Weekend inspiration: Lisa Hanawalt's drawing rules

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Via Dylan Horrocks.

DC Comics Month-to-Month Sales: March 2011

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by Marc-Oliver Frisch

Led by the top-selling Batman: The Dark Knight and Batman, Inc., which were back on the racks after a two-month absence, and a double-shipping Green Lantern, DC Comics’ periodical sales continued a slow recovery in February.

Notably, the February numbers also show modest increases across the rest of DC’s line-up. Maybe the company’s decision to cancel around 25% of its current ongoing titles and stick to a $ 2.99 price point is encouraging retailers, after all.

See below for the details, and please consider the small print at the end of the column. Thanks to Milton Griepp and ICv2.com for the permission to use their figures. An overview of ICv2.com‘s estimates can be found here.

—–

2/3 - GREEN LANTERN
03/2006: Green Lantern #10  --  79,745 [87,143]
03/2007: Green Lantern #18  --  61,661
03/2008: Green Lantern #29  --  66,536
03/2009: --
--------------------------------------
03/2010: Green Lantern #52  --  97,369 (+ 2.0%)
04/2010: Green Lantern #53  -- 100,356 (+ 3.1%)
05/2010: Green Lantern #54  --  88,292 (-12.0%)
06/2010: Green Lantern #55  --  85,930 (- 2.7%)
07/2010: Green Lantern #56  --  84,164 (- 2.1%)
08/2010: --
09/2010: Green Lantern #57  --  85,179 (+ 1.2%)
10/2010: Green Lantern #58  --  81,626 (- 4.2%)
11/2010: Green Lantern #59  --  76,173 (- 6.7%)
12/2010: Green Lantern #60  --  76,360 (+ 0.3%)
12/2010: Green Lantern #61  --  72,203 (- 5.4%)
01/2011: --
02/2011: Green Lantern #62  --  71,517 (- 1.0%)
03/2011: Green Lantern #63  --  75,632 (+ 5.8%)
03/2011: Green Lantern #64  --  76,898 (+ 1.7%)
-----------------
6 months: - 10.5%
1 year  : - 21.7%
2 years :   n.a.
5 years : -  4.4%

With two issues out in March, Green Lantern caught up on its schedule. The “War of the Green Lanterns” crossover gives the book another sales increase.
[Read more…]

Weekend bestsellers analysis: New York Times edition

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It’s been a while since we took a look at The New York Times’ graphic novel best sellers lists. Let’s take a peak shall we?

Hardcover

1: Y THE LAST MAN, BOOK 5, by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. (DC Comics, $29.99.) — What can we say? The gift that keeps on giving.

2: MISTER WONDERFUL, by Daniel Clowes. (Pantheon Books, $19.95.) — This has been on the list for four weeks, so a strong outing for Random House and Clowes.

3: DELIRIUM’S PARTY: A LITTLE ENDLESS STORYBOOK, by Jill Thompson. (DC Comics, $14.99.) — The Sandman/Gaimanverse has legs.

4: THOR: OMNIBUS, by Walter Simonson. (Marvel Entertainment, $125.) — Once again it’s pretty remarkable to see a $125 1200 page book leading the merchandising for a feature film.

5: THE LITTLE ENDLESS STORYBOOK, by Jill Thompson. (DC Comics, $14.99.) — BACKLIST, BACKLIST, BACKLIST.

6: THOR/IRON MAN: GOD COMPLEX, by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. (Marvel Entertainment, $19.99.) — Two great movie franchises in one handy volume!

7: SCREAMING PLANET, by Alexandro Jodorowsky and various. (Humanoids, $24.95.) — Now THIS is a surprise. But Jodorowsky is a legit major cult figure, and one whose comics works are a key aspect of his oeuvre, and this book got MAJOR press. Here’s a fine interview with Jodorowsky.

8: BATMAN: THE RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE, by Grant Morrison and various. (DC Comics, $29.99.) — This has been on the list for 13 weeks. Grant Morrison’s name sells books.

