Creators | Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson and Cul de Sac cartoonist Richard Thompson discuss their mutual admiration and their excitement about exhibiting their work together next spring at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at the Ohio State University. [Comic Riffs]
Legal | Chinese cartoonist Wang Luming, who uses the nom de plume “Rebel Pepper,” was arrested Wednesday, one day after he posted an online cartoon critical of police who were facing off with protestors rather than helping flood victims in the city of Yuyao. Residents have been critical of the government response to the flood, which put 70 percent of the city underwater, but a recently passed law suppressing online commentary has muted the criticism on social media. The Beijing Times (part of of the traditional media, which is heavily controlled by the Chinese government) claimed that Wang was arrested not because of the cartoon but because he spread a false rumor online (Reuters reports the police told his girlfriend it was because he forwarded a post about a woman and her child who starved to death in the floods). He was released Thursday and tweeted, “When I have time, I’ll tell you about the interesting night I spent at the police station.” [Foreign Policy]
Digital comics | IDW Publishing released its first batch of digital comics on the motion-comics platform Madefire this week. The selection includes partially animated My Little Pony, Star Trek and Transformers comics, which sell for $1.99 each. Jeff Webber, IDW’s vice president of digital publishing, noted that because Madefire has a partnership with DeviantArt, the books are being exposed to “an incredibly broad network of illustration fans.” To commemorate My Little Pony’s Madefire debut, Dave Gibbons drew the image at right “to show that Friendship IS Magic!” `[Publishers Weekly]
Passings | Cartoonist Jack Matsuoka, who chronicled life in the Poston, Arizona, internment camp in his book Camp II, Block 211, has died at the age of 87. , Born in the United States to Japanese parents, Matsuoka was a teenager when his family was sent to internment camps in Salinas, California, and then Poston. After leaving the camp he was drafted and served as an interpreter for the U.S. Army in occupied Japan. He went to college on the G.I. Bill and worked as an illustrator and cartoonist for many years. Camp II, Block 211 was based on sketches he did while living in the camps and set aside for many years; his mother found them and encouraged him to share them with the public. They were put on exhibit in San Francisco and then collected into the book, which was first published in 1974. A revised edition was released in 2003. [The Rafu Shimpo]
Manga | As part of the 45th-anniversary celebration of Weekly Shonen Jump, legendary Dragon Ball and Dr. Slump creator Akira Toriyama will launch a new manga series called Ginga Patrol Jaka (Galactic Patrol Jaka) in the magazine’s July 13 issue. Teased only with vague declaration “The ‘legend’ of hope for the entire world returns here!!,” the series marks the 58-year-old artist’s first manga since the 2010 one-shot Kintoki, created for Weekly Shonen Jump‘s “Top of the Super Legend” project. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Carol Tyler speaks frankly about her struggle to finish the third book of her trilogy You’ll Never Know while taking care of her dying mother and her seriously ill sister, who are characters in the book: “I literally had to do the back end of Book III in hospitals, nursing homes, at the chemo place and in waiting rooms. It was insane.” She also discusses her style choices and how the finished books differed from her original art. [The Comics Journal]
Awards | Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times, written by Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton and illustrated by Greg Chapman, won the Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in a graphic novel, presented over the weekend by the Horror Writers Association. Winners with a comic-book connection in other categories include Caitlin R. Kiernan (novel, The Drowning Girl), Jonathan Maberry (young-adult novel, Flesh & Bone), and Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard (screenplay, The Cabin in the Woods). [Horror Writers Association]
Graphic novels | Heidi MacDonald looks at Dark Horse’s plans to expand its Originals line of creator-owned graphic novels this year; upcoming releases include print editions of Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover’s Bandette and Cameron Stewart’s Sin Titulo, as well as a new graphic novel, Bad Houses, by Sara Ryan and Carla Speed McNeil. [Publishers Weekly]
IDW may be one of the Big Five publishers in the direct market — that is, one of the five publishers whose titles are listed separately from those of the hoi polloi in Diamond Comic Distributors’ Previews catalog. But unlike the Biggest Two, IDW’s line consists mainly of comics based on a variety of licensed concepts*, and therefore do not feature shared settings like the DC Universe or the Marvel Universe.
You’d think that would prohibit the company from doing the sorts of line-wide crossover stories that DC and Marvel have been pumping out with regularity, but IDW has found a pretty clever way to have its licensed comics cake and eat its intra-company crossovers as well, by dreaming up a fairly generic threat, and then having that threat appear in a bunch of unrelated comics whose characters never really meet.
Rather than all the characters teaming up to fight the same threat on the same battlefield at the same time, as in your Crisis on Infinite Earths or Civil War or whatnot, IDW’s crossovers are a bit more like individual battles in large-scale wars taking place in different dimensions.
