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Comics A.M. | Dwayne McDuffie’s website to focus on writer’s legacy

Dwayne McDuffie

Creators | Eugene Son, a friend of late comics creator Dwayne McDuffie, announced plans to transform the writer’s website from “one that promoted his work to one that reflects his immense legacy.” The site’s blog will remain active, with plans to post old columns and scripts written by McDuffie, as well as tributes and stories from McDuffie’s friends. Earlier this week Son posted a 2002 essay he said was one of McDuffie’s most-read works, “Six Degrees of St. Elsewhere (aka The Grand Unification Theory).” [DwayneMcDuffie.com]

Publishing | Wizard has hired Kevin Kelly as managing editor of its “website, social media and digital content endeavors.” Kelly has previously worked for several entertainment websites, including io9, Moviefone, Cinematical and Joystiq, and was most recently senior features editor for G4tv.com. [press release]

Manga | Playback hosts a “Manga Moveable Feast” on Ken Akamatsu’s Love Hina, which returns to print from Kodansha Comics next week. [Playback:stl]

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Defunct publisher not really looking for handouts

This is not the Go! Comi site

Manga fans have fond memories of Go! Comi, a manga publisher that produced some interesting and high-quality series during its brief lifetime: You Higuri’s Cantarella, the story of the cursed, but incredibly hot, Borgia family; After School Nightmare, a gender-bender tale that was nominated for an Eisner Award; and the beautifully drawn, sensitively written Song of the Hanging Sky. They also published entertaining trash like Train + Train that was simply fun to read. We liked Go! Comi.

Did we like them enough that we would donate money to help them get started again? As Kevin noted earlier, some enterprising scammer apparently thinks so: The Go! Comi web domain expired last year, and it looks like someone has picked it up and launched a fake Go! Comi website, complete with an appeal for donations so they can relaunch. Continue Reading »

Kodansha Comics finally gets a website

Kodansha Comics has been a bit slow to get off the ground, but now they are off and running. After irritating fans last fall by keeping mum about titles, they have announced a stellar summer and fall lineup that includes the classic Sailor Moon, the revival of older but popular series like Love Hina and Tokyo Mew Mew, and some interesting new manga like Mardock Scramble and Animal Land. If only there were a place on the internet where you could go to get information about those books…

And now there is! After months of representing themselves with a plain black-and-white web page with a single press release and nothing to click on, Kodansha launched their new website this week. It has an attractive front page that is heavy on their former Del Rey titles; you have to go to the “Titles” link to see anything else, and they don’t have cover images up for the new books yet. Clicking on a link brings you to the Random House catalog page for the book, which is a bit annoying; it would be nicer to see the books integrated into the site itself. Perhaps that will come? However, it is nice to see the books listed by release date—a lot of manga publishers are very vague about that sort of thing, but their predecessor Del Rey always did it.

Speaking of Sailor Moon, Deb Aoki of About.com sent Kodansha some questions about their new edition and they answered them, apparently anonymously. So things are moving forward, and it should be an interesting summer.

Tokyopop to reboot website… again

An advance look at the new, simpler Tokyopop website

Tokyopop sent out an e-mail blast the other day telling readers that they are removing all fan-generated content from their site and warning them to take their stuff or it will be thrown out. This marks the end of an era of sorts, the conclusion of a failed experiment in social networking.

Before July 2006, the biggest complaint I had about Tokyopop’s website was that the type in the drop-down menus was too small. Then one day the old, boring website, on which you could find anything you were looking for just by clicking on the obvious link, disappeared and was replaced with piles and piles of … stuff. The idea behind the website was to create a kind of MySpace for manga fans, one that would supposedly be a safe space for younger readers to chat about manga. What they ended up with was exactly what you always get when you open a website to user content and don’t moderate it at all: Plagiarized fanart, pissing matches, porn, and blog posts like this:

OMG i hate all orthadanits!!! i got a retanier for 2 weeks and i put it in and i just spent the last 2 houres trying to get it off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! its stuck!! hows dose this happen??? please if anyone reads this and knows how to remove a stuck retanier then please HELP!!!

That was actually featured front and center on their main page, until it was replaced by something equally inane.
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Del Rey: We’re still making manga

Nodame no more?

Nodame no more?

Viz and Tokyopop may be bigger, but Del Rey manga has always been the prestige manga publisher, the home of smart, mature titles like Love Roma, Mushishi, and Nodame Cantabile, as well as solid genre favorites like Kitchen Princess (arguably the shoujo-est shoujo manga ever), Air Gear, Negima, and Basilisk. Sure, there was the occasional dud, but overall their line was strong, their production values were high, and the translations didn’t insult your intelligence.

Lately, though, things seem to have slowed down over at the Del Rey shop. Ali Kokmen, their affable and well-liked marketing director, was let go. Their website got swallowed up by a generic graphic-novel website run by parent company Random House; their old site got everything I talked about in yesterday’s post right, and the new one gets everything wrong. And a reader who pre-ordered volumes of Nodame Cantabile and Gakuen Prince got this e-mail recently:

Volumes 17 and 18 of “Nodame Cantabile” have been cancelled prior to publication, as have volumes 4 and 5 of “Gakuen Prince.” We have no additional information available as to why this may have occurred. At the present time there are no upcoming releases scheduled for either series within the next 12 months.

