Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
Udon Entertainment announced at Comic-Con International in San Diego that it has acquired one of the most sought-after manga licenses ever, Ryoko Ikeda’s “Rose of Versailles,” as well as two other series: Moyoco Anno’s “Sugar Sugar Rune,” which was previously published by Del Rey Manga, and “Stein’s Gate” based on the “Steins;Gate” video game.
“Rose of Versailles,” set in the court of the French queen Marie Antoinette, is one of the most popular and influential manga of all time, and became a shared experience for a generation of Japanese women. The main character in the story is Oscar Francois de Jarjayes, the youngest daughter of the leader of the palace guard, who is raised as a man so she can succeed her father. The story mingles real historical events with romance, drama, and palace intrigue, with Oscar in the center and Marie Antoinette, her paramour Count Axel von Ferson, and Oscar’s childhood friend Andre Grandier all playing major roles.
Graphic novels | Once again, Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? leads the BookScan list of the top-selling graphic novels in bookstores. Volumes one and two of March also did well on the February chart, placing third and fourth, respectively. All four volumes of Saga made the list, along with three volumes of The Walking Dead and, shockingly, just one of Attack on Titan. [ICv2]
Creators | Jeff Lemire began getting calls from Hollywood even before the first issue of his new series Descender, a collaboration with artist Dustin Nguyen, came out. But while they sold the film rights to Sony Pictures, Lemire is determined the comic will come first: “I think one of the biggest things that went into us choosing Sony [was], we made it very clear — and they were very receptive — that we were going to tell the comic book the way we wanted to tell the comic. Meaning, if in the comic we wanted to veer left and they wanted to go right with the movie, we could do that.” [Comic Riffs]
For comics fans, Black Friday was only the warm-up, as a number of companies are also holding sales today for Cyber Monday. From graphic novels and digital comics to art books and superhero-themed apparel, there’s likely something to be found for the fan in your life (even if that means picking up a little something for yourself).
Most of the deals end at midnight tonight, so don’t procrastinate. And if you’re aware of a a Cyber Monday sale we missed, let us know in the comments.
• Marvel has undertaken its own roundup, highlighting deals from its partners. In addition, this week a subscription to Marvel Unlimited is just 75 cents for the first month for new or former subscribers (it’s usually $9.99).
• You have until 11:59 p.m. PT to take advantage of Image Comics’ big Cyber Monday sale: 50 percent off all digital titles on the publisher’s online storefront.
Comics | Check your longboxes, folks: Copies of Marvel’s Sunfire & Big Hero 6 #1, from 1998, with a CGC grade of 9.8 are selling for $450 and up ahead of the premiere of the Disney animated film, and even non-graded copies are good for $25 or more. [ICv2]
Creators | Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick talks about the character, and her reaction to the newly announced Marvel film: “I feel so proud of her, like Carol is this person who lives in my head, and ‘look what you did, girl!’ It feels like a friend just got a promotion.” [Speakeasy]
Publishing | Chris Butcher announced that, after three years as marketing director, he’s left UDON Entertainment to focus more fully on his work for the Toronto store The Beguiling (where he’s manager) and the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (where he’s festival director). [Comics212]
Passings | Jay Maeder, who was the last writer for the comic strip Annie (formerly Little Orphan Annie), passed away Tuesday at age 67. A former New York Daily News columnist and editor who authored Dick Tracy: The Official Biography and contributed to The Encyclopedia of American Comics, Maeder worked on Annie, together with artist Andrew Pepoy, from 2000 its cancellation 2010. He created Amelia Santiago, a pilot and CIA agent, and once said of the strip, “I tell people it’s Indiana Jones with chicks.” [The New York Times]
Manga | Deb Aoki rounds up the manga news from Comic-Con International, including UDON’s license of Kill la Kill and Drawn and Quarterly’s plans to publish Shigeru Mizuki’s biography of Hitler. [Publishers Weekly]
Although Saturday at Comic-Con International was dominated by movies and television — led by Warner Bros. Pictures, Marvel Studios and Legendary Pictures — there was still room for plenty of comics news. First and foremost, the announcement of Marvel’s Star Wars plans.
