Owen at the Center for Cartoon Studies

[James Owen sent us a nice piece on his trip to the Center for Cartoon Studies, which we’re posting.]


A tale of small townships; or, how a revolution started when no one expected it, in places no one was watching, armed with nothing more than words, pictures, and lines on paper

A Note from the Periphery by James A. Owen

I don’t think revolutions can be planned. But they’re not accidental, either. Revolutions, more than anything, seem to arise from convergences of events, and trends, and cultural shifts that make the end result something both unplanned and yet, inevitable to everyone except Isaac Asimov by way of Hari Seldon.

Similarly, the personages at the forefront of any given revolution probably didn’t choose to be there — at least, not for the purpose of leading a revolution. More likely, they were just doing what they do, and happened to step into the intersecting cultural ley-lines at the right moment in history. And that’s when things began to shift.

[Read more…]

Marvel’s economics

200611061255Marvel released their quarterly economic indicators, today led by a drop in profits, but a rise in guidance.

Marvel Entertainment Inc,, which licenses comic book characters such as Spider-Man, on Monday said quarterly profit fell 44 percent as higher costs outstripped solid comic book sales. Net income fell to $13.2 million, or 16 cents a share, from $23.4 million, or 23 cents a share, a year earlier. Total net sales rose to $92.2 million from $81.1 million, helped by strength in toys and publishing. The company’s shares rose 6.9 percent, or $1.73, to $26.78 on the New York Stock Exchange, after the earnings report, which also forecast higher earnings for 2007. Marvel forecast earnings per share for 2007 of $1.35 to $1.55, up from the 97 cents it earned in 2005. It said sales would likely run between $375 million and $435 million for the year, compared with $391 million in 2005.

Marvel stock has been a strong performer since the last quarter, which had news generally described as gloomy. Motley Fool, which has been a huge supporter of the stock since 2002, pegged the generally favorable outlook on the company publishing performance:

Purists may cheer, since this turned out to be the rare quarter in which the company’s flagship publishing business produced more revenue than its licensing workhorse. In fact, it was the only part of the company to muster improvement in operating income, as licensing and toys slipped for the quarter.

Don’t let the lulls dissuade you. This was supposed to be a transitory year. Next year, Sony(NYSE: SNE) will be putting out Ghost Rider and the can’t-miss Spider-Man 3. News Corp.’s (NYSE: NWS) 20th Century Fox will also be back to the Marvel film-licensing till when the Fantastic Four sequel, Rise of the Silver Surfer, gets the big-screen treatment. We’re also at the start of a five-year toy licensing deal with Hasbro(NYSE: HAS) that should help expand Marvel’s global toy shelf reach.

So even if it’s encouraging to see Marvel raise its 2006 outlook — calling for earnings to clock in between $0.61 to $0.64 per diluted share over its initial guidance of $0.50 to $0.60 a share — the real meat to Marvel’s report is its rather robust net income targets for 2007.

Looking at Marvel’s press release, publishing sales were up $5 mil for the quarter, and they forecast continued “modest” growth.

In other Marvel announcements, a June 27, 2008 date was announced for the Louis Leterrier-directed HULK 2 movie, and Sega announced plans to develop Iron Man in the video game realm. Marvelheld an earnings call this morning, but its Mac-unfriendly format means we’ll have to listen to it at a later date.

Cartooners winning awards: Jean, Cho

James Jean has won the Best Artist award at the World Fantasy Con. You can see the complete list of winners and nominees here.

Lifetime Achievement:
John Crowley
Stephen Fabian

Novel: Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore (Harvill; Knopf)
Novella: Joe Hill, Voluntary Committal (Subterranean Press)
Short Fiction: George Saunders, “CommComm” (The New Yorker, 08/01, 2005)
Anthology: The Fair Folk ed. Marvin Kaye (Science Fiction Book Club)
Collection: Bruce Holland Rogers, The Keyhole Opera (Wheatland Press)
Artist: James Jean
Special Award: Professional: Sean Wallace (for Prime Books)
Special Award: Non-Professional: David Howe and Stephen Walker (for Telos Books)

MEANWHILE, Frank Cho won two Awards at the Gijon International Comics Convention:

Award winning writer-artist, Frank Cho, best known as creator of Liberty Meadows, and artist for the upcoming Mighty Avengers, was recognized for his achievements when he won two awards at Gijón International Comic Salon in Spain on October 14, 2006. Cho was recognized by the international comic community by winning the prestigious Haxtur awards at Gijón’s International Comic Convention in Spain.

