Publishing | This may seem a little inside-baseball, but it’s actually pretty significant: Dark Horse will switch from Diamond Book Distributors to Random House for book-market distribution, effective June 1, 2014. The publisher is sticking with Diamond for comics, but a lot of its line has appeal outside the direct market — the Avatar graphic novels, the Zelda guide — and Dark Horse wants to expand its presence in bookstores. This also makes for an interesting consolidation of manga distribution, as Random House also distributes Kodansha Comics (with which it has a strong business relationship) and Vertical books. [ICv2]
Comics | Superheroes may rule on television and in film, but comics continue to be a niche medium. The Associated Press reporter Melissa Rayworth talks to a comic-shop owner whose customers skulk in on the down low, an opera singer whose friends are surprised she reads comics, and Comics Alliance writer Chris Sims, who does a good job of putting things in perspective. [ABC]
So anything interesting happen yesterday? Oh, yes, that’s right. Even the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy wasn’t enough to delay the big announcement any longer: Star Wars is now the newest crown jewel of the House of Mouse. The announcement was made a day after plans were revealed to merge two of the world’s biggest book publishers, Random House and Penguin. The two events, while occurring independent of each other, have all sorts of implications both specific and more broad.
Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm started a lot of people talking, and considering the legacy of Star Wars, it’s only natural. With George Lucas out as director and Star Wars transitioning into something akin to the James Bond franchise, don’t get your hopes up for a return to the sensibilities of the original Star Wars movie. The word “family” was used six times to describe the space opera in the press release and subsequent statements, sending a strong signal that what we’ve gotten most recently is what we’ll get for the foreseeable future. Kathleen Kennedy was hand-picked by Lucas to succeed him as head of Lucasfilm and brand manager of Star Wars. Between her and Lucas’ role as creative consultant, they’ll ensure Star Wars retains something for the kids, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, except for when it manifests itself in the form of Jar Jar Binks and other cartoon aliens with vaguely racist accents. In addition to the two- to three-year cycle of Star Wars films, there are plans for a TV presence and an expanded presence at Disney theme parks.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d start with a couple of Marvel firsts, even though one of them isn’t technically a first issue: Uncanny Avengers #1 ($3.99) and Red She-Hulk #58 ($2.99). This is the first week of Marvel NOW, and they’re starting with books by creative teams I’m excited about. Next I’d get Stumptown V2 #2 ($3.99) and wind things up with the Halloween Eve one-shot. I actually supported the Kickstarter for the latter, so my copy is probably already on the way to my mailbox, but hypothetically let’s assume that it wasn’t. It’s by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder, two creators whose work I’ve enjoyed in the past. So if it wasn’t coming to me in the mail, it would come home in a paper bag from the comic shop.
If I had $30, I’d add an outgoing Marvel title (Marvel THEN?), Fantastic Four #611, which features the end of Hickman’s run before he moves on to Avengers and Matt Fraction takes over the first family of Marveldom. Next I’d grab Green Lantern Corps #13 ($2.99) as I like the direction the GL books have been headed in lately, and Conan #9 ($3.50), the second half of Brian Wood’s collaboration with Vasilis Lolos. Finally, I’d grab Point of Impact #1 ($2.99), the new crime book by Jay Faerber and Koray Kuranel.
This is a splurge in price only; if I had $50, then Chris Ware’s Building Stories would definitely have been at the top of my buy list this week. It’s a big box of little comics, as Chris put it, and as luck would have it I really do have $50 in gift certificates that I got for my birthday to buy it with. Thanks Mom and Dad!
Bryan Lee O’Malley has largely maintained a veil of secrecy around Seconds, his follow-up to the bestselling Scott Pilgrim series, teasing fans with panel excerpts and the above limited-edition print while waving off questions about the graphic novel. “I don’t want to tell anyone just yet,” he writes in his Tumblr FAQ. “Please enjoy the mystery for now.” But in a new interview on the Random House of Canada website, the cartoonist offers what may be the first significant details about the highly anticipated book.
