A month of Previews: Usagi Yojimbo #133

While in other places, the indie periodical comic has languished, Stan Sakai and Usagi Yojimbo do not question, they just do. After five publishers and 26 years, this story of a wandering rabbit samurai in Edo period Japan has become one of the longest-running and best loved independent comics of all time. With a loyal home at Dark Horse since 1996 and 24 collections published, the Usagi saga has become a continuing epic of heroism, betrayal and romance, with a large cast of characters who weave in and out of Usagi’s life. It’s comics world building at its purest, and all-ages in the best way.

A new issue is out this month that serves as a jumping on point (although truthfully, Sakai is such a strong storyteller that you can always catch up just by jumping on — check out how the first page of the preview sets up the situation so you can just keep on going.)

More info:

Usagi Yojimbo #133
These issues form both halves of “Taiko,” a special double-issue story line. A group of drought-stricken farmers commission an enormous taiko drum to show their devotion to the gods, and pray for rain. But the bloodthirsty Red Scorpion Gang threatens to destroy the drum unless the farmers pay up, so the farmers must turn to rabbit ronin Usagi to protect the drum, lest they face starvation from drought! When the Red Scorpion Gang burns down the farmers’ temple and the drum is in jeopardy, Usagi must figure out how to rescue it and fight the Red Scorpions at the same time, or all is lost!

Publication Date: November 24, 2010
Format: B&W, 24 pages
Price: $3.50

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Tonight To Do: Dash Shaw at SVA … FREE


Thursday, November 4, 7pm

Artist and SVA alumnus Dash Shaw (BFA 2005 Illustration) will deliver the fall Distinguished Alumnus Lecture. With the publication of Bottomless Belly Button (Fantagraphics, 2008) and BodyWorld (Pantheon, 2010), Shaw has quickly established himself as a leading figure among emerging graphic novelists. The animator and director of IFC’s The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D., Shaw is currently working on the animated feature The Ruined Cast. This event is presented in conjunction with the exhibition “Ink Plots: The Tradition of the Graphic Novel at SVA” at the Visual Arts Gallery, 601 West 26th Street, 15th floor, October 8 – November 6.

Presented by the Alumni Society of School of Visual Arts.

SVA Theatre, 333 West 23 Street
Free and open to the public

More info here

Tonight and beyond: King Con

People who have recovered from New York Comic Con are gearing up for King Con, Brooklyn’s home show. Tonight King Con kicks off at the Brooklyn Lyceum. Guests include Chris Claremont, Kyle Baker, Sarah Glidden, and more. The four-day schedule this year allows for two panels tonight, a party tomorrow, and two days of exhibits and panels Saturday and Sunday. We’ll be moderating the Kids panel Sunday at 12:30.

Although some sources have said that events will be taking place at outside venues, we’re told by co-director Brian Heater that all events take place at the Brooklyn Lyceum. Here’s the entire schedule:

***THURSDAY, November 4***
7pm DEATH OF PRINT MEDIA: How does the implosion of print media impact artists and NY artists in particular? Is there a viable game plan? How is the plight of artists different from that of journalists or photographers? Panelists: Sarah Jaffe, Brian Heater, Stuart Moore, Chip East and Norman Oder. Moderated by Chris Irving (NOTE: additional tix necessary for this panel– http://bit.ly/bXqgWr
9pm ATLANTIC YARDS, COMICS, & THE CHANGING FACE OF BROOKLYN: What would Batman be if his Gotham was all Gristedes and Forever 21…(Bed Bath and Batman??) How is the Seepage of Suburban Sprawl affecting the artists who create here? Panelists Stuart Moore, Norman Oder, Simon Fraser and more (NOTE: additional tix necessary for this panel– http://bit.ly/diUBBE)

