Nice art: Kevin Huizenga's The Body of Work

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After some time off, what things do is putting out some comics again. Here’s Kevin Huizenga’s comic from the CARTOON POLYMATHS program.

The comics day at BEA: Day 1 — Habibi and Wimpy Kid rule

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The first day of exhibits at this year’s BEA kicked off with a smaller floor space, and, as opposed to years past when the Diamond booth was the place to be for comics, found comics publishers scattered all over the floor — Archaia being the latest to move out, over to PGW. But wherever they were, comics seemed comfortable to be there.

The biggest GN buzz at the show was Craig Thompson’s six-years-in-the-making Habibi, which debuted with an ARC reprinting the first, ravishing chapter. Even a few pages in and the book is a mesmerizing fable of faith, love, sex, memory and the unknowable. In a half hour author spotlight with Calvin Reid (above), Thompson talked about a few of the themes of the books — it’s am amalgam of the mystic traditions of Christianity, Islam and Judaisim, all bound up in a love story and the storytelling tradition of the Arabian Knights. Even the single chapter shows a level of detail and artistry that makes the six-year-wait worth it.

Elsewhere, there were fewer revelations as GNs long ago became part of the book world. The question is more where the book world in general is going. This morning’s announcement Amazon hiring publishing world bigshot Larry Kirschbaum to head up their publishing efforts was a shot across the bow of paper publishers. The new Nook was another big story, and epublishing in general is where the buzz was found.

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The biggest comics publishers were not even represented. Viz, distributed by Simon & Schuster, was a no show. Marvel and DC’s character were everywhere in the licensing sense, but the actual publishers were nowhere to be found on the floor. Disney had a display of their kids books featuring Marvel characters, including some beautifully illustrated origin books. DC was represented by a WB licensed ad in PW’s show daily, but otherwise kept a low profile.

Probably the biggest GN at the show isn’t even a GN: a giant snow globe at the Abrams booth teased this fall’s fifth Wimpy Kid book, whose name will be revealed very soon.

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For those of you going to BEA, tomorrow I’ll be interviewing Bill Willingham about his wonderful new kids novel Down the Mysterly River at 10:30 am at the Midtown Stage! Rise and shine.

Wonder Woman: What happened and why she is wearing shorts

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Since the announcement that Wonder Woman pilot had not made NBC’s schedule, there has been no dearth of analysis about what it says about Wonder Woman, about us, about women, about…EVERYTHING, dammit. The Wonder Woman pilot getting dropped may just be the most significant event of our time!

First off, a picture of the variant “shorts” costume has been making the rounds. Would showing a bit more thigh have tipped the balance for the show? Probably not. With Wonder Woman nothing can ever, ever be simple.

A particularly annoying (to fans of Wonder Woman) piece in EW, exemplified this, by conflating her with everything:

She is the most famous female superhero, and there is every reason to be proud of the fact that she is considered an equal to Superman and Batman. But she also perfectly represents a whole assortment of fundamental problems with the treatment of women in comic books. Let’s not forget: The mainstream comic world is dominated, in readership and authorship, by men.


DC Women Kicking Ass, has pretty much fisked this entire piece.

And the idea that Wonder Woman’s story can’t be compelling? The number one movie at the box office this weekend was a superhero who is a God. A superhero who walks around with a giant hammer (as opposed to, say a lasso) that spends time in both “man’s world” and in the the world of the Gods.

Why is Thor so easy to get to screen, but Wonder Woman is reduced to a television drama by David E. Kelley where she’s a superhero but also a female who worries about her body and pines for her boyfriend? Why when that treatment fails do the stories focus not on the execution but on the character?
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Every time a male centric film fails, there’s another one right behind it. Superman Returns was a failure. You don’t read Entertainment Weekly writing about how his costume was the reason. The Hulk failed twice and is on its third take. You don’t see them writing about how his torn green pants are the problem or a metaphor? Of course not.


Or as Michael May put it so clearly yesterday:

If there’s a curse, it’s the tendency of writers to “figure out” Wonder Woman to death. Why can’t she just be a strong, confident woman who beats the crap out of bad guys?


Why indeed. Would is be painting with too broad a brush to suggest that WB’s long-term “Wonder Woman” problem has at its root the fact that a super-strong, noble female superhero is just not an idea most studio execs are conformtable with or confident in? Jill Pantozzi analyses WB exec comments on the failed pilot, and it’s mostly a vague sense of dissatisfaction.

