Comics strips | Matt Saracini looks at the impact on Australian cartoonists of a cost-cutting decision by media giant News Corp. Australia to replace individual comics pages in their largest newspapers with one national page. In the process, some more expensive locally produced strips were jettisoned in favor for cheaper syndicated ones from overseas, like Garfield and The Phantom. News Corp. owns more than a hundred daily, weekly, biweekly and triweekly newspapers. [SBS.com]
Creators | Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat, now living in Kuwait after troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attacked him and broke both his hands, talks about his decision to portray al-Assad explicitly in his cartoons, rather than sticking to more generic themes like freedom and human rights: “It was a big decision to start to draw Bashar and, yes, I was scared of what might happen, particularly when I was attacked. But I had a responsibility to do what I did. If I am not prepared to take risks I have no right to call myself an artist. If there is no mission or message to my work I might as well be a painter and decorator.” [The Guardian]
As the Comic-Con International hangover sets in and the industry goes silent while creators, editors, publishers and publicists stagger home from San Diego, we’ll take a few minutes to try to collect the comics-related highlights of this year’s event. We’ll attempt to update as more panel reports appear and other information trickles out.
• Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, Hawkeye‘s David Aja, and Building Stories by Chris Ware were the big winners at the 2013 Eisner Awards.
• At Diamond Comic Distributors’ Retailer Appreciation Lunch, Marvel teased the arrival of Marvelman — it’s been four years since the publisher revealed it had acquired the rights to the property — and, scheduled for January, a new wave of Marvel NOW! titles. In convention panels, the company announced: Wolverine: Origin II, by Kieron Gillen and Adam Kubert; the return of Nightcrawler in the first arc of Amazing X-Men, by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness; the November debut of Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe, by Chris Hastings and Jacopo Camagni; “Afterparty,” a two-issue arc of Young Avengers that celebrates Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s first year on the series; Steve McNiven will join Rick Remender in November on Uncanny Avengers; Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand, a Galactus-focused Ultimate Universe event by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley; and the January-launching Revolutionary War, in which writer Andy Lanning and “various superstar artists,” will resurrect some of the Marvel UK characters.
Comic-Con International continued to reveal the programming schedule for San Diego as they rolled out the panels and events scheduled for Saturday, July 20.
The third day brings panels from Skybound, BOOM!, Archaia, Top Shelf, Fantagraphics, Drawn + Quarterly, Top Cow, Archie, Action Lab Entertainment, IDW and Rebellion, Dark Horse, Image Comics, Valiant and Lion Forge Comics, the makers of those Saved by the Bell and Knight Rider comics that are coming soon. DC has panels dedicated to Green Lantern, Superman’s 75th anniversary, Sandman and Batman: Year Zero, while Marvel has panels on Infinity, their video games, animation slate and their movies, which include Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (no doubt they’ll have a little more than that). In what is likely his first trip to Comic-Con, Congressman John Lewis will be on hand to talk about his book from Top Shelf, March.
You’ll also find spotlight panels on Russ Heath, Sam Kieth, Val Mayerik, Vera Brosgol, John Romita Jr., Jon Bogdanove, Jim Lee, George Perez, Gerry Conway, Frank Brunner, Roy Thomas and Paul Dini, as well as a tribute to Joe Kubert. The day wraps up with the annual CCI Masquerade.
Check out some of the comics-related highlights below, and visit the Comic-Con website for the full schedule:
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 make up for lost time and get the first collection of Mind the Gap (Image, $9.99). Rodin Esquejo is an absolute gem in my opinion, and Jim McCann looks to have crafted a story with some definite suspenseful power. After that I’d get James Stokoe’s Godzilla: Half Century War #3 (IDW, $3.99). This has become one of my favorite serials to come out, which for a work-for-hire book is tough. Instead of doing a story in service of the concept, it uses the concept to create a great story – and Stokoe really loves Godzilla and puts a face to those humans who oppose him. Finally, I’d get the free Cyber Force #1 (Image/Top Cow, $0) because, well, it’s free. I have an unabashed love for the original Cyber Force, and previous reboots haven’t really gelled the way I wanted to. I’m excited to see what Matt Hawkins brings to this, and I’m glad Silvestri is involved even if only on covers and designs.