***FRIDAY, November 5***
8pm to Midnite = KING CON KICKOFF PARTY / Live Comix Reading with Dean Haspiel, Paul Pope, Jeff Newelt aka JahFurry, Jen Ferguson, Seth Kushner, Joan Hilty & Joe Infurnari. DJ Pulphope (Paul Pope), DJ CrossHatch (Brian Heater) + live performances by Americans UK (www.americans-uk.com) & Charles Soules Band
INVITE: http://on.fb.me/KingConParty $3 at the door.
***SATURDAY, November 6 – KING CON IS ON!***
12:30pm: Collaboration Counselling: “You put your writing on my art!” “You put your art on my writing!” Comics creators discuss the Reeses-like process of collaboration, the joys and the difficulties of melding words & pictures into a readable whole. Featuring Vito Delsante, Dean Haspiel, Rachel Freire, David Gallaher, Simon Fraser, and Reilly Brown.
1:00pm: Understanding Israel, a spotlight on SARAH GLIDDEN: Brian Heater of The Daily Cross Hatch talks to the creator of the autobiographical graphic novel How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less
2:30pm: Graphic NYC presents KYLE BAKER: the consummate cartoonist discusses his career and his works including his current Deadpool MAX, Plastic Man, The Bakers, Nat Turner and more with Chris Irving.
3:30pm: BORED TO DEATH: Jonathan Ames, creator of the hit HBO series, and artist Dean Haspiel will discuss the show with moderator Jeff Newelt (Pekar Project, Heeb, Royal Flush) The character “Ray” played by Zach Galifianakis is loosely-based on Dean who also draws all the comic art for the show, including the Emmy-winning title-sequence. **Special sneak preview screening of clips from the Comic-Con themed episode that were shot at the Brooklyn Lyceum in May.**
4:30pm: The Daily Cross Hatch Presents: The Cross Hatch Podcast Live featuring a streamed conversation with host Brian Heater, Julia Wertz, Robert Sikoryak and Lisa Hanawalt
5:30pm: THE FUNNY PAGES: COMEDY IN COMICS, moderated by Comic Book Club’s Alex Zalben, featuring Lisa Hanawalt, Bob Fingerman, Michael Kuperman, Neil Swaab and Emily White
6:30pm: CAROUSEL: The Original Live Comix Reading featuring R. Sikoryak, Emily Flake, Michael Kuperman, and more
***SUNDAY, November 7***
11:30am: HOW TO DRAW COMIC CHARACTERS FOR KIDS OF ALL AGES! cartoonist RICK PARKER (Harry Potty, Pekar Project) will lead a live drawing workshop + Papercutz Publishing do a live SMURFS reading with Matt Murray of their latest Smurfs comics, complete with face painting and Smurfy giveaways!!
12:30pm: Kids’ Stuff: Making Comics for All Ages featuring Nick Abadzis, Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman and Colleen AF Venable, Moderated by Heidi MacDonald
1:30pm: COMICS PUBLISHING: Where we are now, and where we are headed. Moderated by Calvin Reid (Publishers Weekly ComicsWeek). Panelists: Bob Kahan (former collected editions editor DC Comics), Jim Salicrup (Papercutz)
2:30pm: Spotlight on CHRIS CLAREMONT: the legendary X-Men writer, interviewed live by Fred Van Lente (writer: Action Philosophers, Incredible Hercules)
3:30pm: DR. SKETCHY’S ANTI-ART SCHOOL KING CON EDITION (bring your own drawing supplies): Dr. Sketchy’s is what happens when Cabaret meets Art School.  Artists draw glamorous underground performers and compete for prizes.  In our KingCon special edition, pinup artist Paige Pumphrey poses as a MiniComics Showgirl, with Syd Bernstein hosting.
4:30pm: ZUDA: What Happened? a retrospective look at the three-year life of DC Comics’ webcomics initiative with Zuda Comics creators Kevin Colden, Bobby Timony, and moderator Alex Zalben.
5:30pm: PULP FUTUREPAST: the past, present and future of pulp comics with Adam L Garcia, Ed Catto, Mark Halegua, Derrick Fergusen, Chris Kalb.
6:30pm: HIPS, LIPS, & PENCIL TIPS: The Sexual Female as Feminist Focal Point a conversation with female artists Paige Pumphrey, Laura Lee Gullidge, Jennifer Hayden; moderated by writer Rachel Kramer Bussel.
***SKETCHBOOK COMPETITION: You could win the Drawbridge Sketchbook, filled with drawings by Dean Haspiel, Tim Hamilton, Simon Fraser, Reilly Brown, Nick Abadzis, Robin Ha, GB Tran, Joan Reilly, and Nathan Schreiber. The winning sketchbook must:1. Have at least FIVE different artists work2. Have one sketch made at King Con 2010!The winner will be selected from a jury and announced on Sunday November 7th!details:http://natsch.blogspot.com/2010/10/king-con-drawbridge-sketchbook.html

