Image Expo: Digital Remaining DRM-Free

by Bruce Lidl

Last week’s 2014 edition of the ImageExpo has generated a large amount of coverage for both new title announcements, and for the dearth of diversity among the presented creators. From a practical standpoint, Image Publisher Eric Stephenson and Business Development Head Ron Richards clearly got their money’s worth of publicity from the event, although with attendee ticket prices ranging from $20 to $50 (for “premium” access) a good chunk of the budget was surely covered beforehand. Stephenson admitted that the ImageExpo concept was inspired by what Richards (along with Isotope Comics owner James Sime) had done at the legendary MorrisonCon in September 2012, of an intimate, exclusive, creator-focused gathering of hard-core fans. The keynote portion of the event, though, was an explicit homage to the legendary Steve Jobs/Apple style press events (often held at the same or nearby venues in San Francisco), even if black turtlenecks were sadly lacking.

ImageExpo reminded me, however, of the experience of camping out for the day in one of the one company dedicated mid-size rooms at Comic-Con in San Diego. After the initial announcements and surprises, the bulk of the day was a series of comic creator panels with free-flowing Q and A portions. Of course, unlike at San Diego, attendees of ImageExpo did not have to compete for seats or worry about missing out on all the other amazing events going on at the same time. (They did, however, have to take a day off from work to be there on a Thursday, of course). The only distraction from the mostly entertaining panels were exclusive merchandise for sale and signing events, both of which had pretty long lines but seemed to be moving well and the fans seemed happy with what was offered.

I had been warned by Image PR prior to the Expo that there would be no digital specific announcements, but that turned out to be somewhat incorrect. Stephenson made clear in his keynote that they would continue to sell digital comics DRM-free from the Image website, and would also work with all the other major digital platforms, including comiXology, iBooks, and Google Play. The DRM-free “experiment” of selling digitally unprotected files in a wide variety of formats (including pirate friendly CBR and CBZ, along with more standard EPUB and PDF) has been a qualified “success,” although Stephenson did tell me that they did not have all the numbers in from the other distribution platforms to really compare. He did say they may do another Expo mid-year again when they have all the data. Naturally, the opacity of what happens at comiXology, not to mention Apple and Google, made the ability to experiment with prices and special offers a real “advantage” for Image’s home cooked sales strategy, something that echoes what Dark Horse’s digital policies. Left unmentioned were the problems Image has experienced with Apple over the censorship of its more sexually explicit titles including Saga, Sex and Sex Criminals.

The other digital news from ImageExpo was Robert Kirkman’s digital only title Tech Jacket (written by Joe Keatinge), with three issues made available for what Kirkman called “binge-reading.” Kirkman did later indicate that Tech Jacket would come out in print for those who preferred that option, himself included. More notable, however was Kirkman’s response to an audience question about the ultimate fate of his Marvel title, The Destroyer from 2009. Kirkman was rather unsatisfied by the experience and Marvel’s decision to let the title languish. In his inimitable style,  Kirkman urged his audience to obtain The Destroyer any way possible, including to, “Bittorrent the hell out of that book! It’s from Marvel, I don’t give a f*ck.”

DC shuffle: Scott Lobdell’s Teen Titans Ends, Kyle HIggins off Nghtwing

DC shuffle: Scott Lobdell’s Teen Titans Ends, Kyle HIggins off Nghtwinghttp://ift.tt/1j32eaz

3576481-tt_cv30wm.jpg

With solicitations due Tuesday, some DC talent adjustments are being announced, civilly and the proper way.

Via an announcement at his ComicVine column SCott Lobdell reveals that his end on Teen Titans is ending —and so is Teen Titans, with #30 and an annual.

I’m thrilled the DC is letting me wrap up the story on a high note as the TEEN TITANS square off against the N.O.W.H.E.R.E. in a final battle — bringing to conclusion the conflict that began in the first issue!

I’m certainly going to miss writing the adventures of Red Robin, Wonder Girl, Bunker and the rest of the gang. But as a huge, life long fan of the title I’m very excited about the whispered rumors I’m hearing race back and forth between New York and Burbank. (Trust me when I say we haven’t seen the last of everyone’s favorite teen team adventurers.)



Yeah no brainer there — expects some kinf of All News 52 Now! reboot of this.