If I had $30, I’d first stop for Glory #29 (Image, $3.99). I tend to read this series in built-up bursts, and I’m overdue to catch up. I like the monstrous rage Ross Campbell brings to this, and seeing Joe Keatinge capitalize on the artist he has to create a broader story is thrilling. After that I’d get a Marvel three-pack in Hawkeye #3 (Marvel, $2.99), Daredevil #19 (Marvel, $2.99) and AvX Consequences #2 (Marvel, $3.99). I’d buy David Aja illustrating a phone book – seeing him getting a great story is icing on the cake.
If I could splurge, I’d lash onto Charles Burns’ The Hive (Pantheon, $21.95). I’m reluctantly late to the game when it comes to Charles Burns, but X’ed Out clued me into his awesome cartooning power. After devouring his previous work, I’m excited to read The Hive as it first comes out. I don’t quite know what to expect, but after finally coming around to Burn’s skill I’m up for pretty much anything. Continue Reading »
Here’s one that might have got missed over the holiday weekend: Top Cow Productions has announced a talent hunt for two previously unpublished writers and artists. You can see a rundown of the rules below, or on the publisher’s website. They’re very stringent, understandably enough in the current culture of litigation. Still, this is a high-profile gig, so it’d be worth doing the research to pull it off. The recent success of the Cyber Force Kickstarter campaign shows Top Cow is publisher with both a supportive fanbase and a helluva knack with a publicity campaign.
Top Cow Productions on Friday concluded its Kickstarter campaign to fund a Cyber Force revival with $117,135, exceeding its goal by more than $42,000.
Announced early last month, the resurrection of the series coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Marc Silvestri comic that launched Top Cow Productions. The company hoped to raise enough money through the crowd-funding website to make the first five issues of the reimagined series available for free, both digitally and in print. While the original comic followed a group of cybernetically enhanced mutants on the run from an international conglomerate, the Cyber Force in the new series — by Silvestri, Matt Hawkins and Khoi Pham — is described as “bio-cybernetic steampunk.”
“From Marc, myself and everyone at Top Cow thank you so much for your pledges, your support and spreading the word around for us,” Hawkins wrote Friday in a Kickstarter update. He had said last week that if the campaign surpassed $100,000 Top Cow would make copies of the first trade paperback available for free to libraries that request them, and work with charities to provide comics to U.S. troops in war zones.
Cyber Force debuts in October.
With more than a week to go in its Kickstarter campaign, Top Cow Productions has already surpassed its $75,000 goal for the revival of its early-’90s superhero series Cyber Force.
Announced early last month, the resurrection of the series coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Marc Silvestri comic that launched Top Cow Productions. The company hoped to raise enough money through the crowd-funding website to make the first five issues of the reimagined series available for free, both digitally and in print.
While the original comic followed a group of cybernetically enhanced mutants on the run from an international conglomerate, the Cyber Force in the new series — by Silvestri, Matt Hawkins and Khoi Pham — is described as “bio-cybernetic steampunk.”
“This new version of Cyber Force is the most exciting and awesome thing I’ve ever worked on,” Hawkins wrote this week in a Kickstarter update. “I can’t wait for all of you to see it. Thank you all and thanks for helping us spread the love of comics to the rest of the world.”
Donors were offered a number of incentives, ranging from Kickstarter-exclusive variant covers and signed issues to a thank-you phone call from Silvestri and a mentor session with Hawkins. The campaign ends Aug. 17; Cyber Force debuts in October.