SCOOP! Con wars may be back on!!! UPDATE — no Con Wars

Along with the announcement of Wizard’s new Winnipeg show, the press release contained a list of all 16 Wizard shows, and although we had previously announced that the most violent conflict of Con Wars was over, based on this schedule, maybe it isn’t.

UPDATE: According to an email from Wizard’s Jerry Milani, these shows are on the schedule for September. So…Con Wars is over. Let there be peace, harmony, Rich Buckler, and Virgil for all times.

The last schedule we saw had the Big Apple and New England Shows — which previously bracketed the ReedPOP run New York Comic-Con — being moved to September 17-18 and Sept. 24-25, a month prior to the 2011 NYCC on October 14-16, 2011. You’ll recall that at one point the Big Apple Con was scheduled to be held the very same weekend as New York Comic Con, and there have been other aggressive scheduling moves on Wizard’s part as they expand.

Well guess what, according to the NEW schedule, Big Apple and New England are back to a vague “Fall 2011″ date! So many they are going to move closer to NYCC.

Wizard World Comic Con Tour:
November 12-14, 2010 – Austin Comic Con – Austin Convention Center
December 4-5, 2010 – Atlanta Comic Con – Cobb Galleria Centre
January 29-30, 2011 – New Orleans Comic Con – New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
February 26-27, 2011 – Miami Comic Con – Doubletree Miami Mart Airport Hotel and Exhibition Center
March 18-20, 2011 – Toronto Comic Con – Direct Energy Centre
April 29-May 1, 2011 – Anaheim Comic Con – Anaheim Convention Center
May 21-22, 2011 – Big Apple Comic Con ‘Spring Edition’ – Penn Plaza Pavilion
June 17-19, 2011 – Philadelphia Comic Con – Pennsylvania Convention Center
August 11-14, 2011 – Chicago Comic Con – Stephens Convention Center
Fall 2011 – Big Apple Comic Con
Fall 2011 – New England Comic Con
October 28-30, 2011 – Central Canada Comic Con
November 2011 – Austin Comic Con
December 2011 – Atlanta Comic Con
TBA – Central Canada Comic Con
TBA – New Jersey Comic Con
TBA – Cincinnati Comic Con
TBA – Cleveland Comic Con
TBA – Nashville Comic Con

As we wrote last time, given Wizard’s increasing focus on nerd-lebrities of various levels of fame, and turning their shows into autograph focused events, there is lots of room for events the same weekend. As the comic-con becomes a bigger and bigger draw in and of itself, there are competing events each and every weekend. And as we wrote, the Big Apple is definitely no match for New York Comic Con for size and scope.

Although they were acquired earlier this year, the New Jersey, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Nashville Wizard shows are not on the schedule and will not have been held this year at all. However, Wizard is cruising along with a show-a-month schedule, so they are certainly very busy bees.

BONUS: Here’s a link to a story about a con organizer in Tucson who decided not to go with the Wizard deal. [Link via Tom Spurgeon]

Wizard acquires Central Canada Comic Con


Well, it seems Wizard is on an acquisition spree this week, as they have just announced annexing the Central Canada Comic Con, a mid-size show held in Winnipeg that just wrapped up this weekend and will be held over the Halloween weekend next year. It already had a guest mix of random Jedi, Star Trek crew members and local creators, so it’s a natural fit for Wizard’s show brand. It’s Wizard’s second foray into Canada, after the Toronto Comic-Con. For those not versed in Canadian geography, Winnipeg is in the Manitoba province, about halfway between Toronto and Vancouver. We’re not enough of an expert to know whether this is a competitor for the Calgary Entertainment Expo, a well-established show that is moving to June from April next year.

