Ashes Gets Funded on Kickstarter – #7 Most Funded Comics Project

By Todd Allen

Alex de Campi and Jimmy Broxton proposed a $27K project on Kickstarter.  “Ashes” is a sequel to de Campi’s and Igor Kordy’s 2005 Eisner-nominated mini-series Smoke (published by IDW).  This 250 page graphic novel is one of the most ambitious projects in terms of the dollar amount of the goal in the comics category on Kickstarter.  Ashes has now reached it’s funding goal and is sitting at 101% funded at $27,285 in funding with 11 days to go before the funding period ends.

If you go to the “Most Funded” page for comics projects on Kickstarter and disregard the Harvey Pekar statue as not actually being a comic, that would place ashes as the #7 most funded comic project.  #6 if you regard the Transmetropolitan art book as not being comics.

Aside from such a large upfront goal funding an original graphic novel, Ashes is also significant for being the first Kickstarter project to offer retailers a chance to participate and get discounted copies of the graphic novel for sale in stores.  As of this writing, it looks like 11 retailers have participated.  A small start for a new practice of cutting and the distributor and merging Direct to Consumer with Direct to Retail fulfillment.

Also of note is the appearance on that same “Most Funded” page of The Unprofessionals – A Graphic Novel of Sociopathic Bromance.” This 6-issue mini-series and accompanying graphic novel, fronted by Stargate actor Alexis Cruz, asked for a massive $30K in funding and ended up with $30,477 off a mere 153 backers.  Yes, that does include one pledge in the $3K+ category.

Crowdfunding is looking more real all the time.

Bendis Exiting the Avengers; Dark Reign Redux and X-Men Vs. Avengers on the Way Out.

By Todd Allen

These days, it seems like three years on a title is a good run.  Brian Michael Bendis is calling it a day with eight years on the Avengers titles.  In an interview with Comic Book Resources, Bendis says:

“I’m going to wrap up ‘Avengers’ and ‘New Avengers.’ At the same time the first storyline of ‘Avengers Assemble’ will be done,” Bendis told CBR. “It’s a good time to move on to other things. Before I go, though, I’m ending things big. I’m in countdown mode. You know when you’re watching a show like ‘Breaking Bad,’ and every episode feels like the second to last episode? That’s where I’m at. I’ve been on the Avengers longer than anybody in the history of the book. When you take everything into account, I’ve written over 200 issues. I’m very, very proud of that, and what we have coming up this summer gives me the opportunity to go out on a high note. I know enough about showbiz to know that’s a great time to go.”

Looking back at his time on the Avengers, one word comes to mind: events.  The two things that immediately popped into my mind were Secret Invasion (Bendis spent a lot of time laying the ground for it before the actual series) and Dark Reign.  Upon closer examination, throw in the mini-event of Avengers:Disassembled, which led directly into House of M.  The New Avengers hiding out during Civil War.  The Bendis Avengers run really has been the spine of Marvel for the bulk of the last seven years.

This is not to say everyone was enchanted by the Bendis Avengers.  Plenty of fans didn’t think they actually _were_ Avengers comics.  This is not an entirely invalid viewpoint.  Bendis did his own thing, with his own flavor on Avengers.

There are at least 3 things on the Avengers plate for 2012.  First off, Norman Osborn has just returned and re-taken command of H.A.M.M.E.R.  Thus far, the current storyline appears to be a redux of Dark Reign, but without crossovers into all manner of other titles.  Actually, the launch of this arc has been more lively than things have been in a while.  (Neal Adams on the point one issue didn’t hurt.)  The endcap to the Bendis run will almost certainly be the long-foreshadowed “Ultron War.”

