INTERVIEW: Gail Simone Guides 'Blockbuster Update' of Red Sonja, Vampirella and Dejah Thoris
Retailing | The Philadelphia comics and art shop Locust Moon is closing its doors as a retailer so that co-owner Joshua O’Neill can focus on a different area of the business: publishing. “[A]s publishers, we’re just getting started,” O’Neill posted on his Facebook page. “[W]e’ll now be able to focus our attentions on making books full time. we’re incredibly excited about that. locust moon is not dying — it’s still just being born.” Locust Moon has already published an Eisner Award-winning anthology of Little Nemo comics, and is running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of some very early “lost” Will Eisner comics. [PhillyVoice]
Passings | Michael C. Gross, the artist, designer and film producer best remembered for creating the iconic Ghostbusters logo, passed away Monday following a prolonged battle with cancer. He was 70 years old. Hired in 1970 as the art director of The National Lampoon, Gross is credited with pioneering the magazine’s approach to comics and illustration; he’s also famed for his notorious cover bearing the headline, “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog.” Gross was encouraged by his friends John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd to move in the early 1980s from New York to Los Angeles, where he produced such films as Heavy Metal, Twins and both Ghostbusters films, and worked on the animated series The Real Ghostbusters. [The Associated Press]
Creators | Fast Company named writer Kelly Sue DeConnick as one of its 100 “Most Creative People in Business 2015,” a list that includes innovators in technology, scientific research, entertainment, medicine and social media. The writer of such comics as Bitch Planet and Pretty Deadly, DeConnick is cited specifically for “reanimating a superhero,” Captain Marvel. [Fast Company]
Awards | Bad Blood, the Dark Horse miniseries written by Jonathan Maberry and illustrated by Tyler Crook, won the Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in a graphic novel, presented over the weekend by the Horror Writers Association. [Horror Writers Association]
Image Expo returned on Thursday, and it wasn’t messing around. Each year, Image Comics seems to pack bigger announcements and bigger surprises into a single-day event. And the diversity of creators and genres gets that much better, too.
This year’s Image Expo — held again at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, following last July’s event at Comic-Con International in San Diego — included the now-standard keynote address by Publisher Eric Stephenson. He reviewed the past year’s successes and echoed plans to make Image the No. 1 publisher, but aside from throwing the gauntlet down at the feet of Marvel and DC, his address avoided some of the controversial statements and manifestos of years past. While I appreciate a good sabre-rattling, it allowed the focus to remain squarely on the creators and their comics.
With that in mind, here are my six favorite announcements from Image Expo 2015:
Like comiXology and Marvel Unlimited, DC Entertainment and Image Comics are celebrating Comic-Con International with sales on select digital titles.
Through Tuesday, DC is marking the 75th anniversary of the Dark Knight by offering digital downloads of a whopping 750 Batman comics for 99 cents each. These aren’t typical dollar-bin titles, however; they include The Dark Knight Returns, The Long Halloween, No Man’s Land, Year One, Hush, The Court of the Owls and All Star Batman & Robbin the Boy Wonder. If you’re wanting to go way back, there are comics dating back to 1938, with Batman’s debut in Detective Comics #27.
How limited? Just 60 of each 11.7-inch by 16.5-inch linen prints of the covers for the first five issues and the first trade paperback. At $40, they’re likely to go pretty quickly.
The Image Comics series, created by Rios and Kelly Sue DeConnick, earned a handful of Eisner nominations and inspired a line of perfumes.
Publishing | Calvin Reid looks at how publishing is done on Kickstarter, and interviews Maris Kreizman, the general publishing manager, and Jamie Tanner, who oversees the comics category and is himself a comics creator. Comics campaigns have a success rate of nearly 50 percent, making them the fourth-highest category on Kickstarter (and way ahead of general publishing, which has a 32 percent success rate). Tanner sees the popularity of comics as an indication that people still like a print product, and, he pointed out, “setting up a [Kickstarter comics] project, offering rewards and a delivery date, is very much like any conventional comics publishing project.” [Publishers Weekly]
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, the company that’s created fragrances inspired by Hellboy, Irredeemable, Grendel and even Neil Gaiman, has now turned its attention — and its nose — to Pretty Deadly, the mythic Western created by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios.
The new line of perfume oil blends includes Alice, The Reaper of Cruelty, described as “Bourbon geranium emboldened by the rich scent of aged patchouli, the sweetness of peach, raspberry leaf, and bourbon vanilla, surrounded by a butterfly swarm of spicy carnation and Italian bergamot,” and Ginny, The Reaper of Vengeance, characterized as “Sharp tobacco flower and white cognac, a thin layer of smoke, and dusty black pepper pierced by the amber of her eyes.”
This year’s Eisner Awards nominations were dominated by two publishers, Fantagraphics and Image Comics, with the former earning 18 and the latter 17 (plus three shared). To celebrate the occasion, Image is holding a 50 percent-off sale on digital editions of all 10 nominated titles, for a limited time. That means you’re getting single issues for just 99 cents each.
Whether you’ve fallen behind on some of the series or want to see what all the hubbub is about, now is pretty good time to check out East of West, Lazarus, The Manhattan Projects, Nowhere Men, Outlaw Territory, Pretty Deadly, Rat Queens, Saga, Sex Criminals and Zero.
