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The Middle Ground #50 | The results are in!

The surprise about reading all of the comics Top Cow sent over as a result of my admission of blind prejudice wasn’t that they weren’t as bad as I’d lazily expected — I was actually expecting that, to be honest — but that I ended with realizing that I was going to have to go out and catch up on the collections of one series in particular… and it was the one I’d been expecting to like the least.

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Comics A.M. | Dynamite CEO on industry; why doesn’t cartooning pay?

Green Hornet

Publishing | Dynamite Entertainment CEO Nick Barrucci talks frankly about the state of the marketplace, digital comics, and his company’s plans. He also acknowledges some missteps: “Green Hornet was a license we paid a lot of attention to last year, probably too much attention. Going back to what we were talking about earlier, putting out too much product, we put out too much Green Hornet product. Part of it is that we wanted to get trade paperback collections out in time for the movie, and we did that, we succeeded. We built up our market share and we generated more revenue for us and the retailers. I’m going off on a tangent here, so I apologize, but we took that money and reinvested into projects like Vampirella, like Warlord of Mars, like the upcoming Kirby: Genesis. But we overdid it, and that we realize, which is why you don’t see us doing four Vampirella titles and four Warlord of Mars titles.” [ICv2.com]

Creators | For its annual Comics Issue, the Village Voice takes a fascinating, lengthy and very depressing look at the often-grim financial reality faced by cartoonists — an environment to which, it turns out, the Village Voice contributed. “I’m not sure how much you’ll be allowed to write about this,” says Dan Perkins (Tom Tomorrow), “but of course the Village Voice Media chain is one of the major culprits in this  —their decision to ‘suspend’ cartoons [in 15 papers in 2009] dealt a serious blow to the struggling subgenre of alt-weekly cartoons.” It’s noted parenthetically that Tom Tomorrow will return to the paper “within a few months,” and that “many of the artists in this issue aren’t getting paid, but have contributed work for the exposure.” [Village Voice]

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What Are You Reading?

Stumptown

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week’s guest is Alex Segura, executive director of publicity and marketing at Archie Comics. But we’ll always know him as the guy who founded The Great Curve, the blog that would one day morph into Robot 6.

To see what Alex and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below …

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C2E2 | Saturday: Panelpalooza

The question that I raised yesterday about whether TV and movies were going to steal C2E2′s focus from comics turned out to be a non-issue. Concern – and maybe this was just me – was born from a couple of things: the catch-all “Entertainment” is right there in the name and there were several movie/TV appearance announcements in a row that I guess put fears in my head. But it was clear even yesterday from the exhibitor layout that the core of the show is all about the comics. I still haven’t explored the entire floor, but I’ve yet to stumble across the media autograph area.

Phil Hester signs Firebreather posters for fans

I did start and end my day with media panels, but they both had deep comics connections. First was Cartoon Network’s presentation of the Firebreather DVD with Phil Hester. As Hester put it: “It’s Saturday morning; we should be watching cartoons!” I saw the movie when it aired in November, but it was especially impressive in Blu-Ray on the big screen. And it was cool to hear Hester answer questions about his experience having his comic translated into film by Aeon Flux‘s Peter Chung. We also learned that Firebreather screenwriter James Krieg is currently developing a Green Lantern series for Cartoon Network.

Though it was a thoroughly enjoyable start to the day, I could tell early on that I wasn’t going to be able to keep up the panel schedule I’d planned for myself. Sitting in panel rooms all day long without even seeing the convention floor didn’t have a lot of appeal, so I started trimming things. My schedule was a mess anyway with a lot of overlapping panels and difficult choices. This was true last night too. I went to Dirk Manning’s writing panel because I know and like Dirk, but I had to make a choice between it and another writing panel. That’s a weird head-to-head line-up and there were more like it today. Several small press publishers had to compete for attendees and my next panel after Firebreather was a choice between ComiXology’s digital-focused State of the Comicsphere and a discussion between Mark Waid and Matt Fraction on Script Writing and Comics in the Digital Age. Of course, I didn’t realize it yet, but the digital conversation at C2E2 was something that involved far more than just those two panels.

