Retailing | Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg reports that Borders Group may file for bankruptcy protection as early as next week. Additionally the struggling book chain, the second-largest in the United States, will likely close at least 150 of its 500 remaining namesake stores. Company stock plunged in the wake of the news. A Borders spokeswoman declined comment, but referred to a Jan. 27 statement from President Mike Edwards in which he raised “the possibility of an in-court restructuring.” [Bloomberg]
Legal | Rich Johnston and retailer news and analysis site ICv2 look at potential trademark issues surrounding Marvel’s “Who Are the Mystery Men?” They note that cartoonist Bob Burden owns the trademark to the one-word “Mysterymen,” while Dark Horse and Universal Pictures control the two-word “Mystery Men” — both relating to the characters created by Burden and the 1999 movie adaptation. Dynamite Entertainment also has laid claim to “Super-Mysterymen” for its Project Superpowers series. “I have not heard from Universal yet, but I’m sure Universal will proceed in an orderly and propitious manner,” Burden said. [Bleeding Cool, ICv2.com]
It happens every year. Amidst all the hullaballoo of the big-name releases and show-stopping events and sleeper hits there are those titles that, for whatever reason, fail to generate any reviews, discussion or sales (or in some cases all three) whatsoever. 2010 was no exception. In fact, the wealth of stellar material that was released this year made it seem like there were an extraordinary number of great comics that garnered not even a peep from the blogosphere and press.
After the jump are six books that I think got nowhere near the amount of attention they deserved. There are lots more that I could include if I had the time. And I’m sure there are books that you read that you don’t think got enough praise as well. Be sure to let me know what they are in the comments section.
Welcome once again to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy based on certain spending limits — $15, $30 to spend and if we had extra money to spend on what we call the “Splurge” item. Check out Diamond’s release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.
If I had $15:
There are a lot of great periodicals coming out this week, so I’d have some hard choices to make. With only $15, I’d concentrate first on those with the cheapest prices: the first issue of Dark Horse’s new Mighty Samson ($3.50), Atomic Robo and the Deadly Art of Science #2 ($3.50), and Mouse Guard: Black Axe #1 ($3.50). I’m already a huge fan of both Atomic Robo and Mouse Guard and – based on its concept and vague memories of stories I read as a kid – hope to become one of Mighty Samson too. I’d spend the last of my money on Northern Guard #1, because I’m a sucker for Canadian superheroes.
If I had $30:
I’d add Doc Macabre #1 ($3.99), John Byrne’s Next Men #1 ($3.99), and Strange Tales 2 #3 ($4.99). “Doc Macabre” is an awesome name and I love Steve Niles’ pulp stuff, I’ve been waiting 16 years for that Next Men issue, and the Strange Tales book has a Kate Beaton story in which the Avengers go to a carnival. I’d pay five bucks just for Beaton’s deal, but it’s also got a Thing tale by Harvey Pekar (and yes, Harvey Pekar is in the story).
Welcome to our weekly round of “What would you buy if your budget was limited?” — or, as we call it, Food or Comics? Every week we set certain hypothetical spending limits on ourselves and go through the agony of trying to determine which comics come home and which ones stay on the shelves. So join Brigid Alverson, Chris Mautner and me as we run down what comics we’d buy if we only had $15 and $30 to spend, as well as what we’d get if we had some “mad” money to splurge with.
Check out Diamond’s full release list if you’d like to play along in our comments section.
If I had $15:
During the height of the 1980s Smurf craze, when the Saturday morning cartoon was sweeping the nation and there was Smurf-related merchandise everywhere, I distinctly remember walking into a stationary store and seeing an English adaptation of King Smurf, which I immediately purchased. I was aware at the time that the little blue characters had begun in France as comic book characters but was completely unprepared for how funny and delightful the original material was in comparison to the TV show. Sadly, it seemed like that book was the only entry way into that world for a long time.