That line, telling canonical stories set between the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, launches in January with Star Wars, by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday, followed in February by Star Wars: Darth Vader, by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca with covers by Adi Granov, and in March by the miniseries Star Wars: Princess Leia, by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson.
“What’s great about this time period is that all the characters are kind of on the table,” Aaron told CBR News. “Of course this is still early on and these people have pretty much just met each and just come together. So they’re still finding their place within this group and sort of figuring out their relationships with each other. Then there’s the fact that when you look at the gap between Episode IV and Episode V there’s some pretty major beats that happen off screen. So this gives up the opportunity to grab those beats and lay them down as part of the same canon as the movies.”
UDON Entertainment will introduce Manga Classics, a new line of adaptations of literary classics geared toward a young-adult audience.
The line launches in August with the release of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, featuring art by SunNeko Lee, with an adaptation by Crystal Silvermoon and an English script by Stacy King, and Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, with art by Po Tse and an adaptation King.
Although the United States has never really embraced the Boxing Day tradition, Americans do like a good sale. So it’s lucky for comics fans the world over that a handful of publishers are offering some post-Christmas deals.
• Dark Horse Digital continues its “2013 #1s Sale” through Dec. 29, with the debut issues of such titles as The Black Beetle: No Way Out, B.P.R.D.: Vampire, Itty Bitty Hellboy and Star Wars available for download for 99 cents.
• DC Entertainment is offering digital versions of its 25 essential graphic novels — All-Star Superman, Batman: Year One and the first volumes of The Sandman, American Vampire and Y: The Last Man, among them — for $5.99 each through Jan. 2.
• At comiXology, you can find the digital collection of the entire Locke & Key series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez for $44.99 (or half price on nearly all of the individual issues and volumes) through Dec. 29. Also: Marvel NOW! titles are available for 99 cents each through Jan. 2.
Publishing | John Jackson Miller dissects the latest sales numbers and finds July 2013 to be the second-best month for comics sales in the direct market so far this century—actually, since 1997. Combined comics and graphic novel sales were up almost 17 percent compared to July 2012, and year-to-date sales are up almost 13 percent compared to last year. [The Comichron]
Retailing | Brian Hibbs, one of the founding members of the direct-market trade organization ComicsPRO, has left the group “because of the reactions of the Board to recent DC moves.” He revealed his decision in the comments on his blog post about DC’s allocation of 3D covers for Villains Month: “The org that I formed was intended to look out for the little guy; the current Board seems much more interested in keeping the big guys big. Democracy in action, I suppose, so I vote with my dollars.” [ICv2]
The announcement, made Friday at Comic-Con International in San Diego, was accompanied by the digital release of seven licensed and original comics and graphic novels from UNDON’s back catalog: Street Fighter #0-4, by Ken Siu-Chong, Arnold Tsang, Alvin Lee, Alan Tam and others; Makeshift Miracle #1, by Jim Zub and Shun Hong Chan; and Super Street Fighter, Vol. 1: New Generations, by Ken Siu-Chong, Jim Zub, Chris Sims, Jeffrey Chamba Cruz, Sean Galloway, Joe Ng, Gonzalo Ordonez Arias, Long Vo, Omar Dogan and Edwin Huang.
Those initial seven titles will be followed by more from UDON’s back catalog, with new comics receiving same-day digital release.
“We’re very excited to have many of UDON’s original and licensed works available through comiXology,” UDON Publisher Erik Ko said in a press release. “We’ve been working hard to secure digital rights for many of our licenses for the past several years, and we’ve prepared a slate of licensed comics and graphic novels from our Street Fighter and Darkstalkers line, as well as selections from our manga, art book, and original graphic novel series’ that fans are really going to love.”
