Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources
Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out.
This week we focus in on some great new comics, including Veil and Afterlife with Archie, as well as the benefit auctions for Stan Sakai and his wife. Plus free comics! What’s better than that? So without further ado, let’s get to it …
Legal | As the dust begins to settle on the ruling last month by a federal judge that Arthur Conan Doyle’s first 50 Sherlock Holmes stories have lapsed into the public domain in the United States, out march the analyses pointing out the buts. Chief among them, of course, is the possibility of appeal by the Conan Doyle estate, which contends the characters were effectively incomplete until the author’s final story was published in the United States (the 10 stories published after Jan. 1, 1923, remain under copyright in this country until 2022).
However, Publishers Weekly notes that because U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo didn’t rule directly on that “novel” argument, the estate may be satisfied with the ambiguity of the decision, given that uncertain creators still may seek to license the characters to steer clear of any trouble. Estate lawyer Benjamin Allison also insists that the Sherlock Holmes trademarks remain unaffected, an assertion that puzzles author and scholar Leslie Klinger, who brought the lawsuit. “There is a very good reason why the Estate did not assert trademark protection: The Estate does not own any trademarks,” he told PW. “They have applied for them, and there will be substantial opposition.” There’s more at NPR, The Independent and The Atlantic. [Publishers Weekly]
Few have a better perspective on the making of the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark than playwright Glen Berger. He spent six years co-writing the script and has now penned a tell-all memoir about the tumultuous experience, Song of Spider-Man: The Inside Story of the Most Controversial Musical in Broadway History.
As noted on the book’s back cover, one scene — in which “Green Goblin pushes a Steinway off a skyscraper only to be sent to his own death because he didn’t realize he was attached to the piano by Spider-Man’s webbing” — earned him the job, but it also would ultimately lead to the dismissal of director and co-writer Julie Taymor.
We cover a great deal of ground in this interview, including a brief discussion of (as he mentions in the book) his reaction to sharing a co-writer credit for the play with Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who worked on the project for just two months. It was interesting to get Berger’s perspective, particularly when comparing what it’s like to develop for theater as opposed to television. I’m also curious to see what musical he’s developing for Warner Bros.
Retailing | The rental chain Tsutaya and the bookstore chain Yurindo have returned Kuroko’s Basketball books and DVDs to their shelves after “X-Day,” Nov. 4, passed without incident. Someone has sent hundreds of threatening letters to convention sites, bookstores, the media and Sophia University (the alma mater of Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki), over the past year, and the most recent batch of letters said that “X-Day will be on the final day of the [Sophia University] school festival.” Meanwhile, police are checking security cameras near all the mailboxes in the districts from which the letters were mailed, looking for suspicious people. [Anime News Network]
Comics | Brian Steinberg looks at Archie Comics’ most radical move yet: the relatively adult Afterlife with Archie, which literally turned America’s most iconic teenagers into zombies. Steinberg talks to Archie CEO Jon Goldwater, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, artist Francesco Francavilla and others about the significance of this comic, which sold almost 65,000 copies to the direct market. [Variety]
Afterlife with Archie started out for me with a couple of potential negatives: I’m not a fan of horror comics, and I firmly believe the zombie subgenre has played itself out. But if there’s one factor that could make me enjoy a zombie comic, it’s the art of Francesco Francavilla.
The ongoing series, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, marks a significant departure for Archie Comics, in large part because it’s the publisher’s first direct market-only release. One has to wonder how much this will benefit the publisher, whose audience is found primarily outside of specialty stores, and whether its potential success will lead to more direct market-only titles.
But enough about the business aspects of Life with Archie; let’s focus on what makes its debut issue such a must-read. As much as the Archie line has redefined itself in recent years (the marriage storyline/titles, the introduction of gay character Kevin Keller, etc.), the use of an artist like Francavilla represents another leap. I count him among my favorite current artists for much the same reason I rave about Gabriel Hardman; When reading a story by either creator, the experience is like having a film playing in my head.
“I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, although I certainly know what that is. And what I love about that concept is as much as it’s a zombie story, it’s also Pride and Prejudice. It’s the exact same thing with Afterlife: As much as this is a hardcore horror zombie book, it’s still an Archie book. Who is Archie going to take to the Halloween dance? Betty or Veronica? Why does the zombie apocalypse start? Because Sabrina the Teenaged Witch messed up a spell, which she is constantly doing in the comic book. Who but Reggie would be the guy who runs over Hot Dog? If anybody has a dark secret like ‘I killed Hot Dog!’ it’s going to be Reggie Mantle.”
– writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, talking with Vulture about Afterlife With Archie, which debuts today. Deadline also has the exclusive New York Comic Con trailer for the series, which is illustrated by Francesco Francavilla
Creators | Jeff Smith, who was named last week to the board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, talks briefly about the importance of the organization, and the 2010 challenge to his all-ages graphic novel Bone in a Minnesota school. [Comic Riffs]
Comics | Archie Co-CEO Jon Goldwater, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Francesco Francavilla have a few things to say about the new zombie series Afterlife With Archie. “We are taking a series of characters known to be lighthearted and young adult-oriented and doing a horror comic with them, so the mood, atmosphere, and setting are very important to make this a believable horror and not a comedy horror,” says Francavilla, who’s also the creator of The Black Beetle. “Fortunately, I am really good at making things dark and ominous.” [The Associated Press]
The new zombie Archie serie, Afterlife With Archie will debut Oct. 9, the day before NYCC kicks off, and the Archie folks are inviting everyone to celebrate by dressing up as a zombified version of their favorite character. Cosplay as zombie Jughead, Sabrina, even Katy Keene, and stop by the Archie Comics booth (#1936) during the convention for a copy of the comic with a special, cosplayer-exclusive cover by Robert Hack. You can also enter for a chance to win one of three grand prizes: a year’s worth of Archie comics.
Announced earlier this year, Afterlife With Archie will be penned by former Glee writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Francavilla.
The Hollywood Reporter has debuted the trailer for Afterlife With Archie, the upcoming Archie Comics series by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla. It will be screened Saturday at Comic-Con International during the “Archie Comics: The Hottest Publisher in the Industry” panel.
Launching Oct. 9, the comic begins with Jughead’s dog Hot Dog being run over by a car, leading him to convince Sabrina the Teenage Witch to resurrect the pooch. What comes back from the dead bites Jughead, infecting him with a virus — and on the night of the Riverdale Halloween dance, the zombie apocalypse begins.
“Tonally, I think we’re going for horror laced with an undercurrent of black comedy,” Aguirre-Sacasa told Comic Book Resources when the project was announced. “Like the first and second Evil Dead movies, or the original American Werewolf in London. The comedy will hopefully heighten the horror, and vice-versa.”
Legal | The Malaysian cartoonist Zunar has appealed a court decision upholding his 2010 arrest and detention, claiming police acted in bad faith when they arrested him under the Sedition Act because of his book Cartoon-O-Phobia, which had not yet been released at the time of his arrest. No charges were ever filed, as the police could not identify any actual seditious content in the books. A court ruled in July 2012 that Zunar’s arrest was lawful but ordered the police to return the books they had confiscated and pay him damages. An appellate court will hear the case next week. [The Comics Reporter]
Publishing | Heidi MacDonald takes a look at Marvel’s new graphic novel line, which will launch in October with Warren Ellis and Mike McKone’s Avengers: Endless Wartime. [Publishers Weekly]
Crime | Comix Experience in San Francisco was robbed at gunpoint Friday afternoon, with two young men demanding that owner Brian Hibbs empty the cash register containing about $75 and turn over an iPhone used for credit card transactions. A Lower Haight neighborhood blog interviewed Hibbs about the incident: “Divis [Divisadero Street] is generally pretty safe these days, so I was a LITTLE shocked at, y’know, a ‘brazen daylight armed robbery’ of it — but I am kind of more shocked that anyone thought that a comic book store was a high value target about an hour after they opened. Hell, life is like 85% credit cards these days, so even at our fattest there’s seldom enough to risk that kind of jail time, in my opinion …” [Haighteration]
History | Scholar Carol Tilley gives a first-person account of her research on Fredric Wertham, the super-villain of comics history, and how looking through his papers led her to an unexpected conclusion: His published works misrepresented what his research subjects had told him: “For many hard-to-articulate reasons, I didn’t want to write the scholarly paper on Wertham and the problems I found in his evidence, but not to write it seemed a disservice to the young people whose words and experiences Wertham distorted to help make his case against comics.” [Boing Boing]
BuzzFeed has debuted Dan Parent’s cover for Archie #641, the first issue of a storyline in which the Riverdale gang meets the cast of Fox’s hit musical comedy-drama Glee. The image is kind of odd, in that it looks as if someone may have gone in after the artist to touch up the faces of Glee characters Rachel, Finn and Quinn. See the full cover below.