9: HALO: FALL OF REACH BOOT CAMP, by Brian Reed and Felix Ruiz. (Marvel Entertainment, $19.99.) — Marvel’s Halo tie-ins are consistent sellers. Indeed, one might see in Marvel’s strong showing some evidence of the success of their move to Hachette as distributor,

10: S. H. I. E. L. D.: ARCHITECTS OF FOREVER, by Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver. (Marvel Entertainment, $24.99.) — see above.

Trade paper list

1: FABLES, VOL. 15, by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham. (DC Comics, $17.99.) — Another proven franchise.

2: HUNTINGTON, WEST VIRGINIA: ON THE FLY, by Harvey Pekar. (Random House, $19.95.) — This book, the first of several posthumous works by Pekar, hasn’t gotten much buzz so it is selling on Pekar’s rep alone, which is impressive.

3: SCOTT PILGRIM: PRECIOUS LITTLE LIFE, by Bryan Lee O’Malley. (Oni Press, $11.95.) — A modern-day classic.

4: THE WALKING DEAD, VOL. 1, by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore. (Image Comics, $14.99.) — A modern-day classic.

5: WATCHMEN, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. (DC Comics, $19.99.) — BACKLIST, BACKLIST, BACKLIST

6: SCOTT PILGRIM’S FINEST HOUR, by Bryan Lee O’Malley. (Oni Press, $11.99.) — A mod — say, what are you doing this weekend?

7: SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD, by Bryan Lee O’Malley. (Oni Press, $11.95.)

8: SCOTT PILGRIM AND THE INFINITE SADNESS, by Bryan Lee O’Malley. (Oni Press, $11.95.)

9: V FOR VENDETTA, by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. (DC Comics, $19.99.)

10: SCOTT PILGRIM: GETS IT TOGETHER, by Bryan Lee O’Malley. (Oni Press, $11.95.)

Do you get the picture? The trends we always note on the best seller list are in force again — backlist and name brand authors sell graphic novels, just as they do novels.

It’s surprising to see so few NEW books on the paperback list. Only FABLES and Harvey Pekar. We need some new heroes. What we’d REALLY love to see is a brand new, breakout book by a talented new creator crack the list, something that happens all the time in the book book world.

Powernap webcomics collective includes Shadmi, Sohn, Collardey

BTW, a bit more about Powernap, the webcomics collective we mentioned in the previous post. While it’s still in its early stages, members include Koren Shadmi, Raymond Sohn (TRUE CHUBBO, above and VERY NSFW) and Domitille Collardey, who is working on a new webcomic expected to launch in a few months. The site will be highly curated and a few more cartoonists are expected to join; Powernap will be more of a hub.

Powernap is a showcase of online comics. Behind the site there’s a collective of cartoonists working to create fresh content on a regular basis. Powernap is unique in that it does not host the comics – each author has his own independent, custom tailored site for his/her comic designed with the powernap interface – making it very easy to read, flip through pages and navigate.

The powernap ‘mother’ site has a live feed which keeps the readers posted each time one of the authors puts up a new page. It also has a blog integrated into the feed, with various articles and interesting comics related news.

With powernap we hope to create a new way for people to read comics on the web, with a format that puts the story in the foreground, and makes the reading experience more pleasant by not calling attention to itself. We hand picked some of the most unique and talented voices in comics to create work for the site, and we are still scouting for new voices to add to the site, so stay tuned!


Definitely something to keep an eye on.

Nice art: Koren Shadmi's The Abaddon

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Award-winning illustrator/cartoonist Koren Shadmi’s graphic novel IN THE FLESH was published by Random House in 2009. Now he’s working on a webcomic called THE ABADDON, which he describes as “Jean Paul Sartre meets Three’s Company” with humor and drama meeting existential dilemmas.

The comic tells the story of Ter, who finds himself trapped in a bizarre apartment with a group of ill matched roommates. He quickly discovers that his new home doesn’t adhere to any rational laws of nature, and poses a strange enigma – a puzzle he needs to solve in order to escape. Ter also realizes that he and his roommates are missing a crucial part of their memories and identities, He decides he must try and find out more about their obscure past.


40 episodes of THE ABADDON are now online so you can definitely get a good chunk of the story. It’s part of an developing online comics collective called PowerNap.

