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Comics A.M. | Ailing artist Oliver Nome’s call for help

Wonder Woman, by Oliver Nome

Creators | Freelance artist Oliver Nome, who has worked for Wildstorm and Aspen but has no health insurance, is suffering from a brain tumor, and his dealer is selling off his art to help pay for the surgery. [Blog@Newsarama]

Publishing | John Jackson Miller looks at the shape of the comics market in 1995, before Diamond Comic Distributors had a virtual monopoly on distribution. [The Comichron]

Awards | The voting deadline for this year’s Eisner Awards is Monday. [Comic-Con International]

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Comics A.M. | Batman #1 fetches record $850,000 in private sale

Batman #1

Comics | A near-mint copy of 1940′s Batman #1, which marks the first appearances of the Joker and Catwoman, sold this week for $850,000 — a record for that issue — in a private transaction arranged by Heritage Auctions. The seller purchased the comic just two years ago for $315,000. [CNN]

Publishing | Cory Casoni is leaving his position as director of marketing for Oni Press for a position with NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc. as the head of marketing for ShiftyLook comics. Thomas Shimmin and Amber LaPraim, who joined Oni earlier this year, are taking joint positions as marketing coordinators. [press release]

Creators | Alison Bechdel discusses her family, her psyche, and the challenges of drawing a memoir that’s set in therapy sessions: “I watched all the episodes of “In Treatment” at one point, to see how they managed to make two people sitting in a room so very dramatic. And it was basically just good writing and good acting. So that gave me the hope that I could pull this story off without adding a car chase or an explosion. Though there is a kind of a car chase, now that I think of it, when a Sunbeam bread truck almost runs me off the road. My story also goes in and out of other texts — movies, psychoanalytic papers, children’s books — which creates some more overt visual excitement. And I use a dream to begin each chapter. I know you’re not supposed to write about your dreams, but the dreams have a dramatic sweep that everyday life doesn’t.” [The New York Times]

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Viz lowers the boom on scanlators

Just two weeks after Viz debuted Shonen Jump Alpha, its digital replacement for Shonen Jump, the publisher has forced a group of fan translators to stop posting chapters of a number of Viz series.

The scanlation group Mangastream posted the news on Saturday that Viz had forced it to stop releasing chapters of seven series, including the ultra-popular Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece, which are included in Shonen Jump Alpha. They couldn’t resist a snort of derision:

They’ve succeeded in little more than invoking inconvenience to the community as their digital magazine missed the mark; it runs several issues behind and only features 3 of the above series. So long as their product continues to be slow, awkward and inferior to something a ragtag group of nobodies can churn out in a few hours – fans will continue to look to scanlation groups and aggregators for their weekly fix.

This is the first time that I can recall (someone will probably correct me on this if I’m wrong) that a publisher has gone after the scanlators themselves, rather than the sites that carry their work. Onemanga.com, once one of the top 1,000 sites on the whole internet, and most of the other “free manga” sites are aggregators who depend on a handful of speed scanlators to bring them the latest chapters of the most popular titles. While shutting down those sites has proved problematic, cutting off their source of material may be more effective than a cease-and-desist letter. On the other hand, it may not: one aggregator site lists 363 translators for Naruto alone.

One fan took their complaint right to the source, the Shonen Jump forum:

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Smallville to continue as a weekly digital-first comic

Here’s good news for fans of the television show Smallville who were left without their fix in May when the series went off the air for good: DC announced today that Smallville is coming back as a comic, which will be released first in digital and then in print form. The series will be written by Bryan Q. Miller, who was a scriptwriter for the show, and will pick up where the television story left off. Pere Perez, who worked with Miller on Batgirl: The Flood, will handle the art, and the digital cover above is by Cat Staggs.

DC has an interesting strategy for this comic: It will launch as a digital comic on April 13, with a new digital chapter coming out each week. (No word on pricing or length.) About a month later, it will come out as a print comic, collecting the chapters and adding an episode guide; the first print comic is due out on May 16, and Gary Frank (Superman Secret Origin) will be doing the covers for the print issues.

