Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
SLG Publishing has been a major part of the American comics industry, helping to usher in notable creators like Charles Soule, Jhonen Vasquez and Jim Rugg. But for the past few years the publisher has been struggling.
Founder Dan Vado has been public about the company’s financial status, turning to crowdfunding platforms for help in keeping the business afloat — but with little success. He organized two unsuccessful Kickstarter campaigns in 2012, and returned this year, first with a GoFundMe effort and now with Patreon.
While none of the campaigns have reached the stated goal, Vado remains hopeful. The comics industry has witnessed numerous successful crowdfunding campaigns (even on a publisher level, such as with Fantagraphics), but SLG’s plight underscores that, unfortunately, they don’t all work out that way. But what’s so different about SLG’s situation?
LeSean Thomas’ fabled fantasy Cannon Busters series may finally be returning, only this time in animated form.
The TV animation producer/director/artist has launched a $120,000 Kickstarter campaign to fund an eight- to 10-minute animated pilot for Cannon Busters: The Animated Series, featuring contributions from the likes of Joe Madureira, Thomas Romain and Tim Yoon.
Awards | Alexis Deacon has won the 2014 Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story prize for “The River,” “a luscious, tangled, whispering kind of story” that earned him £1,000 (about $1,611 U.S.). The runners-up were Fionnuala Doran’s “Countess Markievicz” and Beth Dawson’s “After Life.” The short-story competition has been held annually since 2007 by London’s Comica Festival, publisher Jonathan Cape and The Observer newspaper. [The Observer]
Publishing | Mark Peters spotlights Archie Comics’ recent transformation from staid to startling, with titles like Afterlife With Archie and the new Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. [Salon]
Superheroes come from all walks of life: journalists, scientists, school teachers, lawyers, even fast-food workers. But what about a DJ? In The Future Prophecy, two DJ sisters take on a dystopian version of Toronto under the control of a mutant army. But they aren’t just any DJ sisters, they’re creators — and real-life DJs — Sara Simms and Melle Oh.
So far, Simms and Oh have self-published two issues of The Future Prophecy, but to produce four more they’ve turned to Kickstarter.
Graphic novels | Although BookScan’s September list of the bestselling graphic novels in bookstores is populated largely by old stalwarts — The Walking Dead, Attack on Titan, Saga, Watchmen — Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1, the only Marvel title on the chart, clung to the Top 20 in its second month of release (although it slipped from No. 4. to No. 20). Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Seconds, meanwhile, climbed in its third month to No. 6. One new manga debuted at No. 12: Noragami, about a homeless god who does odd jobs as he tries to build up his reputation; the anime is already out, which probably gave it a boost. [ICv2]
Publishing | A television reporter pays a visit to the Last Gasp offices to talk about the Kickstarter recently launched by the longtime publisher of underground comics (and other quirky books). It’s worth a look just to see the owner’s amazing collection of oddities. [NBC Bay Area]
Writer Andres Salazar puts a cool spin on the supernatural Western genre in Pariah, Missouri: The town itself anchors the book — Salazar calls it the “main character” — and he uses it as a vantage point to watch the comings and goings of an amazingly varied cast of characters, some with supernatural powers. He and artist Jose Pescador lay out the territory in Book 1, and assemble a sort of 19th-century Mod Squad to fight the forces of evil.
Salazar crowdfunded the first volume of Pariah, Missouri, on Kickstarter, and Diamond Comic Distributors picked it up for July Previews — in fact, it was a Staff Pick—and it’s available in comic shops now. He’s running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the second volume.
Robot 6: What is it about this particular time and place that intrigued you?
Andres Salazar: I wanted something different than a traditional Western, which are post-Civil War stories, usually in the 1880s, after the trains crossed the plains. I wanted it to be in the 1850s, when slavery was still present. Missouri had a unique position in the country as having both slaves and free blacks, so I wanted to explore those social dynamics. I grew up in Arkansas and traveled to Missouri many times, and there’s something special about the Midwest that I wanted to explore. It was the frontier in the 1850s, and a hotbed of various religions and folk magic. Lastly, I’m a fan of Mark Twain and his stories on the steamboats, and I wanted Pariah to be that mysterious steamboat boomtown.
Polish expat Andre Krayewski has had a long and interesting life. Born in 1933 in Stalinist Poland, de Krayeski dreamed of America and jazz music, and he expressed himself through art. With his Art Deco style, he became known in his home country for creating Polish movie posters, and he later moved to America, where he found success in the art scene. He’s best known for creating the 1997 Panasonic Jazz Festival poster, as well as paintings for the New York Film Academy.
The artist put pen to paper and wrote a-semi autobiographic novel titled Skyliner relating his jazz-loving youth in 1950s Poland. And now, at age 80, Krayewski is adapting that work for comics.
Described by his son Ed Krayewski as “a love letter to the American myth,” Skyliner is the story of a Polish teenager coming of age behind the Iron Curtain as the influence of American culture spread around the world. Krayewski adapted his story over the past two years with help from his son while undergoing dialysis treatments.
If you’ve ever had a recurring nightmare where your teeth fall out, you’re not alone. Rafer Roberts, creator of Plastic Farm, also has that same dream — and channeled it into the creation of the mischievous, tooth-stealing scamp, Nightmare the Rat.
While Nightmare the Rat, a somewhat-twisted homage to 1900s comic strips, has appeared in Magic Bullet and online, Roberts is looking to collect all the strips into one newspaper-sized collection. His Kickstarter for the project went live Tuesday and is already nearly halfway to its modest $999 goal. Rewards include the collection itself, commissions, original artwork and custom postcards from Nightmare himself.