Comments at the site indicate that another series, Pumpkin Scissors has also been canceled (although in the word of comics retailing, “canceled” may simply mean postponed).

Is Random House is washing its hands of manga? I e-mailed Del Rey associate publisher Dallas Middaugh and asked some pointed questions; here is his answer:

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Dear publishers: A rant about websites

404-no-file

I spend a lot of time skipping around publishers’ websites, and lately I have been surprised at how difficult it can be to find even basic information about a comic. As a comics blogger, I naturally use these sites a lot, but it also seems to me that comics readers are an independent lot and providing them with as much information as possible would be an excellent way to market your book. And yet…

So for the benefit of any publishers (or would-be publishers) that are out there, here is what I really, really want to see on your website. And I’ll finish on a positive note, I promise, with an examples of websites that get it right.

A catalog page for every comic you produce: That seems obvious, doesn’t it? You would be surprised how many websites don’t provide that, though. Just working on this week’s Food or Comics post, I looked for and couldn’t find pages for individual comics from Archie, IDW, and Top Cow—in some cases there was a page for a series but not an individual issue. A catalog page doesn’t have to be an elaborate thing—just a cover image, basic information like authors, price, and ISBN, and the blurb from the back cover. It’s enormously helpful to journalists like me, who like to check their facts, as well as to readers who want to know what they are buying. Also—this is another simple thing that lots of publishers overlook—the catalog page for a single issue or volume should include links to all the others in a series.

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Bongo Comics to launch new website (Updated)

BongoSo, just yesterday, when we were prepping our Food or Comics? post, I went looking for a catalog page for Futurama and could find no trace of a Bongo Comics website whatsoever. I snarked a bit on this in an internal e-mail to my Robot 6 colleagues.

And now, I’m feeling a little creeped out, because Heidi has the news that they are, in fact, getting one of these newfangled website thingies. That’s right: About 20 years after the rest of us, 17-year-old Bongo Comics discovers the internet.

It looks like they are making up for lost time, though, with plenty of content.

www.bongocomics.com will offer regular “Simpsons” and “Futurama” news items and blog updates, as well as announcements of new publishing ventures. A comprehensive history of all Matt Groening’s comic-book, trade-book, and calendar publications, including Groening’s catalog of books collecting his syndicated strip Life in Hell, will also be featured.

Well, OK, that actually sounds like every other publisher’s website. But hey, at least they are doing it! As of this writing, the actual website is password-protected, but hopefully the scaffolding will come off later today. It’s live! Go check it out.

What comics websites make you say “Jackpot!”?

from Dance of Doom! by Leonard Starr, found at USSCatastrophe.com

from Dance of Doom by Leonard Starr, found at USSCatastrophe.com

Ever stumble across a comics treasure trove when you least expected it?

The other day I was looking around for the websites of artists associated with the late, lamented Buenaventura Press when I clicked a random link USSCatastrophe, the site of cartoonist Kevin Huizenga. Suddenly I found myself looking at a hidden repository of out-of-print comics by an astonishing range of cartoonists from throughout the history of the medium. An entire book of dog cartoons by Barnaby artist Crockett Johnson … early minicomics by two of my favorite altcomix artists, Dave Kiersh and John Hankiewicz … crazy-gorgeous strips and cartoons by C.C. Beck, Abner Dean, and Garret Price … links to, samples from, and miniature reviews of dozens more titles … sure, some of the links are broken — it’s been years since the stuff was updated, it seems — but what’s there is more than enough to keep me blissed out on hidden gems for hours on end.

Have you ever wandered into a similar motherlode of comics goodness online? Superheroes or scanned minicomics, a killer collection of original art or a webcomic you never knew existed, a site full of classic strips or a gallery of stunning covers — whatever it is, post your links in the comments. Face it, tiger — you’ve just helped thousands of readers kill an afternoon!

Webcomics.com partners with printer

webcomics-logoWhen Webcomics.com went to a subscription model in January, one of the possible benefits editor Brad Guigar mentioned was that subscribers might get special deals on products and services. Indeed, when we checked in with Brad at C2E2 last week, he was surrounded by subscribers who had gotten a $60 discount on their booths.

This morning he announced another partnership, with Transcontinental printers, which will offer Webcomics.com members a 10% discount on their printing costs. Transcontinental is an offset printer, so it does large print runs of hundreds of books, as opposed to print-on-demand outfits that do one copy at a time. Offset printers generally offer better quality and lower unit costs, so this could push a cartoonist on the edge from one model to the other.

Beyond that, it’s an example of what it takes to make a subscription website work. At this point, Webcomics.com is looking a bit like a professional association, as opposed to simply a place where you go to read articles. It’s a move that makes sense, given the tightly targeted audience.


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