All of which brings me to the point that this week sees the debut release of two new Smurf books from NBM’s Papercutz line — The Smurfs and The Magic Flute and The Purple Smurfs ($5.99 each). The first is a rather traditional band dessine comic starring medieval adventurers Johann and Peewit, and is mainly noticeable for being the first appearance of the Smurfs. The Purple Smurfs is more in the classic vein, an all-ages zombie tale in which a strange bug bite starts turning smurfs purple (black in the original French version) and hunting down the uncontaminated smurfs, all the while uttering a fearsome “Gnap!” It’s great stuff, and I’m very happy NBM is getting these classic tales by Yvan Delporte and Peyo out in the hands of kids (and grown-up kids like me) who can truly appreciate them.
Hello and welcome once again to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew talk about the comics and graphic novels that they’ve been enjoying lately. Our special guest this week is comics journalist and critic Dirk Deppey of Journalista and The Comics Journal fame.
To see what Dirk and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, read on …
Welcome once again to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is Paul Maybury, creator of the webcomic Party Bear. His work can be found in Comic Book Tattoo, various volumes of Popgun and 24seven, and, of course, the full-length graphic novel Aqua Leung. Be sure to check out the sketches he shares.
To see what Paul and the rest of the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click on the link …
Legal | A federal judge in Madison, Wisconsin, heard testimony Monday from Neil Gaiman, Todd McFarlane and Dark Ages Spawn writer Brian Holguin, but didn’t rule on Gaiman’s claim that he’s owed royalties from the characters Dark Ages Spawn, Domina and Tiffany.
In 2002, a jury found that Gaiman co-owned the copyrights Medieval Spawn, Angela and Cogliostro, which he created in 1993 for McFarlane’s Spawn series. Since then the two creators have attempted, with little success, to determine how much money Gaiman is owed for the three characters.
On Monday, Gaiman testified that he thinks Dark Ages Spawn is merely a copy of Medieval Spawn, while Domina and Tiffany are copies of Angela. Holguin, who created Dark Ages Spawn, said any similarities to Gaiman’s character were unintentional, while McFarlane argued that all of the versions of Spawn share certain features. The judge gave both parties until June 25 to submit additional arguments. [The Associated Press]
- Wildstorm will bring Joe Casey and Dustin Nguyen’s WildCATS 3.0 back into print in September.
- Wildstorm also adds another video game franchise to its publishing line, in the form of Kane & Lynch.
- Dark Horse had a few items I was unaware of in their latest round of solicitations. There’s another Grandville book coming out by Bryan Talbot called Grandville Mon Amour, and Jill Thompson’s Scary Godmother books are being collected into one huge “deluxe” edition. Also, the out-of-print Hellboy/Starman/Batman stories by James Robinson, Mike Mignola and many others are being released as a part of the Hellboy trade paperback line. There’s lots more, of course, coming from Dark Horse in August, but those jumped out at me as stuff I hadn’t heard about or missed when they were announced.
- NBM will collect Gerard Jones and Mark Badger’s Networked: Carabella on the Run in July. This is a webcomic that runs on privacyactivism.org.
- Artist David Hahn is working with comedian John Roy on a new book for Image Comics.
- Tyler James, creator of the webcomic Over, is working with Matt Zolman on a new comic called Epic.
- Sports club bars in a South Auckland, New Zealand will give away an anti “drink-driving” comic by Hicksville creator Dylan Horrocks. “An advantage with the comic medium is that people are more relaxed when they start reading one and you can reach all kinds of people and tell a story of characters making the right choice,” the creator said. Via
Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.
Today we’ll be crossing the Atlantic to take a look at the one of the most prolific cartoonists of the past 30 years, either in Europe or America, Lewis Trondheim.
The Smurfs are back! What, you didn’t know they ever left? Apparently the little blue guys have been out of print, at least in the U.S., for years, but NBM/Papercutz is bringing them back, with the first volume, The Purple Smurf, set to debut in August. (Incidentally, the Urban Dictionary has two definitions of “The Purple Smurf,” and neither of them is obscene. Go figure.)
