Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
Comics | The comics industry has undergone seismic changes in the past few years, and Heidi MacDonald rounds up some recent comments from retailers and pundits about what they’re seeing. It’s a good read that leads to many other good reads, but here’s the takeaway: “ The real issue — one that many people in the industry may have trouble dealing with — is that the comics audience has changed. They didn’t get into comics during the first run of the Ultimate universe. They didn’t come in with the original 52 mini series or Final Crisis. They probably didn’t even start with the New 52. The methods and product mixes that were formulated to deal with a readership that grew up when comics were a niche product for nerds have to be reevaluated when new readers are coming in from the top properties in every form of entertainment, from graphic novels that they were taught in school, from webcomics, from creators with strong social media, from every which way. There is no well marked four lane highway to comics any more, just a delightful variety of roads, interstates and worn down dirt paths.” [The Beat]
The latest Humble Bundle book bundle has been unveiled, and it’s a musical mix of novels and graphic novels that are either by or about musicians.
The Humble Bundle deal lasts for two weeks, and it works like this: For the first tier, you pay what you want — as little as a penny. This gets you seven items, including three graphic novels: The first volume of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s gods-as-rock-stars series The Wicked + The Divine, the first volume of Rick Spears and Chuck BB’s Black Metal and This Is a Souvenir: Songs of Spearmint & Shirley Lee, an anthology of short stories based on the songs of the British group Spearmint, plus three prose novels (two by Rush drummer Neil Peart) and an audio collection of Pete Seeger’s spoken-word pieces.
Manga | Is former manga powerhouse Tokyopop coming back? Once the largest publisher of manga in North America, the company stopped publishing new manga in 2011, but didn’t go bankrupt and never really went away. Tokyopop is selling many of its “global manga” titles digitally and in print, on demand, and it ‘s planning panels at both Anime Expo in Los Angeles and Comic-Con International in San Diego. On his blog, CEO Stu Levy drops a few hints, saying he’s “rebuilding” Tokyopop. [Tokyopop]
Digital comics | Rob Salkowitz analyzes the latest news from Amazon and comiXology and suggests there’s more to the story than meets the eye. While fans may view the renewal of Marvel’s deal with comiXology as a story about a digital comics service, Salkowitz says it’s really about bringing comics to the mass market through Amazon: “Kindle isn’t Amazon’s platform for reaching comic book readers. It’s Amazon’s platform for reaching all readers. comiXology counts its revenues in millions. Amazon counts its revenues in billions. Moving these titles from a superior specialty app to an inferior mainstream app isn’t a big deal for existing fans but it’s a huge potential expansion of the market.” [ICv2]
Like comiXology and Marvel Unlimited, DC Entertainment and Image Comics are celebrating Comic-Con International with sales on select digital titles.
Through Tuesday, DC is marking the 75th anniversary of the Dark Knight by offering digital downloads of a whopping 750 Batman comics for 99 cents each. These aren’t typical dollar-bin titles, however; they include The Dark Knight Returns, The Long Halloween, No Man’s Land, Year One, Hush, The Court of the Owls and All Star Batman & Robbin the Boy Wonder. If you’re wanting to go way back, there are comics dating back to 1938, with Batman’s debut in Detective Comics #27.
This year’s Eisner Awards nominations were dominated by two publishers, Fantagraphics and Image Comics, with the former earning 18 and the latter 17 (plus three shared). To celebrate the occasion, Image is holding a 50 percent-off sale on digital editions of all 10 nominated titles, for a limited time. That means you’re getting single issues for just 99 cents each.
Whether you’ve fallen behind on some of the series or want to see what all the hubbub is about, now is pretty good time to check out East of West, Lazarus, The Manhattan Projects, Nowhere Men, Outlaw Territory, Pretty Deadly, Rat Queens, Saga, Sex Criminals and Zero.
Conventions | Declaring this weekend’s inaugural Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal, Cumbria, England, a success, organizers have already announced the dates for next year’s event: Oct. 17-19. “Our first year has been everything we could have wished for,” said festival director Julie Tait. “There was a huge buzz right through Kendal – from The Brewery Arts Centre right to The Box on Wildman Street, as well as at the shopping centre and the library. The town has really got involved and there has been art work on every street. It feels like the weekend has involved everyone – from adults following their passion for Viz humour to kids learning how Peppa Pig was created.” This year’s festival featured guests ranging from Charlie Adlard and Ed Brubaker to David Lloyd and Trina Robbins. [Cumbria Live]
Hello everyone, Happy Memorial Day weekend to America, and welcome one and all to What Are You Reading? This week we are joined by special guests Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder, the creative team behind Halloween Eve and the upcoming Rocket Girl. I spoke to them earlier this month about Rocket Girl, which surpassed its Kickstarter goal but you still have some time to get in on the action and rewards.
To see what Brandon, Amy and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
“Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose the former and have seen no reason to change.” — Frank Lloyd Wright
It’s a telling quote, both for Wright and for Eric Stephenson, who used it on the masthead of the personal blog he wrote from 2010 to 2012. The word arrogance may have its negative connotations, but when practiced in a measured way it exudes confidence and pride in your work. Wright had it. Steve Jobs had it. And Stephenson, as a nearly 20-year veteran of comics publishing, and the public face of Image Comics, has it.
