Manga | Roland Kelts looks at the international popularity of One Piece, whose sales number 300 million volumes in Japan and 45 million in the rest of the world. The piece includes an interview with creator Eiichiro Oda — he says he writes what he imagines his 15-year-old self would like to read — as well as editors from Viz Media, the American publisher of One Piece, who discuss the reasons for its popularity overseas as well as the global impact of manga piracy on these manga pirates. [The Japan Times]
Conventions | Which shows are money-makers for creators, and how much do they make? The answers, broken out into a handy infographic, may surprise you. [The Devastator]
“The thing is, I get bored easily. So if my manga was just about the action, or comedy, or tear-jerking moments, I would get bored. I change the style of the series to keep up my motivation to draw. [...] Humans can only come up with new ideas when they’ve reached their limits. When I finish a manuscript, I am completely exhausted.”
– Eiichiro Oda, the 38-year-old creator of One Piece, crediting a short attention span and sheer exhaustion as the secrets behind his hit pirate adventure, which has more than 345 million copies in print worldwide. He reveals that he doesn’t sleep or eat much when he’s working.
Digital comics | Ethan Gach contemplates what the popularity of tablets means for the comics industry, with a particular focus on comiXology. He points out that the digital distributor offers not only bestsellers but also titles that appeal to a broader audience — and has brought success to some indie creators via its comiXology Submit program. [Forbes]
Academia | Tom Spurgeon talks to Professor Benjamin Saunders, director of the Comics & Cartoon Studies Program at the University of Oregon, which just received a major donation that will serve as an endowment for the program. [The Comics Reporter]
Manga | Kodansha will release a second printing of the January issue of Aria magazine, which features the debut of Hikaru Suruga and Gan Sunaaku’s Attack on Titan spinoff No Regrets. The first printing was five times greater than the magazine’s usual press run — Aria has a verified circulation of 13,667 copies — so with this new printing, the January issue will have 10 times the number of copies of the average issue. [Anime News Network]
The shortlist has been announced for the 2014 Stan Lee Excelsior Award, whose winners will be selected by students from 77 secondary schools across the United Kingdom.
Established in 2011 by Paul Register, a school librarian in Sheffield, the awards are designed to promote comics and to encourage children and teenagers to read. The winners — first, second and third place — will be announced in July. The nominees are:
- Indestructible Hulk: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., by Mark Waid and Leinil Yu (Marvel)
- Quantum and Woody: The World’s Worst Superhero Team, by James Asmus and Tom Fowler (Valiant)
- The Judas Coin, by Walter Simonson (DC Comics)
- Aliens: Inhuman Condition, by John Layman and Sam Kieth (Dark Horse)
- Earth 2: The Gathering, by James Robinson and Nicola Scott (DC Comics)
- Sherlock Bones, by Yuma Ando and Yuki Sato (Kodansha)
- Captain America: Castaway in Dimension Z, by Rick Remender and John Romita Jr. (Marvel)
- The Halloween Legion, by Martin Powell and Thomas Boatwright (Dark Horse)
The big news (for me at least) of the past week was Dan Nadel’s announcement that he has decided to close up shop on PictureBox, his publishing empire. While I completely understand his desire to focus his energies on other things it’s sad news nevertheless. PictureBox was one of the most interesting and daring comics publishers out there and the books they released helped change the conversation about what comics should be.
Thankfully, Nadel is going out with a bang in the form of a 50 percent-off sale through Jan. 2. PictureBox published so many excellent books by so many talented cartoonists – Lauren Weinstein, Mat Brinkman, Jonny Negron, Frank Santoro, Ben Jones, etc. – that making a few essential recommendations is a tough task to put it mildly. Still, if you’re looking to take advantage of the sale, and aren’t sure what to buy, here are some books I enjoyed a great deal and think you might too.
1. Gold Pollen and Other Stories by Seiichi Hayashi. One of the sadder tragedies of PictureBox’s closing is it comes just as critic and scholar Ryan Holmberg’s two new lines – Ten Cent Manga and Masters of Alternative Manga – were just getting started. I greatly enjoyed the two books in the Ten Cent line (The Mysterious Underground Men by Osamu Tezuka and Last of the Mohicans by Shigeru Sugiura) but it was Gold Pollen that really floored me. This collection of highly symbolic short stories (one uncompleted) present some really daring, exciting work by Hayashi (author of Red Colored Elegy), particularly the elegant, minimalist Red Dragonfly. That, combined with Holmberg’s insightful, educational essay make this my favorite book of 2013 thus far. The good news is that apparently Holmberg has found a publisher interested in picking up the Ten Cent Manga line. No word yet if the Alternative Manga line will find a benefactor, but let’s keep our fingers crossed.
