Nice Art: Lee Bermejo's BATMAN: NOEL

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Over at his blog Bermejo posted this two page spread from his best-selling GN BATMAN: NOEL. YOWZAH. Click for larger version or go to the link for full size.

You can also follow Bermejo on Twitter now.

Archie and Valerie sitting in a tree…

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Well, not content to merely sanction alternate futures, gay marriage, and the rights of the mentally challenged via Jughead, Archie Comics is following up on a storyline from last year with a rekindled romance between Archie and Valerie from Josie and the Pussycats— and another alternate future is on tap where Archie decides to marry Valerie.

Dan Parent, the writer and artist behind Archie’s new fling, tells USA Today that, “the fans can expect the next step in what I think is the most romantic story in Archie history.” Valerie’s return will give readers a glimpse at an additional future where she and Archie have wed. Could it turn out that Valerie is Archie’s one and only? Pick up Archie #631 and read on to find out!


Although this will seem like just another character stunt to 99.9, lest we forget, people are still getting kicked out of their churches for interracial dating. Not marriage — DATING. In this very day and age.

So…good for Archie!

CBLDF argues to keep book on the shelves of a Maine school library

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STUCK IN THE MIDDLE, the Ariel Schrag-edited look at middle school comedy and shame, isn’t a G-rated romp through age 13, but given its subject matter, how could it be? Instead, it’s an awful painful look at the most painful ages of all, told by 17 cartoonists including Schrag, Daniel Clowes, Joe Matt, and more.

It is potentially a little too rough for the Buckfield Junior-Senior High School Library in Dixfield, ME where one parent objected to the book being available, prompting a review by the school board:

Meanwhile, school board members were directed to read the pages in question, as well as the school district’s policy on challenging books.to read the pages in question, as well as the school district’s policy on challenging books.

The pages in question will remain confidential until the hearing, Ward said.

He said a committee that includes the school principal, the librarian, a classroom teacher and a community member have met to make a recommendation on whether the book should remain in the school’s library.

The board will decide whether to retain or remove the book at a January meeting.


The hearing on the books suitability takes place today, and the CBLDF and ALAhave written a letter in support of the book being left on the shelf:

Like any book in the school library, Stuck in the Middle may not be right for every student at Buckfield Junior-Senior High School.  But the library has a responsibility to represent a broad range of views in its collection and to meet the needs of everyone in the community – not just the most vocal, the most powerful, or even the majority.  While parents and community members may – and should – voice their concerns and select different materials for themselves and their children, those objecting to particular books should not be given the power to restrict the rights of other students and families to access the material.


We’d agree that the book in question is frank and honest, but not exploitive. And it really does directly address the agony and uncertainty of those years in an unforgettable way — unforgettable being the operative word for Schrag’s own story in the book about how she dealt with an unexpected bodily function while on a boating trip. We’ve never thought about back packs the same since.

Marjorie Liu and Mike Perkins Are the New Astonishing X-Men Team

By Todd Allen

Over on their “Mystery Project Liveblog,” Marvel has announced the new team on Astonishing X-Men.  Taking over with issue #48 in March are Marjorie Liu and Mike Perkins.

Lui, best known to the world at large as a NY Times Bestselling writer of supernatural romance novels, has been writing for Marvel for a few years.  She’s had runs on NYX, Daken: Dark Wolverine, X-23 and Black Widow.  Which is to say, she’s been on the fringes of the X-universe for a few years.

Perkins has been around a lot longer and probably better known as an inker.  He’s been part of the Captain America artist rotation in recent years and has been doing full art on The Stand (Stephen King) series of mini-series.

This iteration of Astonishing will be part of “Team Wolverine,” per the recent split in the X-world.  Team members will be the new Shi’Ar Warbird, Northstar, Gambit, Iceman, Cecelia Reyes and Karma.

The initial villains will be the Marauders.

The theme of the first issue is “moving,” both moving in and moving on. Northstar and his boyfriend Kyle move to New York. Gambit and Cecelia are circling around each other. “It’s about relationships.” -Marjorie Liu

Astonishing X-Men will remain somewhat “off in it’s own corner” in regards to Schism. It will have effects on Team Wolverine in other books, but “this is not the place you’ll see a big Wolverine vs. Cyclops fight.”

“Astonishing is a bit more adult, a bit more graphic.” -Marjorie Liu

Dark Horse to reprint the complete CHANNEL ZERO

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CHANNEL ZERO, Brian Wood’s mash-up of cyber imagery, sloganeering, and popular dissent, is getting a new edition from Dark Horse. This marks its third edition: it debuted as a miniseries from Image in 1997, with a collection following. Then it moved to AIT/PlanetLar, where it has been OOP for a while.

The new book will reprint the original GN and its sequel, JENNIE ONE (with art by Becky Cloonan), two volumes of related design, and various and sundry other rarities.

