Are you getting excited? New teasers and trailers are being released almost every day now. The countdown to Summer Movie Season is officially on, and the big blockbusters adapting comics are looking promising. Iron Man 3 has an armada of armors flying around; can’t really go wrong there. The Wolverine has ninjas as far as the eye can see. And the bearded and brooding Man of Steel might even end up being good. Throw in a little Kick-Ass 2 and RED 2, sprinkle with R.I.P.D. and 300: Rise of an Empire, and top it off with 2 Guns, and you’ve got yourself one fun summer.
While we still get clunkers, the ratio of good to suck has definitely improved. It used to be that the old chestnut response to a movie adapted from a novel could be more often than not applied to movies adapted from comics: The book was better. And it’s often still true. But there are times when the movies do it better than comics, and while that’s great for the filmmakers and audiences, in a way it’s an indictment on the comics-makers.
Comics offer more boundless creativity than almost any medium. With comics, there’s no studio executive, no creation-by-committee made up of shareholders and board members with less experience creating and telling stories than their companies’ interns. It’s why Tony Stark being an alcoholic doesn’t fly with Disney and was removed from Iron Man 3. Comics can still include collaboration and compromise but they can just as easily be the result of a single voice. Even with the most heavy-handed editorially mandated comics, they’re still created by a fraction of people needed to make a Hollywood movie. Comics are generally more spontaneous, imaginative and clever than most major studio movies. But sometimes, Hollywood gets the jump on comics.
Hit-Girl, apparently, is a hit. The first issue of the miniseries starring the supporting character from Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s Kick-Ass has sold out its first printing, which according to Millar was over 70,000 copies.
“Pre-orders for Hit-Girl #1 were over 70,000 copies, and we’ve completely sold out of first printing, the Noto variant and the limited edition white variant in 36 hrs.,” Millar said on his MillarWorld site. “Marvel cleverly had an emergency second printing on stand-by and only 1700 copies of this left. So a third printing has not been ordered.
“… This is outselling even Kick-Ass and reaction has been amazing. Johnny and I very chuffed.”
Millar followed that post up with another saying that the second printing was sold out. “Third printing on the way, people,” he said.
Those numbers are especially impressive since Hit-Girl #1 was apparently left off of Diamond’s initial retailer’s order form.
The Hit-Girl miniseries takes place between Kick-Ass volumes 1 and 2 as the title character, a.k.a. Mindy McCready, tries to settle into life as a regular school-girl. According to the solicitation text, “Her mother and step-father think she’s doing her homework, but in reality she’s taken Kick-Ass on as her sidekick and training him up to punch, shoot and stab” … and apparently sell a bunch of comics.
Ed Brubaker, John Romita Jr. and The Walking Dead were among the winners of the sixth annual Scream Awards, presented last night in Los Angeles. The ceremony will air Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Spike TV.
The awards, which honor the best in science fiction, fantasy and horror films, television shows and comic books, were voted on by fans from a list of nominees selected by an advisory committee that included Neil Gaiman, Tim Burton, Damon Lindelof, George A. Romero and Wes Craven.
The Walking Dead, by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard, was named Best Comic Book or Graphic Novel, Ed Brubaker as Best Comic Book Writer and John Romita Jr. as Best Comic book Artist.
In addition to the comics-specific categories, awards went to adaptations X-Men: First Class for Best Fantasy Movie, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World for Best Comic Book Movie and Best Fight Scene, and The Dark Knight Rises for Most Anticipated Scream. Chris Evans also won Best Superhero for his turn as Captain America, and Hugh Jackman for Best Cameo in X-Men: First Class.
Here’s the complete list of winners:
Creators | Some military personnel are upset that comics legend Stan Lee received the Honorable Order of St. Barbara award in July during the week of Comic-Con International, as the award is “traditionally reserved for career cannon cockers in the Army and Marine Corps who have made their mark on the field artillery or air defense communities.” While the award credited Lee, who served stateside in the Army during World War II, with writing “several training manuals and films for the artillery and all other branches of the service,” the co-creator of the Fantastic Four and other Marvel properties said he didn’t recall ever doing so. A spokesman for Maj. Gen. David Halverson, commander of the Army Field Artillery Center at Fort Sill, Okla., who signed off on the award, said it “was given to a former soldier and WWII veteran whose contributions, both in the Army and beyond, are in keeping with and representative of all the high standards of achievement and selfless service associated with the Honorary Order of Saint Barbara.” Lee actually missed receiving the award, as at the ceremony he also received an Army Certificate of Achievement and left before the second award could be given. [Air Force Times]
Atomic Comics, the nationally known Arizona retail chain, abruptly closed all four locations on Sunday, shocking staff, customers and industry figures alike. Although the closing of the stores in Mesa, Phoenix, Chandler and Paradise Valley was initially announced last night by multiple employees and creators, owner Michael Malve confirmed the news this morning in an installment of his weekly newsletter titled “My Final Report.”
“As some of you may have already heard, after 25 years of running a successful business, sadly and much to my dismay, I have shut the doors of Atomic Comics,” Malve wrote. “The villain in this tragedy is the economy. I had hoped to be the superhero and triumph over the recession, but sadly the economic downturn of the past 5 years has proven to be unsustainable.”
