Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Analysis | Rob Salkowitz kicks off the new year with big-picture questions about “geek culture”: With the popularity of comics-based movies, will continuity and nostalgia become less important? And will comics themselves become less important? “Putting out comics is a relatively costly and troublesome process with limited revenue potential relative to other ways of exploiting the intellectual property. A fan base that buys licensed merchandise and watches entertainment programming without needing a monthly fix of new art and story is probably considered a feature of the new comics economy, not a bug.” [ICv2]
Creators | Chew artist Rob Guillory, who will appear this weekend at Wizard World New Orleans, talks about the strange comics that he read as a kid (The Adventures of Kool-Aid Man) and the unexpected success of Chew, which will end next year with its 60th issue: “In the beginning, John and I were kind of like, ‘Well, best-case scenario, we can go 60 issues. Worst-case scenario, we can do five and go our separate ways and never speak again.’ I don’t know if we’ve seen the peak of our reception. I don’t think we’ll see how popular we’ve been until it’s over. When it’s wrapped and it’s the complete thing, I think people will start missing us.” [Best of New Orleans]
Legal | Disney has filed a motion to dismiss a $5.5 billion copyright-infringement lawsuit filed in October by failed dot-com Stan Lee Media Inc. in its sixth attempt to claim ownership of the Marvel characters co-created by Stan Lee. SLM, which is no longer affiliated with its co-founder and namesake, asserts Lee didn’t properly assign ownership of the works to Marvel, and that Disney didn’t file its Marvel agreement with the U.S. Copyright Office. Disney calls the lawsuit “completely frivolous,” and argues, in part, that the claims have already been litigated and rejected. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Publishing | As final print edition of The Dandy promptly sells out and the venerable U.K. children’s comic migrates online, David Fickling briefly discusses why he launched The Phoenix — a weekly geared for readers ages 6 to 12 — nearly a year ago, and why comics aren’t dead: “Reading comics was always a delight. Reading them under the bedclothes or the desk, even better. Now at last the experts are understanding the importance of reading comics. The loss of reading for pleasure has been identified as one of the principle reasons for falling standards of literacy. Perhaps part of the reason for our disgraceful literacy rates is that we don’t have comics. Comics are a link to books not competition; in short they are a great leveller.” [The Telegraph]
Publishing | Vertical Inc. announced Sunday at Otakon in Baltimore that it has licensed Yoshikazu Yasuhiko’s 23-volume Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin and Mitsuhisa Kuji’s Wolfsmund. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | A year after the launch of Kodansha Comics, general manager Kimi Shimizu and Dallas Middaugh of Random House Publisher Services discuss their re-release of Sailor Moon, Kodansha’s fall line and the state of the manga market in the post-Borders landscape. “Manga numbers have been in decline for the past couple years, but what we’ve discovered in the past year or so is that decline is dramatically slowing,” Middaugh said .”So the simple fact of the matter is that most manga readers —usually when they’re committed, they’re committed—are reading a series. I actually believe that it takes more than the loss of a retail outlet to keep them from pursuing the manga that they want to read.” [ICv2]
First of all, we need to think up some new terms to distinguish journalism done via comics — as practiced by, say, Joe Sacco — from journalism about comics. Suggestions gleefully accepted!
Whatever we call it, sequential-art reporting is definitely coming into its own, and we have the links to prove it. For starters, here’s a video of the Comics and Journalism in a New Era panel at Comic-Con International, moderated by Publishers Weekly comics editor Calvin Reid and featuring a stellar lineup of Susie Cagle (who
has been involved in as well as reporting reported* on Occupy Oakland), Andy Warner, Stan Mack, Ed Piskor, Dan Carino and Chris Butcher.
