DC Comics' July Highlights: "Batgirl," "Nightwing" and a "New Super-Man"
Publishing | Along with the usual statistics — dollar and unit share, sales rankings, etc. — Diamond Comics Distributors this month began reporting the number of new titles shipped by the top publishers: DC Comics, which edged out Marvel in terms of market share in July, had only a handful more, with 121 comics and graphic novels versus Marvel’s 118. [ICv2]
Conventions | Sean Kleefeld gives a brief account of a number of panels he attended at Wizard World Chicago, including the “Batman & Psychology” panel and two by webcomics maven Brad Guigar. [Kleefeld on Comics]
Creators | Avengers writer Jonathan Hickman talks about the upcoming six-issue event series Infinity. [USA Today]
Conventions | Wizard World Chicago Comic Con kicks into full gear today in Rosemont, Illinois. Special guests for the four-day event range from creators like Stan Lee, Chris Claremont, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo to such television and movie personalities as Zachary Quinto, Norman Reedus, Summer Glau and the cast of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. [Daily Herald]
Retailing | Retailer Brian Hibbs breaks down what’s problematic about DC Comics’ announcement that it will allocate its “Villains Month” 3D covers, which essentially means to publisher won’t completely fill all the orders. Instead, the company has added a 2D variant to make up the difference: “You have to understand, as well, that a lot of folks weren’t at all happy about the idea of a line of $3.99 covers, and there was a certain amount of ‘talking people into’ signing up for them. So, to find out just three weeks before shipping that there’s suddenly going to be a version of these comics without the stunts, for $1 less, well this is migraine inducing, at best.” [Savage Critics]
Publishing | Matthew Garrahan’s profile of reclusive Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter is somewhat sharper than the Los Angeles Times story linked last week, as it includes accusations that the 69-year-old billionaire threatened an employee, made a racially insensitive remark, and maneuvered Disney Consumer Products chairman Andy Mooney and three other executives (all African-American women who reportedly referred to themselves as “The Help”) out of their jobs. Nikki Finke follows up at Deadline with details of Disney and Marvel’s attempts at damage control, as well as the news that Disney has settled with the three former execs. [Financial Times]
Retailing | Comics shop veteran Amanda Emmert, executive director of the retailers’ association ComicsPRO and owner of Muse Comics in Colorado Springs, talks about retailing, the health of the industry, and the popular perception of comics shops as men’s clubs: “I have new customers who walk in and tell me how strange it is for a woman to work in a comic book store or a gaming store. Their experience comes more from watching The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory, as you pointed out, than from seeing a great number of stores, though. I am very lucky to work for ComicsPRO; I get to work with hundreds of stores around the country, a large percentage of which are owned or operated by women.” [Colorado Springs Gazette]
Publishing | First Second editorial director Mark Siegel sits down with Milton Greipp to talk about his company’s success, which comes in part by marketing books in a number of different channels — independent bookstores, libraries, even textbook adoptions. He also talks numbers, and it’s interesting to see that Feynman spent 11 weeks at the top of The New York Times graphic books best-seller list with a print run of 10,000; that’s an indication of the order of magnitude of book sales for the titles on that list. Siegel also gives a preview of the fall list. Updated (Aug. 13): Siegel notes to Robot 6 that Feynman has had multiple printings, exceeding 35,000 copies. It will soon be released in paperback. [ICv2]
Legal | The attorney for Tony Moore explains why the artist’s legal dispute with his former Walking Dead collaborator Robert Kirkman has moved into federal court. “Once Moore establishes fraud and rescinds the agreement [as laid out in the first filing], the issue is going to be whether he was a co-author of these works,” Devin McRae tells Newsarama. “And it’s the federal court that has the power to decide that. So we still have to first go in the state court and prove the fraud, which we think we’ll do. This is just something that is part and parcel of the whole thing. Nothing’s really changed.” [Newsarama]
