DC's "Rebirth" Roster Could Look Very Familiar
Welcome to Store Tour, ROBOT 6’s weekly exploration of comics shops, and the people who run them. Each Sunday we feature a different store, and also get to know the person behind the register.
This week’s store is Little Island Comics, located at 742 Bathurst St. in Toronto, Ontario. We spoke with store manager Andrew Woodrow-Butcher.
The Toronto Reference Library has been the host venue for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) since 2009, and now visitors can sample some of what TCAF has to offer year-round with at the library’s own festival-affiliated comic shop.
Comics | Check your longboxes, folks: Copies of Marvel’s Sunfire & Big Hero 6 #1, from 1998, with a CGC grade of 9.8 are selling for $450 and up ahead of the premiere of the Disney animated film, and even non-graded copies are good for $25 or more. [ICv2]
Creators | Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick talks about the character, and her reaction to the newly announced Marvel film: “I feel so proud of her, like Carol is this person who lives in my head, and ‘look what you did, girl!’ It feels like a friend just got a promotion.” [Speakeasy]
Publishing | Chris Butcher announced that, after three years as marketing director, he’s left UDON Entertainment to focus more fully on his work for the Toronto store The Beguiling (where he’s manager) and the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (where he’s festival director). [Comics212]
In conjunction with the return of Peter Parker next Wednesday in the relaunched Amazing Spider-Man #1, respected Toronto comic store The Beguiling will auction off copies of the hero’s first two appearances: 1963’s Amazing Fantasy #15 and The Amazing Spider-Man #1.
“These two books are what you might call ‘Holy Grail’ books for comic book collectors,” The Beguiling owner Peter Birkemoe said in a statement. “They’re two of the most valuable and sought-after issues from the Silver Age of comics, and we’ve had tons of interest already from fans looking to add them to their collections.”
Comics | DC Comics’ Senior Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne and Vice President of Marketing John Cunningham discuss October sales, the date change for Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and variant covers. Although the company is releasing 52 variants for Justice League of America #1, DC plans to cut back on variants in its other lines. “We’re going to pull back and drop variants from a handful of titles in the next solicitation cycle to pull back that number ourselves, where it didn’t seem the variant was making a substantial difference in the buy-in for the book or the perception of books,” Wayne said. “We’ll be looking at the remaining titles that have variants the following month.” [ICv2]
Comics | Speaking of variant covers, Tim Beyers of The Motley Fool discusses the dos and don’ts of buying variant covers as an investment. [Daily Finance]
Legal | EC Comics writer and editor Al Feldstein and the estate of Mad editor and artist Harvey Kurtzman have taken steps to reclaim the copyright to their early work under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 (the same provision invoked by the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster). Feldstein has already reached an agreement with the William M. Gaines Agency, which holds the rights to Tales from the Crypt and other classic EC comics of the 1950s; the deal will bring him a small amount of money and the freedom to use the art any way he wants in his autobiography. Kurtzman’s people are in the early stages of negotiations with Warner Bros./DC Comics, which holds the rights to Mad magazine. [The Comics Journal]
Graphic novels | BookScan’s Top 20 graphic novels list for October makes for strange bedfellows, with The Walking Dead Compendium Two at No. 1, Chris Ware’s Building Stories at No. 2, and the third volume of Gene Yang’s Avatar: The Last Airbender at No. 3. It’s an interestingly mixed list, with the usual sprinkling of manga (Sailor Moon, Naruto, Bleach), a volume of Stephan Pastis’ Pearls Before Swine compilations, and four more volumes of The Walking Dead. And bringing up the rear, at #20, the perennial Watchmen. [ICv2]
Throwing our lot in with “graphic novels” as the focus of the store years ago as opposed to “pop culture,” “superheroes” and associated merchandise seems to have been a winning strategy for this past decade. I don’t know if it was motivated by market insight so much as the fact I am passionate about comics as a medium but have limited personal interest in contemporary pop culture or toys, etc. With an e-book future ahead, I’m not sure if this will continue to pay off.
—Peter Birkemoe, owner of Toronto’s much-beloved comics shop The Beguiling (which is also a thriving original art dealership and co-sponsor of the Toronto Comic Art Festival), on the pros and cons of his store’s approach to the comics medium. I like the way Birkemoe frames his store’s business model as a matter of personal preference rather than a declaration that it’s the One True Path; I like the concise way he describes it, because when the decision was made it wasn’t so much brilliantly simple as riskily simple; and I’m a bit dismayed by his concerns about the digital future, which I’d never really considered as an obstacle for excellent stores like The Beguiling in quite that way before.