Cho was nominated in four categories: Best Artist, Best Humor, Best Cover Artist and Best In Show. Frank Cho won Best Artist and Best In Show for his work on Liberty Meadows for Image Comics and Shanna the She-Devil for Marvel Entertainment.

Haxtur award is one of the most honored comic awards in Europe. Haxtur award is named after the famous comic character created by the legendary comic artist, Victor de La Fuente. Haxtur award ceremony is held every year at International Comics Salon of the Principality of Asturia in Gijón, Spain.

The convention was attended by world renowned authors among them the co-creator of the History Of Violence, Vincent Locke, creator of Hate, Peter Bagge, and Gilbert Shelton, the creator of Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, who participate in exhibitions, drawings, signings and panel discussions. “I’m pretty excited about this award and attending the El Wendigo-sponsored convention. It’s a great opportunity to meet and interact with fans, sign autographs and forge friendships with colleagues,” Cho said. “I was delighted by the Gijón International Comic Salon and its exhibition that promotes key themes in the industry today as well as exposure to some of the freshest ideas and most exciting new storylines,” Cho said.

More PRe in the link.

MoCCA: tables selling quickly

We received a pr note about how to get a table for next year’s MoCCA Fest here in New York, but we’re also informed that only 4 months after the last show, tables are already half gone — according to Ken Wong, “We put the MAF’07 applications up on the MoCCA website without much fanfare last week and started accepting them on November 1st. I began processing them today and when I finished up about an hour or so ago, I was astounded to find that 86 of our 160 tables were already spoken for!”
So if you’re thinking of exhibiting…better get going on that.

Exhibitor Applications & Guidelines for the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art’s 2007 MoCCA Art Festival are now available for download on the museum’s website. (http://www.moccany.org).

The 2007 MoCCA Art Festival will take place the weekend of June 23-24 at the historic Puck Building (295 Lafayette Street at Houston) in downtown Manhattan’s famed SoHo arts district. The festival will be open to the public from 11:00am to 6:00pm both days. Admission starts at $8/day or $10/weekend but is only $5/weekend for MoCCA members.

The MoCCA Art Festival, held each June since 2002, annually brings together cartoon and comics artists, writers, publishers, collectors and more by the thousands — from the hardcore enthusiasts to the merely curious – to see and peruse a wide range of contemporary comics, cartoons, graphic novels and animations. The festival also presents a full two-day slate of interesting and informative lecture/discussion panels featuring artists, publishers, scholars and other experts.

Quick SNAP! report:

Tom Williams reports on his SNAP! briefly:

Another SNAP! has come and gone. Turn out was a bit slow this year. Maybe due to the upcoming election. I did manage to make the money back on my table but not the same as I did the year previous. Maybe (like SPACE this year) it was a ill timed. Didn’t have a camera on me so I drew some folks.

I’m exhausted. Running on 4 1/2 hours of sleep: it’s time to crash. I sat inbetween Eric Adams and David Beyer. Met the lovely Rosemary Van Deuren at the show who’s work definitely snapped me out of my late night fog. (uhh that links not work-friendly if you get my meaning) Ate half of Poland. Man, how much cabbage can one eat? Thanks to everyone who came out. It’s all kind of a blur right now.

More in link. Another slow indie show after last weekend’s STUMPTOWN…are indie comics fans spenin all their money in book stores now, or is it a matter of material that isn’t appealing? Developing.

Wonder Woman Day a success

Andy Mangels send word that the Wonder Woman Day of charity went very well, raising more than $15,000 to fund two women’s shelters.