When it came to the most talked about pilot they were shopping around, Roth said he thought Wonder Woman was a very “well crafted” pilot. “But after seeing the announcement of the NBC schedule, I now understand and agree with [NBC Entertainment Chairman] Bob [Greenblatt] that it doesn’t necessarily fit particularly well with their schedule,” said Roth, “As well crafted and contemporized as it was, it was a big and radical shift for viewers to embrace this new idea — and that may, to some degree, have had to do with why it didn’t make it.”


Of course it’s not just a star spangled Amazon who is baffling the boys of Hollywood. It’s female-centered movies in general, as this piece on the comedy BRIDESMAIDS points out — the movie, starring and written by Kristen Wiig, became something of a crusade for those who wanted to see more movies where women Do Things.

What’s motivating this campaign is simple: Hollywood studios do not make comedies for or about women anymore. Yes, they used to. As recently as a few decades ago, when comedy stars like Lily Tomlin, Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn stalked through theaters alongside supporting players like Teri Garr, Carol Kane and Madeline Kahn, bringing us movies that were sometimes sublime and sometimes disposable, but which had women at their heart. Think “Private Benjamin,” “9 to 5,” “Outrageous Fortune,” “Down and Out in Beverly Hills”…


It’s hard to think of the 80s and 90s as an enlightened time, but they sure weren’t as uptight about just letting women do things on screen. Even for Bridesmaids — which has thus far grossed a respectable $59,5 million at the box office — producer Judd Apatow has to add his own signature: a scene where the stars poops their pants.

Mumolo tells her that Apatow didn’t want any scenes where the characters just “sit and talk.” And both writers needed convincing to include a drawn-out, filthy scene that (spoiler) involves food poisoning and lots of poop.


When discussing Wonder Woman’s failure to launch, one other element must be mentioned: how it affects the budding DC Entertainment West Coast Wing, led by Geoff Johns. We’ve heard different takes on this: some say it was a little blow to his regime; others say he was unaffected, as he’s more hands on with Green Lantern.

Whatever the blowback, it looks like it will be a long, long time before Wonder Woman gets her own filmed spin-off. Luckily we’ve got some books by Greg Rucka, Gail Simone and George Perez to last us until hell freezes over.

Jack Kirby: "Nobody was in the mood to joke unless you hit a guy with a baseball bat."

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The notorious 1990 Comics Journal interview with Jack Kirby is now online in its entirety, and you can see what made it notorious. The 71-year-old Kirby was not shy about asserting his place in the creation of comics’ best known characters and at the expense of his collaborators.

KIRBY: Yeah, sometimes he did. Stan was a very rigid type. At least, he is to me. That’s how I sized him up. He’s a very rigid type, and he gets what he wants when the advantage is his. He’s the kind of a guy who will play the advantages. When the advantage isn’t his at all, he’ll lose. He’ll lose with any creative guy. And I could never see Stan Lee as being creative. The only thing he ever knew was he’d say this word “Excelsior!”


While this might seem a bit heavy, you have to remember where Kirby was coming from: For nearly 50 years, he’d been a never ending fountain of concepts and characters that power the comics industry to this day, but he never got the remuneration or credit that he saw other people getting, and his original art had been stolen — to be sold on the open market. It would have angered anyone.

As I look around at the way that comics are part of pop culture now, and comics creators are regularly seen on cable TV and at movie premieres, I invariably think, “I wish Jack had made it this far.” Kirby died in 1994, long before comics were anything more than a renegade medium, still treated with suspicion. Kirby would not have been the least bit surprised at the respect now afforded his chosen medium — he believed in it already and would have basked in the spotlight of adoration that — one likes to think — would have inevitably been cast on him.

Think of what he’d have to say about the THOR movie, for instance. Here’s Kirby’s comments in the 1990 interview:

GROTH: Some of the Asgardian landscapes, it seems like you must have taken great joy in…
KIRBY: I did. I took a great joy with inventing new kinds of mechanisms. I invented new kinds of machines. I’ve been a student of science fiction for a long, long time, and I can tell you that I’m very well-versed in science fact and science fiction. I’m 71 years old, and so I’ve seen all this new conception. I used to read the first science fiction books, and I began to learn about the universe myself and take it seriously. I know the names of the stars. I know how near or far the heavenly bodies are from our own planet. I know our own place in the universe. I can feel the vastness of it inside myself. I began to realize with each passing fact what a wonderful and awesome place the universe is, and that helped me in comics because I was looking for the awesome. I found it in Thor. I found it in Galactus.

