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Comics A.M. | The changing industry and its changing audience

The Mighty Thor #2

The Mighty Thor #2

Comics | The comics industry has undergone seismic changes in the past few years, and Heidi MacDonald rounds up some recent comments from retailers and pundits about what they’re seeing. It’s a good read that leads to many other good reads, but here’s the takeaway: “
The real issue — one that many people in the industry may have trouble dealing with — is that the comics audience has changed. They didn’t get into comics during the first run of the Ultimate universe. They didn’t come in with the original 52 mini series or Final Crisis. They probably didn’t even start with the New 52. The methods and product mixes that were formulated to deal with a readership that grew up when comics were a niche product for nerds have to be reevaluated when new readers are coming in from the top properties in every form of entertainment, from graphic novels that they were taught in school, from webcomics, from creators with strong social media, from every which way. There is no well marked four lane highway to comics any more, just a delightful variety of roads, interstates and worn down dirt paths.” [The Beat]

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Comics A.M. | Ta-Nehisi Coates among Book Critics award finalists

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Awards | Adding to a list of recent honors that includes a National Book Award and a MacArthur “genius grant,” author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates has been nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism for his acclaimed memoir Between the World and Me. Coates is collaborating with artist Brian Stelfreeze on Marvel’s new Black Panther series, which debuts in April. [The New York Times]

Creators | Comics-industry pundit Rob Salkowitz looks at the resurgence of interest in Jack Kirby, who has posthumously received credit (and pay) for the work he created over the years for Marvel Comics: “For decades, the story of how everyone made a fortune off the work of this visionary creator except for Kirby himself – who until his final days toiled to eke out financial security for his family – stood as one of the most egregious injustices in an industry distinguished by its ill-treatment of creative talent. Now, as we approach his centenary in 2017, the man that Stan Lee nicknamed ‘King of the Comics’ is finally starting to get his due in the wider world of art, culture and commerce.” [Forbes]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Attack on Titan: No Regrets’ DVDs to be bundled with manga

Art by Cameron Stewart

Art by Cameron Stewart

Manga | Kodansha Comics will bundle DVDs of the first and second episodes of the anime Attack on Titan: No Regrets with the U.S. release of special editions of the 18th and 19th volumes of the Attack on Titan manga, respectively. The company also revealed a variant cover for the special edition of Vol. 18 drawn by Cameron Stewart (Batgirl, Catwoman). Attack on Titan: No Regrets is adapted from the spinoff manga of the same name, a prequel to the main series that tells the story of Captain Levi and Commander Erwin. In Japan, the two DVDs were bundled with volumes 15 and 16 of Attack on Titan. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Charlie Hebdo’ cartoon sparks outrage

charlie hebdo-cartoon

Political cartoons | The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is in the headlines again, this time because of a cartoon that asks “What would little Aylan have become if he grew up? A groper of buttocks in Germany.” The cartoon shows two lecherous men running after women; in an inset is a drawing of the famous photograph of the body of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, who drowned off the coast of Turkey while fleeing Syria. The cartoon refers to reports that large numbers of men who appeared to be Arab robbed and sexually assaulted women in several German cities during the New Year’s celebrations. While many critics accused the magazine of racism, others countered that the cartoon is a commentary on how quickly European public opinion has swung from sympathy to xenophobia. The cartoon was drawn by Charlie Hebdo staffer Laurent “Riss” Sourisseau, who survived the deadly January 2015 attack on the magazine’s Paris offices.[CNN]

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Comics A.M. | Comics, diversity and the ‘Asian superhero’

Silk #1

Silk #1

Comics | Keith Chow, editor of The Nerds of Color, responds to the New York Times opinion column that questioned the very concept of an Asian superhero, pointing out that there have actually been a number of successful Asian superheroes, several of whom debuted this year; that contrary to what the writer Umapagan Ampikaipakan says, there are a lot of superheroes in manga; and that the story of Superman, the original superhero, was essentially an immigrant story. “Coincidentally, Ampikaipakan derisively refers to Kamala Khan’s storyline in ‘Ms. Marvel’ as ‘merely another retelling of the classic American immigrant experience,’ and therefore not worthy of the universality of the superhero archetype,” Chow writes. “I guess immigrant experiences only matter so long as the immigrant isn’t brown.” [NBC News]

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Comics A.M. | The state of the newspaper comics page

Evil Inc.

