Conventions | New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has mothballed plans for a giant convention center in Queens, leaving the unlovely, unloved, but well-situated Javits Center as the home of New York Comic-Con for the near future. [The New York Times, via The Beat]
Publishing | Alex Klein sees the “outing” of Green Lantern Alan Scott as a desperate move to boost sales by a publisher whose market share is dropping: “Switching up sexual orientation is a cunning way of compensating for flagging sales and aging characters. In the meantime, the industry is rebalancing: toward independent publishers, author ownership, and cross-platform digital tie-ins. As small studios sap talent from the giant conglomerates, comics are changing—and there’s a lot of money to be made in the process—just not in the comics themselves.” And he talks to The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and Image publisher Eric Stephenson about what they can do that the Big Two can’t. [The Daily Beast]
Being a judge in the Eisner Awards meant making hard choices. It’s like being an admissions officer at Harvard: You could make a top-notch set of picks, throw them away, and still have a strong field for the second set. With six judges each having a different voice, sometimes a book that one or two of us think is the greatest thing since sliced bread doesn’t make the final cut.
Here’s my short list of comics that, if it were up to me, would have gotten Eisner nominations.
Best Limited Series
One of my favorite series of 2011 was Spontaneous, by Brett Weldele and Joe Harris. It’s a great crypto-mystery about spontaneous human combustion, with a nerdy know-it-all played off against an aggressive reporter. The story has its flaws, but I couldn’t put it down.
Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7)
Nina in That Makes Me Mad: We had an unusually strong field of children’s books, even after we split the category into two age groups, but this book was my first choice for a nomination. The writing is sharp and perceptive, and Hilary Knight’s illustrations are amazing. Even the page layouts are awesome. This is a book that speaks directly to children, in a voice they can understand, yet does it with an elegance that adults can appreciate as well.
Entertainment Weekly shares the news that Dark Horse has two spinoff miniseries planned for later this year, featuring Buffy the Vampire Slayer supporting characters Spike and Willow.
The Spike miniseries, which kick off in August, will be written by X-Men writer Victor Gischler and picks up after the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine #10. “The focus is on Spike and his coming to terms with some things, sort of getting right in the head,” Gischler told EW. “He loves Buffy, but can’t be with her. What does that mean to a vampire with a soul?” He also meets up with some demons trying to collect the shards of the magic “seed” that was destroyed in Season Eight of the comic.
The Willow series, meanwhile, starts in November and is written by Thunderbolts and Hulk writer Jeff Parker. Willow, who took off from the pages of Buffy with the mystical slayer scythe, hunts down Angel in a quest to try and bring magic back to Earth.
You can see the cover art for the first issue of the Spike series over at the EW site.
Update: Kiel Phegley at CBR picks up a few more tidbits on the two miniseries at the Diamond Retailer Summit leading into C2E2; Brian Ching will draw the Willow series with covers by David Mack and Megan Lara. Paul Lee will draw Spike with covers by Jenny Frison and Steve Morris.
Awards | The Guy Davis short story “The Phototaker” has been removed from the 2012 Eisner Awards ballot after it was determined to be ineligible. “The ‘Phototaker’ Eisner nomination was a mix up,” Davis wrote on Twitter. ” Jackie Estrada messaged me after I posted asking about the original English version, which came out in Metal Hurlant #9 (2003). So it’s not eligible for the 2012 Eisner nomination and has been removed. Thanks for all the congratulations yesterday, but I’m happy to clear this up and have it removed from the running.” [Eisner Awards]
Publishing | DC Comics’ Senior Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne and Vice President of Marketing John Cunningham respond to March’s direct-market sales estimates, which saw Marvel claim three of the Top 10 spots after a February shutout. “We are pleased that we gained share, and we never expected that we would hold ten out of ten at the top of the chart for ever,” Wayne said. “I think it is better for the business if everybody is firing on all cylinders, that our competitors are doing interesting things, and we are doing interesting things. It keeps everybody on their toes and it keeps enthusiasm in the readership. The retailers remain involved wanting to make sure that they have enough of everything. I think it’s a good thing all around.” [ICv2.com]
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
It’s a week of familiar faces for me this time around. If I had $15, it’d go on Action Comics #8 (DC, $3.99), which completes Grant Morrison’s first story arc on the title — even though we’ve already had the second one; thanks, fill-ins! — as well as Supreme #63 (Image, $2.99), with Erik Larsen illustrating the final Alan Moore script for Rob Liefeld’s Superman knock-off (I’d love to see a well-done collection of all of these issues one day, now that the Moore run is completed). Also on tap, the final issue of OMAC (#8, DC, $2.99) and the long-awaited return of Busiek, Ross and Herbert’s Kirby: Genesis (#6, Dynamite, $3.99), because a man needs as much well-done Jack Kirby-inspired comics as possible, goshdarnit.
