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Comics A.M. | Retailers high on Image, ‘Saga’ & creator-owned

Saga, Vol. 2

Saga, Vol. 2

Retailing | Publishers Weekly’s annual comics retailer survey yields some interesting commentary, although the sample size is small (just 10 stores): Sales are up, retailers are optimistic, and Saga is the hot book right now. Also, booksellers who underestimated the demand for Chris Ware’s Building Stories lost out to direct-market retailers who didn’t, making for some nice extra sales during the holiday season. And while readers seem to be getting tired of the Big Two and their event comics, they are more enthusiastic than ever before about creator-owned comics, and Image is doing quite well. [Publishers Weekly]

Awards | Ladies Making Comics presents the complete list of women Eisner nominees for this year, noting that women have been nominated in almost every category. [Ladies Making Comics]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Superman Unchained’ #1 locks in $1.25M at retail

Superman Unchained #1

Superman Unchained #1

Comics sales | ICv2 reckons that at $4.99 a copy and more than 250,000 copies sold, Scott Snyder and Jim Lee’s Superman Unchained #1 brought in $1.25 million at retail. John Mayo has additional sales analysis at Comic Book Resources. [ICv2]

Creators | Stan Lee shows off his office, which is pretty darn nice. [CNN iReport]

Creators | Writer Steven T. Seagle talks about the genesis of his new graphic novel, Genius, which started with his wife’s revelation that her father was in on one of the secrets of the century. [Hero Complex]

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‘Maybe the best thing that’s ever happened to mainstream comics’

private eye3-2

“I think the digital distribution revolution is maybe the best thing that’s ever happened to mainstream comics. I really miss the days when you could find a comics spinner rack in every drug store, but now anyone who owns a mobile device can have their own personal spinner rack, and it’s always stocked with every issue imaginable. I don’t know if creators at other companies are privy to exactly how many digital copies their books are selling these days, but the statements Fiona and I get from Image are pretty staggering. I realize that’s not true for every book, but the day when many titles start selling more digital copies than print copies is not years away, it’s months away.”

Brian K. Vaughan, discussing digital comics in a new interview with Comic Book Resources about Saga and The Private Eye

More on the saga of ‘Saga’s’ impressive sales performance

Saga, Vol. 2

Saga, Vol. 2

The arrival today of the second collection of Saga, the hit space opera by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, will be met with glee not only by readers following the Image Comics series in trade paperback but also by a good number of retailers — and Brian Hibbs in particular.

The owner of Comix Experience in San Francisco (and Comic Book Resources columnist) commented last week on our post about the first volume’s strong performance in the direct market eight months after its debut, saying, that “Saga is, by far, our best-selling title.” Hibbs expanded upon that last night on his own blog, revealing that Saga, Vol. 1, “is now my second-best selling title in the store’s history of point-of-sale. Nearly seven years.”

“It just passed into that spot a few days ago, where it passed the previous #2, The Walking Dead v1,” he continued. “Understand, that is for sales of TWD v1 OVER THE LAST SEVEN YEARS. Uh, yeah. What’s the most remarkable about Saga is that it steadily sells even at this point. When it crossed into #2 position, it was something like 243 copies sold in 248 days — even at this point, months and months after it first came out, we’re still selling 5+ copies a week.”

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Cheat Sheet | From ‘Crater XV’ to ‘Saga’ to ‘Wild Blue Yonder’

june17-cater xv

Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. Now that everyone is coming down from the high (or the low, depending upon your opinion) of Man of Steel‘s $125.1 million opening weekend, it’s time to settle back in for some actual comic books. And this week, there are plenty to recommend, from new-series debuts like Brother Lono and The X-Files Season 10 to original graphic novels like Paul Joins the Scouts and Primates.

But that’s not all, as this weekend also brings the fifth annual Kids Read Comics convention …

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Ming Doyle’s convention sketches show an artist ready for super-stardom

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I first came across Ming Doyle’s work when she illustrated a new Michael Moorcock Elric short story in Weird Tales #349, the series’ 85th birthday issue. I’m something of a Moorcock nut, and prone to strong opinions about his artistic collaborators, but Doyle’s work more than passed muster: Here was an artist whose progress I was going to have to keep a close eye on.

Since then, Doyle’s career trajectory has been consistently upward, from the Star Trek-loving webcomic Boldly Gone with Kevin Church, to her current work on the Image comic Mara with Brian Wood. Every time some editor at DC Comics or Marvel claims he isn’t employing female creators because there just aren’t any out there fit for purpose, she’s always one of the first names that pops into my head as I mentally compose a list as long as your arm of women one big gig away from comics super-stardom.

