If you’ve been paying attention the last few weeks, you know the score–I’ve got 36 random questions that need to be answered, and every week I throw six of them at a different comic creator. What questions they answer is determined by the fates–or, more specifically, a random number generator.
Now let’s get to it …
In what The Wall Street characterizes as a low six-figure deal, Valiant Entertainment has signed as a sponsor of USA Luge for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The comics publisher has also designed the team’s uniform to look like the armor of X-O Manowar.
“The sponsorship is going to help the team in a couple of ways,” explained Gordy Sheer, USA Luge’s director of marketing. “… They’ll look good and they’ll feel fast, but also Valiant is helping the team with financial support. We’re a small sport, and every bit of help that we get is absolutely meaningful and directly affects our ability to perform.”
In the video below, Wall Street Journal reporter John Jurgensen notes that while movie studios (including DC Comics parent company Warner Bros.) routinely promote projects through NASCAR sponsorships, this appears to be the first time a company has used a national athletic team to advertise a character.
“For Valiant the idea is to kind of become a household name,” Jurgensen said. The publisher relaunched its comics line in May, with X-O Manowar as its flagship.
Organizations | Tom Spurgeon reports that The Hero Initiative has now received close to $3,000 so far due to campaigns asking those people who watch Marvel’s The Avengers to donate money to the organization. The Jack Kirby Museum, meanwhile, reports it has received $1,300 from Avengers-related giving. [The Comics Reporter, The Kirby Museum]
Conventions | Chris Butcher, co-founder and director of the Toronto Comics Art Festival, reports that about 18,000 people attended this year’s TCAF-related events: “TCAF 2012 was the most ambitious festival yet, and my most ambitious personal undertaking. With more off-site and lead-up events than ever before, more partnerships than in previous years, an additional day of programming, and more than 20 featured guests, I worried in the weeks leading up to the show that perhaps we’d bit off a bit more than we could chew. Luckily through the talent and support of some wonderful folks we had varying levels of success on every front, and as always, lessons were learned and we think 2013 will be even stronger.” [Comics212]
Legal | A judge refused to dismiss DC Comics’ lawsuit against Gotham Garage, a manufacturer of custom-made Batmobiles, ruling that the design of Batman’s vehicle is indeed copyrightable. DC sued the California company in May for copyright and trademark infringement, claiming Gotham Garage is confusing the public into thinking the cars are authorized products. The manufacturer asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the U.S. Copyright Act affords no protection to “useful articles.” The judge disagreed, ruling that Gotham Garage “ignores the exception to the ‘useful article’ rule, which grants copyright protection to nonfunctional, artistic elements of an automobile design that can be physically or conceptually separated from the automobile.” [The Hollywood Reporter]
Legal | Nancy Hass provides a broad overview of the legal battle at Archie Comics that pits Co-CEOs Jon Goldwater and Nancy Silberkleit against each other for control of the 73-year-old company. Silberkleit, who spoke briefly to Hass before a New York judge issued a temporary restraining order last month, called claims that she’s threatened and harassed the publisher’s employees and vendors “completely untrue.” [The Daily Beast]
Creators | Out magazine has included writer Charles “Zan” Christensen and artist Mark Brill in its 17th annual “Out 100″ list highlighting the 100 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people of the year. Christensen and Brill are the creators of The Power Within, an anti-bullying comic book published by Northwest Press. “Inspired, or rather upset, by Tyler Clementi’s tragic death last year, the pair set out to create an empowering story of an eighth-grader picked on for being gay,” the magazine writes. Northwest Press has distributed over 700 free copies of the book to more than 50 gay-straight alliances, schools, churches, community centers and other youth organizations. [Out]
Creators | Uncanny X-Men writer Kieron Gillen considers the accessibility of the relaunched comic in light of reviews he’s read around the web, particularly the fact that some people were thrown by the X-Men living in San Francisco: “Of course, I can see the reason why it’s thrown the people … they know the X-Men live in a mansion in Westchester. That they’re not living in Westchester is the problem. It’s not about giving the information to read the story that’s there. It’s about correcting pre-existing assumptions. In other words, it’s not a problem about being accessible to new readers – because a genuinely new reader would accept the fact the X-Men live on Utopia in the same way that they except that Bilbo lives in the Shire – but rather a problem with the readers being old readers. They feel lost not because of the story on the page, but the gap between the old story in their heads and the story on the page, and wanting to know what connects the two.” [Kieron Gillen]
Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Chris Butcher.
Butcher is the manager of The Beguiling in Toronto and founder of The Toronto Comic Arts Festival. He’ll be at the UDON Booth #5037 and The Beguiling Original Art Sales Booth #1629 at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend.
To see what Chris and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
I think if I mention the NFL and Marvel Comics in the same blog post, there has to be a reference to NFL SuperPro. Union rules, or something. So there you go.
