At Gearlog, Brian Heater demonstrates the dangerous, growing threat of the Kindle, as he easily uses the “import .pdf” function to load WATCHMEN, X-MEN, and even Jimmy Corrigan into the device.
Something must be done…and fast!!!
Last week’s inauguration of a “graphic books” best seller list from the august New York Times drew much response, naturally. ICv2 answered the burning, itching question of why “graphic books,” when men commonly call them comics:
We asked the Times why it’s calling the books its ranking “graphic books,” rather than “graphic novels,” and heard back from Bestseller List Editor Deborah Hofmann. “We decided to call these Graphic Books in order to begin our endeavor with the elbow room to evolve,” she said. There are graphic memoirs, graphic diaries, nonfiction as well as fiction — and legions of new forms of this collaborative media that combine art with text. “We felt that Books made it clear to readers that our intent is to be inclusive and expansive. These rankings will grow, as we see more of the sorts of migrations you described at the [ICv2 Conference] — adaptations from other name brand bestselling authors, and so forth. Sci-Fi, Romance, procedurals, and many others, over time.
SLJ’s Good Comics for Kids blog has a roundtable discussion on What It Means:
I’m now curious to see how this affects what I see in the library. Are my patrons going to be coming in and requesting MPD-Psycho in droves, as they do with the other bestsellers lists? If that doesn’t happen right away, how long will it take to start happening?
Anticipation that the phrase “New York Times Best Seller!” will be a selling point was echoed in a Marvel press release.
Brigid Alverson reflects some of the surprise at the first listings:
The real head-scratcher, though, is the two books that aren’t Naruto: vol. 8 of MPD-Psycho and vol. 11 of Eden. Both books carry an 18+ rating and come shrink-wrapped, which means that bookstores are less likely to carry them and the potential audience is somewhat limited. The direct market is the logical home for these books, but according to Diamond’s numbers, the last volume of MPD-Psycho, which was released in mid-December, sold fewer than 2,000 copies through them. The last volume of Eden didn’t chart at all in May or June 2008, which means it must have sold fewer than about 1,100 copies. Even Nana does better than that, and we all know the DM is a boys’ club. By contrast, volumes of Naruto sell in the 5,000-copy range in the direct market and probably do much better in chain bookstores (BookScan doesn’t make public the number of copies sold, so it’s hard to tell).
But perhaps the happiest reaction to the new lists was a Twitter from DC editor Jann Jones, fiancée of STARMAN’s James Robinson:
Who has two thumbs and is engaged to a NYT best selling writer? This gal….
TOKYO, a new triptych film directed by Michel Gondry, opened on Friday, and one of the segments is an adaptation of Gabrielle Bell’s comic book, CECIL AND JORDAN IN NEW YORK, in which a girl turns into a chair. NY Mag interviewed Gondry about the film, and he had much to say about it…and Bell:
Gabrielle actually did a comic book of Repulsion, so it’s part of her universe. It’s funny that you ask, because I think there’s a connection between Gabrielle and this Repulsion character. [Editor’s note: The heroine in Polanski’s film ends up killing a man.] Once I went to see a therapist with Gabrielle, and she was talking and talking and talking, and the therapist said, “Gabrielle, did you ever think of trying to kill yourself?” And Gabrielle said, “No.” And I said, “Ask her if she’s ever thought of killing somebody else — ME!” [Laughs.] When you work with Gabrielle, you never know what will happen.
OKAY, now with WATCHMEN promos finally done, let’s move to the NEXT beloved classic comic movie, shall we? And what better candidate than…TINTIN! Tatiana Siegel at Variety has the first detailed article on movie production. With Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson co-directing, it certainly has a pedigree. According to the article, Spielberg has finished up about a month (!) of performance-capture filming…now Jackson will spend 18 months doing the special effects and CGI. Secrecy surrounds the project, but it sounds…captivating:
Spielberg’s longtime spokesman Marvin Levy, who welcomed a story on “The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn,” said, “You have to see it to understand (the technology). It really can’t be described.”
But he quickly nixed the idea of a visit to the set. “That wouldn’t be feasible,” he says.
The film’s other producer, Kathleen Kennedy, is happy to talk about “Tintin,” but admitted the world Spielberg and Jackson are creating is hard to describe.
“It’s extremely difficult to explain to someone unless they are standing here next to me,” Kennedy says from the Los Angeles set. “And usually then their reaction is, ‘Oh my god.’ “
Much more info in the piece.
Rod Gilchrist, executive director of San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum, died of brain cancer at age 58 on February 26th. The SF Chronicle has a full obituary up, explaining how he kept the museum going through boom and bust periods for comics and real estate. According to an email announcement by Andrew Farago:
In lieu of flowers, Rod’s family has suggested that you please send donations in his memory to the Cartoon Art Museum or Portola Family Connections.
A public memorial service will be held at the Cartoon Art Museum on Friday, March 20, beginning at 7pm. Please e-mail Andrew Farago through Facebook or at [email protected] for more information.
