EXCL. PREVIEW: Marvel's "Darth Vader" #9 Puts the Sith Lord at a Crossroads
Retailing | Sales of both comics and graphic novels were strong during the 2014 holiday season and have continued to grow since then, according to the 13 retailers (nine direct market shops and four bookstores that carry graphic novels) surveyed by Publishers Weekly. The answers seem to reflect some trends that have been ongoing for a while: Image Comics solidifying its place as the No. 3 (and in one case, No. 2) comics publisher, the increasing popularity of graphic novels and an influx of new readers, many of them young and female. [Publishers Weekly]
Retailing | Brooklyn Comics & More Inc., the owner of two now-closed stores in New York City, has filed for bankruptcy. The corporation opened Brooklyn Comics & More in 2010 and Manhattan Comics & More in 2011; both closed in 2013. The company’s debts include $71,799.93 owed to Diamond Comic Distributors. [ICv2]
Patton Oswalt and Ivan Brunetti have a bit of a history, with the comedian writing the foreword to the 2007 collection Ho! The Morally Questionable Cartoons of Ivan Brunetti, and the cartoonist illustrating the cover of his 2009 album My Weakness Is Strong. So for Oswalt’s upcoming show at New York City’s historic Carnegie Hall, he again turned to Brunetti, who created a poster featuring a lineup of comedy legends.
Yeti Press is selling a limited number of those 12-inch by 18-inch posters on its website for $15. Given the popularity of both the comedian and the cartoonist, they probably won’t last long.
Get Over It
by Corrine Mucha
Secret Acres, 104 pages, $15
It’s my strong suspicion that Mucha’s memoir, about her attempts to cope following the breakup of a long-term relationship, will largely be appreciated by the under-30 crowd. I’m not saying that older readers, especially those who have been through the mill a few times, will dismiss her story or be unsympathetic as she relates her woes, but I do expect them to regard some of Mucha’s realizations and self-help profundities with a shrug and a muttered, “So what else is new?”
At a certain point in your life (usually past your 20s), you come to understand the importance of allowing yourself to properly mourn the death of a relationship, either through simple contemplation or hard-fought experience. There’s nothing thematically in Get Over It that a certain segment of the population doesn’t already know (even if they have trouble adhering to that wisdom).
Publishing | I talked with TOON Books founder Francoise Mouly about her new imprint, TOON Graphics, which will feature “visual books” (picture books and comics) for readers ages 8 and up. The line launches with three titles: Theseus and the Minotaur, by Yves Pommaux, Cast Away on the Letter A, by Fred, and Hansel and Gretel, retold by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Lorenzo Mattotti. [Publishers Weekly]
Commentary | Former DC Comics senior editor Joan Hilty tackles the issue of sexism in comics and calls for publishers to include more women in their senior editorial rank:. “Women are getting the bestselling books into stores and greenlighting the million-dollar movie franchises, but they’re barely represented among the creative executives who map out the universes and storytelling strategies. That’s where you cement broad-based, long-term loyalty to authors and characters, tap new audiences and trends, and grow readership, without which none of those books or movies would exist.” [The Guardian]
If you’re guessing the guy who co-founded Yeti Press would have a bunch of Yeti on his shelves, you’d be right. But that’s not all he has, as RJ Casey drops by to hsow us his graphic novels, original art and much more.
If you’d like to share your collection here on Robot 6, you can find details on how to do that at the end of the post.
And now let’s hear from RJ …
Legal | As the dust begins to settle on the ruling last month by a federal judge that Arthur Conan Doyle’s first 50 Sherlock Holmes stories have lapsed into the public domain in the United States, out march the analyses pointing out the buts. Chief among them, of course, is the possibility of appeal by the Conan Doyle estate, which contends the characters were effectively incomplete until the author’s final story was published in the United States (the 10 stories published after Jan. 1, 1923, remain under copyright in this country until 2022).