In the newsletter, which can be read below, Malve revealed he’s filed for bankruptcy, and that he and his family are losing their home, ” as we had secured it against our leases which we obviously have to break.”
“I know there are many people out there facing very similar situations in these difficult times and now I can definitely empathize with them,” he continued. “I have always been and will forever be an extremely optimistic person and will look at this situation as an adventure. I have very high hopes for the next chapter of my life.”
As artist It’s always fun to see a dramatic new take on an existing character or concept. Some are official like the upcoming X-Men: First Class movie, or in-comics revamps like DC’s Blue Beetle or Marvel’s upcoming “Age of X” series. But with the freedom of the internet, any artist can get into the fray and crank off an off-the-wall take on their favorite character. You might have seem what Dean Trippe and I encourage over at ProjectRooftop.com, but this next batch of art is something entirely more extreme.
Over the last few months a ragtag group of illustrators, concept artists and 3d modelers have been doing some sketchjams with unique takes on different characters that have riled up the internet. From their “badass” Pixar characters to their brilliant revamp of two Nintendo stalwarts, this group has really let out their inner fanboys meet their outer art professionals. And now they’re taking on Marvel’s X-Men with… the Astonishing A$$holes.
Jorge Lacera explains, “our basic idea is taking the X-men and really fulfiling on the promise of teenage, punk, angsty super powered drama.”
In recent years, we’ve seen a boatload of comic books and graphic novels make their way to the silver screen, from “big two” stalwarts like Spider-Man and Batman to independent titles like Scott Pilgrim and 30 Days Of Night. Among the various adaptations, though, some creators have emerged as magnets for Hollywood types — one creator who seems to love it more than anyone else is Mark Millar.
After bouncing around the UK comics scene and later DC, Mark Millar made a name for himself for his big-picture epics on The Authority and The Ultimates. Working with artists like Frank Quitely and Bryan Hitch, Millar borrowed some of the wide-screen cinema techniques of film to display comic stories in a new light. From very early on, movie-makers have been cribbing notes from his comics; X-Men: The Last Stand screenwriter Zak Penn said Millar’s work was influencing his own. He was even brought in to act as an informal brain trust to give advice to Jon Favreau during the production of the first Iron Man film.
After seeing glimpses and glimmers of Millar’s influence on company-owned comics-turned-films, it was when Hollywood took notice of his creator-owned work that his bibliography became catnip for movie producers. After back-to-back successes with feature film adaptations of his comics Wanted and Kick-Ass, virtually every creator-owned comic from Mark Millar comes with the question, “How soon will there be a movie announcement?” This attention from movie producers has even led Millar to begin filming his own original movie, which is currently underway.
The question today is this: Of the creator-owned work Mark Millar’s done that haven’t become films yet, which should, and how should they look?
“Fun fact! NINE of the TOP TEN graphic novels in 2010 were creator-owned books! Walking Dead, Kick-Ass and Scott Pilgrim among them.”
–Savage Dragon cartoonist Erik Larsen, speaking the truth. Of course, the flip side of this is that NINE of the TOP TEN graphic novels in 2010 had major Hollywood properties to thank for much of their notoriety, Walking Dead, Kick-Ass, and Scott Pilgrim among them. (The tenth was a Superman book that got over with mass audiences largely on the strength of a fortuitous press comparison to Twilight.) I don’t mean to short-change the success of Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard, Mark Millar, John Romita Jr., and Bryan Lee O’Malley, but proponents of creator ownership and creators’ rights probably ought not break out the MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner just yet.
Diamond Comic Book Distributors announced its 2010 numbers yesterday, and the results were mixed: Sales of comics, graphic novels, and magazines in comics stores were down 3.5% for the year, but they moved up a bit in the last three months of the year, which is a hopeful sign.
In terms of market share, Marvel won the year with 38% of the dollar share and 43% of units sold (I’m rounding here). DC was second with 30 and 34%, respectively, and tagging along after them were Dark Horse, Image, IDW, Dynamite, and Boom! Studios. Viz, the top manga publisher, had 1.4% of the dollars and less than 1% of the unit share, which is about where they have been in previous years.
And what comics were we reading this year? Well, we weren’t exactly breaking new ground. Individual volumes of Scott Pilgrim and The Walking Dead dominated the graphic novel list, which is not surprising given that both had strong media tie-ins. The comics list had a bit more variety, and it’s interesting that the last two issues of Blackest Night outsold the first two issues of Brightest Day.
Here’s the list of the top ten periodical comics for the year:
Continue Reading »
Over on his message boards, writer Mark Millar teases a crossover between three of his creator-owned properties — Kick-Ass, Superior and Nemesis — with some art by Leinil Francis Yu.
“Leinil’s just finished some layouts here, but it’s a nice teaser for everyone,” he said about the art. “The picture really says it all: Nemesis, Superior, Hit-Girl and Kick-Ass. The first Millarworld crossover event.”
No other details were given in terms of what this is or where it might appear, but his Clint Magazine might be a likely venue.
Update: It’s three covers.
