X-POSITION: Phoenix, Upstarts & More Tear Up Bowers & Sims' "X-Men '92"
Conventions | After bringing in a profit of almost $1 million in 2014, Wizard World took a hard swing in the other direction last year with a loss of $4.3 million, with about half the shortfall coming in the fourth quarter. At least part of the reason seems to be simple math: Per-show revenues were down, costs were up. In addition, Wizard’s share in ConTV was a money-loser, to the tune of $1.3 million; Wizard has reduced its stake in the joint venture with Cinedigm. On the upside, its subscription box service has done well, netting $48,000. It’s possible that the North American convention market is being saturated, and Wizard is responding by cutting back from 25 shows in 2015 to 19 this year. [ICv2]
Comics | Writer Kurtis Wiebe announced that, “after long consideration,” he’s placing his acclaimed Image Comics fantasy series Rat Queens on hiatus. [Twitter]
Publishing | Papercutz, which has had an extremely successful program of LEGO graphic novels based on the Bionicle, Ninjago and Legends of Chima properties, is losing that license to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, which will have its own graphic novels in bookstores by the end of this year. Papercutz reveals it will continue to publish Bionicle and Ninjago through the end of this year, and Legends of Chima through mid-2016. [Publishers Weekly, ICv2]
Passings | Fred Fredericks, who drew the Mandrake the Magician comic strip from 1965 to 2013, has died. In addition to his daily newspaper work, Fredericks drew comics for Western Publishing and Marvel. [ComicMix]
Legal | Police interrupted a launch event for Malaysian cartoonist Zunar’s latest book, claiming he didn’t have a proper permit. The book, ROS in Kangkongland, makes fun of the Malaysian prime minister’s wife. Zunar tweeted from the event that 20 officers had shown up. “It is ridiculous to have 20 police personnel interfere in this event. This book is not even banned, I don’t even know what offence I have committed,” he said. In the end he shut down the event but told attendees they could order the books online. Zunar is scheduled to speak at the United Nations this week on the topic of freedom of speech. [The Malaysian Insider]
Crime | Artist and collector Jim Wheelock talks about the loss of his comics collection, which was stolen from a storage unit in Brattleboro, Vermont: “I remember where I was and what I was doing when I bought or read many of [the comic books]. Later, when I worked in the financially rickety world of a freelance artist, knowing the books were in Vermont gave me a sense of security, a retirement nest egg. This is what the culprit robbed me of.” Vermont-based cartoonists James Kochalka and Harry Bliss weigh in on what such a loss would mean. Wheelock’s thousands of comics included extensive runs of The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil and The Fantastic Four, in some cases beginning from the first issues. [Seven Days]
Publishing | Abraham Riesman looks at the revival of Valiant, which was once the third-largest comics publisher in the United States and now, under new management, aspires to reclaim that position. The article covers the rise and fall of the original company, its rescue by now-CEO Dinesh Shamdasani, and the strategy the new Valiant has used to quickly build an audience for a different type of superhero comic. [Vulture]
Conventions | San Diego officials had to do some shuffling to accommodate the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which will be played in the city in 2016, but they didn’t move Comic-Con International, which is only a few days later. “Their attendees are such a unique group that they don’t take well to change,” said Joe Terzi, chief executive of the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau. “They plan their year around this event.” [U-T San Diego]
Editorial cartoons | The New York Times has apologized to readers who were offended by an editorial cartoon about India’s space program that depicted the country as a man in traditional dress, leading a cow and knocking at the door of the “Elite Space Club.” “The intent of the cartoonist, Heng Kim Song, was to highlight how space exploration is no longer the exclusive domain of rich, Western countries,” reads the apology, signed by editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal. “Mr. Heng, who is based in Singapore, uses images and text — often in a provocative way — to make observations about international affairs. We apologize to readers who were offended by the choice of images in this cartoon. Mr. Heng was in no way trying to impugn India, its government or its citizens.” [The New Indian Express]
Valiant Entertainment and CKRTLAB Toys will launch a new Valiant Urban Vinyl toy line Oct. 9 at New York Comic Con with the introduction of X-O Manowar.
The publisher will have just 150 X-O figures available at its booth (#2028) for $25 each, while supplies last. The series of stylized figures will be released online and in comic stores in 2015.
Comics | Almost half the attendees at this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego were women, writes Yael Kohen in an article about the growing importance of women to the comics industry. He cites statistics showing that young women are the fastest-growing segment of the comics audience, talks to Image Comics President Eric Stephenson and a woman who works in a comic shop, and mentions the enduring popularity of manga and Marvel’s recent introduction of more interesting female characters. With all that material to work with, it’s too bad he started with a lead right out of the 1950s, something about a fashion show at Comic-Con, as if that’s what all those women were there for. [BloombergBusinessweek]
Creators | Writer Jen Van Meter discusses her newest project, Valiant’s first female-led series, The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage. [Hero Complex]
Following in the footsteps of the likes of Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s Panel Syndicate, Image Comics and, just last month, comiXology, Valiant Entertainment will allow readers to download its comics as DRM-free digital files.
Through a new agreement with DriveThruComics, Valiant’s monthly titles are now available as PDFs on the same day of their print release. The online retailer will soon host the publisher’s entire catalog of single issues and collections.