ComiXology announced a similar distribution agreement on Thursday with manga publisher Seven Seas Entertainment.
Going to PAX East in Boston over the weekend was like going to a comic convention on another planet.
The gestalt was the same — the exhibit floor, the booths, the cosplayers, the panels — but everything was a little off. The crowd was bigger and younger. Huge screens advertised properties I knew by name only. A lot of the attendees were glued to consoles or computer screens, playing games; one side of the convention center was split into a massive tabletop gaming area and an even bigger PC gaming section. The part that really came closest to a comic con was the indie area on the exhibit floor, where developers were hand-selling their games the way indie creators promote their graphic novels.
UDON Entertainment, which produces a lot of game-related art books, is extending the deadline for submissions to its World of Warcraft Tribute Book until Jan. 31. The book, which will be similar to the company’s Street Fighter, Darkstalkers and Mega Man fan anthologies, will debut in hardcover this summer at Comic-Con International in San Diego and in softcover in the fall.
UDON’s Stacy King, who is coordinating the project, explained the deadline extension:
If you’ve been eyeing that Marvel vs. Capcom: Complete Work hardcover for a while now but just couldn’t talk yourself into shelling out a hundred bucks, today’s your lucky day: UDON Entertainment is holding a “Boxing Day Super Sale,” with all items in its online store offered at 50 percent off their original price. So today (and today only) that art book can be yours for $49.99. You can also get your hands on issues of series like Street Fighter and G.I. Joe Vs. Transformers III, posters, prints and softcover collections — all at a 50-percent discount.
Everyone may be talking ab out this summer’s face-off between the Avengers and this X-Men, but that fight is patty-cake compared to the drawn-out gang war between Marvel and Capcom. As shown in a string of hit video games whose sales eclipse AvX 10 times over, people love seeing Street Fighter characters go up against Marvel’s finest. And now, comic fans — and video game fans — have a chance to find out more about the other side of that equation.
Earlier this month, UDON announced it’s re-releasing its string of Street Fighter comics to new audiences, and not just in print. Earlier this week, the publisher revealed it will begin serializing its Street Fighter comics — for free! — at StreetFighterComics.com. According to UDON, a new page will be published every weekday, with printed editions coming later this year.
Street Fighter has always seemed like a concept ideal for comics, and UDON has a lot of quality material that wasn’t given its due on initial release, so I’m excited for this to happen. I hope this is successful enough that they’ll re-release Sharknife artist Corey Lewis’ Rival Schools miniseries and the Street Fighter shorts he did a few years back.
In 2005, when manga was the Next Big Thing, a lot of things got called manga that weren’t. But those days are long gone, so it was surprising when this popped up: The Official Firefall Manga, a comics tie-in to the online multiplayer FPS game. The comic looks decent enough, but why call it manga?
It doesn’t appear to be Japanese — the comic is by sci-fi novelist Orson Scott Card and his daughter Emily Janice Card and produced by the Canadian publisher Udon. No artist is credited, but this whole thing looks mighty North American to me.
Nor is the comic in “manga style” — OK, OK, we all know there is no single manga style, but non-Japanese comics that are labeled “manga” usually do hew to a certain set of conventions that includes big eyes, speed lines and sweatdrops. That’s not how this comic is drawn, and furthermore, it’s in color, which manga seldom is. Admittedly, there is one manga flourish in the page above: The three panels on the right that call out little details of the scene. But that isn’t uniquely Japanese; I have seen it in plenty of other comics.
So it’s hard to see what the marketing advantage was to calling this thing manga. The natural audience is people who play the game, or who play similar games, and for them, the draw is going to be the game tie-in, not the word “manga.” It’s a nice little comic but it probably won’t make much sense to anyone else. And anyone who finds it on a Google search for “manga” is going to be sorely disappointed. Just call it what it is — a comic.