In the middle of all this, Bendis is one of the cast of writers for Avengers Vs. X-Men, joining Jason Aaron, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman.  This is a 12 issue bi-weekly series, starting in April.  Actually, it’s probably really a 13 issue series, since Bendis is writing a zero issue for March.  The writers will tag off with each writing a couple issues.  The plotlines involve the return of the Phoenix Force and the return/redemption of the Scarlet Witch.  Interestingly, this would be wrapping up a plot element that’s been simmering in the background since Bendis had Wanda utter “No more mutants” in Avengers Disassembled and launched House of M.

At this point, it isn’t clear whether Avengers Vs. X-Men will be self-contained or cross over into the regular titles.  That will likely be revealed at a press conference scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.

Eight years is a good long run, and I’d agree with Bendis that ending with a high note is a good thing.  It will be interesting to see how he handles going from Osborn, a distinctly Bendis-era villain (in terms of the Avengers), to Ultron, a more classic villain.

In the last year or two, Bendis has been setting up a few more of his creator owned titles.  He’s effectively re-organized his long running Powers comic (which followed him to Icon/Marvel from Image), started Scarlet with Alex Maleev and more recently Brilliant with Mark Bagley.  While they aren’t monthlies, you could certainly see Bendis getting the itch to try some new things when he set himself up with three of his own titles.  That he’s changing his primary assignment shouldn’t be a shock if you noticed the increase in his Icon work.

Bendis made his name writing crime comics and then getting promoted to Ultimate Spider-Man and Daredevil.  The Avengers came later and came to take up a lot of his writing time, far away from the more ground-level perspectives he started out with (and has at least partially returned to in Scarlet).  It’s good for a change of pace and it will be very interesting to see what Bendis has in mind for his next act… although one imagines we won’t hear what’s next until summer at the very earliest.  We also wait to see who’s taking up the Avengers pen next.  (Expect a few Avengers purists to start lobbying for Dan Slott, who had a well-received run on Mighty Avengers a couple years back.)

Wanna see the Dark Knight Rises prologue?

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With rising excitement for next year’s THE DARK KNIGHT RISES trilogy-ending Batman adventure, WB has announced that the full six-minute prologue to the film will be shown in 42 IMAX theaters in the US and the UK starting Friday, December 16. The footage is expected to be shown with MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL. Although going to see a Tom Cruise film may sound like an onerous proposition, it’s also the first live-action film directed by Brad Bird — who made THE INCREDIBLES and THE IRON GIANT — so hey, this may be an enjoyable field trip after all.

In a statement, director Christopher Nolan said, “Our experience on ‘The Dark Knight’ shooting and projecting IMAX 15 perf 65mm/70mm film was inspiring. The immersive quality of the image goes beyond any other filmmaking tool available, and in revisiting Gotham, we were determined to shoot even more of the movie in this unique format. Giving the fans an early look at an IMAX sequence is a great way to draw attention to what I believe will be an incredible way to experience our story when it comes out next summer.”

The prologue is expected to feature the bad guy Bane, played by Tom Hardy. Win, win, win!

Here’s the theater list:

