Retailing | Publishers Weekly’s annual comics retailer survey yields some interesting commentary, although the sample size is small (just 10 stores): Sales are up, retailers are optimistic, and Saga is the hot book right now. Also, booksellers who underestimated the demand for Chris Ware’s Building Stories lost out to direct-market retailers who didn’t, making for some nice extra sales during the holiday season. And while readers seem to be getting tired of the Big Two and their event comics, they are more enthusiastic than ever before about creator-owned comics, and Image is doing quite well. [Publishers Weekly]
Awards | Ladies Making Comics presents the complete list of women Eisner nominees for this year, noting that women have been nominated in almost every category. [Ladies Making Comics]
Who needs the Kwik-e Mart? Universal Studios Orlando, which has announced plans for an expanded Simpsons-themed area at the park that’ll open this summer.
The World of Springfield will be anchored by the existing The Simpsons Ride, as well as new spinning ride called Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl. The area will also feature Krusty Burger, the Frying Dutchman, Lard Lad donuts, Moe’s Tavern and of course the Kwik-e Mart. They also plan to sell Duff Beer, brewed exclusively for the park. Although it isn’t mentioned in the release, the image also shows The Android’s Dungeon & Baseball Card Shop, home of Jeff Albertson, a.k.a. Comic Book Guy.
I’m usually not a big fan of simulator rides (or at least my head isn’t), but The Simpsons Ride is very well done, mostly because the ride’s story is so much fun. So this should be a welcome addition to the park.
Fans who have been hoping to see Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk in a Disney theme park ever since the entertainment giant purchased Marvel in 2009 will finally get their wish — in Hong Kong.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang announced the seven-year-old Hong Kong Disneyland will add a Marvel superheroes area as part of its expansion program. Jointly owned by the government and Disney, the resort now has six themed areas: Main Street, U.S.A., Fantasyland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Grizzly Gulch and Toy Story Land.
According to Anime News Network, the park will cover 1.52 acres on the third floor of the Sunshine City World Import Mart Building in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro commercial and entertainment district. The building already houses Namco’s Namja Town indoor park, which features themed dining, carnival-style games and a haunted house.
Although the new park’s name hasn’t been revealed, a floor plan (below) offers a preview of its features: separate areas devoted to Dragon Ball Z, Naruto and One Piece, a “Heroes’ Arena” with a rotating theme and roster of properties, food sections, and licensed merchandise shops.
Namco, best known as a video-game developer and publisher, will be the main operator of the theme park, which will be developed with the help of Weekly Shonen Jump editors. Anime studios Toei Animation and Pierrot also will be involved.
Several Japanese resorts and amusement parks already have attractions devoted to Naruto and One Piece, and an unlicensed One Piece theme park reportedly is being built on 329 acres in China.
Marvel Adventure, the twice-delayed superhero theme park, now appears on track to open late next year in the United Arab Emirates — if in a less ambitious form.
Announced in 2007, the project had been sidelined by a downturn in the global economy. At the time, the $1 billion theme park was supposed to cover eight acres, divided into four “lands” — Oasis of Magic, Marvel’s Mythic Mountain, City of Super-Heroes and Nick Neighborhood — with Crater Lake at its center. The original plan called for roller coasts and such thriller rides as Flying With Spidey, Fantasticar and X-Men: Danger Room.
But the Los Angeles Times reports that the indoor park that debuts next year as part of the $5 billion City of Arabia entertainment, retail and residential development will be significantly scaled down. In fact, the IMG Group, which is licensing the Marvel name and characters, doesn’t refer to the project as a theme park but rather an “indoor family entertainment centre.” Marvel is careful to make the same distinction
The plans now call for retail outlets, restaurants, an “interactive entertainment experience based on Marvel characters,” and “acres of common ares and facilities.” No specific rides were announced. The newspaper notes that Marvel’s parent company Disney has gone to great lengths to make clear that the Dubai project is strictly a licensing agreement not involving Disney theme parks or Walt Disney Imagineering, the creative arm of the company.”
