X-POSITION: Phoenix, Upstarts & More Tear Up Bowers & Sims' "X-Men '92"
I was going to open with some snotty Wow, the holidays went by super-quickly! comment, but then I read the first issue of Justice League in seven weeks. Sometimes DC gets ahead of itself; sometimes it’s a little behind. Happens to the best of us — sometimes you do two solicitation roundups in three weeks….
Anyway, with the January solicitations, the New-52 books each turn five issues old. Series wrapping up their first arcs this month include Blackhawks, Batwoman, Animal Man, and the Deadman feature in DC Universe Presents. (Not to worry about the latter, because there is a lot of Deadman in these solicits.) I’m not sure why five issues is such a wonky number for story arcs — there are five-issue miniseries all the time and they collect just fine. Still, I expected most of the New-52 books to take six issues for their introductory stories, and most of them may yet do that. Only a few books look to finish their first arcs after December’s issue #4s (Hawkman and Frankenstein, probably OMAC, maybe Batgirl), and those plus this month’s are barely an eighth of the relaunched line. It makes next month’s solicits more intriguing, I suppose.
Regardless, we live in the now (as it were…) so — onward to January!
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Warner Bros. and video game studio Monolith are working on a new downloadable, multiplayer, first-person shooter Batman game called Gotham City Imposters. The game will let everyone can be Batman, or at least “a Batman.” According to Destructoid:
The idea is this: regular, everyday folks — bored with their decidedly average vanilla lives — have decided to take things into their own hands. On one side, you have folks dressed like Bats, personalized variations of the Gotham’s crime fighting Dark Knight. On the flip side, you have the Jokerz, mischievous citizens who’ve identified themselves more with the Clown Prince of Crime himself, The Joker.
That underlying narrative lends itself to Gotham City Impostors’ reason for existing: team versus team online multiplayer shooting. It’s also a great setup for allowing a wide range of player customization, which will allow players to carve their owner Jokerz/Bats identity online.
I call dibs on this guy:
It looks like Bongo Comics is doubling the funny with a new series by Sergio Aragonés titled, aptly enough, Sergio Aragonés Funnies. According to the advance solicits, this monthly series will feature “an assortment of autobiographical anecdotes, perplexing puzzles, slap-happy short stories, as well as Sergio’s unique and hilarious pantomimes and gags”.
Back in January, Bongo head honcho Bill Morrison talked to CBR about it briefly, saying:
Sergio Aragonés’ “Funnies” is a new ongoing series that not many people may know about, but it’s coming from Bongo Comics this year and will most likely premiere at Comic-Con International San Diego. As the book’s editor, I hope I’m not coming off as self-serving by mentioning it here, but I’d be talking about it anyway, just as a Sergio fan! This book will be completely written and drawn by Sergio and will be unrelated to “The Simpsons.” He’ll continue to write and draw Simpsons stories as well, but this will just be Sergio doing what he does best; drawing the funniest cartoons in the universe!
But this isn’t Aragonés’ first stint in The Simpsons creator Matt Groening’s comic line — Sergio started contributing to the publisher’s line back in 2009 beginning with Bart Simpson #50. Aragonés continued as a regular contributor to Bart Simpson, even starting an ongoing feature called “Maggie’s Crib.”
Although Bongo might be defined in readers’ minds as The Simpsons comics, it’s wholly owned and operated by Matt Groening outside of the framework of Fox and the The Simpsons animated series. In addition to hosting Aragonés’ work in various series, Bongo has also run stories by another comics funnyman, Evan Dorkin, for years.
Publishing | Dynamite Entertainment CEO Nick Barrucci talks frankly about the state of the marketplace, digital comics, and his company’s plans. He also acknowledges some missteps: “Green Hornet was a license we paid a lot of attention to last year, probably too much attention. Going back to what we were talking about earlier, putting out too much product, we put out too much Green Hornet product. Part of it is that we wanted to get trade paperback collections out in time for the movie, and we did that, we succeeded. We built up our market share and we generated more revenue for us and the retailers. I’m going off on a tangent here, so I apologize, but we took that money and reinvested into projects like Vampirella, like Warlord of Mars, like the upcoming Kirby: Genesis. But we overdid it, and that we realize, which is why you don’t see us doing four Vampirella titles and four Warlord of Mars titles.” [ICv2.com]
Creators | For its annual Comics Issue, the Village Voice takes a fascinating, lengthy and very depressing look at the often-grim financial reality faced by cartoonists — an environment to which, it turns out, the Village Voice contributed. “I’m not sure how much you’ll be allowed to write about this,” says Dan Perkins (Tom Tomorrow), “but of course the Village Voice Media chain is one of the major culprits in this —their decision to ‘suspend’ cartoons [in 15 papers in 2009] dealt a serious blow to the struggling subgenre of alt-weekly cartoons.” It’s noted parenthetically that Tom Tomorrow will return to the paper “within a few months,” and that “many of the artists in this issue aren’t getting paid, but have contributed work for the exposure.” [Village Voice]
Awards | Art Spiegelman on Sunday won the Grand Prix at the Angoulême International Comics Festival, marking only the third time an American has received the honor (the other two were Will Eisner and Robert Crumb). “Considering my poor skills, I’m looking a little like the president Obama receiving the Nobel Peace prize,” he told the festival by telephone from the United States. Spiegelman will serve as the grand marshal for next year’s event.
