"Gotham's" Cory Michael Smith Savors the Arrival of the Riddler
Conventions | Wizard World Chicago Comic Con kicks into full gear today in Rosemont, Illinois. Special guests for the four-day event range from creators like Stan Lee, Chris Claremont, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo to such television and movie personalities as Zachary Quinto, Norman Reedus, Summer Glau and the cast of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. [Daily Herald]
Retailing | Retailer Brian Hibbs breaks down what’s problematic about DC Comics’ announcement that it will allocate its “Villains Month” 3D covers, which essentially means to publisher won’t completely fill all the orders. Instead, the company has added a 2D variant to make up the difference: “You have to understand, as well, that a lot of folks weren’t at all happy about the idea of a line of $3.99 covers, and there was a certain amount of ‘talking people into’ signing up for them. So, to find out just three weeks before shipping that there’s suddenly going to be a version of these comics without the stunts, for $1 less, well this is migraine inducing, at best.” [Savage Critics]
Publishing | ICv2 has one of its periodic Big Interviews with DC Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, this time covering how new readers are finding digital comics, how variant covers are working and graphic novel sales in bookstores, among other topics. Here’s Lee’s rather elliptical take on the flurry of recent changes in creative teams: “Without getting into the specifics, from the outside looking in, it might look like there’s a string of changes that point to one common theme, as you suggest. But from the inside looking out, you’ll see that each one has a different set of circumstances and conditions that ultimately led to the conflicts or the resignations or changes in creative personnel.” [ICv2]
Retailing | ICv2 also reports that Amazon and Overstock.com are having a price war on graphic novels, and readers are the beneficiaries. The website did a little shopping around and found a handful of graphic novels priced at up to 70 percent off full retail. [ICv2]
Valiant Entertainment not only became a corporate member of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund this week, but also debuted a variant cover edition of Quantum and Woody #1 that will be sold at Comic-Con International in San Diego next month to benefit the organization.
Drawn by Tony Millionaire of Maakies and Sock Monkey fame, the Quantum and Woody #1 CBLDF Liberty Variant will be limited to 750 copies. It’ll only be sold at the CBLDF’s booth at San Diego and via the CBLDF website.
Check out the full cover below.
In “By the Numbers,” ROBOT 6 takes a look back at the events of the past five days … in numbers. This week, we focus on the success of DC Comics’ 52-cover gimmick for the debut of Justice League of America by Geoff Johns and David Finch, and how sales of the issue stack up against those of the recent Amazing Spider-Man #700 and record-setters like The Walking Dead #100 and The Amazing Spider-Man #583.
Publishing | DC’s 52-variant-cover gimmick with Justice League of America #1 seems to have paid off, as ICv2 estimates Diamond Comic Distributors sold more than 300,000 copies to comics shops last month. That adds up to more than $1 million in retail sales, a rare height last passed by in January by The Amazing Spider-Man #700. ICv2 also posts the Top 300 comics and graphic novels for February. [ICv2]
Kickstarter | Gary Tyrrell talks to Holly Rowland, who with husband Jeffrey has launched a business called Make That Thing to help comics creators fulfill their Kickstarter pledges. The Rowlands are also the team behind the webcomics merchandise retailer TopatoCo. [Fleen]
Last year, we got the news that Archaia is reworking the late Shotaro Ishinomori’s classic manga Cyborg 009 as a Western-style comic. This week, we get a first look at it as they post the first issue on comiXology. Cyborg 009: Chapter 000, priced at $2.99, is actually a package deal, with the first 17 pages of the new version (to be released as a graphic novel at Comic-Con International) and the first 61 pages of the manga. While the real intention is probably to whet readers’ appetites, the release also coincides handily with Ishinomori’s 75th birthday.
(For those who like to get back to roots, Shaenon Garrity has a loving explanation of the original, which is available on comiXology for $4.99 a volume).
Anyway, the coolest thing about this sampler is something you won’t see on the hard copy: the “truly digital” variant cover. It’s a cover that can only appear on the digital comic because the image builds up with a series of swipes. This type of reveal has been used before, in Mark Waid and Peter Krause’s Insufferable and Marvel’s Avengers vs. X-Men #1: Infinite (written by Waid and drawn by Stuart Immonen), but this is the first time I have seen it on a cover. And it will likely be unique, not just to digital but to comiXology, because it uses comiXology’s Guided View to achieve the effect.
You can check out an animated GIF of the cover below.
Last month DC Comics announced it will celebrate the February launch of Justice League of America with a staggering 52 variant covers that not only hit that magic number but also feature the flags of each of the 50 states plus Washington, D.C., and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (better luck next time, Northern Mariana Islands). As sales gimmicks go, it’s certainly … excessive, something even the publisher seems to recognize.
Not one to pass up a chance to rib (and one-up) the competition, Marvel has now revealed Stuart Immonen’s clever — if not exactly accurately named — 53 State Birds Variant for February’s Uncanny X-Men #1. As so many Marvel variant covers do, this one features the ubiquitous Deadpool and “all 52 state birds (+1).”
I hear a lot of rumbling from the February solicitations — the First Lantern, the last Hellblazer, the new JLA — like the Next Big Things are simmering under the surface. Yes, this is how DC wants me to think, but there’s no guarantee that my anticipation will live up to the books themselves. Still, at least things are happening, which is nice. There are endings and beginnings, changes and reintroductions, and a few good reprints too.