Publishing | Top Cow Productions has announced details of its retailer program for the relaunch of Cyber Force, which is using Kickstarter to raise enough money to make the first five issues of the reimagined series available for free, both digitally and in print: Retailers will be charged 25 cents per copy for the first five issues, but will receive incentive variant covers — with suggested prices of $10 and $20 — to offset the cost of the comics. The Kickstarter campaign has raised more than $50,000 of its $75,000 goal with 17 days remaining. [ICv2]
Publishing | Former DC Comics editor Janelle Asselin, who now works for Disney, talks about her experiences at the editor’s desk and offers one reason there are so few female superhero comics creators: Women aren’t lining up for the job. “In my time at DC, exactly one woman reached out to me via email, and I hired her,” she said. “I didn’t hire her BECAUSE she was a woman, I hired her because she was good, of course. But in that same amount of time, probably at least two or three men a week contacted me looking for work, some of them intensely pushy and many of them decidedly not good. I think more female creators should put themselves out there. The numbers are growing, we all can see that, especially in indie comics and comics published by traditional publishers, but if there are women who want to work on super hero books, they need to speak up.” [Women Write About Comics]
Not even a day into its Kickstarter campaign, Top Cow’s Cyber Force has already raised more than $20,000 of its $75,000 goal.
Announced two weeks ago, the resurrection of the series coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Marc Silvestri comic that launched Top Cow Productions. The company hopes to raise enough money through the crowd-funding website to make the first five issues of the reimagined series available for free, both digitally and in print.
“While most everybody uses Kickstarter to fund a project in order to build it and then sell it, we at Top Cow are going to use the funds to build Cyber Force and give it away — for free!” Silvestri told Hero Complex at the time of the announcement. “Plus we’re not talking just one issue but five full issues of the comic. And it won’t be free just digitally, but also as a full-color printed comic that will be available at any participating comic shop. So for people that want to read Cyber Force digitally — yes, including torrent sites — it’s free. And for anyone wanting to hold a traditional comic in their hands to read it — it’s still free.”
• Of course you can’t have Comic-Con without news about Comic-Con itself. CBR’s Kiel Phegley spoke with CCI’s David Glanzer about the show, while Ryan Ingram spoke with Scott Morse about the Tr!ckster satellite event. And it seems like every non-comics media outlet reports on the show in some form or fashion; here’s an article by The Christian Post about religion and the show, for example. And finally, Tuesday brought the tragic news that a con attendee camping out for today’s Twilight panel was killed in front of the convention center after being struck by a car.
• I’m not 100 percent sure if it qualifies as Comic-Con news, but since it was officially announced in the Entertainment Weekly Comic-Con issue, let’s just go with it. Marvel’s big news going into the Con is that they plan to relaunch several titles later this year as part of “Marvel NOW!” Their recently released solicitations reveal they plan to cancel nine titles in October, but of course you can expect many if not all of them to come back in some form or fashion as Marvel NOW! rolls out.
• Mike Mignola and Hellboy return this December in Hellboy in Hell, the first four-issue miniseries in a series of miniseries about the title character’s post-demise adventures.
Top Cow honcho Marc Silvestri gets what a lot of other publishing folks don’t:
The problem is that once the “genie of convenience” is out of the bottle, not all the lamp-rubbing in the world is gonna get him back in. I pay for all my music, but I’m fully aware that millions don’t, and I’m not going to fool myself into thinking that’s going to change. What it comes down to is that people spend a lot of energy fighting city hall when what really needs to be done is to simply make city hall work for you. The Internet is always going to be a numbers game about eyeballs and piracy versus the increased number of said eyeballs. This is especially true when it comes to entertainment.
So when Silvestri planned the relaunch of the classic 1990s comic Cyber Force, he decided to use Kickstarter to fund it—and then give it away for free, in both print and digital forms. “Even the guys filming our interviews for the Kickstarter campaign were taken by surprise when we got to the free part,” Silvestri told Geoff Boucher of the LA Times Hero Complex blog. Silvestri will write the five-issue miniseries, which will be illustrated by Koi Pham. The project isn’t up on Kickstarter yet, but the comics must be well under way, as Silvestri plans an October launch.
This will be interesting to watch, because the fundamental question will be whether people will be eager enough to be part of the creation of this comic to shell out money for something that will be given away for free. Will Silvestri appeal to their altruistic instincts, or will he offer premiums that non-pledgers can’t get? And will there be a collected edition that folks will be expected to pay for in the near future?That seems to be the way the industry is going, but as Silvestri seems to be determined to not just think outside the box but kick the box to the curb and flatten it, it’s hard to say which way this will go.
