Laika: The alternate endings

To help them celebrate their 25th Anniversary, metro Washington DC-based comics shop chain Big Planet commissioned cartoonist Nick Abadzis to create “The Alternative Endings to Laika Show” . As you may recall. Abadzis’s graphic novel LAIKA concerns the true like story of the Russian pooch who was shot into space in 1957…never to return, making her the space race version of Old Yeller. However in these comics there is …a different outcome. Click for MORE!

The ICv2 Comics, Media, and Digital Conference returns to San Diego

The day before San Diego Comic-Con really kicks off and the hours before Preview Night will once again be taken up with the Comics, Media, and Digital Conference run by Milton Griepp (And co-sponsored by The Beat). This year’s event will include the 2011 White Paper with figures on sales, growth and other matters of vital import. Panels include Comics in Hollywood, Digital and Transmedia and the future of paper and digital — registration information can be found here

The ICv2 Comics, Media, and Digital Conference, held in conjunction with SDCC, will bring together thought leaders from the comics, media, and digital worlds to discuss how the two most powerful trends in comics are shaping the future.  Speakers and panelists at the Conference will look at the state of comics now; how comics are being used in other media; how digital comics are interacting with the transmedia uses of comic properties; and a panel discussion on “Comics at Comic-Con 2013,” in which digital, retailing, distribution, and creator panelists will look ahead two years to answer key questions about the future of comics.

“Comics are changing more rapidly and in more profound ways than at any time since the mid-80s,” ICv2 CEO Milton Griepp said. “This Conference can help us understand and profit from the powerful forces that are transforming the industry.”

The ICv2 Comics, Media, and Digital Conference is sponsored by Publisher’s Weekly, Heidi MacDonald’s The Beat, and Media and Entertainment Technologies.

The Conference will be held at the Marriott next to the San Diego Convention Center on Wednesday afternoon, July 20th.  All four sessions of the Conference have now been announced, along with the initial slate of speakers:
 The ICv2 White Paper
This ICv2 White Paper will present a comprehensive look at the comics market and the trends in comics, their media uses, and digital distribution.
Presented by Milton Griepp, ICv2.
 Selling Comics in Hollywood—State of the Market
Panelists including Hollywood agents and managers discuss the market for comic properties in film, TV, and videogames—what types of projects are getting made, and why.
— Scott Agostoni, Agent
— Rick Jacobs, Producer and Manager, Circle of Confusion
— Nick Harris, Co-head of Media Rights, International Creative Management
Digital Comics and Transmedia Properties
Panelists from the comic and digital worlds discuss how awareness from other media is creating unique opportunities to sell digital comics to new customers, and how digital comics are being used to enhance interest and revenues in other media.
— Ted Adams, CEO, IDW Publishing
— Alvin Lu, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Viz Media
— Michael Murphey, CEO, iVerse
— Mike Richardson, CEO, Dark Horse Productions
Comics, Paper and Digital, at Comic-Con 2013
Our panelists look ahead two years to answer key questions about the future of comics. At Comic-Con 2013, what is a comic?  How do consumers buy them?  How are comics tied to other media?  And who were the winners and losers in the previous 24 months?
— Joe Field, President, ComicsPro; and CEO, Flying Colors
— Bill Schanes, Vice President, Diamond Comic Distributors
— David Steinberger, CEO, comiXology
— Mark Waid, Writer and Editor
Additional Information:
For more information on the speakers and panelists at the ICv2 Comics, Media, and Digital Conference, click here.
For more information on the ICv2 Comics, Media, and Digital Conference, including information for press interested attending, click here.

For registration information, click here


Grant Morrison: Seaguy’s my Watchmen


While everyone was quoting it at length last week, you can now read a transcript of The Mindless Ones’ epic Grant Morrison interview, in which he talked about his new book SUPERGODS, and other trifling things, like turning down the chance to write the WATCHMEN sequel, how Mark Millar destroyed his faith in human beings, and so on.

There is no way to excerpt this astral journal through one glorious madman’s mind, but here are a few choice bits;

On SEAGUY, his Aquaman-esque collab with Cameron Stewart:

Grant: No, Seaguy‘s my Watchmen, they’re all my Watchmen. He just did one and I do one a week!