Piskor's Color Chart of Yore points out how awful most comics coloring is

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Ed “Wizzywig” Piskor has created a Photoshop version of the famous 64-color chart used to color comics up until the advent of computer coloring and scanning in the ’80s.

It is, as he points out, rather than a crippling limitation, an invitation to actually think about color:

Anyhow, the color work that I’ve always responded to positively seems to share the similarities of operating within a select palette of color. With this sparse set of colors, the artist is forced to be pretty inventive and has to put some thought into his choices. The mind isn’t boggled by the “candy bowl” effect of seeing too much information at once. This goes without saying, but a consistent palette also creates a cohesion throughout an entire work which helps to pull the story together as one unit ( I have seen comics where The Hulk was 10 different shades of green throughout).


It isn’t much discussed, but surely the badly, rendered pseudo-CGI coloring that saps all drama from the art by removing the artist’s pencilled intentions is as responsible as anything for the gradual erosion of support for mainstream comics.

Piskor links to a piece by Gene Fama that covers this same topic.

Modern comic colorists, however, don’t need more building blocks. They need damage control. Colorists should be doing much, much less. They’re using too many colors, too much ink, too many effects. Comics look sleazy and grotesque with all their phallic airbrushing, cheesy transparency effects, and modeling. As Miles once told Monk, today’s colorists need to “just sit out” more.


Fama offers a few examples that show what he’s talking about:
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Hard to argue with.

Webcomics watch: Donna Barr's A LITTLE DEATH

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Donna Barr is one of the more eccentric cartoonists to come out of the whole self-publishing movement — her signature book, DESERT PEACH, is about gay Nazis, for instance. Currently she’s working on a webcomic called A LITTLE DEATH, which illustrates readers’ written comments on how they think they’ll die. Like we said — fun, but a little weird.

Menu leaves L'Association

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Jean-Christophe Menu, a founding member and driving force behind the French art comic powerhouse L’Association, has left the organization following a series of shake-ups and disruptions, including a workers strike. Bart Beaty has the best analysis of what it mean for L’Asso, Menu and French comics in general.

Some will say, with some justification, that L’Association is now dead. Though L’Asso was never a one-person show, Menu was their most public face and active participant. Can they soldier on without him? Yes. The issue will be how, and to what direction.


Beaty compares Menu’s place in L’Assoc to Chris Oliveros at D&Q or Groth or Thompson at Fantagraphics — a key man without whom nothing will be the same. Menu plans to start his own publishing venture, and L’Asso will go on with such folks as David B, Killofer and Trondheim on the board, but Beaty’s overall assessment is pessimistic: the French indie comics market is dicey at the moment, and the upheaval is severe. Read the whole piece for the whole picture.

Mike Dawson unveils cover for TROOP 142

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Cartoonist Mike Dawson has revealed the cover for TROOP 142, his Boy Scout epic coming out from Secret Acres this fall. The book will debut at SPX.

TROOP 142 ran as a webcomic and follows a group of Boy Scouts on a retreat in 1995 and the things they learn about boyhood, manhood, and more. It’s an excellent story, without sentiment, and has already won an Ignatz as Best Online Comic.

BOOM! debuts Stan Lee app

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It seems that standalone apps for authors and imprints and licenses are now the way to go on digital devices. BOOM! has just announced a new Stan Lee app for iOS devices that will includes the digital version of Stan’s BOOM! books, including SOLDIER ZERO, THE TRAVELER, and STARBORN. As the PR mentions, this is part of “BOOM! Studios’ aggressive digital comics strategy to offer their entire frontlist and backlist of titles for download across multiple mobile and desktop platforms.” So there.

BOOM! Studios, one of the top publishers of graphic novels and comic books, announced today the immediate availability of the new free Stan Lee BOOM! Comics App for iOS mobile devices! The app will showcase the digital versions of legendary comics creator Stan Lee’s superhero comic series, SOLDIER ZERO, THE TRAVELER, and STARBORN. In addition, the titles can be downloaded for iOS through the BOOM! Studios Comics App.

