Publishing | Comics sales were up 22 percent in the direct market over January 2012, and graphic novels increased by nearly 38 percent. This good news is tempered a bit by the fact there were five Wednesdays in this January (or 25 percent more Wednesdays, if you want to look at it that way), but that fifth week is usually a quiet one for new releases, so I think we can call this a win. The retail news and analysis site ICv2 credits Marvel NOW! and a strong backlist for the boost. [ICv2]
Publishing | Dark Horse’s video-game art book The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia last week was the No. 1 book in the United States, according to Nielsen BookScan — not merely in the graphic novel category, but in any category. The initial print run was 400,000 copies. (Comic Book Resources interviewed the book’s editor Patrick Thorpe last month.) [ICv2]
Robert Kirkman and Skybound Entertainment will debut a new digital hub for the hit Walking Dead franchise on Sunday, timed to coincide with the midseason premiere of the television adaptation.
According to USA Today, TheWalkingDead.com will contain information about the long-running Image Comics series, the AMC drama and the growing list of games (which include the recent Telltale episodic series, the Walking Dead: Assault app and Activision’s upcoming Survival Instinct). In addition, there will be special-event updates, wikis for character biographies, and, of course, a store for exclusive merchandise. At the moment, fans have to visit multiple websites for that information.
AMC’s The Walking Dead returns Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC. The Walking Dead #107, by Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn, goes on sale Wednesday.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m a fan of Marvel’s Avengers Alliance on Facebook, the turn-based social media game that lets you recruit Marvel characters and send them on missions to beat up the bad guys. The game launched almost a year ago, and it’s still going strong, with new chapters introduced at a steady pace, new player vs. player tournaments providing the opportunity to fight for in-game rewards, and special operations that introduce new characters to your ranks. They do a fairly good job of giving you something new to do at any given time. For instance, as the latest PvP tournament was getting close to completion (with the big prize being early access to recruiting the Punisher to your team), they introduced a new special operations quest “Cry Havok.” As you might have guessed, it introduces Havok … as well as the first “villain” you can recruit, Magneto.
Although the sale price hasn’t been announced, the figure is believed to be considerably lower than the $650 million News Corp. paid for IGN in 2005. According to PandoDaily, Ziff Davis shelled out even less than the $100 million that had been floated as an asking price. IGN had been on the market for six months.
The deal includes all of IGN’s websites devoted to video games, comic books, film, television and men’s lifestyle, including IGN.com, UGO.com, 1UP.com and AskMen.com. In some respects, it brings the two companies full circle as, before its acquisition by j2, Ziff Davis sold 1Up to UGO Entertainment, which was then acquired from Hearst Corporation by IGN in 2011.
“This is a transformative deal for our digital media business,” j2 Global CEO Hemi Zucker said in a statement. “By combining two of the most storied organizations in tech, gaming and entertainment, we have created a very powerful company capable of producing and delivering content in all forms to an audience that marketers highly value.”
As Tomb Raider prepares to return to consoles in March, Dark Horse and Crystal Dynamics have announced a comic-book homecoming for Lara Croft beginning with the video-game prequel Tomb Raider: The Beginning.
Written by game scribe Rhianna Pratchett and illustrated by Nicolas Daniel Selma and Andrea Mutti, the 48-page, six-part hardcover omnibus “follows the story of how the crew came together for The Endurance’s fateful mission to discover the lost Japanese kingdom of Yamatai. Originally intended to feature as the latest installment of Dr. James Whitman’s successful archaeology show, Whitman’s World, the show-biz archaeologist gets more than he bargained for when he enlists the help of Captain Conrad Roth. As Roth’s unique and eccentric crew gradually come together and share their stories and secrets, the expedition faces unexpected threats before it’s even begun.”
The Beginning will be available as a bonus when players pre-order Tomb Raider at Best Buy. Details of the new series are promised following the March 5 release of the game.
The first issue of the improbably titled Injustice: Gods Among Us includes a dystopian future featuring a fascist Superman, a half-dozen or so superheroes, a handful of supervillains, a pregnant Lois Lane, the deaths of multiple characters, a submarine hijacking and the detonation of a nuclear bomb.
I was most interested in what everyone was wearing.
Injustice is the print version of the digital-first comic based on the upcoming fighting video game from the makers of Mortal Kombat. The game is, of course, based on DC’s characters, so with the release of this issue, the circle is complete: This is the precise part of the tail where the transmedia ouroboros chomps down.
The aspect of DC’s overall New 52 refurbishing — from the de-cluttering continuity reboot to the costume redesigns — that has most fascinated me is that the timing seemed to indicate it was part of a transmedia strategy, which of course has led to months of trying to figure out why particular changes or decisions might have been made, and what that indicates about the publisher’s priorities.
This deep in to the New 52, it’s clear DC eschewed making its comics universe more closely resemble that of the popular, all-ages cartoons like Justice League Unlimited, Teen Titans, the decades of assorted Batman shows and even Young Justice, which seems rather remarkably able to synthesize aspects of complicated comic-book continuity. And it’s clear the publisher has instead focused its energies on the older teen/adult audiences of video games Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City and, to a lesser extent, Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies and their DC Universe Online video game.
So here’s a comic book based on the company’s next big video game, which was being developed and produced just as the New 52 line was being developed and produced: What will this comic look like? What will it be like?
