Dismissed as a fad 10 years ago, big-screen adaptations bring comic book characters to millions of people every year. Just when you think they’ve peaked, out comes another blockbuster that tops the previous one. Sure, there are also the moderate hits and outright stinkers, but then there arrives an Iron Man or a Dark Knight or a Walking Dead or an Avengers. They’ve long passed the point of being a fluke. They even influence the collectors’ market, with optioning deals causing spikes in sales of back issues and original art, most recently demonstrated by the crazy prices people are willing to pay on eBay for The Walking Dead #1.
So if going from comics to film and television is so great, why is the reverse so rarely true? Comic books that adapt stories from other media (TV, film, video games, books, etc.) are only sometimes great and rarely garner the same kind of enthusiasm and attention. Someone who’s better at Photoshop than me should whip up one of those “said no one ever” images because no one has ever said, “I can’t wait for my favorite blockbuster movie to get adapted into a comic.” And yet most of us could barely keep our composure over the prospects of seeing Marvel’s The Avengers.
Thursday may have started a bit slow in the news department, but it sure ended with a huge bang. Here’s a roundup of announcements that hit today from Comic-Con International in San Diego:
• Neil Gaiman announced via video that he will write a new Sandman miniseries that will detail what happened to Morpheus to allow him to be so easily captured in The Sandman #1. J.H. Williams III will provide the art. “It was a story that we discussed telling for Sandman‘s 20th anniversary,” Gaiman said, “but the time got away from us. And now, with Sandman‘s 25th anniversary year coming up, I’m delighted, and nervous, that that story is finally going to be told.” The series will be published by Vertigo sometime next year.
• Legendary will also publish the Majestic Files by J. Michael Straczynski, which will feature art by Geoff Shaw and Matt Banning.
• Terry Moore will write a Strangers in Paradise prose novel to coincide with the comic’s 20th anniversary next year. He also plans to do an all-ages comic after Rachel Rising finishes in 30-40 issues.
Comics fans will have just one more opportunity to grouse that “Twilight ruined Comic-Con,” as Summit Entertainment confirmed last night that The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2 will be the very first panel of the San Diego convention.
Die-hard Twilight fans, dubbed “Twihards,” have been an unmistakable (or perhaps unavoidable) presence at Comic-Con the past fews years, with a tent-and-sleeping-bag city referred to as Camp Twilight forming outside the San Diego Convention Center three days before the Hall H presentation.
In 2009, ahead of the release of the second movie New Moon, a group of largely male protesters at the convention carried cardboard signs bearing the hand-scrawled, and now infamous, slogan “Twilight ruined Comic-Con,” leading some to wonder whether fanboys were being sexist, or merely territorial (and delighting in not being at the bottom of the pecking order).
Happy Father’s Day and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where each week we talk about what comics and other stuff have been on our reading piles. Today’s guests are two of the contributors to Skullkickers #18, which features several “Tavern Tales” short stories by different creative teams. Joining us today are Charles Soule of 27, Strange Attractors and Strongman fame, and Aubrey Sitterson, winner of the Skullkickers Tavern Tales Contest. He’s also the writer of Gear Monkey for Double Feature Comics and community manager for WWE Games.
To see what Charles, Aubrey and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but you can’t argue with its success — not just the novels and the movies but also the record-shattering bestseller Twilight graphic novel published by Yen Press. The second volume was released last year, and now the news is out that Yen Press will publish two more Twilight graphic novels: The first volume of New Moon, which adapts the next novel in the series, and a Twilight Collectors Edition, that includes the first two volumes in a single omnibus.
Young Kim, who did the first adaptation, will also adapt New Moon. The Twilight Saga has a bit more detail on both books. although the Yen Press Facebook page (which probably attracts more fans of Black Butler and Pandora Hearts than Twilight) elicited a more mixed reaction from commenters. Both books are due out in October.
Anyone who has had the displeasure of editing or reading poorly executed copycat literature is likely entertained by the core premise of writer Andrew Foley & artist Fiona Staples’ Done to Death trade collection: an editor who sets out to kill the writers of bad literature. This trade collection, which was released by IDW on September 21, had quite a six-year journey to get on the shelves, as Foley explained to me in this email interview. My thanks to Foley for his time. Once you’ve read this interview, be sure to read the late September interview that Foley did with CBR’s Shaun Manning.
Tim O’Shea: How long have you been developing Done to Death and how did it come to be at IDW?
