Dark Horse joins NetGalley

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Just a few weeks ago we were musing about how to get digital comics reviewed, and in our ongoing conversations about this, it definitely seems to be the wave of the future. And now Dark Horse has made it official by joining NetGalley, a service that has been automating galley distribution for book publishers for a few years now. Instead of sending out review copies to a kabillion different sites and magazines, publishers can just send them to NetGalley — reviewers sign up for an account and you’re off to the races.

Dark Horse is the first comics publisher to sign in with NetGalley; publishers must pay to join the service, a set-up fee plus a monthly cost based on how many titles they offer. While this doesn’t sound like a cost cutting measure, given the growing costs of printing and mailing review copies to the legions of comics-reviewing outlets, this could be a very big cost saving measure for Dark Horse.

We’ve never used NetGalley ourselves, having heard various different things about it. But looks like we’ll be starting soon.

Dark Horse has partnered with Diamond Book Distributors and NetGalley to make twenty titles available each month to reviewers, bloggers, librarians, booksellers, and media professionals! 

While there are currently one hundred publishers using this service, Dark Horse will be one of the first comics publishers to participate. By making its titles available for instant access in the NetGalley catalog, Dark Horse hopes to reach as wide an audience as possible, combining its current reach with NetGalley’s massive membership of over 26,500 professional readers.
 
NetGalley allows Dark Horse to offer full-color graphic novels and digital press kits (including book trailers, audio and video files, press materials, and images), all in a central location. Those with approved access will be able to download secure galley files to read on their computers and other preferred platforms, including the iPad.
 
“Dark Horse has a proud tradition of innovation and we’re pleased to work with another innovator—NetGalley—to make early reading copies of our titles available to reviewers, booksellers, librarians, and our partners in media around the world,” said Micha Hershman, VP of marketing at Dark Horse.
 
There is no charge for professional readers to register and use the site, and we encourage all of our partners in the media and book trades to sign up today at NetGalley.com.

Comic-Con finally gets its Slamdance: TR!CKSTER

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For several years, those who feel that the San Diego Comic-Con has lost the comics part of the equation (even though it isn’t true at all ) have been wondering if an alternative event — a “Slamdance*” to CCI:SD’s Sundance — would spring up. And artist/animators Scott Morse and Ted Mathot (who both have Pixar as a day job) are making this “Slamcomic” come true with TR!CKSTER, an alternative venue for comics events that will be open to the public and located right across the tracks from the SD Convention Center.

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TR!CKSTER is a retail space: specializing in CREATOR-OWNED wares including small run and limited edition books, fine art prints, toys, clothing, and more.

TR!CKSTER is a fine art gallery space: featuring the CREATOR-OWNED work of some of today’s most influential artists and designers.

TR!CKSTER is a series of Symposia: focused, CREATOR-DRIVEN demonstrations and discussions of method, process, and theory concerning the act of creating new, uniquely-voiced works of art.

We at TR!CKSTER create and control our own work, our own visions, and our own destinies. We do these things to share them with the world. We’d love to make your acquaintance.


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Tr!ckster will run from Tuesday to Sunday of Con week, spotlighting creator owned comics with exhibits, a store, ticketed-symposium, and plenty of drinks — including the specially-designed High Five — at night — the 4,500 sq. ft. venue, the San Diego Wine and Culinary Center, that mysterious big building that looms right across the tracks and next to the Gaslamp Hilton and that patch of grass where movie companies usually set up a carnival. Creators involved are the top of the line:

Mike Mignola, Craig Thompson, Mike and Laura Allred, Paul Pope, Bernie Wrightson, Steve Niles, Greg Rucka, Jill Thompson, Skottie Young, Jim Mahfood, Mike Huddleston, Marc Andreyko, Fabio Moon, Andy Kuhn, Steve Purcell, Doug TenNapel, David Mack, Greg Ruth and many many more.


The website already has a boatload of information. The public will need to buy tickets to the symposia which will focus on process, technique, history and other process-related topics — profits will go to the participants.

