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SDCC ’12 | A roundup of news and announcements from Thursday

Sandman

Thursday may have started a bit slow in the news department, but it sure ended with a huge bang. Here’s a roundup of announcements that hit today from Comic-Con International in San Diego:

• Neil Gaiman announced via video that he will write a new Sandman miniseries that will detail what happened to Morpheus to allow him to be so easily captured in The Sandman #1. J.H. Williams III will provide the art. “It was a story that we discussed telling for Sandman‘s 20th anniversary,” Gaiman said, “but the time got away from us. And now, with Sandman‘s 25th anniversary year coming up, I’m delighted, and nervous, that that story is finally going to be told.” The series will be published by Vertigo sometime next year.

• Mark Waid, Shane Davis and Max Brooks will team to create Shadow Walk, a graphic novel coming out next year from Legendary Comics.

• Legendary will also publish the Majestic Files by J. Michael Straczynski, which will feature art by Geoff Shaw and Matt Banning.

• Terry Moore will write a Strangers in Paradise prose novel to coincide with the comic’s 20th anniversary next year. He also plans to do an all-ages comic after Rachel Rising finishes in 30-40 issues.

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SDCC ’12 | Yen Press to adapt James Patterson’s next novel

Zoo

James Patterson’s Zoo hasn’t even been released yet, but Yen Press already has a graphic novel adaptation of it in the works. Andy MacDonald revealed on his blog last night that he’s been working on it, and Yen Press is showing off promotional materials for it at its booth at Comic-Con International in San Diego. According to the description on Patterson’s website, Zoo is about:

All over the world, brutal attacks are crippling entire cities. Jackson Oz, a young biologist, watches the escalating events with an increasing sense of dread. When he witnesses a coordinated lion ambush in Africa, the enormity of the violence to come becomes terrifyingly clear.

With the help of ecologist Chloe Tousignant, Oz races to warn world leaders before it’s too late. The attacks are growing in ferocity, cunning, and planning, and soon there will be no place left for humans to hide. With wildly inventive imagination and white-knuckle suspense that rivals Stephen King at his very best, James Patterson’s ZOO is an epic, non-stop thrill-ride from “One of the best of the best.” (TIME)

Yen Press has published several graphic novel adaptations of Patterson’s books aimed at younger readers, including Maximum Ride and Daniel X, but I believe this is the first “adult” book of his the company will adapt. According to Amazon, it comes out in November, two months after the prose novel.

SDCC ’12 | Friday programming schedule released

Comic-Con

Like clockwork, Comic-Con International organizers have released the programming schedule for Friday, July 13, the second full day of the San Diego convention. It sees publishers kicking things into high gear, with Marrvel’s “Cup O’ Joe” and DC Comics panels on the New 52 and Justice League and Green Lantern groups, as well as presentations from IDW Publishing, Oni Press, BOOM! Studios, UDON, and Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly.

That’s only for starters, though, as AMC’s The Walking Dead, Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The CW’s Arrow make Comic-Con appearances, and creators as diverse as Joss Whedon, Kate Beaton, Larry Hama, Scott Snyder, Lynn Johnston, Dan Piraro, James Robinson and Jeff Lemire get the spotlight. There are also tributes to legendary creators Jerry Robinson and Joe Simon, as well as Comic-Con co-founder Richard Alf.

And to keep off the day, there’s the 24th annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards.

We’ve selected some of the comics-related highlights below; visit the Comic-Con website to see the complete schedule.

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Yen Press to publish more Twilight graphic novels

Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but you can’t argue with its success — not just the novels and the movies but also the record-shattering bestseller Twilight graphic novel published by Yen Press. The second volume was released last year, and now the news is out that Yen Press will publish two more Twilight graphic novels: The first volume of New Moon, which adapts the next novel in the series, and a Twilight Collectors Edition, that includes the first two volumes in a single omnibus.

