Publishing | ICv2 notes the near absence of DC Comics and Marvel on the August BookScan chart, which tracks sales in bookstores. There were no Marvel titles in the Top 20, and the four DC titles — Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, Batman: The Killing Joke and V for Vendetta — were all evergreens, not new releases. Particularly noticeable by their absence were any volumes of Wolverine or Kick-Ass, properties with movies released in July and August, respectively. What’s hot? Attack on Titan, apparently, with two volumes charting and Volume 1, which was released more than a year ago, getting stronger every month — which means new readers are finding the series now. Curiously, the series is not selling well in comics shops, perhaps because retailers simply aren’t ordering it. Eight of the top 20 volumes were manga, including the top seller, the 62nd volume of Naruto. Chart mainstay The Walking Dead placed four books, including the nine-year-old first volume. [ICv2]
Legal | EC Comics writer and editor Al Feldstein and the estate of Mad editor and artist Harvey Kurtzman have taken steps to reclaim the copyright to their early work under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 (the same provision invoked by the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster). Feldstein has already reached an agreement with the William M. Gaines Agency, which holds the rights to Tales from the Crypt and other classic EC comics of the 1950s; the deal will bring him a small amount of money and the freedom to use the art any way he wants in his autobiography. Kurtzman’s people are in the early stages of negotiations with Warner Bros./DC Comics, which holds the rights to Mad magazine. [The Comics Journal]
Graphic novels | BookScan’s Top 20 graphic novels list for October makes for strange bedfellows, with The Walking Dead Compendium Two at No. 1, Chris Ware’s Building Stories at No. 2, and the third volume of Gene Yang’s Avatar: The Last Airbender at No. 3. It’s an interestingly mixed list, with the usual sprinkling of manga (Sailor Moon, Naruto, Bleach), a volume of Stephan Pastis’ Pearls Before Swine compilations, and four more volumes of The Walking Dead. And bringing up the rear, at #20, the perennial Watchmen. [ICv2]
A brief indulgence before we get started: July 14 marked eight years since I started blogging about comics on my own little website, the now-dormant Comics Ate My Brain. Since one of my first posts was called “Robin Problems,” it’s a happy coincidence that this week we return to the original superhero-sidekick identity.
Although I’m not always happy with DC Comics as a company, I have a lot of empathy for the people who work on superhero comics, especially those who populate convention panels. Regardless of how we think they’re doing their jobs, those are still their jobs, and I wouldn’t want to go to work every morning facing a steady torrent of criticism from my customers. (We lawyers get more than enough workplace second-guessing as it is.) It also can’t be easy traveling around having to face one’s critics in person.
That said, if the alternative-fuels industry could harness avoidable fan outrage, DC Comics would be the new OPEC. Once again demonstrating a knack for how not to behave, its panelists practically laughed off legitimate questions about switching out fan-favorite Bat-protege Stephanie Brown for the “more iconic” Barbara Gordon.
After those original accounts appeared online (on Friday the 13th, no less), more details emerged to help explain just who did what. It’s still a situation where DC higher-ups asked to remove Stephanie (which, it can’t be said enough, is really asking for trouble); but apparently the series’ writer got to choose her replacement. Don’t worry, we’ll get into all the nuances.