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Powell, Hester and Ross bring the King of the Monsters back to comics

Godzilla: Monster World #1 cover by Alex Ross

Back in October IDW announced that they’d picked up the license to bring legendary movie star Godzilla back to comics. This week they shared a few more details on the book, including the creative team.

Arriving in March will be Godzilla: Monster World #1, written by Eric Powell and Tracy Marsh, with art by Phil Hester. Both Powell and artist Alex Ross will provide covers (you can find Powell’s gatefold cover after the jump). And I thought this sounded fun: “Plus, retailers will be eligible for their very own cover – featuring Godzilla stomping their comic store.” Monster World will also include appearances by some of Godzilla’s friends, like Mothra and Rodan.

“To be able to launch a Godzilla series that features many fan-favorite Toho monsters never before seen in comics is gratifying enough,” said Chris Ryall, IDW’s chief creative officer, in the press release. “But to do it with the guiding hand and brush of Eric Powell — as perfectly suited a creator as I could’ve hoped to come aboard here – along with Hester, Marsh, and Ross, is about as monstrous a line-up as I could’ve ever hoped for. What’s more, this is just the first series to come in the line. The next one out of the gates features multiple Eisner-nominees and winners handling the creative, so we’re well and truly just getting started here.”

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Comics A.M. | The graphic novel market, and webcomic economics

Diamond Book Distributors

Publishing | Calvin Reid interviews Kuo-Yu Liang, vice president of sales and marketing at Diamond Book Distributors, about the state of graphic novel sales, the international market, manga and more: “I think we are entering the golden age of selling graphic novels. The demographics and the audience are both broadening. We are lucky that the core readers have stuck with us through the recession. We are finding new readers crossing over from literary, commercial, speculative and genre fiction. Non-fiction graphic novels are doing well. We’re getting more kids and parents (I’ll talk more about that later). I also think the growth of internet shopping has changed the game, because now it is easier than ever to find what you like to read, and get recommendation from fellow readers. The key is still good books. Without them, we don’t have an industry.” [Publishers Weekly]

Publishing | Heidi MacDonald spotlights BOOM! Studios, with a focus on the publisher’s marketing efforts. “The secret to our success to go to the thing that other people haven’t done; it isn’t to go head to head against people, or trying to take their market share away or trying to duplicate their editorial style,” says co-founder Ross Richie. “We’ve had to invent a space in the market place to exist. ” [Publishers Weekly]

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What Are You Reading?

The Man with the Getaway Face

The Man with the Getaway Face

Welcome to a special holiday weekend edition of What Are You Reading?, as we take a break from hot dogs and street festivals to take a look at what comics we’ve been reading this week. Our special guest this week is Vito Delsante, writer of FCHS and the upcoming Stray. When he isn’t making comics, he’s selling them at Jim Hanley’s Universe, located in New York near the Empire State Building.

To see what Vito and the rest of the Robot 6 crew are reading, click below …

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What Are You Reading?

Enter the Heroic Age

Enter the Heroic Age

Welcome once again to What Are You Reading? where we ask, “If you were stuck on an island with the smoke monster, what would you bring to read?” Yes, that was my lame attempt to make today’s edition topical. Sorry. Let’s just write that off as me being really excited to see the end of Lost.

This week our special guest is comics retailer Randy Lander, who you can find selling comics at Rogues Gallery Comics & Games in Round Rock, Texas or blogging over at Inside Joke Theatre. To see what Randy and the rest of our merry castaways have been reading, click the link below …

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SpringCon 2010

Jeff Parker, Michael May, and Phil Hester

Jeff Parker, Michael May, and Phil Hester at Minnesota's SpringCon

The Midwest Comic Book Association’s FallCon has always been a great, local convention, but recently it’s also been a show with a problem. Traditionally the first weekend in October, it had always done well at attracting out-of-town guests thanks mostly to the extremely friendly, creator-focused organizers and volunteers (what other convention has a break room for creators with free lunch as well as an all-you-can-eat steak dinner after the show on Saturday?), but also to its being scheduled well after the summer convention season. In the last couple of years though, convention season has grown longer and longer and larger conventions like Baltimore and New York have been getting closer and closer to FallCon’s traditional date.

