§ Nice art: I know it’s an ad, but I sorta love this Michelangelo-inspired Daredevil ad.
§ ICv2 is currently running a series of interviews with various executives covering the resurgence of manga. We alerted you to the talk with Viz’s Kevin Hamric the other day. Here’s Todd McFarlane on his new line of Manga/anime figures and his general sense of the toy biz:
So they’re all making concentrated efforts now. It’s the biggest shift from last year’s Toy Fair to this one; they all want collector stuff; they all want geek stuff, even to the point that companies like Hasbro are saying those words at their shareholder meetings. Everybody knows it’s there; they just don’t know how to grab all of it. So they’re now looking at us and going “Todd, you seem to live in that space, why don’t you go get us some cool stuff and give us some stuff that the geeks will like?” Which is awesome, because it’s basically what I did for the first decade I was making toys. The problem the last decade has been that there haven’t been any places to market those kinds of things because everybody got conservative after a couple of stock market collapses. They decided, especially the Fortune 500 retailers, that they just needed the top five movie brands, and that’s it. They’re in, they’re out, and they don’t even want to touch the #6 brand. And now they’re saying, “Hey, maybe we need to get deeper into that and get a little geekier.”
§ And Dark Horse’s Michael Gombos and Carl Horn:
How have manga sales been in the comic store channel?
Horn: One of the things that’s changed… the manga boom in the 2000s was strongly associated with shojo manga and bringing in more female readers, but if you look at some of the most popular manga selling today, Berserk, which is certainly one of our bestsellers, titles like Attack on Titan or Tokyo Ghoul, these are quite dark series. They’re very violent, they’re full of action. They have a strong readership across both male and female readers. It also means there definitely is more interest in darker and more violent tales right now. This impacts the direct market, I believe, because the direct market is more associated with crossover with comics readers. You might say that darker stuff is perhaps more associated with American comics.
We can see, in some cases there are very sharp divides between the way a certain manga title might sell in the direct market and in the book market. For example our bestselling manga title by far, was Unofficial Hatsune Mix, but I would say less than 10% of its sales were in the direct market and 90% were sold in book stores. This may be because Unofficial Hatsune Mix is a very cute, light title and it may have more appeal to the “manga fans,” to more dedicated fans of Japanese pop culture in general than to people perhaps who are crossover readers of American comics. On the other hand, a title like Berserk or Gantz would have much more balanced sales between the direct and book store market because these are titles which are closer perhaps in feel and style to what people recognize in American comics.
According to the duo, the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service ombinus series has been a big hit, with a third printing coming, which is a surprise since the single volumes didn’t sell that well, although it was a critical hit. Berserk is also a big hit. They credit the switch to Random House for distribution as part of the success, as well as the general, ineffable resurgence of manga overall.
§ Angoulême-gate Update: that meeting with the Minister of Culture is ON for the 10th!
§ Susana Polo has an incredible piece on Frank Miller called The writer who made me love comics taught me to hate them
I realize that I have never read a Frank Miller book with an original female character who didn’t fall into two categories: sex worker — or victim of a brutal beating or murder. Even the first female Robin gets sliced up by a bad guy in the climax of The Dark Knight Strikes Again. Come to think of it, Miller also seems to enjoy characterizing his extra-creepy male villains as having ambiguous sexuality or gender. You’re not threatening, it seems, until you’re sexually threatening to a straight guy.
§ At Forbes, Lauren Orsinsi asksAm I Going To Get Arrested For Bringing All This Cartoon Porn Into The US? and examines the Christopher Handley case and other dangers with CBLDF director Charles Brownstein:
It started when my friend in Tokyo offered to take me shopping for doujinshi, a type of self-published, often erotic manga. Doujinshi are drawn by fans and not officially endorsed, but often feature stories and characters inspired by decidedly non-erotic Japanese cartoons. It’s sold in bookstores all over Japan, and there are two annual events attended by a combined million artists and buyers, dedicated to buying and selling doujinshi. See also: Why Adults Fall In Love With (And Spend Big Money On) Cartoon Characters However, it’s been eight years since an Iowa man was jailed for possession of erotic manga titles. In United States v. Handley, a 2008 Iowa district court case, a manga collector ended up serving six months for owning “one or more drawings or cartoons, that depict a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.”
§ Vox suggests the 13 best periodical comics to read. It’s a mix of Image, DC, Marvel and Valiant.
§ SLJ offers a list of quailty graphic non fiction
Well-researched graphic works provide period details, landscape, and artifacts in a manner that prose can only evoke. But beyond the concrete, graphic nonfiction allows the pictures to do the heavy lifting of telling emotionally complex stories by providing the recognizable subtlety of body language, italics and emphasis, and moments of pause to make readers feel, ponder, or connect. They encourage an intuitive understanding of the subtext, the circumstances, and the tone of real events. These recently published stories of real people allow teens to not simply read about important events or learn from the experiences of others, but also to absorb the depicted context in which they occurred.
