SDCC: Marvel's "Doctor Strange" Combats "Death and Pain" in New Trailer
Comic Books, Film
Digital Comics | Digital comics sales dropped 10% in 2015, according to calculations by the geek-industry retail site ICv2. This is the first decline since the category started to take off in 2010. “Industry participants” offered a number of possible explanations for this, including the leveling-off of new tablet and e-reader purchases and competition from Humble Bundle and other bundle services. Conspicuously not mentioned is comiXology’s decision, in spring of 2014, to eliminate in-app purchases on iOS devices, removing the most convenient way to buy comics from the most popular platform. The article does mention that sales through the Google Play store and direct digital sales from publishers of DRM-free comics had increased, although they are still a small segment of the industry. Also, e-book sales in general are down. Despite all this, ICv2 calculates that digital sales totaled $90 million last year, which is still pretty good considering that the market was just $1 million in 2009. [ICv2]
Conventions | New York Comic Con will extend the party with a series of events tagged “NYCC Presents,” running from October 3-9 (the con itself is October 6-9). The events include a “We the Heroes” Ball, Doctor Who costume and trivia contest, a live episode of “Game Grumps,” and “Shipwreck Presents: A Literary Erotic Fanfic Competition based on William Goldman’s The Princess Bride.” All events require separate tickets—your NYCC badge won’t get you in. [New York Comic Con]
Comics | “Dick Tracy” writer Mike Curtis has donated his 17,000-piece collection of Superman memorabilia to the Cleveland Public Library, which will establish a permanent exhibit dedicated to the Man of Steel. Some of Curtis’ items date back to as early as 1939. The library is applying for grants to preserve and restore the collectibles, and hopes to have some of them on display by November. The Man of Steel was of course created by Cleveland by high school friends Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. [The Columbus Dispatch]
Anime Expo, the largest anime convention in North America, ended yesterday, and after a flurry of news on Friday, there were more announcements over the weekend: Yen Press will publish the manga “Erased” and “Bungo Stray Dogs,” Kodansha Comics has an “Attack on Titan” themed choose-your-own-adventure book in the works, Viz will continue to publish the “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” manga, and Vertical has licensed the “Nisimonogatari” light novels.
Yen Press had already announced a number of new licenses, but at a panel sponsored by the Japanese publisher Kadokawa, they revealed two more: The time-travel story “Erased” and the action manga “Bungō Stray Dogs.” Anime based on both series are currently available on Crunchyroll. Earlier this year, Kadokawa purchased a 51% share of Yen Press, making it a joint venture with the original owner, Hachette. At the same time, Kadokawa announced a partnership with Crunchyroll. At the panel, Yen Press publisher Kurt Hassler said Yen manga and light novels are now available digitally on Kadokawa’s Bookwalker e-book service and that the company’s goal is to make all its books available in digital format. Yen also publishes on other e-book platforms such as Amazon’s Kindle.
Anime Expo, the largest anime convention in North America, is happening this weekend in Los Angeles, and there’s a lot of activity on the manga front. This weekend’s announcements include “Dragon Ball Super,” a new “Revolutionary Girl Utena” box set, a Hatsune Miku manga and light novel, and a new series from the creators of “Deadman Wonderland.”
There was also some anime news, naturally: The streaming anime service Crunchyroll is going into the physical media business and will release “Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress,” “Berserk,” “Gintama,” and other series on Blu-Ray and DVD, and the dubbed version of the “One-Punch Man” anime will be added to Adult Swim’s Toonami block starting on July 16, which should bring new fans to the franchise.
Manga | Next week’s issue of the Japanese “Shonen Jump” will announce the impending conclusion of Tite Kubo’s fantasy-adventure manga “Bleach.” This comes as no surprise to readers, as the nearly 15-year-old series entered its final story arc in 2012. [Anime News Network]
— The Union-Tribune (@sdut) June 29, 2016
Conventions | The San Diego trolleys will get a new look for Comic-Con International: They will be fully wrapped in ads for comics-themed TV shows. The ads bring in about $300,000 to the Metropolitan Transit System, and advertisers see them as a good way to get the message out to their natural audience: “The trolley train wraps are very effective because they allow you to have fun with your marketing and also are constantly in motion, giving your campaign strong circulation to reach a wide range of fans,” said Angela Courtin, chief marketing officer for Fox. Fun fact: It takes eight hours to wrap a single trolley car. No statistics were available on how long it takes to unwrap it after the con. [San Diego Union-Tribune]
Creators | Mark Russell, who scripted DC’s satirical series Prez, talks about his work on their reboot of The Flinstones. When they first approached him, his response was “I kind of hate ‘The Flintstones,'” and when they were OK with that, he said, “I knew from the beginning that it would be a satiric, edgy response to ‘The Flintstones.'” The new series debuts next month. “It’s a critique of the suburban values that the original ‘Flintstones’ and [precursor] ‘The Honeymooners’ were about,” Russell said. “[The comedy] absorbed the values of the time and used them as a backdrop for broad humor.” Artist Steve Pugh, on the other hand, enjoyed the show; as a child growing up in the gritty British industrial town of Birmingham, he saw it as a “ray of light” in an otherwise grim world. [Comic Riffs]
Manga | Four older manga series are making a comeback in digital format: School Rumble, Alive, Nodame Cantabile, and Princess Resurrection, all originally published in English by Del Rey, will be available in the iTunes Store beginning on July 26. The Del Rey manga imprint became defunct in 2010, when the Japanese publisher Kodansha stopped licensing its manga to them and started publishing the books directly as Kodansha Comics. [Anime News Network]