Market Theatre City
Austin, TX IMAX Theater Austin Austin
Boston, MA Jordan’s IMAX Natick
Boston, MA IMAX 3D Theatre in Reading Reading
Calgary, AB Scotiabank Theatre Chinook 16 + IMAX Calgary
Chantilly, VA –
Washington, DC
Udvar-Hazy Center IMAX Chantilly
Chicago, IL Navy Pier IMAX Theatre Chicago
Des Moines, IA SCI IMAX Dome Theater Des Moines
Detroit, MI Henry Ford IMAX Dearborn
Edmonton, AB Scotiabank Theatre Edmonton + IMAX Edmonton
Harrisburg, PA The Whitaker Center for Science
& the Arts IMAX
Harrisburg
Houston, TX Houston Marq*e Stadium 22 + IMAX Houston
Indianapolis White River IMAX Indianapolis
Los Angeles, CA Irvine Spectrum 20 + IMAX Irvine
Los Angeles, CA RAVE 18 + IMAX Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA Ontario Palace Stadium 22 + IMAX Ontario
Los Angeles, CA Citywalk Stadium 19 with IMAX Universal City
Madison, WI Star 18 Fitchburg with IMAX Fitchburg
Miami, FL AutoNation IMAX Fort Lauderdale
Minneapolis, MN Great Clips IMAX Apple Valley
Montreal, QC Cinema Banque Scotia Montreal + IMAX Montreal
Nashville, TN Opry Mills Stadium 20 + IMAX Nashville
New York, NY Lincoln Square 13 with IMAX New York
New York, NY Palisades IMAX West Nyack
Omaha, NE Star Cinema 16 with IMAX Council Bluffs
Orlando, FL Pointe Orlando Stadium 20 + IMAX Orlando
Ottawa, ON Silvercity Gloucester + IMAX Gloucester-Ottawa
Palm Springs
(Los Angeles)
Desert IMAX Theatre Cathedral City
Philadelphia, PA IMAX & the Tropicana Atlantic City
Philadelphia, PA Tuttleman IMAX – Franklin Institute Philadelphia
Phoenix, AZ Arizona Mills 25 with IMAX Tempe
Providence, RI Providence Place 16 with IMAX Providence
Quebec City, QC IMAX Le Theatre At Quebec Quebec City
Sacramento, CA Esquire IMAX Sacramento
San Antonio, TX IMAX at RiverCenter San Antonio
San Francisco, CA Metreon 16 with IMAX & ETX San Francisco
Seattle, WA Boeing IMAX – Pacific Science Center Seattle
Tampa, FL Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) Tampa
Toronto, ON Coliseum 12 Mississauga + IMAX Mississauga
Toronto, ON Scotiabank Theatre Toronto + IMAX Toronto
Toronto, ON Colossus 18 Woodbridge + IMAX Woodbridge-Vaughan
Vancouver, BC Colossus Langley + IMAX Langley
Vancouver, BC Silvercity Riverport 18 + IMAX Richmond

 

Below is a list of the theatres in the UK in which the Prologue of “The Dark Knight Rises” will be revealed on December 21st:

UK BFI London London
UK National Media Museum IMAX Bradford Bradford
UK Glasgow Science Centre IMAX Cinema Glasgow
UK Odeon Manchester IMAX @ The Printworks Manchester

Brian Wood on digital vs brick and mortar: "Everyone is bleeding."

Responding to last week’s Dark Horse vs the retailers controversy over the price of Dark Horse’s simultaneous digital release, writer Brian Wood has summed up the very hard rock and very rocky hard place that we all find ourselves in. While acknowledging that no one wants to see their local comics shop go under, he says for creators, it is a rough time with big question marks everywhere:

I’ve had series cancelled recently.  I’ve had pitches rejected for financial reasons.  I’ve seen my editors laid off. I’ve taken page rate cuts (a LOT of us have).  My income from royalties have dropped.  Most comic shops don’t carry my books.  I have very good reasons to suspect my career in comics may be drastically reduced in the near future. Things just plain suck, but I’ve taken these hits, figuring that everyone else is having hard times too.  I don’t mind bleeding a little, and one ray of hope has been digital, the potential it has to maybe, just maybe, keep some of us going through these lean times.  But like I said, we can never explore that potential to even just see if its there, as long as current pricing stay locked in.

So I’ll have to bleed a little more so that others can bleed a little less.  The problem with that, to really keep abusing this metaphor, is that eventually I’ll just keel over and die from it.

No sane creator, or publisher, wants to see comic shops hurt.  We all have emotional connections to them, to the idea of them, and we count owners and employees as personal friends.  We aren’t looking for digital to steal customers away from shops, but rather to be an additive thing, to be an additional source of income.  To simply switch a current print consumer to a digital consumer does not solve any problems!  It benefits no one at all.  It will not save us.


There’s more in the entire post, including how Wood hoped to make his print comics more premium for retailers. However, the key word that Wood uses is “additive” — the same word DC has been pushing since they started their digital advance. As we remarked yesterday — so far the digital audience does seem to be additive — the day and date New 52 was the hottest selling project of the last five years.

