§ Rob Salkowitz gives an overview of the various subscription based comics services including Marvel Unlimited, ComicBlitz and so on.
From Spotify and Apple Music to Netflix and Amazon Prime, huge chunks of the media distribution world are moving from paid downloads to monthly subscriptions. But since the early days of digital comics and graphic novels, most have been sold on a per-unit basis. Services such as Marvel Unlimited, Scribd and ComicBlitz now offer fans access to content rather than downloads. But it’s still too early to know whether these services can change consumer habits. Here’s a look at the principal players offering comics on the subscription model.
§ Carey Piersch is drawing an arc of Lumberjanes, and here’s her entrance interview. She is a very talented young cartoonist so keep an eye on her.
As the latest guest artist to head out to camp with the Lumberjanes, Carey Pietsch is well qualified. Not only does she know her way around a campfire, but her previous comic work includes a series of self-published mini-comics that combine exactly the sense of grandly fantastical and intimately personal that has made Lumberjanes one of the most important hit comics of the past couple of years.
§ The Unofficial SDCC blog reports that a few new hotels are opening in downtown San Diego, including the Pendry, which is being built on that once vacant lot on J street between 5th and 6th that was the scene of so many activations over the years. It will have 316 rooms, but won’t be open in time for SDCC ’16, so give up on that idea right now. However,
To the west, a 17-story, 400-room dual-branded Springhill Suites and Residence Inn by Marriott will be opening up in late February on the corner of West Broadway and Pacific Highway on Lane Field. The same group developing that hotel also just revealed to The San Diego Union-Tribune that they’re planning another hotel next door, which will be operated by the global chain InterContinental.
More hotels doesn’t mean it will be any easier to get a hotel room, however.
§ The USDCCB also reported on the Pre-reg badge sale a few weeks ago and apparently it was filled with glitches, blank screens and anxiety. And yet thousands of people got badges, so how bad could it have been? No one said this was going to be easy, people.
§ Speaking of SDCC, here’s a very interesting behind the scenes chat with Off the Wall, a company that specializes in wrapping buildings for marketing purposes. Among their biggest projects: those buildings at Comic-Con (but not the Hilton apparently.)
One of Off the Wall’s most visible recurring projects is signage for Comic-Con. “I started doing Comic-Con about five years ago,” Rocky states. “Each year we got more projects, and our HP printers enabled us to both speed up production and improve quality. With the older printers, for example, we couldn’t get a good black. Our new printers opened the door with our partner, Above All Media, to do some huge projects, including wrapping buildings. They turn to us to make sure that nothing is compromised – that we have the best possible quality and there is no damage to the integrity of the buildings. We use good products, and we test materials to ensure that they are right for the job.” The company’s YouTube video shows some of its work for Comic-Con 2015. In 2015, Off the Wall had a 40,000 square foot wrap and a 20,000 square foot wrap, as well as both interior and exterior signage. This included wrapping the entire PetCo Park, all four faces. “We didn’t have much lead time, and we were literally printing until the day we left,” Rocky says. “We worked all through the night and left at 9 AM. I don’t take the risk of shipping these materials. I would rather pack up the truck, keep it locked up and drive ourselves. It’s our livelihood, and if anything is lost or damaged in shipping, it is a big problem. There is no time to reprint.” The team had two days to get all of PetCo Park done. “That was the equivalent of working a full week in two days,” Rocky adds, “and we had about 10 people working on it.”
If you thought those buildings just wrapped themselves with Sean Bean’s face YOU THOUGHT WRONG. Here’s a video showing Off The Wall’s SDCC ’15 efforts:
§ And speaking of other cons, the Salt Lake City’s FanX spring event (March 24-26) just announced its first nerdlebrity guests:
The lineup so far includes “The Walking Dead” fan favorite Norman Reedus; Peter Davison, who plays the fifth incarnation of the Doctor in BBC’s “Doctor Who” series; John Rhys-Davies, the dwarf Gimli from “The Lord of the Rings” franchise; Summer Glau, who has starred in “Firefly,” “Serenity” and “Arrow”; Dean Cain, who portrayed Superman in the series “Lois & Clark”; and film and TV star Curtis Armstrong, with roles including “Risky Business” and “Revenge of the Nerds.” “
I’ve been hearing a lot of chatter that the SLC shows may be on the block to be acquired by some other convention outfit, but nothing solid.