§ And Blastr offers 13 thrilling graphic novels to read in March. I noted with some interest that this list, aside from Patience by Daniel Clowes, was almost all collections of periodical comics. There are some great graphic novels coming out this month, including the masterful The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, but they don’t seem to be getting as much attention in these book round-ups. Is it because book publishers are focusing their promo on book outlets? Or something else?
§ BUT Paul Levitz, former DC publisher has a piece called Facing the Graphic Novel Era which offers some strategies for setting up sections that are newcomer friendly in stores:
Doing some data mining recently and talking with old friends at ComicsPRO has focused me on the inescapable fact that we’ve entered the era of the graphic novel. While periodical comics are still around, and still an interesting creative and commercial form, the graphic novel is a clear majority of sales. Even more important, it’s the format preferred by a large majority of purchasers of comics material who aren’t regular comic shop customers. Retailers looking to expand their customer base are well advised to pay more attention to the category.
§ Speaking of Levitz, he has a website and columns there!
Forty years ago, DC Comics held its one and only Super DC Convention, and we gathered together the greats of the Golden Age for what was the last time. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster had just reached the final accommodation of their lives with DC, and were there smiling, along with Bob Kane, Shelly Mayer, Jack Schiff and many others. The then-still active team that was present included Julie Schwartz, Murray Boltinoff, Sol Harrison, Joe Orlando, Jack Adler, Joe Kubert, Curt Swan, Denny O’Neil, and the youngsters like me. Jenette Kahn had just arrived at DC a few weeks before, and the chaos that was the convention provided her first great bonding with the small team that was then the DC staff of about 30 folks. Virtually everyone who was invited attended, with the notable exception of Bob Kanigher, who was nervous to be on the Wonder Woman panel with his old boss, Shelly Mayer.
§ David Rees wants to make cartoons about this current political kerfuffles, but he can’t draw so he needs you!
§ CBR talks to the Valiant team who say they are ‘On Their Own Path,’ Won’t Follow Marvel & DC . Publisher Dinesh Shamdasani brings up an interesting point:
Dinesh Shamdasani: We also bring something I think no other publisher does. You see Faith, but you don’t know what we’re going to do with it, whereas with Marvel and DC you know what they’re planning on doing because it’s what they’ve always done before. We’re all superhero publishers, but with Marvel and DC it feels like they can get so trapped in what they were, that they start to break what they have. You see them killing characters every quarter, rebooting the books every two years, and here we are at little ol’ Valiant, publishing new books, featuring new leading characters like Faith.
§ I run links to many comic con previews here at The Beat, but never has a more perfect one been written than this previewing the very first comic-con to come to Marion. NC: Marion Comic Con, which is going to take up both floors of the community center, as seen in the utterly charming photo above, © MIKE CONLEY/MCDOWELL NEWS
“We know it’s a little small for a convention,” said Sherry Deel. Other similar conventions are usually held in bigger cities like Charlotte, Atlanta or Hickory. The Deels enjoy attending these events and all things related to comic books, graphic novels, science fiction and fantasy. They thought it would be a great idea to hold something like this locally. “I thought why not?” said Sherry Deel. “It’s time for Marion to have one.”
And Marion Comic Con has quickly taken off. “We have had a tremendous response,” said Sherry Deel. “I am thrilled with the way the community has come together behind this. There will be quite a few people there.”
I am being completely sincere. This sounds like such a nice, local event, with a local focus:
A raffle will be held to raise money for Ean Hughes, who is fighting leukemia.
Another addition will be the Klingon Assault Group. These are “Star Trek” fans who enjoy dressing up as Klingons.
Smokey Que’s will be on hand to sell barbecue lunches.
The admission price is $2. I hope it’s a big success for all involved.
§ This is another ad on the page with the Marion Comic Con story.
§ Uganda’s top cartoonist goes by the name of Snoogie, because he can:
Snoogie shares his art in the Uganda’s Daily Monitor newspaper as well as on his Facebook page, Snoggies World for Uganda, which has close to 30,000 followers. His cartoons offer insight into the political drama playing out in Uganda at the moment. Below are some of his works posted on his Facebook page.
§ Stan Lee may be cutting out Canadian trips, but a trip to Hawaii is just fine!
After making an appearance at last year’s inaugural Amazing! Hawaii Comic-Con back in September, the man who helped create most of Marvel Comics’ iconic superheroes — including Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer and Thor — will be at Other Realms in the Nimitz Center Friday through Sunday, April 15, 16 and 17.
§ The Daniel Clowes interviews are rolling out! here’s one from the East Bay Express
“I always imagine that Jack Kirby or somebody like that drew these huge visions where you can see behind the fabric of time,” he said. “And then you dig out your comics and try to find those things, and they don’t exist.” For Clowes, these faulty memories, “when the synapses in your brain are connecting in an odd way,” are an exciting part of the artistic process. “You make these correlations between things where you can’t even imagine what the connection is, and yet somehow it’s there on some deep level,” he said. “I was almost trying to draw that into the story in the way those crazy psychedelic images look, the idea of these intersecting thoughts and memories and impulses.”
§ New recruitment poster style ads for Captain America; Civil War have been released. The fight is real.
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.