It’s funny, for such a unique fanbase and how until recently comics were really looked down on by mainstream America — which is another reason we wanted to start this company, and bring it more mainstream — there’s a lot of comic snobs out there, it seems to me. People who just go, ‘I won’t read that because there’s a scantily clad Red Riding Hood on the cover.’ Yet if you look at a Marvel comic or a DC comic, and it has a female character in it, they’re portrayed very much the same way, in my opinion.
So it does bother me a little bit. But then, at the same time, you can’t please everybody. I think the biggest success that we have is through word of mouth — people telling other people, ‘Hey, this is a good book, pick it up.’ Those fans will bring more fans to our brand, and if that wasn’t happening, we wouldn’t be in business. It is a little bothersome, but at the same time, I understand it, too.”
– Zenescope President Joe Brusha, addressing the perception of his company as simply a T&A publisher
Comics strips | Matt Saracini looks at the impact on Australian cartoonists of a cost-cutting decision by media giant News Corp. Australia to replace individual comics pages in their largest newspapers with one national page. In the process, some more expensive locally produced strips were jettisoned in favor for cheaper syndicated ones from overseas, like Garfield and The Phantom. News Corp. owns more than a hundred daily, weekly, biweekly and triweekly newspapers. [SBS.com]
Creators | Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat, now living in Kuwait after troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attacked him and broke both his hands, talks about his decision to portray al-Assad explicitly in his cartoons, rather than sticking to more generic themes like freedom and human rights: “It was a big decision to start to draw Bashar and, yes, I was scared of what might happen, particularly when I was attacked. But I had a responsibility to do what I did. If I am not prepared to take risks I have no right to call myself an artist. If there is no mission or message to my work I might as well be a painter and decorator.” [The Guardian]
Comics | Could the competition to become the 2017 U.K. City of Culture hinge on … Desperate Dan, the pie-eating Wild West strongman from the long-running children’s comic The Dandy? Hull Daily Mail columnist Angus Young thinks the character could give Dundee the edge over fellow finalists Leicester, Swansea Bay and, yes, Hull. Dundee, Scotland, is home to The Dandy and The Beano publisher DC Thomson, and features statues of Desperate Dan and Beano character Minnie the Minx in its city center. “Having your picture taken next to the barrel-chested grizzly-chinned hero is apparently one of the top-ten things to do when visiting Dundee,” Young writes. “[...] This a bloke who thinks nothing of eating several cow pies in one sitting. A cowboy so tough he shaves his chin with a blowtorch and sleeps in a reinforced bed filled with building rubble.” The winner will be announced in November. [Hull Daily Mail, The Evening Telegraph]
Publishing | Pulp heroes The Spirit, Doc Savage and The Avenger disappeared from the DC Comics lineup more than a year ago, with Co-Publisher Dan DiDio now confirming on his Facebook page that the company’s rights to the characters have lapsed. Brian Azzarello paired the vintage characters with Batman, Black Canary, the Blackhawks and other current DC heroes in his First Wave miniseries, which launched in 2010. Heidi MacDonald adds, “we’ve heard that at WB it was pointed out that DC paying good money to license old characters didn’t make much sense when they had their own catalog of little-used characters to exploit.” [Blog@Newsarama]
Digital comics | As noted here Monday, comiXology was No. 3 on the list of top-grossing iPad apps of 2012, and in the press release announcing this, the comiXology folks dropped another number on us: They have served more than 2 billion pages since their launch three years ago. [comiXology]
Legal | The Bombay High Court had sharp words for the Mumbai Police regarding the arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on a sedition charge. “How can you (police) arrest people on frivolous grounds? You arrest a cartoonist and breach his liberty of freedom of speech and expression,” said justices DY Chandrachud and Amjad Sayyed during a hearing in the case. The court will issue guidelines for the application of the sedition law, said the justices, who called the arrest of Trivedi “arbitrary.” “We have one Aseem Trivedi who was courageous enough to raise his voice and stand against this, but what about several others whose voices are shut by police.” [The Economic Times]
Creators | Grant Morrison talks about the guy who (literally) ate a copy of Supergods, why he is moving away from superheroes, and his upcoming Pax Americana, which is based on the same Charlton characters as Watchmen: “It’s so not like Watchmen. In the places where it is like Watchmen people will laugh because it’s really quite … it’s really faithful and respectful but at the same time satiric. I don’t think people will be upset by it, in the way that they’ve been upset by Before Watchmen which even though it’s good does ultimately seem redundant … This one is its own thing but it deliberately quotes the kind of narrative techniques used in Watchmen and does something new with them.” [New Statesman]