John Carbonaro, a longtime fan-turned publisher when he purchased the rights to the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, passed away at age 58 on February 25th, as reported by long time friend Robert J. Sodaro. Carbonaro purchsed the former Tower characters in 1981, and a rather long and convoluted rights battle with various entities prevented too much from being done with them subsequently. DC had planned a revival of the characters in the early 2000’s, but Carbonaro withdrew approval; however, DC did publish six Archive Editions of the original material.
Mark Evanier has some more remembrances.
According to Sodaro, Carbonaro did assign the rights to the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents to an heir, so we may still see them again one day.
§ Today’s MUST READ: Christopher Borrelli at the Chicago Trib has a fantastic profile of Lynda Barry. Matt Groening, Chris Ware, and Ivan Brunetti all sing her praises, colorful thoughts and anecdotes are recounted, and lots of players and history are revealed:
I ask if she liked “Peanuts.” She says she appreciates it now, but hated it at the time—too melancholy for a sad child. She liked “Family Circus”—”You know how everything’s in a circle? I wanted to reach into it.” She recently met Jeff Keane, the son of “Family Circus” creator Bil Keane. She says she touched his hand and burst into tears.
Matt Groening says he tried to get Barry to go Hollywood in the ’80s. “I said to Lynda, ‘Let’s write a romantic comedy,’ and she agreed.” A pitch meeting followed at a Los Angeles movie studio. Groening remembers walking into the executive’s enormous office, where Barry immediately moved toward a cagelike sculpture in the corner and stood inside it.
§ Johanna Draper Carlson looks at Archie sales figures for 2008:
It’s that time of year again. Due to the way they mail subscriptions, Archie Comics are required to file Statements of Ownership, Management, and Circulation in their publications. So I collect the figures to see how an often-overlooked comic franchise is doing.
§ And Noah Berlatsky DID NOT LIKE old POWER MAN comics:
And lord, the art is horrible. I’ve argued at various points in the past that mainstream comics art has dropped off a cliff in recent years; this volume seems designed to make me eat my words. Frank Robbins and Lee Elias are the main artists in the run, and there’s just nothing to like about either of them. Bizarrely distorted faces, awkward poses, an utter lack of style or design sense; it’s just page after page of ugly, mediocre dreck. A few of the fill-in artists (Sal Buscema, Bob Brown) are somewhat better, but none of the drawing is what you’d call enjoyable until John Byrne (with Chris Claremont in tow) comes in for the last two issues. Not that John Byrne is my favorite artist or anything, but in comparison — well, this volume makes quite clear why he was hailed in some quarters as a demi-god.
Those Essentials are a double-edged sword, I tells ya.
We can’t be the only people who detest the first week of Daylight Savings Time? Not for political reasons, but just because? Admittedly, the extra daylight is a boon, marking the end of the Seasonal Affective Disorder Season and the coming of Spring Coat Season and eventually Rooftop Sangria Season.
And what about that Corky? Will he be eaten by the giant monster octopus? A “thrilling 3-part novel”? Would that be what we now call a “graphic book”?
As expected, WATCHMEN easily stood atop the weekend box office with $55.7 million:
Warner Bros.’ edgy superhero pic “Watchmen” grossed an estimated $55.7 million from 3,611 theaters in its domestic B.O. debut, coming in lower than expected but still scoring the best opening of the year and one of the best showings ever for an R-rated film. “Watchmen” placed No. 1 in North America as well as tops overseas, where it was the first major day-and-date release of 2009. Film grossed an estimated $27.5 million from 5,097 theaters internationally for a worldwide total of $83.2 million. Paramount is distributing abroad.
However, the opening take lags behind300’s bow, and opinions over whether the movie is a solid hit or a disappointing hit, whether it has legs, and whether it will do well overseas remain divided, even as WB execs remain optimistic:
The studio is even optimistic about attracting moviegoers from outside Watchmen’s sweet spot of males ages 17-to-34. I’m told it’s solid across all demos, and even doing well with females. That may be due to Warner Bros’ $50 million marketing budget for the movie — about average for a tentpole these days. The studio invested in a very aggressive campaign that spent big in the outdoor market and on TV advertising. But what’s amusing is that rival marketing gurus say they’re surprised and impressed by the campaign that’s also left them confused what the movie is about or even who the good guys or bad guys are and why. As one of them admired: “The campaign was about planting a big flag in the ground as if to say, ‘We are an event. And if you don’t understand that, then you’re not cool enough to get it’. “
Bonus links: Jog’s review for ComiXology.
And a review with screenwriter David Hayter:
Although Snyder and screenwriter Alex Tse (the TV movie “Sucker Free City”) made numerous changes to Snyder’s “Watchmen” script, his contributions were significant, and he shares screenplay credit with Tse on the finished film. “I put more work into this film than anything I have ever done,” says Hayter, who has writing credits on “X-Men” and its sequel “X2.” But the 40-year-old writer thinks that over the six years he was involved in the movie, “Watchmen” only has grown more topical. “What these intervening years did is remind us how fragile the world is,” Hayter says. “The movie is all about moral certitude and the various costs of moral certitude.” Unchecked power, Hayter says, has rarely been as much of an issue: “How do we know that people making all of the decisions are not woefully human, which is what they are?”
Bonus Bonus: A report from a fun looking WATCHMEN-inspired art exhibit at Meltdown in LA; above, a Hostess parody by Elan Trinidad.
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