Wizard has long been trying to get into the Pacific Northwest market. Reportedly, they’ve been making inquiries with several shows in this area of late. So keep your eyes peeled on that Wizard RSS feed! And check out the next story!

Gareb Shamus, CEO of Wizard Entertainment, today announced the acquisition of the Central Canada Comic Con, of which the 2010 event was held this past weekend at the Winnipeg Convention Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  The dates for the 2011 Wizard World Central Canada Comic Con are October 28-29-30, 2011

“We have seen this hugely successful event and are proud to add Central Canada Comic Con as our newest Canadian show,” said Shamus.  “We look to continue its run of great events and celebrating pop-culture across Canada.”

“I am excited to be partnered with Wizard World as they will help bring the C4 Event to the next level for the fans,” said Damien Paille, President of Cencon Inc. and Show Manager of Central Canada Comic Con.  “They will benefit the community exponentially.”

Central Canada Comic Con is the second largest convention of its genre in Canada.  The show grew out of the Manitoba Collector’s Expo, with everything from sports cards to antiques to toys and comic books.  In 2000 it became the Manitoba Toy & Comic Expo, dropping the antiques and reducing the sports cards.

In 2006, the show’s attendance exploded as the Manitoba Comic Con, and brought in attendees from all over Manitoba and North Dakota.  The show focused on toys, comic books, gaming, anime, and local artists.  In 2007, it added media guests from the world of Star Wars, Superman, Star Trek and more. Finally, in 2008, it moved to its current home at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.  Wizard World will continue all the customs and traditions that have made this show successful, while adding many of the elements that Wizard World fans have come to expect at our pop-culture festivals across North America!

EXCLUSIVE: Marvel clarifies pricing changes, lowers price on Hulk

[In recent weeks there’s been much discussion of comics pricing, and both Marvel and DC have made changes to their pricing levels in order to face the realities of the current economic climate. While DC has announced an across the board roll-back of prices from $3.99 to $2.99, Marvel’s policy announcements have been somewhat less clear. At the ICV2 conference last month Sr. Vice President Sales & Circulation David Gabriel announced a rollback on selected titles, but no details. In addition at a retailer meeting, Marvel announced that they would be putting out fewer titles. An interview earlier this week with VP-executive editor Tom Brevoort made it clear that the rollback was limited but left details to Gabriel.

In order to clear up what Marvel’s policies are in regards to pricing, Gabriel and Chief Operating Officer Jim “Ski” Sokolowski sat down for an interview, discussing some of the business realities of publishing, the growth of digital and how to reach new readers as older ones cycle out.]

THE BEAT: Just to give this some background, at the ICv2 digital conference and Diamond retailer breakfast you made some statements about pricing changes at Marvel and there has been controversy about just what that announcement entailed. So can you explain the details of the price rollback?

DAVID GABRIEL: The pricing structure is that for limited series in the Marvel Universe that we roll out, we will price as many of those as we can for $2.99 for a 32 page book.

THE BEAT: What would be the factors that would affect whether they can be priced at the lower price?

GABRIEL: If someone has 30 pages they want to put into those stories or [special issues], especially a one-shot, those will be at $3.99 as they have been. If there is back up material, the book will be at the higher price. If a series is already is in the works, again, we never made any announcement that we were lowering prices on series that were out already. If the first issue has been solicited at $3.99, the second issue will be at $3.99. There’s not a strict policy thing that we’re lowering everything to $2.99 but there will be pricing structures that will help everyone stay profitable.

THE BEAT: So with a marquee title like a Spider-man or Avengers, it would be at the higher price point so everyone can make as much money as possible, if the sales warrant it.

