INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
Retailing | Retailers are “cautiously ecstatic,” ICv2 reports, ecstatic because comics sales have increased in the direct market every month for the past 12 months, and cautious because this “return to floppies” comes after years of a seesawing market and they know things can change at any time. The article contains links to the news and analysis site’s lists of the top graphic novel properties in a number of categories, including superheroes, manga, and kids’ comics. [ICv2]
Creators | The Sri Lankan political cartoonist Prageeth Eknelygoda has been missing for 1,000 days as of Tuesdayy, and his wife is convinced the government has something to do with that. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Creators | This article about T. Casey Brennan, who wrote for Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella, takes a number of weird turns, not least when Brennan claims to have shot JFK — and when he shows up in the comments section to dispute everything in the article. Brennan’s life seems to have taken a turn after he was injured in an automobile accident, and he now is homeless and but apparently happy. [The Washtenaw Voice]
The Hugo Awards for excellence in science fiction were presented Saturday night in a ceremony in Reno, Nevada, during the sci-fi convention Renovation, and the winner in the Best Graphic Story category was Phil and Kaja Foglio’s Girl Genius, Volume 10: Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse. This is the third year that comics have been included in the Hugo categories, and it is also the third year in a row that Girl Genius has won the award, volumes 8 and 9 having taken the honors in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
The Foglios weren’t the only sequential artists to win an award, however; Shaun Tan, creator of The Arrival and The Lost Thing, won the award for Best Artist. Tan’s mantelpiece must be getting crowded; earlier this year he won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for excellence in children’s literature, and the film version of The Lost Thing, which he directed, won an Oscar.
Finalists have been announced for the 2011 Hugo Awards, which recognize the best in science fiction and fantasy.
Presented annually since 1955 by the World Science Fiction Society, the Hugo is among science fiction’s most prestigious awards. This year’s winner will be presented Aug. 20 in Reno, Nevada, during Renovation, the 69th World Science Fiction Convention.
The nominees for best graphic story are:
• Fables, Vol. 14: Witches, written by Bill Willingham; illustrated by Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Jim Fern, Craig Hamilton and David Lapham (Vertigo)
• Girl Genius, Vol. 10: Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse, written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
• Grandville Mon Amour, by Bryan Talbot (Dark Horse)
• Schlock Mercenary: Massively Parallel, written and illustrated by Howard Tayler; colors by Howard Tayler and Travis Walton (Hypernode)
• The Unwritten, Vol. 2: Inside Man, written by Mike Carey; illustrated by Peter Gross (Vertigo)
This is the third year for the graphic story category. Girl Genius won the award the two previous years.
The full list of nominees can be found on the Renovation website.
Add a new holiday to your calendar: Phil and Kaja Foglio, creators of the long-running webcomic Girl Genius, have dubbed Jan. 12 Girl Genius Day. “We’re hoping you’ll do something suitably mad and/or steampunkalicious for the occasion,” they write at their site. In particular, they are hoping you will buy a copy of Agatha H and the Airship City: A Girl Genius Novel, which is based on the comic and officially went on sale yesterday. The idea is to give the book a boost in the Amazon ranking, a la Machine of Death, and hopefully bring it to the attention of booksellers.
In fact, the Night Shade Books site already shows the print version as “sold out,” but that turns out to be a good thing, as Phil found out when he asked:
Everybody thinks this book is going to do well, so everybody “ordered heavy”, so they’ll have a lot of books ready to meet demand. Great. Now there’s performance anxiety. And the publisher is still sold out, but they fully expect that they will have to reprint. The question is when. Thus they are now waiting to see how quickly the shops and wholesalers “sell through’ on the books they have in stock.
There are also two e-book editions, and this is where it gets a bit sticky. The Kindle version is $7.99, but you can also buy a DRM-free e-book edition from Webscription for $6. Obviously these sales won’t count in the Amazon rankings, though, so fans might want to consider whether it’s worth spending an extra two bucks to help give the Foglios that boost. If it helps, today is Kaja’s birthday as well, and if you’re in Seattle, you can wish her well in person, as the Foglios will be doing a book signing at Ravenna Third Place Books.
As we reported last August, Phil and Kaija Foglio have signed multiple contracts to adapt their webcomic Girl Genius into a number of different formats, including novels, audiobooks, and an omnibus edition of the comic. Now we’re seeing the first fruits of this effort, as Teleread reports that Baen Books is offering the novelization of the story, Agatha H and the Airship City, as an e-book for $6. This is $1.99 less than the Kindle version and a considerable savings over the print edition, both of which will be released on January 1, according to Amazon. Unlike Kindle, Baen Books downloads are DRM-free; if you’re a sci-fi fan, you might want to check out their site, because they offer the first volumes of a lot of series for free.
Phil Foglio is also blogging about the process of producing and promoting the book at his LiveJournal, and he is asking readers who are planning to buy the book through Amazon to do so on January 12, Kaija’s birthday, in order to push the book up the best-seller chart (a la Machine of Death)—and also give his wife a nice birthday present.
Last week, Phil and Kaja Foglio announced a whole slew of new projects tied to their long-running webcomic Girl Genius: Prose novels, audiobooks of the prose novels, games, a Danish translation of the comic, and a full-color omnibus edition of the first three volumes of the Girl Genius comic, to be published by Tor to kick off their new graphic novel line. Come 2011, it seems, Girl Genius will be everywhere.
Curious about how this came about and how it will play out, I called Phil yesterday and asked a bunch of questions. Here’s what he has to say.
Brigid: Why are all these things happening at the same time?
Phil: I was working with our agent ages ago, and the first thing of course we sent out were the graphic novels, and they got circulated around, everybody looked at them and were like, “Wow, we love this story but this isn’t what we do.” Then when we had the novel finished, or finished enough, we sent that to the agent and he sent it around, and one of the responses we got was, “You know, we read the novel and we remembered how much we loved the graphic novel. We aren’t interested in publishing the novel, but we would like to publish the graphic novels.” So the one reminded them of the other.
Phil Foglio is best known as the co-creator, with his wife Kaja, of the insanely popular webcomic Girl Genius, and for a pioneering of a business model that a lot of people thought was simply insane: Posting a comic for free online and relying on people to buy the book anyway.
The model worked for the Foglios, who have won numerous awards for Girl Genius, including the first-ever Hugo award for graphic fiction, and Phil Foglio has been posting his earlier comics work online as well, including Buck Godot and What’s New with Phil and Dixie. When Buck Godot wrapped up, a few weeks ago, he replaced it with the his first comic series, Myth Adventures, based on the humorous fantasy novels of Robert Asprin.
I thought this would be an interesting opportunity to talk to Foglio about why he is resurrecting a 20-year-old series, how he has managed to turn a profit with the free-comics model—and what’s up with his one subscription comic, the adult series XXXenophile. Read on for all the answers.