Other winners at the four-day festival, which drew an estimated 200,000 visitors, include David Mazzuchelli for Asterios Polyp (Grand Jury Prize), and Naoki Urasawa and the late Osamu Tezuka for Pluto (Intergenerational Award). The full list of winners can be found here. [Agence France-Presse]
Retailing | The beleaguered Borders Group announced on Sunday that it’s delaying January payments to vendors and landlords in an effort to save cash while it tries to complete a debt restructuring. This marks the second round of delays for the bookseller, which has been pressuring large publishers and distributors to agree by Feb. 1 to convert late payments into $125 million in loans. The bookstore chain announced just last week that it secured a $550 million credit line from G.E. Capital, but only if several tough conditions were met — including an unlikely agreement from publishers. [The Wall Street Journal]
Broadway | A fourth actor was injured Monday night during a performance of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the $65-million musical that’s been plagued by delays and technical mishaps. Aerialist Christopher Tierney, who serves as a stunt double for Spider-Man and the villains Meeks and Kraven, fell about 30 feet when the cable to his harness snapped during the closing minutes of the show. Some equipment reportedly dropped into the audience as well. The performance was put on hold and then canceled as an ambulance arrived at the Foxwoods Theatre to take Tierney to Bellevue Hospital. Tierney is in stable condition, but no further information has been released. [BroadwayWorld, The Associated Press, CNN]
Publishing | Fantagraphics has laid off Dirk Deppey,The Comics Journal‘s online editor, former managing editor, and longtime writer of the Journalista! blog. His final day is Wednesday: “No regrets: The last ten years have kicked ass. I’ve done great things and meet interesting people, and was paid it. How great is that?” [Twitter]
Legal | The Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly is resurrecting a revised bill to tighten regulations on the sexual depictions of minors in manga, anime and video games. An earlier version of the controversial proposal was voted down in mid-June. The new bill removes vague defining terms like “nonexistent youth” and reportedly avoids references to “characters younger than 18,” increasing the likelihood that the proposed legislation will pass. [Anime News Network]
Retailing | As the small independent retail chain Joseph-Beth Booksellers files for bankruptcy protection, its president warns of even tougher times ahead for bookstores. “I think in the next three to five years, you’ll see half the bookstores in this country close,” Neil Van Uum says. [Lexington Herald-Leader, via ICv2.com]
Comic-Con | A reminder: Four-day and single-day passes for Comic-Con International go on sale Monday at 9 a.m. PT. Note, though, that four-day memberships with Preview Night sold out on the last day of this year’s convention (more could be released later, depending on returns and cancellations). Prices have increased oh so slightly, from $100 to $105 for four-day memberships and from $35 to $37 for single-day passes.
Convention organizers also announced the first 20 special guests for the 2011 event, including Jordi Bernet, Jo Chen, Alan Davis, David Finch, Dave Gibbons, Jonathan Hickman, Jamal Igle, Mark Tatulli and Roy Thomas. [Comic-Con International]
Legal | A federal judge on Wednesday blocked a new Massachusetts Internet law designed to protect children from sexually explicit material, say the legislation was so broad that it would criminalize legitimate websites and electronic communication. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund was among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit opposing the statute. [The Boston Globe]
And BOOM! goes the dynamite: Writer/editor Mark Waid has posted his keynote address from last weekend’s Harvey Awards on the CBR mothership. Arguably the most talked-about such speech since Frank Miller ripped up an issue of Wizard, Waid’s address tackled the thorny issues of copyright law, public domain, and digital piracy.
