When screenwriter Glenn Farrington took a crack at comics, he quickly discovered that while there’s plenty of software designed to make film and television writing easier, there’s nothing like that specifically for comic books. So he turned to his friend Steven Stashen to create ComiXwriter, which they calling “the world’s first software dedicated to writing scripts for comic books and graphic novels.” In essence, it aims to be for comic scribes what Final Draft is for screenwriters.
And now they’ve taken to Kickstarter to raise $35,000 to fund ComiXwriter.
We’ve seen superheroes face all sorts of obstacles, and one man is showing how comics can face down a real-world threat: cancer. Writer/artist Joe Martino has been creating comics since at least 1996, when he launched his independent series Shadowflame. But when he was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma cancer, it became an uphill battle to keep doing what he loved. And now he’s using those events as the basis for a superhero series called The Mighty Titan.
“It was a tough decision to take some of my personal experiences and put them to paper in order to entertain and possibly allow people a glimpse of what some of us go through while battling this potentially deadly disease,” Martino said in a press release.
Documentary filmmaker Miguel Cima has a passion for comics and wonders why more people don’t. It’s a valid, perplexing question considering the variety of genres and formats they come in. Comics are much more ubiquitous in Japan and Europe, so what’s preventing them from taking hold the same way in the United States?
Cima explored that some in his 2008 short documentary Dig Comics (Tim O’Shea interviewed Cima about it for Robot 6 at the time). You can watch the entire, 20-minute film, which includes interviews with Jeph Loeb and Scott Shaw, below.
The filmmaker wants to do more than just ask the questions, however: He also wants to help figure out the solution. To that end, launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a feature-length version of Dig Comics. The $250,000 budget includes filming in New York City, France and Japan to gather more insight into the history of American comics and what makes comics so popular overseas. The feature is just a step in Cima’s larger plans, though. If it’s successful, he’d also like to develop a television series to continue the campaign to make comics as popular in North America as they are in other places and once were here.
Megatokyo blasted into the manga/webcomics scene in 2000 and quickly became established as one of the first successful non-Japanese manga — so successful that it was translated and published in Japan. The story of two clueless American otaku who go to Tokyo on a whim and have a series of increasingly absurd encounters with the locals, the webcomic picked up a following during the manga boom and apparently never lost it: Creator Fred Gallagher’s Kickstarter to make a visual novel version of Megatokyo has raised more than $130,000 (at this writing, it is at an evil 666 percent of the original $20,000 goal) in less than a week.
And in the Kickstarter pitch, Gallagher has another bit of news for Megatokyo fans: Dark Horse will publish an omnibus edition of the first three volumes later this year.
Washington-based artist Clayton Crain has carved out a niche for himself in comics over the past 15 years with his distinctive, sinewy digital art on the likes of Ghost Rider, X-Force and Carnage. But that wasn’t always his style, and he wants to pull back the curtain to show his evolution as an artist in a new book called Evolver.
Announced today with a a Kickstarter campaign, Evolver is a 48-page hardcover profiling Crain’s work from the age of 15 all the way to his current output for Valiant. The 8-inch by12-inch book will include sketchwork, high school-era art and excerpts from Crain’s forthcoming creator-owned Into a Rift. His influences are deep in the vein of Todd McFarlane and Henry Stinson, and this book will show you Crain’s dynamic evolution from his high-school days as an early Image fanboy into the 2000s, where he found his own signature style and even did work alongside McFarlane. Crain hopes to raise $10,400 by Aug. 10, and have the finished book available in November.
Back in 2008, Brad Guigar, Scott Kurtz, Dave Kellett and Kris Straub co-authored How to Make Webcomics. There weren’t too many other books on the topic then (and it looks from Amazon like there haven’t been many since), and with the backing of some of the biggest names in webcomics, How to Make Webcomics became the standard reference.
The world moves quickly, though, and the past five years have brought us the iPad, comics on tablets in general, social media, same-day releases for almost all major comics, Kickstarte, and the demise of DC’s Zuda and of Joey Manley’s Webcomics Nation group of webcomics sites. It’s a different world, and it’s time for a different book.
Now Guigar, flying solo, is producing that book, and he’s doing it via Kickstarter. The Webcomics Handbook is a sequel to How to Make Webcomics, and it’s based in part on Guigar’s subscription-only website Webcomics.com. I asked Guigar to explain what he is doing with this book, why he is doing it on Kickstarter, and how the webcomics scene has changed from his insider point of view.
Artist Darryl Banks wowed people with his run on Green Lantern in the 1990s. Working alongside writer Ron Marz, he co-created Kyle Rayner, both the ire and admiration of fans at the time. But after a 16-year career as a full-time cartoonist, Banks stepped away from the industry in 2004. Sure, he’s popped up here and there, doing one-off issues like the great Green Lantern: Retroactive, but he’s not been seen in much else. But that’s changing.
With a Kickstarter launching late last night, Horizon’s End is a graphic novel by Banks and two longtime comic fans named Daron Kappauff and Chris Celloiacono, who are looking to break into the industry with this creator-owned effort. The duo assembled quite a team, looping in Banks as well as other veterans like letterer Troy Peteri and colorist Moose Baumann; the project even boasts cover art by Stephane Roux. Owing some to Banks’ past in space-faring stories, Horizon’s End is described by the writers as an epic in the vein of classic space opera and sci-fi adventure stories. It follows a teenage girl named Andara out to avenge the murder of her loved ones while also coming to terms with her recent emancipation from slavery.