And Kyle Higgins has confirmed he’s off Nightwing via FB:

So here’s something I’ve put off writing for a while. On Tuesday, DC solicits for April 2014 hit. They’ll introduce a new creative team on NIGHTWING which, sadly, I won’t be a part of.

It’s a weird feeling to leave the book after almost three years, and even though I would love nothing more than to write Dick Grayson for another fifty or sixty issues, it’s time to move on. (In that spirit, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention BATMAN BEYOND 2.0 andC.O.W.L…two of the books I am currently working on, which are also– both in their own way– helping to curb the Grayson withdrawal :-)

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Retrofit announces 2014 schedule and goes electronic

Retrofit announces 2014 schedule and goes electronichttp://ift.tt/1dz6Sxh

tumblr_mzceo8IHC01qibjs1o1_500.gif

2014 will be the year of adjustments. Mark my words. I believe Torsten was correct about 2013 being a game changing year when many things were tried and doors opened; 2014 will see people learning and fixing from from the blue sky projections of 2013.

And to get started, Box Brown’s Retrofit Comics—a grass roots line of small indie-focused “periodical” comics—has announced its 2014 slate AND a digital option via Gumroad, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. iTunes and Comixology are “coming soon!!!”

Retrofit Comics on Comixology — see what I mean? Gumroad is apparently the Etsy of pdf files, and I guess you’ll be hearing more about—i.e. I’ll be paying more attention to—this in the near future.

Meanwhile, Retrofit and their distribution partner Big Planet have announced plans for 2014 in the PR you can read below, with a ton of very talented cartoonists on tap. They’ve also announced a “Subscription drive.” So you might want to get over there for that.

You can also read some analysis of Retofit at Panel Patter, an excellent newish blog covering indie comics stuff. More on THAT later, too.

Independent publishing duo Retrofit Comics and Big Planet Comics announced their complete lineup for 2014, with a schedule of twelve comics over the course of the year. They also launched their subscription drive for 2014, a subscription model for receiving the comics as they are released, either in print or electronically.

The Retrofit Comics/Big Planet Comics 2014 publications will start with two debuting at the LA Zinefest in February, “Wicked Chicken Queen,” by breakout talent and Ignatz winner Sam Alden, and “Number 1″, the first volume of a continuing series by Retrofit Comics founder Box Brown.

Their other releases feature new work by Zac Gorman (Magical Game Time), Madéleine Flores (Help Us Great Warrior), Josh Bayer (Raw Power), Antoine Cossé (J.1137), Ben Constantine (Plump Oyster), Anne Emond (Comiques), Niv Bavarsky (Flesh Sequence), Jack Teagle (Jeff Job Hunter), and a second volume of Number by Box Brown. Other debuts will be spaced throughout the year, including at the MOCCA, TCAF, SPX, and CAB conventions.

Retrofit and Big Planet also announced their first translated work, a collection of three stories by Japanese creator Akino Kondoh. This book will present some of the cartoonist and animator’s best known work for Ax, Japan’s premier venue for alternative manga, and a recent story about life in New York City. Ryan Holmberg, from PictureBox’s 10 Cent Manga line, will provide the translation.

Box Brown, founder of Retrofit Comics, said, “2014 is going to be Retrofit’s best year to date. I’m really excited to work with so many talented artists.”

The Retrofit Comics / Big Planet Comics subscription model allows subscribers to order comics in advance, either for a full year or in 6-month batches, which are then mailed directly to subscribers as they are released. This year, an electronic subscription model is also being offered, in which PDFs are sent directly to the subscriber. Subscriptions can be ordered at http://ift.tt/1hvbB2f

Jared Smith, co-owner of Big Planet Comics, said, “One of the most appealing things was to get a regular release of cool new comics out to the public. Our subscription model really supports us and our fans, and I’m super excited by the lineup we’ve assembled for 2014.”

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Just the nerd cetagories in the 2014 Oscar nominattons

Just the nerd cetagories in the 2014 Oscar nominattonshttp://ift.tt/1asNTSd

201401161258.jpg

Just in case you didn’t get up to see Thor announce this year’s Academy Award nominations—Inside Llewyn Davis wuz robbed!—here’s a cheat sheet to just the ones that nerds are interested in:

Best Animated Feature:

The Croods

Despicable Me 2

Ernest & Celestine

Frozen

The Wind Rises

While Frozen is a lock for this, it’s good to see Miyazaki get a nod with his supposed swan song. Hopefullre prepping for the MArch 2 ceremony won’t take time away from his work on his new manga.