If I had $30, I’d add Hulk #50 (Marvel, $3.99) to once again celebrate what Jeff Parker had managed to do with a book and concept that, by all rights, should’ve disappeared a long time ago. (In all honesty, I much prefer the Red Hulk to the classic version these days, and it’s all Parker’s doing, along with his various artistic compatriots on the title.) Everyone who isn’t reading it: This is a jumping-on point issue! Try it and see if you don’t love it, too. And, despite the unevenness of earlier issues, Matt Fraction’s Casanova: Avarita #3 (Marvel, $4.99) is also a must-read; I really didn’t like the first issue, but loved the second. We’ll see where the book goes next.
Should I be splurging, then this week the splurge is on Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery Deluxe HC (DC/Vertigo, $22.99). One of my favorite comics of all time, I’m likely going to end up getting this over-sized, recolored reprint just because I genuinely can’t resist the optimistic, hopeful tone of the book and its love of superheroes.
The Emerald City Comicon wrapped up yesterday in Seattle, with plenty of announcements from attending publishers. Here’s a round-up of news from the show:
• Image Comics officially announced Revival by Tim Seeley ad Mike Norton, the title we teased all last week. Seeley described the book as “rural noir,” and it is set in his home state of Wisconsin: “Both Mike and I grew up in small towns, he in Tennessee, me in Wisconsin. We both hated the towns we were from as teenagers and young adults and got the hell out,” Seeley told CBR. “But, now that we’re both older, we can look on those towns with more understanding and affection. Central Wisconsin is a really interesting place. It’s like concentrated America. It has all of the strengths and all of the weaknesses. All of the good stuff, and all of the conflicts on a more intimate scale. We thought it’d be the perfect setting for our story of a cop charged with policing the dead.”
• James Stokoe will write and draw Godzilla: Half Century War, which arrives from IDW in August. The miniseries is set in a different continuity than the Godzilla ongoing series by Duane Swierczyski and Simon Gane.
• Writer Christos Gage will team with artist Jorge Lucas for Sunset, an original graphic novel from Top Cow’s Minotaur Press. The story revolves around a retired Vegas mob enforcer.
When a book doesn’t have any humor in it, it doesn’t ring true to me. It’s a reason I read little sci-fi for a long while, because it seemed in an effort to be taken seriously, authors eschewed humor. Or maybe most simply weren’t funny, it’s hard to say. It’s something that has plagued comic books in recent decades too. I think it’s been improving though.
-Jeff Parker, agreeing with Roald Dahl’s assessment (via Matilda) that not having any funny bits in your book is a failing. Fortunately, we have folks like Parker (and Brian Clevinger and Paul Tobin and several others) who are working hard to put the funny back into funny books.
Who’s your favorite “funny comics” writer?
• Marvel announced that Wolverine & the X-Men: Alpha & Omega, The Massive and Conan the Barbarian writer Brian Wood will take over writing both X-Men and Ultimate X-Men. About the latter, he told CBR, “I can bring something to the table here, a certain POV that I think will work really well. At its core it’s still the same mutant/human conflict, but the stakes are incredibly high and with the Ultimate line having more leeway than 616, you can really push it to the edge, and over the edge. With my stories, I’m looking forward to having them push back against this repression in a major way — not just in one-on-one cases but as a collective whole, a unified mutant push for freedom, for safety, for basic human rights. For the right to be a mutant and live free. What’s happening to them now is essentially a genocide, an ethnic cleansing.”
• Marvel also announced a new Dark Avengers series by Jeff Parker, Kev Walker and Declan Shalvey that replaces Thunderbolts. The book will feature Dark Scarlet Witch, Dark Spider-Man, Trickshot, Ragnarok and Skaar, along with Luke Cage.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at what the Robot 6 crew has been reading lately. Today our special guest is Jamaica Dyer, creator of Weird Fishes and Fox Head Stew, which can be read over at MTV Geek. She also recently did a concert report in comic form from San Francisco’s Noisepop for Spin Magazine.
