The official announcement on Tuesday of a new horror series by Robert Kirkman looks promising, but can it repeat the success of The Walking Dead? The co-creator of one of most successful comic books of the past decade has become one of the high-profile figures in the industry, so the new project (with artist Paul Azaceta) calls out for a closer look.
When his zombie comic debuted in 2003, Kirkman was primarily known for superhero comics, like the more traditional Invincible, which had launched only months earlier, or the parody Battle Pope. A black-and-white horror comic that had none of the Spider-Man-style lightheartedness of those early Invincible issues or the dark humor of Battle Pope was unexpected from the writer. Even his lesser-known work, like Tech Jacket, Brit, Superpatriot or (how’s this for obscure?) the Masters of the Universe: Icons of Evil one-shots and Space Ace, all typically fell somewhere within that spectrum, never getting too dark and sometimes heading into outright comedies. Of course, any writer worth his salt can do more than one genre or tone. The Walking Dead definitively stepped out of his known territory, immediately proving itself to be startlingly tense, dark and dead serious. And like 30 Days of Night the year before, it demonstrated once again that comics could do horror.
Word of mouth about the series soon spread, with sales of each issue improving during an industry-wide slump. It became a cult hit, and by the time the first collected edition was released, back issues were beginning to spike on the resale market. Each subsequent year, sales seemed to grow exponentially, until it became the perennial hit that it is today. Needless to say, this led to a television deal with AMC and the pop culture phenomenon that it’s become, which has helped accelerate a zombie craze.
In celebration of the 10th anniversary of The Walking Dead, Hyundai will present special events next week during New York Comic Con dedicated to the long-running comic by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn.
Held at Pillars37 in Midtown Manhattan, “The Walking Dead: A Decade of Dead” begins at 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 10 with the opening an art showcase curated by Skybound Editorial Director Sina Grace featuring rare artwork, well-known illustrations and a signing by Adlard. Exclusive limited-edition prints will be given daily to gallery guests during the showcase, which continues through Oct. 12.
The 20-minute documentary The Walking Dead: A Decade of Dead, which chronicles the evolution of the property from comic book to hit television series, will have its world-premiere screening Friday, Oct. 11. Doors open at 7:30 p.m; a 15-minute Q&A will follow. Afterward, there’s an invitation-only party.
With New York Comic Con fast approaching, Image Comics has announced convention-exclusive merchandise and debuts for The Walking Dead and other titles, including Chew, East of West, Lazarus and Three. All items will be available at the Image Comics and Walking Dead booth (#1444).
New York Comic Con will be held Oct. 10-13 at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan.
Image Comics has unveiled the 10th and final connecting cover for The Walking Dead #115, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the hit series. Illustrated by series artist Charlie Adlard and colored by Dave Stewart, the covers depict the most significant, and the most special, moments of the past decade.
The Walking Dead #115, by Robert Kirkman, Adlard and Cliff Rathburn, arrives Oct. 9. Check out the solicitation text below.
The zombie hordes won’t be stopped by the gates of academia.
AMC, Instructure and the University of California, Irvine have teamed up for a massive open online course (MOOC) “exploring a broad range of scholarly topics through the lens of a hypothetical zombie apocalypse.” Or should that be “hypothetical” zombie apocalypse?
Announced this morning, “Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC’s The Walking Dead“ is a free, eight-week course taught by UC Irvine faculty in the fields of social sciences, public health, physics and astronomy, and mathematics. According to the course description, the online class will tackle such topics as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, social orders and structures, the spread of infectious diseases, and nutrition in a post-apocalyptic world (particularly relevant to Daryl Dixon, the latter asks, “Are squirrels really good for you?”).
As the Comic-Con International hangover sets in and the industry goes silent while creators, editors, publishers and publicists stagger home from San Diego, we’ll take a few minutes to try to collect the comics-related highlights of this year’s event. We’ll attempt to update as more panel reports appear and other information trickles out.
• Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, Hawkeye‘s David Aja, and Building Stories by Chris Ware were the big winners at the 2013 Eisner Awards.
• At Diamond Comic Distributors’ Retailer Appreciation Lunch, Marvel teased the arrival of Marvelman — it’s been four years since the publisher revealed it had acquired the rights to the property — and, scheduled for January, a new wave of Marvel NOW! titles. In convention panels, the company announced: Wolverine: Origin II, by Kieron Gillen and Adam Kubert; the return of Nightcrawler in the first arc of Amazing X-Men, by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness; the November debut of Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe, by Chris Hastings and Jacopo Camagni; “Afterparty,” a two-issue arc of Young Avengers that celebrates Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s first year on the series; Steve McNiven will join Rick Remender in November on Uncanny Avengers; Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand, a Galactus-focused Ultimate Universe event by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley; and the January-launching Revolutionary War, in which writer Andy Lanning and “various superstar artists,” will resurrect some of the Marvel UK characters.