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Morse told The Beat:
 

The goal is to create a comforting, classy atmosphere where fans and creators can find a haven for art and comics storytelling. Creators might sign books or do drawings on a schedule, but not be expected to sign stacks of books or the like if they don’t want to. NO BOOTHS. It’ll be like a *hopefully* well-designed retail store that you can navigate leisurely mixed with an art gallery vibe of cocktail hour ALL WEEK. We’ll do a soft opening on Tuesday night, and then it’s full-speed ahead.


Morse and Mathot are paying for this themselves, but will have animation screenings from Cartoon Brew, art collective The Brothers Ink, and exhibitors Global PSD, the Chinese printer, and WHAMIX! iPad comics promoter.

Tr!ckster also aims to become the perfect alternative to the Hyatt with a bar (no food) and a large outdoor patio. We can already see the fun and drama unfolding in our mind’s eye. Comic book bands THE GEAR featuring Mike Allred and nerd-core king KIRBY KRACKLE will supply the entertainment.

Tr!ckster has already put together an all-star anthology which will be on sale at the event.

“We’re not making a “small press” show like APE or a glorified artist’s alley,” Morse continued. “We’re making something incredibly new…and creator-owned.”

 
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Our take? This was an inevitable evolution away from the scrum and filmed-entertainment-oriented focus of so much of the Comic-Con energy. We’ve been saying for years that comics should fight back to get their share of the spotlight in their signature event, but for whatever reason — fatigue, etc. — it hasn’t happened. However, this should become a huge nightlife congregation for the comics people of Comic-con and a real rallying point for how the comics world is evolving has evolved into a part of the larger cultural landscape.

It’s also part of the Angoulême-ization of Comic-Con, with comics gradually taking over the whole town for the whole week.

It’s going to be fun.

More here.

* Slamdance is the indie/experimental film event that runs alongside the more mainstream-y Sundance, which itself started as an indie alternative to the Cannes Film festival and the American FIlm mMarket.

ABC and Marvel team up for Castle's DERRICK STORM

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Did you know that Disney owned Marvel Comics? You do now, as Marvel is putting out a licensed comic from the ABC show Castle, which stars nerdlebrity godhead Nathan Fillion as a mystery writer who also solves crimes. The GN will not be an adaptataion of the show, however, but a story about Castle’s best-selling character, Derrick Storm.

Tellingly, this will not be a periodical, but a standalone graphic novel, due in September, written by Brian Michael Bendis and Kelly Sue DeConnick with art by Lan Medina and a cover by Carlo Pagulayan.

In the past, Marvel avoided all but a very few licensed comics based on TV or movies — HALO being the most notable exception, from a video game — presumably because the licensing costs didn’t help the bottom line any. Obviously, CASTLE is also a Disney-owned property, so all the costs are probably in “Disney dollars.” Plus, by spinning out the fictional world, this comes under pure transmedia expansion.

There are a few other Disney/ABC properties that might make good comics — LOST: THE ADVENTURES OF HURLEY AND BEN anyone?

Marvel Entertainment and ABC Studios are proud to announce Castle: Richard Castle’s Deadly Storm, an all-new hardcover graphic novel inspired by the popular “Castle” television series.  This 112 page hardcover hits comic shops and bookstores everywhere on September 28th, 2011.  Fans can get a first look at the upcoming graphic novel, when Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) reveals the cover on “Knockout,” the Season Finale of “Castle,” MONDAY, MAY 16 (10:01-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
 
When viewers first met Richard Castle, he had reached celebrity author status with the success of his Derrick Storm mystery novels.  In an unprecedented collaborative effort between Marvel, ABC Studios and the producers of “Castle,” the adventures of Derrick Storm will be chronicled in an all new graphic novel from some of the most accomplished creators in the industry.  “I am honored and humbled to see Derrick Storm join the ranks of some of the greatest heroes of all-time,” said Richard Castle.  “Being a part of the Marvel family is a childhood fantasy come true for me.” 
 