And in recent years, Stephenson has a lot to be prideful about. Image has been experiencing its best years since its initial debut with The Walking Dead, Chew and Saga. It hosted an well-received expo last year, and has successfully wooed some of Marvel and DC’s top talent for a return to creator-owned work. Stephenson, the company’s publisher, also has finally been able to return to his neglected passion for writing with Nowhere Men, a collaboration with artist Nate Bellegarde.
Although best known for his work behind the scenes — he’ll mark his fifth year as publisher of Image in July — Stephenson has written comics for Rob Liefeld’s Maximum Press, Marvel and DC, not to mention his creator-owned titles.
In February we spoke to Nowhere Men artist Nate Bellegarde, and now we turn to Stephenson to discuss the series, and his past work, but also to delve into his publishing duties — specifically, headhunting talent, finding a place for Image in digital comics, and separating the company from the crowd.
Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6’s guide to the week ahead. Below you’ll find a roundup for Marvel’s announcements from South by Southwest, our contributors’ picks of the comics of the week, and the top events to watch for in the next seven days.
When Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson came up with the idea for Nowhere Men, he knew not just any comic artist could handle the project. Luckily for him, Nate Bellegarde isn’t just any comic artist.
Based in Boston, Bellegarde clawed his way into comics at an early age, making his professional debut at age 16 with a back-up strip in Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore’s Battle Pope. He continued his association with Kirkman, providing back-ups for early issues of Invincible with Benito Cereno before segueing to their own standalone series with Hector Plasm. Bellegarde kept busy doing the first volume of Tim Seeley’s Loaded Bible before being enlisted by Kirkman for Invincible spinoff books like Brit and Invincible Presents: Atom Eve & Rex Splode. His art had the crisp, clear style of his colleagues Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley, but his linework betrayed a more subversive subtext. Each of his previous projects seemed to capitalize on part of the skill set Bellegarde had been honing over the years, but never quite captured all of it at once — until Nowhere Men.
Mixing the interpersonal conflicts of science projects like The Right Stuff with more esoteric fiction constructs like the best of Franco-Belgian comics (and a side of British Invasion-era music), Nowhere Men is an uncommon, and uncompromising, piece of work. With three issues on stands and the fourth due March 6, I spoke with Bellegarde about Nowhere Men and its role in his pursuit of a life in comics.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15 this Wednesday, it’d be all Image for me – starting with Nowhere Men #3 (Image, $2.99). The Beatles as a scientific supergroup, through the lens of Dr. Strangelove? Let’s do this. I’ve been a big fan of Nate Bellegarde for a while, and this book finally seems to capture what’s unique about him – his comedy, his stark scientific acumen, and his humanism. After that I’d get Glory #32 (Image, $3.99). Beautiful cover by Ricken here, and reads like a great manga building up to some epic battle. After that I’d get Brian Wood and Ming Doyle’s Mara #2 (Image, $2.99). I tried to hold back my expectations before reading Issue 1, and I was blown away – so now Issue 2 has something to prove. Finally, I’d get Invincible #100 (Image, $3.99) (Cory Walker’s cover, if you want to know!). I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I think Invincible is better than The Walking Dead. No need to compare the two really, though, because no matter how you cut it, this series is great … and what Kirkman and Ottley have planned for the 100th issue looks to be unique – both for the promised deaths and the promise of seeing what could have been had Mark Grayson chosen differently.
If I had $30, I’d make up for lost time and get Brian Ralph’s Cave-In (Drawn & Quarterly, $14.95) . I’m reticent to admit this, but I’ve never read this book. I loved Daybreak, but never found a copy or the motivation to seek out more … but this Wednesday that will change.
For splurging, I already have most of this in the single issues, but I can’t help but splurge on the new collection X-Men: Mutant Massacre (Marvel, $34.99). This was my first crossover in comics, buying back-issues before I discovered events like Crisis on Infinite Earths and Secret Wars. In my rose-colored glasses, it’s an ideal crossover for not being too overbearing and relating to a conflict or situation that isn’t superhero-specific. Love the Morlocks, love Uncanny X-Men and the associated books around this time, so I’m buying this and spending an evening enjoying it all over again.
“… Without going all old man on everyone, I grew up in a time when you could still go to the movies or sit down to watch something on TV without knowing everything there was to know about it beforehand. Trailers didn’t give everything way, you couldn’t download an album a month before it was out, and you weren’t reading solicitation copy for comics that wouldn’t be out for another three months. It’s like – I saw Star Wars in the theater based off a couple television commercials. I saw a lot of movies just because I liked the way the posters looked, or because they sounded cool. I picked up my first issue of X-Men the same day I bought a used copy of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars with money I’d earned mowing lawns and I didn’t have clue one what either were about prior to the moment I flopped onto my bed to read the one while listening to the other. They both had an immediate impact on me – it was like entering two completely different worlds at once. It’s harder to do that now, because both entertainment and information are transferred so quickly now and maybe withholding information will backfire on us, but I think trying to create something for people to discover is worth a try.”
– Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson, explaining his resistance to providing details
about his upcoming series Nowhere Men