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Comics A.M. | First Second’s Mark Siegel on ‘new mainstream’

This One Summer

This One Summer

Publishing | In a three-part interview, First Second Books Editorial Director Mark Siegel talks about 2014, the upcoming year, and the emergence of a “new mainstream.” In Part 1 he discusses the 2014 releases and ends with some numbers (print runs rather than sales); the imprint’s top books are Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl and Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer, both of which have 30,000 copies in print. In Part 2 he looks at the importance of the library market and support from librarians, especially for children and teens, as well as the emergence of a new category of graphic novels that he calls “new mainstream.” Part 3 focuses on First Second’s planned releases for 2015, including Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor, which will have a print run of 100,000. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | Nostalgia, franchises and the new comics economy

Howard the Duck

Howard the Duck

Analysis | Rob Salkowitz kicks off the new year with big-picture questions about “geek culture”: With the popularity of comics-based movies, will continuity and nostalgia become less important? And will comics themselves become less important? “Putting out comics is a relatively costly and troublesome process with limited revenue potential relative to other ways of exploiting the intellectual property. A fan base that buys licensed merchandise and watches entertainment programming without needing a monthly fix of new art and story is probably considered a feature of the new comics economy, not a bug.” [ICv2]

Creators | Chew artist Rob Guillory, who will appear this weekend at Wizard World New Orleans, talks about the strange comics that he read as a kid (The Adventures of Kool-Aid Man) and the unexpected success of Chew, which will end next year with its 60th issue: “In the beginning, John and I were kind of like, ‘Well, best-case scenario, we can go 60 issues. Worst-case scenario, we can do five and go our separate ways and never speak again.’ I don’t know if we’ve seen the peak of our reception. I don’t think we’ll see how popular we’ve been until it’s over. When it’s wrapped and it’s the complete thing, I think people will start missing us.” [Best of New Orleans]

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Comics A.M. | Questions surround Cherry City Comic Con

Cherry City Comic Con

Cherry City Comic Con

Conventions | Vendors who paid the $60 deposit to exhibit at Cherry City Comic Con are clamoring for a refund after word circulated that the Salem, Oregon, convention won’t happen this spring as planned. (There appears to have been some discussion about the con being canceled on Facebook, but the convention’s Facebook page now states, “A marketing solutions company is helping us start the new year right and get us back on track to make this a successful show everyone can love.” No other posts appear on the page.) This isn’t the first round of controversy for the con: Last May, organizer Mike Martin called an exhibitor “batshit insane” on Facebook when she asked for a refund and expressed concern that the con would not be a “safe place for female cosplayers.” Martin is also the organizer of a craft fair that was canceled; some exhibitors for that event were denied refunds because of “a locked PayPal account.” [KOIN]

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Comiket attracts 560,000 over three days

comiket87

Comiket attracted a reported 560,000 attendees over the course of three days (Sunday to Tuesday), according to Anime News Network. That’s a record for the winter edition of the biannual event — it’s held in August and December — but about 30,000 shy of the all-time high set in summer 2013.

Held at the massive Tokyo Big Sight, the 39-year-old Comiket (aka Comic Market) is the largest comics festival in the world (Lucca Comics & Games is second, with paid attendance of about 240,000).

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Comics A.M. | The rise, decline and rebirth of Valiant

Valiant

Valiant

Publishing | Abraham Riesman looks at the revival of Valiant, which was once the third-largest comics publisher in the United States and now, under new management, aspires to reclaim that position. The article covers the rise and fall of the original company, its rescue by now-CEO Dinesh Shamdasani, and the strategy the new Valiant has used to quickly build an audience for a different type of superhero comic. [Vulture]

Conventions | San Diego officials had to do some shuffling to accommodate the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which will be played in the city in 2016, but they didn’t move Comic-Con International, which is only a few days later. “Their attendees are such a unique group that they don’t take well to change,” said Joe Terzi, chief executive of the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau. “They plan their year around this event.” [U-T San Diego]

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Universal Japan’s ‘Attack on Titan’ attraction unveils new promo

titan1

Universal Studios Japan has unleashed another teaser video for “Attack on Titan The Real” that’s every bit as unsettling as you’d expect from a theme park attraction based on a manga about flesh-eating giants. Which element is the most disturbing? You’ll have to decide for yourselves (I’m going for a toss-up between the image above and the shot of the girl with a broken neck).

