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Digital comics | Casey Baseel has more details on Kadokawa’s new digital manga service ComicWalker, which will launch on March 22. The service will include a mix of original comics and manga that are currently serialized in Kadokawa’s magazines, such as Shonen Ace. The comics will be available in English and Chinese as well as Japanese, although initially just 40 will be translated. Kadokawa hopes to add French translations as well, to bring in readers in France and French-speaking Africa, which is not well served by manga publishers right now. The first three chapters of each series will always be available for free; collected editions will be available online two weeks after print publication and will remain available, for free, until the next volume comes out. The idea is clearly to use digital to entice people to buy the volumes in print, and to draw new readers to older series, Kadokawa is adding color pages to the classics Mobile Suit Gundam and Neon Genesis Evangelion. [Japan Today]
“The idea was to take the unused, ‘sleeping’ video game characters of our past and bring them back first with webcomics, and then – once they had gotten enough traction – expand into other media like web animation, games, and merchandise,” Cory Casoni, ShiftyLook’s head of marketing, explained today on the website. “I’m happy to say that we’ve done this with Wonder Momo, Bravoman, and some other very cool characters […] That said, now that we have successfully revived so many franchises, the heavy lifting is completed – and so is our work. We battled the video games abyss and won, which means it’s time for us to move on and let the hit-makers play with some new toys.”
Launched in March 2012, ShiftyLook featured such creators as Ryan North, Jim Zubkavich, Christopher Hastings, Ben McCool, Dean Haspiel and Hitoshi Ariga working on classic properties like Wonder Momo, Dig Dug, Galaga and Bravoman.
Wonder Momo, which Casoni characterized as ShiftyLook’s “star franchise,” is being developed as a game by WayForward Technologies.
Casoni details all of the dates for the closing at ShiftyLook.com; the website will no longer be updated as of March 20, and the servers will shut down on Sept. 30.
Conventions | Registration begins Friday for the Small Press Expo 2014 Exhibitor Table Lottery, a new system designed to both bring the old process into the 21st century and address rapidly increasing demand. Online registration will continue through Feb. 14, with lottery winners announced on Feb. 21. There’s a good deal of information to absorb, but convention organizers have created a lottery FAQ. [SPX]
Publishing | Reports of the demise of Ape Entertainment turns out to have been premature. The company, which had one of the bestselling digital comics a few years ago with Pocket God, has been quiet of late and recently canceled a number of outstanding orders. However, COO Brett Erwin emerged Tuesday to say the publisher is simply going through a period of reorganization after the departure of CEO David Hedgecock, who now works for IDW. Ape will release a new Fruit Ninja comic at the end of the month. [The Beat]
Shiftylook, Namco Bandai’s webcomics venture, has inked a deal with Homestuck creator Andrew Hussie to create a dating-sim game, Namco High, that will allow players to mix and match characters from the different Namco Bandai games in a high-school environment.
There’s a pleasing symmetry to this alliance: Homestuck is a webcomic designed to look like an old computer game, complete with a cheesy home page that would be right at home on Geocities, and Shiftylook is a webcomics site that commissions writer-artist teams to make webcomics about characters from vintage Namco Bandai games from the 1980s and 1990s. I talked to the Shiftylook brass about their strategy at New York Comic Con; basically the idea is to build up a following for the characters and then bring them into other media, such as games and music.
As it did last year, Shiftylook set up shop across the street from the San Diego Convention Center for Comic-Con and offered an arcade where visitors could play Namco Bandai games for free. There was also an Adventure Time booth, selling merchandise from the popular animated and comics series, and a Homestuck booth, where Hussie himself made an appearance to sign autographs.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at the comics, books and whatever else we’ve been checking out lately. Today our guest is Shaun Manning, a former staffer at CBR, occasional convention reporter and comics writer. His current project is a comic called Hell, Nebraska (with artist Anna Wieszczyk), and he’s currently running a Kickstarter to raise funds to publish it. So go check it out.
To see what Shaun and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
One of the guests at the ShiftyLook pavilion at New York Comic Con was an eight-foot-tall cardboard cutout of Ryan North, writer of Dinosaur Comics and BOOM! Studios’ Adventure Time comics, who had just been announced as the writer of the company’s Galaga webcomic. The comic launches today with three episodes and will update twice a week; the artist is Christopher Hastings, creator of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, and the colorist is Anthony Clark of Beartato.
