"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
Manga | Tokyopop announced Thursday at Anime Expo that it will return to publishing new manga from Japan, and it has also acquired some anime licenses. In addition, it is launching an app, PopComics, that will allow users to upload and share their own comics. Tokoyopop was the largest manga publisher in the United States at the height of the manga boom, but it closed down its publishing program in 2011. In the past few years it has been making a slow-motion comeback, selling some of its properties as e-books and print-on-demand books and publishing three new volumes of Hetalia: Axis Powers. [Anime News Network]
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]
Manga | Manga accounted for almost 80 percent of Japan’s digital book market in the 2013 fiscal year, according to a report released by the Yano Research Institute. The marketing research company predicts the country’s larger digital market, which is worth about $710 million, will see a 23.5 percent growth in the 2014 fiscal year. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Tom Devlin, creative director of Drawn and Quarterly, talks about the unlikely success of Tove Jansson’s Moomin comics. [Montreal Gazette]
Comics | Noah Berlatsky writes about Wonder Woman the character and Wonder Woman the comic. [The Atlantic]
Manga | There are 200 million volumes of Naruto in print worldwide as of September, according to a press release from Japan’s Fuji TV, which on Dec. 13 will feature an interview with creator Masashi Kishimoto. The two-part conclusion of the hit manga will appear today in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine; the 71st volume of the series was published last week in Japan. [Anime News Network]
Digital comics | Manga publisher Vertical Inc. announced this weekend that it has acquired the digital rights to all the manga it has published by Osamu Tezuka, including Buddha and Black Jack. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Michael Cavna talks with Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson about his just-released poster for the Angoulême International Comics Festival and his other recent public projects. [Comic Riffs]
Vertical Inc. has announced the launch of Vertical Comics, an imprint dedicated to manga and anime-related books, leaving the publisher’s primary line to focus on contemporary Japanese prose works in crime fiction, fantasy and sci-fi.
According to Publishers Weekly, beginning in the fall, the new imprint will publish 20 new manga titles over the next year, with plans to expand to 30 t0 40 manga and anime-oriented works.
The New York-based company also announced at New York Comic Con that, following the release next summer of the Attack on Titan – Before the Fall: Kyklo light novel prequel, it will publish Attack on Titan: Harsh Mistress of the City, written by Ryo Kawakami, with illustrations by Range Murata. Yes, Range Murata.
Vertical also confirmed the release of the manga Prophecy, Vol. 1, by Tetsuya Tsutsui in November and My Neighbor Seki by Takuma Morishige in January, the anthology Dream Fossil: The Complete Collection of Satoshi Kon in summer 2015, and A Sky Longing for Memories: The Art of Makoto Shinkai in May.
Legal | Attorney Evan Stassberg finds two significant problems with Comic-Con International’s trademark-infringement claim against Salt Lake Comic Con over the use of the term “Comic Con”: There are a lot of shows called “comic con,” so it could be argued it’s a descriptive term that’s not specific to the San Diego event, and precisely because there are so many events that use that term, it could be argued that Comic-Con International organizers haven’t been policing their trademark. Strassberg adds, “The Salt Lake organizers’ steadfast defiance and ongoing gravitas has turned a simple trademark dispute into a national news story with mountains of free publicity for the Salt Lake event. If this was intentional, it is an astonishing display of marketing genius. If this was mere happenstance, it is the comic book convention equivalent of the accidental invention of Post-It notes.” [Deseret News]
[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
Moyoco Anno writes unsparingly about the lives of Japanese women, and In Clothes Called Fat, recently published in English by Vertical, is no exception. Complete in one volume, this manga wraps together the themes of bullying, body image and eating disorders in a story that veers sharply from the usual narrative.
Noko is an office lady with a longtime boyfriend and a lot of extra pounds. People are openly rude to her because of her weight, but in the beginning she doesn’t seem to be too unhappy about it; she has always had friends, and her boyfriend, Saito, is supportive and doesn’t want her to lose weight.
Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out.
And what a week it was, as we learned about a new Rocket Raccoon series by Skottie Young, Paul Levitz getting a new gig at BOOM!, the return of Jellaby and more. So let’s get to it …
Batwoman Vol. 3: World’s Finest (DC Comics): It’s difficult to talk about this comic without also discussing the announced departure of its creative team which, like several others that have worked on DC’s New 52, left amid quite public complaints of editorial interference.
