EXCL. PREVIEW: "Hal Jordan & the Green Lantern Corps" #1 Enforces 'Sinestro's Law'
Passings | Nine Culliford, the woman who made the Smurfs blue, died on July 5 at the age of 86. Nine met Pierre Culliford, the artist who would later take the pen name Peyo, in 1946, the same year his first cartoon was published. Nine was the colorist for the Smurfs from their first appearance in “Johan et Pirlouit” (English title: “Johan and Peewit”) in 1958 until her husband’s death in 1992, and she continued to be active on Smurf projects after her son Thierry and her daughter Véronique took over. It was Nine who came up with the idea of coloring the Smurfs blue, as she felt the color would stand out agains the green, wooded backgrounds of the comic. [The Blue Print]
Comics | Sales of comics and graphic novels have crashed through the $1 billion threshold, according to calculations by Milton Griepp of ICv2 and John Jackson Miller of Comichron. That includes $350 million in sales through retail book channels, $90 million in digital, and $20 million in newsstand sales, with the rest coming through the direct market. Griepp and Miller estimate that graphic novels account for $535 million in sales and serial comics for $405 million. Griepp attributed the growth in sales to increased attention to comics properties from the media and an expanding audience, as more women and children come to the medium. [ICv2]
In the 1980s, Mike Baron flipped the superhero genre on its head with Nexus, a comic about a reluctant executioner of mass murderers. Meanwhile, on television, a bunch of surprisingly dark characters were running missions in a futuristic helicopter on Airwolf. Now, 30 years later, Baron has written a story for the upcoming Airwolf graphic novel, which will be released in August by Lion Forge.
Baron came up with an interesting twist for the Airwolf comic, pitting the high-tech chopper against some very low-tech World War II-era planes. He’s also still writing new Nexus comics, and artist Steve Rude is running a Kickstarter campaign to publish the newest story online and in print.
Baron spoke with ROBOT 6 about Airwolf, Nexus and his other projects, and he threw in some advice about writing comics as well.
Awards | Roz Chast won the Reuben Award for cartoonist of the year, presented over the weekend in Washington, D.C., by the National Cartoonists Society. Divisional award winners of note include Jules Feiffer (Kill My Mother) for Graphic Novel, Jason Latour (Southern Bastards) for Comic Book, Danielle Corsetto (Girls with Slingshots) for Online Comics-Short Form, Minna Sundberg (Stand Still, Stay Silent) for Online Comics-Long Form, Hilary Price (Rhymes with Orange) for Newspaper Panel Cartoon, and Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine) for Newspaper Comic Strip. [National Cartoonists Society]
The upstart comics publisher Lion Forge has launched launched a new entry in the classic magical girl genre with its new series Crystal Cadets.
Created by writer Anne Toole and artist Katie O’Neill, Crystal Cadets follows a middle-school student named Zoe who’s gifted a magical crystal that gives her powers and membership in an elite but discreet sisterhood called (of course) the Crystal Cadets. Featuring members pulled from across the globe, this multicultural story shows these girls of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds learning and mastering special abilities in pursuit of a better life for themselves and their world.
Comics | Vincent Zurzolo of Metropolis Collectibles explains why he and his partner Stephen Fishler were willing to pay a record $3.2 million last month for a pristine copy of Action Comics #1: “We feel very confidently this was a good price and that we will be able to sell this for a profit. We really believe in the strength of the comic book market and that it has a long way to go.” Zurzolo also talks about how he built up his business, starting out selling comics at conventions at the age of 15. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Legal | More trouble for Square Enix over the gamer manga Hi Score Girl: Publication was suspended last month following allegations the series, which runs in the Japanese magazine Monthly Big Gangan, had used characters owned by the game company SNK Playmore without permission. Now it turns out Square Enix asked permission from Sega to use characters from its Virtua Fighter game, but then went ahead and published the story before permission was granted. Sega executives “strongly objected” but took no further action and did grant the permission, reasoning it would be good publicity for the game. [Anime News Network]
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]
The motion-comics platform Madefire announced this morning that four more comics publishers have signed on: Arcana, Archie Comics, Lion Forge and Seraphim.
There’s a definite skew toward horror in this announcement: The first Archie title to go on the platform is the zombie comic Afterlife With Archie, the Arcana title mentioned is The Intrinsic, and Seraphim is the publisher of horror writer Clive Barker’s work. The outlier is Lion Forge, which is best known as the creator of digital-first adaptations of 1980s TV shows; its first Madefire comic will apparently be Knight Rider.
That shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as Madefire seems determined to make motion comics for adult readers. The current lineup includes Tom Taylor’s dark Batman/Superman story Injustice: Gods Among Us, as well as Batman: Arkham Origins, Hellboy in Hell and Infinite Crisis.
Madefire is available as an iOS app and on DeviantART. It’s not unlike Thrillbent, although the Madefire comics I’ve read have more aggressive animation. On Thrillbent, each swipe makes one thing happen — a panel is revealed, a word balloon appears, the background shifts somehow. Madefire also works on swipes (or page turns on DeviantART), but several things may happen with each page turn, so the reader is a little less in control of the timing. That may be a plus in horror comics, because it allows the creator to surprise the reader in a way that can’t really happen on the printed page.
Legal | Signe Wilkinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, has been named in a defamation lawsuit filed against the newspapers by Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery and his wife Lise Rapaport. The judge and his wife accuse the two papers of running a smear campaign against them, and the suit specifically mentions a Wilkinson cartoon satirizing their marital and work relationship (it’s complicated). Blogger Alan Gardner adds that he hasn’t been able to find a case in which a cartoonist was successfully sued for defamation, although in this case the newspapers’ reporting is part of the issue as well. [Philadelphia, The Daily Cartoonist]