For me the big breakthrough in Seaguy that only happened when I was at the end of the first book, and I realised that it was actually a story about a human life. As you know I always prefer to do stuff that’s symbolic rather than gritty and realistic. I suddenly realised that the whole notion of: you become aware of sitting across from Death, and Death says “Your move, Seaguy”. Kind of being born. And I suddenly noticed that Seaguy looked deformed and kind of foetus-like: the way Cameron [Stewart] drew him in those early issues, he’s very wan, very super-slight, but he fills up as the series goes on. I suddenly realised that the whole thing was a human life compacted into 9 issues. That’s what made it bigger for me.

The first one was almost something to make Kristen [Grant’s wife] laugh. A stupid, surrealistic thing, but then it became quite meaningful to me.

On writing SUPERGODS, which is a nonfiction history of both superheroes and Morrison’s career, with a few mystical interludes thrown in.

Grant: It was just that it took a long time and I was right in the middle of Return of Bruce Wayne and Batman and these things take a long time to do, and to have a book in the middle of – it got nuts. I was having these, what they call businessmen’s breakdowns, where you would have a complete mental breakdown but it would only last ten minutes like a DMT trip and just have to come back to normal baseline and get back to work, because if you didn’t it wouldn’t get finished. It was really quite interesting, at moments I was gripping the edge of the table and staring at the screen through tears [laughs]. I’m so glad it’s over. Right now I’m doing it with this film script I’m on, so…

On meeting Leonard Nimoy:

Grant: I totally freaked out, I was at one of those My Chemical Romance backstage things and Leonard Nimoy was sitting there, and my mother had encouraged me to be like Spock when I was a kid, it fucked me up. So I was encouraged to be completely emotionless and have pointed ears. So I’m faced with the actual, real Leonard Nimoy, and I’m down on my fuckin’ knees, and he looked at me like there was something desperately wrong with me.

Props to the Mindless Ones for transcribing this interview — recording the soft-spoken heavily accented Morrison is bad enough but when it’s from a mike by a speaker phone…really guys, what WERE you thinking? Have you ever heard of Skype?

We recall an incident back just before THE INVISIBLES ended when we sat down with Morrison (then living in NYC) for an intervew, and after a few moments realized that life would be too short to ever even thinking aqbout ranscribing the tape. Instead we sat in the sun and drank wine all afternoon. A better choice all around…although that tape must be around here somewhere….

Big Bang Comics coming back from Pulp 2.0 Press


Gary Carlson and Chris Ecker’s retro Big Bang Comics, a throwback superhero series published by Image in the 90s has been licensed by Pulp 2.0 Press for a new edition. If you liked the Zebra Batman cover we posted earlier today, you’ll like Big Bang, as it regularly included contributions from Golden Agers Shelly Moldoff, Mart Nodell, Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.

Pulp 2.0. Press is another retro publisher that puts out new editions of classic pulp material, including digital editions.

You can see how this would work out.

Pulp 2.0 Press CEO Bill Cunningham today announced that the company has acquired the publishing and media licensing rights to the library of work by creators Gary Carlson and Chris Ecker under their Big Bang Comics imprint.

This deal signals another expansion for the company’s library of graphic novels. “I’ve always loved the history and the classic sensibility of the Big Bang Comics characters like Knight Watchman, Ultiman, Thunder Girl and others that Gary and Chris have created.  I’m very pleased we have a chance to bring their work and the work of celebrated giants like Curt Swan, Murphy Anderson, Shelly Moldoff, and Marty Nodell out in collector’s editions that capture that four color fun we all enjoyed when we were kids.”

The company plans to issue their editions as showcases to each individual Big Bang Comics character by collecting all of that character’s work under one cover, and adding historical reference, essays and rare, behind-the-scenes photos, sketches, covers, and memorabilia.  Formerly published by Image comics, Big Bang made a reputation for itself as the place where comics were fun again by creating the classic comics work of BB giants like Tom King and Jack Kingler.  “Big Bang Comics is an example of the kind of of fun we want to inject back into book publishing,” said Cunningham.  “I grew up reading books like The Great Comic Book Heroes and Batman: From the 30’s to the 70’s.  Each Big Bang character deserves the same sort of presentation so fans old and new can read and appreciate both the comics and the history behind the company just like I did.”

“Big Bang Comics began in 1992 when Chris Ecker told me that he was tired of comic book publishers and art directors telling him that he drew like an “old guy” and that he was going to sit down and draw an old style comic book story and that I was going to write it.  We talked his idea over at a small comic convention in Elgin, Illinois where we both lived. Then we got Gary Reed  at Caliber Press involved as our first publisher and the rest is history. With Big Bang I got to write stories about the characters I had loved and even got to work with some of my favorite creators: Shelly Moldoff, Mart Nodell, Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson (they even signed it “Swanderson”!), Dave Cockrum and Rich Buckler, said Big Bang Creator Gary Carlson.