Saturday’s programming for this year’s Comic-Con International continues the grand “big movie panels” tradition typically associated with the third day of the con. Both Warner Bros. and Marvel Studios are on the schedule for Hall H; no doubt Marvel will have more than just Iron Man 3 to talk about at that 6 p.m. slot. Warner Bros., meanwhile, will talk about Man of Steel in their panel, which will also include The Hobbit and Pacific Rim.
Comic publishers are well represented, with BOOM!, Marvel, DC Comics, Archie, Archaia, Dark Horse, Image, Top Cow, Drawn & Quarterly, Skybound, Vertigo, Top Shelf and more scheduled for various panels on Saturday. CCI also puts the spotlight on Mark Waid, Morrie Turner, Klaus Janson, Stan Goldberg, Gary Gianni, Jim Lee and many more creators, and celebrates anniversaries for Funky Winkerbean, Love & Rockets, Bob the Angry Flower, Courtney Crumrin and the Gays in Comics panel. And don’t forget about the always entertaining masquerade.
Here are some of the comics-related highlights below; visit the Comic-Con website to see the complete schedule.
Publishing | Heidi MacDonald catches word that Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik is moving on to a new job, which will be announced next month at Comic-Con International (Rich Johnston contends that gig is at BOOM! Studios). Friday will be Sablik’s last day at Top Cow; Social Marketing Coordinator Jessi Reid will assume his marketing duties. [The Beat, Bleeding Cool]
Creators | Through its partnership with the Small Press Expo, the Library of Congress has acquired works by cartoonists Matt Bors, Keith Knight, Jim Rugg, Jen Sorensen, Raina Telgemeier, Matthew Thurber and Jim Woodring. Dean Haspiel’s minicomics collection was added to the holdings just last week. [Comic Riffs]
The Emerald City Comicon wrapped up yesterday in Seattle, with plenty of announcements from attending publishers. Here’s a round-up of news from the show:
• Image Comics officially announced Revival by Tim Seeley ad Mike Norton, the title we teased all last week. Seeley described the book as “rural noir,” and it is set in his home state of Wisconsin: “Both Mike and I grew up in small towns, he in Tennessee, me in Wisconsin. We both hated the towns we were from as teenagers and young adults and got the hell out,” Seeley told CBR. “But, now that we’re both older, we can look on those towns with more understanding and affection. Central Wisconsin is a really interesting place. It’s like concentrated America. It has all of the strengths and all of the weaknesses. All of the good stuff, and all of the conflicts on a more intimate scale. We thought it’d be the perfect setting for our story of a cop charged with policing the dead.”
• James Stokoe will write and draw Godzilla: Half Century War, which arrives from IDW in August. The miniseries is set in a different continuity than the Godzilla ongoing series by Duane Swierczyski and Simon Gane.
• Writer Christos Gage will team with artist Jorge Lucas for Sunset, an original graphic novel from Top Cow’s Minotaur Press. The story revolves around a retired Vegas mob enforcer.
Creators | Dean Haspiel discusses his frustration with creating stories for franchise characters, even working with regular artists and writers for the series, and never hearing back from the editors: “I have a deluge of sad short stories and a bunch of outstanding pitches sitting atop [or buried underneath] comic book editorial desks that will continue to prove that it is nearly impossible to pitch solicited, much less, unsolicited stories. The hurtful part? Editors woo me into thinking I have a chance. I don’t have a chance. Maybe I shot my wad at Vertigo where I pitched and delivered three, critically acclaimed graphic novels? Maybe I’m considered the odd memoir artist who dabbles in digital genre. And, so I’m stuck between too mainstream for the indie crowd and too indie for the mainstream crowd. That used to bother me but now I’m okay with it because, frankly, that’s a cool place to be if you can make ends meet.” [Welcome to Trip City]
Creators | Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat talks about his decision to shift from portraying generic characters in his cartoons to zeroing in on a real person, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and the consequences of that choice. Farzat’s drawings started showing up on protest signs, and then he was attacked and savagely beaten by three men: “”I could hear them saying ‘break his hands so they never dare challenge his masters again.’” Farzat is now living in Kuwait but hopes to return to Syria some day. [Reuters]