"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
Publishing | Early analysis of 2014 manga sales shows that the category has appeared to turn around, with sales increasing last year, driven by the Attack on Titan juggernaut. [ICv2]
Publishing | Black Mask Studios, which started as the publisher of Occupy Comics and now publishes a number of series in different styles and genres, launched a YouTube channel this week as an outlet for its animation and motion-comics projects. [The New York Times]
Business | Marvel parent company Disney has reportedly laid off as many as 17 of the 60 full-time employees at DisneyToon Studio, the Glendale, California-based division that produces animated direct-to-video sequels and prequels, such as The Lion King 1 1/2 and Mulan II, the Disney Fairies releases and the occasional feature film, most recently Planes: Fire & Rescue. While Disney has been cutting positions throughout the company for the past few years — dating back to 2011 with the elimination of 200 jobs in its interactive division and about a dozen at Marvel — Variety chalks up these layoffs to the declining home-video market. [Variety, Deadline]
Passings | Dan Lynch, former editorial cartoonist for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, died Sunday at age 67. Lynch also worked for the Kansas City Times, and his cartoons were syndicated nationally and appeared in Time and Newsweek. However, his career was cut short by a debilitating stroke in 2001. “Dan had (what I thought was) a fabulous drawing style,” said Julie Inskeep, publisher and president of The Journal Gazette. “And, in the 20-plus years he worked at the JG, he provided a vast array of cartoon topics – always welcome, though not always in agreement with our editorial board. But he got people to think and react in his special and powerful way.” [Fort Wayne Journal Gazette]
Legal | A South Korea court has ruled an exhibition devoted to One Piece can be held as planned after it was abruptly canceled earlier this month following allegations that Eiichiro Oda’s popular pirate manga contains images that resemble the Rising Sun flag, considered a symbol of Japanese imperialism in South Korea. The company staging the One Piece show, which includes life-sized statues, rare figures and Oda’s sketches, asked the court to step in after the War Memorial of Korea in Seoul pulled the plug on the event just days before its scheduled July 12 opening. The court found that One Piece can’t be considered to “[hail] Japanese imperialism” simply because it depicts a flag reminiscent of the Rising Sun; and even if those images are of the Rising Sun flag, it’s mainly shown in a negative light. [The Asahi Shimbun]
Publishing | Comics archivist and publisher Rachel Richey will launch a Kickstarter campaign in September to fund a collection of Johnny Canuck comics. Created by Leo Bachie and published from 1941 to 1946 by Dime Comics, the character was a super-patriotic hero who once fought Hitler mano-a-mano. Richey was behind last year’s successful Kickstarter to revive another uniquely Canadian character, Nelvana of the North. [Global News]
Digital comics | Todd Allen chats with the Madefire folks about branching out to Windows 8; they launched a free five-issue Transformers motion comics on Windows 8 just last week. Madefire is also available on iOS and via DeviantArt. [Publishers Weekly]
Neal Adams will appear Saturday at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles for not only a signing but also for a sneak peek at the upcoming Blood motion comic, animated by Continuity Studios (the plan is for the story, originally serialized in Dark Horse Presents, to be eventually be developed as an animated feature).
However, it doesn’t stop there: Adams also will present a discussion about the Silver Age, followed by a Q&A.
And for fans with a sweet tooth, Sweet! Hollywood will use the event to introduce its set of signature candy bars with packaging featuring Adams characters like Bucky O’Hare, Crazyman and Armor, as well as “Neal’s best illustrated paintings” (they’re $8.99 each). Sweet! Hollywood previously teamed with Meltdown for the special Hellboy chocolates, released to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Hellboy: Seed of Destruction #1.
The lecture is scheduled for Saturday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. (the $5 tickets can be purchased here), followed by the signing.
The motion-comics platform Madefire announced this morning that four more comics publishers have signed on: Arcana, Archie Comics, Lion Forge and Seraphim.
