EXCL. PREVIEW: Luke Fights Boba Fett in Aaron & Cassday's "Star Wars" #6
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.
The first two Walking Dead Compendium volumes have sold a combined 100,000 copies this year in bookstores, towering above the other titles on Nielsen BookScan’s list of the Top 10 bestselling adult graphic novels for the first half of 2013. With a suggested price of $59.99, Image Comics’ 1,088-page Compendium One is “by far” the most expensive book on BookScan’s Top 200 chart for adult fiction.
Graphic novel sales have increased 10 percent year over year, which the company seems to attribute in no small part to the performance of the collections of the long-running comic by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn, and the popularity of the AMC television series.
Volumes of The Walking Dead accounted for four of the top five spots on the BookScan chart, a streak only interrupted by Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto, Vol. 60, at No. 4. In fact, six of the Top 10 graphic novels were held by Image books, with another volume of The Walking Dead claiming the No. 7 spot, and Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga, Vol. 1, slipping into the final slot with 15,000 copies; the remaining books are manga.
According to BookScan, The Walking Dead books have sold more than 1 million unites in the past 18 months, with Compendium One seeing “a 47 percent week-to-week sales lift” that coincided with the Season 3 finale of the AMC series in March.
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]
Today marks the the release of the Witch Doctor: Mal Practice trade paperback, which collects Witch Doctor: The Resuscitation one-shot and Witch Doctor: Mal Practice #1-6. Written by Brandon Seifert and illustrated by Lukas Ketner, the medical-horror series from Skybound/Image Comics follows Dr. Vincent Morrow, who specializes in supernatural diseases, frequently bringing him in contact with vampires, demons, changelings and the like.
In anticipation of the release, I contacted Seifert for a consult on the series (as well as to get his take on cursing in comics). If you want to read Witch Doctor #0, comiXology is offering the issue for free. Also, Seifert and Ketner will be at Portland Things From Another World (2916 NE Broadway St., Portland, Oregon) tonight for a Witch Doctor: Mal Practice release party.
Tim O’Shea: In this trade paperback-hungry market, how good does it feel to be at the TPB stage with Witch Doctor?
Brandon Seifert: Really good! Witch Doctor Vol. 2 has been in the works for a long, long time. Lukas started drawing the first issue in the trade in, I believe, October 2011, and I wrote it a month or two before that. So this TPB has been in progress for like a year and a half, year and three quarters! It’s great to finally have it done and on sale. And the edition itself turned out great!
If you’ve been dying for a way to let cashiers know of your love for The Walking Dead even as the flesh-eating hordes storm the counter, Card.com and Robert Kirkman’s Skybound have the solution: Walking Dead Visa prepaid debit cards.
“Having The Walking Dead art on these credit cards will be an exciting way for fans to incorporate the series’ art into their daily lives,” Kirkman says in the press release.
Fans have their choice of seven designs, all featuring Charlie Adlard art, but none really saying, “Consumerism!” More like, “Holy shit, where are all those walkers coming from?” There’s Rick Grimes on horseback entering a devastated Atlanta, Michonne baring her katana, and, well, lots and lots of the undead (including an image of Rick, Michonne, Andrea, Abraham and Morgan as walkers). You can see all of the designs here.
“I think fans of the comics recognize that this show is a different animal. There are big departures that have happened on the show before and it’s the show’s M.O. at this point. I think people are seeing that it doesn’t really preclude other big storylines from the comic book when we put a death in the show. We are still very much following the path of the comic book and you’ll see a lot of that in Season 4. There are going to be differences from time to time and some big differences. People know the comic still exists, and I want people to experience both and get a somewhat different experience. I think it’s cool that there are differences that are going to make the show as dramatic, startling and unpredictable as the comic book was the first time you read it. That’s really what we’re going after.”
– Robert Kirkman, responding to a question regarding potential concerns that a major development in last night’s Season 3 finale of The Walking Dead might alienate fans of the long-running comic series
“I just think what he does is really brave. He really loves these characters as well, and it makes it unique that we’re able to do this. We could literally kill Rick at some point. I’m not going to say we are, but why not kill him? There’s no reason. The Walking Dead could easily survive without Rick, and I personally think it would be incredibly interesting. We could do it in some random issue where the reader isn’t expecting it, not like issue #150 or some anniversary issue. I think it would be very cool.”
