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Awards | The National Press Foundation has named political cartoonist Robert Ariail, who draws for Universal UClick and the Spartanburg, South Carolina, Herald-Journal, as the winner of this year’s Berryman Award. [The Washington Post]
Creators | Brothers Wesley and Bradley Sun discuss their upcoming graphic novel, Chinatown; Wesley is a hospital chaplain in Chicago, and Bradley quit his job in Florida to join his brother and work on the book. [Hyde Park Herald]
Aiming to cut the fat from the bloated pop-culture extravaganzas, a new creator-branded model for comic conventions is drawing fans to a more curated and unique experience.
For decades, comic conventions have been building up (or “diversifying,” if you prefer) to include television shows, movies, video games, board games, toys, novels, scantily clad models, and new-media companies that used speech balloons in their marketing campaign that one time. Basically they’ve become magnets for any project with an air of geekery, regardless of the lack of any sequential art or cartooning. A number of cons can feel more like a pop-up strip mall in their efforts to be everything for as many people as possible. And con-goers feel it. You really haven’t had the full convention experience if you don’t hear someone grumble how the con used to be about the comics, man. It’s a chorus that seems to attract more voices each year.
Perhaps in response to the growing Grumble Choir, a number of event organizers have been testing more focused conventions branded under a single creator or identity. These conventions bring in vendors, guests and exhibitors that more directly reflect the name on the banners, resulting in a more authentic and cohesive experience. While it’s splicing a niche market to a niche within a niche, it’s also creating a more irresistible ticket item for people within that sub-niche. And those fans coming to see the name they recognize are probably super-fans eager to experience, sample and buy more at a deeper level than the more scattershot crowd under the general geek umbrella.
Sara Pichelli and Scott Snyder topped the second annual Stan Lee Awards, presented over the weekend at Kapow! Comic Convention in London. Pichelli won for Best Artist and Best Newcomer, while Snyder walked away with Best Writer and Man of the Year. Snyder’s run on Detective Comics with Jock and Francesco Francavilla was also named Best Ongoing Series.
The full list of winners:
Best Writer: Scott Snyder
Best Artist: Sara Pichelli
Best Superhero or Sci-Fi Movie: X-Men First Class
Best Game or Toy: Arkham City
Best TV Show: Game of Thrones
Best Publisher: DC Comics
Publishing | Dynamite Entertainment CEO Nick Barrucci talks frankly about the state of the marketplace, digital comics, and his company’s plans. He also acknowledges some missteps: “Green Hornet was a license we paid a lot of attention to last year, probably too much attention. Going back to what we were talking about earlier, putting out too much product, we put out too much Green Hornet product. Part of it is that we wanted to get trade paperback collections out in time for the movie, and we did that, we succeeded. We built up our market share and we generated more revenue for us and the retailers. I’m going off on a tangent here, so I apologize, but we took that money and reinvested into projects like Vampirella, like Warlord of Mars, like the upcoming Kirby: Genesis. But we overdid it, and that we realize, which is why you don’t see us doing four Vampirella titles and four Warlord of Mars titles.” [ICv2.com]
Creators | For its annual Comics Issue, the Village Voice takes a fascinating, lengthy and very depressing look at the often-grim financial reality faced by cartoonists — an environment to which, it turns out, the Village Voice contributed. “I’m not sure how much you’ll be allowed to write about this,” says Dan Perkins (Tom Tomorrow), “but of course the Village Voice Media chain is one of the major culprits in this —their decision to ‘suspend’ cartoons [in 15 papers in 2009] dealt a serious blow to the struggling subgenre of alt-weekly cartoons.” It’s noted parenthetically that Tom Tomorrow will return to the paper “within a few months,” and that “many of the artists in this issue aren’t getting paid, but have contributed work for the exposure.” [Village Voice]
If the growing guest list isn’t enough to draw fans and media to the inaugural Kapow! Comic Con, Mark Millar & Co. are raising the stakes by setting their sights on two Guinness World Records that most probably didn’t know existed.
Millar and collaborator Leinil Yu have given permission for their Superior character to be used at the convention to help secure the records for Fastest Production of a Comic Book and Most Contributors to a Comic Book.
To do so, such attending creators as Paul Cornell, Andy Diggle, Dave Gibbons, Jock, Frank Quitely and John Romita Jr. will lend their time on April 9 to create a 20-page standalone comic. For the Fastest Production record, the entire issue — from concept to script to art to lettering — must be completed between 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. A Guinness World Records official will be on-hand to certify the requirements have been met.
The finished product will be printed and distributed through Marvel’s Icon imprint, with all royalties going to Yorkhill Children’s Foundation, which provides enhanced medical equipment and resources for sick children and babies treated by Yorkhill Hospital in Glasgow.
The finalists in each of the 12 categories were selected from nominations submitted by a panel composed of actors Seth Rogan and Clark Duke, Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof, retailers, and comics and entertainment journalists.
Online voting continues through March 4. The winners will be announced April 9 during a ceremony at Kapow Comic Con in London. The nominees are:
Pledging to bring “San Diego Comic-Con to these shores,” Mark Millar this morning announced he’ll launch Kapow Comic Con on April 9-10 in London.
“The idea behind Kapow! is to bring the San Diego experience to Central London,” Millar tells Empire. “All the studios have a massive presence here in the UK, dozens of the world’s biggest comic creators are here and most of the comic-book movie adaptations are being filmed just up the road.”
Held at the London Business Design Centre, the premiere event will feature such creators as Brian Bolland, Olivier Coipel, Paul Cornell, Andy Diggle, Steve Dillon, Dave Gibbons, Bryan Hitch, Jock, Brendan McCarthy, John McCrea, Kevin O’Neill, Frank Quitely, John Romita Jr. and Leinil Francis Yu. The schedule is expected to be announced in February.
The convention also will feature the debut of the Stan Lee Awards, honoring “the cream of comic book talent for all their creativity and imagination.” Categories include best writer, best artist, best publisher, best TV show, best game or toy, and man or woman of the year.
Tickets can be purchased now through the convention website. You can watch the trailer, featuring Millar, Gibbons, Quitely and Yu, after the break.