INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
Retailing | After opening its first physical store in November in Seattle, online retail giant Amazon is reportedly planning hundreds more. The news came from Sandeep Mathrani, CEO of real-estate investment company General Growth Properties, who revealed Tuesday in an earnings call that, “You’ve got Amazon opening brick-and-mortar bookstores and their goal is to open, as I understand, 300 to 400.” An Amazon spokesperson told Gizmodo the company doesn’t comment on “rumors and speculation.” The retailer’s Seattle store, called simply Amazon Books, stocks between 5,000 and 6,000 titles. [The Wall Street Journal]
Retailing | Kansas City retailer B-Bop Comics is offering a complete collection of Marvel comics, from Fantastic Four #1 (published in 1961) through all books published in 2015, for $200,000. The set, which doesn’t include any comics from Marvel predecessors Atlas and Timely, was put together by a collector who bought most of the comics as they were released. B-Bop is offering them as a complete set until next month; if they don’t sell in that format, the retailer will offer them individually, which will probably bring in more money. The set includes between 32,000 and 34,000 comics, housed in 106 longboxes, plus some boxes of books of various sizes. [ICv2]
It’s all over now but the voting. After a whirlwind of controversy, commentary and boycotts, the organizers of the Angouleme International Comics Festival withdrew their all-male slate of nominees for the Grand Prix, the festival’s top prize (and one of the most prestigious awards in all of comics) and said the voters could choose anyone they want. All creators who publish works in France are eligible to vote
Franck Bondoux, the festival’s executive director, published a “mea culpa” in the French newspaper Le Monde, calling the omission of women from the list of nominees a “symbolic error.” He accused the media of confusing the Grand Prix, which looks at 10 years or more of a creator’s work, with the festival’s book awards, which recognize graphic novels published in the past year. In that regard, the festival is ahead of its time, he maintained, as 25 percent of the nominated books are by women, who only make up 13 percent of creators in France, and women are well represented in the festival’s exhibits and book awards.
But then he doubled down on the “no women in comics history” argument:
I was an art student in 1979 when Germaine Greer’s The Obstacle Race was published. As it happened, most of the art majors that year were women, and we all read the book and spent late nights in our studios discussing it. Women had been completely absent from our art history courses, and Greer’s book opened our eyes to that fact and the reasons behind it — not a lack of talent, but a lack of recognition and encouragement — and often the deliberate placement of obstacles.
That wasn’t difficult to believe. The university I attended had only admitted women for five years and limited them to 25 percent of the student body at the time.
Censorship | China may have banned 38 manga and anime series, including Attack on Titan and Death Note, but fans are still finding ways to read and watch them — and Death Note is one of the most popular topics on the social media service Sina Weibo. “Chinese authorities are used to a certain degree of permeability in their various bans and directives,” says Jonathan Clements, author of Anime: A History. “The issue with a lot of Chinese censorship isn’t about a blanket ban that keeps 100% of material out. It’s about making life as difficult as possible for people who actually want it. A ban like this is about restricting casual access.” [BBC News]
Legal | DC Comics has filed a trademark lawsuit against clothing manufacturer Mad Engine, claiming one of its T-shirt designs infringes on the iconic Superman shield (it replaces the signature “S” with “Dad”). The shirt was sold through Target, which isn’t part of the suit. DC sent a cease-and-desist letter to Mad Engine on June 1, but, the publisher claims, the clothing company didn’t respond until June 19 “in an effort to allow the Infringing T-Shirt to remain available for sale through Father’s Day.” [The Hollywood Reporter]
Retailing | David Harper asked 25 comics retailers how they feel about their business (spoiler: mostly optimistic), what their customer base is like, how they determine which comics to order (some really interesting comments here), and their thoughts on the industry as a whole. With the caveat that it’s a small group, it’s fascinating stuff. [Sktchd]
Manga | Remember when Kadokawa published a manga based on the BBC’s popular Sherlock television series? Well, maybe not, because the manga hasn’t been licensed for English-language countries. But now the first volume has been translated: Kadokawa, the publisher of the original manga, has released a bilingual Japanese and English version of “A Study in Pink” intended for students of English. [Anime News Network]
Conventions | Attendance at ReedPOP’s second annual Special Edition: NYC, held June 6-7, reportedly increased 40 percent from the first year. [Publishers Weekly]
Chris Sims, announced last week as the writer of Marvel’s X-Men ’92 digital-first series, publicly apologized Tuesday to Valerie D’Orazio after the blogger and former DC Comics editor called him out for years-old online harassment.
“I was wrong, and in every way the bad guy,” he acknowledged on his personal blog.
D’Orazio, a writer who rose to online prominence in late 2006 with “Goodbye to Comics,” a memoir that shone a harsh light on comics culture and her experiences as an assistant editor at DC, took to Twitter early Tuesday to criticize both Marvel and Sims. “Because of the actions of this person — who is now writing the X-Men for Marvel Comics — I have been diagnosed with PTSD from cyberbulling [sic],” she tweeted.