Most people experienced the Smurfs as animated cartoons, rather than as comics, but that’s the origin — they first made their appearance in a Belgian kids’ comic in 1958. Jog, who broke the news (on a tip from Pedro Bouça), has more commentary, including the note that the purple Smurfs were actually black in the original comic; apparently the symbolism was too heavy-handed for the folks at Hanna-Barbera, who re-colored them in the animated cartoon.
NBM/Papercutz does a nice job when they bring European comics over here, except for a tendency to shrink them too much. At first glance, these look like full-size albums (like Tintin), but the type makes me think they are going to be smaller. The Amazon listings don’t give a trim size.
Hotwire Comics Vol. 3
Edited by Glenn Head
Fantagraphics Books, 138 pages, $22.99
Once again, Hotwire returns to attempt to fill in that edgy alt-comix niche that was so prominent in the 80s and early 90s and has seemingly been eclipsed by the more literary, rarefied indie comics of today (sort of). If for no other reason, this anthology should be lauded for giving folks like Mary Fleener and Mack White the opportunity to showcase their work, since no one else seems to be interested in doing so these days. There is always the occasional dull or misguided piece (David Paleo and David Sandlin’s work continues to fail to interest me), but the stellar work by folks like Michael Kupperman, R. Sikoryak, Onsmith, Johnny Ryan, Tim Lane and Mats!? make this well worth your time.
“I know this is an ill-advised post, I shouldn’t be doing this. Suck it up, and shut up like I do every year when the noms are announced and we get crums. Well this year, we didn’t even get crums, we got nuthin’! And my frustration level has just reached boiling point. How about Rick Geary’s Treasury? Trondheim’s Little Nothings? The Dungeon series? Kleid and Cinquegrani’s The Big Khan? Year of Loving Dangerously by the comic industry’s favorite punching bag Ted Rall (but also beautifully illustrated by Pablo Callejo)? All of these and most of our books get outsized recognition from the press, online and off, including the growing contingent of online comics reviewers. These aren’t worth honoring? A number of titles got multiple nominations. WHY? With so much good stuff out there worth nominating, how about spreading the wealth, guys? Who do we need to give sexual favors to to get the recognition we and our authors deserve? Huh?”
–NBM publisher Terry Nantier, on NBM receiving no Eisner Award nominations this year
Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading. JK Parkin is off having fun at WonderCon, so it falls to me to handle this week’s column. Our special guest this week is New Zealand cartoonist Dylan Horrocks, who some of you might know as the author of the seminal graphic novel Hicksville, which was just re-released by Drawn & Quarterly.
To see what Dylan and the rest of us are reading hit the link below. Hard. Then let us know what you yourself are perusing in the comments section.
Our guest this week is the esteemed critic Ng Suat Tong, who has written some quite memorable pieces for The Comics Journal, but lately can be found as a regular contributor to The Hooded Utilitarian blog.
To find out what Suat and the rest of us are reading, click on the link below. And don’t forget to let us know what you’re currently reading in the comments section.
The Year of Loving Dangerously
by Ted Rall & Pablo G. Callejo
For a brief time, in my supposed salad days, I had the alleged good fortune to date two different women at the same time. My friends frequently kidded me about my good luck, but the truth was I was absolutely miserable. Plagued by guilt, constantly shuttling between the two women, desperately trying to remember who was responsible for, say, the flowers left on my car, and knowing that sometime soon I was going to have to break one of their hearts, put an amount of stress on my shoulders that outweighed any supposed benefits. My behavior during that time still ranks as one of my biggest regrets.
Ted Rall doesn’t have that problem. In the 1980s he juggled, lied to and slept with numerous women, a fact he chronicles in his latest graphic novel, The Year of Loving Dangerously, without much angst on his part.