Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Passings | Manga creator Cocoa Fujiwara died March 31 at age 31. Fujiwara’s Inu x Boku SS, a story about humans with yokai blood who live together in a special apartment building, with some serving as bodyguards for others, is being published by Yen Press and has been made into an anime. Her first manga, a short story titled “Calling,” was published when she was just 15, and she chose not to go to high school in order to pursue a career as an artist. Her current series, Katsute Mahō Shōjo to Aku wa Tekitai Shiteita, runs in Square Enix’s Gangan Joker magazine, as did Inu x Boku SS. [Anime News Network]
Following a brusque announcement earlier this week that Image Comic would no longer offer second printings of “known over-performers,” Publisher Eric Stephenson has issued an open letter to retailers admitting to “a rash decision made somewhat in haste and a little bit out of frustration.”
The initial statement, written by Image’s PR and marketing coordinator Jennifer de Guzman, expressed exasperation with store owners under-ordering Saga #7, which marked the return from hiatus of the hit series by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, and stated in no certain terms that neither that issue nor Issue 8 would be reprinted. “We have decided to cease second printings of single issues of titles that are known over-performers in hopes that it will help initial sales find their proper level,” de Guzman wrote. “That’s marketing-speak for ‘You know this sells, so you’d better make sure you order enough!'”
The tone of the newsletter, and the potential impact of the policy, raised eyebrows among store owners and readers alike, and sparked interesting, and spirited online discussion. But just two days later, Image has changed course. “Believe it or not, we listen to you,” Stephenson wrote. The company now will reprint Saga #7, and offer it at “a massive discount” to retailers.
Image Comics has announced it will end second printings of titles “that are known over-performers in hopes that it will help initial sales find their proper level,” cautioning retailers in this week’s newsletter to “believe in the titles that sell and believe in your ability to sell them. There might not be a second chance.”
“This isn’t meant as a punishment or some weird scheme to drive up prices of single issues on eBay,” wrote Jennifer de Guzman, Image’s PR and marketing coordinator. “The weeks of delay in waiting for the second printing cost you sales. Knowing you can count on reprintings has encouraged caution when none is called for, and that hurts you as much as it does us.”
The announcement accompanied news that Saga #7, the acclaimed space opera by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, had sold out at the distributor level, despite overprinting of the issue. “Should we have told you specifically “Order a lot of this one”?” de Guzman wrote. “Well, did we really need to?”
“This is Saga we’re talking about. Issue #7 was its return after a brief hiatus that had fans of the epic by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples as restless as cats in heat and following on the heels of the release of a trade paperback that is moving like wildfire (it’s is still on the New York Times Bestseller list). And its FOC [final order cutoff] came just two weeks after I quite single-mindedly harangued you about order numbers decreasing with each issue of even our most popular titles, using math. (Math, people!)”
Noting that orders for Saga #8 dropped 4 percent from those for Issue 7, de Guzman continued, “It’s not empty boasting to say that Saga is the best new series of 2012 — it’s borne out by review after review, recommendation after recommendation, and when we see sales go down on an issue, we know that there is a problem, and it isn’t with the book itself. ”
Saga #8 arrives next week. Read the full statement below:
The economic downturn over the past few years has hit everyone across the globe to some degree, and despite stories of invincibility and super-powers, comics are no different. That becomes crystal clear when you read a recent blog post by SLG Publishing’s Dan Vado. Meant to bring attention to the Kickstarter campaign to help finance upgrades SLG’s side business as a brick-and-mortar art gallery, he opens up about the realities of publishing and SLG’s own unique state in it.
“The thing we did here that we sort of made our name on, publishing new creators and introducing them to the comic book marketplace, was never easy and now feels almost impossible,” admits Vado. “The sour economy and the rapid disappearance of places where we sell our books (including the Hot Topic chain of stored dropping comics as a category in their stores) took more than a toll on us. New releases which once sold a few thousand copies now only sell a few hundred copies. we have cut our line back pretty dramatically and where we once published 2-3 titles a month will now only be publishing a handful of titles this year.”
As we reported this morning, longtime editor-in-chief Jennifer de Guzman left SLG Publishing Friday after 10 years with the company. It’s now known that she began work today as Image Comics’ new PR and marketing coordinator.
Sarah deLaine, who was promoted to that position a year ago, has been named Image’s event coordinator.