Convention Report: Swedish SPX 2011

Swedish SPX 11 Poster (Art by Ulli Lust)

In spite of the dramatic international intrigue Sparkplug Comic Books and its affiliates faced at the Canadian border on the way to TCAF last weekend, we managed to simultaneously invade a whole other continent at Stockholm Sweden’s 11th Annual SPX Festival. Sparkplug was honored to be invited to the festival for the 3rd year in a row along with many other hella distinguished international guests.

Swedish SPX is free to the public and held in the center of Stockholm in the same building as a – wait for it – comics library with a well rounded, up to date collection called the Kulterhuset. The Kulterhuset is exactly what it translates to from Swedish to English: a “Culture House” that is open to the public seven days a week. In addition to its comics library, it also houses five floors of screening rooms, restaurants and theaters .The festival took place on Saturday, May 7 through Sunday, May 8, with several satellite and on location events held on the Wednesday and Thursday before the show. You know, just how we do in America, except classier and with a buttload of government funding.

The Kulterhuset - Stockholm, Sweden (Photo: MK Reed)

Myself and Sparkplug published and distributed artists, MK Reed, Trevor Alixopulos and Austin English were at a table next to Swedish publisher and festival co-organizer, Galago. Close by were fellow US publishers Top Shelf and Fantagraphics and other North American festival guests, cartoonists Hope Larson, Dash Shaw, Vanessa Davis, Gabrielle Bell and Bryan Lee O’Malley. So what follows is a somewhat subjective report as I was either behind the Sparkplug table or on a panel for most of the show and didn’t get a chance to see everything I would’ve liked to.

Johannes Klennell and Mats Jonnson behind the Galago table (Photo: MK Reed)

Fantagraphics, Sparkplug Comic Books, and Domino Books tables (Photo: MK Reed)

Gabrielle Bell sizes up convention goers to sketch (Photo: MK Reed)

Kolbeinn Karlson, Vanessa Davis and Me (Photo: MK Reed)

But a lot of what I saw and did was good and worthy of sharing. Like, the first international edition of Drink and Draw Like a Lady attended by one of the DDLL co-founders herself, Hope Larson.

Hope Larson at the 1st International Drink and Draw Like a Lady (Photo: MK Reed)

The Drink and Draw was really relaxed and pleasant, with a lot of Stockholm ladies saying they didn’t know anyone there when they first arrived but left with the phone numbers of other girl cartoonists in the spirit of networking the event intends. Swedish organizer, Berit Verkland said they’ll definitely do it again.

I also enjoyed meeting Ulli Lust, an international guest of the festival from Berlin, Germany, and her husband, cartoonist Kai Pfieffer. Everyone at the show was buzzing about her book, Today is the last day of the rest of your life. Lust describes the 400+ page graphic novel as a “travel into the heart of darkness.” The site electrocomics.com (where you can download a full pdf English translation of the book) says it’s the story of how

Ulli, an aspiring punk girl with a catholic middle-class upbringing, meets Edi, a nymphomanic runaway her age. They dream of spending winter in Italy and try to make some money in a brothel (with only little success).

One look through the nicely packaged German edition and I was sold. As were several other festival guests, like Cuno Affolter, curator of Europe’s second largest comics collection in Switzerland, who couldn’t stop talking about how I need to let the rubes of the US of A know about this book over dinner on Saturday. Apparently, no less than Mr. Scott McCloud, is in agreement with the esteemed Mr. Affolter so take note and get on it US publishers.

Vanessa Davis, Trevor Alixopulos, and Ulli Lust at SPX (Photo: MK Reed)

I also liked Emelie Ostrergen’s new minicomic, The Story of a Girl from Swedish publisher, Optimal Press and Scandanavian US Expatriate (and Sparkplug artist) Juliacks’ new self-published venture, Invisible Forces, which features a visually pleasing and inventive use of Finish subtitles with English text (or vice versa, depending on which language you can or would prefer to read).

Emelie Ostregen's The Story of a Girl

One of the things I did get out to see was the table promoting Swedish Cartoonists Simon Gardenfors and Jonas Pike Dahlstrom’s animation project, Paco the Judo Popcorn.