Announced last month as part of a “Universal Cool Japan” limited event that also showcases Monster Hunter, Evangelion and Resident Evil, the Attack on Titan element will have at its center a statue of the 49-foot Eren Titan fighting the 46-foot female Titan, which are featured prominently in the video.

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Comics A.M. | Comiket 87 draws 180,000 on opening day

Comiket 87

Comiket 87

Conventions | About 180,000 people flocked to the Tokyo Big Sight on Sunday for the first day of Comiket 87, the world’s largest convention dedicated to self-published comics. That’s an increase of about 10,000 from the opening day of the summer edition — Comiket is held twice yearly, in August and in December — and about the same as last winter’s event. Comiket continues through Tuesday. [Anime News Network]

Comics | Kevin Drum does some very loose calculations to check the claim that millennials are addicted to comics, and he reckons that given the current size of the market, about 2 percent of millennials are comics readers. [Mother Jones]

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Comics A.M. | Tokyo’s ‘Astro Town’ still celebrates Tezuka

Osamu Tezuka

Osamu Tezuka

Creators | Osamu Tezuka, the “godfather of manga,” has been dead for 25 years, but his influence lives on, not just in manga and anime but in his old neighborhood, where a restaurant features his favorite dish and merchants have their own local currency, Astro Money. There’s even a group of inventors who were inspired by Astro Boy to design a “power-assisted hand.” [The Yomiuri Shimbun]

Creators | Ivan Brunetti tried to draw Nancy and failed, but he learned how to be a cartoonist in the process: “Nancy is a harsh taskmaster; resuscitating it was a grueling task, but the challenge was invigorating and edifying. By drawing Nancy, I realized that every character (even the environment) in a strip is the cartoonist and is invested and imbued with the cartoonist’s life force. This is perhaps why continuing a strip after a creator’s death is so misguided, and it also explains the precious few exceptions that prove the rule: those cartoonists made the preexisting characters truly their own, commandeering their ink-on-paper souls.” [BoingBoing]

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Comics A.M. | Two charged in theft of $5,000 worth of comics

Crime

Crime

Crime | Police in San Antonio, Texas, arrested two men on Friday on charges of stealing $5,000 worth of comics from a local collector. After the robbery, the collector contacted local comic shops and asked them to keep an eye out for the stolen goods. Several retailers gave police information, including a license plate number, that led to the arrests of Gino Saenz and Jose Gonzalez on charges of theft. [San Antonio Express-News]

Digital comics | Humble Bundle sold $3 million worth of DRM-free digital comics in 2014, the first year in which the company included e-books and comics in its bundles. Total e-book revenues were $4.75 million, of which $1.2 million went to charity (including the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund). That may sound like a lot of money, but as director of e-books Kelley Allen said, “The numbers generated by the book bundles look like a rounding error in comparison to video games,” because the audience for the latter is so vast. Humble Bundle’s e-books are DRM-free, which has been a stumbling block for traditional book publishers, but comics publishers are more flexible, Allen said. [Publishers Weekly]

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Comics A.M. | U.K. publisher Great Beast to close

Great Beast

Great Beast

Publishing | The British independent publisher Great Beast, which has released the work of Dan Berry, Marc Ellerby and Isabel Greenberg, among others, will close on Jan. 7. Founded in 2012 by Ellerby and Adam Cadwell, the publisher was something of a victim of its own success, as Cadwell explains: “As the group got bigger, as the books became more successful and as we widened the range of shops we sold to there became more of a need for the management and promotion to come from one or two people and Marc Ellerby and I (Adam Cadwell) happily took up that role. However, as time went on we found that the time spent working for the benefit of the group was getting in the way of us actually making our own comics, which is why we started the group in the first place… We looked at many ways of monetising the group so we could pay someone to run things whilst still giving the creators the bulk of the profits but we just couldn’t find a fair way to make it work.” [Great Beast Blog]