As an auteur-driven book starring a relatively new character that’s barely been drawn by anyone other than artist and co-writer J.H. Williams III, the whole affair strikes me as strange, as Williams seems to be at least as big a factor in the book’s continued existence as the word “Bat” in its title. And it’s stranger still he and co-writer W. Haden Blackman are only now reaching the breaking point, as from a reader’s perspective, DC appeared to have pretty much left them alone to do their own thing; like Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated and the Geoff Johns-written portions of Green Lantern, this book seems set in its own universe and is sort of impossible to integrate into the New 52 if one thinks about it for too long (with “too long” being “about 45 seconds”).
Regularly cited as one of the best of DC’s current crop of comics, Batwoman is definitely the company’s best-looking, and most intricately, even baroquely designed and illustrated. As for the word half of the story equation, I found Batwoman — and this volume in particular — to be extremely strange, even weird, more than I found it to be good.
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]
Legal | Palestinian cartoonist Mohammed Saba’aneh was released from an Israeli prison on Monday, as scheduled. Saba’aneh, who was originally held without charges and eventually sentenced to five months for “contacts with a hostile organization,” drew several cartoons while he was in prison and plans to do a show of his prison drawings, focusing on Palestinian prisoners who, he says, are in prison “just because they are Palestinians.” [PRI’s The World]
Manga | In a major coup for a manga publisher, Digital Manga (which, contrary to its name, also published print manga) announced at Anime Expo that it has signed a deal with Tezuka Productions to publish all of Osamu Tezuka’s works in North America. While the details aren’t entirely clear, it sounds like Digital is working on some new licenses and will have digital rights to books released here in print by other publishers. [Anime News Network]
Comics sales | The direct market continued its rise last month, with comics and graphic novel sales up 22.59 percent compared to March 2012, according to Diamond Comic Distributors. Marvel routed DC Comic in this month’s sales, claiming 40 percent of the market to DC’s 27 percent. [ICv2]
Conventions | The fire marshal had to turn away hundreds of people Sunday from the DoubleTree Hotel in Tampa, Florida, where the two-day Tampa Bay Comic Con was being held. An estimated crowd of 4,000 were crammed into the lobby and the ballroom (which is designed to hold a maximum of 1,200 people), with many hoping to see The Walking Dead star Lauren Cohan. Organizers conceded they need a larger venue for the twice-yearly event. [Tampa Bay Times]
Digital comics | Vertical Inc. becomes the latest manga publisher to take the plunge into digital, beginning with the release of three series: Twin Spica, Drops of God and 7 Billion Needles for Kindle, Nook and iBooks. [Anime News Network]
Conventions | Fables creator Bill Willingham is the host of this weekend’s Fabletown and Beyond convention in Rochester, Minnesota, focusing on “mythic fiction.” He and organizer Stacy Sinner give a preview of what is to come. “I’m the host of the event, which means I get a lot of people to do the actual hard work, while I sit back imperiously on my throne and say ‘Yes,’ to this, and, ‘No,’ to that,” Willingham said. “The downside is, of course, I also have to write the checks.” [Rochester Post-Bulletin]
Awards | Slate Book Review and the Center for Cartoon Studies have awarded the Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Graphic Novel of 2012 to Chris Ware for Building Stories, and the prize for Best Web Comic to Noelle Stevenson for Nimona. Each winner receives $1,000. [Salon.com]
Comics | Tom Spurgeon talks at length to Gary Groth, co-founder of Fantagraphics and editor-in-chief of The Comics Journal, about the prospects for young creators today versus years ago, changes at The Comics Journal, and Groth’s own interview with Maurice Sendak, which runs in the latest issue of TCJ. [The Comics Reporter]
Publishing | Todd Allen analyzes the sales of DC Comics’ New 52 titles from their September 2011 launch to the past month. Sales of any series tend to drop off from one issue to the next — Allen compares it to radioactive decay — and when the numbers drop below 18,000 for a couple of titles, DC tends to cancel them in batches and start up new titles to replace them. That plus crossovers and strong sales of some flagship titles has kept the line fairly stable until recently, but as Allen notes, the replacement titles tend to crash and burn pretty quickly, and overall sales have dipped a bit. [Publishers Weekly]
History | David Brothers has a great column for Black History Month, featuring Krazy Kat, All-Negro Comics and other titles by black creators. [Comics Alliance]