Also – I found out from talking to volunteers – paid attendance was starting to become an issue with Minnesota’s unpredictable, Autumn weather. Since FallCon was a two-day show, if the weather was bad on Saturday a lot of folks would skip it in hopes that Sunday would be nicer. And if the Twins were in the playoffs, you could forget about large crowds altogether.

So this year the MCBA decided to do something different. FallCon’s sister show was an annual, one-day event in the Spring called MicroCon. They’ve canceled that, turned FallCon into a one-day show, and created SpringCon, which debuted last weekend at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds to enormous success. In a newsletter I got this morning, the MCBA reported that it was easily the largest crowd to ever attend one of their events. They also raised a record amount of money and food for their charities (the Minnesota Lupus Foundation, the CBLDF, and Minnesota Food Shelves) and got a ton of positive feedback from dealers, creators, and fans. That was my experience on the floor as well.

Vampire cows, friends, famous people, and oh-so-many costumes after the break.

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Talking Comics with Tim: Phil Hester

The Anchor

The Anchor

Writer Phil Hester is clearly enthused about his new creator-owned collaboration with artist Brian Churilla on BOOM’s The Anchor. Not all creators are game to discuss the mechanics of the craft, and I was pleased when Hester was game. In addition to mechanics, we get to discuss the series ([Pre-Order at Your Local Comic Shop by August 25, 2009 {Today}; Diamond order code: AUG090716] set to launch in October).  As detailed at the BOOM! site: “THE ANCHOR. Holy warrior, unholy war. Freak of nature, beast of burden, hulking outcast, medieval prize fighter, Viking raider… God’s leg-breaker. One thousand years ago a hulking outcast sought refuge in the crumbling ruins of an ancient monastery and offered in return the one thing he had to give – his fists. Transformed into an immortal warrior monk standing at the gates of Hell itself to keep our world free from its invading armies, The Anchor is mysteriously tricked into centuries of slumber. But today, this holy warrior rises to battle all the unholy monsters unleashed during his slumber.” Be sure to also check out this preview of issue 1.

Tim O’Shea: What attracted you to working with BOOM! on this project, as opposed to pitching it to other companies?

Phil Hester: In all honesty, we pitched it a lot of places at once, and though other publishers made us offers BOOM! was the only place that saw our pitch and said “yes” without reservations. Also, they have a good reputation with retailers and fans, and among pros they’re known as a publisher that will hustle their collective ass off to get your book in front of eyes.

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First look at the covers for The Anchor #2

Anchor #2

Anchor #2

Anchor #2

Anchor #2

Yesterday CBR posted a preview of the first issue of BOOM! Studios’ new title The Anchor, and today we follow it up with a look at the two covers for issue #2 by series artist Brian Churilla. Issue 2 will be in the September edition of Previews.

‘Splitting heads this October’

BOOM! Studios has released a trailer for one of the books that made our list of San Diego announcements we were happy about, The Anchor by Phil Hester and Brian Churilla:

A preview of the book can be found in last week’s issue of Irredeemable, which cost 99 cents. You can also find the preview on the book’s new website.

SDCC ’09 | 15 announcements that make us happy

Bone: Quest for the Spark

Bone: Quest for the Spark

San Diego Comic-Con is always a wild ride filled with crazy cosplayers, Hollywood hype and just generally somewhat-controlled chaos. In the midst of it all, a few comic book announcements managed to sneak out.

Here are 15 of those announcements (in no particular order) that Kevin Melrose, Chris Mautner and I were happy to hear:

1. New Bone books
So it looks like one of those new books isn’t going to be comics but a novel written by Tom Sniegoski and illustrated by Smith. Which is a bit of a bummer, but only a bit. I’m still pretty psyched to see more stories set in that universe and Sniegoski has proven himself to be an able and witty writer on stuff like the Stupid Stupid Rat Creatures mini series, which, by the way, will be included in the Tall Tales book. So yeah, this is great news all around. I’m eager for more Bone. –Chris Mautner

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SDCC ’09 | What is The Anchor?

The Anchor

The Anchor

BOOM! had a preview of their upcoming Kill Audio book at their booth in San Diego Comic-Con today, and an ad for something called The Anchor can be found in the back. It’s by Phil Hester and Brian Churilla, and I understand we’ll learn more about it around the time of the BOOM! panel.


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