GABRIEL: Yes, and where we did listen to retailers and the industry months back, most people will agree that that is an okay pricing strategy. I’ve never heard anybody argue about that. Where I have heard them argue is that if we have too many titles coming out at that price, some of the bottom titles that aren’t marquee titles are going to get dropped. Some of the other titles that we want people to sample, that aren’t necessarily the marquee titles, are still going to get stomped on a bit. The titles that people aren’t testing or trying them out. They are the first ones people won’t pick up, if they are a non-marquee title, at $3.99 and we definitely recognize that we need to fix something on those books. Bringing back $2.99 for limited series, that’s where we started that program.

This is for limited series in the Marvel Universe. We’ve got limited series that are third party licensed books, they will stay at $3.99 and the Ultimate line is still our marquee line—it’s staying where it is. There may be a few limited series that will still get extra pages or have back-up features—I know there’s one coming in March that will be $4.99 but it will be 44 to 48 new pages of story, with two stories in each issue. So we are testing that as well.

detail.jpgHowever, when the February catalog comes out, there will be a reduction in the price on the Incredible Hulk book. It will still be 32 pages, with 22 pages of story for $2.99. We had it at $3.99 throughout the event that was going on, and a lot of people were getting into the Hulk stuff but the price was becoming sort of a barrier to them staying with it. The back-up features weren’t doing enough to propel enough sales on that or to keep them going. I actually had retailers begging me on that title to reduce the price…but only on that series. We did some math and figured some things out and moved some things around and that’ll be in the February catalog.

THE BEAT: At the same time you are lowering the number of book you are publishing. What is the thinking behind that?

GABRIEL: Again, that was a response mostly to retailers saying there is just too much product out there. There is someone who said that to Ski the next morning [after the retailer breakfast], screaming at him. We took a look at the overall schedule and there were a few too many books out there and we started making cuts. You started seeing them in November and December. Some titles are going away, some are altering to help sales a bit. But the thing you don’t see is stuff that was scheduled that we’ve taken out and pushed out towards the end of the year or just killed altogether. And I didn’t went to do that. It takes money out a lot of our creators pockets, they are the guys who get dinged…it’s very hard for me to cancel my friend Jim McCann’s book. But that’s sort of the reality. We had to look at the books that are doing the best and those aren’t necessarily the books that are reviewed the best.

THE BEAT: Let me take you back a bit to ask about the general market for sales. We’ve seen a lot of online pundits like John Jackson Miller taking about the trends, but you guys obviously see the accurate figures. What are the trends that you’re seeing that make you more concerned about the size and pricing of your line? There have been a lot dire warnings and dire interpretations out there.

745371-pet_avengers_super.jpgGABRIEL: It’s just going back to what we had already said. With the lower tier books and the ancillary titles we all loved doing, once we started seeing those numbers dropping, that’s when we knew there was something going on. The X-men are doing well. The Avengers are doing well. The Spider-Man books. All the stuff you expect to do well is still doing well. But it’s all the stuff that everybody has soft spots for the Hawkeyes, and the Atlas and the Pet Avengers, a lot of those ancillary titles just didn’t make it in the market.

THE BEAT: Marvel has always been seen as a little more harsh—your cancellation number is a bit higher than other publishers. Even if these are fan favorites books. So is there still a way to grow a different audience for these books?

JIM SOKOLOWSKI: The Sense and Sensibilities, the Oz books, The Marvel Illustrated projects, we’re staying by those. We understand we have to try some different things all the time to test the market but you reach a point when you’re just not getting any traction. A year ago forecasting numbers was pretty straightforward, and issue 1 hits x, issue 2 hits % of x and down, sometimes up….over the year that structure has changed. We’ve had to stay on top of that change and David has a good track record on that basis.

THE BEAT: Another element everyone has been very curious about is digital. David, you mentioned this and some of Tom Brevoort’s comment suggested that Digital was allowing a new revenue stream that was making it possible to make up for some of this lost revenue. Can you talk about digital comics and how they are affecting this?

