"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Comic Books, Film
Conventions | Vendors who paid the $60 deposit to exhibit at Cherry City Comic Con are clamoring for a refund after word circulated that the Salem, Oregon, convention won’t happen this spring as planned. (There appears to have been some discussion about the con being canceled on Facebook, but the convention’s Facebook page now states, “A marketing solutions company is helping us start the new year right and get us back on track to make this a successful show everyone can love.” No other posts appear on the page.) This isn’t the first round of controversy for the con: Last May, organizer Mike Martin called an exhibitor “batshit insane” on Facebook when she asked for a refund and expressed concern that the con would not be a “safe place for female cosplayers.” Martin is also the organizer of a craft fair that was canceled; some exhibitors for that event were denied refunds because of “a locked PayPal account.” [KOIN]
Publishing| Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso talks about bringing more Latino characters — and more diversity in general — to the Marvel lineup: “People out there reading our comic books are of all sizes, creeds and colors and it’s our responsibility to make them feel included. This isn’t some PC initiative, this is capitalism. This is about supply and demand.” [Fox News Latino]
Creators | Grant Morrison discusses winding up his run on Action Comics: “Symbolically I’m not a big fan of dealing with politics in superhero comics because I think it diminishes both sides of the argument, but I do have my own take on things. I’ve got my own politics and so they do tend to find their way in. And really for me, its more symbolic, the way story winds up to tackle all those issues and looks at them through the perspective of Superman and Red Kryptonite and weirdness. So it’s gone underground. I think the early Superman was very much more aligned with the anti-establishment, anti-authoritarian current, because I think when Superman started out that he was what entered into.” [Comics Alliance]
Publishing | Heidi MacDonald reports that shareholders of Platinum Studios held a conference call Wednesday, with President Chris Beall sending a letter to founder Scott Rosenberg suspending him indefinitely as the company’s chief executive officer. Rich Johnston posted the press release announcing the call, and some of the topics on the agenda were fairly jaw-dropping. [The Beat]
Publishing | Andrews McMeel Publishing and Universal UClick (which are different divisions of the same company) are collaborating on a new line of digital comics, Udig, which collects themed newspaper strips into short e-books (the one I checked had 55 comics) for $2.99 each. [Good E-Reader]
Publishing | The Amazing Spider-Man #700 led the pack in the December comics numbers with 200,000 copies selling to comics shops, and with a cover price if $7.99, it racked up a cool $1.6 million in sales. Avengers #1 sold 186,000 copies but at a more reasonable price, so the dollars didn’t pile up as high for that one. ICv2 also has the December charts for the Top 300 comics and graphic novels in the direct market. John Jackson Miller takes it to the next level with sales estimates for the top 1,000 comics and trades of 2012. [ICv2]
Publishing | At the other end of the scale, Rob Clough talks to Chuck Forsman, the guy behind micropublisher Oily Comics. [The Comics Journal]
Krause Publications announced this morning that, after 42 years, it will shutter Comics Buyer’s Guide, the longest-running publication reporting on the U.S. comic-book industry. The March issue, the magazine’s 1,699th, will be its last.
In a press release, the company cited poor market conditions, a downturn in print advertising, and the increasing availability of free online content.
Founded in 1971 by Alan Light as a monthly tabloid newspaper, Comics Buyer’s Guide quickly moved to twice-monthly publication and then, by 1975, weekly. It was purchased in 1983 by Krause, which hired veteran columnists Don and Maggie Thompson as editors. Don passed away in 1994, but Maggie remained as editor until 2007, when she became senior editor and longtime associate editor Brent Frankenhoff was promoted to his current position. She was announced just last week as a monthly columnist for Comic-Con International’s new blog Toucan.
“The magazine business is in worse shape than the comics business by far, and while there is still a market for the right magazine model (Alter Ego, etc.), there evidently wasn’t another evolution left in CBG,” former employee and columnist John Jackson Miller writes in a lengthy overview of the publication’s history. “The staff received news of the cancellation just after the new year. Issue #1699 had already gone to press, so there will be no anniversary issue, nor acknowledgment in the magazine. The last thing in the magazine is, as always, a column by Peter David, who suffered a stroke at the end of 2012. I expected such an announcement sooner, as FW/Krause had already folded Comics & Games Retailer and the much more lucrative Scrye several years ago; still, I am deeply saddened to see it come to pass, both for the history of comics and for the friends and neighbors who worked there.”
