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.
Legal | A judge refused to dismiss DC Comics’ lawsuit against Gotham Garage, a manufacturer of custom-made Batmobiles, ruling that the design of Batman’s vehicle is indeed copyrightable. DC sued the California company in May for copyright and trademark infringement, claiming Gotham Garage is confusing the public into thinking the cars are authorized products. The manufacturer asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the U.S. Copyright Act affords no protection to “useful articles.” The judge disagreed, ruling that Gotham Garage “ignores the exception to the ‘useful article’ rule, which grants copyright protection to nonfunctional, artistic elements of an automobile design that can be physically or conceptually separated from the automobile.” [The Hollywood Reporter]
Legal | Nancy Hass provides a broad overview of the legal battle at Archie Comics that pits Co-CEOs Jon Goldwater and Nancy Silberkleit against each other for control of the 73-year-old company. Silberkleit, who spoke briefly to Hass before a New York judge issued a temporary restraining order last month, called claims that she’s threatened and harassed the publisher’s employees and vendors “completely untrue.” [The Daily Beast]
Jim Zubkavich, the writer of Skullkickers and an editor at comics publisher UDON Entertainment, relaunched his webcomic Makeshift Miracle a few weeks ago with a revised story and new art. I interviewed Jim about the comic back then, but the artist, Shun Hong Chan, is from Hong Kong and doesn’t speak English.
Jim solved that problem by interviewing Hong himself with his boss, Erik Ko, who also speaks Chinese, acting as translator. He offered to share the interview with Robot 6 readers along with some exclusive teaser art—how could we say no? I was particularly intrigued by Hong’s description of how comics artists work in Hong Kong—it sounds like an assembly-line version of an Exquisite Corpse.
Jim: It’s been a thrill working with you on Makeshift and I’m excited to give readers a better idea of who you are and the passion you bring to your work. Can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers? Where were you born? When did you join the comic industry and what are some of your past creations?
Creators | Eighty-four-year-old artist Albert Uderzo, who created Asterix the Gaul in 1959 with writer René Goscinny, has announced he’s retiring, saying he’s “a bit tired” after 52 years of drawing. The news came as publisher Hachette celebrated the sale of 350 million Asterix books worldwide. Uderzo, who took over writing after the death of Goscinny in 1977, said he has found an as-yet-unnamed successor to continue his legacy, beginning with a new book planned for release in late 2012. [Reuters, BBC News]
Passings | Italian comics writer and publisher Sergio Bonelli, whose company Sergio Bonelli Editore (formerly CEPIM) releases such titles as Dylan Dog and Nathan Never, passed away Monday in Milan. He was 79. [UPI]
Legal | A witness testified Monday in Michael George’s murder trial that she heard the defendant and his first wife Barbara George have a particularly heated argument in their Clinton Township, Michigan, comic store on July 13, 1990, only hours before Barbara was shot and killed. [Detroit Free Press]
After a week of teasers, Jim Zubkavich launches his new webcomic Makeshift Miracle today. If you’re getting a feeling of deja vu, it’s because Jim first published Makeshift Miracle online, and it has been through several different versions already. Now he is relaunching it with new art, by Shun Hong Chan, and a revised story; it will be serialized for free and then published in print form by UDON Entertainment next year. Jim’s Skullkickers was a big success last year, but Makeshift Miracle is a very different story. Jim told us all about it — and shared an advance look at the art as well.
Robot 6: For those of us who weren’t reading webcomics in 2001, can you briefly summarize what this comic is about?
Jim Zubkavich: Makeshift Miracle is the story of Colby Reynolds, a teenage boy on his own for the first time in his life. He’s exploring independence, trying to figure himself out, and then he encounters something that will change everything he knows about dreams, desires and his future.
It’s a surreal coming-of-age story. Part Sandman, part Stand By Me with some Miyazaki-esque visuals thrown in for good measure.
Three down, one to go … here’s a list of the major comics-related announcements made at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Saturday:
• A number of new projects were announced or promoted at Image’s Creator-Owned Comics panel, not the least of which is the return of Brian K. Vaughan to comic books. Vaughan will write a book called Saga, which is co-created and drawn by Fiona Staples. Vaughan told CBR that the book is “an epic drama chronicling the life and times of one young family fighting to survive a never-ending war. 100 percent creator-owned. Ongoing. Monthly. Fiona and I are banking issues now.”
