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Comics A.M. | ‘Annie’ writer Jay Maeder passes away

Jay Maeder

Jay Maeder

Passings | Jay Maeder, who was the last writer for the comic strip Annie (formerly Little Orphan Annie), passed away Tuesday at age 67. A former New York Daily News columnist and editor who authored Dick Tracy: The Official Biography and contributed to The Encyclopedia of American Comics, Maeder worked on Annie, together with artist Andrew Pepoy, from 2000 its cancellation 2010. He created Amelia Santiago, a pilot and CIA agent, and once said of the strip, “I tell people it’s Indiana Jones with chicks.” [The New York Times]

Manga | Deb Aoki rounds up the manga news from Comic-Con International, including UDON’s license of Kill la Kill and Drawn and Quarterly’s plans to publish Shigeru Mizuki’s biography of Hitler. [Publishers Weekly]

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Comic-Con’s six best moments

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

Comic-Con International has come and gone, and like every year, we’re left with a metric ton of announcements, hints, speculations, sneak previews, leaked footage and open questions.

There also seemed to be more pre-convention announcements than I can remember seeing in previous years. If the past week or so of frenzied news wasn’t enough, panel coverage and from is still rolling out. Based on the past several years, we should see those continue to be doled out for the next week or two.Comic-Con is truly a month-long event, maybe almost two months when all is said and done. So it’s understandable if it’s sometimes difficult to keep track of what was announced when or to even remember that awesome thing I was so excited about a week ago but can’t name now.

There are plenty that stuck with me, however; I’ve already written about comiXology’s DRM-free titles, and some of Image’s upcoming titles, and there were plenty of others. Of course, I can’t mention all of the cool things to emerge from Comic-Con — that would just be a near duplication of everything we’ve heard about for about a month now. So instead, here are six (more) things from Comic-Con I can remember thinking were extra-awesome:

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Comics A.M. | Japan launches anti-piracy initiative

Luffy of "One Piece"

Luffy of “One Piece”

Piracy | The Japanese government is joining with 15 anime production companies and manga publishers to launch a major initiative that will target foreign pirate sites. The push will start Aug. 1 and will have two components: The government will send takedown requests to 580 pirate sites and also launch a website that directs people to legitimate sources of online manga. The Japanese Cultural Affairs Agency estimates that Chinese pirate sites cost the industry 560 billion yen (about $5.5 million) last year. [Crunchyroll]

Comics | Lidia Jean Kott talks with writer Jason Aaron about his female Thor and pays a visit to Fantom Comics in Washington, D.C., where a quarter of the customers are women and the bestselling title is Saga (the bestselling superhero comic is Ms. Marvel). [NPR]

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‘Quantum and Woody,’ ‘Hawkeye’ and ‘Saga’ lead Harvey ballot

quantum-woody1Quantum and Woody leads the final ballot for the 2014 Harvey Awards with nominations in six categories, including best new series, edging out Hawkeye with five and Saga with four. Quantum and Woody‘s James Asmus also received nods for best writer, most promising new talent and the special award for humor.

Named in honor of the late Harvey Kurtzman, the cartoonist and founding editor of MAD magazine, the awards are selected entirely by creators. Online voting is open now through Aug. 18. The winners will be presented Sept. 6 in a ceremony held in conjunction with Baltimore Comic-Con.

The full list of nominees can be found below:

Best Writer
James Asmus, QUANTUM AND WOODY, Valiant Entertainment
Matt Fraction, HAWKEYE, Marvel Comics
Matt Kindt, MIND MGMT, Dark Horse Comics
Brian K. Vaughan, SAGA, Image Comics
Mark Waid, DAREDEVIL, Marvel Comics

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Comics A.M. | ‘Attack on Titan’ conquers bookstores in June

Attack on Titan, Vol. 1

Attack on Titan, Vol. 1

Publishing | The latest BookScan numbers reveal June was a good month for manga in bookstores, with eight volumes of Attack on Titan making the top 20 — a new record. The first volume topped the list, which means new readers are still discovering Hajime Isayama’s dark fantasy. Overall, manga had a slight edge, with 11 titles, and all three volumes of Saga were on the list, but only one volume of The Walking Dead. And despite the Amazon-Hachette battle, the Yen Press title Sword Art Online: Aincrad made the chart. [ICv2]

Publishing | ICv2 and Comichron’s John Jackson Miller joined forces to calculate the size of the entire comics market, including the direct market, bookstore and digital channels, and both single issues and graphic novels. Inevitably some things get left out, such as subscription services, sales to libraries and the juggernaut that is the Scholastic Book Fair, but it’s a good snapshot. The bottom line: $850 million in 2013. [Comichron]

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Comics A.M. | A half-century of ‘Archie,’ by circulation figures