CHANNEL ZERO is something of a classic of the “WEF Era” of creator driven publishing — it’s nice to see it coming back in a definitive collection. And with Wood’s oeuvre now moving over to Dark Horse, it makes a lot of sense to get a new edition out.

Out of print and unavailable to readers for more than three years, Dark Horse Comics is giving new life to a critically acclaimed classic with the complete collection of Brian Wood’s Channel Zero!

DMZ and The Massive creator Brian Wood launched an all-out assault on the comics medium in 1997 with Channel Zero, an influential, forward-thinking series that combined art, politics, and graphic design in a unique way. Hitting on themes of freedom of expression, hacking, cutting-edge media manipulation, and police surveillance, it remains as relevant today as it did back then.

The Channel Zero collection contains the original series; the prequel graphic novel, Jennie One (illustrated by Becky Cloonan); the best of the two Public Domain design books; and almost fifteen years of extras, rarities, short stories, and unused art. Also featuring the now-classic Warren Ellis introduction and an all-new cover by Wood, this is the must-have edition. A blistering take on media control in a repressive future America!

“Channel Zero is literally the start of my comics career, the first proper comic I ever made, and as such as informed everything that’s come after it, especially DMZ and the upcoming THE MASSIVE.” Tells Brian Wood.  “It also put me and Becky Cloonan together, helping build a creative partnership that has lasted a decade.  This edition here is the definitive one, including everything worth printing, including a color section that includes the original covers to the single issues.”

DC's Rood Talks About Digital Sales

By Todd Allen

Over at CBR, Kiel Phigley had a chat with John Rood, DC’s Executive VP-Sales, Marketing and Business Development, about DC’s digital sales and it’s worth taking a closer look at.

The biggest question, which is still utterly unanswered, is how many copies these digital comics are selling.  The second biggest question is where these sales are coming from and Rood does get into that, just a little:

Yeah, anecdotally there’s every type of digital reader under the sun. There are folks who bought plenty of physical product that week but also wanted it digitally because of their media consumption habits. Then there are folks who don’t know where their local comic shop is. So our consumers run the gamut. What I expected to find in our primary research through Neilsen NRG was some staggering difference in terms of demography or age or history in the comics category or the genre, but I haven’t seen anything like that that’s jumped out. We’ll be sharing more specifics with the retailers at the ComicsPRO convention on February 9, but there won’t be anything shocking. It’ll be, “Hey look, there’s a measure of physical traffic to the stores that is current plus new plus lapsed readers, and then there’s a measure of self-reported readership from our digital resources that is a balance of current, new and lapsed.”

I still am delighted that this is a genre — and I trust other publishers are equally delighted — where we’re not talking about cannibalizing [the core business]. We’re not talking about one platform being a replacement for the other. Who else in print can say that? Not “Businessweek” or “The Washington Post.” No one else can say that the addition of a new medium or platform or consumption behavior has been additive to your business

To a lot of people, that’s going to be a “duh,” followed by a “that’s because the Direct Market has a smaller footprint than the newsstand.”  But, there seem to be a fair amount of Direct Market people that need to hear that.

The next biggest question is what’s selling?  Rood does a little bit of a soft shoe routine on this:

But consistency is the right word — especially consistency in the digital end. There has been no shake up of numbers when you look at the percentage of physical sales by title. So if something is selling 6% of its physical sales digitally for issues #1 and 2, then it’s about 6% in issues #3 and 4. And if another title has been selling at 16% of print sales in the early titles, the latter titles have stayed at the same level. So there’s been no fluctuation. And the fact is that the makeup is largely the same and the performances you’ve seen in the data provided is largely the same in digital as it is in physical, yet we know from both anecdotal and primary research that this is a different audience. It suggests that the people might be different [for digital and print] but their tastes and their demos are largely the same.

Please note, he’s not saying that number of digital copies sold is proportional to print across the board.  He’s saying change in digital sales from month to month is consistent with the change in print orders from month to month (with the assumption that the change in orders reflects the change in retail sales).  This suggests that the digital audience decides they don’t like a title and drop it or hear buzz and start picking up a new book in much the same way the print audience does.  It also lends some credence to the theory that you have one audience, it’s just that some of that audience prefers a different reading format.

As to what’s selling, here’s the Top 10 List:

  1. Justice League #1
  2. Batman #1
  3. Detective Comics #1
  4. Action Comics #1
  5. JusticeLeague #2
  6. Batman #2
  7. Detective Comics #2
  8. Justice League #3
  9. Action Comics #2
  10. Superman #1

Rood does mention that people do tend to go to brands they recognize, like Superman and Batman, but this list is interesting.  By giving us the top 10 for the first 3 months, it masks how different things look for the line as a whole.  Justice League looks to be the digital bestseller by a significant margin, the third issue’s sales lapping the second issue of Action Comics.  Detective Comics, one of the pleasant surprises of the relaunch, is even more popular (relatively speaking) in digital.  Superman #1 also pops up higher than you’d expect it, though you imagine it’s having sales drops in proportion to its less well-received print counterpart.  What are we not seeing here?  Green Lantern and Flash.  Green Lantern, in particular, had print orders a lot higher than Detective Comics and Superman, but Green Lantern #1 didn’t crack the top 10.

