Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.
It is, thankfully, the last week of September which means that, if I had $15, I only have one more week of new launches from DC to pick out potential favorites, Sophie’s Choice-style. This week: Aquaman #1, Flash #1, Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Men #1, Justice League Dark #1 and Superman #1 make the cut (All DC, all $2.99 each).
If I had the chance to add some more money to take that total to $30, I’d go for some Marvel books: Brian Michael Bendis gets well-represented with Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #2 ($3.99); New Avengers #16.1 ($2.99), his “new readers jump on” issue with art by Neal Adams; and Brilliant #1 ($3.99), his new creator-owned book with Mark Bagley. Here’s hoping I’m in a suitably Bendis-y mood when I read all of these ones.
Splurgewise, it has to be Habibi (Pantheon, $35), Craig Thompson’s new graphic novel. I know a few people who’ve had a chance to read it already, and everyone has made it sound like a large leap ahead from Blankets, and something almost worth the many-year wait it’s been since his breakthrough last book. I’m really looking forward to this one.
Sequart has debuted a new trailer for Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts, a documentary that examines the life, career and influence of the acclaimed writer. The NSFW trailer (there’s profanity, naturally) features excerpts from interviews with the likes of Joss Whedon, Helen Mirren, Wil Wheaton, Ben Templesmith, Kelly Sue DeConnick and, of course, Ellis himself.
The film, which was previewed in July at Comic-Con International, will be screened worldwide this fall and winter.
Atomic Comics, the nationally known Arizona retail chain, abruptly closed all four locations on Sunday, shocking staff, customers and industry figures alike. Although the closing of the stores in Mesa, Phoenix, Chandler and Paradise Valley was initially announced last night by multiple employees and creators, owner Michael Malve confirmed the news this morning in an installment of his weekly newsletter titled “My Final Report.”
“As some of you may have already heard, after 25 years of running a successful business, sadly and much to my dismay, I have shut the doors of Atomic Comics,” Malve wrote. “The villain in this tragedy is the economy. I had hoped to be the superhero and triumph over the recession, but sadly the economic downturn of the past 5 years has proven to be unsustainable.”
In the newsletter, which can be read below, Malve revealed he’s filed for bankruptcy, and that he and his family are losing their home, ” as we had secured it against our leases which we obviously have to break.”
“I know there are many people out there facing very similar situations in these difficult times and now I can definitely empathize with them,” he continued. “I have always been and will forever be an extremely optimistic person and will look at this situation as an adventure. I have very high hopes for the next chapter of my life.”
“The New DC comics stuff looks so much like stuff I would never read that it oddly fills me with hope that they are targetting the core audience they want. If a 43-year-old man looks at most of this promo stuff and goes meh, then that’s very probably a good sign for them. Best of luck to Dan D, Jim L et all for the imminent relaunch.”
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes, and first issues so that I don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “Jeff Lemire’s Frankenstein is still awesome!” every month. And I’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.
Also, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell me what I missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
The Grave Doug Freshley – A lot of publishers are doing Weird Western comics lately and that’s just fine with me.
Spera, Volume 1 – I like the sound of this fairy tale in which a couple of princesses combine efforts to save their kingdoms. It’s not that I’m anti-prince, but that’s a cool, new way to do that story.
Captain Swing and the Electrical Pirates of Cindery Island – Warren Ellis doing Steampunk sounds thrilling, but really all they had to say was “pirates.” I bet this is still really good though, even if you’re pickier than I am.
Roger Langridge’s Snarked #1 – After a well-loved zero-issue, Langridge’s version of Wonderland gets its real, official start.
Publishing | Sales of comic books and graphic novels in July fell 6.17 percent versus July 2010, with dollar sales of comic books sold through Diamond Comic Distributors falling 4.27 percent and graphic novels falling 10.10 percent year-over-year. Unit sales for comics were only down slightly, at .52 percent, which ICv2 points out “indicates that comic book cover prices have in fact declined. The problem is that circulation numbers have not risen enough to make up for the decline in revenue from lower cover prices.” Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man #666, which kicked off the “Spider-Island” event, was the best-selling comic of the month, while League of Extraordinary Gentlemen III Century #2 from Top Shelf topped the graphic novel chart. John Jackson Miller has commentary.
Marvel saw a slight increase in its dollar market share for July when compared to June, while DC’s jumped from 28.03 percent in June to 30.55 percent in July. IDW, the No. 5 publisher in terms of dollar share in June, moved to the No. 3 position in July. The top seven publishers were rounded out by Image, Dark Horse, Dynamite and BOOM! [ICv2]
As we noted a week ago, Sam Humphries and Steven Sanders self-published a science fiction comic called Our Love Is Real, which subsequently sold out in print in nine hours. A second print is on the way (that’s the cover you see to the right) and it’s still available digitally through their website or comiXology.