Fans can also download these series through all major digital comics vendors, including ComiXology, Graphic.ly, iVerse, and MyDigitialComics, for desktop (Windows, MacOS) and mobile (iOS, Android) platforms. SOLDIER ZERO, THE TRAVELER, and STARBORN debuted last fall from one of the comic book industries greatest creators, Stan Lee, in association with his company, POW! Entertainment!

Today’s announcement marks a major foray into the digital comics space by Stan Lee. Lee is a National Medal of Arts Award winner and created the superhero mainstays that populate the House of Ideas, Marvel Comics, including SPIDER-MAN, IRON MAN, THE X-MEN, THE HULK, DR. STRANGE, DAREDEVIL, THE FANTASTIC FOUR, and THOR, among many others.

“What’s great about releasing this app is that it enables us to bring the joy and wonder of comics to the mobile fan and a whole new generation of readers,” said Lee. “Comics are a medium that transcends age, appealing not only to today’s young readers, but older ones as well. And by giving them an unprecedented level of access, we’re ensuring that the fantastic stories, characters, and worlds found only in comics will endure for many years to come.”

The move comes as part of BOOM! Studios’ aggressive digital comics strategy to offer their entire frontlist and backlist of titles for download across multiple mobile and desktop platforms. Last year, they announced the BOOM! Studios App as well as partnerships with comiXology, Graphic.ly, iVerse, and MyDigitalComics to offer high-resolution, easy-to-use digital versions of BOOM!’s most popular titles, including the Eisner and Harvey Award-nominated IRREDEEMABLE, DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP?, and DRACULA: THE COMPANY OF MONSTERS. The digital comics experience gives readers access to BOOM! Studios’ diverse catalog right at their fingertips. The BOOM! Studios Comics app is available for free download in the iTunes App Store.

“With the easy accessibility of digital comics, we’re excited to be able to turn everyone with a computer, iOS, or an Android device into a lifelong comics fan,” says Chip Mosher, marketing director, BOOM! Studios. “Anyone who’s ever been curious to try comics now has the power to read them instantly with just a click of a button. So what better way to experience comics for the first time than by reading all-new series from the master of the medium, Stan Lee!”

Developed by iVerse Media in association with BOOM! Studios, the all-new Stan Lee BOOM! Comics App features direct access to Lee’s Twitter feed and keeps readers up-to-date on all the latest digital releases from him and BOOM! Studios. Both the Stan Lee BOOM! Comics App and the BOOM! Studios Comics App are available absolutely free in the iTunes App Store. Singles issues of all comics cost $1.99 with a free preview of every first issue of SOLDIER ZERO, THE TRAVELER, and STARBORN available from every vendor.

SOLDIER ZERO debuted in October 2010 written by Paul Cornell (DOCTOR WHO) and drawn by Javier Pina (MANHUNTER, SUPERMAN). Dan Abnet and Andy Lanning currently write the series with the next installment SOLDIER ZERO #8 in stores 6/15/2011.

THE TRAVELER launched in November 2010 written by Mark Waid (IRREDEEMABLE, KINGDOM COME) and drawn by Chad Hardin (SPIDER-MAN). The series is currently written by Mark Waid & Tom Peyer with The Traveler #7 hitting store shelves next Wednesday 5/25/11.

STARBORN premired in December 2010 written by Chris Roberson (SUPERMAN, iZOMBIE) and drawn by Khary Randolph (THE ADVENTURES OF SPAWN). STARBORN #7 will available in stores 6/8/11.
 

SCOOP! First look at Twilight The Graphic Novel Volume 2 cover

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Lots of book news today as the BA, the biggest domestic book show of the year, has kicked off this week. Here’s the announcement for part 2 of TWILIGHT: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL. Illustrated by Young Kim, the first part of the adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s sensational vampire tale sold 66,000 copies in one week and had a 350,000 first printing.

Yen Press has provided us with a sneak peek at the cover to Volume 2, featuring dreamy Edward Cullen, as portrayed by Kim.

PR Below.

Yen Press, the graphic novel imprint of Hachette Book Group, announced that it will publish the eagerly-awaited second volume in the graphic novel adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight on October 11, 2011. Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 2 will be released as an e-book and in hardcover for $19.99 ($22.99 CAN) with a first printing of 350,000 copies.