It’s become an annual tradition here during our birthday bash: No matter how much stuff we line up, people we interview, etc., there are still tons of folks we like to hear from and include in our giant New Year’s/anniversary/birthday activities. So, as we’ve done in past years, we asked a cross-section of comics folks what they liked in 2012 and what they’re excited about for 2013. We received so many this year that we’ve broken it down into two posts; watch for another one Tuesday.
But for now, check out all the great stuff people shared with us, including hints at new projects and even some outright announcements. Our thanks to everyone this year who responded. Also, thanks to Tim O’Shea, Michael May and Chris Arrant, who helped collect responses.
JIMMIE ROBINSON (Bomb Queen, Five Weapons)
What was your favorite comic of 2012?
Image’s Saga, Fatale, Hawkeye‘s reinvention is fresh and exciting, Peter Panzerfaust, Enormous by Tim Daniel. It’s hard to pin down just one because there is SO much good work coming out nowadays — from many publishers across the board.
Legal | A Belgian court of appeals has ruled that Tintin in the Congo is not racist and stated that the book has “gentle and candid humour.” The ruling came in a case brought in 2007 by Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo, an immigrant from the Congo, and the Belgian Council of Black Associations. Although Herge himself expressed regret in later life for the book, which includes numerous depictions of black characters as stupid and inferior, the court did not support the plaintiffs’ claim that “The negative stereotypes portrayed in this book are still read by a significant number of children. They have an impact on their behaviour.” [Sky News]
Retailing | Sales of comics and graphic novels in the direct market rose 18.6 percent for the first half of the year, compared to the same period in 2011, reports the retail news and analysis site ICv2. John Jackson Miller adds that, “Retailers have already ordered more material through June — nearly $223 million in retail dollars— than they did in last year through July.” He also points out that the second half of the year has outperformed the first half every year for the past decade, by an average of 10 percent, meaning we can probably expect 2012 to finish strong. [ICv2.com, Comichron]
Publishing | The new Valiant Entertainment would like to follow the movie “blueprint” that Marvel has laid out, according to a new profile of the reborn company. “Investors like to be able to compare concepts to other concepts,” said Valiant chairman Peter Cuneo, former CEO of Marvel. “With Valiant, we very much have a blueprint to follow, which is Marvel.” The profile mostly focuses on the business side of Valiant, as well as some of its history. [The New York Times]
Legal | A Tunisian court last week convicted Nessma TV President Nebil Karoui of “disturbing public order” and “threatening public morals” by broadcasting the animated adaptation of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, which features a scene that briefly shows an image of God. The Oct. 7 airing resulted in an attempted arson attack on the network’s offices and the arrest of some 50 protesters. Karoui was fined $1,600 by the five-judge panel; two members of his staff were fined $800 each. Prosecutors and attorneys representing Islamist groups pushed for Karoui to be sentenced to up to five years in prison. Others argued for the death penalty. [The Washington Post]
Business | Target will stop selling Amazon’s Kindle devices in its stores over a dispute regarding “showrooming,” where consumers check out a product at Target stores and then go home to buy it on Amazon for a cheaper price. Around Christmas, Amazon’s Price Check app gave shoppers a 5 percent discount on any item scanned at a retail store. “What we aren’t willing to do is let online-only retailers use our brick-and-mortar stores as a showroom for their products and undercut our prices,” Target executives wrote in a letter to vendors. Target will continue to carry Apple’s iPad, Barnes & Noble’s Nook and the Aluratek Libre. [The New York Times]
Theme parks | Disney CEO Bob Iger said the company has begun preliminary design work that will pave the way for Marvel superheroes to one day appear alongside familiar characters in Disney theme parks. Iger told shareholders attending the annual meeting Tuesday that the company has been working on some concepts, but hasn’t announced anything yet. Disney is currently developing attractions based on James Cameron’s Avatar film for its Animal Kingdom park in Orlando, Florida, which are expected to be ready in 2015. [Los Angeles Times]
Comic strips | Alan Gardner counts 57 newspapers that aren’t carrying this week’s Doonesbury comics, which address a Texas law requiring women requesting an abortion to submit to a transvaginal ultrasound. But according to Universal UClick, no papers have dropped Garry Trudeau’s strip. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Publishing | John Jackson Miller discusses the Rule of Eight, which holds that independent publishers start to falter once they put out more than eight titles per month, and goes into the nuances of the theory with its originator of the idea, Marc Patten. [The Comichron]