Evil Inc.

Comic strips | The end of Edge City has generated a conversation about newspaper comics in general. As co-creator Ray LaBan says, creating a comic strip was his childhood fantasy, and he got to do it, “But I got to do it when everybody stopped paying attention.” This article takes a broad view, looking at the fact that newspapers’ budgets for comics, like everything else, are shrinking, online portals are providing alternatives, and readers’ strong preferences for legacy strips like Beetle Bailey and Blondie, as well as safe topics, are limiting the opportunities for new strips. Universal UClick launches one new strip a year, according to president John Glynn. On the other hand, creator Brad Guigar is taking his comic Evil Inc. out of the Inquirer because he can do better with a more mature version, published online and supported through Patreon. With interviews with the syndicates, a newspaper features editor, and creators, this piece is a well rounded look at the current state of syndicated comics. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]

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Comics A.M. | Store employee foils theft of $114 in comics

JHU Comic Books employee Dani Ward (via JHU Comic Books)

JHU Comic Books employee Dani Ward (via JHU Comic Books)

Crime | An alert employee of JHU Comic Books in Staten Island helped foil a would-be shoplifter who was trying to make off with $114 worth of comics in his pants. According to police, Dani Ward noticed that Nicholas Perciballi, 22, was acting nervous, and she suspected he might be up to something, so she kept her eye on him as he shopped. Sure enough, as he was leaving the store, he allegedly dropped some comics from underneath his shirt. Ward reportedly called out and ran after Perciballi, then called the cops, who picked him up about 20 minutes later. When he was searched, police say they found four packets of heroin and a number of comics hidden in his clothes. Perciballi has been arrested three times in recent months on drug charges, and he allegedly told police, “I’m selling to support my habit and to cover my court fees from my last case.” [New York Daily News]

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Comics A.M. | Visiting Koch Comics, Brooklyn’s ‘Warehouse of Wonders’

koch comics

Retailing | The New York Times pays a visit to a comics store that’s unusually hard to find: Joseph Koch’s Comic Book Warehouse, which is tucked away in an industrial area in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. There’s no sign on the door to the second-floor shop, but at the moment Koch is doing the majority of business online, selling comics in bulk to overseas retailers: “If you go to a comic book store in Iceland,” he said, “they’ll probably know who I am.” In New York, not so much, but he has plans to make the store more amenable to walk-in customers. [The New York Times]

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Comics A.M. | Driver sentenced in 2014 ZombieWalk crash

From the 2014 ZombieWalk crash

From the 2014 ZombieWalk crash

Legal | Matthew Pocci Jr., the driver who injured a woman last year during the annual San Diego ZombieWalk held in conjunction with Comic-Con International, has been sentenced to 60 days of house arrest, with electronic monitoring, and three years’ probation. His license has also been suspended for a year. Pocci had stopped to let the ZombieWalk procession go by, but then drove through onlookers, hitting several people and injuring one. He was convicted last month of felony reckless driving resulting in great bodily injury. At the sentencing hearing Pocci, who is deaf, apologized to the victim in sign language. [San Diego Union-Tribune]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Edge City’ comic strip to end after 15 years

edge-city-r6

Comics strips | Terry LaBan and Patty LaBan are bringing their syndicated comic strip Edge City to an end after 15 years. In his farewell message, Terry LaBan cites not only exhaustion but also a sense that the funny pages aren’t what they used to be: “It’s rare to meet anyone who reads a newspaper anymore, at least anyone under the age of 50. Comic strips, which once occupied a place at the center of pop culture, have fallen completely off most people’s radar. As much as we love it, it’s depressing to work in a form that seems to have lost its relevance and is, for the most part, ignored.” [The Daily Cartoonist]

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Comics A.M. | Amarillo, Texas, comic store robbed at gunpoint

