Creators | Ahead of the premiere of Kick-Ass 2, Abraham Reisman profiles Mark Millar, with an emphasis on his subversion of the genre — and the new prominence he’s about to achieve with the films based on his comics: “By decade’s end, he’ll have had more of his creations translated into movie form than any comics writer other than Stan Lee.” The piece also includes criticism of his work, with Colin Smith observing, ““Millar does indeed have a history of producing work which represents less powerful groups in an insensitive, and often deeply insensitive, manner. There are massive contradictions between his words and actions as a private citizen and the apparent politics of some of his books.”[The New Republic]
Conventions | Matt Arado looks forward to this coming weekend’s Wizard World Chicago Comic Con (it’s actually in Rosemont) with some creator interviews and a look at the way the con has evolved over the years. [Daily Herald]
To help mark the 20th anniversary of Strangers in Paradise, Terry Moore is at last releasing a softcover version of the mammoth omnibus collection, featuring two books (2,128 total pages) in a boxed slipcase. A hardcover edition was published five years ago, but burned through its 1,250 copies immediately.
“To make that edition, I carefully went over every page and corrected art, spelling, errors, removed all censorship (words and images) and I rearranged some scenes to put them in perfect chronological order,” Moore writes on his blog. “No other tpb or pocket edition got this final edit. The story reads perfectly. The Omnibus is my final version.”
Priced at $100 — “That’s 4 cents a page for a labor of love I spent 14 years making,” he explains — the Strangers in Paradise Omnibus also will have a limited run: Moore and his wife, and Abstract Studio publisher, Robyn have committed to printing 5,000 copies — and it’s being solicited in April for a June release. All pre-orders receive an exclusive print.
“I really need fan support on this!” Moore writes. “Please, pre-order from us or put serious, persistent pressure on your comic shop—they have so many other books to think about. You have to DEMAND this book from your retailers in advance or you’re going to be left empty-handed. If they won’t order it, don’t argue—many shops only order from the Top 100 list — just order direct from us or a SiP friendly retailer on-line. There are many to choose from! It’s VERY important we sell this book. We’re financially committed and can’t back out. Even if retailers/Diamond order only 10 copies, Robyn and I will still print this book, because we believe in our fans. But if orders and sales are low, this will be our Hindenberg.”
To see what Ethan and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our guest today is writer and artist Jimmy Palmiotti, who you know from All-Star Western, Monolith, Phantom Lady, Unknown Soldier, Creator-Owned Heroes, Queen Crab and countless more.
To see what Jimmy and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Now available On Demand, the documentary Comic Book Independents by director Chris Brandt receives wider distribution at an interesting time. In the midst of a migration of comic book creators from work-for-hire to creator-owned projects, and just as a renewed discussion about creator rights gains momentum, this documentary offers fascinating insight on what it means to go it alone in comics.
It’s not your usual comics documentary, and if you’re a creative type yourself, or are interested by those who are, you’ll probably find yourself inspired. Framed by information from cognitive psychologist Dr. James Kaufman, the human process of creativity as it is realized in comics is broken down and explored by some of the art form’s most interesting thinkers and voices.
Between Warner Bros.’ screening of the tear-inducing first footage from Man of Steel and Marvel Studios’ confirmation of Guardians of the Galaxy, the third day of Comic-Con International clearly belonged to movies. However, that doesn’t mean there were no comic-book announcements to emerge Saturday from San Diego. Here are some of the highlights:
• Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino crashed DC Comics’ Before Watchmen panel to reveal the publisher will release a five-issue miniseries based on the screenplay of his upcoming Western Django Unchained. The comic will debut in November, ahead of the film’s Dec. 25 opening.
• Image Comics unveiled a slate of new projects, including: The Bounce, by Joe Casey and David Messina; Satellite Sam, by Matt Fraction and Howard Chaykin; Lazarus, by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark; The Saviors, James Robinson and J. Bone; Oliver, by Gary Whitta and Darick Robertson; Pretty Deadly, by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Emma Rios; Sex, by Casey and Piotr Kowalski; Non-Humans, by Glen Brunswick and Whilce Portacio; Reign, by Chris Roberson and artist Paul Mayberry; Nowhere Men, by Eric Stephenson, Nate Bellegarde and Jordie Bellaire; Multiple Warheads, by Brandon Graham; Point of Impact, by Jay Faerber; and Great Pacific, by Joe Harris and Martin Morazzo.
Thursday may have started a bit slow in the news department, but it sure ended with a huge bang. Here’s a roundup of announcements that hit today from Comic-Con International in San Diego:
• Neil Gaiman announced via video that he will write a new Sandman miniseries that will detail what happened to Morpheus to allow him to be so easily captured in The Sandman #1. J.H. Williams III will provide the art. “It was a story that we discussed telling for Sandman‘s 20th anniversary,” Gaiman said, “but the time got away from us. And now, with Sandman‘s 25th anniversary year coming up, I’m delighted, and nervous, that that story is finally going to be told.” The series will be published by Vertigo sometime next year.
