Retailing | Borders Group, the second-largest book chain in the United States, filed for bankruptcy protection this morning, announcing plans to close about 192 of its 639 Borders, Waldenbooks, Borders Express and Borders Outlet locations over the next several weeks. It’s unclear how many of the company’s 6,100 full-time and 11,400 part-time employees will be affected by the closings. Borders, which listed $1.29 billion in debt and $1.27 billion in assets, plans to continue to operate through the court process with the help of $505 million in financing from lenders led by G.E. Capital.
The likelihood of bankruptcy has loomed for the past several weeks as the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based bookseller pushed unsuccessfully for publishers and distributors to convert late payments into $125 million in loans. That concession was critical to Borders securing $550 million in refinancing from G.E. Capital. Publishers like Penguin Group, Hatchette, Simon & Schuster, Random House and HarperCollins are now, in Publishers Weekly‘s words, on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars. Diamond Book Distributors, which stopped shipping to Borders last month, is owed $3.9 million. [Bloomberg, The New York Times]
In the latest of his series of logo studies, letterer and logo designer Todd Klein spars with the mastheads of the 45-plus Marvel title Daredevil. Klein’s research on these series is impeccable, covering every permutation of the comics’ logo — reaching out when possible to the original designers, back into the Silver Age. He even provides copious notes for when he was hired to work on the logo in 1996.
Although Klein is best known for his lettering, he’s contributed logos to virtually all major American comic companies, and his logo work is seen on the Batman: Year One storyline, logos for The New Teen Titans and its characters, as well as Witchblade, Tom Strong and Iron Man.
Klein’s releasing his Daredevil logo study in four parts, with the final installment due any day now. Begin with Part 1 which starts with the title’s debut in 1964. Read the installments, and then scroll back through his archives for other interesting logo studies.
Retailing | The Borders death watch continues, with the struggling bookstore chain giving publishers until Feb. 1 to accept or reject a proposal to convert delayed payments into loans. Publishers reportedly are skeptical of the plan, which would see them take up one-third to one-quarter of the bookseller’s reorganized debt. The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based retailer also has hired bankruptcy and restructuring lawyers to advise in its restructuring efforts, which center on negotiations to secure a $500 million credit line from GE Capital.
Borders, the second-largest book chain in the United States, announced in late December that it would delay payments to key publishers and distributors, leading some — such as Diamond Book Distributors — to stop shipping books. Jacket Copy reminds us that Borders Group is closing nearly 200 Waldebooks and Borders Express outlets before the end of the month. Additionally, it’s shuttering 17 Borders superstore locations nationwide. [The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal]
We already know that Todd Klein is an award-winning letterer for all sorts of comics, and if you’ve been following along, you also know that he’s worked with various writers and artists to design some really awesome prints. So it’s no surprise that he designed the cover for writer Jim McCann and artist Janet Lee’s upcoming graphic novel, Return of the Dapper Men. The book is due from Archaia in November.
“Having a master designer like Todd Klein on board Team Dapper is a great honor,” said Archaia Editor-in-Chief Stephen Christy in a press release. “I’ve been talking for months about how special this book is, and how much fun it is as an editor to be working on a fairy tale entirely unlike anything seen in comics before. With Todd joining creators Jim McCann and Janet Lee as we bring Dapper down the homestretch to publication, I can promise readers that this is one of those instances where the quality and artistry of this book lives up to the hype!”
Letterer Todd Klein has teamed up with Fables writer Bill Willingham for the latter’s sixth art print featuring a letter of the alphabet. “F The Enchanted Letter” features a poem written by Willingham stocked to the hilt with F-words–sorry, not that F-word–but words like fantasy, fairyland, fleece and, of course, fable.
Klein provides more details on how the print was created here and here. It goes on sale July 16, and you can find the first five prints he worked on with Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Mark Buckingham, Alex Ross and J.H. Williams III for sale here.
Todd Klein has teamed up with several artists and writers over the last few years to produce a series of great prints … everyone from Neil Gaiman to J.H. Williams III has worked with the renowned letterer. Now Klein has teamed up with Fables artist Mark Buckingham to produce a new one called Each Beast at the Feast. The first print’s title started with an “A,” the second a “B,” etc. He’s on “E” now, so I guess it might be safe to assume that we still have plenty more of these to look forward to.
You can find Klein’s previous prints here.
As you may have guessed, we’re big fans of the Logo Studies feature letterer Todd Klein runs over on his blog, where he looks at various comic book logos and how they evolved over the years. Yesterday he shared a bit of history about the original Batman logo from the 1940s, which was designed by comics legend Jerry Robinson.
“One of the things I expected when I started doing my Logo Studies was that I would never be able to find out for sure, or at all, who designed many of the original comics logos from the 1940s,” Klein wrote on his blog. “Today I proved that expectation wrong when I spoke to Jerry Robinson, one of the first Batman artists, and involved with the character almost from the beginning.”
Klein had originally gotten in touch with Robinson to ask about the Robin logo that appeared on the Boy Wonder’s first appearance, and Robinson told Klein he also designed the original Batman logo, seen above.
When I got a look at IDW’s first remastered issue of Elaine Lee and Michael Kaluta’s Starstruck, I immediately wanted to talk to Lee about the story’s return. In doing the email interview, I wanted to get an idea of the creative processes involved (for the comic, as well as related theater and audio productions) and some of her thoughts regarding the remastering of the work. My thanks to Lee for her insight, as well as IDW Special Projects Editor Scott Dunbier and IDW’s AnnaMaria White for helping make this interview possible.