A visually arresting retelling of the story that has captured the hearts and minds of countless fans, Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 2 contains selected text from Meyer’s original novel with illustrations by the talented Korean artist Young Kim. Kim’s unique artistic style which combines Asian and Western comic techniques are showcased in this black-and-white graphic novel with color interspersed throughout. Meyer consulted throughout the artistic process and had input on every panel.

“Knowing how beautifully Young Kim rendered the Twilight universe in the first volume, I couldn’t wait for this next one,” remarked Meyer. “Her illustrations of characters and settings gorgeously capture the world and are very close to what I saw in my mind’s eye while writing Twilight.”

Kurt Hassler, Yen Press Publishing Director, commented, “The first volume of the Twilight graphic novel was an utter phenomenon in the category, and the reception by Stephenie’s fans was absolutely overwhelming. It’s an incredible testament to the collaboration between Stephenie and Young Kim, and we cannot wait to be able to put the second volume into the readers’ hands!”

Stephenie Meyer has become a worldwide publishing phenomenon. The Twilight Saga’s translation rights have been sold in nearly 50 countries and 116 million copies have been sold worldwide.

MeCAF 2011: Out to Sea

BY JEN VAUGHN

The Maine Comics Art Festival gains momentum with each passing year like the gentle fog typically shrouds the city. The Saturday night before the show started out just right with a stop off at Casablanca Comics. The store is situated in downtown Portland next to Dobra Tea, the take-your-shoes-to-sit-on-pillows type of place, and an honest-to-Batman record store.

Shelli Paroline, Jesse Lonergan, Zack Giallongo and Nomi Kane enjoy the selection

The atmosphere was not only welcoming but owner Rick Lowell had put up window and bookshelf displays featuring the comics of MeCAF cartoonists. The cute hand-drawn signs even let the customers know they could meet the creators at the convention.

Rick and Zack Giallongo (who drew the con poster in back) pause for the camera.

Next, the con set up a tour of local beer brewing company, Shipyard. This was hopefully not comment on the lifestyle of cartoonists but merely in walking distance of the major hotels MeCAF reserved and the con location itself. We all know that had the tour taken place at a coffee roasting company, everyone would have been just a pleased but no one would have gotten any sleep.

Left to right: Jesse Lonergan, John Platt, Marek Bennett, Morgan Pielli, Nomi Kane, Steve Seck, Sarah Lindo, Cathy Leamy and that Zack guy again on the tour, which was smartly done at the beginning of the evening. Stairs are like a sobriety test in a bar.

Mort Todd and Rick Parker darken the doorway.

On the day of the con, Sunday was as chilly as they come. Given that the Ocean Gateway has two large conference buildings on a long pier, attendees found themselves lining up outside the first building and plenty of signage directing them to the next building.

Local artist Corey Olmsted of Maineland Studios and a tired booth babe

At first it was hard to determine where the many workshops, readings and portfolio reviews would take place. A lovely woman and her three boys thought I was some sort of authority figure and followed me down some stairs, up an elevator and then down the same stairs again before we found the room. But before I could draw breath to complain to the googly-eyed eight year-old next to me, a volunteer ran up with more signage and a helpful smile.

Fellow reporter and cartoonist, John “Darling” Platt

As one of the special guests, Colleen AF Venable, gave a reading and drawing workshop around her Guinea Pig comic book series illustrated by Stephanie Yue (a proven delight for the young, old and everything in between). The children lapped up the silly voices of the readers and party hats passed around because how else are you supposed to call upon your muse to draw?!

Colleen AF could command a room of all but one little girl who is obviously a badass

The slow start of the con sped up as lunch time arrived. Kids marched in, recognizing cartoonists from the year before like Jason Viola “there’s the manatee man, Dad!” and I witnessed no less than two small thefts of comics made by Matt Aucoin and Nomi Kane. Kane’s new comic “Sugar Baby” narrates a story full of family, hope, and diabetes. Her diabetes bear with the appropriate test shot locations drew in many children.

This little girl went to market. This little girl walked away with a Nomi Kane comic.

The opposite could be said for Steve Seck‘s beer bottle character, Brownie, who showed up in a fancy dress tie. Seck told parents that if they let their kids watch the Simpons then his comic would be fine, which was a surprisingly small number.

Sarah Lindo and Steve Seck

Jesse Lonergan as well as many other cartoonists relied a lot on selling their kid-appropriate prints and sketch cards instead of their adult-themed comics. *cough* GrammarSex *Cough* Of course that didn’t keep adults from purchasing said books on sex, grammar, lady fluids, depression and the like.

