Broadway | Michael Coehl, lead producer of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, has responded to the thrashing the $65-million production received this week from some of the country’s top theater critics. The Julie Taymor-directed show, which finally opens on March 15, was labeled by The New York Times and The Washington post as one of the worst musicals in Broadway history. “Any of the people who review the show and say it has no redeeming value are just not legitimate reviewers, period,” Coehl told Entertainment Weekly. [PopWatch]
Publishing | Wizard World CEO Gareb Shamus gives another interview about the abrupt closing of Wizard and ToyFare magazines, his expanding stable of regional conventions, plans for a weekly online magazine, and the state of the industry: “The market’s changed. When I started 20 years ago, I was pioneering in the publishing world in terms of creating a product that got people excited about being involved in the comic book and toy and other markets, and we could do a lot of really cool and innovative things. Unfortunately right now being involved in the print world is very stifling, in terms of being able to leverage your content and your media and your access to the world out there.” Meanwhile, Tom Spurgeon and Martin Wisse comment on Shamus’ previous interview, which is pretty much the same as the new one. [ICv2.com]
Publishing | Direct-market sales plummeted last month, down nearly 23 percent in units and more than 20 percent in dollars from January 2010. Marvel’s heavily promoted Fantastic Four #587 was, unsurprisingly, the top-selling comic, while Vertigo’s Jack of Fables, Vol. 8, led the graphic novel list. Retailer news and analysis site ICv2.com puts part of the blame for the year-over-year decline on the weather. However, John Jackson Miller notes that Diamond Comic Distributors shipped 23 percent fewer comics last month — 555 different comics and trades (including variants), compared to 683 in January 2010. “This is more than can be explained by the holiday difference; this would appear to simply be the old pattern of publishers holding fire at this time of year and releasing fewer items,” Miller writes. “Some years, that effect is more in evidence than others; this could potentially be one of the bigger years for this kind of positioning.” [ICv2.com, The Comichron]
Digital piracy | A Japanese government think tank has released a study that concludes online piracy of anime series actually increases sales of DVDs. “One point of critique based on the main conclusions of the study, is that the observed relation only appears to be correlational,” TorrentFreak cautions. “This may mean that the results could in part be influenced by significant third variables such as promotion and overall popularity. Since the report is only available in Japanese we were unable to confirm whether this was taken into account.” [TorrentFreak]
Broadway | The Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark canceled both Wednesday performances to test new safety measures following the Monday-night fall that left a stuntman hospitalized with broken ribs and internal bleeding. The cancellation of the sold-out evening show was announced just three hours before showtime at the Foxwoods Theatre. Tonight’s performance is expected to go on as planned.
Producers and creators met privately on Tuesday with the entire company to address safety concerns about the $65-million musical, the most expensive and technically complex in Broadway history. Although accidents in theater productions aren’t uncommon, it’s unusual for there to be four injuries before a show has officially opened. MTV offers some context. [The New York Times, The Associated Press]
Publishing | Eiichiro Oda’s blockbuster pirate manga One Piece has sold 32.34 million copies in 2010, more than double what it sold the previous year. According to Japanese market survey company Oricon Communications, the series’ five newest volumes have sold a combined 12.5 million copies. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Comico co-founder Gerry Giovinco weighs in on an eBay listing that includes original artwork apparently left in the stewardship of his former partners Dennis and Phil LaSorda when the company went bankrupt in 1990: “It always was Comico policy to return all art to the creators. If there is art that was not returned, we are in total agreement that it should be returned to the rightful owners of the work. If you are a creator that believes your work could be among this lot, we would suggest you fight to get it back.” [CO2 Comics Blog]
Legal | A federal judge has lifted the delay in the ferocious legal battle over the rights to Superman, allowing attorneys for Warner Bros. to proceed with deposition of the families of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright issued the stay last month while he considered an appeal on a procedural ruling, but on Tuesday he modified the order, permitting the studio to “proceed with full discovery of [heirs] Joanne Siegel, Laura Siegel Larson, Jean Peavy and Mark Peavy.” The depositions are expected to begin immediately. [THR, Esq.]
