"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
Graphic novels | With audiences flocking to see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it’s little surprise that the bestselling graphic novel in bookstores in March was Batman vs. Superman: The Greatest Battles, a compilation of previously published stories about the pair’s earlier tiffs. Also not surprising: All five volumes of Tokyo Ghoul are on the chart. That manga series seems to be the new Attack on Titan, with more readers coming in every month. The rest of the chart is a very mixed bag, with two Deadpool titles, a new Plants vs. Zombies graphic novel, and Daniel Clowes’ Patience among the month’s big sellers. [ICv2]
Manga | Kodansha Comics is teasing the “Biggest ‘Attack on Titan’ Manga Announcement Ever” for its Oct. 8 panel at New York Comic Con. Considering the worldwide popularity, and sales, of Hajime Isayama’s post-apocalyptic fantasy, that’s certainly a bold claim. The series has more than 50 million copies in circulation around the world; 2.5 million of those are in the United States. Kodansha also publishes the manga spinoffs Attack on Titan: Before the Fall and Attack on Titan: Junior High. [Anime News Network, Deb Aoki]
Manga | Attack on Titan has changed the manga market, Kodansha Comics’ top brass tell Deb Aoki, showing that manga can still sell in the millions even after the market slumped, and give publishers a new multimedia model, with spinoff manga and light novels, to build on its success. Hiroaki Morita, editor-in-chief of Shonen Magazine when Attack on Titan debuted, also talks about his early impressions and how he knew the manga would be a hit. Alvin Lu of Kodansha Advance Media also discusses plans for the company’s new digital division, which is publishing digital editions of Kodansha Comics’ current manga but will expand to do digital-first books as well. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Todd Allen pulls the camera way back for a broad look at four challenges facing the comics market: the shift from serial comics to graphic novels, editorial changes at DC Comics and Marvel, and the virtual monopolies that comiXology has in the digital sector and Diamond Comic Distributors has in print. How could that play out? “In the best-case scenario, Marvel’s relaunch sticks with the audience, DC restaffs and regains its footing, the Direct Market retailers embrace risk diversification and increase their stock of independent comics, bookstores continue to expand their graphic novel selections. Comics enter a legitimate golden age. In the worst case, Disney and/or Warner Bros. both tinker with their formula of making monthly print comics and Direct Market retailers face a new and uncertain business model.” [Publishers Weekly]
Manga | The widow of Barefoot Gen creator Keiji Nakazawa, has found 16 pages of penciled notes and sketches for a possible sequel to Nakazawa’s semi-autobiographical account of living through the Hiroshima bombing and its aftermath. Before he died in December, Nakazawa donated the first 16 pages of the projected volume to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum; this is the outline for the second set of pages. The new story would have taken Gen to Tokyo to become a manga creator, just as Nakazawa did in real life. [Anime News Network]
Comics | Glen Weldon, who writes about comics for National Public Radio, explains why he, as a gay man, won’t be reading Orson Scott Card’s issues of Adventures of Superman: “DC Comics has handed the keys to the ‘Champion of the Oppressed’ to a guy who has dedicated himself to oppress me, and my partner, and millions of people like us. It represents a fundamental misread of who the character is, and what he means. It is dispiriting. It is wearying. It is also, finally, not for me.” [NPR]
Retailing | ICv2 analyzes the August direct market numbers and comes up with some interesting patterns: While the market as a whole is up, the number of comics with sales of more than 1,000 has been declining; sales dropped a bit for most ongoing comics series in the Top 25, but strong sales of Before Watchmen and two annuals more than compensated for that; and graphic novels sell in far lower numbers than comics, but because many of them are backlist titles, the numbers still increase from year to year. ICv2 also posted lists of last month’s Top 300 comics and graphic novels. [ICv2]
Publishing | Yet another big publisher spawns a graphic novel imprint: This time it’s Penguin, whose Berkley/NAL division will launch a graphic novel imprint, InkLit, next month. Helmed by former DC vice president and Yen Press co-founder Rich Johnson, InkLit will publish both original graphic novels and adaptations of prose works. The line will begin with Vol. 1 of Patricia Briggs’s Alpha and Omega, which collects the trades published by Dynamite; the second volume will be all new material. Also in the works are books by Charlaine Harris, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Sage Stossel. [Publishers Weekly]
A generation ago, becoming a comic book creator was usually a solitary and self-guided process. Sure, there was How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, The Kubert School (still going strong), and a few other tools, but for the most part you were on your own. Today there is a blossoming variety of resources that are building a smarter and more skilled community of tomorrow’s comics makers.