Big Bang Co-Creator Chris Ecker adds, “If the Golden Age and Silver Age creators had the opportunity to see their work available on “space aged” digital devices (like, say a Kindle or Nook), they’d have jumped at it. With Pulp2.0, we’re able to do things with our “vintage” comic universe that they could only dream–and write or draw–about. I also think there’s an untapped group of potential fans that aren’t familiar with Big Bang out there, and the digital and print on demand capabilities that our Pulp 2.0 partnership presents will allow them total access. “

Individual editions in Pulp 2.0’s Big Bang Comics Collector’s series will be announced as they become available.

The first editions are scheduled for 2nd quarter 2012.

Is Batman Live the musical Julie Taymor really meant to make?

Based on this trippy preview, we’d say probably.

This stage show opens July 19th in the UK, and arrives in America in 2012.

Via Kevin Melrose.

Reminder: Kids like comics


Kids’ comics remain one of the book segments that is still growing, and certainly for comics publishers, it’s a great way to get the younglings hooked so they will grow up reading comics. School Library Journal has a list of thirty-nine graphic novels that kids can’t resist:

The following 39 comics are titles that kids will actually want to read—without any well-meaning prompting from parents, educators, and summer reading lists. In other words, these are books that kids will read just for the joy of it.

The list for older grades seems a bit arbitrary, but the list for younger readers is a solid grouping of books that range from manga (CHI’S SWEET HOME) to epic (THE UNSINKABLE WALKER BEAN). Looking at the list also gives a nice snapshot of publishers who are committed to the younger crowd.

Along those same lines, Forbidden Planet spotlights one of the best selling comics of the decade the Babymouse Series by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm.

This is one of those books that slips under the normal radar of comic people, a new type of comics that bypasses the normal shops, is unmentioned by the comic press. And yet it sells. It sells by the bucketload. In that respect you can file it in the same category as things like Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries, Geronimo Stilton, Captain Underpants and others – hugely successful series, all with some comic elements. But Babymouse is proper comics.

BABYMOUSE has 14 volumes in print and just spun off into a new series, SQUISH THE SUPER AMOEBA.

IN addition to being one of the best selling graphic novels series out there, this is another example of WOMEN ARE ALREADY DOING COMICS — both series are written by Jennifer Holm. (Brother Matthew draws them.)

Nice Art: The Animal Alphabet Project

How on earth did we miss this until now? Ben Towle is putting together The Animal Alphabet Project, drawing of critters by cartooners. Above, the N is for Naked Mole Rat by Gabriel Hardman, below L is for Lynx by Henry Eudy.

Coolest Cowboys & Aliens tie-in: Hipstamatic lens pak

While CAPTAIN AMERICA’s sugartastic ice cream and donut tie-ins have been causing a lot of comment – and cavities — here’s a new comic book movie tie-in that is frighteningly hip: a lens/case pak for Hipstamatic, the trendy and addictive photo app for iPhones that produces instantly professional-looking photos thanks to filters and levels. Director Jon Favreauannounced it on Twitter:

The new Cowboys & Aliens Hipstamatic Freepack available now. @MattyLibatique and I oversaw the look. Let us know how you like it.

Libatique is the cinematographer responsible for C&A and the favored camera-man for Favreau and Darren Aronofsky.

Although Hipstamatic will set you back $1.99, the pak — consisting of two lenses and a themed digital “camera case” is free for those who already have the app.

We’re Hipstamatic addicts here at Stately Beat Manor, and you’ve seen our ABSOLUTELY AMAZING MUCH BELOVED photos using it here many times. What do you get in the new pak?

The MATTY ALN gives you weird green hues.


While the Libatique 73 gives you a sepia-toned look based on 19th century calotypes.


So one’s a Cowboy…and one is an Alien! Get it?

Props to Favreau and Co., for an imaginative marketing tie-in.

Crime watch: Batman and Smurfs

§ Okay, this one is so kooky it’s sure to be a staple of TRU for years to come: A copy of DETECTIVE #27 worth as much as $1 million may be sold off to pay for the defense of the woman accused of killing its owner.

Got that? The crime in question is the 2009 torture and murder of hotelier Ben Novack Jr., who happened to be a big Batman collector. His collection, including DETECTIVE #27, is about to be auctioned off.

