Free Comic Book Day | In anticipation of Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, the San Francisco Chronicle interviews Joe Field of Flying Colors Comics, who came up with the idea in the first place, inspired by “free scoop” days at ice cream shops. [San Francisco Chronicle]
Free Comic Book Day | John Jackson Miller traces the 10-year history of Free Comic Book Day. [The Comics Chronicles]
Conventions | ReedPop Group Vice President Lance Fensterman takes stock of this year’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo and sees plenty of growth, both in attendees (42,000 this year) and exhibitors. It looks like the show will continue: “We feel like we got the answer we needed. We made maybe a little bit of money, which is fine. Year 3 is when we expect to start to see some positive cash flow, but even more so we felt that the community embraced the event and the turnout and the ticket sales reflect that—and that is just what we needed to see.” [ICv2]
Valiant will release its comics digitally the same day as print, beginning today with X-O Manowar #1, written by Robert Venditti and illustrated by Cary Nord. (Here’s a preview.) The other relaunch titles are Harbinger #1, due out on June 6; Bloodshot #1, on July 11; and Archer & Armstrong #1, on Aug. 8.
ComiXology will also carry digital editions of three classic storylines:
- X-O Manowar (1992) #0-6, by Jim Shooter, Bob Layton, Barry Windsor-Smith, and Joe Quesada
- Harbinger (1992) #0-6, by Jim Shooter and David Lapham
- Bloodshot (1993) #0-4, by Kevin VanHook and Don Perlin
The Valiant relaunch has been one of the most-hyped comics events of the season, and with good reason. Founded by former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter, Valiant was the No. 3 comics publisher in the United States in the 1990s. Its line featured a strong set of characters in an interconnected universe, all fleshed out by a creative team headed by Shooter and former Marvel hands Barry Windsor-Smith and Bob Layton. Valiant Entertainment, which purchased the rights to the Valiant comics in 2007, is relaunching four of the original titles with updated characters and story lines, and plans are in the works for at least two more.
Venditti and the Valiant staff outlined their plans for the four relaunch titles at the Valiant panel at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, and at that time, Publisher Fred Pierce said the 1990s comics would be available in digital format and eventually in print as well. More digital editions of the older titles, including Archer & Armstrong, Rai, Ninjak, Shadowman, Eternal Warrior and Quantum & Woody, are in the works.
Legal | The Arizona legislature passed a sweeping bill last week that would make it a crime to communicate via electronic means speech that is intended to “annoy,” “offend,” “harass” or “terrify.” While the law was intended to update the state’s telephone harassment laws to encompass the Internet, it’s not limited to one-to-one communications and thus, as the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund notes, could criminalize “all manner of writing, cartoons, and other protected material the state finds offensive or annoying.” Media Coalition, a trade association that includes the CBLDF among its members, has sent a letter to Gov. Jan Brewer urging her to veto the bill. [Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Media Coalition]
Passings | Rex Babin, editorial cartoonist for the Sacramento Bee and a Pulitzer Prize finalist, has died of cancer. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Nate Powell seems to be on some sort of a streak; his artwork for the civil rights story The Silence of Our Friends is winning deserved accolades, he is currently drawing and coloring an issue of Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth, and he has just announced a new project that will bring his work to an entirely new audience: He will be drawing the graphic novel adaptation of Rick Riordan’s The Lost Hero. For those who don’t have a tween-ager in the house, Riordan’s Percy Jackson & The New Olympians is the Twilight of the middle-grade set (in terms of popularity, not sparkliness), a series of novels that update the Greek gods in witty ways. The Lost Hero is the first volume in Riordan’s spinoff series The Heroes of Olympus. Robert Venditti will be scripting the graphic novel, which makes me think it will have some adult appeal as well, but we’ll have to wait until fall 2014 to find out.
Meanwhile, drop by Powell’s blog to see all the stages of one of his Sweet Tooth pages, from thumbnails to colors.