The pushback from retailers was strong and immediate when it looked like DH would be releasing digital comics at a LOWER price point than the print editions. One of them put it this way: “We have been Dark Horses loving boyfriend all these years and digital is the dude in the Camaro they are now putting out for.  Soon enough they will find out he can afford the cool car because he lives in his moms basement, oh, and he has genital warts and a tiny ****.”

Problem is…we do all love our retailer friends but they haven’t been able to grow the market for comics. That’s a fact. I love each and everyone of them but if things had been going well DC and Marvel wouldn’t have broken the glass on their last ditch emergency axes. Is a tiny, warty **** really the only thing we have to look forward to?
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The truth is that 14% of shoppers for this record Black Friday had a tablet on their wish list. The other items included a high def TV, a smart phone or a laptop.

Do you sense a trend there?

Each one of these devices is a potential platform for reading and paying for comics.

We have a feeling that when that **** gets unveiled on December 26th it may be a little bigger than expected.

Joe Harris Replacing Gail Simone on Firestorm

By Todd Allen

The season of writer changes continues at DC.  It’s been rumored for weeks that Gail Simone left her co-writing duties on Firestorm.  Today, DC confirms Simone’s departure and names Joe Harris her replacement.  Issue 7 will be his first.

In the greater scheme of things, Harris is probably best known to the world at large as the screenwriter for the horror film Darkness Falls.  In the comics world, Harris has done a little work for a lot of publishers.  Joker’s Asylum – Scarecrow and Battle for the Cowl: Man-Bat for DC.  Bishop, Slingers and X-Men: The Search for Cyclops for Marvel.  B.R.P.D and Creepy for Dark Horse.  Ghost Projekt for Oni.  Vampirella and the Scarlet Legion for Dynamite.

Yes, Bishop and Slingers were from the Bob Harras Marvel era.

Co-writer Ethan Van Sciver (who’s remaining on the book) will be drawing issues 7 and 8, then Yildiray Cinar will return and remain as the regular artist.

As for Simone’s status, DC puts it this way:

FIRESTORM’s co-plotter for the first six issues, Gail Simone will remain entrenched in DC COMICS-THE NEW 52, focusing her attention on the Gotham City exploits of BATGIRL.

Van Lente and Dunlavey summarize the history of superheroes in three panels

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How better to celebrate Fred Van Lente Day than with this gem by Ryan Dunlavey, his collaborator on Comic Book Comics, their history of comics comic.

For more Van Lente goodness, check out the first link for a preview of his book with Sarah Oleksyk.

Chris Pitzer's art stolen during BCGF

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The mostly triumphal (photos to come) Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival was marred for one indie comics stalwart when AdHouse publisher Chris Pitzer’s car was broken into and several art items stolen. The complete list is in the link — as Pitzer notes, it’s kind of unlikely that that thief was much interested in the art, but there is a reward for its return.

From reading the item it sounds like the car was broken into while parked at the hotel the Pitzers were staying at, which most people would think was a pretty secure place, alas. We kind of take New York as a playground for granted, but it’s s sad reminder that in these tough times people are increasingly desperate.

Please take a minute to look at the stolen items list.

Alan Moore joins David Lloyd on Occupy Comics project

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Alan Moore will contribute a prose essay to the Occupy Comics project currently running on Kickstarter. He joins David Lloyd on the roster of the project which will record the Occupy Movement in comics — their V FOR VENDETTA comic has been an inspiration for the protesters with the Guy Fawkes mask from the comics showing up around the globe.

Moore’s contribution will be a longform prose piece (possibly with spot illustrations) the content of which is still to be determined, but Moore has indicated he intends to touch on the principles of the Occupy movement and how those principles compare and contrast with the comics business in terms of corporate control of creative arts and also in terms of the superhero paradigm itself.

