Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
Digital comics | Bruce Lidl looks at the digital-comics landscape following Amazon’s purchase of comiXology a few months ago. ComiXology’s announcement that it would allow DRM-free purchases of some comics may lead to a fissure in the market, he says: “In fact, we may be beginning to see a kind of bifurcation in the digital comics market, between companies tied to large global media conglomerates, that maintain a fervent faith in the need for some kind of DRM control for their multi-billion dollar intellectual properties, and the smaller publishers more concerned with creator autonomy and exposure.” He also talks to some digital-first creators about how they approach the market. [Publishers Weekly]
DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint has been the subject of a lot of speculation over the past year or so, due to a variety of portents: the departure of founder and longtime executive editor Karen Berger; the end of the imprint’s longest-running title Hellblazer, with the character reclaimed by the DC Universe in Justice League Dark and Constantine; the debut at Image Comics of several comics that, not long ago, likely would’ve been pitched to Vertigo; and the launch of the offbeat Dial H, by none other than acclaimed author China Mieville, in the New 52.
There was the perception that the imprint’s branding had become confused, with books that used to fall under to the dissolved WildStorm imprint (and seem like better fits for the DC brand) appearing under the Vertigo banner (superhero comics Astro City and Tom Strong, movie adaptation Django Unchained). And then there were the low sales and cancellations.
Well, Vertigo’s still around. It launched The Wake, a limited series by American Vampire and Batman writer Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy, and the imprint has plans for a new Sandman miniseries and a Sandman spinoff. And in the last few months, it has launched enough new series to be considered a wave.
So what does that mean for the future of the imprint? I’ll be damned if I know. However, I do know it’s not the most important question in my mind. Of greatest import to me, as always, is whether the comics are any good. So let’s take a look at the the beginnings of Vertigo’s latest crop, excluding The Wake, which I think it’s safe to assume will find an audience.
DC Comics hasn’t had a particularly good run of things lately. To be frank, the publisher has done blown it a number of times over the past few years. But don’t worry, DC fans — I’m sure it’ll soon be Marvel’s turn, as the two rivals seem to trade off every five years or so.
I’ve been calling out DC for the past couple of weeks, but that doesn’t mean everything it does strikes me as wrong. It’s important to declare shenanigans, but it’s also important to recognize when a publisher does something that’s good for comics.
So here are six things DC is doing right:
1. Digital comics: Legends of the Dark Knight and Adventures of Superman are digital-first anthology series that feature some excellent creators (from Jeff Parker and Chris Samnee to J.M. DeMatteis and Jeff Lemire) producing completely accessible and entertaining stories that stand on their own; no college course on the New 52 or Crisis on Infinite Earths required. Yes, these stories are out of continuity — so for a percentage of readers, they don’t count. That’s a mistake, because there’s nothing wrong with a straight-up superhero tale that exists on its own terms. These two anthologies are the gems of DC’s digital-first line-up, but Batman ’66 and Batman: Li’l Gotham also offer fantastical takes on the iconic Caped Crusader that are bright and fun. For those exhausted by the angsty versions of serious stories, you owe it to yourself to check these out.
Jeff Lemire’s next big project for Vertigo, following his run on Sweet Tooth, kicked off this week. Trillium #1 sees Lemire return to both writing and art duties after a few months of focusing just on the writing half of the equation with comics like Green Arrow and Animal Man. Reuniting with colorist Jose Villarrubia, who worked with him on Sweet Tooth, Lemire “combines rich historical adventure and mind-bending science fiction into a sprawling, unconventional love story.” Plus, it’s a flipbook!
What did people think of the first issue? Here are a few thoughts from around the web.
Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. This weekend is the D23 Expo, the event that Disney devotees look forward to for months. But the latest installment also promises plenty for Marvel and Star Wars fans.
Before you pack your mouse ears, though, there are new comics to read, ranging from Sidekick #1 to The Thrilling Adventure Hour to In the Days of the Mob. Continue on to see what ROBOT 6’s contributors have to say about their picks of the week.
With all of the hustle and bustle and early announcements, it may be a little difficult to believe, but Preview Night is still a day away, and Comic-Con International doesn’t officially begin until Thursday. By that time, we should be fully exhausted.
But before we experience information overload, let’s take a look at some of the pre-convention information trickling in, ranging from trolley schedules to etiquette and survival guides to where to live it up while in San Diego:
• Entertainment Weekly highlights ‘five comics to watch” during Comic-Con: Marvel’s Inhuman and “Inhumanity,” Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette’s Wonder Woman: Earth One, DC’s “Villains Month,” the 10th anniversary of The Walking Dead, and Jeff Lemire’s Trillium.
• The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System has increased trolley service on the Green Line, which provides direct transportation to the stations in front of the San Diego Convention Center. Service also will be expanded throughout Comic-Con; see a complete rundown on the MTS website.
WonderCon Anaheim 2013 kicked off yesterday at the Anaheim Convention Center, with badges for Friday selling out at some point during the day. Saturday and three-day badges already sold out, so it looks like just Sunday is left if you were hoping to attend but didn’t purchase your badge in advance.
There weren’t a lot of announcements coming out of the show yesterday, and in fact I’m not completely sure what could be considered “WonderCon news” and what was just, um, news, but here’s a round-up of stuff you may have missed from Friday:
• 2014 will bring a crossover between DC’s two Earths, according to Earth 2 writer James Robinson. “If I’m talking about a big event that’s happening in 2014, it’s all these characters meeting each other,” said Robinson, citing Crisis on Infinite Earths and the Justice Society during his spotlight panel in Anaheim. Robinson also said his goal was to make sure the writers involved in the event were invested in the story, and described himself as “the point guy” when it comes to the event, saying that Scott Snyder, Geoff Johns and Dan DiDio are also very involved. Earth 2 is also getting its own Batman, and the book will also feature the introductions of Starman (Ted Knight), Red Arrow (Earth 2’s version of Green Arrow), Hourman, Wildcat, Mister Miracle and Big Barda in the future.
After a late afternoon opening to the general public on Thursday, the New York Comic Con kicked into high gear today with panels, announcements and the usual con craziness we’ve come to expect from big shows. Here’s a round-up of comic-related news and announcements coming out of Friday. If you missed anything from Thursday, I’ve also got your back. I’d also point you to Brigid Alverson’s rundown of the ICv2 sessions before NYCC that go deep on comic sales in 2011 and 2012 thus far, if you’re into that.
• Keith Giffen returns to the stars next year with Threshold, a new DC Comics series that features Blue Beetle, Space Ranger, Star Hawkins, the original Starfire and other space heroes, with a Larfleeze back-up. Giffen also seemingly confirmed that the current Blue Beetle series is coming to an end.
• Vertigo announced several new projects today, including The Wake by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy, Trillium by Jeff Lemire and an Unwrtten/Fables event that will see the Unwritten characters wander into the Fables comic. Snyder said that American Vampire will go on hiatus after issue #34 so he and artist Rafael Albuquerque can catch up on it. When it returns, it’ll jump ahead to the 1960s.