Publishing | Diamond’s December numbers for sales in comics shops are out, and the picture is grim. Diamond reports that it sold 89,985 copies of the top selling single-issue comic, Batman: The Dark Knight #1—the lowest number for the month’s top seller since ICv2 started tracking the numbers in 2001. In its more detailed dollar analysis, Diamond sees comics sales down and graphic novel sales up for a slight overall increase, both in December and in the last quarter of 2010 as a whole. [ICv2]
Publishing | Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada announced that Nick Lowe has been promoted to senior editor. Lowe edits Uncanny X-Men, Generation Hope and New Mutants, among other titles. [Comic Book Resources]
Publishing | Douglas Wolk boils down the 2010 comics sales data into some easily digested bullet points, for the benefit of those who don’t like to spend all day squinting at sales charts. [Techland]
Pop culture | Apparently inspired by Tiger Mask, a character from a manga popular in the 1960s, people in Japan have been quietly dropping off gifts for children in orphanages and other institutions. [Inquirer.net]
Digital comics | Johanna Draper Carlson tries out the comiXology app for the Android OS and is somewhat underwhelmed. [Comics Worth Reading]
“Event Marketing” ultimately conditioned the majority of consumers to not want books that weren’t part of events, weren’t part of the “core continuity.” The over-proliferation of line expansions (seriously who wants eleven different “Thor” comics solicited to ship in a single month? Thor, historically, can barely support a single title) did the same….The thing is: this is a self-inflicted wound. Event marketing, line expansions, overproduction of minis and new #1s, price increases — these were all things that publishers chose to do in order to make as much money as they could. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se — we live in a system of capitalism, and capitalism demands greater profits. But we’ve systematically made what seemed like sound short-term decisions that largely gutted the long-term market for most of the product within it. Ooops!…We have to strip lines down, hard, to just the brilliant shiny heart of it all and have the message be, “Yeah, we’re publishing half of what we used to, but, damn, if we published any more awesome stuff that you just can’t wait to get the next issue of, we’d all explode!”
–Retailer and CBR columnist Brian Hibbs, arguing that the proliferation of comics about the same characters has been a disaster and publishers need to radically cut back.
[Reader Question:] Do you think less having titles would be workable? Would having e.g. Batman in only one (or at most two) title be a high-enough seller in the long term (due to not diluting the franchise) to offset the loss of sales from multiple books?
[Tom Brevoort:] No, not at all. Every time this sort of thing has been tried in the past, the results have been the same. For the most part, multiple titles featuring the same character(s) don’t cannibalize sales from one another, nor do the sales aggregate when you eliminate the other books.
–Marvel Senior V.P. – Executive Editor Tom Brevoort, arguing that radically cutting back would be a disaster and the proliferation of comics about the same characters is just fine.
One of these men is wrong. But who?
Publishing | Dark Horse Comics and Vanguard Productions have reached an agreement on who will publish Frank Frazetta’s White Indian comics after each company had reached separate agreements with different members of the Frazetta family. Dark Horse has taken The Classic Comics Archives Vol. 1: White Indian off their schedule. Vanguard will release the Complete Frazetta White Indian Collection, while Dark Horse will collect all the post-Frazetta material that featured the character. [ICv2]
Passings | Mark Evanier reports that Jerry Grandenetti, who began his career as an art assistant to Will Eisner on The Spirit, passed away Feb. 17. Grandenetti’s work appeared in Creepy, Eerie, House of Mystery, Prez and Championship Sports, among many other titles. [News from Me]
Pricing | Douglas Wolk considers the higher price of comics: “Twenty years ago, the price of a new mainstream comic book was 75 cents, about to make the leap to a dollar, the same percentage they’re currently increasing. For a $20 bill, you could get a stack of a couple dozen titles, with some interesting indie experiments thrown in.