Andrew Foley: It’s taken a little over six years to finally get this collection on the shelves. The original five issues took a little more than a year from to get from the initial pitch to publication. After parting ways with Markosia Fiona and I spent quite a while looking for the right publisher for the collection. In the early portion of my career, I had publishers I was working with: abruptly go out of business; unilaterally break contracts they’d agreed to; elect not to publish several graphic novels (at least one fully illustrated) I wrote for them while being constantly reassured they would see the light of day; stiff dozens of creators when the publisher decided the moment for their wildly ambitious anthology series had passed; and just generally try to advance themselves on the backs of passionate (if naïve) creators.
There are some great indy publishers out there. Red 5 springs to mind. But there are also a distressingly high number of predatory companies around whose sole purpose is to acquire or control as much intellectual property for as little as possible in the hopes that one will become 30 Days of Night or Cowboys & Aliens and get optioned for millions of dollars. It’s a bit like playing the lottery, only each ticket represents hundreds of hours of labour on the creators’ parts.
Among the deluge of pre-NYCC press releases was one from Papercutz that really grabbed my attention: According to publisher Terry Nantier (who also helms parent company NBM), pre-orders of their Ninjago graphic novel have topped 170,000 copies. That’s a pretty impressive number.
The graphic novel is based on Lego’s ninja-themed Ninjago playsets, which have already spawned a couple of made-for-TV movies, and there’s a cartoon series in the works. Plus, people really like Lego, so it’s logical that it would do well.
Still, numbers like that put Ninjago in rarefied company. The first printing of Scott Pilgrim (which admittedly wasn’t a slam dunk) was about 10,000, if memory serves. Potential blockbusters justify greater risk: Yen Press announced an initial printing of 350,000 copies of the first Twilight graphic novel, and over 168,000 copies were sold in stores monitored by BookScan (which includes sales from bookstores only, and not all of those) last year.
There aren’t many books that do that well, though. Dork Diaries, which is a prose-graphic novel hybrid, actually topped Twilight on the BookScan charts, and The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung Fu Cave, by Captain Underpants creator Dav Pilkey, came in a very close third. But only those three topped 100,000 copies; Scott Pilgrim filled slots 4 through 9 on the chart, with sales ranging from 90,000 to almost 60,00, and the number 10 book was a volume of Naruto that moved about 53,000 copies.
That effect was even more pronounced in 2009, when BookScan’s top seller Watchmen, dwarfed the ninjas and the vampires with sales of well over 400,000 copies. The second best-selling book that year was Dork Diaries (again!) with sales of over 68,000, a considerable dropoff from the top spot. With graphic novels, it seems you can’t count on volume—unless you have Lego ninjas on your side.
As sure as the moon rises in the East and vampires sparkle in sunlight, die-hard fans of the Twilight series line up early for Summit Entertainment’s Hall H presentation at Comic-Con International in San Diego. But just how early? By at least one account, there were about 20 Twihards outside the San Diego Convention Center late yesterday afternoon, becoming the founders of this year’s version of “Camp Twilight” — or “Camp Breaking Dawn,” if you prefer. Within hours, that number more than doubled, with as many as 50 devotees eagerly awaiting a panel that doesn’t begin until 11:15 a.m. Thursday.
Even the most hardcore comic-book enthusiasts — those who travel hundreds of miles and lay out hundreds, even thousands, of dollars to get a sketch from a favorite artist, sit through panels about favorite characters and rub sweaty elbows with like-minded individuals — have difficulty understanding this level of devotion to Stephanie Meyer’s novels and the movie adaptations.
However, that doesn’t mean members of other fandoms can’t offer a little convention advice to Team Edward and Team Jacob. “Dear Twihards in line at Hall H for #Twilight on Thurs: It is only Monday” Jo Garfein tweeted. “Pattinson will be able to smell you in that 1st row. Deodorize!”
(Photo of nighttime at “Camp Breaking Dawn” via RobPattzNews)
“Fun fact! NINE of the TOP TEN graphic novels in 2010 were creator-owned books! Walking Dead, Kick-Ass and Scott Pilgrim among them.”
–Savage Dragon cartoonist Erik Larsen, speaking the truth. Of course, the flip side of this is that NINE of the TOP TEN graphic novels in 2010 had major Hollywood properties to thank for much of their notoriety, Walking Dead, Kick-Ass, and Scott Pilgrim among them. (The tenth was a Superman book that got over with mass audiences largely on the strength of a fortuitous press comparison to Twilight.) I don’t mean to short-change the success of Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard, Mark Millar, John Romita Jr., and Bryan Lee O’Malley, but proponents of creator ownership and creators’ rights probably ought not break out the MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner just yet.