To hear Waid tell it in his intro to the CBR post, a combination of nervousness and not hitting certain points hard and often enough led some in the audience — including Sergio Aragonés, who confronted Waid about it — to believe Waid was attacking the very notion of creator ownership of art and defending illegal downloads. In reality, the speech was not nearly as radical, and a great deal more interesting. The most thought-provoking part of it, to my eyes, is the passage in which Waid argues that Internet culture, with the premium it places on distributing content people enjoy to as many other people as possible, has actually reinvigorated the notion that art has inherent value, in cultural terms if not financial ones:
And I’ll tell you why. It’s not because people “like stealing.” It’s because the greatest societal change in the last five years is that we are entering an era of sharing. Twitter and YouTube and Facebook–they’re all about sharing. Sharing links, sharing photographs, sending some video of some cat doing something stupid–that’s the era we’re entering. And whether or not you’re sharing things that technically aren’t yours to share, whether or not you’re angry because you see this as a “generation of entitlement,” that’s not the issue–the issue is, it’s happening, and the internet’s ability to reward sharing has reignited this concept that the public domain has cultural value.
Waid and his audience didn’t have the luxury you currently have, of being able to go through the speech at your leisure when you’re not reaching the end of a long convention day with a few vodkas under your belt. Take advantage, read the whole thing, and let us know what you think.
If you’re a member of an industry that let Dave Cockrum die in a VA hospital after helping give us most of the X-Men characters that comprised three blockbuster films and you get pissy about what Mark Waid said, then you deserve to remain on this sinking ship.
When Diamond Comics can’t make money despite being a monopoly, it’s time to start listening to people like Mark Waid.
Half of the people he delivered his speech to were over the age of 50, currently not working on a project in comics, and are most likely without health insurance, retirement or savings accounts.
Mark Waid had the audacity to warn a group of people he cares about, that nobody is putting the internet in a god damn DeLorean and driving it 88mph towards the twin pines mall. And for that he got dressed down by Santa Claus in front of his peers.
That’s how scared people are right now.
And the bottom line of it all is that in about 5 years, a lot of people are going to owe Mark Waid a fucking apology.
–PVP writer/artist and Harvey Awards emcee Scott Kurtz reacts with characteristic, shall we say, candor to Mark Waid’s keynote address on copyright and piracy and white-beardedGroo cartoonist Sergio Aragonés’ heatedly negative reaction thereto.
(via Joe Keatinge)
Comics writer and BOOM! Studios Chief Creative Officer Mark Waid delivered the keynote address Saturday at the Harvey Awards ceremony at Baltimore Comic-Con, and from all accounts, it was a doozy. Heidi MacDonald live-tweeted the event and summed it up later in a post.
From her account, Waid’s speech was about the importance of having a public domain, and his point was that, originally, copyright existed to give creators an exclusive right to their work for a reasonable time and then release it to the public domain. “No one would argue that the world isn’t better by being able to see a Renoir for free,” MacDonald quoted Waid as saying, adding, “Now big corporations use copyright extended under the illusion it helps us all. Giving back to public domain helps culture, says Waid.” As for file sharing, Waid says, it’s “legit” to worry about it but “it isn’t going away. We can’t stop it and we’re entering the sharing era.” (All quotes drawn from MacDonald’s tweets.)
After the ceremony, MacDonald reported, Waid and cartoonist Sergio Aragones had some sort of heated discussion, although it ended in a hug. She caught up with Aragones after everyone was thrown out of the bar and did a quick interview:
Cleveland | Claudio Sanchez of the band Coheed and Cambria and writer of Amory Wars and the upcoming Kill Audio will sign at Carol & John’s Comic Book Shop from 2 to 3 p.m.
Los Angeles | Nick Simmons will sign copies of Incarnate #1 at Golden Apple Comics from 1 to 3 p.m.
Ojai, Calif. | Opening reception for the Sergio Aragones art exhibit at the Ojai Valley Museum. This event is sold out, but the art exhibit runs through Oct. 4.
Orlando | The Mini MegaCon kicks off at 10 .m. and runs through Sunday. Guests include Darwyn Cooke, Jeff Parker, Chuck Dixon, Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Dick Giordano and many more.
Pittsfield, Mass. | The Storefront Artist Project hosts Todd Dezago from noon to 2 p.m. for a class on “Story Structure and the Language of Comics,” followed by a signing at 3p.m. by Howard Cruse.
San Francisco | The San Francisco Zine Fest kicks off at 11 a.m. and runs through tomorrow at the County Fair Building.