Publishing | Declaring this “the year of The Walking Dead,” the retail news and analysis site ICv2 notes the $60 Compendium volumes One and Two could “easily” be the top-selling graphic novels of 2012. Those two books also topped the Nielsen BookScan chart of graphic novels sold in bookstores in November, joined by six other collections from the acclaimed horror series in the Top 20. Chris Ware’s $50 Building Stories, which has emerged on best-of lists as one of the books — and the graphic novel — of 2012, was No. 3 in November, followed by DC Comics’ Superman: Earth One, Vol. 2, and, in a surprise Top 20 appearance by Marvel, the $75 Avengers Vs. X-Men hardcover at No. 5. [ICv2]
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 | The final print edition of the 75-year-old children’s comic The Dandy arrives Tuesday, featuring a cameo by none other than Paul McCartney. When it was announced the publication would move online, McCartney wrote the editors explaining it was his lifelong dream to appear in the comic; tomorrow he’ll be seen along with Desperate Dan. [Daily Mail, Daily Mail]
Passings | Jeff Millar, the co-creator, with Bill Hinds, of the comic strip Tank McNamara, has died at the age of 70. [Houston Chronicle]
Comics | The editor-in-chief of the Boston Phoenix denies accusations that the alternative weekly canceled Karl Stevens‘ satirical comic Failure because advertiser Anheuser-Busch was offended by last week’s strip, which referred to Bud Light as “diluted horse piss.” Stevens, whose comic has appeared on ThePhoenix.com since 2009, claims he was told by the art director that Failure was being canceled specifically because of the Bud Light jab. “Apparently I offended Bud Light, and cannot be trusted,” Steven told Publishers Weekly. However, Editor-in-Chief Carly Carioli called the accusation “categorically false,” insisting Failure was canceled because it no longer fit The Phoenix, which has changed from a weekly newspaper to a weekly magazine. “It is categorically false that Karl’s strip was discontinued due to any outside objections. As the Phoenix’s editor in chief, it was my sole decision to discontinue Failure,” Carioli told The Boston Globe. “There were no sponsor objections — zero — to this strip or any other that I’m aware of.” [Publishers Weekly, The Boston Globe]
The U.K. comics scene continues its angst-ridden inner debate following news that The Dandy will cease print publication in December. For the living legend John Wagner, it’s a matter of regret close to shame that a comics institution of nearly 75 years will end on our watch. Others see the debate as hand-wringing — “pious sackcloth-and-ashes nonsense” to quote one U.K. comics writer on Facebook — that, between technological advances and the Darwinism of the newsstand, the kids have spoken: Comics are no longer the chosen literature of children, so move on. Publisher DC Thomson certainly seem to have — The Dandy‘s website now makes no mention of the print comic at all, linking purely to the Apple App store.
For some creators, the debate is more about spotting a widening hole in the market, and developing a product to fill that niche. So far, the following cartoonists have waded in on this theme:
Crowdfunding | Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal, raised $1 million in just over a week on Indiegogo to help fund the restoration of Nikola Tesla‘s laboratory as a museum, surpassing the $850,000 goal. “THANK YOU SO GODDAMN MUCH,” Inman wrote on his blog. “WE ARE GOING TO BUILD A GODDAMN TESLA MUSEUM.” There are still 34 days left in the funding campaign. [The Associated Press, The Oatmeal]
Publishing | Warren Simons, executive editor of Valiant Entertainment, discusses gathering the talent for the Valiant relaunch, refining the characters for modern-day tastes, and keeping the books accessible to new readers. He also gives some hints about what to expect from Valiant’s upcoming series Shadowman. [Previews World]
The Dandy may look like just another wacky kids’ comic to American readers, but it is as deep in the British DNA as Archie is here, and last week’s announcement that publisher DC Thomson will cease print publication of the 75-year-old comic drew an array of responses from different quarters.
Charlie Brooker of The Guardian may be unique in thinking that the move from print to digital is a good thing for The Dandy; of course, he never liked the comic to begin with, and he accuses it of not keeping up with the times:
Why is The Dandy going all-digital? Because it’s a magazine for children, and today’s children don’t seem to want magazines any more than I wanted a 1920s whirligig when I was their age. Kids today have Moshi Monsters and the Nerf Vortex Nitron Blaster. Traditional ink on paper looks like medieval tapestry to them.
Brooker clearly hasn’t read The Dandy in a few years, as it is not the dated fossil he portrays it as; on the contrary, it has been home to some bright new talent in the past few years, and creator Jamie Smart (who draws their most beloved legacy character, Desperate Dan), called on those creators to start their own comic:
Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our guest today is Caleb Goellner, pug lover and senior editor of ComicsAlliance.
To see what Caleb and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Digital comics | The Japanese web portal JManga today launched an unlimited-access site JManga7, although it won’t be putting any actual content on it until October. Unlike JManga, which sells digital manga one volume at a time, JManga7 operates on an “all-you-can-eat” model, with single chapters of a variety of titles available for free, and a wider selection with a paid subscription. The site will be updated daily and will include a mix of genres, with some new content that is being published close to its Japanese release date as well as some older series. The idea is for readers to check out the manga at JManga7 and ultimately buy them for keeps at JManga. To encourage readers to pre-register, JManga is raffling off seven Nexus 7 tablets and seven free subscriptions. Plans for the site were unveiled last month at Comic-Con International in an exclusive interview with Comic Book Resources. [JManga]
Rumors have been flying that DC Thomson was considering shutting down The Dandy, and today the publisher confirmed the news, announcing it will cease print publication of the United Kingdom’s longest-running comic following the Dec. 4 release of the 75th anniversary issue.