To see what Jamaica and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
With the passage of time, pundits/critics frequently reflect upon past era creators (be it Golden, Silver or Bronze Age), quite often finding a newfound appreciation for certain folks. Sometimes I wonder why we have to wait for a creator to be no longer active in order to garner increased respect. For example, artist/inker/writer Karl Kesel is a creator, who while he has definitely received critical praise over his long career (dating back to 1984), I think his body of work warrants even more attention and praise. I was thrilled when I found out that Kesel relaunched Section Zero (his Gorilla Comics 2000 project with artist Tom Grummett that ended after three issues) as a webcomic at Mad Genius Comics. The news got even better with the revelation that Kesel and Grummett intend to develop new Section Zero content. I am a longtime fan of Kesel’s work–particularly his mid-1990s run on Daredevil #353-364 and Fantastic Four #56 (the latter of which we also discuss). My thanks to Kesel’s Periscope Studio studiomate, Jeff Parker, for putting me in contact with Kesel.
Tim O’Shea: How and when did you finally decide to resurrect Section Zero–and as a webcomic?
Karl Kesel: I’ve wanted to do a web comic for some time. The tipping point was when my wife and I decided to adopt a baby (we’re still waiting to get one!) and I knew I wanted some sort of legacy to leave my kid. I put together Mad Genius Comics, and hired the talented David Hahn to pencil a Johnny Zombie story. As that was posting, I thought: what next? I had a ton of ideas, but the one I kept coming back to was Section Zero. Tom Grummett and I had started it in 2000 through Gorilla/Image comics, and due to my getting divorced, it had been put on indefinite hold. It was Unfinished Business, and I thought the time was right to finish it.
It was right about the time that Merlin stepped up to speak in the most recent issue of Thunderbolts that I had to check the cover and make sure I had picked up the right book. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Thunderbolts and have really seen them bloom into something rather special in the Marvel Universe, but there was this strange feeling in the back of my mind this issue. Something about how all the Thunderbolts had new Ren Faire costumes to fit into the Camelot scheme that were similar to their usual togs. Something about the casual guest star factor with the court of King Arthur (especially the Black Knight, I miss that guy!). Something about how all the characters worked together or didn’t, depending on the situation and the greater needs at hand.
But really, while listening to Merlin I suddenly realized that I had seen a story like this before. Not the exact same story, but going to Camelot, overcoming adversity, the comparisons between the heroes and the knights of old, even the stylish dress up factor made me want to go find old issues of “The Morgan Conquest,” the post-Heroes Reborn issues of the Avengers from Kurt Busiek and George Perez. It’s not too surprising that the T-Bolts would remind me of a by-gone era of Avengers lore. In fact, taking a closer look, there’s a lot to be said for this rag-tag team of super villains being taught redemption and their exploits in battling evil.
Could it possibly be that the oldest trick in the Thunderbolts book was becoming a reality?
Retailing | Rumors have begun to swirl that online retail giant Amazon plans to open a brick-and-mortar store in Seattle within the next few months to help gauge the profitability of a chain. The store reportedly won’t just sell e-readers and tablets, but also books from Amazon’s newly launched publishing division. [Good E-Reader, Gawker]
Publishing | Japanese publisher Shueisha Inc. released the 65th volume of Eiichiro Oda’s pirate manga One Piece last week with a first printing of 4 million copies, tying the record set in November by the previous volume. [The Mainichi Daily News]
Retailing | Howard Ackler writes about the final days of Dragon Lady Comics, the Toronto retailer that closed last week after 33 years in business. [National Post]
Sales | Sales of comic books and graphic novels to comic books stores through Diamond Comic Distributors increased 27.5 percent in January compared to the same month in 2011. Comics were up 32 percent while graphic novels were up 18 percent compared to 2011. DC Comics dominated all 10 spots at the top of the chart, with Justice League #5 coming in at No. 1. Batman: Through the Looking Glass was the top graphic novel for the month. [ICv2]
Passings | British comics artist Mike White, who illustrated Alan Moore’s The Twisted Man and numerous other stories for 2000AD, Lion, Valiant, Action and Score ‘n’ Roar, has passed away after a long illness. [Blimey!]
Publishing | Because the world demanded it, apparently, Random House plans to publish e-books of all the collected editions of Garfield newspaper comics. [Down the Tubes]
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week’s special guest is Simon Monk, an artist whose “Secret Identity” paintings we featured here on Robot 6 not too long ago. Monk is actually selling limited edition prints of his paintings on his website now, so go check them out.
To see what Simon and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Crime | An energetic thief stole all 64 volumes of One Piece from a Japanese bookstore by stuffing 10 volumes at a time in his duffel bag. As One Piece is the most popular manga in Japan, he could have gotten a good price for his booty at a used manga store, had the forces of law not intervened. [Kotaku]
Creators | Kiss member Gene Simmons still remembers the postcard he got from Stan Lee as a kid. [Noisecreep]