The Japanese Foreign Ministry has appointed renowned Slam Dunk and Vagabond creator Takehiko Inoue as a Japan-Spain goodwill ambassador to promote the 400th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. According to Crunchyroll News, Inoue will serve as one of three ambassadors between Tuesday and July 31, 2014.
Inoue, whose manga have been published in Spain, last year released Pepita: Takehiko Inoue Meets Gaudi, a hardcover travel diary filled with prose, sketches and artwork inspired by his journey to the Catalan region and the work of architect Antoni Gaudí.
Recipient of the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize and the Media Arts Festival Award, Inoue has been captivated with Gaudi for years. As part of the 400th-anniversary celebration, an exhibition of Inoue’s Gaudi-related work — tentatively titled “Gaudi-Takehiko Inoue Exhibition” — will be held in April in Barcelona.
Inoue’s basketball manga Slam Dunk has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide.
Digital comics | Moulinsart, the company that holds the rights to Herge’s works, has released the complete Tintin comics in digital form. The iOS app is free, and it looks like the comics are $5.99 each, which is pretty reasonable. The catch is that they are all in the original French; it doesn’t appear as if translations are available yet. [Idboox]
Passings | Filipino komiks creator Jesse Santos died April 27 at the age of 83. Santos began his career in 1946 as an artist for the first serialized comic in the Philippines, Halakhak, and moved to the U.S. in the 1960s. He drew the sword-and-sorcery character Dragar the Invincible and took over from Dan Spiegle as artist for The Occult Files of Doctor Spektor. [Komikero Dot Com]
Awards | Were women underrepresented in the first British Comic Awards? With three women and 13 men on the shortlist, some argue they were; Laura Sneddon follows the discussion, including those making that claim and those who responded. [The New Statesman]
Best of the year | Paste magazine lists its 10 best comics of the year, including Hawkeye, Saga and Building Stories. [Paste]
Best of the year | Rachel Cooke focuses on British graphic novels, although a few outsiders creep in as well, for her list of the best graphic novels of 2012. [The Guardian]
As part of its “Human to Hero” series, CNN profiles celebrated artist Takehiko Inoue, creator of the hit manga series Vagabond, Slam Dunk and Real. “If you can have vivid characters, they will make the story themselves. By putting them in certain situations or having one meet another, they naturally make stories by reacting to each other,” he says. “It sounds like a very easy thing. I wish it was.”
Watch the video segment below.
Digital comics | ICv2 estimates the total value of the digital comics market in 2011 as $25 million, triple the 2010 figure, and boldly predicts that digital will account for 10 percent of the entire comics market in 2012. Digital sales grew faster in the second half of the year, which ICv2 attributes to three factors: DC’s decision to release its New 52 comics digitally the same day as print, the industry-wide trend toward same-day print and digital releases, and the proliferation of different platforms on which to read digital comics. As for digital taking away from print, the publishing executives ICv2 has spoken to over the past few months don’t seem to think that is happening. [ICv2]
Retailing | Retailer and journalist Matt Price takes the temperature at the ComicsPRO Annual Members Meeting, which kicks off today in Dallas, noting that members remain interested in DC’s publishing plans, and report “very strong sales” for Image’s Fatale and Thief of Thieves. [Nerdage]
Even as rescue operations continue and officials scramble to avert a nuclear disaster in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on Friday, some manga artists are reaching out to their fans with a message of hope.
Takehiko Inoue, the creator of Vagabond and Slam Dunk, has been posting pictures of ordinary Japanese people smiling with the Twitter hashtags #prayforjapan and #tsunami, as a sort of prayer. Shoujo manga creator Arina Tanemura (Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne, The Gentlemen’s Alliance Cross) also drew one of her characters with a big smile. Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball) posted a lively drawing with a message of support on the Shonen Jump website. And Itou Noizi, who illustrated the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya light novels, has drawn a picture of Haruhi in prayer.
A number of well-known creators, including Naoki Urasawa (Pluto, 20th Century Boys), Natsume Ono (House of Five Leaves) and Kanata Konami (Chi’s Sweet Home) have posted drawings and messages of encouragement at the website of Kodansha’s Morning magazine. Anime News Network has a full list of contributors in English.
Retailing | Diamond Comic Distributors has announced it will close its Los Angeles distribution center in March, with the facility in Olive Branch, Mississippi, taking over its functions. Regional Manager James Nash will relocate from L.A. to Olive Branch. There’s no word on how many jobs will be eliminated in the move, but ICv2 reports that “other staff has been encouraged to apply for positions in Olive Branch after their tenure in Los Angeles ends at the end of March.” [ICv2.com]
Publishing | Following Tuesday’s announcement that Ron Perazza has been named vice president of online for DC Entertainment comes word of two more additions to the department: DC Comics Online Editor Kwanza Johnson will be digital editor for DC Entertainment, and Technology Editor Dave McCullough will become director of online, both based in Burbank, Calif. The department will be headed by former WildStorm Vice President Hank Kanalz, who was promoted in October to senior vice president, digital. Heidi MacDonald also has a letter to freelancers from DC Vice President Terri Cunningham announcing that the Editorial Administration department will become Talent Relations & Services, which will remain in New York City. [Twitter, Twitter]
Creators | Takehiko Inoue announced he’s placing his award-winning samurai adventure Vagabond on hiatus because of ongoing health problems. The manga has been serialized since 1998 in Kodansha’s Weekly Morning magazine and collected in 32 volumes; 31 of those have been released in the United States. Inoue will continue to work on his basketball manga Real, which is released at the more leisurely pace of about one volume per year. [The Eastern Edge, via Journalista]
Publishing | Todd Allen looks at moves by comics publishers to partner with OverDrive to make single-issue comics available to libraries as e-books: “With some 11,000 libraries being supplied digital material from OverDrive, this market offers a significant chance to get comics in front of new readers. According to the July 2010 sales estimates at ICV2, the Marvel Adventures version of Spider-Man sells 6,347 copies; Marvel Adventures Super Heroes sells 4,564. For a small publisher like Moonstone, the chance for more exposure is even greater.” [Publishers Weekly]
Awards | The Xeric Foundation has announced its grant recipients for spring 2010: Margaret Ashford-Trotter, Thunder in the Building #2; Jason Brubaker, reMIND; Jonathon Dalton, Lords of Life and Death; Wei Li, Lotus Root Children; Jed McGowan, Lone Pine; Ansis Purins, Zombre #2: The Magic Forest; and Brittney Sabo and Anna Bratton, Francis Sharp in the Grip of the Uncanny! Book 1. A total of $32,761 was awarded for the seven projects. The next deadline for comic-book grants is Sept. 30. [via The Beat]
Creators | The Washington Post has named Olivia Walch, a 21-year-old rising senior at the College of William and Mary, as the winner of the America’s Next Great Cartoonist contest. [Comic Riffs]
Publishing | The big news of the day, obviously, is DC Comics’ entry into the digital-distribution arena with its comiXology-developed application for the iPad, iPhone and iPad Touch. CBR’s Kiel Phegley gets the details from Co-Publisher Jim Lee and John Rood, executive vice president of sales, marketing and business development. (ComiXology is already updating the app to fix a bug that apparently caused early iPhones and iPods to crash.)
David Brothers has early analysis, looking as day-and-date digital release for Justice League: Generation Lost, and a tiered pricing structure. Meanwhile, Matthew Maxwell writes: “… This does mean that both of the Big Two are now officially putting pinkie toes, if not entire feet into the pool. But who will jump in along with them?” We’ll round up more reactions later today. [Comic Book Resources]
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]