Anyway, it’s convention season, that happy time when my favorite artists post lots of lovely sketches on their blogs, Instagram timelines, Facebook and the like — y’know, that newfangled social media the kids are all talking about. The collective Doyle belongs to, Out of Step Arts, has posted several sketches done at last weeks HeroesCon, some of which can also be seen at her own site, along with more May’s Phoenix Comicon. There’s a selection of my favorites after the break, including probably the most smouldering-est rendering of Bones McCoy ever.

(Note: The headline has been changed to better reflect the intention of this post, which is to celebrate Ming Doyle’s artwork. We apologize if our meaning wasn’t clear.)

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‘Saga’ could be direct market’s big winner in May (and beyond)

saga-v1While some delight has already been taken in the debut of X-Men atop Diamond Comic Distributors’ May sales chart — the title’s all-female cast remains a magnet for rancor from some shadowy corners — the bigger story may be the long-term performance of the first Saga trade paperback.

ICv2 notes that the first volume of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ space opera sold an estimated 7,552 copies in May, securing the No. 2 spot on the graphic novel chart, behind BOOM! Studios’ Adventure Time: Playing With Fire. That in itself is pretty impressive, but that Saga collection was released eight months ago.

The Image Comics book has charted in the Top 10 in all but one of those months (it slipped to No. 13 in November); however, May’s 7,552 copies represents a 65-percent increase from April, and the most in any month since January, when it sold 8,456 copies. In total, Saga, Vol. 1, has sold an estimated 53,000 copies in North American comic shops.

And that’s only in the direct market: As ICv2 points out, Saga is creeping back up the BookScan chart for graphic novels sold in bookstores.

Saga‘s status as a hit and a long-term seller comes as no surprise, but that direct-market surge (65 percent!) and book-market uptick this far from the book’s debut are certainly eye-openers. Is the boost a result of good word of mouth, the impending release of the second collection, or the widespread attention given to the merry mix-up in April, when it was erroneously announced that Issue 12 had been banned from the Apple App Store?

I’d place money on the latter (although word of mouth undoubtedly plays a significant role in the book’s overall performance). Of course, we should never discount the contributions of Lying Cat


Comics A.M. | Weak April for graphic novels in bookstores

The Walking Dead Compendium, Vol. 2

The Walking Dead Compendium, Vol. 2

Graphic novels | April was a slow month for new graphic novel releases, so the BookScan Top 20 had plenty of room for some backlist titles. The Walking Dead dominated, of course, but the 10th volume of Sailor Moon was there for a second month and actually moved up a notch. And the first volume of Saga came in at No. 12, perhaps because people were curious as to what all the fuss is about. [ICv2]

Editorial cartoons | Nick Anderson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for the Houston Chronicle, has responded to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s criticism of Jack Ohman’s cartoon with a cartoon of his own. [Comic Riffs]

Conventions | Jeff Smith, Brian Wood, Sean Murphy and Raina Telgemeier are the headline guests at the Maine Comics Arts Festival in Portland on May 19. [Foster's Daily Democrat]

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‘Saga’s’ Lying Cat makes her TV debut on ‘Supernatural’

Pac-Man Fever

I was only sort of watching Supernatural last night, which explains how I missed that geek-favorite actress Felicia Day wore a T-shirt featuring one of the best new character in recent comics history: Lying Cat from Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Image Comics series Saga. Luckily a tipster at The Mary Sue was far more observant.

According to Day, the shirt was the idea of writer Robbie Thompson, and a particularly inspired one at that, considering her character Charlie Bradbury starts off her reunion with the Winchester brothers with a lie. (In case you’re unfamiliar with Saga, Lying Cat is the enormous feline companion of the bounty hunter The Will who can detect whether anyone around her is being untruthful.)

Now the question is, where can fans get their hands on one of those shirts? Maybe at that weekday comic-book convention in Topeka, Kansas, that Charlie mentioned. Wait, no, that was a lie.

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Comics A.M. | ‘Building Stories’ wins Lynd Ward Prize

Building Stories

Building Stories

Awards | The 2013 Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel of the Year, presented by Penn State University Libraries and the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, has been awarded to Chris Ware’s Building Stories. The jury’s comment: “Ware’s astute and precise renderings, composed with a tender yet unblinking clinical eye and fleshed out with pristine and evocative coloring, trace the mundane routines and moments of small crisis that his characters inhabit. In so doing, he produces not a document but a monument, a work whose narrative logic is architectural rather than chronological: a set of lives to be encountered, traversed, and returned to as the rooms and floors of a building might be over the years, still sequentially but not in a limited or decided-upon sequence. Stories, here, are meant not to be told but to be built, explored, inhabited—not merely visited but lived in.” [Pennsylvania Center for the Book]

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On the epic saga of ‘Saga’ #12

seal kid

This week’s new comic book releases included such noteworthy publications as  the final issue of Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly’s drama based on UFO folklore, Saucer Country, the latest installment of Marvel’s line-wide crossover-event series Age of Ultron, the one-issue return of some of Marvel’s fan-favorite Runaways characters in the tie-in Ultron #1, the latest issue of the best superhero comic book on the stands, Hawkeye,  and the final issue of the Mark Millar-written comic-as-movie pitch series Secret Service, maybe better known as “What Dave Gibbons has Been Up to While DC Published Before Watchmen.” And those were just the serially published comic book-comics.