Young Kim, who did the first adaptation, will also adapt New Moon. The Twilight Saga has a bit more detail on both books.  although the Yen Press Facebook page (which probably attracts more fans of Black Butler and Pandora Hearts than Twilight) elicited a more mixed reaction from commenters. Both books are due out in October.

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Comics A.M. | WonderCon still hoping for return to San Francisco

WonderCon

Conventions | David Glanzer, Comic-Con International’s director of marketing and public relations, looks back on this year’s WonderCon, which was held in Anaheim, California, rather than in San Francisco, touches upon the uncertainty about the location for next year’s show — “we just don’t have dates at the Moscone Center yet” — and discusses changes to pro and press registration for Comic-Con. [ICv2]

Conventions | Grant Morrison talks about MorrisonCon, the Sept. 28-30 convention billed as “a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” “It’s not going to be ‘Come here and buy some comics and listen to a few panels,’ ” he says. “After two days you will be a changed person.” Tickets for the Las Vegas show, which is limited to 1,000 attendees, cost $767, and include a two-night stay at the Hard Rock Hotel, access to the guests and after-hours parties. [The Hollywood Reporter]

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Comics A.M. | Arizona legislature pulls back electronic censorship bill

Arizona state flag

Legal | A proposed Arizona law that would make it a crime to annoy or offend anyone through electronic means has been held back for revision after a number of concerned parties, including the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, protested that it was too broad. The bill, which was passed by both houses of the Arizona legislature, basically took the language from the statute criminalizing harassing phone calls and applied it to all electronic devices, without limiting it to one-to-one communications. As a result, the language appears to make it a crime to post anything annoying or potentially offensive on the internet. [CBLDF]

Retailing | Brian Hibbs questions Mark Waid’s math, both with regard to comic shops and the cost of self-publishing, and brings up a number of arguments in favor of the Direct Market. He argues that having gatekeepers in the market is a good thing and that rather than refusing to take a risk on a new or different comic, retailers will go out of their way to stock comics they think their readers will like. [Savage Critics]

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Comics A.M. | Arizona legislature passes bill censoring electronic speech

Arizona state flag

Legal | The Arizona legislature passed a sweeping bill last week that would make it a crime to communicate via electronic means speech that is intended to “annoy,” “offend,” “harass” or “terrify.” While the law was intended to update the state’s telephone harassment laws to encompass the Internet, it’s not limited to one-to-one communications and thus, as the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund notes, could criminalize “all manner of writing, cartoons, and other protected material the state finds offensive or annoying.” Media Coalition, a trade association that includes the CBLDF among its members, has sent a letter to Gov. Jan Brewer urging her to veto the bill. [Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Media Coalition]

Passings | Rex Babin, editorial cartoonist for the Sacramento Bee and a Pulitzer Prize finalist, has died of cancer. [The Daily Cartoonist]

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Robot Reviews | Two kids’ comics that make you think

I spent the weekend reading big piles of children’s graphic novels, prepping for my Eisner judging duties. There were two that stood out to me for the same reason: They demanded more of the reader than just following along. While they are clearly intended for young readers, both are interesting enough to hold an adult’s attention and would definitely make good gifts for a child who will immediately demand that you read them aloud.

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Food or Comics? | Friends With Boysenberries

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Friends With Boys

Brigid Alverson

This is one of those tough weeks when the floppies aren’t doing it for me, so I want graphic novels, and graphic novels aren’t cheap. At the $15 level, I’ll pick up vol. 1 of Soulless ($12.99), Yen Press’s manga-style adaptation of the first volume of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series. With a sharp-witted heroine pitted against vampires and werewolves, and detailed yet dynamic art by the talented rem, it is a solid and entertaining read.

My first choice of the week has to wait until I have $30, though, because Faith Erin Hicks’s Friends With Boys is priced at $15.99. Worth it! Hicks is another talented storyteller and her tale of a home-schooled girl starting high school with three brothers looming over her—but without her mother, who has recently left—is funny and sweet and very heartfelt. So when I’m done with the vampire-killings, this is the book I want to read.