I spoke with Roberts about the project, using Kickstarter and that recurring nightmare …
It surprised me to see Jimmy Palmiotti pursuing yet another Kickstarter in 2014, considering he had successfully completed one earlier in the year for Denver. This new one, launched this week, focuses on Sex and Violence Vol. 2.
My decision to interview the veteran writer wasn’t based on aiming to help him achieve his Kickstarter goal; he’s days, if not hours, away from achieving that. Instead, I hoped to tap into some of the knowledge that allows him to so effectively operate crowdfunding campaigns (many of the completed projects can be bought at the PaperFilms shop).
Not only did the creator offer some of the lessons learned from his past Kickstarters (hint: avoid the shipping costs from hardcover), but he also proved quite candid about the challenges of swimming in creator-owned waters. Palmiotti also was willing to elaborate about his perspective on last week’s controversy about Milo Manara Spider-Woman #1 variant cover.
Manga | Tadatoshi Fujimaki is bringing his manga Kuroko’s Basketball to an end. The final chapter will run in the Sept. 1 issue of Shonen Jump, followed in October by the release of the 29th and final collection. The manga isn’t licensed in North America (although the anime is), but it became famous worldwide after more than 400 threat letters were sent to venues in Japan hosting Kuroko’s Basketball events and to retailers selling the series. The perpetrator confessed to the crimes, and was sentenced last week to four and half years in prison. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Brian Truitt interviews two creators of Cloaks: actor David Henrie, who created the main character Adam, a street magician in New York who is recruited by a black-ops group, and Caleb Monroe, who wrote the comic. Says Monroe, “As a magician, Adam looks for underlying realities, those things many of us have forgotten or deceived ourselves about. Then he develops ways to slip those back into people’s lives disguised as entertainment.” The first issue is due out next week from BOOM! Studios. [USA Today]
Comics | Writing for The Advocate, Jase Peeples takes note of the diversity of DC Comics’ extended Batman family — from Batwoman to Batwing to Barbara Gordon’s roommate Alysia Yeoh — and talks with writers Gail Simone, Grant Morrison, Marc Andreyko, Tom Taylor and Chip Kidd. “I would like to think that people can pick up books like Batman Incorporated or The Multiversity and see their own lives reflected,” Morrison says. “But I’d always caveat that with the need for us to see more diverse writers and artists, because that’s when I think the walls will really come down. As a straight [white guy from Scotland] I can only do so much, and I find even sometimes when you do this, you do get accused of tokenism or pandering. I don’t mind it. I can put up with that, but I’d rather see a genuine spread of writers and artists creating this material.” [Advocate.com]
Awards | Mimi Pond’s Over Easy has been recognized with a PEN Center USA Literary Award for Graphic Novel Outstanding Body of Work. Previous category winners are Gilbert Hernandez, Daniel Clowes, Joe Sacco and Matt Fraction. [PEN Center USA]
Publishing | Dark Horse is planning to beef up its lineup of children’s graphic novels, which already includes such successful titles as Avatar: The Last Airbender, Plants vs. Zombies and Itty Bitty Hellboy. Four new titles are slated for 2015: Rexodus, a story about dinosaurs from outer space, and three older properties, Rod Espinosa’s Courageous Princess, Samuel Teer and Hyeondo Park’s Veda: Assembly Required, and an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Return of the Gremlins. [Publishers Weekly]
To my mind, there can never be enough all-ages comics. By all-ages, I mean comics that resonate and entertain folks of, well, all ages, not just children. So I was intrigued to learn that writer Dave Scheidt and artist Jess Smart Smiley launched a Kickstarter campaign for an all-ages horror/comedy collection of three stories, Spooky Sleepover.
Scheidt and Smiley were more than happy to explain their love of all-ages storytelling.
Eben Burgoon’s goofy comedy The B-Squad is the story of a ragtag crew sent off on various missions around the world. He brings considerable comedic energy to the story, and the twist is that a member of the squad is killed off in every issue. Burgoon chooses who to kill at random by (in real life) spinning an antique sailor’s gambling device made of whalebone.
The first issue was funded on Kickstarter, and you can download it for free from the shop at the B-Squad website. Now Burgoon is running another, more ambitious Kickstarter to fund the rest of a six-issue run and print it as a graphic novel. In Issue 2 (which was privately funded) and Issue 3, the story takes place in Tapigami, the masking-tape world of real-life artist Danny Scheible; the team is sent to rescue Bill Murray, who has been kidnapped by the artist.
Crime | Kazutoshi Iwama, the 50-year-old man accused of shoplifting a Tetsujin-28 go figure worth more than $2,400 from a Mandarake store in Tokyo, has turned himself in to police. The theft became a matter of high public interest when Mandarake posted a security-camera photo of the man, with his face pixelated, and threatened to show his face if he didn’t return the figure by Aug. 12. The stunt attracted scores of journalists to the store, but Iwama reportedly told police he wasn’t aware of the threat until after he sold the figure to a secondhand store … for about $623. [Anime News Network, The Japan Times]
Publishing | Alex Segura, senior vice president of publicity and marketing for Archie Comics and editor of the newly renamed Dark Circle superhero line, talks about where the comics are coming from, what to expect — and his new dual role at Archie: “Usually, I’m the PR guy collecting the information from editorial and deciding how to announce it. Now, I was the editor getting the details together for the PR guy to announce and basically having conversations with myself. I’m exaggerating slightly.” [13th Dimension]