David Yoder and Penina Gal of CCS

Some intrepid cartoonists like the Werewolf comics anthology (originating from CCS) took all the kids into consideration when they created TWO recent issues: Werewolf! 4 and Were Pups. The Center for Cartoon Studies held two workshops, one for their one-sheet comic magic taught by Caitlin McGurk and Betsey Swardlick while Robyn Chapman and Jon Chad conducted portfolio reviews for eager students.

Andy Runton‘s one break from signing books for kids

Another driving force at this convention drove in a few hours to get there: the Boston Comics Roundtable. With several anthologies out like the Inbound series and most recently the teaching anthology, Show and Tells, attendees had the pleasure of walking around and grabbing signatures from the cartoonists present.

Eric Boeker and Ron LeBrasseur of the Boston Comics Roundtable

Rick Lowell and his great group of volunteers made the 3rd Maine Comics Art Festival quite a draw. For most of the exhibitors, it was their second time in Maine and they definitely are returning for the con in addition to all the good food and entertainment around corner. With both the attendance and exhibitors numbers climbing, a lot of people are promising themselves to have “at least ONE comic suitable for kids” next year so I’ll be a-looking. They are the indeed the future of comics.

Jen Vaughn would like to thank Zack Giallongo for the use of his camera, you are a man among men. She will also miss her con buddy and best friend, Nomi Kane, as she is leaving for the West Coast. APE and SF Zine Fest better treat her right.

Archaia switches to PGW, publishes APES

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Archaia is making some moves, both with a new distributor — PGW — and its first illustrated novel, Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes.

Buried in a PR on the Ape book is the news that Archaia is leaving Diamond for PGW, which already distributes Cartoon Books. PGW distributes over 100 independent publishers, so picking up a few GN publishers makes sense. And Archaia’s new books-only plan is also a good bit for a books-only distributor.

As for the APES book, it’s a new retelling of untold tales of what went on in the original film, and features art by a bevy of stars, and a cover by Jim Steranko–SCORE. Already remade in 2001, a NEW PLANET OF THE APES film is due this year starring James Franco, Frieda Pinto, and Tom Felton.

Written by celebrated author, artist, and digital producer Andrew E.C. Gaska, and adapted from a story by Gaska, Rich Handley, Christian Berntsen and Erik Matthews, Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes recounts what happened between the scenes of the classic 1968 Twentieth Century Fox film, centering on the astronaut John Landon, Chimpanzee scientists Dr. Milo and Dr. Galen, and Gorilla Security Chief Marcus. The book contains 30 full-color paintings and another 19 black and white illustrations, including a cover by legendary artist Jim Steranko (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and interior art from some of the top talent in the industry, including renowned book cover painter Ken Kelly (Conan, KISS), Joe Jusko (Savage Sword of Conan, Tarzan), Sanjulian (Eerie, Vampirella), Mark Texiera (Ghost Rider, Wolverine), Leo Leibelman (Heavy Metal), Matt Busch (Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica), Brian Rood (Indiana Jones, Star Wars), Tom Scioli (Godland), David Hueso (G.I. Joe: Storm Shadow) and newcomers Dan Dussault (Critical Millennium) and Dirk Shearer (Mice Templar).
 
Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes marks an expansion of Archaia’s successful collaboration with Gaska, following up on his science fiction comic epic, Critical Millennium: The Dark Frontier, which has received early critical acclaim.
 
“It means a lot to have this project be set for release and we cannot think of a better partner to have than Archaia with their outstanding production value,” said Gaska. “It’s been a great working partnership with 20th Century Fox and an honor to contribute to this legendary franchise.”
 
Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes also marks Archaia’s first venture into prose books.
 
“We’re very excited about our first foray into prose fiction publishing, particularly being able to work with a brilliant creative talent in Drew Gaska and a storied franchise like Planet of the Apes. I’m a huge fan of the original film and Conspiracy is a great example of an author playing successfully in an established narrative canon. We are very excited to introduce this extraordinary science fiction release across the book trade and genre markets and look forward to Conspiracy emerging as one of the year’s most talked-about titles,” said Mark Smylie, CCO of Archaia.

Borders' April: $132 million in losses

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Borders’ woes continued in April as their losses mounted, PW reports.