For my splurge, I’ll start with the thick second volume of Archie: The Married Life ($19.99), which collects the second six issues of Life With Archie magazine. The “Archie Marries” stories are fast-moving soap operas, and this comic is one of my guilty pleasures. And then I’ll add the first volume of the Girl Genius hardcover omnibus ($34.99), which is truly a splurge as it’s a free webcomic, but I’d love to have this one in print, for keeps.

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FCBD: BOOM! launches Dune, Bad Medicine surfaces

Diamond has released its Silver Sponsor comics for Free Comic Book Day, meaning that the full array of FCBD comics is now before us. There’s quite a variety: Judge Dredd, Buffy, Gilbert Hernandez’s Marble Season, Smurfs, Donald Duck, Voltron, My Favorite Martian. There’s an anthology of Middle Eastern comics and a (censored) Howard Cruse comic. Over at The Beat, commenter Torsten Adair points out that BOOM! Studios is putting out a Dune comic that hasn’t been announced anywhere else—although the solicit text makes it clear that this is just the first of a series: “a must-have precursor to the epic launch of the adaptation of Dune books from BOOM! starting in July!” And Marble Season was only announced on Thursday. On the other side of the news cycle, the Oni Press selection, Bad Medicine, was first announced in 2008 and is just now coming to the surface—it isn’t even on Oni’s website. The writers are the extremely busy team of Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir, and the art is by Christopher Mitten.

A few other observations: The Gossamyr comic from Th3rd World Studios features art by “talented newcomer Sarah Ellerton.” I don’t know who let that by, but Ellerton is anything but a newcomer; she has been making webcomics (Inverloch, The Phoenix Requiem) for close to a decade now, although it’s clear from the cover that her art has matured quite a bit. Viz is back in the FCBD game but not with their Shonen Jump samplers of years gone by; this year they are all about Voltron Force, and they were pretty excited about these graphic novels at NYCC this year. Yen Press is highlighting their adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices, which was announced at NYCC.

Sparkly Vampires vs. Lego Ninjas

Among the deluge of pre-NYCC press releases was one from Papercutz that really grabbed my attention: According to publisher Terry Nantier (who also helms parent company NBM), pre-orders of their Ninjago graphic novel have topped 170,000 copies. That’s a pretty impressive number.

The graphic novel is based on Lego’s ninja-themed Ninjago playsets, which have already spawned a couple of made-for-TV movies, and there’s a cartoon series in the works. Plus, people really like Lego, so it’s logical that it would do well.

Still, numbers like that put Ninjago in rarefied company. The first printing of Scott Pilgrim (which admittedly wasn’t a slam dunk) was about 10,000, if memory serves. Potential blockbusters justify greater risk: Yen Press announced an initial printing of 350,000 copies of the first Twilight graphic novel, and over 168,000 copies were sold in stores monitored by BookScan (which includes sales from bookstores only, and not all of those) last year.

There aren’t many books that do that well, though. Dork Diaries, which is a prose-graphic novel hybrid, actually topped Twilight on the BookScan charts, and The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung Fu Cave, by Captain Underpants creator Dav Pilkey, came in a very close third. But only those three topped 100,000 copies; Scott Pilgrim filled slots 4 through 9 on the chart, with sales ranging from 90,000 to almost 60,00, and the number 10 book was a volume of Naruto that moved about 53,000 copies.

That effect was even more pronounced in 2009, when BookScan’s top seller Watchmen, dwarfed the ninjas and the vampires with sales of well over 400,000 copies. The second best-selling book that year was Dork Diaries (again!) with sales of over 68,000, a considerable dropoff from the top spot. With graphic novels, it seems you can’t count on volume—unless you have Lego ninjas on your side.

Comic Industry Job Board – October 2011

In the wide world of comics there’s always a need for talented people — and not just for creating the comics. The comics you read every day are supported by an immense infrastructure of editors, publishers, designers, distributors and retailers that make American comics what it is today. And despite the frail economy, the comics industry is looking for employees.