Archie #107 (February 1960)

Archie #107 (February 1960)

Publishing | John Jackson Miller mines the circulation statements provided once a year to put together a 54-year sales history of Archie Comics’ flagship title Archie (the publisher is one of the few that still prints annual statements of ownership, allowing the numbers to be traced back, unbroken, to 1960). As he points out, Archie was a big newsstand title, selling almost 600,000 copies in the late 1960s, but it didn’t fare well when comics moved to the direct market — although Archie Comics has done well nonetheless with its digests, which far outsell its single-issue comics. [Comichron]

Publishing | Annie Koyama of Koyama Press talks with Dan Berry about how comics publishing works, and how she got into the field. [Make It Then Tell Everybody]

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True Believers Comic Awards announce 2014 winners

true believers logoHawkeye and its writer Matt Fraction and Saga and its artist Fiona Staples led the inaugural True Believers Comic Awards, winning in a combined 10 categories. Hawkeye colorist Matt Hollingsworth also won in his division.

Presented Saturday in conjunction with London Film and Comic Con, the True Believers Comic Awards are a successor to the long-running Eagle Awards. Established by Eagle co-founder Mike Conroy and his daughter Cassandra, the awards were selected through online nominations and voting.

IDW Publishing was voted Best Publisher, while Gail Simone was named to the Roll of Honor. Comic Book Resources was selected as Favorite Comics-Related Website. The full list of winners can be found below in bold.

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SDCC | Highlights of the Friday programming schedule

Comic-Con InternationalComic-Con International organizers have rolled out the programming schedule for Friday, July 25, the second full day of the show.

And what a full day it is, with comics adaptations like AMC’s The Walking Dead, The CW’s Arrow and iZombie, and ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter all taking the stage. However, that’s not to say actual comic books are being slighted: There are panels devoted to Image Comics, DC Comics’ Batman, The Multiversity and more, Marvel’s Spider-Verse and The Avengers, Top Shelf Productions, IDW Publishing’s 15th anniversary and its Hasbro titles, Milestone at 21, gender in comics, LGBT comics for young readers and the (gulp) 30th anniversary of Power Pack.

Plenty of creators step into the spotlight, too, with panels dedicated to the likes of Neal Adams, Mark Brooks, Francesco Francavilla, Jae Lee, Mike Mignola, Terry Moore, Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan. To top it all off, there’s the Eisner Awards ceremony.

Check out some of the comics-related highlights below, and visit the Comic-Con website for the full schedule.

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Comics A.M. | Digital sales grew to $90 million in 2013

Digital comics on comiXology

Digital comics on comiXology

Digital comics | ICv2 estimates the size of the digital comics market at $90 million in 2013, not counting subscription services such as Marvel Unlimited or Crunchyroll — so presumably the tally is limited to single-issue sales. It’s also not clear whether the number includes comics sold on eBook platforms such as Kindle or just those sold through specialty channels such as comiXology or as direct downloads. The $90 million number represents a 29 percent increase over 2012 numbers. [ICv2]

Creators | As the first issue of his new series The Life After is released, writer Joshua Hale Fialkov talks about why he prefers creator-owned work: “I want to treat every book I do as though it’s 100% owned by me, because, at the end of the day, nobody is blaming an editor if that book sucks. They’re blaming me. Even if the art is sub-par, I take the blame for that. So, for my money, being thorny and vocal to get work I’m proud of is worth it, no matter what doors it shuts, because, as the saying goes, nothing shuts doors and costs you audience faster than producing junk.” And, he says, he is making as much money doing creator-owned comics as the corporate ones. [The Hollywood Reporter]

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SDCC | Highlights of the Thursday programming schedule

comic-conThe days of easing into Comic-Con International are but a distant memory, as the schedule for the first event’s official day, Thursday, July 27, oh so helpfully reminds us.

As we’ve come to expect, the Thursday programming is a mix of comic books, television, toys and video games, with a smattering of film, plus several Batman panels tied to the Caped Crusader’s 75th anniversary (including a spotlight on co-creator Bill Finger, “DC Comics: Batman 75: Legends of the Dark Knight” and “Batman in the ’70s”).

Comics programming includes panels from 2000 AD, Avatar Press, Bongo Comics, BOOM! Studios, DC Digital, Image Comics, IDW’s Artists Editions, Marvel’s Avengers & X-Men: AXIS, Monkeybrain Comics, Skybound’s The Walking Dead and Vertigo. But that only scratches the surface, as there are also creator spotlights on the likes of Dan Slott, and Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, a conversation between Gene Luen Yang and Scott McCloud, a look at the creative processes of Lee Bermejo, John Romita Jr. and Nicola Scott, and an examination of the intersection of hip hop and comics.

