§ First off, a huge APOLOGY to Douglas Wolk, whose answers to our 2009 survey were inadvertently dropped. Douglas’s thoughts were too pertinent and cogent to leave out, so we’ve put them at the end of Part III: just scroll down.
§ Disney is assailing Castle Boy again, writes Peter Sanders in the WSJ. Although girls swoon for Disney franchises from Princesses to High School Musical, reaching boys 6-14 is more elusive. (Previous attempts we remember off the top of our heads was a long ago “Tough Michey Mouse” and picking up the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.) This time, Disney is rebranding the Toon Disney channel as Disney XD. (One assumes those letters must have tested well.)
Using both television and a new Web portal, Disney hopes to introduce boys to a host of new live-action and animated shows, original movies, new music acts and games. And Disney executives also hope to leverage boys’ love of sports, using the company’s ESPN brand, which will likely collaborate on original programming and other sports-themed topics for Disney XD. (Disney says the letters don’t refer to anything.)
On Feb. 13, Disney will rebrand its existing animation channel, Toon Disney, as Disney XD and will launch the new action-adventure show “Aaron Stone,” that it hopes will become the channel’s centerpiece. The show melds aspects of what the company says boys are interested in: action, adventure and videogames. Another new show, “Zeke & Luther” will be a comedy filmed in quasidocumentary style about two best friends trying to become world-famous skateboarders.
Interestingly, the “CB” word isn’t mentioned.
§ If you don’t have time to read Newsarama and CBR, check Twitter, or attend panels this article will bring you up to speed on what Marvel and DC are up to in ’09, although it’s a bit harsh on Final Crisis.
§ Kyle Baker is doing some licensed comic called Webcarzz and reading a quote from Baker in a press release is a rather weird experience:
‘The world of cars and racing ‘ from a kids perspective ‘ is something that I am very interested in exploring,’ remarked Baker. ‘As both a father and an artist, I can appreciate the imaginative design of the Webcarzz world with its bold shapes and colors. It is the perfect setting for a new comic book.’
‘Comic books and graphic novels are increasingly used to fuel new brands and intellectual properties in the video game space ‘ and our relationship with Kyle is sure to spark the interest of consumers all around the world,’ said Nique Fajors, Executive Vice President, Webcarzz Inc. ‘Kyle’s talent, combined with his exceptional sense of humor, will no doubt deliver an outstanding comic book that captures the vision and quality of the Webcarzz world and further entertains our consumers.’
But wait what are Webcarzz, anyway?
Webcarzz) is the next evolution in casual massively multiplayer online games. Targeted towards boys ages 6-12, Webcarzz offers the competition of circuit track racing in a casual environment where all roads lead to fun.
Okay if all roads lead to fun, we’re there! Has Disney heard about these guys?
§ Tucker Stone looks at the PROJECT X manga which tell corporate tales of Nissan, Seven Eleven, and Cup Noodle. Tucker is less than impressed by our favorite, though, the epic Cup Noodle:
No, the only one of these comics that fails to do anything other than educate the reader on the corporate history of its chosen corporate venture[c] is “The Miracle of 8.2 Billion Served, The Magic Noodle, Nissin Cup Noodle.”[d] Whereas the other two manga take the intelligent tactic of presenting their stories by focusing on the young amateur businessmen struggling against the conformist corporate mentality of their superiors, depicting their struggles as little mini-dramas (of which the happy ending is assured by the first pages, where the success has been made EXCITEDLY CLEAR BY AN OMNISCIENT NARRATOR USING BOLD LETTERS), Nissin Cup Noodle instead focuses on the team forced to work on a project designed and run by one of the company’s corporate honchos, a man who is for some reason depicted at times as if he is mildly insane and/or willing to kill as punishment for failure.[e]
We’re puzzled that he failed to be impressed by this story of “personal prevalence,” esp. the scene where the designer struggles to find the perfect shape for a styrofoam noodle container, because we found it one of the most thrilling scenes in comics history, but you know, different strokes.
§ Finally, here’s a bit from the latest Dan DiDio interview about focus group testing.
7. In the decision-making process – in other industries, you always hear about focus groups – bringing an idea to a group of potential customers and see what they think about it. Do you have anything like that at DC? I know you have the panels that you like to do on Sundays at conventions, and see feedback in letters and message boards, but do you have any direct way of reaching out to fans and saying, “this is what we’re thinking of doing next year – how does it strike you?”
DD: No – we don’t. When I worked in animation – on the ABC Saturday morning lineup, we used to do focus testing for all of our Saturday morning cartoons. The reason why we did it, and the reason why you see it with other products and not comics primarily is because the amount of investment that is made on each individual show is greater than the investment than what we make on an individual comic book. Therefore the risk is greater, so in television, we were trying to reduce the level of risk by going out to focus groups, and going out to see if people think they’re on the right track for the material or not.
Like I said, we’re creating 55-65 comics on a monthly basis – on a non-returnable basis – so we can see how the sales work. Also, by putting out these 55-65 different books in different directions with different voices and different tonalities, that’s 55-65 different opportunities there – in some ways, that’s what a focus group does. If I put out 55 books, and I find a key group that’s working better than others, we build around those that are working. In some ways, that’s like a focus test.
§ Finally, Matthew Parris at the UK Times answers the question no one dared ask:
Domestic circumstances: Tintin does not, in fact, move in with his sailor-friend, Captain Haddock, until 1940 (The Crab With The Golden Claws). As is so often the case with male homosexual couples, a veil is drawn over how and where the couple met, but Tintin and his mincing toy dog Snowy are invited to share Haddock’s country home, Marlinspike Hall. The relationship, however, is plainly two-way, for although when Haddock first meets Tintin (before the sea captain’s retirement) he is drinking heavily and emotionally unstable, he is calmed over the years, settles down and is finally ennobled by his younger friend’s companionship when, in Tintin in Tibet, he offers to lay down his life for him.