"U.S.Avengers": A Guide to Marvel's New Patriotic Superhero Team
Legal | Iranian political cartoonist Atena Farghadani and her lawyer Mohammad Moghimi have been acquitted on charges of “non-adultery illegitimate relations.” The charges were brought after the two shook hands during one of Moghimi’s visits to Farghadani in prison, where she’s serving a 13-year sentence for drawing a cartoon critical of the Iranian parliament. The “illegitimate relations” charges carried a maximum penalty of 99 lashes, and in the course of the investigation, Farghadani was subjected to involuntary pregnancy and virginity tests. She’s not out of the woods yet, however: The prosecutor could appeal the acquittal. [CBLDF]
Conventions | ReedPOP Senior Vice President Lance Fensterman looks back at New York Comic Con 2015, which drew 167,000 people over four days; the increase came from making Thursday a full day, he says. Fensterman also offers some thoughts on conventions in general, saying the market is starting to become saturated, but not in terms of fans, who will always go to a cool show: “I think the saturation is more so on the side of content, and by content, I mean exhibitors, brands, guests, studios,” he says. “They don’t need that many shows.” Dealers will always show up, but, Fensterman says, “Fans don’t want to pay a ticket price to come in to spend money. There needs to be content that is engaging, exciting and unique. And there’s a limited quantity on that.” [ICv2]
Crowdfunding | A new report released by Kickstarter shows that about 9 percent of the projects on the crowdfunding platform failed to deliver the promised rewards. While that is fairly consistent across all categories, comics do appear to do a bit better than most. Another interesting tidbit: Projects that raise less than $1,000 are the most likely to fail. [Kickstarter]
Creators | Writer Kyle Higgins talks about his new Power Rangers comic, Green Ranger: Year One, which focuses on the Ranger who was originally a villain before reforming and joining the team: “Basically, in going the modernization route I decided that I didn’t really want to jump in and tell new origins of the Power Rangers or anything like that. So looking at the introduction of the Green Ranger to the team, of him joining the team, was the window that I took for the story in order to get us into the world.” [Hero Complex]
Image Comics has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive first look at C.O.W.L. #8, by Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel and Rod Reis, which sees the cast of the series — the Chicago Organized Workers League — mourning the loss of one of their own. The issue arrives Jan. 28, continuing the series’ second arc.
Publishing | Viz Media’s Kevin Hamric discusses how the availability of streaming anime has been boosting sales of the related manga. Series that have gotten a boost lately include Blue Exorcist and Kamisama Kiss: “Overall streaming has had a positive effect on our book sales. In recent years, Blue Exorcist is probably the biggest example I can give — one of newest hits under our Shonen Jump Advanced imprint. We launched our series [in 2010] and had very good sales (they matched our expectations), but once the anime was available through streaming, sales jumped through the roof, and that was in 2011. So streaming was fairly young at that time. Once the anime was streaming, sales of the manga were way above expectations.” [ICv2]
Retailing | The rental chain Tsutaya and the bookstore chain Yurindo have returned Kuroko’s Basketball books and DVDs to their shelves after “X-Day,” Nov. 4, passed without incident. Someone has sent hundreds of threatening letters to convention sites, bookstores, the media and Sophia University (the alma mater of Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki), over the past year, and the most recent batch of letters said that “X-Day will be on the final day of the [Sophia University] school festival.” Meanwhile, police are checking security cameras near all the mailboxes in the districts from which the letters were mailed, looking for suspicious people. [Anime News Network]
Comics | Brian Steinberg looks at Archie Comics’ most radical move yet: the relatively adult Afterlife with Archie, which literally turned America’s most iconic teenagers into zombies. Steinberg talks to Archie CEO Jon Goldwater, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, artist Francesco Francavilla and others about the significance of this comic, which sold almost 65,000 copies to the direct market. [Variety]
Events | The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at Ohio State University steps into the spotlight for the Grand Opening Festival of Cartoon Art, which celebrates the library’s move to a new 30,000-square-foot home on campus. The library’s extensive collection includes more than 300,000 original comic strips, 29,000 comic books, 45,000 books and 2,400 boxes of manuscripts, personal papers and the like. The festival, held today through Sunday, includes such guests as Eddie Campbell, Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Herandez, Jeff Smith, Paul Pope, Hilary Price, Kazu Kibuishi and Dylan Meconis. [The Associated Press, The Columbus Dispatch, Columbus Alive]
Creators | Art Spiegelman talks about history, Maus, and being the creator of Maus: “I have to keep moving as best I can through the shadow of something that I’m glad I had pass through me.” [Tablet]
Despite the efforts of Nightwing writer Kyle Higgins to put to rest rumors that Dick Grayson will die as a result of DC Comics’ Villains Month, the whispers continue, in no small part because there’s no issue of the series in September.
“Nightwing doesn’t have a book that month, but we’re back after September,” Higgins assured CBR TV last month. “We’re back with October. Actually, the finale of the first arc in Chicago with the Prankster and Tony Zucco, that culminates in October with Issue 24. We’re still around, we’re doing our thing.”
Every month there are hundreds of new comics and graphic novels released, and dozens if not scores of them are noteworthy for one reason or another. Sadly, no matter how much time one spends reading comics, there are only so many hours in a day, and blog posts in a month. Here then are shorter reviews of every new graphic novel or somehow interesting or important new comic I read in July that I didn’t get a chance to cover.
Flowers of Evil, Vol. 6 (Vertical): Each successive volume of Shuzo Oshimi’s increasingly psycho psychodrama has upped the ante considerably, ending with a cliffhanger that positions our protagonist Takao on the precipice of some new, life-altering, no-turning-back-now crisis. This one’s no different, but now that the series in its sixth volume, the stakes don’t seem like they can get any higher.