Now, if we go by familiar brands, Justice League had a popular cartoon and has all the DC mainstays in it.  Batman has had MUCH better films than Superman has of late… and more cartoons.  Use that logic and the sales fragments make perfect sense.  The “new” readers and perhaps some of the lapsed ones are most likely to go with the familiar.  It’s why Transformers is one of the largest franchises in digital comics.

It would be interesting to see where a few books like Batwing and I… Vampire fall in the digital rankings.  Books that aren’t on the top of the print heat that might inspire some more mainstream curiosity.  Normally, I’d be curious how the science fiction branded comics would be doing in digital, but DC doesn’t have a designated “cosmic” wing like Marvel does.  Green Lantern is probably the closest to that corner, but it’s pretty firmly branded as plain old superhero in the eyes of the mass audience.

Finally, Rood talks a little about anticipating “digital collections,” which is to say, “digital tpbs.”  He’s right in that it’s WAY too early to get a handle on how the Amazon Fire collections will do, but the mass audience has traditionally liked to get their comics in book form, not serial.  With serial format now more easily available to the digital reading audience, we’re about a year away from being able to better evaluate what the serial vs. collection patterns of the digital audience are.

IDW changes: Goldstein promoted, White leaving

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IDW has announced that Greg Goldstein has been promoted to the rank of president. In a release, Goldstein is credited with helping drive much of IDW’s growth in new business channels. Publisher Ted Adams will continue to oversee overall strategy while Goldstein takes on more of the day-to-day operations of the company.

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In addition, Anna Maria White, IDW’s Director of Marketing and PR, is leaving to start her own marketing company.

PR below:

IDW Publishing, an award-winning leader in graphic novel and book publishing, announced today that Chief Operating Officer Greg Goldstein has been promoted to the position of president in recognition of his successes in helping grow the company’s business and presence in the industry. IDW co-founder Ted Adams will continue to drive overall strategy in his role as chief executive officer and publisher.

“With Greg’s help, we’ve been able to expand both the front list and back list of IDW’s publishing program,” said Mr. Adams. “I am excited about what the future holds for the company with Greg as president.”

With more than 20 years experience in entertainment, sports and video game publishing, Mr. Goldstein as president will continue to help expand IDW’s business, while maintaining oversight of the company’s day-to-day operations. Mr. Goldstein joined IDW in 2008 as the company’s first COO.

“Helping bring IDW to new heights has been very rewarding, both personally and professionally, and I am honored to take on this new role,” said Mr. Goldstein. “Each year at IDW has been better than the last, and I know we will continue that trend for many years to come, through our strategic expansion into new and growing categories, while increasing our core business of print and digital comics and books.”

As a company, IDW has grown impressively in recent years, expanding both its comics and book catalogs, and continuing its leadership in the digital space. Mr. Goldstein’s increased responsibility as president is part of the company’s strategy to explore potential acquisitions for growth.

“IDW has grown during each of the twelve years we’ve been in business to become one of the most successful publishers in the industry,” added Mr. Adams. “To further our success as a company, we are exploring new markets and potential acquisitions, and Greg’s role as president will allow me more time to focus on these avenues of expansion, while we continue to elevate our publishing program.”

The 2011 Eisner Award winner for Best Archival Collection/Project – Strips, Mr. Goldstein is a veteran transmedia entertainment executive with extensive experience in the publishing, interactive, and collectible categories, and tenures at Topps, Activision and Acclaim. A lifelong comics fan, Mr. Goldstein celebrated his 40th year of collecting last month, having attended his first comic book convention as a youngster in November 1971.

Must read: "A Seasonal Snapshot of Retail Funny Business"

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Over at TCJ, Patrick Rosenkrantz interviews four of comics finest indie retailers:, Meltdown, Desert Island, Quimby’s, and Counter Media. Although Rosenkrantz warns not to take this snapshot as more than that — he pointedly offers “no pie charts” — it’s still a valuable look at four stores that are passionate about their business and how they survive.

Meltdown operates in 14,000 square feet of retail space at a high rent address. Its carries all the latest comics, games, and graphic novels, along with a wide range of children and adult apparel, two display galleries, a comedy theater and after school classes in making comics. “We hope to be a nerd hub,” said Dominguez. All we need is a super hero knitting circle. I’ll do it. I’m down. We’re the Death Star of this shit, man. People have to come to us. We’re a destination store. We’re deeply embedded into our neighborhood, our community.”

