“When they made me the president of Marvel [in 1972], I was suddenly involved in the business end – all sorts of financial decisions – and I realized pretty quickly that it really wasn’t my thing, and I wasn’t any good at it. I was asked to provide a five-year plan for where the company was heading. Hell, I don’t even know what I’m going to have for dinner tonight! I decided to step down. It was a lesson in knowing your strengths.”
– Stan Lee, explaining that the corner office isn’t for everybody, part of his four tips for success shared with The Globe and Mail
Comics strips | Matt Saracini looks at the impact on Australian cartoonists of a cost-cutting decision by media giant News Corp. Australia to replace individual comics pages in their largest newspapers with one national page. In the process, some more expensive locally produced strips were jettisoned in favor for cheaper syndicated ones from overseas, like Garfield and The Phantom. News Corp. owns more than a hundred daily, weekly, biweekly and triweekly newspapers. [SBS.com]
Creators | Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat, now living in Kuwait after troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attacked him and broke both his hands, talks about his decision to portray al-Assad explicitly in his cartoons, rather than sticking to more generic themes like freedom and human rights: “It was a big decision to start to draw Bashar and, yes, I was scared of what might happen, particularly when I was attacked. But I had a responsibility to do what I did. If I am not prepared to take risks I have no right to call myself an artist. If there is no mission or message to my work I might as well be a painter and decorator.” [The Guardian]
Stan Lee, The Goon Kickstarter campaign and Nathan Fillion were among the winners of the inaugural Geekie Awards, held Sunday evening in Hollywood. The awards were established to recognize “the best indie-created, high production value, awe-inspiring geek-genre content, art, products and experiences in the world.”
Lee received the Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Seth Green, while Fillion was named Geek of the Year. NASA’s JPL Mars Curiosity Rover team was also recognized with the Geek Cred award. The other winners were:
“Nah. I like doing my own stories. There are some characters at DC and Marvel that I’m fond of, but I can’t really see sinking years of my life into working on those characters. I like my own characters, and I want to spend time with them. I want to be Jeff Smith when I grow up, not Stan Lee.”
– Faith Erin Hicks, creator of Friends With Boys and The Adventures of Superhero Girl, when asked whether there’s a comic-book character she dreams of drawing one day
Of all the worthwhile causes clamoring for our attention, few tug at the heartstrings like the plight of Stan Lee, aka “The Man.” You see, while many so-called “celebrities” — Kim Kardashian! Charlie Sheen! Donald Trump! — have millions of Twitter followers, the beloved writer, editor, actor, action figure and generalissimo has … well, a lot less than that.
“How many aren’t hearing this desperate man’s cries of ‘Excelsior!’ over the Internet?” Attack of the Show! alum Alison Haislip asks in the moving PSA below. Too many, Alison Haislip. Too damned many.
But you can help: One click — one simple click — goes a long way toward making lil’ Stan Lee’s dreams of 1 million Twitter followers a reality. Is that too much to ask to bring a smile to The Man’s face? Act now; operators are standing by.
As Stan Lee sayings go, “Every comic book is someone’s first” isn’t quite as well-known as “With great power comes great responsibility,” but it’s nevertheless one that comics editors and creators should integrate and internalize just as thoroughly. It’s probably much less true today, now that comics are sold primarily through specialty shops (and, increasingly, online) instead of on newsstands and spinner racks, than whenever Lee first said it.
But regardless of whether Executive Assistant Assassins #13, Fearless Defenders #7 or Tarot Witch of the Black Rose #81 — to pick three titles from this week’s shipping list — will actually be anyone’s first comic book, as long as publishers continue to sell comics as serialized stories, then the thought that one of those could be someone’s introduction is a pretty good guiding principle for creating those comics.
With that in mind, this week I read a handful of second issues of some prominent new books from the biggest players in the direct market, with an eye toward how friendly the material might be toward a new reader starting the series — or comics in general — with that issue.
Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee has responded to actor Andrew Garfield’s recent what-if scenario in which Peter Parker could be gay or bisexual, joking, “I figure one sex is enough for anybody.”
Appearing over the weekend at Fandomfest in Louisville, Kentucky, the 90-year-old comics legend appeared caught off-guard by a question from the audience about Garfield’s “request to make Spider-Man bisexual and Mary Jane male.” Lee initially offered a glowing assessment of the actor’s performance in The Amazing Spider-Man, before the question was explained to him.
“He’s becoming bisexual?” Lee exclaimed in disbelief, eliciting roars of laughter from the audience. “Who have you been talking to? Seriously, I don’t know anything about that. And if it’s true, I’m going to make a couple of phone calls. I figure one sex is enough for anybody.”
Garfield, who’s filming The Amazing Spider-Man 2, sparked a good deal of discussion among comics fans when he related a conversation with a producer in which he said, “I was kind of joking, but kind of not joking about MJ. And I was like, ‘What if MJ is a dude?’ Why can’t we discover that Peter is exploring his sexuality? It’s hardly even groundbreaking! … So why can’t he be gay? Why can’t he be into boys?”
Comic-Con International saw the arrival of not one but two new trailers for LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, the upcoming action-adventure game from TT Games and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.
The first, appropriately titled “Big Figure,” showcases some of the Marvel Universe’s more … big-boned … characters, including the Hulk, Kingpin, the Blob, the Rhino, Colossus, the Juggernaut and The Thing, while providing glimpses of an array of heroes, ranging from the Invisible Woman and Jean Grey to Iron Man and Wolverine.
The second, packed with gameplay footage, highlights Stan Lee as a playable character who can sling webs and Hulk out with the best of them. Other playable characters range from the expected (Captain America, Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel) to the offbeat (H.E.R.B.I.E., Malekith the Accursed, Squirrel Girl).