Publishing | ICv2 sits down for a three-part interview with DC Comics Co-Publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio that takes the long view of the past year, covering the launch of the New 52, the effect of digital and the loss of Borders, and the recent discussions around creators’ rights. “It’s a cyclical thing. It’s an issue that constantly comes back,” DiDio said. “We hear about the great jobs and the great books that creators might participate in, but what we don’t hear about are all the books we’ve invested in over the years that never delivered, where we’ve invested in the talent and the time to make sure they had the opportunity to tell the stories they tell. It’s a very big picture, and it’s a very complex issue that can’t be boiled down. One thing I feel the most strongly is that I feel extraordinarily confident that we do everything we can to make this a very creator friendly company, to make sure they have an opportunity to tell the stories they want to tell with our characters and also in their creator owned stories too.” [ICv2]
Comic-Con International kicked into full gear Friday in a bustling second day that was capped off last night with the presentation of the 24th annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. Here’s the highlights of the announcements emerging from the second day — and a few holdovers from the first day — of the San Diego convention:
• During its annual “Cup O’ Joe” panel, Marvel teased post-Avengers Vs. X-Men plans that include: A+X, described as “the opposite of [AvX: VS],” by such creators as Jeph Loeb, Dan Slott, Dale Keown and Ron Garney; Avengers Vs. X-Men: Consequences, a five-issue miniseries written by Kieron Gillen that addresses the effects of the summer crossover; Marvel NOW! Point One, featuring Nick Fury Jr.; and an October one-shot called Avengers Vs. X-Men: Babies, by Skottie Young.
• After initially dismissing Kickstarter as a potential source of money for the stalled Goon animated movie, creator Eric Powell teased he plans to launch a campaign on the crowd-funding website.
Conventions | Creative director Rico Renzi discusses HeroesCon, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this weekend with a three-day event that’s experienced a spike in advance ticket sales: “Stan Lee’s attendance to this year’s show has definitely caused a spike in advance ticket sales from what I can tell. I honestly like the show at just the size it is; it’s just right. I used to hop on a bus from Baltimore to go the NYCC and I loved it for the first couple years. It just got too big for me too enjoy it, you couldn’t walk around without rubbing up against strangers. It’s a great alternative to San Diego now I guess. If you’re looking for a pure comic book show though, HeroesCon is where it’s at.” In addition to Lee, this year’s guests include Neal Adams, Mark Bagley, Cliff Chiang, Frank Cho, Becky Cloonan, Geof Darrow, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Evan Dorkin, Tommy Lee Edwards, Matt Fraction, Francesco Francavilla, Jaime Hernandez, Dave Johnson, Jeff Lemire, Paul Levitz, Mike Mignola, George Perez, Louise Simonson, Walt Simonson, Scott Snyder and Bernie Wrightson. [The Comics Reporter]
WonderCon opened its doors Friday at the Anaheim Convention Center, a first for the convention as it moves south from its usual San Francisco home this year. Will it be a permanent move? The Beat’s Heidi MacDonald, who is at the show, has some thoughts on why that may not be a bad idea.
Here’s a round-up of news from yesterday at the show:
• Daredevil and Irredeemable writer Mark Waid announced several digital comics plans, beginning with a PDF comic available now on his website. The zombie comic, called Luther, is drawn by Jeremy Rock. It will be followed in May by a digital comics imprint. “In May, I’m rolling out a digital comics website where material will be going up in weekly or twice-weekly installments. But before that, on April 2, MarkWaid.com goes live again as a process blog for webcomics and what we’re doing. All throughout April, we’ll be giving sample material away for free, showing what the format can do, and I’ll be doing interviews with pioneers in this field. My own artists will also be there to talk about the projects we’re doing and how we’ll be building them.” Waid was also on hand for the Marvel House of Ideas panel, which went into detail on their recently announced digital and augmented reality plans.
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.
Congratulations, Dark Horse: You pretty much own my first $15 for the week, with Dark Horse Presents #8 ($7.99) and Star Wars: Dawn of The Jedi #0 ($3.50) both being my go-to new releases for the week. DHP has the new Brian Wood/Kristian Donaldson series The Massive launching, as well as more Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson and new Skeleton Key by Andi Watson, which is a pretty spectacular line-up, and the new Star Wars book coincides with the latest flare up of my irregular longing to check up on that whole universe’s goings-on. Apparently, I’m keeping it local this week, who knew?