Meltdown concentrates on its core customers and does what it can to encourage a continuing crop of comic consumers, said Dominguez. “If someone thinks that they’re going to make a buck as a hobbyist in consumer society, then they might as well close down now. It’s retail. We’re dollars and cents. The goal is to sell, not to show off your collection. It’s crazy – the wanting to create your own way of making a buck. I could go work for someone else, but I would die in a week. That will never happen. So I have to maintain and make sure by all means necessary that we continue to grow, adapt and cater with our core product, which is comic books.”


 

Jim Shooter: I did not write Avengers #200

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Not too long ago, we presented for your amusement several videos recapping the rather appalling events of AVENGERS #200, in which Ms. Marvel was kidnapped, drugged, and forcibly impregnated, and after giving birth to a reincarnation of her rapist, went off with him in a happy daze. The writers on the story are listed as Jim Shooter, David Michelinie, Bob Layton, and George Pérez but it’s been noted that in the years since, no one has actually taken credit for coming up with the story. It’s like that one round of blanks in the firing squad — every man can believe he is the innocent one.

Now over on his blog Jim Shooter has come out and confirmed that he’s wiped the entire incident from his memory:

I found my copy of Avengers #200. I read it. I agree with the consensus, it’s heinous. But, I don’t remember much about how it got that way.

I am credited not only as Editor in Chief but as one of the co-plotters. However, I didn’t see anything in the book that jogged my memory. No bits that I remember suggesting. No corrections of the sort I might have made to a plot passed before me.

But I did see many things I would have had changed if I’d seen the plot. For instance, leaving aside the Ms. Marvel mess for the nonce: Iron Man thinks it’s okay for the weird, mysterious child to be given a “laser torch” and electronic equipment so he can build a machine. What?! As the massive machine is being assembled, no one bothers to question what it is or does. What?! Trouble ensues. No kidding, really? Good grief.


Shooter offers a few hypotheses about the story’s origin — a feud between Michelinie and Chris Claremont being one possible motivation — and hints that Jim Salicrup might know more — definitely something to remember next time The Beat sees him!

There is perhaps some comfort all these years later in knowing that Shooter offers a flat-out apology:

But, in those days, in any case, the buck stopped at my desk. I take full responsibility. I screwed up. My judgment failed, or maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention. Sorry. Avengers #200 is a travesty.

Eddie Campbell's DAPPER JOHN now available for iPad

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Eddie Campbell’s long out of print DAPPER JOHN has been released as an iPad app, he writes:

In the Days of the Ace Rock’n’Roll Club was a book, or an ongoing series of 7-page stories which I drew between March 1978 and March 1979. The stories interlocked in various ways, with characters from one piece showing up in another. The ‘arc’, as we say nowadays, came to a logical conclusion after the eighth story, by which time Dapper John had emerged as the main character. A proto-Alec MacGarry appears as the second key character. It was in these pages that I started to get the idea of using autobiography as a starting point for a big serious book.


The “app,” as Campbell refers to it with a touch of humour, is published by iEnglish, a Hong Kong-based producer of various ebooks. At a price of $9.99, this would seem to be a logical step in digitization of unavailable comics material.

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Campbell notes that he now owns an iPad — when he can get it away from his daughter. We eagerly await the 19-part, 70,000 word Campbellian analysis of how comics are read on the gadget, which will surely be the last word on the subject.

Denise Mina will adapt THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO for comics

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Scottish novelist/playwright Denise Mina has been chosen to adapt the Millennium Trilogy into comics, it was revealed in The Scotsman. Known as a purveyor of “Tartan Noir,” Mina already has solid comics cred, having written a year’s worth of HELLBLAZER and A SICKNESS IN THE FAMILY for the Vertigo Crime line.

The GN adaptations of Stieg Larsson’s hugely successful books, starring investigator/hacker Lisbeth Salander, were announced back in October — to be published by DC’s Vertigo imprint — but no further details have been released. The first book in the comics adaptation will be out in March — each novel will be split into two GNs for a total of six books.

Mina said she was “delighted” to have been chosen to refashion the books for a new audience. “There are going to be six graphic novels, two for each book. It will take two to three years and it just means I will be writing comics when I’m not writing novels.”

[snip] Mina is the author of nine novels with strong female characters, including Field of Blood, which was recently adapted into a television drama by the BBC, and she is also a bestseller in Sweden. She said she was a great admirer of the Larsson novels but planned to make the character of Salander tougher and less attractive.


Well, that should be interesting!

The late author Larsson was apparently a comics readers, and one of his family members said he would have approved of the adaptation.

Larsson’s books have sold more than 60 million copies worldwide. A Swedish film trilogy based on the books was an international hit; the US version, directed by David Fincher and starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig, is due to open on December 21.