Publishing | IDW Publishing has promoted Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall to the new position of chief creative officer, expanding his duties to encompass the company’s efforts across all platforms. Ryall, who joined IDW in 2004 from Kevin Smith’s Movie Poop Shoot website, will remain as editor-in-chief. [press release]
Publishing | In not-exactly-unexpected news, Dark Horse will move its online anthology Dark Horse Presents from MySpace to the publisher’s website. DHP originally appeared in print from 1986 to 2000, and was relaunched in digital form at MySpace in August 2007. [Newsarama]
Publishing | John Jackson Miller analyzes direct-market sales figures for May, which saw graphic novel sales slip 15 percent from the previous year: “My suspicion continues to be that orders for bigger-ticket items have been more likely to be impacted by the general recession; retailers are letting trade paperback inventories fall a bit, even in months in which they’re ordering more comic books (even given the price increases).” [The Comichron]
It was an awesome thing to behold. My friend Justin Aclin — editor of ToyFare magazine, head writer of Twisted ToyFare Theater, and author of the graphic novel Hero House — came up with a great idea for a comic, about a super-powered team of militant atheists who track down and kill supposedly supernatural entities for meddling in humanity’s affairs. This was on a Monday. On Tuesday he pitched it to Dark Horse. On Wednesday it was greenlit. From idea to approval in under 48 hours. Amazing, right?
By now you’ve seen the end result: S.H.O.O.T. First, an eight-page story from the final issue of MySpace Dark Horse Presents. But if you’re an aspiring comics writer, perhaps you wanna see exactly how Aclin managed to catch lightning in a bottle in the first place.
Fortunately, he’s got your hook-up: On his blog, Aclin has posted his successful proposal for the comic. It sets up the concept, introduces the characters, and walks you through the plot of the initial short story in seven paragraphs and one catchphrase — pretty much a how-to for clear, concise, compelling comics pitches. Read and learn.
Over at Comics Alliance, ToyFare editor, Twisted ToyFare Theater head writer and Hero House author Justin Aclin is talking up his upcoming story for MySpace Dark Horse Presents, “S.H.O.O.T. First.” It’s a paranormal/superhero book in the vein of B.P.R.D., but with a twist: The titular team’s acronym stands for the Secular Humanist Occult Obliteration Taskforce, and their mission is to wipe out any and all supernatural entities in the name of atheism. Says Aclin:
S.H.O.O.T. are basically militant atheists, tasked with hunting down supernatural creatures, especially those of religious significance, that they don’t even believe in….every time you read a comic about someone fighting the supernatural, they’re really doing it on the supernatural’s own terms. If you’re fighting a vampire, you bring stakes and holy water – that kind of thing. I don’t think there’s ever been a team like “S.H.O.O.T.” that basically thinks it’s all bunk, and just goes after any threat with science and bullets, and scientific bullets.
I swung by the Dark Horse booth, which was doing a booming business, to chat with Jeremy Atkins about a couple of things. Something that got buried in my Carla Speed McNeil story is the return of the print version of Dark Horse Presents. The relaunch will coincide with Dark Horse’s 25th anniversary next year, Atkins said, and the publisher will also relocate the online version of Dark Horse Presents from MySpace to their own site. “We will have new content especially for print,” he said, and he expects the print comics will appeal to a different audience than the web version. Dark Horse will continue to collect the webcomics into print volumes, and the print comics will also be collected into trades with a different format.
Manga fans have been wondering about the CLAMP “mangettes” (essentially, mini-manga) that were announced several years ago but have never materialized. Atkins pointed out that Dark Horse has been publishing omnibus editions of earlier CLAMP titles, including Clover and Chobits, with a Cardcaptor Sakura omnibus on the way. “We decided it made more sense to focus on getting collections of all these materials, and create an association between CLAMP and Dark Horse,” he said. “We will do new CLAMP material in the future. We have a relationship with CLAMP to develp new material, we just have to do it.”
Every day people post comics on the Internet. Here are some of the ones that caught our eyes.
“The Artist Statement” by Hector Casanova
The next edition of MySpace Dark Horse Presents comes out on Wednesday, but courtesy of Dark Horse we’re happy to bring you the entire third chapter of Mark Crilley’s “Brody’s Ghost” before this week’s issue goes live.
Mark spoke to CBR about the story in January, and I asked him if he wanted to set up this third chapter. So, let’s hear from Mark:
This story centers on Brody’s training with his samurai mentor ghost, Kagemura. We’ve leaped ahead to a point in the saga where Brody is in the thick of his training. I wanted to show how demanding it was and the toll it was taking on him. In the series I’ll be challenging myself to make the acquisition of supernatural powers as believable as possible; not a miraculous ‘bit by a radioactive spider’ type deal, but something more gradual: a process the reader can almost imagine going through him or herself. This eight-pager conveys some of the training process and also some of the mental tug of war that goes on between Brody and Kagemura. In the series we’ll get to see more of this, following Brody’s transformation from a deadbeat loser to a young man of truly superhuman abilities.
You can check out the first two chapters on the MySpace Dark Horse Presents page. And all of chapter three can be found right after the jump …
As mentioned earlier this week on CBR, Dark Horse has released the January edition of MySpace Dark Horse Presents a little bit early. New stories by Mark Crilley, Scott Allie and Kevin McGovern, Jill Thompson and David Malki! all went live a little earlier today.
“We’re putting this one online early–usually MDHP goes up the first Wednesday of the month, but because of Diamond cutting off the shipment of new books on the final Wednesday in December, we thought it would be cool to deliver some comics ourselves on December 30,” Allie told CBR. “I wish it did something for the retailers that are missing a week’s revenue–a crucial week’s revenue–but at least readers will have 26 new pages of comics.”