Sales charts | The American Booksellers Association has released its list of the top-selling graphic novels in indie bookstores for the eight weeks ending May 27. At first glance, it looks like it’s mostly literary graphic novels (Habibi, Are You My Mother?) with a healthy sprinkling of The Walking Dead. [Bookselling This Week, via The Beat]
Creators | Grant Morrison discusses the second issue of Batman Incorporated, which features Batman’s lover and Robin’s mom, Talia al Ghul. [USA Today]
Comics history | Could comics history have been radically different if Jerry Siegel had a different last name? Larry Tye, the author of the new Superman a biography, talks to Fresh Air about the origins of the Man of Steel and how he changed over the years: “The editors in New York over time started to exercise their editorial control. They saw this as both a character and a business. They would go down to the level of dictating just what his forelocks looked like. They could be too curly. His arms should be shorter and less ‘ape-like.’ And Joe should get rid of his hero’s ‘nice fat bottom.’ His editor told him that he worried that that made Superman look too ‘la-dee-dah.’ And they were really concerned about the image of the character.” [NPR]
Theme parks | Disney CEO Bob Iger said the company has begun preliminary design work that will pave the way for Marvel superheroes to one day appear alongside familiar characters in Disney theme parks. Iger told shareholders attending the annual meeting Tuesday that the company has been working on some concepts, but hasn’t announced anything yet. Disney is currently developing attractions based on James Cameron’s Avatar film for its Animal Kingdom park in Orlando, Florida, which are expected to be ready in 2015. [Los Angeles Times]
Comic strips | Alan Gardner counts 57 newspapers that aren’t carrying this week’s Doonesbury comics, which address a Texas law requiring women requesting an abortion to submit to a transvaginal ultrasound. But according to Universal UClick, no papers have dropped Garry Trudeau’s strip. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Publishing | John Jackson Miller discusses the Rule of Eight, which holds that independent publishers start to falter once they put out more than eight titles per month, and goes into the nuances of the theory with its originator of the idea, Marc Patten. [The Comichron]
Comic-Con | Badges for Comic-Con International go on sale online Saturday at 8 a.m. PT for those who met the Feb. 28 deadline to register for Member IDs. Emails were sent out Thursday directing those with Member IDs to the specific Event Planning International Corp web address. Organizers instituted the registration system this year in an attempt to make the notoriously problematic badge-purchasing process go more smoothly: Everyone — attendee, volunteer, professional or press — who intends to purchase or apply for a convention badge must first have a Member ID. Comic-Con will be held July 12-15 at the San Diego Convention Center. [Comic-Con International]
Community | If you helped Mike Meyer, the mentally disabled man whose entire Superman collection was stolen last year, NPR would like to talk to you. After the theft, comics fans sent hundreds of Superman items to Meyer to replace the ones that were stolen. Eventually the original collection was retrieved, and Meyer shared most of the donated items with a local children’s hospital. NPR interviewed Meyer for its State of the Re:Union show and would like to talk to donors large and small as well. Contact details are at the link. [ComicsAlliance]
This week Euro Disney, the company that runs Disneyland Paris, signed a new deal with the French government that will allow them to continue building on the site in Marne-la-Vallée, outside of Paris, through 2030.
Plans are to build a new theme park to accompany Disneyland Paris, which opened in 1992, and the adjoining Walt Disney Studios, which opened 10 years later. According to the Telegraph, the company is considering a “superheroes park” for that third park:
Philippe Gas, the chief executive of Euro Disney, said one idea for a third park is “a superheroes park” following the acquisition of Marvel by Disney – although the construction of a third park is a long-term vision. Mr Gas said there is a possibility that a decision to build a third park could come as late as 2020, although it may come earlier if planned work on the Disney Studios park is completed.
It’s not surprising that Disney would consider using the Marvel stable in their theme parks; while they’re locked out of Walt Disney World in Florida due to licensing agreements Marvel had in place with Universal before the acquisition, there’s no reason why they couldn’t have Spider-Man and X-Men themed rides in France.