Humphries, a former Robot 6 guest contributor and my fellow panel member in San Diego next week, agreed to share a list of what he considers to be some of the great science fiction comics. Note that he chose not to use the words “best” or “favorite” to describe the list. “‘Favorite’ or ‘best’ implies more commitment than I’m ready to give,” he said.
So without further ado …
Six great science fiction comics, by Sam Humphries
1. AKIRA by Katsuhiro Otomo
A giant of science fiction, often imitated, never surpassed. At its heart is a tale of a bromance gone wrong, two best friends who carve their years of brotherhood and resentment across Tokyo, Japan, and the Moon. The anime adaptation is superlative, but the manga, sprawled across six thick volumes of meticulously drawn, hi-octane pages, is a true monumental achievement. I’ll be gunning for this No. 1 spot ’til I die. G.O.A.T.
The standard format for digital comics is single issues, which can be an expensive way to read an entire story. Fortunately, more and more publishers are experimenting with digital bundles and graphic novels, and here’s the biggest one of them all: ComiXology is offering Warren Ellis and John Cassaday’s Planetary, all 633 pages/27 issues of it, for $24.99. (Unless I’m missing something, this is only available on comiXology’s Comics app, not on the DC app.) That’s quite a bargain compared to buying it one issue at a time, which would set you back almost $52 (the first issue is free), and it includes an eight-page introductory story as well.
This is where the rubber meets the road for potential digital customers. On the one hand, $24.99 is a lot of money for something that is “only” pixels on a screen; on the other hand, it’s cheaper than the print edition—even secondhand, if Amazon is any guide. This looks like it may be a trial balloon of sorts, as it is only available until July 16. One has to wonder why—hopefully DC isn’t going in for that “digital vault” stupidity. Once you put the package together, it should stay on the digital shelf forever—it’s not like you’re going to run out of books. On the other hand, having the deal end just before Comic-Con may be significant; maybe there’s something more on the way.
Comics critic Paul Gravett has a peek at SVK, the new graphic novel due out from Warren Ellis and D’Israeli, as part of an interesting article on comics that trick the eye. SVK, which was announced last December, is a graphic novel with a hidden agenda, so to speak: The private thoughts of some characters are invisible on the printed page until the reader shines an ultraviolet light on them, at which point they appear in thought balloons. Gravett shows a few examples of this and then goes on to some interesting historical examples of other comics that use concealed content, including 3D comics, vintage newspaper strips that used invisible ink, and a comic that flips upside-down halfway through.
Credit where credit is due: Marvel has consistently referred to Warren Ellis as one of the creators of their new anime, although the exact wording is a bit vague; most recently, they referred to the four anime series as “guided by New York Times best-selling author Warren Ellis.” Ellis raised an eyebrow about that on his blog, saying that he just wrote the outlines, and not much of his work is left in the final product. But he was OK with that; it was the “New York Times best-selling author” part that really got him:
When the hell did that happen? I think I would have heard about that, right? I’m already confused about my name being used in press releases when I’m not credited on the screen, but making shit up? I presume this is the magic of PR that I hear about.
Well, no: Greg Pak pointed that Ellis had one book on the hardcover graphic novels best-seller list, the oversized edition of Absolute Planetary 2. Ellis remains unimpressed; since the book cost $75, he said, “One presumes it’s a dollar-number calculation rather than a unit-number count.” He adds:
I did note on Twitter that I was surprised the NYT did such a thing, because I’ve seen book top the Diamond best-selling GNs list with 6000 sales, at which point Bendis said “don’t pull that string. The entirety of our world will unravel.”
My advice: Just bask in it, Warren!
“It was in DC’s core DNA to protect and serve physical comics stores. To the point where every 18 months or so they’d pay for a hundred comics retailers to attend a special DC conference, where the retailers could moan at them for two days and then go home and order more Marvel comics. (In broad and crude terms, DC were the attentive suitor, while Marvel Comics treated retailers mean to keep them keen.) Now, there is a fascinating situation where DC will polybag special issues of JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 with a digital-comic download code, a book that will cost an extra dollar. Comics are done on firm sale. Which means, as far as I can see, that the retailer is being charged extra money on each copy of that edition too. Maybe I’m wrong, and comics retailers aren’t being offered a reach around while getting a mild pegging. But it’s an interesting kind of support. DC are offering support to retailers in other ways and are making sympathetic noises, but other quotes from this roadshow — one from Bob Wayne, DC’s head of sales, boiled down to ‘if you’re not selling enough of our comics you’re not doing your job’ — tend to suggest that someone at the company has realised that the comics retailers already have a girlfriend and never liked DC anyway.”