The weekly chapters are an interesting twist. Not only do they mimic the timing of the original show, they make the comic more of an immediate experience, something people come back to frequently and discuss in real time, as opposed to a monthly event. IDW is doing something similar with its Transformers series Autocracy, publishing an eight-page digital chapter every two weeks, priced at 99 cents. And of course there’s Shonen Jump Alpha, the digital reincarnation of Viz’s Shonen Jump, which publishes a chapter a week of six different manga within two weeks of their Japanese release, with a teen-friendly price of 99 cents per issue (less if you get the yearly subscription).

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Comics A.M. | Artist Brett Ewins injured in struggle with police

The Art of Brett Ewins

Creators | Former Judge Dredd artist Brett Ewins suffered serious head injuries Saturday after he allegedly stabbed a police officer who responded to complaints about a man shouting throughout the night. Police say when they arrived the 56-year-old Ewins attacked them with a knife. One of the officers received minor wounds during the struggle, but Ewins was hospitalized, where he remains in serious condition. The newspaper report asserts the artist, best known for his work on Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper for 2000AD, has a history of mental-health problems. [Ealing Gazette]

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Comics A.M. | Chris Claremont donates archives to Columbia

Chris Claremont

Creators | Longtime Uncanny X-Men writer Chris Claremont is donating his archives to Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The collection includes materials for all of his major writing projects over the past 40 years, notebooks with story ideas, drafts of short stories, plays, novels and comic books, and materials from his early training in the theater and his career as an actor. “We hope this is the first of more comics papers to come to the University,” said Karen Green, Columbia University’s ancient/medieval studies librarian and graphic novel librarian. “We want it to be a magnet for these kinds of archives in New York City, where the comics medium was born.” [Publishers Weekly]

Awards | USA Network and DC Comics’ Burn Notice webcomic has won a Media Vanguard Award from Advertising Age. [Advertising Age]

Creators | Michael Cavna talks to two comics creators with very different takes on Occupy Wall Street, sequential journalist Susie Cagle, who was arrested as part of the Occupy Oakland protests, and conservative editorial cartoonist Nate Beeler, who walks past the Occupy D.C. site every day and regards it as “quaint,” smelly, and out of step with the rest of the country.” [Comic Riffs]

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Comics A.M. | Jerry Robinson Detective Comics #67 cover up for sale

Detective Comics #67

Art | Jerry Robinson’s cover artwork from Detective Comics #67 is expected to bring in more than $300,000 when it goes up for auction Nov. 15. “Robinson penciled and inked this cover and the detail of his art is amazing close-up,” said Todd Hignite, consignment director for Comic Art at Heritage Auctions, “particularly his shading lines on Batman and Robin, and on the feathery details of the ostrich being straddled by that bird-of-prey, the Penguin.” [Art Daily]

Business | Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment Inc. and Vuguru, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner’s independent studio, are partnering to produce “original digital content.” [press release]

Comics | Darryl Ayo has a small manifesto about comics that makes a lot of sense: “Things that don’t make sense in North American comics: 1) comics that exist after their creators have ceased to. 2) these comics’ existence continues despite minimal effort to applicable to contemporary culture. Things that make perfect sense in North American comics: people’s general lack of interest in comics.” He points out a number of reasons why the comics audience is small and challenges creators and publishers to “Do better.” One point he makes that is rarely mentioned: The critical importance of editors. [Comix Cube]

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Viz honchos talk digital

Manga blogger extraordinaire Deb Aoki sat down with the Viz folks at NYCC and asked some hard questions about their relaunch of Shonen Jump as a digital magazine (to be renamed Shonen Jump Alpha). The magazine will be available via the Viz iOS app and the Vizmanga.com website, but only in the U.S. and Canada.

Aoki asked Viz VP of digital publishing Brian Piech when Shonen Jump Alpha would be available in other regions, and he responded that it depends on Viz parent company Shueisha, which controls the rights. Simply put, Viz has the print rights in the U.S. and Canada, and other companies have those rights in other countries:

This is something that the entire publishing industry is dealing with, not just manga. Digital rights (to a given book or manga) wasn’t always included in the original contracts.