If it’s Saturday, it must be Shelf Porn. Today’s collection comes from Colton, a 17-year-old with a collection of manga, comics, video games and more.
If you’d like to submit your collection to Shelf Porn, scroll down to the end of the post to find out how. Now let’s hear from Colton …
Following the release last week of Capcom’s DmC: Devil May Cry, Titan Comics has announced the digital debut today of the prequel comic DmC: Devil May Cry: The Chronicles of Vergil. Yes, it gets two colons.
The first of two installments can be purchased now from comiXology; both will be available in print in May.
A reimagining of the video-game franchise that’s sold more than 12 million copies worldwide, DmC is set in a parallel universe where Dante finds himself under attack by demons in a seemingly sentient town called Limbo City. He meets a girl named Kat, who sends him to meet Virgil, the leader of a demon-fighting organization — and Dante’s identical twin.
Today sees the launch of The Cave, a new game from the mind of legendary designer/developer Ron Gilbert (Maniac Mansion/The Secret of Monkey Island/DeathSpank). As with many of Gilbert’s games, it mixes puzzle-solving and adventure gaming with a little platforming thrown in, along with his trademark arch humor (see the trailer at Doublefine’s website, showing off the game’s tone and dynamics). Much of the old-school adventure game flavor for the software comes courtesy a series of illustrations by Daniel Krall (Dark Horse’s House of Night, Offset Comics‘ Doublecross and Deathface), some of which he has been showcasing at his Tumblr.
Krall explains his participation in the game’s development (while very capably plugging it):
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:
One of the guests at the ShiftyLook pavilion at New York Comic Con was an eight-foot-tall cardboard cutout of Ryan North, writer of Dinosaur Comics and BOOM! Studios’ Adventure Time comics, who had just been announced as the writer of the company’s Galaga webcomic. The comic launches today with three episodes and will update twice a week; the artist is Christopher Hastings, creator of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, and the colorist is Anthony Clark of Beartato.
The original Galaga, released in 1979 in Japan and 1981 in the United States, was a fixed-shooter game in which the player tries to take down hordes of insect-like aliens. If that seems like a pretty thin premise for a comic, well, consider that North has been doing a successful webcomic with exactly the same art every single day for almost 10 years. He’s up to it.
Telltale Games is offering the first episode of its critically acclaimed Walking Dead video game free for download from the App Store for a limited time.
Debuting in April, the episodic role-playing adventure game takes place in the same fictional setting as The Walking Dead comic series, and centers on an original character named Lee Everett, a university professor and convicted killer who rescues and cares for a young girl named Clementine in the wake of the apocalypse. Familiar characters like Glenn and Hershel also appear in the game’s five-episode first season.
Episodes 2 through 5 of The Walking Dead: The Game can also be purchased in-app for $4.99 each, or $14.99 in a bundled Multi-Pack. Watch the story trailer below.
Dismissed as a fad 10 years ago, big-screen adaptations bring comic book characters to millions of people every year. Just when you think they’ve peaked, out comes another blockbuster that tops the previous one. Sure, there are also the moderate hits and outright stinkers, but then there arrives an Iron Man or a Dark Knight or a Walking Dead or an Avengers. They’ve long passed the point of being a fluke. They even influence the collectors’ market, with optioning deals causing spikes in sales of back issues and original art, most recently demonstrated by the crazy prices people are willing to pay on eBay for The Walking Dead #1.
So if going from comics to film and television is so great, why is the reverse so rarely true? Comic books that adapt stories from other media (TV, film, video games, books, etc.) are only sometimes great and rarely garner the same kind of enthusiasm and attention. Someone who’s better at Photoshop than me should whip up one of those “said no one ever” images because no one has ever said, “I can’t wait for my favorite blockbuster movie to get adapted into a comic.” And yet most of us could barely keep our composure over the prospects of seeing Marvel’s The Avengers.
“Monocultures are risky business, diversification a useful hedge in times of change, and women’s dollars are as good as men’s. In particular, the traditional commodities of geekery – comic books, cult TV series and video games – are going through a complete and painful transition in business model under the pressure of digital distribution, the normalization of copyright infringement and the increasing ill-health of their direct retail channels. Meanwhile, the successes claimed by geeks over the dominant culture – such as the billion-dollar successes of this year’s Avengers and (soon) Batman films – have come by expanding audiences out of the core demographic. Geeks inherit the Earth when they learn to talk to other people on it – whether they are selling movie IP or operating systems.
In the face of this insecurity, ‘fake geek girls’ are the equivalent of Communist sleeper agents in the uncertain ’50s – the number of women who have no interest in geek culture but want geek attention at a personal level is vanishingly small, but their phantom is used to justify prejudice more generally, with the aim of keeping an unknown quantity out of the clubhouse.”
– Forbes contributor Daniel Nye Griffiths, wading into recent dust-ups in in comic book and video game circles about “fake geek girls”
Digital comics | The top-selling digital comic may not be what you think: Rich Johnston reports that Ape Entertainment’s game comic Temple Run is the top paid book app in the iTunes store (it was No. 2 this morning). He also reveals that Ape Entertainment has sold a million copies of its digital Pocket God comic. [Bleeding Cool]
Publishing | Jen Vaughn and friends pay a visit to the offices of MAD magazine. [Flog]
Conventions | Corinna Kirsh files a report, with plenty of pictures, on last weekend’s Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. [L Magazine]