The comic book annual has, in recent years, become an endangered species. Once an oversized, extra-length dose of the characters and concepts a reader could count on appearing once a year (or, you know, annually), the changing funny-book landscape has made them a less appealing proposition.
The rise of the graphic novel and trade paperback collections made “novel-length” adventures appearing in actual, off-the-rack comic books somewhat obsolete. The rising price of comics helped make annuals seem less practical; if a 20- or 22-page comic costs $2.99 or $3.99, a 48- or 56- or 64-page one would be prohibitively expensive. And with the shrunken market, it doesn’t make sense for a publisher to release an additional, extra-long issue of almost every title in its line.
Publishing | Image Comics provided the retail news and analysis website ICv2 with worldwide pre-order figures for 15 of its March titles, allowing for comparison with estimates of Diamond Comic Distributors sales to U.S. direct market stores. [ICv2.com]
Creators | Mark Waid pens a tribute to the late Carmine Infantino. [Hero Complex]
Creators | Gilbert Hernandez distinguishes between autobiography and art in his new graphic novel, Marble Season, which takes on a 1960s suburban childhood not unlike his own. [Chicago Reader]
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is Ivan Salazar, public relations and marketing manager for Studio 407.
To see what Ivan and the Robot 6 crew have been reading (and playing), click below.
This week saw the return of the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents from DC Comics in a new miniseries by writer Nick Spencer, who wrote the previous, pre-New 52 edition of the book. This time he’s joined by artist Wes Craig, who picks up where CAFU and several guest artists, like Mike Grell, Nick Dragotta, Dan McDaid and Dan Panosian, left off.
The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserves have had a long, tumultuous publishing history. Before DC Comics announced they were bringing the concept back last year, the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents had been published by at least seven different publishers since the 1960s. It started with a 20-issue run by Tower Comics, the longest run the title would enjoy in its history. One thing the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents have always enjoyed over the years is association with some of the industry’s best talent, with the likes of George Perez, Dave Cockrum, Keith Giffen, Steve Ditko, Jerry Ordway, Paul Gulacy, Terry Austin and of course Wally Wood working on the characters.
So what do folks think about the title’s latest return? Here’s a sample of reviews of the first issue:
Andy Hunsaker, CraveOnline: “The new T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1 has managed to keep its previous continuity – a privilege shared mostly by Things Geoff Johns Writes and Batman – but Spencer has lightened up the proceedings significantly, injecting a bit more fun into this first issue. It’s a bit thick with exposition this time around, but while in other cases it might seem turgid, as a reader of the previous series, it feels rather welcome. This iteration is a bit more straight-forward, and there’s much less of the feeling that everything sucks and will suck forever for everybody involved. In fact, the two people who wound up killing their own family members go out on a date in this issue – the no-bullshit Colleen Franklin, who killed her supervillain mother The Iron Maiden, and the much-bullshit Toby Henston, aka Menthor, who put a special mind-control helmet on and found his skullduggerously planned betrayal to his brother’s terrorist organization Spider rewritten into a triplecross. Henston even goes so far as to say ‘We could all use a little sunshine in our lives.’ That attitude sure helps to dissipate that hesitation about picking up the series.”
Here’s some great news from San Diego Comic-Con — T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents are returning in November with a new six-issue series by writer Nick Spencer, artist Wes Craig and “special guest artists” like DC’s first run did. Flashpoint artist Andy Kubert will provide the covers.
“It’s the little book that could! Nothing seems to stop this thing,” Nick Spencer told The Source. “I’m very grateful to DC for allowing us to continue telling this story that everyone involved has become so passionate about. This is really what we’ve been building towards since the very first issue– everything comes to a head here, and the twists and turns only get crazier as we delve deeper into it. To get to see this story through is enormously fulfilling from a creative perspective, and I’m excited and hopeful that with the collected edition on its way and the first arc already available digitally, we’ll have an opportunity to introduce a legion of new readers to these fantastic characters and the rich history of T.H.U.N.D.E.R.”
“We were thrilled with the response the first volume of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents got, so we wanted to do a new #1 so people who’ve been curious about the title would have a clean place to jump on board,” series editor Wil Moss said. “Nick Spencer has a crazy level of passion for this title, and he’s come up with a truly great story for this miniseries — underground warlords, deaths, rebirths, betrayals — trust me, you won’t want to miss it! And to have the incredibly versatile and talented Wes Craig on board as the main interior artist, with Andy freakin’ Kubert on board for covers? Not to mention the surprise guest artists who’ll be contributing to #2-5? You’ve no doubt already reworked your comics budget so you can pick up all 52 new books we’re launching in September — what’s one more?”
The first issue comes out Nov. 16, the same day as the trade paperback collection of the first T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents run.