Now, with everything that’s happening, everyone wants the digital rights. But it’s not clear if the print publisher (of a given book in a given territory) has first dibs, or if the rights holder can just shop (the digital rights) around to whomever wants it.

So it’s possible that someone will be publishing Naruto digitally in other countries, but it won’t necessarily be Viz.

There are pretty much three reasons for piracy—price, speed, and regional availability. Viz has the speed thing licked—with the launch of Shonen Jump Alpha, they will be publishing chapters of six of the most popular manga in the U.S. within two weeks of their Japanese release, and there’s a good chance that they may eventually go to simultaneous release in the two countries. On price, the ability to buy a chapter for the magic price of 99 cents (through Viz’s website as well as iOS apps) is a pretty good deal for the casual reader (although the yearly subscription price of $25.99 is a better deal in the long term). But region restrictions, whatever the reason, are bad news; they seem to be driving a lot of the traffic on pirate sites, judging from the comments. Two out of three ain’t bad—but if Shonen Jump Alpha does well, and the Shueisha honchos loosen the restrictions, that hat trick could prove very lucrative for Viz.

NYCC | Viz Media goes digital with Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha

Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha

Viz Media announced at the New York Comic Con this weekend that they plan to phase out the print edition of Shonen Jump magazine and replace it with Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha, a digital publication offered through their website and their various iOS Viz Manga applications.

Accoridng to the press release, Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha will feature serializations of Bakuman, Bleach, Naruto, One Piece and other manga “only two weeks after it debuts in Japan’s massively popular Weekly Shonen Jump Magazine. Currently, Japanese releases are often several months to years ahead of North American print titles; Weekly SJ Alpha eliminates the delay in unprecedented fashion.” To help North American readers catch up, they plan to release “a limited collection of digital graphic novel speed-ups” that will bring readers up-to-date with Japanese releases.

Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha will kick off Jan. 30, and fans can either purchase an annual membership that provides access to 48 weekly issues for 52 weeks for just $25.99, or can “rent” issues for 99 cents for four weeks of access. The last print issue of the North American Shonen Jump magazine will come out in March.

“Simultaneously publishing an official translation of the most popular comics magazine in the world has been a dream since manga publishing began in North America in the 1980s,” said Alvin Lu, senior vice president and general manager. “This is how manga is meant to be read in English–weekly, current, authorized and on the go. Now with Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha, it’s about to happen for real.”

Check out the full press release after the jump.

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Comics A.M. | Another One Piece sales record, another cartoonist layoff

One Piece, Vol. 6

Publishing | The 60th volume of Eiichiro Oda’s popular pirate manga One Piece sold more than 2 million copies in its first four days of release. It’s the first book to move more than 2 million copies in its first week of sales since the Japanese market survey company Oricon began reporting its charts in 2008. As we reported last week, this volume’s 3.4 million-copy first printing set a record, and propelled the series past the 200 million-copy mark. [Anime News Network]

Editorial cartoons | Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Matt Davies has been laid off by the Gannett-owned Journal News in White Plains, N.Y. [Comic Riffs]

Publishing | Abrams has made three comics-related promotions: Susan Van Metre to senior vice president and publisher, overseeing all comic arts books as well as Abrams Books for Young Readers and Amulet Books; Charles Kochman to editorial director of Abrams ComicArts; and Chad W. Beckerman to creative director, overseeing design for all comic arts books as well as Abrams Books for Young Readers and Amulet Books. [Abrams]

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Viz news #2: Shonen Jump adds online manga

The manga publisher Viz Media has done well with Shonen Jump: The magazine, established in 2002, has a monthly circulation of just over 200,000, which is pretty respectable, and then Viz sells the same stories all over again as graphic novels.

Now they are adding online manga to the mix: The December issue of Shonen Jump carries a full-page announcement of a new online manga service available only to subscribers to the magazine. One series, Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, will run exclusively online until it is collected in graphic novel form. The site will also include “massive online previews” of two more series, Toriko and Bakuman: Subscribers can read the first four chapters just before the graphic novel comes out. The rest of the Shonen Jump series will continue in print only.