Borders lost more money in April than it did in March, according to statements filed with the bankruptcy court Friday. The company had a loss from continuing operations of $32.1 million in the month, and when reorganization costs are added in lost a total of $132 million. Sales in the March 27-April 30 period were $101 million and other revenue of $72.1 million making for total revenue of $173.1 million.


Borders filed for bankruptcy earlier this, closed a bunch of stores, and is still bleeding cash, thanks to years of mismanagement.

Meanwhile, as if to thumb its nose at Borders, which is desperate for a sale, B&N just got a $1 billion purchase offer from Liberty Media.

Todd Klein's new print features art by Steve Rude

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Lettering lord Todd Klein has not only won more awards for lettering than any other living human, he’s created six striking limited edition prints in collaboration with Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Alex Ross, J.H. Williams III, Mark Buckingham and Bill WIllingham all of which are available on his site. . All the prints feature Klein’s masterful lettering with original words or art by his collaborators, each with a rough alphabetical theme.

He’s just announced a SEVENTH print, this time in conjunction with Steve Rude, entitled “Hope” and depicting Pandora.

Pandora has just opened a box she was not supposed to open, releasing a swarm of Troubles into the world. Last to emerge is the spirit of Hope. In text from the retelling of the myth by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hope says, “I was packed into the box to make amends to the human race for that swarm of ugly Troubles, which was destined to be let loose among them. Never fear! We shall do pretty well in spite of them all.”


The text includes the Hawthonre quote and part of a poem by Emily Dickinson.

The prints go on sale on June 1, signed by both Klein and Rude. The price is $20 but Klein is donating $2 from each sale to the American Red Cross — so you get to help some folks, as well.

And yes, Todd tells us, the letter “G” is coming.

One reader's story of getting into comics

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Because that last item was a little gloomy, here’s Anita Olin’s story of how she got into reading comics, from tis month’s Sequential Tart:

My late entry into college was armed with comic books and Star Wars, and when I could get away with it, that’s what my papers and essays were about: comics as literature, Star Wars and the Hero’s Journey, comics and censorship, literary criticism of comics …. Of course, I became a Buffy fanatic too. That one is my sister’s fault; she insisted on showing me James Marsters as Spike when there was talk of Nicolas Cage playing John Constantine. Finally, the depth of the show hit me, and, really, vampires and a superpowered heroine — what better combination could there be? Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore and Joss Whedon are my own personal Holy Literary Trinity.


See. There are always entry points. And new people.

Marvel attempts to convert THOR viewers to comics readers — results are mixed

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Do successful comic book movies create new comics readers? As the “Watchmen Principle” demonstrates, when a movie is based on a finite graphic novel or series, the answer is yes. When it is based on an ongoing 50 year saga, the results are not so clear.

CBR’s Greg Hatcher chanced upon a display of bagged comics at his CostCo which showed that Marvel had put together a product that seemed to be aimed at people who liked THOR and wanted to know where to go next: A photo-cover of hunky Chris Hemsworth as Thor graced the front of the package and an assortment of alluring titles lurked beneath.

Or was it alluring?

It was when I settled in to read them that the wheels came off the wagon. The Thor story was chapter one of Fraction and Coipel’s “The Galactus Seed,” featuring not just Thor but also the Silver Surfer. It seemed like a well-crafted piece, but the story sure wasn’t any kind of introduction or jumping-on place for a new reader. At times it was a pretty hard slog even for me to figure out what was going on, and I’ve been reading Thor comics off and on for forty years.


While Hatcher’s puzzlement is kind of blogger standard, he

does it one better

by taking the comics to his cartooning class for kids, providing a kind of focus group testing that only other CBR writers seem to be engaged in lately:

As I suspected, the students who took me up on it were my hard-core geek kids, the ones who sign up for cartooning just to wallow in being around comics at school. Troy lunged at Captain America, Eileen took Thor, and Josh got the X-Men.

A minute later Troy was back. “This isn’t Captain America,” he said, scowling. “And it’s part two. Shouldn’t it be part one?” He was clearly disgusted. His face had the same expression you have when you’ve fallen for someone’s practical joke.

Troy was so annoyed he decided he didn’t want to do a review, and handed it back to me. Niko reviewed it instead.


*sigh*

This is a real dilemna for Marvel and DC. The only way to be successful in the direct market is to flog their characters to their existing fanbase. But those comics don’t seem likely to bring in new readers?

What to do?