Creators | Renowned artist Steve Rude and his family are in danger of losing their home, so the co-creator of Nexus is auctioning art in hopes of raising the money to meet a Nov. 15 deadline. [Steve Rude's Facebook, The Comics Reporter]
Publishing | Retailer news and analysis site ICv2.com suggests Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series could close out 2010 as the No. 1 graphic-novel property of the year, surpassing the top-selling adaptation of Stephen Meyer’s Twilight. [ICv2.com]
Digital comics | David Brothers wonders how the rise of digital comics might change comics “culture,” and the Wednesday ritual. [4thletter!]
Stand Up To Cancer, a charity that raises money for and promotes cancer research, has several auctions going right now that might be of interest to comic fans … not the least of which is the above life-size Silver Surfer statue.
“One of only 400 pieces world-wide, the statue incredibly depicts the ‘Sentinel of the Space-ways’ featuring the Silver Surfer on his legendary surfboard and striking a classic pose. The statue measures almost 8ft (7ft x 11) and weighs approximately 250 lbs. The Silver Surfer himself is in excellent condition, but minor wear appears on the surfboard and back drop,” the description reads.
In addition, they’re also auctioning off a walk-on role in the new Spider-Man film, tickets to see the Spider-Man Broadway show (and meet Bono and the Edge from U2), the chance to be immortalized in a DC comic and a visit to the set of the next Twilight movie, Breaking Dawn. That last one is up over $40,000.
The auctions end tomorrow, when a few new ones will go up … including tickets to the season premiere party of the Simpsons. You can find all the auctions here.
On the heels of Georges Jeanty’s cover for Buffy the Vampire Slayer #36, Dark Horse has fired another good-natured shot at Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight empire with a promo for Issue #37, the second part of the final arc of the bestselling Season Eight.
See the full image after the break. Buffy the Vampire Slayer #37 is due in stores on Oct. 6.
by Gene Luen Yang
First Second, 64 pages, $6.99
Every book by Gene Yang thus far follows the same basic thematic plot: A young man (or woman, but usually man) feels his life would be perfect if he could only attain that one special thing (acceptance, money, popularity, etc.). Through supernatural or otherwise fantastical means, he obtains his goal, only to discover (all together now) that it wasn’t what he really needed after all.
So it is with Prime Baby, Yang’s newest book, which was originally serialized in the New York Times Magazine. It’s about a young boy, Thaddeus K, who dreams of global conquest and is supremely resentful, jealous of, and thoroughly annoyed by his baby sister. When it turns out that his sister also serves as an inter-dimensional doorway to an alien world and tens of little pod spaceships start spitting up of her mouth, Thaddeus sees an opportunity to rid himself of his sister once and for all. Does he come to regret his decision? Are there stars in the sky?
Considering that the first volume of Twilight: The Graphic Novel sold more than 66,000 copies in its first week of release — the largest-ever debut for a graphic novel in the United States — it’s no surprise it’s topping sales charts.
On Thursday, the Yen Press adaptation debuted at No. 6 on the USA Today bestseller list, which reflects sales of books in all categories at about 7,000 brick-and-mortar stores plus online retailers. And now this morning, Twilight topped The New York Times graphic book list, which employs some arcane formula that no one seems to understand.
Twilight: The Graphic Novel, adapted by Young Kim, was released on March 16 with a 350,000-copy first printing. Stephenie Meyer’s series of young-adult novels on which the comic is based has sold more than 53 million copies worldwide.
To absolutely no one’s surprise, Yen Press announced yesterday that Twilight: The Graphic Novel had a highly successful debut week. Here’s the official word:
The graphic novel adaption of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight sold over 66,000 copies in its first week, the largest debut for a graphic novel in the US, according to publisher Yen Press. Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1, illustrated by Korean artist Young Kim, already broke the record for largest first printing for a graphic novel with 350,000 copies.
You may be saying, “Duh! It’s Twilight!” but success doesn’t always transcend genres when a prose work is adapted into a graphic novel. When best-selling author Christine Feehan tested the waters with Dark Hunger, a global manga based on her Carpathian novels, readers on Amazon gave it terrible reviews (some of which, admittedly, were due to people buying it online and not realizing it was a graphic novel). The book was on the remainder tables within months. And this for an author whose readers are so obsessed, they compile book-length guides to her created world.
Twilight looks like it will fare better. While the initial burst in sales is not surprising, early reviews have mostly been positive, aside from Chris Sims’ brutal commentary on the lettering. Japanator’s Karen Gellender does a good job of explaining how the graphic novel compares to the prose book, and what it does better.
Of course, these numbers are tiny compared to the real giant of the industry: Jeff Kinney’s graphic novel-ish Diary of a Wimpy Kid series has sold 24 million copies, according to official company PR. That gives Bella and Co. something to shoot for.