So, for example, 2011′s Infestation crossover pitted zombies from the publisher’s Zombies Vs. Robots comics against characters from G.I. Joe, Transformers, The Ghostbusters and Star Trek, in two-issue miniseries set in different universes. That was followed by Infestation 2, in which Lovecraftian space-god-monster-things invaded the home universes of G.I. Joe, Transformers, Dungeons & Dragons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and 30 Days of Night.
More recently, IDW published a much smaller-scale, simpler crossover story of sorts in Mars Attacks …, in which the little green skull-faced men of the 1960s Topps collectible cards (and 1996 Tim Burton movie) “invaded” comics featuring a comically diverse group of licensed characters. For the more patient among us, it arrived in trade format this month, in a collection titled Mars Attacks IDW.
There have been other steampunk Avengers, but with the Hulk in suspenders and a bowler? I’d read a comic just about him.
Anyway, Brian Kesinger is awesome and you should check out his blog and DeviantArt page. He also does steampunk other things, like Transformers, G.I. Joe, and Star Wars. But if steampunk’s not your thing, his Hip Hop Boba Fett and Pooh vs. Voldemort are cool, too. I posted bunch of my favorites below.
From the annals of “Oh, What Might’ve Been” comes this doozy, courtesy of Brian Michael Bendis: art from Phil Jimenez ‘s pitch for a Justice League/Transformers crossover that, for some reason, never came about.
“Oh, what an epic that would have been,” Jimenez wrote last night on Twitter, saying to one follower, “You missed out on Wonder Woman’s invisible jet becoming a very cool Transformer.” You can get a peek of that in the image above, along with an enormous Bat-former and, perhaps best of all, Optimus Prime as a Green Lantern. (He added this morning, “Giving credit where credit is due: the idea for Optimus Prime as a GL was none other than [IDW Publishing Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall's].”
Jimenez also dusted off another piece of art featuring Prime wielding his power ring and Megatron clutching Superman’s tattered cape, which you can see below. Hopefully the artist will offer more details about the pitch, and why it never went anywhere.
The Walking Dead #100 has already been trumpeted as the bestselling comic, in initial orders, since 1997, so it comes as absolutely no surprise that those 383,612 copies were more than enough to lead Diamond Comic Distributors’ Top 10 list for July. It’s the first time in its nearly nine-year run that the horror series by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard has topped the chart.
However, it also marks another milestone: It’s the first time in almost a decade that a comic published by a company other than Marvel or DC has claimed the top spot in the direct market. That honor, in November 2002, went to another Image title, Masters of the Universe #1, by Val Staples and Emiliano Santalucia. Of course, that comic sold about 270,000 fewer copies than the 100th issue of The Walking Dead, according to the invaluable Comichron archives.
Before that, though, the now-defunct Dreamwave Productions had a pretty good run, with its Transformers series leading the monthly sales charts for a full half of 2002.
Comic-Con International kicked into full gear Friday in a bustling second day that was capped off last night with the presentation of the 24th annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. Here’s the highlights of the announcements emerging from the second day — and a few holdovers from the first day — of the San Diego convention:
• During its annual “Cup O’ Joe” panel, Marvel teased post-Avengers Vs. X-Men plans that include: A+X, described as “the opposite of [AvX: VS],” by such creators as Jeph Loeb, Dan Slott, Dale Keown and Ron Garney; Avengers Vs. X-Men: Consequences, a five-issue miniseries written by Kieron Gillen that addresses the effects of the summer crossover; Marvel NOW! Point One, featuring Nick Fury Jr.; and an October one-shot called Avengers Vs. X-Men: Babies, by Skottie Young.
• After initially dismissing Kickstarter as a potential source of money for the stalled Goon animated movie, creator Eric Powell teased he plans to launch a campaign on the crowd-funding website.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is Tim Seeley, whose work you may know from Hack/Slash, Bloodstrike, Witchblade, Colt Noble, the upcoming Ex Sanguine and Revival, and much more.
To see what Tim has been reading lately, click below.
Welcome once again to our Shelf Porn column, where we help fans share their shelves. Today’s submission comes from Chris Campbell, an attorney from Virginia who shows us his graphic novels, original art and more.
If you’d like to see your collection here, drop me an email at email@example.com with a brief write-up and some jpgs.
And now let’s hear from Chris …
Here’s good news for fans of the television show Smallville who were left without their fix in May when the series went off the air for good: DC announced today that Smallville is coming back as a comic, which will be released first in digital and then in print form. The series will be written by Bryan Q. Miller, who was a scriptwriter for the show, and will pick up where the television story left off. Pere Perez, who worked with Miller on Batgirl: The Flood, will handle the art, and the digital cover above is by Cat Staggs.
DC has an interesting strategy for this comic: It will launch as a digital comic on April 13, with a new digital chapter coming out each week. (No word on pricing or length.) About a month later, it will come out as a print comic, collecting the chapters and adding an episode guide; the first print comic is due out on May 16, and Gary Frank (Superman Secret Origin) will be doing the covers for the print issues.