America’s most famous super-heroine was the star at the first-ever “Wonder Woman Day” event at Excalibur Comics in Portland on October 29th. The free all-ages event, organized by best-selling author Andy Mangels, included a trio of comic book artists signing Wonder Woman comics, as well as a silent art auction with over 100 of the world’s top artists contributing original art, plus raffles, costumes, rare memorabilia, and more. In the aftermath of the event, the total amount raised was determined, with 100% of all monies going to two of Portland’s most protective women and children’s shelters — Raphael House and Bradley-Angel House. The total raised was $15,405.33!

Jessica Elkin, Director of Development of Raphael House of Portland notes that the charity, “Andy Mangels and his event ‘Wonder Woman Day’ at Excalibur Comics made a critical difference in the lives of thousands of women and children in this community fleeing domestic violence. Every year Raphael House of Portland serves 350 women and children, because of the support of ‘Wonder Woman Day,’ the dedication of Mr. Mangels and the generous contributions of participating artists throughout the world we are able to serve 70 people in our emergency domestic violence shelter!”

Continuing, Elkin says, “Mr. Mangels utilized and embraced the power of the most famous super-heroine of our time to inspire and educate comic book lovers and those dedicated to eradicating domestic violence. It is hard to know what kind of difference Wonder Woman has made in the last fifty years, but today, Andy Mangels and all the artists and companies who contributed have collectively made a difference in the lives of thousands in this community.”

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16 animated films eligible for Oscar

The list of animated films eligible for the Best Animated Film Oscar has been released, and 16 films are potential nominees:

The list includes lots of movies with talking critters: Disney’s “The Wild,” DreamWorks Animation’s “Flushed Away” and “Over the Hedge,” Paramount Pictures’ “Barnyard,” Sony Pictures’ “Open Season,” Warner Bros. Pictures’ “The Ant Bully” and “Happy Feet” and 20th Century Fox’s “Ice Age: The Meltdown.”

>Other titles that made the cut include Disney and Pixar Animation’s “Cars,” Fox’s “Everyone’s Hero,” Sony’s “Monster House” and Universal’s “Curious George” as well as Warner Independent Pictures’ indie offering “A Scanner Darkly.”

Several films from abroad also qualified: Director Luc Besson’s “Arthur and the Invisibles,” set for release from the Weinstein Co. and MGM; Satoshi Kon’s “Paprika,” from Sony Pictures Classics; and Christian Volckman’s “Renaissance,” from Miramax Films.

That’s a lot of movies; more importantly, it’s a lot of CRAPPY movies, don’t you think?

Sin City 2 off?

Here’s a hot, unverified rumor: BIG TIME SALT ALERT! According to new scoopee film ick Sin City 2 may n not be moving along too smoothly:

Sin City 2 has been postponed indefinitely and insiders close to the project suggest it may not go ahead at all, at any time.

Rumours have begun surfacing that Angelina Jolie is pregnant again (possibly all spawned by the issue of Star magazine that is pictured above), and indeed this may be a contributing factor. Apparently, Robert Rodriguez was holding off for her, wishing to cast her in the key role of Ava Lord, the ‘Dame to Kill For’. Supposing she has recently let the production know that she won’t be available, the sudden shut down seems like quite a logical course of action, at least to regroup and consider the next move.

Okay, a pregnant Ava wouldn’t work. But Ick hints that a personality conflict is growing as well:

Other tattletales suggest that Rodriguez has just grown tired of the whole Sin City thing, or more pointedly, has suffered so many disagreements with Frank Miller – who can reputedly be rather arrogant about and controlling of his creation – that Sin City isn’t anywhere he wants to visit again. Is it possible that Rodriquez will extricate himself from the production and eventually, a second Sin City movie will be direct by Frank Miller alone?

I’m told that some of the cast, still believing the project is a go, have been speaking to Frank recently… but not Robert. Simply because Robert is busy with Grind House? Or could there be a little more to it?

There’s a differently worded take on the postponement here. Once again, this is all rumor. But let’s keep an eye out, shall we?