Conventions | A group of 21 events companies, including New York Comic Con and BookExpo America organizer Reed Exhibitions, are opposing a plan by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to tear down the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. In a letter to the governor that was also distributed to 600 other officials, the Friends of Javits said they would not patronize the much larger venue that’s to be built in Ozone Park, Queens, primarily because of its distance from Manhattan. [Crain's New York Business, via ICv2]
Conventions | Comic-Con International is just six weeks away, and you know it’s coming when Tom Spurgeon posts his annual list of tips for enjoying the convention. It’s a wealth of information, compiled over 17 years of con-going, so go, learn. [The Comics Reporter]
Creators | Veteran artist Jules Feiffer is publishing his first graphic novel (not counting a graphic novel-ish work in the 1970s), and he says his fans won’t recognize it, as it’s in a much more realistic style than his other work. Feiffer got his start in Will Eisner’s studio but felt he couldn’t draw like the other artists there, but he seems to have developed the ability recently: “Now I seem to be able to work in the adventure story drawing style. All of this comes out of my early love of Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler.” [Publishers Weekly Comics World]
Creators | Pitting teenagers against one another for a television reality/talent show, America’s Got Powers may sound a bit like The Hunger Games, but artist Bryan Hitch says there’s more to it than that: “The talent show/gladiatorial stuff isn’t the story, though — it’s the setting against which the story takes place and at heart this is the story of two brothers and how they changed the world, or at least the world from their point of view. It’s personal, emotional and, given my own visual tendencies, massive, explosive and destructive!” [USA Today]
Awards | Chicago’s Columbia College has announced it will bestow the 2012 John Fischetti Lifetime Achievement Award on Jules Feiffer. What is it? “The Fischetti Lifetime Achievement Award honors an outstanding career of editorial cartooning, work skewering cultural mores, misguided public policies and self-important people.” [The Daily Cartoonist]
Comics | As workers begin cleaning up the mess left by a flooded warehouse full of comics, officials at Pittsburgh’s ToonSeum are appealing to the public for donations to help replace the lost works. [Post-Gazette]
Creators | Gerry Alanguilan posts his rejection letters from Marvel and DC Comics from the days when, as a young artist, he sent in samples of his work. He also tells the story of how he blew his first big chance, which should prove inspirational to others in the same boat. [Komikero]
Today: At 2 p.m. PST Dave Gibbons (Watchmen, The Originals) will host a free webinar on Manga Studio, teaching aspiring and professional artists how to create illustrations using the software. Space is limited to the first 500 people who register here. More details can be found here. (Manga Studio is a sponsor of Robot 6.)
Friday: The third annual Comicpalooza opens at noon at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. Comics guests include Phil Foglia, Rob Liefeld, David Mack, Jim Mahfood, David Malki, Humberto Ramos, Ben Templesmith, Ethan Van Sciver, J.H. Williams III and Bernie Wrightston. The event continues through Sunday.
Friday: Toronto Comic Con Wizard World kicks off at noon at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto. Comics guests include J. Bone, Adi Granov, Phil Jimenez, Dale Keown, Leonard Kirk, Yanick Paquette, Gail Simone, Cameron Stewart, Ty Templeton and J. Torres. The event continues through Sunday.
Children’s book publishers haven’t exactly rushed to lead the graphic novel parade, but neither have they ignored it entirely. Case in point: Simon & Schuster, who have a handful of comic and comic-related books coming out this fall, such as:
Burn by Camilla d’Errico. The artist on that Avril Lavigne manga that came out a few years ago tells his own story, about a young man who is merged with a sentient killer robot in a futuristic world. On sale Oct. 27, 124 pages, $9.99 paperback.
The Chronicles of Arthur: Sword of Fire and Ice by John Matthews and Mike Collins. A renowned Arthurian expert — it says so in the catalog — Matthews tells the story of Arthur’s teen years with DC and Marvel veteran Collins handling the art chores. On sale Sept. 15, 128 pages, $14.99 paperback, $21.99 hardcover.
Amelia Rules! A Very Ninja Christmas by Jimmy Gownley. Amelia is looking forward to the holidays until she realizes her friend Pajamaman hasn’t been getting any presents at all for the past three years. I’m not sure if this is all new material or collects stories from previous issues. On sale Oct. 6, 80 pages, $7.99 paperback.
Which Puppy? by Kate Feiffer. Illustrated by Jules Feiffer. I’m not sure why this is in the fall catalog, as it’s in stores now, but hey, new Feiffer! This one’s about how the Obama family got their dog, I think. On sale now, 32 pages, $16.99 hardcover.
If you have not read the first part of my interview with Jeer Heer, follow this link. In this second part, the email exchange branched out to include Kent Worcester. Worcester, an associate professor of political science and international studies at Marymount Manhattan College, has collaborated with Heer on two books, co-editing 2004′s Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a Popular Medium and (more recently) 2008′s A Comics Studies Reader. We discuss both books. My thanks to Heer and Worcester for their time.
Tim O’Shea: Would you ever consider preparing a revised edition of 2004′s Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a Popular Medium? How has your perspective changed–looking at the 2008 critical landscape in comparison to your 2004 view of the medium?
Kent Worcester: Yes, we have considered preparing a revised edition of Arguing Comics. There are at least a few essays on comics by major twentieth century intellectuals that we overlooked the first time around. A second edition would allow us to not only incorporate new material but also to expand the discussion in the introduction concerning the relationship of comics-oriented discourse to larger cultural conversations. I would very much appreciate having the opportunity to strengthen our underlying argument, which is that debates over comics are central to the so-called “culture wars” that have been a defining feature of American politics for many decades.