Graphic novels | Five volumes of The Walking Dead made the November BookScan list of the Top 20 graphic novels sold in bookstores. As ICv2 points out, the fact that the first volume is still charting (at No. 13) bodes well for the series, as it means new readers are continuing to come in. The latest volume of Naruto took the No. 2 slot, and there were nine volumes of manga overall, including three volumes of Attack on Titan and the newest volume of Yotsuba&! There were five DC Comic titles on the list, as well as the latest volume of Dark Horse’s Avatar: The Last Airbender. Completely missing from the Top 20? Anything from Marvel. [ICv2]
Publishing | After three years at DC Entertainment, John Rood will step down on Jan. 1 as executive vice president of sales, marketing and business development. The position is being eliminated, with marketing and publicity to fall under the auspices of Amit Desai, senior vice president of franchise management. Sales, custom publishing and business development will again be overseen by Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee. [The Beat]
Gift Guides | Here’s a spin on the traditional gift guide: Ten things not to buy a comics fan. [Crave Online]
Comics | Rupp’s Comics in Fremont, Ohio, will display a rare comic this weekend as part of the store’s 22nd-anniversary celebration: Detective Dan: Secret Operative No. 48, published in 1933, is the first comic book to contain a single original story (as opposed to several strips, or a compilation of reprints from newspapers). The new format was not an immediate success, and the series was canceled after just one issue. [The News-Messenger]
Creators | It’s old but it’s good: The Comics Journal dips into the archives for a 1989 interview with Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson. [The Comics Journal]
Creators | John Porcellino reflects on 25 years of King-Cat Comics. [du9]
LEGO modelers the Arvo Brothers have recreated Kaneda’s bike from Katsuhiro Otomo’s landmark manga and anime Akira, using only those little Danish bricks, of course. What’s more, they’re going to share just how they did it in a 200-page book that will be available beginning next week — complete with die-cut decals.
Legal | Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo has filed a legal complaint against his daughter Sylvie and her husband Bernard Choisy, claiming “psychological violence.” The dispute began in 2007, when Sylvie and Bernard were dismissed from their positions at Les Éditions Albert René, which published Asterix; a year later, Uderzo sold his stake in the company to Hachette Livre. The two filed their own legal challenge in 2011, claiming Uderzo, who is now 86, was being exploited by others. In this week’s filing, Uderzo says he is perfectly capable of managing his own affairs, and adds, “The sole purpose of these acts is to undermine our psychological integrity and to hasten our debility, in order to get their hands on our legacy, which they covet.” [The Guardian]
It’s December, which means best-of-the-year lists, both large and small, will begin appearing at a mind-boggling pace. And while not all of them are comics-specific, many include a smattering of graphic novels and collections. Here are three of the most recent offerings:
• For the Best Graphic Novel of 2013, GoodReads members selected Beautiful Creatures: The Manga (Yen Press), Cassandra Jean’s adaptation of the bestselling young-adult novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. It beat out such contenders as March Book One, Boxers & Saints and Saga, Vol. 2.
• Slate’s list of the Overlooked Books of 2013 includes critic Tammy Oler’s recommendation of Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life As a Weapon (Marvel), by Matt Fraction, David Aja and Javier Pulido. “Fraction’s smart writing comes to life in stunning art and innovative panel layouts,” Oler writes, “making Hawkeye deeply entertainingly and moving.”
• At Salon, Laura Miller recounts 10 unforgettable graphic novels from 2013: Boxers & Saints, by Gene Luen Yang; Calling Dr. Laura, by Nicole J. Georges; The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, by H.P. Lovecraft and I.N.J. Culbard; Encyclopedia of Early Earth, by Isabel Greenberg; How to Fake a Moon Landing, by Darryl Cunningham; Opera Adaptations, by P. Craig Russell; RASL, by Jeff Smith; The Freddie Stories, by Lynda Barry; The Property, by Rutu Modan; and When David Lost His Voice, by Judith Vanistendael.
