SPIDER-MANDATE: The Lowe-down on "Secret Wars," Tie-Ins and Stacey Lee
Retailing | Finally breaking its silence regarding the feud with Hachette over sales terms, Amazon acknowledged it’s buying less print inventory and “safety stock” from the publisher and is no longer taking pre-orders for its titles. And while Amazon conceded that “Hachette has operated in good faith and we admire the company and its executives,” the retail giant said “we are not optimistic that this will be resolved soon.” The company also recognized the affect the dispute may have on authors, revealing it offered to fund 50 percent of an author pool to help mitigate the impact. Hachette responded, saying it was glad Amazon has admitted its actions have an effect on authors: “We will spare no effort to resume normal business relations with Amazon—which has been a great partner for years — but under terms that value appropriately for the years ahead the author’s unique role in creating books, and the publisher’s role in editing, marketing, and distributing them, at the same time that it recognizes Amazon’s importance as a retailer and innovator.” [Publishers Weekly, GalleyCat]
Hawkeye, Vol. 1, by Matt Fraction, David Aja and Javier Pulido, and Saga, Vol. 1, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, are among the 35 official selections for the 41st annual Angoulême International Comics Festival, to be held Jan. 30-Feb. 2.
Other titles familiar to North American audiences include: Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller, by Joseph Lambert; Attack on Titan, Vol. 1, by Hajime Isayama; Are You My Mother?, by Alison Bechdel; Goliath, by Tom Gauld; My Friend Dahmer, by Derf; and The Property, by Rudu Modan.
In addition, the French-language editions of Paul Pope’s Battling Boy and Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl are among the nominees for the Sélection Jeunesse (books for young readers), while the eighth volume of Scalped, by Jason Aaron, R.M. Guera, Jason Latour, David Furno, received a nod for Prix Polar (crime). The reprints category also has several books readers should recognize.
The full list can be found on the Angoulême website.
Manga | The recent move by a Japanese school board to restrict student access to Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen has resulted in a surge in sales of the book — so much so that the publishers had to increase their reprint numbers by a factor of three, bookstores are reporting shortages, and an e-book distributor expects it to make the Top 10 this month. As we noted Monday, the board has reversed its policy. [The Mainichi]
Digital comics | Marvel has updated its Marvel Unlimited app for iOS and Android, addressing the two chief user complaints by doubling the number of comics that can be downloaded and read offline from six to 12 and improving searchability by allowing users to search by publication date. [PC Magazine]
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.
If I had $15: Whoah, another tough week to narrow things down. Is every Brian Wood-written title required to come out the same week of each month? Do Dark Horse and Marvel get together and plan it that way, so that people who only buy Wood comics only have to go to the store once a month? I think more than half the DC titles I buy come out this time every month, too. So yeah, lots to pick from …
Anyway, I’d start with one of those Brian Wood comics, Conan the Barbarian #8 (Dark Horse, $3.50), which features Vasilis Lolos on art. Lolos drew one of my favorite issues of Northlanders, “The Viking Art of Single Combat,” so it’s cool to see the two of them working together again. I’d also get a comic I’m sure will be popular with a few of my colleagues, the first issue of the new Stumptown miniseries by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth (Oni Press, $3.99). Next I’d get Manhattan Projects #6 (Image, $3.50); this issue turns the focus from America’s secret science program to Russia’s secret science program. Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra are having a lot of fun with this one. Finally, I’d get Uncanny X-Force #31 (Marvel, $3.99), which really picked things up last issue … and this is a comic that’s usually running on twice as many cylinders anyway.
If I had $30, I’d also grab two finales from DC Comics — Shade #12 and Resurrection Man #0 (both $2.99). Honestly, I never expected to see a Resurrection Man comic again, much less by the guys who wrote the original, so the fact that we got a good run of 13 issues is a pleasant surprise. Shade, of course, was planned as 12 issues from the beginning, and was a nice return to the Starman-verse by writer James Robinson. That leaves me room for three more $2.99 comics, which means I’m going to bypass X-Men, The Massive and Avengers Assemble this week (let’s assume that I’ll one day spend my splurge money on the trades) and instead go with Chew #28 (Image, $2.99), It Girl and the Atomics #2 (Image, $2.99) and Demon Knights #0 (DC Comics, $2.99).
Splurge: Assuming I wouldn’t spend my unlimited gift card on single issues, I’d be looking at the first Bucko collection from Dark Horse ($19.99) and Fantagraphics’ Is That All There Is? trade ($25).
I wasn’t very familiar with Ben Hatke‘s work before I met him in 2010 at the Small Press Expo, apart from reading his contribution to the second Flight anthology. So I was pleasantly taken by surprise at how charming his debut graphic novel, the all-ages Zita the Spacegirl, is. The book, about a young girl who is inadvertently transported to another galaxy full of strange and fearsome aliens, adheres closely in style to many well-worn fantasy adventure comics. But it manages to stand out from the pack with a cast of broad, engaging characters, an appealing heroine, and some smartly (and tightly) paced actions scenes.
Now Hatke has a sequel, Legends of Zita the Spacegirl, which finds the pint-sized interplanetary traveler struggling to cope with her new-found celebrity, and encountering a would-be impostor who’s more than happy to taker her place.
I talked with Hatke about the new Zita book, how he became a cartoonist, and his goals for the series.
Awards | Two titles from First Second won the graphic novel categories in the 2011 Cybils Awards, literary honors given by bloggers who write about children’s and young-adult books: Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl received the graphic novel prize in the Elementary & Middle School category, while Vera Brosgol’s Anya’s Ghost won in the Young Adult division. [Cybils]
Digital | With the Vita on the way, Sony is shutting down its PSP comics service, and users will lose their comics come September. [Gameranx]
Graphic novels | Craig Thompson’s Blankets made Oprah’s list of the eight greatest love stories of all time, taking its place alongside Brokeback Mountain and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. [Oprah.com]
Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl won’t be out in print until February, but there’s no need to wait: MTV Geek has posted the first four chapters online, for free, using comiXology’s web reader. Zita the Spacegirl is a cute all-ages comic about a girl who travels to another planet to rescue a friend who has been snatched away. If you want to know more, check out Charles Webb and Eddie Wright’s interview with Hatke, also at MTV Geek.
Reading the actual comic presents a challenge, though. You would think a swell outfit like MTV Geek would be able to pay someone to put in links to related posts, or at least use tags, but you’d be wrong. There is no pointer from chapter 1 to chapter 2, and forget about using their search engine—it just churns up an identical list of useless results. It’s a shame: This is a great way to show off a new comic, and get it in front of a lot of new readers, but it looks like no one gave much thought to the problem of leading people from one chapter to the next. I did eventually find the links using Google, but if someone has to use Google to navigate your site, that’s a major failure.
Of course, there may be some blindingly obvious link that I’m just missing (the page is busy, and filled with animated ads), but I have had most of my coffee and I’m still stumped. Anyway, now that we have done the work for you, go ahead and read the comic! And here’s a bonus link: Zita started out as a webcomic, and you can read a couple of episodes at Hatke’s website.