million; Wizard has reduced its stake in the joint venture with Cinedigm. On the upside, its subscription box service has done well, netting $48,000. It’s possible that the North American convention market is being saturated, and Wizard is responding by cutting back from 25 shows in 2015 to 19 this year. [ICv2]
Comics | Writer Kurtis Wiebe announced that, “after long consideration,” he’s placing his acclaimed Image Comics fantasy series Rat Queens on hiatus. [Twitter]
If all McDonald’s were like the one depicted in this anime commercial, there would be a line out the door to submit applications.
Of course, that’s the entire point of the commercial for McDonald’s Japan, which doubles as a lovely and heartwarming anime short and a lovely and heartwarming recruiting video.
Manga | As part of its Cool Japan initiative, the Japanese government plans to build the “Manga National Center” — a museum dedicated to manga, anime and video games — in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Expected to cost about $90 million, the project will be funded through a mixture of public and private-sector money. [Chicago Tribune]
Passings | Augie Scotto, an artist whose work appeared in Will Eisner’s PS magazine, passed away March 15 at age 88. He began his career in 1949, drawing largely crime and Western stories for such early publishers as Eastern Color, Atlas and Charlton. Scotto seems to have left comics for a while around 1953, but returned in 1968 as the penciler for Tower Comics’ Dynamo and as an inker for DC Comics until around 1978. [Timely-Atlas-Comics]
Manga | ICv2 wraps up a week of intensive manga coverage with a look at the overall market, and it’s looking pretty good: Manga sales were up 13 percent in the first eight months of 2015, and they have been increasing for three years straight. What’s more, it’s a broad-based increase, with healthy sales in all channels — comic shops, bookstores, the mass market (i.e. Walmart) and libraries. ICv2’s Milton Griepp attributes the growth to several factors, including the popularity of streaming anime (which gives related manga properties a strong boost), the emergence of several blockbuster properties (Attack on Titan, One-Punch Man and Tokyo Ghoul), and increasing acceptance of geek culture in general, and anime/manga fandom in particular. [ICv2]
Legal | It looks as if the end is in sight in the trademark dispute between Comic-Con International and Salt Lake Comic Con over the use of the term “comic con.” The organizers of Comic-Con International in San Diego claim legal ownership of the term “Comic Con” and sued the producers of the Salt Lake City even in 2014 for trademark infringement. Although settlement talks have broken down before, attorneys for both sides say they’ve resolved many of their disagreements, and have asked a federal judge to give them until March 1 to work out the finer points of a deal. [The Associated Press]
Creators | Writing for New York Magazine’s Vulture blog, Abraham Reisman takes a warts-and-all look at the career and legacy of Stan Lee in a lengthy article article alternately titled “It’s Stan Lee’s Universe” and “Why is Stan Lee’s Legacy in Question?” Peppered with quotes from the likes of Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, Mark Evanier, Colleen Doran, Paul Levitz and Mark Waid, it’s a deep dive into Lee’s history, touching upon everything from his disputes with one-time collaborators Jack Kirby and Steve Dikto to his more recent output to the state of his company POW! Entertainment, which by most indications is struggling. [Vulture]
Awards | The winners of the Cybils book blogger awards, which honor children’s and young-adult books, were announced on Saturday. Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl won the graphic novel prize in the elementary/middle school category, while Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona was the winner of the young adult award. [Cybils]
The anime series Dragon Ball Super takes center stage Friday with this gigantic snow sculpture at the 67th Sapporo Snow Festival in Sapporo, Japan.
Drawing more than 2 million visitors each year, the event sees the city transformed into a winter wonderland with hundreds of snow statues and ice sculptures created at three sites.