One of the most recent additions is Comics Workbook, a new web magazine set up by cartoonist Frank Santoro (Storeyville, Kramer’s Ergot). As he explained on his own Tumblr, Santoro intentionally set out to put together a team of contributors that consisted of more girls than boys to “flip the script on this comics magazine thing”. Instead of looking to other comics sites, he turned to girls roller derby and the supportive community those teams create, and is trying to “copy their model.” The results are a rough yet immediate DIY vibe that displays comics and minicomics in-progress (such as “The Great” by Alyssa Berg, pictured here), brief yet hilariously brash reviews in comics form, a series of reflections on Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy, links to interviews and reviews, and more.
Santoro is in the middle of teaching an eight-week correspondence course for comic book makers, and has written a series of columns examining layouts and color for The Comics Journal. So the guy definitely knows his stuff and has some interesting theories (even if they are beyond me as a non-artist).
Auctions | Todd McFarlane’s original cover art for The Amazing Spider-Man #328 sold at auction Thursday for $657,250, shattering the record for a single piece of American comics art set last year by a splash page from The Dark Knight Returns #3 ($448,125). However, the price falls well short of the $1.6 million shell out last month for the original cover art for Tintin in America. A 9.8 graded copy of X-Men #1 was also sold by Heritage Auctions for $492,937.50, more than twice the previous record for that comic. [ICv2]
Publishing | Lily Rothman takes a look at iVerse’s newly announced comics-only crowdfunding platform Comics Accelerator, which will allow immediate delivery of digital rewards in a more sophisticated format than an e-mailed PDF and cap its share of the take at $2,500. As Laura Morley of Womanthology points out, it can go both ways: Being on Kickstarter, a trusted platform with wide visibility, helped boost the project, but on the other hand, “Any site that’s able to take advantage of the fact that comics online already work as a big community, as a place where people talk to their friends and promote things they’re interested in, is likely to do well.” [Time]
Publishing | According to the San Diego Comic Con schedule, Archaia will publish an adaptation of Shotaro Ishinomori’s classic sci-fi manga Cyborg 009, “reimagined” in Western style. The adaptation will be written by F. J. DeSanto and Brad Cramp, and illustrated by Trevor Hairsine. In case you missed it, David Brothers recently wrote a fascinating piece on the original. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Colleen Doran is looking for original art from her creator-owned series A Distant Soil. “I require good quality scans of the art for the future editions of the print books, as well as the upcoming digital editions … If you purchased A Distant Soil original art, I would be very grateful if you would get in touch with me.” [A Distant Soil]
Mastering Comics, the second comic-creating textbook by Artbabe and La Perdida creator Jessica Abel and 99 Ways to Tell a Story‘s Matt Madden, finally hit shelves last month, offering a remarkably thorough (and remarkably enjoyable, as well) lesson in what it takes to not only make a comic, but get it in front of readers, as well. It’s no surprise that it’s so wonderful; their previous collaborative effort, Drawing Words & Writing Pictures, was similarly informative and entertaining to comic creators and the more generally curious alike, and the two have taught at New York’s School of Visual Arts for the past few years. I had a brief chat with the two about the release of the book, and what it takes to “Master” comics.