Best Visual Effects:

Gravity

The Hobbit: The Desolation

Iron Man 3

The Lone Ranger

Star Trek Into Darkness

While it’s hard to see how Gravity won’t win this, the fact that we will now say “Oscar-nominated The Long Ranger” still somehow makes me sad.

201401161258.jpg

Best Short Film, Animated:

FERAL, Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden

GET A HORSE!, Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim

MR HUBLOT, Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares

POSSESSIONS, Shuhei Morita

ROOM ON THE BROOM, Max Lang and Jan Lachauer

As y u know, this is one of the “office pool tie breaker” categories, although increased scrutiny in the Internet era makes it easier to call. The Mickey Mouse short GET A HORSE! would see the front runner since it’s the only one people have heard of, but it wont’ be our official pick until we investigate further.

In friends-of-comics nominations, John Ridley, author of the HIGHLY UNDERRATED mini-series The AMerican WAy, was nominated forBest Adapted Screenplay for 12 Years a Slave.

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National Cartoonists Society honors RUss Heath with the Milton Caniffs Award

National Cartoonists Society honors RUss Heath with the Milton Caniffs Awardhttp://ift.tt/1kEn44f

Heath-Self-Portrait.jpg

The NCS has just announced that Russ Heath will receive The Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award . The Caniff is presented to a cartoonist for “a lifetime of outstanding and accomplished work to a cartoonist who has not previously won the organization’s highest honor, the Reuben Award.”

GiveTake_self.jpg

Heath is best known for his DC war comics, but he has a lengthy varied career—including work with Will Elder and Harvey Kurtzman on Little Annie Fanny and stuff for Marvel and just about every other publisher—beginning at age 16 in 1944. He was voted into Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2004 and won the Sergio Award by the Comic Art Professional Society in 2010. He’s definitely a comics legend and seeing him honored like this is a nice capstone for him.

all-american-men-of-war-94-russ-heath.jpg

sea.devils-01-710x1024.jpg

It wasn’t until I read this announcement that I put into place the fact that Heath drew those ads for Roman and Revolutionary war plastic soldiers that adorned just about every comic of the 60s. The things you learn on the internet.
Roman-Soldiers-Ad-1024x694.jpg

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Comic-Con announces 20 more guests

Comic-Con announces 20 more guestshttp://ift.tt/1dyWyVU

201401161213.jpg

More guests have been announced, as a reminder that this is still the biggest COMICS based event in North America. It’s nice to see some veterans line June Brigman and Dixon getting the spotlight:

June Brigman, artist, co-creator, Power Pack

Mark Brooks, cover artist, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers

Colleen Coover, artist, co-creator, Bandette

Chuck Dixon, writer, Batman, Airboy

Francesco Francavilla, writer/artist, The Black Beetle, Afterlife with Archie

Brian Haberlin, artist, Witchblade, Anomaly

Gregg Hurwitz, author, Tell No Lies, Batman: The Dark Knight

Batton Lash, writer/cartoonist, Supernatural Law, The First Gentleman of the Apocalypse

Jim Lee, co-publisher, DC Entertainment; artist, Justice League, Superman Unchained

Paul Levitz, editor, former publisher, DC Comics; writer, World’s Finest

Sara Mayhew, writer/artist, Legend of the Ztarr

Michelle Nolan, comics/pop culture historian, Love on the Racks, Ball Tales

Denny O’Neil, writer/editor, Batman, Green Lantern/Green Arrow

John Picacio, artist, A Song of Ice and Fire, Elric of Melnibone

Mimi Pond, cartoonist, Over Easy

Stan Sakai, creator, writer, cartoonist, Usagi Yojimbo

Jeff Smith, creator, writer/artist, Bone, RASL, Little Mouse Gets Ready

J. Michael Straczynski, creator, writer, Ten Grand, Sidekick, The Adventures of Apocalypse Al

Maggie Thompson, writer/editor/comics historian, Comics Buyer’s Guide

Paul Tobin, writer, co-creator, Bandette, Colder

#call_to_action h4{padding:0px 5px;}

DC shuffle: Scott Lobdell’s Teen Titans Ends, Kyle HIggins off Nghtwing

3576481-tt_cv30wm.jpg

With solicitations due Tuesday, some DC talent adjustments are being announced, civilly and the proper way.