Awards | Jeremiah creator Hermann has been selected as the winner of the Angouleme International Comics Festival Grand Prix. The Belgian artist, who was a finalist last year, will serve as president of the 2017 festival. The prestigious award was mired in controversy this year when the longlist of nominees featured the names of 30 male creators but no women. Hermann is well known in the French-language comics world; some of his work has been published in English by Dark Horse. [Le Monde, YouTube]
Comics | The comics industry has undergone seismic changes in the past few years, and Heidi MacDonald rounds up some recent comments from retailers and pundits about what they’re seeing. It’s a good read that leads to many other good reads, but here’s the takeaway: “ The real issue — one that many people in the industry may have trouble dealing with — is that the comics audience has changed. They didn’t get into comics during the first run of the Ultimate universe. They didn’t come in with the original 52 mini series or Final Crisis. They probably didn’t even start with the New 52. The methods and product mixes that were formulated to deal with a readership that grew up when comics were a niche product for nerds have to be reevaluated when new readers are coming in from the top properties in every form of entertainment, from graphic novels that they were taught in school, from webcomics, from creators with strong social media, from every which way. There is no well marked four lane highway to comics any more, just a delightful variety of roads, interstates and worn down dirt paths.” [The Beat]
Legal | Matthew Pocci Jr., the driver who injured a woman last year during the annual San Diego ZombieWalk held in conjunction with Comic-Con International, has been sentenced to 60 days of house arrest, with electronic monitoring, and three years’ probation. His license has also been suspended for a year. Pocci had stopped to let the ZombieWalk procession go by, but then drove through onlookers, hitting several people and injuring one. He was convicted last month of felony reckless driving resulting in great bodily injury. At the sentencing hearing Pocci, who is deaf, apologized to the victim in sign language. [San Diego Union-Tribune]
Legal | Japanese police have arrested three men on copyright violation charges, alleging they scanned and uploaded a chapter of One Piece from Weekly Shonen Jump to mangapanda, an English-language scanlation site. Police also arrested an employee of a delivery company who allegedly got his hands on a copy of the magazine at some point on its way from the printer to the newsstands and handed it over to the scanners. All four men are denying any wrongdoing. The Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, which first reported the news, said this is the first time action has been taken regarding a foreign-language website. [Anime News Network]
Best of the year | Amazon lists its Top 20 graphic novels of 2015 in order of sales, but the editors chose The Sandman: Overture Deluxe Edition by Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams III as the best graphic novel of the year. Other notable titles include Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine DeLandro’s Bitch Planet, Scott Snyder and Jock’s Wytches, Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona, and Kate Beaton’s Step Aside, Pops. Amazon also included Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl, and Marika McCoola and Emily Carroll’s Baba Yaga’s Assistant in its lists of the best children’s books of the year. [Amazon]
Comics | Wayne Bell says his new comic book ISIS: A Culture of Evil, is a valuable tool to tell stories of atrocities the media won’t cover: “It’s factual, it’s accurate, it’s the real deal, and unlike a TV program it absolutely goes to the bone quick.” Some veterans who were shown the book weren’t so sure, though, especially as it looks like a coloring book; they felt the medium wasn’t appropriate for the message. [CBS St. Louis]
Conventions | A number of cosplayers at London’s MCM Comic Con reportedly had to hand over their fake guns due to the United Kingdom’s strict laws, which ban private ownership of both real handguns and realistic fakes. Anyone toting a BB gun or a black plastic pistol without a bright red or orange cap on the end had to turn it over at the door, although many owners got them back. Other types of weapons are banned as well, although replicas are allowed, and attendees could buy real swords and knives at the show and have them delivered to their homes. [NBC News]
Publishing | Filip Sablik, BOOM! Studios’ president of publishing and marketing, describes the company’s announced cutback in the number of titles as a contrarian move: “All of the major mainstream comic publishers are pushing out more titles. Since February’s ComicsPro meeting, it’s something we’ve consistently heard from the front lines of the industry. So we decided to swim upstream a bit by trimming back our line and really focus, doubling down on our marketing and our positioning for each title, believing that a sniper-like approach would yield better profitability.” [ICv2]