Takehiko Inoue interview, Part 2

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In the world of manga, Takehiko Inoue is a mega-superstar. His basketball manga SLAM DUNK was so successful it made he sport itself more popular in Japan. It’s sold over 100 million copies worldwide and has been voted the #1 all-time manga. VAGABOND, telling the legend of swordman Miyamoto Musashi has also been a smash hit. He’s even been listed among Japan’s top tax-payers.

Mangaka of his level rarely come to America and it’s even more rare for them to do press with American outlets (or usually, any press at all.) Thus when Inoue-sensei came to New York to paint a mural for the new Kinokuniya Books on 6th Avenue, and Viz made him available for interviews, it was a singular chance to talk to one of the world’s most successful cartoonsits. This opportuniy was so unusual that The Beat decided to team up with PW Comics Week’s Kai-Ming Cha for a tag team interview! You can read the first part of the interview here.

The occasion was also to announce the launch of a major initiative to publish Inoue’s work here in the states. SLAM DUNK will soon appear in tankubon format; VAGABOND has finished its 25 book run, but will have a new omnibus edition next year; and Viz has announced an American edition of REAL, a manga about wheelchair basketball players.

Inoue’s website even has a section in English where you can read his blog (his latest posting takis about his trip to New York), and the complete run of BUZZER BEATER, another basketball comic, is also online.

Img 0195The interview time was brief, and due to the constraints of translation, the interview itself is short, but Inoue-sensei was very engaged and engaging, and the entire event definitely opened doors — both ways.

PWCW: You’ve also done work for Shiseido cosmetics – commercials where you paint large scale pictures on huge swaths of paper.  Can you talk about your development as an artist?  How did you go from drawing for something so compact like a comic, to something so large like in the Shiseido commercials?

Takehiko Inoue: I’m an artist so it’s basically the same.  It’s all drawing.  But when it’s so large scale like in the Shiseido commercials, it’s like a sport.  I have to think ‘how do I move this brush to draw a straight line?’  It becomes more physical.

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Superheroes hanging with a fast crowd

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Okay we have NO idea what this Lindsay Lohan-meets-Superheroes photo shoot is for, but the pics are all over the blogtabs, and they are too good to pass up. Of couse, what with Spider-man’s marriage breaking up recently, there could be even more to this than meets the eye. Or perhaps the troubled starlet has found her knight in shining purple pants!
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Gunslinger defeats Naruto in heated battle!

dark towerVia Marvel PR:

The sensation that swept the comic market is taking book readers by storm as Marvel is proud to announce that Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born Premiere HC has topped the Bookscan national sales chart! In addition to being the #1 hardcover graphic novel across all major online retailers—Amazon.Com, BN.Com, Borders.Com, Target.Com, Dark Tower has topped the Graphic Novel chart on Bookscan, and made the top 25 of all fiction hardcovers!

In addition to conquering sales-charts, Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born Premiere HC is also making all of the Holiday Gift Guides across the nation. Ain’t It Cool News, Washington Times, and Yahoo.com have all chosen the collection as a must-have, in addition to Amazon.com naming it the #1 Editor’s pick of 2007.

Collecting all seven issues of the top-selling Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born limited series, this hardcover explores the past of Roland Deschain, hero of Stephen King’s epic Dark Tower novels. Written by New York Times best-selling author Peter David and Dark Tower expert Robin Furth, visualized stunningly by Jae Lee & Richard Isanove and overseen by the watchful eyes of Stephen King—this graphic novel is a must-have for Dark Tower fans new and old!

Critically-acclaimed comic book creator Paul Pope writes in PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY, “The Gunslinger Born is the perfect starting point for those who think comics contain nothing but men in spandex costumes and masks”

CrossGen– what might have been

200712050236Our recap of the Z-Cult affair for PWCW yesterday had this quote from Todd Allen:

“There is a very real possibility that torrents, effectively advertising in this case, have been a factor in sales spikes. People will want a physical copy of an inherent physical product. Crossgen did the research on this 5 years ago and went under before they had a chance to properly implement that research.”

CrossGen! There’s a blast from the past. Their “all freelancers will work in the same office” set-up drew constant Jonestown jokes, but they were ahead of the curve on a lot of things, like the downloadable comics model initiative to post their comics to the web, which they called, amazingly, “Comics on the Web”. In fact someone sent us this link at an article from 2002 on how their implementation of comics downloads had an immediate impact on sales:

Less than 30 days after the launch of CrossGen’s Comics on the Web, retail sales of CrossGen’s comics and trade paperbacks are taking an upward turn, with much of it taking place the week after the launch of Comics on the Web, according to recent sales statistics.