Writer Warren Ellis and artist Michael Avon Oeming are teaming on a new project called Half Moon, and Ellis is using his blog to show their progress as it moves from the idea stage to reality.
“We’re working in realtime on this one. We agreed on the general concepts just a couple of hours ago, and will spend the next few days in development on it, to see what we’ve actually got,” Ellis said on his blog on Monday. “So I thought, and Mike agreed, it might be interesting to open the process out and let you see a bit of the sausage-making. As it were.”
Ellis said the project sprang from an email from Oeming that simply said, “Warren, I’ve been wanting to work with you for a long time.”
“And then a flurry of responses – because I’m not stupid, I wanted to get moving before he sobered up or the drugs wore off or whatever the hell had happened to him to make him email me,” Ellis said.
A second post shared the above concept art. Keep an eye on his blog for further updates.
Editor’s Note: With the recent discussions going on around the comics community about creator-owned comics, we’re pleased to welcome one of the voices in those discussions, 30 Days of Night and Mystery Society creator Steve Niles, to Robot 6 for a series of columns on creator-owned comics.
by Steve Niles
Second column and I’m already late! Here’s a creator tip I can’t seem to get through my thick skull: Don’t bite off more than you can chew. That said, here I am again and happy to be here talking about my favorite creator-owned books and creators.
This week I’m going to talk about a creator who dominates the modern creator-owned scene with both his work and his relentless support of other creators.
I wanted to talk about Ellis for many reasons: his talent, his persistence and his vision. Warren Ellis approaches his work with the strategy of a learned zombie killer. Don’t run into the stinky crowd swinging and shooting like a crazy person, find a place to settle in and let them come to you.
Warren Ellis has not only created worlds within his work, but also a world for himself online where you can follow his daily work routine, check out what he’s reading/watching himself, or meet and discuss his and other people’s work on the various forums he’s overseen. He has created a perfect fort for all of us Ellis zombies to swarm.
I’m still in shock over the sudden, tragic death of comics writer, Milestone Media co-founder and animation producer Dwayne McDuffie, as I’m sure many of his fans, friends and fellow creators are. I’ve rounded up some thoughts and memories from some of those folks, as well as a few items of note about memorials and some of his work.
- If you’re attending the Emerald City Comicon March 4-6, they’ve announced a memorial panel remembering McDuffie that will take place Saturday at 7 p.m. in Room 4C1-2. Per writer Mark Waid, C2E2 is also planning to hold one.
- Both Heidi MacDonald and Rich Johnston posted pages featuring the parakeet metaphor that McDuffie first introduced in Hardware #1 — a scene that, for me personally, sparked one of those lengthy late-night discussions about society, racism, politics and a whole lot of other things with my older brother. As Heidi points out, McDuffie revisited it in both X-O Manowar and at the end of the Milestone Forever two-parter, basically bookending the life of the Milestone Universe.
- The Weekly Crisis, meanwhile, looks at a poignant page from McDuffie’s more recent Fantastic Four run.
- The good folks at the Project: Rooftop site have declared “McDuffie Week” at their site, and have put out the call for redesigns of Static. Dean Trippe writes: “Dwayne’s work in the field of comics and animation was near-universally respected. His knowledge and understanding of the DCU heroes in particular, always meant a lot to me. He worked for Marvel, DC, founded Milestone along with Denys Cowan, Michael Davis and Derek T. Dingle, achieved more respect and admiration as a screenwriter for Justice League Unlimited and other DC animated projects, faithfully bringing the light of our heroes to the non-comics-reading public. Dwayne has left us far too soon, with too many wonderful stories left untold.”
In recent years, we’ve seen a boatload of comic books and graphic novels make their way to the silver screen, from “big two” stalwarts like Spider-Man and Batman to independent titles like Scott Pilgrim and 30 Days Of Night. Among the various adaptations, though, some creators have emerged as magnets for Hollywood types — and one writer in-particular has more to offer than anyone else: Warren Ellis.
Warren Ellis emerged in the late 1990s as the foremost sf writer working in comics. Starting with the seminal DC/Vertigo series Transmetropolitan and moving into his re-invention of the superhero genre with The Authority, Planetary and later Nextwave, Ellis became a rare thing — a successful writer in both the creator-owned field as well as the super-hero dominated work-for-hire mainstream. Along the way he became a prolific writer, with seemingly more graphic novels and trade paperbacks on shelves than any other comic creator. He’s produced more than 40 creator-owned series, with the recent film REDderived from the three-issue series he did with Cully Hamner. Ellis himself is no stranger to Hollywood — he’s worked on animated films for G.I. Joe, Castlevania and the upcoming anime based on Marvel’s Iron Man and Wolverine.
With such a broad and intelligent ouvre of work, Hollywood’s already lined up several more Ellis works they’d like to put on the big screen — but here are some ideas they may have not thought of (yet).