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Conventions | On the eve of the inaugural Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, the Chicago Reader examines the escalating competition between convention owner Reed Exhibitions and longtime Chicago Comic Con organizer Wizard Entertainment: “It’s but one battleground in a war the two powers are waging across the country — an epic struggle that some observers see as a contest between the forces of good and, well, not so good.”
Writer Deanna Isaacs touches upon the rise of Wizard’s Rosemont event to the second-largest comics convention in North America, and its more recent decline. She quotes a couple of local retailers who have become “disenchanted” with the show. But Wizard CEO Gareb Shamus shrugs off the complaints: “Everybody’s going to tell you this or that. You’re talking about one person. We have 1,000 vendors at our show in Chicago, and they make a lot of money.”
The Daily Herald interviews C2E2 show-runner Lance Fensterman, who says he expects between 35,000 and 40,000 attendees this weekend. The Chicago Tribune, meanwhile, offers its own preview, with eight “must-see” convention events, and brief Q&As with Alex Ross and Jeff Smith. [C2E2]
Publishing | When Japan’s largest publisher, Kodansha, set up shop in the United States last fall, many expected a major shake-up in the North American manga market. But so far, Kodansha USA Publishing and Kodansha Comics have been awfully quiet, re-releasing only the first volumes of Akira and Ghost in the Shell. So Gia Manry goes to the source, the general manager of Kodansha USA, and learns … not a whole lot, actually. Except that the manga giant plans to create a website. [Anime Vice]
Publishing | Comics publishers are generally tight-lipped when it comes to sales figures — unless, of course, those numbers are really, really impressive. That’s the case with the hardcover collection for Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s Kick-Ass, which Marvel reports has shipped nearly 100,000 copies since its release on Feb. 17. Almost 40 percent of those has gone to the direct market. [press release]
If there were an award for best convention report, Seth Kushner would surely win with this series of portraits from last weekend’s MoCCA Festival featuring such notables as Bill Ayers, Kyle Baker, Gabrielle Bell, Dean Haspiel, Jaime Hernandez, Chip Kidd, David Mazzucchelli, Frank Miller, Paul Pope, Frank Santoro and Dash Shaw.
Publishing | Helped by March’s five Wednesdays, sales of periodical comics jumped 20 percent last month, while graphic novels dropped 10 percent. Combined, sales were up 11 percent over March 2009.
The final issue of DC’s Blackest Night led Diamond’s Top 300, selling an estimated 135,000 copies, followed at No. 2 by Marvel’s Siege #3 with about 113,000. Retail news and analysis website ICv2.com notes that “publishers show no signs of being able to shake their addiction to the use of variant covers as their primary sales incentive,” as DC used 1-in-25 variants to increase sales of its Blackest Night and Rise and Fall tie-ins, while Marvel turned to 1-in-15 Deadpool variants to boost sales of its Siege books. Multiple covers also paid off for Dynamite Entertainment, whose Kevin’s Smith Green Hornet #1 landed on the chart at No. 20, with about 54,000 copies.
The graphic-novel chart was topped by Marvel/Icon’s Kick-Ass premiere hardcover, with about 7,200 copies, followed by the sixth volume of Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, with about 7,000. [ICv2.com]
Hard to believe that MoCCA Art Festival is nine years old. Its creation was a no-brainer, when you think about it: An alternative and independent comics convention was a natural fit for New York City, given the sheer volume of their creators scattered through the boroughs and ‘burbs–Manhattan and Brooklyn in particular–and the city’s general level of interest in the arts. In a way, I’ve come to see it as emblematic of the success of comics in the ’00s, which was a similar story of taking advantage of the talent available and getting it into the hands of an audience ripe for the tapping.
But the show had a pretty heavy hiccup last year. Its move from the much-beloved Puck Building to the 69th Regiment Armory seemed to flummox the organizers, who ended up stuck in traffic with a whole lot of books, leaving exhibitors with nothing to sell well into the initial afternoon and forcing attendees to wait in the sun. Meanwhile, broiling heat turned the venue into something approximating a pottery kiln, making every minute on the floor an endurance test. The MoCCA organization’s original response to complaints was on the lackluster side. Would they fare better the following year?
The answer is yes. For starters: It was cooler inside. Last year’s inferno was still very much on people’s minds–I heard publishers and visitors alike complaining about it, and one writer pointed out that the unpleasant conditions were a surefire way to keep casual fans from walking in the door. So the move to April was a smart one, and the gorgeous spring weather a lucky break, given that the city had hit 90 degrees earlier in the week. It still got a little sweaty in there by the end of each day, but that’s more or less par for the convention course.
Legal | In what some have already dubbed “the next Christopher Handley case,” Wikipedia co-founder Lawrence Sanger has reported Wikimedia Commons to the FBI for “knowingly distributing child pornography” in violation of Section 1466A of the U.S. PROTECT Act. Sanger, who left Wikipedia in 2002 and four years later launched the rival Citizendium, specifically points to entries on pedophilia and lolicon.