“I came up with the general idea for Seconds right after completing the first volume of Scott Pilgrim,” O’Malley says. “I worked in a restaurant in Toronto for a little while to pay the bills while writing the second volume and planning the rest of the series, and I had a few ideas for this other story, a story about a restaurant. So, Seconds is about a restaurant, and the restaurant is called Seconds, and 90 percent of the story takes place within it. Beyond that it’s really hard for me to explain and I’m going to have to work on that so I can talk about it properly when it comes out. But it’s funny and weird and kind of big and crazy despite the mundane setting.”
Bryan Lee O’Malley fans will have plenty to do next week at Comic-Con International in San Diego. In addition to tracking down a copy of Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life Evil Edition or Collector’s Edition at the Oni Press booth, they’ll also want to head to the Random House booth on Friday or Saturday morning to get a ticket that’s good for a print featuring the cast of O’Malley’s next project, Seconds. Random House will only have 200 copies of the print, which O’Malley will sign at their booth both afternoons. You can find more details on O’Malley’s tumblr.
Conventions | Heidi MacDonald reports that the organizers of San Diego Comic Con are tightening up on badges with measures that include matching the name on the badge to the user’s ID to prevent counterfeiting and illegal resale. Amusingly, you don’t have to go too far down the comment thread to see someone blaming Twilight fans. [The Beat]
Legal | Canadian artist Craig Wilson didn’t make it to this weekend’s Phoenix Comicon because U.S. Customs and Border Protection turned him away, saying he needed a work permit to sell comics at his Artist Alley table. Not only that, Wilson was also thumb printed and his car was searched. He said the customs agents even sent a notice to the other border crossings in case he tried to enter the country somewhere else. “I’m paying my own table at the con, hotel, meals, drinks …” Wilson said. “I was going to inject close to $2000.00 dollars into the very economy I was supposedly threatening.” [boardguy]
Creators | Sarah Glidden, creator of How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, chronicles her time at Occupy Miami Nov. 15-21 in a sketchbook. [Cartoon Movement]
Creators | Corey Blake follows up on the Bill Mantlo story published by LIfeHealthPro, including some clarifications of issues raised in the story and additional details on various fundraisers over the years to help pay for Mantlo’s care. [Corey Blake]
Creators | Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society Podcast interviews Skullkickers writer Jim Zubkavich about piracy and the Stop Online Piracy Act. [Berkman Center for Internet & Society Podcast]
Bryan Lee O’Malley’s hotly anticipated follow-up to his bestselling Scott Pilgrim series will be published in 2013 by Random House’s Villard imprint, Publishers Weekly reports.
Virtually nothing is known about the graphic novel beyond its title, Seconds, which O’Malley revealed in a tweet early last month. Random House’s Ryan Doherty will edit the book.
Published by Oni Press, all six volumes of the Scott Pilgrim series appeared on The New York Times bestseller list, thanks in part to director Edgar Wright’s 2010 adaptation. Although the film failed to ignite the box office, the books continue to sell well: The second volume, originally released in 2005, landed in BookScan’s Top 20 for graphic novels sold in bookstores in June — 10 months after the movie’s opening. The final volume, Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour, received a 100,000-copy first printing.
Publishing | Retail news and analysis site ICv2 concludes its two-part interview with Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley, who addresses the struggle between “tightly interwoven continuity” and accessible comics: “… You run the constant battle of people saying ‘we need one-shots for people to jump on to,’ but the ordering trends don’t play to that a lot. The ordering trends play to ‘is this tied to an event.’ It was very evident with DC’s Brightest Day and Darkest Night orders. It was very evident during Civil War. So you hear that said a lot but most of the sales are very contradictory to those desires. Making books as easily entered into as possible is something we try to pay close attention to. I’m not going to deny that we don’t get lost in our own soup sometimes which is the nature of serialized story-telling. It’s hard to keep the revenue numbers without tying in books to leverage off the big books.” [ICv2.com]
What’s happening to Del Rey manga?
Just a few weeks ago, in response to fan concerns about some volumes being canceled or postponed, we asked associate publisher Dallas Middaugh what was going on, and he was very reassuring:
Let me assure you that Random House plans to be in the manga business for years to come, and our program overall remains strong and steady.