“My decade [at] SLG was, I suspect, like no other decade anyone has spent working anywhere,” de Guzman wrote on her blog. “I had great co-workers and got to work with fantastic creators, all of whom I will miss very much. (Though because this is comics and a community like no other, we will always stay in contact.)
An award-winning writer who contributes graphic novel reviews and articles to Publishers Weekly Comics Week, de Guzman was named Friends of Lulu’s 2006 Woman of Distinction. She and husband Brian Belew also collaborated on a series of comics/columns for Robot 6 in 2009.
Publishing | Jennifer de Guzman announced that, after 10 years, she has left her position as editor-in-chief of SLG Publishing: “My decade SLG was, I suspect, like no other decade anyone has spent working anywhere. I had great co-workers and got to work with fantastic creators, all of whom I will miss very much. (Though because this is comics and a community like no other, we will always stay in contact.)” [Possible Impossibilities]
Retailing | Chris Powell, current general manager and chief relationship officer for Texas-based comic chain Lone Star Comics, has accepted the newly created position of executive director of business development for Diamond Comic Distributors. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund board member will start his new position in March. [ICv2]
It seems like my Google Reader and email box are getting full, so here’s a quick roundup of several new and new-ish announcements and information about upcoming comics and graphic novels.
• Marvel has announced plans to finally release the last few issues of The Twelve, starting in January. “It’s taken a long while, but finally, FINALLY, the balance of The Twelve has been completed and we’re ready to ship it all to our long-suffering fans,” said Tom Brevoort, senior vice president and execuitve editor. “We appreciate everybody’s patience, and both hope and expect that the conclusion will live up to the wait. And for folks who missed out the first time, we’re making it easy to get back on board no matter how much or how little of the previous eight issues you may have already read, though the release of the softcover trade paperback of the first six issues, and a Marvel Must-Have containing #7 and #8. So you’ve got no excuse not to experience one of the best reviewed, best beloved and long-awaited series Marvel has ever produced as it reaches its ultimate climax.”
• Fantagraphics has released their publishing catalog for Spring/Summer 2012, which includes their first two EC Comics collections, Gary Panter’s Dal Tokyo, more manga from Shimura Takako and Moto Hagio, and new volumes of Peanuts, Mickey Mouse, Carl Barks, Captain Easy, among others. The full catalog is available as a PDF.
SLG Publishing‘s booth at SDCC [Booth #1815, right next to DC Comics] is going to be extremely busy this year with a number of SLG creators making appearances. Three first-time graphic novelists, Joe Pimienta, Lindsay Hornsby, and Lauren Affe, will be debuting their book, A Friendly Game, at SDCC–and will be at the SLG booth as well. The book (which SLG gave a 10-page preview here) is described as follows: “Friends play many kinds of games with each other: cops and robbers, checkers, tag. The best of friends will make up their own games. Todd and Kevin’s friendship is built on such a game. However, the rules and premise are far from the typical childhood games. A dispute amongst the two splits them into very different directions: one sees the game for the cruel act that it is, while the other decides it must move to the next level. Imagine No Country for Old Men crossed with Lord of the Flies, or even imagine if Johnny the Homicidal Maniac were once a little kid. There you have a Friendly Game.” Thanks to assistance from SLG’s Dan Vado and Jennifer de Guzman, I was able to email interview all three characters. If you’re at SDCC, be sure to check this book out while you’re there–and even if you’re not, once you read the preview–SLG’s made it quite convenient for you to order the book. It was a pleasure to interview the three creators and I hope this is the first of many times we’ll be seeing their names in years to come.
Tim O’Shea: Did the idea for this story find its start at Savannah College of Art and Design ([SCAD] where all three of you attended)?
Joe Pimienta: Yes. It originally started as an 8-page story I did for scripting class. But part of the assignment was to have drawn pages and character designs, so, I asked Lindsay to do that. Once I finished the assignment, I put it away and didn’t think about it until 6 months later when Lindsay took advanced scripting and asked me if we could develop the story more. I was surprised, since the subject matter was so different from what she normally does. We talked about a bigger story arc, making my short story only the first pages for the final story arc. It wasn’t until senior project, 2 years later, that we actually started drawing pages for it.
Congratulations to SLG Publishing’s Jennifer de Guzman and her husband Brian Belew on the birth of Mateo Bernard de Guzman Belew, who was born on Jan. 15. “Brian and I are in enchanted with him,” Jennifer wrote on her LiveJournal.
San Diego Comic Con starts next Wednesday. NEXT WEDNESDAY. So catch on your sleep before then. But before you tuck yourself in, drop me an email and let me know what you have going on at the con, so I can post it right here.
