The Dark Knight Rises
Is the goal for comics to become a mainstream form of entertainment an unattainable goal? That seemed to be the angle Tom Spurgeon took on Monday’s Deconstructing Comics podcast and in his additional commentary at The Comics Reporter. He feels the industry is better served by regaining a few hundred thousand more devoted readers to restore unit sales to mid-six-figure levels. While comics have shown there is longevity in niche markets, that doesn’t eliminate the possibility of also attaining a larger readership.
With March’s estimated direct market sales figures showing yet another double-digit month of growth, manga publishers giving anecdotal reports of the manga market stabilizing, and something of a convention boom going on, there’s no better time than now to re-examine how comics can secure a healthy and vibrant future. Taking advantage of this growth is tricky because, as Spurgeon mentions, no one is exactly sure why the turnaround happened. Although people complain about DC Comics’ New 52 being a mess and Marvel crossovers not having the punch of the Civil War days, overall sales are rebounding. Was it digital comics? Was it the mainstream press for the New 52 or Marvel NOW, or some other stunt? Is it the Hollywood movies?
Gather ‘round, kiddos, because we begin with another tale of Gen-X adolescence!
From 1977 through 1986, I grew from a snot-nosed third-grade punk into a snot-nosed (I had allergies) high-school senior, accompanied along the way by at least one big-budget sci-fi/fantasy movie milestone.* Specifically, right in the middle of the run were three sequels by which every self-respecting fan swears: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Superman II (released in the United States in 1981) and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). Each built on its predecessor using darker elements and/or more “mature” themes, because each had the sequel’s luxury of an established setting.
For Young Tom, though, the cumulative effect of these three movies was mind-expanding, if not mind-blowing. I’m not talking about Empire’s Big Reveal (echoed coincidentally in Khan) or the unsettling sight of a powerless Clark Kent. Instead, each catapulted the fevered suppositions of a junior-high imagination to higher levels of awareness. I went into the theater each time wondering will this be as good? and came out giddy at how much better each one was.
So what’s this have to do with comics? Read on …
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where we reveal our picks for the best Super Bowl ads … er, where we talk about what we’ve been reading lately. Today our special guest is Sonia Harris, who writes a weekly column – Committed – for Comics Should Be Good, and is a graphic designer on books such as Butcher Baker the Righteous Maker (collected in hardcover now from Image Comics) and upcoming comic books SEX (beginning March) and The Bounce. (beginning May).
To see what Sonia and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
For all of the ridicule Christian Bale received for his 2008 tirade on the set of Terminator Salvation, it turns out the Oscar winner is a kindhearted guy, visiting with victims of the shooting at The Dark Knight Rises screening in Aurora, Colorado, and flying the family of a 4-year-old cancer patient to have lunch with him at Disneyland. And now the actor has put a smile on the face of an 8-year-old Batman fan who’s battling leukemia.
Butcher Billy, the Brazilian artist sometimes known as Bily Mariano da Luz, is turning into something of a Robot 6 favorite. His latest project posted at Behance is “Batman: The Nolan X Burton Experiment,” smashing together Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy to sometimes humorous, often illuminating, effect. By placing their differing elements in proximity, these images reveal both what was good and what failed from these two adaptations. (Such as, hey Tim, you cast Lando Calrissian as Harvey Dent, then do absolutely nothing of consequence with the character in either of your films? What was that all about?)
As Bily writes: “But are they really that different? How much of all that is really classic and timeless and how much is pure recycling to modern times? Are those elements cool enough to stand even if taken from their own environments? How those concepts would work if they were mixed into one another?”
If it’s the first Grumpy Old Fan of 2013, it must be time for “Ten From the Old Year, Ten For the New.” For those who came in late, every January I evaluate 10 predictions/observations from the previous year, and present 10 for the next. Accordingly, first we have commentary on 2012′s items.
1. The Dark Knight Rises. I had three rather superficial questions about the final Christopher Nolan Batman movie. First, “[c]an it make a skillion dollars?” Not quite — while it did make over a billion dollars worldwide, it didn’t make as much as its predecessor domestically, and it came in second to The Avengers. Next was “[w]ill it have Robin?” Well … [SPOILER ALERT] it depends on your definition of “Robin,” I suppose. And finally, referring to certain issues about Bane’s elocution, “[w]ill it have subtitles?” Nope — as it turns out, they weren’t needed. Instead, Bane’s accent was perfectly suited to breaking not just Batman, but Alex Trebek as well.
At the end of every year Carla Hoffman and Tom Bondurant exchange emails about the fortunes of the Big Two. Look for Part 2 on Wednesday!
Carla: Here we are, heading toward the year the Mayan calendar might not have thought would ever come: 2013. The future gets closer and closer! Technology advances! Politics change! And yet, comic books are still here. How cool is that? It’s been a heck of a year, full of ups and downs, movie premieres, new #1 issues and the never-ending race to produce better, faster comics.
I have to admit, Image has been doing a really great job keeping up with the Big Two, producing award-winning books in a variety of formats and getting involved in TV to draw new readers into a wide array of comic book genres. But we’re not here to talk about them! We’re here for the greatest shows in town, the Merry Marvel Marching Society and … our Distinguished Competitors.
My first question is kind of a no-brainer: How’s the New 52 treating you these days? And, after a year, is it still the “New 52″?