With that out of the way … Marvel and the Dallas Cowboys announced this week a line of T-shirts, hoodies and other apparel featuring the football team and Marvel characters. “Through an agreement that enables the Dallas Cowboys to license Marvel’s Super Heroes, the team will develop co-branded merchandise featuring Captain America, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, and many other Super Heroes decked out in Cowboys’ team colors, logos and jerseys.” What, no Rawhide Kid, Two-Gun Kid or Kid Colt?
If you’re thinking these might be popular with comic retailers in the Dallas area, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram had the same thought, as they reached out to Lone Star Comics owner Buddy Saunders, who owns six stores in the Metroplex. “Sports fans are predominantly male, and comic fans are predominantly male. It’s sort of like branding yourself with two things — the team you like and your favorite superheroes,” he told the paper.
This isn’t the first time that Marvel has crossed over into the world of sports merchandise. Marvel characters have appeared on several NBA shirts, including the Hulk on a Celtics shirt and of course the infamous one for the (cough, cough) world champion Miami Heat.
Insulting the referee is a pastime as old as sports itself, but it’s rare to call one out by name in a comic strip. So when Brian Basset and Rob Harrell’s syndicated comic Adam@home took a potshot at former National Hockey League referee (and current Guelph, Ontario, city councilor) Andy van Hellemond, the ref called foul. According to Kathy English, public editor of the Toronto Star, van Hellemond has served a libel notice on the paper, saying he intends to sue for defamation, and that the comic strip has caused him “serious and irreparable harm”:
Our client takes the position that the publication of his last name and prior occupation in respect of his ability to referee professional hockey games was calculated to disparage both his personal and professional reputation and was defamatory.
For those who (like me) don’t follow hockey too closely, English gives a good summary of why van Hellemond might be a likely target for Adam‘s humor (which was the setup for a bad pun, not cutting sports commentary), and she defends the strip as legal, although admittedly unfair (and a bit random, as van Hellemond left the ice in 1996). She also says that this is the first time anyone at the paper has ever heard of a lawsuit being filed over a comic strip.
(via Graphic Policy)
Ok, maybe that’s a bit stereotypical, but it gives me a chance to fill you in on this innovative new series that’s being previewed free online. Created by writer Geoffrey Wessel and artist Jeff Simpson, the soccer crime serial Keeper is a very strong piece of work with an very unique concept ripe for success.
The creators are serializing pages of the comic online every Wednesday while also building towards a full first issue for print release.The comic has gotten some good accolades from veteran comic creators like Phil Hester, Rob Williams and Jacen Burrows — with the latter describing it as a “sports horror hybrid”.
Both creators were on hand earlier this month at C2E2 showing off their book in the Web Pavilion. For more, you can visit their site keeper-comic.com
A new “virtual sports theme park” launching later this spring seeks to combine “the most appealing aspects of online gaming with the joys of real world play,” and helping them to do that is Red Robin writer Fabian Nicieza.
FunGoPlay will allow kids to earn medals, points and power-ups in the virtual world by wearing branded sports gear when they play in the real world that apparently keeps track of their activity levels and sends it back to the game.
“Our research shows that kids’ activity levels are determined when they are eight and nine years old. Not coincidentally, this is the time that they are being sucked into the often sedentary lifestyle of video games and surfing online,” said FunGoPlay President David Jacobs in a press release. “We saw an opportunity to combine two leading kid passions—digital entertainment and real world active sports play—so we changed the game by introducing a virtual world that rewards kids for playing and being active in the real world. We see this as a future of online gaming that both parents and children can enjoy.”
Nicieza, the longtime comic scribe who also served as editor-in-chief of the Acclaim’s comic line, is the head of creative for FunGoPlay. He will write all the storylines for the various characters that appear in the game, a spokesperson said. The company also includes David Mauer, former president of Mattel USA and current CEO of EB Brands, and David Jacobs, formerly with Sesame Workshop.
If you’re in the Chicago area, Lance Briggs wants your old comics.
The Chicago Bears linebacker and comics fan is working with Chicago-based comic retailer Comic Vault to collect comic book donations for the needy and members of the Armed Forces. The drive ends Dec. 11, when Briggs will make an appearance at the shop.
The comics will be donated to the Chicago Housing Authority and to the Armed Forces. You can find more details here.
Publishing | D.C. Thomson & Co., publisher of long-running comics like The Beano and The Dandy, is closing a printing plant in Dundee, Scotland, eliminating up to 350 jobs. The facility is used to print magazines and books. The company, which also owns The Evening Telegraph and Sunday Post newspapers, employs more than 2,000 people. [BBC News]
Publishing | Lori Henderson returns to the question of what led to the failure of the CMX manga imprint: “Its parent company, DC didn’t do anything to market that line. Putting a solicitation in Previews is not marketing. DC claimed they would bridge the manga and comic store gap, yet did nothing to help retailers or promote the books to bloggers, bookstores or librarians, their three strongest advocates. You can’t buy or recommend books you don’t know about. While there were other factors that contributed to its ultimate end, the mishandling of the imprint in its first year, and then being completely ignored for the rest was the main factor in its lack of sales.” [Manga Xanadu]