GABRIEL: You basically said it right there. It’s a revenue stream that we didn’t have 8 or 9 months ago. We are doing day and date books and we haven’t really done a lot of them. We are testing the water. Today, we had a little glitch — a new day and date book that went up and then went down. [Ultimate Thor #2 briefly was on sale a week early yesterday.] But there is revenue now that we’re able to tie that in to the economics of some of the regular printed copies. I think I said this at the digital meeting we are all at the beginnings of figuring out digital comics. I’m not going to lie to you and say we have all the facts. If we don’t have all the facts, they are probably not out there yet. I say that only because we have been doing this for at least three years with a digital subscription online. We’ve been doing the app stuff for quite a while now too, since April or May. But it’s all going in a positive direction and it’s all helping. It was probably a month before the digital conference that we started looking at the pricing. And we are up in digital sales and we started to think how can we use that to our advantage in the print sales.

SOKOLOWSKI: Everybody like to think that these books on the internet, well the digital stuff is free, so we should have a lot more so we can lower our price on print comics to practically nothing because that’s all sheer profit. And yes we don’t have paper, printing and binding costs. But yes there are costs—we have a division that runs digital media. We have to take and convert the files to what we call “smart paneling” so it will work on various devices and none of them do it the same way, so you have to do it four times. So it has a cost.

GABRIEL: And the creators are getting paid for digital comics as well.

THE BEAT: You say it’s trending upwards in general?

GABRIEL: Certain titles are working really well in the app. It’s a lot of the titles that you think. The ones that are selling well in comics shops are also the ones that are doing well in digital. But that’s not always the case.

SOKOLOWSKI: There are ones that come out of the blue, and you say how did THAT happen?

GABRIEL: I don’t want to give away the secrets of the top sellers. We’re still struggling and learning how to market and promote it. And I think we’ll get there pretty soon.

SOKOLOWSKI: And there are tools that we need in the app. That’s development time. We’ll say yes, that’s on our list to add. But should we do this first or that first? And yeah, do the other things first. You get into a constant waiting game of “wouldn’t it be cool to see that?”

THE BEAT: It seems to me a lot of what your talking about is keeping the comics shops going in what’s a very difficult environment for retail and the economy in general. My own observation is that everybody blames event fatigue. But I think we have some reader fatigue, as well. I think a lot of the readers who came in with the Ultimate line ten years ago are naturally trending out or getting to the “I’m bored” phase. Are you concerned with this? Are there any specific method to get a new generation?

casanova.jpgGABRIEL: You know, it’s funny. We’ve been, especially with Dan [Buckley, Marvel’s publisher] here the past seven years and now with Ski, there’s been so much work done to get new readers in starting three or four years ago with the Dark Tower book, that bought thousands of new readers into stores across the country. With the Anita Blake series. With the Oz series. The Ender’s Game books, bringing Halo in. Every time we turn around, every three months or so, we have a new series that we’re working on that’s geared to bring in an outside mainstream audience. Civil War did that, the Death of Captain America did that, the unmasking of Spider-Man did that. We have some more stuff coming up that’s sort of aimed in that same direction. Sometimes it seems like it’s easier to bring the readers or customers in, than to keep them in the stores. Retailers do a great job of this at Free Comic Book Day, but it is only once a year. I agree with you, those Ultimate readers are slowly fading away and we need to get the new generation in.

So we’re keeping on with the Marvel Adventures books. We’ve found the semi-successful way to put out all-ages titles that didn’t die right on the vine and that’s worked fairly successfully for 2 or 3 years now. And those books get repurposed in every way imaginable going into libraries, Wal-Marts and Scholastic book fairs and everything that we can there. It’s still difficult. We’ve got the greatest marketing machine behind us with the movies, the Iron Man movie with Thor and Captain America. But I think where everybody still falls short is converting those movie goers into comics readers. And we’ve got some stuff cooked up with Thor coming out that we’ll hopefully be able to finally test the waters on how you get movie goers as readers, whether it be digitally or into comics shops. That’s another good way to grow the industry.