The comic I heard the most about this week by far, however, was Saga #12, the latest chapter in Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ deservedly popular space fantas. And the reasons this particular issue was so talked about? Early in the week it seemed as Apple had rejected it for distribution for a couple of images of gay sex (although Wednesday afternoon, comiXology CEO David Steinberger said the move was actually due to his company’s mistaken interpretation of Apple policy).

I’m a somewhat-casual consumer of comics news these days, and yet I encountered iterations of this story over and over this week. And in the time between the story’s initial reporting and Steinberger’s clarification, I’ve seen stories on numerous comics news sites and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s blog. A Google News search for “Saga #12″ and “Apple” brings up 9,370 results, the top two being for The Washington Post and NPR, so obviously the mainstream media bit on the story as well.

Having actually read the comic book, though, the content that earned the mistaken, temporary pre-banning was so small and inconsequential, I probably would have missed it. (Note: Some images below may be not safe for work.)

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Comics A.M. | Ed Fisher dies; Palestinian cartoonist sentenced

Ed Fisher

Ed Fisher

Passings | The New Yorker cartoonist Ed Fisher has died at the age of 86. Mike Lynch has a nice appreciation, with a sampling of cartoons and links to other obituaries. Fisher was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2000, Lynch says, but even so, he often came to the New Yorker offices on “look day”: “He would be sitting on the couch, in the cartoonists’ waiting room, with his portfolio, ready to chat. I introduced myself and was really glad to meet him. More than once he pulled out his roughs and showed them to me. Ed treated me like an equal.” [Mike Lynch Cartoons]

Legal | Palestinian cartoonist Muhammad Saba’aneh, who was detained by Israeli authorities in early March, has been sentenced to five months in jail and must pay a fine of 10,000 shekels. Saba’aneh was charged with contacting “enemy entities,” according to his lawyer. He was originally arrested and held without specific charges, raising fears that he would be detained indefinitely. [FARS News Agency]

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Quote of the Day | Vaughan on ‘Saga’s’ Apple problem

saga12

“Fiona and I could always edit the images in question, but everything we put into the book is there to advance our story, not (just) to shock or titillate, so we’re not changing shit.”

– writer Brian K. Vaughan, responding to Apple’s rejection of this week’s Saga #12 because of two panels depicting pretty explicit, if relatively small, images of gay sex (they’re on Prince Robot IV’s head-monitor). There’s already debate online whether gay sex is Apple’s issue, or whether it’s explicit sex in general, but it’s worth noting that the company apparently had no problems with the comic’s previous obvious depictions of cunnilingus, and penetration (of the heterosexual variety, complete with erect penis), not to mention the assorted sex shots that left a little something to the imagination.

We’ll not talk about that giant’s pendulous scrotum, which has to be the most “explicit” thing to appear in Saga. Certainly the most disturbing.

Updated: ComiXology issued a statement saying that it, not Apple, rejected Saga #12.

‘Saucer Country,’ ‘Saga’ and more nominated for Hugo Awards

Saucer Country

Saucer Country

Nominees for the 2013 Hugo Awards have been released, with five comics competing in the “Best Graphic Story” category. In addition, Chicks Dig Comics: A Celebration of Comic Books by the Women Who Love Them was nominated in the “Best Related Work” category, while The Avengers film was nominated in the “Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form” category.

Nominees for the “Best Graphic Story” category include:

Grandville Bête Noire, written and illustrated by Bryan Talbot (Dark Horse Comics, Jonathan Cape)
Locke & Key Volume 5: Clockworks, written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
Saga, Volume One, written by Brian K. Vaughn, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
Schlock Mercenary: Random Access Memorabilia, written and illustrated by Howard Tayler, colors by Travis Walton (Hypernode Media)
Saucer Country, Volume 1: Run, written by Paul Cornell, illustrated by Ryan Kelly, Jimmy Broxton and Goran Sudžuka (Vertigo)

The awards will be presented at LoneStarCon 3, in San Antonio, Texas, Aug. 29-Sept. 2, where Cornell will serve as the toastmaster. You can find the complete list of nominees on the Hugo Awards site.

What Are You Reading? with Dave Dwonch

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Happy Sunday and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at all the comics and other stuff we’ve been reading lately. Today our special guest is Dave Dwonch, creative director at Action Lab Entertainment and the writer of such comics as Space-Time Condominium, the upcoming Ghost Town, Double-Jumpers and more.

To see what Dave and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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