I’ve got a lot of stuff in my in-box, so expect these updates to become a little more frequent between now and next week.
Free T-shirts | Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth will be giving away 50 T-shirts for Stumptown, their long-awaited series from Oni that was announced, I think, two years ago at the con. They’ll be giving them away at the Oni panel on Thursday.
Autographs | The SDCC has released their official auotgraph area schedule, which includes signings by James Jean, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Adam West, Hope Larson, Thomas Jane, the Honky Tonk Man and many more.
Anime | The con folks have also posted the schedule for anime screenings, which they’ll be showing late into the night.
It’s a day late, but I’m sure my dad wouldn’t have minded. He was very forgiving when it came to his little girl. Yesterday marked the sixth Father’s Day I spent without my dad, and it was as hard as ever. But I take a lot of solace in memories of him, and among them is the important role his influence had on my pop culture education.
My dad and I spent many an afternoon sharing a bowl of Cheez-Its and watching kung fu movies. As always, I was drawn to the glamorous young women in gorgeous costumes — who could hold their own in a rumble with the rival kung fu school! And there will always be something iconic for me about crazy old men in trees and the nefarious sifu who meditated on beds of nails. My dad was a sifu, a kung fu teacher, himself (among my memorbilia of him are two spears and a photograph of him breaking a cinderblock with his fist) but, alas, I never learned much beyond ma from him, to my everlasting regret.
Kung fu fiction is called wuxia in China and includes prose, movies, and comics. I saw a few wuxia graphic novels in Shanghai when I was there three years ago, but I didn’t by them, also to my regret. If anyone knows of good kung fu comics available in the U.S., please recommend them to me here!
Happy (belated) Father’s Day to all the dads out there. Share what you love with your daughters, even if you think they won’t like it because it’s not tea parties and princesses. They love all the attention and time they can get from their dads. I know I did.
Yes, of course I know now that his name is Sven and he’s not Mexican, but when I was seven, I wouldn’t have questioned anything my cousin Greg told me about Voltron. He was the one who introduced me to it in the first place and was my ambassador to shape-changing robots, evil fish-headed Kings and courageous princesses.
Eventually, my older cousin Marisol claimed the role of Princess Allura, Greg came around to the idea that being daredevil Lance was better than being Sven, and I took the role of Princess Romelle, who didn’t pilot a lion but did lead a rebellion against Prince Lotor — plus, she had horses. So it all worked out.
Those old Voltron cartoons are silly and simple to me now (though still hold a lot of nostalgic appeal), but they inspired my cousins and me, in our make-believe games, to re-enact and invent stories involving teamwork and bravery — and a little melodrama. Voltron has since become a comic published by Devil’s Due, but, honestly, I don’t think anything can compare to the Voltron stories my cousins and I made up in our family rooms and backyards.
And my cousin Greg? He’s the one who became the real pilot. He’s a captain in the Air Force and currently serving in Iraq, where he’s helping to train the Iraqi Army. This Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now is dedicated to him.
Welcome to the new “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now,” re-vamped for Robot 6! After the craziness that was the female superhero discussion last month, I started to think about what shapes our tastes as comics readers. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, so I’m going to use the next few months to explore what the pop culture obsessions I’ve had throughout my life have shaped who I am.
I wrote about my love for Wonder Woman as a little girl in my Publishers Weekly column last month, but and while I addressed what her shortcomings are for me now that I’m an adult, I didn’t write about why I idolized her when I was four.
The reasons are not very complicated and, to be honest, fall pretty squarely in “Things That Make My Husband* Say ‘You’re Such a Girl'”:
1. Wonder Woman has dark hair. (Like me!)
2. Wonder Woman is beautiful and glamorous.
3. Wonder Woman wears a sparkly outfit while she runs around fighting bad guys.
There was one point in the otherwise illogical and ill-argued opinion piece that sparked the discussion that I can agree with: That it is not right to devalue what are generally considered to be feminine traits or tastes. And it seems that I had “typical” little girl tastes for glamor and glitter.
But at the time I was watching Wonder Woman re-runs and re-purposing a jump rope as a golden lasso, there was no shortage of dark-haired, glamorous women in sparkly outfits on television. What made Wonder Woman special is that she was a superheroine. Beauty is fleeting — but a woman who inspires fear and awe in bad guys? She’s something that ignites a little girl’s imagination.
*Brian Belew, also my artist.