Now available On Demand, the documentary Comic Book Independents by director Chris Brandt receives wider distribution at an interesting time. In the midst of a migration of comic book creators from work-for-hire to creator-owned projects, and just as a renewed discussion about creator rights gains momentum, this documentary offers fascinating insight on what it means to go it alone in comics.
It’s not your usual comics documentary, and if you’re a creative type yourself, or are interested by those who are, you’ll probably find yourself inspired. Framed by information from cognitive psychologist Dr. James Kaufman, the human process of creativity as it is realized in comics is broken down and explored by some of the art form’s most interesting thinkers and voices.
Publishing | Four months in, the DC Comics relaunch seems to be a success. The most recent sales figures show Justice League #1 selling more than 360,000 copies since August, and Batman #1 and Action Comics #1 selling more than 250,000. By contrast, Marvel’s strongest seller was Ultimate Spider-Man #160, which was in the 160,000-copy neighborhood. These figures seem to reflect sales in the direct market only; it would be interesting to see how many digital copies have been sold. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Awards | Nominations are open for this year’s Eagle Awards. [Eagle Awards]
Retailing | San Francisco retailer Brian Hibbs shares the top-selling graphic novels in his store for 2011, by units and by dollars. [Savage Critics]
Retailing | Christopher Butcher looks back on the events of the past year in the comics store he manages, Toronto’s The Beguiling. [The Beguiling 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 only had $15, I would only be buying one title this week: 20th Century Boys, Vol. 18 (Viz, $12.99). Sorry Americanos, but Naoki Urasawa is delivering a gripping, sprawling drama that most other books can’t live up to. Wait, I’m wrong – I’d buy two comics with a $15 budget this week; I’d snag the $1 The Strain #1 (Dark Horse, $1) for the price point and Mike Huddleston. I’ve read the novels, but for $1 I can’t miss sampling at least the first issue.
If I had $30, I’d be thankful to double-back and first get Uncanny X-Force #18 (Marvel, $3.99). This issue, the finale of the “Dark Angel Saga,” has been a long time coming and I’m excited for the writing, the art and the story itself; and I can’t forget colorist Dean White, sheesh he’s good. After that I’d pick up my usual Walking Dead #92 (Image, $2.99) and then try Ed McGuinness’ new work in Avengers: X-Sanction #1 (Marvel, $3.99). I’m a big fan of McG’s work, but also realize just how different he is than the standard Marvel (or mainstream super-hero) artist in general. I’ve loved his storytelling sense since Mr. Majestic, and will pick up most any of his work without knowing much about the book itself. Next up would be James Robinson & Cully Hamner’s The Shade #3 (DC, $2.99). I’m surprised DC hasn’t done more marketing for this book, especially considering it’s a character who’s never held a series before; they’ve done little-to-any marketing to define just who the character is, relying on his ties to a lesser-selling series that ended ten years ago (no matter how good it was). Getting off my soapbox: those that have been reading The Shade know it’s good. After that I’d round it off with the best looking comic on shelves, Batwoman #4 (DC, $2.99).
If I was to splurge, I’d double-up my J.H Williams 3 fix with the final volume of Absolute Promethea (DC/ABC, $99.99). Although I already own these issues in singles, getting it over-sized and in hardcover is a treat. I’m hoping it also includes some production art or process sketches – I’m a nut for that.
Publishing | DC Comics joins the Kia Soul, Goldfish, My Little Pony and several others on Advertising Age’s annual list of America’s Hottest Brands: “With decades of stories under their capes and utility belts, Superman — and other DC characters, including Aquaman and the Flash — had ossified. Though relaunching its entire cast and making their adventures available to print and electronic audiences might alienate some hard-core DC fans, it might also gain plenty of new ones. Making DC characters more popular is crucial for its parent company. While the comic-book business is way down from its heyday, its characters fuel big-ticket Hollywood movies that can generate millions of dollars in revenue and licensing. The pressure may be on DC because rival Marvel, now owned by Disney, has churned out superhero film properties on a regular basis for years.” [Advertising Age]
Broadway | Producers of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark have changed their tune on the $75 million musical; previously they predicted they wouldn’t make back the money invested in the show without franchising it in other cities and countries, but now they predict they’ll make it back entirely from the Broadway run. They also are considering adding in new scenes and a new musical number to the production every year, “making it akin to a new comic book edition, and then urging the show’s fans to buy tickets again.” [The New York Times]
Wouldn’t it be awesome if everywhere you shopped this holiday season offered a minicomic with a $50 purchase? Fantagraphics is doing just that, through their online store. They’ve created 21 mini-comics by a variety of their creators that are available free with the purchase of their “matching” book or books, or for simply purchasing $50 worth of stuff from their catalog.
“I always was very fond of the mini-comics format — take two to four 8 1/2 x 11 sheets, fold them once, staple, and voilà!” wrote Kim Thompson. “You have an adorable little 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 comic book for mere pennies. But I could never really figure out what to do with this old-school, low-tech format. Until now!”
The contents of the mini-comics are fairly unique, too; there’s a David B. one featuring a never-before-translated-into-English tale, and a Stan Sakai one that reprints a Nilson Groundthumper story that originally appeared in the Critters anthology back in the day. There’s one featuring out-of-print Peter Bagge strips, and one featuring a full-color 10-page summary of Tony Millionaire’s doomed attempt to get Billy Hazelnuts onto television. And more, by the Hernandez Bros., Jim Woodring, Johnny Ryan, Richard Sala, Bill Griffith, Ivan Brunetti and even Doc Winner, E.C. Segar’s assistant on Popeye.
The big chain stores might have cheap TVs this weekend, but how many of them come with a Tony Millionaire mini-comic? Not nearly enough, I tell ya.
Comics creator Tony Millionaire provided the cover art for Elvis Costello’s latest album, National Ransom, and as Costello has made the talk show rounds to promote it, Millionaire’s art has been popping up on shows like David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon.
And now Millionaire is holding a Photoshop contest on Facebook, where people are putting the album cover everywhere from Chernobyl to the hands of Moses (not to mention some of the places they’re putting Tony Millionaire himself). Go check it out, and add your own entry if you’ve got the skills.
Pretty self-explanatory, no? Maakies and Sock Monkey caroonist Tony Millionaire has done a guest strip for Chris Onstad’s Achewood One of today’s greatest humor cartoonists does one of today’s greatest humor strips. There’s even a cameo by Uncle Gabby and Drinky Crow. Click the link already!
(Via Brian Warmoth.)
It’s nice to see that Penguin books is still hiring cartoonists to do covers for their classic literature line, as this new Moby Dick cover by Tony Millionaire shows. Also, be sure to check out the rest of designer Paul Buckley’s Flickr set, and this interview with him over at Hear, Hear. (Found by Flog)
Well, I don’t know what he’s really like, but in this YouTube video at least, the Maakies cartoonist plays a rather annoyed, and somewhat oddly garbed, deity, frustrated at trying to make a lesser being quaff a bottle of booze. Thank goodness for George Washington. (via Flog)