Tom: Well, as a practical matter, it’s the “New 52″ for as long as DC wants it to be. Actually, I think I have stopped seeing that little blurb on the covers. I happened to look at Aquaman #15 yesterday, kind of out of the corner of my eye, and was surprised it was there. Part of me thinks that it could confuse those hypothetical new readers, but then I thought that about “Earth One,” and that doesn’t seem to have hurt those books.
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U.K. animator Rob Brindle just may have come up with the greatest comic-related gif of all time. Brindle has form with comics, having brought those filthy funsters Modern Toss‘ work to television in the past. Struck by Batman’s odd posture on the cover of the The Dark Knight Rises DVD cover (“Batman looks funny on his new DVD. So I made this in tribute. Suggested listening for accompaniment: Blackout Crew – Put a Donk On It“), Brindle has animated it for maximum pelvic impact.
As much as I love a bangin’ donk, I’d suggest Christian Bale looks like he’s been caught mid-Time Warp:
Stop-motion animator and LEGO fan Nicolas of Paranick Filmz, who’s already recreated the first two trailers for The Dark Knight Rises using the colorful building-block toys, has now moved on to the third — and as you might expect, it’s a lot of fun. It kind of made me wish Christopher Nolan had worked with LEGO from the start …
DC Comics announced The Dark Knight Rises prequel comic on Friday:
Can’t get enough of the epic conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy? Then download THE DARK KNIGHT RISES: PROLOGUE app from DC Comics, sponsored by Nokia and available on Nokia Windows Phone devices. The app features an exclusive motion-comic from writer Joshua Williamson and artist Jorge Jimenez that serves as a prologue to THE DARK KNIGHT RISES film. The app also include social media share options and links to other apps tied to the film.
Proving once again that he’s the biggest comic fan in the WWE, Rey Mysterio appeared at tonight’s SummerSlan pay-per-view event dressed all in black, sporting a cape and bat ears. Wrestling’s equivalent of Batman wasn’t able to fully “rise” in his match against The Miz, but at least he looked good while doing it.
At past events, the high-flying Mysterio has worn outfits inspired by the Silver Surfer, Daredevil, Spider-Man, Joker, Flash, Iron Man, Captain America and the movie Avatar.
If the trailer for Batgirl: Spoiled wasn’t enough to whet your fan-film appetite, there’s now Batman: Puppet Master, a short set in the aftermath of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight as the Gotham City Police Department calls in an expert to help bring Batman to justice: FBI Special Agent Edward Nigma.
However, Nigma doesn’t merely want to catch the Dark Knight; he wants to deduce his secret identity, proving that he’s the world’s greatest detective. To that end, he enlists the assistance of some of Arkham Asylum’s inmates — Arnold Weskler and Peyton Riley (aka the first and second Ventriloquist), and Victor Zsasz.
Directed by Bryan Nest from a script by Chris Wiltz, Batman: Puppet Master is described as “a film created by fans for fans and it delivers an exciting storyline that will introduce fans to new versions of Mr. Zsasz, The Ventriloquist, and Edward Nigma (aka The Riddler), who fans were expecting to appear in Nolan’s third Batman film.”
To see what Alex and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below.
All C’s Collectibles in Aurora, Colo. is putting together a fundraiser to benefit the victims of the July 20 shootings during the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. The event, called Aurora Rise, is tentatively scheduled for late August.
According to Jason Tabrys at Nerd Bastards, the event will include a silent auction and creator appearances. Both Dark Horse Comics and Image Comics have already donated items, while creators Steve Niles and Tim Daniel are attending.
“It’s very important to note that All C’s is the only comic book store in the city,” Dark Horse’s Aub Driver told Tabrys. “This tragedy has rocked their community at large, as well as the rest of the nation. Some of their customers were present at the theater when tragedy struck, even one of their own employees. Showing your full support for the comic book shop and the comic arts medium is incredibly crucial during this dark time.”
The shop has set up a Facebook page where they’re providing updates on the event, as well as other information on how to help out. Companies, creators or others who want to help out can contact the shop through their email address, firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the wake of Friday’s shootings in Aurora, Colorado, DC Comics has delayed the release of Batman Incorporated #3, originally set to go on sale Wednesday, because the issue “contains content that may be perceived as insensitive in light of recent events.” It will instead be released Aug. 22.
In an email sent Monday to retailers, the publisher explained that, “Out of respect for the victims and families in Aurora, Colorado DC Entertainment has made the decision to postpone the release of BATMAN INCORPORATED #3 for one month because the comic contains content that may be perceived as insensitive in light of recent events. We request that retailers do not make this issue available as previously solicited.”
Artist Chris Burnham addressed the delay on Twitter, writing, “Batman Inc #3 is going to be delayed a month due to some grim imagery that would seem wholly inappropriate given the Aurora killings. The book printed on time. I’m looking at a copy on my desk right now. This isn’t a scheduling excuse, we’re trying to do the right thing. It’s not just a Batman comic with guns in it. There’s a specific scene that made DC & the whole Bat-team say ‘Yikes.’ Too close for comfort.”
Comic Book Resources has an exclusive preview of Batman Incorporated #3, which features the New 52 debut of Matches Malone, and finds Batman on the trail of who’s trying to kill Damian.