• Image also announced that Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman is collaborating with Charlie Adlard on a new series of graphic novels called Album. The books will be released roughly 18 months apart, 60 pages long, with different themes each year, with the first being Passenger. It’s co-published with Delcourt in France and will be available simultaneously in English and France.
• Jonathan Hickman and Nicky Pitarra will team up for The Manhattan Projects at Image. Hickman is also doing a book called Secret with artist Ryan Godenheim.
The good folks at UDON Entertainment will be at the San Diego Comic-Con later this month, and they were kind enough to send over details on the books they’ll be selling at their booth (#5037). Their list includes Street Fighter Legends and MegaMan hardcovers, as well as their first-ever original graphic novel, RandomVeus by Jeffrey “Chamba” Cruz. You can also find details on booth signings and their panel below ….
Comic-Con International: San Diego 2011 marks the beginning of UDON’s second decade of operations, and one of its biggest San Diego outtings ever!
With three new books debuting at Comic-Con (including 2 con-exclusives!) and more than 16 creators in attendance signing and sketching every day, no comics, video game, or art fan is going to want to miss out on all the great stuff going down at UDON, booth #5037!
Art Books and Graphic Novels Debuting at Comic-Con:
MEGA MAN TRIBUTE HC
Celebrating over 20 years of the ‘blue bomber!’
Hundreds of artists from around the world join forces to pay homage to one of the most iconic figures in gaming with Mega Man Tribute! This 300+ page, full-colour art book is the ultimate celebration of the blue bomber, featuring the characters of Mega Man classic, Mega Man X, Mega Man Zero, Mega Man ZX, and Mega Man Legends in every style you can imagine! Includes original pieces by comics superstars Hitoshi Ariga (Mega Man: Megamix), Sean “Cheeks” Galloway (Teen Titans: GO!), Sanford Greene (Dark Horse Presents), and many more!
Premiering at Comic-Con, this limited edition hardcover version features exclusive cover art by Mega Man manga artist Hitoshi Ariga (Megamix, Gigamix) that will not be available on the softcover! This HC is a convention/UDON exclusive! Limited to 500 copies. SRP $80.
As I noted yesterday, I’m a fan of both Image’s Skullkickers and Oni’s The Sixth Gun. So when I saw that the two creator-owned books were having a mini-crossover of sorts — or, to be more specific, an ad swap — I thought it might be fun to see if Skullkickers writer Jim “Zub” Zubkavich and The Sixth Gun‘ writer Cullen Bunn might be up for interviewing each other.
And they were. If you missed part one, no worries; you can find it here. In part two, they discuss Marvel and DC, the recent focus on creator-owned comics, Dungeons & Dragons, their ad swap and more.
Zub: So, speaking of collaborators, how did your DC and Marvel work come about?
Cullen: I did a little thing for Marvel a year and a half ago, which was one of the Immortal Weapons books. That one came after I sent the editor a copy of The Damned. He finally got around to reading it and said, “Hey, you want to do this one-shot?” The new stuff all came about primarily through The Sixth Gun. A number of writers, artists and editors have picked it up, read it and either pushed me to their editors or thought I would work for other projects they had. It was definitely weird because I’m not used to anyone contacting me. I’m used to begging for work. For years I’ve gone to San Diego, and it’s the most humbling experience.
Udon Entertainment, which has published several Mega Man manga, is putting out an artbook paying tribute to the venerable video game-cartoon-comics franchise, and they are inviting everyone to participate:
UDON is sending out a call to comic artists, video game artists, freelance illustrators, and fan artists all around the world to show us your artistic tribute to Mega Man! Give us your best artwork featuring the cast of Mega Man®, Mega Man® X, Mega Man® Zero, Mega Man® ZX, and Mega Man® Legends. All styles are welcome – anime, western comic style, cartoon, pixel-based, sculptures – whatever you can come up with as your tribute to the blue bomber!
The fine print includes some fairly specific legal stipulations. Characters from the Mega Man Battle Network and Mega Man Star Force series are not allowed, and crossovers are also verboten. And the characters have to be from the games only, not comics or animation. “For example, the green Mega Man from the Captain N animated series is not allowed.” Got that? And no fan-created characters: “You may not, for example, create your own Zebra-themed Robot Master named ‘Zebra Man’.” Damn! Plus no drinking, smoking, or nudity, although now that I think about it, those elements probably be hard to integrate into a Mega Man comic anyway. (Not impossible, but difficult.)
On the other hand, the editors are open to a variety of different styles. The top 300 entries will be published and the creators will get a copy of the book.