Crime | An energetic thief stole all 64 volumes of One Piece from a Japanese bookstore by stuffing 10 volumes at a time in his duffel bag. As One Piece is the most popular manga in Japan, he could have gotten a good price for his booty at a used manga store, had the forces of law not intervened. [Kotaku]
Creators | Kiss member Gene Simmons still remembers the postcard he got from Stan Lee as a kid. [Noisecreep]
Legal | Neil Gaiman comments briefly on the settlement agreement that ends his decade-long legal dispute with Todd McFarlane over Medieval Spawn, Angela and Cogliostro, and a handful of derivative characters: “The main thing is, I feel like an awful lot of good things have come out of it. … I think the various decisions, particularly the [Judge] Posner decision, were huge in terms of what the nature of dual copyright in comics is. What is copyrightable in comics is now something that there is a definite legal precedent for. There were a lot of things that were … misty in copyright [law] that are now much clearer. And it’s of benefit to the creator.”
While the details of the settlement are confidential, it’s known that Gaiman and McFarlane now share ownership of Spawn #9 and #26, as well as the first three issues of an Angela spin-off series. [Comic Riffs]
Legal | Cartoonist Susie Cagle, who was arrested last month while covering Occupy Oakland, says she has been cleared of all charges by the Oakland Police Department. The Society of Professional Journalists sent a letter to the Oakland police condemning the arrest, which ultimately assisted in getting the charges dropped. The letter called out the department’s crowd management policy, which says, “Even after a dispersal order has been given, clearly identified media shall be permitted to carry out their professional duties in any area where arrests are being made, unless their presence would unduly interfere with the enforcement action.” [Fishbowl LA]
Conventions | San Diego City Council approved a plan to have San Diego hotels pay for a $520 million convention center expansion. The plan moves to a second hearing in January and requires a vote of two-thirds of the hotels that cast ballots for approval. [NBC San Diego]
Occupy Wall Street and the related protests in other cities are proving fertile ground for comics journalists—by which I mean those who use sequential art to report about an issue rather than journalists who cover comics. The comics-journalism site Cartoon Movement posted an Occupy Sketchbook this week featuring work from Susie Cagle, Sharon Rosenzweig, and Shannon Wheeler, and they promise another installment next week. At Comic Riffs, cartoonist and Cartoon Movement editor Matt Bors explains why cartoonists and Occupiers get along so well:
“Corporate media is met with skepticism by protesters — and with good reason,” Bors tells ‘Riffs. “I’ve found that sitting and talking to people with a sketchbook is a far better way to gain insight than shoving a network camera in their face. That only yields sound bites.
“Susie Cagle’s approach of essentially being an embedded journalist with the movement,” Bors continues, “will no doubt result in great comics and the kind of insight you aren’t going to find on television.”
Many of the comics in the Occupy Sketchbook are sound bites too, but Shannon Wheeler’s drawing of Occupy Wall Street is a birds-eye view that a camera simply couldn’t capture as well.