So, without further ado …
JUST BE GLAD IT’S NOT “20,000 LEAGUES”
The “expansion of the Justice League” advertised in Justice League #17 may be related to the new Justice League of America, but I suspect it will have more to do with the main League’s roster additions (which, if memory serves, were teased back in summer 2011). I base this mostly on the fact that JLA #1 comes out two weeks before JL #17, and therefore I doubt DC would want its latest high-profile first issue to spoil the end of “Throne of Atlantis.”
Comics | DC Comics’ Senior Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne and Vice President of Marketing John Cunningham discuss October sales, the date change for Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and variant covers. Although the company is releasing 52 variants for Justice League of America #1, DC plans to cut back on variants in its other lines. “We’re going to pull back and drop variants from a handful of titles in the next solicitation cycle to pull back that number ourselves, where it didn’t seem the variant was making a substantial difference in the buy-in for the book or the perception of books,” Wayne said. “We’ll be looking at the remaining titles that have variants the following month.” [ICv2]
Comics | Speaking of variant covers, Tim Beyers of The Motley Fool discusses the dos and don’ts of buying variant covers as an investment. [Daily Finance]
With just a week to go until New York Comic Con kicks off, Marvel has unveiled a rundown of convention-exclusive merchandise that will be available only at the publisher’s booth (#1838). The items range from the Rocket Raccoon/Guardians of the Galaxy coffee mug above — someone from the Comic Book Resources contingent needs to snag me one, please — and a lithograph to T-shirts and variant covers. (Note that the Marvel booth apparently only accepts credit cards.)
Check out the full list below. New York Comic-Con runs Oct. 11-14 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.
Publishing | Top Cow Productions has announced details of its retailer program for the relaunch of Cyber Force, which is using Kickstarter to raise enough money to make the first five issues of the reimagined series available for free, both digitally and in print: Retailers will be charged 25 cents per copy for the first five issues, but will receive incentive variant covers — with suggested prices of $10 and $20 — to offset the cost of the comics. The Kickstarter campaign has raised more than $50,000 of its $75,000 goal with 17 days remaining. [ICv2]
Publishing | Former DC Comics editor Janelle Asselin, who now works for Disney, talks about her experiences at the editor’s desk and offers one reason there are so few female superhero comics creators: Women aren’t lining up for the job. “In my time at DC, exactly one woman reached out to me via email, and I hired her,” she said. “I didn’t hire her BECAUSE she was a woman, I hired her because she was good, of course. But in that same amount of time, probably at least two or three men a week contacted me looking for work, some of them intensely pushy and many of them decidedly not good. I think more female creators should put themselves out there. The numbers are growing, we all can see that, especially in indie comics and comics published by traditional publishers, but if there are women who want to work on super hero books, they need to speak up.” [Women Write About Comics]
Here’s an interesting bit of news from the BOOM! Studios Tumblr: John Allison, creator of Bad Machinery, is providing variant covers for all six issues of the upcoming Adventure Time story arc “Marcelline and the Scream Queens.” The covers will be available only to customers who order the comics through the BOOM! website; if you subscribe to the entire miniseries through the site, the shipping is free.
That seemed like a great deal until I clicked through and realized that the variant covers are $14.99 each (as opposed to $3.99 for the regular cover), so the subscription is $90. That first cover is nice, but … damn, that’s a lot of money for a variant. The miniseries is written and drawn by Meredith Gran (Octopus Pie), so that’s some serious webcomics star power on these.
“It’s a shame that the company is no longer scrappy enough to do something involving their bustier heroines. I’d pay attention to an ad that showed, say, Emma Frost talking about how it was particularly important for her to keep her breasts healthy, given how often they were on display.”
– Johanna Draper Carlson on Marvel’s Susan G. Komen for the Cure variant covers, which will grace several of their comics in October during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
This week IDW Publishing released the first issue of its Mars Attacks series, and, like so many comics these days, the book was being promoted with variant covers. Unlike many comics these days, however, the number of variant covers accompanying this particular issue was mind-bogglingly large: 55.
That’s not a typo, and you’re not suffering from double vision. There are actually 55 variant covers for Mars Attacks #1.
Which makes this as good a time as any to take a few moments to consider the variant cover in general. So, variant covers — threat, menace, the work of the devil or the absolute worst things ever? (I’m sorry, “none of the above” is not an option. Please select one of the four options.)
When it comes to moving comic books in the direct market, variant covers must work or publishers wouldn’t employ the strategy with such frequency. But the way variants seem to work — enticing comic shops to order more issues of a particular book than they might otherwise do so that they can get the variant covers, many of which are only attainable to shops that meet a certain buying threshold — does overall damage to the industry, in my own generally ill-informed opinion. And, I think, does some small amount of damage to the medium. (Go ahead and click “Continue Reading”; I’ll get to a review of Mars Attacks #1 eventually, I swear)
We noted Thursday that IDW Publishing would be releasing Duane Swierczynski and Simon Gane’s new Godzilla series digitally the same day as print. No big novelty there. But company also will have digital variant covers, which is something you don’t see every day. The good news is that you don’t have to buy 500 copies of one of the comics to get the variant — you just pick one or the other. And in the spirit of the Godzilla: King of Monsters comics, which showed the title character crushing different comics shops, the new covers will show Godzilla’s giant claw crumpling tablets with the logo of the IDW app and the comics distributor comiXology.