We’ve compiled a list of all the openings in the comics industry for non-creative office positions and put it all into one place. It’s a good resource if you’re looking to work in comics, and also for armchair speculators seeing what companies are looking to do by seeing what positions they’re hiring for. We accumulated these by looking on publisher websites and job boards — if you know of a job not listed here, let us know!

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Korean publishers woo overseas licensors

ICv2 has an interesting report from the Bucheon International Comics Festival (Bicof) in Bucheon, South Korea. Korea is an interesting case because it actually has a government agency, the Korea Manhwa Contents Agency, dedicated to promoting the nation’s comics industry, and indeed, the manhwa (Korean comics) market is worth about U.S. $32.6 million for a population of 49 million.

While a number of American companies publish licensed manhwa, they usually don’t brand it as such. Tokyopop and Central Park Media started bringing it over in the mid-2000s to supplement their manga lines, which led many fans to dismiss it as an inferior version of manga. I remember sitting in the CPM panel at NYCC in February 2007, when CPM managing director John O’Donnell asked the crowd of mostly manga and anime fans what they thought about manhwa. Hoots of derision echoed off the concrete walls as fans ticked off the things they hate about manhwa, weak art and fractured storytelling looming large among them.

But that had a lot to do with the selection available; at that time, most of the manhwa available in English were second-string genre titles, and a lot of them did look like crappy imitations of manga. What’s more, people didn’t have a sense of manhwa the way they do of manga; the highest-profile manhwa property in the U.S. is probably Tokyopop’s Priest, especially since the movie came out this year, but people don’t necessarily know it’s Korean. Tokyopop made a good try by publishing a number of manhwa by Hee Jung Park that could hold their own in any selection of American indy comics, but they never found their audience, which is a shame. And no discussion is complete without a mention of Bride of the Water God, the beautifully drawn but oft-delayed series published by Dark Horse.

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SDCC ’11 | Square Enix: First volume is on us

Square Enix is a Japanese publisher of manga and video games. It licenses print manga (including such high-profile titles as Fullmetal Alchemist and Black Butler) to Viz Media and Yen Press, and last year launched an online manga site that carries both those titles and 13 others. However, several reviewers (myself included) found the price of $5.99 per volume (in a streaming-only, no download format) to be a bit on the high side.

From now through Aug. 10, however, Square Enix is offering the first volume of any of its 15 series for free to readers who “Like” the company’s Facebook page or get a special URL at SDCC.

There are a lot of caveats to this: The offer is open to residents of North America only (“Regional eligibility will be determined by MindMax® geolocation services,” says the press release, which sounds a little ominous). You’re also going to have sign up for a Square Enix account and download its proprietary reader. The press release seems to say you have to have a Windows computer to use the reader, but I managed to make it work on my Mac.

Obviously, the Square Enix folks are trying to get people to sign on with their sites. Their registration process is pretty cumbersome; I signed up a few weeks ago and I counted five separate registration processes, including creating two passwords, before I could buy a book in their store and read it on my computer. Offering a free volume may make readers a bit more patient with the process, though. I’m curious to hear what other people think, so if you take them up on the offer, feel free to drop back here and comment on how you liked it.

Comics A.M. | DC’s gay and lesbian heroes, ‘more brooding’ Superman

Stormwatch #1

Publishing | DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio talks about the gay and lesbian characters appearing in the company’s books come September, including Batwoman and WildStorm imports Apollo, Midnighter and Voodoo: “When we looked at trying to incorporate some of the characters that inhabited the WildStorm universe Apollo and Midnighter are two characters that have always popped out. Not because of what they represent, but they’re just strong characters in their own right and [they] were able to represent a story, a style of character that wasn’t represented in the DC Universe. There’s more of an aggressive nature with those characters that will interact interestingly with other characters and allows us to tell more and better stories.” [The Advocate]

Publishing | Todd Allen, Tom Foss and Graeme McMillan react to the list of changes to the “younger, brasher and more brooding” Superman who will inhabit the DC Universe following the September relaunch. [Indignant Online, Fortress of Soliloquy, Blog@Newsarama]

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