According to figures from Diamond Comic Distributors, first week advance reorders for The Path taken the week after the entire issue was posted for free on CrossGen’s Comics on the Web increased by 54 percent over the level taken for CrossGen’s Sojourn Prequel, which was not posted online prior to its release. In addition, the second week reorders, which typically drop by 50 percent after the comic’s release, actually increased by 23 percent for The Path Prequel. Also, advance reorders for The Path #1, still two weeks from being released, rose by 45 percent in the first week after The Path Prequel’s release, and then another 45 percent on top of that the following week, further bucking the trends for low advance reorders before a book is released.

While this still wasn’t enough to save the company’s ambitious, expensive and fondly remembered by some line of comics, it’s still as close as anyone has come to documenting the effect of making issues available for free download online sampling.

As long as we’re talking about Crossgen, we’ll remind everyone that Checker Books is reprinting a lot of their graphic novels, under a license from Disney.

More Comics and Games Retailer memories

The other day we mentioned the cancellation of the retailer giveaway mag COMICS & GAMES RETAILERS. Former editor John Jackson Miller has his own reminiscences.

The news that Comics & Games Retailer is heading online after 190+ issues in print is circulating — bittersweet news to receive as a longtime editor of that publication, but something that, as an outsider, I’ve expected since editor James Mishler departed this past summer. The truth is, in one way or another, similar repositionings to deal with the realities of the markets it served were a part of every single year for the publication. Producing a free magazine for shop owners for more than a decade and a half required a readiness to adapt the product to follow opportunities, wherever they happened to lead.

It’s an interesting look back at the dark days of comics, when branching out into games, collectible card games and other media was sometimes the only way for retailers — and the magazines that served them — to survive.

Johnny Ryan’s HORRORSHOW

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We’re not the worlds biggest Johnny Ryan fans, but these horror character paintings are neat. They’re available at Secret Headquarters.

Featuring almost FIFTY brand new paintings inspired by a variety of whacked-out horror, cult and exploitation films. Please call 323-666-2228 or e-mail [email protected] for purchasing info.

Bon Voyage, Ivan and Kristyn!

Ivan Brandon and Kristyn Ferretti (24/seven) are leaving for a four month tour of South America today. We wish them safe travels and remind them they had better blog the hell out of this trip!

Kristyn’s blog is here. Ivan will doubtless be updating his Image message board. Ivan and Kristyn are two good peeps, and we’ll miss them. At their going away party last week, two other friends announced they had bought a house out of state and others were talking about moving. *Sigh* It’s going to be a long, cold winter.

This big story, is whether this trip abroad will be the one thing to stop the rampage of Ivan’s zombie army on Facebook!

UPDATE: Here’s Ivan’s blog of the trip.

Kibbles ‘n’ bits 12/5

§ We forgot to link to the Annie Award nominations. RATATOUILLE comes in with the most noms. MOREL OREL got several TV nods.

§ Speaking of animation, Cracked magazine is still around online and presents The 9 Most Racist Disney Characters. [h/t Cartoon Brew]

§ The parade of year end reveiws begins with COMIXTALK’s look back at the big stores of ’07.

§ Maggie Thompson and Carolyn Kelly visit the OSU cartoons archives and help catalog it. With pictures.

§ Steve Lieber and Sara Ryan find old comics. With pictures.

§ Abby Denson has restarted her blog.

New Iron Man pic

As superhero movies go, this is looking promising.

Donald Duck to testify?

An Italian court has named Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Tweety and Mickey Mouse as witnesses in a counterfeiting trial .

The court summons cites Titti, Paperino, Paperina, Topolino — the Italian names for the characters — as damaged parties in the criminal trial of a Chinese man accused of counterfeiting products of Disney and Warner Bros.

While the story summons jokes of all levels– “I didn’t say she was crazy, your honor, I said she was fuckin’ Goofy!”–alas, it is just a clerical error. Instead of writing down the companies as witnesses, a clerk wrote down the names of the characters. That is fortunate, because it is unlikely Disney would have allowed Mickey and Donald to be extradited for the trial.

Hulk To-Do List

Todd Alcott finds the Hulk’s post-it.