Paco the Judo Popcorn and one of his creators, Simon G. (Photo: MK Reed)

The two have about a week  left on a Kickstarter campaign to fund the making of Paco, so go help out a couple of nice Swedish country boys if you’re able to (or at least watch the Paco trailer, which is pretty cute).

Another thing I didn’t get a chance to read was Austin English’s The Disgusting Room which debuted and sold out at the show but I’m looking forward to getting one (and hopefully I will, unless everything Sparkplug’s transporting via mail, ground shipping or air is on some Canadian child pornographer terrorist watchlist now). Some things I would’ve loved to have read but couldn’t because they weren’t translated into English included Swedish artist Sara Hansson’s new book by Galago (which sold out) and Finish artist Mari Ahokoivu’s new minicomics. I did however have the pleasure of being on a panel with both Hannson and Ahokoivu, as well as my fellow American guest, cartoonist Hope Larson, German editor and publicist Jutta Harms, and Carmela Chergui of the legendary French publisher L’Association on Thursday afternoon. The panel was moderated by Swedish cartoonist and radio journalist, Sofia Olsson and it concerned the current global state of women’s representation in comics publishing. Hope and I seemed to be in agreement that the US comics business environment sucks so much right now that cartoonists seem far more preoccupied with trying to get anything published, hopefully for actual money, than they are with making sure that both genders are represented equally by comics publishers. But we also both seemed to agree that US publishers would be business savvy to produce more work that’ll be capable of luring in female readers, thereby expanding the overall base of comics readers.

The Global State of Women in Comics Panel (Photo: MK Reed)

The other ladies on the panel had something to say as well, with Harms, whose been in the European comics business for over 20 years, asserting that women’s readership and interest in female creators has been steadily growing during her tenure. Hannson stated that she thinks female comics artists should be proud to be female authors whose work is of interest to female readers while Chergui said that L’Association prefers to promote authors with the emphasis on their art and stories without putting too much focus on either their gender or age.

Other panels included a reportedly well attended one featuring Austin English in conversation with Dash Shaw and a panel moderated by Galago’s Berit Viklund that purportedly asked the panelists how they field questions from the media and readers trying to understand their work in the context of their feminity. That panel featured Swedish artist, Sara Graner, of the Dotterbollaget Feminist Comics Collective, Gabrielle Bell and Vanessa Davis. Eric Reynolds of Fantragraphics also joined Johannes Klennell of Galago and others for a discussion moderated by Finish journalist and editor Ville Hanninen entitled “Is Humor Borderless?” to discuss which foreign titles do well in which foreign markets, which titles get lost in translation and why. Hanninen, himself, is the editor of another collection I would’ve liked to have seen more of, The Finish Comics Annual – although what I saw of it looked quite good – and it’s en anglaise at that.

Frederick Stromberg (of The Swedish Comics Association) holds up a copy of the 2011 Finish Comics Annual

I was on a Spotlight on Brian Lee O’Malley panel on Sunday that featured a free screening of Scott Pilgrim, along with a discussion moderated by prominent Swedish film critic Roger Wilson. Galago’s Mats Jonnson, Top Shelf’s Chris Staros, O’Malley, and myself talked about what makes a good comics film adaptation and whether the current “comics movie bubble” is stopping anytime soon (although it’s currently showing few signs of doing so).

But while that was fun, it wasn’t half as much fun as seeing all the teenage (or very close to teenage) Scott Pilgrim fans who were absolutely gaga to get the chance to talk to a very nice and patient O’Malley about how meaningful the series has been to them. It was kind of heartwarming to see that there’s something universal that kids can relate to in the Scott Pilgrim story that transcends international borders.

Another fun, international border transcending occurrence that I’m sure everyone in attendance will agree was the utmost highlight of the con, was the Justin Bieber Flash Mob that took place right outside the Kulterhuset on Saturday afternoon!