Perhaps Random House does, but the Del Rey imprint seems to be foundering. At the manga site Kuriousity, blogger Andre notes there are no new Del Rey titles in October Previews, and no new Del Rey titles on Amazon after November, except for a handful that have been pushed back to 2013.
I e-mailed Middaugh for a response, and he replied, “Thanks for asking, but we have no comment at this time.” Andre got a similar answer from Del Rey’s PR person, April Flores.
Meanwhile, Del Rey’s website (which was one of the better-designed publisher sites) has been folded into Random House’s Suvudu.com, which is a horrible mishmash in terms of design and product presentation. As a result, catalog descriptions for Del Rey manga, whether by design or by accident, are now almost impossible to find — they don’t show up when you search the site, only when you search in the Random House box.
What does it all mean? Commenters at Kuriousity speculate that Del Rey will stick to global manga, and Japanese licenses will go to Kodansha USA, which is distributed by Del Rey’s parent company Random House. Del Rey has a panel scheduled at New York Comic Con, but it seems to be about prose properties. So for now, all we can do is wait and see.
It’s always exciting to get the quarterly publishing catalogs from Random House in the mail and see what Pantheon, the best of the major New York City-based book publishers when it comes to graphic novels, has in store. And yesterday’s special delivery of the Spring 2011 catalog to “Fort Collins” was a real doozy: Major new works are on the way from a pair of alternative-comics titans, Wilson‘s Daniel Clowes and Julius Knipl‘s Ben Katchor.
First up is Daniel Clowes’s Mister Wonderful, a collection of the Eisner Award-winning serial strip that kicked off The New York Times Magazine‘s Funny Pages comics section. What’s new about this, you ask? How about fully 40 pages of new material, according to the publisher? That’s practically a whole new strip. Looks from the cover image in the catalog like the work’s being reformatted from broadsheet to landscape, too — which is maybe where some of that new page count is coming from, come to think of it. But either way, I’m excited to revisit the story of a lonely middle-aged man and his too-good-to-be-true blind date, which was sort of the genial GoodFellas to Wilson‘s brutal Casino. The book retails for $22.95 and hits in April 2011.
Next is Ben Katchor’s The Cardboard Valise, the acclaimed cartoonist’s first book in over ten years (!). Instead of the slightly more fantastical version of New York City found in much of his previous work, Katchor’s constructing an entire new country for this one: Outer Canthus, a strange region inhabited by travel junkie Emile Delilah, the exiled king Boreal Rince, and globalist Elijah Salamis. Together they explore, and I quote, “a vast panorama of humane hamburger stands, exquisitely ethereal ethnic restaurants, ancient restroom ruins, and wild tracts of land that fit neatly next to high-rise hotels.” That’s our Katchor! There’s really nothing else out there like Katchor’s inky, off-kilter explorations of the spaces people build, inhabit, and forget, and I can’t wait to get my hands on this one. The Cardboard Valise can be opened for $22 when it arrives in February 2011.
Should that headline read “Michael Jackson wrote a graphic novel!!!” or “Michael Jackson wrote a graphic novel???”
Either way, it appears the late King of Pop will soon be conquering another part of pop culture. Reporting from the Frankfurt Book Fair, Publishers Weekly reveals that Jackson and his friend Gotham Chopra (son of famous guru Deepak Chopra and former honcho of Virgin Comics) had quietly spent years collaborating on a book called Fated, about a reclusive pop superstar whose failed suicide attempt makes him even more famous and “something not quite human.” (Whether that means he somehow gains extraordinary powers or is just, you know, kinda like Michael Jackson remains to be seen.)
The book, a small black-and-white hardcover illustrated by Mukesh Singh, is due out from Random House/Villard in June 2010. Here’s hoping its success leads to a 12-issue Thriller maxi-series.
Continuing our ongoing look at what various publishers have planned for the coming year, here’s a look at Random House’s line-up.
I should note this includes this list includes the Ballantine, Villard and Del Rey imprints. I am not including Del Rey Manga here, as I hope to list their offerings as a separate post in the near future.