Check out some of the comics-related highlights below, and visit the Comic-Con website for the full schedule.

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Comics A.M. | Taiwan ‘One Piece’ exhibit draws 100,000 in first week

Taipei Metro cars were wrapped in "One Piece" ads for the exhibition

Taipei Metro cars were wrapped in “One Piece” ads for the exhibition

Events | An extensive exhibit in Taipei, Taiwan, devoted to Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece manga and anime has drawn more than 100,000 visitors since its opening on July 1. Overseen by Oda, the exhibition is the first of its kind outside of Japan, where it was held from 2012 to 2013 to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the insanely popular manga. ”One Piece Exhibition: Original Art x Movies x Experience Pirate King Taiwan” runs through Sept. 22. [Kotaku]

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Comics A.M. | Bill Watterson’s return to the public eye

From the final "Calvin and Hobbes" strip

From the final “Calvin and Hobbes” strip

Creators | Shaenon Garrity chronicles Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson’s recent return to the public eye. While Watterson stopped drawing the strip in 1995, he recently provided a painting for the Team Cul De Sac charity, did an interview and created a poster for the documentary Stripped, and contributed as a guest artist to Stephan Pastis’ Pearls Before Swine comic strip. [Paste Magazine]

Comics | Some bonus Calvin and Hobbes content: Adam Weinstein looks at the history of those “peeing Calvin” decals, with a short road trip into the “praying Calvin” variant. [Gawker]

Creators | Marc Sobel interviews Ganges creator Kevin Huizenga. [The Comics Journal]

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Comics A.M. | A nonprofit alternative for some publishers?

SLG Publishing

SLG Publishing

Publishing | Spurred by the GoFundMe campaign launched last week by Dan Vado to get SLG Publishing “back on its feet,” Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture author Rob Salkowitz wonders whether a nonprofit model might make sense for some indie/niche publishers: “Contrary to popular perception, however, being a non-profit doesn’t mean you can’t make money. Lots of successful non-profits generate revenues in the millions and pay their staff, executives and contributors salaries comparable with those in the private sector. They can also pay contractors and contributors like performers or creators full market rates. They just don’t pay shareholders, and they plow any excess revenues back into their operations.” [ICv2.com]

Passings | Michael Cavna rounds up tributes and remembrances from the colleagues of the editorial cartoonist Etta Hulme, who died last week at age 90. [Comic Riffs]

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Comics A.M. | A closer look at Barnes & Noble split, Nook’s future

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

Retailing | Shares of Barnes & Noble rose 5.5 percent Wednesday, to $21.69, following the announcement that the bookseller plans to split into two companies, one for its retail stores and the other for Nook Media. Barron’s suggests those plans could buoy stock prices for a while, as long as the company doesn’t change its mind (again) about the split. The magazine also notes the possibility that an outsider buyer could make a bid for the retail stores before the split takes place, leaving Barnes & Noble with the Nook, which will be combined with the company’s successful college-bookstore operations. [Barron's]

Manga | Inspired by a line of T-shirts featuring the work of the manga artist Jiraiya, Guy Trebay talks to Anne Ishii and Chip Kidd about the popularity of hard-core gay manga, such as the work of Gengoroh Tagame, in the United States. [The New York Times]

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Jiro Taniguchi to be guest at Angoulême comics festival

Jiro Taniguchi

Jiro Taniguchi

Jiro Taniguchi, creator of The Walking Man, A Distant Neighborhood and more than 40 other manga, will be a special guest in January at the 42nd Angoulême International Comics Festival, which will include a major exhibit of his work — the first of its scale in Europe.

Titled “Taniguchi, l’homme qui rêve” (“Taniguchi, the dreaming man”), the exhibition will cover four decades of Taniguchi’s work, which includes the memoir A Zoo in Winter, the conquest-of-Everest tale Summit of the Gods, the time-travel story A Distant Neighborhood, and the mystery The Quest for the Missing Girl.

Not only does Taniguchi’s work span most of the major graphic novel genres, the official press release points out, but he has crossed over to become an author with universal appeal. Indeed, Laurent Duvault, director of international media development for the publishing group Media Participations, told me at this year’s festival that “Taniguchi was the first Japanese artist to have his own area, not in the manga section but in the French section [of bookstores]. It was a graphic novel approach, not a manga approach.” He attributed this in part to the fact that Taniguchi’s work is flipped, so it reads left to right, making it more accessible to readers of European languages. Taniguchi is no stranger to Angoulême: A Distant Neighborhood was awarded the Alph’Art prize for best scenario at the 2003 festival, and he was one of the nominees for the Grand Prix this year.

Taniguchi, who has four new books coming out this year in France, will be present at Angoulême to open the exhibit and participate in the program; after the festival is over, the show will go on tour around France and the rest of Europe.


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