Bieber fever (Check out that naughty sign...) Photo: MK Reed

More Beiber Fever (Photo: MK Reed)

Now that's a flash mob (Photo: MK Reed)

Imagine yourself inside a small, pleasant indie comics convention, lazily browsing tables of books as hundreds of tween girls chant outside, “JUSTIN BIEBER! JUSTIN BIEBER! JUSTIN BIEBER!” nonstop for, I dunno, at least two hours. You can’t, can you? I only can because I lived it. Apparently, Bieber wasn’t able to make it to Sweden on his last world tour and the tween ladies of Sweden felt they had to take to the center square of Stockholm to protest the injustice of it all. In the immortal words of South Park creators Matt Parker and Trey Stone, I blame Canada. What is wrong with them? They won’t let the Biebs (a Canadian grown tweenybopper cyborg) out of the country to grace Sweden with his presence and they won’t let potentially, although ultimately indeterminately obscene comics into their own country.  Why must they get in the way of art and commerce so?

Also fun was the Galago Release Party on Saturday night, which featured a band singing historic Swedish Union songs and pinatas adorned with the faces of some of the country’s current very right leaning leaders to protest recent government decisions, like eliminating the Swedish government’s Artist Retirement Fund.  Yes. Artists had a retirement fund there. HAD. Let’s hope that no more of the arts funding that’s responsible for festivals like Swedish SPX and much of the recent prolific output from Scandanavian cartoonists is eliminated.

Eric Reynolds and Dash Shaw, totally ready to rock Stockholm (Photo: MK Reed)

Sweden's George Bush about to get bashed by an angry artist

The last fun thing I can speak of was our foray into the touristy Olde Town area of Stockholm on Sunday night to go to a medieval bar. The picture below says it all.

Medieval Times (Left to Right): Me, Simon G., Trevor Alixopulos, Gabrielle Bell, Vanessa Davis, Dash Shaw and MK Reed (Photo: Eric Reynolds)

If you want to see more about Swedish SPX, Gabrielle Bell hinted she might do a comic about her adventures in Sweden for her Lucky blog. She may not, so don’t hold me to it, but you should check back because, come on now, everything she does is good. And tak (that’s thanks in Swedish) for reading.

Dan Slott's review of the revamped Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

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AMAZING SPIDER-MAN writer Dan Slott attended the premiere of the NEW, revised, less Arachne Spider-Man musical last night, and he tweeted his review!

Yep! I just came back from the ALL-NEW ver of @SpideyOnBway… and, WALOPING WEB-SNAPPERS, it IS new and IMPROVED! WOO-HOO! You know who’s the hero who saved Spidey? Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, that’s who!!! Roberto’s new book and lyrics for @SpideyOnBway are FUN! :-) Now, when Spidey fights during TURN OFF THE DARK, he QUIPS!!! He didn’t B4, and now that he does: it’s SPIDEY again! YAY! @SpideyOnBway

1 thing that HASN’T changed (and I’ve seen both versions) the cast remains EXCELLENT! :) And in this NEW ver they shine MORE! @SpideyOnBway Now, during TURN OFF, Uncle Ben is NOT killed by being run over by a car! The lesson here: Want something fixed? Use a comic book writer! :) In TURN OFF THE DARK, know what Peter says after Uncle Ben dies? “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility!” He DIDN’T B4! They FIXED IT! Tonights show: No stopping. Not even once. All good, all the way through! :) And all the stunts and ADDED flying sequences were AWESOME!

Cutest moment: Tonight’s TURN OFF THE DARK ended on a standing ovation from the ENTIRE audience! And when the curtain went down, you could hear the cast members let out their own hoots and cheers– because they KNEW they nailed it! They now have a FUN hit! #TheyFixedIt!!!!

Is there still silly stuff in TURN OFF THE DARK? Swarm? Giant baby? Rubber wrestler? Sure. But the show is now infused w/ so much FUN! :-) Something I REALLY loved about the new-and-improved TURN OFF THE DARK: expanded roles for Aunt May, Jonah, MJ, and even more for Flash. :-)


As you may recall, if you have not been living in a cave with no Internet access, the Spider-Man musical has been plagued with problems for the last seven years or so, starting with the original producer dropping dead just as he was signing a contract for the show, moving right on to destroying Julie Taymor’s career, and making Bono contemplate the meaning of humility. Aguirre-Sacasa and director Philip William McKinley have restaged the original, puzzling production, and if the Slott Report is to be believed,

People are standing up and cheering for Spidey on Broadway!