Creators | Longtime Uncanny X-Men writer Chris Claremont is donating his archives to Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The collection includes materials for all of his major writing projects over the past 40 years, notebooks with story ideas, drafts of short stories, plays, novels and comic books, and materials from his early training in the theater and his career as an actor. “We hope this is the first of more comics papers to come to the University,” said Karen Green, Columbia University’s ancient/medieval studies librarian and graphic novel librarian. “We want it to be a magnet for these kinds of archives in New York City, where the comics medium was born.” [Publishers Weekly]
Creators | Michael Cavna talks to two comics creators with very different takes on Occupy Wall Street, sequential journalist Susie Cagle, who was arrested as part of the Occupy Oakland protests, and conservative editorial cartoonist Nate Beeler, who walks past the Occupy D.C. site every day and regards it as “quaint,” smelly, and out of step with the rest of the country.” [Comic Riffs]
Awards | Stan Lee will receive the Producers Guild of America’s 2012 Vanguard Award recognizing achievement in new media and technology. “Stan Lee’s creative vision and imagination has produced some of the most beloved and visually stunning characters and adventures in history,” Producers Guild Awards co-chairs Paula Wagner and Michael Manheim said in a joint statement. “He not only has created content that will forever be in our culture but continues to make strides in the digital and new media realms, keeping the comic book industry fresh and exciting. Stan’s accomplishments truly encompass the spirit of the Vanguard Award and we are proud to honor him.” George Lucas and John Lasseter are among the award’s previous recipients. [press release]
Publishing | Marvel and DC Comics are among the first companies to join Google+ as a part of the Google + Pages initiative, along with other early adopters like the WWE, Angry Birds, The Muppets and Pepsi. Companies that initially joined Google+ back when it first launched had their accounts shut down as Google worked on “building a similarly optimized business experience for Google+” like they had for individuals. Google+ Pages launched yesterday. [The Source, Marvel.com]
Digital | Digital comics distributor iVerse Media has received a $4 million private-equity investment for the expansion of marketing and product development for its Comics+ app. [TechCrunch]
Legal | Susie Cagle, the cartoonist covering Occupy Oakland who was tear-gassed last month, was arrested early Thursday morning during the protests in Oakland. According to her father, cartoonist Daryl Cagle, Susie was being held at Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County, Calif. and was charged with unlawful assembly, even though she was there covering the event and had a press badge. Update: According to her Twitter account, Susie Cagle is out of jail and was charged with a misdemeanor, “present at raid.” [Fishbowl LA]
Legal | Tom Spurgeon offers more details on comic artist Steve Rude’s Halloween altercation, which led to the Nexus creator’s arrest that same night. According to Rude’s wife by way of Spurgeon, Rude was in costume handing out Halloween candy to kids trick-or-treating when his neighbors’ dogs began barking. Rude threw rocks at the neighbors’ fence, which led to a confrontation with them. Rude tore the neighbor’s shirt and pushed him, leading to the assault charges. Rude suffered physical abuse during the arrest and in jail before posting bail. [The Comics Reporter]
The Daily Cross Hatch talks to cartoonist Susie Cagle, who was at Occupy Oakland on Tuesday gathering material for her graphic series about the history of Occupy Oakland, when things turned ugly and the police threw flash grenades and tear gas canisters into the crowd. “As I crouched down to protect myself, a teargas canister rolled right under my face and exploded,” she said. She was helped at the scene by a medic from Anonymous, and she plans to go back; she was shooting a video at the time, which you can view at the site.
The tear-gassing has changed Cagle’s plans:
It was going to be a five-part piece about how different Occupy Oakland is from the rest of the occupation. When the camp was up, it was very different. They were primarily concerned with creating this functional mini-city, rather than doing focused protests and actions, which is very different than the other ones
But as so often happens in the journalism biz, the story has changed out from under her, and she’s going to stick around to see how it plays out. Stay tuned.
Susie Cagle’s What Every Woman Should Know is a good example of how sequential art can mimic a documentary film. Cagle herself went to a First Resort clinic, a “crisis pregnancy center” that provides no medical care, just encouragement to go ahead and have the baby. She brings in big-picture statistics about contraception and abortion rates and interviews with representatives of First Resort and Planned Parenthood to provide a surprisingly complete story in just 18 pages.
The comic has a point of view, but Cagle doesn’t go over the top. She actually makes the point that First Resort does have its place, providing support for women who decide to go ahead with their pregnancies. At the same time, she takes issue with their deceptive practices, advertising themselves as more than they really are and giving women misinformation about their choices.
While I’m a fan of Darryl Cunningham’s non-fiction science comics, often they end up being text boxes with pictures. Cagle takes a more flexible approach, composing each page differently and offering information in different ways. I think this comic shows how powerful sequential storytelling can be—simply reading an article about the First Resort clinic wouldn’t have had the same impact.
Cagle’s comic is hosted at Cartoon Movement, which has become an interesting hub for editorial cartoons and journalistic comics. It’s a site well worth bookmarking.