– The Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard, talking with Comic Book Resources about writer Robert Kirkman’s penchant for shocking readers in the popular horror comic
Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6’s guide to the week ahead. Below you’ll find a breakdown of the big announcements that came out of this weekend’s Emerald City Comicon, our contributors’ picks for the comics of the week — from Age of Ultron to Al Capp — and the top events to look for in the next seven days (hint: convention season is fully under way).
If you want to capture a ghost, call the Ghostbusters, but if you want to steal a ghost, apparently you need Jackson T. Winter.
Winter is the main character in Ghosted, a new series from Skybound by Joshua Williamson (Masks & Mobsters) and Goran Sudzuka (Y: The Last Man). Announced at the “Skybound On The Rise” panel at the Emerald City Comicon, the five-issue miniseries is about a thief, Winter, who is broken out of jail by a collector putting together an Oceans 11-esque team of experts with the intent to “steal” a ghost.
“Winters is not a good guy. He’s cold, but you can see fire in his eyes — a genius criminal who takes planning capers to another level,” Williamson told USA Today, who have several preview pages from the first issue. “It’s about money and he uses people to get what he wants. He’s seen some really screwed up things that have left him feeling cursed and haunted. The man has seen death in many forms and understands its power.”
Fatale artist Sean Phillips will provide covers for the comic, which starts in July.
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.
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.
BBC’s revival of Doctor Who in 2005 met with immediate success, but with the arrival of Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor and Steven Moffat as executive producer, its popularity seemed to rise to a new level. IDW Publishing has been releasing Doctor Who comics since 2007, and this year launched a new series with writer Andy Diggle as “showrunner.” With December’s Issue 3, up-and-coming writer Brandon Seifert and artist Philip Bond stepped in for a two-part story in which Amy sends the Doctor and Rory on a boys’ night out to help build their strained relationship.
Seifert has established himself in a relatively short time with his medical-horror series Witch Doctor, with co-creator/artist Lukas Ketner, which earned the attention of Robert Kirkman and a spot as the launch title for his Skybound Entertainment imprint. Seifert also was among the initial wave of creators invited to produce digital-first material at MonkeyBrain Comics. And most recently he was selected to write under Clive Barker for the Hellraiser series at BOOM! Studios.
Brandon and I got a chance to chat about his Doctor Who two-parter, how he handles horror in comics, and our shared history with fan fiction. IDW was kind enough to provide us with a preview of Doctor Who #4, which goes on sale Wednesday.
Telltale Games is offering the first episode of its critically acclaimed Walking Dead video game free for download from the App Store for a limited time.
Debuting in April, the episodic role-playing adventure game takes place in the same fictional setting as The Walking Dead comic series, and centers on an original character named Lee Everett, a university professor and convicted killer who rescues and cares for a young girl named Clementine in the wake of the apocalypse. Familiar characters like Glenn and Hershel also appear in the game’s five-episode first season.
Episodes 2 through 5 of The Walking Dead: The Game can also be purchased in-app for $4.99 each, or $14.99 in a bundled Multi-Pack. Watch the story trailer below.
MTV’s Splash Page has debuted Cory Walker’s cover for the landmark 100th issue of Invincible, long teased as the climax of “The Death of Everyone” arc. “Killing one person in your annual is lame, I’m killing everyone,” writer Robert Kirkman told the audience at New York Comic Con, explaining he’s parodying the trend of comics killing characters in their events and annuals.
The issue, by Kirkman, Ryan Ottley and John Raunch, arrives Jan. 23 from Image Comics.
In any entertainment field, the only thing more difficult than breaking through and scoring that first hit is doing it again and again. And in comics, one of the people I’ve marveled at for his ability to top his previous hit and reinvent himself, all while staying true to himself and his style, is writer Andy Diggle.
He’s done a lot during his 15 years in comics: He helped to turn around then-flagging 2000AD with a back-to-basics approach. He dusted off a forgotten set of DC Comics characters and re-made them into a popular Vertigo series with The Losers. He gave readers a modern vantage point for DC’s archer Green Arrow. He took Marvel’s Daredevil to the darkest point. And at this year’s New York Comic Con, he was the belle of the ball in terms of announcements with four new titles, and several more already in the works.