It’s strictly a matter of numbers, with the magazine selling fewer than 8,000 copies each week. This may not be curtains for The Dandy, however: It appears the comic will continue in digital form, with chief executive Ellis Watson telling The Guardian that, “It’s what comes online then that will set the tone for the next 75 years.” Perhaps there The Dandy will find the larger audience it deserves. The website was taken down a few days ago to deter potential hackers, but the current incarnation invites visitors to leave their e-mails so they can be “the first to know,” which implies there may be news in the future.
The Dandy writer Lew Stringer offered his reactions to The Dandy‘s possible demise, and urged people to pick up a copy of the comic, although he acknowledged that may not be easy to do, as many newsagents no longer carry it. Artist Jamie Smart had an article in The Guardian about why The Dandy is important, and he has more at his blog:
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 first double-down on creator-owned comics with Butcher Baker, Righteous Maker #8 (Image, $2.99) and Saga #6 (Image, $2.99). I’m glad to see Joe Casey and Mike Huddleston back on Butcher Baker after a hiatus in which I feared it was no more, and I’ve just pulled out #1-7 to get me back up to speed. I’m thinking that taking hallucinogenics would make me enjoy this comic more. On the other side, Saga #6 is flat-out amazing in the most conventional way (despite the unconventional setting). Aliens, ghosts and babies, and yet Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples bring it all together. At this point I’ve shifted into the The Walking Dead mode of reading – no point in reading about what’s ahead, as I’ll just buy it blindly on the great comics they’ve done so far. After that creator-owned two-fer, I’d give Marvel the rest of my money with Uncanny X-Force #29 (Marvel, $3.99) and Avengers vs. X-Men #10 (Marvel, $3.99). I think Marvel’s finally found a suitable replacement for Jerome Opena in artist Julian Totino Tedesco, and I hope he’s locked in to finish out this arc. And speaking of Rick Remender’s work, I spent about 15 minutes conversing the other day about how and why he should’ve been enlisted into Marvel’s Architects and worked into Avengers Vs. X-Men. While the group-written approach takes some getting used to, I’d love to see Remender do an issue of this. In Avengers Vs. X-Men #10 (Marvel, $3.99) however, we see Ed Brubaker taking the lead and showing the Phoenix Force Five venturing into K’un L’un for what seems like the Empire Strikes Back moment of the series.
If I had $30, I’d turn back in all my $15 purchases except Saga #6 and spend the recouped $25-plus dollars and get Hulk: Season One HC (Marvel, $24.99). I’ve never been the biggest Hulk fan, but seeing the previews of Tom Fowler’s art on this has won me over. Fowler, like the above mentioned Tedesco, is one of Marvel’s hidden gems and this might be the launching pad for him to (finally) get some recognition. And for me to get some good comics. Fowler SMASH!
If I could splurge, I’d do the boring choice and simply use it to buy all the single issues mentioned in the $15 section and be able to also afford Hulk: Season One HC. Easy, breezy, beautiful, comics boy.
The long-lived children’s comic The Beano has a new look (and a new subtitle: The Beano starring Dennis the Menace and Gnasher). Comics artist Lew Stringer takes a look inside at some of the changes. Nigel Parkinson takes over on Dennis the Menace, who will start to be menacing again; his character was watered down a while ago, but apparently the editors have started listening to 8-year-old boys, which is a good thing in this case. And several of the long-lived comics have had art changes. Only 19 of this issue’s 36 pages are comics, though.
• Stringer also reviews a history of The Dandy, which has the same parentage as The Beano but in recent years has become the edgier of the two (i.e. more fart jokes). It looks like The Beano may be evening things out a bit in that regard. John Freeman posts a lengthier review of the book at Down the Tubes.
• Jeremy Briggs talks to the organizers of Carlisle Mega-Con, a new convention taking place next weekend. As the organizers are also staffers at the local Waterstone’s, they have some insight into local tastes; interestingly, manga and superhero comics are both popular, but customers really prefer “genre books with a dark edge to them such as Vertigo.”
First, a heads-up on the British Invasion of Toronto: This weekend, Toronto Comics Art Festival will host a number of creators from the United Kingdom, including Sean Azzopardi (Necessary Monsters), Darryl Cunningham (Psychiatric Tales), Joe Decie (Accidental Salad), Tom Gauld (Goliath), Lizz Lunney (Depressed Cat: Nine Miserable Lives) and Luke Pearson (Hilda and the Midnight Giant). Publishers Blank Slate, Nobrow Press and SelfMadeHero will also be in attendance. I ran into some other British creators at MoCCA this weekend; you’ll be hearing about that shortly.
Comics | Gary Northfield shows off some of the art from his comic Gary’s Garden, which runs in the weekly children’s comic The Phoenix:
Part autobiography, part made-up nonsense (well, mainly completely made-up nonsense to be fair), Gary’s Garden delves into my favourite thing ever – me spying on the comings and goings of all the little dudes and dudettes who dwell in my garden.
This makes me wish more fervently than ever that The Phoenix would get an app or somehow make itself available outside the UK, digitally or on paper. Adding to my pain: Jim Medway offers a peek at his new comic Chip Charlton & Mr. Woofles of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Britain’s Royal Mail is releasing a set of 10 stamps today featuring a diverse group of comics characters from British comics. They’re available to those outside the U.K. as well and feature internationally famous characters like Judge Dredd and Dan Dare in addition to less-known folks like Roy Race and The Four Marys. There’s also a Dennis the Menace in the set (he’s the one appearing in front of the Beano comic), but don’t confuse him with the U.S. character created by Hank Ketcham. Though both characters debuted within a week of each other in March 1951, they’re different boys.
To see the full gallery of stamps, visit the BBC website.