Via an announcement at his ComicVine column SCott Lobdell reveals that his end on Teen Titans is ending —and so is Teen Titans, with #30 and an annual.

I’m thrilled the DC is letting me wrap up the story on a high note as the TEEN TITANS square off against the N.O.W.H.E.R.E. in a final battle — bringing to conclusion the conflict that began in the first issue!

I’m certainly going to miss writing the adventures of Red Robin, Wonder Girl, Bunker and the rest of the gang. But as a huge, life long fan of the title I’m very excited about the whispered rumors I’m hearing race back and forth between New York and Burbank. (Trust me when I say we haven’t seen the last of everyone’s favorite teen team adventurers.)


Yeah no brainer there — expects some kinf of All News 52 Now! reboot of this.

And Kyle Higgins has confirmed he’s off Nightwing via FB:

So here’s something I’ve put off writing for a while. On Tuesday, DC solicits for April 2014 hit. They’ll introduce a new creative team on NIGHTWING which, sadly, I won’t be a part of.

It’s a weird feeling to leave the book after almost three years, and even though I would love nothing more than to write Dick Grayson for another fifty or sixty issues, it’s time to move on. (In that spirit, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention BATMAN BEYOND 2.0 andC.O.W.L…two of the books I am currently working on, which are also– both in their own way– helping to curb the Grayson withdrawal :-)

Retrofit announces 2014 schedule and goes electronic

tumblr_mzceo8IHC01qibjs1o1_500.gif

2014 will be the year of adjustments. Mark my words. I believe Torsten was correct about 2013 being a game changing year when many things were tried and doors opened; 2014 will see people learning and fixing from from the blue sky projections of 2013.

And to get started, Box Brown’s Retrofit Comics—a grass roots line of small indie-focused “periodical” comics—has announced its 2014 slate AND a digital option via Gumroad, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. iTunes and Comixology are “coming soon!!!”

Retrofit Comics on Comixology — see what I mean? Gumroad is apparently the Etsy of pdf files, and I guess you’ll be hearing more about—i.e. I’ll be paying more attention to—this in the near future.

Meanwhile, Retrofit and their distribution partner Big Planet have announced plans for 2014 in the PR you can read below, with a ton of very talented cartoonists on tap. They’ve also announced a “Subscription drive.” So you might want to get over there for that.

You can also read some analysis of Retofit at Panel Patter, an excellent newish blog covering indie comics stuff. More on THAT later, too.

Independent publishing duo Retrofit Comics and Big Planet Comics announced their complete lineup for 2014, with a schedule of twelve comics over the course of the year. They also launched their subscription drive for 2014, a subscription model for receiving the comics as they are released, either in print or electronically.

The Retrofit Comics/Big Planet Comics 2014 publications will start with two debuting at the LA Zinefest in February, “Wicked Chicken Queen,” by breakout talent and Ignatz winner Sam Alden, and “Number 1″, the first volume of a continuing series by Retrofit Comics founder Box Brown.

Their other releases feature new work by Zac Gorman (Magical Game Time), Madéleine Flores (Help Us Great Warrior), Josh Bayer (Raw Power), Antoine Cossé (J.1137), Ben Constantine (Plump Oyster), Anne Emond (Comiques), Niv Bavarsky (Flesh Sequence), Jack Teagle (Jeff Job Hunter), and a second volume of Number by Box Brown. Other debuts will be spaced throughout the year, including at the MOCCA, TCAF, SPX, and CAB conventions.

Retrofit and Big Planet also announced their first translated work, a collection of three stories by Japanese creator Akino Kondoh. This book will present some of the cartoonist and animator’s best known work for Ax, Japan’s premier venue for alternative manga, and a recent story about life in New York City. Ryan Holmberg, from PictureBox’s 10 Cent Manga line, will provide the translation.

Box Brown, founder of Retrofit Comics, said, “2014 is going to be Retrofit’s best year to date. I’m really excited to work with so many talented artists.”

The Retrofit Comics / Big Planet Comics subscription model allows subscribers to order comics in advance, either for a full year or in 6-month batches, which are then mailed directly to subscribers as they are released. This year, an electronic subscription model is also being offered, in which PDFs are sent directly to the subscriber. Subscriptions can be ordered at http://retrofit.storenvy.com/

Jared Smith, co-owner of Big Planet Comics, said, “One of the most appealing things was to get a regular release of cool new comics out to the public. Our subscription model really supports us and our fans, and I’m super excited by the lineup we’ve assembled for 2014.”

