In-Depth on Marvel's "Divided We Stand" and The Latest Hydra Cap Twists
Comics | In an excerpt adapted from his new book The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture, Glen Weldon delves into the long history of the gay subtext in the relationship between Batman and Robin, noting that it’s been there from the Boy Wonder’s 1940 debut: “Remember: Queer readers didn’t see any vestige of themselves represented in the mass media of this era, let alone its comic books. And when queer audiences don’t see ourselves in a given work, we look deeper, parsing every exchange for the faintest hint of something we recognize. This is why, as a visual medium filled with silent cues like body language and background detail, superhero comics have proven a particularly fertile vector for gay readings over the years. Images can assert layers of unspoken meanings that mere words can never conjure.” [Slate.com]
Auctions | A restored copy of Detective Comics #27, which marks the first appearance of Batman, is expected to bring in more than $100,000 in a Feb. 20 sale held by Heritage Auctions. According to the company, this would be only the second restored copy of that issue reach that milestone (several restored copies of Action Comics #1 have broken $100,000). A CGC-graded 4.5 copy of Batman #1 is expected to fetch more than $65,000 in the same auction. [Antique Trader]
Passings | Cartoonist Joseph Farris, whose work appeared in The New Yorker and other publications for almost 60 years, died last week at his home in Bethel, Connecticut. He was 90. Farris served in the Army during World War II, and he later wrote a memoir, A Soldier’s Sketchbook, that included drawings he did while on the front lines in France and Germany. He recently completed another memoir, Elm Street, about growing up in Danbury, Connecticut. Farris once described his work as “subtly political,” adding that his goal was to make the reader laugh, then stop and think “Wait a minute. What did he say?” [The News-Times]
Hiroshi Murayama, editor of the popular food manga Oishinbo and managing editor of the weekly magazine Big Comic Spirits, defended the series’ portrayal of possible radiation dangers in the area around the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which was damaged in the March 2011 earthquake.
The story has stirred controversy, resulting in complaints and angry letters from Fukushima government officials and residents, who fear it will lead to prejudice against those who live there and will make Japanese consumers even more wary of food from the region. The series has been suspended indefinitely, although it’s not clear whether that was a response to the controversy or a previously planned hiatus.
The long-running foodie manga Oishinbo will be suspended after protests from the government and residents of Fukushima prefecture over a storyline that suggests radiation from the damaged nuclear plant there could be making residents ill. Nonetheless, the final chapter of the controversial story arc will run in this week’s issue, according to The Japan Times.
An announcement is scheduled to appear today in Shogakukan’s Big Comic Spirits magazine that the manga will not appear as of May 26. Anime News Network reports the series was scheduled to go on hiatus anyway, so it’s not clear whether the editors are taking advantage of a planned break. In addition to the final chapter, this week’s issue of the manga magazine will include a note from the editor pledging stricter review of storylines; a 10-page section (the link is in Japanese) of interviews with government officials and experts on the topic; and letters from Fukushima residents. In addition, Asahi.com reports the editors have agreed to scrutinize such stories more closely in the future.
Publishing | Both Marvel and the manga publisher Yen Press are caught in the middle of the Amazon/Hachette dispute: Hachette is accusing Amazon of suppressing sales of Hachette titles in order to force the publisher to agree to its terms, according to The New York Times. Marvel uses Hachette as its distributor and Yen is a Hachette imprint; ICv2 found evidence that several of Amazon’s cited tactics, which include shipping delays and lower discounts, were being used on their titles. In fact, Amazon is offering no discount at all on Yen Press titles at the moment. [ICv2]
Comics sales | ICv2 runs the numbers on April comics sales, and The Amazing Spider-Man #1 is the spring phenom: After three months of no comic selling more than 100,000 copies, ASM #1 sold more than 500,000, thanks in no small part to its nearly 50 variant and retailer custom covers, generating a record $3.19 million. Two other comics, Superior Spider-Man #31 and Batman #30, also hit the six-figure mark. ICv2 has the numbers for the top 300 comics and graphic novels as well. [ICv2]
Retailing | Dennis Barger, co-owner of Wonderworld Comics in Taylor, Michigan, and the driving force behind the new retailer association CBRA (Comic Book Retailers Alliance), says direct-market stores want publishers to pull back on same-day digital release, and debut the print comics first. He says ComicsPRO, the established, much larger, trade organization, is taking the wrong approach in trying to adapt to digital. Barger also feels that hand-selling by employees, not social media, is what propels sales of comics, especially non-Big Two titles: “The employees at local comic shops pushing these books is the difference in being in the top 200 and the bottom 300 in sales for those books.” A shift to digital, which removes the local comics shop from the equation, would thus harm second-tier publishers such as Dark Horse, BOOM! Studios and IDW. The association was able to purchase an exclusive variant cover for The Amazing Spider-Man #1, drawn by John Romita Sr., for its members. [The News-Herald]
Webcomics | Shaenon Garrity looks at the problem of webcomics going viral without any attribution to the artist or link back to the original site, often because that attribution has been stripped from the image itself. She cites the case of Rachel Dukes, whose “Life With/Out a Cat” comic racked up half a million views for the uncredited version, while the one with her signature received just 81,000. [The Comics Journal]
Retailing | Brian Hibbs, owner of Comix Experience in San Francisco, has announced he’ll assumed ownership of Comic Outpost from Gary Buechler as of Monday. “It only took me 24 years to do it, but finally Comix Experience will have a second store!” Hibbs writes on Savage Critic. He goes into more detail on the Comic Outpost website, telling customer, “Comix Experience runs pretty differently from Comic Outpost, but I want to assure you that we have no intention of changing the essential nature of the Outpost. Customers dictate the kind of store that exists, and we’ll be dedicated to bringing you the same passionate and engaged love-of-comics service you’ve received from Gary over the years!” [Savage Critic]