DC Comics' "Rebirth" Character Designs for Batman, Wonder Woman and More
Legal | The Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau has sued the organizers of Space City Comic Con, claiming trademark infringement over the event’s use of the term “Space City.” Many Houston businesses use the nickname, which dates back to the 1960s, but the bureau’s lawyer said the trademark only covers tourism- and convention-related events. The bureau owns a 50 percent share in Comicpalooza, which directly competes with Space City Comic Con, and has asked the court to not only stop the show from using the name “Space City” but also to turn over part of its profits and agree not to compete with the bureau. [Houston Chronicle]
Cartoons | Playboy was once one of the best markets for gag cartoons, but with the recent redesign, they were tossed out the window along with the nude centerfolds. Jules Feiffer, Doug Sneyd, Playboy editorial director Jason Buhrmester and others talk about the reasons for, and ramifications of, that decision, Playboy‘s history as a magazine showcasing great cartoons, and what the future may hold. [FastCoCreate]
Conventions | Comiket, the world’s largest comics expo, drew 550,000 attendees to its summer edition, which ended Sunday at to the Tokyo Big Sight. That’s about the same number of people as the summer 2014 installment. (Note: Those figures account for the number of visits during the three-day convention to the Tokyo Big Sight, rather than individual attendees.) The winter installment of the biannual event will be held in December. [Anime News Network]
Conventions | In an attempt to avoid the sort of bad press they got last year, organizers of Rhode Island Comic Con put a clause in this year’s press application requiring news organizations promise to avoid “insulting or disrespectful comments and giving a bad image of the show” in order to get press passes. That worked about as well as you would expect: The convention quickly apologized and reversed course following push-back from not only the Rhode Island Press Association but also the Rhode Island Convention Center and Dunkin’ Donuts Center. [GoLocal Providence]
Comics | How do you say “Bam! Pow!” in Russian? A group of Russian translators is calling for comics translators to use words derived from the official languages of the Russian Federation rather than simply rendering the existing sound effects in the Russian alphabet. “In comic books you can often encounter words imitating sounds,” the translators said in a letter to the Vinogradov Russian Language Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. “How can one express the sound of a phone ringing, of a creaky door, or a soda can being popped open, or the crinkle of an ice cream wrapper, or the sound of a motorcyclist’s foot rubbing against the ground? Often translators simply transliterate the English words.” Instead, they recommend using indigenous substitutes such as “chorkh” (scratching) and “khurt-khurt” (swallowing), both derived from Lezgian, a language spoken in Dagestan and Azerbaijan. [The Moscow Times, The Calvert Journal]
Graphic novels | Sonny Liew’s graphic novel The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye has sold through its second printing in Singapore and is heading into a third, just weeks after the country’s National Arts Council abruptly withdrew funding. The graphic novel traces the career of pioneering Singaporean cartoonist Charlie Chan Hock Chye through 60 years of the country’s history and includes satirical portrayals of Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore, and his rival Lim Chin Siong. An NAC official said it “potentially undermines the authority or legitimacy of the Government and its public institutions.” The graphic novel has already sold 2,500 copies, making it “the top-selling local fiction title so far this year.”
Passings | Underground comics artist Michele Wrightson has died. As Michele Brand, she was a contributor to the first all-women underground comics anthology, It Ain’t Me Babe, with a story titled “Tirade Funnies” that still rings true 45 years later. That comic spawned the ongoing Wimmen’s Comix, to which she was also a contributor. Wrightson was also a colorist for Marvel and several other publishers and was married first to cartoonist Roger Brand and then to artist Bernie Wrightson, with whom she collaborated on the Creepshow graphic novel. Stephen Bissette has more in a Facebook post, including the fact that she helped Louise Simonson get her first job in comics. [The Beat]
Conventions | Convention producer ReedPOP will add Vienna Comic Con in Austria to a growing roster of shows that already includes the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, New York Comic Con, Emerald City Comicon, PAX, OZ Comic Con, Shanghai Comic Con, Star Wars Celebration and Comic Con Paris. It’s scheduled for Nov. 21-22 at Messe Wien in Vienna. ”We aim to make Vienna Comic Con the leading pop culture event in Central Europe,” Barbara Leithner of Reed Exhibitions said in a statement. “Fans at Vienna Comic Con will experience unique programs and events, and meet pop culture creatives from all over the world.” [press release]
Conventions | Organizers anticipate as many as 70,000 people will attend MegaCon, held Friday through Sunday at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, up from about 60,000 last year; that could translate to $23 million impact on the local economy, according to the Orlando Business Journal. Guests include Amanda Conner, Darwyn Cooke, Chuck Dixon, Adam Kubert, Greg Land, Stan Lee, Jimmy Palmiotti, George Perez, Herb Trimpe, Mark Waid and Skottie Young. However, the names drawing the most attention may be The Walking Dead stars David Morrissey, Danai Gurira and Steve Yeun. “We are the first convention in the U.S. to have both David Morrissey and Danai Gurira at the same time,” Jason Smith, MegaCon’s director of operations, told Florida Today. “The show is definitely a fan favorite of our attendees.” [MegaCon]
Comics sales | ICv2 unpacks February’s miserable direct market sales numbers a bit, noting that for the second month in a row just one comic — in this case, Batman #28 — sold more than 100,000 copies, indicating weakness at the top of the list. Since September 2011, when the most recent “growth spurt” began, at least two comics have sold more than 100,000 copies each month; however, that streak ended with the first two months of 2014. One cause of the poor sales may be the unusually cold winter, which meant higher heating bills and thus less disposable income for some folks. ICv2 also has a separate analysis of dollar sales and the charts of the top 300 comics and graphic novels of the month. [ICv2]
Conventions | Creators like Neal Adams, Tim Bradstreet, Howard Chaykin, Amanda Conner and Scott Lobdell will headline the Long Beach Comic & Horror Con, held Saturday and Sunday at the Long Beach Convention Center. “I think most of our artists are thrilled to come back each year,” said Phil Lawrence, principal sales director for the event. “This is the earliest we sold out our Artists Alley and we have almost 190 tables. By focusing on the artists and giving them their due, they seem to keep coming back and signing up earlier — and they promote the show, which helps us out, too.” [Gazettes.com]
Veteran translator Matt Thorn has been involved in the so-called manga revolution from its earliest days—he started translating for Viz in the 1990s—and now he is the editor and translator of Fantagraphics’ manga line. Matt remembers when manga publishers had standards, and translators made good money; his top price was $17 per page. “Mind you, there was no shortage of enthusiastic otaku willing to work for peanuts,” he writes. “It’s just that no respectable publisher ever seriously considered hiring such people unless they proved themselves, and even then they were paid a decent wage.” Then Stu Levy came along.
TokyoPop changed that. Why pay six bucks a page when there’s this kid here who will do something vaguely resembling a “translation” for five bucks a page? Or four? Or even three?
I was stunned when I first heard that there were kids at TokyoPop working for three bucks a page. That’s not even close to a living wage.
The practice was cynical on many levels. Obviously, it was exploitation of the translator. But it also revealed a contempt for the reader: These kids can’t tell the difference between good writing and bad, so why pay more for better writing?