(Artwork above is concept art for a Dubai Marvel-themed park that was supposed to open in 2012 … whatever happened with that?)
Six Flags Great Adventure announced this morning it will debut a 15-story Green Lantern roller-coaster in spring 2011, just ahead of the Warner Bros. movie.
The Jackson, New Jersey, theme park describes the stand-up coaster as 154-feet tall with “over three quarters of a mile of twisting green steel,” and capable of reaching speeds of 63 miles per hour.
“Unlike traditional seated coasters,” the press release states,” Green Lantern is designed to allow passengers to stand erect throughout the entire course of the ride that delivers an experience unlike any other. The two minute and thirty second thrill begins with a pulse-quickening 45-degree vertical drop before rocketing riders through five inversions — including a 121-foot-tall loop, a 103-foot dive loop and a 72-foot inclined loop, climaxing in twisted double corkscrews.”
This BusinessWeek profile offers an interesting overview of the Walt Disney Co. under CEO Robert Iger, who’s investing billions in an effort to transform the media giant and increase its appeal among boys.
Iger, who in 2005 succeeded Michael Eisner, is — in the words of the article — on a “spending spree” marked by the purchases of Pixar in 2006 ($7.4 billion) and Marvel in 2009 ($4.3 billion) and a planned overhaul of Disney’s 350 retail outlets.
The piece includes quotes from Dan Vado, whose SLG Publishing released comics based on the Haunted Mansion theme-park ride, as well as criticism of the Marvel acquisition because licensing deals prevent Disney from exploiting some of the bigger superhero properties until at least 2013.
Speaking of Disney, they announced on their Disney Parks Blog that Captain EO, the 3-D film starring Michael Jackson and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, will return to Disneyland in February for a limited engagement.
There was a lot of buzz back in September about the movie potentially returning to the park. Attendees at the D23 convention expected an announcement during the theme park presentation, based on the buzz we heard in the audience, and they were disappointed when that didn’t happen.
Captain EO played at Disneyland from 1986 to 1997, when it was replaced by Honey I Shrunk the Audience. There’s no word yet on how long the “limited engagement” will run.
I’ve never been particularly amused by amusement parks — blame traumatic childhood visits to Kings Island and Kings Dominion — but the long-developing Marvel park in Dubai could be enough to change that. Y’know, if I should ever find myself in the United Arab Emirates.
I say that after waking up to this stunning concept art from Chimera Design, discovered by the Disney and More blog. The lush illustrations include a map of the $1-billion park — it’s divided into four “lands,” with Crater Lake at the center — and renditions of the entrance, the City of Super-Heroes and Oasis of Magic. Visit Disney and More to see all 14 images.
Announced in 2007, the theme park is being developed by Marvel Entertainment and UAE-based construction and real estate company Al Ahli Group. The project initially was set to open in 2011, but now appears to be on track for 2012.
Who needs Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk when you have Harry Potter?
Amid speculation as to what Disney’s announced $4-billion purchase of Marvel could mean to existing theme-park licenses, Universal Orlando today unveiled details for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a 20-acre addition to its Islands of Adventure.
The rights to the $265-million “theme park within a theme park” were secured from author J.K. Rowling in 2007, but NBC Universal has managed to keep information about the project a secret.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my wife and I are in Anaheim for Disney’s inaugural D23 Expo. Our Saturday started a little later than our Friday, as we thought we should take advantage of the opportunity to sleep in on at least one of our days out of town, and the first presentation we wanted to see wasn’t until 11. So we made it to the Anaheim Convention Center a little later than we did on Friday.
From what I could tell, Saturday was a whole lot busier than Friday, as the weekend attendees (and more kids, as Geoff Boucher noted) came out. The leisurely pace of Friday was replaced with longer lines and thicker crowds. I should add that it’s still a long way from the chaos of Comic-Con, but there was a noticeable difference between the two days.