The original Galaga, released in 1979 in Japan and 1981 in the United States, was a fixed-shooter game in which the player tries to take down hordes of insect-like aliens. If that seems like a pretty thin premise for a comic, well, consider that North has been doing a successful webcomic with exactly the same art every single day for almost 10 years. He’s up to it.
Publishing | As part of its coverage of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Variety spotlights DC Entertainment’s digital moves, particularly its “Digital First” initiative, with titles like Smallville, Arrow and Batman: Arkham Unhinged, and the increase in sales since the company began going day-and-date with its comic books in September 2011. “What we launched last year as an experiment, we’ll increase the frequency now because it’s gotten so popular,” Hank Kanalz, senior vice president of Vertigo and Integrated Publishing, says of Digital First. [Variety]
Retailing | Halifax, Nova Scotia, comics retailer Calum Johnston is looking for a new location for Strange Adventures, as the current location is being redeveloped and the rent will go up as a result. Johnston would rather pay for more staff than pay a higher rent: “When people come in looking for a major title like the death of Peter Parker in Marvel Comics’ The Amazing Spider-Man, they inevitably have questions about other titles. It is important to have staff available to keep customers up to date on new developments and titles.” [The Chronicle Herald]
Written by Matt Moylan, who also scripted Bravoman, and illustrated by Rob Porter, the comic is based on a classic Namco platform game series of the same name that was released in Japan between 1989 and 1994; this comic marks the debut of the property outside Japan.
Both the comic and the game feature a mechanical dinosaur named Wagan, who is trying to thwart a mad scientist who is threatening his homeland. (Apparently this requires a lot of jumping from platform to platform.) Check out some art samples, plus a vintage Wagand Land ad, below.
The New York Comic Con officially kicked off this afternoon, with fans eager to get inside and publishers eager to begin releasing news into the wild. So let’s see if we can’t herd some of those announcements together. Here’s a round-up from today:
• DC Comics Co-Publisher and artist extraordinaire Jim Lee will team with Batman scribe Scott Snyder on a new Superman title next year, just in time for the Man of Steel’s return to the silver screen. “This will play along with the other Superman books in the sense that it’s in continuity, but we really wanted to carve out our own territory,” Snyder told CBR. “This really is sort of the biggest, most epic Superman story we could do together while having our feet planted firmly in continuity and making sure that everyone had enough room.”
DC also unveiled a Kia Optima that features a Batman design by Jim Lee.
• Marvel announced three more Season One graphic novels: Iron Man, written by Howard Chaykin with art by Gerard Parel; Thor by writer Matthew Sturges and artist Pepe Larraz; and Wolverine, written by the team of Ben Blacker and Ben Acker, with art by Salva Espin. Also, Cullen Bunn returns to Deadpool with Deadpool Killustrated, a miniseries that pits the Merc with a Mouth against Moby Dick, Sherlock Holmes, Beowulf, Don Quixote and more. Spoiler alert: he’s gonna kill them.
The second day of WonderCon in Anaheim, California, featured announcements ranging from Marvel’s new Captain Marvel series to Dark Horse’s new motion-comics venture to IDW Publishing’s Womanthology miniseries:
• In his “Talk to the Hat” panel, Marvel’s Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort revealed that Carol Danvers, long known as Ms. Marvel, will become Captain Marvel in a series by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Dexter Soy. He also announced that, spinning out of his Astonishing X-Men run, Greg Pak will team with Stephen Segovia for X-Treme X-Men, which includes Dazzler in its lineup. “You have no idea how hard I’ve fallen for this woman,” Pak told Newsarama. “She’s so much fun to write — she’s funny and real and wry; she’s a survivor who’s seen it all and lived to tell the tale; and she will save your life with rock and roll.”
• Dark Horse will bring motion comics featuring such characters as Hellboy, Conan, Usagi Yojimbo and the Umbrella Academy to Felicia Day’s new YouTube Channel Geek & Sundry, beginning April 2.
• IDW Publishing will follow Womanthology: Heroic, the Kickstarter-funded graphic novel anthology showcase for female creators, with a five-issue miniseries titled Womanthology: Space.