Those updates include:
- Although only BOOM! and Top Cow have been announced so far, Hoseley said seven publishers have signed on for the launch, and the other five will be announced in the next few weeks leading up to the San Diego Comic Con.
- The software will include a “Manga Mode” that flips the left-to-right reading order. That’s pretty damn clever.
- The software will also allow for “age-restricted sub-accounts,” so your kids can read the Muppets but can’t get to your Black Kiss comics.
- Hoseley says that “while we certainly welcome DC and Marvel’s participation, the entire system was designed to have a business model that would be successful and profitable for all involved if they chose not to participate.”
There’s more at the link, so click over and read. This gets more interesting by the day …
Yesterday the social media megasite MySpace announced that it was laying off almost 30 percent of its staff, about 400 employees — a move their CEO called “necessary for the long-term health and culture of MySpace.” Per the L.A. Times, MySpace’s user numbers are down from last year, and ad revenue is projected to fall 15 percent in 2009.
As reported on Comics Alliance yesterday and confirmed by our sources, MySpace Comic Books is shutting down. An attempt to e-mail the current contact for MySpace Comic Books resulted in a response that he was no longer with the company.
No doubt with the 30 percent cut in employees, you can expect other initiatives on MySpace to be cut or at least scaled down as well.
The MySpace Comic Books community launched in 2007 and has played host to numerous comic previews, full issues of comics like Hexed, interviews, a news feed from Comic Book Resources and MyCup O’ Joe, which ended its run on May 1. MySpace is owned by News Corporation, which also owns 20th Century Fox, FOX Broadcasting Company, The New York Post, HarperCollins and IGN Entertainment, among many, many other media outlets.
With JK Parkin taking a well-deserved vacation this week, Robot 6 is pleased (and lucky) to have writer and new-media developer Sam Humphries stepping in to lend a hand.
Sam worked for more than two years in content and development at MySpace, where he was the architect of the successful MySpace Comic Books program. The initiative’s MySpace Dark Horse Presents online anthology earned an Eisner Award last year for “Sugarshock!,” the short story by Joss Whedon and Fabio Moon.
Sam lives in Los Angeles, and can’t stop reading Boy’s Club.
Because I was at WonderCon, I missed this past weekend’s MyCup ‘o Joe when it popped up on MySpace, but Paul Hornschemeier points out a question from a fan about Marvel’s upcoming “indie project,” for lack of a better name (and I’m sure there is one) that’ll feature stories by Hornschemeier, Jim Rugg, Stan Sakai, Paul Pope and, holy crap, Jason, among others:
At the New York Comic Con, CB Cebulski mentioned that the Marvel “Indie Project” was coming along nicely. I’m wondering if you could tell us any of the talent involved or tease some artwork. Anyone in particular you are stoked to have on board?
JQ: It’s definitely moving forward—and looking better and better every day. There are some huge names in indy comics involved with this project and we couldn’t be more excited about the work they’re turning in. Just to name a few of the talents involved, we’ve got Paul Pope, Stan Sakai, Paul Hornschemeier, Dash Shaw, Junko Mizuno, Jim Rugg, Corey Lewis…and a bunch more small press superstars contributing some truly amazing stories. We just got some outstanding pages in from the cartoonist JASON and I gotta tell you, this is going to be one awesome book. Stay tuned!
Continuing with the “show must go on” theme of the last few weeks, The Hero Initiative’s Jim McLauchlin interviews writer Dan Slott over at MySpace, talking to him about Mighty Avengers, Spider-Man, Ren & Stimpy, continuity and taking the “fun” out of comics:
With Marvel chief Joe Quesada out of pocket, Jim McLauchlin has been interviewing other folks from Marvel for their weekly MySpace feature. Usually he talks to editors about what’s going down at Marvel, but this past Friday McLauchlin interviewed Uncanny X-Men, Invincible Iron Man and Casanova writer Matt Fraction about his career in comics. Fraction talks a little bit about his first comic, Rex Mantooth, Kung Fu Gorilla … I’ve never read Rex Mantooth, but I give it a five-star review based on the title and cover alone:
Earlier this week BOOM! Studios announced a promotion with MySpace where each issue of their new mini-series Hexed will pop up in full on the popular social networking site the same day it hit stores. The first issue is up there now.
When they did this last year with North Wind, they received mixed feedback from retailers on the concept, and generally negative feedback on the lack of communication about it before orders were due for the book. I collected some responses I received from retailers in a post on Blog@. Although this time around I haven’t heard much about retailers reacting to the promotion, but I thought it might be worth talking to a few to see what they thought, so I emailed about 20 or so yesterday afternoon.
Yesterday Mark Waid, editor-in-chief of BOOM! Studios, announced via a YouTube video that BOOM! would post full issues of their Hexed mini-series on MySpace the same day the book was released in stores, just like they did with the North Wind mini-series a year ago. As I was already talking to Chip Mosher, their sales and marketing guy, about several other things going on with BOOM! when the video was released, I was able to sneak in a few questions about the promotion as well.
My thanks to Chip for his time.
JK: Last year BOOM! put the complete North Wind mini-series up on MySpace Comic Books, with each issue going up on the day it hit retailers’ shelves. And now you’re doing it again with HEXED. Why did you choose HEXED, versus any of your other titles?
Chip: Right time. Right place. Right book.
Personally, I see Hexed as one of the books that is kicking off BOOM! 3.0. I consider Mark coming on board as E-i-C as BOOM! 2.0 — where he spearheaded the stabilizing of the line-up and built up editorial. I look at this next year as BOOM! 3.0 — where the promise of Mark Waid as E-i-C is realized in full. The team here at BOOM! is running on all cylinders. You’ll see a whole host of books coming out of BOOM! in the next year, shepherded by Mark and the editorial team, that will just rock your socks off.