Warning: People who use the phrase “playing the race card” need not apply to the following post. I guess that rules out, y’know, our entire political class, but oh well. Anyway, a trio of recent pieces have taken on the issue of race in contemporary superhero comics and movies.
Perhaps the most high-profile of the three pieces is Chris Sims’s essay on “the racial politics of regressive storytelling” for Comics Alliance. Sims argues that DC Comics’ current penchant for restoring the Silver Age versions of Green Lantern, the Flash, the Atom, the Legion of Super-Heroes and so on has the unintentional but regrettable effect of pushing their successors — in many cases, non-white characters created to replace their slain or off-stage white predecessors — to the sidelines. While he’s quite clear that he doesn’t believe Geoff Johns or any of the other writers or editors involved are motivated by racial animus, he laments the way in which several decades’ worth of minority characters are now becoming “footnotes” in the race to create comics that evoke the creators’ and readers’ memories of their childhood favorites. I’m sympathetic to the obvious truth in Sims’s argument — replacing Ryan Choi with Ray Palmer, for example, does indeed “whiten” the Atom concept once again. But as I wrote in an essay on my own blog, I think the blame lies not with Johns and his Rebirths and Brightest Day and so on, but with the creators who, instead of creating strong non-white characters out of whole cloth like Luke Cage or Storm or Black Panther, simply put new guys in the old guys’ outfits, thus all but inviting readers to think of them as substitutes and pine for their original favorites.
With Kick-Ass in theaters and Marvel’s Daredevil-driven Shadowland event on the horizon, it’s a good time to be a street-level vigilante hero. Now you can be one in the privacy of your own home, thanks to blogger Jon Hasting’s DIY RPG Street Level.
Hastings says he drew inspiration for designing his homemade game in large part from the ’70s & ’80s Marvel characters who will be throwing down in Shadowland — Moon Knight, Luke Cage, Daredevil, Punisher, Ghost Rider, Iron Fist and so on — as well as indie takes on the concept from Mike Baron’s Badger to Mark Millar & John Romita Jr.’s Kick-Ass. Now, what I don’t know about role-playing games could almost fit into the Grand Canyon, but it looks to me like Hastings captured the spirit of what makes these characters fun: The skills your character can develop include “finding shit out,” “taking a beating,” “doing violence,” “telling people what’s what,” and “keeping your shit together” (for those interested in doing a Daredevil: Born Again-style campaign, I guess), while the amount of “Heat” you’ve drawn to yourself from either traditional law enforcement or the criminal underworld is a major factor in your success or failure. Actual superpowers are optional; if you want your character to be able to light his fists on fire thanks to some experimental drug/martial-arts mojo, that’s fine, but it’s also fine to just have him roll out of bed, put on a jumpsuit, and beat up some muggers.
Hastings is concerned that he may have overdesigned the game, but he needs to have it playtested to be sure. Why not give it a spin yourself?
Whether or not Kick-Ass tops the weekend box office — it probably will — its marketing campaign has ensured the movie’s infiltration of popular culture. Nikki Finke points out that this morning’s Boston Herald features this political cartoon by Jerry Holbert.
Following Wednesday morning’s announcement that the long-discussed Batwoman solo title would indeed debut in July — without Greg Rucka, but with J.H. Williams III, joined by co-writer W. Haden Blackman and, later, artist Amy Reeder Hadley — I braced for another onslaught of mainstream-media coverage.
After all, newspapers, cable-news networks and entertainment websites have a long fascination with lesbian socialite Kate Kane, aka the “lady-lovin’ Batwoman,” that dates back to her May 2006 unveiling in The New York Times, and continued through her July 2006 comics debut in 52. That fixation with the “hot lesbian” — or “flame-haired lesbian,” if you prefer — began anew almost three years later, after DC Comics announced that Batwoman would take the lead in Detective Comics during Batman’s “death”-induced absence.
So it stands to reason the official confirmation of a Batwoman monthly series would draw the same sort of attention, right? After all, the elements that fueled the previous media frenzies are still there: homosexuality, the familiar Bat-brand, the idea that comics are a children’s medium. But this go-around, things have been relatively quiet.
Conventions | On the eve of the inaugural Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, the Chicago Reader examines the escalating competition between convention owner Reed Exhibitions and longtime Chicago Comic Con organizer Wizard Entertainment: “It’s but one battleground in a war the two powers are waging across the country — an epic struggle that some observers see as a contest between the forces of good and, well, not so good.”
Writer Deanna Isaacs touches upon the rise of Wizard’s Rosemont event to the second-largest comics convention in North America, and its more recent decline. She quotes a couple of local retailers who have become “disenchanted” with the show. But Wizard CEO Gareb Shamus shrugs off the complaints: “Everybody’s going to tell you this or that. You’re talking about one person. We have 1,000 vendors at our show in Chicago, and they make a lot of money.”
The Daily Herald interviews C2E2 show-runner Lance Fensterman, who says he expects between 35,000 and 40,000 attendees this weekend. The Chicago Tribune, meanwhile, offers its own preview, with eight “must-see” convention events, and brief Q&As with Alex Ross and Jeff Smith. [C2E2]