Takao and the two young women in his life — troubled troublemaker Nakamura and his one-time crush and former model student Saeki — are all growing more and more psychologically unbalanced. Saeki seems to grow even more fixated on Takao the more he spurns her and becomes more fixated on Nakamura, ultimately even showing one of the “Something’s maybe not quite right with this lady” signs from Single White Female.
This volume opens with a police investigation of the events of the last volume, continues with Takao and Saeki both going a little nuts as they suffer withdrawal from the people they’re respectively obsessed with, features Takao’s parents trying to take a hard line and get him back under control, has Nakamura committing, threatening and asking for violence done with a baseball bat and climaxes with Takao and Nakamura about to engage in a violent public act that, if not actually terrorism, has gotta be getting pretty close to it.
Digital comics | Financial-services company The Motley Fool touches upon how digital has helped to boost the comics industry, rather than undermine print sales as some predicted it would. “Digital has not to anyone’s observation pirated the sales of comics. It looks like just the opposite,” writer and charts-watcher John Jackson Miller tells the website. And then, because it’s The Motley Fool, the story veers off into what investors can learn from digital comics — specifically, “three forces [that] conspired to transform digital from a threat into a catalyst”: quality, format and access. [The Motley Fool]
Creators | Brian K. Vaughan talks about producing the CBS sci-fi thriller Under the Dome and writing Saga as well as his digital comic The Private Eye. His take on Saga: “I definitely wanted to write about the experience of fatherhood and parenthood while also recognizing that’s extremely boring for most people. How do you talk about these mundane topics in an exciting way? Hopefully setting this story in a wacky sci-fi fantasy universe has given us room to tell this story with some visual spectacle and just Fiona Staples being awesome.” [USA Today]
DC Comics’ digital-first series Batman Beyond and Justice League Beyond will get new creative teams this summer, which will also see the official debut of the Batgirl of the future.
IGN.com reports Nightwing writer Kyle Higgins and Venom artist Thony Silas will take the reins of Batman Beyond, with Sean Murphy and Jordie Bellaire providing covers, while Avengers Academy writer Christos Gage and Superboy artist Iban Coello will take over Justice League Beyond. JT Krul and Howard Porter will remain on Superman Beyond.
However, before Higgins and Silas make their debut, writer Scott Peterson and artist Annie Wu will introduce the future Batgirl, who’s said to have a good working relationship with Commissioner Barbara Gordon, in her own story arc in July.
Whether due to use-it-or-lose-it legal concerns about trademarks, or simply to remind everyone of exactly what it owns, DC Comics has come up with a variety of ways to recycle old titles, ranging from the 1997 Tangent event to the anthologies Mystery in Space and Ghosts to the short-lived National Comics revival.
This week the company brought back Young Romance, the title of the Joe Simon/Jack Kirby-created comic that was published from 1947 to 1975, as a Valentine’s Day special featuring a half-dozen stories of romance in the New 52 DC Universe.
An interesting mix of creators are involved, an interesting enough mix to merit a look at what they might do with some of these characters and couples in eight pages. So join me for mini-reviews of every story in Young Romance: The New 52 Valentine’s Day Special.
Awards | Matt Bors is the 2012 winner of the Herblock Award, and the first alternative political cartoonist to do so, according to the Herb Block Foundation. The award includes a $15,000 prize — and that’s $15,000 after taxes, which is mighty thoughtful of them. “The prize money is extremely generous and important, as it is more than I’ve ever made in a year from my editorial cartoons,” said Bors, who plans to use it to upgrade his website. The finalist for the prize is Jen Sorensen, creator of Slowpoke and also an alternative cartoonist; she gets a $5,000 prize. [Comic Riffs]
Awards | The Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo, or SPACE, has announced the winners of its annual awards, which will be presented April 21 at the convention in Columbus, Ohio. Winners include Diabetes Funnies by Colin Upton, Sing, Sing by Paul Zdepski, and Spoilers by Kevin Czapiewski. [SPACE]
Writer Douglas Rushkoff repurposes the familiar acronym for the title of this original graphic novel, only here it stands for Adolescent Demo Division rather than Attention Deficit Disorder (although the association with the original definition is certainly attentional, and somewhat apropos).
The kids of this ADD are professional beta testers and something of a focus group as intentional society. They were raised from the cradle to test things, and to compete as the athletes of the near-future, where video game competitions are apparently the dominant professional sport.
Something’s a little off with these kids though, as civilians and their competitors all notice and never fail to point out, and they all seem to have some sort of developing superpower, as well. Protagonist Lionel can see through electronic information and codes of all kinds to the message and intent behind, his friend Takai can build and un-build just about anything, and so on.
When some of the kids themselves discover something’s off regarding their origins and the company that keeps them pampered prisoners, they try to escape. Rushkoff’s plot is well-structured, if quite familiar and predictable, and he obviously put a lot of care into crafting the near-future slang of the teens, most of which struck me more as funny than convincing (“Dekh” for decode, “Kopa” for cool by way of copacetic, “nexy” for a blend of new, next and sexy, etc).
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Publishing | Jennifer de Guzman announced that, after 10 years, she has left her position as editor-in-chief of SLG Publishing: “My decade SLG was, I suspect, like no other decade anyone has spent working anywhere. I had great co-workers and got to work with fantastic creators, all of whom I will miss very much. (Though because this is comics and a community like no other, we will always stay in contact.)” [Possible Impossibilities]
Retailing | Chris Powell, current general manager and chief relationship officer for Texas-based comic chain Lone Star Comics, has accepted the newly created position of executive director of business development for Diamond Comic Distributors. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund board member will start his new position in March. [ICv2]