Manga | While Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan has been burning up the bookstore sales charts in the United States, the dystopian manga is also giving the smash-hit One Piece a run for its money in Japan. According to market research firm Oricon, Attack on Titan sold more than 15.9 million copies in the past year, just behind One Piece‘s 18.1 million (Kuroko’s Basketball is a distance third with about 8.8 million). Of course, Eiichiro Oda insanely popular pirate manga has little to fear: The 72-volume (and counting) series has 300 million copies in print in Japan, and 345 million worldwide. Kodansha’s Attack on Titan, meanwhile, is on its 11th volume. [ICv2]
Auctions | Select titles from Don and Maggie Thompson’s collection of rare comics — among them, The Avengers #1, Journey Into Mystery #83 and The Incredible Hulk #1 — sold at auction last week for a combined $835,384. A 9.6 copy of Tales of Suspense #39 alone fetched $262,900. [Heritage Auctions]
Thursday at this time, many Americans will be digging in to their bountiful Thanksgiving dinner or, depending upon the time zone, blissfully enjoying a tryptophan coma. Feasting isn’t the only tradition, however: There’s also the custom of giving thanks, hence the holiday’s name.
With the end of the year approaching, it seems like a good opportunity to reflect on the state of comics, and celebrate what’s working. Sure, this crazy industry can be frustrating at times, but it also gets a lot of things right. So in keeping with the numerical motif of our namesake, here are six things in comics for which I’m thankful.
1. Image Comics is killing it
There are a lot of fantastic comics today. It’s been said a number of times by myself and others but it’s so fun to repeat: We are living in a new renaissance period for comics. I don’t think there’s ever before been such a sustained output of quality books. You can’t reasonably give credit for that to one publisher, but if we’re just looking at the major players in the direct market, Image Comics is just killing it this year. I don’t think they’ve ever had such a stellar line-up of quality creators putting out books that look fantastic, have great hooks to them, and stand on their own as solid entertainment.
Manga | Hayao Miyazaki’s samurai manga will be serialized in the Japanese magazine Model Graphix, but progress is reportedly slow: Miyazaki, the director of classic animated films including My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, has completed just three pages. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Veteran Archie artist Stan Goldberg, who most recently has been drawing Nancy Drew graphic novels for Papercutz, was in a serious car accident recently, along with his wife Pauline. Tom Spurgeon suggests you send them a car. [The Comics Reporter]
Conventions | Cleveland’s small-press comics convention Genghis Con is this weekend, with a guest list that includes Derf Backderf (My Friend Dahmer) and Mike Sangiacomo (Tales of the Starlight Drive-In). [The Plain Dealer]
Another, written by Yukito Ayatsuji, art by Hiro Kiyohara, Yen Press, 720 pages, $29.99
Another is a ghost story in which no one is quite sure who the ghost is — or if they themselves are the ghost.
It’s told through the eyes of 15-year-old Koichi Sakakibara, who has been shipped off to stay with his grandparents in the country while his scientist father is conducting research abroad; his mother died shortly before he was born. The school year starts off inauspiciously for Koichi, as he suffers from a collapsed lung and misses the first few days of school.
While he is in the hospital, Koichi meets and briefly talks to a girl with an eye patch, Mei Misaki, and when he finally gets to school, he learns that Mei is in his class. He is intrigued by her and tries to start a friendship, but everyone else acts as if she isn’t there. The other students are friendly to him, but they don’t seem to even see Mei, and Koichi begins to wonder if she is real.
(Mild spoilers ahead)
Legal | Artist Al Plastino has asked a New York judge to order Heritage Auctions to reveal the name of the consignor who put up for sale his original art for the 10-page story “Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy.” Heritage says the sale has been canceled and the art returned to the consignor, who bought it at a Sotheby’s auction a decade ago. The JFK story was originally scheduled to run in a DC comic dated November 1963, but it was quickly pulled when Kennedy was assassinated. The story was published the following year at the request of the Johnson administration. The last panel of the comic stated the artwork was to be donated to the Kennedy Library, and Plastino believed that to be the case until this fall, when he discovered it was being put up for auction. [Reuters]
Crime | Tokyo police say they have security camera footage of a suspicious man in a mask and gloves near a convenience store where a small amount of nicotine was found in a Kuroko’s Basketball-themed snack. The snacks were recalled after 7-Eleven and other convenience store chains received threatening letters, part of a barrage of threat letters that have been sent out to venues associated with the Kuroko’s Basketball manga and anime. The amount of nicotine found in the Kuroko’s Basketball wafers was well under a lethal dose. [Anime News Network]