“The message that we send when we don’t represent the broader culture in our stories is that ‘You are other.’ … As a community, as an organism, it is a thing that makes us ill. It is actually bad for us.”
– Kelly Sue DeConnick, writer of Captain Marvel and Pretty Deadly, speaking about the need to diversity the kinds of characters that appear in comics, at the “Broadening Comics Readership” panel at Emerald City Comicon
Awards | Jamie Smart’s Fish-Head Steve has been shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, the first comic to make the list in the six-year history of the award. The prize recognizes the funniest book for children in two age categories, and the final judges will be 200 children from schools around the United Kingdom. [Forbidden Planet]
Comics | Eric Margolis reports on the difficulties U.K. creator Darren Cullen had in getting his Kickstarter-funded comic (Don’t) Join the Army printed. The format was unusual, so some shops simply couldn’t do it, but printers also took exception to the comic itself, which was an “anti-recruitment leaflet” satirizing the British army. [Comic Book Legal Defense Fund]
A retailer who last week ripped a copy of Pretty Deadly #1 in half in front of customers, triggering heated online reaction as well as responses from Image Comics and writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, has apologized for his actions.
“A small group of long time customers who know me well asked me what I really thought of the book,” Steven LeClaire, owner Comics Ink in Culver City, California, explained in a post on the Bleeding Cool forum (it was deleted and made into a standalone article). “For dramatic effect, I ripped a copy of the book after giving my review. I personally found the book lacking a coherent storyline and the art too muddy to follow. That was my opinion. The book was still on the shelves for sale for all those who wanted it. I made a mistake of thinking I was having a private talk with a small group of friends. I apologize for my actions.”
The incident was first mentioned Thursday by CBR columnist Hannibal Tabu in “The Buy Pile,” where he wrote that he agreed with the retailer’s assessment of the issue — by DeConnick, Emma Rios, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles — although he didn’t mention LeClaire by name. Word of the comic’s destruction quickly spread online, with Zero writer Ales Kot questioning whether the act was prompted merely by “anger about the product, or also by misogyny,” and leading Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson to offer to take back the remaining copies of Pretty Deadly #1 from Comics Ink and have Diamond Comic Distributors cancel orders for subsequent issues.
Thursday’s installment of CBR’s long-running (and infamously blunt) review column “The Buy Pile” attracted more controversy than usual when writer Hannibal Tabu described the retailer at his local comic book store — Comics Ink in Culver City, just outside LA city limits — tearing up a copy of Image’s Pretty Deadly #1 in front of customers. Tabu made it know that he also had a negative take on the issue, calling it “remarkable in its rough hewn, unfinished looking art, drifting narrative and tedium.”
The incident as reported quickly took a life of its own, with sites like Bleeding Cool and Multiversity Comics weighing in on the situation, and industry professionals discussing and debating the topic; including Secret Avengers and Zero writer Ales Kot asking if the destruction was prompted by “anger about the product, or also by misogyny” given that three of the four main creative forces on the book — writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, penciler and inker Emma Rios and colorist Jordie Bellaire — are female (letter Claytown Cowles is male).
DeConnick remained silent on the issue until Friday, in a Tumblr post titled, “The Only Statement I Will Make On The Matter.” In it, the writer says she first found humor in getting a negative review in The Buy Pile, viewing it as something of a rite of passage: “I literally laughed out loud. Hey! I got jumped in!”
Publishing | Viz Media, the largest U.S. publisher of English-language manga, is poised to jump in to a new market: India. Kevin Hamric, the company’s director of publishing and marketing, was there this week, and he says the demand is there. “With India’s growing book and reading sector we have identified it as key to our growth,” Hamric says. “We receive many, many requests each and every month from fans in India to bring our product here.” [The Hindu Business Line]
Comics | As the Avengers turn 50, Noel Murray recounts their history and explains why they work so well as a super-team. [Hero Complex]
Conventions | The founder of this month’s incredibly successful Salt Lake Comic Con — it drew about 70,000 attendees in its first year — is planning a spinoff event for Jan. 9-11, the weekend before the Sundance Film Festival. [Salt Lake Tribune]
It seems the next class of hot Marvel creators is rising faster than the publisher can slap on a moniker like “Young Guns,” “Terrific Tens” or “Architects.” Part of that group is Portland, Oregon-based writer Kelly Sue DeConnick. She recently launched the longtime Marvel heroine Carol Danvers, aka Ms. Marvel, in Captain Marvel, and she recently took over Avengers Assemble from Marvel’s de facto chief writer Brian Michael Bendis. In addition, Dark Horse recently enlisted DeConnick to revive and revitalize its superhero pulp series Ghost, and she has her first creator-owned series in the works: Pretty Deadly, with her Osborn collaborator Emma Rios.
I’ve known about DeConnick peripherally for almost a decade now, reading her posts on the classic Warren Ellis Forum in the early ’00s, years before she got into comics. She’s shown herself to to have a remarkable wit in her comics and in interviews, and a real sense for action without losing heart in works like Captain Marvel and the short Black Widow story she created with Jamie McKelvie inside Enter The Heroic Age. Although 2012 seems like her biggest year yet, it feels as if she’s on the precipice of something larger still. In my conversation with DeConnick, she was refreshingly upfront and revealing about riding the waves of life as a comics writer, and showed off a rarely seen side of what its like to be a comics creator.