There’s a definite skew toward horror in this announcement: The first Archie title to go on the platform is the zombie comic Afterlife With Archie, the Arcana title mentioned is The Intrinsic, and Seraphim is the publisher of horror writer Clive Barker’s work. The outlier is Lion Forge, which is best known as the creator of digital-first adaptations of 1980s TV shows; its first Madefire comic will apparently be Knight Rider.
That shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as Madefire seems determined to make motion comics for adult readers. The current lineup includes Tom Taylor’s dark Batman/Superman story Injustice: Gods Among Us, as well as Batman: Arkham Origins, Hellboy in Hell and Infinite Crisis.
Madefire is available as an iOS app and on DeviantART. It’s not unlike Thrillbent, although the Madefire comics I’ve read have more aggressive animation. On Thrillbent, each swipe makes one thing happen — a panel is revealed, a word balloon appears, the background shifts somehow. Madefire also works on swipes (or page turns on DeviantART), but several things may happen with each page turn, so the reader is a little less in control of the timing. That may be a plus in horror comics, because it allows the creator to surprise the reader in a way that can’t really happen on the printed page.
Auctions | The Leicestershire (England) Police are auctioning about 1,200 comics — most of them are post-2000 DC Comics titles, described as in mint condition — seized as criminal assets in Dorset (the police force doesn’t have its own eBay account). “Some are signed by the artists and they are mainly Superman and Spider Man, that sort of thing,” said Dave Hargrave, proceeds of crime asset realization manager. “[…] The person who had the comics was obviously a collector.” About 400 comics have been sold, bringing in £600 (about $985 U.S.). [Leicester Mercury]
Publishing | Avatar Press has returned to Diamond Book Distributors as its distributor to bookstores, the mass market, library services, and other markets. Avatar left DBD in 2011 to sign on with BOOM! Studios to distribute its books through Simon & Schuster in the United States and HarperCollins in Canada. [ICv2]
If, in the more than four years since its premiere on iTunes, you never got around to watching the 12-part motion-comic adaptation of Superman: Red Son, now’s your chance — for free: The fan site Superman Homepage notes that Warner Bros. has released the entire serial on YouTube, so you can judge for yourself how the 2003 Elseworlds miniseries by Mark Millar, Dave Johnson, Kilian Plunkett and others makes the transition.
Fair warning, though: It’s spread over 25 videos, and this 2009 adaptation may seem a little rough when compared to some more recent motion comics. But, hey, it’s free!
Digital comics | IDW Publishing released its first batch of digital comics on the motion-comics platform Madefire this week. The selection includes partially animated My Little Pony, Star Trek and Transformers comics, which sell for $1.99 each. Jeff Webber, IDW’s vice president of digital publishing, noted that because Madefire has a partnership with DeviantArt, the books are being exposed to “an incredibly broad network of illustration fans.” To commemorate My Little Pony’s Madefire debut, Dave Gibbons drew the image at right “to show that Friendship IS Magic!” `[Publishers Weekly]
Passings | Cartoonist Jack Matsuoka, who chronicled life in the Poston, Arizona, internment camp in his book Camp II, Block 211, has died at the age of 87. , Born in the United States to Japanese parents, Matsuoka was a teenager when his family was sent to internment camps in Salinas, California, and then Poston. After leaving the camp he was drafted and served as an interpreter for the U.S. Army in occupied Japan. He went to college on the G.I. Bill and worked as an illustrator and cartoonist for many years. Camp II, Block 211 was based on sketches he did while living in the camps and set aside for many years; his mother found them and encouraged him to share them with the public. They were put on exhibit in San Francisco and then collected into the book, which was first published in 1974. A revised edition was released in 2003. [The Rafu Shimpo]
“As a comic book publisher, I am growing tired of third parties coming up to us and saying, ‘You know what your problem is? More people would read comic books if they were digital somehow, like with some bad animation or if they were more Choose Your Own Adventure, where you clicked somehow while you were reading them.’ Yes, because the problem with novels is that the reader can’t control the story. Because movies would be better if the audience voted on an ending.