SOKOLOWSKI: We’ve been looking at digital and calling it the new newsstand. It’s really become a place where you can sample material. Between the movies and the iPAd and the app there’s this huge sampling opportunity and we have over 2 million apps downloaded. Then you start looking at how many people go back religiously and how many are hitting the free reads every week vs. how many are buying the new releases every week and if we’re running a special you’re trying figure out how to keep them interested and is this the perfect selection for them and how do you tie it all together. And then how do you get them into a store.

THE BEAT: Speaking of stores Marvel comics are now sold in Disney Stores in theme parks. I wonder how that program is going?

GABRIEL: That’s sort of also in its infancy. I would hate to call it so much of a program as it’s sort of an outreach of some newsstand and some Diamond selling in there. It hasn’t matured yet.

SOKOLOWSKI: David recently just got involved with them on product mix.

THE BEAT: [laughs] I can imagine some of the suggestions you may have made on what not to carry. [General laughter.] I know both you guys are creative publishers, not just bottom line guys although obviously it has to come into play. But you look at something like Kick-Ass —clearly the movie helped it, but it ‘s been a huge publishing success for you this year. How do you keep that door open? Would Marvel consider launching new print lines or digital lines?

GABRIEL: Well, yeah. We’re launching the new CrossGen Line, we’ll see how that does. But, that’s very different from Kick-Ass.

SOKOLOWSKI: You have to give Mark [Millar] credit for Kick-Ass and not just for conceiving it and his work with Johnny on it. The guy’s a shameless and the best self-promoter ever. This guy can get you talking about him if you don’t even know he exists.

GABRIEL: We have initiatives coming out, still a ways off, that are along the lines of what you are talking about with just digital formats to test that out. We’ll have some incentive programs with retailers with digital later on, in the not too far future.

THE BEAT: Sometimes I miss this kind of stuff, but as the Heroic Age was the theme for 2010, has a theme for 2011 been announced yet?

GABRIEL: Not yet. The Point One stuff is not a theme but it’s trying to get more readers back into the stores. But then I think about three weeks from now there will be sort of a shocking theme that you will see announced. And part of that theme will be something nobody would have thought you’d ever see from us.

THE BEAT: She’s a man, baby!

GABRIEL: We’ve done that!

[Thanks to Arune Singh at Marvel for setting up this interview.]

DC E-i-c Bob Harras steps out to explain Batman twist

Batman & Robin #16

Yesterday’s release of BATMANn & ROBIN #16 — the final issue leading into the new BATMAN, INC., book by Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette — included a shocking ending. Spoiler Text: Bruce Wayne announces he’s been funding Batman’s activities, for the first time establishing a public link between his two identities. It was also the first time DC’s new Editor-in-chief Bob Harras had made the press rounds with a bunch of interviews at various sites, including a chat with Kiel Phegley at CBR. Nothing too shocking or revelatory. Harras shows himself to be a smart publishing professional who likes Grant Morrison and thinks comics are a visual medium. He’s also getting a handle on a wide-ranging job:

One thing people have been noting a lot lately are scheduling issues around Batman comics. With so many books to publish and so many individual pieces having to fit together, how have you been looking at that aspect of the business?

I’m not there yet. That’s one of the things I’m going to be getting to in the next few weeks in general and not just Batman specifically.

Looking at the overall line, how has that transition been for you? Are we getting to the point where we’ll start to see some of the Bob Harras effect on DC’s publishing, or will most of what you’re working on be felt down the road in 2011?

You know, I think for me right now since it’s only been a few weeks, the long term gameplan is what I’m going to be talking about with the editors. It’s still very early in the game, and I can’t go much beyond that.

It’s definitely good to see Harras getting a chance to act as a DC spokesman — he’s a calming presence in what has been a difficult transition and that’s part of the reason he now holds the job he does.