Announced in July, the crossover is penned by comics writer and Glee co-producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Parent, and arrives on the heels of publisher’s much-publicized “Archie meets KISS” storyline.
“If you go back to the beginnings of modern music, if you will, with Elvis and moving forward with the Beatles and [Bob] Dylan – they established culturally the tone of what’s going on in the country,” Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater told Comic Book Resources. “That’s what I’ve been trying to establish in Riverdale. The characters stay the same, but Riverdale changes. And as musicians change in the culture, they can seamlessly integrate into comic books.”
Archie #641 arrives Feb. 27.
More than three months after Marvel said it was merely delaying the debuts of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Route 666, Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort revealed this morning that the planned revivals of the CrossGen titles “have been shelved for the time being.”
Announced in August at FanExpo Canada, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Route 666 were set to join recent revivals of Ruse, Sigil and Mystic in December and February, respectively, under Marvel’s fledgling CrossGen imprint. Buoyed by nostalgia for the defunct publisher, Ruse and Sigil had solid enough debuts, selling an estimated 28,500 copies each in February 2011. But by their conclusions in June, sales of Ruse had plummeted to about 10,500 copies, and Sigil to 8,900. Mystic‘s August premiere was considerably weaker, moving around 18,800 copies. By October’s Issue 3, that figure had tumbled to about 6,000, suggesting nostalgia only goes so far.
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated Peter Nguyen, Route 666 was to re-imagine the CrossGen horror series, transplanting protagonist Cassie Starkweather to the 1950s, where she was a deputy to U.S. Marshal Evan Cisco. Likewise, writer Peter Milligan and artist Roman Rosanas put a new spin on the Mike Perkins-Tony Bedard espionage comic Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, with a young agent ordered by MI6 to assume the role of super-spy Charles Kiss.
Digital comics | ICv2 estimates the total value of the digital comics market in 2011 as $25 million, triple the 2010 figure, and boldly predicts that digital will account for 10 percent of the entire comics market in 2012. Digital sales grew faster in the second half of the year, which ICv2 attributes to three factors: DC’s decision to release its New 52 comics digitally the same day as print, the industry-wide trend toward same-day print and digital releases, and the proliferation of different platforms on which to read digital comics. As for digital taking away from print, the publishing executives ICv2 has spoken to over the past few months don’t seem to think that is happening. [ICv2]
Retailing | Retailer and journalist Matt Price takes the temperature at the ComicsPRO Annual Members Meeting, which kicks off today in Dallas, noting that members remain interested in DC’s publishing plans, and report “very strong sales” for Image’s Fatale and Thief of Thieves. [Nerdage]
The producers of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark struck back Tuesday against a lawsuit by Julie Taymor, claiming the former director violated her own contract before she was fired in March, and shouldn’t receive any royalties from the $75 million Broadway musical.
Taymor, who also co-wrote the long-troubled show, sued producers in November, arguing that the overhauled musical violates her copyrights. She also said she deserves full credit and pay, despite her public ouster. Taymor seeks at least $1 million, as well as future royalties.
But according to The New York Times, the producers’ countersuit insists Taymor “could not and would not do the jobs that she was contracted to do,” forcing others to undertake those responsibilities, resulting in a new show over which she has no claim.
In the court filing they say Taymor refused to create an original, family-friendly musical based on Marvel’s Spider-Man and instead “insisted on developing a dark, disjointed and hallucinogenic musical involving suicide, sex and death.”
Following Taymor’s firing, Spider-Man shut down for three weeks to undergo an overhaul at the hands of new director Philip William McKinley and writers Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Glen Berger. When the musical returned in mid-May for previews, it was described as “virtually unrecognizable” from the show savaged by critics in February.
“As a result of all of the changes that Taymor could not and would not make, the Spider-Man musical is now a hit,” the producers say in their suit. “The show is a success despite Taymor, not because of her.”
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, which costs $1.2 million a week to produce, grossed about $1.4 million last week, behind Wicked and The Lion King. It has brought in about $81 million since performances began in November 2010.