"Agents of SHIELD's" Edward James Olmos Talks Instigating Mutiny and the Real SHIELD
Conventions | Rob Salkowitz, author of Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture, gazes into his crystal ball and predicts some new wrinkles to the convention scene this year, including more sophisticated use of technology: “New innovations such as beacons and near-field communications now enable real-time integration between digital content and the event itself in real time. In English, this means attendees can get instant notifications of nearby items that fit their specific interests, which could help navigate confusing and noisy exhibit halls.” And they could be used for real-time gaming as well. [ICv2]
Star Clipper, the St. Louis comic store that closed last month after 27 years, will reopen in April with new owners and a new location.
Riverfront Times reports that Fantasy Books Inc. owners Steve Unverferth and Tony Favello had already bought Star Clipper’s fixtures for a new downtown location (a former art gallery and dojo), and even hired some of its stuff. And then on Feb. 21 they purchased the Star Clipper name.
Auctions | A page of original artwork from 1971’s Asterix and the Laurel Wreath sold at auction Sunday for more than $158,000, with proceeds going to benefit the families of those killed in the attack on Charlie Hebdo‘s offices. The art included a special dedication by Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo, who came out of retirement in the days after the attack to draw tributes to the victims. The auction house Christie’s waived its commission for Sunday’s sale. [BBC News]
Political cartoons | Ecuadorean cartoonist Xavier Bonilla, who has been sued, threatened and reprimanded by his own government because of his political cartoons, revealed last week that he has also received threats from an Ecuadorean member of ISIS over a cartoon making fun of the extremist group. While he ultimately decided the threat wasn’t credible, Bonilla said, “It has to be understood within this climate of hostility and harassment that’s been created within the country. It’s gotten to the point where even humor is being persecuted and oppressed by the president.” Reporter Jim Wyss also looks at some other cases of government suppression of political cartoons in Latin America [Miami Herald]
Awards | Roz Chast has won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Best Autobiography for her graphic novel Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? Chast’s tale of taking care of her parents in their declining years seems to be one of those books that crosses the usual boundaries, winning recognition not only in comics circles but in general book awards such as the Kirkus Awards and the National Book Awards. [Comic Riffs]
Retailing | ICv2 continues its focus on manga with a profile of Boston’s Comicopia, where they stock a lot of manga (4,000 volumes) and the staff really understands it. Most of the manga is simply shelved by title, reflecting the fact that readers often cross the target demographics (i.e. a lot of girls read Shonen Jump), but Comicopia also has sections for yaoi, all-ages manga, and “Manga for People that Don’t Like Manga.” [ICv2]
Manga | ICv2 kicks off a week of manga coverage with a two-part interview with Kevin Hamric, Viz Media’s senior director of sales and marketing. Sales are up, with particularly strong growth in the direct market, where their older and darker series, like the Signature line, tend to do better. Interestingly, sales of shoujo (girls’) manga are up 20 percent in the direct market as well. In bookstores, as measured by BookScan, they are the number one graphic novel publisher of 2014, and they had five of the top ten best-sellers. Given all that, Hamric is genial about ceding the top spot to a Kodansha title: “Attack on Titan is #1, but whatever works and brings people into the stores and into the category is good for everybody.” In Part 2, he reveals what he expects to be the biggest book of 2015, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. [ICv2]
Graphic novels | Once again, Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? leads the BookScan list of the top-selling graphic novels in bookstores. Volumes one and two of March also did well on the February chart, placing third and fourth, respectively. All four volumes of Saga made the list, along with three volumes of The Walking Dead and, shockingly, just one of Attack on Titan. [ICv2]
Creators | Jeff Lemire began getting calls from Hollywood even before the first issue of his new series Descender, a collaboration with artist Dustin Nguyen, came out. But while they sold the film rights to Sony Pictures, Lemire is determined the comic will come first: “I think one of the biggest things that went into us choosing Sony [was], we made it very clear — and they were very receptive — that we were going to tell the comic book the way we wanted to tell the comic. Meaning, if in the comic we wanted to veer left and they wanted to go right with the movie, we could do that.” [Comic Riffs]
Publishing | The French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy before armed gunmen attacked its offices last month, but the outpouring of support that followed has changed the financial picture: The first issue after the attack sold millions of copies, 250,000 new subscribers signed up, and the paper even received more than $4.5 million in donations. The flush of wealth is causing dissension among the staff, Sam Schechner reports, with some arguing that the publication should become a cooperative. At the same time, they’re discussing how Charlie Hebdo will keep its edge under the new circumstances. A new issue, the second since the attacks, is out on newsstands today. [The Wall Street Journal]
Legal | In their largest raid ever, police departments across Japan arrested 40 people between Feb. 17 and Feb. 19 on suspicion of copyright infringement for illegally sharing anime, manga, music and live-action film and television dramas online. The suspects, all men ranging in age from 21 to 65, are accused of uploading such materials as Detective Conan, XXX Holic, The Wind Rises and the Mobile Suit Gundam UC soundtrack. In Japan, such unauthorized uploads are criminal acts punishable by up to 10 years in jail or fines of about $84,000. [Crunchyroll]
Last weekend, Todd Allen wrote at The Beat that he had spotted some Dark Horse comics on the newsstand at Books-A-Million, now the second-largest bookstore chain in the country. That piqued my interest, as newsstand sales have proved to be a challenge for most comics publishers for decades now, so I got in touch with Matt Parkinson, Dark Horse’s vice president of marketing, who answered some questions about the company’s newsstand sales at Books-A-Million and its used-book subsidiary 2nd & Charles.