To Do this weekend: New England Webcomics Weekend

This weekend, the second New England Webcomics Weekend is happening in Easthampton, MA. Guests are a veritable who’s who of the webcomics world, including R. Stevens (Diesel Sweeties), Chris Hastings (Adventures of Dr. McNinja), Ryan North (Dinosaur Comics), John Allison (Scary Go Round), Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant), and too many more to list.

There are also panels, awards, a pub crawl, and performances by nerdcore hip-hop artist MC Frontalot.

Saturday Nov. 6, 2010
Sunday Nov. 7, 2010
at Eastworks
116 Pleasant St.
Easthampton, MA 01027
Tickets are $6 daily or $10 for the weekend and can be
ordered online and picked up at the door.

For a full list of exhibitors and events you can download the PDF guidebook on the website.

Wizard acquires New Orleans Comic-Con


Just last week it was announced that Wizard was bringing its Wizard World tour of pop culture-themed autograph shows to New Orleans — at the exact same venue as the existing NOLA Comic-Con. Now it turns out that Wizard has acquired the NOLA con, and is moving it to their earlier, January date. Many of Wizard’s convention acquisitions have been more of an organizational shift than an actual purchase—the two entities share leads and resources and the original show runners get to broker exhibit space. New Orleans is a notoriously difficult locale for vendor conventions, so in this case, teaming up makes a lot of sense.

The new Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con will be held January 29-30, 2011.

Gareb Shamus, CEO of Wizard Entertainment, today announced the acquisition of NOLA Comic-Con, which had been held the past two years in suburban New Orleans.  The event will now become part of the Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con scheduled for January 29-30, 2011, at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

“NOLA Comic-Con has been a well-respected event that has really helped bring out the comics fans in Louisiana,” said Shamus.  “We are pleased to be working with Ronnie Prudhomme to help build New Orleans Comic Con in our first year.”

“This can only help increase the interest in the comics industry in New Orleans,” said Prudhomme, NOLA Comic-Con owner and promoter.  “The whole reason I started NOLA Comic-Con was to get people excited about comics here, and Wizard World’s involvement will take that interest even further.”

New Orleans Comic Con, part of the world’s largest pop culture convention series, will be the first on the 2011 Wizard World Comic Con schedule, and the first Wizard World convention in “The Big Easy.

The freshly renovated New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is an essential component of what makes the city’s major business events so successful. With 1.1 million square feet of contiguous exhibit space, the Convention Center is the sixth largest convention facility in the nation, and it consistently ranks in the country’s top ten of facilities that hold the most conventions and tradeshows annually.

To Do this weekend: Comica London International Comics Festival

This weekend marks the start of the Comica London International Comics Festival. Over the next month there will be many events including talks by Charlie Adlard (THE WALKING DEAD), Ho Che Anderson (KING), and Bryan Talbot (GRANDVILLE), art exhibitions, launch parties, and the Comiket Independent Comics Fair this weekend.

Between November 5 and December 1 the 2010 Comica Festival takes over the London Print Studio in London W10. The centre-piece of the festival is That’s Novel, an exhibition which will allow you to discover the very best comics by leading international innovators and the British cutting edge, together with related events, conversations and films.

Comica Comiket, the independent comics fair, teams up with the popular, long-running National Collectors Marketplace at the Royal National Hotel, Russell Square, and taking over its own dedicated space, the plush Ellis Room from 12-5pm.
Charlie Adlard, Darryl Cunningham, Paul Duffield, Hunt Emerson, Garen Ewing, Paul Grist, Roger Langridge, Ellen Lindner, Woodrow Phoenix and others will draw live and sign books during the afternoon. The public are admitted free.

Tickets: Admission Free
Where: Royal National Hotel, 38-51 Bedford Way, London
When: Sunday, November 7, 2010 – Noon to 5pm

For more information, and a full listing of events, check the website.

Nice Art: Aidan Koch



Via Aidan Koch

Koch is in the new Mome, and her GN, THE WHALE, just came out from Gaze Books. So call her a rising star.

A week of Image teasers: Day 4

Continuing this week’s Image teaser campaign.