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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]
Some comic book heroes enjoyed their heydays well before toymakers began churning out action figures, and therefore never found a place on shelves beside the likes of Superman, Batman and Captain America. However, Bill Murphy hopes to change that with his Amazing Heroes Kickstarter campaign.
With a goal of $30,000, Murphy plans to produce a line of action figures based on the Black Terror, the original Daredevil, Stardust and other Golden Age heroes that have lapsed into the public domain. He says he even has the permission of the rights holders of Captain Action, a toy introduced in the mid-’60s, to produce a figure based on that character.
Dan Brereton was one of the first creators to bring painted art from the covers of comics to their interiors, and now he wants to put some of that art onto bookshelves and coffee tables. He’s putting the finishing touches on his fourth hardcover art collection, titled Enchantress, and is offering a limited edition to 250 of his most ardent fans.
Brereton and art collector Steve Morger have taken to Kickstarter looking to raise $3,000 to publish and, in effect, sell these limited edition versions of Enchantress — and they’ve already met their goal five times over. The limited-edition Enchantress Kickstarter has raised more than $17,000, with 19 days to go, with many of the supporters jumping in on the high-dollar rewards like original paintings. Brereton and Morger plan to announce stretch goals after they return from Comic-Con International
Here’s an example of some of the art from Enchantress:
Things appear to be going well for collaborators Evan Young and Lou Iovino: Not only are they in the final hours of a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the second volume of their alternate-history thriller The Last West, they’ve signed a deal with Outlier, whose founders’ producing credits include the Twilight and Percy Jackson film series.
The agreement gives Outlier to the exclusive rights to shop the property to film studios, television networks, financiers and the like.
“Lou and I are really ecstatic about working with Outlier and having them shopping the comic around Hollywood,” Young told ROBOT 6. “It’s clear that they think the basic premise of the story holds the potential to intrigue the masses. But even more important to us is that Outlier is right on board with the fact that The Last West isn’t totally whiz-bang. It’s a slower-burn, character-driven story to sink your teeth into — the way Lost was, for example. Outlier gets this 100 percent. So combine that with the fact that Outlier clearly knows their business, have a proven track record with some mega-hit movies behind them. … Man, we really can’t wait to see where it goes.”
If your standard comics-reading experience, whether in print or online, has gotten a bit humdrum, perhaps Modern Polaxis is the solution.
The brainchild of Australian artist Sutu, it’s the story of a paranoid time traveler, presented as his private journal, brought to life in an augmented reality comic book. Polaxis hides all of his secrets and conspiracy theories within its pages — in the “augmented reality layer” — which can be discovered by readers with an iPhone or an iPad and a free app (a beta version is available from the iTunes store).
Sutu has finished about 20 pages of illustrations and animation, and now he’s turning to Kickstarter to help complete the project.
The artist teamed with Luke Crane (The Burning Wheel, Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game) to develop a two-player strategy game based on the one from the comics. And now that it’s been play-tested, they’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to make Mouse Guard: Swords & Strongholds a reality.
“The game is played on a board with a grid,” Petersen explains on his blog. “Mouse pawns reside on the grid intersections (mostly) and are moved in conjunction with cards: Swords, Diplomacy, and Strongholds. Each card allows the mouse you are moving an ability beyond it’s normal movement. We came up with something that is a 2 player light strategy game that is pretty easy to learn and can scale in difficulty with the skill levels of the players.”
The Kickstarter set will feature a wooden board, eight plastic pawns, 30 cards (drawn by Petersen) and illustrated rules sheet, in a cardboard box. A deluxe set, produced by Skelton Crew Studios, will include an oversized board and box, both made of cherry wood, and eight plated pewter mouse pawns.A day into the campaign, and it’s already raised more than $7,900 of its $18,000 goal, which likely means the June Alley Inn will be filled with the sounds Swords & Strongholds before long. Pledge incentives include signed games, original card art, original box-cover art (already gone), and the deluxe version of the game.
What a difference seven years makes! When Todd Allen published the previous edition of his book, the title reflected the digital comics scene at the time: The Economics of Web Comics. Even more tellingly, he didn’t produce an eBook version — it was print -only.
The world of digital comics has spun around on its axis several times since then, and Allen, who writes about digital comics for The Beat and has taught e-business courses at Columbia College in Chicago, is now working on a major revision of his book, now titled The Economics of Digital Comics. And this time, he’s funding it through Kickstarter, another major force in the comics industry that didn’t exist seven years ago. We asked Allen how he constructed his Kickstarter, what his plans are for the book, and where he thinks digital comics are going.
Robot 6: First of all, congratulations on exceeding your goal! You started with a very modest goal of $500, and as of this writing your backers have almost tripled it. It doesn’t seem like a lot of money — what will you use it for?
Todd Allen: I definitely took the minimum-costs route on this. I need to set up a couple files with my print-on-demand provider. I may or may not upgrade some software — I’ll worry about that when I’ve got everything written and am ready to go into production. Could I have counted my labor for the book and time spent running a Kickstarter toward the cost and put the goal at something like $12,000? There’s a case to be made for it. I’m doing a Kickstarter Campaign Diary over at Publishers Weekly, and this week’s installment is about setting the pricing and goals.
Lark and Eagle are two down-on-their-luck heroes just looking for a break — and they find one in Hero Overhaul, a TV reality show that upgrades their powers and spruces up their public images. Now they have an opportunity to redeem themselves for a prime-time audience.
That’s the premise of Lark and Eagle, the superhero comic created and written by Steve Johnson, who’s launched a Kickstarter campaign to make the first issue a reality. He’s joined by Toro Diego (pencils), Mickey Clausen (inks), Matt Webb (colors), Ed Dukeshire (letters) and J.K. Woodward (cover).
Publishing | Comics archivist and publisher Rachel Richey will launch a Kickstarter campaign in September to fund a collection of Johnny Canuck comics. Created by Leo Bachie and published from 1941 to 1946 by Dime Comics, the character was a super-patriotic hero who once fought Hitler mano-a-mano. Richey was behind last year’s successful Kickstarter to revive another uniquely Canadian character, Nelvana of the North. [Global News]
Digital comics | Todd Allen chats with the Madefire folks about branching out to Windows 8; they launched a free five-issue Transformers motion comics on Windows 8 just last week. Madefire is also available on iOS and via DeviantArt. [Publishers Weekly]
[Editor’s note: Every Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss “The best in comics from the last seven days” — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
While I am no master of the vertical pole, and while I’m sure that attempting something like “The Superman” would result in several slipped disks, a concussion, and a few suspicious bruises, I quite liked Leen Isabel’s webcomic Pole Dancing Adventures. It explored pole dancing from the point of view of someone who sees it as an athletic activity, breaking down popular perception that it’s something anyone should be ashamed about. It also provided some nifty tips and tricks — again, something I and my ungrateful 200-pound frame would never attempt. Still, an enjoyable peek into the finesse involved.
Retailing | A federal judge has lifted a temporary restraining order blocking the $21.4 million sale of retail chain Hastings Entertainment to Joel Weinshanker, president and sole shareholder of Wizkids parent National Entertainment Collectibles Association. Two Hastings shareholders had sued to stop the sale, insisting the price paid for the retailer is too low; however, U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson found, in part, that they failed to prove they would be irreparably harmed if the sale were completed before they could have their day in court (Texas law permits dissenting stockholders to seek monetary damages after a merger). Hastings, which operates 149 stores that sell books, comics, video games and more, has called a special shareholder meeting for July 15, during which the sale is expected to be approved. [Amarillo Globe-News, ICv2.com]