Castle: Richard Castle’s Deadly Storm brings together a star studded cast of the best creators in the industry, including co-writers Brian Michael Bendis (Avengers, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man) and Kelly Sue DeConnick (Captain America And The Secret Avengers); interior artist Lan Medina (Fables); and cover artist Carlo Pagulayan (Planet Hulk).

            “We are incredibly excited to be partnering with marvel to bring Richard Castle’s early literary works to life,” said Andrew W. Marlowe, “Castle” creator/executive producer.  “It’s a great way to expand the Castle universe for all our fans.” 
 
The release of Castle: Richard Castle’s Deadly Storm marks the first adaptation, in any medium, of the Derrick Storm novels by New York Times best-selling author Richard Castle.
 
“It’s exciting to bring the Derrick Storm novels to life for the first time ever” said Axel Alonso, Marvel Entertainment Editor in Chief. “Whether you’re new to the world of ‘Castle’ or a long time fan, there’s something for everyone in Castle: Richard Castle’s Deadly Storm—and it’s the kind of book that reaffirms Marvel’s commitment to creating new fans of comic books.”

Weekend movie rewind: Silver Surfer, cat whisperer, Neil Gaiman's Doctor Who, Pirates III, etc.

If you follow our Twitter feed – and who doesn’t! – you know we’re been having lots of computer problems. We’ll share our exciting process when it’s finished, and hopefully successful (for the moment we have to use our travel backup) but it’s already taken up the whole weekend, which, what with FMB being out of town for a (from what we hear) very successful signing at Black Cat Comics in Salt Lake City, we slaved away all weekend with a steady background of whatever happened to be on the TV, giving us a chance to rewind with a fine selection of films from our nerd heritage collection and a few new gems as well.

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FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER
I did not think much of this film when it came out, but now it is pleasant and silly — as a Saturday diversion for children, it’s essentially harmless. Chris Evans does very well as Johnny, and I’m thinking he will go 3-for-3 for Marvel as an excellent Cap. The Thing sure is Saturday Morning-ready though.
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PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END
I DETESTED this movie when it came out, and smile a grim smile of satisfaction when the producers reveal that they knew all along that it didn’t make any sense. And it still doesn’t. I watched the first half hour of this, watched two other programs, and turned it back on and it was still going on without a single thing having happened, in terms of the emotional progression of the characters. I was struck once again by the sheer desperation and exhaustion of Gore Verbinski’s direction. But, Johnny Depp is hot. Would watch again.

ALSO: On TV the post-credits ending, which culminates the entire trilogy, isn’t even shown. FOR DVDS ONLY.

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THE CAT FROM HELL (Animal Planet)
Hipster LA musician/spiritualist Jackson Galaxy goes around helping people with their misbehaving kitties. Those hoping against all sense that there is some magic bullet that will train cats to be peaceful, tractable pets will be sorely disappointed. Galaxy basically comes in and tells owners how to fix their homes so the cat won’t destroy it and/or the owner’s peace of mind. “Oh would you mind totally changing your living room so it belongs to the cat? What’s that you say? You HAVEN’T completely remodeled your patio so the cat will be happy? What kind of monster are you?”

Any cat owner will be wistfully familiar with these “compromises.” “Fix my litter or I’ll pee in your bed!” Yep that’s how it goes, Tabby.

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Doctor Who: The Doctor’s Wife by Neil Gaiman
As a non-Who scholar, I only got about 10% of the references here, but I got a lot of the Gaiman touches, and the gist of it, and even I could see that this was an epic/seminal episode of Doctor Who, that even bought a tear to my eye. I understand people have been watching it over and over since it aired so I will let them have at it in the comments.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE WITH ED HELMS

Surprisingly wooden host. Even by today’s low standards I didn’t think this was a very funny episode. I did like “What up with that?” The highlight, of course was the live action Ambiguously Gay Duo with Jon Hamm, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell and a moray eel that had to be bitten on the nose. Watch and see what I mean! Jon Hamm as a superhero finally!

