"Tomb Raider" Finds Its Lara Croft in "Ex Machina's" Alicia Vikander
Video Games, Film
Publishing | Vox takes a lengthy look at the effects of DC Comics’ efforts to diversify, in terms of characters, titles and creators. The article, which includes interviews with Marguerite Bennett, Genevieve Valentine, Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, notes that while new titles like DC Comics Bombshells have been successful, others launched under the “DC You” umbrella – Black Canary and Midnighter, for instance — are on far shakier ground, sales-wise. However, Co-Publisher Lee suggests the company is standing behind the initiative: “I think it’s important for us to listen and to learn and basically to adjust and pivot. There is this emerging audience. Comics are changing. At the end of the day, if you’re going to remain competitive and grow and flourish, you have to be able to adapt and change and evolve.” [Vox.com]
Comic strips | Reflecting on Charles M. Schulz’s long-running Peanuts, Kevin Wong lays much of the blame for the comic strip’s slow decline at the feet of the increasingly popular Snoopy: “[N]ear the end of the 60s and well into the 70s, the cracks started to show. Snoopy began walking on his hind legs and using his hands, and that was the beginning of the end for the strip. Perhaps he was technically still a dog, but in a very substantial way, Snoopy had overcome the principal struggle of his existence. His opposable thumbs and upward positioning meant that for all intents and purposes, he was now a human in a dog costume. One of his new roleplays was to be different Joes — Joe Cool, Joe Skateboard, etc.” [Kotaku]
Creators | The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland has named its first Cartoonist in Residence: Cameron McPhail, who left his job in 2002 as chief executive of wealth management at the Royal Bank of Scotland to become a full-time cartoonist. He and his colleagues in the Kartoon Faktory collective will produce books about the animals in the zoo and possibly a comic strip as well. [Edinburgh News]
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.
Awards | Six graphic novels are finalists for the eighth annual Children’s Choice Book Awards: The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza, Happy Birthday Babymouse, Sisters, The Dumbest Idea Ever, The Return of Zita the Spacegirl and El Deafo. This is the largest number of graphic novels to make the cut; the previous high was three. Children and teens can vote for the winners, which will be announced during Children’s Book Week, which starts this year with Free Comic Book Day. [Children’s Book Council, via ICv2]
Retailing | When water got into the stock room of Blockbuster Comics in Brandon, Florida, it destroyed a number of valuable comics, including a 1956-vintage Superman comic and a copy of Crisis on Infinite Earths signed by the late Dick Giordano. Rather than just toss them, however, owner William Insignares is using them to redecorate his store, starting by decoupaging some of them to his front door using a Mod Podge-like substance. [Bradenton Herald]
Kid-With-Knife is set loose in this pretty faithful adaptation by Trinity Players of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Phonogram: The Singles Club #7, backed of course by TV on the Radio’s “Wolf Like Me.”
The short is described as a “video extract” and “the start of ‘Wolf Like Me,'” suggesting there’s more to it, somewhere; the video ends before the full story plays out.
Welcome to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew shares their picks for who we think should play a young Han Solo. Of course, we unanimously chose Nathan Fillion, so instead we’ll talk about what comics we’ve been reading. Joining us today is special guest Tim Lattie, the creator of Night Stars. Tim is currently running a Kickstarter to raise funds to publish it, so head over there and check it out.
To see what Tim and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
I feel like I’m being a bad fan by not being too upset by the news that the third series of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Phonogram is going to be delayed until sometime in 2013. Originally quasi-announced in February for a November release, “life happened” as Gillen put it, and now it’s been pushed to an unclear point next year.
The first Image Expo kicked off Friday in Oakland, California, with a keynote speech from Publisher Eric Stephenson that emphasized creator relationships as the company’s foundation, and laid out more than a half-dozen titles that will be announced this weekend for release later this year:
• Happy!, by Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson, a mysterious title the writer says is “in a genre I’ve never really tackled before — but with a bizarre twist, of course.” It’s the first of several potential Image projects from Morrison. [iFanboy]
• Confirmation of a third volume of Phonogram, by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson, called The Immaterial Girl. Gillen says the six-issue miniseries, which will likely debut in November, is “primarily about the war between coven queen witch Emily Aster and the half of her personality she sold to whatever lies on the other side of the screen. It’s about identity, eighties music videos and further explorations of Phonogram’s core ‘Music = Magic’ thesis. There is horror. There are jokes. There are emotions. There may even be a fight sequence. It also takes A-ha’s ‘Take On Me’ with far too much seriousness – which, for us, is the correct amount of seriousness.” [Kieron Gillen’s Workblog]
• Chin Music, by Steve Niles and Tony Harris, described by the artist as “a 1930’s Noir, Gangster, horror story.” [Tony Harris]
They’re getting the band back together. That’s the story hinted at with this teaser image (at right) that debuted this morning on iFanboy. Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson came into the public eye in 2007 with Phonogram from Image, and over the course of two limited series rose from their U.K. indie-comics roots to be notable figures in the comic scene. The comic also paved the way for all three to become in-demand creators at Marvel.
This mysterious teaser promising “One More Time” — that’s also the title of a 2000 Daft Punk song — doesn’t indicate whether that’s the name of a series or merely a tagline for something else. Many presume this heralds a third Phonogram series, especially since this weekend’s Image Expo is expected to have a host of new series announcements … but I’m not so sure. In a 2010 interview with ComicsAlliance, Gillen shot down the idea of a third Phonogram series pretty soundly due to low sales of the previous volumes.
“I feel frustrated. Enormously lucky, sure, but frustrated,” the writer admitted. “We’ve done this wonderful thing we’re crazy-proud about. But if the whole economic system was just a couple of degrees to the left, everything would have been different. I mean, just to give you an idea about narrow the margins are between what we are and what we could be, if we were selling 6K instead of 4K, we could have done those 44 issues. The difference between breaking even and actually being able to do it in comics is insane. It’s like being kept under ice, clawing. I feel like a bonsai plant.”
Have things changed since spring 2010 that could make a Phonogram project feasible? The comics market as a whole hasn’t gotten any better, but with Gillen entrenched as the writer of Uncanny X-Men and McKelvie coming off his X-Men: Season One book, they’re both at the height of their still-young careers. Maybe their experience and added sales draw makes them believe numbers would be different. Or maybe it’s something besides Phonogram completely.
I’ve known Kieron Gillen for years. I’ve had the opportunity to interview him multiple times, from his early beginnings in the British indie-comics scene to his first formative pro work Phonogram and on to his growing resume at Marvel, which includes Thor, Ares, S.W.O.R.D., Generation Hope and his recently announced gig co-writing Uncanny X-Men with Matt Fraction. Prior to comics he was a video-games journalist, carving out a niche for himself in print magazines — and one that he continues with his website Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
This interview was conducted before news of his Uncanny X-Men gig was announced, so that’s not discussed; I’d like to think even if I knew about it I’d avoid mentioning it just for laughs.
Chris Arrant: Let’s start with an easy one — what are you working on today?
Kieron Gillen: It’s Saturday! I’m slacking.
Well … not just slacking. I’m basically letting my subconscious — and semiconscious — chew on something that hasn’t been announced yet.
I’ll probably write some of that down later. Alternatively, I’ll polish the basically done third issue of Generation Hope, which is going splendidly.
[Editor’s note: This was emailed later by Kieron about his day] I scrawled out masses of notes from my subconscious in the evening, while watching a fairly middling film. See, the process: It works.