Robot 6: First of all, what has Dark Horse’s newsstand presence been like in recent years?
Matt Parkinson: Since the early ’90s, Dark Horse had placed titles on the newsstand through various distributors. In recent years we only enjoyed strong sales if the comic had a blockbuster movie tied to it or some major media component. Ultimately, due to the reduction of available display space and the resulting decline in sales, we discontinued all newsstand distribution in fall 2014. We would consider returning to newsstand distribution if a title demonstrated mass-market appeal.
Passings | Andy Hutton, who drew the popular strip “The Q-Bikes” (which morphed briefly into “The Q-Karts”) for the British comic The Beano, died last month at age 91. Born in Calcutta, Hutton moved as a teenager to Dundee, Scotland, where he began working for Beano publisher DC Thomson at age 14. He quit that job to train to be a pilot in the Royal Air Force, but poor eyesight kept him grounded much of the time. After World War II, he got an art degree and lived in Canada for a while, working in nuclear reactor construction, before returning in 1950 to Scotland. He was a Beano artist for 25 years, and his work included Red Rory of the Eagles, Jack Flash and The Kangaroo Kid; he also taught art in a local high school. [Down the Tubes]
The couple, who’s owned the store for 33 years, recently learned their lease isn’t being renewed because the physician next door is looking to expand and offered more money. “We weren’t given a choice,” Marsha Giroux told CBS 5. “And, this beautiful store, filled with amazing stuff, is going to be a waiting room for a doctor’s office.”
Legal | Malaysian cartoonist Zunar was arrested last night on sedition charges stemming from a tweet criticizing the court that upheld the sodomy conviction of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. On Tuesday, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar posted a screencap of the offending tweet, which said, “Followers (Barua-barua) in black robes were proud in delivering judgement. Reward by Mr Politician must be lavish,” reflecting the popular opinion that the conviction was a political ploy by the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak to silence Anwar. Zunar then tweeted a cartoon of Najib as the judge handing down the verdict. Although his lawyer said Zunar offered to come in to answer questions, he was brought to the Dang Wangi police station, where he can be detained until Saturday — or longer, if police renew the remand order. [The Rakyat Post]
Conventions | The third Taipei International Comics and Animation Festival kicked off today in Taiwan, where organizers expect as many as 400,000 attendees over the next five days. Forty-seven artists, authors, actors and producers from Taiwan, Japan and South Korea are participating in the event, which last year attracted 409,000 fans and generated about $5.9 million in sales. [Want China Times]
“I’ve been such a jerk. (Your pull quote.) I used to look down my nose at stores that would order only Marvel and DC Comics and only enough to sate their Wednesday customer base, and now I get it. At Aw Yeah Comics, we’re far more diverse than that, but even still, there’s only so much money we can spend because there’s only so much money our customer base — not just our regulars, but even our potential customer base — has.”
— writer Mark Waid, on what being a retailer has taught him about comics, in an interview with Comic Book Resources announcing that he and partner Christy Branch are reincorporating their Indiana store Alter Ego Comics as Aw Yeah Comics Muncie
Conventions | At a press conference Thursday to kick off FanXperience, the Salt Lake Comic Con spinoff event, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker declared Jan. 29, 2015, as “Salt Lake Comic Con’s Day of Heroes.” Organizers, who have capped ticket sales for the second annual event at 70,000, say they expect a sellout. The Deseret News also looks at the origins of Salt Lake Comic Con in a profile of founders Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg, who were introduced to comic conventions not as fans but as entrepreneurs. FanX continues through Sunday. [KSL.com]
Festivals | Reporter Alex Turnbull files a video report from the Angoulême International Comics Festival that includes segments on the tributes to the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, the Belgian cartoonist Hermann, and a 24-hour comics challenge. [France 24]