These people clearly never realize that their approach is insulting to the medium.”
Shout! Factory has announced the Sept. 10 release of Marvel Knights Animation’s Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk, a motion-comics adaptation of the Marvel miniseries by Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof, artist Leinil Francis Yu and colorist Dave McCaig.
The comic is somewhat notorious for its lengthy delays: Announced as a six-issue bimonthly miniseries, Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk debuted in December 2006 but wasn’t completed until May 2009.
The 10th the title produced by Shout! Factory since 2009, it joins the likes of Inhumans, Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D., Black Panther and the latest, Wolverine: Origin, which was released July 26.
The direct-to-DVD release, which retails for $14.97, includes interviews with Yu and Marvel Knights Animation’s Supervising Producer Kalia Cheng. You can read the official synopsis below:
DC Entertainment will release a motion comic the explores the backstory of the upcoming Mad Max video game from Avalanche Studios and WB Games.
Written by Tom Taylor (Injustice: Gods Among Us, Earth 2) and illustrated by Jason Shawn Alexander (Legends of the Dark Knight), the story introduces Max’s trusted mechanic Chumbucket, who plays a central role in the game, which will be released next year in conjunction with director George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road.
“I love the Mad Max movies,” Alexander tells USA Today, adding that the motion comic “was a great bit of nostalgia for me and also an opening to lend my own touches to this iconic character.”
In the game, set in the post-apocalyptic world of the movie series, Max must cross a desert wasteland after his Interceptor his stolen by a gang of marauders.
Shout! Factory has debuted the trailer for Marvel Knights Animation’s Wolverine: Origin, the motion-comic adaptation of the 2001-2002 limited series that, as the title suggests, revealed the early years of the ubiquitous Marvel mutant. It was written by Paul Jenkins from a story by Jenkins, Joe Quesada and Bill Jemas, and illustrated by Andy Kubert and Richard Isanove.
Wolverine: Origin is the ninth title produced by Shout! Factory since 2009, joining the likes of Inhumans, Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D., Iron Man: Extremis, Black Panther and, most recently, Astonishing X-Men: Unstoppable. It will be available on DVD beginning July 9 for $14.97.
The timing of the release couldn’t be better, considering that director James Mangold’s The Wolverine premieres July 26.
How quickly we’re evolving: From Yvyes Bigerel’s rough demo in February 2009 to the near-simultaneous launch of Mark Waid’s Thrillbent and Marvel’s Infinite Comics in March 2012 to the Marvel ReEvolution suite of digital initiatives announced earlier this year (and still coming). And now we have DC Comics’ entry, DC2 (“DC Squared”), which looks to be the company’s take on Bigerel’s concepts. Also announced is DC2 Multiverse, a choose-your-own-adventure style digital comic that will inform DC on readers’ story choices.
While the latter seems a little creepy, it’s becoming clear that after years of digital and webcomics primarily mimicking print comic books and comic strips, a new kind of comic is emerging, one that is changing how they’re made and read.
These current platforms were far from the first to experiment with digital. Artists like Cayetano Garza Jr. began experimenting with limited effects and layout as early as 1998. Scott McCloud’s infinite canvas theory, in which digital could break free of the confines of the limited dimensions of a page, was proposed in 2000, ironically in the pages of his print book Reinventing Comics. Experiments with using an infinite canvas followed, but it never grabbed hold as a standard format. Mostly, webcomics have echoed the structure and dimensions of daily newspaper strips with the occasional experimentation.
That means creators will be able to make their own motion comics using Madefire’s tools, and then distribute them through deviantART and the Madefire’s app. DeviantART also has a new Motion Books section in which visitors can preview a dozen Madefire titles previously only available on the company’s iOS app, and purchase chapters for 10 cents each (they remain free through the app for a limited time).