Comics | When 4-year-old Anthony Smith didn’t want to wear his hearing aid because superheroes don’t wear them, his mother emailed Marvel to ask if they had any pictures of superheroes wearing a hearing aid. Not only did Marvel editor Bill Rosemann respond with an image of the cover of 1984’s West Coast Avengers #1, which featured Hawkeye wearing a hearing aid, he also had artist Nelson Ribeiro transform Anthony into a superhero, Blue Ear. [Concord Monitor]
Publishing | Former Marvel editor Jody LeHeup, who was let go by the publisher in October during a round of layoffs, has joined Valiant Entertainment as associate editor. [press release]
Conventions | Rich Lopez has a gallery of photos from last weekend’s Dallas Comic Con. [The Dallas Voice]
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.
If I had $15, I’d grab the latest Lio collection, Zombies Need Love Too. Cartoonist Mark Tatulli has one of the better newspaper comic strips going these days.
If I had $30, I’d nab what is clearly the book of the week, NonNonBa, the latest book from Shigeru Mizuki, author of Onward Toward Our Noble Deaths. NonNonBa aims more toward Mizuki’s traditional milieu of Japanese folklore and yokai monsters, though this book is more autobiographical in nature in that it deals with his relationship with his grandmother and how she instilled in him an interest in the spirit world. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this release.
My splurge for the week would likely be one of two books from First Second: Either Baby’s in Black, Arne Bellstorf’s fictionalized tale of the sadly doomed Beatle, Stuart Sutcliffe, or Mastering Comics, Jessica Abel and Matt Madden’s follow-up to their previous how-to textbook, Drawing Words, Writing Pictures.
If you happen to be in the vicinity of East Lansing, Michigan, the week after next, it would be worth your while to check out the 2012 Michigan State University Comics Forum. Panel coordinator Ben Chabala (himself the creator of The Art of War) sent along some info, including the news that Jessica Abel (Life Sucks, Drawing Words and Writing Pictures) will deliver the keynote address on Friday, Feb. 3. Abel will also be gracing Artists Alley on Saturday, along with Jeremy Bastian (Cursed Pirate Girl), Ryan Claytor, Jay Jacot (creator of this year’s poster), Ryan Stegman and a host of budding and experienced comics creators. Forums and panel discussions will also take place on Saturday.
First Second has announced its releases for spring 2012, and as usual it’s an exciting, eclectic lineup. Here’s a quick rundown:
Which are you looking forward to?
Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.
This month we finally break Comics College’s glass ceiling (what took us so long anyway?) with an in-depth look at one of the many notable female cartoonists to come out of the alt-comix scene of the 1990s, Jessica Abel.
As the end of 2011 approaches, websites and publications are unveiling various year-end lists and gift guides — so many that keeping up is a challenge. Here’s just some of what’s been released in the past few days
• Matt Madden and Jessica Abel, editors for the Best American Comics series, have released their annual Notable Comics list. Every year they try to get their hands on every North American comic that’s published every year so they can narrow them down to about 100 or so comics for their guest editor to choose from for each edition. This year’s list includes comics by Matt Kindt, Brandon Graham, Megan Kelso, Kathryn and Stuart Immonen, Michael Deforge, Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson, Mike Dawson, Joshua Cotter and many, many more.
• In a list of their favorite music, movies, books and more of 2011, The Tulane Hullabaloo spotlights Mark Waid, Marcos Martin and Paolo Rivera’s run on Daredevil: “The series contains a sense of pure, manic glee missing from many of today’s dark, gritty and realistic superheroes, with Daredevil grinning as he makes snow angels on the rooftops of his beloved city rather than brooding over his internal demons. It’s a joy to read every month and cannot be recommended more, even to non-comic book enthusiasts.”
• MTV Splash Page counts down the top five comic book movie deaths of 2011.
• Brian Truitt at USA Today offers a list of gift ideas for comic fans.
• Lauren Davis at ComicsAlliance offers a guide to various webcomics collections and merchandise she thinks would make fine gifts — “a fantastic way to convert friends and family to your favorite webcomic.”