The quote comes from Tom Spurgeon’s holiday interview with Birkemoe, which is well worth your time in its entirety, even if only for the image of store manager and longtime blogosphere fixture Christopher Butcher being sent out into the world on various missions like the funnybook James Bond to Birkemoe’s M.
Retailers | Little Island Comics — “the first kids comic book store in North America–maybe even the world” — opens its doors today in Toronto. The store is owned and operated by The Beguiling, and is located around the corner from the flagship store. The store will hold an official grand opening in a few weeks. [The Comics Reporter]
Publishing | DC Comics co-publisher and Justice League artist Jim Lee discusses his work on DC’s flagship title, which came out in digital form last Wednesday, the same day it hit comic shops. “It’s also setting records digitally. I can’t give numbers, but on the first day it set a record for us,” Lee tells Heidi MacDonald.
That leads Tom Spurgeon to throw a flag on the play: “… it looks like DC won’t be releasing its New 52 digital numbers but will feel confident in making claims on their behalf. It also looks like comics sites will then repeat this claim as news, perhaps qualified by source or as a claim but still putting that information out there. This should stop. I think DC has a really dubious history with using the hidden portions of their numbers to PR advantage — call it the ‘I have a girlfriend in Canada’ of sales analysis. My take is that this practice has intensified slightly ever since the numbers have become smaller and therefore more crucial. When in the 1990s sales on mainstream comics dipped to the point where people questioned the profitability of certain issues of certain titles, perhaps leading to a line of analysis about mainstream publishers making books at a loss for market share advantages or to knock other comics from the limited stand space, we were sometimes assured that there were sales elsewhere we didn’t know about that pushed certain comics over this projected threshold.” [Salon, The Comics Reporter]
The Beguiling is not just a comic shop up in Toronto — they’re also an original art dealer for many top art-comix and indy cartoonists. And they’ll be selling some of that artwork in San Diego this week.
Our buddy Chris Butcher, who shared what he’s been reading with us this past Sunday, sent word that The Beguiling will be selling art in Drawn + Quarterly’s booth, #1629, during the show. Some of the artists who will be represented include Seth, Paul Pope, Jeff Lemire, Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon, Becky Cloonan, Anders Nilsen, Jason Lutes and many more. Check out the entire press release after the jump.
Renowned Canadian comics retailer and art dealer the Beguiling has just made a massive selection of original art from Paul Pope available for purchase. Virtually everything that the cartoonist has touched over the past ten years is represented here in some form: THB, Batman Year 100, Spider-Man: Tangled Web, Strange Tales, Fantastic Four, the Star Trek comic he did with J.J. Abrams for Wired, illustration work for Diesel and DKNY, posters for the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, unseen and unused sketches and pinups…Best of all, there’s something for buyers of nearly every budget, as the prices range from a princely three grand all the way down to a measly $50.
“I remember how it felt to be a kid in school and have no money but a passion for art so Beguiling always prices out some inexpensive art,” Pope tweeted, complete with a smiley-face emoticon. Even if you’re only just looking, this stuff’ll put a smile on your face, too. But if you are in the buying mood, better hurry, as it looks like stuff’s going fast.
Regular readers of Robot 6 will not be surprised to read we’re fans of Jim Rugg‘s work. Rugg and I recently did an email interview regarding his latest collaboration with Brian Maruca, Afrodisiac (AdHouse). The book is described here as: “Inspired by the blaxploitation films of the 1970s and classic superhero comics, the Afrodisiac collects art and comics starring the original super badass and featuring cool cars, sexy women, scary monsters, self-righteous superheroes, corrupt cops, aliens, Dracula, Richard Nixon.” Any interview so deeply focused on an unforgettable independent work of this caliber is a blast–partially also thanks to the wacky turns our discussion takes, including into the realm of Wolverine. My thanks to Rugg for his time and to longtime pal of mine (as well as a great publisher), AdHouse’s Chris Pitzer, for his assistance in arranging the interview.
Tim O’Shea: Before getting into the guts of the book, one quick question on the back cover. Who had the idea to do the female silhouette glaze (or what would it be called) on the back cover?
Jim Rugg: It’s called a spot varnish, son. When we figured out the front cover design, Chris Pitzer (Adhouse Books publisher and all-around awesome design guru) suggested a spot varnish for the glasses. That sounded great to me. So I wanted to take advantage of the spot varnish on the back too. But the illustration on the back didn’t really lend itself to the same treatment as the front. I wasn’t sure the back cover effect would work, but figured it was the back cover. Give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised by how it turned out.