• Legendary will also publish the Majestic Files by J. Michael Straczynski, which will feature art by Geoff Shaw and Matt Banning.
• Terry Moore will write a Strangers in Paradise prose novel to coincide with the comic’s 20th anniversary next year. He also plans to do an all-ages comic after Rachel Rising finishes in 30-40 issues.
Creators | Stan Lee will cut his visit to this weekend’s Dallas Comic-Con short and has canceled his appearance at Monday’s Hero Complex Film Festival. A spokesman for POW! Entertainment said Lee, 89, is distraught and depressed after the death of Arthur Lieberman, one of his business associates at POW!, and is also fatigued after multiple appearances promoting The Avengers. Lee will appear Saturday at the Dallas Comic-Con, but not on Sunday. [Hero Complex]
Publishing | Todd Allen notes that DC Comics has dropped some titles from its subscription service, including Aquaman, Batwoman and Swamp Thing. The move seems to be motivated by low sales in that channel, and Allen takes that as evidence DC is being cost-conscious. They are offering substitute series to subscribers, but it’s not clear what the logic is behind the substitutions. DC has also just launched a web store that sells lots of merch and a handful of graphic novels. [The Beat]
Mark Waid has started his new blog on digital comics with a summary of the problems facing print publishers. He kicks it off by noting that Diamond has a monopoly on comics distribution, and then goes on to a pretty scary summary of the math of publishing a print comic:
Typically, a non-Premier publisher sells its wares to Diamond at 40-45% of cover price. Let’s say 40%. You’re one of those publishers. That means that if your comic is cover-priced at $3.99 (which, at the moment, seems to be the average bottom threshold), you’re making roughly $1.60 per copy. Which actually doesn’t sound too awful, right? Let’s say you’re not a Bendis- or Millar-level sales superstar but neither are you a total unknown, so you’re selling 5000-6000 copies of each issue, very respectable in this day and age. Less if you’re a brand-new creator with no track record among retailers, but for argument’s sake, let’s say 5-6K. That’s, what, eight or nine grand gross?
But here’s the big bite: at those print-run levels, that comic is costing you around a dollar a copy just to print. Maybe a little more, maybe a little less. What’s that? You’ve decided to forego expensive color for cheaper black and white? You’d be surprised how little that lowers the cost. Printing, shipping, and various related charges–that’s where you’re spending more than half your income. More than half. Not on creative, not on marketing, not on advertising, not on all of that put together. On printing the damn thing.
Terry Moore fans have recently been greeted with a variety of opportunities to support his work recently–given that on March 28, comiXology released the first half of Moore’s Harvey award-winning, adventure series Echo (which ran from 2008—2011) for all of the company’s digital platforms (iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire and the Web). As noted by Moore in anticipation of the release: “comiXology is releasing issues 1-15, plus the first three TPB collections. Issue one is just .99 cents. The remaining issues are $1.99 each. The first TPB, Moon Lake is just $6.99 and also comes with bonus material: aka sketches and designs”). Also on March 28, Robert Kirkman offered readers a five-page preview of Moore’s current creator-owned horror ongoing, Rachel Rising, in The Walking Dead 95. Later this month, folks will be able to buy the first Rachel Rising TPB, The Shadow of Death. This Wednesday, comiXology will release the remainder of the Echo series (issues 16-30, and the final three TPBs). I respect the fact that Moore is making sure to maintain a strong relationship with the brick-and-mortor retailers that have supported his work throughout his career, while not turning a blind eye to the potential gains of digital distribution. We talk about that, as well as Rachel Rising in general–as well as his How to Draw projects. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Moore someday hopes to see his work released in full color–and that he approaches his black and white current projects with that hopeful inevitability in mind.
Tim O’Shea: How did Robert Kirkman broach the possibility of previewing Rachel Rising in Walking Dead? What was your initial reaction to his proposal?
Terry Moore: It actually started with Eric Stephenson. We were both at Comics PRO in Dallas recently and Eric told me he liked Rachel Rising. That’s great, I said. Back home, I got an email from him telling me Robert liked it too, and they offered me the preview in an upcoming issue of The Walking Dead. I was thrilled, because it’s a great opportunity to reach new readers, especially with an endorsement. Such a great break for Rachel.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d skip lunch and dig in to the overdue Choker #6 (Image, $3.99). I almost considered waiting for the trade on this one, but I know once I see the shiny object in front of me in stores I’ll want to find out the ending to Ben McCool and Ben Templesmith’s story. After that I’d get Uncanny X-Force #23 (Marvel, $3.99), which still holds the crown for my favorite current Marvel book. I was hesitant of Remender & co. going off into Otherworld despite my fascination with the realm going back to my Excalibur days, but I’m being rewarded with good story for my allegiance. The only thing it’s missing is an appendix reminding me of older stories that he references here. Last up would be a two-fer with Spaceman #5 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99) and Walking Dead #95 (Image, $2.99). I’ve talked about both at length here, and they continue to buffet me with greatness.