Just the nerd cetagories in the 2014 Oscar nominattons

201401161258.jpg

Just in case you didn’t get up to see Thor announce this year’s Academy Award nominations—Inside Llewyn Davis wuz robbed!—here’s a cheat sheet to just the ones that nerds are interested in:

Best Animated Feature:
The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
Frozen
The Wind Rises

While Frozen is a lock for this, it’s good to see Miyazaki get a nod with his supposed swan song. Hopefullre prepping for the MArch 2 ceremony won’t take time away from his work on his new manga.

Best Visual Effects:
Gravity
The Hobbit: The Desolation
Iron Man 3
The Lone Ranger
Star Trek Into Darkness

While it’s hard to see how Gravity won’t win this, the fact that we will now say “Oscar-nominated The Long Ranger” still somehow makes me sad.

201401161258.jpg

Best Short Film, Animated:
FERAL, Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden
GET A HORSE!, Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim
MR HUBLOT, Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares
POSSESSIONS, Shuhei Morita
ROOM ON THE BROOM, Max Lang and Jan Lachauer

As y u know, this is one of the “office pool tie breaker” categories, although increased scrutiny in the Internet era makes it easier to call. The Mickey Mouse short GET A HORSE! would see the front runner since it’s the only one people have heard of, but it wont’ be our official pick until we investigate further.

In friends-of-comics nominations, John Ridley, author of the HIGHLY UNDERRATED mini-series The AMerican WAy, was nominated forBest Adapted Screenplay for 12 Years a Slave.

National Cartoonists Society honors Russ Heath with the Milton Caniff Award

Heath-Self-Portrait.jpg

The NCS has just announced that Russ Heath will receive The Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award . The Caniff is presented to a cartoonist for “a lifetime of outstanding and accomplished work to a cartoonist who has not previously won the organization’s highest honor, the Reuben Award.”

GiveTake_self.jpg

Heath is best known for his DC war comics, but he has a lengthy varied career—including work with Will Elder and Harvey Kurtzman on Little Annie Fanny and stuff for Marvel and just about every other publisher—beginning at age 16 in 1944. He was voted into Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2004 and won the Sergio Award by the Comic Art Professional Society in 2010. He’s definitely a comics legend and seeing him honored like this is a nice capstone for him.

all-american-men-of-war-94-russ-heath.jpg

sea.devils-01-710x1024.jpg

It wasn’t until I read this announcement that I put into place the fact that Heath drew those ads for Roman and Revolutionary war plastic soldiers that adorned just about every comic of the 60s. The things you learn on the internet.
Roman-Soldiers-Ad-1024x694.jpg

Comic-Con announces 20 more guests

201401161213.jpg

More guests have been announced, as a reminder that this is still the biggest COMICS based event in North America. It’s nice to see some veterans line June Brigman and Dixon getting the spotlight:

June Brigman, artist, co-creator, Power Pack

Mark Brooks, cover artist, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers

Colleen Coover, artist, co-creator, Bandette

Chuck Dixon, writer, Batman, Airboy

Francesco Francavilla, writer/artist, The Black Beetle, Afterlife with Archie

Brian Haberlin, artist, Witchblade, Anomaly

Gregg Hurwitz, author, Tell No Lies, Batman: The Dark Knight

Batton Lash, writer/cartoonist, Supernatural Law, The First Gentleman of the Apocalypse

Jim Lee, co-publisher, DC Entertainment; artist, Justice League, Superman Unchained

Paul Levitz, editor, former publisher, DC Comics; writer, World’s Finest

Sara Mayhew, writer/artist, Legend of the Ztarr

Michelle Nolan, comics/pop culture historian, Love on the Racks, Ball Tales

Denny O’Neil, writer/editor, Batman, Green Lantern/Green Arrow

John Picacio, artist, A Song of Ice and Fire, Elric of Melnibone

Mimi Pond, cartoonist, Over Easy

Stan Sakai, creator, writer, cartoonist, Usagi Yojimbo

Jeff Smith, creator, writer/artist, Bone, RASL, Little Mouse Gets Ready

J. Michael Straczynski, creator, writer, Ten Grand, Sidekick, The Adventures of Apocalypse Al

Maggie Thompson, writer/editor/comics historian, Comics Buyer’s Guide

Paul Tobin, writer, co-creator, Bandette, Colder