Big Apple Comics

Big Apple Comics

Crime | Police in Amarillo, Texas, are searching for a man who robbed the Big Apple Comics at gunpoint on Tuesday. An employee was locking up the store at about 7:10 p.m. when a man approached him and told him to unlock the doors. The employee resisted, and the robber reportedly drew a semi-automatic pistol and demanded money. The employee handed over an undisclosed amount of cash. [Amarillo Globe-News]

Passings | Zack Davisson, who translated Shigeru Mizuki’s works into English for Drawn and Quarterly, pens the definitive obituary of the late manga master, writing not only about his impact on Japanese culture but also his criticism of Japan’s actions in World War II and its treatment of disabled veterans, which led writer Jake Adelstein to call him “the Voice of Japan’s Conscience.” [The Comics Journal]

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Comics A.M. | New Kickstarter study reveals failure rates

Kickstarter

Kickstarter

Crowdfunding | A new report released by Kickstarter shows that about 9 percent of the projects on the crowdfunding platform failed to deliver the promised rewards. While that is fairly consistent across all categories, comics do appear to do a bit better than most. Another interesting tidbit: Projects that raise less than $1,000 are the most likely to fail. [Kickstarter]

Creators | Writer Kyle Higgins talks about his new Power Rangers comic, Green Ranger: Year One, which focuses on the Ranger who was originally a villain before reforming and joining the team: “Basically, in going the modernization route I decided that I didn’t really want to jump in and tell new origins of the Power Rangers or anything like that. So looking at the introduction of the Green Ranger to the team, of him joining the team, was the window that I took for the story in order to get us into the world.” [Hero Complex]

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Comics A.M. | Burglars strike Houston store at lightning speed

The smashed door at the Pop Culture Company in Houston

The smashed door at the Pop Culture Company in Houston

Crime | The thieves who broke into the Pop Culture Company store in Houston, Texas, early Tuesday knew what they were doing: Surveillance video shows just three minutes elapsed between when they hurled a sledgehammer through the store’s glass door and when they left with the cash register, the safe, a laptop and a tablet. Although the three burglars ignored the comics and toys, damage to the store is estimated between $7,000 and $8,000. The speed of the robbery has police and store owner Robert Quijano thinking these are seasoned pros. “This is obviously what they do,” Quijano said. “I get up in the morning, I come to work, I sell comic books. They get up in the evening and they go out and they steal things from people.” [Click2Houston]

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Comics A.M. | Iconic Neal Adams cover art sells for $442,150

green-lantern-green-arrow-s

Auctions | Rob Salkowitz looks at the recent sale at auction of Neal Adams’ original cover art for Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76 for an impressive, although not record-setting, $442,150. He notes that the significance of the issue, and the endorsement of the sale by Adams, likely had an effect on the price. In 1970, most publishers didn’t routinely return original art to artist, and Adams has been critical of the sale of artwork that was simply taken, and sometimes given away, by staffers or editors. In this case, however, he announced through the auction house that “since the proprietor of the cover has agreed to equitably share the income of the auction with me and my family, I hereby validate sale and ownership of this piece and I will, in fact, supply a Certificate of Authenticity to the highest bidder of the auction, and the ownership of this cover will never be questioned by me.” A portion of the proceeds was also donated to The Hero Initiative. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | Bidding farewell to the long-running ‘Apartment 3-G’

apartment3g

Comic strips | The soap opera comic strip Apartment 3-G ended its 54-year run Sunday with little fanfare, leaving it up to a handful of bloggers, including Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter and Josh Fruhlinger of The Comics Curmudgeon, to give the longtime funny-page staple a proper sendoff. “It definitely has an unaffected, what-we-call-Lynchian quality where what you’re seeing and what you’re ‘hearing’ as dialogue don’t match,” Spurgeon writes. “The limited sets and slightly faded color choices make it a bit nightmarish, almost like the world is collapsing comic book ‘crisis’ style around these increasingly feckless characters. It’s hard to believe there are more than a dozen “places” in the world these characters exist. [The A.V. Club]

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