If I had $30, I’d add Action Comics #6 (DC Comics, $3.99) and OMAC #6 (DC Comics, $2.99) to that pile — I’m particularly treasuring the latter before it goes away, although I have to admit that the time-jumping nature of these Action fill-ins has gotten me more excited than I should ‘fess up to — as well as a couple of Ed Brubaker books, Winter Soldier #1 (Marvel, $2.99) and Fatale #2 (Image Comics, $3.50). I wasn’t bowled over by Fatale‘s debut, but it intrigued me enough to want to give it another go, while the noir + super spy sales pitch for the new Marvel series pretty much guarantees my checking the first issue out at the very least.
When it comes to splurging, there is nothing I would buy – were I rich enough — more quickly than IDW’s John Romita Sr. Amazing Spider-Man Artist Edition HC ($100), because … well, it’s classic Romita as the pages originally looked on his drawing board. How anyone can resist that (other than the price point), I don’t know.
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes and first issues so that we don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “Batwoman is still awesome!” every month. And we’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.
One cool change this month and for the foreseeable future: I’m joined by Graeme McMillan who’ll also be pointing out his favorites.
Finally, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist – I admit, I tend to run hot and cold on Clowes’ output, but I’m a sucker for coffee-table career retrospectives, so the idea of taking 224 pages to look back at his career to date (with, of course, the traditional little-seen artwork and commentary) seems like a must-look at the very least. [Graeme]
Rachel Rising, Volume 1: The Shadow of Death – Terry Moore’s latest series gets its first collection and I love the premise of a woman’s waking up in a shallow grave with no memory of how she got there and needing to figure out who tried to kill to her. [Michael]
The series, produced by Zenescope Comics’ all-ages imprint Silver Dragon Books, will debut on Dec. 1 with Top 10 Deadliest Sharks, which features the type of information typically showcased in the cable network’s popular Shark Week programming. Subsequent releases will include a dinosaurs-themed title, and Animal Planet-branded books.
Diamond Comic Distributors has notified retailers served by its Los Angeles warehouse that, “due to mechanical difficulties experienced in transit,” 31 items scheduled for release on Wednesday will be delayed until next week.
The comics are:
The Amazing Spider-Man #638 (2nd printing variant)
Captain America in the 1940s Newspaper Strip #3
Dream Logic #2
The Essential Hulk, Vol. 6
The Heroic Age: Prince of Power #4
Namor: The First Mutant #1
Namor: The First Mutant #1 (Quesada sketch variant)
Namor: The First Mutant #1 (Quesada variant)
Punisher MAX: Happy Ending #1
Scarlet #1 (2nd printing-Maleev variant)
Shadowland: Moon Knight #1
Spider-Girl: The End #1
Thanos Imperative #2 (2nd printing-Sepulveda variant)
The first official day of Comic-Con International in San Diego was dominated by excitement over Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, confirmation (at last) that Joss Whedon is directing The Avengers, and nerd response to the feeble Westboro Baptist Church protest. Yet still there was plenty of comics news.
• At its “Mondo Marvel” panel, the publisher revealed the October debut of a sequel to its acclaimed Strange Tales anthology, this time featuring an impressive roster of indie/alternative creators that includes Harvey Pekar, Alex Robinson, Dash Shaw, Dean Haspiel, Jaime Hernandez, Jeff Lemire, Jeffrey Brown, Jhonen Vasquez, Jillian Tamaki, Kate Beaton, Nick Gurewitch and many more.
Zenescope is best known for horror/cheesecake combos like Grimm Fairy Tales and Return to Wonderland, but their latest property should have much wider appeal: Charmed, a comic based on the TV show about three sisters who must balance jobs, family and the demands of being the most powerful witches in the world. The show ran for eight seasons on The WB network, from 1998 to 2006, and the characters went through a number of changes during that time, including the death of one of the sisters and the appearance of a new half-sister.
Issue #1 is being launched at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend, and writers Paul Ruditis and Raven Gregory are there to do signings and a panel. I talked to them beforehand about their plans for the series.
Brigid: How did this property come to you? Did you have a prior relationship with the producers?
Paul Ruditis: For a brief time I oversaw the Charmed publishing program for the studio producing the show. Then, later on, I wrote for the licensed book line that Simon Spotlight published. When Zenescope was looking for someone to write for the series, my name came up because I had a history with the show. That’s really helpful when you’re about to take on a mythology built off eight years worth of television episodes.