Tim O’Shea: Back in the 1980s when you and Kaluta originally developed this comic, it seems like you were among the first to attempt a multimedia concept–You were able to take a play and adapt it to a comic book. How challenging was it to pull off, given that you were taking comics into seemingly uncharted territory?
Elaine Lee: I guess we weren’t really thinking about taking comics into uncharted territory. We were just thinking about telling the story we wanted to tell and having a good time doing it!
We never tried to adapt the actual play. The action of the play takes place on two ships out in space, over maybe a day’s time. Not enough scope for a comic series. And any play has much more dialogue than even the wordiest comic, so it wouldn’t translate very well. But in the play, each character had a big monologue, wherein he or she described events that happened in his or her past. We first envisioned Starstruck as a series of vignettes that related these stories from the characters’ pasts. Later, we would add the material that linked all these events together.
If Michael and I were influenced by anyone working in comics, it would’ve been the European artists, like Moebius and Enki Bilal, whose work was appearing in Heavy Metal at the time. And in fact, Starstruck was published in Europe before it was published here in the States, serialized in magazines in France and Spain. They weren’t publishing much unusual material in the US at the time. But we always had an American sensibility and both the play and the comic were greatly influenced by old American science fiction movies and TV series, the stuff that came out between the forties and the sixties, from the old Buck Rogers serials and Rocky Jones Space Ranger, to Star Trek and Lost in Space, Queen of Outer Space and Barbarella. We lifted themes, archetypes and settings from classic sci-fi and tried to drop into them flawed characters with real human problems.
As I mentioned back in April, award-winning letterer Todd Klein has been working on a new print with Promethea artist J.H. Williams III. “Drawing the Sword, ” which features a young King Arthur the moment before his whole life changed, is available now on Klein’s website.
The text is from Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, and Klein details the creation of the print on his blog.
A couple of weeks ago I linked to two posts by Todd Klein where the award-winning letterer took a look back at the logos for the Amalgam line of comics. So it only seems right to link to his follow-up posts, which examine the logos for the second round of the DC/Marvel mash-up books; here’s the first one, which talks about Bat-Thing and (heh) Generation Hex, and here’s the second one, with info on Spider-Boy Team-Up and Iron Lantern.
Letterer Todd Klein announced a new print on his blog yesterday, a collaboration with Promethea artist J.H. Williams III. Titled Drawing The Sword, the text Klein will add is from Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory. All 500 copies will be signed by both creators, and it will sell for $20 plus shipping.
Klein has done other prints over the past year or so with Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Alex Ross; you can find them for sale on his website.
We’ve linked to letterer Todd Klein’s various logo studies before, but this week’s is kind of special — Klein examines DC and Marvel’s Amalgam event from the 1990s, specifically the logos for each of the Amalgam books. Part 1 is here, and part 2 is here.
If you missed the Amalgam event when it occurred, it followed the Marvel vs. DC mini-series that, as you can guess, pitted various Marvel heroes versus DC’s. Fans could even vote on some of the outcomes, like Superman against the Hulk and Wolverine taking on Lobo. Far more interesting, though, was the spin-off event … due to events in the mini-series that I can’t really remember now, the two separate universes were merged, as were their characters. So you had combinations like Captain America + Superman = Super Soldier, Ghost Rider + Flash = Speed Demon and Dr. Fate + Dr. Strange = Dr. Strangefate, among others. Marvel and DC respectively published half the books in 1996, then followed it up with another round of them in 1997.
Anyway, all these new comics needed logos, so Klein talks about how the designers (in many cases, himself) took elements of each of the parent logos to create logos for their unholy (but in many cases, really fun) offspring. “Each company tended to want their character logos to dominate. Funny how that worked,” Klein says. In any event, the recap is interesting reading for process junkies and nostalgic fans alike, as Klein details what went into each logo and some of the plot elements of the books. Definitely worth checking out.
I’ve ended up with several process-related posts in my saved links file, so I thought I’d share them all in one swoop.
• Let’s start with Jeffrey Brown, who has been posting up a storm of process goodness on his blog. Brown’s new book, Funny Misshapen Body, was just released; here are some early cover “brainstorming” sketches:
Here’s some of the initial brainstorming for the ‘Funny Misshapen Body’ cover. There were about a dozen more ideas, but these were the strongest ones. All the ideas were passed along to the editors at Touchstone, who then looked at them and decided which parts and aspects of the concepts they liked most.
• Next, Joshua Middleton covers Supergirl #45 …
Todd Klein is a letterer with a level of talent, success and acclaim that is only exceeded by his modesty. That’s the perspective I took away from an email interview I recently conducted with him. I’m not even going to bother offering some concise bio blurb on the man–he has such a rich history, it’s just best that you go here to read up on him. On with the fun.
Tim O’Shea: As of 2006, you noted the following metrics: “From beginning freelance work in 1977 through the end of 2006 I’ve lettered over 48,000 pages of comics, as well as over 5,400 covers and designed over 820 logos.” Have you tried to keep track of your pace since 2006?
Todd Klein: In 2007 I added 2013 pages, no covers and 8 logos. In 2008 I added 2102 pages, 12 covers and 10 logos. That kind of information, for those who want it, is available on my website’s Klein Lettering Archives pages.
O’Shea: In the case of long-term collaborators, like Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore, in what ways do they utilize your unique skills to elevate their narrative?
Klein: Kind of a hard question for me, asking them would probably give a more accurate answer. From my end, I can say they know my work well and what I can do, know that I don’t shy away from a challenge, so I think they pretty much trust that I will give them something that works no matter what they ask for.