Awards | Matt Bors is the 2012 winner of the Herblock Award, and the first alternative political cartoonist to do so, according to the Herb Block Foundation. The award includes a $15,000 prize — and that’s $15,000 after taxes, which is mighty thoughtful of them. “The prize money is extremely generous and important, as it is more than I’ve ever made in a year from my editorial cartoons,” said Bors, who plans to use it to upgrade his website. The finalist for the prize is Jen Sorensen, creator of Slowpoke and also an alternative cartoonist; she gets a $5,000 prize. [Comic Riffs]
Awards | The Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo, or SPACE, has announced the winners of its annual awards, which will be presented April 21 at the convention in Columbus, Ohio. Winners include Diabetes Funnies by Colin Upton, Sing, Sing by Paul Zdepski, and Spoilers by Kevin Czapiewski. [SPACE]
Digital comics | ICv2 estimates the total value of the digital comics market in 2011 as $25 million, triple the 2010 figure, and boldly predicts that digital will account for 10 percent of the entire comics market in 2012. Digital sales grew faster in the second half of the year, which ICv2 attributes to three factors: DC’s decision to release its New 52 comics digitally the same day as print, the industry-wide trend toward same-day print and digital releases, and the proliferation of different platforms on which to read digital comics. As for digital taking away from print, the publishing executives ICv2 has spoken to over the past few months don’t seem to think that is happening. [ICv2]
Retailing | Retailer and journalist Matt Price takes the temperature at the ComicsPRO Annual Members Meeting, which kicks off today in Dallas, noting that members remain interested in DC’s publishing plans, and report “very strong sales” for Image’s Fatale and Thief of Thieves. [Nerdage]
Publishing | John Jackson Miller profiles Diamond Comic Distributors to mark its 30th anniversary, offering a timeline of major events in the company’s history. [Comichron]
Retailing | Dark Horse Publisher Mike Richardson will give the keynote address at this week’s ComicsPRO Annual Membership Meeting. [NewsOK]
Retailing | Hypno Comics will open Saturday in Ventura, California. [Ventura County Star]
Over the past several years, writer John Jackson Miller has built a loyal base of Star Wars comic book readers, through his work on Dark Horse’s Star Wars comics line. This Wednesday, January 11, marks the release of the first issue in the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic-War five-issue miniseries (a project which teams Miller with artist Andrea Mutti). While I had Miller’s attention in this email interview, I also opted to pick his brain about the realm of circulation and its related implications. Once you’ve read the interview, please be sure to peruse Dark Horse’s preview of the first issue.
Tim O’Shea: What’s the most enjoyable aspect of returning to the Knights of the Old Republic world?
John Jackson Miller: Zayne Carrick is a fun character to write. He was the Jedi student that didn’t make the grade, but who became a hero in spite of those low expectations. Zayne starred in the fifty-issue Knights of the Old Republic series — available in digital and nine TPB collections — and it’s fun to return to him here, where, once again, he’s completely out of his depth. This time, he’s been drafted into the Republic’s war against the armored Mandalorians. Not good — especially if, like Zayne, you’re against killing under any circumstances. That, too, makes it fun to return to telling Zayne stories — he has to think his way out of situations. Brute force is rarely an option for him.
Legal | Antarctic Press has agreed to stop selling Diary of a Zombie Kid and Diary of a Zombie Kid: Rotten Rules under the terms of a temporary restraining order issued Wednesday by a federal court. Wimpy Kid Inc. is suing Antarctic for trademark infringement, among other things, claiming that its Diary of a Wimpy Kid parodies are too close to the real thing. Antarctic CEO Joe Dunn signed the temporary restraining order, signifying that Antarctic agreed to it; the two companies are negotiating a settlement, according to court papers. One interesting tidbit: Diary of a Zombie Kid sold all of 850 copies in comics shops in August, while the first printing on the latest Wimpy Kid book was 6 million. [ICv2]
Comics | Bayou Arcana is a new anthology of Southern Gothic horror comics with a gender twist: All the comics are written by men and illustrated by women. There are some pretty broad generalizations in this article — “There is a certain sensitivity that you find in women’s art that just does not appear in a lot of guys’ work,” says the project editor, James Pearson — but the project itself sounds interesting. [The Guardian]