However, Publishers Weekly notes that because U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo didn’t rule directly on that “novel” argument, the estate may be satisfied with the ambiguity of the decision, given that uncertain creators still may seek to license the characters to steer clear of any trouble. Estate lawyer Benjamin Allison also insists that the Sherlock Holmes trademarks remain unaffected, an assertion that puzzles author and scholar Leslie Klinger, who brought the lawsuit. “There is a very good reason why the Estate did not assert trademark protection: The Estate does not own any trademarks,” he told PW. “They have applied for them, and there will be substantial opposition.” There’s more at NPR, The Independent and The Atlantic. [Publishers Weekly]
The small press publisher Yeti Press has launched a Kickstarter project asking contributors to help sustain the company’s growth over the next year. The company plans to release six comics and graphic novels over the next several months and is looking for early subscribers :
We have grown steadily over the last 2 years, but to take the next step towards where we want to be, we are asking for your help. A stellar lineup of books has been assembled, including brand new talent and Yeti Press favorites, that we’d like to release over the next year. Three of those books would be completed and shipped in the fall/winter months and another 3 would come to you in the spring/summertime. This Kickstarter effort will be a one time only deal, offering single issues, assorted goodies, and most importantly – a subscription service.
RJ Casey is a comics writer who has plunged into small-press publishing with energy and ambition. He publishes his own comics, and those by several other creators, under the name Yeti Press, and knowing that he is a micropublisher, I was impressed to see him and his collaborators at both C2E2 and TCAF this year. He’s going to CAKE in a few weeks as well. Oh, and his comics were recently reviewed on a major comics blog.
Yeti Press is about to celebrate its second anniversary, and to celebrate, Casey is taking his work digital for the first time. Starting on Monday, he will make one comic at a time available as a downloadable PDF at a discount off the print price; after two weeks, he snatches that comic away and puts up another one. That one-at-a-time approach interested me, as did Casey’s life as a small-press creator, so I asked him to talk a bit about how he goes about his work, how it balances with his day job as a teacher, and why he chose this particular route for digital sales.
First of all, what is Yeti Press? Who runs it, why did you start it, and what do you do?
We like to consider ourselves a small publishing behemoth out of Chicago. We put out a variety of minicomics, graphic novels, and even distribute a few select books. On a day-to-day level, I generally run the operation with help from co-founder Eric Roesner. Eric and I created Yeti Press back in 2011 to have a unified name when we worked together on the first issue of our Pecos series. I’m fairly confident that neither of us knew all the steps in every which direction Yeti Press would take following that first comics. To make sure the comics keep rolling though, some of my responsibilities include editing, taking treks to the post office, working with printers, paying artists, and scheduling release dates, signings, and conventions. I also try to get some writing done in my free time.
There’s a growing number of small-press publishers popping up these days, from Koyama Press to Oily Comics and beyond. No doubt that’s in large part due to the increasing number of indie-comics conventions like CAKE and SPX, the relative ease of selling your work online, more and more cartoonists trained in basic printing and business skills thanks to schools like the Center for Cartoon Studies, and perhaps even more affordable printing technologies. (I’m guessing at that last one. OK, I’m guessing at all of these.)
Whatever the reason, we are blessed (or, depending on your viewpoint, cursed) with a plethora of minicomics from new and up-and-coming cartoonists. Here then are some short-ish reviews of minis that came to my doorstep from two relatively new publishers: Yeti Press and Retrofit Comics.
Our Ever Improving Living Room by Kevin Budnik ($20): This is a chunky-sized collection of a series of four-panel journal comics Budnik did while attending college. It’s similar in style and presentation to James Kochalka’s American Elf, although Budnik portrays himself as being a bit more reserved and anxious than Kochalka. It seems like just about everyone and their cat is doing a diary comic of some form these days, and while I can appreciate how the daily rigamarole of that type of comic can improve one’s artistic and storytelling skill, there’s always a danger in discovering that the examined life turns out to be rather dull. While he’s not above highlighting the cute moment or indulging in some unnecessary naval-gazing, Budnik manages to avoid many of the pitfalls of his peers by possessing a self-effacing sense of humor and an appreciation for the minor victories and miseries of life. This is early work, and rough at times, but it shows a good deal of promise and I want to see what he does next.