Passings | Chester “Chet” Krause, who was the owner of the Comics Buyers Guide from 1983 to 1991, has died at the age of 92. Krause, who also owned a number of other papers catering to special interests (Numismatic News, Sports Collectors Digest), hired Don and Maggie Thompson as the editors of CBG, and under their leadership it became an important gathering point and communications channel for comics fans in the days before the internet. [ICv2]
Auctions | Joe Kubert’s original cover art for “Battle Classics” #3, signed by the artist, sold for $8,360 at auction earlier this month at Philip Weiss Auctions in Lynbrook, New York. The series was canceled after the first issue, so the cover was never published; it came directly from the artist’s estate. A second Kubert original, the cover for “Mystery in Space” #111, went for $6,038. [Artfix Daily]
Political cartoons | Joyce Brabner, the widow of Harvey Pekar and a comics creator in her own right, is raising funds to bring a group of cartoonists to Cleveland to do a live feed of comics and videos about the Republican National Convention “by people who detest everything Donald Trump stands for.” Tim Fielder, Ted Rall, Tony Puryear, Vishavjit Singh and Seth Tobacman are on board already, with other names to be announced. Brabner works with Gerta Oparaku, a Muslim artist who lives in Albania, and she is particularly interested in bringing more women and Muslim cartoonists into the mix. She will be providing housing, food, and escorts when needed; the GoFundMe is intended to pay travel expenses for artists who would not otherwise be able to participate. [GoFundMe]
Conventions | Cox Communications and Comic-Con International will provide free WiFi to the entire downtown area of San Diego from July 8 to July 24, a period that encompasses the 2016 MLB All-Star Game as well as Comic-Con International. However, the WiFi will only be available outside the convention center during Comic-Con. Cox will install 100 hotspots around town, and for the period of Comic-Con will make them available for free to all users. After July 24, the hotspots will be available to Cox customers, and non-subscribers will be allowed one free hour per month. [San Diego Union-Tribune]
Yusei Matsui, creator of the hit sci-fi comedy manga “Assassination Classroom,” will appear in October at New York Comic Con for a series of events and autograph sessions.
Published in North America by Viz Media, the action-packed series debuted in 2012 in Japan, telling the story of a class of misfits determined to kill their new teacher — an alien octopus with bizarre powers who has just destroyed the moon and will do the same to Earth … unless his students can stop him. Making the scenario even more complicated, it turns out he’s the best teacher they’ve ever had.
— Living France mag (@LivingFrance) May 24, 2016
Comics | The world’s longest comic—in terms of linear feet, not number of pages—was unveiled last week in Lyon, France, just ahead of that city’s comics festival. The comic, a time-travel story that depicts life in Lyon and Barcelona through the ages was drawn by the French artist Jibé in a normal format, then blown up and assembled panel by panel in a tunnel. The finished work is 1,625 meters long, beating the current record of 1,200 held by an American effort. [Forbidden Planet]
Legal | The prosecution says it will reduce the charges against Jonathon M. Wall, who allegedly posed as a federal agent to get into a VIP room at Salt Lake Comic Con, from a felony to a misdemeanor. Wall, who works at Hill Air Force Base, showed his ID card and said he was an Air Force special agent in pursuit of a fugitive. A retired police officer who was working as a security guard nearby got suspicious and called the real Air Force special agents. Wall pleaded guilty in April to a felony charge of impersonating a federal officer but the judge in the case rejected his plea, saying she was concerned he did not understand the consequences of having a federal felony on his record. [Deseret News]
Publishing | As Tokyopop returns to the graphic novel market, CEO Stu Levy talks about what he learned when the company stopped doing print in 2011, what happened with Tokyopop Germany, and how he sees the market now. Tokyopop is relaunching in print with three manga based on Disney properties, which Levy compares to the Korean tacos popularized by the food truck Kogi in Los Angeles: “To me that’s the epitome of fusion food done right, and I think what we’re doing with Disney manga is along those lines. It’s Japanese manga artists interpreting Disney characters and stories in a way that makes it uniquely manga, but it also retains the essence of Disney and the beloved characters that are a worldwide brand for a reason.” [ICv2]
Crime | Screenwriter and graphic novelist Blake Leibel has been arrested on charges of torturing and murdering his girlfriend Iana Kasian, who recently gave birth to their child. Leibel, the 35-year-old son of a wealthy Toronto family, is the co-creator of the graphic novel Syndrome, published in 2010 by Archaia, which he described at the time as “a lengthy graphic novel that grappled with the questions surrounding what provokes a person to commit evil acts.” The press was quick to pick up on several aspects of the murder that mirrored the graphic novel: among them, that he allegedly drained Kasian’s blood, as a character does to several victims in Syndrome. Leibel has pleaded not guilty to the charges. [The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times]
Passings | Mell Lazarus, creator of the comic strip Momma, died Tuesday at age 89. Lazarus grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and started his career as a professional cartoonist while still in his teens. He worked for Li’l Abner creator Al Capp and also for Toby Press, which was managed by Capp’s brother, and he later turned his experiences in book publishing into a novel, The Boss Is Crazy, Too. He launched Miss Peach in 1957, and it ran till 2002; he started Momma in 1970 and it is still running, although with different creators. At Comic Riffs, Michael Cavna rounds up tributes from Lazarus’s colleagues in the biz and notes that he was an early supporter of creators’ rights. [News From ME]