World of Warcraft
UDON Entertainment, which produces a lot of game-related art books, is extending the deadline for submissions to its World of Warcraft Tribute Book until Jan. 31. The book, which will be similar to the company’s Street Fighter, Darkstalkers and Mega Man fan anthologies, will debut in hardcover this summer at Comic-Con International in San Diego and in softcover in the fall.
UDON’s Stacy King, who is coordinating the project, explained the deadline extension:
Retailing | Although the 16th volume of The Walking Dead wasn’t released until June 19, 11 days’ worth of sales was enough to propel the latest collection of the horror series by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard to the top of BookScan’s chart of graphic novels sold in bookstores June. Four volumes of the popular series, including the first one, appear in the Top 20. [ICv2.com]
Publishing | Hermes Press, which has been publishing the vintage Buck Rogers collections, has announced a new Buck Rogers project: An original comic series written and drawn by Howard Chaykin, one that Publisher Dan Herman promises will be strongly reminiscent of the original. [ICv2]
Publishing| The animation studio Klasky Csupo, which gave us The Wild Thornberrys and Rugrats, is branching out in a number of different directions, including print and digital comics. Its first comic is Ollie Mongo, which stars a blue zombie skateboarder. [USA Today]
All over the Internet, folks (myself included) have been speculating about the fate of Tokyopop’s licenses once the publisher closes up shop next week. Fans have been listing their favorites, but I don’t think anyone would have guessed that the first license rescue would be a global manga. But it’s true: Cryptozoic Entertainment has acquired the digital rights to Tokyopop’s World of Warcraft and Starcraft manga, created under a deal with WoW parent company Blizzard, and today released them on the Cryptozoic iPad app. The app is free, and the first volume of Warcraft: Legends will be free through June 2; other than that, the manga is $5.99 a volume.
If you have never heard of Cryptozoic, don’t feel bad — the company was only founded in March 2010 — but now might be a good time to start paying attention. It makes comics, trading cards, and games, and its line includes the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game and The Walking Dead board game. The iPad app, provided by iVerse, also includes IDW’s Locke and Key comics, but the Warcraft and Starcraft manga are a big get, because fans can’t seem to get enough of those franchises.
(Hat tip: Steve Horton, via Twitter)
Last week, Tokyopop CEO Stu Levy took some criticism from a number of comics sites, including this one, after the manga publisher laid off two senior editors, Lillian Diaz-Pryzybl and Troy Lewter, and one brilliant new hire, former CMX editor Asako Suzuki. This week, Levy told Publishers Weekly‘s Calvin Reid that the Borders bankruptcy left Tokyopop cash poor:
“They owe us a significant amount of money. We’re not a big company and with less cash than we planned, we had to regroup to survive.” The layoffs, he added, were “the hardest part, because these were my friends and collaborators.”
In addition to the Borders bankruptcy, Tokyopop took another hit this year: Its agreement with Warcraft developer Blizzard Entertainment came to an end in January. Apparently, Blizzard was happy with the sales and the quality of the manga, but didn’t want to put in the time required to work on them.
But it’s not all grim: Tokyopop ended its distribution deal with HarperCollins earlier this year, but a Tokyopop representative told me they will continue to co-publish the Warriors manga (based on the middle-grade prose novels by Erin Hunter), which are among their bestsellers. According to the BookScan charts that Brian Hibbs posts every year for his “Tilting at Windmills” column, Tokyopop sold about 120,000 Warriors manga, divided over four volumes, in 2008, and 60,000 in 2009. In 2010, Tokyopop’s bestselling book was Warriors: Ravenpaw’s Path #2, which sold 22,715 copies, according to BookScan. The Warcraft manga didn’t come close in any of these years. This is just in the bookstore channel — that’s what BookScan measures — but for Tokyopop, that’s a significant chunk of its business, probably the lion’s share, so keeping Warriors is huge.
IGN reports that Wildstorm is canceling its ongoing World of Warcraft and Starcraft comic series, and will replace them with a series of original graphic novels.
Both comics are based on the Blizzard Entertainment video games (and MMORG, in the case of Warcraft) of the same name. The announcement comes at an interesting time, as next month was supposed to see a name change for the Warcraft title to World of Warcraft: Alliance and the launch of a second title called World of Warcraft: Horde. Today’s World of Warcraft Special will be the last Warcraft comic, while January’s Starcraft #7 will be its last.
“While WildStorm and Blizzard loved the stories being told in the regular monthly comic-book series, we decided that the graphic novel would be a more suitable medium for the tales we wanted to tell next,” Hank Kanalz, vice president and general manager of Wildstorm, told the site. “The larger format will give our artists and storytellers more room to explore Blizzard’s rich, varied worlds and flesh out the characters that inhabit these places.”
No details on format or timing for the OGNs have been announced yet.