Retailing | Bookstores had their worst month of the year in September as sales slipped 7.7 percent, to $1.51 billion. [Publishers Weekly]
Piracy | Colleen Doran argues that it’s the middle-class artist, not the rich corporations, who are the real victims of digital piracy. [The Hill]
Crime | Houston police have arrested two people believed to be responsible for stealing thousands of dollars worth of comics from stores around the city. Bedrock City Comic Company was hit at least four times. [My Fox Houston]
Publishing | The 60th volume of Eiichiro Oda’s popular pirate manga One Piece sold more than 2 million copies in its first four days of release. It’s the first book to move more than 2 million copies in its first week of sales since the Japanese market survey company Oricon began reporting its charts in 2008. As we reported last week, this volume’s 3.4 million-copy first printing set a record, and propelled the series past the 200 million-copy mark. [Anime News Network]
Editorial cartoons | Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Matt Davies has been laid off by the Gannett-owned Journal News in White Plains, N.Y. [Comic Riffs]
Publishing | Abrams has made three comics-related promotions: Susan Van Metre to senior vice president and publisher, overseeing all comic arts books as well as Abrams Books for Young Readers and Amulet Books; Charles Kochman to editorial director of Abrams ComicArts; and Chad W. Beckerman to creative director, overseeing design for all comic arts books as well as Abrams Books for Young Readers and Amulet Books. [Abrams]
Publishing | With the release today in Japan of the 60th volume of One Piece, 200 million copies of Eiichiro Oda’s hit comedy-adventure will have been published. What’s more, this volume’s 3.4 million copies will break the record set by the previous volume. As of late August, One Piece had sold 20 million copies in 2010 alone — four times that of Naruto, the second-highest selling manga. On a related note, a 35-year-old Japanese man was arrested for copyright violation for allegedly distributing four manga, including the 59th volume of One Piece, online. [Japanator, The Mainichi Daily News]
Crime | Six people accused in the July robbery of a 77-year-old New York comics collector who died of a heart attack hours later could be charged with murder if police can link the crime to his death. [Democrat and Chronicle]
Conventions | Wizard Entertainment CEO Gareb Shamus announced he has acquired the two-year-old NOLA Comic-Con, which will become part of the Jan. 29-30 Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con. [press release]
Creators | Takehiko Inoue announced he’s placing his award-winning samurai adventure Vagabond on hiatus because of ongoing health problems. The manga has been serialized since 1998 in Kodansha’s Weekly Morning magazine and collected in 32 volumes; 31 of those have been released in the United States. Inoue will continue to work on his basketball manga Real, which is released at the more leisurely pace of about one volume per year. [The Eastern Edge, via Journalista]
Publishing | Todd Allen looks at moves by comics publishers to partner with OverDrive to make single-issue comics available to libraries as e-books: “With some 11,000 libraries being supplied digital material from OverDrive, this market offers a significant chance to get comics in front of new readers. According to the July 2010 sales estimates at ICV2, the Marvel Adventures version of Spider-Man sells 6,347 copies; Marvel Adventures Super Heroes sells 4,564. For a small publisher like Moonstone, the chance for more exposure is even greater.” [Publishers Weekly]
Shueisha, one of the largest publishers in Japan, went into the red last fiscal year, a first for the company, but its manga division wasn’t to blame. The publisher took hits on ad revenues and real estate holdings, as well as slipping book sales in several categories, including literature, which went down 2.8%. Manga, on the other hand, did pretty well; sales of Weekly Shonen Jump, their flagship magazine (which includes the insanely popular One Piece) and individual volumes of manga were both up in the past year.
It’s well-established that Eiichiro Oda’s comedy-adventure One Piece is wildly popular, setting one record after nother in Japan, where the 59th volume received a 3.2 million-copy first printing. Once that figure has sunk in, here’s another one for you: One Piece has sold more than 20 million copies this year alone — four times that of Naruto, the second-highest selling manga.