The weekly chapters are an interesting twist. Not only do they mimic the timing of the original show, they make the comic more of an immediate experience, something people come back to frequently and discuss in real time, as opposed to a monthly event. IDW is doing something similar with its Transformers series Autocracy, publishing an eight-page digital chapter every two weeks, priced at 99 cents. And of course there’s Shonen Jump Alpha, the digital reincarnation of Viz’s Shonen Jump, which publishes a chapter a week of six different manga within two weeks of their Japanese release, with a teen-friendly price of 99 cents per issue (less if you get the yearly subscription).
This seems quaint now, but it was big news in March 2009 when IDW Publishing made its Star Trek prequel comics available digitally on the iPhone/iPod Touch (the iPad hadn’t been invented yet, kids), and released the fourth issue the same day in print and digital. IDW’s partner in that endeavor was iVerse, and while the publisher’s digital strategy evolved over the next few years, iVerse remained as the provider for its branded iPad app… until this week, when IDW announced it has switched the provider of the branded IDW app to comiXology.
It’s big news, but in an insider-baseball sort of way. Readers who are already riding on the digital comics bandwagon won’t notice a difference. IDW started putting its comics on the comiXology digital comics service a few months ago, and when I checked iVerse’s Comics + app this morning, the IDW comics hadn’t disappeared. That isn’t surprising: IDW has spread its nets wide, putting comics on everything from the Kindle to the manga site eManga. So the headline on the press release is really just a change in the back end. What is really significant is that comiXology now has nearly a complete collection, providing digital distribution and branded apps for almost every major publisher except Dark Horse (which has its own app) and Archie (which puts their comics on comiXology’s Comics app but has iVerse run their branded app).
In advance of this week’s New York Comic Con, IDW Publishing announced a sequel to last year’s Infestation crossover that will run from January through April.
Infestation 2, like its predecessor, will feature a supernatural threat that spreads into several different “universes” inhabited by IDW properties. Instead of zombies, this time around the threat is the “Old Ones” from horror writer H.P Lovercraft’s stories. Duane Swierczynski (Birds of Prey, Cable) and David Messina, who drew the original Infestation series, are the creative team on the two-issue Infestation 2 series, while other creative teams will tackle the related books featuring Transformers, G.I. Joe, 30 Days of Night and more. Here’s a breakdown of the event:
- Infestation 2 #1 ($3.99, 32 pages, full color) will be available in stores on Jan. 25, with covers by Alex Garner and Livio Ramondelli.
- Infestation 2: Transformers #1 and #2 will be in stores on Feb. 1 and 15, respectively. It’s by writer Chuck Dixon and artist Guido Guidi and is set in the “Hearts of Steel” timeline.
- Infestation 2: Dungeons & Dragons: Eberron #1 and #2 will be in stores on Feb. 8 and 22, respectively, written by Dungeons & Dragons novelist Paul Krill.
- Infestation 2: Team-up one-shot will be in stores on Feb. 29, featuring the Weekly World News‘ Bat Boy and Groom Lake’s grey alien Archibald. It’s by Chris Ryall and Alan Robinson, with covers by Eric Powell and Bill Morrison.
- Infestation 2: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 and #2 will be in stores on March 7 and 21, respectively, by Tristan Jones and Mark Torres.
- Infestation 2: G.I. Joe #1 and #2 will be in stores on March 14 and 28, respectively, by Mike Raicht and Valentine de Landro.
- Infestation 2: 30 Days of Night one-shot will be in stores on April 4, by Swierczynski and artist Stuart Sayger.
- Infestation 2 #2 will be available in stores on April 11.
Every issue of the event will feature a connected cover by artist Livio Ramondelli, and IDW will produce special incentive temporary tattoos with each issue. IDW will also release promotional ashcans in November with interviews and artwork.
Update: Comic Book Resources talks to Ryall about the project. He confirms that J. Scott Campbell’s Danger Girl will be a part of the event, although she won’t have her own series or one-shot tie-in. IDW will publish a new Danger Girl series next spring.
IDW Publishing and comiXology have partnered to make the publisher’s complete library available digitally across all comiXology platforms — iOS, the Android and the Web.
Beginning today, the entire Transformers line, previously sold only through comiXology’s Android app or online store, will also be available through comiXology’s apps for the various Apple devices. Several new IDW titles, including the first issue of the new Star Trek ongoing, the first two issues of Locke & Key: Clockworks and the first six issues of G.I. Joe, will also appear starting today. More comics will be added later.
Previously IDW’s comics were only available on Apple’s iOS through iVerse and the various iVerse-created IDW apps.
“ComiXology customers have asked for IDW to be part of the Comics by comiXology lineup for some time, and we’re thrilled to bring our catalog to those readers,” Jeff Webber, IDW’s director of ePublishing, said in a statement. “We’ve always been impressed with comiXology’s strength in offering comics across multiple platforms, including Apple iOS, Android and the Web. David and his team have put together an awesome offering. ComiXology has established a huge audience — I know we’re going to make a lot of IDW fans happy this week.”