Retailing | The direct market is looking good, with first-quarter sales up 29 percent over last year, according to figures released at the Diamond Retailer Summit. Heidi MacDonald reports, “There was no single element which seemed to be behind to surge, although sales of The Walking Dead comics and graphic novels were frequently mentioned. The general interest in “nerd culture” seems to be driving much of the merchandise and publishing growth, with more offerings in the housewares category a standout: Diamond is now offering their own line of such things as bottle openers and ice cube trays, such as a Walking Dead themed ice cube tray in the shape of body parts.” [Publishers Weekly]
Conventions | CBR and Robot 6 are covering C2E2 in depth, but for a quick overview, check out Christopher Borrelli’s recap and photo gallery. [Chicago Tribune]
Veteran writer John Ostrander, best known for his work on DC Comics’ Suicide Squad, will step in for Geoff Johns on May’s Aquaman #20, bringing with him artists Manuel Garcia and Sandra Hope, IGN.com reports. Johns and regular artists Paul Pelletier and Sean Parson will return with Issue 21.
“Those not familiar with John, he’s one of the comic greats — from Suicide Squad to The Spectre. Exciting to see him take on The Others,” Johns wrote on Twitter. “John has an excellent take on The Others, particularly The Operative, and he’ll be introducing a new member to the team.”
Legal | The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments today on whether a negotiated 2001 deal DC Comics should prevent the daughter of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel from reclaiming his portion of the rights to the Man of Steel under a provision of U.S. copyright law. A federal judge determined in 2008 and 2009 that the writer’s heirs had successfully recaptured the copyright, asserting that because the 2001 agreement hadn’t been formalized, there was no deal. The appeals court is also set to review a ruling allowing DC to sue Marc Toberoff, who represents both the Siegel family and the estate of his collaborator Joe Shuster, for interfering with its agreements with the heirs. [Business Week]
Creators | Collaborators Justin Jordan and Patrick Zircher talk about the latest Valiant relaunch, Shadowman. [USA Today]
Creators | John Ostrander, who writes several Star Wars comics for Dark Horse, gives his take on Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm. [ComicMix]
Don’t ask me how I remember this, but it was just about twenty years ago that the first previews of Dan Jurgens’ Justice League began appearing. After five years, the “bwah-ha-ha” era was winding down, and Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis were leaving Justice League America. Giffen was also stepping away from plots and breakdowns for Justice League Europe, with JLE’s scripter Gerard Jones taking over as the book’s only writer; and Brian Augustyn replaced Andy Helfer as both books’ editor.
With a number of the New 52 titles changing creative teams before they’re even a year old, it’s too early to start talking about any long-lived, let alone definitive, runs on a particular book. Still, DC clearly hopes these books will be around for a while, even without the folks who launched ‘em. It got me thinking about past changes of the guard, and how they have followed some well-established interpretations.
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If you’re lucky enough to be near Chelsea, Michigan, this weekend, you definitely should check out Kids Read Comics. It’s not so much a convention as a takeover of the whole downtown: The show is centered in the Chelsea Public Library, but 16 nearby shops and restaurants will also be hosting exhibits and activities, including storytelling and costume workshops, lunch with the artists, and a scavenger hunt for kids and teens, and professional development workshops for the grownups.
The organizers have assembled a stellar guest list that includes Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy), Raina Telegmeier (Smile), Rob Worley (Scratch 9), Thom Zahler (Love and Capes), John Ostrander (writer of the Star Wars comics and creator of DC’s Oracle), and Barbara Slate (You Can Do a Graphic Novel). And the show itself has an impressive pedigree: The organizers are Dan Mishkin, one of the creators of Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld; Jerzy Drozd, a creator, educator, and founder of the great kids’ comics site Sugary Serials; Dan Merritt, owner of Green Brain Comics; and librarian Edith Burney. With a series of activies spread out in time and space, this sounds like a refreshing alternative to being stuffed into an airless convention center for ten hours at a time.
Publishing | Marvel reportedly has issued a round of Digital Millennium Copyright Act notices to Google in an effort targeting Blogger sites that serve as clearinghouses for links to pirated comics. (Blogger was purchased by Google in 2003.) One such blog, Comics Invasion, already has been shut down. [Bleeding Cool]
Passings | Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Paul Conrad passed away Saturday of natural causes. He was 86. The winner of three Pulitzers, an achievement matched by just two other cartoonists in the post-World War II era, Conrad worked for the Los Angeles Times for nearly 30 years, and earned a place on President Nixon’s infamous “enemies list.” [Los Angeles Times, Comic Riffs]
Veteran writer John Ostrander may have a hand in the “hardcore violent” Suicide Squad video game announced two weeks ago at Comic-Con International.
In an interview with CBR TV posted this morning, DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns revealed he has already spoken with Ostrander, who in 1987 resurrected the nearly three-decades-old property and wrote, or co-wrote, the series for its 66-issue run.
Ostrander’s update recast the Suicide Squad as supervillains employed by the U.S. government to perform missions that were considered suicide runs. That series, as well as the short-lived 2001 relaunch, featured such characters as Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, Bronze Tiger, Enchantress, Captain Cold and Amanda Waller.
“Suicide Squad is an awesome title,” Johns told CBR TV. “Even if you’ve never heard of Suicide Squad, that’s a cool video-game name. [...] It’s going to take years to make, but I’m psyched because everyone’s committed to it, and it’s going to be, you know — not to get into too much detail, but obviously, Deadshot and all of those guys … I think it could be a fantastic game. I think it’s a fantastic group of characters that have never done much outside of the comics.”
The Suicide Squad game is part of a push to get more DC characters in titles from the rapidly expanding Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment division. (In March Warner Bros. announced a new Montreal studio that will focus largely on developing games based on the company’s comics properties.)
“Jim Lee and I were talking a lot about video games,” Johns said, “and one of the things we want to do is not just do Batman, not just do Superman. We want to do all sorts of characters that would be great in any medium.”
You can watch the entire video after the break.
Welcome once again to What Are You Reading? Today’s special guest is writer and artist Dean Trippe, creator of Butterfly and co-founder of the Project: Rooftop blog, among other credits. He posts regularly on his Tumblr site Bearsharktopus-Man, where he is currently selling this nifty Doctor Who/Batman crossover print. He also has some art in the Webcomics Auction for the Gulf.
To see what Dean and the rest of the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …