How "DC Universe: Rebirth" Fulfills Its Promise of Restoring Legacy to DC Comics
Passings | Longtime comic artist Ken Barr has passed away at age 83. Born in Scotland, Barr his start drawing covers in the 1950s for the science fiction magazine Nebula, moving on to covers and posters for Star Wars, Star Trek, and the first 14 issues of the British comic Commando. Barr moved to the United States in 1968 and began drawing covers for comics published by Warren (Creepy, Vampirella, Doc Savage, Planet of the Apes). He was a penciler, inker and writer for a number of DC’s war comics under editor Joe Kubert, and he drew the first Losers story in Our Fighting Forces. He also worked on some of Marvel’s black-and-white comics, and continued to create book covers and trading cards until his retirement in 1987. [Down the Tubes]
We’ve seen Wayne Manor, the Baxter Building and Tony Stark’s many bachelor pads depicted in countless Marvel and DC comic books over the decades. However, in “Interheroes,” illustrator and architect Federico Babina offers a look at the stylish homes of superheroes if they were decorated to reflect their costumed identities.
Publishing | Viz Media has struck separate agreements that will expand the number of manga titles it sells at Walmart and bring its books to Best Buy for the first time. Under the Walmart deal, bestsellers Tokyo Ghoul, Pokeman, One Punch Man and the new Naruto one-shots will be available in more than 2,000 of the retailer’s locations across the United States. Under the Best Buy agreement, two Naruto titles and Assassination Classroom will be packaged with their respective anime and featured in floor displays at 687 locations. [Publishers Weekly]
Comics | Keith Chow, editor of The Nerds of Color, responds to the New York Times opinion column that questioned the very concept of an Asian superhero, pointing out that there have actually been a number of successful Asian superheroes, several of whom debuted this year; that contrary to what the writer Umapagan Ampikaipakan says, there are a lot of superheroes in manga; and that the story of Superman, the original superhero, was essentially an immigrant story. “Coincidentally, Ampikaipakan derisively refers to Kamala Khan’s storyline in ‘Ms. Marvel’ as ‘merely another retelling of the classic American immigrant experience,’ and therefore not worthy of the universality of the superhero archetype,” Chow writes. “I guess immigrant experiences only matter so long as the immigrant isn’t brown.” [NBC News]
Publishing | Calvin Reid and Heidi MacDonald assemble a roundtable of comics insiders to for a detailed discussion of how the graphic novel market has evolved over the past 10 years, how their own business models have evolved, and what challenges they expect the future to bring. “Graphic novels are now firmly established in the book market worldwide in every genre: superhero, creator-owned, kids, middle-grade, young adult, webcomic, media tie-ins … etc,” says Kuo-Yu Liang, vice president of sales & marketing for Diamond Book Distributors. “While the overall book business is flat, most retailers are reporting comics/graphic novels and related merchandise as one of the few segments growing.” [Publishers Weekly]
Crime | An alert employee of JHU Comic Books in Staten Island helped foil a would-be shoplifter who was trying to make off with $114 worth of comics in his pants. According to police, Dani Ward noticed that Nicholas Perciballi, 22, was acting nervous, and she suspected he might be up to something, so she kept her eye on him as he shopped. Sure enough, as he was leaving the store, he allegedly dropped some comics from underneath his shirt. Ward reportedly called out and ran after Perciballi, then called the cops, who picked him up about 20 minutes later. When he was searched, police say they found four packets of heroin and a number of comics hidden in his clothes. Perciballi has been arrested three times in recent months on drug charges, and he allegedly told police, “I’m selling to support my habit and to cover my court fees from my last case.” [New York Daily News]
Santa Claus can crisscross the globe in a matter of hours, squeeze down tiny chimneys and, to the dismay of children the world over, determine who’s been bad and good. It’s a power set that places Ol’ St. Nick on par with the mightiest superheroes, one expert claims.
In fact, says Michael Dennin, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Irvine, Santa is a superhero. However, he may be in a league of his own.
If need a present for a present for a fan of superhero comics, and a trade paperback or a gift card won’t do, the Supershelf may be just what you’re looking for.
Manufactured by Artori Design, the floating metal shelf gives the impression your books are being held aloft by a certain flying, caped superhero. While it’s probably not advisable for single issues, it’s likely perfect for collections and graphic novels.
Retailing | After nearly 30 years in business, Comic Kingdom — the oldest comic store in Sydney, Australia — will close its doors for good. Clayton Wildridge, who’s worked at the store for two decades and now manages it, points the finger at digital comics: “The culture has changed. It’s all internet and downloads now. The last thing I read said readership of comics was actually up, but purchases of hard copies were down. People download them instead and read them on the phone.” [The Daily Telegraph]
Superheroes | Dave Itzkoff looks at the growing interest in female superheroes in comics as well as in TV and movies. The article includes interviews with writers Gail Simone and G. Willow Wilson, and Wilson speaks poignantly about Ms. Marvel: “If you wanted to work in the business, you kept your head down – you did not want to be seen as having an agenda. I would never have pitched that, because I frankly would have worried that it would have prevented me from getting other work.” [The New York Times]
Comics | David Harper examines why Marvel and DC remain important — “indispensable,” even — despite the ascendance of creator-owned comics. “Opposite to what it was before where you’d form yourself in your own comics and then graduate to the big companies, now the big companies are going to form you in order to graduate you to your own comics,” Marcos Martin explains. “That’s why I think Marvel and DC are indispensable. They’re great. That means there is an industry. We need that industry in order to bring creators and form them so they can at one point put together their own stories.” [Sktchd]
Faced with an angry Superman, every Tom, Dick and Dark Knight knows to break out the Kryptonite (it’s usually next to the bandages and antiseptic in the first-aid kit). Likewise, if cornered by Electro, most of us might make sure we’re well-grounded, and then reach for the nearest water hose. But what about those myriad other superheroes and villains?
Glad you asked! MorphSuits, which ruffled so many feathers with its breakdown of Marvel’s most badass female characters, now scrutinizes the Achilles’ heels of costumed characters, probing for a weakness that might help out in a pinch.
Creators | Political cartoonist Ted Rall talks to the local news about his firing by the Los Angeles Times, which concluded a post he wrote in May for its OpinionLA blog about being stopped by police in 2001 for jaywalking contained “inconsistencies.” Rall, who worked for the Times on a freelance basis, insists the audiotape of the incident provided to the newspaper by the Los Angeles Police Department doesn’t contradict his statements about being treated rudely and handcuffed. “I would do it all over the same way today,” Rall told CBS Los Angeles. “I’m disgusted that the Times took the LAPD’s word, based on nothing.” [CBS Los Angeles]
Conventions | San Diego’s Convention Center Corp. has adjusted its estimate of how much money Comic-Con International pumps into the local economy, down from last year’s $178 million to $136 million, because of possible double-counting and other flaws in methodology. [Voice of San Diego]
Passings | Leonard Starr, who wrote and drew the comic strip Mary Perkins On Stage, died Tuesday at age 89. Starr started his career in 1942, when he was a student at New York’s Pratt Institute, and he worked for most of the early comics publishers: Funnies, Incorporated, Timely (now Marvel), Fawcett, E.C. and DC. He also did work for the Simon and Kirby studio, and both Joe Simon and Jack Kirby were admirers. When comics publishing began to decline in the mid-1950s, Starr began working on newspaper comics and crafting his own strip, Mary Perkins On Stage, which ran from 1957 until 1979, winning a Reuben Award in 1965. After Mary Perkins ended, Starr took over as writer and artist of Little Orphan Annie, bringing new energy to that legacy property until his retirement in 2000. He also wrote a series of graphic novels, Kelly Green, and was the main showrunner for the ThunderCats animated series. [News from ME]
Legal | Inventor Stephen Kimble, who was dealt a final loss Monday by the Supreme Court in his years-long fight with Marvel over royalties for a Spider-Man toy, is of course disappointed by the 6-3 decision. However, he seems hopeful that there might be a legislative solution to the outdated patent law. “We can take this opinion, go to the legislators … and say, ‘Look, the court is saying that if this needs to be changed, you’re the guys to change it,’” he said. “And there is a huge body of evidence out there that this needs to be changed.” [Tucson Sentinel]
Manga | Kathryn Hemmann looks at the ways publishers courted female readers in the early days of manga, and how their strategies led to permanent changes in the comics landscape. [Contemporary Japanese Literature]