The project now reunites Moore with his V FOR VENDETTA collaborator David Lloyd, who joined the roster last week.

“Alan Moore and David Lloyd joining the project is really incredible not just because their creation from 30 years ago continues to inspire activists today, but because they themselves are inspired by the activists they helped influence,” said Matt Pizzolo, who spearheaded the organization of Occupy Comics. “It’s also impressive how careful they both are to join the coalition as part of the team, they want to support the movement and the project without being treated as de facto leaders.”

Uniquely, Occupy Comics is more than just a show of solidarity with the protesters: the collaborators are creating new art & stories inspired by the protesters and are actively fundraising for them – having already raised nearly $15,000 on Kickstarter with just days left to go.

This is the first project of its kind to bring together artists and writers inspired to create change by making art together and utilizing that art to financially support a social protest movement in an organized, sustainable way.

Updated Complete Roster
(in alphabetical order)
Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead)
Mike Allred (Madman)
Marc Andreyko (Manhunter)
Susie Cagle (Notes on Conflict, arrested at Occupy Oakland)
Mike Cavallaro (Parade (with fireworks), Life & Times of Savior 28)
Kevin Colden (I Rule the Night, Grimm’s Fairy Tales)
Molly Crabapple (Dr. Sketchy’s)
Tyler Crook (Petrograd, B.P.R.D.)
Vito Delsante (Superman, FCHS)
J.M. DeMatteis (Justice League, Spider-Man, Imaginalis)
Guy Denning (painter)
Eric Drooker (Flood!)
Troy Dye (Shrek, Puss in Boots, The Goblin Chronicles)
Joshua Dysart (Swamp Thing, The Unknown Soldier)
Zoetica Ebb (Biorequiem.com)
Joshua Hale Fialkov (I Vampire, Tumor)
Dan Goldman (Shooting War, 08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail)
Jenny “Devildoll” Gonzalez-Blitz (Coffin Factory art collective)
Brea Grant (We Will Bury You, Suicide Girls)
Zane Grant (We Will Bury You, Suicide Girls)
Joe Harris (Ghost Projekt, Spontaneous)
Dean Haspiel (American Splendor)
Joe Keatinge (Hell Yeah, Glory, Brutal)
Tom Kelesides (Shrek, Puss in Boots, The Goblin Chronicles)
Ales Kot (upcoming projects w/ Image Comics & DC Ent)
George Krstic (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Megas XLR)
Jonathan Swifty Lang (Feeding Ground)
Joseph Michael Linsner (Dawn)
David Lloyd (V For Vendetta)
Patrick Meaney (Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods)
Mark L. Miller (Luna, Nanny & Hank)
Caleb Monroe (Batman: Fearless, Hunter’s Fortune)
Alan Moore (V For Vendetta, Watchmen, Batman: The Killing Joke)
B. Clay Moore (Hawaiian Dick, Superman Confidential)
Jerem Morrow (Kingdom Suicide)
Amancay Nahuelpan-Bustamante (Hijos de P)
Steve Niles (30 Days of Night, Batman: Gotham County Line)
Ryan Ottley (Invincible)
Amanda Palmer (The Dresden Dolls)
Laurie Penny (Penny Red)
Matt Pizzolo (Godkiller)
Darick Robertson (Transmetropolitan, The Boys)
Steve Rolston (Ghost Projekt, Queen & Country)
Riley Rossmo (Proof, Cowboy Ninja Viking)
Douglas Rushkoff (Testament, media theorist)
Mark Sable (Two Face: Year One, Rift Raiders, Unthinkable)
Salgood Sam (Dream Life, RevolveR One, Revolution on the Planet of the Apes)
Tim Seeley (Hack/Slash, Witchblade)
Simon Spurrier (2000 AD, X-Men: Curse of the Mutants)
Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night, Fell)
Shannon Wheeler (Too Much Coffee Man)
Anna Wieszczyk (Godkiller, Lucid)
Ronald Wimberly (MF GRIMM: Sentences

)

Dark Horse clarifies day and date policy

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Evidently, due to some misunderstandings, Dark Horse CEO Mike Richardson has released a statement regarding the publisher’s imminent switch to simultaneous print and digital release: digital comics will be priced at $2.99 for the first month, dropping to the standard price of $1.99 after that.