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes will be released later this year on PC, Wii U, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS, DS and PlayStation Vita.
Comics | A CGC-certified 9.6 copy of 1963′s The X-Men #1, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, fetched a private-sale record of $250,000 in a deal brokered by Pedigree Comics. That same comic, said to be one of just two certified near-mint copies in existence, went for a then-record $200,000 in March 2011; a 9.8 copy sold at auction in July 2012 for $492,938. The all-time record remains the $2.6 million paid in a 2011 auction for a near-mint copy of Action Comics #1. [CGC Comics]
Comics | Joe McCulloch puts together a nice guide to the self-published comics of Steve Ditko. [Comics Alliance]
Comics | If you want to read Franco-Belgian comics but don’t know where to start, Jared Gardner has you covered, with a brief introduction and some recommended works that have been translated into English. [Public Books]
With Comic-Con International now just a week away, Todd McFarlane and McFarlane Toys have rolled out a rundown of panels, signings, convention exclusives and giveaways.
McFarlane will appear on July 19 with Stan Lee at the Crazy Cat Collectibles booth to sign the Spider-Man Limited Venom Edition Guitar, featuring the artists cover art from Spider-Man #13, and July 19 and 20 at the Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Pirate Ship for the free poster giveaway (McFarlane Toys’ Assassin’s Creed action figures will also be on display).
McFarlane Toys’ limited-edition The Walking Dead Comic Governor in Riot Gear action figure will be available at the Skybound booth (#2729), while Toys “R Us and Entertainment Earth (booth #2343) will debut The Walking Dead Comic Penny Blake The Governor’s Zombie Daughter, complete with fish tank and a bucket of body parts.
You can see the full McFarlane Comic-Con schedule below:
Comics sales | ICv2 reckons that at $4.99 a copy and more than 250,000 copies sold, Scott Snyder and Jim Lee’s Superman Unchained #1 brought in $1.25 million at retail. John Mayo has additional sales analysis at Comic Book Resources. [ICv2]
Creators | Stan Lee shows off his office, which is pretty darn nice. [CNN iReport]
Creators | Writer Steven T. Seagle talks about the genesis of his new graphic novel, Genius, which started with his wife’s revelation that her father was in on one of the secrets of the century. [Hero Complex]
Publishing | Lions Forge Comics announced a partnership this morning with NBC Universal to create digital comics based on five television series from the 1980s and 1990s: Knight Rider, Airwolf, Miami Vice, Punky Brewster and Saved by the Bell. The comics will be released on a variety of e-book platforms, including Kindle, Nook and Kobo, but there was no mention of comics apps such as comiXology. [USA Today]
Publishing | Denis Kitchen’s Kitchen Sink, long a packager whose comics were published by others, will now be an imprint of Dark Horse, releasing four to six books a year. The imprint will include art books, reprints of archival material, and new graphic novels; it will kick off with The Best of Comix Book: When Marvel Went Underground!, a collection of works from the Marvel magazine, which was edited by Kitchen and Stan Lee. [ICv2]
History | Scholars will present their research this week on The Glasgow Looking Glass, which is believed to be the very first comic book, at the International Graphic Novel and International Bande Dessinee Society Joint Conference in Glasgow Published in 1825, the work is a satire of early 19th-century Scottish fashions and politics. [ITV]
Retailing | Aaron Muncy, owner of The Comic Shop in Decatur, Alabama, is matter-of-fact about his business: There isn’t much of a kids’ market, he says, and he has no time for collectible comics: “Since it’s worth so much money — it’s just straight to eBay and get rid of it. I’ll leave it in the store for a week or two if I pick it up, just to give my customers a chance but it’s worth too much money to have sitting around.” [WAFF]
Publishing | ICv2 posts a three-part interview with IDW Publishing CEO Ted Adams that covers a multitude of subjects, including the company’s digital strategy, the Artists Editions, news that Scholastic has picked up its My Little Pony comics, and that the publisher’s book sales are up, even though Borders is gone: “The book market used to make me crazy on this returnable basis basically forever. That was never a sustainable business model. Where we are today is we are able to sell product in a reasonable way so that the bookstores get a chance to sell the product and we don’t get these giant returns. ” [ICv2]
Piracy | Earlier this year, the Chinese Internet company Tencent inked a deal with Shueisha, the publisher of Shonen Jump and thus the licensor of some of the most popular manga in the world. One consequence of this deal has just hit home with the Chinese reading public: Scanlations are disappearing from the web, and fans are not happy. [Kotaku]
Creators | Stan Lee, characterized by CNN as “the Godfather of comic book heroes,” is modest about his own achievements in a new interview: “If my publisher hadn’t said ‘let’s do superhero stories’ I’d probably still be doing A Kid Called Outlaw, The Two Gun Kid or Millie the Model or whatever I was doing at the time.” He reflects on the increased female audience for comics and discusses some new projects, including a new superhero, The Annihilator, created specifically for a Chinese audience. [CNN]
Comics| Chris Huntington reflects on the importance of Miles Morales for children of color, like his son: “… To see Spider-Man pulling his mask over a tiny brown chin – to see a boy with short curly hair sticking to the ceiling of his bedroom— well, something happened. Dagim has been Spider-Man for two Halloweens in a row. He takes a bath with his Spider-Man and a toy killer whale. He has Spider-Man toothpaste and a Spider-Man toothbrush. If Spider-Man offered medical coverage, I think he would want that, too. My son somehow understands that there is a Peter Parker Spider-Man, who is vaguely grown-up and my age, and a younger Spider-Man, closer to his age. That’s just how Dagim likes it. He even understands that Peter Parker — like Superman, like Batman – wasn’t raised by his birth parents. The best superheroes were all adopted like him.” [The New York Times]