Manga collector Christopher Handley was sentenced in February under the same federal statute for possessing “obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children and mailing obscene material.” [The Register, Icarus Publishing, Geekosystem]
Business | This profile of Walt Disney Company CEO Robert Iger suggests there’s already friction between Marvel’s Isaac Perlmutter and Disney’s consumer productions division: “Hollywood, familiar with Mr. Perlmutter’s penchant for ruling his roost, has started to whisper: Will he turn into Mr. Iger’s version of Harvey Weinstein, the hard-charging Miramax co-founder who caused Mr. Eisner so many headaches after Disney acquired the little studio?” [The New York Times]
If you’re looking for something to do Saturday night after the MoCCA Art Festival you probably can’t go wrong with the official after-party at the Village Pourhouse (64 Third Avenue at 11th Street), which will feature DJ sets by Paul Pope, Dean Haspiel and Brian Heater. The party kicks off at 7 p.m., and benefits MoCCA.
Heater has the poster, illustrated by Pope and designed by Dark Igloo (you can see the full image here after the break). Pope, meanwhile, offers an observation about the Kirby-inspired art and the work of the King himself: “It’s a subtle visual point, but if you look at the hand in the bottom left circle frame, you’ll see the fingers have 4 digits. It always mystified me how Kirby would draw hands with a 4th digit on the fingers. He had no regard for correct anatomy — and many times no regard for proper physics or mechanics — yet he made drawn things seem to have real solidity and mass.”
We have no complaints about the big publishers bringing in panels and parties, but the best part of MoCCA is seeing new works by emerging or established creators and getting the opportunity to meet them one-on-one. Here are some of the individual creators who will be there: Our own Sean T. Collins will be showing off his David Bowie bio-comic The Side Effects of the Cocaine with co-author Isaac Moylan.
MoCCA is just around the corner—tomorrow, actually—and the cards and letters are still rolling in from folks who plan to be there. Top Shelf is kicking things off tonight with a Swedish Invasion party, and they will be debuting their new lineup of Swedish graphic novels as well as James Kochalka’s SuperF*ckers, Matt Kindt’s Super Spy (vol. 2): The Lost Dossiers, Jeffrey Brown’s Undeleted Scenes, and Dodgem Logic, edited by Alan Moore. Guests will include Alex Robinson and Kevin Cannon.
Legendary comics artist Neal Adams has teamed up with Disney to produce 10 motion comics called “They Spoke Out: American Voices of Protest Against the Holocaust.” According to the New York Times, “each episode will highlight a rarely told story of Americans who helped rescue Jews from the Holocaust and include a mix of animation, traditional comic book art, period photographs and film.”
I went to Kids Comic Con last year and it was amazing. This one event really captures what comics are all about — fun! There were big-name artists there as well as newcomers promoting their first projects, and the room was full of kids who were running around having the time of their lives. The con offers the opportunity to meet creators, take part in a hands-on workshop, or just sit and read and draw some comics; it’s as laid back as anything involving hundreds of kids can possibly be.
This year’s KCC takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at Bronx Community College in New York. Admission is free for kids, $5 for adults (17 and over), and you don’t have to preregister or stand on line. DC and Archie will be there, as well as Chris Giarrusso, creator of the Mini-Marvels and G-Man: Cape Crisis. The con is organized by Alex Simmons, a writer for Archie Comics, so you know a good time is guaranteed for all.
Indy comics publisher Drawn & Quarterly is bringing Adrian Tomine, Gabrielle Bell, R. Sikoryak and James Sturm to MoCCA, and all four will be doing panels and signings at the D&Q booth; check the publisher’s blog for the schedule.
Dan Nadel sent us that Doug Johnson painting, which he says approximates the vibe at the PictureBox booth. What’s going on? PictureBox will be debuting two books, Charles Willeford’s I Was Looking for a Street and Thurber’s new 1-800 MICE #4, Nadel adds, “There will also be the usual extra special items from everyone from Neal Adams to Anya Davidson. Yes, you read that correctly. Ask nicely and I’ll show you the original pages for Real Deal that will be for sale for the first time.” Frank Santoro will also be there with a massive selection of back issues priced at $3 or less.
In addition, Peter Blegvad will be doing a signing at the booth on Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m.
Nadel will also be debuting his own book, Art in Time: Unknown Comic Book Adventures 1940-1980, at the Abrams booth and will be signing there at 1 pm on Saturday.
Fantagraphics Books will be bringing an impressive roster of creators, including Arnold Roth, Al Jaffee, Gahan Wilson, Dash Shaw, Charles Burns, Jaime Hernandez, and Miss Lasko-Gross. Check their MoCCA post at the Flog blog for the complete schedule of panels and signings.
Fantagraphics will also be be debuting a number of new books at MoCCA, some of which won’t be available in stores until much later this year. Visitors will be able to score copies of Artichoke Tales by Megan Kelso, Best American Comics Criticism, edited by Ben Schwartz, Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird by Tony Millionaire, Captain Easy, Vol. 1 by Roy Crane, Dungeon Quest by Joe Daly, Culture Corner by Basil Wolverton, Blazing Combat (softcover) by Archie Goodwin & Co., Krazy & Ignatz 1916-1918 by Geo. Herriman, The Search for Smilin’ Ed by Kim Deitch, Tales Designed to Thrizzle #6 by Michael Kupperman, Wally Gropius by Tim Hensley, Weathercraft by Jim Woodring, and Temperance by Cathy Malkasian.
Boston and Philadelphia will be represented at MoCCA not only by individual artists but also by collectives based in both cities.
The Philadelphia-based collective Philly Comix Jam is launching a free quarterly alternative comics tabloid, Secret Prison, with art by Box Brown, Art Baxter, and Pat Aulisio, among others. They are starting out with a 2,000-copy limited edition that will be available at the Box Brown, Yeah Dude Distro, and free giveaway tables at MoCCA.