“Simple-minded backwaterman” Alan Moore has made an appeal on Kickstarter to fund “His Heavy Heart,” the final installment in a series of short films known as Jimmy’s End. It’s written by Moore, directed by Mitch Jenkins, and produced by Lex Projects.
As the acclaimed comics writer explains in the video (below), the five shorts form the foundation of a planned feature-length film called The Show. Money pledged toward the £45,000 (about $70,678) goal will go toward the completion of “His Heavy Heart”; all additional funds “will go into further development of the existing series and towards the forthcoming feature film.”
Pledge incentives range from a limited-edition movie poster and an exclusive T-shirt to signed copies of Moore’s screenplays and a visit to the set. The campaign, which has raised £3,662 in a matter of hours, ends July 17.
– retailer Brian Hibbs, describing a troubling relationship between Kickstarter success and retail success.
He sees two reasons for this. I’m sort of putting words into his mouth, but I think I’m close to his first point by saying that once the book comes out in stores, everyone’s tired of hearing about it. He notes that it’s not impossible to get a second wave of attention going, but it’s tough to do.
His second reason is that once Kickstarter serves the needs of a comic’s most passionate readers, the only people left to buy it are –by definition — the less-passionate ones. Again, that doesn’t spell instant doom, especially for someone who’s able to overcome Hibbs’ first observation and successfully launch a second round of publicity, but it’s still a stark warning. There’s more to long-term success than just having a great Kickstarter.
Legal | The Malaysian cartoonist Zunar has appealed a court decision upholding his 2010 arrest and detention, claiming police acted in bad faith when they arrested him under the Sedition Act because of his book Cartoon-O-Phobia, which had not yet been released at the time of his arrest. No charges were ever filed, as the police could not identify any actual seditious content in the books. A court ruled in July 2012 that Zunar’s arrest was lawful but ordered the police to return the books they had confiscated and pay him damages. An appellate court will hear the case next week. [The Comics Reporter]
Publishing | Heidi MacDonald takes a look at Marvel’s new graphic novel line, which will launch in October with Warren Ellis and Mike McKone’s Avengers: Endless Wartime. [Publishers Weekly]
Awards | Editor Justin Hall won the 2013 Lambda Literary Award for best anthology for his No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics, marking the first time a graphic novel has been honored in that category. Now in their 25th year, the Lambda Literary Awards recognize the best in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender literature. “”I’m thrilled that the Lambdas have made such a strong statement recognizing comics as a legitimate literary medium that has told powerful stories of LGBT lives, loves, and identities for the last four decades,” Hall said. “This is a validation of a tremendous amount of work, and of an artistic community that truly deserves its time in the spotlight!” [San Francisco Guardian]
Events | Calvin Reid writes the most comprehensive report yet on the comics scene at last week’s BookExpo America. [Publishers Weekly]
Conventions | Attendance at Denver Comic Con topped 48,000, well over last year’s total of 27,700. Crowds were so heavy on opening day that the fire marshal and convention staff turned away 6,000 people. Guests included Star Trek‘s William Shatner (who was filling in for a double-booked Stan Lee) and George Takei, who stayed late on Friday so every fan could get an autograph. [The Denver Post]
Creators | Gilbert Hernandez talks about Marble Season, which is quite a departure from his previous graphic novels: “I’d been doing too many zombies and too much horror and crime, and I wanted to back off and do something pleasant. But I thought, can I do a pleasant story? And the only pleasant story I have is good memories from childhood. I wanted to connect to readers in a more genial way.” [The Telegraph]
Legal | Former comics retailer Michael George has lost his appeal for a new trial. He was convicted twice for the 1990 murder of his wife, first in 2008 and then in a 2011 retrial. George is serving life in prison without parole. [The Macomb Daily]
Creators | John Sutter profiles Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat, whose hands were broken by government troops in an (unsuccessful) attempt to keep him from ever drawing again. [CNN]
Creators | Michael Diana, the first artist in the United States to be convicted of obscenity (for his comic Boiled Angel), returns to Miami after more than 20 years for a show of his work at the Miami Art Museum — which paid his remaining fines so he could enter the state without risk of arrest. [Miami New Times]
Less than 24 hours after its launch, a Kickstarter campaign by Jeremy Kirby to fund a coffee table book devoted to his legendary grandfather Jack Kirby has already exceeded its $7,500 goal.
Titled The Life and Times of Jack Kirby, the hardcover will feature hundreds of personal photographs and artwork, and a never-before-seen play written by Jack Kirby called Frog Prince.
“Years ago (1997 to be exact) I wrote a screenplay and shared it with my grandmother,” Jeremy writes. “She did what every grandmother would do after reading her grandson’s story and told me how wonderful it was. But then she stopped for a moment as if pausing to think. She had me wait where I was and I saw her go into her closet. She reached into a box that was on a shelf and pulled out a dusty old folder. She handed it to me and said ‘your grandfather would have wanted you to have this.’ It was a play that he had written. I have since showed the play to friends of the family and not one had ever heard of its existence.”
Manga | Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump has announced that One Piece will go on hiatus for the magazine’s next two issues because creator Eiichiro Oda has been hospitalized for a peritonsillar abscess, a complication of tonsillitis. The popular series is expected to return June 10. One Piece, which has been serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump since 1997, has sold more than 280 million volumes in Japan alone. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly share their thoughts (and sometimes disagree) on their own world, the comics world in general, and digital media. [National Post]