That news arrives just as it’s confirmed that, beginning next week, Oda is taking a well-deserved month-long break from the series that’s been serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump virtually nonstop since August 1997.
The translator who goes by Gottsu-Iiyan has been translating a joint interview with Vagabond creator Takehiko Inoue and One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda at his blog, The Eastern Edge. At one point, Inoue reflects on the differences between his and Oda’s art:
•••• Mr. Inoue, how do you see Mr. Oda’s art?
Inoue: It’s full of an appeal that is the complete opposite of my work. It’s full of life, and has the power to draw readers to specific points. Comparatively, I’m an artist that likes “subtraction”. I try to fill things in as little as possible and leave something to the negative space.
That’s the sort of thing that isn’t obvious until you hear it said—and then it is. Oda amplifies the point: Continue Reading »
Publishing | The 59th volume of Eiichiro Oda’s wildly popular pirate series One Piece will set a manga record with a 3.2-million copy first printing from Japanese publisher Shueisha. The previous record of 3.1 million copies was held by the 58th volume of the series. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Mary Ann Gwinn spotlights the partnership between Fantagraphics Books and Rosebud Archives to publish archives of vintage comics. [The Seattle Times]
Comic strips | Craig Schulz, son of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, discusses the “Peanuts on Parade” public art project, David Michaelis’ controversial book Schulz & Peanuts: A Biography, and caring for his father’s legacy: “Our biggest fear has always been somebody buying up the rights and us not having any control. We’d rather have this property make $10 million a year for 50 years, than make $100 million in one year and walk away from it.” [The Press Democrat, via Journalista]
For a little more than $200, you can strut around with the familiar One Piece slogan “I’m gonna be the Pirate King!!” emblazoned across your denim-clad behind.
Anime News Network reports that beginning in late August Japanese retailer Cospa will offer Straw Hat Pirates Jeans, featuring buttons engraved with the figurehead of the Thousand Sunny, the front-right pocket and waistband imprinted with a straw hat-wearing Jolly Roger, and pants legs printed with the names and positions of each of the Straw Hats. Oh, yeah, plus that big stylized lettering across the butt.
Could Monkey D. Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates finally be getting their due in North America?
They’re the stars of Eiichiro Oda’s long-running comedy-adventure One Piece, Japan’s best-selling manga that’s sold more than 176 million volumes since its debut in 1997. (Publisher Shueisha printed more than 3 million copies of the series’ 57th volume alone.) On this side of the Pacific, however, the series hasn’t been nearly as popular, overshadowed by the likes of Naruto, Bleach and Fullmetal Alchemist.
But this week, undoubtedly aided by Viz Media’s accelerated release schedule, One Piece lands five volumes on The New York Times’ Graphic Books bestseller list. (It’s probably worth noting that nine of the 10 spots in the manga category are filled by Viz Media releases.)
Yes, the 47th volume of Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto still places higher on the chart than One Piece. And, yes, The New York Times’ bestseller lists employ an arcane formula that no one seems to understand (a complex combination of numerology, calculus and chanting within a magic circle, most likely).
Still, it just may be a sign that the tide is turning for the crew of the Going Merry — or is that Merry Go? — on the coasts of North America.
Publishing | Citing frustrations over fulfillment, warehousing and invoicing issues, Checker Book Publishing Group reportedly has ended its exclusive book market agreement with Diamond Book Distributors. Simon Jones reports that Checker Publisher Mark Thompson made the announcement in a series of “strongly-worded posts” in a private online industry forum (Thompson apparently granted permission for the information to be reposted). Repeated attempts to contact Checker by phone this morning were unsuccessful.
The Dayton, Ohio-based publisher signed exclusively with Diamond in November 2003, expanding on an agreement made the previous year. Checker’s problems with the distributor apparently arose over the past 1 1/2 years. According to Jones’ post, “Outstanding canceled orders of Checker’s books are allegedly in excess of $250,000 in retail value.” Jones has more details. [Icarus Publishing]