“Valiant has some of the most exciting and entertaining comics on the market today,” Matt M. McElroy, DriveThruComics’ director of publishing, said in a statement. “Several members of the DriveThruComics crew were already huge fans of the Valiant characters and creators, so we couldn’t be more thrilled to have these books available on our site.”
In celebration of the new partnership, the first issues of Valiant’s ongoing series are available for free download from Drive Thru Comics for the next 30 days. They include:
Fans of Gilbert Hernandez who are attending Comic-Con International next week will probably want to stop by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund booth (#1920). There they’ll find, among other goodies, Valiant’s limited-edition Harbinger #25 SDCC Liberty Variant, featuring a cover by Hernandez.
As if the cover weren’t enough, it’s a 48-page special issue containing work by Joshua Dysart, Khari Evans, Vivek J. Tiwary, Lewis LaRosa, Dan Goldman, Clayton Henry, Justin Jordan, Rafer Roberts, Lucy Knisley and Barry Kitson. Hernandez will be signing copies alongside Dysart, Tiwary and Knisley at noon Saturday, July 26, at the CBLDF booth.
This weekend’s Special Edition NYC has brought confirmation on an earlier report by Bleeding Cool that two former DC editors have found new jobs at other publishers.
Katie Kubert, former editor of Batman, Detective and Batman Eternal, left DC Comics Friday after five years for a job as an editor at Marvel. Kubert appeared today on the Marvel’s Next Big Thing panel at Special Edition NYC, where her new job was announced and she discussed being a third-generation Kubert (her grandfather is legendary artist Joe Kubert, while Adam and Andy Kubert are her uncles).
Meanwhile, Valiant has confirmed to ROBOT 6 that former DC Assistant Editor Kyle Andrukiewicz has joined them as an assistant editor. Andrukiewicz worked on titles like The Movement, Animal Man and The New 52: Future’s End.
With DC Comics’ upcoming move from New York to Burbank, California getting closer and closer, it isn’t surprising to hear of current employees finding new opportunities with other publishers – if indeed that’s the reason why they left. Last month Comic Book Resources confirmed that Bob Wayne will leave his position as senior vice president of sales at DC Comics prior to the scheduled move in April 2015.
Retailing | Finally breaking its silence regarding the feud with Hachette over sales terms, Amazon acknowledged it’s buying less print inventory and “safety stock” from the publisher and is no longer taking pre-orders for its titles. And while Amazon conceded that “Hachette has operated in good faith and we admire the company and its executives,” the retail giant said “we are not optimistic that this will be resolved soon.” The company also recognized the affect the dispute may have on authors, revealing it offered to fund 50 percent of an author pool to help mitigate the impact. Hachette responded, saying it was glad Amazon has admitted its actions have an effect on authors: “We will spare no effort to resume normal business relations with Amazon—which has been a great partner for years — but under terms that value appropriately for the years ahead the author’s unique role in creating books, and the publisher’s role in editing, marketing, and distributing them, at the same time that it recognizes Amazon’s importance as a retailer and innovator.” [Publishers Weekly, GalleyCat]
Conventions | The organizers of the Supanova pop culture festival in Melbourne, Australia, triggered a social-media firestorm after removing a comic by artist Scarlette Baccini from her table because of explicit sexual content. The festival has a strict ban on pornography, and other adult material must be kept sealed and away from children. One of the organizers stopped by Baccini’s table, flipped through her Jesus Reloadeth’d, and saw a drawing of two men having sex, so he removed the comic. Baccini posted about the incident on Facebook, triggering accusations of homophobia against the event organizers. However, they responded that the issue was the explicitness of the image, not that it depicted two men. [SameSame]
Valiant Entertainment has announced an agreement for Catalyst Game Labs to produce role-playing and tabletop games based on its comic properties, a partnership that will kick off later this year with the release of Valiant Universe RPG.
Using the Cue System, the Origins and ENnie Award-nominated system first published in Catalyst’s Cosmic Patrol, Valiant Universe RPG will allow gamers to play any of dozens of characters — from X-O Manowar to Bloodshot to Shadowman — in a “dark and gritty world where every mission and every battle has deadly consequences.”
“Catalyst is exceptional at what they do, and we couldn’t be happier to be working with a games publisher of their caliber on Valiant’s very first RPG,” Valiant’s Russell A. Brown said in a statement. “With such a skilled an enthusiastic team at the helm, we have every faith that Valiant’s first foray into the world of role-play and tabletop gaming will live up to the expectations of our fans around the world.”
The announcement follows IDW Publishing’s recent entry into gaming through a partnership with Pandasaurus Games; a Kill Shakespeare game is scheduled to arrive in May.
Passings | Animator and blogger Michael Sporn died Sunday in New York City from pancreatic cancer. He was 67. Sporn’s short film Doctor DeSoto, based on William Steig’s book, was nominated for an Oscar, and his The Man Who Walked Between the Towers won several awards. He created animated adaptations of a number of children’s books, including Lyle Lyle Crocodile and Goodnight Moon, for HBO. In comics circles, he was also known as a blogger who turned up cool bits and pieces of animation and art. [Variety]
Publishing | Torsten Adair crunches some numbers from The New York Times 2013 bestseller lists, looking at each category and, in some cases, each publisher separately and breaking down the charting books into easy-to-follow pie charts. [The Beat]