§ If you’re in Cleveland this weekend, maybe go to Genghis Con, which has the best name of ANY con and a nice guest list led by Derf Backderf:
From 2 to 7 p.m., Sunday the cool people will be at the Screw Factory, 13000 Athens Ave., to see more than 50 artists selling their wares. The headliner is Derf, a guy way too big for local cons, but goes to Genghis Con every year because he loves the idea of promoting area comic talent. His two latest books, “Trashed” and “My Friend Dahmer” are worldwide hits, as witnessed by his numerous signings and appearances in Paris. Also among the many talented people there will be Gary Dumm, best known for his work with Harvey Pekar; John G., whose exotic art can be seen on those crazy Melt restaurant posters and his own “Lake Erie Monster” comics, and many more.
§ Apparently the Huffington Post is now running comics? They’ve teamed with Korean webcomic produced Spottoon for comics
With an innovative vertical-scrolling styled viewing experience, we plan on expanding the potential of webtoons (online comics) by incorporating sound effects and motion graphics into our works in the near future.” Chloe K. Kang, Spottoon’s marketing manager, wrote the Observer in an email. “Ultimately, we aim to become the international hub for comics by not only showcasing established comic works but also by searching for and cultivating new talent across the globe.”
However, writer Brady Dale wasn’t too impressed with the interface.
§ Apt. 3-G wrapped up a long run on the comics pages this weekend, as noted by several outlets, including The A.V. Club, which noted the strip’s odd appearance over the last few years.
But A3G had other problems: Under the stewardship of writer Margaret Shulock and nonagenarian artist Frank Bolle, the strip had lapsed into a strange, almost surreal state of incoherence. The original writer, Nicholas P. Dallis, and the original artist, Alex Kotzky, both died back in the 1990s. In the hands of the new creative team, plots became disjointed and unfollowable, and the artwork became stiff and minimalist, with characters nearly always depicted from the shoulders up and a few standard props (including a lamp and some drapes) decorating the otherwise eerily blank backgrounds.
Tom Spurgeon was more elegiac:
I liked reading the strips very much. It definitely has an unaffected, what-we-call-Lynchian quality where what you’re seeing and what you’re “hearing” as dialogue don’t match. The limited sets and slightly faded color choices make it a bit nightmarish, almost like the world is collapsing comic book “crisis” style around these increasingly feckless characters. It’s hard to believe there are more than a dozen “places” in the world these characters exist. Even the lettering gets in on the act, unrefined and delicate in a way that seems that much more at odds with a strip that had a real slickness to it even into recent memory: it’s like catching a dapper uncle with an untucked shirt, or an elegant aunt with smeared lipstick.
Artist Frank Bolle is 91 years old, and that might account for the frankly wonky lettering that helped carry the strip to its Viking funeral. But doing ANYTHING at age 91 is awesome and wonderful, so consider that an observation not a criticism.
I did not participate in the group strip reading, although I’ve linked to Apt. 3-G a few times here and always noted its oddball but endearing appearance. TBH, when I was a kid comic strips were held in universally higher regard than comics BOOKS, and one expected comics STRIPS to have a higher, godlike level of craft, so seeing lettering like that in a family newspaper just makes me smile. It turns out that newspaper strips from the turn of the century, at least as recorded by Peter Maresca in his Sunday Press collection Society is Nix, are a lot more like today’s indie comics, in terms of style AND substance. IN fact if you took those 1895 to 1915 cartoonists and brought them to the present day, they’d all be working for NoBrow or Koyama Press. And vice versa. Apt. 3-G definitely blurred the line, at least in appearance, between indies and comic strips, further proving that we’re all one nation, under comics.
§ A new comic shop has opened in Brookhaven, Mississippi. The closet shop was previously in Tylertown, so that’s got to be exciting for folks in Brookhaven.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.