You can read the statement below. While it’s obvious that keeping DH’s retail partners from mutiny is part of these decisions — DH also has a jacked-up digital price for a one-month window — it presupposes that the print and digital audiences are the same. There isn’t really any evidence that this is the case right now.

However, in the short term, digital sales will continue to be seen as a direct competitor to print. Like we said, we understand the concerns on both sides…it just doesn’t seem feasible for the unknowable, unseen future.

Dark Horse retail partners and fans,

You may have been surprised by our recent announcement regarding digital pricing. 

We apologize for the confusion and concern surrounding Dark Horse’s recent announcement of simultaneous release in print and digital. We want to make it clear that nowhere in our announcement (see below) did we indicate that our same-day digital pricing would be less than that of our physical books. Due to some miscommunication, there has been widespread speculation based on our current pricing model.

To clarify: We have chosen to release all new single-issue comics digitally for the price of $2.99 for the first month, dropping to our standard digital pricing of $1.99 after that.

Dark Horse values our retail partners and is grateful for the twenty-five years of business we’ve done together. We have considered the retail community in all of our digital decisions and look at direct-market shops as crucial to our continued success. With that in mind, Dark Horse will make every effort to keep our comics retailers strong in a changing market.

We continue to value everyone who both buys and sells Dark Horse products, and thank you for your support. All of you are the reason we are here today.

Mike Richardson

Marvel announcing "Phoenix" event on Wednesday

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Marvel has sent out an announcementfor some kind of event taking place on Wednesday at 3 pm EST. This is the event that has been coming for a while. Given the flame-like background with a bird-like figure in the middle, best guesses are that this is tied in to some kind of basilisk. Or possibly salamander. Or just possibly, maybe…a Phoenix!

Nice art: Drawing the Head and Hands by Andrew Loomis

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We were unaware that Titan Books has reprinted the highly sought after anatomy books by Andrew Loomis that have assumed a legendary status among classically minded cartoonists and illustrators. The Lines and Colors blog has a good write-up of the reissues and just why they are so prized:

The book goes into better detail than I have seen anywhere else on understanding the change in proportions that the human face and head undergo as we move from infancy through childhood into adulthood.
His section on hands brings similar focus to the proportions of the various parts of the hand, an understanding of the hand’s underlying geometry, and the distinction between the hands of the young and old, male and female.
In case I haven’t gotten it across, I can’t recommend these books highly enough for those learning to draw the human form without reference to a model. For those who are drawing from a model, you might be surprised how much a study of the Loomis construction methods can inform your drawings with an underlying strength and dimensionality.


Titan has already released facsimile editions of FIGURE DRAWING FOR ALL IT’S WORTH and DRAWING THE HEAD AND HANDS:


Next May they’re releasing SUCCESSFUL DRAWING.

According to reports, these editions are faithful facsimiles of the originals from the ’40s and ’50s — books that routinely go for hundreds of dollars on eBay or are quickly snatched from libraries. If you’ve been relying on crappy pdfs, these new editions should be a formally correct replacement.

Loomis has been cited as a big influence by Alex Ross and Steve Lieber; Steve Rude and Mike Baron named Admiral Loomis in NEXUS after him. It’s not too hard to see the huge influence of the whole “golden age of illustration” encapsulated in Loomis’s pleasing proportions and rounded lines, but it’s still awfully nice to look at.

Nice Art: Yoko d'Holbachie

 

d’Holbachie-Yoko:


 

20 Days of Christmas: Christmas in Duckburg

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Bully’s running theme this month is Christmas in Duckburg — nobody got into the holiday spirit better than Carl Barks!