In a subsequent blog post, D’Orazio stated she was bullied online between 2007 and 2010, and claims Sims “ring-led the harassment” against her at the time of the March 2010 release of her Punisher MAX: Butterfly one-shot.
Eleven-year-old Rowan Hansen attracted a lot of attention online last month for her letter asking DC Entertainment to “please do something” about the lack of comics, movies and toys featuring female superheroes. The publisher responded, tweeting, “We agree, we’re working hard to create more superhero fun for girls!.”
However, DC didn’t leave it at that.
Legal | Malaysian cartoonist Zunar was arrested last night on sedition charges stemming from a tweet criticizing the court that upheld the sodomy conviction of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. On Tuesday, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar posted a screencap of the offending tweet, which said, “Followers (Barua-barua) in black robes were proud in delivering judgement. Reward by Mr Politician must be lavish,” reflecting the popular opinion that the conviction was a political ploy by the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak to silence Anwar. Zunar then tweeted a cartoon of Najib as the judge handing down the verdict. Although his lawyer said Zunar offered to come in to answer questions, he was brought to the Dang Wangi police station, where he can be detained until Saturday — or longer, if police renew the remand order. [The Rakyat Post]
Eleven-year-old Rowan has the same complaint that a lot of fans do — that there simply aren’t enough comics, movies and toys featuring female superheroes. So she wrote a letter to DC Comics, saying, “Please do something about this. Girls read comics too and they care.”
Today, DC answered.
The letter, posted Wednesday this week on the blog of family friend David M. Perry, garnered a lot of attention on Twitter. “I love superheroes and have been reading comics and watching superhero cartoons and movies since I was very young,” Rowan writes. “I’m a girl, and I’m upset because there aren’t very many girl superheroes or movies and comics from DC.”
The goes on to point out the disparity between the number of toys based on male heroes and those based on female heroes, not to mention the lack of a Wonder Woman television series. “Marvel Comics made a movie about a talking tree and raccoon awesome,” she notes, “but you haven’t made a movie with Wonder Woman.”
Creators | Garry Trudeau has some straight talk for those who criticized him for basing Sunday’s Doonesbury on the controversial Rolling Stone expose of the University of Virginia’s handling of rape cases — or thought maybe the strip was submitted before a number of commentators cast doubt on the lead anecdote in that article. The cartoonist insists that’s not the point: “We had some internal discussion about whether the flaws in the [Rolling Stone] reporting mattered here, and we concluded they didn’t. UVA is only used as setup to get the reader to consider the larger problem of institutions prioritizing their reputations over the welfare of those they’re charged with safeguarding.” [Comic Riffs]
The winners of the third annual British Comic Awards were announced Saturday at the Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds, England. Two of the four awards went to titles published by Image Comics; all four of the winning works are readily available in the United States. Here are the winners:
Best Comic: The Wicked + The Divine #1 by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson and Clayton Cowles (Image Comics)
Best Book: The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg (Jonathan Cape)
Young People’s Comic Award: Hilda and the Black Hound by Luke Pearson (Flying Eye Books)
Emerging Talent: Alison Sampson for her artwork on Genesis (Image Comics) and “Shadows” from the In The Dark anthology (IDW Publishing)
Hall of Fame: Posy Simmonds
Two years ago, when the first awards were announced, there was some discussion about the gender balance of both the committee that chose the books and the nominations themselves. Last year’s awards all went to men. This year, there were more women on the committee and more women on the shortlist, and the awards were split, with Simmonds giving the women the edge.
Comics | Check your longboxes, folks: Copies of Marvel’s Sunfire & Big Hero 6 #1, from 1998, with a CGC grade of 9.8 are selling for $450 and up ahead of the premiere of the Disney animated film, and even non-graded copies are good for $25 or more. [ICv2]
Creators | Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick talks about the character, and her reaction to the newly announced Marvel film: “I feel so proud of her, like Carol is this person who lives in my head, and ‘look what you did, girl!’ It feels like a friend just got a promotion.” [Speakeasy]
Publishing | Chris Butcher announced that, after three years as marketing director, he’s left UDON Entertainment to focus more fully on his work for the Toronto store The Beguiling (where he’s manager) and the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (where he’s festival director). [Comics212]
Publishing | DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee talk about the state of the comics market, DC’s upcoming move from New York City to Burbank, the growing female audience and more. “There’s also a diversification within the audience itself the past couple of years,” Lee observed. “You’ve seen more women, more female readers, in general. When we launched Batgirl and Gotham Academy, those books struck a different note, different tonality, and that was in large part due to editor Mark Doyle bringing these projects together with different kinds of creators. It was our way of broadening the base of the Batman family of books but doing it in a different way to attract a different audience. I think it speaks well to the future that we’re not just going to strike the same note looking for the same customer. […] You can’t necessarily rely on the same continuity, the same core hardcore comics-driven material; you have to diversify, broaden your net and bring in different voices to the company.” [ICv2]