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Comics A.M. | Putting ‘Star Wars’ #1 sales in historical context

Star Wars #1

Star Wars #1

Publishing | John Jackson Miller reflects on the news that the first issue of Marvel’s Star Wars will sell 1 million copies, and notes the last comic to do so was a Pokemon title in 1999. The last direct market comic to reach that mark was Batman #500 in 1993. Miller also delves deeper into history, pointing out that Marvel’s original Star Wars #1, released in 1977, also sold more than 1 million copies, making it the first comic to reach that height since Dell’s Uncle Scrooge in 1960. [Comichron]

Passings | Maurice Tanti Burlo, editorial cartoonist for the Times of Malta, has died at the age of 78. Burlo, who used the pen name Nalizpelra, was working for Telemalta in 1977 when Prime Minister Dom Mintoff suspended a number of Telemalta staff, including Burlo, for supporting doctors, nurses, and bankers who went on strike. Burlo started cartooning to “get back at Mintoff,” and just kept on doing it; he published three books of his work and won the BPC Award in 1998 an 2002. [Times of Malta]

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Comics A.M. | At long last, ‘Blake and Mortimer’ gets a prequel

The Staff of Plutarch

The Staff of Plutarch

Graphic novels | The long-running Belgian comic Blake and Mortimer, created by Herge contemporary Edgar P. Jacobs and currently the work of Yves Sente and Andre Juillard, will get a prequel. The series launched in Tintin magazine in 1946, and when they re-read the first episode, Sente and Juillard found themselves asking a lot of questions — so they answered them in their latest volume, The Staff of Plutarch. [Agence France-Presse]

Creators | Kelly Sue DeConnick discusses her new Image Comics series Bitch Planet. [Paste]

Creators | HOW magazine interviews artist Kody Chamberlain (Punks, Sweets). [HOW]

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Universal Japan debuts teaser for ‘Attack on Titan’ attraction

universal-titan1-cropped

Universal Studios Japan has debuted a teaser video for Attack on Titan The Real,” the upcoming attraction based the blockbuster manga and anime.

Announced last month as part of a “Universal Cool Japan” limited event that also showcases Monster Hunter, Evangelion and Resident Evil, the Attack on Titan element will have at its center a statue of the 49-foot Eren Titan fighting the 46-foot female Titan.

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‘Attack on Titan’ Real Escape Game stomps into U.S. cities

attack on titan-escape2

The “Attack on Titan x Real Escape Game” is crashing into the United States.

Kodansha and SCRAP Entertainment have announced dates in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City for “Escape From the Walled City,” an immersive, interactive game inspired by Hajime Isayama’s hit manga and anime.

Debuting in 2009, Attack on Titan is a post-apocalyptic fantasy set in a world where remorseless, flesh-eating giants have all but wiped out humanity, whose remnants are forced to live within a country surrounded by three enormous walls.

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Comics A.M. | Cartoonist Peter Woolcock passes away

Peter Woolcock

Peter Woolcock

Passings | Bermuda-based cartoonist Peter Woolcock died Wednesday after being struck by a car as he was walking to the office of The Royal Gazette to deliver his weekly cartoon. He was 88. Born and raised on a farm in Argentina, Woolcock served on a British tank crew in World War II (during which time he also kept a sketchbook) and worked as a cartoonist and illustrator for almost 60 years, first for children’s magazines in the United Kingdom and then, after moving in 1981 to Bermuda, as an editorial cartoonist. Both his editors and the politicians he depicted have kind things to say in this lengthy obituary, which notes that his final cartoon was about San Diego losing the bid to host the America’s Cup. [The Royal Gazette]

Creators | Candorville cartoonist Darrin Bell talks about the political cartoons he drew in response to the non-indictments of the police officers in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, as well as his own experiences as a black man who got “the talk” when he was 6 or 7 years old and will some day have to give it to his own son. [Comic Riffs]

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