Comics | Heavy rains and a leaky roof led to the loss of between $20,000 and $25,000 worth of comics and books that Pittsburgh’s ToonSeum was storing temporarily in a warehouse. “I guess the best way to put it, the warehouse was where we kept things that did not individually have high value, but put together [were] worth a large amount,” said Executive director Joe Wos, who believes that most of the material can be replaced eventually. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
Publishing | The digital comics distributor comiXology has hired Marc Goldberg as its chief technology officer. Goldberg formerly served as CTO for the Viacom-owned “multiplatform premium entertainment channel” EPIX. [comiXology Blog]
Publishing | Three million-dollar Kickstarter drives, including Rich Burlew’s $1.2 million campaign for The Order of the Stick, make the fund-raising site look like a pot of gold to some folks, but it’s not that easy: Suw Charman-Anderson, who;s contemplating a Kickstarter drive herself, looks at the factors that make the big money-makers so successful. [Forbes]
Editorial cartoons | The New York Times has responded to Daryl Cagle’s criticism of its hiring policy and fees for editorial cartoonists, saying the newspaper will delay bringing political cartoons back to its Sunday review section until editors have had time to revisit their policies. [The Cagle Post]
Editorial cartoons | For those who want a look at the bigger picture, Columbia Journalism Review surveys the landscape of editorial cartooning and in particular, the economics of syndication. [Columbia Journalism Review]
As an Atlanta native, in terms of pro sports teams, I root for the Braves and Falcons every season. In a similar vein, when something from Top Shelf (partially based out of the Atlanta metro area) is published, much less by a talented Atlanta-based writer like Robert Venditti, I aim to support that project, but only if that support is warranted. I am happy to say that Venditti and artist Mike Huddleston’s The Homeland Directive has more than earned my full and enthusiastic support. Don’t trust my gut? Consider what The Middle Ground columnist Graeme McMillan’s wrote about the 152-page graphic novel: “It’s unlikely you’ll find a book that looks as good as The Homeland Directive this year.” The book, released last month, is best framed by the publisher: “As a leading researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Laura Regan is one of the world’s foremost authorities on viral and bacteriological study. Having dedicated her career to halting the spread of infectious disease, she has always considered herself one of the good guys. But when her research partner is murdered and Laura is blamed for the crime, she finds herself at the heart of a vast and deadly conspiracy. Aided by three rogue federal agents who believe the government is behind the frame-up, Laura must evade law enforcement, mercenaries, and a team of cyber-detectives who know more about her life than she does—all while trying to expose a sinister plot that will impact the lives of every American.” My thanks to Venditti for his time and be sure to visit the Top Shelf website for a six-page preview of the book.
Tim O’Shea: Was there any one factor (influencing your decision more than others) as to why you tapped artist Huddleston for the project?
Robert Venditti: I wrote the book having no idea who the artist was going to be or, for that matter, if it was even going to get published. When I turned in the script to Chris and Brett at Top Shelf, Mike Huddleston was one of the first names they mentioned. I’d never met Mike before, but I was a fan of his work on The Coffin, so I was immediately onboard with the idea. He’s an amazing talent, and he proved himself to be a consummate professional as well. It was an absolute joy to work with him.
Comic strips | After outsourcing all editorial, production, sales, marketing and distribution functions for its 150 comics and other features to Universal Uclick earlier this year, United Media closed the doors on its Madison Avenue office in New York on Friday. [Comic Riffs]
Comic Books | A copy of Detective Comics #27 owned by multimillionaire hotel heir Ben Novack Jr., who was murdered in 2009, could go up for auction and end up paying to defend his widow Narcy Novack. Narcy is facing charges that she had the comic fan and his mother murdered, plundered his bank accounts, then tried to pin the crimes on her own daughter. Narcy’s daughter, May Abad, has persuaded a Broward County judge to hold off on the auction and give her at least 14 days to find suitable storage and insurance for Novack’s massive collection. [Miami Herald]
For those who thought that Butcher Baker: The Righteous Maker was the best-looking superhero comic of the year – and if you didn’t at least consider the possibility, it’s probably because you haven’t picked up a copy yet – I should let you know: Mike Huddleston’s work in the new Top Shelf graphic novel The Homeland Directive is possibly even better.
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