I e-mailed some questions to Viz spokesperson Jane Lui, and she forwarded them to Joel Enos, the senior editor of Shonen Jump, who provided some more details of the new package.

Brigid Alverson: How will readers subscribe to the service—do you have to be a Shonen Jump subscriber or can you get an online-only subscription?

Joel Enos: A subscription (for now) is to the magazine as a whole. When you subscribe to the magazine, you also get the access to the exclusive online content of the magazine.

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SDCC ’10 | Highlights of Saturday’s comics programming

Comic-Con International

Comic-Con International

Like clockwork, Comic-Con organizers have released the schedule for the third day of the convention, Saturday, July 24.

Below you’ll find highlights of the comics-related programming, ranging from movie panels for Warner Bros.’ Green Lantern and Marvel’s Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger to Joe Quesada’s traditional “Cup O’ Joe” and “Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour vs. The Fans.”

The full programming schedule for Saturday can be found here.

10 to 11 a.m. Spotlight on Carla Speed McNeil — Comic-Con special guest Carla Speed McNeil is best known for her creator-owned title Finder. A few years back, Carla took new stories of Finder to the Internet, and the result was an Eisner Award  for best webcomic of 2008 and a new series of reprints from Dark Horse. Carla talks about her work and what’s next in this Spotlight panel. Room 3

10 to 11 a.m. The Black Panel 2010 — This year’s Black Panel will be one for the ages. The focus will be on empowerment, education, real-world networking, and finally but never last, fun. The panelists include entertainment attorney Darrel Miller, novelist Nnedi Okorafor, artist Denys Cowan and writer/producer/director Reggie Hudlin, with moderator Michael Davis. Once they answer life’s burning questions, they’ll chill with a salute and Q&A from the audience with actor/writer/director Bill Duke. As always, surprise guests who will rock your world. Room 5AB

10 to 11 a.m. Marvel Comics Writers Unite! — The third in Comic-Con’s series of “Year of the Writer/Comics Writers Unite!” panels focuses on Marvel Comics and includes Comic-Con special guests Brian Michael Bendis (Avengers, New Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man), Matt Fraction (Invincible Iron Man, Thor) and Chris Claremont (X-Men Forever, X-Women) in a discussion with writer Mark Waid (Amazing Spider-Man, Irredeemable). Room 6DE

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SDCC ’09 | 15 announcements that make us happy

Bone: Quest for the Spark

Bone: Quest for the Spark

San Diego Comic-Con is always a wild ride filled with crazy cosplayers, Hollywood hype and just generally somewhat-controlled chaos. In the midst of it all, a few comic book announcements managed to sneak out.

Here are 15 of those announcements (in no particular order) that Kevin Melrose, Chris Mautner and I were happy to hear:

1. New Bone books
So it looks like one of those new books isn’t going to be comics but a novel written by Tom Sniegoski and illustrated by Smith. Which is a bit of a bummer, but only a bit. I’m still pretty psyched to see more stories set in that universe and Sniegoski has proven himself to be an able and witty writer on stuff like the Stupid Stupid Rat Creatures mini series, which, by the way, will be included in the Tall Tales book. So yeah, this is great news all around. I’m eager for more Bone. –Chris Mautner

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SDCC ’09 | Viz Media’s Shonen Jump adds Bakuman and Toriko

Bakuman

Bakuman

Viz Media will add the slice-of-life Bakuman and the action-comedy Toriko to its Shonen Jump magazine lineup.

The announcement was made today during the publisher’s first panel at Comic-Con.

Bakuman, by Death Note creators Tsugumi Ohba and drawn by Takeshi Obata, follows to ninth-grade boys who dream of becoming mangaka. It debuted in August 2008 in Weekly Shonen Jump and has so far been collected in three volumes in Japan.

The title character in Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro’s Toriko is a luxury-food hunter who uses his inhuman abilities to capture rare and ferocious animals in hopes of one day creating the ultimate meal. The series premiered in May 2008 in Weekly Shonen Jump. To date, five volumes have been released in Japan.


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