Conventions | Wizard World Chicago Comic Con kicks off today with a guest list that includes Stan Lee, George Perez, Neal Adams, Greg Capullo, Humberto Ramos, Carlos Pacheco, Barry Kitson, David Mack and Chris Burnham. The convention continues through Sunday in Rosemont, Illinois. [Wizard World]
Creators | Cyriaque Lamar has a brief interview with Matt Kindt about Mind MGMT #0, which is being solicited now for a November release. (Issues 1-3 are already available.) Here’s Kindt on the look of the comic: “For this project, I wanted it to be less like you’re picking up a comic and more like you’re holding a story, right down to everything outside of the panels. I want it to feel interactive, something you don’t just drift into. I tend to read graphic novels over issues — I can’t remember thirty days ago from a bit of story. I wanted each issue something you’d go back to every month. My goal was give the book as much depth as possible to reward monthly readers.” [io9.com]
Creators | Robert Crumb pens a letter to The Sydney Morning Herald, explaining why he pulled out of the Graphic 2011 festival: “I was quite alarmed when I read the article in the Sunday Telegraph. I showed it to my wife, Aline, who said, ‘That’s it, you’re not going.’ She got a very bad feeling from the article. She feared I might be attacked physically by some angry, outraged person who simply saw red at the mention of child molesters. She remarked she’d never seen any article about me as nasty as this one.” Sunday Telegraph staff writer Claire Harvey, meanwhile, responds to Crumb’s comments and criticisms lobbed at the newspaper: “Crumb seems to be living in fear of the reaction he once sought to provoke. It seems a sad place for any artist to be.” [The Sydney Morning Herald]
Passings | Kim Thompson eulogizes Argentina cartoonist Francisco Solano López, who passed away on Friday. [The Comics Journal]
Conventions | Reporting from this weekend’s Wizard World Chicago, the Chicago Tribune talks to former comic shop owner Gary Colabuono, who displayed rare ashcan editions of comics from the 1930s and 1940s featuring Superman, Superwoman, Superboy and Supergirl at the show. Blogger Matthew J. Brady has pictures of the ashcans, as well as a report from the show. [Chicago Tribune]
Legal | The Los Angeles Times reports that the Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Toby G. Scammell with insider trading. Scammell has been accused of using confidential information “surreptitiously gleaned” from his girlfriend to make $192,000 off of Disney’s 2009 acquisition of Marvel Entertainment. Scammell’s girlfriend was an intern working in the corporate strategy department at Disney. [Los Angeles Times]
Comics | Heidi MacDonald rounds up questions creators have raised about the Womanthology project, which raised $109,000 on Kickstarter, specifically about how the extra money will be used and whether the creators who are involved will be paid. Organizer Renae De Liz has posted additional details on the Womanthology site. [The Beat]
Conventions | Wizard World Chicago Comic Con gets into full swing today in Rosemont, Illinois. Comics guests include Brian Azzarello, Jim Cheung, Mike Deodato Jr., Gary Friedrich, Patrick Gleason, Mike Grell, Dave Johnson, Ariel Olivetti, Eduardo Risso, Bill Sienkiewicz and Ethan Van Sciver. The Chicago Sun-Times briefly spotlights attending artists Ivan Brunetti and Don Kramer, while the Daily Herald interviews Brunetti and Nate Powell. [Wizard World]
“When it comes to the comics industry, we invite the comics industry. You can ask them why they may or may not go to shows, but at the end of the day, we bring the fans. The fans come here because they want to be part of our experience […] and we create a very compelling experience for people, as you can see […] we have a lot of celebrities and a lot of TV stars.”
– Wizard Entertainment CEO Gareb Shamus, addressing the absence of most major comics publishers from this year’s Wizard World Chicago Comic Con
Conventions | Wizard World Chicago Comic Con drew a lot of attention from mainstream media for the appearance on Saturday of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who charged $80 for photos and $50 for autographs (more than Star Trek: Deep Space Nine star Avery Brooks, the Chicago Sun-Times points out, but less than William Shatner). Blagojevich, who was convicted last week of lying to the FBI, told Fox News he didn’t receive an appearance fee, and that the event wasn’t all that lucrative for him: “I didn’t really get any money from any of the photos I took, because I took probably hundreds of them and couldn’t bother to ask anybody for any money for that. Those were free. I did sign some signatures. I was there because I was invited at the last minute by the promoters, and it was an opportunity to get out there among the people.”