DAY TWO
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HOT ROD
Andy Samberg fills the Will Ferrell role here as a young naif who thinks he can jump a lot of buses to raise money to save his ailing stepfather. The step-dad is played by Ian McShane so that is all win. The cast — Bill Hader, Isla Fischer, Danny McBride — is contemporary comedy best quality and there is a lot of stupid sweet stuff here. But mainly Ian McShane.

I took a break to watch the ballgame, and 60 Minutes and then turned on…

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TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES
I liked this when it came out and still like it. I especially like the ending! Kristanna Loken. was a nice break from the usual foe. I didn’t think anything about it was too incredible but it didn’t insult my intelligence.

This was followed by…

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TOTAL RECALL

Needless to say, the highlight of the movie weekend. I’ve seen this movie a zillion times, but maybe it was this time which made me realize, more clearly than ever, that it was just a dream the whole time. Also: ’90s film women were so much more vivid and less cookie cutter than current film femmes. Can you see a Rachel Ticontin playing the lead in a movie these days? And the Sharon Stone/Ticontin fight was BRUTAL. ’90s movies were really into the whole Hong Kong vibe which had hand to hand fighting between actual people as opposed to today’s preference for CGI.

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SUPERMAN II
Without remembering the whole controversy over the Donner cut of this film, I can still say this is one of my FAVORITE superhero movies of all time, bested, perhaps, only by Spider-Mans 1 and 2. It looks gorgeous to this day — the need to shoot actual things instead of just animate them made for much more interesting shot composition than most CGI movies can handle. For instance, the awkward by today’s standard flying sequences of the Kryptonian bad guys allows close-ups of their faces. In a CGI film it would be little cgi people flying around — much less characterization. I only watched the middle third of this, but the scene where Superman gets beaten up by the diner bullies is always a shocker. And Christopher Reeve’s performance is unsurpassed in a superhero.
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Then FMB came home and we had to watch the cat show again.

BTW I seem to be dumping on CGI a lot here, but there is such a tendency to let giant set pieces — a woman exploding into a ship full of crabs — take the place of story developments. That and the onerous hegemony of turquoise and orange film grading give the current style a lot of sameness, to my eye.

Winner of the Weekend: Doctor Who, Ambiguously Gay Duo

Loser of the Weekend: PIRATES III — that is still a horrifying movie in every way.

Indie Month-to-Month Sales: March 2011


by Matthew Murray

IDW’s new Godzilla series grabbed the top spot this month, knocking The Walking Dead from their throne after only one month. Meanwhile Dark Horse released a Dollhouse comic based on the Joss Whedon series of the same name, Dynamite launched a Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris comic with a “Risqué Nude Art” variant cover, and Boom! launched a Hellraiser comic.

Image had 5.45% of the dollar share and 5.09% of the unit share, IDW had 5.03% of the dollar share and 4.14% of the unit share, Dark Horse had 4.27% of the dollar share and 2.86% of the unit share, Dynamite had 3.02% of the dollar share and 2.74% of the unit share, and Boom! had 2.09% of the dollar share and 1.66% of the unit share.

This month I’ve listed every “indie” (ie. non Marvel/DC) book in the top 300.

As always thanks to icv2.com and Milton Griepp for permission to use these numbers, which are estimates, and can be found here.

16. Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters (IDW)
03/2011: Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters #1 - 58,879

IDW offered one of the most ridiculous alternative cover offers ever for this book. If a store ordered 500 copies then they got a personalized cover of the store being crushed. Seventy five retailers took IDW up on this, leading to there being over eighty different covers! (You can see most of them here.) It was apparently IDW’s biggest print run on a comic ever, though Angel: After the Fall #1 did eventually ship more copies once you include the reprints.

Still, it was a massive success for IDW, and already other companies have offered similar variant cover deals.
[Read more…]