Marvel Month-to-Month Sales: August 2010

Overall, direct market sales for August were substantially down, prompting a bit of handwringing online. And it’s true that no title even came close to reaching the 100,000 mark (for only the third time since Diamond achieved their monopoly of the direct market).

It’s not so much that sales on individual titles suddenly lurched down in August. They’ve been dropping for a while, and the comparisons with one or two years ago make fairly grim reading at the moment (though bear in mind they don’t show books being cancelled and replaced by higher-selling new launches).

Rather, it’s a month without any really big releases from either company. Marvel’s major launch was a new NAMOR series, which lands just outside the top 40, while the biggest story events were the X-Men/vampires affair and the Daredevil-centred SHADOWLAND.

As usual, Marvel had the largest share of the direct market, leading DC by 45% to 32% in terms of units, and 41% to 28% in dollars.

Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize established

Anyone setting eyes on the Library of America’s gorgeous new Lynd Ward boxed set will immediately add it to the Christmas wish list. (It’s the first time a graphic novel has been added to the list on classic works.) But the pioneering graphic novelist is getting a new honor — Penn State is naming an award after him, The Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize (also the Lynd Ward Prize for the Best Graphic Novel of the Year). Ward’s daughters donated a collection of his wood engravings, original book illustrations, and other graphic art donated to the Penn State University Libraries, establishing an association. The prize of $2500 will be announced each spring and be presented to the best graphic novel, fiction or non-fiction, published in the previous calendar year in the United States by a living American citizen or resident.

Urasawa's PLUTO coming to the screen?

Naoki Urasawa is almost surely the most important genre-related cartoonist working today. The recently concluded Pluto and still-coming out 21st Century Boys have more suspense, action and mystery in one volume than entire months of most other publishers comics. But he remains a bit of an acquired taste here in the US — cartoonists love him, but sales remain modest. So maybe it’s good news that Illumination Entertainment is developing a live action/CGI PLUTO movie .

Armie Hammer spills beans on mature Superman and the lost JLA movie

Armie Hammer is a giant, beautiful human. Now that we have that out of the way, it’s very obvious — after his scene-stealing turn as the rowing Winklevoss twins in THE SOCIAL NETWORK — that he would make a swell giant, beautiful Kryptonian. However, as he blabs in an interview with Vulture, at 24 he’s too young for the upcoming Zack Snyder Superman movie which will deal with a more mature 35-40 year old Man of Steel. Given that we’ve seen the original of Superman told so well in the Christopher Reeve versions, an older I-know-what-I’m-doing Man of Steel might be a good change-up. It’s also more in line with the age of Christian Bale’s Batman. And, it just feels more Curt Swan, y’know.

Straight talk with Eric Stephenson

Image publisher Eric Stephenson doesn’t get quoted too much, but maybe he should. Rich Johnston has a very in-depth interview with Stephenson up and its about time. Image is consistently the #3 or 4 comics publishers and in recent months Image has absolutely stolen the mantle of “buzz book” publisher, starting with Chew, but continuing on with Turf, Skullkickers, Morning Glorys and so on. And of course, with the Walking Dead TV show debuting in a few days, they are set to sell even MORE copies of a book that already has 3 million copies in print. As Stephenson mentions, he doesn’t often go around tooting his horn, so the inetrview touches on a lot of point seldom publicly spoken of. Kudos to Johnston and Stephenson for putting something substantive up on the internet for a change. Anyone interested in the state of comics publishing and creators rights should read the whole thing, but a few selected tidbits:

Transmedia-tastic: Kerschl and Stewart create Assassin's Creed comic

Cross-over everywhere: cartoonists Karl Kerschl and Cameron Stewart talk about how they created a comic that expands the universe of the wildly popular video game, Assassin’s Creed. In keeping with all the transmedia stuff you’re always hearing about, they were given quite a bit of latitude to create their own characters and give the spin-off their own spin. ASSASSIN’S CREED: THE FALL will run three issues and be published by Ubisoft.

Podcast alley: Comic News Insider #300

Podcasters Jimmy Aquino and Joe Gonzalez and their long running Comic News Insider podcast are big supporters of The Beat, and the feeling is mutual, so we were happy to go down and put in an appearance on their Gala 300th Episode But we were in fantastic company: Kevin Maguire (JLA), Kate Beaton (HARK! A VAGRANT), Veronica Taylor (voice of Ash from Pokemon), Michael Emerson (Ben Linus from Lost), Molly Crabapple (Dr. Sketchy’s), and Ben McCool aka FMB (CHOKER) were also on the show. Beaton did a long interview that revealed her construction site past, and everyone else was equally informative. Good times!