For non-Blagojevich convention news, turn to Maggie Thompson, who posted daily coverage (noting the event was well-attended, with a lot of first-time attendees), and Rich Johnston, who rolled out video after video. Time Out Chicago has a report from the floor, as well as photo galleries from Friday and Saturday. [Wizard World Chicago Comic Con]
Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor who awaits a second corruption trial, has been announced as a last-minute guest at Wizard World Chicago Comic Con in Rosemont, Illinois. He’ll appear Saturday to pose for photos and sign autographs, which sell for a whopping $80 and $50 each, respectively.
Just three days ago a federal jury found Blagojevich guilty of lying to the FBI, but deadlocked on 23 other counts, ranging from racketeering to attempted extortion and bribery, tied to accusations that he attempted to sell the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama. A hearing will be held on Aug. 26 to discuss a new trial date.
Although Blagojevich, who served as governor from 2003 until his removal from office last year, came to national attention because of the corruption scandal, he has remained in the spotlight through his brief stint on the reality series The Celebrity Apprentice and through numerous television appearances.
“Wizard World Chicago Comic Con is all about pop culture, and Rod Blagojevich is as relevant to today’s news as it gets,” Wizard Entertainment CEO Gareb Shamus said in a statement. “We think the court of public opinion will show him to be a popular figure at the show.”
It’s not surprising to see Buffy the Vampire Slayer co-star Nicholas Brendon among the featured guests at this weekend’s Wizard World Chicago Comic Con. After all, the convention is heavy on genre TV and film actors, from William Shatner and Adam West to James Marsters and Linda Hamilton. But Brendon, who played Xander Harris in the cult-hit series, won’t just be signing autographs; it turns out he’ll also be promoting his upcoming webcomic.
Very Bad Koalas, a collaboration between Brendon, animation director/producer Steve Loter and illustrator/filmmaker Rafael Santiago, is set to debut on Sept. 29, and update weekly. The comic follows two sheltered koalas on the run from the law in their 1958 Cadillac El Dorado, evading capture, encountering bizarre characters (including vampire turtles and a religious cult of highway-flattened animals), and even battling addiction.
“… If you follow the news at all you probably — it’s not really a secret — I have a little addiction problem that I get arrested for time to time,” Brendon tells Chicago Now. “God bless sobriety! But I think Avery is going to have a problem with his eucalyptus intake. Because the whole thing about koalas is that they’re fierce creatures, and what keeps them mellow is the eucalyptus, that acts like a catnip for them.”
Publishing | Direct-market comics sales fell 12 percent in July versus the previous year, with only Marvel’s X-Men #1 breaking the 100,000-copy mark, thanks to incentive covers and heavy marketing behind a series relaunch. The sixth issue of DC Comics’ summer crossover, Brightest Day, came in at No. 2 with about 94,600 copies.
The news is better in the graphic novel category, where sales climbed 3 percent, buoyed by strong performances by all six volumes of Scott Pilgrim — the final book in the series debuted with sales of more than 21,000 — and the 12th volume of The Walking Dead. Overall sales declined 9 percent in July. [ICv2.com]
Conventions | Wizard World Chicago Comic Con kicks off Friday in Rosemont, Illinois. Guests include Brian Azzarello, Art Baltazar, J. Scott Campbell, Gary Friedrich, Michael Golden, Mike Grell, Greg Horn, Joe Madureira, Bill Sienkiewicz, Jill Thompson and Ethan Van Sciver. [Daily Herald]
Comics strips | Andrews McMeel Universal has combined its Universal Press Syndicate and Uclick divisions to form Universal Uclick, a combined print and digital syndication and licensing service.
Lee Salem, president of Universal Press Syndicate, will serve as interim CEO. Douglas Edwards, who had been CEO of Uclick, has resigned.
Established in 1970, Universal Press Syndicate distributes comic strips, editorial cartoons and other features to newspapers worldwide. Uclick sells comics, games and puzzles for the Internet and mobile phones. In 2006, it launched a comics application for mobile phones, distributing such titles as The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Godland and PvP. It later added Bone and titles from other comics publishers. [Kansas City Business Journal, press release]