“Since then, the price of comics has zoomed far ahead of the cost of living: $20 in 1990 is the equivalent of a bit over $33 now, while new mainstream comic books have more than quadrupled in price. And what happens when comics abruptly increase their cover prices by a third while adding little or no extra content–and the $20 standard gets you all of five 22-page comic books that take a few minutes apiece to read–is that that value proposition gets a lot less enticing.” [Techland]
Last week’s news that Japanese and U.S. manga publishers are teaming up to combat illegal scan sites has led to a robust discussion of whether scanlators can go legit—and in fact such a project may be in the offing.
The publishers are targeting aggregator sites, which are draining off their profits by posting their licensed, copyrighted books online. They are less concerned about scanlation groups working on unlicensed manga. In fact, the publisher Digital Manga may be trying its own legal version of scanlation, according to this report at The Yaoi Review.
DMP is working on a new ‘secret’ project for publishing more manga faster and cheaper than it is now. It would be via a digital format and they are looking to hire scanlators to help with this. Essentially, scanlators would be doing what they do now except there is the possibility of getting paid based on the sales of said manga titles they worked on. They also get to have their name on everything they translate and retain certain rights to the work they do.
There are two ways of looking at this. One is that Digital is pioneering a legal scanlation model and paying translators for work they were previously doing for free. The other is that Digital is exploiting inexperienced translators by asking them to work on spec. There is a robust discussion of this and other points in the comments.
Meanwhile, at least one scan site seems to be trying to go legit.
I’m filling in for Kevin on our daily roundup of news items, so my apologies for the lateness and any dip in quality in today’s edition. –JK
Conventions | The 36th annual Angoulême International Comics Festival starts today in France, running through Jan. 31. NBM’s Terry Nantier is on the ground and blogging from it, while Bart Beaty has kicked off his usual thorough coverage at the Comics Reporter. [Angoulême International Comics Festival]
Legal | An Australian man has pleaded guilty to downloading “graphic cartoon porn images” featuring child characters from The Simpsons, The Powerpuff Girls and The Incredibles. Kurt James Milner, 28, was sentenced to 12 months in jail, but it was “wholly suspended” for five years.
“The 28-year-old is now a registered sex offender and will have to report to police after pleading guilty in Ipswich District Court to having the bizarre images on his computer,” the Queensland Times reports. [Queensland Times]
I usually don’t try to plug online shops and sales too often, but this struck me as rather interesting and worthy of note: Comics scholar Rick Marschall and Jonathan Barli have set up Rosebud Archives, an online shop where you can buy prints, books, stationary and portfolios of early 20th century cartoonists and illustrators like Winsor McCay, George McManus, George Herriman, Milt Gross and many more. The site draws upon the pair’s huge collection of art work, so it’s safe to assume there will be a lot more available in the months to come. (via)
In yet another blow to the newspaper and publishing industries, Nielsen Business Media will close Editor & Publisher and Kirkus Reviews.
The news accompanied an announcement that Nielsen is selling its other trade publications, including The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, Adweek and Mediaweek, to e5 Global Media, a new company formed by Pluribus Capital Management and Guggenheim Partners.
Romanesko has the memo sent out by Nielsen CEO Greg Farrar.
Founded in 1901, the monthly E&P chronicled the goings-on of the newspaper industry, from circulation to technology to comic strips. Pre-Internet, the magazine was the source for finding journalism jobs.
The 76-year-old Kirkus Reviews was a well-respected journal for pre-release book reviews, featuring about 4,500 titles a year. It has long been considered an indispensable source for libraries, agents, booksellers, and film and television producers.
No date was immediately given for the closings.
Update: According to an article on the E&P website, staff members will stay through the remainder of 2009.