If I had $30, I’d first snag Daredevil #10 (Marvel, $2.99) to see more of Paolo Rivera’s work over the solid storytelling by Mark Waid. Then, I’d rub my eyes to make sure I’m not seeing things and pick-up the 5+ year delayed book Sharknife, Vol. 2 (Oni, $11.99). I’ve been a big fan of Corey’s work back when he was doing inspired Mega Man rip-offs, and the chance that I’ll finally see this sequel is exciting and heartbreaking. I hope the quality of the book inside is enough to stave off my feelings about the severe delay the book had.
And for splurging, I’d spend my CBR paycheck on Gone To Amerikay (DC/Vertigo, $24.99). This book is at the intersection of three reasons I’d buy it: Colleen Doran, Derek McCulloch and historical Irish narratives. I’d hold McCulloch’s Stagger Lee up to any graphic novel of the past decade in terms of skill and potency, so to see him pair that with Colleen Doran’s crafty linework bears my immediate attention.
Terry Moore announced on his blog last week that he will release his comics digitally via comiXology, beginning with Strangers in Paradise and hopefully going on to Rachel Rising, his current series. Actually, he lets one of his would-be readers, Aaron, do most of the talking:
I went to Bedrock Comics today, asked about Rachel Rising #5, and was told that they only ordered two copies, and both were pre-orders. The shopkeeper said when the book first came out, he ordered more, based on track record, but they didn’t sell. I simply don’t have the time to go searching around, and I don’t buy enough comics to warrant a pull list. I’m not sure what the problem is that there “isn’t a single penny” for you with digital, but I’d buy PDFs straight from this site if I could. Unfortunately, I can’t justify $6.99 plus shipping for a comic….
There is something profoundly wrong with the distribution system when a title from a leading creator can’t be found at a comic store in a major metropolitan area. I can’t see how digital would be any worse for you, and it would be a lot better for me (and I’m betting plenty of others). I want to support your work, but it shouldn’t be this difficult.
This is the problem, in a nutshell, for independent creators like Moore. I’m sure if Aaron were looking for the latest DC or Marvel title, there would be no problem, but it’s hard for retailers to take a risk on titles that may not sell — or that don’t sell well for the first couple of issues. You can’t blame them for that, but it presents an obstacle to new or alternative creators whose work may take a while to catch on. Moore isn’t abandoning print, or the direct market, but he’s a good example of a creator who will probably add readers with digital.
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes and first issues so that we don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “Batwoman is still awesome!” every month. And we’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.
One cool change this month and for the foreseeable future: I’m joined by Graeme McMillan who’ll also be pointing out his favorites.
Finally, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist – I admit, I tend to run hot and cold on Clowes’ output, but I’m a sucker for coffee-table career retrospectives, so the idea of taking 224 pages to look back at his career to date (with, of course, the traditional little-seen artwork and commentary) seems like a must-look at the very least. [Graeme]
Rachel Rising, Volume 1: The Shadow of Death – Terry Moore’s latest series gets its first collection and I love the premise of a woman’s waking up in a shallow grave with no memory of how she got there and needing to figure out who tried to kill to her. [Michael]
Legal | The Los Angeles Times reports that the Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Toby G. Scammell with insider trading. Scammell has been accused of using confidential information “surreptitiously gleaned” from his girlfriend to make $192,000 off of Disney’s 2009 acquisition of Marvel Entertainment. Scammell’s girlfriend was an intern working in the corporate strategy department at Disney. [Los Angeles Times]
Comics | Heidi MacDonald rounds up questions creators have raised about the Womanthology project, which raised $109,000 on Kickstarter, specifically about how the extra money will be used and whether the creators who are involved will be paid. Organizer Renae De Liz has posted additional details on the Womanthology site. [The Beat]
Conventions | Wizard World Chicago Comic Con gets into full swing today in Rosemont, Illinois. Comics guests include Brian Azzarello, Jim Cheung, Mike Deodato Jr., Gary Friedrich, Patrick Gleason, Mike Grell, Dave Johnson, Ariel Olivetti, Eduardo Risso, Bill Sienkiewicz and Ethan Van Sciver. The Chicago Sun-Times briefly spotlights attending artists Ivan Brunetti and Don Kramer, while the Daily Herald interviews Brunetti and Nate Powell. [Wizard World]
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.
It’s a week where I’m happily embracing the superhero of it all. If I had $15, I’d go for the fifth issue of Marvel’s Fear Itself ($3.99), mostly because I’m this far in and I’ll probably keep going just to see how it turns out instead of actually enjoying it, as well as the first issue of “Spider Island” in Amazing Spider-Man #667 (Marvel, $3.99) to continue my love/hate relationship with Dan Slott’s Spider-Man run. But when it comes to full-on nostalgia, DC has me in the palm of its hand with DC Retroactive: Justice League of America – The ’80s #1 (DC, $4.99). No joke: The Justice League Detroit era is one of those guilty pleasures that I not only can’t explain, but also can’t resist – Gerry Conway revisiting that failed team for a new one-shot (especially with art by Ron Randall) is something that I literally can’t help myself but pick up.