But the plot thickens:

…in a perverse plot twist worthy of the Joker, the proceeds could go toward defending his 53-year-old widow, Narcy, against charges that she had Novack and his mother murdered, plundered his bank accounts, then tried to pin the crimes on her own daughter.

Only one thing now stands in the way of the auction: Narcy’s daughter, May Abad. On June 22, she persuaded a Broward County judge to hold off on the auction and give her at least 14 days to find suitable storage and insurance for the massive collection, stuffed floor to ceiling in rooms of his Fort Lauderdale house.

Abad often attended comics shows with her father, and has a sentimental attachment for the collection.

§ If that crime is a bit too venal, here’s a simpler one: a 13-year-old Belgian lad and his mom were nabbed when they attempted to make off with more than $800 in Smurf toys from a Ghent supermarket. The kid stuffed the Smurfs into his clothes while mom watched, but a surveillance camera caught the deed and the two were apprehanded.

Peyo’s little blue guys are still popular in the Francophile world — evidently these robbers did not get the memo that the upcoming Smurfs film signifies end times.

Kibbles & Bits, July 5, 2011 — from John Dee to Palmiotti

§ Remember when Alan Moore was going to collaborate with Damon Albarn for an opera about occultist John Dee? It sounded too good to be true and it was — the project fell apart over creative differences. However, Albarn has pressed on with the project, and the opera, now done with director Rufus Norris, just premiered:

“Dr Dee” is by no means a pure period piece. Mr. Albarn himself, in a leather jacket, sings as a smoky-voiced commentator and as Dee’s alter ego; the cast’s vocal styles are from opera and early music. Christopher Robson, who plays the deeply repellent scryer Kelley, is a countertenor. Every so often the music turns to a modern fusion, with chromatic dissonances or lush soundtrack strings; Mr. Albarn also draws some subtle connections between theorbo and West African kora, and between antiphonal Renaissance singing and Congolese pygmy polyphony. There’s one section in the second act that falls back, unfortunately, on the motoric arpeggios of Philip Glass.

§ Tim is still talking! This time with one-man studio Jimmy Palmiotti:

O’Shea: Given the variety of stories you are creating in a given month, how stressful is it to try to keep the creative output of a standard that pleases you, while still keeping your sanity?

Palmiotti: The stressful part comes when the actual script leaves my hands. There are scores of people out there … artists, colorists and even editors that think I worry too much about the product…but my argument is that although a ton of comics come out each month … anything I work on has to have a certain level of professional quality to it. I feel for the people spending their hard earned money on these books and thing we have to give them the best work we can each and every time out of the gate. It drives me crazy when creators are dismissive about the work and even worse when the people in charge forget that these are projects of passion. Justin and Amanda [Conner] will tell you that I can lose my mind from time to time, but I take it out on myself, not others. I treat every job like its my last and there is a price to pay for that … and my sanity can be that price…lol.

§ Everywhere you look, there are previews and advice on attending this year’s Comic-Con, and here’s one man’s Tips For Vloggers — a Vlog is a video blog, duh — and this advice is as basic as it gets.

1) Make sure you bring a camcorder! You can’t be a vlogger without a camcorder. If you’ve left your camcorder at home or in the hotel, you’re plans have been destroyed, and in away far worse than Darth Vader could do. So make sure you’ve packed your camcorder.

The piece gets more technical from there, so buckle up.

§ Tyrese Gibson has joined Isaiah Mustafa and Idris Elba as actors who are begging to play Luke Cage in a Luke Cage movie! Actually, Gibson has been talking about this for years! So many strong men so desperate! When is this going to happen? Comic on Mardisneyvel! Sweet Christmas! It’s about time.

But if they ever do make that movie, which Luke Cage should it be? it be the modern, normal-looking Luke Cage?

Or the guy with a tiara who doesn’t know how to button his shirt!

And who would be the best Luke? Tyrese? Idris? Isaiah?

Comics are awesome


That is all.


PS: Okay, we couldn’t leave it unmentioned that this cover by Sheldon Moldoff has everything that a comic book cover needs: a screaming Robin in the corner; a Batman who is so freakish and powerful that he is bending lamposts with his freakish power; tiny silhouetted men who flee in terror while exhibiting the perfect body language of flee-ers; and of course an innocent bysander whose hat is blowing off in shock at the awful sight before him—Batman, a menace to all with his zebraness.
Taken as a group, this would still be a perfect comic book cover — throw in a zebra Batman and you have hit the jackpot!