Retailing | Could Disney’s planned $4-billion purchase of Marvel signal the return comic books to the mass market? “I see the Marvel acquisition by Disney helping to expand the genre of comic books and remove it from the dusty basement of the world,” says direct-market retailer Creswell. “I do see Disney stepping in and offering retailers outside of the direct comic book market incentives for selling Marvel products,” Creswell said. [Reuters]
Publishing | Long-struggling e-book site Wowio reportedly has informed publishers that payments for the second quarter of 2008 will be made by Nov. 15. Wowio, which was purchased last year by Platinum Studios, was sold in July to a holding company formed by Platinum President and COO Brian Altounian. [Bleeding Cool]
Conventions | The inaugural Long Beach Comic Con kicks off today at the Long Beach Convention Center in California. Guests include Berkeley Breathed, Stan Lee, Tim Bradstreet, J. Scott Campbell, Amanda Conner, Geoff Johns, Dave Johnson, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Scott Lobdell, Dustin Nguyen, Darick Robertson and Mark Waid. The Long Beach Post and Gazettes Town-News have previews. [Long Beach Comic Con]
Events | 24-Hour Comics Day will be held Saturday at locations around the world. [24-Hour Comics Day]
Conventions | Heidi MacDonald posts her Small Press Expo round-up/wrap-up/photo parade. [The Beat]
If you’re like me (and who’s to say you aren’t), you’ve no doubt been wondering what’s up with Fantagraphics Ignatz line, which up until recently seemed to be stuck on standby. This week finally sees the release of two new issues — Delphine #4 and Grotesque #3 – and over at Flog, Kim Thompson reveals that more is on the way, including the third issue of Kevin Huizenga’s Ganges.
Next up, likely to be released toward the end of the year, is a double whammy of Niger #3 by Leila Marzocchi (check out the cover of this wild ecological fable), and the fourth and concluding installment of Ponchione’s Grotesque (with another standalone story). Then Spring 2010 will, if everything goes well, see the release of the fourth issue of Igort’s cartoonist-graphic-novel-a-clef Baobab; the fourth (and concluding) issue of Gabriella Giandelli’s hard-to-pronounce magical apartment building story Interiorae; and the third issue of Zak Sally’s otherworldly picaresque Sammy the Mouse.
Thompson also writes that the Gipi series Wish You Were Here and Marti ‘s Calvario Hills are M.I.A. for now, though David B. may have a new issue of Babel out sometime next year.
Dan Nadel posted a press release at Comics Comics yesterday that, in addition to announcing two upcoming books from PictureBox — Powr Masters 3 by CF and If n Oof by Brian Chippendale — asked fans to ensure these books got printed by ordering them now:
These two books are among the best graphic novels of our time, but they need your support. Like a lot of publishers, PictureBox is looking for new ways to navigate the current terrain. To that end, we are attempting to raise the money for these books ahead of time. It’s all an experiment these days.
So we are looking to you, as a community of readers, to help make these books a reality. Everyone that orders advance copies of one or both of these books (up until August 1) will receive the book itself and a signed silkscreen print upon the books’ releases. Everyone that orders in advance by June 20, 2009 will have their names hand-lettered in the book with their corresponding level of support (see below). We need about 400 of you per book to step up and help make this a reality. Let’s come together as a community.
Nadel has PDF previews up at the site, and he’s also offering an interesting, PBS-style tiered system of support, where, say, $45 nets you both books and the prints, but $150 nets you the books, the prints and a full color drawing by one of the artists.
It will certainly be interesting to see what the response to this idea will be. The ability to gain two prints by ordering ahead certainly is tantalizing, although now I’m suddenly worried that PictureBox is in worse financial shape than I had previously thought.
You can read Nadel’s full press release after the jump:
* Over at the Drawn & Quarterly blog, Tom Devlin announces that the company will be starting a children’s book line, entitled “D&Q Enfant.” The first few titles in the line will consist of Moomin picture books.
* The blog Monster Brains has a brief preview of Johnny Ryan’s upcoming grand guginol graphic novel, Prison Pit. It’s probably NSFW.
* The Cartoon Network and Del Rey have joined forces to produce a series of graphic novels based on the popular Secret Saturdays cartoon show. The first volume will hit stores in September.
* Zenescope has announced plans for a third and final Wonderland mini-series.
Goldklang had worked for the Knopf imprint for 25 years.
Pantheon publishes such notable graphic novels as Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan, Joann Sfar’s The Rabbi’s Cat, Charles Burns’ Black Hole and David B.’s Epileptic.
The New York Observer reports that more layoffs are expected in the next three weeks at Crown, Knopf and the flagship Random House Publishing Group.