Robert Kirkman’s Skybound Entertainment has announced exclusive merchandise for Comic-Con International that includes the Invincible Compendium One hardcover, The Walking Dead comic series PVC figure packs, and a limited-edition Peavey Predator full-size guitar with art by The Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard.
Considering this year marks the 10th anniversary of The Walking Dead, the PVC figures ($15 each or $100 for all nine) and the guitar ($500) are only the beginning of the items from the long-running horror/survival series. There’s also the Compendium Two hardcover with gold foil ($100), the Skybound-exclusive McFarlane Toys Governor action figure in riot gear ($25), and the “Horde” watch from Vannen, featuring more art by Adlard ($75).
Robert Kirkman’s Skybound Entertainment has partnered with Internet Explorer to launch Thief of Thieves Experience, an interactive website based on the Image Comics crime series.
The official announcement, which debuted on MTV’s Splash Page, avoids calling the project a game. Instead it’s described as “a fully immersive, multi-touch website that allows fans of Thief of Thieves to become fully engaged in a heist.” Of course, they’ll have to use Internet Explorer 10 to fully, um, experience Thief of Thieves Experience, which permits users to create a new identity and hone their larceny skills on their way to pulling off the big heist.
Robert Kirkman and Skybound Entertainment will debut a new digital hub for the hit Walking Dead franchise on Sunday, timed to coincide with the midseason premiere of the television adaptation.
According to USA Today, TheWalkingDead.com will contain information about the long-running Image Comics series, the AMC drama and the growing list of games (which include the recent Telltale episodic series, the Walking Dead: Assault app and Activision’s upcoming Survival Instinct). In addition, there will be special-event updates, wikis for character biographies, and, of course, a store for exclusive merchandise. At the moment, fans have to visit multiple websites for that information.
AMC’s The Walking Dead returns Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC. The Walking Dead #107, by Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn, goes on sale Wednesday.
Diamond Comic Distributors this week released its lists of the bestselling comics and graphic novels of 2012, and ahead of all the expected big titles from Marvel and DC was The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn. While the splashy headline is that The Walking Dead‘s 100th issue is the bestselling comic of the year — possibly of the past 15 years — what makes the achievement so remarkable is that the success is so thorough and consistent.
Not only did The Walking Dead top both the comic and the graphic novel lists, but nearly every conceivably qualifying product with the words The, Walking and Dead appears significantly high on both direct-market charts. Nine issues of the comic book are in the Top 300. In additional, all 17 volumes of the softcover trade paperback are among the Top 30 graphic novels, with Volume 1 claiming the top spot for the third year in a row. But wait, there’s more: Both oversized Compendiums, all eight hardcover collections and The Walking Dead Survivor’s Guide all appear elsewhere on the graphic novel chart. These are all remarkable achievements for an indie comic, and in many ways has primed the direct market for the success of Saga, Chew, Fatale and other titles that didn’t come from established franchises.
Just in case there were any lingering doubt, Diamond Comic Distributors has made it official: The landmark 100th issue of The Walking Dead was the top-selling comic in the direct market in 2012.
As we noted in August, the issue by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn set a new record for highest orders for a comic in a single month with an estimated 366,000 copies copies, beating The Amazing Spider-Man #583 (the Barack Obama issue, with 352,800 copies), the previous top seller for the 21st century, and The Darkness #11 (357,000), Image’s previous all-time top seller.
According to the distributor, comics book sales finished the year up nearly 15 percent over 2011, and graphic novels up more than 14 percent. Marvel was the top publisher, with a 34.06 percent dollar market share and a 37.59 percent unit market share. DC Comics followed at No. 2 with a 31.94 percent dollar market share and a 36.75 unit market share. Marvel also published nine of the Top 10 comics of 2012: Uncanny Avengers #1, Avengers vs. X-Men #1-6, The Amazing Spider-Man #700 and Avengers #1.
The Walking Dead, meanwhile, dominated the graphic novels chart, claiming seven of the Top 10 spots.
“2012 was a terrific year for comic books and graphic novels,” Diamond CEO Steve Geppi said in a statement. “Our publishers did a tremendous job of creating compelling storylines that comic book fans wanted to see – from Marvel’s Avengers vs. X-Men followed by its Marvel NOW! titles later in the year to DC’s powerful New 52 ongoing titles. Add in Dark Horse Comics’ horror line-up, IDW’s My Little Pony and Image Comics’ creator-driven hits and it was quite a year. In addition, I would like to mention what a wonderful job comic shop retailers did in 2012, by continuing to establish a great environment that readers and fans want to come and visit.”