Linkage 11/5

§ Naniwa has thoughts on Kurt Hassler’s move at MangaCast:

Kurt Hassler’s decisions over the last few years set a tone for book stores across the US as manga began to expand from its traditions mainly in comic shops. There was a time before TP blew up where shonen, seinen and ero-manga was practically all you could find in the recesses of a handful of comic shops across this land. Eventually a manga revolution took hold and with it came shojo and OEL along with the many other pieces of the manga market. Shelf space in Borders grew with the start of the TOKYOPOP led Manga Revolution but the floodgates seemed to have been controlled since then. And over the last few years despite lack of growth on the floors, the number of books and types of books expanded greatly. Certain books could not be shelved no matter what. Eventually certain unwritten rules were devised – parental advisory notices, shrink-wrapping, etc. Issues with editing, with placement and the such were topics of conversation I have had with people across the board stemming from Border’s clout. So even though most manga readers have very little connection with the distribution aspect of manga, as the market began to expand, taking in more books outside of Japan and even outside of sequential art, what Hassler would or would not buy became a serious deal.

(We talked to several people over the weekend about Hassler’s move, and the consensus is that it will have a very big effect indeed — opinion was entirely evenly divaded as to whether the effect will be for better or worse.)

UPDATED: More Hassler links at Precocious Curmudgeon.

§ Advertising Age looks at the burgeoning world of webcomics, vis a vis SHOOTING WAR:

The growing mandate to create culture-spanning content and a new generation for whom video games will replace “traditional” reading means the cheap, accessible comic is set to become a bigger player, offline and online.

The burgeoning online comics world produced a bona fide sensation recently with “Shooting War,” a graphic serial with a most topical, if uneasy, storyline: the war in Iraq and the war on terror.

§ The Chicago Tribunelooks at contemporary war comics:

Visions of mutilated dead soldiers appear to a young recruit in boot camp. Bombs rain down on Baghdad, setting loose its zoo’s inhabitants. Or — most chilling of all — two hijacked passenger planes explode into their twin targets one fateful September morning, announcing a frightening new world order to a heretofore ignorant citizenry.

Each of these stunning visuals can be found on bookshelves and spinner racks this autumn, as graphic novels and comic books rediscover the power of war stories. “The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation” (published by Hill and Wang) led the pack in September, translating the bipartisan 9/11 Commission’s text into 128 illustrated pages. Soon thereafter, Vertigo Comics released two powerful works: “Pride of Baghdad” is a gorgeous graphic novel that traces the fate of four lions in Iraq’s capital after a U.S. bombing raid frees them from their cages; and “The Other Side,” a five-issue monthly miniseries (the second issue comes out Nov. 1), takes an unconventional look at another controversial conflict, the Vietnam War.

§ Sexy fantasy heroines not welcome here.One brave Canadian’s quest to buy LOST GIRLS (which is banned in Canadan, pending a the outcome of a Customs dispute.)

Ordinarily, comic books sex = one happy 12-year-old. Lately in Toronto, however, it’s also meant controversy, backpedalling, and more than a bit of legal trouble.

The comic book (ahem, “graphic novel”) in question is called Lost Girls, and it’s the latest work by a writer whom many consider to be the finest in the field: Alan Moore. He gave us Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and many other brilliant works of comic art that have been butchered into piss-poor Hollywood movies.

Comics shop owner stops would-be robber dead

The owner of Westlake Comics Cards and Coins in Illionois fatally shot an alleged robber, numerous news sources reported over the weekend:

The owner of a Roselle card, comics and coin shop shot and killed a convicted robber Friday in what authorities said was a justifiable use of force.

In the gunfight at Westlake Coins, Cards and Comics in the 1200 block of West Lake Street, the 49-year-old proprietor, who lives in Hanover Park, was shot once in the arm, DuPage County State’s Atty. Joseph Birkett said at a news conference. He was treated at Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village and released.

The alleged robber, a 40-year-old man on parole for a 1994 armed robbery, was shot multiple times, including once in the head, Birkett said. He was not identified. An autopsy was scheduled for Saturday.

The owner will not be charged, since all the evidence — including a security camera tape — showed that it appeared to be justifiable force. Although the Chicago Trib story says the store had never been robbed before, this from the website seems to indicate that a robbery had taken place four eyars ago:

$5,000 REWARD! There is a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the burglary of Westlake Cards, Comics and Coins, Inc on the evening/morning of June 26th/27th, 2002; as well as the recovery of the goods stolen during that burglary.